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scarlet skin, more or less clouded with violet, surrounds the eye, continued from scarlet caruncles on the base of the beak; the top of the head is crested; the feathers of the body are larger, more lax, softer, and less closely compacted together than in the common duck, and seem to indicate less aquatic habits. The male far surpasses the female in size; there are no curled feathers in his tail.
In habits, the musk-duck presents nothing very different from the other species, excepting that the male is fierce and quarrelsome; when enraged, its eyes and demeanour betray its violent emotions, it depresses its head, and utters hoarse notes in a deep tone. The flesh of this species, and also of the mixed breed, is said to be very good, but we have never tasted it.
With respect to the wild origin of the musk duck little seems to be definitely known, nor is it ascertained at what precise period it came into Europe. Most accounts refer to South America as its native country. Ray, in whose time it was known as a domestic bird in England, terms it Anas sylvestris Braziliensis, the wood duck of Brazil. Linnæus, in his Fauna Suecica; says, “It is reared on the farms of
the gentry, but it is not an indigenous bird in Sweden.” Marcgrave states the musk duck to be a native of Brazil and Guiana, and terms it Anas sylvestris, magnitudine anseris—a wood-duck of the size of a goose. Buffon
that these birds were introduced into France in the time of Belon, about 1540, who termed them Canes de Guinée.
THE DOMESTIC Goose.—The goose, like the duck, has been domesticated from time immemorial ; but its wild origin appears to be clearly ascertained. We may commence the history of this species by observing, that four European species of wild goose, closely allied to each other, are known to naturalists ; namely, - the white-fronted goose,* (Anser erythropus-Fleming; 4. albifrons-Bechst. ;) the bean goose, (Anser ferus Flem.; A. segetum--Steph. ;) the pink-foot goose, (Anser phoenicopus-Bartlett, in Proc. (Zool. Soc. 1839, p. 2;) and the grey-lag wild goose, (Anser palustris — Flem. ; Anser cinereus Meyer.) Of these, the first three are only periodical visitants to our island, and the temperate parts of Europe, and western Asia, arriving on the approach of winter, and retiring
* This species is also a native of North America.
to the high northern latitudes to breed on the return of spring. But the grey-lag wild goose, which is the origin of our domestic race, was once a permanent resident in our island, and bred in great numbers, in the fenny counties. From the causes alluded to in our notice of the wild duck, it is now entirely banished from its former haunts, and though a few small flocks visit our island during the winter, it is far more rarely to be met with, than either of the three preceding winter visitants.
Though partially migratory, the grey-lag cannot be considered as a high northern bird, for, according to M. Temminck, it seldom advances much beyond the fifty-third degree of north latitude, its geographical distribution extending over the central and eastern parts of Europe, northern Asia, and some parts of western Africa, where it haunts marshes, lakes, and the borders of inland seas.
Mr. Gould, in his birds of Europe, says, “The grey-lag is known to inhabit all the extensive marshy districts, throughout the temperate portions of Europe generally, its range northward not extending beyond the fifty-third degree of latitude, while southwards it extends to the northern portions of Africa
eastwardly to Persia, and, we believe, is generally dispersed over Asia Minor.”
The grey-lag exceeds the other species which we have alluded to, in size, and is sometimes found to weigh ten pounds; the general plumage is cinereous; the shoulders and rump, light grey; breast and belly, white, sometimes spotted with black; the bill, two and-a-half inches long; more robust, deeper, broader, and the laminæ much more developed than in the bean goose, and of a dull yellow, inclining to flesh colour towards the nail, which is white; in summer, the bill assumes a redder tint ; legs and feet, pale flesh colour; wings, when closed, even with the end of the tail. The young of this species are darker than the adults, but the grey upon the shoulders and rump, the form of the bill, and colour of the legs and feet, will always distinguish them from the young of any of the other species.
The domestic goose is a bird of no little importance. It not only figures with acceptance at the table, but its feathers are of great commercial value, and for the sake of them alone, thousands are kept in different counties, in order to meet, in some measure, the demands of the market, which nevertheless receives
supplies from foreign parts. The feathers of the body properly dressed and sorted are in great demand, as all know, for beds, cushions, pillows, etc. The quill feathers furnish us with a simple instrument, efficient for good or for evil, as he in whose hands it is may use it.
Among the ancient Britons, the goose, though probably kept in a tame state, was not eaten, as it would appear, from superstitious motives. On the occupation of this island by the Romans, these Druidical observances by degrees vanished, and we may well believe that when Britain became (with the exception of its extreme north) a
Roman province, neither fowls, hares, nor geese were exempted from death by the hands of the obdurate cook, the “ savus coquus," as Martial calls him.
Of the history of the goose in the Saxon era we can collect but little; even then, as it would seem, it was doomed to bleed at Michaelmas, and to the present day is Michaelmas a fatal time for geese. A roast goose upon the table on that day is a dish most undoubtedly " more majorum.” Nor is the plucking of live geese (a custom perhaps of Roman introduction) of less antiquity, as their quill