Scientific Name: Camptorhynchus labradorius
Taxonomy Group: Birds
Range: Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2000
Last COSEWIC Designation: Extinct
SARA Status: No Schedule, No Status
Image of Labrador Duck
The Labrador Duck was a sea duck whose closest living relatives are probably the eiders. It had a unique bill adapted to consuming mussels and is believed to have foraged like a Spoonbill. The black-and-white adult male had a white head and neck with a black strip on the crown and a black collar around the lower neck; a black back, tail and under parts with contrasting white wings; and a black beak with a yellow spot at the base. The adult female was mostly brownish grey with a whitish chin and throat, and an upper breast mottled with grey and white.
Distribution and Population
The Labrador Duck is thought to have bred in Labrador. It had a very limited breeding range and was never abundant. During the winter, it was found as far south as Chesapeake Bay. The last living member of this species was seen at Elmira, New York, in 1878.
It is thought that this was essentially a maritime species that nested on a few islands off Labrador, though it's breeding grounds were never found. Some early hunters refered to it as the "Sand-shoal Duck", because it frequented sandbars. It could be caught on a fishing line while swimming a metre or so below the surface of the water.
Reasons for extinction
The reasons for its extinction are unknown. It was not a desirable game bird, though it was hunted for food. Its demise may be linked to the decline of mussels and other shellfish as the east coast became inhabited and polluted.
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
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