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

Plate LXI. White-fronted goose--speckle-belly. (Anser albifrons.),   p. 87

Page 87

peculiar and, to a dainty palate, not pleasant flavor to the flesh.
From the circumstance of its fat, plump, little body, it is sometimes
called Butter-box as well as Butter-ball.
White-fronted Goose-Speckle-belly. (Anser albifrons.)
Fig. z.
The White-fronted Goose is generally distributed over the United
States, even reaching as far south as New Orleans. None, how-
ever, are known to breed within her borders. Their favorite win-
tering place is along the California coast, where they may be found
in immense numbers. They leave for their northern breeding
places as soon as snow disappears in the spring. According to
Richardson, these breeding places are in the woody districts north
of the 67th parallel, and from thence to the Arctic ocean. Beyond
a slight depression in the sand they make no nests, and lay from
six to ten eggs. The eggs are about 3.30 by 2.10 inches, dull
yellowish in color, with a shade of green, and marked with darker
tints. The flesh is much sought after for the table. Dr. Coues
states that they have learned to distrust the approach of horses, but
have no fears of horned cattle, and that hunters take advantage of
this fact, hiding themselves behind a bullock which they drive
within gunshot, when they shoot them in immense numbers.
Short-billed Marsh Wren. (Cistothorus stellaris.)
Fig. 2.
This bright little bird inhabits the eastern province of the United
States, Massachusetts being its northern range, and extending west
as far as the Platte. It winters in the Southern States and Mexico.
It reaches its northern limit early in May, and immediately after
pairing, commences to build its nest, which is constructed of grasses
and sedges, pensile, being suspended in the tops of grassy tufts in
marshy meadows. With great ingenuity these materials are woven
into a spherical form, with a small entrance on one side just under
the greatest bulge of the nest. A thin lining of the soft fibers of
silk-weed is added. The eggs are from six to eight, pure white,
the shells proving extremely thin and fragile, and measuring .57
by .44 inches. This bird rarely visits cultivated ground, passing
its life in marshy meadows. Its presence is heralded by a lively
and constantly repeated song, resembling " tsh, tship a day, day,
day, day," accompanied by alternate depressions and elevations of
the head and tail, and giving to the little musician a comical ap-
pearance. Its food is almost wholly confined to coleopterous in-
sects. Mr. Samuels says that a peculiarity of this bird is its habit
of building a number of nests in the same season, it is believed for
the purpose of securing protection, as when a person searches for
the nest, the male always seeks to decoy the intruder to the neigh-
borhood ,f one of these empty ones.
Cayenne Tern-Royal Tern, (Sterna regia.)
Fig. 3.
This bird is found upon the southern portions of the Atlantic
coast, reaching its northern limit on Long Island. It is found in
the Gulf of Mexico, on the Pacific coast as far north as California,
and in Soutb America on the coasts of Brazil and Peru. This
species is very shy, and when captured, very pugnacious. They
are frequently found several miles out at sea, but prefer low, shal.
low shores, where they find abundant food in crabs and kindred
marine animals. Their flight is strong and capable of long con-
tinuance, and when at a great height they will plunge toward the
water with speed almost incredible, and capture their prey. Their
notes are very harsh, resembling, according to Audubon, the syl-
lables " kwe-reek," which they repeat several times in succession,
and so loud as to be heard at the distance of half a mile or more.
They seem to make no nest, dropping two eggs on the bare sand.
These eggs measure about 2.75 by I.8i, are rather sharp at the
smaller end, of a pale yellowish ground color, spotted with dark
umber and faint purplish marks. The young are easily distinguished
from the old in having a yellow, instead of a bright red bill, and
spotted plumage.
Red Phalarope. (Phalaropus fulicarius.)
Fig. 4
This bird is generally distributed over the northern part of the
Northern Hemisphere, seeking very high latitudes for the purpose
of breeding, and migrating to the tropics during the winter. Its
range is more particularly confined to the coasts, though Audubon
shot his first specimens in Kentucky. It is also an inhabitant of
the north and east of Europe, being found in great abundance in
Siberia, upon the banks of the lakes and rivers of these regions,
and on the borders of the Caspian Sea. Their flight is very
rapid, closely resembling the Sandpiper's. They rarely dive, but
swim with great rapidity. The nest consists of a hole or slight
depression in the ground, which they line with withered vegeta-
tion, and in which from three to four eggs are laid. These eggs
vary so in color and markings that it is difficult to describe them.
The ground colors are sometimes dark greenish-olive, at other
times light grayish-drab, with very bold and heavy markings of
dark chocolate or light brown. In size they measure about
by .82 inches. The flesh, according to Audubon, proves capital
American Avocet. (.Recurviroslra americana.)
Fig. 5.
This bird inhabits the United States and British Provinces,
breeding throughout these regions. It is rare in New England,
and winters on our southern borders, touching Guatemala. It is
most abundant along the Mississippi valley, and from thence west-
ward to the Rocky Mountains. Their favorite location is a shal-
low, reedy pond, through which they like to wander, up to the
belly in the water, with a graceful, deliberate step, and a constant
swaying of the head and neck. When they are disturbed, they
rise from the water, stretch back their long legs as a counter-
poise to their equally long neck, and uttering a peculiar " click,
click, click," flip leisurely to a little distance, and again alight,
Lolding their long wings for an instant almost upright, and then
deliberately folding them into proper place. Their nests are built
in thick tufts of grass, composed of the same material in a dried
state, and lined with softer fibers of the same. The eggs are usually
four in number, the ground color ranging from a dark olive to a
brownish-drab, evenly marked with spots of chocolate brown, and
measuring about 2.00 by I.37 inches. Its food consists of marine
worms, snails, and the various insects that abound among soft
muddy bottoms.

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