Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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[Mystery bird] Christmas Duck, Anas noellus, photographed in a kitchen on the 13th floor of an apartment building in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Unlike most mystery birds, this individual came with a label indicating that it originated in France. [I might identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

Image: GrrlScientist, 25 December 2009 [larger view].

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

Yes, I did roast this duck a little longer, after so rudely slicing into the leg like that.

Image: GrrlScientist, 25 December 2009 [larger view].

NOTE: I have lived without eating meat for most of my life and plan to continue doing so in the future. However, considering that this is the first Christmas (or holiday) I’ve celebrated without spending all day running around on the subways in pursuit of minimal sum of money in exchange for scooping cat shit from a litter box, I just wanted to .. celebrate. Because domestic house cat meat is not as tasty as duck meat, my choice is obvious.

Review all mystery birds to date.


  1. #1 joshua
    December 25, 2009

    Let’s not forget the horrific conditions many chickens and turkeys are raised in.

    Even many of the so-called “humane” farms keep their birds in squalid states most of us couldn’t even imagine living in.

    I’m not suggesting people become vegetarian, but we need to seriously re-examine the ethics of industrial meat production.

  2. #2 Adrian
    December 25, 2009

    Hmmm, probably the hardest MB to date, the severe moult has removed all plumage details and bare-part colouration is a rather nondescript brown (as is body colour). So the only ID feature is location and general shape. I think we can rule out most families of passerines on size so we are left with either the Anatidae or Galliformes. The short wings exclude any migratory birds so I guess at Xmas dinnerensis of the race “frankfurterense”. It looks ready to eat so Seasons Greetings and A Happy New Year to everybody. I’m going back to a rather good Western Cape Red.

  3. #3 "GrrlScientist"
    December 25, 2009

    joshua: i hear you. i had a bit of an ethical dilemma regarding what to do regarding christmas dinner. i still don’t know that i solved that dilemma correctly, but buying from the butcher who seems to know his suppliers was my solution (after i become more adept with german — next year? — i will be able to make better decisions). he did say that i should be good to this duck “because he gave his all” for dinner.

  4. #4 joshua
    December 25, 2009

    Hey GrrlScientist,

    Needless to say, I wasn’t pointing any fingers. I have nothing but total confidence you would be conscientious when selecting a bird.

    I like what that butcher said.

    All the best 🙂

  5. #5 Bob O'H
    December 25, 2009

    I bet Sibly won’t be much help here, either. Sorry, John!

    And a merry Christmas to all you Mystery Birders. Grrl and I both get a lot of enjoyment reading your IDs.

    P.S. it’s actually a chipping sparrow.

  6. #6 David Hilmy
    December 25, 2009

    Flight leaves in 30 mins so I’m going to have to rush my answer in… I’m going to say this is a Muscovy Duck, Cairina moschata, to take advantage of it’s “dinner” size and stronger flavor (as I haven’t eaten meat for over 30 years, I will have to rely upon a posteriori evidence)… because of range I’m discounting the “Mulard”, a cross between a female Pekin (Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos) and a Muscovy, although there are millions more of them in France than geese for both the meat and foie gras…!

  7. #7 joshua
    December 25, 2009

    I’d be remiss after David’s comment if I didn’t point out that foie gras is considered inhumane and is illegal in certain jurisdictions:

  8. #8 David Hilmy
    December 25, 2009

    Oh believe me, Joshua, I am in no way supportive of the practice, a decision reached on May 18th, 1980 without ever having looked back… and having seen how they gras up the foie, I would certainly agree!

    (in fact, any discussion re. “humane treatment” or what is considered “local” or “sustainable” or “eco-friendly” or “free-range” are for me a consensus gentium: I don’t, pure and simple, and have no need to justify…)

    三人成虎 – sān rén chéng hǔ – “three men make a tiger”

  9. #9 joshua
    December 25, 2009

    Apologies David. To clarify: I wasn’t referring to you, just using your comment as a jumping off point 🙂

  10. #10 Rixaeton
    December 25, 2009

    I’m not suggesting people become vegetarian, but we need to seriously re-examine the ethics of industrial meat production.

    But why not? Even if we choose to treat animals “humanely”, we still decide how they will live and when they will die. I don’t think that is fair. In this this sort of transaction, there are typically three parties involved, the farmer that grows the animal, the consumer that pays for and eats the animal, and the animal itself. It seems to me that the one that has the most to lose in the transaction has the least say in it.

    It certainly is not mandatory to eat meat, or even necessary. Alternatives exist.

    Although, I have to admit that I can’t stand lentil burgers *bleh* 🙂

  11. #11 SimonG
    December 25, 2009

    Wow! It really brings home just how much has changed for you this year. I hope you had a lovely Christmas in your new home.

  12. #12 "GrrlScientist"
    December 26, 2009

    indeed! thanks, SimonG.

  13. #13 Tabor
    December 26, 2009

    I am so glad that atheists enjoy the holidays as well. You deserve a holiday with decorations and festivities and good food…so do not deny yourself any of it.

  14. #14 biosparite
    December 28, 2009

    Your butcher’s comments are suggestive if not probative, but only if you have established that he is not a quack.

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