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illustrate not only the nesting habits of the species shown, but also
their haunts or * habitats.' The area of these groups ranges from
60 to 160 square feet, to which is added a panoramic background,
which in most cases merges insensibly into the group itself. The
backgrounds are painted by skilful artists, generally from studies
made at the actual site represented. They are thus, like the
accessories among which the birds with their nests and eggs or
young are grouped, accurate and realistic representations of the
actual scenes in nature which the species had chosen as their nesting
haunts. They thus possess a scenic and geographic value in addi-
tion to their ornithological interest. These landscapes naturally

» Cf. A\ik, X. 1893, p. 307.



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^°^i^^T Allen, Habitat Oroups of North American Birds. 167

represent widely diversified types of country, since they include the
famous Bird Rocks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, several bird keys
in the Bahamas, a cactus desert in Arizona, plains and badlands
in the Middle West, alpine scenes in the Rocky Mountains, the
Palisades and the Hackensack marshes near New York City, and
other localities of special interest.

In connection with the recent formal opening of the Gallery of
the Bird Hall, the Museum has issued a 'guide leaflet' to this
series of 'habitat groups,' * containing a full-page half-tone illus-
tration of each, from photographs, and a transcript of the de-
scriptive group labels. On this brochure is largely based the
following account of these notable groups, which form a striking
feature of the Museum's recent remarkable progress in placing
before the public attractive and instructive exhibits in many lines
of research. They are here given in the order of sequence in the
hall, beginning at the right (southeast comer of the gallery).

Summer Bird-life of Cobb's Island, Virginia, Background by
Walter Cox. Birds by H. C. Denslow. — Cobb's Island, off the
coast of Virginia, is a shell-strewn sand-bar, seven miles long and
about the same distance from the mainland, and thus affords ideal
conditions as a breeding resort for certain kinds of water birds,
as Terns of different species. Black Skimmers, Oyster-catchers
and Plovers, while the adjoining marshes on its western border are
the favorite nesting places of the Clapper Rail.

This group contains 63 birds, representing seven species. The
scene is a sandy beach, with oyster and other sea shells, interspersed
with tufts of the coarse grass characteristic of such beaches. The
background is a view looking seaward, the whole forming a well-
blended shore scene. The Least Terns, which formerly bred here
in thousands, and are introduced into the group, were practically
exterminated some years since, when 1200 were killed in a single
day for millinery purposes, and the island was nearly depopulated
of bird life.



1 The Habitat Groups of North American Birds in the American Museuum of
Natural History. By Frank M. Chapman. Curator of Ornithology. No. 26 of
the Guide leaflets of the American Museum of Natural History. Edmund Otis
Hovey, Editor. New York. Published by the Museum, February, 1909. — 8vo,
pp. 48, with colored frontispiece (Wild Turkey), and a halt-tone Illustration of
each group, from photographs.



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168 Allen, Habitat Groups of North American Birds, \_x^

Diick Hawk on the Palisades, Background by Hobart Nichols.

— The nest is on a shelf of a cliff, and contains down-covered young;
one of the old birds is approaching the nest bearing in its talons a
domestic pigeon. The locality is the western shore of the Hudson,
at Englewood, New Jersey, and the outlook is northward from the
'Gorge,' overlooking the river.

Attgust Bird-Life of the Hackensack Meadows, Background
by Bruce Horsfall. Birds by E. W. Smith.— The locality is the
marshes of the Hackensack River, near Little Ferry, New Jersey.
The view is westward, across the marshes. Cattails, wild rice,
reeds, sagittarias and other aquatic plants make up the foregroimd,
which is enlivened by the rose-colored flowers of the marsh-mallow
and the scarlet of cardinal flowers. The purpose of the group is to
illustrate a night resort of Swallows, and the feeding groimds of
Reedbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, and other species which visit
the marshes in large numbers to feed on the wild rice. The birds
are perched on the cattails and wild rice, with rails and a pair
of Wood Ducks in the immediate foreground.

Wild Turkey Group, Backgroimd by Bruce Horsfall. Birds
by H. C. Denslow. — A pair of old birds with their brood of young,
in an opening in a forest in the mountains of West Virginia.

Florida Great Blue Heron, Background by Bruce Horsfall.
Birds by H. C. Denslow. — A group of adult birds and half-grown
young in the tree-tops of a Florida heronry, with characteristic
surroundings.

The Anhinga or Water Turkey, Backgroimd by Bruce Horsfall.

— Nests with eggs, nests with young birds at different stages of
growth, and several old birds of both sexes, with one swimming
submerged in the foreground. The scene is a lake nearly enclosed
with cypress and palmettoes, with a distant vista showing the
characteristic scenery of the lake region near St. Lucie, Florida.
'Bonnets' (yellow pond-lilies) give color to the immediate fore-
groimd.

Sandhill Crane Group, Background by Bruce Horsfall. Birds
by Herbert Lang. — A pair of birds, with their nest and eggs, in a
water-filled depression on the Kissimmee Prairies, Florida; back-
ground, a broad view of the prairies; hammocks and palm trees
in the distance.



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^^^i^^T Allen, HabiUU Groups of North American BirdM, 169

Brovm Pelican, Pelican Island, Florida, Background by Bruce
Horsfall. Birds by E. W. Smith. — A large group, containing
seven old birds, nine young in various stages of growth, and several
nests with eggs, some placed on the ground, others ii^ mangrove
bushes. It illustrates the manner in which the young are fed with
predigested food. The background shows numerous birds in the
distance, in various positions, some of them sitting On their nests,
others walking on the sandy beach or swimming in the water. The
view is toward the low mainland shore, with palm trees as a promi-
nent feature of the distant landscape.

The American Egret in a South Carolina Cypress Swamp, Back-
ground by Bruce Horsfall. Birds by Herbert Lang. — Several
old birds in fine feather, with nests containing young in various
stages of development, in moss-draped trees at a height of forty
feet from the groimd. The sketches for the landscape were made
from the trees at this altitude, to secure the desired effect. A creek
in the midview gives an opportimity for water and forest effects,
which include Egrets perched in the nearer trees.

A Cactus Desert and its Bird-life. Background by Bruce Horsfall.
Birds by H. C. Denslow. — The locality is near Tucson, Arizona.
The birds introduced — about 50 specimens, representing 20
species — are those characteristic of a desert environment, and
include the Western Mockingbird, Palmer Thrasher, Cactus Wren,
Road-runner, Gambel and Scaled Quails, three species of Doves,
the Texas Nighthawk, Vermilion Flycatcher, Arizona Crested
Flycatcher, Gilded Flicker, Arizona Cardinal, House Finch, Black-
throated Sparrow, Verdin, Phainopepla, and Plumbeous Gnat-
catcher. The vegetation comprises a number of the most striking
forms of cacti, with mesquites and acacias. The background is a
typical desert scene, with the beautiful Santa Catalina Mountains
in the dbtance.

Calif omia Condor Group, Background by Carlos Hittell. —
The site is in Piru Cafion, Ventura County, California, and affords
an opportunity for striking scenic effects in the background. The
Condor is represented by a lone bird and a single egg,

Brandt Cormorant Group, Background by Carlos Hittell.
Birds by Herbert Lang. — An assemblage of six adult birds, a nest
with eggs, and three broods of young in different stages of growth.



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170 Allen, Habitat Groups of North American Birds. [^^ril

The scene is a rocky islet off the coast of Monterey, California, a
portion of which is here reproduced, with an ocean view for a
background.

Summer Bird-life of an irrigated portion of the San Joaquin
Valley, California. Background by Carlos Hittell. Birds by
H. C. Denslow. — As the title implies, the site is an artificially
flooded area on the San Joaquin River, which forms a resort for the
nesting of a considerable variety of wading and swimming birds.
The 15 species represented in the group, which has an area of 8 by
20 feet, include Avocets, Stilts, Killdeer Plovers, Black and Forster
Terns, Black-crowned Night Herons, White-faced Glossy Ibises,
Coots, Mallards, Cinnamon Teals, Pintail Ducks, Ruddy Ducks,
and Fulvous Tree Ducks. The pools of water and aquatic plants
merge effectively into the background. The view is westward,
over marshes and fields, to the Coast Range, prominent in the
distance.

A Flamingo Colony in the Bahamas. Background by L. A.
Fuertes (birds) and Carlos Hittell (landscape). Birds by Herbert
Lang. — Scene, a key in the Bahamas; theme, a Flamingo city.
The size of the group is 8 by 20 feet, in which are placed 16 old
birds, and 18 young birds of different ages, interspersed among a
dozen or more of the close-set, raised mud nests and small mangrove
bushes, so arranged that birds, nests and mangroves merge imper-
ceptibly into the background of an immense colony of Flamingoes,
the whole representing, with wonderful realism, an actual ** Fla-
mingo city." The pink color and the outlines of the birds gradually
fade out in the distance. The sea and a distant green islet studded
with palms form the horizon line, while a long file of flying birds
stretching across the sky illustrates the manner of flight of these
great ungainly but beautifully tinted creatures. The great variety
of positions given to the birds are from photographs from life.

Boobies and Man-o'-War Birds. Background by Bruce Horsfall.
Birds by Herbert Lang. — The locality is Cay Verde, a coral islet
in the Bahamas, some two hundred and thirty miles southeast of
Nassau. The common West Indian Booby and the graceful
Man-o'-War Bird are well-represented by both yoimg and adult
birds, the former species nesting on the ground, the latter in dense
growths of bushes (* sea-grape') and cactuses. The inflated



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^°^i^^T Allen, Habitat Groups of North American Birds. 171

throat-pouch, of a vivid red color, gives a grotesque effect to the
otherwise somber colored male Man-o'-War Bird. The back-
ground shows a portion of the key, with its peculiar vegetation,
combined with a sea view of unusual interest.

Golden Eagle Group. — The scene is in the badlands of Bate's
Hole, Wyoming; the nest is on a shelf of a high cliff. A fine old
bird and two eggs represent the species, with a striking badlands
background of buttes and gorges.

A Klamath Lake Bird Colony. Background by Carlos Hittell.
Birds by Herbert Lang. — Klamath Lake, on the California-Oregon
boimdary line, is a vast expanse of shallow water, broadly bordered
with tul^ and rushes, and studded with low small islets covered
with vegetation similar to that of the shores. It is thus a favorite
breeding resort for a great variety of water birds, among which are
the White Pelican, the California and Ring-billed Gulls, Caspian
Tern, Farallone Cormorant, Great Blue and Black-crowned Night
Herons, Wild Geese, the Bufflehead and other species of Ducks.
The birds shown in the group are the White Pelican (old birds and
yoimg, nests and eggs), the Western Gull, Caspian Tern (numerous
individuals of each), and the Farallone Cormorant. The scene is
a tul6 island, with similar small islands in the immediate back-
groimd, treeless hills beyond, and snow-capped, grand Mount
Shasta in the distance.

Arctic-Alpine Bird-life in the Canadian Rockies. Background
by Carl Rimgius, from a sketch by L. A. Fuertes. — Scene, about
fifteen miles north of Laggan, at the Ptarmigan Lakes. The birds
represented are the White-tailed Ptarmigan and American Pipit
(with nests and eggs of each species), and the Rosy Snow Finch or
Leucosticte. The background portrays one of th« most impressive
views in the Canadian Rockies, it including Mounts Redoubt,
Temple, Hungabee, Lefroy, and Victoria.

Sage Grouse Group. Background by Carlos Hittell. Birds by
Herbert Lang. — Scene, sage-brush plains. Medicine Bow, Wyom-
ing. Two old males and a female, in characteristic attitudes, and
^gs; others are shown in the nearer portion of the sage-brush
background; Elk Mountain and the Snowy Range in the distance.

Love-making of the Prairie Hen. Background by Bruce Horsfall.
Birds by H. C. Denslow. — Seven old birds, the males attitudinizing.



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172 Allen, Habitat Oroupa of North American Birds. \_a!j^

the neck-tufts erect and the large orange-colored air-sacks inflated.
Scene, prairies of western Nebraska, with an effective landscape.

Wild Goose Group. Background by Hobart Nichols. Birds by
Herbert Lang. — At Crane Lake, Saskatchewan, near the line of
the Canadian Pacific Railway, where water birds, both swimming
and wading, assemble in great numbers to pass the nesting season.
The site shown is the grassy border of the lake, with the lake and
distant hills in the background. The group consists of a single pair
of old birds and their brood of seven young, in a foreground of
grass and coarse plants.

Grebe Group. Backgroimd by Hobart Nichols. Birds by
Herbert Lang. — The studies here represented were also made at
Crane Lake. The species are the Western Grebe and the Eared
Grebe, several birds of each being shown, with nests of eggs and
young birds. A female Redhead Duck, with her nest full of eggs,
is introduced at the rear left comer. The site chosen is a grassy
slough, with the lake and its numerous islets as a background.

Bird Rock Group. Birds by H. C. Denslow. — This is a realistic
representation of a section of Bird Rock, in the Gulf of St. Law-
rence, the long-famous breeding resort of the sea birds of that region.
The group contains 73 birds, illustrating seven species. It was the
first of the present series of large bird groups to be installed, and has
already been described in this journal.^ It is the only one of the
series without a panoramic background, the cliff-like character of
the group precluding such treatment.

In addition to the series of groups above described, another is
nearly completed, representing a section of the famous Cuthbert
Rookery in southern Florida, illustrating the habits of the Roseate
Spoonbill, White Ibis, Snowy and American Egrets, Loubiana and
Little Blue Herons. Among others planned to complete the series
are groups illustrating the Turkey Buzzard, Whooping Crane, Loon,
and Eider Duck, which will each afford the occasion for the in-
troduction of additional scenic types in the backgroimds.

The production of this series of habitat groups has been a serious
undertaking. It was work, in many ways, in new lines, where
difficulties of many kinds were to be overcome, both in the field

> Auk, XX, 1903, p. 247.



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^*^^M© ^T Allen, HabiUU Groups of North American Birds. 173

and in the laboratory. The large degree of success that has at-
tended the enterprise is due to the foresight, good judgment and
enthusiasm of Mr. Frank M. Chapman, who during the last ten
years has spent much of his time in gathering this unique material
and superintending its preparation. Each group has been the
product of a special expedition, the aggregate amount of travel
entailed being estimated at about 65,000 miles. On all of the later
expeditions Mr. Chapman took with him an artist and a preparator,
and on all occasions the camera has played an essential part.^ It
has thus been possible to pose the birds in the groups after photo-
graphs of the living bird, unconscious of observation, taken from
points of concealment devised to meet the occasion. The back-
grounds have been painted, in nearly every case, by artists who
have accompanied Mr. Chapman on these expeditions and have
thus been able to paint the actual scene from nature which the
groups illustrate.

In the foregoing list of the groups credit is given, in most instances,
to both artist and preparator for their respective shares in the
production of the groups, — the backgrounds and the moimted
birds. The vegetation, however, forms an important element in
their eflfectiveness, it having been reproduced in facsimile in wax,
either from plaster casts of the parts represented or direct from the
parts themselves. This feature of the work has been done under
the direction of Mr. J. D. Figgins, Chief of the Department of
Preparation at the Museum, and who has often accompanied the
expeditions and taken charge of the plants and other field materials
necessary to the perfection of the groups.

Difficulties were also encountered in the installation of the groups,
in order to secure proper lighting and effectiveness of exhibition.
In large plate glass case fronts, everything directly in range is
reflected in the glass, to the more or less obscuration of the contents
of the case. Experiments to overcome this effect were instituted by
the Director of the Museum, Dr. Hermon C. Bumpus, and largely
through his resourcefulness this difficulty, and others in the way of
lighting the groups, have been effectively overcome. To quote

* See Mr. Chapman's recent book, * Camps and Cruises of an Ornithologist,'
where his field work during these expeditions is recounted, and where hundreds of
his photographs are reproduced.



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174 Allen, Habitat Groups of North American Birds, L^^

from Mr. Chapman's 'Guide Leaflet/ already cited: "Each group
has demanded its own special treatment, and, in the construction
of the series, the many novel problems encountered have resulted
in the development of original methods. This is particularly true
of the manner of installation and illumination of the groups at the
sides of the hall The backgroimd is curved [convex back-
ward] with the front opening so reduced in size that at the proper
distance, or 'correct view-point,' neither the ends nor the top of the
group can be seen. By thus leaving the actual limits of the group
to the imagination the illusion of space and distance is greatly
heightened." Furthermore, the groups are lighted from the top by
diffused light; electric lighting is employed at night, or whenever
the daylight is insufficient, but ip either case the light comes from
the same diffusing surface. The reflection of outside objects in
the case fronts has been wholly prevented by the erection of a screen
consisting of a low wooden partition placed at the inner edge of the
gallery which serves not only to cut off reflections but tends to con-
centrate the attention of the observer upon the special and thus
wholly isolated exhibit before him.

It is needless to say that the cost of thb unique series of bird
groups has been heavy, and the work could never have been under-
taken by the Museum on the basb of its ordinary sources of income.
It is therefore fitting to close this sketch with a list of the names of
the friends of the Museum who have made these results possible,
as follows:

Mr. John L. Cadwalader.

Mrs. Morris K. Jesup.

Mrs. Philip Schuyler.

Mrs. John B. Trevor.

Mrs. Robert Winthrop.

Mr. F. Augustus Schermerhorn.

Mr. H. B. Hollins.

Mr. Henry Clay Pierce.

Mr. Henry W. Poor.

Mr. CouRTENAY Brandreth.



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^°^^^T Bbewotbr, Something Mare about Black Ducks. 175

SOMETHING MORE ABOUT BLACK DUCKS.

BY WILLIAM BREWSTER.

The 'Fourteenth Supplement to the American Ornithologists'
Union Check-List of North American Birds/ published in a recent
number of 'The Auk,' * contains the following announcement
(p. 361): — "The name Anas obscura Gmelin, 1788, proves to be
preoccupied by Anas obscura Pontoppidan, 1763, for an Old Worid
species, and no other name being available, rubripes of Brewster
is adopted as a substitute. (Richmond, MS.) There b some
question as to the validity of the form recognized as No. 133a [t. e,,
Anas obscura rubripes] which, by the above action, is now can-
celled."

I am told that the closing sentence of the passage just quoted has
been very generally imderstood to imply that, in the opinion of
the A. O. U. Committee, it b no longer desirable to recognize more
than one northern form of the Black Duck. Its wording would
certainly seem to justify such an interpretation, especially as " 133a,
Anas obscura rubripes Brewster" is mentioned elsewhere in this
same supplement (p. 352) in a Ibt of "Eliminations," with the
remark that it b "equivalent to No. 133," i. e., to Anas obscura
of the Check-List. As a matter of fact, however, the status of
rubripes has not been passed on, nor even, I think, reconsidered, by
the Committee since the form was accepted as a valid subspecies
and given a place in our Check-List. I make this statement ad-
visedly, after confirming my personal recollection of the history
of the case by questioning the chairman of the Conmiittee, Dr.
Allen, and the Secretary, Dr. Richmond, regarding it. Dr. Allen
writes me (under date of December 21, 1908) that "the Committee
simply took rubripes as the only available name for the Black Duck
group, without ruling on the status of rubripes as a subspecies of
obscura, leaving a name for the Green-legged Black Duck to be
provided for, presiunably by you." I have heard from Dr. Rich-
mond, also, to the effect that no action has been taken at any recent
meeting of the Committee respecting the status of the form rubripes.

^ Vol. XXV, No. 3, July, 1908, pp. 343-390.



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176 Brewster, Something More about Black Ducks, [aptS

It is truly deplorable that the Black Duck of our New England
and Middle States, the Aruia obscura of Gmelin, should have to
relinquish the appropriate and familiar name which it has borne
unchanged, and unaccompanied by a single synonym, for more
than one hundred years. There is no other alternative, however,
at least from the view point of ornithologists who take Linnaeus at
1758 instead of 1766 and who also subscribe to the maxim " Once
a synonym always a synonym/' Since the unfortunate bird is now
left without any specific scientific title I propose that it be hereafter
known as iritis, partly because of its subdued coloring but also
to commemorate the sad fate it has been called upon to suffer at
the hands of authorities on nomenclature. If thb name be not
preoccupied in Anatidse (one can never be absolutely sure in re-
spect to such a matter), the two more northern forms of the Black
Duck group will stand, respectively, as follows: —

Atios rubripes Brewster. Red-legged Black Duck.

Atios rubripes trifltiB Brewster. Black Duck.

It must be admitted that it seems very like adding insult to injury
to thus relegate it to a subordinate place in the group where it has
long stood at the very head, a bird which has just been robbed of an
ancestral and time-honored name. Nor does this arrangement
meet with the approval of all my scientific friends. Two of those
whom I have consulted about it — both eminent zoologists for
whose opinion on such a matter I have the highest respect — hold
that as the Anas obscura of Gmelin was, as far as we know, the first
form of Black Duck to be recognized and described by ornitholo-
gists it should continue to be regarded as the original or "parent"
form and that rubripes, which has been separated from it only
very recently, should bear the trinomial appellation and take
second place. This view appeals to me strongly. Indeed, it seems
so logical and so obviously based on sound scientific principle that
I have been tempted to adopt and act on it. But there is a practical
consideration entitled, evidently, to still greater weight which
Mr. Witmer Stone has expressed in the following words, contained
in a letter that he has just written me: — "The whole thing comes
down to a realization of the fact that we cannot represent more than
one thing in our technical nomenclature and that is the earliest name
for the form according to our Code. Evolution and history have



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^*^*i»09^^T Brewster, Something More about Black Ducks. 177

to be looked after in some other way." In other words the question
is not so much one of principle — scientific or otherwise — as of



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