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

Plate LVIII. Sharp-shinned hawk--pigeon hawk. (Nisus fuscus.),   p. 85


Page 85


HAWKS-BLACK DUCK-BLACK-TAILED GODWIT-GOLDEN EAGLE.
PLATE LVIII.
Sharp-shinned Hawk-Pigeon Hawk. (Nisus fuscus.)
Fig. x.
This beautiful little Hawk is one of the most common of the
North American Falconidw. Its geographical range covers the
entire continent from Hudson's Bay to Mexico. It is one of the
most destructive birds, living almost entirely on smaller birds,
and extending its forays into the farm-yard. Its flight is peculiar-
swift, spirited, and irregular, now soaring high into the air, then
suddenly sweeping close to the ground. It seems to advance by
sudden dashes, and when once its prey is discovered, will pounce
upon it with a swiftness which makes escape impossible. It usually
builds its nest in thickets of spruce or hemlock, using fine twigs
and bits of scaly bark, and rarely lining them with any more
pliable substance. These nests are shallow and broad, containing
four or five eggs, ground color white with large blotches of sepia
running into each other, and measuring about 1.35 by I.X5 inches.
The same nest is used year after year, and if the female is robbed
of her eggs she immediately replaces them. The male assists in
incubating. Notwithstanding the great abundance of these birds
the nests are but rarely met with; Audubon having found three, and
Wilson and Nuttall none at all. Dr. Brewer describes several
which were discovered by more recent ornithologists.
Broad-winged Hawk, or Buzzard. (Buteo pennsylvanicus.)
Fig. 2.
This Hawk, though nowhere very common, is distributed over
eastern North America, from the Mississippi, north to the British
Provinces and south as far as Florida. It is also found in Cuba
and Central America. It arrives at the north about the first of
May and returns to winter quarters early in October. It prefers
wild and lonely districts, where, soaring above some somber forest
of pine and hemlock, it will for hours hover, watching its prey,
giving utterance to a shrill " key, ky-ah, ky-ah-ke-ee." Its food
consists of small birds, reptiles, insects, and squirrels. Fierce in
the defense of its nest, it has been known- to attack man with intense
rage, and not to surrender until life itself was extinct. Its nest is
rarely found, and is composed of coarse sticks and twigs loosely
wattled together, and lined with bits of bark and a few leaves and
feathers. The eggs vary from three to five, and measure about 2.I0
by i.6i inches, slightly rounded oval, of a grayish or dirty white,
covered with many blotches of various colored brown. Its flight is
easy, gliding with closed wings in long circles, or propelling with
short rapid strokes until great speed is attained. It usually flies
singly, and when its appetite is appeased, will rest for hours upon
the top of some favorite hemlock or spruce.
Dusky Duok-Black Duck. (Anas obscura.)
Fig. 3.
The Dusky Duck is one of the most abundant water-birds in
eastern North America, where it breeds from Labrador to Texas.
It is only partially migratory, spending its winters in the bays and
small creeks of the New England coast. Its nest is usually built
early in May, a meadow near a pond or stream being the favorite
locality, and is composed of pieces of grass and weeds neatly
arranged, nearly eighteen inches in diameter and four or five in
depth, and lined with the parents' down and feathers. The eggs
vary from seven to ten in number, are of a dirty yellowish-white
in color, and average about 2.30 by x.6o inches. This bird is
familiar to all sea-shore shooters, and immense numbers are yearly
offered in all the Eastern markets. They are very wary, and swim
and fly with great velocity. Owing to this peculiarity, sportsmen
resort to many stratagems in order to secure them; sometimes
skulking along the sea-marshes where they are known to feed at
night, and in the gloaming mowing them down. Another method
is to build a bower near the water, and using tame ducks secured
by a string for a decoy, entice the wild game within the reach of
the gun, when allowing them to settle down upon the water, open
the attack, and thus secure three or four shots before the birds are
out of reach.
Hudsonian, or Black-tailed Godwit. (Limosa hudsonica.)
Fig. 4.
This Godwit is rather a rare bird throughout the United States.
It is, however, more frequent along the Atlantic coast, though rarely
found further south than New Jersey. It breeds in the far north,
where it is more abundant. Its flesh is said to be excellent eating.
But little is known regarding its habits of nidification. A set of
four eggs, from the Anderson river, are in the Smithsonian Insti-
tution at Washington, which measure from 2.I5 to 2.20 inches in
length by about 1.40 in breadth. The ground of these eggs is
a heavily shaded olive-drab, with shadings of the same in darker
colors. This species strongly resembles the Back-tailed Godwit
of Europe, but may be distinguished by its inner wing-coverts,
which are black.
PLATE LIX.
Golden Eagle-Ring-tailed Eagle. (Aquzila canadensis.)
Fig. x.
The Golden Eagle is an inhabitant of all North America north
of Mexico, of Europe, and of Asia. Its favorite haunts are in the
extreme north, though it nidifies in Maine, New Hampshire, Ver-
mont, and in the Adirondack regions of New York. The nests
are used for many years in succession, and the older they grow,
the more formidable appearance do they present. A projecting
shelf of rock, jutting from some inaccessible cliff, and many feet
from the earth, is selected; though, when nature fails to provide
such a place, tall pines or other evergreens are made to do service.
A platform, from six to eight feet, is first laid, upon which a quan-
tity of dried sticks and twigs are placed lengthwise, the interstices
filled in with smaller twigs, mosses, dry grass, and over the center
an extra layer of the two latter materials is evenly spread. The
female is usually the architect, the male bringing the material for
her use. When first constructed, the nest is small; but every
year a new layer, varying from six to eighteen inches, is added,
and nests more than six feet in height have been discovered. The
female lays from one to three eggs, varying in size from 2.65 by
2.I5 to 3.50 by 2.50 inches. The ground color is whitish, variously
spotted, speckled, and splashed with colorings that range from a
rich red-brown to umber. The food consists of ducks, rabbits,
mice, partridges, the fawn of deer, and other small animals.
Though frequently captured, they have never been more than
partially tamed, and resent with the utmost fierceness the least
approach at familiarity. Cleanly in all their habits, after partak-
ing of food they take especial pains to remove every stain of
blood from their feathers. When in the act of feeding, they drop
their wings, and grasping the food with the talons of either leg,
tear it to pieces with their beak. The flight of the Golden Eagle
is powerful, and is capable of long continuance. MacGillivray, in
a poetic outburst in praise of the Golden Eagle, says that "in ten
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