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

Plate LIV. Trumpeter swan. (Cygnus buccinator.),   p. 80

Page 80

of man himself. The constant persecutions of late years, how-
ever, have taught them more wary ways. They are a social bird,
associating in small flocks of six or eight. Easily caught and
tamed, they learn to imitate the human voice, and acquire very
cunning and mischievous habits. Their notes are infinite in va-
riety-musical, gurgling, querulous, squeaking, chattering, as its
mood may dictate. Their favorite feeding places are near running
streams. The nest is elaborately constructed, requiring several
Jays to complete. It is usually placed in a thicket, on the fork
of a tree, from ten to fifteen feet from the ground, and is con-
structed by an ingenious interlacing of coarse sticks, followed by
finer ones, cemented firmly together by fine well-worked clay. It
is in the shape of a ball, from eighteen inches to three feet in cir-
cumference, arched over by a bower of twigs. Two entrances are
made-one for the long tail, the other for the head-and the inside
is lined with hair, feathers, and fine grasses. Five eggs are
usually laid, the ground color grayish-white, sometimes tinged
with yellow, and blotched over with purplish-brown blotches. The
Magpie occupies a conspicuous place in zoological mythology.
Ovid gives us an account of a very interesting family of young
ladies who were changed into Magpies, and he further adds:
"And still their tongues went on, though changed to birds,
In endless clack, and vast desire of words."
The Greeks and the Romans dedicated the Magpie to Bacchus,
as all men when drunk are garrulous. In the old German myths,
witches transform themselves into this bird; while during the twelve
days between Christmas and Epiphany, one of the three birds
must be killed. In Norway, however, they are treated to a Christ-
mas dinner. The English peasants augur good or evil from the
number found together; thus, one for sorrow, two for mirth,
three for a wedding, four for a death.
Lapland Longspur-Lapland Lark Bunting. (lectraophanes lapnoxicus.)
Fig. 7.
This bird is an inhabitant of the polar regions, extending from
ocean to ocean; in the winter migrating as far south as Pennsyl-
vania, Kentucky, Illinois, and Kansas. It breeds abundantly in
Alaska, along the coasts of the Arctic sea, and up and down the
shores of Greenland, building its nest on small tussocks of grass
in moist meadows. This nest is composed of grass thickly matted,
and is warmly lined with feathers and hair. The eggs are seven
in number, of a greenish-gray ground, thickly mottled with choco-
late brown, pointed at the end. Its song, which is clear and very
melodious, is uttered while on the wing, and has won for its pos-
sessor the name of Greenland Nightingale. Its food is grass seed,
the seed of pine-cones, and juniper-berries. It associates with
Shore Larks and the Painted Larkspurs, and does not desert its
breeding resorts until driven from them by the heavy snows which
usually come early in September.
Trumpeter Swan. (Cygnus tuccinator.)
Fig. i.
The range of this magnificent bird is chiefly from the Missis-
sippi valley, extending northward as far as the Pacific.
According to Dr. Newbury: " The Trumpeter Swan visits Cali-
fornia, with its congeners, the Ducks and Geese, in their annual
migrations; but, compared with the myriads of other water-birds
which congregate at that season in the bays and rivers of the West,
it is always rare. Before we left the Columbia, early in Novem-
ber, the Swans had begun to arrive from the North, and frequently,
while at Fort Vancouver, their trumpeting drew our attention to
the long converging lines of these magnificent birds, so large and
so snowy white, as they came from their northern resting places,
and, screaming their delight at the appearance of the broad ex-
panse of water, perhaps their winter home, descended into the
Columbia." It is found in Canada, at Hudson's Bay, and occasion-
ally on the Atlantic coast. It breeds from Iowa and Dakota north.
Audubon found them in great numbers in the waters of the Ohio,
about the last of October. They remain in the waters near their
breeding places until the ice forms, when they migrate south, win-
teting in the waters south of the Gulf. They fly principally at
night, and take their names from the trumpet tones with which they
call to each other. One can hardly imagine anything more start-
ling than a succession of their loud, long, raucous calls dropping
out of the depths of a starless night. Hearne says: " I have heard
them, in serene evenings, after sunset, make a noise not very un-
like that of a French horn, but entirely divested of every note that
constituted melody, and have often been sorry that it did not fore-
bode their death."
Their flight is powerful, protracted, and made with seeming ease,
the neck stretched forward, the foot folded back, and the wings pro-
pelling with steady, sweeping strokes. Their food consists of a
variety of aquatic vegetables, roots, leaves, water-insects, snails,
small quadrupeds and reptiles.
Herring Gull. (Larns argentalus.)
Fig. 2.
The Herring Gull is common along the coasts from Cuba to
Labrador, breeding from New England northward. It is also found
in the interior, and occasionally on the coasts of the Pacific. Its
northern range is along the shores of Labrador, where it spends
its summers in great numbers, and breeds abundantly. It builds
its nest without much regard to place, sometimes using the ground,
at other times resorting to trees. The nests are large and bulky,
composed of moss, lichens, and dry grasses, scraped together in
a heap, with a small indenture made in the center, in which are
laid three eggs. These eggs are variously colored, some bluish,
greenish, or brownish-olive, and blotched over with a great variety
of markings. They are by no means dainty in their diet, partak-
ing of anything which comes within their reach-fish, vegetable,
and animal refuse thrown up by the ocean, shell fish, or carrion,
for which they contend with Turkey-buzzards and Fish-crows.
They migrate south from September to October, and during the
winter rarely indulge in their vocal powers, but when spring ap-
proaches, they make the air resound with their loud harsh cries.
Bonaparte's Gull. (Larus jphiladelpida.)
Fig. 3.
This is one of our most widely dispersed sea-birds, inhabiting
the Atlantic coast from Labrador to the Gulf, and along the shores
of our great inland lakes. Notwithstanding its great geographical
range, but little is known regarding its habits, and it has not beenn
definitely determined whether it breeds within the United States.
They spend their winters on the shores of the Southern States,
leaving for their northern breeding places some time in May, and
returning early in September.
Cones says: " No one of our species is more widely dispersed
than this. Go where we may in Normi America, the pretty bird
may be seen at one or another season, if we are not too far from
any considerable body of water. The Gull holds its own from
the Labrador crags, against which the waves of an angered ocean
ceaselessly beat, to the low, sandy shores of the Gulf, caressed by
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