duck, referring to the general type of duck (bird) and more specific types (see Hunn, attestations)
CANAUH-TLI(1), duck in general (Anatidae), though it is applied at bit more generously than the English term, to include the Black-crowned Night-Heron [HUĀC-TLI], the Green Heron [HUEXO-CANAUH-TLI], and the Belted Kingfisher [Ā-CHALALAC-TLI]: "It lives on the water; it feeds on fish, water flies, worms, water snails" [FC 26 Canauhtli]. As with hummingbirds, this term serves as a generic head term for several specifically named kinds of “ducks.” Clearly, the Aztec sources were well acquainted with virtually every species of waterfowl of regular occurrence in the lakes of the Valley of Mexico. As is often the case in folk biological taxonomies such as this, the generic term may also do double duty in naming the prototypical species of the generic category, that is, the specific form that most often comes to mind in the broader context. I suggest that we distinguish this prototypical “duck” as CANAUH-TLI2. It is described as “white-breasted; [otherwise] ashen; of average size, not too large. Its breast…, on its belly it is white. It has a wide black bill….” [FC 26]. This description might serve for the Mexican Duck (Anas diazi), in accord with Martin del Campo’s translation. Alternatively, this prototypical “duck” might be a catch-all category for the females and/or eclipse plumaged males of many local duck species, which in the winter might not be obviously associated with their respective drakes. Immediately following the second entry labeled CANAUH-TLI is a third entry, also labeled CANAUH-TLI, which is described quite differently: “The head [feathers] are dark green. The head is black. Its head feathers are resplendent, shimmering” [FC 26]. This duck we might distinguish as CANAUH-TLI3. Martin del Campo identifies it as the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), the drake of which displays a metallic green head. However, the true Mallard -- as opposed to the “Mexican Mallard,” Anas diazi, which until recently was considered to be a variety of the true Mallard -- is a scarce winter visitor to northern Mexico. I suspect that this CANAUH-TLI3 may be the Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata), which nests in coastal mangroves and sports metallic greenish-black plumage. An addendum in Paragraph Three [FC: 57] elaborates: “Duck
CANAUH-TLI(2,) Mexican Duck (Anas diazi), apparently, the prototypical duck [FC: 26 Canauhtli]: The name might also refer broadly to female ducks: “It is white-breasted; [otherwise] ashen; of average size, not too large. Its breast… on its belly, it is white. It has a wide, black bill,…” (26ff). Despite Martin del Campo ’s identification, this does not fit the Mexican Duck at all well.
ma ticcohuacan yn tetl. yn quahuitl. ma yehuatl yca. yn atlan chaneque yn atlan onoque ӯ michin yn axollotl yhuan in cueyatl. yn acocillin. yn anenez yn acohuatl. yn axaxayacatl. yn izcahuitli. yhuan yn canauahtli yn quachilli = yn yacaçintli. yn ixquich yn totome yn atlan chaneque = Let us buy stone and wood by means of water life, the fish, salamanders, frogs, crayfish, dragonfly larvae, water snakes, waterfly eggs, and red shellfish that live in the water; and the ducks, American coots, all the birds that live in the water. (central Mexico, early seventeenth century)
Codex Chimalpahin: Society and Politics in Mexico Tenochtitlan, Tlatelolco, Culhuacan, and Other Nahuatl Altepetl in Central Mexico; The Nahuatl and Spanish Annals and Accounts Collected and Recorded by don Domingo de San Antón Muñón Chimalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin, eds. and transl. Arthur J. O. Anderson and Susan Schroeder (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997), vol. 1, 106–107.
canauhtli (noun) = a duck