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Studer, Jacob Henry, 1840-1904. / Birds of North America
(1903)

[Plate XXV. The goosander. (Mergus merganser.) cont.],   p. 25


Page 25


IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER.              28~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
put together; but the inside is always lined with dry and warm
material, such as fine feathers. The eggs number from ten to
fourteen, of an oblong form, and a light greenish color, having a
strong shell of a fine grain. The young, which run about as soon
as they are hatched, soon take to the water. Those that are
hatched in nests on rocks tumble themselves down from consider-
able heights, lower and lower, until they reach the water. I have
seen young Goosanders tumble themselves down from heights of
ten or twelve feet, so that they lay below for more than a minute
in a stunned condition; but as soon as they recovered, they shook
themselves and made ready for another tumble. It seems that the
heavy down with which they are covered gives them a certain de-
gree of elasticity, and thereby shields them from injury. The
young Goosanders live at first exclusively on aquatic insects, and
keep on the surface of the water; but after a period of three days
they begin to dive, and, after a few days of practice, they be-
come as expert fishers as their parents. In their movements and
behavior, they at first resemble young Ducks; but after the first
eight days they exhibit the peculiar movements of the old birds.
Up to this time they take shelter under the wings of the mother-
bird to warm themselves after their fishing exercises; but they
grow very rapidly, and soon become so independent as to take no
heed of the mother or she of them. To produce warmth, they
huddle close together, forming a sort of round heap. In about six
weeks they are full grown, but not able to fly, as the growth of
the quill feathers does not quite keep time with the growth of the
body. The male bird takes no care of the young, except to act
as a sentinel, giving a warning on the approach of an enemy.
The young of the Goosander suffer but little from the enemies
that threaten other young swimming-birds. This is due to their
strength and rapid motion. The old ones suffer but hiale from en-
emies, as they are very cautious and shy, and their flesh is not very
desirable food, having a strong fishy taste.  Their feathers are
considered inferior to those of the Goose or Duck. The eggs of
the Goosander are collected in the northern regions by trappers
and fishermen, who are said to take from one of the same
nest successively over two dozen eggs, the mother-birad always re-
placing the egg that was taken away; but the egg must be pulled
out of the nest with a stick, and not taken by the bare hand, as in
that case the bird would abandon the nest.
PLATE XXVI.
The Ivory-billed Woodpecker. (Campephilus Principalis.)
Fig. i.
This most beautiful, formidable, and majestic Woodpecker is the
second in size of all our American species, there being but one
surpassing him in size in this country. The Imperial Woodpecker
of California (Campephilus Imperialis) stands at the head of
all Woodpeckers hitherto discovered. The beautiful dress of the
Ivory-billed Woodpecker, his superb carmine crest, his ivory-white
bill, his beautiful white and black body, his brilliant and piercing
yellow eye, and especially his graceful flight, entitled him to par-
ticular notice. The illustrious Audubon, in his poetic style of com-
position, compares the distribution of the brilliant colors on our
Ivory-billed with the style and coloring of that inimitable artist,
Van Dyke; and indeed those who are familiar with the paintings
of that great master, will readily acknowledge that Audubon is
perfectly right. The manners of the Ivory-billed have a dignity
about them far superior to the herd of common Woodpeckers. To
the latter, trees, shrubbery, orchards, fences, fence-posts, or even
old logs lying on the ground, are all alike interesting in their inde-
fatigable search after prey; but the Ivory-billed is not satisfied with
things of such an humble character, for he delights in selecting the
most towering trees of the forests in his exploring expeditions after
food or amusement.
The Ivory-billed is not met with in any of the Middle States of
the American Union; probably for the reason that the woods of
these States are not suited to the peculiar habits of this bird.
Sometimes a single individual of this species is met with on the
Atlantic coast, in Maryland, and a few more in the Carolinas; but
the lower parts of the latter and of Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana,
and especially of Mississippi, may be regarded as his favorite
resorts. In these States he resides permanently, breeding there,
and leading a life of tranquil enjoyment, and finding an abund-
ance of food for his subsistence in the woods that cover the dark,
gloomy, and deep swamps and morasses frequently occurring in
these States. On the west side of the Mississippi, he is found in
all the forests, which border the tributaries of that river, all the way
down the Rocky Mountains. His favorite haunts are those gloomy
swamps and morasses overshadowed by dark, gigantic cypresses,
stretching their bare and blasted branches, as it were, midway to
the skies. It is dangerous to penetrate into such swamps; and
were it not of strong desire tolearn their hidden secrets, no one
would encounter the hardships and risk connected with such an
enterprise. For miles upon miles the dangerous morass stretches
out, and progress toward the interior is not only baffled by low,
projecting arms of the gigantic trees, but often by the thorny under-
brush, interwoven with a dense growth of climbing and winding
plants of different kinds, and also obstructed by countless dead and
decaying trunks of fallen trees, stretching their dry and withered
branches heavenward in the most fantastic way. By far the great-
est difficulty to the explorer is the yielding and treacherous ground,
whose surface is covered with a beautiful carpet of splendid mosses,
water-lilies, sword lilies, and other kinds of flowers and plants.
For a time the explorer may walk safely enough on this beautiful
carpet; but let him tread as lightly as he may, on a sudden he
breaks through, and he sinks in the morass up to his body with the
consciousness that there is an almost bottomless quagmire under-
neath. Involuntarily grasping the overhanging branches, he drags
himself out, finding his legs covered with dark mud, emitting a
most disagreeable odor. Having thus had a practical warning of
the danger that lurks under his feet, the traveler proceeds, if pos-
sible, more cautiously, and this retards his progress still more.
Here and there his onward course is interrupted by suddenly com-
ing to a pond of considerable size, filled with dark, muddy water,
emitting a horrible stench, that almost benumbs the senses. Such
places are the favorite residence of the Ivory-billed. To him there
is no danger. He is high above the reach of foul air, and, owing
to his mode of locomotion, swamps and morasses do not interfere
with his progress from place to place.
The flight of this bird, although short, generally not extending
over a hundred yards at a time, is extremely graceful. When
crossing a large river, he shoots forward in beautiful undulations,
spreading out his wings fully, and only flapping them when he
intends to give a more vigorous push to his forward movement.
His flight from tree to tree is accomplished with a single sweep,
and in a most graceful curve, as he comes down from the highest
top of one tree and alights on another, on the lower part of the
trunk-no matter whether the trees are only twenty yards or a
hundred and fifty apart. On such occasions,, he appears most
amiable to the beholder, and his beautiful colors and markings
show him off to the greatest advantage.
I never heard his voice while he was on the wing, except in
mating time, when his sonorous voice is occasionally heard, while
executing some beautiful evolutions in the air. As soon as he
reaches the lower part of the trunk of a tree, and is ascending it
in a spiral line, his remarkably clear, loud, and pleasing voice is
heard from the distance of over half a mile. The sound of his
call, which strongly resembles the word " pat, pat, pat," is so
often
repeated that it seems as if the bird was uttering the sound during
IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER.
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