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The Wigeon, pp.195-196.

[Three Hundred Animals Contents]

   WEIGHS about twenty-two ounces, and feeds upon grass and roots growing at the bottom of lakes, rivers and ponds. The plumage of this bird is much variegated, and his flesh esteemed a great delicacy, though not so highly praised as that of the teal. The bill of the Wigeon is black; the head and upper part of the neck of a bright bay, the back and sides under the wings waved with black and white, the breast purple and the belly white; the legs are dusky. The young of both sexes are grey and continue in that plain garb till the month of February, after which a change takes places, and the plumage of the male begins to assume its rich colourings, in which, it is said, he continues till the end of July, and then again the feathers become dark and grey, so that he is hardly to be distinguished from the female. When we consider that in the season of love the plumage of several birds assumes a greater lustre, we are inclined to conclude that this elegance and gaudiness of colouring, for which nature seems to have exhausted the finest tints of her pallet, are not merely destined, as we proudly think, to amuse the eye of man, but have a most direct and effective tendency to the great work of propagation. This general observation applies itself to several other birds, who are decked by the hands of Providence in a particular manner, at the time when the secret impulse of one of the first laws of nature called them to the duty of multiplying their species. 

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