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

Plate LXIV. Cinnamon teal--Red-breasted teal. (Querquedula cyanoptera.),   p. 92

Page 92

about 1.40 by T. inches. These are of a clay color, with delicate
shadings of olive, and thickly covered with large, distinct spots of
umber-brown. Their favorite haunts are rocky shores, where they
may be found in flocks of a dozen or more. Their flight is rapid,
and their only musical accomplishment a feeble "1 weet," which
they repeat several times in succession. Their food consists of
shrimps, shell-fish, and worms, and in autumn and winter, when
fat, the young are much sought for food.
Wilson's Plover. (-gialilis wilsonii.)
Fig. 10
Wilson's Plover is confined almost entirely to the Atlantic and
Gulf coasts of the United States, a few possibly being found off
the shores of California. It rarely reaches farther north than Long
Island, though occasionally seen in Massachusetts. It is a wading,
not a swimming bird, reaching its northern range sometime in
April, when they gather in small flocks of some twenty or thirty,
and ramble over the sea-beaches in search of food. After becoming
sufficiently recuperated from the fatigues of their journey, they
pair and set up housekeeping. This is attended with but little la-
bor, a simple hole being scratched in the sand, with a few bits of
sea-weed and grass for a lining, large enough to hold three eggs
of a pale olive-drab, tinted sometimes with brown or again with
green, thickly spotted all over with very dark, irregular dots and
small flashes, and measuring about I.30 by 1.02 inches. The flight
of this Plover is alike rapid and elegant, and when on the wing
it frequently gives utterance to a clear, melodious note. Its food
consists of small aquatic insects, minute shell-fish, and worms, and
they feed as much by night as during the day. When fat, they
are in great request among sportsmen.
Cinnamon Teal-Red-breasted Teal. (.tuerquedula cyaopJtera.)
Fig. I.
This Teal was entirely unknown to our early ornithologists, and
until the last twenty-five years was supposed to belong entirely to
South America. The many recent exploring expeditions made
by the United States Government throughout the Western Territo-
ries have proved it to be an abundant bird throughout all the region
west of the Rocky Mountains, and as far north as Columbia. Its
nests, so far as found, have been built in swamp grass, near some
stream, and lined with down. In the Geological Survey of 1872
is the record of such a nest, containing nine eggs. These eggs
were oval in shape, ranging from a creamy white to a pale buff,
and measuring I.75 by 1.30. But little has been recorded regard-
ing its habits. In fact but little is known regarding the habits of
the water-birds of America. Most of them breed beyond the range
of the United States in the Arctic regions, or in the unsettled por-
tions of our Western Territories. To Dr. Coues, of the United
States Army, the history of water-birds is largely indebted for care-
ful and painstaking labor; but there still remains a vast and un-
trodden field for some future lover of nature to explore.
AnhingaSnakebird-Waterturkey-Darter. (P/ies axhinga.)
Fig. 2.
This bird of many names is common in the Southern Atlantic
and Gulf States, extending its range up the Mississippi as far as
Southern Illinois, and is also found in New Mexico. It is a con-
stant resident of Louisiana,- Alabama, and Georgia; is four
the Carolinas from April until November, inhabiting the ri
lakes, and lagoons of the interior. Their nests are invari
placed over water, sometimes in low bushes, and then again oi
tops of tall trees. These nests are fully two feet in diameter, i
posed of dry sticks laid crosswise, and covered with leaves, bi
moss, and slender roots. The eggs, which are usually four
of a dull, uniform, whitish color in appearance, though really
light-blue, the former color arising from their being covered
a sort of chalky coating, and are about 2.75 by 1.25 inches in
They are excellent swimmers, and, from the sinuous motion a
head and neck when thus exercising, have received the nan
Snake-bird. Their food consists of fish, shrimps, reptiles,
kindred aquatic fauna, which they devour in great quantities. 1
are expert divers, swift in flight, graceful in all their movem
and when on land walk and run with great ease, continually giving
utterance to rough guttural notes. Audubon expresses his admira-
tion for this bird by devoting twenty-three large octavo pages of
his Ornithological Biography to a description of its haunts and habits.
Brewer's Blaokbird-Blue-headed Graokle.
(Scolecophagas cyaxo-
Fig. 3.
Brewer's Blackbird is common from Eastern Kansas and Minne-
sota to the Pacific, extending south as far as Mexico, and breeding
throughout its entire range. These birds are only gregarious after
the breeding season is over, when they may be found in flocks of
from fifty to one hundred or more. Their nests are sometimes
placed upon the ground, at other times in the crotch of a tree sev-
eral feet from the earth. When the former position is selected, a
dry knoll in the center of a clump of bushes, surrounded by low,
swampy morasses, is chosen, and a nest, large for the bird, is built
of weeds, grass, and other material, and neatly lined with hair,
small roots, silky bark, and fine hay. When a tree is used, an
outer wall of twigs is interlaced together, sometimes slightly plas-
tered with mud, and lined as in the former case with hair, rootlets,
and fine grasses. The eggs vary from four to six, the ground
colors presenting sometimes a dull, olivaceous-gray, at others a
clear, pale, bluish or greenish hue, thickly spattered over with dif-
ferent shades of brown, and measuring about i.o5 by .78 inches.
They feed in flocks on the ground, frequenting cattle-yards, trav-
elers' camps, running with nimble steps, yet always with ease and
grace. When their hunger is appeased, they fly to the nearest
tree, passing the period of digestion in silence, and then breaking
out into an unanimous concert. Their notes are not soft or sweet,
but from their animation, rapidity, and variety, very pleasing.
Coues tells us that the usual note is like the sound of pebbles
smartly struck together, rapidly repeated an indefinite number of
times. When fat, they are said to make very good eating.
Brown-headed Nuthatoh. (Sitta iusi//a.)
Fig. 4
This active little Nuthatch is confined to the South Atlantic
States, and wherever found is a constant resident. Its- favorite
haunts are pine forests, where it is enabled to gratify its excessive
fondness for the seeds of this evergreen. It is a restless bird, seem-
ingly never quiet, but pursuing its search for food over fences and
trees, running up and down the latter, prying into every hole and
cranny. During breeding season, this little bird-man and wife are
always together, keeping up an unflagging conversation, which
sounds like " dent I dent ! dend I dend I " They pair early, and
February commence the task of house-building, both working con-
stantly and eagerly together. The dead portion of some log or

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