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

[Plate LXIV. Cinnamon teal--Red-breasted teal. (Querquedula cyanoptera.) cont.],   p. 93

Page 93

tree is chosen, and, varying from a few to thirty or forty feet in
height from the ground, a hole is bored ten or twelve inches in
depth, widening at the bottom, and at its mouth just large enough
to admit the occupant. The eggs are laid on the bare wood, and
vary from four to six in number. They are rounded oval in shape,
with a white ground, thickly sprinkled with fine reddish-brown
spots, and measure about .6o by .50 inches, being but very little
larger than those of the Humming Bird. They are said to raise
two and sometimes even three broods in a season. After the duties
of bird-raising are over, they congregate in flocks of fifty or more
and go roving through the pine forests the most joyous of trouba-
dours. They have little fear of man, pursuing their avocations
with but small regard for his presence.
Kentucky Warbler. (Ofiorornis formosus.)
Fig. 5
The Kentucky Warbler is known throughout Eastern United
States, as far north as Connecticut, Cleveland, and Chicago, and
west to Kansas and the Indian Territory, breeding throughout its
United States range. It is a beautiful bird, very lively and sprightly
in its habits, frequenting low, damp places in the wood. Very
rarely is it found indulging in any elevated flight, but moving rap-
idly along dim forest paths, peering under leaves for some unfor-
tunate spider or bug, occasionally leaping a few inches in the air
to catch some dainty morsel screened in hanging leaves.  Its song
is not prolonged, a sort of bell-like warble which has been variously
interpreted, as " whittishee, whittishee," by Dr. Hay; "1
tweedle, tweedle," by Wilson, and by Mr. Ridgeway as a sharp
stship." The nest is built upon the ground under a tuft of grass
or an overhanging bush. It is usually too large for the bird, inele-
gant in shape, composed outwardly of loose leaves with a lining
of fine interwoven roots. The eggs are from four to six in number,
pure white in color, finely flecked with bright red dots, and meas-
uring about .68 by .55 inches. Wilson represents this bird as most
belligerent in its habits, always pursuing its fellows without mercy.
It winters in Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, and Cuba, arriving at
its more northern breeding places in May, and departing the last
of August.
Sandwich Tern. (Sterna cantiaca.)
Fig. 6.
This Tern ranges all along the Atlantic coast of North America
to Southern New England, breeds as far south as Honduras, and
touches Brazil in its southern limit. It is also an inhabitant of the
coasts of England. Powerful in its flight, it darts down upon its
prey, which consists of small fish, with incredible rapidity, half or
wholly immerses its body in the water, and then rises again without
seeming effort. Its cries, according to Audubon, are sharp, grating,
and loud enough to be heard at the distance of half a mile; are re-
peated at intervals when on the wing, and are used as a note of
warning to any one intruding on its breeding grounds. Such
grounds are usually the sandy beaches of the ocean, on which the
eggs are dropped at short intervals and without any particular ef-
fort at nest-building, the merest depression being scooped out for
the purpose of receiving the eggs, which vary from two to three in
number, and are of a yellowish gray in color, spotted and blotched
with different shades of red, pale blue, and umber, and measuring
about 2.13 by 1.20 inches. These eggs are eagerly sought after
by fishermen and hunters, furnishing, according to Audubon, capital
eating. ,
Painted Bunting-Nonpareil. (Cyanospiza ciris.)
Fig. 7.
The range of this exquisite little bird is confined to the South
Atlantic and Gulf States, as far west as Texas, and south as far
as Panama. It is also an inhabitant of Cuba, and has been observed
by Mr. Ridgeway in Southern Illinois. They commence house-
building early in May, constructing their habitations in the lower
branches of orange trees, though sometimes using low brambles
and berry bushes. The nest is composed outwardly of coarse
grasses, lined with hair and other equally soft material. The eggs
vary from four to five, are of a pearly bluish-white sprinkled with
black spots, and measuring about .8o by .65 inches. It flies only
at short distances, moves upon the ground with ease and grace,
and possesses a song of great sprightliness and grace. This song
resembles the Canary's, and is continued during the day. From
the beauty of its plumage, the sweetness of its melody, and the
docility of the bird, many of them are caught and confined in
cages. They take readily to captivity, breed in confinement, and
are, according to Audubon, exported in quite large numbers to
Europe. The bird-catchers take advantage of the pugnacious dis-
position of this bird to secure them. A stuffed male bird is set in
a trap, which is attacked by the first Bunting which may notice it,
who is at once caught; and it is said that even after being thus im-
prisoned it keeps up the assault. In confinement, a single pair
has been known to bring forth three broods in a season.
Eider Duck. (Somateria mollissima.)
Fig. v.
This celebrated Duck, whose down is so greatly prized in com-
merce, is abundant throughout the Arctic and North Atlantic coasts,
migrating in winter south to New England, rarely reaching the
Middle States. They begin to make their nests about the last of
May, in sheltered places among rocks, in the midst of low bushes,
or under the spreading branches of stunted firs. These nests are
sunk as much as possible in the ground, formed of sea-weeds,
mosses, and twigs closely matted together; and contain from four to
five eggs, which are of a pale green color, varied from an ovate
to a sharply-pointed ovoidal, and measuring about 3. by 2.25 inches.
When the eggs are laid, the female plucks the down from her breast
and carefully places it beneath and around them, and, when she
leaves her nest for a moment, pulls this down completely over them
for the purpose of keeping them warm.
When the nest has been despoiled of its eggs and covering, the
Duck immediately commences anew, plucking her breast a second
time, and if the robbery is again committed, the male bird's breast
is brought in requisition; but if this is again taken, the birds seek
other and safer quarters. When the young are hatched, the mother
leads her brood to the water or carries them thither in her bill,
teaches them how to dive for their food, and by the first of August
leads them southward to a more genial clime. The Eider Duck
flies with great rapidity, rarely very far inland, keeping near the
water, is an expert diver, remaining a long time beneath the waves,
and feeds on the roe of fish, mollusks, and crustacea. It has been
reared in captivity and with little trouble can be domesticated, and
will, from the value of its feathers, down, eggs, and even flesh,
prove a valuable acquisition.
In Iceland these birds are guarded with the most sedulous care,
whoever kills one being obliged to pay a fine of thirty dollars, and
even the secreting of an egg or the pocketing of a little down
being punishable by law. This down is very valuable, bringing
in market from three to four dollars per pound. The contents of a
nest, though bulky enough to fill a large hat, rarely weigh over an
ounce, however. Where the birds are guarded by law they increase
in immense numbers, breeding so thick that it is almost impossible
to walk without treading upon them, and so tame that they may be

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