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

Plate LII. The spoonbill, or shoveller duck. (Spatula clypeata.),   pp. 75-76

Page 75

which-they can easily be distinguished from the wild Pigeon.
They fly with great swiftness, alight on trees, fences, or on the
ground indiscriminately; are exceedingly fond of buckwheat,
hemp-seed, and Indian corn, and feed on the berries of the holly,
the dogwood, and poke, huckle-berries, partridge-berries, and the
small acorns of the live and shrub oak.
"1 The flesh of this bird is considered much superior to that of
the wild Pigeon; but its seeming confidence in man, the tender-
ness of its notes, and the innocency attached to its character, are,
with many, its security and protection; with others, however, the
tenderness of its flesh, and -the sport of shooting, overcome all
other considerations. The nest is very rudely constructed, gen-
erally in an evergreen, among the thick foliage of the vine, in an
orchard, on the horizontal branches of an apple-tree, and, in some
cases, on the ground. It is composed of a handful of small twigs,
laid with little art, on which are scattered dry, fibrous roots of
plants; and in this almost flat bed are deposited two eggs of a
snowy, whiteness.  The male and female unite in feeding the
young, and they have rarely more than two broods in the same
season. This species is twelve inches long, and seventeen inches
The White Pelican. (Pelicanus trachyrhynch us.)
This species is rarely ever met with in the Middle or New
England States, although west of the Mississippi, and south to
Central America, it is abundant. Its movements are slow, awk-
ward, and compressed; but its flight is easy and firm, and their
swimming is easy and gracefull.  The male and female are col-
ored alike. Regarding its habits, Audubon says:
" The White American Pelican never descends from on wing upon
its prey, as is the habit of the Brown Pelican; and, although on many
occasions it fishes in the manner above described, it varies its mode
according to circumstances, such as a feeling of security, or the acci-
dental meeting with shoals of fishes in such shallows as the birds
can well compass. They never dive for their food, but only thrust
their head into the water as far as the neck can reach, and with-
draw it as soon as they have caught something or have missed it;
for their head is seldom out of sight more than half a minute at a
time. When they are upon rivers, they usually feed along the
margin of the water, though, I believe, mostly in swimming depths,
where they proceed with greater celerity than when on the sand.
While thus swimming, you see their necks extended, with their
upper mandible only above the water, the lower being laterally
extended, and ready to receive whatever fish or other food may
chance to come into the net-like apparatus attached to it.
" The White Pelican appears almost inactive during the greater
part of the day, fishing only soon after sunrise, and again about
an hour before sunset; though, at times, the whole flock will
mount high in the air, and perform extended gyrations, in the man-
ner of the Hooping Crane, Wood Ibis, and Vultures.   These
movements are probably performed for the purpose of assisting
their digestion, and of airing themselves in the higher and cooler
regions of the atmosphere. Whilst on the ground, they at times
spread their wings to the breeze, or to the rays of the sun; but
this act is much more rarely performed by them than by the Brown
Pelicans. When walking, they seem exceedingly awkward, and
like many cowardly individuals of our own species, are apt to snap
at objects which they appear to know perfectly to be so far superior
to them as to disdain taking notice of them."
The nest is built according to circumstances-sometimes on the
ground, in bushes near the water, and on rocks. The eggs num-
ber one to three, bluish-white, with a thick, chalky crust. This
species is five feet long, and eight and a half feet broad.
The Spoonbill, or Shoveller Duck. (Spatula dypeata.)
Fig. 1.
This species inhabits the temperate regions of North America,
as well as Europe, Asia, and Australia, and only occasionally is
it met with in the more northern latitudes. It is to be met with, in
this country, throughout the continent, wintering from the middle
districts southward to Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, atid Jamaica.
This bird is distinguished from others of its group by its very
remarkable and large bill, slender at its base, very broad and
vaulted toward its extremities, and finely denticulated at its mar-
gins. The remarkable beak possessed by this bird is admirably
suited for the use to which it is destined, its laminated sides being
furnished with numerous nerves, which endow it with a delicate
sense of touch, enabling it at once to select such matters as are
fitted for sustenance-insects, mollusks, worms, crustacea, small
fish, and also grass and other vegetable matter, found on the
muddy shores of lakes, marshes, and rivers, which are frequently
visited by it, although it seems to prefer inland lakes or marshes
to the more open seas and rivers.  It possesses a powerful flight,
and is a most expert diver and swimmer. "1 The Shoveller," says
Audubon, " walks prettily, and I have often admired its move-
ments in the puddles formed by heavy dashes of rain in our
Southern corn-fields, where I have found it in company with the
Wood Duck, Mallard, and Pintail. Its flight resembles that of
the Blue-winged Teal, and in tenderness, as well as in flavor, its
flesh rivals that of that beautiful bird as an article of food. No
sportsman who is a judge will ever pass a Shoveller to shoot a
Canvas-back. It is rarely ever found on salt water, and then only
when compelled to resort thither. The nest, which is usually
placed on a tuft of herbage, in places near water, that are difficult
of access, is composed of fine grass, the eggs being carefully
covered with down from the mother's breast. The eggs usually
number eight, and are of a buffy-white, tinged with green. This
bird is nineteen inches long, and thirty inches from tip to tip of
The Mallard Duck-Wild Duck. (Anas boschas.)
Fig. 2.
This species is the original of our common domestic Duck. It
is not only esteemed for the table, but is prized by the sportsman
for the healthy field-exercise it affords him. It is common through-
out the whole of North America, except New England, where it
is very scarce, and, it may be said, is everywhere domesticated.
Parker Gilmore, in his interesting work, " Prairie and Forest,"
gives an extended account of this bird. We take the liberty to
copy the following:
" In my protracted rambles about the world, I know no portion
where the Mallard can not be found. I have always been pas-
sionately fond of wild-fowl shooting. and the bags that I have
made in the United States and Canada of this noble bird, far
exceeded those obtained elsewhere. As wild fowl are nearly all
migratory by inclination, or are compelled to be so from the
changes of the seasons, it is of great importance that you should
visit the various haunts at the proper periods of the year. How-
ever, the rule is, for successfully carrying on war against the web-
footed families, go North in summer and South in winter. In
June, July, and August, the wild-rice fields of the numerous laby-
rinths of lakes of Minnesota and the Northwest territory perfectly
swarm with wild fowl, while in December and January they will
be found equally numerous on the large bayous and lagoons that
TV  DL U I ... -IJC -   ll-  I   I - L LI.   L   L AL1b bIb 15 p J I. V JI
co ur Use,   III tii e  LII 41-
! mediate portion of country between Minnesota and the Gulf of

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