Overview

Distribution

Global Range: (Zero (no occurrences believed extant)) Nested probably in Labrador and possibly in the Gulf of St. Lawrence; winter range extended from the Ungava Peninsula to the Delaware River and perhaps Chesapeake Bay (Kirk, 1985 COSEWIC report).

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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Absent

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Absent

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Non-breeding

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North America
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Source: World Register of Marine Species

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Range Description

Camptorhynchus labradorius probably bred along the Gulf of St Lawrence and coastal Labrador, Canada, wintering from Nova Scotia south to Florida, USA (Gourdin 2009). The last confirmed specimen was collected off Long Island, New York, in 1875 (Chilton 1997), or possibly 1878 (Madge and Burn 1988).

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Range

NE North America. Extinct; last reported 1875.

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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Breeding habitat is unknown. Inshore distribution; used sheltered bays and harbors, as well as estuaries and even brackish ponds; apparently preferred shallow waters for foraging, particularly those over sandy substrate (Kirk, 1994).

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Birds presumably nested on sandbars and around sheltered bays and, in winter, foraged in shallow bays, harbours and estuaries (Chilton 1997).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Marine
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 0 (zero)

Comments: None remaining.

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Global Abundance

Zero, no individuals known extant

Comments: Last recorded in 1878. Historic population size is unknown, but apparently this duck never was common.

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NX - Presumed Extirpated

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NXN - Presumed Extirpated

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GX - Presumed Extinct

Reasons: Formerly ocuured along the margin of the northwestern Atlantic Ocean; extinct (last recorded in 1878), probably due mainly to human exploitation.

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EX
Extinct

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Symes, A. & Butchart, S.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species was formerly distributed along the northeast coast of North America, but it is now Extinct as a result of hunting. There are no records since the collection of the last specimen, in 1875.
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Threats

Degree of Threat: A : Very threatened throughout its range communities directly exploited or their composition and structure irreversibly threatened by man-made forces, including exotic species

Comments: Reasons for decline and extinction may include severe reduction in invertebrate prey, hunting for meat and feathers, and egg collecting. It has been speculated that this duck's unusual beak required specialized feeding, making it susceptible to environmental changes (e.g., food source) (Fuller 1987).

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Major Threats
Shooting and trapping on the winter quarters were certainly proximate factors in the species's extinction. Overharvest of birds and eggs on the breeding grounds could also have been a factor (Chilton 1997), and it is likely that ecosystem-level effects following the arrival of Europeans reduced the supply of available food (Gourdin 2009).

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Management

Global Protection: None. No occurrences appropriately protected and managed

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Wikipedia

Labrador Duck

The Labrador duck (Camptorhynchus labradorius) is an extinct North American bird.

Habitat[edit]

The Labrador duck migrated annually, wintering off the coasts of New Jersey and New England—where it favoured southern sandy coasts, bays, and inlets—and breeding in Labrador in the summer. John James Audubon's son reported seeing a nest belonging to the species in Labrador, but it is uncertain where it bred. Some believe that it may have laid its eggs on the islands in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.[2]

Other names[edit]

Illustration by John Gerrard Keulemans of a female and male
Schematic of male
Illustration by John James Audubon

The Labrador duck was also known as the pied duck and skunk duck, the former being a vernacular name that it shared with the surf scoter and the common goldeneye (and even the American oystercatcher), a fact that has led to difficulties in interpreting old records of these species. Both names refer to the male's striking white/black piebald coloration. Yet another common name was sand shoal duck, referring to its habit of feeding in shallow water. The closest evolutionary relatives of the Labrador duck are apparently the scoters (Melanitta).[3]

Diet[edit]

The Labrador duck fed on small molluscs, and some fishermen reported catching it on fishing lines baited with mussels.[2] The structure of the bill was highly modified from that of most ducks, having a wide, flattened tip with numerous lamellae inside. In this way it is considered an ecological counterpart of the North Pacific/North Asian Steller's eider. The beak was also particularly soft, and may have been used to probe through sediment for food.[2]

Another, completely unrelated, duck with similar (but even more specialized) bill morphology is the Australian pink-eared duck, which feeds largely on plankton, but also mollusks; the condition in the Labrador duck probably resembled that in the blue duck most in outward appearance.

Extinction[edit]

It is thought that the Labrador duck was always rare, but between 1850 and 1870, populations waned further.[2] Its extinction is still not fully explained. Although hunted for food, this duck was considered to taste bad, would rot quickly and fetched a low price. Consequently, it was not sought much by hunters. However, it is thought that the eggs may have been over-harvested, and it may have been subject to depredations by the feather trade in its breeding area as well. Another possible factor in the bird's extinction was the decline in mussels and other shellfish on which they are believed to have fed in their winter quarters, due to growth of population and industry on the Eastern Seaboard. Although all sea ducks readily feed on shallow-water molluscs, no Western Atlantic bird species seems to have been as dependent on such food as the Labrador duck.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Camptorhynchus labradorius". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Flannery, Tim (2001). A Gap in Nature. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press. pp. 60–61. ISBN 0871137976. 
  3. ^ Livezey, Bradley C. (1995). "Phylogeny and Evolutionary Ecology of Modern Seaducks (Anatidae: Mergini)". Condor 97 (1): 233–255. doi:10.2307/1368999. 
  4. ^ Phillips, John C. (1922–1926): A Natural History of Ducks. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, volume 4, pp. 57–63.

Further reading[edit]

  • Chilton, Glen (2009): The Curse of the Labrador Duck: My Obsessive Quest to the Edge of Extinction. Simon and Schuster, ISBN 1-43910247-3.
  • Cokinos, Christopher (2000): Hope is the Thing with Feathers. New York: Putnam, pp. 281–304. ISBN 1-58542-006-9
  • Ducher, William (1894): The Labrador Duck – another specimen, with additional data respecting extant specimens. Auk 11: 4–12. PDF fulltext
  • Forbush, Edward Howe (1912): A History of the Game Birds, Wild-Fowl and Shore Birds of Massachusetts and Adjacent States. Boston: Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture, pp. 411–416.
  • Fuller, Errol (2001): Extinct Birds, Comstock Publishing, ISBN 0-8014-3954-X, pp. 85–87.
  • Madge, Steve & Burn, Hilary (1988): Waterfowl. An identification guide to the ducks, geese and swans of the world. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, pp. 265–266. ISBN 0-395-46727-6
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