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Prof. Lpye E. Miner 




Curator of Birds in the American Museum of 
Natural History. 


With Keys to the Species, Descriptions of their 
Plumages, Nests, etc., and their Distribution and 
Migrations. With over 200 Illustrations. I2mo. 
POCKET EDITION, flexible covers, $3.50. 

BIRD-LIFE. A Guide lo the Study of Our Common Birds. 
POPULAR EDITION in colors, $2.00 net. 

Chapters oil ihc Ouifii :u:d Methods of the Bird Photographer. 
Illustra'ed with over 100 Photographs from Nature 
by the Author. 121110. Cloth, $1.75. 


With Contributions from other Ornithologists and 
24 full-page Colored Plates illustrating every 
Species, from Drawings by L. A. Fuertes and B. 
Horsfall, and Half-tones of Nests and Eggs. 8vo. 
Cloth, $ 3.00 net. 


Illustrated by 250 Photographs from Nature by 
the Author. 8vo. Cloth, $3.00 net. 






















Map Indicating Localities Visited 


During the past seven years, with the assistance of artist and 
preparateur, I have devoted the nesting season of birds to collecting 
specimens and making field studies and photographs on which to base a 
series of what have been termed " Habitat Groups " of North Ameri- 
can birds for the American Museum of Natural History. 

These groups are designed to illustrate not only the habits and 
haunts of the birds shown, but also the country in which they live. The 
birds and, in most instances, their nests and young, are therefore 
placed in a facsimile reproduction, containing from sixty to one hun- 
dred and sixty square feet of the locality in which they are found, and 
to this realistic representation of their habitat is added a background, 
painted from nature, and so deftly joined to the foreground, that it is 
difficult to distinguish where one ends and the other begins. (See the 
photographs of groups on pages, 62, 111, 233, 243, 291.) 

In selecting the subjects for these groups, not alone birds, but the 
country they inhabit has been taken into consideration; it being desired 
to have the series of great panoramic backgrounds, some of which are 
twenty-eight feet in length, portray not only the haunts of certain 
American birds, but America as well. Characteristic shore, marsh, 
prairie, plain, desert, forest, and mountain scenes present the major 
features of American physiography, and each is executed with an ac- 
curacy which gives to the groups a geographical as well as an ornitho- 
logical value. 

Some subjects were in nearby localities, which were easily visited; 
others were in remote places which were reached with more or less diffi- 
culty. In some cases an entire season was given to gathering the mater- 
ial for a single group that of the Flamingos, for example; in others, 
several groups were secured in a single season, the Bahaman Man-o'- 


War Birds, for instance, being obtained in April, the Carolina Egrets 
in May, the Saskatchewan Geese in June, and the Alberta Ptarmigan in 
July, 1907. 

No ornithologist, I imagine, has ever pursued his calling with 
greater pleasure and satisfaction than I have experienced in gathering 
the material and data for these groups of birds. Not only has it been 
my fortune to behold some of the most interesting and remarkable 
sights in the world of birds, but it has been my privilege to have them 
reproduced in so admirable a manner that they convey to others a 
wholly adequate conception of the scene itself. 

I desire now further to perpetuate these experiences and studies by 
telling the story of the various expeditions of which the groups were 
the objects, adding such information concerning the birds observed as 
seems worthy of record, and illustrating the whole with many photo- 
graphs from nature and a number of the groups themselves. 

It is a pleasure to acknowledge here my indebtedness to the co-la- 
borers who have been associated with me in this seven years' task; to 
Mrs. Chapman, always my first field assistant, to Hermon C. Bumpus, 
whose suggestions and advice have been invaluable, to Louis Agassiz 
Fuertes, artist and tried camp-mate, to Carlos Hittell, Bruce Horsfall 
and Hobart Nichols, artists, to J. D. Figgins, preparateur, to H. C. 
Denslow, Herbert Lang, and E. W. Smith, taxidermists. Without the 
cooperation of these efficient fellow workers the undertaking in which 
this book has its origin, could not have been brought to a successful 

Several of the following chapters have appeared in "The Century," 
"Scribner's," "Country Life in America," "Outing," and "Bird-Lore," 
but the greater number have not before been published. 


American Museum of 

Natural History. 






The Ways of Jays 5 

A Morning with Meadowlarks 15 

Bird-Nesting with Burroughs 20 

A Nighthawk Incident 29 



Gardiner's Island 38 

Cobb's Island 63 


Pelican Island 83 

The Florida Great Blue Heron and the Water Turkey 113 

The American Egret 123 

Cuthbert Rookery 1 35 


The Flamingo 155 

The Egg Birds 1Q2 

The Boobv and the Man-o'-War Bird . . . 200 




The Prairie Hen 229 

A Golden Eagle's Nest 236 

Cactus Desert Bird-Life 242 


The Coastal Mountains at Piru 259 

The Coast at Monterey 267 

The Farallones 274 

The San Joaquin Valley at Los Banos 286 

Lower Klamath Lake 29* 

The Sierras 305 


The Prairies 315 

The Plains 337 

The Mountains 350 

The White Pelican 367 


Impressions of English Bird- Life 391 




I earnestly hope that the photographs , in this volume 
will so effectively illustrate the part the camera may play 
in definitely recording facts in bird-life, that they will stim- 
ulate fresh interest in the subject of bird photography. To 
further this end I add here a word to what I have said on 
the outfit of the bird photographer in ' ' Bird Studies with a 

So far as cameras and lens are concerned, I have found 
no reason to change the advice offered in that volume. I 
still use a reflecting camera of the "Graflex" type, and also 
a tripod camera, each with a bellows length of fifteen inches, 
and carrying plates four by five inches. 

With about twenty exceptions all the pictures in this 
book were made with the lens described in " Bird Studies 
with a Camera ' '. It is a Bausch & Lomb Convertible Series 
Vila No. 10, F. 6. 3., with a focal length of eight inches, the 
component lenses having each a focal length of fourteen 
inches. Although these single lenses are rated with a speed 
of only F. 12. 5., I have found no difficulty in making satis- 
factory pictures of birds in flight with an exposure of one- 
thousandth of a second, the lens being wide open. 

The single lens will not, of course, do the work of the 
doublet and, if one can afford a No. 19 lens of the same 
series with a focal length of thirteen and one-eighth inches, 
the components being each of twenty -three and one-eighth 
inch focus, he will materially increase his chances of suc- 
cess ; but were I to be restricted to one lens and one camera, 
I should take the lens first mentioned, and a camera of the 
reflecting type. Seventy-five per cent, of the pictures in 
this book were made with an outfit of this kind. 


Of far more importance than the kind of camera or lens 
is the question of a blind which will enable one, unseen, to 
get and stay within range of one 's subject. I frankly con- 
fess that when writing "Bird Studies with a Camera", I 
did not appreciate the importance of this matter. If one 
would study the habits of wild creatures under natural con- 
ditions, it is absolutely essential that they be unalarmed by 
your presence. The observer who is content with mental 
impressions and note-book descriptions, may often find 
cover whence, with the aid of field-glasses, he can see to 
advantage without the object of his study being aware of 
his proximity. But he who besides written descriptions 
would also record his observations in that more graphic, 
communicable form of which photography admits, must be 
much nearer his subject and must have cover from the shel- 
ter of which he may manipulate his camera without being 
detected. In short, he must have an artificial blind. It is 
the first requisite of such a blind that it be easily transport- 
able ; it should also be inconspicuous and so simple in con- 
struction that it may be quickly erected. The result of my 
first attempt (1900) to make a structure which would fill 
all these requirements, is shown on page 7, in the study of 
the Blue Jays. It was a ridiculously complicated affair of 
upriarht sticks and iron hoops, around which was placed 
a canvas painted in the somewhat distant semblance of 
bark. Ths affair was supposed to be an imitation tree 
trunk, and illustrates how far one may be carried on the 
wrong road by a false premise. The fundamental error in 
this case was the belief that the blind must be like some 
object in nature. Asa matter of fact, this is not necessary. 
It should be as inconspicuous as possible and it is often 
more quickly accepted if it be partly disguised with bushes 
or vines. But its chief virtue is its immovability. It may 
excite suspicion for a time, but its inanimateness finally 
wins and, to the birds, it becomes a part of the landscape to 
be perched on if convenient. 



This at least has been my experience with the blind from 
the shelter of which more than one-half the pictures in this 
volume were made. In brief, this blind is an umbrella 
opened within a bag long enough to fall to the ground. Its 
parts may be described in detail as follows : 

The Umbrella.- The umbrella employed in making an 
observation blind is known to the trade as a "sign" um- 
brella. It agrees with the normal variety in size but differs 
from it in having a large hole in the 
centre. This permits a current of 
air to pass through the blind a 
matter of the first importance when 
one spends hours in the little struc- 
ture on beach or marsh, where it is 
fully exposed to the sun. The 
" stick" of this umbrella is a metal 
tube without the usual wooden 

The Supporting Rod. The um- 
brella is supported by two brass 
tubes each of the same length as the 
umbrella, or thirty-two inches. The 
larger is shod with a steel point, by 
the insertion of a small cold chisel 
or nail-punch, which is brazed in 
position. The rod can then be 
readily driven into the ground. At 
the upper end a thumb-screw is 
placed. The smaller tube should enter the larger snugly 
and should, in turn, be just large enough to receive the um- 
brella-rod, which will enter it as far as the spring "catch." 
The height of the umbrella may, therefore, be governed by 
the play of the smaller tube in the larger, while the thumb- 
screw will permit one to maintain any desired adjustment ; 
as one would fix the height of a music rack. 

The Covering. If the blind is to be used about home, a 

The Umbrella 
and Supporting Rods 


light denim may be employed; if it is to see the harder ser- 
vice of travel and camp-life, a heavier grade of the same 
material will be found more serviceable. In the former case 
the denim may be sewed to the edge of the umbrella, which 
then has only to be opened and placed in the brass tube, the 
latter having been thrust into the ground, when the blind is 
erected ; an operation requiring less than a minute. 

When travelling, it seems more desirable not to attach 
the walls of the blind to the umbrella. The covering then 
consists of several strips of material sewed together to 
make a piece measuring ten and a half feet wide by six and 
a half feet high. The two ends of this piece are sewed to- 
gether at what then becomes the top of the blind, for about 
two feet. The unjoined portion below, becomes the door of 
the blind. Openings should be cut in the opposite side for 
the lens and for observation. A strong draw cord is then 
run about the top edge of the cloth so that, before inserting 
and opening the umbrella, one can draw it up as one would 
the neck of a bag, until the opening corresponds in size to 
that of the umbrella. The draw cord should be long enough 
to serve as a guy or stay. This covering places less strain 
on the umbrella and may be packed in smaller space than 
one which is sewed to the umbrella, and, when in camp, it 
may be used to sleep on, as a covering, as a shelter tent or 
in a variety of ways. 

The color of the umbrella should be leaf-green. The 
covering should be sand- or earth-colored and should be 
dyed leaf -green on its upper third whence it should gradu- 
ally fade to the original cloth color at about the center. 
Such a color scheme conforms to Abbott Thayer's law that 
animals are darkest where they receive the most light, and 
palest where they are most in shadow ; and renders the blind 
much less conspicuous than if it were uniformly green or 
gray. It is not amiss to run belts of braid about the cover- 
ing, sewing them to it at intervals and thus forming loops 
in which, when desired, reeds or branches may be thrust. 


In erecting the blind, if circumstances permit, it is desir- 
able to place the ' ' door ' ' toward the wind to insure better 
ventilation. When the situation is exposed, an additional 
stay or two may be required. If the camera box is not 
strong enough to sit on, a collapsible, artist's camp-stool 
should be added to the outfit. One cannot spend half a day 

The Umbrella Blind at a Warbling Vireo's Nest 
The covering is here secured to the edge of an ordinary 
umbrella, lacking the essential ventilation hole. 
(Shoal Lake, Man., June, 1901. See p. 319.) 

in such close quarters and observe and record to advantage 
unless one is comfortably seated. 

Within the shelter of this ' ' cloak of invisibility, ' ' I have 
passed the most enjoyable and, I hope, profitable hours of 
my life as a field naturalist. There is a supreme and whole- 
some pleasure in feeling that one has reached a point of 
vantage from which the drama of animal life may be studied 
without the performers knowing that they are under obser- 
vation. Wholly aside from the often thrilling novelty of 



the experience and the thought that, even if unconsciously, 
one has been accepted as a part of the surroundings, there 
is a well-founded satisfaction in realizing that one is making 
an actual contribution to our knowledge of animal life, not 
based on the study of creatures in captivity, or of those 
placed under greater or less restraint by fear, but of ani- 
mals in their native haunts, living their lives under abso- 
lutely natural conditions. 


The Umbi 


The cover is here detachable. In addition to the guys, stones have 
been placed on the bottom of the cover to help stay the blind 
in this exposed situation. (Gardiner's Island, June, 1908. The 
pictures on pages 56 and 57 were made from the blind in this 







The nature of the work for which, in the main, the field 
studies herein recorded have been made, has led me to the 
more remote parts of our country ; but I should convey a 
wholly wrong impression of the possibilities of bird study, 
if I permitted this volume to appear without saying a word 
of the opportunities which lie within the reach of the local 
bird student. 

Continuous and definitely directed observation is the 
secret of success in the study of bird-life ; and only that 
permanency of residence which permits us to keep a close 
watch on the species, through the year, and on the individ- 
ual through the nesting season, will enable us to write an 
adequate history of its life. 

I would emphasize the necessity of specialization. It may 
almost be said with truth that most of our knowledge of 
birds has been acquired by accident, so haphazard have been 
our methods of study. But, for this very reason, there is 
abundant opportunity for the student who, not content with 
a general knowledge of birds, determines to make himself an 
authority on some particular bird, preferably the one most 
abundant in his own neighborhood. If he does justice to his 
subject, he will never lack an outlet for his ornithological 

As has been intimated, circumstances have deprived me 
of the privilege of acquiring a more intimate knowledge of 
my own home birds and I cannot, therefore, present that type 
of bird biography which considers the bird throughout the 
year or during the season of its presence. Nevertheless, it 

" With complete composure, perched beside her nest 

(Page 9) 


is hoped that the sketches which are here given, will show 
what interesting facts are to be gathered at our doorsteps. 

The story of the Blue Jays, for example, reveals as much 
of the bird mind as any experience I have had with birds. 
The little Meadowlark study required greater effort, for a 
time, than any other described in this volume and the results 
were valued proportionately. The photographic record of 
two days at ' ' Slabsides ' ' shows what interesting results 
may be obtained both easily and quickly. In short, to see 
old birds in a new light one has only to look at them through 
a camera. 

Brown Thrasher 


If a pair of Blue Jays, . whose home I chanced to find 
near mine, could relate to us the peculiar adventures that 
befell them one June day, there would be no excuse for my 
assumption of the office of scribe. But Jays, in spite of their 
powers of expression, use only the language of their kind,, 
and if the tale is to be told, it must be by an interpreter. 

Birds possess so many of man's mental attributes that 
the sympathetic student of their habits often, unconsciously 
perhaps, endows them with the mind of man entire, when, 
using the human parallel, the explanation of their every act 
is merely a matter of ingenuity or imagination. The result 
is often interesting, but quite as often misleading; good 
fiction, but poor natural history. 

Now, the Blue Jay holds close kinship with the Raven, 
Jackdaw, Crow, and Rook, birds which, if classification were 
based on mental development alone, would, without dissent, 
be accorded a perch on the topmost bough of the avian tree 
of life. In attempting to assign reasons for a Jay's actions, 
the ornithologist is beset by unusual temptations, which, if 
it be the human side of bird life that appeals to him, he will 
find difficulty in resisting. 

In the present instance, however, the facts in the case are 
irrefutably recorded by the camera, and the reader may 
accept or reject their explanation according to his belief or 
disbelief in the intelligence of individual animals. Facts 
like these emphasize the value of the camera as an aid to the 
student of nature. How comparatively unconvincing is the 
work of the artist, no matter how skilful his attempt to give 
form to something he has never seen. It is also to be noted, 
how attempts to photograph birds and beasts of necessity 
increase our intimacy with them. This, it is true, is not 


work for the stroller and the dilettante naturalist, whose 
observations are made chiefly from the wayside, but for the 
earnest, enthusiastic student of nature, whose ardor in pur- 
suit of her secrets is intensified by the possibility of actually 
capturing them, in such definite, graphic form that they 
become at once tangible additions to the sum of human 

Bird photography presents a fascinating but most diffi- 
cult field for expenditure of effort. The beginner sees the 
successful results of another's work, and, knowing nothing 
of the failures, determines to ' ' take bird pictures. ' ' The 
immediate outcome is doubtless a sacrifice of photographic 
material and also of bird life, as too great freedom with the 
nest surroundings, in the desire to secure better lighting, 
induces the bird to desert her home. 

The would-be photographer, then, should master the tech- 
nique of photography on such patiently immovable objects 
as houses, barns, or bridges, which will give fresh ' ' sit- 
tings ' ' when former ones fail, and then, when the problems 
of exposure, developing, etc., have been solved, he may go 
afield for wilder game. 

One may pet or patronize, according to one 's nature, a 
Chipping Sparrow, Bluebird, or Phoebe, but he is indeed 
well coated with self-esteem who does not feel a sense of 
inferiority in the presence of a Jay. He is such a shrewd, in- 
dependent, and aggressive creature that one is inevitably led 
to the belief that he is more of a success as a bird than most 
men are as men. Conspicuous by voice and action during 
the fall and winter, when other birds are quietest, he 
becomes silent when other birds are most vocal. If he has a 
love song it is reserved for the ear of his mate. At this sea- 
son, he even controls his fondness for owl-baiting, and with 
it his vituperative gifts. 

The Eobin, the Catbird, and the Thrasher seem eager to 
betray the location of their nest to every passer-by, but the 
Blue Jay gives no evidence of the site of his habitation by 


being seen in its vicinity. He is not common in my region 
during the summer, and, connecting this fact with his secre- 
tive habits, I rejoiced with a bird-lover's joy, when syste- 
matic search resulted in the discovery of a Blue Jay 's nest 
five feet from the ground, on the south side of a young pine 
tree. A better location from a bird-photographer's point of 
view, the birds could not have chosen. 

The Blind and the Nest-Tree 

The surroundings affording no opportunity for conceal- 
ment from which the birds might be observed, an artificial 
bower of canvas, painted to resemble tree-bark, stretched 
over a light frame and liberally draped with poison-ivy 
vines, was erected within ten feet of the nest. 

It was on the morning of June 3, that I set up my camera 
in this none too large or too cool shelter, with the object of 
recording somewhat of the home life of Jays. An hour 
passed. Occasionally a Jay's voice was heard from the 


neighboring wood ; one might have thought that the nest in 
the pine was deserted, had not five gaping mouths been tre- 
mulously raised at intervals in the supplicating attitude of 
the young birds ' prayer for food. 

At the end of an hour and a half, one of the parents sud- 
denly appeared at the back of the nest. He, or she, was evi- 
dently suspicious. Who had parted the boughs that had 
previously concealed their home 1 ? What was this mass of 
disarranged vines at their threshold? Clearly something 
was wrong, and after a moment's stay, she if she it was- - 
slipped quietly out of the tree. Her alert but cautious man- 
ner seemed indicative of unexpected powers of discrimina- 
tion and self-control. She did not voice her undoubte-l 
alarm at the changes observed, but without audible note, 
departed as noiselessly as she had come. 

Even more surprising were the actions of the young 
birds. That they were exceedingly hungry was beyond 
question. Doubtless the parents, under normal conditions, 
visited the nest every few minutes, and the frequency with 
which the yellow-lined mouths had been opened during the 
preceding hour and a half, intimated an approaching fam- 
ine. Still, under the stimulus of conditions which must have 
strongly suggested food, not one of the blind, naked little 
creatures gave evidence of life. It was an impressive exhi- 
bition of instinctive obedience to some, unheard by me, com- 
mand. In the parent's absence, however, although without 
the incentive of her form above them, they showed no hesi- 
tation in making their wants known. Hence we may con- 
clude either that the parents could not communicate with 
the young from a distance, or that the presence of one of the 
adults was necessary to insure obedience. 

Believing that the Jays would not resume their family 
cares, I determined to experiment with them, and taking a 
mounted Blue Jay, I wired it to a limb below the nest. Blue 
Jays are pugnacious, and doubtless their anger at the in- 
trusion of this stranger would outweigh their fear of the 


bower, when I should witness the manner in which Jays 
evict an unwelcome guest. It was well that my reputation 
as a bird-student was not staked on the result. Scarcely 
had I returned to the bower, when one of the Jays reached 
the nest, and, to my complete astonishment, apparently paid 
ho attention to the mounted bird, but at once carefully fed 
her young, whose eagerness now added to my wonder at 
their previous self-restraint. One visit, during which sev- 
eral, and perhaps all, of the young were fed, strangely 
enough satisfied their hunger, when the parent, with com- 
plete composure, perched beside her nest and slightly open- 
ed her bill, as birds sometimes do when at rest, forming as 
beautiful a picture of bird life as artist or naturalist could 
well desire. So completely had the mental attitude of the 
bird altered, that my movements in the bower were wholly 
ignored, and it was actually necessary to walk up to the 
nest-tree before she could be induced to leave her perch. 

What had occasioned so complete a change in the bird 's 
actions 1 Possibly it was not the same parent that had 
visited the nest so hurriedly ; but if this one of the pair was 
so much the tamer, why had it not come to the nest during 
the hour and a half after I had entered the bower? Could 
the dummy bird below have been mistaken for its mate by 
the bird that perched so composedly above? It is true that 
the second one of the pair did not appear ; but as neither of 
them went far from the nest, it is more than probable that 
the absent mate was within sight and sound during the 
whole proceeding. 

"We may resort to explanatory theories more or less 
plausible. The humanizer of birds might ask us to believe 
that the dummy Jay resembled a relative or dear friend of 
the nest-owners, from whom they were expecting a call that 
morning, though to my mind, the incident proved that the 
Jay could not distinguish the difference between a living 
bird and a poorly mounted one of its own species. However, 
be the explanation what it may, there can be no doubt that 



the presence of that frowzy, stuffed Jay was wholly satisfac- 
tory and reassuring to the bird at the nest. 

If these birds received one of their own kind so gracious- 
ly, how would they treat a Screech Owl, a bird which, as far 
as human mind can discern, is the common enemy of all 
Jays? The dummy Jay was therefore removed, and a 
mounted Screech Owl was securely fastened about two feet 
from the nest. The Jays were not visible, but that they 
were watching my movements from the neighboring wood, 

was shown by the tense 
note of alarm they uttered 
almost as soon as the Owl 
was posed a high, shrill 
call, differing from any I 
had previously heard. 

The moment I entered 
my bower, a Jay came to 
the nest-tree, screaming 
in alarm at the uncon- 
scious, yellow-eyed bunch 
of feathers so dangerous- 
ly near its offspring. Soon 
it was joined by its mate, 
and with uncontrolled 
fear and excitement they 
flew from limb to limb, 
but, much to my surprise, 
made no attempt to attack 
or even threaten the Owl 
and, after a minute or two of wild flitting and calling, they 
returned to the woods. Surely this was enough to destroy 
one's confidence in our supposed knowledge of the Jay's 
character ; but the birds soon further illustrated the danger 
of theorizing. 

While the supposition credits them with a power of rea- 
soning I am not prepared to say they possessed, their sub- 

From near-by limbs the 
notes of defiance " 



sequent actions seemed strongly to indicate that they had 
mentally grappled with this wholly unexpected problem 
which had so suddenly confronted them, and, after due con- 
sultation, had reached certain conclusions upon which they 
acted. In any event, the incident serves well to illustrate 
the ease with which one uses the human parallel in describ- 
ing the conduct of animals, from the point of view of the 
sympathetic observer eager to recognize human traits in 
bird and beast indeed, to claim kinship with them. 

In this particular instance the Jays had already thorough- 
ly aroused my interest, and it needed little imagination to 
put myself in their 
place and conjecture 
my own actions if, with- 
out a moment's warn- 
ing, I should see the 
ogre of my tribe, a 
creature whose power 
experience had taught 
me to fear, standing at 
my threshold. That I 
should for a time lose 
my self-possession and 
perhaps call aloud in 
alarm would seem 
wholly natural, and in 
view of the superior 
strength and armament of the enemy, it would also be ex- 
pected that I should consult the partner of my joys and sor- 
rows, and now companion in arms, as to the most expedient 
method of conquering this intruder without undue risk. 

Be this as it may, after flying about the nest-tree for sev- 
eral minutes in the wildest and most aimless, and excited 
manner, the birds deserted the place and retired to the 
woods. Then I heard them uttering for the first time the low, 
conversational eck, eck, eck, note of their kind. It is a note 

Screaming in alarm " 



which I have never heard from a solitary Jay, and is prob- 
ably used for purposes of intercommunication. One fre- 
quently hears it from a party of Jays when they are gather- 
ing chestnuts or acorns. 

For ten seconds or more the discussion, if discussion it 
was, continued, and at the end of this time a plan of battle 
had evidently been decided upon, which they lost no time in 
translating into action. They returned to the nest-tree, not 

" Placed them in a row on the limb of a neighboring pine tree " 

now a screaming pair of excited, frenzied birds which in the 
control of an unheard-of experience had completely lost 
their heads, but two determined, silent creatures, with a 
seemingly well-fixed purpose. The difference in their ac- 
tions, when the two visits to the nest were compared, was in 
truth sufficiently impressive to warrant a belief in the birds ' 
ability to grasp the situation intelligently. 

Without a moment's hesitation, one of the pair now se- 
lected a perch above the Owl, paused only long enough to 


take aim, and then, with a flash of wings, sprang at its sup- 
posed enemy. What followed, the camera, although set for 
a hundredth part of a second, failed definitely to record. 
The heart of the little pine seemed rent by the explosion of 
a Blue J ay. It was no feint, but a good, honest blow deliver- 
ed with all the bird 's force of body and pinion, and the poor 
little Owl was completely vanquished, upset, at the first on- 
slaught. The J ay had given a most convincing exhibition 
of the highest type of courage ; it had mastered its fears and 
deliberately gone to battle, I felt like applauding. 

But its troubles were not ended. This was a peculiar 
kind of Owl, different, doubtless, from any that the J ay had 
ever before encountered. It was conquered, but instead of 
Hying away to some dark nook to nurse its wounds, it per- 
sisted in remaining on the field, retaining its grasp of the 
limb, not upright, however, but hanging upside down, as no 
Owl was ever seen to do before, and, indeed, as only wired 
Owls could. Such unheard-of behavior excited the Jays 
even more than the Owl 's first appearance and, from near- 
by limbs, they shrieked notes of defiance until, in mercy to 
their throats and my ears, I removed the cause of their 
alarm, bent the branches back to conceal their nest, and left 
them to discuss their remarkable experience at their leisure. 
Ten days later, when I parted the pine-boughs, I could 
with difficulty believe that I saw the same nest. In place of 
five skinny, naked, sightless, squirming creatures, were five 
plump, well-feathered, bright-eyed birds almost as large as 
their parents. They had grown mentally as well. The 
sense of fear had developed and, as I looked at them, with a 
common impulse they jumped from the edge of the nest and 
fluttered to the ground below. Disregarding the protests of 
their parents, I gathered them together, placed them in a 
row on the limb of a neighboring pine, and then addressed 
them in what I esteemed to be the tongue of their tribe. 

Perchance in this narrative both the speech and the ac- 
tions of Jays have been misinterpreted, but in this conclud- 


ing scene of our relations, the most skeptical could not doubt 
that I was not only intelligible, but eloquently expressive, to 
the five birds on the limb, which, in quick response to my 
question, "Are you not very hungry?" lifted up their heads 
in a mute but unanimous and unmistakable "Yes, indeed we 

" Yes, indeed we are " 


A field which I ' ' sowed down ' ' a year or two ago, is con- 
sidered a failure by my farmer neighbors ; but, if the crop of 
grass is poor, I have at least raised a fine brood of Meadow- 
larks. For years these birds have not nested in the immedi- 
ate vicinity of my home, and to have them take their old 
place in the choir of June songsters, was assuredly as large 
a return as one should expect from a few pecks of hay seed. 

Although one of the birds was seen with nesting material 
on May 9, 1908, so shy were they, that their nest was not 
found until June 13, when it contained young almost ready 
to fly. The birds ranged over an area about four hundred 
yards in diameter and, on appearing, even as a casual strol- 
ler, in any part of their territory, I was certain to be greeted 
by the dzit or yert, with the succeeding rolling twitter of the 
male 's alarm note ; and so evenly did he distribute his anxie- 
ty that, from his actions, I could not have told in what part 
of his habitat the nest was placed. But from the conceal- 
ment of a cart, the food-flight was followed, until it led re- 
peatedly to a certain corner of the new grass field, when a 
rapid run, after the bird was down, revealed as it arose, the 
particular bunch of red-top which sheltered the domed nest 
and its nearly fledged young. 

I do not recall ever having seen a photograph of a 
Meadowlark at its nest ; and the bird 's success in avoiding 
the trap of the camera hunter is no small tribute to the keen- 
ness of its powers of observation and discrimination. 

That the trap has been set, I know from my own experi- 
ence, as well as that of others ; but, the birds are so suspici- 
ous, that the most carefully concealed camera near their 
nest is sufficient to keep them away. On May 9, at Bloom- 
ington, Indiana, I attempted to photograph a sitting Mea- 


dowlark and, although the camera was so well hidden that 
she returned to her nest without hesitation, I could not get 
near enough to it to make an exposure before she left her 
eggs. A thread over two hundred feet in length was attach- 
ed to the shutter and was so arranged that i could reach the 
end of it without being seen by the sitting bird ; but invari- 
ably she left her nest before 1 reached that part of the field 
where the thread was placed, and i finally concluded that 
her movements were governed by the notes of the male, who, 
ever on guard, uttered his alarm as soon as I appeared. 

Realizing, therefore, that the birds in the grass field 
could be studied at close range only by using the utmost 
caution, I erected the umbrella blind at night, placing it 
twenty feet from the nest and surrounding it with branches 
of wild cherry. To further avoid arousing the birds ' sus- 
picions, I entered the blind at 3 :30 the following morning, 
just as the first notes of the Eobins ' morning song aroused 
the birds to their matins. 

The first sign of life at the Meadowlarks ' nest was noted 
at 4 :10, when the female, who had evidently passed the 
night with her family, was seen cleaning the nest an ad- 
mirable way, surely, to begin the day. A moment later she 
left the nest, flying so near the blind that I could hear the 
rush of her wings. The blind, therefore, was accepted with- 
out question as a feature of the landscape. It had been 
erected without alarming the birds ; I had entered it un- 
seen ; it was wholly without human associations and as an 
inanimate object did not arouse the birds' suspicions. 

At 4 :25, the female returned with food and, from this 
time until 6 :34, she visited the nest sixteen times, on each 
occasion feeding one bird and occasionally two, and with 
one exception, always inspecting the nest and taking with 
her the sac-enveloped excreta, which, if left, would soon 
have rendered the nest uninhabitable. 

The male, from his favorite perch on a red cedar in the 
neighboring fence-row, greeted the female on her first jour- 



" The male started nervously " 

ney from the nest, by beginning to sing at 4 :20. From this 
time until 6 :43, he sang almost continuously, when, his 
morning devotions being concluded, he joined his mate in 
the more practical work of grub-hunting. 

Between 6 :43 and 11 :05, when I left the blind, the birds 
visited the nest forty times. Almost invariably the male, 
on leaving, flew directly to one of his several song perches, 



and sang from five to seven times before searching for 
food ; but, in spite of this handicap, he fed the young as of- 
ten as the female, both making twenty visits. The female, 
unaided, thus fed the young at the rate of about once in 
eight minutes but when both sexes were at work, the rate 
was increased to once every six and a half minutes. 

Inspection After Feeding 

There was a more or less regular alternation of sexes in 
the visits to the nest but, in three instances, both the male 
and female visited the nest twice in succession. On only two 
occasions did the parents meet at the nest ; once they came 
together when the male fed first and flew away, and once the 
female came just as the male was leaving. In each case he 
greeted her with a bit of song as he left, and this was at 


once followed by the full song from one of the fence-row 
perches ; those two were the only times when he uttered a 
note near the nest. 

The birds dropped down to the nest from above, and al- 
ways departed toward the east. They came and went free- 
ly, without hesitation, and were evidently acting in a whol- 
ly natural manner. Still, they were never off guard, but 
were keen and alert, as though living in the enemy's coun- 
try. A gentle snap of the fingers was sufficient to alarm 
them, and the male started nervously at an insignificant 
noise made near my house, two hundred yards away. 

It was deemed unwise to remove much of the grass con- 
cealing the nest, and the pictures do not, therefore, show 
the young. The following day they had gone. The male 
continued to sing until early August, and I imagine that a 
second brood was reared. 


When two men whose combined years exceed five-score, 
can go a-bird-nesting with an enthusiasm which knows no 
decrease, and count mere discovery a sufficient reward for 
hours of searching, the occupation is evidently worthy of 
investigation by every boy who would prolong his youth. 

I say boy advisedly, for the bird-nesting habit is not to 
be acquired in later life, and, indeed, had better never be ac- 
quired at all if its object be the taking of the nests and eggs. 
One does not search for a new or beautiful flower to uproot 
and destroy it, but to admire it, and to cherish the memory 
of its perfections until, with returning spring, it renews it- 
self and our delight in its existence. 

Bird-nesting, then, does not mean egg-collecting. The 
latter holds no antidote for age, but loses its powers as grat- 
ified desire checks species after species off the list, or in- 
creasing years bring a realization of its folly. 

Your true bird-nester values his good fortune too high- 
ly to rob the nest and himself at the same time. The dis- 
covery of a bird's nest is the discovery of a bird's home 
with all the fascinating possibilities attending the study of 
a bird's home life. It is an event. One never forgets the 
circumstances attending the finding of any but the common- 
est birds ' nests. The species then becomes the individual. 
One may claim an actual acquaintance in the bird world and 
perhaps establish personal relations with some feathered 
neighbor, whose family affairs become matters with which 
he is intimately concerned. 

Furthermore, that almost universal heritage, the hunt- 
ing instinct, finds a natural outlet in bird-nesting. The 
farmer's boy who hunts hens 'nests just to triumph over 
some particular fowl whose eggs have long defied search, 


exhibits, in primitive form, the motive which impels one 
again and again to look for the nest of a more or less com- 
mon bird whose home has been discovered many times be- 
fore. And, finally, as Mr. Burroughs has said, ''Bird-nest- 
ing is by no means a failure even though you find no birds ' 
nests. You are sure to find other things of interest, plenty 
of them." 

A Phoebe's Nesting-sites 

Perhaps, after all, this is the secret of the perennial 
charm of bird-nesting. The discovery of the nest is only 
the crowning event of a quest which has been filled with 
pleasant incidents. Certain it is that in the outing here 
briefly described, there were ' ' other things of interest ' ' be- 
sides birds' nests and "plenty of them," too. First among 
them was the presiding genius of "Slabsides;" one could 
not imagine a fitter companion with whom to go a-nesting ; 
for, be the paradox especially noted, the enjoyments of 
nest-hunting are doubled when you halve them. 

Then there was Slabsides itself, ideal haunt for man and 
bird, and round about were inviting wooded hills, with here 
and there cultivated valleys between them and, not far 
away, fields and orchards. 

Through these pleasantly varied surroundings, on the 
morning of June 16, 1900, we wandered, visiting old ac- 
quaintances as well as searching for new ones. It was not 
to be expected that a passing tour of observation and inves- 



tigation should yield results of unusual interest or scienti- 
fic value, and I have nothing more important to record than 
the mere joy of seeing and discovering objects which never 
fail to excite a bird-lover 's enthusiasm ; with the added sat- 
isfaction of being able, in some instances, to picture far 
more graphically than could be done with pen alone, the 
scenes from bird-life which are here presented. 

The difference between casual and continuous observa- 
tion is eloquently illustrated by our comparative knowledge 

"She was peacefully sitting" 

of the first bird we visited the Phoebe. To me, she was in- 
teresting simply as a Phoebe who had occupied a new nest- 
ing-site the first season it was available, and already had 
become so accustomed to man that she permitted herself to 
be photographed at short range ; but this was only the final 
incident in her known history. 

For a number of years, so Mr. Burroughs tells us in 
' ' Bird-Lore, ' ' a pair of Phoebes, presumably the birds in 
question, had occupied a nesting-site beneath a rocky 
ledge, at the side of the valley in which Slabsides hides. 
The present year, they returned as usual and, when the 


eggs were laid, Mr. Burroughs permitted a boy visitor to 
take one for his collection. Whether this fact was in 
any way connected with the fate of the nest or not is un- 
known, but, it is certain that the remaining eggs were soon 
missing and the nest deserted. 

Shortly, they selected a new home on the horizontal 
beam of the piazza of a recently erected dwelling overlook- 

Landlord and Tenant 

ing the valley. Here, the rafters divided the beam into ten 
spaces, all of which, to the Phoebe, evidently looked alike. 
She began a nest in one of these spaces, but on returning 
with more building material, missed her aim, so to speak, 
and began a second nest in another space. This mistake 
was repeated until the bird had five nests in process of con- 
struction at the same time. Probably she would not have 
completed any one of them, if Mr. Burroughs had not cover- 
ed four with stones. The bird was then forced to focus on 
the fifth, which she eventually finished and on which she was 
peacefully sitting at the time of my visit. 

" In the low sweeping limb of an apple tree " 


Doubtless Mr. Burroughs could have given equally in- 
teresting accounts of other of his bird neighbors to whom he 
introduced me that day and the next, and whose portraits I 
present with only passing comment. 

The Hummer, for instance, which, with rare considera- 
tion for the needs of bird photography, had placed her nest 
in the low sweeping limb of an apple tree, was an old ac- 
quaintance of his, and no detail of her domestic affairs, from 


Hummer Feeding Young 

the building of the nest to the appearance of the young, had 
escaped him. Acquaintance, I say, rather than a friend, for 
in spite of the fact that her nest was within a few feet of a 
pathway, the suspicious little creature invariably darted 
from it whenever any one approached within twenty feet of 
her. However, she returned in four or five minutes, some- 
times alighting and settling in the nest as though with one 
movement, at others perching on its edge, when the two sur- 
prisingly short bills of her half -fledged young could be seen 
projecting slightly beyond the rim of their downy home. 
This pose preceded what Mr. Torrey has so well described 
as the "frightful looking act" of feeding, of which the ac- 
companying picture shows the attitude assumed by the par- 


Just at this point I take occasion to introduce a picture 
made later in the season, of a Hummer poised before a flower. 
It serves very well to represent the appearance of Mr. Bur 
roughs ' bird while visiting his honeysuckles, gathering food 
for her young. It will be observed that the filmy halo, con 
stituting the wings of the Hummer in flight, does not appear 
in this picture ; nevertheless the exposure was made, if my 
focal-plane shutter scale does not prevaricate, in less than 
an eight-hundredth part of a second. 

Paused before a flower 

On one occasion, we observed another Hummer in the 
vicinity ; the bird flew directly up to the one on the nest, and 
evidently looked her straight in the eyes, but for so small a 
fragment of time that we do not know whether it was male 
or female. At any rate, the stranger seemed to be quite fa 
miliar with the air-line to the nest, though, as Mr. Bur 
roughs said, it is possible that Hummers may have an eye 
for Hummers ' nests. 



Far less approachable was a Flicker, which when we 
tapped gently at the base of her home in an old cherry stub, 
left the exit above, with a precipitation defying the speed ot 
a lens shutter. While technically a failure, the picture of 
her hasty departure, nevertheless, forms an interesting 
study in the use of the wing in flight. It will be observed 
that, although a third of the bird still remains in the hole, 
the wing is extended to a surprising degree and is already 
in motion, as is shown by the failure of the lens to record 

nicker Leaving Nest 

the outer primaries while securing, with some detail, an out 
line of the secondaries. Indeed, the evidently much highei 
speed with which the primaries were being moved, togethei 
with the space shown in the picture between the outermost 
secondary and innermost primary, suggest the possibility of 
an independent movement of the distal portion of the wing 
A close examination of the negative shows that the outei 



primaries are spread out fan-like, to such an extent as to be 
in contact only at their bases. Profiting by experience, this 
bird subsequently left her tree before one could approach 
near enough to plant a camera. 

The following morning was devoted to securing the pic- 
ture of a Scarlet Tanager, whose home had been discovered 
by a good type of the all-seeing farmer 's boy. Neither con- 
ditions of location, site, nor light were favorable, and after 
the camera had been fastened in the apple tree which the 
birds had selected for a home, it was found necessary to 
build a blind of bushes beneath a neighboring tree, whence 
the photographer could not see his subject. From a distance, 
therefore, with the aid of a glass, Mr. Burroughs kept watch 
and gave word when the exposure was to be made. 

Male Scarlet Tanager About to Feed Young 


A discussion of the specific distinctness of the Whip- 
poor-will and the Nighthawk, following an address to Con- 
necticut agriculturists, some years ago, led to my receipt the 
following July, of an invitation from a gentleman who had 

NigMhawk and Young 

been present, to come and see a bird, then nesting on his 
farm, which he believed combined the characters of both 
the Whip-poor-will and Nighthawk ; in short, was the bird 
to which both these names applied. 

Tempted by the opportunity to photograph the bird, as 
well as to establish its identity, I boarded an early train for 
Stevenson, Connecticut, armed with Museum specimens of 


the Nighthawk and Whip-poor-will as well as the necessary 
photographic apparatus. 

The former were accepted as incontrovertible evidence 
and my host readjusted his views as to the status of the 
birds which they represented. We may, therefore, at once 
turn our attention to the Nighthawk which was sitting pati 
ently on a bit of granite out in the hay fields. The sun was 

" Spread herself out on the grass at my feet " 

low when we reached the flat rock where she had been lasl 
seen, and on which her eggs had been laid and her young 
hatched, but a fragment of egg-shell was the only evidence 
that the bare-looking spot had once been a bird's home. The 
grass had lately been mowed and there was no immediately 
surrounding cover in which the bird might have hidden. II 
is eloquent testimony of the value of her protective coloring 
therefore, that we almost stepped on the bird, which had 
moved to a near-by flat rock. 

Far more convincing, however, was her faith in her OWE 
invisibility. Even the presence of a dog did not tempt her 
to flight, and when the camera was erected on its tripod 
within three feet of her body, squatting so closely to its 
rocky background, her only movement was that which was 


occasioned by her rapid breathing. Another cause, how- 
ever, beside the belief in her own inconspicuousness held her 
to the rock ; one little downy chick nestled at her side, and 
with instinctive obedience it was as motionless as its parent. 

Nighthawk on Fence 

So they sat while picture after picture was made from 
various points of view, there being no movement, until the 
parent was lightly touched, when, starting quickly, she 
spread her long wings and sailed out over the fields. Doubt- 
less she was startled and deserted her young under the im- 
pulse of sudden fear. But in a few seconds she recovered 
herself and, circling, returned and spread herself out on the 
grass at my feet. Then followed the evolutions common to 
so many birds but wonderful in all. With surprising skill 
in mimicry, the bird fluttered painfully along, ever just be- 
yond my reach until it had led me a hundred feet or more 
from its young, and then, the feat evidently successful, it 
sailed away again, to perch first on a fence and later on a 


limb in characteristic, lengthwise, Nighthawk attitude. 
How are we to account for the development in so 
birds of what is now a common habit? Ducks, Snipe, Grouse. 
Doves, some ground-nesting Sparrows and Warblers, ana 
many other species, also feign lameness, with the object ot 
drawing a supposed enemy from the vicinity of their nest 
or young. With each one there is the most admirable ad- 
justment of means to the end. Hasten your pace and the bird 
hastens hers ; slacken yours and the bird goes slower. She 
is always at your finger tips. She takes the utmost possible 
risk in the eff ort to deceive you into believing that at the 
next step the prize is yours. Are we to believe that each in 
dividual who so cleverly opposes strategy to force does so 
intelligently? Or are we to believe that the habit has been 
acquired through the agency of natural selection and is no\v 
purely instinctive f 

In characteristic, lengthwise, Nighthawk attitude.' 




First-growth Oak Forest on Gardiner's Island 




So far as my experience goes, all colonial, ground-nest- 
ing birds breed only on islands. Among North American 
species this is true of the Auks, Murres, Puffins, Guillemots, 
Gulls, Terns, Skimmers, Petrels, Tropic Birds, Gannets, 
Cormorants, Pelicans, and Flamingos. Bank Swallows 
alone might be excepted. 

With many Loons, all Grebes, Coots, Gallinules, Cranes, 
Black Terns, and some Ducks, the nest is placed in the wa- 
ter and is an island in itself. 

While many of these birds are born feathered and leave 
the nest shortly after hatching, they are dependent on their 
parents for food until they acquire the power of flight. But 
terrestrial nesting habits and a period of helplessness on 
the ground, whether in or out of the nest, do not in them- 
selves require the protection of insular life. Ducks, Snipes, 
Plovers, Rails, all gallinaceous birds, Goatsuckers, Larks, 
Pipits, many Sparrows, some Warblers and Thrushes nest 
on the ground ; and with the last five groups mentioned the 
young are born naked and are reared in the nest. 

It is, therefore, more to that gregariousness which brings 
great numbers of birds of one species into limited area to 
breed, rather than to the nature of the nesting-site or the 
condition of the young at birth, that we must attribute the 
necessity for an island home. Birds of colonial habit lay all 
their eggs, so to speak, in one basket. During the nesting 
season, the individuals of a wide area are focussed in a 


small space. To find one nest means, practically, to find all. 
To a large extent, the lot of one is the fortune of its neigh- 

Weasels may find one or more nests of Sandpipers or 
Sparrows in Massachusetts, and devour the contents with- 
out materially affecting the status of the species in that 
state but the same animals on Penikese or Muskeget, would, 
in time, doubtless anihilate the Terns which nest there. 

Wild cats, in Florida, probably never miss an opportun- 
ity to capture a sitting Wild Turkey, but there is no evidence 
to show that the numbers of Wild Turkeys in the state has 
ever been seriously affected by this habit. The same ani- 
mals, however, on Pelican Island would soon put an end to 
all the breeding Pelicans of eastern Florida. 

Even with arboreal species, gregariousness, while nest- 
ing, often appears to require some form of insular isola- 
tion ; and we usually find colonies of Cormorants, Anhingas, 
Spoonbills, Ibises and Herons, breeding on islands or in 
trees which are growing in water and are themselves is- 

When, therefore, we review the islands of our Atlantic 
Coast, from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Florida Keys, 
we will not be surprised to discover how many birds, which, 
widely distributed at other times of the year, owe their ex- 
istence to the protection island life has accorded them in the 
nesting season. 

On the Bird Kocks and Bonaventure are found our sole 
remaining Gannets (Sula bassana); on Old Man's Island, 
off the Maine coast, are the only Eiders nesting in the Unit- 
ed States ; Penikese and Muskeget held for a time our only 
large colonies of Terns ; Martha 's Vineyard shelters the last 
of the Heath Hens and the only Least Terns known north of 
the Carolinas ; Gardiner 's Island is distinguished by its Pip- 
ing Plover and Black Ducks ; Cobb 's Island has almost the 
last of the Gull-billed Terns, and Pelican Island has the only 
nesting Pelicans of the eastern coast of Florida. 


Some of these islands are mere rocks or sandbars, with 
few or no human inhabitants and consequently by just so 
much, are the more habitable for birds. But if we should ex- 
tend our survey to those larger bodies of land on which true 
island conditions exist, we should find the results of this pro- 
tecting influence even more strongly manifested, as where a 
family has been preserved in the Greater Antilles or an en- 
tire fauna in Australia. 

Long-continued insular isolation, often under special 
conditions of environment, has resulted in the development 
of new species. We shall find evidences of this kind of evo- 
lution in the Bahamas, but northward on our coast, if we ex- 
cept certain slightly differentiated forms in the Bermudas, 
only Sable Island, off Nova Scotia, appears to have pro- 
duced a bird of its own ; the Ipswich Sparrow being restrict- 
ed to this islet, where possibly it represents the Savanna 
Sparrow of the mainland. 

Not only new species but new habits may arise on is- 
lands. Environment is the mold in which habit is cast, and 
such variations in the mold as may readily occur on islands 
are quickly reflected in its product. The nest-building' habits 
of the Ospreys on Gardiner's Island, and of the Pelicans on 
Pelican Island, are cases in point. 

Of the two islands whose bird-life is sketched beyond, 
one is comparatively large with diversified topography and 
flora and correspondingly rich avifauna ; the other is small 
and composed of only beach and marsh, but both show the 
preserving powers of insular life, by the presence on them 
of birds which have virtually ceased to breed in the adjoin- 
ing regions. 


Morton wrote of New England birds in 1632, of "cranes 
there are a great store they sometimes eate our 

corne and doe pay for their presumption well enough * 
a goodly bird in a dishe and no discomodity. " Of "swan- 
nes, ' ' this early natural historian tells us, ' ; there was a 
great store at the seasons of the year. ' ' Other water-fowl 
there were in countless myriads, and among them were Lab- 
rador Ducks, White Pelicans, and, not improbably, Great 
Auks. Trees fell beneath the weight of roosting Wild Pig- 
eons, which, in flight, darkened the air, and, in proper locali- 
ties, Heath Hens, the eastern Prairie Chicken, abounded. 

It was not a day when close attention was paid to natur- 
al science, and we shall never definitely know the conditions 
of bird and mammal life which existed at the time this 
country was colonized ; but, from records similar to those 
which Morton and others have left us, we gather that sur- 
prising changes have occurred in the character of our bird- 
life during the past three hundred years. Not only, as we 
know too well in our own generation, have many species be- 
come greatly reduced in numbers, but others have totally 
disappeared, or are seen only at long intervals as waifs 
from some region in which they have not as yet become ex- 

The present-day ornithologist reads the time-discolored 
pages of these pioneers with the keenest regret that the 
scenes they describe can never be observed again. Imagine, 
then, my exultation on discovering that, within one hundred 
miles of our most populous city, there is still a considerable 
area where, if there is not a "great store of cranes,"* the 

* Morton wrote of a true Crane of the genus Grus; not of our Great Blue Heron 
(Ardea herodias) to which the name " Crane" is often applied. 


existing conditions are so unlike those commonly prevailing 
throughout the surrounding region, that the observer may 
easily fancy himself transported to the early part of the 
last century. 

Only an island could so actively play the part of pre- 
server. No fence, no trespass sign, no warden is so effective 
as several miles of deep water. Of no less importance, in 
the present instance, is the possession and occupation of this 
fair land by but one family, its descendents and dependents, 
since Lion Gardiner purchased it from its red-skinned own- 
ers in 1637, for, it is said, " ten coats of trading cloath." 
Here, then, is the prime requisite of isolation rendered po- 
tent and continuous by sympathetic guardianship. 

Seven miles from end to end and, in the middle, one- 
third as broad, Gardiner's Island contains 4000 acres; an 
area more than sufficient to supply the needs of its occu- 
pants, and large tracts are still in a primitive condition. We 
have, then, the advantages resulting from nature primeval 
as well as those arising from man's cultivation. The first 
is represented by shell-strewn beaches, grassy marshes mir- 
rored with ponds and seamed with inflowing arms of the 
sea ; rolling plains, dense thickets of cedar, bay berry, and 
cat brier ; magnificent first-growth, hard wood forests, now 
high and dry, now watered by singing brooks, again low and 
swampy with luxuriant vegetation and green-coated pools. 
On the other hand, man's presence is made manifest by 
abundant crops of grains and fruits, of which the birds reap 
a by no means undeserved share. 

With these benefits, conferred by man, are none of the 
ills which invariably follow him. There are no rats in this 
island Eden and, more astonishing still, there are no cats, the 
ogres of the bird-world. No less remarkable, and perhaps 
an accompaniment of insularity, is the absence of foxes, 
minks, weasels, opossums, red squirrels and chipmunks, all 
natural enemies of birds, and when the Fish Hawks come 
in the spring, virtually all other Hawks depart. In short, 


this island is an ideal resort for the fowl of land or water 
a place of peace and plenty and only those factors which 
impel migration amongst most of our birds, and consequent 
exposure to an endless series of dangers, have prevented it 
from becoming a vast aviary. 

Fortunately removed from beaten paths of travel, one 
cannot buy an " excursion ticket" to this Island of Birds 

The Signal at the Fireplace 

but, journeying part of the way by train, one must secure 
such conveyance as his alighting place affords, and drive 
seven miles over country roads and grassy lanes to a look- 
out point where his haven marks the horizon three miles 
across the waters. Here, at the Fireplace, as it is called lo- 
cally and on the larger maps of Long Island, I enlisted in 
my earlier visits, the services of the official fire-maker, to 
build a fire whose smoke should give notice of a visitor to 
the island beyond. The office is hereditary and had been 
held by the man 's great grandfather before him. Shortly 
a dense cloud arose from a smudge of hay and seaweed and 
was blown landward by the breezes from the Montauk. In 
time came the answering signal, a flash of light from shin- 
ing tin, gleaming intermittently like the rays of an arc-light, 
and shortly, through one 's glasses, a boat was seen crossing 
the bay. A telephone now supplies more certain if less pic- 


turesque means of communication, and the Fireplace exists 
in name only. 

Without going into detail, it is a difficult task to write 
adequately of the bird-life of Gardiner 's Island, but several 
facts soon impress the student first, the abundance of 
birds ; second, the presence of species rare or known only as 
migrants on contiguous land areas and, third, the departure 
of some species from the normal habit of their kind. Robins, 
for example, build their nests not only in every tree and 
bush about the place but in exposed positions, on the pro- 
jections of piazza supports, on fence-rails, without attempt 
at concealment, at the end of corded wood logs, and even on 
stones beneath foot-bridges. How would they have pro- 
gressed with housekeeping arrangements if sleek, some- 
times purring tabbies were interested spectators of their 

Other common dooryard birds are Catbirds, Orioles, 
Chimney Swifts, Chipping Sparrows and Barn Swallows. 
Flickers, Quail and English Pheasants all nest within a few 
yards of the home dwelling, the former finding the fence- 
posts admirable substitutes for hollow trees. House Spar- 
rows,with their usual discretion in selecting desirable homes, 
swarm about the manor house, their harsh chatter being the 
one discordant element in the life of the island. The abun- 
dance of these birds probably accounts for the absence of 
House Wrens and Bluebirds from a habitat which, in other 
respects, would be exceptionally suitable for their occupa- 
tion. Competition between the Sparrows and these birds 
occurs in the selection of a nesting site and, the Sparrow 
being permanently on the ground, ever has the nine points 
of possession on his side. 

Scarce a stone's throw away, colonies of Purple 
Crackles and Eed-winged Blackbirds add their characteris- 
tic notes to the chorus of bird voices, the volume of which so 
impresses the bird student from less favored regions. In 
the openings of a near-by tree and bush-grown pond, if the 


resident Kingfisher does not give the alarm, a Black Duck 
with her brood may be seen, and, more rarely, one may catch 
a glimpse of a radiant Wood Duck, floating on the clear 
brown water. At dusk, the whistling of a Woodcock's wings 
and the momentary sight of the birds rapidly flying to fresh 
feeding grounds, adds another game-bird to the list. 

In the grass-grown fields, ready for the mower, and on 
the rolling plains where sheep graze, are Meadowlarks, Ves- 
per, Field, Savanna and Grasshopper Sparrows, with King- 
birds and Indigo Buntings in the bordering tree-lines. 

From every side comes the splendid, vigorous whistle of 
Bob-White, and often the singer may be seen, perched on 
the top rail of a fence, replying in kind to a rival, occupying 
a similar position on the other side of the field. 

Approaching the borders of the woods, where thicket 
growths encroach upon the fields, one is sure to have the 
always startling experience of flushing an English Pheas- 
ant ; and in the morning and evening, the little, immature, 
bantam-like crow of cock Pheasants is a distinctly strange 
and foreign note. 

In spite of its abundance, the novelty of this bird 's ap- 
pearance does not wear off. As, with a cackle and a roar of 
wings, the bird seemed to burst from the earth, I invariab- 
ly paused to watch the magnificent creature rise, rocket- 
like, and sail away into cover ; nor did one think of moving 
until it was lost to view. The manner in which a cock 
Pheasant can conceal himself where there is apparently not 
sufficient cover for a Sparrow, was a never-ending source 
of wonder. Scarcely less astonishing than the flight of the 
adult Pheasants is the wing-power of the chicks. When evi- 
dently not more than two or three days old, they fly with a 
speed and certainty of aim which quickly carries them to 
the near-by shelter. The sitting females are exceedingly 
wary, leaving the nest with but little cause and returning 
with much caution. The picture here presented was secur- 
ed only after the camera had been set for a day and a half. 


Pheasants were introduced on Gardiner's Island in 
1892, when twenty-five females and one hundred males were 
released. In 1893, two hundred females, one hundred males, 
and one hundred and fifty birds of both sexes, bred by hand 
on the island, were turned out. This constituted the entire 
stock, which, responding to the exceptionally favorable con- 
ditions, increased so rapidly that, at the end of eight years, 
the Pheasant population was estimated at about 5000 birds. 
During this period, some three or four hundred cock birds 
and cocks only had been shot each fall. 

Sitting Pheasant 

The birds now began to decrease. Some contracted a 
disease resembling roup, with which the Crows on the island 
were afflicted. The gamekeeper, Hiram Miller, thinks that 
possibly the food supply on the island was not large enough 
to maintain the maximum number of birds ; while George E. 
Lodge, the English artist and ornithologist, who accompan- 
ied me to the island in November, ] 907, suggested that as 


Terns Nesting on Drift-weed 

in England, old and barren hen Pheasants are known to mo- 
lest sitting birds the practice, on Gardiner's Island, of 
shooting no females may have rendered incubating birds 
subject to disturbance by their elders of the same sex. How- 
ever this may be, the fact remains that, without any evident 
cause for the decrease, there are not more than half as 
many Pheasants on the island in 1908 as there were in 1900, 
and it is now proposed to put out one thousand more birds. 
The woods and wood borders, in addition to the Vireos, 
Scarlet Tanagers, Ovenbirds, Chats, Wood Thrushes and 
other common species, hold as tenants numerous Carolina 
Wrens, a southern species whose loud, ringing, musical 


whistle adds an unexpected bird voice to the chorus of June 
song. Beaching the regular northern limit of its range in 
northern New Jersey, this bird is known only as a rare 
straggler on Long Island ; but it appears to have become 
permanently established on Gardiner's Island, where half 
a dozen may be seen or heard on any morning's walk; its 
characteristic notes give form to mental pictures of south- 
ern woods, made still more real by the guttural, lisping 
gurgle of the Parula Warblers, nesting in the thick bunches 
of usnea moss. 

Common Tern 
The bird was sitting on seven eggs 

Where swamp maples grow in low flooded woodlands, 
several hundred Night Herons build their rude platform 
nests of sticks, high in the branches. As, with frightened 
squawks, the old birds leave the home tree, one might ima- 
gine one had invaded a hen-roost. In early June, the streak- 
ed young are nearly grown, and sit in rows of three and 
four on the limbs near the frail structure in which they 
were reared, waiting for the impulse which will bid them 
use their newly grown wings. 

The absence from the woods of Blue Jays, Kose-breast- 


ed Grosbeaks and Veerys, where all the conditions are ap- 
parently favorable, is so marked as to call for an explana- 
tion, but I am unable to suggest one. 

In June, 1908, Mr. Winthrop Gardiner showed me a pair 
of Bartramian Sandpipers or 4 ' Upland Plover, ' ' which were 
evidently nesting on the plains, and his father, Mr. John 
Lyon Gardiner, tells me that this species was once abundant 

The well-named Piping Plover is still a common bird on 
the beach at both the northern and southern ends of the is- 
land, where possibly fifteen or twenty pairs of these little 
sand-colored birds nest. Here, also, are two colonies con- 
taining several hundred of the Common Terns which were 
once so numerous on the south shore of Long Island. On 
July 5, 1901, 1 saw seven Eoseate Terns in the south end 
colony. At this time, young Terns, several days old, were 
running about, apparently, wherever they pleased, attended 
by their parents. Several were seen to enter an inflowing 
creek, drink repeatedly of the salt-water and swim actively, 
in evident enjoyment of their natatorial powers, while the 
parents, who rarely alight on the water, watched them from 
the shore. Possibly here was an explanation of the value to 
Terns of webbed toes. Functionless in the adult, they are 
of service to the young before the power of flight is ac- 

Herring Gulls, chiefly in immature, gray plumage, ap- 
pear to remain on the island throughout the summer, and 
flocks of fifty or more have been observed on each of my 
visits at that season. 

At both ends of the island there are extensive salt 
marshes with numerous ponds. Here, Sharp-tailed and 
Seaside Finches are abundant, while to the ponds, the Black 
Ducks, about forty pairs of which are said to nest on the is 
land, resort with their broods. 

But the birds for which, among naturalists at least, Gar 
diner's Island is famous, are the Fish Hawks, or Ospreys. 


The island furnishes them with a safe retreat to which, year 
after year, they may return and find their bulky nests undis- 
turbed, awaiting them, while the surrounding waters aft'ord 
an unfailing supply of food. Among the birds, they are the 
lords of this land. If their title could be searched, even the 
early, red skinned islanders would doubtless be found to 
have been trespassers. 

If the Fish Hawks cannot prevent man's presence, they 
can and do deny to any other member of the Hawk family 
the right to share their summer home ; and while the Fish 
Hawks are there, one may usually look in vain for Hawks of 
other species on Gardiner 's Island. One Marsh Hawk is the 
only raptor I have seen on there in summer, and Mr. Win- 
throp Gardiner reports a Eed-tail. 

While on the island, therefore, the Fish Hawks appear 
to have no enemies. The Terns sometimes dart at them 
threateningly, but, beyond ducking their heads as the sharp- 
billed, active birds sweep by, they pay no attention to this 
source of annoyance. From the manner in which they pur- 
sue the Black-crowned Night Herons and Green Herons, 
one might imagine that they had an old score to settle with 
these birds ; but the Herons are probably as innocent of of- 
fense against the Fish Hawks as the latter are against the 
Terns ; in each case, the attack is that of a more active or 
stronger bird against a less agile or weaker one, and is 
doubtless a purely malicious exhibition of power. 

Since the publication of Alexander Wilson's " American 
Ornithology," the Fish Hawks of Gardiner's Island have 
figured in the literature of ornithology and it is characteris- 
tic of their delightful home that, owing to the preserving in- 
fluences of insular life, the birds are apparently nearly as 
abundant there to-day as they were a hundred years ago. 

The volume (Vol. V.) of Wilson's work in which the Fish 
Hawk is treated, appeared in 1812. In it the Mr. Gardiner 
who was then proprietor of the island, is quoted as saying 
that there were at "least three hundred nests of Fish 


Hawks that have young * * *." To-day I estimate the 
number at between one hundred and fifty and two hundred, 
but the difference between these figures and those of 1812, 
may be less real than one due to errors in estimate. In any 
event, Gardiner 's Island holds the largest Fish Hawk col- 
ony in this country possibly the largest in the world and 
the conditions under which many of the birds nest, offer ex- 
ceptional opportunities for a study of their habits. 

Mr. Gardiner tells me that the Fish Hawks arrive on the 
island, March 20, and depart on September 20. That the 
same birds return year after year to the same nest, is be- 
yond question, and, in at least one instance, this belief was 
proven true by Mr. Gardiner 's grandfather, who placed a 
metal band on the tarsus of a Fish Hawk which, for many 
subsequent seasons, was known to occupy a certain nest. 

Mr. Gardiner does not confirm current statements to the 
effect that the Fish Hawks repair their nests in the fall ; 
but in the spring there is much activity in nest-building, 
even by birds whose homes are apparently already habita- 
ble. The birds gather sticks from the ground and they also 
break them from the trees by flying at or dropping on them 
and grasping them with their talons. Eel grass is a favorite 
nest-lining and the birds often fly about with four or five 
feet of this grass streaming out behind like a long tail. I 
have never been on the island early enough in the season to 
observe the mating habits of the Fish Hawks, but additions 
to the nest are sometimes made after the eggs are laid, and 
birds may be seen with nest-material in June. 

The variation in the character of the nesting sites of 
Fish Hawks on Gardiner's Island, effectively illustrates 
how, under certain conditions, a bird may depart from the 
habit of its kind, without paying the penalty which so often 
befalls animals with but partially developed instincts. 

It is the normal habit of the Fish Hawk to nest in trees, 
but on Gardiner's Island one finds these birds building their 
homes not only in trees but actually on the ground. I do not 


believe that they deliberately select such a position. Bather 
it seems to me, these ground-dwelling birds, while inherit- 
ing the nest building instincts of their species, are not in- 
stinctively impelled to adopt a site which has proven to be 
the most desirable for Fish Hawks. On the mainland, such 
variability from the standard would have placed the bird, its 
egg or its young within the reach of predaceous mammals, 
and it doubtless would not have succeeded in rearing its 
family. But in an environment where bird enemies are hap- 
pily absent, the ground- building birds are as safe as those 
nesting in the tree-tops, indeed, the ground- builders are in 
less danger than the birds which build true to type, since the 
trees to which, year after year, the birds come, may fall, 
with consequent disaster to the nest. 

About ten pairs of Fish Hawks nest upon the ground, 
and these ground nests are always placed on the beach. 
Possibly the abundance of drift-wood may induce the birds 
to select this situation. 

Several pairs of the beach-nesting birds have not only 
failed to inherit the tree-nesting habit but evidently have 
the nest-building instinct itself but slightly developed, their 
eggs being laid on the ground with scarce a pretense of nest. 
In most cases, however, the beach nests are large structures 
containing two or three cartloads of sticks, their size being 
dependent on their age, and the success with which they 
weather winter winds and waves. I do not observe that the 
number of beach nests has apparently increased since my 
first visit to the island in 1900, from which we may infer 
that the ground-nesting habit is not hereditary. 

As an intermediate site between ground and tree, some 
Fish Hawks nest on large boulders either off-shore, when 
the birds have an island of their own, or inland on the roll- 
ing plains. One pair of birds had nested for many years on 
the roof of a small ' ' yoke-house ' ' standing in a field which, 
when I first saw it on May 30, 1900, was green with young 
rye. The house itself offered the only available concealment 



The Nest on the Yoke-house 

from which the bird might be photographed on its home. A 
camera was therefore erected some forty feet away, and a 
rubber tubing, attached to a shutter, led to my hiding place 
in the basement of the Fish Hawk's dwelling. It required 
close attention to detect the sound of the bird's foot-fall on 
the floor above, but when assured of its return, I could stand 
boldly in the doorway and, with the aid of a bicycle pump, 
make an exposure at my leisure. 


The yoke-house has now succumbed to the weight of 
years and nest, but a new Fish Hawk home which has been 
erected in the nearest tree, is doubtless occupied by the 
yoke-house birds. If this supposition be true, they evidently 
did not resort to a roof because they lacked the ability to 
build in trees. 

"A new nest on the ruins of the old one" 

That the normal nesting-site of Fish Hawks is arboreal, 
is evidenced by the fact that fully ninety-five per cent, of the 
Gardiner 's Island birds resort to trees ; but even with this 
restriction there is wide variation in the situation selected. 
Some birds nest in the heart of the forest, in the great oaks ; 
others at its border, in the sour gums ; many choose the 
wild cherry trees, while a number have astonishing success 
in saddling their bulky platforms on the small red cedars, 
where they dwarf the tree into a mere supporting post. 



The attachment of Fish Hawks for their home has often 
been commented on and there are many illustrations of it on 
Gardiner 's Island. The nests built in cedars, in time break 
the tree, when the birds build a new nest on the ruins of the 
old one. In one instance, a tall tree, standing alone in a field, 

had held a Fish Hawk 's nest 
for as many years as one 
could remember. During a 
storm it fell and the nest was 
scattered over the ground. 
The birds then attempted to 
build a new nest on the 
nearly horizontal trunk of 
the tree, at its junction with 
the stump, to which it was 
still slightly attached; but 
as fast as the sticks were 
brought they fell to the 
ground a few feet below, 
where a pile of them bore 
testimony to the birds' fail- 
ure to comprehend the new 
conditions by which they 
were confronted. 
Eggs are not laid until seven or eight weeks after the 
birds' arrival from the south; a delay which, in view of the 
abundant food supply, it is difficult to explain. The period 
of incubation is said to be four weeks, June 2 being the 
earliest date on which I have found young. 

The young are in the nest about six weeks. They are 
under the immediate care of the female, who is almost con- 
stantly with them while the male occupies a perch near by. 
While both birds whistle shrilly when one is near the nest, ii 
is exceptional for them to make any show of defending their 
young by actual attack. I have never been threatened by 
the beach-nesting birds, but one, which occupied a tree, 
dived at me repeatedly when I climbed to the nest, coming 
uncomfortably near at each swoop. 

A Crackle's Nest in the Side of 
a Fish Hawk's Nest 



The young are reared on the restricted diet of their 
parents and, as far as my observations go, the fish is cap- 
tured and brought to the nest by the male, often after he has 
satisfied his own appetite by eating part of it. Incidentally 
it may be remarked that Gardiner's Island birds secure 
most of their fish from the numerous fish traps which, dur- 
ing the summer, are set about the island. They sit patiently 
on one of the poles to which the net is attached, until oppor- 

Feeding the Young 

tunity offers, when they jump down to the water for their 
prey ; a far less interesting method of feeding than the 
thrilling plunge from the air. 

The young are fed at long intervals, possibly not more 
than twice during the day. On each occasion, however, the 
feeding process continues for some time. Tearing a small 
piece from the fish, the female usually turning her head on 
one side, offers it to her young, who quietly, one at a time, 
pick it from her bill. 

Young Fish Hawks are models in behavior. Their obe 
dience is instant and enduring. At the complaining alarm 



whistle of the parent, they squat flat in the nest and hold 
their position, possibly for hours, until the old bird is reas- 
sured and permits them to raise their heads, when they are 
often surprisingly alert and active. Unlike young Terns, 
Gulls or Skimmers, they make no move when touched, doubt- 
less because they have no means of escape. They therefore 
not only look but act like dead birds. One can turn them on 
their backs or place them in any position, putty-like they 
will remain, their only movement being a rare wink of the 

" Three apparently adult Fish Hawks . . . within a foot 
of my face " 

half -closed but staring yellow-brown eye. Young which are 
about to fly, however, especially if they be in a tree nest, will 
sometimes abandon the crouching position for one of de- 
fense. I recall with amusement my surprise when, on climb- 
ing to a nest which, from below, appeared to be empty, three 
apparently adult Fish Hawks, in menacing pose, suddenly 
materialized within a foot of my face. 

The beach nests are exceptionally well situated for the 
purpose of bird photography, and these nests have furn- 



ished the subjects for studies, to make which has been the 
main object of my visits to Gardiner's Island. These were 
conducted from my umbrella blind, without which it would 
have been difficult to gain an insight into the home-life of the 
birds. Both nests and blind were conspicuous objects on 
the beach and, as in many other instances, I found it import- 
ant to have a co-operator whose departure, after I had 
entered the blind, apparently reassured the owners of the 

Adult Female Fish Hawk and Newly Hatched Young 

nest, within thirty feet of which the blind was usually 
placed. To enter the blind alone is to invest it with your per- 
sonality, and the bird will not return to its nest until the 
impression created by your presence has become dimmed. 
At the best the blind itself is regarded with much suspicion 
and, although the bird may return to her nest before your 



Fish Hawk Approaching Ne;t 

The Pause Before Alighting 



Fish Hawk Alighting on Nest 

Leaving the Nest 


companion is two hundred yards away, she regards the blind 
intently, peering, with a sinuous motion of the neck as 
though her gaze would penetrate the cloth itself. Some birds 
are satisfied more easily than others, and after half an hour 
accept the blind without further question. Others keep it 
under close surveillance for two hours and, during this time, 
the slightest sound or movement of the cloth is greeted with 
the complaining alarm whistle, which, if the cause of alarm 
be continued, arises to a shrill crescendo. 

Fish Hawks About Two Weeks Old 

In studying the life of one nest figured, the blind was 
entered at eleven o 'clock, when the male was seen flying 
about with a bit of fish which he was evidently about to 
bring to the nest. The female returned to the nest within 
ten minutes after my companion left me, but it was not until 
12.50, that she ceased to regard the blind with uneasiness. 
During this time, the male flew about rapidly, with the bit of 


fish still grasped in his left foot, or perched on the ground a 
hundred yards away. At 12.50, the female dropped all cau- 
tion, and the previously often repeated alarm note was 
replaced by a wholly different call, a high, rapidly uttered 
tweet-tweet-tweet, which proved to be a food-call to the 
male. At one o 'clock, in response to it he came to the nest, 
but the proximity of the blind frightened him and he took 
wing again almost as he alighted, and returned to his perch 
on the beach. Again the female uttered her food-call and 
the young were now permitted to move about the nest. 
Finally the male came again but, as before, his fears over- 
came him and he departed quickly, taking the fish with him. 
Three times this performance was repeated ; on the fourth, 
the female, losing patience or prompted by hunger, at- 
tempted to take the fish from his foot with her bill, when, as 
the male arose, the fish was pulled from his grasp and drop- 
ped over the edge of the nest to the sand at its base. This 
was a catastrophe with which neither bird was prepared to 
cope. The male made no move to get another fish but went 
back to his perch in the meadow. The female repeated her 
food-call more loudly and the young apparently asked for 
food, uttering a twittering peep ; but experience had not fit- 
ted her to deal with this chain of events and the fish at the 
foot of the nest was left where it fell. 

Owing to the stable conditions of their habitat, as well as 
to the regularity of their habits, the Fish Hawks of Gardi- 
ner's Island offer an exceptionally valuable subject for con- 
tinuous observation. The present contribution merely 
suggests the opportunities which await the ornithologist 
who, beginning by a survey of the island in order to plot on 
a map the exact location of each nest, will devote several 
weeks during the nesting, for a period of years, to an inti- 
mate study of certain nests and a general supervision of 
them all. 

My visits to Gardiner's Island have been made chiefly 
during the summer (May 29- June 2, 1900 ; July 2-7, 1901 ; 


June 16-21, 1908) ; but in November, 1907 (23-25), I went to 
the island with George E. Lodge, to have a glimpse of its 
winter bird-life, and an interesting one it was. It stormed 
heavily and continuously during our stay, but, nevertheless, 
we saw fifty species of birds (or only nineteen less than the 
total for my three summer trips), and as a matter of inter- 
est as well as of record, I append a list of them with an 
estimate of the number of individuals of each species. 

If the nesting of Black Ducks, Bartramian Sandpipers, 
Piping Plover, and other rare species, is a tribute to the pro- 
tective powers of the island during the summer, the presence 
of fifteen species of wild Ducks in November is a no less 
impressive evidence of its preserving influences at that sea- 
son. With no small satisfaction, we saw, in the same pond, 
and almost at a glance, Hooded Mergansers, Pintails, Red- 
heads, Canvasbacks, Buffleheads, and Ruddy Ducks ; but as a 
matter of fact, the most interesting experience of our visit 
was supplied by the commonest bird on the island the 
Crow. Crows are abundant on the island throughout the 
day, foraging in the old corn-fields and along the beaches ; 
but late in the afternoon, birds from Long Island begin to 
return to the island, to their roost in "Bostwick's Woods." 
The rolling plains at the edge of woods where we 
were hiding was black with Crows, acres of them. Birds 
were constantly arriving and the black area growing larger 
and denser. Occasionally birds on the ground quarreled, 
while others chased one another rapidly ; but on the whole, 
there was surprisingly little noise or movement. The birds 
were waiting, and waiting quietly. When it was too dark to 
distinguish birds on the ground one hundred yards distant, 
the flight to the roost was begun. There was no noise, no 
confusion ; the Crows did not rise in a body but gradually, 
curling like smoke in a long black stream, they entered the 
woods behind us and disappeared in the gloom. It was an 
impressive sight, and rendered doubly so by the absolute 
quiet with which the evolution was performed. 



NOV. 23-25, 1907 

Horned Grebe, 25 
Loon, 10 

Red-throated Loon, 1 
Kittiwake, 1 
Black-backed Gull, 20 
Herring Gull, 300 
Cormorant, sp., 2 
Red-breasted Merganser, 6 
Hooded Merganser, 6 
Mallard, 4 
Black Duck, 500 
Baldpate, 100 
Pintail, 6 
Redhead, 6 
Canvasback, 6 
Golden-eye, 20 
Buffle-head, 100 
Old Squaw, 200 
American Scoter, 2 
White-winged Scoter, 500 
Surf Scoter, 200 
Ruddy Duck, 150 
Great Blue Heron, 1 
Bob-White, 60 
Pheasant, 12 

Marsh Hawk, 6 
Sharp-shinned Hawk, 1 
Red-tail, 3 

American Rough-leg, 12 
Downy Woodpecker, 1 
Flicker, 15 
Horned Lark, 30 
American Crow, 50,000 
Purple Crackle, 2 
Meadowlark, 30 
Goldfinch, 6 
Pine Finch, 1 
Snowflake, 25 
Ipswich Sparrow, 1 
Tree Sparrow, 10 
Junco, 20 
Song Sparrow, 12 
Fox Sparrow, 1 
Myrtle Warbler, 50 
Brown Creeper, 1 
Carolina Wren, 12 
Winter Wren, 1 
White-breasted Nuthatch, 3 
Chickadee, 20 
Robin, 2 

Parent and Young 

A Section of the Habitat Group Representing the Summer Bird-life of 

Cobb's Island 

The Least Terns here shown were once abundant on the island but have 
been exterminated by millinery collectors. Background painted by 
Walter Cox; birds mounted by H. C. Denslow. 


The Atlantic coast, from New Jersey to North Carolina, 
is bordered by an outlying chain of islets. Many of them 
are mere sand bars, more or less grown with coarse grasses, 
and, on their western sides, fringed by marshes which reach 
out into the bays separating them from the mainland. 

Useless for agricultural purposes, these islands have a 
high commercial value only when they have become the sites 
of summer resorts ; but when they have not suffered from 
an irruption of hotels and cottages they are, as a rule, ten- 
anted only by an occasional fisherman or the crews of life- 
saving stations, whose presence does not materially alter 
their primeval conditions. 

Lacking the natural foes of birds which exist on the 
mainland, these barren islets make ideal breeding-grounds 
for birds, which find on them the isolation their peculiar 
nesting habits require, while the surrounding waters furnish 
them an abundant supply of food. 

In all this chain of bird homes, probably none has been 
better known to ornithologists than Cobb's Island, on the 
Virginia coast, north of Cape Charles. Seven miles long, it 
has been occupied by man only at the extreme southern end ; 
a small sportsman's club-house and a life-saving station 
being now its only dwellings. 

Twenty years ago, Willet, and Least Terns, in large 
numbers, and Eoyal Terns bred on Cobb's Island, but to- 
day the former is rare while the two latter are unknown, and 
there are left as breeding birds, Common, Forster 's, and 
Gull-billed Terns, Laughing Gulls, Skimmers, Oyster-catch- 
ers, Wilson's Plovers, Clapper Rails and Seaside Finches. 
Willet have disappeared before spring shooting, in what 
was actually their nesting season. The Least Terns fell vie- 


tims to the milliners, who greatly decreased the other species 
of Terns nesting on the island. The former captain of the 
life-saving station told me of 1,400 Least Terns being killed 
in one day; while the captain of the station and Mr. E. B. 
Cobb, owner of the island, informed me that when Terns 
were first killed for millinery purposes they, with another 
man, killed 2,800 birds in three days on and near Cobb 's 
Island. The birds were packed in cracked ice and shipped to 
New York for skinning ; ten cents being paid for each one. 

In July, 1902 (23-25), I visited Cobb's Island to secure 
data, photographs and specimens with which to represent 
its summer bird-life in a Habitat Group. At the same time, 
it was proposed to study the Black Skimmer. Marvellously 
graceful in the air, the Skimmer is so conspicuously ugly 
when at rest, that not even the milliners consider it available 
for alleged hat decoration; consequently it was spared 
while its more beautiful neighbors, the .Terns, were slaugh- 
tered, and it is numerous in favorable localities on the coast 
from Virginia to Texas. 

But in spite of the Skimmer 's abundance, its conserva- 
tism in the matter of habitat removes it from the field of ob- 
servation of most ornithologists, and, at the time of which I 
write, accounts of its habits could be found only in the works 
of Wilson and Audubon. Neither of these remarkably keen 
and sympathetic students of bird-life appears, however, to 
have had an extended experience with the Skimmer during 
the nesting season. Both state, for instance, that it lays only 
three eggs ; whereas the full complement is four ; and, Wil- 
son writes that the ' ' female sits on them only during the 
night and in wet and stormy weather. " As I desired espe- 
cially to secure photographs of the sitting bird, this question 
of the day or night incubation was of importance. I made 
inquiry, therefore, of ornithologists who had been among 
Skimmers, but not one had ever seen a Skimmer on its nest. 
Hence the life history of the Skimmer appeared to be an un- 
usually attractive subject for investigation. Unique in 


structure, he was known to be correspondingly unique in 
feeding habit ; while there was something pleasantly mys- 
terious in the birds ' supposed habit of coming home only 
after dark. 

Skimmers arrive on the Virginia coast early in May, and 
begin to lay about June 15 ; but their nests are so persist- 
ently robbed by fishermen that few young are hatched before 
July 20. The latter part of this month or early August is, 
therefore, the best season in which to study the domestic 
economy of the Skimmer household. 

It is a memorable moment in the life of the naturalist 
when the animal of books or museums, or even zoological 
gardens, is first seen by him, a wild, free creature in its 
haunts ; and when the animal is as singularly formed as the 
Skimmer, one's desire is intensified by a curiosity to see it 
use its peculiar and characteristic organs. Imagine, then, 
the joy of an ornithologist who, for the first time, finds him- 
self in a breeding colony of thousands of Skimmers, where 
the air is filled with a yelping mob of birds whose eggs and 
young are so numerous on the broad shell-strewn beach, 
that one cannot walk without danger of stepping on them. 

It was not difficult to find a spot in which to begin a study 
of the birds. Some minutes before reaching the boundary 
of the territory they inhabited, a band of birds arose in the 
air and, with more or less extended front, flew toward me 
only to swing to one side, wheel and fly back again ; all utter- 
ing a trumpet-like note which is effectively emphasized by 
violent bill action, the bright red and black mandibles open- 
ing widely with each note. When the nests were reached, 
the uproar increased and with it the excitement and bold- 
ness of the particular birds near whose eggs or nests I 
chanced to be standing. Starting a hundred or more feet 
away, one after the other charged toward me with such 
speed and apparent fearlessness, that one could well be par- 
doned an involuntary dodge ere the birds, when only a few 
feet away, swerved and passed over one's head. 




The Skimmer in Flight 



The nests are hollows in the sand, often only a few feet 
apart and with absolutely no lining, the Skimmer's bill 
being evidently not adapted to gathering nesting material or 
constructing a nest. The four creamy white eggs are con- 
spicuously marked with black, and are by no means difficult 
to see ; but the downy young so closely harmonize with their 
surroundings in color, that they are far less easy to discover 

Skimmers on Their Nests 
Note their conspicuousness, even at a distance 

than the young of any beach-nesting bird with which I am 
familiar. Their partial invisibility, it should be observed, 
is not due to their resemblance in form to their surround- 
ings, or to the necessity of distinguishing them from peb- 
bles or shells, as is often the case with young Terns. It is 
purely a matter of color and disposition of color which 
makes them fade into the bare sand about them. Like most 
young birds, they instinctively know that safety lies only in 
unquestioning obedience to the parental command, which 
warns them of threatening danger, and bids them squat 
close to the sand with neck stretched out and eyes half 
closed. I could scarcely believe, for a moment, that the first 
one seen in this attitude was a living bird, but behold ! when 



I stooped to pick him up, at the touch of my finger tips, he 
evaded my grasp and scudded over the beach so fast I scarce 
could catch him. 

It was easier to discover the nests of the Skimmers than 
a vantage point from which one might study the habits of 
their owners. As yet I had not learned whether they incu- 
bated by day or night, and this could be done only by con- 

Skimmer on Nest 
Note the young bird in the shade of the plant 

cealing myself and waiting until peace and quiet in Skim- 
merland came, with the assurance that their enemy had 
departed. The blind was therefore erected in a depression 
on a sand dune within one hundred and fifty feet of twenty 
or more nests. The whole affair was then covered with 
beach grass, and into it I crept. 

For a time, the birds threatened this unfamiliar object, 
darting at it with loud screams ; but within one hour and a 
half, it ceased to annoy them and, to my great satisfaction, 
bird after bird returned to its nest, some alighting directly 
on the little hollow in the sand, others dropping near-by and 



with waddling step, walking to the nest and settling them- 
selves on their eggs or newly hatched young with a low, 
brooding, churring note reserved for this occasion, and evi- 
dently indicative of extreme contentment. This answered 
the question of day or night incubation ; but it would be 
well to illustrate this fact in the bird 's history, and cameras 
bound about with grasses were placed near several nests, a 
thread run from them to the blind, and numerous pictures 
\vere thus made of the Skimmer at home. 


The Young Skimmer 
Sand rendered in feathers " 

I passed two days in my blind, enjoying to the full the 
isolation of the Skimmer 's retreat, and the privilege of see- 
ing, unseen, a wild creature in its haunts. Within this short 
time, some additions were made to our knowledge of the 
Skimmer's habits. Thus I learned that the hollow where the 
eggs are laid is not a chance depression, but is made by the 
bird the female, so far as was observed which, squatting 
close, turns round and round, actually boring out a shallow 
cavity in the easily yielding sand. 



Apparently only the female incubates, but the much 
larger male often comes and stands by her side while she 
sits on the eggs, a pleasant picture in bird life suggestive of 
domestic harmony. In all the pictures made of the sitting 
bird from the front, one or two of the eggs can be seen 
through the breast feathers, as though the bird had a larger 
" clutch" than she could cover. The period of incubation I 
had no means of determining, but certain it is that once the 
chick announces his coming by a chicken-like peep, the trans- 

' ". - *-- . , 

^ >'".", ' vv ,:.-., ' f 

Three Young Skimmers 
" Squat close to the sand with neck stretched out " 

formation of a pipped egg into a bright-eyed downy Skim- 
mer, endowed with all the instincts of its kind, is a matter of 
only two and one-half or three hours. 

As soon as the nestling emerges from the egg, the shell 
is taken by the parent, and, so far as was observed, carried 
out of sight; a singular custom, common to most birds. 
The habit is doubtless of importance to a tree-nesting bird, 
where the egg-shell below might advertise the young bird 
above ; but why, with a beach-nesting species an egg-shell 
should be considered more conspicuous than an egg it is 


Gull-billed Tern on Nest 

hard to say ; but there can be no doubt that once it has 
released its contents, it must be disposed of as quickly as 

The chicks seem to appear on successive days, and to 
leave the nest when a day or two old. They are fed on small 
fish and doubtless other forms of aquatic life, which, at first, 
may be partially digested by the parent bird. Whether 
or not each parent finds its own chicks when the beach 
becomes alive with hungry youngsters, cannot be confirmed 
definitely, though there is evidence to show not only that the 
old birds recognize their offspring, but that the latter know 
their parents. 

So singular in form is the bill of the adult Skimmer, that 
Buff on described it as an " awkward and defective instru- 
ment " ; a somewhat surprising conclusion to proceed from 
so learned a naturalist, and one which Wilson pronounced 
an "impiety." With the lower mandible averaging half an 
inch longer than the upper, and with both so thin and flexible 



that they can be bent as readily as a table knife, one might 
be pardoned for believing the Skimmer 's bill a deformity ; 
but the belief is quickly dispelled when once the bird is seen 
feeding. Flying low, with bill opened wide, the lower man- 
dible cuts the water like a knife edge, as the birds actually 
skim the surface for fish and small forms of aquatic life. 

Laughing Gulls on Their Nests in the Marsh 

In the newly hatched bird, it is of exceeding interest to 
observe that the mandibles are of virtually equal length, and 
the lower mandible does not become pronouncedly longer 
than the upper until the bird takes wing. This may be con- 
sidered as evidence that this highly specialized character 
has been developed late in the history of the species ; or the 
development of the bill may be a correlation in growth which 
defers the perfection of an organ until it can be successfully 
employed. Certainly without the power of flight, a Skimmer 
could not ' * skim. ' ' Until, therefore, the bird can fly, it sup- 
plements the supply of food brought by the parents by pick- 
ing up a living along the beach. 

Skimmers were frequently seen feeding during the day, 
particularly along the meeting line of sand and sea, where 


they gleaned from the burden of the waves ; but it was at 
dusk that they became really active. Then they followed the 
course of the streams winding through the marsh, now skim- 
ming for a short distance, again rising slightly and uttering 
a sharp yap, yap, like a pack of hounds on the trail. 

In addition to the Skimmers, the breeding birds on 
Cobb 's Island at the time of my visit, were several hundred 

Laughing Gull on Nest 

Common Terns, a small number of Forster's Terns, about 
eight pairs of Gull-billed Terns, a pair each of Oyster-catch- 
ers, Willet, and Wilson 's Plovers, several hundred Laugh- 
ing Gulls, and many Clapper Kail. The young Bails furn- 
ished the principal fare of several cats which Mr. Cobb had 
brought to the island to kill the meadow mice which de- 
stroyed the sails and rigging of his boats. 

Two pairs of Gull-billed Terns were nesting in the Skim- 
mer colony to which I devoted my attention, where, aside 
from the difference in their eggs, the Terns' nests were at 


once distinguishable from the Skimmers ' by the large num- 
ber of shells which had obviously been arranged about them. 
The Terns' light, thin, somewhat reedy tee-tee-tee, which 
sometimes suggested a weak-voiced katy-did, was a readily 
identifiable note. 

From my blind among the Skimmers, I could look out 
over the marsh where the Laughing Gulls nested, and in the 
morning the breasts of the birds facing the east looked like 
great white flowers with which the marsh was dotted. No 
attempt was made to study these birds, but they were pho- 
tographed without difficulty by erecting bundles of grass on 
tripods near the nests, one evening, and replacing them with 
grass-covered cameras, the following morning. Exposures 
were made with a thread run to the blind, (which was made 
to resemble a musk-rat's nest), a hundred and fifty feet 
away. Some nests contained newly hatched birds, and com- 
parison of their black and umber down, so like, in general 
tone the color of their nest, with the gray down of the 
young Skimmer, which might be described as sand rendered 
in feathers, shows how perfectly each helpless chick 
matches its own background. 

Newly Hatched Laughing Gull 




Young American Egrets 
"Alert and eager expectancy" (p. 134.) 


From the time of Catesby, in 1730, Florida has been the 
Mecca of American ornithologists. Bartram, Ord, Audu- 
bon, Bryant, Allen, Merriam, Maynard, Scott, Brewster, 
Ridgway and scores of other bird students have been at- 
tracted by the bird-life of a region, which, not only far 
exceeded in interest that of any other part of our country, 
but in some respects was possibly not equalled by that of 
any other part of the world. 

As compared with that of other states, the bird-life of 
Florida is distinguished first, by the occurrence of certain 
West Indian species ; second, by the evolution of certain 
strongly marked geographical races or nascent species; 
third, by the continued existence there of species which have 
become rare or extinct in other parts of North America ; 
fourth, by the presence of several western birds not found 
elsewhere on the Atlantic Coast, and fifth, by the great de- 
velopment of those communal gatherings of birds in what 
are generally termed " rookeries." 

As a result of its geographical position, fifteen West 
Indian or tropical species have been recorded from Florida, 
only one of which is found regularly beyond the southern 
part of the state ; most of them, in fact, being summer vis- 
itants to the Keys. Of the number named three have been 
found in Florida but once or twice. On the whole, therefore, 
the West Indian element in Florida's bird-life is smaller 
than the proximity of the state to certain West Indian isl- 
ands might lead one to expect. The Biminis in the Bahamas, 
for example, are only forty miles from Cape Florida ; never- 
theless such characteristic Bahama birds as the Grassquits 


(Euetheia), Honey Creeper (Certhiola), Ani (Crotophaga), 
are unknown or accidental in Florida, though they are com- 
mon on the Biminis as well as Great Bahama fifty miles 
farther north. 

A combination of climatic conditions and peninsular iso- 
lation acting, for the most part, on permanently resident 
species, has resulted in the development, in Florida, of some 
twenty-three more or less well marked geographical races 
or species of birds in the making. Some of these extend 
northward, up the Lower Austral Coast strip to South Car- 
olina and westward to Louisiana, while others are confined 
to the southern half of the state. As a rule, they are smaller 
in size and darker in color than their more northern repre- 

Florida, however, is not only making new species but it 
has preserved old ones. The Sandhill Crane, now extinct as 
a breeding bird in most of the northern states where it was 
formerly common, is still abundant in certain parts of south 
central Florida; the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is now found, 
outside of Florida, only in Louisiana; the Carolina Paro 
quet, once numerous in all the eastern states south of Vir- 
ginia, is now found only in Florida, and the last United 
States individuals of the Snowy Egret, Reddish Egret, and 
Roseate Spoonbill will doubtless be found in Florida. 

Probably it is to this state's preserving influences, act- 
ing over a much longer period, that we may attribute the 
presence there of birds with such close western affiliations 
as the Burrowing Owl and Florida Jay ; both of which so 
closely resemble their representatives in our western states 
as to be considered essentially similar to them. Probably 
the wide area intervening between the range of the Florida 
and western species was, where favorable, at one time occu- 
pied by both Jays and Owls ; but whatever the reason for 
their extinction there, whether the cold of a Glacial Period ov 
some more recent agent, it apparently was not active in Flor- 
ida, which, beyond question, must have been the retreat for 


many species which were forced southward during the Ice 
Age. Perhaps to the influence of this profound climatic 
change we may attribute the presence of the Great Auk in 
Florida, as attested by the remains of this boreal bird in a 
shell-mound near Ormond. 

Interesting as are the various factors thus far men- 
tioned, their results are appreciated mainly by the bird stu- 
dent, and it is to the development of its ' ' rookeries ' ' that the 
bird-life of Florida owes its most distinguishing feature and 
greatest charm. 

In our southern states, " rookery" (pronounced ruke- 
ry) is the term uniformly applied to nesting colonies of 
birds. Such gatherings may be made of from one to several 
species, but, because of their commercial importance, one 
more frequently hears of Heron rookeries; particularly 
such as are tenanted by ' ' Long ' ' and ' ' Short Whites, ' ' a? 
the aigrette-bearing Herons are called. There may, however, 
be Ibis, Cormorant, Water Turkey or Pelican rookeries. 
From rookery we have in common use, among plumers, at 
least, the verb to rook, which, in its past tense, becomes 
rooked or even rooketed, while the participle is rookin' . 

In addition to its southern position, Florida's number- 
less lakes, extensive bayous, marshes, and shallow shores 
abounding in food ; its cypress swamps, "willow-heads," 
and mangroves, suitable for nesting, have made it an ideal 
home for those aquatic birds which nest in colonies, in trees 
or bushes growing, preferably, in water. Of these birds, 
Herons, Egrets, Ibises, Spoonbills, and others, the state 
once possessed a marvelous store, but be it said to Florida's 
everlasting disgrace that, until the honorable industry of 
shooting birds at their nests became no longer profitable, 
she raised no hand to save herself from being despoiled of 
this rich heritage. Even then, the passage of laws was 
secured only through influence from without. The laws, how- 
ever, were not observed, and all efforts to secure conviction 
under them failed. 


It is small satisfaction to the bird-lover to know that 
Florida herself is the greatest sufferer from the niggardly 
short-sightedness which allowed the agents of northern mil- 
liners to loot her of her treasures. Her loss was their profit. 
The few thousands paid the plumers is a pitiful sum when 
one considers the real value of what has been irretrievably 

This was not a case of civilization's advance, before 
which, of necessity, certain forms of life must disappear. 
The marshes and swamps, river, lake and sea shore, once 
animated by snowy plumaged Herons, and Ibises, and by 
Roseate Spoonbills, still exist and will long continue to exist 
as they were when the birds glorified them. 

This is rather a case where the lack of civilization may 
be held accountable. If the laws were respected, these birds 
might be just as abundant in Florida to-day as they ever 
were, when the marvel of this nature 's aviary would form 
an attraction such as the state can never hope to possess 

I began my study of Florida birds in 1886 and have con- 
tinued it at intervals to the present time. In another con- 
nection, I hope to present the results of researches which 
have covered the greater part of the peninsular ; here are 
given only certain special studies, made mainly while gath- 
ering material for the groups of American birds previously 



That long, narrow bay or lagoon on the east coast of 
Florida known as the Indian River, contains hundreds of 
mangrove-covered islets all singularly alike in character, but 
as far back as the record goes one of them, possessing not 
more than three acres, has been the principal nesting resort 
of the Brown Pelicans of this region and, at the present 
time, these birds are not known to breed at any other place 
on the Atlantic Coast of Florida. In ' ' Bird Studies with a 
Camera," (pp. 191-214), I have given the results of observa 
tions made on Pelican Island in March, 1898. When neces- 
sary, however, for the sake of completeness, some of this 
material is incorporated with the results of the later studies 
contained in this chapter. 

In 1858, Dr. Henry Bryant, whose enterprise in ornitho- 
logical exploration deserves far higher recognition than it 
has commonly received, wrote (Proc. Bost. Soc. Nat. Hist., 
VII, 1859, p. 19) : 

That "the most extensive breeding place " he visited in 
Florida * ; was on a small island, called Pelican Island, about 
twenty miles north of Fort Capron. The nests here were 
placed on the tops of mangrove-trees, which were about the 
size and shape of large apple-trees. Breeding in company 
with the Pelicans were thousands of Herons, Peale 's Egret, 
the Eufous Egret and Little White Egret, with a few pairs 
of the Great Blue Heron, and Eoseate Spoonbills ; and im- 
mense numbers of Man-of-War Birds and White Ibises 
were congregated upon the island. * * *." 

Of the birds mentioned by Dr. Bryant, the Pelican alone 
remains ; while of the trees which covered the island at the 
time of his visit, not a single one is living. In 1898, when I 


first saw Pelican Island, there were still enough mangroves 
to afford many of the birds the arboreal type of nesting site 
characteristic of their species ; but the birds which could not 
secure a building lot in a tree were forced to place their 
house upon the ground. 

This transition period has now passed. The mangroves, 
here near the northern limit of their range, have suffered by 
the "freezes" of recent Florida winters, while their exces- 
sive use by the birds which in some instances placed as 
many as seven nests in a single tree has prevented their 
recovering from the effects of low temperature. 

From a mound of glossy green foliage Pelican Island, 
within a period of fifty years, has thus become a treeless 
mud-flat, largely grass-grown, but still it is beloved by the 
Pelicans, the impelling motive which prompts them to return 
to this particular spot being evidently stronger than that 
which induced them to nest in trees. 

I know of only two occasions when the Pelicans failed to 
establish their yearly nursery on the islet of their choice. 
Once they were driven away by that curse of Florida, 
irresponsible, gun-bearing tourists. Landing on the island 
they shot the inhabitants in large numbers and left them to 
rot in the mud. The survivors retreated but established 
quarters on the nearest islet. 

The second time the Pelicans deserted their ancestral 
home, they were driven away not by enemies but by friends. 
Prior to the passage of the present admirable bird-protec- 
tive law in Florida, the Pelicans were at the mercy of every 
man with a gun. A demand from milliners arose for their 
wing-quills, and it was feared that at any time Pelican 
Island might be attacked. An effort was made to buy it from 
the government, but the red-tape knots of the Land Office 
defied untying until, on presentation of the case to Presi- 
dent Roosevelt, he, with characteristic directness, severed 
them by declaring Pelican Island a Federal Reserve. The 
National Association of Audubon Societies, co-operating 


with the government, immediately appointed a warden who 
was empowered to prevent trespass, and erected on the 
island a large sign proclaiming its population to be wards of 
the government. 

The future safety of the Pelicans now seemed assured, but 
on visiting the island in April, 1904, 1 found to my surprise 
and disgust, that with a uniformity of action which left no 
doubt as to their attitude, the birds had expressed their dis- 
approval of the whole arrangement by failing to return to 
the island. For the first time in its history not a nest was 
made or an egg laid upon it, but the two nearest islands con- 
tained over 700 nests. 

In November, 1904, the beginning of the nesting season, 
when the Pelican clans began to gather, it was evident that 
the great sign announcing Federal possession of the home 
of their forefathers appeared to cause them much uneasi- 
ness, whereupon the warden, who had long suspected the 
root of the trouble, removed the offending boards, and the 
birds at once returned to their heritage, built their homes, 
and reared their families, as the accompanying pictures, 
made during the season in question abundantly prove. 

Consequently, we may infer from this incident either 
that the Pelican can read and has strong political prejudi- 
ces which prompt it to refuse favors from the administra- 
tion which has preserved its home, or that it lacks sufficient 
discrimination to realize that a board painted white with 
black marks and held upright by two posts is perfectly 

However this may be, the fact remains that, to the great 
satisfaction of their well-wishers, the birds have entered no 
objection to the small signs which have replaced the large 
one, but return to the island in increasing numbers each 
year under the guardianship of the government. 

Pelican Island is the most interesting bird colony it has 
been my privilege to visit. This is due in part to the habits 
of the birds, in part to the conditions which usually create 


great variability in the time of laying and development of 
the young, so that during March and April one may see at a 
glance every phase of the birds ' home-life from the egg to 
the bird on the wing, and in part to the growing tameness of 
the birds, which by the exercise of a little caution, one may 
observe under terms of exceptional intimacy. 

But this bird colony is not only the most interesting in 
my experience, it is also the most accessible. Here one has 
to encounter no dangers of sea or cliff, no flood and desola- 
tion of Bahaman * ' swash, ' ' no mosquitoes and moccasins of 
noisome marsh. On the contrary a trip to Pelican Island is 
as delightful an outing as one may have in Florida. A ' ' Pull- 
man ' ' brings one to any of the scores of resorts on the east 
coast water ways. One has then only to secure the needed 
permit from Warden Kroegel at Sebastian, when all the rest 
is plain sailing or motoring, as the case may be. Thanks, 
therefore, to the efforts of bird students, seconded by a sym- 
pathetic administration, Pelican Island should long continue 
to delight visiting nature-lovers as well as to supply our 
south Atlantic coast with a singularly interesting form of 


The records of AVarden Kroegel show that, as a rule, Pel- 
icans, in flocks of from 500 to 1,000 arrive, apparently at 
night, in the vicinity of Pelican Island about November ] . 
At first they stay on the river, their numbers rapidly 
increasing, and during this time they sail for hours over the 
island, possibly engaged in mating evolutions. The clans 
having gathered, at the end of the week the birds in a body 
take to the island. Nest-building is begun at once, and the 
first eggs are laid by December 1. 

The season of 1907-08 was exceptional. The birds ar- 
rived earlier than usual ; and the first eggs were laid Novem- 
ber 5. Warden Kroegel estimates that when they first came 
there were fully 7,000 birds ; but this number soon decreased 





and only 1,500 nests were built. This would imply a breed 
ing colony of only 3,000 birds, but what became of the 
remaining 4,000 birds is a mystery. 

Possibly this variation in nesting date was occasioned by 
the exceptional climatic conditions which prevailed in Flor- 
ida during the preceding year, when for a period of seven 
months no rain fell. 

Whatever may be the cause or causes for this variability 
in the date of the Pelicans' migration for it is true migra- 
tion it is evident that they act upon all the birds uniformly. 

The island colony is not formed gradually, virtually all 
the birds come at once, moved by a common impulse. What 
is it? It is not a question of food, for the birds rarely feed 
near their nesting place. It is not a question of climate, for 
they do not ero far enough from their breeding resort to 
experience climatic change when returning to it. The imme- 
diate cause of the journey is doubtless physiological and the 
prompting comes from within. With birds the season of re- 
production is periodic, and with migratory species, whether 
the journey be to a near-by island or to another zone, 
the return to the breeding ground is only one phenomenon in 
a cycle of events which includes, in regular order, migration, 
courtship, egg-laying, incubation, the care of the young, the 
molt, and the retreat to winter quarters. 

Newly awakening sexual activities now stimulate the 
flocking impulse and the birds doubtless gather in small 
companies later to be merged in one great flock as they are 
brought together by the instinct which leads them to the 
place of their birth. The actual return to the island is ap- 
parently not made until the last comers have arrived, and 
we have here a partial parallel to the roosting of Crows 
which, assembling in some near-by field, do not enter the 
roost until apparently the last bird has come, when they 
arise to seek their resting-places for the night. 

It is a remarkable fact that while the Pelicans of the east 
coast of Florida begin to lay in November, those of the west 


coast do not nest until April, the earliest recorded date for 
egg-laying being April 21. There is occasionally a supple- 
mentary breeding season on Pelican Island ; from one hun~ 
dred to three hundred birds sometimes laying late in April. 
Whether this represents a first or second brood is unknown, 
but it is apparently comparable to the normal west coast 
breeding season. 

That there should be six 
months difference in the 
breeding time of birds which 
pass their year under essen- 
tially similar conditions, is as 
surprising as though the 
mangroves of eastern Flor- 
ida were to blossom half a 
year earlier than those of the 
west coast. With the infor- 
mation now at our command 
the case appears to be inex- 

As late at least as April 1 
one rarely if ever sees a 
Brown Pelican on the gulf 
coast of Florida with the full 
brown hind neck of the breed- 
ing plumage ; while on the At- 
lantic Coast I have seen but AdultPelicansinBreeding (brow n 

one adult bird with the white neck) and Non-breeding (white 

hind neck of the non-breeding 

plumage. Birds from the two coasts possibly therefore do 
not intermingle and the difference in their nesting seasons 
which this difference in plumage correlates, may be a result 
of long continued isolation. The April nesting of a few east 
coast birds may, therefore, represent the survival of a near- 
Iv obsolete habit. 



In March, 1898, I anchored my sloop within a hundred 
yards of Pelican Island and for the greater part of four 
days and nights gave my attention to the life of the island. 
I returned to the island in April, 1900, using the same 
methods of study as before. At no time, however, were the 
birds unaware of my presence and it was not until a blind 
was employed in April, 1905, and in March, 1908, that I real- 
ly entered the inner circles of Pelican society. Erected 
among the thickly set nests it was shortly accepted as a part 
of the landscape, and so far as the Pelicans were concerned, 
I left the island when I entered the blind. Soon the birds 
began to return to the nests or young they had reluctantly 
deserted at my approach, and in a few minutes the routine 
of Pelican Island was resumed ; and one experienced the 
wholesome satisfaction and quite indescribable fascination 
of being closely surrounded by wild creatures, that, un- 
aware of your existence, live their lives in an absolutely 
natural manner. 

With a wing spread of between seven and eight feet, a Pel- 
ican is an impressive bird even at a distance ; but when doz- 
ens of the broad-pinioned birds swept by me within arm's 
length. I realized that given the excitable, courageous nature 
of Terns and Gulls, the Pelicans might dispense with the 
services of a warden. 

It is true, a bird which had placed its nest on a stump six 
feet from my shelter snapped its bill loudly at me when I 
peered at her through a slit in my blind. The young defend 
themselves in a similar manner until their wings will bear 
them, when, like their seniors, they show their faith in the 
valorous discretion of flight. 

In February, 1905, a norther had flooded the lower por- 
tions of the island washing hundreds of eggs from their 
nests and forcing many birds to begin household duties 
again. April of that year afforded, therefore, an excellent 
opportunity to observe many phases of the Pelican's nest- 


ing habits. Birds of all ages and voices, from the grunting, 
naked, squirming new-born chick or the screaming, downy 
youngster, to the silent, dignified, white-headed parents, 
were within a few yards of my blind. At a glance I could see 
most of the activities of Pelican home-life ; nest building, 
laying, incubating, feeding and brooding young, bathing, 
preening, sleeping, fighting ; while the great number of indi- 
viduals made it possible to check one's observation 

The early return of the birds in the fall of 1907 in con- 
nection with a favorable season, resulted in an exceptionally 
uniform and rapid development of their domestic affairs, 
giving me in March, 1908, an opportunity to study the colony 
at a more advanced stage than I had previously found it. 
The following outline of the bird's home-life is based chiefly 
on the observations made in 1905 and 1908 in connection 
with certain facts supplied by Warden Kroegel. 

The Nest. Even in the tropics birds, as a rule, do not 
nest until spring or earty summer, when a return of the 
rainy season assures them of an abundance of food for their 
young ; but the Pelican woos his mate in November, or, as 
we have seen, even October. Among such dumb and unde- 
monstrative birds courtship must be a very solemn affair, 
but that is a subject we know very little about. Apparently, 
however, it is conducted to the satisfaction of both contract- 
ing parties, and with the happiest results ; for never have I 
seen indications of domestic troubles among the indigenes 
of Pelicanland. 

When there were still trees upon the island, the first 
nests built were placed in them, in response to the normal 
habit of the species. When the arboreal sites were taken, 
the remaining birds built their nests upon the ground. Now. 
however, there is no choice and all the birds are of necessity 

Later observations confirm the opinion expressed in 1900 
("Bird Studies with a Camera,'* p. 205) but questioned in 


1902 ("Bird-Lore," 1901, p. 1) regarding a variation in the 
character of tree and ground nests. The former are com- 
posed morelargely of sticks with a lining of grasses and are, 
or were, often built upon a platform or frame made by lay- 
ing heavier sticks from crotch to crotch. Ground nests, as a 
rule, contain few or no sticks but are built largely or entirely 
of reed grasses. 

Incubating Pelicans 

This nesting material is found in abundance on the 
island and the birds gather it, take it from old nests, or steal 
it from occupied nests. It is, as might be supposed, carried 
in the bill. 

The destruction of the trees on Pelican Island has pro- 
foundly affected the conditions of Pelican life there. An 
arboreal nesting site was so much safer, both for eggs and 
young, that it is possible the change to a terrestrial site has 
been followed by an increase of at least fifty per cent in the 
mortality of the nesting season. 


Pelican Island is unfortunately so low that a severe 
"norther" raises the water sufficiently to flood all but the 
sand-bar at its eastern end. Only those birds which build 
upon the sands are secure from the waves. In April, 1905, 
all the occupied nests were on the higher, eastern portion of 
the island and anyone visiting the island at this season 
might have been led to credit the birds with sufficient intelli- 
gence to select a nesting site above high-water mark. Where- 
as, in truth, the earlier homes of many of these same birds, 
built on low ground, had been inundated, and their eggs 
washed from the nests, were still scattered about the island, 
as may be seen in several of the accompanying photographs. 
Apparently, then, there is no conscious selection evolved by 
experience. Year after year, birds nest on low ground and 
suffer the consequences, while the higher ground colony is 
established by the elimination, through disaster, of the birds 
which do not resort to it. 

Lost eggs may be and doubtless usually are replaced 
and it is rather through its effects on the young birds that 
the ground nesting site produces so high a mortality. I have 
never visited a colony of nesting birds containing anything 
like the number of dead young commonly to be seen on Peli- 
can Island. 

Under normal conditions a Pelican born in a tree-nest 
does not leave the tree in which its home is placed until it 
makes its first attempt at flight. When born on the ground 
it leaves its nest as soon as it can walk. The tree-born bird 
has therefore not only a cooler, better ventilated, cleaner 
home, but he is not brought into competition with his fellows 
before he is strong enough to care for himself. The struggle 
for food is severe and while the parents make every effort to 
feed their young, they are sometimes deceived and the young 
themselves are at times robbed of their food before they 
have an opportunity to swallow it. Furthermore, the young 
are ten weeks old before they can fly and during at least the 
first half of this period the flooding of that portion of the 
island on which they were born would result fatally. 


Before the appointment of a warden the presence of 
visitors on Pelican Island proved extremely disastrous to 
the young of the ground nesting birds. In close huddled 
flocks they were driven from their nests to which doubtless 
some birds failed to return, while others died from over- 
exertion. This source of danger can now be prevented but 
floods cannot be so readily controlled and at intervals the 
Pelicans must be expected to afford fatal proof of the com- 
parative insecurity of a ground-nesting site. 

The Ceremony of Nest Relief 

The Eggs. Birds of the tropics as a rule lay a smaller 
number of eggs than their northern representatives ; but the 
White Pelican of Saskatchewan and the Brown Pelican of 
Florida each lay three eggs. On Pelican Island the eggs are 
generally laid by December 1, and hatch four weeks later. 

Brown Pelicans do not differ in color sexually. It is im- 
possible therefore to determine by external appearance the 
sex of the sitting bird. Observation from a blind, however, 
reveals the fact that both sexes incubate, the change of 
places being usually preceded by an interesting little per- 
formance which I have called the Ceremony of Nest Belief. 


As a rule the bird on the nest is not attended by its mate, 
who may be feeding, bathing, resting on the shore, or sailing 
high in the air. The returning bird alights near the nest 
and, with bill pointed to the zenith, advances slowly, waving 
its head from side to side. At the same time the sitting 
bird sticks its bill vertically into the nest, twitches its half- 
spread wings, and utters a low, husky, gasping chuck, the 
only note I have ever heard issue from the throat of an adult 
wild Brown Pelican. After five or six wand-like passes of 
its upraised head, the advancing bird pauses, when both 
birds, with apparent unconcern begin to preen their feath- 
ers, and a moment later the bird that has been on duty steps 
off the nest, and the new comer at once takes its place. 

This was the ' ' ceremony ' ' in its full development ; often 
it was not so complete. Doubtless it possesses some sexual 
significance, and observation points to the conclusion that 
the relieving bird is the male and that the ceremony is omit- 
ted when he gives place to his mate. 

There was apparently no such regularity in this event as 
exists, for example, among incubating Pigeons with which 
each sex spends its appointed time on the nest. 

The Young. The young Pelican is distinguished chiefly 
by the surprising amount of noise it makes. It can be heard 
almost before it can be seen ; as with only the tip of its bill 
visible it announces by a choking grunt its early release 
from the egg. 

In ' ' Bird Studies with a Camera ' ' I have given some 
account of the growth of young Pelicans, and it may be 
stated here merely, that the young are livid black, naked, 
and blind at birth ; the eyes open the second day and at the 
age of ten or twelve days a white down makes its appear- 
ance which in about a week more completely covers the chick. 
This is followed by the grayish brown plumage of flight 
which first appears upon the wings and is fully acquired 
when the bird is about ten weeks old. 

The voice, at first a choking bark, passes through a rasp- 



ing k-r-r-r-ring stage to a high piercing scream in the down- 
covered bird, to a dignified groan in the bird in flight plum- 
age. The statement in "Bird Studies with a Camera" that 
after it has acquired the power of flight the young bird, like 
the adult, is virtually voiceless, is an error, later observa- 
tion showing that the high scream is largely a feeding note 
which the fledged young utter at least as long as they receive 
food from the parent. 

With the addition of 
triplets to the Pelican 
family, domestic prob- 
lems became more com- 
plicated and the opera- 
tion I use the term 
advisedly of feeding is 
the most remarkable 
performance one will ob- 
serve on Pelican Island. 
Prior to using a blind, I 
had been unable to dis- 
cover how the naked, 
blind, squirming Pelican 
of a day or two old was 
fed by its great-billed 
parent. But with the ut- 
most ease the croaking, wobbly little creature helped itself 
to the predigested fish, which, regurgitated by the parent 
into the front end of its pouch, was brought within reach of 
its offspring. 

This method is followed until at the age of about three 
weeks the young are covered with down, when, evidently 
requiring a larger supply of food than their parents can 
prepare for them, and no longer needing predigested nour- 
ishment, they extend their feeding excursions into the throat 
of the patient parent, finding there entire fish, which in some 
inexplicable manner they generally swallow before with- 

" The croaking, wobbly little crea- 
ture helped itself " 


drawing their head. Two and even three young will thus 
actively pursue their search for food at the same time, and 
only their extended and fluttering wings seem to keep them 
from disappearing in the depths of the cavernous parental 
pouch. - >- j, j 

Not for a moment do they stop their high-voiced squeal- 
ing, and the rise and fall of their partly muffled screams 
indicate the nature of their success in getting food. 

Occasionally the poor 
judgment of the parent 
allied to the greed of the 
young, leads the latter to 
attempt to swallow too 
large a fish, when the old 
bird saves its young 
from choking to death by 
forcibly pulling the fish 
from the throat it re- 
fuses to go down. More 
frequently the young 
Pelican secures a fish not 
too large, but too long 
for it, when it swallows 
it as far as it will go, 

and, with the tail stick- 
Young Pelican Feeding . 

mg irom its pouch, 

quietly waits for the head to digest before it can en- 
compass the whole prize. In one such instance the victim 
chanced to be a needle fish, which, as it would not go down 
head first was finally taken in the reverse direction. It is, 
however, when the brown wing-feathers begin to grow and 
the young leave the nest that feeding occasions the greatest 
excitement. In March, 1908, an exceptional opportunity was 
afforded to study the young birds not only after they had 
left the nest, but after they had acquired the power of flight. 
The early nesting of the fall of 1907, combined with favor- 



able climatic conditions, had, as has been remarked, resulted 
in both an early and uniform advance in the development of 
the breeding season. Not more than thirty birds were still 
incubating while at least ninety-nine per cent of the young 
were on the wing and were approximately the same age. 

A cold spell late in February had resulted in the death 
of at least five hundred birds just as they were acquiring the 

" Extend their feeding excursions into the throat of the 
patient parent " 

power of flight, but between a thousand and twelve hundred 

As we landed on the island these young, with the adults, 
took flight and I anticipated little success in securing photo- 
graphic studies of birds, which, unlike those confined to the 
nest, appeared to have no fixed place of abode. Observations 
from a blind, showed, however, that these birds evidently 
did have certain definite places, doubtless in the vicinity of 



the nests in which they were born, to which they soon 
returned after being disturbed, and it appeared also, much 
to my surprise, that these fully fledged birds averaging now 
slightly larger and heavier than the adults, were still being 
fed by their parents. Here indeed was the reason for the 
continued occupation of the home-site in order that the par- 
ent might have the least difficulty in locating its dependent 

Young Pelicans After Feeding 
The bird at the right has a needle-fish projecting from its pouch 

Under these circumstances throughout the day, but par- 
ticularly in the afternoon, the island was in a constant 
uproar. As many as six feeding scenes might be in progress 
at once, each the center of a mob of struggling, screaming 

The adult bird recognizes its own offspring in part 
doubtless by locality, largely by sight, and possibly by scent. 
Several times old birds were seen to permit a young one to 
begin to insert its bill in their pouch only to discover that, 
apparently, it was not their chick, when it was denied 
further admittance to the base of supplies. 



The young evidently distinguish between a bird which 
has food and one that has not, though so deeply are the fish 
swallowed, that no difference was discernible to my eyes ; 
but beyond this they suppress any discrimination they may 
possess. Their motto is clearly "any old bird" provided it 

" Mobbed by all the nest graduates in the vicinity " 

has something in its pocket, so to speak, and on the arrival 
of such a bird from the fishing grounds it is mobbed by all 
the nest graduates in the vicinity who with a riotous shout- 
ing and clashing of wings attempt to ' ' hold it up. ' ' Often 
the adult is forced to seek refuge in a short flight and make 
a further attempt to reach her young. Again in the strug- 
gle the load of fish may be dropped, when there is a wild 
scramble to pick it up, a manner of feeding at which the 
young seem adepts, and again, if the attacking party be not 
too large, the parent succeeds in driving away all but her 



own, who, once he has entered his claim, is generally permit- 
ted to work it in peace. On occasions, however, the old bird 
does not escape so easily and two and even three of the 
young equalling her in size succeed in getting their heads 

down her throat which 
she expands in a way a 
boa constrictor might 
envy. It might be imag- 
ined that the best posi- 
tion for the adult to 
assume during this really 
terrible operation would 
be on the ground where 
the neck could be ex- 
panded and the distance 
to the fish shortened, and 
this indeed is the posi- 
tion from which the 
young are commonly 
permitted to secure their 
food ; but not infre- 
quently a feeding bird 
perched on a stub as high as three feet and stretched down 
her head and much contracted neck toward the young on the 
ground below. 

The parent does not, of course, always have to fight its 
way through a mob to feed its offspring. Often only a bird 
or two is to be driven off and on such occasions the rightful 
young assist, the method of attack employed by both being 
thrusts of the bill from which no harm appears to follow. 
The actions of the rejected young bird are remarkable. With 
an only-son air he prances confidently up to the food-bear- 
ing adult and without so much as by your leave attempts to 
insert his bill. When, however, he receives a blow where he 
expected a fish, his demonstrations of disappointment are 
uncontrolled. He acts like a bird demented, swinging his 

Pelican Feeding a Young Bird Larger 
than Itself 


head from side to side, biting one wing and whirling around 
to bite the other in the most ludicrous manner. 

It is inexplicable that the same performance, in an exag- 
gerated degree, is gone through with by the bird which has 
been permitted to feed, after it emerges from the parent's 
pouch. For a moment it seems dazed, perhaps because of 

Young Pelican after feeding 
" Lays its head on the ground as though it had received a violent blow " 

lack of air as well as by the size of the meal it has secured. 
It lays its head on the ground as though it had received a 
violent blow, but soon this apparent semi-consciousness is 
followed by the most violent reaction as the bird arising to 
its feet grasps its wing, waves its head and behaves in the 
same crazy way as the bird which has been denied a meal. 
Possibly this surprising exercise may aid the bird in swal- 
lowing, when the same exhibition after the bird has 
attempted and failed to get a meal, should be considered the 
result of suggestion. 

The young Pelican although repeatedy disowned is often 
persistent in its demands for food and when only two young 
are present the parent frequently finds difficulty in adminis- 
tering to her own. Even when the right bird has succeeded 
in finally establishing connections with its parent, the 


stranger may join it and not only share the meal but force 
the first comer from the table without the old bird appar- 
ently being aware of the change. 

The young Pelican is not particular as to his choice of 
food and on four occasions during the absence of the brood- 
ing parent, which had taken wing at my approach, I saw 
fully grown birds take half -naked young, about the size of 
plucked Pigeons, from the nest and devour them, several 
sometimes struggling to secure the prize. Where ground- 
nesting Pelicans are disturbed this canibalism must 
appreciably increase the mortality of the nesting season. 

Young Pelican After Feeding 
The lump in the bird's throat is a young Pelican it has just swallowed 

Birds which capture their food by diving from the air do 
not as a rule, so far as my experience goes, inherit this 
method of feeding but acquire it through imitation of their 
seniors. The fact that adult Pelicans rarely if ever fish 
near Pelican Island gave me no opportunity of observing 
the young with the adult on its feeding grounds. 

The Adult. No one can look a Pelican squarely in the 
eye without being impressed by the bird's reserved, grave 
dignity. The same patriarchal bearing in a man suggests 
years of fruitful experience and the learning of sages and 

Is the bird a feathered caricature of a human prototype, 


or does its white head contain the wisdom its owner 's out- 
ward experience so strongly suggests. In short, where in 
the psychological scale, shall we place this bird of imposing 
presence ? 

I have made no experiments designed to determine the 
mental status of the Brown Pelican on which, however, my 
observations may throw some light. 

During that three months 
of the year when the wants 
of its offspring make the 
heaviest demands upon the 
adult, the Pelican's daily 
activities apparently follow 
a regular routine. At the 
first hint of dawn certain 
birds, whether always .the 
same or of the same sex it 
would be difficult to deter- 
mine, leave the island for 
distant fishing grounds, fly- 
ing diagonally northeast or 
southeast over a regularly 
traveled air line to the sea 
and then following the coast 
line north or south as the 
case may be. With a favor- 
able wind they travel high 
before it, with a head wind 

they Skim low over the '' For distant fishing grounds '> 

waves, usually just outside the breakers. 

When several birds happen to leave together over the 
same route the characteristic diagonal, single-file flock is 
soon formed and the birds progress by alternately flapping 
and sailing in unison, the first flap after the sail being 
usually given by the leader, not necessarily because he is 
the leader but because being in advance he doubtless 



encounters greater air resistance and is the first to lose 
momentum when sailing. It is said that the birds go as far 
as forty miles to reach favorite fishing grounds, near Cape 
Canaveral for instance, but I have never seen them farther 
than ten miles from home, when, however, they showed no 
signs of stopping. 

The First Upward Stroke of the Wing Preceding Flight 
Note the separation and angle of the five outer primaries 

Almost invariably the returning birds are in flocks of 
from three or four to as many as fifty and these lines of 
stately creatures flying steadily with striking power and 
regularity of movement constitute one of the impressive 
sights of the Florida coast. 

The flock formation is maintained until the birds reach 
the island, when they separate to proceed directly to their 
homes, situated perhaps in different parts of the colony. 


The time of the return is doubtless more or less 
governed by the success of the expedition, but the young 
seem to be fed most actively between eight and ten in the 
morning and two and four in the afternoon. The latest 
fishers reach the island when it is too dark to distinguish 
minor details of the landscape and at such times I have had 

The Pelican Yawn 

them sweep by within a few yards; nevertheless they 
appear to go to their nest-sites without difficulty and the 
resulting outcry indicates that their young do not go to bed 

Menhaden form a large proportion of the fish captured 
and big or little they are carried not in the pouch, but too 
far down the throat to be visible even as a protuberance. 


Most of the birds fish at sea and even if they took valuable 
food fish, lovers of birds as well as lovers of fish are to be 
considered. Better spare a mullet or two than rob the air 
of one of its distinguished citizens. When the day comes in 
which everything interfering with our acquisition of dollars 
and cents must be destroyed, the world will indeed be a fit 
abode for those who have despoiled it. 

After feeding its young, the adult, if it is not too late, 
often goes a short distance off shore to bathe, with much 
loud slapping of wings and dashing of spray. The bath 
finished it comes to the beach to preen its feathers. A very 
large part of the time of both adult and young is given to 
the care of their plumage. The foot evidently can reach only 
the side of the neck and the loud rasping scratching of this 
part of the body is one of the characteristic sounds of island 

After the feathers are dressed the birds generally go for 
a promenade in the sky when they rise to a thousand feet or 
more above their home, and, on set wings, sail in wide 
circles apparently for pure enjoyment of the exercise. At 
such times they are often joined by the young which are on 
the wing. 

When several thousand birds of one species not only 
select the same bit of ground for a residence but build their 
homes side by side, one might infer that they possessed 
marked sociability of character ; but I have looked in vain 
for any evidence of friendly or communal relations between 
the thickly grouped Pelican households. The virtual voice- 
lessness of adult Pelicans implies in itself a limited means 
of communication. The birds steal one another's nesting- 
material with an air which plainly bespeaks a knowledge of 
their guilt and that they expect punishment from the birds 
they have robbed. This may lead to a bloodless fight in 
which the contestants snap their mandibles with pistol-like 
report or grasp each other by the bill to struggle for a few 
seconds. Beyond these occasional little difficulties I have 



seen no evidence of either friendly or hostile relations be- 
tween the adult birds. They live side by side, they go 
fishing together, they return together, and this association 
apparently satisfies an evident desire for companionship. 
While the formation of such island colonies may original- 

" Thrust her bill deep into the nest " 

ly have been due to the gradual elimination of the 
individuals of a species which did not nest in so favorable a 
locality (see "Bird Studies with a Camera" p. 195 where 
this idea is advanced) I now believe that among island nest- 
ing birds there is definite and intentional selection of island 
sites. When the Pelicans have been driven from Pelican 
Island they have sought refuge on another island. White 
Pelicans, as is remarked in a succeeding chapter, also give 
evidence of this actual selection of an island home. Doubt- 


less gregariousness as well as the heredity of habit plays a 
part here. 

Beyond supplying them with food and shelter essential 
to their existence, Pelicans seem to take little interest in 
their off-spring. They often step on their young in a 
clumsy fashion which must sometimes be fatal to very little 
birds. The adults whose voung were devoured by larger 

" Devoured by a scavenging Black Vulture " 

young birds showed no resentment. In one instance the 
naked young of a bird whose nest was unfortunately within 
a few feet of my blind, died through exposure to the sun be- 
fore I was aware of their suffering. Finally when, after 
an hour or so the parent became sufficiently accustomed to 
the blind to return to her nest, she (I assumed it was the 
mother) showed an evident though unintelligent concern at 
her loss. For two hours she stood near the nest containing 
the bodies of the poor little Pelicans returning to it at inter- 
vals to thrust her bill deep into the nest, and toss the 
material about, presumably searching for her chicks which, 
disguised in death, she seemed not to recognize. Happen- 




ing to touch one of them with her bill it was flung from the 
nest as an object of no interest and later was devoured by 
a scavenging Black Vulture with whose meal the surround- 
ing Pelicans showed no concern. 

On another occasion an adult went beyond the bounds of 
mere routine to prevent her offspring from being imposed 
upon by a slightly larger bird. A fish the youngster had 
secured from the parent's throat became lodged crosswise 
in its pouch and would not go down. While attempting to 
disgorge and re-swallow its booty a larger bird standing 
near became interested and offered to assist by relieving the 
smaller Pelican of the fish altogether. It was on the verge 
of success, though evidently against the will of the smaller 
bird, when the latter 's parent, who had probably been 
watching the performance, appeared upon the scene and 
drove the intruder off. Few incidents of this kind were 
noted and observation emphasizes the limited range of the 
Pelican's intelligence. But as one considers the conditions 
under which the birds live, there appear to be no factors to 
stimulate mental development. Their food supply never 
fails and is secured without competition ; after the first few 
weeks of their lives their climatic surroundings are favor- 
able; in disposition they are non-combative; while the 
nature of their nesting-resorts protects them from pre- 
datory animals. In short, life with Pelicans is not 
sufficiently severe to tend to character making. 

Man alone appears to threaten their continued existence 
and from him, fortunately, those of their kin who live on 
Pelican Island are now happily protected. While they can- 
not repay their defenders with the music of Thrushes or a 
display of those traits which so endear the higher animals 
to us, they may at least claim success in filling their place in 
nature, while the charm of every water-way is increased by 
the quaint dignity of their presence. 


In 1858, when Bryant located Pelican Island as ' ' twenty 
miles north of Fort Capron," he took for his base the 
nearest settlement which then appeared on the maps of that 
little known region. But one will search the latest Florida 
maps in vain for a locality with this name, so honored in our 
military service. 

The Fort Capron of the Indian wars is, however, the St. 
Lucie of to-day ; the site of the old fort is still visible, and at 
this point one may start on the Capron Trail, which now, as 
then, crosses the Kissimmee at Fort Bassenger, on a ferry 

On the morning of March 21, 1905, with Aden Summer- 
lin, as guide, Mrs. Chapman and I started westward, on the 
Capron Trail, for a certain rookery of Water Turkeys 
(Anhinga) and Florida Great Blue Herons (Ardea 
herodias wardi) distant some seventeen miles. We camped 
that night in a dense palm hammock near an arm of Seven 
Mile Slough, where the Barred Owls discussed our appear- 
ance, in several languages. Hundreds of Louisiana Herons 
were beginning to nest in the button-wood grown ponds and 
we remained here two days to study them. 

March 23, we crossed the Slough over the mile and a half 
ford, through the saw-grass where I lightened the load by 
putting our canoe overboard and getting a tow all the 
way over and reached our destination early in the after- 

Our camp was in the pines near the border of a great 
cypress swamp, in which were the ponds where the birds we 
desired were supposed to be nesting. White Egrets were 
said to have * ' rooked ' ' here in large numbers but they had 



been "shot out" by my guide's father now a game 
warden ! 

It was not until the next day that we succeeded in reach- 
ing the forest-enclosed sloughs and found a place where, 
after some cutting of the dense undergrowth, our canoe 
could be launched. Doubtless it was the first boat to be 

A Camp in the Palms 

used here. At the same time, I discovered one of those 
evidences of the conflict between soldier and Indian, which 
are so potent in effacing the present and bridging the lapse 
of years. Summerlin, who knew its history, identified it as 
the camp-site of a body of cavalry. They had thrown up 
earthworks, but the long trench was now a rounded hollow 
and the embankment had weathered away. Their horses had 
evidently been tethered to a great pine at the head of the 
trench, the grass, for a radius of six or eight feet around the 
tree, being sparse and stunted. I never passed the place 
without forming a clear mental image of horses and 

The ponds were so thickly covered with glistening 


' ' bonnets, ' ' as yellow pond-lilies are invariably called in 
Florida, that the water was not visible, and it was necessary 
to mow a path, with a machete, to the islets on which the 
Water Turkeys and Herons proved to be nesting. These 
islets, although only a few yards square, usually held at 
least one cabbage palm, with an ash or willow and low 
bushes ; their presence added largely to the beauty of a 

The Home of Heron and Water Turkey 

Note the blind under the palmetto at the left; also the canoe floating 
among the " bonnets " 

scene which, with its "moss" draped cypresses, and luxuri- 
ant growth of bonnets and palms, must have made a fine 
setting for the Egrets, Spoonbills and Paroquets that were 
doubtless abundant here when the troopers camped in the 
neighboring pines. 

The place itself, however, had lost none of its singular 
picturesqueness and animal life was still abundant enough 


to make one forget the past in the attractions of the present. 
My blind was quickly erected on the islet, from which I could 
observe the Water Turkeys on a neighboring islet, and soon 
the nearly grown Ward 's Herons, in a nest just above my 
head, were chanting their croaking food-call; the Water 
Turkeys, with rattling, rasping notes, came back to their 
nests ; Barred Owls called from the gloom of the cypresses 
and out in the pines ISandhill Cranes were trumpeting, 
.b'rom the forest of bonnet leaves and roots, bull-frogs 
grunted and alligators whined ; a sucker and a great soft- 
shelled turtle came to the surface to investigate a bit of 
orange-peel which had fallen into the water at my feet, and 
everywhere, in the bonnets, on the islets and in the bushes, 
there were moccasins. One crawled out to sun himself on the 
islet which was barely large enough for me, and I discov- 
ered him coiled at exactly (measured later!) three feet and 
six inches from my back. Doubtless he would have agreed 
to remain on his side if I had consented to stay on mine, but 
it seemed to me that an island six feet in diameter was not 
large enough for us both, and he, poor fellow, being the 
smaller and having no gun, was forced to leave in two 

About one hundred pairs of Water Turkeys were breed- 
ing on the islets in this secluded place ; their remarkably 
well-made nests being in the bushes and trees from three or 
four, to fifteen or twenty feet above the water ; in some 
instances a single islet held as many as seven. 

The nests contained eggs in various stages of incubation, 
and young up to the downy stage. The young of the same 
nest, as I have observed on previous occasions, were of dif- 
ferent ages and varied greatly in size, one nest holding 
young several days old and fresh eggs. 

The young raise their long, slender, tremulous necks 
above the nest and utter incessantly a twittering peep; 
while the expanded hyoids so increase its size that the head 
appears to be placed on the neck upside down. They secure 

Water Turkey and Nest 


their food as do young Pelicans, Cormorants, and all other 
members of the order Steganopodes with whose habits I am 
familiar, by thrusting the head down the parent's throat. 
The stomach of one young bird contained three fish, the 
longest measuring six inches; in another a catfish was dis- 
covered. With a family which may vary in size from the 
newly hatched chick to one a foot or more in length, the 
problem of securing fish the proper size for the young is 
evidently more complicated with Water Turkeys than it is 
with Pelicans. The parent seems to bring a large supply of 
food ; a female, on one occasion, remained at the nest about 
an hour and fed her young repeatedly. 

Although they soar with exceptional ease, Water Tur- 
keys alight very clumsily, virtually tumbling on to their 
perches with much flapping of wings and loss of balance 
before coming to rest. When not alarmed, they seem to 
take flight with much hesitation, opening and closing their 
wings, in preparation, several times before they venture to 
trust themselves to their support. When alighting near the 
nest, they always utter their harsh, grating calls which, if 
another bird chances to be near, is replied to with threaten- 
ing motions of the sharply pointed bill. But although 
quarrelsome, they never get beyond this exchange of com- 

Fish Crows, one of the greatest enemies of rookery 
nesting birds were, as usual, present, and looking every 
inch the thief as they hunted from tree to tree in search of 
unprotected eggs. At the same time, they cawed loudly ; 
though why they should thus advertise their presence, un- 
less it be to protest their innocence, it is difficult to see. One 
slipped up to a near-by Water Turkey's nest, from which 
the owners were absent, quickly took a blue egg in his bill 
and, with rapid wing strokes, flew to a cypress to devour it 
at his ease ; then his appetite whetted and courage aroused, 
he came back to the nest and, standing on its edge, ate all 
the eggs remaining. The Water Turkeys sometimes pro- 


tested slightly, but made no attempt to defend their homes 
from the black-coated robbers. 

There were about fifteen Florida Great Blue Herons ' 
nests scattered about the slough, all containing newly 
fledged young. Most of them were within ten feet of the 
water and offered an exceptional opportunity to study, and 
possibly even photograph, the before unpictured homelife 
of this splendid bird. 

The blind was therefore moved to an islet some fifty 
feet long and a fourth as wide, from one end of which an 
unobstructed view could be had of a Heron's nest, contain- 
ing three large young and distant about forty feet. A dense 
growth of young palms afforded partial concealment for 
the blind, which was rendered virtually invisible by a cover- 
ing of dead palm leaves. The blind was arranged at the 
conclusion of a day with the Water Turkeys. It could be 
entered from the rear of the island without one's being seen 
from the nest, and the conditions seemed ideal for out- 
witting one of the most wary of Florida birds. 

The young Herons were almost as easily alarmed as 
their parents, and, at the first sign of danger, squatted flat 
in the nest with close-pressed bills. The next morning, 
when I reached the blind without the young birds being 
the wiser, success in photographing the parents seemed only 
a matter of time. It was not long, however, before the alert 
attitude of the young indicated -beyond question the proxi- 
mity of one of the parents and, following the direction of 
their eager, expectant look,' I discovered the splendid 
creature perched on the higher growth to the -left, clean-cut 
and statuesque against the sky. She stood there calmly, 
showing no trace of the intense excitement which now 
possessed her offspring ; and. quietly surveyed her sur- 
roundings. Assured that all was well, with erect plumes and 
partly expanded wings, she slowly walked downward 
toward the nest, with a dignity of motion and majesty of 
pose I have never seen excelled by any other bird. 

Great Blue Heron Approaching Nest 
" With dignity of motion and majesty of pose ' 


Great Blue Heron Feeding Young 
"Its bill was seized by one of the young" 

The young now were frantic with excitement and, in 
chorus, uttered their cuk-cuk, cuk-cuk feeding call. As the 
parent stepped slowly into the nest, its bill was seized by 
one of the young. The young bird did not thrust its bill 
down the parental throat nor was the parent's bill intro- 
duced into that of the young. The hold of the young bird 
was such as one would take with a pair of shears, if one 
were to attempt to cut off the adult 's bill at the base. In 
this manner the old bird's head was drawn down into the 
nest where more or less digested fish was disgorged, of 
which all the young at once partook. On one occasion, the 
adult disgorged a fish at least a foot in length and on dis- 
covering that it was too large for the young, the parent 
re-swallowed the fish and returned to a perch near the nest, 
while awaiting for the processes of digestion to continue the 
preparation of the meal. 



It was with no small elation that I obtained this intimate 
view of a Heron family and observed this so far as I am 
aware before unknown method of administering to the 
wants of its young. The prospect for making still further 
additions to the life-history of the species, seemed admir- 
able; but, the morning's work finished, I reached the border 
of the forest just in time to see my tent in the pines ahead 
burst into sudden flame, destroying everything in it but my 
photographic plates which, being at one end, were rescued 
by Mrs. Chapman. Paraffine used in water-proofing canvas 
and a spark from the camp fire had proved a disastrous 
combination, and work on the Herons was of necessity 

Water Turkey 
They often assume this attitude while drying their plumage 


Twenty years have passed since I saw in Florida my 
first Egret, but I retain a clear-cut mental picture of the 
scene in which the bird 's snowy plumage shone with sur- 
prising whiteness against a darkly wooded background. It 
seemed an ethereal creature, too pure for earthly existence, 
a veritable Bird of Paradise. Nor has subsequent familiar- 
ity in any way decreased this impression of a certain angel- 
ic quality, due no doubt to the dazzling purity of the bird 's 
plumage as well as to the charm of its haunts. 

It was the large Egret, (Herodias egretta) I saw. The 
Snowy Egret (Egretta candidissima) is a daintier, more 
exquisite bird, but, in nature, cannot always be satisfactor- 
ily distinguished from the young of the abundant Little 
Blue Heron, while its much smaller size makes it a far less 
impressive figure in the landscape than its stately rela- 
tive. Futhermore, the Snowy Egret is a less shy bird and 
its recurved plumes are more highly prized than the 
long, straight ' ' aigrettes ' ' of the larger species and even 
twenty years ago, it was a comparatively rare bird" in 

My experiences, therefore, have been with the larger 
Egret, which I have long sought to find nesting under con- 
ditions suitable for reproduction in a Habitat Group. A few 
nests were discovered here and there, but always, when a 
rookery of promising size was reported, the plume-hunters 
arrived first and word came that the * l long Whites have all 
been shot out. ' ' 

Thus, year by year, the Egrets have decreased in num- 
ber, and with them has gone one of the most distinguished 
figures of the Florida wilds. The state, learning the value 
of the treasure of which she has been robbed, has passed 


stringent laws prohibiting the killing of Egrets. So, too, 
she has passed laws against pick-pockets, but just so long 
as there are pockets worth picking there will be someone to 
pick them, and just as long as Egrets ' plumes are worth 
their weight in gold there will be some one to supply them, 
until, a passing fancy gratified, the last plume has found its 
way from the bonnet to the ash-barrel. 

"Without one promising lead to follow, I had virtually 
abandoned the Egret hunt, when, from another state than 
Florida, word came of an Egret rookery creditable to the 
days of Audubon. It appears that, when a vast territory 
was acquired as a game preserve, by a club of sportsmen, 
it contained a few Egrets, survivors of a once flourishing 
colony. After seven years of rigid protection, they and 
their progeny form so conspicuous an element of local bird- 
life that, on the evening of May 7, 1907, as I reached the 
region in which they lived, I saw them in dozens flying 
toward the still distant rookery. 

The return, at nightfall, of birds to their nests, or to a 
fixed roosting-place, is possessed for us of that interest 
which is attached to all the intelligible actions of animals. 
The knowledge that the creature has a definite plan or pur- 
pose seems to emphasize our kinship with it. So we mark 
the homeward flight of Heron or of Crow and, knowing 
whither they are bound, travel with them in fancy to the 
journey's end. This has been a fatal habit for the Herons. 
It mattered little how secluded was the rookery ; the hunter 
found it simply by following their line of flight. 

My way to the home of the white-plumed birds was less 
direct than their air-line. For hours , a little home-made 
tug, with a swelling wave at her bow, took me through a 
succession of bays, canals, cut-offs and serpentine creeks, 
frightening the Gallinules and Blackbirds in the reeds, and 
surprising an occasional alligator on his favorite mud bank. 

A night's rest, and in the morning the journey was 
resumed through park-like pine forests and under the moss- 




hung live-oaks with every 
tree and plant by leaf and 
blossom, and every bird by 
plumage and voice, proclaim- 
ing the sweetness, beauty 
and joy of May. Ten miles of 
spring's pageant brought me 
to the moat of the Egrets' 
stronghold. Here I entered 
a boat, to pass through an 
apparently endless, flooded 
forest, known as the Lake of 
the Great Eeserve. 

There are delights of the 
water and delights of the 
wood, but when both are 
combined and one's canoe- 
path leads through a forest, 
and that of cypress, clad in 
new, lace-like foliage and 
draped with swaying moss, 
one's exaltation of spirit 
passes all measurable 
bounds. No snapping of 
twigs or rustling of leaves 
betrays one. We paddled so 
easily, so noiselessly, that we seemed as much inhabitants 
of the place as the great alligators that sank at our 

The Fish Hawks whistled plaintively, but settled on 
their nests as we passed below them ; the Wood Ducks led 
their broods to the deeper woods ; Pileated and Bed-bellied 
Woodpeckers, Crested Flycatchers, Tufted Tits and glow- 
ing Prothonotary Warblers, at home in holes in the cypress ; 
Parula Warblers weaving their cradles in the Spanish 
moss all accepted us as part of the fauna, and it was not 

Louisiana Heron and Nest 



Cypresses in Which the Egrets Were Nesting 
The blind may be seen in the upper right-hand corner of the picture 

until we reached the first dwellings of the rookery that our 
presence caused alarm. 

Here, at the tops of the tallest cypresses, from seventy 
to one hundred feet from the water, the Great Blue Herons 
had built their broad platforms. With protesting squawks, 
they stretched their legs, folded their necks and took to the 
air, leaving their nearly fledged young to peer over the edge 
of the nest at the disturbing object below. With no less 



concern, I looked at the disturbing object above. If the 
Egrets had chosen similar nesting sites they could be 
photographed only from a balloon ! 

" With curved neck and streamii;^ plumes " 

Beyond the Great Blue Herons, was a settlement of the 
singularly marked Yellow-crowned Night Herons. Their 
nests were within fifteen feet of the water, but they slipped 
away so quietly that only close watching showed them dis- 
appearing through the trees beyond. For two miles we 
paddled thus in a bewildering maze of sunlit, buttressed 
cypress trunks with shiny, round-headed "knees" protrud- 
ing from the water, and with every branch heavily moss- 
draped. The dark waters showed no track, the brown 
trunks no blaze ; we seemed to be voyaging into the un- 



Finally, the environs were passed and we now 
approached the most densely populated part of the rookery. 
Thousands of Louisiana and Little Blue Herons left their 
nests in the lower branches and bushes, their croaking 
chorus of alarm punctuated by the louder, more raucous 

A Sudden Turn 

squawks of hundreds of Egrets, as they flew from their 
nests in the upper branches. It was a confusing and fasci- 
nating scene, an admirable climax to the passage through 
the weird forest. 

For a time, I was content to sit quietly in the boat and 
revel in the charm and beauty of the place, my enjoyment 
unmarred by the thought that at any moment Satan, in the 
guise of a plume-hunter, might enter this Eden. 

The Little Blue and Louisiana Herons nested at an 
average height of from six to eight feet. One bush held no 
less than thirty-two nests, all of which contained eggs, few 
young of either species having yet been hatched. The 



"Ventured to alight in the home tree" 

Egrets nested at an average height of forty feet. Eggs 
were in some nests, while in others there were nearly fledg- 
ed young. While far less shy than I had before found them, 
the birds were still abundantly wary, and obviously could 
be observed to advantage only from concealment. After 



Egret Feeding Young 

some search, a group of nests was discovered, which it was 
believed could be studied and photographed from a neigh- 
boring tree, distant some thirty feet. The umbrella blind 
was therefore placed in the tree, at a height of forty-five 
feet, and liberally draped with Spanish moss. It was 
arranged to fall over a limb which, for several hours dur- 
ing each of the three succeeding days, served as a perch 
from which my notes and photographs were made. I have 
had more comfortable seats, but few that were so enjoyable. 
From the concealment of the same blind, it had been my 
fortune to watch Flamingos, Pelicans and many other 
ground-nesting birds at close range ; but never before had I 
attempted to enter a bird colony in the tree tops, and the 
experience was as exhilarating as it was novel. 

The Little Blue and Louisiana Herons soon returned to 
their nests below, the former, noisy and quarrelsome, call- 
ing at each other notes which sounded strangely like tell you 
ivhdt, tell you what; the latter were less demonstrative and 


more quiet. The Egrets did not accept the situation so 
readily. Seven pairs were nesting in the trees near me. 
Some had eggs, others young birds in various stages of 
development. Flying to and fro, with curved neck and 
streaming plumes, the parents inspected the blind for some 
time before thev ventured to alight in the home tree. Then 

An Egret Family After Feeding 

they came cautiously to the more distant branches, there to 
remain indefinitely, while uttering a protesting rapid cuk- 
cuk-cuk, with the regularity and persistence of a metro- 
nome. Their strong desire to return to their nest was 
expressed in an alertness which led them to make frequent 
changes of attitude. In a large series of pictures of wait- 
ing birds, no two have the wonderfully expressive neck in 
the same position. It is remarkable how the pose of this 
member affects a Heron's appearance. 

Doubtless, the young birds were not a little puzzled by 
the unusual reluctance of their parents to administer to 


their wants. In vain they uttered their frog-like kek-kek- 
Jcek, and stretched their necks hopefully. The old birds 
were not assured. So the young resorted to their custo- 
mary occupations of leg- or wing- stretching, or yawning, 
or preening a brother's or sister's feathers, picking at 
imaginary objects here and there ; all good exercises for 
growing birds. The larger ones made little journeys to the 
limbs near the nests, the necks taking a different curve with 
every movement, and expressing every emotion from 
extreme dejection to alert and eager expectancy. Finally, as 
the old birds were convinced that the blind was harmless, 
their reward came. With harsh, rattling notes and raised 
crest, one of the parents alit near the nest. Its superbly 
threatening attitude was clearly not alarming to the young 
birds, who welcomed it by voice and upstretched, extended 
neck. Gravely the parent stood regarding its young, while 
its crest dropped and its pose relaxed. Then, as it stepped 
to the edge of the nest, it lowered its head, when its bill was 
immediately seized by one of the youngsters. The feeding 
scene which followed was exactly like that described in the 
chapter on the Florida Great Blue Heron. 

This Heron rookery may be described as a by-product of 
a reservation maintained primarily for hunting purposes. 
The immediate response of the surviving birds to the pro- 
tection given them when their almost depleted rookery pass- 
ed into the possession of the sportsman's association, now 
owning it, is encouraging evidence of what may be done in 
other localities, if the laws are enforced. Such work, how- 
ever, should not be undertaken without the assurance that it 
will be continuous and adequate. The co-operation of the 
National Association of Audubon Societies, should be se- 
cured. In its hands a small endowment may be made to 
accomplish wonders in bird preservation. 


Cuthbert Rookery is probably the last rookery in Flori- 
da at all comparable with those great gatherings of nesting 
birds formerly common throughout the state. Rookeries 
of Ibises, or Cormorants, of Little Blue and Louisiana 
Herons and other nonplume-bearing birds may still be 
found by those who know where to look for them. But at 
Cuthbert alone, so far as I am aware, will one find all the 
birds mentioned, together with Spoonbills, American and 
Snowy Egrets. This rookery is situated in what the maps 
term the "Great Mangrove Swamp" which borders the 
Everglades at the southern extremity of Florida, and is 
about seven miles from the coast, at a point known as Snake 
Bight, some twelve miles east of the settlement of Flamin- 
go. The proposed extension of the Florida East Coast 
railroad to Cape Sable would have passed within a mile or 
two of it. 

Cuthbert Rookery was discovered some twenty years 
da. It has been ' ' shot out" repeatedly, but its isolation and 
comparative inaccessibility, together with the absence of 
fresh water, make it worthy the plumer's attention only 
when the progeny of the birds which have escaped the last 
raid, have become sufficiently numerous. Cuthbert 's isola- 
tion also makes it a refuge for birds which have been 
" broke up" in less remote places, and it is not improbable 
that the last Snowy Egret and Roseate Spoonbill of Florida 
will be shot at this point. 

Cuthbert Rookery was discovered some twenty years 
ago by the man for whom it was named. He is reported to 
have killed $1,800 worth of plume birds on his first visit. 
The first ornithologists to reach Cuthbert Rookery were A. 
C, Bent and H. K, Job, who visited it under the guidance of 


Warden Guy Bradley in May, 1903. Mr. Bent 's notes on 
the birds found breeding there have been recorded in "The 
Auk" (XXI, 1904, pp. 20-29:259-270), while in his " Wild 
Wings ' ' Mr. Job has given a graphic account of his exper- 

I made four attempts to reach Cuthbert Rookery before 
succeeding. In May, 1904, while en route to it, I was inter- 
cepted by Warden Bradley in the Keys, near Tavenier 
Creek, with news that the rookery had been ' * shot out. ' ' 
Under his guardianship, the "white birds" had increased 
to numbers, which, with aigrettes selling at thirty-two dol- 
lars an ounce, made the venture worth the risk, (for there 
was a risk ; as the man who attempted to ' i shoot out ' ' a 
rookery while Bradley was on guard would probably have 
lost his own "plume") ; the warden was watched and in his 
absence his charges were slaughtered. The man who was 
with Bradley when he returned to the rookery told me "you 
could a-walked right around the ruke-ry on them birds' 
bodies ; between four and five hundred of 'em. ' ' 

The following year, while working toward Cuthbert, my 
outfit was destroyed by fire and operations, necessarily, 
were postponed. That summer, Bradley was shot while on 
duty, a death he had long predicted, and no further effort 
was made to visit the rookery until 1907, when the plan was 
defeated by conditions encountered in the Bahamas. In 
1908, however, the trip was made without mishap, and, once 
started, proved to be a by no means difficult undertaking. 
My special object in visiting Cuthbert was to make studies 
on which to base a group of Roseate Spoonbills. When not 
disturbed, these birds were said to lay in February and if 
all went well they might be found with young the latter part 
of March, before a possible looting of the rookery by 

On March 25, therefore, with A. C. Bent, whose former 
experience proved of much value, and Louis Fuertes, I 
sailed from Miami, at noon, on the "Pearl," a 40-foot jig- 


ger-rigged sharpy with a 10 horse-power engine, in com- 
mand of Capt. Burton. At sunset, we anchored under 
Pumpkin Key and, taking the "inside route", reached Man- 
o '-War Key the following evening. On the morning of the 
27th, we landed on Man-o '-War Key, finding a pair of young 
Bald Eagles about to leave the nest and a pair of Turkey 

The Crew of the " Pearl " 

Vultures about to leave the egg. Later, on Clive Key, we 
discovered " Ardea ivuerdemanni " breeding, and at 4 p. 
m. dropped anchor off Flamingo. If Capt. Burton's infor- 
mation was reliable, we had arrived just in time to prevent 
Cuthbert Rookery from being "shot out", it being reported 
that a party of plumers had planned to start for the 
rookery the following day. I regret that I cannot express 
to these gentlemen in person, my thanks for the discreet 
consideration which prompted them to postpone their visit. 
The next afternoon, accompanied by Louis Bradley, 


brother of the late Warden, and "Melch" Roberts, the 
journey was continued toward Snake Bight, the " Pearl" 
being run to the eastward, until she grounded in about two 
and a half feet of water. Going aground is so normal an 
accompaniment of a cruise in the Florida Keys that it gen- 
erally occasions little comment and the skipper waits philo- 
sophically for the rising tide to float his craft. On the 
present occasion, higher water at midnight enabled the 
* ' Pearl ' ' to get about a mile nearer the Bight. 

March 29, when the great glowing sun rose over the 
Keys we were already well on our way, in small boats, 
toward the Bight. In occasional vague channels, the water 
was between two and three feet deep, but for the greater 
part of the way it measured less than a foot and at times it 
was necessary to push the boat over the mud barely covered 
with water. A dense growth of brown, broad-bladed turtle 
grass gave a fairly good hold for the oars in pushing, and 
furnished support when wading. 

The air was clear, the heavens wreathed with exquisite 
cloud forms, the waters, rippled by a gentle breeze, 
sparkled in the long rays of the sun and the scene was 
possessed of a great charm and beauty. Ospreys and Brown 
Pelicans, each fishing after the manner of its kind, gave life 
to the air ; the first, taking deliberate aim, with quick beat- 
ing wings hovered above his prey before striking ; the latter, 
making snap-shots, plunged down to the waters without so 
much as a preparatory flutter. 

We were now in the very heart of the home of the Great 
White Heron and at least fifty of these birds were in sight 
at a single moment ; those toward the sun, so dark, they 
could with difficulty be distinguished from Ward 's Heron ; 
those to the west, gleaming like snow. 

Often the boat ran on redfish or drum, which darted 
away with a swelling wave above them, or passed close to 
the two keen fins of a great saw-fish or the single fin of a 
shark. Porpoises were hunting in water scarce deep enough 



to float them and Fuertes saw two, evidently acting in con- 
cert, round up a school of mullet and catch them in the air 
as they leaped from the water. 

On the Way to Cuthbert Lake 

It took us five hours to reach the mouth of Snake Creek, 
near the head of the Bight, and the tops of the "Pearl's" 
masts were then barely visible; thanks to favorable condi- 
tions and Roberts ' willing exertions, I greatly enjoyed this 
usually dreaded, much prolonged landing. There were 
great beds of Willet and White Ibis on bars at the head of 
the Bight, and six Eeddish Egrets were fishing there in 
their eager, alert, graceful way. 

At the mouth of Snake Creek we paused for breakfast, 
resuming our journey through the mangroves to Cuthbert 


Lake. I had formed a belief that this part of our route 
would be traversed with great labor, but I do not recall a 
more interesting and enjoyable boating trip. For four 
hours we followed channels through the mangroves, often 
so narrow that there was barely room for the passage of 
the boats. The branches formed a dense canopy overhead, 
and marks of the axe showed they had grown as freely 
below, in places, limbs and roots having been cut out every 
yard of the way. 

There were obvious advantages in not being pioneers 
over this trail ! As the shores became somewhat drier, the 
trees grew higher. The stilt-like, many branched man- 
groves took the most untree-like forms, their limbs, with 
those of the button-woods, being laden with orchids, wild 
pines and other parasitic epiphytes. In the background, 
triangular stalked cactuses, giant ferns, and a small fan 
palm, I have not seen elsewhere in Florida, grew profusely. 
Seen through a picturesque tangle of plant-burdened man- 
grove limbs, down an aisle of dark water, they produced an 
impression of the most luxuriant tropical vegetation, and 
only the birds were needed to make one believe he was on 
some Lower Amazonian igaripe. Birds, however, were not 
common along the wild borders of these attractive streams ; 
a few Cardinals, Carolina Wrens, and White-eyed Vireos, 
all in their south Florida forms, being virtually the only 
species observed. 

At intervals, these shaded passages opened into lakes, 
six in all, varying in size from a quarter of a mile to be- 
tween two and three miles in length. The larger lakes were 
set with islands, breaking the distance and forming charm- 
ing vistas all bordered with mangroves. Here, still lingered 
hundreds of Coots and Lesser Scaup Ducks with a few Blue- 
winged Teal. Here, too, were numerous fish ; a bass and a 
small tarpon leaping into one of our boats as voluntary 
contributions to our larder. 

The exit from one lake into the passage to another was 


sometimes at the end of the lake, sometimes at the side 
masked by over-hanging limbs, which it was necessary to 
raise to permit the entrance of our boats. If Cuthbert 
Rookery had not been discovered from the rear, it would 
probably still remain unknown. It is difficult to believe that 
anyone, unguided, could have reached it over the course we 

Cuthbert Lake is a mile and a half long. The rookery is 
on a mangrove-grown island, not over an acre in extent, a 
mile from the entrance to the lake, but with the sun at our 
backs as we emerged from the last creek, we distinctly saw 
pink-plumaged birds flitting against the dark green back- 
ground of their home. They were the first Spoonbills I had 
ever seen in Florida, during over twenty years bird study 
in the state. I seemed to have overtaken primitive Florida 
bird-life where it was making its last stand. 

In the face of a stiff breeze, the boats were urged over 
the brackish, amber-colored, shallow waters, the hard, rock 
bottom making each push of the oar yield its full return. 
But the life of a mangrove rookery does not reveal itself 
until one is near enough to startle the birds resting or nest- 
ing on the branches beneath the dense foliage, and it was 
not until we were within a hundred yards of the island that 
we could form an idea of the kinds and numbers of its occu- 
pants. Then, the alarmed birds began to appear and we 
saw that there were between thirty and forty Spoonbills, a 
dozen or more Snowy Egrets, three or four hundred Ameri- 
can Egrets, at least two thousand Louisiana Herons with 
possibly fifty Little Blue Herons, several hundred White 
Ibises and a few Cormorants and Water Turkeys. It was a 
fine sight but was soon robbed of its chief attraction by the 
departure of the Spoonbills and most of the White Herons, 
which gathered in a gleaming flock in trees on the north 
shore of the lake. The Louisianas having no commercially 
valuable plumes to dispose of, retain a limited confidence in 
man and expressed their fears only by much calling and 



flying about the rookery without actually leaving it. On 
landing, we found that the Spoonbills and American Egrets 
had nests with eggs. Probably also the Snowy Egrets were 
nesting but we did not succeed in identifying their eggs. The 
season was less advanced than we had hoped to find it, but 
a later visit would doubtless have shown us only a scene of 
devastation, and we considered ourselves fortunate in find- 
ing an exceptionally large number of ' ' White ' ' birds. 

Snowy Egrets 

Their presence was attributed in part to the prolonged 
drouth which had resulted in the desertion of other rook- 
eries, in part to molestation elsewhere. 

It is difficult to study and photograph satisfactorily the 
home-life of birds which nest in mangroves. They cannot be 
seen well from below, while the foliage screens them from 




above and, they build so near 
the tops of the trees, it is 
generally impossible to get a 
suitable point of vantage for 
concealment at their level. I 
arranged my blind, however, 
in what appeared to be the 
best place, and left the rook- 
ery for the camp which our 
men had made back of the 
mangroves, amid the palms, 

ferns, and orchid-hung trees 
on the nearest mainland, dis- 
tant a quarter of a mile. My 
first act now, was to erect a 
bar, in preparation for the 
horde of mosquitoes which 
are usually the most serious 
problem in life here, but, be 
it said to the credit of this 
insect, not ten were seen 
during our stay. 

" Perched 
on the mangroves 
silent and alert " 


Observations made early . the following morning, from 
a tree-top near our camp, showed that apparently all the 
Spoonbills and many of the Egrets had returned to the 
rookery after our departure the preceding evening; but 
when we attempted to call upon them they quickly left with- 
out waiting to inquire the nature of our visit. There being 
no young birds to attract them, it was evident that we could 
not hope to observe these birds until they returned in the 
afternoon. I therefore entered my blind at two o'clock 
remaining until nightfall. While I made no especially note- 
worthy observations or photographs, the experience 
brought me very close to the spirit of rookery life and pos- 
sessed in a high degree that intense interest aroused by 
one's unsuspected presence among a great gathering of 
birds. During the early part of the afternoon the Louis- 
iana Herons known locally as * * Loosies ' ' claimed my at- 
tention. Their nests were everywhere; in the trees and 
bushes from three or four feet, to fifteen or twenty feet 
above the ground. Some were near the drier central part of 
the island, but by far the greater number were in the bor- 
dering mangroves. Most of them contained the full set of 
three fresh eggs, but the birds were still animated by the ex- 
citement of mating and in contest or display created a con- 
fusing variety and volume of sounds. When perched on the 
mangroves they were silent and alert, but encountering a 
mate or rival, in the branches below, both uttered a loud, 
sing-song, qua-haw, qua-haw, qua-haw, qua-haw, or quit-it- 
now, quit-it-now, quit-it-now, as with neck feathers bristling 
until this part seemed three times its usual diameter, and 
crest raised, they pointed their bills upward and half-opened 
their wings. The action revealed the function of the elon- 
gated neck-feathers of this species, which were so ruffled 
that the bird seemed to be wearing a feather boa. While not 
shy, the birds were nervous in the extreme and the snap- 
ping of a twig was followed by silence and, with a rush of 
wings, the sudden flight of virtually every bird that heard 


it. But their alarm was quickly forgotten and in a few 
minutes they had returned and the qua-haw chorus was 
again in full blast. They uttered also other notes ; among 
them a singular growling call which no one would think of 
attributing to a Heron. With but few exceptions, the birds 
observed were in full nuptial plumage, with the face and 
base of the bill blue, but several, doubtless non-breeding 
birds, were in winter dress. 

The nests of the American Egrets and Spoonbills were 
both in the mangroves, often near each other, at an average 
height of ten or twelve feet. Aside from the marked differ- 
ence in their eggs the much larger twigs employed by the 
Spoonbills made their nests easily distinguishable from 
those of the Egrets. The Spoonbills ' eggs were fresh ; those 
of the Egrets had been incubated for about ten days. 

In the absence of their owners, Fish Crows and Florida 
Crows played havoc with the eggs in these nests as well as 
with those of the Louisiana Herons, when opportunity offer- 
ed. But although Crows may be considered the natural ene- 
mies of Herons, whose rookeries they regularly frequent in 
search of eggs or young birds, the Herons paid no attention 
to them and one could but contrast their conduct with thai 
of the Kingbird when a Crow ventures near its nest. Only 
the knowledge that the rookery was doomed, warranted us 
in causing the destruction entailed by the Crows' depreda- 
tions. In view of the plumers ' proposed visit, I confess I 
spared no effort, once our work was done, to drive the 
Kgrets and Spoonbills from the rookery, in the hope that 
they might escape a worse fate than being robbed by Crows. 

The Egrets returned in only small numbers and perched 
no nearer than fifty yards from my blind, at which distance 
I attempted to photograph them with a 23-inch lens, having 
on my ground glass at one time, the American and three 
Snowy Egrets. 

These birds were suspicious and ill at ease, taking alarm 
at the slightest unusual sound. Bradley, while hunting in 


the saw-grass, in the Everglades at the north, narrowly 
escaped being bitten by a rattlesnake, which he shot with 
his rifle. Later, he stated that at the time he was a mile and 
a half across the wind from the rookery. The report of his 
gun was barely noticeable but every White Egret in the 
rookery sprang into the air as though it had been fired at 
and flew rapidly from the rookery. Several similar instan- 
ces of the remarkable development of this bird's fear of man 
and his ways were observed, and herein lies its only hope of 
safety. As a plumer was reported to have put it, the birds 
are now so excessively shy that " you can't even set in a 
ruke-ry without every bird a-leavin ' it. " 

The exquisite Snowy Egrets, virtually the last of their 
line in Florida, seemed less wary than the American Egrets, 
as might be predicted perhaps from their smaller size, a fact 
which may account for their more rapid decrease. 

As the sunlight failed and the polished mangrove leaves 
passed into cold shadow, birds began to return to the rook- 
ery for the night. Flock after flock of White Ibises, with 
bright red feet and faces, came to roost in favorite trees ; 
with much talking the Louisiana Herons greeted birds that 
had been absent during the day ; Turkey Vultures perched 
in rows on the branches of a dead tree, and, suddenly, with 
a woof-woof-woof of wings six Spoonbills lit up my fore- 
ground. One of them perched within fifteen feet of me. 
Other Spoonbills flew overhead, evidently reconnoitering, 
and it was when seen against the intense blue of the zenith 
that their peach-blossom color appeared to take its deepest 
hue. Their flock-formation was the diagonal, single file of 
White Ibis but, unlike those birds, they maintained a steady 
flapping, uninterrupted by short sails. 

As it grew darker, the birds became more numerous, 
pouring into the rookery from every side, and as they set- 
tled for the night, disputing the possession of some perch 
with their neighbors, there arose a veritable babel of voices. 
The Louisianas added new chucks and squawks to the quit- 



Roseate Spoonbill 

it-now chorus ; there was the deep, rasping guttural rattle of 
the larger Egret ; the singular liquid, rolling tvoola-woold 
of Ibis or Spoonbill, I could not determine which, while from 
below, Coots uttered their explosive chut and Florida Galli- 
nules drew on their limitless vocabulary of hen-like notes. 

Their keen sight dimmed by the gloom, the birds were 
less shy. A Louisiana Heron sought what was doubtless 
his regularly frequented perch almost within reach of my 
foot, others took adjoining limbs, and, as the crowning event 


of the afternoon, a Spoonbill and two Snowy Egrets roosted 
in the same tree with me. Surely this was an honor these 
rarest of American birds have accorded few ornithologists. 
It was almost dark when I left the rookery but birds were 
still returning to it, and with the air of one who had waited 
with a purpose, Roberts said that " Long Whites " would 
come back as late as nine o 'clock. 

Cuthbert Eookery should be preserved, both because it 
is a fine example of a type of communal bird-life, for 
which Florida was once distinguished, and because it will 
be the last refuge for several species of birds, which, with- 
out such protection, will shortly become extinct in the Uinted 
States. The task, however, would require the employment 
of two wardens for at least four months of each year, and 
it should be undertaken only when it is assured that through 
lack of funds or for other reasons, the plumers would not 
eventually reap the results. 

" Spoonbills flew overhead " 




Flamingo and Chick 

Compare the decurved bill of the adult with th 
straight bill of the young 



To the naturalist there is an unusual interest in the 
study of island life. An island may be a world with a defi- 
nitely known history. Possibly we may even give the date 
of its appearance, as bar, reef, or cone, above the waters. In 
attempting, therefore, to analyze the life of such islands we 
are not confronted by those perplexing problems which 
often render similar efforts with mainland faunas so far 
from satisfactory. 

The Bahamas, for example, present a comparatively 
simple case. The shallow waters of the Bahaman Bank 
support a great variety of lime-secreting animals corals, 
gorgonias, algae, echinoderms, mollusks, etc., whose skele- 
tons ground up by the action of the waves make a calcar- 
eous sand of which every island in the group, from Great 
Bahama, to Turks Island, a distance of some 550 miles, is 

It is not essential to describe the aeolian process through 
which these islands were formed so well illustrated by the 
exposure in the approach to the Queen's Stairway at Nas- 
sau but it is important for us to know that there is no geo- 
logic or biologic evidence to show that they have ever been 
connected with other land. They belong, therefore, to the 
class which Wallace has designated as Oceanic Islands as 
opposed to Continental Islands, like, for instance, Trinidad 
or England and Scotland. 

Island-making is still in active progress in the Bahamas 
and one has only to cruise through the group to see islands 
in every stage of development and obtain, as it were, an epi- 


tome of its geologic history. Closer study would reveal the 
gradual growth of animal and plant life, as the islands 
themselves have increased in age and become suited to sup- 
port a flora and fauna. 

Restricting our attention to birds, we find that they are 
the very earliest forms of life to take possession of these 
new bits of the earth's surface; these little worlds. Long 
before plants obtain a hold on the water-worn limestone of 
the just born key, the " Pimlico " (Audubon's Shearwater) 
and the " Egg-birds" (Sooty, Bridled, and Noddy Terns) 
come to them. The keys furnish a home in which free from 
molestation except by man they may lay their eggs and 
rear their young, while the surrounding waters afford an 
unfailing supply of food. Later, after sedge (Borrichia), 
sea lavender (Tournefortia), bay cedar (Suriana), sea 
grape (Coccolobis), prickly pear (Opuntia), and other 
pioneer forms of vegetation have covered the rocks with a 
dense, scrubby growth, they become suitable for the occu- 
pation of White-crowned Pigeons, Ground Doves, Honey 
Creepers, Vireos (Vireo eras sir ostris] and Bahama Mock- 
ingbirds. Thus we advance from stage to stage until we 
reach the pine forests of the older islands with their Tana- 
gers (Spindalis), Warblers, Woodpeckers, and Flycatchers. 

There have now been recorded from the Bahamas two 
hundred and four species and subspecies of birds (Riley, 
" The Bahaman Islands," Macmillan Co.) Of this number, 
about one hundred and eight nest in the islands and most of 
these are resident there throughout the year. The approxi- 
mately ninety-six non-breeding birds are, with few excep- 
tions, migrants from eastern North America. Many of them 
winter in the Bahamas, while others use them as stepping 
stones to and from more southern winter homes. In no in- 
stance, unless they breed in the same latitude on the main- 
land, have these migratory birds become permanently res- 
ident in the islands. 

Of the one hundred and eight breeding species, no less 


than forty-four have become sufficiently changed from their 
ancestral stock to be designated as new forms or species. In 
only one instance, and that, strange to say, is supplied by a 
Swallow (Callichelidon cyaneoviridis), has this differentia- 
tion progressed far enough to be accorded generic rank. In 
the remaining forty-three cases it is so slight that in almost 
every instance it is possible to point with assurance to the 
particular species from which it is believed the Bahaman 
bird has been derived. 

Such an analysis shows us that Cuba has made the 
largest contribution to Bahaman bird-life, while Hayti and 
Florida have been drawn on to a lesser degree. Of evident- 
ly fortuitous origin are some half-a-dozen birds apparently 
derived from Mexican or Central American species. The 
ancestors of these birds possibly owe their occurrence in the 
Bahamas to the action of tropical storms. Blown to an 
island, their opportunities for establishing themselves 
would be far more favorable than on the more thickly popu- 
lated mainland. 

As to the causes which have been potent in producing 
these peculiar Bahaman forms little can be said. "We may 
assume that changed conditions of environment acting on 
isolated species, have resulted in their evolution into new 
species, presumably better adapted to new surroundings. 
In the further division of a Bahaman species into two or 
more races, each restricted to a single island, the case be- 
comes more perplexing. We have not different physiogra- 
phic or climatic conditions to the influences of which we may 
ascribe the changes observed. On the contrary, we find dif- 
ferent forms of the same species inhabiting islands almost 
within sight of each other, where all conditions of soil, cli- 
mate, and flora are essentially similar. Perhaps we can as- 
sume here that through the continued isolation of a compar- 
atively small number of individuals, certain characters, due 
originally purely to individual variation, have became per- 
petuated and specific. Among a smaller number of birds 


the extent of variation would not be so wide ; but this would 
be counterbalanced by the fact that any dominant character 
would be far more likely to be preserved through the forced 
interbreeding of closely related individuals. This would 
also hasten the consummation of permanent forms ; the rate 
of divergence among island-inhabiting species being, there- 
fore, more rapid than among those of the mainland. 

The absence of terrestrial mammalia on oceanic islands 
greatly simplifies the problem of existence for species whose 
habits render them subject to attack from predaceous ani- 
mals. Species which have become extinct on continental 
areas, therefore, often continue to exist on oceanic islands 
which thus play the part of protectors as well as creators of 
species. The Flamingo, for example, is known in Florida 
only as an increasingly rare winter visitor to the southern 
coast ; but in the Bahamas, man appears to be its only ene- 
my, and, in favorable localities, where it is secure from 
molestation, this bird continues to exist in large numbers. 

Sooty Tern 


There are larger birds than the Flamingo, and birds 
with more brilliant plumage, but no other large bird is so 
brightly colored and no other brightly colored bird is so 
large. In brief, size and beauty of plume united, reach their 
maximum of development in this remarkable bird, while the 
open nature of its haunts and its gregariousness seem spe- 
cially designed to display its marked characteristics of form 
and color to the most striking advantage. 

When to these more superficial attractions is added the 
fact that little or nothing has been known of the nesting hab- 
its of this singular bird, one may, in a measure at least, rea- 
lize the intense longing of the naturalist, not only to behold 
a Flamingo City without question the most remarkable 
sight in the bird world but, at the same time, to lift the 
veil through which the Flamingo 's home-life has been but 
dimly seen. 

Flamingos belong to the group of birds which in the later 
Tertiary Period doubtless were of circumpolar distribution 
and are now confined to the warmer parts of both hemis- 
pheres (see also remarks on the former distribution of Pel- 

Two species exist in the Old World, four in the New. Of 
the latter, the largest, brightest, and most common species is 
the American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) which is 
found from the Bahamas and southern Florida (irregularly, 
in winter) to Brazil and the Galapagos. Probably in no 
other part of the area inhabited by this bird is it more abun- 
dant than in certain Bahaman islands. Here, the vast shal- 
low lagoons and far-reaching * ' swashes ' ' contain an appar- 
ently inexhaustible store of small, spiral shell (Cerithium) 
upon which it appears to feed exclusively. These lagoons 


also afford it a home where, in the absence of all other pre- 
daceous animals, man appears to be its only enemy. 

The Bahamas, therefore, are not only the best but the 
nearest ground in which the American naturalist may hope 
to study the Flamingo during the season of reproduction. 
Indeed, it was in the Bahamas that C. J. Maynard, in 1884, 
and Sir Henry Blake, in 1887, first reported from actual ob- 
servation, the inaccuracy of the story that Flamingos 
' ' straddle ' ' their nests with their legs dangling on each side 
a myth which, originating with Dampier, in 1669, had per- 
sisted for nearly two hundred years, in default of more defi- 
nite information. At about the same time, Abel Chapman 
and Lord Lilford, through their explorations in Spain, re- 
lieved the European species from the same awkward posi- 
tion, which it had held in natural history literature, at 
least for so long a period. None of these naturalists, how- 
ever, appears to have established intimate relations with 
the Flamingo. Their brief observations were made either 
from a distance or when the birds had been frightened from 
their nests. They were not so fortunate as to discover 
young Flamingos, nor did they attempt to use the camera. 

It was in the spring of 1902 that I first went to the Ba- 
hamas in search of Flamingos. A plan long in mind then 
matured under exceptionally favorable circumstances, and 
the story of this and a succeeding expedition of 1904, as told 
in ' ' The Century ' ' for December of the last named year, ap- 
pears to have aroused an interest which possibly warrants 
the addition of certain details here. 

On April 22, 1902, with J. Lewis Bonhote, Mrs. Bonhote, 
Mrs. Chapman, Louis Fuertes and a crew of seven negroes, 
I sailed from Nassau in the 60-foot schooner " Estrella " 
bound for Inaugua. As a former secretary to the governor 
of the Bahamas, Mr. Bonhote had enjoyed exceptional op- 
portunities to secure information which proved of the first 
importance. Unfortunately our plan to visit Inaugua was 
prevented by an attack of measles which, on the third day 


out, fell to my lot. Keturning to Nassau, Mrs. Chapman and 
I were placed in an abandoned lunatic ward of the Colonial 
Hospital, which on one side was bounded by the lepers ' com- 
pound, while the quarters for the insane were somewhat fur- 
ther removed on the other. At our door was a large cistern 
occupied by a thriving colony of tree toads whose united voi- 
ces, echoing in their cavernous home, often made it impossi- 
ble to distinguish the cries of our demented neighbors. The 
experience was not devoid of novelty. 

In place of the trip to Inaugua, for which time was now 
lacking, Bonhote and Fuertes decided to go to southern An- 
dros, where the former had learned through the Rev. F. 
Barrows Matthews, of a Flamingo rookery which Mr. Mat- 
thews had visited in 1898. It was agreed to make camp near 
the coast and use small boats to reach the site of the rookery 
while the schooner was to be sent back for me. 

Two weeks later I joined the camping party. They had 
visited the old rookery and explored the surrounding coun- 
try seeing many Flamingos but finding no occupied nests. 
No efforts had been spared to secure specimens of the Fla- 
mingo, Fuertes especially desiring one to paint, but thus far 
he had been unsuccessful, and while this narrative is not a 
record of birds killed, the manner in which the first two of 
our total of four Flamingos were secured went so far 
toward compensating me for my fortnight with the lepers 
and lunatics that I cannot resist the satisfaction of describ- 
ing it. 

The day following my arrival, being still too weak to 
hunt, I was landed on a comparatively open place on the 
banks of the creek at the mouth of which the "Estrella" 
was anchored, while the boat continued toward the interior 
in search of fire-wood. The discharge of my gun startled 
two Flamingos, which, unseen, had been feeding in a near- 
by lagoon. They headed for the interior, but, seeing the 
boat, turned to fly down the creek, and from my hiding-place 
behind a mangrove both were secured as they passed. Later 



in the morning, and not fifty yards away, I took the first 
specimen of Northrop 's Oriole collected since the discovery 
of the species by the late Dr. John I. Northrop, on Andros, 
in 1880 ; two visits from fortune which, I fear, Bonhote and 
Fuertes, whose plans I had so sadly disturbed, did not con- 
sider altogether deserved ! 

Painting the First Flamingo 

It was now decided to visit the Washerwoman Keys 
where Terns were nesting, while awaiting a possible return 
of the Flamingos to their old nesting ground ; but when we 
reached the place on May 14, there were still no signs of re- 

This was my first visit to even a deserted Flamingo City 
and I examined its ruins with the interst of an archaeologist 
finds in the dwellings of a lost race. 

Exploration of the surrounding country showed that it 
had been regularly frequented by Flamingos during the 


nesting season. Within a radius of a mile, no less than 
eight groups of nests were discovered. They exhibited suc- 
cessive stages of decay from the old nests, which had almost 
disappeared before the action of the elements, to those 
which were in an excellent state of preservation and had 
evidently been occupied the preceding year. Indeed, in one 
of these nests, I found an old egg. 

Some nests were placed among small mangroves, others 
were hidden in the well-grown mangroves, and one colony, 
which I subsequently learned from Mr. Matthews, had been 
occupied in 1898, was situated on a sand-bar two hundred 
yards from the nearest vegetation. All the groups 
examined contained several hundred nests, and the one on 
the sand-bar, by actual count of a measured section, was 
composed of 2000 of the little mud dwellings. What an 
amazing sight this settlement must have presented when it 
was inhabited by red-plumaged birds standing as closely 
massed as the position of the nests would indicate ! With 
the scene clearly pictured in my mind, I knew I should 
never be content until I had seen it in nature. 

The thousands of nests seen were built of mud, which, I 
learned later, was scooped up by the bird from about its 
feet. In selecting a nesting-site, therefore, the birds are 
governed by the condition of the ground, which must be soft 
enough to serve as mortar. When the rainy season comes 
early in May, and the rainfall is heavy, the water on the 
flat swashes runs back into the mangroves and the birds 
then build in the bushes. But when the rains are delayed, 
or are light, the birds must come more in the open about the 
borders of the lagoons. This enforced proximity to water, 
brings with it danger from tides or the floods following a 
tropical downpour, and the nest is therefore made high 
enough to protect its contents from a rise in the water ; the 
average height being about ten inches. 

Flamingos in small flocks containing from three or four 
to fifty individuals, were seen, but they were excessively 



A Deserted Flamingo City Containing about 2000 Nests 

~;-* Mk ':JP& J! ?* 

A Detail of the Preceding Illustration 


shy. If, without cover, we attempted to approach nearer 
than two hundred yards, there was a sinuous movement 
along the line of birds as the long slender necks were raised 
and the birds regarded us intently. Drawing nearer, we 
could hear a murmur of goose-like honkings as the birds, in 
slow and stately fashion, began to move away step by step. 
Then the leader sprang into the air, stretched his long neck 
and legs to the utmost, and, followed by other members of 
the flock, in diagonal single file, generally flew out of sight. 
It is surprising how far, under proper light conditions, even 
a small flock of Flamingos may be seen. Long after one fails 
to distinguish the individual, in the waving, undulating line 
of birds, the flock shows pink against the sky like a rapidly 
moving wisp of cloud which finally dissolves into space. 

The "Estrella" was rated an exceptionally seaworthy 
vessel in the Bahamas ; but the Bahaman sailor 's standard 
of excellence would not, I fear, pass current in a marine 
insurance office. Bahaman boats being built largely of 
wreckage, are, so to speak, born old; and the "Estrella" 
was no exception to the rule. From the beginning of our 
cruise she had leaked so badly that, after his turn at the 
wheel, every man was obliged to pump for a certain period. 
This period gradually increased in length and the matter 
was brought to a focus, when we were about to set sail for 
Nassau, by the discovery of numerous jelly fish in the hold. 

Even a Bahaman seaman could not ignore this sign, and 
Captain Stiles announced that the "Estrella" would prob- 
ably go to the bottom if we sailed without stopping her 
leaks. How this was to be done without dry-dock or ways 
was not apparent ; but voyagers here early learn the neces- 
sity of self-reliance, and we now witnessed a maneuver 
such as pirates had doubtless often practiced in these 

Instead of turning our boat seaward, we headed for the 
shore and on the full of the early morning tide ran the 
' ' Estrella ' ' aground. The crew, with the assistance of 



negro spongers who, scenting trouble, at once bore down on 
us, now began to pass the ballast up from below with the 
energy one would pass water-buckets at a fire, and our 
decks were soon as littered with old iron as the backyard of 
a junk shop. When they overflowed, boat-loads of old chains, 
stones, etc., were sent ashore. 

The " Estrella " Aground 

As the tide fell the schooner canted more and more to 
starboard until she lay at a sickening angle. The removal 
of the ballast now exposed the false bottom and, fortun- 
ately, the first plank ripped from it revealed the leak a 
hole alongside the keel through which one could shove an 
arm. Oakum and soap soon stopped it ; the plank was 
replaced, the unwieldy ballast stowed, an anchor run astern 
and, when the "Estrella" was pulled off the bar at the 
return of the tide, we all agreed that we had never seen a 
better day's work. 

The following year found me in attendance on the mem- 



orable Congress of the American Ornithologists' Union 
held in San Francisco, and a willing captive to the charms 
of California bird-life ; but a negro member of our expedi- 
tion of 1902 was dispatched from Nassau to southern An- 
dros to report on the movements of the Flamingos, with a 
view to facilitating work the following season. He was 
unsuccessful, and at the end of two seasons' searching, we 
seemed to have made small progress in discovering the 
location of the Flamingo stronghold. Communications, 
however, had been established _ 
with the Rev. Mr. Matthews, 
who had directed us to the 
abandoned rookery visited in 
1902. As the rector of Andros, 
and one of the twelve white 
inhabitants in a population 
of between five and six 
thousand, Mr. Matthews was 
in a position to be of great 
service in continuing the search 
for Flamingos, and his 
cooperation proved to be inval- 
uable. At the approach of 
the 1904 breeding season, act- 
ing as the Museum's represen- 
tative, he sent negroes to search for the Flamingos ' nesting 
ground. It requires an exceptionally courageous native to 
visit the more remote and almost unknown interior of An- 
dros where, indeed, one might encounter a " Jumby." Only 
picked men were employed, but one after the other 
returned unsuccessful, without perhaps having taken too 
great risks in Jumby Land, until Peter Bannister alone was 
left to continue the search, and it was owing to his persever- 
ance that the home of the Flamingo was found. 

Word was at once sent me by vessel, to Nassau, and 
thence, by cable, to Miami, but in the meantime, accom- 

The Gloria 


panied by Prof. W. M. Wheeler, I had sailed from the latter 
place in the schooner * ' Gloria. ' ' Three or four days should 
have brought us to Mangrove Cay, Mr. Matthews ' home, 
but it was May 8, when we left Florida, and not until May 
17, that we anchored off our Bahaman haven. Surely no im- 
patient naturalist was ever confronted with nine days filled 
with more adverse conditions. Calms, squalls, head winds, 
deceptive currents, shoals, reefs and coral heads, all fell to 
our lot, while at one time, at nightfall, when a negro "pilot" 
ran us hard and fast aground on a lee shore at high tide, the 
whole expedition seemed threatened with an untimely end. 
Indeed, subsequent experience in these waters indicated 
that on this occasion we must have been under the protec- 
tion of a special Providence. We were without barometer 
or adequate charts, had no pilot, and not a man aboard the 
ship had ever been over the route before. Sighting Great 
Isaac 's light at sunset, we continued running all night to the 
southeast with a fresh northeast wind, in the hope of 
passing to the northward of the " Josie" (Joulter) Keys. 
At daybreak land was in sight to the southward but, com- 
paratively speaking, we hadn 't much more idea what it was 
than Columbus had under not dissimilar conditions in these 
waters, some years before. We, however, could understand 
the language of the natives and overhauling a sponging 
sloop whose captain expressed his wonder at "de fly-away 
ting ' ' bearing down on him, we learned that the land ahead 
was Bed Bay Settlement ! In other words, carried to the 
westward by drift and possibly tide or current, we had gone 
to the leeward instead of the windward of the Joulter Keys, 
and were at the northwest, not the northeast end of Andros 
and apparently would have to put back virtually to the 
place we had left the preceding evening an all day's per- 
formance. This, in effect, was equivalent to starting again 
from Miami. 

However, when the captain of the sponger learned that 
we drew only three-and-a-half feet of water with our center 


board up, lie offered (for two pounds, but accepted two 
dollars) to pilot us through a passage immediately north 
of Andros, a route which promised to save us two days ; we 
placed the ' ' Gloria ' ' in his hands with the result before 
mentioned. We had abundant opportunity the next day to 
visit the surrounding keys, but, aided by an exceptionally 
high tide and much work at the capstan by the crew, and 
various negroes who had been attracted by the mishap, the 
"Gloria" was drawn inch by inch into deeper water. 
Among our negro visitors was a gigantic fellow who ex- 
plained that he was taking his wife and family he had a 
boatful of children on a wedding trip ; the marriage cere- 
mony having been deferred somewhat later than is cus- 

The following day we reached Nichols Town, near the 
northeast extremity of Andros. It is attractively situated 
on high ground, with an abundance of cocoanuts along the 
shore, and is inhabited by several hundred negroes and one 
white man, who, hailing from London, seemed somewhat out 
of his environment. We landed to send mail, and asking a 
uniformed negro for the postoffice, were conducted to a 
large, one-room building at the end of which, behind a 
rather formidable looking desk, sat a yellow gentleman 
the resident magistrate, so we learned. He was very digni- 
fied, very reserved, very formal and, ignoring our inquiry 
concerning out-going mail, proceeded to inquire whence 
and how we had come, and whither we were going. We 
were from Florida," we answered. "Ah, a foreign 
country," he observed. Had we "made entry at the 
Biminis?" "No." "At Nassau?" "No, this was our 
first port"; whereupon this representative of King 
Edward, in a voice vibrant with the authority of the whole 
British Government, said, "Do you know, sirs, that you have 
committed a great crime?" We expressed our horror and 
protested our ignorance. What had we done ? We had 
landed on English territory without calling at a duly 



accredited port of entry and having our bill of health 
examined ; consequently we were subject to arrest, fine and 
imprisonment as smugglers and pirates. We explained and 
apologized and the magisterial authority having been duly 
asserted, were permitted with a warning to proceed on our 
way. It was an amusing bit of opera bouffe rendered still 


more so when we learned, several weeks later, that our 
yellow friend had been apprehended for larceny in office. 

The weather was now becoming unsettled and we 
encountered violent squalls which often forced us to come to 
anchor. Evidently the rainy season was opening. We 
therefore beat southward inside the reef and four days 
more brought us finally to Mangrove Cay, where shallow 
water forced us to anchor about a mile off shore. Mr. 
Matthews at once identified the strange sail and put off in a 


small boat to meet us, but scarcely had he boarded the 
' ' Gloria ' ' when we were attacked by a furious cyclonic rain- 
storm, which, accompanied by violent wind, would have 
landed us on a neighboring reef had it not been for the sea- 
manship of our captain, who quickly got over three anchors 
with many fathoms of stout cable. As it was, two spongers 
collided with us, one afterward going ashore; Mr. 
Matthews ' boat went to the bottom, and Peter, who was off 
shore in a small boat, was capsized, but thanks to low tide 
and a friendly bar, was spared to lead us to the Flamingos. 
For a short time, so suddenly had the storm arisen, the 
occasion was not without excitement. 

The approach of the storm was both beautiful and inter- 
esting. One heavy shower was seen advancing from the 
north, another from the south. As they passed, the one 
from the north going farther in shore, the great drops of 
water suggested beaded portieres. Soon after a rotary 
motion was developed, the pattering drops on the sea 
chasing one another like figures in a "merry-go-round." 
The decreasing circle advanced rapidly over the water in 
our direction, apparently stopping directly above the vessel 
when a proper perspective for further observation seemed 
to be wanting. 

Six inches of rain fell in two hours, arousing grave 
doubts for the safety of the Flamingos, whose nests, always 
placed in the semi -flooded "swash", would, we feared, be 
flooded by this downpour ; but we tried to believe that the 
storm had not reached that part of the island. 

The following morning our voyage was resumed. With 
Peter calling the course from bow or rigging, we threaded 
narrow channels and crossed broad flats, when tide and 
wind permitted and, at the end of three days, (we were now 
twelve days out from Miami), anchored and in a small boat 
continued the journey in water too shallow for the schooner. 
Hours of rowing up endless creeks, flowing through a 
depressing waste of marl and stubby mangroves, brought 


us at last so near the Flamingos ' home that we beached the 
boat and with lowered voices proceeded on foot through the 
mud and over the sharp coral rock. 

The rookery lay just the other side of a "coppet" of 
bushes and low trees. I approached it with a painful feeling 
of expectation ; was it possible that within a minute or two 
the vision of years would become a reality? Should I 
actually see a thousand or more red-feathered forms closely 
massed in one glowing bed of color, building their nests, in- 
cubating their eggs, or even feeding their young? 

One whose first knowledge of the glories of Flamingo 
life is, perhaps, suggested by this narrative, probably can- 
not fully appreciate the abnormal mental condition of the 
naturalist whose instinctive desires have been sharpened by 
years of longing and endeavor; neither, without a true 
understanding of the situation, could one measure the 
unfathomable depths of my disappointment when, peering 
cautiously through the vegetation, I saw only the dreary 
swash stretching birdless before me. 

' i You aint see no birds, sir " ? replied Peter to my inquiry 
for the rookery; and his surprise at the absence of the 
" wastly numerous hos-tes," which he had reported as 
occupying this place only a week before, almost equaled my 
discouragement in the face of this overwhelming failure. 

Our fears were realized. The deluge of four days before 
had played havoc with the birds ' home. Hundreds of nests 
were submerged or washed away, and eggs were stranded 
on mud bars or half buried in oozy marl. The birds had 
disappeared ; it was a scene of utter desolation. In view of 
the probability that other colonies of Flamingos, if such 
existed, had suffered similar disaster, it seemed useless to 
attempt further search in this quarter. 

Some work was done while returning to Mangrove Cay. 
Many Flamingos were seen and painful stalking in marl to 
the middle resulted in securing what were doubtless the best 
pictures of Flamingos existing at that time, but they were 


too far from those hoped for to afford much satisfaction. 

We were now obliged to go to Nassau to replenish our 
supplies and meet the steamer from New York, on which 
Dr. B. E. Dahlgren was coming to assist Professor Wheeler 
in a study of the Andros reef and Mrs. Chapman to take her 
usual post as my field assistant. In the meantime, Peter 
was dispatched to the region visited in 1902, and, on return- 
ing, our joy may be but faintly imagined when, boarding the 
schooner during a dark and stormy night, at no small risk, 
he reported that Flamingos were nesting at this place in 
unusually large numbers. Being on slightly higher ground, 
they had apparently not been affected by the storm of 
May 17. 

Wings could not now have borne us to the scene rapidly 
enough. Professor Wheeler and Dr. Dahlgren were landed 
at Mangrove Cay to pursue their studies of marine life, 
while Mrs. Chapman and I set sail for the Flamingos' 

For the first time since leaving Florida, wind and tide 
favored us. A distance which, on a former voyage, had 
consumed four days was now covered in one, and the next 
morning we reached the nearest point to which the schooner 
could approach the rookery. Peter 's assurance that it was 
"not too berry far, sir," to the Flamingos, convinced us, in 
the light of past experiences, that they were distant at least 
ten miles, possibly more. It was not practicable, therefore, 
to go and return the same day, and though the frequent 
rains and tempestuous squalls which must be encountered 
were not the weather one would select for tent-life, it was 
evident that we must camp near the rookery. 

Without loss of time, our outfit was embarked in the 
schooner 's two boats which, with two of the crew and Peter, 
we rowed or poled against the wind, and dragged over 
muddy shoals and marly bars hour after hour, until, though 
coming from the west, we arrived at an islet of large man- 
groves, occupied by Reddish Egrets and Louisiana Herons, 


which I recognized as a landmark we had reached from the 
eastern side of the island in 1902. Though no chart showed 
the route, it was evident, therefore, that Andros could here 
be crossed from east to west. Still we continued and when 
after a trying day's work Peter said we were "there," we 
had no feeling of having arrived anywhere. All day we had 
been following broad, shallow creeks, which, meeting other 
creeks, widened at intervals into lagoons, while, on every 
side, the country spread away into the low, flat swash, 
neither land nor water and wholly worthless for everything 
except Flamingos. So, when Peter announced that our 
journey was ended, we looked over this hopeless country in 
search of a camp-site, to find that the narrow, somewhat 
sandy shore of the creek was the only available place where 
one might pitch a tent. At the moment, however, we were 
more concerned about Flamingos than with the details of 
camping. When for the second time I asked Peter, " But 
where are the birds ? " he replied, ' ' Dere dey are, sir, ' ' and 
pointed across the swash to a thin pink line, distant at least 
a mile, but showing plainly against the green of the man- 
groves. Flamingos, surely; but were they nesting! We 
lost no time in speculation but started at once to investigate. 
Ten minutes wading through the mud and shallow water, 
brought us so near the now much enlarged pink streak that, 
with a glass, the birds could be seen unmistakably seated on 
their conical nests, and with an utterly indescribable feeling 
of exultation, we advanced rapidly to view at short range 
this wonder of wonders in bird-life. 

At a distance of about three hundred yards, the wind 
being from us, toward the birds, we first heard their honk- 
ing notes of alarm, which increased to a wave of deep sound. 
Soon the birds began to rise, standing on their nests, facing 
the wind and waving their black, vermillion-lined wings. As 
we came a little nearer, in stately fashion the birds began 
to move ; uniformly, like a great body of troops, they step- 
ped slowly forward, pinions waving and trumpets sounding, 






and then, when we were still one hundred and fifty yards 
away, the leaders sprang into the air. File after file of the 
winged host followed. The very earth seemed to erupt 
birds, as naming masses streamed heavenward. It was an 
appalling sight. One of the boatmen said, it looked ' ' like 
hell, ' ' and the description is apt enough to be set down with- 
out impropriety. 

" Close-set mud nests each with its single white egg " 

The birds were now all in the air. At the time, I should 
have said that there were at least four thousand of them, 
but a subsequent census of nests showed that this number 
should be halved. This was a tense moment. Knowing, 
through many disappointing experiences, how excessively 
shy Flamingos are, I feared that even the lately aroused 
parental instinct might not be sufficient to hold them to 
their homes and that, after all, I should be denied the fruits 
of victory the privilege of studying these birds on their 
nesting ground. Imagine, then, a relief I cannot describe, 
when the birds, after flying only a short distance to wind- 
ward, turned abruptly and with set wings sailed over us, a 
rushing, fiery cloud, to alight in a lagoon bordering the 
western edge of the rookery. 

Soon we were among the apparently innumerable, close- 



" Our tent was stayed to .... one of the boats " 

set mud nests each with its single white egg, while two held 
newly hatched Flamingos ! Not only were these the first 
young Flamingos ever seen in the nest by a naturalist, but 
their presence was an assurance that this rookery was not 
composed of the birds whose homes had been flooded by the 
storm of May 17, but another colony and one which had not 
suffered a similar catastrophe. I should not therefore have 
to wait at least three weeks for the eggs to hatch, but had 
arrived at the most favorable period it would have been 
possible to select. 

While we were standing, half dazed by the whole experi- 
ence, the army of birds which had gathered in the lagoon 
rose, and with harsh honkings bore down on us. The action 
was startling. The birds in close array came toward us 
without a waver, and for a few moments one might well 
have believed they were about to attack ; but with a mighty 



roar of wings and clanging of horns, they passed overhead, 
turned, and on set wings again shot back to the lagoon. 

On every one of the hundreds of occasions when, in 
fancy, I had entered a city of Flamingos, I had devised 
some plan for a place of concealment from which the birds 
might be observed and photographed. Should they occupy 

A Composite Picture of Blind and Flamingo City 

a site on a flat far from vegetation, similar to that of the 
abandoned rookery visited in 1902, 1 had proposed to sink a 
barrel in the marl, fringing it about with small mangroves ; 
but should the growth be near enough,! had decided to place 
my umbrella-blind in the bushes. But the sight of the birds 
over the swash, as we landed, had banished from my mind 
every thought but the desire to know whether they were 
nesting ; the blind was forgotten, and fearing now to keep 
them too long from their homes, I erected around a small 
bush, some thirty feet from the border of the rookery, a 
shield of branches behind which the blind might be placed 
the following day. 

We now returned to the boats, seeing, with immense sat- 



isfaction, the Flamingos go back to their nests when we 
were but half across the swash. The claim had been located ; 
it promised nuggets at every step, and our next move was 
to prepare to work it. I have never camped in a less suit- 
able place, but if we had been beneath hemlocks with a 
dashing mountain stream at our threshhold, we could not 
have pitched our tent more cheerfully. At once it was dis- 



"With legs and necks fully outstretched " 

covered that the sand barely covered the limestone. To 
drive a tent-pin effectively was out of the question, and our 
tent was stayed to roots and bushes and to one of the boats, 
which was hauled ashore to windward, as an anchor f or 
both tent and fly. Incidentally, it proved a capital tank. 
The daily rains (we had over twenty inches during the 
month) soon filled it, and beyond a few gallons brought 
from the schooner, it provided the only and an unlimited 
supply of fresh water during the eight days we were in 

The prospects of the morrow were fatal to sleep, and at 



an early hour preparations were made for the second 
invasion of the rookery. As with blind and cameras we 
now approached, the birds left their nests with the same or- 
derly sequence of movement shown the preceding afternoon, 
gathering in a densely massed flock in the lagoon. The 
blind was quickly set in the place arranged for it, and hung 
with mangrove branches and palmetto leaves. I entered it 
and Mrs. Chapman at once started for camp. 

" A dozen yellow-eyed birds at my threshold " 

This was a moment of supreme interest. Would the 
birds return to their nests, the nearest of which were about 
thirty feet from me, or would the blind arouse their sus- 
picions 1 Twice they rose in a body and swept over the 
rookery, each time alighting again in the lagoon. It was a 
reconnoissance in force, with evidently satisfactory results. 
No signs of danger were detected in the rookery, and, in the 
absence of ability to count, the retreat of one figure across 


the swash was as reassuring as the approach of two figures 
had been alarming. 

Without further delay, the birds returned to their 
homes. They came on foot, a great red cohort, marching 
steadily toward me. I felt like a spy in an enemy's camp. 
Might not at least one pair of the nearly four thousand eyes 
detect something unnatural in the newly grown bush almost 
within their city gates ? No sign of alarm, however, was 
shown ; without confusion, and as if trained to the evolution, 
the birds advanced with stately tread to their nests. There 
was a bowing of a forest of slender necks as each bird light- 
ly touched its egg or nest with its bill ; then, all talking 
loudly, they stood up on their nests ; the black wings were 
waved for a moment, and bird after bird dropped forward 
upon its egg. After a vigorous, wriggling motion, designed 
evidently to bring the egg into close contact with the skin, 
the body was still, but the long neck and head were for a 
time in constant motion, preening, picking material at the 
base of the nest, dabbling in a near-by puddle, or perhaps 
drinking from it. Occasionally a bird sparred with one of 
the three or four neighbors which were within reach, when, 
bill grasping bill, there ensued a brief and harmless test of 

In some instances a bird was seen adding to a nest in 
which an egg had already been deposited. Standing on the 
nest, it would drag up mud from the base with its bill, which 
was then used to press the fresh material into place. The 
feet were also of service in treading down the soft, marly 

The nests at this side of the rookery were below the 
average in size. Few of them reached a height of eight 
inches, while nests in the older part of this city of huts 
measured thirteen inches in height, with a diameter of four- 
teen inches at the top and twenty- two at* the bottom. The 
depression forming the nest proper was never more than an 
inch in depth, and was without lining of any kind. 



After watching a nesting colony of Flamingos in the 
Bahamas for "nearly an hour", at a distance of one hun- 
dred and fifty yards, Sir Henry Blake stated that the 
females sat upon the nests while the males stood up 
together, evidently near by. My dissections, however, 
showed that both sexes incubate, while continued observa- 
tion from the tent revealed the presence of only one bird of 

The Blind in the Rookery 

the pair in the rookery at the same time. The bird on the 
nest was relieved late in the afternoon and early in the 
morning. The one, therefore, which incubated during the 
day, fed at night, and his or her place was taken by another 
which had been feeding during the day. Or as Peter put it : 
"I do t'ink, sir, dat when de lady Fillymingo leave de nest, 
den de gen 'leman Fillymingo take her place, sir ; yes, sir. ' ' 
Morning and evening, then, there was much activity in 



the rookery. Single birds, or files of as many as fifty, were 
almost constantly arriving and departing, coming from and 
radiating to every point of the compass. 

Flamingos in flight resemble no other bird known to me. 
With legs and neck fully outstretched, and the comparative- 
ly small wings set half-way between bill and toes, they look 

as if they might fly backward or forward with equal ease. 
They progress more rapidly than a Heron, and, when hur- 
ried, fly with a singular serpentine motion of the neck and 
body, as if they were crawling in the air. 

As noon approached, the birds disposed themselves for 
sleep. The long necks were arranged in sundry coils and 
curves, the heads tucked snugly beneath the feathers of the 
back, and, for the first time, there was silence in the red city. 
Suddenly one could never tell whence it came the honk- 
ing alarm-note was given. Instantly, and with remarkable 
effect, the snake-like necks shot up all over the glowing bed 
of color before me, transforming it into a writhing mass of 


flaming serpents ; then, as the alarm-note continued and was 
taken up by a thousand throats, the birds, like a vast con- 
gregation, with dignified precision of movement, gravely 
arose, pressing their bills into the nests to assist them- 

Under circumstances of this kind the birds rarely left 
their nests, and it was difficult to determine the cause of 

Photographic Evidence that the Flamingo Does Net " Straddle " the Nest 
The birds in the background are sparring 

their alarm. Often, doubtless, it was baseless, but at times 
it was due to a circling Turkey Vulture, the gaunt ogre of 
Plamingodom, which, in the absence of the parent birds, is 
said to eat not only eggs but nestlings. Possibly some slight 
sound from my tent, where, with ill-controlled excitement, I 
was making photograph after photograph, may have occas- 
ioned the deep-voiced, warning huh-huh-huh. 

I had so often fruitlessly stalked these wary birds across 
the swash, that I was tempted to step out from my blind and 
address a word of triumph to the assembled multitude ; but 
so sudden an alarm might not only have caused the destruc- 



Newly Hatched Flamingo 

Flooded Xests 
Showing the necessity of raising the nest above the normal water-level 


tion of many eggs, but might have resulted in the birds de- 
serting their homes. Consequently, several hours after 
entering the blind, Mrs. Chapman, by arrangement, 
returned ; the birds retreated to the lagoon, and I left my 
hiding place without their being the wiser. 

Encouraged by this sur- 
prisingly successful at- 
tempt to study these wary 
birds at close range, I de- 
termined to enter the very 
heart of the city. Conse- 
quently, when, at our ap- 
proach the following morn- 
ing, the birds left their 
nests, the blind was hur- 
riedly moved, from its po- 

. . J Swam rapidly away " 

sition at the border of the 

rookery to a point near its center, where a buttonwood bush 

afforded it some concealment. 

Nests were now within arm 's reach ; the blind itself cov- 
ered an abandoned one. It seemed wholly beyond the 
bounds of probability that the birds would take their places 
so near me ; but, as before, the departure of my assistant 
was the signal to advance. The great red army with clang- 
ing of horns, again approached, reached, and this time sur- 
rounded me. I was engulfed in color and clarionings. The 
wildest imagination could not have conceived of so thrilling 
an experience. Seated on the deserted nest, I myself seemed 
to have become a Flamingo. 

The blind, strange to say, aroused no suspicion. With- 
out hesitation and with evident recognition of their home, 
the splendid creatures reoccupied their nests. For a time I 
feared detection. It was impossible to look from the blind 
in any direction without seeming to meet the glance of a 
dozen yellow-eyed birds at my threshold. Fortunately, the 
uproar of their united voices was so great that the various 


sounds made in the manipulation of my two cameras were 
barely audible even to my ears. With the wind in the right 
quarter, this honking chorus could be plainly heard at our 
camp. The adults uttered three distinct calls, all goose- 
like in character. The usual note of the young bird is a 
whistling crow. 

Brooding and Feeding 

The birds of this portion of the rookery had evidently 
begun to nest at an earlier date than those in the section 
before visited. Many of the nests contained an egg from 
which the chick was emerging, and in others were young 
evidently several days old ; while birds which had left the 
nest were running about with their parents. 

On leaving the shell, and before the plumage was dry, 
some chicks had sufficient strength to respond to their evi- 
dently instinctive sense of fear. At my approach they 
crawled to the edge of the nest and dropped over to the 
ground or water below, though beyond this they could pro- 
gress but little. Chicks a day old jumped nimbly from the 



Young Flamingo Eating Egg-shell 

nest and ran or swam rapidly away. On subsequent days, it 
became necessary to enter my blind with caution, to avoid 
frightening the young in the near-by nests. At the best, 
some would leave their homes and scurry away, but they 
returned to the place of their birth apparently in response 
to a call uttered by the parent as it stood on or near the 
deserted nest. The little chick reached the top of the nest 
unaided by the parent bird, using its bill, feet, and wings 
in the effort. The thumb and. index finger are both provided 
with a somewhat recurved nail, which in this connection 
may be functional. The parents evidently recognized their 
own offspring, and when a youngster lost his way, his nape 
was promptly pinched by every old bird within whose reach 



he came, a method which was effective in keeping him on 
the move until he found his own home. 

The young stay in the nest until they are three or four 
days old. During this time they are brooded by the parents, 
one or the other of which is always in attendance. With a 
bill as large as their nestling's body, it was of special inter- 

Young Flamingo Returning to the Nest 

est to observe how the latter would be fed. The operation | 
is admirably shown in the colored frontispiece. What, in 
effect, is regurgitated clam broth, is taken drop by drop 
from the tip of the parent's bill. At times the bird, 
standing above its chick, leans over and feeds it, or while 
brooding, a snowy head is pushed out from a vermilion 
wing, and with a swan-like movement the neck is gracefully 
curved as the food is administered. 

This is the young bird's first meal. His next attempts at 
eating are of special interest. It will be observed that the 
bill in a newly hatched Flamingo bears small resemblance 



The bill shows first signs of convexity 

" The bird now feeds after the singular manner of the adult " 



i o the singular, decurved organ of the adult. In the chick 
the bill is short and straight, with no hint of future curva- 
ture ; and at this stage of its existence the bird feeds in a 
manner wholly unlike that employed by the old birds. It 
picks up its food. The second meal, then, consists of bits of 
the egg-shell whence the chick has lately emerged. This 
bone-forming matter evidently now takes the place of the 
Cerithium shells which the parents seem to find essential to 
their well-being. 

Young Flamingos Feeding Each Other 

When the bird is about three weeks old, the bill first 
shows signs of convexity, and the bird now feeds after the 
singular manner of the adult, standing on its head, as it 
were, the maxilla, or upper half of the bill, being nearly 
parallel with the ground. Contrary to the rule among birds 
the lower portion of the bill is immovable, but the upper 
portion, moving rapidly, forces little jets of water from 
each side of the base of the bill, washing out the sand and the 
mud through the strainers with which the sides of the bill 


are beset, and leaving the shells on which the bird subsists. 
Or, as Peter expressed it: "It seems to me, sir, when de 
Fillymingo feed dat de upper lip do all de wuk, sir, when he 
chomp, chomp, chomp, and grabble in de mud. ' ' 

Young Flamingos, taken from the rookery for further 
study, subsequently gave an apparently instinctive exhibit 
of a characteristic habit of the adult bird when feeding. As 
I have said, the old birds live on a small spiral shell and 
its contents. This food is always obtained under water 
which may reach to the bird's body. When the shells are 
apparently embedded in the marl, the feeding bird loosens 
them by a treading motion. It is the Flamingos ' one undig- 
nified action. Birds thus occupied seem to be engaged in 
some ridiculous kind of jig, which they dance with the head 
and neck submerged. 

Exactly the same performance was indulged in by the 
young bird, which, when given a pan of rice and water, soon 
danced the rice from off the bottom in order that it might be 
more readily secured. 

The routine of camp life was now definitely established. 
The mornings were passed in the blind, the afternoons in 
the preparation of specimens, and the evenings were given 
to the interminable task of refilling plate-holders. 

Daily squalls threatened to blow our poorly stayed tent 
into the creek, and continued rains rapidly decreased the 
extent of visible land about us. Nevertheless, we were not 
unduly inconvenienced by the weather. 

The Flamingos were less fortunate. The evidently 
excessive rainfall had flooded even the comparatively high 
ground on which their rookery was placed. Some nests 
were submerged, (my own particular nest had already 
crumbled before the unaccustomed usage to which it had 
been subjected), 'and all were surrounded by water. The 
necessity of erecting a structure of some height was thus 
plainly demonstrated. 

This second catastrophe to a nesting colony emphasized 


the adverse climatic conditions with which Flamingos have 
to contend during the nesting season. Laying but one egg, 
it is probable that under favorable circumstances they can 
barely hold their own, and it is therefore to be deplored that 
man should be numbered among their enemies. 

To my regret, our search for Flamingos so widely adver- 
tised the location of the rookery among the negroes of the 
island, that more than a dozen expeditions were planned to 
visit it for young birds. 

Fresh meat is rarer than pink pearls in the outer Baha- 
ma islands. Young Flamingos are excellent eating, and are, 
consequently, much sought after. As a result of this perse- 
cution on the nesting-ground, they are steadily diminishing 
in numbers. 

At this time neither they, nor any other Bahaman bird 
was protected by law, and I take no small pleasure in saying 
that when this matter was brought to the attention of the 
proper authorities, an adequate bill was prepared and 
passed at the next session of the colonial legislature. 

Our camp site was now barely habitable, and it became 
obvious that if the rains continued we should soon be afloat. 
Confidence in the life-preserving qualities of our pneumatic 
mattresses, permitted us to sleep undismayed by the lap, 
lap, of waters at our threshold ; but more valuable, almost, 
than life itself, were our photographic plates and specimens, 
and it was therefore determined to break camp and return 
to the schooner. In spite of the disagreeable surroundings, 
the swash was left reluctantly. My work, however, was 
virtually ended. I had enjoyed an experience unparalleled 
in the annals of ornithology, had made twelve dozen photo- 
graphs and pages of detailed notes, and had secured mater- 
ial adequate to represent the home life of Flamingos in a 
group, to be exhibited in the Museum which had intrusted 
me with this mission to a little-known country. 


Throughout the Bahamas the name ' ' Egg-bird ' ' is ap- 
plied to the Sooty, Bridled, and Noddy Terns. The latter 
part of April these birds come in large numbers to certain 
regularly frequented keys to breed. If their resort be near 
a settlement they are robbed of their eggs by its inhabitants. 
In Nassau, I have seen many of them offered for sale on the 
street, each one with the shell punctured as a guarantee 
that one was not buying a Tern. If they are remote from 
human habitation, they are generally preyed upon by the 
cruising spongers to whose scanty bill-of-fare fresh eggs are 
an eagerly sought addition. Doubtless there are but few col- 
onies of Terns in the Bahamas that do not contribute to the 
food supply of the usually hungry native, hence the current 
name Egg-bird. Efforts to secure the passage of a law pro- 
hibiting the taking of the eggs of these birds has failed, and, 
sentiment aside, provided they are permitted to breed and 
their numbers therefore not decreased, there seems to be no 
reason why in a country of such limited food products, this 
source of supply should not be drawn upon. 

On May 11, 1902, when the "Estrella" dropped anchor 
off the Washerwoman Keys, we found that the Egg-birds 
had evidently been in possession for more than a week, since 
all three species were incubating their eggs. 

After a wide experience in colonies of Common Terns, 
where every bird is up in the air screaming a harsh protest 
before you put foot on the island, it was pleasant to be met 
at our landing-place by groups of Noddies which, with no 
trace of the nervousness so characteristic of our northern 
Terns, regarded us calmly almost at arm's length. When 
they did fly they were comparatively silent uttering infre- 
quently a low reedy cack, cack, which at times increased to 
a rolling, guttural k-r-r-r-r. 



Bird photography with such willing subjects became as 
simple as the photographing of nest and eggs alone ; while 
Fuertes found sitters who seemed to appreciate the honor of 
being immortalized by his pencil. 

Noddy Terns 

" Regarded us calmly almost at arm's length " 

It is the normal habit of the Noddy to build a crude plat- 
form-nest of twigs with a few pebbles or shells, on top of 
the bushes. Many birds on Washerwoman Key had con- 
structed such a dwelling, but by far the greater number laid 
on the ground under the dense thickets, and built no nest 
at all. 

Possibly the ground-nesting habit is a result of the per- 
secution by negro spongers to which the birds have long 
been subjected. The birds which nested on top of the bushes 
were far more likely to be robbed than those which deposited 
their eggs on the ground on rocks below, and the birds with 


Noddy Nesting on the Ground 



the terrestrial nesting habit have therefore been more suc- 
cessful in perpetuating their kind. 

While the extreme tameness of the Noddies is no doubt 
in part due to their comparative isolation and would proba- 
bly disappear with increasing contact with man, it is appar- 
ently to be attributed more to temperament than to environ- 

Sooty Tern on Nest 

ment. The Sooty Tern was much shyer than the Noddy, 
while the Bridled Tern was nearly if not quite as wild as our 
Common Tern though all three species, so far as man is 
concerned, are subjected to exactly the same conditions. 

The Sooty Terns were more numerous than the Noddies. 
They invariably laid on the ground, generally under the 
bushes, making no attempt at nest-building other than a 
slight hollow in the earth when circumstances permitted. 
The Sooties were more common at the northern, Noddies at 
the southern end of the key, where, however, both species 
nested under the bushes more or less closely associated. 


The Sooty 's common flight note is a squeaky quack and a 
clearly enunciated, high pitched ker-tvacky-wack. Nesting 
birds when disturbed uttered a sharp barking note, chang- 
ing to a long-drawn, aggressive squawk, suggesting the 
notes of an annoyed brooding hen. Indeed, as one crawled 

Noddy in Flight 

through the more or less open spaces beneath the bushes 
with birds protesting or retreating, one seemed to have in- 
vaded a densely populated hen-yard. 

As the only Tern with a rounded, instead of forked tail, 
the Noddy might be expected to differ in flight from other 
members of its family. In fact, it suggested, when in the 
air, a light-bodied, long-winged, long-tailed Pigeon. They fly 
rapidly, never hovering with the Sooties, and they were 
often seen pursuing each other high in the air in what were 
doubtless mating flights. 

Sooty Terns in flight are much like Common Terns 
and, when alarmed, they have the Common Tern's habit of 
hanging in the air above their nests. Because of their com- 
parative tameness and of the steadiness of the easterly 
trade wind, an admirable opportunity was presented to ob- 
serve these birds in the air at close range. So even was the 
breeze that the birds, all facing it, seemed to be suspended 


and motionless. There was, in truth, but little change in 
their position, but it was maintained by constant adjustment 
to the slight variations in the force and direction of the 
wind. Wings were raised or lowered, widely spread or part- 
ly closed ; tails depressed or slightly elevated, and fan-like, 
opened or shut. In short, there was a ceaseless if uncon- 
scious effort on the part of the birds to maintain the bal- 
ance between gravity acting in one direction, and air pres- 
sure in another, and so well did they succeed that it was a 
common sight to see one put its foot through its inner wing- 
feathers and scratch its ear with as much ease as though it 
had been on its nest. 

Sooty Tern Facing the Trade Wind 

Man, taking the Tern as a model, can duplicate its lines 
and its area of wing expanse to weight, but who will endow 
his creation of wood, and wire, and canvas with nerves, mus- 
cles, and reflexes, which will enable it to encounter auto- 
matically and with unfailing precision, the incomparably 
unstable element in which it is designed to travel? 

The Bridled Terns were the least common of the three 
species on the key in question ; but half a mile or more to the 
south, on a newer key, several hundred were nesting. In gen- 
eral habits they are like the Sooty Tern, but their nest-sites 
are more commonly beneath a rock or in one of the innumer- 



able holes or pockets of the water-worn limestone. In con- 
formance to the law that southern birds lay a smaller num- 
ber of eggs than northern members of the same family, the 
Noddy, Sooty, and Bridled Terns each lay but a single egg, 
while the Common, Forster's Eoseate, Arctic, and Least 
Terns lay three. 

The Bridled and Sooty Terns resemble each other so 
closely (it is difficult to distinguish them in life) that a com- 
parative study of their habits would be of especial interest. 

Young Audubon's Shearwater 

We, however, were too anxious to continue our search for 
Flamingos to devote much time to Terns, and our two days 
in the Washerwoman Keys gave us opportunity for only the 
most casual inspection of their bird-life. 

Large numbers of Audubon 's Shearwaters were nesting 
on this and the neighboring keys, but without the assistance 
of Mr. Bonhote 's Irish setter we should have been unaware 
of their presence, by day, at least. Toby quickly learned to 
distinguish the peculiar Shearwater odor, and when the site 
permitted, dislodgement of the rocks at which he pointed 
was sure to be followed by the discovery of a Shearwater, 
either male or female, squatting on its egg or by its downy 


young. The birds never attempted to fly, but would run 
away under the vegetation or into another hole in the rocks. 
During the day no Shearwaters were seen near the key, 
though they were not infrequently observed at a distance 
flying rapidly and scaling low over the water ; but at night, 
when the Terns had become comparatively quiet, the un- 
canny see-saw cries of the Shearwaters made the keys 
actually noiser than, when the Terns were not disturbed, 
they were by day. 

Audubon's Shearwater Leaving Nest 


On March 28, 1907, with Dr. Alfred G. Mayer in com- 
mand, and George Shiras, 3d., I sailed from Miami for Cay 
Verde ? some thirty miles east of the Ragged Islands, to se- 
cure studies and material for a group of the Boobies (Sula 
leucogastra) and Man-o'-War Birds which were reported to 
breed there. We were aboard the ' ' Physalia, ' ' a 56-foot 
ketch, with a 20-horse-power engine, belonging to the Marine 
Biological Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution, which 
Dr. Mayer, the Director of the Laboratory, after establish- 
ing a temporary laboratory at Nassau, placed at the dis- 
posal of the Museum for the proposed trip. 

In reassuring contrast to our equipment on the 
"Gloria", we now had every desirable chart of the Baha- 
mas, and employed a pilot whenever we entered unknown 
waters. At sunset we passed through the narrow cut be- 
tween Gun Cay and Cat Cay and came to anchor for the 
night. The following morning we got under way at half past 
three and, using the engine in the face of light head winds, 
reached the so-called "Northwest Passage" at two o'clock, 
and dropped anchor in Nassau harbor at midnight. For- 
tunately we did not know this was to be not only our best, 
but virtually our only good day's run during the month 
which our expedition required. 

It was ten o 'clock the next morning before the health offi- 
cer of the port, for whom we were obliged to send a messen- 
ger, examined our papers and permitted us to land. But in 
marked contrast to this leisurely way of doing business 
which on a former occasion kept us aboard our boat from 
four in the afternoon until the following morning the Gov- 
ernor, Sir William Grey- Wilson, promptly consented to 
grant the permit which, in accordance with the law passed 



after the intercession for protection of Flamingos, was now 
required before the specimens I desired could be taken le- 
gally. As a matter of fact, the statute read ' ' the Governor 
in Council may grant, ' ' etc., and we esteemed it a rare exam- 
ple of official courtesy and good judgment, that rather than 
hold us over Sunday until the Council could be assembled, 
we were permitted to depart, leaving the permit to be issued 
in our absence. 

The " Physalia " 

On March 31, therefore, we left Nassau for Cay Verde, 
distant two hundred and thirty miles. The air was absolute- 
ly calm ; the water of mirror-like smoothness and as clear as 
a lens, revealing, with astonishing distinctness, even 
grains of sand at a depth of four and five fathoms. 

The Bahaman Banks, except at their margins, might be 
called the deserts of the sea. The water is so shallow that 
the heavy seas quickly raise what may be termed a sand 


storm, which prevents the growth of such forms of life as 
flourish on the reefs. Hence, the bottom is usually as clean 
and smooth as a sanded floor. Fish, finding neither food nor 
hiding-places, are rare, and for the first-named reason, birds 
are wanting. I have sailed for days over the Banks with- 
out seeing so much as a Tern. 

After running for forty miles under power, we anchored 
off Norman Key where an hour or two ashore resulted in 
the observation of the common key birds the Bahaman 
Mockingbird, Vireo (V. crassirostris), and Honey Creeper, 
which was nesting, together with a singing Catbird (Galeos- 
coptes), a species which was also found in song in Nassau. 
The beach was marked with tracks, probably of the Yellow- 
crowned Night Heron, which occurs frequently on even the 
smallest keys, running about under the dense, scrubby veg- 
etation, more like a Eail than a Heron. 

April 1 threatened to end the cruise. Six hours ' beating 
against a strong southwest wind having yielded only eight 
miles, we came to anchor under Elbers Key, which, although 
only a few hundred yards long, gave us some protection. 
The surf on the southern side of the key was magnificent, 
the now heavy seas striking the jagged limestone as they 
would a breakwater and throwing white masses of 'water in- 
to the air with the force and effect of a submarine explosion. 
While congratulating ourselves that we were on the right 
side of the key, where, in marked contrast, the water met 
the beach with scarce a ripple, a bank of black clouds began 
to form at the northern horizon ; the south wind dropped 
suddenly, and over the dark waters at the north, a line of 
foam was seen advancing so rapidly that in less than ten 
minutes the surf changed sides, so to speak, and we were 
now on the wrong side of the key. 

To seek shelter from the southern wind, we had gone as 
near the key as our draught would permit, and this surpris- 
ing shift placed us almost in the surf. It was evident that 
the vessel could be saved only by leaving this position at 


once, rounding the key, and making out into the open wa- 
ters to the westward ; but no sooner was our anchor raised 
than, in spite of our engine, the boat was flung toward the 
key. Fortunately her head swung about and before a sec- 
ond sea could throw us on the rocks, the boat, obeying her 
helm, veered to the eastward and, after grounding twice, 
barely missed the southeast extremity of the reef and was 
in open water. It was a case of what Dr. Mayer aptly de- 
scribed as ' * touch and go ' ' and extremely bewildering to the 
mind of a landsman. But, as predicted by my always cheer- 
ful friend, Mr. Shiras, "the worst was yet to come." 

In order to secure an offing whence we might run before 
the storm without bringing us up on the line of keys to the 
eastward for it was now dark it was necessary to run 
some distance to the westward. This brought us into the 
trough of the sea, where we rolled so violently that the small 
boat in the leeward davits, dipped enough water to exert a 
leverage which threatened to place us on our beam ends ; 
fortunately, a wave knocked the boat from its fastenings 
and it was drawn aboard. 

The ' ' Physalia ' ' was now swept by wave after wave, and 
I recall the expression of one of unusual size which I looked 
squarely in the face, for what seemed an interminable per- 
iod. Whether it was of the traditional "mast-head" height 
I am not prepared to say ; for the moment, I was more than 
content to observe that it was very much higher than my 
head and beyond that I was concerned wholly with its 
further movements was it going or coming? With evident 
consideration for the Museum's bird groups, it went ! 

It may be placed to the credit of the " Physalia" and her 
commander that she finally reached a point where we could 
turn to the southward ; then, stopping the engine, we raised 
a hand 's-breadth of jigger and staysail and ran before the 
storm. Beyond the not too vague possibility of bringing up 
on one of the reefs, shoals and keys which lay ahead, we 
were for the time in no immediate danger ; but as the wind 


increased in force, reaching, as we afterward learned, a 
maximum of eighty miles an hour, the sea rose correspond- 
ingly, and it required an experienced hand to hold the boat 
to her course and avoid an upset. 

So we wallowed along with the water sloshing over 
everything above decks and below, and with the always en- 
livening prospect that the black wall ahead might conceal a 
port for which we had not started ; when at midnight it was 
discovered that the motion of the boat had split the seams 
of our gasolene tank ; the whole vessel was soon filled with 
the volatile fumes and the dangers of fire became more im- 
mediate than those of water. Every light was at once extin- 
guished, even to the binnacle, and deprived thus of the com- 
pass by which alone the boat could be held to her course, 
we were in momentary expectation of capsizing; but a 
pocket electric torch was produced and by its rays the com- 
pass was once more made visible. 

This was a long night and the gray light which finally re- 
vealed the dark line of keys to the eastward, found a crew 
whose one desire was to reach a harbor in which they might 
rest. Under the guidance of the pilot, we therefore headed 
for the keys and, touching bottom nearly all the way, reach- 
ed a protected basin which was unanimously declared to be 
the most attractive place that each man aboard the boat had 
ever visited. The chart showed that, with only a few square 
yards of canvas, we had covered ninety miles during the 

The day was passed in overhauling and drying our out- 
fit and in repairing the gasolene tank which, fortunately, 
leaked only at the top, and was therefore safe enough in 
calm weather. 

April 3, we resumed our voyage before a still strong, 
northerly wind, anchoring for the night within the Jamaica 
Cays, where we rolled heavily under the influence of cross- 
currents, and, on April 4, reached the excellent little har- 
bor between the Eagged Islands, 


We were now within thirty miles of Cay Verde, but the 
wind having gone to the eastward, was dead ahead, and in 
Bahamese, there was a ' ' rage on ' ' outside, forcing us to 
await calmer weather. In the meantime we did some collect- 
ing and photographing on Little Bagged Island which, 
though uninhabited by man; has a population of cows, goats, 
and chickens, the property of the only white family on 
Greater Bagged Island, and very curious it was to hear a 
rooster crow from the depths of a primeval jungle. Birds 
were not uncommon on Little Bagged Island ; a Snowy 
Egret, six Tree Ducks (Dendrocygna) and an apparently 
unde scribed form of the Clapper Bail, of which only one 
specimen was secured, being the most interesting species re- 

Conditions appearing favorable, we started for Cay 
Verde early April 7, but once deprived of the shelter of 
Bagged Island, the east wind was found to be stronger 
than we anticipated. Going to windward was not the * ' Phy- 
salia's ' ' strong point, and we were soon forced, therefore, to 
put about and return to our anchorage. April 8, a second 
trial was made and the sea being now somewhat lower, with 
the aid of sails and engine, the Cay was sighted at 3 P. M. 
still about ten miles to windward. The rate at which we 
were traveling made it doubtful if we could beat that far be- 
fore nightfall but, the wind dropping, we lowered our sails 
and under power alone headed directly for the Cay. 

After a nine days trip, not devoid of incident, we ap- 
proached our goal with no small concern. My information 
in regard to its bird-life, while the best which could be ob- 
tained, was nevertheless about sixteen years old, and was 
somewhat indefinite as to the date of the birds ' presence. 
When we believed we were near enough to distinguish 
birds in the air our glasses did not reveal a bird over the 
Cay nor were any seen flying toward it. But we were furth- 
er away than we supposed and when, after a period of 
pretty keen suspense and eager looking, one black dot after 


another grew into a gently soaring flock of Man-o '-War 
Birds and, shortly after, it was discovered that the bushless 
spaces of the island were dotted with thousands of Boobies 
and their half -grown young, our elation was to be measured 
only by the depth of our mental depression when it was be- 
lieved that the Cav was birdless. 

Camp on Cay Verde 

The Cay, lying north and south, offered protection for 
the ' ' Physalia ' ' only from easterly and westerly winds, and 
as the recurrence of a norther similar to that we had just 
passed through, would force a run to the southward, Mr. 
Shiras and I, with a devotion to science sharpened by recent 
experiences, decided to camp on the Cay, while to Dr. 
Mayer was left the unenviable duty of staying on the ship. A 
week 's supply of food and water and an awning for a tent 
were therefore at once landed, while we followed in one of 
the small boats which was left with us. 

By the time our makeshift tent was erected on an oar 
supported by two camera tripods, and our outfit and provis- 
ions placed under its shelter, it was dark. Boobies were 


nesting at our threshold, and the rays of our lantern showed 
them sleeping with heads tucked under the feathers of the 
back, a seemingly headless parent standing on each side of 
a generally sitting, headless chick. 

During the day a shift in the wind forced the ' ' Physa- 
lia" to run around to the east side of the Cay, where, on the 
night of the 10th, in heavy thunder squalls, she rolled scup- 
pers under. On shore the first rain which had fallen in 
months caught us when we were least prepared for it. The 
incident illustrated the difference between the seaman's and 
the landsman's point of view; Dr. Mayer, on the unstable 
"Physalia" pitying those "poor devils under a bit of can- 
vas in a deluge, ' ' while we, believing a surplus rain-drop or 
two to be better than the depths of the sea, were congratu- 
lating ourselves that we were not aboard the boat. 

Cay Verde is about half a mile long, by one-fourth of a 
mile in greatest width, and roughly estimated, contains 
some forty acres. 

On the west and south or shallow sides, there are steeply 
shelving beaches, where, under favorable conditions, a land- 
ing may be easily made ; on the eastern side the deep blue 
waters of the ocean break directly against the characteristic 
water-worn limestone rock, of which Cay Verde, in common 
with other Bahama islands, is composed. At the northern 
end, where the islet terminates in a point, this rock is but 
little above sea-level. Southward it gradually increases in 
height, and with pronounced irregularities in coast line, 
reaches a bluff -like elevation of seventy-five feet at the 
southeastern extremity of the islet. About one-eighth of the 
surface of the island is covered with a dense growth chiefly 
of sea grape (Coccolobis uvifera) but with a liberal mix- 
ture, mainly about the borders, of a "prickly pear" cactus 
(Opuntia) and sea lavender (Tournefortia). 

Where sufficient soil has accumulated, the remainder of 
the island supports a growth of coarse grasses, sparse on 
the higher rockier portions, more luxuriant in the lower 


portions, particularly about the margins of a small salt 
pond, the size of which was dependent upon conditions of 
tide and wind. There is no fresh water on the Cay. 

In the literature of ornithology, Cay Verde figures only 
in Bryant's "List of Birds Seen at the Bahamas from Jan. 
20, to May 14, 1859,"* where it is mentioned casually as a 
breeding place of the Tropic Bird (Phaethon flavirostris). 
This author writes at some length of the nesting habits of 
the Booby and Man-o'-War Bird as observed in San Domin- 
go Cay and the Ragged Islands, respectively, but does not 
refer to the colonies of these birds in Cay Verde. Possibly, 
he did not himself visit Cay Verde where doubtless both the 
species of birds named have nested for a prolonged period ; 
this Cay, so we were informed, having some ten years ago 
been the site of a guano industry which nourished until all 
the available deposit had been removed. 

My information in regard to the birds of Cay Verde, was 
obtained from the late D. P. Ingraham, who, as a collecting 
naturalist, visited the Cay about 1891. Mr. Ingraham 's in- 
formation in regard to the presence of Boobies and Man-o '- 
War Birds was fully verified. In May, he also wrote, great 
numbers of Terns (doubtless Sterna fuliginosa, S. ancethe- 
tus and Anous stolidus] and a few Tropic Birds come to the 
Cay to nest. 

No land birds appear to be resident on Cay Verde, but it 
is evidently visited by numbers of migrants. During our 
stay the following species were noted : 

Audubon's Shearwater Fish Hawk 

Sooty Tern Duck Hawk 

Great Blue Heron Kingfisher 

Black-necked Stilt Mangrove Cuckoo 

Greater Yellow-leg Gray Kingbird 

Little Yellow-leg Savanna Sparrow 

Least Sandpiper Myrtle Warbler 

Turnstone Yellow-throat (Geothlypis) 

Audubon's Shearwater was doubtless breeding on the 
Cay in some of the innumerable holes in the limestone. No 

Proc. Bost. Soc. Nat. Hist., VII, p. 102. 



attempt was made to discover it, but the abundance of the 
birds from nightfall until midnight, as betrayed by their 
singular calls, together with the absence of other land near- 
er than thirty miles, leaves little doubt of their presence. 

A single Sooty Tern was seen late one afternoon, but 
numbers of these birds, with possibly also Bridled Terns, 
were heard flying about the Cay after nightfall. Possibly 
they may have roosted on the Cay, or their visit may have 
had some connection with their later occupation of it. 

The three duck 
Hawks living on the 
Cay apparently found 
sufficient subsistence in 
the Shore Birds which 
visited it and of which 
they were several times 
seen in pursuit. 

The presence of the 
birds above mentioned, 
indicates that Cay 
Verde would be an ad- 
mirable station for the 
study of the migration 
of birds through this re- 
gion. The small size of 
the Cay would permit 
the taking of fairly accurate daily censuses, while the dis- 
tance from the nearest land makes it the only available stop- 
ping place in a large aTea. 

It is to this isolation that the presence of large numbers 
of breeding birds on the Cay, may be chiefly attributed. Ani- 
mal food is always at a premium in the Bahamas where indi- 
genous mammalia are virtually absent, and conditions are 
generally not favorable for the support of domesticated 

The Bahaman negro considers all flesh edible, and those 

Yellow-crowned Night Heron 


bird rookeries which were most accessible, have long ago 
been devastated for food. The colony containing thousands 
of Man-o'-War Birds, which Dr. Bryant (I. c.) found on 
Bagged Island, no longer exists ; its extinction doubtless be- 
ing due to the habit, of which we were told, of collecting 
Man-o '-War Birds, salting them and shipping them as food 
to the other islands. 

As the most abundant and easily observed of the two 
birds nesting on the Cay, the Booby first commanded our 

The Booby Colony 

Although the Booby is found throughout the West In- 
dies, northward at least to the mouth of the St. John's 
River, Florida, where on March 11, 1907, 1 saw twelve indi- 
viduals, Bryant appears to be the only naturalist who has 
recorded an authentic description of its nesting in this 

A partial census of eggs and young, led to the conclusion 
that there were about 1500 pairs of Boobies nesting on Cay 
Verde. They were distributed in several groups where the 
comparatively level surface and sandy soil furnished favor- 
able nesting conditions. In most instances the young were 
covered with down, with the brown second plumage more or 



less evident in wings and tail. A few birds of the year were 
already a-wing and several nests contained fresh eggs. For 
the greater number of birds, however, the nesting season, as 
Bryant has stated, evidently begins in February. 

One or both of the adults remain, as a rule, with the 
young. On April 9, the birds awoke at 5 :15 A. M., when for 
the ensuing ten or fifteen minutes there was a subdued kind 
of quacking, and some birds were seen flying. At 5 :30 sev- 
eral hundred birds left the rookery in a body to go fishing, 

A Call on a Booby Family 

this being the general movement. Individuals returned at 
intervals during the day and evidently changed places with 
the bird left at the nest, which, in turn, went out to feed and 
to gather fish for the young. 

There was no concerted return movement until dusk, 
when flocks of birds came in from the sea, the last comers not 
arriving until after dark. In the meantime, the Man-o '-Wai- 
Birds had retired and it is not impossible that the Boo- 
bies have acquired the habit of "staying out late" to avoid 



Picked up bits of sticks 

being robbed of their food by the Man-o '-War Birds, which 
at times attacked them as they approached the Cay and 
forced them to disgorge. 

Sitting or brooding birds spend the night upon the nest 

with their mate stand- 
ing at their side, but the 
close resemblance of the 
sexes rendered it im- 
possible to distinguish 
them at this time. When 
the young is too large 
to be brooded, it passes 
the night on the ground 
between the two par- 
ents who stand on either 
side, all three with their 
heads tucked under 
their scapulars. 
When perched on rocks about the border of the island, 
Boobies showed a decided fear of man and generally flew 
before one had approached to within thirty yards of them ; 
but when on their nests they were conspicuously tame, the 
degree of tameness being related to the advance of the nest- 
ing season. A bird with newly hatched young would not, as 
a rule, leave the nest unless actually forced to do so, and it 
would strike at one so viciously that it was well not to ven- 
ture within its reach. This was the extreme development 
of parental instinct which now gradually diminished as the 
young increased in size. Evidently as a result of excitement 
caused by our presence, the birds which remained to defend 
their young threatened us with their bills, picked up bits of 
sticks or grasses, only to drop them and pick them up again, 
and even struck at their own young in a confused and aim- 
less manner. The young also had this habit. The report of 
a gun occasioned but little alarm among the Boobies, some 



of which, with their young near my feet, did not fly when 
the gun was discharged. 

In spite of the apparent sociability expressed by their 
communal habits, the Boobies immediately resented the 
trespass on their home site by one of their own kind. Where 
the nature of the ground permitted, their nests were placed 

Booby and Nest 

with more or less regularity six to eight feet from one an- 
other. As long as a bird remained within its own domain, 
having a diameter of approximately six to eight feet, it was 
not molested ; but let it or its young advance beyond these 
limits and they were promptly attacked. 

So closely, however, are the birds confined to their own lit- 
tle areas that difficulties of this kind are rare and under nor- 
mal conditions peace reigns in the rookery. But when, as we 
walked through the rookery, the birds in escaping from the 
larger evil forgot the lesser one and inadvertently backed 
on to a neighbor 's territory, the unusual cause of the tres 
pass was not accepted as an excuse and they found the "fry- 



ing pan ' ' was worse than the ' ' fire ' ' as the enraged owner, 
with bristling feathers, furiously assailed them with open 
bill, sometimes taking hold. At these times, and whenever 

the birds were alarmed, 
they gave utterance to 
hoarse, raucous screams 
or screeches, though as 
a rule they were com- 
paratively silent. 

The Boobies' nests 
on Cay Verde were 
usually a slight hollow 
in the ground with 
often a scanty lining 
or rim of dried grasses, 
but in some instances 
even this humble prep- 
aration for housekeep- 
ing was lacking and the 

e gg s were laid without 

pretense of nest. 

About ninety-eight per cent of the Boobies nesting on 
Cay Verde had young, some of which were newly hatched 
while a few were on the wing, but the largest number were 
beginning to acquire flight feathers. Thirty-five nests were 
found containing eggs, of which twenty-one held two eggs, 
while in fourteen there was but one ; but possibly in some, if 
not most of these, another egg would have been laid. Two 
eggs, therefore, was the rule, a statement confirming pre- 
viously recorded observations on the nesting habits of this 
species. On the other hand, two young was the exception. 
Of seven hundred and forty nests counted by Dr. Mayer on 
the east- side of the Cay, only two contained two young, and 
both pairs were well grown and approximately the same 

Examination of the eggs contained in sets of two showed 

Booby Twins 



A Booby Family 

that either there was a marked difference in the develop- 
ment of the embryos or that one or both eggs were infertile. 
For example, of thirteen nests containing two eggs, in three 
nests both were bad, in ten both were good but with every 
good pair there was about a week's difference in the age of 
the embryo. In six nests each containing one young and one 
egg, five of the eggs were decomposed. 

With those Boobies which lay two eggs, apparently a 
week intervenes between the deposition of the first and sec- 
ond egg, and to this unusual irregularity in connection with 
the high percentage of infertility, we attribute the discrep- 
ancy between the number of eggs laid and the number of 
young reared. 

Our studies were not sufficiently prolonged to enable us 
to determine whether, when both eggs were fertile, the 
young first hatched survived or whether, through continued 
incubation of the remaining egg it starved and the young 



hatched from the last laid egg lived ; but in one instance a 
nest was observed containing a lately hatched dead young 
and an egg with an embryo. 

The case is unique among birds, as far as I am aware, 
but that the data 
on Cay Verde do 
not reveal an ex 

Boobies in Flight 

ceptional condition 
is apparently prov- 
en by the observa- 
tions of Walter K. 
Fisher* in the 
Leeward Islands 
of the Hawaiian 
group where both Sula cyanops and 8. leucogastra were 
found to lay two eggs and rear but one young. 

The young Booby is born naked and since exposure to 
the sun before the downy plumage is developed would re- 
sult fatally, it is constantly brooded, one parent at once re- 
placing the other when the brooding bird is relieved. Brood- 
ing continues even when the white down is well developed ; 
the young bird is then too large to be wholly covered by the 
parent, and lies flat on the ground, the head exposed, the 
eyes closed, apparently dead. This relaxed attitude is also 
taken by young which are not sheltered by the parent and 
we were not a little surprised on several occasions, when 
about to examine an evidently dead bird to have it jump up 

* Birds of Laysan and the Leeward Islands, Hawaiian Group, U. S. F'sb Comm. 
Bull.19, 03, pp. 28-30 


and with a trumpeting call blare at us with open mouth. Nor 
do they rely only on their voice for defence, but use their 
bill effectively, and, as has been remarked, they possess with 
the adult the somewhat ludicrous habit of venting their feel- 
ings by picking up bits of stick and grass. 

Compared with other rookeries I have visited, the mor- 
tality among young Boobies on Cay Verde (aside from 
the prenatal mortality already referred to) was surprising- 
ly small. This I attribute to the isolation of the Cay which 
permits the birds to rear their young with little or no intru- 
sion by man, whose presence even only as a visitor, results 
in great confusion and consequent death among the young 
of ground-nesting colonial birds. 

The young were fed on squids and fishes which in a more 
or less digested condition they obtained by thrusting their 
heads and necks down the parent 's throat, a manner of feed- 
ing common to all the Steganopodes with whose habits I am 
familiar (including Pelicans, Man-o'-War Birds, Cormor- 
ants, and Anhingas). I have not, however, seen the Tropic 
Bird feed its young and it would be interesting to know 
whether this tern-like member of the order employs a simi- 
lar method. 

Evidently but one brood is reared since approximately 
three months must elapse after the egg is laid before the 
young bird can fly and care for itself. 

The luxuriant growth of cactus among the sea-grapes in 
which the Man-o '-War Birds nested, added to the difficulty 
with which these thickly branched, shrubby trees were pene- 
trated, and we did not attempt to make a census of the num- 
ber of birds of this species which were breeding on Cay 
Verde. We estimated, however, that there were between 
two hundred and three hundred pairs. 

The nesting season seemed to be about as far advanced 
as it was with the Booby, most of the nests containing half- 
grown young, but some held fresh eggs, while a few birds of 
the year were already on the wing. Their manner of nesting 



prevented us from studying the nesting habits of the Man- 
o'-War Bird with the ease which attended our observations 
of the Boobies ; and I have but little to record concerning 
the biography of this species. 

The Man-o '-"War birds awoke at about the same time as 
the Boobies, and at 5 :30 A. M., were sailing over their rook- 
ery. From this time until they retired, considerably before 
the Boobies, and while it was yet light, a flock of birds was 
constantly over the sea-grapes. The birds may be said to 
have perched in the air above their homes. Only one bird is 
in attendance on the young at the same time. Both sexes as- 

A Corner of the Man-o'-War Bird Colony 
The blind appears at the left 

sumed this duty, as well as the task of incubation ; but there 
appeared to be no regularity as to when male or female 
should be on guard. 

The Man-o '-War birds were less tame than the Boobies 
and, as a rule, left the nest when one approached to within 
thirty or forty feet of them. When, however, they were 
brooding newly hatched chicks, they showed more bravery. 

In most instances the gular pouch had faded from car- 



Young Man-o'-War Birds on their Nests 

mine to orange, and only one individual was seen with the 
pouch inflated, as Fisher has described it. As I attempted to 
approach this bird the pouch was suddenly deflated. 

The Man-o'-War birds were not seen to devour the 
young of their own species, as they have been said to do ; nor 
were they observed to capture young Boobies. Occasionally 
they chased the adult Boobies and made them disgorge in 
the air, but evidently, in the main, they did their own pur- 
veying, flying-fish being taken from one bird that was shot. 

The adults were not heard to utter a sound. 

The nests were frail, open-worked, slightly hollowed 
platforms, composed of small sticks and twigs, placed in the 


tops of the sea-grapes, at a height of six or seven feet, or 
among the cactuses within two feet of the ground. Several 
nests are often placed in one bush within reaching distance 
of one another. They become matted with filth as the young 
increase in size. One adult was seen carrying nest-building 
material in its bill. 

Female Man-o'-War Bird and Young 

The Man-o '-War Bird lays but one egg, and in a number 
of nests fresh eggs were found. The young are born naked 
and are brooded by the parents. As they increase in size 
and become covered with white down, their wings seem to be 
much too large for them to hold close to the body, and relax- 
ed, are permitted to rest on the nest. Their whole attitude 
suggests extreme dejection; not only do the wings droop, 
but the head often hangs over the edge of the nest. When 
approached they uttered a squealing, chippering call, and 
snapped their bills with a rattling sound ; both the note and 
action strongly suggesting similar habits of the young 
Brown Pelican. 

The development of the interscapular feathers in the 
young Man-o '-War Bird is remarkable. Before there is any 
evidence of wing or tail feathers, they cover the back like a 


mantle, as may be seen in the photographs of young birds in 
the nest. 

It is surprising that in a bird famed for its power of night, 
and possessed of exceptional length of wing and tail, the 
feathers of these parts, contrary to the general rule, should 
not take the lead in development. Comparison of tne young 
Man-o 7 -War .birds and young i^oouies, for example, in 
which wmg-featJiers of the second plumage are just evident, 
snows that while the former has tne whole mterscapular re- 
gion black, some of the feathers being d.Yo incnes in lengtn, 
me .booby snows as yet no signs of second plumage in this 

iNot only are the wing feathers in Fregata late in appear- 
ing, but tne secondaries precede the primaries, tne former 
averaging two inches in length, witn tne greater and median 
coverts snowing, when the latter is just observable. 

Our work imished, we returned to the "Jfhysalia" late 
on tne afternoon of April i^, tiie change in wind since our 
landing making it necessary to re-embark from tne southern 
side of the (Jay, ana at 6 p. M V on tne 13th, we reached our 
old anchorage between tne Kagged islands. 

April 13, we replenished our supply of fresh water from 
a well or seepage-hole within a few yards of the sea, and on 
the 14th headed for JM assau, but after making eighteen 
miles, strong head winds forced us to seek shelter and 

April 15, we had made only three miles, when the heavy 
north wind obliged us to anchor under Nurse Key on which 
we passed the day. At midnight the wind hauled to the east- 
ward, giving us a lee and permitting us to lay our course. 
At 6 P. M., on the 16th, we were abreast of Harvey Cay after 
our only good day's run since leaving Miami, and the ba- 
rometer promising settled weather, under the advice of the 
pilot, but against the judgment of our commander, we decid- 
ed to sail through the night. 

The wind held fair but doubtless a tidal current setting 


through an opening in the line of keys to the east, carried us 
from our course and at half -past eleven, after a warning- 
bump or two, we brought up on a bar and were pounded by 
the sea under a freshening breeze for the rest of the night. 
Daylight showed that we were on the Cistern Key bhoals 
and a mile and a hall too far to the east. 

We had gone ashore at high tide, and the succeeding high 
tide, at noon, on the 17th, lacked at least a foot of floating 
us. VV e did, however, after great exertion, succeed in turn- 
ing the boat's head so far around that there was some pros- 
pect of getting her on the shoals at high water near 
midnight, in the meantime, cable chains, spare anchors ana 
ballast were thrown overboard on the shoals and buoyeu, 
and our boxes of canned provisions were landed on the near- 
est key, distant a mile and a half, where, to protect them 
from negro spongers, 1 was given the enviable post of 
guard. The quiet waters of the bay on which 1 was camped, 
were dotted with numerous attractive little keys ; Mocking- 
birds were cheerily singing, Doves cooing softly, and tne 
glowing sun sank balloon-shaped into the sea, leaving a 
sense of restfulness sadly at variance with the anxiety and 
activity of the day and night just passed. 

From the key, the "Physalia" appeared to be afloat and 
in order that I might determine whether she had moved, i 
arranged, before retiring, a sight of two conch-shells and a 
broken limb which, viewed in line, led to the boat. She was 
not visible from my camp and when at dawn on the following 
morning I picked my way over the pointed and pitted lime- 
stone, and found that the "Physalia" was missing from her 
position at the end of the line connecting the conchs and 
branch, I held a little celebration which, from all accounts, 
was not a bad imitation of the one occurring on the boat, 
when during the night, with unexpected ease, she went off 
the shoals. A step or two further showed her riding to the 
wind, in the deeper waters toward the south. 

Cargo and ballast were now reloaded with a will and, at 


8 A. M., we got under way with a fair wind and every pros- 
pect of reaching Nassau in the evening; but when opposite 
Norman Key, where on March 31 we had anchored in a flat 
calm, the wind failed, and, being without sufficient gasolene 
to finish the voyage, the day's run ended at that point. Dur- 
ing the night the wind rose, still holding from the south and 
getting under way at 4 :3U A. M V we reached our anchorage 
in Nassau harbor at noon. 

The storm of April 1 had done more or less damage to 
the shipping here, driving the water up to Bay street and 
the surf over Hog island, while a party of tourists were for 
three days prevented from returning to their steamer, 
which ran to the southern shore of the island for shelter. 

The steamship service to Miami having been arbitrarily 
discontinued a month in advance of the published sailing 
dates, and the only available schooner having left the day 
before, I waited at Nassau until Dr. Mayer closed his branch 
laboratory and on April 26, continued the journey to Miami 
aboard the ' ' Physalia. ' ' Starting at midnight, we hoped to 
reach our former anchorage oft' Cat (Jay before dark, but at 
nightfall, Gun Cay light still being invisible from the mast- 
head, we anchored on the Banks where, in the face of a 
strong east wind, the boat pitched violently and threatened 
to snap her anchor chain. 

Two hours run, on the morning of April 27, brought us in 
sight of Gun Cay, but as we were about to slip through the 
narrow passage between it and Cat Cay, the wind failed and 
shortly came out ahead. We therefore anchored under Cat 
Cay. Mr. Haigh, the sociable hermit of this attractive little 
island, at once came aboard and we not only accepted his 
cordial invitation to breakfast but virtually became his 
guests during the two days we waited for a favoring wind 
with which to cross the stream. 

One might hunt far for a more charming place in which 
to be weather bound. The Cay is about two miles long and, 
having more soil, is correspondingly more fertile than the 


average Bahaman key. Numerous walks which have been 
opened through the dense growth, facilitate observation of 
birds, and for this reason, in connection with its geographi- 
cal position, the Cay would make an admirable place in 
which to study bird migration. 

Great numbers of Warblers were seen here during the 
two days of our stay, the Cape May Warbler outnumbering 
all the other species together. There were also Black and 
White Warblers, Parulas, a single Worm-eating Warbler, 
Black-throated Blue, Blackpoll and Prairie Warblers, Oven- 
birds, Northern Water-Thrushes, Maryland Yellow-throats, 
and Eedstarts, and a single Kirtland's Warbler, the only 
one I have ever seen, while feeding on the berries of low 
' ' sage ' ' bushes, gave me an excellent opportunity to make 
the acquaintance of this the rarest North American member 
of its family. Its tail-wagging motion was as pronounced 
as that of the Palm Warbler. 

The wind heading to the northeast, we resumed our jour- 
ney at 6 :30 A. M. on April 29, and after rather a rough trip 
across the stream, sighted Fowey Bock light at eleven 
o'clock and reached Miami five hours later exactly one 
month and one day from the time we had left there. 

I have given the history of this voyage in some detail as 
in my experience, at least, a rather unusual record of pro- 
longed adverse conditions, and in concluding this narrative 
of an expedition from which success was virtually choked, 
I express with much pleasure my indebtedness to Dr. May- 
er 's skill as a commander, his courtesy as a host, and his 
value as a scientific associate. 



Giant Cactus and Santa Catalina Mountains 
Note the Woodpecker hole in the main stem 


For the collecting season of 1906, 1 planned an itinerary, 
which beginning in early May in Nebraska, led successively 
to Arizona, Wyoming, California and Oregon. The work 
accomplished in the two latter states is described in the 
chapter on California bird-life, and I wish to relate here 
briefly the facts connected with the securing of material for 
a Prairie Hen group in Nebraska, a cactus desert bird-life 
group near Tucson, and a Golden Eagle group in Wyoming. 

I confess that these three chapters are inspired by a de- 
sire to present a complete history of the collecting of the 
' ' Habitat Groups, ' ' rather than by the necessity of record- 
ing anything I may have learned of the region, or its birds, 
in which the three groups were secured. To travel 13,000 
miles in three months does not permit one to linger at any 
one locality and, as soon as the collections were made for 
one group, we hastened toward the next. 

I was accompanied in Nebraska and Arizona by Bruce 
Horsfall, artist, and J. D. Figgins, of the Museum staff, 
preparateur. May 1, we reached Lincoln, Nebraska, 
whither we had gone to confer with Prof. Lawrence Bruner, 
in regard to a favorable locality for Prairie Hens and to ob- 
tain a permit from the State Game Warden to collect the 
specimens needed. 

The same evening, accompanied by Professor Bruner, 
we left for Halsey, in the sand-hills of the central part of 
the state, where we became the guests of the Forest Reser- 
vation Station. 

We left Halsey May 6, going to Denver by way of Alli- 
ance, and continuing our journey thence to Pueblo, the 


Eaton Pass, Albuquerque, and Deming to Tucson, which we 
reached May 10. 

Tucson was left May 21, and Medicine Bow, Wyoming, 
reached the 25th by way of Yuma, San Bernardino, the 
Meadow Valley Wash, Salt Lake and Ogden. 

A Bates' Hole Road 


That one should have to go to central Nebraska for Prai- 
rie Hens is impressive evidence of the rapid decrease of this 
fine bird. As a boy, in the early seventies, I recall the glut of 
these Grouse in the butcher shops, my first ornithological 
collection, indeed, being composed largely of wings of Prai- 
rie Hens, obtained with the cook's co-operation. But the 
farmer in the spring, and the market-hunter in the fall, have 
given the bird no opportunity to reproduce or time to rest, 
and it is now either extirpated or rare over most of the re- 
gion in which it was formerly abundant. 

When, therefore, I made inquiry of various correspond- 
ents concerning a place where I might count on finding Prai- 
rie Hens in numbers, I was advised to go to the sand-hills of 
Nebraska. In this comparatively arid region, unfit for agri- 
culture except in the watered bottom-lands, the bird proved 
to be abundant and here, doubtless, it will make its last 

Nebraska is a connecting link between the east and the 
west. Deciduous woods border the streams which flow 
through the prairies of its eastern portion ; conifers grow on 
the mountains which penetrate the plains of its northwest- 
ern portion. 

The influence of such striking changes in physiography 
and forest growth is markedly observable in the distribution 
of birds in Nebraska. 

The eastern Wild Turkey, for example, was once com- 
mon in the wooded bottom-lands of eastern Nebraska, while 
the Sage Hen is found on the sage plains of its western bor- 
der. So, too, among many similar cases, the Whip-poor- 
will, Chimney Swift, Phoebe, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and 
Scarlet Tanager, nest commonly in eastern Nebraska, while 


the Poor-will, White-throated Swift, Say's Phoebe, Bullock's 
Oriole, Black-headed Grosbeak, and Western Tanager, nest 
only in the western part of the state. 

In brief, some eastern birds find their western limit in 
eastern Nebraska, and some western birds find their eastern 
limit in western Nebraska, while the ranges of others meet 
or overlap. The Prairie Hen, for example, extends more 
than half-way across the state where it meets the Sharp-tail 
Grouse or Prairie Chicken ; the Great-crested Flycatcher 
meets the Arkansas Kingbird, the Blue Jay the Magpie, to 
mention a few of many similar cases. 

May 3, when we reached Halsey, the migration appeared 
to be at its height, and many transient species were found 
with those which were nesting or about to nest. 

In or along the swiftly flowing Middle Loup we observed 
small numbers of Mallards, Pintails, Blue-winged Teal, 
Great Blue Herons, American Bitterns, Coots, Wilson's 
Snipe, Solitary Sandpipers and Killdeer. Among the wil- 
lows and blossom-covered plum bushes of the bottom-lands, 
were a single Bob-white, Arkansas Flycatchers, Say's 
Phcebes, Blue Jays, Yellow-headed, Brewer's, and Red- 
winged Blackbirds (Agelaius subsp.), Clay-colored and In- 
termediate White-crowned Sparrows, Arctic Towhees in 
great numbers, every plum thicket holding as many as forty 
or fifty males and females ; Field Sparrows, White-rumped 
Shrikes, and straggling Myrtle, Blackpoll, and Wilson's 
Warblers, Yellow-throats (Geothlypis subsp.), Eock Wrens, 
Brown Thrashers, and Bluebirds. 

On the prairie of the Loup Valley, we saw a single Bar- 
tramian Sandpiper or ' ' Upland Plover ' ' once abundant but. 
as a breeding bird, now very rare in Nebraska, Prairie 
Hens, Doves, Burrowing Owls, Prairie Horned Larks, 
Western Meadowlarks, Lark Buntings, Lark Finches, and 
Vesper Sparrows. 

The Sharp-tailed Grouse (Pedioecetes p. campestris) 
appeared to be confined to the dune-like sandhills. In the 


air, were Turkey Vultures (we saw two), Ferruginous 
Rough-legs, Swainson's and Sharp- shinned Hawks, Fish 
Hawk (one), Barn, Tree, and Bank Swallows. 

The list shows that interesting mingling of western and 
eastern forms which one would expect to find at a locality 
almost on the one hundredth meridian. The Western 
Meadowlark was the most abundant as well as the most 
musical bird present. Its song season was now at its height, 
and there were few moments from daylight to dusk when 
one or more birds could not be heard. The flight song was 
uttered almost as frequently as the perch song. It was al 
ways preceded by a mellow, whistled wheu, repeated four or 
five times at increasingly shorter intervals, until it seemed 
to force the bird into the air to give freer utterance to a 
hurried, ecstatic, twittering, jumbled warble, as it mounted 
on fluttering wings to a height of twenty to forty feet, de- 
scribed an arc and sought a new perch. 

On the morning of May 5, I saw and heard a single 
Eastern Meadowlark, whose clean-cut fifing was instantly 
recognizable in the chorus of bubbling flute-notes of the 
western bird. The difference in the calls of the species was 
even more marked than that which exists between their 
songs. The call-note of the Western Meadowlark is a chuck, 
chuck followed by a wooden, rolling b-r-r-r-r-r, wholly unlike 
the sharp dzit or yert and metallic twitter of the eastern 

Beyond question these two birds meet at the junction of 
plain and prairie as species, not as geographic races, and 
the rare intermediates from this part of their common 
range are, in my opinion, hybrids rather than climatic inter- 

The morning after our arrival at Halsey, Professor 
Bruner made good his promise to introduce me to the 
Prairie Hen and I listened for the first time to their 
booming, with doubtless much the same feeling that an 
ardent music-lover first hears the voice of a world-renowned 


singer. The birds were distant about a mile, but their per- 
vasive, resonant, conch-like notes, came distinctly to the 
ear through the still, clear air. 

After finding the place on the prairie where the birds 
assembled, I erected there the umbrella blind, putting fresh- 
leaved willow branches about and over it. The next day the 
weather proved unfavorable for my purpose, but the morn- 
ing of May 6, was all one could ask for. I arose at four 
o 'clock ; there was no hint of coming day, but a great red 
moon hung over the sand-hills just long enough to guide me 
over the mile and a half to the blind. The mercury regis- 
tered 25 ; the grass was crisp with frost, the air sparkling 
and deliciously stimulating. A Burrowing Owl cackled as I 
passed his dwelling and from the dark the mellow flute-song 
of the Western Meadowlark greeted the still unseen day. 

A prairie is not overburdened with landmarks at night, 
and but for the now faint light of the disappearing moon, I 
should have been unable to find my blind without more 
direct assistance from the sun. While looking for it I nearly 
stepped upon a Prairie Hen who, if he was as badly scared 
as I was, is still talking of the experience. Finally, I found 
the little structure which seemed singuarly homelike, and, 
no light still paling the east, I crawled within it, prepared 
to spend a chilly hour while waiting for the curtain to rise, 
but I had not unslung my camera when, from almost within 
arm's length, a positively blood-curdling boom-ah-boom re- 
sounded over the prairie. The performance had begun. 

At short range the bird's note suggested the mellow, 
resonant tone of a kettledrum, and when bird after bird, all 
still unseen, uttered its truly startling call, the very earth 
echoed with a continuous roar. Soon one could see as well 
as hear, and a remarkable sight it was that presented itself. 
Nineteen cock Prairie Hens were booming, strutting or 
fighting within one hundred yards of my blind, the nearest 
being less than half this distance. 

As a rule each bird had its own stand separated by about 


ten yards from that of his neighbor. The boom is apparent- 
ly a challenge. It is preceded by a little dance in which the 
bird's feet pat the ground so rapidly as to produce a rolling 
sound. This cannot be heard at a greater distance than 
thirty yards. It is immediately followed by the inflation of 
the great orange air sacks at the side of the neck, which puff 
out as quickly as a child's toy balloon-whistle; the tail is 
erect and widely spread, the wings drooped, the neck-tufts 
are raised straight upward, giving the bird a singularly 
devilish look, then with a convulsive movement of the 
lowered head the boom is jerked out and at its conclusion 
the air sacks have become deflated. 

One might imagine that after so violent a performance 
the bird would feel a certain sense of exhaustion or at least 
quiescent relief, but his excess of vitality seeks still other 
outlets. Uttering hen-like calls and cacks he suddenly 
springs a foot or more straight into the air, whirling about 
as though he were suffering from a combined attack of 
epilepsy and St. Vitus dance. 

But all this activity is only a prelude to the grand finale 
of actual combat. Like a strutting Turkey cock, the 
neighboring birds go toward each other by short little runs, 
head down, the oranee eye-brow expanded and evident, 
pouch inflated, neck-tufts and tail straiarht up, and looking 
like headless birds with two tails. Their meeting is followed 
by no make-believe duel but an actual clash of wings. TJtter- 
insr a low, whininsr note they fisrht as viciously as game 
cocks, and the number of feathers left on the ground testi- 
fies to effective use of bills and claws. 

The first bird called at 4 :40, and by seven o'clock the per- 
formance was practically over. Either the birds had passed 
the niarht out on the prairie or had left their sleeping places 
in the bushy coverts of the bottom while still it was dark. 

It is commonly believed that the performance I have out- 
lined, is for the edification of the females who have been 
described as interested spectators of the proceedings, but 


on this morning not one female was present, and I find that 
Dr. Anderson ("Birds of Iowa") also states that he has 
never seen females on these occasions. Probably we may 
regard these exhibitions as the uncontrollable manifesta- 
tions of that physical energy which in animals reaches its 
extreme development during the mating season. 

If the female should chance to be a witness of the per- 
formance, it may serve to arouse her sexual ardor, but it is 
evident that her presence is not necessary to stimulate the 
male to his extraordinary vocal, acrobatic, and war-like 

It is worthy of note that although the Prairie Cock when 
in the lists is a strikingly conspicuous creature, he wears no 
adornment which cannot be concealed at a moment 's notice. 
The sight of a passing Hawk changes the grotesque, be- 
plumed, be-oranged bird into an almost invisible squatting 
brownish lump, so quickly can the feathers be dropped and 
air sack deflated. With woodland birds so great a change is 
unnecessary, but the Prairie Hen can hide only under its 
own feathers. 

With the echoing boom of the Prairie Hen's drum, I can 
still hear the fluting of the Western Meadowlark, which 
perched on my blind, and, with almost deafening effect, 
sang repeatedly, at about six inches from my ear. 


It was in 1900 that a correspondent sent me a photo- 
graph of a Golden Eagle's nest which, if the birds had con- 
sulted the requirements of museum exhibition, could not 
have been more suitably situated. Foreground and back- 
ground were so widely separated by an unseen middle 
distance that the work of the reproducer of the former, and 
the painter of the latter was clearly denned. Furthermore, 
the scene as a whole, was not only picturesque in itself, but 
was characteristic of a type of Wyoming "Badland". 

The photograph was filed awaiting an opportunity to 
make a study of the scene it represented, but this did not 
come until 1906. On May 25, of that year, I reached Medi- 
cine Bow, the nearest railway station to Bates ' Hole, fifty 
miles to the north; the site of the Eagle's nest. Eeaders of 
"The Virginian" will recall Owen Wister's description of 
this town on the Laramie Plains, which, in size and general 
appearance, has apparently changed but little since the 
"Judge's" prospective guest alighted there. But the 
passing of the open range and the advent of sheep have 
exerted as marked an influence on the life of the place as is 
implied in the difference between cow-punching and sheep- 
herding, and Medicine Bow would no longer appeal to the 
most imaginary romancer. 

The ranchman who knew the location of the Eagle's nest, 
and whose services as guide I hoped to secure, was reported 
to be seventy miles away ; but when my proposition to ride 
out and find him was met by a suggestion to telephone, I 
was impressed with the space annihilating properties of this 
invention as never before, and pardoned the wire-bearing 
poles for disfiguring the sage-brush. 

Within half an hour I learned that my man was absent 


on a horse round-up, and thus was saved a fruitless four- 
day journey. The following day, Will Taylor was secured 
as substitute, and on May 27, having laid in a supply of pro- 
visions at Medicine Bow's only store, we started for Bates' 
Hole. Two days rain had made the roads very heavy and, 
after going sixteen miles, we put up for the night at Tay- 
lor 's ranch. Here in a sheltered valley of the Freeze Out 
Hills, the man, with infinite labor, had built himself a com- 
fortable home, stable, corral, and other out-buildings, of 
logs, every one of which he had brought from the Laramie 
Mountains, forty -five miles away. Fuel he secured from a 
coal-vein on school land, distant a day's journey. An. excel- 
lent spring supplied water, and a small bunch of cattle, 
directly or indirectly furnished food. 

It continued raining on the 28th, and the day ended with 
a violent thunder shower followed by a sudden fall in the 
temperature, and a stinging hailstorm driven by a howling 

May 29, the mercury registered 34 at 7 :30 A. M V and the 
wind blew about fifty miles an hour with occasional flurries 
of snow and hail. Arid Tucson with its temperature of 103 
seemed to belong to the experience of another year rather 
than of the preceding week. 

In the afternoon, with the hope of finding that the high 
winds had partially dried the roads, we decided to start on 
our journey. A canvas top stretched over our wagon trans- 
formed it into a prairie schooner, which gave us excellent 
protection from the wind and hail. Toward evening the 
clouds broke into great masses and the day ended with a 
magnificent sunset and a promise of a clear morrow. 

We put up for the night at Dyer 's ranch unexpected, but 
unmistakably welcome guests. A broncho "buster" with a 
string of fifty horses, who had also stopped here for a 
night's lodging, gave us an exhibition of riding which would 
have done credit to a Cheyene tournament. 

May 30, the wind was high but the air clear and exhila- 



rating. Our schooner with Taylor 's sturdy horses and a 
saddle horse as tender, was under way at 7 :30 and we were 
soon launched in a sea of sage-brush bounded ahead only by 
the snow-ridged Laramie Mountains, forty miles away. The 
Muddy Eiver was bankfull, but we forded it with a rush, 
and early in the afternoon reached the edge of the great 
depression in which, somewhere, was the object of our 

In Bates' Hole 

The wind still blew violently, and it was necessary to 
find a camp-site which would give us some protection from 
its force. The trail through the bottom of the Hole proved 
impassable and, after a narrow escape from miring, we were 
forced to turn to the left and in a mile or more, discovered 
the cabin of a settler named Groener, so hidden in a pocket 
on the shores of Stinking Creek, that we might have passed 
it unseen within a hundred feet. 

We pitched our tent in the lee of the cabin which Mrs. 
Chapman was the second woman to enter and gladly 


accepted Groener's invitation to use his stove and firewood. 

Bates ' Hole is a basin in the plains, some sixty miles long 
and about one hundred to one hundred and fifty feet below 
the general level of the surrounding country. The bottom 
is mainly covered with sage-brush, which is largely 
"sheepedout", or grazed to the wood, the Hole being a 
favored resort of sheep, particularly during the winter and 
in May, when lambing. There were several ' ' lambing out- 
fits ' ', with their gypsy-like camp wagons, in the Hole at the 
time of our visit. 

The walls or sides of the Hole are of Miocene clay deep- 
ly seamed by gulches with out- jutting headlands curiously 
weathered into castellated buttes. 

In one of these buttes was the site of the nest we had 
come to find. We had no map and without the service of the 
guide on whose assistance we had counted, the search 
seemed rather hopeless. But the excellent series of 
photographs and the instructions sent by my original 
correspondent, soon enabled us to locate our position and 
the day after our arrival the nest was found within three 
hours of our camp. It was not occupied, but this was not 
essential to the accomplishment of our purpose. The site 
was photographed, specimens of the soft clay-rock collected, 
and Mr. Hittel, the artist, made studies on which to base his 
painting of the background. Later, a new Eagle 's nest was 
secured in the Freeze Out Hills and introduced into the 
group on the reproduced Bates ' Hole site. 

June 2, we left Bates ' Hole and on the 5th took the train 
at Medicine Bow for California. 

This trip offered no opportunity for detailed bird study, 
but I add some notes on certain of the birds observed. 

It was interesting to find that the little patches of Doug- 
lass Spruce which appeared on the sides of Bates' Hole 
wherever there was the proper amount of moisture, were 
large enough to hold a few forest-haunting birds; Au- 
dubon's Warblers, Long-tailed Chickadees, Flycatchers 


The Golden Eagle's Nest 

(Empidonax] and Arctic Bluebirds being seen in the spruce 
islet which appears in the foreground of the Eagle's nest 

In the willows bordering Stinking Creek, a pair of Mag- 
pies had a nest, and a MacGillivray Warbler sang its 
strongly accented song of seven notes from the shelter of a 
similar growth at our camp. Here, too, were a few Yellow 
Warblers and Mountain Song Sparrows. A Catbird and 


female Bobolink seen at this camp seemed strangely out of 
place in the sage-brush. 

A small slough at Taylor's Kanch was occupied by a 
pair of Pintails and a pair of Shovellers. One morning a 
female Wilson's Phalarope dropped into it to feed eagerly, 
gracefully, with quick turns of the head to right or left and 
half dives, but without wholly submerging the body. 

These birds, however, were as local and incidental as 
their own special haunts, and the characteristic birds of the 
region were the common inhabitants of the plains, the 
Mountain Plover, Sage Hen, Mourning Dove, Burrowing 
Owl, Shore Lark, Brewer's Blackbird, Western Meadow- 
lark, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Western Vesper Spar- 
row, Lark Bunting, and Sage Thrasher. 

Other species were noted but these were the character- 
giving birds, the ones almost constantly seen or heard as we 
drove through the sage-brush. 

To one who associates Plover with the sea-shore, or even 
grassy prairies, the Mountain, or as it might better be 
called, Plains Plover, seemed singularly out of place amid 
the sage-brush. It was locally common and by no means 
shy. It shares with others of its family, all the pretty 
Plover-like tricks and mannerisms of rapid running, grace- 
ful movements of the head, and dainty folding of uplifted 
wings. It is not a noisy bird like the Killdeer, and I did not 
often hear what is evidently its song ; a hoarse croak uttered 
several times as the bird with outstretched wings floated to 
the earth from a height of fifteen or twenty feet. 

As I feared, the courtship of the Sage Hens was past, 
and no opportunity was offered to observe the remarkable 
mating habits of this great bird. The females were sitting 
and already the males were gathered in small flocks which 
were very difficult to approach. Two nests were found, but 
both had been raided and the eggs destroyed, presumably 
by coyotes. 


The great cactus-covered deserts, so characteristic of 
the more arid portions of Mexico, push a well-developed 
arm northward into Arizona, where it forms too marked a 
feature of North American scenery to be omitted from any 
series of representations designed to include at least the 
more pronounced types of our landscape. 

Since this region has no colonies of birds, and no one 
bird of sufficient size to be treated alone in a group, it was 
decided to prepare a group which should show its commoner 
birds as well as its commoner forms of vegetation. 

Tucson, the site of the Desert Botanical Laboratory of 
the Carnegie Institution, was selected as a suitable locality 
for our labors, throughout which we had the invaluable 
advice of Dr. D. T. MacDougal, the Director of the Labora- 

We were fortunate in finding, the morning after our 
arrival, on May 9, a tent-house completely furnished, from a 
shower-bath to a can-opener. The preparateur of our party 
was at once appropriately installed as cook, with the artist 
as assistant, while the ornithologist acted in an advisory 
capacity. We were served daily by the butcher and baker, 
and even the iceman, and in addition to all these con- 
veniences and material comforts, we were surrounded by 
many birds and plants we had come to study. 

From our home on a hillside, about a mile west of Tuc- 
son, we had a grand view of the Santa Cruz Valley with 
irrigated alfalfa fields in the foreground, the city in the 
middle distance, and the beautifully modelled Santa Cata- 
lina Mountains on the horizon. 

The desert vegetation was at its best, and, looking out 
over a sea of variously colored and luxuriant blossoms, it 


was difficult to believe that we were not in a land of great 

The palo verdes (Parkins onia) were covered with such a 
profusion of yellow flowers that they gave a yellow tone to 
the landscape. The scarlet blossoms of the well-named 
candle bush (Fouquieria), at the end of their slender, spiny 
and generally leafless branches, gleamed like little tongues 
of fire. The great leaves of the wide-branching, prickly pear 
cactus (Opuntia engelmanni) were often fringed with large, 
pale yellow blossoms which, toward evening, became a deli- 
cate shade of butt'. A cylindrical-leaved cactus of the same 
genus (O. versicolor) developed a confusing tangle of intri- 
cate growing branches, and a correspondingly large number 
of yellow, mahogany, and scarlet flowers. Opuntia spinosior 
bore magenta blossoms, while those of Opuntia cholla were 
pink, but, unlike the two species first mentioned, neither was 
in full bloom. 

To eastern eyes, the giant cactus (Cereus giganteus] 
was the most striking type of plant-life. The drier, more 
rocky slopes were, in places, thickly grown with its candela- 
bra-like forms, some of which attained a height of forty 
feet. The white, waxy, tubular flowers appeared in a cluster 
at the end of the branches, where they opened toward the 
sun. As virtually the only form of vegetation suitable for 
hole-nesting birds, this cactus is possessed of an especial 
interest to the ornithologist. Few specimens of any size are 
without one or more Woodpecker's holes; the Gilded 
Flicker being apparently so dependent on this kind of nest- 
ing-site that is not found where the giant cactus is absent. 
The Elf Owl also is known to nest only in this cactus, using 
the old Woodpecker holes. Several species of birds, notably 
the White-winged Dove, were seen apparently probing the 
Cereus flowers, but just what they obtained I did not learn. 

Except along the "washes", where mesquite grew 
abundantly, there was no shade ; no murmuring of leaves. 
The rigid, thorny vegetation was rendered attractive only 


by the peculiarity of its form and the beauty of its blossoms. 

During the ten days of our stay, the mercury ranged 
from 48 degrees at 5 A. M V to 103 degrees in the early after- 
noon ; going below 60 degrees and over 90 degrees daily. 
But in spite of the fact that our tent was poorly adapted for 
this kind of weather, we suffered but little from the heat. It 
was the surprising dryness of the climate which most im- 
pressed us. No matter how violent the exertion it was 
impossible to perspire. Even draught horses did not wet a 
hair, and a ridge of salt on their coat bore testimony to the 
rapidity of evaporation. We were almost constantly thirsty 
and consumed quantities of water, never leaving camp with- 
out a filled canteen. 

Judged from its inflorescence, vegetation was at the 
height of its spring development, closely corresponding, 
indeed, to conditions at the same season near New York 
City ; but considered from only an ornithological standpoint, 
the season was more advanced. The song of some birds had 
evidently waned. The Cactus Wrens had already reared 
one brood, only one nest, among scores seen, containing 
young; and many nests of Palmer's Thrasher contained 
young nearly ready to fly. I regretted not hearing this 
species at the height of its season of spring song, for it is 
evidently a musician of exceptional gifts. 

Experience leads us to expect Wrens to be highly musi- 
cal, when, judged from its size, the Cactus Wren would rank 
first among the many sweet singers of its family, but its 
repertoire appears tobelimited to harsh, scolding notes, and 
one is attracted only by the trimness of its appearance, the 
vigor of its actions, and its ability as a nest-builder. 

Both Thrasher and Wren almost invariably placed their 
nests in Opuntia cholla, the most spiny of the cactuses and, 
with the Thrasher particularly, it was difficult to under- 
stand how the bird went to and from its home without 
becoming impaled. 

These two birds were abundant near our camp where 


other characteristic species were Gambel's Partridge, 
Mourning and White-winged Doves, Turkey Vulture, 
Western Bed-tail, Boadrunner, Golden-fronted Wood- 
pecker, Gilded and Bed-shafted Flickers, Poor-will (Phalce- 
noptilus subsp.), Texas Nighthawk, Arizona Crested Fly- 
catcher, Scott 's Oriole, House Finch, Desert Black-throated 
Sparrow, Arizona Cardinal, White-rumped Shrike, Canon 
Wren, Verdin and Plumbeous Gnatcatcher. 

Palmer's Thrasher Approaching Nest in Cholla 

The Texas Nighthawk seemed more like a Whip-poor- 
will than Nighthawk. Its food-flight was comparatively 
short and rarely twenty feet above the ground. Even less 
nighthawk-like were its singular, murmuring, humming 
notes, like the sound of winnowing wings. 

An intimate study of the home-life of the Boadrunner, 


Palmer's Thrasher Cleansing Nest in Cholla 

could not fail to develop facts of unusual interest, and I 
searched long but unsuccessfully for a nest of this bird of 
pronounced characteristics. The mounted birds in the 
photograph of the group, illustrate very well its appear- 
ance in motion and at rest. The bird in the background, 
with lowered head and horizontal tail, is running as only a 
Eoadrunner can ; while the one in the foreground represents 
a pose assumed when the bird's body stops and the tail ap- 
pears to go on. 

The Koadrunner is not usually credited with much vocal 
ability, but at times it mounts to a low perch and, with tail 
drooped like a Thrasher's, utters a low, moaning, pervasive 



coo. A chittering note, possibly of alarm, is produced by a 
rapid striking of the mandibles. 

From May 14 to 17, we camped at the mouth of Pima 
Canon, in the Santa Catalina Mountains, about twelve miles 
from Tucson. After crossing the sandy bed of the Santa 
Cruz Valley, where the creosote bush (Covillea) now cov- 
ered with innumerable little downy, white seed-balls, was 

Mourning Dove Nesting in Cholla 

the prevailing plant, we ascended the rocky mesa where the 
various species of cactus grow more luxuriantly than we 
had found them in the vicinity of Tucson. Birds, too, were 
more abundant and we added a number of species to the list 
of those observed about the city. 

About a mile above our camp, excellent water could still 
be found in a stream flowing through and over the rocks in 
the bottom of the canon, and this proved a source of attrac- 
tion to many species of birds. 

Morning and evening an almost continuous flight of 
Mourning and White-winged Doves passed our camp in 
going from the desert to the water, up the canon and back 


again. Both birds nested commonly in the dense growth on 
the mesa ; the Mourning Doves in the cholla, the White- 
winged in the palo verde, and the soft cooing of the former 
and vigorous, cookeree, cookeree, coo-ree-coo, cook-coo, ree- 
coo, cook-coo, ree-coo were among the commonest bird notes 
about our camp. 

As we lay rolled in our blankets, in the early morning, 
Gambel 's Partridges crowed from the near-by bushes or 
chattered conversationally, as with nodding crests they ran 
gracefully about us. Cardinals and Canon Wrens whistled, 
Cactus Wrens scolded and, occasionally there was an out- 
burst of Thrasher or Mockingbird music. 

Less welcome neighbors were the little striped skunks 
which at night frolicked about the camp and rummaged 
among our provisions, without our daring to resent their fa- 

The Gila monster was also an inhabitant of the canon ; 
the artist brought one to our camp in his umbrella, but it 
refused to partake of our hospitality and escaped during the 

One evening, when the canon was in shadow and the sun 
still illumined the mountain tops, a coyote, following the 
wind, ran up the bed of the stream, almost reaching me 
before he seemed aware of my presence. Then he leaped 
lightly up the steep slope. Twice he paused and whined 
anxiously, then bounded behind a rock and disappeared ; a 
pitiful, gaunt, worn, seemingly homeless creature. 

The making of this cactus desert group called for un- 
limited skill and patience on the part of the preparateur. 
Every joint of cactus it contains is a facsimile reproduction 
of the original, and is made from a mould. 

Before making casts of each section of an Opuntia or of 
the small Cereus appearing at the left of the group and the 
larger barrel cactus (Echino cactus) at the right, it was nec- 
essary to remove carefully, one at a time, every one of the 
hundreds of spines with which they are covered. After the 


cast had been taken from the mould (the species of Opuntia 
in wax, the others in plaster) they were colored from our 
field studies of growing plants, and the spines were then re- 
placedan almost endless task. 

Doubtless the best comment on the measure of success 
attained in this work was furnished by a member of the 
Botanical Laboratory staff who, after inspecting the finish- 
ed group with the utmost care, declared his inability to de- 
termine whether the plants were real or not ! 

Barrel Cactus 







Redwoods in the Armstrong Grove 
Sonoma County, July 14, 1906 


It is impossible to speak of California descriptively with- 
out using superlatives. If not the largest state in the Union 
it is at least the longest ; 770 miles separating its northern 
and southern boundaries; it has the highest mountain (Mt. 
Whitney, alt. 14,501 ft.) and the greatest depression (Sal- 
ton Sink, 287 ft. below sea level). It has a rainfall as low 
and nearly as high, as that of any other part of the Union. 
Owing, therefore, to its great extent, its diversified 
topography and its extremes of temperature and of aridity 
and humidity, California is a land of perpetual snow and 
endless summer ; of barren deserts and luxuriant forests ; of 
wide-stretching plains and majestic mountains ; of expan- 
sive marshes and bold, rocky, islet-beset coast-lines. 

In consequence of these widely varying climatic and 
physiographic conditions, California is admirably fitted to 
support an exceptionally rich fauna. Among birds, some 
five hundred species and subspecies, or nearly one-half the 
number known from America north of Mexico, have been re- 
corded from this single state. 

However, it is not only to the favorable conditions just 
outlined, but also to its geographical position that Califor- 
nia owes its abounding bird-life. The mountains which enter 
it from the north form an effective pathway for the exten- 
sion southward of many boreal species ; while at its south- 
ern border, both mountains and deserts have proved gate- 
ways through which have entered species from temperate 
as well as from tropical Mexico. 

The Great Basin, which encroaches on California's east- 
ern frontier, gives to it such characteristic interior species 


as the Sage Hen and American Magpie. On the western 
boundary of the state, an extended coast-line adds a large 
number of aquatic species to its list of birds, many of which 
find suitable nesting places on the numerous islands off the 

California, therefore, has not only been given an unus- 
ually large share of the world's assets in bird-life, but she 
has made the most of her resources. In the absence of gla- 
ciers, except at high altitudes, the climate of the state has 
not suffered those changes which have so profoundly affect- 
ed the fauna of the once ice-covered areas farther east. The 
most distinct, and possibly therefore some of the oldest 
types of American land birds still exist in California. The 
Wren-Tit, for example, which is practically restricted to the 
state, is the only North American bird for which an inde- 
pendent family has been suggested. Furthermore, in addi- 
tion to the preservation of these older types, California has 
made birds of her own. In no other part of America, possi- 
bly in no other part of the world, have widely varying cli- 
matic influences, aided by sharply defined physiographic 
areas, so strongly impressed themselves on a fauna. East of 
the Rockies, where comparatively uniform conditions pre- 
vail, there is, for example, only one well-marked form of the 
Song Sparrow ; but in California there are fourteen. Non- 
migratory, and inhabiting alike dry and moist regions, 
plains and mountains, marshes and outlying islands, the 
species readily responds to these strikingly different envir- 
onments. This is only one case among many, not alone with 
birds, but with lower as well as higher types of life, and eth- 
nologists tell us that more linguistic stocks have been devel- 
oped among the Indians of California, than in all the rest of 
the country. 

Broadly speaking, the leading physiographic areas of 
California, from east to west, are the eastern desert, the 
Sierras, the interior valley, the coastal mountains and the 


The eastern desert area, in the southeastern part of the 
state, is composed mainly of the Colorado and Mohave des- 
erts and extends from two-thirds to three-fourths the way 
across the state, being bounded on the west by detached des- 
ert mountain ranges. This is an area of excessive aridity 
with, in places, an annual rainfall of not more than two 
inches. Northward, the desert area, now the western mar- 
gin of the Great Basin, becomes a narrow strip at the foot of 
the Sierras, but at its northern extreme, broadens to nearly 
half the width of the state. 

The Sierras form a wall from 70 to 100 miles wide and 
about 500 miles long on the eastern side of the state, extend- 
ing from Lassen Peak in the north to Tejon Pass on the 
south. From the sun-scorched deserts at the east, or more 
fertile valleys at the west, they rise through a succession of 
forest growths to alpine meadows and snow-covered sum- 
mits, with correspondingly wide diversity in bird-life. 

The Sierras mark the eastern boundary of California's 
great interior valley, which is enclosed on the west by the 
Coast Range. This the Sacramento Valley at the north 
and San Joaquin Valley at the south is a, generally speak- 
ing, level area some 500 miles long, and averaging 40 miles 
wide. It is devoted to grain and grazing. The interior val- 
ley is bounded on the west by the Coast Range, which ex- 
tends from the Santa Barbara region northward the whole 
length of the state, with a conspicuous break at San Fran- 
cisco Bay. Heavily forested in its northern portion, it is 
comparatively arid south of Pacific Grove and, in the dry 
summer season, its golden brown hill-slopes are one of the 
characteristic features of the state 's scenery. By no means 
so high as the Sierras, the Coast Range mountains do not 
reach above the timberline and no alpine birds are found in 

To the west of the Coast Range, lies the coastal strip of 
valleys and hills, parallel to the mountains. In northern Cal- 
ifornia, where the land temperature is lower than the sea 


temperature, the prevailing, moisture-laden, westerly air 
currents are condensed, with a resulting heavy rainfall, (60 
to 80 inches annually), and a consequent luxuriant forest 
growth. This is the region of the redwoods. In southern 
California, while the prevailing winds are still off the ocean, 
they meet a usually higher land temperature ; condensation 
rarely follows and the rainfall averages only from 10 to 20 
inches annually. 

Finally, there are the islands off the coast. On the larger 
ones, between twenty and thirty species of land birds have 
been found nesting. In many instances, as a result of insu- 
lar isolation, they have become sufficiently changed from the 
mainland stock to be described as new races or species. The 
smaller islands, some of which are mere rocks, are often the 
home of great gatherings of sea-birds. 

My own experience in this great territory, so roughly 
outlined, was gained between the dates May 12 and July 4, 
1903; June 8 and July 18, 1906. Obviously this is too limited 
a period to permit me to speak with authority of the bird- 
life of any part of California. I have, however, seen enough 
of the state to be impressed by the opportunities it offers to 
the ornithologist ; and it is this impression, together with 
some appreciation of California's manifold attractions for 
the nature lover, to which it is hoped this sketch will give 


Whether naturalist or tourist, one should enter Califor- 
nia through its deserts, from Arizona ; reserving the Sierras 
as a climax to his journey through the state. 

If traveling on the Southern Pacific railway, a stop may 
be made at Yuma, on the Arizona side of the Colorado River. 
I have never visited a more barren place. The creosote bush 
was almost the only vegetation on the mesa, and this grew 
sparsely, while an occasional Shore Lark was the only bird 
seen on a morning's outing. 

In the willows of the river bottom, birds are more com- 



mon, among them being numbers of Desert Song Sparrows, 
which, with haunts not unlike those our Eastern Song Spar- 
row often frequents, is still the palest form among some 
twenty races of this plastic species ; evidently it owes its 
colors to the direct action of the aridity of its environment, 
and not to a natural selection which has brought it into a 
fancied harmony with its immediate surroundings. 

Tree Yuccas at Hesperia 

To the westward one should pause on the borders of the 
lately formed and now disappearing Salton Sea, in which 
White Pelicans have taken possession of an island ; or, still 
farther west, to observe the effects of irrigation on bird as 
well as plant-life of the Imperial Valley. The desert range 
is here crossed through the San Gorgonio Pass, where the 
rush of wind from the Pacific to the heated deserts creates 
a sand-blast from which the telegraph poles must be pro- 


If the Santa Fe route be selected, the tourist should stop 
at the Needles on the Colorado Eiver. West of the Needles, 
one should see the tree yuccas of the Mohave Desert. Our 
American Ornithologists ' Union party passed the morning 
of May 12, 1903, among them, at Hesperia. 

Even a few hours amid distinctly novel surroundings is 
sometimes sufficient to impress one with their salient fea- 
tures, and the bristling yuccas, often topped by Cactus 
Wrens, the abundance of flowers and birds, the distant 
snow-ridged San Bernardino Mountains, still stand clear- 
cut in my memory. 

Such an experience prepares one to realize the effects of 
irrigation which are encountered, after journeying through 
the Cajon Pass, about San Bernadino, Redlands and River- 
side, with their beautiful gardens, extensive orange groves, 
eucalyptus and pepper-bordered avenues, vocal with the 
songs of innumerable birds, chiefly Goldfinches, (Spinus 
psaltria) and Linnets, (Carpodacus mexicanus frontalis). 

The visiting ornithologist now has an inviting field be- 
fore him. Possibly he could not do better than to settle 
down for a time in the vicinity of Los Angeles where the 
proximity of sea and mountain will enable him to cover 
readily a widely diversified territory. My only field work 
in this part of the state was pursued somewhat farther 
north, near Piru. 


Piru is situated in the eastern part of Ventura County, 
somewhat over fifty miles by air-line from Santa Barbara. 
I visited this region from June 14 to 20, 1906, to examine 
the site of a California Condor 's nest from which, two years 
before, a young bird had been taken for the zoological 
garden at Washington. The bird had been secured by a 
ranchman named Whittaker, a man of varied interests. In 
the Piru Valley he raised oranges and apricots ; sixteen 
miles up Piru Creek at its junction with the Agua Blanca, 
he had a bee ranch, where the occupants of hundreds of 
hives were daily adding 700 pounds of honey to his and 
their resources ; six or eight miles further up the Agua 
Blanca, at an altitude of about 1500 feet, in the Devil's 
Potrero, he had established a thrifty looking apple orchard 
which had yielded prize fruit. 

Whittaker gracefully accepted the office of guide which 
our unexpected appearance imposed upon him. He sup- 
plied a team, assisted in the selection of provisions, added a 
liberal supply of oranges, which we picked off his trees, and 
drove us up the Piru to the bee ranch, crossing and recross- 
ing the flood-swept creek bottom, and winding through the 
scrub-covered grazing land, where an occasional Eoad Run- 
ner was seen. 

Late in the afternoon, we reached a picturesque little cab- 
in, almost hidden in the great live oaks ; as charming a home 
as though it had been prepared for our coming. The Agua 
Blanca, clear as its name implies, flowed rapidly past our 
door to join the more turbid Piru a hundred yards beyond. 
All about were the rounded mountain tops. The place was 
alive with birds. One pair of Linnets had a nest in the 
house and another had built on a canteen hanging beneath 




Piru Canon 
The site of the Condor's nest is above the horseman 

the porch At daybreak one morning, a coyote was seen 
gathering scraps at our door step, but I watched in vain for 
a repetition of the visit. 

The site of the Condor's nest was distant five miles up 
the Piru. We reached it on horseback the next morning, 
following the stream all the way ; now on narrow paths worn 
in the steep banks, now over and around great boulders, 
now in the bed of the creek itself, where we had several con- 
fidence shaking experiences with quicksand. 

Gold was first found in California on the Piru, and the 
creek has had its share of the romance and tragedy of min- 


ing ; such events as came within Whittaker 's experience he 
recounted to us, as an abandoned claim, deserted cabin, or 
thicket-grown grave stirred his memory. 

The Condor's home was in a narrow canon with walls 
some 200 feet in height, of conglomerate rock, polished by 
the rush of waters at the base of the canon, like mosaic. The 
birds had lived they build no nest - in a cave some 50 
feet from the top of the canon and 150 feet from the bottom. 
This they had occupied for a number of years and probably 
would have been nesting there now if the inevitable ' ' man 
with a rifle ' ' had not tested his gun on one of the pair. 
Doubtless he considered the shot successful and the bird 
was left where it fell ; to be carried away later by high 
water. While I was climbing up the more sloping wall of 
the canon to photograph the cave-entrance, a pair of Con- 
dors, the first I had ever seen in nature, swept majestically 
overhead, near enough to impress me not only with their 
great size, but with their personality. We hoped that they 
might prove to be in possession of the old nest-site, but they 
soon passed out of view over an adjoining mountain and 
were seen no more. 

The following day, Mr. Hittell returned to the canon to 
complete his sketch, braving the quicksands of the Piru 
unaccompanied, while Mrs. Chapman and I, under the 
leadership of Whittaker, went up the Agua Blanca to see 
the site of a second Condor's nest. This proved to be a 
small cave, about 100 feet from the top of a vertical cliff 
some 500 feet in height. The surroundings being far less 
susceptible of treatment in group form than the Piru canon 
site, no attempt was made to examine this nest, and we con- 
tinued our journey to the ranch in the Devil's Potrero. 

The country was wilder than that visited the preceding 
day, the trail rougher, and on reaching an exceptionally pic- 
turesque canon, known as the Devil 's Gate, we dismounted 
to clamber over the rocks, while Whittaker led the horses a 
mile or more around through the woods. 


I was interested to find here hundreds of chattering 
White-throated Swifts. Many were nesting in holes in the 
walls of the canon, some near the top, at a height of 150 
feet, others almost within reach. 


HKlte? : - 

Leaving the Potrero 

Once through the Devil's Gate which leads to a far 
more beautiful country than its name would imply we left 
the sparkling Agua Blanca to follow Potrero Creek through 
a narrow gorge densely grown with live-oaks and luxuriant 
ferns, up a trail so steep that the horses often paused to 
breathe, and in half an hour we reached the Potrero itself, 
a wooded valley enclosed by mountains on every side but 
the one through which we had entered. 

Here the great live-oaks sheltered another cabin, all fur- 
nished and ready for occupation, when once we dispos- 


sessed the mice, spiders and sundry other tenants. Potrero 
Creek sprang from a bubbling spring in the valley and 
formed a small pond before the cabin in which, like Barn 
Swallows, the White-throated Swifts bathed ; at dusk the 
Poor-wills called from its shores, and at night an Owl 
hooted from the oaks overhead. Its voice resembled that of 
the Barred Owl but was higher and, in place of two long 
notes followed by two short ones, the first and fourth notes 
were long, the second and third short. I supposed it to be 
the Spotted Owl, (Strix occidentalis),ihe only one I have 
ever heard. 

Arkansas Kingbirds, Ash-throated Flycatchers, West- 
ern Wood Pewees, Western Flycatchers, (young leaving the 
nest), Arizona Hooded Orioles, House Finches or Linnets, 
Arkansas Goldfinches, Heermann's Song Sparrows, Black- 
headed Grosbeaks, Spurred and Anthony's Towhees, Lazuli 
Buntings, Western Tanagers, Hutton's, Swainson's and 
Cassin's Vireos, Phainopeplas, Yellow, and Black-throated 
Gray Warblers, (feeding young), Vigor's and Parkman's 
Wrens, Western Gnatcatchers and Western Bluebirds were 
the common birds of the valley, and in the canons Dotted 
Canon Wrens were numerous and Eock Wrens not 

Our stay in the Potrero was made memorable not only 
by the seclusion of our camp and charm of its surroundings, 
with its abounding bird-life, but by the daily sight of the 
great Condors in which I was especially interested. On the 
afternoon of our arrival, no less than seven of the splendid 
birds were in view at one time, sailing high above the moun- 
tains. They were readily identified by their white under 
wing-coverts ; but when they were too far away, or too low 
for this conspicuous character to be discerned I could not 
distinguish them, with certainty, from Turkey Vultures 
unless they chanced to be associated with that species, when 
they could at once be known by their larger size. When the 
two were seen flying together, the Condor appeared to be 



more stately in its movements. It did not veer so often, or 
trim its sails to the wind as the Vulture does ; but, carrying 
more ballast, was steadier in the air. The Condor's tail is 
evidently shorter than the Vulture's, but in other respects 
the birds looked much alike. When perched in the same 
tree the Condor seemed to be fully three times larger than 
its less distinguished relative. 

Turkey Vultures and Burro 

A burro of Whittaker 's, which chanced to die at this 
time, was exposed on a hill-top overlooking the valley, with 
a hope that it might attract the Condors. For three 
mornings I watched it from a very carefully concealed 
blind, but although the Condors evidently saw the feast, 
they were too wary to partake of it. I awaited some evi- 
dence of their interest in the bait before going to the blind, 
which was already in position ; but the burro had been dead 
nearly forty-eight hours before the Condors were attracted 
to it. After a prolonged reconnoisance, during which it 


sailed low over the cabin many times, giving us an excellent 
opportunity to admire its sweep of wing, a Condor finally 
perched in a dead tree near the carcass. Assured that I had 
now only to hide in the blind to secure short-range studies 
of it, I climbed to the hill-top ; but on my appearance the 
bird at once took flight and with at least two others, which 
were circling overhead, disappeared. This was at 9 :30 A. 
M. and although I waited for six hours, it did not return. 

The two following days, I entered the blind before day- 
break, but the place seemed to possess no further attraction 
for the Condors. That the birds are not always so shy, 
however, has been emphatically shown by Mr. W. L. Fin- 
ley's studies of a pair which at this same season were 
nesting near Pasadena, some fifty miles away. (The Cen- 
tury, Vol. LXVV, 1908, p. 370; The Condor, Vols. VIII, X.) 

The Turkey Vultures about the Potrero were less suspi- 
cious than the Condors ; but to one accustomed to their semi- 
domesticated condition in many of the towns of our south- 
ern states, it was not a little surprising to find that here, 
where they did not look to man for their food, they enter- 
tained a marked fear of him. 

The day after the burro 's death, about twenty Turkey 
Vultures gathered in the dead tree near the animal's body 
and occasionally flew over it, but without once alighting. 
The following day, when the Condors appeared, six or eight 
Vultures were perched on the burro, but, with the Condor, 
they flew at my approach, and not a Vulture returned that 
day. Even when I had concealed myself in the blind before 
they were a- wing, they showed extreme caution in coming to 
the carcass. The first rays of the sun touched the brown, 
oak-dotted hillside at 4 :50, and ten minutes later the earli- 
est Vulture was seen ; but although the repast must have 
been tempting, an hour and a half passed before they ven- 
tured to come to it. During this period, they sailed to and 
fro, cautiously inspecting the surroundings, or perched in 
the dead tree near by. Nothing about the blind could pos- 



sibly have alarmed them, and their actions were evidently 
due to pure wariness. 

One morning, just as the sun flooded the distant hills 
with mellow light, a pair of pointed ears were seen erected 
over the burro 's gray hide and, a moment later, a coyote's 
head appeared from below the hillcrest. Coming up the 
wind, his nose led him to a tempting breakfast ; but mingled 
with the appetizing odors was one to be feared. He licked 
his lips wistfully ; then discretion got the better of hunger, 
and turning, he disappeared down the hill. 


A variety of causes has made Monterey famous among 
students of Pacific Coast bird-life. Monterey Bay, a broad 
arm of the sea, is at certain seasons frequented by many 
kinds of water birds, including such pelagic species as the 
Short-tailed Albatross, Fulmars, and Shearwaters. Pond- 
dotted marshes with inflowing streams, meadows, deciduous 
woodlands, suggestive of a more eastern landscape, and a 
forest of Monterey pines, also help to induce the presence of 
a large and varied avifauna. 

The pine forest is a distinctive feature of the land im- 
mediately bordering the sea; in places, great dunes of 
gleaming white sand being blown into the edge of the woods. 

The success of this coniferous growth is due to the low 
average summer temperature, occasioned by the prevalence 
of fogs at that season. To the same cause may be attri- 
buted the nesting here of many species which one would not 
expect to find breeding at sea-level in this latitude. Among 
them are forms of Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri car- 
bonacea) ; White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys 
gambeli) ; Thurber's or Sierra Junco, (Junco hy emails 
pinosus) ;. Chestnut-backed Chickadee, (Penthestes rufes- 
cens barlowi) ; a west coast representative of the Hud- 
sonian Chickadee; Winter Wren, (Troglodytes hiemalis 
pacificus) ; Olive-backed Thrush, (Hylocichla ustulata) and 
Hermit Thrush, (Hylocichla guttata sleveni.) 

At Pacific Grove, a mile beyond Monterey station, one 
may hire a tent-house virtually in the pine forest, a large 
tract of which is preserved by a local land company. The 
student of birds with a field glass and camera, will therefore 
find awaiting him an attractively situated camp and excep- 
tionally favorable conditions under which to pursue his 



Although the fauna was quite new to us, Louis Fuertes 
and I saw some forty species of land birds in and about 
these woods on May 27 and 28, 1903. All were apparently 
summer resident birds except a flock of ten Cedar Wax- 
wings, seen on the 28th, and a single Clarke 's Crow, satis- 
factorily identified at short range on the 27th. 

Among the water birds, Heermann's, Bonaparte's, and 
Western Gulls, and Brandt's Cormorants were the most 

" All the quiet bodies of water contained Phalaropes " 

abundant about the rocky shores of Monterey Bay. On the 
coast, we found a few Snowy Plovers and Wandering Tatt- 
lers, and on May 29, a pair of Harlequin Ducks was seen by 
Fuertes at Point Lobos. 

We were especially interested in the Northern, and Eed 
Phalaropes which chanced to be abnormally abundant at 
this time. When we reached Pacific Grove, on May 20, a 
record-breaking northwest wind had been blowing for more 
than two weeks. It evidently had rendered navigation 
impossible for the Phalaropes, and these seafarers among 


the Snipe, while voyaging to their Arctic summer homes, 
had encountered the gale and been stranded in vast numbers. 
A week later, we found many wrecks of this feathered fleet 
ashore on the Farallones, where their poor, emaciated little 
bodies were floating in the rock-enclosed pools left by the 

I had previously seen this bird only on the Atlantic, rest- 
ing in great beds on the waters or rising in silvery, curling 

Northern Phalarope Whirling 

waves before the approach of our steamer. While I regret- 
ted the disaster which had befallen the half-starved little 
waifs, I realized that their ill luck was my good fortune, and 
lost no time in availing myself of this unusual opportunity 
to make the acquaintance of a bird which but few natura- 
lists have met intimately. 

All the vjuiet bodies of water contained Phalaropes, a 
large pond in tL ) city of Monterey being fairly speckled 



with them. As, with several members of our American 
Ornithologists' Union party, I approached its margin, I 
was not a little astonished to observe that apparently one- 
half of the Phalaropes in it were spinning about in the most 
remarkable manner. They might have been automatic 

Northern Phalarope Swimming 
Note the feeding-place, just abandoned, at the left 

The sight of this singular action aroused vague mem- 
ories of a description of it as a courtship ceremonial. It 
will be remembered that marital relations among the Phala- 
ropes are somewhat unusual. Not only is the female larger 
and more brightly colored than the male, but she is the male 
in all but the prime essentials of sex. She woos, selects the 
nesting site, and, while of necessity she lays the eggs, the 
male, unaided, hatches them and rears the resulting family. 

These facts suggest that a careful study of the mating 
habits of Phalaropes will throw much needed light on the 
problem of sexual selection, and, exulting at the possibilities 
of the situation, I concealed myself in an overhanging limb 
which swept the water. The nearest birds were now within 
ten feet. The larger size and brighter plumage of the 
females was strikingly noticeable and no difficulty would 
therefore be experienced in determining the part in the per- 
formance taken by both sexes. 

At once the alleged forwardness of the female was dis- 



counted by seeing quite as many males as females pirouet- 
ting ; while the sight of single birds, of either sex, whirling 
around quite alone, cast doubt on the sexual significance of 
the evolution. 

Brandt's Cormorants Gathering Grass 

In short, it required only a few moments ' watching to 
learn that the revolving birds were feeding. The lobed feet 
were moved alternately in such a manner that the birds 
spun around in the same spot, making a complete revolution 
in about two seconds and from three or four to as many as 
forty turns without stopping. A rotary movement of the 
shallow water was thus created, bringing to the surface 
small forms of aquatic life which the Phalaropes eagerly 
devoured, their slender bills darting rapidly two or three 
times during each revolution. It was an interesting and, in 
my experience, a novel method of securing food. 



Off the coast near Monterey, are a number of rocky 
islets, some of which are inhabited by Brandt's Cormorants. 
An island of this character not far off shore above Cypress 
Point, is one of the features of the "Seventeen Mile Drive". 
There are similar islands at Point Lobos, about six miles 
further south. We attempted to land on them on May 29, 
but were prevented by the surf. 

Cormorant Rocks near Point Lobos 

The Cormorants were now gathering grass for their 
nests, from an island almost within a stone 's throw of the 
mainland. They appeared, as a rule, from the south, 
alighted at the edge of the island, a cliff some thirty feet in 
height, waddled awkwardly to the undipped grass, pulled a 
bill-full, waddled back to the cliff-border, threw themselves 
into the air on outstretched wings and, flying toward the 
north, returned to their nesting rock which was immediately 
back of the one on which they were "haying". 



Throughout the day, feathered mowers were rarely 
absent from the field, sometimes as many as nine birds being 
present. The denuded area from which the grass had been 
removed, was as bare and as sharply-defined from that por- 
tion of the crop which the Cormorants had not yet gathered, 
as though it had been mowed and raked by a human harves- 

On June 9, a second attempt was made to land on the 
Cormorant rock here but, like the first, it failed. The birds 
now had eggs. 

Brandt's Cormorant 


Bird inhabited rocks are characteristic of the California 
coast. Tourists will recall one off the Cliff House at San 
Francisco, as well as the one at Cypress Point, near Mon- 
terey. But California 's famous bird islands are the Faral- 
lones, which are not only the largest in the state, but in the 

To the visiting ornithologist, this avian metropolis is the 
strongest attraction of our Pacific Coast. Distant only 
thirty miles from San Francisco, it may be reached by tug 
in three or four hours of as uncomfortable sailing as one is 
likely to encounter in a life time at sea. 

Excellent lodging is to be obtained with the keeper of 
the Farallone Light, or his assistants, who give even the 
unexpected visitor that unmistakably cordial, eager wel- 
come one generally receives where guests are infrequent. 

The Farallones have an extended history. Discovered by 
Ferelo in 1543, they were first described by Sir Francis 
Drake in 1579, and, not to mention a number of less import- 
ant articles, have been the basis of papers by Emerson 
(1888; 1903), Barlow (1898), Loomis (1896), and Bay 
(1904). But these descriptions, as well as verbal accounts, 
and pictures had poorly prepared me to realize the beauty 
of the islands and the marvel of their bird-life. 

One is first impressed with the size of the islands ; in 
place of a mere rock inhabited by birds, because it is not 
habitable by man, one finds an island nearly a mile long 
with an area of about 100 acres. A coast line of extreme 
irregularity, set with great masses of detached rock or bor- 
dering islets, and an unusually diversified surface, not only 
adds to the charm and interest of the island but materially 
increase its apparent dimensions. 

Hills mountains, almost they seem caves, amphi- 



theatres, plains, ridges, crests, arches, domes and pinnacles 
give a constantly varying character to one's surroundings. 
If the Farallones were birdless, they would still compel the 
enthusiastic admiration of every lover of the ruggedly pic- 
turesque and elemental. 

The surf completes the grandeur of the scene. Even on 

The Landing-place 

calm days, the ocean hurls itself with terrific force against 
the unprotected rock. How it surges into the caverns, bel- 
lowing from their darkened depths ! How the waves charge 
through the arches to meet a fellow from the other side and 
bound into the air as though a mine had exploded beneath 
them ! How they shoot up, geyser-like, from crevices in the 
rock, open below to the sea ! 

There is a singular, human character to the Farallone 
surf ; and when from the green wall of in-rushing water, 



large, expressive eyes set in a great head, look one square- 
ly in the face, it is easier to believe the creature the embodi- 
ment of the sea than a sea-lion from the rookery on a neigh- 
boring islet. 

Telephoto of Murres on a Near-by Islet 

Ten species of sea birds and a single species of land bird 
nest upon the Farallones, but the number of individuals by 
which they are represented, no one has ventured to esti- 

The California Murre, is the most numerous inhabitant 
of this marine aviary and about this bird centers the history 
of the Farallones as egg-yielding islands. 

Among San Francisco bakers, Murres' eggs are con- 
sidered an acceptable substitute for the product of the poul- 
try yard, and as early as 1849, they were sold in San Fran- 
cisco markets. At this period of insufficient food-supply, 
they brought one dollar per dozen. In 1854, it is stated by 



Dr. W. 0. Ayres, more than five hundred thousand eggs 
were collected in the Farallones in less than two months ; 
but in 1896, according to L. M. Loomis, the number had 
dropped to ninety-odd thousand and the price to twelve and 
a half cents per dozen. 

" Thousands lived in the wave-washed caverns " 

Under the more systematic method of collecting, em- 
ployed at the later date, the comparatively small number of 
eggs then secured doubtless only in part indicates the 
decrease in Farallone bird-life which had occurred in forty 
years. To prevent further decimation of this bird colony, 
the United States Government, at the solicitation of the 


American Ornithologists ' Union, has fortunately forbidden 
egg-collecting on the Farallones. 

When undisturbed, Murres perch on the rocks with their 
dark backs toward the sea, a fact well illustrated by the 
telephoto of a Murre-covered pinnacle, made at so great a 
distance that the birds were not alarmed. One does not 
realize at first, therefore, the astounding abundance of these 

They were especially numerous on the less accessible 
cliffs and pinnacles, and on the islets off-shore they were 
often so thickly massed that a new comer could with difficul- 
ty find a foothold. Thousands lived in the wave-washed 
caverns where, when alarmed, their white breasts gleamed 
like lights in the gloom ; a queer little cave people, bobbing 
and bowing and muttering in a tongue of their own. 

When one appeared at the entrance of their subterra- 
nean home, there was a rush for the outer world. Some 
birds flew past one, through the air, and the wise man gave 
them free passage ; others flew below one, under the water, 
where the action of their wings could be plainly seen. 

Wards of the Government, the Farallone Murres might 
be envied among birds, were it not for the presence in their 
nesting resort of the Western Gull, a species closely allied 
to our common Herring, or Harbor Gull. 

Never have I seen more relentless, brazen, destructive 
enemies of bird-life than these immaculate, snowy-breasted, 
pearl-backed birds. Second in number only to the Murres, 
they were especially abundant at the western end of the 
island, where, when walking, a great band of cackling Gulls 
always hung over one, waiting to dart down on the eggs of 
Murres or Cormorants, from which the owners flew as we 
approached. The nests of a large colony of Brandt's Cor- 
morants were quickly emptied of their contents in this man- 
ner, the apparently famished Gulls dashing into nests 
almost at one's feet. The greenish eggs of Murres are not 
so conspicuous as the white Cormorant eggs and, being laid 


in less exposed situations, are not always discovered by the 
keen-eyed robbers. Many, however, are taken and a light- 
plumaged Gull with a large, brightly-colored Murre 's egg in 
his bill, dodging hither and thither in the attempt to escape 
a crowd of envious comrades, forms a stirring picture of 
bird-life. One might observe it with more satisfaction, 
however, if the pursuers were of the same species as the egg. 
The victimized Murre, doubtless, takes small interest in 
the results of the chase. A stolen egg is irreparably lost ; 
prevention is the only cure; consequently when not dis- 

- I 

" A great band of cackling Gulls always hung over one " 

turbed by man, Murres are close sitters, one or the other of 
the pair always covering the egg. 

Without man to play the spaniel, the Gulls are forced to 
get their booty by patient watching for the moment when 
an egg may be left unguarded or, in some instances, even by 



force, when they actually attempt to take the egg from be- 
neath the body of the sitting bird. 

All about the island, one may see these daintily-clad 
creatures, wearing pinions fit for an angel 's wings, perched 
near some incubating Murre, ready to take advantage of 
half a chance to snatch the egg which, for widely different 
reasons, they both value so highly. 


Western Gull on Nest 

Whether the Gulls were always near starvation or 
whether Murres' eggs are an especially delectable dainty, 
one cannot say ; but, in view of the Gulls' insatiable appetite 
for fare of this kind, it was surprising to observe that they 
did not prey upon their own kind. I recall no better instance 
in bird-life of ' ' honor among thieves. ' ' 

During the days of "egging" on the Farallones, the men 
engaged in this questionable industry recognized the Gulls 



as their only rivals, and destroyed their eggs and young. 
But the prevailing conditions afford protection for the 
Murres and Murres' enemies alike. Evidently even among 
birds, a solicitous Government cannot extend protection 
only to those who need it. Law for the Murre is law for the 
Gull; and the Farallone Gulls' Trust now enjoys a monop- 
oly of Farallone egg products, which those concerned in the 
passage of the law never intended it should have. 

Telephoto of Brandt's Cormorants 

Notwithstanding the fact that it is most frequently rob- 
bed by the Gulls, Brandt's Cormorant is by far the most 
abundant of the three species of Cormorants which breed 
upon the Farallones. Building in exposed situations, it left 
its nest when I was so far away that satisfactory pictures 
of it could be secured only with a telephoto, and the Gulls 
were given abundant opportunity to make a clean sweep of 
the unguarded eggs. Both Baird 's and the Farallone Cor- 



morant nested among the rocks ; and both had young. The 
former were usually on the face of cliffs, and being much 
less shy than Brandt's they were comparatively secure from 
the ever-watchful, marauding Gulls. 

Nor can one explain why the Guillemots and Puffins, 
which lay their eggs in burrows or crevices in the rocks, 
quite beyond the Gulls' reach, should be so much less 


abundant than the Murres. The Guillemot, furthermore, 
lays two eggs to the Murres ' one. To be less abundant than 
Murres, however, is far from approaching rarity. In fact 
never have I seen Guillemots so numerous as they were on 
the Farallones. Groups of from ten to twenty of these 
plump, so-called * ' Sea Pigeons ' ' gathered in sunny places 
on the rocks, where, some reclining, some standing, they 
permitted a near enough approach to enable one to see defi- 


nitely their greenish-black plumage, with its snowy-white 
wing patches, and their coral-red feet ; so often do they open 
their mouths to emit a high, squealing whistle, that its coral- 
red lining constitutes a by no means unimportant part of 
their make-up. 

But it is to the Tufted Puffin that the prize for originality 
in costume must be awarded among Farallone birds. Par- 
rot-like in appearance, he adds to the attractiveness of red 
feet, a surprisingly large, bright red and yellow bill, and 
from the side of each white cheek springs a streaming 
plume of straw-colored feathers. 

Tufted Puffins 

The Puffin lives in burrows or holes under the rocks 
where, if one would learn the strength of its singularly 
shaped bill, one need only to inseri, one's hand ! 

Murres, Gulls, Cormorants, Guillemots, and Puffins, 
form the diurnal sea-bird life of the Farallones. But 
abundant as they are, one has only to go out of doors after 
dark to believe that birds are as numerous by night as they 
are by day. Then, Cassin's Auklet, Leach's and the Ashy 
Petrel come from their retreats in holes, cracks, and 
crevices in the rocks and similar places. The air is filled 
with their weird and elfin cries. The first night on the 
island, I was awakened by a startling scream, "Come here; 
come here", apparently at my bedside ; but it proved to be 



Cassin's Auklet in Crevice 
in the Rocks 

a Cassin's Auklet, beginning 
his evening hymn in his home 
under the floor of my room. 
The second night he seemed to 
change his tune to a piercing 
"Let me go; let me go." It 
required no small amount of 
self-persuasion to believe that 
this unearthly sound was a 
bird's voice and consequently 
interesting if not altogether 

No such effort was needed to 
welcome the notes of the Eock 
Wren, the one resident land 
bird of the Farallones. Against 
a background of the Murres' 
harsh squawks and guttural 
groans, of Gulls' screams and 
cackles, of Guillemots' shrill 
whistles, its mockingbird-like 
song stood out with peculiar 
charm and sweetness, as the 
unconscious little musician 
hopped calmly from rock to 
rock among its strange com- 
panions, apparently as much 
at home as though it were in 
the quiet seclusion of a Sierra 

I have spoken of the Wren 
as the only land bird of the 
Farallones. At present, I un- 
derstand this to be true; but 
at the time of my visit, a pair 
of Ravens lived about Arch 


Rock where the never-failing supply of Murres ' eggs must 
have induced the belief that they had indeed reached the 
Seventh Heaven of ravendom. 

Like the Ravens, other birds, particularly such as mi- 
grate by sea, sometimes touch at the Farallones. I saw 
several Black Turnstones and again encountered wrecks of 
the Phalarope fleet so many members of which had gone 
ashore at Monterey. 

Although so much has been written about Farallone 
bird-life, I am convinced that an unexpectedly rich reward 
awaits the student, who, going to the islands in May, when 
the birds come, and remaining until they depart, in August 
or September, will devote himself to a study of their life 
histories and relationships. The three days of my visit 
(June 3-6, 1903), were barely sufficient to give that vitaliz- 
ing touch of personal experience, which renders so much 
more intelligible anything we may have heard concerning a 
locality and stimulates our interest in its subsequent his- 
tory. Moreover, at this time, the birds were less tame than 
they become later in the season and could not be readily 
observed and photographed. 

Rock Wren 


On the afternoon of May 22, 1903, when, with Louis 
Fuertes and H. Ward, as guide, I left Oakland for Los 
Banes, great billowy cataracts of fog were pouring over the 
hills about Tamalpais ; but within an hour we found a dif- 
ferent climate. In place of the damp, raw air of the coast, 
the atmosphere was clear and dry. Instead of the densely 
wooded mountains north of the Golden Gate we were short- 
ly passing over level plains, through seemingly endless 
fields of wheat. Such sudden and marked changes are 
frequent in California. 

At ten o 'clock that night we reached the village of Los 
Banos, The surrounding country is comparatively arid 
and large tracts have been irrigated to grow alfalfa and, 
particularly, to create grazing for the cattle of the Miller 
and Lux Company. 

In irrigating for grazing, the waters of the San Joaquin 
river are used literally to flood vast areas, and the desert is 
soon transformed into a series of creeks, ponds and 
marshes. The desert plants are replaced by Sagittaria and 
Ranunculus, tules (Scirpus) and cat-tails, (Typha), and the 
desert birds by a remarkable assemblage of water birds 
whose local distribution is governed by the presence or 
absence of water. On reaching Los Banos, our inquiry, 
therefore, was not for birds but for water, and we directed 
our steps, or to be exact, those of our horses, toward that 
portion of the ranch which we learned was then being irri- 

Driving over a levee, which extended as far as the eye 
could see, we observed that the old and the new bird life was 
separated only by the width of the dike. On the left was a 
parched and sterile plain, with Horned Larks and Burrow- 
ing Owls ; the home also, of jack rabbits, coyotes, and rattle- 



snakes ; on the right were fertility and water, with Ducks, 
Herons, Ibis, Terns, Coots, Stilts, Avocets, and other aqua- 
tic species in countless numbers. 

To the east, the view stretched across the desert toward 
the distant Sierras where, on clear days, could be seen 
the snow-fields which, eighty miles away, supplied the water 
at our feet. To the west, one looked over green marshes 
and shining ponds, dotted 
with cattle and fairly twink- 
ling with flitting wings, to 
yellow fields leading up 
through moulded brown 
foot-hills to the blue crests 
of the Coast Eange. 

The place combined in an 
unusual way, the attractions 
of both a desert and a marsh, 
without the drawbacks of 
either. There were no mos- 
quitoes or other noxious in- 
sects, no dust or thirst-creat- 
ing aridity and, in spite of a 
comparatively high temper- 
ature, the air was dry and 
invigorating. The conditions 
were so favorable for mir- 
age, that, after several sur- 
prising experiences, we lost 
confidence in every feature Burrowing owl 

of the landscape which was 

beyond reach. Passing trains, at a distance of a few hun 
dred yards, appeared to be fused, shimmering bodies, travel- 
ling through the air, while the most beautiful ponds and 
patches of tules and cat-tails faded at our approach. 

However, our immediate surroundings were always so 
interesting that we were not inconvenienced by these illus- 


ions. Except upon bird islands, I have never seen birds 
more abundant than they were in this desert-marsh. The 
group, a photograph of which is reproduced herewith, was 
based on our studies, and is by no means over-done. It is 
true that one would not find all the birds it contains, in a 
space twenty by eight feet, but one could frequently see 
them all in a single glance, and the impression of the group 
seeks to convey is therefore within the truth. 

Among the species seen daily, most of them in large 
numbers, were the Cinnamon Teal, Mallard, Pintail, Bed- 
head, Fulvous Tree Duck, Great Blue Heron, Night Heron, 
American Bittern, Forster's and the Black Tern, Coot, 
White-faced Glossy Ibis, Killdeer, Avocet and Black-necked 
Stilt. Twelve Wilson's Phalaropes, a species which had 
previously been recorded from west of the Sierras but once, 
were also added to our list. 

Of all these birds, the Stilts, because of their abundance, 
vociferousness, and remarkable actions were the most con- 
spicuous and interesting. They nested on the little islands 
formed by slightly elevated bits of ground, often selecting 
a site which, under irrigation, subsequently became sub- 
merged a misfortune artificial conditions had not pre- 
pared the birds to anticipate. 

On May 23, their eggs were hatching, and in June the 
snipe-like young were widely distributed over the marsh. 
They invariably attempted to escape observation by squat- 
ting with neck outstretched, but the parents, whether one 
approached their eggs or young, expressed their solicitude 
by a surprising extravagance of motion, all apparently 
designed to draw attention to themselves. I was at times 
surrounded by hopping, fluttering Stilts, all calling loudly, 
waving their wings, bounding into the air to hang there with 
dangling legs and beating pinions, and executing other feats 
which would have done credit to acrobatic marionettes. 

The Avocets were scarcely less demonstrative, but their 
method of defending their eggs or young was less by the 



strategy of actions to make themselves the centre of attrac- 
tion, than by the most reckless attempts to drive the intruder 
from the field. Eapidly uttering their loud plee-eek, they 
charged one with a directness and apparent determination 
which threatened to drive their needle-pointed bill into the 
base, swerving to right or left when only a few feet away, 
and repeating the performance almost immediately. They 

Stilt on Nest 

claimed dominion over so wide a territory and appeared so 
anxious to guard it all equally, that it was difficult to locate 
their nest from their actions. We found neither eggs nor 
young on our first visit, but several nearly grown young 
were taken between June 16 and 20. 

Black Terns were as abundant over this submerged 
desert as Swallows are over some of our eastern marshes in 
August. There was not a moment when their sharp peek 
could not be heard. They nested on their usual little island- 
rafts, and the young of the year were just beginning to fly 
on June 16. 



Forster's Terns were far less common than their 
smaller, darker relatives ; not more than eight or ten were 
seen in a single day. 

Of the Ducks, the handsome Cinnamon Teal was the 
most numerous. It nested in the alfalfa fields near water, 
where nests with eggs were found May 23, and also on little 
grass-grown hummocks in the water, where a nest with eggs 

Newly Hatched Stilts 

hatching was found June 19. The agility of these freshly 
hatched ducklings was remarkable. Almost on emerging 
from the egg they took to the water, swimming and diving 
freely. The drake was always within a few feet of the duck, 
when she was off the nest, and invariably sprang into the 
air a foot or two behind her when she took wing. We made 
this habit a subject of special observation without ever see- 
ing the male bird fly first. 

The Mallard was found with newly hatched young on 
June 17, and during this week the Pintail, Bedhead, and 
Fulvous Tree Duck were also found nesting. The Fulvous 
Tree Duck, whose unique range includes tropical America, 



Africa and India, and bespeaks for it extreme antiquity, 
was seen daily. These birds combine in a singular way the 
characteristics of both a Duck and a Goose. When on the 
ground, their erect pose is particularly goose-like. Their 
note, however, suggests that of neither Goose nor Duck, but 
is a long-drawn, squealing whistle. 

Coots (Fulica) were abundant wherever there was 
enough water to float them, and as usual, their strongly 
marked emphatic notes were most conspicuous among the 
bird voices. In default of the dense growth in which they 
commonly build, their nests were often placed in such expos- 
ed situations that the sitting bird could be seen at a distance 
of several hundred feet. The barbed wire fences which divid- 
ed certain of the flooded pastures, introduced a new element 
of danger into the lives of these low-flying birds, and several 
individuals were found hung on the barbs. 

The White-faced Glossy Ibises were of special interest 
to us, but they were exceedingly shy and the absence of 
cover made it difficult for us to get near enough to hear their 
nasal ooh-ick-ooh-ick as they took wing. On several 
occasions, however, we were privileged to see flocks of from 
ten to forty of these usually dignified birds perform a sur- 
prising evolution. In close formation, they soared skyward 
in a broad spiral, mounting higher and higher until, in this 
leisurely and graceful manner, they had reached an eleva- 
tion of at least 500 feet. Then, without a moment's pause 
and with thrilling speed, they dived earthward. Some times 
they went together as one bird, at others each bird steered 
its own course, when the air seemed full of plunging, dart- 
ing, crazy Ibises. When about fifty feet from the ground, 
their reckless dash was checked and, on bowed wings, they 
turned abruptly and shot upward. Shortly after, like the 
rush of a gust of wind, we heard the humming sound caused 
by the swift passage through the air of their stiffened 

On our first visit to Los Banos, we were in the field only 


two days, May 23 and 24th. When we returned on June 15, 
to remain until the 20th, we were much disappointed to find 
that places where birds had been most abundant in May, 
were now virtually deserted. 

The birds had not finished nesting, but the withdrawal of 
the water had deprived them of its protection. Their nest- 
ing sites were no longer islets and had possibly been raided 
by coyotes. The' spot, although green with the vegetation 
due to irrigation, was slowly being reclaimed by the desert, 
and the birds had sought new and more favorable resorts in 
those portions of the marsh then being irrigated. 

Evidently the abnormal and sudden rise of the water, as 
well as the equally unusual fall, prevents many birds from 
rearing young. I found numbers of flooded nests in May, 
which had been built when the water was still rising, while 
its disappearance must have been even more disastrous. 

Great Blue Heron in Irrigation Ditch 
These birds were unusually tame within the Los 
Banos town limits, and could be photographed by 
the roadside from a carriage in passing. 


I went to lower Klamath Lake (June 30- July 7, 1906) 
primarily to secure material for a group of White Pelicans, 
which the researches of Messrs. Finley and Bohlman for 
the National Association of Audubon Societies (^Bird- 
Lore", VII, 1905, p. 336) had shown to nest there abund- 

This lake, which is twelve miles long by about half as 
wide, is situated in the arid, northeastern part of Califor- 
nia, on the Oregon boundary line. Doubtless it may now be 
reached by the railroad which was expected to arrive the 
year after our visit, when the charm of its isolation will 
have been destroyed. But, as related in the chapter devoted 
to the White Pelican, the lake itself is doomed and the rail- 
road will be a fit accompaniment to the farms which will re- 
place the tules. 

Our way lay up the Sacramento Valley, where twenty- 
four-horse reapers were harvesting the rye ; through the 
strikingly picturesque Sacramento Canon ; past Mt. Shasta, 
whose isolation gives it an individuality shared only with 
the smaller cone at its side. Shasta reigns; its surround- 
ings exist merely the better to display the grandeur of its 
own proportions. Of all the mountains I have seen, Orizaba 
alone excels Shasta in its power to exact homage. 

At Ager we left the railway and drove twenty miles to 
Beswick, arriving at midnight. There is considerable deci- 
duous growth here along the shores of the Klamath Eiver 
and Shovel Creek, and birds were abundant. 

From Beswick, which consists merely of a hotel to 
accomodate visitors to the Klamath Hot Springs, we drove 
twenty-five miles to Keno. The road follows the rushing 
Klamath Eiver through a region of much beauty, and when, 
by a gradual ascent, we had reached an elevation of about 


500 feet above the river, we found the view to the south note- 
worthy, even in California. At this point we entered a 
primeval forest of thickly growing firs, yellow and sugar 
pines and a few cedars, and having attained an altitude of 
about 4300, or 2000 feet above Beswick, we began the 
descent toward Keno. 

The forest trees decreased in size and number as we 
journeyed toward the more arid east, and several miles east 
of Keno a few scattered jumpers marked the limit of this 
horizontal timberline. 

We arrived at Keno at three o 'clock and embarked on a 
small steamer which, following a narrow stream through 
the far-reaching tule marshes, made the twenty-two miles to 
Klamath Falls in two hours. 

This prettily situated town of several thousand inhabi- 
tants was in the throes of a boom in anticipation of the 
developments incident to the work of the Reclamation Ser- 
vice in draining and irrigating. Good lodging was secured 
with difficulty, and then through hospitable, rather than 
commercial motives. 

Our search for a boat in which to visit the bird islands, 
distant some thirty miles, very fortunately resulted in the 
discovery of a recently completed 18-foot launch with a 
gasolene engine capable of driving it eight miles an hour. 

At 2 P. M. on June 30, the day after our arrival, Hittell 
and I, with Bay Telf ord, the owner, as engineer, embarked in 
this launch for Lower Klamath Lake. While one would not 
select this type of craft from which to observe birds, it 
possesses conspicuous advantages over a canoe or rowboat 
as a means of rapid and easy transportation. 

We retraced a part of our course to Keno, then leaving 
the main stream, turned into a narrow passage between 
walls of tules, through which we slipped at high speed. 
Black-crowned Night Herons were stationed along the 
shore at short intervals waiting, as usual, for their prey to 
come within striking distance, but on one occasion, jumping 


into the water and resting there for a second before taking 
wing. There were also a few Western Grebes, a Bufflehead 
Duck, in full adult male plumage, but which, nevertheless, 
had lost its flight feathers, and a family of Wild Geese, 
(Branta canadensis subsp.), with fully grown young. Later 
I saw an adult of this species which, like the Bufflehead, had 
molted its wing-quills, and could only flap over the water. 

The bird had 

Wild Goose 
lolted its wing feathers and could not fly 

Late in the afternoon, we suddenly emerged from the 
tules into the lake. We now looked out over a broad expanse 
of water, but everywhere the view was bounded by tules ; in 
no place was the land visible at the water's edge. 

Doubtless it is due to this apparent shorelessness, to the 
luminous atmosphere of a desert lake, to the strange cloud 
forms, and to the peculiar configuration of its treeless vol- 
canic hills, that Klamath Lake owes its singular, unearthly 

Possibly the mental effect of the lake's unusual sur- 
roundings was increased by the dramatic manner in which 
they were so unexpectedly revealed. But even on subse- 
quent visits, when we were prepared for the lake 's appear- 
ance, it still impressed us as belonging to another world. 

But even more than the charms of the lake itself, of cloud 
effects and sunsets which no man could describe and no 


artist dare paint, of birds in vast numbers, it was the views 
of Mt. Shasta which made our days there memorable. 
Although forty miles away, Shasta seen across the sea of 
tules as an effective foreground, rose with surprising 
grandeur. Gleaming white it swept in graceful lines up- 
ward, and still upward, so far above any other visible earth- 
ly thing, so peaceful, so majestic, so supreme, that it domin- 
ated the landscape like an embodiment of godliness. Now it 
was rose-tinged with coming day ; now startling in the clear- 
ness of morning ; now hazy and cloud-wreathed in the after- 
noon ; now soft and luminous in the afterglow of evening ; 
but always it was inspiring. 

Attracted by a flock of White Pelicans in the north- 
eastern part of the lake, we steered toward them only to find 
that they were roosting, not nesting. Thence we skirted the 
tules on the eastern side of the lake, and, at sunset, attemp- 
ted to land for the night, but it was dark before we found a 
place where we could penetrate the margin of tules, which 
was often a mile or more in width. Fortunately we were 
near the only cabin we saw on the lake, and from its owner 
we secured enough wood for a fire on which to boil our 

With no guide to direct us, we had unconsciously gone as 
far from the bird islands as it was possible to do, and it was 
not until the afternoon of the next day that they were found. 
After a superficial view of the surprising number of bird 
colonies occupying them, we ran the launch to the home of a 
man named Kellear who had taken up a homestead on an 
island hill in the sea of tules between the lake and Keno, 
about eight miles from the bird rookeries. Here we found 
excellent water, wood, and a comfortable straw bed in the 
cowyard, and here we established our headquarters. 

The bird islands of Lower Klamath Lake are as unusual 
as the lake itself. In place of rocky reefs, sandy bars, or 
grass-grown mud-flats, they are composed solely of tules 
which, about their borders, are matted into thick beds of 



dead stalks, on which the birds nest. Some contain many 
acres, others less than an acre ; but large or small, all fur- 
nish the essential requisite of insular isolation, and all 
illustrate better than any other bird islands with which I am 
familiar, the attraction of an island home for communal, 
ground-nesting birds. 

" Low-lying snaky Cormorants " 

The White Pelicans find here no pebbles with which to 
build their little mound-nests ; the Caspian Terns do with- 
out sand; the Cormorants without rocks; all must nest 
under exactly the same conditions; even the Great Blue 
Herons, in default of trees, built their platform nests of 
tules in the tules. 

I do not know how many islands were inhabited by birds, 
but I counted fifteen on which Pelicans were nesting, and 
there were at least a dozen more with Eing-billed and Cali- 
fornia Gulls, Caspian Terns, Farallone Cormorants, and 
Great Blue Herons. In most instances the birds nested near 
the water and were therefore easily visible. 

Most of .the islands were separated by only narrow chan- 
nels, the canals in this Venice of bird cities, through which 


passed dark, low-lying, snaky Cormorants ; dainty pearl- 
plumaged Gulls, riding high and bouyantly, or fluttering 
anxiously over their venturesome young; stately, snowy 
Pelicans like full-rigged ships ; Ducks with their little fleet 
of downlings, or Western Grebes carrying their chicks on 
their backs. 

Overhead lines of Pelicans came sailing home, bearing 
cargo for their young, and clamorous flocks of Gulls rose 
suddenly, to continue in the air some dispute begun in the 
reeds, to which, shortly, they all returned. 

These Gulls appeared to be equally divided among the 
California and Ring-billed species. They were the most 
abundant birds in the rookery and nested on nearly every 
island. Some nests were in close proximity to those of the 
Pelicans and Cormorants, but none were seen near those of 
the Caspian Terns. The greater number, however, were 
some distance from the shore, where the tules were still up- 
right in the tangle of the preceding years ' growth. Such 
places were infested with young Gulls, clad in mottled gray 
down, which ran back into the denser growth or tucked 
themselves into interstices in the reeds where they were 
easily overlooked. It was not until I entered the blind and 
the returning parents called their young from their hiding- 
places, that I became aware of their abundance. The place 
was overrun with them. 

As the old birds, one after the other, dropped down to 
the reeds about the blind, the noise and confusion was be- 
wildering. The young birds apparently claimed parentage 
of any old one, but when in error, were promptly disowned 
with far from tender nips, treatment which, if they saw it, 
the real parents promptly resented. Then followed a battle 
of wings and voices which was quickly settled with some- 
times loss of feathers but never of blood. 

I have listened for hours to the calls of Gulls without 
divining their significance. These birds, in common with 
other members of their genus, threw their heads upward like 



baying dogs while uttering a loud, emphatic ki-ki-ki-ki, 
and when hovering over the rookery chattered ka-ka-ka-ka 
more rapidly than human tongue could enunciate the sylla- 
bles. At times, when swimming, they jerked out the single 
syllable go, with such force that the head was thrown for- 
ward and the bill entered the water; but I could attach no 
meaning to any of these calls. The note of the young birds 
was a shrill, squealing whistle. 

" The old birds, one after the other, dropped down into the reeds " 

The Caspian Terns, of which there were but about 300, 
all in one colony, occupied a point of an island where they 
were associated only with Cormorants. The Gulls built nests 
of the tule stalks, but the Terns laid their eggs in depres- 
sions in the fallen, matted reeds or silt which, near the 
water, sometimes covered them. Most of the eggs had 
hatched and, as I landed, the downy young scurried into the 
reed forest which bordered the open space along the shOTe. 



Although the blind was erected with no attempt at con- 
cealment, the adults, all screaming, came back in a body al- 
most as soon as I had disappeared within it, and I shortly 
experienced the satisfaction of being surrounded by this, the 
largest and, in North America at least, one of the rarest 
members of its genus. All wore the shining black cap with 
elongated crest feathers, and had the bright coral red bill of 
the nuptial season. 

Caspian Terns 

As, with gracefully uplifted wings, the daintily plum- 
aged birds alighted, the young, doubtless in response to 
their calls, ran out from the reeds and then ensued the usual 
squabbling until the chicks, finding their own parents, were 
snugly nestled under the silky white breasts. On these oc- 
casions they sometimes fought three-cornered duels, but as 
the sex of the contestants was unknown, I could not surmise 
the meaning of the struggle. 

Like the young of the Common Tern and doubtless also 
of the other members of this subfamily, the young Caspian 



Terns swam easily, taking to the water when cut off from 
the reeds, but the adults were not seen to alight on the 

Having heretofore failed to establish intimate relations 
with that fine bird, the Western Grebe, I had anticipated an 
opportunity to observe it here, where, according to the re- 
port of Finley and Bohlman, it had nested abundantly the 

Surrounded by 

the rarest members of its genus " 

preceding year. We found, however, only one occupied nest, 
and saw comparatively few birds ; but we did find numerous 
Grebes ' bodies, from which the breast had been stripped. 

The cause of their death was revealed one morning when 
we found a ruddy-cheeked, white-bearded old hunter in the 
rookery. Eesting quietly in his skiff, gun in hand, he 
promptly potted every Grebe which was unfortunate 
enough to rise within range. He had only five birds in his 


boat ; but his work was nearly finished ; the rookery had 
been ' ' shot out. ' ' 

Living in a house-boat hidden somewhere in tules, this 
degenerate representative of the pioneer trapper seemed 
far from the world of millinery adornment, but no stock- 
broker kept his eye on the * ' tape ' ' more keenly than he did 
on the quotation of the New York feather market, with 
which the dealers regularly supplied him, and the moment 
the figures promised a profit, he took to the field. 

Young Great Blue Herons 

It appeared that for several preceding seasons Grebes' 
breasts had brought only fifteen cents each, and at this price 
the birds were not worth killing. Hence their abundance 
during the visit of Finley and Bohlman. In the meantime, 
the demands of fashion had advanced the price to fifty cents 
per breast, a sum sufficient to tempt the hunter, and in a few 
weeks he had wiped out the increase of years. 

He was a pleasant-eyed old fellow, and there was sonu. 


thing about him to which the hunter in me responded. Big 
game and fur-bearing animals quickly disappear before the 
advance of civilization, but human nature does not change 
so readily. 

The fact that there were no buffalos to kill or beavers to 
trap, did not prevent this man from being a hunter and in 
default of larger quarry he shot Ducks and Grebes and 
trapped minks, making enough to live in the isolation which 
his nature called for. 

The fact that my * ' specimens ' ' were designed for a 
museum, and his " skins " for a milliner's shop did not 
seem to him to create any special difference in our calling 
and, believing that we were both plying the same trade, he 
freely discussed its various aspects and offered me much 
advice as to the best manner in which to kill Grebes. 

Pelicans, he believed, should be protected by law because 
they ate the dead fish which at that time dotted the lake in 
hundreds. But on Cormorants ' * Shags ' ' he called them 
there ought to be a bounty because they ate only live fish. 
As for Grebes, they were no good one way or the other, ex- 
cept to kill, and if I had advanced aesthetic reasons for the 
preservation of these marvellously graceful witches of the 
water, I should probably have spoken in a foreign tongue. 
Perhaps it will be time enough to turn our attention to the 
aesthetic education of the hunter when we have convinced 
the wearer of the borrowed plumes of her moral responsi- 
bilities in this matter of bird destruction. 

So much easier is it to collect material things than facts, 
that before I had even made the acquaintance of Klamath 
Lake birds I had secured the specimens, accessories and 
photographs on which to base our proposed group. Mr. Hit- 
tell had completed his sketches, and with a study of its bird- 
life only just begun, I left this region of enchantment. 


My experience in the Sierras is limited to a few days 
(June 24- July 5, 1903; June 8-10, 1906), passed at Price's 
camp in Glen Alpine and on Fallen Leaf Lake near Lake 
Tahoe, and a short trip from this point over the Tahoe-Pla- 
cerville stage route to Silver Creek. Brief as was the time, 
it was more than sufficient to impress me with the manifold 
attractions of this region for the nature-lover. At this sea- 
son rain is infrequent and the camper, with tent or without, 
may hunt the world over for a more ideal climate or more 
delightful surroundings. 

The country about Tahoe offers a most inviting field to 
the ornithologist. It is accessible and diversified; primeval 
forests, marshes, and snow-capped peaks being in close 
proximity ; and as long as William Price and Walter Fisher 
maintain their camp on Fallen Leaf Lake, the visiting nat- 
uralist will be assured a congenial home and efficient 

With two other members of the American Ornithologists ' 
Union 's transcontinental party of 1903, 1 left San Francisco 
the morning of June 23, and reached Tahoe Inn in the eve- 
ning. Awakened by the emphatic come-right-here of the 
Olive-sided Flycatcher, I arose for an early view of Tahoe, 
its encircling mountains and forests, and found as well, a 
male Hermit Warbler, and a nest of a Mountain Chickadee 
which evidently contained young. On comparing notes at 
breakfast, I learned that both of my companions had inde- 
pendently found the same nest, though it is doubtful if an- 
other guest of the hotel knew of its existence. I was remind- 
ed of Thoreau's arrowhead. 

I know of no lake in this country comparable with Tahoe. 
In size, in the intense blue of its surprisingly clear waters, 


in its setting of great conifers and snow-ridged mountains 
it stands, in my experience, preeminent. 

The morning we sailed for Tallac was absolutely calm 
and, as the steamer glided over the mirror-like surface of 
the lake, the bottom could be seen at astonishing depths. But 
when, some days later, we returned, a sixty-mile-an-hour 
gale created a sea which played havoc with most of the pas- 
sengers and forced the one hundred and twenty-five foot 
steamer to abandon part of her route. 

At Tallac, White-crowned Sparrows sang plaintively in 
the pines near the hotel, and Juncos trilled and twittered in 
the shrubbery. Later, I saw near Tallac a single American 
Magpie, (Pica pica hudsonia), ornithological evidence that 
I was on the eastern slope of the Sierras. Here one takes a 
stage for the five-mile ride through the woods around the 
border of Fallen Leaf Lake, to Price's Camp, at an altitude 
of about 6,300 feet. 

From this point, there are a score or more of mountain 
lakes to be reached within a few hours. Mt. Tallac, snow- 
capped, towers overhead, and Glen Alpine, with its fine 
trees, dashing stream and water-falls, lies at the back of the 

The vicinity of the camp itself is as favorable a place for 
bird study as one could hope for. Thick-billed Fox Spar- 
rows, (Passer ella iliaca megarhyncha), were here the most 
conspicuous singing birds, and one could not ask for a more 
musical, cheerful songster. The loud, single whistle of the 
Mountain Quail was a distinctly new note, strikingly unlike 
the sit-right-down of the Valley Quail. The birds called 
from the dense conifers and were exceedingly difficult to 
see. When alarmed, they carried their long crest feathers 
erect, a singular ornament, but one which was quite in keep- 
ing with their graceful alertness. 

Green-tailed Towhees, with their mewing call and bright 
song; Western Tanagers (Piranga ludoviciana) , uttering 
their clean cut clit-tuck and unmistakably tanagrine chant ; 

H5y ' 

V :?8i N?i$ 

The Forest in Glen Alpine 


Ruby-crowned Kinglets, the most gifted of small feathered 
vocalists; trilling J uncos, Calaveras, Audubon's, Pileolated, 
and Macgillivray's Warblers were the birds whose voices 
were most prominent. 

Several times I saw Solitaires perched silent and pen- 
sive, and about the falls in the Glen, active Water Ousels 
were sometimes seen, but their song season was over. 

A nest of the Blue Grouse, (Dendragapus obscurus sier- 
ra), with broken egg-shells, from which the chicks had only 
recently emerged, was found, June 30, well up the Glen and, 
on one occasion, a bird of this species was heard to utter its 
hollow, ventriloquial boom. 

Blue-fronted Jays were among the common forest birds 
and occasionally Clarke's Crows crossed the Glen from 
tree-top to tree-top to disappear up the mountain side. 

The Woodpeckers of this region are of great interest 
and will afford the eastern ornithologist some brand new 
sensations in bird-life. In addition to the Eed-shafted 
Flicker and the western form of the Hairy Woodpecker, I 
observed the blackbird-like Lewis's Woodpecker in the 
woods about Tallac. More generally distributed were the 
quaintly plumaged White-headed Woodpecker, and the Red- 
breasted Sapsucker, while, on the surrounding mountains, 
the beautiful Williamson 's Sapsucker was not uncommon, a 
nest containing young being found in a dead tree on July 2. 

All the species mentioned were seen between June 24 and 
July 5, 1903. When I visited the camp from June 8 to 10, 
1906, the Glen had not yet shaken off the grip of winter. 
Snow-slides, ten feet deep, blocked the trail and along their 
edges, snow-flowers, like little torches, blossomed. The wil- 
lows and alders were blooming, White-crowned and Fox 
Sparrows, Olive-sided Flycatchers, Mountain Quail and 
Chickadees, were singing, but the Warblers had not yet 
come up from the lower altitudes. 

On June 30, 1 crossed the mountains on horseback at 
Angora Lake and struck the Tahoe-Placerville stage-route 



to the south, following it over the divide and down the west- 
ern slope as far as Georgetown Junction, which may have 
deserved this designation when this route was the main 
highway into middle California, but which exists now only 
as a name. Here, I left the road for a trail, used by dairymen 
in bringing their herds from the parched valleys to the flow- 

Camp on Silver Creek 

er-filled alpine meadows, and climbed the steep grade 
through the forests to Silver Creek, where a junction was 
made with Price, Louis Fuertes and other members of our 
Glen Alpine camp, who had struck directly across the moun- 
tains, ascending Pyramid Peak by the way. 

Here is a trip through a region filled with associations of 
California's early history, in which primitive means of 
transportation still exist, but through which, nevertheless, a 
journey may be made in perfect comfort, with opportunity 
to stop at inns situated amid the wildest and most pictur- 
esque surroundings. Eeaching Tallac the journey may be 


continued by steamer across Lake Tahoe, and the railway 
reached at Truckee. I commend it with enthusiasm to the 
nature-loving tourist. 

We camped beneath the spruces, at an elevation of 7000 
feet, and from this base ascended to still higher woods, 
where great snow banks lay in the shade of the trees. 

The season was less advanced here than in Glen Alpine. 
Hermit Thrushes, (Hylocichla quttata sequoiensis], were 
singing divinely, and on several occasions I heard the ecs- 
tatic, highly musical outburst of the Solitaire. It is wholly 
unlike the songs of the Mexican Solitaires, (Myiadestes uni- 
color and M. obscurus), but strongly suggests the rapid 
flight song of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak. 

We were now fairly in the the Boreal Zone. Lincoln 's 
Sparrows sang from the alders bordering the snow-fed 
brooks, Canadian Nuthatches trumpeted nasally from the 
pines, while Pine Grosbeaks, (Pinicola enudeator calif orni- 
ca) and Evening Grosbeaks, (Coccothraustes vespertinus 
montanus] furnished even more impressive evidence of the 
boreal character of our faunal position. Still, less than fif- 
ty miles away, on the warm, western Sierran foot-hills, I 
had seen orange groves. 

The nights were cool at Silver Creek, and rolled in our 
blankets, we sought close companionship with the camp fire. 

Doubtless it was to the sense of friendliness and good 
cheer, born of a certain atmospheric hospitality which char- 
acterizes Sierra summers ; to the tonic of mountain air ; to 
the melody of the Hermit Thrush and joyous carol of the 
Solitaire ; to the singing of a thousand streams on their way 
to the sea ; to a hundred subtle, potent causes, that I may at- 
tribute the physical exhilaration and spiritual exaltation 
which I experienced in the Sierras. 

Enter California through the deserts that form its south- 
ern boundaries, but leave it, if leave it you must, through 
the passes of these majestic mountains. You may go out 
from their shadow but never from under their influence. 







The wild-fowl which, twenty years ago, were so abund- 
ant in our northwestern boundary states, to-day character- 
ize the sloughs and lakes of the adjoining Canadian Prov- 
inces. In a short time, most of them will have retreated to 
the still more remote north, eventually to be forced beyond 
the parallel profitably habitable by the ranchmen. Crowded 
at the best, within comparatively small areas, by reason of 
their aquatic habits, the nature of their haunts makes 
them particularly susceptible to those changes in environ- 
ment which man, the settler, directly or indirectly occasions. 

Shooting, the grazing of herds of sheep and cattle, which 
destroy cover or tread on nests, and especially the draining 
and tilling of land, are the chief factors in reducing the 
numbers of these ground-nesting birds, which, in brief, are 
quickly routed by civilization. Where, therefore, the map is 
dotted with towns and lined with railways, they can con- 
tinue to breed only on islets and, even then, require special 

It was my valued privilege to have at least a glimpse of 
this wild-fowl life, in June, 1901, at Shoal Lake, Manitoba, 
and in June, 1907, near Maple Creek, Saskatchewan. On 
both occasions my time was largely occupied by the require- 
ments of special collecting, but nevertheless, observations 
were made which seem worth recording. They are, there- 
fore, presented as a contribution to the ornithology of a re- 
gion whose bird-life is so rapidly yielding to the pressure of 
new conditions, that apparently it will soon be as devoid of 
nesting wild-fowl as are our northern border states, unless 
the Canadian Government, profiting by our experience, 
takes immediate steps to protect its birds during the breed- 
ing season. 


That laws prohibiting the killing of wild-fowl at this sea- 
son, and the destruction of their nests and eggs, have been 
passed and are enforced is not enough. The draining of 
sloughs and raising of cattle cannot be treated as violations 
of the game-laws and still both may be more destructive 
than many men with guns. A more effective form of pro- 
tection is needed and this can best be secured by the creation 
of reservations or bird refuges. If it seems impracticable 
because of their value to the stock raiser, to set aside 
sloughs and lake borders for this purpose, no good reason 
appears to exist for refusing to give the birds title, for all 
time, to the islets and "reefs" which are found in many of 
the lakes of this region. These islets are rarely if ever of 
value to the ranchman, and they already are of infinite value 
to the birds. Protected by water from their natural ene- 
mies, many birds are wholly restricted to them in the nest- 
ing season, and with a wise treatment of this question by 
the Canadian Government, they would become the wild-fowl 
nurseries of western Canada. 

Double-crested Cormorants 


The west-bound naturalist, who, from a Canadian Pacific 
car-window, has been oppressed by the dearth of life in the 
country north of the Great Lakes, welcomes the change from 
this desolate region to the poplar-dotted prairies of Manito- 
ba with their teeming bird-life. Once west of Winnipeg, and 
even in the ditches made by grading the track-bed if they 
be not too near a settlement Grebes, Coots, and Ducks of 
various species may be seen leading broods of young ; and 
when the road passes a reed-bordered lake, or slough, the 
place seems alive with these birds, Bitterns, Yellow-headed 
and Red-winged Blackbirds, Black Terns and Franklin's 
Gulls. I recall no railway journey on which more birds may 
be seen from the train ; and consequently none which 
arouses in the arriving ornithologist a higher degree of en- 
thusiastic expectation. 

On June 13, 1901, just after passing through a bird com- 
munity of this kind, Mrs. Chapman and I left the Canadian 
Pacific train at Marquette, a station on the prairies, thirty 
miles west of Winnipeg, bound for Shoal Lake, eighteen 
miles to the north. Conveyance was eventually secured 
from a neighboring ranch and the drive was notable chiefly 
for the numbers of Black Terns which, swallow-like, circled 
about the wagon, feeding on the insects we flushed from the 

We pitched our tent as near the southern end of the lake 
as the marshy nature of the ground would permit, and not 
far from the cabin of an Englishman whose attractive half- 
breed wife prepared our meals. He acted occasionally as 
our guide; devoting himself between trips to Burton's 
* ' Anatomy of Melancholy ' ' and a cabinet organ which he 
played with exceptional taste. 

To avoid custom-house and transportation difficulties, 


we had waited until arriving at Winnipeg, where satisfac- 
tory outfits may be hired, before securing our camp equip- 
ment. A ten by twelve wall tent was our main shelter, while 
a seven by seven wedge tent was used as a work-room and 
for short trips. The frequent, heavy thunder showers kept 
the thick prairie turf saturated with water and induced us 



Camp at Shoal Lake 

to floor roughly the larger tent with such boards as our 
guide could spare from his cabin. Throughout June a camp 
stove was by no means a luxury, and each evening, a cover 
having been placed on the chimney-top, a fire, smudged with 
green poplar leaves, was made, to clear the tent of mosqui- 
toes. These insects were so numerous as to interfere with 
field-work on the prairie and lake border during the day, 
while the hum of their united voices about our tent at night, 
resembled the sound of steam escaping from an engine. 
Fortunately they were not found on the lake, nor even in 
the quill-reeds. 

Probably no one but an ornithologist would have selec- 
ted our camp-site, but even had the country been birdless it 
would have had attractions of its own. There was the in- 
spiring breadth of the prairie view; there were the endless 


reed forests with just a strip of blue water appearing over 
their tops; there were the prairie flowers roses, lilies, 
harebells, anemones and many others some of which we 
transplanted in their thick bit of turf to form a garden at 
our tent door; and in preparation for the almost daily 
thunder storms, there were cloud effects such as I have 
never seen exceeded elsewhere. 

Shoal Lake, first made known to ornithologists by 
Donald Gunn in 1868, is some thirty miles long with an 
average width of ten miles in its southern third, and of 
about three miles in its northern two-thirds. Its shores, for 
the greater part, are widely margined with densely growing 
quill reeds, which attain a height of from six to eight feet 
above the water. Where the fringe of reeds is a mile or 
more in width, the shore of the lake can be reached only by 
following the narrow water ways that wind through them. 

The northern end of Shoal Lake is thickly wooded with 
poplar, but I saw little of this region, my work being in the 
main confined to the vicinity of our camp where the abund- 
ance of bird-life left time only for trips to the islands in the 
lake. Here the country is more open, wide stretches of fer- 
tile prairie with its rich growth of grasses, being dotted 
with groves of small poplars. 

In the slightly lower ground, bordering the line of reeds 
which marked the edge of the lake, the grasses were denser 
and there were occasional small sloughs. So flat is the coun- 
try that from the higher ground near our camp, the water of 
the lake was barely visible over the tops of the reeds. 

Well out in the lake are a number of small islands. In 
some instances, they are formed of only a few great rocks 
with a beach of pebbles when they are known locally as 
"reefs." Such islands were inhabited by Double-crested 
Cormorants, California Gulls, Common Terns, and one held 
a small group of White Pelicans, as described in the chapter 
devoted to that species. 

Other and larger islands were grown with grasses, reeds, 


and rose bushes, which invariably held the nests of Ducks ; 
Spoonbills, Baldpates, Mallards, Pintails, and Blue-winged 
Teal being the common species, while one nest of White- 
winged Scoter was found. Birds were exceedingly abund- 
ant in the reed forests of the lake, the more characteristic 
species being Coots (Fulica), Western Grebes and Frank- 
lin's Gulls, nesting in colonies, Black Terns, Black-crowned 
Night Herons, American Bitterns, Yellow-headed and Red- 
winged Blackbirds, and Long-billed Marsh Wrens. 

About the marshy border of the lake, Soras, Wilson 's 
Phalaropes, Blue-winged Teal, Nelson's Sparrows and 
Short-billed Marsh Wrens were the commoner birds; while 
the characteristic prairie species were Bartram's Sandpi- 
pers, Killdeer, Nighthawks, Western Meadowlarks, Prairie 
Horned Larks, Bobolinks, Cowbirds, Vesper, Savanna and 
Clay-colored Sparrows. 

The lake and its shores claimed the greater part of my 
time and but little attention was devoted to the poplars, 
where the birds observed most commonly were Crows, 
Kingbirds, Baltimore Orioles, Bronzed Grackles, Warbling 
Vireos, Yellow W r arblers, Catbirds, Veerys and Robins. 

The location of our camp by the side of a grove of pop- 
lars and near the junction of prairie and marshy lake bor- 
der, brought us within sight or sound of nearly all the birds 
just mentioned. The days are long in this latitude and at 
half -past three each morning, we were awakened by a group 
of Yellow-headed Blackbirds which selected our poplar 
grove for the delivery of their matutinal chorus. If result 
were commensurate with effort, the Yellow-head would be a 
world-famed songster; but something besides unbounded 
ambition and limitless muscular exertion is required to pro- 
duce music. In vain the Yellow-head expands his lungs and 
throws out his chest, his wide-spread tail testifying to the 
earnestness of his endeavor ; sound he produces in volume, 
but surely such a series of strained, harsh calls, whistles, 
like escaping steam, grunts, groans and pig-like squeals 



never before did duty as a song ! In his youth he does far bet- 
ter, the note of the young bird being a wooden-rolling call 
as different from the voice of the parent as is that of a 
young Baltimore Oriole. Before the effect of novelty was 
lost, the yellow-headed serenaders returned to the reeds and 
the dominant bird song about our camp for the rest of the 
day was that of the Western Meadowlark. 

In the poplars, 
the Warbling Vireo 
was the song leader, 
the little double- 
toned roll going off 
at intervals, the time 
of which was regu- 
lated by the reply of 
a rival singer in a 

Female Warbling Vireo 

neighboring grove. 
From crowing Cocks 
to Vireos, nothing 
so stimulates song 
as song. Even 
when on the nest, 
while his mate was 
feeding, a Vireo 
near our tent could 

not refuse the song challenge ; a habit which guided me to 

his home. 

Unlike the Yellow-headed Blackbird, the Bronzed 

Grackle appears to appreciate his limitations as a vocalist 

and makes small effort in that direction. Nevertheless these 

Male Warbling Vireo Singing on Nest 


birds were sufficiently common to make their notes a not in- 
conspicuous part of the chorus of bird voices. I spent much 
time in futile search of a Grackle 's nest which the actions of 
the birds indicated was in the grove at our camp ; eventually 
it was discovered on the ground, among the poplar sprouts, 
within sixty feet of the tent. With the aid of an umbrella 
blind, it was possible to observe, at close range, these birds 
feeding their family of four. The returning parent was in- 
variably greeted by four mouths spread wide in mute ap- 
peal for food, and apparently the nearest bird was fed first. 
But by that nice adjustment of the nervous system which, 
as Professor Herrick has shown, prevents a young bird 
from receiving an undue share of food, there was no 
" swallowing response " from the mouth of the well-fed 
youngster and the parent acting on this hint, removed the 
food, and tried another applicant. 

The sharp peek of passing Black Terns was a frequent 
note. The feeding habits of these birds and of Franklin's 
Gulls is a strange sight to the eastern bird student, whom 
experience has taught to associate members of this family 
with bays and sandy beaches. 

From our tent door in the early morning I sometimes 
found the surrounding prairie thickly dotted with Frank- 
lin 's Gulls actively hunting grasshoppers, the birds at the 
rear constantly arising to take the lead, only to lose it to 
those that followed. It is a novel sight also, to see these 
beautiful birds following the plough to secure the grubs ex- 
posed in the lengthening furrow, with their white and pearl 
plumage gleaming against the fresh black prairie soil. The 
Black Terns, which often take part in the hunt, appear to 
feed exclusively on insects, and it is only when the high 
winds set the prairie grasses rolling in long billows and 
the Terns gliding low, gather insects from the grassy crests, 
that one is reminded of their relationship to birds of the sea. 

From the sloughs came the whinny of Soras and boom- 
ing of Bitterns, and from the great quill reed jungles such a 


babel of bird notes that one could imagine all the birds of 
the lake were in convention there. The Coots were responsi- 
ble for much of this noise, but the yellow-heads were not far 
behind them, while the loud grating whistle of the Western 
Grebe, the sonorous kow-kowing of the Pied-billed Grebe, 
and other weird, unidentified calls, produced an indescriba- 
ble and altogether delightful ensemble. 

Although there was no marked, sultry, noonday period 
and birds could be seen in numbers from daylight to dark, 
comparative quiet reigned in the reeds during the day ; but 
toward sunset the convention reassembled, to resume the 
morning's discussion in a session which lasted until ten 
o 'clock. The birds ' day was therefore between eighteen and 
nineteen hours in length. Grackles were seen feeding their 
young as late as half -past nine, and one asks whether the 
greater amount of food consumed per day does not increase 
the rapidity of the young bird 's growth and shorten its stay 
in the nest. 

A walk of fifty yards from our tent toward the lake, 
which was distant about three hundred yards, brought one 
into the taller grasses of the slightly lower ground. This 
was the home of Wilson's Phalarope, a new bird to me and 
one which, because of its peculiar marital customs, I observ- 
ed with no little interest. On my appearance, one or two of 
these birds invariably flew about me with a slow, jerky, halt- 
ing flight and sinuous movement of the neck, as it uttered a 
soft quok. Usually the female took the lead, the male fol- 
lowing. This pair of birds, I believe, had young hiding in 
the dense grasses, but on June 15, 1 found a nest with four 
eggs, which on the 19th were within a few days of hatching. 
The male, as usual, incubated, unaided, but it was evident 
that the female had a keen interest in the welfare of her 
home, in spite of her unmaternal habits, and on every occa- 
sion when the male was flushed from the eggs and fluttered 
off over the grass, he was joined by his mate who showed 
her interest by flying anxiously about me. These females, 



therefore, are by no means such gay and irresponsible 
grass widows as they have been said to be. While they take 
no part in the duties of incubation they nevertheless are 
clearly concerned with its results, appearing in defense of 
their household when circumstances require their presence. 
They are exquisite creatures and when swimming high in 

Blue-winged Teal's Nest 
The eggs were covered by the bird when leaving the nest 

the water with dainty nodding motion of the head, present 
as pleasing a picture of bird-life as beauty of plume and 
grace of motion can combine to produce. 

The high grasses in which the Phalaropes nested, evi- 
dently held also the home of that singularly distributed bird, 
Nelson's Sparrow, whose little guttural trill was a common 
note, but in spite of much anxious chirping on their part and 
much searching on mine, the birds succeeded in keeping 
their secret. 



Blue-winged Teal also nested here, and one of the dis- 
tinctive experiences of bird study in this region, is the flush- 
ing of wild Ducks which, with a truly surprising flutter, 
tumble from their nest at your feet, invariably speeding 
your circulation with a bound. Under these conditions, 
there is no time for that careful and complete covering of 

Blue-winged Teal's Xest 
The downy covering raised to show the eggs 

the eggs with a downy blanket, which precedes the more de- 
liberate departure from the nest, for feeding. 

Admirably as the incubating Duck, feigning to be wound- 
ed, attempts to draw you from her nest, the performance 
is not even a poor imitation of her actions when she wishes 
to cover the retreat of her brood. A Mallard one day gave 
an excellent exhibition of this habit. At her first call of 
alarm the young birds scattered widely, no two, apparently, 



going the same way, and when she had finished directing 
their movements, she came herself boldly from the reeds to 
hold my attention by the most elaborate demonstrations of 

A pair of Black Terns which were nesting in a small 
reed-grown slough near our camp, showed an even more 

Black Tern Incubating 

remarkable control over their downy young, but adopted a 
less strategic method of protecting them. 

The nest was discovered, on June 16, on a small knob of 
mud and water-soaked vegetation which had been selected 
as a foundation for the nest of coarse reeds. At this time it 
contained one egg. On June 18 a second egg was laid and, 
without waiting for the usual complement of three, incuba- 
tion was begun. At no time during this remarkable period 
of a bird 's year did the Terns fail to resent intrusion on 


their haunts. The Blue-winged Teal and Wilson's Phala- 
rope nesting in the long grasses on the border of the slough, 
fluttered from their eggs only when one seemed about to 
step upon them, but the Terns sprang into the air and, with 
sharp screams, came to meet me when I was thirty yards 

On June 25, there occurred an unusually heavy fall of 
rain, raising the water in the slough several inches and 
threatening to inundate the little island. But the Terns 
saved their eggs from the flood by bringing fresh nesting 
material and raising the height of their home ; though, 
whether the action was performed with a definite object or 
was merely such a display of nest-building instinct as is not 
infrequently seen during incubation, it is difficult to de- 

On July 5, after an incubation period, therefore, of sev- 
enteen days, the first egg was hatched. Three days later, 
with Ernest Seton, who had joined us on the 3d, I visited 
the nest, expecting to see a pair of downy young but, to our 
surprise and disappointment, it was deserted. Evidently, 
however, there was something not far away in which the 
Terns were greatly concerned. With piercing screams they 
darted at us, once actually hitting Seton 's hat. 

Search failing to reveal any sign of the young birds, the 
camera was left to play detective. Focusing it on the empty 
nest and surrounding it with cat-tails, we attached some 
seventy feet of tubing and retired to the high grasses of a 
neighboring dry bank. But we were not hidden from the 
Tern. She hovered over us, shrieking her disgust with 
scarcely a pause, turning her long beak to this side and that, 
as she brought each eye in turn to bear. Finally her craiks 
grew softer, and, fluttering over the nest, she uttered a soft 
wheent-wheent-wheent, which probably meant to her chicks 
" It 's all right ; come back home now. ' ' After half a minute 
of this calling, she fluttered lower and dropped out of sight 
behind the reed barriers. 


Acting on the belief that she had called the chicks back to 
the nest, a dozen rapid strokes were given to the bicycle 
pump at the end of the tube, and the Tern promptly flew up 
into the air, uttering her loud craik-craik in a way which 
plainly showed us that the shutter on the camera had been 
sprung. Instantly we rushed through the mud and water to 
the nest, but only to find it as empty as before. 

" She hovered near us " 

Inserting a fresh plate in the camera, we returned to our 
hiding place. Again the Tern scolded us vigorously, but af- 
ter a while, as before, her fears seemed to decrease; she 
gradually drew nearer to the nest and eventually dropped 
lightly down into the reeds. After waiting a moment for 
her to settle herself, the bicycle pump was again used, and 
at the twelfth plunge of the piston the Tern shot upward as 
though she were blown from the end of the tube ! We accept- 
ed her action as an unfailing indication that the shutter was 



properly released and once more splashed quickly through 
the water to see what we might see ; but only an empty nest 
met our gaze, and we were as ignorant of the fate of the 
young Terns as we had been in the beginning. 

The continued anxiety of the parents, however, encour- 
aged us to continue our efforts to solve the mysterious dis- 

Black Tern Attacking 

appearance of their chicks, and, after several more attempts 
we reached the nest just in time to see the two little ones 
paddling away into the surrounding reeds, like ducklings. 
This caused us to believe that on each occasion they had re- 
turned to the nest only to desert it again as the old bird left 
them, but it was not until the plates were developed, a 
month later, that we could really put together the whole 



story. Its main facts are shown in the photographs which 
are here reproduced. One pictures the Tern while incubat- 
ing. A second pictures her brooding her young after one of 
their enforced baths in the surrounding waters. A compari- 
son of these pictures shows the difference between the poses 
of the bird during incubation and while brooding. A third 
photograph reveals the two little Terns just as they Iwl 
( liirbe'1 into the nest after their long swim for safety. 

Black Tern Brooding 

The incident is an extremely interesting illustration of 
the power of that parental control on which the safety of 
the young bird so largely depends. Here were non-natatorial 
birds which, at the age of three days, in response to the com- 
mands of their parent, made, without hesitation, what was, 
doubtless, their first plunge into the water, swimming so ef- 
fectively that we were unable to discover their hiding-place, 



although we reached the nest within ten seconds after they 
had left it. Nor did they apparently return to their home 
until they were directed to do so. The commands of the par- 
ent must have been given from the air, since pictures show- 
ing the old bird brooding its chicks were made as soon as the 
parent returned to the nest. The old bird invariably sprang 
into the air at the click of the shutter and the empty nest 

" Two little Terns " 

proved that the young birds deserted it at the same mo- 
ment, and this performance they repeated as long as their 
strength lasted. 

An aged punt, which I trust was launched with an apol- 
ogy to the lake, was used to explore the reed forests. This 
was exciting but exasperating work. Strange calls from 
just beyond the limit of vision in the dense growth, lured 
one to continued exertions with the push pole, but the 
swash of the clumsy craft gave warning of our coming and 
the unknown voices always remained a mystery. A pair of 
HolboelPs Grebes had a nest on a small raft of water-soaked 
reeds near the boat landing, but my best efforts to see the 


bird on its nest failed ; nevertheless, whether I approached 
cautiously or as rapidly as possible, five warm eggs were al- 
ways carefully covered, while the bird, with body nearly 
submerged, uttered a sharp cluck as it swam nervously 
about in the near-by reeds. Fresh leaves which I placed on 
the nest-covering in the morning were missing in the after- 
noon showing that the bird had returned to the nest in the 
meantime. The eggs hatched June 17. 

The Western Grebe, whether flushed from the nest or 
leaving it to feed, does not, as a rule, cover its eggs, and 
only in exceptional cases were the eggs concealed by the 
nest material. Nevertheless I have seen the birds, while 
standing nearly erect in the nest, attempt to place some 
covering over the eggs before sliding into the water as I ap- 
proached. I have found a colony containing dozens of nests 
of these birds, each with eggs, not one of which was covered, 
although the birds had left them voluntarily. Other obser- 
vations show that they spend much time away from their 
nests during the day. 

They are splendid, spirited birds and hold their long, 
slender necks with a dignity and grace of carriage which 
should win them the name of Swan-Grebe. Although with- 
out the feather ' ' ruffs ' ' of some Grebes, their shining black 
crowns and sharply defined, absolutely immaculate, snowy- 
white cheeks and necks are striking characters and, when 
seen at short range, their bright red eyes increase the dis- 
tinction of their appearance. While preening their plum- 
age, they often lie on one side in the water, when the light 
flashes from their glistening breasts as it would from a 

When mating, the feathers of crown and nape are fluff- 
ed, the birds face each other and, with evidently intense ex- 
citement, wave their heads and necks from side to side with 
a swaying, sinuous motion ; then, as they come together, 
there follows a rush through the water which can be heard 
above all other sounds of the reeds, 



Yellow-headed Blackbird Feeding Young 

The Swan Grebe's voice is a loud, double-toned, whistled 
c-r-r-cc-cr-r-r-ee, which can be heard distinctly when the 
bird is beyond reach of the eye, on the open waters of the 
lake, and even a poor imitation of this far-reaching call 
brings the lakes of prairie or plain more clearly before me 
than the memory of the note of any other of their bird in- 

The average number of eggs is four. The young Grebe 
can swim the moment it leaves the egg but at this early age 
it will crawl into one 's hand rather than remain in the wa- 
ter. Two or three hours later, however, when the plumage 
has dried, it voluntarily leaves the nest to accompany the 
parents, whose backs now form its resting place. Should 
the parent dive while the young bird is sitting on its back, 
the little fellow is apt to lose his place, then he strikes out 
for himself ; swimming and diving readily. But when the 



downy chicks are held beneath the wing, whence the heads 
protrude through the tertiaries, they are taken under the 

The feather-eating habit of Grebes is well known but I 
believe it has never been explained. Possibly the adults 
may swallow the feathers secured through their frequent 

Coot's Xest with Newly Hatched Young 

preening, but I am at loss to understand why chicks not 
more than three days old should have their stomachs tight- 
ly stuffed with a ball of their parents ' feathers. In the stom- 
ach of one I found a compact wad of 238 feathers, and in 
another there were no less than 331. All were the smaller 
body feathers of the adult Grebe. 

While the Grebes and Coots were the ruling spirits of 
the water, the Yellow-headed Blackbird was as clearly the 



dominant bird of the reeds. This bird is possessed of a per- 
sonality which would doubtless repay close study ; but it is 
one of the penalties of hurried collecting trips that but lit- 
tle time can be devoted to one bird, if one would gain even a 
superficial idea of the avifauna as a whole. It is your stay- 
at-home, not your traveling naturalist who has opportunity 
for prolonged, continuous and adequate observation. 

Long-billed Marsh Wren Entering Nest 

In spite of their abundance and vociferousness, the Yel- 
low-heads conducted their household affairs with more or 
less secrecy. Their nests were tied to the reed stems at an 
average height of four feet from the water. Soaking wet 
grasses are used in building and, in drying, the well-woven 
structure becomes firm and dense. I did not see the male 
feed the young birds while they were at the nest, though he 
seemed attentive enough after they had made their initial 
flight. A female which I watched for some hours in active at- 



tendance upon a brood of four young, approached the nest 
quietly and with the utmost caution, but, having delivered 
her supply of food, she always uttered a series of the most 
surprising squawks as she left the nest for more. 

To one accustomed to find Night Herons nesting in 
trees, often at a height of eighty feet, it was surprising to 

Young Black-crowned Night Herons and Nest 

observe these birds nesting on a platform of reed stalks 
only two or three inches above the water. The structure 
looked more like the home of a Coot than of a Night Heron 
and aptly illustrated the influence of environment both in 
determining the character of the nesting-site and that of the 
nest itself. 

Several attempts were made to study the bird-life of the 
* ' reefs ' ' in the lake, but these islands were so small and so 



thickly populated with birds, that the erection of the most 
inconspicuous kind of a blind aroused their suspicion and I 
learned little more of them than is conveyed by the photo- 
graphs of their nests with eggs and young. 

A " reef " north of the Narrows was so thickly covered 
with the nests of Double-crested Cormorants, that appar- 
ently not a site was left unoccupied. The black, half -naked 

Young Double-crested Cormorants and Nests 

young, with rapidly palpitating pouches, sat panting in 
their nests, crying like puppies. Both they and their home 
were as unattractive as birds and their haunts can well 
be. A perch, brought by an adult as food, was said by my 
boatman not to have been found in Shoal Lake, where 
pickerel abound. It had possibly been captured in Lake 

My failure to establish intimate relations with the small 
colony of White Pelicans nesting in the lake, is related be- 


yond ; nor did I have more success with the California 

The Common Terns occupied the larger islets with sandy 
beaches, where their nests were placed closer together than 
I have seen them elsewhere ; ten being found in a measured 
six-foot square. Always nervous, possibly the proximity of 
the four or five hundred birds, in a colony which was under 
observation for some hours, accounted for the frequency 
with which they left their nests. Without evident cause of 
alarm, and acting as a single bird, with a rush of wings, 
they would suddenly dart from their nests out over the 
water. Not a note was uttered but as they circled and flut- 
tered above their eggs, they called the familiar tear-r-r, and 
gradually dropping, soon returned to their eggs. But 
scarce were they settled when the performance was 
repeated, and if a hatching egg had not been found, the 
adequacy of their incubation methods might have been 
questioned. There appeared to be exceptionally wide vari- 
ation in the coloration of the eggs in this colony ; one nest 
containing two which were blue, and unspotted. 

A railroad now passes within a stone's throw of our 
camp-site at Shoal Lake and the bird-life of the borders of 
the lake has doubtless already yielded to the changed condi- 
tions implied by increased accessibility; but the reefs and 
islets are not so readily affected and let us hope will long 
hold their own. 


As we journey westward through Manitoba, following 
the Canadian Pacific railway into Saskatchewan and east- 
ern Alberta, the rainfall gradually decreases, and when we 
have reached the isohyetal line of ten to fifteen inches, 
which swings northwestward at about the one hundred and 
second meridian, we may be said to be fairly on the Plains. 
Except along the streams or among the sand-hills, there is 
no native forest growth, and the eye may vainly search the 
horizon for the sight of a single tree. 

The rolling ground is covered with a thick growth of 
grass which in lower, moister situations, is replaced by 
higher species, a small sage bush, rose-bushes and a recum- 
bent cactus grow sparsely, and, in season, there is a pro- 
fusion of flowers. To this sketch a botanist would add many 
details but here, at any rate, we have those features of the 
vegetation which impress themselves on the layman. 

I had always attributed the plainsman's glorification of 
his native heath to lack of experience, love of home, or the 
influence of those associations which so fortunately predis- 
pose us toward the land of our birth. That a flat, treeless, 
featureless country could, from a scenic standpoint, be seri- 
ously compared with the forested and watered East, or the 
mountainous West, seemed impossible, but I had only to 
live on the Plains to yield to their compelling charm. 

In the first place, the Plains are not flat but are rolling, 
and their sweeping undulations not only please the eye but 
appeal to the imagination by concealing what lies beyond 
each succeeding ridge. The ridges, in turn, give a breadth 
of view compared with which one's horizon at sea is 
restricted ; and to this measureless expansiveness of the 
Plains, more than to any other characteristic, is due their 


uplifting and exalting influence. No where else does one 
see so much of the world and yet seem so much a part of it. 

After a sea voyage in a sailing vessel where, of neces- 
sity, one constantly watches the heavens, I have been im- 
pressed by the narrow outlook one has in a wooded region. 
But on the Plains, the atmospheric phenomena of half a 
continent seem spread around one, and because of the 
greater diversity of the surface conditions, they are far 
more varied than at sea. I have seen six distinct storms 
streaking the sky at the same moment, each one separated 
from the other by clear sky or variously colored clouds ; 
clouds, too, such as one sees only on the Plains, for, after all 
is said, the glory of the Plains is their clouds. 

If the life of a wooded country were as easily observed 
as that of the Plains, their faunas might be more readily 
compared, but we have as yet no complete census of even 
the vertebrate forms of a single square mile of forest; 
while on the Plains virtually everything above ground is 
visible as far as the eye can detect it ; the herds of cattle and 
sheep ; a bunch of antelope with heads up, watching keenly ; 
a coyote sneaking off and looking back over his shoulder ; a 
kit fox, trotting briskly and unconcernedly ; a badger -flow- 
ing over the grass toward his home ; ground squirrels scur- 
rying for their holes or sitting erect at the entrance and pip- 
ing shrilly ; all form part of the readily observable mammal- 
life of a typical Plains scene. 

The last three weeks of June, 1908, were devoted by 
Louis Fuertes and myself to field work on the Plains about 
Crane Lake and Big Stick Lake, respectively about twenty 
miles east and twenty-five miles north of Maple Creek. The 
demands of special collecting and the shortness of the time, 
permitted us to gain only a general idea of the character of 
the avifauna as a whole, without attemping detailed studies 
of certain species. 

When compared with that of Shoal Lake in Manitoba, 
the bird-life of Maple Creek region is distinguished first, by 


the greater abundance of certain species, which are near 
their eastern limit in the first-named locality, (examples are, 
Western Grebe, Franklin's Gull, California Gull, White Pel- 
ican, Wilson's Phalarope, Long-billed Curlew); second, by 
the presence of plains or alkaline lake species, not observed 
about Shoal Lake, (examples are, Avocet, Western Willet, 
Ferruginous Bough-leg, Chestnut-collared and McCown's 
Longspurs, Lark Bunting, Sprague's Pipit); third, by the 
absence of those arboreal species which inhabited the pop- 
lars about Shoal Lake. Most of these, however, would doubt- 
less have been found if we had searched the limited tree- 
growth along Maple Creek, or in the sand-hills, which dune- 
like occasionally arise in the Plains. Nor did we visit the tim- 
ber of the ' ' Cypress Hills, ' ' some twenty miles south of the 
town of Maple Creek, but examination of A. C. Bent's ex- 
cellent list of the "Summer Birds of Southwestern Saskatch- 
ewan," (The Auk, XXIV, 1907, pp. 407-435; XXV, 1908, 
pp. 25-35), shows that most of the Manitoban birds are pres- 
ent, while, with them, is an interesting infusion of such west- 
ern forms as the Red-shafted Flicker, Arkansas Kingbird, 
Say's Phoebe, Western Wood Pewee, Wright's Flycatcher, 
Bullock's Oriole, Pink-sided Junco, Arctic Towhee, Audu- 
bon's Warbler, Macgillivray's Warbler, Long-tailed Chick- 
adee, Western Robin, and to this list may be added a Rock 
Wren, observed near Big Stick Lake, June 9. 

The characteristic Plains birds in southern Saskatche- 
wan are Chestnut-collared and McCown's Longspurs, 
Lark Buntings, Horned Larks, (Otocoris alpestris leu- 
colcema), Meadowlarks, (Sturnella neglecta], Bay- winged 
Buntings, (Pocecetes gramineus confinis), and Rough-leg- 
ged Hawks, (Archibuteo ferrugineus). All but the last- 
named are abundant, while the first four are flight singers, 
and there is virtually not a moment of the day when one or 
more of them cannot be seen or heard. The Meadowlark's 
flight song, though given as frequently as its perch song, 
earlier in the season, is less often heard in June, when the 


bird commonly sings from a bush or from that apparently 
welcome innovation, a fence post. 

The Longspurs and Lark Bunting sing in the air, in the 
most charming manner ; not uttering their notes to the time 
of rapid wing-vibrations, but, having attained an elevation 
of from fifteen to thirty feet, the wings are held widely ex- 
panded and, facing the wind, the singing bird floats, lightly, 
gently, earthward, as though its buoyancy departed with its 
escaping song. It is an exquisite performance. 

The Longspurs ' songs are bright, cheery, tuneful bits of 
bird music, that of the Chestnut-collared suggesting a mini- 
ature of the Western Meadowlark's. But of this trio of 
floating songsters the Lark Bunting is the most distinguish- 
ed. His song is truly a noteworthy effort, possessed of much 
volume and sweetness and recalling strains of the Song 
Sparrow, the Mockingbird and, especially, the Canary. At 
all times conspicuous, the male, when floating earthward 
with outstretcned, motionless wings, becomes a striking fig- 
ure, visible for a long distance ; his colors a pronounced ex- 
ception to those of most Plains birds. 

Another contradiction in color is found on comparing 
the tails, in flight, of the Longspurs and Shore Lark ; the 
former being conspicuously white, the latter black. What- 
ever end is gained by the white tail, whether of the ' ' recog- 
nition, " or of " signalling, " it is assuredly not served by the 
black one ; still, both birds live under the same conditions 
and are alike in general habits. 

The marked change which occurs in the character of the 
bird-life as one reaches the lower ground bordering the 
sloughs, is not heralded by a corresponding change in flora. 
The alkalinity of the water is doubtless accountable for the 
usual absence of bushes and trees about the lakes, and one 
passes from the dry and perhaps parched plains into the 
mud and water of the sloughs, with only a thickening and 
lengthening of the grass which, in the water, gives way to 
small tules. 




The birds, however, respond at once to the altered condi- 
tions, and as we approach a slough, the Chestnut-collared 
Longspur and Meadowlark alone, of our Plains birds, re- 
main common ; the former slightly increases in numbers and 
to them are added Bartram 's Sandpiper, trilling its weird 
flute-notes, while numerous Western Willets, Marbled God- 
wits, Long-billed Curlews, and Killdeer fly about one crying 

About the border of the 
sloughs, are Avocets, most 
nervous and excitable crea- 
tures, Wilson's Phalaropes, 
Soras and several species 
of shallow-water, dabbling 
Ducks ; Spoonbills, Gad- 
walls, Mallards, Pintail and 
Blue-winged Teal being the 
most abundant in the order 

In the sloughs or lake 
borders, grown with tall 
grasses and tules, the nest- 
ing birds are Western and 
Eared Grebes, Franklin's 
Gulls, Black Terns, Bed- 
heads, Canvasbacks and 
Ruddy Ducks, American 
Bitterns, flying about act- 
ively during the day, Coots, and Yellow-headed and Bed- 
winged Blackbirds (A. p. fortis). 

Finally, there are the birds of certain islands in the 
lakes, to which, according to the custom of ground-nesting 
colonial birds, White Pelicans, California and Western 
Gulls, and Common Terns, were confined, Wild Geese, as 
well as some of the slough border birds just mentioned be- 
ing, in some cases, associated with them. In this land of 

Bartram's Sandpiper on Nest 



Young Long-billed Curlew 

short grass, birds on the prairie or about the borders of the 
lakes, seemed double their real size. Pintail Ducks were 
often mistaken for Geese, while Geese when grazing, looked 
almost as large as yearlings ! 

The camper on the Plains is always confronted by the 
difficulty of finding wood and good water ; but if he can sup- 
ply his own bedding, he will generally find a home wherever 
there is a ranch. Scott's sheep ranch at Crane Lake and 
Baynton's at Big Stick Lake gave Fuertes and myself not 


only a cordial welcome but, by information and the use of 
boats and horses, material assistance in our search for 
birds. At Scott's we occupied a wool shed within a few yards 
of the corral into which two thousand sheep were driven 
nightly, while awaiting their turn in the shearing pens. The 
experience gave us a lasting conception of the vocal abilities 
of sheep and lambs, nor will we forget a certain turkey gob- 
bler who, with a regularity that an alarm clock might envy, 
and a frequency of repetition it could never hope to equal, 
made memorable the early hours of the day. We were close- 
ly associated also with numerous hens and roosters, cats and 
sheep dogs, while thirteen young Wild Geese were the tamest 
and most confiding creatures on the ranch. They were 
hatched from sets of seven and six eggs which had been 
taken from the Goose nests and placed under hens two days 
before the young appeared. On June 13, when first they 
sought our acquaintance, these goslings were about two 
weeks old. They acted as one family and were followed 
about by a solicitous Plymouth Rock hen to whom they paid 
not the slightest attention. On one occasion, possibly stimu- 
lated by contact with the water of a small puddle, they 
showed some signs of fear, diving and running in an excited, 
erratic way ; but at other times, they fed peacefully about 
the house, displaying so much confidence in man that when- 
ever they chanced to see us using a wash basin, they all at- 
tempted to occupy it at the same moment, conclusive evi- 
dence that with Geese, love of water is instinctive and fear 
of man acquired. Nevertheless, a single day with the parent 
Goose would probably have made them Wild Geese in every 
sense of the word. 

Flocks of from five or six to thirty Wild Geese were seen 
daily, but the two pairs which nested on a small grassy 
island at Scott's ranch, were the only ones known to breed ; 
and here, in spite of the fact that their eggs are always 
taken, Geese nest yearly. The island is about two hundred 
yards long and half as wide, and not more than one hundred 



and fifty yards from the shore. But this narrow strip of wa- 
ter is a sufficient protection against coyotes and, in addition 
to the Geese, about a dozen Ducks, chiefly Gadwalls, a hun- 
dred or more Common Terns and several hundred Eing-bill- 
ed and California Gulls nested there. 

The Terns ' nests were scattered one was placed in an 
old Goose nest but those of the Gulls were thickly massed 

Young Wild Geese 

at one end of the island ; the Ring-bills occupied the higher 
ground, while the California Gulls were nearer the water 
and built higher nests. The eggs of the latter species were 
apparently the first to hatch, young being observed on June 
14. These birds were far from shy and on being approached, 
merely rose in the air where, facing the wind, they hung sus- 
pended, all calling vociferously. So closely did their posi- 
tion depend on the direction of the wind that one could walk 



around the flock of clamorous birds, viewing first their 
heads then their tails, without their attempting to face the 
cause of alarm. 

The California Gulls on Shoal Lake, devoured the eggs 
deserted by White Pelicans, but neither on Crane Lake nor 
on Big Stick Lake, where another large colony was found, 

Ring-billed and California Gulls 

were the Gulls observed to prey upon the eggs of other spe- 
cies. At the latter place, they gathered the crumbs which 
fell from the Pelicans ' table and did not hesitate to drive the 
great birds from their own board. 

I did not succeed in learning to distinguish these Gulls 
by their notes alone, although there is a difference in their 
voices ; nor could I determine the significance of their var- 
ious calls, as, with head down or again with head pointed 
upward, they uttered their characteristic kow-kow-kow, or 
kee-ow. A harsh cuk-cuk-cuk appeared to be a note of alarm, 
while a call in which the syllables oo-eek, oo-eek were prom- 
inent, was more in the nature of a song. 


About the borders of the colony, the parent birds led 
their young into the lake to bathe ; both young and old 
ducking their heads into the water repeatedly, buoyantly, 
with evident joy in the performance. 

June 19, we launched a small patchwork box it could 
scarcely be called a boat at the ford on Bear Creek and 
floated down to Crane Lake. This was a thoroughly enjoy- 
able experience. The creek averages not more than twenty 
feet in width but is deep and the current bore us swiftly. 
Rose-bushes, or an occasional willow which invariably held 
the nest of a Bough-leg or Swainson's Hawk, appeared now 
and then on the banks, but for the greater part they were as 
bare as the Plains themselves. Ducks jumped, at nearly 
every turn in the creek, and there were Sharp-tailed Grouse 
in the rose-bushes, but it was not until we entered the 
marshes and tules at the mouth of the creek, that we reached 
the center of abundance of the bird-life of the region. Here 
were snowy banks of White Pelicans and the elusive West- 
ern and Eared Grebes, the former uttering their characteris- 
tic grating whistle, while to the latter we attributed a loud 
kow-kowing, singularly like that of the Pied-billed Grebe. 
Franklin's Gulls passed us on bounding, billowy flight or 
paused to circle curiously, and there were a few nervous 
Black Terns. But Ducks and Geese were the dominant spe- 
cies. The Geese, alert but dignified, watched us with necks 
upstretched and were quickly convinced of our undesirabil- 
ity. The Ducks took to the air when only their own safety 
was concerned, but where a family was involved, they flutter- 
ed painfully about, now before, now behind, and the less at- 
tention we paid to them the more they paid to us. The 
quaint, bobbing, gay little Buddy Ducks, with their rich, 
brown plumage, bright blue bills, and tails cocked forward, 
took wing only when closely pressed and then sped away in 
bumblebee-like flight into the lake. 

Their courtship is evidently conducted on the water, but 
the Gadwall pursues his mate in the air, going at full speed 


and twisting and turning with the erratic flight of a Barn 
Swallow. Besides these two Ducks, there were also Mal- 
lards, Baldpates, Blue-winged Teal, Shovellers, Pintails, 
Bedheads, Canvasbacks, Lesser Scaups, Buffleheads, Coots, 
American Bitterns and Yellow-headed and Eed-winged 

Young Gulls 

The locality and its bird-life have been well described by 
Bent and Job, who on June 17, 1905, estimated that ; ; at least 
150 pairs of Ducks were breeding or preparing to breed ' ' 
(The Auk, XXIV, 1907, p. 417), on an island of about 
four acres, which here terminates the reedy growth. 
But the following year, only three nests could be found and 
we discovered less than six. A coyote and a pair of minks 
were believed to be responsible for the decrease, but the cut- 
ting of the grass by a neighboring ranchman doubtless also 
disturbed the birds. 

I devoted my time here solely to collecting material for a 
-group of Western Grebes. The birds, their nests, eggs and 



young could be secured without difficulty, but I frankly con- 
fess that although every means I could devise was used to 
secure satisfactory photographs of the birds themselves, the 
effort failed. 

The instinct of incubation is apparently too poorly de- 
veloped to make the nest a lure, while the shyness of the 
birds, the instantaneousness with which their diving habits 
enable them to disappear, and the denseness of the tules 
among which they lived, all militated against success. What- 
ever was learned of the habits of the bird, as it was observed 
both here and on Big Stick, has been incorporated in my 
notes on this species in the preceding chapter. 

Black Terns 


Most visitors to the Canadian Rockies, who give any 
thought to the subject, leave them, I think, with the impres- 
sion that they are unusually deficient in bird-life. This be- 
lief is due, doubtless, not so much to the restrictions of the 
avifauna as to the overwhelming grandeur of the region it- 
self. The hurrying tourist, and few there are, unfortunate- 
ly, who do not hurry, is kept in a state of intense enthusiasm 
by what is probably the most impressive scenery he has ever 
beheld, and from the time he enters the mountains until he 
leaves them, his outlook never lacks a view which is not 
worthy all the homage his nature is fitted to render to it. 
Small wonder, then, that he has no time to look for birds ; 
and if he does not look for them he will not find them. 

So far as bird-life is concerned, conditions here are es- 
sentially primitive. There is a settlement at Banff, but, be- 
yond this, the Canadian Pacific railway buildings and hotels 
are almost the only evidence of man's occupation one sees 
in the mountains. These hotels, erected for the benefit of 
sight-seeing tourists, permit one to step from the train into 
the heart of the forest primeval, and find excellent accom- 
modations. There are, therefore, no orchards or stubble- 
fields, or other artificial conditions favorable to the increase 
of those birds which readily adapt themselves to the ways of 
man and thrive on his bounty. Nevertheless, many birds 
inhabit these great coniferous woods, but the height of the 
trees and density of the undergrowth afford them opportun- 
ities for concealment. They are consequently more often 
heard than seen, and if one 's ear be not attuned to their voi- 
ces, they will doubtless pass unnoticed and one will have 
missed hearing some of our best songsters, under conditions 
which would make the experience memorable. 


Burroughs long ago wrote of the ' ' serene exaltation of 
spirit ' ' occasioned by the song of the Hermit Thrush, and 
when one is already thrilled by the majesty of the snow- 
crowned mountains and awed by the grandeur of the for- 
ests, the calm, pure, heavenly hymn of the Hermit reaches 
chords in one 's nature untouched before. 

Throughout this region, the Hermit, (Hylocichla guttata 
auduboni) is a common bird, its song season lasting until 
the end of July, while the Olive-backed Thrush (Rylocichla 
ustulata subsp.), which, as a songster, is not far behind him 
in rank, is even more common. The Western Robin, which 
differs from its eastern representative only in the absence of 
white on the tips of the outer tail-feathers, a third member 
of the Thrush family, is also generally distributed and shows 
a ready disposition to abandon its forest ways for a home 
about the haunts of man. At Glacier, to this trio of 
Thrushes is added the Varied Thrush, a bird of striking ap- 
pearance and remarkable voice. As large as the Robin, the 
back is gray, the underparts rich brown, with a broad black 
band crossing the breast. The song of the Varied Thrush 
cannot be compared to that of any other bird whose notes 
are known to me. It is the song of the wind, sung by a bird ; 
a single, long-drawn, double-toned, wonderfully vibrant 
whistle of one note. When the singer is near, it rises with 
swelling resonance until the woods echo with its singular 
timbre, then dies away without once conveying a definite 
idea of the bird's whereabouts. In a moment or two it is 
repeated, now in a different key, but always with the inde- 
scribable ringing quality which makes it unique among the 
songs of American birds. He who actually sees the bird in 
the act of singing, may count himself fortunate. Indeed, in 
the forests about Glacier, the bird is at all times difficult to 
discover. Here, from July 18 to 20, 1907, we heard at least 
fifty Varied Thrushes, but did not see one. On a former vis- 
it, later in the month, they frequented the lawn before the 
hotel to gather food for their still unfledged young ; a strik- 


ing response by this elusive forest dweller to the advances 
of civilization. 

In July, 1901, on my first visit to Glacier, a pair of Barn 
Swallows, after the charming manner of their kind, were 
giving a more complete evidence of their confidence in man, 
by attempting to build a nest beneath the hotel piazza. The 
conditions, however, were evidently novel and the mud 
would not stick on the smooth face of the rafter which had 
been selected as a site. I ventured to nail up a cleat by way 
of foundation. The assistance was accepted in good part and 
the nest was completed. In 1907, I found a pair of Barn 
Swallows nesting where I had left either them or their pred- 
ecessors six years before. 

Trilling Juncos, slightly browner than the eastern bird, 
are common at the edges of the wood along the railway track 
and particularly about the stables attached to the hotels. 
With them may be found Intermediate White-crowned 
Sparrows, whose plaintive song of five notes, so singularly 
suggestive of the song of the Black-throated Green War- 
bler, is here one of the most characteristic bits of bird mu- 
sic ; and from the tangle of fallen tree-tops, the song of the 
Western Winter Wren, trickles out like the voice of a hid- 
den brook. 

At Laggan, the Fox Sparrows, singing gaily, succeeded 
as few birds can, in making dark days seem bright and 
cheerful, while from the tree-tops, the Euby-crowned King- 
let played his magic flute and the Olive-sided Flycatcher 
called his emphatic "Come up here." The Solitaire, a dis- 
tinguished figure in the list of American song birds, was not 
uncommon at Laggan, but only once did I hear the ecstatic 
carrolling which takes the bird from its feet, high above the 
tree tops. This was at timberline where the bird seemed lift- 
ed by the force of its song, not only above the trees but 
above the mountains tops, above the very earth itself. In 
July these are the leading members of the feathered 
choir in the Canadian Rockies, which it is evident, contains 



some of the most gifted songsters in America. The less-mu- 
sical or more quiet species which I have observed at this sea- 
son, include the Spotted Sandpiper, Richardson's Grouse, 
Golden Eagle, several species of Hawks, Kingfisher, Eaven, 
Canada Jay, Rocky Mountain Jay, Pine Finch, Chipping 
Sparrow, Violet-green Swallow, Bank Swallow, Yellow, Au- 
dubon's, and Golden Pileolated Warblers, Chickadee and 

" A strange, plump little figure " 

Columbian Chickadee, Arctic Bluebird, and Dipper. Of 
this anomaly among birds, this diving Thrush, I found a 
nest late in July, 1901, in a rock fissure overhanging the 
rushing waters of Fish Creek, at Glacier. It contained five 
young, nearly fledged, which the parents fed as I sat within 
a foot of their home. 

Swollen by the rapidly melting snowfields stretching 
down from Asulkan Pass, the stream dashed by with so 
great an uproar, that the human voice was inaudible from 
bank to bank, a distance of not more than twenty feet, but 


Nest of Dipper 
" In a rock fissure, overhanging the rushing waters " 

the pebbly note of the Dipper penetrated the thunder of the 
waters sharply and clearly. A strange, plump little figure 
he was, bobbing on a rock, barely above the turmoil of foam, 
his white-marked eyelid flashing with each wink. 

The young were fed on insects, doubtless larvae gathered 
from the bottom of a tributary brook, up which the birds 
flew for a fresh supply. They never crossed the land, but 
with the whirring wings of bumblebee-like flight, followed 



every bend of the main stream to leave it at right angles and 
pursue an equally water-governed course to the feeding- 

The bird-loving tourist may find all the birds mentioned, 
and many others, virtually at the door of his hotel, but this 
is not all the region has to offer him. By ascending those 
mountains which reach above timberline, here at about 7500 
feet altitude, he will enter another world with a new fauna 
and flora, leaving behind him all the forest-haunting birds, 
and finding others not one of which he has seen below. He 
will leave behind, too, the hotels and some inharmonious ele- 
ments of human life for which they are responsible. The 
morning we left Lake Louise for Ptarmigan Pass , fifteen 
miles to the north, a westbound Convention was taking pos- 
session of the place, and I have often wondered how many 
times my party of artist and guide, with our five horses, was 
photographed before we crossed the railway at Laggan. 

We forded the Pipestone, (now bankfull and flowing with 
almost force enough to take the horses off their feet), just 
above its junction with the Bow, making no doubt a fine sub- 
ject for the last of the kodak-snapping conventionists who, 
not concerned about our photographic apparatus, doubtless 
enjoyed the experience more than we did. 

Passing through the Murray pines of the river valley, we 
began the ascent to the Ptarmigan Lakes, camping that af- 
ternoon in the Engelman spruce, and Lyall's larch, at tim- 
berline, just below the mouth of Ptarmigan Pass. The view 
from this point gave a new meaning to the word ' ' indescrib- 
able. ' ' The mountains across the Bow Valley to the south 
Temple, the peaks of Moraine Lake, Hungabee, Le- 
f roy and Victoria form perhaps the most beautiful and im- 
pressive group in the Canadian Rockies. To climb them and 
explore their passes and deeply cut valleys, is a thrilling ex- 
perience, but it is like viewing a play from the stage ; to see 
this stupendous array of snow-clad peaks, one should as- 
cend the mountains to the north, in themselves comparative- 



ly insignificant, but giving a breadth of vision which brings 
the whole sublime panorama before one in a single view. 

From the bird student's standpoint, we were exception- 
ally fortunate in our choice of a camp-site. Solitaires, Her- 
mit Thrushes, Robins, Kinglets, White-crowned Sparrows, 

The Ascent to Ptarmigan Pass 

Juncos, Fox Sparrows and Audubon's Warblers, represent- 
ed the forest avifauna above our tent, but five minutes ' climb 
took us beyond their limits into the Arctic- Alpine zone. The 
change would not be more complete if one should travel 
through twenty degrees of latitude, at sea level. 

It was the height of Alpine spring. Bits of azure water 
marked openings in the ice of the more exposed lakes. The 
saturated meadows were thickly starred with buttercups. 
Anemones clustered about the borders of the rapidly shrink- 
ing snowfields, and on the rocky slopes, heath and heather, 
killikinick and Dryas, bloomed luxuriantly. 


The mercury passed below the freezing point nightly, 
skimming the newly opened water with ice ; snow, sleet and 
hail-storms raged violently if brieflly, but the flowers smiled 
bravely through the frost crystals, with not so much as a 
wilted petal to show for the experience. 

I had come to this ' ' top of the world ' ' to make studies 
and secure material for a group of Arctic- Alpine birds, not- 
ably the Eosy Snow Finch, (Leucosticte tephrocotis), and 
White-tailed Ptarmigan, (Lag opus leucurus). No birds 
could emphasize more strongly the boreal character of the 
life of these mountain summits. Snow Finches are found at 
sea-level only north of the sixty-eighth degree of latitude 
and extend southward, above timberline, in the Eockies, to 
Colorado, where they nest at 11,500 feet altitude, and in the 
Sierras, to Mount "Whitney, California, where they sum- 
mer as low as about 9500 feet. They are said not to descend 
below timberline during the summer, but we noted a striking 
exception to this rule at Lake Louise, where numbers of 
them came regularly to feed, about the forest-surrounded 
stable. They were evidently attracted by the fallen grain 
and may have learned of this supply of food during the win- 
ter when the heavy snowfall drives them to lower levels. 

The Ptarmigan is a characteristic circumpolar type which 
also finds a congenial home in comparatively low latitudes 
at correspondingly high altitudes, ranging, in the Coast 
Eange, as far south as Oregon, and in the Eockies reaching 
northern New Mexico. Its distribution is not continuous, 
there being many breaks in the Alpine portions of these 
mountain chains, such, for example, as separate the Eockies 
of Colorado from the main chain to the northward. The 
Ptarmigan of Colorado and New Mexico, therefore, cannot 
have acquired their present distribution by extension of 
range southward under existing conditions, but are evident- 
ly to be classed with the group of northern plants and ani- 
mals, which, brought south during the Glacial Period, were 
left stranded on Arctic- Alpine islands by the retreating ice. 



Still, we observe that the Ptarmigan of Colorado are the 
same as those of the Canadian Rockies, evidence that the 
birds have undergone no change since the time when their 
distribution was continuous. 

Camp at Ptarmigan Pass 
Mt. Temple to the south 

In color as well as in distribution, Ptarmigan are of ex- 
ceptional interest. The fact that they are snowy white in 
winter and mixed brown, gray and black in summer is com- 
mon knowledge, but it is not generally known that their 
plumages are even more closely adapted to seasonal condi- 
tions than the striking change from white to brownish would 
imply. Thus, in the spring, the females molt before the 
males, at times acquiring their inconspicuous nesting cos- 
tume before the male has lost a feather of his winter dress. 
In winter, both sexes are white, but in summer, the female is 
more quietly attired than the male, who retains a few white 



feathers sprinkled through the gray and brown ones he has 
lately acquired. 

The danger from attack by Falcons, Goshawks, Snowy 
Owls, and various predaceous mammals, to which the ab- 
sence of cover in their environment exposes them, requires, 

American Pipit on Nest 

however, still further adaptations. In that physiological 
cycle of events comprising the bird 's year, a complete re- 
newal of the plumage by molt is required immediately after 
the close of the breeding season, when the bird passes into 
winter plumage. If, however, the Ptarmigan should follow 
this custom, it would don its white garb before the coming of 
snow and be rendered fatally conspicuous. In defiance, 
therefore, of the laws of molt, the bird does not acquire the 
usual winter dress, but a gray supplemental or supernumer- 
ary plumage, evidently designed to carry it over the snow- 
less period, from the end of the nesting season in late July 
or early August, to the snows of September or early Octo- 



ber. This plumage appears only on the exposed portions of 
the bird 's body and is followed in October by the pure white 
winter dress. The case is one of the best arguments to be 
found among birds for the value of, and necessity for pro- 
tective coloring. 

A Pair of Ptarmigan 

I had never seen a living Ptarmigan and an unsuccess- 
ful search for them in Colorado had sharpened my already 
keen desire to meet this strongly characterized bird on its 
native heather. But the following morning, anticipations 
of finding Ptarmigan were by no means my only cause for 
exhilaration as I passed easily over the crisp snow crust, 
formed during the night. There was the inspiring, elemen- 
tal grandeur of the mountains, the grateful sense of utter 
isolation, and the primitive abundance of certain forms of 
life. Dozens of great hoary marmots, surprised at their 
root-digging, galloped back to their caves, scuttling 



over the ground until they were within diving reach of their 
own doors, when they stopped, sat up and whistled shrilly ; 
hundreds of ground squirrels piped from the meadows and, 
from the rock slides, the pika or little chief hare, uttered a 
call singularly like the sound produced by blowing on a 
blade of grass held between the thumbs. 

Ptarmigan on Snow 

Snow Finches in scattered companies, fed restlessly 
about the border of the snowfields, or gathered insects 
which had fallen on the snow itself. It was only when on the 
snow, or when while in flight they called their crossbill-like 
chuck, chuck, that they were easily observed. 

Pipits fed on the meadows, or rang the little bell of their 
flight song, from high in the air, and, finally, my willing ear 
caught a new note, a loud, high, squealing, crowing call, fol- 
lowed by a chattering, chuckling chut-chut-chut, which could 
have been uttered only by a Ptarmigan, and I was just in 
time to see two birds alight near the base of a rock slide. 
The spot was reached as quickly as the nature of the ground 



Male Ptarmigan 

" As long as he holds 
statuesque pose, he is 
lichen-covered rock " 

his rigid, 
simply a 

would permit, but no Ptarm- 
igan could be found, and if 
an additional chut had not 
given a clue they might read- 
ily have remained unseen. 

With great caution I ad- 
vanced to within about sixty 
feet, now for the first time 
seeing the female, and open- 
ed fire with a f ourteen-inch 
lens. Plates were then expos- 
ed at diminishing distances 
until I was actually within 
reach of the birds, which 
proved to be tamer than 
barnyard fowls. The first ev- 
idence they gave of being 
aware of my presence, was to remain perfectly motionless, 
then, as I made no further advance, they attempted to com- 
bine action with rigidity of pose and were almost successful 
in achieving this impossible feat. With painful slowness, one 
foot was placed in advance of the other, at the rate of about 
three steps to the min- 
ute. If I drew so near ' 
that the birds seemed 
convinced that they 
were seen, the male as- 
sumed a more alert, 
bantam - like attitude, I 

. , 

ducking his upraised 
head and flirting his tail 
as though inviting me to 

The pose of the fe- 
male was more hen- 
like, and less aggres- Male ptarmigan Walking in Water 



" The little brown bird in the heather " 
Ptarmigan Lake in the background 

sive. She showed virtually no concern when I was with- 
in three feet of her, feeding about the rocks, and even stop- 
ping to scratch her head. After an hour or two, the male 
became more accustomed to me, and seemed as much at ease 
as his mate, uttering a low, crooning note suggesting that of 
a comfortable chicken on a sunny day. 

Convinced that this female had a nest somewhere in the 
immediate vicinity and was out for an airing with her mate, 



I determined to watch them until their morning walk was 
concluded. But at the end of three hours, my artist-com- 
panion, Louis Fuertes, arrived, with news of the discovery 
not only of a Ptarmigan's nest but of that of a Pipit, also. 

I had long before exposed my last plate on the singularly 
tame birds with which I had been spending the morning, but 
sad experiences with birds' nests left until "to-morrow," 

" Almost permitted us to stroke her " 

induced me to return to camp for a fresh supply and at once 
follow my fortunate guide across a snowfield where a bear 
had preceded us the night before to be introduced to the 
little brown bird in the heather. 

No photographer ever had a more patient sitter. With- 
out audible objection, she permitted herself to be pictured 
from this side, then from that, and almost permitted us to 
stroke her as she sat on her five speckled eggs. 



But a touch broke the spell of her astonishing stillness, 
and she fluttered off a few yards only to become motionless 
again. Herein lies the secret of the invisible cloak which 
these birds wear. It is not alone their faith in it that counts. 
All ground inhabiting birds exhibit this confidence in the 

Ptarmigan on Nest 

protective value of the dull-tinted costumes to a greater or 
less degree. In the gallinaceous birds it is most highly de- 
veloped, but none, in my experience, equals the Ptarmigan. 
The mottled male, with more or less white and black in his 
plumage, might be thought a rather conspicuously marked 
bird, but as long as he holds his rigid, statuesque pose, he is 
simply a lichen-covered rock. Doubtless we passed within 
a few feet of numbers of them and were none the wiser. 

The data obtained on this, our first day's outing, was 
sufficient to insure the successful accomplishment of the ob- 
ject of our expedition. The haunting thought of failure was 



banished and the rest of our stay was occupied with the 
study of details and the collection of accessories. It was a 
journey of only five hours back to Lake Louise, but we seem- 
ed to have returned from a far country. 

Female Ptarmigan 


Pelicans are familiar to most of us as absurdly dignified, 
ungainly inhabitants of zoological gardens ; but it is perhaps 
hardly fair to judge them in an environment for which they 
are not responsible. 

While in nature we shall not find Pelicans endowed with 
that degree of intelligence and responsiveness which distin- 
guishes certain birds higher in the evolutionary scale ; they, 
nevertheless, possess their own unequalled attractions. 

However awkward White Pelicans may appear in cap- 
tivity, when on the wing, they display a superb mastery of 
the air. I know of no birds which in flocks present so 
grand a sight. TheMan- o '-War Bird is the epitome of grace 
and repose, in motion. A flock of Flamingos is thrilling, 
vivid, spectacular, but a flock of White Pelicans is indescrib- 
ably majestic and impressive. 

I recall a gathering of four or five hundred of these birds, 
which, one blustery June day, in Saskatchewan, had left the 
troubled waters of a shallow lake to rest upon the prairie. 
In the distance, en masse, they could not have been distin- 
guished from a patch of snow. As our wagon approached, 
they arose, all flapping heavily, their wing strokes strongly 
emphasized by the now exposed black flight feathers. For 
a few moments they seemed to be in confusion, but unity of 
movement was quickly developed, and the whole flock, dense- 
ly massed and gleaming with strange whiteness against the 
dark, threatening sky, moved toward the lake. 

The direction of flight seemed well established, when a 
single bird left the flock, flying at right angles to the left. 

* Although some of the observations herein recorded were not made in 
Canada, it seems desirable to include this chapter in a part of the book 
which relates to a region in which the White Pelican is probably most 


The others swept on, but they had gone only a few yards 
when one or two, then dozens and, finally the whole flock 
turned to follow. It was a fine example of acknowledged 
leadership. Then with the superb grace, power, and dignity 
which so distinguishes them when in the air, the birds, on 
set, expanded wings, began to soar, sweeping in broad cir- 
cles higher and higher, until from the snow-bank of the prai- 
ries they faded into a flurry of whirling snowflakes in the 

We must also accord to Pelicans that respectful atten- 
tion which is the due of extreme age. Pelicans became Peli- 
cans long before man became man, a study of the distribu- 
tion of the eleven existing species leading to the conclusion 
that at least as late as the latter part of the Tertiary Period, 
our White Pelican, and doubtless also other species, pre- 
sented much the same appearance that it does to-day. 

Of the eight Old World species, the one inhabiting south- 
ern Europe so closely resembles our American White Peli- 
can, that early ornithologists regarded them as identical. 
Nevertheless, the localities at which their ranges are near- 
est, are separated by some 8000 miles. Such close re- 
semblance, however, is neither an accident of birth or breed- 
ing. Pelicans did not appear independently in the two 
hemispheres. Birds so like each other and so unlike other 
existing birds, must have had a common ancestry. Common 
ancestry implies, at some time, continuity of range, and with 
the European and American White Pelicans, we may well 
believe this to have occurred in that later portion of the Ter- 
tiary Period, when a warm-temperate, or even sub- tropical 
circumpolar climate existed. At this time, the Pelican, from 
which we assume that the European and American White 
Pelicans have both descended, inhabited the shores of the 
Arctic Ocean. 

Eventually, by those climatic changes resulting from a 
continuously decreasing amount of heat, and culminating in 
the Ice Age, the individuals of this hypothetical Polar Peli- 



can, were forced southward, some in Europe, some in Amer- 
ica, but whether at the same time or not is unknown. 

Should some swing of the temperature pendulum ever 
re-establish the pre-glacial polar climate, the European and 
American Pelicans, following in the wake of an advancing 
favorable isotherm, may meet again on the shores of the Po- 
lar Sea, whether as two species or one, who can say, but in 
the meantime we look on them with special interest as but 
slightly differentiated from the bird which fished in the Arc- 
tic Ocean before, so far as we know, man appeared upon the 

The White Pelican 's congeners in America are the dist- 
antly related Brown Pelican and its southern representa- 
tive, the Chilian Pelican. Both are maritime birds of tropi- 
cal shores. The former is abundant on the Florida coast, 
and ranges northward to the Carolinas; while on the Pacific 
side, where it appears with a reddish, instead of olive pouch, 
it is found regularly as far north as San Francisco and even 
Point Reyes. Both are only one-half as heavy as the White 
Pelican, which, with a weight of sixteen pounds, a wing ex- 
panse of eight and one-half feet, and a body of greater pro- 
portions than its weight would imply, may claim to be one of 
the largest of North American birds. 

The adaptability to climatic conditions to which possibly 
the White Pelican owes its continued existence, in the face 
of changes to which doubtless many other birds have suc- 
cumbed, enables it to thrive in widely separated and totally 
unlike portions of our country. The presence of this bird in 
Saskatchewan, for example, indicates that it more closely 
approaches the home of its assumed Arctic ancestor, than is 
commonly supposed. In truth, White Pelicans go as far 
north as Great Slave Lake, at latitude 61 degrees, each year, 
though their most northern known nesting-place is Fort 
Smith in latitude 60 degrees. Nor are these the only birds 
of their kind in this region, British America, east of tin* 
Kockies, as far at least as Shoal Lake, forty miles northwest 


of Winnipeg, being their known eastern outpost. In many 
of the numberless lakes of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, an:l Al- 
berta, invariably upon islands, White Pelicans nest; a col- 
ony containing anywhere from a dozen to several thousand 

While early writers tell us that the White Pelican was at 
one time more or less frequently seen in our North Atlantic 
States, there is no record of its ever having nested east of 
the Mississippi. In western Minnesota, Pelicans nested as 
recently as 1878, and they doubtless also reared their young 
at favorable localities in the northern plains states, but the 
most eastern colony breeding in the United States to-day, is 
found in Yellowstone Park . West of the Rockies, in the 
Great Basin, there are Pelican settlements on islands in 
Utah Lake, Utah ; and in Washoe and Pyramid Lakes, Ne- 
vada, while a great number nest in Lower Klamath Lake on 
the California-Oregon line and probably also on other lakes 
of eastern Oregon. 

In California, they make their home in Eagle Lake in the 
northern Sierras, and, until it was drained in 1904, they 
nested on Kern Lake at the southern end of the San Joaquin 
Valley, and I am told that the year after its formation, a 
company of these birds took possession of an island in the 
Salton Sea. These birds, therefore, have not only establish- 
ed the most southern breeding record of their species, but 
they have also established a record of intelligence in the de- 
liberate selection of the only type of home in which it is pos- 
sible for Pelicans to rear their young. 

Conspicuous because of their size, color and gregarious- 
ness, adult Pelicans would be a shining mark for the preda- 
ceous animals of the mainland, while the fact that the young 
Pelican cannot fly until he is at least two months old, indi- 
cates how little chance he would have of reaching this age 
should his parents select a mainland home. The security af- 
forded by an island is therefore as essential to the 
continued existence of the Pelican as it is to other 


colonial, ground-nesting birds. It has, however, always 
been my belief that such island colonies were not the result 
of an actual, denmte selection but that they were formed 
cumulatively, tniougn the instinctive return of tne young to 
the place of birth in which their parents had chanced to 
settle ; while those birds which took up their abode on the 
mainland, were either themselves destroyed or, in any event, 
never succeeded in rearing their young. But the birds 
which are reported to have occupied this newly formed 
island in the Salton Sea, showed their evident appreciation 
of the desirability of an insular home, and in Saskatchewan 
I found evidence of this same type of intelligence. 

In the summer, therefore, the White Pelican is an inhab- 
itant of fresh water lakes and the latitude to which it has ex- 
tended its range, shows that it has reacquired some of the 
territory it was forced to abandon during the maximum de- 
velopment of the Glacial Period. 

In the winter, however, the White Pelican is chiefly a 
dweller on salt water. Some individuals spend this season 
in the lakes of the Mexican tableland. The greater number, 
however, winter along the coasts of southern California 
and particularly in the Gulf of California at the mouth of 
the Colorado south to Guatemala; they are also found 
along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, from the mouth of 
the Mississippi south to Mexico on the west side, and to 
Cape Sable, at the extreme tip of Florida, on the east side. 
On the east coast of Florida, it is a singular fact that White 
Pelicans appear to spend the winter only in the Mosquito 
Lagoon. On one occasion, I saw three of these birds pass- 
ing up the coast at Palm Beach, presumably en route to the 
one spot on the Atlantic seaboard which they are now known 
regularly to frequent. 

In the commonly accepted meaning of the word, the 
White Pelican is not a game bird. Its flesh is useless for 
food, and it will neither ' ; flush ' ' nor ' ' stool ; ' ' but I can 
commend it to the camera hunter as a quarry in every way 


worthy of his most ardent endeavor ; while to the ornithol- 
ogist, it goes without saying, it is species of exceptional in- 
terest. When, therefore, I add that my own pursuit of this 
splendid bird has been made in the dual role of naturalist 
and photographer, it may be imagined that a chase which 
has covered parts of a period of six years has brought me no 
small amount of pleasure and, I may add, at times a corre- 
sponding measure of disappointment. Eventually, how- 
ever, I reaped the reward which generally comes to most of 
us if we are given enough time in which to try for it. 

My first visit to the home of the White Pelican resulted 
disastrously for the bird and bade fair to end my experien- 
ces with its kind in the first chapter. It was on Shoal Lake, a 
treacherous bit of water, some thirty miles long, lying be- 
tween lakes Winnipeg and Manitoba. While encamped on 
its shores, during June, 1901, 1 was led to believe that White 
Pelicans seen daily were nesting on a small bar or ' * reef ' ' 
reported to exist five or six miles out in the lake, too far to be 
visible from land. The only boat available was a punt, hard- 
ly large enough for two passengers, and designed to push 
around in the quill reeds, which grow densely at the border 
of the lake. It was long past the age when retirement from 
service was its too obviously withheld due, but the lure of 
the great white birds minified its defects ; the voyage was 
made, the island reached and the birds found. 

I had now no doubt of the success of my attempt to pho- 
tograph these before unpictured creatures, and to study 
their habits under unique conditions. A group containing 
six of the twenty-seven nests on the islet was selected, and 
an umbrella blind was concealed in a small patch of reeds 
growing in a foot or two of water. I entered it, focussed my 
camera on the nearest nests, on which in imagination the 
birds were already sitting, and waited. At the end of an hour 
the birds returned, wheeled over the island at a considerable 
height, evidently took in the situation and disappeared to 
return no more. 



In the meantime a storm which on shore occasioned both 
loss of life and property, developed, and we found it impos- 
sible to leave the island. A tent-fly, brought for such an 
emergency, was rigged over a pole supported at one end by 
a camera tripod and at the other by crossed oars, and my 
boatman and I passed the night clinging to this pole to pre- 
vent our shelter from being blown into the lake. 

" A tent-fly .... supported at one end by a camera tripod " 

A Pelican 's nest of heaped up sand and pebbles offered 
the only seat not under water and, after removing the three 
eggs it contained to another nest, I gratefully occupied it, 
with thanks to the bird whose instinct had prompted it to 
build a home so far above water level. 

Toward morning the thunder and lightning ceased and 
the rain showed less resemblance to a deluge, but the head 
wind continued. We could not induce a fire to burn and we 


were not provisioned for a siege, but before the situation be- 
came unpleasant, the wind fell, shifted in our favor, and we 
reached the mainland to the no small relief of those await- 
ing us. 

Nine days later, I made the trip again, but only to find 
that the Pelicans' eggs had been eaten, doubtless by Gulls, 
six pairs of which were also nesting on the island. The ex- 
perience was not only thoroughly disappointing, but sadly 

Pelican's Nest, Shoal LSKC 

enough it induced three young ornithologists to venture to 
the same "reef" two years later in search of Pelicans' eggs. 
Less fortunate than we were, they encountered one of the 
violent storms so characteristic of the region, and when 
still far from the islet their boat filled, and two of them were 

The change from the mosquito-infested sloughs and lakes 
on the prairies of showery Manitoba to the desert sage- 
brush, and mountains of arid Nevada i,s so great that but 
few birds are common to both regions. Pelicans, however, 


ask only for fish and an island remote from man. It matters 
not, apparently, whether the island be baked in the torrid 
heat of the Salton Desert or cooled by the sub-arctic breezes 
of Great Slave Lake, or whether the fish are the tasteless pick- 
erel of muddy Shoal Lake, or the delicately flavored trout of 
sparkling Pyramid Lake, whose praises Fremont sang when 
long ago he made this beautiful sheet of water known to the 
world. Insular seclusion and food are the requisites, and 
these are found in so marked a degree on Anahao Island and 
in the surrounding waters of Pyramid Lake, Nevada, that 
the largest known colony of White Pelicans exists there. 

In Pelican annals, this is historic ground. Here, in May, 
1868, Eobert Eidgway, while naturalist of Clarence King's 
Survey of the fortieth parallel, found White Pelicans nest- 
ing in great numbers and added much to our then scanty 
knowledge of this species; particularly in regard to the 
shedding of the horny keel-like knob which appears on the 
upper mandible of the Pelican prior to the nesting season 
and is shed after the eggs are laid. 

The Shoal Lake experience whetted my appetite for Pel 
icans, and Ridgway's published report, induced me to lay 
plans for Pyramid Lake as possibly still a resort of this 
wary species. They matured in July, 1903. On the sixth of 
that month, with Dr. C. Hart Merriam, Louis Fuertes, and 
two other naturalists, I drove from Wadsworth, forty miles 
north over the sage plains and under the great cottonwoods 
which border the Truckee, to a small road house half-way 
up the western side of the lake. The whole region is con- 
tained in the Piute Indian Reservation and, beyond the 
houses at the agency near the southern end of the lake, this 
road house was the only one seen occupied by a white man. 

Pyramid Lake is a marvelously beautiful body of water. 
It is surrounded by treeless mountains, whose strongly mod- 
elled contours mirror the purple shadows of the illusively 
clear desert air, and emphasize the atmospheric effects over 
and beyond the lake's ultramarine waters. 



The lake is thirty miles long, and ten miles wide, oppo- 
site our lodging. When we reached its shores, a storm which 
had forced our one hundred and twenty-five foot steamer on 
Lake Tahoe to abandon part of her trip, was still raging. 
Long, curling, crested waves came rolling in, to break on the 
beach in a manner creditable to the sea shore. We looked at 
the troubled waters, at the roughly made, flat-bottomed 
punts, the only available boats, and at Anahao, the assumed 
island home of the Pelicans, seven miles from our shore 
and decided to wait. 

Young Pelicans, Anahao Island 

The Indians assured us that if we did succeed in reach- 
ing the island we would certainly be killed by rattlesnakes, 
and the long anticipated meeting with Pelicans seemed 
somehow to IOK-? much of its charm. Incidentally it may be 
remarked that in the end we found abundant ground for the 
Indians ' statement. But the next day, the wind had gone, 
the lake smiled in the sunlight, our apprehension decreased, 
our desires increased, and early the following morning, pro- 
visioned for a stay if need be, we embarked in three boats 
and, after nearly three hours rowing, reached the island. It 


is somewhat over a mile long, and half a mile wide ; with a 
central mass of tufa, some five hundred feet high, fringed 
by fallen rock. As yet we had seen no Pelicans on it, but, 
when climbing a rocky divide I looked over into a snowy 
mass of them, my exultation could be measured only by the 
time and trouble the journey to my view-point had required. 

Anahao is too big to be seen at a glance, however, and 
during the day when we completely covered it, eight distinct 
colonies of Pelicans were found, containing in all, 4000 
young Pelicans and one hundred and eighty-nine eggs. The 
young ranged in age from those just hatching to others 
which were befirinnins: to acquire their wing-feathers. Gen- 
erally speakinsr, all the young of one colony were approxi- 
mately the same age ; suggesting that the various groups 
formed quite distinctive villages, and conducted their af- 
fairs wholly independent of one another. 

As I went from colony to colony and the old birds desert- 
ed their younar to flv out of sight up the lake, I began to rea- 
lize that it is one thine to reach a Pelican settlement and 
onite another to learn something of the ways of its inhabit- 
ants. In vain T crawled into crevices in the rocks or hid mv- 
self in caves, the adult birds would reconnoitre the srrounr! in 
some instances, but would not return to their homes and in 
the end T left with onlv such information as could be s-afher- 
erl from casual observation of the vonnsr and their nests. 

The latter were slisrhtlv heaped mounds of dirt and reh- 
bles. hollowed at the top. much like the nests found on Shoal 
Lake. The vonnsr. when hatched, are ruddv flesh oolor 
practicallv naked. ^Tiortlv after birth, a snowv white 
appears, which almost completelv covers the body when fhev 
are between two and three weeks old. Unlike the Brown 
Pelican, they are comparativelv silent, their only note beins p 
a low, coughing, whining grunt. Their appearance is far 
from prepossessing, and is not improved by their habit of 
greeting visitors with wide open mouth and snapping bill. 

The desertion of the young, without regard to age, by 


the parents, indicates a surprising lack of parental solici- 
tude. Had the old birds shown half the spirit of a Catbird 
or Robin, an invasion of their homes would have been a ser- 
ious affair ; but their haste to make good their own escape 
gave us no opportunity to cultivate their acquaintance. It 
was observed, however, that no birds still wore the knob on 
the bill, while the number of these appendages scattered 
about the island showed that many had been shed. 

Our discovery of eight colonies or settlements of Peli- 
cans on Anahao Island, where Eidgway found but one, indi- 
cates an increase in the Pelican population during a period 
when most of the larger birds of America have diminished 
in numbers. White Pelicans, which invariably vanish when 
man appears, have evidently, therefore, found a congenial 
retreat on Pyramid Lake, and in view of the remoteness and 
aridity of the region, one might imagine that they will long 
continue to exist there without molestation. But, alas ! civi- 
lization in a form most fatal to certain species of birds, is 
undermining their stronghold. 

Aside from local drainage, the Truckee River is the sole 
water supply of Pyramid Lake and its sister, Winnemucca 
Lake. A Government Reclamation Service Project, already 
well advanced, taps the Truckee on its way from Lake 
Tahoe down the eastern slope of the Sierras, in order to 
irrigate the Carson Valley. So much water will be taken 
that only enough will be left to supply one of the two lakes 
the Truckee feeds. Winnemucca is the fortunate one 
while beautiful Pyramid Lake is doomed to slow death by 
evaporation. As increasing alkalinity kills the delicious 
trout which now abound in it, the Pelicans will be robbed of 
their food. For a time they may fish in Winnemucca, but 
eventually the shoaling waters will connect their island with 
the mainland, and when the requisite insular protection dis- 
appears, the Pelicans must seek another island home. 

Sadly enough, the same fate awaits the Pelicans which 
three years later (June 30- July 7, 1907), I visited on Lower 


Klamath Lake, in southeastern Oregon, on the California 
line. Here their island homes are made by matted rafts of 
of tule reeds, often acres in extent. The eggs are laid on 
the thick beds of fallen reeds with little or no attempt at 
nest-building. The immediate surroundings differ radi- 
cally from those which prevail on Anahao Island, but the 
prime essentials of insulation and fish being present, other 
details are of minor importance. 

The Government Eeclamation Service has condemned 
this lake, not because its waters are required, but because 
they are useless or, from a strictly utilitarian view, worse 
than useless. When the project, now being developed, is 
completed, they will have disappeared down the Klamath 
River and 260,000 acres of tillable land will have taken their 
place. The reed islands will strand in the mud, the tules 
will wither and alfalfa flourish in their place, the birds, like 
other indigenes, will find that the Government Land Office 
does not recognize a claim to ownership based only on 
priority of occupation, and, with their relatives of Pyramid 
Lake, they must search for a new country. Doubtless for a 
time, the peculiar conditions they require, will be available, 
but later they will surely be forced to migrate again, and 
eventually they will doubtless have to pay the penalty of all 
forms of life which cannot exist in contact with man. 

The passing of so distinguished a bird occasions a regret 
only slightly tempered by the knowledge that the haunts 
from which they have been driven will, in due season, 
become the home of those smaller, more adaptable species 
to which civilization means an increasing abundance of food 
and a decreasing number of enemies. 

Fifteen different groups of Pelicans, each containing 
from a score to several hundred birds, were found nesting 
on the rush islands of Klamath Lake. The tules growing 
about the borders of the matted open spaces they occupied, 
afforded concealment for my blind and from it I finally saw 
something of the Pelicans ' home-life at comparatively short 



range. Although my blind had been placed in position the 
day before, and was visible only as a denser growth in the 
tides, it was sometime after I entered it before the birds 
ventured to return to their down covered young, huddled in 
the reed beds. Some came by air, alighting with a resound- 
ing -fluff --fluff of their eight-feet of wing-spread ; others, like 

Alert with head erect 

stately ships, sailed into port at a regularly frequented 
landing place, but all came with much caution. My slightest 
movement, although unseen, appeared to alarm them ; they 
seemed to feel my presence. The faint click of the camera 
shutter, sixty feet distant, placed them on the alert with 
head erect, and this pose was sufficient to induce birds about 
to land to turn quickly about and swim back into the lake. 

Finally, they became more at ease and in response to the 
whining grunts of their offspring, opened their great bills, 
down which the young at once plunged their heads and 
necks in search of the fish at the bottom of the parental 
pouch, where the young birds would prod vigorously about 
for more than a minute, the parent submitting patiently. I 
never saw but one fed at a time (the Brown Pelican may 


feed three!) and on emerging, the young bird showed none 
of the signs of exhaustion which follow the young Brown 
Pelican's similar efforts at fish-getting. In the confusion 
occasioned by my coming, the young Pelicans had deserted 
their nests or home-sites, and become to my eyes, hopeless 
ly mixed in one compact wriggling mass ; but the parent 
birds evidently had no difficulty in recognizing the members 
of their own family, and established their claims without 
those evidences of excitement and petty quarreling so char- 
acteristic of the more nervous Gulls and Terns nearby. 
Their only note was a deep-voiced, not loud, murmuring 

The adult birds had all lost the bill-knobs and white 
nuchal crest of the nuptial season, and the latter was re- 
placed by the singular black or grayish patch which is not 
acquired until the breeding season is well advanced and is 
lost as soon as it is over. 

It is unnecessary to set down here all the details of the 
studies made on this occasion, but one exhibition of wing- 
power which these unusually stolid birds gave me should 
not be omitted. Pelicans mount in broad spirals to the 
upper air not only to escape from danger below, but evi- 
dently for the exhilaration of the exercise ; generally, there- 
fore, numbers could be seen sailing serenely about, far over 
head. On the afternoon in question a thunder storm devel- 
oped rapidly, the sky became ominously black and threaten- 
ing, and a strong wind whipped the tules into a rustling, 
troubled sea of green. This atmospheric disturbance acted 
upon the soaring birds in a remarkable manner, stimulating 
them to perform aerial feats of which I had no idea they 
were capable. They dived from the heavens like winged 
meteors, the roar of the air through their stiff pinions 
sounding as though they had torn great rents in the sky. 
Approaching the earth they checked their descent by an up 
shoot and then with amazing agility zig-zagged over the 
marsh, darting here and there like Swallows after insects. 



Having now secured the requisite data, specimens and 
photographs on which to base a group of White Pelicans, I 
abandoned their pursuit. The following season, however, 
brought me an exceptional opportunity to resume my study 
of these shy birds. 

Pelican Scratching its Neck 

In southern Saskatchewan, whither I had gone for Wild 
Geese and Grebes, I learned that the White Pelicans which 
pass through the region to more northern existing resorts, 
had this year remained to nest in large numbers. An unus- 
ually late spring, and an abnormal supply of fish supplied by 
damming a stream which flowed into the lake, were evidently 
the incentives which had induced the birds to remain south 
of their regular nesting limit. 

At least 3000 birds settled on a small mud- bar in Big 
Stick Lake. A few pairs of Pelicans had been known to nest 
here before, but there was no record of such a snowy gather- 
ing as made the bar conspicuously white at a distance of 

V /''.'* \ 


two miles. Few pebbles and no reed-beds were available 
for nesting material and most of the birds used weed-stalks, 
some building a not discreditable nest, while a few found 
pebbles, and others used merely a depression in the ground. 
The nearby mainland offered far better nesting facilities, 
but it is worthy of note that although uninspired by love of 
home, not one bird failed to respond to its island-haunting 

On June 10, 1907, 1 drove out to this island, a method of 
transportation* infinitely preferable to those employed on 
Shoal and Pyramid Lakes, though a mud-hole into which 
horses and wagon threatened to disappear, seemed to reveal 
a far better reason for the lake 's name than the big stick of 
timber on which it is based. The young birds were just 
appearing. Knowing that exposure to the sun at this ten- 
der f eatherless stage is fatal, I retired from the island at 
once, leaving behind a dummy blind. At this stage of the 
nesting season, a bird 's parental instinct reaches its highest 
development and even the undemonstrative Pelicans left 
their nests with reluctance. Subsequently, however, I came 
to the conclusion that their comparative tameness could pos- 
sibly be attributed to the fact that the region in which they 
were accustomed to nest, was so remote from man that, hav- 
ing never been disturbed at this season, they had not learn- 
ed to fear him. 

Returning June 26, 1 found the young sufficiently well 
clad with down not to require the shelter of the parental 
breast. The dummy blind was replaced by the actual one, 
my assistant departed and I was left to enjoy a vividly 
interesting and exciting experience. The parent birds 
settled on the lake and swam in stately silence about the 
islet. Slowly they came nearer, and with great caution made 
landings here and there, advancing from all sides toward 
the nests which surrounded me. At a fancied cause of 
alarm, with great flapping they all took wing and in due 
time the whole proceeding was repeated. But finally they 


ventured to within twenty feet of me. As they became more 
confident, the low, deep murmur of their voices increased in 
volume, and seemed singularly conversational. 

The struggling mass of young birds which had retreated 
from me was slowly disentangled. Some were pulled at 
with the bill, some were fed, and gradually peace and order 
were restored ; but at all times the blind was as closely 
watched as a suspicious character. At last my opportunity 
had come, and with note-book and camera, I worked as 
effectively as the fascination of my position permitted, 
observing definitely many things half seen before and 
others before unknown, and securing a series of unique pic- 
tures recording a phase of bird-life which the ornithologists 
of a succeeding generation will doubtless examine with the 
interest that we would give to photographs of a Great Auk 


Walking Past the Blind 

Only Government intervention will save the great bird 
settlements of this plains region. The emigrants who are 
pouring into it, confronted by primitive conditions, meet the 
demands of the moment without thought of the future. A 



ranchman whom I met, thought that when the young birds 
were large enough, the Pelican inhabited island would be an 
excellent place in which to fatten his hogs ! 

It is, therefore, greatly to be hoped that the Canadian 
Government will, without delay, set aside as bird reserva- 
tions, at least those islands which it still possesses, having 
an area of a quarter section or less. The amount of land 
thus preserved would, in the aggregate, be small, but when 
we recall the numbers of birds which nest only on islands, it 
is obvious that the benefits to be derived from such an act 
would be incalculable. 

Young Brown Pelican 


Selborne from the Hanger 


Next to our native birds, there are probably none of 
more general interest to the average American nature- 
lover than the birds of England. Personally, I confess that 
my desire to see and hear the Nightingale, Skylark, Black- 
bird, Redbreast, and other characteristic English species, 
in their haunts, has been more intense than that which has 
led me to the distant homes of tropical birds. I say ' ' in 
their haunts," with emphasis, for I have at times with diffi- 
culty avoided hearing these birds in cages; an unfortunate 
enough experience in itself, and one which, having long in 
mind a pilgrimage to their home, would have deprived a 
first impression of half its force. 

This longing to meet English birds at home is in part 
due to the fact that they live in England, in part to the place 
they occupy in English literature, and in part to a desire to 
compare them with our own birds. 

A meeting with the same birds in France or Germany 
would not possess half the charm of an initial acquaintance 
in England. Nearly, if not all, that we know and have read 
of English birds, leads us to associate them with pastoral 
England, with copse and hedgerow, down and moor; with 
thatched roof and gray spire. For these attractive mental 
pictures, we have to thank Wordsworth, Shelley, Coleridge, 
Cowper, and other makers of English literature, to whose 
influence we must largely attribute the widespread interest 
in English birds, which, until recently, at least, have been 
better known by name to most Americans than have been 
our commonest native species. 

So far as birds are concerned, however, the poets can 
only stimulate our desires without gratifying them, and the 
comparison of English birds with ours is obviously out of 
the question until one has seen and heard both. Even then 


it cannot be fairly made by either an American or English- 
man. This is not a matter of prejudice, but of experience. 
A bird's song is not to be judged as a musical composition. 
It is an expression of nature and its significance is to be 
measured by its associations. 

No Englishman can read Lowell's 

" The Bobolink has come, and like the soul 
Of a sweet season vocal in a bird, 
Gurgles in ecstasy we know not what 
Save June ! Dear June ! now God be praised for June." 

with the appreciation of the American who has grown up 
with the Bobolink. Nor can Wordsworth's lines, 

" O blithe new comer ! I have heard, 
I hear thee and rejoice. 
O Cuckoo ! Shall I call thee bird 
Or but a wandering voice?" 

bring to the American that sense of returning spring which 
they doubtless convey to the Englishman. 

The poets may, however, arouse the longing to see the 
scenes and hear the birds which have inspired them and it 
was with feelings of the keenest anticipation that I steamed 
up St. George 's Channel with the unexpectedly mountainous 
coast of Ireland breaking the horizon to the west. A House 
Martin, which had boarded the steamer in latitude 48, 
longitude 29, when we were still nearly 1000 miles from 
land ; and a pair of Wheatears and a Curlew which came 
aboard 140 miles from Fastnet Light, had given us a sur- 
prisingly early glimpse of British birds, and we were now 
convoyed by a fleet of hungry Grulls which had joined us in 
Queenstown harbor. 

As we approached the coast of Wales, we encountered 
small companies of Murres and Puffins, which nest in cer- 
tain small rocky islets or "stacks" off the neighboring 
shore. To the ornithologist, the presence of these boreal 
birds at this season, (May 25), was convincing evidence of 


high latitude, and, at the same time, an admirable illustra- 
tion of the faunally composite character of English bird- 
life ; types we are accustomed to consider representative of 
northern and southern life-zones finding in England con- 
genial surroundings. 

" A Curlew which came aboard " 

Scarce a week now remained of the Nightingale's song 
season, and a meeting with this most famous of feathered 
musicians was made the first object of my ornithological 
pilgrimage. The Nightingale is a bird of southern England, 
and without loss of time we passed through Liverpool into 
England, the England of the poets and birds, bound for 
London to meet correspondents with news of the most ac- 
cessible, singing Nightingales. 

Looking back over many thousands of miles of railway 
travel, I do not recall a more interesting journey than those 
four hours between Liverpool and London, which gave me 
my first views of English country and, incidentally, of many 
English birds. Pictures, which are generally of exception- 
al, rather than of typical scenes, and descriptions, I found 


(and subsequent experience confirmed the opinion), had 
alike failed to convey a true impression of rural England. 

I had been told, England was like a great park but I 
found it a farm, and a farm with a surprisingly large 
acreage in pasture land. The hedge rows, too, contained 
more large trees, and indeed the whole country was more 
wooded than I had expected to find it. But grass and graz- 
ing herds are assuredly more attractive than the best-kept 
cabbage or turnip fields, and trees are a glory anywhere. In 
short, therefore, I found the English country less groomed 
and just that much more attractive than I had anticipated. 

Rooks, Starlings, Swallows, Swifts, Skylarks, Black- 
birds, Thrushes, and Lapwing Plovers were the common 
birds seen from the train, the latter furnishing a brand new 
sensation in bird-life. The bird 's size, form, and colors, its 
grace of carriage on the ground and dashing, erratic, aerial 
evolutions, give it high rank as an attractive part of any 
avifauna ; while its abundance, in spite of the demand which 
places thousands of its eggs on the market annually, is in- 

Reaching London, connections were at once established 
with the the correspondents who were to present me at the 
court of the Nightingale. Singing birds were reported from 
Surrey and also from Cambridge, and almost before I real- 
ized I was in England I found myself at nightfall in quiet 
Surrey by-ways listening for the 

" Sweet bird that shunn'st the noise of folly." 

and in time the notes of not only one, but of three birds rang 
out in silvery clearness against the background of the night. 
They sang for hours. I heard them when they seemed with- 
in reach ; and with almost equal distinctness, when I had 
gone to my hedge-enclosed home a quarter of a mile across 
the valley. They were said to be good singers, and I ex- 
ulted in the completeness of this long-anticipated exper- 

The Nightingale 's song was, of course, unlike my precon- 


ceived idea of it. I had expected a rushing outpouring of 
music, but I found a more deliberate song of disconnected 
phrases of from three to five seconds' length each, followed 
by pauses of almost equal duration. 

" The Nightingale, in transport, seemed to fling 
His warble out, and then sit listening." 

Occasionally a more prolonged strain was given, but, as 
a whole, the song lacked the force, crescendo and diminuen- 
do effects of a continuous effort. It is a surprisingly loud 
song, in tone a decided whistle ; a wonderfully voluble, var- 
ied, but rather hard performance. At times, a measure or 
two suggested portions of the song of our nocturnal singer, 
the Chat, and again some of the more rapid calls reminded 
one of certain notes of the Carolina Wren, but as a whole we 
have no bird whose song resembles that of the Nightingale. 

Two days later, at Cambridge, hearing a Nightingale 
singing in the afternoon, when its voice formed merely a 
part of the spring-time chorus, I was impressed alike with 
the part the bird 's nocturnal habits have played in establish- 
ing its reputation as a songster and with the characteristic 
insight displayed in Shakespeare's lines: 

"The Nightingale, if she should sing by day 
When every Goose is cackling, would be thought 
No better a musician than the Wren." 

At Cambridge, I was the guest of an English ornitholo- 
gist whose home, with its surrounding acres on the Cam, af- 
forded opportunities for making the acquaintance of Eng- 
lish birds under exceptionally favorable conditions. Not 
only could I roam where I pleased, unquestioned, but the 
quiet, pastoral beauty of the meadows, hedge-rows, fens and 
winding river combined with perfect weather to make a 
flawless setting for my initial impressions of English bird- 

Here, on May 27-29, beside the Nightingale, I met the 
Song and Missel Thrushes, Blackbird, Skylark, Rook, Jack- 
daw, Starling, Cuckoo, Chaffinch, Eobin Redbreast, Linnet, 
Wood Pigeon, Turtle-Dove, Corn Crake, Moorhen all 



birds whose names are familiar to every English-speaking 
person and other less-known species, thirty-six in all. 

. While the same amount of time, at a corresponding sea- 
son, anywhere in the eastern United States would have 
yielded possibly from twenty to thirty species more, individ- 
ually, the English birds would outnumber ours by at least 
two to one. 


The Cam at Ditton Corner 

Judged by the volume of its contribution to the chorus 
of bird music, the Song Thrush was at this time the most 
conspicuous bird. In general habits and economy, it may 
be compared to our Eobin, which it appears to equal in num- 
bers. Its song, however, is a finer performance than that of 
the American bird. It suggests that of the Brown Thrasher, 
but, while it possesses greater variety and brilliancy, it is 
without the deliberate rhythmic phrasing, and lacks the rich- 
ness and volume which characterize the song of that bird. 


Next to the Song Thrush, and in some places equalling it 
in numbers, was the Blackbird, a Thrush duplicating our 
-ttobin in size and form but with jet black plumage and a 
golden bill, and more trim and alert in appearance. To my 
ear tne JblacKbird is the most satisfying of English songs- 
ters, its luscious, f uli-navored, mellow fluting has, in a 
measure, the tender, spiritual quality so pronounced in the 
voices of our Thrusnes, and which 1 found rare in the songs 
of English birds. There is, too, something naive, unformed^ 
quaint and simple in the Blackbird's notes, which increases 
both the attractiveness of the song and of the- songster. 

The Missel Thrush, the third of the trio of common 
breeding Thrushes, was now feeding nearly fledged young 
and had ceased singing, an indication of how much earlier 
passerine birds nest in England than in our middle eastern 

In spite of an effort not to use preconceived ideals as a 
standard for the actual thing, 1 could not conceal from my- 
self a disappointment in the song of the ISkylark. While 
one cannot but be impressed with the passionate energy 
which carries the bird hundreds of feet into the air, there to 
sing, without a moment's pause, for sometimes ten or 
twelve minutes, I felt that the bird would sing better if he 
did not sing so much. He sings both when exhaling and in- 
haling, and seems often to be out of breath. The result is a 
marvelous vocal feat surely, but the bird 's brilliant twitter- 
ings and long-drawn reelings (I could think of no better 
word with which to describe a marked character of its song) 
did not appeal to me. 

But one can readily imagine that the song of this exceed- 
ingly abundant and widely distributed bird might become 

" Better than all measures 

Of delightful sound, 
Better than all treasures 
That in 'hooks are found," 

and before leaving England I found myself listening to it 
with increasing pleasure. 


The singular charm of the Cuckoo 's simple, double-noted 
call, however, I at once acknowledged. Even when one hears 
it for the first time, it seems to voice the deeper joys of the 
life out-of-doors. 

" Each thing to its own depth was stirred, 
Leaf, flower, and heaven's moving cloud." 

There is a certain quality in the bird 's call which ap- 
peals to the ear much as the peacef ulness of pastoral scen- 
ery affects the eye. The two-syllabled song of our own Bob- 
white, though quite unlike, and far cheerier than that of the 
Cuckoo, has this same power of expressing the purity and 
joyous serenity of a life near to nature. The Cuckoo, al- 
though it calls when flying, is far more often heard than 
seen, and I found, as a rule, that English birds were much 
shyer and more difficult to observe than ours, though I am 
wholly at a loss to account for this apparent difference. The 
Song Thrush and Eedbreast were, however, exceptions. 

As a familiar doorstep bird, one would expect the Eed- 
breast to utter some homely little lay, resembling, for exam- 
ple, that of our Chipping Sparrow. But, on the contrary, its 
shrill, winding pipe and detached fragments of song seemed 
to me indicative of the wildness and restlessness which char- 
acterize some of the notes of the Purple Finch. The Eed- 
breast sings throughout the greater part of the year and it 
is evident that one should hear its song during the compara- 
tively silent winter season if one would understand the place 
it holds in English literature and in the hearts of the Eng- 
lish people. 

The House, or as we miscall it, the ' * English ' ' Sparrow, 
claims with the Eedbreast the privilege of doorstep bounty, 
but I noted with satisfaction that he is no more a favorite at 
home than he is in the country of his enforced adoption. The 
Englishman, however, does not regard the bird with the re- 
sentment of the American. It is a natural part of his avi- 
fauna and he is not responsible for its presence. We, on the 
other hand, might have avoided a feathered race-problem 
which each year becomes more serious : and it is this knowl- 


edge of our short-sightedness that increases our irritation. 

The abundance of this omnipresent pest does not atone 
for the comparatively limited number of f ringilline birds in 
England. Where she has eighteen species of regular occur- 
rence, we have, in a much smaller area in the east, over thir- 
ty. The decrease in numbers of the Bullfinch and Goldfinch, 
due to persistent trapping, leaves the Chaffinch as the best 
dressed, most musical bird among the common members of 
this family. One cannot wander far along an English hedge- 
row without hearing the clear, metallic clink-clink of this 
tastefully attired species. Its song is a bright if not highly 
melodious bit of bird-music ; a series of rather beady, hur- 
ried, loud notes with a wren-like trill included between its 
slower opening and closing bars. 

English Swallows are much like ours. Their Hirundo 
rustica is almost the counterpart of our Barn Swallow, their 
House Martin recalls our Tree Swallow, though the birds 
differ widely in nesting habits, while their Sand Martin is in 
fact our Bank Swallow, the only breeding British land bird 
absolutely identical with its American representative. 

The English Swift, however, is a larger, and more strik- 
ing bird than ours, its forked tail adding greatly to its ap- 
pearance in the air ; but its loud, squealing notes are no more 
musical than the chattering twitter of our bird. 

England has no Icterine birds, no Orioles, Grackles, or 
Blackbirds, as we term them, but in place of the latter there 
is the Starling, one of the most abundant, if not the most 
abundant British bird. One sees it everywhere and as early 
as June, small flocks of young and old birds were observed, 
the nuclei of those enormous gatherings which have been 
pronounced ' ' one of the finest sights that bird-life presents 
in England. ' ' 

The descendants of Starlings introduced into Central 
Park, New York City, in 1890 now number thousands and in 
view of the bird's increasing abundance, I attempted to 
learn its economic status in England ; but in default of pro- 


longed study of its food habits at all seasons, no satisfac- 
tory, conclusive opinion of its relations to man can be 

The surprising abundance of Eooks, which were every- 
where almost as numerous as are our Crows in southern 
New Jersey in winter, also raised the question of the posi- 
tion they held in regard to the agricultural industries of the 
country, but again in the absence of data, no definite answer 
could be obtained. 

There can be no doubt of the importance of the place 
(Starlings and liooks occupy in an English landscape. Both 
are resident throughout the year and in the winter their con- 
spicuousness is doubtless increased. 

While the English Turtle-Dove may be compared to our 
Mourning Dove, we have nothing, in eastern North Amer- 
ica, at least, to take the place of the splendid Wood Pigeon. 
To an American, the abundance, general distribution, and in 
places, tameness of so large and, doubtless, so edible a bird, 
is astonishing. 

They were common wherever the country was at all 
wooded, and in some of the parks of London, and other 
cities, they were seen walking about on the lawns as much at 
home as were their dovecote relatives. It follows, then, that 
the loud, throaty coo-er-coo, coo-coo of this species and the 
purring notes of the Turtle-Dove were rarely wanting from 
any chorus of English bird song. 

Even more surprising than the abundance of the Wood 
Pigeon was the number of Moorhens observed. The bird is 
almost a duplicate of our Florida Gallinule but I cannot con- 
ceive it possible for the latter species to exist in this country 
under conditions which the English bird finds favorable. 
Every reedy pond and puddle has one or more pairs, they 
are common in rivers when there is sufficient bordering vege- 
tation to give concealment, and they nest regularly in one of 
London's most frequented parks. 

While it is perhaps natural and desirable that the poets 


should write of scenes and sounds which circumstances ren- 
der most characteristic and conspicuous, the result, so far as 
birds are concerned, is the establishment of misleading 
standards and undeserved reputations. Thus, either be- 
cause they were unknown or because they did not fit a theme, 
some of England 1 ^ best songsters have been neglected by 
the poets. 

There, for example, is the Eeed Warbler, whose sustain- 
ed, continued song possesses a variety and volume which 
makes it, to my mind, one of the most pleasing of English 
song-birds ; or that charming bit of bird music, the easy, 
flowing, graceful, natural song of the Willow Warbler. The 
Tree Pipit, too, is an exceptionally good singer, while the 
wild, sweet, rapid, highly lyrical song of the Blackcap is a 
performance of unusual merit, suggesting the song of our 
Orchard Oriole. 

But whether or not the visiting student of English bird- 
life is fortunate enough to have a friend at Cambridge or in 
some equally favorable locality, he should under no consid- 
eration fail to make a pilgrimage to Selborne. To my mind 
there is no place in England where the characteristic birds 
of the country can be seen and heard to better advantage. 

Five miles from a railway and the nearest town, Selborne 
does not seem to have changed materially since the days of 
Gilbert White. Whether as the home of White or as a bit of 
rural England, Selborne more than satisfies one's precon- 
ceived ideals ; although they are generally of so composite a 
nature, so wrought of numberless impressions that usually 
,they are too far from the mark ever to be realized. But he 
who cannot find in Selborne 's lanes and hedgerows, pastures 
and cultivated fields, beech-woods and gorse, thatched roofs 
and chimney pots, sturdy horses and plodding teamsters, 
village and manor life, material with which to construct 
every picture of English country-life he had ever imagined, 
should control his imagination and develop his constructive 


Birds were abundant at Selborne, as indeed they were 
everywhere, but the large area and varied topography of 
public ground near the town, offers to the unintroduced 
tourist exceptionally favorable and attractive opportunities 
for observation. 

But it is primarily because Selborne was the scene of Gil- 
bert White's labors, that the nature lover should go there. 
The experience, too, will go far toward explaining the mar- 
velous vitality of that little volume which has made its au- 
thor and his home forever famous. He will find it no anti- 
quated eighteenth century dissertation of purely biblio- 
graphic value, but a useful work of reference containing in- 
formation for which he will search through other English 
nature books in vain. In short, Gilbert White wrote not 
only the first but the best book of its class. Need one seek 
better reasons for its longevity and perennial interest I 

From Selborne, I went to Winchester for a glimpse of 
Isaac Walton 's haunts in the valley of the Itchen. There is a 
delightful walk south of the city along a branch stream 
which will lead one to the Itchen itself, flowing peacefully 
through broad meadows with hedge-bordered downs aris- 
ing in the distance. Disciples of the good Isaac were dili- 
gently casting the fly in waters which evidently still repay 
the fisherman's wooing; there was always one or more Sky- 
larks overhead and below, Lapwings, Stone-chats, Wagtails, 
Meadow Pipits and Reed Buntings. Doubtless also there 
were Sedge and Eeed Warblers, but I did not see them. 

Winchester brings one within easy reach of the New For- 
est, one of the places which no naturalist visiting England 
should fail to see. From the time of William the Conqueror, 
the New Forest has been a royal preserve and it is to-day 
one of the few places in England where the tourist may find 
comparatively primaeval conditions. Birds which have be- 
come rare or have been extirpated in other parts of south- 
ern England, may still be found in favorable places in this 
Government reservation. 


I went to Holmesley and drove thence, through Burley, 
to Picket Post, lodging at an isolated tea-house in the midst 
of the gorse-covered moors, the home of the Dartford 
Warbler. Nearby, was a bit of the original forest growth, 
which doubtless covered a large part of the country at the 
time of the Norman invasion. Here are magnificent patri- 
archal beeches, not one, but every tree of exceptional beauty 
and dignity. The mossy ground beneath, decorated with hy 

Beeches in the New Forest 

acinth, wood sorrel, and veronica, was as free from under- 
growth as a lawn, and stretched away beneath the gray 
limbs and green leaves, into enchanted glades and aisles, 
from which one would not have been surprised to see Robin 
Hood and his merry men step forth at any moment. Never 
have I seen a more inviting woodland. 

One may drive north through the forest to Salisbury 
where, on the surrounding plains, he will not be out of hear- 


ing of Skylarks throughout the long English day. 

From Salisbury, 1 went to Oxford and thence to Strat- 
ford and Warwick, and in each place the bird student may 
pursue his investigations amid charming surroundings. Of 
the coincident historical and literary associations, it is un- 
necessary to speak. 

At Oxford, Addison's Walk, in the grounds about Mag- 
dalene College, give the stranger access to most attractive 
and secluded retreats; while at Warwick he is permitted a. 
near view of a castle which will show him J ackdaws, Kooks, 
Starlings, and Wood Doves in the setting where literature 
so frequently places them. 

At btratf ord, he may sit in the churchyard and see the 
liooks at their nests overhead while the Moorhens disport 
themselves in rushes of the bordering Avon ; and if he will 
cross the river and follow the north shore about half a mile, 
he will come to a fringe of woodland on a bank so steep, that 
the tops of trees growing from the shore below, will be on a 
level with his head. From the narrow, picturesque path- 
way, one therefore has the upper branches within reach of 
one hand, while with the other he may touch the lower 
growth, conditions which bring a rather unusual assemblage 
of birds within easy range. 

Here, on a rainy morning (June 11), I saw in "one 
look, ' ' a Nightingale with food for her young, Bullfinch, 
Song Thrush, Willow Wren, Wren, White-throat, Hedge 
Sparrow, Chaffinch, Blue-tit, Long-tail Tit, Spotted Fly- 
catcher, Blackcap, Blackbird, and Chiff-chaff. Swallows 
House and Bank Martins and Swifts were constantly dash- 
ing up and down over the river, and from near-by rolling 
fields came the song of the Skylark, a total of nineteen spe- 
cies seen or heard at virtually the same moment. 

Under no circumstances should the bird-lover leave Eng- 
land without a visit to some point on the coast or near-by 
islets frequented by nesting Murres, Puffins and Razor-bills. 
Doubtless in no part of the world can he so easily reach the 




^ - 

Bird-egging on Bempton Cliffs 

About 130,000 Murres' eggs are gathered here yearly. A "dimmer" may 
be seen on the face of the cliff. 

haunts of these boreal water-fowl. They may be found in fa- 
vorable localities, from the Scilly Islands to the Hebrides, 
but a variety of circumstances led me to the Bempton Cliffs 
at Flamborough Head in Yorkshire, the Fame Islands, off 
the Northumberland coast, and Bass Bock, in the Firth of 
Forth, and I am assured that no ornithological pilgrim will 
go far from the Mecca of his hope if he follows this route. 

At the Bempton Cliffs, which may be reached from Brid- 
lington, one may see the men go down the precipitous chalk- 
headlands, from three to four hundred feet, on a rope, to 
gather Murres ' eggs, while their mates, three to the gang, 
with heels dug into oft-used hollows, stolidly lower or raise. 


in response to pulls on the signal line from the unseen 
"dimmer" below. This is a long-established profession 
about which hang many quaint usages. 

At Bempton, the tourist, unless he be possessed of suf- 
ficient nerve to * ' try the ropes, ' ' must content himself with a 
view of the birds from above, but at the Fames, if the sea 

The Pinnacles in the Fame Islands 

The succeeding picture shows the Murres on the summit of the 
Pinnacles at the right. 

permits, he may land on low islands populated with a myr- 
iad of sea-fowl, among whose homes he may walk at ease, 
while a very little caution will place him on speaking terms 
with Murres, Puffins, Arctic and Sandwich Terns, Kitti- 
wakes, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Cormorants, and, best of 
all, Eider Ducks. 

The Fames is the most southern British breeding 
station of this widely read of but little known bird and I 
count as perhaps the most memorable of my ornithological 
experiences in England the privilege of stroking a wild 
Eider, as she sat upon her eggs within their half-seen circlet 
of down. She turned and pecked my finger gently, almost 
caressingly, I thought. 



Lesser Black-back Gulls 

The Fames will be recalled as the home of St. Cuthbert 
and the scene of Grace Darling's heroism and a connecting 
historical note is supplied by one of the bird wardens, Jack 
Darling, a nephew of the light-keeper's famous daughter. 

Bass Rock, too, has its history as a prison for Dissenters 
and as the one Scottish stronghold not captured by the 
Cromwellians, but to the bird student it is known chiefly as 
the original home, in scientific nomenclature at any rate, of 
the Gannet or Solan Goose, which Linnaeus named Sula bas- 
sana, under the impression that this splendid bird inhabited 
only the Bass. Asa matter of fact, it is found in only about 
a dozen islets in Great Britain, and two in America. 

Ten thousand Gannets, it is said, nest on the Bass to-dav 
and so tame are they that the visitor who does not mind 
looking down 450 feet of sheer cliff, may readily climb 


among them, selecting such groups for his camera as taste 
dictates. Not a bird will refuse him a sitting. It is a wild 
scene but would be far more impressive if it were not so eas- 
ily reached. But the very accessibility which places the 
Rock (by way of North Berwick and Cantey Bay) within 
two hours of Edinburgh commends it to the hurried trav- 
eler. At the same time, one may visit the ruins of Tantallon 

Castle on the adjoining mainland and in this shattered but 
noble old stronghold of the Douglasses, find again the his- 
torical setting which adds so much to the charm of bird 
study in England ; or, to speak more strictly, in Great Brit- 
ain ; for we have crossed the border line into Scotland and 
are now within an hour or two of a country differing mark- 
edly in topography and, to a lesser degree, in bird-life from 
anything we have seen to the southward. 

I must resist, however, the temptation to tell of Bed 
Grouse, Black Cock and Ptarmigan, Wheatears, Eock 
Thrushes and Golden Plover, but no bird-lover should resist 
the temptation to visit the haunts of these birds amid the 
lochs and heather-grown moors of the Highlands. 



While my very limited experience does not warrant geii 
eralization in regard to the attractiveness and musical abil- 
ity of English birds as compared with ours, there can be no 
question concerning their greater abundance. Everywhere 
I was impressed with the truth of this observation, and I 
cannot conclude this article without some attempt to inquire 
into the causes underlying this marked numerical dif- 

A Sitting Eider (Somateria molissima) 
Note the circlet of down about the nest 

We have, as I have before remarked, a larger number of 
species, and in our northern states, birds are more rigidly 
protected than they are in England, where bird-nesting is 
universal and bird-trapping locally countenanced. 

A variety of factors seem to have operated in producing 
the results now so noticeable to an American. The most fun- 
damental and far-reaching in its influence appears to lie in 
the fact that English birds are less niigratory, as a whole, 



A "Watcher" stroking an Eider on Her Xest 

Eider on Nest 



than ours, and are, consequently, not exposed to the dangers 
which beset birds making extended journeys in part over 
large bodies of water. Furthermore, those that remain in 
England throughout the year have not to contend with the 
severe winters which so often bring disaster to our perman- 
ently resident birds. 

Bass Rock from the Mainland 
In the foreground a flock of Eiders; with a male on shore in breeding plumage 

The importance of this suggestion is emphasized when it 
is expressed in figures. Thus, the list of birds of regular oc- 
currence in Great Britain, numbers about 225, of which no 
less than 134 are, as species or individuals, permanently res- 
ident ; while the list of birds recorded from within a radius 
of 50 miles of New York City, exclusive of " accidental' ' spe- 
cies, is 310, of which only 35 are permanently resident. 

It is also of first importance to observe that the abundant 
British birds of to-day, the conspicuous successes in bird- 
life, are admirable illustrations of the rigid sifting effects of 


conditions so severe that only the fittest survive. The list of 
birds which, as British, are extinct or nearly so, is a large 
one and includes the Spoonbill, Avocet, Bustard, Kite, 
Marsh Harrier, Osprey, Capercallie (re-introduced), Crane, 
Chough and other species. 

Gannets on the Bass 

In every instance these birds have succumbed to civiliza- 
tion in one or more of its aggressive forms, as it has de- 
stroyed forests, drained marshes, killed for sport or collect- 
ed for alleged scientific purposes. 

Other species, for example Hawks, Jays and Magpies, 
supposed to be harmful to game-birds or their eggs, have 
greatly decreased or disappeared before the constant per- 
secution of the game keeper. I saw but four Hawks, three 



Nesting Gannets 

Jays and two Magpies while in England, and most of these 
were in the New Forest. 

Still other species, like the Bullfinch and Goldfinch, have 
diminished through the excessive demonstration of that 
abortive love of birds which condemns them to captivity 
and, usually, early death. 

On the other hand, many of the acts which have brought 
destruction to the species mentioned have created an excep- 
tionally favorable environment for birds like the House 
Sparrow, Starling, Song Thrush, Blackbird, and Skylark, 
which, through man's agency, find some of their natural ene- 
mies removed, their supply of food increased, and their 
available breeding area widened. 

In America, virtually all our most abundant, widely dis- 
tributed species, winter in the United States and hence are 
not exposed to those destructive agencies which beset birds 
migrating over seas. However, leaving out of consideration 


this cause of high mortality and that occasioned by winter 
storms, environmental conditions in America are too unset- 
tled or at best are too recently settled for us to have witness- 
ed that essentially final adjustment between the bird and the 
sum total of its surroundings, such as we observe in Eng- 

Our Robin, or Migratory Thrush, as our English cousin*- 
call it, appears, however, to have established satisfactory 
relations with the world as it finds it and is as preeminently 
a success in bird-life as its English representative, the Song 

Let us hope that with other species, also, we may be able 
so to control the selective and determining processes which 
are now shaping the America of succeeding generations, 
that those who come after us will lose no part of their rich 
heritage in bird-life. 

Young Flamingo 


ARIZONA, Group showing cactus 

desert of, 243. 

Auklet, Cassin's, in Farallones, 284. 
Avocet in Los Banos group, 291. 

BASS ROCK, from mainland, 412. 

Gannets on, 413, 414. 
Bates' Hole, Eagle's nest in, 240. 

Our outfit in, 228, 238. 
Beebe, C. William, at Fireplace, 

Bent, A. C., on "Pearl," number 

one from right, 137. 
Blackbird, Yellow-headed, feeding 

young, 331. 
Blind, among Egrets, 127. 

among Pelicans, 87. 

among Water Turkeys, 115. 

and Blue Jay's nest, 7. 

and Flamingos, 174, 180. 

in Man-o'-War Bird colony, 218. 
Booby and nest, 213. 

colony, 210. 

family, 211, 215. 

in flight, 216. 

picks up sticks, 212. 

Young of, 210, 211, 213, 214, 


Burroughs, John, examining Hum- 
mer's nest, 23. 

CACTUS, Barrel.near Santa Catalina 
Mts., 250. 
Giant, and Santa Catalina Mts., 

California, Group of birds at Los 

Banos, 291. 

Camp at Shoal Lake, Manitoba, 

in Florida, 114. 
in Ptarmigan Pass, 358. 
in Sierras, 309. 
near Flamingos, 173. 
on Cay Verde, 206. 
on Pelican Reef, 374. 
Cay Verde, Camp on, 206. 

"dimmer" on Bempton Cliffs, 405. 
Condor, Nest-site of, on Piru Creek, 

Calif., 260. 

Coot, Eggs, nest, and young of, 332. 
Cormorant, Brandt's, at Point Lo- 
bos, Calif., 272. 

gathering nest material, 271. 
Portrait of, 273. 
Telephoto of, 281. 
Cormorant, Double crested, on 
Shoal Lake, 314. 
Young of, 335. 
Cormorant, Farallone, on Klamath 

Lake, 298, 302. 
Curlew aboard ship, 393. 
Curlew, Long-billed, Young of, 342. 
Cuthbert Rookery, Birds in, 142, 
143, 147. 

Route to, 139. 
Cypress, Flooded, 127. 

DIPPER near Glacier, B. C., 353. 

Nest of, 354. 

Dove, Mourning, in cactus desert 
group, 243. 

on nest in cactus, 248. 
Dove, Scaled, in cactus desert 

group, 243. 

Duck, Fulvous Tree, in Los Banofc 
group, 291. 

EAGLE, Golden, Nest-site of, 240. 
Egret, American, after feeding, 

feeding young, 132. 

flying, 128, 129. 

Nesting-sites of, 127. 

perching, 130, 131. 

Young of, 78, 132, 133. 
Egret, Snowy, in Cuthbert Rook- 
ery, 142. 
Eider in Fame Islands, 410. 

near Bass Rock, 412. 

stroking on nest, 411. 
England, Beeches in New Forest, 




Bempton Cliffs, Egging on, 405. 
Cam at Ditton Corner, 396. 
Fame Islands, Pinnacles in, 

406, 407. 
Selborne, View from Hanger, 


Estrella, The, aground, 162. 
Crew of, 158. 

FARALLONES, Landing-place in, 275 
Finch, House, in cactus desert 

group, 243. 

Fireplace, Signal at, 40. 
Flamingo, alarmed, 177. 

and young, 150. 

asleep, 175. 

Blind among, 174, 180. 

brooding, 185. 

Deserted city of, 160, 172. 

Eggs of, 172. 

feeding young, 185. 

flying, 171, 176. 

on nests, 178, 182. 

Painting of, 158. 

walking, 181. 

Young, 150, 183, 184, 185, 186, 

187, 188, 189. 
Flicker leaving nest, 27. 
Forest in Glen Alpine, Calif., 307. 

on Gardiner's Island, 34. 
Fuertes, L. A., and Ptarmigan, 

and young Geese, 344. 

in camp at Ptarmigan Pass, 

in camp at Silver Creek, 309. 

on "Pearl", number two from 
left, 137. 

on trail to Ptarmigan Pass, 

painting Flamingo, 158. 

GANNETS on Bass Rock, 413, 414. 
Gloria, The, 163. 

Goose, Wild, on Klamath Lake, 

Young of, 344. 
Grackle, Nest of, in Fish Hawk's 

nest, 52. 
Group, Cactus desert, 243. 

of Brown Pelicans, 110. 

of Cobb's Island birds, 62. 

Group, of Los Banos birds, 291. 

of Prairie Hens, 233. 
Guillemots in Farallones, 282. 
Gull, California, in Saskatchewan, 

345, 347. 

Gull, Laughing, Egg of, 75. 
on nest, 73, 74. 
Young of, 75. 
Gull, Lesser Black-back, in Fame 

Islands, 408. 

Gull, Ring-billed, in Saskatchewan, 
345, 347. 
Young of, 348. 

on Klamath Lake, 300. 
Gull, Western, on nest in Faral- 
lones, 28'0. 

on wing in Farallones, 279. 

HAWK, FISH, approaching nest, 56. 
feeding young, 53. 
leaving nest, 57. 
Nests of, 50, 58. 
Young, 53, 54, 55, 58, 61. 
Heron, Black - crowned Night, 

Young of, 334. 

Heron, Florida Great Blue, ap- 
proaching nest, 120. 
feeding young, 121. 
Young of, 120, 121. 
Heron, Little Blue, on nest, 125. 
Heron, Louisiana, on nest, 126. 

posing, 143. 

Heron, Great Blue, at Los Banos, 
Calif., 293. 

Young of, on Klamath Lake, 

Heron, Yellow-crowned Night, in 

Bahamas, 209. 

Hummingbird, Ruby-throated, at 
nest, 19. 

before flower, 26. 
brooding, 24. 
feeding young, 25. 

JAX", BLUE, after feeding young, 2. 
alarmed by Owl, 11. 
inspecting Owl, 10. 
Young, calling, 13. 
Young, nesting, 12. 

KILLDEER in Los Banos Groups, 291. 
Kittiwake in Fame Islands, 407. 



LAKE, BONNET, in Florida, 115. 
Lloyd, P. E., and barrel cactus, 


MACDouGAL, D. T., driving, 226. 
Mallard in Los Banos group, 291. 
Man-o'-War Bird, Colony of, 218. 

Female with young, 220. 

Young of, 218, 219, 220. 
Meadowlark, alert, 17. 

inspecting nest, 18. 
Merriam, C. Hart, in Glen Alpine 

forest, 306. 
Murres in cave in Farallones, 277. 

in Fame Islands, 407. 

Telephoto of, in Farallones, 

NIGHTHAWK, and young, 29. 

feigning lame, 30. 

perching, 31, 32. 

Nighthawk, Texas, in cactus des- 
ert group, 243. 
Noddy, flying, 196. 

on nest, 194. 

on rocks, 193. 

OUTFIT, OUR, leaving Potrero.Ven- 

tura Co., Calif., 262. 
Owl, Burrowing, at Los Banos, 

Calif., 287. 

"PEARL," Crew of, 137. 
Pelican, Brown, Breeding and non- 
breeding plumage of, compared, 

Colony of, 87. 

feeding, Young, 97, 99, 101, 


flying, 87, 91, 105, 106. 
incubating, 87, 93. 
looking for young, 109. 
Nest-relief of, 95. 
preening, 110. 
yawning, 107, 338. 
Young, after feeding, 100, 103, 


Young of, 97, 104, 338. 
Pelican Island, General views, 87, 
91, 110. 

Group of, 110. 

Pelican, White, feeding young, 383. 

in Saskatchewan, 312, 3G9, 
383, 385, 387. 

Nest and eggs of, 375. 

on Klanmth Lake, 381. 

on Pyramid Lake, 377. 

scratching, 384. 

soaring, 369. 

taking flight, 385. 
Peter, guide, 166. 
Phainopepla in cactus desert group. 

Phalarope at Monterey, 268. 

feeding, 269. 

in search of feeding-place, 270. 
Pheasant, English, on nest, 43. 
Phoabe, Nesting-sites of, 21. 

on nest, 22. 
Physalia, The, 201. 
Pipit, American, on nest, 359. 
Prairie Hen, Group of, 233. 
Ptarmigan, White-tailed, in Cana- 
dian Rockies, 360-366. 

on nest, 363-365. 

walking in water, 362. 
Puffin in Fame Islands, 409. 
Puflin, Tufted, in Farallones, 283. 

QUAIL, GAMBEL'S, in cactus desert 

group, 243. 
Quail, Scaled, in cactus desert 

group, 243. 

REDWOODS in Armstrong Grove, 

Sonoma Co., Calif., 252. 
Roadrunner in cactus desert group, 



Selborne, View of, from Hanger, 


Seton, Ernest Thompson, attack- 
ed by Black Tern, 326, 327. 

in camp at Shoal Lake, 316. 
Shearwater, Audubon's, leaving 
nest, 199. 

Young of, 198. 

Skimmer, Black, Eggs of, 70, 71. 
flying, 62, 65, 67. 
on nest, 62, 68, 69, 76. 
Young of, 69, 70, 71. 



Spoonbill, Roseate, flying, 148. 

perching, 147. 

Stilt, Black-necked, in Los Banos 
group, 291. 

on nest, 289. 

Young of, 290. 

TANAGER, SCARLET, at nest, 28. 
Teal, Blue-wing, Nest of, as cover- 
ed by bird, 322. 

the cover raised, 323. 
Teal, Cinnamon, in Los Banos 

group, 291. 

Tern, Black, attacking, 326, 327. 
brooding, 328. 
in Los Banos group, 291. 
incubating, 324. 
on Shoal Lake, Man., 349. 
Young of, 329. 
Tern, Caspian, on Klamath Lake, 

301, 302. 

Tern, Common, in Cobb's Island 
group, 62. 

on Gardiner's Island, 44, 45. 
Tern, Gull-billed, on nest, 72. 
Tern, Least, in Cobb's Island 
group, 62. 

Tern, Sooty, flying, 154, 197. 

sitting, 195. 

Thrasher, Brown, on nest, 4. 
Thrasher, Palmer's, at nest, 247. 

near nest, 246. 

Trail to Ptarmigan Pass, 356. 
Turkey, Water, and nest, 117. 

posing, 122. 

VIREO, WARBLING, incubating, 319. 

singing on nest, 319. 
Vulture, Black, eating young Peli- 
can, 110. 

on burro, 264. 
Vulture, Turkey, roosting, 266. 

WIDMANN, OTTO, at Hesperia.Calif., 

Wren, Cactus, in cactus desert 

group, 243. 
Wren, Long-billed Marsh, at nest, 

Wren, Rock, in Farallones, 285. 

YUCCA, Tree, at Hesperia, Calif., 


AGUA BLANCA, creek, 261. 

Aigrettes, Price of, 136. 

Alpine spring in Canadian Rockies, 


Anahao Island, Pelicans on, 378. 
Andros Island, Flamingos on, 158, 

Uncharted bight through, 170. 
Voyage to, 157. 
Anhinga, Habits of, 114. 
Antilles, Greater, Preserving in- 
fluences of, 37. 
Ardea wuerdemanni nesting on 

Clive Key, 137. 

Arizona, Tucson, Birds seen near, 

Yuma, 257. 

Atmosphere, Dryness of, in Ari- 
zona, 237. 

Audubon Societies, National Asso- 
ciation of, 84, 134. 
Auk, Great, in Florida, 81. 
Auklet, Cassin's, in Farallones, 282. 

Notes of, 283. 
Australia, Preserving influences of, 

Avocet, Actions of, 289. 

in San Joaquin Valley, 289. 
Young of, 290. 

BAHAMA BANKS, Character of, 201. 

Lack of life on, 202. 
Bahama bird-life, 151-224. 
Bahamas, Birds of, in Florida, 79. 

Evolution in, 32. 

Extent of, 152. 

Formation of, 151. 
Basin, Great, in California, 255. 
Bass Rock visited, 408. 
Bates' Hole, Wyo. visited, 235, 239. 
Bay Cedar in Bahamas, 152. 
Baynton's ranch on Big Stick Lake, 


Bempton Cliffs, England, Bird- 
egging on, 405. 

Bent, A. C., on birds of Saskatch- 
ewan, 339, 348. 
on Cuthbert Rookery, 136. 
Trip with, 136. 

Beswick, Birds abundant at, 294. 
Bill of Skimmer, 72, 74. 
Bird islands of Atlantic coast, 35. 
Bird-life, Adjustment of, to envir- 
onment, 415. 

affected by irrigation, 286, 293. 
of England and America com- 
pared, 396, 398, 399, 410-415. 
of Shoal Lake, Man., and Ma- 
ple Creek, Sask., compared, 

Bird-nesting, Pleasures of, 20, 21. 
Birds, Attitude of, toward blind, 55. 
English, shyer than American, 


Decrease of, 38. 
Destruction of, 81, 82, 304. 
Bird student, Local opportunities 

of, 3, 333. 

Blackbird, English, Abundance of, 

Song of, 397. 

Blackbird, Yellow-headed, Nesting 
habits of, 333. 
Song of, 318. 
Blackcap, Song of, 401. 
Blake, Sir Henry, Studies of Fla- 
mingo by, 156. 
Blind, and Blue Jays, 7. 

and Brown Pelicans, 90. 
and Caspian Terns, 301. 
and Egrets, 132. 
and Fish Hawks, 55. 
and Flamingos, 174, 178, 184. 
and Florida Great Blue Her- 
ons, 119. 

and Grackle, 320. 
and Meadowlark, 16. 
and Prairie Hens, 232. 



Blind and Ring-billed and California 

Gulls, 299. 
and Skimmers, 69. 
and Water Turkeys, 116. 
and White Pelicans, 380, 386. 
in Cuthbert Rookery, 143. 
Meadowlark sings from, 325. 
Bobolink in Wyoming, 241. 
Bohlman, H. T. See Finley, W. L. 
Bonhote, J. Lewis, in Bahamas, 


"Bonnets" on Florida Lakes, 115. 
Booby, Area of home-site of, 213. 
Daily routine of, 211. 
Excitement of, when approach- 
ed on nest, 212. 
in Bahamas, 200-224. 
in Florida, 210. 
laying two eggs but having 

only one young, 214, 215. 
Nest of, 214. 
resents trespass, 213. 
robbed by Man-o'-War Bird, 


Sleeping habits of, 207. 
tame near nest, shy away from 

it, 212. 

Young of, 214, 216. 
Bradley, Guy, warden of Cuthbert 

Rookery, 136. 
Bruner, Lawrence, Assisted by, 


Bryant, Henry, on Bahama birds, 

Researches of, 83. 
Bufflehead, flightless when molt- 
ing, 296. 

Bullfinch, in England, 399. 
Bunting, Lark, Song of, 340. 
Burroughs, John, Bird-nesting with, 

CACTUS, Barrel, 248. 

desert bird-life, 242. 

Giant, home of birds in Ari- 
zona, 244. 
California, Bird studies in, 253. 

Climates of, 253, 254, 256. 

Differentiation of birds in, 254. 

Farallones, Birds seen in, 274. 

Hesperia, Morning at, 258. 

Highest mountains in, 253. 

Length of, 253. 

California, Los Banos, Birds seen 
at, 286. 

Lower Klamath Lake, Birds 

seen on, 294. 
Lowest altitude in, 253. 
Monterey, Bird studies at, 267, 


Piru, Birds seen at, 259-266. 
Sierras, Birds seen in, 305. 
Topography of, 253-256. 
Callichelidon cyaneoviridis in Ba- 
hamas, 153. 
Cambridge, England, Birds seen at 


Camera. Value of, in bird study, 5. 
Camp at Shoal Lake, 316, 318. 
destroyed by fire, 122. 
in Pima Canon, 248. 
in Ptarmigan Pass, 356. 
near Flamingos, 170. 
near seven mile slough, 114. 
on Cay Verde, 206. 
on Silver Creek, 310. 
Canada, Western, Bird-life of, 313. 
Canadian Government, Responsi- 
bility of, as a bird protector, 387. 
Canadian Rockies, Bird-life in, 3&0. 
Candle-bush in Arizona, 244. 
Catbird, Singing, in Bahamas, 202. 
Cat Cay, Birds seen on, 224. 
Cats, Absence of, on Gardiner's 
Island, 39. 

on Cobb's Island, 74. 
Cay Verde, Birds of, 205, 224. 

Description of, 207. 
Cereus giganteus in Arizona, 244. 
Cerithium, fcod of Flamingo, 155, 


Chaffinch, Song of, 399. 
Chapman, Abel, Studies of Flamin- 
go by, 156. 
Chickadee, Mountain, nesting at 

Lake Tahoe, 305. 

Chipmunk, Absence of, on Gardi- 
ner's Island, 39. 
Climatic changes, Suddenness of, 

in California, 286. 
Coast Range in California, 255. 
Cobb's Island, Bird-life of, 63. 
Colonial birds, Location of nest of. 



Coloration contradictory in Long- 
spurs and Shore Lark, 340. 
of young Skimmer, 68. 
protective, 30, 235, 358. 
Condor, California, Appearance of, 
on the wing, 263. 
Nest sites of, 261. 
Seven, seen at once, 263. 
Wariness of, 264, 265. 
Connecticut, Stevenson, Study of 

Nighthawk at, 29. 
Coot in San Joaquin Valley, 292. 
impaled on barbed wire, 292. 
Nest-site of, 292. 
Cormorant, Baird's, in Farallones, 


Cormorant, Brandt's, in Farallones, 

nesting at Monterey, 272. 
Cormorants, Double-crested, on 

Shoal Lake, 335. 
Cormorant, Farallone, on Klamath 

Lake, 299, 304. 
Coyote in Arizona, 249. 

in California, 260. 
Cox, Walter, Background by, 62. 
Crane, Sandhill, Former abundance 
of, in New England, 38. 

Range of, 80. 
Creeper, Honey, in Bahamas, 152. 

nesting in Bahamas, 202. 
Creosote bush in Arizona, 248. 

in California, 256. 
Crow, Clarke's, at Monterey, 268. 
Crow, Fish, devouring eggs, 118, 


Crow, Florida, devouring eggs, 145. 
Crow, Robbery by, not resented, 

roosting on Gardiner's Island, 


Cuckoo, Call of, 398. 
Curlew aboard ship, 392. 
Cypress forest, Beauty of, 126. * 
nesting-site of Herons, 127. 

DAHLGREN,B. E., Dr., in Bahamas, 


Day, Length of, in Canada, 321. 
Denslow, H. C., Birds mounted by, 

62, 233, 244. 
Desert. Mohave. Morning in, 258. 

Dipper, Nesting habits of, in Cana- 
dian Rockies, 353. 

Dove, Ground, in Bahamas, 152. 

Dove, Turtle, Notes of, 400. 

Dove, White-winged, Notes of, in 
Arizona, 244, 248, 249. 

Duck, Black, nesting on Gardiner's 
Island, 36, 46. 

Duck, Fulvous Tree, in San Joa- 
quin Valley, 292. 
Notes of, 292. 
Pose of, 292. 
Range of, 292. 

Duck, Harlequin, at Monterey, 268. 

Duck, Ruddy, Actions of, 346. 

EAGLE, Bald, Nesting in Man-o'- 

War Key, 137. 
Eagle, Golden, Story of nest of, 


Egg-birds in Bahamas, 152, 192. 
Egg-shell removed by Skimmer, 71. 
Eggs, Murre's, as food, 276, 277. 
Eggs, Smaller number of, laid by 

southern birds, 198. 
Egret, American, Actions of young 
of, 134. 

Destruction of, 124. 
Feeding young of, 134. 
in Cuthbert Rookery, 141. 
Nesting habits of, 123-134. 
Nests of, 142, 145. 
Notes of, 133, 134. 
Rookery flight of, 124. 
Shyness of, 146. 
Egret, "Little White", formerly on 

Pelican Island, 83. 
Egret, "Peale's", formerly on Peli- 
can Island, 83. 

Egret, Reddish, in Bahamas, 169. 
in Snake Bight, Florida, 139. 
Egret, Rufous, formerly on Pelican 

Island, 83. 
Egret, Snowy, in Cuthbert Rookery, 

135, 141. 
less shy than American Egret, 


Eider, nesting in Fame Islands. 

United States colony of, 3. 
England, Bird-life of, 391-415. 
Faunal Affinities of, 393. 



English birds, Interest in, 391. 

Landscape impressions of, 393. 

Environment, Direct action of, on 
birds' colors, 257. 
mold for habits, 37. 

Equilibrium in flight maintained 
automatically, 197. 

"Estrella," The, Cruise in, 158-162. 

Evaporation, Rapidity of, in Ari- 
zona, 237. 

Evolution through insular environ- 
ment, 37. 

FARALLONES, Birds of, 274. 

History of, 274. 

Picturesqueness of, 274, 275. 

Possibilities of bird study in, 

Fame Islands, England, Birds of, 


Figgins, J. D., on Western trip, 227. 
Finch, Rosy Snow, in Canadian 

Rockies, 357, 361. 
Finch, Seaside, on Cobb's Island. 63. 
Finch, Snow, descending below tim- 
berline in summer, 357. 

Distribution of, 357. 
Finley, W. L., Researches of, on 
Klamath Lake, 294. 

Studies of California Condor 

by, 265. 

Fireplace, Signal at, 39. 
Fisher, Walter K., on birds of Lay- 
san, 216. 

See Price, W. W. 
Flamingo, Appearance of, 170. 

City of, deserted, 158, 159. 

Colony of. Arrival at, 170. 

Comparative size of, 155. 

Destruction of, 191. 

Egg of, 173. 

Feeding habits of, 190. 

First one killed, 157. 

Flight of, 181. 

Food of, 155. 

Former distribution of, 155. 

in Bahamas, 154-191. 

incubating, 179, 180. 

Law protecting, 191. 

Nest building of. 159, 179. 

Nests of. 159. 179, 191. 

Notes of, 170. 

recognizing nest, 175. 

Flamingo, Return of, to rookery, 
178, 179. 
Rookery of, destroyed by rain, 


Search for, 163. 
Shyness of, 159. 
straddling nest, Myth of, 156. 
Young of, Appearance of, at 
birth. 185. 

eating egg-shell, 189. 
Feeding of, 187. 
Growth of bill of, 189. 
Return to nest by, 186. 
Flicker, Manner of leaving nest of, 


Flight of Terns, 197. 
Flocking impulse, 88. 
Florida. Bird-life of, 79. 

Defiance of bird law in, 82. 
Destruction of birds in, 81, 82 
Florida, Flamingo, 135. 
Fort Capron, 113. 
Mecca for ornithologists. 79. 
Ormond', 81. 
Pelican Island, 36, 83. 
St. John's River. Boobies seen 

at mouth of, 210. 
St. Lucie, 113. 
Flycatcher, Olive-sided, Call of. 


Forest, Eastern extension of, in 
western Nebraska, 229. 
Growth in New. 403. 
in California, 253, 256, 267. 
in Wyoming, 239. 
Westward extension of, in 

eastern Nebraska, 229. 
Fox, Absence of, on Gardiner's 

Island, 39. 

Fuertes, Louis, At Pyramid Lake 
with, 376. 

discovers nests of Pipit and 

Ptarmigan, 364. 
In Bahamas with, 156. 
In Saskatchewan with, 338. 
In Sierras with, 310. 
on trip to Los Banos, 286. 
Trip with, to Cuthbert Rook- 
ery, 136. 

GADWALL, Mating flight of, 346. 
Gannet, American colonies of, 36. 
on Bass Rock, 408. 



Gardiner's Island, Bird-life of, 38. 
Glacial Period, Influence of, on dis- 
tribution of birds, 81, 357, 368. 
"Gloria," The, Cruise in, 164. 
Goldfinch, European, Trapping of, 

in England, 399. 
Goldfinch in California, 258. 
Goose, Wild, flightless when molt- 
ing, 296. 

Young of, domesticated, 343. 
Grackle, Bronzed, Method of feed- 
ing young of, 320. 

nesting on ground, 320. 
Grebe, Eared, Probable call of, 346. 
Grebe, Holboell's, covering eggs, 

Grebe-hunter on Klamath Lake, 


Grebe, Pied-billed, Call of, 321-331. 
Grebe, Western, Actions of young 
of, 331. 

Appearance of, 330. 
Call of, 321. 
Destruction of, for milliners, 

302, 303. 

Feather-eating habits of, 332. 
Mating habits of, 330. 
on Klamath Lake, 302. 
Shyness of, 349. 
Gregariousness, Influence of, on 

nest location, 35. 
Grey- Wilson, Sir William, Governor 

of Bahamas, Courtesy of, 200. 
Grosbeak, Evening, in Sierras, 310. 
Grosbeak, Pine, in Sierras, 310. 
Group of Cactus desert birds, 243, 

249, 250. 
Groups, Story of three western, 


Grouse, Blue, in the Sierras, 308. 
Grouse, Sharp-tail, at Halsey, Neb., 


Guano deposit in Bahamas, 208. 
Guillemots in Farallones, 281. 
Gull, California, in Saskatchewan, 

on Klamath Lake, 299. 
Gull, Franklin's, feeding on grass- 
hoppers, 320. 
Flight of, 346. 
following plow, 320. 
Gull, Herring, on Gardiner's Island 
in summer, 46. 

Gull, Laughing, on Cobb's Island, 

63, 75. 

Young of, 75. 

Gull, Ring-billed, in Saskatchewan, 

on Klamath Lake, 299. 
Gull, Western, eating eggs, 278-280. 

in Farallones, 278-281. 
Gulls, Calls of, 299, 345. 
Gunn, Donald, at Shoal Lake, 317. 

HABITS, the result of environment, 


Haigh, Mr., of Cat Cay, 223. 
Hawk, Duck, on Cay Verde, 209. 
Hawk, Fish, attacking Herons, 47. 
Attitude of, toward blind, 58. 
Behavior of young of, 53, 54. 
Date of arrival and departure 
of, on Gardiner's Island, 48. 
Date of hatching of, 52. 
Date of laying of, 52. 
defending nest, 52. 
Food of young of, 53. 
Notes of, 58, 59. 
Number of, on Gardiner's Isl- 
and, 47. 

repairing nest, 48. 
Return of, to same nest, 48. 52. 
Time in nest of young of, 52. 
Variations in nest-site of, 48, 

49, 50. 
Hawks absent during summer from 

Gardiner's Island, 39. 
Hen, Heath, on Martha's Vineyard, 


Hen, Prairie, at Halsey, Neb., 231. 
are females present when 

males "boom"? 235. 
fighting, 234. 
Notes of, 232. 
protectively colored, 235. 
Sexual display by, 234. 
Hen, Sage, in Wyoming, 241. 
Heron, Black-crowned Night, jump- 
ing into water, 295. 
nesting in reeds, 334. 
on Gardiner's Island, 45. 
Heron, Florida Great Blue, Food 
call of young of, 116. 
Habits of, 114. 

Manner of feeding young of, 



Heron, Great Blue, formerly on 
Pelican Island, 83. 

nesting in cypress, 127. 
nesting in tules, 298. 
Tameness of, at Los Banos, 293. 
Heron, Great White, in Florida 

Keys, 138. 

Heron, Little Blue, in Cuthbert 
Rookery, 135, 141. 
nesting in cypress swamp, 129. 
Notes of, 132. 

Heron, Louisiana, in Bahamas, 109. 
in Cuthbert Rookery, 135, 141, 


nesting in buttonwood, 113. 
nesting in cypress swamp, 129. 
nesting in mangroves, 144. 
Notes of, 144. 

Heron, Nesting-sites of, 119. 
Notes of young of, 122. 
Young of, Actions of, 119. 
Heron, Yellow-crowned Night, in 
Bahamas, 202. 

nesting in cypresses, 128. 
Herrick, F. H., on the feeding of 

young birds, 320. 
Highlands, Attractions of, for bird 

students, 409. 

Hittell, C. J., at Bates' Hole, 239. 
at Klamath Lake, 295. 
at Piru, 261. 
Background by, 291. 
Horsfall, Bruce, Backgrounds by, 
111, 233, 244. 

on western trip, 227. 
Hummingbird, Ruby-throated, Ac- 
tions of, at nest, 25. 
feeding at flower, 26. 
feeding young, 25. 
Nest of, 25. 
Photographing, in flight, 26. 

IBIS, White, formerly on Pelican 
Island, 83. 

in Cuthbert Rookery, 135, 141, 


Ibis, White-faced Glossy, Evolu- 
tions of, 293. 

in San Joaquin Valley, 292. 
Notes of, 292. 

Ice Age, Influence of, oil Florida 
bird-life, 81. 

Incubation habits, of Brown Peli- 
can, 95, 96. 

of Skimmer, 71. 

Ingraham, D. P., collecting in Ba- 
hamas, 208. 

Irrigation in San Joaquin Valley, 
Calif., 286. 

Island, Necessity of, for Pelicans, 

Island-life, Study of, 35, 151. 

JAY, BLUE, Actions of, toward a 
mounted Blue Jay, 8. 

toward a mounted Screech 

Owl, 10-14. 
Home-life of, 7. 
Mental development of, 3. 
Nest of, 7. 

Notes, Significance of, 10, 11. 
Parental control of young of, 8. 
quiet near nest, 6. 
Young, Actions of, 8, 14. 
Jay, Florida, Origin of, 80. 
Job, H. K., on Cuthbert Rookery, 

on Saskatchewan birds, 349. 
" Jumby " in Bahamas, 163. 

KEYS, FLORIDA, Voyage among, 138 
Klamath Falls, Visit to, 295. 
Klamath Lake, Beauty of, 296. 

Birds of, 294-304. 

to be drained, 380. 

Pelicans on, 380. 
Knob on bill of White Pelican, 376, 


Kroegel, Warden, of Pelican Isl- 
and, 86, 95. 

LABORATORY,Desert Botanical, 243. 

Lagopus leucurus, 3. 

in Canadian Rockies, 357. 

Lameness, Feigning of, 31, 32. 

Lang, H., Birds mounted by, 111. 

Leucosticte tephrocotis in Cana- 
dian Rockies, 357. 

Lilford, Lord, Studies of Flamingo 
by, 156. 

Linnet in California, 258, 259. 

Lion, Sea, in Farallones, 275. 

Lodge, Geo. E., Visit to Gardiner's 
Island with, 43, 60. 



Longspur, Chestnut-collared, Song 

of, 340. 

Longspur, McCown's, Song of, 340. 
Los Banos, Calif., Birds of, 286-293. 

AlACDouGAL, D. T., Advice by, in 

Arizona, 242. 

Magistrate, Bahaman, 165. 
Magpie, American, near Lake Ta- 

hoe, 306. 
Mallard, feigning lame, 323. 

with young in San Joaquin Val- 
ley, 292. 
Mangrove Cay, Bahamas, Arrival 

at, 166. 

Mangroves killed by frost, 84. 
Manitoba, Shoal Lake, White Peli- 
can on, 373. 

Man-o'-War Bird, both sexes incu- 
bating, 218. 

Development of plumage in 

young of, 220, 221. 
Egg of, 220. 

formerly on Pelican Island, 83. 
in Bahamas, 200-224. 
Inflation of gular pouch by, 


killed for food, 210. 
less tame than Booby, 218. 
Nesting sites and nests of, 217, 


soaring, 206, 218. 
Young of, 220. 

Marmot, Hoary, in Canadian Rock- 
ies, 360. 

Martin, House, aboard ship, 392. 
Martin, Sand, in England, 399. 
Massachusetts, Martha's Vineyard, 

Muskeget, 36. 
Penikese, 36. 
Matthews, F. Barrows, Co-operation 

of, 157, 159, 163. 

Mayer, Alfred G., Studies of Boo- 
bies by, 214. 
Voyage in the Bahamas with, 

200, 204, 224. 

Maynard, C. J., Studies of Flamin- 
go by, 166. 

Meadowlark, Alarm note of, 15. 
Home-life of, 15. 
Morning with, 15. 
Range of, about nest, 15. 

Meadowlark, Rate of feeding 
young of, 18. 
Shyness of, 15, 16. 
Song of, compared with that of 

Western Meadowlark, 231. 
Meadowlark, Western, in Saskatch- 
ewan, 339. 

sings on blind, 235. 
Song of, 231. 
Merriam, C. Hart, At Pyramid Lake 

with, 376. 

Migration of Pelicans, 88. 
of Phalaropes, 268. 
on Cay Verde, 209. 
Milliners', Destructions of Cobb's 
Island birds for, 64. 

Destruction of Grebes for, 303. 
Mink, Absence of, on Gardiner's 

Island, 89. 

Mirage in San Joaquin Valley, 287. 
Moccasins in Florida, 116. 
Mockingbird, Bahama, 152. 
Molt of Ptarmigan, 358, 359. 
Monster, Gila, in Arizona, 249. 
Moorhen, Abundance of, 400. 
Murre, Eggs of, as food, 276, 277. 
Eggs of, taken at Bempton 

Cliffs, 405. 
in Farallones, 276. 
in Fame Islands, 406. 
Manner of perching of, 278. 
off coast of Wales, 392. 

NEBRASKA.Character of bird-life of, 

Nebraska, Halsey, Birds seen at, 

Nesting season, Earliness of, in 

England, 397. 

Nesting-site, Arboreal, in relation 
to gregariousness, 36. 

influenced by environment, 37. 
insular, Necessity for, among 

colonial birds, 35-37. 
not determined by condition of 

young birds at birth, 35. 
Nest-Relief, Ceremony of, 95, 96. 
Nevada, Pyramid Lake, White Peli- 
can on, 35. 
New England, Morton's account of 

birds of, 38. 

New Forest, England, Attractions 
of, for naturalist, 402. 



New Jersey, Englewood, Study of 
Blue Jay at, 3. 

Study of Meadowlark at, 15. 
New York, Gardiner's Island, Bird 
studies at, 34, 36, 37, 38-61. 

West Park, Bird studies at, 20. 
Nichols Town, Bahamas, visited, 


Nighthawk and Whip-poor-will con- 
fused, 29. 
Nighthawk, feigning lameness, 31. 

Nest of, 29. 
Nighthawk, Texas, Notes on, in 

Arizona, 246. 
Nightingale, Song of, 394, 395. 

Song season of, 393. 
Noddy, Flight of, 196. 
Nest of, 193. 
Notes of, 192. 
on Cay Verde, 208. 
Persecution of, by spongers, 


Tameness of, 192, 195. 
Terrestrial nesting habit of, 

how acquired, 195. 
Notes of birds, Significance of, 58, 

Nova Scotia, Sable Island, 37. 

OBEDIENCE of Young Birds, 8, 31, 

53, 68, 325, 328. 
Observations continuous and casual 

compared, 22. 
Opuntia cholla as site of birds' 

nests, 245. 

in Arizona, 244. 
Opuntia engelmanni in Arizona, 


Opuntia spinosior in Arizona, 244. 
Oriole, Northrop's, on Andros, 158. 
Osprey on Gardiner's Island, 46. 
Oyster-catcher on Cobb's Island, 63. 
Oregon, Bird studies on Klamath 

Lake, 294-304. 
Owl, Burrowing, at Halsey, Neb., 


in Florida, 80. 

Owl, Elf, living in giant cactus, 244. 
Owl, Screech, and Blue Jay, 10-14. 
Owl, Spotted, Probable call of, 263. 

PALO VERDE in Arizona, 244. 
Parental control of young birds, 8, 
31, 53, 68, 325-328. 

Paroquet, Carolina, Range of, 80. 
Partridge, Gambel's, Notes on, in 

Arizona, 246, 249. 
Pass, San Gorgonio, Force of wind 

through, 257. 
Pear, Prickly, in Arizona, 244. 

in Bahamas, 152, 207. 
Pelican, selecting island as home, 
371, 384. 

Wariness of, 373, 378, 381. 
Weight of, 370. 
Young of, 378, 386. 
Pelican, Brown, Arrival on Island 
of, 86, 92. 

Daily life of, 105-108. 
Development of young of, 94, 

driven from Pelican Island, 84, 


Eggs of, 95. 

exercising in the air, 108. 
fighting, 108. 
Flight of, 105. 
Means of defense of, 90. 
Mental status of, 108-112. 
Migration of, 88. 
Nesting sites of, 84, 92. 
Nests of, 93. 
Notes of, 96, 97. 
Plumage of, 89. 
protecting young, 112. 
recognizing young, 110. 
Time of laying of, 86, 88, 89, 

92, 95. 

Voice of, 92. 
Young of, die when exposed to 

sun, 110. 

Young of, eating young Peli- 
cans, 104. 

Young, Habits of, 99. 
Young of, how fed, 97, 98. 

Pelican, White, Aerial evolution of, 

deprived of home by Reclama- 
tion Service, 379, 380. 
Expanse of, 370. 
feeding young, 381. 
Flight of, 367. 
Knob on bill of, 376. 
in Saskatchewan, 384. 
on Klamath Lake, 380. 
Range of, 370, 372. 



Pelican Island flooded by norther, 

History of, 83. 
Pelicans, Former distribution of 


Peter, negro guide, 163. 
Petrel, Ashy, in Farallones, 282. 
Leach's, in Farallones, 282. 
Phalarope, Northern, at Monterey, 

Phalarope, Red, at Monterey, 268- 

Phalarope, Wilson's, Actions of, 


in Wyoming, 241. 
Nesting habits of, 321. 
Notes of, 321. 
Pnalaropes, Feeding habits of, 21)8- 


Pheasant, English, Barren hens of, 
destroying nests, 44. 

Concealing powers of, 42. 
Crow of, 42. 
Flight of, 42. 
Flight of young of, 42. 
on Gardiner's Island, 42, 43. 
Possible causes of decrease ol, 
on Gardiner's Island,, 43, 44. 
Phcebe nesting near "Slabsides," 

New nesting-sites of, 23. 
"Physalia," The, goes ashore on 
Cistern Key shoals, 222. 

Voyage in, 200. 

Pigeon, White-crowned, in Ba- 
hamas, 152. 
Pigeon, Wood, Abundance of, 400. 

Notes of, 400. 

Pika in Canadian Rockies, 360. 
Pimlico in Bahamas, 152. 
Pipit, Tree, Song of, 401. 
Piru, Calif., Birds seen at, 259-266. 
Piru creek, Gold first found in, 260. 
Plains, Attractiveness of, 337, 338. 

Life of, 338. 
Plains of Western Canada, Birds 

of, 337-349. 
Plover, Mountain, in Wyoming, 


Plover, Piping, nesting on Gardi- 
ner's Island, 36, 46. 
Plover, Wilson, on Cobb's Island, 

Plumers, proposed visit to Cuthbert 

Rookery, 137, 145. 
Poets and English birds, 391. 
Porpoises catching fish in the air, 


Potrero, Devil's, in California, 261. 
Price, W. W., Camp of, on Fallen 

Leaf Lake, 305. 
Protection of Farallone Island 

birds, 278. 

Ptarmigan. Distribution of, 357. 
Protective coloration of, 358, 


Ptarmigan Pass, Birds of, 355-366. 
Ptarmigan, White-tailed, in Cana- 
dian Rockies, 357, 362. 
Tameness of, 362-365. 
Puffins, off coast of Wales, 392. 

on Fame Islands, 406. 
Puffin, Tufted, in Farallones, 281, 


Pyramid Lake, Pelicans on, 376. 
to go dry by evaporation, 379. 

QUAIL, Mountain, in the Sierras. 

Valley, Notes of, 306. 
Quebec, Bird Rocks, 36. 

Bonaventure, 36. 

RAGGED ISLANDS, Anchor near, 204. 

Bir.> seen on, 205. 
Rail, Clapper, on Cobb's Island, 63, 


Rainfall in Bahamas, 167, 176. 
Rats, Absence of, on Gardiner's 

Island, 39. 
Reclamation Service, Influence of 

work of, on birds, 379, 380. 
Recognition of young by White Pel- 
icans, 382, 387. 
Reeds, quill, Abundance of birds 

in, 320. 

Reefs in Shoal Lake, 317. 
Reserve, Federal, for birds, 84. 
Ridgway, Robert, Studies of White 

Pelican by, 376. 
Roadrunner, Notes on, in Arizona, 

Robin, Abundance of, 415. 

Nesting habits of, on Gardi- 
ner's Island, 41. 
Robin Redbreast, Song of, 398. 



Robin, Western, in Canadian Rock- 
ies, 351. 
Rook, Abundance, of, in England, 


Rookery, Cuthbert, 135-148. 
Flamingo, 109. 
life, 124, 144. 
meaning of term, 81. 
Roosevelt, President, creates Re- 
serve of Pelican Island, 84. 

SALTON SEA, White Pelicans on an 

island in, 371. 
Sandpiper, Bartram's, nesting on 

Gardiner's Island, 46. 
Santa Catalina Mountains, 248. 
Sapsucker, Williamson's, Nest of, 

in Sierras, 308. 
Saskatchewan, Big Stick Lake, 

White Pelicans on, 384. 
Scott's ranch on Crane Lake, 342. 
Sea grape in Bahamas, 152, 207. 
Sea lavender in Bahamas, 152, 207. 
Sedge in Bahamas, 152. 
Selborne, England, Attractions of, 


Seton, Ernest, at Shoal Lake, Mani- 
toba, 325. 

attacked by Black Tern, 325. 
Sexual display of Prairie Hen, 233. 
Shasta, Mt., Grandeur of, 294, 297. 
Shearwater, Audubon's, in Baha- 
mas, 198. 

Nesting habits of, 198. 
Notes of, 199. 
on Cay Verde, 208. 
Shiras, George, 3d, Camp with, on 
Cay Verde, 206. 
Voyage in Bahamas with, 200, 


Shoal Lake, Manitoba, Birds ob- 
served at, 315-336. 
Sierras, Birds observed in, 305-310. 

Extent of, 255. 

Sink, Salton, Altitude of, 253. 
Skimmer, Actions of, when colony 
is approached 66. 

Arrival of,on Virginia coast, 66. 

Attacking, 66. 

Bill of, 72, 73. 

Date of laying of, 66. 

Eggs of, 68. 

Feeding habits of, 73, 74. 

Skimmer, Incubating habits of, 64. 
Nest of, 68, 70. 
Nest of, robbed, 66. 
Notes of, 66, 70, 71. 
Number of eggs laid by, 64. 
on Cobb's Island, 63, 64. 
removes egg-shell, 71. 
Young, Bill of, 73. 
Young of, difficult to see, 68. 
Young, Food of, 72. 
Young, Obedience of, 68. 
Skylark, Abundance of, 414. 

Song of. 397. 
"Slabsides," 21. 
Smith, E. W., Birds mounted by, 


Solitaire, Townsend's, Song of, in 
Canadian Rockies, 352. 

Song of, in Sierras, 310. 
Song of birds, to be measured by 
association, 391. 

stimulated by song, 318. 
Sparrow, House, in competition 

with native species, 41. 
in England, 398, 414. 
Sparrow, Intermediate White, 

crowned, Song of, 352. 
Sparrow, Ipswich, on SaJble Island, 


Sparrow, Nelson's, at Shoal Lake, 

Song of, 22. 

Sparrow, Savanna, possible main- 
land representative of Ipswich 
Sparrow, 37. 

Sparrow, Song, Geographic varia- 
tions of, 254, 257. 
Sparrow, Thick-billed Fox, in the 

Sierras, 306. 

Spoonbill, Roseate, formerly on 
Pelican Island, 83. 
in Cuthbert Rookery, 135, 136, 

141, 144, 146. 
Nest of, 142, 145. 
Sportsmen preserving birds, 134. 
Squirrel, Red, Absence of, on Gard- 
iner's Island, 39. 

Stilt, Black-necked, Actions of, 289. 
in San Joaquin Valley, 288. 
Young of, 289. 

Storm in Bahamas, 167, 202. 
Summerlin, Aden, 113. 



Starling, Abundance of, in Eng- 
land, 399, 414. 

increasing in America, 399. 

Stratford, England, Birds seen at, 

Sula cyanops, 216. 

Sula leucogastra in Bahamas, 200, 

Swallow, Barn, nesting at Glacier, 
B. C., 352. 

Swan, Wild, Former abundance of, 
in New England, 38. 

Swift, English, Notes of, 399. 

Swift, White-throated, bathing, 262. 
Nesting sites of, 262. 

TAHOE LAKE, Beauty of, 305. 
Tahoe-Placerville stage route, 309. 
Tanager, Scarlet, at nest, 28. 
Tanager (Spindalis) in Bahamas, 


Taylor, Will, guide, 237. 
Teal, Blue-winged, covering eggs, 


Teal, Cinnamon, in San Joaquin 
Valley, 290. 

Female of, always leading, 290. 

nesting. 290. 

Young of, 290. 
Temperature in Arizona, 245. 

in Canadian Rockies, 357. 

in Nebraska, 232. 

in Wyoming, 237. 
Tern, Black, defends young, 325. 

Feeding habits of, 320. 

following wagon, 315. 

Incubation period of, 325. 

in San Joaquin Valley, 290. 

Nesting habits of, 324. 

Nesting of, 290. 

raising nest after rain, 325. 

Young of, 290. 

Young, Obedience of, 325-328. 
Tern, Bridled, in Bahamas, 198. 

on Cay Verde, 208. 
Tern, Caspian, on Klamath Lake, 

Young of, swimming, 301. 
Tern, Common, attacking Fish 
Hawk, 47. 

in Saskatchewan, 344. 

Nervousness of, 336. 

on Cobb's Island, 63, 74. 

Tern, Common, on Shoal Lake, 336. 

Young of, swimming, 46. 
Tern, Forster's, in San Joaquin Val- 
ley, 290. 

on Cobb's Island, 63, 74. 
Tern, Gull-billed, Nest of, 36, 74, 75. 
Notes of, 75. 
on Cobb's Island, 63, 74. 
Tern, Least, formerly on Cobb's 

Island, 63. 

Tern, Sooty, Flight of, 196. 
nesting on ground, 195. 
Notes of, 196. 
on Cay Verde, 208, 209. 
shyer than Noddy, 196. 
Terns, Destruction of, on Cobb's 

Island, 64. 

Terns nesting on Martha's Vine- 
yard, Muskeget, and Penikese, 
Terns, Southern, laying fewer eggs 

than northern Terns, 198. 
Thrasher, Palmer's, Nesting of, in 

Arizona, 245. 

Thrush, Hermit, in Canadian Rock- 
ies, 351. 

Song of, in Sierras, 310. 
Thrush, Missel, Early nesting of, 

Thrush, Song, Abundance of, 414. 

Song of, 396. 

Thrush, Varied, Song of, in Cana- 
dian Rockies, 351. 
Timberline, Horizontal, near Keno, 

Oregon, 295. 

Tourist, destructive on Pelican 
Island, 95. 

Gun-bearing, Curse of, 84. 
Tropic Bird on Cay Verde, 208. 
Tule islands of Klamath Lake, 296, 


Turkey, Water, Appearance of, 

feeding young, 118. 
Flight of, 118. 
Habits of, 114. 
Nesting sites of, 116. 
Notes of, 116, 118. 

Valley, San Joaquin, 255. 
Vireo, Warbling, singing on nest, 



Virginia, Cobb's Island, 36, 63. 
Vulture, Turkey, compared with 
California Condor, 263. 
in Flamingo colony, 182. 
nesting on Man-o'-War Key, 

Wariness of, 265. 

WARBLER, Cape May, Abundance of 
on Cat Cay, 224. 

Kirtland's, seen on Cat Cay, 

Parula, on Gardiner's Island, 


Reed, Song of, 401. 
Willow, Song of, 401. 
Warden on Pelican Island, 85, 86. 
Warwick Castle, Birds seen at, 404. 
Washerwoman Keys, Birds of, 168. 
Waxwing, Cedar, at Monterey, 268. 
Weasel, Absence of, on Gardiner's 
Island, 39. 

Possible damage to nesting 
birds by, 36. 

West Indian birds in Florida, 17. 
Wheatear aboard ship, 392. 
Wheeler, W. M., in Bahamas, 164. 
White, Gilbert, 402. 

Whitney, Mt., Altitude of, 250. 

Whittaker, guide, 259. 

Wild Cats, Possible damage to 

nesting birds by, 36. 
Wild-fowl in western Canada, Ne- 
cessity for protecting, 314. 
Willet, Flocks of, in Snake Bight, 

Florida, 139. 

on Cobb's Island, 63, 74. 
Wilson, Alexander, on Fish Hawk, 

Winchester, England, haunt of 

Isaac Walton, 402. 
Woodpecker, Ivory-billed, Range 

of, 80. 
Wren, Cactus, Early nesting of in 

Arizona, 245. 

in Mohave Desert, 258. 
Notes of, 245. 
Wren, Carolina, Abundance of, on 

Gardiner's Island, 44, 45. 
Wren, Rock, in Farallones, 283. 

in Saskatchewan, 339. 
Wren-Tit, Distinctness of, 254. 
Wyoming, Bates' Hole, 235, 239. 

YUCCA TREE, at Hesperia, 258. 



This book is due on the last date stamped below. 

Jun 1 


SEP 8 1972 

Book Slip-25m-7,'61(Cl437s4)4280 

UCLA-College Library 

Q /J) L 005 670 564 3 

. UU/U/vi 





A 0( 

001 059 243 4