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

[Plate LXXXIII. Brant goose--Black brant--brant or brent. (Bernicla brenta.) cont.],   p. 129

Page 129

attempts at capturing them. On several occasions, when
were fatigued with diving, the mother would receive all the
ones on her back, and swimming deeply and very fast, take
o the shore, where the little ones effectually hid themselves
tall grass and low tangled -bushes. The Scoter flies low
the water, with a swift and well-sustained flight. He dives
great facility, while on land his movements are unusually
ard. Gregarious, they congregate in large multitudes, and
ot for market, though the flesh is dark and not over savory.
)od consists of shell-fish, marine plants, and insects.
Brown Pelican. (Pelicanus fuscus.)
Fig. 1.
This Pelican is an inhabitant of the coast of California, and on
the Atlantic side ranges from Texas to North Carolina. He is a
constant resident of Florida, where he breeds on its numerous sand
bars and lonely mangrove islands. When once mated he is as-
siduous in his attentions to the female, assists her in building her
nest, and shares with her the toils of incubation. He breaks with
his bill dry branches of the trees, and lays them, one crossing an-
other, until a strong platform is constructed. On this platform roots
and withered plants are placed, in the centre of which a basin is
hollowed for the purpose of receiving the eggs. These eggs, which
are usually three, are rather elliptical in shape, and measure about
3.i2 by 2.I2 inches. The shell is thick, pure white, with faint
streaks of a rosy tint and blotches of a very pale hue. The young,
at first, are covered with cream-colored down, and are so abund-
antly supplied with food that immense quantities of putrid fish lie
scattered around the nest. They rapidly increase in size, and,
when the parent birds are away, become the easy prey of Vultures
and Crows. Notwithstanding Audubon's prediction that they would
soon become extinct, they are still found in immense numbers.
Flocks of several hundred are frequently seen, and they fairly
break the branches of the mangrove trees with their numbers and
weight. They fish regularly with the young flood of the tide,
diving from a great height; and fish weighing two and one-half
pounds have been taken from their pouches. This pouch measures
from six to ten inches, according to the age of the bird. The flight
of the Brown Pelican is remarkably well sustained, the bird at
times mounting to immense heights in the air, and remaining for
Yours on the wing. They propel themselves by alternate flappings
and sailing, and glide along with great speed and ease. On the
land they are by no means active, walking heavily, and frequently
reeling as if unable to stand. They sometimes stray very far from
their breeding haunts, as, within the last few years, they have been
shot off the coast of Massachusetts. They are not a noisy bird,
only uttering a loud rough grunt when excited. The young are
two years in arriving at maturity.
0aran-Crying Bird-Courlan. (Aramus gzgantcus.)
Fig. 2.
The Courlan is confined to the West Indies and to Florida. At
the latter place he is rarely found outside of the lagoons and bayous
of the great morass known as the Everglades. His nest is placed
among the tufts of grass that grow on the borders of these bayous,
and are so fastened to these tufts as to defy the effects of the tide.
It is composed of rank weeds matted together, forming a large
mass, in the center of which a depression is made for the purpose
of containing the eggs. These eggs rarely exceed five or six, and
are large for the size of the bird. The young are hatched in May,
and follow the parents soon after birth. They feed largely on a
large greenish snail. Their note, when startled, or during the
pairing season, which occurs in April, is a harsh sort of cackle.
The flight of the Courlan is slow and heavy and of short duration.
With head and neck extended to its full length, and with long legs
dangling beneath, he barely skims the tall weeds in which he
makes his home. In case of danger, he drops instantly into these
protecting weeds, where it is difficult to overtake him, even with
the assistance of dogs. When accidentally surprised, he rises ob-
liquely, and at such times is easily shot, but if only wounded, it is
useless to pursue him. His flesh is prized as an article of diet.
Stilt Sandpiper. (Micropalama himantojus.)
Fig. 3.
The Long-legged Sandpiper inhabits North America generally.
As yet he has not been observed west of the Rocky Mountains.
He is very rare in the United States, but is more plentiful in the
West Indies, Central and South America. In his migrations he is
occasionally shot in nearly every state in the Union. He breeds
in very high latitudes, and but very little is known regarding his
habits in this respect. Two sets of eggs, purporting to belong to
this Sandpiper, are in the Smithsonian Institute at Washington;
but Dr. Coues questions their identification, believing them to be-
long to the Buff-breasted Sandpiper, with which they are absolutely
identical. According to Audubon, they feed after the manner of
the Curlews, following the retreating waves along the sand, and
probing it with their bills to the full length. The flight of the Stilt
is rapid and regular. He moves in a compact body with his fel-
lows, and when about to alight inclines his body, thus alternately
showing the upper and the lower sides. They feed on worms, mi-
nute shell-fish, and vegetable substances, and their flesh is very
sweet and delicate. On foot, they move like the Curlews, and
when suddenly approached will squat upon the ground.
Brown or Sandhill Crane. (Grus canadensis.)
Fig. i.
The habitat of the Sandhill Crane extends from Florida through
the Mississippi valley and west to the Pacific coast, reaches the
interior of the fur countries, and touches upon the west coast of
Baffin's Bay. He breeds throughout this entire region. He is
found nowhere east of the Mississippi, with the exception of Flor-
ida. In Florida, the female lays her eggs all along from the mid-
dle of February until the middle of April. Further north, the
time of incubation is very much later, on the Yukon river fresh
eggs having been taken as late as mid-June. The nests are some-
times mere holes in the sand; at other times they are placed in the
midst of tall ferns, on high and open grounds. The Sandhill is f'
very shy and suspicious bird, and his favorite breeding places are
those which command long distances. The eggs are two in num-
ber, light brownish drab in color, with sparse markings, except on
the great end, which is covered with large irregular spots of dull
chocolate-brown. The shell is rough from numerous elevations,
resembling warts, and is punctulate all over. The eggs vary in
size and shape, ranging from 3.80 by 2.60 to 4.i0 by 2.40 inches.
The young are raised from the nest by Indians for food. They
are easily domesticated, eating refuse scraps about the settlements,
and consuming great numbers of insects. The markets of San
Francisco are always supplied with them, where the flesh is very
highly esteemed as an article of diet. Late in September they
co^mmence thpir oniithward miarations. flving, chiefly by nigaht.
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