(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Tropical wild life in British Guiana : zoological contributions from the Tropical Research Station of the New York Zoological Society"

TROPICAL WILD LIFE 
IN BRITISH GUIANA 




NESTLING HOATZIN CLIMBING WITH FINGERS AND TOES 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE 

1\ BRITISH GUIANA 



Zoological Contributions 
Fkom The Tkoi'Ical Riosearch Station 
Of The New York Zoological Society 



By 

WILLIAM! 15KEHE, 

directing curator 

G. INNESS HARTLEY and PAUL G. HOWES 

RESEARCH ASSOCIATE RESEARCH ASSISTANT 



WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY" 

COLONEL THEODORE ROOSEVELT 
\ Volume I. 



Photographs and Other lUustrations 
by the A uthors 





published by THE NEW YORK ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY 
111 BROADWAY. NEW YORK CITY 

JANUARY, 1917 



Copyright 1917, by 
THE NEW YORK ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY 



QL 



T^ 



I 



(Clark $c IFrittB 

PRINTERS 

229 WEST 28TH STREET 

<i'Mt YORK 



So 

QII|r six yrntlrmnt utl|iiar iirnmiBitti inaftr 

;iOBBtlilr tl|p first ijrar'B rxtBtPurr uf 

lljp Urojitral Srararrl) Sitaliiin 

C. LED YARD BLAIR 

ANDREW CARNEGIE 

CLEVELAND H. DODGE 

GEORGE J. GOULD 
MORTIMER L. SCHIFF 

AND THE LATE 

JAMES J. HILL 
QIl|iB itnhtntp ib Jipbiratrb by tl^P Autfiora. 



"Let men stew in their cities if they will. It is in 
the lonely places, in jungles and mountains, in snows 
and fires, in the still observatories and the silent labora- 
tories, in those secret and dangerous places where life 
probes into life, it is there that the masters of the world, 
the lords of the beast, the rebel sons of Fate come to 
their own." 

H. G. Wells. 



IXTUODTXTIOX 

The establishment of the Tropical Research station m 
British Guiana by the New York Zoological Society marks 
the beginning of a wholly new type of biological work, capa- 
ble of literally illimitable expansion. It provides for inten- 
sive study, in the open field, of the teejning animal life of 
the tropics. 

One pleasant feature of the station is the cordial hos- 
pitalitv it extends to all naturalists. Jealousy is regarded 
as utterlv unworthv, and the whole effort of the station is 
to secure, from whatever source, the most thorough research- 
possible. Every original investigator tit to work in the field 
is sure of an eager welcome and of all possible aid in his 
studies. 

The time has passed when we can afi'ord to accept as 
satisfactorv a science of animal life whose professors are 
either mere roaming field collectors or mere closet cata- 
logue writers w^ho examine and record minute differences 
in "specimens" precisely as philatelists examine and record 
minute differences in postage stamps — and with about the 
same breadth of view and power of insight into the essen- 
tial. Tittle is to be gained bv that kind of "intensive" col- 
lectin"- and cataloguing which bears fruit onlv in innumer- 
able little pamphlets describing with meticulous care un- 
important new^ subspecies, or new "species" hardly to be 
distinguished from those already long kno^^^l. Such pamph- 
lets have almost no real interest except for the infrequent 
rival specialists who read them with quarrelsome interest. 

Of course a good deal can still be done bv the collector 
who covers a wide field, if in addition to being a collector 
he is a good field naturalist and a close and intelligent ob- 
server; and there must be careful laboratory study of series 
of specimens of all kinds. But the stage has now been 
reached when not onlv life histories, but even taxonomic 



X INTRODUCTION 

characters can normally be studied better in the field than 
in a nuiseuni — or at least, when, althonoh both types of study 
are necessary, the field study is the more important; and 
when intensive study in the field, as carried on at this sta- 
tion, yields more important results than can normally be 
achieved by the roaming collector. 

In addition, it must always be remembered that the 
really first class naturalist whose observations are to bear 
most fruit, must possess the gift of vividly truthful por- 
trayal of what he has possessed, the vision clearly to see in 
its real essentials. The best scientific books, from Darwin 
and Wallace to Bates and Waterton and Audubon, are 
those which possess such vision and are so interesting to 
intelligent laymen that they are often to be found in the 
libraries of cultivated people who are not professed scien- 
tists. Mr. Beebe has the wide horizon of interest, and the 
happy art of expression, which entitle him to go in this 
class. 

This gift of expression is of value because it is based 
on a really phenomenal gift of both wide and minutely in- 
tensive observation. The fundamental differences between 
the quality of his study and the quality of the study of the 
average closet museum worker can be illustrated by his ob- 
servation of those queer South American game birds, the 
tinamous. 

Closet naturalists have long known tliat some of the 
tinamou had rough, and some smooth, tarsi. This fact 
awakened no curiosity in their minds, no desire to find out 
whether it was correlated with any difference in habits or 
life history. They simply treated it as justifying a termin- 
ological decision as to whether it marked a genus or a sub- 
genus; and examined the tarsus of each specimen with only 
sufficient care to enable them to decide the specimen-drawer 
into which it should be thrown. 

Beebe was a different kind of observer, and he was 
working in the ])irds' liaunts, in Demerara. The small tina- 



INTRODUCTION XI 

mou has smooth tarsi; its nesting liabits are extraordinary, 
for the male makes the nest, stays witli it until he can per- 
suade a roving female to drop an e^g in it, and then hatches 
the egg and rears the chick, while the female goes off; and 
as soon as the chick is fairly grown the male finds another 
temporary mate of advanced feministic views. The big tina- 
mou has more normal nesting habits, although the male 
hatches and rears the familv. This tinamou has rou<»h tarsi. 

Beebe found that there was always dust or dirt in these 
rough tarsi; one day he sterilized some earth, by heat, 
scraped the dirt from a rough tinamou tarsus into it, ant] 
reared the culture. Various plants came up, and all of them 
were arboreal. Inasmuch as during the daytime the big 
tinamou, like the little tinamou, was a ground bird, this 
seemed to indicate that it roosted in the trees at night. Cau- 
tious inquiry of the Indians (so made as not to indicate 
that a given answer was expected) drew forth the statement 
that at night the little tinamou roosted on the ground, the 
big one in trees. Finally, watching from a shelter one eve- 
ning, Beebe actually saw a big tinamou ascend a tree and 
squat lengthwise on a branch, just before darkness came on. 

The invaluable studies on the various stages of the 
breeding habits, the nestling development, the molting 
changes of hoatzins, toucans, anis, jacanas, not to speak 
of the studies of the strange swarming insect life, and 
the mammalian life, could onlv have been made by trained 
field observers working with intensive observation out in the 
field at the tropical station. Mr. Beebe and his associates, 
INIessrs. Hartley and Howes, have not only done a first class 
job, but they have pointed out the way into what is probably 
the most fruitful field for original and productive biological 
investigation. 

Theodore Roosevelt. 
Sagamore Hill, 

December 10, 1916. 



PKKl ACE 

I?i tin's volimie my object is two-l'old. Fii'st, to deline- 
ate as concisely and vividly as lies in my ])ower, the general 
aspects of the tropical jnngle and its animal life as I'ai- as 
these came under our ol)servation, and to emphasize the mani- 
fold interest and the paucity of dangers which it offers to 
the scientist or nature-lover. To ])ut it in another way, I 
have attempted a resunie of the gi-osser, more apparent 
characteristics of the region which we have been studying, 
to form a background, however sketchy and unfinished, for 
the more intensive, concrete investigations which follow, as 
well as those which may be undertaken in the future. 

Secondly, I present the studies which my two co-work- 
ers and myself have been enabled to carry on diu-ing six 
months of the current year, 191G, from March to August 
inclusive, at the Tropical Research Station established under 
the auspices of the New York Zoological Society. It thus 
represents that portion of the first year's work, which is 
available for present publication. 

At the request of Prof. Henry Fairfield Osborn I took 
charge of the Tropical Research Station as Directing Cur- 
ator. With me went G. Inness Hartley as Research Asso- 
ciate, Paul G. Howes as Research Assistant and Donald 
Carter as Collector. Two artists, ]Miss liachel Hartley and 
^Nliss Anna H. Taylor completed oiu" party. Whatever 
success has attended this first year of work is due to the unsel- 
fish interest and thoughtful co-operation of all the members. 

Compared with the problems still to be solved and the 
researches of the future, our efforts seem like the scratch of 
a single dredge along the bottom of an unknown ocean. 
This contribution is intended to arouse interest in dynamic 
and sustained field observation in the tropics, and to dispel 
some of the groundless fears which, in the minds of intend- 



\\V PREFACE 

iiii^ visitors, invest these wonderful regions. It will, I hope, 
sn})i)lenient and add to the value of museum zoological work, 
just as this tro])ical field research must, in turn, rest upon a 
(iiiii roiiiidatioii of hiboratory investigation. I desire that 
this \()hiine he considered as the joint contribution of Inness 
Ilartlev, Paul Howes and mvself. 

In detail, 31r. Hartley's researches have been concerned 
chiefly with the gathering of ornithological data and with 
problems of embryology, while ISlr. Howes has confined his 
\\()rk to entomology. The photographic illustrations are 
from negatives taken by JNIr. Howes and myself. For the 
pastel of two trumpeter chicks I am indebted to Miss Persis 
Ivirmse. 

William Beebe. 

Kalacoon House, 

Hills Estate, 

jNIazariini Uiver, 

13ritisli (iuiana. 

August 10, 1916. 



CONTENTS 



TACK 

Dkdication VII 

Introduction hy COloxki. Tiikodoiu: I^oosevelt IX 

Preface , XIII 

PART I— Pv William Beebe. 

I — Establishment of the Tkotical Research Station 'IH 

II — Historical Haktica 3 1 

III — The Naturalists of Bartica District 38 

IV — The General Field ok \Vork 43 

V — The Open Clearing and Secondgrowth 51 

VI — The Jungle and Its Life G9 

VII — The Bird Life of Bartica District 91 

VIII — ^LiST OF THE Birds of Bartica District 127 

IX^ — Akawai Indian and Colonial Names of Birds and 

Mammals of Bartica 138 

X — Methods of Research 147 

XI — Further Notes on the Life History of Hoatzins 155 

XII — The Homes of Toucans 183 

XIII — Ornithological Discoveries 211 

XIV — Young Grey-backed Trumpeters 247 

XV— The Ways of Tinamou 258 

XVI — Wild I-ife near Kalacoon 271 

XVII — The Alligators of Guiana 283 

PART II — By G. Inness Hartley. 

XVI II — Notes on the Development of the Jacana 293 

XIX — Notes on the Development of the Smooth-billed 

Ani 307 

XX — Notes on a Few Embryos 321 

XXI — ^Nesting Habits of the Grey-breasted Martin 328 

XXII Preliminary Notes on the Development of the 

Wing 342 

XXIII — Notes on the Perai Fish 359 



X\ I CONTENTS 

PART III— By Paul G. Howes. 

XX I \' — The Bees and Wasps of Bartica 371 

XX\ — Two Potter Wasps 376 

XX\'I— Lahvai- Sa( rifice 386 

XX\'1I -The Black Reed- Wasp 391 

XX\III — The White-footed Wasp 401 

XXIX— The Forest Shell- Wasp 407 

XXX — The (3ne-banded Dauber 415 

XXXI— The Blue Huntress 424 

XXXI I — Paralyzed Provender , 436 

XXXI II — Controlled Pupation 443 

PART IV — Supplementary Chapters. 

XXX1\' — NoTKs rKO_M the Hinterland of Guiana, ffalter G. 

White ' 453 

XXV — Indian ('harms James Rodtcay 488 

General Index 501 



iLl.USTUA'riOXS 



PAGE 

Nestling Hoa'izix Cm.mbing Fruntisjnece 

Fig. 1. Map ok Coastal J^imiish Gtiana 2i 

2. Street ix Geoiujetown 25 

3. \'ktouia Re(ha, Botanical Garden, Georgetown 26 

4. Kalacoon House 27 

5. CoRNEH OF Laboratokv IX Kalacoon House 28 

6. RriNs OF THE Old Dutch Fort, Kyk-over-al .'{() 

7. Bartka with Its Single Street 31 

S. Gold-boat Leaving Bartka for Upper Mazaruni 36 

9. Penal Settlement from Kalacoon 40 

10. Kalacoon froji the East 44 

11. Map of CJexeral Field of Work, Bartica District 46 

12. Outcropping of Auriferous Quartz near Kalacoon 47 

13. Mazaruni River from near Kalacoon Landing 48 

1 4. Looking South from Kalacoon Compound 50 

15. Newly-cleared Jungle 53 

16. Pure Culture of New Grown Cecropias 55 

17. Thicket of Reeds on Cleared Jungle Land 56 

18. Flowers of the Guiana Allamanda 57 

19. Secondgrowth Thicket Overrun by Razor Grass 58 

20. Grassy Area of Secongrowtii 62 

21. Jungle at the Edge of Secondgrowth 64 

22. Jungle from the Mazaruni, Showing Giant Mora 66 

23. Open Jungle Showing Indian Trail 68 

24. Base and Roots of Giant Mora Tree 72 

25. Jungle Fungus 74 

26. Hollow Tree, Used for Observation and Shelter 77 

27. In the Heart of the Jungle, Searching for a Tou- 
can's Nest, Amid the Tangle of a felled Tree 78 

28. Beesa Monkey, an Inhabitant of the Tree Tops 82 

29. Giant Larva of Rhinoceros Beetle 84 

30. ^VIacushi Indian on His Shooting Platform 86 

31. Akawai Indian Bringing in Peccary for Our Table 89 

32. Great Jacobin Hummingbird on Roosting Perch 113 

33. Akawai Indian Bringing in Agoutis and Curassows 118 

34. Shipping Crates of Live Mammals, Birds and Rep- 
tiles FROM Kalacoon Landing 124 

35. Jungle Pit No. Five, Which Trapped many Mice 
AND Amphibians 1 49 



will ILLUSTRATIONS 

C'an'jf CrffKj SrrowiNG .Mi ( ka-.mic ka and BuNDARr 

PiMPLEK, Home of the Hoatzix 15i 

MUCKA-MUCKA, CHARACTERISTIC GrOVVTH OF THE 

HoATziNs' Haunts 1 57 

IJr.N'Drni Pimpler Tangle, Showing Three Nests 

AND Six Hoatzins IGl 

Nest of the Hoatzin Built over the Water 162 

HoATziN ON Nest Containing Two Nestlings 165 

Nestling Hoatzins Preparing to Climb or Dive 167 

Hoatzins Climbing by Neck, Fincjers and Toes 168 

Nest and Two Eggs of the Hoatzin 17.'} 

Young Hoatzin Attempting to Progress on Solid 

Ground 175 

Young Hoatzin Swimming Toward the Right; 

Head, Wings, Back and Tail Showing 177 

YoiTNG Hoatzin Climbing, Showing Use of Thumb 

AND Fore Finger with Their Claws 178 

H Ki)-BiLLED Toucan 185 

Dead Tree Showing Nesting Hole of Green Ara- 

cari Toucan 1 86 

Our Negro Climber, Sixty Feet up 188 

Tall, Nesting Tree of Red-billed Toucan 190 

Nest of Red-billed Toucan, Showing Entrance 

AND Base, the Latter Opened Out with Axe 191 

Eggs and Nesting Material of Red-billed Toucan 195 

Eggs of Red-billed Toucan, Natural Size 197 

Tree with Nesting Hole of Black-necked Aracari 198 

Front View of Ten-day-old Aracari 200 

Side View of Ten-day-old Aracari 201 

Side View of Seventeen-day-old Aracari 202 

Heel-pad of Ten-day-old Aracari Toucan : 204 

Heel-pad of Seventeen-day-old Aracari Toucan 205 

Left Heel-pad of Ten-day-old Aracari Toucan, 

Showing Relation to Leg and Tarsus 208 

61. Mid-jungle, Hiding Undiscovered Nest of Suplhur- 
and-white-breasted Toi^can 210 

62. Nest and Eggs of Talpacoti Ground Dove 212 

63. Nest and Eggs of White-necked Crake 214 

64. Nest and Eggs of Cayenne Crake 217 

65. E(i<; OF Dusky Nighthawk 218 

66. Nest of Guiana Tyrantlet 220 

67. Nest of the Oily Fly-catcher 222 

68. Nest ang Eggs of Cinereus Bushbird 226 

69. Nesting Stub of Rufous-fronted Antcatcher 228 

70. Nest and Eggs of Rufous-fronted Antcatcher 230 

71. Nest and Eggs of Qu.*drille Bird 232 

72. Nest and Eggs of Orange-headed Manakin 236 



l•i^^ 


36. 


tt 


37, 


" 


38. 


(4 


3!». 


** 


40. 


*' 


41. 


<f 


42. 


n 


43. 


it 


44. 


tt 


45. 


-«« 


46. 


tt 


47. 


tt 


48. 


tt 


M). 


** 


50. 


* * 


51. 


tt 


52 


** 


53 


tt 


54. 


tt 


55, 


tt 


56. 


tt 


57, 


tt 


58, 


tt 


59, 


tt 


60 



ILLUSTRATIONS XLX 

Fig. 73. Nest and Eggs of Brown-breasted Pygmy Grosbeak 238 

74. Nest and Eggs of Chestxct-bellied Seed-eater 2t0 

75. Nest of the Blue Honey Creeper 242 

76. Nest of Moriche Oriole 244 

77. Young Grey-backed Trumpeters. Color Plate, facincj 247 

78. YoiTNG Trumpeters P'our Days Old _ 248 

79. Young Trumpeters Two Months Old 250 

80. Rounded Wing and Degenerate Tail of Tinamou 254 

81. Rough Tarsus of Tinamus 256 

82. Smooth Tarsus of Ckypterus 257 

83. Nesting Site of Guiana Great Tinamou 260 

84. Nest and Eggs of Guiana Great Tinamou 262 

85. Patches of Bete Rouge on Head of Great Tinamou 264 

86. Egg of Pileated Tinamou 266 

87. Egg of Variegated Tinamou 270 

88. The Open Clearing of Kalacoon Compound 272 

89. Fawn of S.mall Grey Deer 274 

90. Young Caica Parrots 275 

91. Cashew Trees near Kalacoon 276 

92. Giant >L\rine Toad 278 

93. Caterpillar of Sphinx ]Moth 280 

94. Mole Cricket and Young 281 

95. TuBFUL of Newly-hatched Alligators 284 

96. Young Alligators Mounted for Sale 286 

97. Guiana Alligators One Day Old 288 

98. Diastataxy of the AVing of the Young Jacana 298 

99. Claws of Three-day-old Jacana Chick, Showing 

Curvature 302 

100. Chart of Relationship Between Leg, Body and 

^VING of the Growing Jacana 304 

" 101. Diagram^ Ontogenetic Variations, Wing of Jacana 306 

102. Ani Embryo, Showing Pigmentation of Femoral 

Tract 308 

" 103. Pterylosis of Ani 309 

" 104. Wing Knobs of the Ani 310 

105. Development of the Third Digit of the Ani 312 

106. Diagram, Ontogenetic Variations of Wing in Ani 316 
" 107. Ossification of the Tibio-tarsus of the Ani 318 

108. Development of the Bill of the Ani 320 

109. Embryo of the Dusky Nighthawk 322 

110. Pterylosis of Head of Embryo Dusky Nighthawk 323 

111. Development of Bill of the Dusky Nighthawk 324 

112. Grey-breasted Martin Three Days Old 332 

" 113. Nesting Box of the Grev-breasted Martin 334 

114. Diagram of Wing Development of the Hoatzin 343 

" 115. Diagram of Wing Development of Trumpeter 344 



XX ILLLSTRATIONS 

Fig. IK). Diagram, Wing Development of Black-necked 

Tore AN 3i8 

117. Diagram, \\'ing Development of American Catbird 3i9 

118. Diagram of Hand Development of the Hoatzin 354 

119. Diagram, Hand Development of Guiana Kiskadee 355 

120. Diagram, Hand Development of Black-necked 

Toucan 356 

li-'l. Diagram, Hand Development of Grey-breasted 

]Martin 357 

" 122. Head of the Perai 3G0 

" 123. The Perai 3G2 

" 121. Chart of Rainfall as Correlated mitii the Nest- 
ing OF Wasps and Bees in Bartica District 372 

125. Life Histories of Bartica ^^'ASPS. Color Plate, facing 376 

" 126. JiuFF Iu'menes Resting on Her Nest 378 

" 127. Detailed Views of Earthen Jugs Made by the Red 

Eumenes 380 

128. Nest of Buff Eumenes, Showing Finished Cells 

AND One Open for Storing 382 

129. Jugs of Red Eumenes Opened to Show Contents 384 

130. R()A{ h-killer Showing Gradual Transformation 

OF I>arva to Pupa 388 

131. Pupa of the Roach-killer just after the Trans- 

formation FROM THE Larva 388 

" 132. Black Reed Wasp 395 

133. Life Histories of Bartica Wasps. Color Plate, facing 401 

134. Cocoon of White-footed Wasp, Showing Its Elab- 

orate Construction 406 

" 135. The Poorest Shell Wasp 408 

136. One-banded Dauber 416 

137. Blue Huntress at her Nest 426 

138. Spider Removed from Cell of the Blue Huntress 

Showing Egg in Position on Victim's Abdomen 428 

139. Cell of the Blue Huntress, Opened to Show 

Cocoon 432 

1 10. Pupa of the Blue Huntress Showing Folded Legs 
AND Abdominal Buttresses, Which Prevent In- 

.U'RY AGAINST THE SiDES OF THE CoCOON 434 

141. ^'ERMILLION Nut Opened to Show Imprisoned Lar- 
vae OF Vermillion Nut Fly 446 

1 1-2. The Hinterland of British Guiana Lying on the 

L'l'PER Rapo-nunni River. (Map) 452 

1 13. Caladium Beenas or Indian Charms. Color Plate, 

facing 488 



PART I 

(General) 

NARRATIVE AND ECOLOGICAL 
By WILLIAM BEEBE 

DIRECTING CURATOR 



CHATTEll I 

THE ESTABLISIIjNIENT OF THE TROPICAE RESEARCH STATION 

Within one niontli after our party left New York City 
the Tropical Keseareh Station of the New York Zoological 
Society became an established fact, and the succeeding sea- 
son's results proved the wisdom and success of the under- 
taking. As in all types of exploration the dominant factor 
in this work was uncertainty; the impossibility of knowing 
what each day would reveal of error or achievement. But 
oin- own single-mindedness of purpose combined with the 
unanimous good-will and sympathy of the people of Guiana 
left no doubt of ultimate success. 

The most difficult thing throughout was to resist the 
lure of many openings and invitations which seemed to offer 
opportunities ahiiost equal to the conception with which T 
had set out. Grenada embodied one's ideal of a tropical 
island, and when a short walk revealed rhinoceros beetles 
and hummingbirds' nests and an abundance of strange birds, 
it seemed well worth while to spend a month there. Trinidad 
was still more of a temptation. Here were zoologists — most 
hospitable and as full of the joy of scientific work as our- 
selves, and here was a great island which I knew from for- 
mer experience to be teeming from sea-beach to mountain 
top, with interesting forms of life. But after all, it was an 
island, and the headlands of Venezuela were in sight. 

My ambition for the Zoological Society's Station was 
to have a continent to draw upon. So with real regret 
we continued our voyage and reached Georgetown. The 
big kiskadees shouted welcome from the unlovely corrugated 
roofs of the stellings, just as they had seven years before. 
And during all this time the Botanical Gardens had lost no 



24 



THOPKAT. WILD LIFE IN lUilTISH GUIANA 




FIG. 1. MAP OF COASTAL BRITISH GUIANA 



whit of beauty, nor the people aught of their whole-souled 
sympathy and generous hospitality. 

We found a house and servants aw-aiting us, and here 
w^e made our headquarters. We began w^ork in the Gardens, 
but soon found that this and the surrounding country, how- 
ever wtII adapted to certain forms of life and to sugar plan- 
tations, ottered too limited a field for our investigation. I 
undertook a series of short trips in various directions, radiat- 
ing from Georgetown as fingers radiate from the palm of a 
hand. And again came the temptation to select one placo 
or another as being almost all we could desire. We found 
interesting Indian villages up the Demerara with good sec- 
ondgrowtli jungle close at hand: far beyond the Essecpiibo 



ESTABLISHMENT Ol STATION 



25 




I'hoto by U". B. 



FIG. 2. STREET IN GEORGETOWN 



River we motored to the end of the Pomeroon Trail, where 
great moras and kakaralhs towered overhead, and we were 
ahnost persuaded. Then one day, in a down-pour of rain 
I followed an old river trip of mine, made years ago, up the 
Essequibo to Bartica. Here I knew at last that the Station 
would find a worthy home at least for this season. I re- 
turned at onee, purchased a houseful of furnishings, and 
without a moment's delay we packed up again and trekked 
inland. So swiftly did we work, that even in this slow mov- 
ing tropic land we were able in three day's time to entertain 
our first guests. Colonel and ]Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt and 
Mr. and Mrs. Withers. 

To make our manners properly to all those who have 
aided us would be equivalent almost to a roster of the inhabi- 



26 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




rituti) bij ir. B. 



FIG. 3. VICTORIA REGIA IN BOTANICAL GARDEN 
TRENCH, GEORGETOWN 



tants of Georgetown. I cannot refrain from mentioning 
the names of the Governor, Sir Walter and Lady Egerton, 
Hon. and Mrs. Cecil Clementi, Hon. J. J. Nunan, Prof. 
Harrison, ^Ir. Hodway, Mr. and Mrs. Hayes and Mr. Cun- 
ningham in Georgetown, Mr. Beckett in Berbice and Mr. 
Frere and IMr. Withers in the vicinity of Kalacoon. To Mr. 
Withers, through Robert Simpson, President of the Bartica 
Agricultural Estates, we are indebted for Kalacoon itself, 
on the Hills rubber estate, rent-free. For this and a score 
of other kindnesses, words fail to express adequate apprecia- 
tion. We prefer to feel that the gift is one to science, which 
we, the benefiters, can repay only by the hardest, most sin- 
cere work of investigation, of which we are capable. 

Kalacoon is a very large, two-storied house, built on a 
rather abrupt hill, some two hundred feet above the Maza- 
runi Ri^er. The laboratory room alone, on pillars fifteen 
feet above the ground, was thirty by sixty feet with sixteen 
windows. Two miles below the liouse the Mazaruni entered 



ESTAJiLLSHMENT OE STATION 



27 



the equally large Esseqiiibo, wliile the mouth of the Cuyuni 
River was the same distance above. All tliree rivers were 
visible, together with nine islands. To the East lay the rub- 
ber plantation of JNIr. Withers, and across the river the tiny 
group of coni])act, attractive buildings of the Government 
Rest House and the Penal Settlement. Beyond these and 
toward all other points of the compass solid jungle covered 
the rolling hills. 

No more central spot could ])e found, tior one more 
delicately bahmced between the absolute primitive wilder- 
ness and tliose comforts of civilization which mean continual 
healtli and the ability to use bodv and brain to the utmost. 
Three times a week a little steamer brought ice, fresh vege- 
tables and mail. GeorgetoAMi could be reached in five min- 
utes by telegraph and Xew York lialf an hour later liy 




Fiiohi by W. B. 



FIG. 4. KALACOON HOUSE 




M 

D 
O 
K 

O 
O 

o 
<: 

< 



O 
H 

<: 

K 
O 
PQ 
<! 

O 
« 

iz; 

O 






ESTAlil.lSll.Mi:.\l' OF STATION 29 

cable, wliik' the steamer liij) to (ieorgetown occupied oul} 
seven liours. Yet no one ))as.se(l us. save an occasional 
<4()\erniiient ollieial, or a dii^-oul of neoTo o-ojd-dio-o-ers 
or diamond seekers, or the wood-skin of an Indian. 
Throuahout all the months oui- Indian himlci- found an 
abundance of meat for the table within a mile oi- two of the 
house, and I was one da}^ char^^ed by a ja.L>iiai- oidy a few 
hundred yards awav. I shall reserve I'oi- other articles an 
account of the more common creatures which surrounded us; 
1)1 it these few facts emphasize the extremes of life at Kaia- 
coon. 'I'he shortest walk often furnished material for days 
of research. For longer expeditions we had launches at om- 
disposal, for ascen(lin.L>- the rivers to ^ the rapids and falls, 
while Ml'. ^Vither's I'ord cai- climbed the most impossible 
hills and found its way along trails which otherwise were 
traversed only by naked Akawai and Carib Indian hunters. 

For those who think of the tropics as a place of con- 
stant dano-er and disease, I may say that mosquitoes and 
flies, malaria and other fevers were absent. A cool breeze 
blew most of the day, the temperature varying- from 68 to 
93 degrees. At night a heavy blanket was a necessity. A 
few poisonous snakes were found, but only after prolonged 
searching. A lantern, turned low, kept away the vampires, 
and while bete rouge were annoying, they were easily guard- 
ed against. Under such conditions it was possible to work 
hard day after day, month after month, and remain un- 
poisoned, unbitten and in good health. 

The one terrible disadvantage, the one thing which no 
planning, or finance or forethought could alter was the piti- 
fully inadequate ability of each of our human brains to cope 
properly with a tithe of the specimens which accumulated, or 
to understand and translate into logical explanation more 
than the mei'est fraction of the mass of strange facts and 
phenomena which filled our minds and note-books. 




I'holu III/ 1'. U. II. 
FIG. 6. RUINS OF THE OLD DUTCH FORT, KYK-OVER-AL 



CHAl^rKH II 



IIIS'IOKICAL HAKTIC'A 



Totlav we Had Georgetown with sixtv-odd thousand 
people, with trams and raih-oads and motor cars; with doz- 
ens of sugar j)huitations scattered along the coastland, em- 
ploying thousands of coolie and negro laborers. Two score 
miles of river travel up the Kssequiho hi-ing us, as I have 
said, to Kalacoou House near Bartica, from which we see 
only jungle, save for the small Penal Settlement, a bunga- 
low or two at Katabo Point, the Hills rubber plantation and 
an old Dutch arch-way on a little island. But this ruined 
arch of bricks is reminiscent of very different times. 

When Georgetown was unknown, when the coast of 
British Guiana was only one great swamp and marsh in- 
habited bv cannibal Caribs, then this arch-wav echoed to the 
clank of old-fashioned muskets and the boom of flare- 
mouthed cannon. Commanding the junction of three great 
rivers, the Dutch chose this tiny island, built a fort on it 
and named it Kyk-over-al, and like Kalacoon House today, 
it literally "looked over all." It is said that the Dutch when 
they first came, found traces of still earlier Spanish occupa- 
tion of this islet. If true, this was clear evidence of the visit 
)f Raleigh or some of his lieutenants in their search for the 
mysterious El Dorado. The succeeding history of this re- 
gion is not strictly germain to the purpose of this volume, 
but a few notes on the vicissitudes of man's occupation are 
well w^orthy of record. 

The fort on the island was built by the Dutch over 
three hundred years ago, in 1013, but during the succeed- 
ing few years w^e know little of what happened, except that 
fifty-five years later all this region was desolate, whether 
due to the attacks of Indians we shall never know. In 1670 



32 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 



Hendrik Kol took charge at Kyk-over-al, as Governor, Cap- 
tain, Storekeeper and Indian Trader, and soon there were 
three phmtations on the surrounding points of land. A 
visitor to one of these reports tliat tlieir ''reception was very 
cordial, the dinner being perfect, consisting of five different 
kinds of roast meat, including deer, fowl, duck, turkey and 
pigeons besides made dishes of labba and waterhog. The 
drinks were mum, wine and brandy, with which they kept 
themselves merry until the evening when they returned to 
the fort full and jolly [vol en zoet) ! So much for social 
life two hundred and fifty years ago in this region. 

In the year 1678 the West Indian Company of Zeeland 
had four plantations, Vryheid on the present site of Bartica, 
Duinenburg and Fortuin near Kalacoon and Poelwyck on 
Caria Island. Succeeding history tells of a constant succes- 
sion of petty quarrels and bickerings among the Dutch them- 
selves, varied by periods of prosperity, at the height of which 
they were usually captured and plundered by French and 
English corsairs or pirates. One account remains, recorded 
bv ]Mr. Rodwav. On October 18, 1708, a French privateer 
under Captain Anthony Ferry, with three vessels and three 
hundred men, came to Essequibo for the purpose of plun- 
dering the colony. They took the Brandw^agt (guardhouse) 
at the mouth of the river, which was garrisoned by only 
three soldiers, before the Commandeur could send assistance. 
Immediately on the report of the arrival of the enemy, van 
der Heyden tried his best, by sending a few soldiers down 
the river, to stop their progress, but the Brandwagt having 
been already captured, the soldiers returned to Kyk-over-al. 
The enemy proceeded np the river, burning a few Indian 
villages that lay on the banks, and came to Bartica Point 
without the slightest opposition. Here the manager of 
Plantation Vryheid tried to oppose their landing with the 
aid of his slaves and what friends he could get together from 
the immediate neighborhood. He sent to the Commandeur 
asking for help, but it appears that van der Heyden was 



HISTORICAL JiARTICA 33 

possessed of more discretion tlum valor, for he kept within 
the fort. The nuuumer of A"i-\ lieid, with his few slaves was 
quite powerless against such a nuniher of disciplined, well- 
armed men, and it therefore soon followed that the French 
were masters of the Point, driving away its defenders with 
a loss on their part of two killed and several wounded. Being 
now landed, Captain Ferry commenced a series of raids on 
all the neighhoring plantations, plundering them of every- 
thing portahle, the managers and planters taking refuge in 
the fort. Here everything was in confusion, the Comman- 
deur being blamed by the planters for allowing their estates 
to be 23lundered, when he ought to have gone to their assist- 
ance. He excused himself by insisting that his fifty soldiers 
were useless against such an enemy while it was his duty to 
defend the fort and so prevent the loss of the whole colony. 
No attempt was made to storm Kyk-over-al, but Ferry sent 
an officer under a flag of truce to demand ransom, with 
threats that if it were not paid all the estates would be bin-ned 
and destroyed. To preserve the Colony the Commandeur 
capitulated and entered into negotiations with the enemy. 
Finally Ferry undertook to leave the Colony unmolested 
on a payment of fifty thousand florins. This amount was 
paid in slaves at three hundred florins per head, meat and 
other provisions, besides one thousand pieces of eight in cash 
for the Captain and his officers. One third of this ransoni 
had to be paid by the almost-ruined o^^^lers of the private 
estates, while the remaining two-thirds was settled by one 
hundred and twelve of the Company's slaves. 

AA^ith the realization that the soil of the interior was 
not nearly as well suited to the raising of sugar-cane as that 
of the coastal lowlands, there began, about 1721, a migra- 
tion toward the coast, which eventually resulted in the dyk- 
ing and settlement of that region and the relinquishment 
of all the interior part of the Colony. The last authentic 
note of this period of man's occupation is that in 1764 Fort 
Kyk-over-al was ])artly torn down to furnish hewn stone 



34 



TKOI'K AI. WILD LIFK IN BRITISH GUIANA 




^^^'^^m^' 



^ifl^' 



FIG. 7. BARTICA WITH ITS SINGLE STREET 



T'hi/h, hji W . I! 



loi- the .sugur mill ol' the l^laiitation Diiineiiburg — this being 
of interest because the plantation was exactly on the site 
ul' the present Kalacoon House. 

After the desertion of Kvk-over-al and Vrvheid, the 
jungle closed in once more, and for more than one hundred 
years we hear nothing further of this ])art of the coiuitry. 
Then began a brief religious era, and in 1829 a mission sta- 
tion was established at the place known to the Indians as 
Hartika or Red Karth. 

I offer witliout comment a seriously written paragraph 
from a volume by the Rev. W. T. Veness on "Ten Years 
of ^Mission Life in British Cxuiana." It is written of the 
region immediately around Bartica. "The sky is clear, the 
air exhilarating and balniy, the climate delightfully equable 
and tlie face of Nature most charming; but what a catalogue 



TTTSTC*^!- AT i^virricA ;}.) 

ut' liorroi> when you step fortli ti) make an intimate acciuaint- 
aiice within tlie l)eaiities so hivishly (lis])hiye(l on every sitle. 
Tlie l)ete rouu'e ahnost (h-i\es you to (hstraction. the wood- 
tiek torments you hoirihly. the .snakes fri^^hten you out of 
voui- ht'e, the l)at will hardlv allow von to sleep for (h-ead 
of heino- drained o\' yt)ur life-blood, and the ehigoe threatens 
von with a prospeet of amputation. Sueh are some of the 
deliuhts of a life in the wilds of Guiana. Let no timid man 
attempt it." 

^^'ith missionaries who eould helieve and write sueh ab- 
surdities it is hardly remai'kable that im Thnrn. visitint^' 
Bartiea in 1878. writes that Bartica Grove, once a tlonrish- 
ino' mission station, is now reduced to a few wooden huts, 
used as stores, a ehurch recently half restored from a most 
ruinous condition, a few small li\ in^- houses and some timber 
sheds. These latter, he adds, are ])ietiiresniie hnildiuii-s. eon- 
sisting of a few u})riuht posts supporting roofs of withered 
palm leaves, lender their eaves colonies of gigantic greeii 
spiders, as large as thrushes' eggs, watcli their webs, undis- 
turbed from year's end to year's end. The \vlu>le sleepy, 
beautiful village lies under the shade of an avenue of large 
manii'o trees. From this avenue the view riverward is of an 
enormous stretch of water: the view landward is of a tangled 
shrubbery of tiowering bushes. I'roiii which i-ise groups of 
graceful palms, and is bounded in the distance by the edge 
of the forest. The ditches and paths in the village are choked 
bv oTcat masses of maidenhair ferns and silver-backed 
gymnograms. 

A few vears after the decadence of the mission station 
came a second K\ Dorado, when the discovery of gold and 
diamonds up the Mazaruni and Cuyuni rivers brought hosts 
of blacks and bovianders. The only changes which the suc- 
ceeding two score years have wrought in im Thurn's de- 
scription of Bartiea, are an increase in small houses to ac- 
commodate the several hundred inhabitants, and unlovely 
telegraph, police and ])ost ottices. besides a stelling for the 



36 



TROPICAT. WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 





FIG. 8. 



I'lmln h]i W. B. 
GOLD-BOAT LEAVING BARTICA FOR THE UPPER MAZARUNI 



tiny steamers whieli come up river thrice a week. It is still 
a very sleepy, useless village and a very attractive one to 
the casual observer. 

And so we find the little part which this Bartica dis- 
trict has played in history framed in gold, beginning with 



HISTORICAL BARTICA 37 

the El Dorado of Kalei(>li and ending today with tlie liiini- 
ble washing pan of the boviander. Instead of boats loaded 
with gallant courtiers sweeping nj)i-iver to sands of pure 
gold and rocks fretted with precious stones, I hear from 
Kalacoon House the chanty of the black i)ad(llers, and soon 
around Bartica Point conies the bargeful of gold-diggers, 
off on their half year's journey, ha])])y if they can bring 
back a little bagful of the glittering grains, or a few dozen 
dull diamonds in the rough. 

Standing today on Kyk-over-al, in the shadow of the 
old brick arch hung with vines and draped with orchids, we 
have left British Guiana as the world knows it, far behind 
us, along the distant sea-coast. Facing toward the great 
hinterland we know that nothing but jungle lies before, with 
two narrow Indian trails as the only means of entrance to 
this unexplored, unmapped region, besides the alternative 
of toilsome paddling against swift currents and laborious 
portages around innumerable falls and rapids. 

Some day, motor tracks and a railroad will be pushed 
inland, fretting this region, so tiny on the map of South 
America, so tremendous when one stands deep hidden in its 
jungles. Then the great wealth of the interior of British 
Guiana will become apparent, whether it be to forester, min- 
er, lapidarist or planter, or like ourselves, to mere seekers 
after truth bv wav of the lives of beasts and birds and insects. 



CHAPTER III 

THE NATURALISTS OF BARTICA DISTRICT 

The pait wliicli 15artica district has played in science 
is of considci'able interest. Plumboldt, Walhice and Bates 
left Guiana unexplored. Waterton's researches were con- 
fined to the lower Denierara liiver. As early as 1776 seri- 
ous books on the natural history of British Guiana began 
to a])pear, but like Bancroft's "P^ssay" these are of only 
casual interest, although their accounts of "torporific eels" 
and "woods masters" make delightful reading. 

On September 25, 18.3o, Robert Schomburgk arrived 
at Essequibo Point, later to be called His Majesty's Penal 
Settlement, and spent about ten days collecting botanical 
specimens, and preparing for his long expedition up coinitry. 
During the next decade both he and his brother touched 
occasionally at Bartica. Richard Schomburgk in the first 
volume of his "Reisen in Britisch-Guiana" tells of a short 
sojourn at Bartika-Grove in 1841, and of the capture of 
a sloth with its young on the neighboring island of Xaiku- 
ripa or Keow Island as it is now called. Xineteen months 
later he returned to Bartika, where he captured a beautiful 
green whip snake Dr if aphis catcshi/i, and noted that the 
Penal Settlement had been established. 

In volume III of this same work, Schomburgk gives 
a list of Mihroslcopisches Lehen as found at Bartica in suc- 
cessive layers of soil uncovered in a seven-foot hole. ' The 
remaining groups which he treats in these volumes, mol- 
lusca, insects, birds, mammals and plants, are identified only 
with general regions or physical zones, and with no more 

* These arc Pohipastrira — GalUonella clisfans 

Phi/tdlilJinrid .Irnphidi.irus roteUn 

Lilhaxtcrinrus tiiherciilnliis Sijoiniolilliis jistiilosa 

Litho.it t/rKl!itm clnvatvm Spo?i(/olifhis foram in osa 

LithoKl iilUJlnm cycriiilal nm Spnnf/olifhi.f ftisti.t 

tipon (join his acicnJari.t Spoiufolilhin obliisii 



NATURALISTS C)l EARTICA 39 

exact indication of tlieir (listri])ution. Tlis list of ])ir(ls num- 
bers 418 species. 

In 1837 Williiini TTIllionse made a trij) np the Cuynni 
in search of orchids, and writes: "1 readied C'ahcoon Creek 
in the ISIassaroony llivei- on tlie first of March, and had to 
return to town foi- craft and sui)])hes, as 1 found literally the 
whole population without bread." 

A natui'alist and botanist who was intimately associ- 
ated with this ])articular region was Carl Ferdinand Appun, 
who spent twenty-three years in Venezuela and (ruiana, 
being sent out by King Frederick Wilhelm IV of Prussia 
on the recommendation of the great Humboldt. The sum- 
mai'v of his many years of travel in British (luiana is "iven 
in the second volume of his "Tenter den Tropen." Tliis is 
a conscientiously but stolidly written w^ork, with a few (juaint 
bnt charming illustrations from pencil by the author. Twb 
of the originals are in the Georgetown INIusenm. The sec- 
ond chapter of this volume is devoted to his excursions in 
the vicinity of the Penal Settlement and Bartica. He spent 
two years there, 18.57 and 18.59, but his fifty pages of obser- 
vations could quite easily have been made in a month's time. 
Fourteen years later we find the following pathetic entries 
in his journal, written w^ien at Kaiateiu" Falls and repro- 
duced in the Royal Gazette at Georgetown. 

June 1.5 — Returned to Hymyyeug. We were not re- 
ceived very pleasantly, the old Pankoo seemed to be quite 
disappointed that ^ve were not killed during onr expedition 
to the top of the fall. The Indians have a suspicion that 
we are looking for gold; an old tradition of the Indians of 
British Guiana is, that when the white man digs for gold 
in their territory, the Indian race will be destroyed forever. 
Commenced to |)aint the view of the upper fall. 

Jnne 10 — Painted on the pict\n-e; a general consulta- 
tion among the Indians about our looking for gold. 

Monday, 17 — Painted the whole day, no sleep during 
the night. 



40 



TROl'ICAL WILD LIFE IX BRITISH GUIANA 




Plioto by Tr. n. 



FIG. 9. PENAL SETTLEMENT FROM KALACOON 



Tuesday, 18 — Painted tlie lower part of the picture, 
chiefly the forest. Received a larc^e Trigonocephalus atrooc. 
The iVecawai Edward huilding a hut near us. How long- 
we shall li^'e, (rod knows, our end is near. 

Wednesday, 19 — Painted all day and spent a miser- 
able day. We have no way of escape, as we have no coria) 
or boat of any kind. 

Thursdav, 20 — Painted and nearlv finished the view 
of the up])er part of the Kaiateur falls, seeing no way of 
escape, 1 am determined to meet my fate. 

June 21 — The last day of my life! This night all will 
be over. Tliey come! I take poison." 

Although frightfully burned M^th carbolic acid, his 
com])am*on brought Dr. Appun down river to the Penal 
Settlement, where he died after two days. His fears of the 



NATURALISTS OF BARTICA 41 

Indians were only partly real, most of the danger being 
purely imaginary. 

IJoyd, an amateur naturalist, mIio has written i)leas- 
antly in Tiniehi-i, lived for some time at Kalaeoon, and im 
Thurn in his "Among the Indians of Guiana" gives the 
excellent pen picture of 15artica Grove, written on the oc- 
casion of his visit in 1878, which 1 have already reproduced. 

Henry Whitely, an Knglish collector of bird skins, 
spent some time between the years 1879 and 1884 at 15artica 
Grove and there collected two hundred and fifty-four spe- 
cies. His complete British Guiana collections combined 
with these of Schombui"gk niiinber ()1() forms. These are 
enumerated in the various volumes of the British INIuseum 
Catalos'ue of Birds, and in several articles by Osbert Salvin 
published in the Ibis for 1884. Whitely is the only bird 
collector who has done any extensive work in this vicinity. 

In 1900 I paid a visit to this region and ascended the 
Cuyuni and the Aremu Rivers, and subsequently published 
my observations on the fauna in book form, "Our Search 
for a Wilderness." Carl Eigenmann in his recent technical 
volume on the "Fresh-water Fishes of British Guiana" re- 
marks on page 30, that "a series of collections in fresh water 
was made at sea-level .... Wismer, Malali and Bartica." 
He himself did not visit the latter place, and the only other 
note is a list of thirty-three species recorded from Bartica. ' 

^Cnllojihusii.i nuirroptervs ^focnkhaiisin Ippuiiirtis 

Plmelndus clarias Creatodumes affinii 

Hemldorns carinatns Creatochanes caiidomaculatus 

Trarh'irori/sfr's ohsctints Astyannx essequihens-is 

Lorirariisihjis f/riseus Hnlnhrj/rnn fesu 

Bh'ihranrhia protrartUn Chalriniis rolimdafii.i 

Anltifs-ia notata Meft/niih hi/psavchen 

Anoittomus pUcatus Mi/lophis pacu 

LepnrhiKS nigrotoenuitns M;ilophifi riif>ripivvi.t 

Lejiorlniix friderici ^fi/Jopliis rhnmhnidaJh 

Leporlnus macidatvs Serrasalnio rhomhev.t 

Leporinus alternus Stole phorus guianensis 

Leporinvs fasciatus Stolephorus suranamensis 

Tefrngotwpterus chnlreiiR ParJn/pops furrrnev.t 

Moenkhausia (jravd'mqiifimis GenpluKitis nurinamensls 

Mocnkhausia shideleri CrenidrhJit hif/uhria 

Colomesus psittacus 



42 TROPICAL WILD TJFE IN BRITLSH GUIANA 

The fish fauna of the ^Mazanini and the Cuvuni Rivers has 
never been invest! (>atecl. 

A boviander who worked for me, Ro})ert Cozier, col- 
lected skins in this vicinity for jMr. James McConnell. An 
annotated list of the skins in this gentleman's collections 
is being at present published, under the editorsliip of Cliarles 
Chubb. The first volume of the "Birds of British Guiana" 
has already appeared. From the Tinamous to the Wood- 
peckers inclusive, three hundred and forty-nine forms are 
recognized. 



CIIiVPTKll IV 

THE GENERAI, FIELD OF \V()KK 

In central British (iuiana, about forty miles from the 
coast, the Esseqiiibo river receives its mightiest tributary — 
the Mazaruni, coming in obHquely from the west. At the 
apex of the peninsula formed by this junction is tlie village 
of Bartica. Its chief reason for existence is as a rendezvous 
for black gold and diamond miners, who here fit out and 
here return from the hinterland of the jNIazaruni and the 
Cuyuni rivers. Aside from this the village is negligible and 
interests us only in name. 

Witliin three miles of Bartica is a lime plantation and 
another of rubber, the latter, the Hills Estate, operated 
by G. B. Withers. On the opposite bank of the Mazaruni 
is the Penal Settlement and a government Colony House. 
A mile upstream is Katabo Point at the junction of the 
^lazaruni and Cuyuni rivers. Here is located the supply 
bungalow of the Peters ^line Company. Except for occa- 
sional Indian and Boviander clearings this constitutes the 
human occupancy of the region. All else is untouched jun- 
gle or "high bush." The needs of this tiny community are 
catered to by a little steamer which makes three trips each 
week between Georgetown and Bartica. Our Research 
Station was situated at Kalacoon House, a recent addition 
to the Hills Estate. This is two and a half miles south-west 
of Bartica, on a two hundred-foot hill overlooking the Maza- 
runi River. 

With the exception of occasional trips to the first falls 
of the INIazarnni and Cuyuni rivers, across to the Penal 
Settlement and down to Keow Island, all our work dvn'ing 
1916 was done witliin two miles of Kalacoon House. In 
fact, one-half square mile of the jungle south of the Station 



GENERAI FIELD OF WORK ^ 

would cover the area of four- tilths of oiir researches. And 
now at the end of oiu' stay, as we look back over the results 
of this new experiment in tropical scientific work, we realize 
that with all our etforts we have made only the merest be- 
ginning, and that many men could spend their lives in prof- 
itable research at this spot. 

Kalacoon House faces the iunction of tliree mio:ht\- 
rivers. Innulreds of miles from their soiu^ces in the hitrhlamls 
of Venezuela and Brazil: at our back door begins a jungle 
throuofh which one miijht wander as far as San Francisco 
from Xtw York without meeting a human beinj?. Our 
provinc^e in general is a colony less in size than Colorado, 
and oiu- chosen plot for research is of equal area with Cen- 
tral Park in New York City. 

The ireoloirv of Bartica district is not of sfreat interest. 
Indeed, looking at the panorama encircling Kalacoon House, 
one is unconscious of any evidence of earthly inorganic 
structure: vegetation fills the landscape. We have passed 
the low. marshv alluvial coastal zone, and have not vet 
reached the mountainous hinterland. Here we have rolling 
hills covered with dense hiofh iiuiirle. trisected bv the navi- 
gable waters of the tliree great rivers, iuid veined with many 
small creeks. AMien we come to examine the rocks which 
here and there protrude through the foliage or become visible 
at low water, we find that the general aspect of the skeleton 
of the country is not unlike that around Xew York City. 

At low tide, bare rocks are visible ahnost in mid-stream, 
stretching directly across the bottom and several miles up 
the river, where this great belt of grey granite here and 
there breaks through the evergreen mass of vegetation. 
Tliis is one of the most recent of the basal igneous rocks ot 
the colonv. Xo fossils are found anvwhere. even in the 
sandstone farther down river. The rocky islets oif Bartica 
are a dark hornblende-schist. This completes the tale of 
the stone, except for an interesting vein of quartz extending 
across a tinv stream near Kalacoon, wliich has been foimd 



^6 



TROPIfAI. Wir.D I. IFF, IN BRITISH GUIAXA 




FIG. 11. MAP OF THE GENERAL FIELD OF WORK IN BARTICA DISTRICT 



auriferous, carrying about thirty-six grains of gold to the 
ton. Meagre as is this percentage, it is exciting to a passing 
naturahst and tempts one always to pick up a bit of the 



GENKUAL 1 11:1.1; Ol' WORK 




FIG. 12. 



Photo hi/ \y. It. 
OUTCROPPING OF AURIFEROUS QUARTZ NEAR KALACOON 



glistening stone in hopes of a nngget. The pay dirts are 
farther up river, where good gold deposits and diamonds 
are occasionally found in close proximity. 

The surface soil in the jungle is of course the usual 
black vegetable mould, but the sub-soils are clavey and sand\^ 
in character. It is surprising to see how close together the 
two may be found. A pit dug in one spot will show red 
and yellow clay, and be quite water-tight, filling up with 
the first rain, while ten feet away the spade will throw up 
almost pure white sand, fine and porous, which proves a 
veritable sieve. The clays and gravels are quite sedentary, 
the result of intense leaching of decomposed rocks by the 
rain and the acid soil waters of these jungles. The origin 
of the white sand is a moot question, excellent authorities 
being quite divided in their explanation. One theory and 



(iKNKRAl. 1 I I.I.I) or WORK 49 

l)r()})al)l\' tlic correct one. is that it is wliollv sedentary like 
the chiys and gravels. What would seem more reasonahle 
to an iingeolo<4ical observer is the theory that this series of 
iiTeat successive sand dunes is a relic of ancient seashores, 
althouiih close search yields no trace of seashell or coral. 
And this we may note as the first of a host of deceptions 
practiced upon us by the tropical elements and animals — 
these dunes of the finest of white sand deej) hidden within 
these niiyhty forests, whose grains have never danced at 
the roar of ])ounding breakers nor felt the slitherin*^- rush 
of salt water. Here the white sand lies beneath the ebony 
mold of the jungle, undistur})ed except when fiung into the 
li<»ht by the wrenched-up roots of a falling- tree, or when 
scratched up by armadillos, or patiently borne to the sur- 
face, grain after grain by indefatigable ants. 

So this particular region, although so near the Atlan- 
tic coast and so distant from the Andes, in ages past began 
as volcanic or igneous upthrusts of rock, and not by the 
gradual accumulation of sediment brought down by rivers 
and held in tenin-e by the clutching fingers of mangroves 
and courida. But that time of mineral dominance is long- 
past, and today we find the underlying structure, whatever 
it is, clothed with running water and with vegetation, in the 
shelter of which animal life teems, while mankind has merely 
begun to paddle painfully along the rivers, and to follow 
narrow trails — molewise — through the jungle. 




X 
H 

O 
H 

O 
5 

z 

H 
X 

K 

O 

O 
Q 

O 

o 



M 


2 




O 


2 


« 


M 


o 


Q 


w 


O 


u 


2 


as 


fS 


H 


n 


2 


ffi 


o 


w 


H 


Q 




2 


2 


^J 


ID 


u 


i-s 


o. 




o 

o 


UJ 
H 


2 

C 


(x, 

O 


o 


H 



o o 

< Q 

O 

(^ 

K 
H 

o 

tn 

O 
2 

O 

o 



o 



CHAPTER V 

THE OPEN CLEARING AND SECONDGROWTII 

The area in wliicli we worked during six months of 
1916, from Marcli to Angiist inehisive, may eonveniently 
be divided into two very distinct zones; 

First, the Clearing and Secondgrowth. 
Second, the Jungle itself. 

I shall give a brief resume of the general ecology, and 
the significance of distribution of the more abundant forms 
of life in these two zones. The abrupt transition from the 
Clearing and the Secondgrowth fauna to that of the Jungle 
was one of the most striking phenomena which came under 
our observation. 

Eight years ago in the vicinity of the Research Station, 
the jungle extended quite down to the banks of the Maza- 
runi. Now, for the distance of many acres along the shore, 
a clearing for the rubber plantation had been made. Six 
hundred and fifty acres of jungle had been cut and burned 
and planted with rubber trees which w^ere just beginning 
to be tapped. Another five hundred and fifty acres were 
cleared three years ago, but were allowed to revert to second- 
growi:h which already had reached a height of twenty feet 
and more. 

These two are the areas which I am considering to- 
gether as open clearing and secondgrowth. More detailed 
study would reveal still finer distinctions or subdivisions, 
such as grassy fields, open swamp lands, the course of a swift- 
flowing creek and the banks of the ]Mazaruni itself. I in- 
elude within this zone the fauna of a small open swamp on 
Keow Island off shore. 

In the heart of the rubber plantation proper was the 
house of Mr. Withers, and in the midst of the secondgrowth 



52 TROPICAT, WILD LIFK IX HRITISH (iUlANA 

stood Kalaeoon, which, as I have said, l)y tlie courtesy of 
Mr. A\'ithers, we used as the Research Station. The pres- 
ence of these two houses has had considerahle effect on the 
fauna of tlie immediate neighborhood. Through the ruhl)er 
plantation extended several roads, and a wide trail made by 
ourselves ran from Kalaeoon straight back through tlie sec- 
ondgrowth to the jungle. It was along these that much 
of the life of clearing and secondgrowth was observed. 

This zone began then at the banks of the Mazaruni 
River and extended back for about one mile. Here, visible 
from almost any distance, stood the jungle — a great cliff of 
foliage wliich rose sheer, high above all the new growth, ma- 
jestic, sublime. 

Not a moment did man dare rest upon his labors. Day 
and night without cessation the jungle sent forth upon the 
wind, or with the aid of birds and other agents, untold 
myriads of spores and seeds which soon sprouted and laid 
the foundation of a living vegetable talus, a stealthy out- 
reaching finger which, if left unheeded, would soon have 
strengthened into a hand, whose grip was not to be broken 
witiiout nmch toil, by hours of tiresome labor with cutlass 
and hoe. 

It was no light matter to attack a tropical jungle in 
its full might and power and to hew out hill after hill of 
open agricultural country. One by one the great giants 
were felled — mora, greenheart, crabwood — each crashing its 
way to earth after centuries of slow upward growth. The 
undergrowth in the dark, high jungle is comparatively 
scanty. Light-starved and fungus-plagued, the brush and 
saplings are stunted and weak. So when the large trees 
were down it was an easy mattei* to cut out the thin smaller 
growth. The great stumps were left standing and now the 
erstwhile jungle showed only a shambles of raw wood and 
shrivelled foliage. After a time fire was applied, and quick- 
ly, as in the case of resinous trees, or with long, slow smol- 



OPEN CLEARING AND SECONDGROWTH 



53 




W'^^^'^^^^'^^B 




I'hoto hy W. li. 



FIG. 15. NEWLY CLEARED JUNGLE 



derings of half-rotted, hollow giants, the huge boles were 
consumed. 

For a period, utter desolation reigned. Charcoal and 
orev ash covered everything. Xo life stirred. Birds had 
flown, reptiles and insects had made their escape or suc- 
cumbed. Only the saffron-faced vultures swung past, on 
the watch for some half-charred creature. Almost at once, 
however, the marvellous vitality of tlie tropical vegetation 
asserted itself. Phoenix-like, from tlie very heart of the 
ashes, appeared leaves of strange shape and color. Trees 
whose tissues seemed w^holly turned to charcoal sent forth ad- 
ventitious shoots, and splintered boughs blossomed from 
their wounds. Now was the lowest ebb of the jungle's life 
and the Planter took instant advantage. All the half-burned 
debris was cleared away and in the wonderfully rich soil 



54 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

between the fallen trunks and stumps, he planted his spind- 
ling rubber yearlings. 

Not for a moment must the new growing tangle be 
allowed to smothei- these tender growths, and today the 
coolies scra])e the ground clean at frequent intervals. In 
the course of time the ru})ber will dominate all other growths, 
becoming trees in reality and like a second jungle begin to 
interlock its branches high overhead. The shade which it 
casts makes easier the labor of clearing, and this tiny scar — 
tiny in comparison with the enormous expanse of jungle 
round about — comes wholly under man's dominion, and day 
by day yields its quota of merchandise to the world's marts. 
In place of the lofty jungle which for unnumbered centuries 
covered this area, we have orderly ranks upon ranks of white- 
barked ru})])er trees, radiating park-like over the rolling 
hills, while the white sandy roads wind about them, having 
nothing in common with the animal and Indian trails which 
such a short time ago, zigzagged over this very ground. 

I have gone thus into particulars to show the reason for 
the arising of a fauna, wholly foreign to that of the jungle, 
and this not after years and decades, but almost at once, syn- 
chronously as it were, with the change of vegetation ; coming 
from long distances, sometimes singly, sometimes with a 
sudden rush of numbers. 

The five hundred odd acres which, after being cleared 
had been allowed to grow up undisturbed, were of even 
greater interest to the naturalist than the more open part 
of the clearing. The destruction of the jungle was here 
also complete and the very thorough burning had evidently 
destroyed all jungle seeds. In their place sprang up at 
once a maze of weeds, vines and woody shrubs, reeds, ferns 
and grasses, all foreign to the dark jungle and whose nearest 
congeners were miles away. Yet here were their seeds and 
spores, baffling all attempts at tracing their migration or 
the time thev had lain dormant. 



OPEN CLEARING AND SECONDGKOWTH 



55 




Photo hri TT'. B. 



FIG. 16. PURE CULTURE OF NEW GROWN CECROPIAS 



The meagre data I was able to gather concerning the 
succession of vegetable growth in this area suggests the tre- 
mendously interesting facts which a trained botanist could 
record. The first things to appear were grasses or grass- 



56 



TUOl'RAL WILD Lll'K IN liKlTlSll GUIANA 




Photo hii ir. /?. 
FIG. 17. THICKET OF REEDS GROWING ON CLEARED JUNGLE LAND 



like plants and prcstrate vines. These latter climbed over 
the fallen tree-trunks and covered the charred stumps witli 
a glory of blossoms. As soon as semi-woody shrubs shot up, 
the vines ascended still higher and by their rapid growth 



OPEN CLEARING AND SECONDGROWTH 



in 




Photo bu TT. B. 



FIG. IS. FLOWERS OF THE GUIANA (ALLAMAXDA) 



sometimes covered these ])laiits with ahen bloom, before 
tlieir own flowers liad liad time to appear and develop. 

Soon, however, anotlni- type of plant appeared with 
hollow and jointed stems. ])ushing ont fans of fingered leaves, 
swiftlv. wastino' no time in branchino-. bnt content with a 
sino'le spike piercino' n]) tlirouo'h strata of grass and reeds, 
through .shrubs and buslu-s until it had won to the open sky. 
This was the cecropia dv trum])et tree, falsely a])])earing 
firm and solid stemmed. l)ut quite dominant during the first 
few years of the neglected secondgrowth. It formed a 
pure culture in most places, crowding out. by a monopoly 
of the sunlight, most other growth. It had manv decided 
qualities, some visible at a glance, others revealed only to 
those who became intimate with it. It was extremely orna- 
mental and provided a cool, dense shade. Every section of 



58 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN lilirrLSH GUIANA 




PhotohyW.B. 
FIG. 19. THICKET OF SECONDGROWTH OVERRUN BY A TANGLE OF RAZOR GRASS 



the stem was a sanctuary for scores of a certain species of 
small stinging ant which rushed out when the stem was split 
witli a cutlass. The leaves in turn formed the favorite diet 
of sloths. 



OPEN CLEARING AND SECONDGROWTH 59 

Differences in soil which were not apparent when the 
great jungle covered everytliing, now became of much im- 
portance and gave rise to very distinct zones of vegetation. 
We found high sandy spots wliere the cecropias did not get 
that flying start whicli tliey needed for their vertical straiglit- 
awav dash. Here a cominunitv of hoHow reeds or l)amboo 
grass appeared from no one knows where. Tliey gi'ew and 
multiplied until their stems fairly touched one another, 
fornu'ng a dense, im])enetrahle thicket of green, silicious 
tubes eight to twelve feet in lengtli. Tliese were smooth 
and hard as glass and tapered beautifully, making wonder- 
fully light and strong arrows with which the Akawai Indians 
shot fish. Wasps of sorts searched for broken tips and in- 
dustriously gathered therein hordes of delectable spiders. 

Early in this struggle, white convolvulus blossoms 
gleamed everywhere, but later, pale yellow flowers became 
dominant, and orchid-like, violet butterfly peas which, at 
first, blossomed among the ashes on the ground, but climbed 
as soon as they found support. Little by little a five-finger 
vine flung whole chains of bloom over stumps, logs and 
bushes, a beautiful blood-red passion flower, whose buds 
looked like strings of tiny Chinese lanterns. 

AVhatever the character of the new vegetation, whether 
a tangle of various shrubs, a grove of young cecropias or a 
serried phalanx of reeds, the terrible razor-grass ran over 
all. Gracefully it hung in emerald loops from branch to 
branch, festooning living foliage and dead stump alike, with 
masses of slender blades. It appeared soft and loose-hung 
as if one coidd brush it away with a sweep of the hand. But 
it was the most punishing of all growing things, insidiously 
cutting to the bone as one grasped it, and binding all this 
new ffrowth together with bands more efficient than steel. 
One had painfully to cut every yard of trail in order to pene- 
trate into the higher parts of the secondgrowth, which was 
infinitely more difficult of access than any thorn thicket or 
tangle of bush rope in the jungle itself. 



60 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

With the destruction of the jungle went its animal life. 
'Xo voice of o-ol(lhii-(l or woodhewer rang out, no heliconias 
fluttered past, no accouri or monkey Hed at our approach. 
One day a small ground dove swung hy, circled about and 
alighted on a dead stub, craning its neck at the strange sight, 
and the following day it was feeding on the seeds fallen from 
a weed pile which the coolie workmen had left. After some 
such inconspicuous fashion the new world of life Avas inau- 
gurated. How the word was ])assed miles down river, or far 
off to other clearings we shall probably never know, but 
doves, tanagcrs, grassfinches, kingfishers, rails, orioles and 
kiskadees soon gathered, found certain definite niches for 
themselves and settled down permanently. 

If we had had time and strength we could doubtless 
have duplicated the evidences of this peculiar new type of 
fauna in every group of the animal kingdom, but birds were 
the beings which we studied most intensely. Within sight 
of Kalacoon House we noted sixty-five species which in no 
sense could be termed jungle birds. They were never ob- 
served within the jungle and with very few exceptions were 
recent arrivals, their presence being coincident with and 
quite dependent on the clearing and secondgrowth. 

Kalacoon House itself yielded the first examples of 
adaptation to new conditions. When we arrived we found 
a small colony of grev-breasted martins firmly established. 
They were roosting and nesting indoors, gaining admittance 
by means of broken window panes, and several of the shel- 
tered tops of posts below stairs also held nests. We put 
up a ])ird box on the summit of a pole and at once a battle 
ensued for its use, the successful pair breeding immediately. 
In a single, isolated palm tree in the front compound were 
five nests. Four were of successive broods of moriche ori- 
oles, the fourth being still in use. The fifth was the nest of 
a ])alm tanager. The palm and blue tanagers were almost 
as domestic as the martins, flying in and out of the house 
all day, picking spiders from the beams overhead. 



01M:N C LKAIilNCi AS I) SKC OXDGROWTH (H 

The hiislies at the ed^e of the coiiipoiiiid teemed witli 
bird hfe all foreign to the jim<^lc' at our haek. Whenever 
we went to the Hills we listened to the ju])ilant, rolliekin^ 
songs of the Guiana house wrens, but these were never 
heard at Kalacoon. This was the case for several weeks, 
but one niorning we heard, not one, })ut several birds sing- 
ing at once. A wave of wrens had ovei'dowed Kalacoon 
during the night, and now in the early morning were feed- 
ing, and singing, and climbing about the grass stems per- 
fectly at home. We had witnessed the aiTi\aI of a new 
species, old birds and se^'el'al full-grown young. Within 
three days they had dispossessed some finches, nest, eggs 
and all, and had begun nests of their own. 

The arrival of wrens at Kalacoon was an event slight 
in itself, but which seemed to me full of significance, when 
I realized that in such fashion birds extend their ranges over 
the surface of the earth. It was quite different from the 
small flock of sandpipers which appeared suddenly along 
the creek. They were migrants, here today, oft' to the far 
north tomorrow. But the house wrens of Guiana are per- 
manent residents, and once they have taken possession in 
their Berce little masterful wren fashion, they elect to remain 
until the traces of man's labors have wholly vanished. INIany 
years ago in this very region I have recorded ' how these 
God-birds, as the natives call them, often cling to a deserted 
Indian clearnig until the jungle has choked it from existence. 
The coming of the wrens truly typified the advance of a 
species, one step in that progress which has peopled every 
continent with its thousands of species of birds. 

From the lofty outlook of Kalacoon compound a tre- 
mendous sweej) of sky was visible, and it was very seldom 
that this was wholly free from bird life. ]Most of these aerial 
species were not peculiar to the clearing, however, but 
hawked about over the jungle as well, and probably roosted 
somewhere within its confines. Exceptions to this were barn 

'Our Search for a Wilderness, pp. 30T-308. 



oi'KN (li:ahin(. and six ONDGROWTH 63 

swallows and purple iiiartins, migrants I'roiii our own United 
States. The martins vanished early in Mareh, ])ut we saw 
barn swallows until mid-June. The brown martins were a 
puzzle. They were not uncommon in early March, l)ut they 
vanished with the purples and did not ap})ear again. The 
swifts and kites and vultures — masters of all the air — were 
bound by no question of mere jungle or clearing. They 
wandered wherever they found good hunting. 

Along the edge of the rul)ber plantation, between it 
and the secondgrowth, and extending on each side of the 
wide sandy roads, was a large area which was overrun by 
a tall, dry, reed-like grass, about three feet in height. This 
little world had its own particular forms of life which spent 
most of their time in or near it. I can speak only of the 
bird citizens, w^iich numbered nine species. Two were rails, 
the w4iite-necked and the cayenne, wdiich nested in the heart 
of the dense growth or scurried along the road ahead of us. 
The remaining birds were finches — all tiny grassbirds; jet 
black glossy grass-quits, the black-headed pygmy, black and 
white and chestnut-bellied seedeaters, and the two little 
great-billed finches known througli the colony as twatwa and 
twatwa slave. 

Near the center of the open clearing the creek spread 
out in a wnde space between two rolling hills, forming a 
marsh, and here, and along the course of the creek itself 
lived more than a dozen species, attracted and held there 
by suitable feeding grounds, either fish or crayfish, or the 
worms and snails w^hich hid in the nnidd}^ shallows. Here, 
on our arrival, w^ere four migrant waders, Esquimo curlew, 
yellowlegs, solitary and spotted sandpipers. These soon left 
for the north, although the latter lingered singly and in 
family groups for many weeks. Of native marsh birds there 
were cayenne snipe, spur-winged jacanas, Guiana green her- 
ons, little boat-tailed grackles, red-breasted blackbirds and 
the beautiful white-shouldered water tyrants. The jacanas 
were nesting on Keow Island. A small colony of seven or 




FIG. 21. .JUNGLE AT THE EDGE OF THE SECONDGROWTH 



/'. ',. /,. 



OPEN CLKARING AND SilCONDGROWTH Go 

eiufht of the blackbirds had established themselves, but the 
yellow-heads, always associated with them on the coast, had 
not vet found their wav hitlier. Four kinurishers drew sus- 
tenance from the little creek, the tjreat o^rev and the o-reat 
green, the pygmy and the spotted. Ground doves were ubicj- 
uitous and perhaps the most abundant of the clearing birds, 
but their favorite haunts were the sandy roads, where they 
trotted along in droves, two species of them, the grey and 
the talpacoti ground doves. Here. too. the white-necked 
nighthawks came at twiliyht and called their lonesome icho- 
are-you. and performed their weird dances in the moonlight, 
sometimes tifty or more together. 

Passinuf down to the banks of the ^lazaruni and the 
extent of sand and muddy beach exposed at low tide, we 
surprised the great-billed terns occasionally flying over, or 
stopping to snatch at the host of winged termites rismg from 
some dead stump. Snakebirds perched along the edge or 
dropped ofl' and swam half-innnersed. Five herons and an 
ibis tished along shore, the cocoi. little blue and agami her- 
ons, American and snowy egrets and the curious Guiana 
ibises. Two swallows were essentially fluvicoline. the varie- 
gated and the half-belted, but their frequent exciu-sious to 
the clearing in pursuit of insect food, gave them a right to 
inclusion in our list. 

There remained the dense slii'ubbery and the second- 
ffrowth itself, and mdeed the rubber trees also, where these 
had waxed tall and strong. In such places there dwelt an 
interestnig assemblage of more than twenty-flve species of 
birds foimd nowhere else in this region. The only subdivi- 
sions I can make are superticial and unequal. One was a 
bird of prey, one wholly terrestrial, and another nocturnal. 
The tirst was the four-banded sparrowhawk. which hunted 
both in the rubber and the secondgro^^"th. The gi'ound bu'd 
was the pileated tinamou whose plaintive trill rang out night 
and morning. The bird of night was the giant goatsucker 
or poor-me-one. 




I'hoto hii I', a. II. 
FIG. 22. JUNGLE FROM THE MAZARUNI. SHOWING HEIGHT OF GIANT MORA. 



OPEN CLEARING AND SECONDGROWTII OT 

Besides these, two ])in^eons made tin's their liome, the 
rufous and the oTey-l'ronted, feeding on the fi-uit of small 
berry trees and huildino- their nests amon<»- the tan^'les of 
razor-grass. The little guan or hanaqua sang its ehorus in 
j^airs in the early morning. Rufous euekoos slipped silently 
through the hranehes and their cousins, the smooth-hilled 
anis or witeh-l)irds almost typify the clearing to our mem- 
ory, so ubicjuitous and individual were they. Of the passer- 
ine birds, the dominant forms were flycatchers and we count- 
ed m'ne species as quite characteristic of the clearing. Three 
were kiskadees, the great (ruiana, small-billed and the lesser. 
Then came grey-headed kingbirds, streaked and varied fly- 
catchers, yellow-breasted elanias, and the grey and the spot- 
ted tody-flycatchers. Yellow warblers, apparently identical 
with those of our northern woodlands, sang and fed in com- 
pany with black and lesser white-shouldered tanagers, bril- 
liant moriche and black-throated orioles. 

Lastly came a few forms of great interest, strays from 
the jungle, which, after becoming specialized and ada])ted 
to a wholly aboreal, scansorial life, had, during late genera- 
tions, undergone a readaptation to a perching existence. 
These were the brown and the vellow-throated svnallaxes 
or spinetails, aberrant forms of the woodhewers of the jun- 
gle. The checkbird had also long deserted the hamits of 
its numerous antbird cousins and taken up life in the semi- 
open. 

This completes the tale of the peculiar birds of this 
area, a hasty review which will serve to em])hasize the radical 
departure from the jungle types so close at hand. As to 
their songs and courtships, their nests and eggs, their molts 
and their personalities in general, we made a beginning, an 
excellent beginning. In the future we hope to complete 
these life-histories and to record all that a human being may 
learn through keen and sympathetic observation. 




FIG. 23. OPEN JUNGLE SHOWING INDIAN TRAIL. 



I'hoio by I'. G. 11, 



CHArTEH vr 



THE JX^X(;i.K AXI) lis LIFE 



Three populai- misconceptions exist in regard to trop- 
ical jungles: 

First, that the lieat and dangers are excessive. 

Second, that animal life is scanty or almost ahsent. 

Third, that "eternal summer" reigns. 

In our liomes in the North we glean these idces jiocees 
from traveloii'ues written at second hand or censored with 
an idea to continuous and intensive sensation. Indeed, it 
is not surprising that the tropical jungles should he thought 
so unhealthy and harren, for the people Avho live just with- 
out their borders hold the same beliefs. The native of the 
city of Georgetown who has not visited the "bush" deems 
it to be filled with serpents and noisome fevers, while he who 
has been up country will still tell you that the jungle is all 
but devoid of life. 

Without further preamble 1 would like thus early in 
this volume to emphasize the falsity of these erroneous, 
world-wide ideas, speaking from many years of experience 
in tropical jungles; in general of India, Ceylon, JNIalasia, 
Borneo, South China and ^Mexico, and in particular of the 
jungle or bush of British Guiana. 

First, the heat of the jungle is not oppressive even at 
high noon. The difference between bearable, even comfort- 
able temperature, and the gasping point of altitude of the 
thermometer quicksilver, is exactly that between shadow and 
sunshine. 

It was full noon when one dav in Mav I seated myself 

• • • 

on a fallen log at the very edge of the jungle which I had 
chosen for intensive study. I was wholly in shadow, but I 
could reach my hand out into full sunlight. ]My thermometer 



70 TROIMCAL WII.I) I, UK IN JiUlTISH (iL'IANA 

in the sliade at my side registered 78 degrees. AVithout 
moving mv seat I shifted tlie instrument a yard, tliirty-six 
inches of horizontal s})aee, and the mercury straiglitway 
chmhed ahiiost seventy vertical degrees. In five minutes 
the metal frame had become too hot to hold and the silvery 
column came to rest at 147 degrees. With such heat less 
than a yard away I was comfortable in the shade, and in 
the dim, cool depths of the jungle 1 could walk or write for 
hours without feeling any due op])ression. The highest 
shade temperature known in the colony is 93 degrees, not 
unworthy of com])arison with the 10.) degrees which I have 
seen more than once in a Nassau Street business office. The 
minimum temperatui*e of coastal Guiana is 67 degrees and 
the average for the region about Bartica 78 degrees. The 
nights are cool, and one, sometimes two blankets were al- 
ways necessary. ]{e calories, our first misconception, r/. c. d! 
As to dangers in the jungle, unfortunately we cannot 
deal with statistics or definite degrees or figures of any sort, 
so that w^hatever I write may be thought discounted by per- 
sonal bias. I mav sav at once that in the last six months 
I ha^'e been very near death — once — and the rest of the time 
the danger has been equal to that of going black-berrying 
in a New England pasture. Rarely, very rarely, I saw a 
poisonous snake, and with leather puttees this danger is quite 
negatived. If one thrusts one's hand into every hole or rot- 
ten log, in the course of time one will be bitten by a scorpion 
or centipede or tarantula. If one's blood is in good condi- 
tion a few days of painful swelling will follow. If one tastes 
all the delicious looking nuts in the trail, or the delectable 
apj)earing mushrooms, illness is certain to follow sooner or 
later, while a good draught of amber jungle water will as 
likely as not bring amoebic death. But if one avoids these 
senseless actions and is too much absorbed in exciting pur- 
suit of bird or beast oi" insect to think of dangers, one may, 
as we have done, walk, or crawl or s(|uirm one's way day after 
day through the heart of the jungle, along diy hill-sides 



JUNGLE LIFE 71 

and through stagnant swamps, and return tired, perhaps 
exhausted, but safe and sound in body, hinh and skin. 

As 1 have written many times before, the greatest dan- 
ger of ti-o])ieal jungles is from falHng vegetation, nuts, seeds, 
leaves and trees themselves. But to deny oneself the enjoy- 
ment of this wondei-ful world of life for sucli a reason, would 
be exactly e(}uivalent to avoid going out on the streets of 
Xew York because automobiles kill on an averaae of one 
person a day. I never saw a ])crson killed by a falling nut 
or tree, but I have occasionally hcai'd these crashing down, 
and have seen nuts like cannon-balls embed themselves in 
the soft mold. In a recent official report of deaths among 
gold diggers in the interior of the colony, an ecpial number 
■ — five — was reported from malaria and from falling trees. 
Our work doubtless lay in a particularly favorable lo- 
cality, but in my experiences in tropical jungles both in the 
Far East and in South America, I would substitute the 
word inconveniences for dangers. In Bartica district, for 
month after month, mosquitos and flies w^ere practically ab- 
sent. Throughout the dry and the rainy seasons we waded 
swamps and pools and saw fewer mosquitos than came into 
my room in a single night in Georgetown or Xew York, and 
these few were neither Anopleles nor Stegomyia. Bete 
rouge was abundant and enthusiastic, although not worse 
than on some parts of Long Island and never nearly as bad 
as I have known them on the coast of Yirginia. Crab oil is 
a preventive, and a saturated salt solution an effective cure. 
Jiggers and ticks were absent. Twice we were stung by 
small wasps and many times by angry ants. At Kalacoon 
House we slept without nets, but at first kept a lantern burn- 
ing low. This effectively prevented molestation from vam- 
pires which were abundant and flew freely through the house. 
Later we dispensed with the light, but were never molested. 
Perai were common in the river, but everyone hereabouts 
bathed, and there was no record of a person having been 
bitten. Howes and I were once charged by a jaguar within 




FIG. 21. BASE AND ROOTS OF GIANT MORA TREE. 



I'hiiln 1,1/ I'. G. H. 



JUNGLE LIFE 73 

a short distance of the house. The animal came full speed 
to witliiii eii^ht feet of us, hut swerved and swept aside when 
he saw we were not deer or other expected ])rey. 

I find nothin«^- further to write ahout dant^ers or incon- 
veniences, because — there is nothing more to he written. 
AVhen I recall the hiratliless, hot nights of a Xew York 
summer, the malignant malaria which at times spreads over 
the suburbs of the same city, when I remember the copper- 
heads and rattlers of the Palisades, the mos(juitos and black 
flies of our northern forests, the biting green flies of our 
shore resorts and the jiggers of the southern states, the all 
but complete absence of corresponding sources of annoy- 
ance seems all the more remarkable in the rank jungles in 
which we worked, a jungle overflowing with animal life of 
every description. 

The second misconception, that of the scarcity of the 
various forms of life in tropical jungles would, from its 
absurdity, seem hardly to deserve refutation, were it not 
that it is constantly reiterated, and that by persons of intel- 
ligence who have recently made long trips through these 
regions. Its sole inspiration lies in the method of observa- 
tion, the casual looking about as one passes up the rivers 
in a woodskin, or glances to right or left when walking along 
a trail. 

The operation of protective coloration, the efl'ectiveness 
of warning pigments and patterns, of mimicry, these and 
other expedients of wild existence — the very distinction be- 
tween life and death — all depend, at the crises of their ful- 
flllment, on the two alternative factors of movement and in- 
activity. This is one of the most pronounced laws of the 
jungle. Clad in white or in any conspicuous color, you may 
successfully hunt the wariest of jungle creatures, provided 
you select some suitable spot and remain quiet. Garbed in 
leaf green and the most invisible of khaki, the common agouti 
and the trustful trumpeter bird will easily escape you if you 



74 



TROIMCAL WILD LITE IX JJHITISH GUIANA 




Photo by W. D. 



FIG. 25. JUNGLE FUNGUS. 



persist in walking about, or nioviiio- some part of your body 
or liauds. 

I'lius it is tbat, passing in a canoe witb noise of paddles, 
or trani])ing a trail to tbe accompaniment of crackling twigs 
and leaves, it is not strange tbat tbe jungle seems deserted, 
a ])lace of distant, unattacbed voices or a region of lifeless 
silence. As well complain of tbe paucity of bird life in a 
counti'v A\'bicb vou bave iust traversed in a swnft motor car, 
or of tbe lack of botanical knowledge to be gleaned from 
an aeroplane! AVben walking in tbe jungle in single file 
witb a number of people, I bave often (lr()p])ed back and 
squatted motionless, and less tban two minutes after tbe 
last figure passed from view, tbe bidden creatures began to 
reveal tbemselves, first \ocally, tben optically, until normal 



JUN(,LK LIFE 75 

conditions settled down, and insects, reptiles, hirds and 
beasts ayain resumed their natural activities. So much for 
what wv mi<^ht call the mecluim'cs of ol)servati()n. 

Argument sneh as the present is alwavii strengthened 
and reinforced by the inverse ratio of the area considered. 
So I will take as an example — given more in detail elsewhere 
in this \()lume the area in which we actually cari'ied on 
our researches. This was a ])atch of jungle of a))()ut the 
size of Central Park in \ew York City. During the first 
week T made no attempt at careful observation, hut walked 
around and thi-ough the selected zone, mapping it and de- 
ciding on its outlines. My lists of !)irds observed on these 
days were small indeed. Couhl these meagre notes have 
been seen by my pessimistic friends who had ])r()phesied a 
dearth of jungle life, their convictions w^ould have been 
strengthened. And yet, when we had settled down to care- 
ful study and watching, our lists grew out of all pro])ortions. 
We were not collecting. ]Many and many a day I spent in 
watching a certain group of birds without shooting one. 
We made no concerted attempts at the shooting of tree-top 
birds in the hope of adding a new name to our list. We 
collected only what we needed for material for definite prob- 
lems, and yet hardly a day passed when we did not find one 
or more species new to us. At the end of our stay we had 
made observations on two hundred and eighty-one different 
species. And on the very last day of our work — when I 
had finished packing and took a last farewell tramp, I saw- 
two birds which I could not identify with any which w^e had 
seen or shot before. In this same area, (piite incidentally, we 
observed about fifty species of mammals, embracing all the 
important forms of north-eastern South America, while with 
Whitelv's birds which he gathered in this same locality, our 
neighborhood was proven to be the home of three hundred 
and fifty-one different species. 

As to still more i-estricted tro])ical areas I must refer 
to the week's census of a single tree and the examination of 



76 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IX BRITISH GLIAXA 

four square feet of jungle mold wliieh I recently made in 
Parji, ]5razil. ' ^I y experience in tropical jungles has sho^Mi, 
not that they contain a paucity of various forms of life, but 
(in contrairc, taken in the aggregate, they possess a much 
richer fauna than any type of region where I have studied. 
13ut this infim'ty of organisms is not blatantly revealed. They 
are not as apparent to the casual observer as the soaring 
hawk or the flock of blackbirds in the open. Guarded jeal- 
ously by their colors, patterns, shapes and their fear of the 
death which awaits them on every hand, they remain con- 
cealed until the intruder, motionless, identifies himself with 
the harmless vegetation, or makes his way, moccasin shod, 
clad in dull, neutral garb, quietly, silently, with the soft step 
of the Indian. 

Skirting the coasts of these tropical lands, or steaming 
or ])addling up the rivers, the eye always encounters the 
same general view, a mighty wall of green vegetation. 
AVhether the month be January, ]May or September, the 
sun beats warmly down and the great cliffs of emerald foli- 
age rear their heads on high. "Eternal sunmier reigns" says 
the guide-book, and the bromidically inclined traveller ech- 
oes the statement. 

However, as soon as one begins to study the jungle and 
day after day looks out upon it, and, walking through and 
through it, makes daily notes of the changes overhead and 
beneath his feet, the realization comes that spring and sum- 
mer are quite distinct, autumn and winter easily difteren- 
tiated. And this is true even of those places, like Bartica 
district, where the dry seasons are not times of drought, but 
merit their name only in comparison with the intensity of 
the rainy periods. 

The first thing, however, that an observer learns in the 
tro])ics is that no law can be laid down as absolute. Tlie 
continual Marm weather and humidity, and the tremendous 
competition ])etween the multitude of organisms results in 

^ Zoologica, II, Xos. 3 and I, pp. 55-119. 



JUNGLE LI IK 



I I 




I'liiih/ 1,1/ U . I!. 
FIG. 26. HOLLOW TREE. USED FOR OBSERVATION AND AS SHELTER FROM RAIN. 



activities of every phase of lil'c through tlie year. So that 
while there is not a single week of all the fifty-two when 
blossoms and fruit, caterpillars and butterflies, larvae and 
wasps, eggs and molting birds cannot be found, yet my the- 
sis holds good when we consider life in the aggregate. 







J 

a 
z 

a 



H 

z 

< 

<: 

o 

fa 

o 

g 

£ 

o 

a 



a 

M 

Eh 

a 
o 

s 

<; 
a 

a 
a: 



o 

a 



JUNGLE JJFE 79 

But this is onlv half tlu- story. Not only is tlici-c a 
normal se(]uence of seasons, but tliere are two series of tliese 
seasons, unec^ual, l)ut well-defined. This is a factor whieli 
adds immensely to the eom})lexity of research, hut is of such 
si<>'nificance and importance that 1 expect to deyote much 
time in the future to its study. In the north we have a burst 
of ai)])le blossoms in the sprin*^-, when the tree puts forth its 
nu'oht and produces a cloud of color and ])erfume, and later 
the glorious residue of fruit. But we must also have noticed 
that in the autumn when all thou^>hts of summer are past, 
when the katy-dids are slowing- down, and the leaves have 
yellowed and fallen, that ti-aces appear of a brief, false 
sprino'. Some of the winter buds unfold, and j)roduce a 
scattering" of brave blossoms. The violets among the dying- 
grass stems send up a pitiful showing of flowers, strangely 
out of place. Then comes a blasting frost and the farce is 
at an end. Indian summer — like the Ruby-throat — may be 
only a northern effort faintly adumbrating the tropical 
exuberance ! 

Here in this land of excess energy, the second summer 
is not a failure, although subordinate to the real spring. 
Plants flower and fruit, insects send out fresh broods, birds 
again pair and nest and again see their fledglings safe on 
the wing. This we already know, and study of these sue- 
cessive seasons will reveal much of importance. For the 
outward circling effects of this secondary cycle are not to 
be measured merely by the additional numbers. They reach 
out and control many factors which are seemingly concerned 
only with lives of creatures six months before or as many 
in the future. 

There are no jungles in the world comparable in gran- 
deur to those of the South American tropics, and this is 
true of many other aspects. The trees here are larger and 
higher — some reaching the really tremendous height of two 
hundred feet. The epiphytes are more abundant and strik- 
ing than in any jungle of the East, the lianas are larger 



so THOl'KAI. WILD I.IFK IX BRITISH GUIANA 

and more spectacular in their vegetable eccentricities, while 
the curtains of aerial roots are to be seen nowhere else. 

Jungles liave been written about in every book of tropi- 
cal travel, but have been really described in none. And they 
will not be, any more than it is possible to give an accurate 
word picture of a volcano in ciMi])tion. AVhen one enters 
tile jungle for the first time, the feeling of awe and wonder, 
the apparent lioj^eless confusion and inextricable mingling 
of plants and animals, the juxtaposition of life and death, 
of growtli and decay; these, with the magic of coloring and 
form, totally inhibit clear description. The plethora of ad- 
jectives and adverbs clogs all other grammatical forms. 
And afterwards, when the hidden harmony begins to become 
a])parent by the following of some single thread, or the ends 
of the least tangled skein, then one is too close for perspect- 
ive, one has become too intimate for correct delineation of 
the whole. It is e(]ually difficult to describe at a glance the 
face of a stranger, and to portray the expression of one's 
most intimate friend. And with the jungle there seems no 
middle course. So from inadequate words and over-detailed 
photographs, one's image of the jungle must be mosaiced — 
unless one has, himself, enjoyed the supreme delight of 
walking in these wonder aisles. 

1 shall call attention only to a few details, which per- 
haps from their very obviousness, are usually overlooked. 
If one passes rapidly through the forest, the general effect 
is of a mist of delicate foliage sifting through all the immen- 
sities of twilight beneath the tree-tops high, high overhead. 
This leafage sprayed through mid-air is such as we see early 
in May in our northern woods. The principal difference 
is that with us the delicacy of foliage is due to immaturity, 
while here it is caused by the paucity of light. 

An important character of the jungle is the almost com- 
plete absence of large, horizontal branches. Trees such as 
our oaks, beeches and maples are unknown, and this I be- 
lieve is due soleh' to the abundance and deadly character of 



JUNGLE LIFE 81 

tlie lianas — those f'ast-<^TC)win<>- serpents ol' tlie ])lant world 
which lie in wait l)()th upon the (ground and u])()ii the loftiest 
tree-top, too weak to raise themselves unaided, seeking ever 
for some support upon which to rest, thus ultimately to reach 
upward to the coveted, unrestricted light and air. 

We saw how in the secondgrowth the young cecropias 
shot upward with their single, smooth stem. Here, if a sap- 
ling dared throw out any heavy side hranch, some insidious 
vine would he certain to curl over it, and to thicken until 
the weight would hreak the branch or bring down the young 
tree. For the same reason there are few or no leaning or bent 
trunks. All are straight as plummets — a dense fretting of 
vertical lines, in size ranging from the thread so fine that 
its source is lost i)i the twilight overhead, to the great trunks 
of mora and greenheart, yards in diameter. 

For purposes of convenience in my bird work, I found 
it necessary to divide the jungle into four horizontal zones 
or strata; the Floor of the Jungle, the Lower Jungle up to 
twenty feet, the Mid- jungle as high as sevent}'^ and the Tree- 
tops from one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet above 
the ground. The floras and faunas of these zones are as 
distinct as is the abyssmal from the plankton, and these in 
turn from the surface life of the ocean. Finally the air above 
the jungle had to be taken into consideration as being the 
])rincipal hamit of many forms of life, just as we have sea- 
birds and flying fish and air-breathing cetaceans in the case 
of the pelagic simile. 

The ground in the jungle was covered with the accu- 
mulated debris of centuries, all the immense mass of vegeta- 
tion which reared itself on high, falling sooner or later, and 
returning to this globigerina ooze of the dry land. Fallen 
tree trunks lay here and there, some recent, with the swath 
of their descent still open and raw, others with semblance 
of wood and bark, but crumbling to mold at a touch. This 
was the home of fungi, mosses and lichens, in shapes and 
pigments unnumbered and unnamed. Day after day, dur- 



JUNGLE LIFE 83 

iiig the rains, my tlu)ii<^lit.s of birds and otlier vertc'})rates 
were momentarily erased by the sudden si^ht of fairy castles, 
laces, sunshades, pikes, spears, pagodas, spirals and scores 
of other forms of fungi for which no simile existed. Here, 
too, grew the yariegated caladiums and other ground plants, 
and here were those wonderful l)uttresses which enable the 
trees to reach such stupendous heights with such slight girth 
of trunk. 

In the low and mid-heights was found the soft mist of 
green foliage of the jungle undergrowth, springing from 
thin, twig-like branches and supported on maryelously slen- 
der stems. The chief zone of this undergrowth was between 
fiye and seyenty feet, aboye which the tall, straight trunks 
of the larger trees were dominant, with no trace of branch 
or leaf until the luxin*iant crowns were reached. There all 
the pent-up yegetatiye energy, all the suppressed functions 
other than mere altitude of barren trunks were released in 
a dense outburst of leayes, branches, flowers and fruit. 

As one walked through the jungle, tinamou and par- 
tridges sprang up and whirred away, agoutis and armadillos 
scuttled from their feeding grounds. Tracks of deer, tapir, 
paca and yarious cats showed the moyements of these ani- 
mals during the preceding night. Grisons and, more rarely, 
small jungle mice and rats were obseryed. On fallen leayes 
tiny jungle frogs shrilled, and giant marine toads liyed their 
sluggish life. Salamanders and serpents were rare. Once 
in a while a bushmaster, fer-de-lance, or some harmless snake 
was seen coiled or slowly slipping oyer the leayes. Now and 
then a big yellow turtle ploughed heayily along. All the 
greater and lesser fry of the underworld whose delight was 
in decayed wood, who called the mold home, were here — 
strange grubs and beetles, scorpions, myriapods, peripatus 
and all wingless, creeping things. 

When I raised my eyes to the leyel of the low jimgle — 
to my own height — an entirely new world appeared. That 
of two dimensions was left behind and one of three entered. 




w 

o 

H 

I 

a 
w 
« 



O 

o 






a 
J 

H 

H 

a 

ffl 

o 

a 
o 
o 

2 
3 

O 

> 



z 

<: 



d 



JUNGLE LIFE 85 

Here began the domain of ereatures of moderate flight and 
of hniited chm])ino- al)ih'ty, wliieli. iiidike tlie tortoise and tlie 
tapir were not bonnd to tlie ground. Here I was always 
eertain to find manakins of several speeies, and anthirds of 
still more. Here the truni])eters and jungle wrens uttered 
their characteristie ealls. At night opossums Avandered, 
while in the twilight of nn"d-day, morphos — those hits of 
quintessent pigment — tlap])ed leisurely along, together with 
their o])])osites, the skeleton butterflies. 

The mid- jungle was the heart of the tropieal life. Here 
I could no longer feel myself on equal terms in height. I 
had most painfully to crane my neck upward, and to study 
the inhabitants of this suspended cosmos with glasses or shot- 
gun. Here the big curassows and guans perched and nested, 
the great pigeons, the motmots, jacamars, trogons, gold- 
birds and a host of tanagers and flycatchers and strange 
tropic forms chirped, sang, fed, courted and nested. In 
the mid-heights the big tree-frogs boomed, and the sloths 
vegetated from birth until the claws of a harpy eagle gripped 
them. Squirrels were so rare as to appear strange forms, 
known chiefly from memory; marmosets and coatis usurped 
their place by day, while kinkajous climbed about by moon- 
light. Orchids, air-plants and lianas rioted, and unknown 
growths dropped a myriad plummets, a warp of aerial roots ; 
threads until they reached the ground, then becoming in 
turn twine, cord, rope and cable. It was the great center 
of life of the South American jungles, a zone vibrating with 
a myriad forms suspended half-way between heaven and 
earth. Still it was a zone with decidedly eartliM^ard tenden- 
cies. Some of its inh.abitants descended to sleep, others to 
feed or to build their homes. The majority, however, re- 
mained throughout their lives as they were born, plankton 
of the jungle. 

Yet another continent of life remains to be discovered, 
not upon the earth, but one to two hundred feet above it, 
extending over thousands of square miles of South America. 



8() 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITLSH GUL\NA 




Phold bij ir. B. 
FIG. 30. MACUSHI INDIAN ON HIS SHOOTING PLATFORM, WAITING FOR GAME. 



At ])rcsent we know almost nothing of it. Up to now 
gravitation and tree-trunks swarming with terrible ants 
have kept us at bay, and of the tree-top life we have obtained 
only uneonnected facts and specimens. For the most part 
my glasses showed forms silhouetted in black against the 
bright sky beyond. I could fire upward and with a heavily 
loaded choke bore usually bring down the bird I desired. 



JUNGLE LIFE 



87 



Or I could put my Indians to chopping down some of the 
great trees, and after hours of hihor, if no interfering trees 
or binch'ng h'anas set all our work at nauglit, I could search 
among the mass of broken, bruised foliage, an almost hope- 
less task, for casual s])ecimens. And what I found might 
often have been brushed down from the mid-jungle, or have 
been disturbed among the very leaves of the ground. 

With my shot bird in my hand and my black silhouettes 
and my scattering of crushed specimens, I was very far from 
real knowledge of tree-to]) life. What of the tree-frogs, and 
butterllies and birds and unknown hosts of creatures wdiich 
never voluntarily descend to the ground. There awaits a 
rich harvest for the naturalist who overcomes the obstacles 
— gravitation, ants, thorns, rotten trunks, — and mounts to 
the summits of the jungle trees. Another year we hope to 
begin this Work, and to sit in hammocks or on platforms 
swamg aloft among the toucans, macaw^s, parrots and ca- 
ciques, the umbrella, the calf and the bellbirds whose strange 
distant notes or w^hose dead bodies were merely tantalizing 
invitations to the manifold secrets which intimate observation 
among the tree-tops is certain to reveal. 

To show the stratified activities of a few typical groups 
of jungle birds and mammals, I have prepared the following 
rough diagram: 



Ground 



Partridges 
Tinamou 



Low Jungle 
(0-20 feet) 



3Iid Jungle 
(20-70 feet) 



Trumpeters 

Antbirds 

INIanakins 

Wrens 

Thrushes 



Cotingas 
Toucans 



Curassows 

(yuans 

Pi ""eons 

Hawks 

Owls 

Motmots 

Trogons 
Tree-tops (70-200 feet) 
]Macaws Parrakeets etc., etc 

Parrots Giant Caciques 



Barbets 

Jacamars 

Puff birds 

Goldbirds 

Mourners 

Honey-creepers 



88 TROPICA!. WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

(Groups found ty})it'ally in more tlian one Zone) 

Ground Low Jungle Mid Jungle T?'ee-tops 

(()--2() feet) (20-70 feet) (70-200 feet) 

Goatsuekers Goatsuekers ITuniminohirds Flyeateliers 

I-Iuniininol)ir(ls Flyeateliers Hummingbirds 
Tanagers Tanagers 

INIammals ])ermit a similar mode of representation of 
altitudinal distribution : 

Anteaters Opossums Anteaters Red Howlers 

Armadillos Slotlis Beesa JNIonkeys 

Tapirs Bats 

Pecearies Coatis 

Deer . Squirrels 

Cats Marmosets 

Dogs Kinkajous 

Galictis 

Rodents 

Returning to the birds of the jungle. Accepting 1 to 
10 as the gradation of hght from the dimmest part of the 
jungle to fidl sunlight, and with the same divisions as a 
basis, we can form an interesting table of relative percent- 
ages of dull and brilliant birds: 



Gradation 
of Light 
Percentao-e 



of Brio'ht 



ONE THREE FIVE TEN 



f-i' 



j-i' 



Birds 8 50 83 

This by no means indicates that all the brilliant birds 
are consi)ieuous in their native haunts or that the dull ones 
are correspondingly protected by their pigment. A quad- 
rille wren hopping about and filling the low jungle with its 
wonderful unearthly melody, is a most conspicuous bit of 
life in spite of its garb of brown and buflf. A parrakeet 
with s])ots of yellow on vivid green, opalescent in the hand, 
is but one leaf among a million in the tree-tops. 



JUNGLE LIFE 



H9 




FIG. 31. 



r/lnh, I.I, 11. /(. 

AKAWAI INDIAN BRINGING IN PECCARY FOR OUR TABLE. 



The scents of the jungle are manifold and our nostrils 
soon become cleared of cit}^ smells and more attuned to the 
new clean ones of the jungle. But at their best our senses 
are pitifully inadequate to cope with those of the wilderness 
folk. We would be hard put to it to learn anything with- 
out such mechanical crutches as enlarging lenses, powder 
and shot. Unseen blossoms, musk-carrying animals and in- 
sects, fungi, decaying wood, all have their individual odor 
which we can never hope to detect except in the coarsest 
way. Again and again we long to supplement our eyes and 
ears with the sensitiveness of a dog's muzzle. 

The sounds of the jungle are the most alluring of its 
attributes, fascinating because of their unusual character 
and because almost all are wholly unknown. The sense of 
actual discovery, as day after day, I traced screams and 



90 TROPICAL WILD I.IFK IX BRITISH GUIANA 

trills, chirjjs and l)ellows to their sources, was infinitely sat- 
isfying'. A percentage of one in five, successfully solved, 
was about all that one could expect. 

]}ir(] voices were the dominant ones, far excelling in 
numbers and in unusualness all the others combined. One 
missed the sweet, simple songs and warbles of our noi-thern 
woods. When, Aery rarely, a thrush uttered a phrase, it 
seemed wholly out of place. Sudden startling outpourings 
of sound were the ride — perhaps a single scream or wail, the 
trill of a tinamou or the sweet crescendo of a woodhewer, 
the solid silver resonating call of the goldbird or the incom- 
parable anvils of the bellbird. Frogs and toads were a close 
second in every respect in the matter of voice, but the mam- 
mals were dumb or else spoke in whispers or scents. 

As in the East, where the early morning resounded to 
the concerted calls of pheasants and the laughing chorus of 
gibbons, so here we were awakened by the chachalacas and 
the red howling monkeys — the "hanaquas and baboons" of 
the natives. Again and again I was startled by similar par- 
allels between the two great tropics, separated by so many 
hundreds of miles of open ocean. 

From whatever aspect we consider it, the tropical jun- 
gle is very wonderful; a storehouse full of secrets at which 
we can merely guess. To solve even the easiest requires 
punishingly hard labor of body and mind, hours of quiet 
watching and slow creeping through dense tangles. But 
there is no more inspiring and completely satisfying feeling 
in the world than to roll into one's hammock at night, with 
note-book, ])hotographic plate or sketch book tilled with a 
sincere, however slight, addition to our knowledge of the 
evolution of life on this planet. 



ciiArrKK VII 

IJIKI) i,ll'E OF JLMrrUA DISTRICT 

Any attem])t at thoroii<>li iiionofrra])liic' treatment of 
the birds of Bai-tiea distriet after only a single season's ol)- 
servation is of eourse inii)ossil)le. Our sjieeies catalo<iues 
show hundreds of more or less related facts ; in one case we 
have learned of the nest buildino- aiid incubation, in anotlier 
of the gradual change of ])luinage from nestling to adult. 
But, reserving these for future consideration, there is still 
possible a review of the whole field, a bird's-eye-view which 
is interesting, and in some respects quite significant. From 
this point of view I offer this account of bird life as observed 
in the vicinity of Bartica, British Guiana. 

In the space of five months, from jNIarch on through 
July, within a rectangle of clearing and jungle measuring- 
two miles by one-half mile we became acquainted with two 
hundred and eighty-one species of birds. In the same gen 
eral area of jungle, Whitely, some years ago, collected two 
hundred and fifty-four forms. The two lists yield for this 
limited district, a total of three hundred and fifty-one spe- 
cies. This is about one-half (4.5 per cent.) of the birds re- 
corded from the whole colony of British Guiana, consider- 
ing these as numbering seven hundred and fifty-two, as given 
in the latest list of South iVmerican species. ' 

If I compare my observations of bird life day after day 
in the tropics with the memory of corresponding study in 
our northern woods and fields, I realize at once that both 
daily and in the aggregate, a greater number of species and 
individuals were observed in the tropical field of work. 
There were curious cross resemblances and differences in the 
two places — these tropical jungles and the woods of New 

^ A list of the Birds of South America, Bradbourne and Chubb, London, 1912. 



92 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IX BRITLSH GUIANA 

York and Xew Jersey. Here it was iimisual to find an iso- 
lated })ir(l, kingfishers and hawks excepted. Either its mate 
was with it, or it was coni])anioned by a small Hock of birds 
of unrelated ])iit friendly species. In the jungle, which I am 
so often assured is well nigh devoid of life, I found birds 
much more abundant than in temperate regions. To formu- 
late a still more definite statement, whenever I retiu'ned 
after a long tramp in the jungle, wlietlier along animal or 
Indian trails, or by compass or sun through the untracked 
"bush," I recalled more birds than would appear in an aver- 
age walk in northern woods. Besides actual preponderance 
of numbers, the breeding season had something to do witli 
this. The period of nesting varied so much in different spe- 
cies, that in any month, certain forms were found free from 
nesting cares and gathered into flocks, and these, whetlier 
gleaning from the very highest tree-tops or from mid- 
growth, filled tlie jungle with movement and sound. In the 
rubber clearing where weeds and grass seeds were a perpet- 
ual crop, bird life was even more abundant, and at times the 
finches flew up before one like crowds of grasshoppers. 

Xo niche or stratum of jungle was free from birds. 
Some species roamed through and over it at will, others 
were confined to certain definite areas. Some spent their 
life on the ground and nevei* perched on twig or branch. 
Others clung to bark from birtli to death, their road in life 
a nc^'e^-ending series of vertical ascents; some spent the 
hours of light in mid-air so high that to them the jungle 
must have ay)peared as a lawn of grass does to us. There 
were birds which penetrated the jimgle only at the demand 
of sleep or honey, as certain swifts and hummingbirds, others 
sped thither at the summons of carrion. Some attended the 
course of armv ants, content to be o:uided bv the erratic 
migration of these insects. Finally there were those unrep- 
resented in any northern zone which lived out tlieir existence 
among tlie liighest tree-cops, courting, nesting, feeding, 
sleeping in an aerial world wliich at present is all but un- 



BIRD Ml K or 15ART1CA S);i 

known to us. To c'm))liasize l)v reiteratint>> wluit I have writ- 
ten, in otliei- words we dra^' a tiny dredge along tlie ocean 
bed, and painfully di-aw to the surface a few fragmentary 
oriianisnis, which ol'ten burst in our I'arified element. We 
see a company of iluttering forms high overhead — one to 
two hundred feet above the ground — and our guns bring 
down a swirling, bedi-aggled Muft' which was a bird, whose 
throat uttered one of the strange songs which we just heard, 
whose nest and eggs or young are somewhere fai- aloft. VV^e 
hold in oui- hand an instant's cross-section of an exceechngly 
interesting life, which in the jungle played a part full of 
signiticance. And we realize that until we offset gravitation 
and establish stations of observation in the tops of some of 
these giant trees, our ignorance of this roof of the jungle 
must remain complete. 

Future work ^vill reveal some very interesting facts in 
regard to the home ranges of jungle birds. For the first 
week or two all seemed more or less confused, and the time 
and place of meeting with definite species a matter of luck. 
But little by little clarity came from the twilight, and I be- 
gan to ])erceive system and regularity. A certain bend in 
the trail always revealed a quartet of white-capped mana- 
kins, regardless of their breeding season, and toward dusk 
I was certain of finding them working their w^ay toward a 
dense tangle of bush ropes. In the mid-day heat, on the 
contrary, they almost invariably perched in a certain medium 
tree, open to the east at the edge of the jungle. Parrots 
were even more definite about the time and place of roosting, 
but their feeding habits were less sure. The wandering 
flocks of small birds seemed to be the least definite, they 
appeared to wander at will, but comj^aring accumulated 
notes I began to see a certain rhythm of direction, an orien- 
tation to points of the compass and to the beginning and the 
end of the day w^hich assuredly had some meaning. When 
I think of the searchers for carrion, of the weaving flight 
of swifts insect-hunting in the open sky, of the followers of 



94 TROIMCAI. WILD T.IFK TX HlilTISH dUIANA 

army ants, it is quite unreasonable to attempt to explain 
their dailv movements by any controlliu''- factor but that of 
the chance of appeasing hunger and of the meteorologically 
influenced dispersal of insects. But the search for food once 
past, the life of the bird came under some more definite con- 
trol again, and a succession of more or less predicable reac- 
tions. These, 1 think, will be very worthy of study and tabu- 

• • « 

lation, as important factors in the evolution of the ever- 
changing adaptations and readjustments, which have result- 
ed in the complex of life as we find it in the jungle today. 

In the case of a fixed, occupied nest, the range of the 
owner often differed from corresponding conditions in the 
north, by reason of the excessive altitudinal zones. Both 
parents may have spent their free time almost directly over- 
head, and yet so high up as to have been almost unrecog- 
nizable. I have sat and watched a nest for an hour without 
seeing any trace of the bird until I happened to glance up- 
ward where both were seen at once, revealed by their action, 
identified with the high power stereo glasses. In the course 
of extensive observation it will I think be possible in time 
to plot certain daily, if not hourly habits — wanderings, court- 
ship areas, feeding zones, points of lookout. Yet I do not 
mean in any way to depreciate the free will and individual- 
ity of birds, only that their lives, like those of ourselves, are 
regulated by many factors, known and unknown, whose de- 
tection will be useful to our great idterior purpose. The 
home range points this belief. 

The daily migration may be taken as an excellent exam- 
pie of the diiu'nal rhythm of which I have spoken, the pliable 
yet more or less set mold within which the day's activities 
take place. These regular diurnal movements of birds I 
have termed migrative because they were concerned Avith 
colonies, or flocks, or at least included large numbers of birds 
rather tlian ])airs of individuals. They were instigated by 
two impelling motives, the search for food for the young 



131K1) LIFE OF liAUTlCA 95 

birds of a hrecdiiig colony, and tlic llockino' and flight to 
definite roost int»" places. 

For some unknown reason many lairds were not satis- 
fied to search for food near tlieir nests or community breed- 
ing places. This was particularly true of species which nest 
in comj)any. 1 remember the brown pelicans, which breed on 
Pelican Island in Florida, regularly flew over great stretches 
of good fishing area, to some chosen distant s])ot, perhaps 
twenty to forty miles away up the coast. Cacicpies and (jther 
tropical birds which breed in colonies have a similar hal)it. 
Not far from Kalacoon a colony of red-backed caciques had 
been established for manv years, directly over an Indian 
benab. These birds fiew inland diagonally up the Mazaruni 
to some part of the jungle to which I was unable to trace 
them. One could take one's stand along this route and be 
certain within a few minutes of seeing a cacique going or 
returning. Ilie path w^as a definite one, over some trees, 
beneath the top-most foliage of others, in one place through 
an immense hoop-like loop of liana. This was quite differ- 
ent from the food migrations which I shall soon mention. 
These birds were carrying food, both vegetable and animal, 
to their young, and only a firmly fixed habit of taking- the 
same path had perpetuated this imnecessary consumption of 
time and energy. The sharp outlines of the aerial trail 
frayed out in the vicinity of the colony, and birds approached 
their nests at will. But a hundred yards away, all converged 
sharply, focussing on the narrow pathway high in air. 

The roosting flights of tropical birds will ultimately 
demand separate special treatment. I shall touch only upon 
the habits of three or four species which roosted in the clumps 
of bamboo near the river bank and close to the house in the 
rubber plantation. The habit was as regular and inflexible 
as any seasonal migration, and in those species which asso- 
ciated in dense flocks, the birds seemed to lose all individu- 
ality and to become imbued with a united flock spirit, which 
influenced all simultaneously, synchronously, as one bird. 



96 TROnCAL WILD LIl'E IN BRITISH GUIANA 

The plieiioiiiena was more coiiiplieated than at first ap- 
peared, for it was not always a mere gra(hial assemhling of 
birds at some favorite roost, ^^•llere one by one they arrived, 
seleeted a pereh and put tlieir heads under their wings. This 
is the liabit of the Knghsh sparrow, in New York City, 
where some ma})le tree may heeome the niglitly roosting 
phice of many hundreds. After the breeding season is past 
the giant caciques approached most closely to some such 
method. They fed singly during the day, but even toward 
afternoon the individual showed no gradual sign of ceasing 
to feed, or thought of roost, until, without warning, the bird 
suddenly took to flight and, following a direct line, set out 
for the distant mango tree or clump of bamboo. As he flew, 
another and even a third bird would probably come in sight, 
headed for the same point, but there was never any recogni- 
tion or effort to turn aside to join the fellow species. Singly 
the great black and green birds came in, and singly they 
settled to roost on the swaying bamboos, whose smooth stems 
precluded attack from any terrestrial creature, and whose 
proximity to the clearing and human habitation eliminated 
the other dangers to which they would be exposed in a jungle 
tree. An interesting detail was the wariness of these giant 
orioles in the day time. Except during their nesting season 
it was very difficult to approach within gunshot. But as 
dusk settled do^\^l, other emotions— the anxiety for a safe 
roost, the tempered desire for the companionship of their 
own fellows during the long tropical nights — these increased, 
and gradually inhibited the fear of man to such an extent 
that the birds choose a roost at his very doors. 

Another point of interest in the evening gathering of 
the clan of giant caciques was the derivation of the various 
members. As well as I could determine, about a score of 
birds gathered everv night. It was an easy matter to watch 
them come in, as they were visible a considerable distance 
a way, and from their size and flight not to be confused with 
any other species. JNIost came from up the shore, three or 



BIRD LIFE OF BARTICA 97 

four due north from the (hstant forest, and tliree — prohahly 
a single family — flying west from Keow Island. Two 
months ago, there was a eolony of nine inhahited nests in a 
single tree on this island, so this trio of hirds must have been 
strongly affected by some reason or habit, to desert tlieir 

cry ^ » 

brethren wherever they may have roosted, and fly to so great 
a distance every evening. 

An advance in roosting ceremonial was presented by the 
smooth-billed anis. Shortly before sunset when these birds 
were scattered about the clearing, they ceased feeding and 
in the small flocks or family groups in which they are always 
found, they collected at the tops of the low shrubs. Here 
they climbed about in their aimless way, fluttering awkward- 
ly, whalooping to one another, until dusk had begun to close 
down. One by one they then began their loose- jointed, 
steady, beating flight, and if another lot of anis was seen 
below, the first group would often stop and alight. Then 
there would be more confusion, more chatter, more aimless 
clambering about the branches, around and even over each 
other. At last the roosting flight would be taken up again, 
this time direct, and the flock of black cuckoos would tum- 
ble headlong into the bamboos, to begin another period of 
fuming and perpetual readjustment, before darkness put an 
end to the day's activity of these weird, inexplicable 
creatures. 

To parrakeets, going to roost was a rite, not to be 
performed singly as with the caciques, nor lightly and with 
lack of dignity ani-fashion. Toward late afternoon the 
small companies of these birds, which since morning had 
been alternately feeding and screeching high up in the tree- 
tops of the jungle, ceased from their two chief activities and 
rising as if at the word of command, whirred sw^iftly toward 
some unusually high tree. I foimd three of these junctions 
or assembling places, and at first, thought I had discovered 
the real roost of these birds. Two of the trees were gigantic 
moras, whose topmost leaves must have been little short of 



98 TROPICAL WIT.D TJFK IN BRITISH GUIANA 

two hundred feet above the jungle floor. J5ut these places 
were only recruiting or half-way stations. One tree was not 
far from the edge of the jungle south of Kalacoon House. 
To tliis, about five o'clock, or earlier if the day were cloudy, 
the parrakeets began to come in flocks of six to twenty. But 
no matter what the size of the flocks, it always consisted of 
an even number of individuals, and although the birds flew 
sometimes so compactly that their wings almost touched, it 
was invariably possible to detect the still closer segregation 
which indicated mated pairs of these affectionate little be- 
ings. Flock after flock dashed into the tree, silently as a 
rule, with individual bickering and chattering after they had 
alighted. When many had arrived from all directions, even 
froni the iiiV^i^ of the jungle, toward which their ultimate 
flight would again take them, a period of silence ensued, and 
the sharpest scrutiny failed to distinguish a single bird 
among the green leaves. Then at an instant's signal, some 
reaction to a stimidus too delicate for our senses to detect, 
the whole company of several hundred birds was up and off 
like a whirlwind, all screaming their hardest. To an ob- 
server below, they were out of sight in an instant, but on 
other days I obsei-ved the same lot of birds from a hill-top 
in the clearing and could then watch their subsequent actions. 
They did not fly direct, but mounted high in air and made 
severed magnificent circles, a half-mile or a mile in diameter. 
The spirit of the flock would seem to have complete posses- 
sion. Occasionally, when a few parrakeets would dash down- 
ward toward the bamboos, if the majority willed to go on, 
these would swerve upward again for another great whirling 
circle. Finally as if drawn into an irresistible vortex, all 
banked sharjily and spiralled downward and into a tall tree 
near the bamboos. This was the last resting place, and after 
a few moments, the mass of parrakeets again rose and 
])itched into the bamboos for the night. Xot a rustle of leaf 
nor the sliglitest whisper marked tlieir presence when once 
they had entered the dense foliage. Sometimes several large 



BIRD LI IE Ol IJARTICA 99 

flocks came one after the other, and each eveninu" a do/en or 
more indivichials a[)peared flying steathly across from the 
opposite shore of the Alazariini. 

The details of (hiily hahits siicli as tliese, wliich we found 
strongly developed in many hirds other than caci(pies, anis 
and parrakeets, may prove ultimately of riiiidamental sig- 
nificance in M'orking out the origin of more extensive migi-a- 
tions, whether considered as ti'opisms or conscious actions. 

During the winter months about thirty species of hirds 
migrate from the United States or farther north to Britisli 
Guiana. In the liartica district we observed only seven of 
these, the Kscjuimo curlew, yellowlegs, spotted and solitary 
sandpipers, yellow warblei-s, purple martins and barn swal- 
lows. The purple martins and all the waders, except the 
spotted sandpipers left early in ^larch, but the yellow war- 
blers lingered until April 10. Families of spotted sandpi- 
pers were teetering along the Mazaruni shallows in early 
jMay — the young still in uns2)otted garb, although the adults 
had completed their spring molt. The barn swallows lingered 
amazingly late, and those which we shot on June 1 were in 
perfect condition and readv to nest in the near future. 
The last one flew past on June IG, making its way leisurely 
in a northward direction. These late birds — we saw prob- 
ably a dozen in June — were certainly neither cripples nor 
abnormal as to breeding condition. The one exception was 
a spotted sandpiper shot on July 9, which was emaciated 
although in good plumage, and the only abnormal condition 
was inflammation of some of the ovarian tissue. 

I can speak less certainly of the seasonal migration of 
native birds, as at least two successive years and much more 
than five months are necessary for exact data on this point. 
The few examples I shall mention serve chiefly to point our 
ignorance of these more or less local movements. I shall 
refer to them again under breeding season. In the case of 
birds nesting alone there is, not uncommonly, between the 
rearing of successive broods, a short migration quite away 



100 TROPICA I. WILD Lll E IN BRITISH GUIANA 

from the nesting loeality. AVlien we arrived at Kalacoon 
House early in Mareh a pair of moriche orioles was nesting 
in a royal palm a lew feet from our laboratory windows. 
There were two eggs in the nest, one of whieh we took, as 
it was new to seienee. The other hatehed and the voung bird 
flew. After this another nest was built and the two young 
were reared. Aeeompanied by both young, the moriches 
then left suddenly and for three weeks were not seen. Then 
quite as abruj)tly, the three birds returned and s])ent much 
time about the palm and during the latter half of June and 
early July remained in and about the clearing. About mid- 
July they began again to gather materials for a nest in the 
palm. 

In some cases birds which nest in colonies leave simul- 
taneously and scatter singly over the country. Other spe- 
cies keep together and drift about, guided only by the search 
for food. This synchronous impulse to leave the colonj^ is 
so strong that it may result in a number of the young being- 
left to starve in the nests, the flocking and migrating instinct 
overcoming that of the parental. Food is an important 
cause of local migration and may operate over a few miles, 
where the birds concentrate on some one fruit tree, or it may 
influence all the members of certain species or families in 
the country, which then shift over large areas of the colony. 
The movement of parrots and parrakeets coastwards in the 
mango season is an excellent example of this. 

Nowhere in the world do we find such extremes of the 
social instinct as among birds of the tropics. And not only 
among birds considered as a class, but even within the limits 
of small groups such as genera. When we have suflicient 
data to make a thorough resume of the social instinct, we 
doubtless shall find that any one species may run the gamut 
from a solitary life, to the close association of a mated pair, 
and finally become a member of a compact flock, all within 
a few months. But considered in general, certain types of 
birds fall naturally into various groups of relative sociability. 



BIRD LI IE OF 13ARTICA 



101 



This means tliat month after montli, in the conrse of many 
encounters, I came to think of this species as essentially soli- 
tary, of that as always hein*^- within sight or sound of its 
mate, while a thiid would never be seen except in a flock of 
its fellows. For the ])ur])ose of this classification I dixided 
the birds of Bartica into about sixty tentative groups, which 
fell into four categories, first, those which were essentiallv 
solitary at least for many months of the year, and in their 
habits of feeding and roosting; second, those which appeared 
to be paired throughout the year and were usually seen in 
couples or in company with one or two young bii-ds; third, 
birds which spend much of their life in small flocks, usually 
nesting in colonies of moderate size and always feeding in 
company; fourth, a few notable species which were eminent- 
ly gregarious and usually nested and fed and roosted in large 
flocks : 

Tinamou 
Jungle Pigeons 
1 erns 
A^'^aders 
Herons 
Snakebirds 
Vultures 
Hawks 

Rails 

Curassows 

Guans 

Chachalacas 

Partridges 

Ground Doves 

Caracaras 

Anis 

Swallow Puffbirds 



SOLITARY 

Owls 

Kingfishers 

Xighthawks 

Hummingbirds 

Trogons 

^Nlotmots 

Cuckoos 

Barbets 

PAIRS 

Kites 

^Macaws 

Parrots 

Toucans 

Woodpeckers 

Antbirds 

jNIanakins 

SMALL FLOCKS 

Swallows 

Finches 

Jays 



Jacamars 

Puffbirds 

G()l(ll)irds 

Cotingas 

Woodhewers 

Quadrille-birds 



Wrens 

Thrushes 

Vireos 

Honey-creepers 

Tanagers 

Orioles 

Flycatchers 

Giant Caciques 
Grackles 



102 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

LARGE FLOCKS 

Trumpeters Swifts Fork-tailed Flycatchers 

Parrakeets Smaller Caciques Blackbirds 

This association of grades of social instinct had many 
more points of interest than the mere statistical appearance 
would indicate. I shall discuss one only, that of voice, which 
had a close bearing upon the relative gregariousness. 

Of the twenty-two groups w^ith solitary habits, seven 
were decidedly inhabitants of open country, where they could 
readily see one another, and in these the voice was more or 
less negligible. Two out of the seven, vultures and snake- 
birds, lacked it altogether, while the Guiana representatives 
of terns, waders, herons, hawks and kingfishers seldom made 
themselves heard. Hummingbirds, while usually silent, had 
considerable vocal possibilities for their size, but their mar- 
velous power of flight doubtless usurped many of the ne- 
cessities of loud intercommunication. Of the fourteen re- 
maining groups all were inhabitants of dense jungle and 
without exception possessed of remarka])le vocal powers. 
These had an interesting generic resemblance in that the 
tones of the songs or calls were uniformly loud and, in the 
maioritv of cases staccato, or with an insistent rhythm. To 
anyone familiar with these birds in life it is sufficient to men- 
tion tinamou, jungle pigeons, owls, goatsuckers, trogons, 
motmots, cuckoos, barbets, jacamars, puff birds, goldbirds, 
cotingas and woodhewers, to recall memories that first are 
aural and then optical. To this the quadrille-bird must be 
added, a wren whose jungle life and solitary habits have 
divorced it from the rest of its diminutive fellows, and lent 
to its voice the startling staccato quality so characteristic of 
jungle birds, without depriving it of any of the sweetness 
which characterizes the songs of other wrens. It is worthy 
of note that the members of three of these groups were 
liocturnal, the cause of reduction of visual communication 
here being astronomical, not vegetative! 



BIRD LIFE OF BARTICA 103 

The birds wliich li\t'(l in ])airs and families were, for 
the most ])art, well pi-ox ided witli vocal organs, which they 
used to good effect. Their songs and call-notes had, how- 
ever, not so nincli ])enetrating quality, intended to cover 
great distance, as characteiized the voices of the solitary 
ones. In almost none was there the sustained repetition or 
rhythm found among the birds of the first category. Clia- 
chalacas were an exce])tion, but proving the ride, foi- they 
were truly arboreal, and onlv by their ada])tive ability had 
they drifted from the jungle and taken instant advantage 
of the secondgrowth. The chief ])oint of interest in this 
series was the distinction between the bird notes of the jun- 
gle and those of the clearing. The indescribable vocal out- 
bursts of gnans and caracaras, the emotional ex])ression 
voiced by macaws, parrots and toucans need only to be men- 
tioned. On the other hand ground doves, wrens, thrushes, 
vireos, tanagers and orioles — most of them representative 
of temperate groups of birds — filled the clearings with sweet 
calls and sustained musical songs, reminiscent of northern 
fields and woods and sharply contrasted with the more primi- 
tive sounds produced by birds typical of the tropical jungles. 

The voice was little developed among birds living in 
flocks, both smaller aggregations such as rails, anis, sw^allow 
puff birds, swallows, finches, giant caciques and jays, and 
those associated in large communities such as trumpeters, 
swifts, smaller caciques, fork-tailed flycatchers and black- 
birds. Xotable excejitions were parrakeets which some- 
times seemed to be all voice. The swallow puffbirds had 
departed from the hal)its and mode of life of their jungle 
relatives and usually lived in small colonies, and the fork- 
tailed flycatchers, showing no unusual traits during the 
nesting season, developed most remarkable gregarious habits 
immediately afterwards, and during the molting season 
roamed about the country in flocks of hundreds, roosting in 
some specially selected spot, but during the day drifting 
about wherever there was good hunting. A solitary trum 






104 TROPICAL WILD LI IK IN BHITLSH (iUIANA 

peter or parrakeet or red-breasted l)lackl)ird was an unthink- 
able phenomenon, although at least in the case of the first 
two, the birds remain paired for life. 

There is another type of sociability, that between dif- 
ferent sj^ecies, and in the jungle this was one of the most 
common phenomena and has been noticed by almost every- 
one who has spent any time there. The hosts of species of 
small and medium sized birds drifted together when their 
nesting season was past and roamed the jungle in small 
bands. It was remarkable how many different kinds were 
to be found in each little gathering. Sometimes when such 
a flock worked toward and across a glade it was possible to 
make an approximately complete census. I have comited 
twenty-eight birds in a flock of this kind, including twenty- 
three distinct species. The association reminded me strongly 
of birds migrating at night. There was the same steady 
drift in one direction and the same constant intercourse by 
means of soft chirps and twitters, woodhewer calling to fly- 
catcher, and manakin to antbird. 

Reviewing the whole host of Bartica birds, w^e are im- 
pressed with the tremendous extremes, not even approached 
by the avifauna of a corresponding temperate region. In 
size, for example, our specimens ranged from the pygmy 
amethyst hummingbird less than three inches from beak to 
tail, which probed the corollas for tiniest of insect food, to 
the great harpy eagle over a yard in length, with talons ca- 
pable of striking down any sloth or monkey of the jungle. 

A word as to color, more to indicate our line of investi- 
gation in this direction than to provide any satisfactory the- 
sis for the solution of this tremendously interesting factor of 
life. Working with the same methods with which I judged 
of protective coloration among the pheasants, I was able to 
divide the Bartica birds into graded groups with a fair de- 
gree of assurance. My estimate of protective coloration was 
based on tlie action of the birds themselves at the approach of 
danger. A bird Mhich flew at once, either to a point of van- 



BIRD LIFK OF HAIITICA 



105 



tage where it coiikl see clearly about it, or flying on out of 
sight was ])lain evidence of lack of protective coloring, at 
least in its own instinctive estimation. If it scjuatted or 
"froze" either for a moment or until we had crept up to with- 
in a few feet, I felt that it unconsciously, hut surely, count- 
ed upon being overlooked, or confused with its surroundings. 
This to my nu'nd, is the only infallible test which we may 
a])ply with confidence to the consideration of this nuich dis- 
cussed phenomenon. i\gain I offer a division of the same 
bird groups based on this <listinction: 



I^NPROTECTE]) 

Terns 

Jacanas 

White herons 

Vultures 

Caracaras 

l^aw^ks 

Kites 

Macaws 

Kingfishers 

Swifts 

Hummingbirds 

Anis 

Toucans 

Sw^allow puff])irds 

Woodpeckers 

Flycatchers 

Swallows 

Wrens 

Caciques 

Blackbirds 

Orioles 

Jays 



MALES 
UNPROTECTED 

Bellbirds 

Cotingas 

Finches 

Honey-creepers 

Tanairers 



PKOTEC TED 

Tinamou 

Curassows 

Cruans 

Chachalacas 

Partridges 

Jungle Pigeons 

Doves 

Rails 

Waders 

Sun-l)itterns 

Colored herons 

Owls 

Parrots 

Parrakeets 

jNIotmots 

Goatsuckers 

Cuckoos 

Trogons 

]5arbets 

Jacamars 

Puffbirds 

Antbirds 

Wood hewers 

iManakins 

Goldbirds 

Tlirushes 

Vireos 



lOG TROPICAL WILD LIl'K IX BHITLSH GUIANA 

It was of considerable si<4nifieance to analyze the vari- 
ous causes which sustained, if indeed they had not brought 
about, the lack of necessity for protective coloring. Among 
the twenty-odd groups enjoying this freedom there were six 
very evident factors which compensated the birds for con- 
spicuousness. Caracai-as could revel in almost solid black, 
kites in black and white and hawks in all soi-ts of pigments 
and patterns, since they themselves were pursuers, and hence 
all but immune from serious danger of direct attack. De- 
generate offshoots from these, the vultures claimed shame- 
less immunity by reason of their odor and unj)alatability. 
Size and sti'ength enabled the egrets to thrive while garbed 
in snowy white, and the terrible beaks of the macaws rarelv 
failed to defend them against whatever peril was aroused by 
advertisement of their harlequin plumage. Sheer pugnacity 
stood a number of the groups in good stead, the terns, isolated 
as they were up these rivers, the spur-winged jacanas, a sin- 
gle female of which I have seen standing off repeated darts 
of a small falcon ; kingfishers and woodpeckers whose beaks 
function normally in such unlike mediums, yet are united in 
virile and successful defense. Orioles and jays are proverbi- 
ally good fighters, while flycatchers are the policemen of the 
bird world and scream to scorn everj^ approach of falcon or 
hawk. 

Numbers were brought to bear in the case of trumpet- 
ers, toucans, caciques, anis and blackbirds, although as a 
matter of fact the two latter could offer but little concerted 
attack and usually preferred flight to valor, diving headlong 
into bushes or reeds. The aberrant swallow puffbirds es- 
cajied by swift, skillful dodging, appearing to outdistance 
any hawk with ease, and the swifts, swallows and martins 
did the same, while the active little wrens were comparatively 
safe in their underbrush preserves. Hummingbirds lived in 
a veritable fourth dimension of safety, thanks to their insect- 
like flight. 



BIRD LIVE or IJARTICA 107 

Twenty-seven groups of birds I classed in general as 
protectively colored, tliat is. I have seen nuinhers of eacli 
of these groups freeze motionless as I passed by, oi- when a 
hawk or some other direct source of danger appeared. Some 
of them, when held in the hand or examined in a museum 
case, would never be considered as protected by ])igment, and 
in these instances the marvelous kaleidosco])e of the jungle, 
plus absolute motionlessness, was their safeguard. 

Of birds directly protected by their pigments and })at- 
terns, tinamou, partridges and goatsuckers were saturated 
with the brown and buff essences of the jungle floor. AVood- 
hcM-ers had drawn over themselves the screen of reddish- 
brown and dull lichen spots of the tree-trunks. The black 
and white contrasty shadows of the dim mid- jungle sheltered 
the curassows, guans, jungle pigeons, sun-bitterns, owls, 
goldbirds, manakins and thrushes. Finally the green foliage 
of the jungle roof was reflected from the plumage of par- 
rots, parrakeets and vireos. In the clearing, chachalacas, 
ground doves, rails and cuckoos were protected in their vari- 
ous niches of life, waders and colored herons less well con- 
cealed, put their trust far more in immobility. 

The remaining jungle birds, although not plainly en- 
vironmentally colored, yet trusted their lives to a long chance 
of being passed unobserved. Among these I found motmots, 
trogons, barbets, jacamars and puff birds. To take one of 
these from a museum drawer would leave no option but to 
call it conspicuous. To see it quail momentarily as I pre- 
tended to pass and to realize the very apparent difficulty of 
detecting its white spots or metallic back or yellow sunlit 
breast in this optical tower of ])abel was to feel certain that 
other creatures desiring its death more than I, must also 
have difficulty in distinguishing it. The great group of ant- 
birds was fascinating in the individuality of its members and 
collectively defied any specific classification. Some, like the 
flycatchers of the clearing, were self-a])pointed guardians of 
the jungle, and with bravery and unlimited curiosity exam- 



108 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

ined any strano^er and commented on all his doings. Others 
iroze motionless until one had passed from view; others flew 
at once to the tree-tops or to some distant safer part of the 
jungle. 

Still other groups exhil)ited a sexual distinction and in 
considering them as protected or unprotected I had to con- 
sider the rights of both males and females. These gave add- 
ed emphasis to the correctness of my theory of protective 
coloring, for the actions of the two sexes were in perfect 
accord with their diversity in coloration. It was an easy 
matter to creep beneath a tree where a female or young male 
bellbird was calling. Natural selection or whatever we may 
call it, has striped the plumage green, and with such a pro- 
tection the bird can and does concentrate its whole attention 
on those mighty utterances. But a snow white male bellbird 
is too wary for more than a glimpse. Other cotingas, such 
as the pompadour chatterer and many honey-creepers and 
tanagers, came under the same class. Manakins, although 
the frequent invisibility of the parti-colored males demanded 
their inclusion with the protected birds of the mid- jungle, 
yet shared this section too, as one saw far more of the females 
and young males than of the adult cocks, although there was 
not the slightest reason to think that there was any actual 
numerical dis])arity in the sexes. In the open clearing, the 
grassbirds and finches illustrated the same sexual distinction, 
and one could measure by yards the facility of close approach 
to the little drab-colored hens, in comparison to the readiness 
with which the black, white and chestnut cocks took to wing. 

Omitting hawks, owls, vultures and five piscivorous 
groups, the remaining forty-eight, in the matter of food, fell 
into three unequal divisions; twelve per cent were wholly 
vegetarian, feeding chiefly on nuts, seeds, berries and forest 
fruits. These were jungle pigeons, ground doves, macaws, 
parrots, parrakeets and toucans. More than fifty per cent 
were carnivorous, including both seeds and insects in their 
diet; while less than thirty-eight per cent were wholly insec- 



BIRD iJlK OF BARTICA 109 

tivorous. It is uiiqiiestionuble tliat a more thorough study of 
the birds would add otliers to the earnivorous h'st. ( )iic of tlie 
most interesting things about tropieal birds was their cathohe 
diet, the faihire of fiycateliers to be satisfied with Ihes or 
grassbirds with tlie seeds of grasses. It was quite hopeless 
to attempt to identify more than one or two of the many 
nuts and seeds which I found in crops, although some were 
of remarkable shape and structure. The names of many of 
the largest forest trees themselves ai'e not known to botanists, 
and their flowers and fruit were wholly unidentifiable. 
"Fleshy green fruit with small yellow currant-like seeds" 
must suffice, until some method is found for the botanist to 
overcome gravitation and do his collecting in the tree-tops. 
On the jungle floor we found only a maze of fallen blossoms, 
berries, seeds and nuts which might have been the product 
of tree, liana, air-plant, or some nearby shrub rooted in a 
loftv earthen-filled hollow. 

No trace of a butterfly or moth was found in any of 
the four hundred stomachs examined. Once I saw a martin 
attack and disable a freshly emerged green and black day- 
flying moth (Urania boisduvali), but I am in doubt whether 
this was done for food, or from nervousness, as the bird was 
driving all martins and other flying creatures away from a 
nestling wdiich had just climbed out upon a perch. Irides- 
cent beetles were not uncommon items of diet, and green and 
brown mantids were present in a half dozen instances. Adult 
elaters formed the principal food of innumerable nighthawks, 
and stagbeetles of the poor-me-one. The yellow-throated 
caracara instead of being a scavenger as he is reputed, sated 
himself with seeds and insects. Two great eagles, one the 
harpy, had been feasting on monkeys, and a trio of swallow- 
tailed kites which w^ere slain because of their suspected orni- 
thophagous habits, proved a complete alibi and insured sanc- 
tuary for their successors by their last meal, which consisted 
of small wild fruits and large grasshoppers. 



110 TROPICAL WllA) LIVE IN JiRlTlSH GUIANA 

As ill the jungles of the Far East, the upkmds of Bur- 
ma and the coasthmds of Ceylon and Java, termites or white 
ants formed the dominant food of many of the insect-eaters. 
And at the l)eginiiing of the rains when the toothsome, slow- 
flying winged males and queens came forth in their myriads, 
hird life seemed to increase many fold, and the aiiis and Hv- 
catchers and wrens forgot all fear in their excitement at the 
new found manna. 

I have already mentioned the remarkable food migra- 
tions, both local and on a large scale. When we have more 
carefully correlated data we shall find that this phase of 
life — the search for food — well deserves the first place in 
the three great objects of organic existence on the earth. 

Problems were opened up in every direction. For ex- 
ample, the vulture's search for food: These birds were ex- 
ceedingly rare and never by any chance did careful search 
of the sky reveal one. But when we had killed and skinned 
sloth or howling monkey or hacka tiger, deep in the jungle, 
M'ithin two or three days the vultures would be gathered to- 
gether in the dimness of the jungle floor. If a king vulture 
were present, even in the juvenile black plumage, all the oth- 
ers waited patiently. If he were absent, two or three yellow- 
necked birds would be pulling at the carcass. Experiments 
which I have made in the past ' seemed to prove conclusively 
that these birds practically lack the sense of smell. But in 
these cases the carcasses were absolutely invisible from any 
angle of the sky. Did the birds hear the buzzing of flies? 
Did they mark the direct droning flight of the great blue 
scarabs? This year's observations revealed no clue. 

I have noticed no such friendly association of birds and 
animals in the South American tropics as exists between the 
pheasants of the Far East and the small deer and other 
harmless jungle creatures. Even the trumpeters kept to 
themselves and the agoutis — those rabbits of the jungle — 
were solitary feeders. The friendly flocking of different 

'New World Vultures, Zoological Society Bulletin, No. 32, 1908, p. 467. 



15IHI) Liri-: or j^auika m 

species of small birds of wliieli I have written elsewhere was, 
as usual, very marked, and tliis free-masonrv and mutual 
warning of danger made a IVaternity of all the lesser birds 
of the forest. Tropical birds i-eact to squeaking as quickly 
as those of any temperate region, and when one member of 
a flock, such as a toucan or antbird, I'ell, its com])ani()ns 
often followed and j'aii'ly mobbed one. In the jungles of 
the East the babblei-s made stalking most (ntliciilt by an- 
nouncing to all within earshot the presence of an intruder. 
Here the caracaras were the self-appointed watchmen, with 
macaws ably seconding their efforts. l?ut the caracaras had 
the impudence and fearless naivete possessed by vultures 
without the dumbness of those birds. Fortunately they were 
not abundant, but when one was watching or creeping to- 
ward some interesting nesting or feeding bird, the air was 
sometimes rent with the fearful shrieks and screams of a 
family of caracaras. Then some inquisitive antbird was sure 
to investigate and the object of one's search was very likely 
to move suddenly elsewhere. 

Of two score species of mammals which inhabited our 
small area of observation, about half included birds, their 
young and eggs in their diet. Ten groups of birds were 
themselves ornitho])hagous, lizards and iguanas took nest- 
lings and eggs on every possible occasion; monster toads 
doubtless longed for the opportunity which Nature denied 
them of climbing nestwards, while perai snapped at drinking 
swallows and fishing kiskadees and dragged wounded birds 
under water, the instant they touched the surface. Crabs, 
tarantulas, ants and giant w^ater-bugs all claimed a certain 
share. I have know^n ants to kill nestlings within the space 
of an hour's absence on the part of the parents. Even the 
bete rouge took toll, collecting by the thousand on the necks 
of birds such as tinamou, where they produced bad sores, 
and besides made the lives of many nestlings miserable. The 
elements caused a far greater percentage of deaths than did 
wind and heat and rain in temperate regions. Besides this, 



112 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITLSH GUIANA 

wholly unexpected tragedies occurred, great leaves falling 
upon and blotting out eggs and young, fruit growing into 
the nests and smothering the nestlings. And as if this were 
not enough, parents occasionally left their healthy young 
without aj)parent reason and commenced a new nest nearby, 
the first brood perishing miserably in full view of their cal- 
lous, unnatural parents. Cuckoos and cowbirds were always 
waiting the opportunit}?" to parasitize suitable nests, and not 
infrequently birds would wantonly destroy each others' nests 
or those of other species. 

These and a host of other dangers, resulted in a per- 
centage of mortality which was appalling. Toward the end 
of my stay, when I wished a photograph of eggs and nest, 
I never dared leave them for a day, but took them home if 
the camera had been left, and replaced them at my next 
visit. This mortality fell into place with the notes I have 
made in past years in distant parts of the tropics, and gained 
tremendously in significance when I considered it in connec- 
tion with such subjects as breeding seasons and numbers of 
eggs and young. 

The roosting places of birds are little known and yet, 
since I have begun to devote considerable time to discovering 
and studying them, I have found that they possess signifi- 
cance in many waj^s other than being the nearest branch on 
which to rest in sleep throughout the night. I have else- 
where mentioned the interesting change of habits of such 
birds as parrots, parrakeets and caciques, which at nightfall 
desert the jungle for a safer roost in the open clearing near 
human habitations. In another chapter I have taken up in 
detail the importance of arboreal and terrestrial roosting 
habits of the two genera of tinamou found near Bartica. 
Of the roosting of many groups of birds I know nothing. 
The dusk of the jungle would shut down and until they 
began calling and feeding early next morning, they ceased 
to exist as far as I was concerned. 



JilRl) lAVK or JJAIITICA 



lia 




Photo by P. G. H. 
FIG. 32. GREAT JACOBIN HUMMINGBIRD (FLORISUGA MELLIVORA) 
ON ITS ROOSTING PERCH. 



Ciirassows and giians roosted high up in the forest and 
judging by sign, they resorted to the same place week after 
week. Rails, diu-ing the nesting season, selected a place flat 
among the reeds, immediately behind the nest and facing 
away from it. Tluis the bird which was not on the eggs was 
able to watch for danger from the rear. The terns here- 
abouts roosted singly on rocks in mid-stream. Late one 
evening in the last rays of light I saw one of them settle 
down with head under wing on a rock which, a few hours 
later, would be overlapped by the rising tide. I wonder what 
happened when the bird felt itself gently lifted from its 
support. If the water were as quiet as when I last saw the 
bird it woidd hardly have been awakened. In the season of 
migration the little families of sandpipers kept the terns 



114 THOPICAL WILD I.IFK IX BRITISH GUIANA 

company and swayed all night on one leg in the center of 
the great ^Nlazaruni. The nighthawks, reversing things, spent 
their days on the ground, hut the poor-nie-ones, as I discov- 
ered many years ago, kept, like the owls, to the thicker 
hranches of low trees. 

Crouched in the heart of a great hollow tree I learned 
that tropical swifts sought shelter from hoth heat and rain 
in the same place where they roosted. It was a wonderful 
sight to see the bats leaving as the swifts eddied downward 
through the foliage, silhouetted against the afterglow. At 
mid-day there was always much squeaking of bats and chat- 
tering of swifts as the birds whirled downward for their siesta 
and disturbed the slum})ers of the flittermice. 

Hiumningbirds, like butterflies, roosted, perched to the 
tips of very slender twigs, usually in some shrub or vine bare 
of leaves, and they made no secret of their couch, but sat and 
twittered volubly to the world before they followed the 
habit of the great harpy eagles and tucked their heads behind 
their absurd wings. They roosted singly, each atom of feath- 
ers isolated in the great closed amphitheater of the jungle's 
mid-growth, never more than two or three on one shrub. Anis 
on the contrary, crowded to roost in a dense mob, sometimes 
two and three deep, as if there were not room enough in this 
tro]jical universe. Toucans, like most birds which nested in 
holes, preferred to roost outside, where they folded them- 
selves up like a paper parcel, first the monstrous beak laid 
lengthways along the center of the back, then the inner edge 
of the wings flapped up against it for side packing, and 
lasth^ the gaudy, hinged tail folded back over all. Thus the 
rain was not shunted off but apparently was aided in soak- 
ing the plmnage; the bird became a feathered ball, and all 
the nocturnal requirements of these strange birds were ful- 
filled — which is the same as saving that we haven't the faint- 
est idea why this remarkable habit exists! 

Neither do \ve know why kiskadees and most other fly- 
catchers roosted singly or at most, two or three in a tree, 



iilKD LliE OF liARTJCA 115 

while fork-taik'd fiycatchers crowded into a single mango 
until everv branch was trenil)lin<»- witli thtii- tluttcrinu's. 
The caciques, hke tlie rails, prefer to roost near home, and 
just to use up surplus energy the male would huild a separ- 
ate dimimy nest, without an vg^^ cavity, or else a little awn- 
ing of interlaced lihres at one side of his rightful nest. Here 
he would sleep while his mate brooded deep in the purse 
below. I believe the moriche orioles did the same thing, but 
I had only half-proofs of this. 

The nesting season and the broods of tropical birds are 
fraught with significance, and I have chosen to treat separ- 
ately of them, delaying publication until mj^ notes are round- 
ed out and my theories vindicated. 

The completion of my fragmentary notes on these many 
phases of bird life in the tropics will, I trust, yield data of 
still greater importance, and wider application. My notes 
on courtship and fighting this year were exceedingly meagre. 
The most common courtships which we noticed were the 
wing-plays and dances of jacanas, the dignified pheasant- 
like display of the sun-bittern and the contortions of the 
giant caciques. In the clearing one never tired of watching 
the comical bouncing dance, with vocal accompaniment, of 
the little pee-zing grassbird. ]My isolated notes hint that 
there are many courtships as complicated and worthy of 
investigation as that of the powies or curassows. ' 

As to fighting, from the point of view of rivalry, the 
hunmiingbirds easily held first place. Two seemed hardly 
ever to meet without a passage at arms, often clinching in 
mid-air and whirling around as they fell, like a single wound- 
ed bird, ^^^hen all the hummingbird world seemed gathered 
at the flowering of the cashew trees, some of them w^ould 
forego feeding hour after hour, so busy were they, driving 
away others from the tree. Certain species seemed to hold 
in especial hatred certain other species, while still others, 
both larger and smaller, were allowed to pass and feed un- 

'Our Search for a Wilderness, pp. 332-338. 



IK) TROITCAL WW A) \AVE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

molested. The animosity was racial or specific, not indiscrim- 
inate. When striving for the possession of the nesting box, 
two martins sometimes fell with a thmiip to the ground, 
locked tight together, and lay there, disheveled and with 
flying feathers, pecking viciously at one another. 

All tribes of Guiana Indians have certain beliefs and 
legends concerning birds. The goatsuckers and owls are 
considered birds of ill omen, their calls presaging illness or 
death. Others, such as bellbirds, kingfishers and eagles, are 
thought to predict rain. Brett gives two stories which are 
su])posed to account for the present colors and patterns of 
birds, a short cut to evolution which, on days of discouraged 
investigation, we would heartily wish were true ! 

An Arawak hunter captured a vulture, daughter of 
Annuanna. This latter, so Roth tells us in his account of 
the Animism and Folk-lore of the Guiana Indians, is the 
carrion crow or caracara. The vulture laid aside her feath- 
ers, appeared before him as a beautiful girl, became his wife, 
carried him above the clouds, and after much trouble, per- 
suaded her father and family to receive him. All went well 
until he expressed a wish to visit his aged mother, when his 
new-found family discarded him and set him on the top of 
a very high tree, the trunk of which was covered with for- 
midable prickles. He appealed to all the living creatures 
around. Finally, spiders spun cords to help him, and flut- 
tering birds eased his descent so that at last he reached the 
ground in safety. Then followed his efforts, extending over 
several years, to regain his wife. At length the birds es- 
])oused his cause, assembled their forces, and bore him, as 
their commander, above the sky. At last he was slain by 
a valiant yoimg warrior, resembling him in person and fea- 
ture, who tiu-ned out to be his own son. The legend ends 
with the conflagration of the House of the Royal Vultures. 
The kiskadee flycatcher, though a valiant little bird, disliked 
the war, and bandaged his head with white cotton, pretend- 
ing to be sick, but being detected, was sentenced to wear it 



BIRD LII'K OF BARTICA 117 

continuallv. He is noted for his liostilitv to hawks and otlier 
hn'O'c })ir(ls, whic'li he attacks incessantly wlicn on tlie wing. 
The warracahra or truni])etci- hird and the sakkasakkah', a 
kingfislier, quarreled over the s}){)il and knocked each other 
into the ashes. The forniei- arose with patches of g'rey, while 
the other became grey all over. The Akawai Indians add 
to this that the trumpeter flew down into an ant's nest and 
before he could escape, his legs, which formerly had been 
fat and })him]), were picked quite clean. On the same occa- 
sion the marudi or guan. thinking some glowing hot embers 
to be an insect, swallowed them and so got his fiery throat. 
The owl discovered among the spoil a package done u]) with 
care, which he found to contain darkness only; since which 
he has never been able to endure the light of day. 

Another story relates in a most convincing manner the 
method by which birds got their present plumage. Once 
upon a time there was a water serpent, a huge creatiu'e with 
a most brilliant skin of red, green, black and white in extra- 
ordinary patterns. He became such a terror to all other 
living creatures that the men and bii-ds, who were friends 
in those days, combined forces to destroy him, and the crea- 
ture's skin was promised to the first one who made him 
come out of the pool. But all were afraid to tackle him 
except the snakebird, who darting dowai into the water, 
drove an arrow through his neck — an arrow fastened by a 
string to a tree on the bank, by means of which he was 
finally drawTi to land, where he was skinned. Snakebird 
claimed the skin, and the warriors, never thinking he M^ould 
be able to carry it away, tf)ld him he could liave it. He 
nodded to the other birds, who, each seizing part of the 
edge, managed to lift it off' the ground and bear it to a 
secluded spot, where Snakebird told them they could divide 
it among themselves, each to take the part that he had just 
helped to carry. Each bird carried his load home on his 
back, and ever since has been marked by hues which the sec- 
tion of serpent's skin that he carried, happened to bear — - 



118 THOPICAI. WII.l) MFK I\ URITISH GUIANA 




FIG. 33. NUPEE, OUR AKAWAI INDIAN HUNTER, BRINGING IN 
AGOUTIS AND CURASSOWS. 



parrots green, macaws scarlet and gold, and so on. But 
Snakebird, as his share, got only the snake's head with its 
sombre tints; however, he remained content with this. 

The usefulness to man of native Guiana birds may be 
divided into three heads — ornaments, pets and food. Thanks 
to most excellent laws which have been passed and are well 
enforced, all exportation s of plumage for millinery purposes 
have ceased, altliough for some birds almost too late, for scar- 
let ibises are a rare sight even on the coast. The ornamenta- 
tion then is confined to the Indians of the interior who deco- 
rate their arrows, head-dresses and medicine bags witli bril- 
liant featliers. The birds whose plumage is chiefly used are 
macaws, Amazon parrots, curassows, toucans, the inner wing 
plumes and iridescent breasts of trumpeters, cocks-of-the- 



BIRD LUK Ol" J5AR TK A 111) 

rock and the rich wine-colored poni])adour cotin^as. ^Vhont 
Bartica the Inch'ans are too busy workint^- cassava or getting 
sourie nuts oi- flsliing, to pay much attention to unnecessary 
decoration. 

As food, the hirds of Cruiana form an important item 
in the dietary of tlie Indians or indeed of anyone h'vina' in 
or travelling through the interior. During four montlis of 
one period of work at Kalacoon House, one Indian witli a 
double-barrelled, twenty-eight gauge shotgun easily kept 
us in meat, and meat which to our ])alate was far superior 
to the supplies which at first we had sent u]) from (ieorge- 
town. He worked in a radius of only a mile or two, and 
yet seemed to make no impression on the amount of game 
still present in this area. Sixty per cent of this game con- 
sisted of birds, of which tinamou, cvu'assovvs, guans and 
trumpeters formed the chief items, these birds being bettei- 
kno^\^l colonially by the names of maams, powies, maroudis 
and warracabras. Among the mammals the most valuable 
for food were deer, peccaries, monkeys, tapirs and pacas; 
agoutis or accouris are the rabbits of the tro])ical jungles. 
After we had shot over fifty in this limited district their num- 
bers seemed to be as great as ever. Keeping in mind the care- 
fully preserved shooting grounds of our Eastern States, the 
elaborate licenses, the delicately estimated head of game al- 
lowed to each hunter, it seemed too good to be true, to find 
in the world, only a possible eight days from New York, such 
an unspoiled hunting ground, with enough and to spare. The 
game hog is unknown, as there is no market for his ill-gotten 
wares. We Tiever wasted a single specimen. Besides its 
flesh for the mess, each bird was weighed, measnred, exam- 
ined for molt and parasites, skinned, sexed and its food re- 
corded, and whenever desired, parts of the skeleton and soft 
anatomy preserved. Surely no killed s])ecimens more fully 
fulfilled their destiny of usefulness to man! The flesh kept 
us in good health, and the entrails went to feed our captive 
animals and birds of prey. 



120 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 



±\ 



Any ({iiestioii of taste in food is too individual for gen- 
eral discussion, but we could never decide wliich of the prin- 
cipal types of birds we preferred. The game-birds of Gui- 
ana are excelled by no pheasants of Asia nor grouse of 
Europe. 

The question of extermination of wild birds is hardly 
likely to arise in British Guiana as long as the present very 
strict laws are in force. The conditions on the licence to 
collect wild birds for scientific purposes read as follows: 

The Plolder of this Licence is required: 

( 1 ) To submit all birds collected for inspection by the 
Director of Science and Agriculture as well as at the Mu- 
seum by the Curator. 

(2) To furnish the Director of Science and Agricul- 
ture with a statement showing the kinds of birds and the 
number of each kind obtained, and the localities in which 
they were collected. 

(3) To specify the persons to whom, or the institu- 
tion to which, his birds have been sold or forwarded, whether 
in the Colony or abroad. 

(4) To keep books for inspection by the Director of 
Science and Agriculture, the Inspector General of Police 
or any officer deputed in writing by either of them to do so, 
showing what kinds of birds have been killed, the number 
of each kind, and the localities in which they were collected ; 
where the birds' skins have been removed to, and how; and 
the final disposal of such birds' skins, supported by receipts 
or acknowledgments from the pin-cliasers. 

(6) This licence must be returned to the Secretary 
of the Board of Agriculture at the expiry of the period for 
which it is issued or when an extension of its period is sought 
for. 

The law for the protection of wild birds recognizes two 
classes, tliose absolutely protected and those protected only 
during a close season. I present the two lists as being of 



BIRD T.TFE OF EARTICA 



121 



importance to anvone interested in the preservation of wild 
life. 

lUHDS I'KOTEC'IKI) 11 J K<)r(;H()rT THE YEAR: 



Ant Thrushes and J^iish- 

shrikes 
Babbling Thrushes 
Barbets 
Black Witches 
Bunvas and ^lockinol)ir(ls 

(except Kice birds) 
Canipaneros 
Carrion Crows 
Cassiques 
Cocks-of-the-Kock 
Cormorants 
Cotingas 
Cranes 
Creepers 
Cuckoos 
Ducklars 
Egrets 

Falcons and Hawks 
Finches 
Fin- foots 
Flamingoes 
Flycatchers 
Frigate Birds 
Gannets 
Goatsuckers 
Grass Birds 
Grebes 

Ground Doves 
Hawks 
Herons 
Hoatzins 
Hummingbirds 



Jacamars 

Jays 

Kingfishers 

Kiskadees 

Kites 

ISIanakins 

iNIartins 

JMotmots 

Owls 

Parrakeets 

Pelicans 

Petrels 

Rails and Crakes 

Screamers 

Sugar Birds 

Sun Bitterns 

Shrikes 

Sparrow^s 

Swallows 

Swdfts 

Tanagers 

Thrushes 

Toucans 

Terns and Gulls 

Trogons 

Troupials 

Tyrant Shrikes 

Vireos and Greenlets 

Vultures, (except in villages) 

Warblers 

^Voodhewers 

Woodpeckers 

Wrens 



122 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 
BIRDS I'ROTKCrKl) FROM APRIL I TO SEPTEMBER i: 

Bitterns Qnuil and Partridges 

Chaehalaeas Snipe 

Cnrassows Spoonbills 

Curlews Spur-winged Jaeanas 

Guans Storks 

Jabirus Tbiek-kneed Plover 

Ijini})kins or Caraows Tinaniou 

Parrots and jNIacaws Trumpeters or Warracabras 

Plovers 

BIRDS PROTECTED FROM APRIL I TO JULY I! 

Ducks (except in rice fields) 
Doves (other than Ground Doves) 
Pigeons 

BIRDS PROTECTED FROM JANUARY I TO SEPTEMBER I : 

Ibises 

There is a curious psychological agreement among a 
number of important South American birds, so pronounced 
and uniform that it is difficult not to consider it as being a 
link between them, although structurally they are quite dis- 
similar. This is an acceptance of ca])tivity, or rather a vol- 
untary association with man, which is astounding. If one 
finds a curassow or trumpeter chick, kills its parents or 
frightens them away and then carries it part- way toward 
camp, it will willingly follow the rest of the way. From 
that time on, it becomes a familiar of the household or barn- 
yard. This I have seen in the case of Indians, and I have, 
mvself, achieved it with curassow chicks. At Kalacoon we 
had a number of curassows, guans and trumpeters and all 
exhibited this total lack of fear. In the heart of the jungle 
one will come across a temporary Indian benab with a flock 
of some or all of these birds running and flying about, nev-er 
offering to go back to the jungle. 



BIRD I. IFF, OF BARTICA 123 

This is in stron<>- contrast with })heasant chicks and other 
Eastern gaHinaceons hirds, which retain their wildness to the 
end of their life, never becoming more than semi-domesti- 
cated. With these facts are correhited others wliich seem 
only to emphasize them. Tlie trumpeters and curassows, 
which at once become so ridiculously tame, even trouble- 
somely so, seldom or never lay eggs or l)rcc(l in captivity. 
Year after year passes with no sign of approaching breeding 
season, except now and then a feeble attempt at courtship on 
the part of the curassows. No nests are built, no eggs laid, 
even when tall trees are available and the sticks provided 
which might suggest or tempt this performance. The pheas- 
ants, peafowl and partridges, on the contrary, too wary ever 
to allow any caress or even a near approach, usually lay 
promptly, and if undisturbed, will incubate and rear their 
broods. We have no explanation of this. It is a fascinat- 
ing problem for the future. 

I was interested in seeing the various ways in which the 
Indians secured wild birds. A breech-loading gun, such as 
that which I loaned to our Akawai hunter, was almost im- 
known, and he hunted de luxe, the envied of all the Indians 
he met. They sometimes were the proud possessors of an 
old-fashioned muzzle-loader, or in lieu of this they used bows 
and arrows and blow-pipes. They seemed poor trappers 
and would choose rather to wait for hours at some likely 
place than to set springes or nooses. 

Next to any scientific research, mv chief desire was the 
gathering of live vertebrates to send north to the New York 
Zoological Park. When the coolies heard of the horde of 
pence and three-pences and bits available, they came in day 
after day with all sorts of specimens, and in this way we got 
a number of interesting birds. Others were purchased from 
Indians, young ones we collected from nests, and brought 
up by hand, while the majority were trapped in cages or 
caught w^ith lime sticks. It was exciting work, for we never 



124 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




Photo hi/ W. B. 

FIG. 34. SHIPPING CRATES OF LIVE MAMMALS, BIRDS AND REPTILES 
FROM KALACOON LANDING. 



knew when some especialh' desirable and rare specimen 
might not be brought in by an Indian. And then we had 
to dissemble our interest and look upon the creature with in- 
difference and but slight desire, so that the market prices 
should not soar, and a precedent be set which would put 
future treasures beyond our financial reach. Then there 
came tlie feeding and care, the boxing and shipping, from our 
tent-boat to the river steamer, then across Georgetown to 
the great ocean liner which would transport them north. 

The most searching and the fairest test of the success 
of any live animal collecting is the record of the creatures 
which arrive safely and become adapted to life in their new 
surroundings. So I present the lists only of those which 
reached New York and the Zoological Park in health. 



BIRD Lll-E Ol liARTICA 125 

Althonoh tin's phase of work was wholly sii])onlinate 
to the scientific investif^'ation which was the main ohjcct ol* 
the Station, we were able to add over three hundred mam- 
mals, birds and reptiles to the collection of the Z()()lo<>ical 
Pai'k. These represent a total value of well over one thou- 
sand dollars. They were as follows: 

31 JMammals 1(5 Snakes 
154 Birds 8 Tortoises and Turtles 

3 Alligators 80 Froos and Toads 

10 Lizards 13 Fish 

Without going into too great detail, a few of the more 
interesting specimens may be mentioned. Three species of 
opossums were obtained, several ])acas, a yaguarondi cub, 
agouti, ocelot, a ver}^ interesting wild dog, and some jungle 
rats which have not been identified. 

Thirty-four species of living birds were sent to the Zoo- 
logical Park, of which seven had not previously been ex- 
hibited. The most important was a cock-of-the-rock {liupi- 
cola rupicola), an uncommonly fine specimen, in full adult 
male plumage. Few cocks-of-the-rock have been exhibited 
alive in North ^Vmerica, and none at all for more than twen- 
ty-five years. The species is alleged to be delicate and short- 
lived in captivity, but this specimen has as yet given no 
evidence of frailty. 

The cock-of-the-rock belongs to the fann'ly Cotingidae, 
all the members of which are rare in captivity. The pompa- 
dour cotinga {Xipholcna punicca) , so far as records go, has 
never been exhibited alive before the arrival of the specimen 
sent to Xew York from the Tropical Station. This is a 
superb species, the adidt male clad in gorgeous claret, set 
off with snow-white wings. Little is known of the wild hab- 
its of this bird, but even less of its viability and conduct in 
captivity. 

Rails are always welcome additions to collections of liv- 
ing birds, because of their activity and hardiness. The white- 



126 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITLSH GUIANA 

necked rail (Porza?ia alhicolli.s) altlK)ii<>h vmconimon even 
in museums, was very abundant about Kalacoon, and tbree 
living specimens were sent to Xew York. Dusky ])arr()ts 
(Pionus fnscus), lavender jays {Cyanocoraoo cay ana), a 
black- faced hawk {Leuco pterins mclanops) and Ciuiana 
motmots {3Iomolus mo wot a) complete the list of first ac- 
cessions. Among others were a number which have not been 
exhibited for several years, including Dufresne's Amazon 
parrot, red-breasted and yellow-headed blackbirds, smooth- 
billed anis, besides yellow-headed vultures, curassows, mo- 
riche orioles and a host of small tanagers and seed-eaters. 
jNIany unusual frogs and toads were secured, one of 
which was a huge s])ecimen of the marine toad. The gro- 
tesque sharp-nosed toad is as brightly colored as it is rare. 
The coppery-red five-fingered frog resembles our bull-frog, 
but the nursing frogs which carry their tadpoles on their 
back, are quite unlike any of our Xorth American forms. 
Others, of whose habits we know little or nothing, are the 
mustached, the long-snouted and the white-headed frogs. 
A five-foot electric eel was caught in the Mazaruni almost 
in front of Kalacoon and successfully shipped north in a 
metal-lined case. When received full force, the shock from 
its batteries was almost sufficient to knock a man off his feet. 



CHAPTKK VIII. 

A LIST OF BIRDS Or THE BARTICA DISTRICT. 

A coiiipilatioii of tlie list of the Tropiciil Kcsearcli 
Station of the Zoological Society and the Whitely list re- 
veals a total of three hundred and fifty-one species. Those 
marked with a star are new to the Colony of British (iuiana. 
The numbers are those of the birds of South America by 
Brabourne and Chubb: 

TINAMIFORMES 

10 Guiana Great Tinamou TIikiihu^ major (Gmel.) 

22 Pileated Tinamou Crypturus soui soui (Hennann) 

37 Variegated Tinamou Crypturus varieyatus (Gmel.) 

GALLIFORMES 

74 Crested Curassow Crux alector Linn. 

93 Lesser Olive Guan Penelope marail (Gmel.) 

94 Greater Blue Guan Penelope yranti Berlepsch. 

101 Little Chachalaea Ortalis motmot (Linn.) 

130 Guiana Partridge Odontophorus yuianensis (Gmel.) 

COLUMBIFORMES 

1 i9 Splendid Pigeon Columba speciosa Gmel. 

152 Rufous Pigeon Columba rufina ruflna Temm. & Knip 

156* Plumbeous Pigeon Columba plumbea plumbea Vieill. 

161 Purple-tinted Pigeon Columba purpureotincta Ridg. 

175 Larger Grey Ground DoveChaemepelia pusserinu yriseola Spix. 

179 Talpacoti Ground Dove Chaemepelia talpacoti (Temm. & Knip) 

191 Grey-fronted Dove Leptoptila rufaxilla rufaxilla (Rich.&Bern.) 

204 Red Mountain Dove Oeotrygon montana (Linn.) 

RALLIFORMES 

230 Cayenne Wood Rail Jratnides cajanea (P. L. S. Miill.) 

239 White-necked Crake Porzana albicolUs Vieill. 

251 Cayenne Crake Creciscus viridis (P. L. S. Miill.) 



128 TROPICAL WILD LIFL IX BRLrLSH GUIANA 

LARIFORMES 
319 Grtat-billcd Tern Pnaetusa chloropoda \h-\\\. 

CHARADKIIFORMES 

381 Collared Plover Charadrius collaris Vieill. 

3J)1 Es(]uimo Curlew Numenlus boreaUs (Forst.) 

398 Ycllowlegs Totanus flacipes (Clmel.) 

399 Solitary Sandpiper Tringa solitaria Wilson. 

400 Spotted Sandpiper Actitis luartdaria (I. inn.) 

411 Brazilian Snipe GoIHiku/o l>razlHe)isi.s Swains. 

419 Cayenne Snijjc GaUiiuujo undulata (Bodtl.) 

427 Common Jacana Jacana spinosa (Linn.) 

GRUIFORMES 

433 Sun-bittern Eurypyya helias (Pall.) 

436 Grej^-winged Trumpeter Psophia crepitans Linn. 

ARDEIFORMES 

445 Guiana Ibis Theristicus caudatus (Bodd.) 

448 Cayenne Ibis Harpiprion cayennensis (Gmel.) 

461 Cocoi Heron Ardea cocoi Linn. 

463 American Egret Egretta egretta (Gmel.) 

464 Snowy Egret Egretta thula (Molina) - 

465 Little Blue Heron Florida caerulea caeridea (Linn.) 

468 Agami Heron Agamia agami (Gmel.) 

472 Yellow-crowned Night 

Heron Nycticorax violacens (Linn.) 

473 Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius Linn. 

475 Pileated Heron Pilherodius pileatus (Bodd.) 

476 Guiana Green Heron Butorides striata (Linn.) 

ANSERIFORMES 
499 Muscovy Duck Cairina moschata (Linn.) 

PELEC AN IFORMES 
554 American Snakebird Anhinga anhinga Linn. 

CATHARTIFORMES 

566 King \'iilture Gypagns papa (Linn.) 

567 Southern Black Vulture Catharittta foetens Wied. 

568 Southern Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura aura (Linn.) 
570 Yellow-headed Vulture Cathartes urubitinga I'elz. 



BARTICA BIRDS 129 

ACCIPITKll'OllMES 

571 Yellow-throated 

Caracara Ibycter ater (Vieill.) 

575* Red-throated Caracara Ibycter americnnus (Bodd.) 

580 Yellow-headed Caracara Mihuyu chlmachima (Vieill.) 

588 Lined Hawk Micrastur gilvicollis (Vieill.) 

GOG Four-banded Sparrow- 
hawk Accipiter bicolor bicolor (Vieill.) 

623 Shining Buzzard-Hawk Astin-hin nitida (Lath.) 

G25 Large-billed Hawk Kupuniis mai/iiirostrh (Giiu-l.) 

631 l^razilian Kagle Urubitinga uri(bit'mg(i (Ginel.) 

63() W'liite-eollared Hawk Leucopteniin albicuUin (Lath.) 

6il Black-faced Hawk Leucopternis melanops (Lath.) 

GiG Guiana Crested Eagle Morphmis giiianensis (Daud.) 

6i8 Harpy Eagle Thrasaetus harjiyki (Linn.) 

650 Black and White Hawk- 

Eagle Spiziastur melanoleucus (Vieill.) 

651 Manduit's Hawk-Eagle Spizaettis ornatus (Daud.) 

653 Tyrant PLawk-Eagle Spizaetus tyrannus (Wied.) 

655 Swallow-tailed Kite Elanoides forficatus (Linn.) 

656 Everglade Kite Rostrhamus sociabilis (Vieill.) 

66 i Double-toothed Hawk Harpagus bidentatus (Lath.) 

665 Plumbeous Kite Ictinia plumbea (Gmel.) 

671 White-throated Bat- 
falcon Falco rufigularis Daud. 

STKIGIFORMES 

688 Spectacled Owl Pulsatrix perspicillata (Lath.) 

PSITTACIFORMES 

734 Scarlet Macaw Ara macao (Linn.) 

735 Green-winged Macaw Ara chloroptera Gra}% 

750 Yellow Conure Aratinga solstitialis (Linn.) 

829 Golden-winged Parra- 

keet Brotogeris chrysopterns (Linn.) 

833 Mealy Amazon Amazona farinosa (Bodd.) 

841 Yellow-headed Amazon Amazona ochrorephala (Gmel.) 

844 Dufresne's Amazon Amazona dufresnkina (Shaw.) 

857 Blue-headed Parrot Pionus menstruus (Linn.) 

868 Dusky Parrot Pionus fuscus (P. L. S. Mlill.) 

877 Caica Parrot Pionopsltta caica (Lath.) 

881* Scopoli's Parrakeet Urochroma batavica (Bodd.) 

883 Purple Guiana Parrot Urochroma purpurata (Gmel.) 

889 Black-headed Cacique Pionites melanocephala (Linn.) 



130 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

CORACIIFORMES 

895 Great Grey Kingfisher Ceryle torquata torquala (I.inn.) 

898 Circat Green Kingfisher Ceryle amazona (I,atli.) 

899* I.ittle Green Kingfisher Ceryle americana nmericana (Gmel.) 

901 Spotted Kingfisher Ceryle hula (I. inn.) 

902 Pygmy Rufous Kingfisher Ceryle aenea aenea Pallas. 
908 (niiaiia Motmot Momotus viomota (Linn.) 

922 (iiant Goatsueker Nyctibian (jriseus yri.seux (Gniel.) 

923 Long-tailed Goatsucker Nyctibius longicaudulus (Si)ix.) 

935 Semi-collared Night- 
hawk Luruculis semitorqudliis (Guiel.) 

918 Wliite-necked Nightha\vk..A'i/'"'''<^''«'""*" albicollh albU-ollin (Gmel.) 

961 Dusky Nighthawk Caprimulgus nigrescens Cab. 

9()9 \\'liite-banded Swift Streptoprogne zonarls albicincta (Cab.) 

971 Short-tailed Swift Chaetnra brachynra Jard. 

975 Spine-tailed Swift Chaetura splnicauda (Boie) 

979* Cherries Swift Chaetura chapmani i-irridipennis (Cherrie) 

985* P'umigated Swift Cypseloides fumigatus Streub. 

988 Cayenne Swift Panyptila cayennensis (Gmel.) 

1008 Cayenne Hermit Phuethornh swpercUioxnx (Linn.) 

1033 Longuemare's Hermit Phaethornh longuemannig (Less.) 

1038 Red-vented Hermit Phaethornis ruber (Linn.) 

1011 Bishop Hermit Phaethornis eiylscopus Gould. 

1018 Broad-shafted Sahre\ving...Campylopterus larglpennis (Bodd.) 

1058 Great Jacobin Florisuga mellivora melUvora (Limi.) 

1107* Trinidad Erythronote Saucerottea erythronota (Less.) 

1127 Guiana Sapphire Hylocharis sapphirhia (Gmel.) 

1133 Blue-chinned Sapphire Chlorentes notatus (Reich) 

1172 Venezuelan Wood- 

Nymph Thalurania fwrcata fissilis Berl. & Hart. 

1 193 Swainson's Humminghird... A i^ocettula recurvirostris (Swains.) 

1191 Violet-tailed ALango Lampornis nigricollis (Vieill) 

1205 Shaw's Golden-throated 

Hummingbird Polytmm chrysobronchus (Shaw) 

1208 Crimson Topaz Topaza pella (Linn.) 

1404 Black-eared Fairy HeUothriv aurita (Gmel.) 

1412 Long-billed Star-throat Anthocenus superba (Shaw) 

1418 Pygmy Amethyst CaUiphlox amethystina (Gmel.) 

1 138 Guiana Coquette Lophornis pavoninus Salv. & Godm. 

TROGONES 

1458 Collared Trogon Trogon collaris Vieill. 

M()0 Black-throated Trogon T'rogon rnfm Gmel. 

Mfil Green 'I'rogon Trogon viridis Linn. 

1 170 Black-tailed Trogon Trogon melanurus Swains. 



BARTICA BIRDS 131 



COCCYCJKS 



1475 Dark-headed Cuekoo Cocri/zn.^ niiliicoii/iifuis \'icill. 

liSl Clicstiiut Cuckoo /'tdifd ra 1/(111(1 ciii/diKt (I. inn.) 

1189 Blaek-bellied Cuckoo I'iai/d mcUtiKxjdnter (X'iiill.) 

1 190 Little Rufous Cuckoo Fiai/a nitHa llliger. 

1191 Ruf'us-wiuged Cuckoo Neomorphus rufipeiinis (Gray) 

1 19(5* Hrowii Cuckoo Tapera naevia (Linn.) 

1 198 Peacock Cuckoo Dromococcyx pavoniiiKs Pel/.. 

1199 Common Ani Crotophaga ani Linn. 

1500 Cireat Ani ('roloplKn/d iiiajor Ciiiiel. 

SCANSOKES 

1508 Black-spotted Barbet ('apilo ukjc- (1*. I.. S. Miill.) 

1527 Red-billed Toucan Kamphostos monilia .\Iiill. 

1535 Sulphur-and-White- 

breasted Toucan Ramphaxtos vitellinus l-iclit. 

15ifS* Black-necked Aracari Pteruglossus tiracari uracuri (Linn.) 

1561 Green Aracari Pteroglossus vhidis (Linn.) 

1569 Guiana Toucanet Selenidera rulik (Wagler) 

PICIFOllMES 

1582 Paradise Jacamar Urogalba ilea (Linn.) 

1581 Common Jacamar Galbula galbula Linn. 

1592 ^^'llite-billed .Jacamar Galbula alblrostris alblrostris Lath. 

1597 Black-billed Jacamar Hrachi/gaiha lugubris (Swains.) 

1606 Golden Jacamar Jacamerops aurea (P. L. S. Mull.) 

1608 Collared Puffbird Burco capensis Linn. 

1609 Long-billed Puti'bird Bucro marrorhi/nchug Gmel. 

1615 Cayenne Puffbird Bucco tectus Bodd. 

1622 Cayenne Spotted V uEh'iv A Bur ro tamatia Gmel. 

1649 Black Puffbird Monasa niger (Miill.) 

1657 Swallow Puffbird Chelidopfera teiiebrosa tenebrosa (Pall.) 

1677 Yellow-throated Green 

Woodpecker Chloronerpes flavigula (Bodd.) 

1687* Swainson's Green Wood- 
pecker Chloronerpes rubiginogus (Swains.) 

1704 Red-fronted Woodpecker... 21/^ /r(/(«/7>(?.<( rubrlfrons (Spix.) 

1731 Cassin's Woodpecker VenUiornis cassini (Malh.) 

1746 Hellmayr's Woodpecker Celeits hellmayri Berlepsch. 

1747 Spix's Amazonian Wood- 

pecker Celeus jumana (Spix.) 

1757 Chestnut-winged Yellow 

Woodpecker Crocomorphus flavus (Miill.) 

1760 Red-necked Woodpecker.... Cawpopfti7(w rubricoUix (Bodd.) 

1762 Black and white Wood- 
pecker Campophilus melanoleucus (Gmel.) 



132 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 



1770 Lineated Woodpecker Ceaphloois lineatus (Linn.) 

179t* Seale-eared Pieulet Pivimintis' viinittitmimuD (Pall.) 

PASSEKTFOllIMES 
FORMICARIIDAE 

1852 Amazonian Ringed Gnat- 
eater Cori/tliaiLsia anthokles (Pvicher.) 

1851. Rufus-fronted Ani-caichtxCymbllaimns lineatus Uneatus (Leach) 

1861 Crested Bush-Shrike ThamnovMlus viridis Vieill. 

1889* Selater's Amazonian 

13ush-Shrike TlmmuophUas (imazonicvs Sclater. 

1908 White-barred Bush- 
Shrike Thamnophilus doliatus (Linn.) 

1941 Ashy-backed Buslibird D>is-!thnmnn.<i .spodionutiis Salv. & God. 

19i7* SLat'e-colored Buslibird Diisithamnus schistaceiis (d'Orb.) 

1952 Mouse-colored Bushbird Diisithamnus murinus Scl. & Salv. 

1954 Saturnine Buslibird Dysithamuns anJesiacs saturninus Pelz. 

1959 Cinereous Buslibird Tluimnomanes caesiits glaucus Cab. 

1961 Pygmy Antbird Myrmotherula pygmea (Gmel.) 

1967 Riifus-bellied Antbird Myrmotherula guttata Vieill. 

1969 Brown-bellied Antbird Myrmopagis gutturalis (Scl. & Salv.) 

1982 White-flanked Antwren Myrmopai/ls axillaris axillaris (Vieill.) 

1988 Long-winged Antbird Myrmotherula longipennis Pelz. 

1993 Grey-breasted Antbird Myrmotherula cinereiventris Scl. & Salv. 

2000 Spotted-tailed Antbird llerpsilochmus sticiurus Salvin. 

2032* Pied Antwren Bhoporchilus torquata (Wied.) 

2039 Ash-vented Antwren Teremira spodioptila Scl. & Salv. 

2045 White-bellied Antwren Bhamphncaenus albiventris Sclater. 

2050 Grey Ant-AVren Cercomnrra cinerascens (Sclater.) 

2053 Bogota Antwren Cercomacra tyrannina Sclater. 

2068 White-fronted Antcatcher.Pii/i?/s albifrons (Linn.) 

2074 Rufous-fronted Ant- 
catcher Anoplops rufigula rufigula (Bodd.) 

2098 S]iotwinged Antcreeper Srlateria leucostigma (Pelz.) 

2109 Cayenne Antcreeper Myrmoderas ferruginea (P. L. S. Mull.) 

2120 Warbling Antcreeper Hyponiemis cantator cantator (Bodd.) 

2125 Spotted-backed Ant- 
creeper Hylophlax poecilonota poecilonota Cab. 

2130 Schomburgk's Antcreeper Hypociiemis leucophrys angustirostris Cab. 

2139 Black-chinned Antcreeper Hypocnemis melanopogon Sclater. 

2142 Spotbacked Antcreeper Hi/pocnemis naevia (GmeL) 

2152a Woodcock Antbird Rhopoterpe torquata torquata Bodd. 

2155 Black-faced Ant-thrush Formicarius colma colma (Bodd.) 

2202 Little Ant-thrush Grallaria brevicauda (Bodd.) 

2209 Spotted-breasted Ant- 
thrush GraUarin macularia (Tenim.) 



JiARTICA 15IRDS 133 

7) ENDii U C LA PTI 1 ). I K 

2.'}21 (iuiaiia Spiiictail Si/n(tlla.vi.s (juiunenniA- t/uUiuiii.sl.s (Ginel.) 

2332 Yellow-throated Spinetail Si/nalki.vis cinnamomea (Ginel.) 

2 til Pelzeln's Automolus Automolus turdiims (I'elz.) 

2117* Olive-baeked AutoTUolns I utomoltis infusraiiis Sclatcr. 

2 lis Olive-eapped Automolus AutomoluK cervU-alis Sclater. 

2 IGl Cinnamon-rumpcd 

Pliilydor Phili/dor jii/rrhodex (Cal).) 

2 171 Dusky-vented Pliilydor Phili/dor ert/throcercvs (Pel/,.) 

2 181) iJrowu-tailed Xenops Xenops gcnibarhis (/ciiiharhiti III. 

2197 Blaek-tailed Leaf.seraper.....Sr7f}-«rHs caudacutus (Vieill.) 
2.)05* Lesser Black-tailed Leaf- 
scraper Scleruriis riifigidaris Pelz. 

2516 Little Wedge-billed 

Woodhewer Ghjphorlu/nilins rHiiedliin cuneatus (Liclil.) 

2.520 Vieillot's Woodhewer Dendocincla fuUginoxa (Vieill.) 

2527 Red-vented Woodhewer Dendrocincla merula (Licht.) 

2531 Long-tailed Creeper Deconychnrn longlcauda (Pelz.) 

2539* Spotted Woodhewer Xiphorhynchus gutUitokles (Lafr.] 

2517 Chestnut-rumped Wood- 

hewer Xiphorhj/nrhus pardalotus (Vieill.) 

251S Spotted Woodhewer Xiphorhi/urhus jwlystictiis Salv. & God. 

2559 Picine Woodhewer Dendroplex picus picus (Gmel.) 

2591 Fulvous-throated Wood- 
hewer Picolapfes alhoUneatus (Lafr.) 

2605 Guiana Curve-billed Wood 

hewer Campylorhamphus trochilirostris procur- 

voides (I.,afr.) 

2617 Black-banded Wood- 
hewer Dendrocoloptes plaqosus Sal. & God. 

2621 Buffon's Barred Wood- 
hewer Dendrocoloptes certhia (Bodd.) 

TYRANNIDAE 

2686 White-shouldered Water- 
Tyrant -..Fluvcoln pica (Bodd.) 

2690 White-headed Marsh- 

Tj'rant Arundinicola leucocephnla (Linn.) 

2743 Grey-headed Flatbill Platyrhynchns- griseiceps griseiceps Salv. 

2752 Golden-crowned I'latbill piat.yrhynchus coronntus coronatus Scl. 

2759 Pelzeln's Hatbill Bhynchocyclus sulphurescens ossiwilis Pelz. 

2771 Rufous-tailed Flatbill Rum phot rig on ruficauda (Spix.) 

2773 Grey Tody Flycatcher Todirostrum cinereum cinereum (Linn.) 

278 1 Spotted Tody Flycatcher... Y'of/Jro.s^-Hm maculatiim Desinarest 
283 t Helmeted Pygmy Tyrant ..C'o/op^e)7/.c galeatus (Bodd.) 



134 TROPICAI, WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

2892 Oily Flycatcher Mionectes oleagineus ohagineus (Liclit.) 

2910 Grey-headed P'lycatcher PhiiUomijUis griseiceps (Scl. & Sal.) 

2918 Mouse-colored Y\\i;;\\.c\\eT..Phueonujias murina incomta (Cah. & Heiii.) 

2921 Hartlaub's Flycatclier Oniithion inerme Hartl. 

2927 Latham's Flycatcher Tyrannulus elatus (Lath.) 

2935 Guiana Tyrantlet Tyranniscus acer. (Salv. & God.) 

2938 Yellow-vented Flycntcher-Elaenia flavogaster (Tlumlifrg.) 
2961* Berlepsch's Crested Fly- 
catcher Elaenia guianensis Berlepsch. 

296t Golden-crowned Fly- 
catcher Elaenia flavivertex Sclater. 

2977 Little White-necked Fly- 
catcher Legatus albicollis (Vieill.) 

2981 Small-billed Kiskadee Myiozetetes cayennensis cayennensis (Linn.) 

298f) Sulphury Flycatcher Myiozetetes snJphureus (Spix.) 

2992 Guiana Kiskadee Pitangus sulphnratus xulphiiratus (Linn.) 

2996 Lesser Kiskadee Pitangus Victor (Licht.) 

3002 Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus maculatus (Miill.) 

3001 Solitary Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus solitai-ius (Vieill.) 

3017 \Miiskered Flycatcher Myiobius barbatus barbatus (Gmel.) 

3025 Red-tailed Flycatcher Myiobius erythrurus erythrurus Cab. 

30 iO Little Brown Flycatcher.. ..Mt/io6iies fasciatus fasciatus (Miill.) 
3050* Leotaud's Dusky Fly- 
catcher Empidochnnes fuscatus calxmisi, Leot. 

3085 Fierce Flycatcher Myiarchus ferox (Gmel.) 

3098 Varied Streaked Fly- 
catcher Empidonomus vnrius I'arius (Vieill.) 

3103 White-throated Kinghird-.Tyranmis nielancholicus satrapa Cab & Hein. 
3107 Fork-tailed Flycatcher Musoivora tyrannus (Linn.) 

PIPRIDAE 

3111 Orange-headed Manakin Pipra aureola aureola (Linn.) 

3116 Golden-headed .Manakin Pipra erythrocephala erythrocephahi(IAnn.) 

3120 White-Crowned Black 

Manakin Pipra leurocilla UiirociUa I.inn. 

3132 Yellow-bellied Manakin Pipra suavissimn Salv. & God. 

3136 Green Pygmy Manakin Pipra virescens Pelz. 

3152 Green Manakin Piprites chlorion (Cab.) 

3169 White-throated Manakin. ..C'oropjpo gutturalis (Linn.) 

3171 Crackling ^Manakin Chiromachaeris manacus jnamtcus (Linn.) 

SlSi Ridgway's Manakin Scntothorus turdinus olivaceus Ridpv. 

COTINGIDAE 

3200 Black-tailed Tityra Tityra cayana (Linn.) 

3214 Little Psaris Platypsaris minor (Lesson.) 



BARTICA BIRDS 135 

3232 Black-capped Thickbill I'ltcliiirhnmphm titricapilliiii .Mi-rrciii. 

3238 Goldbird Lathria cinerea cinerea (Vieill.) 

3213 Red-breasted Mourner Laniocera hiipopyrrha (Vieill.) 

321'6 (Ircvisli Mourner Liixtnt/uti ttiviplex (Licht.) 

3251 Schonibur<rk's Attila ttlila brasiliennis Lesson 

3253 Cayenne Attila Attila spadicetis (Gmel.) 

32G7 Red Chatterer Phoenicocircus carnifex (I. inn.) 

325)1 Pur))lc-brcasted Cliattcrer/Vy^";(»/ff rotingn (Linn.) 

32!)3 Caycinie Chatterer Vollnc/a cayana (Linn.) 

3297 Pom))adour Chatterer Xipholena punicea (Pallas.) 

3307 Dusky Chatterer Idopleura fused (\'icill.) 

3310 Purple Fruit-crow Qiicnila purpurnta (Miill.) 

3317 Calfbird Valvifrons calvus (Gmel.) 

3318 Bare-necked Cotinga Gymnoderus foetidus (Linn.) 

3319 Bellbird Casmorhynchos niveus (Bodd.) 

IlIin'NDINIDAE 

3326* Bank S^'allow Biparia riparia (Linn.) 

3327 \^ariegated Swallow Tnrhycinetn nlbiventris (Bodd.) 

3331 Barn Swallow Tlirundo erythrogaster Bodd. 

3332 Purple ^Lartin Proc/ne nubis subi.i (l.iiin.) 

3335 Grey-breasted ]\Iartin Procine chalybea chalybea (Gmel.) 

3336 Brown Martin Prcxjne tnpera tapera (Linn.) 

3337 White-banded Swallow Atticora fasckita (Gmel.) 

331'2 Half-belted Swallow Atticora cyanoleuca (A'icill.) 

TROGLODYTIDAE 

3H5 British Guiana \A^ren Thryothorus griseigula (Lawr.) 

S-llS Guiana House Wren Troglodytes musculus cUirun Berl. & Hart. 

StlO Schomburgk's House 

Wren Troglodytes rufulits Cab. 

3455 Black-capped AVren flenicorhina leucosticta leucosticta (Cab.) 

3162 Quadrille-bird Leucolepin vitisicn mnsim (Bodd.) 

3469 White-banded Wren Microcerculus bambla (Bodd.) 

TURDIDAE 

3519 White-throated Thrush Planistictis phaeopygtis phaeoj)ygus (Cab.) 

3536 Sabian Thrush Planisticus fumigntus (Licht.) 

3538 Common Thrush Plnnisiirus nUnventer (Spix.) 

3551 Grey-cheeked Thrush Hylocichia aliciae (Baird.) 

riREONIDAE 

3562 Moustached Vireo Vireo calidris (I-inn.) 

3565 Chivi Vireo Vireo chii-i (Vieill.) 



13(5 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN RRTTTSH GUIANA 



3571 Grey-bellied Woodbird Pachysylvia griseiventris (Berl. & Hart.) 

3574 Guiana Woodbird Pachi/sylvia muscicapina (Scl. & Salv.) 

3589 Orange-fronted Woodbird. Pac/ii/«^/via luteifrons (Sclater.) 

3597 Bonaparte's Vireo Vireolnnins chlorogaster Bonap. 

MNIOTILTIDAE 

3620 Yellow Warbler Dendroecn aesfiva aestiva (Gmel.) 

3637 Small-billed Waterthrush-.»Seu<rMs noveboracensis (Gmel.) 

FRINGILLIDAE 

3714 Brazilian Blue-Grosbeak. ...C^anocompsa cyanea (Linn.) 
3719 Brown-breasted 

Pygmy Grosbeak Oryzoborus angolensis breviro.tfris Berl. 

3722 Thick-billed 

Pygmy Grosbeak Oryzoborus crassirostris crassirostris 

(Gmel.) 
3743 Chestnut-bellied SeedeaterSporophila rastaneiventris Cab. 

3745 Pygmy Seedeater Sporophila minuta minuta (Linn.) 

3769 Lined Seedeater Sporophila lineola (Linn.) 

3770* Black-headed Seedeater Sporophila bouvronides (Les.s.) 

3790 Glossy Grassquit Volatinia jacarina splendens (Vieill.) 

3796 White-throated Kernal- 

eater PityhiK grossus (Linn.) 

3798 Scarlet Kernal-eater Pitylus erythromelas (Gmel.) 

3799 Olive Kernal-eater Pitylus canadensis ca7iadensis (Linn.) 

3803 Great Saltator Saltator maximus maximus (Miill.) 

3941 Red-crested Finch Coryphospingus cucuUatns (Miill.) 

3952 Black-throated Cardinal Paroaria gularis (Linn.) 

3957 Pectoral Sparrow Arremon silens (Bodd.) 

COEREBIDAE 

4021 Guiana Bananaquit Coereba guianensis guiane7isis (Cab.) 

4061 Turquoise Honey-Creeper..Z)arnis cayana cayana (Linn.) 
4067 Black-backed Honey- 
Creeper Dacnis angelica Bonap. 

4077 Blue Honey-Creeper Cyanerpes cyaneus cyanevs (Linn.) 

4080 Purple Honey-Creeper Cyaerpes caer ulcus caeruleus (Linn.) 

4085 Green Honey-Creeper Chlorophanes spiza spiza (Linn.) 

TANAGRIDAE 

4119 White-vented Ruphonia Tanagrn olivacea olivacea De.sm. 

4122 \'iolaeeus Kuphonia Tanayra violacea (Linn.) 

4133 Cayenne Kuphonia Tanayra cayennensis (Gmel.) 



BARTICA lURDS 



i:j7 



4136 Plumbeus Kuphonia Tanagra phimbea (Du Bus.) 

4165 Spotted Tanager Tangara punctata (Linn.) 

4188 Chcstmit-lieaded T anagcr Tangara gyrola (Linn.) 

4197 Yt'llow-hfllied Tanager Tangara mexicana mexirana (Sclater.) 

4138 Blue-bellied Tanager Tanagrella velia (Linn.) 

4270 Blue Tanager Thraupis episcopvs episcopus (Linn.) 

4280* Eastern Palm Tanager Thraupis pahnarum pahnariitti Wied. 

4297 Silver-beaked Tanager liamphocelus carbo carbo (Pall.) 

4329 Blaek-headed Toothed 

Tanager Lanio atricapillus (Gmel.) 

4333 Blaek Tanager Tachgphoniis rufus (Bodd.) 

4334 Les.ser White-shouldered 

Tanager Tachyphonus luctuosus d'Orb. & Lafr. 

4339 Fulvous-crested T anager. ..Tarhj/phonus surinamus surinamus (I. inn.) 

4342 Golden-crested Tanager Tachyphonus crlstatus intercedens Hcrl. 

4429 Black-and-white Shining 

Tanager Lamprospiza melanoleuca (Vieill.) 

4432 Magpie Tanager Cissopis leveriana (Gmel.) 

ICTERIDAE 

4445 Great Black Cacique Ostinops decumanus decumanus (Pall.) 

4446 Great Green Cacique Ostinops viridis (Mull.) 

4454 Yellow-backed Cacique Cacicus cela cela (Linn.) 

4460 Red-rumped Cacique Cacicus haemorrhoas haemorrhous (Linn.) 

4466 Rice-grackle Cassidix oryzivora oryzivora (Gmel.) 

4474 Glossy Cowbird Molothrus atronitens Cab. 

4488 Red-breasted Blackbird Leistes militaris (Linn.) 

4512 ISIoriche Oriole Icterus chrysocephalus (Linn.) 

4516 Black-throated yellow 

Oriole Icterus xanthornus xanthornus (Gmel.) 

4530 Little Boat-tailed Crackle Iloloqnisralus Inguhris (Swains.) 

CORVIDAE 

4540 Lavender Jay Cyanocorax cayanus (Linn.) 



CHAPTER IX 

AKAWAI INDIAN AND COLONIAL NAMES OF BIRDS AND 
MAMMALS OF BAETICA. 

As Akawai is the common vernacular in use among In- 
dian hunters and those who have no knowledge of English, 
it is important to be able to identify, with as much exactness 
as possible, the names in the two languages. I obtained the 
words and pronunciation from the most intelligent men I 
could find, and then tried them on other Indians without 
warning, getting in every case the instantaneous reaction and 
recognition which is proof of their correctness. My angli- 
cization has been with the sole idea of ease of repetition and 
pronunciation, with no attempt at correct linguistic voweling 
or phrasing. The shortcomings of the English tongue often 
compelled awkward syllabication. The / and the r of the 
Akawai pronunciation are in many cases very difficult to dis- 
tinguish, and sometimes seem quite interchangeable. Unless 
otherwise marked, the as are as in father. The r is almost 
invariably rolled. 

AKAWAI NAMES OF BIRDS 

Guiana Great Tinamou maru 

Pileated Tinamou orri'-orri' 

Variegated Tinamou siilima 

Crested Curassow poweet 

Greater Blue Guan okia 

Lesser Olive Guan 5 ^^^^^''^^^^ 

(palaka^ yowyan 

Wliite-erested Guan kuyou 

Little Cliaehalaea camalliewa 

Guiana Partridge , coolweet 

Splendid Pigeon hurrutwema 

Mountain Dove warramee 

(i round Dove hellwoe 

Cayenne Wood Rail goatsala 



INDIAN AND COLONIAL NAMES 139 

White-necked Crake soroit'cho 

Finfoot wow wing' 

Great-billed Tern wanawanalee 

Esquimo Curlew alaka' 

All Sandpipers mateeweetee 

Common Jacana parraweek' 

Sun-bittern maler 

Grey-winged Trumpeter yacamee 

Guiana Ibis ko'rdk-ko'rok 

Scarlet Ibis youmaree' 

Snowy Egret analao' (= white) 

I>ittle Blue Heron caraow 

Guiana Green Heron onoray' 

Boatbilled Heron why 'a 

Muscovy Duck mike-quack 

King Vulture hangwan'na 

Yellow-headed Vulture coolung' 

Red-throated Caracara kiaou'-kiaou' 

Chiniachima mow-wat 

Guiana Black Hawk purraleek'a 

White-collared Hawk wooktaut'a 

Harpy Eagle welumi'ma 

I-aughing Falcon peeung 

Swallow-tailed Kite kumalak' 

Spectacled Owl wook-naa 

Scarlet Macaw kalala'wa 

Green- winged ^lacaw whA'a'la 

Yellow and Blue ]\Iacaw tao'wa-tao'wa 

Yellow Parrot ciiyiik'say 

Mealy Amazon Parrot soro'ma 

Blue-fronted Amazon koSraywaklee' 

Yellow-headed Amazon palawa 

Short-tailed Parrot woero'-wfiv 

Blue-headed Parrot kooleek'-why 

Dusky Parrot sallie-sallie 

Hawk-headed Parrot anakee'ok 

Scopoli's Parrakeet malang' 

Black-headed Cacique paleeke'a 

Great Green Kingfisher gutoorang 

Little Green Kingfisher saki'ka 

Pygmy Rufous Kingfisher moropleek'a 

Guiana Motmot mutook 

Giant Goatsucker ; Poor-me-one.....halawo8 
White-necked Nighthawk ; 

Who-are-you tocoyow 

Dusky Nighthawk taowaroo 



140 TROPICAT, WTI.T) TJFK IN BRITISH GUIANA 

White-banded Swift cowchick 

Short-tailed Swift and related 

species camaria 

Cayenne Hermit whyawhya 

Red-vented Hermit marumaru 

Broadshafted Sabrewing tapeeyiit 

Great Jacobin laymcet 

Green Trogon ooriikooa 

Black-tailed Trogon anakdk 

Dark-headed Cuckoo macheecutteretree' 

Greater Cliestnut Cuckoo apeek'-wa 

Little Chestnut Cuckoo cheeleek'a 

Groove-billed Ani woenoie 

Great Ani wooemeek 

Toco Toucan kiiru 

Red-billed Toucan kya'bok 

Sulphur-breasted Toucan kriima 

Black-necked Aracari katchsing' 

Green Aracari palaflek 

Guiana Toucanet kama'ta 

Paradise Jacamar kwei'ma 

Common Jacamar koomalawatomba 

Golden Jacamar wanekpii 

Collared Puffbird salerok-werka 

Long-billed Puffbird / towl-towi 

Cayenne Spotted Puffbird*)'" 

Black Puffbird wilyot-pechoro 

Swallow Puffbird whydaymala 

Little Black Woodpecker saba'letek 

Spix's Amazonian Woodpecker waroko 

Red-necked W^oodpecker kipa'rak 

Lineated Woodpecker wak6w''-a 

Cayenne Antcreeper matellilii 

(No name for antbirds) 

Little Wedge-billed Woodhewer. ...ilyatchekong 

Long-billed Woodhewer tschecoit-tschecoit 

Guiana Curve-billed Woodhewer... yiwok 

Lesser Kiskadee beekloroit 

Guiana Kiskadee meeatobick 

White-throated Kingbird beekleabeek 

Fork-tailed Flycatcher cocky ock 

White-bellied Sharp-bill ache'lii 

Orange-headed Manakin walook'ye 

White-crowned Black IManakin paymoke 

Crackling ISfaTiakin cockkobiie 

Black-tailed Tilyra qua'kike 



INDIAN AND COLONIAL NAMES 141 



Gold bird plpicho 

lit'd Chatterer tar ana' 

Purpk'-hreasted Chatterer t.ih'ka 

Cayenne Chatterer wa'iia 

Cock-of-the-Kock kow-wona'ru 

Pompadour Cliatterer pakok 

J'ur])I(' rruit-crow pa'\v<'k 



Calfbird otarwa 

Bellhird parang'tara 

\'ariegated Swallow kataquack 

Grev-breasted Martin.) , , -,- 

White-banded Swallow ( whyeholo 

Guiana House Wren kamaraehick'-koro 

Quadrille-bird rfu'r-tong 

Scarlet Kernal-eater 6nnonlowoii-])epa 

Olive Kernal-eater teru'peou 

Black-tiiroated Cardinal palesalambo 

Pectoral Sparrow pasu^ka 

Guiana Flower-pecker kamarangchick 

Turquoise Honey-creeper napwe' 

Blue Honey-creeper liiee' 

Purple Honey-creeper paruwhy'ok 

Green Hone3'-creeper tatock'say 

Violaceous Euphonia rameek 

Western Paradise Tanager tacube 

Blue Tanager hawalayakii 

Palm Tanager sakwe 

Silver-beaked Tanager paliike'a 

Fulvous-crested Tanager kritschalaou 

Black-and-White shining 

Tanager waykoko 

Magpie Tanager quale'pia 

Great Black Cacique kopa'w^a 

Great Green Cacique keenotolee 

Yellow-backed Cacique saylay-wa 

Red-rumj^ed Cacique 'tsakow 

Rice-grackle onoi 

Glossy Cowbird kosoleka 

Red-breasted Blackbird carakpischiiway 

Moriche Oriole waiour'a 

Black-throated Oriole moromd'-ta 

Lavender Jay katool'ka 

AKAWAI NAMES OF MAM.MALS 

Common Large Opossum yawa'rrie 

^lurine Opossum salkow 



142 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

Great Anteater walee'cheema 

Tamandua oh-youa 

Little Anteater 

Two-toed Sloth _ qualang 

Three-toed Sloth nupi 

Giant Armadillo mow-oori-ma 

Peba kikong 

Little Armadillo mii ru ! 

Tapir maipurie 

Black Peccary pi-inka 

White-lipped Peccary pakeela 

Small Brown Deer karriouku 

Large Red Deer kusali 

Manatee 

Porpoise sotsotqueea 

Jaguar kikuschee 

Puma saliwarra 

Jaguarondi walwan'na 

Ocelot marakiya 

Crab Dog 

Crab-eating Raccoon rootiiroo 

Kinkajou walee 

Red Coati ewoo'noto' 

Black Coati quashi 

Hacka arri-wok 

Guiana Squirrel kale 

Mice and Rats moomba 

Otter mapa'lwa 

Capybara pariiana 

Paca oorana 

Agouti accu 

Pygmy Tailed Agouti accviswhy . 

Guiana Tree Porcupine arrii 

Vampire and small bats mariipack' 

Fruit Bat attoowow-wong 

Squirrel Monkey sackawinki 

Capuchin ]\Ionkey walka 

Beesa Monkey yareek'ee 

Red Howler arau'ta 



XATIVE GUIAXA NAMES OF BIRDS AND MAMMALS. 

Most of the following names I have taken from my 
former volume on British Guiana, together with a few ad- 
ditions made on the present trip. A list like this is often 



INDIAN AND COLONIAL NAAIKS 1 l.;j 

of the utmost importance in learning of the identity or 
haunts of certain birds and animals from the natives other 
than red Indians: 

COLONIAL NAMES OF BIRDS 

(iiii.iiia Great Tinamou Maam 

Small Tinamous Little Maam 

Curassow I'owis 

Guan Maroodi 

Guiana Partridge Duraquara 

Chaelialaca HaiUKiua 

Hoatzin ("aiije Plu asaiit 

Stinking Anna 

Sea-corner Anna 

Van Battenburg's Turkey 

Purple (lalliiuile Coot 

Guiana Wood Kail Killicow 

Bush Fowl 

Spur-winged Jacana Spur-wing 

Skimmer Soissor-bill 

Sun-bittern Sun-bird 

Trumpeter Warracabra 

Scarlet Ibis Curri-eurri 

Jabiru Negrokop 

Wood Ibis Nigger-head 

Tiger Bittern Tiger-bird 

Herons Chow 

Shypook 
Cocoi Heron Crane 

Hanora 

Horned Screamer Mohuca 

Grej'-necked Tree-duck Vicissi 

Snakebird Ducklar 

Darter 

Black Vulture Carrion Crow 

Orange-headed Vulture Governor Carrion Crow 

Red-throated Caracara Bush Carrion Crow 

Chimachima Hawk Hen Hawk 

Owls Night Owl 

Hawk-headed Parrot Hya-hya Parrot 

Spectrum Parrakeet Kissi-kissi 

Motmot Hutu 

Houtouli 

Great Green Kingfisher Saxacalli 

Little Green Kingfisher Bottom Ridge 

Goatsuckers and Nighthawks Jumby Birds 



lU TROPICAL WILD LILL IN BRITISH GUIANA 

Hummingbirds Doctor Birds 

Pour- winged Cuckoo Wife-sick 

Great Ani Jumby Bird 

Smooth-Billed Ani Old Witch 

Toucan Bill-bird 

Checkered Antbird Dominique or Chcc-k-bird 

Cinnamon Spinetail Rootic 

Pom{)ad()ur Cotinga Wallababa 

Bellbird Campanero 

Goldbird Greenheart-bird 

Pipi-vo 

Cinereus Becard Woodpecker 

Wliite-shouldered Ground Fly- 
catcher Cotton-bird 

Southern Scissor-tailed Scissor-tail 

Guiana Kiskadee Kiskadee 

White-throated Kingbird Madeira or Grey Kiskadee 

Kiskos 
White-headed Marsh Flycatcher... Parson bird 

male, Maharaj 

female, Maharanee 

Cinereus Tody-flycatcher Pipitoorie 

Yellow-breasted Eleania 

Flycatcher Muff-bird 

Muffin 
Guiana House W^ren God-bird 

Guard-bird 

Necklaced Jungle Wren Quadrille Bird 

White-throated Thrush Thrush 

Yellow Warbler Bastard Canary 

Thick-billed Pygmy Grosbeak Twa-twa 

Brown-breasted Pygmy Grosbeak Toua-toua 

Twa-twa Slave 

Blue-backed Seedeater Blueback 

Pygmy Seedeater Fire-red 

Red Belly 

Grassbird 

Stripe-headed Seedeater Crown-head 

Plain-headed Seedeater Plain-head 

Lineated Seedeater Ring-neck 

Pee-zing Grassquit Pee-zing 

Zero 

Black-throated Cardinal Wakenaam Sparrow 

Honcy-creei)ers Hummingbirds 

Yellow-bellied Calliste Goldfinch 

Black- faced Calliste Bucktown Sackie 



INDIAN AND COLONIAL NAMES 145 

\'i()l,i((iis I-'uplionia IJiicktowii Canary 

Ycll()\v-l)flly Canary 

Jumby Canary 

Blue Taiiai-rr Blue Saekie 

Palm 'I'aiiairer Palm Saekie 

Cocoaiiut Saekie 

Silver-l)eak 'I'aiiager Cashew Saekie 

\\lute-lined Tan.ager Blaek-sage Saekie 

Olive Saltator Tom-piteher 

Little Boat-tailed Graekle Blaekbird 

Guiana Cowbird Corn-bird 

Lazy-bird 

Blaek Parnsitie Caeique Rice-bird 

Yellow- l)ackfd Caeique Yellow Bunyah 

Yellow-baeked >\Ioekiiigl)ird 
Red-baeked Caeique Red Bunyah 

Red-backed Mockingbird 
Little Yellow-headed Bl.iekbird Yellow-head 

Reedbird 

Moriehe Oriole Cadoorie 

Yellow Oriole Yellow Plantain Bird 

Guiana Meadowlark Savannah Starling 

COLONIAL NAMES OF MAMMALS 

Red Howlinij Monkev^ Red Baboon 

Baboon 

Spider Monkey Quata 

Ring-tailed Monkey Capuchin 

Squirrel Monkey Sackiwinki 

White-headed Saki 

Red-bellied Saki Grey Hurua 

Beesa Monkej' White-faced Hurua 

Vampire Colony Doctor 

Doctor Blair 

Paea Labba 

Agouti Accourie 

Pygmy Tailed Agouti Adourie 

Capybara Waterhaas 

Waterhare 

Jaguar Tiger 

Blaek Jaguar Blaek Tiger 

Black Jaguar 

Maipurie Tiger 

Puma Deer Tiger 

Jaguarondi Hacka Tiger 

Evra Wild Cat 



1J,6 TKOriCAL WILD LIVE IN 13IUTISH GLIANA 

Ocelot Tigtr Cat 

Labba Tiger 

Margav 
Wild Hunting-dog Warracabra Tiger 

Bush-dogs 
Jungle Jackal Rough Fox 

Crab-dog 

Crab-eating Raccoon Crab-dog 

Black and Red Coatis Kibihee 

Quashi 

Coati 
Kinkajou Potto 

Night Monkey 

Orison Grison 

Galictis Hacka 

Otter Water Dog 

Tapir Maipurie 

Bush Cow 

Collared Peccary Bush Hog 

Black Bush Hog 

Abouj'ah 
White-lipped Peccary Bush Hog 

Kairuni 

Jungle Deer Wellibicirie 

Savanna Deer Deer 

R ed Deer Deer 

Manatee Water Cow 

Sea Cow 

Water Mama 

Quemow 

Dolphin Porpoise 

Three-toed Slotli Grev Sloth 

Ai ' 
Two-toed Sloth Brown Sloth 

TJnau 
Small and Medium Armadillos Yesi 

Tayouay 

Peba Yesi 

Great Anteater Ant-bear 

Tamanoir 

Baraim 
Common Opossum Yawarri 

Crab-eating Yawarri 
White- faced Opossum Quica 



CHArTKK X 



METHODS OF RESEARCH 



To settle down in a strange country and to study suc- 
cessfully the wild creatures which inlia})it it, demands a few 
of the elements of real warfare, comhined, however, with a 
large percentage of luck, the chances of a ganil)le. Hut this 
last comprises, after all, much of the formula of all organic 
research, the factor whicli imbues it with the peculiar fas- 
cination absent from more mathematically precise phases of 
work. 

With steel traps, guns and cartridges, nets and seines, 
there is no difficulty in accumulating a host of dead and 
captive specimens, but this any professional collector could 
do, and do better, than we. We had to contend with the 
problems concerned in discovering, watching and finally, if 
necessary, securing dead or alive, certain definite species or 
groups of organisms. And this was a very different matter, 
and of all places difficult here in the tropics, where a single 
glimpse of a certain species might be all that was vouch- 
safed for many months. 

In studying any one group we found it necessary to 
work out correlated associations with other phases of life, 
or to watch meteorological conditions. Certain insects 
emerged only immediately after heavy afternoon rains. If 
we wished to find birds such as fork-tailed flycatchers during 
the molting season, w^e carried the sequence of events one 
link farther. After heavy rain we searched for a flight of 
termites in the open, and there we were certain to find the 
birds. To depend on indirect signs became almost second 
nature. 

Were we desirous of learning the alarm note of the 
white-fronted antcatcher? That spry little bird of the jun- 



14-8 TROPirAI. WILD T.TFK I\ liRTTTSH GUIANA 

^le uiulergrowtli with its erect halo of snow-white plumes 
could always be counted on in the van of an arniv of* driver 
ants. But to locate the ants themselves in tlie jungle was 
easy only after we had learned to listen for the mingled 

a. « "^ 

chirps of the smaller, more voluble species of antbirds which 
had adopted this easy method of securing a supply of insect 
food. 

We came with a supply of small mouse traps and larger 
steel ones, and, after we arrived, made box and figure-of-foiu- 
traps. But we had overlooked the fact that this was a world 
of hungry ants, and for a time our collector had poor suc- 
cess. For the most easily trapped mammal would hesitate 
at a delectable bait, when it was covered three deep with 
stinging ants. Then elaborate ant-proof contrivances were 
evolved, guarded by moats and slightly raised platforms and 
zones of sticky sap. But this brought the bait to the notice 
of stray vultures and after that we were kept busy releasing 
the yellow-headed scavengers which came down from the 
heart of the sky to the new-found manna. A study of ant 
diet revealed certain items for which they did not care, and 
these, chiefly vegetable, were successful, being inedible alike 
to ant and vulture. 

jNIice and rats of the jungle were exceedingly difficult 
to capture. Now and then while out on other work we 
caught glimpses of them, but they utterly refused to enter 
the most open trap, set with the most enticing bait. And I 
was disappointed in the showing of frogs and toads which 
I wanted to ship north alive. We could hear them at night, 
and their tadpoles were abundant in the creeks and pools, 
but a long evening's work with flash and net often yielded 
a bare half dozen, all perhaps of the same species. 

As was more than once the case, my ultimate success in 
these directions was due wholly to chance, and not at all to 
any careful planning or invention, 1 had a deep hole dug 
at the soutliern edge of Kalacoon compound, intending to 



METHODS OF RESEARCH 



149 




Photo by W. B. 
FIG. 35. JUNGLE PIT NO. 5 WHICH TRAPPED MANY MICE AND AMPHIBIANS. 

fill it with refuse. The day after the coolie workmen com- 
pleted their part I looked in and, to my surprise, saw two 
frogs of a species new to me, sitting and hlinking at one 
another, while on the opposite side of the bottom of the pit, 
a wild rat of a rich rufous color was vainly trvino- to conceal 
himself beneath a fallen leaf some three sizes too small. I 



150 TROPICAL WHO r.IFE TN BRITISH GUIANA 

had been uninveutive enough never to think of this phui. 
but at least I did not need a second hint and immediately 
I set my Indian boys to work, at what was doubtless sheer 
insanity to them, digging a line of pits along tlie convict 
trail which led southward, and several more in the jungle 
itself. After this, one of us always made a morning's round 
of pits, as the Canadian hunter visits his beaver and marten 
traps. Sometimes we made excellent haids which were all 
the more enjoyable because our booty was not mangled and 
half-dead, but alive and well. 

Huge beetles and thousand legs blundered into the pits, 
but we never found a snake or lizard in them. These seemed 
to feel their way too carefully to be entrapped in any such 
blatant fashion. Some of the pits were in clay, others in 
white sand; some caught every heavy rain and had to be 
provided with life rafts of small pieces of bark so the in- 
mates could keep themselves afloat. The sand pits were 
eaten away from above by the rains and required redigging 
every little while. Altogether it was an easy and exciting 
method of obtaining certain of the lesser ramblers of the 
night, of whom we otherwise should have learned nothing. 

To the nests of solitary wasps, whicli were one of our 
chiefest desires, there was little clue except by direct search. 
jNIany were found accidentally, and more by seeing the was]^ 
arrive with a load of mortar or a spider. It was tantalizing 
to watch an interesting species busily at work on the damp 
clay of one of our pits, making trip after trip to some fas- 
cinating cell, and yet to be unable to trace her more than a 
few yards as she sped swiftly through the maze of vines and 
leaves. The longest tramp in a distant part of the jungle 
might lesult in nothing, while on one's return, if the key 
had been removed from tlie microscope case on the table, a 
new species of wasp wouhl not impossibly be found enthu- 
siastically ])uilding in the lock! 



METHODS Ol RESEARCH 151 

Owing to the dullness of our senses and the unwieldi- 
ness of our bodies, to study successfully the small Folk of 
the jungle we had to resort to many artificial means, usually 
some method of causing them to assemble at a desired spot. 
We have seen how gravitation was used in the case of the 
pits. We also used scent, such as exposing the female of 
some insect in an open cage and waiting for males of the same 
species to come up wqnd. Or we placed dishes of j)artly dis- 
solved sugar made still more irresistil)le by the addition of 
a little gin, along the trails and seldom failed to find great 
blue morjDhos and other butterflies and bees drinking to re- 
pletion. A less pleasant but quite as effective method w^as 
to carry a jar of carrion to the jungle and there unstopper 
it, and the host which gathered could be numbered by the 
score of species. Or the body of a red howling monkey re- 
visited after several days, would furnish such varied speci- 
mens as king and yellow-headed vultures, rare and beautiful 
butterflies and giant-horned scarabs all in blue and copper 
mail. 

The sense of sight was resorted to by placing the wings 
of a metallic morpho in the band of one's helmet, as a miner 
carries his lighted lamp, when any of these wary butterflies 
within sight would usually deflect their flight and descend 
to w^ithin easy reach of the net. 

A third sense — that of hearing — was a fertile source of 
profit. The old, old trick of squeaking like a young bird in 
trouble w^as as effective in the tro])ics as elsewhere, more so 
perhaps, for it never failed to elicit some response from the 
smaller pugnacious people of the jungle. From an appar- 
ently deserted part of the forest I have summoned a noisy 
flock of many species, coming from nest or food. Even when 
they arrived within sight, they could not but continue to be- 
lieve that somewhere there was a friend in trouble and some 
of the smaller ones would come within a foot or two of my 
face. After a suspicious bird had given the alarm and all 



152 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

liad scattered, a wait of ten minutes would restore perfect 
confidence in the deceit. 

Much more interesting tlian any of these artificial meth- 
ods was to learn the secrets of the jungle and find some out- 
burst of blossoms or wholesale ripening of a treeful of fruit 
or berries, or the maturing of a harvest of nuts on some for- 
est giant. For these were magnets which drew creatures, of- 
ten in hundreds, from miles in everv direction. A blind built 
in such a place was well worth occupancy for many hours. 
Favorite roosting trees were another source of observation 
and of netting the birds, which lost much of their fear of man 
as twilight approached. Finally, and most delightful of all, 
it was a joy to find an occupied nest, such as that of some 
little jungle manakin, low down in an accessible spot. With 
this as a localized lure, a magnet which for a time bound two 
birds to a single spot in space, one merged oneself as much 
as might be into the surroundings and keenly watched all 
the matters of home life which were vouchsafed to the mere 
outsider. 

Only when we encountered such singidar creatures as 
the hoatzins, which, to their peculiar physical and hereditary 
interests add a static mode of life and habitat which is almost 
vegetative, do we appreciate the difficulties of finding and 
keeping under continual observation other more active or- 
ganisms — cursorial or volant. 

A colony of vampires had long been in possession of a 
liollow iiuder the roof of Kalacoon, We left them undis- 
turbed for we desired to w^atch them and learn something of 
their liabits. Their wings swept our faces throughout the 
night, but they never molested us even when we ceased to 
kee]) the vampire lantern alight. We began our canipaign 
for securing young bats by the crude method of waiting with 
a 22-calibre rifle foi- them to alight on a favorite spot on the 
lofty rafters. This resulted in tlie indiscriminate killing of 
several, but left us still in complete ignorance as to the young. 



MKTHODS or RESEARCH 15:} 

A second plan was immediately successful and in quite a 
wliolesale way. In the late afternoon we suspended a liglit 
net from the outside eaves, so that it hung downward over the 
entrance to the "hattery." In an hour vampires })egan to 
fly out and become entagled in the meshes. One after the 
other we freed and examined them, liberating all but the 
very young ones. The net was later removed, the colony 
remained intact, and we had achieved our desires. 

These and scores of other tricks of the trade were 
learned by constant experience. At first all we could do was 
to walk silently through the underbrush or squat motioidess 
at the foot of some great tree in a likely looking spot. And 
even after years of jungle observation I still resort to these 
two methods again and again. They are the ones where pure 
luck enters in, and every carefully taken step is a gamble, 
every passing minute of waiting is filled with ex])ectancy. 
Silence and apparently lifeless surroundings may be the re- 
ward, or suddenly there may be perceived some new strange 
creature or some unimagined habit. It was while taking- 
shelter from the rain in a great hollow tree on the present 
expedition that I first saw a tinamou — one of the large spe- 
cies^ — mounting a slanting tree-trunk. And this was the final 
proof which was all I wanted to put the seal of certainty 
upon the careful investigation which I had undertaken. 

NOTE — Jungle pit No. ,5 (Fig. 35, i)age 149), was the scene of the won- 
derful ant battle whicli T have described elsewhere (Atlantic Monthly, April, 
191T, page 514.). 




Photo hii P. a. TT. 

FIG. 36. CANJE CREEK, SHOWING MUCKA-MUCKA AND BUNDURl PIMPLER, 

HOME OF THE HOATZIN. 



CHArTKl? XI 

FURTHER NOTES OF THE LIFE HISTORY OF IIOATZINS 

The hoatzin is a hii-tl of such iiiiusiial interest tliat when- 
ever my travels take me near its haunts I spend every possible 
moment in observing it. So thoroughly does it seem to em- 
body the spirit of past bird life on the earth that I have an 
idee jiiVe that if only I can watch it long enough, with suffi- 
cient keenness and controlled imagination, some significant 
hint of avian evolution is certain, sooner or later, to be re- 
vealed. JMore than anything of which I know, this strange 
l)ii-d is to me an inspiration to keep hoping and working for 
more light on this fascinating phase of terresti-ial evolution. 

I have already published in an early number of Zoo- 
logica my observations on the hoatzins of Venezuela and of 
Abary Creek, British Guiana. ^ 

During the present year I found it advisable to estab- 
lish our Tropical Research Station in the interior of the 
country, far from the haunts of the hoatzins. In spite of 
my utmost efforts I could get notliing but conflicting state- 
ments as to the nesting season. At last I decided to visit 
Berbice in the hope of accomplishing three distinct things; 
to photograph young hoatzins in the acts of climbing, walk- 
ing and swimming, to obtain material for a group of these 
birds for the American INIuseum and to attempt to bring 
living specimens north to the New York Zoological Park. 

On May 2.5, with Hartley and Howes, my two assist- 
ants, I took train at Georgetown and in four hours traversed 
the coastal front of British Guiana, ending our journey at 
N^ew Amsterdam on the Berbice Biver. Here, with head- 
quarters at the Government Colony House we remained for 
three days, making trips to various sugar plantations and up 

^ZooJoglra. I, Xo. 2, 1909, "Ecologj- of the Hoatzin," pp. 45-66. 



156 TROPICAT. WTT.D T.TFE IN BRITISH GL'IANA 

Canje Creek and the Eerbice. Then sen(hng my eonipan- 
ions baek to Kalacoon I remained a (hiy k)noer to attend to 
the packing of the group material and to coni])lete tlie pho- 
tography of the young birds. Tluuiks to tlie intelhgent sym- 
pathy and great assistance of Edgar 15eckett we were quickly 
oriented and able to make use of every moment of our time. 
In this brief visit I successfully achieved the first two objects 
which I had in mind. The third I was compelled to post- 
pone until another year. 

In addition to the observations I recorded seven and 
eight years ago, I succeeded during this last visit in noting 
certain new habits which help to round out the life history 
of these strange birds. 

These I have assembled in the following section, reserv- 
ing for a third the more general notes which I have chosen 
to present in much the same form as I wrote them in my 
journal in the field. The desultory character of the notes 
is due to the shortness of the time I was able to spend with 
the birds. Most of the observations are new and add to our 
general knowledge of these strange creatures, and to the 
material, which at some future time I shall assemble in mono- 
graphic form. 

The flight of the hoatzin resembles that of an overfed 
hen ; its voice is no more melodious than the cry of a peacock, 
and less sonorous than an alligator's roar. Its grace is ba- 
trachian rather than avian, while the odor of its body re- 
sembles that of no bird untouched by dissolution. Still the 
hoatzin remains the most remarkable and interesting bird 
living on the earth today. 

It has successfully defied time and space. For it, the 
dial of the ages has moved more slowly than for the rest of 
organic life, and although living and breathing with us to- 
day, yet its world is an affair of two dimensions — a line of 
thorny sa])lings threaded along the muddy banks of a few 
tropical waters. 



NOTKS ON IIOATZI.NS 



157 




*\ 'TmHlnfTi"' ' If"""' ■>•'*• AT ■}: iuKi j 

Photo ly W. B. 

FIG. 37. MUCKA-MUCKA, CHARACTERISTIC GROWTH OF THE 
HOATZINS' HAUNTS. 



A bird in a cage cannot escaj^e and may be found month 
after month wherever the cage is placed; a stuffed bird in 
a case may resist dissohition for a century. But when we 
go to look for the bluebirds which nest in the orchard they 
may have flown a half-mile away in their search for food; 
the plover which scurries before us today on the beach may 
tonight be far away on the first lap of his seven-thousand- 
mile flight to the southward. The hoatzin's status lies ra- 
ther with the caged bird. In November, in New York City, 
an Englishman from British Guiana said to me, "Go to the 
Berbice River, and at the north end of the town of New^ 
Amsterdam in front of JNIr. Beckett's house you will find 
hoatzins." Six months later, as I drove along a tropical river 
road I saw^ three hoatzins perched on a low thorn bush at the 



158 TROPICAL WILD LU'K I\ BIUTLSil GLLVNA 

river's edoe in front of a house. And the river was the Ber- 
biee, and the house that of 3Ir. Beckett. 

Thus are the hoatzins independent of space as all other 
flying birds know it, and in their classic reptilian afhnities, 
voice, actions, arms, fingers, liabits, they bring close the dim 
epochs of past time and renew for our inspection, the youth 
of bird life on the earth. It is discouraging even to attempt 
to translate facts of such tremendous import, habits fraught 
with so profound a significance into words, or to make them 
realistic even with the aid of photographs. 

We took a boat opposite Beckett's house and paddled 
slowlv with the nearly flood tide up the Berbice River. It 
was two o'clock, the hottest time of the day. For three miles 
we drifted past the chosen haunts of the hoatzins. All were 
perched in the shade, quiet in the violent heat, squatting pros- 
trate or sleepily preening their plumage. Now and then we 
saw a bird on her nest always over the water. If she were 
sitting on eggs she sat close; if young birds were in the nest 
she half crouched, or perched on the rim, so that her body 
cast a shadow over the young. 

The vegetation was not varied. JMucka-mucka Avas here 
and there in the foreground, with an almost solid line of bun- 
duri pimpler or thorn tree {Drepanocarpus lunatus). This 
was the real home of the birds, and this plant forms the back- 
ground whenever the hoatzin comes to mind. This growth 
loves the water and crowds down so that the rising of the 
tide, A\'hether salt or brackish, covers the mud in which it 
grows, so that it appears as aquatic as the mangrove which, 
here and there, creeps out alongside it. The pimpler bears 
thorns of the first magnitude, often double, recurved and at 
such diabolically unexpected places, that like barbed wire, 
it is impossible to grasp anywhere without drawing blood. 
Such a chevaux-de-frise would defend a trench against the 
most courageous regiment. The stems were light grey, 
greening toward the younger shoots, and the foliage was 



NOTES ON HOATZINS 159 

pleasantly divided into douhk- lines of loeust-like leaflets. 
The plants were in I'lill flower, dainty, upri^lit panieles of 
wisteria-like pea blossoms, pale violet and white with tinj'^ 
bnds of magenta. A faint, snhdued ])errnnie drifted from 
them through the tangle of branches. The fruit was ripen- 
ing on many plants, elnsters of green, semi-eirenlar, flat, 
kidney pods. The low branches stretched gracefnlly water- 
wards in long sweeping cnrves, and on these at a fork or at 
the crossing of two distinct branches, the hoatzins ])laced 
their nests, and with the soft-tissned leaflets they packed their 
capacious crops and fed their young. 

Besides these two plants, which alone maj' be considered 
as forming the principal environment, two blooms were 
conspicuous at this season; a deep calyxed, round blossom 
of rich yellow — an hibiscus, which the Indians called niakoe, 
and from the bark of which they made most excellent rope. 
The other flower was a vine which crept commonly up over 
the pimpler trees, regardless of water and thorns, and hung 
out twin blossoms in profusion, pink or pinkish- white, trum- 
pet shaped with flaring lips — an Kchites of sorts. 

The mid-day life about this haunt of hoatzins was full 
of interest. Tody-flycatchers of two species, yellow-breasted 
and streaked were the commonest birds, and their little 
homes, like bits of tide-hung drift, swayed from the tips of 
the pimpler branches. They dashed to and fro, regardless of 
the heat, and w^henever we stopped, came within a foot or 
two, curiously watching om* every motion. Kiskadees hopped 
along the water's edge in the shade, snatching insects and 
occasionally splashing into the water after small fish. Awk- 
ward Guiana green herons, not long out of the nest, crept 
like shadow silhouettes of birds close to the dark water. High 
overhead, like flecks of jet against the blue sky, the vultures 
soared. 

Green dragonflies whirled here and there, and great 
blue-black bees fumbled in and out of the hibiscus, yellowed 



1(50 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN J3R1TJSH GUIANA 

with pollen and too busy to stop a second in their day-long 
labor. This little area held very strange creatures, some of 
M'hich we saw even in our few hours' search. Four-eyed fish 
skittered over the water, pale as the ghosts of fish, and when 
quiet, showing only as a pair of bubbly eyes. Still more 
weird hairy caterpilhu's wriggled their way through the mud- 
dy, brackish current- — aquatic larvae of a small moth which 
1 had not seen since I found them in the trenches at Para. 
The only sound at this time of day was a drowsy, but pene- 
trating tr-r-r-r-r-p! made by a green-bodied, green-legged 
grasshopper of good size whose joy in life seemed to be to 
lie lengthwise upon a pimpler branch, and skriek violently 
at frequent intervals, giving his wings a frantic flutter at 
each utterance, and slowly encircling the stem. 

In such environment the hoatzin lives and thrives, and 
thanks to the strong body odor has existed from time 
immemorial in the face of terrific handicaps. The odor is 
a strong musky one, not particularly disagreeable. I 
searched mv memorv at everv whiff for somethiniJ^ of which 
it vividly reminded me, and at last the recollection came to 
me — the smell, delectable and fearfully exciting in former 
years — of elephants at a circus, and not altogether elephants 
either — but a compound of one-sixth sawdust, another part 
peanuts, another of strange animals and three-sixths sway- 
ing elephants. That to my mind, exactly describes the odor 
of hoatzin as I sensed it among these alien surroundings! 

As I have mentioned, the nest of the hoatzin was in- 
variably built over the water, and we shall later discover the 
reason for this. The nests were sometimes only four feet 
above high water, or equally rarely, at a height of forty to 
fifty feet. Six to fifteen feet included the zone of four-fifths 
of the nests of these birds. They varied much in solidity, 
some being frail and loosely put together, the dry dead 
sticks which composed them, dropping apart almost at a 
touch. Usuallv thev were as well knitted as a heron's, and 
in about half the cases consisted of a recent nest built upon 



XOTKS ON HOAT/IXS 



1()1 




I'hoto by P. G. H. 



FIG. 38. BUNDURI PIMPLER TANGLE. SHOWING THREE NESTS AND 

SIX HOATZINS. 



the foundations of an old one. There was hardly any cayity 
at the top and the coarse network of sticks looked like a pre- 
carious resting place for eggs and an exceedingly uncom- 



fortable one for young birds. 



162 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IX BRITISH GUIANA 




Photo by TV. B. 
FIG. 39. NEST OF THE HOATZIN BUILT ON A MANGROVE OVER THE WATER. 



When we approached a iie.st the occupant paid no at- 
tention until we actually came close to a branch or shook it. 
She then rose, protesting hoarsely, and lifting wings and tail 
as she croaked. At the last moment, often when only a yard 
away, she flew off and away to a distance of fifty feet or 
more. Watching closely, when she realized that we really 



NOTF.S OX IIOATZrXS 103 

had intentions on licr nest slie rctnrned and pcrcliud fifteen 
or twenty feet awav, croakin"- eontinnallv, her mate a few 
feet farther off, and all the hoatzins within si<»'ht or hearing- 
joining in synipathetie disliarniony, all with synehronons 
lifting of tail and wings at eaeh ntteranee. The voiee of 
the female was appreciably deeper than that of the male, 
having more of a gnrgling character, like one of the notes of 
a cnrassow. The usnal note of both sexes is an nnwritable, 
hoarse, creaking sound, (jnite cicada or frog-like. Their 
tameness was astounding, and they would often sit un- 
moved, while we were walking noisily about or focussing the 
camera within two yards. If several w^ere sitting on a 
branch and one was shot, the others would often show no 
symptoms of concern or alarm, either at the noise of the gun 
or the fall of their companion. A bird which may have been 
crouched close to the slain bird would continue to preen its 
plumage without a glance downward. When the young have 
attained their first full plumage it was almost impossible to 
distinguish them from the older members of the flock except 
by their generally smaller size. 

But the heart of our interest in the hoatzins centered in 
the nestlings. Some kind Providence directed the time of 
our visit, which I choose against the advice of some of the 
very earliest inhabitants of New Amsterdam. It turned out 
that we were on the scene exactly at the right time. A week 
either w^ay would have yielded much poorer results. The 
nestlings in seven occupied nests, observed as we drifted 
along shore, or landed and climbed among the thorns, were 
in an almost identical stage of development. In fact the 
greatest difference in size occurred between two nestlings 
of the same brood. Their down was a thin, scanty, fuzzy 
covering, and the flight feathers were less than a half inch 
in length. No age would have showed to better advantage 
every movement of wings or head. 

When a mother hoatzin took reluctant flight from her 
nest, the young bird at once stood upright and looked curi- 



104 THOPrCAT. WIT.l) LIFE IN BRITISH (lUIANA 

ouslv in every direetion. Xo slaeker lie, erouchino' flat or 
awaiting his motlier's direetino- cries. From the moineiit he 
was left alone he he^an to depend upon the warnings and 
signs which his great heady eyes and skinny ears conveyed to 
him. Hawks and vultures had swept low oyer his nest and 
mother unheeded. Coolies in their hoats had j)addle(l under- 
neath with no more than a glance upward. Throughout his 
Week of life, as though his parents' and their parents' par- 
ents' liyes, no danger had disturhed their peaceful existence. 
Only for a sudden wind storm such as the week hefore had 
upset nests and hlown out eggs, it might be said that for the 
little hoatzin chicks life held nothing but siestas and numch- 
ings of pimpler leaves. 

But one little hoatzin, if he had any thoughts such as 
these, failed to count on the invariable exception to every 
rule, for this day the totally unexpected happened, and fate, 
in the shape of enthusiastic scientists, descended upon him. 
He was not for a second disconcerted. If we had concen- 
trated upon him a thousand strong, by boats and by land, he 
would have fought the good fight for freedom and life as 
cahnly as he waged it against us. And we found him no 
mean antagonist, and far from reptilian in his ability to meet 
new and unforeseen conditions. 

His mother, who a moment before had been packing 
his capacious little crop with predigested pimpler leaves, had 
now flown off to an adjoining group of mangroves, where 
she and his father croaked hoarse encouragement. His 
flight feathers hardly reached beyond his finger tips and his 
l)ody was covered with a s})arse coating of sooty black down. 
So there could be no resort to flight. He must defend him- 
self, bound to earth like his assailants. 

Hardly had his mother left when his comical head, with 
thick, blunt beak and large intelligent eyes appeared over 
the rim of the nest. His alert expression was increased by 
the sus])icion of a crest on his crown, where the down was 
slightly longer. Higher and higher rose his head, su])))orted 



xNOTKS ON HOAI'/INS 



105 




rhoto hij P. G. II. 
FIG. 40. HOATZIN ON NEST CONTAINING TWO NESTLINGS. 



on a neck of extraordinary length and thinness, Xo more 
than this was needed to mark his a})surd resembhmce to some 
strange, extinct re])tile. A yonng dinosaur must have looked 
much like this, while for all that my glance revealed, I might 
have been looking at a diminutive Galapagos tortoise. In- 
deed this simile came to mind often when I became more 
intimate with nestling hoatzins. Sam, my black tree climber, 
kicked off his shoes and began creeping along the horizontal 
limbs of the pimplers. At each step he felt carefullv with 
each calloused sole in order to avoid the longer of the cruel 
thorns, and punctuated ever}^ yard with some gasp of pain 
or muttered personal prayer, "Pleas' doan' stick me, 
Thorns!" At last his hand touched the branch, and it shook 
slightly. The young bird stretched his mittened hands high 
above his head and waved them a moment. ^Vith similar 



lOG TROPICAL WILD LIFR IX IHU'IMSH GUIANA 

intent a l)oxer or wrestler flexes his muscles and bends kis 
body. One or two uncertain, forward steps brought the bird 
to the edge of the nest and at the base of a small branch. 
There he stood and raising one wing leaned heavily against 
the stem, bracing himself. ^ly man climbed higher and 
the nest swayed violently. Now the brave little hoatzni 

a. •• 

reached up to some tiny side twigs and aided by the project- 
ing ends of dead sticks from the nest, he climbed with facility, 
his thumbs and fore fingers apparently being of more aid 
than his feet. It w^as fascinating to see him ascend, stopping 
now and then to crane his head and neck far out, turtle-wise. 
He met every difficulty with some new contortion of body 
or limbs, often with so quick or so subtle a shifting as to 
escape mv scrutiny. Once he even chinned himself. The 
branch ended in a tiny crotch and here perforce, ended his 
attempt at escape by climbing. He stood on the sw^aying 
twig, one wing clutched tight and braced with both feet. 
Nearer and nearer crept Sam. Xot a quiver on the part of 
the little hoatzin. We did not know it, but inside that ridi- 
culous head there was definite decision as to a deadline. He 
watched the approach of this great strange creature, this dan- 
ger, this thing so wlioUy new and foreign to his experience 
and doubtless to all the generations of his forebears. A black 
hand grasped the thorny branch six feet from his perch, and 
like a flash he played his next trick — the only remaining one 
he knew — one that set him as apart from all modern land 
birds as is the frog from the swallow. 

The young hoatzin stood erect for an instant, and then 
both wings of the little bird were stretched straight back, not 
folded, bird-wise, but dangling loosely and reaching well 
beyond the body. For a considerable fraction of time he 
leaned forward. Then without effort, without apparent leap 
or jump lie dived straight downward, as beautifully as a seal, 
dii-cct as a ])lummet and very swiftly. There was a scarcely 
noticeable splash and as I gazed with real awe, I watched 



XOTl-.S ON IIOATZrNS 



1()T 




I'hdto 1)1/ P. a. IT. 

FIG. 41. NESTLING HOATZINS PROGRESSING ON ALL FOURS AND PREPARING 
TO CLIMB OR TO DIVE FROM THE NEST. 



the widening ripples which unduhited over the muddy water 
— the only trace of the whereabouts of the vonniJ^ bird. 

It seemed as if no one, whether ornitliolog'ist, evohition- 
ist, poet or philosopher could have failed to be profoundly 
impressed at the sight we had seen. Here I was in a very 
real, a very modern boat, witli tlie honk of motor horns 
sounding from the river road a few vards awa^• through the 
bushes, in the shade of this tropical vegetation in the year 
nineteen hundred and sixteen, and yet the curtain of the 
past had been lifted, and I liad been permitted a glim])se of 
what must have been common in tlie millions of 3'ears ago. 
It was a tremendous tiling, a wonderful thing to liave seen 
and it seemed to dwarf all the strange sights I had seen in 
all other parts of the earth's wilderness. I had read of these 




FIG. 42. YOUNG HOATZINS CLIMBING BY MEANS OF NECK. FINGERS AND TOES 



NOTKS O.N HOAT/IXS 1 fiO 

liiibits and had expected tlieiii, ])iit like one's first si^ht of a 
volcano in ern])tion, no reading or description prepares one 
i'oi- the actual ])henonien()ii. 

I sat silently watching for the reap})earance of the 
young bird. AVe tallied five })airs of* eyes and yet many min- 
utes passed before I saw the same little head and emaciated 
neck sticking out of the water alongside a bit of drift rubbish. 
The only other visible thing was the proti'uding s|)ikes of 
the bedraggled tail feathci-s. I worked the boat in toward 
the bird, half-heartedly, foi- I had made up my mind that 
this brave little bit of ata\ism deserved his freedom, so splen- 
didly had he fought for it among the ])implers. Soon he 
ducked forward, dived out of sight and came up twenty feet 
away among an inextricable tangle of vines. I sent a little 
cheer of well wishing after him and we salvaged Sam. 

Then we shoved out the boat and watched from a dis- 
tance. Five or six minutes passed and a skinny, crooked, 
two-fingered mitten of an arm reared upward out of the 
muddy fiood and the nestling, black and glistening, hauled 
itself out of water. Thus must the first amphibian have 
climbed out, shaken the water from its eyes and gasped in 
the thin air. But the young hoatzin neither gasped nor shiv- 
ered, and seemed as self-possessed as if this were a common 
occurrence in its life. There was not the slightest dou])t, 
however, that this was its first introduction to water. Yet 
it had dived from a height of fifteen feet, about fifty times 
its own length, as cleanly as a seal leaps from a l)erg. It was 
as if a child should dive two hundred feet! 

In fifteen minutes more it had climbed high above the 
water and with unerring accuracy directly toward its natal 
bundle of sticks overhead. The mother now came close and 
with hoarse rasping notes and frantic heaves of tail and wings 
lent encouragement. Just befoi-e we paddled from sight, 
when the little fellow had reached his last rung, he partly 
opened his beak and gave a little falsetto cry — a clear, high 
tone, tailing off to a gutteral rasp. His splendid courage 



170 TROPICAL WIT.D LIFE IN BRITISH (iL'IANA 

had broken at last; he had nearly reached the nest and he 
was aching to pnt aside all this terrible responsibility, this 
pitting of his tiny might against such fearful odds. He 
wanted to be a heli)less nestling again, to crouch on the 
spi-ingy bed of twigs with a feather coverlet over him and 
be stuffed at will with delectable pimpler pap. Such is the 
normal right destiny of a hoatzin chick and the tvheee-og! 
wrung from him by the reaction of safety, seemed to voice 
all this. 

I have more than once emphasized the extremely seden- 
tary character of the hoatzin, which is not surprising when 
we correlate the factors of weak flight and exceedingly lim- 
ited aboreal environment. Twice I have seen interesting 
episodes which were significant from this very viewpoint. 
In the Berbice River and still more in its tributary, the 
Canje Creek, floating islands are not uncommon. Indeed, 
some distance up where the creek is quite narrow, these wan- 
dering bits of vegetation occasionally extend from bank to 
bank. At such places the river disappears wholly from view 
and one sees only two parallel rows of bushes and trees with 
a green, level lawn spread between. These floating masses 
are constantly breaking up and drifting out to sea. Usually 
they are composed of three distinct plants, a sort of floating 
Polygonum, a Panicum locally known as Missouri grass and 
a Pontederia. The latter is the most attractive as it bears 
pale flowers like little hyacinths. Occasionally boughs or 
full-sized trees are seen passing down stream with the 
current. 

Twice I have seen hoatzins, a single bird in one instance 
and two at another time, perched in branches which, low in 
the grassy mass, were floating steadily down and revolving 
as they went. In the case of the two birds I was in a par- 
ticularly favora])le place for observation and could command 
at least a half mile of creek, and from tlie time tliey appeared 
until the great mat swept around the farthest curve, the 
birds did not move. If thev did not flv ashore before thev 



NOTKS ON HOATZIXS 171 

reached the Can je bi-idgc, a few miles below, they must have 
been carried out to sea. 

We must assume either tiiat this was a voluntary migra- 
tion, which would be retravcrscd bv manv a slow, ])ainful. 
flapping flight, or that tlic birds were young, newly mated 
and actually shitting their haunts from far up stream to 
nearer the moutli. 'Die lattei- view is much the more prob- 
able and would go far toward clearing u]) tlic problem of the 
distribution of these birds. Schomburgk, in the second vol- 
ume of his Uciscii in Jirifiscli Guiana, WTites that "Die west- 
liche Kette des Canuku-Cicbige endet sich in den 2,000 Fuss 
hohen Curatawuiburi," and near here he found an isolated 
colony of hoatzins. Wilgress Anderson reports another on 
the Takutu Kiver, a northern tributary of the Amazon, be- 
tween British Guiana and Brazil, while H. C. P. Melville, 
INIagistrate of the Bupununni District, writes that while 
hoatzins are plentiful on the Takutu, they are not found on 
the Rupununni, although conditions on both rivers are very 
similar. In the lower reaches of the Abary Kiver, twenty- 
five miles northwest of the Berbice, hoatzins are abundant, 
and elsewhere in Venezuela, Brazil and other portions of the 
birds' range I have observed this peculiar nodal occurrence. 
The most reasonable explanation M'ould seem to be a migra- 
tion of one or more pairs in some such way as I have de- 
scribed, which would readily account for the hiatus of inter- 
vening territory, devoid of hoatzins while environmentally 
it may be perfectly suited to their needs. 

Judging by the reports of other observers and from the 
opinion of Edgar Beckett who has lived for many years in 
New Amsterdam, the hoatzins are holding their own and are 
not decreasing either on the Berbice Kiver or along the banks 
of Canje Creek. The birds are on the First Protected List 
which means that they are not allowed to be shot at anv time, 
and in addition there is a special fine of five pounds sterling 
for killing one of them. 



172 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IX HIUTLSH (iUlANA 

The nesting season of hoatzins has been variously stated 
to be in January, April, July and October. I found evi- 
dence that the birds of this region, like many other tropical 
species, have two periods of breeding. In every small flock 
of hoatzins I observed immature individuals in adult plum- 
age, but of considerably smaller size, which I estimated to 
be about six or seven months old. In late ^lay, I found 
a few nests with eggs, but the great majority contained 
young of about two weeks of age. These facts would indi- 
cate that the beginning of the two breeding seasons was in 
November and April. While the birds may, as individuals, 
nest off and on throughout the period from November to 
^lay, yet from what I saw of the two very distinct stages 
of nestlings and three-quarter grown birds, the two annual 
breeding seasons are quite clearly defined. 

As to the relative number of eggs and young, seventy- 
five per cent of the nests contain two eggs, while three eggs 
are found in about one-quarter of the nests. When the young 
birds have reached the age of two weeks, the relative num- 
bers already show the effect of some inimical factor in the 
environment. One-half of the nests now contain only one 
young bird; forty per cent hold two young, while those with 
three young amount only to ten per cent of the whole. In 
fact, I found only two broods of three young, and it was 
interesting to observe that in both cases three nests were 
superimposed one upon the other, as if the same pair of birds 
had been unusually successful in establishing their home year 
after year in the same place. And the full complement of 
young bore testimony to the fact of their parents' ability to 
meet the difficulties and cope with the dangers of the breed- 
ing season. 

As I have stated elsewhere, the nests are invariably 
built over the water, but two which I found were so placed, 
that at low tide the mud of the river's edge was exposed 
directly beneath. This was decidedly an error of judgment 
on the pait of the pai-ent birds. Whenever a nest was threat- 



NOTKS ON HOATZINS 



it:j 




I'hulo by W. B. 



FIG. 43. NEST AND TWO EGGS OF THE HOATZIN. 



ened and the nestling hoatzin found its retreat to tlie upper 
branches cut off, without liesitation it dived into the water 
below. But when I alarmed the young birds of these two 
nests, the youngsters all but dislocated their necks by diving 
headlong into the soft mud. One fairly stuck, legs in air, 
head down in a crab's hole for a few seconds. They then 
wrio-ffled free and in frantic haste scrambled and slithered 
on all fours and belly to the edge of the water. The pitiful, 
whole-hearted trust, instinctive though it was, which they 
placed in their parents' judgment was most interesting. 

These birds of two weeks were in excellent condition 
for showing to the best advantage their famous ability of 
quadrumanual climbing and skillful diving and swimming. 

One point interested me keenly. When the wings of 
the nestling were closed, the claws of the thumb and fore- 



174 TROPICAT, Wlf.l) LIFE IN TiRTTISH GUIANA 

finger j^ointed down and inward, lying closely apposed to 
the wing, and well out of harm's way. They were sheathed, 
as it were, between wing and body. The movement of exten- 
sion caused the claws to be released and at the same time to 
revolve in a full quarter of a circle, pointing thus directly for- 
ward and inward. This becomes of dominant significance 
when we recall the position of the claws in the fossil speci- 
mens of Archaeopteryx. Recently, when reviewing the char- 
acters of this wonderful creature with a view to restoration, 
I was in great doubt about accounting for the position of the 
claws in the partly spread wing. It seemed ahnost as if the 
forward, inward pointing claws had been accidently crushed 
into that position by pressure after the bird's death, or by 
some flexure of the muscles and tendons after decomposition. 
But when I saw the automatic rotation of the claws in the 
young hoatzin as its wing spread, I realized that the condi- 
tions were identical in the two forms, and that the unusual 
posture of the claws in Archaeopteryx was, after all, quite 
normal. It is a position wholly unlike that in the wing claws 
of any other bird. The twist occurs chiefly in the phalangeal 
joint, but partly as wtII in the basal joint of the thumb. 

I was surprised to learn how exclusively arboreal were 
these nestling hoatzins. I once saw an adult bird alight on 
the ground, but rather from inabilitv to flv farther than of 
its own intention. When Schomburgk, in the third volume 
of his Ueisen in Britisch Guiana, writes that he saw a flock 
of several hundred which "chased each other from branch to 
branch, while others ran about upon the ground," he was 
either romancing or else confused these birds with trumpet- 
ers. They do not run nor even walk upon the ground. 

My young hoatzins were as helpless as seals on solid 
ground, tlieir toes crumpling up and their feet practically 
useless foi- progression. In attempting to go ahead the bird 
fell forward, extended its wings wide and clawed vigorously 
at the ground, pulling itself awkwardly along, while the feet 



NOTES UN HOATZINS 175 




FIG. 44. YOUNG HOATZIN ATTEMPTING TO PROGRESS ON SOLID GROUND. 

kicked out helplessly behind. In this mode of progress it 
closely resembled a sloth on solid oround. 

If a single straight twig were brouglit within reach, the 
head was crooked over it to such an extent that the bill was 
upside down and the upper neck bent into a complete circle. 
With this grip once secured the bird hung suspended, and 
reached frantically upward with feet and wings, the feet 
nearer the head, the wings farther awav. Usuallv a claw 
on the fore-finger was the first to catch. This secured, the 
long middle toe of the opposite foot curled around the stem. 
Straining steadily, the little bird chinned itself and for 
a moment stood upright. The head loosened and rose in 
mid-air, the wing claws uncurled and the skinny pinions 
reached toward the sky. It was an epitome of its past evolu- 
tion: it was a bird at last. 



1T6 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IX BRITISH GUIANA 

But the victory was nioiiientarv. A frantic wave and 
clutch at the cin})ty air, and it ])itched forward and hung 
u])sidc down. Tliis time it was sus])en<led l)y the toe grip, 
wliicli, useless upon level ground, was its strongest safeguard 
among branches. It was almost impossible to pull a fledg- 
linsf hoatzin from the branch when once its feet had obtained 
a firm hold, Kach toe had to be uncmded in turn. The sec- 
ond righting was a quicker matter, more skillfully achieved. 
The chin hold was taken at once and the wing claws fol- 
lowed. If a well-twigged branch were now placed within 
reach, the bird easily retained its ui)right position and 
climbed with facility, wing over wing. 

The illustrations from drawings, of the young hoatzins, 
which for manv years have done duty in volume after vol- 

• • • 

ume of our ornithological literature, are almost without ex- 
ception incorrect. To consider only one instance, the widely 
copied drawing by Baldwin, which tirst appeared in the pub- 
lications of the United States National iNIuseum, errs in 
representing the young bird as gripping a twig in its man- 
dibles. In all my ex])erience 1 have never observed this, al- 
though the chin hold is the most common method of begin- 
ning a climb. It is this habit, which, carelessly observed, led 
to the mistaken idea that the bird actually grasped the twig 
in its beak. In the same drawing the second hoatzin nest- 
ling is shown as standing almost flat-toed on the upper sur- 
face of a branch, a position which, as we know from its in- 
ability to stand for a moment upon flat ground, is impossible. 
In the water I found that the young hoatzin displayed 
two very distinct methods of progression. If dropped into 
a deep l)asin or tub, it always landed head flrst, even when it 
had to turn partly over in mid-air to accomplish this. Al- 
most at once it came to the sm-face, the head, neck and tail- 
feathers projecting, and the back being flush with the sur- 
face. It would start to swim immediately, easily but slowly. 
It held its wings extended loosely on each side so that they 



NOTES ON HOATZINS 



177 







i'IkiIu 1,1/ \v. /;. 

FIG. 45. YOUNG HOATZIN SWIMMING TOWARD THE RIGHT: HEAD, WINGS. 

BACK AND TAIL SHOWING. 

were just flu.sh or occasionally a little above the surface. The 
feet alone furnished the means of progression, moving with 
alternate kicks, the toes reaching out on the forward move- 
ment and curling around when the back stroke was made. 
If I moved my hand suddenly toward the bird, or even 
if the shadow cut it off for an instant from the direct sun- 
light, it dived at once, the first dip carrying it four to six 
inches beneath the surface. The feet became passive, dang- 
ling uselessly and quite relaxed, back of the tail, while the 
wings, moving together with gracefid, synchronous beats, 
swept the bird forward with strong, rhythmic strokes. 
Twelve to sixteen inches were covered with each submarine 
wing beat, the movement and general effect being that of a 
diminutive penguin. 




f? ■'■t^-^'^!fJSm£^k^ 



jm 

/'tiolf, hy 11 . /;. 

FIG. 46. YOUNG HOATZIN CLIMBING. SHOWING USE OF THUMB AND 
FOREFINGER WITH THEIR CLAWS. 



NOTKS OX llOAT/INS 179 

Tlie nestling hoat/in could sec distinctly hcncath llic 
sui-fuce and never l)uin])e(l into suhincroed ])ranches nor the 
sides of its small pool, hut avoided them with a (|uick tui-n. 
This was aeliieved either hy a stronger stroke of one wing, 
or by a sudden flick ol* the long feather sheaths of the tail. 
Several times I saw birds turn well over on their sides, ca- 
reening sharply as they banked on some short turn to the 
left or right. Twenty feet was the greatest distance I saw 
them swim, bnt were thev forced to do so thev could undou})t- 
edly cov'er several times this distance. 

Nothing has been definitely recorded of the method of 
feeding of the young hoatzins, but this tijue at a distance 
of less than fifteen feet, I was able to watch the parent feed- 
ing the nestling by regurgitation. It was quite a leisurely 
affair. The old bird would rise on the nest and without fur- 
ther shifting her position, reach down beneath her and open 
her bill. The nestling craned his neck upward and thrust 
his head well down her throat, where he pecked and fed for 
ten to twenty seconds. Then she righted herself, swallowed 
several times, shook her head and the feeding was ended. 

The keel of the bi-eastbone of these birds is greatly re- 
duced by the abnormally large crop, but the small extent 
of keel which does succeed in reaching the skin is in constant 
use as a perching cushion. Even in the nestlings it is sjilayed 
out and the skin over it somewhat calloused by the constant 
pressure of the bird's body against the twigs and branches. 

A fact which was quite new to me was the molting of 
the wing claws. In the two weeks' old nestling these were 
as curved and sharp as the claws of a cat. Examination of 
young birds in various stages of growth showed that the 
claws on both thumb and fore-finger are shed at least twice 
in the first eight months. This reminded one of the several 
renewals of the flight feathers in the first few months of 
life of some other birds, and the cause is doubtless the same 
— the constant use of the claws and the feathers resulting 
in considerable wear in a very short time, which for the 



180 TROPICAI. WIT.T) T.Il-F, TX RRfTISII GUIANA 

safety of tlic yoiiii^i;- l)ird iiiust be compensated by euustaiit 
activity in the renewal of these structures. 

\Mien we find the claws in a three-(iuarter grown bird 
worn to stubs M'ith no trace of the hooked tip remaining, 
or perhaps with one claw just shed, and then in fully adult 
birds witli the fresh, sharp, curved talons deep hidden among 
the long wing feathers, it seems as if Nature had for once 
nodded, and preserved a character beyond the scope of its 
usefulness. 

Tlie first volume of a book on "The Birds of British 
Guiana," by Charles Chubb has just appeared. Mr. Chubb 
has not had the opportunity of observing living hoatzins and 
this enforced writing at second hand has resulted in a num- 
ber of errors which should be corrected. First as regards 
the two figures. That of the head of the bird shows the wav- 
ing crest too flattened. The bird seems to have little or no 
control over the dermal cranial muscles, and the long, dis- 
integrated crest feathers are always raised, standing almost 
erect and giving to the bird a wild, startled appearance, even 
when it is sleepy and about to put head under wing. Figure 
twelve, the wing of the young bird, is quite wa-ong in anat- 
omy, both in the number of claws, the position of the thumb 
and the general proportions. In the measurements of the 
adult bird the total length is taken evidently from a dried 
skin, as it is given as 555 millimetres. Even a three-quarters 
grown bird measm-es at least 590 mm., while a fully adidt 
hoatzin is not less than 620 mm. in length. In his extra- 
limital range Chubb makes no mention of either Venezuela, 
Dutch or French Guiana, in all of which countries hoatzins 
are well known to occur. 

The nestling hoatzin shown in my frontispiece photo- 
graph was about two weeks old and was taken in a nest on 
the lower Berbice River on INIay 26. The following notes 
characterized all the young birds of this age which I ob- 
served or photographed. The short down already showed 
the pigment patterns of the adult, the sides and flanks being 



NOTES ON HOATZINS 181 

distinctly cliestniit, wliile tlie secondaries and tail feathers 
showed the l)uffy-white niarkin<^"s. The remainder of the 
down was a dark l)rownish l)hiek. palei- on tlie chin and 
throat. 

There were three thumb feathei"s in the alula, extend- 
ing almost to the ti]) of tlie claw, but tliese interfered not at 
all with its use, as it worked forward and inward, reachin*^" 
out at right angles to the ehiw of the first finger. The tail 
feathers were the longest and strongest of all of the s])r()ut- 
ing plumage, this ])recociousness unquestional)ly having to 
do with their rudder function. 

The upper mandible was brownish black, the lower 
greenish horn: the iris, olive-brown; the legs and feet black. 
These were very large in proportion to the size of the bird. 

Thrashing about with their flight feathers through the 
thorny branches, the plumage of these birds suffers unusual 
w^ear and tear, and it is seldom that an individual can be 
found with perfect wing and tail. The six months' old 
hoatzins were, how^ever, in full molt. The molt of the five 
pairs of tail feathers is peculiar, beginning almost simid- 
taneously wdth the outer and inner pairs and progressing 
evenh' toward the third pair, (^ne bird showing this par- 
ticularly well had the following retrice formula, the right 
and left sides corresponding: 

1st tail-feather (inner) three-quarters grown 

2nd pair blood sheath 

3rd pair old, unshed 

4th pair one-quarter grown 

5th pair (outer) new, nearly full-grown 

This same individual showed the primaries about half 
through their molt, which was progressing outward: 

1st primary (inner), and 2nd new', full grown 

3rd nearly grown 

4th blood sheath 



182 TROPICAL WILD LIFK IN UIUTLSH GULVNA 

5th to 10th old, unshed, tlie shafts 

hned thickly with iiial- 
l()j)lui<>'a eggs. 

The secondaries showed two nodes of molt. lki>inniniy 
with the 10th a molt was pro<rressing outward, and with the 
1st (outer) another molt had commenced inward: 

1st secondary (outer) one-half grown 

2nd to 7th old, unshed 

8th and 9th blood sheaths 

10th one-half grown 

11th, etc old, unshed 



CHAPTER Xll 



THK JIUMES OF '10 U CANS 



If toucans did not exist, an account of tlieir cliaractcr- 
istics, of their form, tlieir color and actions would be consid- 
ered as the result of a disordered brain, or tlie wilful rej)re- 
sentation of a cu})}st artist, worthy to be (le])icted as ])erching 
on the same branch with a phoenix. But we must accept 
them as living, breathing birds, whose vivid patterns and 
penetrating voices announce their presence in abundance in 
the Guiana jungle. Their legs are short and their arboreal 
progression is by an absurd hopping; their long tails, fre- 
quently in the daytime and always in sleep, are cocked at a 
seemingly impossible angle over their back; their enormous 
beaks should belong to birds four times the size of the own- 
ers; while through the center of this beak extends a slim, 
feather-like tongue, occupying the same relative space as 
would an umbrella-rib in a balloon. All these and other less 
obvious characters have made of toucans objects of acute 
interest to ornithologists, and subjects of mirth and wonder 
to lavmen for the two hundred odd years since these birds 
became fairly well known. 

The details of their first discovery are lost to us, but 
we know that as early as 1599, the old Italian naturalist 
Ulisse Aldrovandi had distinguished the toucan as Rham- 
phastos, which means that he was thinking in Greek of its 
curved beak. In the word toucan, we are speaking, more 
happily, in the native tongue of South American Indians, 
who knew these birds and used their plumage for decoration 
long before Columbus shattered the barriers of their peace- 
ful isolation. There is no doubt but that the skins of the 
toco toucan were among the first birds to be sent to Eu- 
rope after the discovery of America. 



184 TROPICAL WILD IJi'E 1\ iiUITlSII (/LIANA 

There are about seventy forms of toucans alive on the 
earth to(hiy, and their home is in tlie tropical jungles of the 
New World, fi-om tlie lowland forests of southern Mexico 
to tlie outlying ])alm groves of northern Argentina. The 
])ill is the dominant character in these birds, occasionally 
exceeding the body in length and almost e(|ualing it in bulk. 
In most forms these exaggerated mandibles of horn, togeth- 
er with the bare skin of the face, are stained and splashed 
with the most brilliant and glaring of pigments. The plu- 
mage itself is parti-colored, marked on various parts with 
patches and bands of bright color. 

In spite of the interest — both populai* and technical — 
which these birds have aroused, and the papers and mono- 
graphs which they have inspired in ornithological literature, 
their life history has remained almost a blank. Our meagre 
knowledge of these bizarre forms of life was summed up 
over a century ago by Levaillant in a single sentence: "Les 
kouliks sont fort communs a Cayenne, a Surinam, et dans 
toute la Guyane; ils vivent dans les bois, nickent dans des 
trous d'arbres, et frequentent les lieux cultives, on ils cau- 
sent beaucoup de degate aux fruits." 

They thrive well in captivity, but show no inclination 
to nest or lay eggs. The sole exception is the instance of 
a toucanet [Sclenidera macuUrostris) , which in July, 1913, 
hatched one young in the London Zoological Gardens. Xo 
details were recorded of this interesting occurrence. A sup- 
posed Ggg of the yellow-billed toucan {Pteroglossus flavi- 
rostris), collected by Indians in Peru has been described 
several times. ' 

In their tropical haunts toucans are among the most 
c()ns})icuous of birds, both to the eve, as when a pair flies 
slowly overhead, or a small Hock is seen hopping awkwardly 

' The most recent reference to this egg i.s in the Ciitalogue of Birds' Eggs 
in tiie Hritish Museum, III, 1903, p. 13T. It is described as "elliptical in shape, 
the ends being somewhat pointed, moderately glossy, and jilain white. The shell 
is smooth, but is covered with shallow pores and longitudinal furrows or grooves, 
extending more or less from one end of liie egg to the other. It measures 1.3 
bv .92 inches.'' 



lI().Mi:S Ol' I'OICAXS 



185 




FIG. 47. RED-BILLED TOUCAN 



among the branches ; and to the ear, as their voices rise above 
all the usual jungle sounds, both in timbre and in insistant 
reiteration. And yet toucans might well be as mythical as 
the phoenix or the roc, for all we know about their home 
life in the top of the jungle. Up to the present time no 
definite account exists of the finding of the nest or the eggs 
and young of any species of these birds. In common with 
many explorers, I frequently have seen these birds enter 
and leave holes high up in gigantic forest trees and have 
longed for the opportunity of looking inside, of learning 
something more of their intimate lives than a glass and a 
gun could reveal. So when I planned for a half year or 
more of intensive study in one tropical locality I placed the 
discovery of the nest of these birds well u]) on the list of 
things which I intended to accomplish. 

The excitements, false alarms, disappointments and 
ultimate successes which marked our effort, would alone fill 
an entire volume. In the limited area of Bartica District 




Photo by P. Cr. 11. 
FIG. 48. DEAD TREE SHOWING NESTING HOLE OF GREEN ARACARI TOUCAN 



HOxMKS or TOUCANS 187 

to which wc confiiK'd our studies wc J'ouud tlic follow iiii>- 
five species of toucans: 

Ked-hilled Toucan NJniin ])]/asf().^ moii'iVis Muller 
Sul])liur-and-white-hreaste(i 

Toucan liham pluistos viicUinus l.iciit. 

Black-necked .\racari Ptcroc/lossiis aracfiri (l.inn.) 

Green Aracari Pterof/Iossufi viridis (iiiiin.) 

Guiana Toucanet ScJcu'tdcvd ciiVih- (Waaler) 

Between the dates of ^larch 15 and INI ay 10, we had 
evidence, either direct, or in(lisi)uta])ly cii-cunistantial, of the 
breeding of all five species, and had secured })oth e^-^s and 
vouno' birds. But these results came onlv aftei" davs and 
weeks of hard, unremitting search, of long tram])s wholly in 
vain, and of manv consecutive hours of steadv watching 
through heat and rain. 

GEEEX ARACARI TOUCAN 

Ptet'ogloss u s viridis 

On the eighth of JNIarch, Hartley returned to Kala- 
coon with the exciting news that he had seen small aracari 
toucans entering a hole high up in a dead tree. This was 
the commonest species of toucan in Bartica district, and 
this observation was the first to arouse the hopes of an occu- 
pied nest. The dead tree stood at the edge of the jungle 
about a mile aw^av, and was one of the manv which had been 
killed by direct exposure to the sun's raj^s when the clear- 
ing had been made nearby. Its barkless branches stretched 
high above the surrounding massed foliage, })leached, chalky 
white, and seasoned hard as iron. On one of the uppermost 
angles this pair of toucans perched, and worked in alternate 
shifts at an old woodpecker's hole. They propped them- 
selves against the tree, thrust their great beaks within the 
hole, and presently drew out and dropped bits of loose, rot- 
ten wood. Thus began the nesting of the green aracaris 
on March 8. 




Photo hu P. G. II. 

FIG. 49. SAM, OUR NEGRO CLIMBER. SIXTY FEET UP TOWARD THE FIRST 
LIMB OF THE GREEN ARACARI TREE 



HOMKS Ol' TOICANS 189 

Two (lays latt'i- one of the hii'ds s])ent coiisiderahlc time 
in the nest, appearin<>" only when its mate approaehed, xVt 
such times she (thus sexed l)y eoni'tesy) sat with projeeting 
hill, and ehattered in low, raueous aeeents, or aeee})ted offer- 
ings in the shape of berries of sorts from her mate's hill. 
A week later she seemed even more preoeeupied and seldom 
was seen outside. The male now flew direet to the hole and 
fed her as she sat inside the nest. ^Vhen within hearing he 
oeeasionally uttered a low eieada-like note, repeated three 
times, dciceeda-dcxicccda-deicceda, given with the })ill either 
open or shut. 

The tree was a favorite perching place foi- hirds of 
many species and besides the nest of the toucans, two other 
holes were occupied, both by red-fronted woodpeckers {Mel- 
anerpes ruhrifrans), whose brilliant black and scarlet forms 
flashed about the tree all day, or clung like dark shadows 
to the side of the whitened bole. One of the woodpeckers' 
nests was only two feet above that of the toucans. 

Two weeks after the discovery of the birds' nesting ac- 
tivities we felled the tree. It was an all-day job, and it took 
our arboreal, all but quadrumanous negro boy Sam several 
hom-s to ascend to the first branch and attach a guy rope. 
His method of climbing was unique and efl'ective, but most 
laborious. He made two loose slip nooses about the trunk 
of the tree, and a small hanging loop in each in which he 
put his feet. With a guy rope tied to his belt, he put his 
full weight on one loop, and clasping the trunk with one 
arm, he hitched the second rope up a foot or two and shifted 
his weight to its loop, the force of the oblique downward pull 
holding the noose in place on the trunk. Then rope number 
one had to be pulled and jerked up to the level of the sec- 
ond. And so, foot bv foot, this wonderfully muscled and 
persistent youth hitched and caterpillared his way over sixty 
feet upward to the lowest branch, guyed it and slid do^vll. 

The iron quality of the seasoned trunk turned the edge 
of two axes, but at last the topmost branch, one hundred 




I'hoto hii P. (;. II. 
FIG. 50. TALL, STRAIGHT NESTING TREE OF RED-BILLED TOUCAN 



IIOMKS Ol' TOrCANS 1<)1 

and fii'ty feet above the ground, swayed and swept down- 
ward. Jnst before the tree fell and after it had (jnivered 
and resounded for hours to the blows of the axe, both tou- 
eans entered and left the nestin(>- hole. Exhilarated by this 
enii)hati(' eireunistantial evidence we searched eagerly and 
found the remains of the hole. We enlisted the aid of a 
score of coolies, we examined every leaf and blade of grass 
in the glade, every chip and splinter passed under our scrut- 
iny, but in si)ite of the most minute exaim'nation of the 
ground, no trace of shell oi- young was ever discovered. The 
male bird which we then secured was in full breedino- con- 
dition, but our first toucan quest, fostered by many days of 
vivid anticipation, ended in comi)lete failure. There was no 
shred of doubt that the birds had not yet deposited eggs in 
the nest which they had so laboriously prepared, and for two 
weeks had occupied almost constantly. 

GUIANA TOUCANET 

Selenider'a culik 

These little green toucans were not common, and it was 
by sheer accident that we learned anything of their nesting. 
Whenever I passed near any benab or small h<amlet of In- 
dians, usually Akawais, I always asked for news of the vari- 
ous toucans, all five of which they knew well, and for which 
they had very definite names. As my boat was passing 
along the west bank of the INIazaruni one day early in April, 
I saw some Indian women squatting on a sloping rock, vig- 
orously pounding clothes. I sang out and asked in succes- 
sion for "katching, palaflek and kamata." At the last word 
an old, old squaw called something, and landing, I found 
that an Indian in a neighboring benab had two young birds 
in his possession. A girl consented to show the way, so we 
entered a narrow trail in the deep jungle and walked several 
hundred yards to a thatched benab, from which swung two 
hammocks, and which at this moment sheltered an old tooth- 



192 TROPICAL WILD LIFE L\ 15HITLSH (iLUANA 

less mail, three do<^s, two Avomeii and four cliildixMu two 
trumpeters, a parrot aud a curassow. I looked eagerly about 
for tlie young toueanets but tlie benab held no other visil^le 
living ereatures than those I have enumerated, l^pon in- 
(piiry 1 found that both birds had died that very morning 
and liad been thrown into the river, where of course the perai 
fish had devoured them at once. 1 asked to see the nesting- 
tree and was led to a tall palm with a good-sized hole in the 
western side of the trunk, about thirty feet up. At the edge 
of the cassava clearing, three toueanets were calling and 
flying restlessly about, and the Indian woman pointed to 
these as the owners of the hole. The young l)ir(ls, the squaw 
said, had no feathers. This w^as April 1.5th, and sums up 
our experience with nesting toueanets. 

A month later we found this species in fidl molt, shed- 
ding not only the body and wing feathers, but scaling off 
pieces of the beak as W'ell. 

RED-BTI.LED TOUCAN 

Rhamphastos monilis 

The fates were quite impartial in their distribution of 
favors, and the next toucanine thrill came to Howies as he 
was passing along a trail with mind and eyes concentrated 
on no higher forms of life than w-asps and bees. From al- 
most the first walk I had taken in this part of the jungle 
I had observed and tried to mark down some of the half 
dozen big red-billed toucans which fed, and called and 
climbed hereabouts. But they continued to climb, or call 
or feed as the case might be, and utterly refused to reveal 
any interest in a possible mate, or nest, or young. Yet the 
fact that day after day they did not roam widely, but kept 
witliin sight or hearing of the trail was suspicious enough 
to keep alive our constant interest. 

Sitting quietly among the undergrowth near the trail- 
side, Howes was endeavoring to follow the gyrations of a 



HOMKS or TOUCANS lO.'J 

small was]) Mhost' actions seemed to indicate that her cell 
was nearby. IIa|)j)enino' to <>lanee u])war(l, lie saw a tou- 
can, one ol' tlic red-billed species, sitting- on a branch close 
to a hole in a «>reat tree about forty feet from the «4roun(l. 
'^I'he bird slipped (iiu'etly fiom sii'ht almost at once, but the 
evidence w^as extreniely strong. The tree was a kaUaralli 
{Lccythis sp.), not of great girth, but tapering so gradu- 
ally that, sixty feet up, its diameter seemed hardly less than 
at the ground. \Miile lacking the wide, sweeping buttresses 
of the morass, it yet gave the impression of tremendous 
strength and longevity. From its upper branches depended 
a whole nexus of intertwined lianas, themselves in some 
cases, as large as good-sized tree trmiks. 

This was on oNIarch 27, and for three days we watched 
silently and in turn, and at last w^ere satisfied that this was 
indeed the home of the red-billed toucan. No creature short 
of a monkey or squirrel could have scaled that great trunk, 
so on the third day at six o'clock in the morning in a fairly 
hard rain, we started out on our third toucan adventure. 

We cut in tin'ii as usual, five minutes of the punishing 
effort being all that our muscles and soft palms would stand. 
The leaves dripped on all sides; they shone and glistened; 
every tw^ig was black with moisture. Xow and then in the 
midst of the downpour, at an unusually loud ring of the 
axe, a goldbird called — silvery, piercing, thrilling — a call 
full of pent-up virility and wildness. Fortunately for us 
the majestic tree was soft at the heart, else the raw blisters 
woidd have compelled us to wait for another day. 

The last few cuts were always M^ildlv exciting. A shout 
from one of the watchers at a distance, warned me that the 
end was near, although from my place close to the butt no 
swaying was perceptible. Then I bit deeply with the axe 
and a faint snap was heard — like the snap of a small twig — 
the beginning of the death rattle of the splendid giant. 
There was no need of another cut, the deciding fibre had 
















i'hiiln lilj I'. I,. II . 

FIG. 51. NEST OF RED-BILLED TOUCAN SHOWING ENTRANCE AND BASE. THE 

LATTER OPENED OUT WITH AX 



HOMES OF TOUCANS 



195 




Photo by P. G. 11. 
FIG. 52. EGGS AND NESTING MATERIAL OF RED-BILLED TOUCAN 



been cleft. No human power could now undo the harm al- 
ready wrought, yet lor a few seconds which seemed minutes, 
there was no movement, no sound. Even the rain had ceased. 
The goldbirds were silent. 

Then, still without a sound, the great trunk gently 
leaned away, and slowly, very slowly, began its final descent. 
A huge liana cable, half way up, snapped with a sharp re- 
port, then there were no more isolated sounds, but a gradu- 
ally ascending roar, like the sudden onshiught of a great 
hurricane. Trees, saplings and palms, whole riggings of 
lianas, and finally shrubs and tree-ferns went down like 
grass before the terrific impact of the tree. With a deep 
reverberating boom the trunk struck the ground and re- 
bounded. It was a hollow, subdued explosion of sound as of 
some subterranean catastrophe, and was plainly heard at the 



196 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN lUimSlI GUIANA 

laboratory, two miles away. The trunk then settled and was 
at rest. 

The work of rain, and sun, and protoplasm, through 
all the days and months, the years and centuries, was ended. 
The myriad of seedlings all about, would now for a space 
have renewed life, until some one of them gained a slight 
advantage, and the rest bowed their heads in defeat, drawing 
wliat moisture and light they could, and beginning their long- 
wait for another accident such as this. 

For a few minutes m'c danced about helplessly, not dar- 
ing to rush in, for long after the tree luid fallen a perfect 
hail of branches, leaves, nuts and torn lianas hurtled down. 
When it was comparatively safe we ran to the hole. Swiftly 
we relieved one another with the ax and cut deep into the 
lioUow. The entrance was through an old, decayed knot- 
hole, the butt of a branch long since dead and fallen. This 
opening was three by six inches in diameter and the cavity 
turned abruptly downward. When we had widened it, I 
could just get my hand inside, but by dint of much wrig- 
alino- I forced my arm down to the elbow, but could find no 
bottom. Sounding with a pliable bush rope I found that 
the base of the cavity was about a yard down the trunk. 
We cut out a slice at this point and found a large quantity 
of mold, mixed w^ith various pits, and nuts and seeds. Some 
of these were quite fresh, others had sprouted in the dark- 
ness, showing ghostly white stems and rootlets. 

For a time we turned this over and over in vain. Not 
so much as a feather rewarded us, and as failure again 
loomed ominously before us, we became poignantly aware 
of our bleeding hands and sodden clothing. Then from the 
midst of the mold shone a gleam of white and no pocket 
of nuggets ever drew from any discouraged group of min- 
ers, a more ioyful chorus of yells than burst from us. And 
no ])ile of jackstraws was ever more carefully disentangled 
tlian was that mass of mold, and wood and seeds. One by 
one we removed the particles of debris, and when we finislied 



ll().\li:S or TOLC'AxNS 



197 




riiDii, iiij /'. (,. //. 



FIG. 53. EGGS OF KED-BILLED TOUCAN 
Natural size. 



we had found the vaguely reputed two eggs, one punctured 
in two phiees, the other (juite perfect. 

Bhsters, rain, ant stings, tired muscles, all hecanie suh- 
conscious. We trudged happily home, forgetful of the three 
hours of toil in the realization of one of the chiefest of our 
desires, ju])ilant with the thrill of having solved one of the 
little mvsteries of the earth, a mvsterv of such sliglit moment 
to practical humanity at large, hut so satisfying to the seeker 
of la vcrite vraie. 

When we came to examine our treasures, we found the 
eggs to he white or pinkish white, the tint heing that of the 
contents showing through the shell. Thev were somewhat 
stained hy contact with the mold and the acid moisture from 
the decayed wood. The small end was hlunt, the general 
shape heing that of a diminutive hen's g^^^}:,. Tlie two were 
identical in measurement, each being 37 by 27 millimetres. 
Thev contained living embrvos of a})out a week old. The 
shell was without gloss and s])arsely covered with small ])its. 
Slight but plainly visible grooves extended down the central 
portion of the shell, irregular lines connecting many of the 
pits. To the naked eye the lines showed as very faint color- 
less striations, and required a close glance to detect. 




I'liolo hij w. n. 
FIG. 54. TREE WITH NESTING HOLE OF BLACK-NECKED ARACARI 



IIOMKS Oi" TOUCANS 11)'.) 

From iNIarcli to July the notes of the re{l-])ille(l toucans 
were one of the commonest of iun<>le sounds, hut hy ^\u<4ust 
tlie hii'ds seemed to ha\c' become much more quiet, and we 
seldom had our attention drawn to them. At this time they 
were usually seen in trios — doul)tless parents and a sin<^'le 
young, or in flocks of five or six. ' The molt was completed 
in a number of individuals as earl)' as the first week in July. 

BLACK-NECKED ARACARI 

Pteroglossus aracari 

Across the Mazaruni, just beyond the limit jungle- 
wards of the Penal Settlement clearing, we noticed that a 
pair of these toucans haunted the vicinity of a tall, uid<nown 
jungle tree. Its white trunk rose smooth and straight as 
a palm, high above the surrounding bush, and at a great 
height from the ground bm'st into a wide-branched mass of 
foliage. The birds did more calling and climbing about this 
tree than seemed consistent with mere distinterested search 
for food. 

Just above the first branch a blackened knot-hole was 
not quite free from suspicion and we set up an amiable mur- 
derer and a pleasant burglar to watch the hole while his 
companions cut firewood in the vicinity. Hope, one of the 
trusties, an interesting forger, and a particular friend of 
ours, at last brought word that the birds were entering and 
leaving, and he volunteered to fell the tree single-handed. 
This he did in three hours on the morning of April 1.5. To 
cut down such a tree anywhere else in the world woidd have 
been nothing less than criminal. ITere, as a giant among a 
continent of giants, it was of no more consequence than the 
breaking of a blade of grass. 

As the cutting went on, the parent toucans hopped si- 
lently about in the neighboring trees, silent except for the 
occasional loud whirr of their wings. When at last they 

^ See the notes on this species which I jiulilished in "Our Search for a Wil- 
derness," 1910, p. 327. 



200 



TKOIMCAI. WILD I.IFK FN l^RirrSH GUIANA 




riinio hi) r. (,. //. 



FIG. 55. FRONT VIEW OF TEN -DAY -OLD ARACARI 



were convinced that we actually intended an assault u])on 
their home, they became greatly excited and went through 
a series of remarkable gymnastics. They drew themselyes 
up to their full slim height, then bowed low and jerked their 
tails flat upon their back. They continually uttered their 
alarm notes, a creaky psssssssk! psssssss! This activity pro- 
duced an indiscribable display of color, the great black and 
yellow beaks never quiet for a moment, the black up])er 
parts set off by the saffron breast and })elly, which half way 
down were slashed across with scarlet. When the tree fell, 
tlie birds disappeared, and only by careful search were we 
able to find and secure them. 

The great head of S])ringy l)ranches brought the truuk 
to rest more gently than is usually the case with a falling 
tree. Hope went to the hole, thrust in his hand and drew 



IIO.MKS Ol' 'I'OrCANS 



201 




FIG. 56. SIDE VIEW OF TEN -DAY -OLD ARACARI 



forth two iiestlino: toucans. These were the first that any orni- 
thologist had ever seen, and as some facetious layman later 
observed, it seemed liardlv worth the trouble! Thev were 
quite naked, a sickly leaden in hue, hideously wrinkled, their 
movements vermian rather than birdlike. And as if the ocu- 
lar offensiveness were not sufficient, they gave utterance un- 
ceasingly to a raucous, irritating cry, long drawn out and 
querulous. 

To us, their weird, uncouth characteristics made them 
the more desirable. For years we had longed to lay eyes 
upon nestling toucans, and now we found them with char- 
acters beyond our utmost expectations. The rather psychic 
fact that their penchatit was for ugliness was only incidental. 
Had they been equally beautiful they would have been no 
less interesting. 



202 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




Pholo hii P. G. H. 
FIG. 57. SIDE VIEW OF SEVENTEEN -DAY -OLD ARACARI 

We placed them in an artificial cavity, fed them with a 
varied assortment of fruits and herries, and in due time 
chloroformed tliem for preservation an(| future study. Their 
fatal fault was youth; their doom inmiaturitv. Had thev 
been full-grown they would not have been disturbed, or 
would have been brought to live out their long span of years 
at tile Zoological Park. But youth is evanescent and the 
youth of these birds can teach much of the genealogical tree 
up which their more or less toucanesque ancestors hopped 
their way through the checkered eons of evolution. But tliat 
is a story for another volume. 

Tn the course of many years of exploration in various 
parts of tlie tropics T have cut down scores of trees to get 
at nests containing eggs or young birds, and it is a source 
of never-ending astonishment how seldom these are injured. 



HOMES OF TOUCANS 203 

Occasionally an e<>"^' is cracked or a nestling is lamed, but 
usually they are in perfect condition. 

So in the ])resent case, after falling IVoni a height of 
fifty feet, knocking and hanging around a deep cavity and 
at the last rebound being flung almost out of the entrance, 
the nestling toucans were (juite unharmed. Never foi- an 
instant did they cease their cries for food. 'I'his ke])t up 
all day and at intervals throughout the night, l-'ioiii four 
o'clock in the morning it was unceasing, and we had to ban- 
ish the young birds to a distance in order to work without 
distraction. Only the brain-fever bird of India excels the 
hunger call of a young toucan in sheer maddening, iri-itating 
reiteration. It was a never-varying, raucous auiniuuki 
auiiuuuki auuvunk! auuuulx! repeated over and over. When 
food was given the harsh cry was broken into series of more 
liquid gurgles. Then followed a moment of silence as the 
beakful of berries was swallowed, and the next instant — 
auuuiiuk! auuuuiik! began again. 

If one of the honrly feedings was missed, the young 
toucans went into fits of rage and flung themselves about, 
biting one another or the lining of the artificial nest. Their 
usual position was resting on the heel-pads w^ith the feet and 
toes held up helplessly in mid-air, the wings dangling at the 
sides, the back humped and the bill pointing forward. jNIost 
absurd was the tail, as innocent of feathers as the rest of the 
bird, which was slanted upward and forward until it fairly 
touched the back. When disturbed and nudged, the beak 
was opened, raised oblicjuely, and re])eatedly stabbed up- 
ward with the blind confidence that food would be forth- 
coming from exactly that ])oint in all space. Simultane- 
ously, the tail w^agged vigorously. It is easy to describe the 
separate motions. It is (piite impossible to convey the weird 
nnbirdlike effect of the whole performance. 

The helpless condition of the feet was the most inex- 
plicable thing about these birds. They invariably rested on 
the hind part of the body and on the two heel-pads, a tri- 



204 TROPICAL \\ILD LIFE IX HUrriSII (.LIANA 






FIG 58. HEEL-PAD OF TEN-DAY-OLD ARACARI TOUCAN 
a. Side view of pad on left leg. 6. Bottom view of left pad. c. Bottom view of right pad. 



podal ])ositioii from wliicli it was impossible to shift them. 
They absohitely refused to make any use of the feet or toes. 
Indeed, any considerable change of position was impossible, 
the patagium or web of skin between the tibia and the tarsus 
being stretched at such tension that the leg could not be 
extended more than at a right angle or a little over ninety 
degrees. 

While the nestling hoatzin is a true quadruped, the 
young toucan is just as certainly a tripod, at least during 
the first weeks of its existence. 

On the day I secured the two birds I estimated their 
age at about ten days. There was little or no difference in 
size between them. One which I kept under close observa- 
tion showed almost no hint of the coloring of the adult. 
The mandibles were dark slaty horn color along the u])])er 
and basal margins, paling toward the cutting edges and at 
the tip to a light yellow. 

The bare, wrinkled skin of the body was i^inkish flesh 
with tlie feather tracts showing leaden blue. The feet and 
legs were bright yellowish green. The skin-covered sheaths 



HOMES OF rorcANs 



•205 






FIG. 59. HEEL-PAD OF SEVENTEEN-DAY-OLD ARACARI TOUCAN 
a. Side view of pad of left leg. b. Bottom view of left pad. c. Bottom view of liKht pad. 



of the body feathers were bhiish with the exception of those 
of the iinde]* parts. At a point half way down the neck, the 
feather tract bifin-cated, one of these pectoral branches end- 
ins beneath the win": and the other continuino- down the 
inside of the thighs. I mention these because of their pale 
yellow pigment, prophetic of the adult coloration. A hint of 
red pigment was visible on the breast feathers, correspond- 
ing, however, only to the half-concealed line of scarlet 
which, in the full-grown birds, lies between the black and 
yellow of the under parts. There was no trace in the nest- 
ling of the very conspicuous scarlet belly band and the patch 
of the same color on the lower back. These are characters 
which have evidently been evolved rather recently. 

Ten primaries were well sj^routed, the 1st much the 
shortest, the 6th longest, although the :3rd, 4th, .5th and 6th 
were of ahnost equal length (1st, 7 nmi. ; 6th, 18 mm.). 
There were fourteen remaining flight feathers grading in 
size from the outer secondary inward (outer, 14 mm.; inner, 
the 24th, 2 mm.). The secondaries were vmiformly stouter 
than the primaries. The coverts were short, not projecting 



206 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

beyond the hinder edge of the wings. The pelvic wing ' 
was well marked, and extended from the anterior border 
of the thigh back almost across the pataginm. It consisted 
of eighteen feathers in an ascending line. The 2nd to the 
10th had lower coverts, eight in all. 

Five pairs of tail feathers were well developed, and at 
first glance there seemed to be only four pairs of upper co- 
verts. Closer observation showed a tiny fiftli pair. The 
coverts had been pushed up until the two central ])airs of tail 
feathers seemed to be quite covertless. 

I have mentioned the heel pad at the ankle joint. This 
is a serrated or more properly, toothed pad of horn, capping 
the joint between the tibio-tarsus and the tarso-metatarsus. 
It fits like the elbow pad of a football player, and during 
the period when the feet are helpless, it serves as a secondary 
set of toes, on which the nestling can rest, and awkwardly 
stump about the nest cavity. 

As the egg-tooth of the common chick and indeed of 
tlie toucans as well, is a purely embryonic character, so this 
lieel-pad is wholly concerned with the nestling period. It 
has been briefly described in other birds such as wood- 
peckers. ' 

Tlie pad is roughly oval and in general appearance re- 
calls the molar tooth of an elephant. The cusps are variable, 
there being twelve on the left pad and eleven on the right. 
The rim of the structure is pale bluish. The bases of the 
cusps are yellow, while the face of the large anterior cusps 
is very hard and pigmented with brownish black. It is re- 
markable how close the resemblance is to blunt claws or 
actual teetli. The two anterior ones have sharp, projecting 
cutting edges which catch and hold anytliing which touches 
them. 



* Vide "A T(tr;i])tcr\\ Sl;ig<- in llir Aiiccstrv of Hinis," Bccl)c, 'Aonhfjlra. 
II. 101.5, i)p. :}<»-5J. 

^ Proc. Zoni. Soc. [.oiidoii. I'M'A, ])]>. I ()!»;,- lOiXi. 



HO.MKS OI' 'I'orCANS 2.0T 

Tlie eyes, at this sta<4'e, are liai'dly ()i)eii, l)eiii<>' mere wa- 
tery slits. Tlie cutting e(l<4'e of tlie inandihles is sti"ai<4ht for 
tliree-fourtlis of tlie entire len«^tli, when it eui'ves abruptly 
downward. This is \vv\ utdike tlie t^i'adual downward curve 
alon^- the entii'e U'li^L'th of Ihc niandihlc which is sliown in 
the hill of the old bird. 

One of the y()un<>' toucans was kept for two weeks, until 
the feathei's had broken well out of theii- sheaths. Another 
year, when the intermediate sta<>es are obtained, both of 
embryos and flcdohnos, wc may hope to <>lean some real 
li<^ht on the ancestry of these remai-kable bii-ds. 



SUJ.l'li L' H-AXD- W lilTE- BREASTED TOUCAN 

lilt (I III pit a.s'fos vitellinus 

Mj^ experience with the nesting history of this splendid 
toucan, the fifth and last species which we observed, was 
rather an anti-climax to the success which crowned our work 
with the preceding species. 

I was in the nu'dst of the jungle on the 19th day of 
JNIay, watching a yellow-billed jacamar hawking after in- 
sects from a monkey-ladder, when my glance went upward 
to a patch of sky across the brilliant sunshine of which a 
deluge of rain drops seemed to be ])ouring. Another glance 
told me it was a cloud of winged ants, and soon I saw the 
sharply defined limits of the swarm, myriads upon myriads 
of the insects drifting like motes through the upper reaches 
of the jungle. 

My ear was next assailed by a subdued, raucous sound, 
a sound strangly familiar. It was some minutes before I 
coidd recall where I had heard this, but at last the memory 
of the two young toucans, which we had kept at Kalacoon, 
came vividly to mind. Two weeks before, they had sriven 
us no peace and none of us was likely to forget that irritat- 
ing eruption of sound which scarcely ceased day or nioht. 
Another voice now joined in and I knew I was listening to 





FIG. 60. LEFT HEEL-PAD OF TEN-DAY-OLD ARACARl TOUCAN, SHOWING 
RELATION TO LEG AND TARSUS 



IlOMl'.S Ol' rOlC'ANS 209 

the hunger eries of a pair of nestling toueans, hidden in some 
hollow high ovei'head. 

Fifteen nn'nntes passed hefore a tonean appeared, a big 
sulphur-and-M'hite-breasted one, who instantly diseovered 
me, scolded for a minute and vanished. Hefore the morning 
passed, a troop of red howling monkeys made their way leis- 
urely along the topmost branches. Hoth toucans api)eared 
and mobbed the monkeys, following them for some distance. 
I got no clue, for any momentary delay on the part of a 
monkey appeared to arouse the same anxiety in an\' one 
of a half dozen great trees. 

On the following day we came with three Indian axe- 
men. Guided by the cries we chose a tree and felled it, but 
the several hollows contained nothing more exciting than 
giant tree crickets and equally huge grubs of rhinoceros 
beetles. The voices of the young birds had ceased at the 
first axe stroke, so we had no fin-ther guidance. A second 
tree yielded nothing, and we WTre forced to desist, for the 
mass of tangled branches and lianas made all movement 
impossible. The jungle kept this secret inviolate from us. 




Photo by f. a. II. 
FIG. 61. MID-JUNGLE HIDING UNDISCOVERED NEST OF SULPHUR-AND- 
WHITE-BREASTED TOUCAN 



CHAPTER XI 11 

OUX ITliUJ.OCUCAl, J)1SL'UVERIES 

Bif WiUidiu Ih'chc (uul G. hnwss- Hartley 

In the course of our season's search for the young hirds 
which wc required for certain j)r()l)lenis, we came across 
many interesting nests. Some were of unusual arcliitec- 
tural construction, others were remai'kahle because of their 
adaptive form or coloring, still others possessed the distinc- 
tion of being undescribed, quite new to man's scientific rec- 
ord. The majority of the notes made upon all of these 
classes have been filed aw^aiting publication when further 
details and more complete information as to their method 
of construction or reason for requiring protection, are 
secured. 

It seems desirable to record the nests and eggs which 
have not heretofore been described or are almost unknown, 
especially as I am able to supplement the descriptions witli 
photograjihs. The species are as follows : 

Talpacoti Ground Dove Chaemepelia talpacoti (Temm. & Knip.) 

Red Mountain Dove Geotry(ion montana (Linn.) 

White-necked Crake Porzana (ilbicoliin Virill. 

Cayenne Crake Creciscus viridis (P. L. S. Miill.) 

Dusky Niglithawk Caprimulgus nigrescens Cab. 

Guiana Tyrantlet Tyrannisrus arer (Salv. & God.) 

Oily Flycatcher Mionecies oleagineiis oleayineus (I.icht.) 

Varied Flycatcher Empidonomus varius varius (Vieill.) 

Cinereous Bushbird J'hamnomanes caesium glaucus Cab. 

Rufous-fronted Antcatcher Anoplops rufigula rufiguln (Bodd.) 

Quadrille-bird Leuroleitm mtmica muska (Bodd.) 

Orange-headed Manakin Pi pra atii-eola aureola (Linn.) 

Brown-breasted Pygmy 

Grosbeak Oryzohorus angolensis hrevirostrls (Berlepsch) 

Chestnut-bellied Seedeater Sporophila castaneiventris Cab. 

Black-headed Seedeater Sporophila bouvronides (Less.) 

Blue Honey-Creeper Cyanerpes cyaneus cyaneuft (Linn.) 

Moriche Oriole Icterus chrysocephalus (Linn.) 




> 

o 

Q 
Q 

O 

Oi 

o 

H 
O 

o 
< 

< 



w 
O 
O 

a 

a 
z 

< 

H 

H 
Z 



ORNITHOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES 21. 'i 

TALPACOTI GROUND DOVE, 

Chaemepdia talpacoti (Teinni. k Kiii]).) 

We found the nests of this common Httle ground dove 
usually in low hushes, seldom more than six feet from the 
ground. The nest was nothing more than a thin platform 
of small twigs or grass stems, varying according to the indi- 
vidual. It had no true inner lining hut the material for the 
nest hollow graded in fineness. The whole structure was 
about 10 cm. long, and the slight depression for the eggs 
2 cm. deep. 

The two eggs were pure glossy white with measure- 
ments averaging 22.5 x 18 mm. Two was the usual normal 
number, but one and verv rarelv three were found in a nest. 
It was one of the commonest nests to be discovered during 
the months of February, INIarch and April, and seemed espe- 
cially marked as a prey for nest ravagers. Not more than 
half the young ever reached maturity, which made it very 
probable that the parents raised more than one brood a year. 

RED MOUNTAIN DOVE. 

Geotrygon mmifana. (T^inn.) 

Though one of the common jungle residents, the red 
mountain dove was seldom seen, for it merged so completely 
with its surroundings that one passed it by, time after time, 
without ever knowing that such a bird existed. If it were 
discovered, careful watch had to be kept or it would seem- 
ingly disappear where it sat. The nest was equally difficult 
to find and usually covdd only be discovered by frightening 
the bird from the eggs. If it thought there were a chance 
to escape undetected, the parent would quietly slip from the 
nest to the ground, run a few steps and noiselessly flutter 
to a protecting branch without the hunter being aware of 
its presence. 

The nests were built away from the ground, the dis- 
tance varying from a foot to five feet. The bird usually 




Pholo by P. G. H. 



FIG. 63. NEST AND EGGS OF WHITE-NECKED CRAKE 



ORNITHOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES 215 

selected the head of an old rotted stump or the fork of a 
low outhaiioirig branch, or possibly the horizontal surface 
of an old onarled liana that ran close to the ground. The 
nest itself was a concave ])hitforni of twifj^s lined with leaves 
on which rested the two dai-k, cream-colored e<»'gs. The nest 
in the accompanying illustration (Fig. 62) was lined in tlic 
same way, but some of the leaves were green and IVcshly 
picked so that the whole structure had an effect of not exist- 
ing at all in the green mass of foliage that grew around it. 
Tile liahit of mingling green leaves with brown was doubly 
significant from the fact that other nests found on stumps 
and lianas, where there was no surrounding green, were 
lined only with dead brown leaves which made tliem just as 
hard to see in their individual locality. The coloring of the 
eggs was no aid, for they nearly matched the leaves on which 
they lay. 

The main nesting season was during the months of 
April and May, though it possibly commenced earlier. The 
average measurements of the eggs were 26.5 x 19.5 mm. 

WHITE-NECKED CRAKE. 

Porzana (dhicollis Vieill. 

Many nests of this species were brought in by coolies 
who were clearing the grass from among the trees of the 
rubber estate. They were always placed on the ground be- 
tween clumps of the tough savannah grass and often near 
the base of an old stump that survived as a memory of for- 
mer forest days, sheltered by its projecting roots. The nest 
was a large open bowl-shaped affair built entirely of coarse 
dried savannah grass roughly woven together with perhaps 
a few dead rubber leaves to strengthen the weak places. It 
was about 20 cm. in diameter by 10 cm. high, the nesting 
cup being 10 cm. wide and 5 cm. deep. 

The number of eggs, in the dozen or more sets exam- 
ined, varied from two to three, though it has been said that 



216 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

the bird sometimes lays as many as six eggs. There was 
great variation in size and shape, some behig long, oval 
and sharply pointed at the small end, while others were 
mueh shorter and nearly round. The range of variation was 
about 12 per cent. The ground color also varied from a 
light pinkish cream to almost white, with the large end usu- 
ally heavily marked with fine spots of chocolate brown and 
lilac grey. The lighter eggs as a rule had fewer spots sparse- 
ly scattered over the Avhole surface. Some few had no spots 
at all and were hard to distinguish from the following spe- 
cies. The average measurements were 34 x 26 mm. 

The nesting season was at its height in ^lay, though 
eggs were brought to us from February to Jvdy. It is prob- 
able that some nests could be found during every month of 
the year. 

CAYENNE CRAKE 

Creciscus viridis. (P. L. S. JNIiiller) 

The home of this exceedingly tame little rail differed 
greatly from the one just described. It was round and 
looked like a large baseball, from which the cover had been 
torn to show the weaving of the threads, hanging among 
the reeds or low bushes in overgrown clearings. The rather 
large entrance was on the side beneath the domed roof, and 
the walls were woven around the several thick stems that 
sup])()rted the nest. The bird used much the same material 
in construction as did P. alhicollis — grass blades, leaves and a 
few weed stems, but the nest was a much stronger and more 
skillful piece of engineering. It measured about 20 cm. in 
diameter with a depth in the inner cup of about 6 cm. 

The Cayenne crake remained on the nest until tlie 
searcher was within a few feet, and, if it tliought it had not 
been oljserved, would remain until the nest had been touclied. 
Then tliere was a quick flash of bright red legs and the bird 
disa])peared into tlie surrounding cover. AVliile it remained 
on tlie nest tilling the opening, it so blended in coloi- with 



ORi\i'i"iioi.()C".rcAT. nrscovKiuKs 



217 




FIG. 64. NEST AND EGGS OF CAYENNE CRAKE 



the grass that no entrance conld he seen and the whole affair 
looked like an ordinary ball of dried material that had 
chanced to lodge among the reed stems. Upon its disap- 
pearance, however, the white of the eggs in the light of the 
entrance made a guiding mark for the observer. 

The eggs, as in the former species, varied nnich in size 
and shape, but were rather glossy pure white without any 
spots. The average dimensions were 32.8 x 25.7 mm., 
though, among the several sets examined, there was a varia- 
tion of 11 per cent. The number in each set was two to three, 
three being the usual number. 

We secured nests from February to August, but May 
was the chief nesting month. Probal)ly a few birds nest 
throughout the wdiole year. 




FIG. 65. EGG OF DUSKY NIGHTHAWK 



/'//../., /,;, /■ (, //. 



ORNITHOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES 219 

DUSKY NICillTIIAWK 

Caprimuh/iifi nif/rcsrcns. Cab. 

Like otlier members of its family tlie diiskv iiiM'htliawk 
laid its one G(y<r on the ground. It was naturally a bird of 
the forest, wliere, from time to time, it flushed almost from 
under one's feet, but it also took advantage of the work of 
man and could be seen in tlie overgrown Indian clearings 
hiding among the rank weeds that grew there. When 
frightened from its effir it limped away like many another 
species and crouched in a conveniently exposed spot to at- 
tract the attention of the hunter to itself and from its home. 
Even then the bird was hard to see, for no matter where it 
rested, the outlines of the body melted into the surround- 
ings. The egg, if anything, was still harder to detect, and 
our experienced hunter often searched for many minutes be- 
fore he succeeded in locating it. Though there was no nest 
built one could sometimes find the egg by looking for a faint 
ring of smooth earth which had been swept clean of fine 
debris by the movements of the sitting bird. 

A well incubated egg was discovered on April 26, near 
a trail that led to the jungle through an old, bm-nt-over clear- 
ing. Both parents were there close together, one crouching 
on the egg and the other a few feet away. I picked up the 
egg, examined it and placed it back in the same position, 
with the idea of returning soon to take it. Two days later 
I visited the same spot and again flushed the two parents, 
but at first could not find the egg though its position had 
been marked. It seemed to have disappeared, but a pro- 
longed search at last located two lichened pieces of w^ood 
about a yard away. One proved to be the egg, the parents 
evidently having moved it. The lichen acted as a counter 
imitation of the markings of the shell. 

The ground color was a light pinkish buff, sparsely 
covered with scrawled blotches of chocolate brown, which 




Phiiti) bii P. G. II. 



FIG. 66. NEST OF GUIANA TYKANTLET 



()HM'I'II()I.()(,I( AI. I)IS(()\'1:HM'S 221 

overlaid larger spots of greyish purple and lilac. Tlie ineas- 
iirements were 2(5. .) x ]9 mm. 



GUIANA TYRANTLE'r 

TyraniUHcus accr (Sah. ik (iod.) 

1 had returned front a hai'd walk in search of trumpeter 
chicks — in vain, and liad been strai(»htway recompensed by 
the discovery of tlie nest of a sunhittern, and tlie Hat ])lat- 
form and sinole white egg of a splendid pigeon. The day's 
work seemed ended, and 1 lay on my l)ack w^aiting for the 
dugout to return from a trip up river. Idly 1 watched a 
tiny bird — a flycatcher — flitting a})out high overhead, in the 
very summit of a mango tree. Presently it dived into a 
bunch of moss, one of a dozen on some dead branches, but 
did not immediately appear again. I waited and still it 
remained invisible. From a condition of lazy inattentive- 
ness, I sat up, imbued with concentrated interest, and felt 
for mv glasses, mv eves never leaving the tuft of moss. The 
closest scrutiny revealed nothing, and I w^as half tempted 
to believe that the bird had ehided me. But the insatiable, 
inexplicable will-to-learn, the fluid life, as Bergson would 
have it, overcame the sloth of the material body, and up I 
went. I climbed swiftly, so that I might keej) beyond the 
ever-increasing area of irate ants, and finally touched the 
branch. ]My flycatcher shot out, and raising his diminutive 
crest, scolded me roundlv for mv unw^arranted intrusion. 
The nest w^as most ingeniously hidden and I coidd not find 
the entrance until I had carried it to the ground and exam- 
ined it carefullv. The owner w^as a Guiana tvrantlet, one 
of the most inconspicuous of his great flycatcher family, and 
one of the smallest, less than four inches in length. He was 
olive and grey, with his wing feathers touched with yellow; 
and his voice was sharp, unmelodious, and several sizes too 
large. 




FIG. 67. NEST OF OILY FLYCATCHER 



()l{\I'l'II()l.()(il(AI, I)IS(()\i:UIKS 2'2'.i 

But wluit lu lacked in sj)len(l()i- of ,L>arl) and sweetness 
of tone was more tluin coni2)ensate(l by liis skill in arelii- 
teeture. 

The nest was eoniposed ehicHy of I'lesli growing- moss 
intermixed with tlie green calyxes of mango blossoms. 'I'he 
whole was bound together with interwoven tendrils of young 
vines. The interior lining of the dee]) eup was made u|) of 
five consecutive layers of matei'ial, making with the bird on 
the nest, an absolutely watei'proof pocket. 'J'he outer layer 
was of coarse fibre, the second of animal hair, the third of 
wild cotton, the fourth of animal hair, and the fifth, the inner, 
of wild cotton. The inner layer was very thick and at the 
bottom formed an exce])tionally soft bed for the eggs. 

The outside diameter of the nest was 10 cm., with a 
depth of 8 cm. The interior cuj) was 4 cm. in diameter at 
the top, by 6 cm. deep. 

The two, small, dull-white eggs were rather heavily 
marked at the larger end with small spots of chestnut, under- 
laid with specks of lilac, the tendency being to form a ring. 
A few tiny specks wxre scattered over the entire shell, but 
were so small as to be scarcely noticeable. The shell was 
very thin. The two eggs averaged 16 by 12. .5 mm. 

OILY FLYCATCHER 

Mionectcs oleayineus oleagineus (Licht.) 

The nest of this species was really a duplicate of other 
forest flycatcher hangnests — Colopterus, lihynchocijclus and 
probably many others w'hose nests are unknowiL Hanging 
from small vines in the densest forest, usually close to the 
ground, it looked like some large, mossy, cornucopia-shaped 
fruit, fastened pear-like by its little end. The entrance, near 
the bottom and to one side, was hidden from sight of the 
casual observer, by overhanging tendrils of living moss 
which acted effectively as a curtain. I "pon entering its home 
the bird found itself in a narrow, upward slanting tunnel 



224 TROPTCAT. Wir.T) T.TFK TN 7UHTTSH GUIANA 

tluit led to a hole in the roof of the eave in wliieh rested the 
egfts. It was necessary for her to ])ush throu<^h this open- 
ing and to drop gently, with the utmost care, upon the eggs 
below. The parent was then within a tiny cup of a room 
whose walls were thickly lined with soft hair, backed by 
fine shreds of jungle bark. 

The body of the nest was. composed entirely of living 
tree moss skillfully woven together to form a waterproof 
mass. Scattered through this were a few small roots and 
strips of bark to give stiffening to the structure. The inner 
lining was composed entirely of this material, closely packed 
together until it formed a soft and impenetrable mat. With- 
in this was the lining of animal hair, thicker at the bottom, 
upon which the two or three white eggs were deposited. The 
whole nest was about 30 cm. high and 13 cm. wide at the 
bottom. The entire interior room had a depth of 9 cm., but 
the nest cuj) proper was only 5 cm. deep with a diameter 
of 4 cm. 

When placed very low in the undergrowth the nest of 
the oilv fivcatcher was very hard to find. It agreed so thor- 
oughly with its surroundings in the dull jungle twilight that 
one would pass it by again and again without noticing the 
outlines against the dark green background, or, if seen, it 
would be taken for an over-large, naturally drooping bunch 
of moss. 

The first nest I discovered was hanging from a small 
liana about 18 inches from the ground in a dark thicket. My 
knee accidentally struck against it, but I would have passed 
on without noticing if the mother bird, startled, had not 
flown up, seemingly, from beneath my feet. I cautiously 
moved back behind a conveniently thick bush not ten feet 
away and waited for her to return. She did so in a very 
few minutes and quickly disappeared into the hidden tunnel 
of her home. A few quick steps, and with my hand over 
the hole she was my prisoner. This occurred on the last day 
of March. 



ORNITIIOLOGICAI. DISCOVKR IKS 225 

There were three e,i>;i;s in the iie.sU all of a dull gloss- 
less white, and rathei- ])()iiite(l at one end. Tlie sliells were 
thin and had small striations oi- eorrun-atioiis riinnin*^- from 
the ini(hlle to the small end. They measured 21 x 14.5; 21 
X 14. .5; 20 X 14.5 mm. 

VARIED STllEAKEU EJ.VeAl'ellER 

Ein])i(I()ii()nni.s varius variiis ( Vieillot) 

Tlioui^h the ei>gs of this speeies have been eolleeted, no 
deseription of the nest has been oiven. The genus Kiiipi- 
donoiuus is very elosely allied to Tijranuus, so one would 
expeet eorresponding nests. They proved to be somewhat 
similar, but the nest of Tyratiniis thougli rather a shab])y 
affair, was much more specialized than that of the bird in 
(piestion. In Tyrannus the nest hollow was cup-shaped and 
well lined with grass, and the whole structure was more 
skillfully put together with a more careful gradation of 
material. 

A nest of the varied flycatcher was taken on April 20, 
from one of the outer branches of a small dead guava tree. 
At first sight it appeared to be merely a weak flimsy plat- 
form of twigs fashioned like the nest of a dove and placed 
in an exposed position. If the parent birds had not been 
seen, it mioht easily have been taken for the nest of a dove. 
It was built in a small fork and was partly supported by a 
dead branch that grew close by. Every puff of wind caused 
it to sway and shake, and it was difficult to believe that it 
would not soon fall to pieces. The basic material was small 
twigs and vine stems. In the center was a shallow depres- 
sion for the eggs, which was lined sparsely with coarse stems 
of a common weed that grew hereabouts. The depth of the 
depression was 2 cm. and the whole platform was 13 cm. in 
diameter, by 8 cm. in height. 

There were two eggs in the nest, one of which was in- 
fertile. ]Measin*ements averaged 28 x 16 mm. 




oa 

B 

X 

w 

o 
a 

a 

O 






a 
z 

73 



OHNITIIOIOCK AI. I ) IS( OX' 1', H I KS 2"2T 

CINKKKOUS 15USH15IK1) 

Thdiiuioniancs cacshi.s ylaucii.s Cab. 

Tlic cinereous buslibfi'd, tlioiioli one of the coininoiiest 
inliabitants of the (iiiiana /)imok', like many otliers of its 
kindred is but h'ttk' known. It liad no pai'tieular ])vl-\'- 
erenee of h)eality but eoukl be heard a(l(h'n_L>' its xoiee to the 
general eliorns in any of the small croups of ant-lhnishes 
that eontinuallv worked their way throu<'h tlie iunu'le. l)ur- 
ini^' the nesting season — from February to May — each ])aii- 
selected a certain portion of the forest undergrowth and 
floor for the home site and hunting gi-ound. A\ this time 
they ilid not greatly mind the ifu-oads of othei- bii-ds on theii- 
])ro])ei-ty and at the voices of a ])assing company would 
occasionally join in and follow for some distance, but the 
approach of man was hailed with shrill cries of alaini, an 
angry flutter of wings, and a fierce sna])})ing of bills. Their 
food consisted entirely of insects — chiefly ants and beetles. 

Judging from the number of nests found in March and 
April it would seem as if these were the two main nesting 
months. The nests were placed in the forks of low bushes, 
usually in the densest jungle and seldom more than five feet 
from the ground. They were bowl-shaped and open, but 
always protected by a roof of dried leaves ])lace(l across the 
branches six inches above. 

The nest itself w^as composed entirely of more or less 
rotted leaves, held together by a few hiw root fibres. It 
was lined with fresh dried leaves and often with a very thin 
lining of the finest roots. The whole structure had a very 
flimsy appearance, and looked like a plain mass of leaves 
accidentally collected in a low bush. The outside diameter 
was about 11 cm., but the interior cup was only (> cm. across 
at the top and 4.5 cm. deep. 

The birds sometimes gathered their building material 
a hundred yards or more from the nest. It was interesting 
to w^atch them carefully select a leaf from the thousands 



228 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




I'IidIij In) ii . /;. 
FIG. 69. NESTING STUB OF RUFOUS-FRONTED ANTCATCHER 

that lav about. They would fly to the nearest loo- with it 
in their bill, and pound it agahist the hard wood until it 
became pliable and suitable for building purposes. Then 
it was a matter of but a few moments to carry it to the nest, 
place it and return for more. 

The two eggs were a very pale pinkish white, thickly 
covered at the larger end with brick red, hessian brown and 
lilac blotches which were scattered more sparsely at the 
smaller end. The measurements of two were 20 x 15; 21 x 
15 mm. 



RUFOUS-FKONTED ANTCATCHER 

Anoplops rufiyuld rufigula (liodd.) 

I had been milling in the depths of the jungle for many 
minutes, around and around a tangle of lianas whicli a great 



ORNTTIIOT-OCilCAI. DTSrOVKIUKS l>2!) 

fallen tree liad broiiglit down from the upper reaehes. A 
nestlini>- had eluded me and now a sudden mid-day down- 
pour (h'ove me to the sheltered side of a smooth-barked tree, 
a tree whieh leaned just enouoh to give me a dry roof. As 
not a livinf>' thing was visible I sought in my game bag for 
sundry reading matter on the adventitious magazine leaves 
whieh 1 earried for wrapping up bii'ds. I ciijoyed five min- 
utes of a dam]), but delightful review, by Lawrence Gilman 
of the "Research ^Magnificent." Then the sun burst out and 
illunu'nated every falling drop. 

I stepped forth upon the drenched moss, and as I turned 
to regain the animal trail T had been following, my eye 
caught a glint of white, and decj) in a broken hollow stub 
were two white eggs, white with a heavy coating of s])ots 
and splashes. They were dry, but thei-e was no trace of 
owner, nor in the succeeding ten mimites did any bird ap- 
pear. I left at once — blazing the trees as I went. This 
was on June 23, and it was not until five days later that we 
saw the bird and knew it for a rufous-fronted antcatcher. 

Com])letely concealed behind a clump of bushes a])out 
twenty feet distant, a half hour's patience was needed before 
the brown parent appeared flitting through the underbrush 
close to the ground, clinging always to upright stems, and 
circling warily about the nest. A single movement fright- 
ened it away, and another half hour passed before it again 
was seen. When secured it proved to be a male bird. It 
was an inconspicuous seal-brown above and dark huffy be- 
low with a rich rufous orange throat. The most obvious char- 
acter was the fleshy, prominent eye ring, these bluish- white 
areas of skin being quite dominant both in front and profile. 
The nest on June 28, contained a single addled egg and 
a nestling about a day old. The dead and broken stub was 
about six inches in diameter and three feet in height. It 
was hollow from the top down to the nest which was placed 
about nine inches from the groimd, just below the opening 



2;}() TROPICAL WILD LIFK IX BIUTISH GUIANA 




FIG. 70. NEST AND EGG OF RUFOUS-FRONTED ANTCATCHER 



of the stump. Tlie ucst wa.s a little eoneave affair of small 
twi^i^s and vine stems, and lined with a few pieces of coarse 
Hhre. It was only ahoiit three inches in diameter. As we 
looked into the cavity we could see the one light egg and a 
I'onnd wliite cii'cle, which u])()u closer (^xan)ination proved to 
be the border of the gaping mouth of the young bird. 



()R\rriioi.()(;i(Ai. disc ()\i:ini:s -im 

The ei>;i>' was ol' a wai'iii pinkish <4r()iiii(l t-olor. witli iiu- 
iiRTous (hislics. spots and l)l()tc'lR's of ])nri)hsli red, hlac and 
lake, the hirgest spots at the lar<^'e end, and only smaller 
dots heyond the middle, although these reaehed s])arin<^ly 
the small end. It measured 21. .3 x 17 mm., and weighed 
three arams. 






The nestling was leaden l)rown. with eyes and wing 
tracts hlaek; the hill hlaek with enormous, milk-white lateral 
jowls, in width more than twice the length of the hill. 'I'he 
femoral tract showed two rows of feathers, eight flights and 
five coverts, extending at right angles to the femur. The 
inside of the mouth was hright lemon vellow, with a milk- 
white border. The nestling uttered a weak but penetrating 
squeak. 

The region around the eve in the adult was bare, swol- 
leu and pale bluish-white, becoming quite blue alxne the ear, 
w^here it merged with the brown feathers. The mandibles 
were black, paler at the tips; the legs and feet W'Cre pale 
pinkish white. 















Middle toe 




Woijiht 


I.eiigtli 


Wing 


Tail 


Bill 


Tarsus & claw 


Adult male 


29 grams 


loOmin. 


78 


50 


19 


27 24 


>restling 


2.5 grams 


•tJ-mm. 


6.5 


— 


6 


8.5 7 



QUADRILLE-BIRD 

Leiicolcpia tniisica mufiica (Bodd.) 

t 

I had been crouching, well hidden, for over fifteen min- 
utes watching the antics of a fiock of black-headed cacique 
parrots {Pionifcs melanoccphala) , feeding noisily high up 
in the top of a great jungle tree on the big sunflower-shaped 
fruit that hung there, when, from a little beyond, there was 
a great shaking of branches and a single red howler came 
sw^inging along, first with a scramble out onto an overhang- 
ing branch, then a junq) through mid-air, a hasty grasp at 
rapidly passing twigs with hand or tail, another scramble, 
a short run, and then one more jump. This rapid transit 
soon brought him to the now silent parrot tree up which he 




/ 



M 




I'holu by I'. G. //. 



FIG. 71. NEST AND EGGS OF QUADRILLE- BIRD 



ORNITHOLOGICAL Dl:>euVERIES -23:3 

climbed with most amazing speed. The little parrots gazed 
silentlv down at him with twistino^ necks and with lonoTjior 
last looks at the luscious meal they must now forsake, they 
flew screaming away. 

I placed my hand against a small sapling to steadv 
myself . while watching fiu-ther developments, and carelessly 
gave it a little shake. The flash of a tiny pair of wings al- 
most in my face was the result, and the view of a httle brown 
bird as it rapidly disappeared into the undergrowth. I 
looked at the sapling and saw a small bundle of leaves rest- 
ing upon a small branch about foiu- feet from the ground. 
It had passed imnoticed in the excitement of watching the 
parrots and the monkey. Then from the bushes came a few 
cheerful notes from the most wonderful musical instrument 
of all. the throat of the quadrille-bird and I felt that I really 
had discovered somethinor worth while. 

As my hiding place was too close to the nest. I chose 
another position and sat down to aivait what w^ould happen. 
From behind a friendly screening bush the nest looked like a 
leafy vase held by a twist of the funnel-shaped neck over a 
supporting branch. The wily little bird was fully two hours 
in making up its mind to enter its curious home, but it could 
be seen dodging in and out among the bushes close by, al- 
ways too warv to take anv chances while the enemv was 

• • • • 

about. It did not scold as they usually do, but every few 
minutes biu^ into song as if thus to find a vent for its in- 
creasing excitement. Finallv. about noon, when a heaw 
shower of rain commenced, it entered to protect the eggs 
from a wetting. 

The nest was composed almost entirely of leaf skele- 
tons bound tightly together with fine fibres and a few blades 
of coarse grass. The entrance passage was quite large and 
opened upon the small inner cavity near the top. The cavitr 
in which the eggs lay, was lined with several big feathers 
of the large Guiana great tinamou and the Guiana partridge. 



234 TROPICAL WWA) LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

The whole sti-iieture was very eoiiipact and neatly put to- 
o-ether, the leaf veins ^'iving it a very strange appearanee. 

The two tVesh eggs wei-e j)iire white with little gloss. 
Their dimensions were 22 x lo..) mm. 

The nest was found on July .5, at the height of the great 
rainy season. 1 think it i)rol)al)le that thev nest twice a year 
as several newly vacated nests, apparently of this species, 
were found during JNlarch. 

OKANCiK-IIKADEJ) M ANAK IX 

Pipra aureola aureola (Linn.) 

These charming little hirds were ahundant, and often 
seen in the jungle, either in pairs or in company with small 
flocks of other birds. But their life history as noted in our 
records was as fragmentary as the brief glimpses we had of 
them. Then came a series of lucky birds' nesting days and 
we discovered four nests of the orange-headed manakins. 

The first was close to an animal trail in heavy reedy 
second growth about a mile from Kalacoon. The nest was 
in a small, slender-stemmed bush, only three feet from the 
ground, in the fork of a branch. There were two eggs, and 
as we did not get a chance to secure the female we disturbed 
neither eggs nor nest. 

Three days later the bird left as we approached. Back- 
ing off some distance we squatted and waited for her reap- 
pearance. In five minutes she returned, settled on the nest, 
caught sight of us, and flew up scolding harshly. She was 
imiforiifly dark olive-green, with lighter throat, dark bill, 
and bright red legs and feet. At this moment, without warn- 
ing, a full-grown jaguar rushed us, growling, turning aside 
when about eight feet away, only when we stood up and he 
perceived that w^e were other than deer or whatever jungle 
prey he had evidently expected. After the excitement had 
])asse(l, one of our number shot a bird from near the nest, 
only to And that he had killed a helmeted flycatcher hv mis- 



ORNITFIOI.OfiKAI, DISCOVERIES 2;io 

take. Ultimately the rightful owner returned and was 
secured. 

One egg liad (lisap|)eared. Tlie nest was vireo-like, 
cup-shaped, suspended from the forked twigs. It was not 
very firm, light showing through it everywliere. The mate- 
rial was coarse grasses and tliin rootlets. Cobweb was used 
where the nest was in contact with the twigs, and several 
dead leaves were loosely attached with this material to tlie 
outside of the nest. The diameters of the nest were, 70 mm. 
outside, and 50 mm. inside; the depths, 50 mm. outside, and 
40 inside. 

The t^i^(y measured 21 by 1.5. .5 mm. 'I'he ground color 
was dull yellowish white, with numerous pale brown and lilac 
markings, mostly linear, running lengthways, and more nu- 
merous around the larger end. 

Two days later, on ]March 10, I sat down in a small 
glade near the same animal trail. It was early morning and 
the sun was not near its full strength. I listened to the chirps 
of birds drinking at a black jungle creek near by, and 
w^atched a hummingbird pick cobweb in the intervals of vio- 
lent battle with another species. Then a female manakin 
whirred past and I followed her as she fed on small berries 
near the tops of some saplings. After fifteen minutes of 
this fitful occu])ation she swoo])ed downward, straight to a 
tiny nest wliich to this moment had been invisible to me. 
Here, suspended from a slender fork just over a pool of 
black water she brooded two eggs. 

A w^eek later the young birds hatched, and on ]March 
20, I photographed and examined the three-days-old young. 
One of them, a female, was reddish flesh color, with yellow . 
gape and yellowish brown legs and feet. The eyes and the 
upper surface of the w ings w^ere dark leaden. 

The down was sparse, long and whitish grey in color; 
there was none on the hind leg, but a line of six, strong feath- 
er sheaths with long down attached along the outer aspect of 



'2m 



TROPICA!. WILD LIFE IX BRITISH GUIANA 








-ia 



rich, 1,1) i\ u 

FIG. 72. NEST AND EGG OF ORANGE-HEADED MANAKIN 



Ji. 



the side of the body, with traces of at least three covert 
sheaths. These all lay along the femur. 

Ten primaries were apparent, looking like small, nearly 
straight claws, giving to the posterior side of tlie forewing 
a saw-like appearance. The outer foin* feathers were some- 
what larger and perfectly straight; the succeeding six were 
quite distinct, being curved forward. Only a single claAv- 
like feather tip appeared on the thumb. 

In the crop of the nestling were two kinds of small, 
fleshy seeds, two-inch worms and a small, brilliant green 
beetle. 

A week later, on ^Nlarch 27, I examined the second nest- 
ling, a male. It sat silently crouched far down in tlie nest 
until (h'sturbed when it uttered a slirill chirp. The flight 
feathers wei-e almost full grown, but (juite unbroken from 



OHNITHOIOCirCAI, I) [SCOVKK TKS 23T 

their slieatlis. Kveii a kin^lislR-r does not exhibit sueli long 
continued slieathino-. In the ei-op was a single, sliar])-stud- 
ded, flattened, eireidar seed with tlie Mesh all dissoh e(l away. 

.Mi<l<llf toe 
Lengtli l^ill Wina- Tail 'l";irsiis mikI claw 

:} (la\ nestling :{7 :> !) — 10 7 

Adult 110 10..-, 5^.5 3;^ -20 15 

SEED EATERS 

Whenever one walked throu<>h the cultivated fields near 
(xCorgetoMii or through any of the clearings near the coast 
of Cxuiana, one was invariably surprised at the great number 
of little finches that would start up at his approach. They 
were present in endless numbers wherever the weeds grew 
rank and the crabgrass went to seed, and that was nearly 
everywhere. Perhaps the two most common were the little 
brown-breasted pygmy grosbeak {Oryzohorns angolensis 
hrevirostris) , or twa-twa slave — locally named from its habit 
of accompanying its elder brother, the twa-twa (O. crasm- 
rostris), and the tiny chestnut-bellied seedeater (S porophila 
castaneiventris) . They were usually seen in large flocks. 

Familiarity breeds contempt. There could be no truer 
saying than where these little finches were concerned. In 
spite of diligent search through all the few reports and ex- 
cerpts on the subject, no description of the home or eggs 
of these birds could be found, and yet, in April and May, 
their nests were everywhere. 

We commenced finding nests of the twa-twa slave about 
the middle of ]March. The number gradually increased until 
in ]May one could scarcely walk fifty feet through a clearing 
without seeing one. In June, the number rapidly decreased 
and in July, we saw none. 

The birds usually chose a low bush or stiff weed-stem 
with a fork strong enough to bear the light weight of their 
tiny cup, though one nest was found eight feet from the 
ground on the low branch of a mango tree. The whole 
structure was not more than 10 cm. across and contained a 




I^lioto 1)1/ J'. (I. H. 
FIG. 73. NEST AND EGGS OF BROWN- BREASTED PYGMY GROSBEAK 



ORXITHOI.OCilCAI, nrSCON'Kin KS 2.'}0 

deep cup about (I fin. in (lianictcr hy ."> c-in. (lc(.|). Tlit' 
material used was sui'])risin<^ly uniform in eharaeter, and 
all the Hnelies in one locality seemed to utilize only the one 
kind. It consisted ol* fine weed stems rathei- loosely woven 
together so that li<4ht could be seen through the crevices. 
Xo other interior lining was used. 

The number of eggs varied from two to three, one num- 
ber being as common as the other. Theii- gi'ound color was 
pale l)luish green, thickly covered with lilac and l)r()wn 
blotches, inters})ersed here and there with s{)()ts and streaks 
of black. The shell was very thin and the eggs varied greatly 
in size and shape, some being long and others almost round. 
The average dimensions were 17.5 x 18.5 mm. 

'J'he little chestnut-bellied seedeater [S porophihi cas- 
tancivcntris) , built a larger nest and was not so particular 
abont the material used. It invariably selected a low^ bush 
so that the sitting bird was never more than eighteen inches 
from the gronnd. The nest was perhaps a little better built, 
for the walls were thicker and there was a slight lining of 
finer grass on the inside. Sometiiiies they decorated the 
nest. The top of one found in Georgetown in February was 
covered with white downy cotton obtained from the pods 
of a weed growing nearby. It gave the nest the appearance 
of a white cotton ring hanging in the bush. 

They laid from two to three whitish eggs, thickly s])ot- 
ted with brown and lilac, and more or less covered with fine, 
irregular lines of black. 

A third and rarer finch, and one whose nest and eggs 
has not been described, is the black-headed seedeater, {S pa- 
raph ila hauvranidcs) . They were more rare at Kalacoon than 
the others, but scarcely a day passed that we did not see one 
in the clearing about the house. Finally, about the middle 
of .Time, a pair built a nest on the frond of a young royal 
palm, a few yards from the house and about six feet from 
the ground. It was similar to that of (). hrcvirastris, slightly 
larger and not so deep. Two eggs were laid. 




Photo by I', a. II. 
FIG. 74. NEST AND EGGS OF CHESTNUT-BELLIED SEEDEATER 



OHNITIIOr.OGICAI. I)[S(0\i:i{ I HS 211 

E! ,l^K I lOXKY-C 1{ 1:1: 1'KR 

(\//(Hi('ri)('s cfiducus ('//(Uicii.s (Liim.) 

This graceful ci-eeper riillills all the ideals of one's 
thouiihts of tropieal birds. We know it ehieily as an iiihal)i- 
taiit of the tree-tops and seen against the bright sky it showed 
oidy as a slender, thin-billed, little blaek l)ir(l. Uut when 
we saw it against foliage, its phimage blazed out in all its 
brillianee. ^^'^ith a body seareely four inehes long it glowed 
a bi'illiant pui-ple blue, with feet of scarlet, crown of ]jale 
blue, l)ack and wings of blackest jet, the latter splashed with- 
in by pigment of brightest gold. 

We watched them in the jungle — the bi-illiant cock birds 
and the dull-striped hens of olive green. In early July, they 
came in numbers with the hummingbird hosts to the honey- 
laden blossoms of the cashew trees. 15ut their life other- 
wise remained a mystery until we found a nest on the seven- 
teenth day of July. And both nest and eggs sustained the 
admiration which we felt for the adult blue honey-creepers. 

The nest was a fairy network suspended over the water, 
as thin and evanescent as the shadow of an oriole's pnrse, and 
the eggs were the strangest of all eggs in the world — they 
were hlack. The home of the honey-creepers was delicately 
caught in the base of a great heart-leaf of a water arum, the 
mucka-mucka, beloved of hoatzins, and it swung in every 
breath of air barely four feet above the surface of the river's 
edge. It was exceedingly thin-walled, every detail of the 
eggs and the setting bird being plainly visible. And yet it 
was most dm-able and quite impossible to tear or even appre- 
ciably alter in shape, for it was composed of fine, but very 
strong thread-like rootlets, all of a uniform dark brown or 
black color. The small round opening was at the top, ob- 
liquely facing one side. The nest itself was 17 cm. high, 
and 8 cm. across, while the nest hollow within measured 4 cm. 
in diameter by 7 cm. deep. 

There were two eggs, astonishingly black or pnrple- 



24-2 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




Photo hlj p. a. II. 



FIG. 75. NEST OF BLUE HONEY-CREEPER 



black. Closer examination showed faint traces of the pale 
lavender ground color, distinctly revealed at the small end, 
and in irregular streaks and minute interstices as far as the 
middle of the shell. They measm-ed 20.5 x 14 and 20 x 14 
mm., and were quite fresh. 



ORNITIIOI.OGICAT. DISCOVKRIKS 24-3 

This is the sum of oin- knowledge of the hhie houey- 
cree])t'r, wliosc appearance is such a (leh,i>lit to the eye, and 
whose hahits hut whet the desire to know more of the inti- 
maeies of hi'e of such strange, <>"raceful httle ])ein<4S. 

MORICHE OKIOI.E 

Icterus chrifsoccphdJus (Linn.) 

One of the lirst hirds to greet us at Kahieoon was the 
moriche oriole. Tliese hirds were unusual in their charm, 
for thev were satisfying hoth to the eve and ear. From 

• • cry a. 

dawn until the passing of the swift tropical twilight their 
hlack forms, crowned and shouldered and hooted with gold, 
looped palm with palm, or glanced in the sunlight as they 
sped away to the denser secondgrowth in search of insect 
food. And hardly ever did they perch without giving utter- 
ance to the silvery thread of warbling notes which, while indi- 
vidual and distinctive, yet with no less certainty declared 
their oriole relationship. 

Late in February, upon our arrival at Kalacoon, we 
discovered no less than five nests of this oriole in the single 
royal palm in the compound in front of the house. We soon 
found that only one pair of orioles occupied the tree, and 
each day it became more and more probable that this pair 
was the architect of all five nests. 

Two of the nests were complete and apparent^ several 
months old. Three were unfinished and upon two of these 
we saw the birds working intermittentlv. One of these nests 
contained two eggs, one of which we took as it had apparent- 
ly never been described. 

The nests were placed on the under side between the 
leaflets of one side of the frond, about two feet from the tip. 
Thev were made entirely of shreds of the leaves themselves, 
which the birds tore from a particular frond, a frond which 
throuoh their industry had become almost denuded. The 
green fibre was woven with the bill and the process was not 



TT 'f 




I'holii hi! I'. H. II. 



KIG. 7(;. NKST OF MORICHE ORIOLE 



ORNITHOLOGICAL DLSCONLRIES 245 

a sinij^le one. The nest was a fairly deep cup, held in place 
by the rim and sides being woven into several separate leaf- 
lets. The leaves were split with the bill, and the shreds of 
fibre then woven in and out until the leaf was safely l)ound 
to the side of the nest. In the case of two of the nests the 
sewing was very finely done, not unlike the work of the tailor 
bird of India. The divided row of leaflets formed a per- 
fectly water-proof cover. The entrance to the nest was in- 
variably at the end toward the tiimk of the ])alm. Here a 
pair of leaflets was held slightly apart by a thick mass of 
woven fibres, a thick frame, which also acted as a sort of 
perch or landing stage for the old birds in entering or leaving 
the nest. The nests were of coarse materials outside, but 
lined with very fine, soft shreds. 

The nest with the two eggs when completed, measured, 
outside, 12 cm. in length, 8.2 cm. in diameter and 6.5 in 
depth. Inside it was 8.5 cm. in length, 5.7 cm. in diameter 
and 5 cm. in depth. 

The egg was rather sharply pointed and measured 25 
X 18 mm. Its ground color was creamy white, marked with 
spots and small Ijlotches of various shades of dark brown, 
umber and sepia. These were very sparse about the small 
end and the center, but abundant at the large end, the blotch- 
es forming a rough wreath about it. At this end, too, there 
was a hint, in the faintest markings, of the scrawl-like figures 
so characteristic of the eggs of many orioles. 

On ]March 23, the birds began building still another 
nest, and laid in it before it was quite completed. On April 
28, a young moriche hatched, and for the next two weeks 
both parents kept busy feeding the young bird with insects. 
]Most of these they secured at the blossoming cashew tree. 
While the birds were incubating they were rather silent, 
singing but seldom, and quite wary, slipping away quietly 
whenever we appeared. During the weeks of feeding, how- 
ever, the constant labor was lightened with frequent singing. 



246 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

and both birds became exceedingly tame, quite regardless 
of our near presence. 

On May 15, the young moriche left the nest and with 
the two parents disappeared. No sign of them was seen 
until a month had passed, when on June 14, all three re- 
turned. Within a day or two the old birds began overhaul- 
ing one of the half-finislied nests and soon occupied it. 



CHAPIKR XIV 

YOUNG GKEY-BACKED TllUMrETERS 

The grey-baeked trumpeter {PsopJiia crcpilans) , was 
fairly coiunion in tlie jungle about Kalacoon. About every 
second trip through the woods these birds would either be 
seen or heard. 

I have scanned ornithological literature and have gath- 
ered together all our scanty knowledge concerning these 
interesting birds, and this year I had ho])ed to solve the mys- 
tery of their nests and eggs and young. But in this I was 
only partially successful — the nests and eggs must remain 
unknown until another season, and my monograph of these 
birds will consequently be delayed until then. 

From Cozier, a reliable boviander bird collector, I got 
the following data, the accuracy of which time alone will 
prove. Trumpeters, or warracabras, as they are known 
throughout Guiana, lay two white eggs. They nest in small 
colonies, one nest in each adjoining tree, five or six nests in 
each group. The female takes the young by the wings or back 
and carries them down to the ground. Cozier said he had 
seen this accomplished. The nesting season lasts until June, 
eggs being found as late as that month. The nest is twelve 
to fifteen feet up, well built of twigs and leaves, deeply hol- 
lowed so that the bird sits in it. Both parents share the du- 
ties of incubation, and they will desert neither eggs nor 
young even after being disturbed many times. 

So much for second hand knowledge. The facts I accu- 
mulated at first hand had to do only with the adults and 
young birds. 

Whenever the old birds were alarmed, they would run 
a short distance and then take refuge on low branches, 
mounting thence by easy stages until they were quite near 



24-8 TROPK AI. Wir.l) T.IFK IX liRITISH GUIANA 




FIG. 78. YOUNG TRUMPETERS FOUR DAYS OLD 

the tree-tops. There they would sit and cackle to one an- 
other. If suddenly flushed and terrified they flew at once, 
slanting slowly do^\^lward as their power of flight weakened, 
and then ran rapidly until a good distance away. If ap- 
proached quietly they could he shot on their perches, and 
one shot seldom alarmed the rest. 

Oiu' Indian hunter, in four months' desultory shooting, 
brought in twenty trumpeters from a comparatively restrict- 
ed area. And yet at the end of our stay, there seemed no 
diminution in the number of families or flocks which we ob- 
served from day to day. 

The sexes of these trumpeters showed a pre])()nderance 
of females of about two to one. The food of tliese birds was 
chiefly yegeta])le and exceedingly varied. For instance, the 
crop of one bird contained a thorax of a large, green beetle, 



VOrXd 'I'lUMPKTKHS 249 

and fragments of several small htctles and orange ants, ])e- 
sides numerous red seeds, skins of ])erries and several ehest- 
nut-sluiped, bard, greenish seeds. This was typieal of many 
birds examined, the ])roportion of vegetable to animal mat- 
ter being about eighty to twenty per cent. 

We secured three young birds in the downy stage. One 
of these was about a week old, and was one of four of ecjual 
age, which were in company with three old birds, a male and 
two females. 

On April 21, we secured two very young trum])eters 
about four davs old (Fiu'. 78). These were associated 
with a flock of ten or twelve adults and eight or ten nestling- 
birds, cheeping on the ground in all directions. 

The downy trumpeter had the characteristic shake of 
the head and nervous wing-fla])})ing of the adults. Its note 
was a sharp peep like that of a chick, until called or stroked 
when it changed to a plaintive, sibilant twe, twe, twe, ttce, or 
Avhen more excited, chuivee! chuweel This reminded one of 
the whistling squeak emitted by a rubber doll. 

The chicks roosted at night on the highest perch, and 
during the day preferred always the darkness of the coop 
to the bright light outside where the young curassows and 
guans spent their time. 

^^''hen first placed with these other young birds, the 
downy trumpeter became quite excited, flicked its wings and 
bowed, quite like the old birds of its own species. It could 
not as yet boom, but when greatly agitated, as when caught 
in the hand, it uttered the prolonged cackle of the adults, 
together with the high, shrill note. 

It invariably perched on one foot, and this rested chiefly 
on the middle toe, with the big basal pad behind the perch, 
the central toe cm-led around it, and the other two spread 
laterally along the top. The hind toe was quite useless in 
roosting, being raised high aboAe the perch. 

The pattern of the young trumpeter was very complex 
and whollv unlike that of anv other downv chick with which 



250 



TROPICAT. WTT.D LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




/'/(-,('. /.// )■. I,. II. 



FIG. 79. YOUNG TRUMPETER TWO MONTHS OLD 



I am familiar. (Fig. 77). In a week-old chick the lores, 
sides of the crown, face, chin and throat were dark seal 
brown. The eartuft and two sprouting zones of breast feath- 
ers, jet black. Entire sides of neck and foreneck dark smoky 
browTi. Bellv, abdomen and inner thi^-hs buffv white. 



YOUNG TRUMPETERS 251 

A broad line down tlie center of the crown, splitting 
apart on the hind crown and nape, and coalescing again on 
the hind neck, was pale cinnamon. A complex series of cres- 
cents on the upper and nn'd-hack, two latero-dorsal lines ex- 
tending quite to the tail, and an elaborate pattern on the 
sides of the body and the outer thighs were cinnamon, the 
thigh markings paler, more huffy. 

The background of the lower neck and upper back was 
black. The background of all the remainder of the plumage 
— two lateral crown lines as far back as the lower neck, the 
mid and lower back, rump, sides and outer thighs — all were 
cold, grizzled grey, varying from cinereous to plumbeous. 

The wing feathers, which were sprouting strongly, were 
ahnost concealed by the long, fluffy cinnamon down. This 
down was very evenly distributed on the sprouting barbs, 
each stem of down usually resting firmly on an individual 
barb. Ten primaries were sprouting, slightly longer than 
the secondaries. All ten were black. The 6th was the long- 
est, measuring 61.5 mm. Sixteen secondary flights had 
sprouted, the outer five unusually strong and black in color. 
The 6th w^as slightly tinged with grey, while the succeeding 
ten were wholly grey and diminished rapidly in size, from 
43.5 to 11 mm. 

The iris w^as hazel brown. The bill black with restricted 
areas of ivory white along the cuhnen, lower edge of upper 
and tip of lower mandible. Inside of mouth, pale flesh, ex- 
cept for posterior palate wdiich was black. Legs and feet 
chaetura drab, paler on larger scales, darker on soles. 

When the chick was two months old the down still per- 
sisted on the head, neck and posterior dorsal areas. 

As typical of an adult in full molt, I present the details 
of wings and tail of a bird shot on July 20. 

The three outer primaries were old. 

•ith nearly full-grown. 

5th a quarter grown sheath. 

All the remaining primaries new. 



252 TROPICAL WIM) LIFK IX BRITISH GUIANA 

Secondaries all new, lull-grown, except from the 8th 
inward which were still growing. 

RECTKICES 

Left r, i [i 2 \ 12 3 1. :, Right 

Old New New N'ew New Now New Old New Old 

full- sheath full- ]-'.i 1-3 full- full- 

grown grown grown grown grown grown 



I'^ornnda of tail molt: ^ i o .- 



4 

2- 

C03IPARATIVE MEASUREINIENTS 

Middle 
Weight Length Bill Wing Tail Tarsus Toe and Claw 

5 day chick 78 grams 17G 14 23 — 32.5 32.5 

60 day chick 1 lb. 266 22 107 15 52 46 

Adult 2 lbs. 540 40 270 115 122 95 



CIIAPTKU XV 



THE WAYS OF TINAMOU 



Sonic (lay an entire volunit' will he w I'ittcn al)()ut tlicsc 
birds and every word of it will be raseinatin<>- readin<*". For 
they are .siirehar<^ed witli exeiting and unexpeeted hal)its and 
ways of bfe. Theii- apj)earanee and voiee, roosting', flight, 
nesting and eourtshi]) — all are unexpeeted, often inexplic- 
able, always thoroughly absorbing. They have somewhat 
the appearance of bob-tailed partridges and in the tropical 
jungles almost usurp the })lace of the quail, partridges and 
"Touse of our northern forests. For these latter birds are 
of true northern origin and the scattering of forms which 
have made their way thus far to the south are only hardy 
])ioneers, of small size and laying but few eggs, barely hold- 
ing their own among the intensive dangers of this region. 

The tinamou are the dominant ground birds of the 
(xuiana jungles. They are so specialized for a terrestrial 
life that they have unshipped their feathery rudder — their 
tail-feathers have softened, shortened and merged with the 
rest of the body plumage. Their flight is thus direct, and 
is seldom sustained over fifty yards. 

By squatting at the sign of danger they unconsciously 
offer conclusive ])roof of the concealing character of their 
garb of browns and greys. At a nearer approach they boom 
up into the dim air of the mid-jungle, hurling themselves 
off through the trees with an astounding roar of wings, and 
then scaling on a long, slowly descending slant, to the 
ground far beyond view. 

In physical make-up they are dual or triple personali- 
ties, for they are fowls or pheasant-like from some angles 
and quite ostrich-like from others. To scientists, tinamou 
are as yet the most casual of acquaintances. We know only 



254 TROPICA!. WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 





I' hi It 1 1 hij W. li. 
FIG. 80. ROUNDED WING AND DEGENERATE TAIL OF TINAMOU 



the most superficial facts concerning them and their lives 
from birth to death. 

I shall point this chapter with one of these facts, one 
concerning a mere physical character, small in itself, but 
which I shall try to make significant. For I shall consider 
it as typifying the future work which I wish to carry on at 
the Research Station, the sort of work which can only be 
done in the field, and yet which is initiated and controlled by 
the knowledge derived from l)ooks and museums. And I 
shall take it up in detail as an illustration of one of the many 



WAYS Ol- TIXAMOU 255 

methods of rcscaicli, in |)art deliberately planned <i priori, 
in part seeming like luek. 

There are eight speeies ol' tinaniou in British Ciuiana, 
three of whieli are found in the vicinity of IJartiea. These 
are divided into two genera, Tinamiis and Crijpturus. Kty- 
mologically, tliere is neither logic nor reason in these names as 
terms of differentiation; both groups are tinaniou and both 
deserve the name of "hidden-tail." These genera are recog- 
nized throughout the world, and wlienever any specimens of 
these particular birds are received in museums they are at 
once classified as one or the other. The actual character of 
differentiation is the scaly part of the leg or tarsus. In Tina- 
miis, the rear j^art of the leg is exceedingly rough, the edges 
of the scales projecting and forming a series of rugged cor- 
rugations. In Crijpturus, the hinder aspect of the tarsus is 
quite smooth. These two distinctions have been recognized 
for many years — Tinamus for more than one hundred and 
thirty, and Cnjptiirus for a hundred and six years, and dur- 
ing all this time ornithologists have accepted this character 
without thought or question. The needs of taxonomy having 
been satisfied, there was no danger of confusion even if a 
pile of skins of the two groups were thoroughly mixed up. 
So the birds have been labelled and catalogued and put away 
in their respective cases and the incident — the casual, nom- 
inal affair between Hermann and Illiger versus Tinamus 
and Crypiurus — was considered closed. 

But this is unM^orthy of the very name of science and or- 
nithology. It is as if we should meet a person with an infi- 
nite capacity for life-long friendship and should wilfully 
turn awav after merely hearing his name. 

Soon after the first tinamou sprang u\) from imder my 
feet in the jungle, or when Xupee, the Indian -hunter, 
brought me the first of the many whose flesh were to form 
so excellent a part of our food, the old, old question forced 
itself upon me, the question from which I can never hope 
nor desire, to escape; the question which makes all science 



256 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IX BRITISH GUIANA 




I'hiiln hii ir. /{. 
FIG. 81. ROUGH TARSUS OF TINAMUS 



worth wliile; the question, ^^'^hy? The names Tinamus and 
Cri/ptiirus, hecame naught l)ut names. All significance fell 
from them, and running my fingers over the rough tarsus 
of one bird and the smooth, shining scales of another, I asked 
again and again, "Why?" 

I noticed that in every instance the rough-backed tarsus 
was coated w^ith dirt. Often the interstices were com])letely 
choked with fine mud and debris or with fibrous mold. The 
legs of the smaller birds were as clean as thev were smooth. 
With onlv a half-framed theory in mind I thoroughly washed 
off the dirt from the tarsi of several birds and sprinkled it 
on a pot of earth, which previously I had thoroughly baked. 
In the course of the following weeks I reared an interesting 
little assortment of mosses and small arboreal plants, but 
which, after all, formed only circumstantial evidence. 

Xupee, the Akawai hunter, was an excellent observer 
and, as I had tested on a number of occasions, a truthful 
reporter of what he observed. But to make more certain 
of tlie result, I put my questions indirectly and negativel}', 
so tliat to tell the ti'uth he would have to go against my 
apparent assumption. All but strictly honest natives and 
savages will readily fall into this little snare, and will offer 



•^o' 



WAYS OF TINAMOU 25: 




I'lmli, liji /'. i:. II. 
FIG. 82. SMOOTH TARSUS OF CRYPTURUS 



sacrifice to tlie favor of "Marster" or "Saliil)" or "Tuan," 
ratlier than to tlic most elusive goddess of all hierarchy. 

To X 11 pee, Tinamus, or the great tiiianiou, was known 
as maru; the two Crypturus, the pileated and variegated 
tinamou. were respectively orri-orri and sidinia. 

Our conversation was hrief and to the point, running 
somewhat as follows : 

"Xupee, you know orri-orri <"' 

"Yes, marster." 

"He sleep in tree?" 

"No, orri-orri sleep on ground." 

"Does sulima sleep in tree?" 

"No, sulima sleep on ground." 

"You know maru?" 

"Yes." 

"Then maru sleep on ground, too?" 

"No, maru sleep in tree." 
Then, in the course of the next few days: 

"Nupee, you say maru and sidima sleep on ground?" 

"No, maru always sleep in tree, ever' night." 

This was pretty good for exhihit B of proof. But such 
a habit was so startling, so unlike what we should expect of 
birds extremely specialized for terrestrial life, that I could 
not be wholly convinced. 



258 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IX BRITISH GUIANA 

I.,ate one afternoon I was some distance from Kalaeoon 
wlien a sudden downpour of rain came on. I had many snu(>' 
reti-eats and shelters scattered through the jungle of which 
I made use whenever I was caught with a camera in one 
of the occasional aftej-noon showers. I ran at once to a huge 
hollow tree, whose splayed buttresses arched far outward, 
and whose great hollow trunk vibrated alternately day and 
night with the humming wings of swifts and the softer swish 
of bats. During the course of the rain 1 found many things 
to watch, for the life of the jungle is often most interesting 
at unusual moments. The incident which dwarfed all others, 
however, was a great tinamou, a Tinamus, a maru, which 
stepped past with quick, dainty strides and half leaped, half 
fluttered awkwardly up to the base of a leaning tree, and with 
wildly balancing wings, made its way forty or fifty feet still 
higher to a large horizontal branch. Here without hesita- 
tion, backed close against the trunk, the bird squatted, and 
facing lengthways of the branch, rested on its tarsi, which 
were applied closely to the rough, mossy bark. 

The third and conclusive phase of the (juest of the 
"Why.^" had come. Now, indeed, we could retiu'n to Tina- 
mus and to Crijpturiis, and resurrect them from the tomb of 
meaningless terms, of hollow names, of inarticulate raison d' 
ctrc. Our answer to the "Why?" has made them significant, 
surcharged with a reality of difference, and has aroused a 
desire to carry the interrogation farther, striving to learn 
the reason for the tree roost. 

GUIANA GREAT TINAMOU 

Tinamus major (Gmelin) 

This big, olive greenish tinamou was the most abundant 
of the three Bartica species, and it was seldom that one took 
a walk in the jungle without observing or flushing several 
birds. They were equally common on both baidvs of the 
jNlazaruni and u]) the Cuyuni. The early morning and late 



WAYS OF TINAMOU 259 

afternoon were tlie periods of tlieir <>Teate.st aetivity and the 
times when theii- calls were more fre(jiiently heard. On 
eioudv (lavs, however, they wonld call at an\' liour, and on 
moonlight nights, thron^hont the ni<^"ht. They were essen- 
tially hirds of the jnnole and never left the deep woods to 
eonie into the seeondgrowth. Like all tinamon they were 
solitai-y hii'ds, and I never saw even a pair t<)<»-c'ther, although 
oeeasionally several would he temporarily drawn to<^ether 
by the abundance of fallen fruit beneath some great jungle 
tree. 

When feeding, they would s(iuat at the first hint of 
danger, but at the second alarm, if the source of danger ap- 
proached gradually, they would bend low and attempt to 
sneak quietly away. This was the usual view one got of 
these birds if he was picking his way quietly through the 
jungle. To watch them, one must crouch at the very first 
hint of their presence and have patience to wait for a half- 
hour to quiet their suspicions. When on the nest they did 
not leave until discovery seemed inevitable, when they burst 
up with a disconcerting whirr of wings, almost a booming, 
which, coming unexpectedly made accurate observation very 
difficult. 

I have never heard a crv of alarm or danger, nor any 
call to chicks nor content note, neither have I seen them in 
the act of uttering their trill. This call, which was a sum- 
mons to the mate or mates — for this species is polyandrous — 
w^as a true trill, steady and rolling, sustained on the same 
note with the following intervals: 



In February or early ^larch the courtship was at its 
height, judging from the loudness and persistency of the 
long, drawn-out calls. About the second or third week in 
JNIarch the breeding season began, and in nn'd-April, it was 
in full swing. 

The nest was invariably placed at the base of a tree, 




riiiih, bii I', a. II . 



FIG. S3. NESTING SITE OF GUIANA GREAT TINAMOU 



WAYS Ol TIXA.MOU 26T 

between two small projecting buttresses. Tbe trees selected 
were small and the nests were nswally on the side away from 
the j^u'evailing heavy rains. One such nest found on the third 
of April was close to the base of a young mora tree in light 
undergrowth. The six eggs, burnished, spheroidal, were 
lying in a deep depression of the thick layer of dead leaves 
which covered the whole of this part of the jungle Hoor. 
Several large leaves hung directly over the nest, sheltering 
it from view above. We found it by accident, while we wej-e 
searching for the nest of a big black-breasted ant-thrush, 
which persisted in wandering aindessly about, once or twice 
fairly walking over the tinamou's nest. This was one of the 
most beautiful and graceful of the ant-thrushes, large and 
partridge-like, forever pattering with dainty steps over the 
leaves and dodging under hanging vines. Now and then 
she uttered a shrill, querulous chatter, and between times 
dipped her tail sandpiper-like. The male flew almost at my 
first movement and did not return. The female walked 
about, keeping apparently away from her own nest and ulti- 
mately blundered into and flushed the tinamou. 

As we leaned over the nest, held by the beauty of the 
great, blue spheres, we came under the suspicion of a world of 
midgets. First came a pair of cinnamon hummingbirds 
whose nest must have been close by, for they bullied every- 
thing in sight. Insect-like, they came within arm's-length 
of my face, where they whirred, and hung suspended, and 
flicked back and forth. Then they had a mimic battle with 
one another, chirping loudly, and this outcry brought a pair 
of diminutive flycatchers to the scene, and two equally tiny 
ant-thrushes. Like most small birds, all Avere absurdly tame 
and all vented their Avrath upon us as we photographed the 
tinamou nest. A few minutes afterward, several yards 
away, I surprised a beautiful ocelot lying on a log. This 
w^as down a deep gully close to tumbling rapids. The cat 
hesitated long enough to mouth a silent snarl, then noise- 
lessly sprang back into the jungle. I^ast of all, as we left 




a 



< 

B 
o 

fe 
o 

M 

o 
o 

w 

Q 

z 

<: 

H 
M 

2 



o 



WAYS Ol- TINAAIOU -JCJJj 

the glade with our colorful treasures, an e(iuall\ hn'lliaut, 
blue niorpho butterfly fla|)j)c(l slowly ])ast. Sncli were some 
of the surroundings of this tinaniou nest of carlv April. 

There seems to be nuich variation in the number of eggs 
of this species, l^ight is not uncommon, but the sets of ten 
and twelve which have been reported are very unusual. I 
found several instances where sets of four and six were being 
incubated. The shells were spheroidal, highly burnished, as 
in all tinamou, and light turcpioise l)hic in color. Tlic a\ci- 
age measurement was 57 x 47 mm. 

The eye of this tinamou was dark hazel, and its facial 
skin leaden blue. The legs and feet were a peculiar green- 
blue grey or in yoimg birds a clear celandine green; the bill 
was a dark ])luish horn, with the lower mandible lighter. An 
average bird showed the following measurements: bill, 34 
mm.; wing, 247; tail, 87; nu'ddle toe and claw, 41 mm. 

The females averaged slightly larger than the males, 
the extremes being 4*20 and 477 mm. The sexes were equal 
in weight, from 1.5 to 2.75 lbs. The food was wholly vege- 
table, consisting chiefly of seeds swallowed whole, pink, 
green, brown or yellow, resembling acorns or nuts of various 
shapes. The favorite food was the seed of the monkey-pots 
{Lecythis) . 

When the skin was removed, the flesh was of a strange 
greenish-grey color, most unhealthy in a])pearance, but deli- 
cate and delicious when cooked. 

There seemed to be but slight difference between the 
sexes. The males were, as a rule, more rufous and less olive 
than the females. In full-plumaged males the forehead and 
crown were blue-black with the chestnut nape and hind 
cro^\ii sharply set off. In a large series of females the black- 
ened area extended over the whole crown and forehead. 

Even the birds in most perfect plumage, showed signs 
of the serious effect of the bete rouge. The nape and back of 
the neck of almost every bird, like the cheeks of the agoutis, 
were bare and mangy, and dotted with scarlet clumps of 



204 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BlUTLSH GUIANA 




I'hDid J, II ir. u. 
FIG. 85. HEAD OF GUIANA GREAT TINAMOU SHOWING 
PATCHES OF BETE ROUGE 

tliese j^ests. Tliese were larvae of some species of Trombi- 
dium, probably one of the large members of the subgenus 
Dinothromhium. 

There were very few mallophaga on the body or wings, 
but among the chin feathers I found many specimens. These 
were of two species. One was small and narrow, Lipeurus 
longipcs, which has been recorded from several other species 
of these birds, although nothing is known of its relationships. 
The second mallophaga, which was of large size, broad in 
proportion, and quite hairy was Gonicxlcs albiccps. This 
has been found on Tinamus rob list us and T. tao. The genus 
as a whole has been recorded from gallinaceous birds and 
from penguins. 

A bird of the year had a feather-fly upon its plumage. 
This strange, flat insect flew ofl^ several times, but after each 
excursion returned to the feathers of the dead bird. Failing 
to catch it, I wrapped the whole bird in a butterfly net, placed 
it in a chloroform box, and finallv shook the dead flv from 
the plumage. 

The molt of the tail seemed almost as irregular, as the 
structure of the feathers is degenerate. The most usual 
shed(hng of the Ave pairs of rectrices was as follows: .5, 4, 2, 
3, 1. The molt of the primaries was normal, from the inner 



WAYS OF TIXAMOU *2()5 

toward the outside pairs, hut the fifth seeoiuhiry was always 
the first to be dropped. 

PILEATF.l) TINAMOU 

Cri/ptiinis sold soui (Hermann) 

The voice of this l)ird was one of the coninionest noc- 
turnal sounds which we heard from Kalacoon house. It was 
but rarely heard even at the edge of the jungle, never from 
its heart, but was confined wliolly to the secondgrowth and 
the still more open clearing of the rubber plantation. At one 
time or another it could be lieard during every one of the 
foiu" and twenty hours; seldom, liowever, dnring the day, and 
only during cloudy weather. From eight to nine in the late 
evening, at midnight, and again from five to six in the early 
morning were three very pronounced vocal periods. 

The trilling differed from that of the great tinamou in 
being of shorter phrasing, and less high and sweet. Usually 
only a single phrase was uttered, this being repeated after 
a few seconds, or after another bird answered. But occa- 
sionally, especially during the midnight period, the birds 
gave voice to what was the acme of their vocal efforts. The 
sweet trills rose higher and liigher in shortened, excited 
cadences, until they ended abruptly on the highest note of 
what was reallv a secondarv trill. 

This may be visualized thus: 







J*/ 




/'/((y/0 ^1/ /'. 0. //. 



FIG. 86. EGG OF PILEATED TINAMOU 



WAYS Ol J'lNAMOU 267 

The usual trill was of this linear cadence: 




The latter was the call ^\■hich aroused the excited as- 
cending trill, so it was probahly peculiai" to one oi- the other 
sex. 

It is not Remarkable that we are ignorant of whicli ut- 
terance characteri/es the niales, for the hi-eeding hal)its of 
these birds are so strange that no transference or assumption 
of qualities would be surprising in their sex. 

While with most birds the breeding season is confined 
to a fairly well marked season, with the pileated tinamou, 
the nesting period seemed interminable. From the begin- 
ning to the end of our stay the birds never ceased to call, 
and they apparently nested assiduously throughout the en- 
tire six months. Unlike the great tinamou which deposits a 
number of eggs, broods them, cares for the chicks and has 
done, the pileated deposits but one egg. At the vocal solici- 
tation of the male, the female approaches ; she deigns to la}' 
her single egg, and then departs, Avhether to perform the 
same rite for another male, we do not know. The male takes 
charge, and it was at this j)eriod that 1 found him on the 
fifth of jNIay, incubating, in solitude, his single clay-colored 
egg. There was no nest, the egg being laid on the dead leaf 
debris in a recently weeded field of rubber. It was quite 
fresh, measured 40 x 31 mm., and weighed 21 grams. Two 
eggs have been found in a closely related species in Costa 
Rica, but hereabouts only a single one was deposited. The 
handicap of number was compensated by continuity of 
brood, and barely did one young pileated reach the age of 
discretion, when another female was summoned and another 
egg began to fulfill its destiny. One can only wonder; one 
cannot even theorize as to the whv and wherefore of such 



268 TROPICA!. WllA) LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

strange habits, apparently so wastefnl of valuable energy. 

Pileated tinanioii were to us an almost disembodied, al- 
though omin'present voice. Living as they did in the im- 
])enetrable secondgrowth, laced and bound up with the warp 
and woof of razor-grass, we scarcely ever caught even a. 
glimpse of them, and the specimens we desired had to be 
secured witli (juick snap shots, whose success was rather luck 
than accurate shooting. 

They were much smaller than the big tinamou, and a 
breeding male weighed only half a pound, and measured 
23.5 mm. in length. The female was of the same weight, 
but averaged larger, about 2(58 mm. The two favorite items 
of diet were a nondescript, greenish seed, and another flat, 
round and woody, with yellow flesh. The females showed 
more of a rich chestnut color than their mates, whose feath- 
ers — poor w^retches — were usually worn from constant 
setting. 

VARIEGATED TINAMOU 

Cujpturus variegatus (Gmelin) 

The third member of this strange, terrestrial fraternity 
lived altogether in the jungle, where it was almost as abun- 
dant as the Great Tinamou. Its small size enabled it more 
often to escape observation. Its voice was less often heard, 
and it was the sweetest of all the tinamou. The first drawn- 
out phrase was higher than the steady rolling of the large 
bii'd, and this w^as followed by six or eight short, separate 
ti'ills, an ascending staccato, which ended suddenly on the 
highest note. 



WAYS OF TINAMOU 269 

IJke the pileated, this tinainoii {lc[)().sitc'(l hut a single 
egg, and we found males, attended l)y one three-quarters 
grown ehiek, heginning to ineuhate a new egg. Sueh devo- 
tion won hi he hard to equal. The egg was discovered on 
June 17, and it contained an enil)ry() of ahout four days. 

In a hreeding female the iris was amher; the mandihles 
hlaek, the lower yellowisli-white toward the base; the legs 
and feet warhler-green. The length varied from 285 to 
82,3 mm., and the birds weighed about thi-ee-quarters of a 
pound. The food was dominantly seeds and nuts of various 
kinds, some like acorns, others resembling cherries in color 
and pits. Two birds only had eaten insects, small beetles 
and wire worms. 

Judged by the day-to-day shooting for the ])ot by the 
Indian hunter, the average proi)ortion of the sexes was eight 
males to each female, and witliout exception, the latter were 
in much finer plumage. Curiously enough, however, all the 
chicks and half-grown })irds were females. 

The difference between the true juvenile and the adult 
plumage is abrupt and striking. In the first plumage, the 
head is chestnut rather than black, and the feathers of the 
upper parts instead of being black, cross-barred with buff, 
are rufous, with black centers and white tips. Beneath, the 
reverse is true and in place of the plain rufous and white of 
the old bird, we find warm buffv feathers barred with black 
and white. 

A few wrecks later another molt takes place. The head 
becomes black as in the adult, but the body plumage is inter- 
mediate between the juvenile and tlie a(hdt. This molt does 
not include the wing featliers which change abruptly from 
juvenile to adult pattern. In this wing molt the primaries 
are replaced regvdarly from witliin outward. The seventh 
and eiahtli secondaries fall almost simultaneously, and from 
these the molt proceeds both outward and inward. Both 
juvenile and adult primaries are dark colored, but the sec- 
ondaries show very marked changes in the two plumages. 



270 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




Phnfo hy P. n. If. 



FIG. 87. EGG OF VARIEGATED TINAMOU 



The juvenile secondaries have the exposed parts of the vane 
of a rich cliestnut color, while in the adult these feathers are 
black with more or less regular barring of yellowish-buff. 

A cliick of about two weeks of age had ten half-grown, 
juvenile rectrices, the outer pairs nearly grown, the inner 
mere sheaths; the molt being thus centripetal. 

A comparison of measurements shows tlie relative 
growth. 

Middle toe 

I.engtli Bill Wiiif? Tail Tarsus and claw Weight 

2 weeiis ciiick 160 17 10.5 28 30 20 % lb. 

Adiill 298 27 15.5 48 40 28 % lb. 



CHArTKK XVI 

will) l.IFK XKAH KALACOON 
I 

Tile laboratory room at Kalaeooii possessed sixteen 
windows and, standing as it did, on an isolated eminence, two 
luindred feet above the ^Jazaruni river, and the intervening 
jungle, it is no exaggeration to say that a zoologist could 
spend many weeks in worthwhile observation without de- 
scendinti" to the ground outside, and years of study would 
be well repaid in the compound itself. 

I attempt in this cha})ter only the presentation of des- 
ultory notes, but they each possess some raisou d'etre and 
as a whole, suggest the wide field for research offered by 
even this limited area. 

I arose usually before daybreak and divided many of 
the early morning h.ours between writing and w^atching from 
the windows the gradual awakening of the day's life. 

Perhaps the most noticeable thing was meteorologic — 
the calms of early morning. They were unvarying. No 
matter how tempestuous the evening before or the night, 
the dark just before sunrise and the hours of early morning 
were always calm and quiet. Xot a breath of air stirred. 
The tide flowed silently up or down, or for a short time held 
itself motionless. Rarely, at the high tide, the river surface 
was broken by porpoises, or manatees or a leaping lukananni. 
While the calm was unvarying, the atmosphere might be 
clear to the horizon, so that the distant i-ange of the Blue, and 
the Pull-and-be-damned ^lountains were sharply defined, 
or on the other hand, the air nn'ght be so drenched in mist 
that the nearest shrubs were quite invisible. 

Sound seemed to carry farther at these times of quiet. 
If it WTre dark the trill of the pileated tinamou, the loud cry 



272 



TROPICAL WITJ) T.IFK FN BRITISH (iUIANA 









FIG. 88. THE OPEN CLEARING OF KALACOON COMPOUND 



of tlie who-are-voii or the indescribably mournful wail of the 
poor-nie-one, echoed from the darkness at the edge of the 
compound. Or later, in the half-light, these were replaced 
by the harsh squawks of caracaras, the shrill scream of par- 
rots or macaws, an early risen kiskadee, or the never-absent 
duets of the little guans or hanaquas. 



II 

Many mornings I made notes on the awakening of 
tropical life, as I observed it through the senses of sight 
and hearing, beginning at daybreak, at 5:80 A. jNI., and con- 
tinuing it for a half or a full hour, I print three of these 
tables of observation, made respectively in JMarch, jNIay and 
July. 



KAI.ACOON WILD LIFE 273 

March 26, lf)lfi: 

5:30 — Just light enough to write; lialjooiis howling- across river; martins 

chirping sleepily. 
~).3~) — Hana(jUMs start S. K. 

o:38 — Second hanaquas start S. Twa-twa slave sings constantly. 
5:39 — Third hanaquas start Vj. Jungle pigeon coos. 
5:1-0 — Yellow warliler sings. Several finches sing. 
5:H — Palm tanager flics down from tlioni palm. 
5 :42 — Wren sings. 
5 :43 — Pigeon coos loudly. 

5:44 — Moriehc oriole leaves nest in thorn palm. 
5:45 — Fourth hana(jua X. E. (close to edge of comi)oundj. lirst hana- 

qua answers. First martin flies. 
5:46 — Hanaquas calling in three directions. The poor-me-one calls. The 

midnight song of the variegated tinamou. 
5 :49 — Wren's voice still dominant, with hanaquas at intervals. Six o'clock 

bee cicada starts. Flycatchers of several species sing their 

harsh songs. Thrush far in the distance, very sweet. 
5:55 — Second moriche oriole leaves nest. 
5:57 — Twelve or fifteen martins appear in sky, coming from jungle. 

Twa-twa slave mounts bush and sings violently; wheechew I 

wheechee ! etc. 
6:00- — ^Martins increase in number and continue feeding. Beetles drone 

past, and big bees appear. 
0:01 — Three Pitangus Victor begin chasing each other. Caracara uproar 

in distance. 
6:04 — Kiskadees appear at edge of clearing and sit silently on twigs. 

Martins and high-perching flycatchers busy, insects are fly- 
ing high. 
6 :06 — Flock of katydids come into clearing and a dozen flycatchers and 

finches chase them wildly. 
6:07 — Blue tanager passes. 
6:10 — Chorus has died out, birds busily feeding. Kiskadees call for first 

time in distance. 
6:13 — First hummingbird feeding. 

May 16, 1916: 
Clouda in East. Faint light. 

5:30 to 5:45 — Howlers, poor-me-one, tinamou. who-are-you, wife-sick, 

all heard during this period. Bats, hawk over roof. 
5:48 — Wren singing. 

5:50 — Palm tanager leaves palm. Jungle pigeon bells. 
5:51 — Dragonflies out. 
5:52 — Hanaquas E. and S. 
5:523^ — Hanaquas S. E. ones answer. 



274 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




A.. - 

■S 



i.M 






-^. 



-»-. 



^> A 



FIG. 89. FAWN OF SMALL GRAY DEER 



Photo hi/ \V. I!. 



;52;^4 — Hanaquas S. E. E. ones answer. 

:;)3 — E. ones answer. 

:.5-i — New hanaqua cou2;)le S. S. E. 

:55 — White-throated kingbird goes to thorn-bush perch and catches first 

insect. P'irst martin leaves nest. 
:oG — Six more martins. 
:57 — Six pairs lianaquas calling. 

:58 — Kiskadees and streaked flycatclier hawking. Indoor martins leave. 
:59 — Every high bush has its flycatcher now, dozens all over cecropia 

forests, flying up and feeding. First butterfly out. 
():()() — Pigeons belling in three directions; courting. Seedeaters still 

asleep. Moriche orioles leave palm nest. Harsh cries of 

flycatchers dominant for the last ten minutes. Sun rises in 

clouds. 
:0y — Amazon parrots leave roost. 
:04 — Tinamou in distance ; then one close to compound. First small 

flocks of swifts from jungle toward river. 
:00 — Twenty swifts hawking very high in the air. 
:07 — Grass-finches appear and sing. 
:08 — Heavy mist blowing from forest, clouds whole sky. 



6 
6 

G: 
() 
6 



KALACOON WILD LIFE 



275 



(5:09 — Fiiuli songs now (loniiii.iiit. WOodlicwc r lic.ird in distance. 

():1() — .More swifts. 

tj :11 — Finches and ground l)irds become dominant and iia\f their hour. 

.h I V .', lf)l(i: 

Sliij cU'ur (wcept for few fleeci/ cloiid.s, (tiul a /'cvi.' iiioiiiitti'mous islaiid- 

cloiid.s (do)i(i llic lirii/lil cast. One star strciic/lit ovcrlicdd. 

EveriithiiKj (IroirJicd -ic'ith dexc, V(dl(\i/s filled -icilli juisl. 

Lifjlit i'Huucjli to xcrite casili/. 

5:30 — Wren in full song. Jungle })igeon in distance, and baljoons howl- 
ing. First eiiatter of martins. Two species of finches 
singing. 

5 :32 — Two hanaquas S. 

5:321/2— Two hanaquas N. E. 

5:33 — Two hana(juas S. E. (near). 

5:33>£.— Two hanaquas N. W. (near). 

5 :35 — Dragonfly hawking. 

5:35^ — P'irst two martins going to river to drink. Palm tanagers leav- 
ing nesting place. Moriche oriole leaves palm. 

5:36 — Young martins chirping in box. 

5:36V^ — White-throated flvcatcher makes first catch and goes to thorn 
tree perch, calling. 

5 :37 — Rooster flaps and crows twice. 

5:38 — Tinamou trills. Second pair of nesting martins go toward river 
for drink. Eight dragonHies hawking. Flanaquas end chor- 
us, each pair having called three times. 

5 :39 — Two wrens have sung almost continuously. 

5:40 — Woodpecker pounds in the jungle to the south. 

5:411/2 — Indoor-nesting-martin feeds young. 




Photo by P.O. H. 



FIG. 90. YOUNG CAICA PARROTS 



276 TROPK'Al. WILD LIFE IN URmSH GUIANA 




Phulo htj W. B. 



FIG. 91. CASHEW TREES NEAR KALACOON 



5:42^2 — Amazon parrots leave roost going to forest. Four more mar- 
tins hawking high up. 

5:43 — Eastern island-ch)uds touched with rose. 

5 :44 — Tinamou in clearing calls. 

!j:441/ij — Four-winged cuckoo utters double note. Four medium-sized 
swifts overhead. 

5 :lo — Wrens singing less, feeding among grasses. 

5 :t7 Indoor martins feed. Eleven swifts overhead. 

5:47Vl: — Tinamou calls. First big bee drones j^ast. 

5:48 — Box martin leaves. 

5:481/2 — Returns with food. 

5:49 — Indoor martin feeds. 

5:49^2 — Si.\teen giant swifts come from roost near river, going jungle- 
wards. 

5:50 — Several Hycatclurs ai)pear. 



KALACOON WILD LIFE 277 

5:51 — Indoor martin feeds. Box martin feeds. Male comes for first 
time, looks in and flies off. Synallaxis calls. 

5:52 — Many small swifts going towards forest. Clouds all alight with 
hrilliant rose. 

5:53 — Box martin feeds. 

5:53' J — Box martin feeds a large adult aiit-Iiou to young. 

5:5i — Box martin feeds and cleans nest. 

5:54^^ — Box martin feeds. 

5:55 — Tinamou trills. Aureole of gold in sky. 

5:5(5 — Box martin feeds. Wrens' song still the dominant one. 

5:5GVii — Tinamou calls contiiuiously. 

5:57 — Fifteen martins come from river toward forest. 

5:58 — Pee-zing finch hegins dance. 

5 :59 — Indoor martin feeds. 

5:591/2 — Box martin feeds. 

6:00 — Sun a ball of gold comes out of grey cloud. Box martin feeds. 

(5:01 — Tinamou still calling persistently. 

(5:02 — Box martin feeds. Sun too bright to look at. Indoor martin feeds. 

6:04 — ^Box martin feeds and cleans nest. Toucan calling in distant jun- 
gle. Bird voices dying down. 

6:05 — Macaws leave nest in jungle and fly over it. 

6:06 — Synallaxis calling loudly and continuously. 

GiOGjA — Hummingbird at flower spike of air-plant. 

6:06 — Flock of twelve tanagers, palms and blues, going toward cashew 
trees. 

6:09 — Caracara voices in distant jungle. 

6:10 — Rufous pigeon calling. 

6:11 — Male box martin feeds and rests on perch at box for thirty-one 
minutes. Its plumage is drenched after a bath in the river. 

6:111/1.' — Six blue tanagers on way to tree. 

6:131/2 — Synallaxis still trilling. Pee-zing still going. 

6:15 — The coolies' soft Hindustani is heard as they go to work. Indoor 
martin feeds. Parrakeets leave roost, going straight to forest 
in three distinct bands, all coming from the same bamboos. 

6:18 — Female martin feeds and cleans. 

6:20 — Two very long-winged swifts toward clearing. 

6:22 — Finches feeding in numbers among grass. 

6:23 — Fog has shut out river and is surging across clearing. Valley 
mists slowly rising. 

6:26 — Box martin feeds and rests for a moment. 

6:261/2 — ^^Box martin feeds and rests a few seconds. Male still perch- 
ing; as since 6:11. 

6:27 — Giant caciques leave roost. 

6:29 — Tanagers at intervals passing to cashew tree. Sharp voices of 
hummingbirds heard now and then. 

6:32 — Wrens begin singing again. 

6:35- — Synallaxis trills. Nothing heard but chirps of finches. 



278 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




PJwto hij P. G. H. 



FIG. 92. GIANT MARINE TOAD 



6:40 — Mi.sts gone from valley.s. River a solid mass of fog. 

6:42 — Giant swifts in pairs high up. Male box martin leaves perch, 

catches insect, returns at once and feeds : 
6:42^ — Then perches again and feeds. 
6:45 — Male box martin leaves for another quick capture and returns. 

Feeds. 

As I was about to leave. I saw a large bird alight in a 
great c'f)ttoM tree between Kalacoon and the river. INIy 
glasses showed it to be a mealy Amazon parrot. I watched 
it carefully and could see every movement. It lifted a foot, 
scratched its head, pushed its wing doMii and preened its 
plumage. Now and then it ducked as one of four ])alm 
tanagers dashed at it. In fact, it was mobbed ])y these birds 
as enthusiastically as if it had been an owl. It craned its 
neck and watched with interest as the (Government steamer 
left the Penal Settlement and started down river. A final 



KALACOON WILD LIFE 271) 

concerted attack ])y tlic ])alm taiiagers drove it to leave its 
perch and fiy jiinglewards. 

in 

Our study of" tlic two dry and tlic two rainy seasons lias 
only heniin. This first year we were able to make only the 
merest beginnintr. As a hint of one method of woi'k. how- 
ever, as well as putting on record many incidents of interest. 
I shall pi'int the daily calendar which we ke])t from June 
1.5 to August (). The specimens are all kept for ultimate 
identification. 

June loth — Weaned fawn of large deer captured, ^^'hite-throated thrush 
lireeding. Allied crested tanager with two nearly grown 
young. 

June 16th — Amazon parrots in flocks. Camaria lepidoptera at lowest 
ebb ; only three species of morphos. 

June 17th-^Capuchin embryo 4/5 developed. Variegated tinamou, nest 
and one egg: an embryo of four days. Spot-winged ant- 
creeper with fuU-growTi young. 

June 18th — Lizards courting and mating (green-headed striped species; 
grey). Fresh brood of banded morphos. 

June 19th — Fork-tailed flycatchers in full molt. 

June 20th — Big black bumble bee beginning to burrow. Tree-top flock- 
ing of birds almost at highest point of numbers. Blue 
honey-creeper in full molt. Lace-winged wax insects 
freshly emerged on trunks. 

June 21st — Immense brood of small fireflies. Several young howlers 
just able to climb alone. 

June 22nd — Ten peccaries with five young, (2. 2 and 1). Two curas- 
sow chicks two weeks old. 

June 23rd — Grey-headed flatbill nestling leaves nest. Phaethornis hum- 
mingbird in height of courtship and battle. 

June 24'th — Large brood of a jungle ichneumon fly. mimicking diptera. 
Young caica parrots nearly in adult ]ilumage. 

June 2.5th — French cashew fruit begins to ripen and fall. Silver-beaks 
seen in trees. 

June 27th — Tree-top flocks reach highest number. Phaethornis nesting 
begins. Red-legged digger wasp begins second nesting 
season. 

June 28th — Rufous-throated ant-catcher hatches young. 

June 29th — Sackawinki monkeys three-quarters grown. Large brood of 
blue butterflies with black circles. 

June 30th — First big thunder storm of season. 



280 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




% 



Photo hij ir. D. 
FIG. 93. CATERPILLAR OF SPHINX MOTH 



July 


1st 


July 


2nd 


July 


3rd- 



July 4th- 



July 
July 



July 
July 



5 th- 
6tli- 



7th 
8th- 



Julv 9t]i 



-Big brood at evening lights, of small, white-spotted June- 
bugs. Nocturnal skipper at lights in Kalacoon. 

-Bellbirds appear on Bartica road. Brood of tiny red jungle 
butterflies. 

-Morphos along trails become fewer and very ragged. Large 
colony of lesser green sand hornets at height of nesting 
on plantation road. 

-New broods of sphinx larvae in compound. First big chorus 
of marine toads heard. 

-Quadrille wren's eggs one-quarter incubated. 

-I-ast white-necked crake's nest and two eggs found far out 
Convict Trail. ^lany pairs of small, short-horned grass- 
hoppers mating. 

-Smallest kingfishers feeding one young. 

T'ive new species of butterflies in rubber clearing, especially 
Jitnonia. Third day without rain, heat so great at noon 
that twenty bats creep out from eave holes and hang 
outside. Two storms in evening; first ones. 
Spotted sandpiper with diseased ovary tissues, shot on the 
shore. 



KALACOOX WILD LIFE 



281 



July 10th — Fresh brood of red-spotted liclieonias sleeping; close toffether. 
Tinamus major has almost completed wing molt. 

.July 11th — Third yoiin<r martin from the box nest Hies for the first time. 

July J2th — New broods of sinall l)iitt(rilies in the forest; small wliite 
helieonias and small whites. A nestling of pygmy wedge- 
billed woodhewer leaves nest. A nestling of cayenne 
wood rail caught. 

July 13th — White-necked crake chick ready to liateli. 

.July 1 tth — Hundreds of lizards about one third grown a})|)ear suddenly. 

July L5tli — ]ial)v howler seen, only a few days old. Summer is surely 
here, butterflies increasing daily in sjiecies and numbers. 

Jul\' t(3th()range-))lant j)apilios out. A single nestling of Leotand 
dusky flycateher just flown. 

July 17th — Nest and two eggs of coereba ; eggs ])urplish black; in 
mucka-mueka near water .-icross Mazaruni. Last night 
many curious miero-le])idoptera came to light in Kala- 
coon, one with enormously elongated hind-legs. 

July 1 8th — New brood of banded blue morphos. Moriche oriole nest- 
ing again in ])nlm. 




flwto by I', a. H. 



FIG. 94. MOLE CRICKET AND YOUNG 



282 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

July 19th — Sphinx moths liatched. 

July 20th — Trumpeters nearly throujjh molt. 

July Ulst — Partridges two-thirds through body molt, hut with four 

young, one week old. Large number of honey-creepers 

and manakins in second growtli after the second-^vcrop 

of choke-cherry berries. 
July 22nd — Small, very sweet, green blossoms, which were in flower in 

early March along Convict Trail, are now in second 

season of bloom. 
July 2.'Jrd — Fork-tailed flycatchers have completed molt. 
July 2ith — Large flocks of several honey-creepers, helmeted and oily 

flycatchers in second growth. 
July 2oth — Giant caciques half through wing molt, that of the body 

and tail not begun. 
July 26th — Fork-tailed flycatchers still roosting by the hundreds in the 

mango trees. 
July 27th — Partridge half through wing molt. 

July 28th — Male crickets most numerous around lights in evening. 
Julv 29th — Volatinia in height of nesting. Many nests near Kalacoon. 
July 30th — Migration of yellow pieris all day, N. W. to S. E., past and 

near house. 
July 31st — Mosses at the height of their fruiting. 
Aug. 1st — Butterfly migration still on, even in all day rain. 
Aug. 2nd — Double-toned Chinese music cicada begins singing. Honk- 
honk frog begins behind Kalacoon. 
Aug. 3rd — Sabian thrushes of the year just beginning to sing. 
Aug. ith — New poor-me-one begins singing close to Kalacoon. 
Aug. 5th — Very large brood of pearly- white butterflies (Anartia jatro- 

phoe). 
Aug. 6th — Sulphur butterflies still migrating. 



C'lIAP'l KK W'll 

THE AIJ.IGATOKS OF Cil'lAXA 

Floatinj)' l)ranche.s and l()i>\s are a coiiiinoii si<>'lit on the 
waters of the creeks and rivers of (iuiana, and al)ont one in 
every three of these logs is an alhgator. Common in many 
places and actnally abnndant in a few, these great sanrians 
are far less conspicuous than their infinitely smalU-i- i-clatives 
— the lizards wliich everywhere scamper up tree-trunks oi- 
barge clumsily through the fallen leaves. Several negroes 
in Georgetown make a living collecting and stuffing young- 
alligators and one man who had constantly followed this line 
of work for twenty years had acquired a very thorough 
knowledge of the ways of life of these giant reptiles. ^Vmong 
the natives generally, they are feared and avoided, and are 
(mistakenly) accredited with great longevity, of one or two 
hundred years. 

Caimans or crocodiles are not found on the coast, and 
in fact live only above the lirst falls or rapids on the rivers 
whence mythical giant crocodiles are occasionally reported 
by the Indians. 

Alligators occur in most of the rivers, creeks and even 
trenches along the coast, and nests are found in CTCorgetown 
itself, about a hundred eggs being gathered in the Botanical 
Gai-dens each season. The female alligators, when full 
grown, measure from three and a half to fi^•e feet, while the 
males, in excejjtional cases, attain a length of nine feet. 

The actual nesting season begins in May and reaches 
its height in June. Xests and eggs are still to be found in 
lessening numbers in July and August, but no eggs have 
been taken either in April or September. The number laid 
by each female varies from twenty to forty, each weiojiina- 
about three ounces. They require at least seventy-five days 



28-t 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN EHITISH GUIANA 




Photo by W. li. 



FIG.: 95. TUBFUL OF NEWLY-HATCHED ALLIGATORS 



to hatch. The httle 'gators are ahout eight inches long, a 
whole inch of which is gained witliin a few hours after hreak- 
ing the shell. 

Three weeks before actual laying commences, the female 
alligator gathers together a pile of water-soaked or decayed 
vegetation, pulling it up and carrying it in her mouth to 
some secluded spot on the bank of a trench or creek. Here 
she piles it and mats it down rather firmly in a rough heap 
about two feet in heioht. When allig-ators have been much 
bothered or persecuted, they will often select a pegass trench 
and make their nest on the floating vegetation in the center, 
out of the reach of any passing native. 

When several weeks have passed, she tears the nest open 



AI.I.K.ATOHS OI' (JUIANA 285 

and lays her e<]fgs in tlie center of tlu- liot sleaniinf>' mass. 
Unlike the turtles which lay their e«^<4s in the sand hanks of 
the neighhorin^- rivers, she does not desert the nest, hut re- 
mains most ol' the day somewhere in the vicinity. She does 
not feed there, however, l)ut daily swims to some more dis- 
tant place. Her food consists of fish, frogs and snakes, with 
whatever small animals or hirds can l)e ca])tured, while dead 
creatures and even carrion are eaten without hesitation. If 
the feeding ground is at a considera})le distance it is an easy 
matter to o])en the nest and examine the eggs undetected, 
hut if the alligator does not have to go far, she will return 
at the slightest sound. 

Alligators differ considerably in their courage. Some 
will leave the nest after a few weak protests, w^hile others 
wall obstinately remain sprawled over their precious rubbish 
heap and have to be killed before their nest can be robbed. 
The mother alligator remains faithfully at her post until 
the time of hatching, in w'hich process she gives material 
assistance. The two and a half months of alternate drench- 
ing and baking by rain and sun often cakes the nest mound 
with a hard-baked crust through w^iich the gatorlings would 
find it impossible to force their way. So the parent bites 
into the nest, tossing the outer shell to one side until the 
pipped eggs or the newly hatched young are exposed. When 
this is done she rolls out the pipped eggs and pressing upon 
them with one of her front feet, she cracks them and liberates 
the young 'gator. The eggs which are still whole she rolls 
back among the debris and leaves imtil the low% nasal, 
squeaking grunts announce that more are ready to emerge. 
The young are able to hatch by themselves, but it is usually 
a very long operation and many die in the shells. 

I examined one which had had his little pugnosed snout 
thrust through the end of the shell for twenty-four hours 
and was just a])out to break a bit away from the hole when 
the little reptile shot forth like a jack-in-the-box, freeing 
himself completely except for his tail. He sprang from my 



286 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




Photo hi/ ^\^. IJ. 



FIG. 98. YOUNG ALLIGATORS MOUNTED FOR SALE 



hands into a basin of water, where he dived and swam fraii- 
tieally, tlie l)anoino- of the tail-suspended shell against the 
tin fi'ightening the newly hatched reptile, and convejdng a 
first impression of the world as a fearsome, undesirable place. 
He blinked, rose to the surface, shook off the egg shell, and 
turning sideways snapped at a spot of sunlight. For a day 
and night, the past twenty-four hours, only the snout had 
|)rojected. In three seconds more the whole being of the 
j)ci-f'ect gatorling was functioning, fully launched on what 
would normalK' be a long and checkered career. 

The mother alligator goes to the nests with the young, 
and while some swim away and are lost, or forage for them- 
selves, yet many female 'gators are seen at other times of 



AI.l.K.AI'OliS Ol" (il'IAXA 287 

the WAV accompanied 1)\- small ones of two distiiK't sizes, 
which the liimters helic\c air tiie ix'iiiiiaiits ol' the breeds of 
the two ])ast years, still nioie or less attendant upon her. 

The watehfnhiess of the ])arent is of course a trait in- 
herited t]iron,<>li lono- past eentuiies, and is in no way conse- 
quent upon tile very recent, desultory robbing of the nests 
by man. Hut it is curious tliat their worst enemy at present 
is that most ten-iblc j)est introduced by man, from India, 
the mongoose. The only autochthonous foe is the big tegu, 
known locally as salimpenta. l^oth of these enennes wait 
until the parent alligator has gone away and then dig theii- 
w^ay down to the eggs. The big yellow-tailed snake has been 
seen trying to force its wa\' through the crust of the rubbish, 
but in vain. 

The mating season begins in April and is announced 
by the females calling the males. The proj)ortions of sexes 
is very unequal, there being twenty or more females to every 
male. The cry of the female is a subdued, but very strong 
and penetrating grunt, often repeated. The male's voice is 
a bellowing or roaring, and when this is heard in the trench, 
every female within hearing rushes toward him, ten or fifteen 
sometimes surrounding him at once. After mating, each 
goes off to her respective nest, where she deposits the entire 
number of eggs at one laying, afterwards covering them 
carefully. 

The male never goes near the nest, except under very 
unusual circumstances, and it is in this connection that my 
alligator hunter indulged his belief in a romantic yarn, which 
he was convinced w^as true. I recount it rather as a pleasant 
bit of negro imagination, than as an addition to reptilian 
psychology. ^ly hunter said that now^ and then he came 
across maimed and crippled females which yet had weU- 
built nests full of eggs. One such w^as an animal which had 
three feet bitten off, leaving only one hind leg. She could 
not get up the trench bank without support, and yet her 
nest was on the top. After trapping her, the hunter con- 



288 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 






FIG. 97. GUIANA ALLIGATORS, ONE DAY OLD 
a. Gooseway 6. Abary c. Goomasaka 



cealed himself and called, and was surprised to be answered 
by a big seven- foot bull 'gator which came out of the water 
to the nest. In this and several other instances, so my hunter 
argued, the male must have built the nest, as well as helping 
the female to get out of the water whenever she returned 
to it. 

When an alligator is trapped or caught in the hand it 
utters loud chirping squeaks, not unlike the distress cries of 
some birds. By imitating this, all the alligators within hear- 
ing will answer and approach, most of them being females, 
with now and then an occasional male. 

Every season my alligator hunter collects more than 
three thousand eggs, of which sometimes only about eight 
hundred liatch. In every 'gator's nest there are always a 



ALLIGATORS OF GUL\NA 289 

ruiiiibcr of infertile eggs, ranging from five to twenty per 
cent. In a six weeks' nest, these can already be detected 
and thrown away, bnt in a nest where the eggs have been 
deposited only three weeks, the fertile cannot be told from 
the infertile ones. 'I'he fertile eggs remain white, bnt the 
bad ones soon turn yellow, at first in spots and later all 
over. In a healthy (^gg with a four-weeks' embryo, the two 
end thii'ds of the egg are pale pink or flesh color. The sur- 
face of some eggs is almost smooth, but usually the lime in- 
crustations resemble the convolutions of brain coral. 

I'he hunters recognize three kinds of alligators, both 
young and adults of which they can distinguish on sight. 
These are known respectively as the Abary, the Goosway 
and the Goomasaka (Fig. 97). The principal distinguish- 
in"- characters between the three are the black dorsal mark- 
ings. Between the front and hind legs there are four, rarely 
five, transverse black bands. In the Abary most of these 
bands are interrupted in the middle line of the back; in the 
Goosway, they form solid, continuous transverse zones of 
pigment ; wdiile in the Goomasaka, the bands on each side of 
the back line alternate, the lateral halves of one side being 
opposite the lighter interspace of the opposite side. Every 
individual 'gator of any one brood always conforms to one 
or the other of the types, but breeds of intermediate types are 
occasionally found, and these are considered as the result of 
inter-breeding of tw^o of the forms. 

The Abary and Goosway are the common forms and 
found over most of the coastal area, while the Goomasaka 
is very much rarer and confined chiefly to Berbice. These 
are also reputed much fiercer than the others, more ready 
to attack any intruder, and to be able to stay for a much 
lonaer time under the w^ater. When adult there are four 
long teeth in the lower jaw which project through the bone 
and skin of the upper. The Abary and Goosway on the 
contrary, have teeth which are much more even. 



290 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITLSH GUIANA 

Few livin<^' alligatoi's are sold. The e<^<4s are *^atliere(l, 
sorted as to de<>Tee of development, and kept until hatelied 
in boxes filled with vegetable debi'is. The alligators are 
confined in tubs of water and within a day or two are killed 
and stuffed, standino- in a})surd postures, erect on theii" hind 
le<>s. Forever after they g'aze through shoebutton eves, and 
hold their little fore arms stiffly out to receive the card tray 
for which their future destinv intends them. Tourists, with 
unbelievable eagerness, purchase these atrocities at a shilling 
each, doubtless to repose beside wax flowers or to share some 
dusty northern shelf with a conch shell or a sandalwood box. 
In spite of this the 'gators of Guiana are holding their own. 
The toll of infants to be metamorphosed into ornaments is 
less hurtful to the race than the sacrificing of the skins of 
the adults for satchels. 



PART II 

ORNITHOLOGICAL 

By G. inn ess HARTLEY 

Research Associate 



CHAPTER XVIII 

NOTES OX THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE JACANA 

An examination of several stages of development in 
the grow-th of the jacana brings to light many interesting 
and perhaps significant facts that so far have been over- 
looked. There are several curions external characters which 
cause the adult bird to stand apart from others as an ex- 
ample of great specialization. These are chiefly due to a 
gradual change of conditions which called for a development 
of certain characters and a degeneration or loss of others. 
The enormous toes and claws enable it, one might almost 
say, to walk on the waters, and the great shield on the fore- 
head must have some special use w^hich is still unexplained. 
The claw of the thumb has degenerated to a mere remnant 
and that on the finger has quite disappeared, while a huge 
spur has developed at the wrist and doubtless is of great 
value as a means of defense. By this interchange of char- 
acters the bird has become fitted to its present environment 
so that it stands out above many others as an example of 
adaptation. In the embryo we find many characters which 
have long since disappeared from the adult, and in the grow- 
ing chicks we note the development of many that have been 
more recent!}" acquired. 

PTERYLOSIS 

In the half developed embryo the feather tracts are in- 
dicated by elongated papillae, which in reality are developed 
feather sheaths, and in which may be seen traces of pig- 
ment. Those of the tail are the most advanced, the sheath 
buds of the rectrices and their coverts being nearly a milli- 
meter long and full of pigment. On the flank, running from 
just above the knee and directly in line with the rectrices. 



294- TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITLSII (JUIANA 

is a single row of pigmented .slieaths, superimposed by an- 
other row of covert-like sheaths. These are of specjal inter- 
est as representing the pelvic wing recently demonstrated 
by Beebe. ' 

A later embrvo, i)robablv not more than twentv-foui" 
honrs older, shows a fnrther development of the tail and 
body tracts. The spinal tract has become pigmented with 
a light hrown color, its sheaths heing especially developed 
along the dorsal region, where some eqnal the rectrices in 
length. Xo other pterylae are pigmented or mnch elongated. 

The spinal tract is quite wide and divided hy a long- 
cleft above the dorsal and sacral regions which unite at the 
neck and lower pelvic. The femorals, accentuated by the line 
of pigmented sheaths and their coverts, are large. They 
join the crural or leg tract to foi-m a continuous field, which 
extends over the upper two-thirds of the cms and joins the 
spinal pterylae behind the humeral tract above, and the ven- 
tral just below the point of the sternum. 

The two scapular tracts are broad as in the adult and 
the sternal is divided into two narrow banrls, one on each 
side of the keel, the space between being very narrow and 
extending from the point of the sternum to the upper throat. 
The pectorals are wide and extend from half way between 
the wing and the cms to the shoulder, where they join the 
sternal. 

The embryonic pterylosis of the jacana more nearly 
approaches the Limicoline type than that of the Fulicariae 
as claimed by Xitzsch. In speaking of the adult birds, 
Forbes says': "In their possession of well-marked firm rec- 
trices, in the weakness of the lumbar tracts, and in the tend- 
ency to a division of the dorsal tract into an anterior and 
posterior fork, the Parridae differ from the typical Rallinae, 
and approach the IJmicoline type." These facts are in the 

' 'Aoolojiiid. \'ol. II, Xo. iJ. 

^ Notes on the Anatomy and Systematic I'osition of the Jaeanas ( I'arriilae). 
Proc. /ool. Soc. London, 1881, page (ilO. 



main ti'iie of ilic cmhi-yo, except in re<>"ar(l to the weakness 
of tlie lumbar or fcnioi-al ti'acts. While it cannot he said 
that all arc very sti"on<>', portions arc cs})ccially well devel- 
oj)C(] and the sheaths arc nearly as well marked and firm as 
the rectrices. In this respect they ai)pi"()ach the C'ohimhinc 
type. 

Foi'hes goes on to say: "The same i-clationshi]) is indi- 
cated hy the innci'. or main, pectoral (sternal) ti-act, though 
very nari'ow. consistini*'. at least at its commencement, of 
two or three rows of feathers in the Parridae, as well as in 
the Charadriidae: whereas in the typical liallidac, according 
to Xitzsch, it issues from the branch as only a single row of 
feathers." This is also true of the embryo. The fact that 
the lower tracts all join and fuse together throughout the 
lower ventral half of the body, though proba])ly of ancestral 
origin, strengthens the su])position that the bird belongs to 
the l.imicolae, as this condition is very nearly duplicated in 
the woodcock. 

The first embryo shows eight rectrices developed, with 
two outside papillae still to lengthen: the later stage shows 
ten. They are divided into two groups, one on either side 
of the medial line with the intervening space very wide 
and including the long, blunt end of the uropygium. The 
lonaest rectrices are central, and the shortest — mere buds 
— outside. Both upper and under coverts are well developed 
and are as long as the rectrices, the under ones, however, 
being without pigment. The primaries and secondaries 
show only as papillae, ten for each, while on the uropygial 
gland there are traces of undeveloped feathers. 

An examination of the three-day chick shows that the 
rectrices have moved together at the center so as to make 
an unbroken line, though the outer feathers, as in the em- 
bryo, are only half as long as the central. The upper co- 
ygpts — of which there are now five pairs instead of four — - 
are the same length as the rectrices and so close to them that 



296 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

they seem scarcely separable. The uropygial gland is 
feathered. 

The primaries and secondaries at last have commenced 
to grow. They consist, like the tail, of down feathers, but 
are very short, though the secondaries are only three-quarters 
as long as the primaries. A most noticeable point is their 
great weakness and smallness as compared with the tail. 

In a third, slightly older bird, the tail, which must have 
grown rapidly, is comparatively long; true feathers have 
taken the place of the down, which still adheres to their tips. 
The relationship of the outer feather to the center is about 
the same as in the preceding chick, but the tail as a whole 
has far outstripped any other feathered portion of the body. 
The coverts are still very close to the rectrices and the uropy- 
gial feathers are greatly lengthened. 

Practically no growth has been made by the primaries; 
the secondaries, however, have forged ahead and are half 
again as long as the primaries. They are very short near 
the wrist, but grow longer as they approach the elbow. None 
of the wing feathers are more than half the length of the tail. 

When the young jacana is half way to maturity its 
tail is nearly full adidt length, though the feathers are not 
quite so strong and heavy as in the mature bird. The pri- 
maries have now broken from their sheaths and a few even 
surpass the secondaries in length. They are still very short, 
however. Except for the thumb, on which there are several 
well developed sheaths, the pinion otherwise is practically 
devoid of feathers. The primaries are divided into two sets : 
the first, on the carpal portion of the hand, consisting of 
four short and rather weak feathers of equal length; the 
second set, or outer set, is embedded in the digital portion of 
the pinion. Beginning at the sixth, which is nearly twice 
as long as the preceding four, they gradually shorten as they 
api)roach tlie ti]) so that the outer primary is only as long 
as the foiii- on the carpals. The outer six are much stronger 
and heavier than the others. (See Fig. 98.) 



DEVELOPMENT OF JACANA 297 

Til is gradual arrested development of the outer feath- 
ers undoubtedly is a remnant of the long forgotten ages, 
when the jacana was a tree climber. As in the hoatzin and 
the pheasant — though to no such extent — the shortening 
possibly carries back to the time when the young nestling 
made its unsteady way from branch to branch, reaching and 
cliniiinff with clawed fingers to whatever would lend a firm 
wing hold. Now the claw at the tip of the wing is gone and 
only a mere trace, in the shortening of these feathers, is left 
to hint of those early habits. 

The reason for the curtailing of the four car])al remiges 
still remains unsolved, though possibly it is due to certain 
undetermined present day causes. 

At this stage the secondary coverts are very long and 
extend beyond the secondaries for nearly four times their 
length. They form a temporary, secondary wing of sorts, 
and are fully matured in length. ( See Fig. 98.) The accel- 
eration must be due to some fairly recent cause and undoubt- 
edly they are of great aid to the young bird essaying its early 
flights. The wing rapidly changes to its normal appearance 
between half maturity and maturity, so that by the time the 
chick attains its full juvenile plumage, the primaries, secon- 
daries and their coverts have assumed their natural adult 
condition. 

Embryos are supposed to retain throughout their early 
stages some at least of their ancestral characters, which later 
disappear. Some characters are especially prominent at first 
and then die out, while others remain to disappear more 
slowly at later stages in life. Thus the rapid growth of the 
tail in the jacana, both in the embryo and immature bird, 
would seem to be an ancient character which has been checked 
toward maturity in the modern bird through lack of use or 
some other cause. Its advanced development in the young 
embryo shows that it is one of the oldest ancestral feather 
characters and must have played an important part at some 
time. This being the case, the tail was probably, at some 




H 
K 

O 
X 

< 

< 



C 



< 

< 

-5 

o 



^ o 






ca -a 
c c 

ca O 

o o 
CD V 
-5 "= 

-o ■= 

o s- 

3 

>. o 

(u a 

i. o 

v> 

■~ -o 

J= >. 

15 "^ 

_g 8 



E '3. 



a 



E5 
Z 01 



£ J! 

a) ? 

■o S 

J' 5 

> 
■o 



Cli 

0. 



DEVELOrMKNT Ol .lACANA 25)9 

period, of much greater size than it is today. ''IMiiis we can 
inini>ine an ancestral l)ird witli clawed tlninil) and tinker tliat 
nested in trees; probably with a str()n<>er Hi^»ht, and cei'tainly 
with a better l)alanced and longer tail than at present. 

DIASTATAXY 

A crowdino- and i-e(hiction of the f'oni-th seeon(hn-y oc- 
curs in the youn<»' chick, which in sonic way may be due to 
the diastataxy of the win*);'. There are ten secondaries and 
eleven coverts in the einbi'yo, the extra covert being- placed 
l)etween the I'ourth and fifth. It is small and raised slightly 
out of Hue from the others, there also being a slight shifting- 
out of })lace of the one above. Here, however, the shifting 
ap])ears to cease and the coverts above remain in their regu- 
lar positions. 

At hatching time or a little later, the extra covert falls 
di]"ectly into line and now regularly becomes the fifth, while 
the original fifth becomes the sixth, and so on. There is, 
however, no fifth secondary to which it may become a covert. 
All the down secondaries are in line. (Fig. 98.) 

Now comes a curious phase in the growth of the secon- 
daries themselves. As they commence to grow rapidly, the 
fourth is left far behind as a mere little bud, crowded and 
pushed up out of line as was once the extra covert. After 
a period it manages to regain the line and, at first very slowly, 
to lengthen. Later, however, when the secondaries are near- 
ly grown it more than recovers the strength it once lost and, 
pushing quickly ahead, overtakes the rest before they are 
fullv matured." (Fig. 98.) 

It is hard to account for this condition, though the dias- 
tataxy of the wing may have something to do with it. It 
is possible that some particular stress exerted by the move- 
ment of the changing coverts, may have caused it to be drawn 
up, though why the down slieath should be in line and not 
the main sheath, can be answered onlv bv a more thorough 



:30() TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITLSH GUIANA 

examination of other specimens. Tliat it is of regular occur- 
rence in the vouno- chicks is assm-ed by the fact that its pres- 
ence was noted in several birds at different stages of growth. 

A FEW POINTS CONCERNING THE EINIBRYONIC HEAD 

The embryonic bill is short, with a blunt end, somewhat 
compressed, and both mandibles are of the same length. 
There is a small "egg-tooth" on the tip of the upper mandi- 
ble. An examination of several specimens for the length of 
))ill as compared with the adult shows a steady uniformity 
in the growth of that organ as comj)ared with the age of the 
chick. 

The nostrils do not appear through the thick membrane 
of the nasal fossa until near hatching time. In the three-day 
chick they are small round apertures, 7 mm. from the tip 
of the bill. As the bird grows older, they gradually increase 
in length, becoming oval, until in the adult they are twice 
as long as broad and lie parallel to the culmen. 

The skin flap about the bill extends far up between the 
great eyes of the embryo, and fills the entire space between 
them. It consists of a long, soft, loose flap of tissue attached 
to the base of the bill. In the hatched chicks it hardens and 
becomes much shorter, taking on the shape and proportion- 
ate size of the adult wattle. 

TOES AND CLAWS 

The extraordinary length of the claws is of special in- 
terest in this bird. The claw of the hind toe greatly length- 
ens as the bird matures until it far surpasses any of the oth- 
ers. In the embryo it is very little longer than the rest and 
composes about one- third of the toe. The other claws are 
of normal size, blunt at the end and extend straioht out from 
the toe with a slight downward curve. 

After the jacana is hatched the hind claw commences 
to grow ra})idly while the others remain stationary, except 



DEVELOPMENT OI' J AC AN A 301 

that they all l)C('onic ])ointc(I with a more noticeable down- 
ward curve. (Fig. i)l).) 15y the time the chick is one-third 
grow^n the hind claw measures exactly one-hall' of the hind 
toe. The forward claws commence to elongate slowly, hut 
still remain slightly curved. After several davs of steady 
increase, however, the curve straightens out and the second 
and third claws are nearly two-thirds as long as the hind 
claw. This last is still growing, but more slowly, and com- 
poses only a little more than half the toe. The rapid growth 
of the front claws is of short duration and at maturity the 
first claw is greatly lengthened again, far outdistancing any- 
thing else, so that it finally makes up about two-thirds of 
the hind toe. The other claw^s gradually straighten and 
thicken, their development during the later stage being to- 
ward strength rather than length. 

There can be but small hesitancy in declaring that the 
claws are not a product of ancient acquirement; the last 
doubt is swept aside b\' the fact that in the embryo, and even 
the yoimg nestlings they are small and practically like those 
of other birds. The long toes, on the other hand, are of more 
ancient origin, for only in the very early embryonic stages 
are they short. In later stages and at the time of hatching, 
they are of enormous size and do not change proportionally 
during the entire growth to maturity. When one sees the 
jacana stalking in stately fashion from lily pad to pad — 
with the pad often slowly sinking, but not too fast, because 
of the evenly applied w^eight, one easily understands why 
these characters exist; that their development is due to a 
specialization of habit. 

Continually driven by some water-fearing animal or 
other cause to seek safety and food on the lily pads, it soon 
became a habit with the jacana to remain there. Because 
the weight was applied more evenly to a larger space on the 
pads, it followed that the bird with the longest toes could 
travel farther, and glean more, and run less danger of falling 
into the w\iter, possibly to be devoured, than those less for- 



302 TROPICAL WILD LIl'K IN liRITISH GUIANA 




Photo hii p. a. IT. 
FIG. 99. CLAWS OF THREE-DAY-OLD JACANA SHOWING CURVATURE 

tuiiately provided with shorter toe.s. Thus a useful tend- 
ency was fostered and, through \oug past ages of gra(hial 
selection, the lengthened toes slowly evolved. 



SPUKS 



Quoting from Forbes, we find that: "The 'spur' in P(ir- 
r<i jdCdUd at lea.st, consists of an external, translucent, yellow 



I)i:\'EL()P.MKXT Ol" .IA( ANA 303 

e])i(k'i-iiii(' layer, wliicli iiufsts a cc'iiti-al coi-e of coinpact 
fihi'oiis tissue, tliis in tiii-n heini*' sin)})()rte(l by a loii^- pi-o- 
jec'tion dex eloped at the I'adial side of the first metaearpal." 
The first inetaeai"])al, whieh in most hii'ds has a ])r()jeetion 
on its I'adial surface, has heeonie elongated to foi-ui a base 
for the great spur. It is first noticeable as a very slight en- 
largement of the bone in the newly hatched chick. As the 
chick becomes oldei", the |)i"()jection continues to gi'ow. but 
the epidermis does not commence to harden until the bird 
is at least half grown. U]) to that time it is only a bony 
knob covered with ordinary soit skin. T'l-om now on. how- 
ever, it begins to take the form of a spur, but does not become 
a sharpened point until the bird reaches full maturity. 

Forbes failed to mention the second spur, if s])ur it ma\ 
be called. It is a small blunt protuberance situated just 
below the large spur and consists of an "external, translu- 
cent, yellow epidermic layer." It is supported by a small 
l)ony ridge on the ulnare which extends up across the inner 
side of the wrist. In the young bird the ulnare possesses a 
ridge on its inner posterior siu'face, caused by an enlarge- 
ment of the third metacarpal on which the ulnare rests. Al- 
though late to ossify, the ridge finally becomes a base for 
the secondary spur. It is doubtless used to strengthen the 
larger spur as a means of defense. 

SOME OXTOGEXETIC YARIATIOX\S 

In Figure 100, the body length of an adult is taken as a 
constant and the bodies of chicks and embryos of various 
stages are proportionally raised to that size. Thus, if the 
body of an embryo were as large as an adult, the winsj- and 
leg would be as long as in the blocked figure. By this means, 
an idea may be obtained of the relationship, throughout dif- 
ferent stages of development, of the several limbs to the 
body. 

The embryo shows a fairly well defined balance between 
the leg, wing and body such as one would ordinarily expect 



Adult 




3 PAy CViic'K 

wiNQ 




f^ ^^1 




Booy 

\ 






U-ECJ , 

\ 

\ 
\ 


/ 

/ 
/ 
/ 

/ 
/ 


/ 
/ 

/ 

/ 
/ 
/ 
/ 




/ 
/ 


■WiNQ 






uecv 



FIG. 100. CHART OF RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LEG. BODY AND 
WING OF THE GROWING JACANA 



i)i:\'i:i.()PMKX'r oi" .iacana .-jor) 

to sec in a bird witli an evenly balanced use and development 
of botli limbs, as is I'ound in many l*asseres and others. The 
le<>" commences to grow with rapidity, however, l)ef'()re the 
embryo hatches, so that in the very yonn*^' chick we find it 
almost proportionallj' as long as in the adnlt. The elonga- 
tion at this time is greater than in any long-legged bird I 
have examined. 

As time advances the legs continue to lengthen until 
the chick is more than half grown; then comes a slackening, 
while the wings commence to elongate and put on their flight 
feathers. Until shortly before this period, they had re- 
mained practically at a standstill — little insignificant, use- 
less, downy appendages. The little brown-striped bird with 
gigantic legs, having until now no need for wings, success- 
fully hides among the stalks of rice and heavy matted grass 
that cover the savannah, or plunges into the thickets of reeds 
that line the inland pools. 

The necessity for flight at length arises, for the bird 
must hunt farther afield in search of food, and the dense 
grass impedes its progress. With its increasing size and 
somewhat awkward gait the nearbj'^ vegetation does not al- 
ways offer such a safe retreat as before; so the wing grows 
and with it the feathers for flight; and the flight, though 
never strong, serves its purpose well. 

Thus in the development of the jacana, from hatching 
to maturity, there are two significant phases : the first, where 
the chick is practically wingless; the second, where the 
wings play their functional part. Here again Nature's hand 
is apparent and because of environment, color, habits, need 
for strong legs and apparent lack of use for wings, these 
members remain small and weak through the earlier stages, 
and strengthen later only as need requires. 

THE WING 

The accompanying curve, (Fig. 101 ), is drawn to show 
the variations that take j)lace in the three constituent seg- 



.3()() 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 



1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 n-]-i — |- -| — \^ — (- 


MMI IMUMMMIinilTTrni Hi 


■tnKvvp A wH fiMWi ra'E'r'^i^ ' ' ' ' 1 1 i i 1 1 uui uvi 1 1 1 : 




... ,. , ,11 ,,, , .. , . 


--:■ i — ZZZZ'.'.1'ZZZZ'Z'.".Z'T 


til' • 




_ .1 + 4 ^ - --- 


lUIIIIIIIIIIII-lllllli'ltitlllllllllllllllllllll 




.., .,.:..-.>,- -iij^m 






"^ 'Mil t 


;;»r-- ;' ^; ;-,::; I!! 






i:::i: :;U:-:iti.: ^ 'j:r^zz'i'-z--iz:^:::z 


■i 5-. "^^.^--^ 1' 1 i' ^" 1 .---^ '' 1 ' 1 r— — " ~. 1 




- ^^^^^^i^-^iMiM T^^"- ■■^>^:y, ; : 






. tLri:iuji^j4^--^"j7Tr^^ .:.: ..::i 


'1 ^=?3. ii; 


____.-■ = — j j 


I* - - -' ' XX 




; ' ' .^ ■ .lT-. 




T' — cs:23Ha:j 


TTnT ' 


" " " " """""_:" : : :: ::. - -CX- 




::i[::::::::4:. + ± ^t- 


--I -14-1- 1 1 1 1 1 1. 



FIG .101. DIAGRAM OF ONTOGENETIC VARIATIONS OF THE WING OF JACANA 



ments of the wing (luring the development of the chick. The 
M'ing of the matvn*e bird is this time used as a constant to 
wliich those of immature stages are proportionally raised, so 
that in every case their wings equal those of the achdt in total 
length. Thus if the embryonic wing equalled the parent in 
actual size, the relative proportions of its segments would 
be as indicated in the curve. 

The curve shows the directly opposite growth of the 
arm and pinion throughout the whole developing period. 
The forearm remains constant and takes a course midway 
i)etween the two. That the growth of the arm and pinion 
sliould directly change about in the short period of time 
between the first quarter and the half-grown stages must be 
fraught with some meaning of which at present we have only 
gleams of understanding. The lengthening of the pinion or 
hand takes place during the early days of the chick, when 
there are still traces of ancient climbing habits and possibly 
it may be numbered as anotlier disappearing arboreal char- 
acter. The decrease of the arm may also be placed as a de- 
clining character, for it finds an exact parallel in the young 
hoatzin, tliat living echo of the past. The great decrease of 
the hand in the half grown fledgling, when the wing begins 
to prepare for flight, and the corresponding increase of the 
arm furtlier parallel the lioatzin and make one feel sure 
tliat at one time this bird spent much of its time in trees or 
at least reared its clawed voung there. But this was long 
ages ago, before tlie wing became a practically useless ap- 
])endage to the young nestling. 



CllAriKU XIX 

NOTES ON THE DKVF.I.OPMENT OF THE SMOOTH-IHIJ-EI) ANI 

[Crut op J I (((/ a (ini) 

PTERYEOSIS 

The series of eml)rvos examined embraced several stages 
ill the (level()])iiKnt of the down feathers in their papiUae 
state. The ditt'ereiit tracts were found in their most simple 
and primitive form, ])resenting excellent opportunities for 
the stndy of their develojjment in regard to the rate of 
growth, pigmentation and transition to the adult stage. 

\Vhen the embryo has passed through about half its 
incubation period, the papillae containing future down 
sheaths show scarcely any pigmentation. None of the 
sheaths, except the rectrices and their upper coverts, as yet 
are pigmented. The rectrices, eight in number, are divided 
into two groups by the pygostyle, the sheaths being 2 mm. 
long and most heavily pigmented at their bases. The coverts 
are smaller and less developed, the central pair being pig- 
mented the most densely. 

All the feather tracts are pigmented in the embryo of 
about thirty-six hours later development. The rectrices are 
still the longest, though the femoral and humeral tracts have 
made a rapid growth. The femorals are indicated by a single 
row of sheaths directly in line with the rectrices and appear 
to be a continuation of them. Proceeding anteriorly, they 
divide into several rows and form a triangle, one side of 
which is parallel to the spinal tract. The single row con- 
tains more pigment than the remainder. (Fig. 102.) 

The spinal tract is narrowly cleft over the sacral and 
dorsal portions, closing at the neck and lower pelvis. It 
consists of a double line of sheaths which run together into a 
single line over the scapular region, and where the cleft 



'.iOH 



rUOPKAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




I'IkiIi, hi/ l>. (I. II. 
FIG. 102. ANl EMBRYO SHOWING PIGMENTATION OB^ THE FEMORAL TRACT 



closes at the neck, into a triple row, which becomes weaker 
as it approaches the head. In the adult this portion becomes 
more pronounced and is cleft below the base of the head with 
a branch running above each eye. The cleft in tlie main 
tract is shorter and is joined over half the sacral portion, 
between the two main branches, by a middle row of feathers. 
The pectoral tract consists of a double row naming 
paiallel to the upper ventral and connected with it by a few 
undeveloped sheaths. In tlie adult these feathers are fully 
developed and completely fill the space between the outer 
pectorals and the ventrals, thus forming a complete tract. 
To this, outside and parallel to the ventral, runs a single 
row of feathers, which, in the embryo, is nearly absent and, 
only about twenty-four hours l)efore hatching, commences 
to be noticeable. (Fig. 108.) 



DEVELOPMENT OF ANI 



;i()U 




a 





FIG. 103. PTERYLOSIS OF ANI 
a. Embryo. 6. Adult. 



DEVELOPMENT OF PADS ON THE WING 

The adult ani has two small horny growths on the wing, 
one at the tip of the pollux and one at the tip of the second 






FIG. 104. WING KNOBS OF THE ANI 

a. Twenty-four hours before hatching. /;. Twenty-four hours after hatching. 

c. Upon leaving the nest. 



DEVELOPMKM' OF AM ;{ii 



(li,i>il. Tliey arc scarcely noticeable in the adult, htit. if we 
examine some of the eai'lier sta^'es in the <4i-()\\th of the win^', 
we find them lar<>'e and evidently playing a pait in the life 
cycle . 

The first sign of any protnherance is found in the earlv 
emhi-yo \vhen it is about t\\()-lil'ths developed. They take 
the Tonn of a fleshy hook on the pollux and a fleshy hook-like 
knob at the lip oi' the wing. There is no sign of an extra 
j)halanx at either place. As the embryonic (]evelo])ment 
advances the hook on the pollux becomes blunter and round- 
el- ujitil, twenty-four hours before hatching, it is a lai-ge, 
i-ounded, fleshy knob covering the whole ti]), though mainly 
on the ventral side. (Fig. lOki and b.) 'I'he knob on the 
second digit, also mainly on the under side, is larger and 
rounder and covers tlie tip. Both growths have hardened 
and become calloused. After hatching they grow smaller 
and at the same time harden until, at the time the bird is 
ready to leave the nest, they are very small and almost bony. 
(Fig. 104c.) 

The fact that the knobs are entirely dernial. though of 
claw-like appearance in the young embryo, shows that they 
are a later specialization of what in former times probably 
were well develoj^ed and functional claws. The egg shell of 
the ani is of very great thickness and the egg-tooth of the 
embryo is comparatively small. 'J'herefoi'e, after the shell 
has been cracked, some comparatively strong force must be 
brought to bear upon it to pry it apart foi- the escape of 
the little chick. Consequently the wings and feet must be 
used for this piu'pose after the manner of hatching chicks 
of the domestic fowl. But, in this case, the shell beinef much 
thicker proportionally, the w'ings are especially equipped for 
pushing and prying and are undoubtedly of much use in 
this first great effort. This is borne out by the fact that the 
knobs are larger and much more developed at tlie time of 
hatching than either before or after. 



;ii2 



TROPIC AI. WILD l.llK IN IJRITiSII (, LIANA 






FIG. 105. DEVELOPMENT OF THE THIRD DIGIT OF THE ANI 
a. Partly developed embryo. b. Twenty-four hours before hatching, c. Adult. 



DIGITUS 

The })one structure of the digitus presents several in- 
teresting features. Two points especially stand out on ac- 
count of their being peculiar to this bird or its near rela- 
tives. First is the curious horizontal flattenina: of the third 
metacarpal. It appears ahnost to be divided into two bones 
running ])arallel to each otlier and connected by a very 
thin transparent layer of bone. At tlie proximal end. where 
it is ankylosed to the second metacarpal, it is broadly flat- 



DEVP^LOi'MKNT Ol" AM m'.i 

tened and sli^litly concave, the two parallel bone centers 
clearly .slu)win<>'. Distally it gradually decreases in width 
and the heavy portions run together until just before con- 
nection with the upper carpal, it narrows suddenly to ex- 
treme thinness so that it is flattened vertically at this point. 

A study of the embryonic wing shows the metacarpal 
in question to be a strong, though somewhat smaller bone 
than the one above it. It is round and shows no sign of flat- 
tening. Upon examining an older embryo I found that, 
when the bone begins to ossify, the ossification is weaker 
above and stronger at the sides. The endochondral bone 
takes the form of a scroll witli the fissures running to the right 
at the distal end. ^Vfter the bird hatches and ossification of 
the shaft approaches completion, the bone still remains 
rounded, though the metacarpal has commenced to broaden 
slightly and to become thinner at the time the bird leaves the 
nest. When the adult state is attained we find the bone 
flattened as above described. 

The second and more interesting point is the strange 
T-shaped form of the third digit. It really is composed of 
two elements at an early eml)ryonic stage. The stem is sep- 
arate from the cross piece. It is an irregular rounded body 
resting against the cross piece, but not a part of it, as shown 
by its dividing line. It appears in the embryo, twenty-four 
hours before hatching and long after ossification has set in, 
as a rounded knob partly ankylosed to the main digit. The 
ankylosis is complete at hatching time, but actual ossification 
does not commence nntil the bird is several hours old. Up 
to this time it has only been in a weak cartilaginous state. 
(Fig. 105.) 

Other evidence of a f(nirth digit has been found in the 
early embryos of a tern and the hoatzin, while W. K. Parker, 
in his two papers, "Fowl's Wing" ' and "Morpholog}^ of 
Opisthocomus," ' states that there is a projection on the 

» Phil. Trans. Zool. Soc, I>oiulon, 1888. 

^ Trans. Zool. Soc, I>ondon, 1895, pp. 09-71. 



;jl4. TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

proximal portion of the third digit which iiiay be the rudi- 
nieiit of a fourth. In exaniiniim" tliis bone in an embryonic 
king vulture, I found, as in the ani, that there is a partially 
free jirotuberance near its proximal end. Unfortunately, 
however, having no younger embryo, I cannot say if the 
])n)tubcrance is ever entirely separate in tliis l)ird. 

All things considered it would seem, in the ani, as if this 
])rojection is the remnant of a foin'th digit or one of its car- 
])als that at one time was separate, but now has become at- 
tached to the third. That it is not a later specialization of the 
third is shown by the fact that only at a fairly early embry- 
onic stage is it at all free. If it were a specialization, it 
never would have been entirely so. 

On the other hand, figuring tliat the stem of the T is 
the remnant of a fourth digit it woidd seem as if there might 
be some significance attaclied to the flattening and near di- 
vision of the third metacarpal. This does not seem to be 
true, however, as up to the time the chick is several weeks 
old, the bone remains round and does not really commence 
to flatten until the bird is able to fly. It is a recent specializa- 
tion caused, possibly, by some individual movement of the 
wing and does not have any direct bearing on the irregular 
structure of the third digit. 



GROWTH or THE AVING 

A significant fact about the wing is the rate of growth 
of the various elements of the hand. The hand is divided 
into two component parts, metacarpus and digitus. Com- 
pared with the human hand, the metacarpus represents the 
palm, and the digitus, the thumb, first and second fingers, 
or as some will have it — the first, second and third fingers. 
Let lis call the parts of the wing in question the palm and 
the index. 

Figuie lOOa is a curve drawn to represent the growth of 
these parts starting w^ith the half grown embryo. Tlie length 



DEVELOPMENT OF ANI 315 

of the adult wing is used as a constant of measure and all 
otlier lengths are |)r()])ortionally increased to it. 

We see, from tlie curve, that, in the lialf-developed 
embryo, the palm is nearly twice as long as the index. A 
few days later the rate of the index growth has increased so 
that now it is about tliree-quarters as long as the palm. 
Twenty-four hours before hatching they again diverge and 
the palm makes the more ra])id growth. Forty-eiglit hours 
later, or twenty-four hours after hatching, the index, having 
increased its rate of growth, is practically the same lengtli 
as the palm. From now on they continue to grow evenly 
until the adult stage is reached. 

If embryonic characters are any indication of charac- 
ters of past ages, the early preponderance of the palm would 
indicate that at some time it played a more important part 
than it does now. A glance at archaeopteryx would make 
it appear as if this might be the case, for that ancient rep- 
tile-bird bore most of the primaries on its palm. Archaeop- 
teryx, however, cannot be taken as a criterion, for it was as 
highly specialized along certain lines as our present day birds 
and mav not necessarilv have been the true ancestral type of 
the modern bird. The probabilities are that the ancestral 
ani had a longer metacarpus than the modern representative, 
which was a survival of the long metacarpals of the lizard, 
and ])ossibly it held more remiges than at the present day. 

Figure 106b is a curve of the growth of the wing parts, 
all measurements being increased to adult size as before. The 
humerus makes a rapid growth until near hatching time when 
it suddenly changes to comparative slowness, and later, to 
fair rapidity, which keeps up until adult. The ulna at first 
grows rapidly at the same rate as the humerus, but, after 
the embryo is half developed, is delayed until after hatching. 
Then it grows approximately at the same rate as the hu- 
merus. The pinion is delayed, on the other hand, in the 
embryo until it is about three-fifths developed. Its rate of 
growth takes an intermediate path between the other two 



DEVELOPMKN'I' OF ANI :U7 

until soon after hatching and then ])aiallel.s tliem to the time 
wlien the bird is able to leave the nest. Both ulna and pin- 
ion then show a sliojit decrease in growth as compared with 
the humerus. 

A curious condition exists just before and after the 
chicks emerge from their shells. A few hours before, the 
growth of the three bones becomes retarded and remains so 
until at least twenty-four hours after hatching. Then they 
again commence to grow rapidly. The retardation is prob- 
ably due to the immense amount of energy used up by the 
chick in forcing its way out of the shell. Its wings play an 
important part in this operation and are constantly in use, 
thus consuming the energy which otherwise would have been 
applied to their growth. The slight retardation of the ulna 
and pinion after the young bird leaves the nest is due to the 
more violent use they are put to in flying — especially the 
pinion — and possibly to the fact that these bones hold the 
chief flight feathers, which make a stronger growi;h than any 
others on the humerus. To prove the former statement I 
kept a young ani, taken just upon leaving the nest, in close 
confinement for over a month, where he could not use his 
wings. At the end of that time the ulna growth remained 
about the same, but the pinion had increased at exactly the 
same rate that it had been growing, up to the time the bird 
was able to leave the nest. It was longer in actual measure- 
ment than in the adult. The humerus, on the other hand, 
was slightlv retarded. 

Another point that may be worth touching upon is the 
opposite or alternate rate of growth of the ulna and pinion 
in the embryonic stages. The ulna slackens when the pinion 
makes a rapid growth. Then seeming somehow to have 
gained the ascendency, it commences a rapid growth, the 
pinion immediately decreasing its rate in the same propor- 
tion. They both decrease, about twenty-four hours before 
hatching, when the delaj^ed stage for the whole wing com- 
mences. There seems to be a definite connection between 



318 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 



the two, wherein tlie ^rowth of one detraets from the (>'rowth 
of the othei- and definite stages seem to liave been arranged 
for eaeli to letigthen, so tliat, in the end, one will not far 
outdistanee the other. 

FEMUK 

In the embryo tlie femur is proportionally much strong- 
er than in the adult. Its diameter is 18 per cent of its length, 
whereas in the adult, it is less than 8 ])er 
per cent. As the embryo develops, the 
bone grows thinner, but is large even in 
the fledgling and for several weeks after 
the bird leaves the nest. 

TIBIO-TARSUS 

The ossification center of the shaft is, 
as usual, in the middle of the ])one and 
works out in both directions. The ridges 
are drawn together at this point and form 
a kind of narrow waist, which makes it 
appear as if the bone were composed of 
two elements grown together. (Fig. 107.) 
At the upper end the ossification divides 
on the inner side and forms two points 
like the points of a writing pen. At the 
distal end it is greatly expanded with a 
deep groove on the upper side. This is 
the groove between the two distal con- 
dyles and, in the embryo, commences very 
near the middle of the bone shaft. Botli 
condyles are long and much bent back. 

The embrvonic fibula is longer and rath- 
er thicker than in the adult. It is 37 




TIBfA 



FIG. 107. 

per cent as long as the libia, while in the ossification of the 

1 1. .1 .• • 1 ^^ . TIBIO-TARSUS OF 

adult tile proportion is only 2.) per cent. the ani 



DEVELOPMENT OF ANI 310 

'J'AKSO-MKTA'I'AKSUS 

Thv inatiirc tarso-iiictatarsus is curiouslv ridiied and 
grooved, the f'ourtli metatarsal })eiii(4- Hattened so as to foiin 
a ridn-e a})()ve the otlier hones. The seeond metatarsal is 
miieh flattened and seems almost to he separated from the 
others, heino- eonneeted. j)artienlarly on the proximal half, 
oidy hy a thin, transparent sheet of ])()ne. In the emhryo, 
however, this is not true. As late as the period when the 
hird leaves the nest all the metatarsals, thouo-h totally fused, 
are still rounded. There is just a slioht hroadening of the 
hones and a eommeneement of the "rooves, with no Hattenino- 
oi the fourth metatarsal. 

BILL 

The exaggerated development of the eulmen takes 
place only after the Hedgling has left the nest. In the newly 
hatched chick, the hill is short and swollen, but in all respects 
typically cuckoo-like. The eulmen is angled histead of 
curved, but as the bird grows older the angles decrease and 
curves take their place. The commissure is greatly curved 
until the cuhiien begins to ridge up and then straightens as 
the ridge forms. The lower mandible is much shorter than 
the upper and the gonys is narrow and very angular. The 
projecting hook of the upper mandible gives the young bird 
a rather hawk-like appearance. The gonys lengthens very 
slowly, so that at least three months pass after fl^'ing before 
the bird attains its full eulmen ridge and its wide flat gonj^s, 
which pushes forward so as almost to fill the notch caused 
by the curved tip of the upper mandible. 













FIG. 108. DEVELOPMENT OF THE BILL OF THE ANl 
a. Half developed embryo. h. Twenty-four hours before hatching, 

c. Twenty-four hours after hatching. (/. Just able to leave the nest, 

c. Six weeks after leaving nest. /'. Adult. 



C IIAPTEll XX 

NOTES OX A WAV EMBRYOS 

I 

A NEAREY MATURED E^FBRYO OF THE DUSKY XIGHTIIAWK 

(\ipriniuh/i(S' iiigrcscens (Cab.) 

PTERYI.OSIS 

Tlie .sevLTJil feather tracts are marked by long violet- 
brown down sheaths. The sheaths of the wing, tail, tarsus 
and femoral tracts are more advanced than the rest, averag- 
ing about 4.5 mm. in length, and are more thickly clustered 
than at any other place on the body. The rectrices w ith their 
upper and under coverts are well developed and long. The 
femoral tracts consist of several rows of long sheaths which 
grow^ close together and make a large patch. These, together 
with the rectrices and their coverts give the embryo a very 
heavily feathered appearance on the posterior portion. The 
feathering of the leg and the especially heavy feathering of 
the tarsus, w^hich is feathered in front with a thick tuft of 
sheaths that extends to the base of the third toe so that the 
tips of the sheaths extend past the second joint, add to the 
heavy posterior coating. (Fig. 109.) 

The w^ing sheaths are equally as long and as thickly 
patterned as the others. Those on the forearm in particular 
are very numerous, the secondaries being buried beneath a 
thick mass of coverts, which, though the rows are a trifle ir- 
regular and rather indiscriminately placed, are all heavily 
represented. The primaries have snigle coverts with a sparse 
scattering of sheaths above. 

The dorsal tract is at no point very dense. Over the 
pelvis it consists of a triple row- of rather closely placed 
sheaths. Above the sacral region the middle row disappears 




"•/'y 



Photo by I'. (1- II- 



FIG. 109. EMBRYO OF THE DUSKY NIGHTHAWK 



NOTES OX K.MI5l{VOS 



323 



and the two outer rows (liver<>e slii>litly to come to^'ether at 
the base of the neck, wliere they continue parallel to the head. 

Tlie inferior tracts consist of two thick rows of sheaths 
extending along either side of the abdomen, which come to- 
getlier above the furcula. A dense ])atch fills the apterium 
over the lower sternum and upper abdomen. 

The head is more or less re"ulaidv covered with i-ows 
which extend to and surround the nostrils. The eye is en- 
circled by a widely separated double row of long feathers 
which connect with the nostril ring by a single row, and the 
eyelid is fringed with short sheaths. From the nostrils, run- 
ning along the groove above the eye, is a double row, and 
midwav between the eyes a tiiple line which extends straight 
back until just in front of the parietal region, where the outer 
lines diverge and gradually round together again to enter 
the spinal tract. The middle line passes into the open space 
thus formed, where two other rows run parallel with it to 
the spinal tract. A single line runs behind the auditory aper- 
ture and joins the ventral tract. The aperture itself is mar- 
gined with short feathers. (Fig. 110.) 




FIG. 110. HEAD PTERYLOSIS OF AN EMBRYO DUSKY NIGHTHAWK 



824 



TROPICAL Wir.n T.IFl", IX BRITISH GUIANA 










FIG. 111. DEVELOPMENT OF BILL OF THE DUSKY NIGHTHAWK 
a. Embryo. 6. Adult. 



EXTERNAL CHARACTERS 

The embryo has the general appearance of being tufted 
and spotted with down sheatlis. The featliering of the head, 
wings and feet, and the curious shape of the bill give it an 
individuality of its own. Tlie auditory apertures are large, 
pear-shaped and very close to the gape, the knob-like nos- 
trils being placed rather near the tip of the upper mandible, 
which, with its rounded "egg-tooth" and curved end, looks 
very different from that of its parent. The bill is more com- 
])ressed than depressed and its frontal half is very narrow 
with the gape extending below the center of the eye. The 
lower mandible is enlarged at the tip, but tliere is no lower 
"egg-tooth" as in pigeons. 

The nasal apertures are round and point directly out- 
ward. They are placed in the lower portion of large, round- 
ed, fleshy protuberances whicli arise on either side of the man- 
dible. JNIidway between the nostril and the tip of the bill 
is a patch of black pigment whicli is directly above a similar 
spot on the lower mandi})le. The upper mandible also is 
slightly pigmented along its cutting edge. 

From the above it may be gathered that the embryonic 
bill varies much in external characters from the adult. It is 
much narrower, much more compressed and the gaj^e is not 
so deep. The nostrils are round, protrude, and are fringed 



NOTKS ON KMI5I{V()S ;j2.") 

with down slicaths, instead of being ittittened witli tlie pro- 
tiil)eranee redueed. 'I'here is no trace of featliers about them 
ill tlie adult. ( Fio'. 111.) 

Tlie featherin<4 of tlie tarsus is much heavier than in the 
adult, this area, in the embryo, bein_<>' one of the most heav- 
ily feathered portions of the body. The seutation of the hind 
tarsus is very shar])ly defined, the scutes being clear cut and 
overla])ping one another like fish scales. 

The wing has a claw on the thumb and one at the tip. 
Both claws are long and weW developed. In this character 
the embryo differs entirely from the adult which, so far as 
I liave been able to determine, is entirely without claws. 

II 

(iuiana Kiskadee Piia)ir/iis s-iiJ pJiiirdhis siiljjhiiraf ii.s- (T.inn.) 

PTERYLOSIS 

The first signs of any pigmentation of the feather pa- 
pillae in the embryonic stages may be found when the em- 
bryo is about three-fifths developed. The longest papillae 
belong to the dorsal tract, though only the posterior portion 
of this show^s. Commencing in the pre-sacral region it imme- 
diately divides into two single rows of sheaths which follow 
the line of the ilia and come together in the post-sacral 
region near the naked eurypygium. These sheaths are also 
the longest on the freshly hatched bird and reach a length 
of 15 mm., while the remainder of the ti-act is represented 
only by undeveloped papillae. The sacral space is narrowed 
down to a narroW' cleft. 

What at first appear to be rectrices in the earlier embryo 
are really the highly pigmented upper coverts. The rectrices 
are present only as mere shadows of papillae. In the hatch- 
ing bird the upper coverts are very long while the rectrice 
sheaths are just beginning to peep forth. As the bird grows 
older, however, the rectrices grow rai)idly and soon overtake 
their coverts. 



326 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

A third tract of lar<4-e develo])inent is the femoral tract. 
Here the sheatlis are neai'ly as long as those of the spinal 
tract and j)i<>inented. A slight darkening and lengthening 
of the scapular tracts may be observed in the young embryo 
and there are a few long sheatlis in the occipital region Avhich, 
in the later period of hatching, become very long and promi- 
nent. In the space between the eyes there are two single 
rows of long, dark sheaths running along the eye grooves. 
All hiferior tracts are indicated only by papillae, there being 
no noticeable pigmentation or lengthening. 

Ill 

Varied Streaked Flycatcher Empidorurmiis variiis varius 

(Vieillot) 

PTERYLOSIS 

Unfortunately I have been able to secure only two em- 
bryos of this bird, both of which are about half developed, 
though one is apparently a few hours more advanced than 
the other. Only small papillae are present, there as yet be- 
ing no sign of pigmentation. Some of the papillae, how- 
ever, are more prominent than others, and, from the exam- 
ination of a newly hatched chick, I find that they are the 
ones that develop into the main down sheaths. 

The positions of the papillae tracts are very similar to 
those of Pitangus sulphuratus of a slightly more advanced 
stage, except in regard to the growth of the rectrices. In 
the present bird these papillae may be seen in their proper 
place with a corresponding row of coverts above, both show- 
ing the tiny specks at their tips wliich are the first indica- 
tion of i)igmentation. The rectrices, themselves, are much 
larger than their coverts. Directly the opposite is the case 
of P. sill j) Jiu rat i!,s in Mhich the coverts develop first, attain- 
ing a good length and a dark j)igmentation before the true 
rectrices appear plainly as papillae. In tlie young cliick of 



NOTES ON KMHRYOS 327 

E. varius, liowcver, wc find that, like tlie other s])ecies, the 
coverts exceed the rectrices in length and develo})nient, 
thongh the latter are present and more advanced than in the 
other. 

The sacral cleft of the spinal tract is slightly wider and 
longer in E. varius and extends heyond the sacral region for- 
ward into the scapular area. In the newly-hatched })ird the 
difference is a little more marked, the arms of the tract heing 
narrower than P. siilphiiratus. In other pai'ticnlars the 
pterylosis of the two ])irds is similar. 



CHAriKK XXT 

NESTING HABITS OF TTTE C.llF-Y-IiREASTED MARTIN 

Prognc cJialf/hcd ((rniel.) 

English : 
Grey-breasted Martin. 

Porturjuese : 
Andorinlia grande. 

Dutch: 
Gewone Witbuik Piirper-Zwaluwen. 

French : 
Martins a' ventre blanc. 

A small bird al)out 6 inches in length. Similar in size to Prague 
■siihi.s. The male is a deep purple blue above^, grey on the throat and 
breast, shading to white beneath. The female is similar with the back 
duller. The young are duller than the females, the back being a decided 
sooty grey or black. The young males, in the second year, resemble 
the adult females. 

Range: Southern Mexico southward through Central America and 
South America to Peru, Bolivia and southern Brazil; island of Trinidad. 



In all civilized districts from Kio northward this is the 
first bird to greet the traveler. As the steamer warps up 
to the pier there are always a few perched on the ridge of a 
nearby roof or garrnlously hovering over the deck. Pro- 
ceeding inland by water or on foot one will see them always 
present, where human habitations exist. 

The grey-breasted martins, like their relatives of the 
north, thrive wherever there is a honse and a clearing. They 
are one of the many birds that have adapted themselves to 
the advances of civilization and, like others, find the new con- 
ditions congenial. They are extremely tame and unafraid 
and because of this courage and pugnacity they are one of 
the most useful birds that gather about the homestead. Xo 
low flying hawk will for long withstand the vicious onslaughts 



CillKV JiRI',ASTKl) MAirriNS :j2U 

of the many martins that <>atlier about him. Tluis tlic hfc 
of many a seed-cat ini>" finch and eatei'piUar-destroying wren 
has heen preserved. 

The v'indows of Kalaeoon house always remained o])en 
and soon after our arrival several martins took advantage of 
this to roost on the rafters over our lieads, entering tln-ougli 
a window close ])cncatli the peak of the roof. On the rare 
occasions when it liad to l)e closed on account of the I'ain 
wliich poiu'ed through in gusts, tlie birds gathered outside 
iti mimbers, some on the sill and others on the eaves above, 
and tried to express their troubles in a k)ud l)ubbling and 
chatter. Though there were otlier open windows nearby, 
they never used them, but ahvays, if their own private en- 
trance were closed, sought other roosting ])laces for the niglit. 
They roosted in pairs and never allowed a third to encroach 
upon what they considered their own territory. 

Later on, near the end of INIarch — the middle of the 
short dry season — mating instincts became u])permost and 
the martins commenced to consider sites for their nests. Un- 
fortunately for us, one pair decided that their roosting place 
on the rafters was an ideal situation; so for the next few 
weeks there w^as a continual shower of sticks and straws from 
above. Fortunately they gave it up after a month of vain 
attempt and sought a new spot. 

A small box with four compartments had ])een erected 
a short time before, on a pole, with the hope that some of 
the birds would take advantage of it. Immediately a pair 
of palm tanagers took possession. Tliis was too much for 
our pair of martins, wdiich at once — incited by jealousy and 
need for a new home — drove away the tanagers and appro- 
priated the partially completed nest as their own. The occu- 
pation w^as not accomplislied, however, witliout many a 
scuffle with the original tenants and other pairs of martins 
who had nesting ideas of their ow^n. The buikling did not 
commence immediately after possession had been obtained, 
but, either to make sure that the new house was safe — it 



3;i0 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

swayed very much in thv wind — or more firmly to establish 
their ri"lit, it was well on toward the middle of May before 
the mother laid her first ei>g. 

In the meantime other pairs liad commenced to })uild, 
selectin(>' various portions of the huge ])eams that acted as 
])lates for Kalacoon house. The nests were composed of 
sticks, straws, dried grass, string, cloth and anything that 
would act as building material. They were placed back from 
the edge of the beam usually in a corner next to a floor joist. 
The spot, where the birds had been regularly roosting, was 
usually selected for the home site, for when they find an ideal 
location they remain there all their lives, or at least until 
conditions change. Unlike the purple martin, the too near 
company of others was not desired and it went hard with the 
individual who inadvertently overstepped his neighbor's ter- 
ritory. In this respect they resembled some human beings. 

The Kalacoon martins commenced to lay about the first 
of April. Every bird had been busy for the two preceding- 
weeks collecting material, courting, and fighting. Sometimes 
a dozen or more woidd gather on the ground in front of the 
house and sort over the little twigs and dried grass blades 
lying there. This always was attended w4th perfect harmony 
until two birds woidd decide that they botli liked the same 
stick. They resorted then to force in the dispute that fol- 
lowed, and the fight would go on up in the air or down on the 
ground, until both were exhausted. In the meantime the 
object of their differences was usually spirited away by a 
third party. At any rate they alwa3\s forgot what they were 
fighting about and never returned to the spot to look for it. 
Again, one woidd be sitting alone, awaiting her mate by the 
])rospective nest. Suddenly, after many beautiful evolutions 
in tlie air, he would join her, and their admiration for one 
nnotlier was sliown by wide open bills and a perfect babble 
of warbles. They would sit tlius for a few moments each 
witli its nioiitli open, or tiiey snapped ])ills at imaginary in- 
sects, as if one were urging tlie other to feed it. Then eacli 



GREY IJRKASTEI) MARTINS gSl 

would seek to relieve its feelin<>s in fli^lit, only to return later 
to re])eat the whole perforinanee. 

After eight or ten days of i-e])eated journeys to and 
from the gatliering oroniids, tlie bulky nests were about fin- 
islied and tlie fenlak^s mack' ready for tlieir liousehold duties. 
The several homes beneath the house soon lield tlieir full 
quota of little white e^<»'s. Two held three and anothei" five. 
During' the ])erio(l of ineubation. whieh lasted from fifteen 
to sixteen days, the male showed mueh solieitude for his mate. 
He sat for hours by her side near the nest and chirped and 
twittered in low sweet tones as if striving to enliven the mo- 
notony of her somewhat irksome position. Several times 
each day, though only for a few nu'nutes, she took journeys 
in search of food. 

At hatching time a busy season commenced foi- both 
birds. The business of carrying food to the yoimgsters went 
on all day long, from early morning till late at night. The 
little flesh colored babies with tight shut eyes and gaping 
mouths needed much looking after, for their demands for 
food never abated. After every third or fourth trip, one of 
the parents cleaned nest ^vith its bill, carrying away the ex- 
crement incased in its thin shiny sack, to drop it at a safe 
distance from the home so that the prowling marauder 
might find no tell-tale evidence. (Fig. 112.) 

When a week old, the nestlings presented a curious ap- 
pearance with their half -open eyes, vast stomachs, and shin- 
ing transparent skin thickly studded with the black sheaths 
of vounff feathers — for there is no down until about the tenth 
day, when the feather sheaths break. Their food consisted 
entirely of insects — flying ants, termites, ant-lions and drag- 
on-flies. Sometimes a dragon-fly was brought of too large 
dimensions to be easily swallowed whole. Then the wings 
were severed, one by one, from the body, which was well 
crushed by the bill of the parent. The youngster would seize 
it fiercely and swallow it with incredible rapidity, undergoing 



;j:i2 TROPKAJ. will) LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




Plwtu by 1'. a. U. 
FIG. 11?. GREY-BREASTED MARTIN, THREE DAYS" OLD 



terrible contortions, ga.sping and choking for several minutes 
after it had gone down. 

The young birds were lined up at the edge of the beam, 
twenty-two days after hatching, ready to begin their trials 
of Hight. They returned to their nests for a few nights and 
then, having partly learned to care for themselves, departed 
elsewhere to roost. Every morning, together with others 
that had been reared in less auspicious places, they gathered 
on the roof of the house with their parents. Invariably at 
6:lo, at a seemingly preconceived signal, they launched foith 
into the air with one great rush and chatter, swooping and 
sailing about the house for a few minutes before departing 
over the bush to seek their morning meal. 

The ait of catching their meal did not come cpiite so 
easilv as the first flights. Tliev had to be fed for a week 



GREY BRF.ASTKI) M AH TINS IVM 

or more al'tcr 11r\- were (lod^iii^- and darting" about in the 
air, and some even elamored I'oi' i'oocl after their parents 
were nesting a<4aiii. Tlie old birds at first perched l)eside 
tlieir off'si)ring, to feed them, but soon — the yonn«»' birds, 
learning to grasj) the insect with theii" bills, instead of hav- 
ing it crammed down their throats — hovered above and 
forced the young to reach up to seize it when they passed 
by. Hecoming expert in this and being greedy, the young- 
sters quickly learned to sally forth to meet their parents and 
take the food from them in the air. It gradually dawned 
u})on them, as time went on, that they might secure their 
food themselves, as w'ell as from their parents. But this came 
only alter the elders had dropped one or two insects which 
made the youngsters scramble to secure them before they 
escaped. 

A few days later the old birds w^ere nesting again. 
To return to the martins of the bird-house: the young 
hatched, they were cared for in the orthodox fashion. The 
entrance to their home was a round opening about two inches 
in diameter. A cross stick, that projected a foot or more 
beyond the side of the box, was nailed there, about an inch 
below, for a perch. 

I watched for the three little ones to make their first 
appointed trip into the air on the twenty-second day. One 
finally perched in the doorway and looked about in a dazed 
fashion at this new^ world never before discovered. Casting 
a look downward, he decided that it w^as beyond his ability to 
ever trust himself to the great emptiness beneath. It was far 
too perilous to attempt the scramble and climb that wxre 
necessary to gain the outer perch. So there he remained, 
w^hile his two brothers or sisters vainly pushed and squeezed 
to get a glimpse, too. 

The parents hovered about, chiri^ing and urging him to 
chance it, but he remained immovably placed and answered 
all entreaties with weak little noises. They gave it up and 
brought food. When he had received a full share, they tried 



ir.u 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




I'holu hi/ \V. li. 



FIG. 113. NESTING BOX OF GREY-BREASTED MARTINS 



to push liiiii back into the nest, so as to make room for an- 
other, but he would not be pushed. They fed him some more 
until, filled to repletion, he rejected what they brought; but 
still, regardless of the protests of his hungry brethren, he 
blocked the passage, filled with wonder at the new outlook 
of life. He remained thus for nearly two hours, when a 
change of mind suddenly came over him, and, through no 
forcible persuasion, he suddenly backed into the hole. His 
place was taken at once by another, who relinquished it to 
the third, only after taking his fill of the outdoor surround- 
ings. The third remained to be fed for the space of ten min- 
utes or so, and before it could do more than look around, 
was violently replaced by the fir.st claimant for the position, 
who squeezed into the opening and ])ushed his companion 
down into the nest. He held tlie i^osition most of the day, 



GREY BRKASTKI) MARTINS .TJ") 

except wlien tlie otliers, driven to (les])erati()n hy liiin<»er suc- 
ceeded in oustino- him for a few moments. (Fig- 113.) 

The performance was repeated daily for several da5\s, 
a youngster always being at the entrance. 'I'he strongest 
spent most of his time thei-e. ITis ])arents tried every means 
in their ])ower to inveigle him forth, but for a long time 
without avail. They brought liim nice large dragon-flies, 
which were held tantalizinglv a few inches awav; tliev called 
to him to follow them as they moved farther and farther 
along the perch; and finally, clinging to the edge of the hole, 
they fluttered to the perch to show how easy it was. As his 
courage increased he gradually leaned farther out of the 
door to follow their movements or to make an attempt at 
securing the morsels they brought. One day — the sixth — he 
leaned too far, and lost his balance. With an effort he man- 
aged to clutch the stick and with a mighty flutter of wings 
found himself safe and sound on the out-hanging perch. At 
first he scarcely dared to breathe for every little movement 
upset his equilibrium, and it was" only by hard fluttering that 
he could regain his balance. He commenced uncertainly, 
after the first fright wore off, to preen his feathers of the 
small flakes of down still adhering and to stretch his wings. 
The mother bird sat close by, chirping to give confidence, or 
made short flights to instruct him in the first rudiments. The 
father busilv fed the others, for the mother had no time to 
spare. 

Soon the little martin commenced to take interest in his 
surroundings and looked about with much craning of neck, 
glancing this way and that, both up and down. Once he 
lost courage and scrambled back to the hole, but soon re- 
turned as if thoroughly ashamed of himself. At last, upon 
casting a convulsive look downward, he lost his balance, and 
away he went, bravely struggling to keep in the air, at a 
slant toward the ground. Suddenly the knowledge seemed 
to come, and he rose above the bushes, a little uncertainly at 
first, but acquiring more confidence as he progressed. And, 



336 TROPICAL WII.l) I.IFK IX J5RITISH GUIANA 

before disa])|)earing from siglit. lie had essayed the first 
waveriiif^' soar. 

Instead of making for the nearest perch, he flew around 
and around for more tlian ten minutes, always gaining in 
skill and steadiness, so that it was a hard matter to tell their 
flight a])art when he returned accompanied by his mother. 
He alighted on the roof of the box, for the perch, at first, 
looked too difficult, and made that the base for other prac- 
tice flights. Finally time arrived to seek the nest, but then 
came the perplexing question. Which of the fom- holes was 
it? Two laborious attempts at wrong ones at length pointed 
out the right one. 

The second bird left the nest on the following day, but 
several more days elapsed before the third made its escape, 
having remained in the nest for more than a month. 

The general delay undoubtedly was due to the environ- 
mental change in locality of the nest. Thev are ordinarily 
placed in such a position that the young may at least sit on 
the edge of the nest and exercise their wings preparatory to 
the first flight. In this case, in their cramped quarters, there 
was no such advantage, and, at flight time, the young birds 
were entirely unprepared for the new problem that con- 
fronted them. They awaited, therefore, their full strength 
and feather growth before making the attempt, and, when 
flight time did come, it was not a weak flutter to a nearby 
roof or friendly bush, but a strong sally which almost rivaled 
that of their parents. 

For ten days or more the birds used the box as their 
home and doubtless would be using it yet if, while they pre- 
pared to rear a second brood, the elders had not driven them 
away. During their short occupancy I became interested 
in their evident inability to remember, or disregard of which 
of the four openings in the box really was their true home. 
Even after a week of exploration and investigation the ques- 
tion seemed to be somewhat in doubt, for they seldom, until 
near the end, made their way directly to tlie proper spot. 



(Hll.V HRKAS'ri'.I) .MARTINS ;i:}T 

1)iit fii'st tfird sc\('i'al otlur lioks as on tlic first (lav of depar- 
tiire. ^Vt Iciintli. aftfi- many trips, tlic ])r()pc'r nietliod of 
aj)j)r()ac-li suddenly dawned upon their consciousness, and 
thereafter thev made it ^vith unerrin"' skill. 

At that time thei'e was, under the house, a second nest 
M'ith three sli<>htly incubated eggs, which I tliought nu'ght 
be put to some use. By watching the other birds 1 i-ealized 
tliat many actions were the result of newly accpiircd habits, 
and therefore might be influenced by outside agencies. How 
far, though, did these habits control instincts Up to the pres- 
ent, evidence showed that young birds with undeveloped in- 
tellect, ignorant of the life struggle before them, even though 
honu'ng instinct was predonu'nant, were able, only by repeat- 
ed trials, to recognize their home among several others of 
similar appearance. Similarly their parents, upon first tak- 
ing ])ossession, had carried straws to each of the four holes 
until they discovered that four nests were building instead 
of one; even then they would often carry to the next hole 
before discovering their mistake. At length after many 
trips, they became so used to the proper location that no fur- 
ther errors were made. Thus, even they w^ere dependent 
upon a habit to point out their permanent home ; a habit cre- 
ated by repeated trials through which the sense of exact lo- 
cation became, at length, indelibly fixed upon their brains. 

The nest containing the three eggs in question, though 
placed out of any direct rays of the sun, was exposed to the 
light of day, so that the eggs were in plain view of the par- 
ent, W'hen approaching the nest. One day, I carefully 
marked the eggs with blotches of black ink, leaving uncolored 
the large ends with their air chambers, and placed them back 
in the nest as nearly as possible in the same old position. At 
first the martins were much excited and looked at the eggs 
askance, peering this way and that, as if they might find 
the lost originals hidden away in some darkened corner. In 
a few minutes, however, deciding that, though they did look 
different, they were still the same eggs, one of the birds hesi- 



338 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

tatin<»ly crouclicd upon tlicm and the incubation proceeded 
as if n()tliin<>' luid occurred. 

The following day 1 removed both nest and eg'gs, put- 
ting them in a prominent s])()t, only a few feet away from 
theii- original resting j)lace. The parent ])ir(l, disturbed })y 
mv efforts, flew excitedly about, and the instant I left the 
ladder, flew to where her home had been. She almost upset 
herself in vain efforts to alight on the nest, where the nest 
was not. Only after crouching for a full minute among the 
few straws that were left, did she realize that it was gone. 
She rushed to the edge of the beam, looked around and then 
back to where the nest ought to be, dragging the straws about 
as if the nest might be hidden beneath them ; then to the edge 
to look at the ground below, and then back. She repeated 
all these movements several times, and at last, thinking that 
some terrible mistake had been made, flew about for a few 
minutes before returning to repeat her former operations. 
Again she returned, this time with her mate, who in turn, 
showed excitement, and to whom the mystery w^as as inex- 
plicable as to her. Finally they perched together on the 
beam edge. Their eyes searched in all directions, though 
chieliy downward, as if the nest had fallen and rolled to 
some obscure hiding })lace. Then they flew away only to 
return again and again, hoping each time to find the nest 
in its old position. The nest remained in plain sight, but, 
though they often passed close by, the idea never occurred 
to them to investigate it. 

At last, deciding that it was not on the ground and not 
thinking to search elsewhere, they went to roost on the orig- 
inal site. Doubtless it was instinct that caused them to 
search below, but it must have been the habit of finding the 
nest in the same place day after day, which prompted them 
to seek only in the one spot above, although the nest stood in 
plain view before them. 

Instinct and actual habit are so closely associated that 
at times it is scarcely possible to distinguish between them. 



GUKY BREASTED MARTINS 339 

What often is taken for instinct really Is a inwly acciiiircd 
liabit wliit'li. iiiHJer other conditions, iiiight be altered. Thus 
it happened, on the following day, that the martins instinc- 
tively commenced to build a new nest, but, from habit, used 
the old site. From habit they roosted there, even though 
thev knew some enemy to be abroad that had knowledge of 
their hiding ])lace, and though an innate instinct must have 
urged them to choose another location. 

I do not pretend to intimate that newly formed ha])it 
runs contrary to instinct among all ])irds and aminals, for 
such is not the case. If it were, there soon would be no ani- 
mals or birds left, nor other intelligent life. Tf the weak 
inoffensive bird in the bush did not instinctively change its 
abode after that abode had been pillaged, a second outrage 
from the same somx'e would soon follow. The same prompt- 
ing causes that bird to change its abode from season to sea- 
son, for, if the home were permanent, it would not long sur- 
vive the encroachments of its enemies and, once discovered, 
would immediately became a prey to repeated maurauding 
expeditions. On the other hand, there are certain birds, 
wdiich, because they build in protected localities, have no need 
to change, and so, season after season, and year after year, 
return to the same spot to nest. 

To such a class belong the martins. They have been pro- 
tected for himdreds of generations, first by tree holes and 
then by the buildings of civilization. The instinct for pro- 
tective change of home has graduallj' become dormant and 
the habit — now^ nearly an instinct, — of permanency has be- 
come dominant, just as the habits of civilization dominate 
our own savage instincts, which often bui-st forth in times 
of crisis. If repeatedly disturbed, the birds will change, 
often at terrible cost, as has been the case of many of our 
game birds, ducks and even song birds, and the old instinct 
of natural preservation against enemies, never really absent 
— only dormant — becomes uppermost. They will learn new 
habits with which to combat most effectively the new enemy 



340 THOPICAl. WILD LIFK IN ERTTTSH OUIANA 

and these hahits, in tiii-ii, will finally become i)raeticallv an 
instinct to them. 

But to return to our martins; when I had destroyed the 
second nest a few days later, they did not attempt a third, 
but still continued to roost there each ni^ht. Penard tells us 
of taking four sets of eggs from the nest of a pair of these 
birds and still they would not leave. In this instance the 
habit of livin<>' in one place was supreme and clearly domin- 
ated the instinctive idea of seeking a safer home. Undoubt- 
edly the idea would become uppermost if the persecutions 
ke])t up. 

As has been said, individual habit and instinct are so 
closely allied that it is hard to distinguish between them, but, 
nevertheless, there are certain points where the line may be 
drawn, of instinct as subordinate to new habit. Thus the 
young martins, in spite of all their homing instincts, could 
not find their home until they had determined, through repe- 
tition, in which of the foiu' holes it was located. Such knowl- 
edge was acquired only after many trials and trips, wdiereby 
a habit of arriving at the right point was created. The re- 
sidts of the experiment with colored eggs may be put down 
to either instinct or habit, yet, as the birds must have realized 
that the eggs were different, it may have been habit more 
than instinct that caused them to continue the incubation. 
There can be no doubt, however, that from habit only, they 
roosted and started a new nest in the same place, after the 
old had been destroyed. This habit would have proved 
costly, if the nest had been destroyed by an enemy which, 
after new eggs were laid, would ha^'e returned to repeat its 
performance. 

Kvidence also points out that a certain few of their daily 
actions in the round of life are due, not so much to inborn 
instinct as many believe, but to habits acquired from a youth- 
ful training by their parents, from experience, and from a 
wide sense of imitating their elders. For instance, the young 
bird has to be taught how to catch insects. He knows that 



GRKV lUlKASTKl) MAR TINS .'j-il 

they ai'c liis ])ro])cr food, btcuiisc lie lias so hvvu ft'd froii) 
the time of hatehiiio-. and he finally leanis how to eateh them 
only after instrnetion hy and imitation of his parents, 

These observations show, in this hied at any rate, — 
tlionnh |)i-()hal)ly in many others — that eertain habits have 
been aecjnired, due to the ])i-oteetion afforded by the advanee 
of eivilization whieh, if the bird were transplanted from eiv- 
ilization to aneient eonditions, would be of ^reat detriment 
to it. These newly acniuiird habits dominate its natui-al 
instincts. 



CHAPTKR XXII. 

PREIJMINARY NOTES OX THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE WING 

Tluit the different sections of the wings of the lioatzin 
and the common fowl change appreciably in proportion dur- 
ino; the growth of the birds has been demonstrated by Pycraft 
and others. These writers show^ that tlie changes taking place 
in each are more or less parallel. 

The forearm of the newly hatched hoatzin is much short- 
er than the hand, though in the adult it is longer. In the 
embryo of about two-thirds development both are practically 
of the same length, the hand being a trifle shorter. Tlie 
forearm, though now slightly larger, soon after liatching 
shortens to the same length as the arm, which it parallels 
until maturity. A glance at the following figures will show 
that the development of each is in a directly opposite 
direction : 

Opisthocomus Jwazin (Illiger) 

Arm Forearm Hand 

Embryo (-3 dev.) 73.6 mm. 69.6 mm. 68.2 mm. 

2 day nestling 69. " 66.25 " 79.65 " 

10 " ' " 63.6 " 63.6 " 82.6 " 

14 " " 74.7 " 74.6 " 80. 

Juvenile 72. " 73. " m.o " 

Adult 71. " 80. " 65. " 

Note: All the dimensions in tlie above and preceding figures were ob- 
tained by using the adult measurements as a constant. The measurements of 
the young birds were increased so that if the birds were actually as large as the 
adult the length of their arm segnnents woidd be as in the above columns. 

Tilt' (le\elopment of tlie wings of the jacana and the 
aiii iu-e discussed in other chapters where the great amount 
of variation in both is shown. There is a similarity between 
the two; both show" the lengthening of the immature hand 



DEVELOPMENT OF WING 



343 




FIG. 111. DIAGRAM OF WING DEVELOPMENT OF THE HOATZIN 



and its decrease at maturity. The great possible varial)ility 
of the arm first becomes apparent in the jacana, the growth 
of that segment being quite the opposite of that of the hand, 
while the middle section remains practically constant 
throughout all stages. 

Though the different portions of the wing are nearly 
equal in the adult blue-wdnged parrakeet, there is a consid- 
erable variation in the earlier stages of growth. 

Psittac u hi passerin a ( Linn. ) 

Arm Forearm Hand 

24 hour nestling 26.2 mm. 20.7 mm. 24.4 mm. 

3 day " 24.6 " 19. " 18.4 " 

7 "* " 23. " 22.4 " 17. 

Adult 21. " 20.5 " 21.5 " 

Both the arm and the hand of the twenty-four-hour 
nestling are longer than in the adult, while the forearm is 
about the same. The arm decreases steadily to maturity 
through all stages. The whole wing, however, at three days, 
is shorter than in the adult, the hand in particular having 
greatly decreased until slightly smaller than the forearm and 
considerably shorter than the mature hand. By the seventh 
day it is still comparatively shorter, w^hile the forearm has 



liU TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 



- 1 1 1 1 -1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 ( 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 


— rH-i 










— — — - 












"T 




---± _ : .. . - 




- - " rt H- -- 








- U "'^-^ 








... -K^ - --- - 




: tip "=; ±:::: : - 








::::::::!:=;:::::^:::;::::::::::::::: 




:::::ii::::::::::::::!f|:^:::|:::ii[:s:::: 


• --pimorf* IJllJ^J l4fHT IITITT 


--i - - — -- 


- - ^H -" = = ---».= = ;--T---f5 


::: ^'■t'\r^\-j^^- __-i^;=:::::::-:it43-- 


: . . : iHuxirTRu^: : : : ; _ ...i I"::.:" 


-r'^'TTftl'll'lir'i 'lit ^0^' 


-:^.i-~ _^____-._ rJ-~ 

-TA cKRHT \ns ■ : ■ . ; 


NJ Ijjj^jjj] 






1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 



FIG. 115. DIAGRAM OF WING DEVELOPMENT OF THE TRUMPETER 



len^jfthened until it is larger than in the adult. Thus in seven 
days the conditions of the hand and forearm directly alter- 
nate. They return to their former state at matiu'ity, though 
the hand is not proportionally ([uite so large as it was in the 
newly hatched chick. 

The longer wing of tlie twenty-four-hour nestling is 
probahly a reminder of bygone ages, when the wing was 
longer at maturity than at ]Dresent. The excess of length, 
it is evident, was chiefly in the upper arm, upon which some 
change of condition has acted, causing a gradual reduction 
without materially affecting the otlier portions of the wing. 

Psopliia crcpiiaus (Linn.) 

Arm Forearm Hand 

6 day chick 74.2 mm. .58.5 mm. 7.3.9 mm. 

14 "^ " 74.4 " 67.4 " 73.0 " 

Adult 77. " 73. " 6.5. 

There is a decrease of the hand in the grey-backed trum- 
peter (PsopJiia crepitans) as compared with an increase of 
the forearm. The arm also gradually increases, but to no 
such extent as the next section. Some of the shortening of the 
hand is doubtless due, as in tlic hoatzin, to tlie reduction of 
the claws, f'oi- in tlic young bird there are the remnants of 
two, one on the thumb and one at the tip of the wing. The 



IJEXELOI'.MKNT Ol WING 34-5 

trumpeter at one time piobably owned at least two good, 
fimetional, clawed fingers as does the young hoatzin of today. 
'I'hat time, however, is passed, though the stage representing 
the young hoatzin may possibly yet be found in the embryo. 
The fact that trum])eters live ])i'iiK'ipally on the ground — 
only roosting in the trees at night — and are essentially run- 
ning birds, having lost most of their arboi'eal habits, may ac- 
count for the reduction of these digits. J Jke the hoatzin they 
nest in trees, but. unlike them, as soon as the egg is hatched, 
the parent conveys the chick to the ground, where it soon 
learns to run about and hide as well as any newly hatched 
pheasant or ])artridge. It does not acquire its flight feathers 
as soon as the partridge and this lack of wing exercise may 
account in part for the relatively slow development of the 
hand and forearm. 

The adult domestic pigeon has a longer arm than fore- 
arm. Both are practically of the same length when the em- 
bryo is fidly developed, but the arm rapidly lengthens while 
the forearm relatively decreases in length when the egg- 
hatches and the squab commences to grow. The develop- 
ment of the two segments in this case is also in opposite di- 
rections, but the directions are diff'erent from the preceding 
examples. 

The development of the w^ing of the Guiana green heron 
{Bidoridcs vircscciis) is peculiar because there is little of 
the variation between the growth of the forearm and the 
hand which is so characteristic of the other species mentioned. 

Butoridcs viresccns (Linn.) 

Arm Forearm Hand 

10 day embryo 70..).) mm. 02.7 mm. .'55.2 mm. 

14 "* "' 09. " 03. " 57. 

3 " nestling 70. " 05. " 55. 

14 " " 00.3 " 00.3 " 57.2 " 

Fully fledged )8.5 " 59.5 " 02.4 " 

Aduit 04. " 09.5 " 50. 



34G TROPICAL WILD J.IFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

The proportions of the wing ii])on hatching are much 
the same as those of tlie adult, except tliat the arm is a little 
longer and the forearm a little shorter, while the hand re- 
mains about the same. The main variation during growth 
takes place between the forearm and the arm, the former 
increasing proportionally as the latter decreases. The hand 
parallels the forearm and increases slowly but steadily until 
the young heron is fully fledged. It greatly exceeds the 
adult in length at this time, but for the rest of the developing 
period — which lasts for several weeks — it decreases until the 
bird is mature. In this respect it closely resembles the hand 
of the hoatzin, though its excess of length is not so great, 
and there are no large claws to reduce. 

Notwithstanding the fact that the young herons, like 
the young hoatzins, climb about the tree or bush where their 
nest is situated, before being able to fly, they have no wing 
claws. They are a curious combination of precocious birds 
and those that are born helpless. For the first ten days 
or two weeks after hatching they are as helpless in their nest 
as any nidicolous bird, but after that — long before they de- 
velop flight — they may be seen moving freely about among 
the maze of branches near their nest. They seldom use their 
wings to climb with, but rely chiefly upon their great wide- 
spread toes to carry them to safety from a chance pursuer. 
The erect position and great feet enable them to do by bal- 
ance what the hoatzin has to do by crawling and clinging. 
If b}^ rare chance, they do lose their equilibrium, the instinct 
of many forgotten ages comes to their aid and out go the 
wings to brace against the nearest hold as naturally as they 
did many thousands of generations ago. It is undoubtedly 
largely due to the acquired erect posture of body and there- 
fore ease of balance, that the wings have lost their claws, for 
as the habit of balance increased, so must the use for func- 
tional fingers have decreased, until as useful members thev 
became obliterated. 

In one of the toucans at least, and hi some of the Pas- 



DEVKLOrMENT OV WING 347 

seres, conditions appear to be different from the preceding- 
cases. There seems to be a more or less regulai" variation 
between all three segments of the wing. The black-necked 
toucan [Ptcrof/lossiis aracari) presents the most perfect ex- 
ample of this. 

Pteroylossus (iracuri (Linn.) 

Arm Forearm Hand 

() day nestling 45.2 mm. .54.0 mm. .*39..) mm. 

21 "" " 44.3 '' 57.5 ' 38. 

Adult 44. " 60.5 " 35. 



(( 



Each segment of the wing shows a steady relative varia- 
tion through all stages of development to maturity. The 
arm lessens gradually; the forearm lengthens, and the hand 
decreases. Curiously enough the increase of the forearm, to 
all intents and purposes, equals the total decrease of the arm 
and hand. 

The comparative shortness of the hand in the adult is 
worth commenting upon. If an embryo could be exanu'ned 
it would probably show a verj^ differently ]:)roportioned 
hand than even in the six-day-old nestling. As it is, the 
length of this member is so much greater and the forearm 
so much shorter in the six-day-old bird that it is evident that 
at some former period, when the world w^as younger, the 
adult had a more evenly balanced wing. 

The present shortness may be due to a steady decreasing 
need for this member as an agent of flight. The flight of the 
toucan is comparatively weak and one of the conmion soimds 
of the jungle is the heavy whir of their w^'ngs as they labor 
from tree to tree. Perhaj^s. when climatic conditions were 
different, they found it necessary to seek further afield than 
today for their food, which now may be found in almost 
every tree top. Individually, they appear now to live in one 
small section the year round and their total wing exercise 
consists of a few short flights fi-om one tree to another dur- 
ing the day. 



li^H 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 



--J^ 


^ — j^ 


UM-U '.kuK^Un 


it i 5] I - " 












1 










-:::::_:::::::::::::_:. _l:ll___: _... : :_„„.„, i ■ : i 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 ffl 1 1 1 




:i:::ii—^4«r-:::::: ■:::::::::::::::::::: 




t i : : , . :;■::: : ::::::: ::._'":::_:: : : 


LT-^i-1-*-: ; "^ , , I ; ; i ; , 










ririMiitin ' ~ ■ "- 


! n MCRUrSJ 1 1 1 1 1 1 M i 1 I M 1 1 1 1 1 II 




1 i ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ n^^ ■- 






2 :: ' ' "-'- ::::::::: :_: 












•V 1 .. ..... , . , . ... 




^ :^_ ._ __ 








* T 












^1 r*^^"''"^^^^. _j^ _ _ 




^-^ - = ---^^^- ::::::- XT. _ "i^tti^rfttl 1 ! i 1 1 1 1 1 HI H t 1 1 M It! Ill M 1 1 1 1 1 1 








IJI := = = = = = >- 














^ "" "" ""^ ; : PTERDCJCE. 






' 1 














iTTiM 1 illll hi II III 1 1 illl M Mil N M III.Mi 1 


1 X 



FIG. 116. DIAGRAM OF WING DEVELOPMENT OF THE BLACK-NECKED TOUCAN 



The few passerine birds examined show two main meth- 
ods of variation during growth, especially betAveen the hand 
and the forearm. In one, the hand first increases in propor- 
tional lengtli and then shortens to adult size, being offset in 
the opposite direction to some extent by the forearm. In the 
second, opposite conditions o])tain ; the hand of the nest- 
liuii' always is shorter ' than the adult and the forearm longer. 

Galeoscoptes carolinciisis (Linn.) 

Arm Forearm Hand 

Embryo 2f)..5 mm. 23.8 mm. 20. mm. 

Newly hatched 2.5. '' 20.7 " 23.,5 " 

3 day old nestling 23.8 " 20.3 " 26.2 " 

(} " " " 22. " 22. " 2.5.8 " 

Adult 20.2 " 26.6 " 23. 

A ty])ical example of the first method may be found in 
the catl)ird of North America {Galeoscoptes Caroline nsis) . 
There is a steady decrease in tlie length of the arm which 
commences in the newly-hatched nestling. Tlie forearm 
increases at about the same rate, while the hand first in- 

' 'Ilic words "slioi-t" and "long" in tlir sense liere used do not mean that the 
hand grows shorter or longer in actual Itngtli, l)ut in proj)()rtional length only. 



DEVELOPMENT OF WING 




FIG. 117. DIAGRAM OK WING DEVELOPMENT OF THE AMERICAN CATBIRD 



creases and then decreases, being in the achilt ])ractically the 
same as it was in the yonng chick. As in the case of the 
toucan the total increase and decrease in tlic development 
ahont offset each other. 

The increase of the hand in the first few days may be 
less the shadow^ of an ancestral character than a prepara- 
tion for the oTow^th of ])rimaries, which, at this date, are of 
great size. The bird has so long been reared in a state of 
helplessness that there appear to be but few traces of an 
elongated hand in the late embryo. The forearm and hand. 
on the contrary, show traces of an early weakening and 
shortening. 

Cas.sicNs ccia (Linn.) 

Arm Forearm Hand 

2 day nestling 8.)..) mm. 41. .> mm. .37.3 mm. 

3 "* " HL5 " 43. " 36..5 " 

7 " " 34.3 " 41.8 " 37.7 " 

Adult 33.8 '* 44. " 36. 

The development of the yellow-backed cacicpic prac- 
tically parallels that of the catbird, though the variations are 
not so large. It is a noticeable feature that in the three-day 
nestling, where there is a slight decrease in the hand, it is ac- 
companied by a corresponding increase of the forearm. 



350 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITLSH GUIANA 

111 the half-fledged iiesthng of tlie Guiana spinetail 
{SijnalUhvis (juiancn.sis) , the hand is (juite appreciably long- 
er than in the adult, while the other sections follow the same 
course as in the two preceding birds. 

Among other birds of the same order there is another 
method of development in the wing, the difl^erence being that 
the forearm lengthens and decreases instead of the hand as 
previously mentioned. In the half-grown fledgling of botli 
the kiskadee {Pitaiigus sulplmratus) and the silver-beaked 
tanager {Bamphocchis carho) the forearm is decidedly larg- 
er than in the adult. 

Pitangus sulphuratus (Linn.) 

Arm Forearm Hand 

Xewly hatched 30.1 nmi. 33.4 mm. 27.8 mm. 

14 day nestling 28.4 " 36.2 " 26.6 " 

Adult' 29. " 33.5 " 29. 

Here again is a case where a sudden increase of one 
segment is accompanied by the decrease of another, though 
this time there is diminution of both the hand and arm. 
The total decrease of the two, however, equals the amount 
of extra length in the forearm. 

The wing development of the grey-breasted martin 
{Progne chahjhea) is slightly different from either of the 
two preceding methods of growth. This is due to its ad- 
vanced powers of flight, which necessitates a rather length- 
ened hand, though both the forearm and hand are propor- 
tionally smaller in the younger stages than in the adidt. 

Progne cJial/jhca (Gmel.) 

Arm iForearm Hand 

3 day nestling 26. ,5 mm. 29.1 mm. 2.5.4 mm. 

7 "* " 24.1 " 27.7 " 29.2 " 

14 " " 20.9 " 28.4 " 31.9 " 

Fully fledged 19.2 " 30..5 " 31. " 

Adiiit 20. " 29. " 32. 



DEVEl.OI'.Ml.N r Ol' WING 851 

Tlierc is a (lirt'ctly ()|)|)<)sitc variation hctvveen tlic liaiid 
and the arm, wliik' the leni>tli of tlic nn'ddlc st'oinent remains 
eonstant throui^liont. The len^tliened hand and sliortened 
arm is undoubtedly a parallehsm with tlie swifts, th()u_i>li it 
does not attain sueli extremes. The ratio of the wing seg- 
ments of the giant swift {Chactura zonan'.s alhicincia) of 
tlie Guianas, eommeneing with the liumei'us, is 'iO-'iT-.^S, 
while that of tlie martin is "2 1..()-.'J.).8- H) per eent. There is a 
vast diff'erenee, hut the tendency is toward that of the swift. 

It would be hai'd to imagine the albatross with its tre- 
mendously long humerus or, indeed, any other bird with a 
long arm, dodging and twisting through the air with the 
agility of a swift in pursuit of an insect. The laws of me- 
chanics make it impossible foi- sucli a bird to move its wings 
with the rapidity necessary for an operation of this kind. 
On the other hand, a bird with a short humerus, because the 
bone has a lesser arc to describe, can do this w^th less expense 
of energy. Therefore the swift, from a need of having to 
follow^ its rapid and elusive insect prey on the wing, has a 
short arm, and to make up for this discrepancy, a proportion- 
ally lengthened hand. Their nesting habits are also condu- 
cive to a shortened arm — nesting as they do, in caverns and 
hollow trees or building great elongated tunnels that hang 
from palm leaves and cliff walls ; but the habits are probably 
a result of and not a cause for the shortening. 

The martin more or less parallels the swift in its general 
feeding habits and nesting sites. Though it does not have 
such supreme command over the air, still it makes a living 
catching its food by aerial pursuit, which necessitates a 
good control of the Avings and great dodging ability. Thus 
the arm must have a tendency to shorten, and the hand to 
lengthen. 

SUMMARY 

Throughout the development of all the birds above men- 
tioned there seems to be a certain balance kept between the 



352 TROPICAL WILD I.II'K IN HRITISH GUIANA 

different ])()rti()ns of tlie wing. Among the })ir(ls that are 
fairly strong fliers, when one segment increases proportion- 
ally in length, another decreases in the same proportion, or 
both of tlie others diminish to such an extent that the sum of 
theii" total loss equals the gain of the first. Furthermore, 
when there is a local change in one segment at a single period 
of growth, it is usually balanced by an opposite change in 
one of the other segments, or by the sum of the changes in 
both of the others. Thus in the hoatzin, the toucan and the 
cacique — three widely separated birds — we find that the 
balance is kept in all stages, though the proportionate lengths 
may greatly differ. 

The blue-winged par]"akeet is an exception to the gen- 
eral I'ule. In this bird both the arm and the hand increase 
in length as the fledgling grows older, while the forearm 
remains approximately the same. On the seyenth day, how- 
eyer, the forearm shows a considerable increase oyer that of 
the adult and the hand a much greater' decrease. While this 
does not bear out the second rule, it at least shows that there 
is a tendency toward it. 

In some birds that use their feet more than their wings, 
the proportional growth of one segment remains about the 
same, while the others grow in opposite directions. In the 
heron it is the pinion; in the trumpeter, the arm; in the ja- 
cana, the forearm. The growth of the other two segments 
is opposite in each, the greatest yariation taking place in the 
hand and the arm of the jacana. 

Or more concretely : 

A. Throughout the deyelo])ment of the wing of the 
hoatzin, Guiana green heron, trunq)eter and jacana — birds 
that use their feet more than their wings — the proportional 
length of one segment remains constant, while the other two 
vary in opposite directions. 

B. Throughout the deyelopment of the wing in at least 
one toucan and in several Passeres, a balance is kept between 
the different segments so that when one portion changes. 



i)i:\i;i.()i'.Mi: NT oi' wise, nr/.i 

another oi- l)()tli of tlic otlicrs chaiinc in an ()p|)()sitc' direction: 
the variation of one ecjnals the total variation of the others. 
C. 'rhi-()n_i>hout the development of the win^' in all the 
hirds above discussed, when there is a chan«>e of length in one 
segment at any particular ])eriod of growth, that change is 
balanced in the same period })y an opposite variation of one 
or both of the other segments. 

THE DEVELOPMENT OK THE PIXIOX 

To a great extent, the length of the pinion in many l)irds 
is reguhited by their habits. It is interesting to note the 
various changes that take place in this member throughout 
the period that ehi])ses from the embryonic stages to ma- 
turity. It is possible to trace in them some of the changes 
that ha\e taken ])lace through many generations, due pos- 
sibly to the changes of environment which occurred during 
the later geological periods. 

Commencing wnth the hoatzin we have the development 
of the hand, outlined as follows: 

OpIsfJt oco in II s h oazin ( I lliger ) 

Carpus Digitus 

Embryo 43. mm. 23.5 mm. 

10 day nestling 34. " 32.3 



C( 



14 " " 34.2 " 32.1 

27.5 



Adult 39. " 2" - " 



In the embryo the carpus — containing the metacarpals 
of the second digit — is very long, being nearly twice as great 
as the digitus or forefinger. The excess of length is a relic 
of past ages when birds were not so far removed from their 
reptilian ancestors as they are at the present day. It is un- 
doubtedly a remnant of the elongated metacarpals of the 
lizard. 

In the nestling the great carpus of the embryo decreases 
in length and the digit increases proportionally. This is at 



354 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




FIG. 118. DIAGRAM OF HAND DEVELOPMENT OF THE HOATZIN 



the period when the claws of the hoatziii are at their greatest 
develo])nient. At maturity the conditions again change; the 
carpus elongates and the digitus shortens, l)ut the difference 
is not so great as it was in the embryo. 

^luch the same condition exists in the young chick 
trumpeter. The carpus, in the six-day chick, is ahnost twice 
the digitus in length, but at matui'ity only exceeds it by a 
few millimeters. This increase of the digitus, however, does 
not, as in the hoatzin, equal the decrease of the carpus, though 
the delayed growth of one and the slight elongation of the 
other is significant. 



Digitus 
22.8 mm. 
23..5 " 

-as far as as- 



Psophia crepitans (T.inn.) 
Carpus 

6 day chick 37. .5 mm. 

Adult 27. 

A better maintained balance in the hand- 
certained — is found to a more or less extent in passerine birds 
and others that do not have better than an average flight. 
The variation of each portion in the individual is diamet- 
rically o])])()site. This is especially true in nestlings, while 
in the embryo the variations are as a rule greater and 0])po- 
site. Sucli is the case with l)irds like the kiskadee, yellow- 



DEVELOPMENT OF WING 355 

backed cac'i(jiic', <^iaiit cacicjuc {O.sdiKfjj.s) , silver-beaked 
tanaL',er and l)lue-wiiioed ])arrakeet, all with «»ood average 
flights, but which have a small variation of the carpus and 
digitus during their development. 

Piiducjus siilpliurafus (Tiinn.) 

Carpus Digitus 

% Embryo lO.oO mm. 13. 4 mm. 

Newly hatched nestling ... 16. " 13. 

14 day nestling 16..5 " 12.4 " 

Adult 17. " 12. " 

Birds that have remnants of claws are doubtless, as a 
rule, the ones in which the fingers were functional most re- 
cently. Traces of this character have not yet been lost; so 
consequently the hands still function ontogenetically, to fit 
the requirements of fingers, as in the hoatzin. In most cases 
of altrical birds the loss of this character either antedated or 
paralleled their helplessness; otherwise there would have 
been little need foi- a change to the present state and we 
would still see all tiny nestlings crawling about the branches 
like little hoatzins. That this was true may be recognized 
from the great variation of these parts in the embryo of 
todaj^ 

The functional fingers being lost at this comparatively 
early date, it was natural for the parts of the hand to adjust 
themselves to the new conditions; and this adjusting is still 





J--_L__. 


*■ 


1 


. HNKWYa •H4'r 7 ^y 


ii n4W ^UlHI 




































«j 


-'lit i +_.2*^__;_i=:^ 


__j T -p ^ — = = = 




n I x^'- 


|::::: = :::l:::i::: = :i:::::- 


?f?ffi??ffil = :::||::::::::::|i: = l 



FIG. 119. DIAGRAM OF HAND DEVELOPMENT OF THE GUIANA KISKADEE 



:}.)(; 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




FIG. 120. DIAGRAM OP" HAND DEVELOPMENT OF THE BLACK-NECKED TOUCAN 



goiii^' oil, as the flight of the hirds gradually changes. Their 
flight in general is of a})oiit the same strength, and naturally 
it follows that they should develop along more or less paral- 
lel lines. There are exceptions to this — as will be shown — 
in which the power of flight has been either increased or de- 
creased and a change in the development of the hand shows 
accordingly. 

In such birds as the toucan, the ani, and the catbird, 
which do not greatly use their wings in their daily round of 
life, there is little or no variation in the growth of either of 
the hand segments. Though the actual proportion of the 
car])us to the digitus may vary somewhat in the different 
bii-ds, due possibly to different ancestral or even present day 
habits, the actual method of growth remains practically the 
same. 

Ptcroglos.siis aracari (Linn.) 

Carpus Digitus 

() day nestling 21.3 mm. 13.5 mm, 

•21 "* " 21.5 " 13.5 " 

iVdult 22. " 13. 

Galcoscopfcs caroliiicnsis {Iawu.) 

Carpus Digitus 

Kmbryo 13.8 mm. 9.2 mm. 

3 day nestling 12.5 " 10.5 '' 

f) "* '^ 13. " 10. 

Adult 13.5 " 9.5 " 



I)K\I',I.()IVM1A'1' Ol- WINC 



.•{5' 



The grey-breasted martin has a greater variation than 
most, but that it is (hie to tlie eH'eets of hiter speeiah'zation 
is very well showji. In the vei-y young nestling the difl'er- 
enee between the earpus and digitus is well mai-ked, hut as 
it grows older these proportions a])proaeh each other in 
length until at maturity they are ecjual. The young stage is 
evidently a shadow of what the bird was in more aneient 
times. 

PnKjnc rJi(iI//J)ca ((xmel.) 

Car])us Digitus 

3 day nestling 18..") mm. 13. .3 mm. 

7 "* " 17.() " 14.4 " 

14 " " 17.4 " 14..J " 

Just able to fiv 16.5 " 15.4 " 

Adult * 10. " 16. " 

The inerease of the digitus is undoubtedly due to spe- 
cialization of flight as in the case of the swift. As has al- 
ready been shown in the case of this bird, a decrease of the 
arm is followed by an inerease of the hand. The digitus 
must, therefore, be strengthened to support the strain put 
upon it by the rapid beat of wings necessary for swiftly 
dodsinff after insects. This, together with the increased use 

OCT f^ 



1 1 II III + 1 1 1 1 1 II 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 Li 1 1 1 1 -H — 


ZYIEX: ^ '" "I'- DAKS' ■ j]II ■ 


:::::::::::::::::::::::::: ::::::+f:fi::l 


_X , j -,rr --r-f-H-^5 1 h 


-1 \ 1 1 1-- 


— ^ 1 1 p-l ^^-^ 




r "" -- . -,--- 






tj 




















hi 1 rilijiji jlllj 


li 4'Rmi ^■''■- '— 1 


— - - - - " 


V 1 1 11 N 1 1 1 1 ' 1 "* ^~t^"-T-4 IIIIJtj ' 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 










— t. 4- if""" 


+ ::-J::::2i5nE::±:+f-:;:::=^7-yn^:; r 


:::::: ::::::::::::::::::::Mi:g:J±S:-rJ-t4^ 








1 I _j I 


pw^Nr f fW'T'Hf'4 ' i , 


" n 1 


1 ■ J,*: — — . 1 1 : 1 ' ■■ 


K,~ -- --------- -J- -+- -T- 


1 i i ' t -i - 


:::::; :::;::T:::::::::i:^:-±-^:^+t-T-T 


-4-i|-i4-lli-r4l 1 1 1 1 1 1 li 1 l-4+T-^U^-rrTW 



FIG. 121. DIAGRAM OF HAND DEVELOPMENT OF THE GREY-BREASTED MARTIN 



358 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

of the outer primaries, which conies as a secondary result, 
makes it necessary to have a lengtlietied and stronger (hgitus 
to stand tlie new conditions. Until we can investigate the 
development of a swift or hummingbird it will be impossible 
to say how tridy this parallelism has been carried out in the 
younger stages of the martin. 

From the development of the few pimOns described, it 
is an easy matter to see that their growth in general follows 
along certain lines. Whether the pinions of all other Hying 
birds follow the same rule has yet to be ascertained. In all 
these the carpus has a tendency to grow in an opposite direc- 
tion to the digitus. In some the variation is greater, but 
wherever there is any variation at all between the two the 
tendency is opposite, and usually the decrease of one equals 
the increase of the other. 

In birds that show traces of clawed fingers in their nest- 
ling or adult stages, and which are more ancient in type, 
both the carpus and digitus have a large individual variation 
in their rates of development. On the other hand altrical 
birds — birds that are born helpless — have little or no varia- 
tion of these portions except when the flight is highly 
specialized. 



CHAPTKK XXllI 

notes on the pekai fish 
na:\[es 

Systeviatic: Pi/ffoccntriis nujcr (Schomburgk). 
EncjlisJt: (';iiniil)al I'^ish, Carib I'isli. 
British (iiiiana. Colonial: Pcrai. 

Portugese: Piraiilia. 

The great I'aniily ol' Cliaracins cuniposes a large pro- 
])()rtion of the fresh-water fislies of South Anieriea and, in 
l^ritish Guiana alone — according to Kigenniann, more than 
half. The Characinidae are divided into many subfamilies 
of varying habits, the members of Avhich range in size from 
the most minute of the Hemigrammi to the large "pacu" of 
the rapids and the great "aimara" of the inland creeks. The 
subfamily Serrasalmo, to which belong the perai, is composed 
of three genera, Pijgocentrus, Serrasalmo and Pi/gopristis, 
including, in all, eight known species of the Guianas, though, 
doubtless, many others still remain to be discovered. Very 
little appears to be known of them beyond the fact that they 
exist, are ferocious, and, in the case of the perai, are exceed- 
ingly dangerous to whatever living beast crosses their path. 

". . . . the piranha is a short, deep-bodied fish, with a 
blunt face and a heavily undershot or projecting jaw which 
gapes widely. The razor-edged teeth are wedge-shaped like 
a shark's, and the jaw muscles possess great power. The 
rabid, furious snaps drive the teeth through flesh and bone. 
The head with its short muzzle, staring malignant eyes, and 
gaping, cruelly armed jaws, is the embodiment of evil fero- 
city; and the actions oF the fish exactly match its looks." 

Xever found nearer to the coast than twenty miles, 
where the last defiling taint of salt water merges into the 



360 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




I'liutd hii I'. >;. It. 



FIG. 122. HEAD OF PERM 



fresh, the perai swarm in countless hordes thron<>h many of 
the inland reaches. They thrive in e<jnal numbers, above or 
below the rapids, though seldom in them, for they do not 
love the swish and swirl of hiu'ried water, but seek rather the 
slower moving })ack currents and the long level stretches 
between the falls. The deep canals of the xVmazon Valley 
and the quieter pools of swift running mountain streams a 
thousand miles inland, thousands of feet above the level oJ 
the sea, are as truly their home, as the inner fresh tide- 
waters, only forty miles from the sea. And everywhere they 
are a scoiu'ge both to men and beasts. 

During our stay at Kalacoon the (juestion several times 
arose as to whether the perai is a bottom fish or one that has 
no particular preference for its Held of action. Observation 
shows the latter to be the case, though to catch them on a 
baited hook, the best results arc obtained bv allowino- the 
bait to rest near the bottom. They may be seen at all times 
of the day leaping and ])laying about the surface, either close 



NOri'.S ON" FKUAl ;{(;i 

uiulcr the wooded l)ank or far out in the imiddy current. 
Sometimes one will flash into the air for a second and then 
drop back M'ith a small splash, liut usually they swim near 
the surface. rip])lin<>- here and there in a never endinf^ search 
for food, or darting- after some unwary denizen that uncon- 
sciously crosses their ])ath. leaving' ever widening circles be- 
hind tliem in their flight. Often the only sign is the scurry 
of a few tiny fresli-water flying fish scattering in many direc- 
tions, flipping over the water as they go, all fleeing from 
those dreadful blood-thirsty jaws. 

Hours sometimes pass without a movement in the water 
and then suddenly there is a splash, and you know that the 
])erai are at work. If you toss a small lizard into the pool 
or a wounded bird dro])s into it, even though the w^ater be as 
quiet and as innocent-looking as the sky above, you may be 
sure that one or more of the hungry pirates are lurking in its 
dark depths, ready to pounce upon whatever comes; and you 
may be sure that the poor victim will never reach the bank 
toward which it so vainly struggles. Suddenly the wild flut- 
ters sto]), only to recommence witli increased frenzy. There 
is a disturbance about with ripples running to the shore; 
the swimming creature strives vainly against some agency 
that pulls it down; then it disappears and the waters are 
quiet once more; only a few bubbles float upon the surface. 
Below, in the coffee-colored darkness, that which was but a 
few moments ago a living full-blooded reptile or bird, now 
fills the black maws of the demons of the pool. 

jNlany gruesome tales come to us from the natives who 
live along the banks of the infested waterwavs. Some stor- 
ies are true and many, doubtless, are the products of their 
inventive imaginations. But the fact remains that these fish, 
together with the sting-ravs and the electric eels, make wad- 
ing in these waters extremely dangerous and unpleasant. 
Yet in the vicinity of Kalacoon, the perai never made an at- 
tack upon man, and one could bathe with im])unity. A few 
miles up river this would have been suicide. There is scarce- 



362 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




Photo hy P. a. H. 



FIG. 123. PERM 



ly a person who has traveled in South America, who fails to 
bring home some tale of their depredations. Col. Roosevelt 
tells how, in the Matto Grosso, various members of his party 
were bitten, and how wounded animals, even caymen, are 
often partially devoured before they can be recovered from 
the water into which they have struggled or fallen after be- 
ing shot. Larger animals, peccaries and even tapirs, are 
attacked when wounded and often dragged down ; and there 
are frequent cases, where persons, idly trailing their hands 
in the water from the side of a canoe, have lost one or more 
fingers from the cruel jaws. I have seen large wounded birds 
pulled under when only a few feet from the shore. 

The tails of animals seem to be a great attraction. Perai 
have been known to bite the tails off dogs and many other 
beasts, while, according to iniThurn, the tail of an iguana 
is a morsel of the utmost delicacy. Even alligators are not 
exempt. In places where ducks are kept it is said that only 
a short time elapses before the webs of their feet are eaten 



NOTES ON PERM 363 

away and soiiietiiiies tlic feet tlieinselves. Certainly the mor- 
tality must be great among young dueks, both wild and tame. 
Many birds are eauglit that rest too long on the water, where 
they pause to drink or snateh a pleasing morsel floating 
there. Kinglishers, darting after a small fish, must often 
go down never to come up, for it is the splash that attracts 
the perai instead of driving them away. 

Some of the most common birds along the ri\ei" front, 
near Kalacoon, are the various kinds of kiskadees. Perched 
on the topmost twig of the spider-legged mangroves, they 
peer up and down the river this way and that, and dart after 
swift fleeing insects that approach too near their ])oint of 
vantage. The prey secured, they return, or, changing their 
minds, drop down to a spike of mucka-mucka and rest upon 
the broad leaves, where a closer view of the water as it drifts 
slowly by, may better be obtained. Occasionally their atten- 
tion is attracted by a struggling insect that floats past, fight- 
ing to free its wings from the impeding water, into which it 
accidently has fallen, or, perhaps they see a tiny fish playing 
near the surface. Then there is a flash of wings, a slight 
splash, and the bird returns to its perch clicking its bill and 
swallowing contentedly. 

The splash is often its undoing, for, at the sound, a dark 
})ody moves sw^iftly through the w^ater and the kiskadee is 
dragged under with its prey still struggling in its bill. The 
remnants of birds have many times been found in the stom- 
achs of perai, and, a short time ago, I took fi'om one nearly 
the w^iole body of a freshly killed kiskadee. 

Xor are the w-arm-blooded animals and reptiles their 
onlv prey. Xot every day are they fortunate enough to seize 
a bird or to find some helplessly maimed animal floundering 
in the w^ater. Their true food is living flesh and their crav- 
ing must be satisfied. So naturally it follows that they war 
on the myriads of fish that swarm the rivers, both in tlie shal- 
low\s of the mud-banks and sand-bars, and farther out in the 
brown water of the deep cut channels. Fish are the daily 



36-i TROPICAI, \y\\.\) I.II'K IN iUilTISH (il'IANA 

menu, while the iiieaiitious heast tliat eonies within their 
reach, is a rare toothsome dessert. 

The In(hans, morin'ny- after mornin*;', tind only heads 
remaining*- in the "ill nets, or, if they are fortunate, a few 
))artly mutilated fish. Fishermen, returnino- from a day's 
sport, tell how there came a second strike, which nearly hroke 
the line, when their captives were almost to the surface. 
They found, n])on })ullin<»- in, most of the tail gone, a huge 
portion taken out just helow the dorsal fin, or, possibly only 
the head of their catch left. 

The perai war not only upon other fish, hut also upon 
their own kind. This has been a rather disputed question. 
Some authorities claim that they will never attack one an- 
other; but many perai have the webbing nearly gone from 
their tails and are otherwise scarred about the body. I have 
cau"ht manv on the flesh and entrails of another. Where 
food is plenty this may not occur, but it certainly is true on 
the lower jNIazaruni. If one, freshly killed, be gashed and 
torn so that the blood flows, it will be set upon and devoured 
as quickly as if it were a warm-blooded bird. If only wound- 
ed, however, its sharp teeth and strong jaws protect it until 
recovery or, worn out by the repeated sallies of others, until 
it succumbs. 

The taint of blood in the water drives the perai blood- 
crazy and they become at once raging savage demons, blindlv 
attacking anything, no matter what, from which comes the 
flow of blood. Thus the person who wishes to pass through 
infested waters does so at an increased risk if he has even so 
much as a small wound that drips blood. He must move 
quietly for loud splashing attracts, and they rush and strike 
on an instant. 

The natives near Kalacoon, while they fear these 
scourges, are not afraid to enter the water, and the children 
])lay around the shores waist dee]) near places where the fish 
abound. They seldom oi- never are assailed, for the fish seem 
to a^()i(l tiu' bathing spots, though, perha])s a few yards 



N()'i'i:s ox iM'.iLM ;3r)5 

away, many agitate the surFace in searcli of food or play. 
Tlie Indian always walks into the water with eare and (|uiet. 
He is eareful to make as little distnrbance as possible until, 
deep water reaehed, he launehes out to swim. 

Flesh is not the only food of the perai. Doui>h made 
from rice or cassava and used by the natives to eateli more 
'gentle fry, is an article of relish. Pieces of bread, fruit and 
seeds have all l)eeu found in their stomachs. In one locality, 
on the Kssequibo Kiver, there is a large citrate factory, which 
daily uses many sacks of limes. When the oil is extracted 
and the juice squeezed out, the skins are thrown into a refuse 
heaj) and carted to the river edge. Each day, for more than 
a year, they have been dumped into the river at the same spot, 
where the water is shallow, l?ut a large heap never accu- 
mulates there. Soon after the splash of the first basketful, 
thousands of fish gather from all directions and actually 
churn the water in mad struggles to get at the refuse. The 
seeds seem to be the main attraction, for they are the first 
to disappear; and then the pulp follows more slowly. Final- 
ly the rinds, empty, lightened of their load, drift away with 
the current. 

Among the swanning fish dart the perai, for they, too, 
love the seeds and the pul}). They travel a clear path, for 
no fish cares or dares to face these marauders. If several 
"cartabacs" are wrangling over an inviting morsel, they drop 
it quickly without any hesitation, and the water pirate fin- 
ishes the meal alone, and in peace; or perhaps, attacked by 
another of his kindred, he in turn drops it in the swift battle 
that ensues, and the stolen titbit is appropriated by a third. 
And so it goes until the limes are exhausted, and the first 
scatter to await another day. 

Perai are welcome articles of food to the natives, but 
to the w^hite man their flesh is rather soft, and has a slight 
nniddy taste, while there is a great abundance of bone. Nev- 
ertheless, when desirous for a change from our flesh diet, one 
of us would take a rod and go down to the banks of the river 



360 TROPICAL Wri.I) T.TFK [X inHTFSH GUIANA 

Lo try fislieniiairs luck. Tlic best way to catch the perai, 
we soon found, was to fish from a boat anchored a few yards 
from shore, where the mnd bars shelved steeply down into 
deep water. The fish seemed to swarm along this steep bank, 
while fewer splashed about in the shallows nearer the forest 
clad shore. Usnally the bait was the flesh and entrails of 
some bird or animal, though, excellent as any, were the en- 
trails of the fish itself. 

It was best to use a long line with the bait hanging with- 
in a few inches of the bottom. The usual procedure of the 
fish was to nibble feebly for a few moments and then strike 
and strike hard. Sometimes they would strike without any 
preliminary warning. 

As a game fish it is not one that will, except possibly 
for a few moments, delight the heart of the angler. After 
the first few rushes the fight is over and the fish comes meekly 
to the siu'face. The fisherman must be careful to keep a 
taut line, for. at the slightest slackening, away goes the 
quarry ; he must strike hard to make fast the hook for the 
perai has a mouth of bone, against which the point turns as 
if made of lead, or snaps off like the head of a match struck 
too hard against the box. A strong wire leader must be used. 
Even then, I have seen the a illainous teeth click together on 
a piece of phospho-bronze and, as easily as a pair of wire 
nippers, snaj) it in two. 

The fish in the boat is nearly as bad as the fish in the 
water. One must be very careful not to place any portion 
of his anatomy too near, or, with a flop, the perai will seize 
it. He seems to use a certain amount of cunning. If a fin- 
ger touches his body he will not make a motion until it is 
within reach of his jaws. Then, with a twist or turn, he 
snaps, brings his teeth together with a sharp click, and it 
goes hard with the finger that is between them. 

The Indian seldom usea a hook to catch them, for hooks 
fastened to ordinary line are quickly snapped off, and they 
are articles of too great value to be lightlv thrown awav. 



NOTES ON PERM 3GT 

He uses a difreieiit and nioi-e eei'taiii method, one in wliieli his 
f'orefatliers were adept liiuKhrds of years ago, Paddhng 
the canoe to a proper spot, he holds the entrails of a freshly 
killed ai>()uti, tightly fastened to the end of a lon*^" stick, 
over the water so that the ends trail and the hlood spreads 
away with the current. The 2)ei*ai, its appetite aroused hy 
the thin taint of hlood, rushes upstream until it reaches the 
dangling treasure, and greedily seizes it. Quickly then, for 
another instant would see the mass torn away from its hold 
on the stick, comes the twang of a how-string; the fish is 
transfixed hy a long, hollow, s})ear-like arrow, and suddenly 
finds itself, twisting and hiting, with others of its kind in the 
hottom of the wood-skin. 

There are other uses for perai beside food. A lower 
jaAV with its saw-like row of teeth always dangles from the 
woven, pitch-covered baskets that act as quivers for poisoned 
darts. When a dart is prepared for action, its dark, poisoned 
tip is nearly severed against one of the sharp teeth, so that 
when it enters the body of its victim, the point breaks off 
and remains to do its work, even though the arrow be torn 
away. 



PART III 

ENTOMOLOGICAL 
By PAUL G. HOWES 

RESEARCH ASSISTANT 



CHAl^'i KH XXIV 

Tin: BKKS AND AVASPS OF KAIMTCA 

In tile rollowino- chapters, treatin*^' eliieHy of solitary 
wasj)s, I have endeavored to give an accurate account of the 
more intimate aspects of the lives of certain of these insects. 
It is hoped that the fascination which the life stories of these 
insects holds for the writer, may be imparted to the reader 
not already familiar with them. 

To those fortunate ones already versed in the events of 
was]) life, I can only say that Gvn'ana is practically a new 
and unsearched field, teeming with wonders of life of which 
very little is known. In view of this fact, there should be 
something of interest in these pages both to the layman and 
to the exj^erienced entomologist. 

Before taking up individual studies it is fitting that I 
shoidd give a })rief outline of the conditions of w^asp life in 
Bartica district, the general locality in w^hich all of mv insect 
observations w^ere made. These observations cover a period 
of a little over five months and w^ere not selected because of 
any particular facts that they may contain, but rather be- 
cause they w^ere just whatever I w^as successful in gathering. 
In entomology, one life appears to be as interesting as an- 
other. The tiniest creature and the greatest, are as one, in 
the secrets they hold for the observer. 

Diu'ing the period of actual field work, from February 
1.5 to the end of July, I found one hundred and seven species 
of bees and wasps carrying on nesting activities. Sixty-eight 
of these were solitary wasps, nine social wasps, tw^o apterous 
Hymenoptera, or species wingless in one sex, seven were soli- 
tary bees, ten social bees and eleven were undetermined bees 
and w^asps. 



;iT2 



THOI'K Al. WILD UTK IN jnilTISH GUIANA 



FEBRUi&J^ MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE JULY AUGU5T5EFTBvfBeR 


70 ^::3 


:::;::; .u: ;;; u:. ^cia:; : : iijac sail i :i:w....\..,-:ui-u.,i,:.-,.,.i:.. 


60 J : - . 


,,..!:;:., .::.:^:4:"::::::::::::::::: 


;:::::::|:::::::::::::::::::::::::::+h 
1 1 1 . ... 






.^ 1 L^.. . . _ 


' 


i ! I 


I 


I 






' 






. 




^ 




' ■" 


? ~ = s X 






.* ^ ' 






1 ^ ^ 


HO 1 


/ 


' 




1 1 1 1 1 1 / " 




1 1 


_1_U lil . . _ /. 




+141- 




-.-... .,- , : . 1 


rt- 


J\ 


} ! r^^" . - - r- 






1 — -r- ----p-i—^l-^- -:. 


— . 


■ 7^ ±_--_^^+ -4 


- — '-"tt ^/ ' \ " "r^ 


40__ . 


:-- TTt ^^T 


' ..... 1 ! - 




^^ 2 


-4-^^-i-L-^^--j-4-+ liniiijj i- 




" "7 


' ' ] ' ' 




r ii I ^'-l I - '- 


1 ) 




^ _ ,2.. 






r . ,2.. : 


: 




f 






._ _ 7 _± ' . 


1 ■ 'I 


3C 


l' 


' 1 I ' ' 1 1 ' ■ t ' ' 


X ^ 


c .z---icit-in- 


I 1 t ' 1 ! 1 ! 1 1 i ' 




/ 




1 


p : ---Z; - - 4=-Ti 


i ' i 




SS±:::::::::V::i:::4:::::4::S 


--^ 7^ + 1 1 M ■ ' ' i 


^1 1 ! 
111. 


^__.^-___±--?t_^ ^_^ ^- 


i i M ' I 


Ml' 


u4-f-p U U-U-^ Ml,, 1- 1 1 1 1 1 1 M -I-M4- 


-W44-I -■-: -i_- _,-r^-r-| -i-r^ 

^x—. *-. ■ ■ ■-- 1 1 1 1 - , 1 1 1 1 -)■■■ ^'^y 


-t^" 


-'^-^X^X--} + T r--: ■ '■.• 
l 1 I / Jt- i 1 


v^S±::::::::::i:n:::±:ri:::^ 




-H^- ' ,/r' 1 


I ; i i"i ■ 


3:~ 


L^'XT ' P / ' '^ i""- 


4---- .... 1 : i 1 


1 


1 M i; \y ipit _Tz jI 








\. \ ^ ■ ! ' .T" 


10 " 


1 ■ lj>1*l 1 1 '' 












1 , > ''^ i 1 i '■' 






>>^ ,U-!'i-'.J ,' i-- 




|T» 


rW\-\ I III rTfi.J/ 1 


+ 




li" \T\'\ ■ ■' i i 1 i 1 i 1 ■ 


^:::::::+S::: + :_ rr+H: 


1 : 


M 1 1 i 1 1 1 ! ' 1 M 1 1 i 1 


-L ^ _L -1 . . : . . . . ^ ■ ■ ., 




. , I . 


^^ 1 ! M , ' ""'^ ' ' 1 ' ! f"! ' ; M 1 '1-^71 ! 1 1 ' ^1 


7 !! i 1 1 ! ! I i [' 1 1 i 1 M M ! .| M 1 1 1 1 1 ! M 1 1 i ! 1 ' 



FIG. 12-1. CHART OF RAINFALL IN INCHES, AS CORRELATED WITH THE NESTING OF 
WASPS AND BEES IN BARTICA DISTRICT. 



The niiinber of nesting s^^ecies increased steadily with 
each month, reaching the highest point in June, after which 
they receded gradually. In a measure they followed the 
course of the rainy season, being most numerous in June and 
July. As I was at Bartica only half the month of February, 
1 cannot giye an accurate figure of the nesting species. How- 
ever, a very diligent search during the last fifteen days of 
that month revealed only five species, and while I am con- 
vinced that it is a low estimate, March showed but a slight 
increase and my figure may not be far out of the way. 

The accompanying chart gives a rough idea of the num- 
ber of nesting wasps and bees as they varied in relation to 



BEES AM) WASPS Ol' iiAllTRA :3T3 

the rainfall. It will be notieed that in April, only 3.09 inches 
are recorded. This is far below the usual avera<;e of the 
month, and in a normal year the curve would rise steadily 
from February to June. 

For convenience I have di\ided the one hundred and 
seven species into six o^eneral divisions accordin<>- to their 
nesting" habitats. It will be noted that the species belonging 
to all but the sixth division have, in one way or another, taken 
advantage of changes brought about by man, a fact that 
seems to me remarkable in \ iew of the short time that has 
elapsed since many of these changes have occurred. The 
divisions and number of species belonging to each are as 
follows : 

1. Xesting onlj^ in trails 40 species 

2. Xesting in trails and forest 18 " 

3. Xesting in houses or outbuildings 18 " 

4. X'^esting in houses and in open trails 2 " 

5. Xesting in houses, trails and in the forest 5 " 

6. Xesting only in forest 18 " 

The nesting haunts of six species were undetermined. 

Xo attempt will be made to give a list of these one hun- 
dred and seven species in the present work. They are men- 
tioned only with a view to give an idea of the immense field 
of work open to the entomologist in Guiana. I have made 
observations of one kind or another on almost all of these 
species, but the data accumulated is not sufficiently complete 
to prepare more chapters than those which follow. 

I found exquisite types of nests. Some were like tiny 
barrels of emerald moss, one was fashioned from wasp-made 
paper, layed on in strips of varied colors, others were invert- 
ed domes of sweet smelling resin. Here was one of forest 
mould, a tube-like structure with a flared entrance. There 
were tiny purses made of cob-webs, plant dovni and lichens. 
They hung on spiral stems from the under sides of leaves 
and in the eaves of outbuildings. Some nests were mere tun- 



374 TROPICAL WILD LIFK IX BRITISH GUIANA 

nels in the gToiind, but the greater number were of mud or 
chiy. There were groups of cells of various shapes and di- 
mensions, plastered in a great variety of situations. ]Many 
of them were plain, otliers elaborately decorated with hun- 
dreds of tiny spines, each fashioned of clay, or rounded 
domes that fitted into one another like the roofs of a pagoda. 
I found series of miniature earthen jugs, ten or twelve placed 
in an irregular line and often of colored clay, reminding one 
of a group of tiny pots ready for the baking. There were 
all styles, shapes and sizes and a great range of colors. 

Thus working in Guiana I found these insects in a va- 
riety of roles quite new to me. Their nests were different; 
there were no cold seasons to affect nesting activities; nesting 
periods were more extended and the creatures themselves 
were far more numerous than I had found them anywhere 
before. It was often difficult to keep all the species under 
constant observation, and for all their abundance manv trou- 
bles were experienced in following out their life histories. 

Intensive insect study in the tropics is beset by many 
difficulties. To follow out a life history successfully, means 
not onlv securing sufficient material for studv. but great care 
in the handling of that material. ^Mortality is very high 
among larval, or young wasps and bees. They are extremely 
tender and subject to sickness and death, from seemingly 
negligible factors. ^Moisture is a great danger. A certain 
amount is necessary, but the least bit too much in the grub's 
cradle when feeding or pupating often turns a healthv bit 
of life into a black putrid mass in a few hours. Too much 
heat or direct light, are other dangers to be reckoned with. 
Sometimes the wasplets are injured and grow abnormally 
from causes that I have often been at a loss to explain. 
^Folds play a deadly part, but tiny red ants proved the great- 
est scourge in the nurserv of mv voungsters. Thev lurked 
about ever ready to swarm in over the nascent insects. Thev 
managed somehow to become suddenly mimerous upon ap- 
parently inaccessible swinging shelves. They crawled in 



HKES AND WASPS Ol BARTICA HT5 

between the i>"la.ss atul coik of a bottle, tiiiiiielid b\ tlie baek 
way into wa.s})s' Jiest.s of sobd niasoiny. wreeked the homes 
and carried off' the inmates in a thousand sepai'ate ])ieees! 
They were a pest. It is the only word to deseril)e these vile 
little ereatiires. If they would but rava<»e the ])antry and 
leave my inseets alone, what a eomfort it would be! 

^ly only course was to eonstruet a tiny "incubator" 
with wooden legs set in ])ans of oil. In this the young wasps 
were kept in glass tubes with cotton st()])pers. It j)roved 
to be the oidy dc\icc into which the minute ])illagei's could 
not set foot. At length aftci- repeatedly having my woi-k 
of days or weeks undone in a few moments; after manv 
disappointments, I succeeded in rearing a few of my charges 
successfully. I watched the mysteries wrapped about their 
lives unfold, saw nature hurl them through her steeplechase 
called life and forgot the ants in the revelation. 

]My gleanings, however meagre, follow. If one had as 
a task, to count the grains of sand npon a glistening beach, 
what impression would one make in a day^ A very shallow 
one to be sure, but deeper than the one I have made in the 
insect life of Guiana. Five and a half months have passed 
since we sailed up the ]Mazaruni River to Bartica, I to my 
wasps and bees, and like the Counter of the sand-grains, I 
had a hopeless sensation. Xow it is late July. With the 
entire heach still before me I have counted — one ! 



CHAPTER XXV 

TWO I'OTTEK WASl'S 

Genus Kumenes 
Fig. 12.5; 1-8 

I have still to complete the life histories of these two 
wasps. Several facts are lacking, which is unfortunate. 
]3ut on the other hand I have learned much of interest con- 
cerning them — sufficient, I think, to warrant the present 
chapter. Beginning with the red Eiumenes, I will set down 
what 1 know of each species after a few preliminary 
comments. 

The two wasps are potters, but of widely different 
tastes. The red or larger species is a finished artist fash- 
ioning from three to twelve tiny, flat-bottomed jugs each 
bearing a short neck and finished with a wide flaring lip. 
They are placed in straight or serpentine row^s or in little 
circular clusters in a variety of situations. Commonly they 
are cemented to exposed timbers on the walls of buildings. 
Others produce weird looking swellings upon table-legs or 
window cords and occasionally one finds them plastered to 
a bit of clothing left unused for a day or two. Color in the 
jugs varies greatly. I have them in sombre grey, through 
many shades of yellow to a rich red. Their delicacy and 
beauty rivals that of hand-made potter) , but in form the 
jugs never vary. 

The smaller or buff Eumenes is not an artist. Her jugs 
are for service rather than display. They are flattened ob- 
jects shaped like a kernel of corn and placed one upon an- 
other in an irregular pile. Thus the finished nest, consisting 
of foui- or five of these rough cells, resembles an unkem2)t 
wad of clay. It is plastered to the underside of a leaf grow- 



EgK 



Larva 



PLATE I 



Pupa 



Imajro 
4 







RED EUMENES 





^ 



10 





13 



14 





BUFF EUMENES 



11 




ROACH KILLER 



15 





\ 



V 





BLACK REED- WASP P. G. Hou-ey. /« 

FIG. 125. LIFE HISTORIES OF BARTICA WASI S 



TWO I'O'I'TKH WASPS ;j 



I I 



ing ill an open sunny trail or fashioned al)oiit a stem of razor 
grass, which swings here and tliere in tlie breeze. JJke the 
finished jugs of tlie larger s])eeies, they are supplied with a 
flaring li]), hut the neck is very short — in fact, negligihle. 

l^ut let us return to tlie first mentioned wasp — the fin- 
ished artist. This wasj) recjuires one day to complete a single 
jug. That is to say, she does the actual huilding in foui- 
hours, but the remainder of the day must pass before pro- 
visions may he stored, in order that the storeroom may be 
perfectly dry. In building, the insect ap})roaches the site, 
carrying a pellet of mud in her mandibles. At first she re- 
mains suspended in the air some two feet from the scene of 
operations. Now she flies here and there, up and down, to 
this side and that, ahvays with her head towards the nest. 
Gradually she w'orks up to it until an inch or less away. 
Here she suspends herself once more for a few seconds before 
finally alighting directly upon the building site. 

The pellet is placed upon the surface and shaped into 
a tiny ring, one or two millimeters in height. From this 
foundation the remainder of the jug is constructed. After 
this initial ring or foundation is in place, the fresh pellet 
is always deposited on its inner surface, and after being 
somewhat flattened is modelled into a section of M^all by the 
wasp's mandibles on the inside and her fore-legs on the out- 
side. The method is as though one were modeling a niinia- 
ture bowl between the thumb and fore-finger. 

Each jug serves as a nursery for a single wasplet and 
is provisioned with ten span-worms. They are prepared by 
the w^asp either by being stung into paralysis or what is more 
likely, are slightly crushed from end to end by the w^asp's 
mandibles. The nervous system of the caterpillar is spread 
out through its numerous segments and would therefore be 
difficult for the w^asp to reach adequately with her sting. I 
have seen a w^asp alight with her prey and proceed to mouth 
it roughly in a dozen different places, but her sting was never 
brought into use. Further, the caterpillars are capable of 




Photo by P. ri. II. 
FIG. 12f;. BUFF EUMENES RESTING ON HER NEST 
Enlarged twice. 



TWO POTTER WASPS 379 

excretion even when stored in tlie jii<>\s, a process which par- 
alysis from her sting would be likely to prevent. 

The span-worms are pushed into the jug entrance one 
by one from the outside. Two or three of the victims are 
always smaller than the rest. These are collected first and 
stuffed in next to the elongated bow-shaped egg, which is 
cemented by its posterior end to the wall of the base before 
it is quite finished. The process of storing requires several 
days and meanwhile the egg hatches and the young wasp, 
a footless maggot of thirteen segments, commences to feast 
upon the stores. These smaller caterpillars are doubtless 
very tender and therefore easier for the larva to consume 
during its first hours of weakness. The jug is not sealed 
by the parent wasp until the grub is at least a day old. In 
eating, the youngster consumes the entire caterpillar, scrap- 
ing the interior of its victim's head as a delicacy and in its 

CI' *■ 

final greed consuming even its hard covering of chitin. 

The egg hatches in forty-eight hours. At birth the grub 
measures three millimeters in length. It grows very rapidly 
reaching its full length of sixteen millimeters in five days. 
In shape it somewhat resembles the abdomen of a large wasp 
and is made up of thirteen segments. Its head consists of a 
pale yellow bead, slightly cleft in the center and bearing two 
heavy, red-brown mandibles protruding above the more 
fleshy parts of the mouth. In appearance the grub reminds 
one of a bull-dog with its protruding under jaw. For ten- 
acity it surpasses even this king of the canine world, clinging 
to its victim with a grip that continues for five whole days, 
until there is nothing left to cling to ! 

When the feast is over, the larva lies quite motionless 
for twenty-four hours, before preparing itself to await pu- 
pation. These preparations are rather elaborate and require 
an entire day. First a heavy coat of silvery mucous is ap- 
plied to the interior of the jug. It is brushed over every bit 
of the concave walls with minute care. Only the lower part 
of the grub's mouth is brought into use, the mandibles re- 



380 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 





I'll,, In hij r. <:. II. 
FIG. 127. DETAILED VIEWS OF EARTHEN JUGS MADE BY THE RED EUMENES 
Top, natural: lower one-half natural size. 

maiiiing unfolded, as though now obsolete. There is a 
strange motion to what might be termed the larva's lips, as 
the silvery fluid oozes out. The performance reminds me of 
a person rinsing the mouth and at the same time spurting out 
the water. The fluid hardens in contact with the air into a 
tough protecting lining. This process is followed by the 
spinning of a delicate cocoon, rather flat and oval in shape, 
which encloses the larva, and also excludes the excretia 
which, as I have said, the caterpillars were still capable of 
passing off. There are now- three layers between the outer 
world and the larva. The jug becomes a fort in w^hich the 
grub lies, protected by a wall of masonry and hardened mu- 
cous, followed by a covering of silken thread. 

Eight days after spinning, pupation takes place. It is 
an oddly shaped creature which emerges from the larval 
body. In color it is lemon yellow. The thorax is horizontal, 
the petiole or waist oblique and the abdomen more or less 
perpendicular. This curious shape is entirely lost in the 
mature wasp, which is a normal insect, but its evidence in the 
pupa, which requires a much broader space than the common 



'I'WO I'O'I ri.K WASPS 381 

loiii^' and narrow \y\n\ not only ('\))lains wliy tlic larva spins 
its flat and ()^■al cocoon, but also why the pai'cnt was]) rc- 
(luircs these o'lohnlar nursei'ies i'or her oft's])rin<>-. 

Here I ninst droj) the history of the red EumcncH. Al- 
though her rows of i)ots were everywhere about the walls 
and timbers of Kalacoon Laboratory, oidy one or two were 
occupied duriiiL'" the five months of our stay. The remainder 
were old ones from whii'h tbe wasps had issued. From the 
abundance of old nests and the entire absence of theii- build- 
ers, I concluded that theii- chief nesting season comes some- 
where between the months of Se])teniber and February. 

The smaller pottci', the buff Eumcncs, nests in March, 
eonstructni"- from four to five cells of yellowish clay. They 
are at first distinct, flattened jugs, shaped like an army wa- 
ter canteen. Later as additional cells are added, placed here 
and there at random, the individual jug loses its identity in 
the mass of clay and the nest becomes a very commonplace 
object. 

This wasp flies to a point some distance above her nest, 
then in a spiral she descends with her burden. When build- 
ing, this is a tiny pellet of clay which is deposited and very 
carefully kneaded into proper shape by the wasp's head and 
fore legs. ^lany stones and bits of hard material project 
from tlie mortar of the nest, making it an impregnable re- 
fuge for her young. She builds rapidly, every fifteen min- 
utes, bringing a pellet, which is moulded so carefully into 
the arowinij nursery that save for its darker color, due to 
moisture, the new work could not be distinguished from the 
old. 

A tliorough inspection of her work takes place after 
every load of clay is incorporated in the nest. Ervery scrap 
of the edifice, the old as well as the new is gone over minute- 
ly doubtless in search of flaws, however tiny, that might 
afford an entrance for the ovipositor of the ever-ready para- 
sites. Sometimes even, the grass stem or whatever the nest 
support may be, is likewise closely inspected both above and 




Thi,ti, hi/ P. <:. II. 



FIG. 128. NEST OF BUFF EUMENES 

Showing finished cells and one open and ready for storing. 

One an<l one-half times life size 



'I'WO I'OTTl'.K WASPS 383 

l)el()\\ the cflls. Tin's close scrutiny is observed tliroii<>lioiit 
tlie luboi- of building'. Xotliiii^' is left to itself — there is no 
tolerance of cai-elessness. Thus the insect's work in all its 
outwai'd roughness, stands, a lastinn' monuincnt to its ina- 
teiMial lo\e. 

A sin()-le ju_i»- or cell is coni])leted in thirty hours. When 
two-thirds finished, an oily white e(>"<>" is de])osited and fas- 
tened to its inner wall. The cell is of necessity never finished 
until the egg is placed, but a few loads of mortar after the 
laying complete the body of the jug. The flared lip about the 
entrance is then fashioned from the outside, after which the 
nursery is readv to be provisioned. 

The caterpillar victims are brought in one l)y one. 
There are twenty-two in all, of what I take to be larvae, ei- 
ther of Tinied or l^yralidina moths. They are pink or green, 
eight or nine millimeters in length and two millimeters thick, 
wliich is just the diameter of the hole left in the jug. 

Storing the cell is a much more leism-ely process than 
building. The wasp visits her nest about once an hour, usu- 
ally bringing a caterpillar, which she stuff^s into the cell with 
a motion similar to that of a dog nosing earth over a bone. 
Occasionally she returns empty-handed, and I wonder that 
it is not oftener. It is winter in the tropics and caterpillars 
are indeed scarce. One might hunt all day and perhaps find 
one, yet the wasp's sense of smell is so highly developed that 
she readily finds twenty-two for each of her cells. 

The storing finished, the wasp sometimes stops work 
for an entire day. I have found her thus, with folded wings, 
quietly resting upon her nest. Indeed, there is no need of 
hurry now. If the egg within the cell hatches there is plenty 
of food for the grub, enough to bring it safely to maturity. 
There are dangers of course. Parasites, or ants would carry 
off the contents of the open cell, but her presence prevents 
attack. Later the hole is ])lugged with a pellet of mud flat- 
tened out until little trace of the openhig remains. The was]) 
continues to visit her nest even when no more cells are to 



384 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




Photo by P. (I. II. 

FIG. 129. FOUR JUGS OF THE RED EUMENES OPENED TO SHOW CONTENTS 

a. Half-grown Larva. 6. Full-grown Larva, c. Larva changing to Pupa. d. Pupa. 

Enlarged twice life size. 



be constructed. This continues for a day or so, but at lengtli 
she abandons it to the care of fate. 

The egg hatclies in forty-eight liours, giving place to 
the usual Hynienopteron grub of thirteen segments. It is 
rather transparent and of a yellowish white which rapidly 
turns to pink oi- greenish, according to the color of its food, 
and is later lost again. At birth its head is very round, and 
distinct from the body, being darker in color and supplied 
with mandibles that tear into the first caterpillar that comes 
handv. 



TWO POTTER WASPS 385 

It grows I'apidly, (l()iil)lin<»" in size in tlircc days, and in 
one week it is five times its original length and I'nll grown. 
Twenty-two eaterpillars in one week is not a bad feast for 
so small a ereatnre, yet tlie bnlk of the eater and the eaten is 
approximately the same. 

Upon finisliing the last eaterpillar the grub I'ests for 
twenty-fonr hours before eoating the interior of its cell and 
spinning its cocoon, a process qnite similar to that employed 
by the other potter of this chapter. Transformation follows 
a week after s])inning, l)ringing to light a yellow pupa not 
as oddly shaped as that of the red Eumencs. 

Its thorax, waist and abdomen are a closer approach 
to a straight line. It therefore requires proportionally less 
room and its cell is flattened and otherwise constructed 
accordingly. 

Here as with the red species, I must drop the wasp 
at 2)upation. With all my care and repeated trials I was un- 
successful in rearing the species to maturity. I found it sim- 
ple enough to hatch the eggs, rear the grub and observe 
pupation, but beyond that point I remain in darkness. On 
the eve of emergence, my priceless pupae shrivelled and died, 
and who can say why ? 



CHAPTER XX\ I 



LARVA r, SACRIFICE 



Fig. 125; 9-12 

It is sti'iinge what a vast array of facts are disclosed 
through the study of the uniiiteUigeiit invertehrate. I am 
thinking particularly of insects, dominant creatures of the 
earth, into whose life-secrets and lore man, through his 
wretched span of years may scarce become a trespasser. 
They are set apart, almost in another world, vastly wise 
and ruled by an iron discipline that has wrought their 
world empire of today. My attitude toward the insect is 
that of a pupil under a great master, who, unable ever to 
reach the altitude of his mind, must be content to set forth his 
simplest teachings. No matter where I look, my master is 
there, a superior being who appears to have risen far above 
me. From his instinctive throne, he looks down pityingly 
upon my intelligence, I who must put two and two together 
and work my poor brain so hard to understand his simplest 
problems. 

Words fail to tell adequately of what I see in the world 
of insects. Then again there is much that I fail to under- 
stand anyway, as a consolation for the missing words, but 
occasionally I have just a faint glimmer of what is trans- 
piring before my eyes. Thus I shall skip briefly over the life 
history of a wasp I call the roach-killer. Podium riiiipcs 
(Fabr.), to the subject of this chapter. 

The roach-killer is a solitary mason wasp, who has taken 
advantage of man's intrusion into her domain. His houses 
and buildings afford safer quarters for her nest, which orig- 
inally she cemented to the concave sides of stumps or forest 
trees. Now she has partly abandoned the old sites for the 
immovable wooden shutters of tropical civilization, where 



LARVAL SACRIFICE 387 

her rough red cohinins of elay stand for years as iiionunieiits 
over the })irth heds of her offs])ring. 

The nest, a single cohinin of chiy two and a half to four 
inches in length and close to three-quarters of an inch in 
diameter, consists of a series of V-shaped layers placed side 
hy side. The entrance to the nursery faces toward the 
ground. Inside it is divided into several ten l)y twenty 
millimeter cells, never exceeding four in numher, which 
compared with the exterior, are quite smooth and polished. 

Here is an interesting fact: If the wasp has chosen her 
original habitat among the stumps, she abandons it when 
finished as an inconspicuous grey blotch that blends nicely 
with its surroundings. In the forest she finds no red or 
orange clay for building material. The swamps yield a rich 
brown and the brook banks a shade of grey. The nest is of 
necessity sombre in color. On the other hand, the nests 
placed in the shutters of houses were all of rich, orange-red 
clay, collected from a nearby excavation in the trail. They 
were conspicuous objects to say the least, but the wasp 
quickly covered her fresh paint with a neatly arranged layer 
of termite's wings, cast off spider's skins and other bits of 
refuse. At first I j)ut the occurence down as accidental, but 
careful examination leads me to believe that it is a regular 
habit of the wasp, in view of the fact that not a square milli- 
meter of the underlying claj^ showed through the veil. \\^hen 
the nests were finished they appeared old and disused. 

Each cell is usually provisioned with four wood roaches. 
Upon the last one placed in the cell a single white egg, with 
a yellow median line, is deposited. It is thrust under the fore 
leg of the roach, where the leg joins the insect's body. It is 
a tender spot where the young wasp, two days later, may 
easily bury its head in the creature's flesh. The nmnber 
of roaches in a cell varies according to their aggregate. Thus 
a cell may contain two medium and one very large insect, 
or six small ones, and while there is variation in the number 




FIG. i:iO. ROACH-KILLER 

Sh'>wing gradual transformation of Larva 
to Pupa. 

Twice life Size 



I'liiito 1)1/ J'. U. U . 
FIG. 131. PUPA OF THE ROACH-KILLER 

Just after the transformation from the 
Larva. 

Six times life size 



LARVAL SACRIFICE :J89 

of victims, tlie total bulk and food value of each ccH's con- 
tents remain the same. 

Two days after the egg is deposited and the cell sealed 
up with clay, the young roach-killer hatches. It is but a tiny 
grub of thirteen segments, two millimeters in leng-th, rather 
transparent and concerned only with its mouth and digestive 
tract. For tW'O days it gorges, selecting only the tenderest, 
juiciest parts of its victims, leaving the legs and other less 
nutritious parts untouched. On the lifth day of its exist- 
ence, it returns to these left-overs, going over and over them 
until all nourishment is gone. 

One hears the glutton ])lainly at its feast. Sip-sip-sip, 
comes the rvthmic sound. Its entire bodv throbs in unison 
as the greedy creature dives deeper and deeper into the grab 
bag of the roach's anatomy. In five days the feast is over. 
The wings, egg cases, shells of the heads and thorax, together 
with the hard limb skeletons of the roaches are left uneaten 
in the end. They lie about the cell in fine disorder as lasting 
evidence of the grub's revelry. 

Immediately upon finishing the repast, the larva con- 
structs a netw'ork of silken threads, just enough to prevent 
its rolling about. Within this cradle an inner cocoon is 
formed, composed of threads nuich more densely spun, and 
finally coated within with a reddish brow-n fluid that hardens 
in contact w'ith the air, into a brittle skin. The process of 
spinning and coating requires eighteen hours for completion 
after which the larva excretes the waste from its five-day 
gorge in a single mass at one end of the cocoon. 

Spinning over, there comes a ten-day pause in the crea- 
ture's activity, during which time we shall witness the Lar- 
val Sacrifice. This process, known as pupation, is in many 
respects the strangest and most w^onderful of all physiolog- 
ical transformations that take place in the insect world. We 
will see the grub which in reality is but the ancestral form 
of the wasp, transformed by what we might call a "second 
birth," from its lowlv woi-m-like bodv into an utterlv differ- 



:m) TROPICAI. WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

ent and liighly specialized member of the topmost order of 
modern insects. 

We have traced the larva from the time the parent wasp 
de])osited it as a tiny egg upon the roach's body. We have 
watched its growth from day to day and observed how it 
tackles one victim, consumes it, searches out a second then 
a third and fourth; how it eats the tender portions first and 
returns later to coarser fare. Its actions are almost those of 
a creature conscious of its life and appetite which thinks 
only of its stomach and so many good things to be consumed. 
But the minute the repast is over, and the cocoon spun, we 
see this energetic and ravenous bit of life cease all outward 
activities. 

From young to full-grown larva, the creature is, in a 
measure, master of itself. It moves about in the cell of its 
own accord, feeds itself copiously and rests if need be, but 
thereafter it must surrender to an incomprehensible power, 
an invisible surgeon who will anesthetize the grub, tear down 
its old body and bring forth a new and better creature from 
the havoc of his scalpel. 

During the operation, many of the larval organs and 
tissues are entirely done away with, and at the same time 
many parts of the new insect are derived from them. There 
is no S])illing of blood, no suffering, no consciousness of what 
is taking place within the larval skin. From the exterior 
we see nothing to hint of what is transpiring. All is serene 
during the ten days that the operation requires for 
completion. 

This strange process of "second birth," (I have no ade- 
quate term for it), is known in creatures other than insects. 
From the blood and tissue of the horse, the foetus is pro- 
duced, and eventually born. It arrives quite like the parent 
exce]jt for minor details. Without radical changes it feeds, 
lives and grows to maturity. In tlie chicken we have the egg, 
then the young, different at birth from the parent, but rap- 
idly growing to resemble it, u])on the addition of food to the 



LARVAL SACRIFICE 391 

youngster's stomach. In the wasp we have an egg, followed 
by a grub that is unable, simply by eating, to become like its 
parent. Something more radical is necessary, a complicated 
bit of surgery which will knock down the larval house and 
raise an imago from the ruins! 

Thus in ten days after the larva spins its cocoon we see a 
slight shrinking of the body. A depression just off center 
follows. There is a tremor, ever so slight, then slowly the 
whole perfect insect unfolds from the grub like a nascent 
flower from its bud. It may require a million years for proc- 
esses of evolution to become established into a train of events, 
yet here in the course of a few days, by watching this won- 
derful transformation from grub to pupa, w^e have actually 
witnessed the ancestral form sacrificing itself to a modern 
one! 

The processes that bring about such radical changes in 
the insect are known as histolysis and histogenesis. The 
former covers the breaking down and disintegration of the 
larval tissues and the latter the building of the new body, 
in part independent of the old material. There is little 
known of these strange performances, yet it appears to be 
the general belief that for the most part, the perfect insect 
is developed chiefly from the skin cells of the larva. There- 
fore, I shall set forth what I have been able to gather through 
the logic of observation, about this point. I make my state- 
ments guardedly — simply as facts that appear to have been 
overlooked. 

A yacht is built and launched. She serves admirably 
as a pleasure craft and is quite satisfactory for that purpose. 
War is declared. She is commandeered by the government 
for patrol duty and must be altered to meet new require- 
ments. She is dry-docked, fitted with guns, more powerful 
engines are installed and lastly she is painted battle color. 
Later the craft appears once more upon the water. Altered 
tremendously, the old hulk still serves the fundamental pur- 
pose. It is much the same with the insect. The larval wasp 



;J92 TROPK AI. WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

is coniiiiandeered by nature. She must be fitted to meet new 
conditions in order to perpetuate lier race. Tlius the task 
devolves upon Histolysis the wrecker and Histogenesis the 
builder. 

During the period of larval gr()\\i:li, from the time it 
hatches until the provisions in the cell are entirely consumed, 
the grub rids itself of no waste matter whatever. Unlike 
the larva of the butterfly that excretes every few minutes 
as it eats diu-ing the days of its worm life, the young wasp 
waits until its stores are gone and its cocoon spun before 
passing off the waste of its five-day gorge. Even then it 
waits another day for the event, finally depositing it in a 
single mass at the lower pole of the cocoon. A few days 
later j^upation takes place. 

In the days which pass, between excretion and pupa- 
tion, no foreign matter ap])ears within the cocoon. The 
insect is motionless ; its cradle, save for the hardened mass at 
one end is scrupulously clean. I remove this mass, float it 
out in a little water and subject it to a thorough inspection 
under the microscope. It contains bits of chitin, hairs and 
fragments of claws, all however, fragments of the deceased 
roaches. There is nothing unusual in the array, no bits of 
larval anatomy, no fragments of the grub itself. What then 
becomes of the material that Histolysis is supposed to dis- 
poil? Are the skin cells all of the grub's anatomy that serve 
to build the wasp? 

I cut open the body of a grub, three days after the co- 
coon is spun. The greater part of it runs through the inci- 
sion as a smooth, pasty liquid amorphous in every way. At 
eight days, I open a second grub. Xow it is partly paste, 
but mostly wasp ! 

The laborers of Histolysis are not altogether wreckers 
then. Tliey are concerned more with tearing down the old 
timbers, removing the rusty nails, puttying the holes and 
handing tlicni liack to the equally skillful em])loyees of His- 



LARVAL SACRIFICE IWi 

togenesis, who in turn rebuild the house along more modern 
lines. 

Twenty-foui' days after pupation the insect issues from 
the cocoon, drills a neat hole through the wall of its nurs- 
ery and emerges into the suidight a perfect insect. Ul- 
hind her, she leaves a few, very tiny pellets of white excretia. 
These are the rustv nails from the old structure. Thev are 
all I can find of the larval body that is not incor])orated in 
the new. 

Fruit from the tree of instinctive was])-love, the new- 
born insect is only an atom in the world, but what a bundle 
of unsolved mysteries to the humble student of her secrets! 
^Vt her "second birth," she becomes her own mother! Xot 
content with skin cells alone as building material. Histolysis 
and Histogenesis have rebuilt the Huntress from herself. 
She flies into the world with a fresh coat of paint, remodeled, 
a thing brought up to date, but somewhere underneath, lie 
the old timbers, reshaped and sawn to meet the new plan! 



CHAPTER XXVll 

THE BLACK REE])- WASP 

Tri/j)()d\i/lou ciucrcoJnrtinn Cam. 

Where man has felled tlie primitive forest, obliterating 
nature's labors of half a thousand years, he leaves a wound 
that is long in healing. Just as a wound in the flesh leaves 
a scar that stands out distinct from its surroundings, so the 
forest heals its injury with a new vegetation, distinct from 
itself, but a mask nevertheless to the ghastly wound lying 
beneath. 

We call the mask secondgrowth. It is made up of trum- 
pet trees, weakly shoots from fallen forest giants, great 
waves of razor-grass, briars, various types of undergi'owth 
and here and there a patch of canes whose hollow stems are 
the natural nesting sites of the black reed-wasps. 

Abandoning their natural habitat for the advantages 
afforded by Kalacoon, they flocked to our hospitable board, 
setting up their abodes in our pen-holders, in spools, nail 
holes, in the handle of my shaving glass and in fact, in any- 
thing that suggested a hollow tube with a tiny diameter. 

To the general rule among Hymenoptera the black 
reed-wasps are an exception. That is to say, they are neith- 
er social, in the usual community sense of the word, nor 
are they solitary. They came in mated pairs in search of 
nesting sites, inspecting all the best holes in the house with 
great care and deliberation. Like so many newly married 
couples, filled with the enthusiasm of a novel project, they 
roamed a])out among the improved ])roperty that Kalacoon 
offered. To facilitate my studies of their life history, I ])laced 
several pieces of glass tul)ing, thi-ee or four inches long and 
a quarter of an inch in diameter, about the laboratory. I 



MI.ACK Hi:i:i) WASP 



1395 



a 






M- 



c 



I'hoto 1,1/ I', a. II. 



FIG. 132. BLACK REED-WASP 



a. & b. Male wasp guarding entrance to nest. c. Glass tube containing nest, provisions and egg 

Natural size. 



inserted tlie tubes, whicli were closed at one end, into paste- 
board boxes, leaving the open end of each projecting, so that 
the entrances were in plain view, but the main part of the 
passages were quite dark, witliin the boxes. Thus I made 
conditions in the tubes exactly like those of the reeds that 
the hisects naturally chose for their nests. 

They were an instant success, and within an hour or 
two, all were occupied by enthusiastic couples. In the glass 
nests, I could watch everything that went on. All that was 
necessary for me to do in order to observe the occupants' 
behavior, was to remove the box covers, and replace them 
when I had finished. 



:J9() TROPICAL WILD LILK IN BUrrLSH (iUIANA 

True to the tradition of wasp history, the female pro- 
ceeds with the hard hd)or of nest buikhnfj- and providing- for 
her family. The male, while he never actually takes part in 
the work, sits menacin<>ly in the entrance, during his mate's 
absence, guarding the nest from intruders of the same spe- 
cies that are ever ready unhidden to acquire a partly pre- 
pared home. He shows great interest in the work, followmg 
the female into the tunnel, watching closely whatever she 
may be doing and squeaking continually m a high pitched 
key by vibrating his wings. This is a common habit among 
many wasps dm-ing the work hours, but the species in ques- 
tion omits this strange little rasping sound during almost all 
of its occupations. I interpret it as an expression of pleas- 
ure or well-being, like a man who whistles at his job. The 
sound is never heard during fright or anger, but of this I 
shall treat in another chapter. 

Upon occupying a tube, the female's first procedure is 
to place a plug of solid mortar in the end of it, doubtless to 
prevent parasites and ants from entering. This plug is two 
millimeters in thickness and composed of wet, light gray clay. 
It dries in a few hours, hardening into a tough cement. Next 
to this, a second plug, one millimeter in thickness, is placed, 
containing more moisture than the first and of a much dark- 
er shade. This is followed by a third one of the same de- 
scription, placed five or six millimeters in front of the sec- 
ond plug, so that there is an air space between them which 
holds moisture in the nest. The tube is now provisioned with 
small spiders of different species, varying from five to eight 
in number, which are paralyzed by the wasp's sting and 
brought in one by one. They are packed tightly into the 
tube by the insect's broad head which is brought into use as 
a sort of rann-od. The tube is a tiny, muzzle-loader, into 
which she ])acks her living wads without mercy. 

Upon the side or a])ex of the last, and usually the larg- 
est, spider's abdomen, she deposits a niilky-wliite, bow- 
shaped egg, two millimeters in length. It is less than one- 



BLACK Rl'.KI) WAS I' 397 

(jiiartt'i- as wide as l()ii<»- and closely reseinhlcs a sausage. The 
spiders and the egg ai'e now enckjsed in a suhstantial cell 
averaging twenty niillinieters in length, by the insertion of 
a double ])lug of mortar, six millimeters in thickness, half 
of dam]), dark-colored clay and half of the hard lighter ma- 
terial. The nest is now abandoned by the parent wasps who 
often start immediately to provision a second one. 

In two days the egg hatches, bringing to light a yellow- 
white grub of thirteen segments. It commences feeding at 
once u])on the spiders, a j^i'ocess which may be observed un- 
der the lens as a series of ripples or waves, commencing just 
behind the head and continuing the entire length of the 
body, — one wave being completed or spent, before the fol- 
lowing one sets in. It grows rajjidly, but very steadily, in- 
creasing each day in the same ratio until the last twenty-four 
hours of feeding, when it gains somewhat less than during 
the previous days. In all the larva or grub is full grown in 
four days from the time it hatches. 

ITpon finishing its meal, which lasts continuously for 
four days, the larva spins a flimsy net work of silken threads 
inside of which the cocoon proper is spun. This inner cocoon 
resembles a tiny torpedo, rounded at l)oth ends and ten milli- 
meters in length. It is very neatly constructed of delicate 
silk and coated all over the interior with a brown varnish that 
hardens in contact with the air. 

Within this delicate cradle ten days later, the budding- 
wasp undergoes pupation — that wonderful process described 
more fully in the previous chapter — by which the footless 
grub is transformed from a low and ancient form, to the 
highest order of modern insects. The actual change from 
gorged grub to a neatly folded, but colorless wasp is affected 
in ten days, but it still has three hundred and twenty-eight 
hours of confinement separating it from the light of day, 
hours which must be passed (juietly, lest injury result. 

As the hours go by, color at length flows through its 
body and appendages, transforming opaque yellow to glis- 



398 TROPICAL WILD LIFK IN BRITISH GUIANA 

telling black. Then comes the final gift of nature, the power 
of motion. The nascent creature moist with birth, bursts its 
cocoon, gnaws through the plug of mortar and issues into the 
outer world, a perfect insect. Only thii'ty-eight days have 
passed since I placed the tubes in the laboratory, and since 
the parents of this new creatiu-e arrived, realizing their 
destiny. 

There is an interesting problem to solve concerning the 
black reed-wasps. Their nests vary considerably in number 
of cells. Some are complete with one, others contain two, 
but the majority are complete only after an egg has been 
laid upon the stores in three separate compartments. The 
question arises, how will the wasps emerge as perfect insects 
without disturbing one another? 

If the nest is to shelter three insects, the cell farthest 
from the entrance will natiu'ally receive the first provisions 
collected, and it would seem, in due time, the first egg de- 
posited. The remaining two cells would receive their re- 
spective contents in the order of their position, but the first 
egg laid, naturally hatches before the others. The grub, 
reaches maturit}, pupates and is ready to emerge sometime 
ahead of its sisters in the other cells. What happens then? 
Does the issuing wasp burrow its way out through the cells 
in front, upsetting in its passage the vital condition of soli- 
tude that surround the younger insects? Does it burrow 
through the clay plugs, separating each nursery and as a 
final act of vandalism, leave the nest open, exposing its 
younger sisters to the first parasite? 

So it would seem, })ut such a course would be contrary 
to all the laws of nature. She does not destroy her children 
needlessly, yet I wonder what happens in such nests as that 
of the bhick reed-wasp, whose oldest cliild seems farthest 
from the door to freedom! 

Perhaps the parent wasp is gifted with the power of 
laying eggs that require varied terms of incubation. In the 
first cell ])r()visioned she lays an egg that requires three days 



BLACK RKKD WASP 8<)i) 

to hatch, ill tlic niichlle cell one that requires two days and 
in the outer cell the egg hatches in a day and a half. The 
theory would strai*>hten out the ditticulty very nicely. The 
insects would emerge in turn without disturbing one another 
and all would be well, but a theory is no better than a guess. 
Moreover a little careful observation of the glass tubes yields 
the correct and simple answer to the question. 

I W'atch a wasp entering one of the tubes carrying a 
spider which is held tightly beneath her body. She enters, 
stores the game, squeaks about it to her watching mate, and 
is off again in search of a second victim. She does not rest 
after placing eight spiders in the tube, yet this is the maxi- 
mum number for a single cell. Instead, the work continues 
during most of the day without interruption. 

In the afternoon I open the box containing her nest. 
The tube contains twenty spiders separated into three little 
groups by half partitions of clay. Upon the abdomen of a 
large spider in each group she has deposited an egg. Xow 
I close the box and await her return. She arrives laden with 
a tiny ball of clay in her mandibles, enters the nest for a mo- 
ment and then flies off minus her burden. 

At the end of an hour the operation has been repeated 
twenty times. Xow- she commences to close the entrance 
with the same material. The job requires ten more loads of 
mortar, but it is completed rapidly. By evening she has left 
the nest, I presume for good and all, and for the last time 
I pry into her secrets. 

It is all very clear. In a single day she has accumulated 
the entire amount of provision necessary to provide her three 
offspring and separated them into distinct groups. Further 
she has constructed half partitions that keep the stores sep- 
arate, but still permit her to pass from one end of the nest 
to the other. Thus she is enabled to deposit her three eggs 
in different departments of the nest, all on the same day. 
The laying over, she has only to finish the half partitions 



400 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

with a few loads of clay, plug the entrance and her work is 
completed. 

She has deposited all her eggs within an hour and they 
are safe in isolated cells. The three will pass through their 
metamorphosis as one. They will eat and grow and pupate 
together, and issue into the world almost at the same moment. 
Thus the hlack reed-wasp solves the problem very simply. 
She brings her offspring into the w orld as triplets ! 



Egg 
1 



Larva 



PLATE II 



Pupa 



Imago 

4 






WHITE-FOOTED WASP 








FOREST SHELL-WASP 



10 



11 



12 






13 



14 



ONE-BANDED DAUBER 



15 







\ 



18 



<S"\ 




BLUE HUNTRESS p. a. Howe>^. 'Ui 

KIG. l.«. LIFE HISTORIES OF BARTICA WASPS 



CIIAPTKll XX\ III 

THE WHITE- FOOTED WASP 

Tri/pocV(/lo7i lc7icot rich! tun lioliniei- 

An alert busiut'ss-Jikc insect, dctp steel blue with a 
white band encircling each of her liind tarsi, the white-footed 
wasp is readily recognized. She inhabits the hot open trails 
where bamboo grass has been slashed in clearing, leaving 
here and there a severed hollow stem hanging in mid-air and 
supported by the plant's shriveled leaves which catch among 
other foliage. These hollow tnbes supply the insect's favor- 
ite nesting sites, unapproachable from below except by 
winged enemies. 

The reed which the wasp had chosen had been severed 
by a knife slash so that its end was sliced off at a gentle angle. 
It hung four feet above the ground in a heavy patch of bam- 
boo grass with its open end pointing toward the earth. Sev- 
eral other open reeds of the same character surrounded it, 
appearing to me very much the same. Not so to the wasp, 
however, she differentiated at once and upon returning from 
her journeys, flew directly to the reed of her choice. There 
was no uncertainty in her approach, no repeated trials to 
find the proper entrance. A straight, single flight from the 
outer world to her tube marked her arrival. What a con- 
trast to the clumsy one-banded dauber who wastes her pre- 
cious time! 

I first found the white-footed wasp gathering a ball of 
soggy clay in a pitfall trap in the trail leading to the forest. 
Several of these holes had been excavated and for their in- 
tended purpose of catching frogs, toads and the smaller ro- 
dents they were perhaps less productive than they were of 
wasps. The pits, after a rainfall, often contained several 



402 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

inches of water. When bailed out, a pasty layer of clay 
would be left in tlie bottom of each. This material, a ready 
made mortal-, i)r()ved attractive to a number of was])s, which 
used mud in the construction of tlieii- nests. Tiny little reed- 
wasps, medium-sized ones, i)i<> blue huntresses, danbers and 
a dozen others collected at this abundant ])n})lic property. 
Here, side by side, they fathered their building material, 
all laboring in a great common design for the welfare of 
their race in the future. 

The was]) brought several loads to her tube, scraping it 
up from the floor of the pitfall and carrying it in little glo- 
bules to her doorway. Once within, a high-keyed squeaking 
and buzzing would continue until the clay was thoroughly 
kneaded into a safety plug at the upper end of the reed. 
Her tri])s bet\veen nest and pit were continued for nearly 
an hour, like a hod-carrier laboriously plying between mortar 
box and masonry. After many trips back and forth she 
disappeared, returning in a little less than half an hour with 
a Ihnp, paralyzed spider. 

The victim, a medium-sized creature, was richly colored 
and patterned in various shades of brown. Its body was 
quite small, measuring six millimeters in width, but the legs, 
all of whicli were intact, were long and rather cumbersome 
to the wasp. With her burden she flew directly to the en- 
trance of her nest. She alighted with difficulty, then turning 
a])out and gras])ing the spider by one of its palpi she en- 
deavored to enter the reed backwai'ds. All went well for a 
time. The victim's cephalothorax and fore legs caused no 
trouble, but its abdomen caught at once upon the sharp edge 
of the reed, which tapered almost to a point. Froni this 
point the s])ider would not budge — and what is more, was in 
great danger of being punctured. Had the wasp pulled too 
hard it certainly would have been impaled on the reed and 
ruined foi" future use. 

Hci'c I witnessed a most skilful ])erformance. Clinging 
to the interior ol' the reed with only her two posterior claws. 



WHITE-rOOTKI) WASP 40:3 

the wasp lowered tlie spider very earefuUy and delil)erately 
until its entire body swuni*- tree in the air. Here, elasped 
tightly in the wasps stron«>' niandil)le>. it was held l)y its two 
front legs, and rotated so that its abdomen came into the 
position so lately held by the eephalothorax. Then walking 
baekward up the tube the wasp succeeded in bearing her vic- 
tim to its last resting place. 

As I have already stated, the wasp seeks out spiders 
which although of moderate size, possess long, slender legs, 
and there is a simple signiticance in her choice. The wasps 
nest is a hollow reed whose smooth perpendicular walls end 
abruptly in space. Her front door gapes in the void and 
must be approached from below. The spiders body alone 
is considerably smaller than the diameter of the tube. Thus 
were the wasp to choose a short-legged victim it would drop 
from the nest at the instant of release. The long legs of her 
si)ider are doubtless burdensome, vet thev are a necessity 
to the success of her work. Tn drawing them into the reed, 
their legs fold back 1)etweeii alulomen and reed, tilling the 
intervening space so nicely tliat tlie entire creature remains 
wherever the wasp places it. 

Four of these spiders are allotted to each of the three 
cells, which are separated as the wasp provisions them, with 
plugs of clay tlu'ee millimeters in thickness. Upon the side 
of the largest spider in each cell, a three-millimeter egg is 
deposited. It is slightly boMcd. just enough to tit the curve 
of the spider's abdomen, slightly elongated at one end and 
about the color of skimmed milk. 

The three cells varv considerablv in size. (Jne measures 
three inches, another two and the third is an inch and three- 
quarters long. For these differences I can see no reason. 
So long as there are three cells in the tube the wasp is appar- 
ently quite satisfied to place her divisions at random. 

The egg hatches in forty-eight hours, residting in the 
characteristic wasp grub of thirteen segments. It commences 
feeding at once upon the stored spiders, first drawing off the 



404 THOIMCAL W I IJ) LII'F, IN imiTISH GUIANA 

soft parts and later return ing to less delicate food. During 
the first day of its life the larva grows only two millimeters. 
On the second and third days it averages five millimeters 
each. On the foin'th it goes l)ack to two, grows eight on the 
fifth and fim'shes with a growth of one millimeter on the sixth 
and last day of its meal. The spiders are now entirely con- 
sumed and the grub measures twenty-six millimeters in 
length. 

Without ])ausing for a moment to rest, the full-grown 
larva now sets about to lay the foundations of its elaborate 
cocoon. The insect is awkwardlj^ placed at the outset, living 
as it does in a cell whose perpendicular walls are several 
times its own length, but fortunately at this period of its 
life it is endowed with an unusually tacky skin. This sticki- 
ness serves a special purpose, enabling the grub to remain 
safely in the top or center of its cell without the slightest 
danger of tumbling down to the mortar i)lug separating it 
from the cell below. 

From its lofty position and in total darkness, the grub 
first throws out several bands of silk, fastening them in vari- 
ous places about the reed walls. It makes no choice of its 
own, but simply fastens each successive thread to the first 
point of contact. Some of the strands pass to points above 
the spinner, some below and still others across the middle 
of its body to the wall beyond. At length the grub finds 
itself more or less enclosed in a delicate silken net through 
the strands of which it may still poke its head. 

Thirty or forty new threads are now extended from the 
top of the growing cocoon. They emerge from various points 
in a circle, and are fastened to the cell wall above. The larva 
noM^ returns to its original network, within which it spins a 
firm torpedo-shaped covering, slightly wider tlian its own 
body, nineteen millimeters in length and open at the upper 
end. Through this opening a ring of silk is spun, two milli- 
meters in lieight, with a scalloped edge, the point of each scal- 
lop forming one of the thirty or more strands extending 



WIIITE-FOOTKl) \VASP 4.05 

above tlie cocoon. 'Vhv open top is now closed and reinforced 
with silk, the strands crossin*^' and recrossin^- in every imaf>- 
inable direction so that the cocoon now a])pears in the sha])e 
of a stubby ci<>'ai' with an inverted parachute at one end. 
The strin<»s of the ])arachute extend above, where they are 
fastened to the reed, thus sus])endin_i>- the entire ci-adle in the 
center of the cell. 

The cocoon is now stron<>ly sui)p()rted from above. It 
hanos ])er])endicularly in the hollow reed, head uj). and no 
matter how the lai'va thrashes about, there is no danger of 
falling. Two or three hours after the last silken thread has 
been spun, the grub continues its work, this time coating 
the entire inner surface of its cradle with a transparent or 
slightlv vellowish fluid. A certain amount of this is brushed 
directly upon the walls as it oozes from the creature's mouth, 
but for the most part, the grub expectorates it upon its own 
ventral surface. From here it is caused to flow over its en- 
tire body bv a strange series of muscular contractions. The 
operation is repeated over and over until the writhing crea- 
ture is thoroughly moistened by the secretion. As the grub 
expands, contracts and turns its segments, the liquid becomes 
incorporated with the silk of the cocoon, wetting it thorough- 
ly on the outside. 

It is a varnish with strange properties that the larva 
employs, — a sort of cement which will adhere only to certain 
objects. When secreted it is transparent or nearly so. It 
amalgamates at once with the silk and hardens in contact 
with the air into a skin, purplish brown in color and brittle, 
like the inner covering of a ])eanut. Strange to say it does 
not adhere to the larva, nor turn color until compounded 
with the other material of which the cocoon is made. 

The entire process, of spinning and varnishing, requires 
two full days. The grub then expels a large pellet of waste, 
the accumulation of six days of feeding, in the bottom of the 
cocoon. This hardens rapidly into a solid cake in a few hours. 
Sixteen da}'s later pupation takes place. 



40() 



TROIMCAJ. WILD LIFE IX HRITISH GUIANA 



Xow comes the period of absolute quiet duriufj- which 
time the insect receives its color, whicli appears first in the 
eyes and gra(hially flows throughout the body and its ap- 
pendages. The ])rocess retpiires some lifteen days. This is 
followed by a six-day period before the perfect insect 
emerges, to lay the cornerstone of a new generation. 




FIG. 134. COCOON OF WHITE- 
FOOTED WASP, SHOWING ITS 
ELABORATE CONSTRUCTION. 
Slightly enlarged. 



CIIAPTEK XXIX 

THE FOKEST SHEIJ.-WASP 

ZctJincciilii.s hamaius Zav. 
Fig. l.-J:}; .3-8 

How early one tiling begins to support another in the 
jungle! pjven the infant, thread-like air root, new born 
from the parent liana, sustains a spiral of fairy moss and 
later a tiny emerald wasp's nest, fashioned from the ribbon 
of the sporophyte. The great cool jimgle reminds me of a 
jig-saw puzzle, the pieces of which are its life, entwined 
and ingrown, each using another for its own particular suc- 
cess and to complete its part in the great green picture. A 
giant liana supported by a still greater tree, thread-like off- 
spring sujDported by the liana, fairy moss living upon the 
thread roots, wound in its turn into the hoop-like walls of an 
insect nursery. Here at least are five fragments of the great 
puzzle we see fitted together. 

The nursery which belongs to the shell wasp of the for- 
est reminds me of two algae-grown snails, one clinging to 
the slender stalk, the other to its sister's tapering shell. In 
reality, the two shells are the cells of the nest fashioned from 
the ribbon-moss which grows upon the air-root. It is very 
delicate material. One must look sharply in order to see 
that it is a thing separate from the mere thread that supports 
it. Peeling off the ribbon, the wasp winds it into little hoops, 
one upon the other and cements it together with her own 
personal glue. The building material, when dry, is tough 
and quite waterproof. Some twenty hoops, half a millimeter 
in width, complete each cell and the freshly made nest gives 
off an emerald sheen. 

In each cell a stumpy, slightly bowed egg is laid, two 
and a half millimeters long and a third as wide. It is yellow 




I'hulo hii P. (1. II. 
FIG. 135. THE FOREST SHELL-WASP. 
a. Nest suspended on a delicate air-root. (Enlarged about thrice). b. Opened nest show- 
ing egg. (Enlarged seven times). c. Full grown Larva. (Enlarged seven times). 



FOREST SHRLL-WASP 409 

in the center, fading to a transparent white at either end. 
The yellow center is in reality the young wasp, and the trans- 
parent end the extremities of the film-like egg-shell. The 
eggs are laid one at a time, that is to say, the wasp deposits 
in one cell, waits for it to hatch, then provides the young witli 
sufficient food to bring it to maturity and plugs the cell with 
moss before laying the second c(y(y. 

Its chosen prey is doubtless small caterpillars, for I 
found three uneaten heads in a cell containing a full-grown 
larva. The eg^i; is attached to the roof of the cell l)y its pos- 
terior end near the back, and hangs downward. Thus the 
young wasp hatches with its head in mid-air. 

The mother wasp guards her cells closely during the 
period of incubation, often resting within the cell containing 
the new laid egg. She crawls to the entrance on the roof 
of the nest, then tiu-ning round, backs in, clinging to the im- 
derside of the roof. Her head peering out, with its antennae 
waving here and there, adds to the illusion of the nest being 
the shell of a snail. 

The two nests on which this life historj" is based were 
found on May 14, in the deep forest. One of them I lost, 
but let us go back to that day and the remaining nest. If I 
leave it upon its swaying air root for further observation, I 
will probably never find it again. It blends perfectly with 
the emerald sin-roundings, a tiny object in a part of the for- 
est that I have visited but once. Therefore I will carry it 
home to the laboratory just as it is, and put myself in diffi- 
culties at once. 

The first cell contains a full-grown larva and the second 
is empty, save for a single, freshly deposited egg. The lar- 
va is quite satisfactory. It has finished its meal of cater- 
pillars and will soon pupate, giving me much desirable in- 
formation and no trouble. But what of the egg'^ If, true 
to the rule w^hich is usual among solitary wasps, it will be- 
come a hungry living grub in forty-eight hours, how then 
shall I feed it? I have not given the parent wasp a chance 



410 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

to store provisions for her larva, yet T am responsible for 
the orphan. 

The young of solitary wasps are fed on a variety of 
material, but spiders and caterpillars seem to be most 
frequently chosen as provender. This I know from experi- 
ence gained in the examination of a great many nests. In 
the light of the present difficulty it may prove a valuable 
bit of knowledge. The victims are stored within the cells in 
a paralyzed condition from which tliey never awake. If 
tliev were killed outright, they would soon putrify in the 
cells, contaminate the budding w^asp and turn the healthy 
nursery into a colony of lepers. Therefore instinct, the great 
teacher of insects, guides the w^asp's sting only into the vic- 
tim's nervous centers. The creature, so treated, passes into 
a comatose condition and lies powerless to move or struggle 
while the young wasp sucks at its viscera. This, then, is my 
grewsome course: I must catch, artificially paralyze and 
present living food to the shell-wasp's grub if I am to rear 
the orphan successfidly. 

A search for caterpillars of the proper description is 
entirely unsuccessful. They must be minute, soft and with- 
out hair upon their bodies or the youngster will die of indi- 
gestion. Moreover it is the off season for them and unlike 
the w\^sp I cannot find them by the sense of smell. There- 
fore as an experiment I substitute spiders for the proper 
diet of span-worms. Spiders are abundant and easily 
paralyzed. 

The nervous system of a spider is concentrated in a mass 
of ganglions gathered about the oesophagus. It lies in the 
cephalothorax, or in that section of the creature which is 
foremost, there being but two divisions. 

I secure my first victim from its web in the window 
corner. It is a long-legged creature with a good plump body, 
soft and un])rotected. With a little chloroform, I anaesthet- 
ize it, just long enough to keep the creature quiet. As soon 
as it is still, I clip its legs off quite short, then with a very 



FOIIKST SUKl.I.-WASl' 4'n 



slender needle I stal) tlie cejjlialotliorax in two phiees, once 
IVom al)()\c, oiK'f from below. My object is to reacb tbe 
iianii'lions mentioned above, tlierebv in')nrin<>- tlieiii with in\- 
needle and pro(lnein_i»' a soit of* j)aralysis in the spidei-. The 
experiment works well enough. The vietini (juivers for a 
moment, tlien lies motioidess. With my ernde stin<>-, repre- 
sented by the needle, I have imitated as closely as possible 
the metliods em])loyed by the parent wasp in preparini»- food 
for her oft's])rin«4". 

Now 1 place the spider in the cell jnst under the sus- 
pended unhatclied egi'; of the was}) and await developments. 
In two days the young- wasp emerges from the shell, and 
hangs head down, still attaclied at its anal segment to the 
cell wall. For several hours 1 keep close watch, during 
which time it pays no attention to the paralyzed spider. It 
scorns my w^ork and the repast I have prepared and hangs 
helplessly, its mouth sucking rythmically at the air. Now 
I move the spider so that one of the stab wounds in its body 
comes in contact with the larva's mouth. It responds fran- 
tically, like a creature dying of thirst, to the li(juid that oozes 
from the wound. It fastens itself by the mouth to its victim 
and there it clings like a suction pad, its entire body rippling 
as it drains the spider's life. 

^luch to my surprise the experiment is crowned with 
success. In a few hours a change is noticeable in the larva — 
it has grown and gained in strength. At length it pulls 
away from the w^alls of the cell and settles among the spiders 
I have provided. It is an experiment especially prolific in 
answering abstract cpiestions and suggesting others. It 
proves that all larva are not entirely dependent on one cer- 
tain article of diet. Doubtless a given species is invariably 
supplied by the parent with the same kind of food, yet we 
have positive proof that such a condition is not imperative. 
The larva has no more ahhorrence for the spider than for its 
natural diet of caterpillars. If the mother wasp but knew 



412 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

the truth she might store her nest with tlie ever ahiindant 
spider in years of eaterpilhir scareity. 

Furtlier, the experiment points out that in the wasp's 
vietim, ])aralysis may be brouojit about by tlie thrust of the 
dart unaided by its poison. It is the stabbing and injuring 
of the ganghons that produees the effect, at least in the case 
of the spider. 

Is the poison of tlie wasp a potion for prolonging life 
in tlie stores, ratlier than an agent for producing paralysis? 
Do wasps that attach their eggs to the cell walls, leave the 
doors open until the young wasps hatch, for any particular 
reason? These are questions that the experiment suggests. 
But let us go back to the insect's life history. 

At birth the young wasp measures two and one-half 
millimeters. It is a milky white grub of thirteen segments 
counting the head, which is a round bead-like affair. As it 
feeds and increases in size the distinction of the head de- 
creases. At first the head is nearly the same diameter as 
the body itself, but the latter soon takes on flesh and grows 
many times its original size, so much more rapidly than the 
head that it soon greatly surpasses it. 

I continued to feed my orphan for five days, which is 
the average length of time spent gorging by the Guiana 
grub. During this time it consumed several small spiders 
that I paralyzed and placed before it, reaching in the end 
a length of seven millimeters and turning a pale yellow color 
much like clouded or partly sugared honey. 

Now the grub lies motionless for three days, when a 
pellet of undigested bits of spider is deposited in the cell. 
Xo cocoon of any kind is spun; instead it lies upon the bare, 
hooped floor of the nursery, apparently quite contented. All 
wasps rid themselves of what waste has accumulated during 
larval life in this manner, a short time prior to pu])ation, the 
majority placing it in the lower pole of the cocoon, where it 
acts as a solid ])hio'. When the waste matter is expelled the 
grub often loses its original color which is due only to the 



FORKST SHELL-WASP 41.'} 

sewa,i>'c showing' tlir()ii_L>ii its ti-.'nis])arent skin. In tlie case of 
the slu'll-w asj), it eliaii<4es IVom a clouded lioiiey color to white 
sh'^'htly tin<»ed with yellow. Jt also becomes more opaque. 

Ten days after excretion the insect pupates. Then 
comes another wait of* thiie weeks before the final wasp is- 
sues from its cell. 

During these twenty-one days, the pupa receives its fin- 
ishing touches — at first, when the transformation from the 
larval state takes place, there is no dark pigment in the body. 
It is yellowish white and rather translucent. Color appears 
first in the eyes which turn light lavender, then brown and 
finally black. Next, the ])igment appears in the remainder 
of the head. Then, as though coming through some hidden 
tunnel below the flesli, it appears as a mere dot of dark fluid 
in the center of the thorax. Slowly the dot expands, throw- 
ing out arms of color which later com])ine and fill the entire 
thorax with pigment, like a rocket that unfolds its display 
in the sky. Next the slender petiole of the abdomen becomes 
clouded. This soon gives place to darker color while its re- 
cent cloudiness appears in the abdomen itself. At length 
the entire insect turns })lack save for the three small orange- 
yellow patches on its abdomen. 

This general dullness is due to the pupal skin in which 
the finished wasp is now resting. We see it through this 
delicate membranous covering which is immeasurably thin 
and fits the insect as closely as her own external skeleton. 
Under the transparent covering the insect appears dull, but 
otherwise quite normal except for her wings. Her legs and 
antennae are of proper length, her head and body neatly 
proportioned, yet her wings are but a third the natural size. 
They are hollow appendages intricately folded and held in 
place by the wing bags of the membranous covering. Later 
with the pupal skin of Avhich they are a part, these bags are 
shed, releasing the true wings which unfold to their full ex- 
tent under a pressure of liquid which flows into them from 



414 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITLSH GUIANA 

the wasp's IxkIv. Later the hcinid is \vith(h-awn and they dry 
as tliiii, brittle a])pen(hi<>es. 

When the pujnd membrane is cast the wasp requires at 
least another day to rest and gain strength for her emer- 
gence. She does not issue into the world in the wet, weak 
condition of the butterflv, to rest and drv in the sunshine 
before flvin"' to seek her mate. Instead she makes her toilet 
within the cell and waits for full strength before emerging. 
Then, everything ready, with knife-like mandibles she cuts 
a neat round hole through the mossy wall and casts herself 
to the lot of fate. 

We see her as she emerges, all glistening with the youth 
of a new generation. A scant forty days have passed since 
the mother wasp fashioned the emerald nursery upon the 
swinging air root. 



cnAriKii XXX 

'I'TIE OXE-BANDED DAUBER 

SccUjjJiro)! ilstiiJarc (Dalilb.) 
Fio. \m\ 9-12 

Tlie phy-siulogical phases of the (hiul)L'r's hl'c history nat- 
urally adliere to a set of invariable rules — tlie egg hatehes in 
a certain length of tmie, the larva feeds until the s])i(lers in 
its cell are consumed and in the course of certain definite 
periods the insect pupates and emerges. Her nest is of clay, 
her provisions spiders, but otherwise, in the remainder of 
her nesting activities, this wasp is a creature tliat follows no 
rule. Her nursery may be but a single earthen cell or it may 
boast a group of twelve. It may be fastened to a twig, to 
the side of a house, to a sheltering stone or on the edge of a 
narrow shutter slat — one nest is a long flat object humjjed 
at one end witli additional cells and decorated with strips of 
variegated clay, another is top-shaped, dull in color with a 
well defined point, a tliird is egg-shaped; still another is but 
a single grey cell, half circular at one end and quite round 
at the other. They vary endlessly according to the energy 
and taste of the individual builder, therefore I cannot de- 
scribe any one nest as the usual ty])e — I may tell only of the 
buildin": of a cell. It mav be the first room framed in an 
elaborate plan, or the completed nest of the dauber, but my 
remarks will apply to any nest. 

Upon a brick pillar supporting the laboratory the wasp 
laid the corner stone of her nest, Tw^elve loads of brown 
mud, tamped out into flat pies, side by side, sufficed for tlie 
foundation. The material was carried in little round pellets 
weiffhinff one-tenth of a gi'am. Thev w^ere borne in the 
w^asp's mandibles from a moist spot in a flat clearing near])y. 
Each pellet was tamped and arranged with great care, dur- 




Photo by P. a. H. 
FIG. 136. ONE-BANDED DAUBER 
a. Four distinct types of nests. 6. The Dauber at her nest. c. Newly emerged Dauber. 
Upper picture about one third natural size. Lower pictures slightly enlarged. 



ONE-BANDKI) DACBKR 417 

ing which time the wasp buzzed continually and held her 
abdomen at the end of its long petiole high in the air, as a 
balance w^eight to her lowered head on the other end. The 
fore legs w^ere used as much as the mandibles, thus her dumb- 
bell-like body swung pivoted upon the central pair of legs. 

When the foundations were laid she proceeded with the 
cell itself, bringing thirty loads of nmd per hour. In a little 
over two hours the cell w'as complete, a neatly rounded tube, 
thirty millimeters long and sixteen millimeters in diameter, 
the result of some sixtv-five loads of mortar. 

In fashioning the tube, the first few pellets were depos- 
ited side by side and raised into a semi-circular mound or 
half disk stood on end. Here again the w^ork was accom- 
plished w^ith her mandibles and fore legs. The clay was 
pinched ujj between the tarsi and then shaped principally 
witli the mandibles W'hich acted like a pair of flattened tongs. 
When the disk was finished the successive loads of mud were 
pressed against its inner sm-face, usually at one side and then 
moulded into a narrow ridge running around its circumfer- 
ence. Thereafter each pellet was fashioned into a ribbon of 
plaster placed against the side of the preceding layer. 
When the job w^as finished these individual layers were quite 
visible so that the separate rings of which the nest was con- 
structed, could easily be counted. 

In coming to her nest the wasp often experienced great 
difficulty in locating it. She would approach the brick pil- 
lar with her mortar pellet, circle the column once and then 
alight, as a general rule, some distance above or below the 
nest. A thorough inspection of the spot to which her gen- 
eral sense of direction brought her, would follow. This in- 
spection never extended bej^ond one or two bricks at most. 
Finding the cell missing, she would take wing, circle the pil- 
lar once more and alight in a new location. Sometimes this 
performance was repeated over and over, until at length she 
would come by chance upon the brick supporting the object 
of her search. 



418 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

Different species of wasps \ai'v greatly in degrees of 
accuracy in finding their nests. Some experience no diffi- 
culty whatever, others have slight trouhle, while still others 
spend at least one-third of their nesting period searching 
for the elusive keyhole. So true is this among solitary wasps 
that they might he divided into several groups in the order 
of their respective accuracy. One group would contain the 
wasps which build nests in the ends of hollow reeds. The 
home doorway may be in the midst of a dozen others, yet 
the owner flies directly to her own threshold without an in- 
stant's hesitation. The long black reed-wasp and the white- 
footed wasp would be shining examples of this enlightened 
group. i\gain we have such wasps as the red-legged digger 
who locates her tunnel in the ground only after a series of 
circular flights in the air above it, much as a carrier pigeon 
hovers when released, before turning homeward. In the 
third group, the one-banded dauber might head a list of 
blunderers w^ho find their cells onlv after a search, sometimes 
of great length, w^ith the loss of much valuable time and 
energy. - .1 

I do not believe that sight is an important factor to be 
considered in any of the above cases. Insects do not see 
such small objects as their nests clearly from a distance. It 
is, to some extent, a sense of smell, after the main journey 
has been accomplished, but thev relv chiefly on a sense of 
direction. Some have it more highly developed than others, 
just as the Indian finds his way in the forest unaided by 
compass, where another individual, a white man, would fail 
or perhaps blunder through to his camp. The one-banded 
dauber flies accurately enough to her brick pillar, but lacks 
that balanced sense of direction that lands the white-footed 
wasp in a single flight at her doorway. 

In the w^ooden shutters of the Ijaboratory, I found fur- 
ther evidence of the dauber's stupidity. For a nesting site, 
she had selected in this case the narrow edge of a slat situated 
midway between the top and bottom of the shutter. Below 



ONE-BANDKD DAUJJKR 4-19 

hcT site were a dozen other slats each affording- a l)iiil(liiig 
plot similar in every wa}' to the one she had selected. Above 
her were as many more. This made her work difficult, as it 
finallv ])roved, too ditHcult for her limited sense of direction. 
She laid the foundation of her nest in a maze of sites, each 
exactly like those above and below and in the end her design 
perished. Her pellets of mud were deposited upon four dif- 
ferent slats, one below the other until four separate cells, 
three inches apart commenced to take form. Arriving laden 
with her ball of mud she would flv to the general location of 
her original foundation, but to distinguish which slat among 
so many similar ones supported her original masonry was 
quite beyond her. Thus she worked, vainly endeavoring to 
finish her nursery in the usual space of time, laboring the 
while unconsciously on foiu- widely separated cells! Even- 
tually she abandoned the job in despair and indeed it must 
have been discouraging. To return, hour after hovu', labori- 
ously carrying that heavy mortar to a house that refused to 
grow, might easily discourage a stouter heart than the 
dauber's. 

That she concentrated her efforts entirely upon four 
slats was an intei:esting fact. It gives us some idea to what 
degree of perfection her senses of smell and direction are 
developed. The first slat bearing evidences of her workman- 
ship was situated twelve inches above the fourth and lowest 
one. Xow as the wasp always returned, with her pellet, to 
one of these four, it is logical to suppose that her sense of 
direction was developed accurately enough to bring her 
within twelve inches of the actual location of her nest. Ob- 
servation of the insect whose nest I found upon the brick 
pillar strengthened the evidence. This wasp never returned 
directly to her nest at the outset, but at the same time never 
alighted with her ])urden more than a full twelve inches from 
it. From such a position she would walk about in a zigzag 
course, until at length the brick bearing the nest was reached. 
Once this "home brick" was located, the insect would walk 



420 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

straight to lier nest. The dauher returned to the general 
locahty without much (hfheulty, but actually to reach the 
cells she must feel about with curled antennae, and depend 
upon smell rather than a mere sense of direction. 

To build a cell including its foundation requires between 
seventy and ei"htv loads of mortar. The freshly made nurs- 
ery w^eighs about seven and two-thirds grams, but by the 
time it is ready to receive provisions, evaporation has reduced 
it to three. From these figures I conclude that to build a 
nest containing ten cells requires some seven hundred pellets 
of mud. In accomplishing her task the tireless, energetic 
mason carries 1,000 times her own weight in mortar and fash- 
ions it grain by grain into the abode for her progeny. 

In storing her cells, the dauber shows a varied taste. 
I have before me, two open cells. One contains two large 
fat spiders that easily fill the store-room, the other is stored 
with a variety of victims, nine in all, including many grades 
of size and color. In these two cells I have at least three 
genera and five different species of parah'zed spiders. 

Upon the side of the abdomen of the largest one in each 
cell, the wasp deposits a pale j^ellowish white egg, then she 
seals the nursery entrance w^ith a few pellets of mortar and 
abandons the nest for good. 

In seventy-two hours the egg hatches, or I should say, 
comes to life. Here is a strange process. Watching the 
erstwhile egg through the lense, a spasm suddenly takes 
place within its fihn-like shell, w^iich is nearly transparent 
and allows a fairly clear view of what takes place within. 
This spasm is a sort of pumping wave, similar to the move- 
ment in a big fire hose under pressure from the engine. It 
starts at the anterior end of the egg and transverses its en- 
tire length, fading out as it reaches the opposite end from 
which it started. Thus does the new-born take its first 
mouthful of liquid food from the spider. There is no actual 
hatching and crawling forth from the egg, no empty shell 
behind the larva. Instead, its mouth appears first to eat a 



ONK-IJANDI'.I) DATHKU 421 

tiny opening through the fihn that encloses it, after which 
the grub finds its mouth flat upon the spider's abdomen. 

As the pumping spasms continue, each one representing 
a swallowed mouthful of s))ider substance, the mu'sling in- 
creases very gradually in hulk. A few hours after taking 
its first draught of food stufT, the egg-film a])parently splits 
along the center of the larva's back, one end of the breach 
traveling in either direction, exposing the actual skin of the 
young wasp. The breach spreads like a drop of oil u})on 
water, onlv much more slowly, but twenty-four hours after 
the first spasm not a vestige of film remains. Tt ap])ears to 
have been absorbed into the larva's body. Under the lens 
it vanishes slowly before my eyes, yet I cannot see where 
it goes, and when the process is over I can find no trace of 
it either on the larva or its spider host. The grub is a living 
dialyzer through whose delicate skin the egg-film appears 
to osmose. In other words, I believe that the film is ab- 
sorbed into the insect's body in minute particles in much the 
same manner that food passes through the w\^lls of the oeso- 
phagus to reach the distributing corpuscles. 

It is possible that the larva eats the egg-film, but if so 
it is drawn into tlie mouth so gradually and Avith such skill 
that it is impossible to detect the operation. Therefore, I 
suggest that the process may be akin to osmosis. The action 
is so gradual, yet so smooth and uninterrupted that I can 
think of no other way to describe it. 

At first the young w^asp feeds only on liquid food. Dur- 
ing the first few hours of its life its mandil)les are of a very 
rudimentary character, in fact scarcely distinguishable until 
the grub is a day or more old — and are developed gradually 
to be in readiness later when substantial parts of the spider 
must be eaten. The fact that at birth the grub possesses no 
adequate appendages for chewing suggests an interesting- 
question — Plow does the tender creature make the first inci- 
sion through the mature wall of the s])ider's al)domen? Per- 
haps the parent wasp pricks it and uses the minnte drop of 



422 TROPICAT. WIT.D T.TFK IN HRITISH (JUIANA 

fluid tluit oozes from the wound as mucilage with which to 
secure the position of her egg. The gi-ub would come to 
life then with its inl'ant mouth already upon the opening that 
its mother had (h-iiled. Sucli, 1 believe is the case, but let 
it not stand as fact. I'urther observation will first be 
necessary. 

The grub feeds for six days — during this time it goes 
about its meal in a thorough manner so that in the end not a 
hair of the stored spider remains. Further the larva has 
chanofed oreatlv in size. At birth it measures four millime- 
ters, now it is seventeen millimeters long and ready to spin 
its cocoon. 

Spinning is a laborious process requiring three whole 
days. A slight network of silk is first thrown about the cell, 
within which an inner cocoon of far more substantial char- 
acter is then constructed. It is somewhat longer than the 
grub, torpedo shaped and reddish brow^i in color, which is 
due to the varnish, so commonly employed by the larvae of 
Hymenoptera, showing through from the inside. 

The cocoon is in no way remarkable, in fact it is quite 
simple. I have seen other larvae build more elaborate ones 
in a day, yet the dauber requires seventy odd hours for so 
simple an operation. Its nature is sluggish from the outset, 
and throughout its immature life it is slow about its affairs. 
The egg requires three daj^s to hatch, the grub feeds six days, 
therefore it logically follows that spinning should be a leis- 
urely process. The grub therefore takes its time and is none 
the worse for it. 

Seven days after spinning, pupation takes place. The 
creature now lies motionless in the usual quiet state that ac- 
companies tliis condition. Colorless and stately, lying upon 
its back with folded arms in its tomb of masonry, the pupal 
corpse aAvaits a reincarnation that in twenty days brings 
forth a perfect insect. 

Stu])id affairs of the wasp world are generously lieaped 
upon the dauber. Before me lies an oddly-shaped nest of 



ONE-BANOKD DAUBER 423 

lier iiuikin*;' wliich I have opened for inspection. It contains 
twelve cells and as nianv cocoons, ten of wliich have been 
burst open by the young wasps who alas, lie dead and shriv- 
eled in their cells. Their heads face the mortar-plugged 
doors of the prison which bear marks of frantic efforts to 
escape, yet each has died of starvation, unable to reach the 
outer world. 

Herein lies the reward of stupidity. The dauber, whose 
life seems made up of errors, chose for her nest the first mor- 
tar that she chanced to find. It was not the soft grey mud 
from a puddle on the sandy orange surface of the clearing, 
but a pasty yellow clay. It kneaded admirably when soft 
and fresh but in hardening turned to rock. The offspring 
grew normally within, spun their cocoons and passed suc- 
cessfully to finished insects, but were unable to emerge. 
They hammered and gnawed and scraped at the mortar; 
the nest bore evidence of the effort put forth, but all in vain. 
The mortar resisted and the young wasps died. Thus on the 
very eve of their emergence the dauber's offspring were ob- 
literated by her stupidity. I wonder, even if there were a 
tiny glinmier of intelligence in her little dome, whether she 
W'Ould see the error of her wavs? 



CHAPTER XXXI 

THE BLUE HUNTRESS 

Chlorion neotropicus Kohl 
Fig. 133; 13-16 

Close to tlic out-house, whose rough frame supports the 
nursery of the bhie huntress, hes a heap of rich red-orange 
clay, thro^Mi up from a pit on the trail to the forest. It 
attracts a dozen busy mason-wasps who arrive from far and 
near to gather up the pliable, ready-made mortar and bear 
it away to their nests. We are concerned only with a single 
member of the laboring crowd. She is at once distinct in 
size. Her rich metallic color attracts our attention and holds 
it over eleven less comely ones. 

The cement which she is gathering is pliable like putty, 
but filled with tiny bits of stones that make its contents simi- 
lar to that of very fine concrete. These tiny stones w^hich are 
large rocks to the insect, lend themselves admirably to the 
needs of her nest. They lend a rough, rugged appearance 
to the three-celled nursery, but form an impregnable barrier 
against a host of enemies. 

The building material is laid on in irregular heaps. 
They dry very rapidly as the work progresses, giving the 
nest the appearance of a bit of fairy hill country covered 
witli a thousand disorderly loads, spilled helter-skelter from 
as many tiny dump carts. The wasp cares little for outside 
appearances which are of no account. She is concerned 
chiefly with finishing the interior, which is a far more serious 
matter. ^^^^Hil] 

Within, the cells are quite as smooth as they are rough 
without, a condition necessary in vieAv of the delicate con- 
tents tliey are to shelter. The slightest projecting bit of 
stone work, even a sharp grain of sand overlooked, might 



BI.rE HUNTRESS 425 

iiijurt' the tender bodies of the insect's offspring. Thus we 
see her tamping a tiny ])ehhle or a hit of hardened mortar, 
until it sinks into the smooth wall of the chamber. Over and 
over, she inspects her work, scraping, brushing, tamping, 
until the cradle bears no resemblance, except that of color, 
to the coarse, sticky substance from the pit. Her nest re- 
minds me of a callow suburban home, terra cotta and jagged 
stones. Her taste is not cultured, but we may excuse her 
quite readily. She specifies these droll materials for a vital 
reason. 

The huntress is a skilled worker — she is a ])ro(ligy, re- 
quiring but a single tool to fashion the mortar nursery. The 
tip of her abdomen is a verital)le tool chest all in one, a uni- 
versal appliance with which the work is done. True, she 
gathers and carries material with her mandibles, but the 
house itself is wrought by the last segment of her body. It 
is a modeler's gouge, with which she measures the cells, de- 
cides their contour, smooths their walls and fashions the 
entrances. Throughout the building one finds tiny, triangu- 
lar indentures, where the tool has left its impression. 

The finished nest consists of three tubes, placed one upon 
another. They are open at one end, where the entrances 
are slightly funnel-shaped like the mouth of a flower vase. 
The tubes or cells, measure thirty-four millimeters in diam- 
eter. There is variation to a slight degree, but the measure- 
ments are the average of several nests. The insect works 
energetically, completing the work in five days. One cell is 
constructed, provisioned and an egg deposited, before a sec- 
ond one is commenced. 

As soon as a cell is finished, the wasp sets out in search 
of provisions with which to assure the successful life of her 
offspring. She travels the open sunny trails or the dark 
floor of the forest. One is as good as another, provided there 
are dead leaves or fallen liranches that shelter her prey from 
less agile creatures than herself. We see her alight upon 
the oTound and search diligentlv under everv leaf and branch 



426 



lUOlMCAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




Phoiu hij P. (J. 11. 
FIG. 137. BLUE HUNTRESS AT HER NEST 
Natural size. 



that cluinces in her path. Her antennae are cnrled over, so 
that the end of each forms a perfect loop. She thrusts them 
ahead of lier and depends upon their sensitive pores to locate 
the }){<»• tawny spiders that constitute her prey. She is always 
nervously alert, her body tense and ready at an instant's 
notice to spring back out of danger. As she works, her big, 
steel blue wings quiver continually as though with excite- 
ment over the possibilities of each new leaf and shelter that 
she explores. 



jji.LK iir\'i'in:ss 427 

Her course is irregular. Here she searches for perhaps 
a minute followed by a longer investigation some fifty feet 
away. Now the hunt heads her back to the starting point 
and later to the intervening ground, which is searched min- 
utely. At other times she walks in a zigzag fashion for a 
great distance, even though unsuccessful in the end. It is a 
surprise to me that she finds her elusive and protectively col- 
ored prey at all. You wonder why? Then search among 
the leaves for the spider that serves to provision her nest. 
You will scarcely find one, even in a whole day's hunt, yet 
the huntress is a dominant insect, seldom defeated in her 
quest. 

At length the spider is found lurking beneath a ])rittle 
leaf. Her antennae telegraph the information to a tiny 
l)rain and instantly the wasp springs back as though sur- 
prised. A second later she recovers and thrusts herself into 
the spider's den. Her body bends under her so that the 
deadly sting protrudes almost beyond the head. At the first 
movement from the spider, she springs back again with quiv- 
ering wings. The manoeuvre is repeated over and over until 
her prey is at length, forced unconsciously into a convenient 
position. Then like a flash she is upon the unfortunate. Her 
sting plunges deeply into the creature's nerve center and in- 
stant paralysis results. 

The spider is not killed outright. In that case it would 
decompose and become dangerous fare for the young wasps. 
Instead, it is simply paralyzed. It will never move again to 
protest, or protect itself. Perhaps it may react automatic- 
ally with a slight quivering of the legs when touched, but 
henceforth it will yield to whatever fate has in store for it. 
The victim will awake from unconsciousness only as a part 
of another living creature, when spider substance has been 
eaten to build the body of a wasp. 

The spider is a larger creature than the wasp herself, 
yet she manages to fly laboriously to her nest, carrying her 
victim by one of its palpi, clasped between her mandibles. 




z 

o 

Q 

n 
<; 

w 

H 
O 



Ed 
X 
H 

2 

O 

z 

o 

H 

W 
O 

Cl. 



o 
a 

o 
z 

o 



Z bo 






O 

O 

oi 

G 

> 

O 

« 

oi 

M 
Q 

014 

02 



BT.T'K nrXTRKSS 429 

To gain access to her nest, slie must enter the out-house 
through a slatted window, tlie lowest part of which is three 
feet from the ground. Once she missed the opening and 
tujubled with the spider headlong to earth. She was undis- 
mayed by the fall, never once relincpiisliing her hold, hut I 
was struck by the difficulty she experienced in starting once 
more for the opening. It re([uired the combined strength 
of legs and wings to di-ag the creature up the perpendicular 
wall of the building to the slats of the window. 

Once within, the s])ider is dragged to the waiting cell, 
where it is left with head facing the entrance. A yellowish 
white ei};^, projectile sha2)e, is now deposited upon the side 
of its abdomen. Tliis accomplished the wasp returns to the 
outside of the nest. Now comes a thorough personal clean- 
up before continuing. The fore legs are drawn through her 
mouth and rubbed briskly over her head and antennae. The 
hind legs are used in cleaning the wings and abdomen and 
during the process the wasp stands almost upon her head. 
In a few minutes she is clean and ])right. Doubtless the 
scru])])ing refreshes her, as a bath puts new vigor into a tired 
man who has worked faithfully for his family and returned 
home w ith the sweat of labor still upon him. 

But her work is not over with the storing of the spider. 
She has vet to close the cell with a seal that cannot be easily 
broken. The job must be done with care, and quickly. A 
flaw% ever so tiny in the masonry may jeopardize the helpless 
inmates. Wasplets are tender morsels, fine fare for many 
a parasite. The huntress must guard the results of her la- 
bor. I watched this interesting process which required an 
hour from the time the spider was dragged into the cell. It 
was only a tiny doorway, ten millimeters in diameter, yet 
during those sixty minutes, thirty loads of clay were brought 
to the nest and packed with minute care into the entrance. 
The tiny trowel and scraper, the tamper and smoother, all 
combined in the tip of her energetic little body must have 
been worn indeed w^hen the task was finished. But there was 



430 TROPICAL WILD LTFK IN BHITISfl GUIANA 

no sign of fatigue. In fact, 1 believe she rejoieed at the 
close of a day, well spent in the interests of her race, without 
a thought for her own spent body, for such is the great spirit, 
altruistic even though unconscious, that rules the insect 
world. 

The last cell provisioned and sealed, the wasp abandons 
her nest. She deserves a rest and a feast of nectar. Hence- 
forth, nature will take charge of her offspring that she may 
spend her declining days unburdened. 

AA'^ithin the cell, the egg hatches in forty-eight hours. 
In place of the tiny albumen-filled projectile, we have a soft 
white grub. It is footless and quite unfitted for anything 
but the consumption of food. It possesses no sting like the 
parent huntress, and could not compete in battle wath the 
most primitive insect, yet it feeds, immune from danger, 
upon the spider that lies limply within the cell. Like a 
foundling, the wasp in its infant state, is reared by a foster 
parent. Like the child, it lives only upon liquids, drawing 
them from the huge bosom of its spider w-et nurse. As the 
draining goes on, the spider's body shrivels accordingly. In 
forty-eight hours the pap is exhausted, but now the grub is 
strong enough to partake of solid food. Its mandibles are 
capable of masticating what remains of the feast. In short, 
it sips the cream first and eats the porridge afterw^ards. 

After five days of continuous gorging, the larva treats 
itself to a short rest before spinning its cocoon. During the 
five days, the spider has vanished so completely from the cell 
that only a microscope reveals a few uneaten hairs. These 
adhere to the larva's tacky skin, and thus escape the stom- 
ach ward journey. I have never seen such a hog! Long af- 
ter the feast is over, when the dishes have been licked clean, 
so to speak, the glutted one continues to Fletcherize upon 
the air. 

The act reveals how hard and fast are the instinctive 
rules governing the insect's behavior. The larva hatches 
upon the s])ider's body. As soon as its mandibles become 



BLUE HUNTRESS 431 

strong- cnuugli, tlicy coiiiinciice to tear and chew autoiuatic- 
ally. A bit more or a bit less provender in the cell is of no 
conseqnence whatever. Once started, tlie jaws continne to 
work for a certain set length of time that allows for varia- 
tion in the bnlk of the stores. Thus, if the spider be a bit 
large, it will be consumed readily enough, if a bit small 
the larva will snnply continue, as 1 have said, to Fletcherize 
upon the air until the time limit set upon the active period 
of its mandibles is up. The insect is an automaton, a slave 
to a power that is not intelligence. 

As an experiment 1 introduce two spiders into a cell 
where one is the normal provender. The larva consumes 
nearly all of the feast, grows to an abnormal size, but even- 
tually dies. This woidd appear to contradict the existence 
of an invariable set of rules governing the insect's life, but 
such is not the case. I have interfered in the normal course 
of events and artificially changed those rules at the outset 
by doubling the amount of provisions in the cell. The wasp's 
life is like a chemical compound, the ingredients of which 
correspond to these rules and depend upon one another for 
the ultimate result. Thus if we alter the quantity of one 
ingredient the desired result is not obtained. 

The experiment has in no way disproved that the crea- 
ture's life progresses by hard and fast rules. On the other 
hand it confirms the statement, and further, points out that 
each rule depends upon the invariability of another for the 
ultimate success of the wasp. It also tells us that feeding 
is governed by the amount of provisions in the cell. Each 
mouthful stimulates a certain number of strokes from the 
mandibles. Thus, when the normal provender is consumed 
by the larva, it still continues to chew until the stimulus is 
gone. In the cell containing two spiders, the poor wasplet 
found no end of good things. It ate one spider. Its man- 
dibles continued toward the limit of their working hours and 
came bump into the second spider. The stimulus was re- 
newed, and its jaws commenced to work again eventually 



432 



TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




inioii, ini V. a. II. 

FIG, 139. CELL OF BLUE HUNTRESS, OPENED TO SHOW COCOON 
Enlarged two and one half times. 



dragging the unfortunate larva into death at the hands of 
indigestion. 

Thus we see tlie reason for hard and fast rules among 
insects. They are entirely dependent upon them for their 
existence. Eiven so slight a variation as my experiment pro- 
vided, proves this to my satisfaction. I varied the rules in 
one small particular with the result that the larva was led 
unconsciously to its owoi destruction. 

To go hack: the larva upon finishing its spider, rests for 
a short period before commencing its cocoon. This rest may 
be necessary because there is nothing else to be done until 
the spinning fluid of which the cocoon is to be made, com- 
mences to How. Once started, a network of strands is thrown 
across the cell. They pass for the most part under the spin- 
ner so that the grub rests upon a net, stretched midway be- 



BLUE HrXTFU-.SS 4:j-} 

tweeu the toj) and bottom of tlif clianibtT. J.atci-, upon this 
preh'iiiinarv support, a neat tubuhir cocoon is spun. It is 
rounded at both ends, grayish yellow in color, glossy and 
rather transparent. It measures eight by seventeen milli- 
meters, and only ])artly fills the roomy cell. As a final touch 
the interior is lightly coated with a pale, smooth varnish. 
The cocoon is finished in two days, after which the larva ex- 
cretes a mass of waste matter in one end. This accomplished, 
it lies quietly awaiting pupation, which follows in eight days. 

The pupa is ycllowisli white and beautifully folded so 
tliat its remarkably long posterior legs do not extend beyond 
the tip of its abdomen. Its head is armed with four spikes; 
u2)on either side of four of the six abdominal segments there 
is a "jack," or protruding T-shaj^ed support, and protruding 
from opposite sides of the lateral segment is a pair of club- 
shaped appendages. (Fig. 140.) 

At first I took these strange objects to be the remains 
of ancestral legs. I thought them inherited rather than ac- 
quired characters, but continued observation of the pupa 
within its cocoon proved the contrary. They have been ac- 
quired in order that the insect's heavy abdomen may be 
kept level or centered within the cocoon, no matter how it 
is shaken about or turns of its own accord. This is very im- 
portant to the insect. It is not that the pupa would be in- 
jured by contact with the cocoon wall, but rather that the 
weight of its own abdomen which is joined to the remainder 
of its body bv a very narrow waist, would have to be borne 
by the creature's tender legs. In such a case they would 
become partly crushed and, owing to their great delicacy at 
this period, would not develop properly. When the legs 
become strong and have received their steel-blue pigment, 
all the supporting appendages shrivel and are completely 
lost. This takes place three days before the huntress emerges 
from her cocoon. The supports are inflated with a watery 
fluid which disappears as soon as a breach occurs in the pupal 
skin. One may be cut off without seriously injuring the 




I'hoto III/ /'. (1. 11. 
FIG. 140. PUP.^ OF BLUE HUNTRESS SHOWING FOLDED LEGS AND ABDOMINAL 
BUTTRESSES WHICH PREVENT INJURY AGAINST THE SIDES OF THE COCOON. 

Five and one half times enlarged. 



lU.rr, HUNTRESS 485 

wasp, hill tlie removal of all, causes deforiiicd legs owing- to 
the abdoineii sagging upon them. 

Kmergence from the cell as a ])erf'ect insect takes place 
twenty-one days al'tei- pu])ation. 11' the parent wasp lived 
she might witness the home building ol' her children thirty- 
eight days after she deposited them as eggs in cells of her 
own workmanship. 



CIIiVPTKU XXXll 



PARALYZED PROVENDER 



111 tlie black cluuiihers oi' a solitary wasp's nest lie six 
growing youngsters. Tliey are greyish, maggot-like crea- 
tures, each consisting of twelve rings or segments surmount- 
ed by a more or less bony or chitinous head that in turn sup- 
ports a pair of sharp incurved mandibles. Their bodies are 
plump and pudgy; they possess no adequate appendages for 
locomotion and in the light their skins glisten, as if moistened 
^vith liquid. 

Efach will eventually become a wasp, an active domin- 
ant creature with a delicate taste for nectar. But that is far 
off in the insect future, perhaps some forty days hence. 
Thev are concerned now only with the meals that are set 
before them, spiders that the parent wasp has selected as 
dainty provender. 

In each cell of the nest the mother insect deposits her 
bowed egg among the mass of spiders that are paralyzed by 
her sting. She hunts them abroad in the forest or among the 
fallen leaves in the sunny trails, discovers their hiding place 
and swoops hawk-like upon the unfortunates. There is a 
struggle ]jerhaps, a short one, the wasp's sting soon finds 
its mark, plunges home, and in an instant the spider lies 
limply upon its threshold. The victim is not dead, instead 
it is only plunged into a state of paralysis that instantly 
binds the muscles fast. It cannot move again in self defence, 
cannot command the power of its legs. It is still a living 
thing unconscious of life. Thus, slightly quivering from the 
shock and poison, it is borne to the victor's nest, deposited 
roughly in a cell with several other e(pially unfortunate 
ones, sealed forever from the light of day and abandoned 
as helpless living flesh for the young wasp to gorge upon. 



PARALYZE]) IMIOVENDER 437 

In order to understand what has just taken place, let 
us examine the victim's anatomy and structure. In outward 
form spiders are diA'idcd into two distinct parts — the cephal- 
othorax and the ahdomen. We are concerned chiefly with 
the former, which is the first division of the creature, the 
head and thorax, as it were, combined in one. The central 
nervous system of the si)i(ler is, for the most part, concen- 
trated in a mass of ^an^lions, clustered about the oesophagus. 
The oesophagus is a tube throuoh which food passes from the 
mouth to the stomach. It lies in the central portion of the 
cephalothorax. That part of the central system lying above 
is the brain, from which the optic nerves and those of the 
biting and poisoning appendages arise. Lying below the 
oesophagus is the ganglion from which the nerves of the legs 
and palpi emerge. 

Now, sti'ange as it may seem, the wasp knows the above 
paragraph by heart. She was an anatomist long before man. 
She understood spiders long before man understood himself. 
Her teacher was instinct, an immortal master. Thus in sting- 
ing her spider she is like the master surgeon. With a single 
tiny wound above, with a single lance below, she accomplish- 
es the desired end. Into the spider's nervous center instinct 
guides the wasp's poisoned dart. With precise strokes she 
reaches the ganglions of her victim and spills her venom. 
Henceforth no external outrage, however great, may be 
transmitted to the brain; no volition in return will command 
the forces of protest and defence. Like a party on a broken 
wire, the spider lies helpless with tlie central office paralyzed ! 

In preparing pi'ovender for the cells, the methods em- 
ployed by the majority of solitary wasps are more or less the 
same. Yet the sting-poisons of different species produce 
tw^o widely different effects on the victims. Both are doubt- 
less forms of the same affliction; one, the commonest type, 
acts instantly as I have just described. It causes complete 
paralysis tliroughout the muscles that control walking, ])it- 
ing, excretion and all exterior movements of the cephalo- 



488 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

thorax, abdomen and its appendages. The respiratory sys- 
tem appears to be all that is left uninjured. 

The second I'orni, which is much more rarely met with, 
is a gradual type, commencing with the deadening effect of 
heavy sleep, finally giving place to paralysis, some time after 
the victim is stricken by the sting. Let us observe the two 
cases in question. As an example of the first we have a 
medium-sized spider that has been stung by the white-footed 
wasp. Of course different kinds of spiders are selected by 
different species of wasps. But this is of no consequence, 
and will not affect the essential facts of our observation. If 
the creature is a spider it matters not in the least whether it 
be Ga.stcracantha, Filisfafa, Micrathena or any other jaw- 
splitting species. Spiders are the common prey of many 
solitary wasps, a fact which is sufficient. 

The victim lies limply upon its belly in the cell. En- 
closed in a tomb of solid masonry, it is abandoned by the 
mother wasp to its fate. Upon its flank rests the glistening 
eg^ of the slayer. Thus the unconscious living incubator 
awaits the pleasure of the maggot. Its legs are limp and 
motionless, its palpi equalty still. To all intents and pur- 
poses the dejected object is dead, but there is still a flutter 
of life in the outraged body. An occasional shudder, barely 
discernable under the lens, a labored rise and fall of the ab- 
dominal walls evidences the tiny spark still unquenched. 

In two days the young wasp emerges from the Gg,g-, 
glues its mouth to the plump spider and commences to draw 
the victim, drop by drop, into its own body. In twenty-four 
hours a shriveling sets in. Ijike a punctured balloon in the 
sky, the spider shrinks before the maggot's onslaught. Later, 
in order to taste sweeter fare, the ravenous object plunges 
its head within the breach. It drinks, munches and revels in 
the s])ider's anatomy; eats from the inside to the out, chews 
up the ])()ny walls, continues through the cephalothorax and 
fijially consumes the legs. Then finding no more it pauses. 
After five days of orgy it is time to digest. Thus the spider 



PAHAI.VZKl) l'IU)\"KNI)KR 4:i<) 

is eaten alive, l)iit I'roiii the tirst there is never a sign of pro- 
test, never a twinge of pain. 

As an experiment, I secured several other spiders para- 
lyzed by the same Masp wliose griih I have desei'ihed at its 
meal, and suhjeeted thciii to various tests. One 1 denude 
of its legs, elip])ing them off at different lengths, thereby 
cuttijig through eight ditfei-ent nei'ves. From the second I 
clip the palpi, severing the nerves, and into the abdomen 
of the third I thrust a slender needle. Throughout these 
gross indignities the spiders lie quite motionless. There is no 
contracting of leg stumps, no di'awing in of injured ])alpi, 
no quiver of punctured body. There is no response, no feel- 
ing in the creatures. 

Such is the first condition of paralysis. We find it in a 
host of victims. The white-footed wasp, the bhie huntress, 
the black reed-wasps and many others go in quest of the 
spider, another wasp takes frog-hoppers, still another, lo- 
custs, and there are many others that I will not mention. 
They are a merciful crowd. Tender the respective jaws of 
their grubs, the victims lie completely paralyzed, relieved 
from the tortures of gradual execution. 

The second form of paralysis is, as I have stated, much 
more rarely met with. At the present time I know of only 
two wasps that afflict their prey in this manner, but they will 
do very well as examples. One is the roach-killer (Chapter 
XXVI), which stores her earthen cells with wood-roaches, 
the other, a tiny wasp that supplies her maggots with a 
cricket each. Her nest is a hollow reed lying upon the 
ground, the end of which she plugs with a great quantity of 
wood — little chunks of charcoal from the can burnings, bits 
of reeds, tiny twigs and woodchips barricade her door^^''ay. 
Therefore, for convenience sake, I will call her the lumberess. 

The modes of life of the two insects are in most respects 
widely at variance. They build individual types of nests, 
provision them differently, choose different situations for the 
home site and go about their respective businesses in separate 



440 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITLSII GUIANA 

ways. It is ini])()rtant. however, that the two have a single 
habit in common. The roach victims of one and the cricket 
prey of tlie other are affected in the same manner by the 
stings of the two insects. 

1 have before me two crickets of the himberess and a 
dozen roaches of the roach-killer. These I collected from 
the sealed nests of the insects. Therefore, to the best of my 
knowledge tliey have been stung by the two wasps. I find 
in the victims a ])}iysical condition entirely different from 
that existing in the spiders paralyzed by the white-footed 
wasp. So differently are they affected that I do not consider 
them paralyzed at all. 

The roaches are capable of moving every pair of legs, 
they can turn the head from side to side, also move all the 
moutli parts and their antennae. But strange to say they 
he motionless unless I toucli them witli a needle or the tip 
of my pencil. I place one of the roaches upon its feet. It 
lies absolutely still as though dead until I touch one of the 
protruding a])pendages at the posterior end of its body. As 
I do so it jumps foreward without much effort, in the act 
using each pair of legs. Now it waves its antennae back 
and forth for a few seconds, wriggles its mouth and settles 
back into its torpor. With the crickets I try a similar ex- 
periment witli tlie same result. INIuch the same thing appears 
to take place in these victims as one observes in a sleeping 
dog, whose foot has been tickled with a straw. It is quite 
peaceful and unconscious, yet its nerves and muscles respond 
automatically to rid the animal of its annoyer. 

Certainly then, the insects are not paralyzed at this time, 
any more than a sleeping dog, for paralysis means the loss of 
power to contract tlie muscles, an accomplishment of whicli 
both tlie roaches and the crickets are still capable. 

Twenty-four hoin-s later I experimented again upon my 
subjects M-ith a result similar to that of the previous day. 
I let anothei- twenty-four hours pass. This time, at the touch 
of my pencil point, the insect responded with a jump far less 



PARAI.YZKD PROVKXDER 44,1 

energetic than before. Every liour now l)rings a weaker re- 
action ; at length there is httle or no response to my efforts. 

The sting of the roach-killer and that of the lumberess 
thrust their victims into painless sleep. The poison's action 
is not unlike alcohol. i\t first a powerful sleeping potion 
followed by a gradual, ever-increasing tying of the muscles, 
until they cease to move at all. Such is the second condition 
of paralyzed provender. 

Let us now endeavor to discover the causes leading to 
these two distinct types of paralysis as we have observed them 
in the prey of solitary M^asps. PTaving already glanced at 
the spider's anatomy, it will be well for the sake of compari- 
son, to look into the anatomy of the roach. In the first ])lace 
the two belong to different phyla; one is an arachnid, the 
other an insect. Therefore they will differ physically. 

In the spider we find the ganglions clustered about the 
oesophagus, concentrated into one particular section of the 
body and easily accessible. In the roach they are spread, 
more or less, throughout the insect. There is a brain, three 
pairs of ganglions in the thorax, followed by six pairs in the 
abdomen, a problem indeed for the wasp who would paralyze 
such a complicated creature. 

I have not been fortunate in observing either the roach- 
killer or the lumberess in the act of stinging their prey, but 
here is what I believe to be the case in view of the facts. To 
reach the isolated nerve centers at the outset, to bring instant 
and complete paralysis to her victim, the wasp would find it 
necessary to drive her sting into as many different places as 
there are ganglions. Judging from the condition of the prey 
it is a feat quite beyond either the roach-killer or the lum- 
beress. Therefore they must depend u])on one or two thrusts 
to stun the insects. As the sting plunges home it ejects a 
tiny drop of poison which gradually spreads throughout the 
victim's body, bringing on, in due time, the gradual paralysis 
that we have observed. 



442 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

Gradual paralysis would appear to be dangerous to 
young wasi)s. They are very tender creatures. A cricket 
or roach thrashing about within the cell would soon cause 
fatal bruises, but nature has looked out for them nicely. If 
undisturbed, the roach and cricket lie quietly enough. Upon 
their lower surfaces lie the wasp's white eggs, but they are 
motionless. In forty-eight hours the wasplets emerge, tiny 
creatures, three millimeters in length, whose baby mouths 
do not disturb the sleepers. In another day they begin to 
really chew their hosts, but by this time paralysis has set in. 

There is no significance in the two types of paralysis. 
They are present in the spider and the roach, simply because 
of the physiological difference existing between the two. 
Thus the grub of the roach-killer and the lumberess and those 
of the spider hunters live much the same. One is as safe in 
its respective cell as another, so there we shall leave them. 



CHAPTER XXXIII 



COXTKOI.I.KD PUPATION 



There is a tree in the Guiana forest vvhieh, I'or laek of a 
better name, I call the vermillion-nut. This tree ranks high 
in the scale of ^^iants. It towers above one, reaching more 
than a hundred feet above the foi-est floor where it throws 
out its rather flattened boughs that bear a thick mass of foli- 
age, and in April, a vermillion fruit. This fruit is lime 
shaped, two inches in length by one and a quarter inches wide 
and consists of a moderately tough, pubescent vermillion 
shell, guarding the soft, greenish inner pulp that surrounds 
the true nut. The pnlp is soft and quite sweet, but incipient 
and the nut is as hard as a fresh almond and slightly over 
twice as large. Even to botanists its name is unknown. 

Troups of howling monkeys make daily visits to these 
trees, gorging themselves for hours on the juicy pulp and 
throwing the shells, bearing their teeth marks, to the ground 
below. One must cither lie upon the back or suffer a cramped 
neck to observe them feeding in the top-most branches. Even 
then they are often screened from one's sight by the masses 
of heavy foliage tliat characterize the vermillion-nut. 

Other animals find the food to their liking also. Agouti, 
smaller species of monkeys, and a host of wild bees feed daily 
beneath the everlasting twilight of these branches. One 
might spend a year studying the creatures that feed u])on 
the fruit which is often scattered abundantly among the rot- 
ting vegetation on the ground for a hundred feet in every 
direction. 

In the latter part of April, I came upon a band of howl- 
ers feasting in one of these trees. Thev were easilv one hun- 
dred and twenty-five feet from the gi-ound, yet, quite uncon- 
scious of the dizzv height, thev reached here and there for 



444 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

the fruit, seldom clinging to the hranches with other than 
the hind legs. They ate with great relish and greed, pluck- 
ing far more than they could ])ossihly eat. Consequently 
many nuts were dropped (juite untouched, and wasted. Cur- 
ious as to the quality of the fruit, I picked one up and split 
it apart. To my surpi-ise it contained eleven light yellow 
maggots, that writhed ahout actively and tried to escape 
from their late prison. They had eaten the soft pulp entirely 
away, leaving only a mass of brown excretia and the inner 
nut, which was free and rattled about when I replaced the 
shell which had been cut away. Thus by chance I discovered 
the subject of this chapter in its strange cradle among the 
tree-tops, where it has doubtless fed in its larval state since 
the first vermillion-nut blossomed in the branches of its 
parent. This is a new species of fly belonging to the family, 
Trcpetidac and the genus Spilographa. 

When and how the mature insect deposits her eggs with- 
in the nut is beyond me. It would be necessarj' to live in the 
loftiest branches to ascertain such a fact. One glance at a 
vermillion-nut tree would stand as evidence of its infeasibil- 
ity. One thing we do know ; the insect is a fly, as shown by 
the larva, a typical fly maggot, with eleven segments count- 
ing the head. It tapers from a well rounded segment at the 
posterior end, almost to a point at the head, which is sup- 
plied with two hooks turned downwards like the claws of a 
cat. It is transparent yellowish white and through its entire 
body one may trace a pair of respiratory tubes with one set 
of openings in the head and the other in the last segment of 
the body. These orifices, two in front, two behind, stamp 
the creature as a young or larval fly. 

The eggs are probably deposited when the fruit is still 
soft and immature or pei-haps the scent of the tree's blos- 
soms beckon to the insect. 1 can but surmise. Later the 
eggs give ])lace to tiny wiggling larvae whose movements 
depend upon contractions of their nuiscles, for they are de- 



, CONTROI.T.KD PrPATION U.5 

void ut" I'cet. 'I'hcy feast like ^lultoiis upon the iiiiscent ilesli 
of the ripening fruit until it eonies time to pupate. 

From what we know of many otlier flies, we have seen 
that it is natural for tlieni to ])U])ate within the ground, or 
at least in a position from whieli they may work their way 
to the light of day when nature has transformed theui into 
perfect insects. The larval flesh fly burrows below her car- 
rion to transform in the damp soil beneath, the house fly in 
its bed of manure flnds escape an easy matter, the mosquito 
transforms in the water, but what of our flies born within a 
tough-shelled nut, in the highest forest branches? How are 
they to release themselves from such a prison after the feast 
is over? As we have seen, they reach the ground by falling, 
when the nut is plucked by some roaming monkey or as it 
falls anyway when ripe, carrying its living burden earth- 
ward. But that is not answering the question. The larvae 
nmst burrow into the forest soil to transform and issue suc- 
cessfully as a perfect insect. How then is this feat accom- 
plished? 

The nut which I cut open contained eleven larvae. 
They appear to be full grown and ready to pupate, at any 
rate there is no more pulp left for them, and if they are hnn- 
gT}^ they must eat again that which has already been digested 
once. No, they simply wriggle about frantically, as though 
searching for an opening, and swarm to the hole I have cut. 

I remove two of them to tubes of soil slightly dampened. 
The remainder are locked once more in their prison. In the 
tubes conditions are, as near as I can make them, like those 
of the forest floor. The larvae move here and there from 
fright in their new environment for a minute or two, but 
presently one thrusts its pointed head into the soil and com- 
mences to burrow. Soon it is followed by the other larvae 
in their respective tubes. In twenty minutes all have disap- 
peared below the surface. 

Two days later I remove the material from the tubes in 
search of the larvae. They have burrowed slightly over half 



44() 



'I'ROPICAI. WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 




I'hoto III/ I'. C. II. 

F^IG. 141. VERMILLION -NUT OPENED TO SHOW IMPRISONED 

LARVAE OF VERMILLION -NUT FLY. 

Enlarged twice natural size. 



an inch below the sin-face and all have transformed into little 
yellow kegs with ten red hoops running around them. Under 
the lens these hoops appear to be tiny bands of stitches like 
those in the cover of a baseball. In these pupae we have con- 
vincing evidence that our flv naturallv transforms below the 
ground, especially so in view of the fact that the larvae left 
within the nut are still strictly larvae in every sense of the 
word. 

I remove two more of the imprisoned ones from the nut 
to freshly prepared tubes of earth. Two days later I have 



CONTROLI^ED PUPATION 447 

the same result Iroin my experiment. Those within the tubes 
have transformed to pupae, })ut those imprisoned in the ver- 
million-nut still writhe in the larval form. I keep the prison- 
ers in their eell from .Vpril 20 until the twelfth of May. 
Still there is no change from the larval form, yet any day 
I may remove one to a tube of earth and forty-eight hours 
later recover it as a pupa! It is a strange condition indeed, 
but I think I see its significance. 

When I open the fruit on the tenth of ^lay, I note that 
the true nut within has sprouted ever so slightly. Each day 
the cotyledons of the new tree are swelling within the shell 
that holds them, pushing upwards in response to the light 
which beckons. Were the nut lying naturally upon the moist 
floor of the forest, the young tree's progress would be even 
faster. As lengtli the pressure becomes too great for the 
nut's outer shell to bear. It yields to the vortex of a new life, 
splits open and at the same time the imprisoned larvae find 
the long-waited-for exit to the friendly mould of the forest. 

Here is a condition among insects previously unknown 
to me. It is a remarkable adaption to the condition of the 
creature's strange habitat, that has brought about a deviation 
from the rule. In short, the j^oung flies may hasten or post- 
pone pupation at will! I would have hesitated to set forth 
such a statement, even as a remote possibility, were it not 
for my experiments that cannot be denied. One learns to 
expect the unexpected in nature, but who w^ould go so far 
as to accuse her of runnino- even so tinv a creature as this 
nascent fly, without a schedule? She is forced to surrender 
here to conditions self-imposed. If her children within the 
vermillion-nut lie imprisoned without food for a fortnie^ht 
or more, it matters not. When release comes they are none 
the w^orse for their experience. If they are spilled roughly 
on the ground from a freshly broken nut a month before 
their brothers, so much the better. They have no set time for 
pupation. They will become flies just the same! Thus 
Nature has endowed them with ability to meet successfully, 



448 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

the straTi<4e circumstances in which she herself has placed 
them. 

Let us see what has hap])ened to the larva that has bur- 
rowed beneath the surface of the ground. Why must such 
an active creature entomb itself again upon being liberated 
from its original prison? 

Unlike ourselves or animals and birds, insects pass 
through a series of stages, one might say, almost by jumps. 
At first we have an egg, quite helpless, but deposited with 
due care and forethought by its provident bearer. In a day 
or so, this helpless egg has become a ten-ringed maggot with 
a head, appendages for drawing in its food and possessed of 
a primitive but efficient set of organs. It is not an actual 
hatching as we see it in a hen's egg that has brought this 
strange creature into the world, but a fading of egg into 
maggot. There is no empty shell when the process is finished, 
no spectre of the creature's former self. The process is like 
that of a moving picture which fades before one's eyes from 
one scene to the next which is widely different. 

In its newly acquired form, the insect feeds as we have 
seen upon the vermillion-nut pulp, remaining unchanged 
except in size, until fate releases it upon the moist forest 
floor, when with a haste that is almost frantic it immediately 
imjjrisons itself once more, this time in the ground wherever 
it chances to find itself. Forty-eight hours later we discover 
it as a tiny yellow keg banded with red stitches, as though it 
had buried itself for good in a self-fashioned coffin. 

Has the insect become so accustomed to the blackness 
of prison life that it cannot live in a world of sunlight? Must 
it live the life of a mole because it has only once seen the 
brightness of day? No, there is a far deeper reason than 
these that send it so hastily into the ground. It is about to 
undergo its last and greatest transformation, one during 
which it will be once more utterly helpless against the slight- 
est odds. It must lie very still as though in death, lest the 



CONTHOI.r.l'.n ITPATIOX 449 

beautiful process within be interrupted and the design 
shattered. 

Up to now, the insect lias resembled its ancestral fam- 
ily, less higlily developed worm-like creatures of another day. 
Just as we have develo])ed from less perfect creatures, so 
has the fly. Within the little yellow keg a wonderful change 
is in process. 

At first the maggot, so recently an active definite crea- 
ture, is seized upon by a host of nature's strangest forces. 
We cannot see them or give them any definite form. Never- 
theless they are there, like a great group of wreckers, carpen- 
ters, masons, [)ainters and decorators. The larva or maggot, 
the ancestral form, is torn down and reduced to a disinte- 
grated mass of fluid. From this utter wreck of what was 
so lately a crawling, organized creature, the final insect is 
resurrected. From old tissues, new ones spring, from what 
was old and out of date, a more modern creature is erected. 
The yellow keg is no longer a coffin, but a factory where a 
host of raw materials are to be transformed into the finished 
product ! 

The process is comparable to tearing down an old fash- 
ioned house and erecting a modern one on the old founda- 
tions. JNIuch of the old material is used and that which must 
be replaced by new is burned or otherwise disposed of. So 
it is M'ith the tissues of the maggot. From the old house we 
save the plumbing, the wiring and the kitchen range, which 
corresponds in the maggot to the reproductive glands, the 
nervous system and the heart, which are left intact, or at 
most altered and attended to. 

At length it becomes time for the painters and decor- 
tors. Nature employs a vast army of these. In the keg, 
after ten days, the milky white and partly transparent, but 
otherwise perfect insect commences to receive its color. It 
appears first in the eyes with an influx of emerald green pig- 
ment studded with golden, microscopical dots, which are fol- 
lowed in forty-eight hours by the appearance of black pat- 



450 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITLSH GUIANA 

terns upon the legs and wings, due to more or less dense 
hair u^^on these appendages into which the color gradually 
flows. Upon the back of the head there is a pattern of hairs 
and another of longer ones upon the thorax, while the abdo- 
men likewise suddenly appears clouded with pubescence. 
Further than this no ground color or markings can be seen, 
owing to the color being much like the shell of the keg itself. 

In another forty-eight hours, fourteen days after pupa- 
tion, the fly emerges by splitting the head of the pupal keg 
in two equal parts. This is a simple operation as the shell 
is not too substantial, but the new-born fly has yet another 
task before it will be free. It has yet to dig a passage from 
its tomb to the light of day. It must be done quickly, lest 
the wings fill and dry too small and their usefulness be lost. 

For this purpose the insect is supplied with a battering- 
ram, which protrudes between the eyes at birth from the pu- 
pal case. It is a transparent sack-like appendage which may 
be expanded or contracted at will by the fly. It contains no 
apparatus of any kind, but is apparently the forehead of the 
insect capable of expansion. To watch the operation of this 
strange appendage is remarkable. First it swells like a toy 
balloon when air is blown into it, until it protrudes two or 
more millimeters in front of the insect's head, pushing the 
sand or earth in front of it as it increases. This is followed 
by a rapid deflation of the ram whicli leaves an indentation 
into which the fly struggles with great effort. Now the first 
operation is repeated ; the second indentation made and again 
the insect wedges itself into it. Thus, after an hour, if the 
fly is fortunate, it reaches the surface of the ground, where 
it rests for a time to recover its strength, before launching 
into a new and sunlit world once more to search out the 
vemiillion-nut, this time as a nursery for its own offspring. 



PART IV 
SUPPLEMENTARY CHAPTERS 




> 



2 

•z 

::> 
z 

I 

o 
< 

« 

& 
a 

H 

c 
z 
o 

o 
z 

z 



a 

«3 

H 

o 

Q 
Z 

<J 

J 
« 
H 

z 









ClIAPTKK XXX J V^ 

NOTES I'KOM THl': HINTERLAND OF GUIANA 

Ihl the Rev. Walter G. White, F. R. G. S., B. K. X. A/ 

In respondino- to yiv. William Eeebe's invitation to con- 
tribute a chapter to the book he intends to publish, my ob- 
ject is, sim})ly to stimulate interest in a little-known corner 
of the Colony. It is hoped that, hereby, someone may be led 
to pitch his tent and to study wild life there, before existing 
species of the fauna and Hora follow in the wake of the many 
Indian customs, and become as extinct as the dodo. 

Just prior to our recall from this inaccessible district, 
there was jniblished, in England, in a leaflet of the British 
Empire X^aturalists' Association, an offer of mine, to give 
a naturalist a free passage up in the missionary's boat, free 
quarters, food, the use of a small tent-boat with sleeping ac- 
conmiodation. the loan of horses, guides, interpreters, and 
a free passage down, after some months of research. In 
return, the visitor was expected to impart some of the infor- 
mation collected, and to afford my wife and myself help in 
acquiring a sensible knowledge of the natural history of our 
environment. The mention of this abortive attempt may, 
perhaps, inspire others to find similar ways of furthering 
scientific research, which is so greatly hampered by the cost 
of special outfits and transport to distant places. 

I am flattered by the invitation to contribute notes to 
such a book as this, as I lay no claim to scientific training. 
Years ago I knew every bird to be found in N^orth Oxon, 
b}^ its flight, song, nest, (if it bred there) and eggs — all, or 
any. In this Colony very few of the names, popular or sci- 
entific, of species are known to me. I know the musical 

^ B. E. X. A. — British Empire Naturalists' Association. 



454 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

Indian names (many of which are onomatapoetic) of the 
various creatures. ISIr. James Rodway has done his best, 
upon insufficient particulars, to furnish me with scientific 
names and those popular names which I had not discovered. 
To give only Makuchi names w^ould serve little purpose : so 
it is necessary to afford some sort of guide to readers by 
means of the scientific names. 

One of my first duties was to learn the ^lakuchi lan- 
guage, and to make translations. Natural history records 
were, until latterly, of a rough and ready kind. It was found 
that a knowledge of the language enabled me to tap a mine 
of information, as the Indians, collectively, though not indi- 
viduallv, know the outer life history of most forms of wild 
life in their country. An Indian interpreter cannot get this 
information, as he has no personal knowledge of the subject 
as handled by scientists. A European, with some personal 
knowledge of natural history, can do better when he has a 
working knowledge of the language. 

General nature of the conntry: The district under men- 
tion lies between Latitudes 3 and 4.20 N., and is enclosed 
by Longitudes 58 and 60 W. In the North are the Maka- 
rapan and the fringes of the Pakaraimas. The South is 
walled by the Kanukus. The Essequibo forms a natural 
boundary, on the East; the Takutu and the Ireng, on the 
West. The district is drained by the Rapo-nunni, with its 
tributaries the Katoka, the Thewarikuru, the Binoni, and the 
Rewa, with the Kwatata and the Kwitaro, which are afflu- 
ents of the second and the fourth named. The ^lokamoka 
and the JNIanari are tributaries of the Takutu; while the 
Piara flows from the fabulous Lake Amuku into the Ireng, 
receiving its affluent, the Napi, entering from the South. 
Numerous other creeks need not be named. Most of them 
have no continuity during the dry season, at that period, 
but a series of disconnected ponds and sw^amps. The trav- 
eler should be provided with water ere setting out across the 
savannahs, especially in the dry season, for it is possi])le to 



HINTERLAND NOTES 455 

walk fifteen, or even twenty miles, in certain directions, with- 
out finding" anvthin"" drinkable. 

Taking the region between the Pakarainias and the 
Kanukus, the Ra])o-niinni and the Takutu, one may describe 
it as, ])rineipally, savannah. Tliere are levels, some of them 
bare, at the foot of the Pakarainias, and other levels, mostly 
dotted with stunted growths, at the foot of the Kanukus. 
The intervening country is rising ground, extending from 
the Takutu to the l{a})o-nunni, the higlier jjarts being to- 
wards the latter river. These low hills are dotted with stunt- 
ed trees, and carry a coarse grass, which grows in tufts. 
There are intervening hollows with swamps, or swampy 
ground, according to the season. These damp patches are, 
usually, outlined with kwai, or ita pahns. Here and there are 
nuhahs blocked with thick growths and trees. Lake Amuku 
does not exist. There is a small pond din-ing the dry sea- 
son, and the levels about it are flooded during the rains, 
giving the appearance of a large lake. Examination shows 
trees growing through the water, in the middle of the "lake." 
An important pond, in respect of size, is Mare-kupu (Mare 
— gravel; kupu — pond), secreted in the Mare-pupu bush. 
Tawrong Thamu Pethaku Kupu is a pond surrounded by 
swampy land, thus presenting a considerable expanse of wa- 
ter. Other ponds of interest are the Parishara, the Steamed 
and Warabai. Throughout the course of the river are many 
backwaters, some of which ap])ear to be old ponds which 
were tapped by the stream, on its way. The Indians call 
them all kupu. They are splendid hunting-grounds for fish. 
The smaller ones are dammed, or staked, to prevent the es- 
cape of fish, and are poisoned, by beating out the roots of the 
atha, along the brink and from w^oodskins paddled criss- 
cross over the surface. The stupefied fish show white and 
rise to the top, where the larger ones are shot with bow and 
arrow, and the smaller ones are picked up b}^ hand. If left 
for a time, or if placed in fresh water, the fish recover. Tak- 
ing his hammock and slinging in the open, at night, a natur- 



456 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN IJHITISH GUIANA 

alist will find much profit in accompanying a fish-poisoning 
expedition, in the form of a two-days' picnic. The savannah 
region descrihed above is broken up l)y some extensive woods, 
or bush. The important ones are: The JNIaru-kupu bush, 
extending from the Rajjo-nunni, at Karenampu, several 
miles westward, enclosing the pond, on its way; tlie Binoni 
bush, to tlie north of the famed Kwaimata village; the 
INIarakanata bush, about fifteen miles to the west of the 
Pokaru, and the Kwatata bush, which screens the creek of 
that name and a portion of the Warikuru. 

Examining the region of the Rapo-nunni, extending 
across the Rewa to the Essequibo: There is savannah land, 
broken by narrow lines of low bush, along the left bank of 
the river, from ]\Iasar Landing to just past Anai Landing. 
Thence to the Essequibo is big forest. On the right bank 
of the river, from Katoka creek to Simuni creek, is savannah, 
with ponds, swamps and tangles here and there. Aback 
from the Simuni to the Rewa is big forest. At the bend, 
opposite Massara I^anding, is more savannah. East of this 
savannah, passing the mouth of the Rewa, to the P^ssequibo, 
is more big forest, broken up with glades, in which the grass 
grows rankly. The whole of this stretch, save for a few 
isolated Indian houses, near the mouth of the Rapo-nunni, 
and the depots, at the mouth, is uninhabited. For conven- 
ience of reference we may speak of the Rewa forest, the 
Bend savannah, the Simuni bush, the Katoka savannah, and 
the Uruata forest. The last begins at the Katoka creek and 
extends to the Kanakus, on both sides of the Rapo-nunni. 

From the site of the old Kwatata village, along the de- 
pression which makes a bed for the creek, extending west- 
wards beyond jNIarakanata village is a wonderful grove of 
kwai palms. At the southern foot of the hill upon which 
Marakanata stands, the grove expands and encloses a pond. 
The thousands upon thousands of palm trees make a mag- 
nificent ]:)icturc. There is another long belt of kwai palms, 
running almost parallel with the Tukutu, near to this river. 



IirXTKHI.AXn NOTES 457 

Mv ineteoroloii'ical records, carefully maiiituined at the 
Mission for over two years, give the following results, which 
may, with advantage, he noted hv anyone inten(linf»' to settle 
in the district for any length of time to study wild life. 
r.)14 Total rainfall, 20 inches, 2.5 parts 
191.) " 60 " 62 " 

In the former year rain fell upon 101 days, and in the 
latter year, upon 17(5 days. 

Temperature hetween 6 and 7 A. iNI. varied from 68 
to 7.J degrees Fahr., during 11)1 4, the lowest heing recorded 
during the period January-^SIarch. 

Temperature hetween 6 and 7 A. M. varied from 69 
to 7.5 degrees Fahr., during 191.3, the lowest heing reached 
in Fehruarv only. 

]\Iinimum temperature, taken with instrument supplied 
hy Government, was 62 degrees Fahr. in January, and 58 
degrees Fahr. in Decemher, 191.5, only. I found traveling 
during the latter part of 191.5, required taking a ihick hlank- 
et. The cold, in the early hours of the morning, frequently 
awoke me. 

The maximum shade temperature, hetween the hours 
of 1 and 2 P. M., was 94 degrees Fahr.. in 1914. (October.) 

The maximum during the same hours, was 103 Fahr., in 
191o. (August.) 

True maximum, shade, day-time, reached 10.5 Fahr., in 
August, 1915, upon one occasion only. 

I found, by experience, that true maximum for any day 
was, usually, recorded after 2 P. ]M. 

The coolest months of the year were shown to be De- 
cember, January, Februai-y, and the early part of March. 
There were some close days, during the December and Janu- 
ary rains, which caused little, or no flooding, and no incon- 
venience to traveling by land. After the heavy rains of 
Mav-Jidv, the days are close and clammy, until the strong 
winds set in, from about the middle of October. Strong- 
winds occur before, intermittently. 



458 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

During the heavy rains, serious flooding of the district 
occurs, in normal years. In spite of the myriads of mosqui- 
toes and kabouri iiies, which come as one of the Plagues of 
Egypt, the naturalist should not flee the country, for he will 
see things, now, which hide away during the drier months. 
Jag-uars and other animals and snakes are driven from the 
nullahs and low lands, and may be seen, caught, or shot, as 
they wandei', homeless, about the higher ground. Fish are 
migrating upstream, and are scattering through the creeks 
and ponds and even with the floods, to mate and to spawn. 
And insects come forth in cosmopolitan crowds, especially 
when lights are shown, at night. 

'J'he elevation of tlie district is surprisingly low if the 
traveler considers the number of falls and rapids he has left 
behind, on his way up the rivei's. Somewhat to the west of 
jSIasara Landing is ^It. Egerton, named after His Excel- 
lency, Sir Walter Egerton, who visited the Hinterland and 
ascended this hill, in 1913. Its elevation is given as being 
2,050 feet. This is the highest point at the southern end of 
the Pakaraimas. Mr. C. W. Anderson gives the average 
elevation of the savannahs as 300 feet. This cannot be ap- 
plied to any parts save the depressions. Mt. Egerton (2,0.50 
feet) is not 1,700 feet above the savannah level. The district 
therefore, may be said to comprise the low lands of the inte- 
rior. The high lands exist about the Upper Potaro and 
extend towards Roraima. 

The prevailing winds are the northeast trades. INIost 
of the rain is brought by them, and the falls are ushered in 
with quasi-hurricanes, which shake the houses. The cloud- 
bank rises over the Essequibo and, generally splits, when 
approaching the Makarapan. One pack sweeps along the 
Pakaraimas, perhaps bursting out as far as JNIare-kupu bush, 
the other ])ack passes over the Rewa forest to Uruata for- 
est along the Kanukus. A diagonal belt, which includes 
most of the ()])en savannah land, with tlie rising Theopokaru- 
kuru (Tlieopokaru-hill) receives less rain tlian the regions 



HINTERLAND NOTES 459 

to the north and south, towards the mountains. Strangely 
enough, the ]{oinan oNlission, on tlie Takutu, conies into this 
belt. A nnip indicating isotherms would reveal the fact that 
the average temj^erature of this zone is higher than that of 
the zones to north and south, altliough I have known it to 
be so hot upon the ^Fasara savannah as to cause an Indian 
drogher to be nauseated continually, as he walked in, to Tuka 
\'illage. Upon the savannahs, so much depends upon wheth- 
er one faces, or travels with the wind, or the set of the air. 
Those who intend to do researcli woi'k would be well advised 
to make quick marches outward, when investigations take 
them to leeward of their camp, and to work back against 
the wind. The extra comfort and the comparative freedom 
from savannah flies are worth securing. Those who wish to 
track animals, will, for other reasons, w^ork against the wind. 

How to rcdch the district: It is possible to take an 
ocean boat up the Amazon, proceed np the Rio Grande, and 
take a launch up the Takutu (so called) to the Ireng. The 
ioin-nev from Georgetown is made bv steamer to Wismar 
and train to Rockstone (one day's journey), thence, by 
launch, to Potaro ^Nlouth (another day's run). The usual 
custom is, for the passengers to take this course, and for the 
captain, bowman, and crew to start from Rockstone, w^here 
the boats are loaded. Nearly a week will elapse between the 
time of their leaving Town, and arriving with the laden 
boat at Potaro Mouth. The launch to Potaro Mouth some- 
times has to make several attempts before it succeeds in 
crossing Crab Falls. We left Town and stayed at Wismar, 
while the boat was being loaded; thus Ave were a w^eek in 
reaching Potaro Mouth. 

At the present time, occasional travelers may obtain 
free passage up to Rapo-nunni JNIouth in a balata boat, go- 
ing up empty, to bring doAMi balata. These opportunities 
occur at the end of the rains. Goods will be taken up in 
these boats at the rate of three cents a pound, from Rock- 
stone, or Potaro ]Mouth. At the beginning of the rains, and 



4(50 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

before the rains — January to ]May — boats go up full, with 
laborers and provisions, and often return empty. At such 
times it is ])ossible to send down packages from llapo-nunni 
]Mouth. Tlie boats of the two ?^Iissions might, also, render 
some services, when running, which is not often. It might 
be found advisable to hire a boat for the whole period, for 
crews for the down-trips can be collected upon the savannahs. 
Some might prefer to buy a new boat, fitted according to 
requirements. The cost would vary from $130 to $180, com- 
plete, with fittings. Through the Protector of Indians it 
would be possible to procure a crew, with captain and bow- 
man, from the savannahs. These Indians would scatter to 
their homes, upon arrival; they need not be maintained nor 
paid during the following months; and they, or others, would 
be available when it was desired to send the boat down again. 
To take a crew from Town would entail much more expense, 
and would be less satisfactory. Incidentally, the Indians 
can hunt and fish, on the way up, and can procure a needed 
change of diet. From Potaro ]\Iouth to Sipruni ^Nlouth 
occupied us just a week. Another week had fled when we 
reached Inkapati, not far from the confluence of the Rapo- 
nunni and Essequibo. To the ^lission Landing from Inka- 
pati may be anything from six to nine days, according to the 
state of the river. We took exactly a month from George- 
town to the ]Mission, in October, 1913. The journey up the 
Essequibo is made over many rapids and falls. It is ardu- 
ous and dangerous. The traveler is probably more inter- 
ested in the experiences and delighted with the scenery than 
oppressed by a sense of danger. At Rewa Mouth, the ka- 
bouri flies begin to be troublesome, and a supply of citronella 
oil. for anointing the exposed parts of the body, will be 
appreciated. 

A portable motor can be used over two stretches, be- 
tween the I'apids, on the Essequibo, and. unless the river is 
very low, it will serve from the ]\louth u]) to the I^anding. 
The usual means of propulsion is the })ad(lle. Where the 



TTTXTKRT.AND NOTES 461 

water is shallow, the Indians pole-stick, oi' punt: this assures 
hetter progress than the paddle. From tlie depots up to 
liewa. and sometimes, np to i\nai, a sail may, upon occa- 
sions, he used with great advantage. 

Our down trip from the .Mission occupied exactly four- 
teen (lavs. When the river is in flood, this trii) mav be ac- 
comj)lishe(I in nine days. The best time for either journey, 
up or down, is just after the heavy rains — August and early 
September. 

General Health: (rood healtli may be maintained if 
thi-ee grains of (piinine be taken regularly, daily, whether 
one feels ill or not. When a feeling of lassitude comes on, 
double the dose. Avoid constipation carefully. The water 
of the main rivers is, generally, harndess. That of the creeks 
and of the ponds should be boiled and allowed to cool. The 
new arrival should not expose himself to the heat of the sun 
between the hours of eleven and two. After six months, the 
ordinary person, who eschews liquor, may move about, at 
any hour of the day, with impunity. In fact, he may roam 
the open savannahs from six A. JNI. to six P. M., without 
taking harm. Should dysentery attack, while on the river, 
the bark of the taparauu, resembling the bark of a guava, 
may be boiled, and drunk. If upon the savannahs, it is well 
to know that the inner bark of the sand-paper tree, which 
is common everywhere, treated in a similar way, is an almost 
instantaneous cure for the dread disease. The Indians know 
over a dozen emetics. I woidd strongly recommend every- 
one to carry the pocket lancet, in a case, with a ready supply 
of permanganate potassium, at the opposite end, which may 
be bought for eightpence, or a shilling. 

MAMMALS 

]My task is, to afford something in the nature of a 
dhoby's list: not to pretend to a scientific description of the 
wild life of the district. Some little service may be rendered 
by mentioning the localities, thus affording some idea of 



4-()2 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITLSH GUIANA 

geographical distribution; but it must not be taken that the 
locahties mentioned are tlie limits of such distribution in the 
district. 

In the giant forest, about the upper Thewarikuru and 
over the Kwaye to the Kanukus, there would appear to be 
animals not yet listed, if the Indians' reports are reliable. 
The accounts were gi\'en, in good faith, by old and tried 
yakamanna thamu (hunters). They assert that seven large, 
carnivorous animals, are to be found in this forest. Here 
are the names, with a rough description. 

Emennu — Very large, black. (Probably the black 
jaguar.) 

Wathamaiku — Large, dark, with light markings. 

Chirirume — Blackish with ruddy stripes and spots. 

Anuntume — Very large, ruddy, (puma). 

Prauva — Blackish, white on fore-shoulders. Called the 
white tiger. 

Wairarima — Dark, takes to the water. 

Kaikuchi — Large, light color with black markings. 
( Spotted j aguar. ) 

Kaikuchi sometimes took one of our heifers, or a young 
bull. Once, this jaguar came to within a hundred feet of our 
house, on the outskirts of the village, and killed a heifer. 
We heard a cry, and saw a stampede of calves, at night, and, 
on the following morning, vultin*es circling overhead, or 
perched, as sentinels, upon the low trees, told that there had 
been a kill. In this instance, as in others, the prey had been 
thrown on to its right side, and dragged to a depression, 
under a bush. The drag was about thirty vards. A hollow 
helps to hide from view, and a bush, or tree, affords a ready 
means of taking top-dog position, should necessitj'^ arise. 
Close scrutiny failed to trace anv wound other than the large 
opening, over and behind the left shoulder, where the flesli 
had been torn off, exposing two ribs. It was, probably, the 
jaguar which had taken out the heart. Kaikuchi does not, 
as I have proved, return to its kill. It would find scarcely 



HINTERLAND NOTES 463 

anything of a meal left, it' it did, for Nature's sanitary party 
is early at work. The niaikang arrives even before daylight, 
and the vultin'es and krakras are busy, with the break of day. 
Kaikuehi is to be found in the Thewarikuru Bush, JNIare- 
kupu Hush, and jNlarakanata 15ush. I have the skin of one 
whieh was shot elose to the last-named IJush. It is that of 
a young animal, measuring three feet ten inehes from the 
nose to the root of the tail. The markings resemble, some- 
what, the beast's own pugs. The spotted jaguar would seem 
to prefer the open country, where it can hunt deer, and, in 
these days, cattle. Both tlie s])()tted and the black jaguar are 
known not to despise fish; and it is said that they will lie in 
wait for turtles coming on to sand-banks, to lay eggs, and 
successfully turn them, and extract the flesh. 

The ocelot may be found in these woods, also. It and 
kaikuehi are reported as abounding in the Simuni Bush. 

There is another carnivorous animal, called iw^oro, which 
is diurnal as well as nocturnal, in habits. One came to the 
corral, at mid-day. It decamped when an Indian ran off for 
a gun. This animal has always evaded me, so that I am un- 
able to describe it, or to identify it. Christopher Davis calls 
it a wolf, though it is solitary. One moonlight night, we saw 
an iworo cross the wide road which we had made and cleared, 
and go to the pineapple corral, where, finding no fruit, it 
uttered its uncanny cry. Then it recrossed the road, went 
off to another pine enclosure, repeating its cry, as if to mark 
its disgust. This creature, although carnivorous (it carried 
off a sitting turkey) relishes pineapples, and few were the 
fruit we got from our two corrals. The Indians' fields, upon 
the savannahs, suffer from its depredations. When one is 
alone, upon the savannahs, at night, the cry of the iworo is 
blood-curdling. 

Christopher Davis is a Xegro, who has lived upon the 
savannahs for a score of years. He has married an Indian 
woman, and keeps cattle, at Tuka. He possesses a fund of 
information with regard to the forests and savannahs and the 



464 TROPICAT. WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

Indians; but he has dedined several offers of money for the 
folk-lore lie can give. He is there to teach the Indians to 
be Christians; not to waste his time in telling devil-stories. 
He would be useful to a naturalist, for he has no objection 
to discoursing about God's creatiu-es. 

A smaller animal than the iworo, also diurnal and noc- 
turnal, is the maikang, or savannah fox. A specimen brought 
to me measured 2 feet from the nose to the root of the tail, 
the tail was 1 foot long, rather bushy, and the animal's height 
was 17 inches. A black line ran down the back, from the 
neck to the root of the tail, and along the tail, irregularly. 
The body was speckled burnt-sienna and greyish-cream, the 
head being similarly colored, and the underparts were dirty 
white. The nose was very pointed. The maikang is auda- 
cious, coming into the village, in the daytime, in search of 
fowls. It took a sitting hen from under our house, having 
to force its way through a kissing-gate in the stockade, which 
enclosed the house. It was, probal)ly the same maikang 
which was found, soon after, as the day broke, in our veran- 
dah, where it had come to enjoy some bananas. The fruit 
had been brought in from the distant field the night before 
and had been left upon the floor, to be hung the next day. 
It is of interest to find two carnivorous animals partial to 
fruit. There is, upon the savannahs, a bush, which bears a 
pretty, red berry, which is called maikang-pimi-u, because 
the maikang feeds upon it. Pimi is the JNIakuchi name for 
the small, red pepper. lu means food. ^laikang-pepper- 
food. During flood-time, the maikang were much in evi- 
dence upon the hill, where the ^lission stands. Its eerie cry, 
like the long drawn-out wail of a person in agony, could 
often be heard, as darkness fell. The maikang makes a hole, 
generally in a mona, and, in this, it has its young. 

A still smaller animal, having a long tail and a pointed 
snout, is the queer creature called, by the Indians, kuachi. 
It is the coati, to which Colonel Roosevelt referred, in his 
account to Scrihnefs of his travels in Brazil. The Indian 



HINTERLAND NOTES 465 

boys deliylit to tie strings to tlic waist and to race the kiiachis 
against each other. These animals are to he found on the 
low ground, to the west of the Mission, ahoiit Kwatata 
Creek. 

The accouri, adouri and lahl)a, are to be found wherever 
there is an extent of Husli. 1 have seen them in Uruata 
Forest, and they have been shot in Thewarikuru Bush. The 
holes of the accouri may often be seen — perchance a camudi 
has taken possession of the hole, and the accouri family is 
lodo'ino' within the camudi! 

Uruata Forest is the home of the armadillo and the por- 
cupine and the sloth. I caught a glimpse of an armadillo 
and was given some spines of the porcupine. In this big 
forest, droves of peccary trample, making a varied diet of 
yellow hog-plums, which may be found scattered over the 
ground, in places, during the season, and of snakes which 
come in their way. The Indians name five distinct kinds 
of peccary, although only two appear to be known to science. 
The Indian names are: 

Abuya ( Abouyah Dicoti/Jcs tajacu ) . 

Poingga (Kairuni Dicotijles peccari). 

Paraka. 

Karuata. 

Iwawtaw. 

Allusion is made to the karuata in the opening stanza 
of a song which accompanies the Parishara Dance: 

"Karuata wai ke U jnpu i e." (With the call of the 
karuata, I come.) 

I have not made records of the localities in which the 
different species may be found; but I know that poingga 
have been shot while skirting the Anai Savannah; j^araka 
have been brought in by Indians from ]Mare-kupu Bush; 
and abuva have been shot in Uruata Forest. The Karuata, 
I am told, is found in the forests which clothe the 
Pakaraimas. 



466 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITLSH GUIANA 

Deer are reported to be dimiiiisliino- rapidly, in the sa- 
vannahs, since the Inchans have taken to the buck-gun. The 
deer are most plentiful about the Xapi and upon the Katoka 
Savannah. Here, again, the Indians differentiate four spe- 
cies of deer: 

Waiking {Odocoileus virginUiuus). 
A smaller Savannah deer [Mazama americana). 
Usari ( Wirriboceri ) — ( Mazama simpliciconiis) , a bush 
deer, such as we used to shoot in the Upper ]Massaruni 
Forest. 

Karithauku — Also a bush deer, darker in color, with 
white front, smaller than the Usari, which, b}^ the way, has 
white spots about under parts. 

The bush deer are to be found in Uruata Forest. Xot 
much was seen of opossums, for they keep to the trees, hid- 
ing amongst the foliage and in their holes. A small variety 
was discovered in a tool-box, under our house, at the jNIission. 
It was about six inches long, and its tail was as long as its 
body. Its large, black eyes seemed to be out of proportion 
to its narrow head, and its dark-brown ears protruded promi- 
nently. The creature snarled and snapped and showed a. 
lot of fight. Mr. Rodway identifies this animal as Didelphys 
m iirinus. Mouse-lila. 

A yawarri, also a pouched animal, was shot by me, in 
the same store-room. It showed its teeth and uttered its 
gurgling growl in a terrifying manner. This creature is 
partial to fowls' eggs, and will play havoc with young 
chickens. 

iNIonkeys are common in all the bush. The kwata 
((juattor — Aides paniscus) has given its name to Kwata-ta, 
wliich means Kwata-place (ta being an abbreviation of pata, 
place), and to the knob of land, Kwata-pubai, or Kwata- 
head. I have seen a party of a dozen of these animals, mak- 
ing theii- way from one big bush to another, using, as their 
liigliway, the low scrub, which, at that place, fringes the sa- 
vannah, at the river's edge. They would not cross a long 



HINTKRLAXD NOTES 467 

extent of eountrv upon the <>roiiii(l. Tlie red liowler affords 
the listener daily and ni*>htlv entertainments, in these forests. 
To describe the noises made is impossil)le. The cadence from 
fortissimo to mez/o-forte is not impleasin<J'. One would miss 
these howlers, in the wilds. Mi/cctcs seniculus conveys no 
]iicture of the howler. The Sakiwinkie, with its olive and 
yellowish tints about the head, makes a pretty pet. .And the 
black and tluH'y marmosette is also in demand. I have seen 
both of these monkeys leapin^^ and scram])lino' amongst the 
trees, at Uruata, or swarming up the trunks. ^\s the Indi- 
ans eat seven species of monkey, it is clear that I have not 
seen all there are to be seen. 

The maipuri or tapir is a si)lendid diver. It travels long 
distances by water. I have seen it swimming the Essequibo, 
where its width is a full mile. Two boats gave chase. 
^A^ounded with an arrow, the maipuri dived and remained 
under water for nearly five minutes. For three-quarters of 
an hour it kept the boats moving about and donbling, as it 
would sink in one place and re-appear forty or fifty yards 
away. I have met with it upon several occasions in the Rapo- 
nunni. Its feet are worth notice. 

Below Anai, I shot a water-horse. It sank and was 
carried below the branches of a fallen tree, and was lost to us. 

The water-dog, or otter, has learnt to fish where shal- 
lows meet the deeps. These animals may be seen treading 
water, to raise their heads and yap at an approaching boat, 
taking care to keep at a respectable distance. Should one 
hear an uproar of conflicting cries — turara, turara, turara, 
turara — there is no need for alarm, though, through the for- 
est the noise is, at hrst. startling. A family of otters is 
expressing its delight over some fine fish which has been 
brought to bank by father or mother otter. The larger spe- 
cies of otter, the Indians call turara {Pteronura sandhachi) ; 
the smaller one they call, saro {Lutra hrasiUensis) . Both 
may be found in the Rapo-nunni. 



468 TROPICAL WILD LITE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

Is it really necessary to mention that rats and mice exist 
in the Ilinterlandif Though tliey annoyed us considerahly 
in the house, it was entertaining to watch them run up and 
down a ])ost, opposite to a suspended bunch of bananas, and, 
finally, leap off, a distance of two feet, on to the fruit. 

Bats, also, troubled the fruit, until we made a wire net 
fruit room. Vampires and otiier })ats took up their abode in 
the palm thatch of our house, and divided their attention 
between the bananas and the litters of puppies, which peri- 
odically appeared. The bitches kept by the Indians lose near- 
ly all their pup^^ owing to the attacks of vampires. The moth- 
ers know how to roll over and to brush off the horrid crea- 
ture; but they are helpless to free their pups. Our pet would 
run backwards and forwards, from her yelling pups to our 
bed-room door, whining for us to come and remove the at- 
tacking horror. Fowls must be carefully protected, at night, 
in wire-net houses. Calves suffered severely. They became 
emaciated, and some of them succumbed, ere they could grow 
to be large enough to withstand the continual lancing. The 
Negroes call the vampire Dr. Blair, after a famous surgeon- 
general, who was much given to employ the lance. Upon 
the occasion of my trip to the diamond fields of the Upper 
Massaruni, in 1902, I was attacked by a vampire, during 
sleep. I knew nothing of it until the morning, when my 
attention was called to a large patch of blood upon my ham- 
mock. Examination of my feet showed a round hole about 
three-eighths of an inch in diameter and one-eighth deep, in 
one of my big toes. The edge was regular. I felt no ill 
effects, until it became necessary to wade creeks and lunge 
through swamps of pegass, when, foreign matter getting in, 
my foot was poisoned. Should a traveler not fear mosqui- 
toes, he should, in certain districts, have a net to his ham- 
mock, as security against bats. Indians wrap themselves up 
in their hammocks. At the entrance to the bush, between 
the INIission House and the River Bank, I saw about a dozen 
bats, of a large size, for a few weeks only, during the heavy 



HINTERLAND NOTES 4.69 

rains of 101.5. They would .seem to nieusiire about two feet 
across tlie wiuos. They were feechug, not upon fruit, hut 
were catchino- insects. Tliese hu-ge creatures reminded one 
of the frut>ivorous flying-foxes, wliich one so often saw in 
Burma. 

reptii.es 

The Inch'aus gave me the following names of distinct 
species of turtle, to be found in the Uapo-nunni; warara, 
matamata. traekatha, pitura. Tortoises, or land-turtles, of 
which names were given to me, are: wathanmri, kaika, mur- 
ru, kapachi and one forgotten. 

The warara, which measures five feet in length, requires 
that a man shall be skilled and strong if he desire to turn 
it. An Indian who brought in one of this size suffered a 
severe scratching, from the sharp nails, and sustained a rup- 
ture. Between January and April turtles' eggs may be 
found, by the score, in exposed sand-banks. A lay may be 
discovered by following the turtle's track, easily distinguish- 
able from a boat, and scooping the sand for a depth of eight 
inches. Should rain have obliterated the track, eggs may be 
found by probing where a suspicious indentation of the sand 
appears. The egg-shells, being of parchment texture, are 
not easily broken. A smaller turtle, tarekatha, may some- 
times be seen bv the fifty, or the hundred, together. I count- 
ed over fifty emerging from Parishara Pond. Their necks 
were craned, to enable them to eye the passing monster (our 
boat), and their w^hitish throats gave the appearance of a 
strew of lily-buds, upon the placid surface of the water. 
Moonlight nights are suitable occasions for watching turtles 
come forth, to lay. They always return upon the same track, 
leaving only one mark for the double journey from and to 
the water. They are able to manage this, because they ro- 
tate, when digging the hole for the eggs. It is observable that 
the bodies of the tortoises are not so flattened as those of the 
turtle. Tortoises mav be found in the Uruata Forest. I 



470 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITLSH GUIANA 

have seen specimens brought in by the Indians; but, unfor- 
tunately, none was brought after I ])egan to make sketches 
and records, so that varying species could not be noted. The 
markings upon the sliell of the wathamuri are imitated by 
the Indians as a pattern in Indian ])cad-work. It is effec- 
tively shown in a bi-colored design. 

The Ka])o-nunni teems with alligators, and every stream 
and pond of any size knows them. Their heads, like the 
ends of gnarled logs, may be seen, stationary, or almost 
imperceptibly moving, in mid-stream, or near the bank. 
Caiman uiger mounts guard over every landing, and looks 
out for unwary dogs, thoughtless children, and careless 
adults. Two children have been carried off at the ^lis- 
sion : one at Rapo-nunni Landing and the other at Thewari- 
kuru Landing. One of these was the child of the late, fa- 
mous JMakuchi Chief, John Bull, who came to Tovm to meet 
us and to escort us to the distant Mission. A woman, also, 
was dragged under, and was drowned, ere she could be res- 
cued. Towards the end of 191.5, one of our women, visiting 
Tawrong thamu pethaku kupu, in search of young birds, 
was attacked. A large part of one calf was taken off, and 
an ugly wound was made in the upper leg. The flesh, in 
parts, rotted and had to be cut off. With careful attention 
she recovered, and she was able to walk down to bid us fare- 
well, when we left. These few instances, out of many others, 
go to show that the alligator or the crocodile is not to be 
treated with contempt. 

There would seem to be more than one species in the 
district. We saw creatures varying from three to twelve 
feet, in length. Some are reported to be longer. They seem 
to prefer back waters to miming water. The Kwatata bush, 
which encloses and domes the creek, making it necessary to 
cut a way for one's canoe, is a favorite breeding-place for 
them. Their roarino- orunts may be heard, as one intrudes, 
from amongst the big roots. ISIembers of a crew, left to 
sleep in a boat, at the landing, were unable to endure the 



HINTERLAND NOTES 471 

noise and the proxiniit\^ of the alhgators, as they snouted 
tlie sides of the boat, and they fled, in iiii<h.sguised ahu'ni; 
thouoli it is doubt I'll! that an animator could, or would, clinil) 
into a boat. Indians batlic witli a])])arent incbfference; the 
indifference is only ap])arent. The eggs of the alligator, 
thirty or forty in number, are thick, rough, dirty white. They 
are buried under a big heap of eartli and leaves, well liidden 
in the bush, away from water. The nest might be mistaken 
for an ant-heap. 

That foe of the alligator, the iguana, may often be seen, 
upon the bank of the river, sunning itself. wSometimes it lies 
along the root, or trunk, of a tree, from which its greenish 
skin is hardly distinguishable. 

The pokaru is a good place for studying snakes. We 
killed two cannulies, taken from the Church. One measured 
fourteen feet, the other six. Labarias would pay an occa- 
sional visit. Rat snakes were found in our bath room, bed 
room and sitting room. A small snake, about two feet in 
length, with a rufus head and throat was twice seen, near 
to the house. I killed both. In the bush, through which the 
new water-side line passes, we saw a green labaria; and, 
crossing a side road, with a frog in its mouth, a black snake, 
about four feet in length, passed in front of us. The green 
labaria is known as Lachesis hilineatus. Another green 
snake, the Corallus ca7iinus, or parrot-snake, lurks in the 
branches of trees, waiting for unw^ary birds. The grey- 
green and chrome rattlesnake is common upon the savannahs, 
although the ordinary person may walk for miles without 
seeing one. Between the Xapi and the Takutu, it is abun- 
dant — there I saw it — and, upon the Tuka Savannah, one 
of our Indians was killed by the bite of a rattler. This snake 
is known to be viviparous. It is said to bring food to its 
young, until they are old enough to hunt for themselves. 
The traveler must beware of tussocks of grass, at the side 
of a track. I have heard of, but have never seen, snakes' 
eggs. 



472 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

AMrillBLVNS 

Of these I cannot write. That frogs and tree-frogs of 
many sizes and voices exist all over the country, one knows. 
I did not meet with a Surinam Toad. 

BIRDS 

I do not pretend to give a complete list of all the birds 
we saw. For over a year, no records were kept, and records 
of a scientific natni*e were not begun until just prior to om- 
departure. There was no time for comparisons: so I am 
unable to list separately those birds which are not to be found 
on the coast lands. Those who know the birds of the coast 
may be interested to note familiar friends which are to be 
encountered in the hinterland. 

It may be well to begin by calling attention to Tawrong 
thamu pethaku kupu (The Birds' Landing Pond), where 
the woman was attacked by the alligator, because it is here 
that a remarkable number of birds of different varieties as- 
semble to breed. Cranes, egrets, the common duckla and 
the collared duckla, ibises and storks and negro-cops, and a 
host of smaller water birds are amongst those that breed 
here. The ducks do not breed at this pond. 

Mare-kupu is a large pond, of which the margins are 
overgrown with long grass and weeds, making wading difR- 
cidt and dangerous (lin-king foes), and approach by boat 
troublesome. This pond, the Parishar and the Warabai are 
visited by three varieties of ducks: The common vicissi (so 
called from its cry — vicissi, vicissi, vicissi), Dendrocygna 
discolor; the larger bird, the Bahama duck, Poccilonetta ba- 
hameims; and the magnificent bird, of which the drake is 
gloriously colored, Cairiiia inoscltata. Some people call this 
the ^Muscovy or king duck. There is a fourth duck, occa- 
sionally brought in by the Indians, the white-faced vicissi, 
Dcndrocf/f/na viduata. We have shot both varieties of vi- 
cissi, amongst one sweep, or regiment. So closely packed 



HINTERLAND NOTES 473 

are these birds, when going through their aerial evokitions, 
that one cartridge, with B15, has been seen to bring down 
fourteen birds. I have known sixteen to be brought in by a 
yagganiana, who has expended only one of three cartridges 
he had taken out with him. The Indian name for the large 
duck is maiwa, they call the vicissi wawing, while the teal is 
known as ropong. It is well to know these names, when one 
is seeking the assistance of the Indians to find the different 
species. Tlie vicissi and the king duck, as I shall call Cai- 
rina moschata, seem to be commoner than the Bahama duck, 
foi- we seldom saw, or secured the last-named. The king 
duck can always be detected, in flight, by the broad bars of 
white whicli flash from its wings. The Indians stalk these 
ducks in a marvellous way, wading througli water, with body 
bent nearly to the surface, taking cover behind bushes or 
grasses, with the gun held a few inches from the water, and 
brought, with a sloth-like movement to the present, when at 
close range. The Indian is a wonderfid hunter, but he 
dislikes taking a sporting shot. He will not take a bird 
on the wing. I achieved a nine days' notoriety by taking 
a monster king duck, as it rose from the river, at a dis- 
tance of just over forty yards. It was the largest speci- 
men I saw, not magnified by lenses of the Ego brand! 
Where the river passes through forest belts, as at Uruata, 
Simuni, and Rewa, the king duck may be found in some 
quiet spot, besporting himself with his wives and family, of 
two, or perhaps, three. It would seem that ducks lose a con- 
siderable number of their young, ere they reach maturity. 
Their foes are legion. The perai and the tiger-fish are ever 
on the look-out for a duckling, and even for a full-grown 
bird. The alligator, too, makes a meal of them. And the 
cat tribe is ready, whensoever they are ashore. The king 
duck nests in the hollows of trees ; while the vicissi makes its 
nest amongst reeds and gi'asses. 

To the north of the INIission, upon the savannahs, cranes, 
negro-cops, ibises, flamingoes and spurwings may be ob- 



474 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

served. Along the river banks egrets are often to be seen. 
Storks, also, are common, making a pretty picture when they 
settle upon the top of an overhanging tree, after having been 
disturbed at their piscatorial o]:)erations. The egret might 
be endowed with an aesthetic sense, as it is so frequently to 
be seen standing at the water's edge, against a background 
of deep green grasses, its white form reflected in the glassy 
surface, which mirrors also the deej) blue of the sky over- 
head, and the fleecy clouds drifting. Companies of spur- 
wing sweep along, and pipers rim about the sand-banks at 
the river's brink. Two species of kingfisher are easily dis- 
tinguishable, at river, or pond, for one is large and the other 
is small. Closer observation leads to the discovery that there 
are four species, including a collarless, green one. Others 
have white collars, rufus-brown waistcoats and blue-green 
uppers, wings and tails. The presence of a kingfisher may 
be told, not only by its darting flight ; but, also, by its pecu- 
liar note, which may be described as pchclaching (pebble- 
clacking) . I observed kingfishers flying overland at a con- 
siderable distance from water, and this has led me to wonder 
if we have a species, like one in Burma, which has forsaken 
fishing for hunting. Flying with the kingfishers are the 
woodpeckers, or carpenter-birds. Some handsome birds may 
be seen throughout the region. A large bird, with a crimson 
crest, is to be found at Uruata; the smaller one, with a red 
head, is common about the Mission. The muscular action 
of the woodpecker's neck, with a maxim-like rapidity of 
blows, is an interesting study; and the bird's undulating 
flight can hardly escape attention. 

From the thickets, along the river bank, the hubbub of 
gurgling bevies of old-witches may be heard. The larger 
old-witch haunts the more open gromid, and its plaintive 
note sounds upon the savannah levels, where there are bush- 
es, not far from water. 

T^ai-ge hawks are to be seen almost anywhere in the 
savannalis, ])erched, sentinel-like, upon some solitary trunk, 



IIIXTI'.RLAND NOTES 475 

(k'lmdcd of Icuncs and hraiit'lies, or at tlie suniinit of the 
tallest tree at the edf)e ol' a wood. One evenin*^', as we 
were returning- from the North Savannah, up the hill to the 
Mission, we heard a eieada, as it traversed our direetion, high 
in the air. Two hawks ^vere poised, nearhy, examining the 
woods, on either side oi' the trail. One of them swooped 
at the eieada and carried it off in its talons, ])rotesting loudly 
the while. Truly the great do not despise small things! A 
smaller hawk-hird, called hy the Indians, enthaking, hunted 
in the village, ever on the watch for the heautiful pets kept by 
the Indians, or for stray chickens. A large bird, in appear- 
ance like a haw^k, hunts with the vultures. It has a white 
head and collar. The Indians call it krakra. It does not 
kill its food; but feeds upon grubs and worms and carrion. 
Probably, it seeks carrion in the rotted meat. About the 
rocky hills, at Tuka, the kite is to be admired. It nests in 
bushes amongst the rugged boulders. 

At the jNIission I shot a lai'ge hawk, wnth feathers barred 
black and white, and black and rufus-brown. It was a hand- 
some bird, and measured exactly four feet from tip to tip of 
wings. 

A hill, about a mile to the northw^est of the Mission is 
named after the smaller curassow, Mdiich is said to have 
abounded hereabouts, though, now, it is seldom to be seen. 
The large curassow is conmion in the big forests of Rewa 
and Uriiata. Certain thickets, along the river, are its favor- 
ite haunts, and it was noticed that when a bird had been shot 
at one of these the spot was occupied by a successor, not long- 
afterwards. The booming ugm, ugm .... ugm, ugm, ugm, 
(twice, then thrice), rouses the Indians to a pitch of eager- 
ness, while the boat is yet a long way off. Stalking is diffi- 
cult, as it is almost impossible for even an Indian to make 
way through a thicket of underbrush without snapping a 
single twig. At the first sound of snapping, the booming 
ceases. There is a very long pause before it is resumed. 
Should more snaps be heard, a little nearer, those who are 



476 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

expectantly waiting in the boat, hear a loud beating of wings, 
as the alarmed bird bursts through the foliage and makes 
way. The curassow is often tamed. Its crest of black feath- 
ers, its glossy black back and wings, its immaculate white 
waistcoat, and its bright gamboge bill, make it a handsome 
pet. Another pet is the maroudie, or bush turkey, with its 
blood-red wattles. The thakami, or trumpet bird, is more 
than a pet: it is a companion. Its antics are very amusing, 
two or three, together, have round games, leaping over each 
other and tossing stones, leaves, and twigs. Its brilliant 
dicky of cobalt blue, Prussian blue, and ultramarine (such 
a blending of blues !) , is well set off by its grey mantle, falling 
over wings and the place where its tail ought to be, being 
edged with dull yellow-ochre. This bird fearlessly attacks 
and kills snakes. In the Upper INIassaruni, I have seen it 
ferret out a yackman, or whip-snake, and attack it. When- 
ever we killed, at the jMission, the meat and blood always 
caused great excitement amongst oiu- trumpeters. 

They are easy to keep, for they are omnivorous. INIaains 
and maamus are to be found in the big forests, where the 
thakami dwell, and in the smaller woods, where the trum- 
peter disdains to live. The hanaqua, inquiring, What 
o'clock? What o'clock? at dawn and close of day is ubiq- 
uitous, and abounds upon the outskirts of savannahs and 
clearings. Toucans of several kinds are common in the big- 
ger woods. Their plumage is prized by the Indians, for 
decking their persons. Three macaws may be seen — the 
wathara (crimson and blue), the kuyari (green and yellow), 
and the karawa (red-breasted). These birds frequent the 
trees which provide them with food. At the Mission there 
is a tree called kuyari iu, the (kuyari's food tree). Three 
parakeets are caught and kept: small green, paraki; green, 
with long tail, kaikai: orange, red about the eyes, greenish- 
yellow tail, kuyese. The chiriki is the love-bird, also a para- 
keet, of course. Parrots are everywhere swarming. I have 
not listed the varieties. Onlv once did I hear a tiger-bird. 



HINTKRLAND NOTES 477 

It was at Um-ata where, also, I licai'd tlie white beli-hird 
for tlie first and tlie only time. IIuniniingl)irds are plen- 
tiful; their deheate nests were often seen. In the thiekets 
and tan<4"les, to tlie south of Kwatata creek, the jaeaniar 
[Galhiila viridis), breeds. As it somewhat resembles a 
hummingbird, though it is mueh larger, the Indians call 
it Tuku-i yung, or hummingbird's father; just as they call 
the thumb, thantha yung, the finger's father. This bird 
must not be confused with the long-toed jacana, which may 
occasionally be seen, standing upon the innnense pads of 
the Victoria Kegia, one of the original homes of which is the 
Thewarikuru, in its lake-like expanses, at the southei-n foot 
of the ^Mission Hill, from the sumnn't of which hill this water- 
way is so effectually screened hy the thick bush. 'I'he Indians 
name their Keception dance after the hummingbird, Tuku-i; 
and their Cxreat dance, the Parishara, is called after the prim 
crimson-headed finch, w4iich is to be seen, flitting from bush 
to bush, along the banks of the Rapo-nunni, almost anywhere 
in its course. 

As I haye returned to a mention of the riyer, we may as 
well take note of the duckla. Some call this the snake-bird, 
a nickname which should belong to the trumpeter, as I have 
shown. Singly, in twos, or in threes, it may be seen, perched 
upon some tacouba, or an oyerhanging branch, looking for 
fish. When disturbed, it has the peculiar habit of dropping 
low^ and dragging its tail in the w^ater, as if wounded; then 
it rises and makes off. The duckla with the white collar is 
rare. The Indian name is saia. Of great beauty is the sun- 
bittern {Eurypycfa helias) , also fairly common upon this 
riyer. I haye not seen more than one at a time. The bird 
makes a beautiful display of the coloring and marking of its 
tail and wings, when it alights, spreading the tail and wings 
so as to form a fan. The shades of browns, golds, and greys, 
are wonderful. It frequents the sunny banks, and, gener- 
ally, alights upon an open patch, when the sun is shining. 
Then it runs and secretes itself where the bushes are thick. 



478 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IX IJRrriSH GUIANA 

On the banks of the liapo-niinni, in the Rewa forest, 1 have 
heard the piercing call of the pi-i)i-yo, or gold bird, alias 
greenheart-bii'd. It is su])pose(l to be found only in green- 
heart forest. ^Nlr. C. Wilgress xVnderson. F.U.G.S., For- 
estry Officer, tells nie that no greenheart is to be found in 
the llapo-nunni district. Indians say some exist in the 
Rewa forest. 

Tyrants, of the kiskadee family, need no special men- 
tion, nor do cotton birds, manakins, tanagers, and cotingas 
— after which the Cotinga River, ceded to Brazil, is named. 
Perhaps an exception should be made in the case of the 
scarlet-breasted tanager, (Pitht/s crijtkromclas) , two speci- 
mens of which were noticed in a cashew tree, near to our 
house at the ^Mission. In that tree I saw, upon another oc- 
casion, a dark bird with a crimson collar and a crimson under- 
tail, which ]Mr. Rodway suggests may have been Lathria 
strcptophora, a cotinga, which, he says, is not mounted in the 
Georgetown ^luseum. The so-called American robin may 
be seen upon the savannahs, at Tuka. And from the hills, 
beyond, the Indians bring that gorgeous plumed and sweet 
songster, the troupial. We bought several and let them 
loose, after a short spell in the cage. They would fly about 
the village and come in at meal-times and feed from the 
hand. Early in the morning they would appear at our win- 
dow and carol forth, then search the house for insects. 
When full-grown, the male assumes an ahiiost crimson hue, 
so different from the yellow of his youth. The head becomes 
a deep black, matching the wings and the well-shaped tail. 
The wings have bars of white. These birds attracted a pair 
of yellow bii'ds, with brown wings, barred with white. They 
would join our pets upon the verandah and feed and bathe 
with them. The Indians call them chiwitaw, they may be the 
yellow-crested troupial, Jcterus croconotus. The black- 
crested, the far handsomer bird, is called Icterus vulgaris. 
Farther westward along the Pakaraimas the brilliant cock- 
of-the-rock has its habitat. I have seen the skins of two, 



HINTERLAND NOTES 479 

vvliicli were used \)y the Indians as oiiianieiits of elothin^'. 
Upon one oecasion, we heard a troupial sin<>in_<4 loudly from 
the top of a tree, on the river hank, near to Kwiniata I^and- 
ing. Its nest was diseovered, high uj) in a l)ush, overhanging 
the water, upon the opposite hank. It was a grassy struc- 
ture, elongated, fixed in a fork, with an entrance on the lee- 
w'ard side. I suspect that this hird and its mate had escaped 
from Indians at Kwimata. 

Where river banks are steep, sand-martins may he found 
making use of the numerous holes. AV^hether for roosting 
or nesting, I have not determined. Over the savannahs, 
common martins, swifts of two sizes, and swallows cannot he 
overlooked. Scissor-tails, also, are plentiful; and an occa- 
sional screech owl may be disturbed from amongst the thick 
foliage of an ancient tree. Pigeons are plentiful. There is 
a tree in which they delight to place their platforms ; on this 
account the Indians call it wakokwa-the, or pigeon's-tree. 
Its leaves are long and narrow, and its trunk is as straight 
as a mast. The copper-colored pigeon, also, is plentiful; 
and the ground doves rise in patches, from any open ground. 
I disturbed a ground dove upon its nest, near a tussock of 
grass, upon the Tuka Savannah, near the foot of a hill. 
There was one white egg. A night- jar, mothering a solitary 
young, was found, upon the hill, on the outskirts of the Mis- 
sion Village. I^pon moonlight nights, night- jars were busy. 
They settled on the ground, at the side of the roads, wheez- 
ing and beating their wings, periodically. Then they would 
rise and gyrate, and sweep along, just over the grass, and 
beat their wings as they passed. The object of this may be, 
to cause their prey to betray its presence, by a sudden move- 
ment. At sunset, during the later months of the year, we 
used to hear a bird which uttered seven notes, descending 
the scale in thirds. It was not seen, nor identified. This was 
at the ^Mission. From my little shelter in the Bush, near the 
Mission, I have watched the black-faced wren come forth 
from hiding and warble its powerful song. The bird's tech- 



480 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

nical name is Thri/othorus corai/a. The coimiion wren 
hannts the tangles npon the savannalis, as well as the big 
forest. It is a homely bird. The (luadrille bird, perhaps the 
finest songster in the world, may be heard in Truata Forest. 
Mv first meeting with this bird was in the Upper ^lassa- 
rnni. Its voice-prodnetion is a perfect art; I know of no 
bird with a sweeter note, not even the nightingale, nor the 
black-cap of Kurope. AVhen one has heard this bird, the 
other two wrens mentioned, the local thrnsh, the troupial, 
and the kadouri — to mention some only of onr sweet song- 
sters — one no longer believes the traveler's yarn that the 
tropical conntries have birds of bright phimage but no 
birds of song. 

I do not class the bunyahs as songsters ; but I must not 
forget to mention that colonies of them may be found upon 
the river batiks, their nests being suspended from trees over- 
hanging the water. 

This haphazard catalogue will afford some idea of the 
birds to be found in the district. Travellers may walk miles 
over the savannahs and through the forests and report that 
few are the birds to be seen and heai'd — noisy parrots, ma- 
caws and kiskadees, vultures, doves and pigeons. If they 
walk they w'ill see little more. Those w4io desire to see and 
to hear, must learn to stand or to sit still. Half an hour's 
patience-exercise will be amply repaid : it is astonishing how 
many forms of wild life reveal themselves to the silent 
w^atcher. They seem to spring to life as by the magic of a 
fairy's w^and. Creatures which are preyed upon learn that 
their safety consists in sitting still, when danger threatens. 
This instinct, exercised in the very face of an enemy, causes 
that inaction which some would attribute to hypnotism. Any 
boxer knows that he must watch his opponent's eyes, so as 
to be able to tell when and w^here his next blow will fall. 
There is no need for fancy theories w^ith regard to birds and 
beasts and reptiles. 



HINTERLAND NOTES 481 

FISH AND CUUSTACEANS 

I have seen two of the three kinds of erahs, named to 
me by the Indians, as hciuir found here. They tell of two 
shrim})s, and of forty-eioht different fishes. Fish migrate 
from tlie Kssequiho to the ITp])er Rai)()-Jiiiniii, to spawn. 

The hikanani is said to earry its eggs in its mouth, and 
the female to transfer tliem to the male, when she desires 
to feed. The wara})aima makes a bed at the bottom of a 
deep hole. This fish grows to an immense size, sometimes 
scaling over a hundred-weight. It may be seen rolling its 
back at the surface of the water; and the noise of its splash, 
when it returns from a high leap into the air, may be heard 
half a mile off, upon a still night. The Indians do not like 
the flesh. I have seen them catch one and leave it untouched, 
although we have, at the time, been without any other flesh 
for our evening meal. Owing to carelessness on the part of 
those who have taken Indian names before they have learnt 
the language, this fish has come to be called the arapaima — 
Arapaima gig cms is the name in full. When the freshets come 
down, the striped tiger-fish may be detected waling the sur- 
face, as it dashes up the shallows. {Pseudoplatijstoma fas- 
ciatum) . A common fish is the arawona, which has an almost 
vertical mouth oj)ening at the top. It feeds upon the hard, 
green fruit, of a tree, which is plentiful near the water. The 
Indians place some of the fruit in baskets, at the surface of 
the water, and, as the fish rise to feed, they shoot them with 
bow and arrow. I have seen Indians dash in amongst ara- 
wona, drive them over the shallows, towards the bank, and 
pick them up in their arms. Perai and their four cousins 
abound, some marked with red and others with gold. They 
are ravenous fish, and attack any wounded thing which falls 
into the water. They will attack persons swimming. The 
electric-eel, or numb-fish [Electro phorus electricus) , I have 
seen swimming near the bank, at the Bell-rocks. 



482 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

Our Indians liave cau<>lit two species of the sting-ray, 
in the Rapo-nunni. The brownish one, hardly (h'stinguish- 
able from mud and sand, near Katoka Creek; and the grey 
one with gold and silver markings, upon a granite boulder, 
in the lower river. The second one cannot easily be detected 
when lying upon granite, with the sun's rays playing through 
the h(|uid i)rism. The "stings" are barbs, lying one above 
the other, upon a slender tail. They turn them over the back, 
as a scorpion does its tail. Many were the Indians who came 
to me for a dressing, after entering the water to find a pass- 
age for the boat, or to push it over a shallow. At the mouth 
of Uruata Creek, I saw some long, narrow fish, not quite a 
foot in length. The Indian name for them is mawi'i kuratu, 
or blow-pipe fish. Savannah Indians do not use blow-pipes. 
Pata-kai is the JNIakuchi name for a fish which scatters over 
the savannahs and into the creeks and ponds, when the floods 
come out. The name means, "The country over," pata being 
place, oi- country, while kai is short for kaichure, evenly, 
equally. When the floods subside, many of these fish fail to 
return to the river in time, and they may be found in pud- 
dles, which, in course of time, evaporate. In the dry bed of 
Uruata Creek, I have seen a small shoal of them flapping 
and floundering in a few inches of water. The Indians 
picked them up and threaded them upon a stick, against their 
breakfast. The maikang-fish has dog-like teeth; and the bar- 
bels of the little thaki are imitated in a design for the Indian 
fan, which is used for shaping and turning the cassava cakes, 
sometimes known as wooden-bread. These fish are most 
curious. 

The Indians tell how, in ages long ago, the Inchkirang, 
one of their ancient Heroes, plucked leaves from the moka- 
moka, and scattering them in the Rapo-nunni, turned them 
into sting-rays, in order to prevent his younger brother from 
following him on his journey, after the giant snail, to the 
floor of the mighty ocean. 



HINTERLAND NOTES 48:j 

AKACTTXID.S AXI) AIVKIOronA 

Scorpions, olive-gTccn, black, and ruddy-brown, have 
been found. The first were under the loosened bark of a 
tacouba, wliich we had adopted as a seat, at the far end of an 
afternoon stroll. Si)i(leis would need a chapter to them- 
selves, for they include the giant, hairy terrors (wrongly 
called tarantulas), the ant-like spider, the jumping spider, 
and the spider which skilfully hides itself behind an X, spun 
in the middle of its web. Long centipedes are everywhere. 
And milli])cdes, measuring five inches, may often be seen 
in the bush. 

INSECTS 

It was at Thewarikuru Landing that I saw and heard 
the musical butterflies [Ageronia feronia) . Their music re- 
sembles the crackling of grass under fire. The insects were 
mottled in shades which appeared to be drabs, greys and 
browns. They should measure about three inches across the 
wings. 

We saw more varieties of butterflies in the bush than 
upon the savannahs. AVherever a road, or a sirahi, is cleared, 
through bush, there numerous butterflies are to be seen — 
some at anv time of the dav; others onlv at morn and eve. 
The large, black butterfly, whose wings are panelled in bright 
gamboge, we saw only when the raj^s of the sun came slant- 
ing through the leafy canopy overhead, making patches and 
bars of light and shade, as they filtered through. In such 
places the butterfly might, when still, escape detection. This 
species allowed me to stroke it ; and our baby boy could put 
his finger to within an inch of it, without disturbing it. We 
did not allow him to touch it, as he would have poked. A 
butterfly similar in size, panelled with deep green, was no- 
ticed, also. And a smaller, black butterfly, with crimson. 
This was always seen hovering about a special kind of sap- 
ling, or suspended from its leaves or leafless twigs. We 



484 TROPICAL WILD LILK I\ BRITISH GUIANA 

never saw it in repose, upon a leaf, or branch. Another but- 
terfly always ah'<>lite(l upon the trunk of a particular kind 
of tree, from the bark of which it was hardly distinguishable. 
Indians would not detect it, until 1 pointed it out to them. 
This fact, with some others of like nature, suggest that the 
Indians are quick to see tilings which interest and concern 
them — as one woman will take in the details of another wo- 
man's attire, at a glance — and tliat they are not keenly ob- 
servant in other resj)ects. 

When crossing the savannahs, between the Xapi and 
the JNIanari, upon two occasions, I disturbed a tiny butterfly, 
settled upon the kanju flower, of which it was the same color. 
The wings were the size of the petals of the flower, which is 
a blue mauve, ahnost lavender. The kanju is an herbaceous 
growth planted by the Indian maidens, who rub the juice 
of the flowers upon their faces, to make themselves attractive 
to the Indian youths. A popular name for this butterfly 
might be, The Kanju. 

JMoths, beetles, stick-insects, leaf-insects and grasshop- 
pers, I shall not attempt to list. A few locusts were to be 
seen, occasionally, upon the savannahs, to the West of the 
INIission, flying at an altitude of about forty feet. Some 
alighted close to us, thus enabling us to examine them. 

The six-o'clock bee may be heard, and there is another 
cicada which rasps in the middle of the day. Its shrrr-shrrr 
is given forth from a slit in the thorax in quick two-time. 
The Indians reproduce the noise by means of certain seed- 
cases strung and affixed to a stick, which they shake. It is 
an accom])animent to the tuku-i dance. In the hills, aback 
of Tuka, during October, I have heard the drone-bee, the 
call of which might lead a stranger to think that a miniature 
engine was running amongst the hills. 

One day, when breakfasting at ^Nlare-kupu, I noticed a 
bee-hive, in an old tree, at a height of five feet six inches 
from the ground. I have seen other hives as low as this, 
which had been cleaned out by some wild animal. The large 



HINTERLAND NOTES 485 

hole, whence the branch had fallen, was built up with mud, 
not wax. 1 broke away the alightinf^ platform, in order 
to get a view of the interior. Upon the tree were several 
kushie warrior ants, one of which, observing bees settling 
upon the trunk and wandering about in search of an entrance, 
dashed up to the attack. As a bee settled, the ant would 
rush at it; a nip would be audible; and the bee would fall 
to the ground. Over a dozen were treated in this way. When 
a bee hovered, the ant followed its movements, and tliis gave 
other bees time to find the entrance and crawl in. These 
bees were the niddy pimii-o, named after a small, red pepper, 
similar to the pimi. I have seen five honey-bees, for each of 
which the Indians have names. 

It cannot be a common experience to have a plague of 
butterflies. Each June, our store-room was invaded by a 
large, dark butterfly, which would swarm over the bananas 
(before we had the wire room), and rise in a cloud from the 
sugar- tin. 

Galaxies of yellow butterflies, having pale-green under 
the wings, mav be seen anvwhere, on the river. When set- 
tied upon the sand at the brink of the water, they have the 
appearance of a bed of leaves erect. INIingled with these 
companies are some others of a deep orange hue. 

Of ants there is no end. Tuka and Thepokaru are tun- 
nelled by the kushie, which interfere seriously with attempts 
at cultivation. In the bush about the Thewarikuru is a long, 
black ant, which whistles or produces a sound in some way, 
when disturbed — s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s. Ants swarm over the ground 
and the trees. In size they vary from the pin's head miku 
thamu, to black insects, almost an inch long. To the west 
of Kwatata Savannah is a stretch of country which might 
a])pear to be a burial ground of the ancients, with many steles 
standing yet. According to the nature of the soil, they are 
terra cotta, brown, or grey. These are the mona, or nests 
of the wood-ants ; thev mav be two feet or five feet high. A 
tribe of Indians takes its name from these monas — the Pata- 



486 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

monas of the Upper Potaro. Pata — place ; mona — the ant's 
nest. 

No one can know the district without knowing the ka- 
bouri fly. We encountered it iust above Kewa jNlouth. It 
has been said that this pest is not to be found more than a 
hundred yards away from water. We found it troublesome 
in our house, half a mile in a straight line from the water, 
and we have found it farther afield. It is a l^lood-sucker, 
wliicli marks one as with fine pocks. Besides this fly, we had 
an angular, or greenish-black blood-sucker, which skulked 
under the chairs and tables and attacked one's legs and 
ankles. JNIy wife has a lump resulting from a bite received 
over a year ago. I sent a specimen to Mr. Rodway, who 
identifies it as Lcpiselaga cerripcs. It is plentiful at Rewa 
]\Iouth, amongst other places. The Indians say it dwells in 
holes in trees and tacoubas. A large, green and amber fly 
annoyed the cattle and horses a great deal, after the heavy 
rains, in 1915. Those animals which ventured down the hill 
to the savannahs would come racing in with swarms of these 
flies, aiid the common cow-flies, buzzing about them and 
sucking them. These flies would seem to lay their eggs in 
the sandy banks of the river, close to the roots of the trees 
and shrubs. I saw myriads of them, as they buzzed about 
the bank, or settled and scratched the sand. This was in 
October. Mr. Davis has described a fly which occasionally 
attacks his cattle. It would seem to be rare. When an ani- 
mal is attacked, it is seized with terror, and dashes to the 
nearest stream, with its tail erect and head askew. I have 
not seen the fly, which, if not previously listed, might be 
called Christie's Fly. Swarms of tiny flies cover the savan- 
nahs. They buzz irritatingly in one's ear, unlike the ka- 
bourie, "vvhich makes no noise. I am told that there are two 
species of kabourie; Sitnuliiim cfuiancnsc, and Simuliinn. 
amazonicum. I seem to have noticed two species on the 
Rapo-nunni, the second (if there be no mistake) , could hard- 
ly be the amdzonicu/in. 



HINTERLAND NOTES 487 

As for niarabiiiilas or wasps, llicir nests arc ahiiiidant 
in the bush, beliind big leaves. 

We (lid not find that the Linil)crs oj' our house were at- 
tacked bv ants, but bv two borers, similar in form, th()u<>h 
one is larger than the other. They bored into and hollowed 
out the wood, scattering a fine dust over the ground, or the 
floor. I have the Indian names of those woods which the 
borers do not attack. I began to ])ress leaves and to make 
sketches of them, with notes. \Mien building a house care 
should be taken that the Indians are made to search for the 
right wood, or they will bring in the first that comes to hand, 
although they know it is liable to attack and will not last a 
year. 

It was interesting, when digging, to find the rhinocer- 
ous beetle, embedded in earthen cases, at a depth of eighteen 
inches from the surface of the soil. This was in an old ant- 
heap. Some of the beetles were pale yellow, as if only just 
hatched. Others were rufus-sepia. And others, again, were 
almost black. 



CHAPTER XXXV 

INDIAN CHARMS 

By 

Jainies Kouway, 
Curator of the Georgetown Museum 

To the native Indian his beenas are of the utmost iin- 
jjortance — he can do nothing without tliem. They assure 
success in all his undertakings, and must have done much to 
make him happy. There is a tendency in other races to de- 
pend on fate, good luck, charms, amulets and prayers, but 
only the South American Indian has adopted beenas. Fail- 
ure in attaining some desirable object drives other people 
to curse, and find fault with something or somebody; the 
Indian is hardly ever angry. His failure to shoot a labba 
or deer is due to something connected with his beenas for 
those animals. Perhaps their virtue has been exhausted and 
he must reinoculate himself to restore it, or a woman may 
have touched those he used. But he does not abuse or scold 
his wife, dog or gun, but tries quietly to put the thing right. 
He is not much of a thinker, and yet he chooses a similar 
course to that of a rational man. A blundering, passionate 
fellow vents his spite on all around, but the man with a well 
l)alanced mind tries to find out the cause of a failure. Of 
course we may sav that the Indian's way is absurd, but it is 
not nearly as absurd as that of the fault-finder or the scold. 

Some of the ideas connected with beenas are pretty and 
almost poetical. Take, for example, the sololio or swallow 
beena. It is a caladium with white dots, suggesting flights 
of birds, iu fact it recalls the line of the poet, 

"When the swallows homeward fly." 

The idea of the sociability of these birds does not come 
to the Indian from Europe, but has no doubt been spon- 









V 



K 




D 



V 





FIG. 143. CALADIUM BEENAS. OR INDIAN CHARMS 



INDIAN CHARMS 489 

taiieously evolved. People in all eountries love to meet their 
relations and friends; thev write letters and send out invita- 
tions. The Indian can do nothing but use his swallow, or 
the other beena, if his friends do not come back, at the time 
when the last hole of the stick, left behind on their departure, 
is clear from the cord. This stick has been treasured ; every 
day the thread is removed from one hole and every day their 
return comes nearer. But, something happens and they 
don't come ; they may be delayed from many causes some of 
which are well known. There may be uneasiness, but the 
Indian does not feel any real distress. He does not neglect 
his duties or sit down and groan; he is never downhearted. 
He may, however, have hung up a "leaf of life," and as this 
has sent out some young sprouts, he is assured that all is 
well with his parents or friends. Xevertheless, something 
more may be done, and he therefore inoculates himself with 
the swallow beena to make them come all the quicker. Per- 
haps they may return next day, and of course the beena has 
proved itself a success. 

The love beenas are also pretty and suggestive. An old 
man wants to marry a young girl — she can be charmed even 
when she has expressed a dislike to her suitor. He uses the 
special beena, which is the caladium with a crimson suffused 
centre an inch or two in diameter. The girl knows that she 
is being charmed and drawn to the man. Something bad 
for her will happen if she resists and therefore she consents 
to the marriage. The man is proud of his beena and the 
girl excuses her love on the ground that she was charmed. 
We do not find such marriages entirely failures. 

The girl, however, may get somewhat tired of her old 
husband and turn her eyes towards a younger man. The 
old man is sharp enough to see that he must do something. 
But, he does not abuse, strike or chop her like some of the 
other races, but gets the beena which he believes will help to 
retain her loye. This caladium has a broader suffusion than 
the love beena, and perhaps suggests that there are wider 



490 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

sympathies between man and wife than exist with lovers. 
The wife sees her husband rub the beena upon her bead apron 
and as a matter of eourse, her love is retained. She is not 
annoyed, but takes it as a matter of eourse. 

A marriage without offspring is never complete. This 
is accepted by all primitive peoj^le and is conspicuous among 
the Indians. Here we get the woman's special beenas, which 
she keeps in her own domain, the cassava field. The most 
sti'iking is perhaps a species of Calathea whicli has many off- 
shoots from the base of the stem, something like those of 
arrowroot ; they suggest the idea of offspring, and are cooked 
and eaten by the woman. If this beena fails she may resort 
to the bush and get the pretty birds'-nest fungus. 

The boy and girl lovers carry on a kind of courtship 
where the father of the girl demands proofs of the boy's pro- 
ficiency in manly accomplishments. Perhaps the old man 
is not entirely pleased with the proposed match, and will put 
obstacles in the way. Tlien the youth must get a favor beena 
and steep it in crab oil, with scent. This is rubbed over his 
hair and skin before he presents himself to his future father- 
in-law. A tiny piece of the beena must also be placed be- 
tween the lips. The sheepish lover before entering the benab 
spits out the beena and rubs it into the ground with his foot, 
this is supposed to insure a favorable answer to his suit, and 
possibly does so because the old man believes also in the 
charm. This is not acrid like the caladiums, and therefore 
can be chewed. 

Presuming that he is allowed to go on with his courtship 
he gets the laugh bush and gives some to the girl. Both are 
pleased with each other and want to be happy in company. 
That thev are so nmst surely be credited to the beena and 
their belief in it. 

And so we might go with the man as hunter and fish- 
erman. Every game beast, bird and fish has its o^vn charms, 
either general or particular, and each inspires hope and 
confidence because the man has faith in them. He does not 



INDIAN CHARMS 491 

curse the game when it escapes, nor does he blame his gun 
or dog; they also must be charmed with special beenas. 

There does not appear to be any connection with either 
good or evil spirits, except perhaps in the case of the water- 
mamma or manatee, which is supposed to upset the corial 
and carry people down to a kind of fairyland beneath the 
dark waters. It can easily be understood that the dark 
coffee-colored river or creek is a mvsterv. It is not trans- 
parent, and therefore is unlike clear mountain streams; its 
depths are impenetrable. The cayman, ])erai or sting ray may 
be there, but they are not visible. These dangers are known, 
but it is quite ])ossible to the Indian that some strange crea- 
ture may be at work about the rapids to produce whirlpools 
and cross currents. Then again, there are submerged rocks 
and masses of those clinging weeds, which hamper a swim- 
mer, as well as hooked palms, which may hold and upset a 
small corial. The real dangers are mixed up with the siren, 
until they form one being, who may be perhaps mischievous, 
but hardly evil. It may be repelled or propitiated by rub- 
ring the bulb of the red lily over the corial before encoun- 
tering the danger. It may be safely stated, however, that in 
this as in other cases, the use of the charm does not make the 
paddler less careful. 

The tiny element of superstition in the idea of the water- 
mamma suggests something similar in the Kinaima. The 
avenger of blood is a reality, but his supposed preternatural 
capabilities are mythical. He carries out a duty which is 
often most painful and arduous, and as might be expected 
is assisted by a beena. 

No one can tell the real thoughts of another; we are 
often at a loss to explain our own. We cannot understand 
the meaning of many words which are common in our 
mouths. It is not therefore to be supposed that we can get 
a true theorv of the beena cult. We mav sav thev are charms 
to promote good luck, medicines or ordeals. It has been said 
that the word means to attract, but this does not cover all 



492 TROPICAL WILD LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA 

their uses. There is nothino- niahcious about them, and we 
mav safely state that tliey are harmless. The cuts and 
scratches do not fester, for tlic caladiiims act as styptics; 
it is therefore not real inoculation. It has been hinted to me 
that perhaps there may sometimes be se])tic matter on the 
tuber. Possibly this may be so, but it must be yery rare. 

• • • 

The acrid princi])le of the beena is antise])tic, and as in the 
case of moka-moka, which is allied to tlie caladiums, tlie juice 
is decidedly usefnl in cuts and wounds. 

We may say that beenas are medicines. If a man fails 
in his hunting and fishino-, there is somethino- wrong; he is 
weak and requires a "pick-me-up." This is at least part of 
the work of the beena, for it stinndates the man to put out 
all his energies and to overcome difficulties. They are the 
foundations of hope and trust. 

Beenas differ from charms and amulets in the fact that 
they are not worn by Indians; the^' are rubbed on the skin, 
with or without cutting, taken with food, or, as in the case 
of the nose beena, used as ordeals. The poor dog has to suf- 
fer much before it can become proficient as a hunter. The 
maiority are varieties of Caladium hicolor, those lovely 
])lants which are suffused with crimson, blotched and spotted 
with white, red and violet, or lined on the veins. They vary 
in shape from sagittate to ovate and generally ])eltate. On 
their forms and markings depend their "signatures." 

This idea of "signatures" seems to have belonged to 
primative man; it was prominent in Old World INIedicine. 
The idea, as formulated by the herbalist, was that every me- 
dicinal plant was marked in such a way that, if we could only 
perceive the sign, it would tell us its use: For example, the 
adder's-tongue evidently pointed to its virtue against snake 
poisoning, as does the labaria plant to our Indians. The 
"signature" is not always so plain as in these cases, but can 
often be discovered when a hint is given. INIany of the beenas 
haA'c suggestive forms and markings that might be thought 
purposive. 



TXniAX CHARMS 4-9:5 

III some tlu- IVoiit of IIk' aniiiiar.s lace is indicated, the 
lobes of the leaf reseinbliii^' the ears, then we have the spots 
and suffusions, the sheen and the form. A Xauthosma has a 
malformed leaf at the hack supposed to indicate the musk 
gland of the peccary foi* which it is the beena. Then we have 
^icoutiaa lu'llcJjorifolius ; the di<^itate leaves indicatin*^' the 
barbels of the fish foi* which it is used. Cipura pdludosd is 
either a medicine or a beena; its red bulb is sufficiently like 
a swollen and inflamed ear-lobe to account for its being an 
ear-ache remedy. 

JNlany of our frogs are prettily mai"ked and some of 
them are beenas. One of the most handsome is Phf/llome- 
dusa, a beena for the ta])ir, but I can find no signature in 
this or any other of the frogs. The tiny species that is swal- 
lowed alive is a general beena and recalls the fact that a live 
frog, was once administered in Eiu'ope for what was called 
"frog in the throat." Some insect larva that stings may per- 
haps be one of those moths which produce much irritation 
if accidentally touched, but I have never seen a specimen. 
This may be an ordeal rather than a beena, but there is no 
line of demarcation, for wasps, ants and scorpions are beenas 
as well as tests of coin-age and endurance. A man or even 
a boy would be ashamed to cry out when stung. 

It may be presumed that thei-e is a beena for every game 
animal, whether beast, bird or fish. The charm may perhaps 
generally be used to attract, but there is also an idea that 
beenas repel noxious creatures. If the snake beena is used 
it certainly cannot be supposed to attract a labaria, but ra- 
ther to protect from its bite. I have been shown a jaguar 
beena, but it is rather dou])tful. jNIy lists include specimens 
from Mr. Penard, Sm-inam (Carib) ; Dr. Roth (Arawak 
and Carib) ; and from the Upper Demerara (Arawak) as 
well as some from Creoles. In a few cases the same beena is 
reported as used for different animals in two or three locali- 
ties, but there is a general consensus in many cases. We 
should not expect absolute uniformity in different tribes. 



494 TROI'ICAI. WILD l.IFK IX BRITISH GUIANA 

The game beasts represented in our eoUections are mon- 
keys, ta])ir, water-haas, labba, aecoiiri, adoiiri, peccary (2 
species) , deer and armadillo; the fox and kibihee have beenas, 
but these may be intended to repel. Reptiles and turtles and 
their eggs, snakes and alligators; birds, powis, maam and 
macaws. There must be many other birds with special been- 
as, even if we admit that a general charm covers beasts, birds 
and fishes. Our beenas for fishes include ten species ; prob- 
ably there are many more. We may safely presume that we 
do not know a quarter of them ; yet I have thought it well 
to make a provisional list. The subject is so curious and 
interesting that possibly some people may be induced to go 
farther towards completing the collection. 

Bovianders, as may be expected, believe in the Indian 
beenas as do some of the Creoles in town who have adopted 
the notion. But they do not appear to scarify themselves 
for they are not so much inclined to test their own power of 
endurance. Love charms are in vogue, and even educated 
people have inquired for them. The good-luck seed (Cer- 
hera thevetia) , is in almost every market-woman's purse or 
wallet, but I cannot find that this is an Indian beena, al- 
though it is much used for belts and anklets in dances. It 
may be suggested that possibly anatto may be an Indian 
beena, although I cannot find that it is called so; it is, how- 
ever, supposed to be protective against insects and may, per- 
haps, when rubbed all over the skin, with oil, ward off chills. 

A very pretty caladium with white blotches is often 
grown outside a window in town ; this is the money or good- 
luck beena. The signature suggests silver, but it is supposed 
to be more efi^ectual if a sixpence or shilling be planted un- 
der the tubers. A man told me that he once, when a boy, 
stole the shilling his mother had planted to insure good-luck. 
There is another caladium with red and white spots which 
is also grown to promote good luck; it is fairly common. 
I cannot find that these are rubbed over the body; they are 



TXniAX CTIARMS 4-95 

more of the nature oi' eluinus, the possession of whieh is siilii- 
cient to insure success in any nndertaking. 

Bahita bleeders and gold diggers beheve in luck, and 
sonietinies carry beenas in the handkercliiefs tied around 
their waist. I never heard of inoculating or even rubbing 
on the skill in their eases. The wood-cutter, however, rubs 
a beena on his arms before commencing to haul timber and 
the women who carry loads of wood on their heads put a 
leaf under the ])ad. 1 have been told of a kind of bush-rope, 
used as a fighting beena; it is rubbed on the arms after scari- 
fying and is supposed to strengthen them and assist in 
gaining the victory. The woman whose husband is cutting- 
timber uses a beena if she wants him to come home. She 
keeps it in a bottle and shakes it, after which he is supposed 
to have an impulse to leave his work and resjiond to the call. 
As, however, Creoles have very little faith, the beenas are not 
so effectual with them as with the Indians. 

Love beenas are used by Creoles to some extent. They 
generally include the head of a hummingbird pounded and 
mixed with some perfume. It appears that the soft parts 
only are used after drying and these may be mixed with 
part of a male bat and a caladium similar to that used to 
invoke good-luck. It may be possible to find cases of suc- 
cess among the more ignorant, but we need not expect such 
certainty as with native Indians. 

Beenas suggest the beginnings of what we may consider 
primitive religion. First we have man's great struggle for 
success, which means mastery over other animals. He tried 
his best by inventing weapons and partially succeeded. But 
he was never uniformly successful, for although his bows, 
arrows and blow-pipe were in good order and nothing was 
faulty with his eyes, something might go wi'ong, and there 
Mould be no meat. He seems to have got the idea at a very 
early period that he could be assisted. How it first came is 
naturally very obscure; we see it as the result of long use 
of beenas. Possibly a caladium may have been found grow- 



4Mlf 



is 



fai c50-^>kji 



f-fi*- 



"V 






i-T "WV^TV 



"t^ 






T- 



-rhhtj: inii?!t iiisHii £fc]ii _ 



!:?!: L^E a;3 



»>.^s. 



^juadutw jjaafur- mir 3^rmlanBfiat£a: Tasdurr 

ir. aii£ 3?a»25Bn=az; 
^ftcewBT" . ..jmin. 



7 "we" 'Cir't 






ta. 



and. a mic 



\r. 






Jar- •■" 

Snakes. 

undum. 

All,. 

wm. 
- and thfiiT c£i^. 

V- ■' . 

At 

Fo^-is er Curass»>M- 









4-98 TROPICAL WILD LIFK IX inilTLSII GUIANA 

Kassi, (^l\h(tmdui schae) 

Caludium. 
Lukunaiini, {CicJila occllaris) 

Caladium. 
Gill).-ikt'r. {SrindcicJtfli i/.\ jxirkcri) 

Caladium. 
Barubata, i^Eigcnmainihi Z'irescens) 

Caladium. 
Cartabak, (^IMcii/iiiiis ?) 

Caladium. 
Kaweri {Iloplosternum littoi-ale) 

Acontias Jicllchorifoliu.s 
General, — To proniott- success with all game. 

Whip of Mauritia fibre: tiny frog swallowed alive; larvae. 
Shooting — To help the aim ; not to miss. 

Caladium. 
Huntsman — To assist in traeking. 

Caladium. 
Huntsman — to prevent his getting lost. 

Caladium. 
Huntsman — To increase his courage. 

Caladium. 
Huntsman — Against snakes and other noxious animals. 

Several Aroids and Marantaceae. 
Boy at ])uberty — To promote general success and as ordeals. 

Stinging ants, wasps, and scorpions. 
Paiman — Preparatory ordeals. 

To eat only jacamars and drink tobacco water. 
Dogs — To imjjrove their scent. 

Caladiums ; also offal of game animals; gland of peccary for that 
animal, rubbed on lacerated muzzle. 
Love, Man. 

T)ioscorea sp. 
Love, Woman 

Several Caladiums. 
Love, to retain, also to drive away. 

Caladium. 
Courtship, to promote iiappiness. 

Caladium. 
Courtshi]). to gain favor from ))arents. 

E II tad a pol ifshichi/a. 
Marriage, for children, woman. 

Calatliea sp. and birds-nest fungus. 
Marriage, to use after the birth of a child. 

Calatlwa s)). 
Children, to make Ihem teachable. 

Caladium. 



INDIAN CHARMS 41)9 

Medicinal, Against pains in general and lor the eyes and ears. 

Cipura palndosa, etc. 
Medicinal — to increase the appetite. 

Caladium. 
Mental, to keep the memory, or retain or restore. 

Calathea. 
Friendshij). to promote sociability. 

Caladium. 
Friendship, to bring back absent friends. 

Caladium. 
Friendship, to increase. 

Caladium. 
Enmity, to bring on a disturbance. 

Caladium, 
Enmity, to bring trouble. 

Caladium. 
Enmity, to gain success in a blood-feud. 

Caladium. 
Water-mamma or Manatee, to conciliate ; against dangers on the water. 

Hippeastrum equestre. 
White man. to gain favor in a court of justice. 

Calathea. 
Rain, to use in a drought. 

Pedilanthus tithymaloides. 
Provision ground, to insure fertility. 

Xanthosma. 



IXDEX 



Accdiiri, 465 

beeiia for, 496 
Aeontias hellehorifolius, 493 
Adoiiri, 46,5 

bei'na for, 496 
A(jeronia feronia, 483 
Agouti, see Aecoiiri 
Alligators, beena for, 497 

forms of, 289-90, 470-1 

nesting, ■?83-9 
Ani, sniootii-hilled, 67, 97 

iiill, S19 

digitis, 31:3-14 

femur, 318 

ptervlosis, 307-9 

tarso-metatarsus. 319 

tihio-tarsus, 31S 

wing growth, 314-18 

wing pads, 309-12 
Anopiop.t riifif/uhi. 228 
Ant-catcher, rufous-fronted, nest of, 

228-31 
Ants, 48.5-6 

Appun, Carl Ferdinand, 39-41 
Arapnhna (figns, 481 
Arawona, 481 
Armadillo, beena for, 497 
A teles j)anisciis, 466 

B 

Bartica, geology, 4,5-9 

history, 31-7 

location, 43 
Bats, 468-9 
Beckett, Mr., -26 
Beena, aquatic, 490-1 

game, 494 

general use, 488, 493-3, 495-6 

good luck, 494-5 

love, 489-90, 495 

medium, 492 

sociability, 488-9 

specific uses, 496-9 
Black-bird, red-breasted, 63 
Bush-bird, cinereous, nest of, 227-8 
Butterflies, 483-4, 485 



Cacique, giant, 96-7 

red-ba<'kcd, 95 

yellow backed, 349-50 
C'liriiKi tiid.trhdia, 472 
CaUuliiitii hirolor, 492 
Cuprimuh/iis nlqri.ircns, 219 
Captivity! birds, 123-6 
('.■i])ybara, beena for, 496 
CHti)ird, ])inioii dcvclojMncnt, 356 

wing development, 348-9 
Cecropia, 57 
Ccrbera fhepetia. 494 
Chftprn&pclia fnlporoti. 213 
Charms, see Beena 
Clicckbird, 67 
Chubb, Charles, 42 
f'ipiira pnhtdnsa. 493 
Clementi, Hon. and Mrs. Cecil, 26 
Climate, 29, 69-70, 457-9 
Coati, 464-5 

beena for, 497 
Cock-of-the-Rock, 125 
CornUus caninus. 471 
Cotinga. ]iom])a(l()ur, 125 
Courtship, of birds, 115 
Crake, Cayenne, nest of, 216-217 
Crcriscmt viridis, 216 
Cunningham, Mr., -2Q 
Curassow, beena for, 497 
Curlew, Esquimo, 63, 99 
Cynnerpes cyaneus, 241 



Deer. 466 

beena for, 497 
Dendrocygna diftcoJor. 472 

rldiiata, 472 
Dogs, beena for, 498 
Dove, grey ground, 65 

red mountain, nest of, 213-15 

talpacoti ground, 65 
nest rtf, 213 
Duraquara, beena for, 498 



Eel, electric, 481 

Egerton, Sir Walter and Lady, 26 



502 



INDEX 



Egret, American, 6,) 

Snowy, fio 
Eigenmann, Carl, 4-1 
Elania, yellow-breasted, 67 
Elect rnphoruH ehrtricv.i. 481 
Empidnnoinnn rariv.i, 22.5 
Eumenes, huff, fond storage, 384 

larva, 384-,J 

nest, 383-4 

pupation, 38,5 
red, food storage, 379 

larva, 379-81 

nest, 376-9 

]iu])ation, 381 
Eiirop!/(/in helins, 477 



Eish, beena for, 497-8 

Flies, 486 

Elvcateher, oilv, nest of, 223-5 

streaked, 67" 

varied, 67 

varied streaked, 235 
pterylosis of, 326-7 
Food, of jungle birds, 108-10 

of mammals. 111 
Fox, savannah, 464 

beena for, 497 
Frere, Mr., 26 



Gnleoscoptes raroUnensis, 348, 356 

Geotryfion montanci, 213-15 

Goat-sueker, giant, 65 

God-bird, 67 

Grackle, little boat-tailed, 63 

Grosbeak, brown-breasted pygmy, 

nest" of, 237-8 
Guan, little, 67 
beena for, 497 

H 

Harrison, Professor, 26 
Hayes, Mrs., 26 
Heron, agami, 65 

eocoi, 65 

Guiana green, 63 

development of wing of, 345-6 

little blue. 65 
Hilhouse, William, 39 
Hills Estate, development of, 52-60 

location, 31, 43 
Hinterland, birds of, 472-80 

climatic conditions, 457-9 

general nature, 454-6 

fishes and crustaceans of, 481-3 

how reached, 459-61 

insects of, 483-7 



mammals of, 462-9 

reptiles of, 469-72 
Hoatzin, 152 

breeding season, 172 

development of wing, 342-3 
of }iinion, 353-4 

distribution. 170-1 

ecology, 156-60 

flight," 156 

nest, 160-3 

young, 16,3-70, 172-82 
Honey-creeper, blue, nest of, 241-3 

I 

Icterus chri/socephdlus, 243 

croconotus, 478 

viih/driif. 478 
Iworo, 463 



Jacana, spur-winged, 63 

diastataxy, 299-300 

feather growth, 29.5-9 

pterylosis, 293-5 

spurs, 302-3 

toes and claws, 300-2 

variations, 303-5 

wing, 305-6 
Jaguar, 462-3 

beena for, 497 
Jungle, abundance of life in, 73-6 

dangers of, 70-3 

ecological conditions, 80-5 

odors, 89 

seasons in, 76-9 279-282 

sounds, 89-90 

strata of life in, 85-8 

temperature, 69-70 



Kalacoon House, daybreak chorus, 

272-9 

description of, 26-9, 271-2 

location, 43, 45, 52 

temperature, 29, 69-70 
King-bird, grey-headed, 67 
Kingfisher, great green, 65 

great grey, 65 

pygmy, 65 

spotted, 65 
Kiskadee, Guiana, jiinion develop- 
ment. 350 

pterylosis, 325-6 

wing development, 350 
Kyk-over-al, 31-34 



Eabba, 465 
beena for, 496 



INDEX 



503 



Lachesis bilineatus, 471 

depends, concerning birds, 1 Ki-lS 

LepiaeUuin cerripex, ■I'SG 

LciirdUpid muslca, 231 

r^iikaiumi, 481 

Lutrn brasiliensis, 467 

M 

Ma;im. 476 

beena for, 497 
Macaw, beena for, 497 
Maipiiri, 467 
Manakin, Orange-headed, nest of, 

334-7 
Manatee, beena for. 491, 499 
Martin, grav-breasted, nesting, 60, 

328-341 
pinion development, 357-8 
wing development, 350-1 
purple, 63, 99 
Marudi, beena for, 497 
McConnell, James, 42 
^lionectes oleaqineus, 273 
Monkey, 466-7' 
beena for, 497 

N 

Xighthawk, diiskv, external charac- 
ters, 324-5 

nest of, 219-21 
pterylosis of embryo, 321-3 
white-necked, 65 
N'unan, Hon. J. J., 26 



Ocelot, 463 

Opisthncomus honzin, 342, 353 
Opossum, 466 
Oriole, black-throated, 67 
moriche, 60, 67, 100 
nest of, 243-6 
Oryzobonis angolensis brev!rostri/i. 



237 



rroDsirostris, 237 
Otter, 467 



Parrakeet, 97-9 

blue-winged, 343-4 
Passion flower, 59 
Peccary, 465 

beena for, 496 
Penal Settlement, 31, 43 
Perai, as food, 365 

attacks on man, 361-2 
on other creatures, 362-4 

feeding habits, 360-1, 365 

methods of catching, 366-7 

range, 359-60 



Peters Mine Co., 43 
Pigeon, grey-fronted, 67 

rufous, 67 
Pipra niireohi durfola. 234 
Pildiu/iis mdpliurdt it.i, 325, 350, 355 
Pithy s erythromchis, 478 
PoerUonetta hahnmensis. ■i7'3 
Poor-me-one, 65 
Porzann albirollis, 126, 215 
Powis, beena for, 497 
Prnqne cfHth/hca. 350, 357 
Protective coloration, 73, 88, 104-8 
Psnphin crepitans, 247, 344, 354 
Ptfrofflnssiis (irticdri, 347, 356 
Ptcroiiiira saiidbachi, 467 



Quadrille bird, 102 
nest of, 231-4 



Rail, cayenne, 63 

white-necked, 63, 125 
nest of, 215-16 
Relation to man, birds, 118-22. 
Rodwav, James, 26 
Roosting, birds. 95-9, 112-15 
Riipicola rupicohi, 125 



Sandpiper, solitary, 63, 99 

spotted, 63, 99 
Sceliphron fistulare, 415 
Schomburgk, Richard, 38-9 
Seasons, 76-9, 279-82 
Seed-eater, black-headed, nest of. 239 

chestnut-bellied, nest of, 239 
SimuUum amazonicum, 486 

guianense, 486 
Snake-bird, 65 
Snakes, of hinterland, 471-2 

beena for. 497 
Snipe. Cayenne, 63 
Sociability, among birds. 100-4, 110-11 
Sparrow-hawk, four-banded, 65 
Spinctail, brown, 67 

yellow-throated, 67 
Sporophila boirvronoiden, 239 

natftnneiventris, 237, 239 
Sting-ray, 482 
Sun-bittern, 477 



Tanager, black, 67 

blue, 60 

lesser white-shouldered. 67 

palm, 60 
Tapir, 467 
Tern, great-billed, 65 



504 



INDEX 



'/'linrtiiinituiiH'.-i i/ltnirits, 227 
'1 iiiaiiiou, classification, 255-6 
general, 10-11, 253-5 
Gniann jii-eat, color, 2n'.i 
court shi]), 25!) 
eggs, 263 
habits, 258-9 
molt, 264-5 
nest, 260-3 
parasites, 263-4 
\()icc, 2.)f) 
pileatcd. color, 268 
food, 269 
molt, 269-70 
nest, 269 
voice, 268 
sleeping habits, 257-8 
tarsi, 256-8 
variegated, color, 269 
food, 269 
molt, 269-70 
nest, 269 
voice, 268 
Tody-flvcatcher, grev, 67 

spotted, 67 
Toucan, ca])tivity, 183 
early knowledge of, 183 
Guiana species, 185-7 
nesting habits, black-necked ara- 

cari, 199-207 
green aracari, 187-91 
Guiana toucanet, 191-2 
red-hilled, 192-9 

sulphur-and-white-breasted, 207-9 
'rnini])eter, color. 249-251 

develojmient of pinion, 354-5 

wing, 344-5 
food, 248-9 

general habits, 247-8, 476 
growth of plumage, 251-2 
jjerching, 249 
young, notes, 249 
Tri/pn.rifloii h'lirofrtrh'nmi . 401 
Turtle, 469-70 

heena for, 497 
Tiirnimi.s-riis arcr. 221 
Tyrantlet, Guiana, nest of, 221-3 



Vampire, 152-3 

Vicissi, 472 

^'oicc, among social l)irds, 101-4 



W 



Warapainia, 481 
AVarbler, yellow. 
Was]), i)lue hunt 



67, 99 
"CSS, food 



storage, 
425-30 



'.arva, 430-2 

nest, 424-5 

jnipation, 432-5 
forest shell, larva. 1(19-13 

nest, 407-9 

l)arali/,ation of victims, IKi-l ] 

pujiation, 412-14 
one-banded daidier, 

food storage, 420 

larva, 420-2 

nest, 415-20 

j)U)iation. 422-3 
])arali/.ation. of crickets. I.39-1.1 

roaches, 439-41 

spiders, 436-9 
]K)tter, food storage. 379, 384 

larva, 379-81, 384-5 
nest, 376-9, 383-4 

l)uiiation, 381, 385 
l)upation, controlled, 443-50 



white-footed, food 

larva, 403-5 

nest, 401-2 

imjiation, 404-5 
Whitely, Henry, 41 
Wing, developinent of, in 



storage. 402-3 



cacicpie. 
349-50 



catl)ird. 348-9 

Guiana green heron, 345-6 

hoatzin, 342-3 

kiskadee, 350 

parrakeet, 343-4 

toucan. 347-8 

trumpeter. 344-5 
Withers, Mr. and Mrs.. 2'), 2{], 43, 51 
Wren, Guiana house, 61 



XiphoIciKt junilren, 125 

Y 

Yawarri, 99 
Yellow-legs, 99 

Z 

Zethncriihis Jititnotii/!, 407 



'^ 



M 



'^- % 



Ub 



PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE 
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET