Birds, Illustrated by Color Photography, Vol. 2, No. 1 online

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This is the second volume of a series intended to present, in accurate
colored portraiture, and in popular and juvenile biographical text, a
very considerable portion of the common birds of North America, and many
of the more interesting and attractive specimens of other countries, in
many respects superior to all other publications which have attempted
the representation of birds, and at infinitely less expense. The
appreciative reception by the public of Vol. I deserves our grateful
acknowledgement. Appearing in monthly parts, it has been read and
admired by thousands of people, who, through the life-like pictures
presented, have made the acquaintance of many birds, and have since
become enthusiastic observers of them. It has been introduced into
the public schools, and is now in use as a text book by hundreds of
teachers, who have expressed enthusiastic approval of the work and of
its general extension. The faithfulness to nature of the pictures, in
color and pose, have been commended by such ornithologists and authors
as Dr. Elliott Coues, Mr. John Burroughs, Mr. J. W. Allen, editor of
_The Auk_, Mr. Frank M. Chapman, Mr. J. W. Baskett, and others.

The general text of BIRDS - the biographies - has been conscientiously
prepared from the best authorities by a careful observer of the
feather-growing denizens of the field, the forest, and the shore, while
the juvenile autobiographies have received the approval of the highest
ornithological authority.

The publishers take pleasure in the announcement that the general
excellence of BIRDS will be maintained in subsequent volumes. The
subjects selected for the third and fourth volumes - many of them - will
be of the rare beauty in which the great Audubon, the limner _par
excellence_ of birds, would have found "the joy of imitation."




It should not be overlooked by the young observer that if he would
learn to recognize at once any particular bird, he should make himself
acquainted with the song and call notes of every bird around him. The
identification, however, of the many feathered creatures with which we
meet in our rambles has heretofore required so much patience, that,
though a delight to the enthusiast, few have time to acquire any great
intimacy with them. To get this acquaintance with the birds, the
observer has need to be prepared to explore perilous places, to climb
lofty trees, and to meet with frequent mishaps. To be sure if every
veritable secret of their habits is to be pried into, this pursuit will
continue to be plied as patiently as it has ever been. The opportunity,
however, to secure a satisfactory knowledge of bird song and bird life
by a most delightful method has at last come to every one.

A gentleman who has taken a great interest in BIRDS from the appearance
of the first number, but whose acquaintance with living birds is quite
limited, visited one of our parks a few days ago, taking with him the
latest number of the magazine. His object, he said, was to find there
as many of the living forms of the specimens represented as he could.
"Seating myself amidst a small grove of trees, what was my delight at
seeing a Red Wing alight on a telegraph wire stretching across the park.
Examining the picture in BIRDS I was somewhat disappointed to find that
the live specimen was not so brilliantly marked as in the picture.
Presently, however, another Blackbird alighted near, who seemed to be
the veritable presentment of the photograph. Then it occured to me
that I had seen the Red Wing before, without knowing its name. It kept
repeating a rich, juicy note, _oncher-la-ree-e!_ its tail tetering at
quick intervals. A few days later I observed a large number of Red Wings
near the Hyde Park water works, in the vicinity of which, among the
trees and in the marshes, I also saw many other birds unknown to me.
With BIRDS in my hands, I identified the Robin, who ran along the ground
quite close to me, anon summoning with his beak the incautious angle
worm to the surface. The Jays were noisy and numerous, and I observed
many new traits in the Wood Thrush, so like the Robin that I was at
first in some doubt about it. I heard very few birds sing that day, most
of them being busy in search of food for their young."



Dear Boys and Girls:

I had hoped to show you the picture of the eagle that went through the
war with the soldiers. They called him "Old Abe." You will find on page
35 a long story written about him. Ask some one to read it to you.

I could not get "Old Abe," or you should now be looking at his picture.
He is at present in Wisconsin, and his owner would not allow him to be
taken from home.

I did the next best thing, and found one that was very much like him.
They are as near alike as two children of a family. Old Abe's feathers
are not quite so smooth, though. Do you wonder, after having been
through the war? He is a veteran, isn't he?

The picture is that of a Bald-headed Eagle. He is known, also, by other
names, such as White-headed Eagle, Bird of Washington, Sea Eagle.

You can easily see by the picture that he is not bald-headed. The name
White-headed would seem a better name. It is because at a distance his
head and neck appear as though they were covered with a white skin.

He is called "Sea Eagle" because his food is mostly fish. He takes the
fish that are thrown upon the shores by the waves, and sometimes he robs
the Fish Hawk of his food.

This mighty bird usually places his large nest in some tall tree. He
uses sticks three to five feet long, large pieces of sod, weeds, moss,
and whatever he can find.

The nest is sometimes five or six feet through. Eagles use the same nest
for years, adding to it each year.

Young eagles are queer looking birds. When hatched, they are covered
with a soft down that looks like cotton.

Their parents feed them, and do not allow them to leave the nest until
they are old enough to fly. When they are old enough, the mother bird
pushes them out of the nest. She must be sure that they can fly, or she
would not dare do this. Don't you think so?

[Illustration: From col. Chi. Acad. Sciences.


This mighty bird of lofty flight is a native of the whole of North
America, and may be seen haunting the greater portions of the sea
coasts, as well as the mouths of large rivers. He is sometimes called
the White-headed Eagle, the American Sea Eagle, the Bird of Washington,
the Washington Eagle, and the Sea Eagle. On account of the snowy white
of his head and neck, the name Bald Eagle has been applied to him more
generally than any other.

Sea-faring men are partial to young Eagles as pets, there being a well
established superstition among them that the ship that carries the "King
of Birds" can never go down. The old Romans, in selecting the Eagle as
an emblem for their imperial standard, showed this superstitious belief,
regarding him as the favorite messenger of Jupiter, holding communion
with heaven. The Orientals, too, believed that the feathers of the
Eagle's tail rendered their arrows invincible. The Indian mountain
tribes east of Tennessee venerated the Eagle as their bird of war, and
placed a high value on his feathers, which they used for headdresses and
to decorate their pipes of peace.

The United States seems to have an abiding faith in the great bird, as
our minted dollars show.

The nest of the Bald Eagle is usually placed upon the top of a giant
tree, standing far up on the side of a mountain, among myriads of
twining vines, or on the summit of a high inaccessible rock. The nest in
the course of years, becomes of great size as the Eagle lays her eggs
year after year in the same nest, and at each nesting season adds new
material to the old nest. It is strongly and comfortably built with
large sticks and branches, nearly flat, and bound together with twining
vines. The spacious interior is lined with hair and moss, so minutely
woven together as to exclude the wind. The female lays two eggs of a
brownish red color, with many dots and spots, the long end of the egg
tapering to a point. The parents are affectionate, attend to their young
as long as they are helpless and unfledged, and will not forsake them
even though the tree on which they rest be enveloped in flames. When the
Eaglets are ready to fly, however, the parents push them from the perch
and trust them to the high atmospheric currents. They turn them out, so
to speak, to shift for themselves.

The Bald Eagle has an accommodating appetite, eating almost anything
that has ever had life. He is fond of fish, without being a great
fisher, preferring to rob the Fish-hawk of the fruits of his skillful
labor. Sitting upon the side of a mountain his keen vision surveys
the plain or valley, and detects a sheep, a young goat, a fat turkey
or rooster, a pig, a rabbit or a large bird, and almost within an
eye-twinkle he descends upon his victim. A mighty grasp, a twist of his
talons, and the quarry is dead long before the Eagle lays it down for a
repast. The impetuosity and skill with which he pursues, overtakes and
robs the Fish-hawk, and the swiftness with which the Bald Eagle darts
down upon and seizes the booty, which the Hawk has been compelled to let
go, is not the least wonderful part of this striking performance.

The longevity of the Eagle is very great, from 80 to 160 years.


In their habits the Plovers are usually active; they run and fly with
equal facility, and though they rarely attempt to swim, are not
altogether unsuccessful in that particular.

The Semi-palmated Ring Plover utters a plaintive whistle, and during the
nesting season can produce a few connected pleasing notes. The three or
four pear-shaped, variagated eggs are deposited in a slight hollow in
the ground, in which a few blades of grass are occasionally placed. Both
parents assist in rearing the young. Worms, small quadrupeds, and
insects constitute their food. Their flesh is regarded as a delicacy,
and they are therefore objects of great attraction to the sportsman,
although they often render themselves extremely troublesome by uttering
their shrill cry and thus warning their feathered companions of the
approach of danger. From this habit they have received the name of
"tell-tales." Dr. Livingstone said of the African species: "A most
plaguey sort of public spirited individual follows you everywhere,
flying overhead, and is most persevering in his attempts to give fair
warning to all animals within hearing to flee from the approach of

The American Ring Plover nests as far north as Labrador, and is common
on our shores from August to October, after which it migrates southward.
Some are stationary in the southern states. It is often called the Ring
Plover, and has been supposed to be identical with the European Ringed

It is one of the commonest of shore birds. It is found along the beaches
and easily identified by the complete neck ring, white upon dark and
dark upon light. Like the Sandpipers the Plovers dance along the shore
in rhythm with the wavelets, leaving sharp half-webbed footprints on the
wet sand. Though usually found along the seashore, Samuels says that on
their arrival in spring, small flocks follow the courses of large
rivers, like the Connecticut. He also found a single pair building on
Muskeget, the famous haunt of Gulls, off the shore of Massachusetts. It
has been found near Chicago, Illinois, in July.

[Illustration: RING PLOVER.]


Plovers belong to a class of birds called Waders.

They spend the winters down south, and early in the spring begin their
journey north. By the beginning of summer they are in the cold north,
where they lay their eggs and hatch their young. Here they remain until
about the month of August, when they begin to journey southward. It is
on their way back that we see most of them.

While on their way north, they are in a hurry to reach their nesting
places, so only stop here and there for food and rest.

Coming back with their families, we often see them in ploughed fields.
Here they find insects and seeds to eat.

The Ring Plover is so called from the white ring around its neck.

These birds are not particular about their nests. They do not build
comfortable nests as most birds do. They find a place that is sheltered
from the north winds, and where the sun will reach them. Here they make
a rude nest of the mosses lying around.

The eggs are somewhat pointed, and placed in the nest with the points
toward the center. In this way the bird can more easily cover the eggs.

We find, among most birds, that after the nest is made, the mother bird
thinks it her duty to hatch the young.

The father bird usually feeds her while she sits on the eggs. In some of
the bird stories, you have read how the father and mother birds take
turns in building the nest, sitting on the nest, and feeding the young.

Some father birds do all the work in building the nest, and take care of
the birds when hatched.

Among plovers, the father bird usually hatches the young, and lets the
wife do as she pleases.

After the young are hatched they help each other take care of them.

Plovers have long wings, and can fly very swiftly.

The distance between their summer and winter homes is sometimes very


We should probably think this the most beautiful of ducks, were the Wood
Duck not around.

His rich glossy-green head and neck, snowy white collar, and curly
feathers of the tail are surely marks of beauty.

But Mr. Mallard is not so richly dressed all of the year. Like a great
many other birds, he changes his clothes after the holiday season is
over. When he does this, you can hardly tell him from his mate who wears
a sober dress all the year.

Most birds that change their plumage wear their bright, beautiful dress
during the summer. Not so with Mr. Mallard. He wears his holiday clothes
during the winter. In the summer he looks much like his mate.

Usually the Mallard family have six to ten eggs in their nest. They are
of a pale greenish color - very much like the eggs of our tame ducks that
we see about the barnyards.

Those who have studied birds say that our tame ducks are descendants of
the Mallards.

If you were to hear the Mallard's _quack_, you could not tell it from
that of the domestic duck.

The Mallard usually makes her nest of grass, and lines it with down from
her breast. You will almost always find it on the ground, near the
water, and well sheltered by weeds and tall grasses.

It isn't often you see a duck with so small a family. It must be that
some of the ducklings are away picking up food.

Do you think they look like young chickens?

[Illustration: From col. Chi. Acad. Sciences.


The Mallard Duck is generally distributed in North America, migrating
south in winter to Panama, Cuba, and the Bahamas. In summer the full
grown male resembles the female, being merely somewhat darker in color.
The plumage is donned by degrees in early June, and in August the full
rich winter dress is again resumed. The adult males in winter plumage
vary chiefly in the extent and richness of the chestnut of the breast.

The Mallard is probably the best known of all our wild ducks, being very
plentiful and remarkable on account of its size. Chiefly migrant, a few
sometimes remain in the southern portion of Illinois, and a few pairs
sometimes breed in the more secluded localities where they are free from
disturbance. Its favorite resorts are margins of ponds and streams,
pools and ditches. It is an easy walker, and can run with a good deal of
speed, or dive if forced to do so, though it never dives for food. It
feeds on seeds of grasses, fibrous roots of plants, worms, shell fish,
and insects. In feeding in shallow water the bird keeps the hind part of
its body erect, while it searches the muddy bottom with its bill. When
alarmed and made to fly, it utters a loud quack, the cry of the female
being the louder. "It feeds silently, but after hunger is satisfied, it
amuses itself with various jabberings, swims about, moves its head
backward and forward, throws water over its back, shoots along the
surface, half flying, half running, and seems quite playful. If alarmed,
the Mallard springs up at once with a bound, rises obliquely to a
considerable height, and flies off with great speed, the wings producing
a whistling sound. The flight is made by repeated flaps, without
sailing, and when in full flight its speed is hardly less than a hundred
miles an hour."

Early in spring the male and female seek a nesting place, building on
the ground, in marshes or among water plants, sometimes on higher
ground, but never far from water. The nest is large and rudely made of
sedges and coarse grasses, seldom lined with down or feathers. In rare
instances it nests in trees, using the deserted nests of hawks, crows,
or other large birds. Six or eight eggs of pale dull green are hatched,
and the young are covered over with down. When the female leaves the
nest she conceals the eggs with hay, down, or any convenient material.
As soon as hatched the chicks follow the mother to the water, where
she attends them devotedly, aids them in procuring food, and warns
them of danger. While they are attempting to escape, she feigns
lameness to attract to herself the attention of the enemy. The chicks
are wonderfully active little fellows, dive quickly, and remain under
water with only the bill above the surface.

On a lovely morning, before the sun has fairly indicated his returning
presence, there can be no finer sight than the hurrying pinions, or
inspiring note than the squawk, oft repeated, of these handsome
feathered creatures, as they seek their morning meal in the lagoons
and marshes.


White Snipe, Yelper, Lawyer, and Scooper are some of the popular
names applied in various localities to this remarkably long-legged and
long and slender-necked creature, which is to be found in temperate
North America, and, in winter, as far south as Cuba and Jamaica. In
north-eastern Illinois the Avocet generally occurs in small parties the
last of April and the first of May, and during September and the early
part of October, when it frequents the borders of marshy pools. The
bird combines the characteristics of the Curlew and the Godwit, the bill
being recurved.

The cinnamon color on the head and neck of this bird varies with the
individual; sometimes it is dusky gray around the eye, especially in the
younger birds.

The Avocet is interesting and attractive in appearance, without having
any especially notable characteristics. He comes and goes and is rarely
seen by others than sportsmen.

[Illustration: From col. F. M. Woodruff.

BIRD SONG - Continued from page 1.

Many of our singing birds may be easily identified by any one who
carries in his mind the images which are presented in our remarkable
pictures. See the birds at home, as it were, and hear their songs.

Those who fancy that few native birds live in our parks will be
surprised to read the following list of them now visible to the eyes of
so careful an observer as Mr. J. Chester Lyman.

"About the 20th of May I walked one afternoon in Lincoln Park with a
friend whose early study had made him familiar with birds generally, and
we noted the following varieties:

1 Magnolia Warbler.
2 Yellow Warbler.
3 Black Poll Warbler.
4 Black-Throated Blue Warbler.
5 Black-Throated Queen Warbler.
6 Blackburnian Warbler.
7 Chestnut-sided Warbler.
8 Golden-crowned Thrush.
9 Wilson's Thrush.
10 Song Thrush.
11 Catbird.
12 Bluebird.
13 Kingbird.
14 Least Fly Catcher.
15 Wood Pewee Fly Catcher.
16 Great Crested Fly Catcher.
17 Red-eyed Vireo.
18 Chimney Swallow.
19 Barn Swallow.
20 Purple Martin.
21 Red Start.
22 House Wren.
23 Purple Grackle.
24 White-throated Sparrow.
25 Song Sparrow.
26 Robin.
27 Blue Jay.
28 Red-Headed Woodpecker.
29 Kingfisher.
30 Night Hawk.
31 Yellow-Billed Cuckoo.
32 Scarlet Tanager, Male and Female.
33 Black and White Creeper.
34 Gull, or Wilson's Tern.
35 The Omni-present English Sparrow.

"On a similar walk, one week earlier, we saw about the same number of
varieties, including, however, the Yellow Breasted Chat, and the
Mourning, Bay Breasted, and Blue Yellow Backed Warblers."

The sweetest songsters are easily accessible, and all may enjoy their




White-Back, Canard Cheval, (New Orleans,) Bull-Neck, and Red-Headed
Bull-Neck, are common names of the famous Canvas-Back, which nests from
the northern states, northward to Alaska. Its range is throughout nearly
all of North America, wintering from the Chesapeake southward to

"The biography of this duck," says Mabel Osgood Wright, "belongs rather
to the cook-book than to a bird list," even its most learned biographers
referring mainly to its "eatable qualities," Dr. Coues even taking away
its character in that respect when he says "there is little reason for
squealing in barbaric joy over this over-rated and generally under-done
bird; not one person in ten thousand can tell it from any other duck on
the table, and only then under the celery circumstances," referring to
the particular flavor of its flesh, when at certain seasons it feeds on
vallisneria, or "water celery," which won its fame. This is really not
celery at all, but an eel-grass, not always found through the range of
the Canvas-Back. When this is scarce it eats frogs, lizards, tadpoles,
fish, etc., so that, says Mrs. Osgood, "a certificate of residence
should be sold with every pair, to insure the inspiring flavor."

The opinion held as to the edible qualities of this species varies
greatly in different parts of the country. No where has it so high a
reputation as in the vicinity of Chesapeake Bay, where the alleged
superiority of its flesh is ascribed to the abundance of "water celery."
That this notion is erroneous is evident from the fact that the same
plant grows in far more abundance in the upper Mississippi Valley, where
also the Canvas-Back feeds on it. Hence it is highly probable that
fashion and imagination, or perhaps a superior style of cooking and
serving, play a very important part in the case. In California, however,
where the "water celery" does not grow, the Canvas-Back is considered a
very inferior bird for the table.

It has been hunted on Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries with such
inconsiderate greed that its numbers have been greatly reduced, and many
have been driven to more southern waters.

In and about Baltimore, the Canvas-Back, like the famous terrapin, is in
as high favor for his culinary excellence, as are the women for beauty
and hospitality. To gratify the healthy appetite of the human animal
this bird was doubtless sent by a kind Providence, none the less mindful
of the creature comforts and necessities of mankind than of the purely
aesthetic senses.

[Illustration: From col. F. M. Woodruff.

[Illustration: From col. F. M. Woodruff.


A great many people think that this is the most beautiful bird of North
America. It is called Wood Duck because it usually makes its nest in the
hollow of a tree that overhangs the water. If it can find a squirrel's
or woodpecker's hole in some stump or tree, there it is sure to nest.

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Online LibraryVariousBirds, Illustrated by Color Photography, Vol. 2, No. 1 → online text (page 1 of 3)