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

[Plate CXVIII. Alaskan gray jay; dusky Canada jay. (Perisoreus canadensis, var. obscurus.) cont.],   pp. 179-180


Page 179


PRAIRIE HEN-PARTRIDGE-GROUSE-SAGE COCK-CORN CRAKE-KING RAIL, ETC. 179
hollow tree, of mesquite twigs, and it lays from two to four pure
white eggs.
Texas Prairie Hen. ( Cupidonia cupido, var. pallidicicda.)
Fig. 3.
A late Texas variety of the typical bird, an account of which is
found on Plate LV, fig. I, page 8i.
Massena Partridge. (Cyrtonyx massena.)
Fig. 4.
For a long time this beautiful bird was only known as a resident
of Mexico. Late observations found it a resident of some of the
Pacific States. Col. McCall, in his interesting account of this
bird, says:
"The species was not seen before crossing the San Pedro, but
it was not long before it made its appearance in the waste and rocky
regions into which we then entered. And from that time until we
reached the Rio Pecos, a distance of one hundred and forty miles
(westwardly by the route we traveled), it was frequently seen,
though I should not say it was very common. This region is a
desert of great length from north to south, our trail crossing it at
nearly right angles. The general face of the country is level, and
consists of either a crumbling argillaceous limestone, or a coarse,
gray sand, producing nothing but a sparse growth of sand plants.
Water is found only at long intervals, and, except at those points,
there is little cover for game, and apparently less food-the prin-
cipal growth being eacti, of which the most common is cactus
arborescens; yet here, among projecting rocks, or on the borders
of dry gullies or in loose scrub, I found the Massena Partridge in
all the beauty of his rich and varied plumage.
" The habits of this species are different from those of any other
species of Partridge that I have met with. They were in coveys
of from eight to twelve individuals, and appeared to be extremely
simple and affectionate in disposition. In feeding they separated
but little, keeping up a social " cluck" all the time. They were
so gentle as to evince little or no alarm on the appearance of man,
scarcely moving out of his way as he passed, and only running off
or flying a few yards, when perhaps half their number were laid
low by a shot. This inclined me to think that they might with
little difficulty be domesticated, although I found them here in a
barren, boundless waste, and nowhere near the habitation of man.
This trait of gentleness is the very opposite of those manifested by
the Scaly Partridge (Callipepla squamata), which I always ob-
served to be, though found perchance in grounds as little frequented
as these, remarkably vigilant, shy, and difficult to approach. The
call or signal note of this species is peculiar. I never saw it after
crossing the Pecos."
Dr. Coues well says:
"1 There are two points in the history of this species to which at-
tention may profitably be directed. One is the bird's remarkable
unsophistication. Living in what we should consider lonely deso-
lation, but which is to it a happy home, the bird has not yet learned
to throw aside the gentle, confiding disposition its Maker gave. No
contract with the lords of the universe, guardians of civilization and
progress, jobbers in ethics and esthetics, has yet begotten in its in-
genious nature the wholesome change that the requirements of self-
preservation will some day demand, and which it will instinctively
adopt. Birds that live in populous districts have had a lesson to learn
of bitter experience, and its fruits have been instilled through gen-
eration after generation, till a second nature replaces the first, and
a shrewd distrust of the whole human race is instilled. It is a
nauseous d6se that these Quail, like innocent children, have to
swallow; but the medicine acts vigorously and beneficially, heart-
longings and soul-breathings, and the like, giving way to some-
thing more substantial and sensible. Some day a fine old Cock
Massena shall say to his family, Itimec Danaos et donaferentes;'
the newly-born wisdom shall take well, and become gospel to suc-
ceeding generations, to outlive in the code of Qjuail ethics the
memory of the iEneid in the mind of men."
Sitkan, or Oregon Dusky Grouse. (Tetrao obscurus, var. fuliginosus.)
Fig. 5.
A northwest coast variety of the typical species, represented on
Plate CXV, fig. 3, page 175, met with from Oregon to Sitka.
Richardson's Dusky Grouse. (Tetrao obscurus, var. richardsoni.)
Fig. 6.
This is also a variety of the Dusky Grouse, represented on Plate
CXV, fig. 3, page 175, which has for its habitat the Rocky
Mountains of British America, south to the Yellowstone and Hell-
gate regions of the United States.
Sage Cock; Cook of the Plains. (Centrocercus urophasianus.)
Fig. 7.
The Sage Cock has for its residence a restricted part of the
western section of North America, known as dry and sterile
regions, where the artemisia, or sage-brush, abounds, and which
constitutes its principal food.  It is the largest of our species of
Grouse, weighing about six pounds, and is also the most unpalata-
ble for table use. The nest is constructed of dry grass and
slender twigs built under the sage-bushes. Its low song consists
of syllables resembling hurr-hurr-r-r-r-hoo, ending with a gut-
tural noise.
Corn Crake; Land Rail. (Crex pratensis.)
Fig. 8.
A well known species of Europe, that occasionally visits the
eastern coast of the United States from  Greenland.   Marshy
meadows, fields of green corn, and beds of reeds and rushes are
its favorite resorts, and in there its peculiar creaking note is con-
stantly to be heard. According to Yarrell, this call may be exactly
imitated by passing the edge of the thumb-nail or a piece of wood,
briskly along the line of the points of the teeth of a small comb,
and so similar is the sound, that the bird may be decoyed by it
within a very short distance. This discordant cry is continually
uttered by the male until a mate is found, and incubation is com-
menced, after which it is heard less frequent. The flesh of this bird
is good for the table.
California King Rail. (Railus elegans, var. obsoletus.)
Fig. 9.
This bird is a California coast variety of the King Rail, Plate
LXXIX, fig. 4, page 124.
Bartramian Sandpiper, or Tattler; Upland Plover. (Actiturus bar-
tramius.)
Fig. io.
The following extracts are taken from Dr. Coues interesting ac-
count of this species:
"' Bartram's Tattler, or the ' Upland Plover,' as it is generally
called by sportsmen, is a bird of wide and general dispersion in
the Western Hemisphere. while its casual occurrence in Europe


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