Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Duck, duck, goose

Bird mortality in winter can be high, although the beach certainly collects dead birds year around. (And some of the other birds will do the flesh-cleaning; the first time I saw an Atlantic puffin it was dead and being jabbed at by a herring gull.) This is a long tailed duck, a species that gathers off the western end of Nantucket by the tens of thousands this time of year.
You would think that a dead bird would be pretty easy to ID, but sometimes they are so far gone it’s hard to tell what it was. Also, it’s like looking at a “skin” as preserved bird remains are called in ornithological collections. There’s no life in the thing, literally (obviously) but also figuratively. Flat, drab, dead. There’s no comparision. Without the obvious tail visible in the first picture, I’d have been quite puzzled. As to the one in the pictures sandwiching this paragraph: by process of elimination, I think it’s an be an American black duck, but it looked small for that, and, frankly, for all its name, the feathers too dark. What do you think?

And this one was big enough for a goose. What feathers there were were all white, which leads me to think it was a domesticated goose.
Was this somebody's Christmas goose? I've never eaten one, so I don't know what they look like under the crispy skin and juicy meat. I thought about taking this pygostyle (fused tail vertebrae) home, but they weren't in such great condition.

No comments: