No. 92.—Casarca Variegata, Gml.
This well-known bird often chooses the shelter of a huge tussock, beneath which to make its nest; sometimes a hole in a rock is chosen in preference.
We know a large rock, on the bank of the Rakaia, where a pair of these birds breed every year.
The nest is warmly lined with down; nine eggs are sometimes found in a nest, but not often have we noticed so large a number; they are large, creamywhite, ovoiconical, very somewhat in size, even in the same nest; length 2 inches 9 lines, with a diameter of 1 inch 10 lines. The Paradise Duck leads its brood to water very soon after hatching. The parent birds may be noticed surrounded by their tiny young ones, spending nearly the whole day upon the water, even when the usually smooth surface of the lake has been lashed into foam-crested waves by a furious Nor'-wester. They enter the lake after the sun is well up, and remain till late in the afternoon; this is daily repeated, the young birds gradually venturing farther from the old ones, and may be observed darting about with the greatest activity.
This bird employs the wiliest stratagems to lead the wayfarer from its nest or young.
Notes.—October 24, 1855, noticed nest with eight eggs, Malvern Hills.
November 1, 1867, saw nest with five eggs, another with six egg, on the Potts river.
December 2, 1867, Duck sitting on five eggs, Rangitata river.
The congress of the sexes takes place in water, after the manner of the common Goose. When young, the flesh of the Paradise Duck is very good eating, but in old birds there is a degree of toughness, that only the sharpest appetite can overcome.
The young are easily tamed, and feed amicably with other poultry; but unless confined when spring sets in, they are almost certain to ramble away and be lost.