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White-winged ducks from Moluccan islands

Posted by deheeg VIP ,

At the Natural History Museum at Tring two specimen (male and female) show very much white as you would expect from the Sumatran/ Javan population. These skins were labelled location MoluccasBased on current knowledge, these birds must have been collected in Sumatra or Java in the past. 

 

The specimens as mentioned above were received at NHM Tring  by G.A. Frank in 1864. Frank, who was a dealer in natural history objects in Amsterdam, sold specimens to museums. Frank himself did not go out to collect animals, but he bought them from people who did, and then sold them to collectors. He has also bought many "duplicates" from Leiden and sold them to other museums such as the English NHM. Because Frank did not collect himself, and therefore probably did not always know where the objects came from (had been collected), he would occasionally have made up something, or made mistakes, when it came to the origin. It is therefore quite possible that these two specimens originally came from Leiden, via Frank. Perhaps at that time Frank had many birds from Leiden which indeed came from the Moluccas, and therefore he thought these ducks should come from there. We will probably never know. For the time being it is the most safe to assume that the Moluccas mentioned on the labels are incorrect (Hein van Grouw, 2019). 

 

The duck is a resident species which does not venture far from its forest habitat other than to visit feeding waters; therefore it would seem most unlikely there has been a recent population south east of Sumatra, there having been no record of this duck on Borneo or the Celebes islands. The barrier would have been the sea journey - so even in the distant past when there was a land bridge from Malaysia to Sumatra/ Java there was no such bridge to Sulawesi and eastwards to New Guinea (M.J.S.Mackenzie, 2019)

 

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Above: White-winged wood ducks (male on top, female on bottom), possibly collected in Sumatra/ Java, but mislabelled from the Moluccas, by G.A. Frank. 

Specimens from the Natural History Museum at Tring, UK. Photo by Jan Harteman

 

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Above: White-winged wood ducks (close-up label), possibly collected in Sumatra/ Java, but mislabelled from the Moluccas, by G.A. Frank. 

Specimens from the Natural History Museum at Tring, UK. Photo by Jan Harteman

 

Read more at this page.

 

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