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Full text of "The American natural history; a foundation of useful knowledge of the higher animals of North America"

BIOLOGY 

LIBRARY 

G 



THE AMERICAN 
NATURAL HISTORY 

FIRESIDE EDITION 



VOLUME III BIRDS (CONCLUDED) 








" V 



\ 



VICTIMS OF THE FEATHER TRADE. 

Cock-of-the-Rock. Greater Bird of Paradise. Resplendent Trogon. 

Snowy Egret. Scarlet Ibis. 



THE AMERICAN 

NATURAL HISTORY 



A FOUNDATION OF USEFUL KNOWLEDGE OF 
THE HIGHER ANIMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



BY 

WILLIAM T. HORNADAY, Sc.D, 

DIRECTOR OF THE NEW YORK ZOOLOGICAL PARK 
AUTHOR OF "TWO YEARS IN THE JUNGLE," "OUR VANISHING WILD LIFE," ETC. 



ILLUSTRATED BY 225 ORIGINAL DRAWINGS BY BEARD, RUNGIUS, 
SAWYER, AND OTHERS, 151 PHOTOGRAPHS, CHIEFLY BY SANBORN, 
KELLER, AND UNDERWOOD, AND WITH NUMEROUS CHARTS AND MAPS 

WITH SIXTEEN PLATES IN COLOR 



FIRESIDE EDITION 



VOLUME III BIRDS (CONCLUDED) 



NEW YORK 

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 
1914 



L 16 



BIOLOGY 

LIBRARY 

G 



Copyright, 1904, by 
WILLIAM T. HORNADAY 



First Publication, April, 1904 



Copyright, 1914, by 
WILLIAM T. HORNADAY 



Fireside Edition published September, 1914 



SPECIAL NOTICE 

The publishers hereby give warning that 
the unauthorized use of illustrations, charts, 
or maps from this book is expressly forbidden. 




CONTENTS 

VOLUME III BIRDS (CONCLUDED) 
CHAPTER XX 

PAGE 

ORDER OF ODD FAMILIES .... MACROCHIRES 3 

GOATSUCKER FAMILY 4 

SWIFT FAMILY 6 

HUMMINGBIRD FAMILY 7 

CHAPTER XXI 
ORDER OF WOODPECKERS PICI 11 

CHAPTER XXII 

ORDER OF CUCKOOS AND KINGFISHERS . COCCYGES 22 

CUCKOO FAMILY 22 

KINGFISHER FAMILY . 26 



CHAPTER XXIII 
ORDER OF PARROTS AND MACAWS 



PSITTACI 28 



vin CONTENTS 

CHAPTER XXXIII 

PAGE 

ORDER OF TUBE-NOSED SWIMMERS OF MID-OCEAN 

TUBINARES 233 

ALBATROSS FAMILY 234 

FULMAR FAMILY 239 

THE TRAGEDY OF THE LAYSAN ALBATROSS . . . . . .241 

CHAPTER XXXIV 

ORDER OF LONG-WINGED SWIMMERS 

LONGIPENNES 249 

GULLS AND TERNS 249 

SKIMMER FAMILY 256 

SKUA AND JAEGER FAMILY 257 

CHAPTER XXXV 

ORDER OF WEAK-WINGED DIVING BIRDS 

PYGOPODES 259 

GREBE FAMILY 260 

LOON FAMILY 262 

CLIFF-DWELLERS OF THE SEA 264 

AUKS AND PUFFINS 268 

CHAPTER XXXVI 
ORDER OF FLIGHTLESS DIVERS . IMPENNES 273 



CONTENTS ix 
CHAPTER XXXVII 

PAGE 

ORDER OF WINGLESS LAND BIRDS . . . RATITAE 276 

CHAPTER XXXVIII 

THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS ... 281 

THE WAR OF EXTERMINATION 281 

THE EXTERMINATORS AND THEIR METHODS 290 

THE REGULAR ARMY OF DESTRUCTION 291 

MARKET-HUNTING 294 

THE DIVISION OF MEAT-SHOOTERS 297 

THE ILLEGAL SLAUGHTER OF BIRDS 300 

BIRD-SLAUGHTER FOR THE MILLINERY TRADE 302 

UNSEEN FOES OF WILD LIFE 304 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



COLOR PLATES 

Victims of the Feather Trade . Frontispiece 

Cock-of-the-Rock. Greater Bird of Paradise. Resplendent 
Trogon. Snowy Egret. Scarlet Ibis. 



FACING PAGE 



The Passenger Pigeon 86 

Roseate Spoonbills in Full Color 162 

The Emperor Penguin 274 

FULL-PAGE PLATES 

PAGE 

The Condor of the Andes 81 

Mourning Dove 93 

Pinnated Grouse, or Prairie Chicken 113 

Willow Ptarmigan 121 

The Mallard Duck 169 

The Pintail Duck 181 

Red-Breasted Merganser 197 

Trumpeter Swans 209 

Florida Brown Pelicans, on Pelican Island 215 

California Brown Pelican 219 

The Cormorant 223 

xi 



xii ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

Black-Footed Albatross 235 

Albatrosses on Laysan Island before the Great Slaughter . . . 243 

The Herring-Gull and Common Tern 251 

Six Recently Exterminated North American Birds 285 

Great Auk. Eskimo Curlew. Passenger Pigeon. Labrador 
Duck. Pallas Cormorant. Carolina Parrakeet. 

Wild Ducks in the Wichita National Bison Range, 1913 .... 295 
TEXT ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

TheNighthawk 5 

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird 8 

Golden- Winged Woodpecker 14 

Red-Headed Woodpecker 17 

Downy Woodpecker 19 

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo 23 

The Belted Kingfisher 26 

Carolina Parrakeet 31 

Skeleton of a Bird of Prey (Bald Eagle) 35 

Barn Owl 38 

Barred Owls 41 

Screech Owl 43 

Young Screech Owls 45 

Great Horned Owl 47 

Young Great Horned Owls 48 

Snowy Owl 51 



ILLUSTRATIONS xiii 



PAOE 



American Osprey 55 

Sparrow Hawk 57 

Sharp-Shinned Hawk 67 

Cooper's Hawk 69 

Swallow-Tailed Kite 73 

The California "Condor" 77 

Young California Vulture 79 

The Band-Tailed Pigeon 90 

Bob- White 100 

California Mountain Quail 104 

California Valley Quail 105 

Eastern Ruffed Grouse ' 107 

Canada Grouse Ill 

Sage Grouse 119 

Wild Turkey, from Virginia 125 

Killdeer Plover 131 

American Woodcock 132 

Woodcock on Nest 132 

Wilson's Snipe . 134 

Least Sandpiper 135 

Whooping Crane 141 

Virginia Rail 144 

The Coot .146 

Great Blue Heron , 151 



xiv ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

Little Green Heron 153 

Great White Egret . 156 

American Bittern 158 

White Ibis 161 

The Flamingo 165 

Fulvus Tree-Duck 172 

Black Duck 172 

Gadwall: Gray Duck 172 

American Widgeon 172 

Green-Winged Teal 172 

Scaup Duck 172 

Ring-Necked Duck 173 

Barrow's Golden-Eye 173 

Old Squaw 173 

Harlequin Duck 173 

Surf Scoter 173 

American Scoter 173 

Blue-Winged Teal 177 

The Shoveller Duck 178 

Wood Duck 183 

The Redhead Duck 186 

The Canvas-Back Duck 188 

The Buffle-Head, or Butter-Ball 189 

A Haven of Refuge 191 



ILLUSTRATIONS xv 

PAGE 

American Eider 194 

King Eider 201 

Spectacled Eider 201 

Steller's Duck 201 

Ruddy Duck 201 

American Merganser 201 

Hooded Merganser 201 

Canada Goose 203 

Great White Pelican 221 

Snake-Bird 227 

Man-o'-War Birds ' .... 231 

Stormy Petrel 240 

Albatross Bones on Laysan Island, 1911 245 

The Last of the Loot 247 

Common Murre 263 

The Loon 263 

Common Puffin 269 

Tufted Puffin 269 

Rhinoceros Auklet . . 269 

Ceram Cassowary 279 

A Market-Gunner at Work on Marsh Island 299 

Ptarmigan Slaughter in the Absence of Law, Yukon Territory . . 301 



BIRDS 

(CONCLUDED) 



CHAPTER XX 
ORDER OF ODD FAMILIES 

MACROCHIRES 

TT 7ITH certain exceptions, the different Orders of American 
birds are founded on reasonable grounds and built up 
of homogeneous materials. As a rule, a few moments' ex- 
amination of a bird enables one to name the Order to which 
it belongs. There is no difficulty about the birds of prey, 
swimmers, fishers, waders or woodpeckers. 

Unfortunately, however, Nature has turned out of her 
workshop so many odd forms that it has been found necessary 
to have a certain number of Orders for them. In mammals 
we have seen that the Order Ungulata is of this character. 
In birds, there are two such Orders. One is that which con- 
tains the cuckoos, road-runners and kingfishers, and the other 
is that which forms the subject of this chapter. 

The Order Macrochires means literally "odd ones," and 
its members do not belie the name. On the strength of cer- 
tain resemblances in anatomical structure, observable only 
after the birds are dead and dissected, our hummingbirds, 
swifts and goatsuckers (i. e. 9 birds like the whippoorwill and 
nighthawk) are grouped together in this Order, in three 
Families, as follows: 

3 



;4: ;/; ODD FAMILIES 

ORDER MACROCHIRES 



EXAMPLES 



GOATSUCKERS Cap-ri-mul'gi-dae .... Nighthawk, Whippoorwill. 

SWIFTS Mi-cro-pod'i-dae Chimney Swift. 

HUMMINGBIRDS Tro-chil'i-dae Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. 

THE GOATSUCKER FAMILY 

Caprimulgidae 

THE NiGHTHAWK 1 is far from being a true hawk. It be- 
longs to a Family of birds which have soft, owl-like plumage, 
and enormous mouths, fringed above with a row of stiff bris- 
tles, for use in capturing insects on the wing. Many years 
ago, when people believed many things that were not true, 
some believed that these big-mouthed birds sucked goats; 
hence the absurd name applied to the Family. 

Whenever, during the hour just before sunset, you see a 
good-sized bird with dark plumage, long, sharp-pointed wings, 
and a big white spot on the under surface of each wing, 
wheeling, soaring, dropping and circling through the air, 
you may know that it is a Nighthawk, catching insects. Its 
flight is graceful and free, and when on the aerial war-path it 
is a very industrious bird. Some people compare this bird 
on the wing with bats ; but I see no resemblance save the bare 
fact of semi-nocturnal flight. This bird, and the other mem- 
bers of its Family, are among the very few North American 
birds that capture winged insects high in mid-air, and for this 
reason, even if there were no other, all the Goatsuckers 
should be most rigidly protected everywhere. The time for 
shooting the Nighthawk for "sport" (!) has long gone by, 
never to return. 

1 Chor-dei'les virginianus. Length, about 9.50 inches. 



THE NIGHTHAWK AND THE WHIPPOORWILL 




When this bird alights upon a tree to rest, it chooses a 
large and nearly horizontal limb, on which it usually sits 
lengthwise. As it sits motionless on a large limb, the bird 
strongly resembles a knot. This is a transcontinental bird, 
being found from the At- 
lantic to the Pacific, in 
wooded regions, and 
northward to the Mac- 
kenzie River. 

THE WnippooRWiLL 1 
needs no introduction. 
It is more than a bird. 
It is a national favorite. 

When the mantle of 
night has fallen, and the 
busy world is still, we 

who are in the country in summer often hear a loud, clear, 
melodious whistle from somewhere near the barn. As plainly 
as print, it exclaims, " Whip-Poor-Will' '! '" and repeats it, 
again and again. Before each regular call, there is a faint 
"chuck" or catching of the breath, strong emphasis on the 
"whip," and at the end a piercing whistle which is positively 
thrilling. 

Sometimes the bird will come and perch within thirty feet 
of your tent-door, and whistle at the rate of forty whippoor- 
wills to the minute. Its call awakens sentimental reflections, 
and upon most persons exercises a peculiar, soothing influence. 
It has been celebrated in several beautiful poems and songs. 

1 An-tros'to-mus vo-cif'er-us. Length, about 9.50 inches. 



THE NIGHTHAWK, 



6 ODD FAMILIES 

The range of this interesting bird is the same as that of 
the nighthawk. In the South both are replaced by another 
goatsucker called, from its whistle, the CHUCK-WILL'S- 
WIDOW. Until actually hearing it, one can scarcely believe 
that any bird of this Order can say things as plainly as this 
bird says "Chuck Will's Wid-ow!" The Pacific states, from 
British Columbia to Mexico, and eastward to Nebraska, have 
the POOR-WILL. 

THE SWIFT FAMILY 

Micropodidae 

THE CHIMNEY SWIFT, or CHIMNEY " SWALLOW,"* has 
been for a century or more classified with the swallows and 
martins, but recent studies of its anatomy have caused its 
removal from their group. This is the bird whose nest and 
young sometimes tumble down into your fireplace in spring 
or summer, and cause commotion. 

To me, the nesting habits of this bird seem like faulty in- 
stinct. A chimney is a poor place of residence for a bird, and 
the habitants frequently come to grief. If the aperture is 
small, the householder objects to having the chimney stopped 
by nests; and if it is large, so many Swifts may nest there 
that their noise is an annoyance. These birds get up and out 
before daylight, to hunt insects that fly at night, and doubt- 
less many a "ghost" in a "haunted house" is nothing more 
frightful than a colony of these birds in the chimney. 

This bird has the ability to fly straight up or straight 
down, else it could not enter or leave a chimney. It is quite 

1 Chae-tu'ra pe-lag'i-ca. Length, 5 inches. 



THE HUMMINGBIRD FAMILY 7 

an aerial gymnast, and feeds only when on the wing. Its 
flight is very graceful, and both in manner of flight and per- 
sonal appearance it so closely resembles a short-tailed swallow 
that there are few persons who can distinguish the difference 
in the flying birds. 

One strongly marked peculiarity of this bird is that the 
tip of each tail-feather ends in a sharp, wire-like point, caused 
by the shaft of the feather being projected considerably be- 
yond the vane. The eastern Chimney Swift ranges westward 
to the Great Plains. On the Pacific slope is found another 
species, a close parallel to the preceding, called the Vaux 
Swift. The White-Throated Swift of the Pacific states is dis- 
tinguished by its white throat and breast, and a few white 
patches elsewhere. 

THE HUMMINGBIRD FAMILY 

Trochilidae 

For twenty years or more the exquisite gem-like birds be- 
longing to this Family have been persecuted by the millinery 
trade, and slaughtered by thousands for hat ornaments. In 
the European centres of the odious "feather trade" the traffic 
in Hummingbird skins still continues. At the regular feather 
auction of August, 1912, in London, the New York Zoological 
Society purchased 1,600 Hummingbird skins at two cents 
each. In the first three of these sales for 1912 the total sales 
of Hummingbird skins were 41,090. In 1913, by an act of 
Congress, the odious traffic in wild birds' plumage for millinery 
purposes was stopped forever in the United States and all its 
territorial possessions. 



8 



ODD FAMILIES 



THE RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD 1 represents the 
Family which contains the smallest of all birds. When the 
trumpet- vine on your veranda is in flower, you will see this 
delicate creature dart into view, like a large-winged insect, 




RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD. 

and poise itself easily and gracefully in mid-air at the mouth 
of the most conspicuous flower. Its tiny wings beat the air 
with such extreme rapidity and machine-like regularity that 
you see only a gray, fan-shaped blur on each side of the living 
bird. It holds itself in position with the greatest exactitude, 

1 Troch'i-lus col'u-bris. Length, 3.25 inches. 



CHARACTERISTICS OF THE HUMMINGBIRD 9 

thrusts its long and delicate beak into the heart of the flower 
and, with the skill of a surgeon probing a wound, extracts the 
tiny insects or the honey so dear to its palate. 

As the bird poises in mid-air, the sunlight catches the patch 
of brilliant ruby-red feathers on its throat, and sets it aflame. 
To make up for their diminutive size, and give them a fair 
share of beauty, Nature has clothed the throats and breasts of 
many Hummingbirds with feather-patches of the most bril- 
liantly iridescent colors, ruby-red, scarlet, green, blue and gold, 
which flash like jewels. Others again have long, ornamental 
tail-feathers, ruffs and other showy decorations in feathers. 

The Hummingbirds are so very diminutive one never 
ceases to wonder how such frail and delicate creatures, feeding 
only upon the smallest insects and the nectar of flowers, can 
make long journeys over this rough and dangerous earth, 
withstand storms, build their wonderful little nests, rear 
their young and migrate southward again without being des- 
troyed. Of course their diminutive size enables them to es- 
cape the attention of most of the living enemies which gladly 
would destroy them. 

The nest of a Hummingbird is about as large in diameter 
as a lady's watch, and the eggs, of which there are two, are 
the size of adult peas. The food of these birds generally con- 
sists of minute insects, many of which they find in large 
flowers. When at rest, perching, the average Hummer is not 
beautiful in form. Its head seems too large, its neck and body 
much too short and its wings too long. It seems top-heavy, 
and as if destitute of legs. It is on the wing that these crea- 
tures look their best. 



10 ODD FAMILIES 

What Hummingbirds lack in size, they try to make up in 
number. There are nearly five hundred species, and they are 
found only in the New World. They are thoroughly tropical, 
but in warm weather, and the season of flowers, they migrate 
as far north as Alaska, and as far south as Patagonia. Our 
country makes an acceptable summer home for about sixteen 
species. 

The Ruby-Throat is the only one inhabiting the eastern 
half of the United States, all the others being found west of 
Arkansas and the Rocky Mountains. 



CHAPTER XXI 

ORDER OF WOODPECKERS 

PICI 

THE Woodpeckers are the natural protectors of the forests 
of the temperate zone. But for them, tree-borers 
would multiply without limit, and the number of trees that 
would fall before the insect pests is quite beyond computation. 
While the robin, the thrush and the warblers take care of the 
caterpillars and the leaf-insects generally, the woodpecker 
sticks to the business of his own guild, and looks after the 
pests that attack the bark and the wood. The tree-creepers 
assist by picking off insects from the outside, but when it 
comes to the heavy work of digging borers out of the bark by 
main strength, the woodpecker is the only bird equal to it. 

There are about twenty-five species of woodpeckers in 
the United States. 

Usually, the long, barbed tongue of this bird is sufficient 
to spear a borer, and drag it forth to meet the death it deserves. 
When this will not do the work, the woodpecker's claws take 
a good grip on the bark, and serious work begins. 

Do not think, however, that because a rolling tattoo 
beaten on a hard dead limb can be heard a quarter of a mile, 
that the bird making the noise is working unusually hard. 

Quite the contrary. The loud tattoo is a signal, like the "cer- 

11 



12 WOODPECKERS 

tain whistle" of a small boy. In our Beaver Pond, the golden- 
winged woodpeckers sometimes beat on the galvanized-iron 
drums which protect the bases of the trees from the teeth of 
the beavers. 

When a woodpecker is working hardest, you hear only a 
faint "chuck! chuck! chuck!" as he drives his sharp, wedge- 
like beak into the bark or soft wood. Often the falling 
chips are your first notice that a winged forester is at work 
aloft, digging out and devouring the larvae that, if left alone, 
bring decay and death to trees. 

You may be sure that whenever you find one of these 
valuable birds at work, there is need for him. To-day a 
great many persons know their value and protect them. Oc- 
casionally, however, men who are so thoughtless or so mean 
as to engage in the brutal pastime known as a "side hunt," 
do lower themselves, and injure the landowners about them, 
by killing every woodpecker that can be found, for "points." 
If all farmers only knew what a loss every "side hunt" means 
to them, such wicked pastimes would not be tolerated. 

It is also to be added, with deep regret, that many Italians 
who come to America to make new homes for themselves bring 
with them the idea that it is right to kill birds of every de- 
scription for food, song-birds, woodpeckers, swallows and 
all others, and to their murderous guns our most valuable 
woodpeckers are the easiest prey in the world. A woodpecker 
hard at work trying to save a giant oak from insect destruc- 
tion never dreams of being treacherously shot in the back. 
For all such bird-murderers the remedies are : first, education ; 
then, punishment to the limit of the law. 



THEIR HABITS AND PECULIARITIES 13 

Although the woodpeckers are not counted as birds of 
song, to me the loud, joyous cry of the flicker, the downy and 
the red-head, ringing through the leafy forest aisles, is genu- 
ine music. One species cries "Cheer-upl Cheer-upl" and it 
cheers-up and thrills me to hear it. Even in summer, when 
other birds are plentiful, it is a welcome sound. In bleak 
winter, when the great bulk of bird-life has vanished south- 
ward, and you toilsomely tread the silent forest, ankle-deep 
in snow, the world seems lifeless and drear until you hear 
the clarion greeting of the golden-winged woodpecker. It is 
enough to stir the soul of a Digger Indian with a pleasing sense 
of companionship in life. 

It is only the children of the cities who need to be told 
that woodpeckers have two toes in front and two behind, to 
enable them to cling to tree-bark; that the natural perch of 
such a bird is the perpendicular trunk of a tree; that some- 
times they store acorns in holes which they dig in the sides of 
decayed trees, not in order that worms in those acorns may 
develop, but in order to eat the acorns themselves. They 
nest high up in hollow tree-trunks, which they enter through 
round holes of their own making. 1 

It is a good thing to feed wild birds of all species that are 
either useful or beautiful. The woodpeckers are the largest 
insectivorous birds that remain in the North over winter, and 
they appreciate friendly offerings of suet or fat pork, nailed 

1 Those who are specially interested in the habits of woodpeckers may profit- 
ably consult a report on "The Food of Woodpeckers," by Professor F. E. L. Beal, 
published by the Department of Agriculture in 1895. The exact proportions of 
the various kinds of food consumed by seven species have been determined by 
examination of the stomachs of several hundred birds, and the figures quoted later 
on are from that report. 



14 



WOODPECKERS 



high up on conspicuous tree-trunks. In the Zoological Park 
we put up every winter at least twenty -five two-pound strips 
of fat pork, for the woodpeckers and chickadees which live 
with us all the year round. 







GOLDEN-WINGED WOODPECKER. 

THE GOLDEN-WINGED WooDPECKER 1 is my favorite of 
the members of this Order. It is a bird of good. size, dignified 
in bearing, decidedly handsome, and a great worker. He 
loves to hunt insects on the ground, occasionally, but is very 
alert and watchful, meanwhile. If you approach too near, 
he leaps into the air, and with a succession of wave-like sweeps 

1 Co-lap'tes au-ra'tus lu'te-us. Length, about 12 inches. 



A BIRD OF MANY NAMES 15 

upward and downward, his golden wings flash back one of 
his names as he flies to safety on some distant post or tree. 
Unlike most birds of this Order, this species frequently perches 
crosswise on a limb, like a true perching bird. 

This is the woodpecker of many names, some of which 
are Flicker, High-Hole and Yellow-Hammer. His regular call 
sounds like "Cheer-upl" but in spring he gives forth a call 
which comes very near to being a song. When written out, 
it is like " 'Cook-cook-cook-cook 7" At that season, also, you 
hear this bird beat the "long roll," on a drum which Nature 
provides for him in the shape of a hollow tree with a thin, 
hard shell. The rapidity and force with which the bird strikes 
the blows producing this sound are almost beyond belief. 

An examination of the stomach contents of many speci- 
mens of this species showed 56 per cent of insect food, 39 
vegetable and 5 mineral. Of the insect food, ants made up 
43 per cent and beetles 10 per cent. The vegetable food rep- 
resented two kinds of grain (corn and buckwheat), eighteen 
kinds of wild berries, and fifteen kinds of seeds, mostly of 
weeds. Out of 98 stomachs examined in September and 
October only 4 contained corn. Practically, this bird does no 
damage to man's crops, but destroys great quantities of harm- 
ful insects. 

The range of the Golden-Wing embraces the eastern half 
of the United States to the Rocky Mountains, where it is met 
by the Red-Shafted Flicker of the Pacific slope. 

THE RED-HEADED WOODPECKER 1 need not be described, 
because, in "Hiawatha," Longfellow has immortalized it. 

1 Mel-an-er'pes e-ryth-ro-ceph'a-lus. Length, 9,50 inches. 



16 WOODPECKERS 

This bird, "with the crimson tuft of feathers/' was the iden- 
tical Mama which gave Hiawatha the timely "tip" which 
enabled him to put the finishing touch to old Megissogwon, 
and so end in triumph "the greatest battle that the sun had 
ever looked on." 

As a return for this kindness, Hiawatha did the one mean 
act of his life. He took Mama's little red scalp, and "decked" 
his pipe-stem with it, as coolly as if he had been a modern 
servant-girl decorating a forty-nine-cent hat. 

This is a very showy bird, and recognizable almost as far 
as it can be seen, brilliant crimson head and neck; white 
breast, sides and rump, and jet-black back and tail. In the 
Mississippi Valley, thirty years ago, this was one of the most 
common birds. Now, thanks to man's insatiable desire to 
"kill something" that is unprotected, it has been so greatly 
reduced in number that it is seldom seen. It is an omnivorous 
feeder, eating insects, fruit, beech-nuts, corn and other grain, 
according to necessity. Its cry is loud and far-reaching, and 
sounds like " Choor ! Choor /" As to migrating, it seems un- 
able to make up its mind whether to become a "regular mi- 
grant" or a "winter resident." Sometimes it migrates south- 
ward during the early winter, and sometimes it winters in the 
North. 

An examination of the stomachs of one hundred and one 
Red-Headed Woodpeckers revealed 50 per cent of animal 
food and 45 per cent vegetable. Of the former, ants made up 
11 per cent, and beetles 31 per cent. The fruit and vegetable 
food represented five kinds of cultivated fruit (strawberries, 
blackberries, cherries,, apples and pears), and fifteen kinds of 



THE FOOD OF THE RED-HEAD 



17 



wild fruit and seeds. The insect food consisted of ants, wasps, 
beetles, bugs, grasshoppers, crickets, moths, caterpillars, 




RED-HEADED WOODPECKER. 



spiders and thousand-legged worms. In the fruit season the 
Red-Head undoubtedly does considerable damage to fruit 
crops, more by mutilating fruit, perhaps, than by actual loss 



18 WOODPECKERS 

through fruit wholly consumed; and if these birds were as 
numerous as sparrows, it would be necessary for fruit-growers 
to take precautions against them during the fruit season. 
The damage done to corn appears to be quite insignificant. 
(Professor F. E. L. Beal's report.) 

The great fondness of the Red-Head for beechnuts, and 
its habits of storing them up for winter use, in holes and 
crevices, are well known. 

THE ANT-EATING WOODPECKER 1 of the Pacific slope is 
the most conspicuous and interesting bird of this Order in 
that region, either around the suburban home, on the ranch or 
in the mountain forests. This is the species which is now 
celebrated in word and picture for its habit of digging hun- 
dreds of holes in soft bark or dead tree-trunks, and "storing" 
an acorn in each hole, for future food. 

THE DOWNY WOODPECKER 2 is a small gray-and-black 
species, modest and quiet in demeanor, but quite as common 
about the haunts of man as the golden-wing. It is the small- 
est species found in the United States and is the one which 
is most in evidence in winter. 

This bird ranks high as a destroyer of insects, and in the 
percentage of insect food consumed leads all other wood- 
peckers that have been studied by the Biological Survey of 
the Department of Agriculture. An examination of 140 
stomachs revealed 74 per cent of insect food and 25 of vege- 
table. The vegetable food consisted chiefly of seeds of the 
poison ivy, poison sumac, mullen, pokeberries, dogwood and 

1 Mel-an-er'pes for-mi-civ'o-rus. 

2 Pi'cus pu-bes'cens me-di-arius. Length, 7 inches. 



VALUABLE TO THE FARMER 19 

woodbine. The fruits consisted of service-berries, straw- 
berries and apples. 

Apparently this bird is almost worth its weight in gold to 
the farmer \vho has valuable trees and fruit; and in winter 




DOWNY WOODPECKER. 

the farmer who is wise will put up suet, fat pork and bones 

bearing some raw meat, on the trees in his orchard and woods. 

THE HAIRY WOODPECKER 1 is so close a counterpart of the 

downy, in appearance and habits, that it is unnecessary to de- 

1 Dry-o-ba'tes vil-lo'sw. Length, 10.50 inches. 



20 WOODPECKERS 

scribe both. The former is larger, but its rank as an insect 
exterminator is a little lower. Its proportion of insect food 
is 68 per cent, and vegetable 31 per cent. Of the former, 
ants make up 17 per cent, beetles 24 per cent and caterpillars 

21 per cent. The only cultivated fruits found in 82 stomachs 
were blackberries; but wild fruits were well represented. 

This bird inhabits practically the same region as the downy 
woodpecker, and belongs in the ranks of the farmer's best 
friends. 

THE YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUGKER 1 is practically the only 
woodpecker which inflicts serious damage upon man's prop- 
erty; and possibly it may in some localities become so numer- 
ous as to require thinning out. Any bird which deliberately 
girdles a tree and kills it is a bird entitled to serious considera- 
tion, and to punishment according to the actual harm it does. 

This bird eats great quantities of insects, but as dessert it 
is fond of the sap of certain trees, among which are the maple, 
birch, white ash, apple, mountain ash and spruce. Into the 
soft, green bark of these trees this Sapsucker drills small, 
squarish holes, that look like gimlet holes. Usually they are 
placed in a horizontal line, and sometimes in mathematical 
groups. Occasionally several lines of these holes will quite 
girdle a tree. The bird not only drinks the sap that exudes, 
but he lies in wait to catch the winged insects and ants that 
are attracted to the sweet fluid, and devours great numbers of 
them. 

Dr. C. Hart Merriam, who has closely observed the work 
of the Sapsucker, states that frequently mountain -ash trees 

1 Sphy-ra-pi'cus va'ri-us. Length, 8.25 inches. 



THE SAPSUCKER 21 

are girdled to death by this bird, but that trees of greater 
endurance, like the apple and thorn-apple, are more able to 
survive its attacks. Another observer, Mr. Frank Bolles, 
declares that in well-wooded regions the damage it does is too 
insignificant to justify its destruction. Mrs. Mabel Osgood 
Wright states that in Connecticut, "where these birds are 
plentiful, many orchard-owners cover the tree-trunks with 
fine wire netting." 

:< This species," says Professor Beal, "is probably the 
most migratory of all our woodpeckers, breeding only in the 
most northerly parts of the United States, and in some of the 
mountains farther south. In the fall it ranges southward, 
spending the winter in most of the eastern states. It is less 
generally distributed than some of the other woodpeckers, 
being quite unknown in some sections, and very abundant in 
others." 

In its general color scheme this is a bird of many and much- 
mixed colors black, white and yellowish indescribably varied 
both above and below. The top of the head and the throat 
are bright red; and the sides of the head have two broad 
streaks of white, and two of black. The name of the bird is 
derived from the predominating greenish-yellow color of its 
breast and abdomen. 

The Pacific coast has the Red-Naped Sapsucker, a sub- 
species of the above, of similar tree-girdling habits; the Red- 
Breasted Sapsucker, one of the commonest woodpeckers found 
from Oregon to Lower California, and two others the 
Northern Red-Breasted and Williamson's. 



CHAPTER XXII 
ORDER OF CUCKOOS AND KINGFISHERS 

COCCYGES 

THIS Order (pronounced Coc'si-jez) represents an effort 
to find a place for three familiar Families of birds whose 
members have something in common, yet in their most notice- 
able features are widely different. Both in their structure, 
habits and mode of life, the kingfisher and cuckoo are widely 
different from each other; and if there is one really good 
reason why these birds should be placed in the same Order, 
the writer would be pleased to have it pointed out. Their 
feet are totally different, and so are their beaks, their tails and 
their plumage. Any future revision of the classification of 
birds should strike this Order, early and hard. 

THE CUCKOO FAMILY 

Cuculidae 

THE YELLOW-BILLED CucKoo, 1 or "RAIN-CROW," will 
fitly represent the Cuckoo Family. It looks like an insect- 
eating perching bird, and in reality it is one ! You can easily 
recognize it by its extreme length and slenderness, the fan- 
like shape of its tail when spread, its upper surface of glossy 

1 Coc-cy'zus americanus. Length, about 12 inches. 
22 



THE YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO 






drab or gray -brown and its white under surface from throat 
to tail. To carry out this color scheme to its logical se- 
quence, the upper mandible is dusky brown and the lower 
one is yellow. 

This bird derives one of its common names Rain-" Crow" 
from the fact that its peculiar cry is heard oftenest on still 
and cloudy summer 
days two conditions 
w r hich to the weather- 
wise farmer always por- 
tend rain. Its cry is a 
weird, gurgling note 
which sounds like 
ft Cowk-cowk-cowk- 
cowk!" and usually it 
comes from the heart 
of a thick bush or tree 
which effectually screens the bird. It seems to be fully aware of 
the dangers which beset all birds which attempt to live in the 
open with civilized man, for it lives amid the forest shadows. 

This bird, and also its twin species, the BLACK-BILLED 
CUCKOO, lives almost wholly upon insects. Of 155 Cuckoo 
stomachs examined by the Department of Agriculture, only 
one contained any vegetable food two small berries. Nearly 
half the Cuckoo's food proved to be caterpillars, 2,771 of 
which were found in 129 stomachs. It was not uncommon 
for one bird to contain more than 100 of them. "During 
May and June, when tent-caterpillars are defoliating the fruit 
trees, these insects constitute half of the Cuckoo's food." 




YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO. 



24 CUCKOOS AND KINGFISHERS 

The stomachs examined contained remains of sixty-five 
species of insects, in the following percentages: beetles, 6; 
bugs, 6K; grasshoppers, 30; caterpillars, 48^; other insects, 
such as web-worms, tussock-moths, army-worms and moth 
larvae, 9. 

From the results of this investigation it is clear that our 
two species of Cuckoo are to be numbered with the farmers' 
best friends among birds. As an estimate, I should say that 
each of these birds that enters a section devoted to farming 
and fruit-growing is worth to that section about $10 per 
season. The charge that Cuckoos devour the eggs, or egg- 
shells, of other birds was proven by the finding of shells "in 
several stomachs, but only in very small quantities no more 
than was found in the stomachs of nearly every species that 
has been examined." Thus the offence charged proves to be 
too trivial to consider. 

The Yellow-Billed Cuckoo inhabits the eastern half of the 
United States to the Great Plains, and the Black-Billed 
ranges westward to the Rocky Mountains, from Canada to 
the tropics. From the Rockies to the Pacific, and up to Brit- 
ish Columbia, is found the California Cuckoo, a close counter- 
part of the Yellow-Billed species. 

THE ROAD-RUNNER, or CHAPARRAL CocK, 1 is a very 
strange bird; and many strange "yarns" have been told of 
it. It is remarkably odd in form, and also in its habits. It 
is about the size of a small crow, with a tail as long as its en- 
tire body and head, and legs that are so long and strong they 
seem like those of a grouse, save that the toes are longer. 

1 Ge-o-coc'cyx cal-i-for-ni-an'us. Length, 21 to 23 inches. 



A STRANGE BIRD 25 

The body is slender, but the neck and head are large, and the 
head has a conspicuous crest. The beak is large. Although 
this bird has wings, it seldom uses them, and they must be 
constantly growing smaller through disuse. 

This strange bird is a habitant of the Southwest, from 
Texas to southern California and southward, and lives on the 
ground, in the low, dry brush which is called chaparral (shap- 
a-ral'). It feeds upon every living thing inhabiting that 
region which it can catch and swallow mice, lizards, small 
snakes, centipedes and insects. It is one of the most nervous 
birds imaginable suspicious of everything that moves, and 
ready to make off without stopping to reason why. 

It exhibits a decided preference for the smooth trails and 
paths through its beloved chaparral, and when alarmed it 
does not rise and fly, but makes off running, in the trail. It 
runs with great swiftness and seeming ease, but Dr. D. T. 
MacDougal has been informed that Mexican boys sometimes 
run them down, on foot, and either kill them with sticks or 
catch them alive. 

This bird is also great at leaping, as we have seen in keep- 
ing it in captivity. Instead of flying to the top of a cedar- 
tree perch six feet high, and down again, it always leaps, with 
closed wings; but in leaping up it prefers to take a short run 
to acquire momentum. If this bird goes on ten thousand 
years in its present habits, by the end of that period its de- 
scendants probably will be without the power of flight, but 
provided with legs and feet so strong and full of spring that 
they can leap twenty feet. 



CUCKOOS AND KINGFISHERS 



THE KINGFISHER FAMILY 

Alcedinidae 

This family is widely and beautifully represented in the 
Malay Archipelago, but only three species are found in the 
United States. The BELTED KiNGFisHER 1 is of almost uni- 
versal distribution throughout North America, from the Arc- 




THE BELTED KINGFISHER. 

tic Barren Grounds to Panama and the West Indies. Go 
where you will, in its season, where small fish abide, there 
will you find it. It is dignified, handsome, alert and a true 
sportsman. Its favorite perch is a dead limb over still water, 
from which it can command a wide view, and swoop to the 
surface of the water in five seconds of time. You will know 
it by its bright-blue upper surface; high and saucy crest; long, 
dagger-like beak; white under surface and broad belt of blue 

1 Cer'y-le al'cy-on. Length, about 12 inches. 



THE BELTED KINGFISHER 27 

around the upper breast. Its cry is a metallic rattle, like 
"Churr-r-r-r-r-r!" and its food is small fish. It nests in a 
hole dug several feet horizontally into a perpendicular bank 
of earth, near water, or in a hollow tree. 

Now and then complaints are uttered against our old 
belted friend, because he catches and eats small fishes, quite 
as if some one grudged him his daily food. All such complaints 
are totally unworthy of real men, and I trust that as long as 
our country endures, we will hear no more of them. When this 
country becomes too poor, or too mean, to support the few 
kingfishers that remain in it, it will be time for all Americans to 
emigrate. 

The feather millinery trade has been very destructive to 
the kingfishers. At the first feather auction in London fol- 
lowing the closing of the American market on October 4, 
1913, 22,810 skins of kingfishers were returned to their owners 
because they could not be sold. But for our new law, those 
skins would probably have been consumed in our country as 
hat ornaments. 



CHAPTER XXIII 
ORDER OF PARROTS AND MACAWS 

PSITTACI 

^T^HE parrots, parrakeets, macaws and cockatoos form a 
* large group, containing in all more than 500 species. Of 
these, about 150 inhabit the New World, but only one species 
is found in the United States. South America contains the 
greatest number of species; Africa and Asia are but poorly 
supplied, and Europe has none. The widest departures 
from the standard types are found in New Zealand and 
Australia. 

Although these birds are by nature thoroughly tropical, 
some of them range far into the temperate zones. This 
Order contains a larger proportion of beautifully colored birds 
than any other. Among the parrots, parrakeets, macaws and 
lories, there is a lavish display of brilliant scarlet, crimson, 
blue, green, yellow and purple, while all save a few of the 
cockatoos are snowy white. 

The members of this Order are specially distinguished by 
their bills and feet. Of the former, the lower mandible is a 
short but powerful gouge, while the upper mandible is a big 
hook, with a thick and heavy base, and a long, sharp point. 

The foot of a bird of this Order is evenly divided, with the 

28 



VARIETIES OF PARROTS 29 

second and third toes pointing forward, and the first and 
fourth pointing back. The tails of most parrots are rather 
short, and square at the end, and the legs are very short. 
With but one or two exceptions, all the 500 species of this 
Order feed upon fruit, seeds and flowers. 

THE PARROTS are celebrated by reason of the natural in- 
clination of some species to mimicry, and their ability to learn 
to talk. They are naturally sedate and observant, possess 
excellent memories and are fond of the companionship of 
man. The broad, fleshy tongue of a parrot renders possible 
the articulation of many vocal sounds, and when a certain 
phrase is endlessly repeated to a parrot that is secluded from 
other sounds, the bird is sometimes moved to remember and 
repeat it. The African Gray Parrot is the most celebrated 
talker, and its value is from $15 upward. Next in rank comes 
the Mexican Double Yellow-Head, although the Carthagena 
Parrot, being a good talker and a more hardy bird, is rapidly 
becoming more popular. Of both these species, the price in 
the New York bird-stores is from $10 to $12. 

The parrot of the most remarkable habits is the KEA, of 
New Zealand, a bird with very large and strong feet, which 
not only loves fresh mutton, but sometimes kills sheep on its 
own account, for food purposes. 

THE PARRAKEETS are really small, trim-built parrots, with 
long, sharp-pointed tails. Excepting the Thick-Billed Par- 
rot, which has been seen in southern Arizona, this Family con- 
tains the only member of the Order Psittaci which inhabits 
the United States. The CAROLINA PARRAKEET* once ranged 

1 Co-nu'rus carolinensis. Length, about 12 inches. 



30 PARROTS AND MACAWS 

northward in summer to Maryland, Lake Erie and Iowa, and 
as far west as Colorado; but now all that is only so much 
history. To this charming little green-and-yellow bird, we 
are in the very act of bidding everlasting farewell. Ten 
specimens remain alive in captivity, six of which are in the 
Cincinnati Zoological Garden, three are in the Washington 
Zoological Park and one is in the New York Zoological 
Park. 

Regarding wild specimens, it is possible that some yet re- 
main in some obscure and neglected corner of Florida; but 
it is extremely doubtful whether the world ever will find any 
of them alive. Mrs. Minnie Moore Willson, of Kissimee, 
Florida, reports the species as totally extinct in Florida. 
Unless we would strain at a gnat, we may just as well enter 
this species in the dead class; for there is no reason to hope 
that any more wild specimens ever will be found. 

The former range of this species embraced the whole south- 
eastern and central United States. From the Gulf it ex- 
tended to Albany, New York, northern Ohio and Indiana, 
northern Iowa, Nebraska, central Colorado and eastern 
Texas, from which it will be seen that once it was widely dis- 
tributed. It was shot because it was destructive to fruit and 
for its plumage, and many were trapped alive, to be kept in 
captivity. I know that one colony, near the mouth of the 
Sebastian River, east coast of Florida, was exterminated in 
1898 by a local hunter, and I regret to say that it was done in 
the hope of selling the living birds to a New York bird-dealer. 
By holding bags over the holes in which the birds were nest- 
ing, the entire colony, of about sixteen birds, was caught. 



EXTINCT EXCEPT IN FLORIDA 



31 



Everywhere else than in Florida the Carolina Parrakeet 
has long been extinct. In 1904 a flock of thirteen birds was 
seen near Lake Okechobee; but in Florida many calamities 
can overtake a flock of birds in ten years. The birds in 
captivity are not breeding, and so far as perpetuation by them 




Drawn by Edmund J. Sawyer. 

CAROLINA PARRAKEET. 

is concerned, they are only one remove from mounted museum 
specimens. This parrakeet is the only member of its order 
that ranged into the United States during our own times, 
and with its disappearance the order Psittaci totally disap- 
pears from our country. 

In color this bird had a bright-green body, and yellow head 
and neck. It fed upon fruit and seeds, and nested in hollow 
trees. 



32 PARROTS AND MACAWS 

THE MACAWS are large, showy birds with very long, pointed 
tails, and the most awful voices for screeching ever made for 
feathered folk. They are found only in the New World from 
Mexico to Paraguay, and in the Andes up to 10,000 feet. 
Either in flight, or at rest in the green tree-tops, they are ex- 
ceedingly showy and attractive birds, and to find a flock in 
the depths of a tropical forest is an event to be remembered. 
In hunting macaws in the delta of the Orinoco, about every 
fourth bird that was mortally wounded would hook its beak 
over a small branch, die and hang there until I would be re- 
luctantly compelled to make my fellow collector, who was a 
good climber, climb up to the bird and throw it down, with 
much anger and unnecessary violence. 

It is a pity that such beautiful birds should have such ear- 
splitting, nerve-racking voices. Although they seldom can be 
taught to talk, never cease to scream until dead, and are very 
apt to bite most unexpectedly, they are often kept as house- 
hold pets. 

THE BLUE-AND-YELLOW MACAW/ orange-yellow below 
and cobalt-blue above, is one of the species most frequently 
seen in captivity. In the bird-stores of New York they sell 
at from $10 to $15 each. The Red-and-Blue Macaw is an- 
other common species. The beautiful plum-colored bird oc- 
casionally seen is the Hyacinthine Macaw, from Brazil. 

THE COCKATOOS are mostly but not all snow-white 
birds, with lofty and beautiful triangular crests which can 
be erected at will, with striking effect. They inhabit Aus- 

1 Ar'a ar-a-rau'na. Length, about 30 inches, of which the tail constitutes 
about 18 inches. 



AFFECTIONATE COMPANIONS 33 

tralia, Celebes, the Philippines and the southern islands of the 
Malay Archipelago. They are easily tamed, talk readily, 
take kindly to training and become very affectionate and 
satisfactory companions. 



CHAPTER XXIV 
ORDER OF BIRDS OF PREY 

RAPTORES 

TO every farmer and poultry -raiser the birds of this Order 
are divided into two groups, friends and enemies. In- 
asmuch as feathered friends are to be encouraged, and all 
enemies slain, the standing of each species becomes a life- 
or-death matter. America is a wide and populous country, 
and despite the labors of the Biological Survey of the Depart- 
ment of Agriculture, there are yet millions of persons who 
desire precise information regarding our hawks and owls. 
Because of the economic importance of the subject, we will 
devote a liberal amount of space and effort to the important 
members of this group. The Families of the Order are as 

follows : 

ORDER RAPTORES 

FAMILIES EXAMPLES 

BARN OWLS Stri-gi'dae Barn, or Monkey-Faced, Owls. 

~ D , ,. , { Horned, Burrowing, Snowy and 

HORNED OWLS . . Bu-boni-dae. . . . { , ^ , 



Screech Owls. 

HAWKS Fal-con'i-dae . . . .Hawks, Kites, Buzzards and Eagles. 

VULTURES Ca-ihar'ti-dae California, Turkey and Black Vultures. 

THE BARN OWL FAMILY 

Strigidae 

It is now a well-established fact that some owls are among 
the most beneficial of all birds, inflicting little damage upon 

the producers of poultry, and conferring vast benefits upon the 

34 



BUSY FROM SUNSET TO SUNRISE 



farmer by the destruction of mammal and insect pests. In- 
asmuch as their regular working hours are from sunset to 
sunrise, they wage successful war on the nocturnal mammals 
which remain quiet during the daytime in order to escape 
hawks and other daylight enemies. 




SKELETON OF A BIRD OF PREY. (BALD EAGLE.) 



1. Upper mandible. 

2. Lower mandible. 

3. Hyoid. 

4. External nostril. 

5. Orbit. 



G. Occiput. 

7. Cervical vertebrae. 

8. Clavicles. 

9. Coracoid. 
10. Ulna. 



21. Digits of foot. 



11. Radius. 

12. Carpals. 

13. Metacarpals. 

14. Digits. 

15. Sternum. 



16. Keel of sternum. 

17. Pelvis. 

18. Fibula. 

19. Tibia. 

20. Tarsus. 



36 BIRDS OF PREY 

Owls are exceedingly interesting birds, and in them there 
is also much to admire. They take life seriously; they have 
but few nerves, and seldom use them. Rarely do they become 
really tame or affectionate, but easily become very indignant 
at real or fancied affronts. Like many people of few words 
and solemn manner, they are not nearly so wise as they look. 
They are easily caught in steel traps, or shot; and they are 
much given to nesting in situations that are wide open to at- 
tack. 

Omitting the subspecies which are only geographic races 
there are eighteen species of owls in North America, north 
of Mexico. They vary in size from the tiny elf owl, of Ari- 
zona, only six inches in total length, to the great gray owl, of 
the arctic regions, thirty inches long. 

With the exception of the great horned owl, and about 
three other species, the owls of our country are by no means 
so destructive to poultry and wild bird life as is generally sup- 
posed. The great majority of the species feed upon wild 
mice, rats, squirrels, shrews, fish, crustaceans and insects; 
and some of them render great service to man. Nearly all 
owls are nigljt-flyers, and by reason of their soft, fluffy plu- 
mage, which renders their flight quite noiseless, they are spe- 
cially fitted to keep in check the grand army of destructive 
rodents that roam abroad under cover of darkness. 

Owls do very well in captivity, provided they are properly 
housed and fed, and have comfortable perches to sit upon. 
Naturally, they are most active at night, and quiet in the day- 
time. Be it known, however, that they cannot live long on a 
steady diet of beefsteak. Every owl must have a liberal al- 



THE FOOD OF OWLS 37 

lowance of small birds, like English sparrows, and, if possible, 
an occasional small mammal, in each case with the feathers 
or hair upon it. Nature has constructed the owl to devour 
its prey entire feathers, hair, bones and all, on the spot 
where it is captured. 

By a curious rotary action of the stomach, all the desirable 
elements are extracted and assimilated, and the indigestible 
refuse hair, feathers, bones, claws, etc. is rolled into a ball 
called a "pellet," which is cast up, and expelled through the 
mouth. These pellets are sometimes collected at roos ting- 
places, and when carefully examined by expert zoologists, it is 
possible to identify most of the animal remains, and tell what 
the bird has fed upon. 

THE BARN OWL, or MONKEY-FACED OwL, 1 is the most 
oddly shaped of all the owls; it has the smoothest and most 
compact plumage, and proportionately the longest legs. Its 
general color is that of scorched linen light brownish-yellow. 
Each small black eye is the centre of a sunburst of radiating 
feathers, and the whole face is surrounded by a heart-shaped 
ring of brown. 

The Barn Owl is to rats and mice as the cuckoo is to the 
caterpillar. As a destroyer of the meanest vermin on earth 
(rats and mice) this bird has no equal. Whether north or 
south, in the tropics or the temperate zone, it loves to live 
under the roofs of civilized man, especially in church belfries, 
where it is not molested. In the town of Barrancas, at the 
head of the Orinoco delta, some Venezuelan boys piloted me 
into the best church in the place, showed me two Barn Owls 

1 Strix pra-tiri 'co-la. Length, from 15 to 17 inches. 



38 



BIRDS OF PREY 



nesting over the altar, and urged me to shoot them then and 
there. My refusal because the birds were very thoroughly 
"in sanctuary" was with difficulty comprehended. 




N. Y. Zoological Park. 



BARN OWL. 



Many observations on the food habits of this bird have 
been made by examining the pellets that have been gathered 
from its roos ting-place. In June, 1890, Dr. A. K. Fisher col- 
lected 200 pellets that had accumulated from two birds that 
roosted and nested in one of the towers of the Smithsonian 
building. These contained 454 skulls, of which 225 were of 
meadow mice, 2 of pine mice, 179 of house mice, 20 were of 



THE HORNED-OWL FAMILY 39 

rats, 6 of jumping mice, 20 shrews, 1 star-nosed mole and 1 
vesper sparrow. 

The Barn Owl rarely molests birds probably never does 
so except when forced by hunger and all over the world, 
wherever it is found, its favorite food is mice and rats. The 
number an industrious pair will destroy in a year is really 
very great, and this species deserves the most careful protec- 
tion that man can give it. Fortunately, it and its subspecies 
are very widely distributed, more cosmopolitan, in fact, than 
any other owl, save the short-eared. 

THE HORNED-OWL FAMILY 

Bubonidae 

THE LONG-EARED OwL 1 looks like a small and imperfect 
imitation of the great horned owl. It can always be distin- 
guished by its small size, and the fact that its horns appear to 
have been set too close together on the top of its head, and 
do not fit very well. Its total length is about 15 inches, and 
its general color is a fine mottling of gray, tawny and black, 
which produces a brownish-gray bird. It is found all over 
the United States. 

The food of this very useful bird consists mainly of mice. 
In April, 1888, at Munson Hill, Virginia, Dr. Fisher collected 
about 50 pellets from under a tree in which a Long-Eared 
Owl had roosted, and found that they contained the following 
remains: 95 meadow mice, 19 pine mice, 15 house mice, 5 
white-footed mice, 3 Cooper's mice, 26 short-tailed shrews 
and 13 birds. Of the birds, there were 11 sparrows, 1 blue- 

1 A'si-o wil-son-i-an'us. 



40 BIRDS OF PREY 

bird and 1 warbler. Of this species Dr. Fisher says: "It is 
both cruel and pernicious to molest a bird so valuable and in- 
nocent as the one under consideration." 

THE SHORT-EARED OwL 1 is of about the same size as the 
preceding species, but its ears are so short that they look like 
two small feathers that have been thrust carelessly into the 
plumage directly above the eyes. Above, it is a brownish- 
yellow bird, and buffy white underneath. It is found from the 
arctic regions of North America to Patagonia, and throughout 
nearly the whole of the Old World except Australasia. Its 
food habits are very similar to those of the long-eared owl, 
and it is equally deserving of a perpetual close season. 

THE BARRED OwL 2 has not so good a reputation as the 
three noticed above, but its record is not entirely bad. Out 
of 100 stomachs examined by the Biological Survey, three con- 
tained domestic fowls, one a ruffed grouse and one a pigeon. 
Six contained screech owls, one a saw-whet owl, three held 
sparrows, one a woodpecker, and two small birds were not 
identified. Against this debit was a credit of 46 mice, 18 
other small mammals, 4 frogs, 1 lizard, 2 fishes, 2 spiders, 9 
crawfish and 20 empties. The 18 small mammals consisted 
of 5 red squirrels, 1 flying squirrel, 1 chipmunk, 4 rabbits, 2 
shrew r s, 2 moles, 1 weasel and 2 rats. 

From this very exact evidence, the reader can judge of the 
value or lack of value of this bird to the country at large. It 
does not seem as if the forty-six mice are a fair equivalent for 
the useful birds and small mammals destroyed. 

1 A'si-o ac-cip-i-tri'nus. Length, from 14 to 16 inches. 

2 Syr'ni-um va'ri-um. 



DECLARED TO BE A PEST 41 

On the evidence available I am convinced that the Barred 
Owl does far more harm than good, that it clearly belongs in 
the class of intolerable bird pests and therefore should be 
destroyed. 

The Barred Owl is next in size to the great horned owl. 
It is from 20 to 22 inches long, heavy bodied, round headed 




Photograph and copyright, 1902, by W. L. Underwood. 
BARRED OWLS. 

and quite without "horns," or "ears." Its head, neck and 
breast are marked by many black horizontal bars on a gray 
or creamy-white ground, and the breast and abdomen have a 
few thick, perpendicular bars. Many times a big Barred Owl 
of my acquaintance has exclaimed to me through the darkness, 
in a fearfully hollow and sepulchral voice: "Who? Who- 
who-who-who-w/io-WHO? Ah!" It is like the war-cry of an 
angry ghost. 

This bird ranges throughout the eastern half of the United 
States, and westward almost to the Rocky Mountains; and 



42 BIRDS OF PREY 

it frequently finds its way into captivity. In hunting it is 
so courageous and determined that frequently it catches 
aviary birds through wire netting, and kills and devours them 
through meshes only one inch square. 

THE GREAT GRAY OwL 1 is the largest member of this 
Family found in the New World. It is an arctic bird, one- 
fourth larger than the great horned owl, and even in winter 
has never wandered farther south than the Ohio River. In 
Alaska and British Columbia it inhabits the timbered regions, 
and does not wander far into the treeless Barren Grounds. 
Any one who captures a very large owl of a dusky -brown or 
dusky -gray color, larger than a great horned owl, but with no 
ear-tufts, may know that he has secured a specimen of the rare 
and handsome Great Gray Owl. 

THE SAW- WHET OwL 2 is a very small Owl, and so shy that 
few people ever see it; but it feeds almost exclusively upon 
mice, and any bird which wages perpetual war on those pests 
deserves honorable mention in these pages. In appearance 
it looks very much like a small gray -phase screech owl without 
ears. It may be looked for but it will seldom be found 
almost anywhere in the United States from the international 
boundary to the Gulf states and California. 

THE SCREECH OWL S with an awful shiver in its voice, 
but no screech whatever is so widely distributed, and so 
easily affected by climatic variations, that the original species 
has been split up into eight varieties, or subspecies. Thus we 
now have the Texas, California, Rocky Mountain, Mexican 

1 Sco-ti-ap'tex neb-u-lo'sa. Length, 25 to 30 inches. 

2 Nyc'ta-la a-ca'di-ca. Length, 8 inches. 

3 Meg'as-cops a'si-o. Length, 7 to 9 inches. 



THE SCREECH OWL 



43 



and Florida Screech Owls, and others too numerous to men- 
tion. The differences between all these are not very great. 
Let each American know his own Screech Owl, and study its 
habits, and he will then know the others quite well enough for 
all practical purposes. 

To me, the cry of this little Owl is one of the most doleful 
sounds in animated nature, not even excepting the howl of 




N. Y. Zoological Park. 

SCREECH OWL. 

a wolf. It is like the quivering, shivering, heart-broken wail 
of a lost spirit, and suggests chattering teeth and freezing 
vocal chords. Written out it is "Woe-woe-woe-woe-woe-woe- 
woe ah!" But no phonetic spelling can even suggest the 
high-pitched mental and physical anguish expressed in the 
cry that one hears. 

The Screech Owl is a round-bodied little fellow, sometimes 



44 BIRDS OF PREY 

almost as broad as it is high; and its v head is surmounted at 
its front corners by very respectable ears. In its gray phase, 
this bird looks very much like a dwarf great horned owl; but 
of course the black markings are not the same. 

This Owl exhibits a peculiarity in color which must be 
specially noted. It has two distinct and widely different 
colors, red and gray. In the same locality will be found owls 
that are of a cold, black-and-white gray color, and others that 
are pale rusty-red, with white mottlings on the abdomen. 
For this very odd development, we are quite unable to ac- 
count; and such lawless color variations are called "phases," 
possibly because they phase the naturalists who try to study 
out their whys and wherefores. 

In its food habits, the Screech Owl prefers, if it can pro- 
cure them,- mice, grasshoppers, locusts, cut- worms, beetles, 
caterpillars, crickets, spiders, lizards, frogs and crawfish. If 
these are lacking, it attacks the English sparrow and almost 
any other small bird that comes handy, usually other spar- 
rows. To show that when very hungry all birds look alike 
to him, he occasionally kills and eats a bird of his own species ! 
Dr. A. K. Fisher's report on the "Hawks and Owls of the 
United States" sets forth in full detail the results of the ex- 
amination of 255 stomachs of Screech Owls, of which the 
following is a summary of contents: 100 contained insects; 
91, mice; 12, English sparrows; 26, other birds; 11, miscel- 
laneous mammals; 9, crawfish; 7, miscellaneous food; 5, 
spiders; 5, frogs; 2, lizards; 2, scorpions; 2, earth-worms; 1, 
poultry; 1, fish; and 43 were empty. The following is a full 
list of the birds found: 12 English sparrows, 9 other sparrows, 



HIS FATE IN THE BALANCE 45 

3 juncos, 2 Screech Owls, 1 shore-lark, 1 water thrush and 15 
unrecognized. 

Leaving out the two Screech Owls, of the birds that were 
identified, the English sparrows formed practically one-half. On 




YOUNG SCREECH OWLS. 



this basis we will allow that of the unrecognized birds 7 were 

song birds. Add these to the 15 recognized song birds and we 

have a total of 21 song birds out of 255 stomachs examined. 

The question is, What shall be the fate of the Screech Owl 

encouragement, toleration or limitation? To me it seems 

that the number of Screech Owls should be strictly limited 

for the benefit of the song birds; but I do not believe in their 

extermination. 



46 BIRDS OF PREY 

THE GREAT HORNED OwL 1 is, by necessity, an aerial 
pirate and highway robber the tiger of the air. Its temper 
is fierce and intractable, and if you attempt to make friends 
with one in captivity, it will hiss like a snake, snap its beak 
like an angry peccary, and dare you to come on. Of all the 
birds I know, there is no other so persistently savage in cap- 
tivity as this bloody-minded game-killer. Of course, the Owl 
is not to blame for the raw-meat appetite which Nature gave 
him, and for which he feels bound to provide; but there is no 
reason why he should have a temper like a black leopard to- 
ward those who feed him. 

"Of all the birds of prey, with the exception, possibly, of 
the goshawk and Cooper's hawk," says Dr. A. K. Fisher, 
"the Great Horned Owl is the most destructive to poultry. 
All kinds of poultry seem to be taken, though when Guinea- 
fowls and turkeys are obtainable, it shows a preference for 
these. In sections of the country where it is common, the 
inhabitants complain bitterly of its ravages." In the museum 
of the Philadelphia Academy is an Owl which carried off from 
one farm twenty-seven individuals of various kinds of poultry 
before it was shot. 

But let us give even the Horned Owl its just due. Mr. 
O. E. Niles, of Ohio, once found in a nest of this bird "several 
full-grown Norway rats with their skulls opened and brains 
removed," and on the ground under the tree which contained 
the nest he found "the bodies of one hundred and thirteen rats, 
most of them full grown!" Now, in the course of a year, 
would not one hundred and thirteen Norway rats consume 

1 Bu'bo virginianus. Length, from 20 to 24 inches. 



JUSTICE FOR THE GREAT HORNED OWL 



47 



and destroy enough grain to feed one hundred and ten head 
of poultry? 

This is the summary of the contents of 127 stomachs of 
Great Horned Owls examined by the Biological Survey: 31 




GREAT HORNED OWL. 

With "horns" laid back in anger. 



contained poultry or game birds; 8 contained other birds; 13 
contained mice; 65 contained other mammals; 1 contained a 
fish; 1 contained a scorpion; 10 contained insects; and 17 
contained nothing. 



48 



BIRDS OF PREY 



The bird-food represented the following: 21 domestic 
birds, 11 song birds, 3 ruffed grouse, 2 quail, 1 pinnated grouse, 
1 pigeon, 1 rail, 1 wild duck, 1 Cooper's hawk and 2 unknown. 

The mammals found were as follows: 46 mice and rats, 
32 rabbits and hares, 7 shrews, 5 squirrels, 3 chipmunks, 4 
pocket gophers, 2 skunks, 1 weasel and 1 bat. 







Photograph by E. R. Warren. 

YOUNG GREAT HORNED OWLS. 

Beyond question, the debit balance against this bird is 
heavy, and justifies its destruction, wherever found; but at 
the same time, it goes against the grain to kill a bird which 
destroys so many rats. In British Columbia the Great Horned 
Owls became so fearfully destructive to grouse that finally the 
provincial game warden began systematically to destroy them. 
In the two years, 1910-11, 3,139 were killed, after which it 
was noticed that the grouse began to increase. 



A BIRD OF THE ARCTIC WASTES 49 

The Great Horned Owl, or Hoot Owl, as it is frequently 
called, is a bird of dignified and imposing appearance. Its 
big, round-topped horns of feathers are singularly like cats' 
ears in shape, and when with these are seen the fiercely glaring 
eyes of yellow and black, the half -yellow face and fluffy white 
feathers on the throat, the whole head of this bird is singularly 
like that of a Bengal tiger. The body plumage is a complex 
mottling and barring of black and brown, dull yellow and 
white, impossible to describe successfully. 

But this bird can always be recognized by its large size, 
cat's-ear "horns," and the fine, black horizontal bars across 
its breast-feathers. From wing to wing, across its upper 
breast there is an assemblage of heavy splashes of black. 

The eastern Great Horned Owl is the type species on 
which are based the Western, Arctic, Dusky and Pacific Horned 
Owls, which in combination cover practically the whole of 
North America down to Costa Rica. By reason of the live 
food available in winter, these birds are not migratory. 

THE SNOWY OwL 1 is a bird of the Arctic wastes, and 
reaches the northern United States only as a winter visitor. 
Its occurrence with us varies from a total scarcity during 
some years to an abundance during others. During Decem- 
ber, 1886 the beginning of the awful winter which killed 
over ninety per cent of the range cattle in Montana we saw 
in the country in which we were hunting buffalo, in central 
Montana, at least twenty-five Snowy Owls. They were living 
on hares, rabbits and sage grouse, out in the open, twenty 
miles from the nearest timber. It was their habit to alight 

1 Nyc'te-a nyc'te-a. Average length, about 23 inches, the female being larger 
than the male. 



50 BIRDS OF PREY 

upon the tops of the low buttes, in reality upon the ground, 
from which they could survey a wide circle of sagebrush 
plains. Whenever there is an annual "flight" of Snowy Owls, 
they are always particularly numerous in Minnesota. 

But for its perfectly round and rather comical-looking 
head, this bird would be the most beautiful of all American 
owls. Its plumage varies from almost spotless snow-white, 
in some individuals, to white barred all over with narrow 
horizontal bands of black which is really the standard color 
plan. The number and width of the black bands vary ex- 
ceedingly in different individuals, some birds being rendered 
much darker than others. 

The food of this species consists of every kind of wild 
bird or small mammal it can catch; but there is no evidence 
that it ever destroys poultry. In summer, when its far- 
northern home is full of migratory birds, nesting and rearing 
their young, its bill of fare is quite varied, but in winter it is 
confined to such winter residents as the ptarmigan, hare, 
rabbit, sage grouse and such small rodents as dare to venture 
forth from their burrows. 

With the BURROWING OwL 1 of the western plains, the Owl 
Family may justly be regarded as "run to earth." This odd 
little owl does take shelter in the mouths of prairie-" dog " 
holes, but so far as I am aware there is no proof that it ever 
descends to the bottom of a burrow, or that it is chummy with 
the rattlesnake. It is reasonably certain that no owl in 
its right mind ever would fraternize with a rattlesnake, and 
neither would a prairie-" dog." 

1 Spe-ot'i-to cu-nic-u-la'ri-a hy-po'gae-a. Average length, about 10 inches. 



THE BURROWING OWL 51 

The Burrowing Owl lives in the plains of the West and 
Southwest, from North Dakota to southern California. A 
closely related species is found in Florida, where it easily digs 
burrows in the sandy soil. 

Many persons have the idea that this Owl is unable to 
dig, and is therefore dependent upon prairie-" dogs " and 




Photograph by C. William Beebe, N. Y. Zoological Park. 
SNOWY OWL. 

badgers for a home. This is entirely erroneous. In soil 
that is reasonably loose, the Burrowing Owl is a most in- 
dustrious and successful digger, and with his feet flings out 
the loose dirt and gravel in a shower. A pair of western 
birds which we kept in one of the bird-houses of the New York 
Zoological Park for two years burrowed so deeply into the 



52 BIRDS OF PREY 

big pile of solid gravel in their enclosure that its interior be- 
came a perfect cavern. 

In the land of plains and prairie-" dogs," the Burrowing 
Owl is a frequent corollary to a "dog" town, sitting on the 
highest point of a burrow mound, or, if alarmed, taking short 
flights to the suburbs. Between bird and rodent there ap- 
pears to exist a modus vivendi, which is good so long as the 
bird does not come within reach of the legitimate owner of 
the burrow. As already mentioned (vol. I, p. 205), when the 
two are intimately mixed, the prairie-" dog " quickly kills the 
Burrowing Owl. It seems practically certain that the bird 
inhabits only the mouth of the prairie-" dog's" burrow, or 
burrows that have been abandoned. 

This owl is far too small to kill even a half -grown "dog"; 
besides which, its favorite diet is grasshoppers, locusts, other 
insects, lizards and scorpions. It is to be noticed that, in 
32 stomachs examined in Washington, one really did contain 
a portion of a prairie-" dog," and 2 contained 1 mouse each, 
but 33 contained insects only, some of them showing from 49 
to 60 each of locusts and grasshoppers. 

The color of a Burrowing Owl is a grayish mixture, dark- 
est on the back, and lighter below, and the legs are long and 
naked, like those of a sharp-shinned hawk. In captivity our 
specimens dug extensive burrows for themselves, in doing 
which they threw out gravel and earth with astonishing force. 
They are savage little wretches, and murder each other at a 
shocking rate. The males fight savagely, and the western 
species will not live peacefully with that of Florida. 



HASTY AND UNINTELLIGENT ACTION UNWISE 53 

THE HAWKS AND EAGLES 

Falconidae 

This section of the Order Raptores contains a remarkable 
assemblage of forms, and the wide differences between some 
of the groups add zest to the study of them. Some are ex- 
pert in fishing, some are of dignified and imposing bearing, 
some have beauty of plumage and one is the most beautiful flier 
in all the bird world. Not very many years ago most people 
regarded all hawks as so many robbers, deserving death. 

In 1893 the investigations of the Department of Agri- 
culture revealed the surprising fact that of all the forty-one 
species of day-flying birds of prey in North America, there 
were only four species whose destructiveness so far outweighed 
their useful services that they deserve to be destroyed. The 
others are either harmless to man's interests, or else so posi- 
tively beneficial that they deserve careful protection. Beyond 
doubt, the careful and thorough investigations made by the 
Biological Survey and the publication of the results have 
resulted in the correction of popular errors which if persisted 
in would have caused enormous losses to the farmers of the 
United States. 

As an object lesson, take the case of Pennsylvania. 

In 1885 the legislature of that state enacted a law aimed 
at the wholesale destruction of hawks and owls, and author- 
izing the various counties to pay cash bounties for the "scalps" 
of those birds, at the rate of fifty cents each. Immediately 
the work of slaughter began. Many thousand scalps of hawks 
and owls were brought in, and over $90,000 were paid out for 



54 BIRDS OF PREY 

them. At the same time, thousands of birds were killed that 
were neither hawks nor owls, and the collection of freak heads 
is a permanent joke in the office of the State Game Commis- 
sion. It has been estimated that the "saving" to the agri- 
cultural interests of the state amounted to $1 for every 
$1,205 paid out as bounties! In this manner the balance of 
Nature was quickly and completely destroyed. 

The awakening came even more swiftly than any one ex- 
pected. By the end of two years from the passage of the very 
injudicious "hawk law," the farmers found their field crops 
and orchards so completely overrun by destructive mice, rats 
and insects, they appealed to the legislature for the quick 
repeal of the law. This was brought about with all possible 
haste. It was estimated by competent judges that the "hawk 
law" cost the farmers and fruit-growers of Pennsylvania not 
less than $2,000,000 in actual losses on valuable crops. 

The moral of this episode is it is always dangerous, and 
often calamitous, to disturb violently the balance of Nature, either 
by the destruction of existing species of birds or mammals, or by 
the introduction of new ones. 

And here is another principle that I commend to every 
person who may be called upon to sit in judgment on any wild 
species that is charged with being a "pest" species: Always 
take evidence on both sides; and never condemn any species until 
the evidence against it is direct, conclusive and fit to stand in a 
court of law. 

THE AMERICAN OSPREY, or FISH HAWK/ is, by common 
consent, regarded as a sort of connecting link between the 

1 Paridi-on hal-i-ae-e'tus carolinensis. Average length, about 24 inches; 
weight, 3 pounds. 



EXPLOITS OF THE OSPREYS 55 

Owl and Falcon Families. It is a good bird to lead a large 
Family, and it is to be regretted that those who dwell far from 
the searcoast and large rivers lack opportunities for becoming 
w r ell acquainted with it. Surely this bold fisher, who thinks 




AMERICAN OSPREY. 



nothing of dropping a hundred feet into ice-cold water, seiz- 
ing a fish of nearly half its own weight and flying five miles 
with it, must appeal to every man and boy who loves the 
grasp of a good rod, and the musical click of a reel. 

The boat trip up the Shrewsbury River, from New York 
to Long Branch, is worth taking in midsummer solely for the 
sight of the Ospreys, winging slowly over the still lagoon, 



56 BIRDS OF PREY 

stalking their finny prey, and anon plunging with a loud 
splash into the water. Sometimes the bold fishers go quite 
out of sight. The most surprising thing about such perform- 
ances is the size of the fish that an Osprey can lift and carry 
away. 

In carrying a fish, an Osprey always grasps it on the back, 
with one talon well ahead of the other, and the head of the 
fish pointing straight forward. This is to secure a minimum 
of resistance from the air, and render it an easy matter to 
steer the prize to the home nest, or to a tall tree on which it 
may be devoured at leisure. It is no wonder that a three- 
pound Osprey carrying a one-pound fish is moved to jettison 
his cargo when he sees a hostile bald eagle bearing down upon 
him with empty claws, and his decks cleared for action. 

The story of the Osprey s of Gardiner's Island is a most 
interesting chapter in bird life. The owner of that island is a 
relentless enemy to cats and gunners, and a fierce protector 
of all the wild life on the island, which is wholly his. His 
weapons are loaded for hunters only, and for several years 
the Ospreys have bred regularly around Mr. Gardiner's house, 
and all over the island. One pair of birds has occupied the 
same nest year after year, adding to the mass each year, until 
the nest contains a wagon -load of sticks of many sizes, and 
measures six feet in diameter. To-day, strange to relate, 
some of the Ospreys are nesting practically upon the ground, 
serenely confident of their security from all harm. 

The Osprey is built like a light-weight athlete, all bone, 
tendon, hard muscle and wing power, and no fat. Its long, 
half-naked legs and powerful claws remind one of patent 



THE SMALLEST AMERICAN HAWK 



57 



grappling-hooks. The wings are long and acutely pointed, 
going well beyond the end of the tail. The whole neck and 
lower surface of the bird are white, but the back, wings and 
upper surface of the tail are dark-colored, as also is the upper 




SPARROW HAWK. 

half of the head. The plumage is compact, smooth and oily, 
as befits a diving bird. 

In summer this bird is at home on the sea-coast from Alaska 
and Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, and along a few rivers, 
but in winter it migrates to southern Florida, the West In- 
dies and northern South America. 



58 BIRDS OF PREY 

The jaunty little SPARROW HAWK 1 is the smallest Amer- 
ican hawk, and also the most beautiful. Its form is elegant, 
and its colors are varied and pleasing. As if desirous of ad- 
miration, it tolerates man at shorter range than any other 
hawk I know. Its cap is dull blue, its throat white with 
black side-patches, and its upper neck and back are bright 
rusty-brown. Its breast is salmon color, sparingly spotted, 
its knickerbockers are white, and its tarsi and feet are bright 
yellow. It inhabits the whole United States, and on north- 
ward to Great Slave Lake, but I think it is most plentiful on 
the prairie farms of the middle West. 

As a destroyer of grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, cater- 
pillars and other insect enemies, this little Hawk deserves to 
rank with the birds most beneficial to man. For so small a 
bird, the number of grasshoppers it consumes in a year is 
enormous. It never molests poultry, and when insects are 
obtainable never kills a song bird, but it does destroy great 
numbers of mice. It is reported that, of 320 stomachs exam- 
ined, 215 contained insects; 29, spiders; 89, mice; 12, other 
mammals; 53, small birds; 1, a game bird; and 29 were 
empty. Many stomachs contained from 10 to 35 grasshoppers 
each, and of other insects from 25 to 40 in one bird was of 
common occurrence. 

It must be noted at this point that when the Sparrow 
Hawk is rearing its young, it does sometimes catch young 
chickens; but the extreme infrequency of this may be judged 
from the fact that in the entire series of 320 specimens ex- 
amined at Washington, taken at all seasons from January to 

1 Fal'co spar-ve'ri-us. Length, 9 to 10 inches. 



CONDEMNED TO DESTRUCTION 59 

December, and throughout a wide range of localities, not one 
stomach contained any remains of a domestic bird. In the 
early spring, before grasshoppers come, Sparrow Hawks often 
follow a plough very closely, to capture the mice that are 
ploughed up. Sometimes this bird is half -domestic in its 
habits, and nests in buildings erected by man. Wherever it 
is found, it should be a welcome visitor. 

THE PIGEON HAWK 1 is a slightly larger bird than the pre- 
ceding, very destructive to song by;ds, of little use to man 
and deserves to be shot wherever found. It kills sparrows, 
thrushes, goldfinches, vireos, bobolinks, swifts and a host of 
other species. Out of 56 specimens examined by Dr. Fisher, 
41 contained small song birds and 2 poultry; 2 only had mice 
and 16 insects. This is a bird of plain colors, being bluish 
gray or brownish above, and lighter below. 

Apparently the DUCK HAWK, 2 a geographic race of the 
PEREGRINE FALCON, never devours a mouse or an insect 
save by mistake. Out of 20 specimens, 7 contained game 
birds or poultry, 9 had eaten song birds, only 2 contained 
insects, and 1 a mouse. You may know this bird by the great 
size and strength of his "pickers and stealers." It can best 
be studied with a rope, a basket and a choke-bore shotgun 
loaded with No. 6 shot. 

First, shoot both male and female birds, then collect the 
nest, and the eggs or young, whichever may be present. In 
doing this, however, be careful not to shoot the Red-Tailed or 
Red- Shouldered Hawk both good friends of ours, who are en- 

1 Fal'co col-um-ba'ri-us. Length of male, about 10 inches; female, 2 to 3 
inches more. 

2 Fal'co per-e-gri'nus an-a'tum. Length of male, 17 inches; female, 19 inches. 



60 BIRDS OF PREY 

titled to protection. A Duck Hawk has no red nor decided 
brown upon it anywhere. In general effect it is a dull black 
bird with a white breast and throat, and white abdomen cross- 
barred with black. It inhabits all of America north of Chili. 

The time was when the BALD EAGLE/ or WHITE-HEADED 
EAGLE, was known to every human being within the limits of 
the United States. To-day there are probably two million 
men in this country, speaking foreign languages only, but 
voting regularly and persistently, who do not know an Eagle 
from a parrot, nor the number of stripes there are in Old Glory. 
It is related by a reliable eye-witness that when an escaped 
parrot recently perched in one of the trees of City Hall Square, 
New York City, a dispute as to its identity was ended satisfac- 
torily by some who oracularly pronounced it an "eagle bird." 

But, no matter how many persons there are in this coun- 
try who do not know our national bird, I will not humiliate 
"Old Baldy" by formally introducing him. To every in- 
telligent American, the perfect bird, with its snow-white head, 
neck and tail, is recognizable at a distance of a mile or more. 
To see one perching on the topmost branch of a dead tree, 
overlooking a water prospect, with its snowy head shining 
in the sunlight like frosted silver, is enough to thrill any be- 
holder. Even when in flight an eagle can be distinguished 
from all other birds by its slow and powerful wing-strokes, 
and the great breadth of its wings, especially near their ex- 
tremities. 

It is unfortunate that this Eagle does not acquire its white 

1 Hal-i-ae-e'tus leu-co-ceph'a-lus. Average length of male, about 34 inches; 
female, 38 inches; spread of wings, from 7 to 8 feet. 



THE BALD EAGLE MERELY WHITE-HEADED 61 

head and tail until its fourth year. The head is fully feath- 
ered, and the name "Bald" refers solely to its white appear- 
ance. Up to three years of age it is of the same general color 
as the golden eagle, and to distinguish the two species it is 
necessary to look at the lowest joint (tarsus) of the leg. If 
it is naked, the bird is a Bald Eagle; but if it is covered with 
feathers quite down to the toes, it is a golden eagle. 

As a rule to which -there are numerous exceptions the 
White-Headed Eagle is found along rivers, and the shores of 
lakes and ponds containing fish. Fish are its favorite food, 
and lambs are purely supplementary. As a regular thing, 
it catches fish out of the water, with neatness and despatch; 
but when it sees an osprey flying by with a large fish in its 
talons, the Eagle does not hesitate to levy tribute on the sub- 
ject bird. Taken thus at a great disadvantage, the fish hawk 
has no option but to drop its fish, and go away to catch an- 
other, while the Eagle catches the prize before it touches the 
water and bears it away. 

This act of the Eagle, and the extra trouble it puts upon 
the fish hawk in catching duplicate fish, is by a few writers 
taken seriously to heart. So is the additional fact that 
Eagles like many human beings often eat dead fish that 
are found floating upon the water, or are cast up on the shore. 
For these, and other reasons equally weighty (!), it has become 
almost a fashion among writers to denounce the Bald Eagle, 
and declare it a shame that such a bird ever was chosen as 
our national standard-bearer. Some have asserted that the 
brave and high-minded wild turkey would have been more 
appropriate ! 



62 BIRDS OF PREY 

Against all of this I have nothing to say. The American 
Eagle needs no defence from me. Whether 

"He clasps the crag with hooked hands, 
Close to the sun in lonely lands," 

or perches defiantly on the United States coat of arms, with 
a brow to threaten or command, he is beloved by at least 
ninety million people who will rise as one whenever he is 
really in need of defenders. Abroad, it once was well-nigh 
an international fashion to flout this bird, and the standard 
he bears; but since May 1, 1900, that fashion has gone out. 
Abroad, those who do not respect this bird fear him, whole- 
somely. At home, it is quite time for all strangers to secure 
an introduction to him, and for some of those who should be 
his friends but are not, to write him down no longer. 

In its distribution, this Eagle ranges over the whole of 
North America from Mexico to Kamchatka. Considering 
the size of this bird, it holds its own remarkably well, even in 
New England. In Florida it is very abundant all along In- 
dian River, and in one locality in the state of Washington 
it is so numerous that its depredations on the flocks of sheep- 
raisers are cause for serious complaint and reprisals. 

In the East so many Eagles are caught alive and offered 
for sale that it is a difficult matter to find sale for one at $10. 
This bird so seldom destroys domestic animals, or game birds, 
there is no excuse for its destruction save possibly in a few 
far-western localities where it happens to be very numerous, 
and evinces a particular fondness for lambs. 

About every six months there appears in some newspaper 



AN EAGLE WITH A BAD RECORD 63 

an account of a child having been attacked by a fierce Eagle, 
and rescued by a heroic mother, or else actually carried off to 
the top of a tall tree or rocky cliff, from which the child was 
finally rescued unhurt, etc., etc. It is quite time that this 
absurd yarn, which is nearly as old as the Swiss Alps in which 
it originated, were consigned to the oblivion it deserves. 
Eagles know what guns are, and nothing is farther from their 
thoughts than attacking the children of civilized man, the 
arch-enemy of all wild life, and the exterminator of species. 

THE GOLDEN EAGLE 1 is in no sense whatever a golden- 
colored bird. Its plumage is dark brown, with a very slight 
outside wash of lighter brown. It would be much more ap- 
propriate to call it the "brown eagle." In appearance it 
looks very much like a white-headed eagle in its second year, 
except that its tarsi are feathered quite down to the toes. By 
this point it can always be distinguished from its nearest 
relative. 

This bird has a very bad record as a destroyer of lambs, 
poultry, game birds, young deer, antelope, rabbits and other 
small mammals. It cares very little for fish, and prefers to 
frequent interior regions, where either domestic animals or 
wild species of good size are abundant. By preference it is 
a bird of the mountains, and although found all the way from 
the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from Mexico to the Arctic 
Ocean, it is most abundant in the great mountain ranges of 
the West. In the cattle country east of the Rockies, many a 
Golden Eagle dies ignominiously from eating poisoned meat 
that is intended for wolves. 

1 A-quil'a chrys-a-e'tos. Size, about the same as the white-headed eagle. 



64 BIRDS OF PREY 

I do not advocate the extermination of this bird: far 
from it; but it does seem quite clear that its numbers should 
be strictly limited by the use of firearms. 

THE HAWKS of North America above Mexico form a group 
of about thirty-four species, not counting subspecies, and the 
conspicuous types are well worth serious attention. 1 Some 
of them are useful to man, and some are so destructive and 
generally useless that they deserve death. It is highly im- 
portant that hawk enemies should be distinguishable from 
hawk friends. 

THE RED-TAILED HAWK 2 is the greatest of all destroyers 
of noxious four-footed animals. It might well be called the 
Mammal-Eater, instead of being universally miscalled the 
HEN HAWK, or CHICKEN HAWK. 

The species of the above name inhabits the entire eastern 
half of the United States, and ranges westward to the Rocky 
Mountains, where it meets the subspecies known as the 
Western Red-Tail. By reason of the abundance of this bird, 
and its undoubted influence for good or evil upon agricultural 
communities, the Department of Agriculture has made a 
study of it which was particularly thorough. From Arizona 
to Connecticut, and in all seasons of the year, collections were 
made, until finally 562 stomachs had been collected and ex- 
amined. 

The result was a complete vindication of the moral char- 

1 To avoid the possibility of confusion, attention is called to the fact that the 
sparrow hawk, pigeon hawk and duck hawk, already described, belong to Falco, 
the genus of the falcons, a group quite distinct from those of the hawks now to be 
introduced. 

2 Bu'te-o bo-re-al'is. Average length of male, about 21 inches; female, 24 
inches. 



A USEFUL HAWK 65 

acter of the previously despised and persecuted "Hen Hawk." 
Two hundred and seventy -eight specimens contained mice; 131, 
other mammals; 54, poultry or game birds; 51, other birds; 
47, insects; 37, amphibians and reptiles; 13, offal; 8, craw- 
fish, and 89 were empty. It was found that poultry and game 
did not constitute 10 per cent of the food of this Hawk, and that 
all other beneficial creatures preyed upon, including snakes, 
did not increase this proportion to 15 per cent. Against this 
small debit stands a credit of 85 per cent, made up chiefly of 
destructive rodents. 

"It is not to be denied," says Dr. Fisher, "that a good 
deal of poultry is destroyed by this Hawk; but the damage 
done is usually among the less vigorous fowls, in the late fall; 
and in view of the great number of injurious rodents as well 
as other noxious animals which this Hawk destroys, it should 
seem equivalent to a misdemeanor to kill one, except in the act of 
carrying off poultry. The fact that there are robbers among 
Hawks is no sound argument for exterminating any and every 



one." 



This bird is very omnivorous in its habits. In the ex- 
amination noted above, the remains of 35 species of small 
mammals were found, of which 30 were rodents, 5 were in- 
sectivores, and 1 (a common skunk!) was a carnivore. Of 
birds there were only 20 species. 

The important markings of the Red-Tailed Hawk are its 
rusty-brown tail, back and head of blackish brown, white 
throat and light-colored breast streaked with dusky brown. 
The immature bird has a gray tail, crossed by from six to ten 
dark bands, and the rusty-red tone of the adult bird is every- 



66 BIRDS OF PREY 

where absent. The head is large, and rather square in out- 
line at the back. 

There are varieties of this bird scattered all over the 
United States, and under most circumstances it is rather 
difficult to tell them apart. 

THE RED-SHOULDERED HAWK 1 has not only "red" shoul- 
ders, but also a red head, neck, back and breast. But there 
are many shades of red, and the so-called red on this bird 
is as widely different from the red of a cardinal as blue is 
from green. The so-called "red" on this Hawk is really a 
rusty brown; and by the great amount of it, the small, round 
head of the bird and its black tail crossed by about six bands 
of white, this species may easily be distinguished from the 
preceding. 

This Hawk is to be counted with the farmer's best friends. 
Mr. J. Alden Loring knew a pair which for two years nested 
within fifty rods of a poultry farm on which were about 800 
young chickens and 400 ducks, but never attempted to catch 
one. Mice constitute two-thirds of its food, but it is very 
fond of frogs and toads. In the 220 specimens examined in 
Washington were found the remains of creatures representing 
eleven classes of life. The food exhibit was made up as 
follows: 3 stomachs contained domestic fowls; 12, other 
birds; 102, mice; 40, other small mammals (16 species in all); 
20, reptiles; 3, fish; 39, amphibians (frogs and toads); 92, 
insects; 16, spiders; 7, crawfish; and 1, earthworms. 

The service rendered by the Red-Shouldered Hawk con- 
sists chiefly in the destruction of mice and grasshoppers; 

1 Bu'te-o lin-e-a'tus. Average length of male, 18 inches; female, 20 inches. 



A HAWK TO BE DESTROYED 



67 



and birds of all kinds are touched very lightly. This species 
inhabits eastern North America from Nova Scotia and Canada 
to the Gulf, and westward to the Plains. The Pacific coast 
contains a variety known as the Red-Bellied Hawk, which is 
quite as honest about poultry as the eastern species. 







SHARP-SHINNED HAWK. 

THE SHARP-SHINNED HAWK* is a swift flier, a keen hunter 
and a great murderer of small birds. Like all the hawks, its 
upper surface is dark and its lower surface light. Its tail is 
long, and has three or four narrow, dark-colored bands across 
it, far apart, with the widest band nearest to the end. The 
wings, back, upper neck surface and upper tail are all bluish 

1 Ac-cip'i-ter vel'ox. Average length of male, 10.50 inches; female, 13 inches. 



68 BIRDS OF PREY 

gray. The throat and under-parts of the body are white 9 
plentifully cross-barred with rusty brown. 

This is a small hawk next in size to the pigeon hawk. Its 
beak seems rather small and weak, but its legs are long and 
its feet large; and these, backed up by swift flight and great 
courage and impudence, render this bird a winged terror. 
It hunts along fences like a dog hunting rabbits, and pursues 
song birds into their thickets and out again. Its principal 
food is song birds, and only at long intervals does it capture 
a mouse. This bird is rather too small to handle poultry 
with complete success. 

The complete list of the bird remains found in 159 stom- 
achs of Sharp-Shinned Hawks constitutes a tale of slaughtered 
innocents that is appalling. Six stomachs contained poultry, 
and 99 contained song birds, woodpeckers and a few others. 
Only 6 contained mice, and 5, insects; and 52 were empty. 
Of the wild birds, 56 species were identified. There can be no 
question regarding the necessity for the destruction of this 
bird, wherever it is found. It breeds throughout the entire 
United States, northward to the arctic circle, and southward 
to Guatemala. In some localities it is quite abundant. 

COOPER'S HAWK 1 is a companion in crime to the preced- 
ing species, and equally deserving an early and violent death. 
By a strange coincidence it bears a strong resemblance to 
the sharp-shinned hawk, both in form and color, but it is a 
much larger bird. Leaving size out of consideration, it is 
difficult to describe in words the slight differences that exist 
between the two. 

1 Ac-tip' i-ter cooperii. Average length of male, 15.50 inches; female, 19 inches. 



HAWKS THAT ARE PESTS 



69 



Being a bird of strong and rapid flight, much strength and 
activity and great boldness, it is well equipped for raiding 
poultry -yards, and carrying off almost anything except geese 
and turkeys. Of 133 stomachs examined in Washington, 34 




COOPER'S HAWK. 



contained poultry or game birds; 52, other birds; 11, mam- 
mals; 1, a frog; 3, lizards; 2, insects; and 39 were empty. 
The game birds found were 1 ruffed grouse, 8 quails and 5 
pigeons. Altogether, 21 species of useful birds had been 
eaten, but only 4 mice, 1 rat and 1 grasshopper. 

No record could be much blacker than this, and Cooper's 



70 BIRDS OF PREY 

Hawk is a pest whose career deserves to be ended by three 
drams of powder and an ounce and a half of No. 6 shot, when- 
ever opportunity offers. If gunners could only discriminate, 
the killing off of this species would make great sport for them; 
but the trouble is, many innocent birds would be killed by 
mistake. 

This bird inhabits the whole United States, but stops at 
the Canadian boundary, and goes south to southern Mexico. 

THE AMERICAN GosHAWK 1 is to Canada and Alaska 
what Cooper's hawk is to the United States a wholesale des- 
troyer of game birds, serving no useful purpose whatever. To 
the unprotected flocks of ptarmigan it is a genuine scourge, 
and it merits destruction. Fortunately this hawk visits the 
United States only in winter, and even then is by no means 
numerous. Those who have had opportunities to observe it 
in action consider it the boldest and most audacious hawk in 
America. It has been known to seize a freshly killed chicken 
from the side of the farmer who had slain it for dinner, and 
also to follow a hen into a house, and seize it in the presence 
of its owner. 

The length of the Goshawk is from 21 to 25 inches. The 
top of its head is black, and its upper surface is bluish slate 
color. Its whole under surface is white, with many gray cross 
bars, in addition to which it is lined up and down with short, 
black lines, rather far apart. The lower tail surface is crossed 
by four gray bands. 

THE MARSH HAWK 2 is essentially a prairie hawk; and 

1 Ac-cip'i-ter at-ri-cap'il-lus. 

2 Cir'cus hud-son'i-us. Average length, about 22 inches. 



THE MARSH HAWK 71 

in the open and fertile uplands of the Mississippi Valley it is 
one of the most conspicuous species. It loves farming regions 
wherein members of the Mouse Family are plentiful and cheap. 
In hunting it flies low, in a very businesslike way, just above 
the grain or tall grass, and its intentions are so apparent that 
the American farmer gave it credit for its good work years 
before the true value of the once-despised "hen hawk" be- 
came known. 

This hawk is not beautiful, either in form, color or move- 
ment. To me it always seems to have too much sail area 
for the size of its hull. Its adult color is drab, or bluish gray, 
but the females and immature males are rusty brown, much 
like the red-shouldered hawk. However, this hawk can al- 
ways be distinguished by the large white patch on the rump, 
just above the tail. 

One of the first facts about the nesting of hawks that 
comes to a western farmer boy by personal observation is that 
the Marsh Hawk nests on the ground, preferably in tall grass, 
in a nest that is anything but a workmanlike affair. When I 
found my first nest of this bird a patch of trampled grass in 
the head of a slough, with four big, downy nestlings wallow- 
ing around upon it the stock of the Marsh Hawk fell sev- 
eral points in my estimation. 

This species ranges all the way from Alaska, Hudson Bay 
and Ontario to Panama and Cuba. Regarding its value, Dr. 
Fisher has this to say : 

'The Marsh Hawk is unquestionably one of the most 
beneficial as it is one of our most abundant hawks, and its 
presence and increase should be encouraged in every way 



72 BIRDS OF PREY 

possible, not only by protecting it by law, but by disseminat- 
ing a knowledge of the benefits it confers. It is probably the 
most active and determined foe of meadow mice and ground 
squirrels, destroying greater numbers of these pests than any 
other species, and this fact alone should entitle it to protec- 
tion, even if it destroyed no other injurious animals." 

One hundred and twenty-four specimens of this species 
were examined, and the stomachs revealed the following con- 
tents: 57, mice; 27, other mammals; 34, birds; 14, insects; 
7, poultry or game birds; 7, reptiles; 2, frogs; 1, unknown; 
and 8 were empty. 

THE SWALLOW-TAILED KiTE, 1 or, as the boys of the 
prairies call it, the FORKED-TAILED "HAWK," is in flight the 
most graceful bird I ever saw on the wing. No matter 
whether the sky be blue or gray, the snow-white head, neck 
and body, and glossy black tail and wings are sharply out- 
lined in the heavens, drawing attention as a magnet draws 
nails. The bird is instantly identified by its long and deeply 
V-shaped tail, and its striking colors, which divide evenly be- 
tween themselves the under surface of the wing. 

In the golden days of boyhood I saw scores of these birds 
in Iowa, but never saw one alight and perch, even for a mo- 
ment. Several times we saw them with snakes in their talons, 
devouring them as they sailed through the air, and we also 
saw two or three seizures of prey. But it is the flight of this 
bird that makes the most lasting impression. In hunting 
and prospecting it never flies in a straight line, but always in 
graceful curves, and reverse curves, circles, parabolas, and 

1 El-a-noi'des for-fi-ca'tus. Average length, about 23 inches. 



GRACEFUL FLIGHT OF THE KITE 



73 



spirals, like an expert skater "showing off." Its flight is in- 
deed the poetry of motion in mid-air. 

Unfortunately, this beautiful bird is not of wide distri- 
bution in the North, for its real home is in the tropics. In 





SWALLOW-TAILED KITE. 



the United States it migrates in April northward into Iowa, 
Minnesota, Illinois, southern Michigan and at rare intervals 
farther east and west to the Carolinas and the plains. So far 
as known, its food consists exclusively of small reptiles and 
large insects. 

This bird fitly represents the whole group of Kites, of 
which the White- Tailed Kite is the Pacific coast species. The 
Mississippi Kite inhabits the Gulf states, and the Everglade 
Kite reaches our country only in Florida. 



74 BIRDS OF PREY 

THE VULTURE FAMILY 

Cathartidae 

This Family ranks at the bottom of the list of the birds of 
prey, because its members are less intelligent, less active and 
resourceful in obtaining their food, and less able to take care 
of themselves than the hawks and owls. Although not so 
highly developed as the hawks, the vultures serve a most 
useful purpose in the economy of Nature, and exhibit some 
traits that are really wonderful. The broad-minded student 
will not turn from these birds with aversion merely because 
their heads are bare, and they feed on dead food. Their 
heads are naked for professional reasons. 

Two things about vultures are particularly striking. One 
is the enormous heights to which they soar; the other is their 
marvellous quickness in discovering the body of a dead animal. 
Many times, in clear summer weather, I have seen the COM- 
MON TURKEY VULTURE 1 sailing and circling on wide-spread 
but motionless pinions, so high in the heavens that its distance 
from the earth seemed to be two miles or more. 

Clearly these aerial promenades, often continued until the 
observer is weary of watching them, are taken for pleasure. 
One great circle succeeds another in a series that seems un- 
ending, but all the while the wings are as motionless as if 
wired in position. On such occasions, even a homely and 
unlovely "Buzzard" can become an object of admiration, and 
a reminder of William Tell's Alpine eagle, which for senti- 
mental reasons only he "could not shoot." 

1 Ca-thar'tes au'ra. Average length, about 29 inches. 



FLIGHT OF THE VULTURE 75 

"His broad, expanded wings 
Lay calm and motionless upon the air, 
As if he floated there without their aid, 
By the sole act of his unlorded will, 
That buoyed him proudly up." 

The flight of the Vulture, by which it gains enormous 
heights without any serious exertion after getting well clear 
of the earth, is an interesting illustration of what a perfect 
aeroplane might accomplish if it could flap its wings for a 
lofty rise, sail with abundant wing power, and be intelligently 
guided. Beyond doubt, the bird keeps aloft by properly 
utilizing the lifting power of air currents. 

By a strange coincidence, the bird which flies highest and 
longest, and soars most majestically, is also the bird of lowest 
tastes on the earth. Although it has strong talons and a 
strong beak, it kills nothing, and feeds upon dead animals. 
In every country on earth, vultures are treated as highly 
useful creatures. In the tropics, where their services really 
are of great value, they are fully protected by law. 

The species found farthest north, with a bright red head 
and neck, is the Turkey Vulture, and it ranges across the 
continent from the plains of the Saskatchewan to Pata- 
gonia. 

THE BLACK VULTURE/ marked by a head and plumage 
which are perfectly black, is seldom seen in the northern por- 
tions of the United States, but is abundant in the Gulf states, 
and southward far down into South America. In appearance 
this bird is most funereal. It is a smaller bird than the tur- 
key vulture, but does not fly so well, and flaps its wings 

1 Cath-ar-is'ta ur'u-bu. Average length, about 25 inches. 



76 BIRDS OF PREY 

oftener. Around the cities of the South it is a great domestic 
economist and labor-saver. 

In Bombay, India, the Parsees expose their dead in two 
great, shallow, open-topped towers, called the Towers of 
Silence, and the vultures regularly devour them all except 
the bones, which fall down into a central pit. 

THE CALIFORNIA VULTURE, or CALIFORNIA " CONDOR," 1 
is, among naturalists, the most celebrated bird of this Family, 
partly because it is our largest bird of prey, and also because 
of its great rarity. Even in captivity, the adult bird is very 
large and imposing. On the wing, in the wild, rocky fast- 
nesses of its native mountains, those who have seen it there 
say it is a grand object, and it is not to be wondered at 
that its pursuit is quite as exciting as the chase of the big- 
horn. 

Mrs. Florence Merriam Bailey gives the following as the 
dimensions of this bird: length, 44 to 55 inches; wing-spread, 
8^ to nearly 11 feet; weight, 20 to 25 pounds. 

This great Vulture breeds in the most inaccessible crags 
it can find, but of course collectors find it, and I feel that its 
existence hangs on a very slender thread. This is due to its 
alarmingly small range, the insignificant number of individuals 
now living, the openness of the species to attack, and the 
danger of its extinction by poison. Originally this remarkable 
bird the largest North American bird of prey ranged as far 
northward as the Columbia River, and southward for an un- 
known distance. Now its range is reduced to seven counties 
in southern California. 

1 Gym'no-gyps calif ornianus. 



THE CALIFORNIA CONDOR 



77 



Regarding the present status and the future of this bird, I 
have been greatly disturbed in mind. When a unique and 
zoologically important species becomes reduced in its geo- 
graphic range to a small section of a single state, it seems to 




THE CALIFORNIA "CONDOR." 

me quite time for alarm. For some time I have counted this 
bird as one of those threatened with early extermination, and 
as I think with good reason. In view of the swift calamities 
that now seem able to fall on species like thunderbolts out of 
clear skies, and to wipe them off the earth even before we know 
that such a fate is impending, no species of seven-county dis- 
tribution is safe. Any species that is limited to a few counties 



78 BIRDS OF PREY 

of a single state is liable to be wiped out in five years, by 
poison, or traps, or lack of food. 

In order to obtain the best and also the most conservative 
information regarding the California Condor, I appealed to 
the Curator of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, of the 
University of California, Professor Joseph Grinnell, who has 
furnished me with the following clear, precise and conserva- 
tive survey of this species. It may fairly be entitled, "The 
Status of the California Condor in 1912." 1 

"To my knowledge, the California Condor has been def- 
initely observed within the past five years in the following 
California counties: Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, 
San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Kern and Tulare. In parts of 
Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Kern counties 
the species is still fairly common, for a large bird, probably 
equal in numbers to the golden eagle in those regions that 
are suited to it. By suitable country I mean cattle-raising, 
mountainous territory, of which there are still vast areas, and 
which are not likely to be put to any other use for a very long 
time, if ever, on account of the lack of water. 

"While in Kern County last April, I was informed by a 
reliable man who lives near the Tejon Rancho that he had 
counted twenty-five Condors in a single day, since January 1 
of the present year. These were on the Tejon Rancho, which 
is an enormous cattle-range covering parts of the Tehachapi 
and San Emigdio Mountains. 

"Our present state law provides complete protection for 
the Condor and its eggs; and the State Fish and Game Com- 

"Our Vanishing Wild Life," 1913, p. 21. 



STATUS OF THE CALIFORNIA CONDOR 79 

mission, in granting permits for collectors, always adds the 
phrase, 'except the California Condor and its eggs.' I know 
of two special permits having been issued, but neither of these 




YOUNG CALIFORNIA VULTURE. 

was used; that is, no 'specimens' have been taken since 1908, 
as far as I am aware. 

"In my travels about the state, I have found that prac- 
tically every one knows that the Condor is protected. Still, 
there is always the hunting element who do not hesitate to 
shoot anything alive and out of the ordinary, and a certain 
percentage of the Condors are doubtless picked off each year 
by such criminals. It is possible, also, that the mercenary 



80 BIRDS OF PREY 

egg-collector continues to take his annual rents, though if 

i 

this is done it is kept very quiet. It is my impression that 
the present fatalities from all sources are fully balanced by 
the natural rate of increase. 

''' There is one factor that has militated against the Condor 
more than any other one thing: namely, the restriction in its 
food source. Its forage range formerly included most of the 
great valleys adjacent to its mountain retreats. But now the 
valleys are almost entirely devoted to agriculture, and of 
course far more thickly settled than formerly. 

:< The mountainous areas where the Condor is making its 
last stand seem to me likely to remain adapted to the bird's 
existence for many years fifty years, if not longer. Of course, 
this is conditional upon the maintenance and enforcement of 
the present laws. There is also the enlightenment of public 
sentiment in regard to the preservation of wild life, which I 
believe can be depended upon. This is a matter of general 
education, which is, fortunately, and with no doubt whatever, 
progressing at a quite perceptible rate. 

"Yes; I should say that the Condor has a fair chance to 
survive, in limited numbers." 

The California Condor is one of the only two species of 
Condor now living, and it is the only one found in North 
America. As a matter of national pride, and a duty to pos- 
terity, the people of the United States can far better afford to 
lose a million dollars from their national treasury than to 
allow that bird to become extinct. Its preservation for all 
coming time is distinctly a white man's burden upon the 




Photograph by E. R. Sanborn, N. Y. Zoological Park. 

THE CONDOR OF THE ANDES. 



THE CONDOR OF THE ANDES 83 

state of California. By great good fortune the New York 
Zoological Park has for several years exhibited a pair of these 
birds, in the open air in summer, but always housed in winter. 

Largest of all the Birds of Prey is the CONDOR 1 of the 
Andes, a bird of lofty home but lowly habits. In the Andes 
of Chile and Peru, its range is from 9,000 to 16,000 feet above 
the sea, and it not only feeds upon dead guanacos and vicunias, 
horses and other domestic animals, but it also ventures to 
attack living calves and old horses that are almost incapable 
of defence. Condors are so easily captured alive that the 
zoological gardens of the world are always well stocked with 
them. 

By nature the Condor is a peace-loving bird, and visitors 
to the New York Zoological Park have witnessed the strange 
spectacle of the world's largest bird of prey the fine adult 
male shown in the accompanying plate living in the great 
Flying Cage in peace and harmony with about eighty flamin- 
goes, herons, egrets, ibises, ducks, other water-birds and vari- 
ous land-birds. Encouraged by the success of the Condor 
experiment, a large griffon vulture was added to the "happy 
family," with very satisfactory results. 

1 Sar-co-rham'pus gry'phus. Length of male, 48 inches; spread of wings, 8K 
to 9 1 A feet. 



CHAPTER XXV 
ORDER OF PIGEONS AND DOVES 

COLUMBAE 

THE PASSENGER PIGEON l is now a bird of history, because 
it is now to be regarded as a species totally extinct, save 
for one aged specimen now living in a zoological garden and 
destined soon to pass away. The men who lived in the Mis- 
sissippi Valley fifty years ago remember the flocks that flew 
swiftly over the farms, sometimes fifty and sometimes two 
hundred or more birds together. It w^as a wonderful sight 
to see the perfect mechanical precision with which they kept 
together, wheeling and circling in as perfect formation as the 
slats of a Venetian blind. 

This vanished bird was much larger than a dove. Its 
color was bluish above, and reddish brown underneath, and 
the feathers of its neck had a rich metallic lustre. Its tail 
was long and pointed, and its feet and legs were red. It 
never was found in the far West, and never will be. The 
pigeon of the Pacific coast is a totally different species. 

In the early days Ohio seemed to be the centre of abun- 
dance of this bird, and the accounts that have been written 
of that period relate how the Pigeons sat so thickly upon the 
trees that branches were broken by their weight; how they 

1 Ec-to-pis'tes mi-gra-to'ri-us. Average length, about 16 inches. 

84 



THE VANISHED PASSENGER PIGEON 85 

covered the earth when they alighted in the fields to feed, and 
darkened the sky when they flew. 

As usual, that great abundance of wild life provoked great 
slaughter. Migrating Pigeons were killed by wholesale meth- 
ods. While breeding they were attacked in their nesting- 
places, and in an incredibly short time the great flocks van- 
ished. As in the case of the blotting out of the great northern 
buffalo-herd, in 1884, many persons have wondered, and do 
still, whether the great flocks of Pigeons have not migrated, 
and found a permanent home elsewhere. There is not a 
single fact on which to base either belief or supposition that 
the Passenger Pigeon exists in Mexico, Central America or 
elsewhere. 

Among naturalists, the blotting out of this interesting 
species has been a source of sincere regret. As usual, no one 
thought of protecting it until it was entirely too late. 

When the first edition of this Natural History was pub- 
lished (1904) the author permitted himself to believe that 
there was a chance that the Passenger Pigeon still survived 
in a wild state, and actually was coming back to our bird 
fauna. The many circumstantial reports of pigeons observed 
seemed to justify those conclusions. 

Vain hope! That view was entirely too optimistic, and 
predicated altogether too much on faulty observations, all 
of which were entirely erroneous. We now place this bird 
in the totally extinct class, not only because it is extinct in a 
wild state, but because only one solitary individual, a nineteen- 
year-old female in the Cincinnati Zoological Gardens, now re- 
mains alive. One living specimen, and a few skins, skeletons 



86 PIGEONS AND DOVES 

and stuffed specimens, are all that remain to show for the 
uncountable millions of Pigeons that swarmed over the United 
States only yesterday, as it were! 

There is no doubt about where those millions have gone. 
They went down and out by systematic, wholesale slaughter 
for the market and the pot, before the shotguns, clubs and 
nets of the earliest American pot-hunters. Wherever they 
nested they were slaughtered. 

It is a long and shameful story, but the grisly skeleton of 
its Michigan chapter can be set forth in a few words. In 
1869, from the town of Hartford, Michigan, three car-loads 
of dead Pigeons were shipped to market each day for forty 
days, making a total of 11,880,000 birds. It is recorded that 
another Michigan town marketed 15,840,000 in two years. 
(See Mr. W. B. Mershon's book, "The Passenger Pigeon.") 

Alexander Wilson, the pioneer American ornithologist, 
was the man who seriously endeavored to estimate by com- 
putations the total number of Passenger Pigeons in one flock 
that was seen by him. Here is what he has said in his "Amer- 
ican Ornithology": 

"To form a rough estimate of the daily consumption of 
one of these immense flocks, let us first attempt to calculate 
the numbers of that above mentioned, as seen in passing be- 
tween Frankfort and the Indiana Territory. If we suppose 
this column to have been one mile in breadth (and I believe 
it to have been much more) and that it moved at the rate of 
one mile in a minute, four hours, the time it continued passing, 
would make its whole length two hundred and forty miles. 
Again, supposing that each square yard of this moving body 




THE PASSENGER PIGEON. 



FUTILE PROTECTION OF THE PIGEONS 87 

comprehended three pigeons; the square yards in the whole 
space multiplied by three would give 230,272,000 Pigeons! 
An almost inconceivable multitude, and yet probably far be- 
low the actual amount." 

The range of the Passenger Pigeon covered nearly the 
whole United States from the Atlantic coast westward 
to the Rocky Mountains. A few bold Pigeons crossed the 
Rocky Mountains into Oregon, northern California and Wash- 
ington, but only as "stragglers," few and far between. The 
wide range of this bird was worthy of a species that existed 
in millions, and it was persecuted literally all along the line. 
The greatest slaughter was in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsyl- 
vania. In 1848 Massachusetts gravely passed a law pro- 
tecting the netters of Wild Pigeons from foreign interference! 
There was a fine of $10 for damaging nets, or frightening 
Pigeons away from them. This was on the theory that the 
Pigeons were so abundant they could not by any possibility 
ever become scarce, and that pigeon-slaughter was a legiti- 
mate industry. 

In 1867 the state of New York found that the Wild 
Pigeon needed protection, and enacted a law to that effect. 
The year 1868 was the last year in which great numbers of 
Passenger Pigeons nested in that state. Eaton, in "The 
Birds of New York," said that "millions of birds occupied 
the timber along Bell's Run, near Ceres, Alleghany County, 
on the Pennsylvania line." 

In 1870 Massachusetts gave Pigeons protection except 
during an "open season," and in 1878 Pennsylvania elected 
to protect Pigeons on their nesting grounds. 



88 PIGEONS AND DOVES 

The Passenger Pigeon millions were destroyed so quickly, 
and so thoroughly en masse, that the American people utterly 
failed to comprehend it, and for forty years obstinately re- 
fused to believe that the species had been suddenly wiped off 
the map of North America. There were years of talk about 
the great flocks having "taken refuge in South America," or 
in Mexico, and being still in existence. There were surmises 
about their having all "gone out to sea," and perished on 
the briny deep. 

A thousand times, at least, Wild Pigeons have been "re- 
ported" as having been "seen." These rumors have covered 
nearly every northern state, the whole of the southwest and 
California. For years and years we have been patiently 
writing letters to explain, over and over, that the band-tailed 
pigeon of the Pacific coast, and the red-billed pigeon of 
Arizona and the Southwest are neither of them the Passenger 
Pigeon, and never can be. 

There was a long period wherein we believed many of the 
Pigeon reports that came from the states where the birds 
once were most numerous; but that period has absolutely 
passed. During the past five years large cash rewards, ag- 
gregating about $5,000, have been offered for the discovery of 
one nesting pair of genuine Passenger Pigeons. Many per- 
sons have claimed this reward (of Professor C. F. Hodge, 
of Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts), and many 
claims have been investigated. The results have disclosed 
many mourning doves, but not one Pigeon. Now we under- 
stand that the quest is closed, and hope has been aban- 
doned. 



THE BAND-TAILED PIGEON 89 

The Passenger Pigeon is a dead species. The last wild 
specimen (so we believe) that ever will reach the hands of 
man was taken near Detroit, Michigan, on September 14, 
1908, and mounted by C. Campion. That is the one definite, 
positive record of the past ten years. 

The fate of this species should be a lasting lesson to the 
world at large. Any wild bird or mammal species can be 
exterminated by commercial interests in twenty years' time, 
or less. 

THE BAND-TAILED PiGEON, 1 of the Pacific states from 
British Columbia to Guatemala, and eastward to the Rocky 
Mountains, yet exists in fair abundance, and it is earnestly 
hoped that it never will be annihilated without reason or 
mercy, as was the sad fate of its eastern relative. Wher- 
ever found it should be accorded legal protection, without 
delay. 

This fine bird is conspicuously marked by a white collar 
around its neck, and a square-ended tail which terminates with 
a dull-white band from one to two inches wide. The head and 
under-parts are purplish pink, fading downward to a lighter 
color. The back is brownish gray, fading out toward the 
tail into a dull-blue tone. 

This Pigeon subsists upon acorns, seeds and berries, and 
attracts attention to itself by its noisy flight. Its strange 
vocal utterances are graphically described by Mrs. Florence 
Merriam Bailey: 

"If you follow the pigeons to their breeding-grounds in 
some remote canyon you will be struck by the owl-like hoot- 

1 Co-lum'ba fas-ci-a'ta. Average length, 15 inches. 



90 



PIGEONS AND DOVES 



ing that fills the place, and you will locate the sound here and 
there along the sides of the canyon at dead tree-tops, in each 
of which a solitary male is sunning himself, at intervals 




THE BAND-TAILED PIGEON. 



puffing out his breast and hooting. The hooting varies con- 
siderably. Sometimes it is a calm whoo'-hoo-hoo, whoo'-hoo- 
hoo, at others a spirited hoop-ah-whoo' ', and again a two-syl- 
labled whoo'-ugh, made up of a short, hard hoot and a long coo, 
as if the breath was sharply expelled for the first note and 
drawn in for the second." ("Handbook," p. 139.) 



THE MOURNING DOVE 91 

To me the MOURNING DovE 1 has always seemed like a 
sacred bird; and, although I could have killed thousands, I 
never took the life of one. When a very small boy at my 
mother's knee, she related to me the story of the winged mes- 
senger \vhich Noah sent out of the ark, over the waste of 
waters, to look for real estate. She told me that doves were 
innocent and harmless little birds, and that I must never harm 
one in the least. Had my good mother issued an injunction 
covering the whole animal kingdom, I think I would have 
grown up as harmless to animals as any Hindoo; for her 
solemn charge regarding doves has always seemed to me as 
binding as one of the ten commandments. 

I mention this in order to point out to mothers the far- 
reaching extent of their power in behalf of our wild creatures, 
and the vast influence which they can easily wield in behalf 
of birds and mammals in sore need of protection. Is it not a 
good thing to teach all boys that it is morally wrong (which 
it is!) to kill wild creatures without reason, mercy and com- 
mon sense? 

The Mourning Dove received its "given" name from the 
mournful sound of its call-notes. Its sad-voiced "Coo, coo, 
coo," suggests moaning, and next to the awful, storm-beaten 
wail of the screech owl, it is, under certain conditions, the 
most doleful sound uttered by an American bird. I knew 
one sensitive woman who was so affected by the daily "mourn- 
ing" of a neighboring Dove that she begged a sportsman to 
frighten it away. 

Another peculiar fact about this bird is the strange musical 

1 Ze-na-i-du'ra ma-crou'ra. Average length, 12 inches. 



92 PIGEONS AND DOVES 

note that is sounded by the vibration of its wings. As the 
bird springs from the ground in flight, or wings its way over- 
head, the pulsations of its wings give forth a ringing, metallic 
sound, like the twanging of a tight wire. 

This Dove loves country roads, more than any other bird, 
and to those who love beautiful things, its exquisitely moulded 
form and immaculate plumage is always a pleasing touch of 
Nature. One might as well try to describe in words the colors 
in a fire opal as those of this bird. There is pink iridescence, 
and brownish, and grayish, and blackish, and other shades too 
numerous to mention, but the combination baffles description. 

This Dove breeds throughout the United States from the 
international boundary to the Gulf, and migrates as far south 
as Panama. In California it is now counted as a "game bird," 
and killed by sportsmen, and in the South also it is killed by 
the negroes for food. A great "game bird" this, truly! A 
genuine sportsman must be very hard pressed for gun victims 
when he can seriously call this tamest of all birds "game." 
And can any farmer in his senses afford the expense of having 
Doves shot on his farm, or in his neighborhood? Let us see. 

When the Biological Survey of the Department of Agri- 
culture took up the case of the Mourning Dove, and examined 
the stomachs of 237 specimens, the summary of results proved 
that as a weed-destroyer this bird is one of the most valuable 
in North America. Weed-seeds constitute 64 per cent of its 
food, all the year round, with little monthly variations. In 
order to arrive at an exact determination, the seeds in three 
stomachs were carefully identified and counted. One con- 
tained the following: 




MOURNING DOVE. 



WEED-SEEDS CONSUMED BY THE DOVE 95 

Orange hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum) 4,820 seeds. 

Slender paspalum (Paspalum setaceum) 2,600 

Hoary vervain (Verbena stricta) 950 

Panicum 620 

Carolina cranesbill (Geranium carolinianum) 120 

Yellow wood-sorrel (Oxalis stricta) 50 

Miscellaneous weeds . . 40 



9,200 

The second specimen of the three contained 6,400 seeds of 
the farmers' ancient and persistent enemy, fox-tail (Chactoclod) , 
while the third turned out 7,500 seeds of the yellow wood- 
sorrel. The grand total of weed-seeds for those three Doves 
w r as 23,100! And this for only one day's supply. Assuming 
that those three Doves had been killed as "game" by some 
"sportsman (!)," previous to their meal, and those seeds had 
produced 23,100 weeds, how much would it have cost in labor 
at $1.50 per day to destroy them? 

Besides the 64 per cent of weed-seeds in the 237 stomachs, 
there was found 32 per cent of grain, but of this three-fourths 
was waste grain, gleaned in the fields after harvest. 

Whoever does aught for the protection of doves, does 
well; and a word to the wise is sufficient. 



CHAPTER XXVI 
ORDER OF UPLAND GAME BIRDS 

GALLINAE 

TT is natural that a country possessing the wide diversity 
of uplands that exists in the United States should pos- 
sess a great variety of ground-dwelling birds. In response to 
the inviting fields and forests, plains and mountains cold and 
warm, wet and dry the birds of the Order Gallinae have 
greatly multiplied, both in number and in species. 

It is no wonder that men and boys like to hunt upland 
game birds; and when the conditions are properly observed, it 
is right that they should do so. The natural death of a game 
bird or quadruped is by shot or bullet, from the gun of a true 
hunter, who hunts only at the proper time, in a fair manner, 
and kills sparingly. Wherever game birds are most plenti- 
ful, each hunter is in honor bound to kill only a small number, 
and give others a chance. 

If you are a boy, or man, don't be a "game-hog!" Shoot 
like a gentleman, or don't shoot at all. If any species be- 
comes so rare that it is threatened with extinction, stop killing 
it, and take measures for its complete protection until it has 
had time to recover. Above all, never engage in a "side- 
hunt," which is a wholesale slaughter of wild creatures "for 
points"; and never tolerate one in your neighborhood. Side- 

96 



HUNTING WITH THE CAMERA 



97 



hunting should be prevented, at the muzzle of breech-loaders, 
if necessary. 

Some of the most interesting hunting experiences ever re- 
corded have been in hunting game birds with the camera. 
If space were available, it would be a pleasure to record here 
the names of some of those who have made beautiful pictures 
of ruffed grouse, pinnated grouse, woodcock, ptarmigan and 
many other species. A fine bird photograph is a joy forever, 
but a bagful of dead birds disappears in an hour. 

The table below affords a bird's-eye view of this Order 
as it exists north of Mexico: 

ORDER GALLINAE 
NORTH OF MEXICO 



GROUSE FAMILY 
Tet-ra-on'i-dae 



Quail . 



Grouse 



PHEASANT FAM- 
ILY 

Phas-i-an'i-dae 



Ptarmigan 
Turkeys . . . 



Pheasants 

All of the Old 
World only. 



Virginia Quail, or Bob-White. 
California Mountain Quail. 
California Valley Quail. 
Mearns' Quail. 
Scaled Quail. 

Ruffed Grouse. 
Canada Grouse. 
Pinnated Grouse. 
Sharp-Tailed Grouse. 
Sage Grouse. 
Willow Ptarmigan. 

Wild Turkey. 
Ring-Necked Pheas- 
ant. Intro- 
Golden Pheasant. duced. 
Silver Pheasant. 



As the preceding diagram shows, there are no true pheas- 
ants in America save those that have been introduced from 



98 UPLAND GAME BIRDS 

China and Japan. All the birds to which that name cor- 
rectly applies inhabit the Old World. 

THE GROUSE FAMILY 

Tetraonidae 

Our dear old friend the COMMON QUAIL is now called 
BOB-WHITE l in all the modern bird-books, but to about 
fifty million Americans it is yet, and ever will be, the Quail. 
It is our longest-known and most widely known American 
game bird, and it is almost wholly a United States bird. It 
is at home from Maine and Florida to Texas, the west- 
ern border of Oklahoma and South Dakota. In very many 
eastern localities, however, it has been almost exterminated 
by excessive shooting. Unfortunately, no northern state per- 
mits any of its few remaining Quail to be trapped and ex- 
ported, and as a rule southern Quail cannot withstand the 
rigors of the northern winter. In addition to this, there has 
been much "Quail disease" among the southern flocks, and 
their importation is hazardous. In 1913 the state of New 
York granted its Quail a five-year close season, excepting 
on Long Island. 

The call of the Bob-White is one of the most cheerful 
sounds in nature, and for carrying qualities it is far-reaching. 
From the heart of a hazel thicket one hears his loud, shrill 
call, saying "CLERKS/ CLERKS/ CLERKS/" un- 
til everything rings again. On the hurricane deck of a high 
stump, or the top rail of a fence, he poises himself, points 
his bill at the sky, swells out his white throat and whistles 

1 Co-li'nus virginianus. Average length, 10 inches. 



BOB-WHITE 99 

long and loud, "Bob! BOB! WHI-EET!" But the feathered 
rascal knows very well when the close season is on ; and when 
the "law is off" he sings very small. 

That many men enjoy quail-shooting is no cause for 
wonder or reproach. The birds lie close in the edge of the 
brush until the dogs are ready to tread upon them, when 
" Burr-r-r-r ! " the covey explodes in the air like a bomb, the 
gray-and-brown fragments fly in half a dozen directions, and 
the young sportsman is so "rattled" he is almost sure to miss. 
A well-scared Quail is no easy mark. 

Quail are rapid breeders, and in protected localities they 
increase rapidly. A good bird-law in Kansas once resulted 
in bringing back the vanished flocks, to a surprising extent, 
but they were soon shot out again. Unfortunately, it is not 
possible to breed Quail in large numbers in confinement, even 
with a quarter-section of land for the experiment. Every 
northern state that has not already done so should at once 
give its remnant of Quail a five-year close season before it is 
too late! 

In view of the enormously increased cost of living, partly 
due to the increase in the cost of all farm products, the case 
of the Bob-White becomes of practical interest to every 
consumer. Beside the market-basket and the dinner-pail the 
merely academic topics of natural history become of secondary 
importance. Consider this bird and the weeds of the farm. 

To kill weeds costs money hard cash that the farmer 
earns by toil. Does the farmer put forth strenuous efforts to 
protect the bird of all birds that does most to help him keep 
down the weeds? Far from it! All the average farmer thinks 



100 



UPLAND GAME BIRDS 



about the Quail is of killing it, for a few ounces of meat on the 
table. Because of its few pitiful mouthfuls of flesh, two mil- 
lion gunners and four thousand lawmakers think of it only as a 




BOB-WHITE. 

bird to be shot, and eaten ! As a result, throughout the greater 
portion of its former range, the Bob-White is surely and cer- 
tainly on the verge of total extinction; and now many state 
game commissions are vainly trying to supplant it by the 
Hungarian partridge because the native Quail "can't live." 
And sportsmen gravely discuss the "bag limit" and "enforce- 



BOB-WHITE THE FARMER'S FRIEND :M>1, 

ment of the bag limit law" as a means of bringing back this 
almost vanished species! 

It is fairly beyond question that of all birds that influence 
the fortunes of the farmers and fruit-growers of North America, 
the Bob-White is one of the most valuable. It stays on the 
farm all the year round. When insects are most numerous 
and busy, Bob-White devotes to them his entire time. He 
cheerfully fights them, from sixteen to eighteen hours per 
day. When the insects are gone, he turns his attention to 
the weeds that are striving to seed down the fields for another 
year. Occasionally he gets a few grains of wheat that have 
been left on the ground by the reapers; but he does no damage. 
In California, where the valley quail once were very numer- 
ous, they sometimes consumed altogether too much wheat for 
the good of the farmers; but outside of California I believe 
such occurrences are unknown. 

Let us glance over the Quail's food habits: 

One hundred and twenty -nine different weeds have been 
found to contribute to the Quail's bill of fare. Crops and 
stomachs have been found crowded with rag-weed seeds, to 
the number of one thousand, while others had eaten as many 
seeds of crab-grass. A bird shot at Pine Brook, New Jersey, 
in October, 1902, had eaten five thousand seeds of green fox- 
tail grass, and one killed on Christmas Day at Kinsale, Vir- 
ginia, had taken about ten thousand seeds of the pig-weed. 
(Elizabeth A. Reed.) In Bulletin No. 21, Biological Survey, it 
is calculated that if in Virginia and North Carolina there are 
four Quail to every square mile, and each bird consumes one 
ounce of seed per day, the total destruction of weed-seeds 



..;., ' ": UPLAND GAME BIRDS 

from September 1 to April 30 in those states alone will be 
1,341 tons. 

In 1910 Mrs. Margaret Morse Nice, of Clark University, 
Worcester, Massachusetts, finished and contributed to the 
Journal of Economic Entomology (Vol. Ill, No. 3) a masterful 
investigation of "The Food of the Bob-White." It should 
be in every library in this land. Mrs. Nice publishes the entire 
list of 129 species of weed-seeds consumed by the Quail and 
it looks like a rogue's gallery. Here is an astounding record, 
which proves once more that truth is stranger than fiction: 

NUMBER OF SEEDS EATEN BY A BOB-WHITE IN ONE DAY 

Barnyard grass 2,500 Milkweed 770 

Beggar ticks 1,400 Peppergrass 2,400 

Black mustard 2,500 Pigweed 12,000 

Burdock 600 Plantain 12,500 

Crab grass 2,000 Rabbitsfoot clover 30,000 

Curled dock 4,175 Round-headed bush clover. . 1,800 

Dodder 1,560 Smartweed 2,250 

Evening primrose 10,000 White vervain 18,750 

Lamb's quarter 15,000 Water smartweed. ..... 2,000 

NOTABLY BAD INSECTS EATEN BY THE BOB-WHITE 
(PROFESSOR JUDD AND MRS. NICE) 

Colorado potato beetle. Clover-leaf beetle. 

Cucumber beetle. Cotton boll-weevil. 

Chinch bug. Cotton boll-worm. 

Bean-leaf beetle. Striped garden caterpillar. 

Wireworm. Cut-worms. 

May beetle. Grasshoppers. 

Corn billbug. Corn-louse ants. 

Imbricated-snout beetle. Rocky Mountain locust. 

Plant lice. Codling moth. 

Cabbage butterfly. Canker worm. 

Mosquito. Hessian fly. 

Squash beetle. Stable fly. 



THE QUAIL'S INSECT FOOD 103 

SUMMARY OF THE QUAIL'S INSECT FOOD 

Orthoptera Grasshoppers and locusts 13 species 

Hemiptera Bugs 24 

Homoptera Leaf-hoppers and plant lice 6 

Lepidoptera Moths, caterpillars, cut-worms, etc 19 

Diptera Flies 8 

Coleoptera Beetles 61 

Hymenoptera Ants, wasps, slugs 8 

Other insects 6 

Total 145 " 

A Few Sample Meals of Insects. The following are rec- 
ords of single individual meals of the Bob-White: 

Of grasshoppers, 84; chinch bugs, 100; squash bugs, 12; 
army worm, 12; cut-worm, 12; mosquitoes, 568 in three hours; 
cotton boll-weevil, 47; flies, 1,350; rose slugs, 1,286. Mis- 
cellaneous insects consumed by a laying-hen Quail, 1,532, of 
which 1,000 were grasshoppers; total weight of the lot, 24.6 
grams. 

"F. M. Howard, of Beeville, Texas, wrote to the TL S. 
Bureau of Entomology, that the Bob-Whites shot in his vicin- 
ity had their crops filled with the weevils. Another farmer re- 
ported his cotton-fields full of Quail, and an entire absence of 
weevils." (Texas and Georgia papers please copy.) 

Surely it is unnecessary to point out the logic of the facts 
recorded above. 

The flesh of this bird is a great table delicacy provided 
it has not been kept in cold storage. A cold-storage Quail 
is as good to the taste as a chunk of pressed sawdust, but no 
better; and as human food an eminent New York physician, 
Dr. Robert T. Morris, pronounces it unwholesome and danger- 
ous. In flavor, cold-storage Quail is far inferior to fresh 



104 



UPLAND GAME BIRDS 



chicken or turkey. In a court of law, a cooked Quail can 
easily be identified from squab, reed-bird, "rail-bird" and 
many others by the fact that the meat on its breast is white, 
while all the others wear dark meat. 

THE CALIFORNIA MOUNTAIN QuAiL 1 is a bird of most 
pleasing appearance, which inhabits California, Oregon and 

gr Washington. Wherever 

protected it is spreading 
rapidly in the settled 
portions of the North- 
west. It loves moist 
regions wherein the rain- 
fall is abundant. This is 
the bird with a black 
throat, a white crescent 
running down from the 
eye, two rows of white 
markings on each side and a long, drooping plume on its head 
running back on the same curve as the forehead. This bird 
goes in small flocks, of ten to twenty, hides well and is not 
easily flushed without a dog. 

THE VALLEY QuAiL 2 is the bird of the Pacific coast which 
has the very jaunty, erect black plume, rising from the top 
of its head and gracefully curving forward. Its color mark- 
ings are rich and beautiful, but not gaudy, and in form as 
well as color it is very handsome. In fact, it is the most 
beautiful of all our small upland game birds. It inhabits 




CALIFORNIA MOUNTAIN QUAIL. 



1 Or-e-or'tyx pic'tus. Average length, 11 inches. 

2 Lo-phor'tyx calif ornicus. Average length, 9 inches. 



THE CALIFORNIA VALLEY QUAIL 



105 



Oregon, Nevada, the whole of California and the Lower 
California peninsula, and in some places ascends the moun- 
tains to 9,000 feet. It has been acclimatized in Utah, and 
there are many other localities in which it might well be in- 
troduced. 

This beautiful Quail is the most widely distributed and 
frequently seen game bird in California, not only in the moun- 




CALIFORNIA VALLEY QUAIL. 

tains, but also in the cultivated valleys, everywhere, and even 
in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. It breeds readily in 
confinement in the New York Zoological Park, and when safe 
from rats is not difficult to keep. 

THE MEARNS' QUAIL/ of Mexico, western Texas and 
southern New Mexico and Arizona, must be mentioned be- 

1 Cyr-to'nyx mon-te-zu'mae mearns'i. Average length, 8.50 inches. 



106 UPLAND GAME BIRDS 

cause it is too odd and striking in appearance to be ignored. 
It may be known by the numerous large white spots on the 
sides of its body just below the wings, and its harlequin head 
of black-and-white bars and collars. It is of great interest to 
Americans residing in Mexico, and many attempts have been 
made to acclimatize it in captivity in the United States. I 
once had in my possession two of these birds whose white 
spots had been artificially changed by some enterprising 
Mexican to a beautiful golden-yellow color. Until the trick 
was discovered, the birds were quite a puzzle, for the fact 
that they had been dyed was not proven until they moulted. 
THE RUFFED GROUSE* is the dandy of American game 
birds. In various places it is called by various names, some 
of which are mischievously confusing. By many persons it 
is called a "PHEASANT," and by others a "PARTRIDGE"; but 
both of these names are entirely incorrect, and when applied 
to this bird create confusion. Often it is impossible to con- 
verse understandingly about this bird without first defining 
boundaries, and coming to an agreement regarding the names 
"Pheasant" and "Partridge." Now that a real pheasant 
(the ring-necked) has been introduced from China into many 
portions of the United States, it is all the more imperative 
that the Ruffed Grouse should be called by that name and no 
other! It is called "Ruffed" because of the ruff of feathers 
that it wears just in front of its shoulders, and under the name 
"Redruff" this bird has been most charmingly introduced 
by Mr. Ernest Thompson Seton to many thousand readers 
who never had known it previously. 

1 Bo-na'sa um-bel'lus. Average length, 16 inches. 



THE RUFFED GROUSE 



107 



This Grouse is in every respect a forest bird. Its ideal 
home is mixed forest of hardwood and coniferous trees, with 
the white-tailed deer and gray squirrel for company. Its 
home extends from Massachusetts and northern New York to 
northern Georgia, and westward very sparingly beyond the 
Mississippi to the Dakotas. Besides being beautiful, it is a 
bird of interesting habits, 
and its flesh is entirely 
too fine for its own good. 
In size it is smaller than 
the pinnated grouse, or 
prairie chicken, but in 
intelligence it is second 
to no other grouse living. 

The prevailing color 
of the Ruffed Grouse is 
rusty brown, but the 
mottlings of black, gray and white defy intelligent description. 
Open or shut, the tail is a dream cross-barred, banded and 
mottled most exquisitely. It is no wonder that the male 
bird is fond of strutting, with spread tail; but besides this it 
has a still more effective means of attracting the female. It 
perches on a log, secures a good grip with its feet, then beats 
the air with its wings until you hear at the end of the per- 
formance a long, quivering resonance disturbing the solitude, 
like beating upon a Hindoo tom-tom. 

The beats start slowly, but quickly increase in rapidity 
to the end, thus: " Dum!-dum!-dum!-dum-dum-dumdumdum- 
dum." The bird does not beat the log, and it does not beat 




EASTERN RUFFED GROUSE. 



108 UPLAND GAME BIRDS 

its own sides. Thoreau declared that its wings strike to- 
gether behind its back! This "drumming" of the Ruffed 
Grouse is heard oftenest in spring, and is a signal to the fe- 
male; but it is also heard occasionally in summer and autumn. 

This grouse is a strong flier, and gets up before the hunter 
with such a tremendous "burr-r-r-r" of wings, and goes off 
so explosively, that it takes a quick eye and hand to bring 
it down. It can dash off through timber like a feathered 
rocket, dodging trees and branches, and zigzagging in all di- 
rections leading away from danger, with a degree of speed and 
certainty that is really marvellous. No wonder the young 
hunter who kills one, fairly and squarely, feels proud of his 
skill, and hastens away to have the trophy mounted for his 
den. 

Unfortunately, in most eastern states, where the Ruffed 
Grouse should hold its own for a hundred years, this bird is 
doomed to complete extinction unless its sale for the table is 
immediately and effectually stopped! So long as it is lawful 
to sell it, pot-hunters will shoot it, and snare it, in season and 
out of season, as "food" for the already over-fed patrons of 
fashionable hotels and restaurants of the large cities. As 
food for the hungry, this beautiful bird is not needed in the 
least. As a means of inducing thousands of brain-weary men 
to take healthful exercise in the woods, it will serve a highly 
useful and important purpose if not meanly and foolishly 
exterminated. 

In New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and seventeen 
other states the sale of game is now sternly forbidden by state 
laws, and those laws are mostly well enforced. 



THE DUSKY GROUSE 109 

The following subspecies, closely related to the typical 
Ruffed Grouse, are found in North America: 

The Oregon, or Sabine's Grouse, is found on the mountains 
of the Pacific coast, west of the Coast Range, from northern 
British Columbia to California. This species possesses rich 
red plumage, and is quite beautiful. 

The Canadian Ruffed Grouse belongs to Canada and Maine, 
but in the Northwest it ranges south of the international 
boundary. The Gray Ruffed Grouse inhabits the Rocky Moun- 
tains from the Yukon to Colorado. 

THE DUSKY GROUSE 1 is a conspicuous type which in- 
habits the Rocky Mountains from Idaho and Montana to 
Arizona. Its other names are BLUE, PINE, and GRAY GROUSE, 
and also PINE-HEN. I first saw it alive in the Shoshone 
Mountains, while skirting a very steep mountain side in 
search of mountain sheep. The stunted pines that struggle 
with the slide-rock for existence were not more than thirty 
feet high, but in them perched, dangerously near the ground, 
this handsome slaty -blue Grouse. Its nearest neighbors were 
the mountain sheep, elk, magpie, Clarke's nutcracker, and 
golden eagle. 

This fine bird ranges up to timber-line, but loves rough 
mountain sides that are partially covered with pines, cedars 
and firs. It usually lives alone, but sometimes forms very 
small flocks. The crop of a specimen which I shot was stuffed 
full of fresh, green pine needles, some of them two inches long. 
At that time, however, the snow was a foot deep. 

1 Den-drag 1 'a-pus ob-scu'rus. Average length of male, about 21 inches; female, 
18 inches. 



110 UPLAND GAME BIRDS 

This bird is recognizable by the broad white band across 
the end of its tail, and its slaty -blue color. From Alaska to 
California is found a subspecies, very much like the preceding, 
called the Sooty Grouse. From western Montana to the Coast 
Range in Oregon and Washington, and northward to Alaska, 
is found the Franklin Grouse, known very generally as the 
66 Fool Hen" because it trusts too much to man's humanity, 
and often finds itself a victim of misplaced confidence. This 
is one of the last American birds to learn that man is a very 
dangerous animal, and often devoid both of mercy and of 
appreciation of the beautiful in bird life. 

THE CANADA GROUSED also called the SPRUCE GROUSE and 
BLACK "PARTRIDGE," is, as its most acceptable name implies, 
the grouse of Canada and the Northwest. It has the widest 
range of any American member of the Grouse Family from 
the Alaskan Peninsula southeastward to northern Minnesota, 
Michigan, New York and New England. It inhabits the 
evergreen forests of that vast region, usually in very small 
flocks. It does not really migrate, but by reason of seasonal 
changes which affect its food supply it often shifts from one 
locality to another. (D. G. Elliot.) 

In many localities it is known as the "Fool Hen" a name 
which is applied in various places to several other species. 
Man is so conscious of his own insensate destructiveness, and 
so accustomed to seeing all wild creatures fly in terror before 
his baneful presence, he naturally feels that any bird which 
trusts its life to his tender mercies, and does not live in con- 
stant fear of him, must indeed be a feathered fool! For some 

1 Ca-nach'i-tes canadensis can-a'ce. Length, about 14 inches. 



THE PRAIRIE CHICKEN 111 

strange reason several members of the Grouse Family are 
surprisingly slow to comprehend man's true nature and ac- 
quire the flight instinct, which most other species learn by 
experience in a few generations of contact with the Univer- 
sal Killer. 




CANADA GROUSE. 



The male Canada Grouse is readily recognized by its 
black breast and throat, and black tail, which handsomely set 
off the barred gray back and sides. 

THE PINNATED GROUSE, or PRAIRIE CHICKEN/ lives 
chiefly in the memories of those who from 1860 to 1875 were 
"western men," or boys. At that time Illinois, Wisconsin 
and Iowa, and the states adjoining, were the "West." Rail- 
roads were few, all guns were muzzle-loaders, and the game- 
dealers of Chicago were not stretching out their deadly ten- 
tacles, like so many long-armed octopi, to suck the last drop 
of wild-game blood from prairie and forest. The "market- 

1 Tym-pa-nu'chus americanus. Average length of male, 18 inches* 



UPLAND GAME BIRDS 

shooter" was a species of game-butcher then unknown, and 
the beautiful fertile prairies and prairie-farms of Illinois, 
Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska 
were well stocked with Prairie Chickens. 

In spring they courted openly, and even proudly. The 
cocks strutted, and inflated the bare, salmon-yellow air-sacs 
on the sides of their necks, bowed low, and " Boo-hoo-hooed!" 
until the sound rolled over the bare earth in great waves. 
Then they scattered, to nest and rear their young. In sum- 
mer they hid themselves closely ; and no self-respecting farmer 
dreamed of such a low act as killing one, or meddling with a 
nest. 

In the fall, after the harvesting, and just before the corn- 
cutting and corn-husking, the young broods were ready to 
fly, and the flocks began to gather. They first ranged through 
the wheat and oat stubble, gleaning; and the sport they fur- 
nished there dear me ! Those were the golden days of life on 
a prairie farm. The flocks of Pinnated Grouse and quail were 
the rightful heritage of the boys and men who toiled in the 
fields through the raw cold of early spring, and the long, flam- 
ing days of July and August. If the farmers only had been 
far-sighted, and diligent in protecting for their all-too-scanty 
recreation, and for their own tables, the game that was theirs, 
they might have had Prairie Chickens to hunt for a century. 

But the game-devouring octopi began to reach out, from 
Water Street, Chicago, and from New York and Boston. An 
army of men began to "shoot for the market," and the Pin- 
nated Grouse and quail began to "go east," by the barrel. 
Some markets were so glutted, time after time, that unnum- 



THE PASSING OF THE PRAIRIE CHICKEN 115 

bered barrels of dead birds spoiled. That was before the days 
of cold storage. 

The efforts that were made to stop that miserable busi- 
ness were feeble to the point of imbecility; and absolutely 
nothing permanent was accomplished. Had farmers generally 
stopped all shooting on their farms, as every farmer should, 
the war on those birds would have stopped also; but the barn 
was not locked until after the horse had been stolen. A 
species destroyed is rarely regained. 

To-day the Prairie Chicken is to be numbered with the 
buffalo and passenger pigeon. It is so nearly extinct that only 
a few flocks remain, the most of which are in north-western 
Minnesota, the Dakotas and Nebraska. If hunting them 
with dogs continues, five years hence the species will probably 
be quite extinct. 

It is useless to describe this bird. The chances are that 
no reader of this book ever will see one outside of a museum, 
or a large zoological garden. 1 The great flocks of from one to 
three hundred that from 1860 to 1875 were seen in winter in 
the Iowa corn-fields, are gone forever. Even as late as 1874 
many birds were killed every winter by flying against the 
telegraph wires along the railways. 

THE HEATH HEN, or EASTERN PRAIRIE CHICKEN,* was 
the first bird species of the United States to be completely 
exterminated everywhere save in one small locality. I doubt 
if there are more than one thousand Americans now living to 
whom this bird is anything more than an empty name. 

1 During the first four years of its existence, the New York Zoological Park was 
able to secure only four living specimens. 

2 Tym-pa-nu'chus cu 'pi-do. 



116 UPLAND GAME BIRDS 

Originally this bird was to the eastern states what the 
pinnated grouse was to the middle West. It inhabited New 
Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, 
Massachusetts, and I know not how many more states. But 
the shotguns were too much for it. Being a game bird of 
fine flavor, good size and open-country habits, it was sought 
and shot, regardless of seasons. 

In 1785 New York accorded a close season from April 1 
to October 1. New Jersey extended partial protection in 
1820, Massachusetts in 1831, and Rhode Island in 1846. In 
1866 New Jersey became alarmed about impending extinction, 
and gave the vanishing Heath Hen a five-year close season. 
In 1862 New York, in still greater alarm, gave a ten -year 
close season, hoping to bring back the vanished flocks. Five 
years later, in still greater alarm, New York passed a new 
ten-year close-season law, and in 1870 Massachusetts rushed 
to the front with a law for six years of unbroken protec- 
tion. 

Those efforts now teach a valuable lesson, which is this: 
In the destruction of a wild species a point of disappearance 
is finally reached beyond which every species is doomed, and 
cannot be restored. That was reached with the Heath Hen, 
everywhere save on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Mas- 
sachusetts, where by great efforts a colony of about 200 birds 
has been saved, even down to 1914. 

I fear that already in several states various species of 
game birds, such as the eastern bob-white, have been shot 
down to a point so low that it may be impossible for any 
length of close seasons to bring back the vanished flocks. 



BIRDS OF THE SAGE-BRUSH PLAINS 117 

THE PRAIRIE SHARP-TAILED GROUSE l inhabits the Great 
Plains, from the states bordering the Mississippi to the Rocky 
Mountains. It is the plains counterpart of the pinnated 
grouse, and like it, is rapidly disappearing before the settle- 
ments that are fast filling up its home. The neck of the 
male lacks the side tuft of long, pointed feathers and the naked 
air-sac so conspicuous on the male pinnated grouse. 

To-day this bird is seldom seen in the open sage-brush 
plains and bad lands of Montana and Wyoming, but is oc- 
casionally found in or near the foot-hills of the Rocky and Big- 
Horn Mountains. When flushed, it makes the mistake of 
its life in alighting in the low, isolated cottonwood trees that 
straggle along the creeks, for when thus perched it takes a 
strong man to resist the temptation to cut off its head with a 
rifle-ball or try to do so. This bird will fly out of the most 
impregnable cover, and perch aloft to be shot at in a manner 
indicating a total absence of the most ordinary instinct of 
self-preservation . 

THE SAGE GROUSE, or "CocK-OF-THE-PLAiNS," 2 is a su- 
perb bird big, handsome and showy. It is one of the very 
few creatures which can with pleasure and benefit eat the 
leaves of the common sage-brush, and subsist upon that food 
indefinitely. Naturally, however, this diet often imparts to 
the flesh of the bird an excess of sage flavor which renders it 
quite unpalatable. Unfortunately, on this fact alone the Sage 
Grouse cannot base a hope of a better fate than that of its 
more edible relatives in the Grouse Family. 

1 Ped-i-oe-ce'tes phas-i-an-el'lus cam-pes'tris. Average length, about 17 inches. 

2 Cen-tro-cer'cus u-ro-phas-i-an'us. Length of male, 27 inches ; female, 22 inches. 



118 UPLAND GAME BIRDS 

Of the really conspicuous members of the Plains fauna- 
buffalo, antelope, elk, coyote, gray wolf, swift fox, jack "rab- 
bit," prairie-" dog," and Sage Grouse all have vanished from 
frequent sight save the last "dog," and some have wholly 
disappeared. In riding in October, 1901, from Miles City to 
the Missouri River and back, about 250 miles all told, we 
saw only three coyotes, one gray wolf, and four prairie hares. 
Cotton-tail rabbits abounded in the bad lands, and we saw 
about six flocks of Sage Grouse a very small number for so 
much territory. 

One of those flocks, however, was a sight to be remem- 
bered. In the valley of the Little Dry it spread out in open 
order, on a level flat that was carpeted with short, gray 
buffalo-grass, and dotted here and there with low clumps of 
sage-brush. Halting the outfit wagon I slowly rode forward 
until within thirty feet of the vanguard of the flock. There 
were forty-six birds, and all were on dress parade. They 
stood proudly erect, headed across the trail, marched forward 
in a slow and stately manner, and every weather eye was kept 
on me. The majority were big, long-tailed cocks. At last 
the parade terminated in the flight of the birds nearest me, 
gradually followed by all the others. 

In size, the Sage Grouse is the largest member of the 
Grouse Family in America next, in fact, to the magnificent 
blackcock of Europe. When a whole flock suddenly rises 
out of the sage-brush and takes wing, it is an event to remem- 
ber. The rush and beat of wings makes a startling noise, 
and the size of the bird is also highly impressive. This grouse 
is so large that, as it flies away, you see its body rock violently 



THE SAGE GROUSE NEARLY EXTINCT 



119 



from side to side, and note the effort of the wings to carry the 
bird, and maintain a true balance. 

The male has an air-sac on each side of its neck, which 
it inflates in the courting season, when it struts to attract the 




SAGE GROUSE. 



attention of the females. Recently Mr. Frank Bond has ob- 
served that the male also rubs its breast along the ground, as a 
part of its strutting performance, which accounts for the 
mysteriously worn condition of the breast feathers. 

It is no more necessary to describe a Sage Grouse than an 



120 UPLAND GAME BIRDS 

elephant. Its large size, and its extremely long and pointed 
tail proclaim its identity anywhere. According to Mrs. 
Bailey, it ranges "from Assiniboia and British Columbia to 
Utah, Nevada and California, from the Sierra Nevadas and 
Cascades east to the Black Hills, Nebraska and Colorado." 
I heartily wish that every one who reads these notes may 
some day have the pleasure of seeing at close range this 
glorious bird in its ideal home on a sage-brush flat in the 
land of buttes, where the world is big and free, and full of 
sunshine. 

But I am sure this wish will fall far short of realization. 
By the sportsmen, gunners and pot-hunters of the far West, 
this fine bird has been shot and shot, until now it exists only 
in shreds and patches. Every locality still containing birds 
is surrounded, and no one who shoots seems to care about 
saving that truly grand bird. In a very short time the peo- 
ple of the West will awake and find that the great Sage Grouse 
is totally extinct. 

THE PTARMIGANS (pronounced tar'mi-gans) form a sharply 
distinguished group of the Grouse Family, with which, in 
view of the different species we possess in Alaska, and also 
nearer home, every American should become acquainted. 
The most striking and peculiar character about these birds 
is that at the approach of winter they turn snow white. 
They prefer to nest on the tops of rugged mountains, above 
timber-line, and in Alaska are at home either on the lofty 
snow-fields of the mountains or the desolate barrens. 

There are four well-defined species, and six varieties. 
The only species which is at home in the United States is the 




tf a 

Si 



A BIRD WITH A CHANGEABLE COAT 

WHITE-TAILED PTARMIGAN l in Colorado sometimes called 
the "White Quail" which lives in the Rocky Mountains 
from the Liard River, British Columbia, to New Mexico. 
It is said that another species (the Willow) does occasionally 
wander down into northern New England. The majority of 
the species are found in Alaska, but the Rock Ptarmigan covers 
nearly the whole of Arctic America from Alaska to Labrador 
and Greenland. Two of its subspecies inhabit Newfoundland. 

THE WILLOW PTARMIGAN 2 may well be chosen as the 
typical representative of the whole group, for its distribution 
covers the arctic lands entirely around the pole. When De 
Long and his party fought starvation at the mouth of the 
Lena River, their last food was one of these birds, shot with 
a rifle by Alexy, the Eskimo. In northern Greenland and 
Grinnell Land Peary and Greely ate it, and in the Kenai 
Peninsula flocks of it were photographed by Dall DeWeese 
and others. In 1913 two specimens were taken at Midvale, 
Montana. 

This bird is almost constantly busy in changing its clothes. 
In the spring it goes by slow degrees from winter white to 
chestnut brown, barred with black. By July the dark plu- 
mage of midsummer is fully developed; but not for long. By 
the first of September, the trouble begins once more, and 
feather by feather the- plumage gradually changes to snowy 
white. In winter the legs and feet of Ptarmigans generally 
are heavily clothed with feathers, and often only the ends 
of the toes are visible. 

1 La-go' pus leu-cu'rus. Length, about 12 inches. 

2 La-go'pus lagopus. Length, about 14 inches. 



124 UPLAND GAME BIRDS 

As might be expected, this bird and its relatives often 
constitute an important source of food for the Indians and 
Eskimos of the arctic regions. 

Unfortunately, in every mining district of the far North- 
west the Ptarmigan is relentlessly pursued as food for the 
camps. A photograph taken in 1913 at (or near) White 
Horse, Yukon, shows a solid wall of Ptarmigan which was 
said to contain about 3,000 birds. 

THE PHEASANT FAMILY 

Phasianidae 

THE PHEASANT FAMILY was originally represented on this 
continent only by the wild turkeys; but during recent years 
certain foreign species have been successfully introduced, and 
are now becoming so numerous as to require notice. 

THE RING-NECKED PHEASANT 1 has been introduced from 
China, and acclimatized in Washington, Oregon, California, 
British Columbia and elsewhere with pronounced success. 
In many localities it has become so abundant that now it is 
shot by sportsmen as upland game birds once were killed in 
New York state. From Portland, Oregon, to Vancouver the 
taxidermists are annually called upon to mount scores of. 
these birds, because they are so beautiful that many of the 
sportsmen who shoot them cannot consent to see their skins 
destroyed. 

Following the examples of the Pacific states, New York, 
Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and several other 
states both east and west have entered seriously upon the 

1 Phas-i-an'us tor-quat'us. 



THE WILD TURKEY 125 

business of breeding, rearing and introducing this valuable 
bird at state expense. 

THE SILVER PHEASANT, and the very beautiful GOLDEN 
PHEASANT, both natives of China, have also been acclimatized 
in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. In view of 




WILD TURKEY, FROM VIRGINIA. 

the strong and hardy natures of both these birds, there should 
be little difficulty in introducing them in any well-wooded 
farming region east of the Mississippi and south of the for- 
tieth parallel. 

THE WILD TURKEY 1 once inhabited nearly one-half of 
the United States; and, considering the great size of the bird, 
the earnestness of our efforts to exterminate it, and the very 
little that has been done toward its protection, its survival 
to-day is cause for wonder. It is yet found in a few heavily 
timbered regions in the East and South such as Florida, 

1 Me-le-a'gris gal-lo-pa'vo. Length of large male, about 46 inches; weight, 
28 pounds. 



126 UPLAND GAME BIRDS 

the Virginias, Pennsylvania and a few more of the southern 



states. It is doubtful if even one flock exists in the North any- 
where west of Pennsylvania. In Oklahoma and Texas it 
still lives, but the gunners of the cattle-ranches are fast killing 
off the few very small flocks that remain. 

The Wild Turkey is the king of upland game birds. It 
has been given to but a few hunters to seek this bird in its 
native forests, witness its splendid flight, and afterward 
shoulder a giant gobbler weighing from twenty -five to thirty 
pounds for a ten-mile carry. He who has done this, however, 
will thereafter rank this bird aS second to none on earth. In 
the United States only one species exists, but three geographic 
races have been described. The wild bird so closely resembles 
the domestic turkey that almost the only difference observ- 
able is the white upper tail coverts of the tame bird. 

THE OCELLATED TuRKEY, 1 of Yucatan, British Honduras 
and Guatemala is a bird of more brilliant plumage but smaller 
size than our northern species. Its name refers to the beau- 
tiful eye-spots of blue, green and purple which adorn the tail 
feathers. The prevailing color of the body plumage is a rich 
metallic green, exhibiting the brilliant iridescence and bur- 
nished-bronze effects so strongly displayed in most turkeys in 
full plumage. On account of its great beauty, several at- 
tempts have been made to establish this species in zoological 
gardens, and at last (1914) it has been successfully established 
in the New York Zoological Park. The species is very diffi- 
cult to keep alive in captivity. 

1 Me-le-a'gris oc-el-la'ta. 



CHAPTER XXVII 
ORDER OF SHORE BIRDS 

LIMICOLAE 

A3 the name of the Order indicates, these birds live on 
the ocean and lake beaches, and the banks of rivers, 
ponds and pools, where they find many kinds of queer things 
to feed upon. On the boundary line betwixt sea and land 
they find many insects, shell-fish, crustaceans and worms. 
The turnstones make a business of turning over pebbles and 
small stones, in order to capture the worms and insects that 
take shelter under them. 

Let it not be thought, however, that all shore birds live 
on shores. -Far from it. Before the days of general bird 
slaughter and extermination, there were plovers and curlews 
and dowitchers and other species that were at home on the roll- 
ing prairies of Iowa, Illinois and Kansas, miles and miles from 
the nearest pond, lake or river. Even to the eyes of a farmer 
boy knowing naught of natural-history books, they seemed 
strangely out of place; for their long, slender legs suggested 
water and wading. In those days we wondered what they 
found on those dry prairies to feed upon; but now we know 
that they fed bountifully upon insects! 

Until the publication in April, 1911, by the United States 
Department of Agriculture, of Professor W. L. McAtee's 

127 



128 SHORE BIRDS 

circular, No. 79, on "Our Vanishing Shorebirds," the Amer- 
ican people were totally unaware of the enormous value of 
those birds as destroyers of insects. For example: 

9 species (of phalaropes, sandpipers and plovers) feed on mosquitoes. 
2 species feed on the Texas fever tick ! 
4 species feed on horse-flies, both larval and adult. 
7 species feed on crane-flies. 
6 species devour great quantities of locusts. 
24 species feed on grasshoppers. 
2 species feed on the cotton- worm. 

6 species make a specialty of the very destructive weevils. 

7 species eat the bill-bug. 

9 species devour beetles of several very destructive species. 
6 species devour the destructive crawfishes of the South. 

Now, these facts are of much more than forgetful interest. 
They concern the family market-basket and the grocer's bill. 
Every insect that destroys any portion of a farm crop of 
the United States thereby raises to us the cost of living; 
and the American people can take that fact or leave it. 

For two hundred years the hunters and sportsmen of 
America have been regarding the shore birds solely as game 
birds, measurable only in food ounces on the table. First, 
they began to slaughter the large species, but as the supply 
diminished rapidly before the semi-annual gauntlet of guns 
the standard of shooting ethics sank lower and lower. In 
1900 the bottom of the scale was reached. It was about that 
time that "sportsmen" began to shoot sandpipers, tor food! 
As a food proposition, the sandpiper is in the sparrow class. 

From the interior of the United States about ninety -eight 
per cent of the shore birds have disappeared, possibly forever. 
Along the great semi-annual migration routes, particularly 



THE NEW FEDERAL MIGRATORY BIRD LAW 129 

the Atlantic coast during the "spring flight," when the birds 
are concentrated on that narrow line, a dozen species still are 
represented. Last May (1913) two friends took me to Great 
South Bay, Long Island, on a stormy voyage of observation. 
In one day we saw about 2,000 birds of nine species, and had 
the day been fine we would have seen a great many more. 
It represented the massing together, on those famous resting 
and feeding grounds, of the whole New York supply of shore 
birds. It was a pleasure to find that seed stock of shore 
birds and to note its possible value in bringing back those 
vanishing species. 

In view of the ease with which shore birds can be shot, and 
the continuous lines of gunners that everywhere greet their 
appearance, it is a wonder that any have survived to this 
time. But for these much-persecuted birds a new era has 
dawned. There are about sixty species of North American 
shore birds, and under the terms of the new federal migratory 
bird law, in effect since October 1, 1913, fifty -four of those 
species are now permanently protected from slaughter every- 
where in the United States. It is hoped that Canada soon 
\vill enact a similar provision. 

The enemies of our native birds who desire the precious 
and sportsmanlike (?) privilege of slaughtering emaciated 
ducks and geese in January, February and March are very 
anxious that the federal migratory bird law should at once 
be declared "unconstitutional," and destroyed. If that law 
ever is so destroyed, ice very soon will see the last of our shore 
birds! 

There are many genera and species of birds in this Order, 



130 SHORE BIRDS 

but for certain reasons it is difficult to form an acquaintance 
with more than a very few of them. The majority of them 
reach us only as birds of passage, on the way to or from their 
breeding grounds farther north, and during the year are w T ith 
us only a few weeks. Others are so few in number, and live 
in such remote localities, that they also are beyond our ac- 
quaintance. As usual, therefore, we will introduce only 
those species that are sufficiently abundant, long-tarrying 
and generally interesting to make them worth knowing. 

THE KILLDEER PLOVER 1 makes an excellent representa- 
tive of a large section of this Order. It is of average size 
and handsome appearance, and is such a loud and frequent 
caller its presence is always well advertised. It is so widely 
distributed that millions of people have seen it alive. It is 
a bird of the inland ponds and pools, not of the seashore, 
and it is found throughout the whole temperate portion of 
North America, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It is not 
a bird of heavily timbered regions, however, and is most 
abundant in the lake regions of the Mississippi Valley. On 
the prairies of the middle West, wherever there are small, 
shallow ponds, or even pools in wet meadows, all through the 
season of mild weather you will hear its clear and rather 
strident cry of " Kill-d-e-e-r! Kill-d-e-e-r!" And it is always 
a pleasing sight to see this immaculate bird in snow-white, 
brown and black plumage standing at the edge of a bit of 
water a stroke of living high-light in the landscape. I al- 
ways liked the Killdeer, and, although I have seen hundreds, 
and heard its cry a thousand times, I never wearied of its 

1 Ox-y-e'chus vo-cif'er-a. Length, 10.50 inches. 



HABITS OF THE GOLDEN PLOVER 



131 



companionship. In my opinion it is our most beautiful 
shore bird. 

THE AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER, 1 also called GREEN and 
FIELD PLOVER, is (or, at least was until recently) the Plover 
most frequently seen in the Atlantic states, and in the markets. 




KILLDEER PLOVER. 



It frequents the banks of marshes and tide pools along the 
seashore, but it is equally fond of the pools and ponds of 
the uplands, particularly in old meadows. They are seldom 
seen during the spring migration; they do not remain with us 
during the summer, and it is only during the months of their 
fall migration, from August 15 to November 1, that they 
are really in evidence. During the open season they are much 
sought by gunners which is the reason why there is now 
only one bird where formerly there were fifty. In fact, the 

1 Char-a-dri'us do-min'i-cus. Average length, 10 inches. 



SHORE BIRDS 




AMERICAN WOODCOCK. 



Golden Plover is actually 
on the brink of oblivion, 
and in effect it is to-day 
so nearly extinct that it 
may as well be classed 
with the birds that were, 
but are not. 

THE AMERICAN WOOD- 
cocK 1 is the oddest- 
looking land-bird in 
North America. Its legs 
are too short for so large a body, its tail is only half as long 
as it should be, its neck is too short and too thick, and its 
head is entirely out of drawing. The eyes are placed too far 
back, and the bill is too long and too straight. In appear- 
ance, the Woodcock looks like an avian caricature. 

But, odd or not, this 
bird is very dear to the 
heart of the great Amer- 
ican sportsman, and its 
plump brown body is a 
genuine delicacy. It has 
a long array of local 
names, some of which 
are so uncouth that the 
less said concerning them 
the better. WOODCOCK ON NEST. 

rrn I , Photographed at a distance of 6 feet, by Le Roy 

Hie long, Sensitive M. Tufts, and copyright, 1903. 

1 Phi-lo-he'la mi'nor. Average length, about 10.50 inches. 




THE AMERICAN WOODCOCK 133 

beak of this bird is really a probe and a pair of forceps com- 
bined, for probing in soft earth or mud after earthworms, and 
dragging them out when found. In order to feed, the Wood- 
cock has no option but to frequent the moist banks of wooded 
streams, or wet grounds in the shelter of bushes or timber, 
where it can work unobserved. During the day it lies low to 
escape observation, and does the most of its feeding at night. 
It is seldom found in open ground, and Woodcock-shooting is 
much like shooting quail among brush quick and difficult. 

This bird ranges throughout the United States from the 
Atlantic coast to the edge of the Great Plains. In the course 
of much hunting in central Iowa I never but once shot a 
specimen of this species. In the eastern states it is only 
the most skilful local hunters who can go out and find a 
Woodcock. Unless it is given a ten-year close season, and 
quickly, its extinction is certain. 

As a highly esteemed game bird, WILSON'S SNIPE, or the 
JACK SNIPE/ is a close second to the woodcock. Like the 
latter, it has a long, straight bill with a sensitive tip, with 
which to probe down in the mud or soft earth of pond margins 
or spring holes, to the home of the angle-worm. Unlike the 
woodcock, however, this Snipe is a very well-formed bird, 
and it feeds more in the open, which renders its pursuit more 
fruitful of results. On the wing it is awkward and angular- 
looking. It flies in a very angular course, but so rapidly it 
is a difficult mark to hit. When it rises, it utters a shrill 
cry, half scream and half squawk, and in windy weather it 
often flies quite high. 

1 Gal-li-na'go del-i-ca'ta. Length, about 11 inches. 



134 



SHORE BIRDS 



This Snipe has a very wide range from Alaska and Hud- 
son Bay through all the United States, except the arid re- 
gions, to northern South America. Its most conspicuous color 
is brown, striped on the back with black, which in brushy 
ground protects the bird so well it is difficult to distinguish. 




WILSON'S SNIPE. 

Whenever at the seashore in warm weather you wander 
"far from the madding crowd," you may make the acquaint- 
ance of the SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER,* or possibly it will be 
the LEAST SANDPIPER 2 a trifle more minute, and with no 
^web at the base of its toes. At a distance of ten feet the two 
species look precisely alike, and there is no need to worry 
about an exact identification. They are also called "Peeps" 
and "Ox-Eyes," and the toes of the Semipalmated Sandpiper 
are partly webbed. 

1 Er-e-un-e'tes pu-sil'lus. Length, 6 inches. 

2 Ac-to-dro'mas min-u-til'la. Average length, 5.50 inches. 



PEEPS" AND "OX-EYES" 



135 



As the green -topped surf dashes to pieces on the pebbles 
and goes sliding in a silvery sheet up the yellow sand, you will 
notice just above its frothy edge a flock of little gray sprites, 
their tiny legs twinkling as they patter swiftly over the smooth 
floor. Sometimes the sliding sheet of water overtakes them. 
If it is nearly spent, they mind it not; but if the rush is too 
strong, up springs the 
flock, all members at the 
same instant, and with 
quick flashes of light- 
gray wings, it skims the 
surf -sheets or the sand, to 
a point farther on. The 
unison of action in the 
rising, flight and landing 
of the flock is as perfect 
as if each little pair of 
wings were worked by the same wires. How does each bird 
know the impulses of all the others? Watch them, and see 
if you can guess the secret. 

At the seashore I never weary of watching these busy 
little creatures, and never fail to be amused by the twinkling 
of their tiny legs as they run before the water. As the sheet 
of surf recedes, down they run after it, to pick up whatever 
of insect or other edible animal life it has brought to them from 
the sea, or uncovered on the sand. 

Small as the Sandpipers are, their slaughter by gunners 
was in full career when it was stopped by the federal migra- 
tory bird law, on October 1, 1913. Had it continued a little 




LEAST SANDPIPER. 



136 SHORE BIRDS 

longer these helpless and heedless little birds would soon have 
been exterminated from our bird fauna. To-day the species 
mentioned above are found very thinly sprinkled throughout 
the whole eastern United States, and they breed northward 
quite up to the Arctic Barren Grounds. Wherever they are, 
they are interesting birds, and worthy of your friendship. 

THE LONG-BILLED CURLEW l is a bird which has caused 
much wonderment and many guesses in the middle West, 
where on the virgin prairies it once was frequently seen. 
This bird's trick of holding its wings high above its back for 
t\vo or three seconds after it alights upon the ground alw r ays 
attracts special attention. Its cry, also, oft repeated in 
spring, is very weird and peculiar, and well calculated to make 
the bird remembered. 

This bird once was common on the rolling prairies of Iowa, 
regardless of ponds or streams, where it sought every sort of 
animal life small enough to be swallowed. It is easily recog- 
nized, even in flight, by its long, curved bill. In its form, its 
beak and its legs, it is almost a perfect counterpart of a typical 
ibis, but it has the mechanically mottled plumage of a typical 
shore bird. Although by some ornithologists this bird is 
credited to the whole length and breadth of the United States, 
there certainly are some very wide regions from which it is 
totally absent. In various localities it has various names, 
some of which are Sickle Bill, Sabre Bill, Smoker, Spanish 
Curlew and Mowyer. 

This bird is very sympathetic toward its wounded mates, 

1 Nu-men'i-us lon-gi-ros'tris. Average length, about 23 inches; bill of adult 
bird, about 8 inches. 



OF INTEREST TO THE SPECIAL STUDENT 137 

and in response to the cries of a bird that has been shot, a 
flock sometimes will return, and with loud cries circle near the 
gunner, at close range, until several more have been brought 
down. (D. G. Elliot.) 

Besides the shore birds mentioned above, there are several 
groups which are of interest chiefly to the special student, 
and which there is no space to introduce here, save by name. 
There are the oyster-catchers, turnstones, godwits, stilts and 
phalaropes. In the Order Limicolae as a whole there are in 
North America, north of Mexico, about seventy-five species 
and subspecies. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 
ORDER OF CRANES, RAILS, AND COOTS 

PALUDICOLAE 

THE name of this Order, Pal-u-dic'o-lae, means "marsh- 
dweller," and the presence in it of the cranes is enough 
to make it notable. It must be admitted, however, that from 
the stately and commanding crane down to the humble coot, 
the scared gallinule, and the diminutive rail, is a long step 
downward. But it is inevitable that the efforts of science to 
classify the birds of the world in as few Orders as possible 
should bring together many widely divergent forms. To 
have a greater number of Orders would be still more confusing 
to the general student than the present number. 

In the Order of Marsh-Dwellers there are only two Fami- 
lies which we feel called upon to notice here. These are the 
Cranes and the Rails, Gallinules and Coots. 

THE CRANE FAMILY 

Gruidae 

The cranes of the world form a group of about eighteen 
species, which, in stateliness, beauty and oddity of habit, are 
second only to the ostriches and their allies. Every zoolog- 
ical garden which possesses a good collection of cranes has 
good reason to be proud of it. The Crowned Cranes of Africa 

138 



THE CRANE FAMILY 139 

are the most beautiful species of all, the Paradise Crane is 
the oddest in appearance, the little Demoiselle Crane, of the 
Nile region, has the most amiable disposition. The big, 
red-headed Saras Crane of India is the most quarrelsome, and 
the stately Whooping Crane of North America is the species 
which comes nearest to being pure white. 

Through some mischievous and unfortunate circumstance, 
the great majority of the people who live in the eastern 
United States have become almost fixed in the habit of call- 
ing the great blue heron the "blue crane." The former is 
common enough along watercourses and tidal rivers, but it is 
probable that not more than one person out of every ten 
thousand has ever seen in America a living wild crane. As 
applied to wild birds, the word "crane" should be used most 
sparingly. Along the Atlantic coast, the only locality in 
which it might correctly be used afield is on the interior sa- 
vannas of Florida. 

THE WHOOPING CRANE 1 is now one of the rarest of all 
living North American birds. Fourteen years of diligent 
quest for living specimens have produced but eight birds. 
There were in captivity on January 1, 1914, exactly five 
specimens, only two of which were in the United States. 
Inasmuch as this bird is of no value save to zoological gardens, 
it must be believed that it has been wantonly shot, down to 
the verge of extinction. Since it is a practical impossibility 
to induce it to breed in captivity, the species seems almost 
certain to disappear from our fauna at an early date. 

Although this splendid species is not as yet wholly extinct, 

1 Grus americana* 



140 CRANES, RAILS, AND COOTS 

it is very near it. In view of its range from the Arctic Barren 
Grounds to the Gulf of Mexico, there is not the slightest 
chance that it can be sufficiently protected from shooting to 
prevent its extermination about 1934. 

As seen with its wings closed, the visible plumage of this 
grand bird is all snowy white. When the wings are spread, 
however, it is found that the largest feathers, called the pri- 
maries, are jet black. The upper tail coverts form a plume that 
arches upward over the tail, and gives the bird a very jaunty 
air. The top of the head is bare of feathers, and the rough 
skin has a dull-red glow. The eye is big and keen, and the 
bill is long, strong and rather blunt on the end, for digging 
angle-worms out of the ground, not for spearing fish. 

The strength of the beak and neck of the Whooping Crane 
in the New York Zoological Park is truly remarkable. The 
bird roams at will in a grassy meadow of about two acres in 
extent. Soon after it attained full growth, it was noticed 
that after every rain it would vigorously attack the grass. 
With mandibles two inches apart at the tips, it would drive 
its beak into the earth to a depth of from two to three inches, 
grasp a tuft of grass between them, and by main strength de- 
liberately pull it up by the roots. A few vigorous shakes side- 
wise dislodged any angle-worms which might have been 
brought up, after which the roots of the tuft would be care- 
fully looked over before being cast aside. Next in order, the 
wounded earth w r ould be carefully probed and picked over. 
In a few hours, this bird sometimes pulled up the grass on 
a space fifteen feet square, and finally disfigured the ground 
so seriously that after every rain the Crane had to be shut up. 



THE WHOOPING CRANE'S TRUMPET CALL 



141 



A living full-grown Whooping Crane stands 4 feet 3 
inches high. Its name is due to its wonderfully clear, powerful 
and trumpet-like call, which is uttered with the beak pointing 




N. Y. Zoological Park. 

WHOOPING CRANE. 

straight upward. When properly delivered, the crane's call 
consists of two notes, an octave apart, one following the other 
so closely that there is no interval, thus: "Quah-KEE-E- 
E-oo!" I believe that a Crane's trumpet call will carry as 
far as the roar of a lion. 

All our Cranes are strictly open-country birds, and for- 



142 CRANES, RAILS, AND COOTS 

merly inhabited the fertile, froggy prairies and corn-fields of 
the Mississippi Valley ; but the species named above never was 
really numerous anywhere. In travelling, cranes always fly 
in single file, with their long necks and legs in a straight line, 
and in that position the length of the bird seems very great. 

THE SANDHILL CRANE 1 is a smaller bird than the preceding, 
always has been more numerous and therefore is much more 
widely known. In color it is a dull bluish-slate, and it has a 
half-bald, dull-red head, like a whooping crane. The pioneers 
who were on the western prairies from 1850 to 1870 occasion- 
ally saw long lines of enormously long birds sailing high in 
the heavens, trumpeting their identity to those unable to 
see them, or alighting on stilt-like legs in the corn-fields. In 
springtime, when the birds alighted in the bare fields, and 
stalked about with majestic stride, they seemed fairly gigantic. 
They went far north in spring to breed, and on their return 
trips sought their winter home in Texas, Florida, and else- 
where along the Gulf coast. 

Cranes in captivity, and wild ones also, often indulge in 
strange antics. Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, one 
will half-open its wings, leap into the air and begin to dance. 
It bobs and bows, salams and courtesies almost to the ground, 
and in sheer delight repeatedly leaps into the air. Often the 
lead of one bird is followed by several others, and occasion- 
ally (as I have myself seen) a whole wild flock of fifteen or 
twenty birds will join in the fandango. 

Whenever the days are cool and clear, 
The sandhill crane goes walking 

1 Grus mexicana. Height, about 3 feet, 10 inches. 



THE VIRGINIA RAIL 143 

Across the field by the flashing weir, 

Slowly, solemnly stalking. 
The little frogs in the tules hear, 
And jump for their lives if he comes near; 
The fishes scuttle away in fear, 

When the sandhill crane goes walking. 

The field folk know if he comes that way, 

Slowly, solemnly stalking, 
There is danger and death in the least delay, 

When the sandhill crane goes walking. 
The chipmunks stop in the midst of play; 
The gophers hide in their holes away; 
And "Hush, oh, hush!" the field mice say, 

When the sandhill crane goes walking. 

MRS. MARY AUSTIN, in St. Nicholas. 1 

THE FAMILY OF RAILS 

Rallidae 

From the stately crane to the timid, self-effacing VIR- 
GINIA RAIL 2 is going at one step from the sublime to the 
ridiculous. To the latter, which is a bird about half the size 
of a bob-white, a crane must seem like a giant whose head 
is in the clouds. The crane can either fight, run or fly away; 
but the rail is safe only when threading the mazes of a reedy 
marsh, where no enemy can follow it far. When boating 
on a marsh filled with cat-tails, or reeds, or tall grass, you 
may hear a score of rails clucking and calling in the heart of 
the green tangle about you without seeing one. There are 
times when it seems as if this bird is a deliberate and inten- 
tional ventriloquist, for its voice seems to come from all di- 
rections save that which points toward its owner. A marsh 
is as necessary to rails as water is to fishes. 

1 By permission of The Century Co. and of the author* 

2 Ral'lus virginianus. Average length, 9 inches. 



144 



CRANES, RAILS, AND COOTS 



When a rail flies up out of a marsh or a meadow, you can 
recognize it by its feeble, fluttering flight, and its hanging 
legs. Often in alighting it seems to fall helplessly into the 
tall cover. 

In the wide marshes along the New Jersey shore, dwells 
a species known as the SORA RAIL X in numbers sufficiently 







VIRGINIA RAIL. 

numerous to attract gunners. The moment the "law is 
off," the flat-bottomed boats are brought out, and the fusil- 
lade begins. With no larger game available, even a small 
Rail can form an excuse for a day's outing on the marshes, 
bringing the grip of the gun-stock, the dull "boom" that is 
music to the desk-weary man, and the welcome smell of gun- 

1 Por-za'na Carolina. Length, about 9 inches. 



MIDWAY BETWEEN A RAIL AND A COOT 145 

powder. Therefore, rail not at all those who shoot rails; 
for there be some who do not shoot "for revenue only." 

As may be inferred, rails are good to eat, though not very 
good; for they are several sizes too small for real comfort. 
There are only about twelve species in North America, of 
which the King Rail, 15 inches long (of eastern North Amer- 
ica), is the largest, and the Virginia Rail is the most widely 
distributed. The latter has a. long bill (1H inches), and is 
found from Long Island to British Columbia, breeding every- 
where that marshy lands occur. It is an olive-brown bird, 
streaked and barred with black, and in places with white also. 

While the most typical rails have long bills, some species 
are short-billed. 

A GALLINULE is a bird which lives, acts and looks like a 
rail, and is easily mistaken for either a rail or a coot; but it 
stands midway between the two. It is distinguished from 
the rails by the bare, horny shield upon the forehead, and from 
the coots by the long, slender, unwebbed toes. The FLORIDA 
GALLINULE 1 is also called the Blue "Rail," and Red-Billed 
"Mud-Hen," and its general color effect is bluish gray. It 
is found in localities adapted to its habits throughout temper- 
ate North America, north to Canada, and as far south as 
Brazil. 

THE PURPLE GALLINULE, 2 of the southern half of the 
eastern United States, is a bird of beautiful plumage. Its 
colors are a rich, dark purple on the head, neck and shoulders, 
lightening to peacock blue on the back and lower breast. 

1 Gal-li-nu'la gal-e-a'ta. Length, about 13 inches. 

2 I-o-nor'nis mar-tin' i-ca. Length, 12 inches. 






146 



CRANES, RAILS, AND COOTS 



Even as it rises beside your railway train you can easily 
recognize it before it is lost to view. It still breeds on the 
headwaters of the St. Johns, opposite Melbourne. 

THE COOT, or Muo-HEN, 1 is a bird of the small creeks, 
and the shores of shallow lakes and ponds where cat-tails. 




THE COO r 



lizard-tails, iris and rushes grow abundantly. It is natural 
for any one who writes about a bird to think of it as he saw 
it most impressively. My memory goes back to my first 
days of alligator and crocodile hunting, in the little creeks 
that flow from the Florida Everglades into the head and 
western side of Biscay ne Bay. Then and there Mud-Hens 
were so numerous and so tame they became positively monot- 
onous. As we rowed silently along Snake Creek, or Arch 

1 Fu-li'ca americana. Average length, 14.50 inches. 



PECULIARITIES OF THE COOT 147 

Creek, the man in the bow ready for the next "big, old 'gator" 
found sunning himself at the edge of the saw-grass, up would 
go three or four slaty-blue birds of the size of bantam hens. 
With feeble flight, and feet pattering on the water to help 
along, they would fly ahead of the boat in a most offensively 
ostentatious manner. Of course any old alligator knows that 
a scared Coot means a boat; and since every boat is known 
to be loaded, the natural sequence of a frightened Coot is 
the bottom of the creek. 

The foot of the Coot is very curiously formed. It looks 
as if originally it had been fully webbed, but some one in 
sportive mood took a pair of scissors, cut out the centre of 
the web and cut deep scallops in the web along each side of 
each toe. The foot, therefore, is half webbed an excellent 
arrangement for running on water when the wings lend their 
assistance. This bird never rises on the wing without a pre- 
liminary run on the water of from fifty to one hundred and 
fifty feet. It swims and dives quite well, but as a rule it 
prefers to live as do the rails and gallinules, in the edges of 
heavy marsh vegetation, where it can pick up its living of 
buds, blossoms, seeds, aquatic insects and snails, and also hide 
from its enemies. 

As yet the Coot is not considered a "game bird," and is 
not slaughtered for food; but, once let the evil eye of the 
epicure fall with favor upon this bird or any other and its 
doom will be sealed. 

The distribution of this species is given as "from Green- 
land and Alaska southward to the West Indies." 



CHAPTER XXIX 
ORDER OF HERONS, STORKS, AND IBISES 

HERODIONES 

ALL the members of this Order are either sturdy fisher- 
-* * folk or longshoremen. They wait not for bud or blos- 
soms, or ripening grain, but when hunger calls they go 
a-fishing. Then woe betide the small fish or frog of any size 
which is tempted to stray into the warm shallows and linger 
there. 

The neck of the heron is specially formed by Nature for 
quick lunging. At rest, it folds upon itself, in angular kinks, 
until the neck totally disappears, and the bird's head seems 
to rest down upon its shoulders. But alarm this neckless 
bird, and presto! it is another creature. Up goes the head 
into the air, borne on a long, flat-sided neck, which curves 
like a capital S. 

When a heron is fishing, it stalks slowly and silently along 
the shore, preferably in water about six inches deep, its head 
carried well forward but about on a level with the top of its 
shoulders, while its big eyes keenly scrutinize every object 
in the water. It takes long steps, and plants each foot 
softly, in true still-hunter fashion, to avoid alarming its game. 
When a fish is found within range, the kinks of the neck fly 

148 



DESTROYED FOR THEIR PLUMES 149 

straight, and the fish is seized between the mandibles. The 
fish is not stabbed through and through, as is generally sup- 
posed. In swallowing a fish, it is, of course, taken head first. 

Herons, egrets and ibises are gregarious, or sociable, in 
their nesting habits. In other words, they are fond of nest- 
ing together; and a place of many nesting birds is called either 
a "heronry," or a "rookery." The nesting sites are chosen 
with due regard to seclusion and food supplies. Usually the 
heronry is located in low trees that stand on a small island, 
or else grow up out of a swamp or bayou, so that without a 
boat they are almost inaccessible. 

Thirty years ago the greatest and most numerous heron- 
ries in the United States were in Florida, on the headwaters 
of the St. Johns, on the edge of the Everglades, the Big Cypress 
Swamp and the small rivers and creeks that run down to the 
sea. To-day it is difficult to find in Florida a heronry worthy 
of the name, or one which belongs to a large assemblage of 
birds; but there are a few, carefully protected by wardens. 
Herons, egrets and ibises have been so persistently destroyed 
for their "plumes" that not more than one-fiftieth of the 
original number remains. 

As will be seen by the following table, the Order Hero- 
diones contains quite a number of important water-birds 
which are not herons: 



ORDER HERODIONES 

FAMILIES. EXAMPLES. 

HERON Ar-de'i-dae Herons, Egrets and Bitterns. 

STORK Cic-o-ni'i-dae Wood Ibis. 

IBIS I-bid'i-dae White Ibis and Scarlet Ibis. 

SPOONBILL Plat-a-le'i-dae Roseate Spoonbill. 



150 HERONS, STORKS, AND IBISES 

THE HERON FAMILY 

Ardeidae 

THE GREAT BLUE HERON 1 is the largest, handsomest 
and most conspicuous Heron in North America if not the 
world. This is the bird so persistently called the "Blue 
Crane"; and one of the first things for the beginner to learn 
about birds is to call this bird a Heron, instead of a "crane"! 

Whether fishing in the shallows along the shore, or perch- 
ing on a dead tree, or winging his way slowly and majestically 
through the air, this is a fine, handsome bird, and a welcome 
sight to see. Its height when standing fairly erect is 3 feet, 
3 inches. It has plumes on its head, breast and back, which 
American cranes do not have. It is never seen away from 
watercourses, and, it may be added, in warm weather no 
river scene is truly complete and perfect without one! 

When seen with closed wings, its upper neck and body 
are of a bluish-slate color, and its under surfaces are white, 
streaked up and down with black. In the North this bird 
is shy, and afraid of being shot at; but in the tropics, where 
they are not persecuted, I have sometimes approached within 
thirty feet of full-grown birds without alarming them. 

The range of this bird is from the arctic regions southward 
wherever the conditions of water, timber and food are suit- 
able, to the West Indies and South America; but there are 
many arid and treeless regions from which it is totally absent. 

THE LITTLE GREEN HERON, or "FLY-UP-THE-CREEK," : 
is found throughout the well-watered regions of the United 

1 Ar-de'a her-o'di-as. Length, from 40 to 48 inches. 

2 Bu-tor'i-des vi-res'cens. Average length, about 18 inches. 



THE LITTLE GREEN HERON 



151 



States, wherever limber is plentiful. In many localities of 
the middle West and the Mississippi Valley from which the 
great blue heron is now absent, this is the only heron to be 




N. Y. Zoological Park. 



GREAT BLUE HERON. 



found; and away from the Atlantic coast it is the most 
familiar member of its Order. 

Its body is about as large as that of a sparrow hawk, and 
when in a crouching attitude it is a very proper-looking bird. 
With its neck stretched, however, and its head held high, the 
body seems much too small, and the neck makes the bird 



152 HERONS, STORKS, AND IBISES 

seem top-heavy. Start it off in flight, however, and it is one 
of the most ill-fitting herons that ever took wing. It is so 
angular and loose-jointed it seems ready to fall to pieces, 
and its flight is slow and feeble. The prevailing color of its 
plumage is a beautiful metallic green, but the flat shape of 
its neck, and the peculiar set of the feathers thereon have 
caused many young taxidermists some very sad hours. 

The food of the Green Heron consists of minnows, small 
frogs, tadpoles and insects. 

THE LITTLE BLUE HERON* is still occasionally seen in 
Florida, because it bears no fatal "plumes." In summer this 
species sometimes wanders northward as far as Illinois and 
Maine. One striking peculiarity of its plumage is worthy of 
special mention. Until one year old the young birds are 
snow white, and look precisely like young snowy egrets which 
are of corresponding size and form. Sometimes it is a matter 
of difficulty to convince a person that a snow-white bird is a 
Little Blue Heron in its first year. But the moulting finally 
tells the story. First the plumage is flecked with blue, then 
it is half blue, and at last the solid-blue color prevails. It 
seems to me that in clothing young and inexperienced birds 
in snow-white robes, which attract all eyes to them, Nature 
forgot all about "protective coloration"! 

THE BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON 2 breeds all around New 
York City, and there is a wild colony of more than twenty 
birds regularly nesting and living in the Zoological Park. We 
feed them daily, with raw fish, on the bank of Lake Agassiz. 

1 Ar-de'a cae-ru'le-a. Average length, 24.50 inches. 

2 Nyc-ti-co'rax nycticorax nae'vi-us. Length, 24.50 inches. 



THE NIGHT HERON 153 

As its name implies, this bird has a crown of glossy black 
feathers, with two or three long white occipital plumes. It 
is a southern bird, but it breeds as far north as Massachusetts 




LITTLE GREEN HERON. 



and Illinois. Like its twin, the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron, 
it is half -nocturnal in its habits. When at night in Florida 
you hear a bird say "Quawk!" and repeat it to you from the 
depths of the mangroves as your boat glides by, you know it is 
a Night Heron. Both these species have beautiful plumage, 



154 HERONS, STORKS, AND IBISES 

and are handsome birds. Their distinguishing marks are: 
thick bodies, and short, thick necks; short legs (for herons), 
and two or three round, wisp-like plumes from five to seven 
inches long growing out of the top of the head, and drooping 
backward. 

THE SNOWY HERON, or SNOWY EGRET, 1 when fully adult, 
is one of the most beautiful white birds in all the avian world. 
Its form is the embodiment of symmetry and grace, its plu- 
mage is immaculate, and the filmy "plumes" on its head and 
back are like spun glass. Its black legs and bill merely serve 
to intensify the whiteness of its feathers. 

But the vanity of women has been the curse of the Snowy 
Egret. Its plumes are finest during the breeding season, and 
it was then that the hunters sought them, slaughtering the 
parent birds in the rookeries by thousands (when they were 
abundant), and leaving the nestlings to die of starvation. 
If all women could know the price in blood and suffering 
which is paid for the "white badge of cruelty," surely but 
few could find any pleasure in wearing them. It is strange 
that civilized woman the tender-hearted, the philanthropic 
and compassionate should prove to be the evil genius of the 
world's most beautiful birds. 

In Florida, this bird once lived and bred, in thousands, 
on the headwaters of the St. Johns, around the Everglades, 
and the heads of the streams that run down to the sea. At 
the first shot fired in a rookery, a white cloud would arise, 
and old residents tell how "the savannas were sometimes 
white" with these beautiful creatures. In Florida and else- 

1 E-gret'ta can-di-dis' si-ma. Length, about 23 inches. 



LAW PROHIBITING WILD PLUMAGE 155 

where there are now twenty colonies of White Egrets, con- 
taining about 10,000 birds, all under the protection of the 
National Association of Audubon Societies. At Avery Island, 
Louisiana, Mr. E. A. Mcllhenny has a colony of about 5,000 
birds (in 1914) which he began to protect in 1894. 

From 1900 to 1913 the Audubon Societies of America 
waged constant warfare against the killing of Egrets and the 
sale of Egret plumes, or "aigrettes." Through hard cam- 
paigning, thirteen state legislatures had been educated into 
passing state laws forbidding the sale of Egret plumes, and 
the plumage of all the protected birds of those states. These 
laws exerted a great influence for good, but the free importa- 
tion of wild birds' plumage from abroad kept the plume- 
wearing women of America well supplied. In all parts of 
the world outside the United States where Egrets are found, 
the slaughter of those birds continued at a terrible rate, to 
supply the feather market of Europe and America. 

Six years ago the bird-lovers of England started a move- 
ment in London for the curbing of the feather trade, but up 
to the end of 1913 no law had actually been passed. 

In January, 1913, the framing of a new tariff law by our 
Congress afforded an opportunity to ask for the insertion of 
a clause to prohibit all importations of the plumage of wild 
birds for commercial purposes of any kind, but from this 
proposal ostrich feathers and the feathers of all domestic 
fowls were excluded. 

A great campaign was made for "the plumage clause," in 
which the women of America who are opposed to the slaughter 
of wild birds for "the feather trade" took active part. The 



156 HERONS, STORKS, AND IBISES 

movement finally triumphed, and on October 4, 1913, all 
importations of Egret plumes, aigrettes, birds of paradise 
skins, "numidi" feathers, "goura" feathers and all others 




N. Y. Zoological Park. 

GREAT WHITE EGRET. 

from wild birds ceased forever. Even such plumage actually 
worn on hats and bonnets is prohibited entry at all our ports. 
This plumage law is the first ever enacted for the protec- 
tion of the birds of the world at large. Hereafter the millions 



THE AMERICAN BITTERN 157 

of birds previously slaughtered annually for America will not 
be killed, because there will be no sale for them. Already 
the London feather market has suffered a decline of more than 
33 per cent. To-day (1914) the bird protectors of England, 
France, Holland and Germany are fighting for the enactment 
of prohibitory laws similar to ours. 

THE AMERICAN EGRET, or GREAT WHITE EGRET/ is, 
when adult, our second largest bird of the Order of Herons 
with pure-white plumage, the great white heron being the first. 
Much to the misfortune of this species, it possesses about 
fifty "aigrette" plumes which droop in graceful curves from 
the middle of its back, far beyond the tail and wing tips. 
For these beautiful feathers this bird also has been pursued by 
plume-hunters, to the point of total extermination. In the 
protected Egret rookeries of Florida a few of these birds still 
live, and if protection continues they may by breeding re- 
store their species to our avifauna on a permanent basis. 

THE AMERICAN BITTERN 2 is a fairly large bird, of a yel- 
lowish-brown color, elaborately mottled and streaked with va- 
rious shades of light and dark. When standing in conceal- 
ment, it draws in its neck until it wholly disappears in its 
plumage. The result is an egg-shaped bird, with a beak at 
the small end, pointing heavenward, and short, thick legs 
below. I have seen a Bittern stand motionless in that idiotic 
attitude for nearly an hour at a time. Even in the whirling 
gayety of our big Flying Cage, it takes life sadly, and never 
makes merry, as do all other birds, even the funereal vul- 

1 Her-o'di-as e-gret'ta. ' Length, about 40 inches. 

2 Bo-tau'rus len-tig-i-no'sus. Length, 26 inches. 



158 



HERONS, STORKS, AND IBISES 



tures. Standing erect, however, the Bittern is a bird with a 
fair length of neck; but its neck seems much too large and 
heavy for its body. 

Because of the peculiar sound it utters, the Bittern is 
called the "Stake-Driver" and " Thunder '-Pumper -." I never 




AMERICAN BITTERN. 

have heard thunder pumped, but with stake-driving am quite 
familiar, and must say that I never heard a Bittern give forth 
a cry that sounded like it. I think also that the "booming" 
of the Bittern should be taken subject to inspection and ap- 
proval ; for to at least one tympanum there is a wide difference 



THE STORK FAMILY 159 

between a real "boom" and the alleged "boom" of the 
Bittern. 

This bird inhabits sloughs and marshes of tall, rank grass, 
in which it hides most successfully by standing very erect, and 
pointing its beak toward the zenith. It feeds chiefly upon 
frogs, small snakes, lizards and crawfish. 

THE LEAST BITTERN l is the smallest member of the Heron 
Order a queer little brow^nish-yellow and black creature, 
duly mottled of course, with a sparrow-like body, and a wide, 
flat neck several sizes too large for the body of the bird. On 
the whole, it is a pretty little creature, associated by habit 
with the long-billed marsh wren, the rail, and the red-winged 
blackbird. 

THE STORK FAMILY 

Ciconiidae 

The real Storks are found only in the Old World; but the 
WOOD iBis 2 is a member of the Stork Family, and he looks it. 
He is a big, burly, bald-headed, good-natured bird, standing 
31 inches high. No matter what goes on around him, he is 
as solemn as an owl. Although large enough to do much 
damage to birds smaller than himself, he associates with her- 
ons, ducks, geese and ibises of all sizes, without the slight- 
est desire to harm any of them, or even to rule them. In a 
large bird, capable of much mischief, such perpetual good 
temper is worthy of note. 

When this bird is adult and clean, its plumage is pure white, 
and it is a noteworthy member of any feathered community. 

1 Ar-det'ta ex-i'lis. Length, 13 inches. 

2 Tarita-lus loc-u-la'tor. Average length, 38 inches. 



160 HERONS, STORKS, AND IBISES 

Specimens are nearly always procurable in Florida at a rea- 
sonable price ($15), and there are always several in the New 
York Zoological Park. This species "breeds in Florida and 
the Gulf states, after which it wanders north as far as Kansas, 
Indiana and New York." 

THE IBIS FAMILY 

Ibididae 

In North America this Family contains three species of 
birds that are heron-like in general form, but are quite differ- 
ently provided as to their bills. The bill of a true ibis is 
long, slender and curved, much like that of a long-billed cur- 
lew, and it is fitted for probing in soft earth or shallow water. 
The neck is round, and the head also, instead of being flat- 
sided like that of a heron. 

THE WHITE iBis 1 is yet found in Florida, and excepting 
the four outer wing-feathers (primaries) , which are black, it is 
a pure-white bird. Specimens in the first year are grayish 
brown and white, and in color do not even suggest the pure- 
white plumage of the second year, and thereafter. This 
species rarely comes into any of the northern states. 

The beautiful and brilliant SCARLET IBis, 2 once a habitant 
of southern Florida and Louisiana, is no longer found in the 
United States. In color it is one of the most brilliant birds 
in all America, though by no means so beautiful as the re- 
splendent trogon. I saw it in great numbers on the mud flats 
at the mouth of the Orinoco, and shot it on the coast of 

1 Guar'a al'ba. Average length, 24 inches. 

2 Guar'a ru'bra. Length, 23 inches. 



THE SPOONBILL FAMILY 



161 



British Guiana. On Marajo Island, in the delta of the 
Amazon, it breeds in hundreds a sight worth a long journey 
to see. Unfortunately, it is impossible to keep specimens of 
this species in confinement and have them retain their color. 
In a few months they fade until they are pale pink. 

THE GLOSSY iBis 1 is 
a dark-colored bird, its 
prevailing color being 
rich brownish purple 
with metallic-green re- 
flections, and abundant 
iridescence. It seems 
smaller than the two 
light-colored species 
mentioned above, but in 
reality it is not. In 1899 
two specimens were cap- 
tured on the St. Johns River, opposite Melbourne, Florida, and 
one of them lived two years in the Zoological Park. This 
species is rare, even in Florida, but in Texas and the Southwest 
the White-Faced Glossy Ibis is of more frequent occurrence. 

THE SPOONBILL FAMILY 

Plataleidae 

THE ROSEATE SPOONBILL, 2 or PINK "CURLEW," is the 
only member of the Spoonbill Family in America, and it is 
also the farthest from the type of the Order Herodiones. It 
is really an ibis with a w T ide bill which terminates in two 

1 Pleg'a-dis au-tum-nal'is. Length, 23 inches. 2 A-ja'i-a a-ja'i-a. 




WHITE IBIS. 



162 HERONS, STORKS, AND IBISES 

rounded, flat plates, nearly two inches wide. When stand- 
ing erect, it is about 16 inches high. Its body plumage is 
either rosy pink or white, and its wing coverts and secondaries 
are tinted a very beautiful rose-madder pink, the color being 
most intense on the lesser coverts. 

Once quite abundant throughout the lagoons, streams and 
swampy districts of Florida, this beautiful bird is now so 
nearly extinct there that no live specimens have been ob- 
tainable nearer than the Gulf coast of Mexico. Indeed, until 
very recently there were good reasons for the belief that not 
one Roseate Spoonbill remained alive anywhere in Florida. 
Now, however, it is a pleasure to record the fact that this 
species has not wholly disappeared from our avifauna. 

In The Auk for January, 1904, Mr. A. C. Bent describes 
the finding of a few small flocks of these birds near Cape 
Sable, which he found nesting in two localities. 'The prin- 
cipal breeding-ground of the Roseate Spoonbills was a great 
morass on the borders of Alligator Lake, a few miles back 
from the coast near Cape Sable, where the mangrove islands 
in which the birds were nesting were well protected by im- 
penetrable jungles of saw-grass, treacherous mud-holes, and ap- 
parently bottomless creeks. . . . The Spoonbills were here 
in abundance, and had eggs and young in their nests, in all 
stages, as well as fully grown young climbing about in the 
trees. The old birds were tamer than at Cuthbert Lake, and 
allowed themselves to be photographed at a reasonable dis- 
tance." 

"The Spoonbills," continues Mr. Bent, "will probably 
be the next to disappear from the list of Florida water-birds. 




KOSEATE SPOONBILLS IN FULL COLOR. 



KILLED FOR PLUMAGE AND FOR FOOD 163 

They are already much reduced in numbers and restricted 
in habitat. They are naturally shy and their rookeries are 
easily broken up. Their plumage makes them attractive 
marks for the tourist's gun, and they are killed by the natives 
for food. But fortunately their breeding-places are remote, 
and almost inaccessible." 

The nests found by Mr. Bent on Cuthbert Lake, almost 
on the edge of the Everglades, were built in red mangrove 
trees on the edge of the water, all on nearly horizontal branches 
from 12 to 15 feet from the ground. "They were well made, 
of large sticks, deeply hollowed, and lined with strips of bark 
and water moss. One nest contained only a single, heavily 
incubated egg, one a handsome set of three eggs, and the 
other held two downy young, not quite half grown." 

In my opinion there is no "cause," either existent or 
creatable, not even the "cause of science," which could jus- 
tify the killing or capture of any of the birds composing those 
last small flocks of Spoonbills. Not even the necessities of a 
zoological park should for one moment be accepted as an ex- 
cuse for meddling with that avian remnant; and let no hunter 
think of offering a bargain in live Spoonbills from Cape 
Sable, or of now writing to ask "What will you give?" 

In January, 1914, it was reported to me at Marco, Florida, 
that a colony of Spoonbills inhabits a protected egret rookery 
that exists on an island in a small river that flows into the 
Gulf of Mexico a short distance below Marco Island. 



CHAPTER XXX 
ORDER OF FLAMINGOES A CONNECTING LINK 

ODONTOGLOSSAE 



long-legged, long-necked FLAMINGO is a very per- 
A feet connecting link between the wading birds and the 
swimmers. It is a most curiously formed bird. It has enor- 
mously long, stilt-like legs, like a heron; but its feet are 
fully webbed, like the feet of a duck. Its standing height 
is from forty-eight to fifty -four inches. It has a long, slen- 
der, crane-like neck; but its thick, broken-backed bill is 
provided with lamillae along the edges, like the bill of a 
shoveller duck. The anatomy of the bill and tongue of this 
bird is particularly interesting. 

This bird is by habit a true wader, and lives and breeds 
near shallow lagoons, where it can walk in the water and feed 
on the bottom. 

The nest of this queer bird is a low, flat pillar of mud from 
six to twelve inches in height, thirteen inches in diameter 
at the bottom, and ten inches across the top which is flat, 
and slightly depressed. 1 The eggs are two in number. 

Up to 1890 the Flamingo flocks still visited southern 
Florida, near Cape Sable, and it is possible that at rare in- 

1 Bird Lore magazine, IV, p. 180. 
164 



THE TRADE IN FLAMINGOES 



165 



tervals they still do so. Captain W. D. Collier, Marco Island, 
west coast of Florida, states that when he first made his 
home on that island, forty years ago, "Flamingoes came there 
every year by the thousand!" Besides those on Andros 




N. Y. Zoological Park. 



THE FLAMINGO. 



Island in the Bahamas, Flamingoes are found in Cuba, and 
on the north coast of Yucatan. Until about 1906 every year 
from twenty to fifty live, birds were brought to New York by 
the dealers in live animals, and sold at prices ranging from 
$12 to $20 each. Now the annual supply has fallen to a very 
low point, and in some years none arrive. When any arrive 



166 FLAMINGOES A CONNECTING LINK 

they are all over bright red, but in captivity all gradually fade 
out until they are pale pink. 

In all the world there are eight species of Flamingoes. 
While our species 1 is bright scarlet, all over, those of Europe 
and North Africa are almost white, with pink wing coverts. 
The food of this bird in captivity is dried shrimps, boiled rice 
and cubes of stale bread, fed in water. In a room which is 
warmed to 60 Fahrenheit, it can live all winter, wading half 
the time in water that is almost icy cold, without catching 
cold. The voice of this bird is fearfully and wonderfully 
made. It is a resonant, deep-bass, utterly unmusical "honk." 

1 Phoe-ni-cop'ter-us ru'ber. Length, 45 inches; spread of wings, 62 inches; 
tarsus, 12.50 inches. 



CHAPTER XXXI 
ORDER OF DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 

ANSERES 

WE have now reached the first Order of a great group of 
birds which might well stand as a Subclass the Web- 
Footed Swimmers. It embraces six different Orders, and be- 
fore touching any one of them it is highly necessary that the 
student should take a bird's-eye view of the whole subdivision. 
A clear conception of these six Orders, and the characters on 
which they are based, will be of perpetual service to every 
person who desires a comprehensive view of the avian world. 

THE ORDERS OF SWIMMING BIRDS 

THE WEB-FOOTED BIRDS 
FLYING SWIMMERS: WITH GOOD WINGS 

ORDERS 

DUCKS AND GEESE (three toes webbed) An'se-res. 

FULLY PALMATED BIRDS (four toes webbed). Cormo- 
rants, Pelicans, Snake-Birds, etc Steg-an-op'o-des. 

TUBE-NOSED SWIMMERS. Albatrosses and Petrels Tu-bi-na'res. 

LONG-WINGED SWIMMERS. Gulls, Terns, etc Lon-gi-pen'nes. 

DIVING SWIMMERS: WITH SMALL WINGS, OR NONE FOR FLIGHT 

* 

WEAK- WINGED DIVERS. Loons, Grebes, Auks, Puffins. .Py-gop'o-des. 
FLIGHTLESS DIVERS. Penguins Im-pen'nes. 

This group is not only extensive, but its members show a 

wide diversity in form and habits, and they are fitted for life 

167 



168 DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 

in all climates, on waters great and small. Having before us 
such a host of swimming birds that six Orders are necessary 
to classify them, it is difficult to select only a few examples, 
and resolutely exclude all others. However, the student who 
becomes permanently acquainted with about thirty -five web- 
footed birds specially chosen to represent these Orders, will 
have a very good foundation on which to build higher, with 
the aid of special books and specimens. 

As heretofore, we will take up the selected examples in the 
order in which it is easiest for the student to receive them the 
highest types first rather than in the very curious sequence 
adopted by the A. O. U., and most technical writers on birds. 

Once a year the grand army of birds of the Order Anse- 
res take wing, and sweep northward from the tropics and 
subtropics. Many halt in the temperate zone, where food 
is abundant, but many more press on to the arctic circle, and 
far beyond it. Wherever they pause for the summer, they 
nest and rear their young; and many pages might be filled with 
descriptions of the different kinds of nesting-sites and nests. 

One would naturally suppose that in any civilized coun- 
try birds in flight to their breeding grounds, or in occupancy 
of them, would be immune from the attacks of gunners. 
The need for absolute protection for birds while they are 
breeding, or about to breed, is so imperative that it is difficult 
to see how any sensible and honest person can oppose the 
enforcement of laws to provide it. The killing of wild fowl 
in spring, or at any time during their breeding season, should 
everywhere be made a penal offence. 

During the autumn migration southward, the flocks run a 



WILD FOWL THREATENED WITH EXTINCTION 171 

gauntlet of guns a thousand miles long. Whenever and wher- 
ever a duck or goose alights to rest and feed, the guns begin 
to roar. The more important migration routes, like the 
Atlantic coast and the Mississippi Valley, literally teem with 
roaring guns and flying shot, and to-day the wonder is not 
that the wild fowl have become "so scarce," but rather that 
so many have escaped slaughter! In view of the enormous 
annual output of new gunners, guns and ammunition, noth- 
ing but the strongest kind of public sentiment for bird pro- 
tection, backed by stringent laws, rigidly enforced, can save 
the ducks, geese and swans of North America from becoming 
as extinct as the great auk and the dodo. 

Even prior to 1913 about one-half of the northern states 
of our country prohibited spring shooting by law, but the re- 
maining states selfishly and resolutely refused to reform, or 
to improve their ethics to suit the new conditions. The effect 
of this condition was that the wild fowl so honorably protected 
in spring by some states was ruthlessly and meanly slaughtered 
in spring by the people of the benighted states. 

At last, in 1913, a long-desired measure placing the mi- 
gratory birds under the strong protecting arm of the Federal 
Government was enacted into law. On October 1, 1913, the 
great "federal migratory bird law" went into effect; and one 
of its leading features provided for a complete stoppage of 
the shooting of game birds in spring and late winter, every- 
where in the United States. The demand for this law was 
so overwhelming that it was passed by both houses of Con- 
gress with only a slight show of opposition, and even that was 
based on technical grounds. 




f 



FULVOUS TREE-DUCK. 

Dendrocygna fulva. 




BLACK DUCK. 

Anas obscura. 




GADWALL: GRAY DUCK. 

Chaulelasmus strcpera. 




AMERICAN WIDGEON. 

Mareca americana. 




GREEN-WINGED TEAL. 

Nettion carolinensis. 




SCAUP DUCK. 

Aythya marila. 





RING-NECKED DUCK. 

Aythya collaris. 



BARROW'S GOLDEN-EYE. 

Clangula islandica. 






OLD SQUAW. 

Harelda hyemalis. 




HARLEQUIN DUCK. 

Histrionicus histrionicus. 




V 



SURF SCOTER. 

Oidemia perspicillata. 




AMERICAN SCOTER. 

Oidemia americana. 



174 DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 

North America is or was particularly rich in species 
of birds belonging to the Order Anatidae, and once was richly 
stocked with individuals. Even yet a very interesting rem- 
nant remains. Of the whole assemblage of species, great, 
medium and small, I think the MALLARD DucK 1 is the high- 
est type, and the best average. It is one of the largest ducks; 
it is one of the handsomest; it is strong on the wing, and 
highly intelligent. It is a joy unto the sportsman who finds 
it in its haunts, and a delight to the epicure who finds it upon 
the bill of fare. Sluggish indeed must be the pulse w^hich 
does not beat faster at the sight of a flock of wild Mallards, 
free in its haunts, and ready to leap into the air and speed 
away at the slightest alarm. 

The Mallard is recognizable by its large size, and the 
brilliant metallic-green head and neck and pearl-gray body 
of the male. The female is a very different-looking bird, of a 
modest brown color, streaked with black. There is only one 
thing at all annoying about this bird, and that is its close 
resemblance to our domestic duck; but for this there is a very 
good reason. It is the wild ancestor of all our domestic 
ducks, save one or two varieties. 

The Mallard is found throughout the temperate zone in 
both the Old World and the New, and therefore it is known 
by many names. In England it is called the Stock Duck, be- 
cause it was the original stock from which the domestic duck 
has descended. In North America its range covers prac- 
tically the whole continent down to Panama, and in Asia it 
reaches to India. It breeds persistently throughout the 

1 An'as bos'chas. Average length, 22 inches. 



THE MALLARD, WILD AND IN CAPTIVITY 175 

greater portion of its immense range in the long grass of 
pond margins; in the woods, between the spur roots of trees; 
and on the prairies, beside streams of the smallest size. 

Once while collecting in Montana, late in May, I found a 
tiny water hole, barely ten feet in diameter, hiding in the 
sunken head of a very dry coulee. For miles in every di- 
rection stretched a billowy sea of sage-brush, already shim- 
mering in the heat of early summer. As I dismounted to 
scramble over the edge of the bank for a drink, up rose a 
Mallard Duck from her nest in a thick patch of sage-brush, 
within a yard of my feet. 

The nest was the old, familiar type a basin of grass lined 
with a thick layer of down from the breast of the prospective 
mother, and a bunch of eggs that almost overflowed the boun- 
daries of their resting-place. As I gazed in astonishment at 
this nest and its contents beside an insignificant bit of water 
in a landscape that certainly was not made for ducks, I un- 
derstood how it is that this bird has been able to spread itself 
all around the northern two-thirds of the globe. 

In captivity the Mallard is the best of all ducks, and the 
most persistent and prolific breeder. Put a flock on any pond 
having long grass or timber about it, keep away the rats, 
raccoons, mink, thieves and other vermin, and each female 
will do her utmost to surround herself with a downy flock of 
about fifteen small Mallards, regularly every summer. In 
the Zoological Park several nests have been built within 
twenty -five feet of walks that are in daily use by crowds -of 
visitors, the immunity of their builders being due in each case 
to their wonderful color resemblance to the dead oak-leaves 



176 DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 

which surrounded them, and with which they almost covered 
themselves. 

Under the terms of the now famous "Bayne law," which 
was enacted in New York in 1911 and in Massachusetts in 
1912, the sale of all native wild game is forbidden, except 
Mallard Ducks, black ducks and white-tailed deer, all of 
which can be reared in captivity on a commercial basis, 
killed for market and sold under the official tags of each of 
the states named. The commercial raising of Mallard Ducks 
should in time become an industry of some importance. 

THE BLUE-WINGED TEAL 1 represents with us a group of 
three species which contains the smallest ducks found in North 
America. 

Throughout its home, which embraces the whole United 
States east of the Rockies, and also far north and far south, 
it is so common and also so small it is not highly prized by 
sportsmen, and its worst enemy is the sordid market-hunter. 
Like the other teal, it prefers quiet, inland waters to the wide 
expanses that back up from the sea. 

All the teal are quick risers, and also speedy on the wing; 
but they are rather dull of sense and easy to approach. The 
Blue- Wing is known by the conspicuous white crescent in 
front of and half -encircling the eye, and the bright-blue patch, 
called the " speculum," on its wing. 

THE CINNAMON TEAL 2 is a cinnamon-brown bird of the 
western half of the United States, once common, but rapidly 
diminishing in numbers. This species is very difficult to 

1 Quer-qued'u-la dis'cors. Average length, 15 inches. 

2 Quer-qued'u-la cy-an-op'ter-a. Average length, 16 inches. 



THE GREEN-WINGED TEAL 



177 



keep long in captivity, being very sensitive to all adverse 
influences. 

THE GREEN-WINGED TEAL 1 has a very noticeable crest, 
and a beautiful emerald-green speculum on each wing. It 




BLUE-WINGED TEAL. 

is found scattered over practically the whole of North America, 
from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Barren Grounds 
to Cuba and Honduras. 

THE SHOVELLER, 2 also called the SPOONBILL, is a hand- 
some duck, recognizable by its extremely broad and spoon- 

1 Net'ti-on carolinensis. Average length, 13.50 inches. 

2 Spat'u-la dij-pe-a'ta. Average length, 19 inches. 



178 



DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 



shaped bill the broadest of any American duck. The head 
and neck of the male are either black, or dark metallic-green; 
and the body colors are black, white, blue and green, hand- 
somely disposed. 

The bill of this bird shows the limit of development in 
width, and the comb-like lamellae along the outer edges, 




Male. Female. 

THE SHOVELLER DUCK. 



which are designed for . use in straining minute particles of 
food out of water, are very pronounced. These minute 
plates are set cross-wise at the edges of the mandibles, and 
perform the same function as the plates of hairy baleen, or 
"whalebone," in the mouth of a baleen whale. All the mem- 
bers of the Order Anatidae are provided with lamellated bills, 
as also are the flamingoes. 

This fine duck is a bird of inland waters, and appears to 
dislike salt water. It is found sparingly "pretty much every- 



THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN DUCK 179 

where throughout the northern hemisphere . . . but is not 
common in the eastern states, and breeds from Alaska to 
Texas." Its flight is much like that of a teal, but less swift, 
and in cruising about for good feeding-grounds it is irregular 
and hesitating. 'The body of the Shoveller is not large, and 
its apparent size in the air is made up chiefly of wings and 
head. . . . As a bird for the table, I have held it in very high 
esteem." (D. G. Elliot.) 

In captivity this is a difficult bird to acclimatize and keep 
alive, which for several reasons is to be regretted. The fe- 
males and immature birds are colored very differently from 
the adult and perfect males. The following local names of 
this bird have been recorded by Mr. Elliot in his "Wild Fowl 
of North America": Blue-Winged Shoveller, Red-Breasted 
Shoveller, Spoonbill "Teal," Spoonbilled "Widgeon," Broad- 
Bill, Broady, Swaddle-Bill and Mud Shoveller. 

I regard the PINTAIL, or SpRiGTAiL, 1 as the most beautiful 
duck in America, not even excepting the wood duck. On 
land its outlines are trim, graceful and finely drawn, and on 
the water it makes one think of a finely modelled yacht. In 
beauty of form it far surpasses all other American ducks; 
and nowhere among wild fowl is there to be found a more 
charming color scheme than in the plumage of the drake. 
It is a harmony of delicate drabs, grays and white used to 
set off several pleasing shades of brown, black and iridescent 
green. None of the colors are gaudy or cheap-looking, and 
as a whole the combination of form and colors produces a 
bird that is in every way an exquisite creature. 

1 Daf'i-la a-cu'ta. Average length of male, 27 inches; female, 22 inches. 



180 DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 

It is in recognition of its beauty that this duck is some- 
times called the Water Pheasant. Its correct name, however, 
has been bestowed in honor of its seven-inch-long, finely 
pointed tail. 

This bird ranges over nearly the whole of North America, 
but its favorite breeding-grounds are in the subarctic regions, 
particularly in the Yukon Valley, and in the lake regions of 
the Canadian Barren Grounds. It is equally at home on the 
fresh- water lakes and rivers of the interior and the salt- 
water inlets and channels of the Atlantic coast. The annual 
migration southward before the advance of snow and ice begins 
in September. On our Atlantic coast many .of the flocks 
winter in the labyrinth of sounds, bays and channels that 
fringe the coast of Virginia and the Carolinas. 

During recent years, quite a number of these birds have 
been caught alive near Water Lily, North Carolina, which is 
a locality famous for its wild ducks, geese and swans. 

Fortunately the Pintail is easily acclimatized, and al- 
though not a good breeder, like the mallard, it does well in 
captivity, and is truly a thing of beauty, and a joy as long as 
it lives. 

The beauty of the WOOD DUCK, or SUMMER DucK, 1 de- 
pends almost wholly upon its brilliantly colored plumage; 
for its form is quite commonplace. It may be wrong to make 
a cold-blooded analysis of its points, but for beauty of form 
the neck of this bird is too small and too short, its head is too 
large, and its body is very ordinary. Its plumage, however, 
presents a color scheme of brilliant reds, greens, blacks, 

1 Aix sporisa. Average length of male, 19 inches. 



BEAUTY OF THE WOOD DUCK 



183 



browns, yellows and whites which is quite bewildering. Even 
its weak little bill is colored scarlet and white, and its iris is 
bright red. 

In my opinion the claims of the two duck species which 
are rivals for the prize for web-footed beauty may fairly be 
expressed by the following proportion: 




WOOD DUCK. 

Male and Female. 

The Pintail is to the Wood Duck as a well-gowned Amer- 
ican woman is to a Chinese mandarin. 

The Wood Duck needs no description. Among ducks it 
is equalled in gorgeous colors only by its nearest relative the 
mandarin duck of China a painted harlequin. Our species 
is a tree duck, and not only perches on trees, but also makes its 
nest in them, and rears its young at an elevation of from ten 



184 DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 

to thirty or forty feet. If it be possible, the nesting-site is al- 
ways above water, in order that if the ducklings finally 
scramble out of the nest and fall, they will alight in the water 
without injury, and quickly learn to swim. 

In captivity the best nesting arrangement for this bird 
consists of a long, narrow box set on end on a stout post, w^ell 
out in a pond, roofed over to keep out the rain. There must 
be a hole in one side, near the top, and a slanting board with 
cross slats reaching up to it from the water, for use as a ladder. 
The Wood Duck will sometimes nest on the ground, either in 
captivity or out. This species is being bred in captivity in 
England in large numbers, and also with some success in this 
country. Duck fanciers find no difficulty in purchasing live 
specimens of this interesting bird at $15 per pair, or less. 

During the summer of 19Q2, a pair of wild Wood Ducks 
made daily visits to the Ducks' Aviary in the New York 
Zoological Park, and in the autumn of that year a small flock 
settled with the Wood Ducks, mallards and pintails on the 
Wild-fowl Pond, and remained there permanently. In the 
spring of 1903, a fine drake manifested a fixed determination 
to break into the great Flying Cage, and become a member 
of the happy family within. After he had flown around the 
cage two or three times, the keeper opened wide the wire 
gates at the north end, and drove him in, where he thank- 
fully settled down, secure from the attacks of gunners, and 
certain of his food supply. 

The Wood Duck is a bird of great discernment. 

Although this bird is called the Summer Duck, and mi- 
grates far in advance of winter, it winters very comfortably 



THE REDHEAD DUCK 185 

in the northern states wherever it is fed, and continuously 
provided with open water to keep its feet from freezing. 
The natural range of this species is from Hudson Bay to the 
Gulf of Mexico, chiefly on fresh water; but often it is found on 
brackish sounds and channels along the Atlantic coast where 
food is plentiful. Thanks to the nation-wide protection now 
afforded this species by the federal migratory bird law, pro- 
tecting it everywhere throughout the United States, this 
beautiful bird will in many localities breed back again, and 
return to us. 

Like all other wild ducks that are imperatively needed to 
keep the American people from starving, there remains to- 
day about one Wood Duck where formerly there were from 
thirty to fifty. Apparently, the only winged creatures that 
are too beautiful or too good to be shot and eaten are angels; 
but I doubt if even a white-winged seraph with webbed feet 
would be safe for half an hour anywhere between Cape Cod 
and Charleston during the autumn open season. 

THE REDHEAD DucK 1 is one of our largest and best species, 
and one of the most satisfactory to keep in captivity. It 
belongs to the same genus as the canvas-back, and in size, 
habits, table value and beauty it is in no sense whatever in- 
ferior to its more fanlous relative. When shot in the same 
locality, I think there is no one who could distinguish the two 
species by a difference in the flavor of their flesh. 

In the color of their plumage the Redhead and canvas- 
back look so much alike that the casual observer might easily 
mistake one species for the other. Both have heads and necks 

1 Ay -thy 'a americana. Average length, 19 inches. 



186 



DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 



of solid rusty brown, but the head-color of the Redhead is 
the more intense and conspicuous. 

The head of the Redhead has a high and well-rounded 
forehead and crown, while that of the canvas-back is wedge- 
shaped, the forehead forming a straight line with the top of the 
bill. The Redhead has a short bill with a blue band across 

it; the other species has 
a long bill with no band. 
The Redhead (like 
the canvas-back) feeds 
chiefly upon aquatic 
plants, like wild rice 
and potomogeton, but 
its favorite food is the 
vallisneria, a kind of 
trailing water-weed 
which grows in many 
of the inlets along the 
Atlantic coast. 

Through countless generations of diving after food plants, 
the Redhead has become a deep diver. It is accustomed to 
seeking its food in mid-stream of deep rivers, and in the open 
water of lakes and sounds, where many other ducks would be 
quite unable to reach the bottom. Reliable lake fishermen 
at Lakeside, Orleans County, New York, have informed me 
that they have taken drowned Redhead Ducks from nets 
that had been set on the bottom of Lake Ontario, at a depth 
of ninety feet, where the Ducks could not possibly have be- 
come entangled save in going to the bottom for food. It 




THE REDHEAD DUCK. 



THE CANVAS-BACK DUCK 187 

also appeared that those Ducks sought their food and became 
entangled only at night. It takes a bold and energetic bird 
to feed successfully at night in ninety feet of water! 

Naturally, this fine bird has ever been a prime favorite 
with sportsmen and "market shooters," and during the past 
thirty years its numbers have diminished to about one- 
fiftieth of what they were prior to 1885. It is as easily de- 
ceived by decoys as green hunters are; and in preparing to 
alight the Redhead flock has a fatal habit of coming together 
in a manner called "bunching," which is as deadly to the birds 
as "close formation" is to soldiers in a modern battle. 

Much more might be noted regarding this interesting 
bird, which must be left to the special works on birds. For 
many reasons it is very desirable that the Redhead should be 
semi-domesticated, and by protection and breeding in cap- 
tivity saved from the final blotting out which otherwise may 
be its fate. While it does not breed in captivity as bravely 
as the mallard, it can be taught to do so, and the price at which 
living birds can be procured ($5 each) is so very moderate 
that experiments with it are not costly. 

The distribution of this bird is given as "North America, 
breeding from California, southern Michigan and Maine 
northward"; but in North America there are to-day more 
lands and waters without this duck than with it. In addition 
to its best and most appropriate name it is also called Raft 
Duck, and American Pochard. 

THE CANVAS-BACK DucK 1 had the misfortune, early in 
its history, to attract the evil eye of the deadly epicure, 

1 Ay-thy'a val-lis-ne'ri-a. Average length, 22 inches. 



188 DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 

whose look of approval is a blighting curse to every living 
creature upon which it is bestowed. Because of this, the 
unfortunate Canvas-Back is now little more than a bird of 
history. It is now rarely seen outside of museums and 
.the zoological parks and gardens which have been so fortu- 
nate as to secure a very 
few specimens. Unfor- 
tunately, it has been im- 
possible for even the most 
energetic duck-fanciers to 
secure a sufficient num- 
ber of unwounded speci- 
mens to carry out the ex- 
periments necessary to 
determine the precise 
conditions under which 
this species will breed in 

THE CANVAS-BACK DUCK. . . 

captivity. No one ever 

sees more than two or three living Canvas-Backs together 
in an aviary, and thus far, I believe, none have bred. 

It is unnecessary to describe this species, for it is probable 
that less than one per cent of the readers hereof ever will see 
one wild and unlabelled. Its range was once the same as that 
of the redhead, and its habits also were quite similar. Its one 
chance of survival rests upon the integrity of the federal migra-r 
tory bird law and its protection from spring and market shoot- 
ing. If those two evils are stopped for all time, the succulent 
Canvas-Back will eventually return to us in large numbers; 
and already there are signs that it is trying hard to do so. 




THE BUTTER-BALL 189 

THE BUFFLE-HEAD DUCK, or BUTTER-BALL,' is a small, 
tree-nesting duck, so pretty and so very odd-looking that 
when seen every one wishes to know its name; and when 
named, it is not soon forgotten. When you see a short- 
bodied, plump-looking little duck, black above arid white 
below r , with a head that is a great round mass of soft feathers, 




THE BUFFLE-HEAD, OR BUTTER-BALL. 

half snow white, and half a rich metallic mixture of purple, 
violet and green that is a Butter-Ball, and nothing else. 
Wherever seen, it commands instant attention. 

Unfortunately, this picturesque little creature does not 
like our country as a summer residence, for it breeds from 
Maine, Iowa and British Columbia, northward, and returns 
to us only when snapping cold weather heralds the approach 
of winter. On the water it is the most nervous and watch- 

1 Char-i-ton-et'ta al-be-o'la. Average length, 14.50 inches. 



190 DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 

ful duck that I know, and its habit of constantly turning from 
side to side is certainly in the interest of self-preservation. 
But after all, what is the alertness of any duck against the 
deadly, cold calculation of the greedy "market shooter" with 
a "pump" gun? 

The Buffle-Head is one of the ducks that is rarely seen in 
captivity. A specimen that is so seriously wounded that it 
can be caught, usually dies a few days later. So far as I know, 
it has not yet been induced to breed in captivity; but that is 
no reason for believing that it never will. We hold that if 
conditions are made satisfactory, any wild species will breed 
in captivity. Usually it is a question of sufficient seclusion 
and immunity from disturbance. The range of this bird is 
said to include all North America, from the Arctic Ocean to 
Cuba. And so it does; all save those localities wherein it 
does not occur. I have strong hope that the spring pro- 
tection of this species by the migratory bird law will cause it 
to breed in the middle zone of the United States. 

THE HARLEQUIN DucK 1 is most fantastically marked. 
The -prevailing colors of the male are dark blue, blue-black 
and violet, with various white collars, stripes and patches 
that seem to have been laid on with a paint-brush. This bird 
is to be looked for along the Pacific coast above Oregon to 
Japan, and on the Atlantic coast from Newfoundland north- 
ward. It is nowhere common, rather solitary, but frequents 
coastal rivers as well as the sea. As a rarity to be prized, 
one Harlequin is equal to twenty ducks of almost any 
other species in America. It is fairly common in south- 

1 His-tri-orii-cus his-tri-orii-cus. Length, 16 inches. 



AN OBJECT LESSON IN BIRD PROTECTION 



191 



eastern British Columbia, and breeds in the Elk River Game 
Preserve. 

AN OBJECT LESSON IN BIRD PROTECTION. As a fitting 
conclusion to our studies of the ducks of our interior rivers, 
lakes and ponds, we present a remarkable instance of what 
bird protection can accomplish. The picture of the pond 




Reproduced from Recreation magazine. 



A HAVEN OF REFUGE. 

described might well be entitled "An Oasis in the Great 
American Desert of Game Destruction!" By the courtesy of 
Mr. G. O. Shields, we reproduce from Recreation magazine for 
June, 1903, the above illustration, and the following descrip- 
tion by Mr. Charles C. Townsend, which appeared under the 
caption, "A Haven of Refuge": 

One mile north of the little village of Mosca, Colorado, in San 
Luis Valley, lives the family of J. C. Gray. On the Gray ranch there is 
an artesian well which empties into a small pond about 100 feet square. 
This pond is never entirely frozen over and the water emptying therein 
is warm even during the coldest winter. 



192 DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 

Some five years ago Mr. Gray secured a few wild-duck eggs, and 
hatched them under a hen. The little ducks were reared and fed on the 
little pond. The following spring they left the place, to return in the 
fall, bringing with them broods of young; also bringing other ducks to 
the home where protection was afforded them and plenty of good feed 
was provided. Each year since, the ducks have scattered in the spring 
to mate and rear their families, returning again with greatly increased 
numbers in the fall, and again bringing strangers to the haven of refuge. 

I drove out to the ranch November 24, 1902, and found the little 
pond almost black with the birds, and was fortunate enough to secure a 
picture of a part of the pond while the ducks were thickly gathered there- 
on. Ice had formed around the edges, and this ice was covered with ducks. 
The water was also alive with others, which paid not the least attention 
to the party of strangers on the shore. 

From Mr. Gray I learned that there were some 600 ducks of various 
kinds on the pond at that time, though it was then early for them to seek 
winter quarters. Later in the year, he assured me, there would be be- 
tween 2,000 and 3,000 teal, mallards, canvas-backs, redheads and other 
varieties, all perfectly at home and fearless of danger. The family have 
habitually approached the pond from the house, which stands on the south 
side, and should any person appear on the north side of the pond the ducks 
immediately take fright and flight. Wheat was strewn on the ground and 
in the water, and the ducks waddled around us within a few inches of our 
feet to feed, paying not the least attention to us, or to the old house dog 
which walked near. 

Six miles east of the ranch is San Luis Lake, to which these ducks 
travel almost daily while the lake is open. When they are at the lake it is 
impossible to approach within gunshot of the then timid birds. Some un- 
sympathetic boys and men have learned the habit of the birds, and place 
themselves in hiding along the course of flight to and from the lake. Many 
ducks are shot in this way, but woe to the person caught firing a gun on 
or near the home pond. When away from home, the birds are as wild as 
other wild ducks and fail to recognize any members of the Gray family. 
While at home they follow the boys around the barn-yard, squawking for 
feed like so many tame ducks. 

This is the greatest sight I have ever witnessed, and one that I could 
not believe existed until I had seen it. Certainly it is worth travelling 
many miles to see, and no one, after seeing it, would care to shoot birds 
that, when kindly treated, make such charming pets. 

THE GROUP OF EIDER DUCKS. The arctic and subarctic 
regions contain a group of about seven species of large sea- 



THE GROUP OF EIDER DUCKS 193 

ducks, called eiders (i'ders). The representative species are 
distinguished by their flat foreheads and wedge-shaped heads; 
by a long, wedge-shaped point of the cheek-feathers which 
extends forward and divides the base of the upper mandible; 
and by the possession of more or less bright-green color on 
the head. 

On land the Eiders are heavy and clumsy birds, but on 
the sea they are at home, and dive with great ability. The 
females line their nests very liberally with down from their 
own breasts, and this when gathered and utilized becomes 
the well-known "eider-down" of commerce. Unfortunately, 
the natives of arctic America are unable to make use of eider- 
down, save on the skin, and this leads to the slaughter of 
great numbers of the birds. 

Eiders nest on the tops of rocky islets, using sea-weed or 
grass for a foundation, and covering this with down plucked 
from their own breasts. So abundantly is the nest lined 
that by the time the eggs are all deposited they are fairly 
embedded in the softest of beds. In Iceland the eider 
ducks are half domesticated. The inhabitants collect the 
down from the nests for sale, and therefore they are much 
interested in preserving the birds. Nesting-places are made 
for the birds by building thick stone walls with spacious 
crevices along each side, at the base, or by scooping out shal- 
low cavities in the hard earth. The Eiders permit their human 
friends to go among them, and even to handle their eggs. 

On the Atlantic coast, from Labrador to Delaware, in 
winter we have the AMERICAN EiDER, 1 which appears to be the 

1 So-ma-te'ri-a dres'ser-i. Length, about 23 inches. 



194 



DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 



best type for the Eider Group. Fortunately for our chances 
of close acquaintance with it, this species occasionally pene- 
trates westward along the great lakes to Illinois and Wisconsin 
a very unusual proceeding for a sea duck. Any bird which 




AMERICAN EIDER. 

will go so far out of its natural range in order to become ac- 
quainted with interocean Americans surely is worth knowing. 
Moreover, the Eider Duck of the Old World so closely re- 
sembles this bird in all essential details that to know one 
species is to know the other also. 

The colors of this bird are black and white, as shown in 
the illustration, except that the nape and the rear portion of 
the region around the ear are sea-green, and the tail and 



THE WHITE- WINGED SCOTER 195 

the primaries are pale brown. The bill and feet are olive- 
green. 

THE SPECTACLED EIDER/ of northwestern Alaska, is a 
bird easily remembered by its name, and the large, white spot 
around each eye which at once suggests a pair of spectacles. 
This bird is limited to our arctic territory, and is said, by 
Mr. E. W. Nelson, to be threatened with extinction by man 
at no very distant day. Our occupation of Alaska, after the 
Russians, has led to the arming of the natives with modern 
rifles and shotguns, before which wild life generally is rapidly 
being swept out of existence. 

THE WHITE-WINGED ScoTER 2 (sko'ter) quite acceptably 
represents a group of sea ducks and deep divers, called scoters, 
and of which there are three species resident in North Amer- 
ica. These are the blackest of all our ducks. The species 
known as the AMERICAN SCOTER is glossy black throughout, 
without a single patch of color save the bright orange-yellow 
which colors the basal half of the bill and its knob. 

The White-Winged species has a white patch on each 
wing, technically known as a "speculum," and a white patch 
of variable shape under or in rear of the eye. Above and 
in rear of the nostrils the bill and skull together are raised 
into a conspicuous hump, half covered by feathers. 

Like all the scoters, this bird is a fish-eating duck, and its 
flesh is so fishy in flavor it is not considered fit for the table. 
It is widely distributed throughout North America down to 
southern California, northern Missouri, Illinois and Mary- 

1 Arc-ton-et'tafisch'er-i. Length, about 21 inches. 

2 Oi-de'mi-a deg-land'i. Average length, 21 inches. 



196 DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 

land. Like most of our ducks, it breeds in the Far North, 
and returns to us only for the winter. It is a deep and per- 
sistent diver, and it is said that when wounded and pursued 
it will sometimes dive to the bottom, even fifty feet if neces- 
sary, seize a bunch of grass or weeds with its bill and hold on 
until it has quite drowned. Its food consists of fish, crus- 
taceans and mollusks. 

THE RED-BREASTED MERGANSER 1 bravely and hand- 
somely represents what is structurally the lowest group of 
ducks, known as the Mer-gan'sers, embracing three species. 
The bill of this bird is long, narrow and set along the edges 
with lamellae that look quite like sharp teeth a most ad- 
mirable arrangement for seizing fish under water. The bill 
of a Merganser always reminds me of two things: the jaws of 
the gavial, or Gangetic crocodile, and Professor Marsh's 
toothed bird, the Hes-per-or'nis, from the great extinct in- 
land sea of the middle West. One of the common names of 
this bird is the Saw-Bill; and it is peculiarly appropriate. 
Among other ducks this fine bird has the bold, confident air 
of a born freebooter. The back of its head is ornamented 
with several long feathers which form a crest, like the war- 
bonnet of a Sioux Indian. The whole head and upper neck 
are black, with green and purple reflections. Around the 
middle of the neck is a conspicuous white collar, and under 
that is the pale rusty-red breast, streaked with black, which 
gives the bird its name. 

This sea-going bird-craft is at home under many names 
in both the Old World and the New. On our continent it 

1 Mer-gan'ser ser-ra'tor. Average length, 22 inches. 



THE TWO MERGANSERS 199 

breeds from our northern states as far as the Aleutian Islands 
and western Alaska, where the Aleuts prize it for food above 
all other ducks. In winter it migrates along our two ocean 
coasts to southern California and Florida. It feeds entirely 
on fish, a.nd the flavor of its flesh is rank and disagreeable. 

Nearly all sportsmen admire this duck, and it is much 
to be regretted that it is so shy and nervous, and difficult to 
keep alive in captivity. A fine specimen which we cherished 
for a time in the Flying Cage of the New York Zoological 
Park, along with many other water-birds of good size, at 
first seemed inclined to accept the situation, and become ac- 
climatized; but it lived only two months. With several Mer- 
gansers together, the result might be more satisfactory. 

THE HOODED MERGANSER 1 is distinctly marked by a 
striking, black-and-white semicircular crest of great height, 
standing stiffly erect, and jaunty beyond compare among 
water-fowl. By that crest and the slender Merganser bill 
any one may know this bird out of ten thousand species, 
whether seen in New York or New Zealand. It ranges all 
over North America, wherever there is water enough to float 
it, down to Mexico and Cuba, and as a result it has been 
burdened with an appalling collection of names. It nests 
in hollow trees, near good fishing-grounds, and whenever it 
makes its summer camp near a trout stream, the fry fare 
badly. 

THE GEESE. Those who have not looked into the sub- 
ject usually are surprised to find what a fine collection of 
geese is found in North America. The continent is so large 

1 Lo-phod'y-tes cu-cul-la'tus. Average length, 17 inches. 



200 DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 

it requires an effort to come in touch with representatives 
of all the species of wild geese which inhabit it. While they 
are somewhat lacking in the fine coloring that characterizes a 
few foreign species, such as the spur-winged goose of Africa, 
they form, as a whole, a highly interesting group, well worth 
the acquaintance of all Americans save the market hunters, 
and others who shoot not wisely but too well. 

Fortunately for those who live where wild geese dare not 
show themselves for fear of being killed, all these species take 
kindly to captivity, and are easily kept in parks and zoological 
gardens. In 1914 five species were living quite contentedly 
in the New York Zoological Park. 

In writing of geese, we would not think of mentioning 
any species ahead of our old favorite and most faithful friend, 
the CANADA GoosE. 1 Where is the country dweller w T ho has 
not heard, far aloft, the well-known trumpet "Honk," and 
the prompt answers all down the two lines as the V-shaped 
flock winged swiftly forward? In the raw, windy days at 
winter's end, from the Gulf to Hudson Bay, the old gander's 
cry is accepted as a guarantee of spring, and hailed with joy. 
Dull, indeed, is the mind that is not moved to wonder and 
admiration by the remarkable V-formation in which the wild- 
goose flock cleaves the air. 

Although wild geese in transit through the Mississippi 
Valley frequently alighted in corn-fields to rest and feed, as a 
rule they were so wary and wide-awake it was next to impos- 
sible to bag one. In Minnesota and the Dakotas, however, 

1 Bran'ta canadensis. Average length, about 35 inches; but individuals vary 
greatly in size. 





KING EIDER. 

Somateria speclabilis. 



SPECTACLED EIDER. 

Arctonetta fischeri. 





STELLER'S DUCK. 

Eniconetta stellcri. 



RUDDY DUCK. 

Erismalura jamaiccnsis. 





AMERICAN MERGANSER. 

Merganser amcricanus. 



HOODED MERGANSER. 

Lophodytes cucullalus 



202 DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 

they often flocked on the ground in such numbers that goose- 
shooting was as regular a sport as chicken-shooting, and 
during a brief period of slaughter yielded weighty results. 
Thousands of geese alighting in corn-fields to feed have been 
shot from the interior of innocent-looking corn-shocks. 

The Canada Goose is not only the largest of the wild 
geese of North America, but also the most important and valu- 
able member of the group. There are times, also, when it 
seems to be the most savory bird that finds its way to the 
platter. One of those times was when a flock alighted near 
our camp, on the ice of the Musselshell, in Montana, the 
day before a certain whizzing cold Thanksgiving, and a fat 
young gander was shot, and beautifully roasted over the camp- 
fire in a large Dutch oven. 

In captivity the Canada Goose is an all-around philos- 
opher; and even when wild, he often knows a good thing when 
be sees it. In October, 1901, a flock of nine geese flying south- 
ward over the New York Zoological Park suddenly espied 
our flock of the same species on the wild-fowl pond. Without 
a moment's hesitation, the wild birds sailed down and alighted 
on the shore beside their relatives, and invited themselves 
to the banquet of cracked corn. 

On the following day Mr. H. R. Mitchell coaxed seven 
of the visitors into a huge wire cage that was set up on the 
shore, where they were caught and wing-clipped to prevent 
further wandering into danger. The seven remained with us; 
but the two undipped birds, after remaining all winter, flew 
away north the following spring, and it is quite likely that 
their bad judgment has ere now cost them their lives. 



THE CANADA GOOSE 203 

Apparently all the North American geese are almost as 
easy to keep in captivity as domestic geese. Their favorite 
food is cracked corn and whole wheat, but they will eat al- 
most any kind of grain. In winter they require low shelter 
coops, open toward the south; and a small portion of their 




CANADA GOOSE. 



pond must be kept open all winter, by frequently removing 
the ice, to keep their feet from freezing. Not all these birds, 
however, care to seek shelter in a humble coop. 

The Canada Goose is known by its large size and its jet- 
black head and neck, with a conspicuous white crescent en- 
circling the throat. The black on the neck ends abruptly 
where the neck joins the body, and the general tone of the 



204 DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 

latter is gray -brown. Its neck is longer, and also more slen- 
der, as a rule, than those of other wild geese. 

This fine bird winters in Texas, along the Gulf of Mexico, 
and in the sounds and bays of Virginia and the Carolinas, 
and goes north early in spring. Its nesting-grounds begin 
in our northern tier of states, and extend northward to 
Labrador, the Barren Grounds and Alaska. Throughout 
much of that vast area, the shotguns and rifles are ever ready, 
and the number of geese that still survive are eloquent testi- 
mony to the wariness, the keenness of vision and the good 
judgment of this much-prized bird. A bird of equal desir- 
ability, but with a dull brain and poor vision, would have 
been exterminated long ago. 

One of the most interesting things about the Canada 
Goose is the energy and courage of the male in defending 
the female on her nest. Recently two of our geese paired 
off as usual, and built a nest on the south bank of the wild- 
fowl pond, in a very exposed situation. From that time until 
the young were hatched, the gander never once wandered 
from his post. It was his rule never to go more than sixty 
feet from the nest, and whenever any one approached it, he 
immediately hastened to intercept the intruder, hissing and 
threatening with his wings in a most truculent manner. Had 
any one persisted in disturbing the female, he would willingly, 
and even cheerfully, have shed his blood in her defence. 
His unswerving devotion to his duty attracted the admiring 
attention of thousands of visitors, and the proudest day of 
his life was when the first live gosling was led to the water, 
and launched with appropriate ceremonies. 



THE BLACK BRANT 205 

There are three subspecies of the Canada Goose, all smaller, 
but otherwise very similar. The WniTErCnEEKED GOOSE 
inhabits the Pacific coast, north to Sitka; and the CACKLING 
GOOSE is found in the same region, and on up to the Yukon. 
HUTCHIN'S GOOSE is merely a small edition of the Canada. 

THE BLACK BRANT 1 is a very distinct bird, noticeably 
smaller than the Canada goose, and readily recognized by 
its blackness and its small size. Its head, neck and breast 
are entirely black, save for a white collar going two-thirds 
of the way around the upper neck. The black of the neck 
does not end abruptly at the shoulders, but spreads back 
over the back and under-parts until the final effect is that of 
a bird which is two-thirds black. 

Although this bird is generally accounted rare on the 
Atlantic coast, the New York Zoological Society has secured 
many fine living specimens from Currituck Sound, on the 
coast of North Carolina. Beyond doubt, however, it is rare 
everywhere in the eastern United States. It is remarkable 
for the fact that it migrates northward not only to the deso- 
late shores of the Arctic Ocean, but far beyond, and must 
nest and rear its young far out on the great polar ice-pack. 

THE BRANT GoosE 2 is quite a different species from the 
preceding. The black of its neck ends abruptly at the shoul- 
ders, and the white collar is a mere broken patch, without 
decided character. The body is everywhere much lighter 
than the color of the black brant, with which this species is 
often confounded, because the two are often found together, 

1 Bran'ta ni'gri-cans. Average length, about 24 inches. 

2 Bran'ta ber'ni-cla. 



206 DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 

though not on the Pacific coast. Once the Brant Goose was 
plentiful along the Atlantic side, but it is now rare, and fast 
disappearing. 

THE AMERICAN WHITE-FRONTED GoosE 1 is, in my opinion, 
the most handsomely colored goose we possess. Contrary 
to expectations that are often based upon its name, it has not 
a white breast, nor white shoulders. It white "front" is 
limited to an inch-wide frill of white immediately surrounding 
the base of its bill. 

Other than this the head and the neck are dark brown, 
and the back, sides, breast and abdomen are covered with 
a scale-like arrangement of feathers that are various shades 
of brown or black, strongly edged with white or gray. The 
effect of the white edges of the feathers is to bring out in 
strong relief the immaculate arrangement of the plumage, 
and as a whole the bird is decidedly beautiful. 

This fine bird is even yet abundant on the Pacific coast, 
from southern California to Alaska, where it crosses over to 
the Asiatic side. It appears that Alaska is its favorite nest- 
ing-ground. On the Atlantic coast it is no longer seen. The 
specimens living in the Zoological Park were taken in southern 
Texas, on the Rio Grande, where the species is yet a winter 
visitant. 

THE SNOW GoosE 2 is, excepting its large wing-feathers 
(the primaries), an all-white bird. Based on the tape line, 
two species have been described and recognized by orni- 
thologists, the "Greater" Snow Goose and the "Lesser." If 

1 An'ser al'bi-frons gam'bel-i. Average length, 28 inches. 

2 Chen hy-per-bo're-a. Average length, about 30 inches. 



THE TRUMPTER SWAN 207 

the specimen under the tape is a large one, it is the former 
species; but if it is smaller than the average, it is booked as 
the "Lesser." Obviously, the wisest course is to discard both 
adjectives of size, and recognize the Snow Goose only, be it 
more or less. 

This easily recognized bird, like the majority of our other 
wild geese and ducks, wanders over almost the whole of the 
well-watered portion of North America down to Cuba and 
Mexico; but where the guns of civilization are most numerous 
it is now a rare and lonesome bird. To-day it is more abun- 
dant or, it were better to say, less scarce in the Mississippi 
Valley, Texas, and the Pacific states than elsewhere. Where 
they were permitted to do so, these birds often assembled in 
large flocks, and often made themselves conspicuous around 
the prairie ponds of the Dakotas and Minnesota. When 
you are travelling over the Northern Pacific Railway, or the 
Great Northern, and see on the smooth prairie a flock of 
rather large white birds, it is safe to declare that they are 
Snow Geese. 

THE SWANS. Last of the Order of Ducks, and farthest 
from the type of the Order, are the Swans. Although two 
species are recognized, the difference between them is not 
always visible to the naked eye. 

THE TRUMPETER SwAN 1 is one of our largest birds, and 
considering its great size it is strange that it has not been 
exterminated ere this. Its existence speaks highly for its 
wariness. Formerly specimens were purchasable at from $20 

1 O'lor buc-cin-a'tor. Length, 4 feet 8 inches; height, when standing erect, 3 
feet 9 inches; expanse of wings, 7 feet 10 inches; weight, 22 pounds. 



208 DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 

to $30 each, and the majority of them came from Texas 
and the plains region. To my mind, this is the least attract- 
ive of all the large swimming birds, and it certainly is 
one of the most pugnacious and quarrelsome. In captivity 
Trumpeter Swans always wish to do the wrong thing. Even 
when policy demands that they at least appear friendly, they 
are always truculently hissing at and threatening their human 
neighbors, friends as well as enemies. This Swan's voice is 
like a short blast on a French horn, but when a large flock 
rises from a pond in a wilderness, and gets fairly under way, 
the chorus given forth on such occasions I know to be thrill- 
ingly musical. 

With birds smaller than themselves, Swans often are so 
quarrelsome and murderous they require to be separated, 
and yarded by themselves. 

On level ground the Swan is the most ungainly of all the 
American members of the Order of Ducks; and even afloat 
its bows lie much too deep in the water. 

The central line of migration and distribution of this 
species is the western boundary of the states forming the 
western bank of the Mississippi. It breeds from Iowa north- 
ward to the Barren Grounds, and in the United States strag- 
gles eastward and westward to both shores of the continent. 
I have seen specimens taken in 1885 in the Potomac River, 
and it has often been observed near Los Angeles, southern 
California. 

For at least ten years we have regarded the Trumpeter 
Swan as one of the next candidates for oblivion, through 
gunner's extermination, and have cherished accordingly two 



THE "SONG OF THE DYING SWAN" 

fine specimens that we acquired in 1900. Seven years ago 
this species was regarded as so nearly extinct that a doubting 
ornithological club of Boston refused to believe, on hearsay 
evidence, in the existence of our specimens. A committee 
was appointed to interview the birds and report its findings. 
Even at that time Trumpeter Swan skins were worth from 
$100 to $150 each; and when swan skins sell at either of those 
figures it is because there are people who believe that the 
species either is on the verge of extinction or has passed it. 
Since that time Dr. L. C. Sanford, of New Haven, has se- 
cured (1910) two other living birds, from the coast of Vir- 
ginia. We have done our utmost to induce our pair to breed 
and rear young, but thus far without success. 

The loss of the Trumpeter Swan from our bird fauna will 
not be so keenly felt as the loss of the whooping crane. Its 
twin species, the Whistling Swan, so closely resembles the 
Trumpeter that only a close observer can detect the differ- 
ence a yellow spot on the side of the former's upper man- 
dible, near its base. The Whistler yet remains in fair numbers, 
and possibly the new federal migratory bird law may save it 
from quick extinction. 

Thus far only one naturalist (so far as we know) ever has 
heard the "Song of the Dying Swan." Mr. D. G. Elliot, in 
"Wild Fowl of North America," records the following inter- 
esting observation: 

Once, when shooting in Currituck Sound, ... a number of Swan 
passed over us at a considerable height. We fired at them, and one splen- 
did bird was mortally hurt. On receiving his wound the wings became 
fixed, and he commenced at once his song, which was continued until the 
water was reached, nearly half a mile away. I am perfectly familiar with 



DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS 

every note a Swan is accustomed to utter, but never before nor since have 
I heard any like those sung by this stricken bird. Most plaintive in char- 
acter, and musical in tone, it sounded at times like the soft running of the 
notes in an octave. 

THE WHISTLING SwAN 1 is accorded rank as a species 
chiefly on the strength of a small yellow patch on the base of 
the bill which is not always present! Young Swans of both 
species are of a dirty -gray color not white; but the plumage 
of the adult bird is perfectly white. The bill and feet are jet 
black. 

1 O'lor co-lum-bi-arius. 



CHAPTER XXXII 
ORDER OF FULLY WEB-FOOTED BIRDS 

STEGANOPODES 

TO recognize a member of this Order, look at its foot, and 
see that the web of the three large toes is also united 
to the fourth, or rear toe. This may seem like a small peg on 
which to hang an Order; but it is a very useful one, neverthe- 
less. As usual, the best and most conspicuous examples 
will be mentioned first. The Families are as follows: 

ORDER STEGANOPODES 

FAMILIES EXAMPLES 

PELICANS Pel-e-can'i-dae Brown Pelican; White Peli- 
can. 

CORMORANTS Phal-a-cro-co-rac'i-dae . . Common Cormorant. 

DARTERS An-hing'i-dae Darter, or Snake-Bird. 

GANNETS Su'li-dae Common Gannet. 

MAN-O'-WAR BIRDS .Fre-gat'i-dae, Frigate Bird. 

TEE PELICAN FAMILY 

Pelecanidae 

THE BROWN PELICAN 1 is known to every tourist who 
knows Florida thoroughly, or southern California. Some- 
how this bird appeals to every one possibly by reason of its 
cheerful confidence in man and for a wonder it has not been 
exterminated. It takes to captivity not only willingly, but 

1 Pel-e-ca'nus fus'cus. Length, 49 inches; spread of wings, 6 feet 9.50 inches. 

213 



214 FULLY WEB-FOOTED BIRDS 

gladly, and its motto is, "All's fish that cometh to net." It 
is an amiable bird, sociable to an unlimited degree, harms no 
one and makes no enemies, save in Texas, where the fish- 
destroying fishermen wish the Pelicans slaughtered because 
they eat fish and can't pick cotton. 

Pelican Island, in Indian River, Brevard County, Florida, 
is the most interesting sight in the land of flowers. On an 
area of about three acres, raised only two or three feet above 
high-water mark, destitute of trees because the Pelicans 
have nested them to death, live about 3,000 Brown Pelicans, 
and each year they make about 1,500 nests. During every 
breeding-season they inhabit that islet, nesting in small nests 
of grass plucked on the spot, and arranged on the ground. 
The few dead mangroves that still stand are loaded with 
stick-made nests to the point of breaking down. 

Egg-laying begins about the 1st of February, and strag- 
gles along until the end of May. By March 15 the breeding- 
grounds contain, in close proximity, unfinished nests and nests 
with fresh eggs (usually three); young just out of the shell; 
half -grown young; and, finally, full-grown young. The latter 
are great hulking babies, as large as their parents, but cov- 
ered all over with down as white as cotton. 

It is no uncommon thing for a young Pelican to have 
from three to five mullet in its neck and crop at one time, as 
we have discovered by catching some of them with a search- 
warrant, and searching their premises. 

To feed these hungry pouches, the old birds fly about 
fifteen miles up the coast to fishing-grounds where silver 
mullet are plentiful and cheap; and there each old bird fills 



HOW PELICANS FISH 

its neck and crop with from six to nine fish, each from seven 
to ten inches in length. At evening, just before sunset, in 
groups of from three to seven they slowly wing their way 
back along the beach, flying low over the saw palmettos that 
fringe the shore. They give about six wing-beats, then sail 
as far as possible, each little company winging in unison. 
Several times I have lain low in the palmettos, to watch their 
flight at a distance of only a few feet as they approached and 
passed over me. 

Truly they are fine birds rich in coloring, remarkably 
odd in form and very well set up. Unfortunately they do 
not acquire their full colors until in their third year. The 
neck of the adult bird is in two colors, rich blackish brown 
and white, and the back is a beautiful silvery gray-brown 
effect, composed of many tints. The top of the head of the 
adult bird is yellow. The bill is a foot long, the pouch is of 
a bluish-purple color, and calls for about four pounds of fish 
daily. 

It is very interesting to watch Pelicans fishing. On calm 
days when the surface of Indian River is like a mirror, the 
eruption of silvery spray that rises high when the big bird 
plunges into the water attracts attention at a distance of 
two or three miles. It is finest, however, to see them fishing 
in the breakers on the ocean side of the Indian River Penin- 
sula, about 200 feet from shore. They sail along so near the 
water it seems a wonder that they do not strike it; but they 
rise over the incoming w r aves, and lower again into the trough 
with the utmost precision, always keenly alert. All of a 
sudden the wings are thrown out of gear, and a fountain of 



218 FULLY WEB-FOOTED BIRDS 

flying spray tells the story of the plunge with open pouch for 
the luckless fish. 

For several years the fate of the great Pelican colony in 
Indian River remained in doubt, and its preservation was due 
more to public sentiment in Brevard County than to the arm 
of the law. In 1903, however, Pelican Island was formally 
declared to be a Government reservation, and placed under 
the absolute control of the Biological Survey, thus insuring 
the permanent protection of its occupants. Among the is- 
lands of the west coast of Florida this Pelican is even now 
(1914) the most conspicuous bird. In 1913 a pair nested in 
the Flying Cage of the New York Zoological Park, and reared 
a fine, new Pelican, and two pairs nested there in the spring 
of 1914. 

THE CALIFORNIA BROWN PELICAN 1 so closely resembles 
the Florida species that the differences between the two are 
not easily recognized. The accompanying illustration is from 
a photograph taken on the Galapagos Islands, directly under 
the Equator; and from that locality this species ranges north- 
ward along the Pacific coast to British Columbia. 

THE GREAT WHITE PELICAN 2 is a grand bird big, clean, 
immaculate, and with the dignity of a newly appointed judge. 
About him there are two bad things. In captivity his ap- 
petite for fresh fish makes him a costly luxury, and his Latin 
name always frightens timid people. 

The curious horn seen in winter and spring atop of the 
bill of this bird is purely a sexual ornament, found only on 

1 Pel-e-ca'nus calif ornicus. 

2 Pel-e-ca'nus er-yth-ro-rhyn'chos. Length, 61 inches; spread of wings, 8 feet 
10 inches; weight, 16.50 pounds. 



THE GREAT WHITE PELICAN 

the male in the breeding-season, after which it drops off. 
It begins to grow about February 15, is perfect by May 1, 
and drops off not later than July 1. 

To-day, as a matter of course, the Great White Pelican 
is a rare bird. On the west coast of Florida it is even yet 




N. Y. Zoological Park. 

GREAT WHITE PELICAN. 

occasionally seen. We saw three at Marco Island, in January, 
1914. It is yet found inland in certain western localities, 
where there are lakes large enough to shelter it and supply it 
with fish, and it is to be hoped that it will be many years 
ere this grand bird is exterminated. Fortunately, a colony 
has become established on an island in Yellowstone Lake, in 



222 FULLY WEB-FOOTED BIRDS 

the Yellowstone Park, where it breeds regularly every sum- 
mer, to the great delight of all tourists who care for the sight 
of what is called a "pelicanery." In winter southern Texas 
is the haven for this bird, as well as for so many other swim- 
ming birds, but the fishermen are determined to secure a law 
providing for its extermination. 

THE CORMORANT FAMILY 

Phalacrocoracidae 

THE CORMORANT 1 is to me a most uninteresting bird. 
Month in and month out I have seen them perching, and 
perching on spar buoys in harbors, on mud-bank stakes, and 
on dead trees alongshore and up-stream. For days together 
have Cormorants fled up-stream before my boat, yet never 
once have I seen a wild Cormorant do an interesting thing. 
Instead of getting out and hustling for fish, like the pelican, 
or taking delight in architecture, like the osprey, the Cor- 
morant tiresomely perches, and waits, Micawber-like, for 
something to turn up. 

In captivity it does better. In our Flying-Cage pool, the 
Cormorants play with sticks, and dive for amusement, more 
than any other bird, except the brown pelican. In fact, it 
seems like a different creature from the wild bird. 

The "Cormorant is, in general terms, a dull black bird, 
wholly devoid of colored plumage. Its range is given as 
"coasts of the North Atlantic, south in winter on the coast of 
the United States, casually, to the Carolinas." It lives upon 
fish, and wanders inland much farther than might be supposed. 

1 Phal-a-cro-co'rax car'bo. Average length, 34 inches. 




THE CORMORANT. 



THE DARTER FAMILY 

THE DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT* is a bird of the 
interior of the United States, from Texas northward into 
Manitoba, but also ranging to the Atlantic coast. Its color 
is glossy black. On the Pacific coast, from Washington to 
Alaska, is found the PELAGIC CORMORANT^ with an erect 
crest rising from its forehead, and by which this bird is easily 
recognized. 

PALLAS'S CORMORANT, which once inhabited the northern 
shore of Bering Sea, was the largest and handsomest bird of 
this Family. Its prevailing color was dark metallic-green, 
set off with blue and purple reflections. It was discovered by 
Bering in 1741, but is now quite extinct. 

THE DARTER FAMILY 

Anhingidae 

THE SNAKE-BIRD, DARTER, or WATER-' ' TURKEY," 3 is a 
web-footed bird, with many peculiarities. Its most popu- 
lar name Snake-Bird has been bestowed in recognition of 
the fact that in this bird the neck and head are so long and 
slender they suggest the body and head of a snake. When 
not in action the head and upper neck are only an inch in 
diameter, yet so rubber-like is the skin that I have seen a 
Darter swallow a mullet 8 inches long, and 1J^ inches in 
diameter a truly snake-like stretch. Frequently when the 
head of a fish is in this bird's crop, the tail fin will protrude 
from a corner of the mouth. 

The beak is like a Spanish dagger, and at all times it is 

1 P. di-lo'phus. 2 p pe-lag'i-cus. 

3 An-hiriga an-hin'ga. Average length, 33 inches. 



FULLY WEB-FOOTED BIRDS 

decidedly a dangerous weapon. One well-aimed stroke is 
enough to stab any ordinary bird to death, or destroy an eye. 
In a cageful of Darters the presence of a quarrelsome bird is 
usually made known by the dead body of a cagemate that has 
been foully murdered. 

In its home the habits of the Snake-Bird interested me 
greatly. Almost invariably it perches on a dead tree, or a 
branch which overhangs water, preferably a small running 
stream. Its neighbors are the two white egrets, the Louisi- 
ana and little blue herons, and an occasional black vulture. 
Seldom indeed is one of these birds found swimming in the 
water, but Mr. C. E. Jackson once very dexterously speared 
one from his boat, as it was diving under him. 

When your boat approaches a Snake-Bird and crosses his 
danger-line, the bird slides off its perch, falls straight down, 
and sinks out of sight. It goes down head erect, and "all 
standing," as if weighted with a bag of shot. This is the 
queerest of all bird ways in diving. If you halt, and watch 
sharply for the bird to reappear at the surface, for three or 
four minutes you will see nothing. 

At the end of a long wait you will notice a sharp-pointed 
stick, half as long as an adult lead-pencil, sticking up out of 
the water. It looks so queer you watch it sharply. Presently 
you see the point of it turn a few degrees; and then you dis- 
cover a beady black eye watching you. It is one of the neat- 
est hiding-tricks practised by any water-bird I know. 

The Snake-Bird has the power to submerge its body at 
any depth it chooses, and remain for any reasonable length 
of time. It is a very expert diver, and the manner in which 



THE SNAKE-BIRD UNDER WATER 

it can pursue and capture live fish under water is enough to 
strike terror to the hearts of finny folk. The bird swims with 
a sharp kink in its neck, driving forward by powerful strokes 




SNAKE-BIRD. 

of its cup-shaped feet. On overtaking a fish the kink in its 
neck flies straight, and like the stab of a swift dagger the 
finny victim is transfixed. Then the bird rises to the surface 
for it is unable to swallow its food under water tosses the fish 
into the air, catches it head first and in an instant it is gone. 



228 FULLY WEB-FOOTED BIRDS 

In the United States this bird is most at home in the rivers 
and creeks of southern and central Florida, but it is also found 
farther west, along the Gulf. It is abundant in the delta 
of the Orinoco, in the Guianas and farther south. It lives well 
in captivity, and when provided with a large glass tank is 
quite willing to give daily exhibitions in diving after live fish. 
In color the adult male is a glossy-black bird, and so is the 
female, except that her entire neck is light brown. 

THE GANNET FAMILY 

Sulidae 

THE COMMON GANNET* is, in many respects, a bird of 
very striking appearance. It is a goose-like bird, as large as 
a medium-sized goose, and its prevailing colors are white 
and a very beautiful ecru. Its plumage is as smooth and im- 
maculate as the surface of a wooden decoy. It has a slow and 
solemn manner, and has the least suspicion of man of any 
swimming bird I know. Its head, neck and bill are massive, 
the latter especially being long and very thick at the base. 
The total length of this bird when adult is only a trifle under 
three feet. 

Although the Common Gannet is strictly a bird of the 
ocean coasts, and apparently never is seen inland, it is a 
bird of such striking personality it well deserves to be 
introduced in these pages. Any large bird which once ex- 
isted in countless thousands on our coast, and has not yet 
been exterminated, may well be known to every intelligent 
American. 

1 Su'la bas-sa'na. 



HABITS OF THE GANNET 229 

Although the Gannet wanders as far south as Long Is- 
land, its real home is where it breeds. "While there are many 
points along the coast from Maine to Labrador where the 
Gannets might breed, they are found, so far as I have been 
able to ascertain, only at three places, an island in the Bay of 
Fundy, the Bird Rocks near the geographical centre of the 
Gulf of St. Lawrence and Bonaventure Island, at Perce, 
Canada, the colony at Mingan being too small and too nearly 
exterminated to be taken into consideration." (Frederic A. 
Lucas.) 

In 1860 Dr. Bryant estimated the total number of Gan- 
nets on the Bird Rocks at 150,000. 

In 1872 Mr. William Brewster estimated the number then 
living there at 50,000. 

In 1887 Dr. Lucas found not a single Gannet nesting on 
Little Bird Rock, and not over 10,000 on Great Rock. 

Although the Gannets, and other sea-birds, make their 
homes on the most inaccessible spots they can find, there is 
no bird which man cannot reach with a gun, no nest to which 
he cannot climb, or be lowered at the end of a rope. 

Sea-birds everywhere are persecuted by man, either for 
their eggs or for themselves. In their breeding-season the 
Gannets are continually visited by Indians and whites, who 
take their eggs. "Scarce a day passes," says Dr. Lucas, 
"without a visit from fishermen in search of eggs, or murres. 
Many barrels of eggs are gathered during the season, and 
altogether the birds lead a rather precarious existence. There 
is a law regulating the taking of eggs, and if this were ob- 
served, or could be strictly enforced, a large number of eggs 



230 FULLY WEB-FOOTED BIRDS 

could be gathered annually, while at the same time the num- 
ber of birds would steadily increase." 

As will be inferred, the Gannet lives wholly upon fish, 
and is an expert deep-water diver. In his report on his "Ex- 
plorations in Newfoundland and Labrador," Dr. Lucas gives 
the following interesting account: 

While lying at Grindstone Island we first made the acquaintance of 
the Gannets, whose headquarters are at Bird Rocks, and had a good op- 
portunity to watch them fishing. The birds are usually associated in 
small, straggling flocks, and, with outstretched necks, and eyes ever on 
the lookout for fish, they fly at a height of from 75 to 100 feet above the 
water, or occasionally somewhat more. The height at which the Gannet 
flies above the water is proportioned to the depth at which the fish are 
swimming beneath, and Captain Collins tells me that when fish are swim- 
ming near the surface, the Gannet flies very low, and darts obliquely in- 
stead of vertically upon its prey. 

Should any finny game be seen within range, down goes the Gannet 
headlong, the nearly closed wings being used to guide the living arrow 
in its downward flight. Just above the surface, the wings are firmly 
closed, and a small splash of spray shows where the winged fisher cleaves 
the water to transfix his prey. Disappearing for a few seconds, the bird 
reappears, rests for a moment on the water, long enough to swallow his 
catch, then rises in pursuit of other game. The appetite of the Gannet 
is limited only by the capacity of its stomach, and a successful fisher may 
frequently be seen resting on the Water, too heavily laden to rise without 
disgorging a part of its cargo, which it sometimes must do to escape from 
the pathway of an approaching vessel. 

Any person who is accustomed to diving, even from a 
very moderate height, knows well the serious disturbance to 
vision caused by the shock of impact with the water. That a 
Gannet or any other bird can fall from even a height of 
twenty-five feet, saying nothing of a hundred, take the water 
plunge, and retain its gaze upon its prey sufficiently to follow 
and capture it, surely betokens a special optical provision 



THE MAN-0 -WAR BIRD FAMILY 

which as yet we know nothing about, and which remains to 
be discovered and described. 

Besides the species described above, there are five other 
species of gannets, called BOOBYS, with various prefixes, which 
touch the coasts of the continent of North America. 




Photograph by R. J. Beck. 



Galapagos Islands. 



MAN-O'-WAR BIRDS. 



THE MAN-O'-WAR BIRD FAMILY 

Fregatidae 

Whenever at sea in the tropics your attention is arrested 
by the flight far aloft of a big, dark-colored bird with long, 
sharp-pointed wings, and a long tail that is deeply forked, know 
that it is a FRIGATE Brno, 1 or, as the sailors call it, MAN-O'- 
WAR "HAWK." It is a long-distance flier, and goes out far 

1 Fre-ga'ta a'quil-a. Length, about 40 inches. 



FULLY WEB-FOOTED BIRDS 

from land. Its beak is long, hooked at the end, and really 
very strong, but its legs are so short and stumpy they seem 
to be deformed. Under the throat there is a patch of skin 
quite devoid of feathers, which really is a sort of air-sac. 

I once found the roosting-place of a colony of about forty 
of these birds, on the top of a perpendicular cliff seventy -five 
feet high on the seaward side of an island at the northwestern 
point of Trinidad. The birds came there regularly every 
night, to roost in some small dead trees that almost overhung 
the precipices. They were not nesting at that time, however, 
and were so very wakeful that even though I went to their 
roost before daylight, I did not succeed in killing even one 
bird. 

This bird inhabits the warm oceans of the Old World, as 
well as the New, and Mr. H. O. Forbes states that in the Cocos- 
Keeling Islands they are regular pirates, and gain their live- 
lihood by remaining inactive, and forcing honest fisherfolk, 
like the gannets, and noddy terns, to disgorge for their lazy 
benefit the fish they bring home from distant fishing-grounds. 

Mr. R. J. Beck found Frigate Birds nesting in the Gala- 
pagos Archipelago, which were so tame and unsuspicious that 
he was able to approach quite near, and make the photograph 
which is reproduced on the preceding page. 



CHAPTER XXXIII 

ORDER OF TUBE-NOSED SWIMMERS 
OF MID-OCEAN 

TUBINARES 

THESE are indeed strange birds. To a landsman, it re- 
quires an effort to imagine a series of birds, some of 
them small and seemingly weak, which prefer to live in the 
watery solitudes of mid-ocean, indifferent to calms, and defy- 
ing both tempests and cold. To my mind, there is no sec- 
tion of the bird world so strange and so awe-inspiring as this. 
Just how the albatrosses and the petrels ride out the long, 
fierce gales, and keep from being beaten down to the raging 
surface of the sea, and drowned, I believe no one can say. 
It is no wonder that sailors hold the albatross in superstitious 
reverence, or that Coleridge has immortalized it in the "Rime 
of the Ancient Mariner." Well may a sailor feel that any 
large bird which lives only at sea, and follows his ship day after 
day, is the bird "that makes the breezes blow." 

The members of this small group of mid-ocean birds are 
distinguished by the curious fact that the nostrils, instead of 
opening through the side of the upper mandible, near its 
base, are carried well forward through two round tubes that 
either lie along the top of the bill or along its sides. By this 

233 



234 TUBE-NOSED SWIMMERS OF MID-OCEAN 

arrangement, the nostril opening is about half-way between 
the base and tip of the bill. The bill terminates in a strong 
serviceable hook, like the beak of a bird of prey. 

This Order consists of the albatrosses, fulmars, shear- 
waters and petrels all of them deep-water birds, strong of 
wing, and brave-spirited beyond all other birds. Of the thirty- 
five species and subspecies recognized in North America, only 
two or three ever wander to inland lakes, even for three hun- 
dred miles from salt water. The variation in size from the 
largest albatross to the smallest petrel is very great; but at 
least half the species of the Order are to be classed as large 
birds. Three species will suffice to represent the group. 

TEE ALBATROSS FAMILY 

Diomedeidae 

THE WANDERING ALBATROSS 1 is a bird of the southern 
oceans of the New World; and it is the largest and hand- 
somest species in the Order Tubinares. It has the longest 
wings, but the narrowest for their length, and the greatest 
number of secondary feathers (over thirty in number) of any 
living bird. The weight of an adult bird is from 15 to 18 
pounds, and when the wings are fully extended they have a 
spread of from 10 to 12 feet. Either when on the wing at 
sea, or mounted with spread wings as a museum exhibit, the 
wings of an Albatross are so exceedingly long and narrow that 
they have a very odd and unfinished appearance. They 
seem to be out of proper proportion, like wings lacking a 
proper outfit of secondary feathers. But they have their 

1 Di-o-me'de-a ex'u-lans. 



"FISHING" FOR THE BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS 237 

purpose. The Albatross can sail for hours, to and fro, with- 
out resting, and with wings so motionless they might as well 
be mechanically fixed. 

Dr. Charles H. Townsend, who, as naturalist of the United 
States Fish Commission steamer Albatross, has had excep- 
tional opportunities for studying Albatrosses at sea in all 
kinds of weather, has kindly furnished the following account 
of the most conspicuous species that inhabits the North 
Pacific : 



BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS 1 is a common bird almost anywhere 
in the Pacific Ocean, from the latitude of California northward. This 
dark species is frequently seen the first day out, and can usually be de- 
pended upon to follow vessels in increasing numbers. On many voyages 
between San Francisco and the Aleutian Islands, the average attendance 
of Albatrosses, or "Gonies," as they are usually called, was from fifteen 
to twenty. Whether the same individuals stayed with the vessel during 
the whole run, or were replaced from time to time by other birds en- 
countered along the way, we could not determine. 

The birds were w r ith us from daylight to dark, and in all sorts of 
weather. The S. S. Albatross, being engaged in deep-sea investigations, 
made frequent stops for the purpose of sounding and dredging. At such 
times the flock of birds would alight upon the water, often coming close 
enough to be caught on cod-hooks baited with pork. When on the wing, 
sometimes all the birds would assemble at once to feed on the waste thrown 
overboard from the galley, alighting in a confused manner, with much 
squawking and fluttering of wings. 

We often hooked specimens while the ship was under way, by paying 
out the line rapidly enough to leave the bait lying motionless, and buoyed 
on the surface with a cork. The birds were not able to pick up a bait 
while on the wing, or while it was moving. When hooked they would 
set their wings rigidly at an angle, and a rapid hauling-in of the long line 
would send a bird skyward like a kite, which position it would retain 
until hauled down on the deck. 

Fishing for "Gonies" was a common amusement on the Albatross, 
and specimens were often photographed alive on the decks, or marked in 
some way to determine if possible whether the same individuals followed 

1 Di-o-me'de-a ni'gri-pes. 



238 TUBE-NOSED SWIMMERS OF MID-OCEAN 

the vessel throughout the voyage. Marked birds, however, never were 
seen again. The handling which they received probably disinclined them 
to follow the vessel. 

The arrival of an Albatross on deck was usually followed by the dis- 
gorging of more or less food. They could not rise from the deck, and 
frequently were kept on board for several days. They walk with great 
difficulty, and bite savagely. 

Albatrosses rise easily from the sea, and when the wind is blowing 
it is done very quickly. In calm weather several strokes of the wings 
and a rapid movement of the feet are necessary for the bird to clear the 
water. No bird can exceed the Albatross in the gracefulness of its flight. 
Usually following in the wake, it has, however, no difficulty in passing 
ahead of the vessel, always on rigid, motionless wings, rising, descending, 
or turning without a wing movement that is visible to the eye. 

On voyages southwestward from California, the Black-Footed Al- 
batross did not usually follow the vessel more than two-thirds of the way 
to the Hawaiian Islands. A species known as Diomedea chinensis breeds 
in great numbers on the chain of islands extending northwestward from 
Hawaii. So far as I am aware, the breeding-place of Diomedea nigripes 
is not known. It probably breeds during the winter months on islands in 
the southern hemisphere. It is sometimes found in Bering Sea, particu- 
larly in the Bristol Bay region, and is met with all summer long in the 
Pacific south of the Aleutian Islands. During many visits to the Aleutian 
and other American islands, it was never found on land, and the natives 
were not acquainted with it as a nesting bird. 

In Bering Sea we sometimes met with the SHORT-TAILED ALBATROSS 
(Diomedea albatrus). This species is nearly white, and in calm weather 
was usually observed resting on the sea, near the great flocks of fulmars. 
While the steamship Albatross was dredging off the southern coast of Chile, 
the great WANDERING ALBATROSS was frequently to be seen resting upon 
the water about the vessel, and we had no difficulty in taking specimens 
with hook and line. 

Perhaps the most wonderful sight in Albatross life is to 
be found on Laysan Island, in the Pacific Ocean, where 
thousands of these birds nest close together on an open plain. 
There are acres and acres of living Albatrosses, stretching 
away as far as the camera can include them, until the plain is 
white with them. They manifest little fear of man, even when 



THE STORMY PETREL 239 

iron rails are laid down, and small iron box-cars are pushed 
over them, to load with eggs from the nests. 

After the reader has noted the above paragraph, written 
in 1902, a history of the great Albatross slaughter on Laysan 
Island will be found a few pages farther on in this chapter. 

THE FULMAR FAMILY 

Procellariidae 

THE FULMARS are like so many understudies of the Al- 
batrosses; and the SHEARWATERS bring the Tube-Nosed 
group still nearer to the gulls and terns. The habits of all 
these are very much alike. All are strong-flying, mid-ocean 
birds, following ships for miles in order to pick up whatever 
edible food is thrown overboard. In one respect they are 
marine vultures, for some of the species make haste to feed 
upon any dead animal found floating on the sea or stranded 
on the shore. 

No one with eyes ever need cross the Atlantic without 
seeing the dear little STORMY PETREL, 1 or "MOTHER CAREY'S 
CHICKEN," as it is called by sailormen. After the last gull 
has been left far behind, and there are about two miles of 
water under the ship, in the trough between two great waves 
there suddenly glides into view a pair of small black wings, 
fluttering rapidly, while two little webbed feet work violently 
to pat the concave surface of the deep blue water. Those 
who do not know the creature exclaim in surprise, "What 
in the world is that?" 

"That" is one of the wonders of the ocean world. The 

1 Pro-cel-la'ri-a pe-lag'i-ca. Length, 5.50 inches. 



240 



TUBE-NOSED SWIMMERS OF MID-OCEAN 



cause for surprise is that so small and weak a creature the 
smallest of all the web-footed birds, no larger and seemingly 
no stronger than a cat-bird should live on the watery wastes 
of a landless ocean, eating, sleeping and enjoying literally 
life on the ocean wave, and a home on the rolling deep." 



a 




Drawn by J. Carter Beard. 

STORMY PETREL. 

Even when seas are calm and skies are clear, one cannot 
easily imagine how this creature can live and find its food. 
But when a prolonged storm sets in, and for ten days or two 
weeks at a stretch the surface of the sea is a seething, boiling 
caldron, with every wave a ragged "white-cap" and every 
square foot of the sea fretted like a fish-net by the force of the 
wind, how does the frail little Stormy Petrel survive? 

You nearly always see this bird in the trough of the sea, 
skimming so low that its feet can paddle upon the surface of 



A TRAGIC STORY FROM THE NORTH PACIFIC 

the water and assist the wings. It is a black bird, with a 
large white patch on the rump, just above the tail. It rests 
upon the water fully half its time, I should say, and, aside 
from the table and galley refuse thrown overboard from ves- 
sels, the bulk of its food must consist of the tiny crustaceans 
that inhabit the floating bunches of sargasso weed. 

THE TRAGEDY OF THE LAY SAN ALBATROSS 

This bit of history should be of lively interest to every 
American, because the tragedy occurred on American territory. 

In the far-away North Pacific Ocean, about seven hundred 
miles from Honolulu west-b'-north, lies the small island of 
Laysan. It is level, sandy, poorly planted by nature, and 
barren of all things likely to enlist the attention of predatory 
man. To the harassed birds of mid-ocean, it seemed like a 
secure haven, and for ages past it has been inhabited only by 
them. There several species of sea-birds, large and small, 
have found homes and breeding-places. Until 1909 the in- 
habitants consisted of the Laysan albatross, black-footed 
albatross, sooty tern, gray -backed tern, noddy tern, Hawaiian 
tern, white tern, Bonin petrel, two shearwaters, the red-tailed 
tropic bird, two boobies and the man-o'-war bird. 

Laysan island is two miles long by one and one-half miles 
broad, and at times it has been literally covered with birds. 
Its bird life was first brought prominently to notice in 1891, 
by Henry Palmer, the agent of Hon. Walter Rothschild, and 
in 1902 and 1903 Walter K. Fisher and W. A. Bryan made 
further observations. 

Ever since 1891 the bird life on Laysan has been regarded 



TUBE-NOSED SWIMMERS OF MID-OCEAN 

as one of the wonders of the bird world. One of the photo- 
graphs taken prior to 1909 shows a vast plain, apparently a 
square mile in area, covered and crowded with Laysan alba- 
trosses. They stand there on the level sand, serene, bulky 
and immaculate. Thousands of birds appear in one view a 
very remarkable sight. 

Naturally, man, the ever-greedy, began to cast about for 
ways by which to convert some product of that feathered 
host into money. At first guano and eggs were collected. 
A tramway was laid down and small box-cars were intro- 
duced, in which the collected material was piled and pushed 
down to the packing place. 

For several years this went on, and the birds themselves 
were not molested. At last, however, a tentacle of the feather- 
trade octopus reached out to Laysan. In an evil moment in 
the spring of 1909 a predatory individual of Honolulu and 
elsewhere, named Max Schlemmer, decided that the wings 
of those albatrosses, gulls and terns should be torn off and sent 
to Japan, whence they would undoubtedly be shipped to 
Paris, the special market for the wings of sea-birds slaughtered 
in the North Pacific. 

Schlemmer the Slaughterer bought a cheap vessel, hired 
twenty -three phlegmatic and cold-blooded Japanese laborers, 
and organized a raid on Laysan. With the utmost secrecy 
he sailed from Honolulu, landed his bird-killers upon the sea- 
bird wonderland and turned them loose upon the birds. 

For several months they slaughtered diligently and with- 
out mercy. Apparently it was the ambition of Schlemmer 
to kill every bird on the island. 



ACRES OF ALBATROSS BONES 245 

By the time the bird-butchers had accumulated between 
three and four carloads of wings, and the carnage was half 
finished, William A. Bryan, Professor of Zoology in the Col- 
lege of Honolulu, heard of it and promptly wired the United 
States Government. 

AVithout the loss of a moment the Secretary of the Navy 
despatched the revenue cutter Thetis to the shambles of 




ALBATROSS BONES ON LAYSAN ISLAND, 1911. 
After the tragedy. One mile long and one hundred and fifty feet wide paved with bones. 

Laysan. When Captain Jacobs arrived he found that in 
round numbers about three hundred thousand birds had been 
destroyed, and all that remained of them were several acres 
of bones and dead bodies, and about three carloads of wings, 
feathers and skins. It was evident that Schlemmer's inten- 
tion was to kill all the birds on the island, and only the timely 
arrival of the Thetis frustrated that bloody plan. 

The twenty-three Japanese poachers were arrested and 
taken to Honolulu for trial, and the Thetis also brought away 



246 TUBE-NOSED SWIMMERS OF MID-OCEAN 

all the stolen wings and plumage with the exception of one 
shedful of wings that had to be left behind on account of lack 
of carrying space. That old shed, with one end torn out, 
and supposed to contain nearly fifty thousand pairs of wings, 
was photographed by Professor Dill in 1911, as shown here- 
with. 

Three hundred thousand albatrosses, gulls, terns and other 
birds were butchered to make a Schlemmer holiday! Had 
the arrival of the Thetis been delayed, it is reasonably certain 
that every bird on Laysan would have been killed to satisfy 
the wolfish rapacity of one money-grubbing white man. 

In 1911 the Iowa State University despatched to Laysan 
a scientific expedition in charge of Professor Homer R. Dill. 
The party landed on the island on April 24 and remained 
until June 5, and the report of Professor Dill (United States 
Department of Agriculture) is deeply interesting to the friends 
of birds. Here is what he has said regarding the evidences 
of bird-slaughter: 

Our first impression of Laysan was that the poachers had stripped 
the place of bird life. An area of over 300 acres on each side of the build- 
ings was apparently abandoned. Only the shearwaters moaning in their 
burrows, the little wingless rail skulking from one grass tussock to an- 
other and the saucy finch remained. It is an excellent example of what 
Professor Nutting calls the survival of the inconspicuous. 

Here on every side are bones bleaching in the sun, showing where 
the poachers had piled the bodies of the birds as they stripped them of 
wings and feathers. In the old open guano shed were seen the remains 
of hundreds and possibly thousands of wings which were placed there but 
never cured for shipping, as the marauders were interrupted in their work. 

An old cistern back of one of the buildings tells a story of cruelty 
that surpasses anything else done by these heartless, sanguinary pirates, 
not excepting the practice of cutting wings from living birds and leaving 
them to die of hemorrhage. In this dry cistern the living birds were kept 



WIDE-SPREAD DESTRUCTION OF BIRDS 247 

by hundreds to slowly starve to death. In this way the fatty tissue 
lying next to the skin was used up, and the skin was left quite free from 
grease, so that it required little or no cleaning during preparation. 

Many other revolting sights, such as the remains of young birds that 
had been left to starve, and birds with broken legs and deformed beaks 
were to be seen. Killing clubs, nets and other implements used by these 
marauders were lying all about. Hundreds of boxes to be used in shipping 




THE LAST OP THE LOOT. 

About twenty-five thousand of the wings collected by the bird-butchers of Laysan, now decaying 

in this old shed. 

the bird skins w r ere packed in an old building. It was very evident they 
intended to carry on their slaughter as long as the birds lasted. 

Not only did they kill and skin the larger species but they caught and 
caged the finch, honey-eater, and miller bird. Cages and material for 
making them were found. (Report of an Expedition to Laysan Island 
in 1911. By Homer R. Dill, page 12.) 

The report of Professor Bryan contains the following 
pertinent paragraphs: 

This wholesale killing has had an appalling effect on the colony. . . . 
It is conservative to say that fully one-half the number of birds of both 



248 TUBE-NOSED SWIMMERS OF MID-OCEAN 

species of albatross that were so abundant everywhere in 1903 have been 
killed. The colonies that remain are in a sadly decimated condition. . . . 
Over a large part of the island, in some sections a hundred acres in a place, 
that ten years ago were thickly inhabited by albatrosses not a single 
bird remains, while heaps of the slain lie as mute testimony of the awful 
slaughter of these beautiful, harmless and without doubt beneficial in- 
habitants of the high seas. 

In February, 1909, President Roosevelt issued an execu- 
tive order creating the Hawaiian Islands Reservation for 
Birds. In this are included Laysan and twelve other islands 
and reefs, some of which are inhabited by birds that are well 
worth preserving. By this act we may feel that for the future 
the birds of Laysan and neighboring islets are secure from 
further attacks by the bloody-handed agents of the vain 
women of Europe, who still insist upon wearing the wings and 
feathers of wild birds, and even yet have a legal right to do so. 



CHAPTER XXXIV 
ORDER OF LONG-WINGED SWIMMERS 

LONGIPENNES 



members of the Order of Gulls and Terns appeal to 
a greater number of admirers than any other group of 
web-footed birds. The reasons are: their wide distribution, 
both on salt water and fresh-water lakes; their conspicuous 
and graceful flight; their partial immunity from wholesale 
slaughter, and their friendliness toward the arch-destroyer, 
man. Every harbor and every steamer track is a safe feed- 
ing-ground for these birds, and along thousands of miles of 
shore line they are the most beautiful wild creatures that 
greet the eye. 

The three North American Families of this Order are as 
follows : 

ORDER LONGIPENNES 

FAMILIES EXAMPLES 

GULLS AND TERNS ..... La'ri-dae ........... Herring Gull; Common Tern. 

SKIMMERS ............. Ryn-chop'i-dae ...... Black Skimmer. 

SKUAS AND JAEGERS ____ Ster-co-rar-i'i-dae . . . Parasitic Jaeger. 

THE GULLS AND TERNS 

Laridae 

THE HERRING GULL/ an old and familiar friend which 
ranges far inland, and also far outward on the sea, is the best 

1 La'rus ar-gen-ta'tus. Average length, 24 inches. 
249 



250 LONG-WINGED SWIMMERS 

and most interesting type of this Family. It is an ideal 
Gull long-winged, large, white and pearl-gray in color, 
strong, yet graceful on the wing, a good fighter, and suffi- 
ciently plentiful in number to be known to millions of people. 
It inhabits the whole sea-coast, and all the salt-water bays and 
inlets of North America, the great lakes, the lakes and ponds 
of Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, and several of our larger rivers, 
such as the Potomac, Mississippi, Missouri and Columbia. 
From all their regular routes of travel and places of residence 
they stray inland for an indefinite number of miles. 

The Herring Gull nests from southern Maine and the great 
lakes northward to the Arctic Ocean, and makes its winter 
home in the United States. All transatlantic voyagers have 
seen it far out at sea, almost half-way between Sandy Hook 
and Queenstown. 

In Georgian Bay the sight of Gull life on the crystal-clear 
waters, and clean, bare islets of pink granite near Owen 
Sound, was one of the most enchanting I ever beheld. Going 
down Puget Sound on a cold and windy day in November, a 
large flock of the same old friends followed the steamer for 
twenty miles, sailing along beside us, sometimes within ten 
feet of the rail of the hurricane-deck a sight which well 
repaid one for half freezing in order to see it to the most per- 
fect advantage. 

But why wander so far from home to see Gulls? Only a 
mile from the Zoological Park is the Williamsbridge Reservoir 
of the New York City water-works. Not long since curiosity 
to ascertain whether any winter birds were being attracted 
by that very small but high basin of water led me to climb 



GULLS WINTERING IN NEW YORK 253 

up and see. To my great astonishment, I found a distin- 
guished company of sixty-seven Herring Gulls, standing and 
sitting in serene contentment on the sheet of ice that covered 
one-half the surface of the water. It was a nice, quiet, genteel 
place, well below the sweep of the wind; there was plenty of 
water for the birds to soak their feet in when the ice made them 
too cold, and what more could a Gull ask, except a daily de- 
livery of fresh fish? 

The voice of this Gull is not melodious; and some persons 
call it harsh and strident. But opinions differ, even on as small 
a matter as the voice of a Gull. I never yet heard the cry of 
a wild gull, either on the booming sea-shore or over the silvery 
mirror of an inland lake, which was not music to my ears. 

In captivity the Gull is badly handicapped. With the 
primaries of one wing clipped to prevent escape, and without 
the power of flight, it is not seen at its best; for no gull is 
perfect save in flight. Our flock is continually shrieking pro- 
tests against unlawful detention, and with perfect wings 
every one would quickly fly away, as did those bred in the 
park and reared to adolescence with perfect wings. We tried 
to colonize them, but once away they never came back. 

In an enclosure which embraced a pond and an island in- 
habited by about twenty Gulls, twelve Canada geese and a 
few other birds, two enterprising Gulls decided to nest and 
rear a family. Accordingly, they built a nest under a bush 
which stood on a point of the island, in a position that strate- 
gically was well chosen for purposes of defence. The two 
birds made a very wise division of the labor. The female 
built the nest, laid the eggs and hatched them, and the male 



254 LONG-WINGED SWIMMERS 

did the screaming and fighting that was necessary to protect 
the family from molestation. 

Never was there a more bonnie fighter than that male 
bird. During that whole nesting-period, lasting from April 
1 to May 15, he either bluffed or fought to a standstill 
everything that came within ten feet of that nest. Before 
his defiant and terrifying screams, and his threatening beak 
and wings, no other Gull could stand for a moment. When 
a Canada goose crossed his dead-line, the Gull would rush at 
him, seize him by the nearest wing, wing-beat him, and hang 
on like a bulldog, regardless of being dragged about by the 
stronger bird, until the goose was glad to purchase peace by 
retreating. During all these battles the female sat firmly on 
her eggs, but pointed her bill at the sky and screamed encour- 
agement with all the power of her vocal machinery. Eventu- 
ally the three eggs were hatched, and the young were reared 
successfully. 

On certain islands along the coast of Maine, where Gulls 
nest in considerable numbers, Mr. William Dutcher has done 
important and effective work in securing the protection of 
the birds by the owners of the islands. As if to reward Mr. 
Dutcher for his labors in their behalf, the Gulls permitted 
him to photograph them on their nests at very short range.- 
In England the Zoological Society of London has awarded 
its medal to several persons for noteworthy services in pro- 
tecting Gulls from destruction. 

THE COMMON TERN/ but for the timely interference of 
the Audubon law, would ere now have become the very Un- 

1 Ster'na hi-run'do. Average length, 14.50 inches. 



THE COMMON TERN 255 

common Tern. The persons who for years slaughtered birds 
wholesale and without check for "millinery purposes" would 
have exterminated this species, at least all along the Atlantic 
coast. 

In an evil hour some person without compassion, and 
with no more taste for the eternal fitness of things than a 
Texas steer, conceived the idea of placing stuffed Terns on 
women's hats, as "ornaments." Now, unfortunately, wom- 
an's one universal weakness lies in the belief that whatever 
the Fashion Fetish commands that she shall wear, that is 
necessarily a beautiful thing for her to deck herself withal. 
As a result, we have seen thousands of angular, dagger-beaked, 
sharp-winged, dirty-plumaged, rough-looking and distorted 
Terns, each one a feathered Horror, clamped to the fronts 
and sides of the hats of women, and worn as head ornaments! 

Those objects spoke very poorly for their wearers; for 
since the daughters of Eve first began to wear things on their 
heads, the Rumpled Tern is the ugliest thing ever devised 
for head-gear. Thus has been developed a new bird species, 
which we will christen as above, with Sterna horrida as its 
Latin name. Thanks to the Audubon law, however, the 
wearing of stuffed birds has, with fashionable people, quite 
gone out of fashion, and the only exceptions now seen are on 
the heads of servants, who, for motives of economy, are wear- 
ing the cast-off millinery of their mistresses. 

The Tern is much smaller than the herring gull; it has a 
very short neck, very long and angular wings, and when on 
the ground is not a bird of beautiful form. On the wing, how- 
ever, and especially over the breakers, its appearance is grace- 



256 LONG-WINGED SWIMMERS 

fill and pleasing. It is a white-and-gray bird, excepting the 
black bonnet which covers the upper half of its head and neck, 
and its bill, feet and legs are coral red. 

Along our Atlantic coast, and especially from Nantucket 
to Hatteras, it was once a very familiar bird, and its escape 
for annihilation has been of the narrowest. The anti-bird- 
millinery laws passed by New York and other states effectu- 
ally stopped the sale of wild birds and their plumage for 
"millinery purposes," and the Terns are no longer slaughtered 
as heretofore. In several places where they breed they are now 
protected, and henceforth should slowly increase in number. 

There are now but few localities on our Atlantic coast 
between New Jersey and Nova Scotia where the Common 
Tern, or "Sea Swallow," breeds. Two of these are Muskeget 
Island, northwest of Nantucket, and Gardiner's Island. 
The once numerous colony that formerly inhabited Gull 
Island, near the eastern end of Long Island, was broken up 
and driven off by a "military necessity," no less important 
than the building of a modern fort to protect the City of New 
Yorko By a strange coincidence, it was the 12-inch guns of 
our coast defence artillery that drove these much-persecuted 
birds from one of their favorite nesting-grounds. 

THE SKIMMER FAMILY 

Rynchopidae 

THE BLACK SKIMMED is a tern in form, but without the 
spear-like bill of the latter for spearing fish. Its lower man- 
dible is formed for use as a cut-water long, thin, rather broad, 

1 Ryn' chops ni'gra. Length, about 16 inches. 



THE SKUA AND JAEGER FAMILY 257 

and flattened vertically. The upper mandible is similarly 
shaped, but is shorter. 

AMien seeking food, the Skimmer looks for calm water, 
and then, with most dexterous and well-balanced flight, it 
slowly wings its way close down to the surface, so low that 
the lower mandible is actually held in the water while the 
bird is in full flight. Any small edible object that happens to 
lie on the surface is shot into the mouth, through what is 
really a very narrow opening. 

This is a bird of the tropics, and is much more at home on 
the coast of British Guiana, among the scarlet ibises, than it 
is on the coast of the United States anywhere north of Florida. 
I have never seen it elsewhere than in South America, and 
on our shores it is a visitor of great rarity. It nests on Cobb 
Island, off the coast of Virginia, and lives long in comfortable 
captivity. 

THE SKUA AND JAEGER FAMILY 

Stercorariidae 

The members of this Family are habitants of the cold 
northern seas and high latitudes. They are strong- winged, 
bold and hardy, and so frequently rob other sea-birds of their 
prey that they are sometimes called the hawks of the sea. 
Living examples are rarely seen save by persons who are 
voyaging northward above the 40th parallel. Of the four 
species inhabiting North America, the following is the one 
most frequently seen in the United States. 

THE PARASITIC JAEGER 1 is quoted geographically as fol- 
lows: "Northern part of northern hemisphere, southward in 

1 Ster-co-ra'ri-us par-a-sit'i-cus. Length, about 17 inches. 



258 LONG-WINGED SWIMMERS 

winter to South Africa and South America. Breeds in high 
northern districts, and winters from New York and California 
southward to Brazil." A description of the colors of this 
bird would be a formidable affair, for both adults and young 
birds have each two color phases. The beak of the adult is 
strongly hooked at the end, like that of a cormorant, but still 
more pronounced. 



CHAPTER XXXV 
ORDER OF WEAK-WINGED DIVING BIRDS 

PYGOPODES 

WITH this group the Class of Birds enters upon a very 
marked and swift decline from the high types. An- 
other step beyond this Order, and we land among birds so 
nearly wingless that they are without the power of flight. 
The birds of the present Order have wings that are small and 
weak; and while they are able to fly, and also to migrate, 
they fly feebly in comparison with the cloud-cleaving goose, 
duck, gull and albatross. Their legs are set far back on their 
bodies, and on land they have no choice but to stand erect 
a posture which is strikingly characteristic of the wingless 
sea-birds generally. 

This Order, as represented in North America, contains but 
three Families: 

ORDER PYGOPODES 

FAMILIES EXAMPLES 

GREBES Pod-i-cip'i-dae Pied-Billed Grebe. 

LOONS Gav-l'i-dae Great Northern Diver. 

AUKS AND PUFFINS Al'ci-dae Razor-Billed Auk ; Tufted 

Puffin; Murre. 

Of these, the first and second are comparatively well known. 
The third is composed of birds that are strangers to the great 
majority of us; but inasmuch as Alaska is constantly being 

259 



260 WEAK-WINGED DIVING BIRDS 

brought nearer to us, it is quite necessary that we should be- 
come acquainted with its most prominent forms of bird life. 

THE GREBE FAMILY 

THE PIED-BILLED GREBE, or "HELL-DIVER," also called 
the CAROLINA GREBE/ is well qualified to stand as the repre- 
sentative of the Grebe Family, which in North America con- 
tains about six species. It is usually seen in the geographical 
centre of a quiet pond, sharply watching in every direction 
for enemies. It is a sad and uncomfortable-looking little 
creature, destitute of bright and pleasing colors, and also 
devoid of beauty. At a distance, the hunter is thrilled by 
the sight of what he gladly thinks is a duck; but on approaching 
nearer he sighs regretfully, and admits that it is "only a 
Grebe." If he fires at it, in revenge for the disappointment, 
the bird is gone before the charge of shot is half-way to it, 
and only an innocent ripple marks its disappearance. 

All the Grebes are expert long-distance divers. They can 
either sink straight down, or dart down head first in a frac- 
tion of a second, and remain under water for so long a time 
and swim so far while submerged, that it is very difficult to 
follow their movements. Sometimes a Grebe will insinuate 
only its bill above the surface, in order to breathe without 
exposing even its head and neck. It is a waste of time, 
ammunition and self-respect to shoot and actually kill one 
of these birds; for they are very commonplace and useless. 

The only redeeming feature about this bird is its breast, 
which is covered with a thick mass of very persistent feathers, 

1 Pod-i-lym'bus pod'i-ceps. Average length, 12 inches,, 



NESTING HABITS OF THE GREBE 261 

set so tightly in a very tough skin that the evil-eyed mil- 
liners once used Grebe's breasts for hat trimmings. A few 
years ago the Klamath Lake region of northern Oregon 
literally swarmed with Grebes, but the agents of "the feather 
trade" slaughtered them so fiercely and persistently that they 
were almost exterminated. Now that region has been con- 
verted into a national bird refuge, and all its bird life is for- 
ever under the protection of the National Government. 

The nesting habits of the Grebe are remarkable and in- 
teresting. Instead of choosing a dry situation, where incu- 
bation might proceed under the best possible conditions, it 
frequently chooses a clump of rushes in deep water and builds 
a floating nest, attached to the rushes. Sometimes, however, 
it selects a spot where the water is very shallow, and builds 
from the bottom up, using rushes when it is possible to pro- 
cure them. In either case, the sodden mass rises only two 
or three inches above high-water mark, and how the eggs ever 
receive warmth sufficient to hatch them is a mystery. 

Occasionally a clump of rushes with a floating nest breaks 
loose from its moorings, and floats away. Some friends of 
mine once discovered a derelict nest, with the Grebe sitting 
serenely upon it, floating about in Lake Ontario, whither it 
had evidently been borne on the current of Johnson's Creek. 
Doubtless it is a real grief to Grebes that they cannot hatch 
their eggs under water! 

The Pied-Billed Grebe, also called Dabchiclc, and Diedipper, 
is a Pan-American bird, being found throughout North and 
South America from Cape Horn to the Mackenzie River, and 
from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Its phenomenally wide 



262 WEAK-WINGED DIVING BIRDS 

range includes Cuba, several others of the larger islands of 
the West Indies and the Bermudas. 

Its prevailing color is brownish gray, with black throat and 
chin. Its bill is dull white, with a broad, perpendicular band 
of black crossing it at the middle, like a rubber band, to hold 
the mandibles together. In size this bird is about as small 
as a green-winged teal. 

THE LOON FAMILY 

Gaviidae 

THE LOON, or GREAT NORTHERN DIVER/ is a large, 
showy, black-and-white bird, of such striking personality 
that when once well seen it is not easily forgotten. In bulk 
it is as large as an ordinary goose, and when standing erect, on 
land, its height is about 25 inches. Its neck and head are 
large and jet black, and the upper portion of the former is 
encircled by a white collar which is formed of upright lines of 
white dots. The breast is pure white, and the jet-black back 
is marked by rows of rectangular white dots, or broken bars. 
The legs join the body far down, near the tail, and when the 
bird takes to the land, it rests on its feet, the lowest joint of 
the legs (tarsi) and the tail, which lies flat upon the ground. 

Either on land or water this Loon is a very showy bird, 
and also a bird possessing many of the mental traits which 
when combined form what we call "character." Usually it 
is very wide-awake, suspicious and difficult to approach; 
but there are times when it will approach danger as if bent on 
suicide. Its cry is loud and far-reaching. Sometimes it is 

1 Gav'i-a im'ber. 



THE CRY OF THE LOON 



263 



like a distressful howl, and again it resembles wild, unculti- 
vated laughter. It is an expert diver and fisher, and in sum- 
mer is at home all over the upper two-thirds of North Amer- 
ica, breeding from our northern states to the Arctic Circle, 




COMMON MURRE. 



THE LOON. 



quite across the continent. In winter it migrates southward 
to the Gulf and the Mexican boundary. 

Its eggs are two in number, of a dull-green color. The 
newly hatched birds are covered with black down, and in 
travelling the mother bird often swims with them upon her 
back. The Loon rises from the water with considerable 



264 WEAK-WINGED DIVING BIRDS 

effort, and flies heavily, but in migrating its powers of flight 
are sufficient to carry it wherever it wishes to go. 

In the Potomac River, and along the Virginia coast, this 
bird is called the "War Loon." 

THE CLIFF DWELLERS OF TEE SEA 

There is a Family of weak-winged birds whose members 
are all fisher-folk, and live high up on the ledges of the bold 
and precipitous cliffs which hem in the northern oceans. 
They are sociable birds, and where not destroyed .by man 
live in great companies varying from hundreds to thousands. 
They form, as a whole, a great and diverse company, divided 
into 23 well-defined species. Collectively, they are known as 
the Auk Family, and include 4 puffins, 6 auklets, or little auks, 
5 murrelets, 3 guillemots, 2 murres, 2 auks and 1 dovekie. 

Whenever you visit Alaska, or the arctic regions, almost 
anywhere on salt water, you will be surprised by the abundance 
of the birds belonging to this Family. Wherever rocky cliffs 
rise out of blue water, you will find them tenanted by these 
interesting creatures. Doubtless, also, you will find that 
when such great gatherings of bird life are to be studied and 
recorded, one good camera is better than ten guns. 

Like the Aztecs who, like eagles, built high up in the 
crevices of the rock-cliffs of the gloomy Canyon de Chelly, 
to be inaccessible to the hostile enemies who gave no quarter, 
for similar reasons the feathered cliff dwellers of the sea build 
in similar situations. Dearest of all spots to the nesting sea- 
bird is a precipitous islet of rock rising out of the sea, wholly 
inaccessible to the prowling wolf, fox and wolverine, and, if 



BIRD LIFE SEEN ON A TRIP TO ALASKA 265 

not actually inaccessible to man, at least so very difficult 
that he looks for easier conquests. 

But let it not be understood that the birds of the Auk 
Family confine themselves to high cliffs and precipices. On 
the contrary, they congregate in thousands on rocky ridges, 
or on the tops of sandy hills called dunes at the sea-shore, 
where their nests are easily accessible to all their enemies. 
Just why their enormous colonies do not attract foxes and 
wolves by hundreds, we cannot imagine, unless it be for the 
reason that the general abundance of animal life dulls the 
edge of appetite and enterprise. 

To any one interested in sea-birds, of which there is really 
a great variety, -a trip to Alaska is replete with interest. 
Within a few hours after leaving Seattle, or, let us say, at Port 
Townsend, the bird life around the ship fairly compels at- 
tention. A flock of gulls fly so close to the rail of the hurri- 
cane-deck that some of them might be caught with a dip-net. 
Pigeon guillemots, and ducks of several species afloat on the 
cold waters of the Sound, ostentatiously swim out of the 
steamer's track. On the ocean it will be strange if an alba- 
tross does not sail out of space, and with far-stretching wings 
swoop and soar, and sail after you, hour after hour, without 
once flapping its wings! 

In Bering Sea, no matter where you land, the chances are 
that thousands of murres and puffins are there to greet you 
with noisy cackle, and spread a cloud of wings overhead 
when you disturb them. Really, the rookeries of Alaska 
of seals as well as birds are alone sufficient to repay a trip 
to that arctic wonderland, aside from the wonderful scenery, 



266 WEAK-WINGED DIVING BIRDS 

flora and big game. There are dozens of birds there which 
we would gladly introduce to the reader, but, owing to un- 
controllable limitations, only the most interesting examples 
can be accorded space. 

Of all arctic and northern sea-birds, the CALIFORNIA 
MuRRE 1 (pronounced mur) deserves to be mentioned first, 
for the reason that it is and ever has been most in the public 
eye. This is really a subspecies of the COMMON MuRRE 2 
of the North Atlantic, which nests on Bird Rocks in the Gulf 
of St. Lawrence, and sometimes comes as far south as Massa- 
chusetts. There is another North Atlantic species, called 
BRUNNICH'S MuRRE, 3 also nesting on Bird Rocks, which 
occasionally strays down to Long Island. Both the Atlantic 
species are black above and white underneath. 

The California Murre is the bird which once nested on 
the Farallone Islands, about thirty-five miles west of San 
Francisco, in countless thousands, and furnished between 
1880 and 1890, according to Mr. W. E. Bryant, from 180,000 
to 228,000 eggs per annum to the San Francisco market. 
Like true Americans, the eggers always endeavored to make 
"a clean sweep," regardless of the future of the rookery, and 
under their ministrations the Murres rapidly declined in 
number. 

Finally, an appeal was made to the United States Light- 
House Board. The admirable record of that body in the 
preservation of wild life was sustained by an order which at 
once put a stop to all egg-gathering on the Farallones. It 
has already been noted in the chapter on seals and sea-lions 

1 U'ri-a tro'i-le californica. 2 U. troile. 3 U. lom'vi-a. 



THE CALIFORNIA MURRE AT HOME 267 

that the only localities on the California coast where sea-lions 
are now safe from annihilation are the light-house reserva- 
tions, the most important of which are the Farallones. 

The following vivid pen-picture of the California Murre 
at home, on Hall Island, Bering Sea, Alaska, is from the 
pen of Mr. John Burroughs ("Harriman Alaska Expedition," 
p. 109): 

The first thing that attracted our attention was the Murres "urries" 
the Aleuts- call them about their rookeries on the cliffs. Their numbers 
darkened the air. As we approached, the faces of the rocks seemed paved 
with them, with a sprinkling of gulls, puffins, black cormorants and auk- 
lets. 

On landing at a break in the cliffs where a little creek came down to 
the sea, our first impulse was to walk along the brink and look down 
upon the Murres, and see them swarm out beneath our feet. On the 
discharge of a gun, the air would be black with them, while the cliffs 
apparently remained as populous as ever. They sat on little shelves, 
or niches, with their black backs to the sea, each bird covering one egg 
with its tail-feathers. In places one could have reached down and seized 
them by the neck, they were so tame and so near the top of the rocks. 
I believe one of our party did actually thus procure a specimen. It was 
a strange spectacle, and we lingered long looking upon it. To behold 
sea-fowls like flies, in uncounted millions, was a new experience. 

Everywhere in Bering Sea the Murres swarm like vermin. It seems 
as if there was a Murre to every square yard of surface. They were 
flying about over the ship, or flapping over the water away from her front 
at all times. I noticed that they could not get up from the water except 
against the wind; the wind lifted them as it does a kite. With the wind, 
or in a calm, they skimmed along on the surface, their heads bent forward, 
their w r ings beating the water impatiently. Unable to rise, they would 
glance behind them in a frightened manner, then plunge beneath the waves 
until they thought the danger had passed. Their tails are so short that, 
in flying, their two red feet stretched behind them to do the duty of a tail. 

Mrs. Florence Merriam Bailey says that "When incubating 
one bird stays on the nest during the day, and the other dur- 
ing the night, and when the exchange is made a great commo- 



268 WEAK-WINGED DIVING BIRDS 

tion ensues, the air being filled with quarrelling, screaming 
masses of bird life." ("Handbook," p. 17.) 

In its breeding plumage, the California Murre has a jet- 
black head and neck, the back is dull black, or slate-color, 
and the under-parts are white. In winter the sides of the 
head and throat are white. The range of the species is from 
California to Hall Island, Bering Sea. 

THE AUKS AND PUFFINS 

THE PUFFINS are the clowns of the bird world. Without 
exception they are the drollest-looking things in feathers. The 
countenance of a Puffin always reminds one of a face in a com- 
ical mask, while in manner they are so solemn, and take life so 
seriously, their clown-likeness is all the more pronounced. 

The most remarkable feature of a Puffin is its huge, triangu- 
lar beak, which is flattened out into two high, thin plates, set 
edgewise against the head and gorgeously colored. After the 
breeding-season certain plates at the base of the beak are shed. 
The bird is about the size of a wood duck. Its wings are short 
and very scantily feathered, and its tail is so short as to be 
practically invisible. In flight its wings look very much like 
the wings of a penguin as it swims with them under water. 

In many respects Puffins are wise birds, and if there is 
aught in the survival of the fittest they should live long and 
prosper. They have the remarkable habit of nesting in 
burrows, which they dig deeply, usually about three feet, in 
the steep sides of sandy hills. In these retreats they can de- 
fend themselves against enemies of several kinds. In the 
defence of their homes they are quite courageous, and often 



THE CLOWNS OF THE BIRD WORLD 

an angry or well-frightened Puffin will seize an offending 
nose, or human hand, bite it severely, and hang on like a bull- 
dog. In places where these birds nest in burrows, sentinels 




1. COMMON PUFFIN. 2. TUFTED PUFFIN. 

3. RHINOCEROS AUKLET. 



are always posted outside, to give the alarm of any approach- 
ing enemy. 

It is to be observed, however, that Puffins do not always 
nest in burrows, but frequently they find rock ledges so 
rugged and broken that they can find good nesting-sites in 
deep and narrow crevices, wherein they are reasonably safe 
from molestation. A Puffin lays but one egg, which is large 



270 WEAK-WINGED DIVING BIRDS 

and white, and placed at the end of its burrow. Of course 
all these birds dive and swim well. 

THE TUFTED PurriN 1 is the most widely distributed 
member of this genus, being found from southern California 
all the way up the Pacific coast to Alaska, Bering Strait, 
Siberia and on down to Japan. It is (or at least was) abun- 
dantly represented on the Farallone Islands from April to 
July, when they breed there. 

This species is instantly distinguishable by its black plu- 
mage, its big, triangular bill colored bright red and olive-green, 
white eye and white triangular cheek-patch. In the breeding- 
season a beautiful flowing tuft of soft, yellow feathers, thick 
as a lead-pencil, comes forth just behind the eye, and flows 
backward and downward in a graceful curve. 

On the Atlantic side, from Maine to Greenland, and also 
from Great Britain to North Cape, lives the COMMON PuFFiN, 2 
or "SEA PARROT." Of this bird, the whole side of the head, 
and the breast and abdomen are white, the remainder of 
the plumage being deep black. Wherever found, it is one 
of the most interesting birds to be met with near the sea, and 
its comical appearance, queer movements and fierce temper 
when disturbed never fail to amuse the observer. 

THE AUKS and AUKLETS are really birds of the cold 
northern waters; but on the Pacific side there are four species 
which touch the coast of the United States, and two of them 
even push their way down to Lower California. These birds 
are much like puffins with rational beaks, and I believe all 

1 Lun'da cir-ra'ta. Length, 15 inches. 

2 Fra-ter'cu-la arc'ti-ca. Length, 13 inches. 



GETTING FOOD FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA 271 

existing species are black above and white below. The beaks 
show but little tendency to the sportive flattening so char- 
acteristic of the puffins. 

These birds are very strong divers, and get a great portion 
of their food from the bottom of the sea. The two species 
found all along our Pacific coast, on the Farallone Islands and 
Santa Catalina, are the Rhinoceros Auklet 1 (14 inches long), 
and the Cassin Auklet, the former so called because of an 
erect horny shield at the base of its beak. The Least Anklet 2 
is only 6^ inches long about the bulk of a small, thinly 
feathered screech owl. 

THE RAZOR-BILLED AuK, 3 of the North Atlantic Ocean, 
sometimes wanders in summer to the coast of Maine, and in 
winter even migrates as far south as New Jersey. (Robert 
Ridgway.) It is 17 inches long, and is the largest living mem- 
ber of the group of auks. As might be expected, it is a dis- 
tinguished resident of the Bird Rocks. 

THE GREAT AUK is now a bird of history and museums 
only. It met its fate on Funk Island, a treeless dot in the 
sea, about thirty miles northwest of Newfoundland, which was 
the first land met with as the Auks swam southward on their 
annual migrations. The wings of this bird were so little 
developed that it was wholly unable to fly, and while on land 
it was any one's prey. 

The thousands of Great Auks that visited Funk Island 
naturally attracted men who wished to turn them to account. 
Whalemen were landed, and left there to kill Auks for their 
feathers and oil. The birds were either driven into pens 

1 Cer-o-rhirica mo-no-cer-a'ta. 2 Sim-o-rhyn'chus pu-sil'lus. 3 Al'ca tor'da^ 



272 WEAK-WINGED DIVING BIRDS 

and slaughtered there, or else the pens were used to contain 
their dead bodies. Apparently great numbers of the bodies 
were burned for fuel. About 1844 the species became en- 
tirely extinct. 

When Funk Island was visited by Dr. F. A. Lucas in 1887, 
in quest of Auk remains, he found deposits of bones several 
feet in thickness, evidently where the bodies of slaughtered 
birds had been heaped up and left to decay. Out of these 
deposits several barrels of mixed bones and peaty earth were 
taken which yielded several complete skeletons of that species. 

Had the Great Auk possessed wings for flight, the chances 
are that it would not have fallen such easy prey to its exter- 
minators. The moral lesson of its fate is in these days of 
firearms and limitless ammunition no bird should be hatched 
without steel-plate armor, strong wings for flight and swift 
legs for running away. 



CHAPTER XXXVI 
ORDER OF FLIGHTLESS DIVERS 

IMPENNES 

NO matter where man may go, on land or sea, or polar 
ice-pack, Nature holds birds in readiness to welcome him. 

When Peary reached the point of land that is nearest the 
north pole, at the northeastern extremity of Greenland, on 
July 4, 1892, he found there the snow bunting, sandpiper, 
raven, Greenland falcon and ptarmigan. On the great arctic 
ice-floe, at Latitude 82 40', Nansen saw the fulmar (Pro- 
cellaria glacialis) and the black guillemot, and a little later 
the ivory gull, little auk and Ross's gull. When Captain 
Scott penetrated the awful solitudes of the antarctic conti- 
nent, in 1911, he found there flocks of large and very strange 
birds. His party had an opportunity to study the won- 
derful EMPEROR PENGUIN 1 in its haunts, such as never be- 
fore had been secured by naturalists. For the first time that 
wonderful bird was secured on the films of a moving-picture 
camera. 

This species is the largest of the wingless and flightless 
swimming birds. In bulk it is about the size of our great 
white pelican. Its height is 3^ feet, and it stands as erect 
as any soldier on parade. In its erect posture its wings seem 

1 Ap-te-no-dy'tes fos'ter-i. 
273 



274 FLIGHTLESS DIVERS 

like arms, and its queer manner of talking, scolding and pry- 
ing into man's affairs makes this bird seem more like a feath- 
ered caricature of a big, fat human being than an ordinary 
diving bird. Its head is black, its abdomen is white and its 
legs and feet are feathered quite down to the claws. The 
wings are covered with feathers that are more like fish-scales 
than feathers, and the feathers of the back also are very close 
and scale-like. 

To a naturalist or bird-lover, the sight of great flocks of 
Emperor Penguins, and of the smaller Pack Penguins, on the 
antarctic ice-floes, must be sufficient to repay the explorer 
for many of the long, dark hours of the voyage that is re- 
quired to reach their haunts. The breeding and nesting 
habits of the antarctic penguins constitute one of the per- 
petual marvels of bird life. 

I have seen and heard the BLACK-FOOTED PENGUIN, 1 of 
South Africa, scold and complain in a most human-like man- 
ner. On land, or on an ice-floe, this bird is so awkward and 
helpless that any bloodthirsty observer can walk up and kill 
it with a stick. Place it in water, however, and what a 
transformation! Immediately it will give an exhibition of 
diving which is astonishing. 

In an instant a waddling, slow-moving, almost helpless 
bird is transformed into a feathered seal. With its feet 
floating straight behind, and of no use save in steering, it points 
its beak and head straight forward, and swims wholly with 
its wings. Those flipper-like members reach forward simul- 
taneously, work in perfect unison, and strike the water like 

1 Sphe-nis'cus de-mer'sus. 



A FEATHERED SEAL 275 

living paddles which they are. The quickness and dexterity 
of this bird in chasing and capturing live fishes, swallowing 
them under water and instantly pursuing others, is one of 
the most wonderful sights in bird life. The bird always dives 
with its lungs full of air, and during the middle of its period 
under water it exhales. When it does so, bubbles of air issue 
from each corner of the mouth and float upward like two 
strings of pearls. 

It is strange that the feet perform so very little service 
while the Penguin is diving; but such is the fact. Of all 
birds that love water, I think the Penguin loves it most. It 
will lie on its side at the surface and, in sheer playfulness and 
excess of joy, beat the water with its uppermost wing, wriggle 
about, then turn over and splash with the other. 

In the sea a flock of Penguins is readily mistaken for a 
school of dolphins, because they dive so persistently, in 
order to swim with their wings, and thus get on in the world 
very much faster than if they sat up and paddled with their 
feet. 

There are about twenty species of Penguins, of which 
the Emperor is the largest, and the King Penguin second. 
All are found in the southern hemisphere. The largest Em- 
peror Penguin ever weighed and recorded weighed 78 pounds ! 
Needless to say, these birds live almost wholly upon fish, in 
the capture of which they are the most expert of all birds. 



CHAPTER XXXVII 
. ORDER OF WINGLESS LAND BIRDS 

RATITAE 

EWEST of the Orders of living birds is that which con- 
tains the birds which are so nearly wingless that they 
are wholly unable to fly, but are provided with long and power- 
ful legs, which enable them to run swiftly. Of these there are 
a larger number of species than might be supposed, but our 
purpose requires here only the briefest introduction of a few 
important forms. The majority of the birds of this group 
are birds of great size, and their legs are so long and powerful 
they are able to kick or strike quite dangerously. These are 
the ostriches, rheas, cassowaries and emus. 

THE AFRICAN OSTRICH^ is the largest living bird, and in 
every respect it is a worthy descendant of the still more 
gigantic but now extinct moa of New Zealand. A full-grown 
male Ostrich stands, when fully erect, 8 feet in height to the 
top of its head, and weighs about 275 pounds. The manager 
of the Florida Ostrich Farm at Jacksonville states that the 
average weight of adult African Ostriches is about 300 pounds. 

Once abundant in nearly all the dry and open country of 
Africa, except the Sahara and Libyan deserts, this noble 
bird has shared the fate of the elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo 
and giraffe. To-day it is to be found but sparingly, and only 



1 Stru'thi-o cam'e-lus. 
276 



THE LARGEST LIVING BIRD 277 

in those regions of southern and eastern Africa wherein it is 
now protected. The value in America of a full-grown African 
Ostrich is $250. 

Fortunately, the Ostrich farms of South Africa, California, 
and Arizona have proven completely successful, and bid fair 
to perpetuate this grandest of all feathered creatures long after 
the last wild flock has been destroyed. If many Ostriches 
still remain in the Egyptian Soudan, the stringent game laws 
recently enacted to protect the wild life of that region will 
go far toward perpetuating them. 

THE RHEA, or SOUTH AMERICAN OSTRICH/ is a bird which 
is so constantly overshadowed by the larger and more showy 
African ostrich that it is not appreciated at its true zoological 
value. In height it stands about 5 feet, its bulk is only about 
one-half as great as that of the African ostrich, and its plu- 
mage has much less value. Nevertheless, the adult bird, in 
full plumage, is a fine creature, of a beautiful bluish-gray or 
drab color, and when it opens its wings they seem surprisingly 
long. A fine male Rhea "showing off" its plumage is an ob- 
ject which always commands admiration. 

This bird inhabits Patagonia, the Argentine Republic, 
and the more remote plains of Uruguay and Paraguay. Fre- 
quently half-grown birds find their way into the wild-animal 
markets so easily that they sell at from $40 to $50 each. 
Great quantities of Rhea feathers are used in the manufacture 
of feather-dusters. The importers claim that these feathers 
come from birds reared and kept in captivity, but that claim 
is vigorously disputed by Dr. W. J. Holland, who asserts in 

1 Rhe'a americana. 



278 WINGLESS LAND BIRDS 

his book, "To the River Plate and Back," that the makers of 
feather-dusters are exterminating the Rheas. 

THE EMU 1 stands half-way, literally, between the ostrich 
and cassowary, being considerably larger than the latter. 
Its neck and head are ostrich -like, but in the shape of its 
body it is more like the cassowary. Like the latter, its feath- 
ers seem like long, coarse hair, of a gray-brown color. The 
lower outline of an Emu's body is almost a straight line, with 
the legs in the centre, and the highest point of the back curve 
comes directly above the insertion of the legs. Thus the 
Emu appears to be, and is, a very well-balanced bird. Its 
home is the upland plains of Australia, so far back in the in- 
terior that it is now found only with great difficulty. 

Like the cassowary, the Emu is easily kept in captivity, 
and is not expensive to buy. In Woburn Park, England, 
owned by the Duke of Bedford, troops of these birds stalk 
freely over the vast green lawn; and surely no birds could be 
more striking or picturesque in such situations. Strange to 
say, a fully grown Emu can be bought in New York for $125. 

THE CERAM CASSOWARY 2 is a big, purplish-black bird, 
with highly colored patches of naked skin on its upper neck, 
and an elevated helmet or casque on the base of its upper 
mandible. Its feathers look like coarse and stiff hair from 
3 to 6 inches in length, and its legs and feet are very thick 
and heavy for its stature. The height of a Cassowary is 
about 5 feet. 

Cassowaries are forest-loving birds. They inhabit Aus- 
tralia, Ceram and other islands of the Malay Archipelago. 
1 Dro'mae-us no-vae-hol'land-ae. 2 Cas-u-a'ri-us gal-e-a'ta. 



A DECORATIVE BIRD FOR AN ENGLISH LAWN 279 

Because they take kindly to captivity they are frequently 
seen in zoological parks and gardens, and travelling shows. 




N. Y. Zoological Park. 



CERAM CASSOWARY. 



THE APTERYX, or Kiwi, 1 of New Zealand, is the lowest 
species in the scale of living birds. It is absolutely without 
wings, and it lives upon the ground in dark forests, where it 
can hide. Unfortunately, it has no means of defence, and is 

1 Ap'te-ryx aus-tral'is. 



280 WINGLESS LAND BIRDS 

too small to escape from a dangerous enemy by running away. 
It is about the size of a Cochin-China hen, covered with long, 
stringy, hair-like feathers of a dark-brown color, and it has a 
long, curved beak like that of an ibis, for probing in the earth. 
Undoubtedly, the civilized development of New Zealand will 
cause the total extinction of this very shy but interesting 
species at no distant day. 

In captivity in a zoological garden it is as shy and retir- 
ing as a beaver. In order to keep it from fretting itself to 
death, it is necessary to place in a corner of its cage a sheaf 
of straw, or a bundle of leafy branches, behind which it can 
retreat from observation, and lie concealed. 

Outside of its New Zealand home, this bird is rarely seen 
in captivity ; which is to be regretted, because it is one of the 
most interesting forms of the whole avian world. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII 

THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN 

BIRDS 

P^O the millions of people in North America who are in- 
terested in living birds, who are cheered by their pres- 
ence and benefited by their labors, the most interesting or- 
nithological study of the hour is: What shall we do next to 
save our birds from extermination? Beside this vital issue all 
questions of geographic variation, all listings of local species 
and priority in Latin names sink into utter insignificance. 

It is high time that every new book on birds, no matter 
where published, should in its first pages devote a liberal 
portion of its space to the all-important subject of bird pro- 
tection. To study birds in an academic way while scores of 
species are being exterminated, and make no effort to arrest 
the slaughter, is exactly like the music-making of Nero while 
Rome was being destroyed by fire. There are now duties 
devolving upon every ornithologist which no high-minded and 
conscientious man or woman can evade without dishonor. The 
cause needs work and publicity, and it greatly needs money. 
Those who cannot supply one should furnish the other. 

THE WAR OF EXTERMINATION: ITS MEN AND ITS METH- 
ODS. There are three kinds of extermination: 

281 



THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 

The practical extermination of a species means the destruc- 
tion of its members to an extent so thorough and wide-spread 
that the species disappears from view, and living specimens 
of it cannot be found by seeking for them. In North America 
this is to-day the status of the whooping crane, upland plover, 
and several other species. If any individuals are Jiving, they 
will be met with only by accident. 

The absolute extermination of a species means that not one 
individual of it remains alive. Judgment to this effect is 
based upon the lapse of time since the last living specimen 
was observed or killed. When five years have passed with- 
out a living "record" of a wild specimen, it is time to place 
a species in the class of the totally extinct. 

Extermination in a wild state means that the only living 
representatives are in captivity or otherwise under protec- 
tion. This is the case of the heath hen, and David's deer, of 
China. The American bison is saved from being wholly 
extinct as a wild animal by the remnant of about three hun- 
dred head in northern Athabasca, and forty -nine head in the 
Yellowstone Park. 

The extermination of the birds of North America began 
A. D. 1800, when whalers attacked the great auk for its oil, 
and clubbed that species out of our avifauna. The next 
important step concerned the passenger pigeon; but in the 
West Indies other species were swept away so quickly and so 
thoroughly that we scarcely learned of their existence until 
they were extinct. It is of historic interest to record here a 
list of the species of North American birds that have become 
totally extinct during our own time. 



THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 283 

THE GREAT AUK Plautus impennis (Linn.), was a sea- 
going diving bird about the size of a domestic goose, related 
to the guillemots, murres and puffins. For a bird endowed 
only with flipper-like wings, and therefore absolutely unable 
to fly, this species had an astonishing geographic range. It 
embraced the shores of northern Europe to North Cape, 
southern Greenland, southern Labrador and the Atlantic 
coast of North America as far south as Massachusetts. Some 
say, "as far south as Massachusetts, the Carolinas and 
Florida," but that remains to be proven. In the life history 
of this bird, a great tragedy was enacted in 1800 by sailors, 
on Funk Island, north of Newfoundland, where men were 
landed by a ship, and spent several months slaughtering Great 
Auks and trying out their fat for oil. In this process the bodies 
of thousands of auks were burned as fuel, in working up the 
remains of tens of thousands of others. 

On Funk Island, a favorite breeding-place, the Great Auk 
was exterminated in 1840, and in Iceland in 1844. Many 
natives ate this bird with relish and, being easily captured, 
either on land or sea, the commercialism of its day soon ob- 
literated the species. The last living specimen was seen in 
1852, and the last dead one was picked up in Trinity Bay, 
Ireland, in 1853. There are about eighty mounted and un- 
mounted skins in existence, four skeletons, and quite a number 
of eggs. An egg is worth about $1,200 and a good mounted 
skin at least double that sum. 

THE LABRADOR DUCK, Camptorhynchus labradoricus 
(Gmel.). This handsome sea-duck, of a species related to 
the eider ducks of arctic waters, became totally extinct about 



284 THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 

1875, before the scientific world even knew that its existence 
was threatened. With this species, the exact and final cause 
of its extinction is to this day unknown. It is not at all 
probable, however, that its unfortunate blotting out from 
our bird fauna was due to natural causes and, when the truth 
becomes known, it is very probable that the hand of man will 
be revealed. 

The Labrador Duck bred in Labrador, and once frequented 
our Atlantic coast as far south as Chesapeake Bay; but it is 
said that it never was very numerous, at least during the 
twenty -five years preceding its disappearance. About thirty- 
five skins and mounted museum specimens are all that remain 
to prove its former existence, and I think there is not even 
one skeleton. 

THE PALLAS CORMORANT, Carbo perspicillatus (Pallas). 
In 1741, when the Russian explorer, Commander Bering, dis- 
covered the Bering or Commander Islands, in the far-north 
Pacific, and landed upon them, he also discovered this strik- 
ing bird species. Its plumage both above and below was a 
dark metallic-green, with blue iridescence on the neck and 
purple on the shoulders. A pale ring of naked skin around 
each eye suggested the Latin specific name of this bird. The 
Pallas Cormorant became totally extinct, through causes not 
positively known, about 1852. 

THE PASSENGER PIGEON. This extinct species has already 
been set forth in preceding pages. 

THE ESKIMO CURLEW, Numenius borealis (Forst.). This 
valuable game bird once ranged all along the Atlantic coast 
of North America, and wherever found it was prized for the 



i i ': '' 

* . , J.' 




SIX RECENTLY EXTERMINATED NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS. 



Great Auk 
Eskimo Curlew. 
Passenger Pigeon. 



Labrador Duck. 
Pallas Cormorant. 
Carolina Parrakeet. 



THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 287 

table. It preferred the fields and meadows to the shore 
lines, and was the companion of the plovers of the uplands, 
especially the golden plover. "About 1872," says Mr. 
Forbush, "there was a great flight of these birds on Cape 
Cod and Nantucket. They were everywhere; and .enormous 
numbers were killed. They could be bought of boys at six 
cents apiece. Two men killed $300 worth of these birds at 
that time." 

Apparently, that was the beginning of the end of the 
"Dough Bird," which was another name for this curlew. In 
1908 Mr. G. H. Mackay stated that this bird and the golden 
plover had decreased 90 per cent in fifty years, and in the 
last ten years of that period 90 per cent of the remainder had 
gone. "Now (1908)," says Mr. Forbush, "ornithologists be- 
lieve that the Eskimo Curlew is practically extinct, as only 
a few specimens have been recorded since the beginning of 
the twentieth century." The very last record is of two speci- 
mens collected at Waco, York County, Nebraska, in March, 
1911, and recorded by Mr. August Eiche. Of course, it is 
possible that other individuals may still survive; but so far 
as our knowledge extends, the species is absolutely dead. 

In the West Indies and the Guadeloupe Islands, five species 
of macaws and parrakeets have passed out without any serious 
note of their disappearance on the part of the people of the 
United States. It is at least time to write brief obituary no- 
tices of them. 

THE CUBAN TRICOLORED MACAW, Ara tricolor (Gm.). In 
1875, when the author visited Cuba and the Isle of Pines, he 



288 THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 

was informed by Professor Poey that he was "about ten years 
too late" to find this fine species alive. It was exterminated 
for food purposes about 1864, and only four specimens are 
known to be in existence. 

GOSSE'S MACAW, Ara gossei (Roth.). This species once 
inhabited the island of Jamaica. It was exterminated about 
1800, and so far as known not one specimen of it is in ex- 
istence. 

GUADELOUPE MACAW, Ara guadeloupensis (Clark). All 
that is known of the life history of this large bird is that once 
it inhabited the Guadeloupe Islands. The date and history 
of its disappearance are both unknown, and there is not one 
specimen of it in existence. 

YELLOW- WINGED GREEN PARROT, Amazona olivacea (Gm.). 
Of the history of this Guadeloupe species, also, nothing is 
known, and there appear to be no specimens of it in ex- 
istence. 

PURPLE GUADELOUPE PARRAKEET, Anodorhynchus pur- 
purescens (Rothschild). This is another dead species that once 
lived in the Guadeloupe Islands, and passed away silently and 
unnoticed at the time, leaving no records of its existence, *and 
no specimens. 

THE CAROLINA PARRAKEET, Conuropsis carolinensis 
(Linn.). The fate of this charming little green-and-yellow 
bird has already been described. 

SPECIES OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS THREATENED WITH 
EXTERMINATION. At this point I must content myself with 
entering here only a list of the next candidates for oblivion, 
which is as follows: 



THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 289 

Whooping Crane. Pectoral Sandpiper. 

Trumpeter Swan. Black-Capped Petrel. 

American Flamingo. American Egret. 

Roseate Spoonbill. Snowy Egret. 

Scarlet Ibis. Wild Turkey. 

Long-Billed Curlew. Band-Tailed Pigeon. 

Hudsonian Godwit. Heath Hen. 

Upland Plover. Sage Grouse. 

Red-Breasted Sandpiper. Prairie Sharp-Tail. 

Golden Plover. Pinnated Grouse. 

Dowitcher. White-Tailed Kite. 
Willet. 

It is possible that our new law for the federal protection 
of migratory birds may save and bring back a few of these 
species; but I regard the great majority of them as absolutely 
doomed. Some of these will go out as the special victims of 
sportsmen and gunners ; and others will go in South America 
as the prey of the rapacious scourge of bird life throughout 
the world known as "the feather trade." 

Until recently the beautiful wood duck stood in the above 
list; but the operation of the federal migratory bird law, 
giving it complete protection everywhere in the United States 
has reasonably insured its survival. 

At present, none of the grouse of the United States are 
protected from extinction by the new federal law. Certainly 
the pinnated grouse should have been permanently protected. 
The preservation of all our species of grouse, quail and ptar- 
migan depends upon the various states inhabited by those 
species, and west of the Great Plains not one state is adequately 
protecting any grouse species. The legislators are afraid of 
the sportsmen afraid to do their duty toward the grouse; 
and the birds are being exterminated according to law! 



290 THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 

THE EXTERMINATORS AND THEIR METHODS 

The destroyers of the wild life of North America constitute 
a mighty army of destruction. It spreads over almost every 
square mile of this continent (saying naught at present of 
other continents!). The men and boys in that army number 
millions. They employ a bewildering variety of destructive 
devices, and they make various uses of the products of their 
slaughter. That army is powerful, all-pervading, selfish and 
merciless. In order to convey a proper understanding of the 
conditions that threaten our feathered friends and allies, it 
is worth while to pause long enough to consider a few leading 
features. 

The things that have created the Army of Destruction, and 
rendered its continued existence a possibility are as follows: 

1. The absence of adequate protective laws. 

2. Laws that are absurdly and fatally liberal to the 
killers. 

3. The non-enforcement of existing laws, over wide areas. 

4. A vicious and deadly contempt for the law. 

5. The enormous abundance of deadly firearms. 

6. Fear of hurting the feelings of game-hogs. 

7. Scarcity of campaign money with which to fight the 
destroyers. 

In view of this deadly combination against our wild life, 
is it any wonder that our birds and mammals, little and big, 
good, bad and neutral, have gone down before it like grass 
before the mower's scythe? Is it not a wonder that anything 
wild remains alive in 1914? 



THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 291 

THE REGULAR ARMY OF DESTRUCTION. This motley 
gathering contains all sorts and conditions of men who kill 
wild things. The character of the crowd varies by many 
downward steps from the gentleman sportsman who goes 
hunting because he loves Nature, and who kills either very 
little or nothing at all, down to the sordid, law-breaking 
"game-hog" 1 and meat-hunter who greedily kills all that the 
law allows and as much more as he can kill without detec- 
tion. From the number of hunting licenses annually bought 
and paid for, we are able to judge clearly the extent and 
deadliness of the regular army of destroyers now operating 
against wild life in our land. 'I have been at some pains to 
collect the following records: 

THE UNITED STATES ARMY OF DESTRUCTION 
Hunting Licenses issued in 1911 

Alabama. 5,090 Montana 59,291 

California 138,689 Nebraska 39,402 

Colorado 41,058 New Hampshire 33,542 

Connecticut 19,635 New Jersey 61,920 

Idaho 50,342 New Mexico 7,000 

Illinois 192,244 New York 150,222 

Indiana 54,813 Rhode Island 6,541 

Iowa 91,000 South Dakota 31,054 

Kansas 44,069 Utah 27,800 

Louisiana 76,000 Vermont 31,762 

Maine 2,552 Washington, about 40,000 

Massachusetts 45,039 Wisconsin 138,457 

Michigan 22,323 Wyoming 9,721 

Missouri 66,662 

Total number of regularly licensed gunners 1,486,228 

1 The term "game-hog" was coined in 1897 by G. O. Shields, and it has come 
into general use. It has been recognized by a judge on the bench as an appro- 
priate term to apply to all men who selfishly slaughter wild game beyond the limits 
of decency. Although it is a harsh term, its has jarred a hundred thousand men into 



292 THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 

The average for the twenty-seven states that issued 
licenses as shown above is 55,046 for each state. 

Now, the twenty-one states issuing no licenses, or not re- 
porting, produced in 1911 fully as many gunners per capita as 
did the other twenty-seven states. Computed fairly on exist- 
ing averages, they must have turned out a total of 1,155,966 
gunners, making for all the United States 2,642,194 armed 
men and boys warring upon the remnant of game in 1911. 
We are not counting the large number of lawless hunters 
who never take out licenses. 

BIRD AND MAMMAL SLAUGHTER ACCORDING TO LAW. It 
is difficult to decide which influence has been, and still is, 
most deadly to our vanishing wild life illegal slaughter or 
killing according to law T . We are inclined to believe that 
in the thickly populated, well-protected localities it is the 
legalized slaughter that is most deadly, while in the thinly 
populated states of the Far West it is the illegal destruction 
of game that is literally wiping it off the earth. One thing, 
however, is sure. If legalized slaughter could be stopped, it 
would be possible to stop about three-fourths (or more) of the 
illegal work. 

We have already shown the figures which fairly represent 
the number of men and boys which we know hunt legally, 
every year, in the United States, and our calculation for the 
remainder of legal shooters brings the total beyond two and 
one-half millions. There is at least one excellent authority 
who places the total at five millions! 

their first realization of the fact that to-day there is a difference between decency 
and indecency in the pursuit of game. The use of this term has done very great 
good; and there is no softer equivalent that can take its place. 



THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 293 

Now, how long can our remaining game birds and mammals 
endure before even two and one-half million well-armed men 
and boys, eager and keen to "kill something," and get a dead- 
game equivalent for their annual expenditure in guns, ammu- 
nition, travel and subsistence? 

In addition to the hunters themselves, they are assisted 
by thousands of expert guides, thousands of horses, thousands 
of dogs, hundreds of automobiles and hundreds of thousands 
of tents. Each big-game hunter has an experienced guide 
who knows the haunts and habits of the game, the best 
feeding-grounds, the best trails and everything else that will 
aid the hunter in taking the game at a disadvantage and des- 
troying it. The big-game rifles are of the highest power, the 
longest range, the greatest accuracy and the best repeating 
mechanism that modern inventive genius can produce. It 
is said that in Wyoming the Maxim silencer is now being 
used. England has produced a weapon of a new type, called 
"the scatter rifle," which is intended for use on ducks. The 
best binoculars are used in searching out the game, and horses 
carry the hunters and guides as near as possible to the game. 
For bears baits are freely used, and in the pursuit of pumas 
dogs are employed to the limit of the available supply. 

The deadliness of the automobile in hunting already is so 
apparent that North Dakota has wisely and justly forbidden 
its use by law (1911). The swift machine enables city 
hunters to penetrate game regions they could not reach with 
horses, and hunt through from four to six localities per day, 
instead of one only, as formerly. The use of automobiles in 
hunting should be everywhere prohibited. 



294 THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 

Every appliance and assistance that money can buy, the 
modern sportsman secures to help him against the game. 
The game is beset during its breeding-season by various wild 
enemies foxes, cats, wolves, pumas, lynxes, eagles and many 
other predatory species. The only help that it receives is in 
the form of an annual close season which thus far has saved 
in America only a few local moose, white-tailed deer and a few 
game birds from steady and sure extermination. 

The bag limits, on which vast reliance is placed to preserve 
the wild game, are a fraud, a delusion and a snare! The few 
local exceptions only prove the generality of the rule. In 
every state, without a single exception, the bag limits are far 
too high, and the laws are of deadly liberality. In many states 
the bag-limit laws on birds are an absolute dead letter. Fancy 
the 125 wardens of New York enforcing the bag-limit laws 
on 150,000 gunners! It is this horrible condition that is 
enabling the licensed army of destruction to get in its deadly 
work on the game, all over the world. In America the over- 
liberality of the laws is to blame for two-thirds of the car- 
nival of slaughter, and the successful evasions of the law are 
responsible for the other third. 

MARKET-HUNTING. The most destructive form of bird- 
slaughter according to law is market-killing. The market- 
hunter works seven days a week, regardless of weather. He 
begins at sunrise and shoots until sunset, or after. He is 
rarely hampered by any bag limits or checked by game 
wardens, and his only "limit" is the range of his guns. When 
market-hunting is allowed by law, he can also use automatic 
and "pump" guns, shotguns of large calibre, batteries, sink- 



THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 297 

boxes, and every other device known to man, with the possible 
exception of punt guns, and sail and power boats. 

The reasons why market-shooting is so deadly destructive 
to wild life are not obscure. 

The true sportsman hunts during a very few days only 
each year. The market-gunners shoot early and late, seven 
days a week, month after month. When game is abundant, 
the price is low, and a great quantity must be killed in order 
to make it pay well. When game is scarce, the market prices 
are high, and the shooter makes the utmost exertions to find 
the last of the game in order to secure the "big money." 

W T hen game is protected by law, thousands of people with 
money desire it for their tables, just the same, and are wili- 
ng to pay fabulous prices for what they want, when they want 
it. Many a dealer is quite willing to run the risk of fines, 
because fines don't really hurt; they are only annoying. The 
dealer wishes to make the big profit, and retain his customers; 
"and besides," he reasons, "if I don't supply them some one 
else will; so what is the difference?" When game is scarce, 
prices high and the consumer's money ready, there are a hun- 
dred tricks to which shooters and dealers willingly resort to 
ship and receive unlawful game without detection. 

THE DIVISION OF MEAT-SHOOTERS contains all men who 
sordidly shoot for the frying-pan to save bacon and beef 
at the expense of the public, or for the markets. There 
are a few wilderness regions so remote and so difficult of ac- 
cess that the transportation of meat into them is a matter of 
much difficulty and expense. There are a very few men in 
North America who are justified in "living off the country," 



298 THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 

for short periods. The genuine prospectors always have been 
counted in this class; but all miners who are fully located, all 
lumbermen and rail way -builders, certainly are not in the 
prospector's class. They are abundantly able to maintain 
continuous lines of communication for the transit of beef and 
mutton. 

Of all the meat-shooters, the market-gunners who prey on 
wild fowl and ground game birds for the big-city markets are 
the most deadly to wild life. Enough geese, ducks, brant, 
quail, ruffed grouse, prairie chickens, heath hens and wild 
pigeons have been butchered by gunners and netters for "the 
market" to have stocked the whole world. No section con- 
taining a good supply of game has escaped. In the United 
States the great slaughtering-grounds have been Cape Cod; 
Great South Bay, New York; Currituck Sound, North Caro- 
lina; Marsh Island, Louisiana; the southwest corner of Louisi- 
ana; the Sunk Lands of Arkansas; the lake regions of Minne- 
sota; the prairies of the whole Middle West; Great Salt Lake; 
the Klamath Lake region (Oregon) and southern California. 

The output of this systematic bird-slaughter has supplied 
the greedy game markets of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, 
Washington, Baltimore, Chicago, New Orleans, St. Louis, 
Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. The 
history of this industry, its methods, its carnage, its profits 
arid its losses would make a volume, but we cannot enter upon 
it here. Beyond reasonable doubt, this awful traffic in dead 
game is responsible for at least three-fourths of the slaughter 
that has reduced our game birds to a mere remnant of their 
former abundance. There is no influence so deadly to wild 



THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 299 

life as that of the market-gunner who works six days a week, 
from sunrise until sunset, hunting down and killing every 
game bird that he can reach with a choke-bore gun. 

During the past five years several of the once-great killing- 
grounds have been so thoroughly "shot out" that they have 




A MARKET-GUNNER AT WORK ON MARSH ISLAND. 

Killing Mallards for the New Orleans market. The purchase of this island by Mrs. Russell 
Sage has now converted it into a bird sanctuary. 

ceased to hold their former rank. This is the case with the 
Minnesota Lakes, the Sunk Lands of Arkansas, the Klamath 
Lakes of Oregon, and I think it is also true of southern Cali- 
fornia. The Klamath Lakes have been taken over by the 
Government as a bird refuge. Currituck Sound, at the north- 
eastern corner of North Carolina, has been so bottled up by 
the Bayne law of New York state that Curri tuck's greatest 
wild-fowl market has been cut off. Last year only one-half 
the usual number of ducks and geese were killed; and already 



300 THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 

many "professional" duck and brant shooters have abandoned 
the business because the commission merchants no longer 
will buy dead birds. 

Very many enormous bags of game have been made in a 
day by market-gunners; but rarely have they published any 
of their records. The greatest kill of which I ever have heard 
occurred under the auspices of the Glenn County Club, in 
southern California, on February 5, 1906. Two men, armed 
with automatic shotguns, fired five shots apiece, and got ten 
geese out of one flock. In one hour they killed two hundred 
and eighteen geese, and their bag for the day was four hundred 
and fifty geese! The shooter who wrote the story for pub- 
lication (on February 12, at Willows, Glenn County, Cali- 
fornia), said: "It being warm weather, the birds had to be 
shipped at once in order to keep them from spoiling." A 
photograph was made of the "one hour's slaughter" of two 
hundred and eighteen geese, and it was published in a western 
magazine with "C. H. B.'s" story, nearly all of which will be 
found in Chapter XV of "Our Vanishing Wild Life." 

Here is an inexorable law of Nature, to which there are 
no exceptions: 

No wild species of bird, mammal, reptile or fish can with- 
stand exploitation for commercial purposes. 

Throughout the whole world the killing of wild game for 
sale (i. e., game not reared in preserves) should be rigidly and 
permanently prohibited by law. 

THE ILLEGAL SLAUGHTER OF BIRDS. As already inti- 
mated, the destruction of our birds and mammals, game and 
not game, by lawless and brutal methods has been enormous. 



THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 301 

It has been in progress, day and night, ever since our first 
game laws were enacted. In this land of ours the sacred name 
of Liberty is used by rogues and thieves of a hundred different 
kinds to cloak their outrageous practices against the common 
welfare. There are in this country at least five million per- 




PTARMIGAN SLAUGHTER IN THE ABSENCE OP LAW, YUKON TERRITORY. 

Part of three thousand Ptarmigan slaughtered at Pueblo, near White Horse, by miners and 
railroad men. The birds are hauled in by the wagon-load. 

sons of lawless and criminal instincts, who believe in doing 
exactly as they please whenever the clutch of the law is not 
actually upon them. Hundreds of thousands of aliens are 
coming to our land to make their fortunes, and have their 
children educated at public expense, whose fixed idea of lib- 
erty is that it means license to do as they please. 

Against this lawless element, both native and alien, the 
defenders of wild life always will be at war, in an irrepressible 
conflict. The following are the most deadly features of the 



302 THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 

campaigns of the lawless elements against American wild life: 

1. The illegal slaughter, at all seasons, of game for the 
pot, to save butchers' bills. 

2. The slaughter by the negroes and poor whites of the 
South of our most valuable insect-eating birds for food. 

3. The slaughter in the North by Italians and other aliens 
of birds and small mammals of every description. 

4. The slaughter of song birds in immense numbers by 
unrestrained boys armed with 22-calibre rifles. 

5. The slaughter of female mountain sheep, female 
antelope, female deer and female moose under cover of 
licenses to kill males only; also regardless of licenses or seasons. 

BIRD-SLAUGHTER FOR THE MILLINERY TRADE. In an 
evil moment some heartless enemy of birds conceived the idea 
of decking the head-gear of civilized women with the wings, 
tails, heads and also entire skins of wild birds. Very soon 
the resultant slaughter began to alarm serious-minded and 
thoughtful persons who believe that we of to-day have no 
right to destroy the wild-life heritage of our children. In 
1899 the Audubon societies began seriously to dispute the 
right of the feather trade to destroy our finest bird life for 
commercial profits and for vanity. That contest for the 
birds of North America has been raging ever since the date 
mentioned. 

To most Americans, the leading facts of our struggle with 
the feather trade to save our egrets, herons, gulls, terns, 
grebes, song birds and other species are already known. The 
Audubonists saved to us the gulls and terns of our Atlantic 
coast, but the enormously high prices paid for egret plumes, 



THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 303 

for the manufacture of "aigrettes," led to what at one period 
was believed to be the practical extinction of both the white 
egrets from the avifauna of the United States. 

While the plume-hunters were resting in that same belief, 
the egrets began to steal back from Venezuela, and start col- 
onies on our Gulf coast. As fast as these colonies were found 
by the Audubonists, wardens were engaged to protect them. 
To-day there exist in the United States about twenty-one 
colonies of egrets, which contain a total of perhaps 10,000 
egrets and 120,000 herons and ibises, guarded by wardens with 
modern rifles. 

Through a long series of efforts thirteen states have been 
induced to enact laws prohibiting the sale of aigrettes, and 
other plumage of native birds. These laws did not, however, 
prevent the sale of the plumage of foreign birds; and there- 
fore the American market was flooded with plumes of birds- 
of -paradise, crown pigeon ("goura"), Manchurian eared pheas- 
ant ("numidi") and many other forms of wild-bird plumage. 
In London, Paris and Berlin the annual trade in wild birds' 
feathers for millinery purposes has assumed enormous pro- 
portions. A great many facts and figures regarding London 
sales and prices will be found in "Our Vanishing Wild Life," 
Chapter XIII. 

A careful study of the situation at large revealed the fact 
that through their persistent slaughter for the feather trade 
about one hundred species of birds are threatened with ex- 
tinction. Without quick protection, by the closing of the 
European feather markets, the first species to go will be the 
greater and lesser birds-of -paradise, the crown pigeons of New 



304 THE SLAUGHTER OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS 

Guinea, the eared pheasants of Manchuria, the white egrets 
of Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, and China, the condor of the 
Andes, the trogon, and the Old-World pheasants generally. 

The relentless activity of the hunters for the feather trade 
of Europe may be counted upon eventually to exterminate 
any species that the evil eye of Fashion once fixes upon as de- 
sirable. The talk now being heard in Germany and in En- 
gland regarding the "breeding" of plume birds for the feather 
trade is extremely ridiculous. On a commercial basis such 
breeding is wildly impossible, and no friend of birds should for 
one moment be deceived by talk regarding it. The story of 
the successful campaign waged in Congress in 1913 to pro- 
hibit the importation of bird plumage has been told in an 
earlier chapter of this volume. 

UNSEEN FOES OF WILD LIFE. Besides their other enemies, 
our wild birds are preyed upon to a serious extent and des- 
troyed by immense numbers of cats and dogs that are al- 
lowed to hunt at will; by the sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper 
hawk, two owl species, the pilot black-snake, red squirrel 
and bird-shooting boys. Upon parents and teachers there de- 
volves a solemn and imperative duty to teach vigorously to 
all their children and their pupils their bounden duty to pro- 
tect and preserve all harmless wild creatures, and especially birds. 
Let there be no pastime slaughter of the innocents! 



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