CATESBY, Mark (1683-1749)
Querquedula &c [ Blue-winged Teal]
London: (1748-) 1754 [Second edition]. Hand-coloured copper engraving on laid paper. Excellent condition. Sheet size: 12 3/4 x 18 inches.
A fine image from Catesby's 'The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands', "the most famous colour-plate book of American plant and animal life...a fundamental and original work for the study of American species" (Hunt)
Trained as a botanist, Catesby travelled to Virginia in 1712 and remained there for seven years, sending back to England collections of plants and seeds. With the encouragement of Sir Hans Sloane and others, Catesby returned to America in 1722 to seek materials for his 'Natural History'; he travelled extensively in Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and the Bahamas, sending back further specimens. His preface provides a lengthy account of the development of this work, including his decision to study with Joseph Goupy in order to learn to etch his plates himself to ensure accuracy and economy. A lovely and important work, embodying the most impressive record made during the colonial period of the natural history of an American colony. The most significant work of American natural history before Audubon's Birds of America .
"The Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) is a small dabbling duck. The adult male has a greyish blue head with a white facial crescent, a light brown body with a white patch near the rear and a black tail. The adult female is mottled brown. Both sexes have a blue wing patch. In flight, they flap their wings especially rapidly.
Their breeding habitat is marshes and ponds throughout north and central North America. The nest is a shallow depression on the ground lined with grass and down, usually surrounded by vegetation. They migrate in flocks to Central and South America. During migration, some birds may fly long distances over open ocean. They are occasional vagrants to Europe, where their yellow legs are a distinction from other small ducks like Common Teal and Garganey. DNA analysis of this species has revealed its genetic make up to be almost identical to that of the Cinnamon teal. These birds feed by dabbling in shallow water. They mainly eat plants; their diet may include molluscs and aquatic insects. The call of the male is a short whistle; the female's call is a soft quack." (Wikipedia)
Cf. Anker 95; cf. Clark I:55; cf. Dunthorne 72; cf. Fine Bird Books (1990), p. 86; cf. Great Flower Books (1990), p.85; cf. Meisel III:340; cf. Nissen BBI 336, IVB 177; cf. Sabin 11509; cf. Stafleu & Cowan TL2 1057; cf. Wood p. 282; cf. Amy Meyers and Margaret Pritchard, Empire's Nature, Mark Catesby's New World Vision , Williamsburg, 1998.