Return to Main Page   Dakota Birder Blog    

Labrador Duck

Camptorhynchus labradorius

Length: 20 inches Wingspan: 30 inches Seasonality: Extinct
ID Keys: Males dark overall with white head and neck, black central crown stripe, white wings.  Odd-shaped bill.

Labrador Duck - Camptorhynchus labradoriusThe Labrador Duck was an odd sea-duck of the northeastern coasts of North America.  They were the only species of the genus Camptorhynchus.  They had a very unusual bill, widened and flattened at the tip with many lamallae inside, and softer than most duck bills. The species was evidently quite rare even upon European settlement.  It is thought that hunting quickly led to a decimation of the species, but reasons for the bird's extinction are speculative.  The last known Labrador Duck was shot by a hunter in 1878 on Long Island in New York.  Very little is known of the bird's habits or breeding.  The term Labrador Duck refers to the presumed breeding location along the coast of Labrador in Canada, but there are no confirmed nesting/breeding records. 

Habitat: During the winter months, the species was found in protected coastal waters from Nova Scotia southward to the Chesapeake Bay.  Little is known about their summer breeding habitat.

Diet: The odd bill shape suggests the Labrador Duck fed on mollusks. 

Behavior: Unknown.  The bill shape suggests the bird fed underwater on muddy bottoms, searching for mollusks. 

Nesting: Nothing known of nesting habits.  Was thought to have nested in Labrador, but nests were never found.

Song: Unknown

Migration: Bred in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and coastal Labrador.  Wintered from Nova Scotia southward to the Chesapeake Bay.

Similar Species: Only species of the genus Camptorhynchus, was unique in appearance and habits, unlikely to be confused with other species. 

Conservation Status: Extinct

Further Information: 1) BirdLife International - Labrador Duck

2) - Labrador Duck

3) Audubon - Black or Surf Duck

Image Information: Colored pencil drawing by Terry Sohl


Click below for a higher-resolution map
Labrador Duck - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Extinct, never was found in South Dakota
 Additional Images: (Click for a larger view)
Labrador Duck - Camptorhynchus labradorius