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

Plate CXII. Dusky seaside finch. (Ammodromus maritimus, var. nigrescens.),   pp. 169-170

Page 169

recognized i:n all warm countries, where they are encouraged in
their familiarity with man, and rightly regarded as public bene-
is Curious ornithologists have gone so far as to try the flavor of
almost every bird. Among those not ordinarily used for food, and
which are comparatively unsavory, though not positively bad, may
be reckoned most of the cleaner sorts of rapacious birds. Thus a
young Hawk is passably good, though I believe that some such
quality as that which suggested the saying, ' tough as a boiled
Owl,' renders in the whole order. Crows and Ravens fall in the
same category; so do most of the water-birds below the true wild
fowl, such as Pelicans, Cormorants, Gannetts, Gulls, Loons, and
others that feed upon fish. But Vulture-meat is certainly not to be
thought of. One would think that the great Israelitic law-giver
hardly had need to interdict it, as he did however: I Of all clean
birds ye shall eat. But these are they of which ye shall not eat:
the Eagle, and the Ossifrage, and the Osprey, and the Glede, and
the Kite, and the Vulture after his kind.' As a more modern au-
thor has remarked, ' We presume this prohibition was religiously
observed, so far, at least, as it related to the Vultures, from whose
flesh there arises such an unsavory odor, that we question if all the
sweetening processes ever invented could render it palatable to Jew,
Pagan, or Christian.' Certain it is, that independent of the passing
contents of the alimentary canal, permanent ftetid, musky odors ex-
hale from the bones and muscles; and the same stench is entangled
in the web of feathers. It is retained for a long while, even after the
bird is killed and stuffed. So strong is it, that one author, an ex-
cellent naturalist, too, fancied it must be rather unpleasant to the
birds themselves I Thus, Pennant, speaking of the Vulture's
habit of basking in the sun, with half-opened, drooping wings,
supposed that this was done ' to purify their bodies, which are most
unpleasantly fcetid,' as he naively remarks. It is somewhat to be
wondered that, when Audubon's experiments came up, no person
of an ingenious and inquiring turn advanced a theory why Vultures
M ere deprived of the sense of smell; reasoning that if their olfac-
tories were acute they could not bring themselves to eat carrion,
and that moreover they would be continually unhappy in the
noxious atmosphere emanating from their own bodies; in short,
that a merciful Creator had so arranged that they might not smell
themselves I"
Dusky Seaside Finch. (Ammodromus maritimus, var. nigrescens.)
Fig. i.
rhis bird is a variety of the Seaside Finch (Ammoaromus mari-
tinus), represented on Plate XLIX, fig. 4, page 70.
White-winged Black Tern. (Hydrochelidon leucoptera.)
Fig. 2.
A female specimen of this species was obtained by Thure Kum-
lein, in Wisconsin, July 5, i873. It is an European bird, and this
is the only one ever taken or seen in North America. The speci-
men was presented to the Smithsonian by Dr. T. M. Brewer.
Pike's Tern; Slender-billed Tern. (Sterna longifiennis.)
Fig. 3.
This is a very rare bird, which is said to be met with on the
coast of California.
California Black Rail; Western Little Black Rail.
censis, var. coturniculus.)
(Porzana jamai.
Fig. 4.
This bird is a Pacific Coast variety of the Little Black Rail
(Porzanajamaicensis), Plate XCI, fig. 3, page I37.
Little Blue Heron. (Ardea caruzea.)
Fig. 5.
The Little Blue Heron is mostly confined to the South Atlantif
and Gulf States, from whence it migrates south into Mexico, and
north to New England, in summer.
Along the ocean and its tributary streams this bird is very
abundant, as it affords them their proper food, which consists of
worms, insects, and reptiles. It is active, and when occasion re-
quires, very silent, intent, and watchful. According to Nuttall,
these nocturnal and indolent birds appear to associate and breed
often in the same swamps, leading toward each other, no doubt, a
very harmless and independent life. Patient and timorous, though
voracious in their appetites, their defense consists in seclusion, and
with an appropriate instinct, they seek out the wildest and most
insulated retreat in nature. The undrainable morass grown up
with gigantic and gloomy forest, imperviously filled with tangled
shrubs and rank herbage, abounding with disgusting reptiles, shel-
tering wild beasts, and denying a foothold to the hunter, are among
the chosen resorts of the sagacious Herons, whose uncouth man-
ners, raucous voice, rank flesh, and gluttonous appetite allow
them to pass quietly through the world as objects at once contempt-
ible and useless; yet, the part which they perform in the scale of
existence, in the destruction they make amongst reptiles and in-
sects, affords no inconsiderable benefit to man.
Slender-billed Plover. (,gialitis microrhynchus.)
Fig. 6.
A new species of Plover from San Francisco. It is described
by Mr. Ridgeway (Am. Nat., vol. 8, page i09). Winter plumage
similar to, but much more slender than the Semi-palmated Plover.
Plate XL, fig. 5, page 56.
Bristle-bellied Curlew. (Numenius femoralis.)
Fig. 7.
A specimen of this Curlew in the Smithsonian, was taken by
F. Bischoff, at Fort Renai, Alaska, May i8, x869. It is said to
be a well-known bird on the Pacific.
Green Ibis. (Ibis thalafinus.)
Fig. 8.
White-faced Ibis. (Ibis guarauna.)
Fig. 9.
These twd new species of Ibises have lately been added to our
North American fauna by Mr. Ridegway (Am. Nat., vol. 8, page
Iio), who says that the Glossy Ibis of the West Indies and the
Eastern United States is absolutely indistinguishable from that of
Europe. A close examination of nearly a hundred American
specimens, reveals the fact that this continent has at least one, and
probably two, species distinct from the Glossy Ibis. Plate XCI,

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