Labrador Duck

The Labrador Duck (Camptorhynchus labradorius), was an eider-like sea duck that was never known to be common, and is believed to be the first duck to go extinct in North America after 1500. The last Labrador Duck is believed to have been seen in Elmira, New York on December 12, 1878. The last preserved specimen was shot in 1875 on Long Island. It was thought to breed in Labrador and wintered from Nova Scotia to as far south as Chesapeake Bay.

The Labrador Duck was also known by many other names. It shared the name Pied Duck with the Surf Scoter, Common Goldeneye, and American Oystercatcher. It has also been known as the Skunk Duck, referring to its striking white/black piebald coloration. Another common name was Sand Shoal Duck, referring to its habit of feeding in shallow water. The Labrador Duck’s closest living relatives are apparently the scoters.

It is unexplained as to how the Labrador Duck became extinct. Although it was hunted for food, it was considered a bad tasting duck and it rotted quickly and fetched a low price. It was not sought much by hunters for this reason. It is thought that the eggs may have been over-harvested, and also it may have been subject to depredations by the feather trade. One other possibility to their decline may have been the decline in two of its food sources (mussels and shellfish) which they fed on in their winter quarters.