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Full text of "Birds of America;"

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FORTHE PEOPLE 

FOR EDVCATION 

FOR SCIENCE 






LIBRARY 

OF 

THE AMERICAN MUSEUM 

OF 

NATURAL HISTORY 








I'M III 



Birds of America 



El>iior-i.\-Chief 
1. Gilbert Pearson 

President <>f ihf National Association of Audubijn Societies 

Consulting Editor 
John Burroughs 



Contributing Editors 



Edward H. Forbush 

State Ornithologist, Massachusetts 

William L. Finley 

Xaturalist, Author, and Lecturer 

Managing Editor 
George Gladden 



Herbert K. Job 

Economic Ornithologist 

L. Nelson Nichols 

Member Lmnaian Soeietj- 

Associate Editor 
J. Ellis Burdick 

Associate Member of American 
Ornithologists' Union 



Artists 
R. I, Brasher R. Bruce Horsfall Henry Thurston 



VOLUME 




ONE 



Thk University Society Inc. 

New York 
iq23 




X 



/^ 







\ 







Copyright, 1917. by 
The University Society Inc. 



Manufactured in the U. S. A. 



COMPOSITtON, PRESSWORK, AND BINDING 



J. B. LYON COMPANY, ALBANY, 



ADVISORY BOARD 



Arthi-r a. Allen. Ph.D., 

Assistant Professor of Ornithology, Cornell University. 

Glover Morrill Allen, Ph.D., 

Secretan^ Boston Society of Natural History 

Morton John Elrod, Ph.D., 

Professor of Biology, University of Montana 

W.\lter Kendrick Fisher, Ph.D., 

Associate Professor of Zoology, Leland Stanford University 

G. Clyde Fisher, Ph.D., 

American Museum of Natural History 

Harry vS. Hath.wv.w, 

Naturalist, Rhode Island 

Lynds Jones, Ph.D., 

Associate Professor of Animal Ecologj', Obcrlin College 

Grin Gr.\nt Libbv, Ph.D., 

Secretary, State Historical Society, North Dakota 

Silas A. LoTTRior,];, Ph.M., 

Naturalist, Author, and Lecturer 

J. Walker McSpadden, 
Author and Lecturer 

Howard Taylor Middleton, 
Wild Life Photographer 

George Henry Perkins, Ph.D., 
State Geologist, Vermont 

Albert Porter, 

Editor and Lexicographer 

S. F. R.\THBUN, 

Naturalist, Washington 

Paul M. Rea, A.M., 

Director, Cleveland, Ohio, Museum of Natural History 

R. W. Shufeldt, M.D., 

Author and Wild Life Photographer 

Harriet B. Thornber, 

Secretary, Arizona Audubon Society 

W. Clyde Todd, 

Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh 

R. W. Williams, 

LTnitcd States Department of Agriculture 



CONTENTS 



Preface .... 

Introduction 

Order of Diving Birds 

Grebes 

Loons .... 

ACKS, McrRES. .\XD PlFFINS 

Order of Long-wixged Swimmers 

Skiws .\nd J.\egers 

Gl'LLS ..... 

Terns ..... 

Skimmers .... 

Order of Tcbe-nosed Swim.mers 

Albatrosses .... 

Fulmars, Shearwaters, and Petre 
Order of Totipalmated vSwim.mers 

Tropic-birds 

Gannets .... 

Darters .... 

Cor.morants .... 

Pelicans .... 

Man-o'-war-birds . 
Order of La.mellirostral Swimmers 

Mergansers .... 

Ducks ..... 

Geese ..... 

Swans ..... 
Order of Lamellirostral Grallatore 
Order of Herons, Storks, Ibises, Etc 

Spoonbills, Ibises, and Storks 

Heron Family 



LS 



(Flaming^ 



OES) 



page 
vii 

xi 

I 

1 

lO 

i6 
,32 
32 
58 
54 
71 
75 
75 
So 
88 
88 
90 
93 
95 

lOI 

106 
109 
109 
113 
154 
164 
169 
173 
173 
180 



rv] 



VI 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



Order of Marsh-dwellers 
Cranes and Courlans . 
Rails, Gallinules, and Coots 

Order of Shore Birds 

Phalaropes . . ■ ■ 

AvocETS and Stilts 
Snipes, Sandpipers, Etc. 
Plovers . ■ ■ • 

Surf-birds and Turnstones . 
Oyster-catchers 



PAGE 

197 
197 
202 
216 
216 
221 
225 

255 
267 
270 



PREFACE 




HE actual and urgent need for this book is apparent to the large and steadily 
increasing number of persons who are intelligently interested in American 
ornithology. This need is due to the fact that in all the literature of that sub- 
ject there is no single work which presents a complete review of what is known 
to-day about American birds. 

The task of preparing a comprehensive account of the bird life of a con- 
tinent is far too great to be accomplished in a natural lifetime by any indi- 
vidual working alone; and until recently there has been no systematic 
cooperation between students of our native birds. It is inevitable, therefore, 
that continued study of the subject, aided by such cooperation, should have 
revealed many errors of commission and omission in the labors of Wilson, Audubon, Bona- 
parte, and the other earlier students of this difficult and complex science. Nevertheless, 
it is clear that the work of these men laid the foundation of American ornithology ; for their 
labors not only furnished much material of scientific value, but encouraged interest in and 
sympathy for birds, and thereby inspired further study of these beautiful and useful forms 
of animate life. 

The ornithological pioneers mentioned recorded not only technical descriptions of birds, 
but were at much pains to present observations calculated to give the reader ideas about 
bird personality. Later writers have confined themselves generally to one or the other of 
these aspects of bird life — or to regional ornithology'. . Doubtless the development of these 
two schools has been due to the realization of the enormousness of the task of presenting 
both technical descriptions, and accurate as well as readable characterizations of the hundreds 
of species which occur on this continent. In the case of the technical student, however, it 
discloses also the fact that one who is intent upon gathering purely " scientific " data about 
birds — that is, statistics and details concerning their size, color, distribution, nidification, 
and so on — is likely to overlook, or at least to pay little heed to habits or characteristics 
which have no classificatory value. 

Yet it is these very characteristics, rather than the purely scientific data, which make 
the strongest appeal to the imagination and the sympathies of the great majority of persons 
who are interested in birds. Indeed, it may be doubted whether any account of a bird, 
however accurate and detailed it is in its presentation of merely physical facts, is actually 
complete if it omits or curtails reference to traits which reveal the human and aesthetic sig- 
nificance of that bird's natural life. Surely, the cleverness and the fine courage which a 
mother bird displays in concealing and protecting her eggs, are as significant as are their 
mere number and color. 

It is the purpose of this work to present accurately and sympathetically both of these 
phases of bird life, that is, the physical and the moral. The utmost pains have been taken 
to present a precise description of the external physical appearance of each bird selected 
for separate treatment. The size of the bird may be considered the basic fact in its identifi- 
cation, and this is restricted (except in a few instances) to the average length, because that 
is the dimension most clearly discernible in the living bird. 

The color of the bird is even more important than its size, as a means of identification, 
and especial care has been taken in this particular. The most accurate and detailed descrip- 
tions of the coloration of American birds are those which are included in Robert Ridgway's 

[Vll] 



viii BIRDS OF AMERICA 

monumental work, The Birds of North and Middle America, of which seven parts have been 
issued by the United vStates National Museum. These descriptions, however, are expressed 
in terminology much of which is comprehensible only to the trained and essentially scientific 
ornithologist. Therefore, in order to employ this material in the present work, it became 
necessary to substitute common words for the technical terms; but in doing this great care 
was taken to reproduce the exact meaning of the original text. By this expedient there 
has been presented in plain language a vast amount of scientifically accurate descriptive 
material which, in its original form, would be comprehensible for the lay reader only by the 
constant use of an unabridged dictionary. Similar changes have been made, when they were 
necessary, in using Ridgway's text for the paragraphs on the distribution of species, and 
in the sections which characterize the generic groups. The descriptions of birds not included 
in Parts I to VII of The Birds of North and Middle America, have been written by R. I. 
Brasher. Special identification or "field" marks have been italicised. 

Although this precise and fairly complete physical description is essential for the pur- 
poses of scientific ornithology, and often is needed by the layman to supplement or cor- 
roborate his own observation, what Mr. Burroughs calls " the human significance of our 
feathered neighbors " is undoubtedly that which chiefly interests the very large and increas- 
ing army of bird lovers. This human significance is reflected in natural or acquired traits 
which, singly or combined, often give a bird a very definite personality. To the observer 
who learns to detect and understand these traits, the study of birds becomes far more than 
a mere science devoted to the collection and classification of physical facts. For once he has 
adopted this point of view, he begins to see something very like distinct character and per- 
sonality in the bird world; and observing the manifestations of such traces of individuality 
becomes to him infinitely more interesting and significant than the mere noting of the size, 
contour, and plumage peculiarities of a bird, or its occurrence here, there, or elsewhere at 
this or that time of the year. 

The characterizations, or life histories, of the species which receive separate treatment 
in the following pages, were prepared with especial regard for portraying their interesting and 
distinctive traits. In most instances this treatment reveals characteristics which serve to 
differentiate the species with much definiteness. It is, of course, true that individual dif- 
ferences may occur even within the species. For example, an individual bird may display 
what clearly seems to be unusual confidence in man, or uncommon cleverness in conceal- 
ing its nest or protecting its young. And it is frequently remarked that a certain bird may be 
a much more accomplished singer than are the others of his species in the same vicinity. 
Nevertheless there is a general similarity between the habits and temperament of birds 
of the same species, and therefore a description of these habits will be found to apply to 
the average individual bird of the species concerned. 

To the technical descriptive matter of especial interest to the systematic ornithologist, 
and the popular characterizations intended particularly for the non-scientific student of 
birds, has been added — wherever it is called for — much very important and interesting 
matter concerning the actual usefulness of birds. This subject of economic ornithology 
has been carefully investigated by the United States Bureau of Biological Survey, whose 
experts have gathered and compiled a great mass of statistics and other data concerning 
the food habits of birds, the object being to convey precise information as to which are the 
useful and which are the harmful species. It would be difficult to overstate the value of 
this work if its results were generally understood, for these researches demonstrate beyond 
peradventure the enormous usefulness of the birds in destroying insect pests which, but for 
this check of their natural rate of increase, would ruin every year many millions of dollars 
worth of crops, and threaten with defoliation and death many kinds of trees. 

The Bureau of Biological Survey endeavors to disseminate this information as widely 
as possible, and in order to assist in this good work the data gathered by its experts have 
been freely used in the following pages. This has been done not only because of the obvious 



Eggs of American Birds 



PLATE No. 

1. Laughing Gull 

2. Least Tern 

3. Water-Turkey 

4. Black Skimmer 

5. Common Tern 

6. Great Auk 

7. Loon 

8. Black Tern 

9. Murre 










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EGGS OF AMERICAN ISIRDS 
(Plate Nu!i]ber One) 



iiopy'Kln. l'>17. by The Lnicer,u, .s./...M\ /« 



PREFACE ix 

value and interest of the information thus conveyed, but because the reports and bulletins 
in which it is contained are likely within a few years to become unavailable through the 
exhaustion of the comparatively small supply printed. This, indeed, has already happened 
in the case of many of the most valuable bulletins, which are now unobtainable except in 
the larger public libraries and other repositories for such documents, and therefore have 
only very restricted circulation. Possessors of Birds of America will therefore have 
pemianent access to the best of this very valuable material. 

Finally, some explanation of the general form in which this work is presented may not 
come amiss in this connection. In their arrangement most ornithologies follow the evolu- 
tionary plan of proceeding from the lowest to the highest forms which, in the case of the 
birds, means from the Diving Birds which are considered by the scientists the lowest forms, 
to the Thrushes which are ranked as the highest. This is the order in which the birds are 
arranged in the Check-List of the American Ornithologists' Union, and the one which has 
been followed in these pages. 

The Check-List of the American Ornithologists' Union includes the names of about 
twelve hundred birds to which systematic ornithologists accord full specific or "sub-specific" 
rank. This sub-specific distinction is often based upon very inconsiderable plumage differ- 
ences of little or no interest or significance to the lay student of birds, while the character of 
the bird remains unchanged. In other words, a Robin is a Robin, whether he has white 
tips to the outer tail-feathers, as in the common Robin, or whether he lacks these spots, 
as in the Western Robin. Birds oj America discusses about one thousand birds. It 
practically covers every species and subspecies with which a student of lairds is likely to 
come in contact in North America. 

The publishers wish to thank Mr. T. Gilbert Pearson, who, in addition to his services 
as Editor-in-chief, has given freely of the photographs and material assembled by the National 
Association of Audubon Societies; Mr. Herbert K. Job, for his photographs and helpful sug- 
gestions; Mr. Edward H. Forbush, for his advice, and, through him, the Massachusetts 
Board of Agriculture for ornithological literature printed by them; Mr. William L. Finley 
and Mr. H. T. Bohlman for pictures supplied; Dr. Jonathan Dwight, Jr., for valuable sug- 
gestions and criticisms, and permission to quote from The Aiik\ Dr. R. W. Shufeldt for 
critical suggestions; Mr. C. Walter Short for his interest and practical advice on manu- 
facturing details; Mr. H.J. Vredenburgh for his careful supervision of the photo-engraving; 
Dr. Frank M. Chapman for permission to quote from his books; Mrs. Florence Merriam 
Bailey for permission to quote from her book, Handbook oj Western Birds of the United 
States; Mrs. Mabel Osgood Wright, for permission to quote from her book Birdcraft; Mr. 
John Burroughs for permission to quote from his Works; Mr. C. William Beebe for 
photographs; Elizabeth Torrey and John W. Seabury for permission to quote from the 
Works of Bradford Torrey; Mr. Winthrop Parkhurst for permission to quote from 
the Works of H. E. Parkhurst; Mr. William Leon Dawson for permission to quote from 
Birds of Ohio, Birds of Washington, and Birds of California; Mrs. Olive Thorne Miller for 
permission to quote from The Children's Book of Birds and A Bird Lover in the West; Mr. 
F. Schuyler Mathews for quotations from his Field Book of Wild Birds and their Music; 
Mr. Ralph Hoffman for quotations from his Guide to the Birds of Nciv England and Eastern 
New York ; Mr. Walter H. Rich for permission to quote from his Feathered Game of the North- 
east; Mr. H. T. Middleton, Mr. Silas A. Lottridge, Mr. A. A. Allen, and all others who have 
so generously contributed of their best in photographic studies; the United Fruit Company 
for the use of paintings for reproduction on the title pages; and the Hercules Powder Co., 
for quotations from Game Farming for Profit and Pleasure. 

The following publishers have courteously granted these permissions: D. Appleton & 
Co. for quotations from the Works of Frank M. Chapman; Houghton Mifflin Co. for " To 
an Oriole " by Edgar A. Fawcett, quotations from The Children's Book of Birds and .4 Bird 
Lover in the West by Olive Thorne Miller, quotations from Handbook of Birds of the Western 



X BIRDS OF AMERICA 

United States by Florence Merriam Bailey, quotations from the Works of John Burroughs, 
quotations from the Works of Bradford Torrey, and quotations from Guide to the Birds of 
New England and Eastern New York by Ralph Hoffman; The John Lane Co. for quotations 
from Birds by Sea and Land by John Maclair Boarston; the Macmillan Co. for quota- 
tions from the Works of Mabel Osgood Wright; Elizabeth C. T. Miller for quotations from 
Birds oj Ohio by William Leon Dawson; G. P. Putnam's Sons for quotations from Field 
Book of Wild Birds and their Music by F. Schuyler Mathews; T. Y. Crowell Co., for quo- 
tation from Feathered Game of the Northeast by Walter H. Rich; and Charles Scribner's Sons 
for quotations from the Works of H. E. Parkhurst. 

To the United States Department of Agriculture and the members of the Biological 
vSurvey, to the New York State Museum and its director Dr. John M. Clarke, and to the 
American Museum of Natural History and its director Dr. Frederic A. Lucas and the 
members of its scientific staff are due special thanks for the material and pictures supplied 
by them. 

The careful workmanship of The J. B. Lyon Company of Albany, the Phoenix Engrav- 
ing Company, of New York City, and the Zeese-Wilkinson Company, of New York City, 
have made possible the mechanical perfection of these volumes. 




'"K-awsfr** 










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■'. — ' •* J'-' fc> ^r ■ ■ - ' ■ 

Courtesy ul II. T. Middleton 
WILD-LIFE PHOTOGRAPHER SNAPPING A PIED-EttLED GREBE IN A POND 



INTRODUCTION 




By T. Gilbert Pearson. B. S. 

HERE is to-day in the United States a very wide interest in the conservation 
of wild birds. This is manifested in the great interest which the pubHc shows 
in proposed legislative enactments for bird-protection, in the propagation 
of various game-birds on private and public properties, in the building and 
erection of innumerable boxes for the convenience of nesting birds, and in 
the constantly increasing financial support given to the National Associa- 
tion of Audubon Societies, and its many affiliated state and local bird protec- 
tion clubs throughout the country. 

A lively curiosity has spread among all classes of thinking people as to 
the names of the birds they see, what they feed on, and something of their 
coming and going, with the result that the demand for bird books has become very- great. 
No publisher of general literature would to-day deem his list of books adequate without 
one or more standard works on some phase of ornithology. Literary magazines con- 
stantly are publishing articles on the habits of l>irds, the migration of birds, the economic 
value of birds, the esthetic interest in bird life. 

There have been recorded in North America eight hundred distinct species of wild 
birds, and four hundred additional subspecies, or climatic varieties. This refers to the ter- 
ritory lying north of the Rio Grande — and not to Middle America, which includes Mexico 
and Central America. Naturally the individuals of some of these species are far more 
numerous than are others. For example, during historic times there probably never were 
more than a few thousand specimens of the California Vulture, while such common species 
as the Robin and the Mourning Dove run into the millions. 

Some birds are extremely rare, for example only one specimen of the Scaled Petrel 
has ever been taken in North America, and that was in Livingston county, New York, 
although the natural habitat of all Petrels is on the open seas. 

No one state contains all these various forms of bird-life. From the latest available 
information the following list shows the number of birds that have been recorded in the 
various states of the Union: 

Alabama, 275; Arizona, 371; Arkansas, 255; California, 541; Colorado, 403; Connect- 
icut, 334; Delaware, 229; District of Columbia, 293; Florida, 362; Idaho, 210; Illinois, 390; 
Indiana, 321; Iowa, 356; Kansas, 379; Kentucky, 228; Louisiana, 323; Maine, 327; Mary- 
land, 290; Massachusetts, 369; Michigan, 326; Minnesota, 304; Missouri, 383 ;' Nebraska, 
418; Nevada, 250; New Hampshire, 283; New Jersey, 358; New Mexico, 314; New York, 
412; North Carolina, 331; North Dakota, 338; Ohio, 330; Oregon, 328; Pennsylvania, 300; 
Rhode Island, 293; South Carolina, 337; Tennessee, 223; Texas, 546; Utah, 214; Vermont, 
255; Virginia, 302; Washington, 372; West Virginia, 246; Wisconsin, 357; Wyoming, 288. 
For the remaining five states no list of birds has been published. 

Among the twelve hundred species and subspecies there are a considerable number 
that are exotic and are never seen in this country save on rare occasions when blown far by 
storms they wander to our shores. Among this class may be mentioned such species as 
the Scarlet Ibis from South America, the Mew Gull from northern Europe, the Giant Ful- 
mar of the southern oceans, and the Lapwing, Rook, and Wheatear from the old world. 

[xi] 



xii BIRDS OF AMERICA 

Birds vary greatly in the extent of their natural range and here again comparison may 
be made between the California Vulture and the Robin ; the one ranging in suitable localities 
from southern Florida to Alaska, the other being restricted to the California mountains. 
The bird of greatest range in the world is the Arctic Tern, which in the northern summer 
haunts the North American coastline from Maine to the Arctic seas, and during our winter 
feeds along the shores of the Antarctic continent. Most birds have a much more restricted 
range and but few are found in every state. Some species occur only along the Pacific coast, 
others only in the northeastern States and Canada, and still others are confined to the south 
Atlantic and Gulf States. 

The earlier legislative enactments for bird-protection in the United States dealt almost 
entirely with game-birds. So persistently was this class of birds shot, trapped, and netted 
after the coming of the Europeans, that it soon became apparent that restrictive measures 
must be taken if some of the more popular game-birds were to be preserved for posterity. 
These laws at first were quite amateurish, but as a result of experience they later were estab- 
lished along certain definite lines, viz., first, those setting aside certain seasons of the year 
when the birds could be killed, the idea of this being to afford them protection during the 
period of incubation and caring for the young; second, forbidding certain methods of capture 
as for example " fire lighting " at night, netting, and shooting into flocks with large swivel 
guns; and, third, limiting the number that might be taken in a day or season. 

It was found that the ordinary civil officers could not, or would not, enforce the game 
laws satisfactorily, hence there soon developed a plan of employing special state officers 
known as game wardens whose specific duty it was to see that the laws protecting birds and 
game were observed. In order to raise funds for the employing of these officers and also 
to increase the restrictions on gunners the custom arose of requiring hunters' license fees 
of all who desired to kill these State assets. These fees run from one dollar to three dollars 
for a resident of the State and from five to seventy-five dollars for a non-resident of the 
State. This hunting license fund in some of the larger States at times amounts to $200,000 
or more annually. 

It was not until about the middle eighties that public attention was drawn strongly to 
the desirability of preserving that group of birds usually referred to as " non-game birds." 
By a campaign of education the Audubon Society, first formed at that time, began to edu- 
cate the public sentiment on the subject with the result that the law usually known as the 
Audubon Law and which has for its purpose the protection of this large group of birds, has 
been enacted in the Legislatures of all the States with the exception of six. By the enact- 
ment of the Federal Migratory Bird Law on March 4, 1913, a provision protecting these 
birds was created which covers the United States. On December 10, 1916, a treaty between 
this country and Great Britain was ratified, which extends protection to non-game birds in 
the Dominion of Canada. 

The best place to study wild birds is on a Bird Reservation for here the birds have 
greatly lost their fear of man, and primitive conditions, so far as the birds are concerned, 
have thus largely been restored. In one of the protected sea-bird colonies of North Carolina 
I have photographed Royal Terns standing unafraid on the sands not twelve feet distant. 
They had become so accustomed to the warden in charge that they had regained their 
confidence in man. At Lake Worth I saw a man feed Scaup Ducks that swam to within 
two yards of his boat. In thousands of door-yards throughout the country wild birds, won 
by kind treatment, now take their food or drink within a few feet of their human protec- 
tors. This is because the door-yards have been made little bird reservations. I have a number 
of friends who regularly feed Chickadees in winter as the birds perch on their outstretched 
hands. It is astonishing how quickly wild creatures respond to a little reasonable treat- 
ment, as may readily be learned by any householder who will try the experiment. With a 
little patience any teacher may instruct her pupils in the simple art of making the birds 
feel at home in the vicinity of the school-house. 



Eggs of American Birds 



PLATE No. 2 

1. Whip-poor-will 

2. Nighthawk 

3. Yellow-billed Cuckoo 

4. Belted Kingfisher 

5. Least Bittern 

6. Sora 

7. Bob-white 

8. Red Phalarope 

9. Wilson's Phalarope 

10. Spotted Sandpiper 

11. Wilsons Plover 

12. California Quail 

13. Semipalmated Sandpiper 

14. Killdeer 

15. Florida Gallinule 

16. Sparrow Hawk 

17. Ruffed Grouse 

18. Wilson's Snipe 

19. Woodcock 

20. Sharp-shinned Hawk 

21. White Ibis 

22. Little Blue Heron 

23. Clapper Rail 

24. White-faced Glossy Ibis 



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EGGS OF AMERICAN I'.IRDS 
(Plate Number Tvs-o) 



IXTRODUCTIUX 



xiu 



There are some kinds of birds that, as far as we know their histon,-, have always built 
their nests in the holes of trees. Woodpeckers have strong chisel-shaped bills and are able to 
excavate nesting cavities, but there are others that do not possess such powers. These must 
depend on finding the abandoned hole of some Woodpecker, or the natural hollow of some 
tree. It not infrequently happens that such birds are obliged to search far and wide for a 
hole in which they can make their abode. It is the custom of those who take care of lawns 
and city parks to chop away and remove all dead limbs or trees that may die. As there are 
ver>- few Woodpeckers that ever attempt to dig a nesting hole in living trees, such work of 
the axeman means that when the season comes for the rearing of young, all mated Wood- 
peckers must move on to where more natural 
conditions await them. This results in an 
abnormal reduction of the number of holes for 
the use of the weaker billed hole-nesting species 
which must now seek for the few available 
hollows and knot-holes. But even these places 
are often taken away from them for along 
comes the tree doctor, who on the pretext of 
aiding to presen.^e the trees, fills up the 
natural openings with cement and the birds 
are literally left out in the cold. It is plain 
to see, therefore, that one reason why many 
birds do not remain in our towns through the 
spring months, is due to the absence of places 
where they may lay their eggs and rear their 
young. 

To overcome this difficulty the Audubon 
Society several years ago began to advocate 
the building and erection of suitable nesting 
boxes, and to-day the practice is gaining wide 
usage. More people ever>^ year are putting 
such boxes upon poles or nailing them to trees 
about their homes, and city authorities in some 
instances now include bird-boxes among the 
annual expenditures in the care of their parks. 
Some of the boxes that may be purchased are 
very ornate and make beautiful additions even 
to the most carefully kept estates. One may 
buy these boxes at prices varying from thirty- 
five cents to thirty-five dollars each. It is 
not necessary, however, to buy the boxes to be put up for birds. Equally useful ones may 
readily be made in the Manual Training Department of the school, or in the basement or 
wood-shed at home. If one does not know how to begin one may buy a bird-box, or write 
to the Audubon Society for a free circular of directions, and construct similar ones for him- 
self. People sometimes make the mistake of thinking it is absolutely necessary- that such 
boxes should conform strictly to certain set dimensions. Remember, however, that the 
cavities in trees and stumps which the birds naturally use, show a wide variety of size, shape 
and location. A large, commodious, many-roomed, and well painted Martin house, makes 
a pleasing appearance on the landscape, but it may not be attractive to the Martins. As a 
boy I built up a colony of more than fifteen pairs of these birds by the simple device of rudely 
partitioning a couple of soap boxes. The openings of the different rooms were neither uniform 
in size or shape, but were such as an untrained boy would cut out with a hatchet. A dozen 




Photo by .\. A. Allen 

HOUSE WREN 
Building its nest in a nesting box on a porch 



xiv BIRDS OF AMERICA 

gourds each with a large hole in the side completed the tenements for this well contented 
Martin community. 

There are a few simple rules on the making and placing of bird-boxes that should be 
observed. 

1. In the case of all nest-boxes, except those designed for Martins, the opening should 
be several inches above the floor, thus conforming to the general plan of the Woodpecker's 
hole, or the natural cavity in a tree. 

2. As a rule nest-boxes should be erected on poles from ten to thirty feet from the ground, 
or fastened to the sides of trees where limbs do not interfere with the outlook. The main 
exception to this rule is in the case of Wrens, where the boxes or gourds intended for their 
use may be nailed or wired in fruit trees or about out-buildings. 

3. Martin houses should be erected on poles at least twenty feet high and placed well 
out in the open, not less than one hundred feet from buildings or large trees. 

4. All boxes should be taken down after the nesting season and the old nesting material 
removed. 

Much may be done to bring the birds about the home by placing food where they may 
readily get it. The majority of land-birds that pass the winter in Canada or the colder parts 
of the United States, feed mainly on seeds. Cracked corn, wheat, rice, sunflower seed, and 
bird-seed which may be purchased readily in any town, are therefore exceedingly attrac- 
tive articles of diet. Bread crumbs are enjoyed by many species. Food should not be thrown 
out on the snow unless there is a crust or the snow has been well trampled down. Usually 
it should be placed on boards. Various feeding devices have been made of such character 
as to prevent the food being covered or washed away by snow or rain. Suet tied to the 
limbs of trees on the lawn will give comfort and nourishment to many a Chickadee, Nuthatch, 
and Downy Woodpecker. To make a bird sanctuary, therefore, nesting sites and food are 
among the first requirements. There appears to be no reason why town and city parks 
everywhere should not be made into places of great attraction for the wild birds. 

At Meriden, New Hampshire, there is a tract of land containing thirty-two acres of field 
and woods, which is dedicated to the comfort and happiness of wild birds. It is owned by 
the Meriden Bird Club. The entire community takes an interest in its maintenance, and 
here birds are fed and nesting places provided. It is in the widest sense a " community 
sanctuary." There are now a number of these cooperative bird-havens established and cared 
for in much the same manner. One is in Cincinnati, another in Ithaca, New York, and still 
another at Greenwich, Connecticut. 

The best equipped of this class of community bird-refuges, as distinguished from private 
estates, or Audubon Society, State, or Federal bird-reservations, is Birdcraft Sanctuary, 
located in Fairfield, Connecticut. This tract of ten acres was presented to the Connecticut 
Audubon Society in June, 19 14. A cat-proof fence surrounds the entire place. That it 
may not look aggressive, it is set well inside the picturesque old wall. Stone gate-posts and 
a rustic gate greet the visitor at the entrance on the highway. There is a bungalow for the 
caretaker and a tool and workshop of corresponding style. Several rustic shelters and many 
seats are about. The various springs on the place were assembled into a pond. Trails were 
cut through the brush and the turf grass, and a charming bit of old orchard on the hill-top, 
was restored for the benefit of worm-pulling Robins. Stone basins were constructed for 
bird-baths, houses are put up for all sorts of birds, from Wren boxes, von Berlepsch model, 
Flicker boxes and Owl boxes, to a Martin hotel; and lastly, the natural growth has been 
supplemented by planting pines, spruce, and hemlocks for windbreakers, and mountain ash, 
mulberries, sweet cherries, flowering shrubs, and vines for berries. Not only were all these 
things done, but there has been built and equipped a small museum of Natural History, 
which for good taste and usefulness one would need to travel far to find its equal. 

The interest in this subject is growing every day, in fact, America is to-day planning 
new homes for her birds — homes where they may live with unrestricted freedom, where 



INTRODUCTION 



XV 



food and lodging in abundance, and of the best, will be supplied, where bathing-pools will 
be at their service, where blossoming trees will welcome them in the spring, and fields of grain 
in the fall, quiet places where these privileges will bring to the birds much joy and con- 
tentment. Throughout this country there should be a concerted effort to convert the ceme- 
teries, city parks, and estates into sanctuaries for the bird-life of this land. 

With a little trouble, seasoned with good judgment, one may soon have birds feeding 
on a tray within a few yards of the window or even on the window sill. Abundant oppor- 
tunity is thus given for photographing birds under the best possible conditions for successful 
results. With every possible convenience at hand one may get better pictures of birds on a 
feeding tray than one could ever hope to do in a state of wild Nature. 

Photographing birds then is an excellent occupation, for the merest novice may hope 
for success. It is a good thing to do this too from the standpoint of the bird's well being. 
I have never known a bird j^hotographer who was not a bird lover; for to know the birds is 
to protect them. 




y^i^iJ^ii*^>^fe ^.■J^^^^^\^]^,i J|^ 




-«il* 



Photograph by W. L. Fmluy 

H. T. BOHLMAN PHOTOGRAPHING A COLONY OF WHITE PELICANS AND CORMORANTS IN TULE LAKE, 

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA 

Present operations in the United States, in the line of bird-reservations, grew out of the 
distinct need of preserving certain classes of birds from becoming e.\tinct. The birds that we 
may distinctly call farm-land birds, such as the native Sparrows, the Warblers, Wrens, 
Orioles, and many other common insectivorous birds, have increased in America since the 
advent of white man. 

It is chiefly the birds that could be commercialized, either for their flesh, or their feathers 
that have suffered great diminution in numbers in North America as a result of man's activ- 
ities. An important effort to preserve this class of birds is now being carried on in the United 
States by the establishment of bird-reservations. Reservation work began in 1Q02, under 
the National Association of Audubon Societies. This is the best organized and most liberally 
financed bird protective organization in the world, and has been in active operation for 
many years. 

One of the States that early adopted the Audubon Law was Florida. On the Atlantic 
coast of that state, in Indian River, there is an island of about four acres, where two thousand 



XVI 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



Brown Pelicans have been coming, from the time whereof the memory of man runneth not 
to the contrary, to lay their eggs and rear their young. About the time this law was enacted 
long quills became very popular in the millinery trade. Some of us found that the millinery 
stores in large cities were selling feathers taken from the Bush Turkey, the Albatross, the 
Brown Pelican, and also from the old Turkey Buzzard of the South. Certain people tried 
to secure the repeal of the Florida law, so that the Pelicans might be killed for their feathers. 
This caused the question to rise: Would it be possible to get the government of 
the United States to take hold of that island in some way? A man who kills a bird would 
rather be haled before a local magistrate where the jury probably would be composed of 
friends and neighbors, who themselves had killed birds. In such a case it was a simple matter 




^ 



m^ 



Photo bv H. L, Uilla 



CVjurle^y ot Nat. Aiiiu. Aud. Soc, 



PARK RANGER AND CAMP ROBBER (GRAY JAYJ 
Mount Ranier in background 



to leave the plough for a day and stand trial. But in a Federal court it is a different proposi- 
tion. Here a man may have to travel half way across the state to attend court, and must 
appear before a jury composed of strangers — a situation to be dreaded. 

There did not seem to be any way whereby this Federal control could be secured until 
the matter was finally taken up with President Roosevelt, who said, " If the land office will 
recommend that this land is not good for agricultural purposes we will make it a bird-reserve 
under the care of the Department of Agriculture, provided the Audubon Society will agree 
to hire a man to act as guardian on the island." In a very short time the matter was arranged, 
and the President declared the island a bird-sanctuary in perpetuity — a breeding place 
for wild birds for all time. He took a short cut in doing this for there was no s]3ecific law 
giving the executive such authority. Along the coast of Florida were found nine other small 
islands suitable for this purpose, and Mr. Roosevelt made them all Federal bird-reservations. 

Later inquiry was made about places suitable for sanctuaries for other birds, for, bear 
in mind, many large birds over extended areas were threatened with extirpation to supply 



INTRODUCTION 



xvii 



iiA^k!* 




"V.'X 



1 ^^*»'' *^ ■ 



the demand for the market. Sea Gulls along the coast, Terns, Grebes, Ducks, Geese, and 
others in the West were in imminent danger from this cause. vSo the National Association 
of Audubon Societies began to look for breeding places of Ducks and other birds in the West. 
Examination was made in various parts of the country and many more bird reservations 
were the result. When President Roosevelt went out of office, we had thirty-eight bird 
reserves. President Taft took an interest in the subject and also segregated quite a number. 
One of the largest of these bird-sanctuaries is the delta of the Yukon, which is as large as the 
State of Connecticut. 

One bird reserve was created in the 
western group of the Hawaiian Islands, 
including the Laysan Island. This, by the 
way, was raided in the summer of 1915 by 
Japanese feather hunters. The Pribilof 
Islands were also made a reserve, as well as 
the Aleutian Chain. There are to-day 
seventy United States bird-reserves in 
all. At first the Government made no 
appropriation to protect and guard these 
birds. Therefore, it became the duty of the 
Audubon Society to ask for aid from its 
members and friends who were willing to 
give money for an idea — people willing to 
provide funds to protect Egrets in Florida 
or Cormorants and Gulls on the Three-Arch 
Rocks in Oregon, whether or not they could 
ever hope to see personally the sanctuaries. 
After the lapse of si.K years, the Government 
made a small grant for the purpose, 
although, to-day, the Audubon Society 
owns and operates the patrol launches on 
the Government reserves, and still helps to 
pay the salaries of some of the wardens. 
The Government is appropriating more 
money each year to this work, and the 
gentlemen of the Biological Survey who 
have the work in charge are exercising 
every means at their command to success- 
fully protect the birds. 

President Wilson made the Panama 
Canal Zone a bird-reserve in 1913. There 
are many bird-reserves which the Audubon 
Society is protecting that are not on 
Governinent territory. These are cared for 
by the Society's paid agents. The islands 

along the coast of Maine are great breeding places for sea-fowl of various kinds. There are 
forty-two islands where they nest, and there are sixteen Audubon wardens in service there in 
summer. The Society also has wardens guarding islands along the coasts of Connecticut, 
New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina. There are still others in Florida and Louisiana. 
About sixty important colonies of water-birds are pnrtected by the Audubon Society in the 
southern states. It has been able to buy some and to lease others. In some cases merely the 
consent of the owners is obtained. The result is that certain water-birds on the Atlantic 
coast, such as Herring Gulls and several species of Terns, have come back in great numbers. 
\'oL. 1 — 2 






■ '.'I, " 




T. GILBERT PEARSON PHOTOGRAPHJNG YOUNG 
HERONS 

In the marshes of Klamath Lake, Oregon 



xviii BIRDS OF AMERICA 

The Audubon Society is trying to guard the Egrets in the South and we know of about 
twenty thousand of these birds left in the United States. Two of the Society's agents, while 
on guard, have been shot and killed by plume-hunters, and the colonies have been raided 
and the plumes sent to New York. 

In North America the great nursery for wild Ducks and Geese is the region between the 
Great Lakes and Hudson Bay on the east and the Rocky Mountains on the west. There 
are three great flights of Ducks and Geese in autumn from that section of the country. Those 
heading for the Atlantic Seaboard chiefly cross the States diagonally, reaching the Atlantic 
Coast about Maryland. In a reactionary migratory movement, many of them go back along 
the coast at least to Long Island and swing back and forth, according to weather conditions. 
The other end of this movement goes down the coast. There is also a great flight down the 
Mississippi Valley. Under the migratory bird laws, the Mississippi, between Memphis and 
St. Paul, is a reservation. In the sunken ground of Arkansas there are two large bird-reserves, 
and on one of these many Ducks find a refuge. This was a famous place for market hunters 
in days gone by. More than 300,000 Ducks were taken there in one year. Another larger 
series of bird-reservations is situated in the State of Louisiana. These include 234,000 acres 
of marsh-land, where numbers of Ducks and Geese now find a safe refuge. These reserva- 
tions were made by the private purchase of Charles Willis Ward, E. A. Mcllhenny, Mrs. 
Russell Sage, and the Rockefeller Foundation. 

This widespread interest in birds both on the part of the Government and private indi- 
viduals has had happy results. Not only are our birds protected, but unusual opportunity 
has been given to study them. The advance in field work, coupled with the constant 
improvement of photography, has obtained results little short of astounding. 

When the present work on Birds of America was projected, some months ago, we of 
the editorial board began as a first move, to take stock of the situation. We felt that the 
time was at last ripe for a new book on the subject that should be a final repository of all 
this vast treasure of scattered information. Patient field ornithologists, on the one hand, 
and laboratory naturalists, on the other, had given us wonderfully rich material which only 
awaited assembling. The task even ten years ago would have proved far more difficult. 
What was clearly needed, was to make a thorough canvass of the field and produce a work 
at once popular and scientific, and at the same time comprehensive — a record of our wild 
birds prepared in such form as to meet the needs of both the laymen and the trained 
naturalist. Ornithologists all over the country heartily endorsed the project; indeed we 
have seldom seen a work which aroused more enthusiasm in the doing than Birds of America. 
The official check list of the American Ornithologists' Union has been followed for classi- 
fication, and we have included not only our common living birds as found to-day, but also 
many rarer forms and some recently extinct, such as the Passenger Pigeon. We have tried, 
in a word, to present a complete picture and story of our feathered wild bird life. 




ORDER OF DIVING BIRDS 

Order Pygopodes 

OST aquatic of all our birds are the Diving Birds. Not only are their bodies 
made so that they can propel themselves on land only with difficulty, but their 
food consists entirely of fish and other aquatic animals. Their flesh is coarse 
and unpalatable. They are the lowest form of bird life and are the most 
i \l>^M^< closely allied to the reptiles, from which birds are supposed to have originated. 
Birds of this order spend nearly their entire time in the water. Thev nest 
on the ground or on rocks. The young are covered with down when hatched, 
and as soon as this natal down is dry they are able to take to the water. 

The scientific name given to this order, Pygopodes, is from two Greek 
words meaning " rump " and "foot," and refers to the position of the legs 
in relation to the rest of the body — a characteristic peculiar to this order. 
The tibia or drumstick is buried beneath the skin and feathers, bringing the heel joint close to 
the tail. The birds, therefore, sit or stand in an almost perpendicular position, and walk 
with great difficulty and awkwardness. The toes are either webbed or broadly lobed. Both 
body and neck are elongated, giving a boat-shaped appearance to the bird. The bill is 
homy and pointed and has no pouch ; it can be opened very wide. The wings are very 
short, scarcely reaching the base of the tail. The latter is never long, and sometimes it is 
so rudimentary as to make the bird appear tailless. The plumage is dense, and there is no 
sexual variation in color. The body is almost entirely encased in a layer of fat. 

According to the development of the tail, the Diving Birds are divided into two sub- 
orders: the first is the Colyinbi, and contains the one family of Grebes; and the second is the 
Cepphi, and contains two families, the Loons and the Auks, Murres, and Puffins. 




GREBES 

Order Pygopodes: suborder Colyiubi: family ('olyujbidcr 

HE Grebes are much less pronounced, and consequently less interesting bird 
characters, than are the Loons, though both families have some of the same 
physical characteristics, notably skill in the water and clumsiness on land. 
They are smaller than the Loons and are more likely to be found in inland 
bodies of fresh water, though their migrations take them to the sea where 
they are by no means entirely out of their element. Like the Loons, when 
pursued the Grebes tr>' to escajje by diving and swimming under water, where 
they propel themselves by their feet; and generally they show decided dis- 
inclination to take to their wings, though they are swift and strong flyers. 
Grebes undoubtedly dive with remarkable quickness, but, as in the case of 
the Loons (and for the same reasons), their cleverness in this operation has 
been much exaggerated, as at any reasonable distance they are quite unable to dodge a rifle 
bullet, especially if it be propelled by smokeless powder. 

Grebes have feet which are lobate, that is, each toe has one or more separate mem- 
branes which are joined only at the base. The toes are flattened and the nails short and 
round. The shanks are so flattened as to be nearly blade-like. The bill, which is cone- 
shajjed, is about the length of the head. The head is generally rufTed or crested, at least 
in the breeding season, and the neck long. The wings are short and the tail is invisible. 
The plumage is compact, smooth, and rather hair-like; when well dressed by the bird it is 
absolutely waterproof, and, therefore, Grebes, though water birds, are never wet. The 

III 




2 BIRDS OF AMERICA 

extreme posterior position of the legs causes the birds to sit up hke Penguins. On land they 
sometimes progress on their bellies after the manner of seals. In flight the feet are extended 
backward and serve as a rudder, as the tail would in another bird. 

A dense, matted, raft-like structure, made of rushes and the like, and often floating, 
but usually anchored to some aquatic plant, forms the nest of these strange birds. On this 
platform are laid from two to nine eggs of dull white or greenish-white. The nest is always 
damp and the eggs sometimes are hatched when they actually are partly covered with water. 
" When out of the shell," says one observer, " the young has not far to walk; he looks for 
a few moments over the edge of his water-drenched cradle and down he goes with the expert- 
ness of an old diver." Grebes usually are gregarious. When incubation of the full number 
of eggs has actually begun, the sitting bird upon leaving the nest (unless she is frightened 
away) completely conceals the eggs with moss and rushes. 

Few birds have suffered more from the millinery trade than have the Grebes, whose 
dense and beautiful breast plumage has been much used for decorating hats. Legislation 
of various kinds curbs this barbaric practice in many parts of the country. 




\ 



J 



Photo by W . L. Finley and H. T. Bohlman 

WESTERN GREBE 

The most remarkable point about the food habits of Grebes is that the stomachs almost 
invariably contain a considerable mass of feathers. Feathers are fed to the young, and 
there is no question that they play some essential though unknown part in the digestive 
economy. As they are finely ground in the gizzards it is probable that finally they are 
digested and the available nutriment assimilated. Feathers constituted practically 66 per 
cent, of the contents of the 57 Horned Grebe's stomachs examined. However, it is not likely 
that they furnish a very large percentage of the nourishment needed by the birds. As the 
nutritive value of the feathers is unknown, this part of the stomach contents is ignored. The 
other items of food are assigned 100 per cent., and the percentages are given on that basis. 
Various beetles, chiefly aquatic, compose 23.3 per cent, of the food; other insects (including 
aquatic bugs, caddis and chironomid larvse, dragon-fly nymphs, etc.), nearly 12 per cent.; 
fishes, 27.8 per cent.; crawfish 20.7 per cent.; and other Crustacea 13.8 per cent. A little 
other animal matter is taken, including snails and spiders, and a small quantity of vege- 
table food was found in two stomachs. 



GREBES 3 

It has been claimed that Grebes Uve exclusively on fish and do mischief in fish 
hatcheries. The results obtained by stomach examination show that they do not depend 
wholly or even ehiefiv upon fish. On the contrary, they eat a large number of crawfishes, 
whicli often severely damage crops, and consume numlicrs of aquatic insects which devour 
small fishes and the food of such fishes. 



WESTERN GREBE 



A. O I 

.ffichmophorus occ 

Other Names. — Western Dabchick ; Swan Grebe. 

General Description. — Length. J4 to jg inches. 
Color above, brownish-black; below, satiny-white. Head 
with short crest on top but none on sides; bill, slender; 
neck nearly the length of the body. 

Color. — Adults: Forehead, dark ash; crest and 
narrow line down back of neck, sooty-blackish shading 
on upper parts into brownish-black; the feathers of back 
with grayish margins ; primaries, dusky -brown, white 
at base ; secondaries, white, some dark on outer webs ; 
sides of head, chin, throat, and entire under parts, pure 
satiny-white ; bill, yellowish-olive ; feet, dull olive, yel- 
lowish on webs; outer edge and soles of feet, blackish; 
iris, orange, pink, or carmine with a white ring ; a 
narrow bare space from bill to eye, lavender. 



Xunitier i 

identalis { La-i^rcncr) 

Nest and Eggs. — Xest: A matted structure of tule 
stcni>, gras^. and water-plants, witli a slight depres- 
sion in the center ; afloat on the water ; usually lightly 
fastened to the living reeds so that it will move up and 
down but not be carried away from its position. E(,r.s : 
Sometimes 3 but usually 4 or 5. pale bluish-green but 
stained a light brown from contact with the decom- 
posed vegetable matter of the nest. 

Distribution. — Western North .America ; breeds from 
British Columbia, soutliern Saskatchewan, southern 
AllK-rta, and southern Manitoba south to northern Cali- 
fornia. Utah, and northern North Dakota ; winters from 
southern British Columbia and California southward 
to central Mexico ; casual east to Nebraska, Kansas, 
Wisconsin. Minnesota, and Quebec. 



For years, the lake region of sotithcni Ore- 
gon was tile most protitable held in the W est for 
the i)lume hunter. The W estern Grebe was the 
greatest sufferer. This diver of glistening-white 
breast and silvery-gray back was sought not 
without reason. The Grebe hunters call the skin 
of this bird fur rather than feathers, because it 
is so tough it can be scraped and handled like a 
hide, and because the thick warm plumage seems 
more like the fur of a mammal than the skin of 
a bird. These skins, when prepared and placed 
on th.c market iit the form of coats and capes, 
brought the prices of the most expensive furs. 

Formerly there were immense colonies of 
Western Grebes living along the north shore of 
Tule, or Rhett, Lake, Lower Klamath Lake, and 
Malheur Lake, flume hunters, however, sotight 
out these big colonies and shot great numbers of 
the birds during the nesting season, leaving the 
eggs to spoil and the young to starve to death. 
This decreased the inimbers so rapidly that within 
a few seasons tlie birds were exterminated in 
places. 

Malheur Lake is a large body of shallow water 
surrounded on all sides by great stretches of 
tules. The whole border is a veritable jungle, 
an almost endless area of floating tule islands 
between which is a network of channels. Here is 
the typical home of the Western Grebe. In the 
edge of the tules, the Grebe gathers tule stems 
and other vegetation, making a floating raft 




Photo by F. M. Chapman Courtesy "f N'at. .\sso. Aud. Soc. 
TWO WESTERN GREBES JUST HATCHED 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



which is anchored. Around the edges of one of 
these islands, which was two acres in extent, we 
found between forty and fifty nests. The usual 
number of eggs was four or five. 

On several occasions, we watched a Grebe 
chick cut his way out of the shell and liberate 
himself. After he gets his bill through in one 
place, he goes at the task like clockwork. He 
turns himself a little and begins hammering in 
a new place and keeps this up until he has made 
a complete revolution in his shell. The end or 
cap of the egg, cut clear around, drops ofif, and 
the youngster kicks himself out into the sunshine. 
It doesn't take his coat long to dry. 



The Grebe parents have an interesting way of 
taking their young with them. The chicks ride 
on the back of the mother or father just under 
the wing-coverts with the head sticking out. 
Sometimes one may see an old Grebe carrying 
two or three young on his back. At the slightest 
alarm, the old bird raises the feathers and covers 
the chicks completely. One can readily tell when 
a Grebe has chicks on his back, even if not 
visible, because he ajipears to swim higher in 
the water. Normally, the body is almost sub- 
merged. An old Grebe not only swims, but dives 
readily, keeping the young in place on his back. 

William L. Finley. 



HOLBCELL'S GREBE 

Colymbus holboelli { Rciiihardf) 

A. O. U. Xumher 2 See t'olor 1'l.Tte I 



Other Names. — .\merican Red-necked Grche; Red- 
necked drebe; Hcdhpell's Diver. 

General Description. — Length, 19 inches. In Si'm- 
mer: Glossy greenish-black above, and silvery-white 
below. In Wi.nter: Grayish-brown above, and gray- 
ish-white below. Neck shorter than body ; bill, nearly 
as long as head ; crest lacking or inconspicuous. Largest 
of the Grebes. 

Color. — .•\dults in Summer: Crozvn, back of urck, 
and nf>pcr t^arts, glossy cjrccnish-black. darker on head, 
more brownish on back where the feathers are edged 
with grayish ; wing-coverts and primaries, dusky-brown ; 
secondaries, white with brown tips and black shafts; 
a broad area including chin, throat, and sides of head, 
sik'cry-gray, lightening along juncture with black of 
crown ; rest of neck and upper part of breast, deep 
brownish-rufous; under parts, silvery-white shaded 
along sides with pale ash. each feather with a dark 
shaft line and terminal spot, producing a dappled effect; 



bill, dusky, yellow below and at base ; iris, carmine with 
a white ring. .A.DULTS in Winter, .\nd Young: Crown, 
neck all around, and upper parts, grayish-brown, the 
feathers of back with lighter edges ; sides of head and 
throat, whitisli ; under parts, grayish-white, the mottling 
of summer plumage obsolete; bill, obscured but showing 
some pale yellow below ; iris, as in summer. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: .Attached to live rushes; 
constructed of reeds, decayed vegetable matter, grass, 
and mud. Ecgs : 3 to 5, dull white, usually soiled with 
brownish. 

Distribution. — North America at large, eastern 
.Siberia, and southwest to Japan ; breeds from north- 
western Alaska across British America to northern 
Ungava, south to northern Washington, Montana, and 
southwestern Minnesota; common throughout the 
United States in winter; south to southern California, 
southern Colorado, the Ohio valley and North Carolina ; 
casual in Georgia and Greenland. 



-Some Grebes colonize in breeding, as do the 
Western and Eared Grebes. In Holboell's Grebe, 
however, we have the one large species of North 
America which is distinctly a lover of personal 
solitude. Its breeding grounds, or perhaps more 
properly waters, are the sloughs and marshes of 
the northwest States and Canadian provinces. 
Here, in the deep bogs, it places its soggy semi- 
floating pile of decaying vegetation amid the areas 
of reeds or canes growing from the water. One 
can seldom see the brooding bird on the nest. 
On being approached she hastily pulls debris 



over the three or four dirty-white eggs, com- 
pletely covering them, then slips into the water 
and dives, showing herself no more until the in- 
truder has surely vanished. 

During the breeding season these Grebes are 
very noisy. The male (probably it is he) swims 
into the open water of the lakes, if such there be, 
and emits the most astonishing succession of 
yells and waitings, which probably are the happy 
expression of the torrent of his tender emotions, 
though to our ears they may rather resemble cries 
of distress. Later in the season he gets bravely 



GREBES 



over such manifestations of weakness, and is 
silent enough for anyone. Then he is usually seen 
" bv his lonesome," out on some body of water, 
frequently on the ocean, well off the beach, where 
he can exercise to fine advantage his really great 
powers of diving. 

Holbcell's Grebes are hardy birds, and often 
winter as far to the north as they can find open 
water, and are frequent in winter along our North 
Atlantic coast. They have a fatal tendency to 
linger too late in the northern lakes, and thus 
they get caught in the ice, or, driven to fly south, 
cannot find open water, and fall exhausted on 
the land or into snow banks. This is notably 
the case in the month of Alarch, when they 
migrate north earlier than is safe. Since they 
cannot ri:.e on wing except from water, as their 
wings are small, many of them perish out of 
their element. It is a common occurrence for 
farmers and others to pick them up in fields or 
roads, helplessly waddling about on legs set too 
far " aft " to make them handv ashore. Rut in 



the water there is no bird more swift and facile, 
better able to take care of itself, more able in the 
pursuit of the small fry which constitute its nor- 
mal nre\'. 




Photo by H. K. J. 



NEST OF HOLBCELL'S GREBE 



HORNED GREBE 



Colymbus auritus I.iinuciis 

A. O U. -Number j .See Color I'late i 



Other Names. — Hell-diver: Water-witch; Devil- 
divL-r ; Pink-eyed Diver : Dipper. 

General Description. — Length. 14 inches. Color 
abo\ e, yrayish-brown or dusky-gray ; below, white. In 
summer, adults have crests or ruffs on cheeks and 
sides of head. 

Color, — Adults in Sum.mer: Crown, chin, throat 
and crest, c/lossy grcriiisli-hlack : a stripe from bill 
through eye and above it, widening behind to nape, 
hro-,vnish-yclh)w: upper parts, grayish-brown ; feathers, 
paler-edged ; primaries, dusky-brown : secondaries, 
zchitc: neck all around (except for dusky stripe behind), 
sides, and flanks, rich brownish-rufous; rest of under 
parts, silky-white ; bill, dusky tipped with yellow ; iris, 
carmine with white ring ; feet, dusky outside, yellow 
inside. Adults in Winter, and Young : Ruff, obsolete ; 



forehead, crown to level of eyes, a narrow strip down 
back of neck and upper parts, dusky-gray ; feathers of 
back with lighter edges ; wings, as in summer ; chin, 
throat, and sides of head, pure silky-white; front of 
neck and lower abdomen, washed with gray; bill, dusky, 
yellowish or bluish-white below. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : A buoyant platform of dead 
reeds, grass, and vegetation. Eccs ; 3 to 7. white. 

Distribution. — Northern part of northern hemi- 
sphere ; breeds from the lower Yukon across British 
America to southern Ungava and the Magdalen Islands, 
south to southern British Coluinbia, across United 
States on about the parallel 45° to Maine; winters from 
southern British Columbia, southern Ontario, and Maine 
south to the Gulf coast and Florida; casual in 
Greenland. 



Horned (irebes are commonly known as 
" Hell-divers " or " W ater-witches," because of 
their facility in disappearing and the mystery as 
to where they go. This species often mvstifies 
the hunter by sinking slowlv backward imtil 
nearly out of sight or by diving and disappearing 
altogether, until the novice is ready to make oath 



that the bird has committed suicide for fear of 
his deadly marksmanship ; but the ( irebe merely 
submerges and swims beneath the surface until 
among the water plants, where it remains se- 
cure with its beak just protruding unnoticed 
above the water, or hidden by some overhang- 
ing leaf. \\'hen wounded it sometimes dives 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



and swims along under water to the cover of 
overhanging vegetation on tlie bank, when it 
creeps ashore unseen and liides amid the verdant 
cover. 




Photo by H. K. Job Courtesy ot Outing Pub. Co. 

HORNED GREBE {Spring Plumage) 



This drebe is one of the quickest of divers, 
often escaping a charge of shot by its activity in 
going under. \Mien alarmed it lies very low in 
the water, and, if it can get its head and neck 
beneath the surface before the shot reaches the 
spot, its vital parts are likely to escape unharmed. 
It frequents small ponds and little streams with 
grassy banks, but where much persecuted by 
gunners seeks the larger lakes or the sea for 
greater safety. Ordinarily in swimming under 
water it does not appear to use its wings, but 
probably all diving birds utilize their wing power 
when in pursuit of elusive prey. Mr. C. \\'. 
\''ibert of South Windsor, Connecticut, kept a 
bird of this species that was seen to raise its 
wings slightly when swimming beneath the sur- 
face. 

When storms prevail at sea in fall and winter 
flocks of Grebes often are driven into the ponds 
of the interior. At such times they may be seen 
asleep on the water in the daytime with the head 
dra\'\'n down on the back and the bill thrust into 
the feathers of the shoulder or breast, keeping 
their place head to the wind by a sort of auto- 
matic paddling. .Sometimes a sleepy bird uses 
only one foot and so swings about in a circle. 
Edward Howe Forbush. 



EARED GREBE 

Colymbus nigricollis californicus (Hccrmann) 

!\. O. U. Number 4 



Other Names. — .•\incricaii Eared Grebe ; Eared Diver. 

General Description. — Length. 12 to 14 inches. 
Color above, dusky ; below, white. In summer adults 
have long, faii-slnif'cd car-tufts of fine feathers. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Ear-tufts, golden- 
broivn ; crown, chin, throat, and neck all around, blade; 
upper parts, dusky ; primaries, dusky ; secondaries, white, 
dusky at base; sides, deep purplish-brown with a wash 
of the same color across breast and on under tail- 
coverts ; under parts, silky white ; abdomen, tinged with 
gray ; bill, black ; feet, olive, dusky outside and on soles ; 
iris, red; eyelids, orange. Adults in Winter: No ear 
tufts; crown and narrow band on back of neck and 



upper parts, grayish-dusky; chin, throat, and sides of 
head, wliite ; under parts, silvery-white: sides and flanks, 
tinged with gray. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : A floating platform of reeds 
and vegetation, on shallow lagoons, ponds, or lakes. 
Eggs : 4 to 6, soiled white. 

Distribution. — Western North .America; breeds 
from Central British Columbia, Great Slave Lake, Sas- 
katchewan, and Manitoba south to southern California, 
northern Arizona, northern Nebraska, and northern 
Iowa; winters from central California southward to 
Cape -San Lucas and Guatemala ; east to Kansas in 
migration; casual in Missouri, Indiana, and Ontario. 



Out on the main part of Malheur Lake in 
southeastern Oregon, we came ujjon a colony of 
Eared Grebes. These birds were nesting well 
out in the open water. I counted one hundred 
and sixty-five nests scattered over an area of 
two or three acres. Some homes were but a few 
feet a])art. The nest itself was a very interest- 



ing structure. It was built entirely of water 
weeds, commonly called milfoil, which grew in 
the shallow water. The nest consisted of the 
long slender runners pulled together from a dis- 
tance of several feet around. It looked to me 
as if these weeds when piled together, would 
sink. On the contrary, I found the nest quite 



GREBES 



buoyant. Long red stems, kept alive by the 
water, often extended to the bottom. In a few 
cases, I found the birds had collected piece :. of 
dry tule stems as a sort of lining to their plat- 
form nests. From a distance, the nest colony 
presented a line of Ijiood-rcd against a back- 
ground of green tales. 

When we approached the Eared Grebe colony. 



paid no attention to this. I watched one bird as 
she pulled up the stems out of the water and 
from the lining of the nest covering her eggs 
comjiletely, so when we came near, there was not 
an egg in sight. I do not know whether this 
habit develops more from the idea of protecting 
the eggs from enemies, or from the idea of keep- 
ing them warm when the mother is away. The 




Photu by W. L. Finlcy and H. T. Bohlman 






EARED GREBE (Spring Plumage) 
Though a water-bird, it is never wet 



everything was bustle and hurry. The birds were 
trying to cover their eggs before leaving. It 
seemed to be a habit in this colony to cover the 
eggs, while the Western Grebe on the same lake 



eggs often lie partly in the water. The sun, I 
think, helps a good deal in hatching the eggs 
during the day, the bird keeping a more careful 
vigil at night. William L. Finley. 



PIED-BILLED GREBE 

Podilymbus podiceps ( Liiuuciis) 

A. O. U. Xuniber (> See Color Plate i 



Other Names. — Hell-diver ; Devil-diver ; Water- 
witch ; Dabchick ; American Dahchick : Pied-hilled Dab- 
chick; Dipper; Diedapper ; Didapper ; Divedapper ; 
Carolina Grebe; Thick-billed Grebe. 

General Description. — Length, 13 inches. Color 
aliove, brownish-hlack ; below, lighter brown and white. 
Bill, short and thick; no crests. 



Color. — Adults: Crown, back of head, and neck, 
grayish-black streaked with lighter; upper parts, brown- 
ish-black; sides of head and neck, brownish-gray; chin 
and throat, black; primaries and sccouiiarics, dutcolatc- 
I'l-D'cn: hi'hni'. pale hroii.'ni.tli-ash, thickly mottled with 
dusky on sides ; lower abdomen, mostly dusky ; bill, 
jvhitish, dusky on ridge and tip xvilh a black encircling 



8 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



band a little forward of the center ; feet, greenish- 
dusky outside, leaden-gray inside ; iris, brown ; eyelids, 
whitish. Adults in Winter: General coloration on 
head and upper parts more brownish than in summer ; 
the feathers of back with paler edges ; neck, breast, 
and sides, light brown mottled with dusky ; under parts, 
pure silky white ; lower abdomen, grayish. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: A floating structure of dead 



grass, reeds, mud, and vegetable matter, unattached or 
fastened to living rushes. Eggs : 6 to 9. white, some- 
times tinged with greenish. 

Distribution. — North and South America ; breeds 
from ISritish Columbia, southern Mackenzie, southern 
Keewatin, Quebec, and New Brunswick southward to 
Chile and Argentina; winters from Washington, Texas, 
Mississippi, and the Potomac valley southward. 



The Pied-billed Grebe is the most widely dis- appointed Hawk has gone his way. As a diver 

tributed of the American Grebes and in the it has few equals in the bird world. Many 

United States is the only one that breeds over times, especially in the days when muzzle-loading 

most of the region east of the Mississip]i!. It shotguns were still in vogue, I have seen it 




Drawing by R. I. Braslier 

PIED-BILLED GREBE (J nat. size) 
A more accomplished swimmer than any Duck 



is at home in the water to an astonishing degree, 
in fact " Water-witch " is one of the favorite 
local names by which it is known. It is a more 
accomplished swimmer than any Duck of which 
I have knowledge, for it possesses the wonderful 
faculty of lowering its body in the water to any 
desired stage of submersion, and this it can do 
either while swimming or while remaining sta- 
tionary, as may suit its fancy. At times only the 
bill and eyes will appear above the surface, and in 
this attitude it can remain apparently without 
distress until the bewildered hunter or the dis- 



dive at the flash of discharge and be safely be- 
neath the surface before the death-seeking shot 
came over the water. " Hell-diver," by the way, 
is another name applied to Grebes as well as to 
Loons. 

The remarkable nest made by this species is 
quite in keeping with its other unusual and se- 
cretive characteristics. It is made of decaying 
vegetation brought up from the bottom of the 
shallow pond where it breeds. This unattractive 
mass is usually piled on a platform of green 
stems of water plants, which, because of their 



GREBES 



fresh condition, will readily float and are of suffi- 
cient buoyancy to bear the \vei,i,''ht of the ne'^t, the 
eggs, and the brooding bird. In Morida, where 
I have examined perhaps fifty of their nests, I 
never found more than six eggs in any one of 
them, but observers farther north speak of finding 
as many as eight and nine. In color they are dull 
white, unspotted, but sometimes tinged with 
greenish, and always soiled or stained. 

When leaving its nest the Grebe jjulls the 
water-soaked material well over tlie eggs, so that 
usually they are completely hiddeii from view. 
While in this condition anyone not acquainted 
with the nesting habits of the bird w^ould surely 
pass it by unnoticed, never dreaming that in that 
little mass of floating, rotting water-jjlants the 
cherished treasures of a wild bird lay concealed. 

.\udubon said that the food of the Pied-billed 
Grebe " consists of small fry, plant-seeds, aquatic 



insects, and snails ; along with this they swallow- 
gravel." Wayne writes: " FOuring the breeding 
season, the food consists mainlv of leeches." 
They should never be shot, for they are worse 
than useless for food. They certainlv do no 
harm, and an ever-increasing class of bird-stu- 
dents take much pleasure in spying upon their 
'Uteresting movements. 

They have many enemies, among which mav be 
mentioned minks, fish, frogs, snakes, and musk- 
rats. Birds of prey undoubtedly take their share. 
One day with much labor I climbed an enormous 
[)ine tree to a nest of the Bald Eagle around 
which the old birds were circling. Upon reach- 
ing it after a ])rolonged and heart-breaking efl^ort 
I found it to contain only one object — a Pied- 
billed Grebe, with its feathers still damp and the 
lilood spots on its head but half dried. 

T. Gilbert Pe.xkso.x. 




PIED-BILLED GREBE 
Swimming up to its newly hatched young that has struggled from the nest 



lO 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 




LOONS 

Order Pygopodcs; suborder Ccpplii: family Gaviidcc 

S a family the Loons of the present seem to be very much the same kind of 
birds as were those of which we have fossil remains in strata representing 
what the geologists call the Miocene Epoch of the Tertiary Period. They 
are birds of considerable size, and are famous especially for their skill and 
swiftness in swimming and diving and for their weird and unearthly cries. 
Their quickness in diving to escape danger is truly astonishing, and has, nat- 
urally enough, furnished occasion for frequent exaggeration, also excuses for 
much bad shooting by gunners who assert that they held true, but the Loon 
" dodged the shot." They have a peculiar faculty of sinking gradually in 
the water without apparent effort and with little or no rippling of the surface 
of the water. 



Sumn 



Winter 




Drawing by R, I. Braslicr 



LOON 1 b nac. size 
A clumsy, awkward traveler upon land, but almost unexcelled as a dive." 



Loons take wing with considerable difficulty, but once in the air their flight is swift 
and usually in a straight line. At all times the sexes present the same general appearance. 
Their prevailing colors are blackish or grayish above, with the under parts whitish ; in summer 
the darker parts become speckled with white. These markings do not appear in the young 
nor in the winter plumage of the adults; the very young are covered with a sooty grayish 
down, changing to white on the lower abdomen. The head is never crested, but both head 
and neck are velvety. The plumage of the body is hard and compact. The wings are 
pointed, short, and rather narrow. The eighteen or twenty tail feathers are short and stiff. 
The hind toe is small and the front toes are fully webbed. The bill is stout, straight, narrow, 
sharp-pointed, and sharp-edged; it is so constructed that it serves as a spear for catching 
and holding the slippery fish which are the bird's chief diet. 

Though related to the Auks, which show a highly developed gregarious instinct, the 
Loons are essentially solitan,^ birds, and commonly are found singly or in pairs. The for- 
mation of ice in their natural habitats, however, at times forces a considerable number of 
individuals to occupy the same comparatively small stretches of open water. 

The distribution of the Loons is circumpolar, and the single genus includes five species. 
In the breeding period they occur generally in the cooler regions of the northern hemisphere, 
and frequently some distance north of the Arctic Circle; in winter they scatter southward 




•a 

IH 
5 



J3 
H 



ll'J 



12 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



into the temperate regions, especially along the seacoasts. The nests are rude structures, 
composed of moss and grass sometimes plastered with a little mud, and are built on the 
ground usually along the shore of a lake and frequently on top of the abandoned lodge of a 
muskrat. The birds seem to make no attempt to hide their nests, but the two eggs, by reason 
of their olive or brownish shades, which are broken by blackish or brownish spots, are 
decidedly inconspicuous. 

The cry of the Loon has been variously described as mournful, mirthful, sinister, defiant, 
uncanny, demoniacal, and so on. At any rate, it is undeniably distinctive and character- 
istic, and is almost certain to challenge the dullest ear and the most inert imagination, while 
in those who know instinctively the voices of Nature, especially when she is frankly and 
unrestrainedly natural, it produces a thrill and elicits a response which only the elect 
understand. 



LOON 
Gavia immer { Brihinich) 

A. O. U. Number 7 See Color I'late j 



Other Names. — Common Loon ; Big Loon ; Great 
Northern Diver ; Imber Diver ; Hell-diver ; Ember- 
Goose ; Walloon ; Ring-necked Loon ; Black-billed Loon ; 
Guinea Duck ; Greenhead. 

General Description. — Length, 28 to 36 inches. In 
Summer: Upper parts, glossy black with white spots; 
under parts, white. In Winter; Upper parts, grayish- 
brown without spots. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Head and neck all 
around, glossy purplish-black with greenish reflections ; 
a patch of sharp white streaks on lower throat ; another 
of the same kind on each side of neck, separated in 
front, but sometimes meeting behind ; cjitirc upper parts, 
wiiic/'covcrts, and inner secondaries, glossy black, 
thickly marked luith ivhitc spots — those of shoulders, 
inner secondaries, and back, large, square, and regu- 
larly arranged traversely, those of other parts oval, 
smallest on rump and wing-coverts ; upper tail-coverts, 
greenish-black; primaries, dusky; lower parts from 
neck, li'hite: sides of breast, streaked with black; bill 
and feet, black; iris, red. .\dults in Winter. .\nd 



Young: Crown, neck and upper parts, in general, gray- 
ish-brown, the feathers of hack with lighter edges; 
primaries, black; tail, gray-tipped; sides of breast, 
mottled; chin, throat, and neck in front (narrowly), 
and under parts, white with some dark feathers on sides 
and under tail-coverts, thus no black or white spots; 
bill, dusky, bluish-white at base and below ; feet, lighter 
than in summer ; iris, brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: Usually 
sand, without nesting material; in 
rough nest is constructed of sticks and reeds; occa- 
sionally the top of an old muskrat house is utilized. 
Eggs : 2, dark olive-gray, stained 
spotted with black. 

Distribution. — -Northern part of 
sphere; in North .*\merica breeds from Alaska across 
Arctic North America to Greenland, south to northern 
California, across the United States at about the paral- 
lel 42° to Nova Scotia; winters from southern British 
Columbia, the Great Lakes, and southern New England 
to Lower California, the Gulf coast, and Florida. 



a hollow in the 
some localities a 



with brown and 



northern hemi- 



Of all the wild creatures which still persist 
in the land, despite settlement and civilization, the 
Loon seems best to typify the untamed savagery 
of the wilderness. Its wolf-like cry is the wildest 
sound now heard in Massachusetts, where na- 
ture has long been subdued by the rifle, ax, and 
plow. Sometimes at sea, when I have heard the 
call of the Loon from afar, and seen its white 
breast flash from the crest of a distant wave, 1 
have imagined it the signal and call for help of 
some strong swimmer, battling with the waves. 

It is generally believed that in migration at 
least the Loon passes the night ttpon the sea or 
the bosom of some lake or river. The Gulls, 



Auks, Puffins, and Cormorants, which live upon 
the sea, usually alight upon the high shores of 
some rocky island or on some lonely sand bar 
at night, btit the Loon is often seen at sea when 
night falls, and its cries are heard by the sailors 
during the hotirs of darkness. Notwithstanding 
the general belief that it normally sleeps on the 
water, I believe that it jirefers to rest on shore 
at night, when it can safely do so. Audubon 
satisfied himself that on its breeding grotinds it 
was accustomed to spend the night on shore. On 
an island oif the coast of British Columbia, 
where there was no one to trouble the birds, I 
once saw, just at nightfall, a pair of Loons 



I' !; :t^i;.»?- 




^'. 



M 






; O e o; 

S IS 

o =„.. 



LOONS 



13 



resting flat on their breasts at the end of a long 
sandy point. Cripples instinctively seek the 
shore when sorely wounded, but on our coast a 
Loon must keep well ofT shore to insure its safety, 
and probably few but cripples ever land on shores 
frequented by man. 

The Loon's nest is usually a mere hollow in 
the bog or shore near the water's edge on some 
island in a lake or pond. Sometimes the nest is 
lined with grasses and bits of turf : more rarely 
it is a mere depression on the top of a muskrat's 
house, and more rarely still ft is placed on the 
shore of the lake or in some debduchhig sli'cam. 
Where the birds are not much disturbed, and 
where food is plentiful, two or three pairs some- 
times nest on the same inland. No doubt there 
was a time when nearly every northern pond of 
more than a few acres contained its pair of 
Loons, in the breeding season, and this is true 
to-dav of ponds in parts of some Canadian Prov- 
inces. The nest is usually so near the margin 
that the bird can spring directly into the water, 
but sometimes in summer the water recedes until 
the nest is left some dibtance inland. 

The Loon is a clumsy, awkward traveler upon 
land, where, when hurried, it flounders forward, 
using both wings and feet, .\udubon, liowever, 
says that his son, J. W. Audubon, winged a Loon 
which ran about one hiuidred yards and reached 
the water before it was overtaken, lis usual 
method of taking to the water from its nest is 
by plunging forward and sliding on its breast. 
It cannot rise from the land, hence the necessity 
of having the nest at the water's edge. 

When the young are hatched the mother carries 
them about on her back a few days, after which 
they remain afloat much of the time until they 
are fully grown. If food becomes scarce in their 
native pond they sometimes leave it and travel 
overland to another. Dr. James P. Hatch of 
Si^ringfield, Mass., says that early in the morning 
the parents and the well-grown voung run races 
on the lake, using their broad paddles for pro- 
pulsion and their half-extended wings for partial 
su])port. Starting all together they race down 
the lake, and then, turning, rush back to their 
starting point. Such exercise-- nn rioubt 
strengthen the young birds for the long flights to 
come. 

The Loon finds some difficulty in rising from 
the water, and is obliged to run along the sur- 
face, flapjiing its short wings, until it gets impetus 
enough to rise. It is said that it cannot rise at 
all unless there is wind to assist it. lt>< groat 
weight (from eight to nearly twelve pounds) 
and its short wings make flight laborious, but its 



rapid wing-beats carry it through the air at great 
speed. When it alights it often shoots spirally 
down from a great height, and plunges into the 
water like an arrow from a bow. It lands with 
a splash, and shoots along the surface until its 
impetus is arrested by the resistance of the water. 

The Loon is almost unexcelled as a diver. It 
is supposed to be able to disappear so suddenly 
at the flash of a rifle as to dodge the bullet, 
unless the shooter is at point-l)lank range, but 
when two or three crack shots surround a small 
pond in which a Loon is resting it can usually be 
secured by good strategy. I once saw a Loon 
killed on the water with .a shotgun, but the bird 
was taken at a disadvantage. It was on the 
Banana River, Fla., in January. 1900. and it had 
followed the fish (which were then very numer- 
ous) into the shallow water near the shore. 
Shoals extended out from ihe shore fullv three 
hundred yards, so that the bird, in diving and 
swimming under water, could not use its wings to 
advantage. It was much impeded by the shoals 
and the vegetation on the bottom, and in swim- 
ming was so near the surface that its course could 
be followed readily by the ripple that it made. 
Two strong rowers were thus enabled to follow 
and overtake it. It escaped the first charge of 
shot, but its pursuers came so close the second 
time that the shot went home. In deep water, 
where the bird can use its wings and fly under 
water like a bolt from a crossbow, it can easily 
elude a boat. In old times the gunner used to 
" toll " the Loon within gunshot by concealing 
himself and waving a brightly colored handker- 
chief, while imitating the bird's call. But this 
will rarely succeed to-day in luring one within 
reach of a shotgun. 

Loons are rather solitary in the autumn mi- 
gration. They leave their northern homes and 
some begin to move southward in September, 
but many remain in the northern lakes until the 
ice comes. They move south along the larger 
rivers of the interior, but most of those near the 
Atlantic take the sea as their highway. 

The Loon feeds very largely on fish. As it 
rests lightlv on the surface it frccpiently thrusts 
its head into the water and looks about in search 
of its prev. When pursuing swift fish under 
water it often uses its wings, by means of which 
it can overtake the swiftest. This has been re- 
peatedly observed. ll can travel much faster 
under water in this manner than it can on the 
surface by use of the feet alone. 

EDW.^KD ITnwK Forrush, in Game Birds, 
IVild-Fo7i'l and Shore Birds. 



H 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



The Yellow-billed Loon, {Gaz'ia adaiiisi) 
^^'hite-billed Loon, or Adams's Loon, as it is 
variously called, is of the same general colora- 
tion as the Common Loon. The throat and neck 
patches, however, are smaller and the bill, which 
is larger and differently shaped, is pale yellowish 
white. It is subject to corresponding seasonal 
changes. 

It breeds in northern Siberia, on the islands 



north of Europe, and in North America from 
northwestern Alaska, northern Mackensie, and 
Boothia Peninsula south to the mouth of the 
Yukon and to Great Slave Lake. Its nests and 
eggs, as far as known, are similar to those of the 
more familar Loon. In migration the Yellow- 
billed is found a little south of its breeding range, 
and sijeciniens have been reported from Colorado 
and Greenland. 



BLACK-THROATED LOON 
Gavia arctica {Linuu-us) 

A. O. V. -\umljer 9 ."^ee Color Plate 2 



Other Names. — .Arctic Loon; Arctic Diver; Ulack- 
throated Diver. 

General Description. — Length. 27 to 30 inches. In 
Su.m.mer: Upper parts, glossy greenish-black with 
white spots; lower parts white. In Winter: Upper 
parts, grayish-brown without spots. 

Color. — .Adults in Summer: Chin, throat, and front 
of neck, purplish-black, shading gradually into clear 
soft warm gray of crown, back of head, and hindncck, 
deepest on forehead and face, lightest behind, and sep- 
arated from black of front of neck by white streaks; 
a short crescent of white streaks across upper throat; 
sides of breast and neck striped with pure white and 
glossy black, the black diminishing behind into pure 
white of under parts; upper parts, glossy greenish- 
black- each feather on shoulders and back with two 
whit* square spots near end forming traverse rows ; 
wing-coverts thickly specked with small oval white 
spots ; a narrow dusky band across lower belly ; under 
tail-coverts, with dusky spots ; bill, black ; feet, dusky ; 
iris. red. Adults in Winter, and YouN(i: Upper parts 



of head and neck, dark grayish-brown ; sides of head, 
grayish-white finely streaked with brown ; upper parts, 
hrownish-hlack, feathers ivith broad gray margins, giv- 
ing a scaly appearance : rump, brownish-gray; pri- 
maries and their coverts, brownish-black; secondaries 
and tail-feathers, dusky margined with gray; forepart 
of neck, grayish-white faintly dotted with brown, its 
sides streaked with same ; lower parts, pure white ; 
sides of body and lower tail-coverts, dusky edged with 
bluish-gray; bill, light bluish-gray, dusky on ridge; 
feet, dusky ; iris, brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: A depression in the tundra 
or constructed roughly of decayed vegetation. Eccs ; 
2. cleep anilier to pale greenish-gray. 

Distribution. — Northern part of iiortliern hemi- 
sphere ; breeds from Kotzebue Sound, Alaska, west 
along northern coast of Siberia, on islands north of 
Europe, and from Cumberland Sound south to Ungava ; 
winters in the southern Canadian provinces ; rarely 
south to Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, northern Ohio, and 
Long Island, N. Y. 



The general appearance of the Black-throated 
Loon is like that of its relative, the Common 
Loon, but it is somewhat smaller and not nearly 
so well known in America since it is seldom seen 
south of the northern States. There seems to be 
no reliable record of its appearance south of 
Long Island. Throughout the interior of Nor- 
way and .Sweden and far up into Lapland, it 
breeds quite commonly. It is considered to be of 
rare occurrence in most parts of the British 
Isles, but on the little islands in the fresh-water 
lochs from central Scotland northward, and on 
the Orkney and Shetland islands, may be found 
its nests. 

Its habits also are like those of the larger mem- 



ber of its species. Its progress under water has 
been estiiuated at not less than eight miles an 
hour. 

The Pacific Loon or Pacific Diver ( Gavia 
pacifica ) is confined to the West. It breeds 
from Point Barrow, Banks Land, northern Mac- 
kenzie, and Melville Peninsula, south to the base 
of the Alaskan Peninsula, Great .Slave Lake, 
and central Keewatin and winters along the Paci- 
fic coast from southern British Columbia to 
Lower California, and Guadalupe Island. In 
coloration it is similar to the Black-throated 
Loon, but the gray of the head averages lighter 
and the light spots of the back larger and fewer 
in number. 



LOONS 



RED-THROATED LOON 

Gavia stellata { Poiitoppidaii) 

A. O. U. Xumljcr II See Color I'late j 



Other Names. — Sprat Loon, Kcd-tliroatcd Diver; 
Little Loon; (.ape Race; Cape Racer; Scape-grace. 

General Description. — Lengtii, 2$ inches. Color 
above, brownish-black with white spots ; below, white. 

Color. — .Adults in Summer: Crown and broad stripe 
down back of neck, streaked in about equal amounts 
with glossy greenish-black and white; throat, sidi's of 
head, and sides of neck, clear 'a\inn gray with a tri- 
angular chestnut patch on lozver throat; upper parts, 
brownish-black with a green gloss, thickly spotted with 
dull whitish; primaries, dusky; tail, dusky, narrowly 
tipped with white; under parts, pure white, shaded 
along sides and on under tail-coverts with dusky brown ; 
bill, dusky lead color; feet, black; iris, hazel. Auults 
IN Winter, and Younc: Crown and hindneck, bluish- 
gray; sides of neck, mottled with brownish and white; 
upper parts, brownish-black, ez'eryichere thickly marked 
with small oval and linear spots of ichitish: chin, throat. 



sides of head, white; no colored throat patch; under 
parts, as in summer; amount of spotting variable; in 
young birds spots usually lengthened into oblique lines, 
Iiroducing a rcjular diamond-shaped reticulation. 

Nest and Eggs.— Nest : On banks of small ponds; 
a mere hollow in the ground. Ece.s : 2. from deep 
reddish-brown to grayish-green, thinly spotted with 
brownish-black. 

Distribution.— Northern part of northern hemi- 
sphere; breeds from .•Maska across Arctic .•\merica to 
Greenland, south to Commander Islands, western Aleu- 
tian Islands, Glacier Bay, across British America to 
New Brunswick and Newfoundland; winters from 
southern British Columbia to southern California, and 
from the Great Lakes and Maine to Florida ; rare in 
the interior; breeds also in Arctic Europe and Asia, 
and winters south to the Mediterranean and southern 
China. 



The Red-throated Loon is mainly a salt-water 
bird while it sojourns in Massachusetts, although 
occasionally it is seen on some lake or river. 
Probably, like many other birds, it was oftener 
seen on fresh water in early times than now. It 
is still not uncommon on the Great Lakes, and 
David Brtice of Brockport, N. Y., stated that he 
had found it on Lake Ontario during every month 
of the year. In severe weather, when the lakes 
freeze, this bird, like the Common Loon, is some- 
times taken on the ice, from which it is unable 
to rise, and is easily captured. In autumn it may 
be seen in small jiarties or flocks floating and 
feeding near our coasts. Like Grebes and some 



other water-fowl, it often lies on its side or back 
while afloat, exposing its white under parts while 
engaged in dressing or jireening the plumage. 
This species migrates mainly along the coast in 
autumn, but as it is not so commonly seen there 
in spring, some portion of the flight may go 
north through the interior. 

Its habits are similar to those of the Common 
Loon. It is perhaps equally difficult to shoot on 
the water. When surprised on land it seeks to 
escape by a series of hops or leaps, using both 
wings and feet. 

Edward Howe Forbush, in CaniL- Birds. 
U'ikl-fo:^'! and Shore Bird.s. 




Photo by H. T. Middlctun 



BIRD-STUDYING 



\"lM,. I- 



i6 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



AUKS, MURRES, AND PUFFINS 

Order Pygopodes; suborder Cepphi; family Alcida 



T is a curious and interesting fact that at opposite ends of the earth there 
should be forms of bird-life which, though entirely unrelated and differing 
from each other even in the signal respect that one is equipped with wings and 
uses them, while the other is flightless, nevertheless present similar and some- 
what grotesque physical peculiarities, and much similarity in their habits. 
These birds are the Auks of the Arctic and the Penguins of the Antarctic regions, 
and their external similarity lies in the fact that in both the legs are set so far 
back on the body that the birds assume a man-like posture, and are clumsy 
and uncouth in their appearance on shore. In the water both are expert 
swimmers and divers, though here again they differ in that the Auks use their 
feet in swimming, whereas the Penguins swim entirely with their wings, and 
use their feet only in steering their course. 

The Auks, Murres, and Puffins include diving Arctic sea-birds grouped under the 
scientific name Alcida, and embracing about a dozen genera and some thirty species. All 
members of the family are essentially birds of the Arctic regions, and are especially numerous 
on the Alaskan and Siberian coasts. Though the Auks resemble the Penguins superficially 
and in their habits, anatomically their nearest relatives are the Loons and Grebes. From 
the Loons, however, they differ in lacking a hind toe, and from the Grebes in the possession 
of a well-developed tail. 





Photo by W. L. Fmley and H. T. Bohlman 



TUFTED PUFFIN ON NEST 
Burrow unearthed 



AUKS, AlURRES, AND PUFFINS 17 

The wings are short, but they are used with great efficiency when the birds swim under 
water. In their sitting posture on hind the birds' feet extend horizontally in front, and they 
appear to be resting on their rumps. On the sea they are in their element, and here they 
get all of their food, which includes fish, taken chiefly by pursuit under water, and other 
animal forms. Because of this life their plumage is remarkably thick and dense, and is 
much used by the Eskimos in making clothing. 

In distribution the Auks are very unequally divided between the two northern oceans, 
the Atlantic having few forms in comparison with the Pacific. The largest number of species 
and the most diversified forms are found on the northern coasts of the Pacific, though the 
aggregate of individuals of any species found there does not, according to Dr. Coues, exceed 
that of several Atlantic Ocean species. The same authority says that a " more or less com- 
plete migration takes place with most species, which stray southward, sometimes to a con- 
siderable distance, in the autumn and return again to breed in the spring. A few species 
appear nearly stationary." Many of the migrating Auks pass the winter on the open sea 
or on drifting ice. 

At the approach of spring weather, the birds return to their northern breeding 
grounds where they gather in immense numbers on rocky cliffs along the coast. No nest is 
built, but the single egg, which is laid in niches or on ledges, is covered constantly by one or 
the other of the parents. The color of the egg varies greatly with the different species. The 
young are helpless when they are hatched, and it is not known with certainty what methods 
are employed by the parents to get them to the water. It seems not unlikely that the chicks 
are sometimes carried to the sea by the adults, though doubtless many of them reach the 
water by scrambling and falling down the cliffs. These Auk colonies are frequently raided 
by foxes, weasels, and other predacious animals and birds, not to mention the Indians and 
Eskimos who depend largely upon the birds and their eggs for winter food. 



TUFTED PUFFIN 
Lunda cirrhata { Pallas) 

A. O. U. Number 12 



Other Name. — Sea Parrot. uily-green : rosette of moutli, yellow ; iris, white. .-Xdllts 

General Description. — Length. 15 inches. Color IM Winter: No crests or white on face; bill, mostly 

above, black; below, brown; bill, hif/h, much com- dusky with some touches of reddish ; feet, pale salmon ; 

pressed, ridged on sides; a fold of naked skin at iris, pale blue; otherwise like summer birds, 

corner of mouth. Nest and Eggs. — The single egg is laid on the bare 

Description. — Adults in Summer : A tuft of straw- ground at the end of a burrow or in natural cavities 

yellow feathers on each side of head about 4 inches among rocks, sometimes within sight, sometimes as 

long, completely surrounding eyes and continuous with much as five feet from the entrance ; it is dead-white, 

white of face, forehead, and chin (narrowly) ; crown showing obscure shell markings of pale lavender or 

between the crests and entire upper parts, except a brownish. 

line on wing along fore-arm (which is white), glossy Distribution. — Coasts and island; of the Arctic 

blue-black: entire under parts from chin, including Ocean, Bering Sea, and North Pacific, from Cape 

most of sides of head, sooty-brownish, more grayish on Lisburne, .Maska, south to Santa Barbara Islands, 

abdomen; under tail-coverts, wings, and tail, black; California, and from Bering Sea to Japan; accidental 

bill, feet, and eye-ring, vermilion; base of bill, pale in IMaine and Greenland. 



The islands of the north Pacific, scattered pear like fleets of ships. .Sound is magnified 

along the shores of British Columbia, form, with until the explosion of a gun and its echoes roar 

their surrounding waters and the verdant coast along the shores, a carnival of sound. Swift 

line, a veritable .summer wonderland. Here the tides boil through narrow, rocky passes, while the 

mirage makes birds sitting upon the water ap- shimmering heat of summer gives a touch of 



i8 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



waverint,^ unreality to all the scene. In this en- 
chanted realm thousands of queer birds move to 
and fro, and none is queerer than the Tufted 
Puffin. 

Each looks like a masked caricature of a bird 
as it comes on, pushing its great red beak straight 
ahead, its red, splay feet spread widely, its long, 
cream-colored side plumes flying in the wind, 
and its little wings " working for two." In 
spring both male and female acquire a white 
face, which gives them a masked appearance, and 
the great, gaudily colored beak reminds one of 
Mr. Punch and his big red nose. The beak, a 
remarkable aiipendage, is much larger and 
showier in the breeding season than at any other 
time. There are eighteen horny plates, ingeni- 
ously formed and arranged, sixteen of which fall 
off after the breeding season, much reducing the 
dimensions of the basal part. The underlying 
plates are then brown in color. At the same 
time the white of the face with its plumes dis- 
appears, the entire head becomes blackish, and 
the bird remains merely a commonplace Puffin 
until the next breeding season. 

On the Farallons, off the California coast, 
where these Puffins nest on barren rocks, they 
deposit their eggs in holes or cavities among the 
rocks, but on the northern coast, where each 
rocky islet has a cap of some four feet of earth, 
they burrow into this at the top of the precipice 
overlooking the sea. Some of their tunnels ex- 
tend but a few inches. These are believed to be 
made by the young birds. Others delve deeply, 
and in an old colony a bank will be honeycombed 
in every direction. If one wishes to examine 
into their housekeeping, under these circum- 
stances he must fasten a rope to rock or tree, 
rig a " bo'sun's chair," and let himself over the 
clifif, excavating with his hands like a dog dig- 
ging out a woodchuck, the stream of dirt passing 
down the cliff until it reaches the sea far below. 
Even then he mav not easily succeed in finding 
the eggs or young in the interminable labyrinth of 



passages penetrating the earth. Where the tops 
of islands are hilly, the Puffins dig into the turf, 
where the land slopes at an angle of about 45°, 
and often they go in to a depth of three or four 
feet. 

The single egg, which apjjcars white, is in 
reality spotted inside the shell structure, as may 
be seen by holding it up to a very strong light. 
The young one is a real Puffin, as it is covered 
with down like a powder putf, but as it sits at the 
mouth of the burrow it looks, at a distance, like 
a little rat peeping out of its hole. 

There has been much speculation regarding 
the utility of the bill of the Puffin, and it has been 
suggested that it is used to crush moUusks, but 
this does not seem to be the case, at least during 
the breeding season, as small fish appear to form 
its principal food. Ajiparently it does not use 
its bill, but rather its feet, in digging, though this 
may be an error, and possibly both are used ; but 
certainly the beak is an excellent weapon of 
defense as all who have attempted to dig out 
Puffins will testify. Nature has put the most 
powerful weapon of the mother bird where it 
will have most effect. As she sits facing the 
entrance to her burrow she can deliver the more 
effective blows in defense of her nest and young 
because of the great size and crushing strength of 
her weapon, backed as it is by her hard head and 
sturdy neck. 

Puffins breed on islands occupied also by Gulls, 
(iuillemots, Murres, Cormorants, and other birds. 
After the breeding season they go to sea where 
they remain all winter. Their habits and roost- 
ing places at this season are practically unknown. 

The natives of the coasts and islands of the 
north Pacific catch Puffins in nets, using their 
bodies for food and their skins for clothing. The 
skins are tough and are sewn together with the 
feathered side in, to make coats or " parkas," as 
they are called. Thus the Puffins contribute to 
tlic comfort and welfare of these simple, primi- 
tive people. Edward Howe Forbush. 



PUFFIN 
Fratercula arctica arctica {Liinunis) 

A. O. U. Number 13 See Color Plate 3 



Other Names. — Common Puffin ; Puffin Auk ; Labra- 
dor Auk; Sea Parrot; Pope; Bottle-nose; Tammy 
Norie ; Coulterner ; Tinker. 

General Description. — Length, 13 inches. Color 
above, black ; below, white ; bill jwry deep and ridged. 



Description. — Adults in Summer: Crown, grayish- 
black, separated by a narrow ashy collar from dark 
color of upper parts ; sides of head with chin and 
throat, ashy; nearly white between eyes and bill, with 
a dark dusky patch on side of throat; upper parts, 



Court. ,, ■" f.. N.- 



Plate 3 




BLACK GUILLEMOT 

Crpp/iua uryllf (Liiiiuif'u-t 
WINTER SUMMER 



BRUNNICH'S MURRE 

Vria lomvui ininvta (Liiimieus 

SUMMER WINTER 



All 1 n:it, .size 



RAZOR-BILLED AUK 

Aim tiirila l.imiiiL'U.-? 



PUFFIN 

Frattrciila arctira nritira (Linnaoiis* 



SUMMER 
DOVEKIE 

.U/c alfr ( I.innaousi 

SUMMER WINTER 



AUKS, MURRES, AND PUFFINS 



19 



glossy blue-black continuous with a broad collar around 
neck in front, not reaching bill ; under parts from 
neck, pure white; sides, dusky; basr oj bill and first 
ridge, dull ycllowisli, next space, arayish-hlue : rest of 
hill. Z'erinilion. yellozv helon': rosette of ninuth. orange; 
feet, vermilion; iris, pale bluish-white; conical shaped 
projections above and behind eye, grayish-blue; eye- 
lids, vermilion. Adults in Winter: Face, dusky; no 
eye-ring or appendages on eyelid; rosette of mouth. 



shrunken; feet, orange: most of horny appendages on 
bill have been shed, leaving it small and pale. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: \ burrow in the groimd 
1 to 4 feet in length. Ec.cis : i. white or brownish- 
white, plain or marked with faint spots, dots, or 
scratches of lavender; laid ot the end of burrow on a 
thin lining of grass. 

Distribution. — Coasts and islands of north .Atlantic; 
breeds in North .America from Ungava south to the 
Ray of Fundy and Maine; winters south to Massa- 
chusetts; rarely to Long Island, and Delaware Ray. 




Drawing by R. I. Brasher 



PUFFIN (; nat. size) 
The Sea Parrot of the north Atlantic 



■■ Whether at rest or on the wing, the I'ullin is 
a curious looking creature," says John Maclair 
Boraston, the EngHsh ornithologist. "At rest 
they stand rank above rank on the topmost rocky 
ledges facing the sea, their black backs, collars, 
and crowns, white faces and underparts, com- 
bining with their erect attitude and disiiosition, 
incline to give them something of military uni- 
formity and rcgularit}-. Rut when one noted the 
great tri-colored beak, the apparenth- spectacled 
eyes, and remarked the mild surprise with which 
the birds regarded our intrusion, one could not 
resist the idea that there was something ludi- 
crously artificial in the make-up of the PuHin; 
for surely there never w^as a bird less bird-like in 
its appearance than the Puffin at rest. They were 
tame enough to allow us to approach ahiiost 
within striking distance, liad we been disposed to 



strike anything so mild-mannered as a Puffin. 
When the bird is on the wing, the flight is rapid, 
but labored, the wings beating violently, and as 
the bird flies, especially if returning to its bur- 
row with fish, it utters a peculiar sound — a deep- 
throated, mirthless laughter, as it were, which 
may be imitated by l;iughing in the throat with 
the lips closed. 

" It is a matter of speculation how the Puffin, 
which catches fish by diving, contrives to retain 
the first fish in its bill while it captures a second 
or a third. Possibly the tongue is used to hold it 
to the roof of the moutli, while the under man- 
ihlilc is lowered to make the later captures." 
I Birds by Laud and Sea. ) 

Much of the grotcsciueness of this bird's aj)- 
pearance is due to its uncouth beak, w'hich is 
very large, flattened laterally, banded with red, 



20 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



blue, and yellow, and embossed with horny ex- 
crescences. These growths appear only in the 
mating season, and are sloughed ofif when that 
period is at an end, which means, as one observer 
puts it, that " the Puffin displays his wedding 
garments on his beak.'' Puffins are not likely to 
be seen near land after the breeding season is 
over. They are skillful swimmers and expert 
divers : in their diving they often descend to a 
great depth, and they are exceedingly quick and 
sure in their motions under the surface. At their 
breeding places the birds are likely to appear 
with remarkable punctuality, and they disappear 
with their young with corresponding regularity. 
In fact this departure is methodical to the extent 
that young birds which have not got the full use 
of their wings are left behind when the time for 
migrating arrives. It seems probable that the 
birds remain mated for life. 



On land the bird places the whole length of the 
foot and heel on the ground and proceeds with a 
waddling stride. Robbing a Puffin's nest is 
dangerous business when either of the birds is at 
home, for they fight desperately and can inflict 
ugly wounds with their powerful mandibles and 
sharp inner nails. 

The birds show strong affection for one 
another. If one is shot and falls in the water, 
others are likely to alight near it, swim around 
it, push it with their bills, and display in many 
ways their distress. 

From old records we learn that in various 
parts of the Puffin's European range it was the 
custom to salt down large quantities of the young 
birds, to be eaten especially in Lent. To be sure 
the bird wasn't actually fish, but it tasted enough 
like fish to satisfy adaptable consciences among 
the devout. 



CASSIN'S AUKLET 
Ptychoramphus aleuticus (Pallas) 



A. O. U. Number 1 6 



Other Name. — Sea Quail. 

General Description. — Length, 9' J inches. Color 
above, blackish; below, whitish; bill, shorter than head, 
wider than broad at base, its upper outline nearly 
straight. 

Color. — L't'pcr parts, blackish-plumbeous: head, 
wings and tail, nearly black; a grayish shade extending 
around head, neck, fore-breast, and along sides of body, 
fading to white on abdomen ; bill, black, yellowish at 



base; feet, bluish in front, blackish behind and on webs; 
iris, white; a touch of white on lower eyelid. 

Nest and Eggs. — The single egg, chalky-white or 
faintly tinged with green or blue, unmarked, is de- 
posited in a burrow in the ground or in a crevice in 
rocks on an island or coast adjacent to the sea. 

Distribution. — Pacific coast of North America from 
Aleutian Islands to latitude 27° in Lower California; 
breeds locally throughout its range. 



While the Cassin Auklet has been found living 
on some of the rocky islands from the Aleutians 
to Lower California, yet I have never found one 
of the birds nesting on the rocks off the Oregon 
coast. 

During the summer of 1903, Mr. Herman 
T. Bohlman and I camped for five days and 
nights on Three Arch Rocks which contain the 
greatest colonies of sea birds off the ( )regon 
coast. Again in 1914, we lived for four days 
and nights on these rocks and climbed from top 
to bottom studying the various birds that live 
there. We have yet to see our first Auklet about 
Three Arch Rocks. This has led me to believe 
that it is rather uncertain as to just where the 
bird may be fotmd. Mr. L. M. Loomis found 
the birds nesting on the Farallons and Mr. Wil- 



liam L. Dawson found them nesting on some of 
the rocks off the Washington coast. 

Because of its plump shape and size, it has 
been called a " Sea Quail." In his study of 
Cassin's Auklet on one of the islands off the 
Washington coast, Mr. William L. Dawson 
speaks of spending the night on the slope of the 
island where the Auklets had their nests. The 
birds burrow in under the soil, like the Petrels 
and Puffins, and are largely nocturnal in their 
nesting habits. The old birds come in at night 
to change places in the burrows. The Auklet 
chorus of birds in the burrows, he says, reminds 
one of a frog pond in full cry. Although the 
Auklets are quiet in daytime, yet the tumult in- 
creases as the night progresses. 

William L. Finley. 



AUKS, MURRES, AND PUFFINS 



21 



CRESTED AUKLET 
iEthia cristatella (Pallas) 

A (I. r. Number iS 



Other Names. — Snub-nosed Auklet. or Auk : Dusky 
Auklet : Crested Stariki ; Sea Quail ; Kanooska. 

General Description. — Length, 9 inches. Color 
above, brownish-black: below, brownish-gray. Bill, 
shorter than head, with knob at base: a beautiful crest 
of from 12 to 20 slender black plumes springing from 
forehead, recurved gracefully over bill, about two inches 
long; a slender series of white filaments behind each 
eye. drooping downward and backward. 



Color. — Adults: Brownisli-black above, brownish- 
gray below : no white anywliere : bill, coral or orange, 
horn color at tip; feet, bluish-black; iris, white. Young: 
Lacking bill plates, crests, and white filaments on side 
of head; a white spot below eye; iris, brown; otherwise 
as in adults. 

Distribution. — Coasts and islands of Bering Sea 
and north Pacific, from Bering Strait south to Kodiak 
Island and Japan. 



This is essentially a sea-bird of the far North, 
its normal habitat being the north Pacific Ocean 
and the islands of Bering Sea. In Yukon Harbor 
they have been seen in myriads. Their ajipear- 
ance there is thus described by Dr. Charles Town- 
send in a leaflet prepared for the National .Asso- 
ciation of Audubon Societies: 

" The surface of the water was covered with 
them, and the air was filled with them. Large, 
compact flocks launched themselves into the air 
from the lofty cliffs, and careened toward the 
vessel with great speed and whirring of wings. 
Twilight did not come until after 9 o'clock, and 
during the long evening the birds were amazingly 
active. Flocks of them continued to come in 
rapid succession from the cliffs, many passing 
close to the ship at high speed and s\\ inging about 
the harbor. After the anchor was drop[>ed near 
the cliffs, a loud blast of the whistle made the 
.Auklets still more abundant. 

" These birds appeared to be nesting chietly in 
crevices in the cliffs, although they Cduld be 
heard under the boulders near the beaches. To 
discover the nesting localities is easy. One has 
but to walk along the great ridges of vulcanic 
stones thrown up by the sea. The stones are 
rounded and sea-worn like pebbles, but they are 
gigantic pebbles and cannot readily be moved. 
The Auklets go far down among them, ])erhaps 
three or four feet, and can be he;ir(l chattering 
there during any part of the nesting-season. We 
found that a considerable part of the food of this 
and (ither kinfls of .\uklets consisted of amiihipod 
crustaceans, or beach-fleas, as they are called, 
when found under bits of seaweed along the 
shore. The native .\leuts eat .\uklets, just as 



they do most other kinds of sea-birds and caji- 
ture them with nets that are like a large dip-net 
w ith a long handle. 




1 



Drawing by R. I. Br.i5!u-r 

CRESTED AUKLET 1 ; nat. size) 
A strangely ornamented bird 

" We need not concern mn-sel\es. 1 think, about 
the preservation of the .\ukk-ts. They dwell 
.among the high cliffs :nul the botdder-strewn 
beaches of a thuusand uninh;ibited islands, and 
know how to slow aw.iy their eggs so s.afcly that 
neither natives nor bhu- fo.xes can get them 
easily." 



22 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



LEAST AUKLET 
^thia pusilla (Palliu) 



A. O, U. Number 20 



Other Names. — Alinute Auklet ; Knob-nosed Auklet ; 
Knoll-billed Auklet; Choochkie. 

General Description. — Length. 65^ inches. Color 
above, black ; below, white ; bill, shorter than head, with 
knob at base ; no crest. 

Description. — Adults in Summer: Front, top, and 
sides of head, sprinkled with white delicate feathers ; 
a series of exceedingly fine hair-like feathers from back 
of eye down back of head and nape; some white on 
shoulders and on tips of some secondaries ; otherwise 
entire upper parts, glossy-black ; throat and under parts, 
white clouded with dusky, usually more thickly across 
breast ; bill, red, darker above at base ; legs, dusky ; 



iris, white. Adults in Winter; Bristles of head, fewer 
and less developed; white of under parts, more exten- 
sive, reaching almost around neck; bill, brownish. 

Nest and Eggs. — The single egg, chalky-white or 
faintly tinged with greenish or bluish, unmarked, is 
deposited in a burrow in the ground or in a crevice 
among rocks on an island or on a coast adjacent to the 
sea. 

Distribution. — Coast and islands of the north 
Pacific ; breeds from Bering Strait south to Aleutian 
Islands; winters from Aleutian and Commander islands 
south to Washington on the American side and to 
Japan on the .-Xsiatir. 



The Least Auklet is one of the commonest of 
the water fowl in Bering;- Sea. It congregates in 
countless thousands on the rocks in Bering Strait, 
making them look like great beehives. In the 
spring they are very playful, especially while 
they are in the water, where they chase each 
other in great apparent good nature, meanwhile 
keeping up an incessant but subdued chattering. 
Like the other Auklets, they build no nest, but 
lay a single egg deep in the crevice of a clilT. or 
among the rocks well below the surface, or in 
a burrow in the ground. 

"A walk over their breeding grounds at this 



season," wrote Doctor Baird, " is exceedingly 
interesting and amusing, as the noise of hundreds 
of these little birds directly under foot gives rise 
to an endless variation of sound as it comes up 
from the stony holes and caverns below, while 
the birds come and go, in and out, with bewilder- 
ing rapidity, comically blinking and fluttering. 
The male birds, and many of the females, reg- 
ularly leave the breeding grounds in the morning, 
and go off to sea, where they feed on small water 
shrimps and sea fleas, returning to their nests 
and sitting partners in the evening." {North 
American Birds.) 



ANCIENT MURRELET 

Synthliboramphus antiquus (Giiiclin) 



A. O. U. Xumber 21 



Other Names. — Gray-headed Murrelet; Black- 
throated Murrelet ; Black-throated Guillemot; Old Man. 

General Description. — Length, io',< inches. Color 
above, dark slate; below, white; bill, small and short, 
zvith no horny growth at base. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Head, black, sooty 
on chin and throat ; a conspicuous white stripe over each 
eye to nape, spreading on sides and back of neck into 
a series of sharp white streaks; a trace of white on each 
eyelid ; upper parts, dark slate, blackening on tail ; 
under parts, white; sides of body, velvety-black, the 
black feathers lengthening behind and overlaying the 
white flanks, extending upward in front of wings, meet- 
ing that of nape and there mixing with the white 
streaks; bill, yellowish-white, black on ridge and base; 
fe»t. yellowish, webs, black ; iris, dark brown. Adults 



IN Winter: Upper parts, darker, the slate obscured by 
dusky, especially on wing, tail-coverts, and rump ; fore- 
head, crown, and nape, sooty-black without white 
streaks ; eyelids, sometimes largely white ; no black on 
throat, but dusky mottling at base of bill; white of 
under parts extending nearly to eyes and far around 
on sides of nape. 

Nest and Eggs. — The single egg. huff with markings 
of grayish-lavender and light brown, is deposited in 
holes or burrows in banks on the coast or on a sea 
island. 

Distribution. — Coasts and islands of the North 
Pacific ; breeds from Aleutian Islands to Near Islands 
and from Kamchatka to Commander Islands; winters 
from the -Meutians south to San Diego, California, and 
to Japan ; accidental in Wisconsin. 



AUKS, AIURRES, AND PUFFINS 



23 



The Ancient Murrelet is another of the divin.ef 
birds which fairly swarm on many of islands 
along the southern coast of Alaska. It ranges as 
far south as California in summer, and tlicn is 
common on the Commander Islands in the Bering 
Sea, where the nati\es call it the " Old Alan." 
because of the curious feather arrangement on 
the sides and back of the head. These feathers 



are dropped as winter comes on, so that the sig- 
nificance of the popular name may not be ap- 
parent when the bird visits its southern feeding 
grounds. 

The Ancient Alurrelct is an expert diver, and 
swims very rapidly under water, wheix' it pur- 
sues fish with such energy as sometimes actually 
to drive them to the surface. 



BLACK GUILLEMOT 
Cepphus grylle ( Liiuuciis) 

A. O, U. Xumhcr 27 See C^oior Plate j 



Guillemot : Sea 
Greenland Dove ; 



Other Names. — White-winged 
Pigeon : Tysty ; Gcylle ; Spotted 
White Guillemot ; Scapular Guillemot. 

General Description.— Length, 13 inches. Prevail- 
ing color, in summer, sooty-hlack ; in winter, black and 
white; bill, slender and straight, witli no horny gro-a-th 
at base. 

Color. — Sooty-black ; wings and tail, pure black ; 
wlnys tvith a large tchitc mirror on both surfaces: bill, 
black ; mouth and feet, carmine, vermilion, or coral- 
red ; iris, brown. This perfect dress is worn only two 
months. In August, wings and tail become gray, the 
white mirror is mixed with brown, head, neck all 
around, rump, and under parts, marbled with black and 
white, the bird looking as if dusted over with flour; 



back, black, the feathers white-edged; completion of 
the molt gives the following winter plumage: head and 
neck all around, rump, and under parts, pure white ; 
back, hindneck. and head varied with black and white ; 
wings and tail, black, the white mirror perfect. 

Nest and Eggs.— Eggs : Deposited on the bare sur- 
face of the rock, in nooks and crannies of rocky islands 
on coast ; 2 or 3, white or greenish-white, irregularly 
spotted and blotched with dusky and lavender shell 
markings. 

Distribution. — Coasts of eastern North America and 
northwestern Europe, breeding from southern Green- 
land and Ungava to Maine ; winters from Cumberland 
Sound south to Cape Cod; rarely to Long Island. N. Y., 
and Xew lersev. 



Siimmi r 




Drawing by R. I. Brasher 

BLACK GUILLEMOT (1 nat. size) 

Their black bodies, white-lined wings, and red legs make a color scheme well worth seeing 



24 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



Along the coast of Maine the numerous rocky 
islands extending in an irregular line out to sea 
afford favorite nesting places for numerous sea- 
fowl, among which the Black Guillemot, or " Sea 
Pigeon," is by no means rare. Farther north 
they are more numerous and breed in numbers 
on Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick, at 
various places in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and 
along the Labrador coast. Li approaching their 
nesting islands one will observe what appear to 
be short, black Ducks swimming ahead of the 
boat, usually several together. One by one they 
will suddenly disappear, as with surprising swift- 
ness they dive beneath the surface. Under water 
they are much at home, and by the use of wings, 
as well as legs, they take their submarine flight 
to a considerable distance before reappearing. 
Usually one does not see them again until they 
rise to the surface well beyond gunshot range. 
On taking wing they rise readily from the water. 
Their progress is swift, strong, and usually 
directed in a straight line. In flight they rarely 
rise more than a few feet above the water. 

The Black riuillemot's nest is placed in the 
cleft of rocks well above the reach of high tides. 
While clambering over the great jumble of giant 
bowlders, that reach from the water to the higher 



ground on some of the Maine islands, I have 
often come upon these birds brooding their eggs 
or young. The first knowledge of their pres- 
ence would be when one would spring out from 
among the bowlders and go dashing away to the 
sea. Their black bodies and white-lined wings, 
combined with the red of the dangling, wide- 
spraddled legs, made a color scheme well worth 
seeing. Hidden generally well from view is the 
nest, and often it would take a steam derrick 
to reach it. Not the slightest effort at nest 
building is attempted. The two handsomely 
spotted eggs are deposited on the bare rocky 
floor of the little cave. The young are covered 
with down, literally as black as the " ace of 
spades." The birds feed on various crustaceans 
and shell-fisli which are secured by diving. 

Many sea-birds of the North journey to south- 
ern waters to spend the winter, but the Sea 
Pigecjn apparently sees no need for exerting it- 
self to such an extent. In fact it can hardly be 
said to migrate at all, for it is rarely found south 
of Cape Cod, scarcely two hundred miles beyond 
its simthernmost nesting grounds. At all times 
they are coast-wise birds, seldom being seen out 
of sight of land, and never under any circum- 
stances going inland. T. Gilbert Pearson. 



PIGEON GUILLEMOT 
Cepphus columba Pallas 



A. O. U. Xumber 2g 



Other Name. — Sea Pigeon. 

General Description. — Length. 13 inches. Prevail- 
ing color, in summer, sooty-black; in winter, black and 
white; bill, slender and straight, zvilli no horiiy grotvth 
at base. 

Plumage. — Jl'liilc mirror of upper surface split by 
an oblique dark line caused by extension of dark bases 
of greater coverts increasing from within outward 



until the outside ones are scarcely tipped with white; 
plumage and changes otherwise as in Black Guillemot. 

Nest and Eggs. — Similar to those of the Black 
Guillemot. 

Distribution. — Coasts and islands of the Arctic 
Ocean, Bering Sea and Cape Lisburne, and both coasts 
of the north Pacific from Bering Strait south to Santa 
Catalina Island, California, and to northern Japan. 



Mr. Dawson says that the Pigeon Guillemot 
is " unquestionably the most characteristic water- 
bird of the Puget Sound region," and explains 
its sharing the popular name " Sea Pigeon " with 
the Bonaparte Gull as follows : " The Gulls are 
dove-like in posture (at least a-wing). and in 
their manner of flocking : while the Guillemot 
owes its name both to its plumpness and to its 
very unsophisticated, not to say stupid, appear- 
ance." (Birds of Washington. ) 

E. W. Nelson found this bird " the most abun- 



dant of the small Guillemots throughout the 
North, from Aleutian Islands to those of Wran- 
gel and Herald, where we found it breeding 
abundantly during our visit there on the 
Corivin.'' He notes that the birds are very con- 
spicuous by reason of their white wing patches 
and bright red' legs. When perched on the rocks 
they sciuat like Ducks, and when swimming they 
often paddle along with their heads lielow the 
surface. 

For breeding operations a few pairs may take 



AUKS, MURRES, AND PUFFINS 



possession of a group of small rocks, or a col(jny 
of several hundred may share cliffs with Cor- 
morants. Tufted Puffins, and Glaucous Gulls. 
Mr. Finley observes (ms.) that off the Oregon 
coast these Guillemots nest in isolated places and 



not in colonies. " They like a crevice or a hole 
in the face of a clift' for a nest site." On land 
they have an awkward shanililing gait, but in 
the water they are entirely at ease, and are swift 
swimmers and expert divers. 



MURRE 
Uria troille troille {Li)uurus) 



A. O. U. Number 30 



Other Names. — Foolish Guillemot; Guillem, or 
Gvvilvm ; Tinker; Tinkershire ; Kiddavv ; Skidtlaw ; 
Marrock ; Willock ; Scuttock ; Scout ; Strany ; Lavy ; 
Frowl. 

General Description. — Length. 17 inches. Color 
above, brown ; below, white. Bill, narrow and slender. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Head and neck all 
around, rich ntaroon-brois.ni shading on upper parts into 
dark slaty-brown ; some feathers of back and rump 
with grayish-brown edges ; secondaries, narrowly tipped 
with white; under parts, pure white; sides and flanks 
with dusky markings; bill, black, feet, dusky; iris, 
brown. Adults in Wintes: White of under parts. 



reaching bill, on sides of head to level of gape, extend- 
ing further around on sides of neck, leaving only a 
narrow line of dark color; the two colors shading with- 
out sharp line of demarcation. 

Nest and Eggs. — A single egg. remarkably variable 
in coloration, is laid on the rock of cliffs, without any 
attempt at nest buildin,g ; it varies from white to dark 
green, spotted, blotched, and scratched with black, 
brown, and lilac over the entire surface. 

Distribution. — Coasts and islands of North .Atlantic ; 
breeds in North America from southern Greenland and 
southern Ungava south to Newfoundland and Mag- 
dalen Islands; winters south to Maine. 



The comnKin Alurre's natural habitat is the 
northern Atlantic Ocean, and various islands 
therein, but in winter it wanders southward as 
far as New England, and possibly to New York, 
though the records of its appearances there seem 
not to be entirely reliable. On the water this 
bird looks much like a Duck, though its neck is 
shorter and its bill more pointed than i'^ charac- 



MURRE (i nat. sizel 
Drawing by R. I. BrasliL-r 




26 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



teristic in that family. In their nesting places 
on ledges of rocky islets they sometimes gather 
in such numbers as to present a seemingly almost 
solid mass of birds, while the eggs are found 
lying so close together that it is actually diffi- 
cult to walk without treading upon them. 

All the Murres are oceanic birds, only visiting 
the rocks during the breeding season, and found 
inland only when driven there by storms. Their 
food consists of fish and various crustaceans ; 
this particular species is especially partial to the 
fry of herrings and pilchards, which are cajitured 
at night in the open sea. 



Doctor Chapman remarks that " long-contin- 
ued studies of Murres on the coast of Yorkshire 
warrant the belief that, although the eggs of 
no two Murres (or Guillemot as it is termed in 
England) are alike, those of the same individ- 
ual more or less closely agree, and that the same 
bird lays year after year on the same ledge. 
Murres perch on the entire foot or tarsus, and 
when undisturbed usually turn their backs to the 
sea and hold their eggs between their legs with 
its point outward. W'hen alarmed they face 
about, bob and bow and utter their low-voiced 
mtirre." 



CALIFORNIA MURRE 

Uria troille californica (H. Bryant) 

\. O. V. Number 30a 



Other Names. — California Guillemot: California 
Egg-bird ; Farallon Kind. 

General Description. — Similar to the common 
Mnrre. but averaging about an inch longer. 

Nest and Eggs. — Like those of common Murre. 



Distribution. — Coasts and islands of the north 
Pacific : breeds from Norton Sound and Pribilof 
Islands south to the Farallons. California ; winters 
from the Aleutian Islands south to Santa Monica. 
California. 



The California Murre is the most abundant 
sea-bird on the ofif-shore rocks of the Pacific 
from Alrivkn to the Fnrallons Tt i- readily 




Photo by W. L. Finley Courtesy of Nat. Asso. Aud. boc. 

AN INCUBATING CALIFORNIA MURRE 

During incubation the single egg is held between the legs with 
its point outward. Photo taken on island off the coast of 
Oregon 

recognized by its snow-white breast and sooty- 
brown back. Its legs are placed clear at the end 
of its body, so it does a good deal of its sitting 
standing up. Its attempt to walk is a very awk- 
ward performance resembling a boy in a sack 
race. But in water the bird is very expert. It 



uses its feet as propellers and its wings as oars, 
flashing under water with such swiftness that it 
can overtake and capture a fish. 

The Murre is a creature of the crowd. To see 
this bird in great colonies and to watch its home 
life, one gets the idea that a Murre would die 
of lonesomeness if isolated. They huddle to- 
gether in such great numbers on the narrow sea 
ledges that they occupy every available standing 
place. There is not the least sign of a nest. The 
female lays a single egg on the bare rock. One 
egg is all that can be attended to under the cir- 
cumstances. One might wonder why the birds 
persist in crowding so close together. Neighbors 
always seem to be quarreling and sparring with 
their sharp bills. They rarely hit each other, 
because they are experts at dodging. The babble 
is continuous ; everyone talks at the same time. 

The peculiar top-shape of the Murre's egg 
prevents it from rolling. The jiractical value of 
this may be seen every day on the sloping ledges. 
We tried several experiments and the eggs were 
of such taper that not one rolled over the edge. 
\\'hen an egg starts down grade, it does not roll 
straight, but swings around like a top and comes 
to a standstill. The shells are also very tough 
and not easily broken. 

One day we lay stretched out on a ledge just. 



AUKS, MURRES, AND PUFFINS 



27 



above a big colony where we could watch the 
ordinary run of life and not disturb the birds in 
any wav. When a Alurre arrived from the 
fishing grounds, he alighted on the outer edge 
of the shelf. Then, like a man in a Fourth of 
July crowd, he looked for an opening in the 
dense front ranks. Seeing none, he boldly 
squeezed in, pushing and sho\ing to right and 
left. The neighbors resented such behavior and 
squawked and pecked at the new arrival. But 
he pressed on amid much opposition and com- 



plaint until he reached his mate. They changed 
places and he took up his vigil on the egg. The 
mate, upon leaving the colony, instead of taking 
flight from where she stood, went through the 
former proceeding, often knocking over several 
neighbors who protested vigorously, jabbing at 
the parting sister. Arriving at the edge of the 
ledge, she dropped off into space. The contin- 
uous going and coming made an interesting per- 
formance for the onlooker. 

William L. Finley. 




Photo by W. L. Finley and H. X. Bohlni.iii 



CALIFORNIA MURRES 
Off Oregon coast on Three Arch Rocks Reservation 



BRUNNICH'S MURRE 
Uria lomvia lomvia {Liinunis) 

A. O. U. Xumber 31 See Color Plate 3 



Other Names. — Franks' Guillemot ; Tliick-hilled 
Giiilk'iiint : 'ihick-billed Murre ; Briinuich's Guillemot; 
Polar Guillemot; E^K-bird. 

General Description. — Length, i,S inches. Similar 
to common Murre in plumages and changes, but crown 
darker in contrast with throat and sides of neck; hilt, 
shorter and stimtcr with cutting edge of upper jaw 
flesh-colored. 



Nest and Eggs. — Indistinguishable from those of the 
Murre. 

Distribution. — Coasts and islands of north .-\tlantic ; 
breeds from southern Ellesniere Land, and northern 
Greeidand to Hudson Bay and Gulf of St. Lawrence: 
resident in Greenland and Hudson Bay; south rarely in 
winter from Maine to South Carolina, and in interior 
to northern Ohio, central Indiana and central Iowa. 



28 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



Briinnich's Murre comes as near being like the 
Antarctic Penguins as any other North Amer- 
ican species. It is built primarily for swimming 
and diving, and is a poor walker, waddling awk- 
wardly in an upright position. 

Except as it may climb out of the cold water 
on a cake of ice, its only chance to exercise these 
poor gifts is during the short summer in the 
Far North on its breeding grounds. There the 
Murres, mingled with the other species, resort 




Photo by H. K. Job Courtesy of Hougnton Mutiin Co. 

BRDNNICH'S MURRE 

Presently it will lift its egg onto its feet and hold it there for 
incubation 

to precipitous shores or rocky islands, from the 
Gulf of St. Lawrence away up to northern 
Greenland. I have visited the colony on Great 
Bird Rock, Magdalen Islands. Here, in June, I 
found them standing in rows on the narrow 
ledges of the cliff, usually with back to the sea, 
each bird holding between its legs one large pear- 
shaped egg. These eggs have very hard shells, 
and are so shaped that they roll in a circle, which 
helps to prevent their falling off the cliff. They 
are colored a great variety of tints of green, 



blue, buff, whitish, and are so variously marked 
that it is impossible to find any two alike. Usually 
the Murres crowd upon these ledges as thickly 
as they can find room to stand or squat. 

From these ledges they throw themselves with 
confident abandon, and, with exceedingly rapid 
wing beats, circle out over the sea and back 
again to the rock. Otherwise they alight on the 
water with rather a heavy splash, and are apt to 
dive forthwith. They can be seen here and there 
swimming about, distinguishable from Ducks bv 
the fact that their posterior part floats rather 
high — reminding one of the ancient ships as de- 
scribed by Vergil, with " lofty sterns." 

Their hoarse baritone voice is almost human, 
and they are supposed to say murre. When I 
first heard them on the rocky ledges close at 
hand, I was involuntarily startled, so much did 
it sound to me like someone calling my boyhood 
nickname, "Herb, Herb!" 

Unless one can visit a breeding colony, about 
the only way to cultivate their acquaintance is to 
get offshore in winter, on the bleak, wind-swept 
ocean, not much further south than Nantucket 
shoals, or, better, the coast of Maine. Miles off 
Cape Cod in mid-winter, from fishing vessels I 
have seen them by hundreds. Flocks of them 
dotted the ocean in all directions, or moved in 
lines swiftly through the air, to plunge into the 
water and disappear like stones, presently to bob 
up many rods further off. Occasionally at the 
entrance of harbors, in bitter cold weather, I have 
seen them perched on some slanting pole or 
beacon, from which they would plunge directly 
into the water. 

Though oceanic in habit, this particular species 
seems to have a peculiar faculty, as has the 
Dovekie, for getting into trouble by wandering 
from its real element. After winter storms they 
are liable to be found far inland, sometimes 
stranded in a snow bank out in some field, or on 
the ice of a pond or stream, vainly seeking lo 
find water. In such cases they are emaciated 
and must perish, as they are tmable to rise on 
wing from any surface except water. When 
word comes of a queer unknown bird which 
stands upright on the ice or in the snow, it is a 
likely guess to call it a Briinnich's Murre. 

Herbert K. Job. 



AUKS, MURRES, AND PUFFINS 



29 



RAZOR-BILLED AUK 
Alca torda LiiiiKnis 



A. O. U. Xumber 3J 

Other Names. — Razor-bill ; Tinker. 

General Description. — Length. 18 inches. Color 
above, black; below, white. Bill, flatly compressed; tail, 
pointed. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Head and neck all 
around, and upper parts, black, more brownish on 
former, a slight greenish-gloss on latter; tips of second- 
aries and entire under parts from neck, white ; a sunken 
line of white from eye alongside of forehead to bill; 
bill, black, crossed by a white line; feet, dusky; iris, 
brown. Adults in Winter: White extending to bill, 
invading sides of head to level of eyes and neck ; no 



."^ce (.'nlor Piatt- ? 

white line from bill to eye; color of upper parts, duller. 

Nest and Eggs. — Usually one egg, sometimes two. 
is laid on the bare rock of cliffs or islands along the 
coast, very variable in shape and size of markings; 
white or bluish, spotted and blotched with sepia or 
black, these spots sometimes wreathed in a circle around 
the large end ; in others diffused over entire surface. 

Distribution. — Coasts and islands of the north 
.\tlantic ; breeds on American side from southern 
Greenland to Newfoundland and New Brunswick; 
winters from New Brunswick and Ontario to Long 
Island and rarelv to North Carolina. 



The Razor-billed Auk presents a strikint,' and 
intere.sting apjiearance in the water, which it 
rides as buoyantly as a cork. Like all of its kind, 
it is exceedingly quick and clever at diving, a 
method of escape which it always adopts in pref- 
erence to flight, when it can. It slips under the 
surface with hardly any perceptible or audible 
splash, and it is quite impossible to tell where it 
will reappear. When fairly submerged the bird 
swims — using both wings and feet — with as- 
tonishing speed and often descends to a consid- 
erable depth. It feeds largely upnn fish and 
various small marine creatures, and takes vir- 
tually all of its food from the sea. When it 
chooses to take to its wings, it can fly with much 
rapidity. In summer it is decidedly gregarious 
and the flocks often are seen far from land. If 
then overtaken by heavy gales, large numbers of 
the birds are drowned. 

As the breeding season approaches, the birds 
abandon temporarily their nomad sea life and 
gather in large flocks at established breeding 
places, preferably on cliffs overlooking the ocean, 
and containing an abundance of niches and re- 
cesses, where the single egg is laid, no nest being 
made. The incubating bird is very loath to lea\c 



the egg, and often when so engaged may be 
taken in the hand. There are many evidences 
that the birds mate for life. 





Drawing by R. I. Br.-isliLT 

RAZOR-BILLED AUK ij nat. size) 
It rides the ocean as buoyantly as a cork 



GREAT AUK 
Plautus impennis {Limuvu 

A. O. U. Xumber ,33 

Other Names. — Garefowl; Penguin; Wobble. 

General Description. — Length, 30 inches. Color 
above, black; below, white. 

Color. — Adults: Hood and entire upper parts 
including wings, black; ends of secondaries, white 
forming a traverse band ; under parts, white extending 
to a point on throat ; a white oval spot between bill and 
eye ; bill, black with lighter grooves ; feet, black ; iris, 
brown. 



Nest and Eggs. — Nest: Site probably similar to 
that of the Razor-billed .^uk. Ecr, : i, white or bluish- 
white, spotted and blotched with shades of umber- 
brown and sepia. 

Distribution. — Formerly inhabited coasts and islands 
of the north .Atlantic from near the .Arctic Circle south 
to Massachusetts and Ireland, and probably south casu- 
ally to South Carolina and Florida and the Bay of 
Biscay ; now extinct. 



30 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



The Great Auk was the most powerful and 
swiftest diving and swimjning bird in North 
America. It had to be, as it could not fly. In 
order to survive it must be fast enough not only 
to pursue and overtake the swift-swimming fish 
in their native element, but also active enough 
to escape sharks and other predatory fish that 
otherwise might have exterminated it. Also it 
was obliged to follow the smaller migratory fish 
southward in winter and northward in spring. 

It has been pictured often among the icebergs, 
but it was not a bird of the Arctic regions and 
was not found within the Arctic Qrcle. It is 
believed to have inhabited southern Greenland, 
but that was centuries ago when the climate of 
Greenland probably was warmer than it is now. 
In primitive times, when man was a savage, the 
Auk was safe upon its island home in the raging 
sea, which men in their frail canoes visited rarely 
and in small numbers ; but civilized man, coming 
in large companies in ships that sailed the seven 
seas, armed with firearms, brought extermina- 
tion to all flightless birds which came under his 
notice, and so the Great Auk was one of the first 
of the North American birds to become extinct 
in the nineteenth century, the century that will 
always be noted for its great destruction of birds 
and mammals at the hand of man. 

The Great Auk had been known in Europe 
for centuries when it was first discovered in 
North America. This was in 1497 or 1498, when 
adventurous French fishermen began fishing on 
the banks of Newfoundland. The birds were 
taken there in such enormous numbers that it 
was unnecessary to provision the vessels, as the 
fleet could secure all the fresh meat and eggs 
needed by visiting the bird islands. Jacques 
Cartier, on his first voyage to Newfoundland in 
1534, visited an " Island of Birds" which, from 
the course and distance sailed from Buena Vista, 
must have been what is now known as Funk 
Island, the last breeding place of the Great Auk 
in America, where the crews filled two boats 
with the birds in "less than half an hour'" and 
every ship salted down five or six barrelfuls. 
He also found the Great Auk on the ^Magdalen 
Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The bird 
became known among the French fishermen as 
the Pingonin (Penguin). There were at least 
three Penguin islands about Newfoundland and 
another near the tip of the peninsula of Nova 
Scotia, while numerous birds apparently sum- 



mered at the head of Buzzards Bay and about 
Cape Cod. 

The Auk migrated from Labrador to Florida. 
It was common at Nahant, Alass., and about 
the islands in Massachusetts Bay in the early 
years of the nineteenth century and was taken 
now and then near Plymouth, but had disap- 
peared at that time from the upper end of Buz- 
zards Bay. When Audubon visited Labrador in 
1832, he was told that fishermen still took great 
numbers from an island off the coast of New- 
foundland, but, from all accounts, it seems prob- 
able that the bird was extirpated on the coasts 
of North America before 1840. Apparently the 
Great Auk was destroyed in America before it 
was extirpated in Europe, where the last recorded 
specimen was taken, off Iceland, in 1844. 

Its destruction was accomplished first by the 
demand for the eggs and flesh for victualing 
fishermen and settlers, next by the demand for 
the feathers, and last by unrestricted shooting. 
When the supply of eider-down and feathers for 
feather beds and coverlets gave out, about 1760, 
because of the destruction of the breeding fowl 
along the coast of Labrador, some of the feather 
hunters turned to the Penguin islands off the 
coast of Newfoundland. Cartwright said ( 1775) 
that several crews of men lived all summer on 
Funk Island, killing the birds for their feathers ; 
that the destruction was incredible ; and that this 
was the only island that was left for them to 
breed upon. Nevertheless the species continued 
more or less numerous about the shores of New- 
foundland until about 1823 and then gradually 
disappeared before continuous persecution. Dr. 
F. A. Lucas, who visited Funk Island in 1878, 
found such enormous numbers of the bones of 
this species that he concluded that " millions '' 
must have died there. Today there are about 
eighty mounted specimens in existence and not 
many over 70 eggs preserved in museums and 
collections. 

This Auk was readily alarmed by a noise, as 
its hearing was very keen, but it was not wary 
if approached silently. When on land it stood 
upright or rested on its breast, and its locomotion 
was slow and difficult, so that it might be easily 
overtaken and killed with a club. In the water, 
however, it was so swift that a boat propelled 
by six oars could not overtake one. It is be- 
lieved to have fed mainly upon fish, but its habits 
never were studied and described, and, therefore, 
they are unknown. Edward Howe Forbush. 



AUKS, AIURRES, AND PUFFINS 



31 



DOVEKIE 
Alle alle ( LiiiiKciis) 



A. O. U. \umber ^14 
Little Auk : Sea Dove : Alk- ; Koteli ; 



Other Names, 
Ice-hird, 

General Description. — Length S'.. inches. Color 
above, black: below, white: head and liill, formed like 
those of a Quail. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Head, neck all around, 
and upper parts, glossy blue-black; sides of head, 
neck, and throat, shaded with sooty-brown ; three 
or four white streaks on shoulders; secondaries, tipped 
with white ; under parts, pure wdiite ; bill, black : feet, 
flesh-color in front, black liehind ancl on wclis ; iris, 



>(t' C'olor Plate 3 

brown. Adults in Winter: White of under jiarts 
extendin.sr to bill, invading sides of head and neck and 
nearl.N meeting on nape; otherwise as in summer. 

Nest and Eggs. — .A single greenish-blue egg laid in 
crevices of rocky cliffs on islands or coasts near the sea. 

Distribution. — Coasts and islands of north .Atlantic; 
breeds from Kane Basin and Baffin Bay east to Franz 
Josef Land ; winters from southern Greenland south 
to Long Island ( X. Y.). and rarely to Delaware Bay 
and North Carolina : accidental near Melville Island, 
and in Wisconsin. Michigan. Ontario, and Bermuda. 



• The little Dovekies or " Sea Doves " breed 
along the coa.sts of Greenland and other sea 
islands of the Atlantic, north of latitude 6g°, 
and in winter come down the coast where less 
ice abounds and where, consequentl}', food is 
more easily secured. New Jersey is about the 
usual limit of this s|jecies' southern journey. 
They stay in small flocks in the open sea and 
feed by diving. A[>parently at this season the\- 
come on land but rarely. 

Cape Hatteras, ornithologically, is a \erv in- 
teresting place. Here the warm waters of the 
Gulf Stream meet and neutralize the last re- 
maining vestige of the cold bearing currents 
from the north. As the distribution of animal 
life is largely determined bv climatic conditions, 
the North Carolina coast affected bv these cur- 
rents becomes the meeting place of manv north- 
ward moving siiecies that naturally inhabit 
warmer regions, and southward moving species 
from the cold countries to the north. The ex- 
treme southern migration of the r)o\-ekie illus- 
trates this interesting fact. .V few miles nijrth 
of Cape Hatteras I found, one December some 
years ago, one of these little wanderers. It was 
sitting on the beach in a tired-out condition and 
made but feeble attemjjts to escape when I took 
it in my hands. Then I discovered the cause 
of its emaciated condition: one foot was missing. 
Doubtless it had been bitten of¥ by some fish. 
With its [)0wer of di\'ing in the ocean thus re- 
duced at least one-half, its chances for securing 
a livelihood were all but gone, and in the end 
the tide had cast it upon the shore. Within a 
few Injurs it died. des])ite the most energetic 
efforts to induce it to eat such food as was 
a\-ailable. 

The Eskimos kill many Sea Doves and use 

their feathered skins for making the liird-skin 

.shirts with which thev helj) ward ofif the biting 

frost of their country. The birds are taken in 

Vol. I — 4 



nets which the natives wield over the face of 

the cliff where the birds crowd together to breed. 

" I have often thought," wrote Audubon, '' how 

easy it would be to catch these tiny wanderers 




Drawing by R. I Brasher 

DOVEKIE (5 nat. size) 

These small Sea Doves manifest very little apprehension of 
danger from the proximity of man 

of the ocean with nets thrown e.xpertly from 
the how of a boat, for they inanifest very little 
apjirehension of danger from the pro.ximity of 
one. insomuch th;it I ha\e seen several killed 
with the oars. Those which were caught alive 
and ])laced on the deck, would at first rest a few 
minutes with their bodies flat, then rise upright 
and run about briskly, or attempt to fly off, which 
they sometimes accomplished, when they hap- 
pened to go in a straight course the whole length 
of the ship so as to rise easily over the bulwarks. 
On effecting their esca[)e they would alight on 
ihc water and immediately disap|iear.'' 

T. GiLr.KKT ri-:.\us()N'. 



ORDER OF LONG-WINGED SWIMMERS 

Order Longipennes 

jIRDS of the order of Long-winged Swimmers are cosmopolitan in distribution 
and are generally seen on the wing over or near water. In the order are three 
families : Skuas and Jaegers, Gulls and Terns, and Skimmers. They resemble 
most nearly the Tube-nosed Swimmers of all the water birds, but the character 
of the nostrils plainly distinguishes them without reference to internal anatomy. 
These birds have the nostrils lateral and open. The wings are long and pointed. 
Usually the tail is long. The legs are comparatively free and project from 
near the center of the body ; the thighs are bare for a short distance ; the tarsi 
are covered with horny shields of varying sizes. The toes are four in number, 
but the hind one, which is elevated, is very small (sometimes rudimentary) ; 

the front toes are webbed. Their bills are strong and thick ; the Skuas, Jaegers, and Gulls 

have hooked, hawklike bills ; the Terns have sharply pointed ones ; and those of the Skimmers 

are bladelike. 

Although there is no sexual variation in coloration in the species included in this order, 

there are seasonal and age differences. Their voices are shrill or harsh. Fish is the main 

item of their diet. 

The eggs are few, usually numbering but three. The young are covered with down 

when hatched, but are helpless and the parents care for them in and out of the nest for 

some time. 




SKUAS AND JAEGERS 

Order Lougipciuics: family Stcrcorariida: 




'HE Skuas and Jaegers are closely related to the Gulls and Terns; in fact they 
are Gulls with habits and structure modified sufficiently to justify their inclusion 
in a distinct family, the Stercorariidcc, while still remaining in the same order, 
the Long-winged vSwimmers. Not the least striking of these modifications is 
a well-developed thieving propensity, with the result that they are often and 
variously called " Robber Gulls," "Sea Hawks," "Teasers," and "Boat- 
swains." Generally they are aggressive and daring birds, graceful, skillful 
and powerful in flight, b}' reason of which they are able to overtake their weaker 
and more timid relatives and force them to disgorge their food, which the pur- 
suer catches in its fall. Because of these practices they are often spoken of 
as parasites, but the practice itself is essentially predatory rather than parasitic. 



The birds' bad habits are not confined to this aerial robbery, however, for certain species 
are known actually to eat young birds and eggs, and even small mammals. 

The Skuas and Jaegers have wings of only moderate length for this group, the primaries 
are unusually wide and are rounded at the ends. The tail is relatively very short, but is 
broad and nearly even, the middle pair of feathers being larger than the others in adults. 
The body is stocky and heavy and powerfully muscled. The claws are strong, sharp, and 
curved. 

There is general tendency toward a sooty blackish coloration of the upper parts in the 
older birds with a gilding of the head and hindneck and a whitening of the shafts of the 
white feathers toward their bases. The young are smaller than the adults and are- profusely 
streaked with rufous; several years are required to reach the color and dimensions of the 
adults. 



Plat 



e 4 




POMAK-INC JAEi ,CN -■■ ■ ' 
LONG-TAILED JAEGER -S/t. 

ADULT 

IMMATURE 



i/Hi'i/ms (Teiiiniiii' i 
i lonuicauilus N'iL'illut 



tS. parasiticus 



DARK FHAb£ 

tNTERMEOtATE 



l^ira.'^itiriis (I. 



All i ii:it. t^ize 



SKUA Mtyalfstris skua (Hriinnich) 



.innafu> * 

PHASE 



SKUAS AND JAEGERS 



SKUA 
Megalestris skua { Bniiiiiicli ) 

A. n r. Xumlit-r ,55 See ( ol(.r I'l.ite 4 



Other Names. — Sea Hawk; Sea 1 kn ; I'.oiiNie: Skua 
Gull. 

General Description. — Length, jj iiKlies. CoUir. 
Ijlackish-lirnwM. 

Plumage. — AnuLTs: iTlacktsli-l'ni-n'ii, varied nl'm'i- 
with clicsliiut and ■zchitish (each feather dark-colored 
with a spot of chestnut toward end, shading into whitish 
along shaft) ; on nape and across throat, reddish-yel- 
low with narrow white streak on each feather ; crown 
and sides of head, with little whitish; wings and tail, 
dusky, white for some distance from base — concealed 
on tail by long coverts, but showing on jirimaries as a 
conspicuous spot; bill, black with gray cere; teet, black; 



iris, brown. Another pluma.ge, not known to be charac- 
teristic of age or season, is iniiform sooty-blackish zcitli 
the 'iK'liitc -tciiiii s/^ols ?v;'v i'('".s-/'iV»ii».\-. 

Nest and Eggs, — Nest : A depression in the grass : 
lined with grass and moss. Eggs: j or j. olive or drab, 
irre.gularly marked and blotched with dark olive-brown 
and sepia. 

Distribution. — Coast and islands of the North Atlan- 
tic; breeds on Lady I'Vanklin Island (Hudson Strait), 
in Iceland, and on the Faroe and Shetland islands; 
winters on fishing banks off Newfoundland and Nova 
Scotia; rarely south to Long Island, N. V.; in Europe 
south to Gibraltar. 



The Skua is one of the larLjeist and strongest 
members of its rapacious genus, and is much 
given to robbing the smaller sea birds, in the 
manner of its relatives. It occasionally strays 
along the North American coasts as far south as 
the northern boundary of the United States. 
There are records of its having been taken at 
least three times ofi the coast of Massachusetts. 
A single mdividual was shot on the Niagara 
River in 1886. and another was killed in i8q6 by 
colliding with the lighthouse at Montauk Point. 
Long Island, N. Y. 



Little seems to have been set down concerning 
the habits of the bird, which, however, jn-obably 
do not differ essentially from those of the Jaeg- 
ers. It does not assemble in flocks. .Seldom are 
even two pairs seen together. It is famed for its 
courage and daring in attacking and teasing 
Gulls and forcing them to give up the fish 
they have caught. Indeed, its scientific name 
is an apt characterization — iiici/alcslris is from 
two Greek words which, translated, are " large 
|iirate craft." In flight it has a striking 
appearance. 



POMARINE JAEGER 
Stercorarius pomarinus ( Tciumhick) 



A. O. V. .\uiiil>c-r Ji. See Colo 



Sea 



Robber; 
inches. 



Gull 
Color 



Other Names. — Gull Hunter 
Chaser; Jaeger Gull. 

General Description. — Length, 24 
above, brownish-lilack ; below, white. 

Description. — .'\dui.ts in Breeding Plumage: Crown 
brownish-black extending below eyes and on sides of 
lower hill ; back, wings, tail, upper and under tail- 
coverts, deep brownish-black; under parts from cliin 
and neck all around, pure white — the sharp feathers 
of back and neck, light yellow; bill, horn color shading 
to black; feet, black; iris, brown. Nearly Adclt: .^ 
row of brown .spots across breast; sides barred with 
white and brown. Intermediate Stai^e : Entire breast, 
brown mottled with white; upper tail-coverts and some 
wing-coverts, barred with white; feet, blotched with 
chrome yellow. In breeding and nearly adult plumage 



•late 4 



the /ii'o iciilnil lail-fcathcrs project about jour incites 
and are tzeisled at riiiht aniiles to the slidjts: in the 
intermediate i)hmiage the central tail-feathers project 
only one inch and are not twisted ; these central feathers 
are rounded at the til'. VofXG oi- the Year: Whole 
liofly traversely barred with dull rufous; on head, neck, 
and under parts this color prevails, the bands very 
numerous, about same width as the dark color ; on 
flanks and under tail-coverts the bars are wider, paler 
and almost white; on back and win.g-coverts, brownish- 
black, nearly uniform, predominates; primaries and 
tail-feathers, dusky, darker at tii)s ; head and neck, 
mostly pale rufous with a dusky spot in front of eye; 
fejt, bright yellow. These plumages are evidently pro- 
gressive with a.gc and are indei)endent of sex and sea- 
son, and different from the following: Dark Phase: 



34 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



Plumage, blackish-brown all over, shading into black 
on crown, lightening on abdomen; primaries, whitish 
at base; feet, blotched with yellow and dusky; middle 
tail-feathers |irojecting but half an inch. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: On the ground in northern 
marshes, of grass and moss. Eggs : 2 or 3, olive, pale 
greenish, or brownish, spotted with dark brown. 

Distribution. — Northern part of northern hemi- 



sphere; breeds from Melville Island and central Green- 
land south to northern Alaska, northern Mackenzie, and 
Baffin Land, and also on .\rctic islands of eastern 
hemisphere ; winters off Atlantic coast south to New 
Jersey; in fall migration common along the California 
coast: winters south to the Galapagos, Peru, Africa, 
and .Xustralia ; accidental in Nebraska ; occurs irregu- 
larlv on the Great Lakes. 



Aly first experience with that bold niaritinie 
robber, the Poniarine Jaeger, was on a day late 
in August, many years ago, when I crossed 
some Cape Cod sand-dunes and came in sight of 
the sea. Flocks of Terns and small Gulls were 
hovering over the water in all directions. Over 
them were big dark-colored birds with long tails 



On the fishing-banks out at sea, wherever the 
Shearwaters and Petrels gather, from August on 
through the autumn, I have usually found this 
Jaeger in attendance, ^^'ith them are apt to be 
about as many Parasitic Jaegers atid an occa- 
sional one of the Long-tailed species. The Jaegers 
are seen flying about, not close to the water like 



Young — Dark Phase 




Drawing by R. I. Brasher 



POMARINE JAEGER (i nat. size) 
A bold maritime robber 



coursing about with strong, swift flight. Now 
and then one of these would select for its victim 
a Tern which had just caught a fish, and give 
chase. No matter how the unfortunate one might 
dart and dodge, the Jaeger followed every move, 
atid by savage attacks finally compelled it to 
drop the fish. Then by a spectacular swoop the 
robber would seize the booty in mid-air. When 
no victims are available for a hold-uii. the 
Jaeger turns scavenger and picks uj) dead 
marine life like a true Gull, but its preference 
is for depredation. 



the other:^, but higher up, say fifty to seventy- 
five feet, as though to get a better view, to detect 
any weaker bird which makes a lucky strike. 
Though somewhat shyer than the rest, they are 
bold enough upon occasion, especially when 
eatables are being passed around. Sometimes I 
have brought theiu up quite close by making 
believe to throw something overboard. I have 
baited up numbers of them by throwing out fish 
livers, and made the most of the opportunity in 
securing photographs. At close range it was 
fasciimting to study the different individuals as 



SKUAS AND JAEGERS 



35 



they appeared, owing to their great variations in 
pkmiage, all the way from the sooty phase to 
that of the adult with white under parts. 

Jaegers are Aretic-breeding birds, not nesting 
in colonies, like the Ciulls and Terns, hut in 



scattered pairs. Such destructive l)irds \vould 
hardly make good colonizers. They are said to 
be great nest-robbers, and woe to the bird which 
leaves eggs or young exposed to these savages. 

1 l:-:Rr.i;KT K. Job. 



H 



>»: 




b\ H. K. J., 



Courtesy of Houghton Mitflin Cn. 



POMARINE JAEGER 
In quest of a victim 



PARASITIC JAEGER 

Stercorarius parasiticus I Liiuitcns) 

A. O. l_'. Xuniher j; See (. olor I'l.ite 4 



Other Names. — Skait-bird ; Boatswain; Marline- 
spike; Teaser; Dung Hunter; Man-o'-vvar ; Richard- 
son's Jaeger ; Black-toed Gull ; .'\rctic Hawk Gull. 

General Description. — Length. 20 inches. Color 
above, brownish-black; below, white. Two middle tail- 
fratlirrs, iiarrou' and pointed, as ~cctl as ctoni/alcd. 

Color. — .'\dults in Breedinc Plum.-vge: Crown and 
back of head, crested, the feathers sharp and stiff; 
crown and whole upper parts, slaty brownish-black, 
shading into black on wings and tail ; chin, tliroat, sides 
of head, neck all around, and under parts, pure white, 
the sharp feathers on back of neck, light yellow; under 
tail-coverts, dusky ; bill, horn color, darker at end ; feet. 
black: iris, brown. Xe.\ri.v .'\dui.t: Under parts, white 
but mottled everywhere with dusky patches, heaviest 
across breast, on sides, and under tail-coverts ; center 
line of throat and abdomen, nearly pure white; feet, 
witli small yellow blotches or not ; otherwise as in 
breeding plumage. D.\rk Ph.\,se: Kntire plumage, 
dusky, darker and more slate-colored above, li.ghter and 
i/rowner below; crown, black; back of head and neck, 
yellow; wings and tail, black: feet, black, Vofxt; of 
•rnr '\'k.\k: Entire plumage, barred with rufous and 



brownish-black; yellowish-rufous i)revails on head and 
neck with dark shaft line on each feather; these shaft 
lines enlarge until between shoulders they occupy the 
whole of each feather except a narrow rufous border; 
0,1 breast rufous becomes almost white, with traverse 
bars of brown, this pattern continuin.g over the entire 
under parts; primaries, dusky, narrowly tipped with 
rufous. 

Nest and Eggs. — X'e.st: .-V depression in the ground 
near water, sjiarsely lined with grass and dead leaves, 
Kr,(;s : 2 or ,3, olive, greenish, gray, or brown, marked 
and blotched with shades of brown and pale lavender 
over entire surface. 

Distribution. — Xorthern part <<i northern hemi- 
sphere; breeds from northwestern .Alaska, Melville 
Island, and northern Greenland soutli to .\lcutian 
Islands, central Mackenzie, central Keewatin, an<l on 
.Arctic islands of .Siberia and of northern Europe south 
to Scotland ; winters from .Meutian Islands south to 
California, from New Tuigland coast southward to 
Brazil, in .Australia, and from the coast of Europe 
south to the Cape of (jood Hope: casual in interior to 
the Great Lakes, Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado. 



36 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



As its name implies, the Parasitic Jaeger is a 
robber and lives largely on what it can take by 
force from its smaller brethren. It is large, and 
very strong and swift in flight, and the Eskimos 
call it " the cannibal '' because, they say, once 
upon a time it killed and devoured men. It is 
much swifter and quicker than the Pomarine 
species, which it attacks and drives away, but it 
is less graceful on the wing. According to Ed- 
ward W. Nelson, these birds bully and rob the 
Gulls and Terns, forcing them tn disg(.irge fish 
which they have caught, and swooping below 



them snatch the food as it falls, very much 
in the manner of the Bald Eagle robbing the 
Fish Hawk. 

These Jaegers often hunt in pairs and will then 
attack and rob even the Glaucous-winged Gull, 
which could make short work of its tormentors if 
it could only get at them. " P)Ut the parasites 
are too adroit, too elusive, and too desperately 
persistent," says Mr. Dawson. " The Gull hates 
to do it, but also he hates to be buffeted and 
hustled away from the fishing-grounds. ' Here, 
take it, you scum, and be off with you I ' " 



LONG-TAILED JAEGER 

Stercorarius longicaudus I'ieillut 

A. O. V. Number 38 See Color IMate 4 



Other Names. — Arctic Jaeger; Gull-teaser. 

General Description. — Length. 23 inclies. Color 
above, deep purplisli-slate ; below, white deepening into 
slate. During breeding season, crowns have slight 
crests. This is a smaller bird than the Parasitic Jaeger, 
the greater length being due to the c.vti-cuicly lotig tail- 
feathers. 

Color. — Adults in Breeding Pi.um-\ge: Lores and 
side of head above eye to nape, brownish-black; neck all 
around light straw-yellow ; above with wing and tail- 
coverts, deep purplish-slate, deepening on primaries, 
secondaries, outside tail-feathers, and ends of central 
pair into lustrous broivnish-black : chin, throat, and 
upper breast, white gradually shading into the dark 
slate of abdomen and under tail-coverts ; bill, dusky with 



black tip ; feet, grayish-blue ; toes, webs, and claws, 
black; iris, brown. Imm.-vture: Changes of plumage 
identical with those of previous species. D.\rk Phase: 
Very rare. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: Depression in the ground, 
scantily lined with dry grass and leaves. Eggs: 2 or 3, 
(lark greenish, thickly spotted and blotched with brown. 

Distribution. — Northern part of northern hemi- 
spliere ; breeds on Arctic islands of Europe and Asia, 
and coasts of Kotzebue and Norton sounds, northern 
Mackenzie and northern Hudson Bay to northern 
Greenland ; winters south to Gibraltar and Japan ; in 
migration not rare of? New England coast ; casual on 
the Pacific coast south to California; accidental in 
Manitoba, Iowa, Illinois, and Florida. 



Nelson describes the T-ong-tailed Jaeger as 
" the most elegant of the Jaegers in its general 
make-up, and especially when on the wing. At 
this time, the bird shows all the grace and ease 
of movement which characterize such birds as 
the Swallow-tailed Kite, and other species with 
very long wings and slender bodies. It appears 
to delight in exhibiting its agility, and two or 
more frequentl}' perform strange gyrations and 
evolutions during their flight as they pass back 
and forth over the low, flat country which they 
frequent. It is, like the Parasitic Jaeger, found 
more plentifully along the low portions of the 



coast th;in at sea, and is very numerous along the 
coast of Norton Sound." 

Like the other members of the genus, this 
Jaeger is a persistent and merciless robber of the 
smaller Gulls, swooping down on them and forc- 
ing them to disgorge fish or mollusks they have 
taken, and capturing the food as it falls. Flocks 
of Kittiwakes are likely to be accompanied by 
one or more of these Jaegers industriously en- 
gaged in this brigandism. 

The species may be readily identified by the 
marked elongation of the central tail-feathers. 

George GL.^DDEN. 



u 




a 

us 



M 
o 
O 

« 

m 

o 

p$ 

a 
o 
o 

h-l 

< 

1/2 



•3 



Pi 



i4 



n 



.57 1 



38 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 




GULLS 

Order Loiigipcimcs; family Laridcr; subfamily Lariucc 

IHE Gulls comprise the subfamily Larincc of the Gull and Tern family (Laridcs) 
which is part of the order of long-winged swimmers iLoigipcuucs). There 
are about fifty species of Gulls, some of which are often found far inland, but 
most of which show an especial fondness for the seacoasts and their immediate 
vicinity. As a rule they are larger than their allies, the Terns, from whom 
they differ also in generally having almost square tails, though there are 
exceptions to this rule in the form of Terns with nearly square tails and of 
Gulls with tails which are more or less forked. An invariable difference, 
however, is in the structure of the upper bill, which is ridged and hooked at 
the end in Gulls and virtually straight in Terns. When hunting food, Gulls 
usually fly with their bill nearly on a line with the body, while Terns carry 
theirs pointed downward. Again, the Gulls alight freely on the water to feed, whereas 
the Terns hover and plunge for their food. 

The Gulls show considerable variation in color, and some seasonal changes in plumage 
which have caused confusion in identifying species. " The predominating color of the adult 
birds," says Stejneger, " is white with a gray mantle, varying in shade from the most delicate 
pearl-gray to dark blackish-slate or nearly black, and the head is often more or less marked 
with black in summer. The seasonal change is not great, and affects chiefly the color of the 
head, which, in species with black heads, turns white in winter, while the White-headed 
Gulls usually get that part streaked with dark during the same season." 

All of the species are web-footed and swim readily; they show little skill in diving, how- 
ever, and the living fish they prey upon are chiefly the kind which come near the surface 
of the water, like the herring. On the wing they show perfect ease, and remarkable quick- 
ness and cleverness in their maneuvering, especially in the wind. It is certain, too, that 
they are capable of very long flights. 

Gulls are markedly gregarious, and this instinct is especially in evidence during the 
breeding season, when several species may congregate on favorite nesting ledges to the 
number of thousands, if not millions. Their nests are composed usually of seaweeds and 
moss, and the eggs, usually no more than two or three, range in color from bluish-white 
to brownish, with blotches and spots of black, brown, or purplish. 

Flocks of Gulls resting lightly on the waters of our harbors or following the wake of 
water craft are a familiar sight, but not every observer of the graceful motions of the birds 
is aware of the fact that Gulls are the original " white- wings." As sea scavengers they 
welcome as food dead fish, garbage, and offal of various sorts, and their services in cleaning up 
such material are not to be regarded lightly. It will surprise many to learn that certain 
Gulls render important inland service, especially to agriculture. At least one species, the 
California Gull, is extremely fond of field mice, and during an outbreak of that pest in 
Nevada in 1907-8 hundreds of Gulls assembled in and near the devastated alfalfa fields and 
fed entirely on mice, thus lending the farmers material aid in their warfare against the 
pestiferous little rodents. Several species of Gulls render valuable service to agriculture 
by destroying insects also, and in spring hundreds of Franklin's Gulls in Wisconsin and 
the Dakotas follow the plowman to pick up the insect larva" uncovered by the share. 

That at least one community has not been unmindful of the substantial debt it owes 
the Gull is attested in Salt Lake City, where stands a monument surmounted by bronze 
figures of two Gulls, erected by the people of that city "in grateful remembrance" of the 
signal service rendered by these birds at a critical time in the history of the community. 
For three consecutive years — 1848 to 1850 — black crickets by millions threatened to 
ruin the crops upon which depended the very lives of the settlers. Large flocks of California 
Gulls came to the rescue and devoured vast numbers of the destructive insects, until the 
fields were entirely freed from them. It is no wonder that the sentiment of the people of 
Utah, as reflected through their laws, affords Gulls the fullest protection. It would be well 






Plate 5 




4>r'f 






KlNtj-blLLtU »-iULL 

La tin <li.iaifiii''-iisis Oi'«l 



JLl 



ADULT II. SUMMER 
GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL 

Lurn.'i ma'inii.^i Linna<-US 
IMMATURE ADULT IN SUMMER 



IMMATURE ADULT IN SUMMER 

GLAUCOUS GULL 

Ldru-s h;/iMr()i>rru.^ CIuuiumus 
fND or SECOND YEAR ADULT IN SUMMER 

IMMATURE 

All 1 rwit. size 



GULLS 



39 



if such sentiment prevailed elsewhere throughout the United States. However, within 
the last few years much progress has been made in protecting these most beautiful dwellers 
of coasts and marshes. 



IVORY GULL 
Pagophila alba { ii luiiu-ni.s) 

\. O. U. .Number 39 •'^ec (. olor I'late 6 



Other Name. — Snow-white Gull. 

General Description. — Lengtli, icS inches. White. 

Color. — .\dults ; Entire plumage, l^urc zchilc; shaft 
of primaries straw yellow; bill, dull greenish, yellow at 
tip and along cutting edges ; feet, black ; iris, brown ; 
eyelids, red. Young : Front and sides of head, dusky- 
gray ; neck all around with irregular spotting of brown- 
ish-gray ; shoulders and wing-coverts with brownish- 
black spots, thicker on lesser coverts ; tips of primaries 
and tail-feathers with dusky spots. 



Nest and Eggs. — Nest: In niches of cliffs; con- 
structed of gras.^ and seaweed, and lined with moss 
and a few feathers. Eggs; j to 4, olive-buff, spotted 
with different shades of brown and gray. 

Distribution. — .\rctic seas; breeds from Melville 
Island and northern Baffin Land to northern Green- 
land and Arctic islands of eastern hemisphere; win- 
ters in the e.xtreme north, rarely south to British Colum- 
bia. Lake Ontario, and Long Island. N. Y. ; in Europe 
south to France. 



The first word uf the scieiitiiic iKinic of the 
Ivory Gull expresses its chief cliaracteristic, just 
as the second word — alba, the Latin for " white " 
— is descriptive of its plumage. Patjophila is 
from two Greels: words meaning " ice " and 
"loving." Hence this beatitiful snow-white (itill 
is a rare visitant to the temperate zone of this 
continent from its home in the Arctic seas. The 
only verified record of the appearance of the 
bird in New York seems to be that furnished by 
William Dutcher of one shot in Great South Baw 
L. I., near Sayville, in January, 1893. Another 
observer reports having seen a single member 



of the species near Alt. Sinai Harbor, in Suft'olk 
Countv, N. V. In summer it occurs frequently 
on the Arctic islands of the eastern hemisphere. 
;ind in winter it r.anges soiUhward to France. 

rile greenish-vellow Iieak and tlie black legs are 
in striking contrast t(i its beiuUilul snovv-wiiite 
plumage. It differs from other ( lulls in the com- 
parative shortness of its beak, and slightly taper- 
ing tail. 

The Ivory Gull is a glutton whenever it can 
iibtain the flesh of seals or the bluliber of whales. 

It will watch a seal-hole in the ice. waiting for 
the seal, whose excrement it devours. 



KITTIWAKE 
Rissa tridactyla tridactyla ( Liinncus) 



.\. <» I'. .Xumber 40 

Other Names. — Common Kittiwake; Kittiwakc Gull; 
I'lck-nic-up ; Coddy-Moddy ; Tarrock. 

General Description. — Length, i8 inches. Color, 
wliitc with pale grayish-blue mantle. I linii to<\ ahsnit 
or iiniiinciitary : tail, slightly notched. 

Color. — .Xdui.ts in Summer: Head and neck all 
around, under parts, and tail, pure white; mantle, 
pale grayish-blue; wing-coverts and secondaries similar, 



Stt- Cuior riate 6 

latter white on tips : l^riiiiarirx. hlackislt-l'liie with white 
oblong spaces on inner webs, the second, third and 
fourth with white ti|)s; /(■(■/, hldckish: hill, light xcUoik' 
tinged with olive; iris, brown; eyelids, red. Adults in 
Winter: Back of head, nai)e. and sides of breast, shaded 
with color of back; a dusky patch behind eye and a 
small black crescent in front of eye; bill, dusky-olive: 
otherwise as in summer. \'oung : Eye-crescent and spot 



40 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



behind eye as in winter adult plumage ; a broad bar 
across back of neck, lesser and middle wing-coverts, 
inner secondaries, and a terminal bar on tail, black ; 
first four primaries with outer webs, outer half of 
inner webs and ends for some distance, black ; the rest, 
pearly-white. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : On rocky ledges overlook- 
ing the water; made of grass and seaweed. Eggs: 2 or 
3, sometimes 5, buff, brownisli-gray, or greenish- 



gray, irregularly spotted with shades of brown and 
lavender. 

Distribution. — Arctic regions; breeds from Wel- 
lington Channel and northern Greenland south to Gulf 
of St. Lawrence, and from Arctic islands of Europe 
and western Siberia to southern France; winters from 
Gulf of St. Lawrence south to New Jersey, and cas- 
ually to Virginia. Bermuda, and the Great Lakes; 
accidental in Missouri, Colorado, and Wyoming. 



The graceful and industrious little Kittiwake 
has several interesting and characteristic traits. 
It pursues its prey after the manner of the Terns, 
hovering over the water and plunging head fore- 
most into the sea, with all of the dash and vigor 
of a Kingfisher. These Gulls are often seen 
following right whales apparently to get the 
fragments of tish rejected or dropped by those 
monsters. Observers who have watched the 
birds doing this say that they act as if they knew 
when the whales must rise to breathe. 

The Kittiwake feeds mainly on fish, but will 
take almost any animal or vegetable refuse it 
can find. For drinking it prefers salt water to 
fresh, and it is often seen sleejnng peacefully, 
floating on the great rollers, with its head tucked 
under its wing — literally " rocked in the cradle 
of the deep." It is a great wanderer, and de- 



cidedly democratic in its disposition, for it is 
often found in the company of other Gulls, 
Terns, and various other sea-birds. 

It takes its vernacular name from a fancied 
resemblance between its cry and the syllables 
" kit-ti-wake." In its scientific name, Rissa is 
its Icelandic name, and t rid act via is from the 
(jreek, meaning " three-toed," and refers to an 
anatomical peculiarity of the species. 

The Pacific Kittiwake ( Rissa tridactyla polli- 
caris) is a geographical variation of the Common 
Kittiwake. The two differ hut very little. The 
former occurs off the coasts of the north 
Pacific, Bering Sea, and the adjacent Arctic 
Ocean, breeding from Cape Lisburne and Herald 
Island south to the Aleutian and Commander 
Islands, and wintering from the Aleutian Islands 
south to northern Lower California. 




Photograph by ti. K. Job 



Cuurtc-sy of Outing PubHshing Co. 



KITTIWAKE 
In its nest on a cliS 



GULLS 



41 



GLAUCOUS GULL 

Larus hyperboreus Guiincrus 



A. <J I', \umhcr 4 

Other Names. — Burgomaster; Burgomaster Gull; 
Ice Gull : Harbor Gull ; Blue Gull. 

Length. — 30 inches. 

Color. — .Adults in Summer: Mantle, falc bhic-yray : 
rest of plumaijc, entirely white: bill, chrome yellow, 
more waxy on end with a bright vermilion spot at 
angle; legs, pale flesh color; iris, light yellow, -\dui.ts 
IN Winter: Similar to summer plumage, but head and 
hindneck tinged with pale brownish-gray. Young : 
Upper parts, u4iitish mottled ivith raiv itinher, pale red- 
dish-bro'ccn. and dusky, this coloration heaviest on back; 
under parts, nearly uniform pale brown ; wings and tail, 
barred with same ; hill and legs, pale flesh color, the 
former black-tijiped ; iris, brown. 



Si-c Color r'l,ite 5 

Nest and Eggs.— Nest : In tussocks of grass: con- 
structed of seaweed and dry grass. Eggs : 2 or 3, white 
to dark grayish-brown, blotched with brown and 
brownish-black. 

Distribution. — Arctic regions ; breeds from north- 
western Alaska, Melville Island, and northern Green- 
land, south to Aleutian Islands, northern Mackenzie, 
and central Ungava, and on Arctic islands of eastern 
hemisphere; winters from the Aleutians and Green- 
land south to Monterey, California, the Great Lakes, 
and Long Island, N. Y., and casually to Bermuda, 
North Carolina, and Te.xas ; in Europe and Asia south 
to the Mediterranean, Black, and Caspian seas, and 
Japan. 



Under one of its popular names, the " Burgo- 
master Gull," the Glaucous Gull was made 
famous, or rather infamous, by Celia Thaxter's 
poem, which described its rapacious habits. 
This j)ocm found its way into many school read- 
ing books of a generation ago. It gives a 
vivid and substantially accurate picture of the 
appearance and activities of a group of sea birds, 
and portrays one of the characteristics of the 
Burgomaster. Indeed, according to other ob- 
servers, the bird not only robs smaller Gulls and 
other sea birds of the hsh they catch, but eats 
their eggs and young and sometimes the adult 
birds themselves. It is recorded that a member 
of Ross's expedition to the .\rctic regions shot 
one of these Gulls which. u[ioii being struck, 
disgorged a Little .-Xuk it had just devoured, and 
when dissected was found to have another mem- 
ber of the same species in its stomach. 



Fishing fleets are likely to have the company 
of one or more of these Gulls, on the watch for 
any offal that may be thrown overboard. Under 
such conditions it has often been caught with a 
hook and line with a fish as bait. Though 
naturally timid and suspicious, its fondness for 
offal is likely to overcome its caution, and cause 
it to enter bays and even inland waters. Several 
specimens have been taken in the lower Hudson 
River and in New York Bay. and individuals 
have been seen in the Great Lakes. 

A curious trait of this Gull is its apparent dis- 
inclination to alight in the water. In its natural 
habitat it alights generally on the highest point 
of an ice hummock. It displavs none of the 
affection for its kindred which is characteristic 
of most of the Terns and Gulls, and will 
promptly desert either young or mate when they 
are in danger. 



GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL 
Larus marinus Li)iiiiriis 



A, 

Gull 



<) v. Xumlier 47 

Saddleback; 



Other Names. — Black-backed 
Coflin-carrier : Cobb; Wagell. 

General Description. — Length, 30 inches. Color, 
white with a deep slate mantle. 

Color. — Adults in Su.mmer: Mantle, deep dark slate 
■Zintli a purplish timje: secondaries, broadly tipped with 
white; primaries, black, white-tipped; rest of plumage, 
pure white; bill, chrome yellow, tip wax yellow with 
a large spot of bright vermilion on angle; legs, pale 
flesh color; iris, lemon-yellow; eyelids, vermilion. 
Adults in Winter: Similar to summer jilumage. but 
head and neck streaked with dusky. YouNc. : .\bove, 
dull whitish, mottled with brown and pale chestnut; 
wing-coverts and secondaries, dull brown with light 
edges ; primaries, plain dusky, tipped with white ; tail, 



.See Color Plate 5 

brownish-black, fading to white at base, imperfectly 
barred with brown ; forehead, crown, and under parts 
in general, dull whitish, mottled on abdomen with brown 
and dusky ; throat, usually immaculate but sometimes 
like breast with faint brownish streaks. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : Usually on small island ; 
large and bulky; constructed of dry grasses and well- 
cupped. Eggs: 2 or 3, pale olive-gray, blotched with 
dark brown and black, with some purplish spots. 

Distribution. — Coasts of North Atlantic; breeds 
from North Devon Island and central Greenland south 
to Nova Scotia, and to latitude 50° on European coasts ; 
winters from southern Greenland south to the Great 
Lakes and Delaware Bay (casually to Morida). and the 
Canaries ; accidental in Bermuda. 



42 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



John Maclair Boraston. an English ornithol- 
ogist, inckided the following characterization of 
the Great Black-backed Gull in his book Birds 
by Land and Sea: 

"A staider and more deliberate flight marks the 
movements of the Great Black-backed and as 
he passes slowly before you, his eye on a level 
with your own, the brow seems to beetle in a set 
frown, and the glass catches the expression of 
the deeply set eye. It seems an old eye, wise, 
authoritative. And, in fact, the bird may have 
been old when you were a child, for it requires 
four years for a Great Black-back to acquire all 
the marks of maturitv, and its lifetime may well 



pleasure is aroused, he will return again and 
again to swoop at you with menacing cry. ' The 
sea is mine,' he seems to say ; ' and the smit- 
ten rocks. Get back to your brick-and-mortar 
cages with their glass peep-holes.' A century 
of the sea may well give a sense of prescriptive 
right." 

This beautiful and dignifiecl bird is frequently 
seen as a winter visitant ofT the shores of Long 
Island (between September and March) and on 
the Great Lakes. Its breeding places are con- 
fined to the Atlantic coast. It is very shy but 
exceedingly noisy, ^^'illiam Brewster says that 
he identified four distinct cries: "a braying ha- 







Drawing by R. I. Brashe 



GREAT BLACK-BACKED GtJLL (J nat. size) 
Four years are required for this Gull to attain maturity 



be a century. It will take offence at your 
presence more readily than the other Gulls, and 
as it passes, utters a low Ha-ha-ha-ha! and sails 
on solemnly leaving you admonished. If his dis- 



ha-ha, a deep kcow, kcozc, a short barking note 
and a long drawn groan, very loud and decidedly 
impressive." The kcow cry suggests the note 
of the Green Heron. 



Other Names. — Common Gull 
Gull ; Lake Gull ; Winter Gull. 

General Description. — Length. 24 inches. Color, 
pure white with grayish-blue mantle. 



HERRING GULL 

Larus argentatus Pontoppidan 

.\. O V. Xunilier 51 See Color Plate 5 

Harbor Gull ; Sea 



Color. — .Adults in Summer: Head, neck. tail, and 
under parts, pure white; mantle, urayish-bluc ; outer 
primaries, dusky with white spots and tips : center 
ones, color of inantle with black subtcnninal bar and 



GULLS 



4.1 



Jiii/Toii' z(.'liitr til^s: rest of primaries and secondaries, 
with white tips ; bill, chrome yellow with red spot at 
anijle : feet, brownish flesh color; iris, yellow. .Adults 
IX Winter: Similar to snmmer plumage, but head and 
neck streaked with dusky, and yellow of bill duller. 
Young: Dull whitish, varied everywhere with shades 
of brown and dusky ; tail, plain brown ; primaries and 
secondaries, brown with white tips ; bill, pale flesh color, 
dusky at end : legs, flesh color ; iris, brown. There is 
much variation in the amount of dusky color in indi- 
viduals; young of the year are sometimes almost 
entirely sooty-brown ; this changes with the gradual 
acquisition of lighter tips and edges of the feathers, 
finally reaching the perfect adult plumage in three years. 
Nest and Eggs. — Nest: Sometimes on the ground, 
occasionally in trees ; ground nests usually mere depres- 



sions with scant nesting material; tree nests bulky and 
well constructed of strongly interwoven grass and moss. 
Ki;(;s: 3. light bluish or greenish-white to dark olive- 
brown, irregularly blotched, spotted, and scrawled with 
dark brown and black. 

Distribution. — Xorthcrn hemispliere ; in .America 
breeds from south-central .Alaska, across British 
-America to Cumberland Sound, south to British Colum- 
l)ia, across the United States on about the parallel 43' 
to Maine, and in P2urope south to northern b'rance and 
east to White Sea ; winters from northern border of 
United States southward to Lower California and west- 
ern Me.xico, and from Gulf of St. Lawrence and the 
Great Lakes south to the Bahamas, Cuba, Yucatan, and 
coast of Texas, and in Europe to Mediterranean and 
Caspian seas. 



The most ahiiiKlant CiuU along the .Atl.intic 
coast of the L'nited States is the familiar Her- 
ring Gull. It is the sjiecies we hnd follmving the 
coast-wise ships looking eagerly for any scraps 
of food that are thrown overboard from the 
cook's gallev. .\t low tide we may find them, 
often bv htmdreds, standing on the exposed bars 
and mud flats. They come into the harbors and 
flv about the ])ier.. They wander far up the 
rivers and are continually met with even on the 
smaller lakes of the intenor. Their food crm- 
sists l.-irgelv of tish, ;uid the fact that some deni- 
zen of the fleep m;iy have been dead many days 



before the waves cast it upon the beach makes no 
difference with them. They are as fond of 
carrion as is a \ ulture. One j)eculiar habit thev 
have is the breaking of clam shells in a most 
tinusual manner. \Mien the water is low they 
sail over the mud flat until a clam is discovered. 
Dropping down they grasp it in their feet and 
fly away to a portion of the beach where the sand 
is packed hard and here from a height of forty 
or fifty feet they let it fall. I have seen one 
repeat this performance fotirteen times before 
the shell broke and allowed it to enjoy the feast 
it so much craved. 




Adult 



Drawing by R. I. Brasher 

HERRING Gtn,L 
^i nat. size) 



The most abundant Gull along the Atlantic coast of 
the United States 




[44l 



GULLS 



45 



Herrinsx Gulls breed on the rocky islands off 
the coast of Maine and thence northward. Fre- 
quently they assemble in very lartje numbers at 
this season. Probably lo.ooo nest annually on 
Great Duck Island and the colony on the island 
of No-Man's-Land, Maine, has of recent vears 
been even larger. The nests are made of grass 
and are often hidden in clumps of grass, bv the 
side of logs or among piles of bowlders. Within 
a few days after hatching the young are able to 
run about and when a visitor walks through a 
breeding colony at this time the young birds go 
scuttling away in every direction like so many 
dirty little sheep. Although hard to catch thev 
at once become docile when picked up. I have 
sometimes amused myself by laying them on their 
backs where they will often remain perfectly 
still imtil a row of half a dozen have thus been 
assembled. 

Apparently these Gulls are their own wrirst 
enemies, as hundreds of young are annually 



killed by the old birds, who peck them on the 
head. Unfortunately the young appear to be 
unable to distinguish between parent and neigh- 
bors, and when an old one alights nearby thev 
come up trustingly in quest of food; frequently 
swift death is their reward. 

Formerly hundreds of thousands of this 
species were killed in summer for the millinery 
trade ; but the Audubon Law^ now makes this a 
misdemeanor in every State where they are 
found, and wardens employed by the National 
.Association of Audubon Societies to-day guard 
all the important breeding colonies in the United 
States. 

There are nesting communities of them at 
various places in the interior as, for example. 
Lake Champlain, Moosehead Lake, and the Great 
Lakes. A very similar subspecies known as the 
Western Gull {Larus occidciitalis ) inhabits the 
Pacific coast of North America. 

T. GiLBKKT Pe.\RSON. 



General Description. — Length. 23 
pure white with pearly-blue mantle. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Mantle, pearly-blue; 
outer primaries, black with white spots and tips, the 



CALIFORNIA GULL 
Larus californicus Lawrence 

A. O. U. Number 5^i 

inches. Ci'lor. black grading to a narrow bar on si.xth primary; sec- 



ondaries, white-tipped; rest of plumage, pure white; 
bill, chrome yellow, a vermilion spot at angle below 
with a small black spot above; feet, dusky hlnish-qrccn; 




Photo by W. L. Finlcy and H. T. Bohlman 



CALIFORNIA GULLS 
They generally nest in colonies on the inland lakes of western tJnited States 



46 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



webs, ycllozt.'; iris, brown ; eyelids, red. Adults in 
Winter : Similar to summer plumage, but head and neck 
streaked with dusky and bill much duller. Young: 
Dull whitish, mottled with dusky on head, neck, rump, 
wing-coverts, and secondaries; back, grayish-blue, 
feathers with lighter edges ; bill, dull Hesh color ; 
terminal halt, dusky. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest; On the ground; constructed 
of small sticks and grass. Eggs ; Usually 3 or 4. some- 



times 5, pale bluish-white to brownish-clay color, 
blotched with dark brown and black zigzag markings. 
Distribution. — Western North America: breeds from 
east-central British Columbia and Great Slave Lake 
south to northeastern California, northern Utah, and 
northern North Dakota ; winters from its breeding 
range southward to Lower California and western 
Mexico ; accidental in Kansas, Te.xas, Colorado, Al- 
berta, and Hawaii. 



RING-BILLED GULL 



Larus delawarensis Ord 

.\. U. .Xumbcr 54 See Coliir Plate 



Other Names. — Common Gull ; Lake Gull. 

General Description. — Length. 20 inches. Color, 
pure white with pale bluish-gray mantle. Easily con- 
fused with the Herring Gull. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Mantle, pale bluish- 
gray ; first primary, black, white spot near end ; second, 
plain black; third, black with gray space on inner web; 
next three, black-tipped ; rest of primaries and sec- 
ondaries, colop of mantle; rest of plumage, pure white; 
bill, greenish-yellow with a broad band of black cucir- 
cling it at angle: feet, greenish-yellow; iris, pale yel- 
low; eyelids, red. Adults in Winter; Similar to sum- 
mer plumage, but head and neck behind sf^ottcd with 
dusky. Young ; Above, mottled with brown and gray- 
ish-blue ; wing-coverts, mostly dusky margined with 
lighter; secondaries and primaries, with a subterniinal 



brownish area shading forward into gray; tail, with a 
broad subterminal band of dusky and indistinctly barred 
with brown; below, faintly mottled with brownish; bill, 
flesh color, dusky on terminal half ; legs, dull greenish- 
yellow ; iris, brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : In the grass in marshes ; 
liuilt of dead reeds. Eggs: 2 to 3, bluish-white to dark 
firown, spotted and blotched with dififerent shades of 
brown and lavender. 

Distribution. — North .A.merica at large ; breeds from 
southern British Columbia across British America to 
southern Ungava, south to Oregon, Colorado, North 
Dakota, central Wisconsin, central Ontario, northern 
New York (casually), and northern Quebec; winters 
from northern United States southward to Bermuda, 
the Gulf coast, Cuba, and southern Mexico. 



r 




Photo by H. K. Job 



Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Co. 



RING-BILLED GULLS RETURNING TO iiEST 



GULLS 



47 



The versatility of the Gull shows his degree of 
intelligence. He is equipped for life on the water. 
His webbed feet are for swimming, but he doesn't 
seem to care whether nature equips him for the 
sea or not. His taste often runs to angle-worms 
instead of sardines. As the notion takes him, lie 
will take up quarters about a pig-pen or a garbage 
pile, follow the plow as a Blackbird does, picking 
up angle-worms, or he will sail along in the wake 
of a vessel for days at a time to satisfy his taste 
for scraps. 

The California and Ring-billed Gulls generally 
nest together in big colonies on the inland lakes 
through the western part of the United States. 
In many places, these birds are of great economic 
importance. I have seen them sjiread out over 
the fields and through the sagebrush and get 
their living by catching grasshoppers. In Utah, 
the Gull lives about the beet fields and alfalfa 
lands and follows the irrigating ditches. \\ hen 
the fields are irrigated and the water rushes 
along, seeping into holes and driving mice from 
their burrows, the Gulls flock about and gorge 
themselves on these rodents. 

After the nesting season, large flocks of Cali- 
fornia and Ring-billed Gulls often collect along 
the southern coasts to spend the winter. While 
at Santa Monica, California, during the winter 
of 1905 and 1906, I often watched the flocks of 
Gulls returning every evening from far inland 
where they had been skirmishing during the day. 
I often saw them about the gardens and in 



the fields. A few miles from the ocean is the 
Soldiers' Home at Sawtelle. The garbage is 
hauled two or three times a day over to the pig- 
pens. When the dump wagon reaches the pens, 
the driver not only always finds himself besieged 
by a lot of hungry ]iorkers, but a flock of Gulls 




Courtesy of Nat. .Afso .\ud. Soc. 
NEST AND EGGS OF CALIFORNIA GULL 

is always at hand to welcome his arrival. They 
sit around on the ground or fences waiting 
patiently. The Gulls and pigs eat together. The 
Gull doesn't care if his coat gets soiled, for he 
returns to the shore each evening and takes a 
good bath before bedtime. 

William L. Finlev. 



inches. Head, 



Other Name. — White-headed Gull. 

General Description. — Length. Jo 
white ; body, bluish-gray. 

Color. — Adults: Head all around, pure white, shad- 
ing on neck into bluish-ash of under parts and into the 
dark bluisli-slalc of upper parts: rump and upper tail- 
coverts, clear ash ; primaries, black with narrow white 
tips; tail, black narrowly tipped with white; bill, bright 
red, black on terminal third; feet, dusky-red; iris, 
brown ; eyelids, red. Young : Head and throat, mot- 



HEERMANN'S GULL 
Larus heermanni Cassiii 

\. n U. Xumber 57 

tied with dusky and dull white; upper tail-coverts, 
gray; tail, broadly white-tipped; otherwise similar to 



aduh plumage. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : Probably similar to others 
of the genus. EuGS : Dull yellowish-drab, scatteringly 
marked with spots of brown and lilac. 

Distribution. — Pacific coast of North America; 
breeds in Lower California and western Mexico; 
migrates north to southern British Columbia; winters 
from northern California southward to Guatemala. 



As Mr. Dawson says, " Heermann's Gull is an 
inveterate loafer and sycophant. C){ southern 
blood (we have just learned that he is bred on 
the islands of¥ the coast of Mexico) he comes 
north in June only to float and loaf and dream 
throughout the remainder of the season. Visit 
Vol. I — s 



the ■ Bird Rocks ' of Ivosario Straits early in 
July and you will find a colony of Glaucous- 
wings distraught with family cares and wheeling 
to and fro in wild concern at your presence, 
while upon a rocky knf)h at one side, a white- 
washed club room, sit half a thousand Heer- 



48 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



manns, impassive, haughty, silent. If you press 
inquiry they suddenly take to wing and fill the 
air with low-pitched mellow cries of strange 
quality and sweetness. And go where you will 
at that season, the Heermann's Gull is guiltless 
of local attachments — in the North." {Birds 
of Washington.) 

Another observer notes that these Gulls dis- 
play considerable intelligence in their pursuit of 
herring, when the fish are traveling in schools. 
The birds approach these schools from the rear 



along in the direction the herring are swimming 
until the fish come to the surface, when the birds 
renew their diving captures. 

The systematic robbery of the Pelicans, an 
amusingly impudent performance, is also de- 
scribed by Mr. Dawson. " Often a long train 
of Pelicans is seen, as the tide is rising, slowly 
wandering around the bay,- each one attended by 
one or more of these Gulls which are usually 
some distance behind. Whenever a Pelican awk- 
wardly plunges into the water and emerges with 




f hoto by VV. L. Finley and H. T, Bohlmau 



HEERMANN'S GULLS 
They are inveterate loafers, and, while other Gulls are engaged with family cares, they stand on one side, impassive, haughty, silent 



and take the fiih near the surface bv diving for 
them. As the herring discover their jnirsuers 
they sink some distance, but the school continues 
to travel in the same direction. The Gulls seem 
to know this, for after having reached the head 
of the school, they circle to the rear, and follow 



its enormous scoop net full of fish, its parasites 
arc sure to be ready and fearlessly seize the fish 
from its very jaws, the stupid bird never resent- 
ing the insult, or appearing to take the least 
notice of the little pilferers which it could easily 
rid itself of by one blow, or even swallow alive." 



LAUGHING GULL 
Larus atricilla LiniKcits 



A. O. U. Number 58 

Other Name. — Black-headed Gull. 

General Description. — Length, 16 inches. Color, 
white with dark slate-gray mantle and almost black 
hood. 



Color. — Adults in Summer: Hood, dark slaty-black 
e-xtending further on throat than on back of head; a 
white spot above and below eye; neck all around, rump, 
tail, tips of secondaries and primaries, and entire under 




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1 491 



50 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



parts, wliite, the latter with a rosy tinge; mantle, dark 
slate-gray; outer six primaries, black; bill, deep car- 
mine; feet, black; iris and edge of eyelids, carmine. 
Adults in Winter : Under parts, without rosy tint ; 
head, white, mottled with dusky ; bill and feet, dull. 
Young : Mantle, variegated with light grayish-brown ; 
primaries, brownish-black, lighter on tips; secondaries, 
dusky on outer webs ; tail, with a broad terminal band 
of dusky with narrow white tips ; upper tail-coverts, 
white; bill and feet, brownish-black tinged with red. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : On the ground in marshes ; 
constructed of seaweed, sedges, and eelgrass, Ec.c.s : 
2 to 5, from dull grayish to dark olive, heavily marked 
with spots and splashes of brown, black, chestnut, and 
lavender. 

Distribution. — Tropical and temperate coasts of 
North .\merica ; breeds from Maine (rarely) and 
Massachusetts (abundantly but local) south on the 
Atlantic and Gulf coasts to Te.xas, the Lesser Antilles, 
and Venezuela; winters from Georgia and Gulf coast 
south to western Mexico. Chile, and Brazil ; casual in 
Colorado. Nebraska. Wisconsin, Ontario, and Iowa. 

The Laughing Gull is well named, for seem- 
ingly it laughs. No great streteh of the imagina- 
tion is required to assume that its loud cries are 
those of real mirth. It is a handsome creature 
in the breeding season, with its dark mantle, 
black head, and white breast faintly tinged with 
the color of the rose. 

It breeds normally along most of the Atlantic 
coast of the United States. Until recent years it 
has been almost extirpated by constant persecu- 
tion on the New England coast but now, under 
protection, its numbers are increasing. It nests 
on sandv islands, usually in tall thick grasses or 
shrubbery ; in the north it builds a substantial 
warm nest of grasses and weeds, but in the 
south a mere hollow in the sand often suffices. 
In pleasant warm weather the birds are seen to 
leave their nests, trusting apparently to the heat 
of the sun, but in cool or stormy weather the 
female incubates closely. The young leave the 



nest soon after they are hatched and run about 
on the sandy soil, squatting and hiding in the 
thickest cover at the first alarm. Meanwhile the 
jiarents wheel high overhead, uttering their notes 
of apprehension. These birds are very gregari- 
ous and breed, as well as feed, in flocks. 

Their food is largely composed of marine 
objects picked up on bars, beaches, flats, in the 
beds of estuaries and even at times in the salt 
marshes but ever near the sea Audubon tells 
how the Lausjhing Gull robs the Brown Pelican 




Photo by Herbert Mills Cuurtesy of Nat. Asso. Aud. Soc. 

NEST AND EGGS OF LAUGHING GULL 

Passage Key, Florida 

in Florida. Waiting until the Pelican dives and 
comes to the surface the Gull alights upon its 
head and snatches the small fish from its enor- 
mous bill. Sometimes this Gull follows schools 
of porpoises for the small fish that they drive 
to the surface. Everywhere it adds life, beauty, 
and interest to the scene. 

Edward Howe Forbush. 



FRANKLIN'S GULL 
Larus franklini Richardson 



A. O. U. Number 59 



Other Names. — Prairie Pigeon ; Franklin's Rosy 
Gull 

General Description. — Length. 14 inches. Color, 
white with dark bluish-slate mantle and dark slate hood. 

Color. — .Adults in Summer: Hood, dark slate 
extending around upper part of neck as well as on 



head; eyelids, li'liite; mantle, dark bluish-slate; outer 
primaries, with dusky bars near tip. this color gradu- 
ating from about 2 inches in width on first to a small 
bar on sixth; primaries and secondaries, white-tipped; 
tail, pale grayish-blue, the three outside pairs of feathers, 
white ; neck all around, rump, and whole under parts, 



GULLS 



;i 



white, the latter with rosy tint; bill, canninc crossed 
with black near end; legs, dusky-red. Adults in 
WiNTEk; Similar to summer plumaye. but without hood; 
a few slaty feathers around eyes and on sides of head; 
no rosy tint below ; bill and feet, dull. Young : Traces 
of hood; outer 5 or 6 primaries, wholly black; mantle, 
feray or brown, varied with bluish-gray, according to 
age; tail, ashy-white with a broad black subterminal 
bar ; under parts, white ; bill, dusky, paler at base below ; 
feet, flesh color ; iris, dark brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : On tlie ground among 



standing rushes and grass of marshes bordering lakes 
or rivers; constructed of dead rushes. Eggs; 3, vary- 
ing from dull white to olive-drab, marked with bold 
blotches and zigzag lines of umber-brown and sepia. 

Distribution. — North and South America; breeds 
from southwestern Saskatchewan and southwestern 
Keewatin to South Dakota, Iowa, and southern Minne- 
sota ; winters from the Gulf coast of Louisiana and 
Te.xas southward to Peru and Chile; very rare on the 
.•\tlantic coast; accidental in Utah, Ontario, Ohio, Vir- 
ginia, and the Lesser -Antilles. 



A typical scene of the interior prairie region, 
say in the Dakotas or Manitoba, is the farmer 
plowing up the rich black soil, on a cold windy 
day in early spring, followed almost at his lieels 
by a troup of dainty white birds which are pick- 
ing up the worms and grubs exposed to view. 



esjjecially if one be curious to know whither 
they are roaming. Obviously, however, they are 
Hying either to or from their nesting-ground. 

In their breeding habits they are about as dis- 
tinct and sjiectacuhir as any other North Ameri- 
can species. Selecting some marshy lake, where 




Phut"iir;.ph by H. K. Job 



LuurLu^y ul Uutmg Publishing Co. 



FRANKLIN'S GULLS 
On nesting ground 



He calls them " Prairie Pigeons," a pretty and 
appropriate title, though in reality they are 
Franklin's Gulls. .Sometimes they have been 
called the Rosy Gull, because when the feathers 
of the under parts are opened up there is seen 
to be a faint rosy flush, as delicate as that of the 
tea-rose. 

This Gull is as typical of the prairie as is the 
Western Meadowlark or the Prairie Horned 
Lark, though in a different way. 1 should char- 
acterize it as the " courser " of the prairies. 
Bands of them are usually seen flying steadily 
along in a line or some regular formation, utter- 
ing flute-like cries, perpetually on the move. To 
a degree they strike one as birds of mystery, 



reeds or rushes grow from water, thousands of 
them will come together and build semi-floating 
nests of dead stems, partly buoyed by the vege- 
tation and filled in from the bottom. If a per- 
son wade or {)ush a boat to the edge of the colony, 
the air is full of indignant and screruning birds, 
always graceful and beautiful, no matter how 
e.Kcited they become. The nests are only a few 
feet apart, each containing two or three typical 
gull-like eggs by tlio last week of May. If the 
intruder keeps quite slill, one or both of the 
owners may finally alight and stand on the nest, 
but neither will incubate as long as an\-one is in 
sight. The downy young swim from the nests 
soon after thcv arc hatched, and in a colonv in 



52 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 




Photo by H. K. Job Courtesy of Outtny Pub. Lo. 

FRANKLIN'S GULL 
Dropping down among the reeds to its nest 



late June and July the equatic vegetation seems 
alive with paddling puff-balls. 

In their feeding habits during the warmer 
part of the year they are largely insectivorous. 
Out in the marshy lakes they feed a great deal 
upon nymphs of the dragon-fly, and on any in- 
sects or larvffi locally available. On the plowed 
fields they find many injurious grubs and cut- 
worms. Later they are active in pursuit of 
grasshoppers. 

Their flocking is very spectacular, both when 
they are preparing to leave in the fall, and when 
they arrive in spring. In selected places, es- 
pecially near the nesting-grounds, the prairie is 
sometimes fairly white with them. 

Gulls are supposed to be chiefly maritime birds, 
but this species is a seeming exception. In fact 
the Rosy Gulls are rarely seen either on the At- 
lantic or the Pacific coast of the United States, 
though in winter some of them at least come 
out along the Gulf coast, and follow it down into 
South America. But it would seem hard to one 
who has known it in the sloughs and on the 
prairies to picture it flying over the ocean, where 
it could easily be mistaken for the Laughing 
Gull. Herbert K. Job. 



BONAPARTE'S GULL 



Larus phila 

A. O. U. Xumljcr 

Other Names. — Bonaparte's Rosy Gull ; Black- 
headed Gull : Sea Pigeon. 

General Description. — Length, 14 inches. Color, 
white with pale bluish-gray mantle and dark slate 
colored head. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Head, dark slate reach- 
ing further in front than behind ; a 'white patch above 
and another below eye: mantle, pale grayish-blue; most 
of primaries zvith black tips: neck all around, tail, 
and under parts, pure white, latter rose-tinted ; bill, 
black: gape and eyelids carmine; feet, coral-red; webs, 
vermilion. Adults in Winter: No hood: crown and 
back of head, mottled with dusky; back of neck with 
tint of color of mantle; a crescent before eye and patch 
on side of head, deep slate: bill, light-colored at base 
below; feet, flesh color. Young: No mottling on 
crown; a patch of dusky on side of head; wing-coverts 
and shoulders, dusky-brown with lighter edges ; pri- 



delphia ( Ord) 

.^ee Color Plate 6 

maries and secondaries, dusky tipped ; tail white with 
a subterminal dusky bar; bill, dull flesh color; feet, 
light flesh color; iris, brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : On the ground in marshes, 
usually on elevated hummocks ; constructed of small 
sticks and dead grasses. Eggs : 3, olive-gray with a 
wreath of dark and light brown spots around large end 
and some scattered markings of the same color over 
whole surface. 

Distribution. — North America in general ; breeds 
from northwestern Alaska and northern Mackenzie 
south to British Columbia and Keewatin ; winters from 
Maine to Florida : on the Pacific coast from southern 
FJritish Columbia to Lower California and western 
Mexico, and on the Gulf coast to Texas and Yucatan; 
in migration west to Kotzebue Sound and east to 
Ungava ; casual in the Bahamas and Bermuda ; acci- 
dental in Europe. 



Bonaparte's Gull is one of the smaller Ameri- 
can Gulls, and unlike most of that family is 
sometimes foimd in flocks which often resort to 
plowed fields and swamps where the birds feed 
on insects and earth-worms. Its favorite haunts, 
however, are coasts, rivers, and lakes, where it 
feeds much after the manner of the Herrins: Gull. 



Along the seacoast the Bonapartes are decidedly 
gregarious and often associate with Terns and 
other Gulls. Unlike their relatives, however, 
they are not given to following ferryboats and 
other craft from which offal and garbage are 
thrown overboard. In these surroundings their 
diet is chiefly marine worms and crustaceans 



r....rr...... ,,f th,. N-W y..'k Sl:Ht.. Mm 



Plate 6 




SABINE'S. GULL aoult ■^' summer 

X'lria xabi-Jii {.i. Stibiiic) 
LAUGHING GULL, adult in summer 
Lams atricilla Ijinnucus 

KITTIWAKE 

liissfx tnilart!/la (nilachjhi (Lmn 
ADULT [N SUMMER 
IMMATURE 



BONAPARTE'S GULL 

Laiu.s pfuladtljiiua {<h-d) 
ADULT IN SUMMER 
IMMATURE 
IVORY GULL 
ic\i.i,} Paijophila at''a {iiKiinn-'vus) 

IMMATURE ADULT IN SUMMER 

All !; iKit. sizf 



GULLS 



53 



wliicli they find on tide flats, in clianni-ls, and on 
kelp-beds. 

A ])ecu!iarit\- of this t>ird's lli.nht, which is 
,s,fraceftd and fairly swift, is that each ^.trokc ot 
the winijs swings the body slightly upward. Its 
maneuvers on the wing are often very skillful. 



especially a triclc it has of suddenly stopping its 
])rogress and swee])ing backw.ard and downward 
to inspect an object seen on the siu'face of the 
water. In gener.al iis llight is more like that 
of the Terns than the ( iulls. 



'(^i. 



BONAPARTE'S GULL (', nat. size) 
Although a shore bird, it is often found in plowed 

fields feeding on earthworms 
Drawing by R. I. Brasher 



/ 




.^ 



f^ ^ 



"T^l^- 



SABINE' 
Xema sabini 

.\. O. U. .Xumbcr Ci 

Other Names.— Hawk-tailed Gull ; Fork-tailed Gull. 

General Description. — Length. 14 inches. Color, 
white with bluish-gray mantle and dark slate hood. 
Tail, forked with the feathers rounded, not pointed, at 
the ends. 

Color. — Adults in Summer; Heads with hoods of 
dark slate hounded behind by a narrow border of black: 
mantle. hluish-Kray ; edge of wing, black ; five outer 
primaries and their coverts, black with small white 
tips; rest of primaries, white: outer secondaries, white: 
the gray of mantle extending diagonally across to end 
of inner secondaries; neck, tail, and entire under parts, 
white, the last with rosy hue ; bill, black to angle, yellow, 
chrome, or orange from angle to tip ; gape, vermilion ; 
feet, black; iris, reddish; edges of eyelids, orange. 
Adults im Winter: Entire head, white with some dark 
feathers on crown and sides; bill, duller: no rosy hue; 



S GULL 

(./. Sabine) 

See Color I 'late 

otherwise as in summer plumage. YouNc;: Head, back 
iif neck, and upper parts in general, transversely barred 
with slate-gray and dull whitish; under parts, white: 
tail, white with a bar of black one inch wide on middle 
feathers, this color narrowing outward : bill, dusky 
flesh color ; legs, flesh color. 

Nest and Eggs. — Ne.st: A depression in moss or 
>and, lined with fine dry grass. Eccs : 2 or 3, deep 
olive-brown obscurely spotted and blotched with darker 
shades of the same. 

Distribution. — Arctic regions to .South America: 
breeds on the coast of Alaska from Kuskokwim River 
lo Norton Sound, and in northern Mackenzie, northern 
Keewatin, and northern Greenland, and on Taimyr 
Peninsula in northwestern Siberia ; in migration on 
both coasts of United States and casual in interior; 
winters along the coast of Peru. 



54 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



Sabine's Gull is essentially an Arctic species, 
though it occasionally wanders as far south as 
the North Atlantic States and has been taken as 
a straggler on Long Island, on the Great Lakes, 
and on Great Salt Lake, Utah. In any of its 
plumages it may readily be recognized by its 
forked tail — whence one of its names. The 
normal diet of this Gull appears to be composed 



partly of marine insects, most of which probably 
are obtained on beaches where they are left by 
receding waves. The species seems first to have 
been described by Sabine, from specimens taken 
by his brother, a member of the Northwest Ex- 
pedition of 1818, on one of a group of rocky 
islands ofif the coast of Greenland. 

George Gladden. 



TERNS 

Order Longipcnucs; family Laiidcr; subfamily Stcrnincc 

TSTRIBUTED throughout the world are over fifty species of Terns, ten occurring 
regularly in North America. These birds belong to the family Laridcc which 
includes the Gulls, and is part of the order of Long-winged Swimmers. All of 
the species are exceedingly graceful and expert on the wing, and some show 
extraordinary endurance in flight. This is true especially of the Arctic Tern, 
whose journey from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back each year, is one 
of the most astonishing known feats in the bird world. 

The Terns are often called "Sea Swallows," and for obvious reasons, as 
several of the species are not unlike large Swallows both in appearance and 
in flight. They are generally smaller than the Gulls, and their bodies are 
more elongated, but in coloration they more or less resemble their larger relatives, 
whom they also resemble in their food and feeding habits, with the exception of their diving 
practices. The Terns hover and plunge for their food, while the Gulls alight on the water 
to feed. Because of this characteristic, Terns have often been called "Strikers." 

Again like the Gulls, the Terns are decidedly gregarious and often breed in colonies 
of thousands on ledges; some of the species occasionally place their nests on the limbs of 
large forest trees. Generally the nests on the grounds are little more than mere depressions, 
and often they are placed so close together that in walking through a nesting place, it is 
difficult to avoid treading upon either the eggs or the young. When hatched, the young 
are covered with down of a mottled pattern, and, although sometimes they will enter the 
water of their own accord and swim about, they are dependent upon their parents until 
they acquire the power of flight. 




GULL-BILLED TERN 

Gelochelidon nilotica (Linncrus) 

.\. O. V. Number 63 See Color Plate 7 



Other Names. — Marsh Tern ; Egyptian Tern ; Nutt- 
all's Tern: Anglican Tern; Nile Tern. 

General Description. — Length. 13 to 15 inches. 
Color, white with light bluish-gray mantle. Bill, stout 
and short, and curved over at tip. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Croivn and crest, glassy 
grcenisli-black, extending to level of eyes, leaving only 
a narrow white line on upper side of bill; mantle, light 
grayish-blue ; primaries, grayish-black but heavily sil- 
vered, appearing much lighter ; tail, color of mantle 
fading to pure white at base; chin, throat, neck all 
around, and under parts, pure white; hill, black, usually 
with narrow yellow tip ; legs, greenish-black ; iris, 
brown. Adults in Winter: The forehead and fore- 



part of crown, white; black restricted to hind head and 
nape; side of head and a spot in front of eye. gray; 
otherwise similar to summer plumage. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: A mere depression among 
the reeds of marshes; sometimes on sandy shores. 
Eggs : 3. olive-bufif irregularly marked with umber- 
brown, blackish, and lavender. 

Distribution. — Nearly cosmopolitan ; breeds in North 
America, on coasts of Texas. Louisiana. North Caro- 
lina, Virginia (formerly to New Jersey), and in the 
Bahamas; wanders casually to Maine and Ohio; winters 
in southern Mexico. Central America, and all of South 
America ; breeds also in Europe. Asia, and Australia, 
wintering to northern Africa. 



TERNS 



55 



It seems clear that the (luU-billcd Tern is de- 
creasing rapidly in numbers. Once common — 
or at least not actually rare — along the Atlantic 
coast, it now, according to Dr. Chajmian, seldom, 
if ever, breeds north of Cobb's Island, Ya.., where 
it was found nesting in great number - by Dr. 
Ridgwav and Dr. Henshaw in 1871). Here Dr. 
Ridgway noted especially its cry, which he de- 
scribed as a chattering laugh, wherefore he 
thought it might well be named the Laughing 
Tern — its scientific name literally means 
" laughing swallow of the Nile." The same 



observer noted that the bird showed much more 
courage in defending its ne.^t than do other 
Terns ; it swooped downward and straight at the 
intruder, often nearly striking him with its bill, 
and in its attempt to change its course the rush 
iif the air through its wings made a booming 
round not unlike that produced by the Night- 
hawk when it checks its downward ])lunge. 

This bird differs superficially from its kind in 
having a shorter and comparatively heavy bill, 
and a shorter and less distinctly forked tail. It 
is also less excitable than the Common Tern. 



CASPIAN TERN 
Sterna caspia Pallas 



A. O. U. Xunil.cr 1.4 

Other Names. — Imperial Tern ; Caspian Sea Tern. 

General Description. — Length, 20 to J.^ inches. 
Color, white with grayish-blue mantle. Tail, sliiihtly 
forked with outer feathers pointed : wings, long and 
slender. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Crown, glossy green- 
ish-black ; a wdiite spot on lower eyelid : mantle, grayish- 
bhie, but so heavily silvered when new as to appear 
light gray; rest of plumage, pure white; bill, hritiht ver- 
milion: feet, black; iris, brown. Adults in Winter; 
The crown is broken by white and some dusky feathers 
show on wiu'T-coverts. 



See Ci.l..r TLite 8 

Nest and Eggs. — N'est: A mere liollow scooped in 
dry sand. Egcs : 2 or 3, pale olive-buff, rather evenly 
marked with spots of dark brown and lavender. 

Distribution. — Nearly cosmopolitan ; breeds in \orth 
-\merica at Great Slave Lake, Klamath Lake, Oregon, 
on islands of northern Lake Michigan, on coast of 
soutliern Labrador, and on coasts of Texas, Louisiana. 
Mississippi, South Carolina and (formerly) Virginia; 
winters from coast of central California to Lower Cali- 
fornia and western Mexico, and on the South Atlantic 
and Gulf coasts; casual in migration north to Alaska, 
Tames Bav, and Newfoundland. 




Photo by \V. L. Fmlty and li. T. Uolilman 



COLONY OF CASPIAN TERNS 



56 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



FORSTER'S TERN 
Sterna forsteri Niittall 

A. O. U. Number 69 See Color Plate 7 



Other Names. — Havell's Tern (immature); Sea 
Swallow. 

General Description. — Length, 15 inches. Color, 
white with pale grayish-blue mantle. Tail, forked for 
half its length. Not distinguishable from either the 
Common Tern or the ."Xrctic Tern e.xcept with speci- 
inens in hand. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Crown, glossy black 
not extending below eye ; mantle, pale grayish-blue ; 
primaries strongly silvered; entire under parts and 
rump, white ; the tzvo long outside tail-feathers, ichite 
on outer iveb, dusky gray on inner; bill, orange-yellozv, 
terminal half, black with the e.xtreme tip yellow; feet, 
bright orange; iris, brown. AnuLxs in Winter: Crown 
variegated with white; nape, dusky; a distinct black bar 
on sides of head embracing eyes; outside tail-feathers. 



Tlie Caspian Terns nest in colonies through 
the lake region of southern Oregon. They gather 
on one of the tule islands. We found two of the 
largest colonies on Lower Klamath and IMalheur 
lakes, where these birds were living near a colony 
of California and Ring-billed Gulls. \Mien we 
first visited Lower Klamath Lake, in 1905, we 
found these Gulls and Terns together with White 
Pelicans, Farallon Cormorants, Western Grebes, 
and Great Blue Herons, gathered in what might 
have been called one immense colony in the titles 



shorter than in summer ; bill, dusky except at base 
below ; feet, dusky yellowish. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: In marshes; constructed of 
dead reeds and stems of water plants and lined with 
finer reeds. Eggs : 2 or 3, varying from pure white or 
pale green to warm brownish-drab irregularly spotted 
with brown, umber, and lilac. 

Distribution. — North America at large ; breeds in 
California, Oregon, Nevada, southwestern Saskatche- 
wan, and Manitoba south to northern Colorado, north- 
ern Nebraska, northeastern Illinois and southern 
Ontario, and on the coasts of Texas. Louisiana, and 
Virginia; winters from southern California, Gulf of 
Mexico, and South Carolina southward to Guate- 
mala; rare as far north as Massachusetts; casual in 
Brazil. 



on the northwest side of the lake. -Since that 
time, however, owing to disturbance, the birds 
have scattered : the Gulls. Terns, and Grebes have 
moved their colonies to other parts of the lake. 
As one cruises about these lakes, he sees the 
graceful little Black and Forster's Terns flitting 
along over the surface, dropping here and there 
to pick up a bit to eat. The Caspian Tern is 
much larger than these two and is sometimes 
mistaken for a Gull. However, the exceedingly 
long wings, jet-black cap, and deep-red beak are 





'*<" I ^ 










Photo by W. L. Finley and H. T. Bohlman 



FORSTER'S TERN 
On nest built on a muskrat house 



TERNS 



.■>/ 



the distinguishing features of this hird. \\ i' 
soon learned to recognize their harsh call note, 
for each morning they came flying over the camp, 
crying Crack-a-da\-o .' Crack-a-ilay-o ! 

Forster's Tern is readilv recognized hv its 
deeply forked tail; the outer feathers are very 
long and narrow. As it flits along over the water, 
its sharp bill is ever pointing downward and its 
eyes are watching the svn'face of tlie water. I'.e- 
cause of its beautiful velvety plumage, the lung 
pointed tail- and wing-feathers of this bird were 
formerly a much-sought adornment for women's 
hats. 

While the Black Tern resembles Forster's 
Tern somewhat in size, yet Nature has made a 
striking ditTerence in its dress. It can never be 
mistaken when once seen, for its fure parts are 
pure black and the wings and tail slaty-gray. 
This bird and the Forster Tern differ in their 
nesting habits from the Caspian, because thev do 
not crowd together in a colony. They are 
sociable, however, and like companv. The nests 
of both these birds are often a little floating mass 
of vegetation on the surface of the water, or 
oftentimes the nest is placed on a muskrat 
house. Where one nest is found, a few others 
are likely to be somewhere around in the same 
locality. I have at times found nests that con- 
tained eggs of both Forster's and Caspian Terns. 



.V peculiar habit of these swallow-like birds 
tended greatly toward their destruction at the 
hands of plume hunters. When a hunter shot 
one of them and it ivV. w<.)un(led to the surface, 
all the other Terns nearby would be attracted 
to the bird on the water and they hovered about 
and served as easy marks for the jilumer. 

By building a blind in which to hide nearby a 
colony of Caspian Terns on Malheur Lake, we 
had a splendid chance to study the home life of 
these birds. There were several hundred nest- 
ing close together, yet housekeeping was in no 
sense a communal matter. Fach bird had its 
own particular nest spot and the invasion of 
that place by any other Terns meant a challenge 
for tight. When the Terns had voung, their 
greatest anxiety seemed to be to keep them 
crouching low in the nest, so that they would not 
run away and get lost in the crowd. If a young 
bird did start to run out of the nest, he was 
immediately pounced u])on by his own parents 
and pecked and beaten until he dropped flat to 
the ground or hid in the leaves. If a young bird 
ran to a neighboring nest or old bird for pro- 
tection, he received a fusillade of blows that 
knocked him over. A young bird, therefore, 
that wandered from his own nest spot was likely 
to be pecked and beaten to death. 

William L. Finley. 



ROYAL TERN 

Sterna maxima Boddacrt 

.\. O r. Xuniber 65 See Color Plate 1 



Other Name. — Cayenne Tern. 

General Description. — Length, 20 inches. Color, 
wliite with very pale bluish-gray mantle. \ prominent 
glossy greenish-black crest on back of head. 

Description. — Adults in Summer: Crown, glossy 
greenish-hlack not extending below eyes: mantle, very 
pale bluish-.srray, shading to white on rump and ends of 
inner secondaries ; first five primaries with grayish- 
black spaces toward tips ; rest of primaries and most 
of secondaries, pale pearl-blue; sides of head, chin, 
throat, rump, tail, and under parts, white; tail, forked 
for half its length; bill, ofange-rcd : feet, blackish; iris, 
brown. .Anui.TS in Winter: Forehead, white; most of 
crown, variegated with black and white, the black ex- 



tending forward on side of head as far as eye; tail, 
tinged with color of mantle and darkening toward tip 
into a deeper gray ; less forked than in summer. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: .\ hollow in the sand. 
Egcs : 2 or 3, whitish to yellowish-drab, blotched with 
dark umber, sepia, and lavender. 

Distribution. — Tropical coasts north to United 
States ; breeds in West Indies and on south Atlantic 
and Gulf coasts from Virginia to Texas; wanders casu- 
ally to Massachusetts ; not rare in summer from San 
Francisco Bay southward to western Me.xico ; winters 
from southern California and Gulf of Me.xico south to 
Peru and Brazil, and on west coast of Africa from 
Gibraltar to .Angola. 



Because of its large size and conspicuous the smaller Gulls by the manner in which they 

reddish bill the Royal Tern is one of the most hold their heads while in flight. ,\ CniU's bill 

striking birds to be seen along our southern points forward on a plane with its body, while 

coast. They may easily be distinguished from a Tern carries its bill pointed directly downward 



TERNS 



59 



like a mosquito. Their food consists chiefly of 
small fish which they gather by plunging directly 
into the water, usually from a height of several 
yards. So much force is put into the blow that 
the bird often disappears beneath the surface. In 
Florida these Terns often rob the slow-moving 
Brown Pelican of his hard-earned jirey. They 
are distinctively birds of the salt water and rarely 
come inland. They seldom appear in small har- 
bors, and we never find them flying about wharves 
and fish factories as we do the Gulls. 

Like most sea-birds the Royal Terns assemble 
in colonies to rear their young. Their eggs are 
laid on the bare sandy islands with no attempt at 
concealment. No other birds in North America 
make their nests so near together ; in fact, when 
they are incubating it is often difficult, at a little 
distance, to see the ground between them, so 
closely do they sit. 

A few years ago I visited a colony nesting on 
Royal Shoal Island in Pamlico Sound, North 
Carolina, where probably there were some four 
thousand eggs scattered about on the sand among 
the shells. A high tide sometime before liad 
washed at least a thousand of these from their 
resting places and left them in a great windrow 
along the beach. The bereaved birds had then 



moved over to higher ground on the other 
side of the egg area and scratched out new 
nesting places. In doing this they took posses- 
sion of a plot of ground already occupied 
by a colony of Black Skimmers. Thev simplv 
kicked the Skimmer's eggs away or covered them 
with sand and at once took up the duties of incu- 
bation serenely indiiiferent to the mild protesta- 
tions of the discomfited Skimmers. Usually 
other species of Terns, and frequentlv Skimmers 
and Oyster-catchers, breed on the islands occu- 
pied by the Royal Terns but never, so far as 1 
have observed, within the actual boundaries of 
their colony. The one exception to this is the 
rare Cabot's Tern which their big neighbors seem 
to have taken under their special protection. The 
two species fly together, feed together, nest 
togetlier, and — perhaps — die together. 

The Royal Terns were largely exterminated in 
many sections of their range by the gunners of 
the millinery trade some years ago, but under 
the protection of the wardens of the Audubon 
Society they are again increasing in numbers. 
Their chief breeding places today are on the 
islands off the coast of Virginia, North Carolina, 
South Carolina, and Louisiana. 

T. Gilbert Pe.\rson. 



CABOT'S TERN 
Sterna sandvicensis acuflavida Cabot 



A. O. V. .\uniber 67 



Other Names. — Sandwich Tern; Kentish Tern; 
Boys' Tern ; Ducal Tern. 

General Description. — Length, i6 inches. Color, 
white with light bhiish-gray mantle and tail. 

Color. — Adults in Summer; Crown and crest, 
glossy greenish-black ex-tending below eyes but leaving 
a space alongside of bill white to the end of the 
feathers ; mantle, light bluish-gray shading on rump 
and upper tail-coverts into pure white ; first four outer 
primaries with black space near ends ; tail, color of 
mantle; bill, black, the tip for about one-half inch 
byif/ltt yeUozi'; feet, blackish ; iris, brown. Adults in 
Winter: Crown, white varied with black shaft lines; 
crest, brownish-black; outside tail-feathers, shorter than 
in summer; yellow tip of bill less in extent and duller; 
otherwise as in summer. Young : Forehead, crown, 



and nape, brownish-black variegated with white, upper 
parts, marked everywhere with irregular spots and 
transverse bars of dusky; primaries, as in adult; tail- 
feathers, tipped with dusky ; bill, smaller and weaker, 
brownish-black, the extreme point only, and sometimes 
not that much, yellow. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest ; On sandy shores, in 
colonies. Eggs: 2 or 3, creamy or buffy, irregularly 
spotted and scrawled with dark brown, chestnut, black, 
and lavender. 

Distribution. — North and South .'\merica ; breeds 
from North Carolina to Florida and Texas ; winters 
from the Bahamas. Florida, and Louisiana south to 
Central America. Greater Antilles, Colombia, and 
Brazil ; accidental in Ontario, Massachusetts, New 
Jersey and Lesser Antilles. 



The Cabot's Tern in flight at a distance re- form a crest, which the bird can make quite con- 

sembles its more famous relative the Arctic ; spicuous when it is angry or excited. In diving 

however, it is a more stoutly built bird; also its for its prey it often disappears entirely beneath 

tail is relatively shorter, while its head-feathers the surface, and apparently descends to a much 



6o 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



1,'reater depth than do other Terns. When breed- 
ing in colonies, the Cabot's Terns often place 
their nests so close together that it is difficult 
to avoid stepping on them while one is exploring 
the premises. 

Some ornithologists attribute the remarkable 
variation in the coloration of this Tern's eggs to 
the fact that they are incubated alternately by 
the male and the female, one bird being ready to 
cover the eggs the instant the other leaves them. 
Under these conditions the law of natural selec- 



tion cannot operate in such a way as to eliminate 
an egg of conspicuous coloration, which is true 
of many Terns' eggs. 

There is apparently reliable evidence that these 
Terns mate for life, and return year after year to 
the same nesting region, thou.gh not necessarily 
always to the same spot. English observers have 
noted that the birds change their actual breeding 
ground from time to time, though apparently the 
same general colony is likely to return to the 
same island. 










/^<4^ 



m^'i:^:^^^ 



Photu liy H. K. Jub 



CABOT'S TERNS AND EGGS 
Breton Island Reservation 



COMMON TERN 
Sterna hirundo Liniucus 



\. O, V. Xuiiilier 71 

Other Names. — Sea .Swallow ; Wilson's Tern ; 
Summer Gull : Mackerel Gull ; Lake Erie Gull ; Bass- 
gull ; Red-shank. 

General Description. — Leuirtli. 15 inches. Color, 
white with mantle of pale pearl-blue. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Crown, lustrous green- 
ish-black e.xtending to lower level of eyes; mantle, pale 



St-e Color Plate 7 

pearl-blue deepenin.^ on back, endin,g abruptly on rump 
wliich. together with upper tail-coverts, is pure white; 
throat, chin, and sides of head, pure white shading 
insensibly to a much paler tone of color of mantle on 
entire under parts ; outer primaries, grayish-black 
strongly silvered ; secondaries, pure white shadin.g to 
grayish-blue on end ; outer pair of tail-feathers, grayish- 



TERNS 



6i 



blur (tit iiiiicr WL-bs. grayish-lyUiL-b on outer: rest of 
tail-feathers with inner webs, pure white, outer webs, 
pearl-gray; bill, vcniiilion on basal half: rest, black zeith 
yclluzi-i on extreme tip: ieet. coral-red; iris, deep brown. 
ADtJLTS IN Winter: Forehead and most of crown, 
white ; under parts, nearly pure white ; bill and feet. 



Imm.ature: Similar 
or waslied with Ii.i^ht 



duller; otherwise as in summer, 
to winter adults, but back mottle 
brownish and bill brownish. 

Nest and Eggs. — Xes ' : .Sometimes none, but gen- 
erally a hollow in the sand lined with grass and dry 



seaweed. I'.ci-.s: _^, preenish-whitc to deep I)r(iwn, 
spotted and blotched with brown, black, and iavenfler. 
Distribution. — Northern hemisphere, northern South 
.Xmerica, and Africa; breeds from Great Slave Lake, 
central Keewatin, and soutliern Ungava south to south- 
western Saskatchewan, northern North Dakota, south- 
ern Wisconsin, northern Ohio and North Carolina ; 
winters from Florida southward to Brazil ; casual in 
migration on Pacihc coast from British Columbia to 
Lower California. In eastern hemisphere, breeds in 
Furope and Asia and winters in India and Africa. 



The level rays uf tlie rising sun, coming up 
from the other side of the world, stream over the 
heaving sea, lighting tip an islet where the surf 
beats unceasingly u]iiin shifting sands. This 
islet of recent origin has risen from the sea, 
thrown up by the surging tempestuous waters of 
the Atlantic and is destitute "f all vegetable life. 
As our boat lands through the ]ilunging surf a 
cloud of white birds rises and storms about us 
with harsh resounding cries. Tcc'-arr, tcc'-arr 
they call with many variant sounds until all blend 
in one great monotone of angry entreaty. As we 
leave the beach a troop of downy young rises 
and moves toward the farther shore, augmented 
as it goes bv others Iving hidden behind evcrv 



--tone or shell or luineh nf sea-drift until it seems 
like a feathered army marching in one continuous 
front across the isle. .As they reach the farther 
shore they do nut hesitate, hut throw themselves 
into the surf, only to he tossed back again 
drenched and soggy upon the streaming sands. 
•Stand back now, lie quietly down, and watch 
them swimming, tumbling in the surf, returning 
to the island, solicitously guarded bv their watch- 
ful [larents. \\'e have found a colony of Com- 
mon Terns ! Xow we see that there are manv 
eggs laid on the bare sand or in slight hollows 
where a few stones or bits of seaweed liave been 
collected by the ])arent birds. 

\Miere nesting material is plentiful this Tern 






Drawing by R. I. Brasher 



COMMON TERN i\ nat. size) 
It is useful to the fisherman, guiding hira to schools of edible fish 



62 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



sometimes builds a substantial nest of sticks, 
seaweed, and grasses, placing it just above higb- 
water mark along the beach. At times it nests 
in thick grass on high islands, and on the Magda- 
len Islands Maynard found it breeding on the 
tops of grass-topped rocks 200 feet above the 
sea. The eggs are commonly laid in May or 
June but many are deposited as late as July. 
In New England, however, most of the young 
are able to fly early in August ; and then the 
families join in flocks, leave their breeding 
places and forage over the country. At this sea- 
son and in September some of them frequently 
go up the rivers and sometimes to inland ponds, 
where they probably find small fry in the warm 
waters. 

In fishing they usually fly with the bill pointing 
downward, and, when they observe their i)rey, 
dive like a flash to the surface, often immersing 
the head but seldom going entirely under water. 
Several naturalists have followed the lead of 
Giraud in asserting that this liird. though web- 
footed, never dives and rarely swims, appearing 
to avoid the water, except as it is obliged to 
descend to the surface to procure food. It is 
true that it does not, like Gulls, rest often on the 
surface but in hot weather near its breeding 
grounds small parties may be seen floating on 
the waves bathing and throwing the spray about 
with the abandon and enjoyment of the true 
waterfowl — and they swim exceedingly well. 

These birds are useful to the fishermen as they 



serve to mark the presence of schools of edible 
fish. These fish drive the small fry to the sur- 
face, the telescopic eyes of the Terns mark the 
disturbance from afar and when the fishermen 
see the gathering, plunging flocks they put of? 



i^'0Z^^^^<^^^?^; 







1 



C> 












riiMin i.N (I. ]■;. it.oii,,ra c-u.ir .,y ,,i N,,i A ,. ., .\i,a, s. i. 

EGGS OF COMMON TERN 

A hollow in the sand, a few bits of grass and dry seaweed, and 
the nest is ready for the three eggs 

in their buiits, well knowing that their work lies 
there. 

This Tern feeds largely on small fry, shrimps 
and other small Crustacea but also at times on 
grasshoppers and many flying insects. 

Edward Howe Forbusii. 



ARCTIC TERN 
Sterna paradisaea Rri'tnnich 

A. O. U. Xuniber 71 See Color Plate 7 



Other Names. — ComiTion Tern ; Sea Swallow ; Para- 
dise Tern : Crimson-billed Tern ; Long-tailed Tern ; 
Short-footed Tern ; Portland Tern ; Pike's Tern. 

General Description. — Length, 14 to 17 inches. 
Color, pale bluish-gray, lighter below. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Crown, lustrous green- 
ish-black encroaching on lores so as to leave only a 
slender white line of feathers on upper side of bill ; 
mantle, pale bluish-gray : under parts, a little lighter 
shade of color of back, fading into white on chin, 
throat, and edges of black cap, endiny ahruf'lly at under 
tail-covcrls which arc pure ivhitc; outer primaries, 
silvery-gray; inner webs, mostly white; inner primaries, 
color of back, broadly tipped with white: tail, very long, 
pure white, with outer web of outside feather grayish- 



black ; bill, carmine : feet, coral-red ; iris, brown. Adults 
IN Winter: Forehead, white; crown, white with nar- 
row black shaft lines, widening behind and merging 
into solid black on nape ; a dark stripe on side of head ; 
under parts, nearly white ; otherwise as in summer. 
Immature: Like winter adult, but tip of bill black. 

Nest and Eggs. — Not distinguishable from those of 
the Common Tern. 

Distribution. — Nearly cosinopolitan ; breeds from 
Massachusetts north to northern Greenland, across 
.Arctic regions to northern Alaska, and in entire Arctic 
regions of Europe and Asia; winters in Antarctic 
Ocean, south to latitude 74° ; in migration, Pacific 
coast south to southern California, and Atlantic coast 
south to Long Island; accidental in Colorado. 



f 






V \1 



> 



l\ 






V 



f 



> 







\oi.. 1—6 



I 631 



64 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



The world's migration champion is the Arctic 
Tern. It deserves its title of "Arctic," for it 
nests as far north as land has been discovered ; 
that is, as far north as the bird can find anything 
stable on which to construct its nest. Indeed, so 
arctic are the conditions under which it breeds 
that the first nest found by man in this region, 
only 7/<2° from the pole, contained a downy chick 
surrounded by a wall of newly fallen snow that 
had to be scooped out of the nest by the parent. 
When the young are full-grown the entire family 
leaves the Arctic and several months later they 
are found skirting the edge of the Antarctic con- 
tinent. 

What their track is over that 11,000 miles of 
intervening space no one knows. A few scattered 
individuals have been noted along the United 
States coast south to Long Island, but the great 
flocks of thousands and thousands of these Terns 
which range from pole to pole have never been 
noted bv an ornithologist competent to indicate 
their preferred route and their time schedule. 
The Arctic Terns arrive in the Far North about 
Jimc 15. an<l leave about August 25, thus stay- 



ing f(jurteen weeks at the nesting site. They 
jirobably spend a few weeks longer in the 
winter than in the summer home, and this would 
leave them scarcely twenty weeks for the round 
trip of 22,000 miles. Not less than 150 miles 
in a straight line must be their daily task, and 
this is undoubtedly multiplied several times by 
their zigzag twistings and turnings in pursuit 
of food. 

The Arctic Tern has more hours of daylight 
and sunshine than any other animal on the globe. 
At the most northern nesting site the midnight 
sun has already appeared before the birds' 
arrival, and it never sets during their entire stay 
at the breeding grounds. During two months of 
their sojourn in the Antarctic the birds do not see 
a sunset, and for the rest of the time the sun 
dips only a little way below the horizon and 
broad daylight is continuous. The birds there- 
fore have twenty-four hours of daylight for at 
least eight months in the year, and during the 
nther four months have considerably more day- 
light than darkness. 

Wells A\'. Cooke, in Bird Migration. 



ROSEATE TERN 
Sterna dougalli Montagu 

i\. O. U. Xumber 72 See Color IMate 7 



Other Names. — Graceful Tern; McDougall's Tern. 

General Descriprion. — Length, 15 inches. Color 
above, pearly-gray ; below, delicate rose-pink. 

Color — Adults in Summer: Crown, glossy black 
reaching to lower border of eyes ; mantle, delicate pale 
pearly-gray; neck all around and entire under parts, a 
delicate rose pink; primaries, grayish-black strongly 
silvered ; long tail-feathers, white on both ivchs; bill, 
black, extreme tip, yellow, reddish at base; feet, ver- 
milion; iris, brown. Adults in Winter: Forehead 
and cheeks, white; crown, hind head, nape, and sides of 
head, dusky mottled with white above ; below, pure 
white without rosy tinge ; lesser wing-coverts, brown- 



ish ; tail, less forked, pearly-gray like back ; bill, dull 
black with yellow tip and brown base. Imm.-\ture: 
.Similar to winter adult. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nesting similar and eggs indis- 
tinguishable from those of the Common Tern except by 
comparison. 

Distribution. — Temperate and tropical regions ; 
breeds locally from Sable Island to Long Island, N. Y., 
and from the Bahamas to the Lesser Antilles and 
Venezuela ; formerly from Maine to Florida ; rare 
migrant in Central America; winters from the Bahamas 
to Brazil; accidental in Ohio; occurs on the coasts of a 
large part of the eastern hemisphere. 



The Roseate Tern is the embodiment of sym- 
metry and grace — its flight the poetry of motion. 
Its elegant form tapers and swells in lines of 
beauty. Its lustrous plumage reflects the yellow 
rays of the sun and the pale refracted light of 
sea and sands in evanescent pink and rosy tints. 
These are seen in perfection only in the living 
bird and fade when the light of life fades from 
its eyes. The stufted and distorted specimen on 



the museum shelf has lost the grace, beauty, and 
color of the living thing and remains but a sorry 
travesty of the life that is gone. It seems a bird 
of ethereal origin, fitted only for the balmy airs 
of tropic isles but it follows north the coast of 
both hemispheres and is found in Maine on one 
side of the Atlantic and in Scotland on the other. 
Years ago, when fashion called for its plumage 
and there was none to save, this bird was almost 



TERNS 



exterminated on the Atlantic coast. 'l"he adults 
were shot on their breeding grounds and the 
young left to starve in the nests, but now, under 
protection, they are beginning to increase and 
may be found breeding with the Common Terns 
on isolated islands off the New England coasts. 
This Tern keeps mostly to the sea and its bays, 
sounds, and estuaries. Its nest is built ofteri 
among low vegetation and the young can hardly 
be distinguished from the downy chicks of the 
Common Tern. The adult birds, however, are 
quite different from that species, a little slower 



and iiKjre graceful in thght. They ma\- be 
readily identified l)y the black bill, the long grace- 
ful white tail, the rosy ajijiearance of the breasi 
and other under parts, and their incisive notes. 
W hen excited, they call hoxit, liayit, ending with 
a prolonged cry, but the alarm note conimonlv 
heard is cac, cac. In the latitude of New Eng- 
land, about the first of August, the young are 
well able to fly, and they join the wandering 
flocks which visit the shores, far and near, be- 
fore the southern migration begins. 

Iunv.\Kii Howe Forbush. 



LEAST TERN 
Sterna antillarum (Lesson) 

.\. O. I', .\umljtr 74 .-^ee Colur I'latc 7 



Other Names. — Silver Ternlet : Sea Swallow; Little 
Striker ; Little Tern ; ilinute Tern. 

General Description. — Length. 9 inches. Color 
above, pale grayish-blue ; below, satiny-white. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Crown, glossy greenish- 
black with a tiarrozo zi'hitc crescent until horns reaching 
above eyes and cxtenditui to bill, but separated from 
white of cheeks by a dusky line through eye to bill; 
entire upper parts, including tail, pale grayish-blue 
rcachinij to the black cap and fading on sides of head 
and neck into satiny-white of all under parts; two 
outer primaries, black with white space on inner webs ; 
rest of primaries, a darker shade of color of back; bill, 
yellow tipped with black: feet, orange yellozc; iris, 
brown. Adults in Winter: Forehead, lores, and 
crown, white, the latter with black shaft lines; back of 
head and nape, dusky, connecting with a narrow streak 
through eye ; hindneck. white ; mantle, darker than in 



summer ; edge of wing and a band along forearm, gray- 
ish-black ; most of primaries, plain dusky. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: In pebbly depression or on 
the dry sand of beaches. Eggs: i to 4, from pale 
greenish to dull drab, spotted over entire surface with 
splashes and dots of different shades of clear brown 
and some lavender. 

Distribution. — Tropical and temperate America ; 
breeds on coast of southern California and on Gulf 
coast from Te.xas eastward ; also northward to Mis- 
souri (formerly Iowa) and northwestern Nebraska; 
has occurred in Wisconsin and South Dakota ; breeds 
also from the coasts of Massachusetts, Virginia, North 
Carolina, and Florida south to the Bahamas, \\"est 
Indies. British Honduras, and Venezuela; now rare 
everywhere; in migration occurs on the coasts of Lower 
California and western Mexico; winters from Gulf 
coast to X'enezuela and Peru. 



Uncjuestionably the most dainty of all the 
American sea-birds is the Least Tern. This 
petite little creature is adorned with a pair of 
silvery-gray wings that carry it on long voyages 
up and down the coast. From its winter home in 
the tropics it comes north in spring to California 
and Massachusetts anrl in both States it finds a 
summer home. A few pass tip the Mississippi 
valley and it has been recorded as far north as 
South Dakota. Thirty years ago they swarmed 
literally by thousands in our Atlantic waters near 
the shore-line but the feather-hunters made sad 
work of them. There is a record of ten thou- 
sand having been shot for their feathers on Cobb 
Island, Virginia, in a single season. This was 
of course done in the summer and the orphaned 
young were left to perish on the beache:;. 



At one time large colonies existed in the S(junds 
of North Carolina : but their numbers became so 
reduced that when the Audubon Society wardens 
were first established in that territory, in the 
spring of 1003, only sixteen eggs were laid in the 
bird colonies that year. They have responded 
splendidly to protection and although many years 
must elapse before we can hope to have them as 
abundant as formerly they are nevertheless in- 
creasing in a most encouraging way. 

Like the other members of this family they 
prev mainlv upon small fish which they capture 
by a swift ])lunge from the air. 'I'hey do not con- 
fine themselves entirely to this diet, however, and 
often catch such insects as are found flying over 
the marshes. 

Least Terns are usually seen in small scattered 



66 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



flocks. They are very sympathetic and soHcitous 
about the welfare of their fellows that chance 
to get into trouble. Any old Tern hunter will 
tell you that, if one be shot down, its friends will 
at once come and fly anxiously about emitting 
their little squeaky cries of anxiety. It was thus 
often possible to bag almost the entire company. 
When a flock was seen and the gunners found 
difficulty in obtaining the first bird to serve as a 
decoy, they were induced often to approach the 
boat by the simple expedient of tying a hand- 
kerchief to a stick and throwing it into the air. 
The sight of this object, which at a distance 




somewhat resembles a falling Tern, usually 
brought the birds on the run. 

Like many other Terns the nest of this species 
is merely a slight depression hollowed out in the 
sand. The eggs are usually two in number, al- 
though as many as four are found at times. 
I f not disturbed these Terns sometimes become 
quite tame and on more than one occasion I have 
been privileged to walk within fifteen feet of a 
resting bird before it took flight. Mated birds 
are very attentive to each other, and one of the 
most charming sights of a visit to a Least Tern 
colony is to see one of these little, gentle crea- 
tures feed his mate as she sits brooding her eggs 
on the shimmering sandy shore. 

T. Gilbert Pe.\rson. 




Drawing by R. I. Brasher 



LEAST TERN (; nat. size) 
The most dainty of all the American sea-birds 



BLACK TERN 

Hydrochelidon nigra surinamensis (Gmelin) 

A. O. U. .N'umber 77 See Color Plate 8 



Other Names. — American Black Tern ; Short-tailed 
Tern ; Semipalmated Tern ; Surinam Tern. 

General Description. — Length, 9 inches. Upper 
parts. leaden-gray ; head and under parts, black. Bill, 
very sharp and slender, shorter than head ; wings, long 
and pointed with no distinct markings ; tail, short and 
but slightly forked: feet, webbed only to middle of toes. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Head and neck and 
entire under parts as far as the tail-coverts, jet black; 
under tail-coverts, pure white; on back of neck and 
between shoulders the black shades into leaden-gray, 
which color extends over entire upper parts to the ends 
of tail-feathers: primaries, grayish-black: outer second- 
aries similar, inner secondaries like back: shoulder of 
wing, narrowly white-bordered; bill, black; gape, car- 
mine; feet, dark red-brown; iris, brown. Adults in 
Winter: Forehead, sides of head, neck all around and 



entire under parts, pure white; crown, mixed gray and 
white, darker on nape with a dusky stripe above and 
another behind eye ; upper parts, pale lead-gray ; many 
feathers with white edges. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: On dead reeds in marshes; 
a careless structure of a few dead sedges and grass. 
Eggs : 2 to 4, pale brownish-olive heavily marked with 
blotches and spots of light brown and sepia. 

Distribution. — North and South America ; breeds 
from southwestern British Columbia. Great Slave Lake, 
southern Keewatin, and western Ontario south to inland 
lakes of California, Nevada, Colorado, northern Mis- 
souri, and northern Ohio; rare on east coast of United 
States in autumn : winters from Me.xico to Panama, 
Peru, and Chile; accidental in Alaska. Nova Scotia, 
and New Brunswick; casual in West Indies and the 
Bahamas. 



CO 

Q. 




y 



TERNS 



>7 



The lilack Tern is a species of reallv unique 
personality, and might be characterized as the 
" aquatic swallow " of the sloughs of the north- 
west. It may be recognized as the dark gray bird 
with black under parts, in general form and mo- 
tions not unlike a Purple Martin, which mav be 
seen flitting about over the prairies, especially 
in the vicinity of wet grounds or sloughs, pursu- 
ing insects like any Swallow. In late summer 
and early autumn these birds gather into large 
loose flocks, and are very much in evidence. 
Where the Franklin's Gull is found, the Black 
Tern hardly can fail to be present, though, as the 
Tern is much more widely distributed, the con- 
verse is not true. 



persistent attacks. On one occasion they hit me 
so hard on the top of the head that, even though 
I wore a cloth cap. their blows gave me a severe 
headache, .\fter hatching, the young do not 
remain long in the frail nests, but quickly take 
to the water, and swim about through the aquatic 
vegetation, watched over by their parents, and 
brooded from time to time wherever they may 
crawl out ujion any convenient spot. 

As far as is definitely known, these Terns 
breed only in the western interior of the United 
States and Canada. On one occasion, however, 
when I landed on a low sandy island on the At- 
lantic coast, near Cape Charles. Virginia. I was 
surprised to find a considerable number of them. 




Drawing by R. I- Brasher 



BLACK TERN ii nat. size) 
A Tern with many Swallow habits 



Here, in these sloughs and marshes, it breeds 
in abundance, and is one of the last of all to 
dep(.>sit its eggs — about the middle of June. The 
nest is the merest apology for such, being a slight 
depression, lined with a few wet stems, on some 
little hummock of mud or dt^bris which may 
happen to project from the water. Sometimes 
the nests are partly floating, but heavv rains must 
work havoc with them. Two or three eggs are 
laid. 

The parents are very solicitous when their 
home is approached. They dart about screaming 
and make angry swoops at the head of the in- 
truder, in fact often striking hard with their 
bills. More than once I have sufTered from their 



all in full adult [)lumage, with black breasts. 
They were with other species of Terns, and acted 
exactly as on their western breeding-grounds, 
hovering over me screaming, and dashing furi- 
ously at my head. Unfortunately there had 
been a high storm tide, which had destroyed 
every nest on this barren sand bar, including 
those of Forster's Terns and those of Black Skim- 
mers. Both of these latter had constructed new 
nests and were resentful of intrusion. \\'here 
the Black Terns hovered there were little hol- 
lows in the sand, lined with grass, smaller than 
those of the other Terns, just the size that the 
species constructs in the West. It was unfortu- 
nate that I could not return to the island later, 



68 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



as I am positive they must have been breeding 
there, and this is the only case thus far known 




Photo by H. K. Job Courtesy ut Doubluday, Page i; Co. 

NEST OF BLACK TERN 

The merest apology for a nest, being a slight depression, lined 
with a few wet stems, on some little hummock which may 
happen to project from the water 

of any evidence of their breeding on the Atlantic 
coast. 



On another occasion also I witnessed a peculiar 
happening with the species. It is well known that 
they do not breed until two years old and in 
full plumage. In their second summer thev are 
in an immature, white-breasted phase. In 
winter all migrate down into Central and South 
America, and only a comparative few of the im- 
mature plumaged birds of a year old are ob- 
served in our borders. In June, 1915, while 
cruising along the western coast of Louisiana, I 
saw great clouds of rather small birds, resem- 
bling in the distance flights of Golden Plovers 
such as I had seen many years ago, performing 
evolutions high in the air, and then settling down 
on the shores of a sandy inlet back of the outer 
beach. We managed to land and cross to it, and 
were amazed to find there swarms of Black 
Terns, nearly all in the one-year-old plumage, 
with a very few adults intermingled, fairly cover- 
ing the flats for probably a couple of miles. There 
must have been tens of thousands of them, and 
their identity was proved by collecting a few. 
This would indicate that the _\-oung remain well 
to the south, not migrating north to any consider- 
able extent until fully mature. 

Herbert K. Job. 



NODDY 

Anoiis stolidus (LiiDunis) 

A. O. U. Xumher 70 



General Description. — Length. i6 inches. Color 
of head and neck, gray; of hody, brown. Tail, rounded, 
the central feathers longest. 

Color. — Forehead, white; crown, leaden-gray; sides 
of head and neck all around, bluish-slate with a dark 
spot in front of eye; rest of pUiinage, deep brown 
blackening on wings and tail; bill, black; feet, dark 
reddish-brown ; iris, brown. 



Nest and Eggs. — Nest: In low bushes ; constructed 
of sticks, leaves, and grass. Eggs: i, warm buff, 
spotted and blotched with reddish-brown and lavender, 
chiefly around lar.ge end. 

Distribution. — Tropica! coasts. Breeds on Florida 
Keys, the coast of Louisiana, and in the Bahamas and 
West Indies ; winters south to Brazil and Tristan da 
Cunha Island. 



SOOTY TERN 
Sterna fuscata Lhiiuvus 



.\. n, T.'. .Number ; 

Other Names. — Egg Bird ; Wide-awake. 

General Description. — Length., 15 to 17 inches. 
Color above, black ; below, white. 

Color. — Adults : Entire upper parts, black with a 
slight greenish-gloss ; a white crescent on forehead 
extending above eyes, separated from white cheeks by a 



.See Color Pblte 7 

black band from eye obliquely downward and forward 
to bill: sides of head to eyes, half way around neck, 
and entire under parts, white; primaries and second- 
aries, black, lighter on inner webs of former, white on 
inner webs of latter; long outside tail-feathers, white; 
bill and feet, black; iris, red. Young: Entire plumage, 



TERNS 



69 



smoky-brown, grayish on abdomen ; upper wing-coverts 
and shoulders, tipped with white giving a spotty 
appearance; feathers of back, rump, and upper tail- 
coverts, margined with dull rufous; primaries and tail, 
black, the latter but little forked; bill, black above, dull 
reddish below; eyes and feet, dusky-red. 

Nest and Eggs. — On sandy beaches i to 3 esjss are 
dropped with slight attempt at a nest; the eggs are 



creani\ or buff, sparsely spotted and splashed with 
light lirown, X'andyke brown, and lavender. 

Distribution. — Tropical and subtropical coasts, e.x- 
cept Pacific coast of South America; breeds from 
Florida, Louisiana, and Texas throughout the Bahamas, 
West Indies, and tropical islands of the Atlantic ; rarely 
north til Maine; winters from the Gulf coast to Brazil 
and the Falkland Islands. 



.■\s there is more or less similarity in the a])- 
pearance, habits, and habitat of the Noddv and 
.Sooty Terns it becomes projier as well as con- 
venient to treat the two species together. For 
most of the following facts, we are indebted to 
John P). ^^'atson's carefully prc|)ared monogra])h, 
" The Behavior of Noddy ;ui(l .Sooty Terns," 
this being one of the Papers fnnii the TortiKjas 
Laboratorv of the CaniCi/ic 1 n.<t'itutiou of Jl'ash- 



fool, and that it is applied to the Tern in question 
because of the liird's tamencss or stupidity, es- 
pecially when on the nest. How much justifica- 
tion there is for this explanation will appear from 
Mr. ^^'atson's description of the Noddy's conduct 
during the nidification jieriod. As he shows, the 
name undoubtedly has reference to the bird's 
curious nodding habit, of which he gives the 
following description : 




^^.iM.4 




s^ 



Drawing by 1\. 1 Li;.,^.,,L 

NODDY (i nat. size) 
It greets a stranger bird with a nod of the head 



hujton. Mr. Watson remarks th:it " extended 
statements of the instincts and habits of these 
birds are not extant." The habit of the birds of 
assembling on islands has been noted bv various 
naturalists and travelers, but nearly all informa- 
tion concerning them has to do with their traits 
during the nesting season, and little is known 
of the remainder of their lives. What Air. AX'at- 
son records concerning their domestic condtict 
should, however, receive the careful attention of 
all who are interested in these comparatively little 
known birds. 

Certain of the dictionaries inform the readers 
that the word " Noddy " means simpleton or 



" This nodding reaction is one of the most 
interesting and ludicrous acts of the Noddy Tern. 
It is cjuite elabor;ite. Two birds will face each 
other, one will then bow the head almost to the 
ground, raise it quickly almost to a vertical 
position, and then quickly lower it. He will re- 
])eat this over and over again with great rapidity. 
The other bird .goes through ;i similar panto- 
mime. Tf a stranger bird alights near a group, 
he s.iliites those nearest, and is in turn s;iluted 
by them. During the pantomime a sound is 
rarely he;ird." 

■\Tr. Watson observed these singular birds on 
Bird Kev, a verv small coral island aboiu sixty- 



70 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



five miles west of Key West. The Terns ar- 
rived for the nesting season during the last week 
of April. .It was observed that their food con- 
sisted of small fish of various kinds ; that they 
never swam or dived, and that they never touched 
the water except when drinking, bathing, or fish- 
ing. They drank sea water, which they took on 
the wing by dipping the opened beak into the 
sea. They bathed by dipping the breast and 
head, and did not immerse the whole body. Fre- 
quently they followed schools of- minnows which 
were driven to the surface by larger fish, and 
which they caught with their bills. This fishing 
was done by groups of Noddies and Sooties to the 
number of from fift^- to one hundred. 



formance. It is begun by the male, who nods 
vigorously to the female. She responds by 
thrusting her bill down his throat while he 
regurgitates the fish he has caught. Then the 
male flies away to return presently with a 
stick, and the nest-building operation is be- 
gun without further ceremony. The nest is 
made of dead branches, or seaweed, or a com- 
bination of both, and it may be lined 
with shells, upon which the eggs are laid. 
The building may be done jointly by both sexes 
or, apparently, by either working chiefly un- 
assisted. It is far from true that the brooding 
bird displays indifiference when an intruder ap- 
proaches, says Mr. Watson. On the contrary. 










Photograph by H. K. Job 



Courtesy of Outing Pubhshing Co. 



SOOTY TERN ON NEST 



Mr. Watson noted that the Noddies left the 
island at about daybreak, fished for about two 
hours, and then returned to relieve their mates, 
who thereupon flew out to sea for their turn at 
fishing. ' Before the single egg is laid the male 
Noddy does all of the fishing and feeds the 
female. After the egg is laid the birds relieve 
each other at intervals of about two hours. Dur- 
ing the laying and brooding season the male 
Sooty probably stays out over the water all day, 
but during the laying season he returns at night 
to feed the female, while in the brooding season 
he relieves the female. It seems probable that 
the birds feed within fifteen knots of the shore. 

The courtship of the Noddy is a curious per- 



though tliey may permit a very close approach, 
even to within handling distance, they strike 
savagely with their sharp beaks, and Mr. Watson 
says he has been attacked by the flying birds with 
such spirit that his hat was knocked off and his 
scalp cut by their bills. Incubation requires from 
thirty-two to thirty-five days, and the parents 
share the labor of feeding the young. The Nod- 
dies made use of nests of the previous season, 
by adding new material: and that this operation, 
apparently, was repeated several times seemed 
probable to Mr. Watson, as some of the nests 
were very large and bulky. But he found no 
proof that the same pair actually returned to the 
same nest. Often the birds built in low bushes. 



TERNS 



hut in no instance was the nest placed directlv on 
the ijround. for it was noticed that even nests 
which seemed to be so placed were in reality 
resting on a worn-down turf of grass. 

The nest of the Sooty Tern, on the other hand, 
was at the most no more than a shallow oval 
depression, liollowed out of the sand by the 
bird's claws. Sometimes this nest was fashioned 
under bayberry bushes, and occasionally a rim 
of leaves was gathered about the edge, but these 
leaves were only such as the bird could reach 
while she was covering the eggs. These birds 
have very definite ideas about their property 
rights, according to Mr. \\'at:-on. That is, they 
evidently consider a plot of ground from four- 
teen inches to two feet Sf[uare within which their 
nest is placed as their private premises, and they 
will leave their eggs or even their young to drive 
away any other bird that comes within their 
domains. This jealousy causes almost constant 
commotion and uproar in the colony; for, if 
a bird upon returning to its mate does not alight 
literally within its own yard, and attempts to 
walk to its own nest, it will be set upon by every 
other bird through whose premises it passes. 
Against human intruders, however, it defends its 



home somewhat less vigorouslv than does the 
Noddy. The birds share incubation, and some- 
times one will brood the eggs for two days in 
succession before being relieved. Thev never 




*r M 



Photo by Herbert Mills Courtesy of Xat. .^sso. Aud. Soc. 

A NODDY NESTING UPON THE BARE GROUND 

Only a few sticks have been gathered around the rim of the nest 

rest or swim on the water and, apparently, get 
so little sleep that they are called the " Wide- 
awake Terns." 



SKIMMERS 

Order Loiigipctuics; family Ryudtopidcc 



HE Skimmers constitute a single family, RyiicIiopiJcc, whicli includes five 
species. Like the Loons and Grebes, they evidently are very old forms, as 
their fossil remains have been found in Patagonia in the strata of the Tertiary 
Period. In several respects they strongly resemble the Terns, but they differ 
from them and from all other birds in the curious structure of the bill, which 
is long, and much compressed laterally, the lower mandible, which is much 
longer than the upper, being as thin as a knife-blade. The tipper mandible 
is peculiar in that it is movable. These differences are plainly modifications 
which fit the bird for its method of capturing its food (shrimps, small fish, 
and other animal forms) by skimming the surface of the water with the lower 
mandible, the upper being kept slightly raised meanwhile. This manner of 

feeding is suggestive of that of the whales. They hunt their food in companies and are 

partially nocturnal in their habits. 

The birds generally are pure white below, and black, with some white tipping of the 

feathers on the upper parts. Their bodies are from sixteen to about twenty inches long, 

their wings slender and long, the tail short and slightly forked; the feet are small with the 

webs between the middle and the inner toes deeply notched. 

Skimmers build no nest, but lay three or four eggs in a slight hollow in the sand. The 

Black Skimmer is the only member of the family which occurs in America. 





0t^^ 



■vi 



» . . * 






o 

o 

Q 

< 

O 

o 







SKIMMERS 



73 



BLACK SKIMMER 
Rynchops nigra Liiiihciix 

A. O. U. Number 80 ^cc ( ulor I'late 7 



Other Names. — Cutwater; Scissorhill : Sliearwater ; 
Storm Gull. 

General Description. — Length, i6 to _'ii inches. 
Color aliove. black; below, white. 

Color. — Crown, sides of head to below eyes, back of 
neck, and entire up/'cr parts, glossy black ; forehead, 
sides of head below eyes, sides of neck, and whole 
under jiarts, pure white with a rosy tint in sj'ring; tips 
of inner four primaries and secondaries, white ; tail, 
white, the central feathers black; basal half of bill, 



carmine, rest black; feet, carmine; iris, brown. 
Uow.Nv Voung: Sand-colored. 

Nest and Eggs. — Eggs : Deposited on the bare sand ; 
4, white to pale buff, spotted and blotched with dark 
browns and black and some lavender. 

Distribution. — Tropical and temperate America ; 
strictly maritime; breeds from Virginia (formerly New 
Jersey) to the Gulf coast and Texas; rarely north to 
the Bay of Fundy ; winters from the Gulf coast to 
Colima, Me.xico, and Costa Rica; casual in West Indies. 



Five species of the .Skiniiiier fimiih- inhabit 
the warmer portions of the earth. ( )ne of these, 
the Black Skimmer, reaches the shores of the 
United States and is distributed along the Gulf 
of Mexico from Texas to Key West, and tiorth- 
ward ailing- the Atlantic coast to Virginia. It 
is a large, long-winged bird, black above and 
white beneath. The bill of this bird is most 
unique, both mandibles being thin and flat like 
a knife-blade, and come together edgewise, and 
not like a duck's bill. The under one is an inch 
or more longer than the upper, and this is pushed 
forward under the surface of the water as the 
Skimmer with open mouth flies along the sea 



looking for the small marine animal-life upon 
which it feeds. In search of food they often 
follow along the itarrow creeks through the 
marshes and at times enter the outer bays and 
river-mouths. They never go inland, nor do 
thev travel very far to sea. W hen Skimmers 
first appear in spring along our sotithern beaches 
they come in flocks of hundreds or even thou- 
sands. -Vt this season they are very restless and 
the flocks are continually taking flight from one 
beach or bar to another, and their shouts fairly 
drown the roar of the surf. 

Thev are more or less gregarious throughout 
the stimmer, and assemble in colonies to rear their 



"A' 






V 



X 




Ese**" 



,>^„r**?- 




^ 



Photograph by H. K. .1-1. 



^y of Outing Publishing Co. 



BLACK SKIMMERS 
On Battledore Island, Louisiana 



74 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



young. Their nesting places are situated on sand 
spits running out from shore or on small iso- 
lated islands of sand and sea-shells. The nest is 
a simple, unlined hollow in the sand which the 
bird makes by turning its body around many 
times. The eggs vary from three to five in 
number and are variously spotted and blotched, 
no two being exactly alike. If the nests are 
robbed, a second nest is soon made and another 
clutch of eggs is laid. Very often groups of 
breeding Skimmers assemble on the same sandy 
shore where Terns are nesting, but use a terri- 
tory more or less separated from that occupied 
by the Terns. They are poor fighters and are 
little disposed to defend aggressively their rights. 



For this reason, and also because they begin to 
lay well after their neighbors have taken up their 
household duties, they are forced to take such 
accommodations as the Terns may deign to leave 
them. If you approach one of their nesting 
places the Skimmers will leap into the air and 
bear down upon you with hoarse cries, but I 
have never had one come near enough actually to 
strike me. 

One of the local names for these birds is 
" Shearwaters." Along the Virginia coast they 
are known as " Storm Gulls." They are never 
shot for food, but their eggs are regularly taken 
by fishermen unless the colonies are carefully 
guarded. T. Gilbert Pearson. 











\ ■.:Em^:^j:M 




T.GILBERT PEARSON HUNTING YOUNG HERRING GULLS HIDING i:^ THE WEEDS 

Little Duck Island^ Maine 



ORDER OF TUBE-NOSED SWIMMERS 




lLSti«V' 



Order Titbiiiaics 

W W OSTRILS opening through tubes are the distinguishing characteristic of this 
group of birds. Not only is the order cosmopoHtan in distribution, but many 
of the species are found throughout the world. Two families — the Albatrosses 
and the Fulmars, Shearwaters, and Petrels — represent the order in North 
America. In the first of these families the tubes enclosing the nostrils are 
separated and placed one on either side of the bill ; in the other the tubes are 
connected and are on top of the bill. 

An unusual range in size is e.\hibited by the Tube-nosed Swimmers: the 
Storm Petrel is the smallest of the natatorial birds, while the Giant Albatross 
is unsurpassed in wing expanse in the entire bird kingdom. They are unequaled 
in the power of flight. As a rule they keep far off shore, only visiting land 
for the purpose of reproduction. They live practically in the air, flying low over the water 
and snatching their food of marine life and oily matter from the surface of the sea. So far 
as is known, but one egg is laid each season; some species nest in a burrow, but others lay 
the egg on the ground. The young are covered with down when hatched, generally of a 
sooty or gray color, but are helpless and in need of the parents' care for some time. 

Birds of this order have no bright markings in their plumage and are usually gray, or 
black, and white. There are no sexual variations in coloration and the seasonal differences, 
if any, are undetermined. The plumage is very compact and oily. The wings are long, 
narrow, and pointed, and the tail rather short. The bill is hooked and enlarged at the 
tip, the upper mandible being longer than the lower and curved downward. The covering 
of the bill is in several horny plates, showing seams between. The three front toes are 
webbed and the hind toe, when present, is small and elevated. 



ALBATROSSES 

Order Tnbitiarcs; family Diomcdcidar 

EW birds make a stronger appeal to the imagination than do the Albatrosses, 
with their complete masten.' of an art which has been a profound mystery to 
man until very recent years, and in which he can never hope to be more than 
a clumsy tyro in comparison with these great conquerors of the air. Much 
mystery has been made of the evident ease with which these great birds follow 
a rapidly moving ship for hours or even days at a time, with seldom or never 
an apparent movement of their wings. But an Albatross is not a supernatural 
creature and therefore cannot defy the laws of physics. Hence it is obvious 
that the bird must move as the result of the action of some motive force — 
either the pressure of the wind on its wings or the movement of the wings 
themselves. On this interesting subject we have a pretty definitely expressed 
opinion from a trained naturalist, the late Henry N. Aloseley, one of the party of scientists 
who circumnavigated the globe in the Challenger expedition of 1S72-1876. 

" I believe," wrote Moseley, " that Albatrosses move their wings much oftener than 
is suspected. They often have the appearance of soaring for long periods after a ship with- 
out flapping their wings at all, but if thev be verv closelv watched, ver\- short but extremely 

[751' 





[76] 



ALBATROSvSES 77 

quick motions of the wings may be detected. The appearance is rather as if the body of 
the bird dropped a very short distance and rose again. The movements cannot be seen 
at all unless the bird is e.xactly on a level with the eye. A very quick stroke, carried even 
through a very short arc can, of course, supply a large store of fresh momentum. In per- 
fectly calm weather, Albatrosses flap heavily." {Notes by a Naturalist.) 

Professor Hutton's description (in the Ibis) of the flight of the Albatross is probably 
as accurate as any: — " With outstretched, motionless wings he sails over the surface of the 
sea, now rising high in air, now with a bold sweep, and wings inclined at an angle with the 
horizon, descending until the tip of the lower one all but touches the crests of the waves 
as he skims over them. Suddenly he sees something floating on the water and prepares 
to alight; but how changed he now is from the noble bird, but a moment before all grace 
and symmetry. He raises his wings, his head goes back and his back goes in ; down drop two 
enormous webbed feet straddled out to their full extent, and with a hoarse croak, between 
the cry of a Raven and that of a sheep, he falls ' souse ' into the water. Here he is at home 
again, breasting the waves like a cork. Presently he stretches out his neck, and with a great 
exertion of his wings runs along the top of the water for seventy or eighty yards, until, at 
last, having got sufficient impetus, he tucks up his legs, and is once more fairly launched 
in the air." 

Moseley's statement that Albatrosses flap heavily in calm weather should set at rest 
the oft-reported assertion that they never move their wings in flight, while the observation 
that there is actually some occasional movement even when the wings seem to be motionless 
must, of course, be accepted as entirely accurate, even though that acceptance necessarily 
destroys the cherished notion that the bird has and exercises supernatural powers. But 
even after it has been explained in perfectly cold-blooded scientific language, there should 
be enough of the truly remarkable left in the flight of the Albatross to create a profound 
impression upon any mind which does not insist upon seeing the supernatural where it does 
not exist. These notions of the supernatural are, of course, especially prevalent among 
sailors, who are famous for the variety and picturesqueness of their superstitions. And 
we are indebted to their Albatross superstition for having inspired Samuel Taylor Coleridge 
to write "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," which, so Swinburne says, "for melody and 
splendor it were hardly rash to call the first poem in the language." 

About sixteen species of the Albatross are known, and all are essentially birds of the 
subtropical or southern tropical seas, although the Black-footed and Laysan species some- 
times wander as far north as Alaska, and either is occasionally seen off the Pacific coast 
of the United States. Though their wings when extended may measure twelve feet, or even 
more, their bodies rarely weigh more than eighteen pounds. The food of these great birds 
consists of fish, cuttlefish, jellyfish, offal, and refuse thrown overboard from the ships they 
follow. Such matter they seize eagerly, a habit which is taken advantage of by brutal 
or thoughtless persons who catch the bird by trolling with a long line and a hook baited 
with meat or fish. 



BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS 
Diomedea nigripes Audubon 

A. O- V. Number 8i 

Other Name. — Goony. chocolate-brown ; leaden-gray below whitening on front 

General Description. — Lcngtli. 30 to 36 inches. of head and at base of tail; a spot in front of eye and 

Color above, dark chocolate-brown; below, gray. Tail, streak above it, black; feathers of upper parts with 

short; wings, very long and when folded reaching to or paler edges; bill, dusky; feet, black. Young: .Similar 

beyond tip of tail. to adult, but less white on face, and upper tail-coverts 

Color. — Adults: Top of head and upper parts, dark dusky. 



78 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



Nest and Eggs. — Nest: On the ground, usually on 
isolated islands of the ocean ; there is little attempt at 
nest building, the single egg being surrounded merely 
by seaweed. 



Distribution. — North Pacific ; breeds on islands 
northwest of Hawaii and on Marshall Islands; occurs 
oflf the coast from southern Alaska to California and 
western Mexico, and off coasts of China and Japan. 



I have a distinct picture in mind, when out on 
the Pacific, of a big dark long-winged bird coast- 
ing down the troughs of the waves and aeroplan- 
ing over the mountainous crests. I scarcely ever 
saw the bird light and feed on the water, yet of 
course, it follows the ship for scraps. The bird 
is more a part of the sea than the Gull. It curves 
in great circles over the maddened sea purely for 



the love of flying. I asked its name of one of the 
sailors and he called it a" Goony." I told hiin it 
was a Black-footed Albatross. 

The Albatross will always be known in English 
literature through Coleridge's poem, " The An- 
cient Mariner." What a lesson against the 
wanton killing of a friendly bird ! 

WlLLI.^M L. FiNLEY. 



LAYSAN ALBATROSS 
Diomedea immutabilis Rothschild 



A. o. U. Xu 

General Description. — Length. 3 feet. Color above, 
smoky-lirown ; color below, white. Tail, short ; wings, 
very long and when folded reaching to or beyond tip 
of tail. 

Color. — Head, neck, lower rump, and under parts, 
white : back and shoulders, smoky-brown : wings and 
their coverts, blackish-brown ; tail, black shading to 



white at base ; bill, gray, blackish at tip. yellow at base 
below ; feet, fleshy-pink ; iris, brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — The single egg is deposited on the 
ground on Laysan and adjacent islands of the North 
Pacific. 

Distribution. — Laysan and Midway islands to San 
Geronimo and Guadalupe islands, Lower California. 



The Laysan is the Albatross whose ruthless 
slaughter and narrow escape from complete 
extinction constitute an episode revealing the 
most heartless and hideous brutality ever per- 
petrated by man ujion the bird-world, which is 
saying much. The island of Laysan, which gives 
its name to this beautiful and interesting species 
of one of the most wonderful of all the birds, 
lies in the Pacific Ocean about 700 miles west by 
north of Honolulu. It is barren, except for a 
scanty growth of shrubs, and therefore has never 
been inhabited by man, but for a great many 
years had been the home and breeding place of 
the Laysan Albatross, the Black-footed Alba- 
tross, the Sooty, \Miite, Noddy, and Hawaiian 
Terns, the Bonin Petrel, two species of Shear- 
water, the Red-tailed Tropic-bird, two species 
of Booby, and the Man-o'-war-bird. A photo- 
graph of the island, taken in 1909, shows a great 
plain, about a mile in area, not only covered, but 
actually crowded, chiefly with Laysan Alba- 
trosses. 



For several years guano had been shipped from 
this island, and the Albatrosses were robbed more 
or less persistently of their eggs, but were not 
otherwise seriously molested. Then came the epi- 
sode referred to above, which is described by 
Dr, William T. Hornaday in his book Our 
Vanishing Wild Life: 

" 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 indi- 
vidual of Honolukt and elsewhere, named Max 
.Schleminer, decided that the wings of those 
.Vlbatrosses, Gulls, and Terns should be torn oft' 
and sent to Japan, whence they would tmdoubt- 
edly be shipped to Paris, the special market for 
the wings of sea-birds slaughtered in the Pacific. 
Schlemmer the Slaughterer bought a cheap ves- 
sel, 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 



ALBx\TROSSES 



79 



the birds. For several months they slaughtered 
diligently and without mercy. Apparently it was 
the ambition of Schlemiiier to kill every bird on 
the island. 

" By the time the bird butchers had accumu- 
lated between three and four carloads of wings, 
and the carnage was half finished, William A. 
Bryan, professor of zoology in the College of 
Honolulu, heard of it and promptlv wired the 
United States Government. Without the loss of 
a moment the Secretary of the Navy dispatched 
the revenue cutter Thetis to the shambles of Lay- 
san. \MTen 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 
end skins. The twenty-three Japanese poachers 
were arrested and taken to Honolulu for trial, 
and the Tlictis also brought away all of the stolen 
wings and plumage, with the exception of a 
shedful of wings that had to be left behind on 
account of lack of carrying space." 

In 191 1, the Iowa State University sent to 
Laysan a scientific expedition under charge of 
Professor Homer R. Dill. His report on the 
conditions he found is a terrible indictment, from 
which the following may be quoted : " 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 by hundreds 
to slowdy 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 prepara- 
tion. Many other revolting sights, such as the 
remains of young birds that had been left to 
starve, and birds with broken w'ings and de- 
formed beaks were to be seen. Killing clubs, 
nets, and other implements used by these ma- 
rauders were lying all about. 

" This wholesale killing has had an appalling 
effect upon the colony. It is conservative to say 
that fully one-half the number of birds of both 
species of Albatross that were so abundant in 
1903 have been killed. The colonies that remain 
are in a sadly decimated condition." 

The prompt and effective interference of the 
Government was due to the fact that in Febru- 
ary, 1909, President Roosevelt issued an execu- 
tive order creating the Hawaiian Island Reserva- 
tion for Birds, which includes Laysan Island and 
\'oi.. I — 7 



several other islands and reefs. But for that 
interference, the Laysan Albatross might have 
been reduced to a point which would have seri- 
ously threatened it with extermination. 

Scientifically the Albatross is best known 
through Mr. Walter K. Fisher's photographs and 
descriptions. In May, 1902. he visited the Island 
of Laysan, where he found the Black-footed and 
Laysan Albatrosses breeding in great numbers. 
His account of their nesting habits, courting 
antics, and peculiar dances is well worth reading. 

In the .4iik for January, 1904, he writes: " The 
Albatross lays one egg on the ground, usually in 
a slightly raised mound with a shallow basin in 
the top. . . . The ei:::g is laid about the middle 
of November. . . . The young are not hatched 
until February, and then begin the six months of 
hard work to feed the hungry babies. They grow 
slowly, for birds, and it is not till the last of 
July that the most venturesome follow their 
parents on short flights to the sea. A few weeks 
later all are on the wing, and with the old birds 
they scatter far and wide over the Pacific." 

Speaking of the peculiar dance of the Alba- 
trosses, Mr. Fisher says, " The old birds have an 
innate objection to idleness, and so for their 
diversion they spend much time in a curious 
dance, or perhaps more appropriately a ' cake- 
walk.' ... At first two birds approach one an- 
other, bowing profoundly and stepping heavily. 
They swagger about each other, courtesying 
solemnly, then suddenly begin to fence a little, 
crossing bills and whetting them together, some- 
times with a whistling sound, meanwhile pecking 
and dropping stiff little bows. All at once one 
lifts its closed wing and nibbles at the feathers 
beneath, or rarely, if in a hurry, quickly turns its 
head. The partner during this short perform- 
ance assumes a statuesque pose, and either looks 
mechanically from side to side, or snaps its bill 
loudly a few times. Then, the first bird bows 
once, and ])ointing its head and beak straight 
upward, rises on its toes, puft's out its breast, 
and utters a prolonged nasal Ah-h-h-h. with a 
rapidly rising inflection and bovine quality. . . . 
Often both birds raise their heads in air and 
favor the appreciative audience with that ridicu- 
lous and indescribable bovine groan. . . . Occa- 
sionally while ' cake-walking ' one will lightly 
pick up a straw or twig, and present it to the 
other, who does not accept the gift, however, 
but thereupon returns the compliment, when 
straws are promptly drojjped. and all hands be- 
gin bowing and walking about as if their very 
lives depended upon it." George Gladden. 



8o 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



FULMARS, SHEARWATERS, AND PETRELS 

Order Tiihiiiarcs; family ProceUariidcc 




HE Fulmars, Shearwaters, and Petrels are the family Procellariidcc and with 
the Albatrosses form the order of Tube-nosed Swimmers. As the name of the 
order indicates, its chief point of difference from all other orders is the tubular 
form of the nostrils. Other characteristics are : the bill, hooked and enlarged at 
the tip and with the upper section longer than the lower and with the covering 
in several horny sections; the tail, rather short with twelve or fourteen feathers; 
the wings, usually long and pointed ; and the hind toe, either small or lacking, 
and, if present, elevated. The plumage is compact and oily and shows a 
tendency toward uniformity in coloration. Often the bodies of the birds in 
this family are so fat that they can be used for illumination. 

Over the oceans of the world are distributed nearly one hundred members 
of this family. About thirty -five are of regular or accidental occurrence in North America. 
Not a member is ever found inland unless driven there by a storm. Neither do any of 
them frequent the shores except for the purpose of reproduction. They spend practically 
all their time on the wing, and gather their food of marine animals and oily matter from the 
surface of the water. 

So far as is known, the members of this group lay only a single egg. The Fulmars 
nest in colonies, like the Gulls, on the small islands near the shores of the North Pacific and 
North Atlantic. Of the nesting habits of the Shearwaters, very little is known; some breed 
on the islands of the North Atlantic, and it is probable that others breed on the islands 
of the southern hemisphere, coming north as the southern winter sets in. Some of the 
Petrels breed in the northern hemisphere and others in the southern. The species in this 
group concerning whose nesting habits we do know something usually deposit the lone egg 
in a burrow or a cavity. The young when hatched are covered with down, usually of a 
grayish color, and are cared for in the nest. At first they are fed by regurgitation on an oily 
fluid. 



FULMAR 
Fulmarus glacialis glacialis (Linncrus) 

A. O II. .Number 86 



Other Names. — Fulmar Petrel; Molly Hawk; John 
Down; Sea Horse; MoUimoke ; Mallemuck; Noddy. 

Length. — i8 to 20 inches. 

Color. — Lkjht Ph.\.se: Mantle, pale bluish-gray re- 
stricted to back and wings or extending also on head 
and tail ; primaries and secondaries, dark ashy-brown ; 
a dark spot in front of eye; rest of plumage, pure white; 
bill, yellow, tinged with green above and below ; feet, 
pale gray ; iris, brown. Dark Phase: Entire plumage, 
smoky-gray, paler below ; feathers of upper parts, with 



darker margins; primaries, ashy-brown; bill, dull 
yellow; feet, dusky-gray; iris, brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — The single white egg is deposited 
in a crevice of the rock. 

Distribution. — North Atlantic; breeds from north- 
ern Greenland to Cumberland Sound, and east at least 
to Franz Josef Land; ranges north to latitude 85" and 
west to Melville Island ; winters south to fishing banks 
ofif Newfoundland and to Georges Bank off Massa- 
chusetts, rarely to New Jersey. 



Tile Fulmar is a circumpolar bird of the north- 
ern hemisphere. It breeds in countless numbers 
in Greenland, Franz Josef Land, Baffin Bay, Ice- 
land, Spitzbergen, St. Kilda, and other regions 
throughout the northland. It is one of the largest 
of its family in the northern hemisphere, and an 
untrained or careless observer might mistake it 



for a Cull, but its jieculiarly constructed bill 
separates it distinctly from that family, and puts 
it among the so-called " Tube-nosed Swimmers." 
Moreover, its flight is much more like that of 
the Albatross and differs sharply from that of the 
Shearwaters and Petrels. As Percy R. Lowe 
says (in Our Common Sea-birds) : " With out- 



FULiMARS, SHEARWATERS, AND PETRELS 



8i 



spread wings, stretched stiff as a board, it will 
remain poised and balanced against a strong 
half-gale, or glide through the air with wonderful 
grace by the minutes together, now skimming 
over the crests of the waves or following down 
into their deep troughs, now stoi)i)ing to alight. 
feet first, on the surface, in order to pick up 
some scrap food or some mollusk which it has 
espied. In coloration, too, the Fulmar approaches 
more nearly to the Albatross than to the rest of 
its family," while in nesting habits it " seems 
intermediate between the Albatross, which nests 
on the flat oceanic islands in the open, and the 
true Petrels, which nest in holes or burrows in 
the ground or loose rocks.'' 



Another peculiarity of this bird is that it is 
almost voiceless. Even when its nesting places 
are invaded and hundreds or even thousands of 
the Fulmars take to their wings, thev sail about 
in utter silence, like so many ghosts of birds. 
They are strictly pelagic in their habits except 
during the breeding season. On the ocean they 
are nuich given to following whaling ships for 
the blubber and oily scraps thrown overboard. 
This food they seem never to eat while on the 
wing, but invariably to devour it while floating 
on the surface of the water, after the practice of 
the Albatross. To the crews of the whalers and 
sealers the bird is well known, and to them it 
(iwes the names of " Mollimoke " and " N^oddv." 



Other Names. — Hagdoii ; Hag: Haglet ; Wandering 
Shearwater; Coinnion Atlantic Shearwater; Cinereous 
Puffin. 

General Description. — Length, i8 to 20 inches ; 
spread of wings. ^(1 to 45 inches. Color above, clark 
brown ; below, white. 



GREATER SHEARWATER 
Puffinus gravis (O'Reilly) 

A. O. U. Number 89 

Color. — Upper parts, dark brown, shading on head 
to grayish-brown ; usually lighter on hindneck. dark- 
est on inner secondaries and rump, the feathers of 
back, rump, and wing-coverts ed.ged with pale brownish- 
ash ; crown, uniform brown extending on sides of head 
to level of gape, with line of demarcation from white 




Drawing by R. I. Brasher 



GREATER SHEARWATER (J nat. size) 
One of the " stiff-winged " flyeis of tfie ocean 



82 



BIRDS UF AMERICA 



of throat distinct ; upper tail-coverts, white with dusky 
bars or centers ; primaries, brownish-black, lightening 
toward base ; entire under parts, white with large dark 
brown patches on sides and flanks ; under lail-covcrts. 
dark grayish-brown with white tips; tail, brownish- 
black; bill, dusky horn color: feet, yellowish flesh 
color ; iris, brown. 
Nest and Eggs. — Little is known concerning its 



nesting; it is supposed to breed in a burrow on islands 
of the north Atlantic, laying a single white or yellow- 
ish-white egg. 

Distribution. — Atlantic Ocean, from Arctic circle 
south to Cape Horn and Cape of Good Hope; occurs 
off the eastern coast of North America from June to 
November ; occasionally visits the British Isles during 
the autumn months. 



From the firm deck of a great sliip out under 
the vast circle of the sky. surrounded by the 
heaving, racing ocean swells, the heart sickens 
at the thought of being left there alone. But 
to the Shearwater this is home. It needs no 
companionship and seeks none. On long slender 
wings, extending some three feet, it goes on, 
alinost ever on, upon its lonely course, A series 
of rapid beats give it momentum for a prolonged 




Photo by H, K. Job Cuuntby of Outing Pub. Uo. 

GREATER SHEARWATER 

Off the coast of Massachusetts 

glide upon stiffly extended pinions, even into the 
very teeth of the gale. Tipping to one side, the 
better to trim sail, it skims along never to reach 
a destination, for it seems always going, never 
arriving. 

-Such is the rather large gray sea-bird with 
white breast which we may meet from late 
spring to advanced autumn well ofif our Atlantic 
shores, hardly nearer than where land ap])ears 
only as a distant haze. Though this is the most 
common of our Shearwaters, few of our human 
kind are privileged to enter its select social circle. 
Deep-water fishermen know the birds well, call- 
ing them "Hags" or "Haglets." Floating offal or 
grease thrown from the vessel, especially when 
anchored on the fishing-grounds, sometimes 
draws quite a concourse. At such times they 
can be enticed very close, and can even be caught 



with hook and line and be drawn squealing and 
lighting upon deck, from the hard surface of 
which they are unable to take wing. 

In calm weather they can be seen resting on 
the water, and it is one of the few occasions 
when they seem really social, sitting around and 
chattering to one another. At such times they 
take to wing with some difficulty, for want of 
wind, and I have almost run them down by 
steering straight for them. 

Their food, besides floating animal or vege- 
table matter, consists of various marine organ- 
isms, particularly small fish. The appearance of 
a school of the latter will quickly, as though by 
magic, draw a crowd, even though few or none 
may have been previously noticed. They plunge 
headlong into the water and flap about as though 
mad, or else rem;un on wing and patter with their 
feet over the surface. The frightened fish sub- 
merge, and immediately each bird is oiT on its 
lonely wanderings. 

No one has yet discovered the breeding haunts 
of this singular creature, but they are undoubtedly 
on some desolate Antarctic island where, in a bur- 
row or a hole in the rocks, the female deposits 
one large white egg, after the usual Shearwater 
manner. The southern summer, when they nest, 
is our northern winter. When nesting time is 
over, and the only bond but death strong enough 
to keep them quiet is relaxed, they renew their 
roaming. Oceans are hardly wide enough to 
circumscribe their energy, and thus, driven by the 
returning wanderlust, they visit us during our 
warmer months. 

The best places to find Shearwaters, as well as 
the other " ocean wanderers," apparently are the 
fishing " banks," where fishing vessels congre- 
gate. I have found them in considerable numbers 
five to ten miles or more southeastward off Chat- 
ham, Mass., and oft' Cape Sable, Nova Scotia. 
Fishermen report them abundant on Georges, 
Grand, and other banks. Though seen from 
May or June to November, the period of July 
to September seems to represent the height of 
tlieir season with us. Herbert K. Job. 



FULAIARS, SHEARWATERS, AND PETRELS 



83 



SOOTY SHEARWATER 

Puffinus griseus Hiiiicliii) 



Other Names.— Ulack Hag; Black Ilasdon; Dark- 
bodied Shearwater. 

General Description. — Leiigtli. 10 tu 18 inches: 
spread of wings. 40 inches. Phimagc, dark sooty-brown 
above and below. 

Color. — I'nijiiym dark sooty-brown, blackening an 
zcings and tail; more sooty-gray below with paler 
throat; bill, dusky-bluish horn, the tube, ridge, and bill 
blackish: inside of leg and upper side of feet, flesh 



\linihcr 95 

color; outside of outer toe and under side of feet, 
blackish. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: Probably a burrow in the 
ground on sea islands of the South Atlantic, a single 
white egg being deposited at the end of the burrow. 

Distribution. — Oceans of southern hemisphere; 
occurs in summer on the Pacific coast from southern 
Alaska to Lower California, and on the Atlantic coast 
from Gulf of St. Lawrence to South Carolina. 




Photograph by H 



.'iL'day. Page & Co. 



SOOTY SHEARWATER 1 foreground 1 AND GREATER SHEARWATER 



CORY'S SHEARWATER 

Puffinus borealis C orv 



A. (I r .\iimljer 88 



-Length, 20 inches: spread of 
Color above, brownish-ash; 



General Description.- 
wings, 40 to 45 inches, 
below, white. 

Color. — Upper parts, brownish-ash; feathers of back, 
with pale tips ; those on nape and sides of neck nar- 
rowly tipped with white; the ash on sides of head and 
neck and white of under parts gradually mingle: iif's 
of upper tail-coverts, zi'liite : under eyelid, white in 
contrast with ashy-gray of head ; wings and tail, brown- 



ish-gray ; sides and flanks, tinged with ash ; under tail- 
coverts, white, the longest tinged near ends with ash 
which extends nearly to tips of the longest tail-feathers ; 
bill, greenish-black, yellow at base and on tip ; feet, 
greenish-black; iris, brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Laiknown but prol)ably similar to 
others of the genus. 

Distribution. — Coasts of Massachusetts. Rhode 
Island, and Long Island (August to November). 



Somewhat smaller than the Cjreater Shear- 
water, the Sooty Shearwater very closely resem- 
bles it in habits and flight, but differs from it 
markedly in plumage, which at a distance looks 
as black as that of a Crow. It would seem 
decidedly strange that this bird escaped entirely 
the notice of W'ilson, Nuttall, and Audubon, but 



for the fact that even now its nesting habits are 
unknown, nor have its nest and eggs been dis- 
covered. 

Cory's Shearwater is even more a stranger ; 
it has been seen only ofT the Atlantic coast be- 
tween Massachusetts and Long Island, from 
Atigust to November. 



84 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



WILSON'S PETREL 
Oceanites oceanicus {Kuhl) 

A. O. U. Number 109 



Other Names. — Common Stormy Petrel; Mother 
Carey's Chicken ; Long-legged Storm Petrel. 

General Description. — Length, 7 inches. Color, 
dark suoty-bruwn. Lcc/s. lony and stilt-like: tail, 
square. 

Color. — Body, dark sooty-brown ; wings and tail, 
black ; wing-coverts, pale gray ; upper and under tail- 
coverts, sides of rump, and base of tail, white; bill and 



fet--;, black, latter with a large yelloiv sf^ot on webs; 
iris, brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : In burrows or in crevices 
on -Antarctic islands in February. Eggs: i, white. 

Distribution. — South polar regions north to Labra- 
dor and British Isles; common of? the north Atlantic 
coast of America from May to September; accidental 
in Ontario. 



Nearly everyone who crosses the Atlantic or 
makes a coasting voyage must have noticed those 
tiny dark-colored birds about the size of Swal- 
lowrs. with a conspicuotis jjatch (if white on the 
rump. On rapidly fluttering wing they circle 
about the vessel, or wander irregularly over the 
waves. At times they hover at some particular 
spot, pattering their feet in the unstable element 
while a-wing. These are Petrels, often called 
" Mother Carey's Chickens." They are so dis- 
tinct from all other birds that no one who gets 
a fair look could possibly mistake them. The 
first ones are sighted several miles off shore. 



and they are quite inclined to follow vessels 
far out on the open ocean. They are birds whose 
home is on the ocean waves. Some of their scien- 
tific Latin names appropriately describe them as 
" runners on the sea." 

Two species represent their kind on our At- 
lantic coast. One is slightly the larger with a 
forked tail, and is known as Leach's Petrel. The 
other, which has the tail square or slightly 
rounded at the end, is Wilson's Petrel. It is the 
species mostly seen off shore during our summer 
season. Like their relatives the Shearwaters, 
thev breed on the far southern islands of the 




m 



Drawing by R. I. Brasher 

WILSON'S PETREL (J nat. size) 
Its home is on the ocean's waves 



FULMARS, SHEARWATERS, AND PETRELS 



85 



Antarctic, nesting in P'ebruary and laying a 
single white egg in a burrow. F"or a winter tour 
they wander thousands of miles and enjoy our 
northern summer, from about June to October. 
Being summer tourists with us. they are better 
known than though they came with Boreas, and 
for the same reason it is this species which is 
generally observed in summer south of the lati- 
tude of Maine, as the other species is a northern 
breeder. Excursionists from New York City to 
the lower bay often see these birds in consider- 
able numbers. One year, on July 13. a roasting 
hot day ashore. I was refreshed and delighted 
with the constant sight of these Petrels from the 
steamer flying between the heated wilderness of 
bricks and the New Jersey shore resorts. .Some- 
times I have almost lived with them while fish- 
ing offshore from Chatham. ALiss. It was more 
fun than fishing to throw out fish liver, which 
floats, and draw the Petrels by scores around the 
stern. Especially on calm days they would come 
up so close that I have seen them caught bv 
hand. It afforded splendid opportunity to watch 
them at close range as they emulated the Apostle 
Peter, from whom they are named because of 
their curious propensity to " walk " on the water. 
When caught they proved very unapostolic, and 
vomited up liver or ejected thus or from their 
nostrils some dark yellow, strongly scented oil. 
As they flew and fed so close at hand, their 
pretty little twittering was very noticeable. 



The marvel of these birds is their well-nigh 
ceaseless activity. On a very few occasions, 
when the weather was calm and lowery. especi- 
ally before storm. I have seen flocks of them 
huddled together upon the ocean " floor." At 
other times, one sees onlv that eternallv restless 




Photo by H. K. Job ' -i lluugl.tun Mifflin Co. 

WILSON'S PETRELS 

" Walking " on the water 

wandering, quartering over the ocean to pick up 
oily refuse or small marine life. \N'hen waves 
rage and break, they evidently must remain on 
the wing day and night. This is a life onlv for 
those to whom weariness is foreign. 

Herbert K. Joh. 



LEACH'S PETREL 
Oceanodroma leucorhoa ( I 'icillot ) 



A. O. v. -Xuii 

Other Names.— Common Fork-tailed Petrel; Leach's 
Fork-tailed Petrel ; White-rumped Petrel. 

General Description.— Length. 8 inches. Color, 
brownish-black. Legs, short; tail, forked, outer 
feathers more than i/j inch longer than middle pair. 

Color. — Brownish-black, grayer on wing-coverts and 
below : primaries, black ; upper tail-coverts, pure white ; 
bill and feet, black; iris, brown. 



Nest and Eggs. — N'est: In burrows on the ground. 
Eggs: Single, white, unmarked, or wreathed with tine 
li.ght red spots around the larger end. 

Distribution. — Both coasts of North America ; 
breeds from tlie Aleutian and Copper islands. Bering 
Sea. south to Sitka, and from southern Greenland south 
to Maine and the Hebrides ; casual in migration south 
to \'irginia. 



Leach's Petrel and Wilson's Petrel are supple- 
mentary each of the other. The former breeds 
north, the other south, but the latter meets its 
relative in the summer near its breeding grounds. 
The fact that I have never been able — perhaps 
partly from lack of abundance of opportunity • — 
to meet any Petrels off our Atlantic coast in 
winter makes me wonder whether some day 
Leach's may not be found to return the compli- 



ment and visit its relative in its remote southern 
home. 

All the Petrels I have identified ofl^ southern 
New England shores in summer have been Wil- 
son's, which is natural enough, since Leach's is 
not known to breed south of Maine. There and 
northward 1 have found it nesting. Hundreds of 
them resort to the same barren islands. In the 
turf each pair digs a little burrow the size of a 



86 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



rat-hole, and about the middle of June each hole 
contains a single fragile white egg. As we land 
there is not a sign of a bird. But sometimes we 
can smell the peculiar odor like that of the oil 
they eject, characteristic and persistent and 
which lasts in mounted specimens for years. 




l-'iiMtM Ijy H, K. J"l. 

LEACH'S PETREL 
Young and egg removed from burrow 

Presently we notice the little holes, which run 
almost horizontally, just below the roots of the 
grass. A hand inserted up to the elbow lands 
in a little chamber where the brooding bird is 
now imprisoned. At the beginning of the breed- 
ing season I have found both male and female 
in the burrow ; later, only one, which may be of 



either sex, as both sexes incubate. The other 
partner is supposed to be out at sea, but it is a 
curious fact that in daytime no Petrels are seen 
in the vicinity of the islands where they breed. 
Nor have they been proved to remain in other 
burrows or hide in holes of the rocks. After 
dusk the Petrels emerge from their burrows, 
and there are lively times. Dark forms dart 
around like bats, twittering, and also uttering a 
singular little plaintive " song," as it may well 
be called. 

Where animals, such as dogs or cats, are kept 
by fishermen or lighthouse keepers on islands, 
I have found that they make a regular practice of 
digging out and eating Petrels, until the colonies 
are depleted or exterminated. Such practices 
should be prevented. 

Later in the summer, investigation of the holes 
reveals the presence of soft, fuzzy young, covered 
with thick coats of gray down, lighter in color 
than the parents. I have found them as late as 
September without a single feather — perhaps 
the result of robbery of the nests. Such occur- 
rences might have given rise to an old super- 
stition that Petrels hibernate. \\'inter appar- 
ently drives them at least further south than our 
bleak north Atlantic coast. 

Once I tried to make a captured Petrel of this 
species sit for its picture. Its ceaseless activity 
was something astonishing. No wonder it can 
outlast gales and billows in many a test of en- 
durance. Herbert K. Job. 



FORKED-TAILED PETREL 

Oceanodroma furcata (Ginelin) 

A. O. U. Number 105 



Description. — Length, 9 inches. General color, light 
bluislt-yray, fading to white on chin, throat, and under 
tail-coverts; bend of wing and space around eye, dusky; 
bill and feet, black. Tail, slightly forked ; bill, small 
and weak. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : A hole in a bank ; thinly 
lined with dry grass and fine roots. Eggs : Single, 



dull white with minute dark specks evenly dusted over 
the large end. 

Distribution. — North Pacific and adjacent Arctic 
Ocean ; breeds from Commander and Aleutian islands 
south to islands ofif Oregon ; in migration occurs on 
both shores of Bering Sea north to Kotzebue Sound ; 
wanders south to San Pedro, California. 



Description. — Length, 8 inches. General color, sooty- 
black : upper tail-coverts and side of under coverts, 
white ; wing-coverts, brownish ; bill and feet, black. 
Tail, slightly forked ; bill, small and weak. Similar to 
the Forked-tailed Petrel, but smaller in size and darker 
in color. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: A burrow in a bank or 



KAEDING'S PETREL 
Oceanodroma kaedingi Anthony 

A. 0_ IT. Number 103.2 

under a pile of stones; lined with grass, pieces of bark, 
or chips of wood. Eggs: Single, white. 

Distribution. — Pacific coast of North America; 
breeds on islands oflf Washington, Oregon, and Califor- 
nia from Cape Flattery south to the Farallons ; in 
migration south to Guadalope, Socorro, and Clarion 
islands. 



FULMARS, SHEARWATERS, AND PETRELS 



87 



On Three Arch Rocks off the Oregon coast, 
we found both the Forked-tailed and the Kaeding 
Petrels nesting. The latter birds, however, were 
far more abundant than the former. One might 
remain about these rocks for a month, climbing 
over them every day, and not know that a I'etrel 
is there, for they are never seen flying about the 
rocks in daytime. 

We climbed to the grassy slope on the north 
side of the outer rock. My first acquaintance 
with these two birds was when I dropped on my 
knees and dug out a single white egg. Then, 
as I dug a little farther, 1 saw a Kacding's 
Petrel that had crawled back in the extreme 
corner to hide. 

The Petrel nestling is a fluffy ball of down. 
One parent stays in the burrow with the nestling 
during the day, while the other is far out on the 
ocean. The parent feeds the young by thrust- 
ing the beak down his mouth aiul injecting into 
it a yellowish fluid. Both old birds are exi)erts 



at this. If you take one out of the burrow, he 
will immediately " play Jonah " in your direction 
with surprising power of projection. A dose of 
rancid fish oil shot up your sleeve is not pleasing 
to your nerves or your nostrils. 

I shall never forget the evening we made a 
dangerous trip to the top of the rock and hid on 
the north slope. As it grew dark, the Petrels 
began coming in to the island like a swarm of 
bats. Those in the burrows came chittering out 
to meet them. The ground beneath seemed full 
of squeakings and the air full of soft twittering 
and whistlings until it felt uncanny. We fre- 
quently felt the breath of swift wings, but it was 
like a fantasy, for not a bird could be seen, nor 
even a shadow. How one of these Petrels could 
find his own home and his mate in an acre of 
nesting holes hidden all about in the grass and 
in the darkness of night is one of those mys- 
terious things that we cannot solve. 

WlLLI.\M L. FiXLEY. 



STORM PETREL 
Thalassidroma pelagica {Liinia-us) 



A. O. U. Number 



Other Name. — Mother Carey's Chicken. 

General Description. — Length. 5"/, inches. Color, 
brownish-black. Leys, short; tail, sqiiarr. 

Color. — Glossy brownish-black, browner below ; 
Hipper tail-covcrts, ichitc 'anth hlack tips: under tail- 
coverts, streaked with white; bill and feet, black; iris, 
brown. 



Nest and Eggs. — Nest : Holes excavated by the 
bird under rocks. Eccs : One. white. 

Distribution. — Easterly parts of the Atlantic Ocean 
south to the Mediterranean and west coast of Africa; 
occasionally found on the Newfoundland Banks and 
otf the coast of Nova Scotia: breeds on islands otT 
Great Britain. 



LEAST PETREL 



Halocyptena microsoma Coucs 

A. O. V. Xumber 103 



Other Name.— Wedged-tailed Petrel. 

General Description. — Length, 6 inches. Color, 
brownish-black. 'I'ail, rounded. 

Color. — Lustrous brownish-black, without any white, 
darker on upper parts, blackening on wings and tail, 
slightly grayer on greater wing-coverts ; bill and feet, 
black; iris, brown. 



Nest and Eggs. — The single e.gg, white with a ring 
of black specks at end, is laid in a crevice of rocks, 
not in a burrow. 

Distribution. — Eastern Pacific Ocean ; breeds on 
islands ofi Lower California; south in migration to 
western Me.xico. Panama, and Ecuador ; occasionally 
found north of breeding range. 



What the Wilson's and Leach's Petrels are to 
the western waters of the Atlantic, the Storm 
Petrel is to the eastern, and there is strong re- 
semblance between the appearance and habits of 
the three birds. The Storm Petrel appears only 
occasionally ofif or near the American coast, and 
then doubtless in most cases accidentally. 



Similar in its relation to the western coast is 
the Least Petrel, a Pacific Ocean form, seen occa- 
sionally off the coast of California, but essen- 
tially a bird of the islands far from either shore 
of that vast sea. This bird's h.abits are also 
distinctly Petrel-like and need no separate de- 
scrij)tion. 



ORDER OF TOTIPALMATE SWIMMERS 

Order Stcgaiwpodes 

IX families are gathered in this order. All the members are large birds, two feet 
or more in length, but they differ greatly in appearance and habits. However, 
they agree in having all four toes joined with webs — hence the name 
" Totipalmate " has been applied to this group. Their bills are horny and 
are usually hooked and hard at the tip. Their mouths can be opened very 
wide; their tongues are small and knoblike. Each bird is equipped with a 
gular or throat pouch. The nostrils are very small or rudimentary. 

Nests are built on the ground, on rocky ledges, or in brushy trees near 
the water. The eggs are single or few, usually plain-colored, but covered 
^- with a chalky incrustation. The young are hatched helpless and naked, but 
are soon covered with down. All of the Totipalmate Swimmers are carnivorous in diet, 
their food consisting almost entirely of fish. 





TROPIC-BIRDS 

Order Steganopodes; family PhaetJwntidcr 

HE Tropic-bird's habit of prolonged soaring, often at a great height, and, as 
it were, in the very path of the sun, suggested to Linn^us its family name 
Pha'ethontidcc, which is in reference to the Greek mythological tale of Phaeton, 
the son of Helios, the sun god, who induced his father to let him attempt to 
drive the chariot of the sun across the skies, but lost control of the horses and 
scorched the earth by driving too near it, wherefore he was killed by a thunder- 
bolt of Zeus. 

The Tropic-bird family includes six species, two of which breed as far 
north as the tropic of Cancer, and are often found about the West Indies, 
while individuals occasionally wander along the eastern coast of North America 
even as far north as Newfoundland. All have white plumage of satiny appear- 
ance, often with a pinkish tinge, and a black patch or bar in the eye region. 
The bill may be red, yellow, or orange in color, is pointed and somewhat curved, and the 
edges are toothed. The wings are long and rather slim; the tail is composed of from twelve 
to sixteen feathers, of which the central pair are much elongated and are slenderer than the 
others. Excepting the last-named peculiarity, the Tropic-birds resemble in their contour 
large Terns. They differ from the Man-o'-war-birds in general color, and in the shape of the 
bill, as well as in the absence of the throat sac, and the naked area about the eyes, and by 
the long central tail-feathers. The plumage of the sexes in the adults is alike, but the 
immature birds lack the long tail-feathers and show more irregularity in their marking. 

The flight of the Tropic-bird dififers from that of the Albatross in that it is accomplished 
by uniform, rather rapid, and entirely apparent wing-strokes, whereas the movement of the 
Albatross's wings usually is so slight as to be almost imperceptible. Nevertheless the 
Tropic-bird's flight performances are often very spectacular, and include frequent and 
thrilling dives from great heights into the ocean. Moreover, its power of sustained flight for 
enormous distances is fully established, though it frequently shows signs of exhaustion by 
dropping into the rigging of a ship in mid-ocean, an evidence of weariness which is seldom, if 

[88] 



TROPIC-BIRDS 



89 



ever displayed by the great bird of the Ancient Mariner. It often follows ships for long 
distances, and is called by seamen the " Boatswain " or " Boatswain-bird," terms which 
sailors apply also to the Jaegers. Like many birds of great flight power, the Tropic-bird has 
a clumsy, shuffling gait on shore. 

The food of the Tropic-bird consists chiefly of fish, squids, and the like, which are taken 
by diving from the wing. Its only note is a harsh croak or chatter. It breeds in colonies, 
and no nest is built. The single reddish-brown or bufTy egg, more or less speckled with 
brown, purple, or gray, is laid in a hole or a crevice, or sometimes in a tree cavity, and incuba- 
tion is shared by the pair. The bird engaged in this operation is not easily dislodged, but 
resists the intruder by pecking, snapping, and screaming. This spirit is taken advantage of 
by plumage collectors, who seize the sitting bird and pull out its tail-feathers to be used in 
" decorating " women's hats. 



YELLOW-BILLED TROPIC-BIRD 
Phaethon americanus Grant 

A. O. U. .Xuinber 1 12 



Other Names. — Boatswain ; Boatswain-bird ; Bosen- 
bird ; Longtail. 

General Description. — Length, 32 inches. Prevailing 
color, white. 

Color. — .\dult : General plumage, pure wliitc: in 
breeding season tinged with rosy on under parts and 
long tail-feathers ; lores, a stripe over and behind eye, 
and on side of head, black; a band on wing from inner 
coverts to inner secondaries, outer primaries, and shafts 
of tail-feathers, black; bill qnd feet, vellow ; toes, black; 



iris, (lark brown. Young: Plumage, similar, but ex- 
tensively marked with black bars or crescents on most 
of upper parts and with spots on tail. 

Nest and Eggs. — The single egg, chalky-white 
heavily spotted with brown, is laid in crevices or cran- 
nies of rocks on isolated sea islands. 

Distribution. — Florida and Bermuda south to the 
West Indies and the Atlantic coast of Central America; 
accidental in western New York, Nova Scotia, and 
.■\rizona. 



Ima,£;ine to }-ourself a beautiful Dove with 
two central tail-feathers sweeping out behind to 
a distance of a foot and a half, and you will have 
a fairly correct mental picture of the Tropic- 
bird. As I have watched this creature from the 
deck of a steamer in the Caribbean Sea, or in the 
Pacific Ocean, and observed its exquisite form 
and grace, 1 have more than once vowed to my- 
self that here indeed is the most appealing, if not 
the most graceful, of all birds on the sea. The 
plumage is silky white, with just enough black on 
the wings and head to emphasize the dazzling 
glory of the whole effect. They fly rapidly, and 
while feeding wing their way along over the 
water at an altitude of forty or fifty feet. " Long- 
tails " is one of the names by wliich sailors know 
them. 

The Yellow-billed TrojMC-bird is an inhabitant 
of the coasts of tropical America and the nearby 
islands. Tbe northernmost breeding grounds 
appear to be the rocky cliffs of the Bermuda 
Islands. Here up to a few years ago they came 
in spring by thousands to rear their young and 
would remain in tJic neighboring waters until the 



approach of cold weather would drive them again 
to the southward. They are not particularly 
popular with fishermen here, who complain that 
they eat many squids which should be left for 
men who want to use such bait when they desire 
to go angling. The nest is placed in holes and 
cracks of the rocky faces of the islands and 
sometimes among the low scrubby trees and 
bushes higher on shore. 

As only a single egg appears to be laid in a 
season it will easily be seen that no great amount 
of persistent killing of the birds is necessary to 
reduce their numbers. Unless a sentiment is 
rapidly developed for their protection on these 
islands, the " Bosen-birds." as they are often 
called, will probably cease to grace these waters 
and line of the islands' natural beauties will be 
gone forever. 

Writing in Bird-Lore in 191 3. Karl Plath tells 
of the movements of the Tropic-birds on land as 
he watched them in the Bermuda Islands : 

" One of the noticeable features of the Tropic- 
bird is its inability to walk upright or to stand on 
its legs; a f;ict which is not generally understood 



90 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



by taxidermists, who usually mount the bird in the air, they creep awkwardly, with much 

standing on its feet like a Gull. The usual gait flapping of wings, to a suitable height, and then 

is an awkward waddle, or it proceeds in a series drop, sometimes in the water before regaining 

of hops. I have also seen them push themselves their equilibrium, when they are among the most 

along by means of their feet. Before launching graceful of sea-birds." T. Gilbert Pearson. 



GANNETS 

Order Steganopodcs; family Siilidcs 




IHE Gannets constitute the family Sulidar, and comprise the birds of that name 
(also called "Solan" Geese, "solan" being apparently from a Scandinavian 
term meaning "sea") and the Boobies. " Gannet " is thought to be derived 
from the Old English gan, meaning " gander " or "goose-like." There are 
eleven species in the family, and of these one is essentially a northern bird and 
migratory, while the others range along the tropical and subtropical coasts 
of the world. All are strictly sea birds, but they prefer the coastal w^aters and 
are not found at any considerable distance from land except when they are 
migrating. On the wing they move rapidly, alternating vigorous wing work 
with periods of sailing. They feed almost exclusively on fish, which they 
capture by diving from the wing, often from a height of forty feet or more, 



and with such force that they disappear entirely beneath the surface, their impact being 
sufficient sometimes to send the spray ten feet into the air. This constitutes one of the 
most picturesque and vigorous feats performed by any sea bird. Fish of considerable size 
are swallow^ed practically whole (which is made possible by a throat which can be greatly 
distended), and are disgorged for the young. All members of the family are highly gregarious, 
and nest in large colonies on uninhabited coasts or isolated islands. The bird builds a rude 
nest composed of seaweeds and grass and lays one or two eggs, chalky-white or dull white in 
hue. 

The Gannets are comparatively large birds, their length being from about two to three 
feet. Their wings are relatively long, and acutely pointed, while the tail is wedge-shaped 
and consists of from twelve to eighteen feathers. Their legs are short and stout and placed 
nearly at the center of the body. The feet are completely webbed. The neck is rather long, 
and the head large. The bill is strong, cylindrical, and tapers to a point where it is slightly 
curved, though never actually bent into hook form. The plumage is compact and its char- 
acteristic coloration is white on the body with black or dusky wings and tail, though some 
species are sooty-brown or dusky. 



BOOBY 

Sula leucogastra ( Boddacrt) 

A. O. U. Xuinher i 1 5 



Other Names.— Brown Booby ; Yellow-footed Booby ; 
Catesby's Booby ; Booby Gannet. 

General Description.— Length, 30 inches. Color 
above, dark brown ; below, white. 

Color. — Adults: Plumage, dark brown, abruptly 
white from neck on under parts; bill and bare parts 
of head, variably colored, mostly dull greenish or yel- 
lowish; feet, similar; iris, white. Young: Plumage, 
grayish-brown, paler below variegated with white on 
under parts from neck ; bill and feet, obscured. 



Nest and Eggs. — Nest: On low bushes of tropical 
keys ; constructed of sticks and weeds ; in some local- 
ities eggs deposited on bare sand or rocks, without any 
attempt at nest building. Eggs : i or 2. dull chalky 
white. 

Distribution. — Atlantic coasts of tropical America 
and Pacific and Indian oceans ; rare on south Atlantic 
and Gulf coasts of the United States from South 
Carolina to Louisiana ; accidental on Long Island, 
N. Y., and in Massachusetts. 



Courtesy of thi- New York Stat-.- Muse 

r ■ ■■'— 



Plate 9 




4^(11'! C'cafr y^ue^t 



AlMiiN >.RMORANT /V,,,/,,.-, ...,„„.,■ nirl... (I.innarasl 



ADUlT !■, DifEEOr.G Cl.UMAl.E 



IMMATURE 



DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT VUatnerocorax aiirilns aurtiux (l.i-ssolO 

ADULT IN BREEDING PLUMAGE , . ^ IMMATURE 

GANNET ^"Id hassiitia (I.innacus' 

ADULT IMMATURE 

Ml t ii:ll. sizt' 



i .^^ ..■;? /^'^ C«« /• 



GANNETS 



91 



The Booby is a common bird in the West 
Indies and on the coasts of tropical lands to the 
south. While on ship-board in the F'acific Ocean 
otT the coast of Panama and Nicarat,>"ua I 
observed these birds in sight at all hours of the 
day. Their flight is strong and easy, and the 
flapping is alternated with brief intervals of sail- 
ing. At times they would wheel on set wings 
and plunge headlong into the sea. Their food 
consists of marine animal life, fish evidently con- 
stituting the bulk of their menu, as the birds 
were usually more numerous in the neighbor- 
hood of schools of porpoises. On three occasions 
I saw Boobies standing on the backs of basking 
sea-turtles, one of which seemed not at all dis- 
turbed by the weight of two birds that were 
taking a rest on his broad caraj^ace. 

Boobies collect in numbers to nest on lonely 
isles. In Camps and Cruises of an Ornitholoijist, 
Doctor Chapman has written of the habits of a 
colony of fifteen hundred pairs of Boobies which 
he visited and studied in the spring of 1907. The 
place was a small island known as Cay Verde, 
lying on the outer fringe of the Bahama Islands. 
The nests were simple affairs placed on the 
ground. Two eggs are laid about a week ajiart, 
but for some reason rarely more than one young 
bird is reared. Of their domestic habits he 
writes : 

" In spite of the apparent sociability expressed 
by their communal habits, the Boobies immedi- 



ately resented the trespass on their home site by 
one of their own kind. \\'here the nature of the 
ground permitted, their nests were placed with 
more or less regularity six or eight feet from one 
another. As long as a bird remained within its 
own domain having a diameter of approximately 
six or eight feet, it was not molested, but let it or 
its young advance beyond these limits and they 
were promptly attacked. 

" So closely, however, are the birds confined to 
their own little areas that difficulties of this kind 
are rare and under normal conditions peace 
reigns in the rookery. But when we walked 
through the rookery, the birds in escaping from 
the larger evil forgot the lesser one and inad- 
vertently backed on to a neighbor's territorv. the 
unusual cause of the trespass was not accepted 
as an excuse and they found the ' frying pan ' 
was worse than the ' fire,' as the enraged owner, 
with bustling feathers, furiously assailed them 
with open bill, sometimes taking hold. At these 
times, and whene\er the birds were alarmed, 
they gave utterance to hoarse, rancorous screams 
or screeches, though, as a rule, they were com- 
[laratively silent," 

In summer Boobies occasionally range up the 
Atlantic coast as far as Georgia, but such visits 
are rare, for they are distinctly birds of tropical 
and subtropical seas. Unlike the Albatross and 
Petrel, they are seldom seen far from land. 
T. Gilbert Pe.arson. 



Other Names. — Common Gannet 
Soland Goose : Solan Goose : .Solon Goose ; Jan van 
Gent ; Grand Fou. 

General Description. — Length, 3 feet. Prevailing 
color, white. Uuosc-sliaf'cd. 

Color. — Adults: Plumage, zvhitc; primaries and 
their coverts, black; head with a pale wash of amber- 
yellow ; bill, grayish tinged with greenish or blin'sh ; 
lores and throat sac, black; feet, black with greenish 
or bluish scales ; iris, white or pale yellow. Young : 
Plumage, dark brown with a tinge of olive, spotted or 
streaked everywhere with white ; on head and neck the 
spots tending to form streaks, on back and wing-coverts, 
triangular, usually one on end of each feather; ]iriniaries 



GANNET 
Sula bassana [Linnwus) 

\. O. U. Xumlter 117 See Color ['late 9 

White Gannet; and tail, dusky. 



Intermediates between these two 
plumages are common, as it requires three years to 
reach perfect plumage. 

Nest and Eggs. — Ne.st: On precipitous cliffs over- 
looking the sea ; constructed principally of seaweed. 
Eggs: Single, pale greenish-blue, flaked with chalky- 
white. 

Distribution. — Coasts of North Atlantic; breeds on 
riird Rock and Bonaventure Island in the Gulf of St. 
Lawrence and on islands ofif British Isles ; winters from 
North Carolina coast south to Gulf of Mexico, and on 
coasts of north .-Xfrica, Madeira, and the Canaries; 
occurs ofT eastern United .States in migration ; casual 
north to Greenland; accidental in liuliana and Ontario. 



The Gannet is the largest bird of our north its heavy body and muscular neck would make it 

Atlantic coast. It is about three feet from tip a formidable antagonist, if it were pugilistic in its 

of bill to end of tail. It is four feet and more disposition. It is a white bird with black-tipped 

between the tips of its outstretched wings, and wings and its color renders it a conspicuous 



92 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



object as it flies about over the dark waters of 
the winter sea. The Gannet likes the association 
of others of its kind, hence if you find one you 
are pretty sure to see others in the immediate 
neighborhood. They range all down the Atlantic 
coast to Florida, and it is not an uncommon sight 
to see small flocks almost anywhere off the shores 
of the eastern United States, disporting them- 
selves in the water just outside the breakers, or 
wheeling about in quest of fish. 

They fly usually at a height of from sixty to a 
hundred feet above the water. Dr. F. A. Lucas 
says : " The height at which the Gannet flies 



catch, and then rises in pursuit of other game." 
Gannets breed north of the United States. 
Bird Rock in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and 
Bass Rock at the Firth of Forth contain well- 
known breeding colonies of enormous numbers. 
The nests are usually built on ledges overlooking 
the sea. Where these are broad, the entire area 
is covered with nests, just enough space being 
left between them for the birds to come and go 
with comfort. Where the ledges are narrow 
and there is room only for a single row of nests, 
one will find nearly every brooding bird sitting 
with its tail pointed outward and its head in close 



/ 





Drawing by R. I. Brasher 



GANNET (J nat. size) 
Like an animated spear it plunges into the ocean after its prey of fish 



above the water is proportionate to the depth at 
which the fish are swimming beneath, and Cap- 
tain Collins tells me that when fish are swim- 
ming near the surface the Gannet flies verv low 
and darts obliquely instead 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 or 
spray shows where the winged fisher cleaves the 
water to transfix its prey. Disappearing for a 
few seconds, the bird reappears, rests for a 
moment on the water, long enough to swallow his 



proximity to the rocks. ( Jne egg is laid. It is 
covered with a calcareous deposit that can readily 
be scratched off. The young are hatched naked. 
The down, which appears in a few days, is of a 
yellowish hue. Immature birds have a peculiarly 
spotted ap])earance, as the brown feathers with 
which they are covered are each centered with a 
wedge-shaped dot of white. 

It is extremely rare that the Gannet is found 
inland, the ones which have been occasionally re- 
ported doubtless being individuals that had lost 
their way, or had been driven by storms from 
the ocean, on whose bosom they are so much at 
home. T. Gilbert Pearson. 



DARTERS 



95 



DARTERS 

Order Sic^aiiopodcs: family Avliitiglda- 




HE Darters (also called Anhingas and Snake-birds) comprise the family .4;//;/ng/- 
dcc. include four species, and are generally distributed throughout the tropic 
and semi-tropic regions of both hemispheres. They have an elongated body, 
covered with small feathers and soft down; a very long, slender, and snake- 
like neck; small, compressed head; and a slender, nearly straight, and very 
acutely pointed bill, nearly twice as long as the head, and like that of the Herons. 
In these respects (excepting the greater length and sinuosity of the neck, and 
the fact that the bill is not hooked, though it is somewhat serrated) they bear 
a general external resemblance to their nearest relatives, the Cormorants. 
The structure of the neck, however, is peculiar in that it is bent at the eighth 
or ninth vertebra, and is equipped with a singular muscular mechanism by 
means of which the bird may throw its bill forward with a rapier-like thrust, and impale 
its prey. 

Darters' wings are long and pointed, while the tail is somewhat long, and is rigid, broad 
and fan-shaped; it is composed of twelve feathers which widen toward the ends; the outer 
pair are ribbed in a singular manner. The feet are short, and the legs are placed rather far 
back on the bodies, but the birds perch readily and with apparent ease. They are not marine 
in their habits, and are not likely to be found near the seacoasts, their favorite habitats being 
dense swamps. Their flight is swift, and they dive with astonishing ease and quickness. 
By nature they are timid and watchful; when frightened they drop from their perch into 
the water, and vanish not only noiselessly, but without causing more than very slight ripples. 
Once under water they swim very swiftly. When they are alarmed while swimming on the 
surface, they disappear by sinking gently backward, after the manner of the Grebes. Fre- 
quently they swim with the body submerged but with the head and neck protruding in a 
manner which strongly suggests a water snake. 

These singular birds feed chiefly on fish, which they capture, not by diving, but mainly 
by a pursuit which is like that of the Loons and Grebes. They are gregarious and build, 
in brush near the water, rough nests in which they lay usually three or four eggs, of a pale 
bluish color and having a white chalk-like incrustation. 



WATER-TURKEY 

Anhinga anhinga ( Liniurus) 



.\. (1 r. Numljcr 118 



Other Names. — Anhinga; Darter; American Darter; 
Black Darter ; Black-bellied Darter ; White-bellied 
Darter (young); Snake-liird. 

General Description. — Length, 3 feet. Color, black. 

Color. — .\mi.T Male: Head, neck, and body, (/lossy 
grccnish-hlack : wings and tail, plain black, latter 
tipped with white ; wings with a broad silvery gray 
band formed by greater and middle coverts: lesser 
wing-coverts, spotted, and shoulders, stripeil with 
silvery-gray ; in breeding plumage, back of neck with 
a mane of long black feathers and a lateral series of 
hair-like brownish-white |ilunies ; bill, yellow, dusky- 
green on ridge and tip ; bare space around eye, livid- 
green ; sac, orange; feet, dusky-olive and yellow; webs. 



yellow; iris, from carmine to pink. .AnuLT Fem.^le: 
Throat and breast, light brown bordered behind with 
rich chestnut; feathers of back with brown edges and 
white centers ; /;(-(/(/ and neck, (jlazcd broivn varied with 
rufous, buff, and whitish. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : In swamps or bayous, on 
small trees or bushes over water; constructed of sticks, 
leaves, dry grass, roots, and moss. Eggs ; 2 to 5. 
bluish or dark greenish-white overlaid with white chalky 
incrustation. 

Distribution. — Tropical America north to western 
Me.xico, Texas. Florida, southern Illinois and North 
Carolina ; casual in Kansas ; accidental in New Mexico 
and .'Xrizona. 



94 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



The Water-Turkey is no more a " Turkey '' 
than the Nighthawk is a " Hawk," yet this is the 
name by which the American Darter is almost 
universally known to the people of the southern 
States where it is found. Of late years ornithol- 
ogists have adopted the name, dropping the word 
"Anhinga," which was formerly used. This 
species haunts the shores of tree-fringed lakes 
and rivers, as well as the wider stretches of lakes 
and sloughs, if bushes or trees are here con- 
venient upon which it can perch. It is a long- 
necked, long-tailed, and short-legged bird about 
three feet in length. The general color of the 
male is a glossy black. The female has the 
entire head, neck, and breast grayish-brown. 
They are silent birds and live mainly in the 



out with only its slender head and beak exposed. 
Often it swims with body out of sight and with 
its long neck protruding in a most eerie and 
snake-like fashion. 




Drawing by R. I. Brasher 

WATER-TURKEY (J nat. size) 
A bird of haunting mystery 

silent places of the wilderness. Their whole life 
seems to be pervaded with a haunting mystery. 
It is undoubtedly the bird to which the rural 
preacher referred when he said, " Where the 
Whangdoodle mourneth for its first-born." 

When you come upon one sitting on some limb 
deep in the swamp it will at times fly swiftly out 
of sight, only to return again and again, each time 
higher in the air until, having attained an altitude 
of several hundred feet, it will circle about ap- 
parently on motionless wings like a Hawk. 
Again, and especially if it does not suspect itself 
seen, it will drop from the perch into the water 
beneath with only the faintest splash, and after 
swimming to a safe distance will cautiously peer 




Photo by T. H. Jacksi>n Courtesy of Nat. Asso. Aud. Soc. 

NEST OF WATER-TURKEY 

Orange Lake rookery, Florida 

The Water-Turkey's food consists mainly of 
fish which it captures as it swims beneath the 
surface. When emerging from the water it 
often ascends some sloping log or bush with low 




Courttsy u£ Nat. Asso. Aud. Soc. 
FEMALE WATER-TURKEY 
At Orange Lake rookery, Florida 

hanging limbs. The toes of its stout webbed 
feet terminate in sharp claws which enable it to 
climb with ease. Here, with wings spread, it will 
remain for a time drying its feathers in the sun- 
shine. 



CORMORANTS 



95 



They assemble in number.'^, sometimes several 
dozen pairs together, for the business of nest 
building. Often they breed in colonies with 
Herons and Ibises, but not always; for I have 
found as many as twenty-five nests at a time, all 
clustered about in a dozen trees, and no other 
water birds near. The nest is a bulky afJair of 
sticks and often some of the long gray Spanish 
moss is used. All the nests I have ever examined 



also contained freshly plucked leaves, which 
appeared to have been placed as a finishing touch 
just before the eggs were laid. 

They inhabit the low countries, breeding in 
the coastal regions as far north as North Caro- 
lina and up the Mississippi valley to southern 
Illinois. They are fresh-water birds and rarely 
appear where the sea-water runs. 

T. Gilbert Pe.xkson. 



CORMORANTS 

Order Steganopodcs ; family Phalacrocoracidcc 




HE Cormorants comprise two genera, the Plialacrocorax, embracing the true Cor- 
morants, or " Shags " as they are frequently called, and including about thirty 
species, and the monotypic Naiuioptenim, with Harris's Cormorant, the 
flightless and rare bird of the Galapagos Islands, as its single representative. 
This bird is very large and uses its wings only as fins in swimming. 

Of the true Cormorants, about ten species occur in North America. They 
are chiefl-y maritime in their habitats, though some species are often found in 
fresh water far inland. They are disposed to be decidedly gregarious at all 
seasons, and during the breeding period they assemble in large colonies on 
ledges or rocky islands along the seacoast. When migrating they fly at a con- 
siderable altitude, but ordinarily they do not rise far above the water. They 



dive readily in pursuit of fish, but always from the surt'ace or a low perch, and not from the 
air. 

The superficial physical peculiarities of the Cormorants include a bare, expansible 
membrane under the lower mandible; a compressed bill of which the upper half is strongly 
hooked; nostrils which apparently in the adult do not admit air, the birds breathing through 
the mouth ; and the claw of the middle toe armed with a comb-like process used in preening 
the plumage. The stiff and rounded tail of twelve to fourteen feathers is employed to assist 
the bird in walking and climbing. The birds are usually from two to three feet long, and 
the body is elongated and powert'ully muscled. The neck is rather long and the legs are short 
and stout, and set far back. The wings are comparatively short, extending but slightly 
beyond the base of the tail. The plumage is very dense, and is generally dark in color, with 
greenish and bluish sheens. Frequently the head is crested, and during the breeding season 
may be further ornamented by plumes of slight feathers of hair-like structure. 

That Cormorants can dive to a great depth is indicated by the record of one caught 
off the coast of England in a crab-pot 120 feet below the surface. They feed entirely on 
fishes, which they pursue and capture under water where they use both their feet and wings 
in swimming. If the fish captured has been seized in a position which makes swallowing it 
inconvenient, it is tossed into the air and caught again in a way which simplifies the swallow- 
ing operation. This diet gives the Cormorants' flesh a strongly fishy flavor, though this is 
less pronounced in the young birds and these are sometimes eaten. 

Cormorants build rough nests, composed mostly of seaweeds, and placed usually on the 
ground, though sometimes in low bushes. The eggs are from three to five, of a greenish 
blue tinge, and covered with a crust of lime-like matter. The young are hatched naked 
but are soon covered with a black down. They feed by thrusting their heads down the 
throats of the parents and extracting the partly digested fish therefrom. 
Vol. 1—8 



96 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



CORMORANT 
Phalacrocorax carbo (Linnccus) 

See Color Plate 9 



A. O. U. N'umber 119 

Other Names. — Common Cormorant ; Shag. 

General Description. — Length, 3 feet. Prevailing 
color, black. Throat sac, heart-shaped behind. 

Color. — Adults in Breeding Plumage: General 
color, glossy olive-black : feathers of back and wing- 
coverts, bronze-gray, sharply edged with black; pri- 
maries, secondaries, and tail, more grayish-black ; a con- 
spicuous white patch on flank ; numerous long white 
plumes on head and neck ; a black crown crest about 
I inch long; bill, dusky; bare skin around eyes, livid 
greenish ; throat sac, yellow, bordered behind by a band 
of white feathers; feet, black; iris, green. Adults in 
Winter: No crest or white feathers on head and rump. 
Young: Top of head and hindneck, brownish-black; 
back and wing-coverts, grayish-brown, the feathers 
with dark margins, some edged with white; throat, 
brownish-white; wider farts, zehitish, dusky on sides 
and across lower abdomen ; bill, grayish-brown, black on 
ridge and tip : bare skin of face and sac, yellow. 

Nest and Eggs. — Xest : On the ground, among 
rocks; constructed of sticks, moss, seaweed, and kelp. 
Eggs : 3 to 4, bluish-green coated with a white chalky 
substance. 

Distribution. — Northern hemisphere ; breeds from 
central Greenland south to Nova Scotia, and east 
through Europe and Asia to Kamchatka ; winters from 



southern Greenland to Long Island, N. Y., rarely to 
Lake Ontario and South Carolina, and from the Medi- 
terranean south to southern Africa, Australia, and 
Malay Peninsula. 




Cuiirtisy Nat. Asso. Aud. Soc. 
NEST AND EGGS OF CORMORANT 



The Cormorant is found generally throiigh- 
ont almost all of the northern hemisphere. 
From its hreeding grounds in Labrador and 




Drawing by R. I. Brasher 

CORMORANT (,';. nat. size) 
A bird of strange appearance and interesting habits 

Greenland it strays southward in summer, and 
occurs on the Atlantic coast in winter. It is 
seen occasionally on inland waters, but such 
visits probably are purely accidental, as its 



normal habitats are the scacoast and the mouths 
of large rivers. 

It lives almost entirely upon fish, which it 
captures under water by swimming with both 
wings and feet, sometimes at a considerable 
depth. In these operations it is very skillful and 
swift, while its powerful hooked bill forms an 
effective weapon for seizing and devouring its 
prey. The young are fed by regurgitation, dur- 
ing which the infant thrusts its bill far down the 
throat of the parent. 




L'otirto^y of Nat. Asso. Aud. Soc- 

YOONG CORMORANTS 

They are naked when hatched, and do not leave the nest for 
about a month 



CORMORANTS 



97 



DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT 

Phalacrocorax auritus auritus { Lesson j 

A. U. IJ. Xuniljcr wo See ( olur I'iiiU- y 



Other Names. — Crow Duck; Sha;,' ; Watc-r-'rurkcy ; 
Lauytr; X'isKf' (><)(>sc. 

General Description. — Lenglli, 33 inches. I'rcvail- 
mg color, grccniili-black. '1 liroat sac, convex behind. 

Color. — ."Xdults in Sum.mkr; Glossy greenish- 
black ; feathers of back and wings, coppery-gray with 
narrow distinct black edges and black-shafted; two 
curly black crests on head; no zi'hitc flank patches or 
zvhitc feathers behind throat sac: throat sac and lores, 
orange ; bill, dusky ; feet, black ; iris, green ; eyelids, blue. 
.■\dults in Wi.vter : No crests; eyelids, not blue; bill, 
yellow, dusky on ridge ; gular sac, red in front, yellow 



ocher behind. Y(n;N(; : Plain <Iark tirown ; grayish or 
whitish below. 

Nest and Eggs.— Nest: On the ground ; constructed 
of Iwigs aiid weeds; sometimes on ledges of sea islanils 
where built of fresh seaweed and kelp. H(;(;s : j to 4, 
Ijluish-green with white chalky incrustation. 

Distribution. — Eastern North America ; breeds from 
central .Saskatchewan, southern Keewatin, northeastern 
Quebec and Newfoundland south to northern Utah, 
South Dakota, .southern Minnesota, and Penobscot P.ay, 
Maine. Winters from North Carolina (casually Massa- 
chusetts) south to the Gulf coast; casual in Bermuda. 



Cormorants arc found in siiilahle ]/l;irc-s all 
over North .America, i'hcy are wonderful divers 
and .secure their [jrey wliile on tlieir submarine 
excursions. They are very common on the coast 
and may easily be seen at many places, as, for 
example, on the Seal Rocks near the Cliff House 
at San I'Vancisco, on Black 1 lorse Island off the 
coast of .Maine, and on almost every buoy and 
channel-stake aljoui tlic Iiarbors of hlorida. (.)n 
rocky coasts their nests are built on cliffs over- 
looking the sea, as on the Farallon Islands, Cali- 
fornia, and the Three Arch Rock Islands of 
Oregon. In the interior the nests are often built 
on the ground or on the rushes in the islands of 
lakes. In the swamps of the South, cypress trees 
are used, and along the Gulf coast of i'lorida 
large numbers breed on the low mangrove trees 
that cover the Keys. 

Some years ago I visited a typical colony of 
these birds in Big Lake, in eastern North Caro- 
lina. Low-spreading cyjjress trees, their tops 
reaching, as a rule, not more than fifteen feet 
above the water, were the sites chosen for the 
nests. Eighteen trees scattered along the swampy 
shore for a mile and a half were thus occujiied. 
A few trees contained but a single nest. Some 
were occupied by two, while in others six, eight, 
ten, and even twelve nests were noted. One tree 
contained thirty-ciglit, all of which cf)nlained 
either eggs or young. The number of occu[)ants 
of a nest was in all cases either two or three. 



' )ne luuidrcd ;ind fifty inhabile*! nests were 
counted in the community. 

The eggs were pale blui^h-white overlaid with 
a chalky coating and were about two and one- 
half inches long. When first hatched the young 
are naked and look like little, animated, greas)- 
rubber bags. In a few days they assume a thick 
growth of black down. 

The food of these birds must have consisted 
largely of eels, for in nearly every nest signs of 
eels were found, and the young upon becoming 
e.xcited disgorged fragments of eels which 
showered down upon us as we attempted to climb 
the trees. 

The Cormorants have many local names, such 
as " Shag," " Lawyer," and " Nigger Goose." 

fhere are several subspecies of the Double- 
crested Cormorant. These are : the Morida Cor- 
morant (Phalacrocorax auritus floridanus) of 
North Carolina, Florida, and the Gulf coast; the 
White-crested Cormorant ( Phalacrocorax auritus 
cincinatus) of .Maska : and the l'"arallon Cor- 
morant {Phalacrocorax auritus albociliatiis) of 
the coast and inland lakes of the Pacific slope. 

Market fishermen everywhere com])lain of the 
inroads these birds make on the food fishes of 
the sea, but a recent investigation carried out by 
the Canadian Government jjroved beyond doubt 
that the destruction wrought by Cormorants in 
the Gulf of St. Lawrence has been overrated 
greatly. T. Gilbf.kt I'i:.\kso.\. 




[98] 



CURMOR.-\NTS 



99 



BRANDT'S CORMORANT 

Phalacrocorax penicillatus i Urainlt) 

\ () r Xumtit-r :_•_■ 



Other Names. — Penciled Cormorant: Tui'ted Cor- 
morant; 'Pownscnd's Cormorant; Sliag ; Brown Cor- 
morant. 

General Description. — Length, ;};} inches. Prevail- 
ing color, blackish. Throat sac. heart-shaped behind: 
head, not crested: bill, slender and nearly straight; tail, 
short. 

Color. — .Adults in Breeding Plu.m.m.e: General 
color, deep glossy greenish-black with violet or steel- 
blue reflections on neck and head; feathers of middle 
of back, plain, those of shoulders and wing-coverts with 
narrow black edgings; a series of yellow straight fila- 
mentous plumes two inches or more in length along 



each side of neck; many others longer and somewhat 
webbed on shoulders; throat sac. dark blue: a border 
of mouse-brown feathers behind gular sac; bill, dusky; 
feet, black; iris, green. Adults in Winter: Plumes, 
absent. Young: Plain blackish-brown, more rusty 
below; abdomen grayish; shoulders and wing-coverts, 
paler-edged. 

Nest and Eggs.— Xest : On ledges of rock islands; 
a compact structure of eel grass or seaweed, cemented 
with guano. Eggs : 3 to 5, light greenish-blue, with 
the usual chalky deposit. 

Distribution. — Pacific coast, from Vancouver Island 
to Cape San Lucas. 



Brandt's Cormorant is abundant on the I\acific 
coast. Its general demeanor, as it perches on 
rocks or snags, suggests that it is a rather dull 
and sluggish bird, but in reality it is verv sus- 
picious and wary, and this state of mind is shown 
plainly by its manner when it is in the water. 
Then its long neck is stretched to its fullest 
length, and its head is constantly turning from 
side to side, as if it feared the approach of an 
enemy from any direction. 

The Cormorant dives readily and skillfully, 
and uses both its wings and its feet in making 



headwa}- under water. In fact it seems quite as 
much at home in the water as a Duck, and yet, for 
some altogether mysterious reason, it has the 
very unducklike habit of perching in the sun- 
shine, with wings si)read, and evidently waiting 
for its plumage to dry. The Northern Raven and 
the Western Gull seem to have a special weak- 
ness for the eggs of the Cormorant, of which 
fact apparently it is very well aware; for, when 
the Ravens or Culls are about, the Cormorant 
that is incubating will not leave the eggs until its 
mate is at hand to take its place immediately. 







Photo by W. L. Finley and H. T. Bohlman 

BRANDT'S CORMORANT AT NEST 



PELICANS 



lOI 



PELICANS 

Order Stcgcuiopodcs; family Pclccanidcs 




WELVE species of these singularly grotesque but interesting birds are recog- 
nized, and they occur generally throughout the temperate and tropical regions 
of both hemispheres, three of them being North American. They are birds 
of considerable size, their bodies varying in length from fifty to seventy inches, 
while some have a wing expanse of nearly ten feet. 

The distinctive feature of the Pelican is the great pouch which depends 
from its lower bill. As the bird's bill may be eighteen inches long, it will be 
realized that the capacity of this pouch, six inches or more in depth, is very 
considerable. Some of the species use this pouch very much as a scoop net 
is employed, and all of them store in it fish which they take to their young. 
Most of the bird's prey is captured in this manner, though some is taken by 
diving. Another physical peculiarity is the excrescence which develops at about the middle 
of the upper mandible during the breeding season. What, if any, purpose it serves is not 
known. It is shed coincidently with the fall molt. 

The Pelican on land is very ungainly, its uncouth appearance being due in part to the 
awkward kink in its neck, which produces the impression of great discomfort. In point of 
fact, however, this position is due to the singular articulation of the eighth or ninth vertebra 
with the one on either side, so that it is really impossible for the bird to straighten its neck. 
The Pelican's flight is a combination of flapping and sailing, and though not rapid is steady 
and confident. A long line of these birds, flapping and sailing alternately, and often in 
nearly perfect unison, is an interesting spectacle. 

These birds are decidedly gregarious and often breed in very large colonies. They 
build on the ground large nests composed of sticks. The eggs are from two to five in number 
and are bluish-white in color. 



WHITE PELICAN 
Pelecanus erythrorhynchos Ginelm 



A. O, U. Number 1^5 



Other Names. — American White Pelican; Common 
Pelican (of the .\orth). 

General Description. — Length. 5 feet; spread of 
wings, 9 feet. General color, white. Bill with pouch 
hanging from under side. 

Color. — Adults: Plumage, ivhitc with black t>riiiia- 
rics : lengthened feathers of back of head, breast, and 
some of the lesser wing-coverts, pale straw-yellow : 
bill and feet, yellow tinged with reddish ; lower part of 
bill, brighter than upper, which has the ridge whitish ; 
pouch shading from whitish in front through yellow 
and orange to red at base ; bare skin around eye, 
orange ; eyelids, red ; iris, pearly-white. Young: Lesser 
wing-coverts and some feathers on head, grayish ; 



Ijill and feet, dull yellowish ; otherwise as in adults. 

Nest and Eggs. — \est : On the ground ; con- 
structed by the bird scraping the sandy soil into a heap 
about half a foot high and erectin.g a shallow platform 
nf sticks and weeds on this base. Eggs: 2, dull chalky- 
white with a chalky incrustation. 

Distribution. — Temperate North .America ; breeds 
from southern British Columbia, Great Slave Lake, and 
southwestern Keewatin to Manitoba. North Dakota 
(formerly southern Minnesota and South Dakota). 
LTtah. and southern California; winters from southern 
California to Gulf States, Florida, and Cuba south to 
western Mexico and Costa Rica; casual in migration 
cast to .Atlantic coast, north to Xcw Brunswick. 



Tlie ."Xmerican White Pelican wn.s formerly 
found in the Kast as well as in the West, but the 
range of the bird has contracted until it is rarely 
seen on the ."Xtlantic coast. The bird formerly 



nested in Minnesota, but the most eastern nest- 
ing site to-day witliin the United States is in 
North Dakota. A bird so conspicuous in size 
and color, and one that nests on the grntind, can 



I02 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



never rear its young free from the disturbances 
of predacious animals and man unless it can find 
a remote island upon which to breed. The natural 
home of the bird is on some sandy or tule island, 
where a large number of them nest together. 
This showy bird would soon have been extinct 
had it not been for the efforts of the National 
Association of Audubon Societies in seeking out 
the ancestral breeding places and having them 
set aside as Federal wild-bird reservations. The 
largest colonies of White Pelicans in the United 
States are found on Malheur Lake. Klamath 
Lake, and Clear Lake reservations in southern 
Oregon and northern California. 

Through the western part of the United States, 
the Pelican season begins in April after the snow 
and ice have melted and lasts till August or 
September, when the young are able to care for 
themselves. Sometimes one will find eggs just 
hatching from May up to July. The Pelican 
generally lays two or three eggs and incubates 
about four weeks before they hatch. 

The Pelican has a large skinny bag that hangs 
from the lower part of his bill. This, when dis- 
tended, holds several quarts of water. When not 
in use, this sack is contracted so it occupies very 
little space. The White Pelican uses this as a 
dip-net by swimming along and scooping up the 
young fry. It was formerly thou.ght that this 
pouch served to convey live fish swimming in 
water to the little Pelicans at home, but, as 
Audubon remarked long ago, it is doubtful 



whether a Pelican could fly at all with his Inirden 
so out of trim. 

The first time I ever saw a motley crowd of 
half-grown Pelicans, I thought Nature had surely 
done her best to make something ugly and ridicu- 
lous. It was a warm day and the birds stood 
around with their mouths open, panting like a lot 
of dogs after a chase, their pouches shaking at 
every breath. When I went near, the youngsters 
went tottering off on their big webbed feet with 
wings dragging on this side and that, like poorly 
handled crutches. The }(jungsters huddled to- 
gether by hundreds in a small place. Those on 
the outside pushed and climbed to get near the 
center, till it looked worse than any football 
scrimmage I ever saw. 

One might wonder how such a huge-billed 
bird as a Pelican could feed helpless chicks just 
out of the egg. It was done with apparent ease. 
The old bird regurgitated a fishy soup into the 
front end of his pouch and the baby Pelican 
])itched right in and helped himself out of this 
family dish. 

As the young bird grew older and larger, at 
each meal he kept reaching farther into the 
big pouch of his parent until finally, when he 
was half-grown, it was a most remarkable sight. 
The mother opened her mouth and the whole 
head and neck of her nestling disappeared down 
the capacious maw, while he hunted for his 
dinner in the internal regions. 

William L. Finlev. 




Photo by W. L. Sti.'\x:.. C iurtrsy of i'tdd and Stream 

YOUNG PELICANS 




"Ml 



I04 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



BROWN PELICAN 

Pelecanus occidentalis Linncriis 



A. O. U. Xumber 12b 



Other Name. — Common Pelican (of Florida). 

General Description. — Length, 4J/2 feet; spread of 
wings. 6'2 feet. General color, brown, darker above. 
Bill with pouch hanging from under side. 

Color. — Adults: Head, white tinged with yellow 
on crown, the white extending down neck in a narrow 
border on side of pouch; rest of neck, dark chestnut; 
upper parts, dusky brozcn, each feather whitish-cen- 
tered ; wing-coverts, pale gray with white streaks ; 
primaries, black; secondaries, dark brown with pale 
edges ; tail-feathers, gray ; under parts, grayish-brown 
striped with white on sides and flanks ; lower fore- 
neck, variegated with ocher, chestnut, and black ; bill, 
mottled with light gray and dusky, tinged in spots with 
carmine; bare space around eyes, blue; iris, white; 



eyelids, red ; pouch, blackish ; feet, black. In winter 
most of the neck is white. Young; Neck, plain 
brownish ; other plumage similar but less intense than 
in adults. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: In rookeries, on shores or 
marshy islands, usually on the ground or sometimes in 
low mangrove bushes ; constructed of sticks, coarse 
grass, and weed stalks and lined with finer grasses. 
Eggs : 2 or 3, chalky-white. 

Distribution. — Gulf coast of United States and 
Atlantic coast of Central and South America; breeds 
from Florida and Louisiana south to Brazil; rare in 
North Carolina ; accidental in Wyoming, Nebraska, 
Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Nova 
Scotia. 



The Brown Pelican is an interesting southern 
and tropical bird, great of bulk, powerful in 
flight, and withal a mightly fisher. It is ntimer- 
ous on our Atlantic coast from South Carolina 
to Texas, where it breeds on various isolated 
islands. Fishermen dislike it because the pouch- 
net which it carries under its great beak is large, 
and its appetite for fish in proportion. But, con- 
sidering that man's nets are so much vaster, and 
that two or three men kill more fish in one day 



than can thousands of Pelicans, surely there are 
fish enough in the ocean that we shotild not be- 
grudge the lives of these interesting and spectac- 
ular birds. It is not Pelicans that will ever 
exterminate any species of fish, but only avari- 
cious man, who all too often petrifies his soul and 
artistic sense through inordinate greed of hoard- 
ing. The poor Pelican never hoards, bttt only 
satisfies the stern behest of hunger. 

The sight of the advancing wedge or line of 




Photograph by H. K- Job 



Courtesy ot National Association of Audubon bucieties 
BROWN PELICANS 
On East Timbalier Reservation. Louisiana 




I 105 I 



io6 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



great Pelicans, with their heavy flappings and 
intervals of soaring, is impressive, as is the amaz- 
ing headlong plunge into the sea after fish. Mirth- 
provoking is the sequel sometimes witnessed. The 
smaller Laughing Gull follows the great Pelican 
and hovers above the spot where it plunges. The 
Pelican soon emerges, holding the fish, which it 
has seized, in its bill. The fish, perchance, must 
be turned, and the mouthful of sea-water ejected. 
While the Pelican is arranging matters, the Gull 
alights on the great beak, leaning over to watch. 
No sooner is the bill opened than the sly Gull 
reaches in, seizes the fish, and flies away, we may 
well imagine laughing. The solemn old Pelican 
sits there blinking, too much astonished at first 
to move. Finally the dread truth seems to dawn 
on the dull mind. \\'ith a few disgusted flaps, 
away it goes in pursuit of another fish. 

On some islands the Brown Pelican breeds 
on the mangrove trees, constructing quite a bulky 
nest of sticks. On others, which often are mere 
low sand-bars, the nest is a mere hollow in the 
sand, only slightly lined. Two or three large 
coarse-shelled white eggs are laid. On the trees 
they are comparatively safe, but on the ground 
storms and floods often wash them away and 
break up the nesting. The birds do not attempt 
to rescue eggs, when these are drifted together 
in windrows at high-water marks, but sit of? on 



the water and solemnly ponder. Usually, irt 
time, they will lay again. 

Pelican Island, in Indian River, Fla., is the 
best-known breeding colony, the first such to be 
made a government reservation. Formerly there 
were mangrove trees, but these have died off, 
and the thousands of Pelicans nest on the ground. 
Now and then a storm floods the island and de- 
stroys all eggs and young. It is remarkable that 
in this protected colony the birds each year have 
nested earlier and earlier, until now laying is 
begun in November, though on the west coast of 
Florida the eggs are not laid until April and May. 

On June 21, 191 5, I visited a great colony of 
ten or twelve thousand breeding on East Tim- 
balier Island, on the west coast of Louisiana, 
this also being a government reservation. Though 
it was so late in the season, the Pelicans had 
just laid their eggs; not one had yet hatched. 
The nests were all on the sand of the low island. 
Their lateness may have been due to robbery or 
disaster elsewhere earlier in the season. At any 
rate, it made them too late to mature the young 
before a terrible tropical hurricane visited the 
coast in August, and every one of the thousands 
of young birds on the islands perished. 

Surely the birds have enough to contend with 
without having man as an enemy ! 

Herbert K. Job. 



MAN-O'-WAR-BIRDS 

Order Stcganopodcs ; family Fregatidcc 

HE Man-o'-war-birds, or Frigate Birds, as they are often called, include two 
species constituting the family Fregatidcc. The larger (Frcgala aqitila) occurs in 
subtropical and tropical seas of both hemispheres, mainly north of the equator, 
and visits more or less regularly the coasts of California, Texas, and Florida, 
wandering northward occasionally as far as Nova Scotia. The other forms 
appear in the central Pacific and Indian oceans, and further south. 

In general the Man-o'-war-birds' plumage is uniformly blackish in the adult 
males, while the females have the upper parts blackish and the sides and lower 
parts white. Other characteristic physical peculiarities are the unusually long 
and stoutly hooked bill, the very short shank, the serrated claw of the middle 
toe, the narrow web between the toes, and the pneumatic structure of the bones 
of the skeleton, which makes the body lighter than that of any other bird in proportion to 
the length of the wings, which are greatly elongated. The tail also is long and deeply forked 
like that of the Barn Swallow. 

Their most curious physical feature, however, is the pouch or air sac of the male, which 
lies along the throat and, when fully distended, extends forward as far as the end of the bill, 
and downward so as to obscure the breast. When completely inflated (which is accom- 
plished by means of tubes connected with the bronchi) it presents the appearance of a large, 
scarlet balloon. Doubtless this is a sexual manifestation, and plays a part in the courtship 




MAN-0'- WAR-BIRDS 



107 



demonstration analogous to the Peacock's display of his upper tail-coverts, the strutting 
of the Grouse, and so on. When the pouch is deflated it is invisible lieneath the plumage 
of the neck. 

Like the Skuas and Jaegers, the Alan-o'-war-birds are predator}- in their habits, and get 
a large part of their food by robbing the Gulls and Terns, pursuing them and forcing them 
to drop or disgorge their food, which the pursuer catches as it falls. In their flight they are 
probably the most graceful and dashing of all birds. They soar for hours at a time with no 
apparent effort, and frequently make astonishing aerial dives from very great heights. They 
build their nests, sometimes on the ground and sometimes in stunted bushes, of small, dead 
twigs, and lay usually one, sometimes two, white eggs about the size of those of a domestic 
hen. In their breeding habits they are decidedly gregarious, and groups of nests are often 
placed very close to one another, even when there is no necessity for such proximity. 



MAN-O'-WAR-BIRD 
Fregata aquila (Linnu-us) 

A. O. U. Xumber ij8 



Other Names. — Hurricane Bird; Frigate Bird; 
Rabihorcadn. 

General Description. — Length, about 40 inches. 
Plumage, brownish-black. 

Color. — Adui.t Male: Pluiiicit/c. hr<nc)iisli-hlacL' with 
green or purplish reflections on head and shoulders, 
where the feathers are long and lance-shaped ; below, 
plain : bill, various shades of whitish, flesh color, bluish, 
or blackish; bare space around eye, livid; sac, carmine 
to orange; iris, brown; feet, dusky. Adult Female: 
Less iridescent than male; feathers of back, less elon- 



gated ; back of neck, brown ; wing-coverts, mostly 
brown with darker centers and paler edges; fori-ncck, 
breast, and sides, furc ivhitc. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : Usually on low trees or 
bushes, sometimes on rocks ; extraordinarily sinall for 
the size of the bird, and flimsily constructed of a few 
dry twigs. Eggs: i to 3, plain white. 

Distribution. — Tropical and subtropical coasts; in 
America north to southern California, Te.xas, Louisi- 
ana, and Florida ; accidental in Kansas. Wisconsin, 
Iowa, Ohio, and Nova Scotia. 



The Man-o'-vvar-bird is a genuine feathered 
aeroiilane. if any bird is deserving of that dis- 
tinction. Without moving its wings, seemingly 
for hotirs at a time, it calmlv floats high in air, 
ascending in spirals, or drifting lazily along, 
directing its easy flight by changes of the angle of 
its " planes " so slight that any such effort is 
not apparent. In this respect, and perhaps in 
certain others, there is a resemblance to the Buz- 
zards, which, in flight and lack of industry, mani- 
fest the soporific influences of the tropics. It is 
distitictly a tropical bird, seldom being seen 
further north than along the coasts of Florida, 
the ( julf States, and southern California. 

Breeding is conducted mostly on tropical or 
subtropical islands, where crude nests of sticks 
are built on mangroves or low trees or bushes. 
in each of which one plain-white egg is laid. In 
the Bahamas large colonies of the birds nest, and 
eggs are usually seen in February. By late 
spring the period of nesting is over, and they 
forthwith appear in large numbers on our Flor- 



ida and Gulf coasts. They are not definitely 
known to breed in the United States, though I 
think it probable that they do so occasionally, as 
tliere are reports of this on islands otif the coast 
of Louisiana, and on an island near this group 
in June a member of our party picked up an egg, 
dropped on the sand, which clearly belonged to 
this species. 

This bird is very impressive by reason of its 
size and the enormous stretch of its long, narrow 
wings, measuring some seven and one-half feet 
across. When a great flock of thousands soar 
on motionless pinions, they appear like an aerial 
army of invasion. Yet after all they are slug- 
gish, lazy creatures. I have watched them go to 
roost at sundown in bushes or mangrove trees 
bv the shore, and seen them sleeping, with head 
under wings, when the sun was some hours 
aclimb. Of course, they eat, but somehow I have 
seldom seen them actually securing food. Occa- 
sionallv I have watched one snatch a fish or 
other marine creature from the surface of the 



io8 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



ocean, but usually they are seen lazily floatint; in 
space, or else on their roosts or flocking on the 
beach. 

On Bird Key, Dry Tortugas, off Florida, 
some hundreds of them stay in the Tern colony 
during the nesting season. \\^hile I was there 
they committed no depredations, but the warden 
says they attack the Terns as these are bringing 
fish for their young, compel them, through 
vicious swoops, to disgorge, and deftly catch the 



delicacy, usually before it reaches the water. 
Thousands of them, likewise, stay on Indian Key 
Reservation, Fla., near St. Petersburg, and won- 
derful soaring flights may be seen poised over 
the island. At close range their great hooked 
bills give them a rather fierce appearance, though 
of talons they have little to boast, their feet being 
weak and clumsy, fit only for perching. But 
their wings might well be the envy and despair 
of many another bird. Herbert K. Job. 





Drawing by R. I. Brasher 



MAN-O'-WAR-BIRD (| nat. size) 
A genuine feathered aeroplane 



o 
cl 










< Z 

UJ < 






ORDER OF LAMELLIROSTRAL SWIMMERS 




C)rder An seres 

"^l UT one family is included in this order; this, however, is divided into five 
subfamilies: Mergansers, River Ducks, Sea Ducks, Geese, and Swans. The 
general appearance and habits of this group are well known through their 
familiar representatives in barnyards and parks. There are about two hundred 
species scattered throughout all parts of the world ; about fifty occur in North 
America. Economically they are among the most important of all birds. 

The name given to the order is descriptive of the bill which is characteristic 
of all the members of the order except the Mergansers. This subfamily have 
round bills with saw-toothed edges, but the Ducks, Geese, and Swans have 
the bill flat and lamellate, or fitted along the edges with a series of flutings, 
with a membranous covering, and with a nail, or hard spot at the tip. Other 
characteristics of the LamcUirostral Swimmers are: tail generally short; wings moderately 
long; legs short and placed far apart, not so near the center of the body as in the Gulls and 
not so far back as in the Grebes; the knee joint buried in the general body covering and the 
thighs feathered nearly to the heel joint; toes four in number, hind toe free and elevated, 
front toes webbed; a peculiar waddling gait; neck usually long; plumage soft and dense, 
especially on the breast, with a copious covering of down. 

The nest is placed on the ground, or among rocks, or in the hollow of a tree or stump. 
The eggs are usually numerous, of an oval shape, and plain in color. The young are covered 
with down when hatched, and as soon as this natal down is dry they are able to leave the 
nest and follow the mother. 

There is a great variety of coloration among the birds of this order. With some species 
the female is the brighter, in others her dress is as plain as that of any Sparrow while the 
male is gaudily clad, and in other species there is no difference in coloration between the 
sexes. In some species the postnuptial molt of the male is not complete — an unusual 
proceeding in the bird world. This incomplete change is called the "eclipse plumage"; 
at this period these birds also lose their power of flight, because all the flight-feathers are 
shed at one and the same time. The eclipse plumage is worn only until the wing-feathers 
are regained, when it is shed and the distinctive male plumage again acquired. 




MERGANSERS 

Order Aiiscrcs ; family Auatida; : subfamily Mcrgiucc 

HE Mergansers constitute a small group {Mergina:) of fish-eating Ducks often 
called Fishing Ducks, Sheldrakes, or Sawbills. They are characterized by 
comparatively long, narrow, cylindrical bills, whose saw-toothed edges enable 
the birds to seize and devour fish of considerable size. This diet imparts a 
rank favor to the flesh of the various species, except that of the Hooded Mer- 
ganser which evidently takes food enough of other kinds to counteract the 
efi^ect of the fish eaten. This species and the common Merganser are also 
peculiar in that they nest in hollow trees or on a ledge of a cliff. All of the 
species have more or less striking and beautiful plumage and both sexes are 
usually crested. There are nine recognized species of Mergansers, three of 
which range throughout North America and as far south as Cuba. 

[109I 



no 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



MERGANSER 
Mergus americanus Cassin 

A. O. V. \ui7il)er ug See Color Plate lo 



Other Names. — American Goosander; American 
Sheldrake; American Merganser; Greater Merganser; 
Pond Sheldrake ; Big Sheldrake ; Fresh-water Shel- 
drake ; Winter Sheldrake; Buff-breasted Sheldrake; 
Buff-breasted Merganser; Fishing Duck; Fish Duck; 
Saw-bill; Big Saw-bill; Break Horn; Dun Diver 
(female); l\Iorocco-head (female). 

General Description. — Length, 25 inches. Adult 
males have the head and upper parts greenish-black, 
while the females and immature have the head red and 
the upper parts gray; all have the under parts white. 
Bill, cylindrical. 

Color. — Adult M.\le: Head and upper part of 
neck, dark lustrous green ; upper parts, glossy black 
shading to ashy-gray on rump and tail, this color run- 
ning up back of neck acutely hut not reaching the green 
of head; outer edge of shoulder and most of wing, 
pure white, crossed by one black bar formed by bases 
of greater coverts ; primaries and outer secondaries, 
black, the latter shading to white and black inwardly ; 
under parts, pure white, shaded along sides with pale 
pinkish where marbled with dusky ; bill and feet, ver- 
milion ; hook of bill, black with some of the same color 



on ridge; iris, red. Adult Female; Head and neck, 
reddish-brown ; the slight crest more brownish ; chin, 
throat, and under parts, white ; upper parts, ashy-gray, 
the feathers slightly darker centrally; white of wing 
restricted to a patch formed by secondaries and greater 
coverts ; primaries, dusky ; bill, reddish, paler at base 
with dusky ridge; feet, orange with dusky webs; 
iris, yellowish-red. Immature: Similar to adult 
female. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: In hollow tree, on ground, 
or in crevices of rocks; constructed of moss, leaves, 
and grass, and warmly lined with down. Eggs: 6 to 10, 
pale buffy. 

Distribution. — North America ; breeds from south- 
ern Alaska across British America to southern Ungava 
and Newfoundland, south to Oregon, South Dakota, 
Minnesota, Michigan, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, 
and northern New York, and in mountains south to 
northern California, central Arizona, northern New 
Mexico, and Pennsylvania (formerly) ; winters through- 
out the greater part of its range south to northern 
Lower California, northern Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, 
Florida, and Bermuda. 



In the dead of winter when the " white death " the floods foam over the rocks of a broken rapid, 

covers the land and even the ice-bound waters, Here we may see a pair of large wild Ducks 

we may find here and there in the courses of the breasting the torrent, swimming and diving as 

larger New England rivers an open stretch where composedly in the turmoil of waters as if they 




Drawing by R, I. Brasher 



MERGANSER (1 nat. size) 
A fresh-water bird, rarely seen on salt water. 



MERGANSERS 



III 



were taking their exercise in a placid lake. Their 
marking, the dark green glossy head of the male, 
its glistening light under parts, and the crested 
head of the female at once identify them as 
Mergansers, for this is the only American Duck 
the female of which is crested while the adult 
male is not. The feathers on the head of the 
male are elongated somewhat but he has no such 
crest as that of the female. The young of both 
sexes are more or less crested. 

The birds are silent and if undisturbed they 
diligently dive and chase their finny prey be- 
neath the surface. If disturbed they rise and fly 
to some other rapid, for only in such places can 
they find food in winter. Sometimes when sud- 
denly alarmed they croak solemnly but this is 
rare. Ordinarily they fly at a speed of perhaps 
forty miles an hour but if startled they can dis- 
tance a railroad train going at that speed. 



This is a fresh-water bird, rarely seen on salt 
water except when driven there by very severe 
freezing weather. As soon as the ice breaks up 
in spring numbers of these sheldrakes may be 
seen in the ponds and rivers of the North fol- 
lowing retreating winter to his lair. 

The Merganser nests normally in hollow 
trees and is said to carry the young to the water 
in its bill. It feeds mainly on fish that are not 
much valued by man, such as minnows, chubs, 
and suckers, and in the salt water it devours also 
crustaceans and mollusks. 

Its flesh as ordinarily cooked is so rank and 
strong that its flavor is not nuich superior to 
that of an old kerosene lamp-wick but some of 
the hardy gunners of the Atlantic coast know 
how to prepare it for the table in a way to 
make it quite palatable. 

Edward Howe Forbush. 



RED-BREASTED MERGANSER 
Mergus serrator Linmvus 

A. O. U. .Number 130 See Color Plate 10 



Other Names. — Shelduck ; Shell-bird ; Long Island 
Sheldrake: Spring Sheldrake: Salt-water Sheldrake; 
Saw-bill: Common Saw-bill; Fishing Duck; Fish Duck; 
Red-breasted Sheldrake: Red-breasted Goosander; Sea 
Robin. 

General Description. — Length, J4 inches. Adult 
males have the head and upper parts greenish-black, 
while the females and immature have the head red 
and the upper parts ashy-gray ; all have the under parts 
white, but the males have a band of brownish-red on 
the breast. Both sexes have a long crest of thin f>oinli'd 
feathers. 

Color. — Adult Male: Head and upper neck all 
around, dark mallard green ; under parts, white, usually 
with pale pinkish shading; forc-hrcast, brov-'nish-rcd 
streaked with dusky: sides, finely zca?'ed ivith the same 
color: fore-back, shoulders, and long inner secondaries, 
black ; middle and lower back, gray waved with whitish 
and dusky ; rump and tail, grayish ; a narrow black line 
extending up back of neck, reaching color of head: 
wings, mostly white ; inner secondaries, edged on outer 
web with black; lesser coverts, encircled by black; two 
black bars across wing behind greater coverts ; pri- 



maries, dusky; bill, carmine, dusky on top and tip; feet, 
bright red; eyes, carmine. Adult Fem.\le: Crest, 
double; head, chestnut, more brown on crown and crest; 
throat, paler but not white ; beneath, white, shaded on 
sides with ashy-gray ; above, plain ashy-gray, the 
feathers dark centrally ; white of wing restricted to a 
patch formed by ends of greater coverts and outer 
secondaries ; the base and ends of greater coverts, 
dusky; primaries, plain dusky; bill. red. paler at base, 
with dusky ridge and tip ; feet, dull reddish, webs 
darker ; iris. red. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: On the ground, in brush or 
crevices of rocks, near water; made of leaves, grass, 
and mosses, and lined with feathers and down from the 
parents. Eccs : 6 to 12. usually 9 or 10, olive buff. 

Distribution. — Northern part of northern hemis- 
phere ; breeds in North America from Alaska along 
Arctic coast to Greenland (latitude 73°) south to British 
Columbia. Alberta, Minnesota, Wisconsin, northern New 
York, Maine, and Sable Island ; winters throughout 
most of its ran.ge south to Lower California, Louisiana, 
and Florida ; occurs casually in the Bermudas, Cuba, 
and Hawaii. 



The Red-breasted Merganser is a swift and 
rather silent flyer, and an exceedingly expert 
diver. While swimming on the surface it some- 
times raises and lowers its crest. This is more 

X'liL. I — Q 



of a marine species than the American Mer- 
ganser, but is nevertheless not uncommon in the 
interior of the country, particularly in the lake 
regions, during migration. 



112 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



In the winter, most of the birds of this species 
which are seen in Massachusetts appear to be 
full-plumaged males, while in summer the few 
which remain with us appear to be females. 
Some of them, however, may be males in the 
" eclipse " plumage. I have noticed that practi- 
cally all the birds seen in winter in Florida are 
females or young. This, together with the fact 
that most of those seen in Massachusetts in 
winter are males, seems to indicate that the hardy 



males do not go so far south in winter as do 
the females and young. 

The Red-breasted Mergansers feed largely on 
fish, diving and charging through the schools of 
small fish, which they seize and hold fast with 
their saw-toothed bills. Thoreau notes that he 
saw Sheldrakes (presumably of this species) 
chasing fish by both swimming and flying along 
the surface. A few shell-fish are eaten at times. 
Edw,\rd Howe Forbusii, in Game Birds, 
\]"ild-Fo7^'l and Shore Birds. 




Courtesy ut b. A. Lottndge 



RED-BREASTED MERGANSER 

A swift and rather silent flyer, and an exceedingly expert diver 



HOODED MERGANSER 

Lophodytes cucullatus (Liniiu-iis) 

A. O. U. .Vuniber rji .See Color I'latc ii 



Other Names. — Hooded Sheldrake ; l.ittle. Wood, 
Swamp, Pond, Mud. Picka.x. or Summer, Sheldrake; 
Little Fishing, or Fish, Duck; Little Saw-bill Duck; 
Saw-bill Diver; Round-crested Duck; Fan-crested 
Duck; Tree Duck; Wood Duck; Spike-bill; Hairy- 
crown ; Hairy-head ; Moss-head ; Tow-head ; Tadpole ; 
Water Pheasant. 

General Description. — Leiigtii, 17' < inches. Males 
are black above and white below ; females are grayish- 
brown above and whitish below. Bill, narrow and thin. 
The adult male has a thin semi-circular crest capable 
of being opened or shut like a fan. 

Color. — .Adult M.^le : Head, neck, and upper parts, 
black shading to brown on lower back ; crest, mostly 
white with narrow black border behind and zvider black 



space in front; the white extending a little below level 
of eyes; breast and under parts, white, invading the 
black area just in front of wings by two broad streaks; 
a white speculum with two black bars formed by the 
outer webs of secondaries and greater coverts; inner 
secondaries, black with white center stripes; sides below, 
regularly and finely waved with rufous and black; 
under tail-coverts, waved with dusky; bill, black; feet, 
yellowish; iris, yellow. Adult Fem.^le: Crest bushy; 
head and neck, grayish-chestnut, browner on crown ; 
back and sides, dusky-brown, the feathers with paler 
edges not waved ; speculum of wing, smaller and crossed 
by only one dark bar; throat and under parts in gen- 
eral, whitish ; bill, dusky, orange at base below ; feet, 
brownish. 



Q. 



i 




DUCKS 



113 



Nest and Eggs. — Nest: In hollow trees, lined with 
grass, leaves, leathers, and down. E<;(is: to 10. ivory 
white. 

Distribution. — North America at large; breeds from 
central British Columbia. Great Slave Lake, across 
British America to Newfoundland south to southern 



Oregon, northern New Me.xico, southern Louisiana, and 
central Florida ; winters in southern British Columbia^ 
across the United States on about latitude 41° south 
to Lower California, Me.xico, the Gulf States, and Cuba; 
rare in northeastern part of range; recorded from 
Alaska, and from Europe and Bermuda. 



The Hooded Merganser is a distinctively 
American bird and is the most beautiful of its 
family. \'ivacious, active, elegant in form, grace- 
ful in carriage, its presence adds a peculiar charm 
to the little ponds and streams on which it de- 
lights to disport. It frequents clear streams and 
muddy pools alike, and its white and black plum- 
age strongly contrasted against the shining water 
and the stirrounding foliage makes a picttire not 
soon forgotten. One who has seen a small flock 
of this species playing on the dark waters of a 
tiny shaded jjool with two or three beautiful 
males darting about among the others, opening 
and closing their fan-like crests and throwing 
the sparkling drops in showers over their glisten- 
ing plumage, will rarely find anywhere a finer 
and more animated picture of bird life. 

It is well known that this bird nests in hollow 
trees and that the young are either carried to the 



water by the mother soon after they are hatched, 
or are pushed out of the nest and, falling unhurt 
to the ground, are led to the water by the parent. 
She seems to be rather a silent bird, but has a 
hoarse croak at times and probably has vocal 
means of commtinication with her little ones. 
This Duck is exceedingly swift on the wing, a 
proficient diver, and a fast swimmer both on and 
under the sttrface. Its toothed bill places it with 
the fish-eating Ducks, but it feeds on vegetable 
matter also, and Col. John E. Thayer says that 
■' it readily eats corn." No d<.)ulit it could be 
domesticated, and if so it would make a great 
addition to the ornamental w-aterfowl on parks 
and large estates. Notwithstanding its unpalat- 
able fishy flavor it is shot by gunners at every 
opportunity and has decreased greatly in num- 
bers where formerly it was common. 

Edwakd Howe Fokbush. 



DUCKS 

Order Atisncs; family Anatidcr : subfamilies Auatuicr and Fitiiguliinv 



NDER the general term "Duck" are included a very large variety of forms, 
some of which do not measure up to the popular notion of what a real Duck is. 
From the scientific point of view, the Ducks include a large group of birds 
constituting the subfamilies River Ducks and Sea Ducks of the order Anscres 
or Waterfowl. Most of them have the body longer than the neck, and a broad, 
flattened bill, while the front of the tarsus is fitted with overlapping scales. 
The sexes are unlike in color. The characteristic "waddle" of the Duck on 
land is due to the fact that its legs are placed far back on its body, an arrange- 
ment which, however, increases its skill in swimming and diving. The wings 
are rigid, strong, and usually pointed, and capable of driving the bird's body 
at great speed; the plumage is exceptionally dense and soft. 
Wild Ducks fall naturally into the two groups known as River or Pond Ducks and 
Sea or Bay or Diving Ducks. The Sea Ducks (which are found virtually all over the world) 
difTer from the River Ducks in having the hind toe broadly lobed or webbed, and include 
species mainly of large size. The terms " Sea " and " River " should not be taken too 
literally, for certain species of each group may be found on the ocean, on rivers, or on bodies 
of fresh water well inland. The Sea Ducks, of which about seventy species are recognized, 
feed mainly on mollusks, shellfish, and the roots and seeds of aquatic plants, which they get 
by diving, often to a considerable depth, as is proved by the fact that in Lake Erie Old-squaw 
Ducks have been caught in fishermen's nets at depths of from eighty to one hundred feet 




114 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



Most of their feeding is done in daytime, and at evening they go out to sea where they pass 
the night often several miles from shore. 

The River Ducks, of which there are about seventy species, get most of their food by 
searching the bottom in water so shallow that diving is not necessary. With a few excep- 
tions — notably the Canvas-back — their flesh is more palatable than is that of the Sea 
Ducks. Again, the Sea Ducks often go in enormous flocks, while the River Duck flocks 
are comparatively small, rarely exceeding forty or fifty individuals. The range of the River 
Ducks, like that of the Sea Ducks, is very wide, representatives of the group occurring in 
both hemispheres. The plumage of both groups displays a very great variety of colors, 
from the plain hues of the Black Duck to the remarkably gaudy and variegated Wood Duck. 
Usually the secondary quills of the wings show patches of varied or iridescent color and 
this patch is called the speculum. 

Excepting the Wood Duck, all of the American River Ducks build their nests, which are 
composed of grasses, leaves, moss, and the like, on the ground, sometimes on dry land at a 
distance from water, but more frequently in swampy land, where the grass is high enough 
for concealment. Their eggs usually show shades of green, buff, or cream colors. The Sea 
Ducks also build ground nests of leaves, grasses, twigs, seaweed, and the like, which are lined 
with down from the breast of the sitting bird. The eggs number from four or five to a 
dozen or more, and are buffy, greenish, bluish, or cream in color. 



MALLARD 



Anas platyrhynchos Linncrus 

A. O. U. Number 132 See Color Plate 12 



Other Names. — Common Wild Duck; Stock Duck; 
English Duck; French Duck; Green-head (male) ; Gray 
Duck (female) ; Gray Mallard (female). 

General Description. — Length, 22 to 24 inches. 
Color of male : head, green ; back, grayish-brown ; under 
parts, gray with purplish-chestnut breast. Color of 
female : dusky-brown and tawny, variegated and 
lighter below than above. 

Description. — .^dult Male in Winter .\nd Breed- 
ing Plumage: Frequently several of the upper tail- 
coverts curl upward. Head and upper neck, glossy 
green, with shadings of purple and deep Prussian blue; 
around neek, a it'hite ring: back, grayish-brown, more 
brown in center and on shoulders ; lower back, rump, 
and tail-coverts, glossy black ; tail, mostly whitish with 
center feathers long and recurved; speculum, violet, 
purplish, and greenish, framed in black and i(<hite tips 
of greater coverts and secondaries, forming all together 
two black and two white bars ; lesser wing coverts, plain 
grayish ; breast, rich purplish-chestnut ; rest of under 
parts, silvery-gray finely zigzagged with dusky ; bill, 



olive ; feet, orange-red ; iris, brown. Adult Male in 
Summer: Similar to female. Adult Female: Entire 
body, variegated with dusky-brown and tawny, with 
yellowish-brown edges to most of feathers, lighter in 
color below than on back ; head and neck, quite buffy 
with streaks of brownish; zving as in male; feet, dull 
yellow ; bill, dusky spotted with orange ; iris, brown. 
Immature: Similar to adult female. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : On the ground in a tussock 
of grass or weeds; built of fine reeds, grass, or leaves; 
well lined with down. Eggs: 6 to 10, pale olive or 
buffy-green. 

Distribution. — Northern hemisphere; in North 
America breeds from Pribilof Islands and northwestern 
.\laska across British America to Greenland, south to 
Lower California and across the United States on about 
the parallel of 37° ; winters from Aleutian Islands, 
Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, southern Wisconsin, 
Ohio, Maryland, and Nova Scotia (rarely) south to 
Mexico, the Lesser Antilles, and Panama ; casual in 
Bermuda and Hawaii. 



Asked to name the one duck most important to 
the human race, the economist would reply at 
once — " The Mallard." Other ducks are 
numerous in certain lands but the Mallard occu- 
pies most of the northern hemisphere and is 



abundant wherever it has not been destroyed or 
reduced in numbers by man. Wild Mallards 
have furnished mankind with countless tons of 
food from time immemorial and domesticated 
Mallards have provided our race with vast 



DUCKS 



115 



quantities of eggs, flesh, and feathers for thou- 
sands of years. The Mallard, bred while in 
domestication, forms an important part of the 
food supply of China, the most populous country 
on the globe, and now the Pekin Duck is the 
staple stock of many a huge poultry plant in 
America. The Mallard is the chief waterfowl 
of most game preserves, on some of which 10,000 
birds are reared annually. It has gained its 
ascendancy among the waterfowl of the world 
by taking advantage of every opportimity to 
increase and multiply. It never overlooks a 
chance. One spring dav Dr. William T. Horna- 
day, director of the New York Zoological Park, 
found in Montana a little water hole hardly ten 
feet across ; all about in every direction for miles 
and miles stretched a desert of sage-brush shim- 



young are hatched. Then she leads them to 
water, watches over them, driving away their 
weaker enemies and decoying away the stronger, 
while the little ones skulk, dive, or hide among 
the water ])lants. Inherited exijerience has 
taught them the way of life ; but many are seized 
by great fish, frogs and turtles, and no doubt the 
Hawks captiu'e some. The brood is large, how- 
ever, and the survivors are many. 

When advancing winter seals the waters of 
their northern home and warns them to be gone, 
then there is a great flight from northwest to 
southeast, for few Mallards breed in the East, 
but many winter there. They reach the Atlantic 
from Maine to the Carolinas and, moving south, 
spend the winter largely in the southern States. 
Edward Howe Fokbush. 




Drawing by R, I Brasher 



MALLARD (J nat. size) 
The chief waterfowl of most game preserves 



mering in the sun. As he dismounted to drink, 
a female Mallard sjjrang from her nest in the 
sage-brush by the side of the little pool. One 
can understand from this episode how the Mal- 
lard has been able to spread over the northern 
hemisphere. 

The Mallard is wary. wise, handsome, and 
strong. W'hen in security it is one of the noisiest 
of all Ducks and its loud quack has become ty])i- 
cal of the Duck the world around, but when in 
danger it can steal away as silentlv as the shades 
of night. It is a hardy bird, remaining in the 
North even in winter wherever open fresh water 
and food may be found. The female nests very 
early in the season, lines the nest and covers the 
eggs with down, and rarely leaves them until the 



" The Mallard is quite omnivorous in regard 
to its food. The animal food consists of small 
frogs, tadjioles, toads, lizards, newts, small fish, 
fish fry, snails, mussels, leeches, earthworms, 
luice. ancl similar small game that it finds about 
the pond and in the edges of the woods. Its vege- 
table food includes grass, many species of seeds 
and aquatic ])lants. grain, nuts, acorns, fruits, 
etc. It is particularly fond of wild rice. In the 
South the Mallard is one of the friends of the 
rice farmer, as it destroys the scattered rice or 
volunteer rice of the field, which, if left to grow, 
would greatlv reduce the value of the crop. It 
is serviceable to the southern people in another 
way. as it feeds very largely upon crayfish, which 
burrow into and undermine the levees and dikes. 



Ii6 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



Examinations of one hundred and twenty-six 
stomachs of Mallards, made at the Biological 
Survey, revealed 17 per cent, animal food and 
83 per cent, vegetable. The most imjiortant items 




Photo by Edward i'U-istrn;r 

FEMALE MALLARD 






of the animal food were dragon-fly nymphs, fly 
larvae, grasshoppers, beetles, and bugs. Mollusks, 
earthworms, and crustaceans were found. The 
principal elements of the vegetable food, as found 
by the experts of the Biological Survey, were 
the seeds of the smartweeds, seeds and tubers 
of pondweed and of sedges. Other items of im- 
portance were the seeds of wild rice and other 
grasses, of burr reed, hornwort, water shield and 
widgeon grass. A great many vegetable sub- 
stances of less importance were included in the 
Mallard's diet, of which the following are worthy 
of note ; wild celery, algae, roots of arrowhead ; 
fruits, such as grapes, dogwood, sour gum, and 
bayberries ; and the seeds of such small aquatic 
plants as millweed, horned pondweed, and mer- 
maid weed." ( Forbush, in Game Birds, IVild- 
Fozul and Shore Birds.) 



BLACK DUCK 
Anas rubripes Brczustcr 

A. O. U. Number 133 Sec Color Plate 12 



Other Names.— Dusky Duck ; Black Mallard ; Dusky 
Mallard; Ked-legged Duck; Summer Black Duck; 
Spriug Black Duck. 

General Description. — Length, 22 to 24 inches. 
Color, dusky-brown. Darker than female Mallard and 
not so much white in the wing. 

Color. — General fluinagc, dusky-brov.'n, paler below; 
crown, darker than sides and throat, being quite blackish 
with pale brown streaks; ground color of neck, grayish- 
brown with dark streaking ; wing-coverts, dusky-gray, 
the lesser ones varied with light edges; greater coverts, 
tipped with black and edging f>urplish-hluc spcculuin; 
below, the lighter edgings of feathers in excess of 



darker centers ; above, the reverse ; bill, olive ; feet, 
orange-red with dusky webs; iris, brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : On the ground ; a rather 
large well-made structure of weeds and grass with a 
deep cup ; lined with down and feathers. Eggs : 6 to 
12, very pale bufif or pale greenish-buff. 

Distribution. — Eastern North America ; breeds from 
central Kcewatin and northern Ungava south to north- 
ern Wisconsin, northern Indiana and southern Mary- 
land ; winters from Nova Scotia south to southern 
Louisiana and Colorado; in migration west to Nebraska 
and central Kansas ; casual in Bermuda ; accidental in 
Jamaica. 



The Black Duck and the Mallard are in certain 
ways supplementary each of the other. The 
former is the common Wild Duck of the eastern 
half of North America ; the latter, of the western 
half, though they overlap considerably. They 
are enough alike in form, size, and habits to be 
called popularly " Black " Mallard and " Gray " 
Mallard. There is, nevertheless, a decided dif- 
ference in teniperatnent. Thotigh the wild Mal- 
lard is a very shy bird, it soon loses this fear in 
captivity, as is seen in the fact that it is the pro- 
genitor of the domesticated Mallard. The Black 
Duck, imder restraint, remains the same shy, 
timid skulker it always was. In fact I know of 
no Duck more implacably wild. 



In the eastern half of the United States it 
breeds, in suitable localities, in the Middle States 
and as far north as well up into Labrador. The 
locations chosen for its nesting are thick, bushy 
swamps, reedy bogs, the higher edges of 
meadows, tracts of weeds or low brush on small 
islands, and the like. As with all Wild Ducks, the 
nest is hard to discover, except by accidentally 
flushing the female from the eggs. My first ex- 
perience was in plodding through the thick of an 
alder swamp, when a big bird suddenly shot 
from the ground almost into my face, revealing 
a dozen large yellowish-white eggs under the 
vegetation. 

Nesting is quite early in Connecticut, sometimes 



DUCKS 



117 



as soon as the first days of April, but more gen- 
erally from about April 20 to the first week in 
May. The broods keep very close in the thick 
swamps, and seldom show themselves on open 
water, unless it be close to thick aquatic reeds or 
grass. During August they take to wing, and the 
number of them reared in the vicinity can be 
judged somewhat by their evening flights. They 
are crepuscular and considerably nocturnal, fly- 
ing and feeding during the night and at dawn and 
dusk. 



The planting of wild-duck foods has become a 
real art. Captured birds are induced to breed 
in marshy enclosures. The eggs are given to 
domestic jraultry, which raise the young some- 
what tamer. These hand-reared birds breed much 
more readily than the wild parents. Many of 
the young are allowed to go wild, and these, 
through " the homing instinct," return in spring 
to breed in the locality. Herbert K. Job. 

" In the interior the food of this species is 
largelv vegetable, particularly in the fall. In 




4k 



W ^irU-^^iMI^J 



Photograph by H. K. Job 



^. 




BLACK DUCKS 
Just after aUghting 



The Black Duck is notably hardy, and can en- 
dure almost anything in the line of cold, so long 
as it can find open water in warm springs or small 
streams, where its food of aquatic animals or 
plants is accessible. I have seen it in wooded 
swamps in mid-winter, where there was open the 
merest little channel of a small stream. At times, 
in regions along the sea-coast, it flies out on the 
bays, or the open sea in daytime, to take refuge 
from disturbance. 

Important practical projects have been carried 
out by private enterprise to establish the breeding 
of this and other species of Wild Ducks in large 
tracts of swampy land, where there are ponds. 



the sjjring more animal food is taken. The vege- 
table food includes grass roots taken from 
meadows, roots, and shoots of aquatic plants, 
wild rice, grains, weed seeds, hazel nuts, acorns 
and berries. The animal food includes small 
frogs and toads, tadpoles, small minnows, newts, 
earthworms, leeches, and small shell-fish. The 
food of the Black Duck has the same practical 
interest for the game preserver as has that of 
the Mallard, for the Black Duck is closely related 
to the Mallard, thrives almost equally well on 
grain, and when grain fed, becomes a very ex- 
cellent bird for the table." (Forbush, in Game 
Birds, Wild-Foii'l and Shore Birds.) 



Il8 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



FLORIDA DUCK 

Anas fulvigula fulvigula Ridgway 

A. O, U. Number 134 



Length. — 22 inches. 

Color. — Lighter colored than the Black Duck, the 

buff markings in excess of the dark ones, giving a 
lighter general tone ; cheeks, chin, and throat, plain pale 



The Florida Duck is one of our little-known 
species of water-fowl because its range is very 
limited and nowhere does it seem to be abundant. 
It closely resembles the common Black Duck of 
the northern States, practically the only dif- 
ference being the absence of streaks on the neck 
and also the fact that it is of smaller size. So far 
as known at the present time it is confined to 
Florida and the coast country of Louisiana. On 
the palmetto prairies of Hillsboro County, 
Florida, I discovered some one summer swim- 
ming about with their young in the small sloughs 
and grassy ponds of the region. When pursued 
the female would flutter away with a great 
splashing and giving every evidence of a highly 
nervous state of mind. The young meantime 
scampered for cover, with bodies raised high out 
of the water, propelling themselves forward at 
a most astonishing rate. The male bird was in 
no case seen in company with his family. An- 
other time I came upon several of them at Lake 
Flint and again at Lake Hicpochee in the Oke- 
chobee country. Here they were feeding in the 
shallow water in company with numerous Coots 
which abound in the region. They are great 
birds to dabble and seem thoroughly to enjoy the 



buffy ; bill, olive; nail, black and dark spot at base; 
feet, orange-red ; iris, brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Similar to the Black Duck. 

Distribution. — Northwestern to southern Florida. 



sensation of muddying the waters. Frequently 
they quacked to each other, but their notes seemed 
to me to be indistinguishable from the call of 
the Black Duck. 

Along the Louisiana coast there exist extensive 
salt and brackish water marshes through which 
wide creeks or bayous wind their serpentine way 
to the open sea. This is a haven for the myriads 
of Ducks and Geese that repair here to spend 
the winter. Upon the approach of spring, how- 
ever, they depart for their northern breeding 
grounds and the deserted marshes are left to 
the mosquitoes, the snakes, and the alligators. 
And yet a few scattered birds tarry and brave 
the discomforts of the sweltering summer days. 
Should you at this season quietly paddle a 
pirogue along the smaller bayous, there would 
be a chance of coming upon the rare, elusive 
Florida Duck and her brood, and you might get a 
glimpse, or even a quick photograph, of them 
before they hurry into the marsh and disappear. 

T. Gilbert Pearson. 

The Mottled Duck [Anas fulvigula maculosa) 
is a geographical variation of the Florida Duck 
and is resident in southern Texas and southern 
Louisiana. The two forms differ but little. 



GADWALL 

Chaulelasmus streperus (Linnceus) 

A. 0. U. Number 135 See Color Plate 12 



Other Names. — Gray Duck; Gray Widgeon; Creek 
Duck; Bleating Duck; Speckle-belly; Blarting Duck; 
Red-wing. 

General Description. — Length, 22 inches. Males are 
brownish-gray above and gray below ; females are like 
female Mallards, but smaller and wing-patch is like that 
of the male. The only River Duck with a pure white, 
black-bordered wing-patch. Wings, long and pointed; 
tail with 16 feathers. 

Description.— Adult Male: Wide low crest on top 
of head. Head and neck, grayish-brown, darker on 
crown and nape ; sides of head, throat, and neck, speckled 
with dusky; lower neck, breast, sides of body, and fore- 
back, dusky with crescentic bars of whitish on breast 
and waved with lighter along sides; lower back, dusky 
shading into black on rump and upper tail-coverts ; 



shoulders, tinged with brown ; lesser wing-coverts, gray; 
middle coverts, cliestiiut: speculum, zcliite, formed by 
outer webs of secondaries, framed in velvet-black of 
greater coverts and bordered behind with black and 
ash ; abdomen, white minutely zig-zagged with gray ; 
under tail-coverts, velvet-black. Adult Female : No 
crest. Above, variegated with dusky and tawny-brown, 
very similar to female Mallard, without any crescentic 
or wavy marks of male; breast and abdomen, white 
with dusky spotting ; wing as in male, without chestnut 
coverts. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: A slight hollow in a bunch 
of grass or reeds, usually near water; constructed of 
dry grass ; lined with down and feathers. Eggs : 8 to 12, 
creamy or buffy-white. 

Distribution. — Nearly cosmopolitan ; in North .\mer- 



^f 




'"'-4i«ai.:- 



DUCKS 



119 



ica breeds from southern British Columbia, central 
Alberta and central Kecwatin south to southern Cali- 
fornia, southern Colorado, northern Nebraska and 
southern Wisconsin ; winters from southern British 
Columbia, Arizona, Arkansas, southern Illinois, and 



In North America this ahiiost cosnio]iohtaii 
species, the Gadwall, breeds mainly, if not en- 
tirely, in the western provinces. There is reason 




Pholo by U. K. Jm 

GADWALL DUCKLINGS 

to believe that the (iadwall was once not uncom- 
mon in New England ; but within the last half 
century not many sjjecimens are known to have 
been taken. Wilson believed it to be rare in the 
" northern parts of the United States," and it 
was probably always less common in the New 
England States than in the West and South ; but 
I am convinced, by the statements of the older 
ornithologists and by descriptions given me bv 
some of the older gunners, that tlie Gadwall was 
more often seen in the early part of the last 
century than it now is, and that some of the so- 
called Gray Ducks which were then killed here 
were of this species. 

The Gadwall is a swift flier, resembling the 
Baldpate or Widgeon when in the air. It is 
quite distinctly a fresh-water fowl, and gets 
much of its living along the shores of lakes and 
rivers, concealed by the reeds, grasses, and bushes 
that grow near the shore or overhang it. It is a 



Xorth Carolina south to Lower California, central Mex- 
ico, and Florida ; accidental in Bermuda. Cul)a. and 
Jamaica; rare in migration on the Atlantic coast of the 
Middle and New England States north to Newfound- 
land. 



good (liver at need, and is seen usually in pairs 
or small " bunches," often in comjianv with other 
Ducks. 

When apjiroached from the land they usu- 
alh' make no attempt at concealment, but swim 
iijward oiien water and take wing, making a 
whistling sound with their wings, that is not so 
loud as that made by the Bald]iate. This is an 
excellent bird for the table, which accounts 
largely for its present rarity. It is fond of 
grain and is easily domesticated. It breeds 
naturally in the latitude of ^Massachusetts, and it 
might prove a great acquisition to the game pre- 
serve or to the farm-yard if it could be propa- 
gated in sufficient numliers. It seems a promis- 
ing sjiecies with which to experiment with this 
end in view. 

The food of this bird consists of the tender 
shoots of grasses, blades and roots of aquatic 




Phutu by H. K. Job Courtesy of Outilli; Pub. Co. 

NEST OF GADWALL 

plants, seeds, nuts, acorns, insects, nioUusks and 
other small forms of atjuatic life, inclu<ling small 
fish. 

Edw.xki) Hdwk l'"(iRr.L'sii, in Ciaiiir lairds. 
Willi I'ljzvl ami Sltorr Binis. 



EUROPEAN WIDGEON 
Mareca penelope ( Liinnciis ) 

A. O W Xumher jjCi See Colnr I'Llte I,! 



Other Names. — Widgeon ; Whistler; Whewer ; 
Whew ; Whim. 

Length. — 18 to 21 inches. 

Color. — Adult Male: Differs from tlie ISaldpate in 



having head and neck uniform cimiamon-rcd : top of 
head, creamy or white; rest of plumage similar. .Xdult 
I-'kmai.f: Differs in having entire iiluniage more sut- 
fuscd with yellowish-brown. 



120 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



Nest and Eggs. — Similar to those of the Bald- 
pate. 

Distribution. — Northern part of the eastern hemis- 
phere; occurs in winter and in migrations rarely in 



Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Nova Scotia, New- 
foundland, and Greenland south to Nebraska, Missouri, 
Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina and Florida, and in 
■Alaska, British Columbia, and California. 



The European \\'id,£:eon is an Old World 
species which occasionally appears in the western 
hemisphere. Normally it breeds among the 
grassy swamps and lakes of Norway and Sweden 
and is accounted the most abundant of the Ducks 



in Lapland. Sometimes it breeds on the lakes of 
northern Scotland but it is always an abundant 
winter visitor to southern Scotland and through- 
out England. In size and general character it 
closely resembles the Baldpate. 



BALDPATE 

Mareca americana iCinclin) 

.\. O V. .Vumber 137 See Color I'late 13 



Other Names.— American Widgeon ; Bald Wid,geon ; 
Green-headed Widgeon : Southern Widgeon : California 
Widgeon ; White-belly : Bald-head : Bald-crown ; Ball- 
face : Smoking Duck : Wheat Duck ; Poacher. 

General Description.— Length, i8 to 21 inches. 



Males are brownish-gray above, and brownish-red and 
white below. Females are yellowish-brown above, and 
brownish and white below. Bill, small, widest near the 
base; tail with 14 feathers. 

Description. — Adult Male: Head with short crest. 



Drawn by R. I. Brasher 

BALDPATE (' nat. sizel 
A shy, wary, and garrulous Duck 




DUCKS 



121 



Forehead, cro'wn and back of head, ti'hile ; a broad 
palcli of glossy green on side of head extending around 
and down back of neck where it meets its fellow; 
cheeks and rest of neck, whitish with dusky spots; 
throat, dusky ; back, shoulders, and rump, pale brownish- 
gray finely waved with dusky ; breast, light brownish- 
red with pale gray edgings on feathers; sides of body, 
the same color waved with dusky; rest of lower parts, 
pure white except under tail-coverts which are black ; 
lesser wing-coverts, i)lain gray ; middle and greater 
coverts, pure white forming a large area, edged behind 
by black tips of the greater coverts; sj^eeulitni, glossy 
green bordered behind by black; long inner secondaries, 
black with sharp white edges ; rump and upper tail- 
coverts, white: the outside feathers of latter, dusky; 
primaries and their coverts, and tail, pale brownish- 
gray; this perfect plumage seen only in old drakes; 
bill, grayish-blue, black at tip and base below ; feet, the 
same with dusky webs ; iris, brown ; usually the whole 
head and neck are pale brownish-yellow speckled with 
greenish and dusky, .•\dult Female : Head and neck 
all around, pale grayish; crown and back of neck, more 



brown with dusky spots; upper parts, yellowish-brown 
barred on back with dusky; shoulders spotted with the 
same ; rump and upper tail-coverts, mixed brownish 
and white ; tail, grayish-brown, the feathers white 
edged; wing, as in male but white area mottled with 
grayish; breast, brownish; rest of under parts, white; 
bill, feet, and eye, as in male. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest; On the ground in marshes: 
a neat well-built structure (for a Duck) of grass and 
weeds; lined with feathers and down from the breast 
of the bird. &,GS : 8 to i8. pale buffy. 

Distribution. — North America in general ; breeds 
from northwestern Alaska, northern Mackenzie, and 
central Keewatin south to Oregon. Nevada. Utah. Colo- 
rado. Kansas, southern Wisconsin, and northern Indi- 
ana; winters from southern British Columbia, southern 
Illinois, Maryland, and Delaware (casually Massa- 
chusetts and Rhode Island) south to southern Lower 
California, the West Indies, and Costa Rica : rare ni 
migration to northern Ontario, northern Quebec, and 
Newfoundland; accidental in Hawaii, liernuida, and 
Europe. 



In the East the Buldpate or .American Widgeon 
is a shy and wary bird and a great tell-tale. 
Quick to take the alarm itself, it is not slow to 
communicate it to others; and whenever a few 
Baldpates mix with a flock of other Ducks the 
sportsman must " mind his eye." or all his 
stratagems, disguises, and concealments will fail. 
In the Far West it is less wary. 

Wild isolated lakes and rivers not much fre- 
quented by other Ducks often are chosen by the 
Baldpate as favorite nesting spots. Here they 
nest, usually among bushes or trees amid the 
dead leaves, often on high ground and not al- 
ways near the water, but the eggs are well con- 
cealed and covered with their blanket of down. 
While the females are incubating, the males 
gather and. like the males of other River Ducks, 
go into the " eclipse " plumage, which closely 
resembles that of the female and leaves them 
inconspicuous in color during the summer while 
they molt and grow new wing quills. 

As the season of migration aj)])roaches the 
Baldpates begin to move southward and many 
are shot in the northwestern .States while flying 
from pond to jiond : but they soon become shy, 
flying high over marshes and keeping well out of 
range of suspicious points, and by the last of 
October when they appear on the Atlantic coast 
they are difficult to kill. 

The usual note of this bird is a soft whistle 
which is repeated often when the flock is on the 



wing. The flight is either in a line nearly abreast 
or in a group much like a flock of pigeons. 
Whenever anything alarms one of the flock a 
louder whistle warns all the others to shy off or 
climb the air. 

The species is very fond of wild celery, but 
is a poor diver and depends somewhat upon the 
flocks of Redheads, Canvas-backs, Scaups, and 




Courtesy of I\at. Abbu. Autl. tioc. 

NEST AND EGGS OF BALDPATE 

The largest families are found among Ducks, Grouse, and Quails, 
the young of which are able to leave the nest as soon as the 
natal covering is dry 

Coot to dive for its food which it steals from 
their bills the moment they appear above water. 
The male may be recognized by the conspicuous 
white of the forehead and wing-coverts. 

Edward Howe Fokbusii. 



122 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



GREEN-WINGED TEAL 
Nettion carolinense ((Jiiwlin) 

A. O. U. Number 139 See Color I'late ij 



Other Names. — Green-wing; Red-headed Teal; 
Winter Teal : Mud Teal. 

General Description. — Length, 14 inches. Males are 
gray and red above, and whitish and red below ; females 
are brown above, and whitish below. 

Description. — Adult Male; Head, slightly crested. 
Head and upper neck, rich chestnut ivith a glossy green 
patch behind eye, blackening on lower border and on 
back where it meets its fellow, bordered below by a 
whitish streak; upper parts, grayish, very finely waved 
with dusky; speculum, 'c'elvet-black on outer half, rich 
glossy green on inner; primaries and wing-coverts, 
grayish ; greater coverts with chestnut tips margining 
the speculum in front ; breast, warm brownish ; rest 
of lower parts, whitish speckled with round dusky 
spots on breast ; sides, grayish, finely waved with dusky ; 
a white crescent in front of wing; bill, dusky lead 
color, darker below ; feet, bluish-gray ; iris, brown. 
Adult Female: Head (no crest) and neck, light warm 
brown, whitening on throat and darkening on crown. 



Teals might be called the bantams of the duck 
tribe, as regards size. Their swiftness of flight 
is in inverse ratio to mere bigness, and probably 
there is nothing more rapid that ilies. The 
celerity with which a Teal can vault into the air 



' i< 













■w* 



Photo by H. \; 



'^^W. 



Couriesy of Outing Pub. Co. 



NEST OF GREEN-WINGED TEAL 

when alarmed is astonishing. In all its move- 
ments it evinces a real grace, a peculiar charm. 
From the culinary standpoint, surely there is 
nothing more luscious in the realm of water- 
fowl, no, not even the vaunted Canvas-back. 
The Green-wing and the Blue-wing are the 



spotted with dark brown ; upper parts, dark brown, 
each feather with distinct tawny edgings ; sides of 
body, the same ; rest of lower parts, whitish ; wing as 
in male but speculum duller. Young of the Year: 
Resemble adult female. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: On the ground, usually in 
a thick growth of grass or among willows; constructed 
of dry grass; lined with feathers and down. Eggs: 
8 to II, sometimes 12, pale buff. 

Distribution. — North America at large ; breeds 
from the Aleutian Islands across British America to 
Newfoundland, south to central California, northern 
New Mexico, northern Nebraska, nortliern Illinois, 
southern Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick; winters 
from Aleutian Islands, British Columbia, Nevada, 
southern Nebraska, northern Indiana, western New 
York, and Rhode Island (casually Nova Scotia) south 
to southern Lower California, the West Indies, and 
Honduras ; accidental in Hawaii, Bermuda, Greenland, 
and Great Britain. 



two Teals of North America which are well 
known and widely distributed. Of the two the 
(jreen-wing is the hardier, lingering in the north- 
ern States late in the fall and even at times well 
into the winter, as long as there is any open water 
at all to be found in the ponds or at warm spring- 
holes. It is also, on the whole, the more north- 
erly of the two, both in its winter range and in 
its breeding. 

Of late years both species have been growing 
regrettably scarce in the eastern districts of the 
country. When found at all it is usually only a 
single bird or a pair. But in parts of the central 
and western districts there are still good flocks 
to be seen. 

The nesting of the Green-wing is mostly in the 
Northwest, not so commonly on the sloughs of the 
open prairies of the Dakotas and southern Mani- 
toba as in the more brush-grown regions further 
west and north. It grows more numerous as one 
I)enetrates into northern Manitoba and western 
Saskatchewan. In the latter it likes the alkaline 
ponds, and in the fortner the poplar forest lakes. 
The nest has seemed to me one of the most dif- 
ficult of Ducks' nests to discover, in that it is 
usually located well back from water, sometimes 
near the edge of meadow and forest. These 
Teals frequent the open marshy pools, but my 
search for their nests in the grass nearby was 
usually in vain. They were generally discovered 
by accident. One was found near the cabin of 
an Indian half-breed by the edge of a cattle- 
pasture, amid grass, weeds, and low brush. 















'"-» ^<«^.>!^,£^BSi^^. 



DUCKS 



12.-, 



Others were under low bushes at the drier edges 
of meadows, back from the lake almost to the 
forest. 

On a large island of a big alkaline lake in 
Saskatchewan it was my good fortune to dis- 
cover my first nest of this species, which made 
the twentieth kind of Duck whose nesting 1 had 
discovered. The island was high and dry, open, 
overgrown with prairie grass and tracts of low- 
brush. Many kinds of Ducks were nesting here 
and they kept flushing from their eggs close in 
front of me as I tramped about — Pintails, Gad- 
walls, Shovellers, Mallards, both Scaups, Blue- 
winged Teals, and others. Suddenly up fluttered 
a small dtick with green on the wings. In the 
thick of the grass was a nest lined with soft 
down, containing a complement of eggs. 



I have hatched and reared the young and find 
them hardy and easy to manage, 

Herbert K. Job. 

'■ The Green-winged Teal is fond of wild oats 
and rice, and takes seeds of various .grasses and 
weeds, also chestnuts, acorns, wild grapes, ber- 
ries, insects, crustaceans, worms, and small snails. 
Audubon states that he never found water 
lizards, fish, or even tadpoles in stomachs of this 
Teal. He regarded it, when fed upon soaked 
rice or wild oats, as far superior to the Canvas- 
back, and considered it the most luscious food 
of any American Duck. Possiblv it might be 
domesticated to advantage, as it has been bred in 
captivity in a small way." (Forbush, in Game 
Birds. irild-Po-a'l and Shore Birds.) 



BLUE-WINGED TEAL 
Querquedula discors {Li}iU(rus) 

A. O V. Xiimber lao See Color Plate 14 



Other Names. — Blue-wing; White-faced Teal; .Sum- 
mer Teal. 

General Description. — Length, 16 inches. Males are 
variegated dark and light brown above, and purpli.sh- 
gray and yellowish-gray below with spots of black. 



Females are dark brown above, variegated with lighter, 
and whitish below, mottled with brown. 

Color. — .\dult M.\le: Crown, grayish-black: (7 large 
"icliife I'lack-rdgcd crescent in front of eye; rest oi: 
head, purplish-gray; lower hind-neck and fore-back, 









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I .1 1. .11,' jLLimJ.. »R. "SPPspR >,aBw?;.. 



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-^:£ 









Photo by H. K. Job 



Cuurtesy ot' iSat. Asso. Aud. Soc. 



FLIGHT OF BLUE-WINGED TEALS 

Louisiana 



124 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



variegated with brownish-black and yellowish-brown ; 
lower back and rump, dark brown with a greenish 
tinge; wing-covcrts and outer zvcbs of some of the 
shoulder feathers, dull cobalt blue; speculum, rich mal- 
lard green enclosed by white tips of greater coverts 
and secondaries ; some inner secondaries, greenish- 
black on outer web, greenish-brown on inner, striped 
lengthwise with reddish-buff; breast, very pale purplish- 
gray; rest of under parts, yellowish-gray with innu- 
merable round black spots on breast, sides, and below, 
changing to bars on flanks behind ; under tail-coverts, 
black; a patch on each side of rump, pure white; bill, 
ashy, darkening on ridge and tip ; feet, yellow, webs 
duller; iris, brown. Adult Fem.\le: Head and neck, 
dull buff; crown, brownish-dusky streaked with brown- 
ish-black; cheeks and chin, whitish, markings small or 
obsolete ; upper parts, dark brown with pale yellowish- 



brown edgings to all feathers; below, grayish-white, 
slightly more brown on breast, mottled on breast with 
dusky spotting and on sides and flanks with V-shaped 
brownish marks; wings as in male but speculum duller; 
bill, greenish-dusky; feet, paler yellow. Young of the 
Ye.\r : Resemble adult female. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : In marshes or on dry 
ground ; constructed of grass and weed stems and lined 
with feathers and down. Eggs : 8 to 12, pale bufify. 

Distribution. — Western hemisphere ; breeds from 
central British Columbia, across British America to 
Newfoundland, south to Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico, 
Missouri, Indiana, northern Ohio, western New York 
(occasionally Rhode Island), and Maine; winters from 
about the parallel 36° south to the West Indies and 
South America as far as Brazil and Chile; accidental 
in Bermuda and Europe. 



The Blue-winged Teal is quite similar to the 
Green-winged in many of its ways. One differ- 
ence is that it is less able to endure cold. Before 
the heavy frosts of late autumn arrive, it is well 
to the southward. I have been told by hunters 
in Louisiana that in late October and Noveinber 
large columns of them pour along the Gulf coast 
and pass on into Texas and Mexico. However, 
a good many remain in Louisiana on the great 
reservations for the winter. In the winter of 
191 5-16 I saw there considerable numbers of this 
species, associating with the Green-wing, some- 
times in flocks of several hundreds. Both kinds 
became quite gentle tinder protection, and would 
swim up within a few feet of blinds and of our 
cabin window and feast on rice which was scat- 
tered for them. 



Quite a number of the Blue-wings remain each 
summer to breed in Louisiana. The general im- 
pression seeiried to be that this is a rather new 





Drawing by R. I. Brasher 

BLUE- WINGED TEAL (5 nat. size) 
It becomes quite gentle and tame under protection 



Photo by H. K. Ji-li r. mrtisy of Outing fub. to. 

BLUE- WINGED TEALS 

About one month old 

thing, and that they are breeding further south 
than usual because of protection. For the same 
reason, since the abolition of spring shooting, 
they are said to be nesting more and more in the 
central-western States. The Green-wing, how- 
ever, still elects to go well to the north. 

The Blue-wing is the common summer Teal of 
the open prairie regions of the northwest. In 
selecting its nesting-site it does not retire as far 
from the water as the Green-wing, but generally 
chooses the thick growth of prairie grass of the 
jireceding year's growth, only a few rods back 
from the shallow marshy sloughs. Sometimes, 
however, it is placed on the dry prairie, half a 
mile from water. 

The mother Blue-wing always approaches 
her nest with great caution, not flying directly to 
it, but, alighting at a distance, she sneaks through 
the s^rass and weeds. In leaving the nest she 



DUCKS 



125 



pulls over it the blanket of gray down which 
she has plucked from her breast as a lining, en- 
tirely concealing the eggs, and making the ne t 
practically invisible. After returning she sits 
very close, allowing herself almost to be stepped 
on before she will leave. Confident of her 
powers of concealment, she seem;, more apt than 
most other Ducks, except perhaps the other 
Teals, the Pintail, and the Shoveller, to nest 
carelessly near the haunts of man, in the prairie 
regions of her choice. The nests of these con- 
fiding Duck mothers may be placed beside a path 
or road, in a cattle-yard, or near a house. One 
summer I was at a hunter's camp just back from 
Lake Manitoba, and many times a day we fol- 
lowed a little path to the water. One day a boy 
walked a little off the trail, and came tearing 
back to camp to report having flushed a Duck 
from her eggs. It was a nest of this species, 
only a dozen feet from the path, in the prairie 
grass. 

The Blue-wing prefers little shallow marshv 
pools, or meadows and bogs, tn the larger open 
waters. Its food in the ponds includes much 
vegetable matter, seeds, grasses, pondweeds, etc. 



It also at times devours snails, tadpoles, and 
manv insects. 




Photo by H. K. Jut- Courtesy ul Uuting Pub. Co. 

NEST OF BLUE-WINGED TEAL 

Formerly in North Dakota I used to see it. 
often with the Shoveller or the Pintail, almost 
wherever there was the merest puddle by the 
roadside, in spring and early summer. Let us 
hope that it may continue abundant and intimate 
on the western farm. Herbert K. Job. 



CINNAMON TEAL 
Querquedula cyanoptera ( [ 'ieiUot ] 



.\. O. U. Number 141 



Other Names. — South .American Teal ; Red-breasted 
Teal- 
General Description. — Length. 17 inches. Males 
have the head and under parts chestnut, and the upper 
parts brown. Females are dark brown above, variegated 
with lighter, and whitish below, mottled with brown. 

Color. — Adult M,\le: Head, neck, and entire 
under parts, rich purplish chestnut, browner on crown 
and chin, blackening on center of abdomen; under tail- 
coverts, dark brown; fore-back, a lighter shade of same 
color crossed by brown curved bars ; lower back and 
rump, greenish-brown, the feathers edged with paler ; 
wing-coverts, cobalt-blue ; some of the shoulder feathers, 
blue on outer web with a yellow center stripe ; others, 
dark green, also with center stripe; speculum, bright 
green framed between white tips of greater coverts and 
white ends of secondaries; bill, dusky; feet, orange. 



webs, darker; iris, brown, -\dult Fe.m.^le: Quite 
similar to female Blue-winged Teal, but larger with 
longer bill and under parts with some tinges of the 
chestnut color of the male; bill, dusky, paler below 
and along edges ; feet dull yellowish ; iris, brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: In tall grass, usually near 
water; very well constructed of woven grass and lined 
with feathers and down. Eggs: g to 13. creamy-white. 

Distribution. — North and South America ; breeds in 
North .America from southern British Columbia, south- 
western Alberta, Wyoming, and Western Kansas south 
to northern Lower California, southern New Me.xico 
and southwestern Texas ; winters from southern Cali- 
fornia, central New Mexico and southern Texas south 
to southern Lower California and central Me.xico ; rare 
east of the louth meridan ; occurs in South America 
from Peru and Brazil south to the Falkland Islands. 



There are several curious facts concerning the United States apparently was in Louisiana near 

Cinnamon Teal. It seems to have been first the town of Opelousas in 1849, but strangely 

described from a specimen taken in the far- enough it is now seldom seen in that State. At 

away Straits of Magellan early in the 19th about that time, indeed, it appeared frequently 

century. Its first recorded appearance in the in the lower valley of the Mississippi, but its 



126 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



normal range now appears to be much further to 
the west and south, for reasons which are not 
apparent. It is now essentially a bird of the West. 

A flock of Cinnamon Teals in the water are 
likely to present an enlivening spectacle, as the 
males often engage in some sort of play not im- 
like the bov's game of leap-frog. 

" The Cinnamon Teal nests very commonly in 



the lake region of southern Oregon. I have seen 
it nesting all through this section from Kla- 
math Lake to Malheur Lake. In some places in 
southern Oregon it is more abundant than the 
Mallard or the Pintail. I think sportsmen often 
mistake the female for the Blue-winged Teal, 
because of the blue wing-markings." (W. L. 
Finlcv, MS.) 



SHOVELLER 

Spatula clypeata ( Linnccus) 

A. () L', Xumber 142 See I'olor Plate 14 



Other Names. — Spoonbill; Spoonbill Duck; Spoon- 
bill Teal ; Broady ; Blue-winged Shoveller ; Red-breasted 
Shoveller; Shovel-bill; Swaddle-bill; Butter Duck; 
Cow-trog. 

General Description. — Length. 17 to 21 inches. 
Males have the colors green, white, blue, black, grayish- 
brown, and red in patches, while the females are pale 
brownish-yellow with spots and streaks of dusky. Both 
sexes have the bill long and clumsy and broadened at 
the tip. 

Color. — Adult M.'VLe; Head and neck, dark glossy 
green ; lower neck and forc-brcasi, pure white, e.xtend- 
ing almost around body; a narrow line from green of 
head down back of neck and back, dark grayish-brown 
shading into black on rump and upper tail-coverts ; 
shoulders, broadly white; icing-covcrts and some outer 
feathers of shoulders, dull cobalt: speculum, rich green 
set between white tips of greater coverts and black and 
white tips of secondaries ; the long inner secondaries, 
greenish-black with white stripe; lozvcr breast, abdoinen. 
and sides, purplish-chestnut, lightening behind, followed 
by a white space ; center tail-feathers, dusky ; outer 
ones, white; under tail-coverts, black; bill, purplish 



dusky ; feet. vermilioTi or orange ; iris, orange or 
yellow. .^nuLT Female: Ground color all over, pale 
brownish-yellow closely and narrowly streaked on" 
crown, finely spotted on sides of head and neck all 
around with dusky; feathers of back and sides, broadly 
brownish-black, leaving only narrow edges of the 
lighter color ; wing as in male but coloration duller ; 
bill, yellowish shading to dull greenish at tip with 
some orange below and at base; iris, yellow; feet, dull 
orange. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: Located in the marshes or 
in dry grass or under bushes; constructed of grass 
and leaves, and lined with feathers and down. EcGS : 
8 to 14. olive-greenish or buffy. 

Distribution. — Northern hemisphere; in North 
.America breeds from Alaska. Mackenzie and southern 
Keewatin south to southern California, central New 
Me.xico, northern Texas, northern Missouri and north- 
ern Indiana ; winters from southern British Columbia 
across the United States on about the parallel 35° south 
to the West Indies, Colombia, and Hawaii : in migra- 
tion occasional in Bermuda, and north to Nova Scotia 
and Newfoundland. 




Drawing by R. Bmce Horsfall 

SHOVELLER (i nat. size) 
A quaint Duck, always carrying with it a prodigious spoon 



DUCKS 



127 



Though it is the wise practice to try to estab- 
lish only one vernacular name for each species, I 
think that this Duck is better known as " Spoon- 
bill " by the average hunter and out-door person. 
Nor is this name absurd, as is sometimes the 
case with popular names. The bird certainly 
carries quite a prodigious spoon with it upon all 
occasions, and is never at a loss to use it deftly 
in its natural haunts. A popular name for it 
might well have been " mud-sucker." The great 
bill is edged with a long fringe of bristles, and 
the quaint little Duck, almost top-heavy in ap- 
pearance, paddles tlirough the slough, con- 
stantlv dabbling in water and ooze, which it takes 
into its bill, and, ejecting the refuse through its 
" sieve," retains whatever nutritious matter there 
may be. 

This is another fresh-water Duck which is 
scarce in eastern districts but common in the 
West. There it frequents the shallow sloughs 
and bogs. It seems to be more strictly insectivor- 
ous than some of the other Ducks. Though they 
were abundant in Louisiana in winter, and were 
associated with the many Pintails and Teals 
which ate the rice put out for them, the Shovellers 
seldom touched it, not that they were par- 
ticularly shy, but apparently because they pre- 
ferred the natural fare of bugs and aquatic 
growths. 

I have watched the Shovellers a good deal, as 
they nested in the prairie sloughs of the North- 
west. In spring the male is a very gaudy 
creature, far outshining his plain little wife as 
they swim in the slough. They are then quite 
tame and easy to observe, and I have seen them 
in roadside pools, and even in swamjiv barn- 
yards, where it seemed that they must be domes- 
ticated Ducks, until suddenly they flew away. 

Nesting is usually in rather thick grass, fre- 
quently only a short distance back from the edge 
of the slough, or even in a tussock on quite 
moist ground. Yet, on the other hand, it is often 
far back on the dry prairie, quite a distance from 
water. Really there is no accounting for the 
tastes of individual Ducks. 

Speaking of taste, in another sense, many 
people have the idea that the Shoveller is a lean, 
scrawny sort of bird, always thin and poor eat- 
ing. My experience has been that, on its winter 
grounds in the South, it is fat and luscious, quite 
as good as one of those delicious little morsels, 
the Teals. 

It is a rather delicate bird, and does not stand 

\'nl.. I — IC: 



the cold as well as many other Ducks. Hence it 
migrates fairly early and goes well to the South. 
If kept in captivity over winter in the North, 
both it and Teals should have some shelter from 
the worst of the winter weather. I have known 
them, in very bitter cold, to have their bills ac- 
cumulate balls of ice as the water trickled down 
tlie bristles and froze. Probably no better plan 
could be employed for wintering these delicate 
Ducks than the model aquatic house which we 
have adopted for this juirpose at the experiment 
station of the National Audubon Society at 
Amston. Conn. It is a small house built out in 




Photo by H. K. Job Courtesy of Outing Pub. Cr . 

YOUNG SHOVELLERS 



the water on posts, the inside being a swimming- 
pool and a float, with large frame windows to 
the south and west, to utilize all possible sun- 
shine. There the Ducks thrive in comfort all 
winter, without having the water freeze, even 
when 15 degrees below zero outside, and in spring 
thev are not reduced in vitality, and are in fine 
condition to breed. Herbert K. Job. 

"Audubon states that repeated insj)ections of 
stomachs of these species disclosed leeches, small 
fish, earthworms, and snails. It feeds also on 
aquatic plants, grasses, grass seeds, and bulbs, 
which it procures along the shores of small ponds 
which it frequents. It often feeds by wading 
and dabbling in the mud, straining mud and 
water through its peculiarly constructed bill. 
Dr. James P. Hatch states that it feeds on 
aquatic insects, larva?, 'tadpoles, worms, etc., 
which it finds in shallow, muddy waters : also 
crustaceans, small mollusks and snails." ( For- 
liush. in Game Birds, Wild Find and Shore 
Birds.) 



128 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



PINTAIL 
Dafila acuta (Linnccns) 

A, O, U. Xumber 14J See Color Plate ij 



Other Names. — Male: Sprig-tail; Split-tail; Spike- 
tail; Picket-tail; Peak-tail; Sharp-tail; Sprit-tail; 
Spring-tail ; Spindle-tail ; Kite-tail ; Pigeon-tail ; Pheas- 
ant-dock ; Sea-pheasant. Female: Gray Duck; Pied 
Gray Duck ; Pied Widgeon. Either Sex : Winter 
Duck ; Lady-bird ; Long-necked Cracker ; Harlan ; Smee. 

General Description. — Length, 24 to 30 inches. 
Males are gray above and whitish below ; females are 
brown, varied on body with ocher and dusky. Both 
se.xes have the head small and not crested, the neck 
long, and the tail long and pointed with 16 feathers; 
in the male the two central tail-feathers are front 5 to 
Q inches in length. 

Color. — Adult Male : Head and neck above, dark 
brown glossed with green and purple; back of neck with 
a stripe shading into the gray color of back; back, finely 
waved with dusky and white; shoulder-feathers and 
long inner secondaries, striped lengthwise with velvety- 
black and silvery-gray ; lesser wing-coverts, plain gray ; 
ijreater co'i'erts. tipped xvith rufous or cinnamon, edging 
front of speculum ; speculum, greenish in front, bronzy 
with violet reflections behind where edged with the 
white tips of secondaries; tioo long central tail-feathers, 
black: the remaining fourteen tail-feathers, gray; 



throat, white running up behind back of head in a 
narrow stripe ; breast, abdomen and sides, whitish, finely 
waved with black on sides; under tail-coverts, black; 
bill and feet, grayish-blue; iris, brown. Adult Female: 
Head and neck all around, warm yellowish-brown with 
indistinct streaking; rest of plumage, varied with ocher, 
plain brown, and dusky; tail without long central 
feathers ; wing, as in male but much smaller ; bill, dusky 
bluish; feet, dull grayish-blue; iris, brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : On the ground, usually in 
tall bunches of prairie grass, near water; made of dry 
grass, snugly and warmly lined with down. Eccs : 7 
to 10, pale greenish to olive-bufif. 

Distribution. — Northern hemisphere ; in North 
America breeds on Arctic coast from Alaska to Kee- 
watin and south to southern California, southern Colo- 
rado, northern Nebraska, northern Iowa, and northern 
Illinois ; winters from southern British Columbia, 
Nevada, Arizona, southern Missouri ; southern Wis- 
consin, southern Ohio, Pennsylvania (rarely), and 
Delaware south to Porto Rico and Panama, and in 
Hawaii ; in migration occasional on the Atlantic coast 
to northern Ungava, Greenland, and Newfoundland, 
and in Bermuda. 



In other writings I have characterized the Pin- 
tail as the greyliound among waterfowl. It is an 
interesting, agile, swift-flying, hardy species, the 
male being wonderfully garbed in a most effec- 
tive blending of gray, white, and brown, surpass- 
ing many other birds of more gaudy hues. 



Though shy enough ordinarily, it becomes readily 
accustomed to luan. The young are easy to rear 
and grow up very tame. I predict that the time 
is not far distant when the domesticated Pin- 
tails will be almost as familiar as tame Mal- 
lards, and will be raised on preserves and estates 



^4 



^- 






U 




Photograph by H. K. Job 



PINTAILS 

Flying past blind and decoys, Little Vermilion Bay, Louisiana 



Courtesy of Outing Publishing Co. 



Plat.- It; 







r 



s^ 



1/ \ Jft,., 



\ ^^. 








^'^-. *^ 




PINTAIL /'"Jil'i <iriini I L.n^n^■ll-• 
MALfc 



DUCKS 



129 



for sporting purposes, for food, or for orna- 
ment. 

Though Pintails hrecd in the northerly parts 
of the continent, they also do so in our north- 
western States. They are hardy and early, arriv- 
ing in spring often before all the ice is out of the 
lakes. In northern Manitoba I have seen young 
on [une 25 that were fully fledged except that 
the primaries were nut (juite long enough for 
flight. The eggs must have been laid in late 
March or April when conditions there are de- 
cidedly wintry. The nest is usually in dry grass 
or in a clump of weeds. Small dry islands are 
favorite locations. Otherwise it seems to be 
placed quite regardless of proximity to water. 
Frequently I have foimd it far back on the dry 
prairie, probably a mile from the nearest slough. 
It is perhaps more flimsily built than with most 
other Ducks, and often has rather less down 
than the average. The number of eggs in a 
clutch has seemed to me, in my experience, to 
run slightly less than with other species, seven or 
eight being most common, and seldom over 
nine or ten. 

In migration it is not at all common in eastern 
waters, but in the Mississippi valley and west it 
is probably next to the Mallard in abundance. 
It prefers shallow ponds and marshy areas where 
grass and sedge grow from the water. In the 
sloughs where it breeds, tlie mated pairs swim- 



ming about make a beautiful sight, lu'cn in 
autumn when the male has lost for the time his 
distinctive plumage, the birds are quite distinct, 
owing to their slender forms and long necks, and 
their movements always have the air of grace and 
good breeding. In fact the Pintail is one of my 
special favorites. Though I prefer it alive, I 
must admit that it is very fine on the table, and 
that I had just as soon eat it as any other 13uck. 
(_)n one of my winter jaunts in Louisiana, the 
hunters of the party provided many a Pintail, 
and it was considered that one Duck at a meal 
for each man was just the right amount. 

By November the Pintails are abundant on the 
marshes of Louisiana where, in some localities, 
they winter by thousands. In the winter of 1915 
I found it the general testimony that this species 
had increased wonderfully in abundance during 
the last few seasons, which result was attributed 
directly to the stopping of spring shooting — that 
outrage against reason and conservation, now 
made an olTense by Federal Law and by our 
International Treaty. They were fond of grain, 
and, on putting this out, various Ducks, but 
chiefly Pintails, would assemble in large numbers 
to feast upon it, becoming so bold that I was 
able to film and to photograph large numbers of 
them from blinds, and even from the windows 
of our cabin on the marsh. 

Hekbekt K. Joii. 



WOOD DUCK 



Aix sponsa 

A. O. U. Number 144 

Other Names. — Summer Duck; The Bride; Bridal 
Duck; Wood Widgeon; Acorn Duck; Tree Duck. 

General Description. — Length, 20 inches. Males are 
green, blue, and purple above with white streaks, and 
red, yellow, and wliite below. Females are brown above, 
and yellowish-brown and whitish below. Both sexes 
have long, full crests ; the bill narrow, higher at base 
than wide; the tail long with soft, broad feathers. 

Color, — Adult Male: Head, including crest, irides- 
cent green and purple; a narrow white line from bill 
over eye to rear of crest ; another commencing behind 
eye and running to nape ; a broad white patch on throat 
forking behind, one streak curving upward behind eye, 
the other curving on side of neck ; above, lustrous 
violet and bronzy green ; shoulders and long inner 
secondaries, velvet-black glossed with purple and green ; 
a greenish-blue speculum bounded by white tips of 
secondaries behind ; primaries, white-edged and frosted 
on webs near end ; upper tail-coverts and tail, deep 
dusky black; sides and front of lowrr iicck and breast, 
rich purplish-chestnut evenly marked with small l- 
shaped white spots: a large black crescent in front of 
wing preceded by a white one ; sides, yellowish-gray 



( Liu)icrus) 

See Color Plate 14 

waved with fine black bars; rest of under parts, white; 
lengthened flank feathers falling in a tuft of rich 
purplish-red below wing; bill, white in center, black on 
ridge, tip, and below, with a square patch at base of 
lake-red ; feet, yellowish-orange ; iris and lids, crimson. 
Adult Fem.^le: Crest small; head and neck, grayish- 
brown, darker on crown ; feathers at base of bill nar- 
rowly all around, chin, upper throat, and a broad circle 
around eye running into a streak behind, pure ^t'hite; 
upper parts, brown with some gloss ; fore-neck and 
sides of body, yellowish-brown streaked with darker; 
breast spotted indistinctly with brown; abdomen, wlute; 
bill, grayish with a white spot in center, reddish at base; 
feet, dusky yellow ; iris, brownish red. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: In a hollow tree from 20 
to 40 feet from ground, lined with feathers and down. 
Egcs: 8 to 14. creamy-wliite. 

Distribution. — Temperate North America ; breeds 
from southern British Columbia eastward on about the 
parallel 46° to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, south 
to central California. Texas and Florida; winters chiefly 
in United States from about 37° southward ; accidental 
in Bermuda, Mexico, Jamaica, and Europe. 



130 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



The Wood Duck is one of the most richly 
and beautifully colored birds of the United 
States, and, for a migratory bird, is peculiarly 




:*i^ 



Photo by H. K. Jub 

MALE WOOD DUCK 



In one case which I witnessed, a Golden-eye, 
emerging from quite a narrow slit, had fairly to 
wriggle from side to side to force its way out. 

After the nesting season the Wood Ducks are 
seen in small flocks, probably family parties. 
They frequent the wooded swamps, and fiy out 
to the more open ponds and streams about dusk. 
Where dead trees or branches have fallen into 
water, a typical sight, to be witnessed by 
creejiing very silently through the bushes, is 
a row of these beautiful Ducks standing on 
the fallen timber enjoying the sunshine, some 
asleep, with bills under the wing-coverts, others 
preening their feathers, but all appearing very 
well contented with their lot in life. 

This bird was classed by the Government as 
one of our vanishing species. This aroused 
widespread concern, and caused a number of 
States to prohibit shooting for terms of years ; 



ours, in that it breeds nearly all over our national 
domain, from north to south, and in winter 
it mostly remains within our borders. More 
than any other Duck it is a woodland bird. It 
frequents ponds and streams which are bordered 
by woods, and makes excursions, a-wing or a- 
foot, or both, back from water into the real 
woods, where it devours nuts, as well as what- 
ever insect or other small life it encounters. 1 
have examined specimens, taken in the fall, 
which had their crops completely filled with 
whole acorns. Such a meal, surely, should 
" stand by " for a long time ! 

The regular natural nesting site is in a hollow 
tree, preferably in the woods, and it is often 
quite a distance back from water. Owing to the 
increasing scarcity of large hollow trees, these 
Ducks seem at times hard pressed to find suit- 
able locations. On a farm in Connecticut back 
from a pond, an old apple tree growing in a 
pig-pen by the barn was cut down, and, in 
chopping open a hollow branch, eleven eggs of 
the Wood Duck were discovered, though never 
had a Duck been seen about the premises. About 
a mile from this place another farmer showed me 
a nest with ten eggs at the top of the hay in his 
barn, up near the roof. The mother Duck came 
through a broken clapboard up near the peak 
of the roof, dug a hollow in the hay, and lined 
it with down from her breast. Still another nest. 
on this same farm, was in an apple tree of the 
orchard. A couple of miles away another was 
in a large maple beside the highway, so low 
down than one could just peer in from the 
ground. It is surprising through what a small 
hole a Duck can pass to enter and leave a nest. 




of S. A. Lottndge 

NEST AND EGGS OF WOOD DUCK 

The regular nesting site is in a hollow tree, preferably in the 
woods, and is often a distance from water 

the same action was adopted also by Federal 
regulations. There seems now to be a marked 
change for the better, in which result artificial 



DUCKS 



iM 



propas^ation is playing an important part. It 
had been found that this Duck, through some- 
what pecuhar but jierfectiy practicable methods, 
can be bred and reared in captivity, birds thus 
raised bringing high prices. Unite an industry 
arose in breeding American Wood Ducks in 
Holland and selling them in America. Now we 



have learned the process ourselves, and anyijne 
who desires can breed these beautiful birds in 
almost any small fenced i)ool or pond. To those 
who desire it, the National Association of Au- 
dubon Societies, through its Department of Ap- 
plied Ornithology, imparts detailed information 
and furnishes literature. Herbert K. Tor. 



REDHEAD 
Marila americana (Eyton) 

.\. O. U. Xuniber 146 See Color ri.-ite t6 



Other Names. — American Pochard or Poachard ; 
Red-liL-ailed P.roadbill ; Raft Duck; Red-headed Raft 
Duck. 

General Description. — Length, 2j inches. Males 
have the head red, the neck and fore part of the body 
blackish, and the remainder of the body silver-gray 
above and on the sides with a center line below of 
white : females have tlie head duller and paler and the 
back browner. Both sexes have the bill short, the skull 
rounded and high-arched, the feathers on the head 
fresenting a puffy af'fearance, and the hind toe with a 
web or lobe. 

Color. — Adult Male : The entire head and the 
neck all around, rich pure chestnut with bronzy reflec- 
tions ; back, white crossed with fine black wavy lines, 
the colors about equal in amount, producing a distinct 
silvery-gray shade ; sides of body, the same ; lower neck 
and fore-parts of body with rump and tail-coverts 
above and below, blackish ; wing-coverts, gray finely 
dotted with white ; speculum, ash, bordered inside with 
black ; center line of body below, whitish ; bill, dull 
blue with a black band on end ; feet, grayish-blue with 



dusky webs: iris. yetlozs.'ish-oraitge. Adult Fem.\lk: 
Head and upper neck, dull brownish-red, fading to 
whiter on cheeks, chin, and a space behind eye ; upper 
parts, brownish, the feathers with paler edges; breast 
and sides, brownish, remainder of lower parts, white; 
bill, dull grayish-blue with brown belt near end ; feet 
and iris, as in male. 

Nest and Eggs. — \est : On ground near water or 
in a clump of dead reeds over the water; bulky but 
well-constructed and lined with down. Eggs : 7 to 10, 
pale nlive or light buff. 

Distribution. — North .America ; breeds from south- 
ern British Columbia, central Alberta, central Sas- 
katchewan, and southwestern Keewatin soutli to south- 
ern California, Utah, southern South Dakota, southern 
Minnesota, and southern Wisconsin ; winters from 
southern British Columbia, Utah, New Me.xico, Kansas, 
Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, and Massachusetts south 
to Lower California, central Mexico, and Florida; 
accidental in Jamaica ; in migration casual in Alaska 
and regularly on the .Atlantic coast north to southern 
Labrador. 



In the Redhead we have the counter|)art of the 
Canvas-back. The young of either can hardly be 
distinguished save by the shape of the bill, es- 
])ecially in the downy stage. Later they grow 
more apart, yet they retain many resemblances. 
Many a person who thinks he has eaten Canvas- 
back has very likely dined instead on Redhead. 

It is usual to find the Redhead the more 
numerous of the two, though along the Gulf 
coast of Louisiana, where Audubon found Red- 
heads in plenty, I have found them now to be 
rare, even in sections where the Canvas-back is 
abundant. Like the latter, it is found mostly on 
the sea-coast or on the larger bodies of water 
inland. It feeds much by diving, catching small 
fish and other aquatic life. Also it is partial to 
roots and shoots of aquatic plants. I have 




i'lioto by n. K. Ji.b CfUrtisy of Ouung I'ub. Cu 

YOUNG REDHEADS 
Eighteen days of age 



132 



BIRDS UF AMERICA 



watched both species together diving, and both 
exhibit tlie same skill and celerity in this pursuit, 
with no noticeable difference. 

This species, like the others, breeds in the 
sloughs and marshes of the Northwest, in about 
the same localities, but is generally the more 
common. Wherever I have found the Canvas- 
back breeding, the Redhead has been there too. 
whereas the converse is not true ; there are many 
sloughs in which Redheads breed where there 
are no Canvas-backs. If there is any distinction 
in the choice of nesting-sites, I should say that 
the Redhead is even more apt than the other to 
build out in reeds or canes growing in quite deep 
water. In northern Manitoba, on Lake W'inni- 
pegosis, in places where the Canvas-back was 
nesting in meadows in the sedge, with water not 
knee-deep, I found Redhead nests among the 
outer reeds on the margins of boggy ponds. 
where one needed a canoe to reach them. 

Perhaps the Redhead is not more prolific than 

' any other Duck, but I have found larger numbers 

of eggs in some of their nests than is at all usual 

with others, the maximum number being twent\- 

tv^^o, the most I ever found in a wild Duck's 



with a very smooth glossy surface, almost like 
billiard balls, and easy to recognize. 

In the Northwest where wild Ducks nest in 
abundance, it is not uncommon for individual 




Photo by H. K. Jul: Cjurtesy ot Outing Pub. Co. 

NEST OF REDHEAD 

Built over water on edge of channel in a clump of flags and 
rushes 

nest, and all fertile and advanced in incubation. 
The eggs are quite different from those of the 
Canvas-back, being yellowish-white in color, and 




Plioto by H i. J CouilLby uf Uutmg Pub. Cu. 

HARDY AND DOCILE 

Some more young Redheads 

Ducks to lay in each other's nests. The Red- 
head and the Ruddy Duck seemed to me to be 
especially addicted to the practice. They laid 
rather freely in each other's nests, and fre- 
(juently palmed off their offspring thus on the 
unsuspecting Canvas-back. 

Both kinds have been kept and studied in cap- 
tivity. I have reared both from the egg to ma- 
turity, and under my direction have had both 
kinds breed. Though the young of both were 
(|uite easily reared, the Redhead presents fewer 
difficulties than the Canvas-back. It breeds more 
readily under favorable conditions, and the young 
are especially hardy and docile, though the young 
Canvas-backs, too, are quite manageable. Most 
experimenters, in time past, have had much less 
difficulty ill keeping Redheads than Canvas-backs 
under artificial conditions. 

As a result of this line of experimental re- 
search, I am confident that in the not distant 
future both kinds will regularly be propagated 
on estates where there are suitable ponds. 

Herbert K. Job. 



DUCKS 



CANVAS-BACK 
Marila valisineria { IJ'ils<>ii ] 



A. (). l". Niinitjer 147 See Color Plate 16 



Other Names. — White-back ; Btill-neck ; Can. 

General Description. — Length. -'4 inches. Males 
have the head red, the lower part of the neck and the 
fore part of the body blackish, and tlie remainder of 
the body grayish-white above with a center line below 
of white; females have the head and neck yellowish- 
brown and the body grayish-brown. Both sexes have 
tlic profile long and sloping (lines of head and bill 
nearly one), bill three times as long as wide, and hind 
toe with web or lobe. 

Color. — x'Kdult ^[-\le : Feathers of entire head and 
upper neck (all around) dark reddish-brown, obscured 
on the crown and in front of eye and throat by dusky; 
upper parts, white very finely waved with narrow black 
zigzag bars, the general effect inucii lighter than in the 
Redhead ; rest of plumage substantially as in that bird 
but upper tail-coverts and rear parts in general, grayer ; 
bill, plain dusky bluish, not banded: feet, grayish-blue; 
iris. red. Adult Female : Very similar to tlie female 



Redhead; head and neck, more brownish without rufous 
shade but easily distinguislied from that bird />v the 
niueh longer and differently shaped bill: iris, reddish- 
brown ; bill and feet, as in tlie male Canvas-back. 

Nest and Eggs.— Nest : Usually in tall rushes or 
reeds near water; bulky; constructed of dry grass and 
reeds; lined with down. Egcs ; 6 to 10, pale olive 
green. 

Distribution. — Whole of North America, breeding 
from Oregon, Nevada, Nebraska and southern Minne- 
sota northward to southwestern Keewatin, Great Slave 
Lake, Fort Yukon, and central British Columbia ; winters 
from southern British Columbia, Nevada, Colorado, 
Illinois, Pennsylvania, and western New York south to 
central Mexico and Gulf coast; in winter formerly 
abundant in Maryland, Vir,ginia, and North Carolina, 
now rare; occasional south to Florida, and casual in the 
West Indies, Bermuda, and Guatemala ; in migration 
north rarely to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. 



CANVAS-BACK (i nat. size) 
The king of waterfowl, famous for tfie flavor of its flesfi 

Dr.iwmg !iy R. I. Brasher 




134 



BIRDS OF AxMERICA 



Though the Canvas-back has acquired a great 
reputation for the flavor of its flesh, it is prob- 
able that this characteristic taste depends upon 




Photo by H. K. Job Courtesy ot Doubieday. Page & Co. 
TYPICAL NEST OF CANVAS-BACK 

the local food supply. Various water-plants 
besides the spicy wild celery please His Majesty, 
the assumed king of waterfowl, so he is not 
always spiced up. At various times when I 
have eaten Canvas-back, I really could not dis- 
tinguish it from other good-meated wild Ducks. 
In northern Manitoba the local hunters, I was 
told, when shooting, usually single out Mallards 
first, finding them meatier and fully as tasty. 

None the less is the Canvas-back a most fasci- 
nating waterfowl. Swifter than the proverbial 
arrow, the flocks fairly sing like bullets, as they 
pass down wind. Wonderfully agile and grace- 
ful are their movements in the water, especially 
when they leap headlong for the dive, leaving 
one to guess where they may rea]5pear. I once 
watched two Indians in the Northwest, each in 
a canoe, out on a large lake, trv to catch a large 
young Canvas-back not yet quite able to fly. It 
took them about an hour of the liveliest sort of 
work before the bird rose, winded, to the surface 
and let one of them pick it up. 

Its breeding-grounds are the marshes and 
sloughs of the interior Northwest — North 
Dakota, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and on up into 
the trackless wilds. There I have often found 



its nest, a semi-floating pile of dead stems, usu- 
ally amid a clump of reeds or rushes, or else in 
long sedge, but always in vegetation growing 
from water usually at least knee deep. The nest 
is a sort of deep wicker-basket, lined with dark 
gray down, in contrast with the white down of 
the Redhead. The eggs usually number eight to 
eleven, and are of a peculiar lead-bluish color, 
with some olive tinge, difi^ering from that of any 
other Duck. The ducklings are of a decided 
yellow-olive color. From the first they may be 
distinguished from others by the straight profile 
of the upper mandible, always characteristic of 
the Canvas-back. 

A most hardy species, it is driven southward 
only by the actual freezing of the lakes. Num- 
bers of them stay in Lake Cayuga, New York, 
and other similar bodies of water, till they some- 
times freeze in and perish. One of their princi- 
pal lines of migration is southeast across country 
from the breeding-grounds of the Northwest out 
to the Atlantic coast at Chesapeake Bav — a 
noted winter resort of the species. 




I'liut.j liy H. K. Job Courtesy of Outing Pub. Co 

CANVAS-BACK 
About six weeks old 

Despite incessant persecution, I think that the 
Canvas-back is on the increase, owing to the stop- 
ping of the suicidal practice of spring shoot- 



Courtesy of th.> N^^ York Stat.- Museunr 



Plate i6 



'f 



-jUC --•*■-»-■«■'"-»*— H^ « 



^*-» 



':3p. 











x-^ 



.A«> apitt'3 Su^ri^. 



REDHEAD 

Mania niit'-ncaiia (Kyton) 
MALES 

CANVAS-BACK 

Marilii i'ali-<intr>a (Wilson) 

MALES 

\M ; ii:it. size 



DUCKS 



135 



ing. Recently, I was studying waterfowl in 
the Mississippi Delta country, and was anchored 
off the exit of Pass, in a dense fog. This 
suddenly lifted, and we saw, stretched out be- 
fore us, a solid " bed " of Ducks, surely half a 
mile long and one hundred vards wide. The 



guide and I estimated that there were thirty-five 
thousand, over one-half of which were Canvas- 
backs. And this was but one of many such 
hordes along that coast. Cheer up, friends of 

lives ! 
Herbert K. Job. 



wild birds, the " King '' sti 



SCAUP DUCK 



Marila marila { Liniurus) 

A. O. U. Xumber 148 See Color Plate 17 



Other Names. — Mussel Duck; Green-head; Black- 
neck ; Gray-back ; Blue-bill ; Greater Blue-bill ; Blue- 
hilled Widgeon; Broad-bill; Raft Duck; Flock Duck; 
Shuffler ; Black-head ; Big Black-head ; Floating Fowl ; 
American Scaup Duck ; Greater Scaup Duck ; Troop- 
fowl. 

General Description. — Length. 20 inches. Males 
have the fore parts black, and the rest of the body white 
marked with black; females are dusky-brownish above 
and yellowish-brown below. Both sexes have the bill 
short and wide, and the hind toe with web or lobe. 

Color. — .A.DULT M.ale: Entire head, ticck. and fore 
parts of body, black with green and bluish reflections ; 
middle of back, shoulders, and most of under parts, 
white, everywhere e.xcept on flanks and abdomen 
marked with fine transverse zigzag lines of black; wing- 
coverts similar but more obscurely waved ; greater 
coverts, tipped with black ; speculum, white framed in 
black of greater coverts and ends of secondaries ; 



primaries, brownish-black; bill, dull bluish-gray with 
black nail; feet, bluish-gray; webs, dusky; iris, yellow. 
Adult Female; A belt of pure 'a'hite around face at 
base of bill: black parts of male replaced by dusky- 
brown ; upper parts in general, dusky-brownish without 
black marking ; wing, as in male ; below yellowish- 
brown, duskier on breast and along sides ; center line of 
body, whitisli ; liill, legs, and eyes as in male. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : In marshy ground, made 
of weeds, grass and lined with down. Eggs: 9 to 12. 
pale buffy-olive or olive-gray. 

Distribution. — Northern part of northern hemis- 
phere ; in North America breeds from about the par- 
allel 48° northward, rarely on Magdalen Islands, in 
Ontario, and Michigan ; winters from Maine to Florida 
and the Bahamas, and from Alaska, Nevada, Colorado 
and Lake Ontario south to southern California, south- 
ern New Mexico, and southern Texas ; in migration rare 
in central Ungava, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia. 








jt,- 



'ii'ji jgraph by A. A. Allen 



SCAtrP DUCKS 
Flying over Cayuga Lake 



136 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



Scaup is the European name of this bird but it 
will hardly be recognized under that title by 
American gunners. Here it is known as the 
Broad-bill, Blue-bill, Blue-billed Widgeon, Wid- 
geon, etc. It seems more inclined to migrate to 
salt water than does the Lesser Scaup, but this 
may be because its winter habitat is more north- 
ern and it is more likely to be driven to the open 
sea by the freezing of the fresh water. It i;- 
common in winter in the unfrozen marshes and 
lakes of central New York, but if these freeze it 
must go to the sea or starve. Therefore, the 
species is often more numerous in the late winter 
and early spring on the coastal waters than it is 
in the autumn and early winter while the lakes 
remain open. 

These birds breed mainly in the Northwest in 
marshes and about numerous small ponds. Those 
that migrate to the Atlantic coast winter chiefly 
from Massachusetts to Chesapeake Bay, while 
farther south their place is taken mainly by the 



Lesser Scaup. They are swift flyers, showing a 
stripe of wliite on the wing as they pass in a 
characteristic waving line. The male may be 
distinguished from the male Lesser Scaup, which 
he closely resembles, by the color of the head 
which has a greenish luster in contrast with the 
purplish cast common on that of the lesser bird. 
At a distance both appear black; therefore, they 
are called Black-heads, indiscriminately. The 
white faces of the females of both species are 
very conspicuous. 

The Scaup is an excellent diver and when it 
has been feeding in the interior on the roots of 
the wild celery (vallisneria) and other water 
plants, its flesh is fit for the epicure, and even 
when it feeds on the eel grass and other vegeta- 
tion on salt marshes and flats it is fairly well 
flavored, but after it has fed for a time in salt 
water on crustaceans and mollusks it grows 
fishy and is not highly prized for the table. 

Edward Howe Forbush. 



LESSER SCAUP DUCK 
Marila affinis (Evton) 



A. O. U. Number 149 See Color Plate 17 



Other Names. — Black Jack ; River Broad-bill ; 
Creek Broad-bill; and names of the Scaup Duck with 
or without qualifying terms. 

Length. — 17 inches. 

Description. — Adult Male ; Varies principally from 
the Scaup Duck in size ; iridescence of head chiefly 
pur/'le; flank feathers finely marked with black in a 
zigzag pattern; otherwise similar. Adult Female: 
Very similar to the female Scaup Duck but smaller and 
with breast and sides more inclined to rufous-brown. 



Nest and Eggs. — Similar to Scaup, eggs averaging 
smaller. 

Distribution. — North America at large ; breeds from 
the northern borders of the United States northward; 
more rarely to southern Montana, Colorado, northern 
Iowa, northern Indiana, and western Lake Erie ; 
winters from southern British Columbia, Nevada, Colo- 
rado, Lake Erie, and New Jersey south to the Bahamas, 
Lesser Antilles, and Panama ; rare in migration in New- 
foundland, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. 



The species of marine Duck which is probably 
under more general observation than any other 
is the Lesser Scaup. These are the Ducks which 
are seen in great " rafts " or " beds " just off- 
shore in harbors or bays in winter and early 
spring nearly all along the Atlantic coast, from 
Long Island Sound to Florida. They feed, by 
diving, largely on mollusks or other sluggish 
marine life. 

A flock settles on the water over some mussel- 
bed or clam-flat, and the members are soon 
diving actively. Another passing flock sees 
and joins it, and so on, until there may be 
several thousands. These usually stretch out 



into a long column, and keep swimming to wind- 
ward, after satisfying their htmger, the white- 
penciled backs of the males glistening bril- 
liantly in the sunshine. 

In some localities, where they are not perse- 
cuted, these flocks become quite tame. At Tampa, 
Florida, they swim up right among the vessels 
lying at the wharves. The greatest sight is at 
Palm Beach, Florida, in Lake Worth. There 
flocks of them swim close up to the boat-land- 
ings back of the hotels. Guests throw out bread 
and are wonderfully amused to see wild Ducks 
fight for food within six to ten feet of their bene- 
factors. Sometimes thev even take food from 



Q- 



r 



S ! 



i '^ 







I 



< - 



V < 

9:^ S 






DUCKS 



'o/ 



the outstretclK'tl hand. The strangest part of 
this is that when they fly outside the protected 
area they heconie as shy as ever. 

Hardy. Hke all the marine Ducks, they are 
especially late in arriving in autumn along the 
Atlantic coast of the United States. Little is 
seen of them till Xovemher. .\t hrst they seem 
inclined to keep out on the open sea. and the 
gunners get little chance at them before severe 
cold drives them in. 

One reason for this tardiness is that, next to 
the White-winged Scoter, the Scaup is ordinarily 
the last Duck to breed. Thev nest in the same 



of July. As it is ten or eleven weeks before they 
can fly, the young are not a-wing before late 
September or early October. 

The nests are not usually built out over the 
water like those of the Canvas-back and Red- 
head, but either in weeds or .grass on a dry shore, 
a little back from the water's edge, or else in a 
hrni tussock of meadow grass, right at the 
margin of a boggy slough, where the female 
can slip into the water from the nest. 

I have raised the young by hand, and I'lnd them 
especially interesting. At lirst they are rather 
wild, great on jumping, but soon they become 




Photo^^raph L ; 



LESSER SCAtn' DUCKS 
At Palm Beach, Florida, in March 



uf Houghton 



prairie marshes of the Northwest as do the Can- 
vas-back and Redhead. There I have found that 
their layings are not complete until about the 
middle of June. The first young broods are 
generally seen in the sloughs toward the middle 



very docile. Their soft downy suits are of rich 
dark olive-brown color, and they erect their 
crown-feathers somewhat under excitement, 
which gives them quite a striking appearance. 

Herbert K. Job. 



RING-NECKED DUCK 
Marila collaris (Donovan) 

.\. O, U. Xuniber 150 See Color Plate 17 



Other Names. — Ring-hill ; Moon-bill ; Marsh Blue- 
bill ; Black Jack; Bunty; Rin,s;-billed Blackhead; Bas- 
tard Broad-bill ; Ring-necked Scaup Duck ; Ring-necked 
.Scaup; Ring-neck; Ring-billed Duck. 

General Description. — Length, 18 inches. Males 
have head, upper parts, and breast black, and remaining 



lower parts white; females have upper parts brown, and 
lower parts yellowish-brown and white. 

Color. — .^.DULT M.\le: Head and neck all aroimd 
lustrous black with purple reflections ; extreme chin, 
white; chestnut riiu/ around lower neck: fore-breast 
and upper parts, black; speculum, bhn'sh-gray ; under 



138 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



parts from breast, white ; lower abdomen and sides, 
finely marked with black ; tail and under tail-coverts, 
black ; wings, dark brown ; bill, black with bluish-gray 
base and a band of same color near tip; feet, grayish 
blue with dusky webs; iris, yellow. Adult Female: 
Forehead, narrowly, sides of face more broadly, pure 
white; rest of head, umber-brown, lightening on cheek 
and throat; a white eye-riny ; upper parts, dusky- 
brown ; breast, sides of body, brown, variegated with 
lighter; abdomen, white; wing as in male; speculum, 
duller, bill, legs, similar to male ; iris, brownish-yellow. 



Nest and Eggs. — Nest : On the ground in marshes ; 
made of dry grass and leaves and lined with down. 
Eggs: 6 to 12, usually 9 or 10, rarely 15, grayish-white 
to buff. 

Distribution. — North America in general ; breeds 
from northern California, North Dakota, northern Iowa 
and southern Wisconsin northward; winters from 
southern British Columbia, New Mexico, northern 
Texas, southern Illinois and New Jersey south to Porto 
Rico and Guatemala ; occurs in migration north to 
Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Quebec. 



Distinctive peculiarities about the Ring-necked 
Ducl< are that it is ahuost never seen in large 
flocks, and seldom in open water. It swims 
buoyantly, and is much given to raising its head 
with a swan-like movement of its neck, and to 
erecting the feathers on the back of its head. It 
rises readily, from water or land, its wings 
whistling faintly ; its flight is swift and direct. 



It is expert at diving and in that way captures 
many minnows, crawfish, snails, tadpoles, and 
frogs, though a considerable portion of its food 
consists of the roots of aquatic plants and seeds. 
Nowhere is this Duck recorded as very com- 
mon. It resembles the Lesser Scaup in appear- 
ance, size, and habits, and the two species mingle 
together. 



GOLDEN-EYE 

Clangula clangula americana Bonaparte 

.\. O. U. X umber 151 See Culor Plate 18 



Other Names. — Golden-eyed Duck ; American Golden- 
eye ; Garrot ; Whistler; Whistle-Duck; Whistle-wing; 
Brass-eyed Whistler; Whififler ; Jingler; Merry-wing; 
Great-head; Bull-head; Iron-head ; Cub-head ; Copper- 
head; Cur; Spirit Duck. 

General Description. — Length, 20 inches. Males 
have the head greenish-black, the fore part and sides 
of the body white, and the back and tail black; females 
have the head and back brown and the under parts 
grayish. Both sexes have fluffy crests, and bills that 
are short,-.high at the base, and narrowed near the tip. 

Color.-^'^BULT Male: Head and neck, glossy grecn- 
ish-black ; a large oval spot in front and heton' eye, 
'white ; lower neck, under parts, middle and greater wing- 
coverts, most secondaries, and some shoulder-feathers, 
white; long inner secondaries, edge of wing, primary 
coverts, primaries and back, black; tail, ashy ; some flank 
feathers with narrow dusky streaks on top edge ; bill. 



dusky with yelloiv tip; feet, orange, dusky webs; iris, 
yellow. Adult Female: Chin, upper throat and head 
all around, brown ; neck and entire lower parts, dull 
whitish, shaded on breast and sides with ashy ; upper 
parts, brownish ; some feathers of upper back with 
lighter edges ; upper tail-cover'ts, tipped with pale 
brown; bill, feet, and eye as in male; white wing 
spaces much more restricted. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: In hollow tree, made of 
grass, leaves, and moss and lined with down. Eggs: 
9 to 12, light greenish. 

Distribution. — North America ; breeds from central 
Alaska, across British America to Newfoundland, south 
to southern British Columbia, southern Montana, north- 
ern North Dakota, northern Michigan, northern New 
York, and northern New England ; winters from about 
the parallel 43° south to southern California, central 
Mexico and Florida. 



The Golden-eye is commonly known as the 
Whistler because of the peculiar penetrating 
whistle made by its wings in flight. There are 
times when these cutting strokes can be heard 
even before the bird itself can be clearly made 
out. The \Miistler breeds from just above the 
latitude of Massachusetts northward to the limit 
of trees, making its nest in a hollow tree near 
some fresh-water pond or river. It breeds in 



the interior of Alaska, but is very rarely seen on 
the coast. It is found almost throughout the 
interior of North America, and is distinctively a 
fresh-water bird until the frosts of winter begin 
to close the ponds and rivers, when most of the 
Whistlers in New England go to the salt water. 
Some, however, still remain in the unfrozen 
fresh waters of the North, South, and West. 
The Whistler is a remarkably active bird, 



riosv of the New Yofk Slate Mijseun 



Plate i8 




...i^a*-^'' 



M 






••1" 



"!*• 




^a/? Q^ass^e. ^er/^^. 



AMERICAN GOLDEN-EYE '7,,„„„/„ ,/„„,,„,„ „„ 

MALE 



n.niiii Hi.M:i|i:irlr 
FEMALE 



DUCKS 



139 



dives like a Bash, and rarely conies well to decoys. 
It has learned to be extremely wary and cau- 
tious, but in stormy weather it often keeps close 
to shore, which gives the shore gunner his 
chance. It does not always dive fur its food, but 
sometimes dabbles in the mud along the shore 
with Blue-bills or other Ducks. Offshore il 
feeds largely on mussels, which it dislodges and 
brings up from the bottom, .\udubon found it 
feeding on crawfish on the Ohio River. Wayne 
says that in South Carolina a small mussel of 
salt or brackish water is its favorite food. 
Knight has observed it feeding on these and also 
on some vegetable substances. He states that it 
eats small fish and fry also, and along the coast 



it feeds on mussels and other moUusks ; but 
Elliot believes that in the interior the Whistler 
feeds on vegetable matter, such as grasses and 
roots. 

\\ hen feeding there and when it first comes 
to the salt water, in autumn, the young are 
fairly tender and well-flavored, being about on 
a par with the Blue-bill as a table delicacy. 
Some of the residents of Cape Cod consider it 
sujierior to the Scoters. Nuttall says that it 
eats fresh-water vegetation, such as the roots 
of Equisetums and the seeds of some species of 
Polygonums. 

Edward Howe h'okitusii, in Game Birds. 
irHd-Fo'ti.'I and Shore Birds. 



BARROW'S GOLDEN-EYE 

Clangula islandica ( Giuelin) 



A. O, U. Number 152 



Other Names. — Rocky Mountain Garrot ; Rocky 
Mountain Golden-eye. 

Description. — Adui.t M.m.e : Coloration exactly as 
in Golden-eye except that the white sl^ot in front of eye 
1.9 IriiDKjle-shaped and white of wing is divided by a 
dark bar formed by bases of greater coverts ; averages 
larger than the Golden-eye; bill, differently shaped, 
being shorter and deeper at base. Adult Fem.^le: 
Indistinguishable froin the female Golden-eye in color 
but sejiarable by shape of bill. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest; In hollow trees; made of 



grass, leaves, and weed stems and lined with feathers 
and down. Eggs; 6 to lo, dull greenish. 

Distribution. — Northern North America ; breeds 
from south-central Alaska and northwestern Mackenzie 
to southern Oregon and southern Colorado, and from 
northern Ungava to central Quebec ; winters from 
southeastern Alaska, central Montana, the Great Lakes, 
and Gulf of St. Lawrence south to central California, 
southern Colorado, Nebraska, and New England ; acci- 
dental in Europe; breeds commonly in Iceland, and is a 
rare visitor to Greenland. 




Drawing by R. I. Brasher 

BARROWS GOLDEN-EYE (} nat. size) 

An active bird, diving like a flash, and rarely coining well to a decoy 



140 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



Barrow's Golden-eye closely resembles the 
American Golden-eye. It is not easy to dis- 
tinguish between the males at a distance and it 
is impossible to tell with certainty to which 



species the females and young belong. Their 
habits are also similar but the Harrow's breeds 
farther south and winters farther north. Its 
note is a low croaking sound. 



BUFFLE-HEAD 
Charitonetta albeola ( Linncnis) 

.\. O. U. .\umber 153 See Color Plate 10 



Other Names. — Buffle-headed Duck; Duffalo-headed 
Duck; Bumblebee Duck; Butter Duck; Butter-ball; 
Butter-bo.x ; Butter-back; Spirit Duck; Wool-head; 
Hell-diver; Conjuring Duck; Marionette; Dipper; 
Dipper Duck ; Dapper ; Dopper ; Robin Dipper ; Little 
Black and White Duck (male) ; Little Brown Duck 
(female). 

General Description. — Length, 15 inches. Males are 
black above, and white below ; females are grayish- 
brown above, and whitish below. 

Color. — .^DULT Male: Head, pulTy and crested, 
and iridescent, purple, and green; a large zvliitc patch 
OH each side behind eye, running some distance below 
eye and joining its felloiv over top of head; neck all 
around, under parts, shoulders, nearly all wing-coverts, 
and most secondaries, pure white; some shoulder 
feathers edged with black, forming a narrow length- 



This little Duck is widely known on fresh 
waters, for it is by nature a fresh-water bird, 
which in autumti and winter frequents the sea- 
shore. It was named Bufifle-head (or Buffalo- 
head) because of its large fluffy head, which 
looks particularly big when its feathers are 
erected. The Buffle-head was not much sought 
by gunners until within recent years. Its great 
weakness is a fondness for decoys. 

The male is a hatidsome bird ; its bright con- 
trasting tints are highly ornamental, but, as is 
usual among Ducks, the female is dull and incon- 
spicuous in color and much smaller. My youth- 
ful experience with the Dipper Duck convinced 
me at the time that it could dive quickly enough 
to dodge a charge of shot ; but its immunity 
from danger probably was due more to my in- 
experience and to the inferior quality of the gun 
and ammunition used than to the quickness of 
the bird. However, it dives like a flash, and is 
very likely to escape unless the gunner, warned 
by experience, uses a close shooting gun, judges 
well his distance and holds exactly right. \\'hen 
a few are together one usually keeps watch when 
the others are under water and warns them of 
danger by its short quack. 

In flight it hurls itself through the air with tre- 
mendous speed, its rapidly moving wings almost 
forming a haze about its glancing form, which 
buzzes straight away as if bound for the other 



wise line; back and upper parts, black; tail, grayish; 
bill, dull bluish-gray with black tip and base; feet, pale 
flesh color; iris, brown. Adult Female: Head, thinly 
crested, dusky-gray with a lighter patch on side; upper 
parts, grayish-brown ; icings the same zcitli small zi'hite 
areas; below, whitish shaded on sides of neck and body 
with ashy ; bill, feet, and iris, as in male. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: In hollow trees or stumps 
near water ; lined with down and feathers. Eggs : 9 
to 14 ; from creamy-white to buff or dull olive. 

Distribution. — ■ North America ; breeds from Maine, 
Ontario, Iowa, northern Montana, and British Columbia 
north to Alaska ; winters from British Columbia, 
.A.leutian Islands, Idaho, Colorado, Missouri, southern 
Michigan, western New York, and New Brunswick 
south tn niirthiTn Lnwer California, central Mexico, 
Louisiana, and Florida. 



end of the world. It alights on the water with 
a tunuiltuous splash, sliding along for a little 
distance over the surface. When it has once 
alighted it seems to prefer the water to the air, 
;ind will often dive, rather than fly, to escape 
danger. It is sometimes so fat that in the 
-Middle .States it is known as the Butter-box or 
Butter-ball, but the flesh is not usually of a very 
good quality. As with all Ducks the quahty of 
its flesh depends largely on the character of the 
food it has recently eaten, and this species, like 
others, is much more palatable when killed in 
the interior than when taken on the sea-coast. 

In February the males begin their mating 
antics, when they have a habit of stretching 
forth the neck and erecting the glossy feathers of 
the head as it is moved back and forth, so as to 
display their beauties to the best advantage in the 
sunlight. They are quite quarrelsome in the mat- 
ing season and fight furiously for the possession 
of favored females. 

Nuttall says that the Buffle-head feeds princi- 
pally upon fresh-water and submerged vegeta- 
tion, and that it sometimes visits the salt marshes 
"in f|uest of the laver (Ulva lactiica)." as well 
as Crustacea and small shell-fish. Audubon states- 
that it feeds on shrimps, small fry, and bivalves 
in salt water, and on crawfish, leeches, snails, and 
grasses in fresh water. It also takes locusts,, 
grasshoppers and many other insects. 



DUCKS 



141 



When it is considered that the minnow? on 
which the Buffle-head feeds to a considerable 
extent eat egg's of trout and other food fishes, 
it seems probable that it is a useful bird, and 
certainly it is a very interesting one. Its dimi- 
nution on the Atlantic sea-board has been de- 
plorably rapid. In 1870 Samuels regarded it as 
a " very common and wel! known bird " in New 
England and abundant in migration. At its pres- 
ent rate of decrease, another century will see its 



extinction as surely as the last century saw that 
of the Great Auk and the Labrador Onck. Its 
rate of decrease should be watched, and, if neces- 
sary, a close season should he declared for 
several years in every State and province where 
it breeds or which it visits in its annual migra- 
tions. It is unsafe to procrastinate in matters of 
this kind. 

Eu\v.\Ri) Howe Forbush, in Uaiiir Binis. 
Jl'ild-Fcncl and Shore Binls. 



OLD-SQUAW 

Harelda hyemalis {LiiDiiciis 



A. O V. Xunil.cr 15 

Other Names. — Long-tailed Duck ; Long-tail : Swal- 
low-tailed Duck; South-southerly; Old Wife; Old 
Injin; Old Granny: Old Molly; Old Billy; John 
Connolly ; L^ncle Huldy ; Coween or Cowheen ; Calloo ; 
Cockawee ; Scoldenore ; Scolder ; Quandy ; Squeaking 
Duck ; Winter Duck ; Hound. 

General Description. — Length, male -'3 inches ; 
female 10 inches. In summer the males are black and 
brown above, and white below ; in winter they show 
more white and less dark ; females are grayish-brown 
above, and whitish shaded with dark below. Both 
sexes are without crests, have comparatively short 
necks, and short bills; males have long slender tails, the 
two central feathers of which are elongated. 

Color. — Adult Male in Summer Plumage: Lores 
broadly, space ahuvc eye, sides of head a)id elieelcs. 
silvery gray: forehead, cro'cvn, and hack of head, hlack- 
ish-hrozcn : rest of neck all around, upper back, and 
breast, dark chocolate-brown : upper parts and long tail- 
feathers, blackish ; shoulders, yellowish-brown striped 
with darker: shorter tail-feathers, whitish: wing, 
dusky; under parts, white; bill, flesh color with black 
tip and base; feet, bluish-gray with dusky web; iris, 
yellow, orange, or red. ./Vdult Male in Winter: Head, 
■neck, fore-hack, and upper breast, ivhite : a gray patch 
commenchui in fnnit of eye, including clieeks and side 
of head, exlendimi doz^ni side of neck in a point, chang- 



See Color I'hitf 20 

ing to rufous; nii|n.r parts, including long tail-feathers, 
black : shoulders, broadly white ; lower breast with a 
large patch of deep brown rounded behind, running up 
and meeting black of back; rest of under parts, pure 
white. Adult Female in Summer: Head, neck, and 
upper parts, dark grayish-brown, paler on throat, with 
a grayish-white patch around eye and another below on 
side of neck; under parts, white shaded across breast 
and on sides with ashy-brown ; hill, mostly dusky 
with a light space in center. Adult Fe.male in Wi.xter: 
Crown, back of head, and back of neck, mottled gray- 
ish and brown ; rest of head and neck, white with a 
dusky patch back of eye; upper parts, dusky-brown; 
shoulders, mixed with lighter brown and gray ; breast 
shaded with grayish: rest of under parts, white; bill, 
dusky. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: Placed under bushes or 
.grass near water ; constructed of grasses and dry weed 
stems and lined with feathers and down. EGf:s : 5 to 
1;. from dull pea-green to light olive-bufif. 

Distribution. — Northern hemisphere; in North 
.\merica breeds from Alaska across British America 
to Labrador, principally beyond the tree limit ; winters 
from the Aleutian Islands to Washington and from 
the Gulf of St. Lawrence south to the Great Lakes and 
North Carolina and rarely to Colorado, Texas. Louisi- 
ana, and Florida. 




Drawing by R. I. Brasher 



OLD-SQUAW ll nat. size) 
II has earned this name from its propensity to ceaseless chattering 



142 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



We class the Old-squaws among the Sea 
Ducks and seemingly they do prefer to live about 
sea-water. They occur inland, however, on 
many of the larger rivers and lakes. On the 
Pacific side of the continent, California is their 
southern limit, and on the Atlantic coast they 
go down to North Carolina and sometimes to 
Florida. The summer home is in the high north- 
ern latitudes. Their food consists mainly of shell- 
fish and crustaceans. Wayne reports finding them 
in company with Surf Ducks feeding on mussels 
along the South Carolina coast. 

As they are not regarded as good for the table, 
market-hunters seldom kill them, and only the 
less experienced sportsmen shoot them if other 
Ducks are within reach. Their habits, including 
their manner of flying, feeding, and diving, are 
verv similar to those of the Scoters, with which 
birds they much associate. 

Along the North Carolina coast the Old- 



squaws assemble in large flocks, especially in 
the spring. At this time they are often very 
noisy ; in fact no wild Duck in North America 
has so much to say to his fellows as this hand- 
some species. This propensity for ceaseless 
chattering is given as the reason for naming 
the bird " Old-squaw." Many hunters call it 
" Old South-southerly," through some fancied 
resemblance between those words and the notes 
of the bird. Another local name is " Long- 
tail," the extended tail-feathers of the male, es- 
pecially in the spring plumage, giving point to 
this name. 

Old-squaws are said to indulge in a variety of 
interesting aerial evolutions during the mating 
season. At great speed they chase one another 
through the air and often dart down to the water 
and disappear, as they carry on the chase for a 
brief time beneath the surface. 

T. Gilbert Pearson. 



HARLEQUIN DUCK 
Histrionicus histnonicus (Linnarus) 

.\. O. U. Xumber 155 See Color Plate 19 



Other Names. — Painted Duck ; Mountain Duck ; 
Rock Duck ; Lord-and-Lady ; Squealer ; Sea Mouse. 

General Description. — Length, 17 inches. Males are 
deep bluish-slate ; females are brown above, and grayish- 
brown below. Both se.xes have small crests, short bills, 
and long, sharp tails. 

Color. — Adult M.^le in Full Plumage : General color 
deep bluish-slate with a purplish tinge blackening on 
top of head, lower back, rump, and tail, a darker shade 
on head and neck than on breast and back ; a white 
patch between bill and eye curving upward and back- 
ward, changing to chestnut along nape ; a round white 
spot on side of head, a long white streak on side of 
upper neck, a white collar around neck, complete or 
not — all these marks with black borders; a white cres- 
centic bar in front of wings; two white streaks on 
back; outer webs of inner secondaries and a bar across 
end of greater coverts and some of the secondaries, also 
white; speculum, dull purplish; sides and flanks, broadly 
chestnut with a small white spot at root of tail ; bill, 
dull olive, lightening on sides; feet, grayish-blue with 
dusky webs; iris, brown. Three years required to reach 
this perfect plumage ; male usually seen intermediate 
between this and plumage of female. Adult Female: 



Head, neck, and upper parts, dull dark brown, deepest 
on head and rump ; lower parts grayish-brown whiten- 
ing on abdomen ; a lighter spot in front of eye. another 



another one further back 
bill, dusky; feet, 
Young : Similar to adult 

In hollow tree or stump, 



larger one below it and stil' 
on side of head, all obscure whitish; 
dull leaden-gray ; iris, brown, 
female in summer. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : 
under driftwood or in crevices of rock, usually near 
swiftly running streams; constructed of weeds, grass, 
and leaves and lined with down and feathers. Eggs : 
6 to 8, pale cream or buffy. 

Distribution. — Northern North America and eastern 
Asia ; breeds from Alaska, on the Arctic coast, to 
Greenland, south to British Columbia, central Mac- 
kenzie, northern Ungava, and Newfoundland and in 
the mountains to central California and southwestern 
Colorado, northeastern Asia, and Iceland ; winters on 
the Pacific coast from Aleutian Islands to California, in 
the interior to Colorado, Missouri, Lake Michigan, and 
western New York, and on the Atlantic Coast from 
Gulf of St. Lawrence regularly to Maine, rarely to New 
Jersey, and accidentally to Florida ; accidental in 
Europe and not rare in Asia south to Japan. 



Harlequin, well named ! fantastically deco- 
rated, but still a thing of beauty. Delightful in 
color, elegant in form, graceful in carriage, rightly 
are its little companies called the " Lords and 



Ladies " of the waters. This is the loveliest of 
the Sea Ducks, but its beauty is reserved mainly 
for the cold and inhospitable North, and the 
wave-lashed rocks of isolated ledges in the 



DUCKS 



143 



wintry sea. It breeds ])rincipallv in the Far 
North along the coasts of the Arctic Ocean. Yet. 
strange as it may seem, some individuals prefer 
the glacial streams in the mountains, and follow 
the higher ranges as far south as California, 
where they rear their young amid snow-clad 
peaks and dis]>ort themselves in the fo.iming 
mountain torrents until the rigors of apjiroach- 
ing winter drive tlu-ni to the sea. 

Nests have been found on the ground, in holes 
in rocks and banks, and in hollow trees. Tlic 
downy young take to the water as soon as thc\' 
become strong and then they tumble about among 
the rocks and rushing waters ]ierfectly at home 
as are their parents on the sea. In the breeding 
season the Marlequin is quite a solitar\- bird but 
there appear to he many unmated or infertile 
ones or ])Ossilily those that ha\'e finished breeding, 



which may be fiiund on the sea in Mav and the 
summer months. Such little flocks, often led 
by a full-plumaged male, enjoy themselves on 
the waters of Puget .Sound among the outer 
islands, diving, playing about on the surface and 
dressing their plumage, apparently without a 
care in the world. ( )n the -\tlantic coast thev 
arc scarcer now in M.aine :md rarer still to the 
southward but in some severe winters flocks are 
seen south of Nantucket and Marthas \'ine- 
yard off the coast of Massachusetts. They are 
fond of swift waters, mad currents, tide rips 
and flowing seas ; are tremendously tough and 
hardy, and feed largely on mussels, which they 
get by diving, often to considerable depths. 
When nesting along mountain streams thev eat 
many insects. 

Edw,\kl) Howe For hush. 



LABRADOR DUCK 

Camptorhynchus labradorius {Giiicliii) 

A. O. V. .Xuniber 156 



Other Names. — Pied Duck ; Skunk Duck. 

General Description. — Length, ^9 inches. Males 
were black with white heads and markings ; females 
were .grayish-brown above, and grayish-white below. 

Color. — AncLT M.vle : Head and upper neck, white 
with a longitudinal black stripe on crown and nape; 
lower neck, ringed with black continuous with that of 
upper parts; below this a white half-collar continuous 
with that of shoulders; rest of under parts, black; 
wing-coverts and secondaries, white, some of the latter 
margined witli black; some long shoulder-feathers, 
pearly-gray ; primaries, their coverts, and tail-feathers, 



brownish-black; bill, black with orange base and edges; 
feet, grayish-blue with dusky webs ; iris, chestnut. 
.\riULT Fe.m.\le: .'\bove, grayish-brown; several second- 
aries white, forming a speculum, but no white on wing- 
coverts or shoulders ; below, grayish-white barred with 
dull brown ; a spot on side of head and another in 
Iront of eye. white; bill, feet, and iris, as in male. 

Nest and Eggs. — Unknown. 

Distribution. — Formerly along the northern .\tlantic 
Coasts ; supposed to have bred in Labrador and to have 
wintered from Nova Scotia south to New Jersey ; now 
e.xtinct. 



The most remarkable fact about the Labrador 
Duck, which seems to have been common on the 
.Atlantic coast one hundred years ago, is that it is 
now extinct and no one knows why. If it is a 
fact that it bred only on rocky islands about the 
Gulf of St. Lawrence and the coast of Labrador, 
the feather hunting of the eighteenth century 
and the egging and shooting of the nineteentli 
[)robably resulted in its extinction, but no one, 
now living, knows to a certainty that it bred in 
Labrador. John W. .\udubon was shown nests 
at Blanc Sablon that were said to be those of 
this species. Newton writes that it was common 
in summer on the coast of Labrador until about 
1842. Major King writes ( iS86) that it was 
common on the northern shore of the Ciulf of St. 
\'..i.. 1 — II 



Lawrence and bred there, but gives no dates. 
I have seen no other evidence of its breeding in 
Labrador. There are no definite records of its 
nesting, and not one of its eggs is in existence. 
It may have bred much farther north but so far 
the records show that no one has ever seen it to 
the northward. We must be satisfied, then, 
with the probable explanation that, like the 
Great .A.uk, the s])ecies bred more or less locally 
and was exterminated in much the same way. 
Probably the exact facts never will be known. 

The history of the bird is brief. It was first 
made known to science by Gmelin in 1788, nearly 
thirty years after the New England feather 
hunters had ceased to raid the islands where it 
was believed to breed, the birds havinsj become 



144 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



so rL-duced in numbers that feather huntintj was 
no longer protitable. Audubon never saw it 
ahve, but asserted that it remained off the coast:> 
of Maine and Massachusetts all winter and was 
unknown south of Chesapeake Bay. Dekay 
( 1844) averred that the bird was well known to 
gunners on the New York coasts, but Giraud, 
writing about the same time, regarded it a;; rare 
there. Elliot says that between i860 and 1870 
he saw a considerable number of the species in 
the New York markets, but that a full-plumaged 
male was exceedingly rare although no one 
imagined that the species was on the verge of 
extinction. The last Labrador Duck on record 
died bv the hand of man near Long Island, New 



Little is known about the habits of this Duck. 
It frequented sandy shoals off the New England 
coast and was so tame and confiding that it was 
not difficult to shoot. 

It was said to feed largely on shellfish, and 
Audubon relates that a bird stuffer at Camden, 
New Jersey, had many fine specimens taken 
with hooks baited with mussels. It was a strong 
fl_\er and a good diver and, as is the case with 
most Sea Ducks, its flesh was rank and fishy. 
It was hardy and in every way well fitted for 
the battle of life but was not able to cope with 
civilized man. It is significant that its ex- 
tinction occurred in the nineteenth century 
when marked improvements in firearms were 




LABRADOR DUCKS 
A group of mounted specimens in the American Museum of Natural History, New York City 

York, in 1875. According to Dutcher's summary, accompanied \>y the extermination of far more 

there are only forty-two recorded specimens in species of birds than in any other century 

existence in the museums and scientific collec- since the dawn of history, 
tions of the world. Edw.vrd llowi-: Focrush. 



SPECTACLED EIDER 

Arctonetta fischeri {Brandt) 



.\. O. U. .Xumher 15S 



Other Name. — Fischer's Eider. 

General Description. — Length, 2J inches. Males are 
white above and grayish-black below ; females are yel- 
lowish-brown, streaked and barred with darker. Both 
sexes have dense patches of velvety feathers around the 
eyes, outlined with black, suggesting spectacles : very 
fine, stiffened frontal feathers; and crown feathers 
lengthened into a short hanging hood in the male, 
slightly indicated, or not, in the female. 



Color. — Adult M.m.e: Most of head, neck all around, 
most of back, lesser and middle wing-coverts, long 
inner secondaries and a patch on side of ruinp, white; 
frontal feathers on head, nape, and cheeks strongly 
tinged with pale sea-green ; spectacle area pure silvery- 
white framed as aforesaid, with black; rest of plumage, 
including wings, grayish-black; bill, orange; feet, yel- 
lowish ; iris, white surrounded with a light blue ring. 
Adult Female: Varies as do all Eiders ; general colora- 



DUCKS 



145 



tion. yellowish-brown, streaked on head and neck, and 
barred on body, except abdomen, with black and brown. 
Nest and Eggs. — Nest: On the ground among 
rocks; made almost entirely of fcatliers and down 
from the bird's breast. Eggs ; 5 to 8, light olive. 



Distribution. — Very locally distributed on coast of 
Bering Sea and adjacent Arctic Ocean ; breeds in 
Alaska from Point Barrow to mouth of the Kuskokwim 
and on the northern coast of Siberia west to mouth of 
Lena River; winters in Aleutian Islands. 



The Spectacled Eider is essentially an .Alaskan 
Dtick, as far as its habitat on th's continent is 
concerned, and is most commonly seen in and 
near Norton Sound, where it lireeds. Its prin- 
cipal winter home seems to be on the islands of 
the Aleutian Archijielago. Like the Emperor 
Goose, this Duck is likely to fly near the sur- 
face of the water or the land ; its normal procu- 
ress on the wint( is very swift and stead}'. Dur- 



int; July and ^Vuf^ust the l)irds undergo a severe 
molt which deprives them even of the use of 
their wing-feathers. When they arc tints help- 
less the Eskimos kill them wholesale with sticks 
and clubs. The natives also make ca]is of the 
lieavilv feathered skins of this Eider, and tise the 
bright green plumage for headdresses of vari- 
ous k'nds. 




Drawing by R. I. Brashc 



r 
SPECTACLED EIDER (j nat. size) 
The Eskimos make caps of its skin 



NORTHERN EIDER 
Somateria mollissima borealis (Brehm) 

.■\. O. U. .\umlicr 1 59 



General Description. — Length, 24 inches. Males are 
white above, ami black below; females are pale rufous- 
brown, variegated with darker. 

Color. — .-XnuLT M.\le: Crown, glossy blue-black, 
including eyes, and separating behind to receive white 
of hind neck; head, neck all arnuiid, forc-brcast. mnst 
of hack, must of z^'ing-cuvcrts, long inner secondaries, 
and sides of runif<, jc/i/fc tinged with creamy-pink on 
breast; sides of head washed with pale sea-green; 



middle of rump, upper tail-coverts, tail, lower back, and 
under parts from breast, deep sepia black ; bill, yel- 
lowish, brownish in center with white tip ; legs, yellow- 
ish ; iris, brown, .\dult Fem.m.e: Ground color of 
entire plumage, pale rufous-brown, darker on crown, 
streaked on side of head and neck and variegated else- 
where with transverse bars of black and chestnut- 
brown ; abdomen, plain grayish-brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : Between stones, on rocks 



146 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



or banks, or any suitable hollow ; made of seaweed and 
lined with down plucked from the breast of the bird; 
additional down is added as incubation proceeds, and 
the quantity is often so great as to conceal the eggs 
entirely. Eggs: to 10, greenish-drab. 



Distribution. — Northeastern North America ; breeds 
from Ellesmere Land and Greenland south to north- 
western Hudson Bay and southern Ungava ; winters in 
southern Greenland, south rarely to Maine and Mass- 
achusetts. 



The Northern Eider is a North American race 
of the common Eider of Europe and is almost 
identical with it. It nests on islands off the 
northern coast of Labrador. 

This bird furnishes much of the eider-down 
that is gathered bv the Greenlanders, and it is 



not improbable that it was one of the species 
sought by the feather hunters on the coast of 
Labrador in the eighteenth century. 

Edward Howe Forbush, in Game 

Birds, lVild-Fo2i.'l and Shore 

Birds. 



EIDER 
Somateria dresseri Sharpe 

A. 0. U. Xumber 1 60 See Color Plate 19 



Other Names. — American Eider; Common Eider; 
Eider Duck; Dresser's Eider; Drake (male); Sea 
Duck (female) ; Black and White Coot (male) ; Isle of 
Shoals Duck ; Squam Duck ; Wamp ; Canvas-back. 

Description. — Length. 24 inches. This Eider differs 
from the Northern Eider in shape of bill ; in latter 
base of bill extends along each side of forehead 
between the narrow pointed extension of crown feathers, 
this lateral extension being very narrow and ending in a 
point, whereas in the Eider the processes are more than 
twice as broad with obtuse rounded ends ; the sides of 
head are more extensively greenish but otherwise the 
coloration is similar. 



Nest and Eggs. — Nest: On the ground, in grass, in 
crevices between rocks, or in any sheltered locality; 
made of moss, seaweed, and lichens and lined with gray 
down from breast of the bird, the lining being added 
gradually during the month of incubation. Eggs: 6 to 
10, usually 6, plain dull greenish-drab. 

Distribution. — Northeastern North Ainerica ; breeds 
from southern Ungava and Newfoundland, on the 
southern half of Hudson Bay to southeastern Maine; 
winters from Newfoundland and Gulf of St. Lawrence 
south on Atlantic Coast to Massachusetts, rarely to 
Virginia, and in interior rarely to Colorado, Iowa, Wis- 
consin, Ohio, and western New York. 



Eiders are native to both Europe and America 
but the European and Xorthern Eiders differ 
from the American in the shape of the processes 
of the bill, which extend upward and backward 
toward the eyes. These maxilte are less attenu- 
ated and more rounded at the ends in the Ameri- 
can species than in the European and the North- 
ern. This is one of the famous species that are 
responsible for the greater part of the eider- 
down of commerce. The female plucks from 
her own breast the down to line her nest and, 
as is the case with other species, she felts this 
down into a blanket or mantle which not only 
lines the nest but extends up so that she can 
cover the eggs with a flap or coverlet of the 
same warm substance. In Iceland, Norway, and 
some other parts of Europe the down is con- 
sidered so valuable that the birds are conserved, 



tended, and protected, so that they become almost 
as tame as domesticated fowls. Nesting places 
are made for them in the turf or among the 
stones, and some of them even nest on the sod 
roofs of the houses, where sods are removed or 
arranged for their accommodation. In some 
places the nests are so numerous that it is im- 
possible to step among them without endanger- 
ing the sitting birds. Some birds become so tame 
while on the nest as to allow the inhabitants to 
stroke their feathers. When the first downy 
lining and the eggs are removed from the nest 
by the down gatherers, the female plucks her 
breast again, renews the lining, and lays more 
eggs. If her treasures are removed a second time, 
it is said that the male denudes his breast for a 
third lining. The down and eggs taken are not 
sufficient to interfere with the breeding of the 



CouPt.'Sy of tl.- New York St;itfl Musi-un! 



Plate 19 




:/// 



KING EIDER Sinniihrin sjjcc(u/ii(i.< ( LiniKK-us) 



HARLEQUIN DUCK I li^l nimicas Instnuiiaiis \[Ami;ivu>l 

MALE FEMAIE 



AMERICAN EIDER Siiiiiiitcria ((ri'.v.v ri Sharpe 



All 1 iiat.size 



DUCKS 



147 



birds, and both the birds and the inhabitraits 
prosper in the partnership. 

We do it differently in Anieriea. The coast 
of Labrador formerly was a great breeding 
ground of the Eider Duck. Before the year 1750, 
vessels were fitted out in New England for the 
Labrador coast for the express purpose of col- 
lecting feathers and eider-down. The crews 
landed on the coasts and islands when the young 
birds were still unfledged and while the parents 
were molting their flight quills and unable to fly. 
They surrounded the birds, drove them together 
and killed them with clubs, thus destroying "mil- 
hons " for their feathers alone, as there was no 
market for their flesh. This was continued until 
not long after 1760, when the birds had become so 
reduced in numbers that feather hunting became 
unprofitable and was given up. In the meantime, 
and ever since, eggers, fishermen, and settlers 
liave destroyed both birds and eggs, imtil the 
vast Eider nurseries of the Labrador coast are 
little more than a memory, and now we import 
eider-down gathered by the wiser and more 
humane people of the Old World. 

However, the Eider is by no means extinct 
in this country. It still breeds in the more inac- 
cessible regions of northern Ungava and about 
Hudson Bay and a few are preserved in Maine 
under the protecting care of the National Asso- 
ciation of Audubon Societies. The nests are 
hidden away carefully under thick shrubbery on 
rocky islands where the waves of the Atlantic 
break ceaselessly on jagged rocks and the birds 
when not on their nests keep at sea. 

The only note I have ever heard from one of 
these birds was a hoarse croak when the female 
was suddenly startled from her nest, but the male 
is said to have a soft note in the breeding season. 

In migration they seem to be rather silent 
birds, flying in long undulating lines and alter- 
nately flapping and sailing. The Massachuselts 
gimtiers call them Sea Ducks for they seem to 
prefer the outer ledges jutting into the sea. 



Numbers frequent the islands south of Cape Cod 
in winter where they feed largely on mussels 
for which they dive sometimes in at least ten 
fathoms of water. They are hardy and hand- 
some. Their flesh is fishv and imattractive. If 




Photo by T. G. Pearson 

NEST OF EIDER 
At Way Ledge, near Isle au Haut, Maine 

protected on their breeding grounds they might 
become in time a great source of revenue to the 
people of the northern coasts. 

Edwaki) Howe Forbush. 



KING EIDER 
Somateria spectabilis ( Liuiuni.':) 

.\. O U. .Xiimber 1 02 ^^ee Color I'latc 19 



General Description. — Leii.!;tli, 22 inclies. Males are 
wliite above and lirownish-black below : females are 
liffbt brown, streaked and barred witb darker. Males 
liave the bill with immense square frontal processes 



of females are less 
developed but retain the same general outlines. 

Color. — .Adult M.\lf. : Fore parts, most of wing- 
coverts, and a spot on each side of rump, white, tinged 



148 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



on side of head with pale sea-green, and on breast with 
creamy-brown ; top of head and back of neck, pearl- 
gray; eyelids and spot bcloxv eye, black: rest of plum- 
age, deep brownish-black, including the long inner 
secondaries ; a black V-shaped mark on chin ; bill, red- 
dish-orange, the enlarged part surrounded in front, on 
top. and rear with a black border ; tip, white ; feet, yel- 
lowish-orange with dusky webs ; iris, brown. Adult 
Female: Hardly separable from other female Eiders in 
coloration, but easily distinguished by the shape of bill; 
the bill, yellowish, dusky at end, with white tip. 

Nest and Eggs. — Xest: In depressions of ground 
or among rocks; composed entirely of down. Eggs: 



Usually 6. but sometimes more, light olive-gray to 
grayish-green. 

Distribution. — Northern part of northern hemi- 
sphere ; breeds along the whole coast of northern 
Siberia, Bering Sea, and Arctic coast of America from 
Icy Cape east to Melville Island, Wellington Channel, 
northern Greenland, northwestern Hudson Bay, and 
northern Ungava ; winters on Pacific coast from 
Aleutian Islands to Kodiak Island, in the interior rarely 
to the Great Lakes, and from southern Greenland 
and Gulf of St. Lawrence south regularly to Long 
Island, rarely to Georgia; accidental in California and 
Iowa. 



The King Eider is an arctic species and its 
habits resemble those of the common Eider. It 
is a deep-water Duck, feeding mostly on mussels. 
The female lines her nest with down, as do the 
other sjjecies, and it forms part of the eider- 
down of commerce, which is gathered by the 
natives in (ireenland. 

The raised frontal processes at the base of the 
bill, which adorn the head, develop immensely in 
the breeding season, bulging high above the rest 
of the bill. These processes are soft, and are 



supported uj)on a mass of fatty substance. They 
shrink and become more depressed in winter, 
when the general formation of the beak is not 
much diiTerent from that of other Eiders. The 
female, however, does not resemble the male, and 
is not easily distinguished in the field from that 
of the American Eider. When in hand, the 
general resemblance of the bill and the head 
feathering to that of the male may be noted. 
Edward Howe Forbush, in Game Birds, 
IVild-Fozd and Shore Birds. 



SCOTER 
Oidemia americana Swainson 



.■\. O. U. Xumber 163 See Color Plate 20 



Other Names. — Males: Black Scoter; Sea Coot; 
Black Coot; Black Sea Coot; Fizzy; Broad-billed Coot; 
Hollow-billed Coot; Pumpkin-blossom Coot; Booby; 
Butter-bill; Black Butter-bill; Butter-billed Coot; But- 
ter-nose; Copper-bill; Copper-nose; Yellow-bill. Fe- 
males: Brown Coot; Gray Coot; Smutty Coot. 

Description. — Length, male 21 inches; female 17 
inches. Adult M.\le: Entirely black, less glossy below ; 
bill, black, with a yellow protuberance at base ; feet, 
dusky; iris, brown. Adult Female: Sooty-brown, 
paler below, lightening on abdomen, with dusky speck- 
ling ; sides and flanks waved with dusky ; throat and 
sides of head, distinctly whitish ; bill, dusky and not 
peculiar ; feet, dull olive with black webs ; iris, brown. 



Nest and Eggs. — Nest: On ground near water; 
made of coarse grass, feathers, and down. Eggs: 6 to 
10, ])ale liuff. 

Distribution. — Northern North America and eastern 
Asia ; breeds in northeastern Asia and from Kotzebue 
Sound to Aleutian Islands, including Near Islands ; also 
on west shore of Hudson Bay, Ungava, and New- 
foundland ; winters on Asiatic coast to Japan and from 
islands of Bering Sea south rarely to Santa Catalina 
Island, California; in the interior not rare on the Great 
Lakes, and casual or accidental in Missouri, Louisiana, 
N^ebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming ; on the Atlantic 
coast abundant during migration from Newfoundland 
and Maine south, but rarely as far as Florida. 



We have no means of knowing the early his- 
tory of any one of the Scoters as they all were 
generally grouped together as " Coots " or 
" Black Ducks " by the early historians. The 
Scoters or " Coots," as they are called by the 
gunners and fishermen, are typical diving Ducks. 
They are very muscular and powerful in build. 
The bony framework is strong, the skin tough. 



and the feathers strong, coarse, and very firmly 
attached to the skin. The whole strticture seems 
to be formed to resist the tremendotts water 
pressure that they encounter while diving at 
great depths. Fishermen, both along the Massa- 
chusetts coast and in the lake region of ^^'iscon- 
sin. have told me that they have taken these 
diving Ducks in nets set from 50 to 100 feet 



DUCKS 



149 



below the surface. This may be an exaggeration. 
Under water they use both legs and wings for 
propulsion, and are even more at home there 
than in the air. If threatened with danger they 
are as likelv to dive as to fly, and sometimes, 
when in full flight, they have been seen to dive 
The Scoters are uni\ersally known as Coots 
along the New England coast, a n:inie derived 
probablv from the French fishermen who first 
established the fishing industry on the banks of 
Newfoundland. The true Coot, however, is 
a lobe-footed fresh-water bird. 

As food. Ducks of this genus are regarded as 
nourishing but not very appetizing. Some 
writers liave gone so far as to stigmatize them as 
abominable ; but the people of Cape Cod are able. 



<iuite as likely to mix with flocks of the other 
Scoters. The flight of the .Scoters is swift, i 
have heard it estimated at 200 miles an hour with 
a strong wind, but this is jirobablv exaggerated. 
They may possibly fly at the rate of over 100 
miles an hour under favorable conditions, ])ut 
this is a high rate of speed for any bird. This 
bird usually flies in lines at some distance from 
the shore, antl the flocks are often led bv an ol<l 
experienced male, who will lead his following 
high in air while passing over the boats where 
gunners lie in wait. 

In migration this bird is often seen in flocks 
of too or more, and in smaller groups at other 
times. l)ut it associates with the other two species. 
Little is known about its earlv abundance, but it 




Drawing I>\- R. I. Brasher 



SCOTER (S nat. size) 
As food, this Duck is nourishing, but not very appetizing 



by parboiling, etc., to make a dish of even the 
old birds, which, though it may " taste a little like 
crow " to the uninitiated, serves as an agreeable 
variant to a diet of salt lish. 

A cultured Boston lady assures lue that when 
she attempted to cook a Coot it drove everybody 
out of the house, and that she had to throw away 
the kettle that it was cooked in. Nevertheless, 
I have found the young palatable if properly pre- 
pared, though hardly equal to the celery-fed 
Canvas-back. Many -Scoters are shot for food 
and sold in the markets, but large numbers are 
killed merely for sport, and either left to lie 
where they fall or to drift away on the tide. 

The American Scoter, Black Coot, or Little 
Cray Coot, as it is commonly called, while a 
common bird, is the least numerous of the three 
Scoters. While at times it keeps bv itself it is 



is ])rol)able that on the Atlantic it has decreased 
more in |)roportion to its former numbers than 
the other two common species. It is far more 
numerous now on the Pacific coast than on the 
Atlantic. So little is known of its breeding 
grounds in northeastern North America that 
Professor Cooke is obliged to reason, by exclu- 
sion, that as we have no record of its breeding 
west of Hudson Bay until we reach the Yukon 
valley, nor in Labrador south of about latitude 
32 degrees, the multitudes seen in winter on the 
Atlantic coast must breed east of Hudson Bay, 
in northern LTngava. As this is one of the least 
explored regions of the world, it is quite possible 
that vast numbers of .Scoters and Mergansers 
breed there. It breeds mainly in fresh-water 
marshes and ponds in the north and also x^ton 
islands in the sea. It is a very expert diver, and 



I50 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



is often able to get so nearly under water at the 
flash of a gun that the shot injures it very little 
if at all, 

Its food consists largely of mussels, and when 
feeding on fresh water it prefers the fresh-water 
clams to most other foods. Thirteen Massachu- 
setts specimens were found to have eaten nearly 
95 per cent, of mussels ; the remaining 5 per 



cent, of the stomach contents was composed of 
starfish and periwinkles. It is a common belief 
that all Scoters feed entirely upon animal food, 
but this is not a fact. Along the Atlantic coast 
they appear to subsist mostly on marine animals, 
but, in the interior, vegetable food also is taken. 
Edward Howe Forbush, in Game Birds, 
IVild-Fou'l and Shore Birds. 



WHITE-WINGED SCOTER 

Oidemia deglandi Bonaparte 

.\. O. U. .X'uniber 105 .^ce L'ulor IMate 20 



Other Names. — Velvet Scoter ; Velvet Duck ; Lake 
Huron Scoter : White-winged Surf Duck, or Sea Coot 
or Scoter; Black White-wing; Black Surf Duck; Pied- 
winged Coot; Uncle Sam Coot; Bell-tongue Coot; Bull 
Coot; Brant Coot; Sea Brant; May White-wing; 
Eastern White-wing ; .Assemblyman. 

General Description. — Length, male 23 inches ; 
female 20 inches. General color of male, black; female, 
brown above and gray below. Bill swollen at base over 
nostrils and on sides ; feathers of lores come close to 
nostrils. 

Color. — Adult M.vle: Black, paler below, more 
brownish on sides ; a small white spot under and behind 
eye; speculum ivhilc. formed by tips of greater coverts 
and most of secondaries; bill, black at base and on 
knob, a white space in front of knob; sides of bill red- 
dish shading to orange on tip ; feet, orange or red with 
black webs and joints; Iris, pale yellow. Ahult Fkm,\le: 
.Sooty-brown above; pale grayish below; a large space 
in front of and below eye, and another back of it on 
side of head, whitish ; closely resembles the other two 
female Scoters but can alwavs be distinguished bv the 



'ccliitc speculum: bill smaller than in male and grayish- 
dusky ; feet, dull flesh color with black webs ; iris, dark- 
Ijrown 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: Usually concealed under 
overhanging bushes, small spruces, or willows ; some- 
times near salt water, at other times 2 or 3 miles from 
the sea; a depression in the ground, lined with a little 
grass and, alter the clutch is complete, with a little 
down. E(;gs : 5 to 14, usually 7 or 8, pale salmon-bufif 
or flesh color. 

Distribution.-- North Ainerica ; breeds from the 
coast of northeastern Siberia, northern .Alaska, northern 
Alackenzie, and northern Ungava south to central 
British Columbia, .Alberta, northern North Dakota, and 
southern Quebec ; winters on the Asiatic coast to 
Bering Island. Japan, and China, and in North 
.America from Unalaska Island to San Quintin Bay. 
Lower California, the Great Lakes (casually to Colo- 
rado, Nebraska, and Louisiana), and the .Atlantic coast 
from the Gulf of St. Lawrence south (rarely) to 
Florida ; non-breeding birds occur in summer as far 
south as Rhode Island and Monterev, California. 



The White-winged Scoter, the largest of the 
three dark-colored marine Ducks cotnmonly 
called " Sea Coots " along the Atlantic coast and 
readily distinguished from the other two by its 
white wing-bars, is very fainiliar to gunners. 
Toward the end of August flocks of adult males, 
flying southward, begin to be noticed along the 
New England coast. The lighter-colored females 
and young are not due till about the middle of 
October and later. Then there is a great pro- 
cession of them past the headlands, flying swiftly 
and low over the water. They stream bv in 
single files, in wedge-shaped formation, or in 
irregular columns, the three kinds being often 
intermingled. 

The " coot shooters," starting out at the first 
glimmer of dawn, or before, anchor their boats 
in a line straight out from some headland, about 



a gunshot apart, and lie low. after anchoring out 
wooden decoys in front. The Scoters, coming 
swiftly on, may swing around the boats further 
out to sea, or rise higher in the air. Often, how- 
ever, trusting to their swiftness, they dash 
through the line. Then the guns speak. On some 
mornings when there is a big flight it sounds like 
a regular battle. .Scoters are thickly armored, 
however, with feathers, down, fat, and a tough 
hide, and many a time I have heard the impact of 
the shot on their bodies when there was not the 
least visible effect. They fly more especially early 
in the morning, but on lowery, windy days, par- 
ticularly when a storm is brewing, T have watched 
them pass by thousands all day long. 

Such big thick-set birds, floating rather high 
on the water, make themselves quite conspicuous, 
and are easily recognized. They like to gather 



^' 



DUCKS 



LSI 



over submerged beds of nius>els and other bi- 
valves, and feed upon them by diving. Being- 
very hardy birds, they do not go as far south in 
winter as many of the Ducks, Large numbers of 
them remain in the winter about Nantucket and 
Long Island. Few get as far as the southern 
States. 

This Scoter is tlie most southerly of the three 
in its breeding range. 1 have found quite a num- 
ber of their nests in North Dakota and Mani- 
toba. Though so hardy, they are the hist uf the 
water-birds to breed. Usually they finish laying 
from June JO to July I. When beginning to lay, 
the female swims ashore, preferably on an island, 
and creeiJS into the thickest weeds or brush she 
can find near by. There she scratches a hollow, 
lays a very big creamy-white egg, and rakes the 
soil over it. Next day she digs it out, adds 
another, and buries both. When the set is Hear- 
ing completion she plucks down from her breast 
and lines the nest. Examining a nest of eggs 
before incubation begins is like digging potatoes. 

She sits very close, and when almost stepped 
on tries to scurry through the weeds to the water. 
Once I caught a Scoter leaving her nest. She did 
not act frightened, but gazed quietly at her captor. 
Suddenlv she gave a violent flap, sli])])ed to the 
ground, and managed to get to the water first. 
The voung are large for ducklings, clad in black 



and white suits of duwn, and walk almost erect, 
renfinding one of little men. I Ii:ri!eut K. Job. 

The stomachs of nine White-winged Scuters 
from .Massachusetts waters, examined by Mr. W. 
L. Mc.\tee. of the Biolnrrical Survey, contained 




Pbjto i.y H. K Ji.;i l i-uru^y m1 U,.ui,:<a i\-. r■.l^■L■ i; Co. 

NEST OF WHITE-WINGED SCOTER 

of mussels, about 44 ]»er cent.: quohogs, 22 per 
cent.; periwinkles, nj per cent.; hermit cralis. q 
per cent. ; the remainder was caddis larvs and 
algfe and other vegetable matter. Three birds 
from Nantucket had eaten only the common 
mussel. 



SURF SCOTER 

Oidemia perspicillata ( Lininnis) 

A. O. U. Number i66 See Color Plate io 



Other Names. — Surf Duck; Surf Coot; Suriur; Sea 
Coot ; Bay Coot ; Gray Coot ; Brown Coot ; Box Coot ; 
Spectacle Coot; Butterboat-billed Coot; Hollow-billed 
Coot; Speckle-billed Coot; Blossom-billed Coot; Horse- 
head ; Horse-head Coot ; Patch-head ; Patch-head Coot ; 
Patch-polled Coot ; White-head ; White Scop ; Bald- 
pate ; .Skunk-head ; Skunk-head Coot ; Skunk-top ; 
Pictured-bill ; Piaster-bill; Morocco-jaw; Go.t;gle-nose ; 
Snuff-taker. 

General Description. — LeuKth, Ji inches. Predomi- 
nating color of male, black; female, sooty-brown above, 
gray below. 

Color, — Adult M.'\le: Black, glossy abo-rc. duller 
bclou': a triaiiytdar zvliitc patch on forehead pointing 
foriv'ard : another one on nape pointing downzcard : no 
ti-hite on zs.'itigs: basal half of bill, white with a large 
round spot of black, this bordered above and behind by 
red and yellow in a very narrow line; front half, yellow- 
ish-orange crossed by a white band ; upper half, crimson 
and orange ; feet, orange-red with dusky webs and 
joints; iris, i^'hile. .'\di'1.t Fem.vi.e: Above, sooty- 
brown; below, gray; two whitish patches on side of 



head, thus scarcely different from females of other two 
species. Distinguished from female Scoter by larger 
bill, and from female White-winged Scoter by absence 
of white speculum. 

Nest and Eggs, — Xest: On the ground in a bunch 
of marsh grass; more rarely in the low branches of 
dwarf spruces ; constructed of grass and plant stems, 
and lined with down. Eggs: 5 to 8, cream color. 

Distribution. — North America ; breeds on the Pacific 
coast from Kotzebue Sound to Sitka, and from north- 
western Mackenzie and Hudson Strait to Great Slave 
Lake, central Keewatin, and northern Quebec ; non- 
breeding birds occur in summer in northeastern Siberia 
and south on the Pacific coast to Lower California, and 
in Greenland and south on the Atlantic coast to Long 
Island ; winters on the Pacific coast from the Aleutian 
Islands south to San Quintin Bay, Lower California, on 
the Great Lakes, and south casually to Colorado, 
Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, and Louisiana, and on the 
.■\tlantic coast from Nova Scotia to North Carolina, 
rarely to Florida ; casual in the Bermudas ; frequent 
in Europe. 



152 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



The Sea Coots are birds of the ocean and the 
larger lakes of the interior during the period of 
their sojourn in the United States. Now and 
then a few may be seen on some of the more 
important rivers, but one need not look for them 
on small ponds and in marshes where many other 
wild Ducks love to dwell. 

From the studies which economic ornithol- 
ogists have made of their feeding habits we 
learn that about 8o per cent, of the food of 
coastwise specimens consists of mussels which 
they procure by diving. They also eat peri- 
winkles, algse, and eel-grass. The flesh of few, 
if any, birds whose diet consists largely of fish 
or shell-fish is really palatable ; and it would 
seem that this fact alone would protect the Scoter 
from gunners. Nevertheless they are extensively 
shot, particularly where the supply of other 
Ducks is not very great. This is partially true 
along the New England coast. 

Here they are hunted in a communal fashion. 
The gunners of a locality agree on a day when 
they will go Coot shooting. At least fifteen or 
twenty boats must go, if success is to be attained. 
The boats are anchored in line ofifshore from 
some headland that separates two bays where the 
birds are accustomed to feed, and are stationed at 
a distance of about one hvmdred yards from 
each other. All this is done very early in the 
morning for by sunrise the companies of Coots 
will begin to pass. They fly swiftly and the man 
who secures many must be a good shot. 



.Speaking of the Scoter as an article of food, 
Walter H. Rich in Feathered Ciaiiie of the 
Northeast says: 

" They are unusually tough customers either 
in life or at the table. Most of our cooks be- 
lieve it impossible to so prepare this bird as to 
make it decent food for any but a starving man. 
The best recipe I have seen runs somewhat as 
follows : First, skin your fowl and let it parboil 
in saleratus water at least one day, or until it 
can be dented with a fairly sharp ax. If your 
courage holds out, the game is now ready to stuff 
and bake as you would any other Duck, except 
that you must put enough onions into its inside 
to take away all Coot flavor. Arriving at this 
stage of proceeding there are two lines of retreat 
yet open to you ; either throw your delicate mor- 
sel away or give it to someone against whom you 
hold an ancient grudge — on no account should 
you try to eat it." 

The summer home of the Surf Scoter is in the 
Far North ; none is known to rear its young in 
the United States. Those occasionally found 
within our borders in summer are either cripples, 
as the result of winter shooting, or are non- 
breeding individuals. Audubon describing a nest 
he found in Labrador writes that it was hidden 
among tall grasses and raised about four inches 
above the ground. It was made of weeds and 
lined with down of the bird in a manner similar 
to the nest of the Eider Duck. 

T. Gilbert Pearson. 



RUDDY DUCK 

Erismatura jamaicensis iGineliii) 

.•\. O. U. Number 167 See Color I'l.-ite 10 



Other Names. — Dumpling Duck ; Daub Duck ; Deaf 
Duck : Fool Duck ; Sleepy Duck ; Butter Duck ; Brown 
Diving Teal ; Widgeon Coot ; Creek Coot ; Sleepy 
Coot ; Booby Coot ; Ruddy Diver ; Dun Diver ; .Sleepy 
Brother; Butter-ball; Batter-scoot; Blatherskite; Bum- 
blebee Coot; Quill-tailed Coot; Heavy-tailed Coot; 
Stiff-tail; Pin-tail; Bristle-tail; Sprig-tail; Stick-tai! ; 
.Spine-tail ; Dip-tail ; Diver ; Dun-bird ; Dumb-bird ; 
Mud-dipper ; Spoon-billed Butter^ball ; Spoonbill ; 
Broad-billed Dipper; Dipper; Dapper; Dopper ; Broad- 
bill; Blue-bill; Sleepy-head; Tough-head; Hickory- 
head; Steel-head; Hard-headed Broad-bill; Bull-neck; 
Leather-back ; Paddy-whack ; Stub-and-twist ; Light- 
wood-knot ; Shot-pouch ; Water-partridge ; Dinky ; 
Dickey; Paddy; Noddy; Booby; Rook; Roody ; Gray 
Teal ; Salt-water Teal ; Stifif-tailed Widgeon. 

General Description. — Length, 16 inches. Males are 



red above and white below ; females are brownish-gray 
above and grayish below. Both sexes have the fore- 
head rather low ; the neck thick ; the bill long and broad 
and curving upward, but tip overhanging and curved 
downward ; and the tail composed of 18 stiff feathers, 
often spiny-pointed. 

Color. — .'VnuLT M.vle in Spring : Forehead, crown, 
sides of head to below eye and nape, dusky-black; face, 
lores, chin, and sides of head, pure white; neck all 
around, upper parts, and sides, rich glossy chestnut; 
lower parts, silvery-white, " watered " with dusky ; wing- 
coverts, primaries, and tail, blackish-brown ; under 
wing-coverts, white; bill and feet, rather bright bluish- 
gray, latter with dusky webs ; iris, brown ; eyelids, 
bluish. M.'^LE IN Fall, and Adult Fem.\le: Upper 
parts, brownish-gray, spotted and traversed with dusky; 
below, pale gray and whitish, with darker transverse 



DUCKS 



153 



marks on sides : crown and nape, dusky-brown, with 
two indistinct dusky streaks alongside of head; under 
tail-coverts, white ; bill, feet, and eyes, as in spring 
male but much duller. 

Nest and Eggs. — Xest ; In the abandoned homes of 
Coots or on the shores of lakes, ponds, or streams; a 
bulky structure of dry reeds, rushes, and grass, so large 
and buoyant that it will float. Eggs: y to 14, creamy or 
light buff. 

Distribution. — North America ; breeds from central 
British Columbia, Great Slave Lake, southern Keewatin, 



and northern Ungava south to northern Lower Cali- 
fornia, central Arizona, northern New Mexico, north- 
western Nebraska, southern Minnesota, southern 
Michigan, southern Ontario, and Maine, and rarely and 
locally in southern Lower California, Kansas, Massa- 
chusetts, \'alley of Me.\ico, Lake Duenas, Guatemala, 
and in Cuba, Porto Rico, and Carriacou ; winters from 
southern British Columbia, Arizona, New Mexico, 
southern Illinois, Maine, Peimsylvania, and south to the 
Lesser Antilles and Costa Rica ; rare in migration to 
Newfoundland and Bermuda. 



'S^,-^ 




Dr.i\ving Ijv R. I. Driiihcr 

RUDDY DUCK (J nat. size) 

A sprightly, comical little Duck, whose flesh is a passable substitute for that of the Canvas-back 



The sprightly, comical little Ruddy Duck is a 
distinctly North American species and is dis- 
tributed widely over the continent. It is per- 
fectly at home on or under water and dislikes to 
leave it, often preferring to attempt escape by 
diving rather than by flying. This makes it easy 
game for the gunner, as a flock will sometimes 
remain in a salt pond so small that any part of 
it may be reached from the shore with a shot- 
gun, diving at every shot until those left alive 
essay to fly and most of them pay the i)enalty of 
their simplicity with their lives. They can dive so 
(liiickly that they often escape unharmed. Like 
the Grebes they possess the power of sinking 
slov/ly down backward out of sight, but like them 
also they rise from the water with some labor 
and difUculty. They are extremely tough, hardy 
little birds and gunners know them by such names 
as Tough-head, Hard-head. .Steel-head, etc. 
( )ther local names, such as Booby, Noddv, and 
Fool Duck, indicate a lack of resjiect for the 
birds" perspicacity. 

When the famous Canvas-back first showed 
signs of scarcity on the Atlantic coast, a jirice 



Mm ^^ 




A PAIR OF RUDDY DUCKS ON BREEDING-GROUND 



154 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



was put upon the liead of the Ruddy Uuck to 
meet the market demand. Unfortunately for its 
safety it feeds upon delicate grasses and other 
vegetable aliment in preference to sea-food. 
Therefore, its flesh is a passable substitute for 
that of the Canvas-back. So the market gun- 
ners have pursued it until its numbers are no 
longer legion and its chances for extinction are 
good. 

The male is a handsome bird in the breeding 
season but presents rather a ridiculous appear- 
ance in mating time, as he swims pompously 
about with his head lifted proudly and drawn 



away back toward the spread tail, which is raised 
and thrown forward as if to meet it. 

This Duck nests in prairie sloughs, where the 
broods remain until after all the other breeding 
Ducks have departed. Old and young are regular 
gourmands and, according to Gurdon Trumbull, 
gunners near the mouth of the Maumee River 
told of finding them floundering helplessly fat, 
on the water and in some seasons floating about 
dead or dying in numbers. But this was before 
the days of the market demand for their flesh. 
They do not have so much time to get fat now. 
Edw,\kd Howe Forbush. 



GEESE 

Order Anscrcs; family Aiiatidcc; subfamily Aiiscriua: 




HE Geese in scientific terminology constitute the subfamily Anserincc, of the 
family Anatidcc (Goose-like swimmers), included in the order Anseres-(Water 
fowl). They comprise nine or ten genera and about forty species, of which 
ten or twelve occur in the United States. Of these, however, only two or three 
species are actual residents of this country, and the remainder are no more 
than migratory visitants south of the Canadian boundary. 

The group are closely related to the Swans, from which they dififer in hav- 
ing the neck shorter than the body, and the lores feathered; they are also 
closely allied to the Ducks, from most of which they differ in having the tarsus 
enclosed in small, hexagonal scales, and in the similarity in color of the 
sexes. They also lack the cere, or soft swollen surface at the base of the upper 
bill, which is characteristic of the Ducks. Still another marked difference is shown in the 
feeding habits of the Geese, which often take them into fields far away from water. This 
habit is due to the fact that Geese walk much more readily than do Ducks, because of their 
legs being set further forward on their bodies. Their food is almost wholly vegetable. In 
the water they take seeds and roots of aquatic plants, which they get by searching the vege- 
tation below the surface, an operation which they accomplish by completely immersing the 
head and long neck, tipping the body meanwhile so that the tail points straight upward. 
On land they feed in the spring on sprouting grain, and in the fall on corn, oats, wheat, and 
barley, taken from the stubble fields. 

Geese nest invariably on the ground and usually line their nests with their own down 
to which sometimes soft grasses are added. The eggs, from four to six or eight in number, 
are white. The coloration of several species of Geese varies greatly according to their 
habitat and the seasons. 

Owing to their great powers of flight the Geese cover immense distances in their annual 
migrations, many species nesting well within the Arctic Circle, and ranging far to the south 
in W'inter. 



GEESE 



00 



SNOW GOOSE 
Chen hyperboreus hyperboreus (Pallas) 

\ ( > L'- Ximihcr i (19 



Other Names. — Wavey ; Common Wavey ; Little 
Wavey ; White Brant ; Lesser Snow Goose ; Common 
Snow (ioose: White Goose; Mexican Goose. 

Length. — 25 inches. 

Description. — Bill, short and hi.gh at base, .\iiults : 
Purr ;c/ii7r, the head washed with rusty brown; ^rima- 
i-ies. ill-ay at base, black at cuds: bill, pale carmine-red 
with white tip and black cutting edge; feet, pinkish-red; 
eyes, dark brown. YouNc. : Entire plumage, gray, 
lightening below ; streaked on head and neck very 
faintly with darker ; more or less waved on back with 
same; secondaries and primaries, dusky, the former 



with lit;hter edges; liill and feet, much darker than in 
adult. 

Nest and Eggs. — Unknown. 

Distribution. — North America ; breeds from mouth 
of the Alackcnzie east probably to Coronation Gulf and 
Melville Island; occurs on the .Arctic coast of north- 
eastern Asia, but not known to breed there ; winters 
from southern Britisli Columbia, southern Colorado, 
and southern Illinois soutli to northern Lower Cali- 
fornia, central Mexico (Jalisco), Texas, and Louisiana, 
and on the .Asiatic coast south to Japan ; generally rare 
in eastern United States. 



y 




^^^ 



J^ 



^,4% 




Vj/y/^. 



•4 






~-^^3fe**>- 




Drawing by R. I. Brasher 



SNOW GOOSE {{ nat. size) 
Flocks, at rest, appear like banks of snow 



156 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



The Snow Goose is a western bird, closely re- 
sembling the Greater Snow Goose, which is con- 
fined mainly to eastern North America. In the 
old days, about which the ancient liunter loves 
to tell, great flocks of White Geese, resting upon 
the western prairies, appeared like banks of 
snow. The enormous numbers of the past are 
gone, but the white birds are more or less 
abundant still in migration in the Far West and 
they are numerous in winter along the Pacific 
coast of the United States. 

This bird breeds beyond the Arctic circle and 
reappears in the United States in September. 
The flocks like to rest on some lake at night and 
to feed by day in the open fields. Farms where 
they can pick up waste grain are favorites, and 
they are destructive to young grain just sprout- 
ing from the soil. As the migrating flocks come 
in at night they present a beautiful and impres- 
sive sight. They fly in a wide rank presenting 
a curved front not so angular as the V-shaped 
flock of the Canada Goose. Winging steadily 
along, high and serene, their extended pinions 
1)arely moving, their snowy forms borrowing 
rosy tints from the sunset sky, they seek a harbor 
of security ; but as they seem about to pass on, 
and leave the placid lake far behind, the flock 
lengthens, turns upward at an angle of fifty or 
sixty degrees, and then, hanging on down-bent 
rigid wings, floats softly down and down, drift- 



ing and still falling a thousand feet or more and 
at the end, with a few quick flaps, dropjMng to 
the water, and so they come to rest. Sometimes 
when near their goal they zigzag down more like 
a falling Canvas-back. The young are easily 
distinguished from the adult birds by their gray- 
ish plumage. 

The Snow Goose is difficult to approach and is 
not highly regarded by the epicure. Were it not 
for its taste for sprouting grain it might main- 
tain its numbers for many years. 

Edward Howe Forbush. 

The Greater Snow Goose ( Chen hypcrborcus 
nivalis, color plate 21 ) is similar in color to the 
Snow Goose, but larger in size. It breeds on 
Whale Island, in Ellesmere Land, and in North 
( ireenland, but its full breeding range is un- 
known. In the winters it is found from southern 
Illinois, Chesajjeake Bay, and Massachusetts 
(rarely) south to Louisiana, Florida, and the 
West Indies. Sometimes during migration it is 
seen west to Colorado and east to New England 
and Newfoundland. 

Audubon said he found this Goose in fall and 
winter in every part of the United States that he 
visited and other early writers record great flocks 
on the Atlantic coast. Its numbers have been 
greatly reduced ; this is probably due not only to 
its conspicuousness, but also to the superior 
flavor of its flesh. 



BLUE GOOSE 

Chen caerulescens ( Liiuuciis) 

A. O. U. Number 169. i See Color I'late 21 



Other Names. — Blue-winged Goose ; Blue Wavey ; 
Blue Brant: Blue Snow Goose; White-lieaded 
Goose: Bald-headed Brant; White-headed Bald Brant; 
Brant. 

General Description. — Length, 28 inches. Head, 
white; body. .gray. Bill, short and high at base. 

Color. — Adults: Head and upper neck, white: face 
stained with rusty: neck below, back, and breast, 
dusky-gray fading into whitish below, into fine bluish- 
gray on it'int/s, and into whitish on rump and upper 
tail-coverts, broadly-barred across the back and on 
sides with dusky-gray : wing-coverts, pale grayish- 
brown ; most of secondaries, dusky edged with gray; 



primaries, black; bill and feet, pinkish-red; cutting 
fd.ges of bill, black and tip white; iris, dark brown. 
Young; General color, brownish, streaked on side of 
neck and barred on back with pale gray ; under tail- 
coverts whitish ; wing as in adults ; bill and feet, dusky 
flesh color ; iris, brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Unknown. 

Distribution. — Eastern North America ; breeding 
range unknown, but probably interior of northern 
Ungava : winters from Nebraska and southern Illinois 
south to coasts of Texas and Louisiana; rare or casual 
in migration in California, and from New Hampshire 
to Florida, Cuba, and the Bahamas. 



Until within a very few years the Blue Goose in 1909-10, I was astonished to find that the 
was generally considered a rare species. In a immense concourses of Geese, by scores of thou- 
winter trip to the delta of the Mississippi River, sands, which were said to be " Brants," were in 



GEESE 



157 



reality, niiie-tentlis of tliein. I'lue Gccse. The 
Canada Geese did not consort with them, and 
there were only a few White-fronted and Snow 
Geese in their company. 

At daybreak they could aUvays be found out 
on the flats ofT from the exits of certain 
"passes" into the (iulf. They kept up a tre- 
mendous clamor which could be heard a couple 
of miles avyay. lleing exceedinsjly shy, they 
would rise and disappear up or down the C(jast 
if anyone approached within half a mile of them ; 
consequently even the market gunners get very 
few. Farther westward, on the Wild Life Re- 
fuges, they make rendezvous for the night in 



Texas, hundreds of thousands being concentrated 
within a comjiarativelv slKjrt coast-line. 

In lanuarv, igi6. 1 had a remarkable experi- 
ence with I'.Iue Geese. On a certain point on the 
shore of Vermilion Ray. La., there is a rather 
small gravel-spit, known as " the goose-bank," to 
which from time imniemoiial. great numbers of 
(7ieese have always resorted during the winter to 
eat gravel for digesting their food. Wishing to 
secure photographs and moti(.)n pictures of Blue 
Geese, we built a blind at one end of this spit, 
scattered corn, and returned some four weeks 
later. The weather was bad and the Geese did 
not show up. After five days of dreary waiting 






1 




Phulu by li. K. J 



C^jurtusy of Nat. .-Xs 



BUTE GEESE 
The photographer waited five days to get this picture 



certain localities on the marshes. At Gheniers 
au Tigres the cattle men complained that these 
great hordes of Geese, spending the nights, and 
sometimes days, on the marshes used for pastur- 
ing cattle, ])ulled uj) every root of the grass from 
many acres, creating depressions which filled 
with water and became ponds. The cattle men 
actually had youths employed to ride about on 
horseback and shoot at the Geese to drive them 
ofT. 

They breed very far north, perhaps on the 
Arctic islands north of the American continent. 
Very little is known about its breeding habits. 
It is a remarkable fact that in winter nearly the 
whole of the s])ecies in a body seems to resort to 
the Gulf coast of Louisiana, or not further than 



amid fog and hosts of mos(piiloes, jKitience had 
its reward. 

Hardly was I hidden in the blind that morn- 
ing before the Geese began to come. After 
considerable circling they alighted on the shore 
and came up to get the gravel. The " seance " 
lasted four Imurs. and during that time I had 
upwards of a thousand Blue Geese, and a few 
.Snow Geese, within as near as six feet. They 
ate, drank, bathed, and dozed, without any 
suspicion of my presence. Noisy fellows, they 
talked so much that they seemed not to hear the 
clattering of the ])icture machine, even when only 
a dozen feet away. It was one of the most 
thrilling experiences of a lifetime. 

IfF.RnRKT K. [OB. 



158 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE 

Anser albifrons gambeli Hartlaitb 



A. O. r. Xiiniiier [713 See Color t'late ji 



Other Names. — American White-fronted Goose; 
Laughing Goose; Harlequin Brant; Gray Brant; Pied 
Brant; Prairie Brant; Spectacled Brant; Speckled 
Brant; Yellow-legged Goose; Speckle-belly. 

General Description. — Length, 30 inches. Plumage, 
grayish-brown with dark patch on lower breast. Bill, 
comparatively low at base. 

Color. — Lores, forehead, and forc-croivn, u'liitr, bor- 
dered behind by blackish ; head. neck, breast, and upper 
parts in general, dark grayish-brown, feathers of back 
with lighter edges, forming regular and distinct trans- 
verse bars ; upper tail-coverts, white ; secondaries and 
ends of primaries, dusky, ashy at base; greater coverts 
and secondaries bordered with whitish ; sides of body 
below, grayish-brown ; a large patch more or less broken 
of deep blackish-brown on lower breast and abdomen ; 
bill, pink with white tip (the bill is yellow in breeding 



season) ; feet, chrome-yellow ; iris, dark brown. Young: 
General tone of color browner, no black below ; no 
white on head ; tip of bill, black or dusky ; otherwise 
similar. 

Nest and Eggs. — Xest : A shallow depression in the 
ground, lined with grass, feathers, and down; usually 
near fresh-water lakes. Eccs : 5 to 7, creamy-white. 

Distribution. — Central and western North Ainerica ; 
breeds on and near the Arctic coast from northeastern 
Siberia east to northeastern Mackenzie and south to 
lower Yukon valley ; winters commonly from southern 
British Columbia to southern Lower California and 
Jalisco, and rarely from southern Illinois, southern 
Ohio, and New Jersey south to northeastern Mexico, 
southern Te.xas, and Cuba, and on the Asiatic coast 
to China and Japan ; rare in migration on the .Atlantic 
coast north to Ungava. 



'{'he W'hite-frontfd Goose was formerly an 
uiiconinion sjM'ing and autumn migrant on our 
coast ( Howe and Allen ). Dr. J. A. Allen ( 1879) 
terms it a rare migrant, sjiring and fail, and says 
that Dr. Brewer states tliat it was more common 
thirty or forty years ago, as was the case with 
many of our other Ducks and Geese. It is now 
regarded as a mere straggler on the entire At- 
lantic coast. 

It is known as a Brant in some of our west- 
ern States, where it is abundant in migration. 



Formerly it was common as far east as the Ohio 
River. 

The flight of the White-fronted Goose is simi- 
lar to that of the Canada Goose. There is the 
same V-shape formation, and at a distance it 
might be readily mistaken for that of the Canada 
Goose. Audubon states that in Kentucky this 
Goose feeds on beechnitts, acorns, grain, young 
blades of grass, and snails. 

Edward Howe Forbusii. in Gaiiw Birds, 
Wild-Fowl and Shore Birds. 



CANADA GOOSE 
Branta canadensis canadensis { Limurus) 

-\. O U. Number 172 See Color Plate 22 



Other Names. — Wild Goose; Common Wild Goose; 
Cravat Goose; Bi.g Gray Goose; Bay Goose; Reef 
Goose; Black-headed Goose; Canada Brant; Honker; 
Long-necked Goose. 

General Description. — Length, 35 to 43 inches. Head, 
black; body, brownish-gray. Neck, long and slender. 

Color. — Head and neck, black ; a broad circular patch 
c.ytcnding from upper side of head around tliroat to an 
equal distance on other side, not reaching lower bill, 
leaving chin black ; rest of pluma.ge, brownish-gray, 
more ashy below ; all feathers with paler edges ; upper 
and under tail-coverts, wiiite: bill and feet, black; iris, 
brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nkst : Usually on a mound in 



marshes ; constructed of grass, reeds, and leaves and 
lined with down; rarely old nests of Hawks or Eagles 
are appropriated. Eccs: 6 to 7, dull white. 

Distribution. — North America; breeds from limit 
of trees in valley of the lower Yukon, northwestern 
Mackenzie, and central Keewatin south to southern 
Oregon, northern Colorado, Nebraska, and Indiana; 
formerly bred casually south to New Mexico. Kansas, 
Tennessee, and Massachusetts ; winters from southern 
British Columbia, southern Colorado, southern Wiscon- 
sin, southern Illinois, and New Jersey (rarely southern 
Ontario and Newfoundland) south to southern Califor- 
nia, Texas, and Florida; accidental in Bermuda and 
lamaica. 




f B 






\'ciL. I — 12 



I ,SQ I 



i6o 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



The Canada Goose is the best known member 
of the subfamily Anscrincr in eastern and central 
North America. Nearly everyone is familiar 
with the sight of the V-shaped bands of these 




Photo by T. G. Pearson Courtesy o£ Nat. Asso. Aud. Soc. 

NEST AND EGGS OF CANADA GOOSE 

Stump Lake, North Dakota 

sjjlendid birds as they migrate southward in 
autumn, or in spring when they again turn their 
wing-beats toward the frozen pole. The great 
breeding grounds of thi.. Goose are in the LiSrit- 
ish provinces, few, if any, of the eastern flight 
pausing in spring south of the Canadian border, 
in the western States, however, they breed com- 
monly in many localities. Thus, I have found 
their eggs on islands in lakes of North Dakota, 
and come upon the young attended by the parents 
in Oregon and northern California. It is a 
rather curious fact that shortly after the young 
have hatched, the parents begin a molt of feathers 
which is frequently so extensive that the birds 
lose the jjower of flight. At this season they 
must of course depend entirely upon their 
wonderful ability to swim, when in search of 
food, or endeavoring to escape their enemies. 

Canada Geese are not flesh eaters, the grain- 
fields of the great Northwest being their special 
delight. During the fall migration they often 
come here in great numbers and feed on the 
grain scattered among the stubble at harvest time. 
Along the lower Missisr-ippi River they may often 
be seen in the fields of Tennessee and Arkansas. 
Like most Geese, while feeding, they have one or 
more sentinels constantly on the lookout for 
danger. Furthermore the members of a feeding 
flock are continually rising up and looking about, 
so that there are always a number of lieads in the 
air. 



These birds assemble in enormous numbers on 
favorite feeding grounds in Chesapeake Bay and 
in the sounds of North Carolina. In Currituck 
Sound I have seen one flight that was two hours 
in passing a given point. Tliey came in one 
long wavy rank after another, from twenty to 
thirty of these extended lines of Geese being in 
sight at a time. The Canada Goose is highly 
esteemed as an article of food, and when one 
stops to think of the incessant gun-fire to which 
they have long been subjected, it is hard to under- 
stand why their numbers have not materially de- 
creased. T. Gilbert Pearson. 

The Canada Geese " feed largely on vegetable 
matter, the roots of rushes, weeds, grasses, etc., 
grass, and many seeds and berries, and swallow 
quantities of sand as an aid to digestion. Geese 
either feed on shore, when they pluck up grass 
and other vegetation, or they bring up food 
from the bottom in shoal water by thrusting their 
heads and necks down as they float on the sur- 
face. Like the Brant, they feed on eel-grass, 
which grows on the flats in salt or brackish water, 
in tidal streams, and marshy ponds. Sometimes 
they are destructive to young grass and grain." 
( Forbush.) 

Hutchins's Goose (Branta canadensis Jiittch- 
insi) is precisely like the Canada Goose in 
everything except size ; its length is but 25 to 34 
inches, and its weight is generally three or four 
pounds, rarely exceeding six pounds. It breeds 
in the Arctic region of North America and mi- 
grates south in winter chiefly through western 




Photo by H. K. Job 

NEST AND EGGS OF CANADA GOOSE 
Saskatchewan 

United States and the Mississippi valley. Some- 
times it visits northeastern Asia. Throughout its 
range it is variously known also as Goose-brant, 




a. 




51 



" I- 



[^■^ 



GEESE 



i6i 



Little Canada Goose, Little Wild (louse. Small 
Gray Goose, Little Gray Goose, Short-necked 
Goose, or Mud Goose. 

The White-cheeked Goose ( lh-an(a caitadcnsis 
occidcntalis) and the Cackling Goose [Branta 
canadensis ininiina) are other geographical vari- 
eties of the Canada Goose. The former is found 
in the Pacific coast district of North America, 
hreeding from Prince William Sound and Mit- 
kof Island south to northeastern California, and 
wintering from Washington to south California. 



It is like the Canada, but the under parts are 
darker and the white cheek patches are usually 
separated by a black throat patch. The Cackling 
Goose is like the \\'hite-cheeked but smaller in 
size. It breeds in the western Aleutians and 
Norton Sound south to the northern coast of the 
Alaskan peninsula. In the winter it may be found 
from British Columbia sotith to .San Diego 
county, California; it has sometimes been re- 
ported from Colorado, Iowa, ^^'isconsin, and 
Illinois. 



BRANT 
Branta bernicia glaucogastra {Brclnii) 

A. () V. Number i;ja See Color I'late jj 



Other Names.— Common Brant ; Eastern Brant : 
White-bellied Brant; Light-bellied Brant; Brant Goose; 
Clatter Goose; Crocker; Quink ; Black Brant; Brent 
Goose ; Burnt Goose. 

General Description. — Lengtii, J4 inches. Color 
above, brownish-gray ; below, ashy-gray and white. 
Neck, long and slender. 

Color. — Adults (sexes alike) : Ifrud, iirck. throat, 
and breast, black; on each side of neck a series of 5 
or 6 ti'liite streaks; upper parts, brownish-gray, the 
feathers lighter edged ; rump, darker ; upper tail-coverts, 
white ; primaries and secondaries, dusky ; lower breast, 
pale ashy-gray fading on abdomen and lower wing- 
coverts to white: bill and feet, black; iris, brown. 
IMM.^TURE: Similar, but not so much white on sides of 



neck and wing-coverl^, and the secondaries tipped with 
wliite. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: A depression in the 
ground on marsny ground or sandy beaches; made of 
grass, moss, and feathers and lined with down. Ecus : 
4 to 6, grayish-white. 

Distribution. — Nortliern hemisphere ; breeds on 
,'\rctic islands north of latitude 74° and west to about 
longitude 100°, and on the whole west coast of Green- 
land ; winters on the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts, 
south to North Carolina, rarely to Florida ; has been 
recorded in the interior from Manitoba, Ontario, Colo- 
rado, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and 
I^ouisiana ; accidental in British Columbia and the 
Barbados. 



BLACK BRANT 
Branta nigricans { Laiurciicc) 

.\. CI. U. Xiiiiil.er 174 See Color I'latc 2j 



Description. — Like the Brant, but black of head and 
breast extending over most of under parts, fading on 
abdomen and under tail-coverts into lighter; white neck 
patches usually larger and meeting in front. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nesting similar to and eggs indis- 
tinguishalilc from the Brant's. 

Distribution. — Western North America; breeds on 
the Arctic coast and islands from Point Barrow east 



to near mouth of Anderson River, north probably to 
Melville Island ; common on Siberian coast, Chukchi 
Pennisula, and west to New Siberian Islands ; winters 
on the Pacific coast from British Columbia south to 
San Quintin Bay, Lower California, in the interior of 
Oregon and Nevada, and on the Asiatic coast south to 
Japan ; recorded as a straggler to Massachusetts, New 
York, and New Jersey. 



The Brant is the smallest of otir wild Geese 
and is known to the United States only as a 
winter visitor. Its summer home is beneath the 
very shadow of the frozen pole, for its nest is 
built well within the Arctic circle. When the 



first breath of auttnnn sweeps over our sotithland 
the wild water-fowl begin to apjiear, and every 
successive gale from the North brings its teeming 
thousands. Not among the first arrivals btit soon 
to follow comes the Brant. It does not visit the 



1 62 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



rivers and lakes of the interior like most of its 
kin, but follows down the coast to feed princi- 
pally in the salt and brackish waters of the bays 
and sounds of Virginia and North Carolina. 
Here it may be found in thousands and tens of 
thousands. I recall once sailing through Pamlico 
Sound from Ocracoke to Cape Hatteras, a dis- 
tance of thirty miles, and there was not a minute 
during the entire tri]) but what newly startled 
flocks were in the air before us. 

When the weather is fair Brants gather in very 
large companies to feed on the eel-grass grow- 



come ; they " draw to the idols," the local gunners 
say. They are awkward, slow-fiying birds and 
poor indeed is the marksman who cannot make 
a good score with a shotgun under such condi- 
tions. 

Another popular way of hunting them is by 
means of a battery. This may be described as a 
coffin with canvas wings. It is anchored on the 
Brant's feeding grounds and when the gunner 
lies down in it he is effectively concealed unless 
to a bird almost directly overhead. This is prob- 
ably the most deceptive device used by man to 




Drawing by R. I. Brasher 



BRANT (i nat. size) 
The smallest of the wild Geese 



ing in the shallow water of the shoals, or at high 
tide to drift a chattering host upon the bosom of 
the slow-heaving sound. When strong winds 
blow these large " rafts " are broken up and 
small companies of from two to a dozen fly about 
seeking companionship. It is then that the 
gunners get in their deadly work. In a small 
blind erected on four posts standing on a shoal, 
often three or four miles from land, the hunters 
take their stand. Anchored in the water about 
them are from fifty to one hundred wooden de- 
coys representing Ducks and Brant. It is to these 
dummy sirens that the small flocks of Brant 



outwit the wary wild fowl. I have known bags 
of one hundred Brant to be made from a single 
battery in a day. In viewing such sights one is 
led to wonder that any of these game-birds have 
been able to escape the terrific slaughter to 
which they have long been subject by the hand of 
man. 

On the Pacific coast of North America the 
Black Brant is found. It is very similar to the 
eastern species, but has more black on the under- 
parts and the front of the neck as well as the 
sides has white markings. 

T. Gilbert Pearson. 



GEESE 



163 



EMPEROR GOOSE 
Philacte canagica {Scz'aslianotf) 

A. O. U. Number 176 



Other Names. — Painted Goose; Beach Goose. 

General Description. — Length, j8 inches. Head and 
tail, vvliite: body, bluish-gray. Bill, small and but little 
elevated at base. 

Color. — ^ Adults: Head, sides and back of neck, and 
tail, white, the first two tinged with amber-yellow ; 
throat, blackish ; rest of plumage, bluish-gray ; feathers 
above and below with black subterminal crescents white- 
tipped, producing a scaly appearance ; bill, flesh color 
with white tip ; feet, orange-yellow ; iris, brown. 
Young: Head, dusky speckled with white on top; 
otherwise similar to adult. 



Nest and Eggs. — Nest: A dcjiression on marshy 
islands bordering the sea. at first without semblance of 
nesting material, but as the number of eggs to be laid 
nears completion, the depression is lined with grass, 
leaves, and down. Eggs : 3 to 8, dull whitish. 

Distribution. — Coasts of Alaska; breeds from Kot- 
zebue Sound south to mouth of Kuskokwim. on St. 
Lawrence Island, and also on Chukchi Peninsula, 
Siberia, near East Cape; winters from the Commander 
and Near islands east through the Aleutians to Bristol 
Bay and Sitka; casual in British Columbia and 
California; accidental in Hawaii. 



Edward W. Nelson, who made a special study 
of the Emperor Goose in Alaska, and prepared 
for the National Association of -Audubon 
Societies a leaflet in which he records some of 
his interesting observations, says that this is the 
" least known and the most beautiful " of all 
the wild geese which make their summer home 
in the Far North, in both the Old and the New 
worlds. For these reasons it seems proper to 
give here some account of the bird, even though 
its visits to the United States proper are confined 
to occasional appearances in northern California. 

The main wintering place of the Emperor 
Goose, according to Mr. Nelson, appears to be 
on the southern side of the Peninsula of Alaska 
and the .A.leutian Islands, where the .Aleuts know 
it as the " Beach Goose." The Eskimos of 
the Yukon delta Mr. Nelson found wearing 
" parkies " or outer garments made of the skins 
of Emperor Geese, sewed together. Their native 
name for the bird is " nachau-thluk," As to his 
observations of the bird's habits in the Yukon 
region Mr. Nelson writes; 

"At first the Emperor Geese were difficult to 
ajiproach, but as their numbers increased they 
became less shy. When on the wing, they were 
easily distinguished from the other Geese, even 
at considerable distances, by their proportion- 
ately shorter necks and heavier bodies, as well 
as by their short, rapid wing-strokes, resembling 
those of the Black Brant. Like the latter, they 
usually flew near the ground, rarely more than 
thirty vards high, and commonly so close to the 
ground that their wing-tips almost touched the 
surface on the down stroke. While flying from 
place to place, they give at short intervals a 
harsh, strident call of two svllables, like kla-Iia, 



kla-lia. kla-Iia, entirely dilTerent from the note 
of any other Goose I have ever heard. They are 
much less noisy than either the White-fronted or 
Cackling Geese, which often make the tundra 
resound with their e.xcited cries. 

" Almost at once after their arrival on the 
islands, the Emjjeror Geese appeared to be mated, 
the males walking around the females, swinging 
their heads and uttering low love notes ; and 
incoming flocks quickly disintegrated into pairs 
which moved about together, though often con- 
gregating with many others on flats and sand- 
bars. The male was extremely jealous and pug- 
nacious, however, and immediately resented the 
slightest approach of another toward his choice ; 
and this spirit was shown equally when an indi- 
vidual of another species chanced to come near. 
\\ hen a pair was feeding, the male moved rest- 
lessly about, constantly on the alert, and at the 
first alarm the pair drew near one another, and 
just before takitig wing uttered a deep, ringing 
H-higli, ii-linjli; these, like the flight-notes, hav- 
ing a peculiar deep tone imj)ossible to describe. 
At low tide, as soon as the shore ice disappeared, 
the broad mud-flats along shore were thronged 
with them in pairs and in groups. They were 
industriously dabbling in the mud for food until 
satisfied, and then congregated on bars, where 
thev sat dozing in the sun or lazily arranging 
their feathers. 

" Earlv in June, they began depositing eggs on 
the flat, marshy islands bordering the sea. The 
nests were most numerous a short distance back 
from the muddy feeding-grounds, but stray pairs 
were found nesting here and there farther inland. 
One must have lain with neck outstretched on 
the rrround, as I afterward fotind was their 



164 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



■custom when approached, for the Eskimo and 1 
passed within a few feet on each side of her ; but, 
in scanning the ground for nesting birds, the 
general similarity in tint of the bird and the 
obvious stick of driftwood beside her had com- 
pletely misled our sweeping glances. 

" The same ruse misled us several times ; but 
on each occasion the parent betrayed her presence 
by a startled outcry and hasty departure soon 
after we had passed her and our backs were 
presented. They usually flew to a considerable 
distance, and showed little anxiety over our visit 
to the nests. When first laid the five to eight 
eggs are pure white, but they soon become soiled. 
\\'hen the complement of eggs to be laid ap- 
proaches completion, the parent lines the depres- 
sion in the ground with a soft, warm bed of fine 
grass, leaves, and feathers from her own breast. 
The males were rarely seen near the nests, but 
usually gathered about the feeding-grounds witli 



others of their kind, where they were joined now 
and then by their mates. 

" The young are hatched the last of June or 
early in July, and are led about the tundras by 
both parents until August, when the old birds 
molt their quill-feathers and with the still un- 
fledged young become extremely helpless. At this 
time, myriads of other Geese are in the same 
condition, and the Eskimos made a practice of 
setting up long lines of strong fish-nets on the 
tundras to form pound-traps, or enclosures with 
wide wings leading to them, into which thousands 
were driven and killed for food. The slaughter 
in this way was very great, for the young were 
killed at the same time. Fortunately, in 1909, 
President Roosevelt made a bird-reservation 
covering the delta of the Yukon and the tundra 
to the southward, which includes the main breed- 
ground of the Emperor Goose, and thus took a 
long step toward perpetuating this fine bird." 



SWANS 

Order Anseres ; family Anatida; : subfamily Cygnincr 

HE Swans constitute a subfamily {Cygnincc) of the family Anatida:, and may 
be considered as comprising two genera, which include about eight species. 
The " true " Swans English ornithologists group in a single genus, Cygnus, while 
by American scientists they are called Olor from the Latin, meaning Swan. 
They are large, and almost exclusively aquatic birds and are characterized 
by the length of the neck, which may be even longer than the body, the num- 
ber of vertebrae ranging from twenty-three to twenty-five, while the Geese have 
less than twenty. The Swans are famous for their stately appearance in the 
water, due largely to the constantly changing but always graceful arching of 
their necks. The plumage is generally pure white, though the head is some- 
times marked with rusty hues. 
Like the Geese, the distribution of the Swans is very wide, their range including much 
of the Arctic regions, where they build their rude nests, composed chiefly of reeds, in which 
are deposited about six eggs of a greenish hue. Their food consists mainly of the seeds 
and roots of water plants, though they are accused of destroying great quantities of fish-spawn. 






WHISTLING SWAN 
Olor columbianus {Ord) 



A. O. U. Xumber i8o See Color I'late 22 



Other Names. — Swan : Common Swan ; Wild Swan ; 
American Whistling Swan. 

Length. — ^Yz feet. 

Description. — Nostrils nearer the tip of the bill than 
the eyes. Adults : Entire plumage, pure white ; bill, 
black with a yelloiv spot at base in front of eye; feet, 
black ; iris, brown. Young : Plumage, ashy-gray, darker 



on neck where washed with pale rufous; bill, partly 
flesh color ; feet, yellowish flesh color. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : On the ground in or on the 
borders of marshes; a large structure of .grass, moss, 
weed stalks, and herbage of different kinds. Eggs; 
3 to 6, dull white. 

Distribution. — North .Aimerica ; breeds from north- 




I 1 1>5 I 



1 66 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



ern Alaska south to Becharof Lake, Alaska Peninsula, 
and on Arctic islands from about latitude 74° south to 
northern Mackenzie and northwestern Hudson Bay ; in 
migration occurs west to Bering Island; winters on the 
Pacific coast from southern British Columbia, rarely 
south to southern California, and in the interior from 



Lake Erie and southern Illinois to coast of Louisiana 
and Texas, and on Atlantic coast from Delaware and 
Maryland to South Carolina, rarely north to Massa- 
chusetts and south to Florida ; casual in northern 
Mexico; accidental in the British Isles and in the 
Bermudas. 



On the coasts and islands of the Arctic Sea, in 
far-off archipelagoes of the great frozen North, 
the Whistling Swan builds its huge nest. \\'hen 
the mother leaves it she covers the egg:- care- 
fully with the mossy nest lining to insiu'e warmth 
and safety. The eggs are hatched by the last of 
June and the cygnets are led to the water where 



some high-keyed notes may come from the 
younger birds but the old males sound the bass 
horn. As the flock par.ses over, high in air. the 
leader utters a high note like that of a flageolet 
which Elliot describes as sounding like who-who- 
7^'lid and this, repeated by flock after flock, may 
have given the bird its name. 




Courtesy of National .Association of Audubon Societies 
and of Mr. Jolm Heywood 



SWANS IN WINTER ON HEYWOOD ESTATE, GARDNER, MASSACHUSETTS 
Showing how waterfowl keep open a hole in the ice 



they feed and grow under the midnight stin. 
Soon the parents molt out all their flight-feathers 
and, as the whole family is then unable to fly, 
they often fall victims to the natives who hunt 
them remorselessly at this season, but native 
tribes are few ; the country is a wide wilderness 
and many of the birds escape the dangers of the 
north. Late in September or in October they are 
on their way southward where they are to face 
greater perils. 

It is hard to see just why this bird is called the 
\\niistling .Swan. Its calls have great variety: 



The flight seems to divide into three sections; 
one following the Atlantic coast ; another the 
Mississippi valley, and a third the Pacific coast. 
The flocks pass mainly overland in an unwaver- 
ing line at great heights. In fair weather they 
seem to avoid civilization, flying so high as to 
be unnoticed by human eyes and making but few 
stops, therefore they are considered scarce in 
most of the northern States of the Union. Very 
rarely, when caught in storms and over-weighted 
with sleet and snow, they are forced to come to 
the ground. 



SWANS 



167 



Such a catastroplie occurred to the flocks in 
northwestern Pennsylvania on March 22. 1871). 
Swatis came down in many places in four 
counties, in pmids, streams, fields, or villages. 
Large numbers were killed by men and boys 
with guns, rifles, and clubs. Twenty-five were 
captured alive in one village, as they were worn 
out and helpless after their battle with the storm. 
Most of those that alighted within si.ght of human 
habitations were slaughtereil wantonlv. ( George 
B. Sennett, in Bull.' N iif tall Orn. Club. 1880^ 
In some cases the Great Lakes are their refuge, 
if they can reach those waters, and often they 
are saved by alighting under the lee of some point 
or island, but now and then a flock comes down 
in the Niagara River and is carried over the 
falls. \\'henever this happens and the wearied 
and often injured birds are cast up against the 
ice bridge or along the shores, people come in 
crowds and kill with .guns or clubs the birds that 
have passed alive through the fury of the ele- 
ments. 



There is no safety for a .Swan in this country 
except it be high in air or far out on open water. 
Such refuge is found on the broad waters of the 
South. The great flocks that once frequented the 
coast in winter from Massachusetts to South 
Carolina are gone, but the species still winters in 
large numbers on the Carolina coasts. 

The son.g of the dying Swan has been regarded 
as a pleasing myth for many years, but Elliot 
asserts that he heard it once at Currituck Sound, 
when a Swan, mortally wounded in the air, set 
its wings and, sailin.g slowly down, began its 
death-song, continuing it until it reached the 
water " nearly half a mile away." The song was 
unlike any other Swan note that he had ever 
heard. It was jilaintive and musical and 
sounded at times like the soft running of an 
octave. Inquiry among local gunners revealed 
the fact that some had heard similar sounds from 
.Swans that had been fatally hurt. Need we 
wonder that the Swan was a favorite bird of 
mytholo.gy? Edwakd Howe Forbush. 



TRUMPETER SWAN 
Olor buccinator i Kichardsoii) 



A. I I r. Xumb 



181 



Description. — Lanjcr than Whistling S'a'an : nostrils 
midway between tip of bill and eyes. Adults: Plum- 
age, pure white or with wash of rusty on head ; bill, 
lores and feet, black; iris, brown. Young: Bill and 
feet, not perfectly black; plumage, grayish; head and 
upper neck, rusty. Length, 5 feet. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: On an elevated knoll near 
water; constructed of grass, stalks, feathers, and down. 
Eggs : 5 to 7, dull white. 

Distribution. — Interior and western North America; 



breeds from the Rocky Mountains to western shore of 
Hudson Bay and from the Arctic Ocean to about lati- 
tude 60° ; fromerly bred south to Indiana, Missouri. 
Nebraska, Montana, and Idaho, and casually west to 
[•"ort Yukon and British Columbia; winters from south- 
ern Indiana and southern Illinois south to Te,\as, and 
from southern British Columbia to southern Califo'"nia; 
casual in migration in the Rocky Mountain region of 
United States ; accidental in New York and Delaware. 
Now of rare occurrence nearly everywhere. 



The Trumpeter Swan, the largest of North 
American wild fowl, represents a vanishing race. 
In most parts of North America it is a bird of 
the ])ast. Formerly it ranged over the greater 
portion of the continent. Today it is seen rather 
rarely in the wilder regions of the interior. 

Great flights of Swans were observed by the 
early settlers on the Atlantic seaboard from 
Maine to Georgia. No one knows what propor- 
tion of these were Trumpeters, but, as the Trum- 
peter was recorded on the Atlantic coast as late 
as the last half of the nineteenth century, there 
is some reason for the belief that some of the 



early flocks were of this species. It was once the 
prevailing Swan of California and was abundant 
in Oregon and Washington, but it has now prac- 
tically disappeared from the Pacific coast. It 
always was a bird of the fresh waters and did 
not, like the \Miistlin.g Swan, often frequent salt 
water bays and estuaries. \\'hen the country was 
first setted the Trumpeter bred in the northern 
United States, and from there northward to the 
fresh-water lakes and ponds in the vicinity of 
Hudson Bay, where it was very numerous, and 
even to the shores of the Arctic Ocean. 

Little is known about the breeding habits of 



1 68 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



this bird, but. like the Canada Goose, the male 
guards and defends the female, eggs, and young. 
In autumn when the grip of the frost congealed 
the surface of its native lakes and streams the 
Trumpeter gathered in mighty flocks, circled high 
in air and moved southward in great flights using 
the V-shaped formation so characteristic of mi- 
grating Canada Geese. This is written in the 
past tense as there are no longer any great flights 
of the species. Then, as now, the Mississippi 
valley was a highway of bird migration and 
there, at times, in autumn, when the icy north 
wind blew, the sunset sky was overcast by clouds 
of waterfowl moving in dim strata near and far, 
in varying lines, crossing, converging, ascending, 
descending, but all trending southward toward 
waters as yet untouched by the frost. The rush- 
ing of their wings and their musical cries filled 
the air with a chorus of unrelated sounds, blend- 
ing in rough harmonies. Above them all, in the 
full light of the setting sun great flocks of Cranes 
passed along the sky, and higher still in the glow- 
ing firmament rode the long " baseless triangles " 
of the Swans, sweeping across the upper air in 
exalted and unswerving flight, spanning a con- 
tinent with the speed of the wind, their forms 
glistening like silver in the sunset glow. They 
presented the most impressive spectacle in bird 
life ever seen in North America. When at last 
they found their haven of rest they circled with 
many hoarse trumpetings in wide spirals from 
that giddy height reconnoitering the country as 
they swung lower and lower until, their ap- 



prehensions at rest, they sailed slowly down 
to drink, bathe, feed, and rest on quiet, peace- 
ful waters. 

Swans feed almost entirely by reaching down 
in shallow water and pulling up the vegetation 
from the bottom with the bill. Animal food such 
as shellfish is taken to some extent, mainly in the 
spring. 

The reason for the rapid decrease of the 
Trumpeter is not far to seek. It is the largest 
and most conspicuous of waterfowl. Wherever, 
in settled regions, Swans were seen to alight, 
every kind of a firearm that could do duty was 
requisitioned and all men turned out to hunt the 
great white birds. They were not mucli safer 
in the almost uninhabited North, as the demands 
of civilization pursued them there. The records 
of the traffic in Swans' down tell the story of 
decrease in the territory of the Hudson Bay Com- 
pany. Just previous to the middle of the nine- 
teenth century about five hundred Swans' skins 
were traded annually at Isle a la Crosse and 
about three hundred were taken yearly at Fort 
Anderson. These were mainly skins of the 
Trumpeter Swan. The number sold annually 
by the Comj)any slowly decreased from 1 312 in 
1854 to 122 in 1877. In 1853 Athabasca turned 
out 251, in 1889 only 33. In 1889 and 1890 
Isle a la Crosse sent out but two skins for each 
outfit. (Preble. North American Fauna.) So 
the demands of fashion and the blood lust will 
follow the Trumpeter to the end. 

Edw.xrd Howe Forbusii. 





ORDER OF LAMELLIROSTRAL GRALLATORES 

Order OJoiiloglossa; ; family Phoenicopteridcc 

|NTIL comparatively recent times the Flamingoes were associated by ornithol- 
ogists — as they still are by many others — with the Storks and Herons. 
It is now known that they constitute an order which is the link between the 
order of Lamellirostral Swimmers and that of the Herons, vStorks, and Ibises. 
The Persians recognized this relationship to the Geese when they gave to 
the Flamingo the name of Kaj-i-siirkh, or Red Goose. 

Of the seven species comprising the Flamingo family, five occur in this hemi- 
sphere, but only one comes within the borders of the United States. The 
family has several peculiar and interesting characteristics. In the first place, 
the plumage of all Flamingoes is very beautiful, the prevailing colors var>'ing 
from rosy pink to bright scarlet. Again (and unlike the Herons, Cranes, and 
Ibises) the Flamingo's long neck is not due to multiplication of the vertebra, of which there 
are but eighteen, but to the lengthening of the separate bones. Furthermore, the bird's bill 
is quite distinct in its structure : the lower mandible is a bo.\like affair, broad and deep, into 
which the upper mandible, which moves freely, closes like a lid, and the sides are fitted 
with gill-like processes, which act as sieves, while the whole is bent sharply downward near 
the tip. This curious organ is thrust into the mud in an inverted position, the point 
being directed backward. In this manner the bird seeks its food, which consists of frogs, 
shellfish, mollusks, and aquatic herbage, strained from the mud by the sieve apparatus. 

Any bird or beast of strange appearance and unusual habits is likely to be credited with 
almost any weird practice. The Flamingo furnishes an illustration of this in the accounts 
of its nesting habits which long passed current, and some of which are still believed by many. 
For probably the oldest and one of the most graphic of these accounts we are indebted to 
William Dampier, the seventeenth-century English freebooter and explorer, who thus 
described the nesting of the Flamingo (near Curacao) in his famous book, .4 A'civ \'oyage 
Around tlic World: 

" They build their Nests in shallow Ponds, where there is much Mud, which they scrape 
together, making little Hillocks, like small Islands, appearing out of the Water, a foot and 
a half high from the bottom. They make the foundations of these Hillocks broad, bringing 
them up tapering to the top, where they leave a small hollow pit to lay their Eggs in; and 
when they either lay their Eggs, or hatch them, they stand all the while, not on the Hillock, 
but close by it with their Legs on the ground and in the water, resting themselves against 
the Hillock, and covering the hollow nest upon it with their Rumps: For their Legs are 
very long; and building thus, as they do, upon the ground, they could neither draw their 
legs conveniently into their Nests, nor sit down upon them otherwise than by resting their 
whole bodies there, to the prejudice of their Eggs or their young, were it not for this admi- 
rable contrivance, which they have by natural instinct. They never lay more than two 
Eggs, and seldom fewer. The young ones cannot fly till they are almost full grown; but 
they will run prodigiously fast; yet we have taken many of them." 

Of course, neither Dampier nor anybody else ever saw Flamingoes incubating their 
eggs in this manner; what he wrote was what had been told him, or what he conjectured 
would have to be done by a bird with such tremendously long legs; for we know, as a matter 
of fact, that Flamingoes cover their eggs verv' much as other birds do, that is to say, by sit- 
ting on them with their legs doubled up and the knees stretched out backward and coming 
about under the end of the tail. Yet undoubtedly by a great many ornithologies, or by 
detached articles still in circulation, this absurd invention is still perpetuated. 






< £ 



i 



/ 



^ V 




,170) 



FLAMINGOES 



171 



FLAMINGO 
Phoenicopteriis ruber LiiiiKrus 

A. (), V. .\ umber 182 



Other Names. — Scarlet Flamingo : American I-'Ia- 
min.yi' 

Description. — Adui.t.s : Plumage, scarlet ; primaries 
and must secondaries, black legs, lake red ; bill, black on 
end. orange in middle, base and bare skin of head, 
yellow. This perfect plumage rare; birds as usually 
seen are mostly dull pink with vermilion and scarlet only 
on wings. YoL'XG : The young are hatched in white 
down with a straight bill, which gradually acquires the 
crook. First plumage, grayish-white with dusky wings ; 
this i)asses through pink. rosy, and red to its full scarlet. 



several years being required to perfect the plumage. 
Length of adult, 4 feet. 

Nest and Eggs.— Nest : A conical structure on 
remote inaccessible islands, of mud or marl scraped up 
by the bird's bill, about 18 inches in diameter at the 
base and about a foot across the top ; from a few 
inches to more than a foot high. Ecgs : i or 2, white. 

Distribution.— Atlantic coast of subtroiiical and 
tropical .\merica, from the Bahamas. Florida Keys, 
and Yucatan to Brazil, and in the Galapagos; accidental 
in South Carolina. 



Tlie great Scarlet Flamingo is a rare bird 111 
the United States. Occasionally a few are seen 
at the extreme southern end of Florida and there 
was undoubtedly a time, manv years ago, when 
they bred in that region. I saw a specimen at 
Palm lieach in 1908 that had been recently killed 
near there, but they probably never wander much 
north of this point. They frecjuent shallow la- 
goons or flooded mud flats, and are usually found 
in flocks. 

In 1904 Dr. Frank M. Chapman found and 
studied a colony of perhaps two thotisand pairs 
that were nesting on the island of Andros in the 
Bahama Islands. His intimate photographic 
studies rnade at this time were the greatest orni- 
thological trium])h in bird photography that 
had then been attained. It may be added that 
his ]niblished notes constitute practically all we 
know today of the nesting habits of this bird. 
The nests in this Flamingo city, he tells us. were 
pillars of dried mud, a foot or more in height, 
that had been scraped up by the birds from the 
immediate vicinity. 

(^)n each of these one white chalky eg'^ was 
laid. While incubating, the old birds do not sit 
astride the nest as shown in many old illustra- 
tions, but double their legs under them. There 
was no cover in the way of trees or bushes for 
a long distance, but here on the semi-flooded, 
marl-covered plain the birds were fairly secure 
from human intrusion, as the region was isolated 
and particularly difficult to approach. 

Upon first entering his jihotographic blind 
which he had erected near the field of Flamin- 
goes' nests. Dr. Chapman had grave ajiprehen- 
sions as to whether the birds, all of which had 
flown to a distance, wotdd return to their eggs. 



In Caiiif^s and Cruises of an Ornitlwlocjist he 
tells us something of their behavior, when, after 
his companion had departed from the neigbor- 
hood, he crouched in his blind and waited. 




Drawing by Henry Thurston 

FLAMINGOES ( ,', nat. size) 
Rare birds in the United States 

" Without further delay, the birds returned to 
their homes. They came on foot, a great red 
cohort marching steadily toward itie. I felt like 
a s])y in an enemy's camp. Might not at least 
one [)air of the nearly four thousand eyes detect 
something imnatiiral in the newly grown bush 



172 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



almost within their city gates? No sign of alarm, 
however, was shown ; without confusion, and as 
if trained to the evolution, the birds advanced 
with stately tread to their nests. There was a 
bowing of a forest of slender necks as each bird 
lightly touched its egg or nest with its bill ; then, 
all talking loudly they stood up on their nests ; 
the black wings were waved for a moment and 
bird after bird dropped forward on its egg. 
After a vigorous wriggling motion, designed 



evidently to bring the egg into close contact with 
the skin, the body was still, but the long neck and 
head were for a time in constant motion, preen- 
ing, picking material at the base of the nest, dab- 
bling in a nearby puddle, or perhaps drinking 
from it. Occasionally a bird sparred with one 
of the three or four neighbors which were within 
reach, when, bill grasping bill, there ensued a 
brief and harmless test of strength." 

T. Gilbert Pe.\rson. 




Photo by Leo E. Miller of the American iviuseuni uf Natural History 

FLAMINGOES IN THE ZOOLOGICAL PARK, BUENOS AIRES 



ORDER OF HERONS, STORKS, IBISES, ETC. 

Order Hcrodioiics 

NDER this order are grouped the long-legged wading birds generally found 
along shores or on muddy flats. Their necks are long, but are easily bent into 
a strongly curved S-shape. Their wings are rounded, long, and broad, and the 
tail short. The toes are four in number, all on the same level, long, slender, 
and without webs. The head is more or less naked with small, elevated nostrils, 
and the skull slopes gradually to the base of the bill. The bill is variable 
and divides the order into three suborders: the Spoonbills and Ibises (Ibidcs) 
have the bill grooved along the side from nostril to tip, a peculiarity not found 
in the other members of the order; the Storks and Wood Ibises iCiconicc) have 
the bill very thick at the base and curved near the tip which is rather blunt ; 
the Herons, Egrets, Bitterns, etc. (Hcrodii) have the liill straight and sharp-pointed. The 
first of these suborders, as its name indicates, contains two families, and the others one 
each. 

Their food is principally fish, reptiles, amphibians, moUusks, and other aquatic animals. 
The food is seized by a quick, straight thrust of the bill. Because of the structure of their 
feet, they are naturally good perchers and generally nest in trees. The nests are clumsy 
and crude, the eggs few. The young are naked, or nearly so, when hatched, and are fed 
and cared for in the nest by the parents. 




SPOONBILLS, IBISES, AND STORKS 

Order HcroJioiics : families Platalcidcc. Ibididar. and Ciconiidcc 




HE Spoonbills are distributed quite generally throughout the tropical and sub- 
tropical regions and are grouped in three genera including five or six species, 
of which the only American representative is the Roseate Spoonbill. As a 
family they are gregarious, especially during the breeding period, when they 
gather sometimes in very large colonies in marshes and bayous and build 
platform-like nests in low trees or bushes. The eggs number from three to 
five, and are white, spotted with varying shades of brown. 

Structurally the Spoonbills are similar to the Ibises, except in their pos- 
session of the curious spoon-shaped bill which gives them their name. This 
is plainly a special adaptation, and is made use of by the bird in obtaining its 
food, which consists of frogs, aquatic insects, shellfish, mollusks, and small fish, 
and which the bird captures by submerging its bill and swinging it from side to side in a 
semicircular sweep imparted by a corresponding movement of the body. While thus feed- 
ing the birds stalk about with grave and dignified mien, seldom making long pauses, as do 
the Herons, to wait for their prey to approach. While resting, either in a tree or on land, 
they often stand for an hour or more on one leg, after the manner of many of their kind. 
Their flight is accomplished by an easy flapping operation, and is accompanied by some 
soaring, with head and legs outstretched meanwhile. 

The plumage of the Spoonbills varies from almost pure white to the beautiful com- 
bination of white and rose or pinkish tints which characterize the species found in this 
country. During the breeding season the adults develop a fine crest, which depends from 
the nape of the neck. Spoonbills have no true vocal organs, though the windpipe is very 

[I7,?l 



174 BIRDS OF AMERICA 

long, and at the lower end coils approximately in the form of a figure eight, somewhat after 
the manner of that of the Cranes. The common call is a harsh quack, and the birds often 
make a clattering sound by snapping their mandibles together. 

As the Spoonbills differ from the Ibises in the peculiar structure of their bill, so the 
Ibises are unlike the Storks, their close relatives, in the difTerentiation of the same organ, 
which is evenly curved, somewhat slender, more or less cylindrical, and comparativel}' soft, 
except at the tip, while that of the Storks is generally straight, rigid, and hard. Of the 
eighteen or more members of the Stork family scattered over the warmer parts of the earth, 
only one, the Wood Ibis, is regularly found in America north of the southern boundary 
of the United States. 

Certain of the Ibis species are gregarious in the breeding season, while others are rather 
solitary. The nests may be placed in low bushes, on trees, or occasionally among reeds, 
or even in holes in ledges or clifYs. They are composed of plant-stems and sticks, and may 
or may not be lined with straw, roots, or herbage. The eggs are from two to four in number 
and may be greenish-blue, pale blue, olive-green, greenish-white, or sometimes brownish, 
while some of the lighter-colored forms may show brownish or reddish markings. The 
range of the Ibis is virtually cosmopolitan. About thirty species are known, and these are 
referable to about twenty genera. About one-third of the species are of New World 
occurrence. 

Remarkable variation in both proportions and coloration are shown in this family; 
some species are graceful in their outlines and others are clumsy and uncouth, while plumage 
colors range from neutral or dull tints to gaudy and brilliant hues. Most of the species 
walk with marked grace and deliberation, while the flight is generally like though perhaps 
rather more rapid than that of the Spoonbills. The Ibises' diet includes aquatic insects, 
shellfish, moUusks, worms, small fish, frogs, grasshoppers, beetles, and lizards. In their 
search for their food, when it is in the water, the birds sweep the bill to and fro, though 
they also use it frequently for probing in mud or soft sand. 

The Ibis was one of the most sacred birds of the ancient Egyptians, and as such was 
the subject of many myths and superstitions. Even to-day it is one of the characteristic 
birds of the Nile valley, and in lower Egypt it is called Aboii-mcngel," Father of the Sickle," 
the reference being, of course, to its curved bill. Herodotus credited the bird with being 
a destroyer of snakes, and Cuvier recorded finding the remains of a reptile in the stomach 
of a mummied Ibis, but it seems clear that such creatures do not form part of the bird's 
normal diet. 



ROSEATE SPOONBILL 
Ajaia ajaja {L'mmcus) 

A. O, U. Xunibtr 183 

Other Names. — Pink Curlew; Rosy Spoonbill. wings, tail, and abdomen: edge ot wing, dark brown. 

General Description. — Length, t,2 inches. Plumage, Three years are required to reach the perfect adult 

white with some pink or red. Adults have the head and plumage, 

throat bare. Nest and Eggs. — Nest: A platform of sticks in 

Color. — Upper neck and back, white, sometimes dense tropical marshes, usually in cypress trees or man- 
tinged with pink ; wings and nndcr /'arts, delicate rose- grove bushes, from 8 to 20 feet above ground. Eggs : 
madder; plumes of lower foreneck, lesser wing-coverts, 3 or 4, white or bufify, blotched and spotted with various 
upper and under tail-coverts, rich carmine; shafts of shades of brown. 

wing- and tail-feathers, carmine: tail, brownish-yellow Distribution. — North and South .'Vmerica, from 

with a patch of same color on sides of breast: the skin Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia south to 

of the bald head varied with dull green, orange, and Patagonia and the Falkland Islands; formerly casual 

black: bill, with various shades of green, blue, yellow, north to Pennsylvania and the lower Ohio valley 

and black ; legs, lake red ; iris, carmine. Young: Head, (Indiana and Illinois'): accidental in California, 

feathered ; general plumage, white tinged with pink on Colorado, Kansas, and Wisconsin. 



SPOONBILLS, IBISES, STORKS 



175 



There is no large wading bird of North 
America that bears such brilliant feathers as the 
Roseate Siwonbill. The general jiluiiiage is pink 
with the lesser wing-coverts of the adult a bright 
carmine color. This part of the ]ilumage i - 
known as the " drip." The bill is long and flatly 
spoon-shaped. The bird gets its food by wading, 
swinging its opened bill from side to side 
through the nuui and water, as it advances. For- 
merly the Spoonbills, or " Pink Curlews." as the 
Florida hunters know them, were extensively 
shot and their feathers shipped to Jacksonville 
where they were made into fans to sell to winter 
tourists. Today the Ijirds are exlreniely rare, 
thanks to the energy of the plume-hunter and the 
bird-shooting touri.st. But for the wardens em- 
ploved bv the National Association of .\udubon 
Societies they would probably now be extinct in 
Florida. A few are sometimes seen in Louisiana 
and possibly a thousand are left in Florida, but 
unless public sentiment in that State should re- 
ceive a radical and sudden shift toward conser- 
vation, the bird will probably not long survive. 

Spoonbills travel in flocks, sometimes in com- 
pany with Ibises. They fly in long diagonal lines, 
each bird being behind and just to one side of the 
one in front. When seen among the dark green 
foliage of the mangrove trees, or while in flight, 
their wings reflect the sunlight and they show to 
advantage and make an xmusual ap])eal to the 
bird-student. For the most jiart they are silent, 
although when feeding or when about their nests 
a low croaking note is constantly uttered, as 
though the birds were conversing among them- 
selves. 

Dr. Frank M. Chapman, speaking of the 
actions of the young in a nesting colony he 
visited in Mexico, says: 

'■ \Mien their parents returned they were all 
attention and on the alert for food. On such 
occasions they ustially stood in a row on the edge 
of the nest facing the old birds, and in a most 



comical manner swung the head and neck up and 
down. I have seen balanced mechanical toys 
which would make almost exactly the same mo- 
tion. The toys, however, were silent, while the 
little Spoonbills all joined in a chorus of tremu- 
lous, trilling whistles, which grew louder and 
more rapid as the parent a]iproached. 




Drawing by Henry Thurstun 

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (.; nat. size) 
One of the rarest and most brilliant waders of the South 

" \Miat their parent brought them 1 could not 
see, nor for that matter, could they. But with a 
confidence born of experience, the bird that had 
first opportunity pushed its bill and head far 
down into its parent's mouth to get whatever was 
there. This singular operation sometimes lasted 
as long as ten seconds, and it was terminated 
only by the parent which, much against the will 
of its offspring, disengaged itself ; then after a 
short rest a second yoimgster was fed and thus in 
due time the whole family was satisfied." 

T. Gilbert Pe.\rson. 



WHITE IBIS 
Guara alba ( Liiiiurus) 

.\. O L". .XuinLer 184 

Stone Curlew 



Other Names. — Spanish Curlew 
(ynnnR) : ^\'llite Curlew. 

Length. — 26 inches. 

Color. — .Adults: Pluiuaijc. p\irc n'hilc ; tips of 
several outer primaries, (/lossy blaek ; l)are face. bill. 
\'oi.. I — 13 



and legs, orange, red. or carmine, the bill tipped with 
dusky; iris, pale bluish-white. Young: Dull grayish- 
brown; rump, base of tail, aiid under parts, white; bare 
space on head, restricted and dull yellowish ; bill, 
yellowish-orange; legs, bluish-gray; iris, brown. 



176 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



Nest and Eggs. — Nest : Usually in mangrove 
thicket; constructed from twigs of those bushes. Eggs: 
,? to 5. grayish-blue or whitish, blotched and spotted 
with dull yellow, rufous, and umber-brown. 

Distribution. — North and South .America, from 



Lower California, Texas, and South Carolina south to 
West Indies, Brazil, and Peru, and casually to Great 
-Salt Lake, South Dakota, Illinois, Vermont, Connecti- 
cut, and Long Island; winters from Gulf of Mexico 
southward. 



Some years ago the National Association of 
Audubon Societies purcliai^ed as a bird-reserva- 
tion a [wrtion of Orange Lake, Florida, that con- 






Nis;jc^ 



Drawing by Henry iiiuiatua 

WHITE reiS (! nat. size) 
A flock returning to their nests at evening is a pretty sight 

tains an island which has long been the breeding 
place of innumeraljle water-birds. Those years 
when the water is not too high to cover their 
food White Ibises to the number of about nine 
thousand pairs come here to breed, as do the 
Egrets, Herons, and Water Turkeys that are 
present every season. Their nests are budt in 
the low alder trees that cover the island and are 
placed at all heights from one to fifteen feet. 
They are bulky and their weight added to that of 
the heavy birds plays sad havoc with the branches. 
The eggs are beautifully spotted; the young are 
crested with black down. At times the trees are 
so covered with White Ibises that at a distance 
they appear to be weighted down with ;now. 

The birds, of course, have their natural ene- 
mies. This island literally swarms with water 
moccasins in summer. They take many of the 
eggs and perhaps some of the newly hatched 



young. Vultures roost on the island and they 
devour many young. The most annoying of all 
the creatures that disturb the Ibises, however, 
are the Fish Crows. Numbers of them are on 
the island all day long and the quantities of eggs 
they consume is astonishing. When the nest is 
robbed these birds will lay again, and the Crows 
keep them producing eggs for many weeks. The 
warden in charge estimated that in the summer 
of 191 3 every female Ibis laid an average of 
eleven eggs, although four is the normal number 
for a bird each season. 

These birds fly in long ranks and make a very 
pretty sight when towards evening they begin 
coming in from their feeding grounds which are 
often many miles away. Low over the water to 
avoid the wind they come into view, rank after 
rank as far as the eye can see. With black-tipped 
wings sweeping up and down with never a pause 
the birds advance until near the island when 
they rise in unison and scatter about among the 
trees to spend the night. 

In the United States the White Ibis breeds 
as far north as the swamp country of southern 
Illinois and the rice regions of South Carolina. 
I have seen them on the coast as far north as 




Phuto by T. H. Jauksun Courtesy of Nat. Asso. Aud. Soc, 

NEST AND EGGS OF WHITE IBIS 

At Orange Lake, Florida 

Beaufort, North Carolina, but only in the late 
summer, and only then the immature birds who 
exhibit the same wanderlust as the voung of some 



SPOONBILLS, IBISES, STORKS 



177 



species of Herons. The youiiE; birds before they 
assume the adult plumage are called " Stone Cur- 
lews " by the fishermen, and the old birds, which 
are popularly supposed to be of a dilTerent species, 
are usuallv referred to as " Spanish Curlews " 



or " White Curlews." The White Ibis is in no 
sense a Curlew, but its Ions,', rounded, curved bill 
has doubtless suggested this name to many inter- 
ested but unscientific observers. 

T. Gilbert Pearson. 



GLOSSY IBIS 

Plegadis autumnalis {Liiincrns) 

A. O. U. Xumber 186 



Other Names. — Bay Ibis; Green Ibis; Ord's Ibis; 
Liver ; Black Curlew. 

Description. — Length. 24 inches. Adults : Rich 
f'lirf^tish-chcstnut shading on head. back, wings and tail, 
to glossy purplish-green ; sides and under tail-coverts 
dusky-green; primaries, greenish-black; bare skin 
around eye slaty-blue; no ichitc fcatlwrs on j\icc: bill, 
dusky; legs, dark grayish; iris, brown. Young: Head 
and neck, grayish-brown streaked with whitish ; upper 
parts, dull dusky-green ; below, grayish-brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : In marshy ground or low 
bushes ; constructed of dead reeds, plant stems, etc. ; 
ratlier well built and well cupped. E(;r;s : 3. deep dull 
bluish-green. 

Distribution. — Tropical and subtropical regions, 
mainly of eastern hemisphere; rare and local in south- 
eastern United States from Louisiana to Florida, and 
in the West Indies; casual north to Missouri, Wiscon- 
sin, Michigan, Ontario, and Nova .Scotia. 



WHITE-FACED GLOSSY IBIS 
Plegadis guarauna {Liniucu.s) 

A. O U. Xumlicr i.S; 

General Description.— Length, 24 inches. Predoini- 
nating color, rich purple. 

Color. — Adults: Head. neck, ancl entire under parts, 
rich purplish-chestnut tinged with iridescent violet on 
head and nape ; back and wing, iridescent violet-green 
and purple ; shoulders, rich wine-red, less lustrous than 
wing; primaries, green with brassy luster; rump, upper 
tail-coverts, and tail, green with purplish reflections ; 
lower tail-coverts, similar, contrasting with chestnut 
abdomen; hare area on head, lake red: a margin 
of white feathers surroundinn bare s!'aee on head, 
including chin ; bill, dusky, reddening on tip ; legs and 




^^v 














GLOSSY IBIS 

Two adult birds, one nest, and four young. Bird Island, Orange 
Lake, Florida 



feet, dull reddish; iris, red. Young: Plumage, entirely 
green ; bill, dusky, blotched or banded with pinkish- 
white ; legs, black; this coloration changing through 
brownish or grayish to the mature iridescent plumage. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : On reed beds ; constructed 
of dead reeds attached to upright stalks of living ones ; 
very well and compactly built with a well-shaped cup. 
Eggs : 3 or 4. deep bluish-green. 

Distribution, — Temperate and trojiical .America from 
southern Oregon, Arizona, Te.xas, and Florida south 
through Mexico to southern South America ; casual 
north to British Columbia, Wvoming, and Nebraska. 



The Glossy Ibis and the White-faced Glossy 
Ibis are identical in appearance, except that the 
former does not possess the small patch of white 
feathers in the region about the base of the bill. 



Both birds are inhabitants of tropical and sub- 
tropical America. They are extremely rare in 
eastern United States and appear to be confined 
largely to Florida. The only place they have 



178 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



been known to nest in that State in many years 
is on the Audubon Society's bird-island in 
Orange Lake. As many as seven pairs have 
built their nests here in a season. 

In April, iqi4, I hid in the top of a willow 




Cnurtesy of Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 
WHITE-FACED GLOSSY IBIS (J nat. size) 
He is capable of a flight of ten or twenty miles in search of breakfast 

tree on this island to watch the actions of the 
thousands of nesting Herons and White Ibises 
in the bushes below and about me. While thus 
concealed I had the good fortune to see six of 



these rare birds. At a distance they appear to 
be dull black, but upon coming closer the plu- 
mage was seen to possess a rich metallic luster 
that shone with various hues of green and purple 
as the birds turned in the sunlight. One that lit 
in a bush nearby had a white face which marked 
it as a White-faced Glo:.sy. The nests were built 
in the bushes in a manner similar to that of the 
other Herons and Ibises. They were very sub- 
stantial structures of sticks and twigs. 

The (ilossy Ibis is the species most generally 
supposed to be found in the West Indies and 
Florida, the White-faced Glossy on the other 
hand being regarded as a western bird. The 
latter breed in the extensive marshes of Malheur 
Lake in southeastern Oregon, making their nest,; 
in the interminable jungles of the tule reeds that 
here cover the marshes far and wide. 

They are gregarious birds at all times and after 
the nesting season wander about from one feed- 
ing ground to another. The people of the Mal- 
heur country esteem them highly as food, and 
despite the law thev are at times killed and eaten. 
In the coastal regions of Texas these Ibises are 
met with in various sections and here also they 
are shot. " Black Curlew " is the name by which 
gunners usually know them. They frequent the 
low, moist grounds about lakes, or over-flooded 
meadows. Often the feeding grounds are long 
distances from their nests, but the Glossy Ibis 
is a good flyer and quite capable of taking a 
flight of ten or twenty miles to get its breakfast. 
The food consists of crustaceans, especially craw- 
fish, and water insects of various kinds. Frogs 
at times fall beneath the lightning stroke of the 
long curved bill. There should be a strong law 
in every State where this elegant wader is found, 
making the deed of killing one a misdemeanor 
punishable by heavy fine — and the law should 
be rigidly enforced. T. CiILhert Pear.son. 



WOOD IBIS 



Mycteria americana LiniKnis 

A, O U. Number i88 



Other Names. — American Wood Stork ; Colorado 
Turkey: Goard, or Gourd. Head; Iron Head; Gannet. 

Description. — Length, 4 feet. Anui.TS : IV liitc ; wing- 
quills. I^riiiiary coverts, and tail, glossy grccnish-black : 
the bald head and neck, grayish-blue, creamy, and yel- 
lowish ; bill, dusky along ridge, dingy yellowish on sides 
and below; le.gs, bluish-gray; iris, dark brown. Young: 
Dark gray with blackish wings and tail : head and neck, 
downy feathered, becoming bald after first molt. 



Nest and Eggs. — Nest: .\ platform of sticks in 
trees, sometimes 100 feet up; the same sites are occupied 
every year and the nests sometimes become very bulky 
from the addition of material each season. Eggs: 2 or 
3. white. 

Distribution. — Temperate and tropical .America from 
southern California, Arizona. Texas. Ohio valley, and 
South Carolina south to .'\rgentina : casual north to 
Montana, Wisconsin, New York, and Vermont. 



SPOONBILLS, IBISES, STORKS 



179 



Uf all the various species of Storks known to 
inhabit the earth, only two are found in North 
America. Une of these, the Jabiru (Jabini 
mvctcria) of tropical America, occasionally 
wanders north to Texas, but the other species, 
the Wood Ibis, is with us in goodly numbers. 
They breed in the southern United States, chiefly 
in Florida. They are gregarious at all times, 
although now and then small bands wander away 
from the main flock. I once saw at least five 
thousand of these birds in a drove feeding on a 
grassy prairie of central Florida. When dis- 
turbed by the report of a gun they arose, a vast 
white and black mass, and the roar of their wings 
coming across the lake resembled nothing so 
much as the rumbling of distant thunder. 

Thev breed in colonies nimibering hundreds or 
thousand of pairs, and they always select the 
tallest trees for nesting sites. For several years 
the Audubon Society has been guarding a colony 
in " Big Cypress " swamp of south Florida. In 
the rookery nearly every tree has its nest and 
some of the cypresses with wide-spreading limbs 
hold six or eight of them. This colony occupies 
an area of from two hundred to five hundred 
yards wide and about five miles in length. Here, 
as in other rookeries, Fish Crows are a great 
scourge. All day a stream of Crows can be seen 
flving from the pine woods to the swam]), or re- 
turning with eggs stuck on the end of their bills. 

I had the opjiortunitv to witness the rather odd 
manner in which these birds sometimes get their 
prey. The water was low at this season and in 
the pine flats various ponds, which ordinarily 
cover many acres, were partially or entirely 
dried up. One of these, now reduced to a length 
of about one hundred feet and with a width ])er- 
haps half as great, contained many small fish 



crowded together. Thirty-seven Wood Ibises 
had taken possession of this pool and seemed to 
be scratching the bottom, evidently for the pur- 
pose of making the already thick water so muddy 
that the fish would be forced to the surface. The 
numerous downward strokes of the bare, bony 
heads fully demonstrated the eft'ectiveness of 
their enterprise. " Goard Head,'' "Iron Head," 




i^hoto by H. K. Jub Courlcs\- I'C DoubleJay, Page & Co. 

YOUNG WOOD IBIS 

and " Gannet " are the appellations given to 
these birds bv many swamp-dwellers to whom the 
name Wood Ibis is unknown. 

After the breeding season these Storks wander 
north as far as Pennsylvania and Michigan. 
Often one mav find them on the wide marshes, 
either salt- or fresh-water, standing perfectly 
still for an hour or more at a time, the long heavy 
bill pointed downward and resting on the skin of 
the thick, naked neck. On such occasions they 
seem to represent the personification of dejection. 

T. Gilbert Pe.arson. 



i8o 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



HERON FAMILY 

Order Herodioiics: suborder Hcrodii; family Ardeida 

S hungry as a Heron " is a simile which should mean much to a student of 
birds, for Herons as a class are gaunt and voracious creatures who always 
seem to be half famished, and actually are more or less emaciated, no matter 
how plentiful is their food supply. Structurally the family is characterized 
by the possession of four toes, with the hind one on the same plane as the 
three front ones, and the claw of the middle one equipped with a comb-like 
process on the inner side; a slender body, long neck, and a long and sharply 
pointed bill; comparatively long but noticeably rounded wings; and a bare 
space about the eyes and on the sides of the head. There is great variation 
in the plumage, which is free and pliable, and is likely to be extended on 
the back, as in the case of the beautiful nuptial plumes of the Egrets. On 
the abdomen, rump, and certain other parts are curious patches of down which are char- 
acteristic of the family. 

Several of the American Herons are gregarious during the breeding period, when large 
colonies place their bulky nests near together in tree-tops; but in their feeding habits they 
usually are solitary. Some species capture their prey by standing motionless and waiting 
for it to come within reach ; others pursue on foot frogs, crawfish, and the like in shallow water. 
Their flight is deliberate, but powerful and certain, and is accomplished by incessant flap- 
ping, and little or no sailing or soaring. Unlike the Cranes and Ibises, the Herons in flight 
carry the neck folded and the head drawn in near the shoulders. Their eggs number from 
three or four to six, are unspotted and are whitish or bluish-green in color. Of the true 
Herons there are about twelve species, which are from one foot to four feet and more in 
length. The family is represented in virtually all parts of the North American continent 
excepting the regions of continuous cold or drought. 





'^■m^ 







Drawing by R I. Brasher 



BITTERN (1 nat. size) 
It is an adept at concealment 



Couftfsy of Vw Hfv, York State Muse 



Plate 23 




GREEN HERON lintnuitis iirc.scin.s iHrt-.srfiis i,lAiUi:irii:i) 
IMMATURE ADULT 

AMERICAN BITTERN B>'t,iuni.-i /rn{iuino.-<us (MnntaRUl 

All i IKlt HlZC 



LEAST BITTERN Is.^h, ;,. I.u.-^ , xih^ \l.imi-hu) 
FEMALE MALE 



HERON FAMILY 



i8i 



BITTERN 
Botaurus lentiginosus { MoiiUii/u) 



A. O U. Xunibtr i qo 

Other Names.— American Bittern; Stake Driver; 
Thunder Pumper; Butterbump ; Mire Drum; l!og Bull; 
Indian Hen ; Marsh Hen ; Poke. 

General Description. — Length, 24 to 34 inches. 
Color above, brown, blackish, white, and tawny mixed ; 
below, yellowish. 

Color. — Crown, dull brown with buft'y stripe over 
eye; rest of upper parts, streaked and minutely freckled 
with bnni'ii. bluckish, -wliitc, and tazvny; chin and upper 
throat, whitish ; under parts, yellow and tawny-white, 
each feather with a brown darker-edged stripe ; center 
of throat and neck, white with brown streaks; a brown 
mustache on side of throat ; wing-quills, greenish-black 
with a glaucous shade and ti[>ped with brown ; tail. 



>ee Color Plate 23 

brown; lull, pale yellow with dusky ridge; legs, dull 
iireenish-yello'ic \ iris, yellow. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: On the ground among reeds 
in a swamp ; roughly and loosely constructed of dead 
rushes. Eggs: 3 to 5, brownish with a gray shade. 

Distribution, — North America ; breeds from central 
British Columbia, southern Mackenzie, central Kee- 
watin, southern Ungava, and Newfoundland south to 
southern California, northern Arizona, Kansas, the 
Ohio valley, and North Carolina, and less frequently 
in southern United States ; winters from California, 
.\rizona, southern Texas, the Ohio valley, and Virginia 
south to Cuba and Guatemala, and casually to the 
Bahamas, Porto Rico, Jamaica, and Great Britain. 



Thoreau says that the P>ittern is the geiiitis of 
the bog. It frequents the ooze, and delights in 
the quaking false bottom where the first unwary 
step may phtnge the adventurer into sHmy depths. 
Here it steal.; about, hidden among the rank 
marsh growth ; here it makes its nest and woos 
its mate. But it is not confined to the marsh ; it 
is common in large meadows and may even be 
seen hunting grasshopper;^ in nearby ujiland 
pastures. The Bittern is an adept at conceal- 
ment. It has a habit of standing among the 
grass or reeds with its bill cocked up at such an 
angle that even when in full sight it remains 
ttnnoticed becatise of its close resemblance to a 
rail or a stake. Its penciled foreneck imitates 
the reeds and all its colors are inconspicuotis. It 
has learned the art of moving almo.-t as slowly 
as the minute hand of a clock so as to escape 
observation while changing position. 

The most remarkable characteristic of the 
Bittern is its sotig, but the result of its efforts 
can hardly be called musical. While producing 
the sound the bird looks as if trying to rid itself 
of some distress of the stomach and the resulting 
melody sounds much like the sucking of an old- 
fashioned wooden pump when some one tries to 
raise the water. The bird suddenly lowers and 
rai:^es its head and throws it far forward with a 
convulsive jerk, at the same time opening and 
shutting the bill with a click. This is accom- 
panied by a sound which resembles a hiccough. 
This is repeated a few times, each time a little 
louder than before, while the bird seems to be 
swallowing air. This is succeeded bv the pump- 
ing noises which are in sets of three syllables 
each resembling plunk-a-Unik or, as some people 
will have it, plum pudd'n. The lower neck seems 
to dilate with the air taken in and remains so 



until the performance is over, when the neck is 
deflated. 

There is a peculiar acoustic propertv about 
the sound. Its distance and its exact location 
are very hard to gage. The volume seems no 
greater when near than when at a consider- 




Photo by H. K. Job Oiurtcsy of Outing Pub. Co. 

BITTERN ON NEST 

able distance, but as the distance increases the 
sound is no longer heard and in the place of each 
set of syllables there conies to the ear only a 
single note closely resembling the driving of a 
stake, which can be heard from afar. Hence the 
name " Stake Driver," often applied to this bird. 
These notes, although common in spring, par- 
ticularly at morning and evening, are not notice- 
able aitd their resemblance to ]iumping and 
stake-driving is a protection to the bird. 

Another remarkable characteristic consists of 
white nuptial jilimies upon the sides of the neck 



1 82 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



or breast, which appear to be always concealed, 
except when the birds are performing their mat- 
ing antics, when a plume is raised on each side 
high above the shoulder and becomes conspicuous 
against the darker plumage of the upper parts. 
The young — helpless, homely, and awkward — 
are exposed to many dangers in their lowly nest. 
Minks, muskrats and water snakes roam about 



them ; keen-sighted Hawks, Eagles, and Owls 
sweep over the marsh ; but the watchful mother 
is ever ready to defend them, and with her 
dagger-like bill and long neck she is no mean 
antagonist. When danger threatens she bristle; 
to twice her usual size and with glaring eyes and 
ready, open beak becomes a dauntless defender. 
Edward Howe Forbush. 



LEAST BITTERN 

Ixobrychus exilis (Giiiclin) 



Other Names. 

Heron. 

General Description. — Lenptl 
Color above, greenish-black; belo 



A. O U. Xumber 191 
Dwarf Bittern ; Little Bittern ; Least 



: I to 14 inches, 
brownish-vellow. 



Color. — Adult Male: Crown, back, and tail, glossy 
greenish-black; a streak down back of neck; most of 
wing-coverts, and outer edges of inner secondaries, pure 
chestnut; other wing-coverts, brownish-yellow; pri- 
maries, dusky, tipped with chestnut; front and sides of 
neck and under parts in general, brownish-yellow ; 




Phuto by A. A. Allen 

LEAST BITTERN 
On its nest in the marsh 



See Color Plate 23 

white streaks along throat line; sides of breast with 
a broken brownish-black patch; a whitish streak on 
upper side of shoulder-feathers; bill, pale yellow with 
dusky ridge; skin of lores, light green; legs, dull 
greenish; iris and toes, yellow. Adult Female: Crown, 
brownish ; back, brownish-chestnut with 2 white streaks 
along shoulders ; wings, similar, but coverts more spotted 
with brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: Usually in a bunch of cat- 
tails; a rougli platform of dead reeds, raised above the 
water on a l)ed of decayed rushes. Eggs: 3 to 6, bluish- 
white. 

Distribution. — Temperate North America and north- 
ern South America; breeds from southern Oregon, 
southern Saskatchewan, southern Manitoba, southern 
Quebec, and Nova Scotia south to the West Indies and 
Brazil ; winters from Florida and Gulf of Me.xico 
southward. 



Reed-grown ponds, grassy margins of lakes, 
and expanses of fresh-water marshes form the 
abiding places of the Least Bittern. Only a little 
over a foot in length, it is the smallest of all our 
Herons. Because of its retiring habits and 
secretive disposition it is known to few besides 
the inquisitive ornithologist, whose enthusiasm 
for the stibject leads him into the forbidden 
haunts of the Bittern. Even then it is rarely seen 
until suddenly it springs from it:; hiding, at times 
almost beneath your feet, and in an awkward and 
laborious manner flies away a few rods and 
drops again into the marsh. More rarely it may 
be seen clinging to the stem of some rush or reed 
much in the manner of a Wren. It has not been 
given to many to hear the soft cooing spring 
notes of the male, but most summer marsh- 
waders are familiar with the startled qua with 
which it begins its flight when disturbed. 

Although the Least Bittern is found in summer 
as far north as Maine and Manitoba, it i-^ much 
more abundant in the southern States. A few 
pass the winter in Florida, but the bulk of these 
birds migrate farther south. In spring they 
arrive in the Carolinas and Arkansas bv middle 
April, and a few weeks later their summer dis- 



HERON FAMILY 



183 



position in the northern States is complete. A 
fairly compact j)latforni nt jilant stems and 
grasses serves as a nest, on which from three to 
six elliptical jiale bluish eggs are laid. It is 
usually situated in clusters of tall grass or reeds 
and at a distance varying from one to four feet 
from the water. 

In many of the fresh-water ponds of Florida 
certain small areas, near the shore, are covered 
with a thick growth of buttonwood bushes. 
These are popular places for small colonies of 
the Boat-tailed Crackle, the big shiny Blackbird 
of the country. In the midst of these Blackbird 
villages one may often find a Least Bittern's nest. 
They do not assemble in colonies like most mem- 
bers of the family, the two or three nests some- 
times found in the same neighborhood evidently 
having been placed close together more because 
the different pairs chanced to like the location, 
than from any desire for the companionship of 
their kind. Although I have always found these 
Bitterns partial to fresh water in the summer, 
Arthur T. \\ayne states that in South Carolina 
they also breed regularly in salt marshes, and 
that during migratinn they constantly frequent 
such locations. 

To find a nest full of young Least Bitterns is 
an event to remember. Standing at their full 
height with bills pointed skyward they remain as 
motionless as though cast in bronze. The alter- 
nate light and dark streaks on their breasts and 
throats blend perfectly with the coloring of the 
reeds about them. Evidently they know that so 
long as they are still they are perfectly hidden. 
.\ rare and closely allied bird variously known 
as Cory's Least Bittern (f.robr\cliiis nco.vcniis), 
Cory's Bittern, or Cory's Dwarf Bittern, has been 
found in Florida, Ontario, Michigan, and per- 
haps elsewhere. 

T. Gilbert Pe.\rson. 




Drawing by R- I. Brasher 

LEAST BITTERN (j nat. size) 
The smallest of the Herons in ** the frozen position ' 



GREAT WHITE HERON 
Ardea occidentalis Audubon 



\. U. U. N'umber 192 



Other Name. — Florida Heron. 

General Description. — Length. 48 to 54 inches. 
Head not crested, ijiit in breeding season with a few 
feathers long and flowing; plumage, pure white; bill, 
yellow, greenish at base; legs and feet, yellow: iris, 
chrome yellow ; bare space around eye, bluish and green. 



Nest and Eggs. — Nest : In low bushes or high trees ; 
a simple platform of sticks. EcGS : 3 to 5, bluish-green. 

Distribution. — Region bordering Gulf of Me.xico 
from southern Florida south to Cuba. Jamaica, and 
Yucatan ; casual north to Anclote River and Micco, 
Florida. 



1 84 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



The Great White Heron is equal in size to the 
common and well-known Great Blue Heron. It 
is not the proud possessor of beautiful aigrette- 




Photu by H. K. Job Courtesy of Houtjhton Mifflin Co. 

YOUNG GREAT WHITE HERON 

In nest, Florida Keys 



plumes, such as adorn the Egrets, and conse- 
quently has not been so extensively shot. It 
occurs mainly on the islands of Jamaica and 
Cuba, but is not uncommonly found along the 
coast of Florida. In 191 1 I discovered a colony 
of seven pairs breeding on the island in Tampa 
Bay, on the Gulf coast of Florida. This appears 
to be the northern limit at which they have thus 
far been found in the nesting period. The nests 
were about twelve feet above the water and 
rested among the stronger topmost limbs of man- 
grove trees. They were huge affairs, made of 
sticks, and those examined contained either three 
or four eggs. The little colony covered a terri- 
tory about eighty feet in diameter. One hundred 
feet away a number of Florida Cormorants and 
Louisiana Herons were beginning to build their 
nests. Apparently the three species were dwell- 
ing together in harmony. 

Cruising among the Florida Keys and coral 
reefs near Cape Sable one may often see these 
giant Herons feeding in the shallow places which 
everywhere abound. They haunt such localities 
in south Florida, but one need not look for them 
inland. Their great size and white plumage 
render them conspicuous marks which may be 
seen for a long distance. I have always found 
the Great \Miite Heron extremelv shy and 
difficult to approach. Its judgment seems never 
at fault in determining what is the exact range 
of a hunter's rifle. T. Gilbert Pearson. 



GREAT BLUE HERON 
Ardea herodias herodias Linncrus 

.\. O. U. Number 194 See Color Plate 24 



Other Names. — Red-sliouldered Heron; Blue Crane; 
Crane ; Coir.mun Blue Crane. 

General Description. — Length, 42 to 50 inches. 
Color above, slaty-blue ; below, black. Head, crested 
and with long plumes. 

Color. — Adults: Forehead and top of head, white; 
sides of croicn and crest, black ; neck, pale gray, marked 
on tliroat with white, rusty and black streaks; chin and 
cheeks, white ; uf'per f^arts, slaty-blue ; shoulders, 
grayer ; tail, slaty-blue ; inner wing-quills, slaty-blue 
shading into black primaries ; plumes of lower neck 
and breast, gray; abdomen, black with white and rufous 
streaking ; under tail-coverts, white ; bill, yellow with 
dusky ridge; legs and feet, dusky, soles yellow; bare 
space around eye. greenish and blue ; iris, chrome yel- 



The Great Blue Heron is the largest of the 
truly American herons, and is known as a stately, 
dignified, and interesting bird by those who have 
observed it in other wavs than over the sights of 



low. Young: No crest or lengthened feathers on head; 
entire crown, blackish ; general color above, brownish- 
slate, the feathers edged with rufous; lesser wing- 
coverts, reddish-brown ; below, ashy. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: Usually in tall trees along 
river banks; a large and bulky structure of limbs, twigs, 
and some dry grass. Eggs : 3 to 6, blue or greenish- 
blue. 

Distribution. — Western hemisphere; breeds from 
southeastern British Columbia, central Alberta, central 
Manitoba, northern Ontario, and Prince Edward Island 
south to southern Lower California, northern Te.xas, 
and South Atlantic States (except Florida) ; winters 
from Oregon, the Ohio valley, and Middle States south 
to the West Indies, Panama, and Venezuela. 



a shotgun or rifle. This pursuit is legalized in 
certain regions where the bird is believed to be 
even more destructive to the spawn and young of 
game fish than to its other prey of frogs, craw- 



HERON FAMILY 



1 8 = 



fish, small snakes, salamanders and various water 
creatures which are more harmful than useful, 
not to mention grasshoppers and meadow mice. 
Under these conditions it becomes difficult to 
approach one of these alert and far-.~ighted birds 
even to within field-glass range. .-X stalk of this 
kin<i is. however, well worth while if it brings 
the (ibserver to within observation distance, for 
his reward will be an exhibition of stealthy and 
skillful fishing which i ; boimd to command his 
admiration. 

Much of this fishing the Heron does without 
stirring from the position he takes in shallow 
water among reeds or near the shore. Motion- 
less as a statue he stands, his long neck doubled 
into a flattened S and his keen eyes searching the 
water nearby. As a frog or fish apprcjaches he 
holds his rigid position until the creature comes 
within striking range, and the Heron knows 
what that is to a small fraction of an inch. Then 
suddenly the curved neck straightens out and 
simultaneously the long, rapier-like bill shoots 



the fisherman has resumed his statuesque {jose. 
Again, the great bird may be seen stalking slowly 
through shallow water, lifting each foot above 




PhotiJ uy U. L. l-iiilL-y and H. T. Buhliii.iji 

GREAT BLUE HERON 




downward with a stroke which is quicker than 
the eye can follow and seldom misses its mark. 
In a second the fish or frog has disa])peared, and 



fii'il" by H. k J.jl. l.'j.-rU!.i ul UuUini I'ub. Cu. 

A COLONY OF GREAT BLUE HERONS 

the surface, and sliding it into the water again 
so gently as t() cause hardly a ripple ; and woe 
to the crawfish or salamander that does not 
observe that approach. 

Like most Herons, the Great Blue is a solitary 
bird in its habits except during the breeding 
season. Then the birds show a strongly marked 
gregarious instinct by forming colonies, generally 
in isolated swamps, where they build their huge 
nests and bring up their young, which are fed 
by regurgitation. These heronries are most 
interesting institutions for the bird-student. 
Occasionally several nests are placed in a single 
tree, and frequently colonies are foimd which 
include 150 or more nests. Unless the birds are 
seriously molested they are likely to return for 
many successive years to the same nesting-site. 

It is well known that members of the Heron 
family feed to a great' extent on fish and other 
forms of aquatic life, and consequently do not 
live far from water. The Great Blue Herons at 
times depart from this family trait and visit 
hillsides, cultivated fields, and drier meadows in 
search of pocket gophers, ground squirrels, and 
field mice, which they greedily devour. Pellets 
collected in an inland ne;ting colony of these 
Herons showed that a very large proportion of 
the food of the young is made up of these 
injin"ious rodents. The Herons, like other flesh- 
eating birds, digest their food rapidly and are 
disposed to gorge themselves when opportunity 
offers. It is fair to assume as a low average 
that a pair of Herons with four or five young will 
consume twelve to fifteen gophers per day. 

George Gladden. 



1 86 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



EGRET 
Herodias egretta {Gniclin) 

A. O. U. Number 196 See Color IMate 24 



Other Names. — American Egret ; White Heron ; 
White Egret: Greater Egret; Great White Egret; 
Great White Heron; Long White. 

Description. — Length, 41 inches. No crest, but a 
magnificent train of long plumes springing from back 
and extending a foot or so beyond tail in breeding 
season; pliiiiiiicjc. t-iitircly while: bill, yellow; legs and 
feet, black ; lores and iris, yellow. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest; Merely a platform of sticks 



in mangroves or in trees. Eggs: 3 to 5, plain bluish- 
green. 

Distribution. — Temperate and tropical America; 
breeds in Oregon and California, and from North Caro- 
lina, Florida, the Gulf coast, and Mexico south to Pata- 
gonia; formerly bred north to New Jersey and 
Wisconsin ; winters from the Gulf of Mexico south- 
ward ; casual in Manitoba, Quebec, New England, and 
Nova Scotia. 



The treatment which man has accorded the 
Egret is not only an evidence of his power over 
weaker animals, but stands as a blot on this 
country's history. The long white plumes, which 
this bird bears on its back in the mating and 
nesting season, have long been sought as adorn- 
ments for women's headwear. The only way to 
get these " aigrettes '' is to shoot the bird, and 
shoot it at the time it is engaged in the care of 
its nestlings. At other seasons it is wild , and 
only with great difficulty can one approach to 
within shooting distance, before it takes wing. 

The plumes are acquired early in the year but 
not until the birds have accumulated in colonies, 
and laid their eggs, can the hunter hope for 
success. Even then the wise millinery agents 
wait until the rookery is ripe. By " ripe " they 
mean when the eggs have hatched. If the shoot- 
ing begins in a colony before this time, the birds 
will frequently desert their nests and eggs. Thus 
in order to get the most satisfactory results the 
plume-htmter must be content to wait until the 
young appear, and the instinct of parental care 
is so aroused that the old birds will return 
again and again despite the fact that they see 
their comjjanions falling all about them before 
the guns of the inhuman hunters. This method 
of attack on any species if long continued means 
its doom. When old and young alike perish no 
chance remains to perpetuate the species. 

In the far W'est a few Egrets still are found, 
but very rarely. They appear never to have 



reached the abundance there that they did in the 
Southern States. At one time the lake-shores of 
Florida teemed with tens of thousands of these 
elegant, long-legged white creatures. Several 
years ago I visited rookeries containing great 
numbers of them, but even then the work of 
destruction was going on. While visiting a 
plume-hunter's camp in 1886 I was told that the 
New York feather dealers paid ninety cents for 
the plumes of every bird. Since that time the 
price has gone up and up until recently tourists 
at Miami and Palm Beach have been paying $10 
and more for the scalp of each bird brought in 
by the white hunters and Seminole Indians of 
the Everglade country. 

For several years past the National Associa- 
tion of Audubon Societies has been employing 
guards to protect the few remaining breeding 
colonies as far as they are known. These nest- 
ing places are distributed from the coastal region 
of North Carolina southward to the Florida 
Keys, but it is debatable whether the species can 
be saved, although without the efforts of the 
Audubon Society the bird would probably have 
disappeared entirely by this time. 

This member of the Heron family often asso- 
ciates in the nesting season with other Herons. 
The loose nests of twigs are placed in the top of 
bushes or on the limbs of cypress trees high 
above the waters of the sequestered swamps into 
which these birds have long since been driven. 

T. Gilbert Th.-^rson. 




Photograph of habitat group 



Courtesy of American Museum of ;>..l..i.., il.^l^:.. 

EGRETS 

These birds have been brought to the verge of extinction by plume hunters 

I1S7I 



i88 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



SNOWY EGRET 

Egretta candidissima candidissima (Gmelin) 

A. O. U. Number 197 



Other Names. — Little Egret ; Lesser Egret ; Com- 
mon Egret; Snowy Heron; Little Snowy; Little White 
Egret ; Little White Heron ; Bonnet Martyr. 

Description. — Length, 24 inches. Plumage, pure 
white ; bill and legs, black ; toes, yellow ; bare space 
around eye, greenish-yellow ; iris, chrome yellow. A 
long crest on crown, another from back of about 50 
feathers, the latter recurved, and another on lower neck. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: Usually among mangroves 



or in swampy willow ponds ; a simple platform of sticks. 
Eggs : 2 to 5, pale bluish-green. 

Distribution. — Temperate and tropical America ; 
formerly bred from Oregon, Nebraska, Indiana, Illi- 
nois, and New Jersey south to Chile and Argentina ; 
now breeds locally in the United States from North 
Carolina to Louisiana ; winters from Florida southward ; 
casual in British Columbia, Ontario, Massachusetts, and 
Nova Scotia. 



Much smaller than the Egret, the Snowy Egret 
i.s nevertheless adorned in the breeding season 
with " aigrettes." growing on the back between 




Photo by H. K. Job (/curtesy of Outing Pub. Co. 

SNOWY EGRET ON NEST 
Showing " aigrette " plumes 

the wings, that are quite as valuable in the market 
as those produced by the larger bird. The 
plume-feathers are much shorter, more delicate, 
and are recurved at the end. They are the " cross 
aigrettes " of the millinery trade. To the plume- 



hunters the bird is known as the " Little Snowy," 
to distinguish it from the larger species called 
by them the " Long White." 

Snowy Egrets once bred as far north as New 
Jersey, but now their northern breeding limit is 
North Carolina. Although found inland in 
Florida, they are elsewhere in their range in the 
United States more distinctively inhabitants of 
the tide-water regions. Owing to protection 
afforded them from the millinery feather hunters 
of recent years by Audubon Society wardens, 
they appear to be increasing in a few sections, 
notably about Charleston, South Carolina. Ap- 
parently the largest gathering of breeding birds 
is in a splendid Heron colony that has developed 
under the special care of E. A. Mcllhenny at 
Avery Island, Louisiana. The rookery is in the 
trees and bushes of a small artificial pond within 
joo yards of Mr. Mcllhenny 's house, and among 
the many interesting entertainments he gives his 
guests is to take them out to the edge of the 
yard of a spring evening that they may watch 
the Herons and Snowy Egrets coming home to 
roost or to relieve their mates on guard at the 
nests. 

Like that of other Herons the food of this bird 
consists of such small forms of life as inhabit 
the sloughs and marshes of their territory. The 
young are fed extensively on small fish that are 
regurgitated into their throats by the parent bird. 
The Snowy Egret has a plumage of spotless 
white. The legs are black and the feet are bright 
yellow. By observing the coloring of the feet 
and legs one need never mistake it for the imma- 
ture Little Blue Heron, which, except for the 
absence of " aigrettes," it much resembles. 

T. Gilbert Pe.\rson. 



HERON FAMILY 



189 



LOUISIANA HERON 
Hydranassa tricolor ruficollis ( Gossc ) 

A, ( > U. Number 199 



Other Names. — Lady of the Waters ; Demoiselle. 

General Description. — Length. 27 inches. Color 
above, slaty-purple ; below, white. The lengthened 
feathers of head and neck, sharp with well-defined 
edges ; the back train-feathers, fringe-like. 

Color. — AnuLTS (.sexe.s .m.ike) : Crown, sides of 
head, most of neck, back, and wings, slaty-purple; chin 
and throat, white, broken behind witli color of head; the 
long feathers of crest, white ; lower back and rump, 
white but concealed by feathers of train which extends 
beyond tail; lou'cr parts, mostly white; bill, black — 
bluer toward base ; legs, grayish ; iris, red ; bare space 
around eye, light lilac. Young: No crest or plumes. 



Neck and back, brownish-red ; rump, center of throat, 
and under parts, white; wings and tail, pale lavender- 
blue ; legs, dusky green. Individuals show variations 
between this and adult plumage but arc never zvliite. 

Nest and Eggs. — \est : In mangrove or willow 
swamps; in communities or in company with other 
Herons; a frail platform of sticks. Eggs: 3 to 5, 
bluish-green. 

Distribution. — Southern North America ; breeds 
from North Carolina and the Gulf States to the West 
Indies, Mexico (both coasts), and Central America; 
winters from South Carolina southward ; casual in 
Indiana, New Jersey, and Long Island. 



Though characteristically a southern species, 
the Louisiana Heron ranks among the most 
abundant Herons in this country, since in the 
Southern States it is decidedly the most abundant 
of the numerous Herons. In every way it is a 
beautiful bird, distinct and distinguished in its 
royal purplish garments contrasted with sharply 
defined white under parts. It is graceful and 
gentle, not shy, and is quite well known, feeding 
along the edges of swamps and meadows, or on 
the borders of streams and ponds. 

Of social disposition, its nesting is mainly in 
rookeries, sometimes of large size. In E. A. 



j\lcllhenny"s celebrated Egret and Heron colony 
at Avery Island, La., this is the most abundant 
species, many thousands of them nesting in this 
forty-acre tract. Reasons for their abundance 
are primarily that the plumes which grow from 
their backs at the nuptial season, though quite 
pretty, fortunately have not been in demand for 
millinery purposes. Then, further, they are 
tamer in disposition than some others, and ap- 
parently are not so easily frightened from a 
locality by human intrusion. 

The rookeries are usually in a wooded swamp, 
generally among low, rather thick trees, and par- 



■w^^-ji 




C<-iurtcsy of Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 
LOUISIANA HERON 1! nat. size) 
The most abundant Heron in North America 



190 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



ticularly on small wooded or busliy islands, where 
such can be found. On the Louisiana Coast 
reservations, where tlie islands were treeless, 
these Herons were content to nest directly on the 
ground, or on the smallest of bushes, sometimes 
hardly a foot up. The nests are frail ]ilat forms 





Photo by 1 1 



LOUISIANA HERON 
On nest on ground 



of sticks, and are similar to those of most other 
Herons, as are their eggs, which are blue, rather 
small, and from three to five in number. 

On various occasions I have pitched my little 
photogra])hic tent among their nests, preferably 



at night, leaving it till morning, when I would 
enter it and have a companion withdraw. The 
birds had soon become accustomed to it as a part 
of the landscape, and, not being able to " count 
noses," would soon return and settle down to 
brood their eggs or small young, or would come 
to feed the latter. It was most interesting and 
exciting to sit there, as though a member of the 
tribe, and watch all the singular, remarkable 
waj's and actions, selecting the quaintest of these 
for photographic records. 

These rookeries are the more interesting in 
that it is usual for various species of Herons to 
congregate together. In such colonies I have 
found, besides representatives of this species, the 
Snowy and American Egrets, Black-crowned and 
Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Little Blue and 
Great Blue Herons — certainly a lively assort- 
ment. Since, however, the Louisiana Heron is 
the most abundant of all, there are plenty of 
rookeries, especially the smaller ones, where it 
is found alone. In such places there is the 
wildest of confusion when one enters. The 
larger young climb from the nests from branch 
to branch, using both bills and feet to aid them. 
The less said about cleanliness and odor the 
better. Yet despite their slovenly ways it is 
remarkable how clean and trim the Herons look ! 
They spend hours preening their feathers, so 
that, after all, in their own peculiar way they are 
orderly. 

Most of them retire beyond our borders in 
winter, but on the Gulf coast I have seen a few 
of them at that season, still wading in the shal- 
lows and striking swiftly with their sharp bills at 
the small fish and other aquatic forms which 
constitute their bill of fare. Herbert K. Job. 



LITTLE BLUE HERON 
Florida caerulea (LiiiiKcus) 

A. O. U. Number 200 



Other Name. — Blue Egret. 

Description. — Plumes on shoulders and throat. Old 
Adults : General plumage, dark slaty-blue shading to 
purplish-red on neck and head ; bill, black shading to 
bluish at base ; legs and feet, black ; iris, yellow. Young 
Adults: In perfect plumage, pure white, but usually 
showing traces of blue, especially on end of primaries. 
Length, 24 inches. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: In trees or bushes over or 



near swamps; constructed like those of the rest of the 
genus. Eggs: 2 to 4, bluish-green. 

Distribution. — North and South America ; formerly 
bred from Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, and New Jersey 
to western Mexico and south to .-Argentina and Peru : 
in the United States now breeds locally on the coast 
from North Carolina to Te.xas ; wanders casually to 
Nebraska, Wisconsin, Ontario, New England, and Nova 
Scotia : winters from South Carolina southward. 



HERON FAMILY 



191 



In that portion of the United States that the 
Little Blue Heron inhabits it is one of the most 
common members of the Heron family. It is 
generally seen in flocks, inhabiting the shallow- 
ponds and grassy lake-sides of the Southern 
States. With slow deliberation they wade care- 
fully along, their bright yellow eyes scanning 
the shallows in quest of the fish, water-insects, 
or frogs upon which they subsist. Upon the ap- 
proach of eyening they take flight and with 
measured wing-strokes pass across the country, 
sometimes for several miles, to a favorite revest- 
ing place in the trees of a swamp, or on some 
island. In spring they assemble in colonies, often 
by hundreds, and build their nests in the small 
trees or bushes of some isolated and favorite 
pond. These " rookeries " are usually inhabited 
also by other species of Herons and sometimes 
bv other varieties of water birds. 

The young are first covered with white down 
which later is rejilaced by white feathers. Not 
until two years of age do they assume the blue 
plumage of the adult. During the second sum- 
mer individuals may be seen representing all 
stages in this change of feathers. Some are 
white with only a few blue feathers showing, 
while others, further developed, are entirely blue 
except for scattering spots of white. The Little 
Blue Heron is one of the comparatively few 
birds that mates and rears young while yet 
clothed in the feathers of youth. I recall visiting 
a colony of perhaps forty [lairs on one occasion, 
every bird of which was still in the white phase 
of plumage. 

Because of their white appearance they are 
often mistaken for Egrets and many times these 
rarer birds are reported as being seen in a 
neighborhood, when a closer inspection by a 
competent observer would easily reveal the 
mistake. 

After the nesting season the birds wander all 
over the country hunting for good feeding 
grounds. It is an odd fact worthy of mention, 
that the young take trips farther afield than do 
their parents ; and thus it happens that in the late 
summer immature Little Blue Herons are con- 
stantly recorded far to the north of their breed- 
ing grounds, where the adult birds are seen only 
at verv rare intervals, if at all. Old Herons 



possess a very pretty tuft of long plumes on their 
backs in summer, but these decorations never 
appear on the bird while in the white plumage. 

Being fish eaters their fiesh is not at all es- 
teemed as a table delicacy. Init in remote regions 
the colonies are often raided for their eggs for 
which some people profess a fondness. Their 




Photo by H. K. Job Courtusy ot Houghton Mifflin Co, 

LITTLE BLUE HERON 

chief natural enemies appear to be water mocca- 
sins and alligators, with which most rookeries 
are infested. The former climb into the trees 
and swallow the eggs, the latter devour the young 
when they fall from the nest. 

T. GiLBEUT Pearson. 



Vol. I- 



14 



192 



BIRDS OF AxMERICA 



GREEN HERON 

Butorides virescens virescens ( LiinucHs) 

A. O. U. Xumbcr 201 Sirf t olor I'late 2J 



- Little Green Heron ; (ireen liittern : 
inches. Color 



Other Names.- 
Fly-up-thc-creek. 

General Description. — Length. i8 
aliove, dark green ; below, dark brown. 

Color. — .Adults: Crown (including a long soft 
crest), lengthened feathers of back and shoulders, 
lustrous dark green ; the back plumes with a glaucous 
cast ; iving-coverts, green with well-defined tawny 
edges ; neck, rich dark purplish-chestnut ; center of 
throat, white with dusky streaks; below, dark brownish; 
abdomen, streaked with white ; primaries, secondaries, 
and tail, greenish-dusky; edge of wing, white; bill, 
dusky-greenish, yellow at base below ; bare space around 
eye, bluish-green; legs, yellow; iris, yellow. Young: 
No crest; top of head, brown; sides of neck and body. 



brownish streaked with lighter ; throat and center line 
of neck, white with dusky streaks; back, plain greenish- 
brown ; wing-coverts and secondaries, with white edg- 
ings and white tips ; under tail-coverts, grayish-white ; 
bill, greenish with dusky ridge ; legs, pale greenish- 
gray ; iris, yellow. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : Frequently in the woods 
but usually near water; a frail platform of twigs in a 
tree or bush. EcGS : 3 to 6, pale greenish. 

Distribution. — Eastern Xorth America ; breeds from 
southern .South Dakota, northern Wisconsin, southern 
Ontario, southern (Juebec, and Nova Scotia south to 
the West Indies ; winters from the West Indies south- 
ward, and rarely in southeastern United States: casual 
in Colorado. 



Though a comparatively small Heron, the 
Green Heron is perhap- the best known member 
of his family in this coimtry, and probably most 
people who see him dismiss him as a gawky, 
awkward, and rather stupid bird with habits 
which are not exactly tidy. This is because he 



is usually seen when he utters his harsh alarm 
note and flops chunsily along to a nearby perch, 
where he stretches his neck, jerks his tail, and 
gazes around in a fuddle-headed manner. 

Those who really know the bird, however, 
realize that when he is about his business of 




Photograph by R. W. Shufeldt 



GREEN HERON 

Perhaps he is the best known member of his family in this country 



HERON FAiAIILY 



193 




I'huLograpn by A. A. Allen 



GREEN HERON 
At its nest in the willows fringing a pond 



catcliing fi^h, frogs, salamanders, ami tlu- like, 
he is very far from stupid or cluiiisy. Tlu-n he 
steps along in the shallow water or through the 
weeds with true Heron stealth, and the thrust of 
his long bill, as he seizes his prey, is as accurate 
as and a great deal quicker than that of an expert 
swordsman. When flushed to a perch, the bird 
has a curious habit, if it sees it is observed, of 



suddenly becoming absolutely rigid. 



" fr 



ing," to use the term commonly employed. This 
apparently is done for the purpose of escaping 
further observation. It is an interesting fact 
that young Herons, at a signal from the old bird, 
often employ the same ruse, and stand as motion- 
less as statues, sometimes until the intruder has 
approached to within a few feet. 

Unlike other members of its family, the Green 
Heron is not gregarious in its breeding habits. 
Occasionally a few birds jilace their nests near 
together, but this ajiparently is accidental, for 
there are no true rookeries of Green Herons, and 
the liirds lead a distinctiv lonelv life. 




Phot 



Ijy S. \. Lot 

YOUNG GREEN HERONS 
Removed from the nest by the photographei 



194 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON 



Nycticorax nycticorax 

A. U- U. Xumber 202 

Other Names. — Night Heron ; American Night 
Heron; Qua-bird ; Quawk ; Squawk; Gardenian Heron. 

General Description. — Length, 26 inches. Color 
above, black and ashy-gray ; below, white. Head crested 
and, in breeding plumage, with a few long white cord- 
like plumes from back of crown. 

Color. — Adults: Crou'ii, back, and shoulders, black; 
rest of upper parts, wings, and tail, pale ashy-gray; 
forehead, sides of head, and throat, white shading into 
v^ry pale lavender on neck; rest of under parts, white; 
bill, black; legs, yellow; iris, red; bare space around 
eye, yellowish-green. Young : Entire plumage, grayish- 
white, streaked on head, breast, and beneath with dark 



nasvius {Boddacrt ) 

See Color Tlate J4 

brown ; streaked and spotted on back with rusty and 
whitish ; wing-coverts, brown with conspicuous white 
triangular tips; primaries, dusky-brown; bill, dull yel- 
lowish; feet, pale greenish-yellow; iris, brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : In trees, bushes, or on 
ground; a large but loosely constructed affair of 
branches and twigs. Eggs: 3 to 6, pale sea-green. 

Distribution. — North and South America; breeds 
from northern Oregon, southern Wyoming, southern 
Manitoba, northern Quebec, and Nova Scotia south to 
Patagonia; winters from northern California and Gulf 
States southward; casual in winter north to Massachu- 
setts and southern Illinois. 



Though not strictly a nocturnal bird, as it 
moves about more or less in the daytime, the 
Black-crowned Night Heron feeds chiefly in the 
evening or after the night has fallen. As the 
twilight deepens it may be seen flying heavily 
toward its favorite feeding places, and now is 
most fre([uently heard the loud and raucous 
qucra'k from which is has received one of its 
popular names. 



The hirtl's preferred htmting grounds are 
shallow tidal creeks, the edges of ponds, and 
swamps which include pools. Here it hunts, 
ttsually alone and often at a distance of several 
miles from its breeding place, so that the feeding 
of the yoting frecjuently involves long flights 
from the hunting ground to the nest. 

Its htmting methods differ from those of 
its relative, the Great Blue Heron. Instead of 




Photo by W. L. Finlcy and H. T. Bohlman 

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON ON NEST 



Courtesy of the Nkw York Statt? Museum 



Plate 24 




^/fffuil(^ajJii 0u^r/^ 



AMERICAN EGRET 

Htroihns lyntla (Cinr-Iin) 
SANDHILL CRANE 

(./"s mmrnim iMullcr) 



BLACK-CROWNED NK.HT HEIIUN 

Nyrtu-.ira., „,i,l,,,„„j „wru,., illi"MH.Tt) 
ADULT IMMATURE 

GREAT BLUE HERON 
J J . Auha firnnlia^ htrotlias LininiQua 

All 7 iiat. yize ADULT in summer immature 



HERON FAMILY 



195 



>tnn(lin,n" rigid, and knee-deep in 
liiq- lisliernian does, the Nighi 



water, as that 
Heron moves 




Pliutu by H. r. Middlctoii 

YOUNG NIGHT HERONS 



ahdul liriskiy, hdiding its head lowered and its 
ileek curved, all ready for the quicK stroke which 
nie.ms de.ath to the frog or fish at which it is 
aimed. 

This Heron's most interesting characteristic 
is its gregariousness, which causes it to collect in 
large colonies during the nesting period. These 
heronries usually are situated in an isolated 
patch of \v(Jods, and their population may in- 
clude several hundred pairs of birds, not to men- 
tion as many groups of four or five \-oung birds. 
In<leed, as a pair will freipiently r;iise two broods 
in a season, it is not uncommon to find the adult 
birds feeding at the same time two sets of 
youngsters, one composed of fledglings in the nest 
and the other of birds able to clamber about in 
the branches. 



YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON 
Nyctanassa violacea { Liiiii<riis) 



.\. O r Vumlifr .'o.i 



General Description, — Length. J4 inches. Plumage, 
blui^h-Kray. lighter belciw. Head, crested and. in breed- 
ing iilumage, with a few long white cord-like plumes 
from back of crown. 

Color. — Adults: Top of head and patch under eye, 
creamy white; sides of head and chin, black; rest of 
plumage, bluish-gray, darker on back, the feathers with 
black centers and pale edges ; lighter below ; head and 
neck, and most of crest, white tinged icith Tvrv ptilr 
tawny; wings and tail, dusky-slate; bill, black; feet, 
black and yellow; iris, orange; lores and space around 
eye, greenish. YouNt; : Above, brownish-gray witli a 
strong olive tinge, streaked and spotted with brownish- 
yellow ; below, streaked with brown and white; sides 



III licail and neck, yellowish-brown streaked with 
darker; top of head and neck variegated with white; 
bill, black with much greenish-yellow below ; lores and 
legs, greenish-yellow ; iris, yellow. 

Nest and Eggs.— Nest : A platform of sticks in 
trees of swampy areas. Eggs: 4 to 6, dull bluish. 

Distribution. — Warm temperate and tropical ."Kmer- 
ica ; breeds from southern Lower California, Kansas, 
southern Illinois, southern Indiana, and South Carolina 
south to P.razil and Peru ; casual north to Colorado, 
Ontario. Massachusetts. Maine, and Nova Scotia; 
winters from southern Lower California and southern 
Florida southv/ard. 



Although the name of Yellow-crowned Night 
Heron suggests that this bird is a " night " bird, 
in reality it is quite as diurnal in its habits as 
any of the more common Herons. Many times 
I have come upon it in the fresh-water marshes 
or on mud flats by the sea where it was evidently 
feeding and it would fly away with all the assur- 
ance of a bird whose sight was unimpaired by 
the sunlight. It is a solitary species and is little 
known to many bird-students. Rarely are more 
than two or three found at a time and generally 
they are seen singly. It is a southern species 
and probably never breeds north of Illinois and 
North Carolina. Wayne states that they " breed 
only in snuiil colonies of two or three pairs." 
This refers to the South Carolina birds of which 
he writes, Init in Florida 1 have found the facts 
to be otherwise. In that State I have examined 
several of their colonies and they numbered from 
twelve to twenty jiairs in each instance. Ap- 




DrawinR Ijy Henry riuirst^ui 

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON (J nat. size) 
A solitary and little-known species 



196 



BIRDS OF AiMERICA 



parentlv they do not associate in colonies with 
other Herons, hut always form their own village. 
In Hillsboro County, Florida, some years ago, 
I waded out in a large pond thickly grown with 
trees through the foliage of which the sun rarely 




Photo by H. M. Lainj^ Courtesy ol Outing Pub. Co. 

NOT SINGING, BUT HUNGRY 

Young Night Herons 

pierced to the dark scum-water beneath. The 
object of my venture was to discover whetlier 
any Egrets were breeding among a company of 



1 lerons, whose squawks told me they were nesting 
in the trees surrounding an open place in the 
center of the pond. Submerged logs, fallen limbs 
and aquatic moss made the going difficult. The 
place was infested with water-moccasins and 
alligators, and the nervous strain soon began to 
tell. Upon reaching a point perhaps sixty yards 
from shore where the water and slime was breast 
deep, I was startled beyond all description by a 
sudden hoarse cry and heavy flapping directly 
overhead. Unknowingly I had waded into the 
midst of a colony of Yellow-crowned Night 
Herons. 

While occupying the same pond with the 
other Herons, they were at least two hundred 
feet from the nearest nest of any other species. 
Before leaving I counted sixteen nests, all of 
which appeared to be occupied. 

These birds are supposed to feed largely upon 
mussels and crawfish and along the coast many 
small crabs are consumed. They retire to the 
far south in the autumn and do not reappear in 
the northern part of their range until March. 
After the nesting season many of the young 
wander far inland and in North Carolina I have 
seen them during the month of August more than 
two hundred miles from the coast. 

T. Gilbert Pe.\rson. 



X 



,x 



■-■■^.^>, 



tr^i^- 



'^* 










Photo by S. N. Leek 



NEST OF GREAT BLUE HERON 
Showing the four bluish eggs 



ORDER OF MARSH-DWELLERS 



Urik'f PiilnJicolu: 

IRDS of this order vary greatly in size and appearance — the Little Black 
Rail is but five inches long, while the Cranes average about four feet. 
Structurally all are alike in having the hind toe elevated. Two habits are 
common to the entire order. The first of these is that of dwelling in marshy 
places, and the second is that of always flying with the neck extended. The 
young are hatched with a covering of down and are able to run about soon 
after leaving the shell, although requiring more or less attention from the 
parents. 

The order is divided into two suborders: the Long-legged Marsh-dwellers 
iGriies), which includes two families, the Cranes and the Courlans; and the 

Henlike Marsh-dwellers (Ralli), which consists of the single family of Rails, Gallinules, 

and Coots. 





CRANES AND COURLANS 

Order Palitdicola: ; suborder < fines; families Gniidcv and Aramidcc 

'HOUGH superficially similar to the Herons in some respects, the Cranes con- 
stitute a distinct group in a difTerent order. They are the family GniiJcc of 
the Marsh-dwellers and are really more closely related to the Rails than to the 
Herons. When in flight they may be distinguished from the Herons by their 
habit of carrying the neck extended at full length. But they are similar to 
the Herons in having the head more or less bare, while they diff'er from them 
in that their plumage is dense and compact, rather than loose. The family 
includes about twenty species, of which only three occur on this continent. 
Their favorite habitats are marshes and plains, and their diet includes not 
only frogs, snakes, field mice, and lizards, but grain and considerable vegetable 
food. Most of the Cranes have singularly loud and resonant cries, this being 
especially true of the Sandhill Crane. This resonant quality of the Crane's cry is due prob- 
ably to the curious peculiarity and great length of the bird's windpipe. Though this organ 
is about normal in the chick just hatched, it becomes elongated and coiled as the bird matures, 
and is accommodated in the keel of the breastbone. In the Whooping Crane, when this 
development is complete, nearly thirty inches of the trachea may be thus packed away, 
and the entire length of the organ, from the throat to the lungs, may be fully five feet. 

Another distinguishing characteristic of the Cranes is the fact that the chicks are cov- 
ered with down when they are hatched, and are able to run about a few hours after they 
leave the shell. The American species range over the entire continent as far south as Cuba 
and Mexico. They are migratory from the northern portions of their range, but less so 
or not at all in the south. 

The Courlans comprise another family, the Aramldcc, of the Marsh-dwellers. But two 
species are known: one found in South America, and the other, the Limpkin, in Central 
America, Mexico, the West Indies, and Florida. 

[i<)7l 



198 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



WHOOPING CRANE 
Grus americana ( Liiuucus) 

A. U. V. Xumhcr J04 



Other Names. — White Crane; Great White Crane; 
Garuii. 

General Description. — Length, 4'j feet; spread of 
wings, 7' J feet. Phimage, white. Head with bare spot 
on each side below eyes, extending to a point on back 
of croivn and sparsely covered with short hairs. 

Color. — Adults: Jl'liitc: (iriniarics and coverts, 
black: bare part of head, carmine; bill, dusky-greenish; 
legs, black; iris, yellow. Young: Entire head, feathered. 
General plumage, whitish, variegated with rusty-brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest ; On the ground ; a well- 



built structure of marsh grass and reed stems, from one 
and a half to two feet in diameter and eighteen inches 
high. Eggs ; 2, olive or bufTy, blotched with large 
irregular spots of brown. 

Distribution. — North America ; bred formerly from 
northern Mackenzie south to Illinois and Iowa; now 
mainly restricted to southern Mackenzie and northern 
Saskatchewan ; in migration formerly not rare on the 
Atlantic coast from New England to Florida and casual 
west to Colorado and Idaho; winters from the Gulf 
States to central !Me.xico. 



The Wliooping Crane was named and de- 
scribed by Linne in the eighteenth century. 
Previous to that time all three American species 
were lumped together as Cranes. 

Many of the narratives of the early voyagers 
and settlers tell of Cranes migrating and nesting 
along the Atlantic coast. Ditring the first cen- 
tury after the discovery of the country, Cranes 
evidently were more or less numerous all along 
this coast, from Florida to New England, but 
the word has been used so frequently to denote 
the larger Herons that one might be inclined to 
place little faith in the statements of sailors and 
colonists were it not for two facts: (1) In 
those days Cranes were well-known and conspicu- 
ous birds in England and other countries of 
which these voyagers were natives, or which 
they had visited, and undoubtedly they were 
familiar with these birds, and could distingttish 
them from Herons. (2) In the lists of birds 
given by these early adventurers, Herons, 
" Hearnes " and " Hernshaws," " Bitterns," and 
" Egrets " or " Egrepes " are also referred to, 
showing that they distingtiished the Cranes from 
the Herons. The common European Heron was 
a large species ( resembling the Great Blue Heron 
of America) which, at that time, was called the 
Hernshaw. Hearneshaw, or Heronshaw. It is 
often impossible to determine which species of 
Crane was referred to in these early narratives 
and lists of birds, as usually no description is 
given ; but now and then we find a reference to 
a bird that must have been the Whooping Crane. 

The Whooping Crane is the only bird of North 
America that can be described as " almost as 
tall as a man." The Whooping Crane stands 
about five feet high when stretched to its full 
height, but being white it appears taller, while the 



Sandhill Crane is not so conspicuous on account 
of its color and does not appear so large. 

Probably there were few Cranes inhabiting 
Massachusetts when the Pilgrim Fathers landed 
at Plymouth, except along the coast, on the 
islands, and on the meadows and marshes of the 
river valleys, for most of the State was then 
covered with primeval forest ; and while Cranes 
are sometimes found in open woods, they are 
shy and wary birds, and prefer the open country, 
where they can discern their enemies from afar. 

The fact that they sometimes ate the corn 
proves that they v^'ere actually Cranes, not Her- 
ons, and also helps to explain their early disap- 
pearance from Massachusetts. They paid with 
the death penalty for eating the corn. Also, as 
these birds occupied the only natural open lands 
— those that were first sought by settlers — they 
were driven out within a few years after settle- 
ment began. Even had they not attacked the 
corn they must soon have succumbed because of 
their large size, their white color, and their gen- 
eral conspicuousness. In the early days the 
Indians used to steal upon the Cranes and shoot 
them with arrows. Now the few survivors of 
this species in the West will hardly come know- 
ingly within a mile of the white man. 

John Lawson, in his History of Carolina, says 
that Cranes are sometimes " bred up tame " and 
are excellent in the garden to destroy frogs and 
other vermin. 

This bird is long-lived and grows wary as the 
years go by ; it now frequents prairies, marshes, 
and barren grounds, over which it stalks, always 
alert and watchful. It flies low, its wings some- 
times almost brushing the grass tops, but in mi- 
gration it rises to stich tremendotis heights that 
it may pass over a large region unnoticed by man. 




|i')y| 



200 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



It feeds on frogs, fish, small iiianinials, and in- 
sects, and is said to take corn and other cereals 
and the succulent roots of vvater-])lants. 

Nuttall, describing the flights of the Whoop- 
ing Crane up the Mississippi valley in December. 
1811. says, " that the bustle of their great migra- 
tions and the passage of their mighty armies 
fills the mind with wonder." It seemed, he says, 
as though the whole continent was giving uji its 
(|Uota of the species to swell this mighty host, 
and the clangor of their numerous legions, pass- 
ing high in air, was almost deafening. His state- 



ment, that this great host of Cranes was passing 
nearly all night, will give some idea of the im- 
mensity of this great flight. 

The Whooping Crane is doomed to extinction. 
It has disappeared from its former habitat in the 
East and is now found only in uninhabited 
jilaces. It can hardly be said to be common any- 
where except ])erhaps locally in the far North. 
Only its extreme watchfulness has saved thus 
far the remnant of its once great host. 

Edward Howe Forbush, in Game Birds, 
Wild-Fozi'l and Shore Birds. 



SANDHILL CRANE 
Grus mexicana (Miiller) 

A. O. U. XuTiiber 206 ,^{'e Color I'late 24 



Other Names. — Brown Crane; Upland Crane; Field 
Crane; Southern .Sandhill Crane. 

General Description. — Length, 4 feet; spread of 
wings, 6I2 feet. Plumage, slaty-gray. Head with hare 
spot forking behind, not reaching on sides below eyes, 
and thinly sprinkled with hair. 

Color. — Adults; Plumage, slaty-gray: primaries 
and their coverts, ashy-gray but little darker than 
general color ; cheeks and throat, lighter inclined to 
whitish; bill and feet, black; iris, brown. YouNc, : 
Head, feathered. Plumage, variegated with rusty and 
brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: On the ground, usually 



iin a slight knoll of open grassy flats; generally a mere 
depression in the ground, lined with dry grass and weed 
stems. EcGS : 2. from pale olive to bufify-brown, 
marked over entire surface with spots of burnt-umber. 
Distribution. — North America ; resident in Louisi- 
ana and Florida ; bred formerly from southern British 
Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and western 
Ontario south to California, Colorado, Nebraska, 
Illinois, and Ohio; formerly in migration east to New 
England ; now rare east of the Mississippi, except in 
F'lorida. and rare as a breeder in the southern half of 
its former breeding range; winters from California, 
Texas, and Louisiana south to Mexico. 



The virtual extermination, or at best the ex- 
treme rarity, of the great Whooping Crane, 
leaves the much smaller .Sandhill Crane by far 
the largest representative of that interesting 
family in America. For it should be remembered 
that the various Herons — notably the Great 
Blue Heron — which are commonly called 
" Cranes," not only are not Cranes at all, but 
differ radically from them in both disposition and 
habits. 

If not in size, then in its conspicuous and strik- 
ing characteristics, the Sandhill Crane is a fit 
successor to his towering relative, whose davs 
seem to be numbered. Nor is the bird a weak- 
ling at that, for the height of the male when he 
stands erect is nearly that of a man of average 
stature, while the bird's great wings carry his 
compact and muscular body with ])erfect ease and 
at a high speed. The bird's wariness bespeaks 
intelligent caution rather than weakness or fear. 



Indeed, when the Sandhill Crane is crippled by a 
broken wing or otherwise, he may become an 
exceedingly ugly antagonist for the man who at- 
tempts to overpower him, because of the skill, 
strength, and quickness with which he will then 
employ his long and dagger-like bill in defend- 
ing himself. Many a hunter's dog has been 
blinded or otherwise badly injured by the vicious 
thrusts of this very dangerous weapon, which 
the Crane does not hesitate to use when he is at 
bay and fighting for his life. 

Unlike the Herons, this Crane spends much of 
its time, and gets tlie food which it seems to relish, 
most, on dry land. Hence it is often foinid on 
the plains and prairies, sometimes in small flocks 
but oftener in pairs or singly. Its diet includes 
a large percentage of roots, bulbs, grains, and the 
like ; and it is especially fond of corn which it 
takes from the shock. Insects, frogs, lizards, 
snakes, and mice are also included iri its bill of 



CRANES AND CUURLANS 



20I 



fare, but nut in Mifhcient nunibL-rs to make its 
flesh " strung " as is that of the Herons and 
(ilher wathny birds. In fact, this Crane's flesh 
is excehenl f(.)r tlie table, and it has been persist- 
ently hnnted for food. 

On the fenceless prairies and the treeless 
marshes, where its keen eyes can detect afar off 
the approach of ;in enemy, the demeanor and 
habits of this fine, brave bird challentje the ad- 
miration of the man who appreciates alertness, 
cunrage. and strength in wild life. Xot for an 
instant is the great bird otT his guard. Aloving 
in delilierate and dignified strides he jjauses occa- 
sionally and lowers his head to thrust his long 
bill into the soft earth, or to seize a dozing frog 
or an un watchful insect : but in a few seconds up 
again comes his head, and his eves search the 
surr<iunding country. If the approach of his 
chief enemy, man, is discovered, the Crane sur- 
veys the intruder for a few minutes and then, 
with a few long, running strides takes to his 



wings, at the same time soundmg his wild and 
defiant cry. 

This cry of the Sandhill Crane is a veritable 
voice of Nature, untamed and unterrified. Its 
uncanny ([uality is like that of the Loon, but is 
more pronounced because of the much greater 
\'olume of the Crane's voice. Its resonance is 
remarkable and its carrying power is increased 
by a distinct tremolo effect. Often for several 
minutes after the birds have vanished, the un- 
earthly sound drifts back to the listener, like a 
taunting trumpet from the under-world. 

George Gladden. 

The Little Brown Crane ( Grns lainidciisis ) is 
like the Sandhill Crane excejit for its smaller 
size. It breeds from northern Alaska, Melville 
Island, and Boothia Peninsula south to central 
Alaska, southern Mackenzie, and central Kee- 
watin. During migration it occurs through the 
interior of the United States and winters south 
to Texas and Mexico. 



LIMPKIN 
Aramus vociferus {Latham) 

A. O. U- -Xuniher 207 



Other Names. — Courlan ; Crying-birfl : Chicking-lieii ; 
Caraii. 

Description. — Length, 28 inches. Color, olive-ljrown, 
paler on face, chin, and throat, streaked or spotted 
everywhere with white; bill, dusky; legs, greenish- 
dusky; iris, brown. The young are paler and duller 
than the adults. 

Nest and Eggs. — \'est: On the ground near water. 



sometimes a short distance above ground in a maze of 
vines or thick bushes; constructed of grass, leaves, dead 
vines, moss, and other old vegetation. Eccs : 4 to 7, 
usually 5 or 6, varying from pure white to bufFy, spotted 
and splashed with brown and gray. 

Distribution. — Florida, Greater .Antilles, and both 
coasts of Central America ; casual north to South 
Carolina ; accidental in Texas. 



Of the Courlan family only two species are 
known, one of these being the Limpkin of 
Central America, Mexico, the West Indies, and 
Florida. It may be described as a very large 
Rail with many of the habits of an Ibis. In the 
Everglades of Florida it is a common bird and 
while crossing that vast waste in the month of 
May I found many flocks, some of wliich 
numbered as high as forty individuals. Their 
flight is peculiar. With dangling legs the bird 
springs from the glades and goes off on wings 
that have a jerky motion, strongly suggestive of 
the movements of the wings of a mechanical 
beetle. In alighting the wings are held high above 
the back and in this attitude the bird drops from 
sight. The food consists largely of the big fresh- 



water snail found in many parts of the State. 
These snails in places abound in the shallow 
waters and are easily procured by this long- 
legged wading bird. In the cypress swamps I 
have come upon piles of empty shells from which 
the snails had been extracted by these birds. In 
doing this the shell is rarelv broken. 

In the swamps along the Oklawaha River, 
lumbermen of recent years have cut much of the 
timber. Stumps, from four to ten feet in height, 
are everywhere left standing. The jimgle hates 
a bare place and soon these stimips are covered 
with vines. Here, on the top of these vine-clad 
pillars, the Limpkins often build their nests. 
Farther south you mav find them in tall bunches 
of saw-grass or isolated custard-apples bushes in 



202 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



the glades. The nests are made chiefly of such 
varieties of twigs and leaves as are obtainable 
in the neighborhood. From four to seven brown 
spotted eggs are laid. 

Limpkins at times are very noisy creatures. 
Their usual call possesses a quality of unutter- 
able sadness, as though the bird was opi)ressed 
beyond measure by the desolateness of its sur- 
roundings. For this reason the name " Crying- 
bird " is usually given them by the natives. In 
the spring and early summer they largely haunt 
the swampy shores of streams and lakes, but in 
the autumn they gather in great numbers in the 
more open savannas. Thousands thus pass the 
winter months on the pond-covered ]irairies 
about the headwaters of the Caloosahatchee 
River, west of Lake Okechobee. The Limpkin 
is highly esteemed for food, but owing to the 
difliculties of hunting them in their retreats there 
is strong likelihood of the species persisting in 
Florida for many years to come. 

A few years ago many were to be found in the 
swampy country of northern Florida, within 
fifteen or twenty miles of the Georgia line, and 
two or three specimens have even been taken in 
South Carolina. T. Gilbert Pearson. 




Courtesy of Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 
LIMPKIN 
A long-legged wading bird of Florida and tropical America 



RAILS, GALLINULES, AND COOTS 

Order Paludicolcc ; suborder Ralli ; family Rallidcs 

BOUT fifty genera, embracing one hundred and eighty species constitute this 
family, the /?a//;J(r, which inckides the Rails (/^a/Z/'ncr), Gallinules {Gallimdincc), 
and Coots (Fulicincr) . The distribution of these birds is virtually cosmopolitan, 
and abotit fifteen species occur, regularly or casually, in North America. They 
are from small to fair-sized birds, with noticeably compressed bodies, — well 
adapted to rapid progress through thickly growing reeds and rtishes, — long 
necks, small heads, short, rounded wings, short tails, and long, strong legs and 
feet. The bill is short and henlike in the Coots and Gallinules, but long and 
slightly curved toward the end in the Rails. The plumage is subdued and 
blended in color. A family peculiarity is that of running, rather than flying, 
to escape danger, a trait apparently responsible for the extermination of certain 
species which had lost the power of flight through disuse of the wings, and the steady diminu- 
tion of others for the same reason. 

" Rails and Gallinules are marsh birds, very secretive in habits, keeping well under cover 
of the dense rushes and grasses, except at night or in the twilight, when they venture out on 
the mudd}/^ shores. When silently floating along the marshy stream, one may often see them 
standing motionless near their favorite coverts, or walking deliberately along the margin 
flirting their upturned tails and bobbing their necks in henlike fashion. Their cries are 
also loud, and remind one of the different notes of our domestic fowl. Consequently all 
our species of the family, from the Virginia Rail to the Coot, have received the common name 
of Mud Hens. The flight of Rails and Gallinules is feeble and hesitating. They usually 
take wing as a last resort, and then proceed with dangling legs, in a direct course, low over 




a. 




<=: 1- 

5~- S 



RAILS, GALLINULES, AND COOTS 



203 



the tops of the rushes, dropping abruptly m a few rods amidst the grass, as if exhausted by 
their unwonted exertion. They are perfectly at home on the ground, and dart among the 
dense weeds with marked freedom, the long toes keeping them from sinking in the mud or 
submerged vegetation, their thin bodies gliding easily between the reeds." (Eaton.) 

All of the Rails, Gallinules, and Coots nest on the ground, and as a rule lay large sets 
of eggs. The young are covered with down when hatched, and are able to run about very 
soon after leaving the shell. 



KING 
Rallus elega 

A. O. U. .\ umber -'08 

Other Names. — Fresh-water Marsh Hen; Great 
Red-breasted Rail ; Aliid Hen. 

General Description. — Length, ly inches. Upper 
parts, tawny-ohvc streaked with darker; lower parts, 
chestnut. F"orehead entirely feathered down to base of 
bill ; bill long and slender. 

Color. — .Adults: Crown, sides of head, hack of 
neck, and rest of ji/'/'iT parts. tincny-oIiTi- streaked 
from center of neck to tail with blackish-brown ; an in- 
distinct whitish line from bill over and behinrl eye; 
chin and upper throat, white; iicch and hrrasl. rich 
ihcstiiut: rest of under parts, white traversed l)y broad 
bars of olive-brown ; wing-coverts, olive-brown ; second- 
aries, dusky-brown edged with lighter ; primaries, plain 



RAIL 

ns Audubon 

.^ce Color I'late 25 

dusky-brown ; a narrow white semi-circle below eye ; 
bill, yellowish, dusky on riclge and tip ; legs. i)ale dusky- 
greenish ; iris, reddish-brown. Downy Young: Glossy 
black. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : On the ground in marsh 
grass; built of dead reeds and grass, well concealed 
from above by interlacing of surrounding grass. Eggs: 
6 to 12. dull white to pale bufT. thinly spotted with 
reddish-brown and lilac. 

Distribution. — Eastern North .\merica ; breeds from 
Nebraska, southern Minnesota, Ontario, New York, and 
Connecticut south to Texas, Florida, and Cuba ; winters 
mainly in the southern part of its breeding range ; cas- 
ual north to .South Dakota and Maine. 



This large and handsome Rail, the King Rail, 
closely resembles the Virginia Rail except in size. 
Its retiring habits probably account for our lack 
of knowledge regarding it. Little seems to be 
known of it except that it appears to prefer fresh 
marshes to salt marshes. I have never seen it 
alive. 

Dr. Bachman, in .South Carolina, seems to 
have had a better opportunity of observing its 
habits than an\- one else who has written about it. 
He states that he found twenty pairs breeding 
within a space having a diameter of thirty yards, 
and that the nests were placed on the ground, 
being raised up six or eight inches by means of 
withered weeds and grasses ; but ^\'ayne, who 
has also found numerous nests, finds them in 
rushes or buttonwood bushes, from eight to eigli- 
teen inches over water. He noted that the 
female laid an egg each day after ii a. m. and 
f)n laying the twelfth began at once to incubate. 
This Rail frequents the swampy borders of ri\'ers 
and fresh-water ponds overgrown with vegeta- 
tion. Tlie stomach of one specimen was filled 
with seeds of Aniiido tccta : that of another 
contained a quantity of oats. 

Edw.xkd Howe Forbush, in Gome Birds, 
IVild-Foii'l and Shore Birds. 













Photo by H. T. Middleton 

KING RAIL 






204 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



CLAPPER RAIL 

Rallus crepitans crepitans Cmelin 

A. O. U. Number jii See Color I'late 25 



Other Names. — Common Clapper ; Marsh Clapper ; 
Mud Hen; Sedge Hen; Meadow Hen; Salt-water 
Marsh Hen. 

General Description. — Length, 16 inches. Color 
above, brownish-gray ; below, lighter. Forehead entirely 
feathered down to base of bill; bill, long and slender. 

Color. — Adults : Forehead, dusky ; crown, sides of 
head, neck, upper parts, and lower parts as far as 
abdomen, pale olh'C-asli streaked on back, shoulders, 
and rump with olive-brown ; lores and throat, whitish ; 
abdomen and under tail-coverts, pale brownish-white 
traversed with broad indefinite bars of brownish-gray; 



wing-quills and tail, plain dusky-brown ; bill, yellow, 
dusky on ridge and tip; feet, pale greenish-dusky; iris, 
reddish-brown. There is much variation in the shades 
of plumage, tall and winter birds being much darker and 
with browner shades. DowNY YouNc: Glossy black. 

Nest and Eggs.— Nest: A platform of dead reeds 
and grasses on the ground in meadows. Eggs : 6 to 15, 
white to buff, dotted and blotched with chestnut and 
some lavender. 

Distribution.— Salt marshes of the Atlantic coast; 
breeds from Connecticut to North Carolina ; winters 
mainly south of New Jersey; casual north to Maine. 



Grassy salt marshes are the haunts of the 
Clapper Rail. P'rum Connecticut southward to 
the Florida Keys they are undoubtedly more 
numerous than any other species found in these 
marshes. ( )ne does not find them everywhere in 
their range but in the localities they like best the 
grass seems to swarm with them. It is ordinarily 
very difficult to flush them and one may wade 
or push a boat through the marsh for hours and 



never see one while all the time their tantalizing 
calls are heard near and far. Their facility in 
keeping out of sight is most remarkable. From 
Virginia southward they are much hunted during 
the months of September and October. They are 
shot from small boats when the tide is high and 
the flooded marshes afiford no shelter wherein 
the birds may hide. While one man poles the 
boat a second stands in the bow and fires at the 




\ 




.^-^^^^^ 



Drawing by R, I. Brasher 



CLAPPER RAIL (i nat. size) 
A noisy salt-water marsh bird 



RAILS, GALLINULES, AND COOTS 



205 



slow-flving^ g;ame as it rises fruni the scant co\-er 
of the exposed tops of the g^rass. 

Durinsj the breeding,' season one may find many 
nests within a small area. The following descrip- 
tion of one of their favorite nesting colonies is 
quoted from my notes made at the time of my 
visit: 

'■ ■ Jacks Grass ' is a low island of perhaps 
twenty acres on the North Carolina coast near 
New Inlet. It has no trees, but is covered gen- 
erally with grass eight or ten inches long. Small 
clumps of rushes growing rarely o\er three feet 
high are scattered over the island, and in nearly 
every one of these a Clapper Rail's nest was 
found. These were composed of marsh-grass 
blades and stalks, and were built from six to 
eight inches above the wet sod. The fragments 
of grass used varied from four to si.x inches in 
length, shorter pieces being employed for the toji 
layers. The nests measured about eight inches 
across the top, and were of uniform width from 
the bottom. On May 13 two of the nests ex- 
amined each held eight slightly incubated eggs, 
and one nest of ten eggs was seen. C)ne was 
found with two freshly deposited eggs, and 
another had four incubated eggs. Egg-shells 
from which the _\-oung had but shortly departed 
were found in one instance. L'sually the nests 
were not screened from view by anv arching of 
the rushes above them. Along the banks of the 
tide creeks that traversed the island the marsh 
grass was often two or more feet in length. Here 
were many co\ered runwa}'S of the liirds, some 
of which were several yards in length." 

Three distinct subspecies, or climatic varieties, 
of this Clapper Rail have been recognized by 
naturalists. One is the Louisiana, or Ilenshaw's, 
Clapper Rail (Rallits crepitans safiiratits). chiefly 
distinguished b)- ha\ing its feathers darker 



colored than the common varietA" : the Florida 
Clap|>er Rail (Ralliis crcpita)is scntti). a form 
that is still darker; and Wayne's Clapper Rail 
i Rallitx crcpita/is wayuci) , found from North 
Carolina southward. Two closely allied but dis- 
tinct species occurring elsewhere in North 
.\nierica are the California Clapper Rail {Ralliis 




Photu by P. B. Piiilipp Courtesy uE Xat. Asso. Au.i. rioc. 

NEST AND EGGS OF CLAPPER RAIL 

Stone Harbor, New Jersey 

obsolctus) , of the salt marshes of the Pacific 
coast, and the Caribbean Clapper Rail ( Ralliis 
loiujirostyis caribccus), found in Texas and the 
\\'est Indies. The general habits of all are very 
similar to the more familiar eastern bird. 

T. < iii-i;i;i(T Pearsox. 



VIRGINIA RAIL 
Rallus virginianus Linucvus 

.■\. O. l,\ Xumlier jij See (olor i'l.ite 25 



Other Names.— I.ittlo Red-breasted Rail : Small Mud 
Hen : Frcsli-water Marsh Hen ; Long-billed Rail. 

General Description. — Length, ii inches. Like the 
Kint; Rail e.xcept for smaller size. 

Color. — .'\mJi-TS : Crown, back of neck, and upper 
parts, pale olive-brown, streaked on back and rump with 



dark brownish-black: sides of head and checks, ashy: 
lores and a narrow semi-circle below eye white; chin 
and upper throat, white; neck and breast, rich chestnut: 
abdomen and under tail-coverts, dusky with narrow 
white traverse bars ; wing-coverts, chestnut; secondaries, 
brownish-black ed.ged with olive; primaries and tail. 



206 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



plain brownish-black ; hill, flesh color, dusky on ridge 
and tip ; legs, dark flesh color : iris, reddish-brown. 
Immature: Darker above than adults: under parts, 
blackish. Downy YouNc: Sooty black with yellowish bill. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: In a tuft of grass or reeds 
in meadows; rather compactly constructed (for a Rail) 
of dry reeds. .Eggs: 6 to 12, cream or buffy, thinly 
spotted with chestnut or lavender. 

Distribution. — North .America : breeds from British 



Columbia, southern Saskatchewan, southern Keewatin, 
Ontario, .southern Quebec, and New Brunswick south 
to southern California, Utah, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, 
New Jersey, and eastern North Carolina, and in Toluca 
valley, Mexico; winters from Oregon. Utah, and Colo- 
rado to Lower California and Guatemala, also in the 
lower Mississippi States, and from North Carolina 
(casually Massachusetts) to Florida; occurs casually 
nortli to northern Quebec and Newfoundland. 



In general habits I have not noticed any very 
di.stinctive difference between the Virginia Rail 
and the Sora, unless it be that birds of the former 
species are more inchned to keep by themselves 
in solitude or in pairs, whereas a good many 



photographs. Despite all my care I found it next 
to impossible to see the bird on the nest before 
pulling the thread attached to the shutter. So I 
laid my line of communication further off and 
pulled at a venture, after waiting a reasonable 




VIRGINIA RAIL 
It hides away in marshes and is little known 



Cuurtcsy ut S. A. Lottridgu 



Soras may be found, even during breeding time, 
in the same bog. The nesting is entirely similar. 
With neither species, as a rule, can one flush the 
sitting bird directly from the nest, for it slips off 
upon hearing the approach. In a few cases, 
where I came up very silently, I have seen them 
slip off through the .grass, especially when I 
approached with caution nests already located. 

On one occasion, by concealing my camera in 
a bower of rushes near a nest, I secured some 



time. In each case except one I secured my 
subject. 

The young, as with other kinds, are tiny black 
creatures, which have a most amazing way of 
disappearing in a bog. Seeing the sprite in the 
grass, we may do our best to make a grab, but 
the reward is likely to be only a handful of grass 
and black slime. 

Though it is hard to see the nesting bird for 
identification, the eggs of both the \'irginia Rail 



RAILS, GALLINULES, AND COOTS 



20: 



and the Sora are distinct and characteristic. 
Though of the same size, those of the former are 
hghter in ground color, being yellowish-white, 
whereas those of the Sora are a more decided 
buff in hue. The birds, too, are distinct, the ."^ora 
having a little short bill, while the subject of our 
sketch has quite a long bill and a redder shade of 
plumage. 

This bird is one of the coterie, always to be 
associated together, which are found in the bogs 
and meadows — \'irginia Rail, Sora, Red-winged 
Blackbird, both Marsh Wrens, Bittern and Least 
Bittern, sometimes Swamp Sparrow, and, in the 
West, the Coot and Yellow-headed ESlackbird, 
as well as Redhead, Ruddy Duck, Canvas-back, 
and others. It is a most interesting fraternity, 
and the fascination of their company has made 
and keeps me a regular "bog-trotter." 

Herbert K. Job. 




Photo by H. K. J 



!_'■ urtui> "i Uutir.g Pub. Ct. 



VIRGINIA RAIL ON NEST 



SORA 
Porzana Carolina tLiiiihcits) 



A. O. U, Number 214 

Other Names. — Carolina Rail ; Common Rail ; Soree ; 
Meadow Chicken ; Carolina Crake ; Little American 
Water Hen : Chicken-billed Rail : Chicken-bill : Rail- 
bird : Ortolan ; Mud Hen. 

General Description. — Length. 9 inches. Color 
above, olive-brown; below, gray. Bill short and stoul; 
forehead entirely feathered down to base of bill. 

Color. — Adults: Forehead, lores, face, cliin, and 
throat (narrowly), black; crown, neck, and upper parts, 
including tail, olivc-brozcn : back with dark-brown 
traverse bars and streaked narrowly with white ; line 
over eye, sides of head, and under farts, pure i/ray. 
more olive on sides of body where barred with white 
transversely ; abdomen barred with white ; tail-coverts, 
whitish, tinged with rufous; bill, yellow, with extreme 
tip black; feet, light yellowish-green; iris, carmine. 



.'^LC t olor riate 2t> 

Imm.\ture: Xo black on foreparts: throat and abdo- 
men, whitish; neck and breast, icaslied ?ci7/i cinnamon. 
DowNV YocNC. : Glossy black, with a tuft of orange- 
colored bristly feathers on the breast. 

Nest and Eggs. — \est : On the ground in meadows ; 
a carelessly constructed affair of grass and weeds. 
Ei,r,s : 7 to 13. more rarely 16, pronounced drab, spotted 
with cliestnnt and lavender over entire surface. 

Distribution, — North America ; breeds from central 
British Columbia, southern Mackenzie, central Keewa- 
tin, and Gulf of St. Lawrence south to southern Cali- 
fornia, L'tah, Colorado. Kansas. Illinois, and New 
Jersey; winters from northern California, Illinois, and 
South Carolina through the West Indies and Central 
.America to Venezuela and Peru ; accidental in Ber- 
muda, Greenland, and England. 



The Soras are curious birds, which remind one of 
very tiny dark-colored bantam hens. They spend 
their lives mainly in slipping through the tangles 
of the fresh-water bogs, in the universal search 
for something to eat. Success in their mission 
is demonstrated by the fact that, though slenderly 
built, supposedly " thin as a rail,'' by autumn 
they are cjuite generally loaded with fat. From 
their arrival in May until their final departure 
south in October they live in close retirement and 
are seldom seen. But throw a stone into one of 
these seemingly tenantless bogs, and it is surpris- 
ing what a chorus of yells and cackling sounds 
may arise, as though its coverts sheltered a 
sizable poultry farm. 
Vol. I — 15 



During my boyhood I had constant opportunity 
to study Soras and \'irginia Rails in an almost 
bottomless " cat-tail " bog, in the suburbs of 
Boston, Mass., on the edge of the town of Brook- 
line, now groomed up into a fine city park and 
lake. It was my delight to flounder through it 
with boy companions, and find many sorts of 
nests. I shall never forget how one day a boy 
tried a short cut to a nest, contrary to my advice, 
got in all over, and finally, in tears, floundered 
ashore, swimming through black ooze of the 
consistency of New Orleans molasses. His re- 
turn home through the city was a constant ova- 
tion, as may be imagined. 

Here I found many a .Sora's nest, including one 



208 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



which contained sixteen eggs, the largest number 
that I ever found in a Rail's domicile, eight to 
ten being usual, and thirteen not infrec|uent. The 




Courtesy of Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 
SORA 
Their peculiar flight maltes tliem easy targets for gunners 

nests are little platforms of dry grass or rush 
leaves, quite well hollowed. Sometimes they are 
in a cluster of reeds or rushes, a little above the 
level of the water, or under a thick tussock of 
meadow grass. Rut, after much searching. I 
found that the more typical location, both for the 
Sora and the \"irginia Rail, was just out of the 
bog, in open meadow, where, on comparatively 
finn ground, rather short meadow-grass grew 
from just a little water. There the Rails con- 
structed a little pile or island of grass, raised 



slightly above the water. The stems of the rather 
sparse grass held it together, and the ends were 
twisted and tied by the birds to form over it a 
sort of rounded canopy. In walking over the 
meadow I learned to find nests by noting this 
arching of the grass, even at some distance. 
Rails are nocturnal, and toward dusk one may 
watch them at the edges of the bog trotting out to 
feed. Their migrations are quite mysterious. 
Some frosty morning the meadows suddenly are 
found to be alive with them. Then the gunners 
get their innings. In some localities, such as the 
meadows along the Connecticut River, near its 
mouth. Rail shooting becomes a regular industry. 
At high tide boatmen pole flat skiffs through the 
grass. The Rails flutter up with their character- 
istic fli.ght, making easy marks. 

In Louisiana I found this species common in 
winter on the marshes back from the Gulf coast, 
on the reservations. Toward evening I could 
\\atch them from the windows of our camp, as 
well as during cloudy days. They came out from 
the reeds and fed on the rice which we scattered, 
sometimes venturing even under the house. 

Herkert K. Job. 



t^"^ 1 




Piioto by H. K. Jub 

NEST AND EGGS OF SORA 



YELLOW RAIL 

Coturnicops noveboracensis 

.\. O. U. Number 215 

Other Names. — Little Yellow Rail ; Yellow Crake. 

General Description. — Length. 7 inches. Prevailing 
color, brownish-yellow, paler below and streaked above 
with dark. Forehead entirely feathered to base of bill ; 
bill short and stout. 



Ginclil)) 
See Color Plate 26 

Color. — Adults; Crown (narrowly), neck, and 
upper jiarts, broadly and regularly streaked with yellow- 
ish brou'n and burnt umber, this fusing on crown and 
shading on sides of neck and sides of breast into red- 
dish-brown spots; the dark streaks of back and wings. 




''^.•i!^^ 
'^f 







o ^ 



RAILS, GALLINULES, AND COOTS 



209 



crossed by narrow white semi-circles, the tuintis. shozv- 
in</ cuiisidcrablc -a'liitc in flight: sides of head and neck, 
chin, throat, breast, and abdomen, yellowish-brown ; 
under tail-coverts, plain brownish ; sides of body, with 
some traverse spots of brown and white; lores and a 
streak below eye extending on side of face, brown ; 
bill, yellow: feet pale yellowish fle>h color: iris, brown- 
ish-red. Downy YouNo: Black. 



Nest and Eggs.— Nest: On the .uruuiid in meadows: 
cunslruLtod of dry grass. Kn.s: i) to lo. creamy-buff, 
spotted with tine rusty-lirown. 

Distribution.— Chiefly eastern North America ; breeds 
from southern Mackenzie, central Keewatin, and south- 
ern Ungava south to Minnesota and Maine: winters 
in the Gulf States, rarely in California. Illinois, and 
North Carolina: casual in Nevada, Utah, and P.ernnida. 



The Yellow Kail is seen rather rarely in Massa- 
chusetts. I ha\e met with it alive only once. It 
probably is more coninion in migration than is 
believed generally, as it is very small and its 
habits are secretive. It is e\en more reluctant 
than the other Rails to take wing ; hence it is seen 
rarely, but is sometimes caught by do.gs and cats. 
When forced to take wing it flies in the same 
hesitating, fluttering manner as the other Rails, 
but rather swifter and sometimes to a consider- 



:il)le distance. It can swim and di\e well in case 
of necessity. 

Wayne states that in South Carolina he found 
it nearly impossil)le to flush these birds with a 
dog when their only cover was short dead grass. 
1 lis dog caught nine and flushed but one. Fresh- 
water snails were found in their stomachs. 

EDW.\Kn Howe P^)KBU.sit. in Gaiitc Birds, 
WUd-Foid and Shore Birds. 



BLACK RAIL 
Creciscus jamaicensis [Guiclin) 

.\. O, V. Number .■16 .See Color Pl.ite 2b 



Other Names.— Little Black Rail : Black Crake. 

General Description. — Length, 6 inches. Upper 
parts, black harreil with white: head, throat, and chest, 
slate color. Forehead entirely feathered down to base 
of bill ; bill short and stout. 



Color. — .-Xdults: Forehead and crown, dusky: hind- 
neck and fore-back, dark chestnut; rest of uf^tii-r parts. 
i/i't-/' I'l-n'ii.'iii.^-h-hlack. finely barred with white; head, 
neck, and breast, dark slate; abdomen and under tail- 
coverts, deep blackish-brown, traversed with narrow 




:«-»'* 



Drawing by R. I. Brasher 



BLACK RAIL (J nat. size) 
The smallest of the American Rails 



2IO 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



white bars ; lores and a line through and back of eye, 
dusky ; wing-quills and tail, dusky with some white 
spots. Downy Young: Black. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: A very well-made and 
deeply cupped structure of fine grasses and weed stems; 
well concealed in a depression of the ground. Eggs : 
6 to 9, white, sparsely spotted with small chestnut dots. 

Distribution. — Eastern North .'Kmerica ; breeds from 
southern Ontario and Massachusetts south to Kansas, 
Illinois, and South Carolina; winters from Texas east 
through the Gulf States and south to Jamaica and 
Guatemala ; casual in Bermuda. 



The Black Rail runs swiftly, like a mouse, 
tlirough the herbage, and seldom flies, although in 
migration it has reached the Bermuda Islands. 
Gosse quotes a Mr. Robinson who says that in 
Jamaica it is so foolish as to hide its head and 
cock up its tail, thinking itself safe, when it is 
easily taken alive. 

Edward Howe Fdrbusii, in Game Birds, 
]]^Ud-Fo%d and Shore Birds. 



The Black Rail, the smallest Rail in America, 
is believed to be a very rare bird in New England, 
where it has been recorded only from Maine, 
Connecticut, and Massachusetts, in which States 
it possibly breeds. So far as our present infor- 
mation goes, Massachusetts appears to be near 
the northern limit of its breeding range on the 
Atlantic coast, but it may go farther north. 

Records are received with caution, as the 
black, downy young of larger Rails are mistaken 
for Black Rails. Wayne appears to be the first 
obser\-er who has actually seen the female Black- 
Rail on her nest in the United States, and re- 
corded it. The nest was in an oat field, and the 
standing grain, where the nest was, had been cut. 
The bird is so secretive that, as related by 
Wayne, two men and a dog searched four hours 
for the male in the oat field before it could be 
secured, although it was calling incessaiitly. This 
bird may not be as rare as it is rated. 




C"Urtcsy ot Am. Mus. Psat. Hist. 
BLACK RAIL 



PURPLE GALLINULE 
lonornis martinicus ( Linnicas) 

A. O. U. Number 218 ^'ce Color I'latc 27 



Other Name. — Sultana (Jamaica). 

General Description. — Length, 14 inches. Head, 
neck, and under parts, jiurplish ; upper parts, olive- 
green. Head with frontal shield extending from base 
of bill and covering forehead ; toes slender and with- 
out lobes ; bill shorter than head. 

Color. — Adults : Head, neck, and under parts, 
deep pnrplish-hhic : abdomen black; under tail-coverts 
white: back and upper parts in general, olive-green; 
wing-coverts, blue-edged ; wing- and tail-feathers 
dusky with outer webs bluish-green ; frontal shield, 
pale cobalt; basal half of bill, carmine, front half yel- 
low; a narrow white streak on side of face at base of 
bill; legs, chrome-yellow; iris. red. Immature: Upper 



parts, washed with brownish; under parts, mottled with 
white. Downy Young: Glossy-black with numerous 
white hair-like feathers on head. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : Placed in reeds over water ; 
constructed of dead rushes. Eggs: 6 to 10, creamy, 
thinly spotted and dotted with brown and lavender. 

Distribution. — Tropical and subtropical America ; 
breeds from Texas, Tennessee, and South Carolina 
south through Mexico and the West Indies to Ecuador 
and Paraguay ; winters from Texas, Louisiana, and 
Florida southward ; irregularly north in summer to 
.'\rizona, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Ontario, Quebec, Nova 
Scotia, and New Brunswick; accidental in England 
and Bermuda. 



R.MLS, GALLINULES, AND COOTS 



211 



The I'urple ( ialliiiule has been richlv endowed 
with beautiful feathers. With the single excep- 
tion of the male Wood Duck it must be regarded 
as [Hjssessing the most striking cohirs of anv of 
our southern water-bird--. (Jii the rice planta- 
tions along the Ashley Ri\er abo\e Charlestown, 
South Carolina. I found this species very abvm- 
dant and often saw them run across the road 
ahead of our buggy. There was much water 
about and they seemed to pass frequently from 
one pond or ditch to another, their stout, fairly 
long legs sending them forward at a good speed 
when haste was desired. 

^\'ith much vividness do I recall one spring 
morning when, while I was fishing from a boat in 
Levy Lake. Florida, these birds were much in 
evidence. It was during the mating season and 
they were the personification of actixity. There 
was here an abundant growth of water lilies, and 
the birds seemed to take the greatest ])leasure in 
walking over the lily pads, their vellow legs 
twinkling in the sunlight. As tliey walked, their 
tails jerked in a most pert and amusing manner. 
When springing from pad to pad their wings 
would be held high above the head. One of 
them clucking and displaying his superb plumage 
to every possible advantage approached some 
bushes which grew near shore and climbing the 
limbs proceeded with many flutters and loud 
bursts of guttural notes to climl) upward until it 





Phi'l- ; i . :i Jackson Courtesy '-f Nat- .^sso. Aud. Soc. 

NEST AND EGGS OF PURPLE GALLINHLE 

Orange Lake. Florida 

reached the branches of a dense magnolia tree. 
Here from a height of twenty feet its purple 
plumage shone with a most resplendent beauty 
under the full glare of the morning sun. The 
whole performance combined to make a picture 
not easily forgotten. 

When making short flights, and especially 
when chasing each other, the legs hang down as 
if ready for immediate use in case of emergencv. 
They swim well although thev are not web- 
footed. The long slender toes must be very 



Drawing by R. I. Brasher 

PURPLE GALLINULE (i nat. size) 
A southern water bird of superb plumage 



212 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



serviceable in aiding them to run over the in- 
secure pathway paved only with the floating 
leaves of the water lilies or to climb among the 
tangles of grass and water-plants. 

The Purple Gallinule appears in its summer 
home in April or May and after a perfectly 
proper period of courtship nest building is begun. 
This interesting receptacle for the eggs is usually 
built in reeds or rushes a few feet above the 
water. Not long ago I examined six nests in a 
pond in lower Louisiana. Without exception 



these were constructed of grass-stems and rushes, 
each being built in a separate bunch of thick 
rushes. The surrounding stalks were pulled 
down in such a manner as to hide each nest com- 
pletely from view. They were located above the 
water at heights varying from two to five feet. 
In the Mississippi valley the Purple Gallinule 
does not breed much north of Missouri. In the 
East and South (except Florida) it is confined 
largely to the tide-water sections. 

T. Gilbert Pearson. 



FLORIDA GALLINULE 
Gallinula galeata {Lichtoistciii) 



A. O. U. Xumbcr .-mq 

Other Names. — American Gallinule ; Common Gal- 
linule ; Red-billed Mud Hen; Water Hen; Water 
Chicken. 

General Description. — Length, 14 inches. Prevailing 
color, blackish. Forehead covered by naked shield at 
base of bill ; toes slender and without lobes ; bill slender, 
sharp, and nearly as long as head. 

Color. — Adults: Head, neck all around, breast, 
and under parts, dark slate, duskier on head and neck, 
and whitening behind; upper parts, brownish-slate; 
wings and tail, dusky ; sides of under tail-coverts, edge 
of wing, outer web of first primary, and stripes on 
flanks, white; bill, frontal plate, ami a riiu/ around 
upper part of leii, red; tip of bill, yellow; a narrow 
white stripe on face at base of bill; legs, greenish-yel- 
low; iris, red. YorxG : Similar to adults, but duller. 



See Color I'late 27 

with whitish under parts, and brownish bill and fore- 
head. 

Nest and Eggs. — Xest : In the marshes; con- 
structed of dry reeds; often placed on a buoyant plat- 
form of the same material, capable of rising and falling 
with the water ; in some places it is built on dry parts 
of the meadow. Eggs: 6 to 12, bufify-white, rather 
sparsely spotted with brown. 

Distribution. — Tropical and temperate America ; 
breeds from central California, Arizona, Nebraska, 
Minnesota, Ontario, New York, and Vermont south 
through the West Indies and Mexico to Chile and 
.Argentina, and in the Galapagos and Bermuda; winters 
from southern California, Arizona, Texas, and Georgia 
southward ; casual in Colorado, Quebec, Nova Scotia, 
New Brunswick, and ^Nfaine. 




I'hotograph by i^. A. AVu 



A FLORIDA GALLINULE TURNING ITS EGGS 



0) 

Q. 




V 



R.AILS, GALLINULES, AND COOTS 



^13 



So hen-like in many of its movements is the 
Florida Gallinule that one can readily untlerstand 
why its near relatixe in Eurojie should be named 
the Moor Hen. In habits it much resembles both 
the King Rail and the Coots, and its home is in 
the same character of country occupied by both 
of these species. It is a liird nf the ponds and 
marshes of our southern cuuntry. although it 
occasionallv breeds as far north as Minnesota 
and Maine. Like the Rails it often has more or 
less favorite j)ath\vays through the thick marsh 
grass, and like the Coot is sometimes seen swim- 
ming about in shallow weed-grown waters. 
When thus occupied the head bobs back and 
forth with each stroke of the feet. Thev cannot 



lit flcspondency. and the questioning explosive 
chuck of incjuiry. They are very noisy birds and 
their notes arc among the most familiar and con- 
stantly heai'd calls of the rush-grown lakeside. 
\\ hen the inculcation of the eggs begins, the 
volume of sounds decreases perceptively. Rarely 
ha\e I heard one call at night, for this bird is 
not so nocturnal as the Rails and many of the 
1 lerons. 

Like most birds, the Gallinule is very cleanly 
and bathing is one of its frequent diversions. 
In flight it is most ungainly and when flushed 
its passage through the air is attended with 
e\'erv indication of extreme weariness. 

The Gallinule's nest is worth a wade in the 




Drawing by R. I. Brasher 



FLORIDA GALLINULE (J nat. size) 
The source of many of the henhke noises heard in fresh-water marshes 



right!}- lie said to assemble in flocks, although 
as many as a dozen are at times seen feeding 
near together. Often they come on shore for 
food or assemble in small companies to sun and 
rest at some favorite rendezvous. At a distance 
they somewhat resemble the Coot, but a nearer 
view will re\-eal the difTerence. The bright 
scarlet bill and head-shield is a field mark for 
identification r|uite distinct from the white bill 
of the Coot. 

Florida Gallinules ])ossess a wonderful reper- 
toire in the matter of calls. They are all very 
harsh, l)ut they suggest the entire range of pas- 
sions. h"or exam])le, there is the appealing ticket, 
ticket of the lovelorn male, the ]u-tulant ^r^(7. tiika 



p(ind to discover. It is made of flags or rushes, 
and is placed from just above the water to a 
height of a foot or two. It is wedged in among a 
clump of rushes or in a rush-hidden bush. Fre- 
([uently it is a foot and a half in diameter and 
several inches thick. The central cavity is 
slightly sunken and is just large enough to hold 
the six to twelve spotted eggs that are laid. In- 
culcation begins as soon as egg-laying commences, 
with the result that some young appear from a 
week to twelve days before the others. Among 
their enemies may be mentioned the cotton-mouth 
moccasin that swallows their eggs and the frogs 
and alligators that snap up the young when 
swimming. T. Gili'.ert Pe.xrsok. 



214 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



COOT 

Fulica americana GiiirJin 



A. O. I'. XumbtT J21 i-ee Color I'late 27 



Other Names. — American Coot ; Mud Hen ; Water 
Hen; Marsh Hen; Moor-head; Meadow Hen; Water 
Chicken; Pond Hen; Mud Coot; Ivory-billed Coot; 
White-bellied Mud Hen; White-bill; Hen-bill; Crow- 
bill ; Sea Crow ; Pond Crow ; Crow Duck ; Flusterer ; 
Blue Peter; Splatter; Shuffler; Pelick ; Pull-doo. 

General Description. — Length, i6 inchei. Prevail- 
ing color, slate, dark above and light below ; forehead, 
covered by naked shield at base of bill ; bill stout, nearly 
as long as head ; toes lobcd along cdijrs. 

Color. — Adults: Entire plumage, dark slate-gray, 
blackening on head and neck, tinged with olive on 
back ; under tail-coverts, edge of wing, til's of sccoiida- 
rii's, and ends of some primaries, tvhitc; bill, ^c/m'/c with 
small spots of reddish near end and at base of frontal 
shield; frontal shield, brown; feet, pale olive-c/reenish: 
iris, red. Downy Young: Blackish above, whitish be- 



low, with numerous orange-colored hair-like feathers 
on throat and upper parts. Immature: Similar to 
adults, but lighter below, and bill flesh color. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: Constructed of dead reeds, 
grasses, and bits of decayed vegetation; afloat on the 
water or in the reeds nearby. Eggs : 7 to 16, creamy, 
hnely and regularly spotted over entire surface with 
specks of dark brown and black. 

Distribution. — North America ; breeds from central 
British Columbia, southern Mackenzie, Manitoba, Que- 
bec, and New Brunswick south to northern Lower 
California, Te.xas, Tennessee, and New Jersej', and 
also in southern Mexico, southern West Indies, and 
Guatemala ; winters from southern British Columbia, 
Nevada, Utah, the Ohio valley and Virginia south to 
Colombia ; casual at Fort Yukon, Alaska, and in Green- 
land, Labrador, and Bermuda. 



Many people think that the Coot is a Duck 
because it is usually seen swimming. As a matter 
of fact, however, it belongs to the Rail tribe. Its 
feet arc not webbed straight across, but each toe 
has a sort of scallop of lobes, which answer just 
about as well in paddling, .\nother popular mis- 
take is to apply the name Coot to those marine 



Ducks which are properly called Scoters, not 
" Sea Coots." 

The real Coot, while having some limitations, 
is notably versatile with its feet. Not that it is 
exactly a feathered I'avlowa, but with marked 
ability it can run, walk, swim, and " skitter." In 
the " Mud Hen skitter," which might well be 




Phulu by W. L. Finley and H. T. Bohlman 



COOTS 

Their odd ways make one laugh 



RAILS, GALLINULES, AND C(H )TvS 



215 



made a new dance for society, it can beat even 
the celebrated dancer, for it is practiced on a 
peculiar floor, the surface of the water — as the 
flock flutter away, pattering with their feet as 
they go. 

The favorite haunts of the Coots are the 
shallow ponds or bogs, where reeds or rushes 
grow from the water. In such places they make 
their nests, which are platforms of dead stems 
woven together in a sort of wicker-basket fashion, 
piled up from the bottom of the water, and 
f)artlv supported by the stems of the atjuatic 
jdants, being rather deeply hollowed. The eggs 
number from seven or eight to fourteen or six- 
teen, and are distinguishable bv the small 



If there is a more amusing liird anywhere, T 
should like to see it ! 

Though the Coot is rather tame, it is difticult 
to see it on the nest, but it is easy to watch it 
swim away, bobbing its head after the a])proved 
fashion of the skittering fraternity. Numbers 
breed, scattered about, in the same slough. On 
migration thev are seen mosth' in small parties, 
or often singl}-. They breed from the northern 
.'states north, and in winter are abundant in 
swampv parts of the southern States where they 
gather in large flocks. 

In Louisiana I found them in great numbers in 
winter on the fresh-water marshes. When I 
"baited a blind," to photograph wild Ducks, it 




Phototjraph by H. K. Job 



Courtesy ot National Association ut Audubon Societies 
COOTS AND TEALS 
The Ducks used the Coots as buffers for danger 



" pepper-spot " markings evenly sprinkled over 
them. One egg is laid each day and incubation 
begins with the first egg. Consequently they 
hatch one by one, each youngster promptly leav- 
ing the nest to swim off, probably to be tended by 
the other parent. 

The young are singular creatures, covered with 
a sort of black down with orange-colored hairs 
projecting from the neck and head, the latter 
being bald on top, and the bill and adjacent parts 
bright red. I have hatched some in incubators 
and reared them to maturity. At first small and 
feeble, they become active and bold, rushing at 
me and shrieking for food with raucous screams. 



was always the Coots which ventured up first to 
try the food. The Ducks used them as butfers 
for danger, and swam up after the Coots proved 
to them that it was safe. They often came up on 
the steps of the camp to get food, and were 
known to walk into the house, perhaps thinking 
they heard the dinner-bell. 

They are easily kept in captivity, but in the 
breeding season are said at times to make a 
rather too free use of their shar[) bills. How- 
ever, their odd ways make one laugh, and 1 
recommend the funny Coot as an antidote for 
" the blues." 

Hekbeut K. Iob. 



ORDER OF SHORE BIRDS 




Order Limicolw 

HORE birds include seven closely related families — so closely related that 
no suborder has been established within this order. The various species 
frequent open areas, usually along watercourses, ocean beaches, or marshes. 
They average small in size, the largest North American species being the 
Long-billed Curlew, and the smallest being the Least and Semipalmated Sand- 
pipers, or Peeps, so abundant in the spring, summer, and fall everywhere in 
the maritime districts. In color they are generally brown or blackish above, 
mottled and streaked with buf? or whitish. The wings are long and pointed, 
the primaries graduating rapidly from outer to inner, the secondaries reversing 
this order — this giving a V-shape to the open wing. Many species are capable of sustained 
flight, and perform almost incredible journeys during migration. The tail is short. The 
legs are long and thin with long, slender, usually unwebbed, toes. 

The food of the Shore Birds is the mollusks, crustaceans, and insects, found in the mud 
or along the moist strand of their habitat. They nest on the ground, usually laying four 
eggs, which are so well spotted or blotched with dark colors that they are quite inconspicuous 
among the grass or pebbles. When hatched the young are covered with down of a gray or 
brown color marked with blackish. At the approach of an " enemy " these downy chicks 
lie fiat on the ground in an endeavor to escape detection. 

Shore Birds have mellow, piping or whistling, voices, which can be heard for some dis- 
tance. They are greatly prized as game birds and have been hunted to such an extent that 
it is not uncommon to hear them spoken of as " our vanishing shore birds." 



PHALAROPES 

Order Limicolcc ; family Phalaropodidw 

ITTLE swimming Sandpipers " the Phalaropes were aptly called by Dr. Coues. 
They are essentially birds of the northern hemisphere, and all of the three 
species occur in North America, though only one, Wilson's Phalarope, is 
actually a permanent resident of this continent. A peculiar and interesting 
characteristic of the family is that the usual differences between the sexes 
of most species are reversed in the case of the Phalaropes ; which is to say, 
the females are not only the larger and have the more striking plumage, 
but they are the aggressors in the courtship performances and the males 
do the nest-building and incubate the eggs. 

All of the Phalaropes are comparatively small birds — from seven to nine 
inches long — and have noticeably thick, duck-like plumage to protect their 
bodies from the freezing waters in which they are often found, and a bill in which the lateral 
groove is prolonged nearly to the hardened and pointed tip, while the bill itself is as long as or 
longer than the head. The toes are equipped with marginal webs. The legs are normally 
long and slender. The wings are long, flat, and pointed, with the outer primaries longest 
and the inner secondaries elongated, giving the wing in flight a V-shaped appearance. The 
tail is short, stifT, broad, and rounded. 

Dr. Coues's popular name for the Phalaropes is in recognition of their pelagic, or at least 
aquatic, habjts, which often take them many miles out to sea, even in the dead of winter. 
The nests are mere depressions in the ground and sometimes are thinly lined with grass. 
Three or four eggs are laid but only about two young are successfully hatched and raised. 

[216] 




PHALAROPES 



217 



The baby Phalaropes are covered with down at birth and withni a short time after leaving 
the sheU are able to run about. 

The Northern and Wilson Phalaropes are known to be of great economic value, because 
they destroy immense numbers of more or less harmful insects. The investigations of W. L. 
McAtee, a Government biologist, showed that 53 per cent, of the food of twenty-eight Northern 
Phalaropes consisted of mosquito larvas, the insects eaten including the famous mosquito 
of the marshland of New Jersey. Wilson's Phalarope is known to feed upon bill-bugs, 
which often do considerable damage to corn. Undoubtedly far more has been done by the 
Phalaropes and other shore birds toward the extermination of mosquitoes in New Jersey 
than has been accomplished by the State's expenditure of large sums of money. Mr. McAtee's 
investigations showed that the Phalaropes also feed freely upon the crane flies (" leather- 
jackets "), grasshoppers, the clover-root curculio, the wireworms and their adult forms, 
the click beetles, the diving beetles which are a nuisance in fish hatcheries, and various 
species of marine worms which prey upon oysters. 



RED PHALAROPE 
Phalaropus fulicarius (Lhuucits) 



A. O- V. Xuniber jjj 

Other Names. — Whale-bird ; Red Coot-footed Tringa ; 
Gray Phalarupe ; Flat-hilled Phalarope; Sea Suipe ; 
Hank-bird; Brown Bank-bird; Gulf-bird; Sea Goose. 

General Description. — Length, 8 inches. In sum- 
mer, upper parts mottled and striped with black and 
I>ale brown, under parts entirely red ; in winter, gray 
above and wliite below ; but always distinguishable 
from other Phalaropes by the short, stout, tapering bill 
(dagger-shaped). The front toes have lobed or scal- 
loped webs. 

Color. — .Aiifi.T M.\LE IN Sum.mer: Forclicad. lores, 
chin, loi^'iT side of head, throat, and entire under parts, 
dull cinnanwii-bro'wn ; crown, nape, back of neck, and 
upper parts, yellowish-brown ; crown streaked with 
brownish-black; rest of feathers above, with broad dark 
centers ; wing-coverts dusky, the greater coverts show- 
ing white for most of their exposed portions; prima- 
ries brownish-black ; a white ring around eye and a 
whitish area above and behind eye; basal half of bill, 
yellow, end dusky ; feet, yellowish ; iris, brown. Adult 
Fem.vle in Summer: Forehead, crown, chin, nape (nar- 
rowly), back of neck, wings, and middle tail-feathers, 
sooty-brown ; lores, cheeks, sides of head, over eye and 
larger part of greater wing-coverts, white; throat, neck 
{broadly) , breast, and entire under parts, rich zeine-red : 
back, shoulders, and long inner coverts ochery-white, 
each feather with a broad center streak of brownish- 



-^(.e Color I'late 28 

black ; primaries and wing-coverts, dusky, the latter 
edged with dull white; bill, yellowish, tipped with black; 
feet, yellowish-brown ; iris, deep brown. Adults in 
Wi.nter: Forehead, most of crown, sides of head. 
throat, breast, and rest of under parts, pure ivliite; back 
of head, a spot in front of, another below, and one 
behind eye. a narrow streak down back of neck, upper 
back and primaries, plain dusky-gray ; lesser and middle 
wing-coverts, grayish-ash edged with white, center 
diverts showing white space as in summer; rest of 
upper parts, nearly uniform pate i/rayish-ash. some of 
the feathers with darker centers; bill, mostly dusky; 
feet, dull yellow ; iris, brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : A hollow in ground ; sume- 
times thinly lined with moss and dry grass. Eggs: 3 to 4. 
dull greenish or yellowish-gray, spotted with various 
shades of brown. 

Distribution. — Northern and southern hemispheres; 
in North .\merica breeds from northern .-Maska. Mel- 
ville Island, and northern Ellesmere Land south to 
mouth of the Yukon, northern Mackenzie, central Kee- 
watin, Hudson Strait, and southern Greenland ; winter 
home unknown but probably on the oceans, at least as 
far south as Falkland and Juan Fernandez islands ; 
migrates along both coasts of United States ; casual in 
migration in interior south to Colorado. Kansas. Illinois, 
and Maryland. 



It is unfortim.itc th;it the Red rii.il.irnpc 
breeds far in the north, for the chance of studying 
its habits would lie unusually interestint;. .\fter 
(lepositine: the esjijs the female loses her interest 
in home-ties and the smaller, more protectively- 
colored male meekly performs the household 
duties of incubation and assumes all the care of 
startinsj the young^sters toward maturity, while 
his mate looks on or gads about the country 
seckintr new feedinsj "rounds. 



When mij:^ratinj:; this is a bird of the open 
waters, usually the sea, where it feeds and rests 
in flocks, swimming as gracefully and safely as a 
duck, and found along the shore onl\' when 
driven in by storms." (Barrows.) 

Their food is worms, soft, small mai'ine ani- 
inalcula, insects, and Crustacea, which live in their 
marsbv habitat. In the North it feeds on the 
;mim;d-lifc which forms the food of the right 
whale — hence its name of Wiiale-hird. 



2l8 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



NORTHERN PHALAROPE 
Lobipes lobatus (Liniuctis) 

A. O. U. Number 22J See Color Plate 29 



Other Names. — Sea Goose ; Mackerel Goose ; Web- 
footed Peep; Bank-bird; White Bank-bird; Sea Snipe; 
Whale-bird ; Hyperborean Phalarope ; Red-necked 
Phalarope. 

General Description. — Length, 7 inches. Color 
above, ashy-gray; hill very slender, cylindrical, and 
sharp (needle-like) ; front toes with lobed or scalloped 
webs. 

Color. — .Adult M.m.e in Summer: Forehead, throat, 
breast, and lou'cr f'lirts. pure white: crown, sides of 
head, back of neck, upper back, ashy-gray; forehead 
and front part of crown, mottled with ashy ; lores, 
dusky; n broad area of rufous extending from nape 
doii'nzi'ard across upper breast, interrupted on upper 
breast ti'ith dusky streaks; sides of breast much mottled 
with ashy-gray and white; flanks and sides marked with 
arrowhead-shaped dusky s[iots ; shoulders, rufous- 
brown, each feather with blackish center and white 
tipped ; wing-coverts and primaries, dusky, the greater 
coverts with rear portion white ; a white semi-circle 
above and another below eye; bill, black; iris, brown; 
feet, dusky gray. Adult Female in Summer: Head 



from chin, back of neck, shoulders, and back, plain 
grayish-ash; throat and lower side of head, white, bor- 
dered behind and below with a large patch of rich 
tawny, this color including upper breast; under parts, 
white, broken on side of breast, sides, and flanks, with 
ashy-gray; a broad J '-shaped stripe of yelloivish-brozi'n 
on- back; tivo narrozv ones of same color on shoulders : 
wing-coverts and primaries, dusky, the greater coverts 
broadly white on ends, forming a conspicuous bar, a 
white semi-circle above and another below eye ; bill, 
black ; legs and feet, bluish-gray ; soles of feet, greenish- 
yellow ; iris, deep brown. Adults in Winter : Fore- 
head, broad line oi<er eye running along side of head and 
meeting zchite of chin, breast, and lozver parts, pure 
ZK'hite: a broad streak behind eye. crown, back of neck, 
and upper parts, plain light ash, varied with white edges 
of feathers, these lighter edges forming a V-shaped 
mark on back and more extensive on shoulders, becom- 
ing narrower on longer wing-coverts behind; sides of 
breast, mottled with ash; sides and flanks, with a faint 
tinge of gray, thinly spotted with darker; wing as in 
summer; a wash of pale rufous on sides of neck; a 




^^-:^Jr ..Wl 



.^ 




Drawing by R. I. Brasher 

NORTHERN PHALAROPE (female, I nat. size) 
She leaves all the family duties to the less handsome, more modest male 



Q_ 




At 

4 



~ 5 



PHALAROPES 



219 



dusky spot in front of eye; eye-ring, white interrupted 
before and behind; bill, bluish-black; feet, livid; iris, 
deep brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Xkst: A hollow in ground lined 
with grass or leaves. Eggs ; 4, greenish or buffy, 
thickly blotched with various shades of brown. 

Distribution. — Northern and southern hemispheres ; 
in North America breeds from northern Alaska. Mel- 



vdle Island, and central Greenland south to .'\lentian 
Islands (including Near Islands), valley of the upper 
Yukon, northern Mackenzie, central Keewatin, southern 
James Bay, and northern Ungava : winter home un- 
known, but probably the oceans south of the equator; 
in migration occurs nearly throughout the United 
States and in Mexico, Central America, Bermuda, and 
Hawaii. 



Like the Red I'halarope, the Xiirthern I'hal- 
arope breeds in the extreme north. It has a 
curious habit of whirhni^- around se\eral times in 
succession on the surface of the water, creatinq; 
miniature whirlpools, e\i(.lentl\' with the intention 
of stirring tip tlte tiny niarnie life on which it 
feeds. I have seen many flocks on the ocean, 



well otl the shore of the New England coast, dur- 
ing .\ugust and September, ilcxiting like thistle- 
ilown but not .going through the gyrations they 
jierfiirm on the shallow inland ponds, which 
would indicate that in the latter they And food 
absent in the former. 

R. I. Br.\siier. 




Photo by W. L. Finlcj- and H. T. Bohlman 



NORTHERN PHALAROPE 
Female in summer plumage 



220 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



WILSON'S PHALAROPE 
Steganopus tricolor / 'Icillot 

A. O, U. Xumber 224 See Color I'late 30 



Other Name. — Summer Phalarope. 

General Descriprion. — Lengtli, 9 inches. Color 
above, graj' ; bill longer than head and very slender; 
front toes with marginal webs, but the membrane not 
scalloped. 

Color. — Adult Male in Summer: Forehead, crown, 
and upper parts in general, including wings and 
tail, dull grayish, streaked on back, shoulders, and wing- 
coverts with darker gray ; lores and a broad stripe over 
and behind eye, whitish ; throat and a patch on nape, 
white; rest of under parts, dull white, washed on side 
with pale yellowish ; a rusty area on side of neck, bor- 
dered above with dusky; dusky spot in front of eye and 
an indistinct one of the same color, behind; bill, dusky; 
feet, dull horn ; iris, brown. Adult Female in Summer: 
Crown, pale ash changing to white on a narrow stripe 
on back of neck, this color changing again on back to 
ash, continuing down and becoming white on rump and 
upper tail-coverts ; a hrnad black area cniniitcnciiu; 
behind eye, riinnmg halfway dozfn neck ivhere it'idcn- 
iiig and chan(/inr/ into rich pnrplish-chcstnut, extending 
along back in a narrower streak: shoulders, the same 
color, bordered on each side with grayish ; wings, pale 
grayish-brown ; primaries, dusky ; tail, mottled with 
gray and white; chin and throat, pure white; rest of 
under parts, tvhite: sides of neck, breast, and flanks 



washed with ])ale rufous; a large white spot over eye, 
bordered in front with black streak ; a smaller spot of 
white below eye; bill, dusky; feet, horn blackish; iris, 
brown; no zvhitc patcli on zving. Adults in Winter: 
Crown, back of neck, and ujjper parts, ashy-gray, each 
feather usually edged with whiter; wing-coverts and 
secondaries, dusky-gray edged with pale yellowish- 
white; primaries, plain dusky; upper tail-coverts, line 
over eye, and under parts, white, shaded on sides of 
breast with grayish; a dusky spot in front of eye; an 
indistinct streak behind eye of light dusky; bill, dusky; 
legs, yellow; iris, brown. Young: Brownish-black 
above, this soon succeeded by coloring of winter adult. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : A slight depression in the 
ground ; lined with grass. Eggs : 3 or 4. creamy, buff, 
or drab, spotted, specked, and scratched with brown of 
different shades. 

Distribution. — \orth and South America; breeds 
from central Washington, central Alberta, and Lake 
Winnipeg south to eastern California, southern Colo- 
rado, southern Kansas, northern Iowa, and north- 
western Indiana ; winters from central Chile and cen- 
tral Argentina south to Falkland Islands ; casual in 
migration on Pacific coast from southern British Co- 
lumbia to Lower California and on Atlantic coast from 
Maine to New Jersey. 




y ■: . , w. L. 1-iiiicy .,i..i 11 I , i;-i,: ;, 

MALE WILSON'S PHALAROPE RETURNING TO HIS TASK OF INCUBATING 




AVOCETS AND STILTS 



221 



Though i ha\e met the other two kiiuls of 
l'hahirn[)es nut on the open Atlantic well otf- 
.shore. to Inid Wilson's Phalarope one has to 
journey to the northwest interior. There I ha\e 
found these beautiful, s^entle birds breeding^ 
beside the marshy sloughs of North Dakota, 
Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. The best-known, 
most widely advertised peculiarity of Phalaropes 
is their family relationshijj. The female is the 
larger and brighter-colored, and is said to do the 
courting; the demure little male — mere man — 
incubates the eggs and cares for the young, while 
the wives flock together in the sloughs as though 
they had organized women's clubs or other social 
coteries. Thus I have watched parties of these 
giddy little ladies sporting about, and then, tramp- 
ing through the meadow grass on the prairie a 
few rods back from some other slough, have 
flushed the male from the nest so well hidden in 
the grass. The four eggs are decidedly pointed 
and are very boldly and thickly streaked with 
black. 

To the credit of the female it must be said that 
she is not entirely without the heart of the 
mother. The cries of her husband, in times of 
seeming danger, soon bring her to the rescue, and 
she runs or flies about with him, scolding, though 
he usually leads in the performance of the vari- 
ous protestations. 

On one occasion, during the spring migration, 
in early June, I met a considerable flock of 
Northern Phalaropes on a shallow alkaline 
slough in northern Manit<;)ba, but at the most I 
have only seen Wilson's Phalarope in small ])ar- 



ties. Like all the tribe these are graceful in 
e\ erv motion, notably ui swimming, bobbing 
their heads and necks prettily forward as they 
progress. 

Despite the above reversals of social usage, 
the female is far from being a virago. The birds 




Phuto by H 1 Cuurtesy of OutiniJ Pub. Co. 

WILSON'S PHALAROPE 

The male of this species attends to the work of raising the family 

are gentle in manner and inconspicuous, and the 
average person passing through their haunts prob- 
alily would not notice them. Though small, the\' 
are, like other shore birds, swift and strong in 
flight, and in winter they journey as far south as 
Chile and -\rgentina. 

Herbert K. Job. 



AVOCETS AND STILTS 

Order Liniicolcc ; family Rcciiroirostiida; 

HE Avocets and Stilts include eleven or twelve species which occur, usually 
in flocks, throughout the warmer regions of the world. As a family they are 
comparatively large birds, and have exceedingly long legs, long necks, and 
long, slender bills, curved more or less upward, in which the nostrils are set 
within the quarter nearest the base. 

Of the Avocets, there are four species, one occurring in North America, 
another in South Ainerica, a third in Europe, and a fourth in Australia. Each 
of these has a rudimentary hind toe, and the front toes webbed, in which latter 
respect they differ from most wading birds. Their wings are rather short 
and their tails are short and sc]uare. Their plumage is thick and duck-like. 
They feed on aquatic insects, shellfish, and the like, which they capture chiefly 
in shallow water by sweeping the bill from side to side with a movement which suggests 
the swinging of a scythe. The Avocets swim easily, when they need to, and usually are 
comparatively tame. They are from fifteen to eighteen inches long and in coloration are 
generally black and white, with the legs of a bluish tinge. They build rude nests on the 




222 BIRDS OF AMERICA 

ground in swampy places; the eggs are three or four in number, of ohve or buff color profusely- 
marked with dark brown spots. 

Of the true Stilts there are seven or eight species, only one of which occurs in America. 
The family differs from the Avocets in having no web between the middle and inner toes; 
in being considerably smaller, with an average length of about thirteen inches ; and in having 
the wings long and pointed. The common American species occurs in both continents and 
is found most often in small flocks on muddy flats, where the bird walks with long, deliberate 
strides, probing the mud with its long bill or catching fish in the shallow waters. Physically 
and in their habits, there is considerable general similarity between the Stilts and the Avocets. 

The 3'oung of both Avocets and Stilts are covered with down at birth and shortly after 
leaving the shell are able to run about. This natal down is soon replaced by the first or 
Juvenal plumage. 



AVOCET 

Recurvirostra americana Gmelin 



A. O, U. Xuniber 22s 



Blue Stocking; 



18 inches. 
, flattened 



Color, 
md up- 



U'liilc. changing 



Other Names. — .American Avocet ; 
Blue Shanks; Irish .Snipe. 

General Description. — Length, 
white with some black areas; bill 
turned; three front toes webbed. 

Color. — .Adults in Summer: 
imperceptibly to clicstnul-brown of head and ncci;: 
shoulders and wings, black; some secondaries and 
coverts, white ; tail, pearl-gray ; bill, black ; legs, dull 
blue; iris, red or brown. Adults in Winter: Head 
and neck, pearl-gray ; otherwise like summer plumage. 
Young : Head and neck, washed with chestnut, the 
black feathers edged with same color ; bill, nearly 
straight. 



Nest and Eggs. — Nest: In the marshes, hidden in 
the grass and constructed of grass and weed stems. 
Eggs: 3 or 4. pale olive or huffy, uniformly and 
thickly spotted with burnt umber and other shades of 
brown. 

Distribution. — North America ; breeds from eastern 
Oregon, central Alberta, and southern Manitoba ( rarely 
north to Great Slave Lake) south to southern Cali- 
fornia, southern New Mexico, northwestern Texas, 
northern Iowa, and central Wisconsin ; winters from 
southern California and southern Te.xas to southern 
Guatemala ; casual from Ontario and New Brunswick 
to Florida and the West Indies, but rare east of Mis- 
sissippi River. 




Courtesy of American Museum of Natural History 



AVOCET 
The most showy of North American shore biids 



AVOCETS AND STILTS 



The A\-occt stands out among' North American 
shore birds as the most showy of them all. Its 
white body and black and white-striped wings 
re\cal its presence at a great distance. It is a 
large bird, being about a foot and a half long. 
This, added to the fact that it makes a most 
acceptable dish when served on the table, is 
responsible for the extended persecution to w hich 
it has been subjected by gunners. One of the 
names by which shooters know it is " Blue 
Shanks,'" the color of its long, bare legs being 
responsible for this. \\'hile searching for wild 
Ducks' nests on the marshes of the Klamath 
Ri\er in Oregon I first came upon these remark- 
able birds. E\idently a small .gr('U|i was nesting 
in the neighborhood, for upon our appearance 
three birds came into view and at once ^et up a 
great outcry. Our first view of them was when 
they came flying toward us giving vent to their 
alarm and resentment at our approach. They 
flew oxerhead and circled about much as is the 
custom of W'illets under like circumstances. 
Their screaming soon brought others, who may 
have been their mates called from the nests by 
the general alarm. At times they alighted on the 
ground at a safe distance, or settled in the water 
of the slough. Here the maneuvers of head- 
bobbing and wing-waving were most amusing. 
Sometimes the body would be all but submerged 
and with head laid out along the water the bird 
would swim away just as a wounded wild Goose 
will often try to escape the fowler. 

The Avocet's nest is a depression in the 
ground in the vicinity of water and is lined with 
grass. The young upon emerging from the 
spotted eggs are able to run almost at once. 

Audubon has this to say in reference to their 
feeding habits : 

■' Thev search for food precisely in the manner 
of the Roseate Spoonbill, moving their heads to 
and fro sideways, while their bill is jiassing 
through the soft mud ; and in many instances, 
when the water was deeper, they would immerse 



their whole head and a portion of the back, as 
the Spoonbill and Red-breasted Snipe are wont 
to do. When, on the contrary, they pursued 
ac|uatic insects, such as swim on the surface, they 
ran after them, and, on getting up to them, sud- 
denly seized them by thrusting the lower man- 
dible beneath them, while the other was raised a 
good way abo\ e the surface, much in the manner 
of the Black .Shearwater [Pdack Skimmer], 
which, however, perforins this act on wing. 
Thev were also exjiert at catching flying insects, 
after which thev ran with partially expanded 
wings." 

In the United Stales the Avocet is to-day con- 
fined almost entirch- to the territory lying west 




Photu Uy H. T. Buhlman Cuurttsy of i^.ii .\.-,:„i. .\ud. Soc. 

MEST AND EGGS OF AVOCET 

(it the Mississippi I'iiver. The Federal Migra- 
tory Bird Law extends protecticjn to it at all 
times, and it is to be hoped this splendid game 
bird may be spared the melancholy fate of the 
Eskimo Curlew and the W'hoopcr Swan. 

Like several other shore birds, the Avocet 
makes itself very useful by destroying diving 
beetles, which are predatory in their habits and 
do much damage to fish hatcheries by feeding 
u])on insects which are the natural diet of fishes. 
It also feeds freely upon grasshoppers and upon 
bill-bugs, which injure the corn crojis. Snails 
and marine worms also part of its diet. 

T. Gilbert Pearson. 



BLACK-NECKED STILT 
Himantopus mexicanus {Mi'iUcr) 

A. O U. .Vumlicr 22U 



Other Names. — .'^tilt : Longshanks ; Lawyer. 

General Description. — Leii.Ertli. i,i inchi's. Color 
above. I)lack. sharply contrasting witli the white of 
under parts ; legs very long. 

Color. — .Anui.TS : Bad.:, shouldi-rs. and udngs, glossy 
Vi.L. I — 16 



black, continuing up hack of neck, on crown, en- 
larging on side of head, and including the eyes; a spot 
over and behind eye. one beneath eye, forehead, fore- 
part of crown, lores, chin, sides of head below eye. 
sides of neck, entire under parts, rump, and upper tail- 



224 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



coverts, wliite; tail, ash; bill, black; iris, retl ; legs. 
flesh color. White of rump covered by the wings in 
life. In the female the black is often dingy. Young: 
Upper parts, brown, marked with whitish. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: \ depression in the sand 
or a frail structure of grass and small stems hidden in 
a bunch of weeds. Eggs: 3 or 4, bufTy or olive-brown, 
thickly spotted and blotched with dark brown. 

Distribution. — Temperate North America and north- 
ern South America ; breeds from central Oregon, 



northern Utah, and southern Colorado to southern Cali- 
fornia, southern New Mexico, southern Texas, coast of 
Louisiana, and in Mexico, and from central Florida and 
Bahamas throughout the West Indies to northern 
Brazil and Peru; formerly bred north to New Jersey; 
winters from southern Lower California, southern 
Texas, southern Louisiana, and southern Florida south 
through Central America and the West Indies to north- 
ern Brazil, Peru, and the Galapagos; casual in migra- 
tion to Nebraska, Wisconsin, and New Brunswick. 



The Black-necked Stilt has been brought to 
verge of extermination along the Atlantic coast 
by the spring and summer shooting. It is not 
uncommon in the \\'est and S(nith, being par- 




BLACK-NECKED STILT 
The bird walks with long deliberate strides 



ticularly abundant about the alkaline lakes and 
pools of the Great Basin, where it is often seen 
in the company of the Avocet. 

On the ground, whether walking or wading, 
the bird [the Black-necked Stilt] moves grace- 
fully, with measured steps ; the long legs are 
much bent at every step (only at the joint, how- 
ever) and planted firmly, perfectly straight ; 
except under certain circumstances, there is 
nothing vacillating, feeble, or unsteady, in either 
the attitudes or the movements of the birds. 
When feeding, the legs are bent backward with 
an acute angle at the heel joint to bring the body 
lower ; the latter is tilted forward and downward 
over the center of equilibrium, where the feet 
rest, and the long neck and bill reach the rest 
of the distance to the ground." (Coues.) 

When the birds light they raise their wings 
straight up above the body for a moment, then 
close them slowly over the back. Many water 
birds have this same habit ; and it is undoubtedly 
a recognition mark to keep in touch with the rest 
of the flock as the pose is a very conspicuous 
one, enabling the bird to be seen from a long 
distance. 

The Black-necked Stilt's diet is known to 
include in considerable cjuantities several species 
of the predacious diving beetles which, because 
they prey upon insects that are the natural food 
of fishes, are counted a nuisance in all fish hatch- 
eries. In this respect its economic value is a 
matter of fact, not of theory. Grasshoppers are 
destroyed in large numbers by this bird, and also 
bill-bugs which feed upon corn. 

R. I. Br.^siier. 



SNIPES, SANDPIPERS, ETC. 



SNIPES, SANDPIPERS, ETC. 

Order LiniicoUc ; family Scolopacidcc 




HE Snipes, Sandpipers, and the closely allied species which form the family 
Siolopacidcr of the order of Shore Birds, or Wading Birds, are represented in 
all the habitable parts of the world, but during the breeding season they are 
found with few exceptions only in the northern parts of the northern hemi- 
sphere. There are about one hundred species in the family, about half of which 
number occur regularly or occasionally in America. 

The members of this family vary greatly in size, shape, and color, but in 
general they are of small or medium size and never reach the average size of 
Herons. Usually the bill is long and soft-skinned, generally straight, round- 
ish, and slim, but sometimes curved either upward or downward and in one 
species, the Spoon-bill Sandpiper of eastern Asia, the end is spoon-shaped. 
The head is feathered to the bill. The legs are of moderate length. The wings are normally 
long, flat, and pointed. The tail is rather short, stiff, broad, and rounded. 

As indicated by the name of the group in which this family has been placed, its members 
are seldom found far from the shores of bodies of water or from moist lands. They migrate 
and pass the winter in flocks, but during the breeding season are not gregarious. Like 
other shore birds, they all, with the exception of the European Green Sandpiper and the 
American Solitary Sandpiper, nest on the ground. The eggs usually number four, but seldom 
does a pair succeed in bringing more than two young birds to maturity during a season. 
The babies are clothed with down when hatched, and are precocial, that is, they are not 
cared for in the nest by their parents, but are able to run about within a very short time 
after leaving the shell. 

Many of the species in this group are greatly prized as game birds, and to this fact is 
due to a large extent the decrease in their numbers. The development of land for agri- 
cultural purposes has restricted their breeding grounds, and this is an indirect, but neverthe- 
less another, cause for their lessening numbers. Not only because of their food value are 
the birds entitled to protection, but also because of their usefulness. They search out and 
destroy many creatures that are detrimental to man's interests. Among the pests which 
they eat are grasshoppers, army worms, cutworms, cabbage worms, cotton worms, boll 
weevils, rice weevils, Texas fever ticks, horseflies, and mosquitoes. 



WOODCOCK 

Philohela minor iCiiiirlin) 



.\. O. r. XumlKi j_S 

Other Names. — American Woodcock ; Woodhen ; 
Big-headed Snipe; Big Mud Snipe; Blind Snipe: 
Whistling Snipe ; Wood Snipe ; Night Partridge ; Night 
Peck ; Timber Doodle ; Hooknm Pake ; Labrador 
Twister; Bogsucker ; Bog-bird; Pewee ; Whistler; Big- 
eyes. 

General Description. — Length, ii inches; color 
above, brown; below, pale orange-brown; head, large; 
neck, short; eyes, large and set far back and high; bill, 
7'ery hug and compressed, the lower section shorter 
than the upper into which it fits at the tip. and the 
upper section capable of being flexed like a finger; 
wings, short and rounded ; three outer primaries. 



Set- ( I, lor ri;it<- n 

seylhe-shaped : legs, short and stout with thighs 
feathered: toes, without webs. 

Color. — .\bovc, finely blended and varied with black, 
warm browns, gray, and russet, the brown predomi- 
nating, the gray tending to form streaks above and 
below shoulders ; forehead, grayish ; three square 
patehes of black extending from top of eroivii to nape 
and separated by narrow gray bars: a black stripe frotii 
gape to eye; chin, whitish; rest of under parts, pale 
orange-brown with a few black spots on sides of chest; 
primaries, plain brownish ; bill, brownish flesh color, 
dusky on ridge and tip ; feet, flesh color ; eye-ring, 
white; iris, dark brown. 



226 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



Nest and Eggs. — Nest : On ground, on brushy 
bottoms or in open woods, usually not tar from water ; 
a depression in the leaves without Hning. Eggs: 3 or 
4, bufify to grayish-white, irregularly and thickly spotted 
with pale reddish-brown. 

Distribution. — Eastern North America ; breeds from 
northeastern North Dakota, southern Manitoba, north- 



ern Michigan, southern Quebec, and Nova Scotia south 
to southern Kansas, southern Louisiana, and northern 
Florida; winters from southern Missouri, the Ohio 
Valley, and New Jersey (rarely Massachusetts) south 
to Texas and southern Florida ; ranges casually to 
Saskatchewan, Keewatin, Colorado, Newfoundland, and 
Bermuda. 



During the day the W'uudcock sits quietly in a 
shadowy retreat, usually in the swamps, but often 
in open upland woods. It may also be flushed 
in " slashings," where will be found the " f(jrm " 
of old leaves where it had nestled. The swampy 
coverts which " Mr. Big-eyes " prefers are clean, 
sweet localities, where alders and willows like to 
grow. The bird is by no means confined to such 
resorts for it may be found nesting well up in 
the hills, though even there a favorite resort is 
generally not far away, to which it travels in the 
evening and forages for its nocturnal sup]3er. 
Often in the evening I have seen it against the 
fading west, bound for its own particular restau- 
rant. Even after night had fallen its familiar 
scape could be heard. 

Some of our birds are enveiled in mystery and 



the Woodcock is not the least strange of this 
coterie. It often lives where its presence is un- 
suspected. One of the best Woodcock covers I 
have knovifn was within the limits of the city of 
Brooklyn. Fortunately this knowledge was not 
shared by others, so the birds were little hunted. 
Into this retreat the birds would come silently 
some April night, and from it they would dis- 
appear some October day as mysteriously. 

The flight is swift though short, sometimes 
accompanied with a clattering sound, at others 
as silent as an owl's. I have frequently seen 
them collide with limbs when flushed. This may 
be due to the fact that the birds' eyes are placed 
far back in the head, or it may be because they 
are watching the intruder and cannot look for- 
ward and behind at the same time. 








Drawing by R. 1. Brashe 



WOODCOCK C, nat. size) 
A game bird that is not disturbed by the advent of agriculture 



SNIPES, SANDPIPERS, ETC. 



The mother Woodcock has a curious and inter- 
esting habit of flying- ofif, when disturbed, witli a 
voung chick grasped between her feet or between 
her thighs. If she has an o]5portunity, she will 
convey all her babies, one at a time, to a place ol 
security. 

At courting time, and all through the |)oriod of 
incubation, the male indulges in a curinus aerial 
dance. Soon after sunset he whirK up in spirals. 
chirping and twittering, to a height of tifty or 
sixty feet, then circles horizontally and descends, 
giving voice to his ecstasy in a continuous "cheep- 
ing" until he reaches the ground where he struts 
like a tiny turkey-gobbler, with droo])ing wings 
and upright s]iread tail, changing his notes to a 
series of rather hard f^aiks. On moonlight nights, 
I have listened to this serenade until after i; 
o'clock. 

A dish of angleworms can hardly be con- 
sidered appetizing; but, transmuted in the Wood- 
cock's interior machinery ( he is really one 
hundred per cent, angleworm), there seems to 
be no difference of opinion among epicures when 
the bird is brought to the table on toast. 



The \\'oodcock's diet includes also in con- 
sideralile quantities such harmful insects as the 
crane fly (" leather-Jacket '), and various species 




Jf lloto by H. K. Jub CuurtLsy uf Outiiig Pub. Co. 

WOODCOCK ON NEST 

Its nest is a depression among fallen leaves 

of more or less destructive grasshoppers. To 
this extent its feeding habits are of distinct 
benefit to man. R. I. Brasher. 



WILSONS SNIPE 
Gallinago delicata (Ord) 

A. O V. Xumher 230 See (.nlor Tlate 



Other Names. — Coinmon Snipe; English Snipe; 
American Snipe; Meadow Snipe; Marsh Snipe; Bog 
Snipe; Gutter Snipe; Jack Snipe; Shadbird ; Alewife- 
bird ; Shad Spirit. 

General Description. — Lcngtli, \2 inches. Color 
above, mainly brownish-black; bill long and slender, 
upper section overlapping under. Seldom found away 
I'riim fresh-water marshes. 

Color. — Ground color of head, neck, throat, and 
hrcast, pale broivnisb-v.'hitc : sides of head, neck, and 
breast, spotted ivith pale and dark brown: two dusky 
stripes from bill over crown to back of head ; another 
from gape to eye and extending a little behind and a 
small patch on cheeks; back and shoulders, brownish- 
black mi.\ed with chestnut and brown ; shoulder-feathers, 
broadly edged with brownish-white, formin.g two longi- 
tudinal stripes on each side ; wing-coverts, brownish, 
feathers edged with whitish, secondaries with brown 
spots coalescing along shaft ; primaries and their cov- 
erts, dusky-brown, the outer one white-edged ; upper 
tail-coverts, brown with narrow black bars; tail- 
feathers, black at base, then briijht rnjons leith a 



narro-ic siibternitnal black bar and white-tipped ; abdo- 
men, white: sides of body, shaded ivith brown, barred 
witli numerous traverse streaks of dusky; under tail- 
coverts, rufous with dusky bars; hill, brownish flesh- 
color, dusky on ridge and tip ; feet, greenish-gray ; iris, 
brown surrounded by white rin.i.; interrupted in front 
and behind. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: .A grass-lined depression 
in marshy .ground. Eggs : 3 or 4. grayish-olive, spotted 
and streakeil with chestnut, burnt umber, and black. 

Distribution. — North .Xmerica and northern Soutli 
.'\merica ; breeds from northwestern .Alaska, northern 
Mackenzie, central Keewatin, and northern Ungava 
south to northern California, southern Colorado, north- 
ern Iowa, northern Illinois. Pennsylvania, and New 
.lersey ; winters from northern California, New Mexico. 
.Arkansas, and North Carolina through Central .America 
and West Indies to Colombia and southern Brazil ; 
remains in winter casually and locally north to \^'ash- 
ington, Montana, Nebraska. Illinois, and Nova Scotia : 
accidental in Hawaiian Islands, Bermuda, and Great 
Britain. 



As its scientific name implies, the Wilson's one comes to know it well. Sjiortsmen, naturally, 

.Snipe is truly a delicacy, and in many more are fond of it, and refer to it familiarly as " Jack 

ways than from the culinary standpoint. Every Snipe." 
phase of its life assumes a peculiar interest, when In the breeding season its ways are most sin- 



228 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



gular and entertaining. It breeds on the northern 
borders of the United States and north to the 
Arctic Sea. On the Magdalen Islands I have 
watched it with both amusement and amaze- 
ment. The background is of the mossy bogs 
and marshes, interspersed with shallow ponds 
and clumps of small spruce. There, in May and 
June, we may see and hear the male bird darting 
about in wide circlings up in the sky, like a sort 
of feathered meteor, producing with its wings a 
humming, murmuring sound, not imlike that 
accompanying the flight of the " \\'histler '' or 
Golden-eye. Then the mode of the performance 
changes. The singular, long-billed creature now 
flies low, emitting a vocal yel])ing or cackling, 
in general form not \ery different from that of 
the Yellow-legs, only continuous, lasting for 
several minutes at a spell. Presently it alights 
on a spruce tree or a stub and continues its 
vociferations. 

Possibly the female may indulge also in the 
circling and winnowing performance, for I have 
seen two or more birds at a time executing this, 
and in one case we thus traced a bird to its nest. 
Watching where it alighted, after much flying 
around, a member of our party flushed it from 
a nest of four handsomely marked, pointed eggs, 
in the grass near a little bush. I embraced the 
opportunitv to set the camera by the nest, with 





Photo by H. K. Job Courtesy of Outing Pub. Co. 

WILSON'S SNIPE ON NEST 

thread attached, and thus secured some inter- 
esting pictures. 

The usual haunts of this Snipe are open 
meadows or fresh-water marshes, where the 
ground is wet and soft, and where there is grass 
enough to conceal it. It migrates down across 
the United States from mid-September to freez- 
ing-up time, and is much hunted. Flushing 
suddenly from the grass, it darts off with rapid, 
erratic fli.ght, uttering reiterated squeaky notes, 
commonly represented as scaif', scaip, or escape, 
suiting the action to the word. It winters from 
the Southern States to as far south as Brazil. 

On the Louisiana marshes, in the winter of 
1915-16, I found it very abundant. Usually it 
is found in scattered parties on the meadows, but 
here I found it in large flocks, sometimes noting 
several hundred in flight in a compact mass. 
Smaller parties, or " wisps,'' say of twenty to 



Drawing by R. I. Brasher 

WILSON'S SNIPE (i nat. size) 
A favorite with sportsmeti 




o 

IN 



'%... 



h ivv^^ 



\i 



SNIPES, SANDPIPERS, ETC. 



forty, were frequently dartint:; about, espeeially 
toward evening. Near the camp of Messrs. 
Ward and Mcllhenny, where I .stayed, there were 
a series of muddy flats, interspersed with bunches 
or patclies of grass, which were fairly ahve with 
Snipe. In the morning I could see one or more 
of them lying beneath many a tussock dozing. 
Unless flushed, they stayed there until sundown, 
or till it became o\ercast, whereupon they could 
be seen running about oxer the open mud and 
shallow water, busily probing for worms. By 
building a blind at the edge of one of these 



flats and carefully awaiting sutlden intervals of 
sunshine late in the afternoon, I .secured motion 
pictures and others of them thus engaged. 

Herbert K. Jov.. 
The food of Wilson's Sni])e is known to in- 
clude crane-flies ("leather-jackets"), locusts, 
grasshoppers, crawfishes, and the predacious div- 
ing beetles which cause trouljle in fish hatch- 
eries and destroy nuich of the natural insect f((0(l 
of fishes. To the extent that it preys u[)on these 
insect forms — and that is \ery considerable — 
it must be reckoned a useful bird. 



DOWITCHER 
Macrorhamphus griseus griseus {Ciiii-liii) 

A. O. U. .Number 2ji Sn: Clor I'l.ite .i i 

Other Names. — Robin Snipe; Sea Pigeon; Driver; sides, thickly speckled witli dusk.v ; a series of dusky 

Red-lireasted Snijie (summer) ; Brown Snipe (sum- specks from gape throu.gh and behind eye; bill and feet, 

mer) ; Brown-tiack (summer); Gray Snipe (winter); dull dusky-greenish; iris, brown. In Winter: Fore- 

Gray-back (winter). head, head, neck, back, shoulders, and long inner 

General Description. — Length, ii inches. Color secondaries, dark gray, the featliers on back with dusky 







Photograph by H. K. Job 



DOWITCHERS 

A flock on Breton Island Reservation 



above, in summer, brownisli-cinnamon ; in winter, slate- 
gray. Bill lon,g and slender, ui)per section overlapping 
under. Found on sand bars and mud flats, and not in 
bogs. 

Color. — In Summer: Ground color of neck, head, 
breast, and upper parts, brownish-cinnamon ; head and 
neck, narrowly streaked with dusky-brown ; feathers 
of back, with broad blackish-brown centers; rump, 
upper coverts, and tail, white, barred with dusky: wings, 
grayish-dusky, the coverts edged with lighter ; second- 
aries, broadly edged and tipped with white; under 
parts, rufous, paler or whitish behind ; breast and 



centers and paler edges; lower back, rump, and tail. 
f<i(re zchite. with roundish spots of dusky; win.g-coverts. 
like back; secondaries, white-edged and -tipped; pri- 
maries dusky-brown; tinder parts, white; throat, sides 
of breast, and sides, strongly shaded with gray; a 
dusky stripe from gape through and behind eye; the 
white stripe between this and crown, pronounced ; cheeks 
and side of head, mottled with pale dusky: lower tail- 
coverts with roundish dusky spots ; bill, dusky, greenish 
at base; legs, dully greenish-gray; iris, brown with 
white crescent below. 

Nest and Eggs. — Ne.st : A depression in the ground 



230 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



on borders of marshy lakes and ponds ; a loose struc- 
ture of grasses and leaves. Eggs: 4, greenish-olive to 
light clay-color, spotted with dark brown. 

Distribution. — Eastern North and South America ; 
breeding range unknown, but probably northern Un- 



gava ; winters from Florida and the West Indies south 
to northern Brazil; in migration regularly on the 
Atlantic coast, and occasionally in Illinois. Indiana, and 
Ontario ; accidental in Greenland, Bermuda. Great 
Britain, and France. 



The Dovvitcher's regular food includes several 
species of destructive grasshoppers, diving 
beetles which do much damage in fish hatcheries 
besides destroying insects which are the natural 
food of fishes, and various marine worms which 
prey upon oysters. Its usefulness to man, there- 
fore, is very considerable. 

It is a bird of the open meadows, feeding along 
marshy shores and on sand bars bared by the 
receding tide, in flocks, and often in the company 
of other waders. This gregarious instinct, com- 
bined with its gentleness, is a fatal trait, and 
enables gunners to slaughter them unmercifully 
and sometimes to exterminate every individual in 
a " bunch." To turn a 12-gauge " cannoti " loose 
among these unsuspicious birds, winnowing in 
over the decoys with friendly notes of greeting, 
is about as sportmanslike as shooting into a bunch 
of chickens. To catch them with a camera 
requires skill and patience, and herein lies the 
hope for future existence of our disappearing 



wild life — substitution of the lens for the 

gun! 

The call of the Dowitcher is a rather low- 
pitched series of whistles : — phcii-pheit-pheu- 
phcu-phcti, without the diminuendo of the Yel- 
low-leg's notes. 

The Long-billed Dowitcher (Macrorhamphus 
griscus scolopaccits) differs from the common 
Dowitcher in its larger size, richer coloration, 
and longer bill. But the two can only be un- 
erringly separated by a close comparison with 
the specimens in the hand. The Long-billed 
Dowitcher is known locally as the Greater Long- 
beak, the Greater Gray-back, and the Red- 
bellied Snipe. It is found in western North 
America and South America ; it is " supposed to 
be rare or casual on the Atlantic coast and de- 
clared to be the only representative of the genus 
in the west — which would be important if it 
were a fact. Nesting and habits same as stock 
form." (Coues.) 



STILT SANDPIPER 

Micropalama himantopus (Bonaparte) 

A. O. U. Number 233 See Color Plates Z3^ 34 



Other Names. — Long-legged Sandpiper ; Frost 
Snipe ; Mongrel ; Bastard Yellow-legs. 

General Description. — Length. 9 inches. Upper 
parts, in summer, mottled with blackish-brown, white, 
chestnut, and dusky ; in winter, ashy-gray. Under parts, 
whitish barred with dark. Legs long and slender; toes 
webbed at base : bill long, slender, and slightly curved. 

Color. — In Summer: Forehead, crown, a line from 
gape through eye broadening on side of head, rufous: 
center of crown, dusky ; a whitish streak from bill 
over and back of eye; upper parts, blackish-brown, 
each feather edged and tipped with white or chestnut ; 
upper tail-coverts, barred with white and dusky ; tail, 
mottled white and ash ; wing-coverts, grayish, the 
feathers edged with lighter ; primaries and secondaries, 
grayish-brown, latter edged with white ; under parts 
from throat, whitish, sometimes with a pale rufous 
wash, spotted on breast, barred everywhere below with 
brownish: bill, dusky-greenish, darkening at tip; legs, 
dusky yellowish-green : iris, brown with a white cres- 
cent below. In Winter: Above, ashy-gray, crown nar- 



rowly streaked and feathers of back more broadly edged 
with lighter; wing-coverts, brownish-ash, the feathers 
lighter-edged; primaries and secondaries, dusky, the 
latter edged with whitish ; a dusky streak from bill 
through and behind eye ; under parts from chin, white, 
narrowly and thinly barred with dusky; bill, dusky; 
legs, dull brownish-yellow ; iris, brown with a white 
crescent below. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: A depression in the ground 
lined with a few leaves and grass. Eggs ; 3 or 4, 
grayish-wliite or light drab, boldly marked with spots of 
chestnut, brown, and lavender, more numerous at the 
large end. 

Distribution. — North and South America; breeds 
near the coast of Mackenzie and probably south to 
central Keewatin ; winters in South America south to 
Uruguay and Chile ; casual in winter in southern Texas 
and Mexico; in migration occurs in western Missis- 
sippi valley. West Indies, and Central America : less 
common on the Atlantic coast, and casual in British 
Columbia, Newfoundland, and Bermuda. 



SNIPES, SANDPIPERS, ETC. 



2.^,1 



Although considered rare, the Stilt Sandpiper 
is more numerous along the Atlantic coast than 
is supposed, since it is frequently mistaken for the 
Yellow-leys by gunners or by those not trained 
to close observation. The similarity of the two 
species is acknowledged by the popular name, 
" Bastard Yellow-legs,'' which the sportsmen of 
Long Island have given to the Stilt Sandpiper. 
The different color of the long legs will always 



be a distinguishing mark, however, between these 
cousins. 

It flies in flocks, or individuals may join forces 
with other species. A Stilt Sandpiper among a 
number of Semiijalmated Sand[)ipers is instantly 
noted, his long legs raising his body cons[)icu- 
ously above his smaller companions. Its general 
habits of feeding are similar to those of the 
smaller Sandpiper. 



KNOT 
Tringa canutus Liniiccns 

.\. O V. Xumber 2u See Color I'lates a, 34 



Other Names. — Red Sandpiper: Red-breasted Sand- 
piper ; Red-breasted Plover : Freckled Sandpiper ; Ash- 
colored Sandpiper: Canute's Sandpiper; Gray-back; 
Silver-back: Robin Snipe; White Robin Snipe; Robin- 
breast; Beach Robin; Red-breast; Buff-breast; BufF- 
breasted Plover; Horsefoot Snipe: White-bellied Snipe; 
May-bird ; Blue Plover ; Silver Plover. 

General Description. — Length, 10 inches. In sum- 
mer, color of upper parts grayish-brown and the breast 
rufous-brown ; in winter, plain gray above and white 
below. Bill straight, longer than the head, and flat- 
tened and enlarged at tip : toes slender and not webbed 
at base. 

Color. — .Adults in Summer: Upper parts, gray- 
ish-brown narrowly streaked on crown and back of 



neck with dusky; feathers of back and shoulders, tipped 
and edged with grayish-white, those of shoulders, 
tinged with yellowish-brown ; rumf and upper tail- 
ro'i'crls. zchitc with traverse bars of dusky-brown; tail, 
grayish edged with ashy-white; line over and back of 
eye, sides of head, chin, throat, and under parts, plain 
rufotis-broxvn shading into lighter on flanks, into white 
on under tail-coverts; latter with arrowhead spots of 
dusky ; wing-coverts and secondaries, grayish edged 
with lighter; primaries, plain dusky gray; bill and feet, 
fireenish-black ; iris, brown. Adults in Winter: 
Above, plain grayish: crown, streaked with darker gray, 
feathers of back, wing-coverts, and secondaries, edged, 
or not, with whiter ; rump and upper tail-coverts, white 
with dusky spots and bars ; primaries, dusky, lighter 




^^^^^ 



Drawing by R. I. Brasher 

KNOT (J nat. size) 
A bird that "s knowa on the shores of every continent 



232 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



tipi)ed; hi-lcnc. zchitc: sides of breast and sides, with 
dusky markings more distinct and wedge-shaped on 
sides; an indistinct dusky Hne from gape through 
and back of eye; legs and bill, dusky-greenish; iris, 
brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : A depression in the ground, 
lined with grass. Eggs : 4, light pea-green, speckled 
with brown. 

Distribution. — Northern and southern hemispheres ; 



breeds from northern EUesmere Land south to 
Melville Peninsula and Iceland, and also on Taimyr 
Peninsula, Siberia ; winters south to southern Pata- 
gonia, and from the Mediterranean to South Africa, 
India, Australia, and New Zealand ; casual in winter 
on the Atlantic coast of the United States; in migration 
occurs on the Atlantic coast of North America and 
over most of the eastern hemisphere; rare in the 
interior of North ,'Kmerica and on the Pacific coast. 



A flock of Knots tripping along the beach in 
their spring plumage with rufous breasts gives 
the observer the impression that some Robins 
have acquired nautical propensities and come 
down to the ocean for a change of food. While 
following the retreating surges gleaning minute 
Crustacea left stranded by the recession of the 
waves they talk in soft low notes to one another 
and are so preoccupied that they often come 
within a few feet of a motionless watcher. 

After nesting in the extreme North they return 
to the coast in the autumn witli an entirely differ- 
ent dress, no longer with the robin's breast, but 
with a soft gray above and white below. 

Like some other maritime birds, individuals 
often remain as far south as Long Island, New 
York, all summer, being apparently not interested 
in marital duties — wise bachelors or old maids 
who prefer a good table and comfortable climate 
to the long journey and inclemency of the Arctic 



Circle, where those with a proper sense of domes- 
tic responsibility settle down for a few weeks 
and raise a family. 

When not harassed by gunners they are 
remarkably gentle and unsuspicious, and I have 
laid in a hollow scooped out of the sand while 
a flock fed all around me, one or two actually 
peeping over the edge of the pit, within three 
feet of my face ! 

The Knot is an industrious eater of grass- 
hoppers which are injurious to crops, and of 
crawfishes which do much damage in rice and 
corn fields in the South and to levees by boring 
into and weakening them. It also feeds upon the 
marine worms which are destructive parasites of 
the oyster, and upon the diving beetles which 
prey upon the natural insect food of fish. For 
these services it is entitled at least to such pro- 
tection as will guard against any decrease of the 
species. R. I. Brasher. 



PURPLE SANDPIPER 

Arquatella maritima maritima { Briinnich) 

\. O V. Xumht-r 2,^5 See Color Plate .u 



Other Names. — Rock Sandpiper: Rock Snipe; Rock 
Plover; Rock-bird; Rockweed Bird; Winter Rock- 
bird ; Winter Snipe. 

General Description. — Length. 9 inches. Principal 
colors, black and white. Legs short and strong. General 
build, short, thick, and squatty. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: U/^pcy f'arts. black: 
crown, streaked with yellowish or grayish-wliite ; back 
and shoulders varied with chestnut, pale buff, or 
whitish, the reddish color on sides, the paler colors 
tipping the feathers; sides of head, with a rufous 
wash, separated from the crown by a whitish line ; 
under parts, white shaded on throat and breast with 
tawny and here and there streaked with blackish ; rest 
of lower parts with dusky-gray markings ; rump and 
upper tail-covertf . plain dusky; wings, dusky; lesser 
wing-coverts, narrowly tipped with white : greater 
coverts, broadly tipped with the same ; secondaries. 



mostly white increasing in size toward the inner 
feathers; inner tail-feathers, dusky; outer ones, gray. 
Adults in Winter: Entire upper parts, soft blackish- 
brown with purple reflections, each feather lighter bor- 
dered ; greater and lesser wing-coverts, inner second- 
aries, and shoulders, edged and tipped with white ; 
secondaries, broadly tipped with white ; primaries, deep 
dusky : upper tail-coverts and middle tail-feathers, like 
color of back; outside tail-feathers, li.ght ashy; throat 
and breast, brmvnish-ash shading into the white of rest 
of under parts; feathers of side, with wedge-shaped 
light dusky centers; lores, dusky; eye-ring, whitish; bill, 
yellow with dusky tip ; feet, dull orange-red. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : Slight depression in the 
ground, thinly lined with dry grass. Eggs: 4, grayish 
olive, boldly and distinctly marked with rich burnt 
umber over the entire surface. 

Distribution. — Northern hemisphere; breeds from 



O- 




I 



■ O 3J 



UJ 

UJ ~ < ^ 

a: = 3 • 



O - S 5 

u) ^ a: z 
z ~ Qj'g 

^ ; z 
I- : < 



SNIPES, SANDPIPERS, ETC. 



233 



Melville Island. Ellesmere Land, and northern Green- Greenland and New Uriniiwiek to Long Island; casual 

land south to Melville Peninsula, Cumberland Sound, in migration to the Great Lakes, Georgia, Florida, and 

and southern Greenland, and in Norway, Russia, Siberia, llernuida, and in the Eastern Hemisphere south to 

Iceland, ami Faroe Islands ; winters from southern Great liritain and the Meiliterraneaii. 



A member of the Snipe family feedinij im the 
wintry beach seems ahniost as much out of place 
as a Hummingbird and the observer is likely to 
think the bird's journey has been interrupted b)' 
injury. 

I have seen Purple Sandpipers on the rocky 
Alaine coast in December, searching carefully 
in seaweed for their food and ap]iareiitly 
indifferent to the cold. As nearly as I could 
make out they seemed to be feeding on small 
mussels and clams, which they swallowed shell 
and all. 

Although nowhere common in America, since 
its jM'incipal line of migration follows through 
Norway into other jiarts of Kurope, it can be 
found during the winter months as far south as 
Long Island, X. Y., where, like the Ipswich 
Sjjarrow, it is less rare than is generally sup- 
posed because few observers braxe the open 
wind-swept dunes in winter. 



Two varieties of the Purple Sandpiper occur 
in Alaska. These are the iMeutian Sandpijier 
{ ArqiiatcUa uuiritiuia coucsi) and the Pribilof 
or Black-breasted Sandpiper (.IrquatcUa iiiari- 
thiia ptilociicnus). When hrst described these 
two subspecies were supposed to be separate 
species from each other and from the Purple 
Sandpijier, although a close relationship be- 
tween the three was acknowledged. Careful 
study has established their exact status. In their 
respective winter plumages the Aleutian and 
J'ur[)le Sandpipers are not distinguishable and in 
the other seasons there is very little real differ- 
ence between them, but the Aleutian both breeds 
and winters within the boundaries of Alaska, 
occasionally straying o\er to Plover Bay, Siberia. 
The Pribilof Sandpiper breeds on the St. Law- 
rence, St. Matthew, and Pribilof islands and 
w inters on the coast of southeastern Alaska. 

R. I. Br.xshek. 



PECTORAL SANDPIPER 
Pisobia maculata (I'icillot) 

A. O. U. .Xuniber 2,59 ."^ee Color IMate 35 



Other Names. — Grass Snipe; Jack Snipe; Grass- 
bird; Meadow Snipe; Cow Snipe; Brownie: Brown- 
back; Triddler ; Hay-bird; Fat-bird; Short-neck; Squat 
Snipe; Squatter; Krieker ; Marsh Plover. 

General Description. — Length, 9 inches. Color 
above, brownish-black ; below, white marked with dusky 
on breast. Tail double notched, the middle tail-feathers 
pointed and longer than all the others. 

Color. — Crown, streaked with blackish-brown and 
chestnut ; sides of head, neck, and brea.^t, pale yc//^)ii'i.v/i- 
broien, spotted zi'ith diishy brozi'u ; upper parts, brozen- 
ish-blach, each feather edged zvith ashy or chestnut. 
shoulder feathers with lighter margins; outer upper 
tail-coverts, white with arrowhead spots of dusky; 
lesser coverts, brown with broad brownish-ash edges; 
secondaries and greater coverts, brownish, edged and 
tipped with white ; primaries, dusky black ; central tail- 
feathers, brozi'nish-btack with lighter edges; rest of 



tail-feathers, ashy, margined with white ; throat, abdo- 
men, and under tail-coverts, white; sides, yellowish- 
lirown spotted with dusky ; bill and legs, dusky-green- 
ish ; broad, indistinct stripe above, and a ring around, 
eye, whitish. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : On the ground ; a mere 
depression, sparsely lined with grass. Eggs: 4. green- 
ish-drab, spotted and blotched with brown. 

Distribution. — North and South .America ; breeds on 
the .Xrctic coast from northern Alaska to mouth of 
Yukon and northeastern Mackenzie ; winters in South 
America from Peru and Bolivia to northern Chile, 
Argentina, and central Patagonia; in migration very 
rare on Pacific coast south of British Columbia, except 
in Lower California; common in fall migration in Mis- 
sissippi valley and on the .•\tlantic coast, rare in spring; 
casual in northeastern Siberia, Unalaska, and Green- 
land ; accidental in Hawaii and England. 



" During the mating season the male Pectoral 
Sandpiper develops a great pouch, formed of 
the skin of the throat and breast, which he is 



able to inflate until it is nearly as large as the 
body. He now becomes a song bird, and flutters 
upward twenty or thirty yards in the air, as if 



?34 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



eniulatini;; the famous Skylark, ami, inflating his 
great pouch, ghdes down again to the ground ; 
or he flies slowly along the ground, his head 
raised high and his tail hanging straight down, 
uttering a succession of booming notes. As he 
struts about the female his low notes swell and 
die away in musical cadences." (Forbush.) 

Although migrating in flocks the " Kriekers " 
scatter when a good feeding meadow is reached, 
and are generally flushed from the grass singly. 
They prefer the bayside meadows, and are seldom 
seen along the margins of ponds or on the 
beaches. It is probable that they " fatten up '' 



on some favorite food further north, for they are 
extremely fat when they arrive on the Long 
Island (N. Y.) marshes in September. They 
"lie" well, flushing within easy gunshot range 
with a flight similar to that of Wilson's Snipe 
but less rapid. The zigzags are shorter, the 
course rapidly straightens out, and if the " sports- 
man " waits a few seconds after they spring, it 
is not difiicult to add them to the " bag." When 
the early morning mists of September hang low- 
over the meadows Pectoral Sandpipers, magni- 
fied by the fog, appear nearly as large as Wilson's 
Snipe. R. I. Brasher. 



WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER 
Pisobia fuscicollis {Vicillot) 

.\. O. U. \umber 240 See Color Plate 35 



Other Names. — Bonaparte's Sandpiper ; Schintz's 
Sandpiper ; Sand-bird ; Bull Peep. 

General Description. — Length, 7 inches. In summer, 
the upper parts pale brownish with dusky stripes and 
the lower parts white with brownish markings ; in 
winter, brownish-ash above and whitish below. Middle 
tail-feathers pointed and longer than others. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Crown and upper 
parts, pale brownish, each feather with a large dusky 
center, forming stripes on back ; crown, striped with 
dark brown ; shoulders, more chestnut ; rumfi and upfer 
tail-coverts, Zi'liitc : central tail-feathers, brownish-black, 
the rest light grayish, broadly edged and tipped with 
white; sides of head, neck, and breast, washed with 
pale yellowish-brown, spotted with darker; an indis- 
tinct dark brown streak from bill through and behind 
eye ; wing-coverts and secondaries, grayish-brown 
edged with lighter ; primaries, dusky ; chin and throat, 
white; abdomen and rest of under parts, white; bill 
and feet, dusky-greenish ; iris, brown surrounded by a 
white ring. Adults in Winter: Crown, hack of neck, 
hack, and shouhiers. hroi^'nish-ash. indistinctly streaked 



with darker; rump and upper tail-coverts, white: cen- 
tral tail-feathers, dusky; the rest, light ash; some 
feathers of shoulder and back, deep chestnut edged with 
white ; wing, as in summer ; a broad streak over eye. 
chin, throat, and under parts in general, whitish faintly 
spotted with pale brown ; a streak from bill through and 
behind eye, dark brownish-ash ; bill, dusky horn, lighter 
at base; feet, dusky-greenish; iris, brown surrounded 
by a white ring. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: A depression in the ground, 
lined with a few leaves. Eggs: 4, light olive or olive- 
brown, boldly spotted and marked with deep sepia, 
chiefly at large end. 

Distribution. — North and South America ; breeds 
along the .\rctic coast from northwestern Mackenzie to 
Cumberland Island; has occurred in summer west to 
Point Barrow and east to Greenland ; winters from 
Paraguay to southern Patagonia and the Falkland 
Islands; in migration most abundant in the Mississippi 
valley, less so on the Atlantic coast ; casual in the 
Bermudas, Great Britain, the West Indies, and Central 
America. 



The White-rumped Sandpiper is usually found 
among the Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers 
tripping over awash seaweed or running along 
the shore. They seldom associate with flocks of 
their own kind, but prefer the company of other 
species. In autumn plumage they can be easily 
confused with the smaller Sandpipers, but close 
scrutiny will reveal the white upper tail-coverts 
— a conspicuous identification mark. Their 



habits are similar to those of other members of 
the family and they are naturally unsuspicious 
unless repeatedly disturbed. 

An important part of the diet of the White- 
rumped Sandpiper consists of grasshoppers of 
species known to be injurious to crops. This is 
a real service to man which should not be over- 
looked when measures for the adequate protec- 
tion of the birds are considered. 





1 



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o 






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Q. C 



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Mi t; 



Qi < 
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SNIPES, SANDPIPERS, ETC. 



235 



BAIRD'S SANDPIPER 
Pisobia bairdi (L'nui-s) 



A. O U. Xiimbcr 24 

Other Name. — Grass-bird. 

General Description. — Length, 7 inches. Color 
above, brownish-black ; below, white with jiale brownish 
on breast. Resembles the Pectoral Sandpiper but 
smaller and breast less heavily streaked. 

Color. — Adults: Entire upper parts, brownish- 
black, each feather bordered and tipped with light 
reddish-yellow, these tips broader and nearly pure white 
on shoulders; coverts and secondaries like back, latter 
lighter tipped; central tail-feathers, brownish-black; 
remainder, successively lighter, all narrowly bordered 
with white; breast pale broivnish zvitli faint spots and 
streaks of dnslcy: throat and under parts, white; bill 
and legs, dusky ; iris, brown. Young in Autumn : Sides 
of head, throat, breast, and upper parts, including wings, 
nearly uniform pale yellowisli-brown, each feather 
darker centrally: crown (strongly), sides of head, 



Sec Co 



I'l.'itp 



throat, and breast (more faintly), streaked or spotted 
with brown: rest of under parts, white; bill, dusky, 
lighter at base; legs, dull olive. 

Nest and Eggs.— Nest : .\ depression in the ground 
under shelter of tuft of grass, lined with a few leaves 
and grasses. Eggs: 4. buffy, spotted with shades of 
chestnut-hniwn. 

Distribution.— North and South .'\merica; breeds 
along the Arctic coast from Point Barrow to northern 
Keewatin ; winters in Chile, .Argentina, and Patagonia : 
occurs regularly in migration from the Rocky Moun- 
tains to the Mississippi River, and in Central America 
and northern South .'\merica, and irregularly in autumn 
on the Pacific coast from .Maska to Lower California 
and on the Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia to New 
Jersey; casual in summer in Guerrero, Mexico; acci- 
dental in England and South .Africa. 



.Mthniigh it is slig^htly larsjer than the Least 
and .'^emipalniated Sand])ipcr.s it is not casv to 
distinguish the Baird's .Sandpiper from those 
.species. Its general color in the field is more 
vellowish-brovvn and it is found ahnost exclu- 



sive]\' along the prairie sloughs and lagoons of 
the Middle West. Its habits are similar to other 
small .Sandpipers ; it nnis along the shore in 
the same confiding way, and unless frightened 
will sometimes feed almost at the observer's feet. 



LEAST SANDPIPER 
Pisobia minutilla (I'iciUot) 



A. O U. Number 242 .See ( olor Plate 35 



Other Names. — Peep; Wilson's Stint; Ox-eye; 
Mud-peep : .'-iand-pcep ; Little Sand-peep. 

General Description. — Length, 6 inches; the smallest 
Sandpiijer, and not heavier than an English Sparrow. 
Color above, grayish-brown ; below, white with the 
breast darker. Much like the Semipalmated Sandpiper, 
but the feet with no webs. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: I-.ntire uj^per parts, 
dusky brown striped on head and neck with chestnut, 
each feather on back and shoulders edged with chest- 
nut and tipped with whitish ; center tail-feathers, black- 
ish edged with chestnut, others, gray edged with white ; 
wing-coverts and secondaries, brownish edged with bay ; 
secondaries, tipped witli white; primaries, dusky; breast, 
washed with pale rusty and spotted with browm ; a 
diffuse .streak from bill through and back of eye. dusky ; 
bill and !e<is. dusky greenish: iris, brown with white 
eye-ring; throat, abdomen, and rest of under parts, 
white, .\dults in Winter: Entire upper parts, pale 



grayish-brown, each feather darker centrally ; second- 
aries and primaries, white-tipped ; breast, shaded with 
very pale brownish-gray, spotting obsolete: bill as in 
summer; feet, yello'c^.'isli-iireeii. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : Near water ; a mere de- 
pression in the ground, lined with leaves and grass. 
Eggs: 3 or 4, creamy-buflf to light drab, heavily spotted 
with chestnut and lavender. 

Distribution. — North and South .-America ; breeds 
from northwestern .Alaska, southern .Arctic islands, and 
northern Ungava to Vakutat Bay, .Alaska, valley of the 
Upper Yukon, northern Mackenzie, central Keewatin, 
southern Ungava, Nova Scotia, and .Sab'e Island : 
winters from California, Texas, and North Carolina 
through the West Indies and Central .America to Brazil. 
Chile, and the Galapagos ; in migration occurs through- 
out the United States and west to northeastern .Silieria 
and the Commander Islands, north to Greenland, and in 
Bermuda ; accidental in Europe. 



236 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



To the lover of unspoiled Nature our jjrand 
open sea beaches would not seem like the real 
thing were it not possible at times to see flocks 
of innocent little Sandpipers running gracefully 
along the margin, chased by the advancing waves. 
The tiniest atom of its tribe, the Least Sand- 
piper, accompanied by several other kinds, is 
still with us. and is perhaps increasing, thanks to 
the outlawry of shooting them under the Federal 



It was my good fortune to be able to studv its 
nesting habits when I found it breeding on the 
Magdalen Islands, Gulf of St. Lawrence. Pic- 
ture there, on these islands, broad expanses of 
meadowy country, carpeted with short grass and 
moss, interspersed with patches of low spruce 
and juniper, and dotted with small shallow 
ponds. Here, in early June, we may listen to a 
sweet, twittering little song, and spy the author. 








Drawing by R. I. Brasher 



LEAST SANDPIPER (; nat. size) 
The baby among shore birds 



Law. It will be a sorry day when we need such 
tiny things for food, each one affording but a 
mere taste. 

This species and the Semipalmated Sandpiper 
consort together and resemble each other so 
closely that it is hard at a distance to tell them 
apart. There is a slight distinction in hal)it, in 
that the Least Sandpiper is more apt to be found 
on marshes, while the other prefers the beach, 
though there is no certain distinguishing of them 
in this way. As things go, thev are com])aratively 
common in May and again in August and the 
first part of September cjuite generally o\er the 
country, wherever there are any considerable 
bodies of water, particularly on both our sea- 
coasts, also in the Mississippi valley, and on the 
shallow prairie sloughs of the Northwest. 

\\'hereas most of the larger shore birds cross 
to the interior of the ccjntinent to breed, the 
Sandpipers as a class seem not to avoid the north- 
ern Atlantic coast in the spring flight and in the 
nesting season. This is true of the Least Sand- 
piper. Though it breeds in the far Northwest, 
it also does so on our eastern coasts, well to the 
north. 



nnt a \\arl)ler but our little Sandpiper, the male 
bird, circling al)Out on qui\ering wings, singing 
to his little mate \\ho loiters on the edge of a 




Photo by H. K. Job Courtesy of HougViton MifBin Co. 

AN ANXIOUS MOTHER 
Least Sandpiper watching the photographer near her babies 

One day, a June 13. a tiny bii'd lluttered almost 
from beneath the feet of my companion, and 



SNIPES, SANDPIPERS, ETC. 



237 



there was our first nest of the Least Sandpiper, a 
Httle hollow in the northern moss, lined with dry 
bavberry leaves, and holding four eggs, large 
for the size of the bird, and wide across, though 
somewhat pointed. The tiny owners trailed 
around at our feet in abject despair. Finally we 
comiironiised by persuading the female to allow 
me to photograph her on the nest, after which 
we parted company. 

On another occasion, beside the crude cart- 
road leading to the fisherman's house where we 
were staying, a pair of these birds apjieared 
greatly worried over our ])assing. They ran 



ab(jut. alighted on the wire fence, and scolded 
plaintively. This set us to searching, but it was 
some time before I discovered the four tiny 
voung, very recently hatched, huddled together 
on the ground among the sparse grass of the 
adjoining pasture, and a tell-tale egg-shell near 
by. Little buff-colored balls of down, ornamented 
with black spots, they were as pretty bird-babies 
as I ha\e ever seen. Somehow, these episodes 
with breeding shore birds of Arctic proclivities, 
in this crisp northern clime, appealed to me 
with verv sjiecial fascination. 

lliiKHiCKT K. Job. 



RED-BACKED SANDPIPER 
Pelidna alpina sakhalina ( I'icillot) 

A. O. U. .Xumber 243a See Color Plates 3J, 34 



Other Names. — American Dunlin; lilack-licllied 
Sandpiper ; Brant-bird ; Red-back ; Red-backed Dunlin ; 
Lead-back; Ox-bird; Fall Snipe; Crooked-billed Snipe; 
Crooked-bill; Little Blackbreast ; Winter Snipe; Simple- 
ton; Stib ; Black-beart Plover (Ontario). 

General Description. — Length, 9 inches. In sum- 
mer, upper parts chestnut and the lower parts white 
with a black patch ; in winter, upper parts dark ashy- 
gray, under parts pale ashy-white. Bill, rather long and 
ternimal third bent slightly downward. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Crozvii, back, should rrs, 
ruiiip, and upper tail-corerts, chestnut, crown, streaked 
with dusky, rest of feathers of upper parts with 
dusky centers, many with whitish tips ( especially 
behind) ; tail, wing-coverts, and secondaries, ashy-gray ; 
secondaries, broadly n'liitc-iipped, coverts with darker 
centers ; primaries dusky, some inner ones edged with 
white at base; sides of head, back of neck, chin, throat, 
and rest of under parts, white; abdomen, zeith a broad 
vehety-black patch : other whitish parts above, streaked 
with pale dusky; bill, dusky-yellow; legs, dark horn- 
color ; iris, brown with a dusky spot in front. Adults 
IN Winter: Entire upper parts, dark ashy-gray, lighten- 
ing over eye and streaked with whitish on back of neck; 



feathers of back, faintly outlined with lighter; wing- 
coverts and secondaries, more brownish; feathers, 
darker centrally, secondaries narrowly white-tipped ; 
primaries, deep dusky, the inner ones whitish at base 
forming a conspicuous ii'/f/Zr spot: chin, throat, and 
rest of under parts, pale ashy-white; black area of 
summer plumage entirely absent ; under parts from 
throat, obsoletely streaked with dusky ; bill and legs, 
dusky-greenish ; iris, brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : A hollow in the ground, in 
or near salt marshes or fresh-water lakes and ponds. 
Pxcs : 4, pale greenish to brownish-buff, spotted with 
dull umber, chestnut, and sepia. 

Distribution. — North America and eastern .Asia ; 
breeds on the northern coast of Siberia west to mouth 
of the Yenisei, and from Point Barrow to mouth of 
Yukon, and in Boothia and Melville peninsulas, and 
northern Ungava ; winters on the Pacific coast from 
Washington to southern Lower California and from 
New Jersey (rarely Massachusetts) south to Louisiana 
and southern Texas, and in Asia from China and Japan 
to the Alalay Archipelago; rare in migration in the 
interior of the United States except about the southern 
end of Lake Michigan. 



.'Mthough the Red-backed Sandpiper is found 
often in the interior of North America, in New 
England it is confined mainly to the neighborhood 
of the sea and largely to the salt marshes, but 
also frequents sand bars and mud flats. It is an 
active little bird usually keeping in companies, 
which run about nimbly and fly very rapidly, 
performing varied evolutions in concert, as if 
drilled to act together. In the breeding season 



it has a rather musical flight song, which never 
is heard except in its northern home, so far as 
I know. When frightened or flying it has a 
hoarse, grating note. 

There seem to be two well-defined migration 
routes of this species : one from Alaska and Si- 
beria down the Pacific coast of North .America, 
and one from Hud.son Bay, Ungava, and the 
lands to the north down the Atlantic coast. 



238 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



The Atlantic birds winter mainly in the United 
States, and the Pacific birds are common in win- 
ter only as far south as southern California. The 
future of this species, therefore, is in our hands. 
It can be protected or exterminated by the people 
of the United States and Canada. In spring 
the eastern migration passes more to the west- 



ward, and the species appears in numbers on the 
Great Lakes, becoming rare to the northeast of 
Massachusetts. 

The Red-backed Sandpiper feeds largely on 
worms, crustaceans, and insects. 

Edward Howe Forbush, in Game Birds, 
Wilii-Fuwl and Shore Birds. 



SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER 
Ereunetes pusillus (Liintcrus) 

\. O. U. Number 246 See Color I'late 35 



Other Names. — Peep ; Little Peep ; Sand-peep ; 
niack-legged Peep; Ox-eye: Sand Ox-eye. 

General Description. — Length, 6^ inches. Principal 
color above, chestnut; below, white with spots on 
breast. Tot-s, zvcbbcd at base: bill, straight and enlarged 
at tip ; tail, double-notched. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Above, varied with 
black, pale chestnut, ashy, and white, each feather 
dusky centrally with a reddish edge and whitish tip ; 
rump and upper taU-covcrts, dusky, more whitish on 
sides ; central tail-feathers, brown, others, ashy-gray ; 
wing-coverts and secondaries, brownish and rufous, 
edged with lighter ; primaries, plain dusky ; a dusky 
line from gape through and behind eye and a white line 
above; lower parts, pure white tinged with pale rufous 
on breast, where spotted with pale dusky ; bill, black : 
legs, dusky green; iris, brown. Adults in Winter; 



.\bovc. plain ashy, the feathers lighter-tipped ; light ends 
of secondaries, less conspicuous as is also the line 
through eye ; under parts, pure white with dusky spot- 
ting very faint ; bill, legs, and iris, as in summer. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : A hollow in the ground, 
lined with dry grass. Eggs: 3 or 4. from grayish to 
olive, usually boldly spotted and splashed with brown 
or chestnut, but sometimes finely dotted over entire 
surface. 

Distribution. — North and South America ; breeds 
from the Arctic coast of North America south to 
mouth of Yukon and to southern Ungava ; winters 
from Texas and South Carolina through West Indies 
and Central America to Patagonia ; migrates mainly east 
of the Rocky Mountains; casual in British Columbia, 
Pribilof Islanfls, and northeastern Siberia; accidental 
in Europe. 




Photugraph by H. K. Jol 



TURNSTONES AND SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS 




JO 

Q. 




SNIPES, SANDPIPERS, ETC. 



239 



The Seniipalmated Sandpiper is a social>le little 
bird usually tdund in company with other small 
Sandpipers, es]iecially in that of tlie Least Sand- 
piper to which it is similar in general habits and 
appearance. It is partial to the open sand 
beaches — following the receding waves, seizing 
its minute crustacean food from the backwash, 
and cleverly eluding the returning surf. It is 
more of a sand bird and less of a mud Ijird than 
the Least Sandpiper. Positive identification in 
life is impossible unless a very close view is 
obtained, enabling the observer to see the semi- 
webbed feet. 

It is constantly on the move, but. notwithstand- 
ing its great activity, it becomes very fat when 
food is abundant. On a windy day I have seen 
little groups of them settle down under the lee 
of a marsh tussock, preening their feathers and 
indulging in a siesta of repletion, keeping up a 
continuous peeping of contentment. These loaf- 
ing spells become more frequent as the autumn 
days wane, and they are loath to leave a suimy 
nook under a bank sheltered from the strong 
northwest wind. I have sailed a sharpie within 



ten feet before they would take wing with queru- 
lous tii-zifccts tn-7vcets of resentment. 

In its winter plumage the Western Sandpiper 
{ Erriiiirtcs uiaiiri) can only be distinguished 
from the Seniipalmated by its longer bill ; in 
the summer the color of its ujiper parts is richer 
and more rusty with stronger markings. The 
curious and remarkable thing about this bird is 
that while it breeds in a narrow strij) of terri- 
tory along the northwestern coast of Alaska, 
it is a common winter resident in the south- 
eastern United States from North Carolina to 
Florida and Louisiana. 

This long journey across the continent is not 
jiaralleled bv any other shore bird ; it is, however, 
comparable to that of several species of ducks. 
Just what route this migration follows is un- 
known as there are no records from the interior 
to show which way the birds passed. The West- 
ern Sandpi])er also winters from Lower Cali- 
fornia to Venezuela. The individuals that pass 
the winter in eastern South America probably 
migrate over the seas from Florida. 

R. L Brasher. 



SANDERLING 
Calidris leucophasa ( Pallas ) 

.\. O, U. .Xumher 248 See Color Plates M, 34 



Other Names. — Ruddy Plover; Beach-bird; .Surf 
Snipe: W'liite Snipe; Beach Plover; Whitey ; Bull Peep. 

General Descriprion. — Length, 8 inches. In summer, 
principal color above, chestnut; in winter, pale bluish- 
ash. Under parts always white, but the breast finely 
spotted in sutnmer. Only three toes (hind toe missing) ; 
front toes with narrow marginal webs. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Entire upper parts, 
varied with black, ash, and chestnut, on back and 
shoulders each feather black centrally, broadly mar- 
gined with reddish and tipped with white; wing-coverts, 
secondaries, and primaries ashy, the feathers lighter on 
edges of coverts, secondaries. Zi'liite-ti/'ped. and a zvliite 
spot at base of primaries: rump, upper tail-coverts, and 
central tail-feather.s, dusky, tipped and edged with ashy 
white; rest of tail-feathers nearly white; under parts, 
while, finely spotted with dusky and chestnut on sides 
of throat and breast; bill and legs, dusky; iris, brown. 
.AiiuLTs IN Winter: Upper parts, pale bluish-ash, the 
crown narrowly streaked with darker and the feathers 



iin back fading into white on edges; shoulders and 
inner secondaries, with darker centers; wing-coverts, 
like back; secondaries, largely ivhite; primaries, dusky, 
whitening at base; an indistinct dusky line from 
bill through eye; line above eye, cheeks, and entire 
under parts, pure white; bill and legs, black; iris, 
brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : A depression in the 
ground, lined with grass or leaves. Eggs : 4, light 
olive-brown, speckled and spotted with different shades 
of brown, cliiefly at large end. 

Distribution. — Northern and southern hemispheres; 
breeds from Melville Island, Ellesmere Land, and north- 
ern Greenland to Point Barrow, Alaska, northern 
Mackenzie, Iceland, and in northern Siberia ; winters 
from central California. Texas, Virginia, and Bermuda 
to Patagonia, and casually to Massachusetts and Wash- 
ington ; also from the Mediterranean, Burma, and 
Japan to South Africa and various Pacific islands, 
including Hawaii. 



In the sunny days of September, where the 
white-maned horses of the sea, urged onward by 
the winds, charge in long rows and thunder down 
\'..!.. I — 17 



upon the sands of Cape Cod, the Sanderling is 
in its element. Matching the very sand in color 
it is almost invisible while s(|uattcd on the upper 



240 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



beach at high tide, waiting for the recession of 
the waters ; but as the ebb begins, the Httle flock 
scatters along the shore, retreating before each 
wave, following down the backwash, until some- 
times forced to fly by the oncoming surge, intent 
upon the flotsam and jetsam of the sea washed 
up for their delectation, spread for a brief mo- 
ment upon the sloping sands and then carried 
back into the deep. The Sanderling neglects no 
opportunity. It follows its prey at times until 
up to its breast in the wave but always nimbly 
avoids immersion. Because of this habit, the 
Sanderling is beter known to many as the Surf 
Snipe. If disturbed the little flock rises, flies 
out over the surf and turns, flying up or down 
the beach, now low in some great sea hollow, 
now just skimming the crest of a foaming 
breaker, but they soon swing in again and drop- 



ping upon the sands resume their absorbing 
occupation. 

The Sanderling's common note is a sharp cliit. 
The bird may be distinguished from the little 
"Sand-peeps,'' which it much resembles, by its 
larger size, and from other Sandpipers by its 
light color and whitish head. When in flight it 
shows a line of conspicuous white spots on the 
wing. When in hand it may be readily distin- 
guished from all other Sandpipers by the lack 
of a hind toe — a characteristic of the Plovers. 
In the spring and autumn migrations the Sand- 
erling is not uncommon on the Great Lakes and 
is recorded from various parts of the Mississippi 
valley, but the sea is its first love. Its flights are 
largely made over the ocean and it can rest on 
the water if necessary and swim with the ease 
of a duck. Edward Howe Forbush. 



HUDSONIAN GODWIT 
Limosa haemastica (LiiiiKrux) 

A. O. U. .\umber 251 .See Color Plate .?8 



Other Names. — Red-breasted Godwit ; Ring-tailed 
Marliii ; Spot-rump; Field Marlin ; Goose-bird; Black- 
tailed Godwit ; Black-tail ; .'Vmerican Black-tailed God- 
wit; \\'liite-rinn[) ; .Smaller Dough- or Doe-bird. 

General Description. — Length, i6 inches. In sum- 
mer, color of upper parts brownish-black mottled with 
lighter colors, under parts, chestnut ; in winter, upper 
parts plain dull ashy, under parts lighter ash shaded 
with huffy; always a white spot just above the tail. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Upper parts brown- 
ish-black with greenish gloss, variegated with rufous, 
yellowish, or white, lighter colors scalloping edges of 
feathers; rump, blackish: upper tail-c averts , conspicu- 
ously zvltitc: tail, black, white at base and white-tipped; 
head and neck, streaked with dusky ; under parts, rich 
chestnut crossed ivith numerous black bars, these bars 
tending to spots on breast and neck ; rear under parts, 
crossed also with white bars ; bill, pale reddish, terminal 



third black ; legs, bluish-gray ; iris, brown. Adults in 
Winter: General plumage, plain dull ashy lightening 
on head, neck, and under parts where shaded with pale 
huffy; tail, as in summer: upper tail-coverts, conspicti- 
ously zc'hite; bill, flesh-colored with dusky tip; feet, 
liluish-gray. Plumages intermediate between the two 
are common. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: A hollow scooped out of 
the ground, lined with a few leaves and grasses. Eggs: 
4, dark olive-drab marked with still darker brownish 
shade of the ground color. 

Distribution. — North and South America ; breeds 
from the lower Anderson River southeast to central 
Kecwatin ; winters in Argentina. Patagonia, and the 
Falkland Islands; in migration occurs principally east 
of the Great Plains, most commonly on the Atlantic 
coast in autumn and in the Mississippi valley in spring; 
casual in Alaska. 



The Ciodwits constitute a genus {Limosa) of 
the Snipe and Sandpiper family, and include 
about half a dozen species of which two are 
American birds. Two others, the Pacific Godwit 
(Limosa lapponica baucri) and the Black-tailed 
Godwit (Limosa limosa), are included in check- 
lists of North American avifauna — the first be- 
cause a few individuals have strayed from Siberia 
to the islands ofif Alaska and there reproduced 
their kind, and the second because of its acci- 



dental occurrence in Greenland. The Godwits 
are characterized by a very long and slightlv up- 
ward-curved bill, which is grooved nearly to the 
tip ; the shanks are partly bare ; the middle or 
outer toes are partly webbed ; the wings are long 
and pointed : the tail in length equals or some- 
what exceeds the wing. Their prevailing color 
is reddish or brownish, but there is considerable 
variation of color according to age, sex, and 
season. 



SNIPES, SANDPIPERS, ETC. 



241 



Marketl peculiarities of tlie ^enus are that the 
females are larger than the males, and that in- 
cubation is performed by the males. The birds 
are found in marshes, salt-water meadows, and 
alonsic the shores of bays or lakes. They place 
their nests on the g-round, but not invariably near 
water, and lay three or four eggs, of a generally 
drab hue, marked with dark brown. Their food. 



which 



consists of aquatic insects, shell-fish, 



woniis and the like, they capture by probing the 
sand or mud with their long bills, or by following 
retreating waves and snatching up the small 
creatures thus left str.-uKled. 

Of the Hudsonian Godwit Air. P'orbush says: 
" During my boyhood I frequently heard old 
gunners about Boston tell their tales of the 
Goose-bird which was well and favorably known 
all along our coast. But it is impossible now to 
tell with certainty whether these tales referred 
to one or both of the Godwits. The Hudsonian 
Godwit is now less rare than the larger species, 
but few are seen or taken regularly on the Massa- 
chusetts coast. It is shy, like its larger relative. 



iiut a g(jod bird caller finds nu difficulty in luring 
it to his decoys. 

" The breeding range and nfigration of this- 
species are more or less shrouded in mvstery. 
The eggs ha\x' been found once by MacFarlane- 
in the Anderson River region, which proves that 
the birds breed near the coast of the ."\rctic Sea. 
and that is about all we know of its breeding 
range, except th.at it summers in Keewatin. W'e 
must assume that the species goes to South 
.\merica by sea, like the Eskimo Curlew, and 
lands on Cape Cod and Long Island in numbers 
only when driven there by storms. It was con- 
sidered rare by Wilson and Audubon, as it prob- 
ablv never was seen on the coast of the Middle 
and Southern States in any numbers unless 
driven in by a severe storm." ( Game Birds, Wild 
foii'l and Shore Birds. ) 

The Hudsonian (iodwit feeds t(j a considerable 
extent upon moscjuitoes and horse-flies, as exam- 
ination of its stomach has amply proved. It is 
therefore to be counted a useful bird, since the 
insects it destrovs are known to be harmful. 



MARBLED GODWIT 
Limosa fedoa {Liiin<Tus) 

A. O. U. Number 249 See Color I'late 38 



Other Names. — Great Marbled Godwit : Great God- 
wit ; Red Curlew; Brant-bird; Marlin ; Red Marlin ; 
Brown Marlin; Spike-billed Curlew; Spike-bill; 
Badger-bird ; Dough- or Doe-bird. 

General Description. — Length. 21 inches; largest 
shore bird, except the Long-billed Curlew. Prevailing 
color, reddish, darker above; no white spot at base of 
tail. Bill curved slightly upward. 

Color. — .\ light dull yellowish-rufous, browner 
and richer above but varying much in intensity with 
individuals; broad line over eye, sides of head, chin, 
and upper throat, more whitish ; an indistinct dusky line 
from bill through and behind eye; crown, brownish; 
neck all around, spotted with dusky ; upper parts with 
brownish-black center on each featlier ; rump, tail- 
coverts, and tail, barred with blackish and brown ; 
primaries, rufous, outer webs and ends of a few outer 



ones dusky; throat, breast, and sides, traz'ersely barred 
■zeitli brozi'ii. Ike markings iiarrou': bill, flesh-colored, 
dusky on ridge and terminal half; legs, bluish-ash; iris, 
brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Xest : On the ground in a dry- 
field but not far from water; a depression, lined with 
grass. Er.GS : 4, creamy-buff to light olive-drab, thickly 
spotted with various shades of umber brown. 

Distribution. — North America ; breeds from valley 
of the Saskatchewan south to North Dakota (formerly 
to Iowa and Wisconsin) ; winters from southern Lower 
California, Louisiana. Florida, and Georgia to Guate- 
mala and Belize; casual in California in winter; in 
migration occurs on Pacific coast nortli to British 
Columbia, and on the Atlantic coast to the Maritime 
Provinces (formerly) and south to the Lesser Antilles; 
accidental in .Alaska. 



My first acquaintance with the Marbled God- 
wit was one beautiful June day in North Dakota, 
when I was wading in a large slough, deep not 
only in mud and water, but in the delights of 
inspecting nests of Canvas-back, Redhead, Ruddy 



Duck, and various other interesting water birds. 
All at once I began to hear loud outcries, and a 
flock of about twenty big brown birds with long 
straight bills swept past me and alighted in the 
grass just back from the shore. In great excite- 



242 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



ment I followed, and with my binoculars had a 
splendid view of them as they strode about on 
their stilt-like legs and caught insects. 

Not until I visited Saskatchewan did I locate 
their breeding-grounds. There I found them 
nesting in scattered pairs, very commonly over 
the dry prairies. Like the large Curlew, they are 
partial to an alkaline country. Though they 
are always in the general vicinity of some slough, 
their actual nesting is bade on the dry prairie. 




1 . il;i I. . , i .1 ' 'lit nig Tub. Co. 



Photo by H. K. J-b 

GREAT MARBLED GODWIT 
On Saskatchewan prairie 

Amid the rather short dry prairie grass a slight 
hollow is selected, a frail nest of grass con- 
structed, and four large handsome eggs are de- 
posited the latter part of May or early in June. 
The nest is not especially concealed, except by 
the vastness of the surroundings and the blend- 
ing coloration of the brooding bird, who sits 



quite close, so that the nest is found largely by 
accident. One day while driving our team and 
outfit over the trackless prairie, we were startled 
by an almost human scream, as a large brown 
bird fluttered from under the feet of the horses. 
Lucky it was that the nest was not trampled, 
so I was able to take photographs of it. My com- 
panion on the trip, A. C. Bent, afterwards found 
another nest on which the female sat so per- 
sistently that actually he lifted her from it by 
hand without having her make the slightest ef- 
fort to escape. 

When the young are hatched, the birds be- 
come almost as violent and noisy in their dem- 
onstrations as the W'illet. They follow one 
around on the prairie, flying about, alighting 
nearby, and trotting off, ever shrieking that inces- 
sant din of (jod-z^'it, god-zvit, from which I as- 
sume their name may have been derived. On one 
occasion a Godwit followed me nearly all day 
and kept up this screaming, until in the after- 
noon it got so hoarse that its voice would break 
into a sort of gasp or croak, as though it had a 
bad cold. Hence I nicknamed this absurd crea- 
ture my ■' Catarrh-bird." LTnder these circum- 
stances they were so tame that I was able to take 
with a reflecting camera all the photographs of 
them that I needed. 

I'ormerly this species was quite abundant along 
the Atlantic coast on its migrations, whereas 
now it is only an accidental straggler. I have 
seen a few in winter in Louisiana, but most of 
them migrate beyond our borders to warmer 
climes. It is a handsome, interesting species 
which, like nearly all the larger shore birds, is 
in danger of extermination unless the radical 
measures already enacted are rigidly enforced. 

Herbert K. Job. 

The Marbled Godwit is of very real service to 
farmers by reason of the fact that it feeds freely 
upon various species of grasshoppers which are 
verv injurious to crops. It should, therefore, 
receive adequate protection, especially during its 
breedim: season. 



Other Names.— Big Tell-tale 
Tell-tale Godwit; Yellow-shins; Winter Yellow-legs; 
Big Yellow-legs; Big Yellow-legged Plover: Greater 
Yellow-shanks ; Cucu ; Big Cucu ; Long-legged Tattler ; 
Stone-bird ; Stone Snipe ; Yelper. 



GREATER YELLOW-LEGS 
Totanus melanoleucus {Gntcliii) 

A. O. U. \umber 254 See Color Plate 3(1 

Greater Tell-tale; General Description 



Length. 15 inches. Color 
above, hlackish-bmwii : below, white with brown spots on 
breast and neck. Bill longer than head, slender, and 
either straight or with end half very slightly curved 
upward; Irc/s and toes long and slender. 



SNIPES, SANDPIPERS, ETC. 



-^43 



Color. — .Adults: Head. neck, breast, and lower 
parts, white streaked with dusky brown on forehead, 
crown, and back of neck, spotted with arrowhead marks 
on front of neck, breast, and sides: chin, throat, and 
sides of head, with small dusky markings; a conspicu- 
ous white eye-ring with a dusky spot in front ; lores, 
whitish ; u[<l>cr parts from lu'ck, 'u'iny-covcrts. and 
secondaries, blacL'isli-bron'n, each feather broadly edged 
and tipped with lighter, greater coverts and secondaries, 
barred; quills, plain dusky brown; runtp and tail, H'liite, 
the latter narrowly streaked with light brown ; bill, 
greenish-dusky, lighter basully ; tegs, lii/lit chrome 
yello'a: Young : Similar to adults, but lighter above, 



the streaks below limited to the neck and upper breast, 
and tlie legs yclluw. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: A mere depression, usu- 
ally unlined, in the ground. Eggs: 4, grayish or deep 
buff, spotted with rich dark brown and lavender over 
tlie entire surface but more thickly at large end. 

Distribution. — North and South .-Xmerica ; breeds 
from Lake Iliamna, Alaska, and southern Mackenzie to 
soutliern British Columbia, Ungava, Labrador, and 
.■\nticosti Island; winters from soutliern California, 
Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia ( casually North Caro- 
lina) south to Patagonia; occurs in Bermuda in 
migration. 



( )n Hatteras Island, North Carnliiia, about lookout at all times. They watch and listen and 

five miles north of its famous lighthouse, there are first to give the alarm. With shrill cries they 

is, in ordinary seasons, an extended series of leap upon the wing and go flying away, generally 

shallow, grassy beach-ponds. During the month collecting into a company as they proceed. 




Drawing by R. 1. brasliL-i 

GREATER YELLOW-LEGS (J nat. size) 
Easily attracted to decoys, hence a favorite with gunners 



of May, these are inhabited by large numbers 
of shore birds of many kinds. 1 have seen here 
at least ten thousand on the wing at a time when 
disturbed from their feeding by the discharge 
of a .gun. 

.'\mong the feathered squadrons there are 
always many Yellow-legs. \Micn Hudsonian 
Curlews are absent the Greater Yellow-legs is 
the largest bird among them. This gathering 
place at Cape Hatteras is similar to many others 
all up and down the coast. Yellow-legs are the 
sentinels of such assemblies, and keep a sharp 



Sometimes they do not go far, but circle back 
and fly about in the offing, rarely ceasing to call. 
In motion their wing-beats are deliberate, and, 
when approaching others among which they are 
preparing to settle, they ha\-e a way of slowly 
sailing on extended wings that renders them an 
easy shot for the .gunner. 

Yellow-legs are extensively hunted, although 
as food their flesh does not rank so high as some 
others of the Sandpiper family, as for example 
Woodcock and Upland Plovers. They are shot 
chiefly over wooden inodels cut out and painted 



244 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



to represent the bird and stuck up in the mud 
near a shooting blind. To these decoys they 
often come witli Httle hesitation, especially if to 
this deception the hunter adds an additional lure 
by imitating their call with a fair degree of 
accuracy. 

There is a widespread idea that these birds 
appear later in the autumn than the Lesser 
Yellow-legs, so they are much called " Winter 
Yellow-legs.'' "Tattler" and "Tell-tale'' are 
also popular names for this species. The breed- 
ing grounds are mainly north of the United 
States, to which territory they retire in May, but 
by July many individuals are back. In fact, the 
tide of the migration of the Yellow-legs that 
ebbs and flows along our coast and interior 
waterways, seems never to cease, for every 



month in the year they are found in many South- 
ern States. Une reason for this is the fact that 
not all are mated any one season and numbers 
of the unpaired birds do not go north at all. In 
the Gulf States many Greater Yellow-legs pass 
the winter, but the great bulk go farther afield 
and scatter throughout the lands to the south as 
far as Patagonia. 

Their food consists of minnows and such in- 
sects and other small forms of life as are ob- 
tainable in and about tlie water. Where bars 
and mud flats are exposed at low tide, there the 
Yellow-legs are wont to come. Along the shores 
of ponds, lakes, and rivers of the interior they 
are found, and in fact, few, if any, shore birds 
have so extended a range. 

T. GiLBLCRT Pearson. 



YELLOW-LEGS 
Totanus flavipes (Cinclin) 

A. O. U. .Vumber 255 See Color Tlate ,i(. 



Other Names. — Common Yellow-legs ; Lesser Yel- 
low-le.us ; Little Tell-tale; Lesser Tell-tale; Lesser 
Yellow-shanks ; Yellow-legged Plover ; Summer Yellow- 
legs ; Little Yelper; Small Cucu ; Little Stone-bird; 
Little Stone Snipe : Lesser Long-legged Tattler. 

General Description. — Length, ii inches. An exact 
miniature of the Greater Yellow-legs, from which it 
differs only in size. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : A depression in the 
ground under shelter of tuft of grass or bushes, or in 
the open. Ecos : 4, creamy, huffy or clay-color, usu- 
ally boldly marked, splashed, or blotched with burnt 



umber, blackish, and lavender, but sometimes with small 
spots over entire surface. 

Distribution. — North and South America ; breeds 
from Kotzebue Sound, Alaska, northern Mackenzie, 
central Keewatin, and southern Ungava to the valley 
of the upper Yukon, southern Saskatchewan, and 
northern Quebec; winters in Argentina, Chile, and 
Patagonia, and casually in Mexico, Florida, and the 
Bahamas; in migration occurs mainly east of the Rocky 
Mountains (rare in spring on the Atlantic coast) and in 
the Pribilof Islands, Greenland, and Bermuda; acci- 
dental in Great Britain. 






YELLOW-LEGS IN MANITOBA SLOUGH 



a. 




SNIPES, SANDPIPERS, ETC. 



24S 



The Lesser Yellow-legs foniierl\- was one of 
the most numerous of all the shore birds of 
North America, and still holds its numbers bet- 
ter than many other species. 

No longer ago than 1S70 the flocks were quite 
numerous about some of the inland ponds and 
lakes in Massachusetts in August, particularly 
in dry seasons, when the ponds were low. I re- 
member that they were always watchful, but they 
were readily attracted by a whittled imitation 



of their call, and if eyen one was shot out of 
the flock the others hovered about until many 
had paid the |)enalty of their sympathetic con- 
cern. Of late years at those same ponds, a single 
bird or a pair is seen occasionally, but the flocks 
are gone, perhaps never to return. lis habits 
are similar to those of the ( Ireater Yellow-legs, 
and it feeds largely on insects, including ants. 
Edw.\rd Howe Forbusii, in Game Birds, 
]\'ild-I' owl and Slu/rc Birds. 



SOLITARY SANDPIPER 

Helodromas solitarius solitarius ( IJ'ilson) 

\. O V. Xumber 256 See Color Pl.ite ii. 



Other Names. — Green Sandpiper ; .-VniLTican Green 
Sandpiper; Wood Sandpiper; American Wood Sand- 
piper ; Solitary Tattler. 

General Description. — Length, o inclies. Color 
above, dark olive-brown, speckled with white ; below, 
white with dark spots on breast and neck ; the barred 
tail-feathers are very conspicuous in flight. Bill, slender, 
straight, and longer than head. Seldom found else- 
where than near inland lakes and woodland streams. 

Color. — .l/j()7v. dark gli>ssy ollz'e-brozcn streaked 
with whitish on head and neck, elsewhere finely speckled 
with white; upper tail-coverts, whitish, heavily s[)Otted 
with color of back; middle tail-feathers, brownish- 



olive, remainder, lehile. barred icith ? or .f hands of 
olive-dusky : beloze, zohite: breast an<l sides of neck, 
shaded with brownish, streaked and spotted with dusky; 
sides, with some bars of dusky; bill, dusky-greenish; 
legs, dull greenish ; iris, brown, rarely white. 

Distribution. — North and South America ; summers 
from central Keewatin, northern Ungava, and New- 
foundland south to Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, 
and Pennsylvania; probably breeds regularly in the 
northern part of its range, locally and casually in the 
southern part ; winters from the West Indies to Argen- 
tina ; recorded from Greenland, Bermuda, and Great 
Britain. 



That dark and dainty sprite, the Solitary Sand- 
piper, is almost the only Sandpiper of the 
wooded wilderness. It is a bird of mountain, 
forest, hill, and plain, but is rarcl\-, if ever, seen 
on the sandy beaches of the sea, where other 
Sandpipers play. It is not so solitary as its name 
would imply but it frequents solitary places 
where other Sandpipers seldom or never aj)pear. 
It is seen singly or in small scattered companies 
of a few individuals about mountain lakes or 
.streams, near little ponds, ditches, or muddy, 
stagnant jjooIs, almost anywhere throughciut its 
range, and even occasionally on tidal streams 
and in salt marshes. At times it frequents the 
same feeding ground with Yellow-legs or Spotted 
Sandpipers, but may be distinguished from the 
former by its much smaller size and dark legs 
and from the latter by the great quantity of 
white on its spread tail and its darker upper 
parts. Its notes, pccl-wcct. pcct-Tccct, are very 
similar to those of the Spotted .Sandpii)er and it 
has the same habit of nodding or bowing its head 
but its hinder parts are not quite as active and 
expressive as are those of its spotted congener. 



There is some uncertainty about our knowl- 
edge of the breeding habits of this bird. It has 
been reported as nesting on high mountain-^, on 
the ground, in the nests of other birds, and in 
hollow trees, all of which may be true, but at 
the present time we have little reliable data re- 
garding its home life. In the lireeding season 
it is seen singly or more rarely in pairs and then 
it is known to alight upon the tree-tops and to 
emit a rather weak and ineffective flight song. 
It is graceful and elegant, moves lightly and easily 
and flies swiftly and often u ildlw erratically, and 
high in the air like a Snipe. When the ponds 
and lakes are low during a long drought in Au- 
gust or September, the Solitary Sandpiper may 
be seen along the exposed mud flats and sand- 
bars, often going into the water up to its belly. 
In the autumn it has a habit of wading in stag- 
nant ditches and stirring up the bottom by ad- 
vancing one foot and shaking it rapidly. This is 
done so delicately that it does not roil the water, 
but it starts from their hiding places the minute 
organisms that lie concealed there, and the bird, 
plunging in its bill and head, often clear to the 



?46 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



eyes, catches them deftly as they flee from the 
disturbance. This bird seems to feed very largely 
on aquatic insects, small mollusks, etc., but it 
destroys grasshoppers, moths, and other destruc- 
tive land insects, some of which it pursues and 
catches easily on the wing. 

Edward Howe Forbush. 



The Western, or Cinnamon, Solitary Sandpiper 
(Hclodroiiias solitariiis cinuainomciis) is not al- 
ways distinguishable from the eastern Solitary 
Sandpiper. It averages larger and the spots on 
the upper parts are or approach a -cinnamon 
brown. It occurs in western North and South 
.\merica, breeding north of the United States. 



WILLET 

Catoptrophorus semipalmatus semipalmatus 

.\. O. U. Number 258 See Color Plate ^y 

Other Names. — Semipalmated Snipe; Spanish 
Plover; Stone Curlew; Duck Snipe; WiU-willet ; Pill- 
will-willet ; Bill-willy; Humility; Pied-wing Curlew. 

General Description. — Length, 16 inches. Color, 
gray, light below and dark above, with dark markings; 
a good deal of white on wings, and the rump and 
upper tail-coverts white. Bill, slender, straight, and 
longer than head ; toes, webbed at base. 

Color. — Adults in Sum.mer: General color, ashy, 
lighter below; crown and back of neck streaked with 
dusky; shoulders and back with spots and specks of 
the same color; rump, upper tail-covcrts, and tail, white, 
the tail barred with narrow traverse streaks of brown; 
primaries, dusky-brown with a large zi'Iiite space at base, 
this color invading secondaries ; primaries beneath, 
blackish, the white showing two conspicuous areas in 
flight ; lores, whitish ; a dusky streak from bill to eye ; 
throat, narrowly streaked ; breast and sides, thickly 



( Cniclin ) 



marked, with narrow traverse arrowhead bars ; bill, 
bluish-horn, blackening toward tip; legs, pale lavender; 
iris, brown. .Adults in Winter: Above, light ashy 
with a tinge of brown, with little or no darker marking ; 
upper tail-coverts, white ; wing, similar to summer 
plumage ; below, pale ashy or white shaded with gray on 
breast and sides; sides of head, pale brown; bill, paler 
than in summer ; a white eye-ring. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: In a tussock of grass or 
weeds, close to the water, in fresh- or salt-water 
marshes ; a carelessly built structure of small reeds and 
grass. Eggs : 4, greenish-white or dark brownish-olive, 
boldly marked with spots in various shades of brown 
and lavender. 

Distribution. — North and South America ; breeds 
from Virginia ( formerly Nova Scotia) south to Florida 
and the Bahamas ; winters from the Bahamas to Brazil 
and Peru ; accidental in Bermuda and Europe. 



; / !/ 





^ //'■ 



-h 



W- 








Drawing by R. I. Brasher 



WILLET {\ nat. size) 
A noisy, self-assertive bird 



SNIPES, SANDPIPERS, ETC. 



?47 



Here is a noisy, self-assertive bird, if there 
ever was one. W'illet life, literally, is a perfect 
" scream." And vet this forward creature has 
been nicknamed "Humility," because it probes 
for worms in the humble mud in the intervals 
between the periods when it lifts up the voice 
on high. Constitutionally, the bird seems un- 
able to keep its mouth shut, as thouijh it had 
blown oft the safety val\e and was compelled 
to keep going, from sheer inability to stop, with 
a compelling motor ])Ower behind. Its relatives, 
the two species of Yellow-legs, have somewhat 
the same incjuisitixe and assertive dispositions, 
though a])parently in lesser degree. Gunners 
have frequently lodged complaint that the noisy 
\\'illet warns away their game. 

The acme of its fantastic performance comes 
during the nesting season, particularly when the 
young are abroad. Then as long as one is minded 
to remain on the marsh, the birds, fairly beside 
themselves, fly about yeljiing and screaming. (3n 
Smith's Tsland, Va., I watched one, perched on 
the dead fork of a bush out on a broad marsh. 
With absolute mechanical precision, for a quarter 
of an hour at a stretch, with hardly an ajiparent 
pause to get breath, the bill would open and 
shut, like clock work, to the tune of yip, yip, yip, 
and so on, rapidlv reiterated. When it took to 
wing it would start up its pi!l-ii'il!i't cries. 

Usually the nest is hard to tind. I have 
watched the birds on the marshes of the southern 
coast and by the sloughs on western prairies, but 
never had the luck to locate a nest till about May 
lO, 1904, when I was on a cruise along the coast 
of South Carolina. We landed on an unin- 
habited island, mostly marsh, but with a beach 
in front, backed by a narrow ridge of sand be- 
tween beach and marsh. Clumps of coarse beach 
grass grew all along this ridge, and from nearly 
every other clump, as we advanced, a Willet 
sprang from her four large dark mottled eggs, 
until on that (jne island we had examined over 
fifty nests. These were frail structures of dry 
grass, lining hollows scratched in the sand under 
the grass clumps. 



It necil not be assumed from this that the 
Willet is an abundant bird, for it is another of 
our rapidly " vanishing shore birds." Formerlv 
it was common along our .\tlantic coast, l)Ut 
now the sight of one is a rarity. 

During the fall migration, it is seen casu.illv 
in nuiddy sloughs or on the flats and marshes of 
the sea-coast more reserved than is its wont, as 




Photo by H. K. Job Courtesy of Houghton MifHln Co. 

WILLET ON NEST 

though sobered by the thought of exile from 
the fields of its vocal exploits. During winter 
it is absent on its annual junket to varied south- 
ern scenes as far remote as Brazil and Peru. 

IlEUnKRT K. J(ili. 

The Western Willet (Catoptrophorus scinipal- 
inatits inornatns) dift'ers from the eastern Willet 
in larger size and in shades of color, but its 
general appearance and habits are the same. This 
geographical variety breeds from central Ore- 
gon, southern .\lberta, and southern .Manitoba, 
south to northern California, central Colorado, 
southern South Dakota, and northern Iowa, and 
on the coasts of Texas and Louisiana : in winter 
it occurs from central California, Texas, Louis- 
iana, and the Gulf coast of Florida to Mexico 
and Lower California. It is sometimes found in 
the Atlantic State during migration. 



UPLAND PLOVER 
Bartramia longicauda ( Bcchstcin ) 

.\. O. U. Number 261 .See Color Plate 37 

Other Names.— Bartramian Sandpiper: Bartram's Pasture Plover ; Grass Plover ; Prairie Plover ; Prairie 
Saiuliiiper; Bartram's Plover: Upland .Sandpiper; Up- Pigeon; Prairie Snipe: Papabotte ; Quaily. 

Highland Plover ; General Description. — Length, 12 inches. Color 



lander ; Hill-hird ; Field Plovt 



248 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



above, blackish-brown ; below, grayish-white. Rill, 
shorter titan head: iiapc. uudr: neck, long: tail, long 
and graduated: outer and middle toes webbed at base; 
inner toe free. Found maiidy in pastures and old fields 
away from water, even at the sea-shore. 

Color. — Above, blackish-brown, all feathers edged 
with tawny or whitish, the brown prevailing on crown 
and back, the lighter edgings of latter producing a 
streaked effect ; on long inner secondaries, the dark 
color mere small bars ; wing-coverts marked with 
whitish; primaries, dusky, outer one barred unth while: 
rump and upper tail-coverts, plain brownish-black ; 
middle tail-feathers, dark brown with rufous edges and 
irregularly barred ; rest of tail-feathers, orange-brown 
with numerous broken bars or spots of black and a sub- 
terminal black bar ; line over eye and under parts, 
grayish-white, tinged with yellowish-brown on breast 



and sides of head; breast and sides, with each feather 
marked by a brownish arrowhead-shaped spot ; bill, 
yellowish-green, dusky at tip; legs, yellowish-olive; 
iris, brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: A slight depression in open 
dry prairies, lined or not with grass. Encs : 4, pale 
huffy or cream, spotted with dark brown and lav- 
ender. 

Distribution. — North and South America ; breeds 
from northwestern ."Alaska, southern Mackenzie, cen- 
tral Keewatin, central Wisconsin, southern Michigan, 
southern Ontario, and southern Maine to southern 
Oregon, northern Utah, central Oklahoma, southern 
Missouri, southern Indiana, and northern Virginia; 
winters on the pampas of South America to Argentina; 
in migration occurs north to Newfoundland and in 
Europe ; accidental in Australia. 



My early recollections of the Upland Plover, 
once a familiar ganie bird, are of open rolling 
grassy tracts on Cape Cod, Mass., interspersed 
with patches of bayberry bushes, in late July 
and August, and some very shy brown birds 
that, despite most of iny attempts to stalk them, 
would rise wildly well out of gunshot and with 
shrill cries fly on to the next hillside, alighting 
and watching in an erect attitude, their heads 
projecting from the short sparse grass. 

Upland Plover shooting is now becoming a 
thing of the past, under the protection of Fed- 
eral Law. This is as it should be, for here we 
have another species which is in great danger 
of extermination. Little by little, both through 
excessive shooting and by the destruction of 
nests in cultivated areas, it has been growing 
more and more scarce. Once it was a common 
bird in the Eastern States, but now only an occa- 
sional lone pair is found there. The grassy 
prairies of the Northwest are now its principal 
breeding ground, but owing to their increased 
reclamation for agricultural purposes, it is being 
further pushed out. This is a lamentable declen- 
sion from the days when in New England it was 
comparable in abundance to the Meadowlark, 
and pairs were nesting in nearly every field. 

Classing it as a " shore bird," is only on the 
basis of structure and relationship, for other- 
wise there is no bird which is less fond of the 
vicinity of water. Its haunts are dry grassy 
fields, where it lives chiefly on insects injurious 
to the fields, such as cutworms and grasshoppers. 
Here is where it nests, the last of May and early 
June. The female sits closely, and on the prai- 
ries of North Dakota, Manitoba, and Saskatche- 
wan I have found nests only by flushing the 
brooding bird, which allows one almost to step 
upon her before she will leave. The nest is in 
rather thick bunches of prairie grass, a simple 



affair of dry grass leaves. Four is the invariable 
number of eggs which I have found. The bird 
is almost exactly the color of dead grass, and 
even when the nest has been found and revisited, 
it is astonishing how hard it is to discern the 
brooding bird. In one case she allowed me to 
open by hand the grass which covered her, set 
up the camera and photograph her within two 
feet of the lens. Shy as the birds become under 
persecution, they are gentle in nesting time. On 
the western prairies they are much less shy than 
in the East. 

As soon as the young are able to fly, in July, 
they all begin to migrate south, and most of them 
are gone before August is far advanced. This 
was the reason why the older laws allowed Up- 
land Plover shooting in July. In the sumiuer 
of 191 2 I was in Manitoba. At the opening of 
this early hunting season, a gunner came out 
near our camp and shot nearly forty LTpland 
Plovers, while his boy picked up little downy 
chicks and carried them in his pocket. I reported 
this to the head authorities, who are excellent 
conservationists, and the law was changed. It 
will need the best of care, by every State and 
Province, and the cooperation of public senti- 
ment, to save from extinction this beautiful and 
valuable species. Herbert K. Job. 

The investigations of the Government biolo- 
gist show that the Upland Plover is naturally 
an industrious destroyer of many different spe- 
cies of noxious insects. There can be no doubt 
that the bird feeds upon the highly destructive 
locust, and also upon grasshoppers, the clover- 
root curculio. bill-bugs (which destroy much 
corn), crawfish, which are a pest in corn and 
rice fields and also weaken levees by their bur- 
rowing, and various grubs which damage garden 
truck, corn, and cotton crops. 



SNIPES, SANDPIPERS, ETC. 



249 



BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER 

Tryngites subruficollis (I'iciUot) 

A. O U. Number .;o;; See (. ulor I'late j; 



Other Name. — llill Grass-bird. 

General Description. — Length, 8 inches. Color 
below, buff; abovo. dusky brown. Bill shorter than 
head, slender, hard at tip ; gape wide ; tail rounded, 
central feathers projecting; toes not i\'cbbcd. Prefers 
dry upland fields and is rarely seen on the shore. 

Color. — .\dults i.m Summer: .-Xbove, dusky-brown, 
finely streaked on head with pale yellowish-buff, 
this streaking running down back of neck to feathers of 
back and shoulders which are edged and tipped with 
tawny ; primaries, secondaries, and coverts, grayish- 
brown, the last two with lighter edges; inner U'cbs of 
primaries and both Zi'ebs of secondaries, pearly wliite 
marbled zcith black: lores, sides of head to above eye, 
throat, breast, and all under parts, plain buff unmarked 
e.xcept by a few brownish spots on side and chest; 



central tail-feathers, brown; others, rufous with a sub- 
terminal dusky bar; bill, dusky; legs, dusky-greenish; 
iris, brown. Adults i.\' Winter: The broad edgings of 
feathers above, narrowed to whitish semi-circles ; under 
parts, whiter ; wing and tail, as in summer. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : A depression in the ground, 
sparsely lined with grass and withered leaves. Eggs : 
4, grayish or pale olive-buff, sharply spotted with rich 
burnt umber. 

Distribution. — North and South America; breeds 
along the .Arctic coast from northern Alaska to north- 
ern Keewatin ; winters in -Argentina and Uruguay ; 
most abundant in migration in the Mississippi valley; 
occasional on the -Atlantic coast in fall ; casual on the 
Pacific coast north to St. Michael. Alaska, and to north- 
eastern Siberia ; straggles to I!ermuda and Europe. 



The Buff-breasted Sandpiper is rather a rare 
bird upon the Atlantic coast, and possibly always 
has been, as it breeds in northern Alaska and 
its main migration mute does not touch the .•\t- 
lantic coast. 

Formerly it was very abundant in Texas, and 
still is common there, but decreasing. The re- 
ports of its decrease in the West are very impres- 
sive. Apparently it is on the way to extinction. 

It is usually a very gentle and confiding bird 



and pays little attention to the hunter. It is 
valuable as an insect eater, particularlv in the 
West, but in its pursuit this fact is overlooked 
and its food value only is considered. Doctor 
Hatch found it living upon crickets, grasshop- 
pers, ants and their " eggs,'' and other insects, 
and on minute mollusks taken from the shores 
of shallow ponds in the warmest part of the dav. 
Edward Howe Forbush, in Gawc Birds. 
IVild-Fo-a'! and Shore Birds. 



SPOTTED SANDPIPER 
Actitis macularia (Linncriis) 

A. O, U. .\umber 263 See Color i'late .ih 



Other Names. — Peep ; Peetweet ; Teeter-peep ; 
Teeter-tail; Teeterer ; Tip-up; Tilt-up; Sand Lark; 
See-saw ; Sand-peep ; Sand Snipe ; River Snipe. 

General Description. — Length, 7 inches. Color 
above, ashy-olive; under parts pure white, unspotted in 
winter, but in summer with round black spots. Bill 
straight, slender, and about as long as head ; outer and 
middle toes, webbed at base ; inner toes, free ; tail, 
rounded and half as long as wing. This is the only 
Sandpiper which has large and distinct spots on its 
under parts ; it nearly always teeters when alarmed ; 
and in flight shows a white line on the wings. Found 
most often near streams and ponds. 

Color. — .Adults in Summer: Crown and upper 
parts, including wings, soft ashy-olive, finely varied 
with dusky, in streaks on head and neck, elsewhere in 
wavy irregular crossbars; line from bill to eye and 
back of it, olive-dusky ; a line over eye and entire under 
parts, pure white; under parts, as far as under tail- 
coverts, ivith numerous sharp, circular black spots, more 



crowded on the female; primaries and secondaries, 
brownish-black, largely zi'hite at base, not showing in 
folded wing; feet, grayish flesh color; bill, flesh color 
with black tip ; iris, brown surrounded with a white 
ring. Adults in Winter, and Young: -As in summer, 
but without marking above or below ; breast, slightly 
grayish and wing-coverts more strongly outlined with 
lighter. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : A depression in the ground 
in the vicinity of water; rather well constructed of 
grass, leaves, and weed stems. Eggs: 4, creamy, buffy, 
or Krayish, blotched with blackish and purplish-gray. 

Distribution. — North and South America ; breeds 
from tree limit in northwestern .Alaska, northern Mac- 
kenzie, central Keewatin. northern Ungava. and New- 
foundland south to southern California. -Arizona, south- 
ern Texas, southern Louisiana, and northern South 
Carolina; winters from California. Louisiana, and 
South Carolina to southern Brazil and central Peru; 
straggles to Great Britain and Helgoland. 



250 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



Probably there is no sliore bird more widely 
and intimately known all over the country than 
the Spotted Sandpiper, which is popularly nick- 




Photo by S. A. Lottridge 

NEST AND EGGS OF SPOTTED SANDPIPER 

named " Teeter " or " Tip-up," from its nervou> 
habit of constantly tilting its body, and " Peet- 
weet '' from its notes. As typically seen, it runs 
along the shore of a pond or stream, stops and 
wags its head and body up and down several 
times, then runs again, and, if further ap- 
proached, flies out over the water with a pecu- 
liar quivering flight, the wings being held straight 
out, with alternations of quivering downward 
beats and brief intervals of soaring. Usuallv it 
circles back and alights not far from the same 
place. It is not by any means, however, con- 
fined to the vicinity of open water, but is often 
seen in meadows, and even on dry uplands, par- 
ticularly in cultivated fields where crops are 
growing. 

Most shore birds breed far to the north, but 
here is one species which is remarkably impar- 
tial in its topography. Though it breeds in north- 
ern Alaska, it also does so nearlv all ovev the 
United States, even down on the Gulf of Mexico, 
alike on seaboard and interior. In this praise- 
worthy originality it is entirely unique, surpass- 
ing even the Robin, which does not breed so far 
south. 

In the northern States I have usually found 
fresh eggs during the last week of May. gener- 
ally four in number. The nest may be found in 



many sorts of situations. Probably that most 
preferred is just up from the shore of a pond 
or stream, under a bunch of grass or a clump 
of weeds. Usually nests are quite well hidden, 
but I have seen them easily visible, under sparse 
weeds on open gravelly shore. How'ever, they 
are often placed quite a distance from water, in 
pastures or among crops, quite often in fields of 
corn or potatoes. 

Some shore birds " act up " to draw away in- 
truders from their nests, when these are being 
approached. The Spotted Sandpiper makes no 
such attempt until after being flushed, when both 
birds appear and run about anxiously. 

The female is a close sitter, and discloses her 
secret by fluttering out when closely approached. 
Owing to this habit, I have inspected dozens of 
nests, whereas, if the bird would discreetly with- 
draw, the well-hidden nest would seldom be 
found, except when placed in cultivated fields. 




Photo by H. K. Job 

SPOTTED SANDPIPER ON NEST 

Some of these birds winter on our southern 
coasts, but the majority pass on further, pene- 
trating into Brazil and Peru. Herbert K. Job. 



SNIPES, SANDPIPERS, ETC. 



251 



LONG-BILLED CURLEW 

Numenius americanus Bcchstchi 

A. O, U. Number 21.4 Sec Lu.o. I'late .!» 



Other Names. — Big Curlew; Hen Curlew; Old Hen 
Curlew; Sickle-bill; Sickle-billed Curlew; Sabre-bill; 
Smoker. 

General Description. — Length. 26 inches. Prevail- 
ing color red, darker above than below. Its appearance 
is similar to that of the Marbled Godwit. but it is 
easily distinguishable from the latter by its longer and 
curved bill, the upper section of which is longer than 
the lower and slightly knobbed at the tip. Toes, webbed 
at base. 

Color. — Crown, rufous-brown with blackish streaks; 
back and shoulders, brownish-black varied with cin- 
namon-brown, each feather having several indenta- 
tions of this color; wing-coverts, with more rufous and 
whitish ; secondaries and tail-feathers, pale brownish 
barred with dusky; inner primaries, rufous-brown, 
changing to dusky on outer ones ; entire under parts, 
varying from yellowish-brown to rufous, usually deep- 



ening to chestnut under wings and fading to whitish on 
throat and sides of head; breast, with dusky streaks 
tending to arrowheads ; bill, dusky above, pale flesh- 
color below ; legs, bluish-gray. Very constant in 
plumage irrespective of age, sex. or season. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: A grass-lined depression in 
the ground on open prairies. Eggs: 3 or 4, pale bufify 
to grayish-buff, spotted with darker brown and lavender. 

Distribution. — North America; breeds from central 
British Columl>ia, southern Saskatchewan, and Manitoba 
to northeastern California, northern New Me.xico, and 
northwestern Texas; winters from central California 
and southern Arizona south to Guatemala, and on the 
Atlantic coast from South Carolina to Florida, Louisi- 
ana, and Texas; formerly a regular migrant north to 
Massachusetts and rarely to Newfoundland, now a 
straggler east of the Mississippi, north of Florida; 
casual in the West Indies. 



From being an abundant species on the south 
Atlantic coast a century ago, this interesting, 
spectacular species, the Long-billed Curlew, is 
now almost unknown in the eastern United 
States. The only time I ever saw it in the East 
was about 1886, in x\ugust, over the marshes of 
Marshfield, Mass., when I saw a single wedge- 
shaped flock of these great birds with absurdly 
long down-curved bills. Audubon found them 
coming to roost at night by thousands, on Nov- 
ember 10, 1S31, on an island off the coast 01 
South Carolina. Seeing that, in May, 1904, prob- 
ably on the same island, I saw some ten thousand 
Hudsonian Curlews come to roost at dusk, I 
could not but wonder if he could have been mis- 
taken in the species. At any rate, where it was 
once well known it is now unknown. The spe- 
cies is in real danger of extinction, and it is well 
that the Federal Law now places them under 
absolute protection. 

My personal experience with this great Curlev.- 
has been chieflv in summer, in the nesting sea- 
son, on the prairies of Saskatchewan. Evidently 
it is gradually disappearing, for during extended 
explorations in North Dakota, from May to 
October, I failed to see a single one. \'arious 
settlers told me that it had been common in " the 
eighties '' and previously, but that it had since 
become rare. It seems to prefer those prairie 
regions where the soil has an alkaline tinge and 
the sloughs are surrounded by the typical bare 
alkaline flats. In such regions in Saskatchewan 




(. i..urlLS> ul S. A. Lottridge 

LONG-BILLED CURLEW 

This interesting species is now almost unknown in the eastern 
United States 



252 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



I found them in scattered pairs. Conspicuous 
in size, they also make themselves so by their 
reiterated loud, high-pitched, trilling cries, es- 
pecially when they have young or eggs in 
the vicinity. They are shyer than the Marbled 
Godwits which share with them these alkaline 
plains. 




Photo by H. K. Job Courtesy of Outing Pub. Co. 

YOUNG LONG-BILLED CURLEWS 

The nest is a simple hollow in the prairie, amid 
rather sparse grass, lined with dry stems. Three 
or four very large eggs make the usual comple- 
ment. It is hard to find, as the male bird gives 
the alarm when an intruder approaches, and the 
female joins him. Perhaps they become some- 



what accustomed to the cowboys who ride around 
after the cattle, since all of the nests which I 
knew about were discovered by cowboys on 
horseback through flushing the bird from the 
nest. Though the anxious parents are in evi- 
dence, flying or trotting about at a distance and 
whistling, they give no definite clue as to the 
direction in which the chosen spot is located. 

One evening at sundown after a fortv mile 
drive over the plains, we were approaching a 
ranch, in rolling prairie country, when we noticed 
two birds squatting together in the short grass. 
They proved to be young of this species, quite 
large, yet still in the downy stage, very pretty and 
interesting. There was just enough light to take 
photographs of them by time-exposures. Mean- 
while the parents were flying about, swooping 
angrily past us at close range, screaming most 
vociferously. Altogether it was a spectacle 
which I would not have missed for a good deal. 

Herbert K. job. 

The Long-billed Curlew is evidently a per- 
sistent eater of the highly injurious locust, as is 
shown by the fact that ten stomachs of the bird 
were found by Government experts to contain 
forty-eight locusts each. This would be sufficient 
reason for giving it a place among the birds of 
great economic value to man. But the bird's 
usefulness does not stop here, for it is known to 
feed freely also upon various injurious grass- 
hoppers, and it is more than likely that its diet 
includes other noxious insects, so that its useful- 
ness is beyond cjuestion of a doubt. 



HUDSONIAN CURLEW 

Numenius hudsonicus Latham 

A. O. U. Xumber 265 See Color Plate 38 



Other Names. — Jack Curlew; Jack: Striped-head; 
Crooked-billed Marlin ; .American Whimbrel ; Short- 
billed Curlew. 

General Description. — Length. 18 inches. Can be 
distinguished from young Long-billed Curlews only at 
close range. 

Color. — Top of head, nnifonn blackish-brown zvith 
zvell-dcfincd zchitish central and side stripes; a dis- 
tinct streak of dusky from bill through and behind 
eye and a pronounced broad whitish streak above it; 
upper parts, blackish-brown variegated with white, 
ocher, or pale brown in the same pattern as the Long- 
billed Curlew but tone less rufous ; primaries and their 
coverts, dusky, the former brol^cn-barred zvith paler: 
tail, ashy-brown with a number of narrow blackish 
bars ; beneath, very pale brownish-white ; breast, with 



dusky streaks changing to arrowheads or broken bars 
on sides ; bill, dusky, yellowish below for about one- 
third its length, darkest at tip: feet, grayish-blue; 
iris, dark brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — \est : Like that of Long-billed 
Curlew. Eggs: 4. creamy to pale olive-gray, boldly 
marked with shades of umber-brown. 

Distribution. — North and South America : breeds on 
the coast of Alaska from mouth of Yukon to Kotzebue 
Sound, and on the coast of northern Mackenzie; winters 
from Lower California to southern Honduras, from 
Ecuador to southern Chile, and from British Guiana to 
mouth of the Amazon; migrates mainly along the 
Pacific and .Atlantic coasts : rare in the interior ; casual 
on the Pribilof Islands and in Greenland and Bermuda; 
accidental in Spain. 



00 
m 




SNIPES, SANDPIPERS, ETC. 



253 



\\ hv should the Inni,'. slender bills of the Cur- 
lew and the Ibis he bent downward? ( )ne mi^bt 
as well ask why the similar bills of the (lodwit 
and the Avocet should be bent ujiward and those 
of the Woodcock and the Snipe remain almost 
straight. These questions never have been satis- 
factorily answered. They remain amonsj the 
fascinating' problems of ornitholoL,fy yet to be 
solved. 

The Hudsonian Curlew, or Jack Curlew, as it 



August and reach their maximum numbers there 
late in the month. 

When feeding they usually scatter about over 
the ground, moving slowly and sedately, except 
when in pursuit of some particularly lively 
prey. Berries they pick from the bushes with 
their bills. Thev feed in fields where grass- 
hoppers abound and in blueberry patches. Along 
the coasts, where the species is most common, 
the flocks frequent flats, beaches and low grassy 




Drawinfj by R. I. Brasher 

HUDSONIAN CURLEW ij nat. size) 
It is extremely shy and difficult to stalk 



is commonly called l>v gunners, is an illustration 
of the Darwinian theory. It has survived, while 
other species have disappeared, because it was 
fitter — better able to avoid the hunter. No bird 
is more exposed to persecution, as it migrates the 
entire length of North and South America, from 
the Arctic Ocean to the Straits of Magellan, but 
it frequents j)Iaces rather remote from the centers 
of civilization, breeds in the Far North, is ex- 
tremely shy and difficult to stalk, and so perpet- 
uates its race. 

The main lines of its migratii)n are down the 
east and west shores of both continents but there 
is also a scattering flight through the interior. 
Little is known al>out the liird's breeding habits 
but as soon as the young are grown the slow 
migration begins. The main flight moves from 
the west coast of Hudson Ray to the .shores of 
New England and southward. The birds appear 
on the islands of the St. Lawrence River earlv in 



hills not far from the sea. When flying to or 
from their feeding grounds they usually pass 
about thirty yards high, except on windy days, 
when they fly close to the ground or water. In 
New England they feed at the edge of the water 
or wade in shallow pools picking up their food 
with the head apparently held sidewise. Fiddler 
crabs and the large gray sand spiders form an 
important part of tlieir diet. These Curlews 
also consume June bugs and other beetles 
and some worms. They are sometimes seen 
singly, flving and circling high in air, and occa- 
sionally a small flock is noted migrating like a 
flock of Geese or Ducks. Formery they were 
numerous on Cape Cod and Nantucket, but 
now-a-days most of them pass out to sea, though 
manv stili visit the marshes of the Carolinas. In 
sjjring thev have a soft, rather mournful call. 
cnr-lnv, and the alarm note is pil^-pip-pip-pip. 
Edw.xrd Howe Forbush. 



254 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 




Courltsy of Recreation 



mroSONIAN CURLEW 



ESKIMO CURLEW 
Numenius borealis (J. K. I-'nrster) 

A. O U. Number 266 See Color Plate 38 



Other Names. — Fute ; Dough- or Doe-bird ; Little 
Curlew ; Prairie Pigeon. 

General Description. — Length, 15 inches. Color like 
that of the Hudsonian Curlew, but more reddish. Bill 
slender, curved, and about twice the length of head; 
toes, webbed at base. 

Color. — Upper parts, brownish-black variegated 
with pale cinnamon-brown; crown, without central 
light line: streak over eye of whitish; under parts, 
tawny ocher to whitish, marked everywhere with dusky 
streaks, bars, or arrowhead spots, these markings very 



numerous except on chin ; bill, black, paler at base 
below; feet, lead-gray; iris, brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : Usually on the open plains ; 
a mere depression in the ground, lined with a few dry 
leaves or grass. Eggs: 4, ground color variable, from 
pale green, gray, or brown to olive-drab, with numerous 
bold markings of sepia and umber-brown, more 
crowded around large end. 

Distribution. — North and South America ; breeds on 
the Barren Grounds of northern Mackenzie; winters in 
.Argentina and Patagonia; now nearly extinct. 



It is a great pity that we must speak of the 
Eskimo Curlew in tlie past tense. Its disappear- 
ance is but another tribute to the effectiveness of 
modern fire-arms and the short-sighted selfish- 
ness of the average American hunter. In the 
seventies and early eighties Eskimo Curlews in 
countless numbers came annually to the coast of 
Massachusetts and earlierwriters mention themas 
being very plentiful in the Carolinas. Their sum- 
mer home was in the Barren Grounds and other 



regions in the northern part of North .'\merica. 
In autumn they collected in Newfoundland in 
enormous flocks. One observer declares that 
they came in millions that darkened the sky. 
After following down the coast to Nova Scotia 
they launched out over the ocean for South 
America, and many of them never sighted land 
until they reached the West India Islands. 
Whether during this long journey they ever 
rested on the water, or whether they continued 



PLOVERS 



255 



tlieir voyage without pause, is not known. Autumn 
gales, however, diverted many of them from their 
course and they landed on the Bermuda Islands 
as well as along the coast of the northern States. 
Tens of thousands thus came to the islands and 
beaches of New England where, according to 
Forbush, they were mercilessly shot for food. 
Because at this season they were always ex- 
tremely fat they were known generally as 
" Dough-birds." 

After reaching South America the Curlews 
proceeded southward, spreading out over the 
continent as far as Patagonia. Here they passed 
the winter. In March and April the great flights 
would appear on the shores of those States bor- 
dering on the Gulf of ^Mexico. Passing a gant- 
let of gun-fire the survivors journeyed up the 
Mississippi valley to northern Canada, and so 
on to their breeding grounds. It will thus be 
seen that their migratiiins were among the most 
extensive of any undertaken by our North 
American birds. 



Since 1900 perhaps a dozen specimens have 
come to the attention of ornithologists — all 
dead birds — and it is of course ))0ssible that a 
few mav ^till exist. But the great flocks are gone 
and the species is doomed. 

Like all the Curlews this bird was an inhab- 
itant of regions where water abounds. Along 
the coast they fed in the beach-pools and marshes 
but not generally on the sandy beaches so com- 
monly frequented by Sandpipers and some of the 
Plovers. 

In the spring and summer their great joy was 
to wade in the ponds, sloughs, and shallow, 
grassy lakes of the interior. They were of no 
special economic \a.\ue to the farming interests 
of the country, for they did not feed on insects 
injurious to crops, but they were of much value 
as a food product, and with proper laws enforced 
for their conservation the great flocks might 
have been spared indefinitely for the pleasure 
and benefit of mankind. 

T. GiLHKKT Pe.\KSON. 



PLOVERS 

Order Liniicolcc ; family Cliaradriidcc 

HE Plovers comprise the family ( liaradriidcc of the order of Shore Birds and 
include about seventy-five species of comparatively small birds, which, dttring 
the breeding season, have a cosmospolitan distribution. The birds generally 
are migratory aiid they are likely to cover great distances in their journeys 
between their summer and winter homes, this being particularly true of the 
Golden Plover. Eight species occur m North America. Externally the 
Plovers differ markedly from the Snipes in having a comparatively short and 
pigeon-like bill, which is hardened and somew^hat swollen at the end, and is 
ill-adapted for probing in mud or soft sand, and they must, of necessity, feed 
from the surface. For this reason, also. Plovers are often found feeding in 
the dry uplands not frequented by the Snipe. Furthermore, in the Plovers the 
1 )ody is relatively shorter and plumper than in the vSnipes, and the neck is much shorter and 
thicker. Plovers' w'ings are long and pointed, and, except in a few species, when folded 
extend to or beyond the end of the tail, which is comparatively short, generally rounded, and 
consists of twelve feathers. Their ])lumage varies greatly, and iri some species shows con- 
siderable seasonal changes. 

They nest on the ground and lay usually four eggs, which are marked or spotted with 
dark colors in a manner that makes them hard to detect among the pebbles by which they 
are likely to be surrounded. But one brood is raised in a season. The yoting w-hen hatched 
are covered with soft buff or grayish down, spotted with blackish. Whether or not the 
chicks know that these colors are protective, it is certain that they lie very still among the 
pebbles and grass when an intruder approaches, and therefore may easily be overlooked. 
Plovers' voices usually are mellow, piping whistles which have singular carrying power. 
\"nl.. I — 18 




256 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER 
Squatarola squatarola {Liinurus) 

A. O. U. Xumber 270 See Color I'late jg 



Other Names. — Black-breast ; Black-breasted Plover ; 
Bull-head ; Bull-head Plover ; Beetle-head ; Bottle-head ; 
Chuckle-head; Hollow-head; Owl-head; Whistling 
Plover; Whistling Field Plover; Pilot; May Cock; 
Swiss Plover; Ox-eye; Four-toed Plover; Gump; Gray 
Plover (autumn); Mud Plover; Pale-belly (young). 

General Description. — Length, 12 inches. In sum- 
mer, upper parts black and white, lower parts black ; in 
winter, whitish all over but tinged with brown above. 
Four toes, but hind toe very small ; outer and middle 
toes webbed at base ; bill rather short. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Forehead, crozvn, 
sides of head to upper level of eye, back of neck, and 
sides of same, pure zvhile with a few dusky spots on 
nape and center of neck; rest of upper parts, including 
coverts, shoulders, and inner secondaries, white, each 
feather with a small exposed dusky area, these form- 
ing bars on the inner secondaries ; tail and upper 
coverts, barred with dusky ; betoiv, including lores, 
chin, throat, part of side of head, breast, and abdomen, 
pure blackish-brown; under tail-coverts, white; pri- 
maries, dark brown blackening at ends ivith large zvhite 
areas at base ; bill and feet, dusky-gray ; eye, remark- 
ably large and lustrous, deep brown. Adults in 
Winter: Ground color all over, whitish; upper parts, 



tinged with pale brown ; crown, yellowish streaked with 
dusky ; sides of head, back of neck, throat, and breast, 
finely streaked with brownish ; feathers of back, of 
wing-coverts, and of inner secondaries, with wedge- 
shaped dusky centers ; rest of under parts, unmarked, 
thus showing none of the black area so conspicuous in 
summer ; bill, feet, and eye as in summer ; intermediates 
between these two plumages, showing an admi.xture of 
black and white below, are very common. Young: 
Upper parts, lighter with a golden shade on each 
feather; under parts, whitish; breast, streaked with 
grayish. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : A mere depression in the 
ground, lined with grass and leaves. Eggs : 4, light 
buffy-olive to deep olive-buff, heavily spotted with 
sei)ia or black. 

Distribution. — Nearly cosmopolitan ; breeds on the 
Arctic coast from Point Barrow to Boothia and Mel- 
ville peninsulas, and also on the Arctic coast of Russia 
and Siberia ; winters from the Mediterranean to South 
Africa, in India and Australia, and from California, 
Louisiana, and North Carolina to Brazil and Peru ; in 
migration occurs throughout the United States and in 
Greenland and the Bermudas ; accidental in the Hawaiian 
Islands. 



The largest of our Plovers, the Black-bellied or 
Black-breast, is also the shyest. I recall that 
once, in boyhood, I was trying to creep up on a 
flat to get a shot at a small flock — of course in 



vain. A fisherman said to me, as I returned : 
" Sonny, you might as well try to walk up to an 
old Black Duck in broad daylight as to them 
'ere Plovers." 




Drawing by R. I. Brasher 

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (J nat. size) 
The largest and shyest of the Plovers 



PLOVERS 



Thanks to their wariness, it is ciuite possible, 
e\en at the ]iresent, to see small parties or flocks 
of these stout birds standing- well out on the flat, 
at the water's edge. At the first approach of 
danger, off they go. with their mellow call of 
tcc-ii-rcc-c. Plump bodies and large heads, as 
well as the white rump, white on the extended 
wings, and the conspicuous black patch under the 
wings against light feathers, make them easy of 
distinction from the darker Golden Plovers. 
Unlike the latter, which resort to dry fields to 
secure grasshoppers and other insects, these 
" Beetle-heads," as they are sometimes called by 
fishermen and gunners, mostly confine themselves 
to flats and beaches and to pools in the marsh. 

Solid though they are, comparatively, I made 
the discovery one day that they could go where 
I could not. A small flock were feeding well out 
at the water's edge, at low tide, on a muddy 
shore, in winter, on the coast of Louisiana. I 
managed to wade out with my lieavy motion- 
picture camera near enough to show them up 
with the telephoto lens. When I started to 
return, I thought I should have to stay there. 
When I pulled the tripod legs out of that tena- 
cious mud. I sank down so that I could not ex- 
tricate myself without putting down the tripod 
again and leaning on it till it was as decj) in mud 
as before. Theoreticallv this might have con- 
tinued forever, but finally I managed to stagger 
to dry land without disaster. 

As with the Golden Plover, there is decided 
difference between the plumages of adult and 
young, notably so in the case of this S7>ecies. 
These " pale-bellies " are readily distinguished. 
They arrive on the New England coast early in 
September, whereas the adults begin to appear 
about July 25. The voung linger late in the fall, 
sometimes being noted well through November. 

Even back in the palmy days when the Golden 
Plover was sometimes abundant, it seemed to me 



that the Black-breast did not habitually fly about 
in such large flocks as its relative, nor did these 
smaller flocks fly as high or perform such sightly 
evolutions in the air. They were, however, ac- 
customed, in some localities, to congregate in a 
\ery large mass on some favorite dry sand-bar 
or flat, to scatter again when they left the 
rendez^•ous. 







Photu by H. K. Jub Courtesy nf Huughtun Mifflin Co. 

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER ASLEEP 

.\Iso like the Golden I'lo\er, thev breed on the 
Arctic coast and penetrate on the southward 
migration as far as Peru. But their routes are 
quite different, and some of them winter on our 
(^ulf and south Atlantic coasts. 

Hi:ki:i;rt K. Ion. 



GOLDEN PLOVER 

Charadrius dominicus dominicus ( MiilL-r) 



A. O. T'. Number 2;. 

Other Names. — American Golden Plover ; Green 
Plover; 'rhrcc-tocrl Plover; Whistling Plover; Three- 
toes ; Common Plover ; Spotted Plover ; Field Plover ; 
Green-back ; Golden-back ; Brass-back ; Greenhead ; 
Pale-breast ; Muddy-breast ; Muddy-belly ; Bull-head ; 
Toad-head; Hawk's eye; Squealer; Field-bird; Pasture- 



See t^olor Plate 39 

bird; Frost-bird; Trout-bird; Prairie-bird; Prairie 
Pigeon; Pale-belly (young). 

General Description. — Length. 1 1 inches. Upper 
parts conspicuously spotted with yellow, lower parts 
lilack. Bill small and slender; no hind tor: wings long. 
Bobs its head very frequently. 



258 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



Plumage. — Adults in Summer: Forehead, broad 
stripe over and behind eye and continuing down side of 
neck and breast, pure white; croii'ii, hack of neck, back, 
and shoulders, hiackish-hi-ozcn, streaked on crown and 
back of neck, and each feather of rest of upper parts 
sharply indented all around with golden yellow ; wing- 
coverts and secondaries, more brownish, but showing 
some golden-yellow spotting; primaries, plain dusky- 
gray darkening at tips and whitening at base, but no 
pronounced white areas as in the Black-breasted Plover ; 
tail, white with brownish bars ; lores, throat, side of 
head in front of white stripe, breast, and under parts, 
pure brownish-black ; bill, dusky ; feet, lead color ; eye, 
large and lustrous brown. Adults in Winter: Above, 
somewhat as in summer but colors less intense ; more 
greenish-yellow and paler brown ; sides of head, neck, 
breast, and under parts in general, brownish or grayish- 
white, narrowly streaked on sides of head and throat, 
mottled on neck, breast, and abdomen, with dark 



grayish-brown ; an obscure dusky stripe behind eye ; 
bill, legs, and eye as in summer. Young : Above, 
dusky mottled with dull whitish spots, becoming yellow 
on the rump : below, ashy, deeper on lower neck and 
breast. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: A slight depression in the 
moss or ground. Eggs: 4, creamy-white to buffy- 
brovvn. spotted boldly with blotches of brown and 
black. 

Distribution. — North and South America ; breeds 
from K(j(zcbue Sound along the Arctic coast to mouth 
of the Mackenzie, and from Melville Island, Wellington 
Channel, and Melville Peninsula south to northwestern 
Hudson Bay; winters on the pampas of Brazil and 
Argentina ; migrates south across the Atlantic from 
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick ; a few pass south 
through the Mississippi valley, and all migrate north by 
this route: in migration to California. Greenland, and 
Bermuda ; formerly abundant, now becoming rare. 



In the Golden Plover we have a noble and 
beautiful species which has woefully decreased 
in numbers and may even be in danger of ex- 
termination. Its wonderful migrations have been 
much written about. Breeding along the Arctic 
coasts of northwestern North America, the 



Golden Plovers in August proceed eastward to 
Labrador, and down the coast to the peninsula 
of Nova Scotia. Thence they launch forth over 
the open Atlantic, straight south, passing several 
hundred miles off the New England coast, unless 
drl\-en ashore by easterly gales. Continuing, they 




Courtesy of Ameruan Museum of Natural History 
GOLDEN PLOVER 
(Winter plumage) 
A noble and beautiful species which has woefully decreased in numbers 



PL( )VERS 



?59 



l)ass the West Indies, cross the (iulf of Mexico 
and appear on the coast of Brazil. Beinj^ able to 
alight on the water and feed among- masses of 
drift-weed makes such a long journey possible. 
Reaching land, they keep on down to the pampas 
of Argentina. Returning north to breed, they 
pass, in April and May, up through the interior 
United States, especially the Mississippi valley, 
neglecting the Atlantic coast, and thus again 
reach the breeding grounds. 

The autumnal flight on the New England coast 
used to be a great event, watched for with eager- 
ness by the local gunners. If a tropical hurricane 
came up the coast between about August 20 and 
the middle of September, with its violent on- 
shore gales from the northeast, there would be a 
wonderful influx of Golden Plovers, driven otif 
their course, accompanied by equally great flocks 
of the Eskimo Curlew, now, alas, probably ex- 
tinct. 

The last really great flight of both these 
species which I witnessed was in late August, 
1883, at Chatham, Mass., at the southern end of 
the projection of Cape Cod. The wind was 
shrieking, and I hardly could stand against it 
on the exposed headlands, where I watched great 



compact masses of these wonderful birds, high in 
air, blowing in from the sea. They alighted, as 
was their wont, on the upland grassy pastures as 
well as on the marshes, where they eagerly levied 
toll on their favorite grasshopjjcr diet, while the 
gunners also took toll of them. Thus early in 
the season all were in the changing adult plumage, 
the pale-bellied voung not arriving till about mid- 
September. 

In Nova Scotia, before they launched forth 
on their great voyage, I have watched large flocks 
of them perform wonderful aerial evolutions 
over the marshes, swinging high and low many 
times before alighting. They came quite readily 
to tin or wooden decoys l)efore a well-placed 
blind. During the spring flight, in May, I have 
watched them on the North Dakota prairie, when 
they were in their exquisite breeding plumage. 
.\s thev faced me, their C(jal-black breasts so 
blended with the black loam soil that it was hard 
at first to make them out. .Apparently realizing 
their concealing coloration, they would stand per- 
fectly still till I came within fifteen or twenty 
paces, whereupon they would dart off together in 
their swift flight, piping their melodious calls. 

I-Ii:ki!ERT K. Io.".. 



KILLDEER 



Oxyechus vocife 

.\. O V. VnmlRT 273 

Other Names. — Killdeer Plover; Xoisy Plover; 
Chattering Plover; Killdee. 

General Description. — Length. 10 inches. Color 
above, olive-brown : below, pure white. A front view of 
the bird shows four black bands, two on head and two 
on breast. Wings, long and, in flight, showing a white 
\' ; tail long and rounded; bill slender. 

Color. — Adults: Forehead, white from eye to 
eye, prolonged below ; above this, a black band ; a 
brownish-black patch from gape along lower side of 
head; a white collar around neck continuous with white 
throat; a broad diffuse stripe of the brownish-black 
back of eye; crown, back, shoulders, wing-coverts, and 
secondaries, plain olive-brown ; rump and upper tail- 
cnz'crts, oraiujc-broivn deepening to chestnut behind ; 
several inner pairs of tail-feathers, olive-brown shadin.g 
into black, then lightening again and changing into 
rusty tips, others with the orange-brown at rump, black 
subterniinal bars, and pure white tips, the outer pair, 
mostly white, with several broken lilack bars on inner 



rus ( Liiiiunis ) 

I'latv .-.9 



~fc Loll 



webs ; primaries, dusky with a white space on outer 
webs and a longer one on inner webs ; secondaries, 
mostly white, but with black areas increasing from 
within outward; a black hrcasl-baiui riuircliiig neck; 
below this a zvliile space, and beloz^' this luiain another 
black breast-band not extending around neck; rest of 
imder parts, pure white; bill, dusky; legs, leaden .gray; 
iris, brown; eyelids, oran,ge or red. Yoi'Ng : Black of 
adults replaced by gray; feathers of upper parts marked 
with rusty-brown. 

Nest and Eggs. — Eggs: Deposited on the bare 
ground in fields, usually near water ; 4, dull bufify, 
thickly spotted and blotched with brown and sepia. 

Distribution. — North and .South America ; breeds 
from central British Columbia, southern Mackenzie, 
central Keewatin, and central Quebec south to the Gulf 
Coast and central Mexico ; winters from California, 
.Arizona, Texas, Indiana, New Jersey, and Bermuda 
south to \'enezuela and Peru ; casual in Newfoundland, 
Paraguav, and Chile; accidental in Great Britain.. 



The Killdeer gets its name from its loud, 
strident, and frequently reiterated cry, which 
somewhat resembles the words " Kill deer " or 
the svllables " Kill-dee." It is a true Plover, and 



a member of the important shore-bird familv 
which are usually to be found near the water or 
in moist places. But the Killdeer also occurs f re- 
(juently on jierfectl}' dry land, many miles from 




3 

.9 

d 
3 



•o 
a 



3 



[260] 



PLOVERS 



261 



ponds, streams, or the ocean. It seems to be 
especially fond of freshly plowed fields, where 
it feeds voraciously upon worms, grubs, and bugs 
of various kinds. On the ground it runs about 
rapidly and in a somewhat nervous manner, fre- 
quently uttering its somewhat petulant cry, 
which, under these conditions, is sometimes 
abbreviated to the last syllable, dec. 

The Killdeer is especially solicitous about its 
eggs or young. When the incubating bird is 
flushed from her nest, she resorts to ;dl of the 
tactics of the ground-building birds, fluttering 
away with one or both wings dragging as if 
broken, sometimes almost rolling over, often 
stopping to gasp and [lant as if totally exhausted, 
and keeping up meanwhile an incessant scream- 
ing. In the meantime the male bird circles 
around at a safe distance, adding his protests and 
denunciation, and the two continue the uproar 
until the intruder has withdrawn. 

On the wing the bird is swift, graceful and 
somewhat erratic, for which reason it has been 
much pursued as " game " by amateur gunners 
and others who should have known better. This 
" sport ■' is forbidden by the Federal Migratory 
Bird Law, which prohibits the hunting of these 
birds until igiS. The bird should, indeed, be 
protected at all times, not only because the shoot- 
ing of it is killing for the mere sake of killing, 
since its flesh is not edible, but because it makes 
itself exceedingly useful by destroying great 
quantities of noxious insects. 

There can be no doubt as to the economic value 
of the Killdeer's feeding habits, for its regular 



diet is known to include mosquitoes, the fever 
tick, which spreads the dreaded Texas fever 
among cattle; crane flies ("leather-jackets"), 
which are destructi\e to wheat and grass; grass- 
hoppers, the clover-root curculio, various weevils 
which attack cotton, grapes and sugar beets; bill- 




Fhoto by H. T. MidJktuu 

EGGS OF KILLDEER 
Laid in a depression of the ground 

bugs which often do much damage to corn ; wire- 
worms and their adult forms, the click beetles ; 
the southern cornleaf beetle ; horse flies ; craw- 
fishes ; the diving beetles which are injurious 
in fish hatcheries ; and the marine worms 
which jirey upon oysters. 

George Gl.^dden. 



SEMIPALMATED PLOVER 

.ffigialitis semipalmata (Botiapartc 

A. O U. .Xuniber 274 See Color Plate 39 



Other Names. — Scmipalmated RiiiR Plover; Ring- 
necked Plover ; Riii.£c-neck ; Ring Plover ; Red-eye ; 
Beach-bird. 

General Description. — Lengtli. 7 inches. Upper 
part.s color of wet .sand ; lower parts white ; onr black 
ring around neck. Bill short; outer and middle toes 
webbed to the second joint; hind toe missing. 

Color. — Adults: A narrow black bar e.xtending 
from eye over top of bill to other eye with the white 
space above it, and this in turn bordered by another 
black stripe reaching from eye to eye across front of 
crown ; below eye fnarrowly) and behind it a dusky 
strijje; a white bar around back of neck continuous with 
white of chin and lower sides of head; below this, a 



broader bar of dusky encircling neck and upj^er breast; 
crozcii and ufper parts, dark broicnish-i/ray: tail, like 
Iiack darkening toward end, white-tipped ; primaries, 
dusky; narrow, white spaces at base; secondaries, 
largely white except long inner ones which are like the 
back; greater coverts, white tipped; entire under parts, 
white; bill, yellow, with black tip; feet, pale flesh color; 
eye-ring, bright orange; iris, hazel. Young: Black of 
adults replaced by brownish-gray ; feathers of upper 
parts with bulTy cdgin.gs. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : A mere depression in the 
ground, lined with leaves or grass. Ecgs : 4. bufify to 
olive-bufF, spotted and blotched with dark brown and 
black. 



262 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



Distribution. — North and South America ; breeds 
from Melville Island, Wellington Channel, and Cumber- 
land Sound to the valley of the upper Yukon, southern 
Mackenzie, southern Keewatin, and Gulf of St. Law- 



rence ; winters froin southern Lower California, Louisi- 
ana, and South Carolina to Patagonia, Chile, and 
the Galapagos ; casual in Siberia, Greenland, and the 
Rermudas. 



The Semipalmated Plover is the common 
Plover of the Atlantic seaboard, for during the 
migrations there are probably more of them to be 
seen than of all the other Plovers combined, but 
even at that they are far from being numerous as 
they once were. In my boyhood I have seen 
flocks of hundreds, while now it is a matter of 
dozens. Yet we are fortunate in having them 
still with us to illustrate the Plover type on our 



bound in response. When they take to wing these 
notes are speeded U|) and reiterated as the flock 
circles out over the water and dashes past. They 
are with us in May, and again in August and 
September, being more numerous in the latter 
period, reinforced by the new generation. 
Through August we see the adults, with their 
distinct black breast-bands, but it is not till Sep- 
tember, usually, that the grayer young begin to 





Drawing by R. I. Brasher 

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER ( ] nat. size) 
A graceful little Plover and skillful in the art of concealment 



beaches and flats — birds with heads propor- 
tionately large, with robin-like actions in racing 
olT for a few yards, then standing still to gaze 
and meditate, though with the body more hori- 
zontal than the Robin, then stooping to conquer 
the small marine life at their feet. 

They frequent both beaches and flats, prefer- 
ably the latter, and sometimes pools on the marsh. 
Here they scatter out in feeding but bunch to- 
gether in flight. From the flats, before we dis- 
cover them, comes that singularly attractive 
characteristic call which always makes my pulses 



ajjpear, illustrating one of the strange phases of 
liird habits, that in many cases the young make 
the long untried journey southward after most of 
the parents have gone on before. They are found 
in the interior, as well as on the coast, but mostly 
along the larger bodies of water, or on marshes 
where there are shallow sloughs and mud-flats. 

The breeding-grounds are mostly in the Far 
North, even beyond the Arctic Circle. The south- 
ernmost point where they are known to breed is 
the Gulf of St. Lawrence. There I have studied 
them, on the Magdalen Islands, finding a scattered 



'■^.^saB. V if7/SEff 



O- 




















; D ri zi 



PLOVERS 



26.- 



colony on a long sniidflat, borderintj a lagoon, 
that stretched for miles between two of the 
larger islands. The little creatures would run 
ahead of me, piping plaintively. Careful looking 
finally revealed a number of their nests, back 
from the lagoon, in the sand and broken shells 
above high-water mark, or further back in the 
tracts where sparse tufts of beach-grass grew 
from the sand. The nests were more -than the 
mere scratched-out hollows of the Piping Plo\'er, 
in having at least a few grass-stems or scraps of 
dried sea-weed surrounding the hollow, or even 
partlv tilling it. The eggs were usually four, 
sometimes only three, handsome, boldly marked, 
resembling, save for their [lyriform shape. Terns' 
eggs more than thr)se of Piping and Wilson's 
Plovers. 

Breeding seemed to be at its height the tenth of 
June. By that time a very few young were just 
hatched. They are darker than the Piping Plover 
chicks, but have similar ways. I had quite an 
experience in catching and tethering one of them 
to a blade of grass. Sitting quietl\- on the sand 
near by, I watched the mother run about anx- 
iously, and finally venture up to snuggle the baliy, 
while I took snapshots of them with the reflecting 
camera. Herbert K. }uu. 



The Semipalmated PIo\er's diet includes sev- 
eral species of injurious grasshoppers, as well as 
mosquitoes which seriously molest cattle and 
certain species of which it is now well known 




Photo by H. K. Jub Courtesy ot iloughtun Miffliu Cv. 

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER 

Brooding tethered chick 

may be carriers of dangerous diseases. It is 
known also that the bird feeds u[)on locusts. 
The usefulness of this Ploxer is, therefore, be- 
yond question. 



RINGED PLOVER 

.ffigialitis hiaticula {Liiiii(nis) 

A. O. LT. Number 27s 



Other Names. — Ringed Dotterel ; Ring Plover. 

General Description. — Length, -'4 inches. Colora- 
tion very similar to that of the Semipalmated Plover, 
but usually the white spots on the lower eyelids and a 
white patch behind the eye are better marked. No web 
between middle and inner toes; hind toe inissing. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: A slight depression in the 
sand amid broken shells. Eggs: 4, pale buff or cream 



color, spotted with dark reddish-brown approaching 
black. 

Distribution.— Eastern Arctic America and Old 
World ; breeds from central Europe and Turkestan to 
Siberia, Spitzbergen. Iceland, Greenland, and Cumber- 
land Sound ; winters on shores of the Mediterranean 
and throu,ghout Africa; accidental in Barliados. Chile. 
India, and .'Kustralia. 



The well-known Ring Plover of F.uro])e was 
long supposed to be confined to that continent, 
but it is now known that the bird breeds freely in 
Greenland and there are definite records of its 
appearance in America, one specimen having 
been taken at Great Slave Lake. It resembles 
the Semipalmated Plover, though it is somewhat 
larger, the black band on the brea.st is wider and 
the white stripe on the forehead extends back- 
ward and downward over the eye, while it lacks 



the well between the middle and inner toes of the 
Semijialmated. Its general habits are plover- 
like. 

This Plover must be considered a very useful 
bird because it persistently destroys several 
species of grasshoppers which are known to be 
injurious to crops. It should, therefore, be pro- 
tected against molestation whii'h is at all likely to 
lessen materially its numbers, or to change its 
normal habits. 



264 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



PIPING PLOVER 

^gialitis meloda (Urd) 

A. O. U. Number 277 



Other Names. — Ringneck ; Pale Ringneck ; White 
Ringneck ; Belted Piping Plover ; Western Piping 
Plover; Clam Bird; Mourning Bird; Beach Plover; 
Sand Plover. 

General Description. — Length, 7 inches. Upper 
parts, color of dry sand; under parts, snowy white. 
'fdcs. not Zi'cbbcd : hind toe missing; bill short. 

Color. — Forehead, white ; a black band on front 
of crown from eye to eye; lores, streak behind eye, 
chin, throat, sides of head, a half collar around back of 
neck, and entire under parts, pure snowy white ; crown 
and upper parts, very pale ashy-brozvn ; a black band 
on upper breast tending to encircle neck but not meet- 
ing; an indistinct dusky streak behind eye; primaries, 
dusky with white spaces at base ; secondaries and 
greater coverts, mostly white; long inner secondaries, 
similar to back; upper tail-coverts and base of tail, 
white, latter blackening toward end, and outer pair of 
feathers, entirely white; an orange-red ring around eye; 



basal half of bill, orange yellow, front half, black; feet, 
yellowish; iris, brown. Adult Female: The crown bar 
is usually dark brown and the breastband much reduced 
and brownish. Young; No trace of dark color on 
head, and little, if any, on sides of neck; leathers of 
upper parts with pale or rusty edgings; bill, mainly 
black. 

Nest and Eggs. — Eggs : Generally laid among 
stones on the beach ; 4, clay color or creamy-white, 
thinly and uniformly marked with sepia specks, some- 
times mere points. 

Distribution. — Eastern North America ; breeds 
locally from southern Saskatchewan, southern On- 
tario, Magdalen Island.s, and Nova Scotia south to 
central Nebraska, northwestern Indiana, Lake Erie, 
New Jersey (formerly), and Virginia; winters on the 
coast of the United States from Texas to Georgia, and 
in northern Mexico; casual in migration to Newfound- 
land, the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and Bermuda. 



Truly a bird of the beach-.sand is the Pipinj:^ 
Plover. With propriety it might have been 
named the " Sand Plover.'' It looks the part, for 
it lives on the sand and so closely resembles the 
sand in color that it is rendered almost invisible 
till it moves. Then whoever it is that approaches 
may notice a whitish streak projecting itself 
ahead over the intensely bright dry sand so 
rapidly that it might more readily seem to be 
something flying than running. Its piping calls 
are plaintive and pretty, harmonizing finely with 
the general spirit of the extended beach, the 
dazzling sand, and the flowing sea with its 
monotonous undertone. 

Somehow the sea-beach hardly seems fully 
genuine without it. None the less manv of our 
beaches have lost this little gem of a resident. 
With the advent of increasing throngs of summer 
visitors, the eggs are stepped on or picked up, 
and the birds are shot by vandals or are forced to 
move on. At some times it has seemed that these 
birds would be exterminated, but law and public 
sentiment have come to the rescue, and in some 
quarters they still cling tenaciously to their old 
haunts. They are found not only on the sea- 
coast, but on the sandy or pebbly shores of the 
larger inland lakes. 

The eggs of this Plover generally number four 
and are laid in a rather deep, well-rounded cavity, 
in almost clear sand, when there is such, but 
otherwise on shingle or pebbly areas, at the top 
of beaches. They are laid in the latitude of 
southern New England during the latter part of 



May or in early June. I have even found fresh 
eggs in July, but such cases are more likely 
second layings, after the first set is destroyed, as 
shore birds as a class seem to rear but one brood 
each season. The eggs are distinct from those of 
other allied species in being finely speckled in- 
stead of coarsely marked. 




Photo by H. K J . I I. ..urtusy ..f U.julikJ.iy. I'aye & Co. 

NEST OF PIPING PLOVER 

The young look like little bunches of cotton- 
batting blowing over the sand. Though born out 
in the open glare of the sun on the hot sand, they 
cannot at first endure much heat, but are care- 
fully brooded by their parents, or else hide under 
drift-weed or in the clumps of beach-grass. 

The food of these little Plovers is the tiny 



PLOVERS 



265 



marine life cast up bv the waves on the broad Httle tilings has always seemed to me an atrocity, 

white beaches where they spend their innocent happily now made a crime, both by State enact- 

li\es and beautify the impressive surroundings. ments and by the laws of the nation. 
The sight of a big man with a gun chasing the Herhert K. Joh. 



SNOWY PLOVER 

.ffigialitis nivosa Cassi)i 

A. I.) U. Number 2,-8 



Other Name. — Snowy Ring Plover. 

General Description. — Length, 7 inches. Color 
above, ashy-gray; lielow, snowy-white: no coinf^lctc 
Zi'tiite ring around neck. l^ill slender, shorter than 
head ; hind toe missing. 

Color. — Adult M.\le in Summer: Forehead, line 
over eye, sides of head and whole under parts, snowy 
white; broad black bar from eye to eye; crown, pale 
orange-brown; narrow black streak from back of eye 
tending to meet its fellow on nape: rest of upper parts, 
I)ale ashy-gray: several pairs of tail-feathers, like 
back, darkening toward ends ; two or three outside 
pairs, entirely white ; primaries, dusky with a brown- 
ish central space; greater coverts, ashy-gray, white- 
tipped ; primary coverts, darker, also white-tipped ; 
outer secondaries, dark brown, long inner ones, color 
of back; a broad black patch on each side of breast, 



nnt meeting on back of neck or front of breast; bill 
and feet, black ; iris, brown. Adult Female in Summer: 
Hand over eye and stripe back of it, with breast 
patch, dusky-gray ; otherwise similar to male. .Xdults 
IN Winter: Black parts replaced by grayish brown; 
otherwise similar to summer plumage. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest: A depression in tlie sandy 
beach. Eggs: 3, pale buff or clay color with numerous 
scratchy markings of dark brown and black. 

Distribution. — Western United States, to South 
America: breeds from central California, northern 
Utah, and southern Kansas south to northern Lower 
California and southern Te.xas ; winters from southern 
California and Texas south along both coasts of Cen- 
tra! America, and on the west coast to Chile ; casual 
in Oregon, Wyoming. Ontario, Louisiana, Florida, Ba- 
hamas, Cuba, Venezuela, and Brazil. 



Something like poetic license must be in\oked 
as an excuse for calling this Plover " snowy,'' 
since in point of fact only about half, and that 
the lower half, of the bird is white, while the 
upper parts generally are buffy-gray. It is essen- 
tially a bird of the western United States. Its 
note is similar to that of the Piping Plover and 
so are its habits, especially that of searching for 
marine Crustacea and worms along the seashore, 
following the receding waves and retreating be- 
fore them as they come sliding in. 

The male and female take turns at incubating 
the eggs and the bird who is on the nest is fed 
by the other. But for the tracks made by the 
Ijirds in these visits, the eggs usually would be 
exceedingly hard to find, as their color often 
makes them blend perfectly with the sand and 
drift about them. 

The breeding habits of the birds were closely 



observed at Santa Barbara, Califijrnia, by Henry 
W. Henshaw, and the following graphic descrip- 
tion of their conduct when their nest was dis- 
covered is included by Dr. Baird in Nortli Ameri- 
can Birds: " Great was the alarm of the colony 
as soon as his | .Mr. Henshaw's] presence was 
known. They gathered into little knots, follow- 
ing him at a distance with sorrowful cries. 
When her nest was seen to be really discovered, 
the female would fly close bv him and make use 
of all the arts which birds of this kind know so 
well how to emjiloy on like occasions. With 
wings droo])ing and trailing on the sand, she 
would move in front till his attention was 
secured, and would then fall helplessly down, 
and, burying her breast in the sand, present the 
very picture of despair and woe, while the male 
liird and the other pairs expressed their sym- 
pathy bv loud cries." 



266 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



WILSON'S PLOVER 
Ochthodromus wilsonius ( Orel) 

A. O, U. Number 280 



General Description. — Length. 8 inches. Color 
above, ashy-gray: below, pure white. Head large; bill 
long and large; outer toes webbed halfway. 

Color. — .\dult Male in Summer: Forehead, 
white, extending backward above eye ; narrow black 
band across fore crown, not reaching eyes ; lores, dusky ; 
a white collar continuous with throat, around neck ; 
upper parts, pale ashy-gray tinged with brown or ocher 
on back of head and neck, feathers of back and wing- 
coverts, with lighter edges ; primaries and central tail- 
feathers, dusky ; the outer pair whitish ; others, color 
of back, growing darker toward end. and white-tipped; 
a black half ring on fore-breast not completed around 
neck ; rest of under parts, pure white ; secondaries, ex- 
cept inner ones, mostly white on inner web. darker on 
outer ; bill, black ; legs, flesh color ; iris, dark brown ; 



no colored riiiq arttund eye. Adult M.\le in Winter: 
Black replaced by dusky-gray. Adult Female: Black 
on breast of male replaced by dark gray, with a rusty 
tinge; otherwise similar to summer male. Young: 
Differ only from the adult female in having no black 
on crown or lores. 

Nest and Eggs. — Egcs : Laid among the loose peb- 
bles of the open beaches ; 3. pale olive or greenish-gray, 
spotted and splashed all over with blackish-brown. 

Distribution. — Southern North America; breeds 
from Texas eastward along the Gulf coast, and from 
southeastern Virginia (formerly New Jersey), south to 
the northern Bahamas ; winters from southern Lower 
California, Texas, and Florida south to southern Gua- 
temala and probably to the West Indies ; casual in Nova 
Scotia and New England, and at San Diego, California. 



Wilson's Plover looks like a bleached and 
faded copy of the Semipalmated, or else a more 
robust and darker type of the Piping Plover. 
Its much larger and stouter bill, however, pro- 
claims its identity, as does the fact that it is seen 
in summer on the southern coast, southward of 
the breeding range even of the Piping Plover, 
though these ranges inay overlap occasionally on 
the coast of Virginia. Its favorite haunts are 
the more retired sand beaches and bars from that 
State southward and on the Gulf coast, preferably 
on the ocean front, though it feeds to some extent 
back on the flats or along inlets. Following the 
water-line, we meet it singly or in pairs, though 
there may be several jjairs along a good stretch of 
beach. Later in the summer, from about July, 
when the young are on wing, there may be a 
semblance of flocking. 

By keeping our eyes well " peeled," carefully 
watching the sand as we walk along, we may spy 
the spotted eggs lying in a slight cavity of the 
sand, usually among scattered shells or bunches 
of weeds or grass, in the dry flat area of white 
sand above high-water mark. The only nest- 
building, aside from the scratching out of the 
hollow, is to line it with a few chips of broken 
shell. It is hard to see what particular [)urpose 
this may serve, unless possilily to make the eggs 
a little less conspicuous. At the best they are 
not readilv found, and the birds themselves give 



little clue to the whereabouts of their treasures. 
They are not very shy, and patter along the sand 
ahead, uttering flute-like notes. For a while they 
keep flying on ahead, and presently will circle 
out over the water to the rear. 




Photu by H. K. Job Courtesy ol Houghluii MilHin Co. 

WILSON'S PLOVER 

Its favorite haunts are the more retired sand beaches 

I have found their eggs in southern Florida in 
late April, and on the shores of South Carolina 
toward the middle of May. 

Herbert K. Job. 



SURF-BIRDS AND TURNSTONES 



267 



MOUNTAIN PLOVER 
Podasocys montanus (./. K . ToiK'iiscud) 



A. O. V. Ximihir j8i 



Other Name. — Prairie Plover. 

General Description. — Length, 9 inches. Color 
above. grayi-sh-bro\vn ; below, white ; bill slender ; tail 
short, less than half the length of wing: hind toe miss- 
ing; no web between middle and inner toes. 

Color. — Adults ix Summer: .\hi)ve, uniform 
grayish-brown, usually pure but in some cases the 
feathers ed,ged with tawny or ocher ; a sharp black 
line from bill to eye : a black bar across lore-crown 
varying in width from a mere line to a band nearly 
half the length of the crown in width; central tail- 
leathers, color of back, blackening toward end, outer 
ones, pale, all white-tipped; hchn<.\ f^urc ichitc without 
belt or patclir.\- lint breast sometimes shaded with rusty 
or gray : primaries, blackish, some of the inner ones 



white tiiwanl I)ase: bill, black; le,gs, lead color; iris, 
brown. Anri.T.s ix Winter: Black crown bar and loral 
stripe, absent ; plumage, more rusty ; otherwise, as in 
summer. YouNC : No pure white or black markings, 
and even more huffy than winter adults. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nkst: On the open prairies; a 
depression in the ground, lined with leaves and grass. 
Egi;s : 3 or 4, cream to light olive, finely and thickly 
dotted with sepia, black, and lavender. 

Distribution. — Western North America ; breeds from 
northern Montana and western Nebraska south to 
northern New Mexico and northwestern Texas; winters 
from northern California and southern Texas to south- 
ern Lnvver California and central Mexico; accidental 
in Florida. 



On the central table-land nf the Ruckv .Moun- 
tains, near Sweetwater, Wyoming, was ca])tiired 
the first specimen of the Mountain Plover to be 
described. From the altitude of this point, the 
bird received its name. In reality, however, its 
unofficial name of Prairie Plover is more appro- 
priate. It frequents the barren prairies as well 
as the well-watered regions of the western 
United St;ites but not the marshes and beaches. 



It i^ a (luiet bird, attending consistently and 
constantly to its business of chasing and captur- 
ing insects. It feeds freely upon locusts, as is 
sh(j\vn by the fact that sixteen stomachs of the 
bird which were examined, contained an average 
of forty-five locusts each. Also included in its 
diet are various species of harmful grasshoppers 
and it deserves, therefore, to be considerefl a use- 
ful bird. 



SURF-BIRDS AND TURNSTONES 

OrdcT Llmicohc; family AphriziJcc 

HE Surf-birds and Turnstones constitute the family A pliyizidcc of the order of 
Shore Birds. There are but three species, all of which occur in North America. 
The subfamily of Surf-birds seem to be more closely related to the Sandpipers 
than to the Plovers, and the only known species is the one which is found 
on the coasts and islands of the Pacific. The Turnstone subfamily includes 
two species. Structurally they are related to the Plovers and the Surf- 
birds. The bill is shorter than the head, and is curved slightly upward, a 
peculiarity which assists the bird in turning over stones in search of its food, 
and from which it derives its name. The legs are short and stout, the wings 
long and pointed, the tail short and slightly rounded, and the plumage parti- 
colored in summer and neutral in winter. The birds lay four eggs, usually 

on almost barren rocky coasts, and conceal them very cleverly by selecting a nesting site 

with which their varied colors harmonize verv closelv. 






268 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



SURF-BIRD 
Aphriza virgata (Gmclin) 

A. U. U. Number 2&2 



Other Name. — Plover-billed Turnstone. 

General Description. — Length, lO inches. Color 
above, dark ashy-brown streaked and varied ; below, 
dull white with dark markings ; bill stout witli rounded 
tip : tail, slightly notched. 

Color. — Adults in Summer: Above, dark ashy- 
brown streaked with whitish on head and neck and 
varied with chestnut and black on back and wing- 
coverts ; upper tail-coverts and basal half of tail, pure 
zvliite: rest of tail, black tipped with white: primaries, 
dusky, tipped with white ; greater coverts, white-tipped : 
large space on secondaries, also white ; under parts, dull 
white or ashy variegated with brownish-black marks ; 
throat and fore-breast, narrowly streaked, these streaks 



changing on breast proper to crescentic bars ; rest of 
under parts, sparsely spotted ; bill, black; legs, greenish- 
yellow : iris, brown. Adults in Winter: Head, neck, 
breast, and upper parts generally, uniform dusky-brown 
with darker shaft lines ; no white or reddish ; wings 
and tail, as in summer; beneath, dull white faintly 
spotted. Young: Above, brownish-gray with white 
edgings to feathers ; below, white streaked with dusky. 

Nest and Eggs. — Unknown. 

Distribution. — Pacific coast of North and South 
.America ; breeding range unknown, but probably in the 
interior of northwestern .'Maska ; winters in Chile to 
Straits of Magellan; occurs in migration from Kobuk 
River, Alaska, to southern South America. 



Ornithologists have been divided as to whether 
the Surf-bird should be considered a Plover or a 
Turnstone, and after much argument have com- 
promised by giving it distinct generic rank. 
Evidently the bird occurs frequently on the 
Hawaiian and other islands in the Pacific Ocean, 



and it is known also to visit the Pacific coast of 
the United States, but nowhere is it abundant. 
Its breeding grounds are unknown. The bird 
frequents the outer beaches of the sea-coasts, 
where it permits the spray from the heavy surf 
to dash over it ; hence the name given to it. 



RUDDY TURNSTONE 
Arenaria interpres morinella (Linncrus) 

A. O. U. .Xumber 283a See Color Plate 3.1 



Other Names. — Turnstone ; Sea Dotterel ; Sea Quail ; 
Sand-runner; Stone-pecker; Horsefoot Snipe; Brant- 
bird ; Bead-bird ; Checkered Snipe ; Red-legs ; Red- 
legged Plover; Chicken; Chicken Plover; Cliicken- 
bird ; Calico-back; Calico-bird; Calico-jacket; Sparked- 
back ; Streaked-back; Chuckatuck ; Creddock ; Jinny; 
Bishop Plover. 

General Description. — Lengtli, 9 inches. Upper 
parts chestnut, black, and white; lower parts black and 
white ; bill witli sharp tip inclined upward ; tail slightly 
rounded. 

Color. — Adult M.\le in Spring and Summer: 
Forehead, cheeks, sides of head, and back of neck, 
white with a bar of black from side of neck to below 
eye, continuing forward and meeting its mate over base 
of bill and enclosing a white loral patch; another black 
streak on side of neck ; top of head, streaked with black 
and white; lozver hind neck, back and shoulders, z'arie- 
gatcd with black and chestnut; rump and upper tail- 
coverts, snozi'y-zi'hitc, the latter black in center; tail, 
white with a broad subterminal black band ; center 
tail-feathers, white-tipped; wing-coverts and inner sec- 



ondaries, mixed black and chestnut ; greater coverts, 
mostly white; middle secondaries, entirely zvhile be- 
coming gradually more dusky outwardly, producing an 
oblique white wing bar; primaries, dusky, largely white 
at base; under parts, snoicy-white ; breast and throat, 
jet-black, encircling a zvhitc patch; bill, black; feet, 
oramje-red ; iris, deep brown. Adult Fem.\le in Spring 
AND Summer: Less strongly colored; chestnut replaced 
by plain brown, especially on wing-coverts ; darker 
parts restricted ; black not glossy. Adults in Winter : 
Chestnut absent, the blacks mostly replaced by browns 
or grays, the patch on chest smaller and much broken. 

Nest and Eggs. — Nest : A hollow scratched in the 
ground and lined with bits of grass or seaweed. Eggs: 
4, greenish-gray spotted and blotched heavily with yel- 
lowish and umber-brown. 

Distribution. — North and South America ; breeds on 
Arctic shores from Mackenzie River east, probably 
to Melville Peninsula, and north to Melville Island; 
winters from central California, Texas, Louisiana, 
and South Carolina to southern Brazil and central 
Chile. 



SURF-BIRDS AND TURNSTONES 



269 



Shore birds as a class are foremost among the 
earth's greatest travelers. The typical species of 
this class breed on the Arctic tundra, and, when 
winter approaches, migrate nearly to the further 
end of the South American continent. Such a 
wanderer is the Turnstone, a beautiful species, 
richly colored, and possessed of great powers of 
flight. The month of May finds it rapidly pass- 
ing across the United States, following both 
the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and also through 
the interior. In the latter it is found along the 
larger bodies of water, Init also on the sloughs of 
the prairies, especially where alkaline conditions 
produce open muddy shores. Some flocks are 
seen as late as the first week of Tune. Returning 



one exceptional chance to watch. It was in late 
afternoon toward the middle of September, on 
a sandy shore, slightly muddy, where shells and 
debris had been washed up. The select com- 
pany was " one little Turnstone and I," the latter 
armed with binoculars, the former too busy to 
notice intruders. He was a fine gentleman, 
dressed in the gaudiest "calico" possible for the 
fall fashions, yet not too proud to work for his 
supper. His method was urn unlike that of 
the proverbial hull in the china shop, for he 
trotted about, "tossing'' nearly everything that 
came in bis way. Inserting the " wedge '' under 
a ])ebble, a shell, or what not, he would give a 
real toss of his imperious head, and flop over it 




Courtesy uf Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 
TURNSTONE (§ nat. size) 
His method was not unlike that of the proverbial bull in the china-shop 



bands begin to appear as soon as the last of July, 
and during August the main southbound tide 
is on. 

Their prevailing habit is to keeji in compact 
flocks, more often about a dozen, when often they 
fly in lines, as well as bunched up. None the 
less they are also found scattering, two or three, 
or even a lone one. Thev fly very fast, usually 
with a sort of trilling, rapidly reiterated series of 
notes. They are well known to hunters, fre- 
quently by the names of Chicken Plover, Calico- 
bird, and others. 

Their favorite haunts are stony beaches on the 
open coast and also inlets with gravelly or partly 
muddy shores. For feeding purposes thev carry- 
no knife, like the Oyster-catcher, but have an 
arrangement no less effective for their purpose 
— a wedge-shaped bill. How they u.se this I had 



would g(i. Presently he tackled a shingle, and 
had a hard time to Inidge it. He tried it on all 
sides, and then again, until at last he lifted and 
threw it over. His efforts seemed to be well 
rewarded, for he fed there some little time, as 
though many slugs and worms had taken refuge 
beneath it. It is in search of such preA' that the 
turner of stones operates, a cog in the wheel of 
the system of nature, which decrees that every 
possible corner and crevice of the great system 
shall have its guardian, even the tiny spot of 
ground beneath the pebble on the beach. 

Heri!i:kt K. Job. 

The Turnstone's diet is not confined to the ani- 
mal food mentioned, but includes grasshoppers of 
species which often menace seriously various 
crops. Its service in keeping down these pests is 



270 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



undoubtedly very valuable, and for this reason 
alone the bird deserves careful protection at all 
times. 

The Black, or Black-headed, Turnstone (Arc- 
varia niclanoccphala) averages a trifle smaller 
than the Ruddy Turnstone. In its summer 
plumage the crown and upper back are black 
with a greenish-bronzy gloss ; the rest of the 
head, neck, throat, and chest are black, the fore- 
head and sides of the head spotted with white, 
and a white spot in front of the eye; the rest of 



the under part of the body is white. In the 
winter, the head, neck, and chest are sooty-black 
without spots. The nesting and other habits of 
this Turnstone duplicate those of the Ruddy 
Turnstone. It occurs on the Pacific coast of 
North America, breeding from Kotzebue Sound 
south to the valley of the lower Yukon, and 
wintering from British Columbia south to Lower 
California. Sometimes it wanders north to Point 
Barrow, Alaska, and over to northeastern Si- 
beria. 



OYSTER- CATCHERS 

Order Limicola ; family HcrmatopodidcB 

IHE Oyster-catchers {Hccniaiopodidcc) include ten species, and are virtually 
cosmopolitan in their distribution. Three species occur in North America, 
and all are essentially maritime birds. They are found (excepting by accident) 
only along the ocean fronts, where they get the principal parts of their diet, 
oysters, clams, mussels, and various shell-fish, whose shells they force apart 
with their strong, wedge-shaped bills. They also feed on marine worms and 
insects. 

These birds have very stout legs and strong feet from which the hind toe 
is lacking. The plumage is chiefly black on the upper parts and white under- 
neath. The bill of the living bird is bright red. C3n the ground Oyster- 
catchers walk with a deliberate and dignified stride, or run with ease and 
considerable speed. Their flight also is swift and graceful, though when flushed when 
they are feeding they are not likely to fly far. They build no nest but lay in a 
slight depression in the sand usually three eggs, which are bufify white, blotched and 
speckled with dark brown. Various observers have declared that incubation is performed 
entirely by the female, but that she covers the eggs only at night or on cloudy days and at 
other times leaves her work to the sun and the hot sands. 






OYSTER-CATCHER 
Hamatopus palliatus Toiiniiiick 



.\. n. ri. Xuniber 28 



Other Names.^.\merican Oyster-catcher ; Mantled 
Oyster-catclier ; Brown-backed Oyster-catcher; Sea 
Crow. 

General Description. — Length, 21 inches. Head 
black, back brown, and under parts white. 

Color. — Entire head and neck all around, (/lossy 
bluish-black, frequently with a glaucous shade; back, 
shoulders, rump, and upper tail-coverts, dusky-brown, 
the side and central coverts white; tail, white at base, 
then brownish shading to blackish at ends ; inner sec- 
ondaries, dusky-brown, outer ones, pure white ; greater 
coverts, broadly tipped with white forming a conspic- 
uous area in combination witli the white of seconda- 



ries; primaries, dusky-blackish at ends; entire under 
[•arts from the breast, pure tvhite ; bill, vermilion or 
coral-red, yellowish at end ; legs, pale purplish flesh 
color; iris and eye-ring, red or orange. 

Nest and Eggs. — Ne.st: A slight depression on 
sandy beaches. Er.c.s : 2 or ,3, white or cream, spotted 
and blotched with dark brown, black, or lavender. 

Distribution.— Coasts of North and South America 
from Texas, Louisiana, and Virginia (formerly New 
Jersey), south on both coasts of Mexico to the West 
Indies, southern Brazil, and central Chile; casual north 
to New Brunswick; breeds probably throughout its 
range. 



OYSTER-CATCHERS 



271 



Should we seek out the loneliest of the harren 
beaches or bars of ijlistering; sand which are so 
characteristic of the coasts of the southern 
States, here and there at considerable intervals 
\ve are likely to meet scattered pairs of a rather 
large shore bird, very consjiicuous from its Ijlack 
and white plumage. With high-power binoculars 
we can see their large liright-red bills, though 
they are so very shy that we coukl hardly dis- 
tinguish this last feature without such aid. 
They are Oyster-catchers, birds which literally 
carry about with them each its oyster-knife, in 
order to be able to feed upon the oysters, mussels, 
clams, or other shell-fish which they encounter. 
Locally they are sometimes called " Sea-Cro\ys " 
by the fishermen, which is not an inapt descrip- 
tive title, though their notes, which are clarion 
flute-like calls, are certainly more melodious than 
crow-talk. 

Though they are often seen upon the more re- 
tired beaches of the mainland, the real type 
location is the little " sea island," of very small 
and low' degree, which at high tide is a mere 
little strip of white sand, with areas of shell cast 
up by the sea. This is where, the year around, 
we may find the curious birds and from April to 
June their nests. Really it seems almost like 
pleasantry to imply that they ever have a real 
nest. To provide such homes for its eggs, all the 
bird needs to do is to squat on the sand, turn 
around a few times, and there will be found as 



godil .1 haliitation as it e\er cares to occupy. In 
more \\a\'s than one is this home insecure, for it 
requires hut a sudden hca\y squall or storm to 
raise the water level and drive the waves o\er the 
low bar. The water may be over it but a short 
time, yet the mischief is done. This and other 
liirds of the sea nc\cr appear to claim their eggs 




Urawmt; by R. B. Horslail Cuurttsy of Nit AsbJ Aud. Soc. 
OYSTER-CATCHERS AT HOME 

or to make any effort to save them after they 
have once been floated off even for a short 
distance. 

Possibly the prodigal parents may not think the 
eggs worth saving, so small is their number. Two 
eggs is the clutch I have always found, though 
sometimes they are said to have three. Where 





Drawing by R. I. Brasher 




:^(5^-;;^^^ -. 



OYSTER-CATCHER (J nat. size) 
Each carries with him his own oyster-knife 



272 



BIRDS OF AMERICA 



the Oyster-catchers are seen flying on ahead as 
one advances, and then returning in a circuit, it 
is likely that there are eggs or young not far off. 
The eggs are hard to find, thougli they He right 
out in the open, on the highest and driest part of 







>rv>wv:-;^ 




Photo by H. K. Job Courtesy of Houghton MifEiin Co. 

OYSTER-CATCHER 

On nest. South Carolina 

the bar, often among shells and bunches of 
drifted sea-weed, with which they aptly blend. 
The young are even harder to discover, unless 
they are seen to run. I have searched a bar, as 
it were, with a fine-tooth comb before detecting 



the little creatures — exactly the color of the 
sand — lying outstretched by some weed or bit of 
debris. 

One very absorbing experience which I have 
had was in photographing an Oyster-catcher at 
her nest. The open sand-flat aft'orded no possible 
concealment. At night I placed a bunch of sea- 
weed near the two eggs. In the morning I set 
the camera under this, and, attaching a spool of 
strong thread to the shutter, had my friends 
bury me in the sand, at the thread's end, all but 
head and arm. When the rest of the party left 
the island, the birds walked right past me, gazing 
without fear at the apparently disconnected head 
cast up by the waves. Soon the female was 
shielding her eggs from the blazing Carolina sun. 
Then excitedly I pulled the thread and the picture 
was mine ! Herbert K. Job. 

The Black, or Bachman's, Oyster-catcher 
(Hariiiatopiis bachmani) is peculiar to the Pacific 
coast of North America, breeding from Prince 
William Sound, Alaska, west through the Aleu- 
tian Islands and south to central Lower Cali- 
fornia, and wintering from southern British 
Columbia to Lower California. It averages about 
two inches shorter than its eastern congener. Its 
head and neck are dull bluish-black, and the rest 
of its plumage brownish-black. In habits it, 
also, is strictly a shore-bird. 




Photo by Clyde Fisher 



Courtesy of Kat. A^.j, .\iv\. ^juc. 



ON ORANGE LAKE 



The Island, here shown, was purchased by the National Association of Audubon Societies for 

a bird reservation