National Geographic : 1930 Mar
FOWLS OF FOREST AND STREAM TAMED BY MAN BY MORLEY A. JULL, PH. D. Senior Poultry Husbandman, Bureau of Animal Industry, United States Department of Agriculture AUTHOR OF "RACES OF DOMESTIC FOWL," IN THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE AN'S interest in the wild bird life of the forest, jungle, lake, and river is made manifest by the large number of wild species he has domesticated. His captives have yielded flesh and feathers and in some cases eggs, and the more beautiful ones, with their graceful forms or wonderful combination of plumage colors, have long been a source of esthetic pleasure. Probably the earliest attempts at domes tication were of the geese and the ducks, although the jungle fowl was reclaimed in very early times, relatively speaking. The turkey, peafowl, and guinea fowl have been recent additions to the list. The swan has been tamed most recently of all. Of the six groups of birds discussed in this article, there are three land birds-the turkey, peafowl, and guinea fowl-and three waterfowl-duck, goose, and swan. BILLS AND BODIES DISTINGUISH LAND FROM WATERFOWL There is a marked difference between land birds and waterfowl. Land birds have beaks for picking up particles of food from the land, while waterfowl have bills, the upper and lower mandibles of which are equipped with toothlike projections al ternating and fitting within each other along the edges of the mandibles. This arrangement enables waterfowl to strain water from the food which is frequently obtained under water. Land birds have claws adapted for scratching purposes, whereas waterfowl have webbed feet and "boat-shaped" bodies adapted for swimming. The numerous races of chicken that have descended from the jungle fowl have been described in a previous article in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE.* Domestic fowl, peafowl, and guinea fowl are more or less closely related, a fact * See "Races of Domestic Fowl," by M. A. Jull, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for April, 1927. borne out by the results obtained in cross ing the domestic fowl with the peafowl, the peafowl with the guinea fowl, and the domestic fowl with the guinea fowl. All hybrids obtained from these various cross ings, however, are sterile. In so far as known, the turkey has never been success fully crossed with any of the others. The swans are easily distinguished from the ducks and geese by their long, slender necks and by the space between the eye and bill, which is bare of feathers. It is interesting to note, however, that most naturalists have failed to mention the fact that the Muscovy duck also has the space between the eye and bill bare of feathers. In ducks the first plumage of the young very closely resembles the adult female in those cases where the adult male and female differ in color, whereas in geese the young do not differ materially in plumage color from that of the adult male and female, which are alike in color for each species. In ducks the males molt their small feathers twice in twelve months, whereas geese molt but once in the same time. The males in all ducks, except the Mus covy, have two distinctly curved sex feath ers at the base of the tail, a character absent in all geese. The voices of ducks and geese differ materially. Geese and swans are inclined to be mo nogamous in their sexual relations, while ducks are polygamous in the extreme. Crosses have been reported between the domestic goose and the Muscovy duck, the Egyptian goose and the wild duck, and between the swan and the goose. By some naturalists the Muscovy duck is re garded as a hybrid between a species of wild duck and a species of wild goose. THE PEAFOWL (For illustration, see Color Plate I) The most gorgeous of all the feathered tribe of forest and jungle is the peafowl, a close relative of the pheasants and the jungle fowl.