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

Plate LXXXIII. Brant goose--Black brant--brant or brent. (Bernicla brenta.),   pp. 127-128


Page 128


128 RUDDY DUCK-BLACK GUILLEMOT-RED-THROATED DIVER-SCOTER DUCK.
marine plants, particularly of the Zostera marina, or eel grass,
of which he is very fond. He prefers to take his stand away from
marshy ground, where, if undisturbed, he will continue busily to
feed until the rising tide takes him on its bosom and floats him off
to sea. He is very local in his attachments, returning from year
to year to the same feeding grounds. He does not associate much
with other waders, though sometimes seen feeding in their vicinity.
His flesh is highly esteemed, and by some is considered nearly as
good as that of the Canvas-back. He is a shy bird and not easily
approached, and is said to dive only when he is wounded. His
flight resembles that of other geese, being slow and sedate. When
the weather is boisterous he finds shelter in estuaries and rivers.
Dr. Coues says that when ascending the Mississippi, he observed
vast numbers in flocks on the banks and mud bars of that river,
and he reports him as rare or casual on the Pacific coast. His
nest is very coarsely constructed, and the eggs are pure white.
The female, though smaller than the male, resembles him. In
flight, they make a trumpet-like noise, which, heard at a distance,
is said to resemble that of a pack of harriers or fox-hounds in full
cry.
Ruddy Duck. (Erismatura rubida.)
Fig. 2.
This Duck inhabits the whole of North America, and is abund-
ant throughout the interior. He is equally fond of salt, brackish,
or fresh water, and is found on the sea-coast as well as the lakes
and ponds of the interior. In his migrations he follows the sea-
coast or the courses of our rivers. His flight is rapid, and accom-
panied with a whirring sound. He rises from the water with con-
siderable difficulty, being obliged to assist himself with his broad
webbed feet, and, as it were, run for some way upon the water.
When once on the wing he sustains himself with much ease, and
makes extended journeys. In the water lhe moves with much ele-
gance and ease.  He is extremely expert at diving, by which
means he obtains his food, which consists of the roots and blades
of grasses, the growth of fresh-water ponds, while on the sea-coast
he devours crabs, fiddlers, and kindred marine animals. His own
flesh, when he is fat and young, is highly esteemed. His note is
low and closely resembles that of the female Mallard. When
wounded he immediately dives, and if taken alive is very pugna-
cious. He is not a shy bird, and will allow a very near approach.
He is also a very sociable bird and frequents the company of Teals,
Scaups, Shovellers, and Mallards. His breeding habits are not
yet fully understood. Dr. Coues found him breeding abundantly
on the line of the 49th parallel, between Dakota and the British
Provinces, as late as July. Mr. Ruthven Deane found two in the
Boston market, on the ioth of September, with wings not suffi-
ciently fledged to fly. These were shot at Cape Cod. They mi-
grate southward, in large flocks, through Massachusetts during
the months of October and November.
,ck Guillemont-Sea Pigeon. (Uria grylle.)
Fig. 3.
The Black Guillemont is confined to the northeastern coast of
America and Greenland. In winter he strays as far south as New
Jersey. His nest, according to Audubon, is made of smooth,
small pebbles, which he brings from a distance in his mouth for
the purpose. These pebbles are shaped into a regular nest, and
are laid up about three inches high. When, however, the spot
selected for a nest is situated so as to preclude all dampness, no
attempt is made at nest-building, the eggs being laid on the bare
rock. These eggs are three in number, are white, and thickly
spotted with dark brown, especially around the larger end. They
are disproportionately large, measuring 2.37 by i.62 inches, and
are highly prized as an article of food. Before the young are able
to fly, they are led to the water by their parents, where they swim
and dive with great ease.  The Guillemont's favorite breeding
place is about the different entrances to the Bay of Fundy and on
the rocky shores of the island of Grand Manan. Here, wherever
a fissure in the rock may be seen, one of these birds, during the
period of incubation, is pretty sure to be found. His flight is very
rapid and long continued, and as he propels himself through the
air, the black of his lower part and the white of his wings alter-
nately appear. On shore he walks with more than ordinary ease,
and steps from rock to rock with the aid of his wings. His food
consists of shrimps and other marine animals. In Hastings' Polar
World, we are informed that St. George, of the Pribiloro Island,
off Russian America, is inhabited in common by Sea Lions and
Black Guillemonts, the latter having taken possession of the places
unoccupied by the former, where they fly fearlessly among them,
or nestle in the crevices of the water-worn rock-walls, or between
the large boulders which form a bank along the strand.
Red-throated Diver. (Colymbus septentrionalis.)
Fig. 4
The range of this Diver extends from the Arctic seas to Mary-
land, and he is also found on the Pacific coast. He breeds in
May and June, choosing for his nest some small, sequestered
island, in the middle of a lake or large pond of fresh water, lying
near the sea-shore. His nest consists of a few blades of grass
loosely put together and without lining. This nest is placed within
a few feet of the water, with a well-beaten track leading from it
to the shore. He never alights upon the land, and before going
to his nest, swims all around it, carefully reconnoitering, and if
free from danger, crawls silently out of the water, and then slowly
waddles to it. But three eggs are laid, deep olive brown in color,
marked irregularly with spots of dull dark brown, and measuring
3 by 1.75 inches. The male assists the female in incubating, and
both are extremely solicitous for their young. The latter take to
the water the day succeeding their escape from the egg, and are
even then very expert swimmers and divers. The male is much
larger than the female, weighing on an average fully a pound
more. The Red-throated lives almost entirely at sea, resorting
only to fresh water for the purpose of breeding. He is at all times
an exceedingly shy bird, and very difficult to shoot. At the ap-
proach of the huntsman he increases his vigilance, and long before
the former arrives within gunshot he either dives or flies away.
His notes are harsh and rather loud, and resemble the syllables
cac, cac, carah, carah, repeated in rapid succession. He does
not acquire his full beauty of plumage until the fourth year.
While in fresh water he feeds on small fish, shrimps, leeches,
snails, and aquatic insects. His flesh is tough, oily, and dark
colored, and very unpalatable.
American Black Scoter, or Scoter Duck. (Oidemia americana.)
Fig. 5.
This Duck is an inhabitant of both coasts of North America and
its larger inland waters. His winter range extends as far north
as the coast of Massachusetts, and from thence south to the mouth
of the Mississippi. A few pairs breed on the coast of Labrador,
but the vast majority proceed further north. The nest resembles
that of the Eider Duck, though very much smaller. It is exter-
nally composed of small sticks, moss, and grasses, and lined with
down mixed with feathers. The eggs are usually eight in numn-
ber, oval, smooth, uniform pale yellow, and measure 2.00 by I.62
inches. The parents are very solicitous for their young. Audu-
bon found a female with several young ones, but was unsuccessful


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