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

Plate XI. The yellow-shanked snipe. (Gambetta--Scolopax--flavipes.),   p. 12

Plate XII. The Baltimore Oriole. (Oriolus--Icterus Baltimore.),   p. 12

Page 12

The Yellow-shanked Snipe. (Gambetta-Scolopax -flavites.)
Fig. x.
The Yellow-shanked Snipes arrive in the Northwestern States
between the middle of April and the early part of May, on their
way to the North, where they breed; and return 'as early as the
latter part of August, or the beginning of September, making only
a short stay. All the birds of this genus seem only to go northward
to breed, and to return southward as soon as the young are able to
fly. Single ones are to be met with in summer, or at almost any
season; but as all of them are male birds, it is to be presumed they
are either old bachelors or widowers, who can not bear to see the
happiness of those who are mated, and therefore wander off toward
the sunny South. There is more dignity in the manners and hab-
its of the Snipes than in those of the Sand-pipers. Their flight
is easy, and when they alight they flap their wings, and before lay-
ing them together, stretch them straight up, so that the tips touch
each other. In case of need they swim and dive tolerably well.
Their chief resorts seem to be the sea-coast and salt-marshes, as
well as the muddy flats at low water, where they delight to wade in
the mud; but it is rather the abundance of food they find there
than the mud, that attracts them. They live on insects and all kinds
of larva. You may sometimes meet with single ones, which show
no shyness at all; but when in flocks they shun the gunner care-
fully and seem to distinguish him from less dangerous persons. It
may be on account of these qualities that numbers of different kinds
of Sand-pipers are found in their company, and seem to follow them
as their leaders with great confidence. As a delicacy for the table,
they are held in high esteem.
The Semi-palmated Sand-pipers. (Tringa-Actitis Semi-j}almata.)
Fig. 2.
The principal places which these neat little birds inhabit, are the
sea-shores. Their legs are rather short in proportion to the size of
the bird. They live on the same food asthe Yellow-shanks. These
birds inhabit almost every part of the North American continent.
They migrate North in the spring, and should the season be open,
remain quite late in autumn, when they depart for their winter-
quarters at the South. They congregate in large flocks on the
beaches and sand-bars, and meadows, along the sea-coast and on
the shoies of the interior lakes and streams. When feeding, they
scatter about in small parties; when surprised, they run with a
rapid movement, collecting in such close bodies that as many as
twenty, and sometimes more, are killed at a single shot. When
closely pursued, they run off in one mass uttering a chirping note.
If this note be imitated, they will shortly obey the call. They breed
at the far North, the female laying four or five white eggs, spotted
and blotched with black.
On their wanderings southward they sometimes penetrate far in-
land, following the sandy and muddy banks of rivers. In swim-
ming they constantly move their heads backward and forward like
A heavy down under the feathers of the breast makes them ap-
pear round and plump.   In the fall the male and female are
marked exactly alike.
The Great Tern, or Sea Swallow. (Sterna hirundo.)
Fig. 3.
The Sea Swallows inhabit the northern parts of the temperate
zones. They are found in great numbers on the North American
lakes. In their wanderings they fly, at a considerable height, from
one sheet of water to another, following, when it is possible, the
course of rivers, and occasionally coming-down to feed or rest.
Their voice sounds like " kraa," and when frightened, like "kick,
or "krick." Their food consists of small minnows, young frogs or
tadpoles, worms, crickets, etc. They catch their prey when it is
in the water by suddenly plunging down upon it; when they find
it on the ground, they pick it up while on the wing. They build
their nests on low islands, the shores of rivers, or the coast gener-
ally, but not on sandy ground. They make small holes, or use
such as they happen to find, for their nests, without lining them.
The eggs are laid about the last of May, and are of a light yellow-
ish brown color, speckled with purplish, reddish, and dark brown
round or oblong spots. The female sits on them during the night,
and the male occasionally in the daytime. During the warm sun-
shine the eggs are left uncovered. The young, which are hatched
in about sixteen or seventeen days, soon leave the nest, hiding
themselves, in case of danger, among the pebbles, and only betray-
ing their presence by their melancholy piping, when the parents are
shot. The upper part of these birds is covered with a grayish white
down, and on the lower part the down is white.
They always turn their heads toward water when sitting on the
nest. Their flight is extremely graceful.
The young grow rapidly, and when only three weeks old are
able to follow their parents.
The Baltimore Oriole. (Oriolus-Zcterus Baltimore.)
Fig. x, Male. Fig. 2, Female.
The Baltimore Oriole inhabits North America as far as the fifty-
fifth degree of latitude. It is chiefly found in the vicinity of rivers,
and seems to prefer a hilly country. It is only a summer visitant
in the Northern States, where it makes its appearance in pairs,
during the latter part of April or the beginning of May. It com-
mences at once to build its nest, the material and construction of
which vary according to climate and circumstances.  In the
Southern States, it consists of " Spanish moss," put together so
loosely that the air can pass through it; it is never lined, and is al-
ways placed on the north side of a tree. In the Northern and
Western States, it is hung on such twigs as are most exposed to the
rays of the sun, and lined with the warmest and finest material.
The bird, in constructing the nest, ties the material to the twigs with
his bill and claws, weaving it strongly together, and giving the
whole the shape of a hanging bag, as shown on the plate.
In constructing its nest, he makes use of any material he deems
suitable. A lady in Connecticut, while sitting at an open window.
engaged in sewing, was called away for a few moments. A Balti-
more Oriole, in the meantime, entered the window, and carried off
her thread and several yards of small tape to the nest he was then
building. The lady suspected the mischievous bird, and, on going
to the nest, found him weaving in her tape. This she succeeded in
recovering; but the silk thread was so perfectly wound in that ii
could not be disentangled.
The female lays four and sometimes five or six eggs, of a lighi
gray color and marked with dark spots, dots, and lines. The young
are hatched in a fortnight, and in three weeks more are fully
fledged. Before they fly out they often hang or climb around the
nest like Woodpeckers. They are fed by their parents for a couple
of weeks, and then left to take care of themselves. The food of
the Baltimore Oriole consists of mulberries, cherries, and similar
fruit. In the spring they chiefly subsist on insects, which they
pick up on leaves and branches or catch flying. Toward fall they
commence their return southward, flying high in the air, and al.
ways in the daytime. They generally fly singly with loud cries,
and apparently in great haste. At sunset they alight c a a suitable

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