The type of laid paper on which it is painted, as well as the style of execution, indicate that the watercolor was executed in the late 18th century. This would have been after the duck was given the scientific name Anas sponsa by Linnaeus in 1758 (incorrectly spelled “Spousa” on the painting itself ).
The Summer Duck is known as Aix sponsa under modern nomenclature. According to the Audubon Society, by the turn of the 19th century the wood duck was on the brink of extinction, but today is a “poster child for waterbird conservation efforts.” Today, the wood duck is the most common duck in the state of Georgia and, as it was in Audubon’s day, still popularly known as the “summer duck” because it remains throughout the summer after other duck species have migrated north.
Kirby, Daryl. “Georgia: A Wonderland for Wood Ducks.” Georgia Outdoor News. January 2006. http://www.gon.com/article.php?id=86 (24 July 2013).
“Wood Duck (Aix sponsa).” National Audubon Society. 2013. http://birds.audubon.org/species/wooduc (24 July 2013).