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Title: Life Histories of North American Shore Birds, Part 1 (of 2)
Author: Bent, Arthur Cleveland
Language: English
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                             _Life Histories of_

                                North American

                                 Shore Birds

                             _Life Histories of_

                                North American

                                 Shore Birds

                            ARTHUR CLEVELAND BENT

                                 IN TWO PARTS

                                    PART I

                           DOVER PUBLICATIONS, INC.
                                   NEW YORK

  Published in Canada by General Publishing Company, Ltd., 30 Lesmill
  Road, Don Mills, Toronto, Ontario.

  Published in the United Kingdom by Constable and Company, Ltd., 10
  Orange Street, London WC 2.

  This Dover edition, first published in 1962, is an unabridged and
  unaltered republication of the work originally published by the United
  States Government Printing Office. Part I was originally published in
  1927 as Smithsonian Institution United States National Museum
  _Bulletin 142_; Part II was originally published in 1929 as Smithsonian
  Institution United States National Museum _Bulletin 146_.

           _International Standard Book Number: 0-486-20933-4_

           _Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 62-51562_

               Manufactured in the United States of America
                        Dover Publications, Inc.
                           180 Varick Street
                         New York, N. Y. 10014


The scientific publications of the National Museum include two series,
known, respectively, as _Proceedings_ and _Bulletin_.

The _Proceedings_, begun in 1878, is intended primarily as a medium for
the publication of original papers, based on the collections of the
National Museum, that set forth newly acquired facts in biology,
anthropology, and geology, with descriptions of new forms and revisions
of limited groups. Copies of each paper, in pamphlet form, are
distributed as published to libraries and scientific organizations and
to specialists and others interested in the different subjects. The
dates at which these separate papers are published are recorded in the
table of contents of each of the volumes.

The _Bulletin_, the first of which was issued in 1875, consists of a
series of separate publications comprising monographs of large
zoological groups and other general systematic treatises (occasionally
in several volumes), faunal works, reports of expeditions, catalogues of
type-specimens, special collections, and other material of similar
nature. The majority of the volumes are octavo in size, but a quarto
size has been adopted in a few instances in which large plates were
regarded as indispensable. In the _Bulletin_ series appear volumes under
the heading _Contributions from the United States National Herbarium_,
in octavo form, published by the National Museum since 1902, which
contain papers relating to the botanical collections of the Museum.

The present work forms No. 142 of the _Bulletin_ series.

                                               ALEXANDER WETMORE,
                       _Assistant Secretary, Smithsonian Institution_.

WASHINGTON, D. C., _November 15, 1927_.



  Order Limicolae                                 1
    Family Phalaropodidae                         1
      Phalaropus fulicarius                       1
      Red phalarope                               1
        Habits                                    1
        Distribution                             14
      Lobipes lobatus                            15
      Northern phalarope                         15
        Habits                                   15
        Distribution                             26
      Steganopus tricolor                        28
      Wilson phalarope                           28
        Habits                                   28
        Distribution                             35
    Family Recurvirostridae                      37
      Recurvirostra americana                    37
      American avocet                            37
        Habits                                   37
        Distribution                             44
      Himantopus mexicanus                       47
      Black-necked stilt                         47
        Habits                                   47
        Distribution                             53
    Family Scolopacidae                          54
      Scolopax rusticola                         54
      European woodcock                          54
        Habits                                   54
        Distribution                             60
      Rubicola minor                             61
      American woodcock                          61
        Habits                                   61
        Distribution                             75
      Capella gallinago gallinago                78
      European snipe                             78
        Habits                                   78
        Distribution                             81
      Capella gallinago delicata                 81
      Wilson snipe                               81
        Habits                                   81
        Distribution                             94
      Capella media                              98
      Great snipe                                98
        Habits                                   98
        Distribution                            101
      Lymnocryptes minimus                      101
      Jack snipe                                101
        Habits                                  101
        Distribution                            105
      Limnodromus griseus griseus               106
      Eastern dowitcher                         106
        Habits                                  106
        Distribution                            113
      Limnodromus griseus scolopaceus           115
      Long-billed dowitcher                     115
        Habits                                  115
        Distribution                            121
      Micropalama himantopus                    122
      Stilt sandpiper                           122
        Habits                                  122
        Distribution                            129
      Calidris canutus rufus                    131
      American knot                             131
        Habits                                  131
        Distribution                            143
      Calidris tenuirostris                     145
      Eastern Asiatic knot                      145
      Arquatella maritima                       146
      Purple sandpiper                          146
        Habits                                  146
        Distribution                            151
      Arquatella ptilocnemis ptilocnemis        152
      Pribilof sandpiper                        152
        Habits                                  152
        Distribution                            158
      Arquatella ptilocnemis couesi             159
      Aleutian sandpiper                        159
        Habits                                  159
        Distribution                            166
      Pisobia acuminata                         167
      Sharp-tailed sandpiper                    167
        Habits                                  167
        Distribution                            169
      Pisobia maculata                          169
      Pectoral sandpiper                        169
        Habits                                  169
        Distribution                            177
      Pisobia fuscicollis                       181
      White-rumped sandpiper                    181
        Habits                                  181
        Distribution                            191
      Pisobia bairdi                            193
      Baird sandpiper                           193
        Habits                                  193
        Distribution                            199
      Pisobia minutilla                         202
      Least sandpiper                           202
        Habits                                  202
        Distribution                            209
      Pisobia subminuta                         213
      Long-toed stint                           213
        Habits                                  213
        Distribution                            214
      Pisobia ruficollis                        215
      Rufous-necked sandpiper                   215
        Habits                                  215
        Distribution                            217
      Pelidna alpina alpina                     217
      Dunlin                                    217
        Habits                                  217
        Distribution                            220
      Pelidna alpina sakhalina                  221
      Red-backed sandpiper                      221
        Habits                                  221
        Distribution                            229
      Erolia ferruginea                         232
      Curlew sandpiper                          232
        Habits                                  232
        Distribution                            236
      Eurynorhynchus pygmeus                    237
      Spoonbill sandpiper                       237
        Habits                                  237
        Distribution                            243
      Ereunetes pusillus                        244
      Semipalmated sandpiper                    244
        Habits                                  244
        Distribution                            252
      Ereunetes mauri                           255
      Western sandpiper                         255
        Habits                                  255
        Distribution                            263
      Crocethia alba                            265
      Sanderling                                265
        Habits                                  265
        Distribution                            274
      Limosa fedoa                              277
      Marbled godwit                            277
        Habits                                  277
        Distribution                            287
      Limosa lapponica baueri                   289
      Pacific godwit                            289
        Habits                                  289
        Distribution                            294
      Limosa haemastica                         295
      Hudsonian godwit                          295
        Habits                                  295
        Distribution                            302
      Limosa limosa limosa                      304
      Black-tailed godwit                       304
        Habits                                  304
        Distribution                            308
      Glottis nebularia                         309
      Greenshank                                309
        Habits                                  309
        Distribution                            313
      Totanus totanus                           315
      Redshank                                  315
        Habits                                  315
        Distribution                            319
      Totanus melanoleucus                      321
      Greater yellow-legs                       321
        Habits                                  321
        Distribution                            332
      Totanus flavipes                          336
      Lesser yellow-legs                        336
        Habits                                  336
        Distribution                            346
  References to bibliography                    350
  Explanation of plates                         360
  Index                                         415


This is the seventh in a series of bulletins of the United States
National Museum on the life histories of North American birds. Previous
numbers have been issued as follows:

      107. Life Histories of North American Diving Birds, August 1, 1919.

      113. Life Histories of North American Gulls and Terns, August 27,

      121. Life Histories of North American Petrels, Pelicans and their
           Allies, October 19, 1922.

      126. Life Histories of North American Wild Fowl, May 25, 1923.

      130. Life Histories of North American Wild Fowl, June 27, 1925.

      135. Life Histories of North American Marsh Birds, "1926." (=
           March 11, 1927).

The same general plan has been followed, as explained in previous
bulletins, and the same sources of information have been utilized.

The classification and nomenclature adopted by the American
Ornithologists' Union, in its latest check list and its supplements,
have been followed, mainly, with such few changes as, in the author's
opinion, will be, or should be, made to bring the work up to date, and
in line with recent advances in the science.

The main ranges are as accurately outlined as limited space will permit;
the normal migrations are given in sufficient detail to indicate the
usual movements of the species; no attempt has been made to give all
records, for economy in space, and no pretense at complete perfection is
claimed. Many published records, often repeated, have been investigated
and discarded; many apparently doubtful records have been verified; some
published records, impossible to either verify or disprove, have been
accepted if the evidence seemed to warrant it.

The egg dates are the condensed results of a mass of records taken from
the data in a large number of the best egg collections in the country,
as well as from contributed field notes and from a few published
sources. They indicate the dates on which eggs have been actually found
in various parts of the country, showing the earliest and latest dates
and the limits between which half the dates fall, the height of the

The plumages are described only in enough detail to enable the reader to
trace the sequence of molts and plumages from birth to maturity and to
recognize the birds in the different stages and at the different
seasons. No attempt has been made to fully describe adult plumages; this
has been already well done in the many manuals. The names of colors,
when in quotation marks, are taken from Ridgway's Color Standards and
Nomenclature (1912) and the terms used to describe the shapes of eggs
are taken from his Nomenclature of Colors (1886 edition). The
heavy-faced type in the measurements of eggs indicates the four extremes
of measurements.

Many of those who contributed material for former volumes have rendered
a similar service in this case. In addition to those whose contributions
have been acknowledged previously, our thanks are due to the following
new contributors: Photographs, notes, or data have been contributed by
W. B. Alexander, Clark Blickensderfer, C. E. Chapman, Karl
Christofferson, C. W. Colthrup, Walter Colvin, W. M. Congreve, Joseph
Dixon, J. G. Gordon, S. A. Grimes, W. C. Herman, Frank Howland, W. I.
Lyon, T. R. Miley, D. J. Nicholson, R. H. Rauch, Russell Richardson,
jr., W. A. Smith, J. D. Soper, E. S. Thomas, M. B. Trautman, C. F.
Walker, F. M. Weston, H. F. Witherby, A. H. Wood, jr., and C. J. Young.

Receipt of material from over 250 contributors has been acknowledged in
previous volumes.

Through the courtesy of the Biological Survey, the services of Frederick
C. Lincoln were secured to compile the distribution paragraphs. With the
matchless reference files of the Biological Survey at his disposal and
with some advice and help from Dr. Harry C. Oberholser, his many hours
of careful and thorough work have produced results far more satisfactory
than could have been attained by the author, who claims no credit and
assumes no responsibility for this part of the work. The few minor
changes made in the system do not materially alter the general plan.

Dr. Charles W. Townsend has written the life histories of two species
and the Rev. Francis C. R. Jourdain, a well-known British authority, has
contributed the life histories and the distributions of six Old World
species, which are known to us only as rare stragglers. Mr. J. H. Riley
has furnished descriptions and measurements of some rare eggs in the
National Museum. We are indebted to Mr. H. F. Witherby for the loan of
the valuable photographs of the knot, taken by Admiral Peary, which the
author publishes at his own risk, without permission.

As most of the shore birds are known to us mainly, or entirely, as
migrants it has seemed desirable to describe their migrations quite
fully. As it is a well-known fact that many, if not all, immature and
nonbreeding shore birds remain far south of their breeding ranges all
summer it has not seemed necessary to mention this in each case. Nor
did it seem necessary to say that only one brood is raised in a season,
as this is a nearly universal rule with all water birds.

The manuscript for this volume was completed in March, 1927.
Contributions received since then will be acknowledged later. Only
information of great importance could be added. When this volume appears
contributions of photographs or notes relating to the gallinaceous birds
should be sent to

                                                            THE AUTHOR.

                             _Life Histories of_

                                North American

                                 Shore Birds




_Of Taunton, Massachusetts_

Family PHALAROPODIDAE, Phalaropes




The female red phalarope in her full nuptial plumage is, to my mind, the
handsomest, certainly the most richly colored, of the three known
species of phalaropes. The species is cosmopolitan, with a circumpolar
breeding range; it is apparently homogeneous throughout its wide range
except for a local race, breeding in Spitsbergen, which has been
separated and named _Phalaropus fulicarius jourdaini_ Iredale; this race
is said to have paler edgings on the back, scapulars, and tertials. The
species is commonly known abroad as the grey phalarope, an appropriate
name for the bird in its winter plumage, in which it is most often seen.

It is less often seen in the United States than the other two species;
its summer home is so far north that it is beyond the reach of most of
us; and at other seasons it is much more pelagic than the other species,
migrating and apparently spending the winter far out on the open sea,
often a hundred miles or more from land. It seldom comes ashore on the
mainland except when driven in by thick weather or a severe storm. Hence
it is an apparently rare bird to most of us. But in its arctic summer
home it is exceedingly abundant. Alfred M. Bailey (1925) says that "this
was the most abundant of the shore birds at Wales, as at Wainwright,
Alaska. As a person walks over the tundra there is a continual string of
those handsome birds rising from the grass." Again he writes:

     At Whalen, near East Cape, Siberia, we saw thousands of these
     beautiful little fellows on July 11. The day was very disagreeable,
     with a strong wind off the ice and a drizzling rain. From the ship
     we could see waves of birds rising some distance off in such dense
     flocks that individuals could not be distinguished; the mass looked
     like a long, thin cloud swirling before the wind; one end of the
     line rose high in the air, while the other end swerved nearer to
     the water. They swung about with the erratic movements and
     wave-like flight so characteristic of black skimmers, now high in
     the air, again low over the water. As we worked along the shore,
     thousands that were feeding close along the beach rose and flew
     across the sand spit in front of us. There was a continual stream
     of them drifting by, like so much sand before a strong wind. They
     were, at this time, beginning to molt their breeding plumage.

_Spring._--The migrations of the red phalarope are mainly at sea,
usually far out from land. During the month of May enormous flocks may
be seen on the ocean off the coasts of New England, but it is only
during stress of weather that they are driven inshore. I can well
remember a big storm, on May 21, 1892, which brought a large flight of
these birds into Cape Cod Bay; Nat Gould killed a large number that day
on Monomoy Island and I shot one at Plymouth Beach; others were taken at
Provincetown. In pleasant weather these birds are well at home on the
heaving bosom of the ocean, flying about in flocks, twisting, turning,
and wheeling like flocks of sandpipers, or resting or feeding on the
drifting rafts of seaweeds. On the Pacific coast these birds are even
more abundant, if one goes far enough offshore to see them during April
and May. They often congregate in considerable numbers about the
Farallon Islands. W. Leon Dawson (1923) has drawn a graphic picture of
them there, as follows:

     Here in late spring thousands of these birds ride at anchor in the
     lee of the main island, along with other thousands of the other
     northern species, _Lobipes lobatus_. Of these some few scores are
     driven ashore by hunger and seek their sustenance in brackish
     pools, or else battle with the breakers in the little "bight" of
     the rocky lee shore. The date is May 23, and the company under
     survey numbers a few brilliant red birds in high plumage among the
     scores in unchanged gray, together with others exhibiting every
     intermediate gradation. When to this variety is added a similar
     diversity among the northerns, which mingle indiscriminately with
     them, you have a motley company--no two birds alike. Ho! but these
     are agile surfmen! Never, save in the case of the wandering tattler
     and the American dipper, have I seen such absolute disregard of
     danger and such instant adjustment to watery circumstance. Here are
     30 of these phalaropes "fine mixed," threading a narrow passage in
     the reefs where danger threatens in the minutest fraction of a
     second. Crash! comes a comber. Our little world is obliterated in
     foam. Sea anemones and rock oysters sputter and choke, and there is
     a fine fury of readjustment. But the phalaropes rise automatically,
     clear the crest of the crasher, and are down again, preening their
     feathers or snatching dainties with the utmost unconcern. Now a
     bird is left stranded on a reef, or now he is whisked and whirled a
     dozen feet away. All right, if he likes it; but if not, he is back
     again, automatically, at the old rendezvous. Life goes on right
     merrily in spite of these shocking interruptions. Food getting is
     the main business, and this is pursued with extraordinary ardor.
     The bird's tiny feet kick the water violently, and there is the
     tiniest compensatory bob for every stroke, so that their little
     bodies seem all a tremble. There seems to be no difference of
     opinion between the two species, but there is time for a good deal
     of amatory play between the sexes of the reds. It is always the
     bright-colored female who makes the advances, for the wanton
     phalaropes have revised nature's order, and the modest male either
     seeks escape by flight, or else defends himself with determined
     dabs. Here is the authentic lady for whom Shakespeare's "pilgrim"

Of their arrival on their breeding grounds in northern Alaska, E. W.
Nelson (1887) writes:

     It is much more gregarious than its relative, and for a week or two
     after its first arrival 50 or more flock together. These flocks
     were very numerous the 1st of June, 1879, at the Yukon mouth, where
     I had an excellent opportunity to observe them. In the morning the
     birds which were paired could be found scattered here and there, by
     twos, over the slightly flooded grassy flats. At times these pairs
     would rise and fly a short distance, the female, easily known by
     her bright colors and larger size, in advance, and uttering now and
     then a low and musical "clink, clink," sounding very much like the
     noise made by lightly tapping together two small bars of steel.
     When disturbed these notes were repeated oftener and became harder
     and louder. A little later in the day, as their hunger became
     satisfied, they began to unite into parties until 15 or 20 birds
     would rise and pursue an erratic course over the flat. As they
     passed swiftly along stray individuals and pairs might be seen to
     spring up and join the flock. Other flocks would rise and the
     smaller coalesce with the larger until from two hundred to three or
     even four hundred birds were gathered in a single flock. As the
     size of the flock increased its movements became more and more
     irregular. At one moment they would glide straight along the
     ground, then change to a wayward flight, back and forth, twisting
     about with such rapidity that it was difficult to follow them with
     the eye. Suddenly their course would change, and the compact flock,
     as if animated by a single impulse, would rise high over head, and,
     after a series of graceful and swift evolutions, come sweeping down
     with a loud, rushing sound to resume their playful course near the
     ground. During all their motions the entire flock moves in such
     unison that the alternate flashing of the underside of their wings
     and the dark color of the back, like the play of light and shade,
     makes a beautiful spectacle. When wearied of their sport the flock
     disbands and the birds again resume their feeding.

_Courtship._--The well-known reversal of sexual characters in the
phalaropes makes their courtship particularly interesting, as the large,
handsome females press their ardent suits against the timid and
dull-colored little males. A. L. V. Manniche (1910) has given us the
best account of it, as follows:

     June 19, 1907, early in the morning, I had the pleasure of watching
     for hours the actions of a loving couple of phalaropes on the beach
     of a pool surrounded by large sedge tufts, covered with long,
     withered grass. This act I found very funny, peculiar, and
     charming. When the male had been eagerly searching for food for
     some 20 minutes, often standing on his head in the water, like a
     duck, to fish or pick up something from the bottom, he would lie
     down on a tuft, stretching out his one leg and his one wing as if
     he would fully enjoy the rest after his exertions. The female for
     some moments was lying quietly and mutely in the middle of the
     pool; suddenly she began with increasing rapidity to whirl around
     on the surface of the water, always in the same little circle, the
     diameter of which was some 10 centimeters. As the male seemed to
     pay no attention to her alluring movements, she flew rapidly up to
     him--producing as she left the water a peculiar whirling sound with
     her wings and uttering short angry cries--pushed him with her bill,
     and then she returned to the water and took up her swimming dance.
     Now the male came out to her, and the two birds whirled around for
     some moments equally eager and with increasing rapidity. Uttering a
     short call, the female again flew to a tuft surrounded by water and
     waited some seconds in vain for the male; again she flew to the
     water to induce him with eager pushes and thumps to accompany her.
     They again whirled violently around, whereafter she, uttering a
     strong, alluring sound, flew back to the tuft, this time
     accompanied by the male--and the pairing immediately took place. In
     the matrimony of the grey phalarope the female only decides. She
     exceeds the male in size and brilliancy of plumage and has the
     decisive power in all family affairs. If she wants to shift her
     place of residence she flies up swift as an arrow with a commanding
     cry--which may be expressed as "_pittss_"--and if the male does not
     follow her at once she will immediately return and give him a
     severe punishment, which never fails to have the desired effect. It
     is a well-known fact that she completely ignores her eggs and young

_Nesting._--The same author describes the nesting habits of this
species, in northeast Greenland, as follows:

     It is peculiar, that the male has well-marked breeding spots before
     the breeding begins and certainly before the female has laid her
     first egg; but this fact has been proved by several solid
     examinations. June 26, 1907, I observed on the beach of the
     Bjergandeso in the Stormkap district, that the nest building was
     executed by the male. He was busy in building the nest on a low
     bank covered with short grass, while she paid no attention to his
     labor, but swam around the beach searching food. The male shaped a
     nest hollow by turning round his body against the ground on the
     place selected, having first by aid of the feet scraped away and
     trampled down the longest and most troublesome straws. He
     diligently used feet and bill at the same time to arrange the
     shorter fine straws, which are carefully bent into the nest hollow
     and form the lining of this. The nest was much smaller than that of
     _Tringa alpina_ and contained one egg the next day. Along the
     beaches of a smaller lake not far from the ship's harbor I saw,
     June 30, three solitary swimming males, at least one of which
     showed signs of having a nest. I soon found this close to the place
     of residence of the male in question. The nest contained four fresh
     eggs and was built in exactly the same way as the before-mentioned
     nest. The male proved so far from being shy, that he could be
     driven to his nest and merely be caught by hand; having laid
     himself upon the nest he was still more fearless.

      A breeding phalarope will lie motionless with his head pressed
      deep down against his back. He is almost fully covered by straws,
      which surround the nest, as he with the bill bends these over
      himself, besides he is so similar to the surroundings that no
      human eye is able to distinguish him from these, if the spot is
      not known beforehand.

     July 9, 1907, I again found a phalarope's nest by the Bjergandeso;
     it contained four fresh eggs and was built a little differently
     from the two before-mentioned nests. These were found close to a
     lake on low banks covered with short grass, but this one was built
     on a tuft covered with long, withered grass, situated some 10
     meters from the real lake, but surrounded by shallow water, that
     came from a little river running out from the lake and irrigating
     all the tufts, one of which contained the nest. This bird also kept
     very close on the nest, and did not leave it before I parted the
     long grass with my foot. When frightened up from the nest the bird
     for a short while lay screaming and flapping on the water not far
     from me; thereupon he flew away, silently and rapidly, to land on
     the opposite side of the lake. Having been absent for some five
     minutes he returned just as rapidly, flew a good way to the other
     side of the nest, sat down, and kept quiet for a couple of minutes,
     whereafter he again flew up and took the earth some 20 meters from
     the nest, which he then rapidly approached walking and swimming
     hidden by aquatic plants and tufts. All this was done in order to
     mislead me, who was lying some 15 meters from the nest without any
     shelter and therefore seen by the bird all the while.

C. W. G. Eifrig (1905) found the red phalarope breeding very commonly
around Cape Fullerton and Southampton Island, Hudson Bay. "They nest
around fresh water ponds, laying their eggs, without nesting material,
in depressions in the sand or moss, often in lichens." John Murdoch
(1885), on the other hand, says, at Point Barrow, Alaska, that--

     The nest is always in the grass, never in the black or mossy
     portions of the tundra, and usually in a pretty wet situation,
     though a nest was occasionally found high and dry, in a place where
     the nest of the pectoral sandpiper would be looked for. A favorite
     nesting site was a narrow grassy isthmus between two of the shallow
     ponds. The nest is a very slight affair of dried grass and always
     well concealed.

In the Kotzebue Sound region Joseph Grinnell (1900) found three nests,
of which he says:

     The nests were all on higher ground and at a distance of 100 yards
     or more from the lagoons where the birds usually congregated for
     feeding and social purposes. The three nests agreed in situation,
     being rather deep depressions sunk into the tops of mossy hummocks.
     There was a thin lining of dry grasses, and in one case the
     drooping blades from an adjoining clump of grass partially
     concealed the nest from view from above.

Miss Maud D. Haviland (1915) relates her experience with the nesting
habits of this species, at the mouth of the Yenesei River, Siberia, as

     I found the first nest on Golchika Island early in July. My
     attention was called to it by the male bird, which flew round
     uneasily. Even when the nesting ground is invaded, this phalarope
     is very quiet and not very demonstrative. He flits round the
     intruder with a peculiar silent flight, rather like a big red moth,
     while he utters his chirruping alarm note--"_zhit zhit_." This call
     is shriller than that of _Phalaropus lobatus_, and quite
     recognizable where the two species breed side by side. I sat down
     on a log of driftwood, and in about half an hour was able to flush
     the bird from four fresh eggs. This nest, however, was not placed
     very well for photography, for about 50 yards away was a turf hut,
     which a Russian family had just taken possession of for the summer,
     and I dared not leave the hiding tent or apparatus near the spot.
     On the following day I was more fortunate, and found a nest which
     was also on the island but about half a verst away. It was in
     rather a dryer situation than the last, but like all the nests of
     this species that I saw, the eggs lay on quite a substantial
     platform of dead grass. In other cases the sites were so wet that
     the bird must have been sitting actually in water--and the
     photographer would have had to do likewise! In the photograph, the
     grass has been parted in order to show the eggs, but before this
     was done they were screened as carefully as the eggs of a redshank
     or reeve.

     I pitched the tent at once, and went in to hide. The male phalarope
     stood on a tussock about 20 yards away and watched attentively, I
     should not thus have tackled the nest of any other wader, but I
     relied upon the confidence and simplicity of the phalarope, and I
     did not rely upon them in vain. In about 20 minutes I caught sight
     of the bird creeping round the tent, and a few minutes later he
     settled down upon the eggs. In this, my first glimpse of a grey
     phalarope at close quarters, two points struck me forcibly. One was
     the apparent extraordinary length of the bird. The single pair of
     legs in the middle seemed quite insufficient to support so long a
     body, and with his quaint perky gait, it seemed as if the bird
     swayed to and fro upon cee springs as he walked. The other was the
     peculiar harmony of the color of the mantle with the grass around,
     bleached or blackened by snow and thaw. The long, bladelike form of
     the secondary feathers, and the buff longitudinal shoulder bands
     seemed to emphasize the scheme until the bird was almost
     indistinguishable from his surroundings.

Herbert W. Brandt in his manuscript notes says:

     The nest of the red phalarope is built either on dry ground or over
     shallow grass-grown water and is well concealed. Leading away from
     it usually are one or more runways which are either tunneled or
     open. The nest is fragile and very loosely made. The interior is
     moulded into a cup shape and the structure is made of grasses and
     often lined with moss stems, small leaves of the dwarf birch,
     cranberry, and other small, crisp leaves found there. Frequently,
     however, a simple depression in the moss or grass suffices to serve
     for the nursery. The range of measurements of 18 nests is: Height 3
     to 5 inches; inside diameter 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 inches; depth of
     cavity, 2-1/2 to 3 inches; but the nest is sometimes built up
     higher and is more substantial if placed directly over water. In
     fact, this little coot-footed bird sometimes builds a miniature
     cootlike nest. The male alone was noted building the nest, and he
     usually incubates, but on two occasions the female was observed on
     the eggs. The incubating bird is not a close sitter and departs
     from the nest long before the intruder arrives. In that
     jaeger-haunted land when the male phalarope returns to the nest he
     weaves so stealthily through the grass that it is almost impossible
     to follow his devious course so that two or three rapid charges are
     necessary by the watcher toward the supposed location of the nest
     before the incubating bird can finally be forced to rise directly
     from its eggs.

_Eggs._--The red phalarope ordinarily lays four eggs, though three
sometimes constitute a full set, and as many as six have been found in a
nest, probably laid by two birds. They vary in shape from ovate pyriform
to subpyriform and have a slight gloss. The prevailing ground colors
range from "pale olive buff" to "dark olive buff"; in the darker sets
they vary from "ecru olive" to "Isabella color"; in a few sets there is
a greenish tinge approaching "light brownish olive". The markings are
bold, sharply defined and irregular in shape; they are most numerous
and often confluent at the larger end; but some eggs are finely speckled
over the entire surface. The prevailing colors of the markings are dark
browns, from "warm sepia" or "Vandyke brown" to "bone brown" or "clove
brown." Some eggs are marked with lighter or brighter browns, "hazel,"
"russet," or even "tawny." The drab under markings are hardly
noticeable. The measurements of 148 eggs in the United States National
Museum average 31.5 by 22 millimeters; the eggs showing the four
extremes measure =35= by 22, 32 by =23= and =27.5= by =20.5=

_Young._--Authorities differ as to the period of incubation, which does
not seem to have been definitely determined by anyone. Mr. Conover
writes to me that "a nest located June 10, with three eggs, hatched on
June 29." Incubation is performed almost wholly by the male, but Mr.
Brandt (mss.) says: "The female, however, is, of course, the dominant
member of the household, but she occasionally shares the cares of
incubation, as I proved by collecting one from the nest; while later in
the year I was successful in photographing a mother with a single chick.
Perhaps it was a favorite child which she was taking for a walk while
the father was mothering the rest of the family." Most observers agree
that the male assumes full care of the young also; but Miss Haviland
(1915) says: "It seems as if both male and female unite to care for the
young, and when the breeding ground is approached they fly around and
call anxiously." Probably the gaily dressed female is a poor mother at
best and prefers to join the large flocks of her sex on the tundra

_Plumages._--The downy young red phalarope is the handsomest of its
group, darker and more richly colored, as well as larger than the young
northern phalarope. The upper parts show various shades of deep, warm
brownish buff, darkest, "Sudan brown," on the crown, paling to "raw
sienna," on the sides of the head, occiput, neck, thighs, and rump, and
to "yellow ocher" on the rest of the upper parts; these colors shade off
into "antimony yellow" or "warm buff" on the throat and breast and to
buffy white on the belly; the down of the upper parts is tipped with
black, except on the yellow ocher parts, and is basally dusky. It is
boldly marked above with clear, velvety black; there is a large black
patch back of the central crown patch of brown and a diminishing black
stripe on each side of it; a narrow black stripe runs from the hill,
over the eye, to the auriculars; another runs across the hind neck; a
broad, but more or less broken and irregular, black stripe extends down
the center of the back and a similar stripe down each side of it; there
is also a large well-defined black patch on each side of the rump, above
the thigh.

In fresh juvenal plumage, in August, the feathers of the crown, mantle,
and scapulars are black, broadly edged with "ochraceous tawny"; the
tertials, median wing coverts, upper tail coverts, and tail feathers are
narrowly edged with paler shades of buff; the lesser wing coverts are
narrowly edged with white; the forehead, lores, neck all around, upper
breast, and flanks are suffused with grayish brown, varying from "fawn
color" or "wood brown," on the throat, neck, and breast, to "vinaceous
buff" on the head and flanks; the rest of the under parts are pure
white. The sexes are alike in juvenal and winter plumages.

The tawny edgings of the upper plumage soon fade and wear away before
the postjuvenal molt begins during August. I have seen birds in full
juvenal plumage as late as September 15; the molt is usually not
completed until late in October, but I have seen it well advanced by the
middle of August. This molt includes nearly all of the contour plumage,
but not the wings and tail, so that first-winter birds can be
distinguished from adults by the juvenal wing coverts and tail.

The first prenuptial molt occurs mainly in April and May; it is
sometimes completed by the last week in May, but more often not until
early June; I have seen the full first-winter plumage retained until May
21. This molt involves the entire contour plumage, some wing coverts,
and the tail; so that young birds in first nuptial plumage closely
resemble adults and can be distinguished only by the presence of some
old juvenal wing coverts. The sexes are quite unlike in this plumage and
are probably ready to breed. Certain females, in which the black crown
and white cheek patches are obscured with buff and rufous tints, but are
otherwise in full plumage, are perhaps young birds.

At the following molt, the first postnuptial, the adult winter plumage
is acquired, characterized by the bluish-gray mantle and the white under
parts. This molt is complete; it begins in July and is sometimes
completed in August, but more often it is prolonged into September or
later. Adults have a partial molt in the spring, from March to May,
involving the contour feathers, the tail, some of the tertials, and some
of the wing coverts; the remiges are not molted, and some of the old
scapulars are retained. The adult postnuptial molt, from July to
December, is complete.

_Food._--During the month or so that they are on their northern breeding
grounds the red phalaropes are shore birds, feeding in the tundra pools
or along the shores, but during the rest of the year they are
essentially sea birds, feeding on or about the floating masses of kelp
or seaweeds, or following the whales or schools of large fish; hence
they are aptly called "sea geese," "whale birds," or "bowhead birds."
They occasionally come in to brackish pools near the shore or rarely
are seen on the sandy beaches or mud flats feeding with other shore
birds. Outlying rocky islands are often favorite feeding places. Ludwig
Kumlien (1879) writes:

     Whalemen always watch these birds while they are wheeling around
     high in the air in graceful and rapid circles, for they know that
     as soon as they sight a whale blowing they start for him, and from
     their elevated position they can, of course, discern one at a much
     greater distance than the men in the boat I doubt if it be
     altogether the marine animals brought to the surface by the whale
     that they are after, for if the whale remains above the surface any
     length of time they always settle on his back and hunt parasites.
     One specimen was brought me by an Eskimo that he had killed on the
     back of an _Orca gladiator_; the esophagus was fairly crammed with
     _Laernodipodian crustaceans_, still alive, although the bird had
     been killed some hours; they looked to me like _Caprella phasma_
     and _Cyamus ceti_. According to the Eskimo who killed it, the birds
     were picking something from the whale's back, I have often seen
     them dart down among a school of _Delphinapterous leucas_ and
     follow them as far as I could see. On one occasion a pair suddenly
     alighted astern of my boat and were not 3 feet from me at times;
     they followed directly in the wake of the boat, and seemed so
     intent on picking up food that they paid no attention whatever to
     us. They had probably mistaken the boat for a whale.

In northeastern Greenland, Manniche (1910) saw them hunt flying insects
on land; he also says:

     Some 20 analyses of stomachs proved that the phalaropes in the
     breeding season chiefly feed on small insects, principally gnats
     and larvae of these. The esophagus and stomachs of several birds
     killed were filled with larvae of gnats, which in vast multitudes
     live in the fresh-water ponds. In a few stomachs I also found fine
     indeterminable remnants of plants (Algae?).

W. Leon Dawson (1923) describes their feeding habits at the Farallones,
as follows:

     Three red phalaropes, all female I take it, although none of them
     in highest plumage, and one northern, also a female, just under
     "high," are pasturing at my feet in a brackish pool some 20 feet
     long, 10 feet wide, and 2 feet deep. The waters of the pool teem
     with a minute reddish crustacean (?) shaped like an ant, less than
     a thirty-second of an inch in length and incredibly nimble. The
     insects progress by leaps, and are visible only at the moment of
     arrival. Yet these birds gobble them up one at a time with unerring
     accuracy and with a rapidity which is nothing short of marvelous.
     The reds work habitually at the rate of five dabs per second, i.
     e., 300 a minute, while the northern, with a longer beak and a much
     daintier motion, works only half as fast.

The following observation was made on a California beach by Roland C.
Ross (1922):

     Kelp flies seemed to satisfy its sporting instincts and hunger, and
     the bird stalked them slowly and pointedly one by one. With bill
     and neck outstretched and lowered in line with a fly on the sand, a
     slow advance was made until with a pounce the hunt closed. If the
     fly escaped, the phalarope sometimes ran after it, bill out.
     Another pose interested me. On finding a kelp mass decaying and
     drawing flies, the phalarope approached closely and so low that his
     breast touched the ground, but the rear of the bird was high up. At
     times he would remain with breast down and pick at the flies much
     as a dusting fowl picks up a stray grain. Mr. L. E. Wyman reported
     similar "breast to ground" actions of two phalaropes he saw feeding
     by a kelp mass on the beach.

Alexander Wetmore (1925), in his report on the food of the red
phalarope, analyzed the contents of 36 stomachs, mainly from the
Pribilof Islands, with some from New York and Maine; they were collected
from May to November, but mainly in August. Crustaceans made up 33.5 per
cent of the food; beetles amounted to 27.3 per cent; flies formed 22.7
per cent; and 6.8 per cent consisted of tiny fishes, mostly sculpins.
The food of this species therefore shows it to be harmless or neutral.

_Behavior._--Phalaropes are active, lively birds in all their movements
and they seem to be constantly on the move. They are all rapid fliers
and this species is decidedly the swiftest on the wing of all three. As
the restless flocks move about over the water, their aerial evolutions
are well worth watching. Lucien M. Turner, in his Labrador notes, writes
that he has seen them "ascend to a great height in increasing circles,
darting in and out among each other and making a peculiar twitter as
they ascend. When some suitable locality is discerned these birds
descend almost perpendicularly and drop on the water as softly as a
feather." They are so much like sandpipers in appearance and in manner
of flight that one is always surprised to see them alight on the water.

Perhaps even more surprising than their peculiar marital relations are
their aquatic habits. Their semipalmated and lobed toes are well adapted
for swimming and the thick, compact plumage of their under parts
protects them and buoys them up on the water. They float as lightly as
corks, or as freshly fallen autumn leaves on a woodland pool, swimming
swiftly and whirling rapidly, undisturbed by rushing currents or by
foaming breakers. William Brewster (1925) has well described the
behavior of a red phalarope on an inland stream at Umbagog Lake, Me.; he

     I strolled across a suspension footbridge that spans Bear River
     here, a shallow stream rippling over a rocky bed scarce 50 feet in
     width, beneath overhanging yellow birches and other deciduous
     trees. Returning a few minutes later I had reached the middle of
     the bridge when a grayish bird started directly under it and flew
     off down stream for a few rods, skimming close to the water and
     uttering a sharp _whit, whit_, which reminded me of the call of a
     spotted sandpiper concerned for the safety of its young. Almost at
     the first glance I recognized the bird as a red phalarope whose
     presence in such a place surprised me greatly, of course.
     Alighting, again, in the middle of the river it floated buoyantly
     and stemmed the swift current with apparent ease, although avoiding
     such exertion, whenever possible, by taking advantage of
     backward-flowing eddies. Presently it began working around the
     bases of some large boulders where it seemed to be obtaining
     abundant food by pecking rapidly and incessantly at their rough
     flanks, wetted by lapping waves. It also fed on the surface of the
     swirling eddies, paddling about very rapidly and in devious
     courses. It was most interesting to see a bird whose characteristic
     haunts, at least in autumn and winter, are boundless stretches of
     wind-swept ocean, thus disporting itself in a brawling mountain
     stream overarched by trees. Even a water ousel could not have
     appeared more perfectly at home there. Like most phalaropes this
     one was tame and confiding, but whenever I approached within 20 or
     25 feet, it would rise and fly on a few yards, giving the _whit_

On land their movements are exceedingly rapid and graceful, though
somewhat erratic; they run about excitedly with all the restless
activity of sandpipers, nodding their heads with a pretty, dovelike
motion. At such times they are remarkably tame, unsuspicious, and gentle
birds; as they do not habitually come in contact with human beings, they
are unafraid.

_Voice._--The vocal performances of the red phalarope are not elaborate.
As quoted above, Doctor Nelson (1887) describes its note as "a low and
musical _clink, clink_, sounding very much like the noise made by
lightly tapping together two small bars of steel." Mr. Brewster (1925)
refers to the note as "an emphatic _zip, zip_, closely resembling that
of Bonaparte's sandpiper ... but louder and mellower." Again he says:
"Once they rose and flew about the pond precisely like small sandpipers,
one of them uttering a peep-like _tweet_ just as it left the water."
Charles W. Townsend (1920) saw one which "emitted a whistle which was
clear and pleasant at times, and again sharp and grating; at times the
note could be expressed as a _creak_."

_Field marks._--In its nuptial plumage the red phalarope can be easily
recognized by its brilliant colors; the male is smaller, his colors are
duller, and his breast is mixed with white. In its winter plumage, in
which we usually see it, it is likely to be confused with the northern
phalarope or the sanderling. It is larger than the former, more stockily
built and has a shorter, thicker bill, which is yellowish at the base.
From the sanderling it can be distinguished by the gray markings on the
head and neck, which are mainly white in winter sanderlings, by the
darker gray of the back and by the yellow at the base of the bill.
Phalaropes are usually tame enough to allow close study of these
details. John T. Nichols suggests to me the following additional field

     This phalarope holds its gray plumage well into the spring and
     adults quickly resume same when they go to sea in late summer.
     Around the first of August flocks offshore are in gray and white
     "winter" plumage, but a few birds have a peculiar pink tone
     appreciable on the underparts at fair range, apt to be strongest
     posteriorly, and which is diagnostic. It is caused by scattered old
     red feathers overlaid by the delicate tips of new white ones. The
     white wing stripe is somewhat broader in this than in the northern
     phalarope and in gray plumage the upper parts are of so pale a tone
     that the wing pattern appears faint, something as it does in the
     piping plover. What seems to be a late summer plumage of birds of
     the year, on the other hand, is less white than the corresponding
     one of the northern. As the bird sits on the water the sides of its
     neck, breast, and sides appear brownish (not red or pink), the only
     touch of whitish it shows is on the flanks. At close range a curved
     phalarope mark behind the eye is just indicated, corresponding to
     the bold contrasting mark in the northern.

_Enemies._--Phalaropes are not considered game birds, as they are too
small and too seldom seen in large numbers to warrant pursuing them; so
man should not be counted among their enemies. On their Arctic breeding
grounds they evidently have plenty of avian enemies, such as jaegers,
gulls, and various gyrfalcons. Mr. Manniche (1910) writes:

     The two phalaropes observed were evidently very much afraid of
     larger waders as for instance knots. Several times I saw them rush
     together in terror and lie motionless on the water with their heads
     pressed down to their backs until the supposed danger--a passing
     knot--was past; then they continued their meal or love-making. The
     only enemy of the full-grown birds is the gyrfalcon (_Falco
     gyrfalco_), which will surprise and capture them when lying on the
     water. This I succeeded in observing one day in summer 1907; just
     as I was observing a male phalarope, which swam along the beach of
     a little clear pond hardly two paces from my feet, I suddenly heard
     a strong whistling in the air and saw an old falcon, that from a
     dizzy height shot like an arrow towards the surface of the water,
     caught the phalarope and again rapidly rose in the air carrying the
     bird in its talons. I saw the bird of prey descend and settle on
     the summit of a rock near the bay in order to eat its prey. The
     method, with which the falcon carried out its exploit, proved that
     several phalaropes before had the same fate. The gyrfalcon can
     certainly not catch a phalarope in flight.

Nature, however, sometimes takes her toll, as the following observation
on the coast of California reported by L. W. Welch (1922) will

     There was an unusual migration of red phalaropes (_Phalaropus
     fulicarius_) this past fall. I saw about three hundred within an
     hour on the ponds of the Long Beach Salt Works. This was October
     30. There was a great mortality among them this year. Dead birds
     were brought to the schools picked up by children in the streets or
     elsewhere. On the ponds mentioned above, dead birds were washed up
     in windrows. I could count 19 from one position and 21 from
     another. I counted 75 within half an hour. The birds had no shot
     holes in them, and showed no external evidences of having flown
     against wires, but all the birds examined were emaciated in the

Mr. Brandt in his manuscript notes writes:

     I was told that the natives look upon the flesh of the red
     phalarope as the greatest delicacy, and it is considered the
     choicest food that can be placed before an honored guest. The
     little native boys have, as their most prized mark, this red-brown
     target. Inasmuch as this bird inhabits the small ponds just outside
     the villages, the young hunters have always easily stalked game
     available. The children begin to hunt the red phalarope as soon as
     they are large enough to pull a bow string. The chase is so
     alluring that the older boys in my employ could not resist the
     temptation whenever presented, to grab a bow and arrow from the
     youngsters, and stalk this little bird. The chase is not one sided,
     however, as the phalarope is as quick as a flash, and like cupid's
     arrows, many shots fail to reach their mark.

_Fall._--The red phalaropes are the last of the waders to leave their
Arctic breeding grounds, lingering until the lakes and shores are closed
with ice, often well into October. These loiterers are all young birds;
the adults leave early and are sometimes seen off the coasts of the
United States in July. F. S. Hersey and I collected one at Chatham,
Mass., on July 4, 1921; this may have been a loiterer from the spring
flight, but probably it was an early fall migrant.

The fall migration is usually well out at sea, often hundreds of miles
from land. Kumlien (1879) writes:

     These birds were met with at great distances from land. The first
     seen on our outward passage was on August 4, 1877, In latitude 41°
     N., longitude 68° W.; here large flocks were met with. As we
     proceeded northward, their numbers increased till we reached
     Grinnell Bay. Off the Amitook Islands, on the Labrador coast, 200
     miles from the nearest land, I saw very large flocks during a
     strong gale.

William Palmer (1890) met with it in great abundance between Cape Sable
and Cape Cod on August 30.

Off the coast of California the flight begins in July or early August
and continues through the fall; a few birds linger through the winter
from Monterey southward. Throughout the great interior of North America
migration records are scattered, hardly more than casuals. It is
interesting, however, to note that Audubon (1840) saw his first birds of
this species on the Ohio River near Louisville, Kentucky, where he
killed 17 at one shot. I have an adult male in my collection which was
shot on the Taunton River, near my home, on August 12, 1913.

_Winter._--Our knowledge of the winter home of our American birds of
this species is rather meager. They have been traced as far south as the
Falkland Islands in the Atlantic Ocean and Juan Fernandez in the
Pacific. Probably they are scattered over the warmer portions of both
oceans, wherever they can find an abundant food supply.

A number of phalaropes, almost certainly of this species, were observed
by Mr. Nichols in the Atlantic, off Cape Lookout, March 22, 1926. "They
may winter here or, what is equally likely, arrive in spring to find the
same feed which attracts the mackerel to the capes of the Carolinas in
March or April."

Aretas A. Saunders writes to me of a similar observation made by him off
the coast of South Carolina on March 5, 1908:

     That day red phalaropes were abundant on the water, though we were
     out of sight of land. The sea was calm with a glossy surface, but a
     slight swell and flocks of from 10 to 50 birds rose from in front
     of the boat, at intervals all morning. They flew in compact flocks,
     low over the water, and alighted again when some distance away.


_Range._--Arctic regions of both Old and New Worlds; south in winter to
South Africa, India, China, and southern South America.

_Breeding range._--In the Old World the red phalarope breeds on the
Arctic coast from Iceland east to Nova Zembla, the Taimur Peninsula, and
the islands and coast of Siberia to Bering Sea. The race, _jourdaini_,
breeds in Spitsbergen, Iceland, and eastern Greenland.

In the Western Hemisphere the breeding range extends north to Alaska
(probably St. Lawrence Island, Cape Prince of Wales, Cape Lowenstern,
Point Barrow, and the Colville delta); Mackenzie (Rendezvous Lake and
Franklin Bay); northern Franklin (Bay of Mercy, Winter Harbor, and Cape
Liverpool); Grinnell Island (Fort Conger); and Greenland (Disco Bay,
Godhavn, and probably Christianshaab). East to Greenland (Stormkap and
probably Christianshaab); eastern Franklin (Exeter Sound, probably
Nugumeute and Grinnell Bay); and Ungava (Port Burwell). South to Ungava
(Port Burwell and probably Prince of Wales Sound); southern Franklin
(Southampton Island and Cape Fullerton); and Alaska (Fort Egbert and
Hooper Bay). West to Alaska (Hooper Bay, St. Michael, and probably St.
Lawrence Island).

_Winter range._--In the Eastern Hemisphere the winter range of the red
phalarope seems to be principally at sea off the southern coast of
Arabia and the west coast of Africa.

At this season in the Western Hemisphere it has been taken or observed
north to Lower California (La Paz and Cape San Lucas); off the coast of
Southern California (Point Pinos, Santa Cruz Islands, Anacapa Island,
and San Diego); Alabama (Pickett Springs); Florida (Canaveral Light);
and South Carolina (Mount Pleasant); and south to southern South America
(Falkland Islands, Patagonia, and Chile).

_Spring migration._--Early dates of arrival in North America are: North
Carolina, Cape Lookout, May 29; Delaware, seen off the coast, May 9; New
Jersey, Cape May, May 3, and Ocean City, May 6; New York, Shelter
Island, March 25, and Montauk Point, April 30; Connecticut, Bridgeport,
May 30; Massachusetts, Gloucester, April 2; Maine, York Beach, May 8;
Nova Scotia, Halifax, June 10; Quebec, Prince of Wales Sound, May 31;
Washington, Destruction Island lighthouse, May 8; and Alaska, Cape
Constantine, May 15, Kodiak Island, May 16, near Kotlik, May 28, Prince
Frederick Sound, May 29, and Point Barrow, June 3.

_Fall migration._--Late dates of departure in the fall are: Alaska,
Chatham Straits, September 9, Becharof Lake, October 6, Point Barrow,
October 10, St. Michael, October 14, and Kodiak Island, November 4;
Washington, Ilwaco, November 9, and Shoalwater Bay, November 24;
California, Berkeley, October 27, Point Reyes, November 22, and Santa
Barbara, November 30; Labrador, West Ste. Modiste, September 13; Prince
Edward Island, North River, November 20; Nova Scotia, off the coast,
September 16; Maine, Westbrook, September 26, Old Orchard, October 5,
and Portland, October 16; Massachusetts, North Truro, October 15, near
Nantucket, October 25, and Boston, December 30; Connecticut, Portland,
October 21, and East Haven, November 24; New York, Oneida Lake, October
4, Branchport, October 12, Orient Point, October 15, Cayuga Lake,
October 18, and Montauk Point, November 27; Maryland, White's Ferry,
October 4; District of Columbia, Anacostia River, October 17; and
Virginia, Blacksburg, September 21.

_Casual records._--The red phalarope is rare or irregular anywhere in
the interior but it has nevertheless been detected over wide areas on
several occasions. Among these records are: Vermont, Woodstock, November
10, 1916; Pennsylvania, Bucks County, December 15, 1918; Ohio,
Painesville, November 9, 1923; Ontario, Ottawa, October 21, 1886, and
Hamilton, November 17, 1882; Michigan, Monroe, October 24, 1888, and
October 25, 1890; Indiana, Jasper County, April 10, 1885, and Terre
Haute, October 23, 1889; Wisconsin, Lake Koshkonong, September 3, 1891,
Delavan, October 11, 1902, and near Cedar Grove, October 8, 1921;
Kentucky, near Louisville, latter part of October, 1808; South Dakota,
one taken near Rapid City (date unknown); Kansas, near Lawrence,
November 5, 1905; Wyoming, Laramie Plains, fall of 1897; Colorado,
Loveland, July 25, 1895; and Texas, Wise County, September 26, 1893. It
also has been taken once in New Zealand, at Waimate, South Island, in
June, 1883.

_Egg dates._--Alaska: 152 records, May 25 to July 13; 76 records, June
14 to 30. Arctic Canada: 14 records, June 21 to July 14; 7 records, June
24 to July 6. Spitsbergen: 22 records, June 24 to July 18; 11 records,
June 28 to July 11. Iceland: 17 records, June 1 to 25; 9 records, June
14 to 22.




This is the smallest, the most abundant, and the most widely distributed
of the phalaropes; consequently it is the best known. Its breeding range
is circumpolar, but extends much farther south than that of the red
phalarope; it might be called sub-Arctic rather than Arctic. There seems
to be only one homogeneous species around the world. It resembles the
red phalarope in its habits, but is more often seen on inland waters
than is that species.

_Spring._--Countless thousands of these dainty little birds migrate
northward off both coasts of North America in May, but very few ever
come ashore except in bad weather. While cruising off the coast, 10 or
more miles from land, one is likely to see them flying about in flocks,
after the manner of small sandpipers, flitting about and alighting on
drifting masses of seaweed or other flotsam, or swimming lightly on the
smooth surface of the sea, darting hither and thither in a most erratic
way, each seemingly intent on gathering its tiny bits of food. They are
gentle, graceful, and charming little birds and well worth watching.

There is also a heavy northward migration through the interior during
May. In Saskatchewan I saw a large flock at Quill Lake on May 28, 1917;
and in the Crane Lake region we recorded it as an abundant migrant; it
was seen migrating, on May 29, 1905, in large flocks with sanderlings;
one was seen at Hay Lake on June 15; and two were taken on June 14,
1906, at Big Stick Lake, which were in breeding condition. C. G. Harrold
writes to me that it is a common and rather late migrant in Manitoba.
William Rowan's notes contain several references to the enormous flocks
which pass Beaverhill Lake, Alberta, in May, mostly during the last two

Dr. E. W. Nelson (1887) has given us the following attractive account of
the arrival of these birds in northern Alaska:

     As summer approaches on the Arctic shores and coast of Bering Sea
     the numberless pools, until now hidden under a snowy covering,
     become bordered or covered with water; the mud about their edges
     begins to soften, and through the water the melting ice in the
     bottom looks pale green. The ducks and geese fill the air with
     their loud resounding cries, and the rapid wing strokes of arriving
     and departing flocks add a heavy bass to the chorus which greets
     the opening of another glad season in the wilds of the cheerless
     north. Amid this loud-tongued multitude suddenly appears the
     graceful, fairylike form of the northern phalarope. Perhaps, as the
     hunter sits by the border of a secluded pool still half covered
     with snow and ice, a pair of slight wings flit before him, and
     there, riding on the water, scarcely making a ripple, floats this
     charming and elegant bird. It glides hither and thither on the
     water, apparently drifted by its fancy, and skims about the pool
     like an autumn leaf wafted before the playful zephyrs on some
     embosomed lakelet in the forest. The delicate tints and slender
     fragile form, combining grace of color and outline with a
     peculiarly dainty elegance of motion, render this the most lovely
     and attractive among its handsome congeners.

      The first arrivals reach St. Michaels in full plumage from May 14
      to 15, and their number is steadily augmented, until, the last few
      days of May and 1st of June, they are on hand in full force and
      ready to set about the season's cares. Every pool now has from one
      to several pairs of these birds gliding in restless zigzag motion
      around its border, the slender necks at times darting quickly
      right or left as the bright black eyes catch sight of some minute
      particle of food. They may be watched with pleasure for hours, and
      present a picture of exquisite gentleness which renders them an
      unfailing source of interest. The female of this bird, as is the
      case with the two allied species, is much more richly colored than
      the male and possesses all the "rights" demanded by the most
      radical reformers.

_Courtship._--The same gifted writer goes on to say:

     As the season comes on when the flames of love mount high, the
     dull-colored male moves about the pool, apparently heedless of the
     surrounding fair ones. Such stoical indifference usually appears
     too much for the feelings of some of the fair ones to bear. A
     female coyly glides close to him and bows her head in pretty
     submissiveness, but he turns away, pecks at a bit of food and moves
     off; she follows and he quickens his speed, but in vain; he is her
     choice, and she proudly arches her neck and in mazy circles passes
     and repasses close before the harassed bachelor. He turns his
     breast first to one side, then to the other, as though to escape,
     but there is his gentle wooer ever pressing her suit before him.
     Frequently he takes flight to another part of the pool, all to no
     purpose. If with affected indifference he tries to feed, she swims
     along side by side, almost touching him, and at intervals rises on
     wing above him and, poised a foot or two over his back, makes a
     half dozen quick, sharp wing strokes, producing a series of sharp,
     whistling noises in rapid succession. In the course of time it is
     said that water will wear the hardest rock, and it is certain that
     time and importunity have their full effect upon the male of this
     phalarope, and soon all are comfortably married, while mater
     familias no longer needs to use her seductive ways and charming
     blandishments to draw his notice.

Mrs. Audrey Gordon (1921) made some interesting observations on the
courtship of the red-necked phalarope, as this species is called abroad;
she writes of her experiences in the Hebrides:

     Three pairs were apparently in process of courting and their
     behavior was most interesting. Both cocks and hens were swimming in
     the water near the shore or in pools among the rushes. Suddenly a
     hen would raise herself in the water and flutter her wings at a
     great pace with her head held down and neck outstretched, all the
     while uttering a curious harsh call. She would then pursue the cock
     rapidly through the water for a few yards as though trying to
     attract his attention. At times the cock rose from the water and
     flew round about the pool where the hen was, with a low erratic
     flight and very slow wing beats, calling as he flew. This display
     only lasted a minute, when he would again alight on the water. Once
     after this flight the hen followed him closely and he turned and
     seemed to be about to mate her, but she would not let him. I saw no
     more on this occasion, but on June 18 I watched two hens and one
     cock in a pool. One of the hens kept close to the cock and whenever
     the other hen came nearer she would chase her away. Both the cock
     and the hen were seen to stand up in the water and flutter their
     wings as described above. The cock seemed to pay little attention
     to the hens and was busy pursuing, and picking up off the water,
     large black flies. Then, without any warning or unusual excitement
     on the part of either cock or hen, the nearest one to the cock
     suddenly put her head low down in the water with neck outstretched
     and made a curious single note. The cock at once swam to her and
     mating took place, the hen being submerged in the water except for
     her beautiful red neck. The cock fluttered his wings all the time;
     he then went ashore into the grasses. The second hen still kept in
     the neighborhood, though I imagine she must have realized she had
     lost her chance of a mate.

P. H. Bahr (1907) throws some light on the peculiar sexual relations of
this species; he says:

     On the 5th of June we watched the phenomena of polygamy, and of
     attempted polyandry in this species. At one end of the loch the
     former condition held sway, two energetic and quarrelsome females
     having attached themselves to one miserable-looking male, and it
     was ludicrous to behold the awe in which he held them. Once in
     particular he nearly swam between my legs in his efforts to avoid
     their attentions. Till our departure on the 27th, these three birds
     were constantly to be seen together. At the other end of the loch
     two males were seen continuously circling round the head of a
     female. I frequently observed the male performing evolutions, which
     I have previously described as the "marriage flight." Zigzagging
     from side to side with amazing rapidity he would hover with
     dangling legs over the head of the female, who, circling placidly
     in the water, appeared to take no notice of his attentions. Then
     settling beside her he would peck and chase her as if endeavoring
     to make her take to flight. Failing in this he would dash off once
     more across the marsh uttering a warbling sort of song much like
     that of the ringed plover. Then he would settle in a reedy spot,
     such as would be chosen for the nesting site, and would call
     vigorously, looking always in the direction of the female, as if
     expecting her to follow. I observed several pairs, behaving in this
     manner, and such was their fervor that the males continued this
     performance even in the midst of one of the worst storms we
     experienced. Often the female would resent these attentions, and a
     pitched battle would ensue.

Herbert W. Brandt (mss.) writes:

     It is very interesting to watch a struggle between two female
     northern phalaropes over a solitary male. They fight by the hour,
     not after the manner of the males, which rush at each other and
     boldly lock in a mortal combat, but rather these females fight by
     flipping their wings and pecking at each other instead of laying
     hold with determination. This can be likened only to a feminine
     hair-pulling episode. One day I watched such a combat for an hour,
     and there were numerous occasions on which I thought that one of
     the birds would succumb; but the contest seemed to be very equal,
     and when a bird recovered from a hard onslaught it would return at
     once and take up the wing sparring. They would flutter here and
     there over the ground, first one then the other attacking, closely
     followed all the time by the shy but neutral male, the prize of the
     conflict. Natives informed me that they had never known of one's
     being killed by the other, but that the birds would fight all day

_Nesting._--My personal experience with the nesting habits of the
northern phalarope has been limited to what few nests we found in the
Aleutian Islands in 1911. These birds were very scarce or entirely
absent in the eastern half of the chain. We saw a few on Atka Island
where several nests, with fresh eggs or incomplete sets, were found on
June 18. On Kiska Island they were really abundant and we found them
breeding about the small grassy ponds and wet meadows; fresh eggs were
found on June 21. Their favorite resorts all through the western part
of the chain were the wetter portions of the flat alluvial plains, near
the mouths of the streams and about the marshy ponds. They were very
tame everywhere and, about the ponds where they were breeding, they were
very solicitous and noisy. Their simple nests were merely deep, little
hollows, lined with a few bits of grass, in the little mounds or
tussocks in the wet meadows around the borders of the ponds or near the
small streams.

F. S. Hersey collected several sets of eggs for me near St. Michael,
Alaska, in 1914 and 1915; most of the nests were in rather wet
situations on the tundra, in or near marshy places, rather poorly
concealed and scantily lined with grasses; others were well hidden in
the clumps of scanty grass, or deeply sunken into the tundra mosses and
lined with bits of leaves or well lined with grasses. Other observers
have described the nesting habits of this species substantially as
indicated above, except that Henry H. Slater (1898), who has
"encountered 45 nests with eggs in them in one day, and considerably
more than a hundred altogether", describes the nest as "a deep
comfortable cup, concealed in a tuft of grass, or under a trailing
branch of some dwarf Arctic shrub."

_Eggs._--The northern phalarope lays four eggs almost invariably, rarely
three eggs constitute a second set; as many as five and even seven eggs
have been found in a nest, the largest number being the product of two
females. The eggs vary in shape from subpyriform to ovate pyriform, are
slightly glossy and are very fragile. The prevalent ground colors range
from "pale olive buff" to "dark olive buff" or "ecru olive;" "olive
buff" seems to be the commonest shade. In richly colored sets the colors
range from "Isabella color," or "Dresden brown" to "buckthorn brown;"
and in light buffy sets from "cream buff" to "cream color." The size,
type, and arrangement of markings vary greatly in endless patterns. Some
eggs, perhaps only one in a set, are evenly covered with small spots or
dots, but more often these are mixed with larger, irregular spots or
blotches. Some eggs are boldly marked with large irregular blotches. The
colors of the markings range from "sepia," or "warm sepia," and "bister"
to deep blackish brown, depending on the depth of the pigment. The
underlying spots, in various drab shades, are small, inconspicuous and
not numerous. In my series of over 50 sets there are two abnormal eggs;
one is plain bluish white and unmarked; and another is similar except
for one large blotch of "sepia" covering the large end. The measurements
of 119 eggs, in the United States National Museum, average 29 by 20
millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure =33= by 21, 28
by =22.5=, =27= by 19, and 31 by =18.5= millimeters.

_Young._--The period of incubation does not seem to be definitely known,
but probably it is not far from 21 days. A set of four eggs found by H.
B. Conover on June 10 hatched on the evening of June 30. Incubation is
performed largely, but perhaps not wholly, by the male. H. H. Slater
(1898) writes:

     Jerdon asserts that the females (of all the phalaropes presumably)
     leave the care of the nests to the males and lead a club life in
     separate flocks. In the present species I have not found the sex to
     be so much "emancipated." I have never shot the red-necked
     phalarope off the nest, often as I have had a chance to do so, nor
     have I seen bare hatching spots on the breasts of either sex. I
     have no doubt that the males are the most attentive parents, but in
     the case of isolated nests the second bird makes its appearance
     before you have been there long, and I have repeatedly seen both
     with the young. In fact, I should have said that of all the birds I
     know the present species is the most connubial, and the mutual
     devotion of a pair is a most charming thing to see--in fact, quite
     touching. When not actively employed they treat themselves, and one
     another, to all manner of pretty and playful endearments.

Hugh S. Gladstone (1907) says:

     Incubation is performed mostly, if not entirely, by the male. I
     flushed females off nests on two occasions, but in one case the
     full complement of eggs was not yet laid, and in the other I think
     they were only newly laid. The ground color of the eggs varied from
     stone to olive, and in one nest all four eggs were remarkably
     rotund. They take some 18 days to hatch, and only one brood is
     hatched in the season, though if the first sitting is destroyed the
     bird will lay again. The nestlings, although they can not fly for
     some days, are wonderfully precocious and can swim immediately.
     Their beautiful golden downy plumage becomes paler and paler, even
     after the first 24 hours.

     When the nest contains eggs the female bird shows the greatest
     anxiety. She can be seen swimming about in the pools; or, rising
     without any splash, flying up and down quite close to one,
     uttering a low cry of "_plip, plip_," varied by a hoarse
     "_chiss-ick_." This cry warns the male, which never flies off the
     nest, but always creeps through the grass and rushes, to some
     pool, near one of which the nest is invariably placed. Here he
     will soon be joined by the female, and they will swim about trying
     to hide their anxiety by preening their feathers or pretending to

Some observers have said that the young do not take to the water until
they are fully fledged, but Mr. Hersey's notes say that: "They run
lightly over the beaten down masses of grass around the tundra ponds and
when they know they are discovered take to the water and swim as well as
their parents."

Doctor Nelson (1887) writes:

     Fresh eggs are rarely found after June 20th, and by the middle to
     20th of July the young are fledged and on the wing. By the 12th to
     15th of July a few of the ashy feathers of the autumnal plumage
     appear, and soon after old and young begin to gather in parties of
     from five to a hundred or more, and seek the edges of large ponds
     and flats or the muddy parts of the coast and borders of tide
     creeks. During August and September they are found on the bays, and
     the last are seen about the last of September or first of October.

_Plumages._--The general color pattern of the downy young northern
phalarope is similar to that of the red phalarope, but it differs in
some details and the colors are lighter and more yellowish above. The
colors vary from "ochraceous tawny," on the crown and rump, to "antimony
yellow," on the rest of the upper parts, and to "Naples yellow" on the
throat. The underparts are more extensively grayish white than in the
preceding species and there is considerable whitish between the black
stripes on the back. There is more black in the crown, which is nearly
surrounded by it, and the black terminates in a point on the nape. A
very narrow black line runs from the bill to the eye; and there is a
black auricular patch. The central black stripe on the back is broad,
but the side stripes are narrow, and there are extensive black patches
on thighs and wings.

I have seen no specimens showing the progress of development of the
juvenal plumage. In the full juvenal plumage in August, the crown,
occiput, and a space around the eye are black, the former faintly
mottled with buff; the remainder of the head, throat, and under parts
are white, more or less suffused with "light cinnamon drab" and gray on
the sides of the neck, breast, and flanks; the feathers of the back and
scapulars are brownish black, broadly edged with bright "ochraceous
tawny," which gradually fades; some of the tertials are narrowly edged
with the same color; the median and inner greater wing coverts and the
central tail feathers are narrowly edged with pale buff or white.

A partial molt of the body plumage in September and October produces the
first winter plumage, which is like that of the winter adult, except
that the juvenal wings are retained. The sexes are alike in the juvenal
and all winter plumages. A partial prenuptial molt, from February to
June, involving the body plumage, some of the wing coverts and scapulars
and the tail, produces the first nuptial plumage, in which the sexes
differ, and which is nearly, if not quite, indistinguishable from that
of the adult.

Adults have a complete molt from July to October and an incomplete molt
from February to June, similar to that of the young bird, producing the
distinct and well-known winter and nuptial plumages.

_Food._--The northern phalarope obtains most of its food in the water,
on the ocean or in bays or in brackish pools or in fresh-water ponds.
Its characteristic and best-known method of feeding, on which many
observers have commented, is to swim rapidly about in a small circle or
to spin around in one spot, by alternate strokes of its lobed feet; this
quick whirling action is supposed to stir up the minute forms of animal
life on which it feeds and bring them within reach of its needlelike
bill, which it jabs into the water two or three times during each
revolution; the spinning motion is often very rapid and sometimes quite
prolonged, a curious performance to watch. We saw this many times in the
Aleutian Islands where small flocks were constantly seen spinning around
about the old piers or feeding in the surf off the beaches where they
floated buoyantly over the little waves or fluttered over the crests of
the small breakers.

William Brewster (1925) describes an interesting feeding performance, at
Umbagog Lake, Maine, as follows:

     Alighting again, about 100 yards off, it began fluttering about in
     circles, now narrowly clearing the water for a yard or two, next
     hitting against or skittering over the surface, acting indeed, for
     all the world like some enfeebled butterfly or clumsy moth,
     alternately attracted and repelled by a forest pool lying in deep
     shadow. This singular performance was occasionally varied by more
     pronounced upward flights, extending to a height of several feet,
     and apparently undertaken in pursuit of flying insects, passing

Both the northern and the red phalaropes feed in large numbers at sea,
often being associated together; their favorite feeding places are in
the tide rips, on or around floating masses of seaweed, in the vicinity
of whales or near schools of fish. George H. Mackay (1894) writes:

     On May 25, 1894, about 10,000 (as carefully estimated) were
     observed resting on the water around the "pigs" (rocks lying off
     Swampscott), occupying an area of about a mile radius. They were
     feeding on the red whale bait (brit) some of which was taken from
     them. I am informed that these birds follow the mackerel, which
     also feed on this brit, by their pursuit of which it is driven to
     the surface, and is then obtainable by the birds. I am also told
     that in the Bay of Fundy the phalaropes so frighten the mackerel
     when they come to the surface in pursuit of the brit, that the fish
     sink themselves. To prevent this, the fishermen carry at times
     quantities of liver cut up, which they throw out to attract these
     birds and keep them away from the fish in order that they may be
     better able to capture the latter.

Dr. Alexander Wetmore (1925), in his report on the food of the northern
phalarope, gives the results of the examination of 155 stomachs,
collected in Alaska and in the United States, from May to October,
inclusive; flies and the larvae of mosquitoes were the largest element,
32.8 per cent; the true bugs (_Hemiptera_) came next, 31.8 per cent,
including water boatmen and back swimmers; beetles represented 16.5 and
crustaceans 9.3 per cent; the remainder contained dragonfly nymphs,
spiders, marine worms, small mollusks, a few small fishes and a few
seeds. Various other insects and their larvae, many of which are
injurious, are included in the food of this bird.

_Behavior._--In flight these phalaropes remind one of the smaller
sandpipers; their flight is swift and often erratic; when flying in
flocks they twist and turn and wheel back and forth like a flock of
peeps, flashing white or dark gray, as breasts or backs are turned
toward the observer. Mr. Brewster (1883) has seen them pitch "down from
a considerable height with closed wings, much as snipe will do under
similar circumstances." Again he (1925) speaks of seeing one "rise
abruptly to a height of 15 or 20 feet, and poise there for a moment,
beating its wings and shaking its tail in a violent and peculiar

It is while swimming on smooth water that the northern phalarope seems
most at home, most graceful, charming, and confiding; it is usually very
tame and easily approached, but sometimes, especially when in large
flocks, it seems to be afraid of a boat and keeps beyond gun range. It
swims lightly as a cork, its thick coat of breast feathers giving it
great buoyancy, its head is held high and carried with a graceful
nodding motion. When a flock alights on the water, the individuals soon
scatter and swim about rapidly and independently in zigzag lines or
circles, jabbing their bills into the water in a nervous and excited
manner. I have never seen them dive and doubt if they can do so, as they
seem to have great difficulty in getting under water, even to bathe.
They frequently alight on floating masses of seaweed, where they run
about and feed with all the nervous activity of small sandpipers on a
mud flat. Roland C. Ross (1924) made some interesting observations in
southern California; he writes:

     "The northern phalarope is quite fearless in this region, but
     seldom does one find the birds so confiding as in the following
     instance: Mr. Ray Francisco, the warden for the gun club on this
     marsh, was working in water a foot or two deep, pulling out sedges,
     dock, and arrow-weed. The northern phalaropes took an interest in
     this roiled up water and drew close to dab at the surface and
     "whirligig" about in their unique way. As the man kept at work they
     drew nearer until actually about his feet. They stayed with him
     until he stopped work in that section. They were observed sleeping
     on land and water, bill along the back under a wing. Their
     ablutions were absurd attempts to get a swanlike breast and neck
     under water, when such airy grace and buoyancy forbade any
     subaquatic ventures. To get the proper ducking the phalarope
     stretches up and drives his pretty head and breast down in the
     water, which effort promptly forces his tail end up; whereupon like
     a cork he rebounds, to ride high and dry above the water with
     hardly a sign of moisture on the close-fitting plumage. At once he
     jerks up and ducks again, and again, all to little avail,
     seemingly. This up-jerk and ducking motion can be observed at a
     good distance, and the birds may be identified by it."

A curious little incident, observed in the Hebrides by Misses Best and
Haviland (1914), is thus described:

     On the south side of the loch, just where we had seen the pair of
     birds on our previous visit, we found a male and female in the long
     herbage at the water side. Perhaps we ought to reverse the usual
     order and say female and male, for the traditional dominance of the
     masculine sex is entirely unknown in this species. Certainly this
     cock bird was a most henpecked little fowl. Possibly he had been
     captured immediately on his arrival from the sea. At any rate, he
     was apparently tired out, and whenever the hen stopped, as she
     frequently did, to preen herself or feed, he sat down where he was,
     and tucking his bill under his feathers, went to sleep. Before he
     had dozed for more than a minute, however, the female would peck
     him awake, and, calling querulously, force him to follow her while
     she led the way through the marsh. Now and then she flew at him and
     chased him about, as if losing patience. This little scene was
     repeated three or four times, and the birds were so confiding that
     we were able to photograph them in the act.

Aretas A. Saunders writes to me:

     I watched flocks of these birds on a small pond near the Priest
     Butte Lakes, in Seton County, Mont. They flew to the pond in a
     compact flock, scattered over the pond to feed, and evidently
     gathered insects from the surface of the water. When frightened by
     the approach of a marsh hawk the birds all rose, quickly formed the
     compact flock and flew away, returning later when the hawk had

_Voice._--The vocal performances of this little phalarope are not
elaborate or striking. As it rises from the water it utters a plaintive
and rather faint twittering note of one, two or three syllables, which
has been variously noted as _tchip_, or _tchep_, or _pe-et_, or _pleep_,
or _wit_, _wit_, or _quet_, _quet_. Charles W. Townsend (1920) says that
it has a variety of notes. At times it twitters like a barn swallow, at
times it emits a single harsh note like that of the eave swallow. Again
a gentle _ee-ep_ is emitted, or a sharp _quip_. According to Witherby's
Handbook (1920), "Gladstone describes alarm note as a hoarse
_chiss-ick_, and Aplin speaks of a short _quit_, a rapid _ket-ket_,
_ket-ket_. and _chirra-chirra-chirra_ at nesting places."

_Field marks._--The northern is the smallest of the three phalaropes. It
is the one most likely to be seen on inland ponds, except where the
Wilson phalarope is common; but the latter is much larger and lighter
colored, especially in fall and winter. The best field marks are small
size, small head, slender neck and needlelike bill. The upper parts are
blackish or dark gray (not pearly gray, as in the others) and in flight
a white stripe shows conspicuously near the posterior border of the

_Fall._--Northern phalaropes are very abundant during August and
September off the coasts of New England, but they seldom come near
shore, except in severe storms. The main migration route is so far off
shore, south of Cape Cod, that these birds are seldom seen in the
Atlantic coast south of New England.

There is a heavy fall migration throughout the interior, which begins
quite early. We found them abundant on both migrations in Saskatchewan
and Alberta. After I left, Dr. L. B. Bishop saw a flock of 100 at Many
Island Lake, Alberta, on July 13, 1905, the beginning of the fall
migration; they were still more abundant at Big Stick Lake,
Saskatchewan, on the 19th; nearly all of the birds taken on these two
dates were adult females; many males were probably still tending broods
of young. A. G. Lawrence writes to me that these birds are fairly common
transients in southern Manitoba, from August 15 to the end of September.

H. L. Stoddard (1923) has published the following note:

     Occasionally in August and September of past years large flocks of
     small shore birds have been seen a long way offshore in the
     sand-dune region of southern Lake Michigan circling and wheeling,
     flashing alternately snow-white breasts and darker backs.
     Long-range examination with binoculars showed rather prominent
     whitish wing bars, but the identity of the birds was never
     satisfactorily determined until the afternoon of August 28, 1921,
     when the writer was camping at the mouth of the above-mentioned Bar
     Creek, in Sheboygan County, Wis. About 2 o'clock in the afternoon a
     light fog drifted in, and soon after large numbers of small shore
     birds, similar in actions and appearance to those mentioned, were
     sighted executing extraordinary maneuvers close to the surface of
     the water about 500 yards out. They circled and recircled, turned
     and twisted, some of the flocks finally alighting in some smooth
     streaks in the water inshore of a long line of net stakes that
     extended about a mile out. Fully 500 of the birds, now recognized
     as phalaropes, were in sight. One specimen, a female in fall
     plumage, was finally secured by tying the shotgun onto driftwood
     pieces and swimming out among them. They were in no way disturbed
     at my presence until a shot was fired, and I fully satisfied myself
     that the bulk of the flock were of the same species as the one
     secured, northern phalaropes.

J. A. Munro tells me that these birds are irregular fall migrants at
Okanagan Landing, British Columbia, from July 28 to September 18. Along
the California coast the fall migration is heavy and prolonged from the
latter part of July until late October or early November, the bulk of
the flight passing during August and September. Grinnell, Bryant, and
Storer (1918) say:

     Heavy winds on the ocean sometimes prove disastrous to the
     migrating hosts of northern phalaropes. Chapman records finding
     many bodies of this species in the tide pools of the Farallon
     Islands. A heavy northwest wind had been blowing along the coast
     for the previous two weeks, and many of the birds had resorted to
     inland pools of water. The emaciated condition of the birds at the
     Farallones was probably due to their inability to procure food
     while on the open ocean in migration. Forbush records numbers of
     these birds as being killed on the Atlantic coast by dashing
     against lighthouses at night. In the Cape Region of Lower
     California, Brewster found that "most of the birds examined had
     lost one or more toes, and two or three an entire foot, and part of
     the tarsus also, while others showed gaping wounds on the breast.
     These mutilations were probably caused by the bites of fishes."
     Emerson records finding several of these birds killed by flying
     against the telephone wires strung across the salt ponds on the
     marshes west of Hayward, and says that very many of this and other
     species of birds are killed in this manner.

_Winter._--Practically nothing is known about the winter home of this
species in the Western Hemisphere. It is evidently south of the borders
of the United States and probably south of the Equator on the open
ocean. The few straggling winter records for California and South
America give but a scant clue to the winter resorts of the vast numbers
that pass us on migrations.


_Range._--Distributed over both Old and New Worlds.

_Breeding range._--Arctic regions of both hemispheres. In Europe and
Asia the breeding range of the northern phalarope extends from Iceland,
Spitsbergen, and Scandinavia, across northern Russia and Siberia to
Bering Sea. South to Sakhalin Island, southern Russia (Orenburg), and
the Outer Hebrides, Shetland, and Orkney Islands.

In North America the breeding range extends north to Alaska (Near
Islands, St. Paul Island, Nelson Island, Pastolik, St. Michael, probably
Golofin Bay, the Kowak Valley, Cape Blossom, Point Hope, Point Barrow,
and the Gens de Large Mountains); Mackenzie (Franklin Bay); Keewatin
(Cape Eskimo); probably Baffin Island (Cumberland Sound); and Greenland
(North Star Bay, Upernavik and Jacob's Bight). East to Greenland (Disko
Island); Labrador (Nain and Hopedale); and western Quebec (Fort George
and Rupert House). South to western Quebec (Rupert House); northern
Manitoba (York Factory and Fort Churchill); Mackenzie (Artillery Lake
and Fort Rae); and Alaska (Nushagak and Kiska Island). West to Alaska
(Kiska and Near Islands).

_Winter range._--The winter range of the European and Asiatic birds
appears to extend south to southern Japan, the north coast of New
Guinea, Ceram, the coast of Beluchistan, the east coast of Arabia, and
probably points in the northern part of the Indian Ocean.

The winter range of North American breeding birds of this species is
more or less imperfectly known, and they are believed to winter largely
at sea. It has been reported as wintering in southern California; it has
been taken or observed in Costa Rica (Desamparados) and Peru (Tumbez);
there is a specimen in the museum at Buenos Aires, Argentina, that was
taken in Patagonia.

_Spring migration._--Early dates of arrival in North America are:
Florida, 175 miles west of Tampa, March 14; Bermuda Islands, March 18;
South Carolina, near Chester, May 17; North Carolina, Cape Lookout,
April 3; Maryland, Cumberland, May 23; New Jersey, 80 miles off
Barnegat, May 6, and Cape May County, May 22; New York, Long Cave, April
2, Montauk Point, April 30, and Branchport, May 16; Connecticut,
Quinnipiac Marshes, May 21; Massachusetts, near Boston, May 5, Marthas
Vineyard, May 6, and Provincetown, May 21; Maine, near Milo, May 3;
Quebec, Godbout, May 27; Nova Scotia, Halifax, May 12; Ohio,
Youngstown, May 26; Nebraska, Lincoln, May 10; Manitoba, Shoal Lake,
May 19; Saskatchewan, Indian Head, May 15, Osler, May 13, and Dinsmore,
May 30; Colorado, Loveland, May 1, Denver, May 17, and Middle Park, May
26; Montana, Big Sandy, May 18, and Terry, May 21; Alberta, Beaverhill
Lake, May 7; California, Monterey, April 9, Santa Barbara, April 24,
Fresno, May 5, Los Banos, May 19, and Santa Cruz, May 22; Oregon,
Klamath Falls, April 17, Malheur Lake, April 26, and Newport, April 30;
Washington, Destruction Island Lighthouse, April 27, Shoalwater Bay, May
9, and Olympia, May 13; British Columbia, Okanagan Landing, May 18, and
Mabel Lake, May 25; Yukon, Forty-mile, May 3; Alaska, Fort Kenia, May 3,
Bethel, May 19, Kowak River, May 22, Igushik, May 23, St. Michael, May
14, Fort Yukon, June 1, and Point Barrow, June 11; and Greenland, North
Star Bay, June 14.

_Fall migration._--Late dates of departure are: Alaska, Pribilof
Islands, August 31, Port Clarence, September 6, and Okutan, September
17; British Columbia, Okanagan Landing, October 15; Washington, Clallam
Bay, October 28; Oregon, Oswego, September 25; California, Fresno,
October 6, Watsonville, October 20, and Monterey, October 24; Montana,
Priest Butte Lakes, September 4, Columbia Falls, September 13, and
Corvallis, September 20; Idaho, Salmon River Mountains, September 5;
Wyoming, Fort Washakie, September 13, and Yellowstone Park, September
18; Colorado, near Denver, October 13; Manitoba, Whitewater Lake,
September 9, and Shoal Lake, September 21; North Dakota, Stump Lake,
September 2; Nebraska, Lincoln, October 26; Minnesota, St. Vincent,
August 31; Wisconsin, near Cedar Grove, September 23; Ontario, Ottawa,
October 12; Ohio, Youngstown, October 9; Newfoundland, October 11;
Ungava, mouth of the Koksoak River, September 19; Maine, near
Pittsfield, September 3; New Hampshire, Lonesome Lake, September 22,
Lancaster, October 8, and Dublin Pond, October 13; Massachusetts,
Nantucket, September 20, near Springfield, September 23, Swampscott,
September 26, Harvard, October 5, and Ware, October 13; Connecticut,
Hartford, September 27; New York, Branchport, September 15, Athol
Spring, September 24, Oneida Lake, September 21, Ithaca, September 27,
Flushing, September 29, and Montauk Point, October 22; New Jersey, Stone
Harbor, September 4, near Tuckerton, September 13, and 5-fathom Beach
Light, October 12; Pennsylvania, Pittston, September 2, Beaver,
September 26, Carlisle, October 1, and Erie, October 10; District of
Columbia, Washington, August 31; West Virginia, near Parkersburg,
September 26; North Carolina, Bladen County, September 23; and South
Carolina, Frogmore, September 25, and Sea Islands, October 25.

_Casual records._--The northern phalarope is apparently less common in
the Mississippi Valley and the Southwest. Some records in these regions
are: Michigan, Lenawee County, September 14, 1899, near Forestville,
October 4, 1911, and October 28, 1911; Indiana, Fort Wayne, June 7,
1889; Illinois, Calumet Lake, September 27, 1903; Iowa, Burlington,
August 10, 1894, and Omaha, May 6, 1896; Missouri, near St. Louis,
October 9, 1878; Kansas, May 25, 1883; New Mexico, Las Vegas, August 31,
1903; and Arizona, Walker Lake, August 19, 1889.

_Egg dates._--Alaska: 83 records, May 20 to July 23; 42 records, June 12
to 25. Arctic Canada: 58 records, June 16 to July 10; 29 records, June
23 to July 1. Iceland: 43 records, May 25 to July 12; 22 records, June 8
to 26. British Isles: 18 records, May 16 to July 12; 9 records, June 7
to 24.




I shall never forget my first impressions of a prairie slough with its
teeming bird life, an oasis of moisture in a sea of dry, grassy plain,
where all the various water birds of the region were thickly
congregated. Perhaps 10 or a dozen species of ducks could be seen in the
open water, gulls and terns were drifting about overhead, grebes and
countless coots were scurrying in and out among the reeds, and noisy
killdeers added their plaintive cries to the ceaseless din from swarms
of blackbirds in the marsh. In marked contrast to the clownish coots and
the noisy killdeers and blackbirds, the almost silent, gentle, dainty,
little phalaropes stand out in memory as charming features in the
picture, so characteristic of western bird life. The virgin prairies are
nearly gone, but there are still left a few oases of moisture in our
encroaching civilization, where these graceful birds may continue to
delight the eye with their gentle manners.

Unlike the other two world-wide species, the Wilson phalarope is a
strictly American bird, making its summer home in the interior of North
America and wintering in southern South America. It differs from the
other two also in being less pelagic and more terrestrial; it is seldom,
if ever, seen on the oceans, being a bird of the inland marshes; and it
prefers to spend more time walking about on land, or wading in shallow
water, than swimming on the water. Hence its bill, neck and legs are
longer, and its feet less lobed. It is a more normal shore bird.

_Spring._--The spring migration seems to be directly northward from the
west coasts of South America, through Central America, to the
Mississippi Valley on one hand and to California on the other. Although
it usually arrives in Manitoba during the first week in May, sometimes
as early as April 27, I have found it common in Texas as late as May 17.
Wilson phalarope are often associated with northern phalaropes on
migrations, sometimes in considerable flocks, frequenting the temporary
ponds made by heavy spring rains on the grassy meadows, rather than the
larger ponds and lakes. The first arrivals are usually females, followed
later by mixed flocks of both sexes, which soon scatter and separate
into small parties of two or three pairs.

_Courtship._--The pursuit courtship is thus described by Rev. P. B.
Peabody (1903):

     For some three weeks after their arrival, these birds gladden
     landscape and water scape, in care-free abandon. They are ever on
     the move, afoot or awing; and during these three weeks of
     junketing, the unique courtship is carried on. There is no more
     laughable sight, to one endowed with a modicum of the sense of
     humor, than that of a couple, or even three, of the brightly
     colored females, ardently chasing a single somber-plumaged male,
     who turns and darts, here and there, in arrowy flights apparently
     much bored by the whole performance. Meanwhile, the sometimes
     dangling feet and the ever tremulous wings of the amorous females
     bespeak an ardor that would be ridiculous, under the circumstances,
     were it not so desperately in earnest.

Dr. E. W. Nelson (1877), on the other hand, writes:

     At these times the nearest approach to pursuit is in a habit they
     have of suddenly darting off for a short distance at right angles
     to their general course, but this appears to be in mere sport, for
     nearly the same relative positions are kept by the birds, and this
     erratic course is rarely pursued beyond a few rods. In fact,
     throughout the pairing season I have always found the phalaropes
     very undemonstrative toward each other, the choice of mates being
     conducted in a quiet, unobtrusive way, quite unlike the usual
     manner among birds. The only demonstrations I have observed during
     the pairing time consist of a kind of solemn bowing of the head and
     body; but sometimes, with the head lowered and thrust forward, they
     will run back and forth in front of the object of their regard, or
     again a pair may often be seen to salute each other by alternately
     bowing or lowering their heads; but their courtship is
     characterized by a lack of rivalry and vehemence usually exhibited
     by birds. A male is often accompanied by two females at first, but
     as soon as his choice is made the rejected bird joins her fortunes
     with some more impressible swain.

During my various seasons spent on the western plains I have frequently
seen these phalaropes flying about in trios, consisting of one male and
two females, the male always in the lead, as if pursued. Females
apparently outnumber the males; and, as nest building and incubation are
entirely performed by the male, many of the females must remain
unattached and unable to breed. I have actually seen the male building
the nest and have never been able to flush a female from a set of eggs
or a brood of young.

W. Leon Dawson (1923) writes:

     We have already acknowledged that Mrs. Wilson wears the breeches
     and that she is more inclined to club life than she is to household
     cares. The case is, however, much more serious than we had at first
     suspected. I owe the original intimation of the true state of
     affairs to Mr. A. O. Treganza, the veteran oologist of Salt Lake
     City; and subsequent investigation of my own has abundantly
     confirmed his claims. Mrs. Wilson is a bigamist. Not occasionally,
     and of course not invariably, but very usually she maintains two
     establishments. Now that attention is called to it, we see that our
     notebooks are full of references to female phalaropes seen in
     company with two males. The association can not be accidental, for
     we are in the very midst of the breeding season. The males,
     frightened by our presence in the swamp, and not daring to remain
     longer upon their eggs, have sought the comforting presence of the
     head of their house. The three take counsel together, and it is
     only when the redoubtable lady announces that the way is clear that
     the dutiful cuckolds trail off to their nests. On the 6th and 7th
     of June, 1922, our M. C. O. party of three members gave close
     attention to a swamp in Long Valley, southern Mono County, at an
     altitude of 7,000 feet. We took 11 sets, of four eggs each, of the
     Wilson phalaropes, and we noted a distinct tendency of the nests to
     group themselves in pairs. In only one instance, however, were we
     able to trace clearly a connection between two occupied nests.
     These two, containing heavily incubated eggs, were situated only 42
     feet apart, and the two males who were flushed from them by a
     surprise coup of ours joined themselves immediately to the only
     female who had shown any solicitude concerning this section of the

_Nesting._--The Wilson phalarope is regarded by some egg collectors as
an exasperating bird, because they have some difficulty in finding its
nest. The nest is surprisingly well concealed, often in what seems to be
scanty vegetation; and the eggs are good examples of protective
coloration. I remember once crossing a moist meadow, covered with short
grass which had been mowed the previous season; a male phalarope flushed
from almost under foot, I threw down my hat to mark the spot and started
hunting for the nest. I hunted in vain, until I gave it up and picked up
my hat; there was the nest, with four eggs in it, under the hat and in
plain sight.

In southwestern Saskatchewan in 1905 and 1906, we found some half dozen
or more nests of this species, between June 8 and July 13. The nests
were on the wet or moist meadows about the lakes and sloughs or on
marshy islands; some of the nests were in practically plain sight in
short grass; others were more or less well concealed in longer grass,
which was sometimes arched over them; they were always difficult to find
unless the incubating male was flushed. The nests were merely hollows in
the damp ground, three or four inches in diameter, either scantily or
well lined with dry grass.

Doctor Nelson (1877) gives a very good description of the behavior of
these birds on their nesting grounds, as follows:

     Incubation is attended to by the male alone. The female, however,
     keeps near, and is quick to give the alarm upon the approach of
     danger. The females are frequently found at this time in small
     parties of six or eight; and should their breeding ground be
     approached, exhibit great anxiety, coming from every part of the
     marsh to meet the intruder, and, hovering over his head, utter a
     weak nasal note, which can be heard to only a short distance.

     The movements of the birds usually render it an easy matter to
     decide whether or not they have nests in the immediate vicinity.
     After the first alarm, those having nests at a distance disperse,
     while the others take their course in the form of an ellipse,
     sometimes several hundred yards in length, with the object of their
     suspicion in the center; and, with long strokes of their wings,
     much like the flight of a killdeer, they move back and forth. As
     their nests are approached the length of their flight is gradually
     lessened, until at last they are joined by the males, when the
     whole party hover low over the intruder's head, uttering their
     peculiar note of alarm. At this time they have an ingenious mode of
     misleading the novice, by flying off to a short distance and
     hovering anxiously over a particular spot in the marsh, as though
     there were concealed the objects of their solicitation. Should they
     be followed, however, and a search be there made, the maneuver is
     repeated in another place still farther from the real location of
     the nest. But should this ruse prove unavailing, they return and
     seem to become fairly desperate, flying about one's head almost
     within reach, manifesting great distress.

Aretas A. Saunders writes to me that, in Teton County, Mont., they nest
in small colonies in grassy marshes, where alkaline soil prevents the
grass, mainly species of _Carex_ and _Juncus_, from growing tall.

_Eggs._--The Wilson phalarope almost invariably lays four eggs, rarely
only three. The shapes vary from ovate pyriform to ovate and there is a
slight gloss. The ground colors vary from "cartridge buff" to "cream
buff," rarely "chamois." The ground color is generally well concealed by
numerous markings, more or less evenly distributed. Some eggs are
uniformly covered with small spots and dots, but more often these are
mixed with a few larger, irregular blotches. An occasional handsome set
is boldly and very heavily blotched, sometimes almost concealing the
ground color. The markings are usually in very dark, brownish black or
blackish brown. In some handsome sets these dark markings are mixed with
"bay" and "auburn" markings. The measurements of 57 eggs average 33 by
23.4 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure =36.2= by
23.7, 33 by =25.1=, =30= by 22.5 and 30.5 by =22= millimeters.

_Young._--The period of incubation does not seem to be known. I can find
no evidence that the female ever takes any part in it, but that she does
not lose interest in her family is plainly shown by her demonstrations
of anxiety when the nest is approached; probably she feels responsible
for the faithful performance of his duties by her demure spouse. The
male broods over the newly hatched young, protecting them from rain, or
excessive heat or cold. But they are soon able to run about in a lively
manner and care for themselves. Doctor Nelson (1877) writes that "the
young have a fine, wiry peep, inaudible beyond a few feet." I believe
that the young remain in the grassy meadows, where they can hide in
safety, and do not take to the water until they are fully fledged.

_Plumages._--In its natal down the young Wilson phalarope is entirely
unlike the other phalaropes and quite different from any other young
wader. The slender bill and long slender legs and feet are
characteristic. It is prettily and distinctively colored also. The
prevailing color of the upper parts and of a band across the chest is
"ochraceous buff," deepening on the crown, wings, and mantle almost to
"ochraceous orange," and paling to buffy or grayish white on the belly
and to pure white on the chin and throat. There is a narrow, median,
black line on the crown extending nearly or quite to the bill; this is
continued in a broad, more or less broken, black stripe down the center
of the back to a large black patch on the rump; a black spot on each
side of the crown, one on the occiput and several more on wings, thighs,
and sides of the back, sometimes run together to form stripes.

In fresh juvenal plumage, in July, the feathers of the crown, back,
scapulars, tertials, and all wing coverts are dusky or nearly black,
broadly edged with "light pinkish cinnamon" or "cinnamon buff," broadest
and brightest on the scapulars; the under parts are white, but the
throat, sides of the breast and flanks are washed with "pinkish buff,"
and the last two are mottled with dusky; the central tail feathers are
broadly edged with "pinkish buff," bordered inwardly with a broad dusky
band, surrounding a white area, with a dusky central streak invading it;
the other tail feathers are similarly marked, but less completely

This plumage is worn for only a short time, as the body plumage and tail
are molted during the last half of July and in August. By September
young birds are in first winter plumage, which is like that of the
adult, except that the entire juvenal wing is retained with the buff
edgings faded out to white. The sexes are alike in juvenal and all
winter plumages. A partial prenuptial molt in the spring, involving the
body plumage and most, if not all, of the wing coverts and scapulars,
makes the young bird practically adult.

Adults have a partial prenuptial molt in April and May, involving the
tail, the wing coverts and all the body plumage, which produces the
well-known brilliant plumage of the female and the duller plumage of the
male. The complete postnuptial molt in summer produces the gray winter
plumage in both sexes, in which the crown, back, and scapulars are
"light drab" or "drab-gray," with narrow white edgings, and the upper
tail coverts, as well as the under parts, are white. The sexes can be
recognized in adult winter plumage by size only.

_Food._--The other two species of phalaropes feed mainly on the water,
but the Wilson phalarope is more of a shore bird and obtains most of its
food while walking about on muddy shores or wading in shallow water. It
does, however, adopt the whirling tactics of the others occasionally,
concerning which Mr. Dawson (1923) says:

     Instead of swinging from side to side with a rhythmical motion, as
     do the reds and northerns, the Wilson whirls all the way around.
     Moreover, he keeps on whirling, and though he pauses for the
     fraction of a second to inspect his chances, he goes on and on
     again like an industrious, mad clock. One bird which I had under
     the binoculars turned completely around 247 times in one spot,
     without stopping save for instantaneous dabs at prey. These dabs
     were directed forward or backward, i. e., with or against the
     direction of the body motion. A single gyration normally contains
     two such minute pauses, accompanied by a hitching motion of the
     head; and these are evidently the periods of maximum attention,
     since they are followed by, or rather flow into, the prey stroke,
     if game is sighted. "Game" is not always abundant nor certain, and
     I have seen a bird whirl a dozen times without a single stroke.

The method of feeding on mud flats or in shallow water is well described
by Roland C. Ross (1924), as follows:

     When feeding along the shallows with least, western, and red-backed
     sandpipers, they differed from them not only in size and color, but
     in their habit of steady, energetic walking and the constant "side
     sweeping" with the bill. Occasionally they picked objects from the
     surface with their needle bills, but this was not very actively
     pursued. In deeper water they fed among the northern phalaropes,
     knots, and dowitchers, wading along until they swam in places.
     However, they were able to wade where the northern swam. At such
     depths they feed with the head clear under and the energy of the
     feeding operation was indicated by the motion of the tail. They
     commonly walked steadily back and forth through the deeper sections
     of the ponds, and in such deep places they moved as headless
     bodies, evidently feeding as usual in the surface mud. From the
     vigorous side moves of the tail it would seem they were feeding in
     their usual manner as well; that is, "side sweeping." When the
     birds were standing to feed in the deeper places the tail was again
     much in evidence, and indicated the manner of feeding. This would
     seem to be a probing motion performed with some rapid vibration
     which was communicated to the tail as a series of quivers. It is
     rather a droll sight, and arresting as well, to see a certain area
     marked out by headless gray bodies buried in the water up to the
     bend of the wing, the vibrating tail indicating the vigorous
     operations being carried on down below. It seemed their best
     feeding was in the deeper waters.

The feeding habits of this and the other phalaropes are almost wholly
beneficial. They live very largely on the larvae of mosquitoes. They
also eat crane-fly larvae, which are often very destructive in grass
lands and wheat fields. Predaceous diving beetles, which are a nuisance
in fish hatcheries, are eaten by them. Dr. Alexander Wetmore's (1925)
analysis of the contents of 106 stomachs showed that the food of the
Wilson phalarope is mainly insects, of which various flies made up 43.1
per cent, aquatic bugs 24.4 per cent and beetles 20.1 per cent. The
remainder of the food included brine shrimps, amphipods, eggs of water
fleas, and seeds of various aquatic plants.

_Behavior._--Much of the interesting behavior of the Wilson phalaropes
has been described under different headings above. In all its movements
it is light, airy and graceful. Its flight is much like that of the
lesser yellow legs, with which it is often associated; but, when
suddenly alarmed, it sometimes flies hurriedly away in a zigzag fashion.
On its breeding grounds it often hovers, almost motionless in the air,
as the upland plover sometimes does. It swims lightly and buoyantly, but
apparently does not dive. It walks about on land actively and daintily,
where it is said to resemble the solitary sandpiper. It mingles freely
on its feeding grounds with various other species of shore birds. Toward
the close of the nesting season the females become very gregarious; as
early as June 18, in southern Alberta, we saw them in large flocks,
mixed with lesser yellow legs, flying about the marshy lakes.

_Voice._--The only note I have recorded is a soft, nasal grunt or
subdued quack. Dr. Walter P. Taylor (1912) describes a peculiar nuptial
(?) call note "as _oit_, _oit_, _oit_, somewhat resembling the croak of
a toad during the breeding season. At the instant of utterance of the
note the bird which is calling raises its head somewhat, pauses
momentarily in its flight, and its throat bulges slightly." Mr. Saunders
calls it a low note sounding like _croo_, _croo_, _croo_.

E. S. Cameron (1907) writes:

     The Wilson's phalaropes, both when feeding and when disturbed and
     circling on the wing, constantly uttered a low croaking, which at
     close quarters might be compared to the much louder note of the
     sandhill cranes, or, at a distance, to the faintly heard barking of
     a dog. On the other hand, I have heard them give a shrill and
     totally different call of indecision or satisfaction on their first
     arrival when hovering over a pool.

_Field marks._--The Wilson is larger than the other phalaropes and has a
longer bill, neck, and legs. It can be distinguished from other shore
birds by its needlelike bill and small head and by the absence of white
in its wings. Its spring plumage is, of course, well marked and very
beautiful. John T. Nichols gives me the following field characters:

     Very rare, but apparently regular on the south shore of Long Island
     in southward migration; those that I have known of have all been in
     pale gray and white plumage occurring singly about the marshes in
     flocks of the lesser yellow legs. Little smaller than that species,
     they are to be picked out in a flock of same at once by their much
     paler color. In alighting such a bird may swim on puddles of water
     between the stubble where the others are wading. At short range the
     long, straight, very slender bill and indications of a curved
     "phalarope" mark on the neck, backward and downward from the eye,
     are to be looked for. Large size and long, very slender bill should
     prevent confusion of this with other phalaropes in the field in any

_Fall._--As soon as the young are able to care for themselves the males
join the flocks of females and they all depart on their fall migration
in August. Some individuals wander eastward to the Atlantic coast, but
the main flight is southward along both coasts of Mexico to their winter
home in Argentina, Chile, and Patagonia.


_Range._--North and South America.

_Breeding range._--The breeding range of Wilson's phalarope extends
north to Washington (Bumping Lake); Alberta (Alix, Buffalo Lake, and
Edmonton); Saskatchewan (Osler, Quill Lake, and Indian Head); Manitoba
(Moose Mountain, Brandon, and Shoal Lake); North Dakota (Pembina);
Minnesota (probably Leech Lake); Michigan (St. Clair Flats); and
southern Ontario (Dunnville). East to southern Ontario (Dunnville);
northern Indiana (Lake County); northern Illinois (West Northfield, Fox
River, and Calumet Marshes); and formerly Missouri (Pierce). South to
Indiana (Whiting); Missouri (formerly Pierce); rarely southern Kansas
(Meade County); Colorado (Sterling, Barr, and San Luis Valley);
southwestern Wyoming (Fort Bridger); northern Utah (Salt Lake City);
Nevada (Washoe Lake); and California (Tahoe Lake and Los Banos). West to
California (Los Banos, Lassen County, and Tule Lake); Oregon (Klamath
Lake); and Washington (Conconully and Bumping Lake). It also has been
reported in summer from southern California (Furnace Creek and Tulare
Lake) and from central Mexico (Lerma).

_Winter range._--The winter range of the Wilson phalarope is very
imperfectly known. The few records available come chiefly from South
America, but it also has been reported as wintering in Mexico
(Mayorazgo, Ixtapalapa, and the City of Mexico); rarely southern Texas
(Corpus Christi); and in southern California (Riverside). South American
specimens have been taken or observed at this season in the Falkland
Islands; Patagonia (Chupat); Argentina (Mendoza, Buenos Aires, Tucuman,
Barracas al Sud, and Missiones); Chile (Valdivia); Bolivia (Alto
Paraguay); Peru (Ingapirca); and Brazil (Caicara).

_Spring migration._--Early dates of spring arrival are: Missouri, St.
Louis, April 22, Corning, April 23, Independence, May 1, and
Marionville, May 2; Illinois, Quincy, April 20, Chicago, April 21,
Liter, April 27, Fernwood, May 1, and South Englewood, May 3; Indiana,
Waterloo, April 27, and Kouts, April 30; Michigan, Ann Arbor, April 1,
Detroit, May 1, and Iron Mountain, May 2; Ontario, Toronto, May 25;
Iowa, Emmetsburg, April 24, Gilbert Station, April 27, Marshalltown, May
2, Sioux City, May 5, and Keokuk, May 6; Wisconsin, Delavan, April 26,
North Freedom, April 29, and Whitewater, May 6; Minnesota, Heron Lake,
May 8, Wilder, May 8, Hallock, May 9, and Waseca, May 12; northern
Texas, Gainesville, May 6, and Huntsville, May 7; Kansas, Emporia, April
23, Paola, April 28, Onaga, April 29, and Wichita, April 30; Nebraska,
Dunbar, April 5, Badger, April 18, Callaway, April 19, Lincoln, April
22, and Valentine, May 1; South Dakota, Harrison, April 29, Vermilion,
April 29, Forestburg, May 1, Pitrodie, May 3, and Huron, May 4; North
Dakota, Menoken, May 1, Bismarck, May 3, Charlson, May 4, Antler, May
10, Cando, May 17, and Westhope, May 18; Manitoba, Oak Lake, April 27,
Shoal Lake, May 7, Reaburn, May 16, and Winnipeg, May 22; Saskatchewan,
Indian Head, May 12, Dinsmore, May 13, and Osier, May 19; New Mexico,
Albuquerque, April 20, and Aragon, April 21; Arizona, Tucson, April 12;
Colorado, Denver, April 25, Durango, April 25, Loveland, April 27,
Boulder, May 3, and Salida, May 4; Wyoming, Lake Como, May 6, near
Cokeville, May 7, Yellowstone Park, May 11, and Cheyenne, May 19; Idaho,
Meridian, May 14; Montana, Billings, April 30, Great Falls, May 9, Fort
Keogh, May 10, Big Sandy, May 14, and Terry, May 21; Alberta, Beaverhill
Lake, May 7, Alliance, May 18, Veteran, May 22, and Stony Plain, May 23;
California, Santa Barbara, April 26, Unlucky Lake, April 28, and
Stockton, May 2; Nevada, Steptoe Valley, May 12, Washoe Lake, May 19,
and Quinn River, May 20; and Oregon, Klamath Lake, April 30, Narrows,
May 1, and Lawen, May 20.

_Fall migration._--Late dates of fall departure are: Oregon, Malheur
Lake, September 5; California, Santa Barbara, September 8, and near San
Francisco, September 9; Montana, Milk River, July 21, and Great Falls,
August 15; Utah, Great Salt Lake, September 16; Wyoming, Seven-mile
Lake, September 14, and Yellowstone Park, September 27; Colorado,
Denver, September 12; Arizona, Fort Verde, September 7; Saskatchewan,
Ravine Bank, August 25; North Dakota, Grafton, September 11, and
Westhope, September 24; South Dakota, Forestburg, August 13, Harrison,
September 12, and Sioux Falls, October 14; Nebraska, Badger, August 30,
and Gresham, September 1; Kansas, Emporia, August 31; Texas, Tivoli,
September 14, and Corsicana, September 12; Minnesota, Lanesboro,
September 13; Michigan, Kalamazoo County, September 8; and Ontario, near
Toronto, September 23.

_Casual records._--Although essentially a western species the Wilson
phalarope has many times been detected in eastern localities. Among
these are: Alabama, Bayou la Batre, September 5, 1911; South Carolina,
Sullivans Island, September 7, 1910; North Carolina, near Church Island,
August 25, 1910, and Currituck Light House, September 14, 1911; New
Jersey, Ocean City, May 19, 1898, and Cape May, May 4, 1909; New York,
Mastic, September 21, 1918, and August 23, 1920, Shinnecock, August
20, 1883, and August 15, 1885, Far Rockaway, October 10, 1874, East
River, October 15, 1879, Onondaga Lake, September 2, 1886, Oneida Lake,
October 6, 1883, Ithaca, fall of 1892, Atlanticville, August 15, 1885,
and June 1, 1887, and Bronx Park, September 21, 1924; Connecticut,
Bridgeport (Linsley); Rhode Island, Newport, August 2, 1880, August 20,
1883 and September 13, 1886, Sakonnet, August 24, 1899, and
Quonochontaug, August 28, 1909; Massachusetts, Chatham, October 19,
1888, Nantucket, August 31, 1889, Nahant, May, 1874, Salisbury and
Boston (Townsend); New Hampshire, Rye Beach, August 15, 1872; Maine,
Sabattus Pond, September or October, 1906, and Scarborough, June 9,
1881; and Quebec, Montreal, August, 1869. It also has been taken in
British Columbia, Chilliwack, September 9, 1888, and Osoyoos Lake, May
15, 1922 and May 18, 1922. It has been detected a few times in Lower
California, La Paz (date?), and San Jose del Cabo, one in spring and
another in August, 1887.

_Egg dates._--Saskatchewan and Alberta: 51 records, May 16 to June 24;
26 records, June 5 to 11. Dakotas: 23 records, May 25 to June 22; 12
records, June 3 to 12. Colorado and Utah: 20 records, May 15 to July 10;
10 records, May 25 to June 8. California: 50 records, May 21 to June 22;
25 records, June 2 to 7.

Family RECURVIROSTRIDAE, Avocets and Stilts




Wherever this large, showy bird is found it is always much in evidence.
Its large size and conspicuous colors could hardly be overlooked, even
if it were shy and retiring; but its bold, aggressive manners force it
upon our attention as soon as we approach its haunts. Localities and
conditions best suited to its needs are still to be found in many places
on the great plains and in the interior valleys of the far west. Its
favorite resorts seem to be the shallow, muddy borders of alkaline
lakes, wide open spaces of extensive marshes, where scanty vegetation
gives but little concealment, or broad wet meadows splashed with shallow
pools. If the muddy pools are covered with reeking scum, attracting
myriads of flies, so much the better for feeding purposes. Dry,
sun-baked mud flats or low, gravelly or sandy islands, with scanty
vegetation, furnish the desired nesting conditions. In such open spaces
they can be seen from afar and, long before we reach their haunts, the
avocets are flying out to meet us, advertising the fact that we are
approaching their home, making the air ring with their loud yelping
notes of protest, circling about us and darting down at us in
threatening plunges.

_Courtship._--Prof. Julian S. Huxley (1925), who has made a study of the
European species, says:

     The avocet has no courtship. There are no songs or aerial displays;
     no posturing by the male; no mutual ceremonies; no special
     courtship notes. There is some hostility and fighting; a peculiar
     action by the female which is a symbol of readiness to pair,
     followed by an excited action on the part of the male; and a
     special post-paring action by both birds; but of courtship in any
     accepted sense none whatever.

However that may be, our bird does indulge in actions and posturings
which look very much like courtship. On May 29, 1905, we spent some time
in watching the avocets in a colony on an alkali flat covered with a
sparse growth of short, curly grass, near Hay Lake in southwestern
Saskatchewan. We could not find any nests there at that time and
concluded that the birds had not laid. They were apparently still
conducting their courtships, wading about gracefully in the shallow
water, frequently bowing or crouching down close to the water; sometimes
they danced about with wings widespread, tipping from side to side like
a balancing tight-rope walker; occasionally one, perhaps a female in an
attitude of invitation, would lie prostrate on the ground or water for a
minute or more, with the head and neck extended and wings outstretched.
Frequently they fooled us by squatting down on the ground, as if sitting
on a nest; if we went to investigate, they would run away and repeat the
act elsewhere; perhaps this act carried the suggestion of mating as a
part of the courtship ceremony.

_Nesting._--We found no large breeding colonies in Saskatchewan but
several small ones. The Hay Lake colony referred to above was perhaps
the largest, containing 15 or 20 pairs. The nests, found here on June
15, were merely slight hollows in the sun-baked mud on the broad alkali
flats bordering the shallow lake; they were scattered widely among the
little tufts of short grass which scantily covered the flat; the hollows
measured from 3 to 4 inches in diameter and were lined with a few dry
grasses. Some of the nests were well formed and somewhat elevated.
Although in plain sight, the eggs were not easy to find, as they matched
their surroundings perfectly.

On June 14, 1906, we found an interesting little colony of avocets on an
island in Big Stick Lake, Saskatchewan, which was also occupied by big
colonies of California and ring-billed gulls, common terns, a few
spotted sandpipers, and a few pairs of ducks. The avocets, terns, and
sandpipers were all at one end of the island, a low grassy point; the
ring-billed gulls and ducks were in the central, highest part; and the
California gull colony was at the other end. The avocets' nests, ten or
a dozen of them, were placed in the short grass near the edge of the
beach or on the drift weed lying in windrows on the beach; one nest was
partially under a fallen shrub or bushy weed. The nests were made of
grasses, weed stems, straws and small sticks, with sometimes a few
feathers, loosely arranged around small hollows, from 5 to 7 inches in
diameter. Two of the nests held five eggs, the others three or four.

Robert B. Rockwell (1912) found an interesting colony of avocets on an
island in Barr Lake, Colo., of which he says:

     The nests were all located in very similar locations, among a young
     growth of cockle burrs not over six inches in height and which had
     probably grown at least half of that since the eggs were laid. The
     cockle burrs formed a belt about 10 yards wide clear around the
     island just below the dense blue-stem and other rank grass with
     which the Island was covered and on ground that was under water
     during the high water of the spring although inundated for a short
     time only. Two of the nests were very crude affairs, being a mere
     shallow hollow in the sand with a very few dead weed stalks of
     short lengths arranged around the eggs. The other was constructed
     in the same manner, but was quite well lined with weed stems, so
     that the eggs did not touch the ground. There was no evident
     attempt at concealment, the nests all being placed in small open
     spaces from six inches to a foot in diameter, and with nothing to
     protect them; but the color of the eggs was sufficient protection
     to make them quite inconspicuous.

Dr. Alexander Wetmore (1925) writes:

     The sites chosen often are subject to inundation by sudden floods,
     when the birds scurry about, seemingly in confusion, but in reality
     working actively to build up the nest in order to support the eggs
     above the level of the encroaching water. In some cases it may be
     necessary to erect a structure 12 or 15 inches in height. Weeds,
     small sticks, bones, or dried bodies of ducks or other birds,
     feathers, or any other materials available are utilized as building

_Eggs._--The American avocet lays three or four eggs, usually four and
occasionally five. Numerous nests have been found containing seven or
eight eggs, but these are probably products of two females. Edwin
Beaupré writes to me that, in a colony of five pairs found by him on an
island in a small lake in southern Alberta, the five pairs were
occupying three nests; one contained eight eggs, another seven and the
third four. The eggs vary in shape from ovate (rarely) to ovate pyriform
and they are usually much elongated. The shell is smooth, but not
glossy. The ground color varies from "Isabella color" to "deep olive
buff." This is more or less evenly covered with irregular spots and
blotches, in various sizes, of brownish black, blackish brown, or black,
rarely "warm sepia" or "bister"; there are occasionally a few blackish
scrawls, and numerous underlying spots of various shades of drab. The
measurements of 55 eggs average 49.8 by 34 millimeters; the eggs showing
the four extremes measure =56.3= by 34.6, 51.5 by =36.6=, =43.2= by 33.4
and 47 by =31= millimeters.

_Young._--The period of incubation of the American bird has apparently
not been determined, but that of the European bird is said to be 28
days. I have no data as to how the sexes incubate. Young avocets are
very precocial and leave the nest soon after hatching. They are expert
at hiding, even on the open flats and beaches; and they take to the
water at an early age, where they can swim and dive like young ducks. I
have seen a brood of four young, that could not have been hatched more
than a few hours, swimming out in a lake, as if very much at ease. They
soon learn to tip up in shallow water and probe on the bottom, like
their parents, for their insect food.

_Plumages._--The downy young avocet is well colored for concealment on
an open beach or alkaline flat. The colors of the upper parts are
"cinnamon buff," "cream buff," and buffy grays, lightest on the crown
and darkest on the rump; there is a distinct but narrow loral stripe of
black; the crown is indistinctly spotted with dusky. Two parallel
stripes of brownish black distinctly mark the scapulars and two more the
sides of the rump; the wings, back, rump, and thighs are less distinctly
spotted or peppered with gray and dusky. The under parts are buffy
white, nearly pure white on the throat and belly.

In fresh juvenal plumage the crown is "light drab" with "pinkish buff"
tips; the sides and back of the neck are deep, rich "cinnamon," deeper
and richer than in the adult, shading off, on the upper back, throat,
and upper breast, to a suffusion of "pinkish buff"; the chin and belly
are white; the color pattern of the upper parts is similar to that of
the adult, except that the dark feathers of the back, scapulars, and
tertials are tipped with "pinkish buff"; and the greater and median wing
coverts are narrowly so tipped.

This plumage is worn through the summer and fall without much change
except by extensive fading and some wear. The cinnamon has nearly
disappeared in September birds and all the buff edgings have faded or
worn away. A body molt takes place in late winter or early spring which
produces a first nuptial plumage much like the adult. Young birds can,
however, be recognized by the worn primaries and by some of the juvenal
scapulars and wing coverts. The first postnuptial molt, the following
summer, is complete and produces the adult winter plumage.

Adults have a complete postnuptial molt, beginning in August, and a
partial prenuptial molt, beginning in January, which involves the body
plumage and some of the scapulars and wing coverts. The "cinnamon"
colors of the head and neck are characteristic of the nuptial plumage
and are replaced by pale gray in winter adults.

_Food._--The feeding habits of the avocet are rather peculiar, as might
be expected of a bird with such a peculiar bill. The bill is not so
sharply upturned in life, as it is in some stuffed specimens and in some
drawings. Dr. Frank M. Chapman (1891) has explained it very well, as

     The use of the avocet's recurved bill is clearly explained by the
     manner in which the bird procures its food. In feeding they wade
     into the water and drop the bill below the surface until the
     convexity of the maxilla probably touches the bottom. In this
     position they move forward at a half run and with every step the
     bill is swung from side to side sweeping through an arc of about
     50° in search of shells and other small aquatic animals. The
     mandibles are slightly opened, and at times the birds pause to
     swallow their prey. It is evident that birds with a straight or a
     downward curved bill could not adopt this method of feeding.

Audubon (1840) describes it, as follows:

     They search for food precisely in the manner of the roseate
     spoonbill, moving their heads to and fro sideways, while their bill
     is passing through the soft mud; and in many instances, when the
     water was deeper, they would immerse their whole head and a portion
     of the neck, as the spoonbill and red-breasted snipe are wont to
     do. When, on the contrary, they pursued aquatic insects, such as
     swim on the surface, they ran after them, and on getting up to
     them, suddenly seized them by thrusting the lower mandible beneath
     them, while the other was raised a good way above the surface, much
     in the manner of the black shear water, which, however, performs
     this act on wing. They were also expert at catching flying insects,
     after which they ran with partially expanded wings.

Doctor Wetmore (1925) found that, in 67 stomachs examined, animal food
amounted to 65.1 per cent and vegetable food 34.9 per cent. Among the
animal food were found phyllopods, dragonfly nymphs, back swimmers,
water boatmen, various beetles and flies and their larvae. The vegetable
matter consisted largely of seeds of marsh or aquatic plants. He says

     Flocks of the birds search for food scattered about in shallow
     water, and do not hesitate to swim when necessary in crossing the
     deeper channels. Frequently a dozen or more feed in company,
     walking slowly along, shoulder to shoulder, as though in drill
     formation, at each forward step thrusting the head under water and
     sweeping the recurved bill along the bottom with a scythelike swing
     that must arouse consternation among water boatmen and other
     aquatic denizens of the bays and ponds. At times the writer has
     observed as many as 300 of these handsome birds feeding thus in a
     single company, a scene at once spirited and striking. As the birds
     feed much of the time by immersing the head, anything that may
     touch the bill is gathered indiscriminately, as in feeding they
     depend upon the sense of touch. From their manner of feeding,
     avocets are often scavengers, taking living or recently dead prey
     without much choice. The large tapeworms found almost without fail
     in the duodenum of the avocet are transmitted from one bird to
     another in this manner. The cast-off terminal segments of the worms
     (bearing the eggs) are picked up and swallowed by other avocets, a
     proceeding which the writer has personally observed. Avocets also
     pick up matter floating in the water, on or near the surface, or
     take insects and seeds from mud bars. The insects may be those
     living in such localities or may be individuals that have been
     washed up in drift.

Other observers have reported avocets as feeding on grasshoppers,
predaceous diving beetles, crickets, centipedes, weevils, small snails,
sea slugs, small crustaceans, and even small fishes.

_Behavior._--Avocets are at all times tame and unsuspicious, very
solicitous and aggressive on their breeding grounds, quiet and
indifferent at other times, showing only mild curiosity. Their
demonstrations of anxiety on their nesting grounds, particularly if they
have young, are amusing and ludicrous. Utterly regardless of their own
safety, they meet the intruder more than half way and stay with him till
he leaves. W. Leon Dawson (1909) has described it very graphically, as

     The mother bird had flushed at a hundred yards, but seeing our
     position she flew toward us and dropped into the water some 50 feet
     away. Here she lifted a black wing in simulation of maimed
     stiffness, and flopped and floundered away with the aid of the
     other one. Seeing that the ruse failed, she ventured nearer and
     repeated the experiment, lifting now one wing and now both in token
     of utter helplessness. After a while the male joined her, and we
     had the painful spectacle of a crippled family, whose members were
     uttering most doleful cries of distress, necessitated apparently by
     their numerous aches and breaks. Once, for experiment's sake, we
     followed, and the waders flopped along in manifest delight coaxing
     us up on shore and making off through the sagebrush with broken
     legs and useless wings. But we came back, finding it better to let
     the birds make the advances. The birds were driven to the very
     limit of frenzy, dancing, wing trailing, swaying, going through
     last convulsions and beginning over again without regard to logical
     sequence, all in an agony of effort to divert attention from those
     precious eggs. As time elapsed, however, the color of the play
     changed. Finding that the appeal of cupidity was of no avail, the
     birds appeared to fall back upon the appeal to pity. Decoying was
     useless, that was plain; so they stood with upraised wings,
     quivering and moaning, in tenderest supplication. It was too much
     even for conscious rectitude and we withdrew abashed.

The flight of the avocet is strong, direct and rather swift, much like
that of the greater yellow legs, with neck and legs fully extended, fore
and aft. It can alight on or rise from the surface of the water with
ease. On alighting its long, black and white wings are raised above its
back, and slowly folded, as it settles itself with a nodding motion of
the head, stands still and looks about it for a moment or two. No bird
is better equipped for the amphibious existence that it leads; its long
legs and webbed feet enable it to wade through soft muddy shallows of
varying depths; and if it suddenly steps beyond its depth it swims as
naturally as a duck until it strikes bottom again; the thick plumage of
its under parts protects it and marks it as an habitual swimmer. It
often feeds while swimming by tipping up like a surface-feeding duck and
reaching down into the water with its long neck and bill. It can even
dive when necessary.

Dr. Walter P. Taylor (1912) says that avocets "share with most other
birds a dislike of owls. Three were seen pursuing a _Speotyto_ over a
wild hay meadow."

Dr. T. Gilbert Pearson (1916) noted an interesting flight maneuver:

     Only a few weeks ago I was impressed anew with the beauty of these
     birds. While passing down the valley of Crane Creek, in
     southeastern Oregon, a flock of about 50 avocets arose and indulged
     in a series of evolutions which even the most casual observer would
     have paused to watch. In a fairly compact company they flew away
     for a short distance, then turned, and, after coming back almost to
     the starting point, dived toward the earth, arose again perhaps 50
     yards in the air, then swung around and came back. These maneuvers
     were repeated at least three times. Their white and black plumage,
     flashing against the gray sagebrush of the desert mountain side,
     and sharply relieved as they skimmed over the alkaline creek, made
     a picture long to be remembered.

Charles E. H. Aiken (1914)

     witnessed a curious performance of avocets in Utah. In September,
     1893, he visited the mouth of Bear River where hundreds of acres of
     mud flats and shallow water offer an attractive resort for various
     water fowl. In a submerged grove where patches of mud appeared
     above the water hundreds of avocets were congregated. One little
     mud island that differed from others in that it was quite round
     seemed to have a fascination for the birds, and they were packed
     together upon it in a mass which covered the island to the water's
     edge. As the island was about 12 feet in circumference the number
     of birds probably approximated 150. This mass of birds continued to
     revolve about from left to right, and being so crowded the movement
     was rather slow and their steps short and measured, so that the
     impression was that they were all marking time in the marching.
     Birds on the rim of the circle avoided walking off in the water and
     crowded inward against the mass. Every moment or two birds would
     leave the milling body and fly to a neighboring mud island, and as
     many from near-by would fly to take their places and join the
     dance. Aiken advanced quietly to within 20 yards and viewed them
     for half an hour, but they continued undisturbed by his presence
     and he left them so. It appeared to be a diversion of the birds.

John G. Tyler contributes the following:

     The avocet is evidently possessed of a very keen sense of hearing.
     On May 21, 1921, I discovered three or four pairs in an overflowed
     pasture not far from Fresno. Driving my car up to within about 100
     feet of them I allowed my engine to die and sat perfectly
     motionless. In about 15 minutes the birds had become thoroughly
     accustomed to my presence and one bird finally took up a position
     on a small levee, tucked its bill under the feathers of its back,
     closed its eyes, and after raising the right leg and drawing it up
     close to the body, stood absolutely motionless and apparently
     asleep for several minutes. It was very much awake, however, for
     when I whistled softly through my teeth, making a rather squeaking
     noise, it immediately straightened up, opened its eyes, and gazed
     about in apparent astonishment. As I remained motionless the bird
     soon settled down and in the course of the next few moments I
     repeated the same experiment always with the same results. So long
     as one remains seated in the automobile and makes no noticeable
     movement it is possible to make close observation of these and
     several other species of shore birds, but the slightest movement or
     an attempt to get out of the car sends them away in the wildest

_Voice._--The avocet's vocabulary is not so elaborate as it is
impressive. The commonest note, heard on the breeding grounds as a note
of alarm or protest, is a loud, shrill whistle or yelping scream, which
I have recorded in my notes as _wheat, wheat, wheat_. Others have
recorded it as _plee-eek, plee-eek_, or _click, click, click_. It is
always sharp and vehement, implying anger. I have also heard a softer
note, uttered in a conversational tone, like _whick, whick, whick_, or
_whuck, whuck, whuck_.

Aretas A. Saunders contributes the following notes:

     About the nest colony the adults flew closely about my head,
     calling a short staccato call that sounded like _pink, pink, pink_.
     One bird pretended wounded in a different manner from what I have
     seen it done by other species. The bird sat on the water, dropped
     its head and neck down to the surface, half spread its wings, also
     dropping them on the water, and, lying almost still, called _oo-oo,
     oo-oo, oo-oo_, over and over, as though suffering great pain. The
     voice was low and not very loud, and not at all like the _pink,
     pink_ of the other birds.

_Field marks._--The avocet, in its striking color pattern of black and
white, could not be mistaken for anything else. A white tail, a black V
on a white back, black wings with white secondaries and blue legs are
all distinctive marks; the buff head and neck are nuptial adornments; in
fall and winter these parts are grayish white. From the stilt it can be
distinguished by its much stockier build, the absence of black on head
and neck and by blue instead of pink legs.

_Game._--Although it is a large, plump bird and would help to fill a
game bag, there is no excuse for treating it as a game bird. It is so
tame and so foolishly inquisitive that it would offer poor sport and
would soon be exterminated. Furthermore its flesh is said to be
worthless for the table. But above all, it is such a showy, handsome and
interesting bird, that it ought to be preserved for future generations
to enjoy. The destruction of its breeding grounds will exterminate it
soon enough, as it has already been extirpated from its former range in
the Eastern States.


_Range._--North America to northern Central America.

_Breeding range._--The breeding range of the avocet extends north to
Washington (Moses Lake and probably Walla Walla); northern Idaho (Pend
Oreille); Alberta (Red Deer, Buffalo Lake, and Flagstaff); Saskatchewan
(Osler, Quill Lake, and Touchwood Hills); North Dakota (Kenmare and
Cando); Minnesota (Brown's Valley, Traverse County); and Wisconsin
(Green Bay). East to Wisconsin (Green Bay); western Iowa (Sioux City);
central Kansas (Larned and Dodge); and rarely to southern Texas (Corpus
Christi and Isabel). South rarely to southern Texas (Isabel and
Brownsville); New Mexico (Chloride); northern Utah (Salt Lake City);
Nevada (Ruby Valley and probably Cloverdale); and southern California
(Little Owens Lake, Kerrville, and Santa Ana). West to California (Santa
Ana, Santa Cruz Island, Buena Vista Lake, Tulare Lake, Los Banos,
Stockton, Amedee, Tule Lake, and Brownell); Oregon (Adel, Plush, Sumner
Lake, and Christmas Lake); and Washington (Moses Lake). It has been
recorded in summer north to British Columbia (Okanagan Landing);
Manitoba (Brandon); and New York (Ithaca); while there also is an old
breeding record for Egg Harbor, New Jersey.

_Winter range._--North to Carolina (Novato and Stockton); and Texas
(Houston). East to Texas (Houston, Corpus Christi, and Brownsville);
Tamaulipas (Matamoros); and Guatemala (Chiapam). South to Guatemala
(Chiapam); and Sinaloa (Escuinapa). West to Sinaloa (Escuinapa and
Mazatlan); Lower California (San Jose del Cabo and La Paz); and
California (San Diego, Morro Bay, San Francisco, and Novato.)

_Spring migration._--Early dates of arrival are: Nebraska, Whitman,
April 13, Long Pine, April 27, Alda, May 2, and Lincoln, May 5; South
Dakota, Pitrodie, April 28, Huron, May 6, and Aberdeen, May 15; North
Dakota, Marstonmoor, April 28; Manitoba, Margaret, May 5; Saskatchewan,
Fort Carlston, May 4, and Dinsmore, May 9; Arizona, Ehrenburg, February
12, and Tucson, April 21; New Mexico, Albuquerque, April 14; Colorado,
Loveland, April 9; and Denver, April 25; Utah, Salt Lake City, April 27;
Wyoming, Huttons Lake, April 21, Lake Como, April 22, and Cheyenne,
April 24; Idaho, Deer Flat, February 15, and Rupert, April 26; Montana,
Great Falls, April 18, Fort Custer, April 26, Terry, May 1, Billings,
May 3, and Big Sandy, May 18; Alberta, Beaverhill Lake, April 28, and
Flagstaff, May 14; Nevada, Ash Meadows, March 15; Oregon, Klamath Falls,
March 26, Narrows, April 11, Malheur Lake, April 17, and Lawen, April
19. Avocets have been noted at Lake Palomas, Chihuahua, on April 7, and
at Gardner's Laguna, Lower California, on April 22.

_Fall migration._--Late dates of departure are: Oregon, Forest Grove,
September 28, Malheur Lake, October 26, and Klamath Lake, November 6;
Alberta, Veteran, September 8; Montana, Fort Custer, September 9, and
Great Falls, October 2; Idaho, Rupert, October 21; Wyoming, Fort
Bridger, October 10; Utah, Provo, November 26; Colorado, Denver, October
3, and Mosca, October 20; New Mexico, Glenrio, October 11, Las Palomas,
October 12, and Mesilla Park, November 9; Manitoba, Margaret, September
15; South Dakota, Harrison, October 28; Wisconsin, Waupaca County,
October 21; Nebraska, Gresham, September 10, Long Pine, October 9, and
Lincoln, October 27; and Kansas, Emporia, August 25. The arrival of
avocets in the fall has been noted in the Valley of Mexico in August and

_Casual records._--The avocet has on a number of occasions been reported
or taken at points far outside of its normal range. Some of these
records are: Cuba, once in the market at Havana and at Cardenas in
August; Jamaica, reported in winter; Barbados, one in the fall of 1880
and again on October 1, 1888; Florida, one killed at Palm Beach Inlet in
1916; Georgia, St. Marys, October 8, 1903; North Carolina, six noted at
Fort Macon on September 12, 1870; Virginia, two taken at Wallops Island
in September, 1925; New Jersey, Barnegat, May 30, 1880; New York,
Ponquoque, one in 1844, Carnarsie Bay, one in 1847, Long Beach, May 20,
1877, near Tuckerton, last of August, 1886, Renwick, September 16, 1909,
and Ithaca, September 16, 1909; Connecticut, near Saybrook, 1871;
Massachusetts, three at Ipswich Neck, September 13, 1896, Lake
Cochituate, October 19, 1880, Natick, October 29, 1880, and Salisbury,
May 23, 1887; Vermont, St. Albans, fall of 1875; Maine, Cape Elizabeth,
November 5, 1878, and Calais, spring of 1862; New Brunswick, Quaco, in
1880; Louisiana, New Orleans, November 12, 1889, and November 7, 1819,
Derniere Island, April 16, 1837, and Johnsons Bayou, November 26, 1882;
Arkansas, a specimen was taken some time previous to 1847; Missouri, St.
Louis, October 28, 1878, and Stotesbury, April 8, 1894; Illinois, St.
Clair County, October 28, 1878, and two at Chicago, May 5, 1889;
Indiana, one was taken at Calumet Lake; Ohio, St. Marys Reservoir,
November 10, 1882, Oberlin, November 4, 1907, and March 16 to 21, 1907,
Sandusky, May 24, 1914, and near Columbus, November 10, 1882; Michigan,
St. Clair Flats, in 1874; Ontario, Toronto, last of May, 1881 and
September 19, 1901; Mackenzie, Birch Lake, July 15, 1910, and Fort Rae;
British Columbia, Okanagan, April 28, 1908, and mouth of the Fraser
River, October 20, 1915. Avocets also have been reported from Greenland,
but the records lack confirmation.

_Egg dates._--Saskatchewan: 27 records, May 18 to June 16; 14 records,
May 29 to June 14. Utah: 52 records, April 10 to June 15; 26 records,
May 6 to 16. California: 35 records, April 22 to June 25; 18 records,
May 5 to 29.




Although I first met the black-necked stilt in the Florida Keys in 1903,
it was not until I visited the irrigated regions of the San Joaquin
Valley in California in 1914, that I saw this curious bird living in
abundance and flourishing in most congenial surroundings. It was a
pleasant change from the cool, damp air of the coast region to the
clear, dry warmth of this highly cultivated valley. The naturally arid
plains between the distant mountain ranges had been transformed by
irrigation into fertile fields of alfalfa and wheat, vast areas had been
flooded with water from the melting snows of the Sierras, forming
grazing lands for herds of cattle and endless marshes, wet meadows,
ponds and creeks, for various species of water birds. As W. Leon Dawson
(1923) puts it:

     The magic touch of water following its expected channels quickens
     an otherwise barren plain into a paradise of avian activities.
     Ducks of six or seven species frequent the deeper channels; coots
     and gallinules and pied-billed grebes crowd the sedgy margins of
     the ponds; herons, bitterns, ibises, and egrets, seven species of
     _Herodiones_, all told, occupy the reedy depths of the larger ponds
     or deploy over the grassy levels. Rails creak and titter, red wings
     clink, yellow-headed blackbirds gurgle, wrangle, and screech; while
     the marsh wrens, familiar spirits of the maze, sputter and chuckle
     over their quaint basketry. The tricolored blackbirds, also in
     great silent companies recruited from a hundred acres, charge into
     their nesting covert with a din of uncanny preoccupation. Over the
     open ponds black terns hover, and Forster terns flit with languid
     ease. The killdeer is not forgotten, nor the burrowing owl, whose
     home is in the higher knolls; but over all and above all and
     through all comes the clamor of the black-necked stilt and the
     American avocet.

Of all these birds, the stilts were the most conspicuous in the wet
meadows about Los Banos, where they were always noisy and aggressive. I
have never seen them so abundant elsewhere, though I have seen them in
similar situations in Florida and Texas, on extensive wet meadows where
shallow water fills the hollows between myriads of little muddy islets
and tufts of grass. Here they can wade about and feed in the water or
build their nests on the hummocks above high-water mark, and here their
young can hide successfully among the grassy tufts.

_Nesting._--My first glimpse of a black-necked stilt was a complete
surprise, and my first nest was in an unexpected situation. On May 8,
1903, we landed on Lake Key, in the Florida Keys, a low flat, open
island with sandy shores and a lake in the middle of it. We walked
across the beach, through a narrow strip of low red mangrove bushes and
came to a little muddy pond, very shallow and dotted with little
mangrove seedlings. Here we were delighted to see about half a dozen
black-necked stilts, long slender birds, very striking in appearance and
actions, the jet black wings contrasting finely with the pure white
under parts and the long pink legs trailing behind. They seemed so much
concerned, so unwilling to leave, and kept up such an incessant racket,
that we felt sure that they were nesting there. A short search soon
revealed two of their nests, both very conspicuously placed. The first
nest, containing four quite heavily incubated eggs, was very prettily
located under a little red mangrove root, just as it entered the ground;
a hollow had been scraped in the sand and profusely lined with small
bits of shell and pieces of dry sticks. The second nest was in plain
sight on the open beach of finely broken shell in a small colony of
least terns' nests, the three dark-colored eggs showing up very
conspicuously on the white sand. The nest cavity measured six inches
outside and four inches inside and was lined with pieces of shell,
sticks, and fish bones, an odd and uncomfortable bed for the young.
Besides the least terns, Wilson plovers were nesting close by, rather an
unusual association for the marsh-loving stilts.

Gilbert R. Rossignol writes to me of a colony of some 23 nests that he
found in a somewhat similar location on an island in Lake Kissimmee,
Florida, on April 14, 1908. "The nests were all built high upon the
gravelly beach and were lined with bits of fresh-water snails." This
colony was wiped out later by a rise of water in the lake.

Herbert W. Brandt has sent me some notes on this species as he found it
breeding in Kleberg County, Texas, on May 28, 1919. He found seven nests
in a colony of about ten pairs on "a watery, marshy meadow covering
about a square mile, the water being 6 to 12 inches deep." He describes
one of the nests as "composed of sticks made up into a floating
platform, about four inches high and well made. The lining was small
sticks and the top basin shallow and nicely made. The water, exceedingly
high from recent rains, was up to the eggs, so that the nest was wet." I
saw a similar colony near Brownsville, Tex.

Near Los Banos, California, stilts were nesting all over the flooded
meadows, on little hummocks, on the muddy islands, and along the margins
of ponds. On the drier shores and banks the nests were very simple
structures, hollows in the ground, lined with small twigs, weed stems,
and grasses; but in the wet places, where they were liable to be
flooded, they were quite elaborately elevated to considerable heights.
Mr. Dawson (1923) writes:

     It is when the water rises that the birds rise to the occasion, and
     get busy with nest building. Sedges, sticks, water plants with
     clinging soil, anything movable, is seized and forced under the
     threatened eggs. Indeed, so apprehensive is the bird of the growing
     necessity, that as often as she leaves the nest she will seize
     loose material and fling it over her shoulder for future use. The
     eggs themselves, protectively colored in bister and black, are
     mauled about and soiled in the mud; but the day is saved. I have
     seen a stilt, painfully conscious no doubt, squatted on a truncated
     cone of vegetation 8 inches in height and as broad across the top,
     a veritable Noah's ark of safety.

John G. Tyler (1913) says:

     Nesting colonies of these waders in the Fresno district are never
     very large, consisting of from 6 to 20 pairs, as a rule, the most
     extensive one of which I have any knowledge containing an average
     of about 30 pairs each season. Possibly the numerous small ponds
     will not support a great many birds, and as suitable pastures
     abound in certain sections it is not a difficult matter for all the
     birds to be accommodated without any crowding. As these nesting
     colonies of stilts are invariably in pastures with cattle tramping
     everywhere over the fields, it seems almost a miracle that any of
     the eggs escape being destroyed; and yet I have not one iota of
     positive proof of such a disaster ever overtaking a stilt's nest,
     while in many instances I have known the eggs to hatch safely
     almost under the feet of stock. It is known that few animals will
     purposely step on any living object of a size large enough to be
     noticed, and the writer is convinced that a stilt simply remains on
     her nest and by her vociferousness and possibly even with a few
     vigorous thrusts of her long bill causes a grazing cow to direct
     her course away from the nest. A lack of judgment causes many nests
     to be abandoned each year, and a colony of stilts that are not able
     to distinguish between a permanent pond and one that has been
     caused by irrigation is liable to find that by the time sets of
     eggs are complete the water has disappeared and a new nesting site
     must be chosen. Fortunately the larger colonies always seem to be
     located near the permanent ponds, but there are numerous scattering
     pairs that are deceived each summer.

     I have often been surprised at the great diversity of nesting
     sites, even in the same colony, it being not an unusual occurrence
     to find nests entirely surrounded by water--little islands of mud
     and sticks often built up out of water several inches deep. Not
     less common are the platforms of dried grass placed just at the
     water's edge, or the slight excavations that, killdeerlike, are
     placed on the bare ground a hundred yards or more from the nearest
     water. In one colony the majority of the nests were built on a
     levee that extended through the pond and were so near the waters
     edge that, although most of the nests were quite elaborate
     platforms of dry grass and twigs, the lower parts of the eggs were
     wet. Undoubtedly a high wind would have caused the wavelets to
     break over the levee. At this same place there were several nests
     far out on the open dry ground without even a spear of grass for
     concealment or protection, and with hardly a vestige of nesting
     material under the eggs. At one pond where two pairs had taken up
     summer quarters there was one nest on the bare black ground where
     the white breast of the sitting female was the most conspicuous
     object imaginable and could be seen at a glance from a distance of
     three or four hundred feet. In direct contrast was the other nest;
     for it was artfully hidden among rather rank salt grass some
     distance from the pond, and when the sitting bird flattened
     herself upon it, as is the custom of this species when endeavoring
     to escape observation, she might have readily been overlooked from
     any near-by point.

     The actions of different pairs of stilts when their nesting
     colonies are invaded are also variable. Sometimes a flock of noisy
     screeching birds will press close about the intruder, some hanging
     in the air on rapidly beating wings, others bouncing along the
     ground by leaps and bounds, raising and lowering their wings
     continually; while others go through every conceivable motion both
     on the ground and in the air. It seems that the larger the colony
     the more demonstrative the birds are; for in several instances
     where only one or two pairs were breeding the female would sneak
     from the nest in a guilty manner and quietly join her mate on the
     opposite side of the pond, where they would remain almost
     motionless or feed nervously along the margin of the pond.

_Eggs._--Four eggs are usually laid by the black-necked stilt, sometimes
five, rarely seven, and occasionally only three. The shape is ovate,
often somewhat pointed, and there is little, if any, gloss. The ground
color is dull "honey yellow," with an olivaceous tinge, or "cream buff."
The eggs are irregularly spotted or covered with small blotches of
brownish black or black. Sometimes there are a few blackish scrawls and
usually a few underlying small spots of drab. They are often stained
with mud. The measurements of 75 eggs, in the United States National
Museum, average 44 by 30.5 millimeters; the eggs showing the four
extremes measure =48= by 30, 47 by =32=, =40.5= by 30, and 46 by =28=

_Young._--Incubation is shared by both sexes, but we have no accurate
information as to its duration. Mr. Dawson (1923) says:

     The infant can make shift to shuffle away from the nest and into
     cover within the hour, if need be, but he can not negotiate his
     stilts until several hours have elapsed after hatching; and he
     feels decidedly pale and tottery, like a young colt, until the day

Dr. Frank M. Chapman (1908) writes:

     On May 23, their eggs were hatching, and in June the snipelike
     young were widely distributed over the marsh. They invariably
     attempted to escape observation by squatting with neck
     outstretched, but the parents, whether one approached their eggs or
     young, expressed their solicitude by a surprising extravagance of
     motion, all apparently designed to draw attention to themselves. I
     was at times surrounded by hopping, fluttering stilts, all calling
     loudly, waving their wings, bounding into the air to hang there
     with dangling legs and beating pinions, and executing other feats
     which would have done credit to acrobatic marionettes.

Dr. Alexander Wetmore (1925) says:

     The young grow rapidly, and the increase in the length of their
     legs is amazing. Until the bones are well formed the young, when
     not feeding, prefer to rest with the full length of the tarsus
     extended on the ground, but even then appear as tall as other shore
     birds of similar body size. Stilts show considerable attachment for
     their young, and, unless dispersed by some untoward accident,
     frequently remain in family groups long after the young are able to
     care for themselves. As the latter become strong on the wing the
     family parties range over the country in search of suitable feeding
     grounds. As the nights grow cold in the North the birds band
     together in larger flocks and finally on some moonlit night in
     September, young and old may be heard calling as they pass overhead
     on their southward migration.

_Plumages._--Robert Ridgway (1919) describes the downy young stilt as

     Upper parts light buffy grayish mottled with dusky, the back and
     rump with several large blotches of black; head, neck, and under
     parts buffy whitish or brownish white, the crown, occiput, and hind
     neck grayish, the crown with a mesial streak of black, the occiput
     with several irregular spots of the same.

The juvenal plumage appears first on the scapulars, back and breast; and
the tail is the last to appear. The young bird is fully feathered,
except the tail, by the time it is two-thirds grown. In fresh juvenal
plumage the color pattern is much like that of the adult female; the
crown, hind neck, back and wings are brownish black, all the feathers
being edged or tipped with "cinnamon"; the edgings are narrowest on the
head, upper back and wing coverts, and broadest on the scapulars and
tertials; the face, sides of the head and all under parts are white; the
central tail feathers are dusky and the others are white, washed with
dusky near the tip, and all tipped with pinkish buff. This plumage is
worn all through the fall and winter, with no change except by wear and
fading; before winter the edgings have largely disappeared.

A partial prenuptial molt of the body plumage occurs in early spring,
when young birds become indistinguishable from adults, except for some
retained juvenal wing coverts. Adults probably have a partial prenuptial
molt in early spring and a complete postnuptial molt in late summer, but
there are no well marked seasonal differences in plumage.

_Food._--Doctor Wetmore (1925) writes:

     Stilts feed by picking up insects on muddy shores or in shallow
     water, and though not averse to frequenting alkaline areas, on the
     whole prefer fresher water than do avocets. For detailed analysis,
     80 stomachs of the black-necked stilt were available, distributed
     from March to August, and collected in California, Utah, Florida,
     and Porto Rico. Vegetable food in these amounted to only 1.1 per
     cent, whereas the animal matter formed 98.9 per cent. The birds are
     adept in seizing rapidly moving prey and in general are very
     methodical in their manner of obtaining food. Gravel is picked up
     to some extent to aid digestion, and part of the seeds taken may
     have been swallowed for the same purpose.

The animal food consisted mainly of insects, aquatic bugs and beetles
making up the largest items; dragonfly nymphs, caddisflies, mayfly
nymphs, flies, billbugs, mosquito larvae, and grasshoppers were
included. Crawfishes, snails, and a few tiny fishes were eaten. The
vegetable food consisted mainly of a few seeds of aquatic and marsh

_Behavior._--The flight of the stilt is steady and direct, but not
particularly swift; the bill is held straight out in front and the legs
are extended backwards, giving the bird a long, slim appearance. Over
their eggs or young, stilts sometimes hover on steadily beating wings
with dangling legs. In their excitement they sometimes climb up into the
air and make startling dives.

But stilts are essentially waders; for wading they are highly
specialized, and here they show to best advantage. At times they seem a
bit wabbly on their absurdly long and slender legs, notably when
trembling with excitement over the invasion of their breeding grounds.
But really they are expert in the use of these well-adapted limbs, and
one can not help admiring the skillful and graceful way in which they
wade about in water breast deep, as well as on dry land, in search of
their insect prey. The legs are much bent at each step, the foot is
carefully raised and gently but firmly planted again at each long
stride. The legs are so long that when the bird is feeding on land it is
necessary to bend the legs backward to enable the bill to reach the

Stilts can swim and even dive if necessary, but they are very awkward at
both, as might be expected with such long legs and the absence of webbed
feet; they never indulge in either action except in cases of dire
necessity. They are usually gentle and unsuspicious birds, much more
easily approached than most large waders. On their breeding grounds they
are especially fearless and demonstrative. Some of their amusing antics
are well described by Mr. Dawson (1923) as follows:

     While all are shouting lustily, the birds whose nests are more
     immediately threatened are doing decoy stunts of several
     fascinating sorts. The favorite line of effort is the broken-leg
     act, in which the bird collapses suddenly, as though one of its
     little pipestem legs had snapped in two. The act is performed with
     such sincerity, even when the bird is standing in only an inch or
     so of water, that it never ceases to be amusing. Moreover, the
     trick is repeated diligently every few feet, so that it begins to
     look as though the bird had taken some fakir vow to prostrate
     itself every third or fourth step. The avocet, now that one thinks
     of it, does the same thing; but it does it awkwardly or, as it
     were, cautiously, and so unconvincingly. It has manifestly copied
     from its more agile neighbor. The second line of effort, most
     faithfully pursued, is wing fluttering. In this, again, the stilt
     is rather the mistress. It has perfected a trick of putting up one
     wing at a time and letting the wind tousle it about, as though it
     were really broken. Of course it also flutters both wings, and goes
     through other nondescript flopping and fluttering performances,
     such as are common to the family of shore birds.

_Voice._--My first impression of the note as heard on the breeding
grounds was recorded as a loud, guttural _whuck, whuck, whuck_; at other
times it has seemed harsh and shrill. Audubon (1840) referred to their
ordinary notes as "a whistling cry, different from the _cleek, cleek,
cleek_, which they emit when they have nests or young." C. J. Maynard
(1896), speaking of the breeding season, says: "The note at this time
was quite different from that given earlier in the season, as they now
uttered short syllables sounding like _put, put, put_, repeated rapidly,
that of the males being harsh, while the females gave it shriller and
more continuous."

_Fall._--Stuart T. Danforth (1925), who made some studies of a breeding
colony of stilts in Porto Rico, thus describes their departure in the

     By the latter part of June the adults had begun to flock again, and
     by the middle of September all the stilts at the lagoon (155 by
     actual count) had formed one compact flock. This count was made on
     September 17. By September 20 only about 50 were left; on September
     23 there were 20; on September 27 and September 30, 16; on October
     7, 5. After that none were seen.


_Range._--The United States, and Central and South America.

_Breeding range._--North to Oregon (Klamath Lake, Burns and Malheur
Lake); Utah (Brigham and Salt Lake City); Colorado (San Luis Lake and
Fort Garland); Louisiana (Black Bayou, Calcasieu, Abbeville, and
Vermilion Bay); and Florida (Titusville). East to Florida (Titusville,
Cape Canaveral, Kissimmee, Eden, and Lake Hicpoche); the Bahama Islands
(Andros, Inagua and Green Cay); Cuba (Manzanillo); Porto Rico (Guanica
lagoon); Venezuela (lagoon of Savonet and Curacao); Peru (Upper Ucayali
River); and probably Ecuador (Guayaquil). South to probably Ecuador
(Guayaquil); and probably the Galapagos Islands (Chatham and Albemarle
Islands). West probably, to the Galapagos Islands (Albemarle Island);
probably Nicaragua (Momotombo); probably Oaxaca (Tehuantepec);
Tamaulipas (Tampico and Matamoras); probably lower California (San
Quintin Bay); California (Santa Ana, Los Angeles, Castac Lake, Buena
Vista Lake, Alila, Tulare Lake, Fresno, Los Banos, Stockton, Sutter
County, and Tule Lake); and Oregon (Klamath Lake). There also is a
breeding record for Saskatchewan (Fort Qu'Appelle, June 13, 1894).

_Winter range._--The black-necked stilt is no doubt resident throughout
most or all of its breeding range in Central and South America. At this
season it has been detected north to lower California (San Jose del
Cabo, Santiago, and Cape San Lucas); Sinaloa (Mazatlan and Escuinapa);
Tamaulipas (Matamoras); Texas (Brownsville and Refugio County); rarely
Louisiana (Grand Chenier); Florida (Fort Myers); and Porto Rico.

_Spring migration._--Early dates of arrival are: California, Ojai, March
27, Daggett, April 10, Escondido, April 13, Stockton, April 13, Santa
Barbara, April 14, and Fort Crook, April 19, Oregon, Narrows, April 8,
and Malheur Lake, April 17; Arizona, Palo Verde, April 4; New Mexico,
State College, May 17, and Lake Buford, May 30; Colorado, Denver, May
5; Idaho, Rupert, April 28; and Montana, Billings, May 19. Migrants also
have been observed to arrive at points on the Gulf coast as Texas, Port
Lavaca, March 18; Louisiana, Sandfly Pass, March 16, and Vermilion Bay,
April 27; and Florida, Merritts Island, March 10, and Titusville, March

_Fall migration._--Late dates of fall departure are: Oregon, Narrows,
October 26; California, Fresno, September 15, Tulare Lake, October 7,
Buttonwillow, November 13, and Riverdale, November 19; Utah, Ogden,
October 8; Colorado, Windsor, November 5; and New Mexico, Jornada,
September 25.

_Casual records._--The black-necked stilt has been reported from many of
the eastern States but some of these are indefinite or otherwise
unsatisfactory. Among those that are considered valid are Mississippi,
Vicksburg, July 13, 1913; Alabama, Leighton, August 26, 1892; South
Carolina, Sullivans Island, May, 1881 (possibly breeding); New Jersey,
Stone Harbor, April 24, 1894, and Cape May, July 21, 1843; New York, Great
South Bay, two taken, one in 1843; New Hampshire, Rye Beach, reported as
taken several years previous to 1902; Maine, Rockland, one taken early
in May, 1889; New Brunswick, Maces Bay, one in September, 1880; Iowa,
Hawarden, one in 1890, Webster County, several in the summer of 1898;
Wisconsin, Racine, April, 1847; North Dakota, Hankinson, July 29, 1921;
Kansas, Wichita, one killed in 1906; and Nebraska, a few occurrences
around Omaha in 1893, 1894, and 1895. One also was taken on San Nicholas
Island of the Santa Barbara group, California, on May 25, 1897.

_Egg dates._--California: 140 records, April 26 to August 4, 70 records,
May 21 to June 8. Utah: 12 records, May 10 to June 24, 6 records, May 14
to 23. Texas: 23 records, April 17 to June 11; 12 records, April 26 to
May 28. Florida: 90 records, April 14 to June 25; 45 records, April 14
to May 6.

Family SCOLOPACIDAE, Snipes and Sandpipers




This fine large member of the snipe family is widely distributed in
Europe and Asia and has occurred as a straggler in North America half a
dozen times or more at various points from Newfoundland to Virginia.

Seton Gordon (1915) gives a very good idea of its distribution and
migrations, as follows:

     The principal summer home of the woodcock is the northern portion
     of the Old World, for it is found extending from eastern Siberia to
     the western extremity of Europe. The woodcock nesting in Kamschatka
     migrate to Japan with the advent of the cold weather, those
     frequenting Mongolia to China, while those which have nested in
     western Siberia and on the plateau of Tibet move down to Burma,
     India, Afghanistan, and Persia. Our own winter visitors are those
     birds which have bred in Scandinavia, Finland, and perhaps Russia.
     Those which press on south past our islands arrive in Palestine, in
     North Africa, and in Egypt. Throughout Russia the woodcock is found
     nesting, extending though in diminished numbers, as far south as
     the Caucasus and the Crimea. It also breeds in central France and
     in northern Italy. Some of its most distant nesting grounds are in
     Kashmir and Japan, while it has been found breeding in the
     Himalayas at the height of 10,000 feet. In the Faroe Islands it has
     occurred as a passing visitor and has also been recorded from

_Courtship._--The same writer refers to a nuptial performance akin to
the evening song flight of our woodcock, of which he says:

     Immediately after sunset the entire male woodcock population leave
     their secluded haunts, and fly backwards and forwards over the same
     line of country, uttering a peculiar cry unheard except during the
     season of nesting. The notes may be termed the song of the males,
     and are uttered by the birds previous to their departure for their
     feeding grounds in the evening. The song commences with grunting
     cries, ending up with a sharp and penetrating note repeated maybe
     several times in quick succession, _pisick, pisick_. At times two
     cock birds during their aerial maneuvers cross one another's path,
     and then ensues a stern chase over the tree tops, the birds
     uttering repeatedly their chirping cries. The "roding" of the
     woodcock never takes place before the sun has set during the
     earlier part of spring, but at a more advanced period, in May, the
     birds commence their evening flights rather earlier. The flighting
     is continued till deep twilight has settled over the glen, but
     ceases before night. In the morning I, personally, have never heard
     this "roding," but it is said to be recommenced before daybreak,
     and to cease previous to full daylight. The woodcock when roding
     does not fly repeatedly over the same part of the wood; there is an
     interval between each of its appearances.

     It is said to pass over the same country three times in the course
     of the evening. On the first visit it flies high and usually fast;
     on the second its progress is lower and more leisurely; while on
     the third and last the bird moves just above the trees.

_Nesting._--In the southern portions of Great Britain the woodcock is a
very early breeder, many birds nesting in March and some in February.
Late nestings in July indicate the probability that two broods are
sometimes raised, though this is unusual among waders. Mr. Gordon (1915)
describes the nesting habits as follows:

     The nesting ground is usually a wood, deciduous trees, being, I
     think preferred, owing to the soft layer of fallen leaves covering
     the ground. Close-grown plantations are rarely chosen as nesting
     sites, and small belts of birch and oak are favorite nesting
     grounds, provided that there is plenty of space between the trees.
     It is my experience that the birds dislike dense cover in which to
     nest; a few broken-down braken offer a suitable position, or the
     bird may scrape out a hollow amongst the deep layers of fallen
     beech and oak leaves which cover the ground beneath these trees.
     The eggs usually number four, but at times only three are found.
     Their ground color is normally buff colored, and they are liberally
     spotted and blotched by dark reddish-brown markings. Nothing more
     primitive than the nest of the woodcock can be found in the bird
     world. It is merely a slight hollow scraped in the ground and
     generally without intentional lining of any kind. The mother
     woodcock often sits very hard on her eggs, especially if incubation
     be far advanced, for she relies on the close harmonization of her
     plumage with her surroundings. Sometimes I have been able to
     approach to within a few feet of such a bird, and by not the
     slightest movement did she betray that she was alive. As the result
     of her early nesting, the woodcock has sometimes to cover her eggs
     when snow lies around to a considerable depth.

Rev. Henry H. Slater (1898) says that the nest is "often at the foot of
a young Scotch fir, or other tree."

_Eggs._--The European woodcock usually lays four eggs, but as many as
six and even eight have been found in a nest, probably the product of
two birds. These are much like large eggs of the American woodcock. They
are about ovate in shape and have a slight gloss. The ground colors vary
from "deep olive buff" to "cream buff." They are usually sparingly, but
sometimes quite heavily, marked with irregular spots and small blotches.
The underlying markings, in light shades of drab are numerous and quite
conspicuous. Over these are varying amounts of spots and blotches of
light browns, ranging in color from "snuff brown" to "clay color."
Occasionally there are a few spots or scrawls of "bister" or "clove
brown" about the larger end. Herbert Massey (1913) describes the eggs as

     The ground color ranges from the palest cream (nearly white)
     through deeper cream to pale buff, yellow-buff, and the deepest
     brown buff (many of the eggs of this latter type having a distinct
     pink tone), speckled and spotted and blotched with yellow-brown,
     dark brown, and purplish gray. As a rule, the eggs in the same set
     are fairly uniform in the pattern of the markings, but occasionally
     you get a set with one egg much more marked than the other three,
     and in many cases you find two distinct shades of ground color in
     the same set.

The measurements of 100 eggs, furnished by F. C. R. Jourdain, average
43.8 by 33.6 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure
=49= by 34.8, 44.9 by =36.4=, =40.2= by 34, and 43.1 by =31.6=

_Young._--Incubation lasts for 20 or 21 days and is performed by the
female only. The young remain in the nest but a short time, where they
are brooded by their mother and carefully tended by both parents.
Several good observers have seen the mother bird carry her young away
between her legs. Dresser (1871) quotes John J. Dalgleish as follows:

     I have had on three occasions the good fortune to see the woodcock
     in the act of carrying her young. On the first occasion the bird
     rose from my feet one day in the month of June, in a thick coppice
     cover in Argyllshire, and flew with her strange burden carried
     between her thighs for about 30 yards, in the manner well described
     in a note in Mr. Gray's Birds of the West of Scotland. On following
     her she again rose, still carrying the young one, and flew into
     some thick cover. On this and the next occasion, which was in
     Perthshire, the birds uttered no cry; but the last time I witnessed
     this curious habit, which was on the 5th of May last, the bird made
     the peculiar cry alluded to in the note in Mr. Gray's work. On this
     occasion I could observe the bird more distinctly, as it was in an
     old oak cover, with very little underwood, where I discovered her.
     On rising she flew from 35 to 40 yards, calling as above mentioned,
     and then, alighting among some grass, seemed to flutter along,
     still retaining hold of the chick. On raising her again, the same
     maneuver was repeated, only that the distance flown each time was
     greater, but always in the segment of a circle, as if she were
     unwilling to leave the rest of the brood. On returning to the spot
     where she rose at first, I discovered one of these, which was more
     than half grown, the quill feathers being well formed, and must
     altogether have formed rather a heavy burden. On taking it up, it
     uttered a cry, which was at once responded to by the parent bird,
     although the latter did not again take to wing from the bushes into
     which it had ultimately flown.

Abel Chapman (1924) writes:

     For many years a question used to be discussed as to woodcocks
     carrying their young; but the matter never specially interested me,
     until, on August 3, 1915, I happened to see it with my own eyes.
     This was in Houxty wood, and since then I have witnessed the
     performance on many occasions. During the war this wood was largely
     felled for military purposes and the area thus cleared, and
     subsequently replanted, has become a specially favored resort of
     our long-billed friends. The annexed sketch, made there on June 15,
     1920, shows exactly how the feat is accomplished. That particular
     woodcock rose on the hillside a trifle above me, slowly flapping by
     close in front, and looking back at me over her shoulder. What
     first struck my attention was the curiously depressed tail, held
     almost vertical; then the mother's feet, hanging down below;
     finally the youngster, with its very short beak, pressed between
     its parent's thighs. Since then I have witnessed many similar
     exhibitions; indeed, in summer they are almost daily on view.

_Plumages._--The downy young of the European woodcock is thus described
in Witherby's (1920) Handbook:

     Forehead and broad band over eye to nape light ochraceous buff, a
     russet median streak from base of upper mandible to crown; crown
     russet intermixed with light ochraceous buff, centre of nape
     russet, sides light ochraceous buff; an irregular and interrupted
     russet band from nape to uropygial tuft, another across wing; rest
     of upper parts and sides of body with irregular bands and patches
     of ochraceous buff and russet; from base of upper mandible to eye a
     broad black-brown streak; a small patch of same behind eye; a patch
     of russet on lower throat; rest of under parts light ochraceous

The juvenal plumage is therein fully described. It is much like the
adult, differing only in minor details, but can easily be recognized by
the looser or softer structure of the feathers. Practically all of this
plumage, except the primaries and secondaries, is replaced in the fall
by the first winter plumage, which is indistinguishable from the adult.
Adults have a complete postnuptial molt from July to December and a
partial prenuptial molt, involving nearly everything but the wings, from
February to May.

_Food._--Mr. Gordon (1915) refers to the feeding habits of the woodcock
as follows:

     It feeds mainly by night on wet, boggy ground, and eats an enormous
     quantity of worms; indeed, it may swallow almost its own weight of
     food in the course of a single day. When the blackberries have
     ripened the woodcock betake themselves to the hillsides and consume
     great quantities of the fruit.

Mr. Slater (1898) says:

     I have occasionally flushed woodcocks at night from wet rushy
     fields, where they were doubtless probing the ground for worms and
     larvae, occasionally turning over the droppings of cattle for
     concealed beetles. But they also feed in woods to a certain extent,
     turning the dead leaves over to find insects, etc. The accounts of
     the extent of their appetites and of the amount of worms, etc.,
     which they will put away at a sitting are surprising. These they
     find in the earth with their bills, which are modified into a very
     delicate organ of touch.

     If the horny epidermis be removed, a number of small pits of a
     hexagonal shape will be seen in the bone at the end of the bill,
     remotely suggesting an incipient honey comb. In each one of these
     pits a minute fibril of the olfactory nerve has its termination,
     and by this means, when the bill is thrust into the soft, wet
     soil, the slightest wriggle of the least living creature is
     instantly telegraphed to the woodcock's sensibilities.

Witherby's Handbook (1920) includes the following items in its food:
Earthworms; also insects (coleoptera and their larvae, orthoptera
(_Forficula_) larvae of lepidoptera, etc.); small mollusca, etc. Grains
of maize recorded on one occasion in stomach, and mussels (_Mytilus_)
also said to be eaten, as well as small crustacea.

_Behavior._--Mr. Gordon (1915) says:

     During its flight the bill of the woodcock is pointed downwards,
     and the wings are not extended to their full stretch. It seldom
     makes sustained flights, however, except on migration. During a
     shoot at Alnick a woodcock was seen to alight on the ground and
     then to throw leaves over its back, presumably to hide itself from
     the guns. If so, it would seem that the woodcock is one of the most
     sagacious of birds.

Selby (1833) writes:

     The haunts selected by these birds, for their residence during the
     daytime, are usually the closest brakes of birch and other brushy
     underwood, and where the ground, from the deep shade, Is nearly
     free from herbage; and, for this reason, thick fir plantations of
     10 or 12 years' growth are a favorite resort. In woods that are
     very extensive they are generally found, and abound most in
     thickets by the sides of open glades, or where roads intersect, as
     by these they pass to and from their feeding ground at evening and
     in the dawn of the morning. Unless disturbed, they remain quietly
     at roost upon the ground during the whole day, but as soon as the
     sun is wholly below the horizon, they are in full activity, and
     taking flight nearly at the same instant, leave the woods and cover
     for the adjoining meadows, or open land, over which they disperse
     themselves, and are fully engaged in search of food during the
     whole night.

Mr. Slater (1898) observes:

     It is well known that woodcocks follow certain routes to their
     favorite feeding grounds in the evening, as they also have
     preferences for certain woods and certain parts of woods to lie in
     during the day. In short, they are very peculiar and fanciful in
     their tastes, and are guided by circumstances not apparent to us in
     their liking for one place rather than for another which seems to
     our eyes to offer the same advantages. A wood above my father's
     late house, in Northumberland, was a regular passing place for
     cocks, and at dusk on any April or May evening a sight of half a
     dozen at least was a certainty, as they passed rapidly above the
     trees, announced, long before they themselves were visible, by
     their peculiar half squeak, half whistle. I have here seen them
     "tilting" in the air in the manner described by St. John and
     others. It has been suggested that this tilting (at which time they
     tumble and twirl about in the air in pairs and threes, apparently
     prodding at one another with their bills) is connected with
     pairing, but I can not think so, as I have witnessed it as late as
     the end of May. I rather think it is pure playfulness, as of
     children just out of school, after lying concealed and quiet most
     of the day.

According to Yarrell (1871), woodcocks sometimes become exhausted and
fall into the sea on their migrations; but they do not always perish,
for he says:

     A woodcock when flushed on the coast has been known to settle on
     the sea, and when again disturbed rose without difficulty and flew
     away. Numerous instances are recorded of woodcocks alighting on the
     decks of ships in the English Channel and elsewhere. The rapidity
     of flight of this bird is at times so great that a pane of plate
     glass more than three-eighths of an inch thick has been smashed by
     the contact, and one was actually impaled on the weather cock of
     one of the churches in Ipswich.

_Fall._--Mr. Slater (1898), writing of the fall migration in Great
Britain, says:

     Though many breed with us, there is a large migration from the
     North in the late autumn. If the moon is full about the end of
     October, they appear to come in a big "rush" then, but sometimes in
     driblets as early as the end of September, as late as mid-November.
     But their movements are largely influenced by the wind and
     atmosphere as well as the moon; if the weather is foggy or they are
     exhausted by a heavy contrary wind, they drop on the coast as soon
     as they touch it, and large bags are sometimes made on the sand
     hills by those on the lookout for them. If the wind is light and
     weather clear, they seem to pass inland at once to favorite and
     suitable covers. Should frost come--which drives the worms down,
     and also prevents the birds from probing--cock move south and west.
     Therefore, it is in our southwest counties, Wales and West Ireland,
     where, owing to the Gulf stream frost and cold are seldom severe,
     that the best woodcock shooting is to be had, after the seasonal
     migration is over. Though they travel as a rule at night, and
     chiefly at the time of the full moon, this is not invariably the
     case; on October 28, 1881, I saw a woodcock come straight in from
     the sea, 20 yards high, and pitch on a bare patch of shingle; this
     was shortly before midday, and I thought it such an unusual
     circumstance that I skinned the bird for my collection.

_Winter._--The woodcock is a winter resident as well as a migrant in
Great Britain. Dresser (1871) writes:

     Their numbers are, of course, greatly augmented in the winter,
     large numbers of immigrants being added to those which breed (as
     after mentioned); indeed I am not sure whether all of those we have
     in winter are immigrants, and that those which breed with us move
     further south in pursuance of their migratory instinct; but this is
     a point very difficult to discover. In the district I now allude
     to, their numbers are much diminished on the appearance of severe,
     frosty weather, when they appear to go to the coast, where they
     find the feeding grounds more open; if, however, the frost be
     slight, they remain.

     On the west coast of Argyllshire they are found in greater
     numbers, and are not so much confined to covers, being found in
     open weather scattered through all the sheltered glens where there
     is any brushwood or even bracken. On the occurrence of frost,
     however, they all gather to the low-lying covers near the sea,
     where its influence serves to keep open the springs; and in such
     weather very large bags are often made, as they seem to come not
     only from the outlying spots above mentioned, but from the inland
     districts, where the frost has sealed up every one of their usual


_Breeding range._--Northern Europe and Asia. North in Scandinavia to
latitude 67°, in Lapland and Finland, in western Russia to 65°, and in
eastern Russia to 64°. East to the Sea of Okhotsk. West to the British
Isles. South to the Azores, Canaries, and Madeira (where it is
resident), the Pyrenees, Alps, Transylvania, Carpathians, Himalayas (up
to 10,000 feet), Mongolia, and Japan.

_Winter range._--Great Britain, the Mediterranean basin, northern Africa
and southern Asia, Persia, India, Burma, China, Japan, and occasionally

_Casual records._--Casual in the Faeroes, Spitsbergen, Greenland, and
North America. Prof. Wells W. Cooke (1912) says:

     It wanders occasionally to eastern North America, and has occurred
     in Loudoun County, Va., in 1873 (Coues); Chester County, Pa., the
     end of November, 1886 (Stone); one was taken near Shrewsbury, N.
     J., December 6, 1859 (Lawrence); one, September, 1889, somewhere in
     New Jersey (Warren); one, probably of this species, near Newport,
     R. I. (Baird, Brewer, and Ridgway); one at Chambly, Quebec,
     November 11, 1882 (Wintle); and one at St. John, Newfoundland,
     January 9, 1862 (Sclater).

_Egg dates._--Great Britain: 29 records, March 9 to August 5; 15
records, April 18 to June 22.




This mysterious hermit of the alders, this recluse of the boggy
thickets, this wood nymph of crepuscular habits is a common bird and
well distributed in our Eastern States, widely known, but not intimately
known. Its quiet retiring habits do not lead to human intimacy. It may
live almost in our midst unnoticed. Its needs are modest, its habitat is
circumscribed, and it clings with tenacity to its favorite haunts even
when closely encroached upon by civilization. The banks of a stream
running through my place, close to the heart of the city, were once
famous woodcock covers in which the birds persisted long after the
surroundings were built up; and even within recent years I have had a
pair of woodcocks living in the shrubbery along the stream for a week or
two at a time.

Who knows where to look for woodcocks? Their haunts are so varied that
one may not be surprised to find them almost anywhere, especially on
migrations. Flight birds are here to-day and gone to-morrow. Their
favorite resorts are alder thickets along the banks of meandering
streams or spring-fed boggy runs; rich bottom lands or scrubby hollows,
overgrown with willows, maples, alders, and poison sumac; or the scrubby
edges of damp, second-growth woods, mixed with birches; any such place
will suit them where they can find moist soil, not too wet or too sour,
well supplied with earthworms. During the hot, sultry weather of July
and August, the molting season, they seek the seclusion of cool, moist,
leafy woods or dense thickets; or they may resort to the cool hillside
or mountain bogs, fed by cool springs; or, if the weather is very dry,
they may be found in the wet grassy meadows. Woodcocks do not like too
much water and, after heavy rains, they may be driven from their usual
covers to well-drained hillsides, sparsely covered with small birches,
maples, locusts, and cedars. Sometimes they are found on the tops of
mountains; George B. Sennett (1887) saw a pair on the top of Roan
Mountain in North Carolina, at an elevation of 6,000 feet, "in a clump
of balsams; the overflow from numerous springs which had their sources
at this spot formed an open, adjoining marsh of several acres."

Woodcocks often appear in unexpected places, such as city parks, yards,
gardens, orchards, or even lawns. John T. Nichols writes to me:

     A neighbor (Mr. W. S. Dana) called for me at about 10 o'clock in
     the morning of a sparklingly clear, rather cool summer's day, to
     show me a woodcock that was feeding on his lawn, which slopes down
     to an almost fresh water arm of Moriches Bay. We found the bird
     still busily engaged where he had left it. It was out in the bright
     sunlight, crouched, walking about slowly but continuously. It held
     its body in an unsteady wavering manner, and was picking and
     digging about the roots of the short grass stubble, apparently
     obtaining some food too small for us to determine. The piece of
     lawn where the bird was operating was low and flat, adjacent to the
     edge of the water where protected by a low bulkhead. The ground was
     slightly moist, perhaps from seepage, which may have accounted for
     its presence. It was remarkably unsuspicious, allowing us to crawl
     within 2 or 3 yards, before flying back to alight under the shade
     of near-by trees; but was a full-grown bird, strong on the wing.

I have, more than once, seen a woodcock crouching in the short grass
beside a country road, quite unconcerned as I drove past. I have
frequently seen one in my yard about the shrubbery and I remember seeing
my father stand on his front piazza and shoot one that was standing
under an arborvitae hedge. Moist cornfields are often favorite resorts
for woodcocks in summer.

_Spring._--The woodcock is the first of our waders to migrate north and
one of the earliest of all our migrants, coming with the bluebirds and
the robins, as soon as winter has begun to loosen its grip. The date
depends on the weather and is very variable, for the bird must wait for
a thaw to unlock its food supply in the bogs and spring holes. Walter H.
Rich (1907) has known the woodcock to arrive in Maine as early as
February 10, and says that early birds find a living about the big ant
hills, until the alder covers are ready for them.

In Audubon's (1840) time the migration must have been very heavy, for he

     At the time when the woodcocks are traveling from the south toward
     all parts of the United States, on their way to their breeding
     places, these birds, although they migrate singly, follow each
     other with such rapidity, that they may be said to arrive in
     flocks, the one coming directly in the wake of the other. This is
     particularly observable by a person standing on the eastern banks
     of the Mississippi or the Ohio, in the evening dusk, from the
     middle of March to that of April, when almost every instant there
     whizzes past him a woodcock, with a velocity equaling that of our
     swiftest birds. See them flying across and low over the broad
     stream; the sound produced by the action of their wings reaches
     your ear as they approach, and gradually dies away after they have
     passed and again entered the woods.

No such flights can be seen to-day, but we occasionally have a
comparatively heavy migration; such a flight occurred in 1923 and is
thus described in some notes from Edward H. Forbush:

     The most remarkable occurrence of the past two months was the
     prevalence of migrating woodcocks over a large part of southern New
     England and along the coastal regions to Nova Scotia. The first
     woodcock was reported in Massachusetts the last week in February
     and from the first week in March onward woodcocks were noted in
     slowly increasing numbers over a large part of New England. From
     March 22 to the first week in April the number of these birds
     scattered through Connecticut and eastern Massachusetts was
     remarkable. At evening one could find them almost anywhere. They
     were seen in the most unlikely places even in daylight. They were
     in all the towns around Boston and in the suburbs of the city
     itself, and west at least to the Connecticut Valley they were even
     more numerous in the woods and swamps. In southern New England at
     this time a large part of the snow had gone and in going had thawed
     the ground so that no frost remained and the woodcocks could find
     earthworms almost everywhere. Farther north there was not only
     frost in the ground but there was deep snow and the birds could
     find no food.

_Courtship._--The woodcock may be found by those who seek him and know
his haunts, but it is only for a short time during the breeding season,
that he comes out into the open and makes himself conspicuous. His
spectacular evening song-flight has been seen by many observers, and
numerous writers have referred to it or described it more or less fully.
William Brewster (1894) has given us the best and most complete account
of it, but it is too long to quote in full here. I prefer to give my own
version of it. The time to look and listen for it is during the laying
and incubation period--say the month of April in Massachusetts, earlier
farther south, even December and January in the Gulf States. The
performance usually begins soon after sunset, as twilight approaches. On
dark nights it ceases about when the afterglow finally disappears in the
western sky; and it begins again in the morning twilight, lasting from
dawn to broad daylight. On moonlight nights it is often continued
through much or all of the night. The woodcock's nest is usually in some
swampy thicket or on the edge of the woods, near an open pasture, field,
or clearing; and here in the nearest open space, preferably on some
knoll or low hillside within hearing of his sitting mate, the male
woodcock entertains her with his thrilling performance. Sometimes, but
not always, he struts around on the ground, with tail erect and spread,
and with bill pointing downwards and resting on his chest. More often he
stands still, or walks about slowly in a normal attitude, producing at
intervals of a few seconds two very different notes--a loud, rasping,
emphatic _zeeip_--which might be mistaken for the note of the nighthawk,
and a soft guttural note, audible at only a short distance, like the
croak of a frog or the cluck of a hen. Suddenly he rises, and flies off
at a rising angle, circling higher and higher, in increasing spirals,
until he looks like a mere speck in the sky, mounting to a height of 200
or 300 feet; during the upward flight he whistles continuously,
twittering musical notes, like _twitter_, _itter_, _itter_, _itter_,
repeated without a break. These notes may be caused by the whistling of
his wings, but it seems to me that they are vocal. Then comes his true
love song--a loud, musical, three-syllable note--sounding to me like
_chicharee_, _chicharee_, _chicharee_ uttered three times with only a
slight interval between the outbursts; this song is given as the bird
flutters downward, circling, zigzagging, and finally volplaning down to
the ground at or near his starting point. He soon begins again on the
_zeeip_ notes and the whole act is repeated again and again. Sometimes
two, or even three, birds may be performing within sight or hearing;
occasionally one is seen to drive another away.

The performance has been similarly described by several others with
slight variations. Mr. Brewster (1894) refers to what I have called the
_zeeip_ note as _paap_ and the soft guttural note as _p'tul_, and says

"Each _paap_ was closely preceded by a _p'tul_, so closely at times that
the two sounds were nearly merged."

He counted the _paaps_ as "uttered consecutively 31, 21, 37, 29, and 28

Describing the action in detail, he says:

     At each utterance of the _paap_ the neck was slightly lengthened,
     the head was thrown upward and backward (much in the manner of a
     least flycatcher's while singing), the bill was opened wide and
     raised to a horizontal position, the wings were jerked out from the
     body. All these movements were abrupt and convulsive, indicating
     considerable muscular effort on the part of the bird. There was
     perhaps also a slight twitching of the tail, but this member was
     not perceptibly raised or expanded. The return of the several parts
     to their respective normal positions was quite as sudden as were
     the initial movements. The forward recovery of the head was well
     marked. The opening and shutting of the bill strongly suggested
     that of a pair of tongs. During the emission of the _paap_ the
     throat swelled and its plumage was ruffled, but neither effect was
     more marked than with any of our small birds while in the act of

     The mouth opened to such an extent that I could look directly down
     the bird's throat, which appeared large enough to admit the end of
     one's forefinger. The lateral distension of the mouth was
     especially striking.

Referring to the song flight, he says: "Two flights, which I timed from
the start to the finish, lasted, respectively, 57 and 59 seconds, the
song 11 and 12 seconds, respectively." During the flight he followed him
with a glass and "made out distinctly that while singing he alternately
flapped his wings (several times in succession) and held them extended
and motionless."

Francis H. Allen has sent me the following notes on his impression of
the song:

     In all that has been written of this wonderful performance of the
     woodcock's, I do not remember to have seen any full description of
     the song itself; the peeping, or _peenting_, on the ground, with
     the alternating water-dropping sounds and the accompaniment of
     head-jerking and wing-lifting has been described at length, as well
     as the remarkable spiral ascent into the air on whistling wings;
     but the character of the actual song, which is uttered at the
     summit of the ascent and as the bird comes down, is worth a little
     more attention. It begins in a confused series of chipping whistles
     which convey the impression of coming from at least three birds at
     once. These soon resolve themselves into groups of four to
     six--usually four in my experience--descending notes, the groups
     alternating with groups of high-pitched wing-whistles. These song
     notes vary in sweetness with different individuals, but are often
     very clear and musical. Not the least interesting aspect of the
     woodcock's evening hymn is the fact that so stolid appearing a bird
     should be moved by the fervor of courtship to execute so elaborate
     and exciting a performance. The excitement attending the affair as
     far as the spectator, or rather listener, is concerned lies to
     great extent in the wing whistling. When the woodcock first rises,
     the whistle is comparatively low, but as he mounts, the pitch rises
     and the rapidity of production increases. It is a steady succession
     of very short whistling notes for some time, but, when the bird and
     the whistle both reach their height, it comes in short groups of
     extremely rapid whistles alternating with brief intervals of
     motionless wings, as if the performer were breathless with
     excitement and effort and could not sustain his flight for long at
     a time. This is the effect, I mean. Probably the bird finds it easy
     enough, for he makes his flight at comparatively short intervals
     and during his periods of rest he is hard at work producing his
     harsh and unmusical nighthawk-like _peent_ notes which involve a
     deal of muscular effort.

Lynds Jones (1909) says that "the bird floats downward by a crooked
path, the while calling in coaxing tones _p chuck tuck cuck oo_, _p
chuck tuck cuckoo_, uttered more slowly at first, regularly increasing
in rapidity until the notes are almost a wheedling call." Isador S.
Trostler (1893) describes a feature of the courtship which I have not
seen mentioned elsewhere; he writes:

     The birds often play in a very droll manner, running round and
     round each other in a small circle, their feathers ruffled, their
     wings lifted, and their long bills pointing nearly directly upward,
     with their heads resting on their backs.

     Sometimes they will hop on one foot, holding the other at a queer
     angle, as if it had been broken or hurt. The male bird utters a
     low indescribable sound during all the playing, and the sight of
     these queer antics is worth more than to have seen Modjeska or
     Barrett in their celebrated plays.

_Nesting._--The nesting sites of the woodcock are almost as varied as
its haunts at other times. I have never known how or where to look for
its nest; in over 40 years of field work I have seen but one nest with
eggs. That was shown to me by Mrs. Mary M. Kaan, in Chestnut Hill,
Massachusetts, on June 2, 1924. It was located where I should never have
thought of looking for one, in an open, rocky hollow in open woods,
within 50 feet of a bridle path on one side and about the same distance
from a swampy ravine and brook on the other side. The nest was on a
little hummock, surrounded by herbage about a foot high; it was a mere
hollow in the ground lined with dead leaves. Although it was in fairly
plain sight, it was a long time before I could see the sitting bird,
even when it was pointed out to me. The bird sat like a rock, as this
species usually does, while I took a series of photographs of it, moving
gradually nearer. I even removed two leaves which were resting on her
bill, and Mrs. Kaan stroked her on the back before she left. The nest
held only three eggs, which were probably a second laying.

The usual nesting sites are in alder runs, swampy thickets, brushy
corners in pastures, or in underbrush or tall weeds along the edges of
woods. Woodcocks are early breeders and it sometimes happens that nests
are buried under late falls of snow; in such cases the birds continue to
sit as long as it is possible to do so. The nest is often placed at the
foot of a small tree or bush, occasionally beside a log or stump or even
under fallen brush. An abundance of fallen leaves seems to be an
essential requirement, of which the nest is usually made and among which
the bird relies on its protective coloration for concealment; but its
big black eyes sometimes reveal it.

L. Whitney Watkins (1894) found a nest near Manchester, Michigan, in
heavy timber, and within a few feet of a reed-bordered, springy spot, it
was within 2 feet of an ovenbird's nest. Another nest he describes as

     The old bird, curiously enough, had selected for her nesting site
     an open spot where some fallen boughs had partially decayed, and
     within 5 feet of a picket fence enclosing an open pasture field.
     Opposite her on the other side, were ash, elm, oak, and other
     trees, of no considerable size, and round about were many
     frost-dried stems of aster and goldenrod, interspersed with the
     fallen leaves of the previous summer. Little of green was near.

E. G. Taber (1904) found a nest that was situated in a swampy corner of
a field planted with corn, only 6 feet from the open, on a slightly
raised portion of the ground. This corner was overgrown with black ash,
soft maple, tag alders, and ferns, mingled with poison ivy. Mr. Brewster
(1925) describes two, of several, nests found near Umbagog Lake, Maine,
as follows:

     One, containing four eggs, incubated perhaps as many days, was in
     the face of a low mound partially overarched by balsam shrubs
     surrounded on every side by pools of water, and some 80 yards from
     the lake shore near the middle of swampy, second-growth woods made
     up chiefly of aspen, red cherry, and yellow birch trees, 20 or 30
     feet in height, beneath which grew alders rather abundantly. The
     female woodcock flew up from her eggs at least 15 feet in advance
     of me, and whistling faintly soared off over the tree tops to be
     seen no more. I flushed a male about 50 yards from this nest.

Of the other he says:

     It was at the edge of a little fern-grown opening, on a mound
     covered with brakes flattened and bleached by winter snows, beneath
     a balsam scarce 2 feet high, and not dense enough to afford much
     concealment for the eggs which, indeed, caught my eye when I was 15
     feet away, there being no bird on them.

Mr. Trostler (1893) writes:

     Finding a nest one day, I disturbed the setting bird three times,
     and again four times on the next day, and on the morning of the
     third day I found that the birds had removed the eggs during the
     night and placed them in a new nest about 8 feet away, where I
     found the eggs. I had marked the eggs to avoid any mistake. The
     second nest was a mere hollow in the mossy ground, and was in the
     middle of an open place in tall marsh grass, while the first was
     neatly cupped and lined with the above-mentioned vegetable down.

     Another singular habit of the woodcock that I have never seen noted
     is that of both birds setting upon the nest in wet or cold weather.
     In doing this they huddle very close together and face in opposite
     directions, and I have always noted that they have their heads
     thrown back and their bills elevated to an angle of about
     forty-five degrees.

Mr. Nichols writes to me:

     On Long Island there is a favorite nesting station for woodcock,
     where the woodland gives place to broad fields, separated by narrow
     stands of big trees with a sparse tangled undergrowth of shrubbery
     and cat-brier, and where here and there a short fresh-water creek
     extends inland from the not distant bay.

Several writers have stated or implied that the woodcock raises two
broods in a season. This would be an exception to the rule among waders.
I believe that it normally nests early and that the late nests are
merely second attempts at raising a brood, where the first nest has been

An interesting case of nest-protecting display is thus described by Dr.
Robert Cushman Murphy (1926):

     She (assuming that it was the female) would allow us to come within
     a few feet before leaving her well-concealed position. Then she
     would spring from the nest, pitch on the ground close by, and,
     standing with the tail toward us, would raise and spread it so as
     to show to full advantage the double row of glistening white spots
     at the ends of the rectrices and under coverts. Next, flashing this
     striking banner slowly, she would move off among the trees in the
     attitude of a strutting turkey cock, stopping when we refused to
     follow, and then tripping ahead for a few steps, all the while
     bleating softly. The effect was astonishing; the ordinary low
     visibility of a woodcock against the forest floor no longer held,
     for the spotted fan of the tail had become a most conspicuous and
     arresting mark.

_Eggs._--The American woodcock lays four eggs, sometimes only three, and
rarely five. They vary in shape from ovate to rounded ovate and have a
moderate gloss. The ordinary ground colors vary from "pinkish buff" to
"cartridge buff" and in certain brown types from "pinkish buff" to
"cinnamon." They are usually rather sparingly and more or less evenly
marked with small spots, but sometimes these spots are concentrated
about the larger end. In the lighter types, which are the most common,
there are often many large blotches of light shades of "vinaceous drab"
or "brownish drab"; these are conspicuous and often predominate. Mixed
with them are numerous small spots of light browns, "cinnamon," "clay
color," or "tawny olive." In the brown types these spots are in richer
browns, "hazel," "russet," or "cinnamon brown," with the drab spots less
conspicuous. The measurements of 53 eggs, in the United States National
Museum, average 38 by 29 millimeters; the eggs showing the four
extremes measure =41= by =30= and =35= by =27.5= millimeters.

_Young._--The period of incubation is 20 or 21 days. Both sexes assist
in this and in the care of the young. An incubating woodcock is
notorious as a close sitter and can not usually be flushed from the nest
unless nearly trodden upon; often it can be touched or even lifted from
the eggs. The young are rather feeble when first hatched and are brooded
by the parent bird much of the time for the first day or two. If flushed
from her brood of young the female flutters away for a short distance as
if hardly able to fly, with dangling legs and tail depressed and spread.
If the young are strong enough to walk, she calls to them making a
clucking sound, to which they respond with a faint peeping sound, as
they run toward her; having gathered them under her wings, she covers
them again trusting to her concealing coloration. If the young are too
young and feeble to run, she may return when she thinks it safe, and
carry them off between her legs, one at a time. Several reliable and
accurate observers have testified to seeing this done; some who have not
seen it have doubted it. The following account by Edwyn Sandys (1904)
seems convincing:

     The nest in question was on a bit of level ground amid tall trees.
     The sole suggestion of cover was a lot of flattened leaves which
     lay as the snow had left them. Perhaps 10 yards away was an old
     rail fence about waist-high, and on the farther side of it was a
     clump of tall saplings. A man coming out of the wood told me he had
     just flushed a woodcock and had seen her brood, recently hatched
     and pointed out where they were. I went in to investigate, and
     located one young bird crouched on the leaves. It ran a few steps
     and again crouched, evidently not yet strong enough for any
     sustained effort. I went off, and hid behind a stump, to await
     developments. From this shelter the young bird was visible and it
     made no attempt to move. Presently the old one came fluttering
     back, alighted near the youngster, and walked to it. In a few
     moments she rose and flew low and heavily, merely clearing the
     fence, and dropping perhaps 10 yards within the thicket. Her legs
     appeared to be half bent, and so far as I could determine the
     youngster was held between them. Something about her appearance
     reminded me of a thing often seen--a shrike carrying off a small
     bird. I carefully marked her down, then glanced toward where the
     youngster had been. It was no longer there; and a few moments later
     it, or its mate, was found exactly where the mother had gone down.
     She flushed and made off in the usual summer flight.

William H. Fisher writes to me:

     On May 16, 1903, I flushed an old bird at upper end of the Eagle
     Woods. She left three young on the ground, they remaining very
     quiet, cuddled in the dead leaves. In a few minutes she returned
     and alighted by them took one _between her legs_, holding it tight
     up to her belly, and flew off into a thicket. I sat and watched the
     other two young for about 15 minutes, hoping and expecting the
     mother bird would return, but, she not doing so, I got tired and
     left. As the usual set of eggs is four, I wonder if the old bird
     carried off one when she first flushed.

John T. Nichols tells, in his notes, of a brood found on Long Island:

     This brood was found early in the morning by working painstakingly
     in a narrow stand of trees where a nest was suspected. The parent
     bird rose from almost under foot and fluttered away, as is
     customary in such cases, with tail spread, pointing down, legs
     dangling wide apart. It was perhaps a minute before the eye could
     pick out four young lying motionless side by side, so inconspicuous
     was their color against the background. For another couple of
     minutes they lay motionless. Then of one accord rolled to their
     feet and spreading their baby wings aloft, as though to balance,
     walked deliberately away with fine, scarcely audible cheeping, each
     in a slightly different direction. Apparently reliable reports are
     current of the woodcock carrying its young, but the characteristic
     peculiar labored flight, with deflected tail and widespread legs,
     just described, may also easily give such an impression

Again he writes:

     Just after sunrise on a clear morning I came upon 3 birds in an
     open field. Two of them flew in different directions, one swiftly
     and silently quickly disappeared, the other in the peculiar
     fluttering manner characteristic of a parent when surprised with
     young. As I reached the point where the two had risen the presence
     of helpless young was confirmed by the actions of a bird on the
     ground some 75 yards away, at the edge of the trees to which the
     parent had flown. Its head up, watching me, both wings were
     extended to the side, flapping feebly.

     I had stood a couple of minutes scrutinizing the ground about,
     when my eye alighted on a fledgling. At the same instant it rose
     to its feet, raised and extended its wings to the side, and began
     to walk rapidly away, calling a high-pitched _seep_! Its wings
     were fully feathered, though little grown, feathers extending
     narrowly between them across the back, sides of its lower parts
     feathered, feathers not quite meeting in the center, otherwise in
     down. Contrast its helplessness with the young bobwhite which
     flies at a much earlier stage.

Audubon (1840) describes the actions of the anxious mother in the
following well-chosen words:

     She scarcely limps, nor does she often flutter along the ground, on
     such occasions; but with half extended wings, inclining her head to
     one side, and uttering a soft murmur, she moves to and fro, urging
     her young to hasten towards some secure spot beyond the reach of
     their enemies. Regardless of her own danger, she would to all
     appearance gladly suffer herself to be seized, could she be assured
     that by such a sacrifice she might ensure the safety of her brood.
     On an occasion of this kind, I saw a female woodcock lay herself
     down on the middle of a road, as if she were dead, while her little
     ones, five in number, were endeavoring on feeble legs to escape
     from a pack of naughty boys, who had already caught one of them,
     and were kicking it over the dust in barbarous sport. The mother
     might have shared the same fate, had I not happened to issue from
     the thicket, and interpose in her behalf.

_Plumages._--The downy young woodcock, when newly hatched, is
conspicuously and handsomely marked; the upper parts are "warm buff" or
"light ochraceous buff," distinctively marked with rich "seal brown";
these markings consist (with some individual variation) of a large,
central crown patch, extending in a stripe down the forehead, a large
occipital patch, a stripe from the bill through the eye to the occiput,
a broad stripe down the center and one down each side of the back, a
patch on each wing and each thigh and irregular markings on the sides of
the head and neck; the under parts are more rufous, "pinkish cinnamon"
or "cinnamon buff," and unmarked.

The juvenal plumage appears at an early age, coming in first on the back
and wings; the wings grow rapidly, and the young bird can fly long
before it is fully grown. This plumage is much like that of the adult,
but it can be distinguished during the first summer by its looser
texture and by broader brown edgings on the wing coverts, scapulars, and
tertials. A prolonged postnuptial molt of the body plumage during late
summer and fall produces a first winter plumage which is nearly adult.
At the first prenuptial molt, in late winter and spring, young birds
become indistinguishable from adults.

Adults have an incomplete prenuptial molt, involving the body plumage,
some wing coverts, scapulars, and tertials, in late winter and early
spring, and a complete postnuptial molt in July and August. Fall birds
are much more richly colored than spring adults.

_Food._--The woodcock is a voracious feeder; its principal food is
earthworms or angleworms, of which it has been known to eat more than
its own weight in 24 hours. It is said to feed mainly at night or during
the hours of twilight or dusk. The worms are obtained by probing in mud
or damp earth in any place where worms are to be found, including
gardens and cultivated fields. The long bill of the woodcock is well
supplied with sensitive nerves, in which the sense of touch is highly
developed; it can detect the movements of a worm in the soil and capture
it by probing. Numerous borings are often seen close together,
indicating that the bird does not always strike the worm at the first
stab. Probably its keen ears also help to locate its prey. It is said to
beat the soft ground with its feet or wings, which is supposed to
suggest the effect of pattering rain and draw the worms toward the

C. J. Maynard (1896) made the following observations on a captive bird:

     The floor of its house was covered to the depth of four or five
     inches with dark-colored loam, in which I planted a quantity of
     weeds, beneath which the woodcock could hide. I would drop a number
     of worms on this soil, which, as the bird was too shy to feed at
     first, had ample time to bury themselves. At times, however, I was
     able to watch the bird unseen by it; then the woodcock, which had
     remained hidden in the corner behind the sheltering weeds, would
     emerge cautiously and walk over the ground, slowly and
     deliberately, pausing every instant or two as if listening
     intently. Then he would stamp with one foot, giving several sharp,
     quick blows, after which he would bow his head near the ground and
     again listen. Then suddenly he would turn either to the right or
     left or take a step or two forward, plunge his bill into the earth,
     and draw out a worm, which he would swallow, then repeat this
     performance until all the worms were eaten.

During dry spells, when the worms have returned to the subsoil, the
woodcock must seek other foods. It then resorts to the woods, where it
turns over the leaves in search of grubs, slugs, insects, and larvae. It
has even been known to eat grasshoppers. Mr. Rich (1907) says that in
early spring, before the alder covers are open, it feeds on ants.
Frederick S. Webster (1887) reports a singular case, where the crop of a
woodcock was crammed full of leaves of a common fern.

_Behavior._--The woodcock is so nocturnal or crepuscular in its habits
that it remains quietly hidden in its favorite covers during the day and
is seldom seen to fly unless disturbed, when it flutters up through the
trees with a weak, irregular, or zigzag flight, dodging the branches.
When clear of obstructions, it flies more swiftly and directly, but
usually for only a short distance, and soon pitches down into the cover
again. One can usually follow it and flush it again and again. Toward
dusk it becomes much more active, and its shadowy form is often seen
flying over the tree tops and across open places to its feeding grounds.
At such times its flight is steady and direct, with regular wing
strokes; its chunky form with its long bill pointing downward is easily
recognized. While traveling at night its flight is quite swift. When
rising in flight the woodcock produces, usually but not always, a
distinct whistling or twittering sound. This has led to much discussion
and differences of opinion, as to whether the sound is produced by the
wings or is vocal. I am inclined to the latter theory, for I have often
seen a woodcock fly without whistling, and many others have referred to
such a flight.

Few of us have ever seen a woodcock alight in a tree, but Mr. Rich
(1907) refers to several instances where the bird has been seen to do
this by reliable witnesses. Once he himself shot one in the act.

_Voice._--Except during the spectacular song-flight and courtship
performance, the woodcock is a very silent bird, unless we regard the
twittering heard when it rises as vocal. Mr. Nichols says in his notes:

     The quality of the twitter of a rising woodcock corresponds more or
     less to the character of its flight. When, as is frequently the
     case, the bird merely flutters a short distance to drop again
     behind the screen of undergrowth, it amounts to little more than
     the chirping of crickets. On one occasion when I observed an
     individual barely escape the attack of an _Accipiter_, this sound,
     as it rose, was less shrill and loud than often, but more rapid and
     sustained, with an incisive quality suggesting a rattle snake's
     alarm. When a woodcock rises through thick brush or brambles its
     wings make a whirring sound not unlike that of the bob white,
     accompanied by a slight twitter.

Mr. Brewster (1925) writes:

     Many years ago I expressed in print a belief that the whistling
     sound made by a rising woodcock is produced by the bird's wings.
     This conviction has since been confirmed by field experience at the
     lake with woodcock killed during the first half of September, and
     in varying conditions of moult. Such of them as still retained or
     had just renewed the attenuated outer primaries, almost always
     whistled when flushed, whereas no sound other than a dull
     fluttering one was ever heard from any of those not thus equipped.
     Hence I continue to hold firmly to the opinion that the woodcock's
     clear, silvery whistle emanates from these "whistling quills", as
     sportsmen fitly term them, and not from the bird's throat. There
     are, however, certain sounds, not very unlike those which combine
     to form the usual characteristic whistle, but more disconnected and
     twittering, which may be of vocal origin. One hears them oftenest
     from the woodcock hovering, just before alighting, or flitting low
     over the ground for trifling distances, beating their wings rather
     listlessly. This comparatively slow pulsation of the wings might
     account for the interrupted sequence of the sounds, but not
     perhaps, for their seemingly throaty quality.

Edward H. Forbush (1925) quotes three observers, as follows:

     Mr. W. H. Harris asserts that he held a woodcock by the bill which
     whistled three times with a rotary motion of body and wings. Mr. J.
     M. Dinsmore held a woodcock by the body and wings to prevent
     movement of these parts, and he says that this bird whistled
     through its mouth and throat. Mr. H. Austin avers that he flushed a
     woodcock that did not whistle, marked the bird and put him up again
     when he whistled, which indicates that the bird may have made the
     sound with its vocal equipment.

Fall.--The following from the pen of Mr. Forbush (1912) illustrates the
conditions which affect the fall flight:

     The flights of birds from the North have not diminished in number
     so much as have the native birds. Occasionally a large flight stops
     here, as in early November, 1908, when woodcock were plentiful
     here, and when some gunners in Connecticut secured from 20 to 40
     birds each in a day. This flight did not denote such an increase in
     the number of these birds, however, as generally was believed. The
     explanation is that they all came at once. The birds in Maine and
     the Provinces had a good breeding season, and they must have had a
     plentiful supply of food, for the autumn weather was mild, and they
     mostly remained in their northern homes until nearly the 1st of
     November. Flight birds were rare in Massachusetts up to that time,
     and the bags were small. The fall had been warm and dry, but on
     October 29 and 30 New England and the Provinces experienced a
     severe northeast storm along the seaboard, followed by a cold
     northwest wind, which probably froze up the northern feeding
     grounds, if the storm had not already buried them in snow. Either
     or both of these conditions drove the woodcock into southern New
     England. My correspondence shows that this flight landed in every
     county of Massachusetts except Dukes and Nantucket. As usual,
     comparatively few were seen in Barnstable County. Connecticut
     covers harbored many woodcock from about November 12 to November
     20. There were many in Rhode Island, and the flight was noted as
     far south as Delaware.

_Game._--It is as a game bird that the woodcock is best known, most
beloved, and most popular, for it is a prince among game birds, and its
flesh is a delight to the palate of an epicure. What sportsman will not
stop in his pursuit of other game to hunt some favorite corner, some
woodland border, or some brushy hillside where he has flushed this bird
of mystery before? And what a thrill he gets as the brown ball of
feathers suddenly flutters up from almost underfoot among the crisp
autumn leaves, dodging up through the branches with a whistled note of
warning, and flies away over the treetops! Perhaps he was too surprised
at first to shoot; but, if he marked it down, he can soon flush it
again, for it has not gone far; then, if he is quick and true at snap
shooting, he may pick up the coveted prize, admire the soft, warm, ruddy
breast, the pretty pattern of woodland lights and shades, the delicate
long bill, and the big liquid eyes. An aristocrat among game birds!

In the early days, when I first began shooting, summer woodcock shooting
was regularly practiced; the season opened in July, when the young birds
of late broods were not large enough to furnish good sport and were not
fit for the table. Moreover, the weather was often hot and the foliage
was dense, making it unsatisfactory for the sportsmen. The only excuse
for it was that it allowed some shooting in certain sections where local
birds departed early and where flight birds seldom occurred. It went far
towards exterminating local breeding birds in Massachusetts; it was bad
for all concerned, and it is well that it was abandoned.

From the above and other causes woodcocks have decreased alarmingly
during the past 50 years. One gets an impressive idea of the former
abundance of the birds by reading the quaint shooting tales of Frank
Forester, in which he boasts of having shot with a friend 125 birds in
one day and 70 the next day before noon, and this with the old-fashioned
muzzle-loading guns. His hunting trips were joyous occasions, in which
the noonday luncheon, washed down with ample draughts of applejack, held
a prominent place.

By far the best shooting is to be had on flight birds, which are big and
fat and strong on the wing. In warm weather they frequent the black
alder thickets where there are bunches of grass and weeds, or the
vicinity of brooks or springs where there is a growth of alders,
willows, and birches. On crisp, cold days in October they may be found
on sunny hillsides or ridges, among birches, bayberries, or
huckleberries, on the sunny edges of the woods, in cedar pastures, in
locust scrub, or even in old scrubby orchards. For shooting in thick
cover a light short-barreled gun that scatters well is desirable, for
snapshots at short range are often necessary. I prefer a light charge of
fine shot, which scatters more and does not tear the birds so badly. A
good dog adds much to the pleasure of hunting and is very helpful in
locating or retrieving birds. The birds will sometimes run for short
distances before a setter or pointer, and it is often necessary for the
shooter to flush his own bird, which may place him in a poor position to
shoot. Therefore a well-trained spaniel, which runs around close to the
shooter and flushes the birds, is generally more satisfactory.

For those who have no dog, or prefer to hunt without one, there is
another method of shooting woodcocks which can be practiced successfully
by one who is sufficiently familiar with their haunts and habits. From
their haunts on the uplands, where they rest during the day, the birds
fly through the open just before dark to their favorite feeding place
along some swampy run or boggy thicket, resorting regularly to the same
spot night after night. If the shooter knows of such a place, where the
birds are fairly plentiful, he can station himself there about sunset
and feel reasonably sure of a few shots during the brief time that the
birds are coming in. But increasing darkness soon makes shooting

_Enemies._--Like other ground nesting birds, woodcocks undoubtedly have
many natural enemies among the predatory animals and birds; but these
have always existed without detriment to the species. As has often been
said, predatory birds and animals destroy mainly the weak and diseased
individuals, which are the most easily caught; the stronger and more
vigorous individuals are more likely to escape and perpetuate a hardier
race, better fitted to survive.

The natural elements often take their toll in a wholesale destruction.
Arthur T. Wayne (1910) relates the effect of a cold wave on the coast of
South Carolina, February 13 and 14, 1899, when the thermometer dropped
to 14° and the ground was covered with deep snow; he writes:

     The woodcock arrived in countless thousands. Prior to their arrival
     I had seen but two birds the entire winter. They were everywhere
     and were completely bewildered. Tens of thousands were killed by
     would-be sportsmen, and thousands were frozen to death. The great
     majority were so emaciated that they were practically feathers and
     of course were unable to withstand the cold. One man killed 200
     pairs in a few hours, I shot a dozen birds. Late Tuesday afternoon
     I easily caught several birds on the snow and put them into a
     thawed spot on the edge of a swift running stream in order that
     they would not perish, but upon going to the place the next morning
     I found one frozen. These were fearfully emaciated and could
     scarcely fly. Two birds were killed in Charleston in Broad Street.
     It will be many years before this fine bird can establish itself
     under most favorable conditions.

Telegraph and other wires cause the death of thousands of birds.
Woodcocks migrate at night and fly low; if they strike head, bill, or
breast against a wire it means almost certain death. Many dead birds are
picked up under wires. Wires are increasing all the time and it is to be
hoped that the birds will learn to avoid them.

But the main cause of the woodcock's disappearance is excessive hunting
of a bird too easily killed, summer shooting in the North, and
wholesale slaughter during a long winter season in the South. A good
account of the barbarous sport, called fire hunting, as practiced in
Louisiana, is given by Dr. E. J. Lewis (1885), as follows:

     The shooter, armed with a double-barreled gun, and decked with a
     broad-brimmed palmetto hat, sallies forth on a foggy night to the
     "ridge," where the cocks are now feeding in wonderful numbers. His
     companion on these expeditions is generally a stout-built negro,
     bearing before him a species of old-fashioned warming pan, in which
     is deposited a goodly supply of pine knots. Having arrived on the
     ground, the cocks are soon heard whizzing about on every side; the
     pine knots are quickly kindled into a flame, and carried over the
     head of the negro. The shooter keeps as much as possible in the
     shade, with his broad-brimmed palmetto protecting his eyes from the
     glare, and follows close after the torch bearer, who walks slowly
     ahead. The cocks are soon seen sitting about on the ground, staring
     widely around in mute astonishment, not knowing what to do, and are
     easily knocked over with a slight pop of the gun, or more
     scientifically brought to the ground as they go booming off to the

     The lurid glare of the torch only extends to a distance of 20
     yards or so around the negro; the sportsman must, therefore, be on
     the _qui vive_ to knock the birds over as soon as they rise,
     otherwise they will immediately be shrouded in the impenetrable
     darkness of night.

     These excursions are carried on with great spirit, sometimes
     continue the whole night through, and the slaughter of the cocks
     is often very great; with an experienced "fire hunter" it is no
     unusual occurrence to bag in this way 50 couple before morning.


_Range._--The eastern United States and Canada.

_Breeding range._--North to southern Manitoba (Brandon, Portage la
Prairie, and Winnipeg); northern Michigan (Palmer, Sheldrake Lake, and
Mackinac Island); southern Ontario (Bracebridge, Madoc, and Ottawa);
southern Quebec (Montreal); southern New Brunswick (Grand Falls and
North River); and Nova Scotia (Pictou). East to Nova Scotia (Pictou,
Halifax, and Yarmouth); Maine (Rockland and Portland); Massachusetts
(Winchendon and Boston); Rhode Island (Newport); Connecticut (Saybrook);
New Jersey (Morristown, Laurenceville, Tuckerton, and Sea Isle City);
Maryland (Baltimore, and Cecil, Dorchester, and Worcester Counties);
District of Columbia (Washington); Virginia (Locustville, Norfolk, and
Lake Drummond); North Carolina (Walke and New Bern); South Carolina
(Summerville and Capers Island); Georgia (Savannah, Blackbeard Island,
Okefinokee Swamp, and St. Marys); and Florida (Jacksonville and
Micanopy). South to Florida (Micanopy and Tallahassee); Alabama
(Autaugaville and Pleasant Hill); Mississippi (Cedar Grove); Louisiana
(Covington); and Texas (Sour Lake). West to Texas (Sour Lake); Arkansas
(Clinton and Newport); eastern Kansas (Neosho Falls); eastern Nebraska
(London and West Point); southeastern South Dakota (Vermilion); probably
western Minnesota (Ortonville); eastern North Dakota (Larimore and
Bathgate); and southern Manitoba (Portage la Prairie).

Casual in summer west to Colorado (Boulder and Denver); Wyoming (Fort
Bridger); and Alberta (Edmonton). A chick also was reported as seen near
Indian Head, Newfoundland (Howe).

_Winter range._--North to northeastern Texas (Jefferson); Arkansas
(Stuttgart); probably Kentucky (Hickman); and rarely, North Carolina
(Raleigh). East to rarely North Carolina (Raleigh); South Carolina
(Charleston); and Florida (Gainesville, Fruitland Park, Lake Harney, and
Orlando). South to Florida (Orlando, Panasoffkee Lake, and Tallahassee);
Alabama (Autauga County); Mississippi (Biloxi); Louisiana (Covington,
Abbeville, and Mermenton); and southern Texas (Beaumont and Victoria).
West to Texas (Victoria, Hallettsville, and Jefferson).

Casual in winter north to Illinois (Mount Carmel); Indiana (Vincennes);
Ohio (New Bremen); Virginia (Falls Church); Maryland (Mardela); New
Jersey (Cape May, Haddonfield, and Plainfield); New York (Sing Sing and
Collins); Connecticut (Bridgeport, New Haven, and New London County);
and Massachusetts (Boston).

_Spring migration._--Early dates of arrival are District of Columbia,
Washington, February 6; Maryland, Barron Springs, February 5, and
Mardela Springs, February 14; Pennsylvania, Carlisle, February 27,
Nauvoo, March 4, Waynesburg, March 5, Port Province, March 7, Columbia,
March 9, Bristol, March 10, Norristown, March 11, Renovo, March 13,
Harrisburg, March 14, Philadelphia, March 15, Chambersburg, March 18,
Coatesville, March 21, and Erie, March 23; New Jersey, Maurice River
Light, February 15, Plainfield, February 22, Englewood, February 23, and
Morristown, February 28; New York, Middletown, March 1, New York City,
March 10, Shelter Island, March 10, Orient Point, March 12, Great West
Bay Light, March 12, Branchport, March 13, Stephentown, March 17,
Lansing, March 20, and Virgil, March 21; Connecticut, Portland, February
15, Plantsville, February 24, Bridgeport, February 27, Norwich, March 1,
Middletown, March 3, Unionville, March 10, and Fairfield, March 14;
Massachusetts, Groton, February 22, Rockdale, March 8, East Templeton,
March 11, and Rehoboth, March 15; Vermont, Rutland, March 7, and
Hydeville, March 25; New Hampshire, Monadnock, March 14, Manchester,
March 20, Peterboro, March 25, and Durham, April 1; Maine, Portland 13,
Farmington, March 16, Augusta, March 23, East Hebron, March 25,
Ellsworth, March 28, Lewiston, March 29, and Norway, April 5; Quebec,
Quebec, April 4, Neilsonville, April 15, and Montreal, April 21; New
Brunswick, St. John, March 21, Scotch Lake, March 29, and St. Andrews,
April 3; Nova Scotia, Halifax, March 10, and Wolfville, March 21;
Tennessee, Nashville, February 28, and Athens, March 1; Kentucky,
Eubank, February 15, Versailles, February 29, and Alexander Station,
March 15; Illinois, Odin, February 23, Quincy, March 3, Shawneetown,
March 4, Evanston, March 13, Olney, March 13, Rockford, March 15,
Fernwood, March 20, and Chicago, March 22; Indiana, Holman, February 16,
Frankfort, February 16, Bicknell, February 16, Waterloo, March 1, Terre
Haute, March 1, Red Key, March 9, Sedan, March 9, and Greencastle, March
10; Ohio, Cleveland, February 21, New Middleton, February 26, Hillsboro,
March 2, Granville, March 7, East Rockport, March 8, Columbus, March 8,
Oberlin, March 10, Lakewood, March 11, Sandusky, March 13; Michigan,
Petersburg, March 2, Battle Creek, March 9, Ann Arbor, March 17,
Detroit, March 24, and Norvell, March 31; Ontario, London, March 30,
Dunneville, March 21, Toronto, March 25, Yarker, March 29, St. Thomas,
March 30, and Sault Ste. Marie, April 3; Iowa, Keokuk, March 12, Mount
Pleasant, March 13, and Hillsboro, March 15; Wisconsin, Racine, March
25, Wauwatosa, March 26, and Milwaukee, March 24; Minnesota, Leech Lake,
March 30; and Kansas, North Topeka, March 21, and Lawrence, April 17.

_Fall migration._--Late dates of fall departure are: Kansas, North
Topeka, December 3; Minnesota, Hutchinson, November 3; Wisconsin,
Greenbush, November 2, and Delavan, November 6; Iowa, Sigourney,
November 3, Keokuk, November 16, Grinnell, November 27, and Ogden,
December 30; Ontario, Guelph, October 30, Ottawa, October 31, St.
Thomas, November 2, Plover Mills, November 5, Dunnville, November 6, and
Toronto, November 11; Michigan, Manchester, October 19, Vicksburg,
November 2, Livonia, November 11, and Ann Arbor, November 20; Ohio,
Sandusky, November 1, Huron, November 2, Kingsville, November 7,
Cleveland, November 8, Austinburg, November 10, and Grand Reservoir,
November 15; Indiana, Roanoke, November 10, and Greensburg, November 10;
Illinois, Lake Forest, October 20, Odin, October 28, La Grange, November
8, and Rantoul, December 6; Kentucky, Bardstown, November 18; Nova
Scotia, Pictou, October 29, Halifax, November 6, and Yarmouth, November
15; New Brunswick, St. John, November 13; Quebec, Montreal, November 4;
Maine, East Hebron, October 20, Skowhegan, October 26, Lewiston, October
27, Waterville, October 30, Winthrop, November 4, and Westbrook,
November 23; New Hampshire, Tilton, October 22; Vermont, Rutland,
November 3; Massachusetts, Rockdale, November 5, Boston, November 20,
Watertown, November 29, and Cambridge, December 8; Connecticut,
Middletown, November 16, Meriden, November 23, Hartford, November 24,
New Haven, November 26, and Portland, November 28; New York, Shelter
Island, November 10, Stephentown, November 16, Plattsburg, November 20,
Brooklyn, November 25, Wyandance, December 1, and Lawrence, December 8;
New Jersey, Camden, November 8, Demarest, November 17, Englewood,
November 24, Mahwah, November 26, Morristown, November 29, and
Bloomfield, November 30; Pennsylvania, Renovo, October 23, Erie,
November 14, Beaver, November 28, and Berwyn, December 6; Maryland,
Barron Springs, November 27, and Cumberland, December 12; and District
of Columbia, Washington, December 30.

_Casual records._--The woodcock has been detected outside of its regular
range on a few occasions, as follows: Bermuda, Hamilton, October 1842
and probably one at Hungry Bay, a few years later; Keewatin, York
Factory, last of August; northern Saskatchewan, Black River, August,
1892; and Montana, Billings, October 23, 1917.

_Egg dates._--New York: 20 records, April 4 to May 29; 10 records, April
11 to 25. Pennsylvania and New Jersey; 22 records, March 23 to May 1; 11
records, March 30 to April 17. Indiana and Illinois: 26 records March 26
to May 30; 13 records April 15 to 28. North Carolina: 2 records February
18 and March 29. Texas: 1 record January 20.




The European bird is so closely related to, being regarded now as only
subspecifically distinct from, our Wilson snipe that I shall not attempt
to write its full life history. The two birds resemble each other so
closely in all their habits that this would involve useless repetition
of much that I have written about the American bird.

The European snipe owes its place on our list to its occurrence,
probably casually, in Greenland. There is a specimen in the British
Museum that is supposed to have come from Canada, but its history is
doubtful. The snipe that breeds in Iceland and the Faroe Islands has
been separated, under the name _faeroeensis_, as subspecifically
distinct from the bird breeding in Great Britain and in continental
Europe. It seems quite likely that the Greenland records should be
referred to this form.

_Courtship._--Much study has been given to this subject by European
observers and differences of opinion still exist as to how the curious
winnowing sound or bleating is produced. While the normal time for
hearing this is during the spring months, it has been heard in February,
during the summer and even occasionally in the fall. Rev. Henry H.
Slater (1898) writes:

     Opinions differ widely as to the means by which this curious sound
     is produced. Meves declared that the tail feathers were the
     instrument, and claimed to have produced it artificially by the
     snipe's tail feathers fastened to the end of a long stick and swung
     through the air. Others hold that the tremulous motion of the tense
     wing feathers is the agency; a third theory is that the sound is
     vocal. The reader is at liberty to take his choice. I incline to
     the last, from analogy. I have seen the great snipe go through
     exactly the same evolutions at the nest, including the tremulous
     wings on the descending movement, and in perfect silence; I have
     watched the wood, the green, the broad-billed sandpipers, the
     Kentish plover, Temmick's and the little stint, and the red-necked
     phalarope, go through the same movements also at the nest, but in
     these cases the noise which accompanied the descending stage of the
     performance was unmistakably vocal.

Dr. Leonhard Stejneger (1885) was also much inclined to the vocal theory
when he wrote:

     Not only this power of the sound, but even more so the nature of
     the tune itself convinced me that it originates from the throat and
     not in any way either from the tail or the wing feathers, as
     suggested by many European writers. It is true that the wings are
     in a state of very rapid vibration during the oblique descent when
     the note is uttered, but this circumstance does not testify only in
     favor of the theory of the sound being produced by the wing, as the
     vibration most conclusively accounts for the quivering throat
     sound. Anybody stretching his arms out as if flying, and moving
     them rapidly up and down and simultaneously uttering any sound is
     bound to "bleat." Having heard, however, from my early days, of the
     wing or tail theories as the only orthodox ones, I did not feel
     convinced of the correctness of my own opinion until one evening I
     heard another bird of the same family produce a very similar note
     _while sitting on the ground_. Referring to the observation
     recorded under _Arquatella couesi_, I here only remark that the
     sound was so similar as to leave no doubt whatever in my mind that
     it had a similar origin in both cases. It may be that a snipe has
     never been observed bleating on the ground, but the fact that a so
     nearly allied bird is capable of producing essentially the same
     sound while in that position is an argument in favor of the more
     natural explanation of the sound originating from the organ which
     in almost all other instances is adapted to that purpose.

John M. Boraston (1903) gives an excellent account of this nuptial
flight, as follows:

     Another bird which the buoyant spirits of the breeding season urge
     into unusual prominence is the common snipe. About the pairing
     time, at the beginning of April, he may for some weeks be observed
     on the wing frequently throughout the day. At such times he
     describes great circles in the air at a considerable height, the
     rapidly beating wings carrying him round at a high speed. At
     regular intervals during this great circling flight the wings are
     laid out flat, the one inside the great circle the bird is
     describing being tilted up and that outside depressed. At the same
     moment the tail feathers are opened out so that the sky may be seen
     between them as between the fingers of an open hand. Immediately
     the wings and tail are so set, the tips of the former begin to
     vibrate, the tail feathers remaining rigid, and the bird strikes
     off at a tangent, curving outward and slipping downward from the
     normal path of its circular flight. It is this recurring tangential
     deviation which causes the circle of the snipe's flight to become
     so vast.

     During the outward curving, downward flight the snipe's strange
     humming note is heard, synchronizing precisely with the vibration
     of the tips of its wings. The bill is closed when the note is being
     emitted. The bird's great circular flight is thus made up of two
     subordinate flights--the plain flight and the humming flight--in
     regular succession. After having described three or four great
     circles, the snipe reverses its course and proceeds in the opposite
     direction; but it is to be observed that in its "humming" flight it
     still works always on its "outer edge," the wing outside the great
     circle being invariably the one to be depressed and the one upon
     which the bird turns in performing the tangential, outward curving,
     downward flight. The sound made by the snipe may be nearly imitated
     by laughing in the throat with the lips closed, and associates
     itself in my mind with that made by the puffin when returning laden
     with fish to his burrow. It is like hollow, mirthless laughter; the
     expression of a wild earnest joy by sounds which to human ears seem
     mournful rather than joyous, and therefore unnatural, uncanny,
     weird. The snipe has another amusing trick in flight; he will
     suddenly jerk himself to one side, throw his wings halfway back,
     and allow himself to fall like a lopsided shuttlecock, until, as
     suddenly recovering himself, he sets off again on his circular

Seton Gordon (1915) gives the following good description of the snipe's
tail, by which the sound is probably made:

     The tail feathers of the snipe are of so peculiar formation that it
     may be well to give here a description of them: In the first outer
     tail feather the shaft is exceptionally stiff and shaped like a
     saber. The rays of the web are strongly bound together and are very
     long--the longest, in fact, reaching nearly three-quarters of the
     whole length of the web. The rays lie along the shaft of the
     feather like the strings of a musical instrument. Other species of
     snipe possess four drumming feathers, and one species has no fewer
     than eight. The drumming feathers of the hen snipe are not as
     strong as those of the male.

_Eggs._--The European snipe normally lays four eggs, rarely five. These
are indistinguishable from eggs of our Wilson snipe. The measurements of
100 eggs, furnished by Rev. F. C. R. Jourdain, averaged 39.4 by 28.7
millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure =42.7= by 29,
39.3 by =30.3=, =35= by 28.4 and 36.3 by =26.7= millimeters.

_Young._--The period of incubation is about 20 days. Several observers
have reported seeing the snipe carry off her young between her legs, as
the woodcock is known to do.

Mr. Gordon (1915) writes:

     Although eminent authorities have stated that a snipe with a brood
     by her feigns lameness to distract attention, I have never found
     this to be the case, the bird invariably flying off as she does
     when sitting on her eggs.

     One warm July day I witnessed a very charming spectacle in a field
     bordering on a wide expanse of moorland. A kindred ornithologist
     and myself were seated at the edge of a wall overlooking the field
     when he became aware that a snipe was standing fearlessly in the
     long herbage a few yards from us. As we watched her, the bird came
     forward, and disappeared among some rushes bordering the wall. For
     the space of a minute or so she remained hidden, and we thought
     she had gone there to shelter, but presently she emerged from her
     obscurity, and following her closely were two small chicks. By
     comparison with the green grass these little people appeared
     almost black, so dark was their downy plumage. Their mother
     realized that danger was near, for she led them quickly away, but
     never turned to see whether her children were following her. They
     kept their position close behind her, although the pace for them
     was a quick one, and they were soon lost to sight behind a ridge.
     One realized how wonderfully obedient the chicks were: they were
     left in the rushes at the approach of danger, their mother having
     evidently enjoined them to remain concealed and without movement
     until she returned for them.

_Behavior._--An interesting account of the habits of a tame snipe,
reared in captivity, is published by Hugh Wormald (1909) to which I
would refer the reader.


_Breeding range._--Much of Europe and Asia. From Great Britain and
Scandinavia (up to 70° N.) throughout northern Europe and Siberia.
South, mainly in the mountains, to the Pyrenees, Alps, northern Italy,
southern Russia, Turkestan, Yarkand, and southeastern Mongolia. A few
breed in the Azores, northwestern Africa, and India. Replaced by allied
forms in Iceland, the Faroes, in tropical Africa, and in northeastern

_Winter range._--Great Britain, the Mediterranean basin, Madeira,
Canaries, Azores, Africa (south to Senegambia on the west and Abyssinia
on the east), Arabia, Sokotra, southern Asia, Japan, Borneo, Formosa,
and the Philippine Islands.

_Casual records._--The only North American record, a specimen said to
have been taken in Canada, is very doubtful. This and the Greenland and
Bermuda records are probably referrable to the Iceland form,

_Egg dates._--Great Britain: 70 records, March 3 to August 21; 35
records, April 29 to May 25. Iceland: 16 records, May 10 to June 6; 8
records, May 26 to June 3.




The above species, with its several varieties, enjoys a world-wide
distribution and is universally well known. The American subspecies is
widely distributed from coast to coast and occurs more or less commonly,
at one season or another, in nearly every part of North America. It was
formerly exceedingly abundant, but its numbers have been sadly depleted
during the past 50 years by excessive shooting. Alexander Wilson first
called attention to the characters, size, and number of tail feathers,
which distinguished our bird from the European. But they are so much
alike that it seems best to regard them as subspecies, rather than as
distinct species.

_Spring._--The snipe is an early migrant, leaving its winter quarters
just below the frost line, just as soon as the northern frost goes out
of the ground, about as early as the woodcock. When the warm spring
rains have softened the meadows, when the hylas have thawed out and are
peeping in the pond holes, when the cheerful _okalee_ of the redwings is
heard in the marshes and when the herring are running up the streams to
spawn, then we need not look in vain for the coming of the snipe. Low,
moist meadow lands, or wet pastures frequented by cattle, are favorite
haunts, where their splashings and borings are frequently seen among the
cow tracks. They are also found in high, bushy, wet pastures, or in the
vicinity of spring-fed brooks among scattered clumps of willows,
huckleberries or alders.

_Courtship._--On the wings of the south wind comes the first wisp of
snipe, the will-o-the-wisp of the marshes, here to-day and gone
to-morrow, coming and going under the cover of darkness. All through the
spring migration and all through the nesting season we may hear the
weird winnowing sound of the snipe's courtship flight, a tremulous
humming sound, loud and penetrating, audible at a long distance. One is
both thrilled and puzzled when he hears it for the first time, for it
seems like a disembodied sound, the sighing of some wandering spirit,
until the author is discovered, a mere speck, sweeping across the sky.
The sound resembles the noise made by a duck's wings in rapid flight, a
rapidly pulsating series of notes, _who, who, who, who, who, who, who,
who_, increasing and then decreasing again in intensity. It has been
termed the "bleating" of the snipe, but this does not seem to describe
it so well as "winnowing." J. R. Whitaker, with whom I hunted snipe in
Newfoundland, told me that both sexes indulge in this performance and
George M. Sutton (1923) suggested the possibility of it.

Dr. Joseph Grinnell (1900) gives the best account of this courtship
flight, as follows:

     I was in a broad grassy swale, studded here and there with scrub
     spruces and bordered by taller timber, when my attention was
     attracted by a curious far-off song which puzzled me for some time.
     Finally I descried the producer, a Wilson's snipe, so far overhead
     as to be scarcely discernible against the clear sky. It was flying
     slowly in a broad circle with a diameter of perhaps 600 yards, so
     that the direction of the sound was ever shifting, thus confusing
     me until I caught sight of its author. This lofty flight was not
     continuously on the same level, but consisted of a series of
     lengthy undulations or swoops. At the end of each swoop the bird
     would mount up to its former level. The drop at the beginning of
     the downward dive was with partly closed, quivering wings, but the
     succeeding rise was accomplished by a succession of rapid wing
     beats. The peculiar resonant song was a rolling series of syllables
     uttered during the downward swoop, and just before this drop merged
     into the following rise a rumbling and whirring sound became
     audible, accompanying the latter part of the song and finishing it.
     This curious song flight was kept up for 15 minutes, ending with a
     downward dash. But before the bird reached the ground and was yet
     some 20 yards above it there was apparently a complete collapse.
     The bird dropped as if shot for several feet, but abruptly
     recovered itself to fly a short distance farther and repeat this
     new maneuver. By a succession of these collapses, falls,
     recoveries, and short flights the acrobatically inclined bird
     finally reached the ground, alighting in the grass near me.

All of the early American writers, and many others since then, supposed
that the winnowing sound was made by the bird's wings, although many
European observers long ago argued that it was made by the two pairs of
outer tail feathers, which are widely spread and held downward at right
angles to the axis of the body during the downward swoops and vibrate as
the air rushes through them. W. L. Dawson (1923) says that--

     the body of the sound is produced by the impact of the air upon the
     sharp lateral feathers of the tail, held stiffly, while the
     pulsations of sound are produced by the wings. At least it is
     certain that the pulsations of sound are synchronous with the wing
     beats. The sound begins gradually, as while the tail is expanding,
     and closes with a smooth diminuendo as the tail is closing and
     while the wings are sailing.

N. S. Goss (1891) gives a different account of the courtship, as

     In courtship, the male struts with drooping wings and widespread
     tail around his mate, in a most captivating manner, often at such
     times rising spiral-like with quickly beating wings high in air,
     dropping back in a wavy graceful circle, uttering at the same time
     his jarring cackling love note, which, with the vibration of the
     wings upon the air, makes a rather pleasing sound.

Mr. Sutton (1923) noted some peculiar flight performances, which may be
connected with the courtship; he says:

     On April 29 two birds were repeatedly flushed together; not always
     the same two individuals necessarily, I presume, and not certainly
     of opposite sex. But these birds often sailed gracefully over the
     cattails, in wide sweeping undulations, with wings set in a manner
     suggesting chimney swifts, a type of flight totally different from
     any previously observed. The same stunt was many times observed in
     the male bird of the pair whose nest was located. In fact this type
     of display, if it were display, was so common that the usual
     twitching, erratic flight was only rarely seen. I have wondered if
     this may not have been a pair of birds, possibly recently mated,
     though not actually nesting there.

     On May 3, in a portion of the swamp near town, a new antic was
     observed. A snipe, subsequently determined as a male, sprang up
     close at hand, and after a few energetic, direct wing beats, put
     his wings high above his body and, describing a graceful arc,
     dropped toward the ground, his legs trailing, only to rise again
     to repeat the performance. Never during this exhibition did he
     actually touch the ground with his feet, so far as I could see,
     but it gave that impression. He was clearly excited, and I now
     know that such antics are a certain indication of nesting
     activity. At such times the male gave forth several short notes
     which may accurately be termed "bleats." Occasionally the bird,
     after performing this novel antic would drop to the grass some
     distance away, and then fly up after a time, considerably nearer
     me, making it evident that he was attempting to lure me away. Then
     again, after trying these antics for a time, he would suddenly
     mount to the sky, and there would follow a season of the weird
     wind music--always delightful.

Aretas A. Saunders, in his notes, says that--

     After the eggs are laid the female often answers this sound with a
     long call _okee okee okee_ repeated 8 or 10 times and resembling
     the "buckwheat" call of the guinea hen. I believe the female is
     sitting on the eggs when she calls this way, for I have found the
     nest by locating the position of the sound at night and returning
     in the morning. The nest is usually in about the center of the
     male's circle of flight.

_Nesting._--As with the woodcock my personal experience with the nesting
of the Wilson snipe has been limited to one nest, found in the Magdalen
Islands on June 18, 1904. The nest was found by watching the bird go to
it in the East Point marshes. It was on dry ground in a little clump of
grass, under some low and rather open bayberry bushes, on the edge of a
boggy arm of the marsh, which extended up into the woods; it was built
up about 2 inches above the ground and was made of short, dead straws
and dead bayberry leaves; it measured 6 inches in outside and 3 inches
in inside diameter. The four eggs which it contained blended perfectly
with their surroundings and although in plain sight, they were not
easily seen. P. B. Philipp (1925), who has found many snipe's nests in
the Magdalen Islands, where he says the species is increasing, writes:

     The nesting begins in the last 10 days of May, and is a simple
     affair. Usually wet marshy ground is selected, preferably with low
     brush and grass with lumps or tussocks rising above the bog water.
     The nest is a shallow hollow made in the grass or moss of one of
     these lumps, lined with broken bits of dead grass and sometimes
     with dead leaves.

William L. Kells (1906) gives a graphic account of finding a nest of the
Wilson snipe in southern Ontario, as follows:

     On the 17th of May, 1905, as I was passing through a patch of low
     ground overgrown with second growth willows, a rather large-sized
     bird flushed from a spot a few feet from where I had jumped over a
     neck of water. I did not see the exact place from which the bird
     had flown, but the fluttering sound of her wing caught my ear, and
     looking ahead I saw the creature, who with outspread tail and
     wings, was fluttering on the damp earth, and with her long bill
     down in the mud, was giving vent to a series of squeaking sounds. I
     knew at once that this bird had flushed from a nest, and that the
     object of her actions was to draw my attention from something that
     she was very desirous to conceal; but a little research revealed a
     nest containing four beautiful eggs. A clump of willows a little
     elevated stood about 6 feet from the pool over which the bird had
     flown, and midway between the water and the willows, which overhung
     it the nest was placed. This was simply a slight depression made by
     the bird in the moss and dry grass, and except from its concealed
     situation and being a little more expanded, there was no particular
     distinction between it and those of the more familiar killdeer
     plover and spotted sandpiper, though the lining was probably of a
     warmer texture, being of fine dry grass, while the eggs, as in the
     case of all the ground nesting waders, were arranged with the small
     ends inward.

A Colorado nest is thus described by Robert B. Rockwell (1912):

     This nest was located on (and above) the surface of slightly damp
     ground at the edge of a good-sized area of very soft, boggy land
     formed by the seepage under the dyke of the Big Barr Lake. It was
     built in the center of a tussock of grass about 8 inches in length
     and was a very neat, well-shaped, and cupped nest composed entirely
     of fine dry grass. In construction it was far superior to any shore
     bird's nest I have ever seen, being so compactly and strongly put
     together that it was possible to remove it from the nesting site
     without injury. In general appearance the nest itself is not unlike
     certain sparrows' nests.

A nest photographed for me by F. Seymour Hersey, near the mouth of the
Yukon River, Alaska, was in a very wet spot on the border of a marsh; it
was a deep hollow prettily arched over with dry grasses at the base of a
small willow bush.

The Wilson snipe is often a close sitter and sometimes will not leave
the nest until nearly trodden upon. W. J. Brown (1912) tells of a case
where he stroked the bird on the back and had to lift her off the nest
to photograph the eggs.

Mr. Sutton (1923) has published a full and very interesting account of
the breeding habits of the Wilson snipe in Crawford County,
Pennsylvania, where he found several nests in a large, wet swamp among
cattails and grasses; of the first nest he says:

     The nest was beautifully situated in the center of a clump of dried
     fern stalks--a clump similar to hundreds of just such little
     islands near at hand but certainly admirably suited to such a
     nesting site, for the eggs were almost completely surrounded at the
     short distance of 4 inches by a paling of dead fern stalks. The
     eggs were about 9 inches above water at this time, although the
     water's depth changed constantly with every rainfall, and five days
     later the outer rim of the nest was only 2 inches above water
     level. Another was built upon a bit of decayed, sunken log and was
     composed entirely of grass stems rather carefully laid together.
     The eggs were but a few inches above the surface of the water, and
     although grass stems connected the nesting site with other
     vegetation the nest was virtually on an island surrounded by water
     18 inches deep.

And of still another he says:

     This nest was the only snipe nest I have seen which had any real
     protection from above. The nest was so placed under a dead willow
     branch and some leaning cat-tail stalks that it was really
     difficult to see it. The grasses composing the nest had been placed
     with care and were somewhat woven about the cat-tail stalks and
     other grasses standing near.

_Eggs._--Four eggs is the normal number laid by the snipe; rarely five
eggs are laid. They are about ovate pyriform in shape and slightly
glossy. The ground colors vary from "buckthorn brown" or "Isabella
color" in the darkest types to "deep olive buff" or "dark olive buff" in
the lighter types, which are much commoner. As a rule the eggs are
boldly spotted and blotched, chiefly about the larger end; but often
they are spotted more or less evenly over the entire surface. The
markings are in dark shades of brown, "burnt umber," "bister," or "bone
brown." Often there are splashes or scrawls of brownish black, or black,
at the larger end. "Snuff brown," "vinaceous drab," or "brownish drab"
under spots or blotches often occur. The measurements of 57 eggs average
38.6 by 28.1 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure
=42.4= by 29.5, =36.1= by =29.9=, and 37.5 by =25.5= millimeters.

_Young._--The period of incubation is from 18 to 20 days, and it is
shared by both sexes. Mr. Philipp (1925) says that three birds taken
from the nest were all males. The young leave the nest soon after they
are hatched, and wander about in the long grass, where their concealing
coloration makes them very hard to find. One day, while watching snipe
with J. R. Whitaker on a large marsh near the mouth of Sandy River in
Newfoundland, I saw a snipe several times go down into the grass at a
certain place. Thinking to find a nest there I made a careful search,
and finally found one small downy young; but not another one could I
find in a long hunt. This moist meadow full of grassy hummocks is a
great breeding place for snipe. Here we frequently saw snipe sitting in
trees, bushes, or on telegraph poles, uttering their loud _kep kep kep_
notes of protest. On the girders of a steel bridge that spans the river
at this point Mr. Whitaker has seen as many as five snipe perched at one

Mr. Sutton (1923) describes the behavior of an anxious mother as

     The mother's antics so claimed my attention that I did not keep
     close enough watch of the young, and eventually was unable to find
     them. I hesitated to tramp about much at the time for fear of
     stepping upon them. The mother bird grunted and clucked incessantly
     and fell upon her side uttering weird cries, and beating her wings
     pitiably. At times she would dart into the air and circle about in
     great haste, very close to me and alight in the tall grass, whence
     she would run gracefully away until she was again plainly in view.
     As she ran about her head was held rather stiffly, and it seemed
     that moving it from side to side much caused her inconvenience. In
     fact once or twice a definite impression was given that she was
     carrying something in her mouth, her head was held at such a
     strained angle.

_Plumages._--The young snipe in its dark and richly-colored natal down
is one of the handsomest of the young waders. The upper parts, including
the crown, back, wings, and thighs, are variegated or marbled with
velvety black, "bay," "chestnut," and "amber brown"; the down is mainly
black at the base and brown-tipped; the entire upper parts are spotted
with small round white spots at the tips of some of the down filaments,
producing a beautiful effect of color contrasts and a surprisingly
protective coloration. The head is distinctively marked with a white
spot on the forehead, a black crescent above it and a black triangle
below it, partially concealed by brown tips; there is a distinct black
loral stripe, extending faintly beyond the eye, and a less distinct
black malar stripe; between these two is a conspicuous, large, white,
cheek patch. The chin and upper throat are "light ochraceous buff";
below this on the lower throat is a large sooty-black area, partially
concealed by brown tips, these "tawny" brown tips predominating on the
breast and flanks, and shading off to "pale pinkish cinnamon" on the

The juvenal plumage appears first on the back and scapulars, then on the
breast and wing coverts. A bird in my collection, about half grown has
the above parts well feathered and the remiges one-third grown; but the
head and rump are still downy and the rectrices have not yet started.
The juvenal plumage is like the adult, except that the buff edgings of
the feathers on the sides of the back and the scapulars, forming the
stripes, are narrower and paler, sometimes almost white on the outer
webs. The body feathers and some of the scapulars and tertials are
molted during the fall, making the young bird almost indistinguishable
from the adult.

Both young birds and adults have a partial prenuptial molt in the late
winter and early spring, involving the contour feathers, wing coverts,
tertials, and the tail. Adults have a complete molt between July and
October. The spring and fall plumages are alike except that the fresh
fall plumage is somewhat more richly colored.

_Food._--The feeding habits of the Wilson snipe are much like those of
the woodcock, except that it often feeds in much wetter places and is
somewhat less nocturnal. Benjamin T. Gault (1902) discovered by
observation that snipe occasionally resort to open mud flats, unmindful
of the cover of darkness and that they feed at all hours of the day. He
describes their method of feeding as follows:

     The snipe seemed to select as special feeding grounds the water
     line just bordering the flats, where the mud was soft and into
     which they delighted in sinking their bills to the fullest depth.
     And in withdrawing them they never elevated their necks in true
     sandpiper style. On the contrary they kept their heads well
     "chucked down," so to speak, and in moving about from place to
     place, which they seldom did, however, continue to hold them in the
     same fashion.

     In some respect their probing methods resembled the rooting of
     swine--a simple, up and down forward movement, and if remembered
     rightly, without lateral twists or side thrusts of any kind, and
     at times exposing fully one-half of the bill.

     Whether the Wilson snipe actually do resort to the so-called
     "suction" method of procuring their food is a question still
     undetermined in my mind. The glasses however brought out the
     important information that the probing or feeling movements of the
     bill were accompanied every now and then with a guttural or
     swallowing motion of the throat, which at times developed into a
     decided gulp, as though large morsels of some kind were being
     taken down, and this _without the removal of the bill from the

Henry W. Henshaw (1875) describes an entirely different method of
feeding; he says:

     In migrating, however, especially in Arizona and New Mexico, did it
     depend wholly upon its usual methods of obtaining sustenance, it
     would fare badly, since, in some sections, there is a total lack of
     meadow and marsh, and then it may be seen in broad midday running
     along the sandy borders of the streams, and picking up from among
     the pebbles and _débris_ any tidbits in the shape of insects it can
     find. It retains, however, even under these adverse conditions, its
     habit of squatting, and, when approached closely I have seen it
     lower its body close to the ground, shrink as it were into as
     little space as possible, and so remain till I was within a few
     feet, when it would get up with its well known _scaip_, _scaip_,
     and, following the turns and sinuosities of the streams, endeavor
     to find some little covered nook into which it could drop out of

M. P. Skinner watched a snipe feeding on the muddy shore of a pond in
the Yellowstone Valley; he says in his notes:

     He was about 6 inches from shore and at each stroke his bill went
     in up to his eyes. The strokes were rapid like those of a
     woodpecker. He covered a space perhaps 4 inches wide and 15 feet
     long in an hour, getting something every half dozen strokes or so.
     He was very busy there for two hours at least.

Earthworms probably constitute the principal food of the Wilson snipe,
but it also eats cutworms, wireworms, leaches, grasshoppers, locusts,
beetles, mosquitoes, other insects and their larvae, and some seeds of
marsh plants.

_Behavior._--Snipe are notorious for their erratic flight and they
often, probably usually, do dodge and zigzag when they first flush in
alarm, but not always; I have seen them fly away as steadily as any
other shore bird. Snipe usually lie closely crouched on the ground
trusting to their excellent protective coloration, and do not flush
until nearly trodden upon; so that in their hurry to get away their
flight is erratic. When well under way their flight is steady and swift
with the occasional turnings common to all shore birds. When first
flushed they generally fly low, but when flying from one part of a marsh
to another, or when migrating, they fly very high. When alighting they
pitch down suddenly from a great height and then flutter down slowly
into the grass or drop straight down with wings elevated and bill
pointing upwards. They are less gregarious than other waders; they
usually flush singly, but often within a few yards of each other if
plentiful. They are seldom seen in flocks. John T. Nichols tells me in
his notes of a flock of seven which he saw on Long Island:

     They were flying high from the east to west, the regular southward
     lane for shore birds, and bunched up like dowitchers or yellow-legs
     as they circled over the marsh, then slanted down obliquely (as
     these other birds would have done) to alight on a piece of dead
     stubble. By the time I reached them they had scattered somewhat;
     four (scattered) and three (bunched) flushed from this spot in
     close succession, and went off into the southwest. The migration of
     the snipe may be mostly by night; it certainly flies to some extent
     along the coast by day.

And Harry S. Swarth (1922) says:

     While the usual manner of occurrence was for a single bird to be
     flushed, or perhaps two or three within a few square yards, there
     were times when snipe were noted in small flocks, almost like
     sandpipers in their actions. Groups of 10 or 12 individuals were
     seen circling about through the air in close formation and wheeling
     or turning in perfect unison. At such times almost the only thing
     to betray the identity of the birds was the call note, uttered at
     frequent intervals. At no time, however, did birds flushed from the
     ground depart in flock formation.

On the ground the snipe moves about deliberately with bill pointing
downwards. If alarmed it squats for concealment before jumping into
flight when hard pressed; the longitudinal stripes on its back and head
so closely resemble prostrate stems of dead grass that the bird is
difficult to distinguish. Mr. Skinner "saw one alight and run rapidly
along the ground for 20 feet, erect with head high, like a running bob
white." C. J. Pennock watched one standing on a bare mud flat with "a
continued up and down rhythmic movement of the entire body." E. H.
Forbush (1925) writes:

     The snipe can swim and dive and uses both wings and feet under
     water in its efforts to escape. Mr. Will H. Parsons writes that he
     shot one that fell into a little clear streamlet where later he
     found it dead, under water, grasping a rootlet in its bill. Later,
     on the Scioto River, as he relates, he shot another which fell into
     the river, and, turning, swam back toward the shore. On seeing him
     approach it dived, and he saw it grasp a weed with its bill. Wading
     in he secured the bird "stone dead."

_Voice._--Eliminating the winnowing flight notes, which are
unquestionably instrumental, the Wilson snipe has a variety of vocal
notes. The one most often heard is the familiar _scaipe_ note, a note of
alarm and warning, given as the bird rises in hurried flight. This note
has been variously expressed in writing, perhaps best by the word
"escape", which the snipe often does, unless the sportsman is smart
enough to say "no you don't," and prove it. "On the breeding grounds we
frequently hear its loud notes of protest, uttered while it is flying
about or perched on some tree or post; these are in the form of a loud
clear whistle, like _wheat wheat wheat wheat_ or more subdued in tone
like _whuck whuck whuck whuck_; they are always rapidly uttered and
usually consist of four or five notes. E. W. Nelson (1887) refers to a
similar note heard on the breeding grounds, as _yak yak yak yak_ in
quick, energetic, explosive syllables. At the time when the bird is
uttering its note, it flies along within a short distance of the ground
with a peculiar jerky movement of the body and wings as every note is

Mr. Nichols says in his notes:

     When a bird gets up almost from underfoot, the _scape_ is at times
     replaced by a series of short, hurried notes of similar character.
     It is interesting to find in the Wilson's snipe this imperfect
     differentiation of a note uttered at the moment of taking wing from
     one uttered when in or approaching full flight--as it is a
     condition slightly different from the calls of other more social
     shore birds which trust comparatively little to concealment, take
     wing while danger is still at a distance with hurried minor notes,
     so soft as to readily escape notice, and have each a loud
     diagnostic flight call of much service in their identification.

      The _scape_ of the snipe has sufficient resemblance to the
      woodcock's _peent_, which forms a part of the nuptial performance
      of that species, to leave little doubt that the two are homologous
      (that is, of the same derivation), if we assume snipe and woodcock
      to be related. It is, however, more analogous (that is, of
      corresponding place or purpose) with the wing twitter of the
      woodcock. Its harsh quality is in keeping with the voices of
      unrelated denisons of marsh and swamp, herons, rails, frogs, etc.,
      and the discords of close-by bog sounds continually in its ears.
      The quality of the snipe's call contrasts sharply with the
      peculiarly clear, mellow whistle of the black-breasted plover, for
      instance, and ringing calls of species of similar habit, with
      carrying power over the open distances of their haunts. The
      connecting series of limicoline voices, through the reedy calls of
      such marsh-loving birds as the pectoral sandpiper, leaves little
      doubt that there is a correlation between habitat and quality of

In some notes from Alaska, he writes:

     July 17, on the slope of a low, gentle, tundra hill a little way
     back from the shore, ahead of me a snipe fluttered up a short
     distance, then down; up, then down; accompanying this performance
     with _chup chup chup chup chup chew chew chew chew chew_. It
     alighted in a comparatively open space with a couple of small bog
     holes of water, surrounded with a circle of scrub willows, and here
     I presently flushed it again. It rose with a _chape_ note, more
     muffled and reedy than the ordinary Wilson snipe _scape_, and,
     curving downwind, rose higher, attaining considerable elevation in
     the distance, as I followed it with my glass. It now began to
     zigzag up and down, maintaining approximately its position in the
     sky to leeward. Meanwhile I heard an unfamiliar more or less
     whistled _peep-er-weep_ once or twice, and an intermittent
     winnowing sound, _wish wish wish wish wish_, etc. Being uncertain
     as to whether these sounds came from the distant snipe, or from
     some other bird closer at hand in the air, I took my glasses off
     the former to look about me, and as I feared I should do, lost
     track of it in the sky. Presently the winnowing ceased and I began
     to hear a continuous harsh _cuta-cuta-cuta-cuta_ from over the brow
     of the hill, which turned out to be a snipe, presumably the same
     one which had returned, standing on top of the only stake

_Field marks._--The Wilson snipe should be easily recognized by its long
bill, its erratic flight, its conspicuous stripes, and the rufous near
the end of its tail. The harsh _scaipe_ note is diagnostic. It might be
confused with the dowitcher, but the flight, notes, and usual haunts of
the latter are different. I have often thought that the pectoral
sandpiper resembles the snipe, as it rises from the grass, but it lacks
the long bill, and is not so conspicuously striped on the back.

_Fall._--The fall migration of snipe is dependent on the weather, the
first early frosts are apt to start them along; when the brilliant red
leaves of the swamp maples add their touch of color to the marshes, and
when the vegetation in the meadows begins to take on the rich hues of
autumn, then we may look for the coming of the snipe. They are by no
means confined to fresh-water marshes at this season. I have
occasionally flushed a Wilson snipe on the salt marshes of Cape Cod, and
have frequently found them on the dry grassy shores of islands in inland

Wells W. Cooke (1914) says:

     They seem reluctant to return south in fall, even though they can
     have no appreciation of the constant persecution which awaits them
     during the six months' sojourn in their winter home. A few migrants
     appear in the northern part of the United States in early
     September, and, moving slowly southward, reach the southern part of
     the Gulf States shortly after the middle of October. Soon the main
     body of the birds follows, and all normally keep south of the line
     of frozen ground. Yet every winter some laggards remain much
     farther north, feeding about springs or streams. A few can usually
     be found on Cape Cod, Mass., while in the Rocky Mountains, near
     Sweetwater Lake, Colorado, the presence of warm springs has enabled
     snipe to remain throughout an entire winter, though the air
     temperature fell to 30° F. below zero.

Mr. Brewster (1906) writes:

     During exceptionally wet autumns snipe occasionally resort in large
     numbers to the highly cultivated truck farms of Arlington and
     Belmont. An interesting instance of this happened in September,
     1875, when a flight, larger than any that I have known to occur in
     the Cambridge region before or since, settled in some water-soaked
     fields covered with crops of corn, potatoes, cabbages, etc., on the
     Hittinger farm, Belmont. Learning of the presence of these birds
     about a week after their arrival, I visited the place early the
     next morning, but all save 10 or a dozen of them had departed,
     owing no doubt, to the fact that there had been a hard frost during
     the preceding night. The borings and other signs which they had
     left convinced me, however, that the statement made to me at the
     time by Mr. Jacob Hittinger, to the effect that he had started
     _four or five hundred snipe_ there only the day before, was
     probably not an exaggeration of the truth.

_Game._--The Wilson snipe, improperly called "jack snipe," but more
properly called "English snipe," is one of our most popular game birds.
Probably more snipe have been killed by sportsmen than any other game
bird. It ranks ahead of all other shore birds and upland game birds
except, possibly, the woodcock, ruffed grouse, and quail. When the
startling cry of the snipe arouses the sportsman to instant action he
realizes that he is up against a real gamey proposition. He must be a
good shot indeed to make a creditable score against such quick erratic
flyers. A tramp over the open meadows, brown, red, and golden in their
autumn livery, with one or two good dogs quartering the ground in plain
sight and with an occasional shot at a swiftly flying bird, is one of
the delights of a crisp autumn day. The birds will lie closely on a calm
day, but on a windy, blustering day they are restless and wild. It is
well to hunt down wind as the birds usually rise against the wind and
will fly towards and then quartering away from the shooter. When two men
hunt along a narrow marsh, the man on the windward side will get most of
the shooting. Snipe are usually shot on wet meadows or marshes, but that
they are often found in other places is shown by the following
quotations from Dwight W. Huntington (1903):

     Audubon says the snipe is never found in the woods, but Forester
     mentions finding it in wild, windy weather early in the season in
     the skirts of moist woodlands under sheltered lee sides of young
     plantations, among willow, alder, and brier brakes, and, in short,
     wherever there is good, soft, springy feeding ground perfectly
     sheltered and protected from the wind by trees and shrubbery.

     Abbott says: "During the autumn I have found them along neglected
     meadow ditches overhung by large willow trees, and again hidden in
     the reeds along the banks of creeks. I have shot them repeatedly
     in wet woodland meadows. I have often found snipe in bushy tracts
     and among the swamp willows, but I have never seen them in the
     forest, and believe they so rarely resort to the woods that it
     would not be worth while to seek them there."

Snipe must have been exceedingly abundant 50 or 60 years ago, as the
oft-quoted achievements of James J. Pringle (1899) will illustrate. He
was not a market hunter but a gentleman (?) sportsman, who shot for the
fun of it and gave the birds away to his friends. His excuses for
excessive slaughter and his apologies for not killing more are
interesting; he writes:

     The birds being such great migrants, and only in the country for a
     short time, I had no mercy on them and killed all I could, for a
     snipe once missed might never be seen again.

     I shot with only one gun at a time; had no loader, but loaded my
     gun myself; had I shot with two guns and had a loader I would, of
     course, have killed a great many more birds, but in those days and
     in those parts it was impossible to get a man that could be
     trusted to load.

During the 20 years from 1867 to 1887 he shot, on his favorite hunting
grounds in Louisiana, 69,087 snipe and a total of 71,859 of all game
birds; but his shooting fell off during the next 10 years for he
increased his grand total of snipe to only 78,602 and of all game birds
to only 82,101! His best day, undoubtedly a world's record, was December
11, 1877, when he shot in six hours 366 snipe and 8 other birds. On his
best seven consecutive shooting days, alternate days in December, 1877,
he killed 1,943 snipe and 25 other birds. During the winter of 1874-75
he killed 6,615 snipe. Captain Bogardus, the famous trap shot, killed,
with the help of a friend, 340 snipe on one day in Illinois, and seldom
got less than 150 on good days. With such excessive shooting all through
the fall, winter, and spring, is it to be wondered at that the snipe
have decreased in numbers?

_Winter._--As mentioned above snipe spend the winters in small numbers
as far north as they can find unfrozen marshes and spring holes, but
their main winter resorts are in the Southern States, the West Indies,
and northern South America. They were formerly enormously abundant in
the marshes and savannas of Florida and the other Gulf States, where
they are still common in winter. C. J. Pennock tells me that they are
still abundant all winter about St. Marks, Florida, his earliest and
latest dates being September 12 and May 10. Arthur T. Wayne (1910) says
that, in South Carolina, the snipe "are most abundant during the months
of February and March, and at that time multitudes frequent the rice
plantations, provided the water is not too deep over the land." J. H.
Bowles (1918) says that in Washington "cold weather does not seem to
bother them much. On January 1, 1916, when all fresh-water marshes were
frozen over, large numbers of them gathered on the Tacoma Flats." Mr.
Skinner writes to me that in Yellowstone Park they are found in winter
along creeks and rivers kept open by warm springs and on ground
overflowed by warm water from the hot springs.

Aiken and Warren (1914) tell of the winter habits of the Wilson snipe,
in El Paso County, Colorado, as follows:

     Fountain Creek rarely freezes over entirely below its exit from the
     mountains, and along its banks there are many places where water
     that runs through the sand comes to the surface and forms springy
     holes and marshy meadows which are warmer than surface water. These
     become the winter feeding grounds for the snipe and one or a pair
     often content themselves with a very small area of muck. But at
     times of severe cold many of the smaller holes freeze and then the
     snipe concentrate at places where a larger flow of water keeps the
     holes open. On January 15, 1908, with 6 inches of snow on the
     ground and below zero weather Aiken visited a small beaver pond on
     the Skinner ranch 6 miles south of Colorado Springs. A bit of marsh
     above the pond and a short stretch of ooze along the outlet below
     remained open, and in this small area of one-fourth of an acre were
     25 to 30 snipe. Some years ago a snipe was found running upon the
     ice when everything in the vicinity was frozen solid. A few snipe
     winter along banks of streams in the mountains.

     That snipe know enough to protect themselves from storms may be
     illustrated by narrating here one of Aiken's experiences in Utah
     about 20 years ago. He was beating a snipe marsh near one edge of
     which extended a narrow arroyo or gully in which were some trees
     and bushes. The weather had been fair until without warning a
     heavy snow storm set in. At once snipe began to rise wildly from
     different parts of the marsh and one after another directed their
     flight toward the same point in the arroyo and dove between its
     banks. Upon investigation 8 or 10 snipe were found together in a
     little cave in the side of the arroyo that was partly hidden by
     bushes so that they were well protected from any storm. We
     conclude this was not the first time the snipe had resorted to
     this friendly shelter since they knew so well where to go.


_Range._--North America, Central America, the West Indies, and northern
South America. Accidental in the Hawaiian Islands.

_Breeding range._--North to Alaska (Shumagin Islands, Bethel, St.
Michael, Nome, Kowak River, Cape Smith, and Fort Yukon); Mackenzie (La
Pierre House, Fort Anderson, Dease River, and Fort Smith); northeastern
Manitoba (Fort Churchill); northern Ontario (Cape Henrietta Maria);
Ungava (Fort George and Great Whale River); Labrador (Nain); and
Newfoundland (Halls Bay, Grand Lake, and St. Johns). East to Labrador
(Nain); Newfoundland (St. Johns); eastern Quebec (Magdalen Islands);
Nova Scotia (Baddeck and Halifax); Maine (Calais and Waldo County);
Massachusetts (Salem and Brookline); Connecticut (Portland); New York
(Croton Falls); New Jersey (Newfoundland, Norristown, Trenton); and
southeastern Pennsylvania (Mill Grove). South to southeastern
Pennsylvania (Mill Grove); northwestern Pennsylvania (Meadville);
northern Ohio (Fremont); northern Indiana (Miami, English Lake, and
Cedar Lake); northern Illinois (Hinsdale and Winnebago); Iowa (Sabula,
Grinnell, and Boone); Colorado (Estes Park, Barr, San Luis Lake, and
Silverton); Utah (Parleys Park and Fairfield); southwestern Idaho
(Nampa); and northern California (Sierra Valley and Shasta Valley). West
to northern California (Shasta Valley); Oregon (Fort Klamath, Corvallis,
and Salem); Washington (Yakima and Olympia); British Columbia
(Chilliwack, Vancouver, and Metlakatla); and Alaska (Sitka, Kodiak,
Nushagak, and Shumagin Islands).

Wilson's snipe also have been detected in summer north to Chimo, Ungava,
Hopedale, Labrador, and Sandwich Bay, Quebec, and have been found
lingering (probably non-breeders) south to Chloride, New Mexico, and
Corpus Christi and San Angelo, Texas, while there is one breeding record
for northern Los Angeles County, California (Mailliard, 1914).

_Winter range._--The Wilson snipe winters regularly north to Washington
(Tacoma); British Columbia (Chilliwack and Okanagan Landing); Wyoming
(Yellowstone Park); Colorado (El Paso County); southern Arizona (Tucson
and Fort Huachuca); southern New Mexico (Rio Mimbres); Texas (Austin,
Kerrville, and Bonham); Oklahoma (Caddo); Arkansas (Fayetteville and
Stuttgart); Alabama (Coosada and Montgomery County); central North
Carolina (Raleigh); and southeastern Virginia (Virginia Beach); eastern
North Carolina (Pea Islands); Bermuda; South Carolina (Charleston);
Georgia (Savannah and Blackbeard Island); Florida (Canaveral, Orlando,
Kissimmee, and Royal Palm Hammock); Bahama Islands (New Providence,
Watling Islands, and Great Inagua); Porto Rico (Guanica Lagoon); and the
Lesser Antilles (Antigua, St. Vincent, Barbados, Grenada, and Trinidad).
South to the Lesser Antilles (Trinidad); northern Venezuela (Caracas);
Brazil (Rio de Janeiro); Colombia (Medellin and Puerto Berrio); and
Panama (Frijole and Chitra). West to Panama (Chitra and the Canal Zone);
Costa Rica (San Jose); Nicaragua (Greytown and the Escondido River);
Honduras (Comayagua and Manatee Lagoon); Guatemala (Duenas and Atitlan);
Mexico (Guanajuato, Escuinapa, Mazatlan, San Jose del Cabo, and Colonia
Diaz); California (Salton Sea, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and
Eureka); and Washington (Tacoma).

It also has been known to winter (where warm springs or other factors
assure open water) north to Nevada (Paradise), Utah (Provo), Montana
(Terry, Helena, and near Bozeman), Wyoming (Como and Cody), Colorado
(Fountain Creek, Sweetwater Lake, Clear Creek near Denver, and near
Julesburg), Nebraska (Holt, Sioux, Dawes, and Cherry Counties, and along
the Missouri River), North Dakota (Fort Yates), Iowa (Hancock County),
Wisconsin (Milwaukee), Michigan (Grand Rapids), southern Ontario
(Barrie), Ohio (Granville), New York (Oneida, Onondaga Lake,
Poughkeepsie, Ithaca, New York City, and Long Island), Connecticut
(Portland and New Haven), Massachusetts (Jamaica Plain, near Boston,
Peabody, Hancock, and Cape Cod), and Nova Scotia (Wolfville). It has
been detected in Alaska at Wrangell, on November 11, 1920, and at Craig,
on December 7, 1919.

_Spring migration._--Early dates of arrival in the spring are: District
of Columbia, Washington, February 17; Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, March
7, Harrisburg, March 11, Carlisle, March 18, Berwyn, March 21, and
Meadville, March 22; New Jersey, Fort Mott, March 16, and Pennsville,
March 20; New York, Syracuse, February 26, Branchport, March 5, Orient
Point, March 12, Buffalo, March 13, Brockport, March 18, Lansing, March
29, Oswego, April 1, and Ithaca, April 3; Connecticut, Portland, March
18, and New Haven, March 19; Massachusetts, Lynn, March 2, Newburyport,
March 8, Boston, March 19, Somerset, March 21, and Salem, March 21;
Vermont, Rutland, April 2; Maine, Farmington, April 6, and Lewiston,
April 8; Quebec, Quebec, April 18, Montreal, April 19, and Godbout, May
5; New Brunswick, Scotch Lake, April 5, Petitcodiac, April 27, and
Chatham, April 28; Nova Scotia, Halifax, April 5, Pictou, April 11, and
Kentville, April 19; Kentucky, Bowling Green, February 24, Guthrie,
February 25, and Russellville, February 26; Missouri, St. Louis,
February 17, Old Orchard, February 20, Chillicothe, March 2, Jonesburg,
March 11, and Kansas City, March 14; Illinois, Lebanon, February 11,
Odin, March 6, Addison, March 10, Carlinville, March 11, Englewood,
March 15, Morgan Park, March 17, Rockford, March 19, and Wheaton, March
26; Indiana, Bicknell, February 13, Greensburg, February 28, Frankfort,
March 4, Greencastle, March 5, Bloomington, March 6, Brookville, March
7, Terre Haute, March 9, Vincennes, March 11, and Waterloo, March 12;
Ohio, Granville, March 3, Cleveland, March 4, Columbus, March 8, Hudson,
March 11, Sandusky, March 13, Oberlin, March 15, and New Bremen, March
18; Michigan, Ann Arbor, March 6, Vicksburg, March 18, Hillsdale, March
21, Kalamazoo, March 22, Battle Creek, March 24, Manchester, March 25,
and Detroit, March 28; Ontario, Dunnville, March 24, Madoc, March 29,
Queensboro, March 30, and Listowel, April 1; Iowa, Sabula, March 15,
Boone, March 17, Grinnell, March 18, Keokuk, March 18, Coralville, March
19, Wall Lake, March 22, Cedar Rapids, March 23, and Sioux City, March
28; Wisconsin. Hillside, March 16, Madison, March 18, Elkhorn, March 19,
Waukesha, March 20, Delavan, March 23, and Racine, March 24; Minnesota,
Hutchinson, March 30, Minneapolis, March 29, Heron Lake, April 1, and
Elk River, April 2; Oklahoma, Copan, March 8; Kansas, Emporia, March 14,
Independence, March 19, and Wichita, March 19; Nebraska, Falls City,
March 15, and Badger, March 25; South Dakota, Forestburg, March 12,
Huron, March 15, and Sioux Falls, March 15; North Dakota, Fargo, April
15, Larimore, April 16, Lisbon, April 18, and Grafton, April 19;
Manitoba, Greenridge, April 2, Dalton, April 8, Reaburn, April 9,
Margaret, April 10, Aweme, April 14, and Shell River, April 16;
Saskatchewan, Qu'Appelle, April 9, and Indian Head, April 20; Colorado,
Denver, March 10, Boulder, March 19, and Sweetwater Lake, March 26;
Wyoming, Yellowstone Park, March 16; Idaho, Neeley, March 24, Meridian,
April 9, and Payette Lake, April 17; Montana, Missoula, March 4, Helena,
March 12, and Columbia Falls, March 27; Alberta, Onoway, April 13,
Carvel, April 15, and Edmonton, April 21; and Mackenzie, Fort
Providence, May 2, and Fort Simpson, May 10.

Late dates of departure in the spring are: Costa Rica, February 16;
Haiti, April 13; Florida, Tallahassee, April 10, Fruitland Park, April
10, Gainesville, April 15, and St. Marks, May 10; Georgia, Cumberland,
April 14, and Savannah, April 15; South Carolina, Columbia, April 19,
and Charleston, May 1; Chihuahua, Lake Palomas, April 8; Lower
California, Colnett, April 8, and Salton River, April 19; and Texas,
Kerrville, April 11, Bonham, April 30, and Austin, April 30.

_Fall migration._--Early dates of arrival in the fall are: Texas,
Tivoli, August 19; Lower California, San Jose del Cabo, August 28;
Chihuahua, Janos River, September 5, and Chuechupa, September 19;
Sonora, August 19; South Carolina, Frogmore, September 10; Georgia,
Savannah, September 15; Florida, St. Marks, September 12; Lesser
Antilles, St. Croix, September 24, and Barbadoes, October 11; Porto
Rico, Guanica Lagoon, September 29; Costa Rica, October 9; and Panama,
Canal Zone, October 7.

Late dates of departure in the fall are: Montana, Big Sandy, October 24,
and Missoula, December 5; Idaho, Meridian, November 21, and Ketchum,
December 20; Wyoming, Sundance, November 25, and Yellowstone Park,
December 9; Utah, Provo, November 25; Colorado, Greeley, November 3, and
Boulder, December 24; Manitoba, Killarney, October 24, Aweme, November
5, and Margaret, November 10; North Dakota, Chase Lake, October 21,
Westhope, November 3, and Marstonmoor, November 3; South Dakota,
Harrison, October 24, and Sioux Falls, November 22; Nebraska, Falls
City, November 20, Crawford, December 7, and Broken Bow, December 12;
Kansas, Independence, December 13; Minnesota, Elk River, November 1,
Jackson, November 6, Parkers Prairie, November 7, Fort Snelling,
November 13, and Heron Lake, November 14; Wisconsin, Unity, November 3,
Madison, November 6, Elkhorn, November 8, Shiocton, November 13, North
Freedom, November 14, and Milwaukee, November 15; Iowa, Davenport,
November 2, Grinnell, November 4, Hillsboro, November 11, Indianola,
November 15, Marshalltown, November 18, Wall Lake, November 28, and
Keokuk, November 28; Ontario, Toronto, October 29, Longpoint, November
2, Windsor, November 9, Kingston, November 12, Ottawa, November 17, and
Point Pelee, November 21; Michigan, Hillsdale, November 3, Ann Arbor,
November 5, Manistee, November 7, Manchester, November 12, Detroit,
November 15, and Vicksburg, December 30; Ohio, Scio, November 6, Salem,
November 16, Oberlin, November 22, Youngstown, November 21, Sandusky,
December 2, and Cleveland, December 29; Indiana, Bloomington, October
24, Bicknell, November 9, and Lyons, November 25; Illinois, Glen Ellyn,
November 4, Canton, November 8, Fernwood, November 13, Lawrenceville,
November 15, Elgin, November 17, and La Grange, November 23; Missouri,
St. Louis, November 21, and St. Charles County, December 14; Nova
Scotia, Pictou, October 24, and Halifax, December 3; New Brunswick,
Scotch Lake, October 20, and St. John, November 5; Quebec, Quebec,
November 5, and Montreal, November 13; Maine, Lewiston, November 5,
Ellsworth, November 8, and Portland, November 15; Massachusetts, East
Templeton, November 23, Salem, November 25, Lynn, December 20, and
Belchertown, December 20; Rhode Island, Newport, December 3;
Connecticut, New Haven, December 1, Portland, December 7, and Lakeville,
December 28; New York, Geneva, November 3, West Winfield, November 13,
Fair Haven Light, November 17, Branchport, November 24, Shelter Island,
November 29, Madison County, December 10, and Orient Point, December
20; New Jersey, Bloomfield, November 1, Camden, November 7, Egg Island,
November 8, and Pennsville, December 1; Pennsylvania, Berwyn, November
1, and Erie, November 21; and District of Columbia, Washington, December

_Casual records._--A Wilson's snipe was killed at Naaleho Plantation,
Kau, Hawaiian Islands, several years prior to 1900 and a second was
reported as seen in the same locality in the fall of the same year
(Henshaw, 1902). It also has been reported as taken in Great Britain,
but the record is too doubtful to warrant serious consideration.

_Egg dates._--Magdalen Islands: 36 records, June 1 to 27; 18 records,
June 3 to 14. Alberta: 39 records, May 16 to July; 20 records, May 28 to
June 10. Utah: 48 records, May 8 to July 24; 24 records, May 12 to June



_Contributed by Francis Charles Robert Jourdain_


The claim of this species to a place on the American list rests on a
specimen obtained from the Hudson's Bay Company in Canada many years ago
and now in the collection of the British Museum. Its breeding home is in
Northern Europe and Asia, but on migration and during the winter months
it has been met with in the British Isles, throughout southern Europe
and Africa south to the Cape Province, as well as southern Asia from
India westward. Unlike the common snipe, it frequently occurs singly and
is by no means confined to marshy spots, but may be met with on rough
pastures, moorlands, and fields. To this characteristic it owes its name
of "solitary snipe."

_Spring._--On the northward migration it is of very rare occurrence in
the British Isles, and has only been recorded on a few occasions in
Morocco, but of regular occurrence in south Spain; but is not uncommon
on passage in Malta in April and May and occurs in small numbers in
Italy in April and May and in Corfu and Epirus in March, also migrating
in greater numbers along the west coast of the Black Sea. Probably the
majority of the birds which visit South Africa make their way northward
along the east side of the Continent. The northerly movement begins in
Natal in January or February, so that it extends over a period of four
or five months.

_Courtship._--Observations on the courtship of this species are not
numerous, for it is nocturnal in its habits and, except during the
mating season, decidedly unsociable. In western Europe there has been a
great diminution of the breeding stock of late years. Jutland, which was
at one time a well-known breeding place, has long been entirely
deserted, and it is necessary to visit the morasses of Scandinavia and
Esthonia or Finland and Russia before one can make the acquaintance of
this species in any numbers on its nesting ground. Unlike the common and
jack snipe, there are no aerial evolutions to call attention to the
display, but the whole is conducted on the ground between sunset and
sunrise; and as the notes of the birds are not loud, it may well be
imagined that it may readily be overlooked. The number of birds which
attend at the "Spil," as it is called in Norway, or "Tok" (Russian),
varies from eight to a dozen pairs to twenty or more in districts where
the birds are comparatively common. Here late in May the males may be
heard uttering low warbling notes, producing also sounds which have been
compared to those made by running the nail along the teeth of a comb,
and snapping their bills together, evidently in defiance. The display
consists in expanding the tail like a fan and turning it over toward the
back, the white outer feathers standing out conspicuously, with drooping
wings and depressed and retracted head. In this attitude they perform a
kind of dance, slowly at first, but becoming more and more rapid, and
generally culminating in a series of fights between the rivals.

R. Collett, who furnished a long and detailed description of the
procedure at one of these "leks" to Dresser (1871), is of opinion that
the fighting is not of a serious character and consists chiefly of
feeble slashes with the wings, but the Russian naturalist Alphéraky, a
translation of whose interesting paper on the subject appeared in the
Field for 1906 (p. 1075) with an illustration of the display, describes
the ground as often strewn with feathers after these encounters. In the
more northern latitudes there is of course little darkness, but there is
a consensus of opinion that the display dies down about midnight and
commences again as it becomes lighter. Alphéraky ascribes this to the
arrival of the females on the scene. Clear and bright nights are most
favorable for this performance, which seems to have some points of
resemblance to that of the ruff and some to that of the black grouse
(_Lyrurus tetrix_), but a series of observations are required before we
can reconcile the discrepancies and fill up the gaps in the
descriptions. According to Collett there is a period in the display when
the bird is in a kind of ecstasy and produces a series of varied notes
beginning with a whistle or two, followed by a snapping noise with five
or six notes in rapid succession, then a hissing sound, followed by a
rolling _sbirrrr_, which becomes deeper as uttered. A number of birds
displaying at the same time produces a low continuous chorus of varied
sounds. This is the more remarkable as the great snipe is at other
seasons a particularly silent bird, and indeed is rarely heard to utter
a sound of any kind, usually rising in silence.

_Nesting._--The sites vary according to locality. In Jutland they were
usually on grassy flats, but in Scandinavia generally on broken ground
with birch scrub here and there. Here the female scratches a hollow
among the moss and deposits her four handsome eggs. F. and P. Godman
(1861), who found several nests in the Bodö district, Norway, discovered
one which had an incomplete set of two eggs. On returning two days later
to the spot nothing was visible but some disarranged bits of moss.
Alarmed by their approach the bird flew off, leaving a hole in the moss
through which the eggs were visible. On a third visit the bird was found
incubating the two eggs, which were on the point of hatching, and was
covered with fragments of moss which she had evidently torn up and
thrown over herself. None of the other nests found were concealed in any

_Eggs._--These are normally four in number, though occasionally three
may be met with. They are pyriform in shape with a pale stone colored
ground and boldly spotted and blotched with dark umber, shading into
black and numerous ashy gray shell markings. The markings are usually
denser and more concentrated at the big end, often with a tendency to a
zone. The measurements of 100 eggs from northern Europe (69 by the
writer, 19 by Goebel, and 12 by Rey) average 45.3 by 31.8 millimeters;
the eggs showing the four extremes measure =48.8= by 31.9, 46.2 by
=33.3=, =41.2= by 31.7, and 46.5 by =29.5= millimeters. Rey (1905) gives
the average weight as 1.107 g. and Goebel as 1.035 g.

_Young._--As to the share of the sexes in incubation our information is
scanty; but, such as it is, goes to prove that it is conducted by the
female alone. Naumann (1887) gives the period as 17 to 18 days and
states that as soon as the young are dried they leave the nest and take
to the long grass which effectually conceals them.

_Plumages._--The reader is referred to A Practical Handbook of British
Birds, edited by H. F. Witherby (1920), where a complete account of the
plumages and molts of this species is given.

_Food._--Naumann (1887) records small worms, insect larvae, small
snails, coleoptera, water insects, and larvae of Phryganeidae. Yarrell
(1871) includes larvae of insects, especially Tipulidae, and small slugs
as well as worms. These last seem to form the staple diet.

_Behavior._--The family parties soon break up and from late autumn to
its arrival on the breeding grounds it is more likely to be met with
singly than in company. Its flight is not so rapid as that of the common
snipe, but slower and more direct, while instead of uttering the well
known _scape_, it either rises in silence or merely utters a guttural
croaking note.

_Fall._--More frequently met with in the British Isles on the autumn
migration from the end of July to mid-November than in spring, but
probably frequently overlooked. By the beginning of August the young are
full grown normally, and gradually make their way from the high north in
Norway southward, the majority of migrants taking an easterly course and
only a small proportion moving south-westward to the winter quarters.


_Breeding range._--Norway, north to Tromsö, Sweden, to latitude 65° N.,
formerly in Denmark but now extinct, as also in Schleswig. It is said to
have bred formerly in Holland and still does so in East Prussia and
eastward to Estonia, Finland, Russia, according to Buturlin, up to
latitude 63° near the Great Lakes, 65-1/2° on the White Sea, and 67-1/2°
in the Petchora, while southward it is said to breed in Bessarabia
(Rumania) and in the Governments of Kieff, Poltava, Kharkoff, and
Voronsh, and to 51-1/2° N. in the Urals as well as in the Caucasus. In
Asia it breeds near Omsk, in the Altai and the tributaries of the Ob,
but not beyond the Yenesei or in East Siberia.

_Winter range._--Cape Province, Natal, Transvaal (September to March),
Damara Land, Bechuana Land, Portuguese East Africa, Southwest Africa,
Persia, Turkestan, and India (once).

_Migration._--River Zambesi, Egypt (not uncommon), Alexandria, etc.,
Algeria, Greece (April 23, May 7), Cyprus, Corfu (March), Malta (March
30), Naples, Corsica (March 25), Valencia (October 9), Montenegro (April
15, 24), Asia Minor (May 9, Sept. 21), Fao, Persian Gulf, Iraq (April,
Aug., Sept.).

_Egg dates._--Formerly in Denmark from May 6 to June 8 (12 records),
occasionally in July; in Scandinavia from end of May to middle of July
(10 records, June 13 to July 15).



_Contributed by Francis Charles Robert Jourdain_


Sometime during the spring of 1919, probably in April, a specimen of
this snipe was taken by a native on St. Paul Island, Pribilof Islands,
Alaska, and presented to G. Dallas Hanna. The bird is now in the
collection of the California Academy of Sciences, and constitutes the
only record for North America. It is, however, a widely distributed
species, breeding not only in Arctic Europe, but also across the
greater part of northern Asia, and wintering south to north Africa and
southern Asia.

_Courtship._--Of the courtship actions in the strict sense of the words
we have practically no observations, as this species has rarely been
kept in captivity and then singly and for short periods. The nuptial
flight is, however, more conspicuous and was described in the oft-quoted
letter of John Wolley, written from Muoniovara on November 27th, 1853,
to W. C. Hewitson (1856), and published in the third edition of
"Coloured Illustrations of the Eggs of British Birds" by that writer. To
Wolley belongs the credit of being the first to discover and bring to
the knowledge of naturalists the eggs of this species, for the eggs
previously ascribed to this species from localities much farther south
were not by any means satisfactorily authenticated. Wolley had been for
some time at his headquarters on the borders of Sweden and what is now
Finland, when, on June 17th, 1853, while working the great marsh at
Muonioniska, he first heard the jack snipe, though as he states:

     At the time I could not at all guess what it was--an extraordinary
     sound unlike anything I had heard before. I could not tell from
     what direction it came, and it filled me with a curious suspense.
     My Finnish interpreter thought it was a Capercally (_Tetrao
     urogallus_) and at the time I could not contradict him; but soon I
     found that it was a small bird gliding at a wild pace at a great
     height over the marsh. I know not how better to describe the noise
     than by likening it to the cantering of a horse in the distance
     over a hard hollow road; it came in fours with a similar cadence
     and a like clear, yet hollow, sound. The same day we found a nest
     which seemed of a kind unknown to me. The next morning I went to
     Kharto-uoma with a good strength of beaters. I kept them as well as
     I could in line, myself in the middle, my Swedish traveling
     companion on one side, and the Finn talker on the other. Whenever a
     bird was put off its nest the man who saw it was to pass on the
     word and the whole line was to stand whilst I went to examine the
     eggs and take them at once or observe the bearings of the spot for
     another visit as might be necessary. We had not been many hours in
     the marsh when I saw a bird get up before Herr Saloman, and I
     marked it down. In the meantime the nest was found and when I came
     up the owner was declared to have appeared striped on the back and
     not white over the tail. A sight of the eggs, as they lay
     untouched, raised my expectations to the highest pitch. I went to
     the spot where I had marked the bird, put it up again, found that
     it was indeed a jack snipe, and again saw it after a short, low
     flight drop suddenly into cover; once more it rose a few feet from
     where it had settled, I fired and in a minute had in my hand a true
     jack snipe, the undoubted parent of the nest of eggs. In the course
     of the day and night I found three more nests and examined the
     birds of each. One allowed me to touch it with my hand before it
     rose, and another only got up when my foot was within 6 inches of
     it. It was very fortunate that I was thus able satisfactorily to
     identify so fine a series of eggs, for they differ considerably
     from one another.

The great German ornithologist Naumann (1887) also describes the
nuptial flight, as observed by him in still weather on spring
evenings; as scarcely audible at over a hundred paces and recalling the
tapping noise made by the death-watch beetle. He writes the sound as
"_Tettettettettett_," etc., and says each note lasts six seconds at a
time, as the bird sweeps over the marsh now rising and then falling in
tone as it is uttered.

V. Russon, the Estonian ornithologist, also observed the flight on a
marsh near Kurkull, in Estonia, and noticed that the snipe rose high in
the air and gradually descended again after a flight of several hundred
yards. He compares the sound to the words: "_Lok-toggi, lok-toggi,
lok-toggi_," which certainly agree with the impression given by Wolley's
graphic description. He says the local names current in the district are
derived from the resemblance the bird's notes bear to the rattle of a
dilapidated wagon wheel. In the night the jack snipe is silent, but the
display begins again with the first glimmering of dawn, but does not as
a rule last long. The note described by Naumann he only heard on two
occasions just before the bird settled in the swamp and believed it to
be caused by rapid snapping of the bill.

_Nesting._--Like the common snipe, the jack snipe breeds in the marshes,
choosing a slight hollow in a fairly dry, grassy, or sedge-grown spot,
but close to open swamp. Wolley describes the five nests seen by him as
being all alike in structure, "made loosely of little pieces of grass
and equisetum not at all woven together, with a few old leaves of the
dwarf birch." It is an extremely close sitter, not stirring from its
eggs till almost trodden on, while one bird actually allowed Wolley to
touch it with his hand before it flew. The breeding season is late, for
eggs are rarely met with before mid-June and have been recorded
throughout July and even in August.

Ralph Chislett (1927) has published his recent experience with the
nesting habits of the jack snipe, from which the following is quoted:

     The wide marsh stretched for a number of miles between the
     birch-clad slopes of some low hills. From the hillsides, at
     intervals, open sheets of water of varying dimensions could be
     seen, and a fringe of the birch forest stretched almost down to a
     small, peaty pool. Through the woodland fringe a stream hurried,
     clear and cold with melted snow from the hill. Leaving the stream
     at a place where yellow globe-flowers grew in profusion, we
     followed the ridges of soft ground which intersected the marsh.
     Progress was impeded by scrub-willow, while hummocks of moss and
     mounds of crowberry and vaccinium overlay the peat foundation of
     the ridge, many of the hummocks being white with cloudberry blooms.
     Between the ridges in the marshy tracts grass grew thinly through
     the moss, and still more thinly in the centers, where our feet were
     brought up firmly at a depth of eighteen inches by the still frozen
     bottom. Later in the summer the marshes would probably be deeper.

     Not more than two hundred yards from the wood, a ridge sank and
     allowed the surplus water from one flattened area of grassy marsh
     to drain through to the next. On the north side of the trickle the
     ground rose slowly to the full height of the ridge again, perhaps a
     yard above the marsh-level. Midway up the little slope, on a dry
     bit of ground, a few stalks of scrub-birch partially shielded the
     jack snipe from view as it sat on the nest by the side of a
     cloudberry plant. Not that shelter was needed. The nest would never
     have been found had my foot not happened to drop within a few
     inches of it. Then away the bird flew, with a low, almost direct
     flight, without any sudden twists for some twenty yards, then down
     into the marsh. When flushed it disappeared from view into the
     marsh and was not seen again until within a few feet of the nest.
     Once, when spotted a couple of yards away, it covered that short
     distance a foot at a time, crouching down for a few seconds between
     each very short journey; then, still crouching, it covered the eggs
     and remained motionless.

     The nest was found on June 12th, 1926, and it then contained four
     eggs. The last time I inspected it was on July 6th, when the eggs
     were cracking at their larger ends.

_Eggs._--The eggs are extraordinarily large for the size of the bird,
being but little smaller than those of the common snipe (_Capella
gallinago_). They are, as a rule, more or less distinctly pyriform and
are normally four in number. The ordinary types vary in ground color
from "chamois" to "cream buff" in the buff types and "olive-lake" or
"corn-olive" to "olive-buff" in the green types. As a rule, the markings
are somewhat smaller and more uniformly distributed than in common
snipes' eggs. They are in some shade of light or dark brown, such as
"tawny," "russet-vinaceous," "chocolate," "liver," or "chestnut brown";
the underlying markings, which are numerous and conspicuous in some
cases, are in various shades of "purple drab" or "drab-grey." The spiral
smears, so frequently found in common snipes' eggs, seem to be absent
from those of the jack snipe, and, though there are some cases of wide
variation in coloring, a series will be found to be browner and less
bold in markings than a corresponding number of the common species. The
measurements of 146 eggs average 38.53 by 27.37 millimeters; the eggs
showing the four extremes measure =44.5= by 28.5, 40 by =30=, =35= by 27
and 38 by =25.5= millimeters. Rey (1905) states that the shells are
somewhat thinner and lighter than with the common snipe and gives the
average weight as 660 grams.

_Plumages._--The downy plumage is described by Dresser (1871) as
follows, from a nestling obtained at Muonioniska:

     Entire upper parts richly varied, deep rufous and black, dotted
     here and there with white; a buffy white streak passes from the
     forehead over the eye; below this is a dark-brown streak covering
     the lores to the eye; from the base of the lower mandible another
     white streak passes below the eye and one also from the chin (which
     is buffy white) along the side of the head to the nape; underparts
     dark-reddish brown, slightly varied with blackish brown; bill and
     legs much developed.

For descriptions of subsequent plumages and molts the reader is referred
to "A Practical Handbook of British Birds," edited by H. F. Witherby

_Food._--Probably consists mainly of worms, with a considerable mixture
of insects and some vegetable matter (seeds, etc.). Naumann (1887)
remarks that he has several times found grass seeds in stomachs and
believes that vegetable matter is taken as well as insects and worms.
Newstead records Coleoptera (3 cases), Mollusca (_Tellina_ and _Helix_,
2 cases), vegetable matter (grass, etc.), sand, and pebbles. Cordeaux
found fragments of fresh-water shells and a few bivalves (_Pisidia_),
while Saxby met with plant fibers and mud.

_Behavior and voice._--The jack snipe is an extremely silent bird, and
to a great extent, solitary, outside the breeding season. The noises
made during the nuptial flight have already been dealt with, but it is
characteristic of the species that when flushed, unlike the common
snipe, it nearly always rises in silence. Naumann, however, writes that
on rare occasions, generally toward evening, a weak, high-pitched note
may be uttered, like "_Kitz_" or "_Kutz_," which he compares to a bat's
squeak. One may, however, put up twenty birds one after another without
hearing anything, though very rarely a single "_ahtch_" is uttered, much
more softly than the corresponding note of the common snipe. On being
flushed it dashes off quickly with unsteady flight, but pitches again
before rising to any height, and, except on migration or on its breeding
ground, usually flies low.

_Field marks._--Its solitary habits and small size are the best field
characters, combined with the fact that it is not shy and usually rises
at very short range, so that one gets a good view of it before it
pitches again at no great distance, where it can be flushed again. The
almost invariable absence of any note on rising is very characteristic.


_Breeding range._--Scandinavian Lapland and Finland south to about
latitude 64°. In Germany it is said to have bred in various localities
from Schleswig Holstein to East Prussia, but there is no doubt that most
of these records, if not all, are not, and can never be, satisfactorily
authenticated. It does, however, breed in the Baltic Republics (Estonia
and Latvia) and apparently in North Poland, while in Russia it breeds on
the tundra south to the Governments of Perm, Kazan, Vologda, Jaroslav,
Vladimir, Orel, Tula, and Tver. In Asia, though absent from the extreme
north of Siberia, it is found in the Arctic Zone south to Tobolsk and
north to the Boganida (lat. 70°), while eastward it ranges to the Kolyma

_Winter range._--While a few birds remain in favorable localities or
mild weather at short distances south of their breeding quarters, the
main body migrates through Europe south to the countries bordering the
Mediterranean and its islands (Balearic Isles, Corsica, Sardinia, Malta,
Sicily, Ionian Isles, Crete, Cyprus, etc.). In Africa it is met with in
all the countries on the northern littoral from Morocco to Egypt; also
up the Nile Valley to the Blue Nile (Lakes Nakuru and Naivasha), and
sparingly to Kenya Colony. In Asia from West Palestine, South Iraq,
Persia, Afghanistan, throughout India, Ceylon, Burma, China (scarce),
Formosa, and Japan. In the Canaries it occurs only on passage in small

_Spring migration._--In south Spain, end of February and early March;
Corsica, February (late date March 27); Greece, February (late dates
March 2 and 19); Italy, April and early May (latest date beginning of
June); Cyprus, end of March and early April (late date April 16). In the
British Isles the passage lasts from the end of March to the third week
of May (late date June, North Uist); in Denmark, April; south Sweden
from end of March to middle of April; in Hungary they leave about the
end of March; and have been noted in Russia in the Caucasus, the Kirghis
Steppes, and the Urals. In Asia they remain in Iraq to April 7; Sind,
early April. Arrival noted on the Boganida June 8. In Africa, Morocco
(February), Tunisia (February, March), Abyssinia (February), and Egypt

_Fall migration._--In the British Isles from mid September to end
November (early dates, August 12, 1910, Norfolk; August 20, 1910, Essex;
August 1, Norfolk). Heligoland (September and October); also met with in
practically all European countries, reaching south Spain (November, end
October, or early November). In Asia recorded from Asia Minor,
Transjordania (October), arriving Sind (early October) and India

_Casual records._--Once recorded from the Faeroes (1910); also on
Madeira (March 15, 1889); Andaman Isles (once), as well as on the
Pribilof Isles.

_Egg dates._--June 4 to 12 (2 records); 14 to 21 (8 records); 22 to 30
(2 records); July 1 to 14 (3 records); 15 to 28 (4 records); 29 to
August 2 (2 records).




The dowitcher, or, as I should prefer to see it called, the red-breasted
snipe, occurs as a species entirely across the American continent. The
long-billed dowitcher, the western form, was originally described as a
distinct, full species; it has since been reduced to the rank of a
subspecies, because of very evident intergradation; and now some very
good ornithologists are in doubt as to the propriety of recognizing the
two varieties in nomenclature at all, because no distinctly different
breeding ranges for the two forms have been established, and typical
(so-called) eastern birds have never been found breeding anywhere. What
few breeding birds have come from Alaska and northern Mackenzie all seem
to be _scolopaceus_, but _griseus_ may still be found breeding there
when we have larger series. I have had considerable correspondence with
Prof. William Rowan about the breeding dowitchers of Alberta, including
interchange of specimens. He seems to think that the Alberta birds are
constantly distinct from either _griseus_ or _scolopaceus_ and perhaps
worthy of a name. It seems to me that they are strictly intermediate and
should not be named. In a letter recently received from P. A. Taverner
he seems inclined to recognize the Alberta bird as a "short-billed bird
resembling the eastern most, but intermediate, and with spotting
characters different from either."

On migrations, and in winter, both forms are found entirely across the
continent. The best that can be said is that _griseus_ is more common on
the Atlantic and _scolopaceus_ is more common on the Pacific coast. Dr.
Louis B. Bishop, with whom I have discussed this question, is inclined
to call one a mutant of the other; he has some 200 dowitchers in his
collection, from all parts of the country, those from the Atlantic and
Pacific coasts being about equally divided and the two forms being about
equally represented. In analyzing his series, taking into account length
of bill, length of wing and brightness of color, he finds that: of
_griseus_, 86 per cent are from the Atlantic coast, 2 per cent from the
interior, and 12 per cent from the Pacific coast; and of _scolopaceus_,
14 per cent are from the Atlantic coast, 30 per cent from the interior,
and 56 per cent from the Pacific coast. While collecting near Pasadena,
California, on April 25, 1923, he shot into a large flock of dowitchers
and picked up nine birds, all but one of which were typical _griseus,_
in bill, wing, and color.

_Spring._--The last of the dowitchers which winter in Florida, or
migrate through there, leave for the north during May, though a general
northward movement has been going on during April. The earliest birds
sometimes reach Massachusetts by May 1, but usually the main flight
comes along about May 20 and lasts for about ten days. Audubon (1840)
observed large numbers of this species flying eastward along the coasts
of Louisiana and Texas during April. And Arthur T. Wayne (1910) says
that "these birds migrate to their breeding grounds in the far north
between May 1 and 15, and when the tide is low in the afternoon and a
light southerly wind prevails, flock after flock can be seen migrating
in a northwesterly direction. I have yet to see these birds migrate
along the coast line in the spring." This would seem to indicate an
overland route from South Carolina, in addition to the Atlantic coast
route referred to above. Professor Rowan writes to me that dowitchers
are common on both migrations in Alberta, and says:

     In a long series of spring and fall skins, there is every gradation
     from the supposed typical eastern form (_griseus_) to the so-called
     long-billed form (_scolopaceus_). Bill lengths and colors do not
     correspond as they are supposed to do. As far as this district is
     concerned, there is absolutely no evidence in support of the
     splitting of this species into two races. The only two really
     long-billed birds that have been taken, were deliberately collected
     from a flock as their bills were so obviously longer than those of
     their companions even in life. Intermediate lengths, forming a
     nicely graded series, have been secured. The colors and markings of
     the spring birds are infinite in variety, and do not correspond to
     the bill lengths that should go with them.

There is a northward migration through the interior, in which this form
is undoubtedly represented, but to what extent it is hard to tell, as it
is impossible to separate all the records. Both forms are recorded on
migrations in California and British Columbia.

_Courtship._--Richard C. Harlow has sent me some brief notes on the
courtship of this species, as seen on its breeding grounds in Alberta.
There were at least eight pairs of birds in the vicinity and they kept
up their courtships until he left on June 9. The males apparently
outnumber the females, for at least two females were seen surrounded by
little groups of three or four males, frequently singing and displaying.
"The male frequently strutted like a woodcock and displayed, and several
times arose and gave his flight song, a clear, liquid, musical,
contralto gurgle." Professor Rowan thinks that both sexes indulge in
this song.

_Nesting._--The breeding range of the eastern dowitcher is imperfectly
known or not known at all, unless we include the birds which breed in
Alberta under this form, where in my opinion they belong. Prof. Wells W.
Cooke (1912) writes:

     The nest and eggs of the dowitcher are not yet known to science,
     nor has the species been seen in summer at any place where it was
     probably breeding. The dowitcher is a common migrant on the coasts
     of New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, and in
     fall is sometimes very abundant. Farther north its numbers
     decrease: New Hampshire, tolerably common in fall, no spring
     records; Maine, tolerably common spring and fall; Quebec, rare
     migrant; New Brunswick, no records; Nova Scotia, once (Sharpe);
     Prince Edward Island, once; Ungava, a few in August, 1860, at
     Henley Harbor (Coues), one June 10, 1883, at Fort Chimo (Turner).
     North of Ungava, the only record is that of a single accidental
     occurrence at Fiskenaes, Greenland (Reinhardt). Evidently the
     dowitcher does not breed in any numbers, on the eastern coast of
     Ungava. The probability that it does not breed there at all is
     strengthened by the fact that several first-class observers, who
     during the fall migration were in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, did not
     see any of the birds. It undoubtedly does not go into northeastern
     Keewatin and the islands of the Province of Franklin, for it is not
     reported by the various expeditions that have traveled and wintered
     in those districts, while the specimens taken on the west coast of
     Hudson Bay belong to the form called scolopaceus. The only district
     left for the breeding ground is the interior of Ungava and the
     eastern shore of Hudson Bay.

W. E. Clyde Todd, who has probably done more field work than anyone else
on the east coast of Hudson Bay, writes to me:

     Replying to your query about the dowitcher, it is my opinion that
     this species does not breed in the interior of northern Ungava, but
     I admit I have nothing to prove it one way or the other. It seems
     to me, though, that if it did breed there, it would be far more
     common than it is at the southern end of James Bay in migration,
     instead of being one of the rarer kinds. I never saw it anywhere
     north of this part, but then I have not been in northern Ungava in
     the breeding season.

Turner's record of a single bird at Fort Chimo, on June 10, 1883, seems
to be the only peg on which to hang the Ungava theory; and this may have
been a straggler. The Alberta birds are somewhat intermediate; and
probably typical _griseus_, if there is any such thing, will be found
breeding somewhere in the muskeg regions of central Canada between
Alberta and Hudson Bay.

There are several sets of dowitcher's eggs in collections, from this
general region, collected in 1903 and 1906, which have been looked upon
with some suspicion; one came from Hayes River Flat, 25 miles north of
55°, one from just south of Little Slave Lake, and three from Little Red
Deer River, Alberta. Now that the dowitcher has been definitely shown to
breed in Alberta, these records look authentic.

To A. D. Henderson and his guests is due all the credit for recent
positive evidence. On June 18, 1924, he found a pair of dowitchers with
two young, only a day or two old, "near a small lake in a muskeg about
17 miles northeast of Fort Assiniboine." The following season he found
dowitchers again at three different places in the same region, "probably
a dozen pairs in all"; and on June 2, about 35 miles northeast of Fort
Assiniboine, he took his first set of three fresh eggs. The nest was "in
a muskeg in open growth of small tamarac trees about 125 yards from a
lake"; he describes it as "a hollow in a lump of moss, scantily lined
with a few tamarac twigs, leaves, and fine dry grass, at the root of a
small dead alder about 12 inches high"; it measured 1-3/4 inches deep
and 4 inches across; the top was 4 inches above standing water.

Mr. Harlow, who was with Mr. Henderson the next year, 1926, took two
sets of four eggs each. One "nest was in an extensive tundralike muskeg,
very quaking and wet, and the nest was in a small bunch of dwarf birch,
not over 12 inches high, on the end of a little ridge of moss and
completely surrounded on three sides by water." The male was seen
"singing" near the nest. He joined the female after she had fluttered
off the nest and the pair were seen feeding together; several times they
stood erect and rubbed their bills together. After the eggs were taken
a set of phalarope's eggs was placed in the nest; the dowitcher returned
took one look at the eggs and then flew away and was never seen near the
nest again.

_Eggs._--One of Mr. Henderson's sets was apparently complete with three
eggs, but four is the usual number. There is probably no constant
difference between the eggs of this and its long-billed relative. One of
Mr. Harlow's sets he describes as "light olive-green, rather lightly
marked with pin points, spots, flecks, and a few blotches of dark umber
and dark brown." The other set, he says, is slightly darker olive-green
and is "much more heavily spotted and blotched with small and large
spots of umber and brown and under shell markings of a lighter color."
The measurements of 18 Alberta eggs average 40.8 by 29.2 millimeters;
the eggs showing the four extremes measure =44= by 29.5, 41 by =30.3=,
=38.2= by 28.5, and 38.7 by =27.7= millimeters.

_Plumages._--The plumages and molts, which are the same in both forms,
are fully described under the long-billed dowitcher.

_Food._--The favorite feeding grounds of the dowitchers are the mud
flats and sand flats in sheltered bays and estuaries, or the borders of
shallow ponds on the marshes, where they associate freely with small
plovers and sandpipers. Although not inclined to move about actively,
their feeding motions are very rapid, as they probe in the mud or sand
with quick, perpendicular strokes of their long bills, driving them in
their full length again and again in rapid succession; while feeding in
shallow water the whole head is frequently immersed and sometimes
several strokes are made with the head under water. Dr. E. R. P. Janvrin
writes to me:

     Mr. J. T. Nichols and I watched three individuals feeding on the
     salt meadows late in the afternoon, continuing our observations
     until it was so dark that we could hardly distinguish the birds any
     longer; at which time the birds were still feeding. The question
     arose whether dowitchers might not be nocturnal in their feeding
     habits, as is the case with the woodcock and Wilson's snipe, since
     the sense of sight is certainly not essential to their probing for

Various observers have noted among the food items of the dowitcher
grasshoppers, beetles, flies, maggots, marine worms, oyster worms,
leeches, water bugs, fish eggs, small mollusks, seeds of aquatic plants,
and the roots of eelgrass.

_Behavior._--Dowitchers are the gentlest and most unsuspicious of shore
birds, which has made them easy prey for the avaricious gunner. Their
flight is swift and steady, often protracted and sometimes at a great
elevation, when looking for feeding places. They usually fly in compact
flocks by themselves, sometimes performing interesting evolutions high
in the air. They often fly, however, in flocks with other small waders,
but the dowitchers are generally bunched together in the flock; I once
shot four dowitchers out of a mixed flock without hitting any of the
smaller birds. When a flock of dowitchers alights the birds are closely
bunched, but they soon scatter out and begin to feed. If a flock is shot
into, the sympathetic and confiding birds return again and again to
their fallen companions until only a pitiful remnant is left to finally
escape. Such slaughter of the innocents well-nigh exterminated this
gentle species; but, now that it is protected, it is beginning to
increase again.

Although all shore birds can swim, the dowitcher seems to be especially
adept at it. Doctor Coues (1874) writes:

     Being partly web-footed, this snipe swims tolerably well for a
     little distance in an emergency, as when it may get for a moment
     beyond its depth in wading about, or when it may fall,
     broken-winged, on the water. On such an occasion as this last, I
     have seen one swim bravely for 20 or 30 yards, with a curious
     bobbing motion of the head and corresponding jerking of the tail,
     to a hiding place in the rank grass across the pool. When thus
     hidden they keep perfectly still, and may be picked up without
     resistance, except a weak flutter, and perhaps a low, pleading cry
     for pity on their pain and helplessness. When feeding at their
     ease, in consciousness of peace and security, few birds are of more
     pleasing appearance. Their movements are graceful and their
     attitudes often beautifully statuesque.

W. E. D. Scott (1881) says:

     A curious habit of this species was noted at the mouth of the
     Withlacoochee, where I saw the birds alight in very deep water and
     swim about for considerable time. This occurred in every instance
     after a flock had been fired at, and I thought at first that the
     birds had been wounded, but after observing the occurrence a number
     of times and on watching the birds while in the water I concluded
     that such was not the case. Those I noted were generally solitary
     individuals, but twice I saw three, and once four, alight in the
     water, swim lightly and gracefully about, and, when disturbed, rise
     easily and fly away.

_Voice._--John T. Nichols has sent me the following notes on the
characteristic calls of this species.

     The flight note of the dowitcher resembles that of the lesser
     yellow-legs but is recognizably different, less loud and more
     hurried, usually suggesting the bird's name: _dowitch_, or
     _dowitcher_, sometimes of a single syllable. This call is subject
     to considerable variation. When used as a regular flight or
     recognition note I believe it is most frequently two-syllabled,
     clear and full. When the call becomes more abrupt and emphatic and
     the last syllable is multiplied it seems to indicate that the bird
     is excited rather than to have other especial significance; thus,

     This note appears to be identical in the eastern dowitcher and the
     long-billed race which I have studied in Florida. Other minor calls
     of the dowitcher are single, unloud, low-pitched _chups_ with which
     a flock manoeuvred about decoys (Long Island, August) resembling an
     analogous yellowleg note; a low rattle when dropping down to alight
     (Long Island, May); a mellow, ploverlike _cluee_, suggesting a call
     of single lesser yellow-legs when loath to leave a feeding ground,
     calling to other more restless individuals of their kind. This was
     heard from a single dowitcher on the ground when a flock of lesser
     yellow-legs was flushed a little way off. When these departed it
     took wing with more usual dowitcher calls and followed after (Long
     Island, July). I have on record also a startled _chee_ from an
     extra tame long-billed dowitcher in Florida, flushed by being
     almost struck by something thrown at it.

While observing the shore bird migration on the coast of New Jersey,
during the last week of May, with Dr. Harry C. Oberholser, we frequently
heard the pretty and vivacious flight song of the dowitcher. It was a
sibilant, whistling song, rather loud and with a staccato effect. Doctor
Oberholser, whose ears are better than mine now are, wrote down his
impressions of it for me. Three short notes were heard separately,
_tíliloo_, _tídilee_ and _tíchilee_, accented on the first syllable; the
last two were commonest. The complete song sounded like
_tídilee-tí-tscha-tscha-tscha_ or _tíchilee-tí-tsocha-tscha-tscha_, with
numerous variations and combinations of the above notes, a very striking
song. This is somewhat similar in form to the song of the long-billed
dowitcher heard on its breeding grounds and described by Dr. E. W.
Nelson (1887); it is probably a courtship song.

_Field marks._--The dowitcher when standing is a fat, chunky bird, with
short greenish legs and a very long bill, with which it probes
perpendicularly. In flight it also appears stout and usually carries its
long bill pointed slightly downward; in adult plumage it appears very
dark colored. It has none of the slender appearance of the yellow-legs
and its flight is steadier. When seen flying away from the observer the
grayish white central band on its back is conspicuous, as are the black
and white, barred tail feathers.

_Fall._--The dowitcher is one of the earliest of the fall migrants;
probably the first arrivals are birds that, for one reason or another,
have failed to raise broods of young, for the time elapsing between the
late-spring migration and the early-fall flight is not sufficient for
successful breeding. The first adults arrive on Cape Cod early in July;
my earliest date is July 4. Adults are common all through July, and I
have seen them as late as August 16. The young birds come along later,
from August 8 to September 25. While with us they frequent the mud flats
and edges of muddy ponds or bays in the marshes; they are seldom seen on
the sandy beaches or far out on the sand flats. They associate freely
with the smaller sandpipers, least, and semipalmated, or with the
semipalmated plover and turnstones. Often in the great flocks of these
small sandpipers a number of dowitchers may be easily recognized by
their much larger size and very dark appearance, also by their much
longer bills. They are then often concentrated in compact groups or
strung out in a long line, close to the edge of the water, probing in
the soft mud with quick strokes of their long bills. They are easily
approached at such times, as they are almost as tame and unsuspicious
as the little peep. When the flats are covered at high tide these birds
resort to the salt marshes or meadows, where they rest and sleep; in
such places they often lie very close and flush singly, much after the
manner of Wilson snipe.

_Game._--Dowitchers, or "brown backs," as they are called on Cape Cod,
have been popular game birds, and immense numbers have been shot in past
years. Audubon (1840) says that "it is not at all uncommon to shoot 20
or 30 of them at once. I have been present when 127 were killed by
discharging three barrels, and have heard of many dozens having been
procured at a shot." Edward Sturtevant says that a market hunter near
Newport, Rhode Island, shot 1,058 dowitchers during the years from 1867
to 1874. Their popularity and their tameness nearly caused the
extermination of the species. Mr. John C. Cahoon (1888) wrote then:

     They have decreased very fast during the last five years, and where
     we saw a flock of several dozens then we now see them singly or in
     bunches not exceeding 10 or 12. They are the least shy of any of
     the shore birds, and it is due to this fact that they have
     decreased so fast. They are easily decoyed, and although they fly
     swiftly their motion is steady and they keep closely together. They
     alight in a compact bunch, and the gunner usually shoots into them
     before they scatter out. Many are killed by a single discharge, and
     those that remain spring up with a sharp whistle and fly a short
     distance away, when hearing what they think to be the call of a
     deserted comrade they wheel about and come skimming bravely back to
     the murderous spot where they were first shot at. Again they are
     shot at, and again the remaining half dozen are loath to leave
     their dead and dying companions, and return to share their fate.
     One or two may escape, and as they drop silently down on some
     lonely sand spit, sad relics of their departed companions, what
     sorrowful thoughts must be theirs as they wait for their comrades
     that will never come.

Since that time the species has been saved by removing it from the
game-bird list, and it has increased considerably until now it is again
a fairly common bird. When flying in flocks it is too easily killed to
offer the sportsman much of a thrill, but when flushed singly on the
meadows it has more of a sporting chance for its life.


_Range._--Chiefly eastern North America, islands of the Caribbean Sea
and central South America; casual in Greenland, Alaska, the British
Isles, and France.

_Breeding range._--The dowitchers which have been found breeding in
Alberta, from Little Red Deer River to Fort Assiniboine, are
intermediate between _griseus_ and _scolopaceus_, but nearer the former.
Eggs have also been taken at Hayes River Flat and just south of Little
Slave Lake, which are probably of this form. The breeding range of
typical _griseus_ probably lies between these points and the west side
of Hudson Bay and perhaps extends north to the Arctic coast.

_Winter range._--North to Louisiana (State game preserve, and Marsh
Island) and probably rarely to North Carolina (Fort Macon). East to
rarely North Carolina (Fort Macon); South Carolina (near Charleston, and
Frogmore); Georgia (Savannah and Blackbeard Island); Florida (Amelia
Island, Orange Hammock, and Bassenger); Bahama Islands (Great Inagua);
Jamaica; Lesser Antilles (Guadeloupe, Barbadoes and Grenada); Trinidad;
and Brazil (Para and Bahia). South to Brazil (Bahia); and northern Peru
(Tumbez). West to northern Peru (Tumbez); Colombia (Medellin); Cuba
(Isle of Pines); western Florida (Key West, Fort Myers, Sarasota Bay,
Tarpon Springs, and Pensacola); Louisiana (Marsh Island); and southern

_Spring migration._--Early dates of spring arrival are: Virginia, Hog
Island, April 15, Norfolk, April 17, and Locustville, April 25; New
Jersey, Long Beach, May 6, New Brunswick, May 16; New York, Shinnecock
Bay Light, May 15, and Long Island, April 19; Connecticut, Norwalk, May
15; Rhode Island, Newport, May 20; Massachusetts, Monomoy Island, May 1;
Quebec, Green Island, May 25; Quebec, May 28, and Fort Chimo, June 10;
and New Brunswick, Grand Manan, June 13.

Late dates of spring departure are: New Jersey, Long Beach, May 20, Cape
May, May 20, New Brunswick, May 23, and Elizabeth, May 31; New York, New
York City, May 30, Long Island, June 12, and Long Beach, June 23.

_Fall migration._--Early dates of fall arrival are: Massachusetts,
Edgartown, July 4, Dennis, July 13, Monomoy Island, July 13, Marthas
Vineyard, July 24, and Harvard, July 26; Rhode Island, Newport, July 10;
Connecticut, Meriden, July 23; New York, Long Island, June 29, and East
Hampton, July 1; New Jersey, Long Beach, July 6, and Cape May, July 10;
Virginia, Cobb Island, June 19, and Bone Island, July 14; Georgia,
Savannah, September 23; and Mississippi, Bay St. Louis, August 24. A few
individuals may be found throughout the summer on the coast of Florida
and other Southern States, but they are not known to breed in these

Late dates of fall departure are: New Brunswick, Tabusintoc, October 23;
Quebec, Labrador, August 23, and Montreal, September 27; Maine,
Portland, August 13; Massachusetts, Harvard, August 25, Edgartown,
September 4, and Cape Cod, October 23; Rhode Island, Newport, October
20; New York, Rochester, September 13, Orient, September 21, New York
City, October 31, and Great West Bay Light, November 2; New Jersey,
Long Beach, October 1; and Virginia, Hog Island, November 12.

_Casual records._--The dowitcher has many times been taken outside of
what appears to be its normal range, in fact there are so many records
for the interior that it seems certain individuals regularly follow the
flyway of the Mississippi Valley.

Among these records are Bermuda, Harris Bay, September 26, 1847, and
August 21, 1848, Pearl Island, September 10, 1874, and Peniston Pond,
September 17, 1875; District of Columbia, Washington, September 1879;
Pennsylvania, Erie, July 19, 1892, and Carlisle, August 12, 1844, and
September 12, 1844; Tennessee, Reelfoot Lake, November 27, 1875;
Illinois, Mount Carmel, October 9, 1875, Calumet, October, 1881, South
Chicago, May 6, 1893, and Grand Crossing, July 19, 1893; Indiana,
Liverpool, September 9, 1892; Ohio, Pelee Island, August 10, 1924, and
September 3, 1910, and Columbus, October 16, 1921; Michigan, Wayne
County, July 16, 1906, August 26, 1905, and October 7, 1890; Ingham
County, August 26, 1897, and East Lansing, August 14, 1908; Ontario,
Toronto, August 1, 1894, August 24, 1891, and September 15, 1889, and
Ottawa, May 9, 1890; Iowa, Burlington, August 6, 1893, and August 16,
1893, and Marshalltown, August 10, 1914; Wisconsin, Lake Koshkonong,
August, 1886; Texas, Corpus Christi, May 18, 1886, San Patricio County,
June 11, 1887, Fort Clarke, April 26, 1882, Padre Island, August 26 and
27, 1891, Aransas Bay, August 14, 1905, and Rockport, February 3, 1909;
Idaho, St. Joseph Marshes, September 12, 1895 or 1896; Mackenzie, Fort
Rae, June 9, 1893; Greenland, Fiskenaesset in 1854; Ungava, Fort Chimo,
June 10, 1883; and Alaska, Nushagak, September 24, 1882, and June 9,

There also are 15 records of its occurrence in the British Isles; one
each near Havre, and Picardy, France, and northeastern Siberia, near

_Egg dates._--Alberta: 9 records, June 1 to 16.




This is supposed to be a western form of the species, characterized by
an average larger size, a decidedly longer bill, and more uniformly
rufous under parts in the adult spring plumage. It was first described
and long regarded as a distinct species, but later developments have
shown intergradation and it has been reduced to sub-specific rank. The
above characters seem to hold good in all specimens collected on their
breeding grounds in Alaska and northwestern Mackenzie; and these
characters are distinctive and well marked. But in immature and winter
plumages the form can be recognized only by size; and, as the
measurements of the two forms overlap and intergrade, only the extremes
can be positively named. The matter is further complicated by the fact
that the migration and winter ranges of the two forms overlap. This
form, _scolopaceus_, is by no means rare on the Atlantic coast, and
_griseus_ occurs regularly on the Pacific coast; intermediates are most
abundant in the central valleys, but occur on both coasts.

_Spring._--The long-billed dowitcher is a rather early spring migrant;
the migration starts in March; the main flight through the United States
is in April; and it reaches its northern breeding grounds in May. Dr. E.
W. Nelson (1887) says of its arrival in northern Alaska:

     In spring, the middle of May, as the snow disappears, and the first
     pale leaves of grass begin to thrust their spear-points through the
     dead vegetable mat on the ground, or as early as the 10th on some
     seasons, this peculiar snipe returns to its summer home. At the
     Yukon mouth I found them on May 12, when they were already engaged
     in love-making, though the ground was still, to a great extent,
     covered with snow, and only here and there appeared a thawed place
     where they could feed. Toward the end of this month they are
     plentiful, and their curious habits and loud notes make them among
     the most conspicuous denizens of the marshes.

_Courtship._--Doctor Nelson (1887) writes:

     These are very demonstrative birds in their love-making, and the
     last of May and first of June their loud cries are heard everywhere
     about their haunts, especially in morning and evening. Two or three
     males start in pursuit of a female and away they go twisting and
     turning, here and there, over marsh and stream, with marvelous
     swiftness and dexterity. At short intervals a male checks his
     flight for a moment to utter a strident _pe-et u weet_; _wee-too,
     wee-too_; then on he goes full tilt again. After they have mated,
     or when a solitary male pays his devotions, they rise 15 or 20
     yards from the ground, where, hovering upon quivering wings, the
     bird pours forth a lisping but energetic and frequently musical
     song, which can be very imperfectly expressed by the syllables
     _peet-peet_; _pee-ter-wee-too_; _wee-too_; _pee-ter-wee-too_;
     _pee-ter-wee-too_; _wee-too_; _wee-too_. This is the complete song
     but frequently only fragments are sung, as when the bird is in
     pursuit of the female.

Herbert W. Brandt says in his notes:

     The male long-billed dowitcher pours forth his wild musical song as
     he hovers in the air with raised vibrating wings, perhaps 50 feet
     above the object of his rapturous outburst. The female, from her
     retreat on the cozy border of a lowland pool, modestly watches the
     ardent lover as he renders his melodious homage. In common with
     many others of the shore dwellers, the most conspicuous courting
     action is the pursuit race by a number of males for their desired,
     but elusive, lady love. It is then that one marvels at the speed
     and agility displayed by apparently awkward birds, as they twist
     and dodge in their aerial wooing. Even during his swift flight the
     suitor tries, but with poor success, to continue his musical
     efforts for the benefit of his larger paramour.

_Nesting._--MacFarlane's notes record brief descriptions of some half a
dozen nests found in the Anderson River region and on the borders of the
wooded country. These were all located on marshy ground near a swamp or
small lake. One is described as "a mere depression in the midst of a
tuft or decayed grass, lined with a few withered leaves." A set
collected for me by F. S. Hersey, near St. Michael, Alaska, June 9,
1914, was taken from a hollow in the moss between two clumps of grass on
the tundra; the female was flushed and shot. Mr. Brandt says in his

     The nest of the long-billed dowitcher is a mere depression
     scratched out on a small eminence on a wet moss-covered meadow
     through which short sedges grow sparingly to a height of about six
     inches. The nest, the bottom of which was usually wet, was in every
     case surrounded by shallow fresh water and the basinlike cavity was
     meagerly lined with grass and small leaves. In two nests the eggs
     rested on the cold wet moss foundation still frozen a few inches
     underneath and the scanty nesting material was all deposited on the
     rim of the nest. In every instance the female was conducting the
     incubation, but the male was in close attendance. The bird is a
     very close sitter and must be almost trodden upon before it will
     rise, wings spread, from its duties.

_Eggs._--Four eggs seems to be the invariable rule for the long-billed
dowitcher. In shape they vary from ovate pyriform to subpyriform; some
are quite rounded and others are decidedly pointed. They have only a
slight gloss. Mr. Brandt in his notes describes his four sets, as

     The ground color has considerable variation and shows two distinct
     types: The commoner one, the brown type, of which we found three
     sets is "Saccardo's olive"; and the other type, represented by a
     single set, is "greenish," shading to "bluish glaucous." The
     markings are bold, slightly elongated and seldom confluent, so that
     blotched markings are unusual. The eggs are medium to heavily
     spotted, causing the ground color to be conspicuous, and, in
     consequence, the underlying markings are very noticeable. The
     primary spots are in various shades of brown, namely: "Vandyke
     brown," "seal brown," and "Saccardo's umber," which make the egg
     one of unusual beauty. The underlying spots are "drab gray" to
     "light grayish olive" and are larger and more numerous than are
     found on the other limicoline eggs we collected at Hooper Bay.

In my set the ground colors vary from "dark olive buff" to "olive buff."
Two of the eggs are irregularly spotted and blotched with spots of
various sizes; one is quite evenly marked with small elongated spots;
and another is sparingly spotted and blotched, chiefly about the larger
end. The colors of the markings are "Saccardo's umber," "bister" and
"warm sepia," with underlying markings of "deep" to "pale brownish
drab." In other collections I have seen a number of sets that matched
almost exactly certain types of heavily blotched eggs of the Wilson
snipe; these may be within the normal range of dowitcher's eggs; but I
have always been suspicious that some of them were wrongly identified.
The measurements of 79 eggs average 41.8 by 28.9 millimeters; the eggs
showing the four extremes measures =45.5= by 30.5, 44 by =32=, =37.5= by
29.2 and 39.4 by =26.3= millimeters.

_Young._--H. B. Conover has sent me the following interesting notes:

     Newly hatched young were found June 22nd. The incubation period
     seems to be about 20 days. A nest found by Murie on May 31 with two
     eggs, had four eggs on June 2, and on being visited the evening of
     June 22, was found to contain two young and two pipped eggs. The
     colors of the soft parts of a downy young several days old were as
     follows: Tarsus olive with blackish stripes down the sides, bill
     black, iris brown. In the newly hatched young the tarsus is much
     lighter. On June 23 while visiting the nest of a black-bellied
     plover, I came across a pair of dowitchers that from their actions
     appeared to have young. Not wishing to stop at the time, I passed
     on, but on returning several hours later, found them again in a
     marsh at the foot of a long, low hill. When I sat down to watch,
     one bird wheeled about me calling, and then flew off down the
     valley. The other bird at first I could not locate, but soon saw it
     flying about the hillside chirping. I noticed that as this bird
     passed over a certain spot, it would hover about 15 feet above the
     ground, giving a whistling trill. After a few minutes it dawned on
     me, that each time it hovered to give this call, it was a little
     farther up the hillside. When I moved up toward the top of the
     hill, the bird alighted close by, scolded for a while and then
     commenced the same performance as before. In this way in about half
     an hour the dowitcher and I had crossed the hill from one marsh to
     another, a distance of about 600 yards. During all this time its
     mate had appeared only twice, when it flew by calling and then
     disappeared again. Finally the bird I was following alighted in the
     marsh at the far side of the hill from where we had started, and
     began running short distances, stopping and then running on again.
     Watching through some field glasses, I soon saw a young one
     following at its heels. Rushing down suddenly, three downies were
     found hiding with their heads stuck into holes or depressions in
     the moss. They appeared to be several days old. Evidently the old
     dowitcher had led these young ones across the hill by simply
     hovering over or in front of them and calling. The bird was
     collected and proved to be a male. Just what the relation of the
     male and female to the eggs and young is in this species it is hard
     to say. From the experience above I believe the male does
     nine-tenths of the work in caring for the chicks. I think this will
     probably prove true as to the incubation of the eggs as well, but
     that the female takes some share in the hatching seems probable, as
     one collected in the vicinity of a nest showed incubation patches.

_Plumages._--The downy young dowitcher somewhat resembles the young
snipe, but has a somewhat different pattern of similar colors. The large
central crown patch is black, clouded, or overcast, with "chestnut" tips
and with two indefinite spots of whitish tips; the black extends down to
the bill; a broad, black loral stripe extends from the eye to the bill,
and a still broader postocular stripe from the eye to the nape; these
two stripes are separated from the dark crown patch by a stripe which is
"tawny" above the lores, buffy white over the eyes, and white around the
posterior half of the crown. The chin is buffy white, and the throat
and breast are "ochraceous tawny," becoming lighter and grayer on the
belly. The upper parts are much like those of the snipe, variegated, or
marbled, with black, "chestnut," and "umber brown," and spotted with
small round white spots, terminal tufts, which are very thick on the
wings and form roughly two rows down the back and two rows on each

In fresh juvenal plumage in July in Alaska, the crown, back, and
scapulars are black, broadly edged with "cinnamon rufous" or "hazel";
the throat, breast, and flanks are gray, the feathers broadly tipped
with "ochraceous tawny" and streaked with black or spotted with dusky;
the tertials, innermost greater coverts, and the median coverts are
edged with "cinnamon buff." These edgings are much browner in
_scolopaceus_ and paler buff in _griseus_.

A postjuvenal molt, beginning in September and lasting until December or
later, involves a change of the body plumage, sometimes the tail and
some of the wing coverts and scapulars. This produces the first winter
plumage, which is like the adult winter plumage, except for the retained
juvenal scapulars, tertials, and wing coverts. The first prenuptial molt
is limited to a few scattering feathers in the body plumage, above and
below, some of the scapulars and wing coverts, and the tail; these are
like corresponding spring feathers of the adult. There is considerable
individual variation in the amount of new feathers in this first nuptial
plumage. I have seen birds in this plumage from March 28 to September 9.
They do not go north to breed, but remain in the South during the
summer. At the first postnuptial molt, in August, they assume the adult
winter plumage. In some young birds the prenuptial molt seems to be
omitted and the postnuptial molt seems to be a change from one winter
plumage to another.

Adults have a partial prenuptial molt from February to May, involving
all the body plumage, most of the scapulars, some of the tertials, the
central pair of rectrices and the wing coverts. I have seen adults in
full nuptial plumage as early as March 4 and as late as August 21. July
and August birds are very black above, due to the wearing away of the
buff edgings. There is much individual variation in the extent and
intensity of the rufous and in the amount of black spotting on the
breast. The complete postnuptial molt of adults begins in August and is
often finished in September. I have seen several birds in which the
primaries were being completely renewed during both months.

_Food._--Preble and McAtee (1923) give the following report on the
contents of two stomachs of long-billed dowitchers:

     Two stomachs, of the two specimens last mentioned from St. Paul
     Island, have been examined and their contents were almost
     exclusively the larvae of midges (Chironomidae), of which there
     were more than 75 in one gizzard and more than 100 in the other.
     Vegetable débris, amounting to 3 per cent by bulk of the stomach
     contents, also was present, and it probably was picked up
     incidentally with the midge larvae. Included in the vegetable
     matter were seeds of bottle brush (_Hippuris vulgaris_), sedge
     (_Carex_ sp.), and water chick-weed (_Montia fontana_).

_Behavior._--I have never been able to discover any differences in
behavior between the two forms of the dowitcher; their habits are
doubtless similar. Some gunners think that they can distinguish the two
forms by their notes, but the differences in notes are probably due to
individual variations in a somewhat varied vocabulary. John T. Nichols
(1920) one of the closest students and best authorities on shore birds'
notes, says "the chances are there is no significant difference in the
calls of the two races."

_Fall._--S. F. Rathbun has sent me the following notes on the habits of
this bird on its migrations through the State of Washington:

     The long-billed dowitcher will be found in the company of almost
     any of the shore birds, in flocks of varying numbers, and even as
     single individuals, but appears to show somewhat of a partiality
     for the company of the black-bellied plover and the red-backed
     sandpiper. On this coast both its spring and autumnal migrations
     seem to be somewhat prolonged, for in the case of the former we
     have records from April 11 until late in May; and for the latter
     from early August until into November. It will be found alike on
     the sandy beaches and the muddy flats, seemingly showing no
     particular preference for either. When the tide is at its ebb on
     the flats the birds oftimes become widely scattered and single ones
     may be found in unexpected places. On one occasion as we were
     walking across a grassy marsh the head and neck of a long-billed
     dowitcher was seen exposed above the growth along the edge of one
     of the little channels running through the marsh. As we approached
     the bird it could be seen making attempts to rise, but this it was
     unable to do on account of being impeded by the length of the
     grass, and we drove the bird ahead until an open spot was reached
     when it then took wing, at this time being but a few feet away.

     On various occasions while we were watching flocks of the small
     sandpipers about some bit of water, dowitchers would fly past and,
     being attracted by the calls of other birds, they then after
     circling for a moment or two would alight at the pool to feed.
     When thus engaged they give the impression of being somewhat
     deliberate in their actions and as they moved about some would
     frequently wade up to their breasts into the shallow water, often
     so remaining until by some action they seemed to lose a footing
     and when this occurred a retreat would be made into a more shallow
     part. Oftentimes one or more birds would suddenly cease feeding
     and assume a posture of repose and when this took place it was a
     common occurrence to see some standing on but one leg, thus to
     remain motionless for a time.

     Dowitchers do not appear to be very shy when found in the flocks
     of the smaller sandpipers, but are the first birds to retreat as
     one approaches the flock; and on such occasions it is generally
     the case that one or more of them will suddenly take wing and put
     the entire flock in motion. They are swift-flying birds and when
     on the wing have a somewhat harsh note that is given from time to
     time. In their spring dress they are attractive, as at this time
     their under parts are a rich buff color, and a flock of dowitchers
     seen at this season with the light striking full on their breasts
     is indeed a handsome sight.

_Winter._--Dowitchers occur in winter as far south as Ecuador and Peru.
Dr. Frank M. Chapman (1926) referred the birds collected in Ecuador to
_scolopaceus_. Nonbreeding birds, or immatures, remain there all summer,
as they do in other parts of their winter range. I have taken both forms
of dowitchers in Florida, where they winter regularly in small numbers.


_Range._--North America, Central America, Cuba, and northwestern South
America. Casual in Japan.

_Breeding range._--North to probably eastern Siberia (Cape Wankarem);
Alaska (Kuparuk River and Point Barrow); probably Yukon (Herschel
Island); and Mackenzie (Franklin Bay). East to Mackenzie (Franklin Bay).
South to Mackenzie (Fort Anderson); Yukon (Lapierre House); and Alaska
(Point Dall). West to Alaska (Point Dall, Pastolik, St. Michael, and
Kowak River); and probably eastern Siberia (Cape Wankarem).

_Winter range._--North to California (Los Banos and Santa Ana); Texas
(Corpus Christi); Louisiana (State Game Preserve); Florida (East Goose
Creek, Kissimmee, and Cape Canaveral); and probably Cuba (Santiago de
Vegas and San Fernando). East to probably Cuba (Santiago de Vegas);
Costa Rica (Alajuela); and probably Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador. South
to Ecuador. West to Guatemala; Tehuantepec (San Mateo); Jalisco (La
Barca); Lower California (La Paz, San Jose Mission and San Quentin); and
California (San Diego and Los Banos).

_Spring migration._--Early dates of spring arrival are: South Carolina,
near Charleston, April 30; New York, Long Island, March 20; Illinois,
Cary's Station, April 24, and Chicago, April 28; Minnesota, Heron Lake,
May 1; Kansas, Manhattan, April 21, and Wichita, April 28; Nebraska,
Callaway, April 8, and Omaha, April 28; Iowa, Wall Lake, May 9; South
Dakota, Brown County, April 14, and Harrison, April 15; North Dakota,
Menoken, May 7; Manitoba, Shoal Lake, April 24, Pilot Mound, May 1, and
Margaret, May 18; Colorado, Loveland, April 6, Denver, April 26, and
Durango, April 30; Wyoming, Cheyenne, May 2, and Lake Como, May 5;
central and northern California, Alameda, March 15, Palo Alto, April 17,
Ballona, April 19, and Stockton, April 20; Oregon, Malheur Lake, April
20; Washington, Menlo, May 1, and Fort Steilacoom, May 5; British
Columbia, Courtenay, April 28, and Chilliwack, May 8; and Alaska, Craig,
May 2, Kuiu Island, May 3, Fort Kenai, May 4, and St. Michael, May 20.

Late dates of spring departure are: Louisiana, New Orleans, March 20;
Texas, Corpus Christi, April 20; Chihuahua, Lake Palomas, April 9;
Lower California, Gardner's Lagoon, April 19; and southern California,
Santa Barbara, May 2.

_Fall migration._--Early dates of fall arrival are: British Columbia,
Courtenay, July 7, and Okanagan Landing, July 19; California, Balboa
Bay, July 6, Santa Barbara, July 18, and Fresno, August 6; Lower
California, San Quentin, August 10, and San Jose del Cabo, August 28;
Tehuantepec, San Mateo, August 12; Montana, Billings, July 31; Utah,
Provo River, July 24; Saskatchewan, Hay Creek, July 3; Colorado, Barr,
July 5, and Denver, July 24; North Dakota, Devil's Lake, July 20, and
Mouse River, August 10; Texas, Brownsville, July 11; New York, Long
Island, July 16; North Carolina, Pea and Brodie Islands, July 7; and
South Carolina, near Charleston, July 20.

Late dates of fall departure are: British Columbia, Chilliwack, October
29; Washington, Seattle, October 9, and Point Chehalis, October 19;
northern and central California, Easton, October 18, Alameda, October
29, and Stockton, November 5; Wyoming, Hutton's Lakes, October 14;
Colorado, Denver, October 3; Manitoba, Margaret, October 10; South
Dakota, Harrison, November 2; Nebraska, Valentine, October 28; Kansas,
Lawrence, October 3; Minnesota, St. Vincent, October 9; Missouri, St.
Louis, October 28; New York, Long Island, November 2; and South
Carolina, September 10.

_Casual records._--Occurrences of the long-billed dowitcher outside of
its normal range must, of necessity be based upon the evidence of
specimens, as it is frequently confused with the more common dowitcher
of the Atlantic coast, from Maine to Florida. Seven were collected in
the District of Columbia in April, 1884; one at North Haven,
Connecticut, August 5, 1886; Hamilton, Ontario, August 21, 1891;
Leighton, Alabama, May 15, 1891; Dauphin Island, Alabama (2), July 5,
1913; Detroit, Michigan, August 26, 1905; Yokohama, Japan, March 13; and
Yezo, Japan, October 13.

_Egg dates._--Arctic Canada: 18 records, June 6 to July 5; 9 records,
June 21 to July 3. Alaska: 17 records, May 29 to July 1; 9 records, June
3 to 19.




Strangely enough I have never seen, or rather recognized, a stilt
sandpiper in life. As it is often associated with the lesser yellow-legs
and so easily mistaken for it, I may have overlooked it. It is a rare
bird in the localities where most of my work on shorebirds has been done
and it does not seem to be very common anywhere. It is more common on
migrations in the Mississippi Valley than elsewhere, on its way to and
from its restricted breeding range on the barren grounds and Arctic
coast of Canada.

_Spring._--The spring migration is almost directly north from the Gulf
of Mexico to Great Slave Lake and then down the Mackenzie Valley and
other valleys to the Arctic coast. It is rare in spring on the Atlantic
coast. R. J. Longstreet writes to me that he saw three on May 4 and 5,
and four on May 8, 1925, in Volusia County, Florida. C. G. Harrold tells
me that it is a common spring migrant in Manitoba, "even abundant at
times, a flock of nearly 300 being seen in May, 1924, at Whitewater
Lake." A. G. Lawrence records it, at the same lake, as early as May 5
and as late as June 2; he calls it "uncommon to fairly common." At
Beaver Lake, in northern Alberta, William Rowan saw flocks of from 20 to
25 birds every day from May 20 to 28, 1924. P. L. Hatch (1892) says
that, in Minnesota, "they come in small flocks, and keep mostly about
shallow ponds, and along the smaller streams flowing through the
marshes," but he has "found them on the sandy beaches of some of the
larger lakes on several occasions." He says "they are shy and
exceedingly vigilant, making it no easy matter to get them."

_Nesting._--Comparatively little is known about the nesting habits of
the stilt sandpiper. Roderick MacFarlane (1891) found it "fairly
abundant on the shores of Franklin Bay, where a number of nests with
eggs and young were discovered. It is, however, very rare in the
interior, only one nest having been taken at Rendezvous Lake on the
borders of the wooded country east of Fort Anderson." A nest with three
eggs, found on June 22, 1863, is described in his notes as "near a small
lake and composed of a few decayed leaves placed in a depression in the
ground, partly concealed by a tuft of grass;" the female was flushed off
the nest and shot. The nest found at Rendezvous Lake is not described,
but one found at Franklin Bay, on July 6 or 8, 1865, containing four
fresh eggs, was "a mere depression in the ground, lined with a few
withered leaves and grasses."

_Eggs._--Four eggs is probably the usual number laid by the stilt
sandpiper. They are ovate pyriform in shape. The only eggs I have been
able to locate are the three sets in the United States National Museum,
collected by MacFarlane. J. H. Riley has kindly sent me descriptions and
measurements of these. In the set of four eggs the ground color is
"ivory yellow" with large irregular blotches and spots of two shades of
"mummy brown," and a few rather large shell markings of "hair brown,"
the latter mostly towards the larger end. The spots and blotches are a
little heavier towards the larger end, also, but in no sense do they
form a ring. Another set of two eggs is similar, but the spots and
blotches are much smaller, more numerous, and more evenly distributed
over the surface; some of the "mummy brown" spots are even becoming
scrawls. The third set of two eggs are like the set of four, except that
the ground color is "pale olive buff" and the "mummy brown" blotches are
on the average smaller. The measurements of these 7 eggs average 35.5 by
25.1 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes =36= by 25, 35 by
=26=, =35= by 25 and 36 by =24.5= millimeters.

_Young._--Mr. McFarlane (1891) says: "On one occasion we could not help
admiring the courage and ingenuity displayed by both parents in defense
of their young, which resulted in saving two of the latter from

_Plumages._--In natal down the stilt sandpiper closely resembles several
of the other species of tundra-nesting sandpipers. It can generally be
recognized by its relatively longer legs and by its longer bill, with a
broader tip. The head markings are also a little different. The
forehead, cheeks, and throat are dirty white, with a broad, black,
median stripe from bill to crown, another (loral) from bill to eye, and
a short one (malar) below it. The crown, back, wings, thighs, and rump
are variegated or marbled with black (predominating) and dull browns,
"tawny" to "ochraceous tawny," and profusely dotted with dull white
terminal down tufts; these dots form a distinct circle around the crown
patch, below which the whitish sides of the head are marked with
"ochraceous tawny." The lower throat is washed with pale buff, and the
rest of the under parts are white.

In the juvenal plumage in August the head and neck are streaked with
gray and whitish; the crown is dusky, with buffy edgings; the mantle is
brownish black and dusky, with "tawny" edgings on the blackest feathers
in the back and scapulars, and with pale buff or whitish edgings on the
rest of the mantle and tertials; the under parts are white, suffused
with pale buff on the throat, breast, and flanks; the wing coverts are
edged with pale buff or whitish; the upper tail coverts are white and
but little marked; the central tail feathers are dusky, edged with
white, and the others are white, margined with dusky. This plumage is
not worn long, for the postjuvenal molt of the body plumage begins late
in August and lasts through September, producing a first-winter plumage.
This is similar to the winter plumage of adults, but can be recognized
by the juvenal wing coverts, some scapulars, and tertials.

I have been unable to trace the first prenuptial molt of young birds,
which is probably accomplished in South America, nor have I been able to
recognize a first nuptial plumage. Possibly young birds may not come
north during their first spring.

Adults have a partial prenuptial molt in April and May, involving the
body plumage, most of the scapulars, and some of the wing coverts and
tertials. The complete postnuptial molt begins sometimes during the
first week in July and sometimes not until the last of that month, and
is completed in about two months, including the wings. A specimen taken
in Argentina on September 21 had renewed the wings and practically all
of the body plumage. In winter plumage the upper parts are brownish
gray, with narrow, light edgings; the sides of the head and the under
parts are white, with little or no barring; there is a dark streak
through the eye, but no rusty on the head.

_Food._--Audubon (1840) watched a flock of about 30 stilt sandpipers
feeding, of which he writes:

     I saw a flock of about 30 long-legged sandpipers alight within 10
     steps of me, near the water. They immediately scattered, following
     the margin of the retiring and advancing waves, in search of food,
     which I could see them procure by probing the wet sand in the
     manner of curlews, that is, to the full length of their bill,
     holding it for a short time in the sand, as if engaging in sucking
     up what they found. In this way they continued feeding on an
     extended line of shore of about 30 yards, and it was pleasing to
     see the alacrity with which they simultaneously advanced and
     retreated, according to the motions of the water. In about
     three-quarters of an hour, during all which time I had watched them
     with attention, they removed a few yards beyond the highest wash of
     the waves, huddled close together, and began to plume and cleanse
     themselves. In the stomachs of several individuals I found small
     worms, minute shellfish, and vegetable substances, among which were
     the hard seeds of plants unknown to me.

N.B. Moore watched a stilt sandpiper feeding in Florida and says in his

     It alighted within 20 feet of me and commenced feeding at once, in
     water that nearly covered the tarsi. I was surprised to see it
     slowly step along, carrying its bill immersed nearly up to the
     base, and sweeping it slowly from side to side, much in the manner
     of the roseate spoonbills, which were at the same moment feeding
     near by. I noticed no action like that of swallowing at any time,
     its motions being continuous--as described--until I shot it to make
     sure of the species.

Stuart T. Danforth (1925) says of the food of this species in Porto

     Seven stomachs (five collected on August 20 and two on September
     17) were available for examination. Animal matter composed 70.1 per
     cent of the food, and vegetable matter of 29.9 per cent. Bloodworms
     (Chironomid larvae) were the largest food item, forming 72.8 per
     cent of the animal food. From 150 to 600 bloodworms were found in
     all but two of the stomachs. Dytiscid larvae formed 15.5 per cent,
     small Planorbis snails 7.1 per cent, and mosquito larvae 0.8 per
     cent of the animal matter. The vegetable matter was composed of
     seeds. Seeds of _Persicaria_ formed 80 per cent of the vegetable
     matter; seeds of _Sesban emerus_ 7 per cent; seeds of Compositae
     10.2 per cent, and rubbish 2.8 per cent.

Prof. William Rowan writes to me:

     In very dirty weather, particularly if a gale is blowing, stilt
     sandpipers have been noted hunting for food high and dry on rough
     pasture. This is probably an exceptional performance correlated
     with this type of weather, for it has never been observed at other

John T. Nichols says in his notes:

     Just how this species makes use of its somewhat peculiar bill is
     not very clear. I have seen it alighted on flooded dead marsh,
     wading in the puddles and picking at the projecting dead stubble
     about on its own level. Again I find in my journal reference to
     three birds which alighted in water to their thighs, and
     immediately began to feed, moving about close together, immersing
     the bill to the eyes for an instant or two.

Verdi Burtch (1925), referring to a bird he saw at Branchport, N.Y.,

     I saw it catch and with much effort swallow a small frog, after
     which it lost all interest in fishing. It walked off a few steps
     and stood on one foot, all humped up and with eyes closed; quite a
     contrast to the usual alert sandpiper pose.

_Behavior._--Audubon (1840) writes:

     The flight of these sandpipers is rapid and regular. They move
     compactly, and often when about to alight, or after being
     disturbed, incline their bodies to either side, showing alternately
     the upper and lower parts. On foot they move more like curlews than
     tringas, they being as it were more sedate in their deportment. At
     times, on the approach of a person, they squat on the ground, very
     much in the manner of the Esquimaux curlew, _Numenius borealis_;
     and their flesh is as delicate as that of the species just named.

Dr. Arthur A. Allen (1913), after referring to the companionship and
resemblance between stilt sandpipers and lesser yellow-legs, says:

     In their habits, however, the two species were quite different. The
     yellow-legs were always rangy birds and covered a great deal of
     ground while feeding. Even when resting they were conspicuous by
     the nervous jerking of the head and neck. In flight they usually
     formed fairly compact flocks but scattered upon alighting. The
     stilt sandpipers, on the other hand, were quiet birds and went
     about their search for food very systematically, gleaning
     everything in their way. They frequently fed in a space a few yards
     square for over an hour at a time. When at rest they showed none of
     the nervous traits of the yellow-legs, being much more sedate,
     neither jerking the head nor tilting the tail. In flight they were
     quite similar to the yellow-legs, but as soon as they alighted they
     bunched and frequently the whole flock fed with their bodies nearly
     touching. Like the yellow-legs, the stilt sandpipers were seldom
     seen upon the exposed mud but preferred wading where the water was
     from 1 to 3 inches in depth, so that the entire head and neck
     frequently disappeared beneath the surface of the water while
     feeding. The notes of the two birds, though similar in form, were
     wholly unlike in quality, that of the stilt sandpiper being
     mellower and lower in pitch.

Coues (1878) at first mistook birds of this species for dowitchers and
did not recognize them until he had them in his hands. He says:

     They gathered in the same compact groups, waded about in the same
     sedate, preoccupied manner, fed with the same motion of the head,
     probing obliquely in shallow water with the head submerged, were
     equally oblivious of my approach, and when wounded swam with equal
     facility. The close structural resemblances of the two species are
     evidently reflected in their general economy.

Mr. Nichols says in his notes:

     On alighting the stilt sandpiper sometimes lifts its wings halfway
     for an instant, a mannerism characteristic of the tattler group,
     which it would seem to have acquired from its associate, the

_Voice._--Following are Mr. Nichols's notes on this subject:

     The common flight note of the stilt sandpiper is very like the
     single whistled _whu_ of the lesser yellow-legs, but recognizably
     lower pitched and hoarser, at times with a quaver, _whr-r-u_, and
     varying down to a shorter, less loud _whrug_. An unloud, reedy
     _sher_ has been heard from two birds when flushing.

     Though with different feeding habits, stilt sandpiper, dowitcher,
     and lesser yellow-legs frequent the same grounds, associate very
     freely on the wing, and all three have a very similar flight note,
     though sufficiently different for identification. Perhaps the very
     lack of close relationship in these birds has facilitated
     convergence of their habits and calls, and it is not unreasonable
     to suppose that close association, even imitation, has played some
     part in bringing about the likeness of their voices. The greater
     yellow-legs differs more from the lesser, both in flight note and
     flight habits, than do these other two unrelated species.

_Field marks._--I quote again from Mr. Nichols's notes on field
characters, as follows:

     On the wing the stilt sandpiper resembles the lesser yellow-legs
     closely. Its smaller size is scarcely appreciable, even in a flock
     of yellow-legs, the members of which will usually be at slightly
     varying distances from the observer. Adults have appreciably darker
     (barred) lower parts, and young birds, particularly, are greyer
     above than yellow-legs at the same season in this latitude. The
     somewhat shorter legs do not project so far beyond the tail, but
     the proportionately longer bill (with slight apparent drop at its
     tip) is the stilt sandpiper's best field mark. Its bill is
     proportionately longer even than that of the greater yellow-legs,
     with which this species is unlikely to be confused, varying as it
     does away from the lesser yellow-legs in an opposite direction, both
     as regards size and in other subtle characters. The head and neck
     of a yellow-legs are more "shapely," differing in this respect
     somewhat as a black duck differs from sea ducks.

     On the ground the stilt sandpiper stands lower than a yellow-legs,
     having decidedly shorter legs, and correspondingly higher than our
     other shore birds of the same size. The color of its legs, dull
     olive green, is usually diagnostic. The legs are sometimes
     yellowish, and very rarely yellow, only one such having come under
     the writer's personal notice, a young bird in southward migration.
     The name "greenleg" is often used for it by Long Island baymen,
     who also suspect it of being a cross between yellow-legs and
     dowitcher. At sufficiently close range the margination of the
     feathers of the upper parts is quite unlike the spotting of the
     yellow-legs' plumage.

The broad white stripe over the eye is conspicuous in any plumage and
the whitish tail shows in flight, as different from the whitish triangle
on the rump and back of the dowitcher or the white rump of the
yellow-legs. Most of these field marks, however, are too subtle for easy
recognition, unless seen under favorable circumstances.

Prof. William Rowan has sent me the following notes:

     Identification marks of the stilt are excellent and it is quite an
     easy bird to spot in almost any circumstances. It has a rump
     pattern all to itself and is therefore readily detected in flight.
     The end of the tail is darker than that of a yellow-legs, but the
     white of the rump end, instead of forming a straight line across
     the back, is horseshoe shaped. Although the turnstone and
     semipalmated plovers are reminiscent, they are quite distinct and
     not to be confused. When wading--the birds prefer to be belly
     deep--the carriage of the head makes the species unmistakable. The
     bill is always held and thrust beneath the surface perpendicularly.
     This necessitates a straight neck. In profile the feeding
     individual can be mistaken for no other sandpiper, is quite
     distinct from the yellow-legs, and can really only be confused with
     a phalarope. The Wilson phalarope habitually wades in this part of
     the world, swimming only occasionally, but its markings are
     distinctive. A flock of stilts is the most characteristic sight and
     the species can be identified at a great distance. The curious
     position of the head just referred to and the crowding of the
     individuals into each other make a quite unmistakable combination.
     They feed practically shoulder to shoulder, seldom scattering. The
     yellow-legs of a flock are always scattered, and the general aspect
     of the individuals is entirely different. Stilts never bob their
     heads after the manner of yellow-legs.

_Fall._--The fall migration of adults begins very early, coming along
with the dowitchers and first summer yellow-legs. I have an adult female
in my collection, taken on July 5, 1885, on Monomoy Island,
Massachusetts. The main flight of adults comes along during the latter
half of July and first half of August, in this State, and the young
birds come through in August and September; but this is a rare bird
here, and the flight generally lasts for only a few days.

Mr. Nichols tells me that:

     On Long Island the stilt sandpiper is usually uncommon, occurring
     in small numbers often closely associated with lesser yellow-legs or
     dowitcher. Rarely it occurs in great waves or flights as on August
     12, 1912. This flight was made up exclusively of adult birds, so
     far as the writer's observations went. For the remainder of that
     season the species was unusually common. If, in ordinary years,
     some 200 stilt sandpipers are present on Long Island in southward
     migration, there were probably 3,000 in 1912. The earliest I have
     seen this species south on Long Island is July 10, 1921, two or
     three or more individuals associated with 40 or 50 lesser

In the interior this species is commoner than it is on the Atlantic
coast. Mr. Harrold says that in Manitoba it is fairly common in the
fall, adults being noted as early as July 5; the young birds are usually
with the lesser yellow-legs in the fall. Mr. Hersey collected a series
for me in Manitoba between July 18 and 29, 1913. Stilt sandpipers were
formerly sold in the markets, mixed with bunches of summer yellow-legs,
but their sale is now prohibited, and they are too small to be
considered as game birds.

_Winter._--The winter home of the stilt sandpiper seems to be in
southern South America, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Chile, but
actual records substantiated by specimens are not numerous. Ernest
Gibson (1920) shot some "out of a flock of over 100" which "might easily
have been 200, so closely were they massed." They "were feeding on
marshy ground; and as the flock rose at" his "approach, circled and
passed away, the white under surfaces were quite dazzling in the
sunlight." This was near Cape San Antonio, Buenos Aires, on December 27,

Dr. Alexander Wetmore (1926) writes:

     The stilt sandpiper was encountered only in the Chaco, west of
     Puerto Pinasco, Paraguay, though it has been said that it is common
     in some parts of the Province of Buenos Aires in winter. At
     kilometer 80, on September 20, 1920, the first arrivals, a flock of
     a dozen, were recorded at the border of a lagoon; as I watched they
     rose suddenly to whirl rapidly away to the southward. On the
     following day about 20 were seen, and an adult female was taken. At
     Kilometer 170, on September 24, a small flock passed down the
     nearly dry channel of an alkaline stream known as the Riacho
     Salado, while at Laguna Wall (kilometer 200) about 30 were seen
     September 24, and 40 on the day following. The birds were found in
     little flocks, often mingled with other waders that walked or waded
     through shallow water on muddy shores where they probed with their
     bills for food.


_Range._--North America, south to southern South America. The stilt
sandpiper is one of the rarer shore birds and but little is known of its
range and migrations.

_Breeding range._--North to probably northeastern Alaska (Demarcation
Point); probably Yukon (Herschel Island); Mackenzie (Fort Anderson,
Rendezvous Lake, Franklin Bay, and probably Kogaryuak River); and
probably Keewatin (Cape Eskimo). East to probably Keewatin (Cape
Eskimo); and probably Manitoba (Fort Churchill and York Factory). South
to probably Manitoba (York Factory); and Mackenzie (Artillery Lake).
West to Mackenzie (Artillery Lake); and probably Alaska (Demarcation
Point). Eggs have been taken only in northern Mackenzie.

_Winter range._--Imperfectly known, but probably north to Tepic
(Acaponeta River); Zacatecas; Tamaulipas (Matamoros); rarely Texas
(Corpus Christi); rarely Louisiana (State Game Preserve); and Cuba. East
probably to Cuba; and Brazil (Ilha Grande). South probably to Brazil
(Ilha Grande); Uruguay (Colonia); and Chile. West to Chile; Bolivia
(Falls of the Madeira); central Peru (Chorillos and Yquitos); Ecuador
(Babahoyo); Colombia (Cienaga); Nicaragua (_=Momotombo=_); Guatemala
(Duenas); Oaxaca (Tehuantepec); Jalisco (Manzanillo and La Barca); and
Tepic (Ocaponeta River).

_Spring migration._--Early dates of arrival in the spring are: Florida,
Banana Creek, March 10, Smyrna, March 26, and Pensacola, April 5; North
Carolina, Cape Hatteras, May 19; New York, Long Island, May 18;
Connecticut, Westport, May 28, and West Haven, May 30; Rhode Island,
Sakonnet, May 9; Maine, Saco, May 5; Missouri, Kansas City, April 30;
Illinois, Chicago, May 26; Iowa, Sioux City, May 7, Emmetsburg, May 10,
and Wall Lake, May 23; Wisconsin, Racine, April 10; Minnesota, Wilder,
May 1, and Waseca, May 14; Texas, Bonham, March 29; Kansas, McPherson,
May 7; Nebraska, Kearney, May 6, and Neligh, May 10; South Dakota,
Harrison, May 5, Vermilion, May 9, and Sioux Falls, May 14; North
Dakota, Harrisburg, May 1, and Sweetwater, May 5; Manitoba, Whitewater
Lake, May 12; Colorado, Barr, April 27, Fort Lyon, May 2, Colorado
Springs, May 14, and Loveland, May 20; Wyoming, Cheyenne, May 25;
Alberta, Fort Chipewyan, June 6; Mackenzie, Fort Resolution, May 19, and
Athabaska delta, June 4; and Alaska, Demarcation Point, May 23.

Stilt sandpipers also have been detected as late as April in Cuba and
Jamaica while a late date for their departure from Lake Palomas, Mexico,
is April 7, from Dummetts, Florida, April 14 and Port Orange, Florida,
May 5.

_Fall migration._--Early dates of arrival for the species on its return
from the North are: Colorado, Barr, July 5; North Dakota, Benson County,
July 1, and Nelson's Lake, July 14; South Dakota, Forestburg, July 7;
Nebraska, Lincoln, July 19; Iowa, Sioux City, July 12; Texas Corpus
Christi, July 3; Ontario, Toronto, July 18; Maine, Chebeague Island,
July 19, and Scarboro, July 30; New Hampshire, Rye, July 31;
Massachusetts, Cape Cod, July 4, and Needham, July 24; Rhode Island,
Newport, July 6, and Block Island, July 15; New York, East Hampton, July
11; North Carolina, Churches Island, July 29; Bahama Islands, Fortune
Island, August 5; Barbados, July; St. Batholomew, September; and
Paraguay, Kilometer 80, September 20.

Late dates of fall departure are: British Columbia, Sumas Lake,
September 19; Colorado, Fort Lyon, September 8, Larimer County,
September 9, and Barr, October 5; Mackenzie, Fort Simpson, August 19,
and Lower Slave River, August 27; Manitoba, Carberry, August 29, and
Qu'Appelle, September 16; Nebraska, Lincoln, November 11; Kansas,
Lawrence, September 19; Wisconsin, Kelley Brook, September 13; Iowa,
Burlington, September 28; Ontario, Toronto, September 26; Ohio,
Columbus, October 4; Illinois, Chicago, September 1, Grand Crossing,
September 23, and Cantine Lake, September 28; Missouri, St. Louis,
September 12, and Kansas City, September 28; Maine, Scarboro, September
16; Massachusetts, Chatham, September 20, and Cape Cod, September 29;
Rhode Island, Newport, September 9; New York, Buffalo, September 16,
Bronx, September 19, Cayuga, October 10, and Jamaica, November 28; New
Jersey, Morristown, October 16; Maryland, Pawtuxent River, September 8;
District of Columbia, Anacostia River, October 26; North Carolina,
Churches Island, September 23; and Florida, Fernandina, October 10, and
Key West, November 1.

_Casual records._--The rarity of the stilt sandpiper makes it difficult
to determine whether some occurrences should be listed as regular
migrants or as accidentals. Some of the following cases may be on the
regular migration route of the species: Bermuda, two early in August,
1848 and one in early September, 1875; Newfoundland, Cow Head,
September, 1867; Nova Scotia, Sable Island, August 18, 1902; New
Brunswick, Courtenay Bay, September 8, 1881; and Montana, Chief
Mountain, August, 1874.

_Egg dates._--Arctic Canada: 3 records, June 22 and 27 and July 8.




This cosmopolitan species, with a circumpolar breeding range, has been
split into two generally recognized forms occupying the two hemispheres,
with a doubtful third form, _rodgersi_, said to occupy eastern Asia. Our
American bird is well named _rufus_ on account of its color.

The knot, or redbreast, as it is called on Cape Cod, was a very abundant
migrant all along the Atlantic coast of North America during the past
century. George H. Mackay (1893) writes:

     On the Dennis marshes and flats, at Chatham, the Nauset, Wellfleet,
     and Billingsgate, Cape Cod, and on the flats around Tuckernuck and
     Muskeget Islands, Mass., they used to be more numerous than in all
     the rest of New England combined, and being very gregarious they
     would collect in those places in exceedingly large numbers,
     estimates of which were useless. This was previous to 1850 and when
     the Cape Cod Railroad was completed only to Sandwich. Often, when
     riding on the top of the stage coach on the cape beyond this point,
     immense numbers of these birds could be seen, as they rose up in
     clouds, during the period that they sojourned there. It was at this
     time that the vicious practice of "fire-lighting" them prevailed,
     and a very great number of them were thus killed on the flats at
     night in the vicinity of Billingsgate (near Wellfleet). The mode of
     procedure was for two men to start out after dark at half tide, one
     of them to carry a lighted lantern, the other to reach and seize
     the birds, bite their necks, and put them in a bag slung over the
     shoulder. When near a flock they would approach them on their hands
     and knees, the birds being almost invariably taken on the flats.
     This practice continued several years before it was finally
     prohibited by law. I have it directly from an excellent authority
     that he has seen in the spring, six barrels of these birds (all of
     which had been taken in this manner) at one time, on the deck of
     the Cape Cod packet for Boston. He has also seen barrels of them,
     which had spoiled during the voyage, thrown overboard in Boston
     Harbor on arrival of the packet. The price of these birds at that
     time was 10 cents per dozen; mixed with them would be turnstones
     and black-bellied plover. Not one of these birds had been shot, all
     having been taken with the aid of a "fire-light."

Arthur T. Wayne (1910) says:

     On May 18, 1895, I saw, on Long Island beach, a flock of these
     birds which I estimated to contain fully fifteen hundred
     individuals, while on May 21 of the same year, I observed a flock
     that had alighted on the beach, and that comprised without a doubt
     more than 3,000 birds.

Excessive shooting, both in spring and fall, reduced this species to a
pitiful remnant of its former numbers; but spring shooting was stopped
before it was too late and afterwards this bird was wisely taken off the
list of game birds; it has increased slowly since then, but it is far
from abundant now and makes only a short stay on Cape Cod.

_Spring._--The main migration route of the knot in spring is northward
along the Atlantic coast. The first birds usually reach the United
States from South America early in April. On the west coast of Florida,
in 1925, I took my first birds on April 2, and they were commonest about
the middle of April. I have found them very common on the coast of South
Carolina as late as May 23. Mr. Mackay (1893) writes:

     They are still found in greater or less numbers along the Atlantic
     coast south of Chesapeake Bay. Near Charleston, S. C., Mr. William
     Brewster noted about 150 knots on May 6 and 8, 1885, and saw a
     number of flocks on May 13. They were flying by, or were alighted,
     on Sullivan Island beach. On May 17, 1883, he noted about 100 of
     these birds in the same locality. In the spring they pass Charlotte
     Harbor, Florida, so I am informed, in large numbers, coming up the
     coast from the south (a flight on May 26, 1890), at which time they
     are very tame. They are also more or less numerous near Morehead
     City, North Carolina (where they are known as "beach robins"), from
     May 15 to 30, their flight being along the beach, just over the
     surf, at early morning, coming from the east in the neighborhood of
     Point Lookout, 10 or 12 miles away, where they probably resorted to
     roost. This indicates that these birds were living in that

On the Massachusetts coast the spring flight comes in May. Mr. Mackay
(1893) says:

     The most favorable time to expect them at this season is during
     fine, soft, south to southwest weather, and formerly they could be
     expected to pass in numbers between May 20 and June 5. In former
     times, when such conditions prevailed, thousands collected on Cape
     Cod, when they would remain for a few days to a week before
     resuming migration.

The knot is less common in the interior, but Prof. William Rowan
evidently regards it as a regular migrant in Alberta during the latter
part of May; his notes record a flock of about 200 on May 21 and one of
over 150 on May 23.

It seems to be a comparatively rare migrant on the coast of California,
where it never was abundant. But it still occurs in large numbers on the
coast of Washington. In some notes from Gray's Harbor, sent to me by D.
E. Brown, he mentions a flock of over 500 birds seen on May 14, 1920.
And S. F. Rathbun has sent me the following notes:

     Late on the afternoon of May 16, 1921, we were on the south side of
     Gray's Harbor, Washington, on a marsh meadow bordered by the tide
     flats. At this hour the tide was nearly at its full, and the many
     shore birds that had been feeding on the flats were forced to
     retreat before the incoming waters and in consequence were driven
     close to the edge of the meadow. Not far from where we lay
     concealed a very large number of these had assembled on a somewhat
     elevated stretch of ground near the meadows border, among them
     being several hundred of the knots, these in two or three compact
     flocks all the individuals of which were facing the wind. The knots
     were resting quietly although there was much movement going on
     among the shore birds. We could easily by the aid of our glasses,
     see many turnstones, a few greater yellow-legs, these keeping by
     themselves, and in the shallow water at the edge of the flats a
     very large number of red-backed sandpipers and long-billed
     dowitchers, flanked by an immense flock of the smaller sandpipers.
     At this time the sun was low in the west and its almost horizontal
     rays fell full on the breasts of the knots, for in facing the wind
     they happened to be turned toward the sun, whose light intensified
     the pale cinnamon of their breasts, this making a beautiful sight.

     Without any warning nearly all of this mass of birds suddenly took
     wing. As they rose, the knots keeping by themselves separated into
     three compact flocks and rising high in the air then flew directly
     towards the north giving their calls as they did so, and this
     appears to be a habit of the species when taking wing. Again, the
     knot does not appear to fly aimlessly about as do many other of
     the shore birds, and is generally to be seen in flocks, the
     individuals of which are closely associated, although at times
     scattering birds will be observed; and in flight by the seeming
     course a flock will pursue, we always receive an impression that
     it has some objective point in view.

Dr. W. E. Ekblaw has sent me some very full notes on the habits of the
knot in northwestern Greenland in which he says:

     The knot is one of the commoner shore birds of northwest Greenland,
     but even so, not numerous anywhere. It arrives in the land as early
     as the end of May, for early in the spring of 1915 when my two
     Eskimos, Esayoo and Etukashoo, and I were encamped at Fort Conger
     on Discovery Harbor in latitude 81° 45´ N., we heard the keen call
     of the knots flying over our camp the afternoon of May 30. The
     first knots that come are generally in small flocks, but they soon
     mate and scatter to their nesting places, only a few coming
     together from time to time near the favorite feeding places. If the
     weather of early June be inclement the flocks do not scatter so
     soon, but remain together until the conditions become favorable for
     mating and nesting. It is quite likely that some of the pairs are
     already mated when they arrive, for the sex organs are fully
     developed and ready to function upon their arrival.

In northeastern Greenland the time of arrival is about the same, for A.
L. Manniche (1910) writes:

     The knots arrived at the Stormkap territory in couples at exactly
     the same time as did the other waders; in two summers,
     respectively, on June 2 and May 28. While the sanderlings, dunlins,
     turnstones, and ringed plovers immediately took to the sparsely
     occurring spots free from snow, the knots would prefer to go to the
     still snow-covered hollows in the marshes and moors, where I saw
     them running on the snow eagerly occupied in picking up the seed of
     _Carex_-and _Luzula_-tufts the ends of which here and there
     appeared over the snow. This sandpiper more than its relatives,
     feeds on plants at certain seasons. In the first days I also
     observed now and then a couple of knots on snowless spots on
     elevated table-lands and even on the top of the high gravel banks
     at Stormkap. These may, however, have settled there in order to
     rest after the voyage and not to search food. As soon as ponds of
     melting snow and fresh-water beaches free from ice were to be
     found, the knots would resort to these, and here the birds wading
     or swimming looked for animal diet. In this season the knot did not
     appear on the salt-water shore like other waders. Gradually as more
     extensive stretches of low-lying table-land became free from snow,
     the knots occurred more frequently here in their real nesting
     quarters; they would, however, still for a while often visit moors
     and marshes with a rich vegetation of _Cyperaceae_.

_Courtship._--Doctor Ekblaw describes this as follows:

     The courtship is brief but ardent. Whether it is the females that
     woo the males, as among the phalaropes, or as normally the males
     that woo the females, it is difficult to determine, for the
     breeding plumages of the two sexes are quite indistinguishable. On
     June 3, 1916, I observed closely the courtship of three knots high
     up on one of the plateaus of Numataksuah, back of North Star Bay.
     Two males (?) were evidently pursuing one female (?), she leading,
     they winging rapidly in her wake, contending as they flew;
     apparently all uttered the shrill piercing call to which the knots
     so frequently give voice during the mating and nesting season of
     early summer, and which one rarely, if ever, hears after the young
     are hatched. In great circles they flew, now and then stooping to a
     zigzag pirouetting and dodging, again rising in wide circles until
     they disappeared from sight in the bright sky, though their shrill
     calls came to earth as sharp and clear as ever.

     In the ecstasy of the mating season a single bird may indulge
     himself (?) in a kind of dance flight alone. He rises high above
     the hills, sweeping the sky in great graceful circles not unlike
     the stately flight of the sparrow hawk, so smooth and calm it
     seems. From time to time he utters the shrill, clarion call of the
     mating season, or the soft _coo-yee_ that is most common about the
     nesting grounds. Then suddenly he drops wildly, tumbling and
     tossing like a night jar at sunset, as suddenly to break his fall
     and soar for miles on still, outstretched wings, not a movement

Mr. Manniche (1910) refers to it as follows:

     The male suddenly gets up from the snow-clad ground, and producing
     the most beautiful flutelike notes, following an oblique line with
     rapid wing strokes, mounts to an enormous height often so high that
     he can not be followed with the naked eye. Up here in the clear
     frosty air he flies around in large circles on quivering wings and
     his melodious far-sounding notes are heard far and wide over the
     country, bringing joy to other birds of his own kin. The song
     sounds now more distant, now nearer, when three or four males are
     singing at the same time. Now and then the bird slides slowly
     downwards on stiff wings with the tail feathers spread; then again
     he makes himself invisible in the higher regions of the air,
     mounting on wings quivering even faster than before. Only now and
     then the observer--guided by the continuing song--succeeds for a
     moment in discerning the bird at a certain attitude of flight, when
     the strong sunlight falls upon his golden-colored breast or light
     wings. Gradually, as in increasing excitement he executes the
     convulsive vibrations of his wings, his song changes to single
     deeper notes--following quickly after each other--at last to die
     out while the bird at the same time drops to the earth on stiff
     wings strongly bent upward. This fine pairing song may be heard for
     more than a month everywhere at the breeding places, and it
     wonderfully enlivens this generally so desolate and silent nature.
     The song will at certain stages remind of the fluting call note of
     the curlew (_Numenius arquatus_), but it varies so much with the
     temper of the bird that it can hardly be expressed or compared with
     anything else.

_Nesting._--The nesting habits of the knot long remained unknown; Arctic
explorers were baffled in their attempts to find the nest; and the eggs
were among the greatest desiderata of collectors. This is not to be
wondered at, however, when we consider the remoteness of its far
northern breeding grounds, its choice of its nesting sites on high
inland plains, its widely scattered nests, and its habit of sitting very
closely on its eggs and not returning to them after flushing. Col. H. W.
Feilden (1879) writes:

     Night after night I passed out on the hills trying to find the nest
     of the knot. Not a day passed without my seeing them feeding in
     small flocks; but they were very wild, rising with shrill cries
     when one approached within a quarter of a mile of the mud flats on
     which they were feeding. It is very extraordinary, considering the
     hundreds of miles traversed by myself and my companions--all of us
     on the lookout for this bird's eggs, and several of us experienced
     bird's-nesters--that we found no trace of its breeding until the
     young in down were discovered.

Some of the earlier records of knot's nests are open to doubt, but there
can be no doubt about the two nests found by Peary in 1909. Referring to
his own failure and Peary's success, Colonel Feilden (1920) says:

     The nests and eggs of the knot were obtained by Peary in the
     vicinity of Floeberg Beach where the "Nares" expedition of 1875-76
     wintered on the exposed coast of Grinnell Land north of 82° N.
     lat., and where Peary, on the _Roosevelt_, wintered in 1908 and
     1909 at Cape Sheridan some 3 or 4 miles farther north, and which
     was the base for his ever-memorable adventure to the North Pole.
     Probably the reason why we failed in 1876 to obtain the eggs was
     due to our ignorance of the localities selected by the birds for
     nesting. We saw the birds circling over and feeding around the
     small pools of water left by the melted snow, which here and there
     were surrounded by sparse tufts of vegetation, and we gave too much
     of our scanty time to the searching of the marshy spots. Peary's
     photographs show that in Grinnell Land the knot has its nests on
     the more elevated slopes and surfaces covered by frost-riven rocks
     and shales. The finding of a knot's nest in Grinnell Land is not an
     easy task, and it is highly commendable that Peary on his return
     from the North Pole to Cape Sheridan, and in the midst of his
     engrossing and more important duties found occasions to take the
     unique photographs here reproduced.

Two nests with eggs were found by the Crockerland expedition in
northwestern Greenland, of which Doctor Ekblaw has sent me the following

     Though level lands along the shores and the river valleys, or about
     the pools constitute the feeding grounds of the knots, the high
     plateaus far back among the hills, covered with glacial gravel or
     frost-riven rubble, furnish their nesting sites. By this rather
     anomalous choice of nesting site, the knot was long able to keep
     its nest and eggs a secret, and it was not until the members of the
     Crockerland Arctic Expedition persistently ran down every clue that
     two full clutches of eggs in the nests were discovered in June,
     1916, on a high flat-topped ridge back of North Star Bay, at least
     3 miles from shore.

      The nests are placed in shallow depressions among the brown clumps
      of _Dryas integrifolia_ and _Elyna bellardi_ which grow among the
      rubbles and gravel of the high ridges. The nest is merely a small
      hollow, apparently rudely shaped by the nesting bird. The bird in
      the nest is so like the terrane about her, that she is well-nigh
      indistinguishable from it, even to one who knows exactly where she
      is sitting. Trusting to her effective concealment, the mother bird
      does not flush from the nest until almost pushed from it. When I
      placed a camera only a foot from the sitting bird she did not
      leave it. Though frightened so sorely that she panted and her
      heart beat visibly, she stuck to her precious eggs. Her head
      turned to the wind, she crouched flat upon the eggs, her feathers
      ruffled wide to hide them. When finally I placed my hand upon her,
      she broke away, trying by the well-known shore-bird device of
      feigning injury and inability to fly to draw the intruders away.
      The bird did not appear at all shy and when she failed to draw us
      away, remained near us, evidently anxious, but trying to appear
      unconcerned. Now and then she uttered a soft, but sharply pleading
      call, more plaint than protest. One nesting bird did not leave her
      eggs until Doctor Hunt pushed her, protesting plaintively quite
      away from the nest, with the stock of his rifle.

A set of four eggs in Edward Arnold's collection was taken by Capt.
Joseph Bernard, July 1, 1918, on Taylor Island, Victoria Land. The nest
was in a dry spot in a wet marsh; there was a snow bank 50 yards from
the nest and a pond on the south side of the nest 100 yards away. He
watched the nest for three or four hours, from a hill 500 yards away,
but did not see the bird again.

_Eggs._--The knot lays four eggs, perhaps sometimes only three. The eggs
are ovate pyriform in shape, with a slight gloss. In the set of three
eggs, taken by the Crockerland expedition and now in Col. John E.
Thayer's collection, the ground colors vary from "pale olive buff" to
"olive buff"; they are spotted all over, but more thickly at the larger
end, with small spots or scrawls of "sepia," "Saccardo's umber," and
"Vandyke brown," with underlying spots of "pallid" and "pale brownish

The other set of four eggs, from the same source and now in the American
Museum of Natural History, is thus described for me by Ludlow Griscom:

     Ground color varying from white with the faintest tinge of light
     olive (1 egg) to "olive buff" (2 eggs) and deep "olive buff" (1
     egg); clouded and spotted, especially at the larger end, with
     shades of color varying from "dark olive buff" to "olive brownish,"
     the intensity varying in direct proportion to the intensity of the
     ground color; where the spots coalesce into blotches at the larger
     end of the darkest egg, the color is blackish brown; the spotting
     is scant at the smaller end.

Referring in his notes to the same two sets of eggs, Doctor Ekblaw
describes the ground colors as varying from very light pea-green, almost
gray, to dark pea-green, "with brown, umber, and almost black dots and
blotches of varying size and shape over the green, and faint subcrustal
lavender blotches showing through." Other eggs which I have seen figured
or described would fit these descriptions fairly well. The measurements
of 42 eggs average 43.1 by 29.6 millimeters; the eggs showing the four
extremes measure =49.8= by =33.8=, =39.9= by 29.7 and 41.5 by =27.7=

_Young._--The period of incubation is said to be between 20 and 25 days.
Both sexes have been taken with incubation patches, so this duty is
doubtless shared by both. I quote from Doctor Ekblaw's notes again:

     Though we found but two clutches of eggs, we discovered many
     families of young birds. They are able to leave the nest as soon as
     hatched, little gray downy chicks with faint blotches of brown, so
     like the dried tufts of _dryas_ as to be quite undiscoverable when
     hidden among them. Three or four, or rarely five, chicks constitute
     the group. Their faint plaintive "cheeps" are so ventriloquistic
     and illusory that it is impossible to distinguish the direction
     from which they come. When an intruder approaches the little
     fellows squat at the signal from the parent bird wherever they
     happen to be at the time, and remain immovable as the pebbles and
     tufts of _dryas_ until the danger is over, even though it be hours
     before the safety seems assured. Even the tiniest of these downy
     fledglings seem able to look after themselves. They run eagerly and
     constantly about independently pursuing the moths, crane flies, and
     flies upon which they feed, often 40 or 50 feet from their mother.
     The first signal from the mother, a mellow, solicitous _coo-ee_
     transforms them into immovable pebbles or tufts of _dryas_. When
     they are discovered and realize that their concealment is no longer
     effective, they scatter panic stricken like a flock of little
     chickens, chirping appealingly to their "mother" who dashes
     valiantly to their defense, quite beside "herself" with concern,
     fear, and anger.

     Whenever the jaegers, relentless brigands of birdland, appear, the
     old knots do not hesitate to attack. In combining their forces,
     they drive full into the bigger birds, striking them from beneath
     again and again, until they chase them away. The young grow fast.
     In three weeks after hatching they are almost full grown and
     half-clothed in feathers, quite capable of taking care of
     themselves. They stay until they leave among the interior plains
     and plateaus, coming down to shore only when they are able to
     fly--and then the southward migration begins at once.

     Apparently, the knots, like the phalaropes, reverse part of their
     secondary sex characteristics, for all the birds caring for the
     young that I collected were males, beyond doubt. When I examined
     the first bird that I collected with its young, I was surprised to
     find that the supposed "mother," who had so valiantly and zealously
     shielded "her" little ones, was actually father. I thought then
     that perhaps the mother bird had been killed and that in the
     emergency the father had assumed the responsibility for the
     youngsters; but later I became convinced by examination of many
     birds, that invariably it is the male that cares for the fledglings
     after they are hatched. The female incubates the eggs, but the male
     relieves her of further care in bringing up the family.

_Plumages._--In its natal down the young knot can be easily recognized
by the grayish, mottled colors on the upper parts and the absence of
browns and bright buffs. The shape of the bill, characteristic of the
species, is also diagnostic. The crown, back, rump, wings, and thighs
are finely mottled or spotted with black, white, gray and dull "cinnamon
buff," the last being the basal color. The forehead, the sides of the
head, the throat, and the entire under parts are dull white, tinged with
grayish on the flanks and crissum. There is a broad median stripe on the
forehead, a broad loral stripe from the bill to the eye and a narrower
rictal stripe of black.

The juvenal plumage appears first on the wings, scapulars, and sides of
the breast; the primaries burst their sheaths before the young bird is
half grown. In the juvenal plumage, as seen on migration in August, the
crown is heavily streaked with blackish brown, the feathers being edged
with light buff; the feathers of the back and scapulars have an outer
border of light buff, then a black border, then another buff, and
sometimes a faint black border inside of that; the greater and median
wing coverts have a terminal buff and a subterminal black border; the
tail feathers are edged with buff and the under parts are more or less
suffused with pale buff. Probably the buff is brighter and deeper in
fresh plumage and it fades out to white before this plumage is molted.

A postjuvenal molt takes place, between September and December, of the
body plumage, some scapulars and some wing coverts. This produces the
first winter plumage, which is like that of the adult, except for the
retained juvenal scapulars and wing coverts. I have seen birds in this
plumage as early as September 30. A partial prenuptial molt, similar to
that of the adult, produces during the spring a first nuptial plumage in
which young birds can be distinguished from adults by varying amounts of
retained winter feathers. At the next complete molt, the first
postnuptial young birds assume the fully adult winter plumage.

Adults have a partial prenuptial molt between February and June,
involving most of the body plumage, but not all of the scapulars, wing
coverts, and tertials. There is much individual variation in the time of
this molt. I have seen birds in full nuptial plumage as early as March
21 and in full winter plumage as late as May 13. The complete
postnuptial molt begins in July with the body molt, which is usually
completed before October. I have seen adults in full nuptial plumage as
late as September 6. The red-breasted birds reported by Mr. Mackay
(1893) as shot on Cape Cod in December and February must have been
exceptional cases of delayed or omitted molt; the February birds may
have been cases of early spring molt.

_Food._--Doctor Ekblaw says:

     Their food when they first come to the North is scarce, and when
     the weather is unduly unfavorable they are hard put to it to find
     enough to live. They probe about the grasses and sedges on the wet
     moors and along the swales and pools, and sometimes wade breast
     deep into the water to pick out the small but abundant life that
     swarms in some of the pools, mostly crustacea and larvae. The upper
     mandible is relatively soft and pliant. Sometimes they search the
     tide pools left at low water, or poke about the rocks and gravel
     along shore.

Other Arctic explorers have referred to the scanty food of the knot in
the north; H. Chichester Hart (1880) says that "of a number of knots'
stomachs examined, only one contained any food; this consisted of two
caterpillars, one bee, and pieces of an Alga;" Colonel Feilden (1879)
saw knots "feeding eagerly on the buds of _Saxifraga oppositifolia_;"
Mr. Manniche (1910) "saw them running on the snow eagerly occupied in
picking up the seed of _Carex_ and _Lazula_ tufts, the ends of which
here and there appeared over the snow." Later on, when the ponds and
marshes are teeming with animal life, they have plenty of food.

With us, on migrations, the knots feed mainly on the sandy and stony
beaches, moving deliberately along in compact groups close to the
water's edge, probing in the sand for minute mollusks and small
crustaceans. On the sandy beaches on the west coast of Florida, the wet
sand is filled with minute shellfish known as _Coquinas_, on which the
knots seemed to be feeding. They also feed to some extent on the mud
flats and sand flats with the black-bellied plover, where they find
marine insects and their larvae. Mr. Mackay (1893) says "they also eat
the larvae of one of the cutworms (Noctuidae) which they obtain on the
marshes," some of which he has found in their throats when shot. Edward
H. Forbush (1912) says: "They are fond of the spawn of the horsefoot
crab, which, often in company with the turnstone, they dig out of the
sand, sometimes fighting the former birds before they can claim their
share." W. L. McAtee (1911) says that they also feed on grasshoppers and
on marine worms of the genus _Nereis_.

_Behavior._--The knots fly swiftly in compact flocks, twisting and
turning in unison like the smaller sandpipers, for which they might
easily be mistaken at a distance. On the ground they are rather
deliberate in their movements, generally grouped in compact bunches and
all moving along together; they are less likely to scatter over their
feeding grounds than other waders. When resting on the high beaches
between tides they stand quietly in close groups, all facing the wind;
their grey plumage renders them quite inconspicuous at such times. F. H.
Allen tells me that he has seen half a dozen of them hopping about on
one leg in shallow water; this may be a sort of game, frequently
indulged in by many small waders.

Mr. Manniche (1910) says:

     Peculiar to this species is its restless character. The resident
     couples would every day make long excursions, not only to seek
     food, but probably also for pleasure. Their great power of flight
     makes them able to do this without difficulty. In rapid high flight
     they are now here and now there. I often saw them set out in a
     northern direction high over the summits of the mountains or in a
     southern far out over the ice in the firths, to return after a
     short while.

     In the breeding season the male is pugnacious and quarrelsome
     against birds of its own kin as well as against other small birds,
     which appear within his domain. Uttering a short cry he will fly
     up and pursue the intruder in the most violent manner and often he
     would follow it so far away, that I could not see them, even
     through my field glass. He would soon return, and
     having--triumphantly fluting--circled around several times, go
     down to his mate. I have seen the knot pursue even skuas.

Mr. Mackay (1893) writes:

     On the ground they are sluggish and not given to moving about much;
     unless very much harassed they are not nearly so vigilant as their
     companions, the black-bellied plover, but when they have become shy
     they are exceedingly wary and always on the alert for danger. When
     the incoming tide drives the knots from the flats they seek the
     marshes or some shoal which is sufficiently elevated to remain
     uncovered during high water; they also frequent the crest of the
     beaches. Here they generally remain quiet until the tide has fallen
     sufficiently to permit them to return again to the flats to feed.
     When on the marshes during high water they occupy some of the time
     in feeding, showing they are by no means dependent on the flats for
     all their food. They associate and mingle freely with the turnstone
     (_Arenaria interpres_), black-bellied plover (_Charadrius
     squatarola_), and red-backed sandpiper (_Tringa alpina pacifica_)
     as with their own kind, and apparently evince the same friendship
     toward the two former birds as prevails between the American golden
     plover (_Charadrius dominicus_) and the Eskimo curlew (_Numenius
     borealis_). I have heard of but one instance (at Revere, Mass.,
     during a storm) of the knot being noted in the same flock with
     adult American golden plover. At this time there were three, one of
     which was shot. I have heard, however, of both adult and young
     knots mingling with young American golden plover, or
     "pale-bellies," as they are locally called.

_Voice._--The same writer says:

     They make two notes. One is soft, of two articulations, and sounds
     like the word "Wah-quoit" (by which name it is sometimes known on
     Cape Cod); although uttered low, it can be heard quite a distance.
     This note is particularly noticeable when flocks are coming to the
     decoys; it has a faint rolling sound similar to the note of the
     American golden plover (_Charadrius dominicus_) under the same
     conditions, only more subdued and faint. The other is a single note
     resembling a little honk. These birds will also respond to the note
     of the black-bellied plover (_Charadrius squatarola_) as readily as
     to their own when it is given with a whistle.

Roland C. Ross (1924) gives the following graphic description of the
croaking note:

     The common call is a low-pitched, hoarse "skeuk," the lowest and
     heaviest voice on the flats. It struck me as a dull croak, coming
     pretty regularly from the feeding birds, and especially strong when
     they took wing. A lone bird in joining the flock would croak his
     coming. The sound can be imitated in quality and form but in a
     higher pitch. Make the facial contortions necessary to "cluck" to a
     horse, but don't "cluck"; make it "skeuk," and locate it in the
     wisdom teeth on the side being dislocated. Pitch it low; it will
     still be two tones too high. At a distance the sucking or harsh
     quality is lost. A softer, more musical rendition is given when the
     birds are well bunched and feeding, which came to my ear as

John T. Nichols (1920) says: "The flight note of the knot is a
low-pitched whistle, frequently in two parts, with a peculiar lisp or
buzz in it, _tlu tlu_."

Doctor Ekblaw describes the notes heard on the breeding grounds as

     Four distinct calls characterize the mating and nesting season.
     Most common are two piercingly shrill calls uttered generally on
     the wing, one of them resembling _wah-quoi_ and the other
     _wee-a-whit_, easily distinguished, but somewhat alike. The
     long-drawn-out _coo-a-hee_, or _coo-hee_, is a soft, flutelike call
     also given in flight, but nearly always back among the hills, far
     from the shore where the nests are hidden. This flutelike call
     appears to be a signal or recognition call. The fourth call is a
     sharp, querulous _whit_, _whit_, _whit_, almost like a cluck, often
     given singly, but more often many times repeated. When their
     nesting haunts are invaded or their feeding grounds disturbed this
     call expresses their displeasure.

_Field marks._--In spring plumage the knot is easily recognized by its
reddish breast, which, however, is not as conspicuous as might be
expected. In immature and winter plumage the best character is the
absence of any conspicuous field mark. Even in flight it seems to be a
plain gray bird; the rump and tail appear but little lighter than the
rest of the upper parts and the faint white line in the wings is hardly
noticeable. Its larger size will hardly distinguish it from the smaller
sandpipers except by direct comparison. Its short, greenish yellow legs
and its prominent bill might help one to recognize it under favorable

_Fall._--Doctor Ekblaw says:

     As soon as the water begins to grow cold, when insect and other
     small life becomes scarce, and when the midnight sun approaches the
     horizon, the knots abandon the northland, plump and strong from
     their summer stay in the Arctic, and wend their way to the
     southland. Not even a belated straggler can be found after August

The adults begin to arrive on Cape Cod about the middle of July; the
height of their abundance comes about the first week in August and most
of them disappear during that month, although Mr. Mackay (1893) has
recorded them in October, December, and February. The young birds begin
to arrive there about August 20, but the main flight of "graybacks," as
the young are called on this coast, comes along in September and early
October, stragglers sometimes lingering into November. When with us,
knots frequent the beaches; although they are found on both sandy and
stony beaches, I have sometimes thought that they preferred the pebbly
beaches, feeding close to the water line, where they are often
surprisingly invisible among the variously colored stones. They are not
shy, as a rule, and generally allow a close approach before they fly off
swiftly, uttering their characteristic notes. At high tide, when their
feeding grounds are covered, they resort to the high beaches to rest,
preen their plumage, and sleep.

By July 20 the first birds have reached South Carolina, where some
remain until October 15. We saw what was probably the last of the
migration on the west coast of Florida in 1924. The knots were there
when we arrived on November 11. During a northerly gale and after a
heavy rain on the 21st I saw several small flocks on the high and dry
sand of an exposed beach, huddled together in compact bunches and
reluctant to move. The last birds were seen on the 26th.

In the interior the knot seems to be even rarer in the fall than in the
spring, but on the Pacific coast the reverse seems to be the case. It is
regarded as rather rare in Alaska, but F. S. Hersey collected a small
series for me at St. Michael on August 4 and 8, 1915, and H. B. Conover
took two at Golovin Bay on August 14, 1924. D. E. Brown's notes record
them at Grays Harbor, Washington, from August 21 to November 2, 1917.

_Game._--Although no longer on the game-bird list, the knot is a good
game bird. It flies in compact flocks, comes well to the decoys when
attracted by the whistle of an experienced caller, flies rather swiftly,
and makes a good table bird, for it is of good size and usually fat. It
was always included in the list of what we used to call "big birds." On
Cape Cod knots in all plumages are called "redbreasts" by the gunners,
though the name "grayback" is often applied to the young birds. Mr.
Mackay (1893) says:

     When shy and coming to decoys to alight, they barely touch their
     feet to the sand before they discover their mistake and are off in
     an instant. They fly quickly and closely together and, when coming
     to decoys, usually pass by them down wind, most of the flock
     whistling, then suddenly wheeling with heads to the wind, and up to
     the decoys. At such times many are killed at one discharge.

Dr. L. C. Sanford (1903) writes:

     One of my pleasant recollections of shore-bird shooting is
     associated with this bird. I give the date with some hesitation,
     for it was May 10, near Cobb Island. During several days previous
     redbreast had been flying, but the tides were not suitable, and it
     was useless to try for them. Here the flight is along the outer
     beach, at the edge of the surf, the birds stopping to feed on the
     mud flats exposed by the falling tide. The sun was not up and the
     water still high as we set the decoys off one of the points along
     the beach, close to the breaking waves; the blind was of seaweed,
     and before we were settled the first flock passed by high up, but a
     pair of birds dropped out of it and hovered in front of us; another
     minute and 10 more swung in. Flock after flock, from a few birds to
     hundreds, passed in the same line, coming into sight over the
     ocean, striking the beach and following its edge--now low just over
     the surf, now high up--the first light of sunrise giving them a
     black appearance. The undulating character of the flight was
     unmistakable and was in evidence when the dark line first
     appeared--now distinct on the horizon, presently out of sight in
     the waves, all of a sudden rising up over the decoys to circle in.
     Our chance lasted only a few minutes, for when the flat was exposed
     the birds all passed by out of range; occasionally we whistled in
     an odd one, but the flocks shied off. As we carried back our basket
     of birds it did not occur to us that the experience of that morning
     would be our last flight of redbreast, but it was.


_Breeding range._--The breeding range of the knot in North America is
imperfectly known, but appears to extend north to Franklin (Winter
Harbor, Victoria Land, and Goose Fiord), and Grinnell Land (Fort
Conger). East to Greenland (Floeberg Beach, Cape Sheridan, North Star
Bay, Tuctoo Valley, Bowdoin Bay, and Disco Bay). South to southwestern
Greenland (Disco Bay) and southern Franklin (Igloolik, Winter Island,
and Cambridge Bay). West to Franklin (Cambridge Bay and Winter Harbor).
Birds breeding in northeast Greenland may be the European form.

It has also been detected in summer in Alaska at Point Barrow, Point
Hope, St. Michael, and other localities, where it may possibly breed.

_Winter range._--Not well known but in the Western Hemisphere, seemingly
most of South America, from Patagonia (Tierra del Fuego) and Argentina
(Barracus al Sud and Cape San Antonio) on the south, Peru (Santa Luzia
and probably Tumbez) on the west, Brazil (Iguape) on the east, to
possibly Jamaica, Barbados, rarely Louisiana (Vermilion Bay), and
Florida (St. Marks).

_Spring migration._--Early dates of spring arrival on the Atlantic coast
are: South Carolina, Frogmore, April 8, and Egg Bank, April 16; North
Carolina, Pea and Brodie Islands, April 18; Virginia, Locustville, April
10; New Jersey, Absecon Bay, April 21; New York, Long Beach, Long
Island, April 29, and Canandaigua Lake, May 23; Connecticut, Norwalk,
May 24, Fairfield, May 29, and Westport, May 30; Massachusetts,
Tuckernuck Island, May 11, Franklin, Igloolik, June 14; and Greenland,
Jacobshaven, June 3, and Cape Union, June 5.

On the Pacific coast, early dates are: California, Alameda, April 25;
Washington, Destruction Island Light, May 6, and Willapa Harbor, May 11
[once at Dungeness, on February 25, 1915 (Cantwell)]; British Colombia,
Fort Simpson, May 13; and Alaska, Nulato, May 10, Craig, May 13,
Admiralty Island, May 14, St. Michael, May 29, and Point Barrow, May 30.

Late dates of spring departure are: South Carolina, near Charleston,
June 5; Virginia, Cape Charles, June 10, Cobb Island, June 25, and
Wallop's Island, June 27; New Jersey, Cape May County, June 3, and
Elizabeth, June 11; New York, Amityville, May 31, and Geneva, June 8;
and Massachusetts, Cape Cod, June 13, Harvard, June 19, Marthas
Vineyard, June 24, and Monomoy Island, June 28.

_Fall migration._--Early dates of arrival in fall migration are:
Washington, Lake Oxette, July 12; California, Alameda, August 1,
Monterey, August 7, and Santa Barbara, August 21; Massachusetts, Cape
Cod, July 15, Marthas Vineyard, July 24, Dennis, July 27, and Monomoy
Island, July 30; Rhode Island, Newport, August 1; Connecticut, Saybrook,
August 21; New York, East Hampton, July 27, Dutchess County, July 30,
Rockaway, August 12, Montauk Point Light, August 14, And Amityville,
August 23; New Jersey, Tuckerton, July 3; Virginia, Wallops Island,
August 12; North Carolina, Pea and Brodie Islands, July 8; South
Carolina, near Charleston, July 20; Florida, Marco, July 1, and Lesser
Antilles, Barbados, September 6.

Late dates of fall departure are: Alaska, St. Michael, August 14, Point
Barrow, August 17, and Homer, August 23; Washington, Grays Harbor,
November 2; California, Anaheim Landing, October 3, and San Diego,
October 9; Greenland, Discovery Bay, August 25; Franklin, Winter Island,
August 17; Prince Edward Island, Alexandra, September 24; Quebec,
Godbout, August 7, Henley Harbor, August 23, and Old Fort Island,
September 30; Massachusetts, Marthas Vineyard, October 8, and Monomoy
Island, October 28; Rhode Island, South Auburn, September 3, and
Newport, September 14; Connecticut, Saybrook, September 25; New York,
Shinnecock Bay, September 16, Freeport, September 26, Penn Yan, October
15, and Amityville, October 16; Virginia, Wallops Island, September 29;
North Carolina, Church's Island, September 30; South Carolina, near
Charleston, October 15; Georgia, Savannah, September 24; and Lesser
Antilles, Barbados, December 27.

_Casual records._--The knot has on numerous occasions been detected in
the Central or Western States or other points outside of its normal
range. Among these are Vera Cruz, Rivera, April 13, 1904; Texas, Corpus
Christi, July 1 to 10, 1887; Kansas, Hamilton, September 19, 1911, and
Lawrence, April 17, 1871; Nebraska, Omaha, September 30, 1893, and
Lincoln, May 16, 1896, and August 27, 1896; Indiana, near Millers,
August 24, 1896; Minnesota, Lanesboro, September 7, 1885; and Montana,
Lake Bowdoin, October 4, 1915; Ohio, Sandusky River, spring of 1894, and
Licking Reservoir, May 27, 1878; Ontario (occasionally common in
spring), Point Pelee, September 15, 1906, and May 30, 1907, and Ottawa,
June 4, 1890; Michigan, Port Austin, September 4, 1899, Benton Harbor,
June 23, 1904, Forestville, June 20, 1903, Charity Island, September 1,
1910, and Oak Point, August 20-21, 1908; and Alberta, Beaverhill Lake,
May 19-23, 1924.

_Egg dates._--Greenland: 3 records, June 22 and 30, and July 9. Victoria
Land: 3 records, July 1, 9, and 22. Grinnell Land: 2 records, June 26
and 27.



The only North American record for this little known Asiatic species was
established by Alfred M. Bailey (1925), when he captured a single
specimen in northwestern Alaska on May 28, 1922. He says:

     One specimen of this species, an adult male in light plumage, was
     taken at Cape Prince of Wales on May 28. At this date the tundra
     was still covered with snow, but the higher benches of the cape
     were becoming bare. The first arrivals of many species were just
     making their appearance, using these high exposed spots as resting
     places. Among these numerous migrants I took this one straggler. It
     was so tame I collected it with my .32 aux.

It is larger than our knot and is also known as the Japanese knot.
Seebohm (1888) says:

     It is the only _Tringa_ with white on the upper tail coverts which
     has a straight bill more than an inch and a half long. In summer
     plumage it has no chestnut on the under parts, and the chestnut on
     the upper parts is principally confined to the scapulars. In winter
     plumage the two knots scarcely differ except in size. It is very
     closely allied to the common knot.

     The breeding grounds of the Japanese knot are unknown, but
     Middendorff observed it during the whole summer on the southern
     shores of the Sea of Okhotsk, though he obtained no evidence of
     its nesting there. It has occurred on migration in the valley of
     the Ussuri, on the coasts of Japan and China, and on most of the
     islands of the Malay Archipelago. It winters on the coast of
     Australia, has occurred on the Andaman Islands, and in
     considerable numbers on the coast of Scinde.




This hardy northern bird has well been called "winter snipe" and "rock
snipe," for it is known to us only as a winter visitor on rocky shores.
Although it does not breed quite as far north as some species, it
migrates for a shorter distance and winters farther north than any other
wader; in fact, the southern limit of its winter range is far north of
the normal winter range of any other. A. L. V. Manniche (1910) saw only
three purple sandpipers during three seasons in northeastern Greenland,
and the Crockerland expedition saw only one in northwestern Greenland in
four years. Both expeditions were probably north of its normal breeding

_Spring._--As soon as spring asserts itself the purple sandpipers begin
to desert their main winter range on the coast of New England, some
leaving in March and only a very few stragglers lingering into May. On
May 29, 1909, we saw a few late migrants on the south coast of Labrador,
where I secured one in full nuptial plumage. Ludwig Kumlien (1879) says
that the purple sandpiper is the first wader to arrive in the spring at
Cumberland Sound.

     The 4th of June Is the earliest date I met them at Annanactook;
     this was during a heavy snowstorm, and the earliest date possible
     that they could have found any of the rocks bare at low tide. The
     flock lit on the top of one of the small islands in the harbor and
     sheltered themselves from the storm by creeping behind and
     underneath ledges of rocks; they then huddled together like a flock
     of quails in winter. I have often noticed the same habit with them
     in late autumn, while they were waiting for low tide.

_Courtship._--The same writer refers to a courtship performance, as

     As the breeding season approaches the males have a peculiar cry,
     resembling somewhat that of _Actiturus bartramius_, but lower and
     not so prolonged. When this note is uttered they assume a very
     dignified strut, and often raise the wings up over the back and
     slowly fold them again, like the upland plover.

Aubyn Trevor-Battye (1897) says:

     Like all sandpipers, they do much of their courtship on the wing,
     chasing one another in circles with rapid turns and shifts. On the
     ground I have seen the male bird approach the female with trailing
     wings, arched back, and head low down, occasionally hopping, like a
     courting pigeon.

This species seems to be rather rare in Baffin Land. I have two sets of
eggs, given to me by Capt. Donald B. MacMillan, collected with the
parent bird at Cape Dorset. J. Dewey Soper collected a female there,
with enlarged ovaries, on June 8; but he saw only three birds during
"the spring and summer of 1926 along the south coast of Baffin Island."
He says in his notes:

     The first sandpiper observed by me the following spring was of this
     species, a solitary male collected on June 2, 1925, at Nettilling
     Lake. The lakes were still ice-bound and the land mostly covered
     with snow, but here and there were small open pools. Along the
     border of one of these the bird was feeding in the thin layer of
     thawed mud among the grassy hummocks. On June 11, in the same
     locality near the Takuirbing River, several were observed and
     collected. When flushed they emit a grating _ick-ick-ick_ and when
     not too hard pressed will often light again a few yards away. They
     flush sluggishly, and when not come upon too abruptly will
     frequently elevate the wings leisurely above the back, as though
     stretching them before taking flight. On the whole, at this time,
     they were comparatively fearless and permitted close approach. Only
     one was observed giving a vocal performance on the wing. It rose
     slowly from the ground to a height of 15 or 20 feet and leisurely
     flying over the tundra gave a series of low, musical staccato notes
     resembling _to-wit-to-wit-to-wit-to-wit_, etc. The performance
     continues unbrokenly while the bird remains in the air over a
     distance of 25 or 30 yards.

_Nesting._--Rev. Henry H. Slater (1898) says:

     In the extreme north the nest is often quite close to the sea,
     little above high-water mark. But in Iceland and at the southern
     borders of its breeding range generally the purple sandpiper
     usually nests on the fells. My first nest, from which I shot the
     female mentioned above, was near the top of a high ridge in north
     Iceland, nearly 1,600 feet above sea level, on a small bare patch
     of recently uncovered ground amongst snow fields; it was a slight
     hollow in a withered tuft of _Dryas octopetala_, and rather a
     substantial nest for a wader, consisting of a good handful of
     leaves of _Dryas_ and _Salix lanata_, a little short grass, two
     white ptarmigan's feathers and a few of the parents'.

W. C. Hewitson (1856) quotes Mr. Wolley as saying that in the Faeroes,
"it breeds sparingly on the very tops of high mountains, where I found
its young at the end of June still unable to fly."

Messrs. E. Evans and W. Sturge (1859) found the purple sandpiper
breeding in Spitsbergen; they say:

     The purple sandpiper (_Tringa maritina_, Brünn.) was very abundant
     in Coal Bay (on the south side of Ice Sound, so named on account of
     a small quantity of poor coal being found there), and we found four
     of their nests on the high field. Beautiful little nests they were,
     deep in the ground, and lined with stalks of grass and leaves of
     the dwarf birch (_Betula nana_, L.), containing mostly four eggs of
     an olive green, handsomely mottled with purplish brown, chiefly at
     the larger end. We watched this elegant little bird--the only one
     of the _Grallatores_ we saw--with much interest as it waded into
     some pool of snow water or ran along the shingle, every now and
     then raising its wings over its back and exhibiting the delicate
     tint of the under side, at the same time uttering its loud shrill

No recent accounts of the nesting habits of this species seem to have
been published and the data on eggs in collections seem to be rather
scanty. I have never found a nest myself. Both sexes are said to
incubate the eggs and share in the care of the young. The period of
incubation is over 20 days.

_Eggs._--A very good description of the eggs is given by Seebohm (1884)
as follows:

     The eggs of the purple sandpiper are four in number and remarkably
     handsome. They vary in ground color from pale olive to pale buffish
     brown, boldly mottled, blotched, and streaked with reddish brown
     and very dark blackish brown. On some eggs the blotches are large,
     and chiefly distributed in an oblique direction round the large
     end; on others they are more evenly distributed over the entire
     surface; and on many a few very dark scratches, spots, or streaks
     are scattered here and there amongst the brown markings. The
     underlying markings are numerous and conspicuous, and are pale
     violet gray or grayish brown in color.

Frank Poynting's (1895) colored plate of 12 selected eggs well
illustrates the great variation in the beautiful eggs of this species.
There are two distinct types of ground color, green and buff. In the
green types the colors vary from "yellowish glaucous" to a light shade
of "grape green"; and in the buff types from "cream buff" to "dark olive
buff." They are sometimes evenly, but more often irregularly, spotted
and blotched with various shades of brown, "sepia," "bister," and "snuff
brown," sometimes boldly marked with "chocolate" and "burnt umber" and
sometimes with great splashes of "vinaceous brown" overlaid with
blotches of "chestnut brown" and "bay," a handsome combination. The
measurements of 100 eggs, supplied by Rev. F. C. R. Jourdain, average
37.3 by 26.5 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure
=40= by =28=, =35.1= by 26.6 and 37.3 by =24.8= millimeters.

_Plumages._--The nestling is described in Witherby's Handbook (1920) as

     Fore part of crown warm buff; black-brown median line from base of
     upper mandible to crown; crown and upper parts velvety black-brown,
     down with numerous cream and warm buff tips; nape light buff, down
     with sooty-brown bases; from base of upper mandible above eye to
     nape a black-brown streak, another short one from base of lower
     mandible, ear coverts as crown; cheeks warm or light buff, down
     with black-brown tips; remaining under parts grayish white, down
     sooty brown toward base.

The juvenal plumage is much like that of the summer adult, except that
the feathers of the crown are tipped with creamy white, as are also the
central tail feathers; the feathers of the mantle and scapulars are
edged with buffy white; and the wing coverts and tertials are broadly
edged with the same color or tipped with pale pinkish buff. The juvenal
body plumage is usually molted before the birds reach us on migration,
when young birds, in first winter plumage, can be recognized by the
broad white edgings of the median coverts and by a few retained
scapulars and tertials. Some of these juvenal feathers are retained
through the next, the partial prenuptial molt. Subsequent molts and
plumages are as in the adult.

Adults have a complete postnuptial molt between August and November and
a partial prenuptial molt from January to May; this latter involves most
of the body plumage, but not all of the scapulars, back, rump, or upper
tail coverts.

_Food._--The favorite feeding places of purple sandpipers are the
wave-washed rocky shores of islands or promontories along the seashore,
with a decided preference for islands. Here, where the rocks are fringed
with rockweed, waving in the restless waves, or covered with barnacles
and various slimy products of the sea, these sure-footed little birds
are quite at home on the slippery rocks, as they glean abundant food at
the water's edge and skillfully avoid being washed away. Yarrell (1871)
says that--

     it may be seen busily employed turning over stones and searching
     among seaweed for the smaller shrimps and sandhoppers which are to
     be found there, and it also feeds on young crabs, marine insects,
     and the soft bodies of animals inhabiting small shells.

Witherby's Handbook (1920) gives its food as--

     varied, including insects: coleoptera (_Otiorhynchus_), diptera
     (larvae of _Chironomus_), also spiders, _Thysanura_ (or
     _Collembola_), annelida and crustacea (_Amphipoda_, _Isopoda_,
     _Orchestia_, _Idotea_, _Gammarus_, and _Podocerus_) as well as
     mollusca (_Mytilus_, _Littorina_, _Purpura_, etc.). Vegetable
     matter is also eaten including algae, grasses, moss, buds, and
     leaves of phanerogams and remains of cryptogams. Seeds of
     _Cochlearia_ have been identified and small fish (_Gobius_) nearly
     1 inch long, as well as ova of lumpsucker.

_Behavior._--The flight of the purple sandpiper suggests at times that
of the spotted sandpiper, for when disturbed singly along the shore it
is apt to fly out over the water with rapid downward wing strokes and,
describing a large semicircle, return to the shore some distance ahead.
When flying in a flock the birds are often closely bunched, the whole
flock wheeling and turning in unison, showing alternately their dark
bodies and their white bellies, in true sandpiper fashion. As a rule
they do not make very long flights or fly very high. Their migrations
are short and deliberate. They are rather sedentary birds and can
generally be found in certain favorite localities all winter and year
after year. But, as they show a decided preference for the outer sides
of surf-swept ledges, they are not often seen from the land. They can
swim almost as well as phalaropes and in calm weather they will often
alight on half submerged seaweed or on the surface of the water. Dr.
Charles W. Townsend (1905), who watched a flock on an island off Cape
Ann, describes their actions as follows:

     They finally alighted on a steeply sloping rock close to the
     water's edge on the northeastern point of the island so that they
     could be watched with binoculars and telescope from the shore.
     Fifty-eight birds were in sight and there were fully half as many
     more on the other side of the rock, hidden from view, except when
     they jumped up from time to time. The flock must have numbered 75.
     The tide was high and the birds were evidently trying to kill time
     until low water, when they could gather their food from the seaweed
     covered rocks. Most of them were resting, squatting on the rock
     with head to the wind, their dark purplish-gray backs contrasting
     strongly with their white bellies. Others were slowly raising their
     wings over their backs, showing the white under surfaces. Again
     they were chasing each other, making the sleepy ones jump suddenly,
     or running up the rock to escape an unusually high wave, fluttering
     with their wings to help themselves. From time to time they were
     joined by bunches of from 5 to 10 others.

_Voice._--This species is a rather silent bird, but John T. Nichols says
in his notes: "When about to take wing a flock of purple sandpipers is
rather noisy, keeping up a swallowlike chatter, each single-syllabled
note suggestive of the _flip_ of the tree swallow and of the _kip_ of
the sanderling."

_Field marks._--A sandpiper seen on a rocky shore in New England in
winter is likely to be a purple sandpiper. Mr. Nichols suggests the
following field characters:

     The purple sandpiper is a stockily built bird, which stands low and
     has a moderately long bill. Its breast and upper parts of a dark
     purplish gray match admirably the rocks on which it lives, and
     although darker are not very different in tone from the coloring of
     the red-backed sandpiper in fall, with which species it might
     possibly be confused. Both have a white line in the wing shown in
     flight, but in the purple sandpiper this broadens to a more
     conspicuous wedge of white backward on the inner secondaries and
     extends across the bases of the primaries as narrow edging to their
     coverts, rather than turning the bend of the wing into the
     primaries. The best field character is the color of legs and feet,
     which are of a dull but strong yellow, appreciable at a
     considerable distance. The basal third of the bill is of the same,
     but tinged with orange.

_Fall._--The fall migration of the purple sandpiper is a gradual
southward movement along the Atlantic coast. It disappears from its
breeding grounds early in September, but the main flight does not reach
New England until November or December. What few stragglers have been
seen on the Great Lakes were probably migrants from Hudson Bay. E. W.
Hadeler writes to me that he observed one on the shore of Lake Erie,
Painesville, Ohio, from October 22 to November 12, 1916, and again from
October 24 to November 11, 1922. It is interesting to note the
uniformity of the dates and the fact that the species was seen always on
a stone breakwater, apparently feeding exclusively on the water-washed

_Winter._--The purple sandpiper is the "winter snipe" of the New England
coast, where flocks of from 25 to 75 or more may be found regularly on
certain outlying rocky ledges. Here they seek shelter among the rocks
from the flying spray and from the wintry blasts; and here they find
their food washed up by the waves or hidden in the half floating beds of
rockweed. On December 10, 1913, while we were shooting eiders on one of
the outer ledges in Jericho Bay, Maine, a flock of about 50 of these
hardy little birds seemed out of place in our rough surroundings. It was
a cold, blustering day; the surf was breaking over the rocks and the sea
was white with combing breakers; even the hardy sea ducks sought the
shelter of the ledges; but these plump little birds seemed quite happy
and contented as they huddled together in a compact flock on the
slippery rocks. They were very tame and confiding; even the reports of
our guns served only to make them circle out around the ledge a few
times and then return to its shelter. Evidently this was their winter
home. We did not have the heart to shoot any of them.

Mr. Nichols tells me that "very occasionally in winter, early spring or
late fall, one finds single birds on the sandy beaches of New York or
New Jersey south of the rocks."


_Range._--Europe, Asia, and northeastern North America.

_Breeding range._--In the Old World the purple sandpiper breeds in the
Arctic regions from Iceland, Norway, and Spitsbergen east to Nova Zembla
and the Taimyr Peninsula. In North America the breeding range extends
north to Franklin (Igloolik); and Greenland (Hare Island, and Shannon
Islands). East to Greenland (Shannon Islands and Ivimiut). South to
Greenland (Ivimiut and Ivigtut); and Franklin (southern Baffin Island,
Cumberland Sound, and Winter Island). West to Franklin (Winter Island
and Igloolik). It has been detected in summer still farther north;
Franklin (Mercy Bay, Fury Point, Boothia Felix, and Possession Bay); and
Greenland (Bowdoin Bay, Thank God Harbor, North Star Bay, and Fort

_Winter range._--The purple sandpiper winters farther north than any
other shore bird. North and east to southern Greenland (Ivigtut);
eastern Nova Scotia (St. Peter's Island); Massachusetts (Rockport,
Westport, and Boston); Rhode Island (Cormorant Rock); Connecticut
(Saybrook and Faulkner Island); and rarely New York (Gull Island,
Montauk, and Amityville). South to New York (Amityville). West to New
York (Amityville); Connecticut (New Haven); Maine (Cumberland County,
Matinicus Island, and Washington County); New Brunswick (Grand Manan and
the Bay of Fundy); Prince Edward Island; and southern Greenland

_Spring migration._--Early dates of spring arrival are: Franklin,
Annanactook, June 4, Winter Island, June 10, Cambridge Bay, June 10, and
Igloolik, June 14; Greenland, about 72° north latitude, May 29; and
Baffin Island, Cape Dorset, May 30.

Late dates of spring departure are: New York, Sag Harbor, April 18, and
Long Beach, May 4, Rhode Island, Sachuest Point, May 15; Massachusetts,
Dennis, May 5; and Quebec, Prince of Wales Sound, May 27, Quatachoo, May
29, and Mingan Islands, May 29.

_Fall migration._--Early dates of fall arrival are Quebec, Bras d'Or,
August 4; New Brunswick, Grand Manan, August 13; Ontario, Toronto,
October 27, Ottawa, October 29, and Hamilton, October 31; Maine, Metinic
Green Island, August 6, Saddleback Ledge, August 19; Massachusetts, Cape
Cod, September 6, Chatham, September 8, and Nahant, October 13; Rhode
Island, Sachuest Point, September 13; and New York, Montauk, November 1,
Orient, November 1, and Long Beach, November 2.

Late dates of fall departure are: Greenland, Possession Bay, September
1, and Thank God Harbor, September 3; Mackenzie, Great Bear Lake,
September 16; and Franklin, Wellington Channel, August 28, Kingwah
Fjord, September 6, Cumberland Gulf, September 13, and Pangnirtung
Fjord, October 21.

_Casual records._--The purple sandpiper has been reported as seen at the
entrance to St. George Harbor, Bermuda, and there are a few records for
the south Atlantic coast and the interior, among which are: New Jersey,
Delaware Bay (specimen in British Museum), Beach Haven, October 31,
1896, and one found dead at the Absecon Lighthouse; Georgia, one in the
Sennett collection taken, March 5, 1874; Florida, Key Biscayne, October
29, 1857, and Gordan's Pass, November 1, 1886; Missouri, Boonville,
between April 16 and May 31, 1854; Illinois, near Chicago, November 7,
1871; Ohio, Sandusky, November 19, 1925, and Painesville, October 22,
1916, and October 24, 1922; and Wisconsin, Door County, May, 1881.

_Egg dates._--Greenland: 18 records, May 16 to June 30; 9 records, June
1 to 19. Iceland: 6 records, May 21 to June 17. Baffin Island; 2
records, July 21 and 28.




As explained under the Aleutian sandpiper, this bird is probably not a
subspecies of the purple sandpiper; so the name _maritima_ can not be
used for either _ptilocnemis_ or _couesi_. I have therefore thought it
best to follow Ridgway (1919) in the use of his names for the Pribilof
and Aleutian sandpipers, rather than use the Check List names.

The Pribilof sandpiper has the most restricted distribution of any North
American sandpiper. In summer it is confined to the chilly and foggy
uplands of the Pribilof Islands, the equally cool, damp lowlands of St.
Matthew Island, Hall Island, and perhaps St. Lawrence Island, all in
Bering Sea. And its known migration range is limited to a few
localities on the mainland of Alaska and in the Aleutian Islands, where
it probably winters. It may breed more extensively on St. Lawrence
Island than it is now known to do, but it has not yet been found
breeding anywhere on the mainland. G. Dallas Hanna (1921) says:

     I strongly suspect that the birds have some other extensive
     breeding ground than St. George, St. Paul, and St. Matthew Islands,
     because in September and October large flocks come to the two
     former islands; these appear to contain many more individuals than
     are in existence on all three. Whether St. Lawrence Island supplies
     the extra number or not remains for future determination. The
     winter range of the species is practically unknown, the only
     records being from Portage Bay, southeast Alaska, and Lynn Canal,
     between Alaska and British Columbia. The appearance of the birds at
     the former locality in flocks in spring (if identifications were
     correct) indicates that they wintered farther south, probably on
     Vancouver and other islands of British Columbia. They could hardly
     have come from beyond these localities and have remained

_Spring._--The same writer says:

     Spring migration takes place the latter part of April and the first
     half of May. My earliest record for St. Paul Island is April 15
     (1915) when a flock appeared at Northeast Point. The height of
     migration is a little later than that date and may usually be
     expected from the 1st to the 15th of May. Birds are almost
     invariably paired upon arrival. Very few spring flocks have been
     seen on the Pribilofs, and they do not tarry by the beaches, but go
     directly to the upland nesting sites. It seems to be uncommon for
     more than the resident population to land upon an island in spring.
     The birds seem to go directly to the chosen breeding grounds,
     wherever they may be. This fact is of wide application among the
     northern shore birds. Only rare stragglers of such species as
     golden plovers, turnstones, and pectoral and sharp-tailed
     sandpipers stop at the Pribilofs on their way north, but large
     numbers of some of them come in fall.

_Courtship._--Dr. E. W. Nelson (1887) writes:

     The male of the pair seen by me on St. Lawrence Island in June kept
     flying up some 10 or 15 yards, its wings beating with a rapid
     vibrating or tremulous motion, while the bird thus poised trilled
     forth a clear, rather musical and liquid but hard, whistling note,
     which is probably the same note which Elliott likens to the trill
     of the tree frog. The short song ended, the musician glides to the
     ground upon stiffened wings and resumes his feeding or stands
     silently for a time on a projecting rock or knoll.

_Nesting._--We found Pribilof sandpipers very common in July on the low
tundra at the south end of St. Matthew Island, where they were evidently
breeding just back of the beaches. They were also common in the interior
at the north end of this island and on the highlands of Hall Island. We
collected a few specimens of the birds, but had no time to hunt for
nests. We are indebted to Mr. Hanna (1921) for his excellent account of
the nesting habits of this bird, from which I quote as follows:

     On St. George Island the high upland tundra has been chosen for
     breeding ground. Here, among the reindeer "mosses" and light gray,
     lichen-covered rocks the sandpipers reign supreme in the fog. Some
     speculating may be indulged in to find a reason for so unusual a
     choice of locality. Elevations up to 500 feet are sought. Perhaps
     they shun the seacoasts on account of the presence there of large
     numbers of foxes. During all history this has been a greater fox
     island than either St. Paul or St. Matthew. On the latter island in
     June and July the birds may be found in large numbers around and
     back of the driftwood piles. If it were not for this fact being
     known, we might suspect that on St. George the light gray tundra
     was selected for protective purposes, the birds themselves being
     distinguished chiefly by their light colors. St. Paul Island, for
     some unaccountable reason, is not chosen as a breeding ground
     except by a very few pairs. In 1919 not over a dozen were found
     during the entire nesting season, when almost all of the available
     areas were seen.

     On the breeding grounds of St. George and St. Matthew the birds
     are very common, and from one to a dozen are in almost constant
     attendance upon the visitor. They sight him from afar and fly to
     meet him. Some bird will almost always try to lead him astray. If
     followed, it flies from knoll to knoll, often not more than 20
     yards away. It remains in front of the visitor regardless of the
     direction he may take; whether toward or from the nest, makes no
     difference. After several minutes of this a sudden flight, with
     the familiar "song," is taken to some distant hill and the
     searcher for a nest is left confused and confounded.

     A search for the nest will exhaust the patience of any except the
     most persistent collector. Messrs. Compton and Partch have been
     more successful than anyone else in locating them, and all of us
     agree that when a bird flies to meet the visitor, as just
     described, it is a pure waste of time to watch or follow it. Every
     method known to us of locating nests by watching the actions of
     the parents has failed. We have located nests and then endeavored
     to establish rules for guidance with others, but no definite facts
     could be determined. It was finally agreed that it was useless to
     watch a bird under any circumstances more than 15 minutes. If the
     location of the nest is not disclosed in that time, it is safe to
     assume that the mate is on it, and it might be hours before the
     guard would go there. In the meantime it may fly half a mile away
     and forget to come back, even to tease the hopeful collector lying
     concealed in the mist and fog behind some cheerless rock. No
     definite range can be ascribed to any one pair of birds, because
     those off the nests mingle indiscriminately. Very often a bird
     will fly completely out of the range of vision in the fog.

     The action of a bird leaving a nest is unmistakable, and can
     always be recognized, once it is learned. It is a quick, excited,
     jerky flight, very close to the ground, and the bird goes but a
     very few yards until it feigns injury in its endeavor to entice
     the intruder away. It will always flutter in front of a person,
     even though he walk directly toward the nest. When the bird is
     seen to fly, the eggs are even more inconspicuous and difficult to
     find unless the exact spot from which it flew be located. Compton
     thus flushed a bird which he knew had a nest, but he was at a loss
     to find it. At last he left his cane as nearly as possible where
     the nest should have been and repaired to a near-by rock to watch
     and wait. In a few minutes the bird returned to the eggs, which
     were located about a yard from the stick. When the bird is flushed
     from a nest it seldom happens that the other parent is near.

     The nest is a mere depression about three and a half inches wide by
     two and a half inches deep. Most of the material is removed, but it
     is evidently packed down to a certain extent. No foreign material
     is carried at all. The nest is usually, but not necessarily, on
     some very slightly elevated ground and among the lichens called
     "reindeer moss." Some nests have been found where there was an
     admixture of _Hypnum_ moss and again where the dwarf willows creep,
     rootlike, beneath the surface.

_Eggs._--I can not do better than to quote again from Mr. Hanna (1921);
he writes:

     The normal set of eggs consists of four. A greater number has never
     been found, and a less number only when it was uncertain if the
     full set had been laid. As much as three days may intervene between
     egg laying, but usually the four are deposited on successive days.
     When one set of eggs is taken, another will be laid. But the same
     nest is not used the second time, the contentions of some natives
     to the contrary notwithstanding. A set of eggs found as late as
     July 24, 1917, certainly indicated that two may be laid in the same
     season on rare occasions. One set is the rule.

     The color of the eggs is, as would be expected, somewhat variable.
     The lightest set examined in connection with this report has the
     ground color "greenish glaucous." From this there is perfect
     gradation through "court gray" and "light olive gray" to "deep
     olive buff" in the darkest set. Variation in any particular set is
     very slight. Spots are large and bold as a rule. They vary in size
     from 15 millimeters to less than one, and they are usually massed
     about the larger end. In one case the eggs are uniformly spotted
     with small spots all over. In none is the spotting heaviest on the
     smaller end (reversed eggs). Spots are usually inclined to be
     round, but occasionally they are in the form of streaks arranged
     roughly in spiral form. Only rarely are they banded about the
     larger end. In two cases a narrow black line was produced spirally
     on the larger end. The coloration of the spots varies from "snuff
     brown" to "sepia" and from "cinnamon brown" to "mummy brown." In
     some cases they are "raw umber." The darkest shades occur where
     the spots overlap and some deep-seated ones are "pale aniline
     lilac" or "pale" to "deep quaker drab." Only rarely is the outline
     of a spot not sharp.

     The average dimensions derived from the above series of 72 eggs
     are: Length, 39.473 and breadth 27.468. Those which showed the
     extreme measurements were =42.0= by 27.8; =35= by 27.4; 37.6 by
     =39=, and 39.1 by =26.4.=

_Young._--The period of incubation is said to be about 20 days, in which
both sexes share. William Palmer (1899) says:

     The young leave the nest soon after hatching and are thoroughly
     well concealed by their mimicry of the confusing mixture of mosses,
     lichens, and other forms of vegetation which abounds and are so
     well intermingled on these islands. It requires much patience and a
     close scrutiny to detect a crouching young, even when it is
     directly within reach. Obedient to their mother's cries they
     flatten themselves with head and neck extended; with each yard of
     the ground precisely similar in pattern and color with every other
     yard, and the parents, especially the female, trying their best to
     coax us in other directions, and the uncertainty as to the exact
     location of the young, all combine against the collector, so that
     few specimens reward a tramp that seems exasperatingly needless.
     The young will not move, though one stands with the foot touching
     them, but when once handled and released they scamper off with all
     the quickness their long legs can give them. When we invade the
     vicinity of a nest or young it is amusing to watch the antics of
     the female. She invariably flies in front and flutters with feigned
     lameness but a few feet away. If the ground is rough it is more
     amusing to watch the precipitancy of her flight until she
     disappears in a hollow, to reappear in a moment on the other side,
     cautiously turning round and eying us to see if we are following.
     She always keeps in front of us, no matter which way we turn, and
     will continue thus for several hundred yards, when she will
     suddenly fly off to some distance and after waiting awhile will
     return to the vicinity of the nest or young.

Mr. Hanna (1921) writes:

     So far as known, the food of both old and young consists of beetles
     and flies while the birds remain on the highlands; when they move
     to the ponds and seashores they eat copepods, amphipods, etc. As
     soon as the young birds are well able to fly they resort to the
     tide pools and small ponds near the sea. Later the older birds join
     them and the flocks increase in size to several hundred in
     favorable places. This takes place in August and September in such
     localities as the Salt Lagoon of St. Paul Island.

_Plumages._--The color pattern of the downy young Pribilof sandpiper is
similar to that of the Aleutian, but the colors are different, much
duller. The bright browns and buffs of the upper parts are replaced by
"burnt umber," "snuff brown," "clay color," and "cinnamon buff," and the
black markings are largely replaced by dark browns; the black patch in
the center of the back is about as in the Aleutian. The under parts are
less pure white, always suffused with pale buff on the throat and flanks
and sometimes largely so on the breast also.

Mr. Palmer's (1899) studies of the molts and plumages indicate that they
are similar to those of the Aleutian sandpiper; he writes:

     The downy young are beautiful little things, silvery white beneath,
     bright, rich ocherous above, variegated with black and dots of
     white. The general color above lacks the grayness of the similar
     age of _maritimus_. The white dots are interesting under the
     microscope. They are composed of a bunch of highly specialized
     down, in which the radii near the tip are crowded and colorless. As
     they grow older the first feathers appear on the sides of the
     breast, on the back and scapulars; then the primaries and larger
     wing coverts appear. The feathering continues until the breast and
     under parts are covered, when the tail appears. At this time there
     are no feathers on the rump or on the head or neck. In the next
     stage feathers have appeared on the occiput and on the auriculars
     and are also extending up the neck. At the same time the tips of
     the back feathers have become somewhat worn, so that the colored
     margins are narrower and the black more prominent. The wing coverts
     are also to some extent worn on their tips. When the bill is an
     inch long the down has nearly all disappeared, and when it has
     entirely gone the birds appear in small flocks on the beaches, the
     young generally keeping together. Then another change takes place,
     for the entire plumage now gives way to another, that in which the
     bird passes the winter. A few late July, immature birds show the
     beginning, for No. 118832, im. [male], July 29, has a few new
     feathers on the middle of the back and on the scapulars. They soon
     extend all over the back, so that specimens collected up to August
     10 have many of the new whitish feathers on that region.

     The contrast is striking between these feathers, the latest being
     of an almost even shade of pale plumbean with darker centers and
     generally with a narrow white margin. There are no specimens to
     show the complete change, but it is probable that these young birds
     remain on the islands until it is completed. By the middle of June
     the adults have fully changed to the breeding plumage, but on some
     specimens a few feathers of the previous winter's plumage persist
     much later. Thus on many specimens some alternate feathers of the
     scapulars and tertials are of the previous winter's well-worn
     plumage. In fact, few specimens are free from these old feathers.
     Soon after the middle of July the new plumage of the next winter
     begins to appear. At first a few feathers show about the breast,
     then on the scapulars, thence up the neck and over the head, so
     that by the 10th of August they have changed one-half. It would
     thus appear that before this species leaves the islands they assume
     entirely their new dress. And at this season, August 10, old and
     young flock together for the first time, and confine themselves to
     the sand beaches and surf margins about the islands for a few
     weeks, when they take flight by the 1st or 5th of September, and
     disappear until the opening of the new season.

The Pribilof sandpiper is much paler in the juvenal plumage and grayer
in the winter plumage than the Aleutian.

_Food._--Preble and McAtee (1923) report on the contents of 192
stomachs, as follows:

     The articles of food composing more than 1 per cent of the total
     were: Mollusks, 32.63 per cent; crustaceans, 29.15 per cent; flies
     (Diptera), 23.49 per cent; beetles, 10.29 per cent; marine worms,
     1.27 per cent; and vegetable matter, chiefly algae, 1.21 per cent.
     The vegetable matter, besides algae, included bits of moss and a
     few seeds of grass, lupine, violet, crowberry, and bottle brush.

_Behavior._--Referring to the habits of Pribilof sandpipers, Mr. Palmer
(1899) says:

     They appear stupid when solitary and without a family, and will
     stand perfectly still, eying one from a little eminence.
     Occasionally we are startled by a loud _druuett_ from the side of a
     sand dune, and I was at a loss for some time to discover the owner
     of this most unmusical sound, which finally turned out to be an
     individual of this species standing motionless and watching us. It
     would seem impossible for this sound to have issued from this bird
     if I had not seen it in the act. These sandpipers have the habit in
     common with others of their kind of suddenly elevating the wing
     directly over the back. Often when alighting on the tundra, as soon
     as they stopped up went one wing, followed soon after, perhaps, by
     the other. Often while watching a flock on the lagoon beach first
     one would elevate a wing, then another; it was always the near wing
     which went up first. I never saw a bird elevate the off wing first.
     I know of no reason for their doing so. They are tame. I have
     walked up to a flock of about 50, and with care could drive them
     before me for some distance before they took flight, being but a
     few feet away. They are often seen feeding in the water up to their
     breasts, and seem to take delight in it. They swim readily, but not
     often. On June 30 I saw one fly out to a stone in a pool, and after
     gathering all the food possible it deliberately swam to another,
     and having visited each stone in the same way flew back to the
     shore and then bathed itself, occasionally taking a swim.

_Voice._--Mr. Hanna (1921) describes the notes of this bird as follows:

     If a person climbs to the sandpiper country on St. George during
     May or June one of his first surprises will be a series of notes
     very much like those of the flicker, a full deep whistle repeated
     in the same pitch about a dozen times in quick succession. The bird
     utters this while on the wing, most likely when it is coming toward
     the intruder with great speed. When close by it wheels and settles
     lightly on a near-by hummock or "niggerhead." One wing will be held
     vertically extended for a few seconds after alighting and may be
     flashed at short intervals thereafter. Another note for which I
     have no descriptive language always reminded me of the sound of
     tree frogs. It is the note usually given when the birds are on the
     ground. While neither can be called a song they are very attractive
     and pleasant to the listener and most surprising to one familiar
     with the "peep peep" of sandpipers in winter.

_Field marks._--In winter the Pribilof sandpiper looks much like the
purple sandpiper; it frequents similar haunts and has much the same
habits. But its summer plumage, with its rufous upper parts and mottled
under parts, is strikingly different. It resembles the Aleutian
sandpiper in all plumages, but it is decidedly larger and, in summer,
its upper parts are lighter rufous and there is more white in the under

_Fall._--According to Preble and McAtee (1923):

     About the middle of July, when the nesting birds are freed from
     family cares, they begin to resort to the beaches to feed, and at
     night gather in flocks to roost on some favorite rocky point. Later
     the young join the adults and the flocks increase in size through
     August. About August 9 the birds began to be common about the
     beaches, the flocks there apparently being in excess of the number
     breeding on the islands, and in all probability, therefore,
     comprised in part of migrants from other breeding stations. They
     continued to be abundant until my departure on the last of August.

The Pribilof sandpiper is too rare and beautiful to be treated as a game
bird, but Mr. Hanna (1921) writes:

     The birds possess some economic importance to the natives of the
     Pribilofs, and they have occasionally been eaten in the officers'
     messes. Their habit of congregating in fairly compact flocks and
     their fearless unassuming nature make them easy targets. For this
     reason close watch should be kept of the numbers returning
     annually, and should any noticeable diminution take place strict
     prohibitive measures can and should be invoked. This is possible
     because the islands are under strict governmental control as
     regards all wild life. Because of its limited range it would not be
     a difficult matter to completely exterminate the species. Special
     protective measures at this time, however, are not believed to be
     essential because there is even less hunting now than there has
     been for fifty or more years. The introduction of livestock and
     reindeer for fresh food removes in large measure the necessity for
     shooting, and the native is ordinarily too indolent to hunt unless
     he has to do so for food.


_Range._--Known only from the islands in Bering Sea and the coast of

_Breeding range._--The Pribilof sandpiper breeds on the Pribilof Islands
(St. Paul and St. George Islands) and north in Bering Sea to St. Matthew
Island, Hall Island, and St. Lawrence Island.

_Winter range._--The winter range is imperfectly known, but it has been
taken in this season at Portage Bay, Alaska, and probably occupies much
of the Alaskan coast southeastward to (rarely) the Lynn Canal.

_Migration._--They have been noted in spring to arrive at St. Paul
Island March 5; Nushagak, Alaska, April 1 to 14; St. George Island April
23; at St. Paul Island April 24; and Point Dall, Alaska, May 23.

Late departures in the fall have been observed at St. George Island,
October 3; and St. Paul Island November 16.

Early fall arrivals have been noted on the Alaskan coast at Igiak Bay,
July 23; Tigalda Island, August 5; Unimak, August 14; and Dexter, Norton
Sound, August 29.

_Egg dates._--Pribilof Island: 32 records, May 6 to July 2; 16 records,
May 30 to June 11.




I prefer the above scientific name to the Check List name, because I can
not believe that the Aleutian sandpiper is a subspecies of the purple
sandpiper. The Aleutian sandpiper was originally described by Robert
Ridgway (1880) as a distinct species. Later it was treated, and still
stands on our Check List, as a subspecies of the purple sandpiper,
because it somewhat resembles it in its winter plumage. In Mr. Ridgway's
(1919) latest work, he treats it as a subspecies of the Pribilof
sandpiper, a closely related form, which had been previously described;
he there describes it as "similar to _A. p. ptilocnemis_ but decidedly
smaller and much darker in color; the summer plumage with blackish and
rusty or cinnamon-rufous predominating on back and scapulars, and all
the colors much darker and more extended. Very similar in winter plumage
to _A. maritima_, but summer plumage and young very different, both
being conspicuously marked with rusty on back and scapulars, and the
summer plumage with breast conspicuously blotched or clouded with

Among a series of 11 birds of this species, which we collected on Attu
Island, at the extreme western end of the Aleutian Chain, on June 23,
1911, are two birds which closely resemble _ptilocnemis_ in color, but
in size are typical of _couesi_. At least one of them was a breeding
bird, the parent of a brood of downy young, and doubtless both of them
were summer resident birds. Dr. Ernst Hartert (1920) has described the
resident bird of the Commander Islands as a distinct subspecies, under
the name _Erolia maritima quarta_, of which he says: "In full summer
plumage the feather-edgings are broader than in any other form and
brighter, more rusty red, so that the rusty red seems to predominate on
the whole of the upper parts." This description seems to fit our two
birds from Attu Island very well; so that, if _quarta_ is a recognizable
form, as it seems to be, this subspecies should be added to our North
American list. The birds could easily fly across from the Commander
Islands to Attu Island and establish themselves there.

_Spring._--The spring migration of this sandpiper is not extensive. Many
birds have remained all winter on or near their breeding grounds in the
Aleutian Islands; others have wintered along the coast as far south as
Washington. D. E. Brown tells me that they remain on Destruction Island
until May 1 and that they have been seen on Forrester Island as late as
June 15. H. S. Swarth (1911) found them "very abundant" on Kuiu Island
during his stay there from April 25 to May 6; he writes:

     In company with the black turnstone and some other waders, they
     frequented the broad mud flats, which, at low tide, extend over
     hundreds of acres at this point. As the tide advanced their feeding
     grounds became more and more restricted, until, as the last
     available spot was covered, the whole flock departed, with roar of
     wings, to some jutting rocks at the mouth of the bay, there to
     remain, preening their plumage and resting, until the receding
     waters again exposed the mud banks. The flocks seen at this place
     comprised many hundred individuals, and it is curious that the
     species was observed absolutely nowhere else.

Herbert W. Brandt says in his notes from Hooper Bay:

     The Aleutian sandpiper is a common transient visitor in the
     vicinity of Point Dall and is said by the natives to be a breeding
     bird in the mountain fastnesses of Cape Romanzoff. This species was
     first identified by us on May 18, but it may have arrived a few
     days earlier because up to that time we did not suspect its
     presence. It associated itself with the red-backed sandpiper, to
     which in the field it has a marked superficial resemblance and in
     consequence we may have overlooked it. These birds at that time
     travelled in bands of from 20 to 40 individuals and at low tide fed
     on the ice-bound sea beach that was then exposed, but when the high
     water came in and up to the wall of shore ice, thus covering their
     feeding grounds, they moved back along the open river margins and
     marshy pond borders. From May 23 to May 28 they were very common,
     when suddenly they departed, only to reappear in early July. The
     natives are very positive in their assertions that this island
     dweller breeds in the rugged mountains about Cape Romanzoff, but as
     we did not visit that area we could not authenticate their
     statements, nor did we learn anything of its nidification.

Lucien M. Turner (1886) writes:

     The Aleutian sandpiper arrives at St. Michaels early in May of each
     year, and in considerable numbers, being generally, on their
     arrival, in the dark plumage, which is changed for the summer by
     the first of June on this locality. On their appearance they are
     strictly littoral-maritime, resorting to the larger bowlders and
     rocky shelves covered with seaweed, among which these birds
     industriously search for slugs and other marine worms. Usually
     several birds are together, rarely singly, and seldom over 8 or 10
     in a flock.

Dr. Leonhard Stejneger (1885) says that, in the Commander Islands:

     In March their ranks are reinforced by newcomers which have
     wintered on more hospitable shores, and in the latter part of the
     month enormous flocks of 500 or more swarm along the beach,
     especially on the north shore. About one month later the great
     flocks dissolve into small companies, which, following the water
     courses, disperse over the whole island, settling in pairs on
     suitable places at the beaches, on the tundras, or on the mountain
     plateaus, this bird being in fact one of the most numerous and the
     most equally distributed species of land birds on the islands.

_Courtship._--We frequently observed the charming song flight of this
sandpiper in the Aleutian Islands. The birds were especially abundant on
Tanaga Island, where we found them nesting on the little knolls or
hummocks on the tundra in a large alluvial plain back of the beach
hillocks. The males were very active and noisy, indulging in their
hovering song flights, rising 30 or 40 feet in the air and fluttering
down while pouring out a delightful twittering song. Also, while flying
about or while standing on some prominent hummock, they gave their loud,
musical melodious calls of the upland plover; these loud notes were not
heard anywhere except on their breeding grounds and were probably notes
of greeting or of warning to their mates. Doctor Stejneger (1885)

     It was in the late afternoon of the 28th of April, 1883, that I
     first witnessed this singing performance of the sandpiper. The bird
     rose from the _Rhododendron_ tundra on the northern slope of
     Kamennij Valley, and while flying about on quivering wings,
     sometimes remaining quite still in the air, it uttered a loud,
     agreeable, and melodious twitter, which really must be called a
     "song," whereupon, with outstretched wings, it descended obliquely,
     seating itself upon the top of a tussock. Sitting there, with
     puffed plumage and pendant wings, it produced a loud "bleating," so
     much like that of _Gallinago gallinago_ as to completely convince
     me that the analogous note of the latter is produced by the throat
     in exactly the same manner. During the "bleating" the whole bird
     was quivering with a tremulous motion as if in a high state of
     excitement. The voice was slightly more melodious than that of the

_Nesting._--While wandering over the foothills of Kiska Island on June
17, 1911, I found my first nest of the Aleutian sandpiper. I was
crossing a flat place, high up on a hill, covered with moss and scanty
growth of grass, when the bird fluttered off almost underfoot, feigning
lameness. The nest was a deep hollow in the moss, 3 inches in diameter
and fully 2 inches deep, partially concealed by a few blades of scanty
grass, and lined with dead leaves, a few straws, and a few feathers of
the bird. The four eggs were only slightly incubated. I found a similar
nest, containing three small, downy young, on Attu Island on June 23;
the nest was on a little hummock on a hillside, a deep hollow, lined
with dead leaves and bits of straw. It was the male bird that flew from
the nest in both cases.

Austin H. Clark (1910) found a nest on Attu Island on the side of a
mountain, 700 feet or more above the valley and near an extensive patch
of snow. Alfred M. Bailey (1925) found a nest at Emma Harbor, Siberia,
on July 4, 1921, containing three young and an egg; the nest was "on the
shores of the bay, in gravel along the beach." He also found several
nests the following season near Wales, Alaska; "the nesting sites varied
from exposed depressions in the moss to well-concealed dried grass." A
set of eggs in Edward Arnold's collection, taken by Sheldon and Lamont
on Montague Island, Alaska, June 22, 1916, came from a nest "on débris
just above tidewater."

_Eggs._--The Aleutian sandpiper almost invariably lays four eggs,
although five have been found. These are ovate pyriform in shape and
have a slight gloss. The ground color is "olive buff" or "deep olive
buff." They are heavily, boldly, and irregularly blotched, chiefly about
the larger end, with a few scattering smaller spots. The markings are in
dark browns, "chestnut brown," "burnt umber," and "seal brown," varying
with the thickness of the pigment. There are underlying blotches of
"brownish drab," producing very handsome eggs. They can not always be
distinguished with certainty from eggs of the Pribilof sandpiper, as
they vary greatly in size; they average smaller, but the measurements
overlap widely. The measurements of 50 eggs average 38 by 26.6
millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure =43.2= by 26.8,
39.4 by =28=, =35= by 26.3, and 37.3 by =24.1= millimeters.

_Young._--Incubation is apparently performed by both sexes, and both
assist in the care of the young. The birds that I flushed from my two
nests, one with eggs and one with young, both proved to be males. Mr.
Turner (1886) says:

     The males are much devoted to their mates while incubating, and I
     have every reason to believe that the male does the greater part of
     the labor of incubating, as they were the ones generally found
     either on or near the nests. When alighting near the nest either
     sex has the habit of raising its wings perpendicularly and slowly
     folding them, all the while uttering a trilling peep, continued for
     several seconds.

The parents are very devoted to their young, employing the usual tactics
to divert the attention of the intruder, stumbling and fluttering over
the ground, as if both legs and wings were broken. The young leave the
nest as soon as they are strong enough to run, but remain with their
parents until they are fully fledged in their first winter or juvenal
plumage and ready to fly in August.

_Plumages._--The downy young Aleutian resembles, in color pattern, the
young purple sandpiper, but can easily be recognized by its warmer and
richer browns. The upper half of the head is "warm buff," shading off to
"pale buff" on the lores and cheeks and to pure white on the throat and
neck. A median black stripe is broad on the crown, tapering to a point
at the bill; loral and malar black stripes converge at the bill; the
rest of the upper head is spotted or striped with black. The nape is a
mixture of dull buff and dusky. The back, wings, and thighs are
variegated with black, "ochraceous tawny" and "warm buff," everywhere
sprinkled with conspicuous dots, terminal tufts, of buffy white in an
irregular pattern; there is a more or less well-defined black patch in
the center of the back, varying in different individuals, centrally
veiled with "burnt sienna" tips. The entire under parts are pure white.

In the juvenal plumage the center of the crown is blackish brown, with
"ochraceous tawny" edgings; the rest of the crown and nape are "deep
mouse gray"; the feathers of the back are brownish black, broadly edged
with "tawny" or "ochraceous tawny"; the scapulars and all the wing
coverts are deep sepia, broadly edged with colors varying from "tawny"
to buffy white, whitest on the coverts; the under parts are white, with
a broad band of pale buff across the throat and breast; the flanks are
somewhat tinged with the same color; the throat, breast, and flanks are
more or less heavily marked with median dusky streaks. This plumage is
worn through July and part, or all, of August. The postjuvenal molt of
the body plumage begins in some birds about the 1st of August, but in
others not until two or three weeks later. This produces a first winter
plumage similar to that of the adult, but distinguishable by the faded
juvenal wing coverts and a few retained scapulars and tertials.

The partial prenuptial molt of both young birds and adults comes rather
late in the spring, April and May, and involves the body plumage and
some of the wing coverts and scapulars. Adults also have a complete
postnuptial molt, beginning in August and lasting until October. The
winter plumage is similar to that of the purple sandpiper, but it is
conspicuously marked on the breast and flanks with large triangular or
circular spots of dusky, whereas the purple sandpiper usually has a
plain gray breast in winter.

_Food._--Very little seems to be known about the food of the Aleutian
sandpiper, but probably its diet is very similar to that of the purple
sandpiper, which has similar feeding habits. Both species are fond of
frequenting rocky shores and stony beaches, where they seem to be
gleaning food. Doctor Stejneger (1885) has seen them "at low water
eagerly picking up Gammarids among the stones close to the breakers."
Bernard J. Bretherton (1896) writes:

     Large flocks of these birds were seen during February, 1893, but
     were not met with during other winters. They were met with on a low
     sand bar, after a protracted storm which had thrown up millions of
     sand fleas, upon which they were feeding so industriously as to be
     easily approached and to which feast they returned several times,
     even after their ranks had been thinned by raking charges of fine

_Behavior._--In many ways the Aleutian sandpiper reminds one of its near
relative, the purple sandpiper, but it is even tamer, less suspicious,
and quieter in its movements. We had plenty of chances to get acquainted
with it in the Aleutian Islands. We met it, and collected the first
specimen of it, on the first island that we landed on, Akun Island, and
after that we saw it on every island we visited, though it was much more
abundant on the more western islands. These bleak islands, with their
forbidding, rocky shores and stony beaches, washed with cold spray or
enveloped in chilly fog, are the summer home of this hardy little "beach
snipe," as it is called by the natives. It moves about so quietly and
deliberately, and its colors match its surroundings so well, that we
were constantly coming upon it unexpectedly. It was usually so intent on
feeding that it paid no attention to passers-by; it was often necessary
to back off to a reasonable distance before shooting one, and I shot
several with squib charges in an auxiliary barrel. It is the tamest and
most unsuspicious shore bird I have ever seen. On this point Mr. Turner
(1886) says:

     It is not at all shy, depending more on its color to hide by
     squatting among the crevices of the dark lava rocks and thus be
     unobserved. When cautiously approached, these birds generally run
     to the highest part of the rock or bowlder which they are on, then
     huddle together before taking flight the moment after. This habit
     allows them to be nearly all killed at a single discharge of the
     gun. The native boys, having observed this habit of these birds,
     procure a club about two feet long, and when the birds huddle
     together before taking flight the club is hurled in such manner as
     to sweep all the birds off the rock. This manner of procuring these
     birds is practiced by the western Aleut boys to a great degree.

Dr. E. W. Nelson (1887) writes:

     A pair were found feeding on a series of bare, jagged rocks, over
     which the spray flew in a dense cloud as every wave beat at the
     foot of the rocky shore. I shot one of them, and the survivor
     merely flew up and stood eyeing me silently from the top of a low
     cliff 20 or 25 feet overhead until it, too, fell a victim. Later in
     the day another was seen near the border of a small lake in the
     interior of the island. It ran nimbly on before me, over the mossy
     hillocks, stopping every few feet and half turning to watch my
     movements, just as a spotted sandpiper would do under the
     circumstances. When driven to take wing, it flew a short distance,
     with the same peculiar down-curved wings and style of flight as has
     the spotted sandpiper.

Hamilton M. Laing (1925) says that "on one occasion one was seen to swim
nimbly from one rock to another rather than fly."

_Voice._--Except on its breeding grounds, we considered the Aleutian
sandpiper a very quiet and silent bird. Its twittering flight song is a
part of the nuptial ceremony, and it was only on its nesting grounds
that we heard the loud, musical, flutelike, whistling notes so
suggestive of the melodious calls of the upland plover. Doctor Nelson
(1887) describes what may be the same notes, as follows:

     While on the wing it uttered a rather low but clear and musical
     _tweo-tweo-tweo_. When feeding it had a note something like a call
     of the _Colaptes auratus_, and which may be represented by the
     syllables _clu-clu-clu_.

Mr. Clark (1910) also says:

     The cry is loud and clear, bearing a striking resemblance to the
     call of the flicker.

_Field marks._--In winter the Aleutian sandpiper might easily be
mistaken for a purple sandpiper, which it closely resembles in
appearance, haunts, and behavior, but the winter ranges of the two
species are widely separated. From the Pribilof sandpiper it differs in
being decidedly smaller, and in summer it is much darker, with less
rufous above and more black below.

_Fall._--The Aleutian sandpiper withdraws in the fall from the northern
portions of its breeding range in Alaska and Siberia, and it may be that
the birds which breed farthest north are the ones which migrate farthest
south to spend the winter, for the species is resident throughout the
year in the Aleutian Islands. In the Norton Sound region it evidently
occurs only as a migrant from northern Alaska and Siberia. Doctor Nelson
(1887) says:

     Early in August, however, I was pleased to find it abundant in
     parties of from five to thirty or forty about outlying islets and
     along rugged portions of the shore. During each of the four
     succeeding seasons the same experience was repeated, and the last
     of July or first of August I was certain to find the numbers of
     them in the situations mentioned, where earlier in the season not
     one was to be found. They always remained until the middle of
     October, when the beaches became covered with ice and they were
     forced to seek a milder climate. The 1st of October, as the first
     snowstorms begin, these birds desert the more exposed islets and
     beaches for the inner bays and sandy beaches, where their habits
     are like those of other sandpipers in similar situations.

_Winter._--This hardy sandpiper is well known to winter regularly and
abundantly in the Aleutian and Commander Islands. According to notes
received from D. E. Brown, it reaches the coast of Washington as early
as October 1, where it spends the winter in Grays Harbor and Jefferson
Counties and on the outer islands. Carl Lien's notes, from Destruction
Island, give it as a "common winter resident. A flock of probably 50
spend the winter. Nearly always found in company with turnstones and
surfbirds, and together with these birds confine themselves entirely to
the reefs."


_Range._--The northeastern corner of Siberia, west coast of Alaska and
adjacent islands, including the Aleutians, south (rarely) to
northwestern Oregon.

_Breeding range._--The breeding range of the Aleutian sandpiper extends
north to eastern Siberia (Emma Harbor) and Alaska (Cape Prince of
Wales). East to Alaska (Cape Prince of Wales, Colville River, and Port
Moller); and the Shumagin Islands. South to the Shumagin Islands; the
western part of the Alaskan Peninsula (Muller Bay and Morzhovia Bay);
and the Aleutian Islands (Unalaska, Atka, Tanaga, Kiska, Agutta, and
Attu Islands). West to the Aleutian Islands (Attu) and eastern Siberia
(Emma Harbor). The species also has been detected in summer at St.
Lawrence and St. Matthew Islands and at other points on the mainland of
Alaska (Point Dall, Pastolik, St. Michael, Nulato, and Port Clarence).

_Winter range._--Resident throughout much of its range, but also south
in winter, along the Alaskan and British Columbian coasts and as far as
Washington (Destruction Island).

_Migration._--The migrations performed by the Aleutian sandpiper are
very limited. In the vicinity of St. Michael, Alaska, flocks will appear
as early as August 15, occasionally remaining until October 15. They
have been noted on the Asiatic side of Bering Sea at Providence Bay in
June, at East Cape in July, at Plover Bay in September, and on Bering
Island as late as October 24.

Spring migrants have been observed to reach Point Etolin, Alaska, as
early as April 8 and Bering Island April 24. Spring departures from the
southern part of the winter range have been noted as late as:
Destruction Island, May 1; Forrester Island, May 7; and Admiralty
Island, May 14. An early fall arrival at Craig, Alaska, is August 6 and
at Destruction Island October 1.

_Casual records._--This species has been collected or observed outside
of its known normal range on a few occasions: Washington, Point
Chehalis, November 6, 1917, and Dungeness Spit, March 4, 1916; Oregon,
Cape Meares, December 31, 1912, and March 18, 1913; these may prove to
be regular winter resorts.

_Egg dates._--Alaska: 18 records, June 3 to July 24; 9 records, June 15
to 22.




This is a bird which few of us have been privileged to see. From its
summer home in northeastern Siberia it migrates south to Japan, the
Malay Archipelago, Australia, and New Zealand. On the fall migration it
visits the coast of northwestern Alaska frequently, perhaps regularly,
and often commonly. It occurs regularly, sometimes abundantly, on the
Pribilof Islands in the fall. In southern Alaska and farther south it
occurs only as a rare straggler. A. W. Anthony (1922) took a young male
near San Diego, California, on September 16, 1921.

Some European writers have called it the Siberian pectoral sandpiper,
which its resemblance to our common bird of that name seems to warrant.
It is so much like our pectoral sandpiper in appearance, behavior, and
haunts, that it has probably often been overlooked; it may therefore
occur on our northwestern coast much oftener than we suspect.

_Nesting._--The sharp-tailed sandpiper is supposed to breed in Mongolia
and eastern Siberia; it has been seen and collected on its breeding
grounds in northeastern Siberia, Cape Wankarem, the Chuckchi Peninsula,
and the Kolyma Delta, but apparently its nest has never been found and
its eggs are entirely unknown.

_Plumages._--The downy young is entirely unknown. This sandpiper is
handsomely and richly colored in any plumage, but the rich buff and
bright browns of the juvenal plumage are particularly noticeable. The
body plumage is molted in the fall, the wings and tail in late winter,
and the body plumage is partially molted again in the spring. The
plumages are well described in the manuals.

_Food._--Preble and McAtee (1923) report on the food of this species, as

     Eight well-filled and one nearly empty stomach of the sharp-tailed
     sandpiper are available to illustrate the food habits. This number
     is too small to furnish reliable results, and too great dependence
     must not be placed in data as to the relative ranks of food items
     as here stated. The percentages found for the limited material,
     then, are flies (Diptera), 39.1 per cent; crustaceans, 18.1 per
     cent; mollusks, 14.2 per cent; caddisflies, 11.8 per cent; beetles,
     8.8 per cent; Hymenoptera, 1.8 per cent; and vegetable matter, 3.9
     per cent. Mr. Hanna notes that flocks of this species frequent the
     seal-killing fields, feeding on fly maggots, a statement receiving
     confirmation from stomach analysis.

_Behavior._--Dr. E. W. Nelson (1887) tells us a little about the habits
of this rare species, as follows:

     They were nearly always associated with _maculata_, whose habits
     they shared to a great extent. When congregated about their feeding
     places they united into flocks of from ten into fifty, but single
     birds were frequently flushed from and they were rarely shy. On
     October 1, 1880, they were found scattered singly over the marsh,
     and arose 30 to 40 yards in advance, and made off with a twisting
     flight, uttering at the same time a short, soft, metallic _pleep,
     pleep,_ and pursuing an erratic, circuitous flight for a time they
     generally returned and settled near the spot whence they started.
     On the shore of Siberia, near North Cape, we found these birds very
     common, scattered over damp grass flats near the coast, the 1st of
     August, 1881. The ground was covered with reindeer tracks, and
     among these the sharp-tailed snipe were seen seeking their food.
     They were very unsuspicious and allowed us to pass close to them,
     or circled close about us. From their movements and other
     circumstances I judged that this district formed part of their
     breeding grounds, whence they reach the neighboring coast of Alaska
     in fall.

_Field marks._--The sharp-tailed sandpiper most closely resembles the
pectoral sandpiper, but it can often be recognized in the field by the
more ruddy color of the upper parts. Most of the feathers of the
shoulders, scapulars and secondaries are broadly edged with chestnut;
these edgings are paler in winter. The bright chestnut crown, streaked
with black, and the ruddy brown suffusion on the chest and sides, might
be recognized under favorable circumstances.

_Fall._--Not much seems to be known about the spring migration, but the
fall migration is fairly well marked. Doctor Nelson (1887) says:

     They usually make their first appearance on the shore of Norton
     Sound the last of August, and in a few days become very common.
     They sometimes remain up to the 12th of October, and I have seen
     them searching for food along the tide line when the ground was
     covered with 2 inches of snow. When feeding along the edges of the
     tide-creeks they may almost be knocked over with a paddle, and when
     a flock is fired into it returns again and again.

It is a regular fall migrant in the Pribilof Islands, between August 17
and November 9, where it associates in large flocks with the pectoral
sandpiper on the seal-killing fields.

Doctor Stejneger (1885) writes:

     Of this species I only obtained young specimens on Bering Island
     during the autumnal migration of 1882. From the middle of September
     and during the following three weeks they were observed both on the
     tundra near the great lake and on the rocky beach of the ocean
     searching for Gammarids. They were very shy and mostly single or in
     small families. Larger flocks were never seen.

From the Commander Islands the main flight continues on down the Asiatic
coast, through Japan, China, and the Malay Archipelago, to New Zealand
and Australia, where it spends the winter.

_Winter._--W. B. Alexander writes to me that this is--

     One of the commonest northern breeding birds which visits
     Australia. My earliest record of their arrival is August 31, 1925,
     at Cairns, North Queensland, and my latest record April 21, 1922,
     at Rockhampton, Queensland. From September to March they are to be
     found in small flocks throughout the coastal districts of Australia
     on the shores of estuaries and lakes and in fresh-water swamps. In
     October, 1922, I saw a flock of four on the open country near a dam
     on Alice Downs Station, near Blackall, central Queensland, a
     locality about 350 miles from the coast. Mr. D. W. Gaukrodger
     subsequently secured an excellent photograph of three of these
     birds at the same dam.


_Range._--The sharp-tailed sandpiper breeds in the northeastern part of
Asia--so far as known, in northeastern Siberia--wintering south to New
Guinea, Tonga Islands, Australia, and New Zealand. Occurs in migration
in Kamchatka, China, and Japan.

During fall migration it is of regular though rare occurrence in Alaska
(Hotham Inlet, September 1, 1880; Port Clarence, September 9, 1880;
Nome, September 2 to 16, 1910; St. Michael, September 16, 1877, August
29 and September 11, 1879, September 18, 21, and 24, 1899; Bethel,
September 30 and October 1, 1914; St. Paul Island, August 17, 1897,
September 7 and 13, 1910, September 14 and 20 and October 12, 1914; St.
George Island, October 3, 1899; and Valdez, September 18, 1908).

_Casual records._--The species is accidental in British Columbia
(Massett, December 27, 1897, and Comox, October 4, 1903); Washington
(mouth of the Nooksack River, September 2, 1892); England (Breydon,
Norfolk, August, 1892, and Yarmouth, September, 1848 [?]); and the
Hawaiian Islands (Laysan [specimen in museum at Bremen], a second
specimen near Honolulu, a third specimen was collected on Maui
[Henshaw], and Bartsch secured two specimens and saw others on Sand
Island, November 8, 1907). One was taken near San Diego, Calif., on
September 16, 1921.




This familiar sandpiper is well known as a migrant throughout most of
North America, especially east of the Rocky Mountains, as it travels on
its long journeys between the Arctic tundras, where it breeds, and its
winter home in southern South America. It is more popular among gunners
than the other small sandpipers, to whom it is known by several names.
It is called "jack snipe" on account of its resemblance in appearance
and habits to the Wilson snipe. It deserves the name, "grass bird,"
because it usually frequents grassy meadows. The name, "creaker,"
"creeker," or "Krieker," may have been derived from its reedy notes,
from its haunts along the muddy banks of creeks, or from the German word
_Kriecher_, on account of its crouching habits.

_Spring._--The northward migration must start from Argentina in
February, for it reaches Texas and Louisiana early in March, and I have
seen it in Florida as early as March 14. On the other hand it has been
taken at Mendoza, Argentina, as late as March 26. The main flight passes
through the United States during March and April, but I have seen it in
Texas as late as May 17. During May the migration is at its height in
Canada and before the end of that month it reaches its summer home.
William Rowan tells me that it is always very abundant in Alberta during
May and that the males come alone at first, then mixed flocks, and
finally only females. H. B. Conover writes to me that "these sandpipers
seemed to arrive at Point Dall (Alaska) all at once. Up to May 20 none
had been seen, but on the 21st they were found to be common all over the
tundra. Immediately on arrival the males started their booming
courtship." John Murdoch (1885) says that, at Point Barrow:

     They arrive about the end of May or early in June, and frequent the
     small ponds and marshy portions of the tundra along the shore,
     sometimes associated with other small waders, especially with the
     buff-breasted sandpipers on the high banks of Nunava. Early in the
     season they are frequently in large-sized flocks feeding together
     around and in the Eskimo village at Cape Smythe, but later become
     thoroughly scattered all over the tundra.

_Courtship._--The wonderful and curious courtship of the pectoral
sandpiper has been well described by several writers. Dr. E. W. Nelson's
(1887) pleasing and graphic account of it is well worth quoting in full;
he writes:

     The night of May 24 I lay wrapped in my blanket, and from the
     raised flap of the tent looked out over as dreary a cloud-covered
     landscape as can be imagined. The silence was unbroken save by the
     tinkle and clinking of the disintegrating ice in the river, and at
     intervals by the wild notes of some restless loon, which arose in a
     hoarse reverberating cry and died away in a strange gurgling sound.
     As my eyelids began to droop and the scene to become indistinct,
     suddenly a low, hollow, booming note struck my ear and sent my
     thoughts back to a spring morning in northern Illinois, and to the
     loud vibrating tones of the prairie chickens. Again the sound arose
     nearer and more distinct, and with an effort I brought myself back
     to the reality of my position and, resting upon one elbow,
     listened. A few seconds passed and again arose the note; a moment
     later and, gun in hand, I stood outside the tent. The open flat
     extended away on all sides, with apparently not a living creature
     near. Once again the note was repeated close by, and a glance
     revealed its author. Standing in the thin grasses 10 or 15 yards
     from me, with its throat inflated until it was as large as the rest
     of the bird, was a male _A. maculata_. The succeeding days afforded
     opportunity to observe the bird as it uttered its singular notes
     under a variety of situations and at various hours of the day or
     during the light Arctic night. The note is deep, hollow, and
     resonant, but at the same time liquid and musical, and may be
     represented by a repetition of the syllables _too-u, too-u, too-u,
     too-u, too-u, too-u, too-u, too-u_. Before the bird utters these
     notes it fills its esophagus with air to such an extent that the
     breast and throat is inflated to twice or more its natural size,
     and the great air sac thus formed gives the peculiar resonant
     quality to the note.

     The skin of the throat and breast becomes very flabby and loose at
     this season, and its inner surface is covered with small globular
     masses of fat. When not inflated, the skin loaded with this extra
     weight and with a slightly serous suffusion which is present hangs
     down in a pendulous flap or fold exactly like a dewlap, about an
     inch and a half wide. The esophagus is very loose and becomes
     remarkably soft and distensible, but is easily ruptured in this
     state, as I found by dissection. In the plate accompanying this
     report the extent and character of this inflation, unique at least
     among American waders, is shown. The bird may frequently be seen
     running along the ground close to the female, its enormous sac
     inflated, and its head drawn back and the bill pointing directly
     forward, or, filled with spring-time vigor, the bird flits with
     slow but energetic wingstrokes close along the ground, its head
     raised high over the shoulders and the tail hanging almost directly
     down. As it thus flies it utters a succession of the hollow,
     booming notes, which have a strange ventriloquial quality. At times
     the male rises 20 or 30 yards in the air and inflating its throat
     glides down to the ground with its sac hanging below, as is shown
     in the accompanying plate. Again he crosses back and forth in front
     of the female, puffing his breast out and bowing from side to side,
     running here and there, as if intoxicated with passion. Whenever he
     pursues his love-making, his rather low but pervading note swells
     and dies in musical cadences, which form a striking part of the
     great bird chorus heard at this season in the north.

Mr. Conover (notes) adds the following:

     When the male rises in the air to boom, in sailing to the ground he
     throws his wings up over his back, much in the same manner as tame
     pigeons when descending from a height; also a male which flew by
     with pouch extended was noticed to jerk his head up and down as he
     gave his call. The bill was partly open and he gave the appearance
     of swallowing air to inflate his throat. As it is the esophagus
     which is inflated and not the windpipe, this in all probability is
     what he does.

S. A. Buturlin (1907) gives a somewhat different account of it, as
observed by him in Siberia, as follows:

     One would every now and then stretch both wings right over its
     back, and afterwards commence a grotesque sort of dance, hopping
     alternately on each leg; another would inflate its gular pouch and
     run about, crouching down to the ground, or would fly up to about a
     hundred feet in the air, then inflate its pouch and descend slowly
     and obliquely to the ground on extended wings. All these
     performances were accompanied by a strange hollow sound, not very
     loud when near, but audible at some distance, even as far as 500
     yards. These notes are very difficult to locate, and vary according
     to the distance. When near they are tremulous booming sounds
     something like the notes of a frog, and end in clear sounds like
     those caused by the bursting of water bubbles in a copper vessel.

_Nesting._--Mr. Murdoch (1885) says:

     The nest is always built in the grass, with a decided preference
     for high and dry localities like the banks of gulleys and streams.
     It was sometimes placed at the edge of a small pool, but always in
     grass and in a dry place, never in the black clay and moss, like
     the plover and buff-breasted sandpipers, or in the marsh, like the
     phalaropes. The nest was like that of the other waders, a
     depression in the ground lined with a little dry grass.

A set in my collection, taken by F. S. Hersey, near St. Michael, Alaska,
was in a slight hollow on the open tundra with no concealment. And a set
in the Herbert Massey collection, taken near Point Barrow by E. A.
McIlhenny, came from "a slight hollow lined with dry grass, in the dry,
gray moss of the tundra."

Herbert W. Brandt in his manuscript notes says:

     The pectoral sandpiper usually chooses for its homesite the upland
     rolling tundra, but an occasional isolated pair was found on the
     dry grass lands of the tide flats. This species builds the most
     substantial of any of the shorebirds nests that we met with at
     Hooper Bay, for even after it was removed from the grassy cavity in
     which it was built the nest would often hold firmly together. The
     birds showed exceptional skill in the concealment of their homes
     and consequently they were very difficult to find for they chose a
     tract where the curly bunch grass grew abundantly and under its
     domed protection they constructed an excavation deep in the moss.
     Here a substantial nest is fashioned of grasses and tediously lined
     or rather filled with small crisp leaves of the low perennial
     plants that there, in a dwarf creeping form, are the only
     representatives of the great inland forests. The dimensions vary
     between the following extremes: Inside diameter 3 to 3-1/2 inches;
     depth 1-3/4 to 2-1/2 inches; and outside depth 3-1/2 to 5 inches.
     We never observed other than the female carrying on the loving
     duties of incubation and seldom indeed was the male even in close
     attendance. The female is very difficult to approach on the nest
     because she invariably leaves it before the ornithologist draws
     near and consequently we spent many hours endeavoring to watch the
     shy bird return to her nest.

The behavior of parent birds about the nests seems to be variable. W.
Sprague Brooks (1915) says:

     On approaching the vicinity of the nest the bird would leave it
     quietly and walk slowly about feeding and showing no excitement
     whatever. This happened several times until I decided to watch the
     bird and see if by any chance she might have a nest. In a short
     time she walked to a bunch of grass a few feet from me and settled
     on the nest. Even while I was packing away the eggs she showed no
     concern. I had precisely the same experience with the other two

On the other hand, Alfred M. Bailey (1926) writes:

     On July 3 Hendee flushed a female from a set of four slightly
     incubated eggs. "The nest," he states, "was in a patch of marsh
     grass, similar to the location usually chosen by the phalaropes,
     except that the ground was not wet. The female fluttered away to a
     distance of about 30 feet and went through a remarkable performance
     in her attempt to decoy me from the nest. She crept about among the
     hummocks in a very unbirdlike fashion, uttering all the time a
     mouse-like squeaking."

_Eggs._--Mr. Brandt in his manuscript notes has described the eggs so
well that I can not do better than to quote him, as follows:

     The eggs of the pectoral sandpiper are of particular interest
     because they are perhaps the most beautiful of the many handsome
     shore-bird eggs that are found in the Hooper Bay region. Their rich
     and contrasting colors, their bold splashed markings, and high
     luster make them veritable gems of oological perfection. In all
     nests that came under our observation four eggs constituted the
     complement, and these generally nestled points together amid the
     crisp leafy lining of their birthplace, standing most often at an
     obtuse angle to the horizontal. In outline they range from
     subpyriform to ovate pyriform. The exterior of the shell has a
     smooth, almost polished surface that reflects in many eggs a high
     luster. The ground color varies considerably from dull white to
     "cream buff" and even to "deep olive buff," but in all sets I have
     seen the ground color and markings follow the same shades and types
     in the same set of eggs. The surface markings are bold and
     individual, and appear as if they were daubed with a paint brush.
     These large rich spots are elongated and are placed parallel to the
     long axis of the egg, showing but little tendency to spiral. The
     heaviest markings are at the larger end, often merging into a large
     "chocolate" blotch, and in one case this rich blot of color covered
     more than a fourth of the egg. The color of the markings ranges
     from "walnut brown" and "sepia" to "chocolate" and "blackish
     brown," with "chocolate" the predominating shade. The underlying
     spots are prominent and numerous on some eggs, while on others they
     are almost wanting. They vary from "pearl gray" to "violet gray,"
     with an occasional egg inclined to "Isabella color." In fact, each
     different clutch of eggs exhibits some individual interesting

My only set, taken for me by Mr. Hersey, would fit the above description
very well, but it is not particularly handsome. The ground color is dull
white or "pale olive buff," which is more or less evenly marked with
small blotches and spots of "bister" and "bone brown." Mr. Murdoch
(1885) says that they "may be distinguished from those of the
buff-breasted sandpiper, which they closely resemble, by their warmer
color." The measurements of 116 eggs, in the United States National
Museum and in Mr. Brandt's collection, average 36.5 by 25 millimeters;
the eggs showing the four extremes measure =38.5= by 25, 38 by =27=,
=34= by 24.9, and 35.5 by =24.5= millimeters.

_Young._--Mr. Conover writes to me as follows:

     The incubation period seems to run from 21 to 23 days. A nest found
     May 31 with the complete set of four eggs was hatched on the
     morning of June 21. Another nest containing four eggs, from which
     the old bird was flushed, was found on June 2 and hatched on June
     25. The first young were found on June 21. Contrary to their habits
     when there were only eggs in the nest, the mothers now showed great
     concern for their young. At one time Murie caught some newly
     hatched young, and holding his hand containing them extended on the
     ground, induced the old bird to come up and brood the chicks. She
     was so tame that he caught and banded her without difficulty. The
     male seems to take no part on the incubation or care of the young.
     He was often seen to join a hen driven from the nest, but only for
     purposes of courtship, as he would start booming immediately and
     chase her about. Before the eggs began to hatch, male birds seemed
     to disappear from the tundra. There was never more than one bird
     seen with the young. Thirty days seemed to be about the time
     necessary for the chicks to mature, as by July 20 fully fledged
     young were seen commonly about the tundra.

Mr. Buturlin (1907) says:

     When I approached the breeding ground the old birds flew to meet
     me, one after another, and wheeled around uttering low tremulous
     notes of various kinds. These calls were evidently meant for the
     young and had different meanings. When the female is with them (and
     you must sit watching for an hour or more to observe this), the
     little ones are somewhat shy and take refuge under her. If you make
     the slightest movement she flies up, uttering the usual _kirip_,
     and kicks the young forwards, never backwards, until they tumble
     head over heels 5 or 6 inches away. There they lie as if dead, but
     with open eyes, and the mother flies around uttering a low
     tremulous _kirip, kirip, trip, trrrrrr_, evidently meaning "lie
     quite still." Then she alights near the young and runs about
     feigning lameness, while trying in every way to make you attempt to
     capture her. If, however, you keep quite quiet she becomes
     reassured, approaches near to where her young are, and utters with
     tender modulations, _day-day-day, day-day-day_, which means
     evidently "all right, come here." Then the chicks commence to chirp
     _peep, peep, peeyp_, and run to their mother. On one occasion I
     observed all this at a distance of about 10 paces, and once I was
     only about 3 paces from them. The downy young know their mother's
     call _day-day-day_ so well that on one occasion a young bird, which
     I was taking home in my butterfly net, when it heard a female call
     quite close to me, climbed out of the net to rejoin her.

Mr. Brandt in his manuscript notes writes:

     The potential energy stored up in the small richly colored eggs of
     this northern sandpiper is almost beyond comprehension. The downy
     chicks, as soon as they are out of the shell, show wonderful
     activity. When they are but 30 minutes old, their apparently slight
     legs carry them over the ground with great rapidity. They know at
     birth how to hide among the hummocks and vegetation so as to defy
     the sharpest eyes. In three weeks they are awing and six weeks
     later they are off on their long journey to the south, crossing
     mighty mountain ridges, great stretches of land and of sea.

According to W. H. Hudson (1920), the pectoral sandpiper arrives in the
La Plata region, in southern South America, about the end of August, and
he writes:

     Among these first comers there are some young birds, so immature,
     with threads of yellow down still adhering to the feathers of the
     head, and altogether weak in appearance, that one can scarcely
     credit the fact that so soon after being hatched they have actually
     performed the stupendous journey from the northern extremity of the
     North American continent to the Buenos-Ayrean pampas.

_Plumages._--The young pectoral in down is a beauty and is distinctively
colored. The forehead, back to the eyes, lores, sides of the head and
neck, and the breast are from "cinnamon buff" to "cream buff," paling to
white or grayish white on the throat and belly. There is a broad, black,
median stripe from the crown to the bill, a narrow, black loral stripe,
which is joined by another, still narrower, malar stripe under the eye,
extending to the auriculars; below the ear is a dark-brown spot. In the
center of the crown is a black spot, surrounded by a circle of buffy
white dots; around this the crown is a mixture of black and "burnt
sienna," bordered with buffy white, except in front; and around this
border, or along each side of it, is a narrow stripe of blackish brown
above the buffy superciliary stripe. The nape is grizzly brown, buff,
and whitish. The back, wings, and thighs are variegated with black,
"chestnut," and "burnt sienna," and decorated with small dots of buffy
white in an irregular pattern.

The juvenal plumage is much like that of the summer adult, except that
the feathers of the mantle, scapulars, and the median and lesser wing
coverts are edged with brighter colors, "tawny," "ochraceous-buff," and
creamy white; and the breast is more buffy or yellowish. This plumage is
apparently worn all through the fall and winter or until the first
prenuptial molt in February and March, when the body plumage is renewed.
At the first postnuptial molt, the next summer, the young bird becomes
indistinguishable from the adult, having molted the entire plumage.

Adults have a partial prenuptial molt in the spring, from February to
June, which involves the body plumage, except the back and rump and some
of the scapulars, tertials, and wing coverts. The complete postnuptial
molt of adults is much prolonged; the body molt begins in August, but
the wings are not molted until the bird reaches its winter home,
beginning in October and often lasting until February. Two adult females
taken by Doctor Wetmore (1926) on September 9 in Paraguay "were in worn
breeding plumage with no indication of molt." And one shot in Uruguay
February 8 had renewed all but a few feathers of the entire plumage,
while a male taken the same day was molting its primaries. There is very
little difference between the summer and winter plumages; the feather
edgings of the upper parts are more rufous in summer and more ashy in

_Food._--According to Preble and McAtee (1923), the contents of 21
well-filled gizzards of this species consisted principally of "flies
(Diptera), 54.5 per cent; amphipods, 22.3 per cent; vegetable matter,
chiefly algae, 10.5 per cent; beetles, 8 per cent; Hymenoptera, 2.1 per
cent; and bugs (Hemiptera), 1.3 per cent." Other things eaten were
mites, spiders, and caddis fly larvae and a few seeds of grass, lupine,
and violet. P. L. Hatch (1892) says that "their food is principally
crickets in spring, interlarded with various dry-land larvae, small
beetles, and ground worms. In the fall the grasshoppers are first
chosen, after which crickets and whatever other insects prevail at this
season." Birds taken by B. S. Bowdish (1902) in Porto Rico had eaten
fiddler crabs. Pectoral sandpipers feed mainly in grassy meadows, more
or less dry, and their food is chiefly insects.

_Behavior._--On the grassy salt meadows, where we usually find it, I
have often been impressed with the resemblance of this sandpiper and the
Wilson snipe, both in appearance and in behavior. It is often found in
wisps or scattered flocks, the individuals widely separated and
crouching in the grass. Often it flushes close at hand with a startling
harsh cry and dashes hurriedly away with a zigzag flight. Sometimes it
flutters away for only a short distance and drops quickly into the
grass. Again it makes a long flight, circling high in the air and then
pitches down suddenly in some distant part of the marsh, or perhaps near
the starting point. Though erratic at first, the flight is swift and
direct when well under way. They sometimes fly in flocks like other
sandpipers, but more often they are flushed singly. They usually flock
by themselves but are sometimes associated, purely fortuitously I
believe, with other species that frequent similar feeding grounds, such
as Wilson snipe, Baird, least or semipalmated sandpipers.

The pectoral sandpiper has another snipelike habit of standing
motionless in the grass, relying on its concealing coloration, where its
striped plumage renders it almost invisible, even in plain sight. It
moves about slowly while feeding, probing in the mud with rapid strokes.
Often it stands perfectly still with its head held high, watching an
intruder; the dark markings on its neck end abruptly on the white
breast, breaking up the outline and helping the bird to fade into the
background. It is occasionally seen swimming across a narrow creek or

_Voice._--This is a rather noisy bird, especially so on its breeding
ground, and its short, sharp flight notes are quite characteristic of
the "creaker." Mr. Nichols contributes the following good description of

     The notes of the pectoral sandpiper have a reedy character,
     intermediate in tone between the clearer calls of most shore birds
     and the hoarse cry of the Wilson's snipe. This is in keeping with
     its habits. Its characteristic flight note is a loud reedy _kerr_,
     resembling that of the semipalmated sandpiper (_cherk_) more
     closely than any other shore bird call, but recognizably heavier.
     Rarely in flight, the _kerr_ varies into or is replaced by a
     near-whistled _krru_. On being flushed it often has hoarse, hurried
     cheeping notes, analogous with similar harsher notes of the
     Wilson's snipe. When in a flock of its own kind, alert and on the
     move, it has a short, snappy flocking note, a chorus of _tcheps_ or
     _chips_. To my ear its flushing note is more or less a combination
     of flight note and flocking note, and it may reasonably be so. The
     flocking note communicates alertness to near-by members of a flock;
     the flight note is used more emphatically by birds separated from
     their companions or in active flight and disposed for
     companionship, whereas on being flushed the bird is signaling to
     possible companions; but as it has been feeding singly, concealed
     from such others as there may be by the grass, their distance is

_Field marks._--The pale-gray, almost white, tail with its dark, almost
black, center and rump, is conspicuous in flight; a pale stripe in the
wing is less noticeable. The snipelike colors of the upper parts, the
dark, heavily streaked breast, contrasted sharply with the white under
parts, and the short olive-yellow legs are good field marks when the
bird is standing. The males are much larger than the females, which is
unusual among shore birds.

_Fall._--Regarding their departure from their breeding grounds, Murdoch
(1885) says:

     After the breeding season, they keep very quiet and retired, like
     the rest of the waders, and the adults appear to slip quietly away
     without collecting into flocks, as soon as the young are able to
     take care of themselves. As soon as the young have assumed the
     complete fall plumage, that is about the 10th of August, they
     gather in large flocks with the other young waders, especially
     about the small ponds on the high land below Cape Smythe, and stay
     for several days before they take their departure for the South.
     Stray birds remain as late as the first week of September.

On the New England coast the pectoral is both an early and a late
migrant; a few adults sometimes appear in July and more come in August;
but the main flight, mostly young birds, comes in September and October;
they are often abundant in the latter month and I have seen them as late
as October 31. When with us it is seldom seen on the sandy flats or
beaches, but frequents the wet, fresh and salt meadows, preferably where
the grass has been cut and which after a rain are covered with shallow
pools of water. Here and along the margins of marshy creeks are its
favorite feeding grounds. It does not decoy well and is no longer
considered a game bird, but it has been popular with sportsmen for its
gamy qualities and for the excellence of its flesh.

There is a marked southeastward trend in the fall migration of this
species; from its breeding grounds in northern Alaska and northeastern
Siberia its main flight seems to be towards the Atlantic coast of the
United States; it is not abundant and rather irregular on the Pacific
coast south of Alaska; it is common at times in the interior of Canada
and usually abundant in New England. It occasionally occurs in enormous
numbers in Bermuda and seems to be always rare in Florida; these facts
would seem to indicate an ocean route to South America.

_Winter._--The winter home of the pectoral sandpiper is in southern
South America. Arthur H. Holland (1891) says that in the Argentine
Republic, it is "usually found in marshy land with long water weeds
abounding, frequenting the same spot for weeks together." Between
September and March 26, Doctor Wetmore (1926) recorded it as "fairly
common" at various places in Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay. It
evidently spends over half the year in its winter home and makes very
rapid flights to and from its Arctic breeding grounds, where it makes a
short visit of about two months.


_Range._--Northeastern Siberia, and North and South America; accidental
in the Hawaiian Islands and the British Isles.

_Breeding range._--The pectoral sandpiper breeds mainly on the Arctic
coasts of Alaska and Mackenzie. North to Siberia (Kolyma Delta); Alaska
(Cape Lisburne, Cape Smythe, Point Barrow, Colville delta, Collinson
Point, Barter Island, and Demarcation Point); Yukon (Herschel Island);
northeastern Mackenzie (Cambridge Bay); and northeastern Manitoba (York
Factory). East to northeastern Manitoba (York Factory). South to
Manitoba (York Factory); Mackenzie (Clinton-Colden Lake and Lac de
Gras); and Alaska (Tacotna Forks and Hooper Bay). West to Alaska (Hooper
Bay, Fort Clarence, Point Hope, and Cape Lisburne); and northeastern
Siberia (Kolyma Delta). It has also been reported in summer at Fort
Anderson and Bernard Harbor, Mackenzie, and in northwestern Greenland
(Cape Hatherton).

Summer occurrence outside the range above outlined are Keewatin (Cape
Eskimo); Manitoba (Button Bay); southwestern Alaska (Nushagak); and
northeastern Siberia (Cape Serdze, and Nijni Kolymsk).

_Winter range._--South America. North to Ecuador (near Quito); Bolivia
(Falls of the Madeira, San Luis, and Caiza); and Paraguay (Colonia
Risso). East to Uruguay (Santa Elena); and Argentina (Buenos Aires, La
Plata, Barracas, Chubut Valley, Port Desire, and Colonia Rouquand).
South and west to Argentina (Colonia Rouquand). West also to Chile
(Santiago, Huasco, Antofagasta, Atacama, and Tarapaca); Peru (Chorillos
and Junin); and Ecuador (near Quito).

_Spring migration._--Early dates of arrival are: Florida, Fort De Soto,
February 22, and Orange Hammock, February 25; Alabama, Greensboro, March
20; South Carolina, Frogmore, March 20; North Carolina, Raleigh, March
21; District of Columbia, Washington, March 26; Pennsylvania, Carlisle,
March 28, Beaver, April 1, and Harrisburg, April 7; New York,
Canandaigua, April 14, Buffalo, April 18, Gaines, May 5, and Orient, May
7; Massachusetts, Thompson's Island, March 30, Monomoy Island, April 11,
and Dennis, April 16; Maine, Scarboro, April 13; Quebec, Quebec, May 2;
Louisiana, Lake Borgne, March 12, New Orleans, March 18, and Baton Rouge
Parish, March 19; Mississippi, Biloxi, February 28; Arkansas, Glenwood,
March 27; Kentucky, Bowling Green, April 29; Missouri, St. Louis, March
2, Warrenburg, March 11, Fayette, March 16, and Independence, March 18;
Illinois, Englewood, March 9, Rantoul, March 14, Mount Carmel, March 15,
Canton, March 26, and Chicago, March 29; Indiana, Bloomington, March 15,
Terre Haute, March 17, Bicknell, March 18, and Greencastle, March 22;
Ohio, Columbus, March 1, New Bremen, March 24, Columbus, March 25,
Oberlin, March 25, Cincinnati, March 28, and Youngstown, March 31;
Michigan, Ann Arbor, April 8, and Detroit, April 12; Ontario, Ottawa,
April 27, and Fort Williams, May 10; Iowa, Keokuk, March 14, La Porte,
March 25, Sigourney, March 26, and Des Moines, March 31; Wisconsin,
Milwaukee, March 26, and Madison, March 31; Minnesota, Heron Lake, April
1, Hutchinson, April 5, and Wilder, April 6; Texas, Santa Maria,
February 28, Houston, March 7, and Hidalgo, March 16; Oklahoma, Ponca
City, March 31; Kansas, Topeka, March 29, and McPherson, April 9;
Nebraska, Lincoln, March 10; South Dakota, Sioux Falls, April 10, and
Forestburg, April 20; North Dakota, Charlson, April 27; Manitoba, Pilot
Mound, May 1, Reaburn, May 9, and Margaret, May 9; Saskatchewan, Lake
Johnston, May 9; Mackenzie, Sturgeon River, May 12, Fort Providence, May
14, Fort Simpson, May 16, and Fort Resolution, May 19; Colorado, Denver,
April 21; Montana, Fergus County, April 22; Washington, Menlo, April 1;
Yukon, Forty-mile, May 16, and Dawson, May 19; and Alaska, Bethel, May
4, St. Michael, May 15, Demarcation Point, May 23, Kowak River, May 27,
and Point Barrow, May 30.

Late dates of spring departure are: Costa Rica, Buenos Aires de Terrabe,
May 29, and San Jose, May 19; Florida, Fort De Soto, May 20;
Pennsylvania, Doylestown, May 27; New Jersey, Elizabeth, May 30; New
York, Canandaigua, May 24; Massachusetts, near Boston, June 3;
Louisiana, New Orleans, May 20; Mississippi, Bay St. Louis, May 10;
Arkansas, Arkansas City, May 15; Kentucky, Bowling Green, May 11;
Missouri, Lake Taney Como, May 7, St. Louis, May 11, and Columbia, May
15; Illinois, Elgin, May 12, Addison, May 17, La Grange, May 17, Havana,
May 24, and Chicago, June 18; Indiana, Greencastle, May 4, Lyons, May 6,
Crawfordsville, May 8, and Bloomington, May 9; Ohio, Tiffin, May 15,
Oberlin, May 20, Columbus, May 21, and Youngstown, May 24; Michigan,
Detroit, May 13, Hillsdale, May 17, and Ann Arbor, May 19; Ontario,
Ottawa, May 25; Iowa, Lake Okoboji, May 27, Emmetsburg, May 28, Sioux
City, May 30, and Forest City, May 31; Wisconsin, Elkhorn, May 14, and
Madison, May 19; Minnesota, Heron Lake, May 16, Minneapolis, May 18,
Hutchinson, May 19, and Hallock, May 28; Texas, Sweetwater, May 8,
Corpus Christi, May 11, and Decatur, May 19; Kansas, Fort Riley, May 24,
and Onaga, May 24; Nebraska, Valentine, May 17, and Neligh, May 26;
South Dakota, Vermilion, May 12, and Sioux Falls, June 11; North Dakota,
Charlson, May 11; Manitoba, Winnipeg, May 24, and Shoal Lake, June 2;
Montana, Big Sandy, May 18; and Washington, Fort Steilacoom, May 5.

_Fall migration._--Early dates of fall arrivals are: British Columbia,
Okanagan Landing, July 16; Washington, Tacoma, August 17; California,
Redwood City, August 22; Montana, Sweetgrass Hills, August 11; Wyoming,
Yellowstone Park, July 19; Colorado, Denver, July 28; Mackenzie, Fort
Wrigley, July 19; Saskatchewan, Milk River, July 16, and Big Stick
Lake, July 18; Manitoba, Moosejaw, July 7; North Dakota, Charlson, July
20; South Dakota, Forestburg, July 8, Huron, July 15; Nebraska,
Valentine, August 8; Texas, Brownsville, August 2, Tivoli, August 8;
Minnesota, Minneapolis, July 15, Lanesboro, July 18, and St. Vincent,
July 24; Wisconsin, Madison, July 22, North Freedom, July 25, and
Racine, July 30; Iowa, Marshalltown, July 8, and Wall Lake, July 23;
Ontario, Toronto, July 14, and Todmorden, July 23; Michigan, Detroit,
July 14, and Charity Islands, July 27; Ohio, Dayton, July 20, Bay Point,
July 24, Painesville, July 25, and North Lima, July 27; Illinois,
Chicago, July 2, and La Grange, July 27; Mississippi, Bay St. Louis,
July 15, and Beauvoir, July 26; Nova Scotia, Digby, July 26; New
Brunswick, Scotch Lake, August 9; Maine, Pittsfield, July 26;
Massachusetts, Marthas Vineyard, July 11; New York, Syracuse, July 2,
Orient, July 4, Rochester, July 10, and East Hampton, July 11; New
Jersey, Elizabeth, July 14, and Camden, August 16; Pennsylvania, Beaver,
August 6; District of Columbia, Washington, August 10; Virginia,
Chincoteague, August 1; South Carolina, Mount Pleasant, July 21, and
Frogmore, August 1; Alabama, Leighton, July 24; Florida, Fort De Soto,
July 25, and Key West, July 26; Bermuda, Penistons Pond, August 3;
Bahama Islands, Fortune Island, August 5; Porto Rico, Guayanilla, August
24; West Indies, Barbados, August 16, Guadeloupe, September 2, and St.
Croix, September 14; Lower California, San Jose del Cabo, September 2;
Guatemala, Duenas, September 2; Costa Rica, San Jose, September 7; and
Colombia, Santa Marta, September 14.

Late dates of fall departure are: Alaska, St. George Island, October 3,
Unalaska, October 5, St. Paul Island, October 8, and Nushagak, October
15; British Columbia, Comox, October 15, Chilliwak, October 19, and
Okanagan Landing, November 5; Washington, Nisqually Flats, November 6,
and Simiahmoo, November 1; Oregon, Cold Springs Bird Reserve, October
27; California, Oakland, October 8; Lower California, San Jose del Cabo,
October 24; Costa Rica, La Estrella de Cartago, November 5; Montana,
Flathead Lake, October 20, and Terry, October 21; Idaho, Deer Flat,
November 1; Colorado, Barr, October 5; Mackenzie, Slave River, September
29, and Blackwater, October 7; Manitoba, Winnipeg, October 18, and
Winnipeg, October 29; South Dakota Wall Lake, October 14, and Sioux
Falls, November 5; Nebraska, Lincoln, November 4; Minnesota, Hallock,
October 16, and St. Vincent, October 25; Wisconsin, Madison, October 11;
Iowa, Marshalltown, November 18, and Keokuk, November 24; Ontario,
London, October 16, Toronto, October 27, and Ottawa, November 5;
Michigan, Hillsdale, October 6, Bay City, October 21, and Detroit,
October 29; Ohio, Youngstown, November 5, Dayton, November 18, and
Columbus, November 28; Indiana, Lafayette; October 5, and Bicknell,
November 1; Illinois, Chicago, October 3, and Lawrenceville, November
13; Quebec, Montreal, November 1, Quebec, November 10, and Anticosti
Island, November 12; Maine, Lewiston, October 13, and Pittsfield,
November 10; Massachusetts, Lynn, October 28, Harvard, October 30, and
Monomoy Island, November 1; New York, Long Beach, November 7, Keuka,
November 12, and Branchport, November 23; New Jersey, Camden, November
8; Pennsylvania, Erie, October 31, and Carlisle, November 2; District of
Columbia, Anacostia, November 1; North Carolina, Raleigh, November 15;
Florida, Lake Jackson, November 22, and Palma Sola, November 29; and
Bermuda, St. George, October 9.

_Casual records._--The pectoral sandpiper has been taken twice in the
Hawaiian Islands, Koahualu, August 6, 1900, and October 14, 1900; once
at Hopedale, Labrador; and several times in Greenland, in summer and
fall. Observed in Labrador, Rigolet, June 24 to July 8, 1882, and Davis
Inlet, July 18, 1883. In Europe it has apparently been detected only in
the British Isles, where there are several records from Scotland and
Ireland and the southern counties of England.

_Egg dates._--Alaska: 16 records, May 27 to July 3; 8 records, June 2 to
18. Arctic Canada: 3 records, June 10 to 30.




The white-rumped, or Bonaparte, sandpiper is a great traveller; it
breeds in a limited area on the Arctic coast of North America and
winters in extreme southern South America.

_Spring._--From its winter home in South America, this sandpiper makes
an early start; Dr. Alexander Wetmore (1926) writes:

     At Guamini, Buenos Aires, from March 3 to 8, white-rumped
     sandpipers were encountered in northward migration from a winter
     range in Patagonia. The species was fairly common on March 3 and
     increased greatly in abundance on the two days that followed. The
     northward journey was apparently as concerted as the movement that
     carried the birds southward, as on March 6 there was a noticeable
     decrease in their numbers, and by March 8, though the birds were
     still common, the bulk of individuals had passed. They arrived in
     flocks from the southward, often of several hundred individuals,
     that whirled in and circled back and forth along the lake shore to
     decoy to birds feeding on the strand or to rise again and continue
     swiftly northward. Those that paused kept up a busy search for food
     along the muddy beaches in or near shallow water, or in company
     with little parties of buff-breasted sandpipers on the drier
     alkaline flats back of the shore line. In early morning they were
     especially active and were in continual movement. Occasionally they
     worked out into comparatively deep water where in feeding it is
     necessary to immerse the head over the eyes nearly to the ear
     openings. When disturbed flocks rose with soft notes that resembled
     _tseet tseet_ or _tseup_ to circle to new feeding grounds on the
     lake shore.

The spring migration route is apparently northward along the Atlantic
coast of South America and through the West Indies to the United States.
Only a few migrate along our Atlantic coast, as the main flight is
northward through the interior, during May and the first few days of
June. Many reach their breeding grounds before the end of May.

_Courtship._--Doctor Wetmore (1926) gives an attractive account of what
seems to be a beginning of courtship in Argentina; he writes:

     Occasional parties of males, animated by the approaching breeding
     season, broke into soft songs and called and twittered, often for
     several minutes, in a musical chorus in low tones that had so
     little carrying power that they merged in the strong wind, and it
     was some time before I succeeded in picking out the sweet
     individual songs _tsep a tsep a tsep a_ or _twee twee tee tee ty
     tee_ given as the head was bobbed rapidly up and down. Occasionally
     when the fall sunlight came warmly I sat in the mud and let little
     bands of white rumps work up around me until they were feeding and
     calling within a meter or so, eyeing me sharply for any cause of
     alarm. At such times their twittering choruses came sweetly and
     pleasantly, clearly audible above the lap of waves and the rush of
     the inevitable winds of the pampas. Between songs the search for
     food continued without cessation. At short intervals, activated by
     the warmth of the sun, they suddenly indulged in dozens of combats
     with their fellows, bloodless affrays, of bluff and retreat, where
     they lowered their heads and with open mouths ran at one another
     pugnaciously. The one attacked sidled quickly away or fluttered off
     for a short distance, save where two of equal temperament chanced
     to clash when first one and then the other threatened with raised
     wings in alternate advance and retreat until the fray was concluded
     to their mutual satisfaction. At such times the movements of these
     otherwise plain little birds were sprightly and vivacious to a
     degree. Their loquacity at this season was marked as it contrasted
     strikingly with their silence and quiet during the resting period
     of southern summer. Flocks frequently rose to perform intricate
     evolutions and then returned with a rush to sweep along the shore
     and join less ambitious comrades. As they passed the white rump
     flashed plainly, certain advertisement of the species. At times the
     chattering of these active flocks reminded me of the twittering of

J. Dewey Soper found this species quite common at various places on
Baffin Island, and has sent me some very full notes on it, from which I
quote as follows:

     The species was encountered at Nettilling Lake, June 10, 1925, when
     a mated pair was flushed from a marshy upland near the Takuirbing
     River. The sexual organs in both were fully developed, the female
     being almost on the point of laying. By the 14th the species had
     become quite common. The males practised their vocal performance on
     the wing immediately upon arrival. They rise to a height of about
     60 feet above the tundra and there they hover with rapidly beating
     wings giving utterance to their nuptial song in notes so weak that
     when a wind is blowing nothing may be heard of it even at
     comparatively close range. It is given in a very low tone and slow
     tempo; the notes are weak and inclined to be squeaky, with a weird
     dripping quality like the sound of water oozing and dropping in a
     small cavern. The species appears to flush silently.

_Nesting._--Very little seems to be known and still less has been
published about the nesting habits of the white-rumped sandpiper. In
MacFarlane's notes I find brief records of seven nests found by his
party on the barren grounds and Arctic coast of Canada, from 1862 to
1865. One nest was found on June 21, 1862, 50 miles east of Fort
Anderson; the female and three eggs were taken; the nest consisted of a
few leaves in a small hole in the ground near a small lake. Another
found on June 29, 1863, on the barren grounds, is described as "a mere
depression in the ground lined with a few decayed leaves"; the female
and four eggs were taken. There is a set of four eggs in the Herbert
Massey collection, taken with the parent bird by E. A. McIllhenny at
Point Barrow, Alaska, on June 25, 1898; the nest is described as "a
hollow in the moss on top of a ridge on the tundra, lined with dry grass
and partly arched over." This is farther west than the species is
supposed to breed, but there are several birds in the Philadelphia
Academy of Sciences collected there in June, which are in full breeding

Mr. Soper found a number of nests near Nettilling Lake, Baffin Island,
on which he has sent me the following notes:

     A nest containing four eggs was found on a grassy hummock on the
     tundra bordering the lake on June 16. Many were subsequently found.
     The nest is merely a shallow depression on the crown of a tussock
     of grass and mosses a few inches above the surrounding mud and
     water of the tundra. It is sparingly lined with blades of old grass
     and dead leaves of the dwarf arctic willow. Some are lined
     exclusively with the dried, oval leaves of _Salix herbacea_.
     According to collecting data, both sexes arrive together, with the
     female almost, if not quite, ready for immediate reproduction, as
     evidenced by the condition of the ovaries. The nest of four eggs
     found on June 16 was but four days after the first observed
     arrivals of the species.

     The female upon one's approach plays the familiar artifice of
     simulating a prostrated condition, limping and dragging herself
     along the ground in an effort to attract one's attention from the
     nest. In this they are bold and fearless; and when one sits beside
     the nest they will frequently run up to within a foot or less of
     the observer. In photographing nests from a distance of only a few
     feet, the female will often return to her eggs while one's head is
     under the dark cloth adjusting the focus. One was so devoted to
     her eggs that she would run up and peck at my fingers and run over
     my hand as I extended it toward the nest. This species, when one
     approaches the nest, usually leaves it when one is 20 to 25 yards
     distant and runs along the ground, either directly toward the
     intruder or a little to one side. Because of its remarkable
     similarity to the covering of the tundra at this time, this first
     movement often escapes one, and consequently when the bird is
     first observed fluttering along the ground one naturally imagines
     himself near the nest, when, in reality, it may be 20 or 30 yards
     away. This ruse is a clever one, and no doubt would often save the
     nest from violation. The nests are easily found by retiring and
     watching the female with the glasses. They usually return to the
     nest with little artifice or delay; in fact, often within two or
     three minutes. The above procedure is not an invariable practice,
     as one female I knew would flush directly from the nest to begin
     her tactics only when there was danger of the nest being actually
     trodden upon.

_Eggs._--The four eggs usually laid by the white-rumped sandpiper are
ovate pyriform in shape; all that I have seen are uniform in shape and
have characteristic colors and markings. One of the two sets in the
United States National Museum has a "deep olive buff" ground color, and
the eggs are heavily blotched about the larger end, sparingly spotted
elsewhere with "wood brown," "warm sepia," and "benzo brown," and with a
few underlying spots of various shades of "brownish drab"; an egg from
this set is well figured by Frank Poynting (1895). The other set differs
from this one in having the ground color lighter, "olive buff," and the
spots finer, more scrawly, and lighter in color; the underlying drab
markings are also more numerous.

There is also a set of four eggs in the Thayer collection, taken with
the parent bird by Alfred H. Anderson on Taylor Island, Victoria Land,
July 7, 1919. These eggs are much like the egg figured by Mr. Poynting,
except that in one or two of the eggs the ground color is more greenish.

One of the three sets taken by J. Dewey Soper on Baffin Island looks
much like a miniature set of long-billed curlew's eggs. In three of the
eggs the ground color is "mignonette green," covered with small spots,
more thickly at the larger end, of "bister" and "snuff brown"; the other
has a "deep lichen green" ground color and is irregularly blotched near
the larger end, finely speckled elsewhere with "bister" and "brownish

The measurements of 34 eggs average 33.7 by 24 millimeters; the eggs
showing the four extremes measure =36.1= by 23.6, 34.2 by =27.7=, =31.5=
by 23.5, and 35 by =22.8= millimeters.

_Young._--Mr. Soper's notes on the young are as follows:

     The first juveniles, about a day old, were seen and collected on
     July 11. They were exceedingly active, a good example of precocial
     young. These were ashy below, buffy above, with black markings, and
     the down over the lower back and rump tipped with small spots of
     white. This species is much more demonstrative and less artful in
     the concealment of young than Baird's sandpiper. The adults come
     within a few feet of the intruder, and by their action advertise
     much more clearly the position of the young. The parent birds keep
     up a continual fine twittering cry of alarm, the female louder and
     more pronounced. The male comes on the scene only at intervals with
     a mouse-like squeaking note. The young are adepts in the art of
     concealment, "freezing" flat to the ground with warning notes from
     the adults. They will lie in this fashion as though dead until
     actually picked up in the hand. When they realize the game is up
     they then become wild and frantically struggle to escape. When
     allowed to do so they will run rapidly away and either hide again
     or attempt to reach the mother bird, whose frantic cries come from
     but a few yards away.

     A young white rump about two-thirds grown and almost on the point
     of flight was captured on August 1. Others seen a few days later on
     the shore of Kuksunittuk Bay were capable of short flights. As an
     experiment, I tried several times to keep individual young alive at
     my base tent on the Takuirbing River, but they invariably died
     within about 24 hours regardless of the best care.

_Plumages._--The downy young white rumped is much like the downy young
of other tundra nesting species of sandpipers. From the stilt sandpiper
it can be distinguished by its much shorter legs and shorter and
slenderer bill, from the Baird by its more buffy face and breast, these
parts being pure white in _bairdi_, and from the least by paler and
duller browns in the upper parts and by white, instead of buffy terminal
tuft spots. The crown, back, rump, wings, and thighs are variegated or
marbled with "Sanford's brown," or "tawny," and black, dotted, except on
the front half of the crown, which is mainly bright brown, with whitish
terminal tufts. The forehead, a broad superciliary stripe, the sides of
the head, throat, and breast are pale buff or buffy white; the remaining
under parts are grayish white. A median frontal stripe of black
terminates in "tawny" toward the bill; there are extensive black areas
on either side of the crown and on the occiput. The nape is grizzly,
buff, gray and dusky.

In juvenal plumage the crown is sepia with "tawny" edgings; the back,
rump, tertials, and scapulars are sepia, with "tawny" edges, and some of
the feathers of the mantle and scapulars are also white tipped; the
under parts are white, but the breast is suffused with light buff and
narrowly streaked with dusky; the median and lesser wing coverts are
broadly edged with light buff or whitish.

The postjuvenal molt of the body plumage usually occurs in September and
October, mainly in the latter month, but sometimes not until November.
The upper body plumage is not all molted, so that first winter birds can
be distinguished by tawny or buffy edged feathers in the mantle and by
the juvenal wing coverts. The next partial prenuptial molt apparently
removes all traces of immaturity.

Adults have a prenuptial molt, beginning in March, of the under-body
plumage, most of the upper-body plumage, sometimes the tail, and some of
the wing coverts. But this is almost immediately preceded by the delayed
molt of the remiges in January and February, so that it seems to be a
nearly complete prenuptial molt, which is barely finished before the
birds start on their long northward migration. The postnuptial molt of
adults, beginning in August and often lasting into October, involves
only the body plumage, the tail, and some scapulars, tertials, and wing
coverts. The gray winter plumage, so different from the brightly colored
spring plumage, is seldom seen in its completeness before the birds go

_Food._--Very little seems to have been published on the food of the
white-rumped sandpiper, but W. L. McAtee (1911) gives it credit for
eating some injurious insects and worms, such as grasshoppers, the
clover-root curculio, which is injurious to clover, and marine worms
(_Nereis_), which prey on oysters.

Stuart T. Danforth (1925) says that four collected in Porto Rico--

     had eaten 77.7 per cent of animal food and 22.3 per cent of
     vegetable matter. Fifty per cent of the animal matter consisted of
     bloodworms, 25 per cent of Planorbis snails, and 5 per cent of
     _Corixa reticulata_. The vegetable matter consisted entirely of
     seeds, of which those of Compositae formed 33.3 per cent, _Sesban
     emerus_ 30 per cent, and _Persicaria portoricensis_ 36.7 per cent.
     In addition to food, the stomachs contained mineral matter (coarse
     red sand) forming 32.5 per cent of the stomach contents.

_Behavior._--Lucien M. Turner, who has had abundant opportunity to
observe this species in Ungava, writes in his notes:

     The flight of these birds is remarkably firm and swift, generally
     in an undulatory manner and swerving to the right or left often
     with the body inclined to one side, the wing nearly perpendicular,
     alternately presenting the upper and lower surface of the body.
     Just before alighting the wings are raised until the tips nearly
     touch over the back and for a moment held outstretched and then
     slowly folded. The bird is quite active while searching for food
     and seldom remains more than a few seconds in a spot, where it
     constantly picks here and there for the minute organisms which form
     its food. During this time all is activity and quite in contrast to
     the interval while the tide is high and the bird is on the high
     land resting and digesting its food. Here it is more sleepy and
     less easily disturbed. The eyesight of these sandpipers is
     certainly very acute, as they are able to detect the presence of a
     person at a long distance and give a twittering, snipey note,
     otherwise regardless of approaching danger. In all their doings the
     utmost harmony seems to prevail. The only object of their lives
     seems to be to gather food. No sooner does the water begin to ebb
     than a few of these birds will swish over some point of land with
     merry twittering, eagerly scanning the bank for the least
     appearance of mud now being exposed. By the time the tide has half
     ebbed myriads of these birds are sweeping back and forth along the
     river. As the water shallows over well known bars, and scarcely has
     the water shoaled enough to permit the birds to alight without
     swimming, than as many sandpipers as can collect on the place
     eagerly alight and begin probing the ooze for food. The lowering
     water is followed by the thronging birds to the last inch.

     The flowing tide begins and the birds retreat carefully seizing
     every object of food that the rising water brings to the surface.
     Often they are so eager in their search that many birds are
     crowded into the deeper water and save themselves only by flight.
     This or that place is quickly covered over by the water and again
     the birds collect into larger flocks which now sway to the right
     or left, alternately, exposing their silvery white underparts
     which gleam in the sunshine like a stream of silver. The gray or
     brown of their backs relieving the color as the long stream of
     birds pass by. They partially halt their flight and become a
     compact flock, whereupon they separate into smaller flocks which,
     as the water gradually rises and covers their feeding grounds, now
     betake themselves to the higher lands of the banks above. Here,
     around the pools on the highlands, or among the grassy margins of
     the lakes, they collect to wash themselves and digest the food
     they have obtained from the salt-water mud.

     As a person approaches one of these pools, in the latter part of
     August, little suspecting that anything will be found near them,
     these birds turn their backs, which so closely resemble the lichen
     covered granite as to render the birds indistinguishable. A nearer
     approach and they present their white breasts which afford a
     striking contrast with the surroundings. In a moment they run
     together and huddle into a compact flock before they take wing. I
     have, by firing at the proper moment, secured every individual
     composing a flock of over a dozen birds. If they fly they take to
     their wings with a sudden impulse and fly in a zigzag movement for
     a few yards then swerve to right or left continuing until another
     locality is reached, where they sit quietly until approached. This
     is repeated every tide and, as the birds are crepuscular also in
     their habits, their opportunities for becoming fat are nearly
     doubled. They acquire the fat in a short time. The thickness of the
     layer is often one-fourth of an inch and completely envelops the
     body. The least abrasion of the skin or a shot hole soon fills the
     surrounding parts with oil which has exuded from the wound, making
     the preparation of skins for specimens a very difficult matter. The
     flesh of these birds is peculiarly tender and richly flavored. At
     times I have gone out to shoot these birds for the table and with
     five discharges (of half an ounce of No. 12 shot) I secured on one
     occasion 82 birds. A heavy stick thrown in among them as they wade
     along the water's edge also knocks many of them over, for these
     birds seem so intent on procuring food that but little heed is
     given to the hunter.

William Brewster (1925) says:

     Invariably among the tamest and most confiding of our so-called
     shore birds, they will usually permit one to approach, either on
     foot or in a boat, within 5 or 6 yards, while I have known a gun to
     be discharged into a flock with fatal effect, but without causing
     any of the birds which escaped injury to take wing. Like most obese
     creatures they are habitually sluggish, confining their wanderings
     afoot to limited areas, and exploiting these very deliberately,
     walking slowly and sedately in crouching attitudes, with measured
     steps, frequently stopping to thrust their bills listlessly a
     little way into the soft ground, or to pick up small morsels of
     food from the surface. Occasionally, however, one may see them
     running to and fro over the mud quite briskly and ceaselessly,
     perhaps incited to this comparatively unusual behavior by the
     example of other waders feeding close about them, for they are by
     no means averse to the companionship of several of the lesser
     kinds, such as semipalmated plover and sandpipers, grass-birds,
     dunlins, etc. Although somewhat loath to take wing, even when
     threatened by obvious danger, they are likely to fly swiftly and
     far, when once started, doubling and circling over the marshes in
     much the same manner as other small sandpipers.

John T. Nichols, says in his notes:

     When startled, a bird has been seen to crouch down concealing the
     bulk of its white underparts and practically disappear against the
     brightly lighted mud flat on which it had been feeding. This is a
     habit shared by its close relatives the pectoral and least

_Voice._--The white-rumped sandpiper is ordinarily a rather silent bird,
but its short, sharp flight note is characteristic of the species and
serves to distinguish it readily in the field. To me it sounds like
_tzeep_ or _tzip_; Mr. Nichols calls it "a squeaky mouse-like _jeet_";
Mr. Brewster (1925) describes it as "a feeble lisping _zip_ or _tsip_,
fringilline, rather than limicoline, in character"; and Doctor Townsend
(1905) thinks that "it suggests at times the call note of the pipit." C.
J. Maynard (1896) refers to "one cry in particular, being loudly given
and greatly prolonged, resembling the scream of a rapacious bird more
than the whistle of a sandpiper."

_Field marks._--The best field mark for this species is the white rump,
or rather upper tail-coverts; this is conspicuous in flight but is
usually concealed by the wings when the bird is on the ground. I have
noticed that, while the bird is standing with its side toward me, the
gray of the upper parts extend down on the sides of the neck as far as
the bend of the wing, whereas in the semipalmated sandpiper, with which
it might be confused, there is a decided white space in front of the

Mr. Nichols says in his notes:

     This bird is a size larger than least or semipalmated sandpipers,
     and at favorable angles shows a diagnostic white patch crossing
     above the rather dark tail. This white patch is a good example of
     color which apparently functions as a recognition mark. If the same
     were fortuitous one would not expect the tail to be darker than in
     related species, as is the case, causing the white rump to show
     more prominently. Straight bill, (or with slight decurviture at the
     tip, like that of the pectoral sandpiper) and as a rule finely and
     sharply streaked head and breast prevent chance of confusion with
     the European curlew sandpiper, of casual occurrence on our Atlantic

_Fall._--The beginning of the fall flight is apparently southeastward
from its breeding grounds west of Hudson Bay and perhaps southward from
Baffin Island, where it breeds. Mr. Turner's Ungava notes give a very
good idea of this first step in the migration and a good impression of
the great abundance of this species; he writes:

     As I proceeded farther northward I did not observe a single one of
     these sandpipers until we came to anchor off the mouth of Georges
     River (July 31) where quite a number were seen on the pebbly beach,
     seeking their food among the rocks and shingle as the tide receded.
     At this date quite a number, in fact fully three-fourths, of those
     seen were birds of the year as was fully attested by traces of
     downy plumage yet among the feathers of the body and especially on
     the head and neck. The sizes of the flocks varied from three or
     four to nearly a dozen, doubtless consisting of a single brood or,
     in the case of the larger flocks, of two or more broods with their
     parents. Some of the younger members of the flocks had the wing
     quills not fully developed while others were considerably farther
     advanced. Such a variation of plumage both in age and coloration
     was exhibited that I presumed there must be two weeks difference in
     the ages of the different young.

     By the 10th of August all the young are well able to fly and make
     protracted flights in search of food. By this date they assemble in
     flocks, amounting at times, to thousands of individuals, resorting
     to the mud flats left bare by the receding tide. The mouth of the
     Koksoak and the cove to the westward of it present excellent tracts
     of mud deposited in the little indentations. By the middle of
     September these birds begin to depart to the south. Many of them
     ascended the Koksoak and others doubtless followed the windings of
     the coast down the Atlantic. I have seen numerous flocks over a
     hundred miles from the mouth of the river as late as October 12th,
     and an occasional single bird as late as the 20th of that month. I
     have observed, at the mouth of the Koksoak River, flocks of these
     birds often numbering over a hundred individuals suddenly appear
     from high in the air. These I suspected to be birds coming from the
     regions to the northward of the strait for they always came from
     the sea.

Thence there is an overland flight to the Atlantic coast. Mr. Brewster
(1925) says:

     White-rumped sandpipers visit Lake Umbagog regularly and not
     infrequently, if rather sparingly, in autumn, appearing oftenest
     during the month of October. Those arriving early in the season are
     mostly adult birds which occur singly or two or three together;
     those coming later are of various ages and sometimes in flocks
     containing as many as eight or nine members each, but rarely, if
     ever, a greater number. Bonaparte's sandpipers are hardy birds.
     They may be seen at the lake when its bordering marshes are stiff
     with frost. Once (October 26, 1883) I found nine of them near the
     mouth of Cambridge River two days after the entire region had been
     covered with snow to a depth of 7 inches.

This bird is a regular, but never an abundant, migrant on the coast of
Massachusetts in the fall. The vast numbers which Turner saw in Ungava
must seek some other route; the species is never abundant in the
interior in the fall and it seems to be rather rare on the Atlantic
coast south of New England; the natural inference is that it migrates at
sea from Maine or Nova Scotia directly to South America or the West
Indies. It is abundant at times in Bermuda.

The adults begin to reach Cape Cod in August, but the main flight comes
in September, consisting partially of young birds; most of the young
birds come in October and some linger as late as November 10. While with
us the white-rumped sandpiper frequents the wet meadows and marshes near
the shore, as well as the sand flats, mud flats, and beaches, feeding at
low tide singly or in small flocks and usually associated with pectoral,
semipalmated, or least sandpipers. During high tides, while the flats
are covered, this species may be seen on the high sandy beaches, mixed
in with the vast flocks of small shorebirds, sleeping, or resting, or
preening their plumage, while waiting for feeding time to come again; if
the wind is blowing, all the birds are facing it; many are crouching on
the sand and others are standing on one leg with the bill tucked under
the scapulars. These flocks often contain hundreds and sometimes
thousands of birds, mainly semipalmated sandpipers, semipalmated
plover, and sanderlings. They are not all asleep, however, for if
approached too closely, they all rise and whirl away in a vast
shimmering cloud, flashing now white and now dark as they turn, and
settle on the beach again at no great distance.

_Winter._--August finds the white-rumped sandpiper migrating along the
coast of Brazil and it has been known to reach Cape Horn as early as
September 9. Doctor Wetmore (1926) writes:

     The white-rumped sandpiper was the most abundant of the migrant
     shore birds in the regions visited in southern South America. The
     species was not recorded until September 6, 1920, when it appeared
     in abundance in southward migration on the lagoons at kilometer 80,
     west of Puerto Pinasco, Paraguay. The first flocks from which
     specimens were taken were adult females, and two taken on the date
     when they were first recorded had laid eggs a few weeks previous as
     was shown by the appearance of the ovaries. The southward migration
     came with a rush as the birds passed through the night as witnessed
     by their calls. The flight continued until September 21, when a
     dozen, the last seen here, were recorded. The birds circled about
     lagoons in small compact flocks or walked along on muddy shores,
     where they fed with head down, probing rapidly in the soft mud;
     anything edible encountered was seized and swallowed and the bird
     continued without delay in its search for more.

     Farther south this species was encountered in abundance in its
     winter range on the pampa. Ten were recorded at Dolores, Buenos
     Aires, October 21, and from October 22 to November 15 the species
     was found in numbers on the coastal mud flats on the Bay of
     Samborombom. A few were seen at pools of water in the sand dunes
     below Cape San Antonio. Along the Rio Ajo white-rumped sandpipers
     were encountered in flocks of hundreds that came upstream to
     search the mud flats at low tide or were concentrated on bars at
     the mouth when the water was high. In early morning there was a
     steady flight of them passing to suitable feeding grounds. The
     birds flew swiftly, with soft notes, from 3 to 15 feet from the
     earth. In feeding they scattered out in little groups that covered
     the bare mud systematically. It was not unusual to record as many
     as 2,000 in a day. About two hundred were observed in the bay at
     Ingeniero White, the port of Bahia Blanca, on December 13, and at
     Carhue, Buenos Aires, from December 16 to 18, white-rumped
     sandpipers were noted in fair numbers on inundated ground back of
     the shore of Lake Epiquen or about fresh-water ponds on the pampa
     inland. None were found in Uruguay during February.

Ernest Gibson (1920) says of this species, at Cape San Antonio, Buenos

     This is certainly our commonest wader, and is found everywhere in
     flocks, from, say, the end of October to the middle or end of
     March. The number in these gatherings is only restricted by the
     area of the feeding ground; hence, when large mud flats are
     available in the vicinity of our fresh or salt water lagunas and
     cangrejales, or at the subsidence of a flood, the flocks are
     sometimes of enormous size. The observer may see many acres of
     ground which look to be in continuous movement, the surface being
     alive with the restless throng of sandpipers running about and
     chasing each other, feeding, or taking constant short flights.


_Range._--North and South America; casual in Europe.

_Breeding range._--Although the white-rumped sandpiper has been noted in
summer from Wainwright, Alaska, east to southern Greenland
(Julianshaab), the only places where eggs have been taken are Point
Barrow, Alaska; Herschel Island, Yukon; Taylor Island, Victoria Land;
Fort Anderson and Rendezvous Lake, Mackenzie; and the southeast shore of
Lake Nettilling, Baffin Island.

_Winter range._--North to Paraguay (Rio Pilcomayo and Rio Parana); and
Uruguay (Montevideo). East to Uruguay (Montevideo); Argentina (La Plata,
Cape San Antonio, Bahia Blanca, Rio Chubut, and Puerto San Julian); the
Falkland Islands; and Tierra del Fuego. South to Tierra Fuego; and
southern Chile (Straits of Magellan). West to Chile (Straits of Magellan
and Santiago); and Paraguay (Rio Pilcomayo).

_Spring migration._--Early dates of spring arrival are: Florida, De
Funiak Springs, May 12; Georgia, Savannah, May 17; South Carolina, Mount
Pleasant, May 7, Frogmore, May 7, and Charleston, May 16; North
Carolina, Cape Hatteras, May 2, Churchs Island, May 6, and Pea and
Brodie Islands, May 15; Virginia, Smith's Island, May 14; District of
Columbia, Washington, May 11; New Jersey, Long Beach, May 9, Trenton,
May 12, and Bernardsville, May 14; New York, Mastic, May 11,
Canandaigua, May 19, Rockaway Beach, May 21, and Freeport, May 22;
Connecticut, Middletown, May 10, and New Haven, May 19; Rhode Island,
Block Island, May 16; Massachusetts, Melrose, May 9, and Harvard, May
20; Vermont, Woodstock, May 14, Brattleboro, May 18, and Rutland, May
19; Maine, Scarboro, May 29; Quebec, Godbout, May 24, and Quebec City,
May 27; Louisiana, Lobdell, May 14; Kentucky, Bowling Green, April 27;
Missouri, Jacks Fork, May 15, and Sand Ridge, May 16; Illinois, De Kalb,
May 8, and Elgin, May 11; Ohio, Canton, May 8, Berlin Center, May 11,
and Youngstown, May 17; Michigan, Detroit, May 6; Ontario, Toronto, May
26; Iowa, Marshalltown, May 4, and Sioux City, May 7; Wisconsin,
Whitewater, April 28; Minnesota, Wilder, May 5, Jackson, May 13, and
Heron Lake, May 19; Texas, Brownsville, April 11, and Ingram, May 8;
Kansas, Emporia, May 4, Lawrence, May 5, and Topeka, May 7; Nebraska,
Neligh, May 1, and Peru, May 13; South Dakota, Sioux Falls, May 5, and
Vermilion, May 9; Manitoba, Whitewater Lake, May 12; Saskatchewan,
Ravenscrag, May 13; and Mackenzie, Fort Resolution, May 19, and Fort
Simpson, May 26.

Late dates of spring departure from the wintering grounds are:
Argentina, French Bay, March 7, and Guamini, March 8. In North America,
late dates are: South Carolina, Mount Pleasant, May 30, and Frogmore,
May 31; North Carolina, Raleigh, May 24, and Lake Ellis, June 15;
Virginia, Smith's Island, June 7; Delaware, Lewes, June 8; Pennsylvania,
Erie, June 4; New Jersey, Bernardsville, May 24, and Camden, May 24; New
York, Castleton, June 2, and Long Beach, June 20; Massachusetts,
Harvard, June 4; Illinois, Waukegan, June 9; Ohio, Painesville, June 14,
and Lakeside, June 25; Ontario, Toronto, June 21; Iowa, Sioux City, May
30, and Keokuk, June 5; Wisconsin, Madison, May 30; Minnesota, Hallock,
June 8; Texas, Lomita, May 22, and Gainesville, May 24; Kansas, Fort
Riley, May 22 and Stafford County, June 6; Nebraska, Lincoln, May 20,
Republican Fork, May 25, and Valentine, May 25; South Dakota,
Forestburg, May 27, and Vermilion, June 5; North Dakota, Charlson, June
1; Manitoba, Reaburn, June 6, Duck Mountain, June 8, and Shoal Lake,
June 20; and Saskatchewan, Kutanajan Lake, June 9, and Quill Lake, June

_Fall migration._--Early fall arrivals are: Saskatchewan, Indian Head,
July 1; Texas, Tivoli, August 17; Minnesota, St. Vincent, August 4;
Wisconsin, Lake Koshkonong, August 1; Iowa, Marshalltown, August 19, and
Keokuk, August 21; Ontario, Toronto, August 23; Michigan, Lansing, July
29; Massachusetts, Marthas Vineyard, July 16, and Ipswich, July 24;
Rhode Island, Providence, July 18, and Block Island, July 27; New York,
Orient, July 24; New Jersey, Long Beach, July 7; Pennsylvania, Erie,
August 29; Florida, Palma Sola, August 27; Paraguay, near Puerto
Pinasco, September 6; and Patagonia, Orange Bay, September 9.

Late departures in the fall are: Mackenzie, Slave River, October 1;
Saskatchewan, Eastend, September 12; Manitoba, Shoal Lake, September 21;
Minnesota, Hallock, October 16; Iowa, Marshalltown, November 7; Ontario,
Toronto, November 2, and Ottawa, November 5; Ohio, Columbus, October 28,
and North Lima, October 29; Ungava, Koksoak River, October 20; Baffin
Island, Pangnirtung Fiord, September 25; Labrador, Battle Harbor,
October 29; and Quebec, Montreal, October 31; Maine, Lake Umbagog,
October 14, and Bangor, October 23; Massachusetts, Lynn, October 12,
Boston, October 22, Harvard, October 24, and Cape Cod, November 10;
Connecticut, Branford, October 23, and East Hartford, October 30; New
York, Ithaca, October 16, Quogue, October 30, Shinnecock Bay, October
30, Oneida Lake, November 3, and Canandaigua, November 4; Pennsylvania,
Philadelphia, October 10, and Erie, October 29; District of Columbia,
Anacostia, October 24; Virginia, Lake Drummond, November 5; Ohio,
Columbus, November 15; North Carolina, Church's Island, October 7, and
Raleigh, December 7; South Carolina, Mount Pleasant, October 17, and
Frogmore, October 24; Georgia, Savannah, October 9; and Florida, St.
Augustine, December 2.

_Casual records._--Although probably on the migrational highway, records
of the white-rumped sandpiper in Central America, the West Indies, and
Lesser Antilles are so few that in these places it can only be
considered as a casual visitor. Specimens are in the British Museum from
Lion Hill, Panama; Momotombo, Nicaragua; and Tizimin and Cozumel Island,
Mexico. It also has been observed or taken on the islands of Barbados
(September 20 and 22, year?); Dominica (November 5, 1904); St. Lucia;
Guadeloupe; Martinique; Trinidad; Porto Rico (Mayaguez, October 2, 1900,
and Culebrita, April 15, 1912); Cuba; the Bahamas (Inagua, May 27, 1879,
and Fortune Island, August 5, 1876); and the Bermuda Islands. Examples
were reported from the Yellowstone River, Montana, August 8 to 13, 1878;
it has been taken at Laramie, Wyo.; in New Mexico (Fort Fillmore,
October, 1852, and Zuni Mountains, September 16, 1851); and there are
several records for eastern Colorado. The specimen reported from
Oakland, Calif., was probably the Pectoral sandpiper, _P. maculata_. One
was taken at Hopedale, Labrador.

White-rumped sandpipers have been reported in the British Isles fourteen
or fifteen times and a specimen was taken in Franz Josef Land on June 28
(year unknown, but prior to 1898).

_Egg dates._--Arctic Canada: 14 records, June 15 to July 24; 7 records,
June 30 to July 12. Alaska: 2 records, June 25.




_Spring._--This sandpiper belongs to that class of birds which Abel
Chapman (1924) so aptly terms "globe spanners," for on its migrations
its traverses the whole length of both American continents twice a year.
From its wintering grounds in Patagonia it must start north even earlier
than the preceding species or else it must travel faster. Dr. Alexander
Wetmore (1926) observed it migrating past Buenos Aires on March 5 in
company with white-rumped sandpipers, and it has been known to reach
Texas early in March. From there its course seems to be northward
between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. A.G. Lawrence
tells me that it passes through Manitoba between April 28 and May 29;
and J.A. Munro gives me, as his spring dates for southern British
Columbia, April 30 to May 10. Prof. William Rowan (Mss.) calls it
extremely abundant in Alberta about the middle of May and usually gone
by the 24th. It is very rare east of the Mississippi in the spring. E.A.
Preble (1908) saw large flocks foraging on floating ice at Lake
Athabaska on May 25. Dr. Joseph Grinnell (1900) records it at the Kowak
River, Alaska, on May 20. Joseph Dixon (1917) says:

     On May 31, 1914, at Griffin Point, Arctic Alaska, the first pair of
     Baird sandpipers for the season were noted feeding along the rim of
     a frozen tundra pond. The weather had turned bitterly cold during
     the previous night, and as a result the newly formed ice on the
     ponds was thick enough to support a man. Strictly speaking, there
     was no night at this date, for the two months of continuous
     daylight had already begun; so in a short time the sandpipers were
     bustling about picking up the mosquito and other pupae which were
     being washed out by a newly-born stream that gurgled under the snow
     and ice on its way down to the frozen lagoon.

_Courtship._--Two somewhat different accounts of the courtship of this
species have been published. W. Sprague Brooks (1915), who found this
bird breeding at Demarcation Point, Alaska, writes:

     Only once did I note any courtship activity. On this occasion (May
     24), the male would fly a few feet above the female, while she
     rested on the ground, with quick erratic wing strokes suggesting a
     nighthawk. Frequently he would alight and raise the wings high over
     the back as a gull does before folding them. Then with the forearms
     perpendicular, the primaries would be slowly raised and lowered
     like a pump handle, generally lowered to right angles with the
     forearms, sometimes lower. Not a sound was uttered.

Alfred M. Bailey (1926), whose observations were made at Cape Prince of
Wales, Alaska, says:

     Cutting down the opposite side of the ridge, I heard many calls
     which reminded me of home in the early spring, for the combined
     totals sounded like the singing of many little grass frogs in a
     meadow pond. It was the call, or rather the "spring song," of the
     Baird sandpiper. I soon flushed a little female, which fluttered
     away uttering cries of alarm. I concealed myself, and she soon
     returned, the male also hovering about, making his little froglike
     peep. At times he would rise high in the air, in the way so
     characteristic of male sandpipers, give forth his song, and sail
     down to perch.

_Nesting._--MacFarlane's notes mention seven nests found in the vicinity
of Franklin Bay, but very few data were given; "on June 24, 1864, a nest
containing four eggs was found in the Barren Grounds, in a swampy tract
between two small lakes, and was composed of a few decayed leaves placed
in a small cavity or depression in the ground, shaded by a tuft of
grass." John Murdoch (1885) says:

     The nest was always well hidden in the grass and never placed in
     marshy ground or on the bare black parts of tundra, and consists
     merely of a slight depression in the ground, thinly lined with
     dried grass. All the eggs we found were obtained from the last week
     in June to the first week of July, a trifle later than the other
     waders. The sitting female when disturbed exhibits the greatest
     solicitude, running about with drooping, outspread wings, and loud
     outcry, and uses every possible wile to attract the intruder from
     the eggs. The nest is so well concealed and forms so inconspicuous
     an object that the only practical way to secure the eggs is to
     withdraw to one side and allow the sitting bird to return,
     carefully marking where she alights. Having done this on one
     occasion and failing to find the eggs, after flushing the bird two
     or three times I discovered that I had walked on the eggs, though I
     had been looking for them most carefully.

Mr. Brooks (1915) writes:

     Two nests were found, each containing four eggs and about one
     quarter incubated on June 12 and 14, 1914. Murdoch found them
     nesting rather later than other waders at Point Barrow, but my
     experience at Demarcation Point was quite the opposite, for here
     they were the first to breed. A female taken June 2, had a fully
     formed and colored egg about ready to lay. Both of the above nests
     were on dry, well-drained tundra near the bases of knolls. The
     nests were like the other sandpipers, and lined with dry willow
     leaves, but the cavities were less deep than those of the
     semipalmated sandpiper.

     The female was on one nest and the male on the other. The former
     left the nest when I was some distance away and flying directly
     toward me alighted within a few feet. While I was at the nest she
     walked hurriedly about close by constantly uttering a plaintive
     _weet-weet-weet_ always repeated three times. Occasionally she
     would take a short flight about me and utter a note very similar
     to the rattling call of the pectoral sandpiper. The male when
     disturbed acted quite differently. He sat closer and on leaving
     the nest showed the greatest concern, dragging a "broken" wing in
     the most distressing manner. In neither case was the mate about as
     frequently occurs with the semipalmated sandpiper.

Mr. Dixon (1917) says:

     At Griffin Point, less than 50 miles to the eastward of Demarcation
     Point, the first set of eggs (fresh) was taken on June 24. The last
     set was found July 11, with the four eggs nearly ready to hatch.
     Murdoch speaks of the nests being well concealed and always hidden
     in the grass. In those nests which we found, no attempt had been
     made at such concealment, as they were placed absolutely in the
     open, with nothing to cover or conceal the eggs at all, and the
     nests so shallow that the tops of the eggs were almost or quite
     level with the surrounding grass. Far from being conspicuously
     exposed thereby, however, the eggs were shielded from discovery in
     the most effective manner possible, for in color and markings they
     blended so perfectly with the brown tundra that a person could
     easily look directly at them from a distance of 6 feet and still
     not be able to see them.

     This method of nesting seems to be the most effective way of
     escaping one great danger at least, namely, the notice of the
     countless jaegers, both parasitic and pomarine. These robbers
     subsist almost entirely during the breeding period on the young
     and eggs of other birds, and cruise continually back and forth
     over the sandpipers' nesting ground, looking for the least
     telltale feather, bit of wind-blown down, or other object which
     might afford a clue to the whereabouts of a nest.

Herbert W. Brandt found only one nest of the Baird sandpiper near Hooper
Bay, Alaska, which he tells me--

     Was on a dry mossy ridge amid the dunes and was partially concealed
     by the surrounding curly grass. It was flimsily constructed of
     grass stems and filled with a scant handful of small leaves of the
     dwarf birch and blueberry, together with a few adjacent
     reindeer-moss stems. The measurements of this nest were: Inside
     diameter 2-1/2 inches, and depth perhaps 2 inches.

_Eggs._--The Baird sandpiper lays ordinarily four eggs, occasionally
only three. These vary in shape from ovate or ovate pyriform to
subovate, and they have a slight gloss. In color they often resemble
certain types of western sandpipers' eggs, as they are usually of a
decidedly reddish tone; but they are considerably larger. The ground
color varies from "pinkish buff" to "pale pinkish buff" or from "olive
buff" to "cartridge buff." Three quite different types are represented
in my collection. In the western sandpiper type the "pinkish buff"
ground color is quite evenly covered over the whole egg with small,
elongated spots, somewhat thicker at the larger end and having a spiral
tendency, of "Hay's russet" and "chestnut brown," with a few underlying
spots of "brownish drab." Another set has a "cartridge buff" ground
color, which is unevenly covered, chiefly at the larger end, with small
spots of duller browns, "bister," "Saccardo's umber," and light shades
of "brownish drab." This seems to be the commonest type. An unusually
beautiful set has a "pinkish buff" ground color, sparingly sprinkled
with minute brown dots and boldly blotched with great, irregular
splashes of deep, rich browns, "chestnut," "chocolate," and "liver
brown," overlying large splashes of various shades of "vinaceous gray."
The measurements of 54 eggs average 33.1 by 23.8 millimeters; the eggs
showing the four extremes measure =33.5= by 24.4, 34.3 by =24.6= and
=30= by =22= millimeters.

_Young._--Incubation is shared by both sexes, but we have no data as to
its duration. Mr. Dixon (1917) found the male bird covering the eggs
more often than the female, and others have reported finding the male
caring for the young. Mr. Dixon (1917) says of the young:

     The young sandpipers were found feeding in the shallower pools,
     where the water was less than 1 inch deep. At times as many as five
     were noted in an area 1 yard square. They congregated along the
     water's edge, picking up, as the tide slowly receded, many bits of
     food. The nature of this provender I could not make out, although
     the young birds would often come within 20 feet of me when I
     remained motionless for a few minutes. The old birds were much more
     shy, often taking flight or retreating to distant gravel bars upon
     my approach. Considerable time was spent by both young and old in
     making short flights about the harbor. These flights alternated
     with periods of food getting, and were seemingly in preparation for
     the fall migration. It was only a few days then until the bulk of
     the species left on their southward journey.

_Plumages._--The downy young Baird sandpiper is well colored to escape
detection on the brown tundra moss. The crown and upper parts are
variegated with black and "tawny" in an irregular pattern and dotted
with white terminal tufts; the crown is centrally "tawny," with a median
black stripe, and is bordered with black; the forehead, back to eyes,
sides of the head and all under parts are pure white; there is a black
spot in the center of the forehead, a black stripe from the bill,
through the eye, to the occiput and another below it and parallel to
it; there is a white superciliary stripe and some white mottling on the
back of the head and neck.

The juvenal plumage is equally concealing. The crown is sepia with buffy
edgings; the back and scapulars are dark sepia with broad white edgings;
the wing is like the adult except that the coverts and tertials are
edged with "pinkish buff" and tipped with white; the under parts are
like the adult but the breast is more pinkish buff and more faintly
streaked. A partial postjuvenal molt, including most of the body plumage
and some of the scapulars, wing coverts, and tertials and takes place in
October or later. I have seen birds in full juvenal plumage as late as
October 3; young birds migrate in this plumage. At the first prenuptial
molt the following spring young birds become indistinguishable from

Adults have a partial prenuptial molt in April and May, including only
part of the body plumage. The postnuptial molt begins in July, when the
body plumage is molted before the birds migrate; the wings are molted
after the birds reach their winter home, from December to February, not
long before they started to migrate north again. I have seen birds in
full nuptial plumage as early as May 1 and as late as July 29, and in
full winter plumage as late as April 5. The adult nuptial and winter
plumages are somewhat different; the colors are brighter and richer in
the spring and the markings are more distinct; in the fall the upper
parts are nearly uniformly buffy brownish with dusky shaft streaks; the
chest and sides of the breast are dull brownish buff and not distinctly

_Food._--Preble and McAtee (1923) found in the stomachs of three Baird
sandpipers, taken on the Pribilof Islands, amphipods, algae, ground
beetles, and a weevil. Mr. McAtee (1911) includes this species among
those that eat mosquito larvae, crane-fly larvae, grasshoppers, and the
clover-root curculio, all injurious insects. It feeds on the open mud
flats with other species of sandpipers, but seems to prefer to feed
about the edges of the shallow inland pools or where the muddy flats are
partially overgrown with grass. William Brewster (1925) watched some of
them feeding, of which he says:

     On first noticing me draw near they stood erect, with upstretched
     necks, regarding me intently and distrustfully, but their feeding
     operations were resumed soon after I ceased to advance. By
     successive runs, 8 or 10 feet in length and often executed very
     swiftly, they moved about quickly in various directions over soft
     mud or through shallow water, frequently stooping to pick up small
     morsels of food, but not once using their bills for probing under
     ground or water.

_Voice._--Dr. Charles W. Townsend (1905) says that the note, which he
heard several times, seemed to him "exactly like that of the
semipalmated sandpiper, a rather shrill, trilling whistle." Mr. Brewster
(1925) says that--

     the _kreep_ call they utter in flight is sufficiently unlike that
     of any other wader of similar size and general coloring to be of
     service as a means of field identification when the birds are seen
     on wing. It is appreciably different from the call of any other
     sandpiper known to me, although not so very unlike that of the

_Field marks._--The Baird sandpiper is one of the most difficult of all
this group to recognize in the field, because it has no prominent
distinguishing field marks peculiar to itself. It has characters in
common with any one of several small sandpipers. In color and general
appearance it is most like the least sandpiper; it is decidedly larger,
but size is of little value unless the two are side by side for
comparison; it is lighter colored above, more extensively buffy on the
breast, and has darker legs. It is a size larger than the semipalmated
and western sandpipers, more buffy on the breast than either, and has a
shorter bill in proportion to its size than the latter. It is about the
size of the white-rumped sandpiper, but is less distinctly streaked on
the crown and back; the buff breast of the Baird will distinguish it
when standing or even in flight; and the white rump of _fuscicollis_ is
a sure flight mark when visible. From the red-backed sandpiper, about
the same size, it can be distinguished by its shorter and straighter
bill and by marked color differences. It might be mistaken for a female
pectoral, but the latter is more conspicuously striped above, more like
a snipe in this respect, the crown is darker, more contrasted, and the
breast is darker, more abruptly separated from the white belly, and more
sharply streaked with dusky; when flying the pectoral shows more white
in the wings. The Baird is but slightly smaller than the buff-breasted
sandpiper and very much like it; but Prof. William Rowan (MSS.) has
pointed out some differences. The patterns of the backs are very
similar, but the buff breasted has a much paler crown and lacks the
white throat and eye stripe, as well as the clear-cut white sides and
black center of the rump of the Baird. The buff breasted has yellow legs
and the Baird has black. The Baird shows no white in the wings in
flight. Young Bairds in juvenal plumage are easily recognized by the
scaled appearance of the mantle produced by dark feathers with broad
white edges.

_Fall._--Baird sandpipers leave their northern breeding grounds rather
early. Mr. Murdoch (1885) reported the last one seen at Point Barrow on
August 12, and Mr. Dixon (1917) saw none after August 15 in northern
Alaska. E. A. Preble (1908) saw several flocks on migration at Great
Slave Lake as early as July 10.

The main flight seems to be directly south through the Mackenzie Valley
and between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River to Mexico and
South America, where it probably migrates down the west coast to its
winter home. But the route is also extended both east and west in the
fall. Some birds fly southeastward, through the Great Lakes, to the
coast of New England, whence they apparently migrate over the ocean to
South America. Others migrate southward through the extreme western

Mr. Brewster (1925) says that they "visit Lake Umbagog (Maine) early in
September, appearing oftenest during the first week in the month." My
Massachusetts dates run from August 7 to September 15. E. W. Hadeler
records it in his Ohio notes from September 2 to October 11; and Edward
S. Thomas has seen it there as early as August 12. It is an abundant
migrant in Manitoba; we collected adults there on July 29; and C. G.
Harrold tells me that birds passing through in August and September are
practically all juveniles. Professor Rowan refers to it as probably the
most plentiful wader in Alberta in the first half of September; he has
taken it there as late as November 8. J. A. Munro calls it a regular
fall migrant at Okanagan Landing, British Columbia; his earliest and
latest dates are July 16 and September 18. J. H. Bowles (1918) observed
it on the Tacoma Flats, Washington, from July 26 to September 5, and

     They were found in singles, pairs, or trios, most often associating
     with the semipalmated plover (_Aegialitis semipalmata_) when any
     were to be found. When flying with a company of the other small
     sandpipers they would separate as soon as the flock alighted to
     feed, the Baird's going to comparatively dry ground for their food
     while the others waded about in the water and at the water's edge.
     They could not have been called common, but from one to three or
     four were to be found on almost any day.

John T. Nichols has observed Baird sandpipers on the Pacific Ocean and
writes to me as follows:

     August 6, 1926, 52° 19' N., 137° 42' W., three to six birds of this
     species came about a ship bound southeast for Seattle, flying with
     and parallel to her course. One, apparently misjudging her speed,
     was killed by striking the rigging forward. Perhaps the Baird
     sandpiper is comparatively scarce on the Pacific coast due to an
     offshore migration route.

_Winter._--According to Prof. Wells W. Cooke (1912) this sandpiper
reaches its winter home in September. Chile seems to be its principal
winter home, where it has been taken repeatedly in the high mountains at
10,000 to 12,000 feet and once at over 13,000.


_Range._--Northeastern Asia and North and South America; accidental in

_Breeding range._--North to the northeastern coast of Siberia (probably
Koliutschin Island and Cape Serdze Kamen); northern Alaska (Wainwright,
Point Barrow, Camden Bay, Barter Island, and Demarcation Point); Yukon
(Herschel Island); Mackenzie (Franklin Bay, Baillie Island, and
Cambridge Bay); and southern Baffin Island. East to Baffin Island and
probably Greenland (Etah). South to Mackenzie (Cambridge Bay, Bernard
Harbor, Fort Anderson, and Peel River); and Alaska (Cape Prince of Wales
and Point Dall). West to Alaska (Cape Prince of Wales and Point Dall);
and northeastern Siberia (probably Koliutschin Island).

_Winter range._--North to Chile (Tarapaca); and Argentina (Tucuman,
Cordoba, and Buenos Aires). East to Argentina (Buenos Aires). South to
Argentina (Buenos Aires); and Chile (Talcahuano). West to Chile
(Talcahuano, Huasco, and Tarapaca).

_Spring migration._--In spring the Baird sandpiper is practically
unknown on the Atlantic coast, the route being up the Mississippi
Valley, the plains States, and (to a lesser degree) the Pacific coast.
Early dates of arrival are: Missouri, Monteer, March 20, and near
Boonville, April 16; Ohio, Painesville, April 25, Oberlin, April 28, and
Cleveland, May 8; Michigan, Vicksburg, April 15; Iowa, Sioux City, April
9, Mason City, April 19, and Marshalltown, April 25; Minnesota, Waseca,
May 10, and Hutchinson, May 18; Texas, Boerne, March 16, and Electra,
April 9; Kansas, Emporia, March 27; Nebraska, Gibbon, March 19, Lincoln,
March 23, and Callaway, April 7; South Dakota, Forestburg, April 6, and
Brown County, April 18; North Dakota, Jamestown, May 1, and Charlson,
May 4; Saskatchewan, Indian Head, May 9, and Orestwynd, May 10;
Mackenzie, Fort Resolution, May 19, Fort Simpson, May 20, and Fort
Providence, May 26; Arizona, Fort Verde, May 5; Colorado, Loveland,
March 29; Wyoming, Cheyenne, April 8, and Laramie, April 23; Montana,
Knowlton, May 12, and Bitterroot Valley, May 18; Alberta, Flagstaff,
April 16, Alliance, April 24, and Fort Chipewyan, May 24; California,
Santa Barbara, April 27; Washington, Dayton, April 11; British Columbia,
Chilliwack, April 29, and Okanagan Landing, April 30; and Alaska,
Admiralty Island, May 12, Kowak River, May 20, Demarcation Point, May
23, Nulato, May 27, Cape Prince of Wales, May 28, and Point Barrow, May

Late dates of spring departure are: Mexico, city of Mexico, May 19;
Guerrero, Iguala, June 1; Ohio, Youngstown, June 2; Michigan, Detroit,
May 24; Iowa, Sioux City, June 6; Texas, San Angelo, May 15, and Ingram,
May 26; Kansas, Wichita, May 20; Nebraska, Neligh, May 26, and
Valentine, May 30; South Dakota, Vermilion, May 24, and Sioux Falls,
June 11; North Dakota, Charlson, May 22, and Jamestown, June 4;
Saskatchewan, Indian Head, June 2, and Quill Lake, June 16; Wyoming,
Yellowstone Park, June 3; Alberta, Fort Chipewyan, June 1; and British
Columbia, Okanagan Landing, May 10, Vaseaux Lake, May 18, and Sumas, May

_Fall migration._--Early dates of fall arrival are: British Columbia,
Okanagan Landing, July 7; Washington, Wrights Peak, July 21, Blaine,
August 4, and Tacoma, August 6; California, Santa Barbara, July 25;
Lower California, San Jose del Cabo, September 3; Alberta, Strathmore,
July 31; Wyoming, Toltec, July 27; Colorado, Denver, July 21, Boulder
County, July 27, and El Paso County, July 29; Saskatchewan, Maple Creek,
July 17; Manitoba, Oak Lake, July 12, and Red Deer River, July 23; South
Dakota, Forestburg, July 25; Nebraska, Callaway, August 4, and Lincoln,
August 9; Texas, San Angelo, July 20; Ontario, Toronto, July 28;
Michigan, Charity Island, July 9; Ohio, Bay Point, July 3; Illinois,
Chicago, July 2; Massachusetts, Monomoy Island, July 14; New York,
Montauk, August 14, Locust Grove, August 18, Onondaga Lake, August 27;
Pennsylvania, Beaver, August 21, Erie, August 22; Mexico, Zacatecas,
August 16, Colonia Garcia, September 4, and Janos River, September 5;
and Patagonia, Arroyo Seco, Rio Negro, September 6, and Huanuluan,
September 12.

Late dates of fall departures are: Alaska, Point Barrow, September 4;
British Columbia, Comox, September 15, and Okanagan Landing, October 18;
Washington, Tacoma, September 27; Oregon, Netarts Bay, September 12;
California, Monterey, October 24; Colorado, Boulder County, September
25, and Barr, October 5; Saskatchewan, Indian Head, September 21;
Manitoba, Oak Lake, September 5, and Shoal Lake, September 14; North
Dakota, Charlson, September 21; Nebraska, Valentine, October 10, and
Lincoln, November 3; Kansas, Lawrence, October 26; Texas, Tom Green and
Concho Counties, October 20; Iowa, Burlington, October 2, and Keokuk,
October 14; Ontario, St. Thomas, October 3, Toronto, October 10, and
Plover Mills, October 20; Ohio, Painesville, October 11, and New Bremen,
October 28; Illinois, Chicago, October 2; Missouri, Independence,
October 13; Maine, Warren Island, September 20, and Bangor, November 1;
Massachusetts, Cambridge, October 30; Connecticut, West Haven, October
28, and Stratford, November 3; New York, Shinnecock Bay, October 31, and
Canandaigua, November 20; and Pennsylvania, Erie, October 6.

_Casual records._--The Baird sandpiper has several times been taken or
observed in various parts of Mexico so that it seems reasonable to
believe that at least a part of the birds migrate over that country. In
other Central American countries and in the West Indies it is rare.
Among the records are: Costa Rica (Cerro de la Candelaria, October 1900,
Volcano Irazu, June 8, 1894, La Estrella de Cartago, November 5, 1907,
and San Jose, September 18); and Cuba (Cocos Island). It also has been
detected on the Galapagos Islands (Barrington Island, October 6, 1897);
Lesser Antilles (Dominica, October 1, 1904); Virginia (Four-mile Run,
September 3 and 25, 1894); New Jersey (Stone Harbor, September 5, 1898);
Quebec (Montreal, September 17, 1892); New Brunswick (St. Andrews,
September 10, 1901); and England (Rye Harbor, Sussex, November 11,

_Egg dates._--Alaska: 27 records, June 9 to August 24; 14 records, June
19 to July 2. Arctic Canada: 20 records, June 10 to July 21; 10 records,
June 19 to 26.




_Contributed by Charles Wendell Townsend_

This least of all our sandpipers is so little smaller than the
semipalmated sandpiper and differs so slightly from it in other ways
that the two are generally confused in life. Their small size, and their
notes have given them the familiar name of "peep," but near New York
they are also called "oxeye." Who has not been gladdened by the sight of
flocks of these gentle little birds scampering along the beach or
diligently feeding in the tidal flats and in the salt marshes!

_Spring._--The duration of the spring migration is much more brief than
that of the autumnal one. The birds are hastening to their breeding
grounds and the least sandpiper is only a month in passing through. In
New England this is from about May 5 to June 7. At this time the birds
are more apt to be found on the beaches than in the fall, although they
are found in greatest abundance in the marshes.

_Courtship._--The most noticeable part of the courtship of the least
sandpiper is the song. I have observed it on the breeding grounds in
Nova Scotia and in Labrador, as well as during the spring migration in
New England. The bird springs up into the air on quivering, down-curved
wings and circles about, now lower, now higher, reaching at times a
height of 50 or more yards. In the air it emits a short sweet trill
which is rapidly repeated, and with each song burst the wings are
rapidly vibrated. On one occasion in Labrador the bird remained in the
air circling and repeatedly trilling for five minutes by the watch, and
continued to trill after it had reached the ground. Immediately it was
up again, trilling, and, as I left the bog, it followed me, still

This courtship song has been described at great length and with much
appreciation by Robert T. Moore (1912) from intimate studies made by him
on five nesting birds in the Magdalen Islands, and he has recorded these
songs in musical notation. He ranks it high among bird songs and dwells
on its tremulous and pathetic qualities. He observed one that rendered
its entire song from the ground within a foot of his hand. "It
consisted of a series of trills, which ascended just one octave on a
minor chord. The tone quality was pure and sweet and rendered pathetic
by the minor chord, which served as its medium." He says of the records
he made of the flight songs of three birds that--

     Each in its notes, progressions, and even time is totally different
     from the others, yet, without sight of the bird, I would instantly
     recognize them as songs of the least sandpiper. This is due to the
     fact that the quality of tone is constant in all, being pure and
     sweet, the tempo is aways extremely fast, the notes being delivered
     with great rapidity, and the pitch high. Trills and runs are
     characteristic and make an additional recognition quality.

All these observations were made on birds that were both incubating and
singing. On one occasion only did he see two birds together.

     This flight song piped overhead and was sung over and over again
     with a tremulous zest. Alternating with it, was repeated for long
     intervals an excited call of two notes. We glanced up and for the
     first time beheld two adult least sandpipers together. Alternately
     they flapped and soared and circled about in rapturous fashion. For
     several minutes the alternation of song and call continued without
     break of any kind. Sometimes the song was given three times
     consecutively and followed by as many as 30 or 40 repetitions of
     the call, this in turn to be followed by the song again.

W.E. Saunders (1902) has recorded the courtship as observed by him at
Sable Island. He was there between May 16 and 23, too early for nesting.
He says: "I found them invariably in pairs, evidently mated, and often
sitting so close together that two could be obtained at a single shot if
desired." To his ear the song notes resembled somewhat those of the
spotted sandpiper. He says of the courtship flight:

     Sometimes both birds would be in the air at once, but whether the
     female gave the note as well as the male, I could not definitely
     ascertain without shooting the birds, which I was very loath to do.
     The note would be given continuously for perhaps three or four
     minutes, during which time the bird flies slowly with steady
     flapping of the wings, mounting in the air gradually until, when
     watching them in the evening, one loses sight of them in the gloom.

_Nesting._--The least sandpiper makes its nest either in wet grassy or
sphagnum bogs close to a pond or tidal water; or on dry uplands, often
among low bushes. In either case the nest is a simple affair. P.B.
Philipp (1925) describes its method of construction as observed by him
in the Magdalen Islands:

     The bird picks out a spot in the wet moss of a bog or in the dry
     leaves of a ridge, and scratches a shallow hollow in which it sits,
     and, by rapidly turning, molds a depression of the required depth.
     Which of the pair does this I have never determined, but the other
     bird is usually present, standing close to the nest-builder and
     offering encouragement by a low, rapid twittering.

The nest depression in the moss is generally lined with dry leaves,
although these may be very few in number, and a little dried grass. The
internal dimensions of the nest as given by Audubon (1840) are:
Diameter, 2-1/2 inches; depth, 1-1/4 inches.

J. R. Whitaker writes, in his notes on these birds at Grand Lake,
Newfoundland, that the nest is nearly always amongst a labyrinth of
pools of water, and is usually on the side or the top of a hummock of
sphagnum moss, but I have found them on flat ground amongst reindeer
moss. When on a moss hummock, the scratch is about 2 inches deep and
there is always an inch or so of material in the bottom usually composed
of cranberry leaves and short bits of cotton grass stems.

_Eggs._--[_Author's note_: Four eggs is the rule with the least
sandpiper. They vary in shape from ovate pyriform (the usual shape) to
subpyriform, and they have only a slight gloss. The ground colors vary
from "deep olive buff" to "pale olive buff," or from "pale pinkish buff"
to "cartridge buff." There are two extreme types of markings, the boldly
blotched and the finely sprinkled type, with many intergradations
between them. Some eggs are more or less evenly covered, usually more
thickly about the larger end, with a mixture of dots, small spots, and
small, irregular blotches. In some the blotches are larger, more
elongated, often spirally arranged and often confluent at the larger
end. In still others the whole egg is evenly covered with very fine dots
and small markings. There are two sets from Labrador of the latter type
in my collection; one has a pinkish ground color, covered uniformly with
a fine sprinkling of reddish brown markings, exactly like certain eggs
of the western sandpiper; the other set is similarly marked, but the
ground color is "olive buff" and the markings are in darker browns. At
the other end of the range of variation I have a particularly handsome
egg, which has an "olive buff" ground color, with a few large splashes
of "vinaceous drab," overlaid, chiefly around the larger end, with a few
great splashes of "liver brown," "chestnut brown," and "bone brown." The
ordinary markings are in various shades of dark, rich browns, "bay,"
"liver brown," "chestnut," and "hazel," deepening to blackish brown
where the pigment is thickest. The underlying spots are in pale shades
of "vinaceous drab." The measurements of 65 eggs in the United States
National Museum average 29 by 21 millimeters; the eggs showing the four
extremes measure =31= by 21, 30 by =22=, 26.5 by =20=, and 28 by =19=

_Young._--Incubation is believed to be performed largely by the male.
Mr. Philipp (1925):

     Collected four birds from the nests and all proved to be males on
     dissection. Also a bird which was accidentally stepped on while it
     was shielding four young or "downies" was a male. In fact, after
     the eggs are laid both birds are seldom seen around the nest. The
     incubating bird is most solicitous about its nest. It sits very
     closely and, when flushed, half runs, half flutters for a few feet
     as if trying to lead the intruder away. If you are not deceived by
     these actions but remain quiet, the bird soon returns and walks
     daintily about, uttering a quickly repeated _peep, peep, peep_,
     often with such vehemence that the saliva fairly runs from its

Mr. Moore (1912), however, shot a bird which he thought was both
incubating and singing, and it proved to be a female.

Sometimes both parents show solicitude for the young as in the following
case in the Yukon region, reported by Dr. Louis B. Bishop (1900):

     I came upon a female surrounded by four downy young. Both parents
     tried time and again the well known wounded-bird tactics to lure me
     from the spot where the young were hidden in the bunches of grass,
     and finding this a failure, would circle around me only a few yards
     off, uttering a plaintive twitter.

_Plumages._--[_Author's note_: The tiny chick of the least sandpiper is
prettily colored as are the young of all the tundra nesting species. The
upper parts, crown, back, wings, and thighs, are quite uniformly
variegated with rich browns, "bay," "chestnut" and "Sanford's brown,"
through which the black basal down shows in places; this is spotted
irregularly, from crown to rump, with small round spots, terminal tufts,
of yellowish buff. The forehead and sides of the head and neck are pale
buff, with narrow, black frontal, loral and malar stripes. The under
parts are pure white.

Young birds are in juvenal plumage when they arrive here in August and
generally do not show much signs of molting before they leave here in
September. This plumage is darker and more richly colored above than in
the spring adult; the feathers of the crown, back, scapulars and all
wing coverts are broadly edged with rich, bright browns, "hazel" or
"cinnamon rufous," broadest and brightest on the back and scapulars;
some scapulars are tipped with white; the throat is often faintly, but
sometimes not at all, streaked with dusky. A partial postjuvenal molt in
the fall, involving the body plumage and some of the scapulars and
tertials, produces a first winter plumage which can be distinguished
from the adult by the retained juvenal wing coverts, scapulars, and
tertials. At the first prenuptial molt the next spring young birds
become indistinguishable from adults, except for some of the old juvenal
wing coverts.

The complete postnuptial molt of adults begins in August and is mainly
accomplished after the birds have migrated. At a partial prenuptial
molt, mainly in April and May, the adult renews the body plumage and
tail and some of the tertials and wing coverts. Adults in spring are
more brightly colored, with more rufous and buffy edgings, and the
breast is more distinctly streaked than in fall.]

_Food._--These birds appear to be feeding on small crustaceans and worms
on the beaches and on insects and their larvae in the marshes. It is to
be hoped that with the increase of the birds the pest of green-head
flies and of mosquitoes in the salt marshes may diminish. E. A. Preble
(1923) examined two stomachs from birds shot in the Pribilof Islands and
found that one of them contained amphipods exclusively, the other the
following items: "23 seeds of bottle brush (_Hippuris vulgaris_), 50 per
cent; bits of hydroid stems, 40 per cent; and chitin from the blue
mussel (_Mytilus edulis_), 10 per cent." A. H. Howell (1924) reports as
follows: "Of the 19 stomachs of this bird collected in Alabama,
practically all contained larvae or pupae of small flies (Chironomidae)
in a few bits of aquatic beetles were found." Dr. Alexander Wetmore
(1916) found in the stomach of a bird taken in Porto Rico "the heads of
more than 100 minute fly larvae (75 per cent) and fragments of small
beetles (_Hetercerus_ sp.) (25 per cent)."

_Behavior._--The least sandpiper has always been a confiding and an
unsuspicious bird, and these characteristics have increased since it has
been protected at all seasons. So diligent are they in their search for
food that they appear to take no notice of man if he remain quiet, and
they run about almost at his feet. They are fascinating birds to watch.
Not only are they gregarious, collecting in large and small flocks on
the migrations, but they are also of a sociable disposition and
associate amicably with other shore birds, large and small. They run
around among yellow legs like pigmies among giants. A mixed company of
several kinds of sandpipers and of plovers feeding together is a common
sight. In flight the different species, although in company, generally,
but not always, keep by themselves.

In the marshes--which are their preferred feeding grounds, although, as
stated above, they are sometimes found on the beaches, especially in the
spring--they scatter widely, and one may flush one bird after another,
previously unseen in the grass. They soon unite in a flock, however, and
after circling about and turning now this way, now that, with great
nicety of evolution, drop down again suddenly, often near the spot from
which they sprang. A single bird flushed generally darts off in
irregular zigzags, very much after the manner of a Wilson snipe, calling
as it goes.

In feeding in marshes they frequent the short grass and also the open
sloughs or mud holes. Here they snap up insects or probe diligently for
larvae in the mud and shallow water. They are fond of the mud and sand
flats in the tidal estuaries at low water where they appear to find
plenty of food, and they run about on the eel grass. In all these places
they spread out in an irregular fashion when feeding. Such gluttons are
they that they are generally loaded with fat on the southward migration
and they are often very fat in the spring. Notwithstanding this, their
wind seems to be excellent and their flight as swift. They are fond of
bathing like most birds, and of this Mr. Nichols writes in his notes as

     It squats in shallow water, ducking the head under, throwing the
     water back and fluttering the wings, and at the end of the bath
     jumps an inch or two into the air with a flutter, apparently to
     shake the water out of its feathers. Afterwards it usually stands
     quietly and gives its plumage a thorough preening.

_Voice._--The nuptial song has been described under courtship, but the
bird has also a variety of call notes from a simple _weep_ or _peep_,
from which, doubtless, it gets its common name, to a succession of notes
more or less complicated. John T. Nichols (1920) has written at length
on the voices of shore birds, and has kindly furnished the following for
this article:

     The identification flight-call is a loud diagnostic _kreep_,
     distinguished by the [=e][=e] sound from any note of the
     semipalmated sandpiper.... In flushing, a least sandpiper sometimes
     utters a string of short unloud notes with or without the [=e][=e]
     sound, _quee-quee-quee-que_ or _queque_ to be followed almost
     immediately by some variation of the flight call, as it gets more
     fully under way. The flight note varies down to a _che_ and _cher_,
     not readily, if at all, distinguishable from similar calls of the
     semipalmated sandpiper.... When a flock are up and wheeling about a
     feeding spot to alight there again almost at once, they have
     sometimes a confiding little note _chu chu chu chu_, etc. It has
     also a whinny, a little less clearly enunciated than that of the
     semipalmated but almost identical with the same.

_Field marks._--The small size of the least sandpiper distinguishes it
readily from all the other sandpipers in this country except the
semipalmated, with two exceptions to be noted later. As the least is
more frequently found on tidal flats in the estuaries and in salt
marshes, it is sometimes called the "mud peep," while the semipalmated,
which especially delights in the sand beaches is called the "sand peep."
Unfortunately this rule, although of general value, is far from
absolute, and the birds often exchange places. The least sandpiper is
more often found on the beach in the spring than in the fall. The
semipalmation is, of course, a diagnostic mark in the hand, but only
under exceptional circumstances can it be seen in the field. The color
of the tarsus, however, is distinctive and can be made out in favorable
light at a considerable distance. I have always thought it absolutely
distinctive, but the published descriptions and plates of these two
birds are often inaccurate. I have, therefore, compared the legs of both
these species, freshly collected, with Ridgway's (1912) "Color Standards
and Color Nomenclature." In the semipalmated sandpiper the tarsi of the
adults are black and this is also the case in the juvenals except that
there is a slight greenish tinge to be seen on close inspection. In the
adult least sandpiper the tarsi are distinctly yellow with a faint
greenish cast. They correspond best to the _sulphine yellow_ of Ridgway,
while the toes, which shade off a little darker, are _citrine_. In the
juvenal, there is more of a greenish tinge, and I have put the tarsi
down as _oil yellow_, the toes shading into _yellowish oil green_. In
deciding on these colors I have had the advice of an artist. The richer
brown plumage of the back and the darker streakings and wash of the
breast help to distinguish the least from the lighter and grayer
semipalmated bird, but in the fall these distinctions are less marked in
the adult. Even at this season, however, a least sandpiper on the beach
in a flock of semipalmated stands out by its browner colors, and, in the
marsh, a semipalmated in a flock of least looks very gray. The least
sandpiper is a little smaller than the other bird, but this character as
well as the color of the plumage are of slight value without the
presence of both birds for comparison.

Another point, which at times can be satisfactorily made out in the
field, is that the bill of the least sandpiper is slightly decurved,
while that of the semipalmated is straight and stouter. It has been
noted by Coues (1861) and by others independently, that the least
sandpiper is a perfect miniature of the pectoral sandpiper even to the
color of its legs. The great difference in size, however, prevents any

Two other sandpipers, referred to above, may, however, be mistaken for
least or semipalmated sandpipers, although they are somewhat larger.
Gunners at Ipswich used to call them "bull peep." I refer to the
white-rumped and the Baird sandpipers. The white rump of the former is
diagnostic and is easily seen in flight, but is generally covered by the
wings when the birds are running on the sand. The plumage of both Baird
and white-rumped sandpipers is dark in front of the bend of the wing,
while in the semipalmated and juvenal least it is light. This is a fine
point that I have found of great value.

_Fall._--The last migrant for the north has scarcely gone before wisps
of returning sandpipers appear. The regular northward migration in
Massachusetts ceases about June 7, although an occasional nonbreeding
bird may remain, and the migrants begin to return about July 4. A
surprisingly large number of early fall migrants appeared at Ipswich on
July 3, 1911. A flock of at least 50 whirled about and alighted near me
on the marsh. One must suppose that the early migrants in the spring are
the early ones to return in the fall. They are generally all gone from
the New England coast by the end of the first week in September,
although stragglers may be found in October. They migrate both by day
and by night.

Carl Lien writes in his notes from Destruction Island, Washington, that
the least sandpiper--

     Constitutes, with the western sandpiper, the great body of
     migratory birds, and if the nights are a little misty the numbers
     that circle around the light at night resemble a snow storm, and
     they continue until daybreak when they apparently get their
     bearings, and continue their journey. The spring movement begins
     about the middle of April or a little later, and lasts until about
     the 10th of May, beginning again the first week in July and lasting
     until the middle of September.

_Game._--Fortunately this bird has been removed from the list of game by
the Federal law, and we may be sure it will never be replaced. In the
absence of larger birds--too frequently the case--the gunner used to
shoot these tiny birds in large numbers, and it must be admitted they
were delicious eating. At his blind near a slough or mud hole in the
salt marshes he would arrange his flock of tin or wooden decoys,
generally made to represent yellow-legs, within easy reach of his gun,
and he would call down with his tin whistle any passing flock. A
projecting spit of mud extending out into the little pool afforded a
convenient alighting place for the "peep," and their death trap, for
here they could conveniently be raked by gun fire from the blind. The
terrified and bewildered survivors spring into the air, and circling
about over their dead and dying companions afford several more effective
shots, which shower the victims down into the mud and water. Only a
remnant of the flock escapes, to fall victims, perhaps, to their easy
credulity at a neighboring blind. Sometimes the gunner in his greed
would wait for the birds to bunch together closely on the spit, but
before this took place to his satisfaction the alarm calls of a tattler
or yellow-legs might ring out over the marsh and every bird would spring
into the air and be off, much to his chagrin. Fortunately this
destruction has not been carried too far. The law has stepped in before
it is too late, as alas! may be the case with some of the larger shore
birds. The increase of this species since the Federal law went into
effect in 1913 is very striking. Mr. Philipp (1925) says there is "a
large increase in this dainty shore bird. In 1907 an exhaustive search
for breeding birds in the Magdalens resulted in finding 11 pairs. In
1923 in the same territory over 50 pairs were located with eggs or


_Range._--North and South America; casual in Europe and Asia.

_Breeding Range._--The least sandpiper breeds north to Alaska (Cape
Blossom and the Kowak River); probably Yukon (Herschel Island);
Mackenzie (Peel River, Fort Anderson, Rendezvous Lake, and Franklin
Bay); southern Franklin (Cambridge Bay); Keewatin (Cape Fullerton);
Labrador (Ramah); and Newfoundland (Quarry and Gaff Topsail). East to
Labrador (Ramah, Okak, and Nain); Newfoundland (Quarry); and Nova Scotia
(Sable Island). South to Nova Scotia (Sable Island); Quebec (Magdalen
Islands); Keewatin (probably Fort Churchill); probably Saskatchewan
(Isle de la Crosse); southern Mackenzie (probably Fort Simpson);
southern Yukon (Teslin River and Lake Marsh); and southern Alaska
(probably Gustavus Bay, and probably Kodiak). West to Alaska (probably
Kodiak, Nushagak, Lake Aleknagik, and Cape Blossom).

_Winter Range._--North to California (San Francisco Bay, Owens Lake, and
Salton Sea); rarely Arizona (Mellen); Texas (Lomita and Decatur); rarely
Louisiana (Vermilion Bay); Alabama (Dauphin Island); and rarely North
Carolina (Pea Island). East to rarely North Carolina (Pea Island); South
Carolina (near Charleston); Georgia (Savannah, Darien, and St. Marys);
the Bahama Islands (Abaco, New Providence, San Salvador, Acklin, and
Great Inagua Islands); probably the Lesser Antilles (St. Christopher);
French Guiana (Cayenne); and Brazil (Para, Pernambuco, and Bahia). South
to Brazil (Bahia and Cuyaba); and Peru (Chorillos and Tumbez). West to
Peru (Tumbez); Ecuador (Santa Elena); the Galapagos Islands
(Indefatigable Island); Costa Rica (La Estrella de Cartago and
Puntarenas); Honduras (Chamelicon); Guatemala (Lake Atitlan and
Chiapam); Jalisco (Zapotlan, La Barca, and Guadalajara); Sinaloa
(Mazatlan); Lower California (San Jose del Cabo and Carmen Island); and
California (Santa Barbara and San Francisco Bay).

_Spring migration._--Early dates of arrival are: Virginia, Back Bay,
April 18; District of Columbia, Washington, April 19; Maryland,
Cambridge, May 1; Pennsylvania, Mercer County, April 18, Butler, April
27, Cataract, May 2, Erie, May 8, and Pittsburgh, May 9; New Jersey,
Cape May, April 4, Caldwell, April 7, Princeton, April 30, and Camden,
May 4; New York, Orient, April 21, New York City, April 25, Auburn,
April 29, Canandaigua, May 4, and Rochester, May 9; Connecticut,
Saybrook, May 3, and New Haven, May 8; Massachusetts, Woods Hole, April
23, Ipswich, April 24, Rehoboth, April 29, and Monomoy Island, May 6;
Vermont, St. Johnsbury, May 6; Maine, Saco, May 5; Quebec, Quebec City,
April 28, and Godbout, May 12; Nova Scotia, Halifax, April 20; Kentucky,
Bowling Green, April 23, and Lexington, May 7; Missouri, Courtenay,
April 1, Corning, April 5, and Independence, April 15; Illinois, De
Kalb, April 6, Rantoul, April 9, and Milford, April 13; Indiana,
Jeffersonville, April 5, Richmond, April 21, and Fort Wayne, April 22;
Ohio, New Bremen, April 19, Painesville, April 30, and Oberlin, May 5;
Michigan, Vicksburg, April 30, Battle Creek, May 3, and Detroit, May 4;
Ontario, Listowel, May 3, Toronto, May 4, Hamilton, May 8, and Ottawa,
May 10; Iowa, Marshalltown, April 25, Emmetsburg, April 27, and Forest
City, April 30; Wisconsin, Beloit, April 18, Whitewater, April 28, and
Madison, May 7; Minnesota, Lake Wilson, April 18, Heron Lake, April 24,
and Waseca, April 30; Kansas, McPherson, April 9, Lawrence, April 24,
and Wichita, April 28; Nebraska, Lincoln, March 21, Valentine, April 6,
and Alda, April 10; South Dakota, Huron, April 8, Vermilion, April 20,
and Pitrodie, April 22; North Dakota, Stump Lake, April 28, Jamestown,
May 1, and Grafton, May 3; Manitoba, Gimli, May 6, and Shoal Lake, May
15; Saskatchewan, Orestwynd, May 7, Indian Head, May 12, and Dinsmore,
May 14; Mackenzie, Fort Providence, May 15, Fort Simpson, May 17, and
Fort Resolution, May 19; Colorado, Durango, April 12, Loveland, April
19, and Barr, April 26; Utah, Bear River Marshes, May 10; Wyoming,
Cheyenne, April 23, and Laramie, April 23; Montana, Great Falls, April
16; Alberta, Carvel, May 6, and Flagstaff, May 9; Oregon, Narrows, April
16, Newport, April 21, and Klamath Lake, April 30; Washington, Tacoma,
April 28, and Grays Harbor, April 30; British Columbia, Comox, April 20,
Chilliwack, April 21, and Courtenay, April 22; and Alaska, Craig, May 2,
Juneau, May 4, Bethel, May 6, and Kowak River, May 15.

Late dates of spring departure are: Porto Rico, Laguna de Guanica, May
26; Cuba, Mariel, May 10, and Santiago de las Vegas, May 14; the Bahama
Islands, April 25; Florida, Punta Rassa, May 13, and St. Marks, May 28;
Alabama, Bayou Labatre, May 16; Georgia, Savannah, May 17; South
Carolina, Lady Island, May 12, and Aiken, May 14; North Carolina, Lake
Ellis, May 18, and Raleigh, May 22; Pennsylvania, Erie, May 24, and
Beaver, May 28; New Jersey, Bernardsville, May 20, Bloomfield, May 23,
and Elizabeth, May 30; New York, Pine Plains, May 30, Rochester, May 31,
and Orient, June 4; Connecticut, Norwalk, May 30, and New Haven, June 5;
Massachusetts, Dennis, June 2, Harvard, June 9, and Pittsfield, June 16;
Vermont, St. Johnsbury, June 6; New Hampshire, Manchester, June 3;
Maine, Fryeburg, May 30, and Lewiston, June 6; Kentucky, Lexington, May
23; Chicago, May 23, and Port Byron, June 15; Indiana, Greencastle, May
26, and Lake County, June 1; Ohio, Columbus, May 21, Oberlin, May 23,
and Youngstown, June 11; Michigan, Detroit, May 23, Sault Ste. Marie,
May 26, and Manchester, May 29; Ontario, Listowel, May 23, Point Pelee,
May 30, London, June 1, and Brighton, June 10; Iowa, Sioux City, May 30,
Forest City, May 31, and Keokuk, June 2; Wisconsin, Berlin, May 24,
Tomahawk, May 27, and Green Bay, June 4; Minnesota, Elk River, May 23,
and Walker, June 6; Texas, Seadrift, May 8, Ingram, May 10, and San
Angelo, May 16; Kansas, Emporia, May 15, Wichita, May 18, and Lawrence,
May 21; Nebraska, Peru, May 15, Neligh, May 16, and Badger, May 18;
South Dakota, Forestburg, May 21, Huron, May 23, and Yankton, May 25;
North Dakota, Cando, May 24, and Charlson, June 1; Manitoba, Margaret,
June 4, Reaburn, June 15, and Shoal Lake, June 20; Saskatchewan, Indian
Head, May 23, and Osler, June 19; Colorado, Fort Lyon, May 29, and Barr,
June 19; Wyoming, Cheyenne, May 27; Montana, Terry, May 21, and Great
Falls, June 3; Alberta, Flagstaff, June 1; Tepic, Las Penas Islands, May
5; Lower California, Rivera, April 21, and Gardners Lagoon, April 23;
California, Santa Barbara, May 10, Alameda, May 13, and Los Angeles, May
19; Oregon, Newport, May 20; Washington, Chelan, May 21, and Seattle,
May 31; and British Columbia, Okanagan Landing, May 19.

_Fall migration._--Early dates of fall arrival are: British Columbia,
Atlin, June 29, Chilliwack, July 2, Okanagan Landing, July 3, and
Courtenay, July 7; Washington, North Dalles, July 4, and Clallam Bay,
July 17; Oregon, Silver Lake, July 1; California, Santa Barbara, July
18, and Bakersfield, July 19; Lower California, San Quentin, August 10;
Alberta, Onoway, July 1; Wyoming, Fort Bridger, July 13; Utah, Provo,
July 26; Colorado, Barr, July 5; Chihuahua, Pochaco, August 3;
Saskatchewan, Isle de la Crosse, July 18; Manitoba, Victoria Beach, July
7, and Shoal Lake, July 27; North Dakota, Pembina, July 17, and Turtle
Mountain, July 30; South Dakota, Forestburg, July 5, and Sioux Falls,
July 24; Nebraska, Lincoln, July 14; Kansas, Emporia, August 6, and
Osawatomie, August 31; Texas, Tom Green, and Concho Counties, July 20,
and Tivoli, July 30; Minnesota, North Pacific Junction, July 8,
Lanesboro, July 15, and St. Vincent, July 30; Wisconsin, Madison, July
11, North Freedom, July 14, and Madison, July 24; Iowa, Marshalltown,
July 8, and Sioux City, July 17; Ontario, Toronto, July 4; Michigan,
Detroit, July 7, and Charity Island, July 10; Ohio, Bay Point, July 3,
Painesville, July 8, and Youngstown, July 27; Illinois, Chicago, July 2,
and Peoria, July 13; Kentucky, Lexington, July 16; Maine, Portland, July
23; New Hampshire, Manchester, July 10; Vermont, St. Johnsbury, July 16,
and Rutland, July 19; Massachusetts, Cape Cod, July 1, Ponkapog, July
16, and Dennis, July 25; Connecticut, New Haven, July 14, and Niantic,
July 22; New York, Long Beach, July 3, Mastic, July 4, and Rochester,
July 21; New Jersey, Tuckerton, July 3, Camden, July 7, and North
Branch, July 8; Pennsylvania, Renovo, August 3, Beaver, August 11, Erie,
August 13, and Pittsburgh, August 15; Maryland, Chesapeake Beach, August
16; South Carolina, Bulls Point, July 30; Georgia, Savannah, July 23;
Alabama, Leighton, July 26; Florida, Palma Sola, July 9, James Island,
July 20, and Pensacola, July 26; Bahama Islands, Long Island, July 16,
Great Bahama, July 18, and Inagua, July 28; Cuba, Guantanamo, August 15,
and Batabano, August 26; Jamaica, Port Henderson, August 2; Porto Rico,
Mona Island, August 9, and Joyuda, August 28; Lesser Antilles, Barbuda,
August 14, St. Vincent, August 20, and Trinidad, August 22; and
Venezuela, Bonaire, July 23, Macuto, August 2, and La Guaira, August 10.

Late dates of fall departure are: Alaska, St. Paul Island, September 14;
British Columbia, Chilliwack, September 11, and Okanagan Landing,
September 15; Washington, Nisqually Flats, November 14; Oregon,
Portland, September 7, Netarts Bay, September 11, and Tillamook,
September 15; Montana, Corvallis, September 7; Utah, Ogden, October 8;
Colorado, Denver, October 3, and Barr, October 5; Saskatchewan, Indian
Head, September 4, and Rosetown, September 6; Manitoba, Aweme, September
26, and Margaret, October 3; North Dakota, Grafton, September 22; South
Dakota, Forestburg, September 21, and Lacreek, September 29; Nebraska,
Nebraska City, October 10, and Lincoln, November 11; Oklahoma, Copan,
October 16; Minnesota, Lanesboro, September 15; Iowa, Emmetsburg,
September 23, Keokuk, September 24, and Marshalltown, October 12;
Ontario, Kingston, September 29, Ottawa, October 12, and Point Pelee,
October 15; Michigan, Detroit, October 6; Ohio, Columbus, October 22,
Youngstown, October 29, and Cleveland, November 9; Illinois, De Kalb,
October 9; Missouri, Courtenay, November 9; Tennessee, October 23; Nova
Scotia, Pictou, October 8; Quebec, Montreal, October 20; Maine,
Lewiston, October 16; Massachusetts, Lynn, October 4, Taunton, October
7, and Woods Hole, October 30; New York, Sayville, October 6, Ithaca,
October 12, Canandaigua, October 14, and Branchport, October 28;
Maryland, Back River, November 3; and District of Columbia, Anacostia
River, November 27.

_Casual records._--The least sandpiper has on a few occasions been
detected outside of its normal range. Among these occurrences are: Chile
(no definite locality [Salvin]); Greenland (Disko Fjord, August, 1878,
Noursoak Peninsula, spring of 1867, and Frederikshaab, July, 1857);
England (Cornwall, October 1853, and September, 1890, and Devonshire,
September, 1869, and August, 1892); and northeastern Siberia
(Belkoffsky, July 23, 1880, and Plover Bay, August 13, 1880).

_Egg dates._--Magdalen Islands: 79 records, June 3 to 30; 40 records,
June 8 to 17. Labrador and Newfoundland: 13 records, June 7 to July 1; 7
records, June 15 to 25. Arctic Canada: 14 records, June 14 to July 8; 7
records, June 27 to July 1.




I prefer the above name, as adopted by Robert Ridgway (1919), to the
Check List name, _damacensis_, as it seems to have more certain
application. The status of the species and its nomenclature is fully
discussed by Dr. Leonhard Stejneger (1885).

This is one of several Asiatic species that have gained places on our
list as stragglers to Alaska. A specimen of the long-toed stint was
taken by Dr. Charles H. Townsend on Otter Island, in the Pribilofs, on
June 8, 1885, constituting the only North American record. As the
species migrates regularly through the Commander Islands to Kamchatka,
it would not be surprising if careful collecting in the western
Aleutians showed it to occur frequently in North American territory. Its
close resemblance to some other small sandpipers might easily cause it
to be overlooked. Very little seems to be known about its habits.

_Spring._--Doctor Stejneger (1885) says:

     The long-toed stint arrives at Bering Island in large flocks during
     the latter part of May, and are then met with on sandy beaches,
     where the surf has thrown up large masses of seaweed, busily
     engaged in picking up the numerous small crustaceans, etc., with
     which the weeds abound. Most of the birds stay only a few days,
     going further north, while a small number remain over summer,
     breeding sparingly on the large swamp behind the village. My
     efforts to find the nests were unsuccessful, but I shot birds near
     Zapornaja Reschka on the 17th and 22d of June, and on the 7th of

W. Sprague Brooks (1915) reports birds seen or taken at points in
Kamchatka on May 21 and 25, 1913, which probably were just arriving on
their breeding grounds.

_Eggs._--I can find no description of the nesting habits of the
long-toed stint in print and have located only one set of eggs. This is
in Col. John E. Thayer's collection and has very scanty data. It was
taken by O. Bernhaner at Lake Baikal, Siberia, on June 18, 1902; the
nest was "placed on the ground." The four eggs in this set are ovate
pyriform in shape and have hardly any gloss. The ground colors vary from
"olive buff" to "deep olive buff." They are spotted, chiefly at the
larger end, with "snuff brown," "sepia," and "warm sepia," with a few
underlying spots of "pale brownish drab." They measure 28.3 by 20, 28 by
19.7, 28.5 by 20.7 and 28.3 by 20 millimeters.

_Plumages._--The downy young seems to be entirely unknown. I have not
seen enough specimens to add anything to our knowledge of the molts. Mr.
Ridgway (1919) has described the immature and seasonal plumages quite


_Breeding range._--Said to breed in eastern Siberia, the shores of the
Sea of Okhotsk, Kamchatka, Bering Island, and south to the Kurile
Islands. Eggs have been taken at Lake Baikal, Siberia, and it probably
breeds in the valley of the Lena River, south of the Arctic Circle.

_Winter range._--The Malay Archipelago, India, Burma, Ceylon, the
Philippines, and Australia.

_Migration._--It arrives on Bering Island during the latter part of May
and on Kamchatka as early as May 21. Fall migrants reach the Philippines
as early as August 10.

_Casual record._--Accidental on the Pribilof Islands, Otter Island, June
8, 1885.

_Egg date._--Siberia: 1 record, June 18.




A long time ago Col. John E. Thayer (1909) added this species to the
North American list. In a lot of birds which he received from A. H.
Dunham were a pair of adults and two young of the rufous-necked
sandpiper, or eastern least stint, as it is also called. They were
collected at Nome, Alaska, on July 10, 1908, where they had evidently
bred. This record was discredited, however, and the species was placed
on the hypothetical list. But the species was firmly established as a
North American bird by Alfred M. Bailey (1926), who reported the capture
of two specimens in Alaska, an adult female at Cape Prince of Wales on
June 11, and a bird of the year at Wainwright on August 15, 1922. The
birds were breeding in that vicinity, an offshoot from the main breeding
range of the species in northeastern Siberia.

_Spring._--The main migration route is northward from southern Asia, the
Philippine Islands, and even Australia, through the Kurile and Commander
Islands and Kamchatka to its breeding grounds. Dr. Leonhard Stejneger
(1885) says:

     This species arrives at Bering Island late in May in rather large
     flocks, but does not stay long. None were met with during the whole
     summer, until, in the first half of September, they took a short
     rest on the shores of our island before continuing their long
     travel to the southward.

A large series of these birds was collected by the Jesup North Pacific
expedition in northeastern Siberia. Dr. J. A. Allen (1905) quotes from
the field notes of N. G. Buxton as follows:

     Abundant spring and fall migrant, and some breed at Kooshka, but
     the majority move farther inland during the breeding season. First
     birds arrived May 28, and were common on the 30th in large flocks
     and in company with the red backed. By June 5 they have paired or
     passed on, and are not common again until the second week of July.
     They have mostly gone by September 11. In habits similar to
     _Pelidna alpina_.

_Nesting._--Mr. Bailey (1926) was fortunate enough to see a pair
building their nest, along a stream bed on the high tundra at the base
of Wales Mountain, Alaska; in his notes for June 14, 1922, he wrote:

     With my glasses I watched a pair of little pink-necked sandpipers
     as they worked around the grass at the foot of the hill. The male
     would give up his searching among the dried grass stalks to
     demonstrate his love for his little partner, upon which she would
     take to wing and circle about. Finally she entered a little tussock
     of grass, standing on her "nose" fluttering her tail and wings.
     Soon the male pushed his way inside, too, and after a few more
     rustling about, they took to wing. I looked in the grass and found
     a little cavity which they were just lining with leaves. Upon
     examining their nesting clump, I found a small pit, exactly similar
     to the nest of the western sandpiper, in which they had deposited
     about 20 small willow leaves. I marked the spot carefully, but upon
     my return found the nest abandoned.

W. Sprague Brooks (1915) found a few pairs breeding at the head of
Providence Bay, northeastern Siberia; he writes:

     Two sets of fresh eggs, numbering three and four, respectively,
     were taken on June 11, 1913; the male incubating one and the female
     the other. Both birds when disturbed fluttered off the nest like
     other sandpipers. The nests were cavities on small mounds of tundra
     lined with dry willow leaves.

_Eggs._--I have been unable to locate any eggs of the rufous-necked
sandpiper and do not know what became of the two sets referred to above.
Joseph Dixon (1918) implies that the eggs resemble those of the
spoonbill sandpiper.

_Plumages._--In the downy young the crown and upper parts are variegated
with black, "tawny" and "warm buff"; the forehead, superciliary stripe
and sides of the head and neck are "warm buff"; the under parts are
white, washed on the breast with pale buff; a narrow median stripe on
the forehead and a broader loral stripe are black. The specimen
described above was taken at Cape Serdze, Siberia, on July 16, and shows
the beginning of the juvenal plumage; the back and scapulars are well
covered with young feathers and the wings are well started, though the
bird is still very small and mostly downy. The feathers of the back and
scapulars are black, broadly edged with "hazel," and the scapulars are
tipped with white.

Older young and subsequent plumages are well described by Robert Ridgway
(1919). The molts are apparently similar to those of other species in
the genus. The postnuptial molt of the body plumage occurs mainly in
August and the wings and tail are molted in January and February. I have
seen birds in winter plumage as early as August 13 and as late as March
15. Probably the prenuptial molt of the body plumage takes place in
April. In fresh nuptial plumage the bright colors of the upper parts are
veiled with "drab-gray" tips, which soon wear away. There is much
individual variation in the amount of rufous on the head, neck, and
breast. Mr. Dixon (1918) says that in this plumage the rufous-necked
sandpiper looks very much like the spoonbill sandpiper; and, as its
behavior is similar, it might easily be mistaken for it.


_Breeding range._--Northeastern Siberia (probably the delta of the Lena
River and the shores of the Sea of Okhotsk, certainly at Providence Bay,
Kooshka, and Cape Serdze); and northwestern Alaska (Cape Prince of
Wales, Wainwright, and probably Nome.)

_Winter range._--The Malay Archipelago, the Philippines, and Australia.

_Migrations._--First arrivals reach Gichiga, Siberia, May 28, and they
are mostly gone by September 11. They pass Bering Island late in May and
again during the first half of September. One taken by G. Dallas Hanna
on St. Paul Island, August 27, 1920. They have been taken in the
Philippines as early as August 13. Japan, China, and Lake Baikal are
included in the migration route.




The well-known European dunlin has occurred occasionally as a straggler
on our eastern coasts, Massachusetts and New York. It has probably
occurred here more often than is known, for it closely resembles our
red-backed sandpiper, especially in winter plumage. There is no reason
why it should not occur here more often, for it is now known to breed
regularly on the east coast of Greenland.

Thayer and Bangs (1914) thought, at one time, that we should recognize
three races of the dunlin, which they designated as follows:

     _Pelidna alpina alpina_ (Linn.), western Europe. Small, with
     shortest, straightest bill; upper parts darker with less reddish;
     heavily spotted (sometimes almost streaked) with dusky below,
     between throat and black breast patch.

     _Pelidna alpina pacifica_ Coues. North America. Much larger, with
     much longer, more curved bill; upper parts paler with much more
     reddish; much less heavily spotted with dusky below, between
     throat and black breast patch.

     _Pelidna alpina sakhalina_ (Vieill.) East Siberia. Size and length
     and shape of bill intermediate between that of the other two
     forms; colors much paler than in either; upper parts very pale
     reddish, much mixed with gray; back of neck and top of head nearly
     wholly pale gray; below very slightly spotted with dusky, between
     throat and black breast patch (much less so, even than in

Recently, Mr. Bangs tells me, he has come to the conclusion that the
Siberian bird should not be separated from the American, as the
characters are too slight and rather intermediate. This seems like a
wise decision, as the naming of intermediates is undesirable.

Much has been published on the habits of the dunlin, but, as they differ
but little from those of our birds, it seems superfluous to write its
full life history.

_Nesting._--Comparatively few of the great hosts of dunlins which visit
England in fall and winter breed on the mainland of Great Britain.
Macgillivray (1852) gives a good account of their nesting habits in
Scotland, as follows:

     The dunlins, in fact, breed in great numbers on the heaths of many
     parts of Scotland and its larger islands, where they may be found
     scattered in the haunts selected by the golden plovers, with which
     they are so frequently seen in company that they have popularly
     obtained the name of plovers' pages. Sometimes about the middle of
     April, but always before that of May, they are seen dispersed over
     the moors in pairs like the birds just named, which at this season
     they greatly resemble in manners. From this period until the end of
     August none are to be found along the shores of the sea, instead of
     searching which, they now seek for insects and worms, in the
     shallow pools, soft ground, and by the edges of lakes and marshes.
     The male frequently flies up to a person intruding upon his haunts,
     and sometimes endeavours to entice him away by feigning lameness.

Rev. Henry H. Slater (1898) says that the nest "is usually in a tussock
of grass, a roughly made hollow, inartistically lined with grass, but
often carefully concealed in the herbage."

A. L. V. Manniche (1910) found the dunlin a common breeding bird on the
northeast coast of Greenland. He writes:

     The nests are most frequently built on hillocks with long grass. I
     found, however, not seldom nests of dunlins on small islets covered
     with short grass, but always near to or surrounded by shallow
     water. The dunlin's nest is often placed on similar spots, and has
     the same exterior as that of the phalarope, but it can easily be
     distinguished, as the bottom of the dunlin's nest is always lined
     with a few withered leaves of _Salix arctica_, while the phalarope
     uses bent straws as layer for its eggs. On spots where many dunlins
     nest several newly scratched but half-finished nests may always be
     found; they are probably left because the birds have found the
     ground too wet. The dunlins like to nest on moors and bogs partly
     irrigated by melted snow streaming down from the rocks. On such
     places I found many nests with eggs and newborn downy young, which
     were lying close together in broods carefully guarded by the old
     female, on isolated larger hillocks surrounded by the ice-cold snow
     water. When the flood of melting snow is unusually strong, such
     localities may be completely inundated, and then not only the eggs
     but also the frail young ones, which are not yet able to save
     themselves by swimming through the cold water to dry spots, will be

_Eggs._--The great amount of variation in the beautiful eggs of the
dunlin is well illustrated in Frank Poynting's (1895) fine colored plate
of 12 eggs. Herbert Massey (1913) gives a better description of the eggs
than I can give, so I quote him, as follows:

     The eggs of this species resemble those of _G. gallinago_ very
     closely in color, but in comparing a series (74 sets or 296 eggs)
     with that of _G. gallinago_ one is struck by the greater proportion
     of the lighter ground colors in the dunlin, the very deep olives
     and the very dark browns being almost absent. On the other hand,
     the beautiful light blue-green and the pale buff are rare in _G.
     gallinago_. The surface spots are chiefly two shades of brown, a
     rich red and a dark brown, with, in many cases, spots of violet
     gray. In _T. alpina_ it is rare to find the two shades of brown in
     the same egg, as is often the case with _G. gallinago_. The
     markings are very varied, some eggs dusted all over with tiny
     specks, others with specks and fair-sized spots, and again others
     with great blotches of color, chiefly at the larger end. The
     pattern markings on the eggs of the same set are often very
     dissimilar. Many of the eggs of this species show the spiral
     arrangement of the spots. The eggs are very glossy, and on this
     account have a brighter appearance than eggs of _G. gallinago_. I
     have only one set entirely without gloss.

The number of eggs is normally four, occasionally only three, and as
many as five and even six have been found in a nest. The measurements of
100 eggs, furnished by Rev. F. C. R. Jourdain, average 34.3 by 24.4
millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure =38.3= by 25.4,
35 by =25.8=, =31.3= by 23.2, and 32 by =23= millimeters.

_Young._--Incubation is shared by both sexes and requires 22 days.
Macgillivray (1852) says of the young:

     Like those of the golden plover and lapwing, they leave the nest
     immediately after exclusion from the egg, run about, and when
     alarmed conceal themselves by sitting close to the ground and
     remaining motionless. If at this period a person approaches their
     retreat, the male especially, but frequently the female also, flies
     up to meet the intruder and uses the same artifices for deceiving
     him as many other birds of this family. After they are able to
     shift for themselves the young remain several weeks on the moors
     with their parents, both collecting into small flocks, which are
     often intermingled with those of the golden plover, and often in
     the evenings uniting into larger. They rest at night on the
     smoother parts of the heath, and both species, when resting by day,
     either stand or lie on the ground. When one advances within a
     hundred yards of such a flock it is pleasant to see them stretch up
     their wings, as if preparing for flight, utter a few low notes, and
     immediately stand on the alert, or run a short way; but at this
     season they are not at all shy.

Seton Gordon (1915), after giving a charming account of the breeding
haunts of the dunlin in Scotland, has this to say about the solicitude
of a devoted mother.

     It was about this time that I saw the hen in precisely the same
     locality as before. She showed much more anxiety than the cock,
     uttering almost incessantly two alarm notes as she walked round me.
     One of these notes was the characteristic trill, unlike, I think,
     any other cry in the bird world; the other, which appeared to be
     the note of extra alarm, was a harsh cry reminding me much of the
     alarm note of the lesser tern. In order to observe the effect, I
     called several times, imitating the cry of one of her chicks. The
     effect was striking and instantaneous; the bird rushed up in alarm
     and literally rolled herself about on the ground with feathers
     ruffled. She, indeed, presented such an appearance that it was
     quite impossible to see her head or feet emerging from the
     disheveled bundle into which she rolled herself. Evidently her
     tactics were quite different--considerably less elegant, but
     perhaps equally forcible--to those used by the dotterel under
     similar circumstances. After a time she began to realize that her
     deception was producing no effect on the object of her mistrust,
     and moved anxiously round me.

_Plumages._--In natal down the young dunlin is similar to the young
red-backed sandpiper, but is paler in color, more buffy, and less
rufous. The subsequent molts and plumages are similar to those of our
American bird. They are well described in Witherby's (1920) Handbook.

_Food._--Macgillivray (1852) made some careful observations on the
feeding habits of dunlins, which are well worth quoting, as follows:

     Being in a muddy place, which probably afforded a good supply of
     food, they did not run much, but yet moved quickly about, with
     their legs a little bent, the body horizontal, the head a little
     declined, and the bill directed forward toward the ground at an
     angle of about 45°. I observed that they seemed in general merely
     to touch the surface, but also sometimes to introduce their bill
     into the mud for about a fourth of its length; but this was always
     with a rapid tapping and somewhat wriggling movement, and not by
     thrusting it in sedately. This flock having flown away, I observed
     another of about 12 individuals alight at a little distance on the
     other side of the mill stream. Being very intent on tapping the
     mud, they allowed me to approach within 10 paces, so that I could
     see them very distinctly. I examined the marks made by them in the
     mud. Although it was soft, very few footmarks were left, but the
     place was covered with numberless small holes made by their bills,
     and forming little groups, as if made by the individual birds
     separately. Of these impressions very many were mere hollows not
     much larger than those on a thimble, and not a twelfth of an inch
     deep; others scarcely perceptible, while a few were larger,
     extending to a depth of two-twelfths; and here and there one or two
     to the depth of nearly half an inch. On scraping the mud, I could
     perceive no worms or shells. It is thus clear that they search by
     gently tapping, and it appears that they discover the object of
     their search rather by the kind of resistance which it yields than
     by touch like that of the human skin.

Witherby's (1920) Handbook says that the food is mainly animal and
includes mollusks, worms, crustaceans (shrimps and sandhoppers), insects
(beetles, flies, etc.), and spiders.

_Behavior._--The habits of the European dunlin seem to be the same as
those of our bird. It is equally tame and confiding, unless shot at too
much, and it has the same habit of flying in large, closely bunched
flocks. John T. Nichols tells me that some that he saw near Liverpool in
September, "when on the ground, moved about very actively for the most
part (contrasted with the sluggishness of the redback as we know it in
migration) and presented a low, hunch-shouldered figure." Abel Chapman
(1924) says:

     On one occasion, on May 14, seeing three small waders floating on
     the mirror-like surface of the tide and quite 200 yards offshore,
     we punted out to them in full anticipation of having at last fallen
     in with phalaropes. Curiously, the trio proved to be dunlins, a
     species I can not recall having seen contentedly swimming in deep
     water on any other occasion.


_Breeding range._--Northern Europe: Iceland, the Faroes, British Isles,
northern coasts of Germany, northern Russia east to Kolguev,
Spitzbergen, and probably Nova Zembla. South to Holland and rarely to
northern Spain and northern Italy. Replaced by one or more other forms
in Siberia, to which Asiatic migrants probably belong.

_Winter range._--Great Britain, Madeira, the Canaries, the
Mediterranean, northern and eastern Africa as far south as Zanzibar, the
Red Sea, and perhaps India.

_Casual records._--Accidental in North America; Shinnecock Bay, Long
Island, New York, September 15, 1892; Chatham, Massachusetts, August 11,
1900. It has probably been many times overlooked.

_Egg dates._--Orkney Islands: 50 records, May 12 to June 27; 25 records,
May 20 to June 2. Iceland: 16 records, May 18 to June 16; 8 records,
June 3 to 12.




Although this sandpiper is certainly red-backed enough to deserve the
name, it seems to me that American dunlin would be a better name, as it
is only subspecifically distinct from the well-known European dunlin.
The doubtful question as to whether a third subspecies should be
recognized on the Pacific coast has been referred to under the preceding

_Spring._--It is a hardy bird and perhaps a lazy bird for it winters
farther north than most of its tribe and makes shorter migrations than
any of the waders that breed in Arctic regions. From its winter range
well within the United States it migrates northward from Florida and the
Carolinas along the Atlantic coast to the Middle States, rarely to New
England, through the Great Lakes region, and along the west coast of
Hudson Bay to its summer home on the barren grounds. C. J. Pennock tells
me he has seen it in Florida, Wakulla County, as late as May 26; I found
it very abundant and in fine spring plumage on the coastal islands of
South Carolina on May 22 and 23; and I have seen it near Corpus Christi,
Texas, as late as May 29. These are all late dates, however, for the
migration starts in April and is generally completed in May. A single
bird which I saw on the coast of Louisiana on June 22, 1910, was a
nonbreeding loiterer. A. G. Lawrence and C. G. Harrold both record it in
their notes as common in Manitoba from the middle to the last of May (12
to 29). William Rowan, however, finds it rare in Alberta.

There is a heavy northward migration along the Pacific coast. In some
notes sent to me by D. E. Brown from Grays Harbor, Washington, he says:

     This bird, next to the western sandpiper, was by far the most
     abundant of all the shore birds. It was noted in immense flocks the
     day of my arrival, May 3, and was very common when I left, May 24.
     Mixed flocks of this species and western sandpipers must have
     contained 6,000 or 7,000 birds.

Herbert W. Brandt in his manuscript notes says:

     The red-backed sandpiper is one of the most abundant shore birds
     inhabiting the Hooper Bay region, confining itself almost entirely
     to the low-lying flats. The Eskimos first reported this hardy
     species on May 10 and two days later we collected our first
     specimen at Point Dall. They were common in loose flocks by May 15
     and abundant by May 20. At that time they were often associated
     with the Aleutian sandpiper, to which, in the field, they bear a
     marked resemblance. Soon after the later date the flocks
     disintegrated into mated couples and they then repaired to their
     lowland breeding haunts.

_Courtship._--Dr. E. W. Nelson (1887) gives an attractive account of the
courtship of this species, as follows:

     Soon after they arrive in spring they are engaged in pairing, and
     the males may be seen upon quivering wings flying after the female
     and uttering a musical, trilling note, which falls upon the ear
     like the mellow tinkle of large water drops falling rapidly into a
     partly filled vessel. Imagine the sounds thus produced by the water
     run together into a steady and rapid trill some 5 to 10 seconds in
     length, and the note of this sandpiper is represented. It is not
     loud but has a rich full tone, difficult to describe, but pleasant
     to hear among the discordant notes of the various waterfowl whose
     hoarse cries arise on all sides. As the lover's suit approaches its
     end the handsome suitor becomes exalted, and in his moments of
     excitement he rises 15 or 20 yards, and, hovering on tremulous
     wings over the object of his passion, pours forth a perfect gush of
     music, until he glides back to earth exhausted, but ready to repeat
     the effort a few minutes later. The female coyly retreats before
     the advances of the male, but after various mishaps each bird finds
     its partner for the summer and they start off house hunting in all
     the ardor of a rising honeymoon.

Mr. Brandt in his manuscript notes describes it a little differently,

     The red-backed sandpiper, often called the American dunlin, arrives
     in flocks, the individuals of which are apparently not all mated. A
     female will jump up and be immediately pursued by two to five
     males, and as they all twist about, in and out, twittering all the
     time, the alternate flashing of their reddish backs and black lower
     parts seems like the signals of the telegraphic code. The males
     appear never to catch the females, but to try to keep as close to
     them as possible. When they alight again in the flock whence they
     started they at once resume feeding without further display. The
     thrilling song of this dainty bird is delivered while hovering with
     quivering wing beats in mid-air. It appears as if both male and
     female carry on the vocal effort, which sounds something like the
     cheery tinkling of ice in a glass, and ends with a real lover's
     note _dear, dear, dear_. This is repeated again and again and is
     one of the pleasant characteristic songs of the marshy grass-woven
     flats, where the discords of waterfowl prevail. After the fastest
     male has captured his elusive sweetheart the two retire to their
     chosen place on the flats to take up their more serious duties.
     Here the female lays her eggs, often in a situation that is moist,
     and never very far from a small pond or slough.

_Nesting._--The same observer says of the nest:

     The home of the red-backed sandpiper is almost always found on a
     dry eminence in the widespread grassy tidelands, where, near some
     pool under the damp matted vegetation of the previous year,
     sufficient concealment is afforded. Here in a mere depression in
     the ground, still frozen underneath, a fragile nest is hurriedly
     made of dry grass stems and filled, rather than lined, with the
     tiny crisp leaves of the berry-bearing plants, that are deposited
     by the flood tides of autumn in this area. The range of
     measurements of 25 nests is: Inside diameter, 3-1/2 to 4 inches;
     inside depth 2 to 3 inches; total depth, 3 to 5 inches.

     This sandpiper is among the early nesters, we having taken the
     first completed set of eggs on May 29, while by June 1 we had
     discovered 75. The middle of June found the downy young bursting
     forth, dainty creatures clad in black and brown with markings
     similar to those of the other sandpiper chicks.

Dr. Joseph Grinnell (1900) found this species breeding on the Arctic
coast of Alaska, about 20 miles northeast of Cape Prince of Wales, on
June 27 and 28; he writes:

     The birds were found scattered out on the tundras whence they could
     be flushed from their nests or from where they had been feeding.
     One nest was a cup-shaped cavity slightly lined with grasses and
     sunk into the top of a hummock of moss surrounded by marshy ground.
     The two others found were similarly located except that they were
     embedded in clumps of grass, and mostly hidden from view by the
     surrounding blades. Each nest contained four eggs. One was fresh
     but the other two were considerably incubated.

Prof. Wells W. Cooke (1912) made the statement that this species has two
breeding areas "separated by nearly 1,500 miles of Arctic coast, from
Point Barrow to the Boothia Peninsula," where "there seems to be no
certain record of the occurrence of the red-backed sandpiper." This is
far from true, for it is well known to breed there and eggs have been
taken at many places along the Arctic coast.

_Eggs._--Herbert W. Brandt (Mss.) describes his series of 120 eggs of
this sandpiper very well, as follows:

     The four eggs of the red-backed sandpiper, which is their
     complement, are very handsome and show more variation than the eggs
     of most of the other shore birds breeding in the Hooper Bay region.
     In shape they are subpyriform to ovate pyriform and rest amid the
     leafy nest lining with the small ends together often so placed that
     the sitting bird during incubation touches only the larger ends.
     The shell is not as strong as many shore-bird eggs of the same size
     but they are not fragile by any means and they have considerable
     luster. As was true of many of the limicoline eggs found along that
     Bering Sea coast, there were two general types of ground color--the
     one, the greenish, that predominated by a ratio of about 15 to
     1--and the other was the brownish type. The ground color ranges
     from "pale glaucous green"--that is the most common type--to
     "glaucous green," while the brownish-tinged eggs shade from "olive
     buff" to "dark olive buff." The surface markings are conspicuous
     and vary greatly, for on some types the spots are small and well
     scattered over the eggs; on others they are large, irregular, and
     bold; while on still other specimens they are confluent on the
     larger end and form a blotch that completely decorates that part of
     the egg.

     These spots are irregular in shape, but are inclined to be
     elongated with their axis twisting to the right, so that when a
     series of eggs is viewed looking toward the larger end, the spots
     produce a clockwise spiral. Some of these spots are more twisted
     than others, but on a few eggs there are no spiral tendencies at
     all. The surface spots are quite variable in color, dependent
     largely on the thickness of the pigment deposited, for where the
     latter is thin the true color is observable, but when the
     decoration is liberal, the blot becomes opaque and the color is
     lost. These spots range from "auburn" and "raw umber" to "chestnut
     brown" and "blackish brown." The underlying spots are well hidden
     by the boldness of the surface markings and inclined to be small
     and regular and are often more or less numerous. Their shades are
     delicate, ranging from "pallid gray" to "mouse gray." An occasional
     egg exhibits scattering insignificant additional markings of deep
     "blackish brown."

The measurements of 145 eggs average 36.3 by 25.3 millimeters; the eggs
showing the four extremes measure =40.1= by 25.9, 39.2 by =26.5=, =34=
by 25, and 34.5 by =23.5= millimeters.

_Young._--Both sexes incubate and are rather close sitters, as well as
devoted and bold in the defense of their young. The period of incubation
is probably the same as for the European dunlin, 22 days. John Murdoch
(1885) says:

     Both parents share in the work of incubation, though we happened to
     obtain more males than females with the eggs. The young are pretty
     generally hatched by the first week in July, and both adults and
     young keep pretty well out of sight till the 1st of August, when
     they begin to show about the lagoons and occasionally about the
     beach, many of the young birds still downy about the head. The
     autumn flight of young birds appears about the middle of August,
     associating with the young _A. maculata_ and _M. griseus
     scolopaceus_, in good-sized flocks, particularly about the pools on
     the high tundra below Cape Smythe. They continue plenty in these
     localities, sometimes appearing along the beach, for about a week,
     when the greater part of them depart, leaving only a few stragglers
     that stay till the first few days of September.

_Plumages._--The downy young red-backed is much paler and more buffy
than that of the least sandpiper. The crown, back, wings, and thighs are
variegated with brownish black, "ochraceous tawny" and "hazel," except
at the base of the down on the back, there is no rich, deep brown; the
above parts are quite thickly sprinkled, especially on the back, with
minute, round spots, terminal tufts of pale buff; a distinct stripe of
these nearly encircles the posterior half of the crown. The black of the
crown extends nearly to the bill and there is a black loral stripe; the
rest of the head and a band across the lower throat are "warm buff." The
rest of the under parts are white. The nape is a grizzly mixture of dull
buff and dusky.

The juvenal plumage, as seen in Alaska in August, is strikingly handsome
and quite distinctive. The feathers of the crown are dusky, edged with
"ochraceous tawny"; the sides of the head and nape are "drab-gray,"
streaked with dusky; the feathers of the back are black, broadly edged
with three colors in different areas, "ochraceous tawny," "hazel," and
buffy white; the scapulars are black, edged with "light ochraceous
buff"; the wing coverts are gray, tipped with pale buff; the rump and
upper tail coverts are "hair brown" to "drab"; the breast is tinged with
grayish and pale buff and streaked with dusky; the throat and rest of
the under parts are white, conspicuously and more or less heavily
spotted with dusky on the sides of the belly. This beautiful plumage is
worn for only a short time and is molted before the birds leave their
northern breeding grounds. The postjuvenal molt begins in August and is
generally finished before October; it involves nearly all of the body
plumage, nearly all of the scapulars, and some of the tertials, but not
the rump, upper tail coverts, or flight feathers.

In first winter plumage young birds are much like adults, but the ashy
brown upper parts are usually somewhat paler, and they can always be
recognized by the juvenal wing coverts and a few retained scapulars and
tertials. A partial prenuptial molt, similar to that of the adult,
produces a first nuptial plumage, in which young birds can be
distinguished only by the retained juvenal wing coverts. In fresh
plumage the black belly patch is veiled with white tips, which soon wear
away and leave this area clear black.

The first postnuptial molt of young birds and the corresponding molt of
adults produce adult winter plumages. The molt is complete and begins in
July or even late in June; the wings are apparently molted first in
July, and are entirely renewed before the birds start to migrate; the
body molt begins in August and lasts through September; there are
usually traces of the old nuptial plumage left when the birds arrive
here on migration. The partial prenuptial molt of adults comes in April
and May and involves the body plumage, but not all the scapulars or rump
or wing coverts.

_Food._--Red-backed sandpipers obtain their food on the ocean beaches at
low tide, on sandy flats or on mud flats, often feeding in company with
sanderlings, or with other small shore birds. Some writers have referred
to them as nervous and active running about in a lively manner while
feeding, but I have usually found them rather sluggish and inactive at
such times, easily approached and unsuspicious. Their food consists of
small mollusks, sand fleas, and other small crustaceans, amphipods,
flies and other insects and their larvae, diving and other aquatic
beetles, marine worms, and occasionally a few seeds of aquatic plants.
They are apt to gather where fish cleanings and other offal are thrown
out, to feed on the flies and other insects that abound there. Dr.
Charles W. Townsend (1905) writes:

     In feeding they frequently plunge the bill, slightly open to its
     base in the soft sand or mud, appear to work it about and when
     successful draw forth an amphipod or a worm. Several times on one
     occasion I saw one draw a worm to the water close at hand as if to
     wash it before swallowing it. On another occasion a couple of
     dunlins were so tame that it was possible to approach within 5 feet
     of them. They were diligently probing in the sandy mud, wading in
     water up to their bellies. At this depth it was necessary for them
     to immerse their heads entirely, and I could see them shut their
     eyes as they went under water. Whether the eyes were afterwards
     opened or not I am unable to say. When disturbed they flew but a
     short way, and if they happened to alight in water too deep for
     their legs, they swam readily, as do all shore birds. When
     disturbed the dunlin utters a short _kuk_. Their call note is
     distinctive, and resembles somewhat the word _purre_, by which name
     the European species is called. The note is plaintive and sometimes
     melodious, and recalls, without its harshness, the cry of the
     common tern.

_Behavior._--The earlier writers refer to this as an active, restless
bird. Audubon (1840) says:

     There seems to be a kind of impatience in this bird that prevents
     it from remaining any length of time in the same place, and you may
     see it scarcely alighted on a sand bar, fly off without any
     apparent reason to another, where it settles, runs for a few
     moments, and again starts off on wing.

Giraud (1844) writes:

     It is a restless active bird and gleans its food with great
     nimbleness, and seems to be fond of continually changing its
     position. Soon after alighting they collect together and make a
     short excursion over the water, again alighting a short distance
     from where they had previously taken wing. During their aerial
     excursions, when whirling about, they crowd so close together that
     many are killed at a single shot. On one of these occasions Mr.
     Brasher informs me that he killed 52 by discharging both barrels
     into a flock. This number is greater than I ever before heard of;
     but from 10 to 15 is not unusual.

Wilson (1832), writing when shore birds were abundant, says of this
flocking habit:

     These birds, in conjunction with several others, sometimes collect
     together in such flocks, as to seem, at a distance, a large cloud
     of thick smoke, varying in form and appearance every instant, while
     it performs its evolutions in air. As this cloud descends and
     courses along the shores of the ocean, with great rapidity, in a
     kind of waving, serpentine flight, alternately throwing its dark
     and white plumage to the eye, it forms a very grand and interesting
     appearance. At such times the gunners make prodigious slaughter
     among them; while, as the showers of their companions fall, the
     whole body often alight, or descend to the surface with them, till
     the sportsman is completely satiated with destruction.

Suckley (1860) found them equally abundant in the Puget Sound region,
for he writes:

     Early in the season, before they have been rendered wild by being
     much shot at, I have observed that upon a volley being fired into a
     flock the unharmed birds in terror sweep around in several circles,
     and hovering "_bunch_," as the sportsmen say, over their wounded
     companions, and sometimes realight with them. At the moment of
     their hovering in a compact body over the wounded is the time
     generally seized to fire the reserved barrels; two or three shots
     will frequently bring down from 30 to 60 birds; and I have known
     one instance where an officer of the Army bagged 96 birds from one
     discharge of his fowling piece. After being fired into once or
     twice the flocks, learning to avoid sympathizing with their dead
     and wounded, become shy and wary.

Several observers have remarked on the remarkable tameness of the
red-backed sandpiper. William Brewster (1925) spent two hours
photographing five of these birds within 8 feet of his boat on an open
mud flat; they paid no attention to his movements, the click of the
camera, or the flapping of the focusing cloth; "during much of the time
they were apparently asleep;" he even had difficulty in frightening them
away until he splashed water on them. I have frequently walked up to
within a few feet of feeding birds and had some difficulty in inducing
them to fly more than a short distance.

Their eyesight is keen enough, however, as shown by an incident related
by W. E. Saunders (1896). A bird which had been feeding near him for
about an hour, stopped, looked steadily, as if afraid, and "shrank down
flat on the ground, where he lay perfectly still." After some time Mr.
Saunders discovered an eagle approaching, so far away that he could
hardly see him. After the eagle had passed the sandpiper resumed his

_Voice._--The red-backed sandpiper is usually silent when on the ground.
John T. Nichols, in his notes, calls the "flushing note of a single bird
a fine _chit-l-it_. Its flight note is an emphatic near-whistled _chu_
or _chru_, resembling some of the calls of the pectoral and semipalmated
sandpipers, but quite diagnostic when one is sufficiently familiar with
it. This call may also be phonetically suggested by the syllable
_purre_, which is a colloquial name of the European dunlin, of which it
is a race."

Doctor Townsend (1905) says: "The note is plaintive and sometimes
melodious, and recalls, without its harshness, the cry of the common
tern." Mr. Murdoch (1885) and others have noticed that the rolling call,
heard on the breeding grounds in June, "reminds one of the notes of the
frogs in New England in spring." A bird which Mr. Brewster (1925)
flushed "uttered a peculiarly mellow _tweet-twel-l-l-ut_ just as it rose
on wing."

_Field marks._--In spring plumage the American dunlin deserves the name
red backed, for its back is even redder than that of its European
relative; at that season the black patch on the belly is very
conspicuous, even at a long distance, so that the species is easily
recognized. It is a short-legged, rather stocky bird, about the size of
the sanderling, and can be identified in the fall by its rather long and
somewhat curved bill and its dull, mouse-colored back. A narrow white
stripe in the wing can be seen in flight.

_Fall._--Of their departure from Alaska, Doctor Nelson (1887) writes:

     The young are mostly on the wing toward the end of July, and the
     birds begin to gather into flocks along the muddy edges of the
     brackish pools and the banks of tide creeks. Very soon after this
     they begin to lose their summer plumage, and the molt continues
     until the last of September or first of October. During the first
     of October they are very common in flocks and singly among the
     lakes and streams; a little later and the borders of these
     situations are edged with ice and most of the birds leave for the
     south, but some of the hardier ones betake themselves to the
     seashore, where they join with Coues's sandpiper and remain as late
     as the 12th or 13th of the month.

The southward migration separates into two widely divergent main routes,
with only stragglers between. One route is southward along the Pacific
coast and one southeastward along the west coast of Hudson Bay, through
the eastern Great Lakes, and to the coast of New England and farther
south. E. A. Preble (1902) saw them on the west coast of Hudson Bay,
just commencing the migration, on July 19, and "present by thousands"
south of Cape Eskimo on August 3 to 13. It seems to be a rare bird in
the interior Provinces of Canada; my Manitoba correspondents have no
fall records, and Professor Rowan has only one for Alberta. Mr. Brewster
(1925) saw it regularly at Lake Umbagog, Maine, in October; and W. E.
Clyde Todd (1904) calls it common in Erie County, Pennsylvania; probably
these two points represent the north and south limits of the eastward
route. Mr. Todd (1904) quotes from Samuel E. Bacon's notes as follows:

     In former years extensive flights took place about the 1st of
     November, upon which occasions bushels of them are said to have
     fallen to a single gun. During these great flights the flocks were
     accustomed to follow the outside beach of the peninsula (having
     presumably come directly across the lake) to its southeastern
     extremity, thence crossing over to the sand beach east of the mouth
     of Mill Creek, where, after having been sadly depleted by dozens of
     guns, they would finally rise high in the air and pass southward
     over the mainland, flock following flock, all day long. I know this
     by hearsay only, but am positive that this is the bird that used to
     arrive in such numbers late in the fall. On October 29, 1897, I
     killed 53 of these birds out of two flocks, comprising in all
     perhaps as many more, and this is the nearest approach to a flight
     that has occurred of late years.

The redbacks do not reach the Massachusetts coast in any numbers until
the last week in September and the main flight comes in October, with
some lingering into November and a few remain all winter occasionally.
While with us they frequent the ocean beaches and salt-water mud flats,
where they associate with sanderlings, ringnecks, peep, and turnstones.
During high tides they rest on the high, sandy beaches in the large
flocks of other small waders. They fly in close flocks, low over the
water. The adults which come first, have nearly completed the body molt
when they arrive here.

_Winter._--It is only a short flight farther to their winter homes on
our southern coast. Dr. Louis B. Bishop (1901) found this to be "the
most abundant sandpiper" on Pea Island, North Carolina, in winter.
Arthur T. Wayne (1910) says that it usually arrives in South Carolina
about the first week in October and remains until May 25. "With the
exception of the western sandpiper, this species is the most common of
all the waders that winter on the coast. It is a very hardy bird and is
apparently not inconvenienced by a temperature of 6° above zero." We
found it common all winter on the coastal islands and mud flats on the
west coast of Florida. Mr. Nichols says in his notes:

     Where met with on its winter range in northwest Florida it
     apparently shifted its feeding grounds with high or low water, at
     the particular locality in mind, more or less dependent on the
     wind. When offshore winds caused low tides and extensive mud flats,
     it was less numerous; when the water was high, numbers were seen
     flying over the bay. They were present on inundated landward flats,
     and, as the tide receded, fed along the edge of the bay near by,
     wading in the water and often immersing most of the head as they

According to J. Hooper Bowles (1918) they winter farther north on the
Pacific coast than on this side. He writes:

     These birds are among the last of the Limicolae to arrive in the
     fall migration, often reaching Washington after many of the other
     species have left for the South. They make up for it, however, by
     staying with us all winter and late into the spring. On the
     Nisqually Flats I have seen them in flocks of hundreds when the
     marsh was a solid pack of snow and ice, the rise and fall of the
     tide making sufficient feeding grounds to keep them fat and strong.


_Range._--North America and eastern Asia; casual in Central America and
the West Indies.

_Breeding range._--North to northeastern Siberia (Taimyr Peninsula,
Nijni Kolymsk, Cape Wankarem, and East Cape); Alaska (Cape Prince of
Wales, Point Barrow, Colville Delta, and Camden Bay); Mackenzie (Cape
Bathurst, Mackenzie Bay, Franklin Bay, and Baillie Island); and Franklin
(Port Kennedy). East to Franklin (Port Kennedy and Felix Harbor); and
probably eastern Keewatin (Cape Fullerton). South to probably eastern
Keewatin (Cape Fullerton); northwestern Mackenzie (Great Slave Lake and
Peel River); and Alaska (probably Nushagak and Ugashik). West to Alaska
(Ugashik, Pastolik, Hooper Bay, and St. Michael); and northeastern
Siberia (Cape Serdze, Plover Bay, and Taimyr Peninsula). The species
also has been recorded as breeding in Greenland, and on the coast of
Labrador (Okak), but the records are indefinite or otherwise

_Winter range._--North to Washington (Dungeness Spit); Texas (Refugio
County); Louisiana (Freshwater Bayou and New Orleans); and southern New
Jersey (Anglesea). East to southern New Jersey (Anglesea, and Five-mile
Beach); Virginia (Wallops, Cobbs, Sandy, and Hog Islands); North
Carolina (Pea Island and Fort Macon); South Carolina (Port Royal and
Frogmore); Georgia (Savannah and Darien); and Florida (Amelia Island,
Tarpon Springs, and Fort Myers). South to Florida (Fort Myers); Texas
(probably Brownsville); and Lower California (La Paz). West to Lower
California (La Paz); California (San Diego, Alamitas Bay, Los Banos, San
Francisco Bay, and Humboldt Bay); Oregon (Yaquina Bay); and Washington
(Nisqually Flats, Tacoma, and Dungeness Spit).

It also has been noted in winter north to the mouth of the Fraser River,
British Columbia (specimen in U. S. National Museum); Barnstable,
Massachusetts (Howe, December 23, 1903); Long Island, New York
(Fleischer, December 25, 1914); and south to Great Inagua, Bahama
Islands (Worthington, February 3, 1909).

_Spring migration._--Early dates of arrival in the spring are: New York,
Long Island, April 3, Canandaigua, April 20, and Orient, May 7; Rhode
Island, Block Island, May 12; Massachusetts, Monomoy Island, April 13,
Rehoboth, May 2, and Boston, May 4; Quebec, Quebec, May 2; Illinois,
Addison, May 9; Ohio, Youngstown, April 18, Cedar Point, May 8, Tiffin,
May 10, and Oberlin, May 11; Michigan, Jackson, May 4, Detroit, May 13,
and Ann Arbor, May 14; Ontario, Toronto, May 12, and Point Pelee, May
13; Iowa, Sigourney, May 13; Wisconsin, Whitewater, May 1, Madison, May
10, and Elkhorn, May 13; Minnesota, Heron Lake, May 11, Waseca, May 14,
and Hutchinson, May 18; eastern Nebraska, Lincoln, May 7; South Dakota,
Vermilion, April 29, and Huron, May 6; North Dakota, Sweetwater, May 10;
Manitoba, Whitewater Lake, May 12, and Shoal Lake, May 22; British
Columbia, Courtenay, April 18, Chilliwak, April 25, and Metlakatla,
April 29; Yukon, Dawson, May 24; Alaska, Howcan, April 2, Kuiu Island,
April 28, Craig, May 1, mouth of the Yukon River, May 10, Admiralty
Island, May 14, Fort Kenai, May 16, and Point Barrow, May 31; and
Siberia, Bering Island, May 26, and Nijni Kolymsk, May 28.

Late dates of spring departure are: Florida, Gasparilla Island, May 24,
St. Marks, May 26, and New Smyrna, May 26; Georgia, Savannah, May 29;
South Carolina, Mount Pleasant, May 29; North Carolina, Fort Macon, May
22, and Churchs Island, May 26; Virginia, Pig Island, May 28; New
Jersey, Anglesea, May 20; New York, Canandaigua, May 26, New York City,
May 30, Rockaway, June 3, and Geneva, June 7; Massachusetts, Cape Cod,
May 22, and Ipswich, May 30; Maine, Scarboro, June 2; Quebec, Quebec
City, May 28; Illinois, Waukegan, May 27, Riverdale, May 31, and
Chicago, June 5; Ohio, Painesville, May 27, Oberlin, June 1, and
Lakeside, June 16; Michigan, Sault Ste. Marie, May 29, Detroit, May 30,
and Neebish Island, June 3; Ontario, Mitchell's Bay, June 1, Hamilton,
June 3, Point Pelee, June 10, and Toronto, June 13; Iowa, Emmetsburg,
May 25, Storm Lake, May 26, and Sioux City, June 4; Wisconsin, Madison,
May 27, and Green Bay, June 4; Minnesota, Lanesboro, May 30, Heron
Lake, June 2, and Wilder, June 10; Texas, Fort Brown, May 16, Dallas,
May 20, and Corpus Christi, May 29; eastern Nebraska, Lincoln, June 9;
South Dakota, Vermilion, May 24, and Forestburg, May 30; North Dakota,
Jerusalem, June 1; Manitoba, Killarney, May 28, and Shoal Lake, June 5;
California, Fresno, May 15, Santa Barbara, May 17, and Alameda, May 21;
Oregon, Beaver Creek, Lincoln County, May 18, and Silver Lake, June 4;
and British Columbia, Cowickan, May 18.

_Fall migration._--Early dates of fall arrival are: Washington, Smith
Island, August 14, and Point Chehalis, August 20; California, Santa
Barbara, September 9, Alameda, September 19, and Hayward, September 20;
Manitoba, Gimli, August 20; South Dakota, Forestburg, July 30; eastern
Nebraska, Lincoln, September 1; Minnesota, Wilder, September 16;
Ontario, Brighton, July 31, and Ottawa, August 21; Michigan, Saginaw
Bay, August 20, and Ann Arbor, September 21; Ohio, Youngstown, August
10, Pelee Island, August 15, and Cleveland, August 22; Illinois,
Chicago, July 22; Quebec, Godbout, September 7; Massachusetts, Norton,
August 26, and Taunton, September 1; New York, Orient, August 11,
Canandaigua, September 14, and Ithaca, September 24; Pennsylvania, Erie,
September 25; Maryland, Lock Raven, September 3; District of Columbia,
Washington, September 25; Virginia, Smiths Island, September 28; and
South Carolina, Mount Pleasant, September 30.

Late dates of fall departures are: Siberia, Bering Island, October 25;
Alaska, Sitka, October 10, mouth of the Yukon River, October 13, and St.
Paul Island, October 30; British Columbia, Comox, October 22, and
Chilliwack, November 29; Manitoba, Lake Winnipeg, October 31; eastern
Nebraska, Lincoln, November 7; Minnesota, Hallock, October 16;
Wisconsin, Madison, November 15; Iowa, Keokuk, October 4, and
Marshalltown, October 12; Ontario, Ottawa, October 29, and Long Point,
November 2; Michigan, Detroit, October 11, Sault Ste. Marie, October 22,
and St. Clair Flats, November 20; Ohio, Huron, November 5, Youngstown,
November 8, and Columbus, November 28; Illinois, Chicago, October 31,
Lake Forest, November 3, and La Grange, November 6; Maine, Lewiston,
October 12, and Portland, November 25; Massachusetts, Lynn, November 3,
Boston, November 10, and Monomoy Island, November 14; Rhode Island,
Block Island, November 16; Connecticut, Fairfield, November 29; New
York, Orient, November 12, and Long Beach, December 25; and
Pennsylvania, Erie, November 3.

_Casual records._--Accidental occurrences of the red-backed sandpiper
have been reported mostly from the Rocky Mountain States. Among these
are: Arizona, near Tucson, April, 1883; Nevada, Pyramid Lake, May, 1868;
and Utah, Ogden and Salt Lake City (reported in September by Allen). It
also has been reported as detected at Dominica, West Indies, October 1,
1904; and at Momotombo, Nicaragua, on May 23. (This last record
represented by a specimen in the British Museum.)

_Egg dates._--Alaska: 83 records, May 26 to July 8; 42 records, June 4
to 30. Arctic Canada: 15 records, June 5 to July 7; 8 records, June 26
to July 3.



_Contributed by Francis Charles Robert Jourdain_


The curlew sandpiper is only an occasional visitor to America, and with
the exception of a single record from Point Barrow all the recorded
instances have been reported from the eastern side of the Continent. It
has been met with in Canada on two occasions, about ten times in the
Eastern States, twice in the West Indies and once in Patagonia.

_Courtship._--Very few observations on this species have been made on
its breeding grounds in eastern Siberia, so our information as to its
courtship is still very defective. The late Dr. H. Walter, during his
enforced detention on the Taimyr Peninsula, from September, 1900, to
August, 1901, while frozen in on board the exploring ship "Sarja," noted
that they arrived on the Peninsula on June 13, and from that date onward
were to be met with chasing one another in little parties of three or
four over the tundra. There is no mention of any song flight (as in
_Crocethia alba_, _Erolia temminchii_, _Arquatella maritima_, _Calidris
canutus_, etc.).

_Nesting._--The usual nesting place is on the gentle slope of the drier
tundra, where the reindeer moss is interspersed with tufts of wiry grass
and allowing a wide field of view over the neighborhood. Miss Haviland
(1915_a_) noted that the actual nest hollow was rather deep, so that the
pointed ends of the eggs were pointed downwards almost vertically.
Walter describes them as shallow depressions, lined with a few dry
bents, but H. L. Popham (1898) also remarks that "the nest was a rather
deep hollow amongst the reindeer moss in an open space on a ridge of
ground, somewhat drier than the surrounding swampy tundra, in much the
same sort of place as that generally chosen by a grey plover."

Although Middendorff undoubtedly met with birds about to breed, and
indeed extracted a partly developed egg from the oviduct of a female
which he had shot on the Boganida River in latitude 74° N., no one had
actually found the nest of this species till Mr. H. Leyborne Popham
(1898) visited the lower reaches of the Yenesei in 1897. Two years
previously (August, 1895), he had met with family parties on the delta
and had shot young which must have been reared in the neighborhood. On
July 3, 1897, finding the way below Golchika blocked by the ice, he
turned back to explore an island of soft tundra with a rocky shore. One
of his men called out that he had seen a sandpiper and at once,
according to his own words:

     I sent the other two men away and lay down to watch the bird, which
     stood still for some time, then flew some distance away and I lost
     sight of it among some turnstones. We again saw the bird near the
     same spot, so Hansen and I lay down to watch while the mosquitoes
     did their worst. The bird stood for some time watching us and then
     began running about; it was very difficult to keep it in sight for
     it took advantage of every little hollow to run in and every little
     ridge to hide behind. It then flew to another place and did the
     same thing again, so I asked Hansen to get up and walk away. The
     bird remained quite motionless, watching him go, and then ran
     backwards and forwards and finally stopped still behind a small
     tuft of grass. After waiting for some minutes I raised my head
     slightly; the bird instantly flew off and stood watching, but, as
     it saw nothing moving, it began running about again and settled
     down in the same spot; then I felt sure I had a nest safe, but to
     make doubly sure I went through the same performance again, a
     shower of rain no doubt hastening matters, and this time I
     distinctly saw the bird shuffle the eggs under it. I jumped up,
     shot the bird as it ran away, and soon had the pleasure of looking
     at the first authentic eggs of the curlew sandpiper. The bird,
     which proved to be the female, remained silent throughout; at one
     time I thought I heard it make a sound like a dunlin, but, as I
     afterwards saw dunlins close by, I was probably mistaken.

The next news comes from the Russian explorers who wintered on the coast
of the Taimyr Peninsula in 1900-1901. In Doctor Walter's posthumous
notes he writes that the curlew sandpiper nested in numbers near his
winter quarters. The nests were placed in grassy places and by mid-June
(old style) contained full clutches. On the approach of anyone the
sitting birds, warned by their mates, left the nests quickly and both
birds remained very passive and unobtrusive. Usually a long wait was
necessary before the female returned to the nest, and often the watch
resulted in failure. Some individuals also wander about in flocks
through the breeding season, and later on young and old collect in large
flocks and stay till late in the autumn. Doctor Walter collected three
clutches of eggs here, and another Russian naturalist, Dr. Katin
Jartzew, also took several on Kotelni Island, in the New Siberian Isles,
in 1902. Since that date the only information we have received is that
furnished by Miss Haviland (Mrs. Brindley), who visited the delta of the
Yenesei in 1914. In her account (1915) of her travels she writes:

     On July 6, as I was returning from a long round over the tundra
     that lay in the northern angle of the Yenesei and Golchika Rivers,
     all at once I saw a little rufous curlew, which was standing on a
     tussock about 20 yards away, watching me quietly. When I stopped
     she flew away, but soon alighted again and looked at me. Full of
     excitement, but still rather skeptical as to the likelihood of
     finding eggs, I lay down and watched her, but at the end of an hour
     and a half I could come to no conclusion, for the bird only
     strolled about and preened herself nonchalantly. I was not even
     certain of her sex, and her solitude and her quiet behavior made me
     doubt whether, after all, she might not be a nonbreeding bird.
     Nevertheless, I marked the place and turned homeward, meaning to
     come back next day. On the morrow I turned out early and tramped
     over 8 swampy miles of tundra. The second pair of sandpipers were
     not to be seen, but the first bird was still pottering round the
     same spot. To-day she was a little more demonstrative and flew
     about uneasily. Once she uttered a sharp, anxious note,
     _wick-wick-wick_, two or three times repeated. By this time I was
     convinced that the nest was close at hand, but it was difficult to
     locate it, for although the bird could dodge me successfully enough
     behind tussocks of moss only 6 inches high, my person unfortunately
     was too bulky for these, the only available hiding places. The
     ground was on a very gradual slope. On the right hand and on the
     left were two small tarns, still covered with blue ice. In the
     distance grazed some herds of reindeer, and once a Samoyede sledge
     glided swiftly over a ridge. Heavy drifts of snow still lay in the
     sheltered hollow, and the sleet showers that came slapping over the
     tundra made me glad to wrap myself up in my Burberry coat.

The bird had whirled away round the tarn at my approach, so I hid myself
as well as I could behind a tussock and settled down to wait for her
return. Twenty minutes passed--half an hour. "It's time she was coming
back," thought I, and turned my head carefully to reconnoiter. And lo
and behold, not 30 yards behind, the sandpiper stood and studied me
contemptuously! She had been watching all the time. "What a fool!"
doubtless would have been her comment if she could have spoken. It is no
use to try and gull the waders; up to a certain point I believe that
they can almost see you _think_!

I retired abashed to another hiding place about 50 yards farther up the
slope. The bird at once showed her appreciation of this move by flying
toward the spot where I had first seen her. She was so small that it was
very difficult to mark her as she tripped between the tussocks. When I
thought that she must be settled on her eggs I jumped up quickly. She
took wing at once, but when I went to the place whence she had risen
there was no sign of the nest. This happened twice; but as she returned
to the same spot each time, I knew that the treasure was there all right
and that patience would win it. I marked the bird down by a dodge that I
used when looking for gray plover's eggs under similar circumstances and
which is described elsewhere; but each time that I flushed her she
seemed to jump up from a different place. She was so little and so
nimble that she could run over the moss for some yards before she was
seen. The next time I gave her ample time to settle down and lay still
in the wet, sucking lumps of sugar until I nearly fell asleep. Then all
at once a Buffon's skua came overhead, flying low in the squally wind. I
snatched my gun and shot him as he flew by, and as he fell I saw the
sandpiper spring up from a spot where I had marked her once before. I
left the skua and ran up to the place. The bird began to call again and
drooped a wing to decoy me away. Half a minute's search and there was
the nest at my feet.

_Eggs._--The clutch consists of four eggs normally, blunt pyriform in
shape with slight gloss. Walter describes the ground as pale yellowish
white with greenish tinge and large and small blackish-brown spots, more
confluent at large end. There are also a few pale violet-gray shell
marks. They are snipelike in character, and the markings are rich and
handsome, sometimes ranging to deep rufous brown in color. Their small
size, combined with bold type of markings, renders them readily
recognizable. The measurements of 20 eggs average 36.26 by 25.67
millimeters, the eggs showing the four extremes measure =39.6= by 25.6,
37.5 by =26.4=, =33.3= by 25.3, and 36.6 by =25= millimeters.

_Incubation._--The bird which Popham shot from the eggs was a female,
but both males and females were obtained from the nests by the Russian
ornithologists, so that apparently the duty is shared by both sexes.

_Plumages._--The molts and plumages are fully described in "A Practical
Handbook of British Birds," edited by H. F. Witherby (1920), to which
the reader is referred.

_Food._--On its breeding grounds the main food of this species consists
of insects. Cordeaux has found remains of Coleoptera and Diptera and
their larvae in stomachs. Worms are also freely taken, but on migration
it is a coastal species and subsists chiefly on marine forms, such as
the small crustacea (Gammaridae) which are found in vast numbers on the
shore, minute mollusca, and vegetable matter.

_Behavior._--Even in the breeding season this species shows signs of a
sociable disposition, several pairs breeding frequently at no great
distance apart. When the young are fledged they assemble in flocks
before leaving for the south and during the winter months may be found
on the mud flats of our estuaries and flat coasts, as well as
occasionally on reservoirs and sewage farms inland. During the breeding
season it appears to be a silent bird, only a shrill alarm note,
_wick-wick-wick_, being noted, while the shore haunting flocks keep up a
long twitter.

_Fall._--The migrations of this species are very extensive, reaching
over practically the whole of the Old World. To the British Isles it is
a passage migrant, arriving from the end of July to late October and
occasionally November. In Denmark the old birds are said to arrive in
August and the birds of the year in September, leaving in
September-October. On the shores of the Baltic it occurs commonly, but
seems to avoid the extreme west of Europe on its way south, though
passing Tangier in September and occurring in small numbers in Portugal.
It is also met with on passage in all the Mediterranean countries, as
well as north Africa and passes the Canaries on migration. It ranges on
the west side of Africa to Gaboon, Liberia, the Gold Coast, Princes
Island, Loango, and south to Cape Province. While on the east side it is
recorded from the Nile Valley, the Red Sea, Sudan, Mozambique, Zanzibar,
Nyassaland, Madagascar, etc., and it occurs regularly on Mauritius. In
Asia it ranges across the continent to the Indian Ocean, the Mekran
coast, Sind, Yarkand, India, Ceylon, the Andamans Nicobars, Burmese
coast, Malacca Peninsula, Hainan, Formosa, and East China. Further, it
has been recorded from the Malay Archipelago, Java, Borneo, New Guinea,
the Philippines, Moluccas, and has also been found in Australia (West
Australia and New South Wales), Tasmania, and New Zealand. In America
there are two Canadian records, one from Toronto and one from Nova
Scotia; while in the Eastern States it has occurred in Maine,
Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Long Island, and has been recorded from
Grenada and Carriacou, Lesser Antilles, and also in Patagonia. In Alaska
it has once been obtained at Point Barrow.


_Breeding range._--The supposed instances of breeding in western
Greenland are now discredited, and the only definitely known breeding
places are in eastern Siberia, from the delta of the Yenesei to latitude
74° on the Taimyr Peninsula and northward, as well as on the Liakhof
Isles and other islands of the New Siberian group.

_Spring migration._--Dates: Rio de Oro (N. W. Africa), April 27;
Gibraltar, April 24; Egypt, May 8; Barcelona and Santander, May; Malaga,
May 9; Corsica, May 7, 8, and 16; Italy, April 1-June 5: Malta, May 7,
12, 13, 27; Greece, April 15, 28, but chiefly May; Corfu, passage lasts
till end of May; Transylvania, May 29; Cyprus, May 20, 24; Lake Baikal,
May; Allaliabad, May 17; Amoy, China, May 16; Archangel, June 18;
Boganida River, May 27; arrives North Taimyr, June 4.

_Fall migration._--Dates: Belfast, Ireland, August 25 to end of
September; Portugal, September; Italy, September 15-October 30; Cyprus,
September 2; Greece, arrives September; Tangier, September; Yarkand,
August-September; Karachi, September; Gilgit, August-September;
Selangor, August; Mergui Archipelago, November 6; Ceylon, October; Lower
Pegu, August; Transvaal, November 24; Natal, October 18.

_Casual records._--Aldabra Island, Madagascar, November 6; Madeira,
April 30, September 22 and October 7 and November 27. New Zealand,
Canterbury, February 3, 1902; April 5, 1903 (2); Otago, March, 1903;
Grenada (Wells); Bering Island (Steller). There are several records for
this species for North America, some dating back to the earlier days of
American ornithology. In some cases the details are indefinite and can
not be considered as absolutely trustworthy. Among the occurrences
recorded are: Lesser Antilles, Grenada (Cory, 1892), and Carriacou
(Clark, 1905); New Jersey, Great Egg Harbor, two in the spring of 1829,
Long Beach, Barnegat Bay, July 29, 1904, and Tuckerton and Cape May
(Stone, according to C. C. Abbott, 1868); New York, nearly a dozen
specimens at Fulton market secured on Long Island (Giraud, 1844), Long
Island (?) June 9, 1891; Shinnecock Bay, May 24, 1883; Connecticut, near
Hartford, October 3, 1859, New Haven, August 30, 1886, and June, 1874;
Massachusetts, Cape Ann, fall of 1865, East Boston, early May, 1866,
Nahant, about 1869, Ipswich, about 1875, Cape Cod, about May 10, 1878,
and Chatham, August 26, 1889; Maine, Scarboro, September 9, 1875 (?),
and Pine Point, September 15, 1881; New Brunswick, Grand Manan; Nova
Scotia, Halifax, October, 1864, and September, 1868; Ontario, Toronto,
about 1886 (Fleming); and Alaska, Point Barrow, June 6, 1883.

_Egg dates._--Full clutches on North Taimyr, June 24; Liakhof Isles,
June 24; Taimyr, July 1 (incubated) and July 6 (fresh); Yenesei delta,
July 3 and July 7.




This unique little sandpiper has a very restricted breeding range in
extreme northeastern Siberia, whence it migrates to southern Asia and
wanders very rarely to extreme northwestern Alaska. Joseph Dixon (1918)
says: "There are but three specimens claimed to have been taken in North
America, as far as known to the author, with some doubt attached to the
locality of capture of one of these." He has shown that the bird
supposed to have been taken on the Choris Peninsula, Kotzebue Sound,
Alaska, by Captain Moore, of the British ship "Plover," was really taken
in northeastern Asia in 1849, and that no authentic record for North
America has been established since that time until 1914. He says

     The only well-established occurrence of the spoonbilled sandpiper
     in America is that vouched for by Fred Granville, of Los Angeles,
     California, who, on August 15, 1914, took two specimens at
     Wainwright Inlet, on the Arctic coast of Alaska. One of these
     specimens, a female, is now number 3552 in the collection of A. B.
     Howell, of Covina, California, while the other, a male, is number
     1698 in the collection of G. Willett, of Los Angeles.

Referring to the capture of these two birds, he quotes from Mr.
Granville's letter of January 9, 1918, as follows:

     On August 15, 1914, I and my assistant hiked back of Wainwright to
     what I judged to be a distance of about 10 miles, traveling in a
     northerly direction. The tundra where I found the spoonbills was
     interlaced as far as the eye could see with little lagoons and long
     channels of water, and in this territory I collected the two
     spoonbills. These birds were shot out of a flock of possibly 10. I
     followed them for about an hour before I could get a shot at them.
     The birds would run along the tundra en masse and were undoubtedly
     gleaning food from the moss. The minute they would catch sight of
     me they would fly out of shotgun range. There were about six birds
     that looked to me through field glasses to be in markedly different
     plumage from the birds I shot. These six birds, immature as I
     supposed, seemed to be of a solid color, and that a dark gray. On
     the first shot fired, with which I got two, the birds flew across a
     lake and I lost track of them, though I spent four or five hours
     looking for some more. I believe that these birds breed in the
     neighborhood of Wainwright and hope that at some close future date
     some one will bear out my statement.

_Spring._--There is an adult male in nuptial plumage in the British
Museum, which was taken at Shanghai, China, in April. The only other
information we have about the spring migration is the following brief
statement by Dr. E. W. Nelson (1883):

     On the northeast coast of Siberia Nordenskiold records this bird as
     occurring in such numbers that on two occasions in spring it was
     served upon their mess table on board the "Vega" while they were
     lying frozen in at their winter quarters. It arrived in spring at
     Tapkau, with the first bare spots, early in June, and disappeared
     in July. To the westward, in the same vicinity, during the summer
     of 1881, I saw several of these birds, and at Plover Bay, on the
     Bering Sea shore of the same coast, secured a fine adult female in
     breeding plumage, taken on June 26. Nothing peculiar was observed
     in its habits, and I approached the bird without difficulty or its
     showing the slightest concern as it stood on the flat at that
     place. The bird was first seen feeding in the shallow water at the
     edge of a pool, and then stood with its head drawn back and without
     paying the slightest attention to me until it was shot.

_Courtship._--Mr. Dixon (1918) has made a thorough study of this species
and has given us a fine account of its interesting song flight,
illustrated by a diagram, from which I quote, as follows:

     The song and nuptial flight of the male spoonbill, attractive as
     they were to the collector, in sight of such rare birds at last,
     were as elusive as a will-o'-the-wisp. In fact we were never able
     to locate a female spoonbill on the nest, and I have always
     believed that our lack of success in this regard was due to the
     warning given by the male. Upon approaching the nest site, while we
     were yet afar off, we were greeted by the male in full song. This
     song, ventriloquial, pulsating, and cicadalike in quality, seemed
     to come first from one and then from another point in the heaven
     above. Sometimes we searched the sky altogether in vain, but
     usually the bird was discovered in rapid flight at an altitude of
     two or three hundred feet above the earth. The nuptial flight
     consists of momentary poises alternating with rapid dips. When the
     bird hovers or poises, the rapid beating of the wings is
     accompanied by a fine, rhythmical, pulsating, buzzing trill,
     _zee-e-e, zee-e-e, zee-e-e_, rapidly repeated. Following this the
     bird approaches the intruder, swinging down in a sharp curve until
     10 feet lower than the previous hovering point, where he again
     poises on rapidly beating wings, pouring forth anew his insistent,
     musical trill. After repeating this performance four or five times
     the songster sweeps down in a long graceful curve until he almost
     touches the earth near his brooding mate, then curving off, he
     turns and rises rapidly and almost perpendicularly until almost out
     of sight. From this new point of vantage the whole performance is
     repeated. After four or five such excursions, in each of which the
     intruder is approached from a different direction, the guardian of
     the nest descends by raising his wings nearly vertically until they
     form in anterior outline the letter V. The bird thus gliding on
     motionless wings drops lightly but quickly to earth, uttering the
     _zee-e-e_ in a richer yet more subdued tone. As soon as he touches
     the earth the song ceases and the silent bird trots quietly off
     over the moss, where his trim form blends with the lichen and mossy
     tussocks, so that, upon remaining motionless, he disappears with
     amazing rapidity. Time and time again we thus lost sight of the
     birds, which we later discovered by the aid of binoculars to be
     standing or squatting motionless within 50 feet of us. Although
     this "fading out" method of exit is commonly employed by many shore
     birds, in the case of the spoonbilled sandpiper it seems to have
     been developed to an extreme degree.

_Nesting._--To F. E. Kleinschmidt is due the credit for finding the
first nest of the spoonbill sandpiper near Cape Serdze, northeastern
Siberia, on July 15, 1910. The nest and the four eggs, which were nearly
hatched, are now in the collection of Col. John E. Thayer. The following
extract from Captain Kleinschmidt's letter in regard to it was published
by Colonel Thayer (1911):

     I was in hopes that I could get five or six clutches of the
     spoonbills, so I took all kinds of chances with my boat in the ice
     on the Siberian coast. I found, however, but one set of eggs and
     they were just ready to hatch. The male is the parent bird of the
     eggs, but the female belongs to neither eggs nor downies, simply
     because the habits of this sandpiper are similar to those of the
     phalarope. The male has to stay at home, keep house, and attend to
     the young, while the female thinks she has done all that is
     necessary by merely fulfilling the duties nature demands of her,
     namely, the laying of the eggs. I shot the female in close
     proximity of the nest, but we never found a female with the
     downies. It was always the male. Although our observations were
     limited to but a few, still I believe the male solely attends to
     the hatching and the rearing of the young. The female also is
     larger than the male. The nest as well as the downies were found on
     the gentle slope of the tundra, bordering small fresh-water ponds.
     The nest was a rounded hollow in the moss, thickly lined with dry
     willow leaves. The downies blend so perfectly with the color of the
     moss that the closest scrutiny will scarcely reveal their hiding

Mr. Dixon (1918) found a nest, with two fresh eggs, near Providence Bay,
Siberia, on June 22, 1913, and one, with three young just hatched, near
Cape Serdze, on July 17, 1913. Regarding his experience with it, he

     The two nests of this bird that came under the author's observation
     were discovered through flushing the brooding male. The birds were
     very shy, and as there was no cover other than a thin growth of
     grass about 6 inches high approach by stealth was difficult. The
     birds usually sneaked off while the observer was 40 or 50 yards
     distant, and in order to find the nest it was necessary to hide, as
     best one could, near the place where the sandpiper had flushed,
     until it returned again to the nest. In one instance a depression
     partly filled with water was the only available hiding place.
     Fortunately for the watcher the water was not cold and the male
     bird returned in 12 minutes to the nest, which contained two
     _fresh_ eggs. The nest of this sandpiper was found to be merely a
     cavity scratched out among the dead grass blades. It was a shallow
     affair placed where the grass grew thickest. On June 22, 1913, at
     Providence Bay, the writer witnessed the construction of a nest
     from a distance of about 40 feet. The bird, a male, scratched and
     then picked at the dead and matted grass blades and moss until he
     had dug out quite a hole. Then he squatted down in the depression
     and twisted about, pressing against the moss that formed the sides
     of the nest, until a cavity about 3-1/2 inches in diameter and an
     inch deep was formed. Dead leaves from a creeping Arctic willow
     that grew in the moss near-by were used to line the nest.

There are two sets of eggs, one of three and one of two, in the United
States National Museum, taken by Louis L. Lane, at Cape Serdze in June,
1912, but no further data came with them.

_Eggs._--The small sets referred to above were probably incomplete;
doubtless four eggs is the normal set. The six eggs in the Thayer
collection are subpyriform in shape and have a slight gloss. The ground
color is uniform in all of them; it is between "cinnamon buff" and "dark
olive buff," or a warm shade of the latter. Three eggs are finely
speckled all over, only a little more thickly at the larger end, with
light browns, "tawny" and "snuff brown"; one egg is heavily blotched at
the larger end with "Verona brown" and "warm sepia," and only sparingly
spotted elsewhere.

J. H. Riley tells me that the eggs taken by Louis Lane vary in ground
color from a warm tint of "dark olive buff" to "deep olive buff." The
set of two is rather evenly but not heavily marked over the surface with
small blotches, dots, and scrawls of two shades of "bister," with a few
shell markings of "drab" here and there over the surface. One egg of the
set has the "bister" markings larger and thicker on the large end. The
other set has the spots larger and heavier at the large end, and in two
eggs they are darker, "clove brown" or even "blackish brown." The shape
is subpyriform.

The measurements of these 11 eggs average 30.4 by 21.8 millimeters; the
eggs showing the four extremes measure =33= by 22.8, 30.5 by =23.3=,
=28.7= by 20.8, and 29.3 by =20.3= millimeters.

_Young._--Regarding incubation and care of the young, Mr. Dixon (1918)

     Regarding the time required for incubation, we have only
     circumstantial evidence to offer, but our observations lead us to
     believe that about 18 or 20 days elapse between the time the last
     egg is laid and the first young hatched. The most striking fact in
     the domestic life of the spoonbilled sandpiper is that the major
     portion of the household duties, aside from the actual laying of
     the eggs, is performed by the male and not the female bird. In
     addition to our own observations, Kleinschmidt also has found this
     to be the case. In the author's experience, none of the several
     females taken were found on or within 50 feet of the nest. It is
     possible, however, that they may have been warned by the male birds
     and had sneaked off before we were close enough to detect their
     leaving. In the unequal division of domestic duties conditions
     among the spoonbills are similar to those among the phalaropes,
     where the male, after he has been courted and won by the larger and
     more brilliant female, takes upon himself almost all of the
     household cares. However, in the case of the spoonbilled sandpiper
     there is nothing to show that the female does the courting,
     although she is the larger of the two. The female spoonbill is thus
     seemingly content to merely lay the eggs, while she lets the male
     build the nest, incubate the eggs, and take care of the young. In
     corroboration of the latter statements, the author observed a male
     bird building a nest at Providence Bay, Siberia, June 22, 1913;
     another male was flushed repeatedly from a nest containing two
     fresh eggs near the same place, on the same day, while a third male
     was found tending three downy young at Cape Serdze, Siberia, on
     July 17, 1913.

     On July 17, 1913, at Cape Serdze, Siberia, while strolling along
     the spongy green turf beside a fresh-water pond, my attention was
     attracted by the "broken wing" antics of a spoonbilled sandpiper.
     Although my eyes remained "glued" on the spot from which the bird
     arose, no nest or sign of young could be found when I reached the
     place. Soon a second bird, presumably the female, arrived on the
     scene. Both appeared much concerned, and from their actions I felt
     sure that there were young near by. A careful search of the short
     grass, which was not over 2 inches high, failed to reveal any
     living creature. I therefore retired to a grassy mound about 20
     yards away and awaited developments. Both parent birds, giving
     their alarm notes, circled about overhead, where they were soon
     joined by a pair each of Eastern least and Temminck's stints. The
     two pairs of stints were later found to have broods of downy young
     in the grass on the opposite shore of the lagoon near by. Soon both
     spoonbills flew off across the lagoon and disappeared, but the male
     returned promptly, alighting quietly near the margin of the pond.
     Here he stood motionless for nearly a minute, and then trotted
     through the grass directly to the spot from which I had first
     flushed him. At this point he stood still for another full minute,
     during which time he looked all around, seemingly to make sure that
     the coast was clear. Having satisfied himself that no active enemy
     was in sight he stepped forward and bending over uttered a soft
     call in a low tone, _plee-plee-plee_. This call was repeated a
     second time, and instantly there arose directly in front of him a
     tiny mouse-like brown form, seemingly rising from out of the very
     ground. With tottering unsteady steps the downy young sandpiper
     stumbled and fell toward the parent, who continued calling and
     encouraging it. Upon my sudden appearance the old bird gave a quick
     warning note and at this signal the youngster squatted motionless
     with neck stretched forward on the ground. Although I knew the
     exact spot where it disappeared, it was some time before I was able
     to locate the tiny form, so well did it blend with the clump of
     reddish moss upon which it had squatted. A careful search revealed
     no other young sandpipers, so I returned to my hiding place. This
     time I had to wait longer for the male to return, and while I was
     waiting a second sandpiper, which I believed to be the female,
     arrived but did not go near or call the young. Two or three minutes
     elapsed this time between the return of the male and the giving of
     the low call notes, when, as before, another downy young quickly
     arose at the signal and toddled over to its parent. After this
     second experience I was forced to change my hiding place, as the
     male sandpiper refused to return to the young until I moved. He
     seemed much concerned upon this last visit, probably realizing that
     it was high time the young should be hovered and warmed.

     I could not understand why all the young had not risen at once in
     answer to the parent's call, but I noticed that he had in each case
     gone up to within less than two feet of the one in hiding, and then
     with lowered head facing the chick, gave the call note. In each
     case it was the youngster thus directly addressed that responded to
     the signal and arose. The note of the young was a low rusty squeak,
     scarcely audible to human ears. It was very similar to the note of
     the young semipalmated sandpiper. As far as my observations went,
     there was no attempt on the part of the parent to feed the young,
     and it is my belief that from the time they are hatched the young
     spoonbills hunt their own food. The exercise thus gained was found
     in the case of young semipalmated sandpipers to be essential to the
     health of the chicks. In addition to keeping warm by running about
     the young spoonbills are hovered and warmed at regular intervals by
     the parent. The brood mentioned above had survived a fairly severe
     snowstorm on the preceding day.

_Plumages._--The most remarkable thing about the downy young spoonbill
sandpiper is the well developed spoon-shaped bill, even when first
hatched. As will be seen by referring to Colonel Thayer's (1911)
excellent colored plate, this is much shorter than the adult bill and
the spatulate tip is more oval. The crown, back, rump, wings, and thighs
are variegated with black, white, "ochraceous tawny" and paler buffs,
dotted with white terminal tufts on the head, which form two white
stripes from the eyes to the nape, and dotted with both white and buff
tufts on the back and rump; the forehead, a superciliary stripe, the
sides of the head, the throat, and the neck are "warm buff"; the rest of
the under parts are white; a median frontal stripe, a loral stripe, and
a malar spot are black.

The juvenal plumage I have never seen. Birds collected on the southward
migration are apparently all in winter plumages; young birds are
distinguishable from adults at this age. For descriptions of first
winter and subsequent plumages I would refer the reader to Ridgway's
Birds of North and Middle America. I have not studied sufficient
material to work out the seasonal molts, but they are apparently similar
to those of other small sandpipers of the genus _Pisobia_.

_Food._--The food of the spoonbill sandpiper seems not to have been
definitely determined, but Mr. Dixon (1918) watched a pair feeding, of
which he says:

     Our observations disclosed no peculiar advantage attending the
     singular shape of this sandpiper's bill, though careful watch was
     kept to see just how this member was used. On July 17, 1913, a pair
     of spoonbilled sandpipers was watched for half an hour as the two
     birds fed within 50 feet of the observer, concealed behind a sandy
     dune. Their favorite feeding ground was a fresh-water pond with a
     fringe of green algae about the sandy border. Under these
     conditions the birds used their bills, as any other sandpipers
     would, as probes to pick out insects or larvae from the algae.
     Occasionally one would hesitate a moment, when the vascular tip of
     the mandible quivered slightly as though the bird were straining
     something out of the green algae. At this time the bill was held at
     nearly right angles to the surface of the water; it was never used
     as a scoop along the surface.

_Behavior._--I must again quote from Mr. Dixon (1918), who has furnished
most of our information about this little known species. Referring to
behavior and recognition marks he writes:

     In color, size, and actions the spoonbilled sandpiper closely
     resembles the Eastern least stint (_Pisobia minuta ruficollis_),
     the marked similarity between them resulting in both the author and
     his fellow collector W. S. Brooks, failing to distinguish between
     the two species until June 20, after we had been among them for
     some days. Although the spatulate tip of this bird's bill is very
     noticeable when viewed from directly above or below, it is not a
     character which can be advantageously used to identify the species
     in the field, for the simple reason that in nearly all close views
     of the living bird only lateral or frontal aspects of the bill are
     obtained. Even when a bird was feeding, and the bill was observed
     under the most favorable conditions, the peculiar shape was not
     nearly as conspicuous as one would expect. In the author's
     experience, the most reliable method of identifying the bird in the
     field was by noting the glint of light that was reflected from the
     broad tip of the upper mandible when the sunlight struck the bill
     at a certain angle. Even in flight the bird could often be
     identified by this faint beam of reflected light. We found that the
     sandpiper had a decided preference for the grassy margins of
     fresh-water ponds, while single birds were frequently found feeding
     along the algae-bordered rims of tundra pools. Sandy lagoons where
     rivers entered the bay were favored by them as well.

_Fall._--The same writer outlines the fall migration, based on birds in
the British Museum, as follows:

     An adult male, still in summer plumage, was taken August 8, at the
     mouth of the Amur River in southwestern Russia. An immature was
     secured on October 8 at Hakodadi (Hakodate), Japan, while an adult
     female was collected at Rangoon, India, on December 1.

_Winter._--In their winter home in India, according to Doctor Nelson
(1887) "these birds frequent the muddy flats at the mouths of rivers,
sand bars, and the seashore, where, with the various species of
_Tringa_, they always find an abundant harvest of food deposited by the
receding tide."


_Range._--Eastern Siberia, south in winter to southern China and India;
casual in Alaska.

_Breeding range._--The spoonbilled sandpiper has been found breeding
only along the Arctic coast of northeast Siberia (Cape Wankarem,
Pithkaj, Cape Serdze, near Koliuchin Island, and Providence Bay).

_Winter range._--The winter range of this species appears to be mainly
on the coasts of India (Rangoon, Akyab, Tenasserim, and the Arakan

_Migration._--Specimens have been collected at Shanghai, China, in April
and it seems to arrive on its breeding grounds early in June (Emma
Harbor, Siberia, June 6). An early date of fall arrival is indicated by
a specimen from the mouth of the Amur River, southwestern Russia, taken
on August 8, while a late date of fall departure is October 8, at
Hakodadi, Japan.

_Casual records._--A specimen of this sandpiper has been reported as
taken on the Choris Peninsula, Alaska, in 1849 (Harting, 1871), but
subsequent investigation (Dixon, 1918) indicates that the bird was
probably taken on the Siberian side of Bering Strait. Two specimens
were, however, taken near Wainwright Inlet, on August 15, 1914 (Dixon,

_Egg dates._--Siberia: 2 records, June 22 and July 15.




_Contributed by Charles Wendell Townsend_

This little sandy colored sandpiper, appropriately called the "sand
peep," seems most at home on the sea beaches, but it also frequents the
sand flats of tidal estuaries, and to a less extent, the salt marshes,
and is even found on the shores of inland lakes during the migrations.

_Courtship._--Although I have never seen this bird on its northern
breeding grounds, I have been so fortunate as to have heard many times
the courtship song during the migrations on the New England coast, and
to have witnessed some, at least, of its posturing on the ground. This
sandpiper is more of a musician than the least, and his song is well
worth hearing. I can but repeat what I have already published on the
subject (1905):

     Rising on quivering wings to about 30 feet from the ground, the
     bird advances with rapid wing beats, curving the pinions strongly
     downward, pouring forth a succession of musical notes--a continuous
     quavering trill--and ending with a few very sweet notes that recall
     those of a goldfinch. He then descends to the ground where one may
     be lucky enough, if near at hand, to hear a low musical _cluck_
     from the excited bird. This is, I suppose, the full love flight
     song, and is not often heard in its entirety, but the first
     quavering trill is not uncommon, a single bird or member of a flock
     singing this as he flies over.

Dr. Joseph Grinnell (1900) writes as follows of this species at Cape
Blossom, Alaska, in July:

     A few were to be found in the Interior on damp, grassy flats, but
     the strip of low meadow bordering the lagoon back of the mission
     was by far the most popular resort. Here the grass was short and
     smooth as a lawn, with occasional narrow branches from the main
     slough cutting their way back toward the higher ground. In one part
     of this stretch of tide flats the sandpipers were so numerous that
     as many as a dozen pairs were in sight at once, and their
     twittering notes were to be heard on all sides. They were flying
     back and forth over the meadows chasing one another, with shrill,
     rolling notes uttered so continuously as to become almost inaudible
     from their monotony. At times in an individual case this trilling
     would become so intensified as to remind one of the shrill notes of
     the white throated swift.

Joseph Dixon (1917_a_), writing of a bird that sang at an elevation of
about 50 feet above the nest says: "His song seemed to come from every
direction, and this illusion was difficult to account for even by the
unusual location of the songster." Whether the _whinny_ heard from
birds, many of which are posturing on the sand is a modification of the
nuptial song or rather a partial reproduction of it, I do not know, but
I am inclined to think it is. Many of these musicians appear on close
scrutiny to be young birds, which would explain the imperfection of the
song. The posturing is often in the nature of mock fighting--I have
never seen any real blows exchanged--when two, facing each other, crouch
almost flat on the sand, and then suddenly spring at each other with
wings outspread. Again, two would slowly walk toward each other with
neck and body almost touching the ground and with head up. This act is
often performed with tail cocked up over the back, displaying a white
triangle of tail coverts, and every now and then the birds would run at
each other with outspread wings. All birds acting thus appeared to be
uttering a series of rolling notes, which, emitted from a number of
birds scattered over the flats, produces a considerable volume of sound.
I have described this partial song as a _whinny_, and have tried to
reduce it to syllables--_eh, eh, eh_, or _what-er, what-er_.

Lucien M. Turner in his Ungava notes records two individuals that "ran
back and forth, uttering a purring twitter, holding their wings over
their back with the head and neck depressed, while the posterior portion
of the body was somewhat elevated. The throat was at times inflated and
at other times every feather of the body was nearly reversed, presenting
a strange sight."

Herbert W. Brandt supplies the following from observations in Alaska:

     The semipalmated sandpiper flies high into the air, often almost
     out of sight, and pours forth a sustained tinkling song, which
     sounds like its native name uttered as a high-pitched
     trill--"la-v-la-v-la-v." As it sings it rapidly fans the air with
     short wing beats, at the same time moving at considerable speed
     continuously back and forth over a distance of 50 yards or more.
     Four of the birds which I took to be males were rather noisy,
     twittering, and purling, and occasionally one of them rushed at
     another as if he seriously intended to wage mortal combat. The
     feathers on his dainty neck stood out in an angered ruff; his wings
     were half spread, showing their light markings; and when the little
     warrior was just about to strike he folded his wings and elevated
     his tail until it was almost vertical above his long wing tips.
     There was, however, no real fight, for each one seemed to know his
     superior and gave way, after a little display, like a weaker
     rooster in a well-regulated barnyard.

_Nesting._--H. W. Brandt contributes the following:

     The semipalmated sandpiper nests amid the short herbage on the
     grassy dunes near the moaning breakers of Point Dall, where it
     selects a site quite exposed to view. Among the creeping berry
     vines the bird simply scratches a depression in the sand, and this
     it lines with a few disconnected grass stems, stiff moss stems, and
     a handful of tiny, crisp-dried leaves of the cranberry, willow, or
     dwarf birch. The range of measurements of five nests is: Inside
     diameter, 2 to 2-1/2 inches; inside depth, 1-1/2 to 2 inches; total
     depth, 2-1/2 to 3-1/4 inches. The nest is very fragile and breaks
     up at once if disturbed. Like all shore birds that nest in the
     open, the brooding bird is anything but a close sitter, and in
     consequence the nest must be found by diligent search. An
     incubating female was collected as it departed from the nest.

Roderick Macfarlane, who found many nests of this species in the Barren
Grounds, describes two of them as follows:

     Nest was found between two small lakes--a few withered grasses and
     leaves in a shallow hole or depression, partly shaded from view by
     a tuft of grass. The nest was a mere depression in the midst of
     some hay and lined therewith, as well as with a few withered

Winthrop Sprague Brooks (1915) relates his experience in Alaska as

     Thirteen nests were found, the first, a set of three fresh eggs,
     being taken on June 12. All the nests were essentially alike--mere
     cavities in damp tundra close to a pool, and lined with dry willow
     leaves. On seven nests the female was found, and the male on six.
     Although the male seems to take about an equal share in brooding on
     the eggs and taking care of the young, I could not see that he did
     this at any particular time, for I could find either sex on the
     nest at midnight or midday. Neither sex showed any more concern
     than the other when an intruder was at the nest. In most cases the
     bird disturbed would flutter along a few yards and then remain
     walking quietly and watching. On one occasion a female made a great
     disturbance. Semipalmated sandpipers on the breeding ground are the
     most gentle and interesting birds of the North.

_Eggs._--[_Author's note_: Four eggs seems to be the invariable rule
with the semipalmated sandpiper. They are usually ovate pyriform in
shape with a tendency to become subpyriform. The shell is somewhat
glossy. The eggs can not with certainty be distinguished from those of
the least sandpiper on one hand or the western sandpiper on the other
hand; the measurements overlap with both and the colors and markings
intergrade with both. I have 11 sets of semipalmated, and I can match
nearly every one of them with sets from my series of the other two
species. In series, however, they much more closely resemble the least

Herbert W. Brandt has sent me a description of his sets taken in Alaska,
which are probably of the normal type, as follows:

     In the six sets before me the ground color is uniformly dull white
     and is conspicuous. The markings are bold and individual, with most
     of them round instead of elongate, although there is a slight
     spiral tendency. These spots are dark, ranging from "claret brown"
     to "burnt lake," producing a deep red effect when examined in
     series. The underlying spots are numerous and rather conspicuous,
     due to the whitish ground color. They shade from "light Quaker
     drab" to "Quaker drab."

Less than half of my sets, all from Alaska, would fit his description;
the ground colors in most of mine vary from "pale olive buff" to "olive
buff"; in some it is "deep olive buff," and in one "Isabella color." The
colors of the markings run from "liver brown" to "chestnut brown" in the
darkest and from "hazel" to "cinnamon brown" in the lightest. There are
comparatively few underlying drab markings. The eggs show the same
variations in shape and arrangement of markings as eggs of the least
sandpiper. I have two sets from Point Barrow, taken with the parent
bird, which are almost exactly like eggs of the western sandpiper in
color and style of markings but smaller, and several other sets
approaching them in appearance. There are 10 sets of eggs in the Museum
of Comparative Zoology in Cambridge collected by W. Sprague Brooks near
Demarcation Point, Alaska, with the parent bird in each case. Three of
these are of the western sandpiper type, and three others are similarly
marked with different shades of brown. The measurements of 52 eggs
average 30.2 by 21.2 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes
measure =32= by 21, 30 by =22=, =27.7= by 21.3, and 31.5 by =20=

_Young._--According to Mr. Dixon (1917_a_), incubation lasts 17 days. It
is performed equally by the male and female, as is shown by Mr. Brooks's
very conclusive report quoted above. Mr. Dixon (1917_a_), writing of
birds observed in Alaska says the young so exactly match the
surroundings that they are invisible at 3 feet. He relates the case of a
snowy owl that sailed from its perch in the direction of a brood of
young which flattened and froze obedient to the alarm cry of the mother.
The owl poised directly over them, but evidently failed to see them and
flew away. On another occasion two parasitic jaegers flew by; the young
flattened, and all escaped but one that began to move before the second
jaeger had passed and was promptly snapped up.

He says:

     It was found that the parents made no effort to feed the young. It
     was soon seen, however, that such care was not necessary. The young
     would stumble about and pick up minute gnats and flies with great
     dexterity, and the shallow algae-rimmed pools furnished them many a
     juicy "wriggler." The gait of the young sandpipers was a stumbling
     toddle, while their large feet and legs were all out of proportion
     to the rest of their slender bodies. By dropping and extending
     their wings they were able to use them as crutches, which often
     kept them from falling.

In about a month they were fully fledged, and a week later the
sandpipers were leaving for the south.

_Plumages._--[_Author's note_: In natal down the young semipalmated most
closely resembles the young western sandpiper, but it is generally
paler, with less brown or rufous. The forehead, sides of the head, and
all under parts are white, faintly washed on the cheeks and upper breast
with pale buff; a median stripe on the forehead, reaching only halfway
to the bill, a broad loral stripe, and a malar spot are black; there is
a black spot in the center of the crown, broken by a few very small
white dots, surrounded by "hazel" and bordered with black; a short
stripe over the eye and an auricular patch are black and "hazel" mixed;
between these and the crown patch there is a broad band of white dots,
terminal tufts; the back, rump, wings, and thighs are variegated "hazel"
and black, with numerous small white dots, terminal tufts. The bill is
broad at the tip.

Young birds are in juvenal plumage when they reach the United States on
the fall migration. They can be distinguished from adults by the buffy
edgings above and by the absence of dusky streaks on the throat and
upper breast. The feathers of the crown are edged with sandy buff and
those of the back and scapulars with "ochraceous buff" or creamy white;
the wing coverts are edged with pale buff; the upper breast is washed
with buff and the rest of the under parts are white. This plumage is
partially molted during September and October, producing a first winter
plumage, which is like the adult winter plumage, except for the juvenal
wing coverts, some scapulars, and a few body feathers, which are
retained. At the first prenuptial molt, the next spring, young birds
become practically adult.

Adults have a complete molt from July to November, the body plumage
being molted first and the wings last, the latter sometimes not until
winter. Their partial prenuptial molt involves the body plumage,
sometimes the tail and some wing coverts; it begins in February and
lasts into May. The freshly molted spring plumage, in early May, has a
"drab-gray" appearance, due to broad drab-gray tips on the feathers of
the mantle; these tips soon wear away, revealing the bright colors of
the nuptial plumage before the end of May.]

_Food._--I have recorded the following found by me in the stomachs of
this species taken on the New England coast; insects of various kinds,
including beetles, small mollusks (_Littorina_), worms and crustaceans
(_Gammarus orchestia_), bits of seaweed and sand. Dr. Alexander Wetmore
(1916) records the contents of six stomachs from birds taken in Porto
Rico in August; 99.16 per cent was animal matter, 0.84 per cent
vegetable matter.

     Beetles, bugs, fly pupae, and small mollusks form the bulk of the
     food. Small water scavenger beetles (_Hydrophilidae_) were found in
     four stomachs and amount to 27 per cent. Two ground beetles
     (_Bembidium_ sp.) amount to 5 per cent and miscellaneous beetles to
     3.34 per cent. One bird had eaten nothing but four back swimmers
     (_Notonecta_ sp.), and these made 16.66 per cent. Fly pupae figure
     largely in two stomachs, forming 21.66 per cent of the total, and
     snails (_Planorbis_ sp.) 13 per cent, while miscellaneous animal
     matter amounts to 12.50 per cent. The small quantity of vegetable
     matter present was rubbish. The numbers of Diptera eaten speak well
     for this sandpiper.

Preble and McAtee (1923) found in the stomach of a bird shot in the
Pribilof Islands "remains of the beach beetle (_Aegialites
californicus_), 10 per cent; fragments of small flies (Diptera), 85 per
cent; and two seeds (not identified), 5 per cent."

Arthur H. Howell (1924) says, "Two stomachs of these birds from Alabama
contained the remains of small mollusks, fly larvae and beetles. This
species is known to feed on marine worms and mosquitoes."

_Behavior._--Semipalmated sandpipers are fascinating birds to watch.
When feeding on the beaches, they run along in a scattered flock just
above the wave line, retreating rapidly as the wave advances, but
sometimes being forced to flutter above it, all the time eagerly seeking
for choice morsels. With head down, not held up as is the case with its
companions the semipalmated plovers, it runs along dabbling here and
there irregularly, and occasionally probing with its bill in the sand.
These probings are not so deep nor so systematic as those of the
sanderling, which makes a series of six to a dozen holes in succession
throwing up the sand on either side. In its greediness the semipalmated
sandpiper sometimes attempts to swallow too large a morsel for its small
round mouth, which is much out of proportion to the stretch of the end
of the bill, and many shakings of the head are needed to get a large
morsel past the sticking point. I have seen one try several times to
swallow a large beach flea (_Talorchestia megalophthalma_), and then fly
off with it in its bill.

On a rocky shore I have seen them hunting for insects at high tide on
the smooth rocks, and at low tide, running among the rocks covered with
seaweed (_Fucus vesiculsus_) and on the floating weed, fluttering their
wings from time to time to keep from sinking. Here they find plenty of
food in the small mollusks and crustaceans, _Littorina_ and _Gammarus_.
On an August day on the coast of Maine I saw one searching about on
floating rockweed several miles from land. Shore birds doubtless often
rest in this way in their long journeys over sea.

In flight, semipalmated sandpipers in flocks, large and small, often
move as one bird, twisting and turning with military precision,
alternately displaying their light breasts and darker backs--flashing
white and then almost disappearing. The method which enables shore
birds, or, indeed, any flocking bird, to accomplish these evolutions is
obscure. In the case of the semipalmated sandpiper these evolutions
appear often to be made in silence, although it is of course possible
that signals, not audible to the human observer, may be given. It has
been suggested that telepathy or even that "a common soul" dominating
the flock may be the interpretation, but both of these explanations are
at present, at least, outside of scientific ken. I have noticed that
birds who do not habitually execute evolutions, like English sparrows
and the young of those that are skillful in this direction when adult,
as for example, starlings, are much less proficient at this, and it
seems to me possible that the whole thing may be accounted for by
quickness of observation and of reaction, inherited and acquired.

Semipalmated sandpipers like other shore birds often stand on one leg
and even hop along on it in feeding and they also sleep in this
attitude. It is difficult to distinguish these from cripples, and one is
easily deceived; the cripples seem as happy and tireless in feeding as
the others.

William Brewster (1925) thus charmingly describes the habits of this
bird in the wet and soft ground at Lake Umbagog:

     Here they trot to and fro, almost as actively and ceaselessly as so
     many ants, picking up the inconspicuous worms or larvae from the
     surface of the ground and seeking them beneath it by thrusting down
     their sensitive bills quite to the nostrils, after the manner of
     boring snipe, but less quickly, vigorously, and persistently. They
     are also given to wading out into shallow water where they pull up
     good sized masses of aquatic plants, such as _Utricularia_. By
     shaking and piercing these with their bills they evidently obtain
     from them food of some kind, perhaps insect larvae or small

At high tide on the beaches, when the wet sand with its bountiful food
supply is covered, great flocks of this species, together with the least
sandpiper, the sanderling, and the semipalmated plover, often spend an
hour or more huddled together on the dry sand. Each species keeps more
or less separate. The birds generally face the wind, but sometimes they
arrange themselves in the lee of bits of driftwood or other
obstructions, and "tail out" down wind in long streamers as it were,
each sheltered by the one next to windward. They sleep standing on one
or both legs with the bill tucked under the feathers of the back--not
"under the wing" as in poems--or they squat down, resting their breasts
on the sand. They occasionally seem to yawn by stretching one wing over
a leg. They also spread both wings above the back as do many other shore
birds, and they flirt the bill nervously from side to side, to relieve
their ennui, perhaps shaking the head at the same time.

_Voice._--The varied courtship songs and notes have been described
above. Their call note, to my ears, is very much like that of the least
sandpiper, but shriller and less melodious. A harsh rasping note and a
peeping sound are also given and a low, rolling gossipy note is often
emitted when they approach other birds or decoys, a note that used to be
imitated with deadly effect by gunners. John T. Nichols (1920) says:

     The flight note of the semipalmated sandpiper is a rather loud
     "cherk," softer and less reedy than the analogous krieker "kerr."
     It is commonly modified to a softer "cher" or "che," which with
     much variation becomes the conversational twittering of members of
     a feeding flock. Soft short, snappy "chips" are characteristic of
     flocks maneuvering about decoys * * * Hurried cheeping notes
     ("ki-i-ip") on being flushed, are suggestive of the same note of
     the krieker.

_Field marks._--These have been discussed at length under least
sandpiper to which the reader is referred, but may be summed up here as
follows: a little larger than the least sandpiper, grayer, bill stouter
and straight, tarsi and feet black, semipalmated. The young can be
distinguished from the old in the field by their nearly white breasts
washed with a smoky tint. In the hand their tarsi are seen to be black
with a slight greenish hue.

_Game._--The fact that so many of these birds could be easily killed at
one shot, and the fact that they were so fat and palatable broiled or
cooked in a pie, made them always much sought after by the pot hunter.
As large shore birds grew scarcer and it became more and more difficult
for the gunner to fill his bag with them, "peep" shooting, even by
sportsmen, was in vogue. The Federal law has now wisely removed this
species from the list of game birds and prevented its extinction. The
bird has responded to this protection in a marked degree, and flocks of
500 or more are common and pleasing sights on our beaches where
one-tenth of this number was once rare.

The shooting of semipalmated sandpipers occurred largely on the beaches.
The gunner dug a hole in the sand, banked it up, and put brush and
driftwood, often reinforced with seaweed, on the ramparts. At a
convenient distance decoys of wood or tin were placed, arranged like a
flock of birds with their heads pointing to the wind. Occasionally large
clamshells were stuck in the sand, simulating very well a flock of peep.
Much depended on the skill of the gunner in calling down the birds as
they flew along, by cunningly imitating their notes and by his care in
keeping concealed and motionless until the moment that he delivered his
fire. To bring down a score of birds from a closely packed flock
required but little skill, where, to pick off a single peep, flying
erratically and swiftly by, called for well-seasoned judgment; but the
chances for these birds were small indeed when the beaches were lined
with inviting decoys and concealed whistling gunners.

_Fall._--On the New England coast the semipalmated sandpiper is a little
later in migration than its colleague, the least sandpiper. July 10 to
October 30 are the usual dates, but few are seen after September 20. The
adults come first, but after the middle of August the young appear, to
be distinguished by their nearly white breasts washed with a smoky tint,
and by their more unsuspecting ways.

The extraordinary abundance of this species at certain times on
migration is well illustrated by what Stuart T. Danforth (1925) says of
it in Porto Rico. He writes:

     The semipalmated sandpiper is by far the most abundant shore bird
     at Cartagena Lagoon, though it occurs only as a fall migrant. I
     have records from August 13 to October 20, 1924. During the latter
     part of August they are present in almost unbelievable numbers. I
     hardly dare estimate their numbers, but on August 26, when they
     were at the height of their abundance, I am sure that 100,000 would
     have been a low estimate of their numbers. They simply swarmed over
     the mud flats. On this date, although I was trying to avoid
     shooting them, I got 16 while shooting other birds. They were so
     abundant that stray shots could not help killing numbers of them.
     On other days many were also unintentionally shot in the same
     manner. In fact, all but 4 of the 36 that I collected were shot in
     this way. This species prefers the mud flats, but when they were so
     excessively abundant some were forced to feed in the sedge and
     grass associations, and when the fall rains came a little later
     practically all of them were forced to the sedges and grasses and
     even to the cane fields. But within a few days after this most of
     them left for parts unknown.


_Range._--North America, South America, the West Indies, and
northeastern Siberia; accidental in Europe.

_Breeding range._--The semipalmated sandpiper breeds north to the
northeastern coast of Siberia (Plover Bay); Alaska (Point Hope, Point
Barrow, Barter Island, Camden Bay, and Demarcation Point); Yukon
(probably Herschel Island); Mackenzie (Franklin Bay), Victoria Land;
northern Keewatin (Cape Fullerton); Labrador (Okak); and Newfoundland.
East to Labrador (Okak). South to Labrador (Okak); Newfoundland;
northern Quebec (Fort George); southern Keewatin (Severn River);
probably eastern Manitoba (York Factory and Fort Churchill); Mackenzie
(Fort Anderson); and Alaska (Pastolik). West to Alaska (Pastolik, Hooper
Bay, St. Michael, probably Nome, Port Clarence, Kowak River, probably
Cape Blossom, and Point Hope); and northeastern Siberia (Plover Bay).

_Winter range._--North to Sonora (Hermosillo); Texas (Fort Brown, Corpus
Christi, and Refugio County); Louisiana (State Game Preserve, Marsh
Island, False River, and Hog Bayou); and South Carolina (Bulls Point).
East to South Carolina (Bulls Point, Sea Islands, Frogmore, and Port
Royal); Georgia (Chatham County, Blackbeard Island, Darien, and St.
Marys); Florida (Mosquito Inlet and St. Lucie); Bahama Islands (Great
Inagua); Haiti (Monte Christi and Sanchez); Porto Rico; Lesser Antilles
(Antigua, Barbados, Carriacou, Grenada, and Trinidad); French Guiana
(Cayenne); and Brazil (Island Mexiana, Island Cajetuba, and Bahia).
South to Brazil (Bahia); rarely Patagonia (Nuevo Gulf); and Peru
(Parecas Bay). West to Peru (Parecas Bay); Colombia (Cartagena and
Sabanillo); Guatemala (San Jose); Valley of Mexico; Sinaloa (Mazatlan);
and Sonora (Hermosillo).

_Spring migration._--Early dates of arrival in the spring are: North
Carolina, Highlands, April 12, and Raleigh, April 13; Virginia, Cobb
Island, May 14, and Smiths Island, May 16; District of Columbia,
Washington, May 10; Pennsylvania, Grove City, May 3, and Milford, May 9;
New Jersey, Elizabeth, May 6; New York, Orient, April 16, Canandaigua,
April 26, Geneva, May 5, and Rochester, May 7; Connecticut, Saybrook,
May 9, and Norwalk, May 11; Massachusetts, Monomoy Island, April 22,
Ipswich, April 24; Maine, Lewiston, May 6; Quebec, May 2; Missouri,
Appleton City, April 3, and Boonville, April 16; Illinois, Springfield,
April 25, Quincy, May 3; Indiana, Camden, April 18, Bicknell, April 24,
and Bloomington, April 26; Ohio, Lakeside, May 3, New Bremen, May 5, and
Oberlin, May 7; Michigan, Ann Arbor, April 1; Ontario, Toronto, May 14,
and Ottawa, May 14; Iowa, Keokuk, April 19, Emmetsburg, April 27, and
Sioux City, May 2; Wisconsin, Elkhorn, May 1, and Madison, May 7;
Minnesota, Wilder, April 19, Jackson, April 24, and Hallock, May 9;
Kansas, McPherson, April 15, Lawrence, May 5, and Emporia, May 9;
Nebraska, Neligh, April 30, Omaha, May 4, and Lincoln, May 5; South
Dakota, Sioux Falls, May 5, and Harrison, May 8; Manitoba, Gimli, May
10, and Shoal Lake, May 19; Saskatchewan, Dinsmore, May 13, and Indian
Head, May 19; and Mackenzie, Fort Chipewyan, May 24, and Fort Simpson,
May 26.

Late dates of spring departure are: Cuba, Guantanamo, May 8, and Mariel,
May 10; the Bahama Islands, Hog Island, April 27, Salt Key, May 5, and
Inagua, May 27; Florida, Whitfield, May 11, Fort De Soto, May 25, and
St. Marks, May 26; Georgia, Savannah, May 22; South Carolina, Ladys
Island, May 26; North Carolina, Fort Macon, May 17, Cape Hatteras, May
20, and Raleigh, May 22; Virginia, Smiths Island, May 22, and Cape
Charles, May 27; District of Columbia, Washington, May 22; Pennsylvania,
Warren, May 24, and Erie, June 4; New Jersey, Camden, May 25, Long
Beach, June 1, and Elizabeth, June 18; New York, Rochester, June 2,
Syracuse, June 4, Poughkeepsie, June 5, Geneva, June 8, and New York
City, June 15; Connecticut, Norwalk, May 30, and Fairfield, June 9;
Rhode Island, Sakonnet Point, June 4; Massachusetts, Dennis, May 30,
Lynn, June 2, and Harvard, June 9; Maine, Portland, June 3; Louisiana,
Lobdell, May 28; Missouri, Boonville, May 31; Illinois, Oak Park, May
26, Shawneetown, May 27, and Chicago, June 13; Ohio, Oberlin, June 1,
Port Clinton, June 3, and Lakeside, June 10; Michigan, Sault Ste. Marie,
May 31, and Detroit, June 2; Ontario, Toronto, June 2, Hamilton, June 5,
and Todmorden, June 13; Iowa, Clear Lake, May 20, Mason City, May 27,
and Sioux City, May 30; Wisconsin, Madison, May 31; Minnesota, Leech
Lake, May 27, Minneapolis, June 1, and Lanesboro, June 3; Texas, Texas
City, May 17, Point Isabel, May 19, and Gainesville, May 24; Kansas,
Fort Riley, May 22, Republican Fork, May 25, Emporia, May 27, and
Stafford County, June 6; Nebraska, Long Pine, May 25, Valentine, May 30,
and Lincoln, June 8; South Dakota, Faulkton, May 27, Forestburg, June 2,
and Harrison, June 3; Manitoba, May 31, Dominion City, June 1, and Shoal
Lake, June 14; and Saskatchewan, Quill Lake, June 11, and Kutanajan
Lake, June 13.

_Fall migration._--Early dates of fall arrival are: British Columbia,
Okanagan Landing, July 15, Atlin, July 16, and Courtenay, July 24;
Colorado, Larimer County, July 18; Saskatchewan, Quill Lake, July 4, and
Kiddleston, July 16; Manitoba, Russell, July 11, Red Deer River, July
23, and Shoal Lake, August 3; North Dakota, Mouse River, August 10;
South Dakota, Forestburg, August 2; Kansas, Emporia, August 31; Texas,
Brownsville, October 1, and Lake Worth, October 19; Minnesota, St.
Vincent, July 24; Iowa, Sioux City, July 12, and Winnebago County, July
29; Ontario, Todmorden, July 21, and Amherstburg-Colchester, July 29;
Michigan, Charity Island, July 9, and Detroit, July 22; Ohio, Columbus,
July 12, Bay Point, July 16, and Painesville, July 19; Illinois,
Chicago, July 2; Missouri, St. Louis, August 6; Mississippi, Biloxi,
July 10, Beauvoir, July 18, and Bay St. Louis, July 21; Nova Scotia,
Wolfville, July 10; Maine, Portland, July 23, and Pittsfield, July 24;
Massachusetts, Monomoy Island, July 3, Marthas Vineyard, July 8, and
Ipswich, July 10; Rhode Island, Newport, July 14, and Providence, July
22; Connecticut, Milford, July 28, and New Haven, July 30; New York,
Orient, July 4, East Hampton, July 8, Freeport, July 12, and Rochester,
July 12; New Jersey, Long Beach, July 7, and Cape May, July 14;
Pennsylvania, Carlisle, July 27; District of Columbia, Washington,
August 10; Virginia, Cobb Island, July 15; South Carolina, Frogmore,
July 22; Florida, Palma Sola, July 8, Fernandina, July 14, Pensacola,
July 16, and Fort De Soto, July 17; Cuba, Guantanamo, August 15, and
Batabano, August 26; Porto Rico, Mona Island, August 11, and Cabo Rojo,
August 24; and the Lesser Antilles, St. Croix, August 14, and Barbados,
August 18.

Late dates of departure in the fall are: British Columbia, Lake Teslin,
September 12, and Okanagan Landing, September 16; Saskatchewan, Ravine
Bank, August 25; Manitoba, Winnipeg, September 13; Nebraska, Lincoln,
October 30; Kansas, Topeka, September 15; Minnesota, Lanesboro,
September 15; Wisconsin, Racine, October 1; Iowa, Marshalltown, October
12, and Burlington, October 15; Ontario, Ottawa, October 5, London,
October 16, and Point Pelee, November 15; Michigan, Sault Ste. Marie,
October 1, and Detroit, October 15; Ohio, Salem, October 9, Youngstown,
October 26, and Dayton, November 16; Illinois, Chicago, October 9, and
Cantine, October 17; Missouri, St. Louis, October 17; Prince Edward
Island, North River, October 27; Nova Scotia, Wolfville, September 24;
Quebec, Montreal, October 18; Maine, Lewiston, October 17;
Massachusetts, Dennis, October 21, Boston, October 23, Harvard, October
24, and Lynn, October 25; Connecticut, Middleton, October 7, and New
Haven, October 23; New York, Canandaigua, October 14, Sing Sing, October
20, New York City, October 24, Shinnecock Bay, October 30, and Ithaca,
November 1; New Jersey, Morristown, September 24, Cape May, October 2,
and Elizabeth, October 16; Pennsylvania, Beaver, October 3; and District
of Columbia, Washington, October 26.

_Casual records._--The semipalmated sandpiper is not common in Colorado
and Utah, although in both of these States it has been taken on several
occasions. Other casual records are Wyoming, Horse Creek, 1859, and
Alkali Lake, October 31, 1897; Montana, Fort Keogh, May 15 and 16, 1889,
Sweetgrass Hills, August 11, 1874, Billings, August 12, 1900, and Miles
City, August 14 and 15, 1900; Washington, Blaine, August 4 to 8, 1900,
Puget Sound, July 15, 1857, Shoalwater Bay, May 3, 1854, and Simiahmoo,
May, 1858; and Pribilof Islands, St. Paul Island, June 12, 1890.

There also are at least three records for the British Isles: Romney
Marsh, Kent, September, 1907, Marazion Marsh, Cornwall, October 10,
1853, and Northam Burrows, Devon, September, 1869.

_Egg dates._--Arctic Canada: 70 records, June 12 to July 24; 35 records,
July 3 to 6. Alaska: 33 records, June 2 to July 5; 17 records, June 6 to




_Spring._--The western sandpiper has an unique distribution and peculiar
migrations. It occupies a very restricted breeding range in the coastal
regions of northwestern Alaska, but is spread out over a wide winter
range, entirely across the continent in southern North America, in
Central America, and in northern South America. But we know very little
about its migration routes between these two seasonal ranges. I have
not a single spring record for it from any of my correspondents in the
interior. Undoubtedly it has been generally overlooked on account of its
close resemblance to the semipalmated sandpiper, an abundant species
which few collectors bother to shoot. Its northward migration along the
Pacific coast, in April and May, is well known; this flight is mainly
coastwise and the birds are often extremely abundant. D. E. Brown, in
some notes sent to me from Westport, Washington, refers to this species
as easily outnumbering all other shorebirds combined; they were
associated with redbacks, but outnumbered them 10 to 1. Dr. E. W. Nelson
(1887) says of the arrival of these birds in Alaska:

     As the snow disappears on the low ground about Norton Sound; from
     the 10th to the 15th of May each year, and the ponds, still
     ice-covered, are bordered by a ring of water, these gentle birds
     arrive on the shore of Bering Sea, in the vicinity of Saint Michael
     and the Yukon mouth. The advancing season finds their numbers
     continually augmented until, toward the end of May, they are
     extremely common and are found scattered everywhere over the mossy
     flats and low hillsides. Their gentle character and trusting ways
     render them very attractive to the frequenter of their territory at
     this season.

_Courtship._--The same gifted writer describes the courtship of this
gentle little sandpiper as follows:

     The warm days toward the end of May cause the brown slopes and
     flats to assume a shade of green, and among the pretty bird
     romances going on under our eyes none is more charming than the
     courtship of this delicate sandpiper. They have forsaken the
     borders of icy pools, and, in twos and threes, are found scattered
     over the tundra, showing a preference for small dry knolls and the
     drier tussock-covered parts of the country in the vicinity of damp
     spots and small ponds. Here the gentle birds may be seen at all
     times tripping daintily over the moss or in and out among the tufts
     of grass, conversing with each other in low, pleasant, twittering
     notes, and never showing any sign of the wrangling so frequent with
     their kind at this season. The female modestly avoids the male as
     he pays his homage, running back and forth before her as though
     anxious to exhibit his tiny form to the best advantage. At times
     his heart beats high with pride and he trails his wings, elevates
     and partly spreads his tail, and struts in front of his lady fair
     in all the pompous vanity of a pigmy turkey-cock; or his blood
     courses in a fiery stream until, filled with ecstatic joy, the
     sanguine lover springs from the earth, and, rising upon vibrating
     wings, some 10 or 15 yards, he poises, hovering in the same
     position, sometimes nearly a minute, while he pours forth a rapid,
     uniform series of rather musical trills, which vary in strength as
     they gradually rise and fall, producing pleasant cadences. The
     wings of the songster meanwhile vibrate with such rapid motion that
     they appear to keep time with the rapidly trilling notes, which can
     only be likened to the running down of a small spring and may be
     represented by the syllables _tzr-r-e-e-e, zr-e-e-e-, zr-e-e-e_, in
     a fine high-pitched tone, with an impetus at each "=Z=." This part
     of the song ended, the bird raises its wings above its back, thus
     forming a =V=, and glides slowly to the ground, uttering at the
     same time, in a trill, but with a deeper and richer tone, a series
     of notes which may be likened to the syllables _tzur-r-r-r,
     tzur-r-r-r_. The word "throaty" may be applied to these latter
     notes as distinguished from the high-pitched key of the first part
     of the song.

_Nesting._--Herbert W. Brandt, who has had extensive experience with the
nesting habits of this species, says in his manuscript notes:

     The gentle little western sandpiper is the most abundant and most
     widely distributed shore bird occurring in the Hooper Bay region.
     Throughout the area, wherever dry ground is found, it is plentiful,
     and it even occurs on the lower mountain slopes of the Askinuk
     Range. Before the tundra had discarded its snowy mantle the first
     birds of this species had responded to the lure of early spring,
     for they arrived on May 14, and two days later they were common,
     while on May 20 they were abundant, carrying on everywhere their
     dainty aerial butterfly courtship. The western sandpiper is usually
     found in large scattering colonies especially on the upland tundra
     where for large areas they average one or two pairs to the acre.
     Isolated couples, however, are occasionally encountered.

     The nest of the western sandpiper is well concealed from view by
     the surrounding curly bunch-grass that everywhere in the dryer
     areas forces its way up amid the moss. Under this protection a
     depression is made and scantily lined with grass, and usually in
     addition with considerable tiny leaves of the prostrate
     berry-bearing vines, of the dwarf birch, and of the reindeer moss
     stems. In consequence, the nest is very fragile and loosely made,
     but before it is disturbed it is neatly cup-shaped. The range of
     measurements of 32 nests is: Inside diameter, 2 to 3 inches; depth
     of cavity, 1-1/2 to 3 inches; and total depth, 2-1/2 to 4 inches.
     Both male and female share in the tender duties of incubation and
     are often very loath to forsake their nest, so that when crossing
     their chosen haunts an incubating bird, by fluttering up before
     one's very feet, will occasionally unwittingly betray its
     well-concealed abode.

     These charming little creatures are most brave, even eager in
     defense of their homes, often charging with puffed-out feathers
     and head drawn against the body to make themselves look as
     formidable as possible. Their tameness and familiarity are
     remarkable. Often after we had removed the eggs the parent would
     go to the empty nest, sit on it for a little while, then come out,
     her little body a-purr with agitation, and inquire in her thin
     incessant voice what had become of the eggs. It is little wonder
     that I shot very few specimens for identification purposes. This
     tiny sandpiper had won too deep a place in my affections.

The confiding nature of these birds is referred to by other writers.
Doctor Nelson (1887) tells how one of his men lay on the ground with his
outstretched hand close beside a nest; but the bird soon returned,
crossed his arm and settled on the nest, where she was caught with turn
of his hand and released. Alfred M. Bailey (1926) placed his "hat over
one set of eggs, leaving just room for the parent bird to crawl under,
which she immediately proceeded to do."

_Eggs._--Herbert W. Brandt has given me the following good description
of his 120 eggs of this species, collected by him at Hooper Bay,

     Four eggs always constitute a complete set with the western
     sandpiper, but occasionally late nests with three eggs in each were
     observed, which were probably second layings. They are pyriform to
     subpyriform in shape and are placed in the nest with the small ends
     together and pointed downward, snuggling amid the loose interior
     contents of the nest. The shell is smooth, has a slight luster, and
     is strongly constructed. The markings on the same set of eggs
     always follow the same type in color, and likewise the ground color
     is always the same shade. In the series of eggs the prevalent
     ground color is "cream color," but the shades vary from dull white,
     which is very rare, to equally rare "wood brown." The ground color
     is often almost obliterated by the profuseness of the markings,
     especially on the larger two-thirds of the egg. The color of the
     surface markings is usually "Kaiser brown," but they show
     considerable variation, dependent upon the amount of pigment
     deposited, ranging from "brick red" to "chestnut brown." The spots
     are somewhat elongated and vary from small pin points to large
     blotches that may completely cover the larger end of the egg. These
     have a decided tendency to spiral from left to right. The
     underlying markings are inconspicuous and are only visible on eggs
     having a pale background and then they are of small size and
     indistinct. The eggs are generally flecked with additional markings
     consisting of a few intense irregular spots or fine lines of slate
     black to black. These blackbird-like markings are almost always on
     the larger end, although on many eggs they are entirely wanting. In
     series the eggs of the western sandpiper have a decidedly bright
     red appearance, and are thus distinct from any eggs occurring in
     the Hooper Bay region.

The western sandpiper has been known to lay five eggs.

The measurements of 120 eggs, furnished by Mr. Brandt, average 30.8 by
21.9 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure =32.5= by
22.3, 32 by =22.8=, =28.7= by 21.6, and 30.3 by =21.1= millimeters.

_Young._--H. B. Conover tells me that both sexes incubate, at least both
had incubation patches. He says in his notes:

     On June 15 the first newly hatched young were found. The parents
     were very solicitous and flew about twittering anxiously. Soon
     other old birds joined them and seemed just as anxious as if the
     young were their own. This habit of these sandpipers in joining
     forces to help their neighbors was very noticeable both before and
     after the eggs had hatched. By June 30 half-grown young that could
     already fly for a few yards were being seen. Western sandpipers
     with their chicks were everywhere, and during a walk around the
     tundra you had a constant attendance of anxious mothers and fathers
     wheeling about. Eggs were still being found on July 5. By July 18
     the mud flats were covered with fully fledged young of this

     The incubation period for this species seems to be about 21 days.
     A nest found on May 26 with four eggs hatched on June 15 late in
     the evening. Another found on May 29 with three eggs in it, had
     four eggs on May 30, and three young and a pipped egg on the
     evening of June 19. The rapidity with which these birds lay and
     hatch their eggs and raise their young is very remarkable. In 60
     days from their arrival on the nesting grounds the young are full
     grown and taking care of themselves.

Mr. Brandt in his manuscript says:

     It seemed to us as if every western sandpiper about Hooper Bay must
     have deposited its first egg on practically the same day, because
     the four days following May 26 more than 50 nests were recorded,
     and after June 15 the beautiful brown and black mottled young all
     of the same size were to be found everywhere. These newly born bird
     mites are not long abed, however, for in one case an hour after
     hatching their cradle was empty.

_Plumages._--The downy young western sandpiper, when first hatched, is
richly colored in warm, bright browns and buffs, quite different in
appearance from the young semipalmated sandpiper. Behind a broad
"cinnamon buff" forehead is a large, rounded crown patch extending from
above the eyes to the nape, in which the down is basally black, but
deeply tipped "burnt sienna"; in the center of this a cluster of buffy
down tips produces a spot, which is divided by a blackish median stripe
extending down to the bill; a band of pale buff, produced by down tips,
encircles the sides and rear of the crown patch; there is a loral stripe
and a short malar stripe of black; the sides of the head and neck are
"cinnamon buff"; and a variable pattern of "burnt sienna" decorates the
auricular region, behind and above the eye. The remainder of the upper
parts, back, wings, rump, and thighs are a mixture of black and dark,
rich browns, "bay," "burnt sienna," and "amber brown," sprinkled, in an
irregular pattern, in the darker portions with tiny buff tips. The under
parts vary from pale buff on the breast to buffy white on the throat and
to white on the belly. The bright colors fade to dull browns and grayish
as the chick grows older. The first of the juvenal plumage appears on
the scapulars and then on the sides of the breast.

In fresh juvenal plumage, as seen in Alaska in June, the crown is
"sepia" with "pinkish cinnamon" edgings; the nape is "drab-gray,"
streaked with dusky; the feathers of the mantle are brownish black,
edged with "tawny" on the back and broadly edged with "tawny" and white
on the scapulars; the rump, upper tail coverts, and central tail
feathers are "sepia"; the other rectrices are "light mouse gray"; the
wing coverts are "mouse gray," tipped with "tawny" or lighter buff; the
throat and under parts are white, washed on the breast with "light
cinnamon-drab," and streaked on the sides of the breast with dusky. This
plumage fades somewhat during migration and the body plumage is mostly
all molted before October. In their first winter plumage young birds can
be distinguished from adults only by the wing coverts and a few retained
scapulars and tertials. At the first prenuptial molt they become
practically adult.

Adults have a complete postnuptial molt in the summer and fall, molting
the body plumage in July and August and the wings and tail in November
or later. The prenuptial molt in March and April involves only the body
plumage. The fresh plumage, in April, is veiled with "drab-gray" tips,
which soon wear away, revealing the bright nuptial colors.

_Food._--Very little has been published on the food of the western
sandpiper, but it probably feeds on the same things as the other small
sandpipers with which it associates. Arthur H. Howell (1924) says:

     Six stomachs of this bird collected in Alabama showed its food to
     be minute fly larvae, aquatic beetles and bugs, marine worms, and
     small snails.

Stuart T. Danforth (1925) found 150 bloodworms and a Hydrophilid larva
in the stomach of one taken in Porto Rico.

_Behavior._--S. F. Rathbun has sent me the following notes on the habits
of the western sandpiper on the coast of Washington:

     This is one of the small sandpipers of this region that will be
     found common at the time of the migration periods along the ocean
     beaches and on the tide flats. It occurs in flocks of varying
     sizes, some of which contain an exceedingly large number of birds.
     At times if care is used one can approach a flock quite closely,
     often within 15 or 20 feet, and it is of interest to watch the
     actions of the individuals. They are active birds, being constantly
     on the move as they feed, and while thus engaged keep up a
     continual conversation, as it were, this being of the nature of a
     soft, rolling whistle which is pleasant to hear. These sandpipers
     seem to prefer to feed at or near the waters edge, particularly
     where there is an ebb and flow, being very active in following up
     the water as it recedes and equally so in avoiding its incoming,
     but always at the very edge as it were. They secure their food by a
     skimming like movement of the bill over the surface of the mud that
     has just been covered by the water, and as the birds advance or
     retreat in following the flow it is quite amusing to observe the
     seeming pains taken to avoid coming into contact with it. And still
     at times individuals may be seen in some of the very shallow spots.
     It is a fine sight to see a flock of these sandpipers suddenly take
     alarm as they are feeding; all quickly spring into the air as if
     moved by the same impulse at exactly the same moment, and then form
     a compact body that will execute a variety of evolutions in perfect
     harmony. The flock will rise and fall and wheel and turn, and at
     times may split into several smaller ones, these to again reunite,
     and should one happen to stand where the light falls directly on
     the birds the white of their underparts as they turn is very
     striking. These actions may be repeated a number of times, and then
     without warning the flock of birds will alight and quickly scatter
     in search of food. Scenes like this are what give an enlightenment
     to the waste places and fortunately, under the protection now
     afforded the species, are likely to continue to be enacted in the
     future. But large as the numbers of the western sandpiper still
     appear to be, they are not comparable to those of fifteen or twenty
     years ago, and the cause of this decrease in their numbers is the
     same old story. It seems hardly possible that a bird so small could
     have been regarded as game and its hunting come under the name of
     sport, but such was the case and it brought about the logical
     result. One may be thankful, however, that this no longer can be
     done, and hope that the lapse of time may bring about somewhat of
     an increase in the number of these birds.

_Voice._--John T. Nichols contributes the following on the calls of this

     The most common loud call of the western sandpiper has the _ee_
     sound found in the _kreep_ of the least sandpiper, a plaintive
     quality as in the voice of the sanderling, and suggests somewhat
     the squawk of a young robin. It is variable and may be written
     _chee-rp_, _cheep_, or _chir-eep_. It seems to be the flight note
     of the species, corresponding to the _cherk_ of the semipalmated
     sandpiper, and is also used by a bird on the ground calling to
     others in the air which alight with it, as such flight notes
     sometimes are. Its closest resemblance with a note of the
     semipalmated is to the _serup_ sometimes heard from that bird when

     Some of the calls of the western are apparently indistinguishable
     from those of the semipalmated sandpiper, but as studied on the
     northwest coast of Florida, where it greatly outnumbered the other
     form, more seemed different. Birds took wing with a _sirp_, or at
     another time a _chir-ir-ip_, which heard also in a medley of
     variations from a flock already on the wing, suggesting the notes
     of the horned lark, may be more or less analogous with the short
     flocking note of the semipalmated sandpiper.

_Field marks._--It is most difficult and often impossible to distinguish
between the western and the semipalmated sandpipers in life; and I have
experienced difficulty in distinguishing between them even in the hand.
The western has a longer bill, and I believe that the bill measurements
of corresponding sexes do not overlap, though they approach very
closely; but the longest-billed female semipalmated may have a longer
bill than the shortest-billed male western. In spring and summer
plumages the western shows much more rufous in the upper parts and is
more conspicuously and more heavily streaked on the breast, but in
winter plumage the two species are very much alike. Mr. Nichols has
given me a few characters by which this species can be recognized even
in winter; he calls it "a somewhat larger, rangier, paler, grayer bird"
than the semipalmated; it also has "better developed white stripes over
the eyes which meet more broadly on the forehead, the top of the head is
not so dark, its dark auricular area is not so prominent, the markings
on the top, and particularly on the sides, of the head and neck are

As to the bills, he says:

     There is a subtle difference in their bills, however, which I have
     frequently noticed in life and once or twice checked by taking
     specimens. The bill of a long-billed semipalmated sandpiper is
     quite straight and becomes slender toward the end; that of a
     short-billed western is not so slender toward the end and with just
     an appreciable downward bend before its tip. In long-billed
     individuals of the western sandpiper the bill becomes slender
     toward the end and frequently has a decided drop at the tip. Such
     birds are unmistakably different to anyone thoroughly familiar with
     the semipalmated sandpiper.

_Fall._--Like many other waders, these little sandpipers begin to move
off their breeding grounds at a very early date. As early as June 21,
1914, F. S. Hersey saw western sandpipers flocking at the mouth of the
Yukon River, Alaska. Some of the flocks contained from 40 to 60 birds.
The larger flocks were all of this species, but the smaller flocks often
contained one long-billed dowitcher.

Doctor Nelson (1887) says, of its fall wanderings:
     Early in July the young are on the wing and begin to gather in
     flocks toward the 1st of August. The last of these birds are seen
     on the coast of Norton Sound and the Yukon mouth the 1st of
     October. Although it is not recorded from the Seal and Aleutian
     Islands, I have seen the bird at St. Lawrence Island, south of
     Bering Straits, and at several points along the northeastern coast
     of Siberia, and it frequents the Arctic coasts of Alaska in
     addition to being found throughout the interior along streams where
     suitable flats occur. Murdoch notes it as a fall visitor at Point
     Barrow. It has been found in abundance on the southeast coast of
     the Territory, where it occurs during the migrations.

On the coast of British Columbia and farther south it is an abundant
fall migrant, but it is rare or casual inland; the first arrivals
sometimes reach California before the middle of July. Migration records
for the great interior are almost entirely lacking and how it reaches
the Atlantic coast, where it is so abundant in fall and winter, is a

Mr. Nichols wrote to me as follows:

     The occurrence of this bird on the North Atlantic coast of the
     United States is irregular. At times it is really numerous on Long
     Island over periods of several years, and then it becomes rare
     again. In the 1912 southward migration the western was carefully
     looked for among the abundant semipalmated sandpiper but no
     evidence of its presence was found. In 1913 a single bird with a
     very white head and a peculiar note suggesting a young robin was, I
     now feel confident, a western sandpiper, at the time it passed as
     unidentified. The following year one of the white-headed
     long-billed juvenal westerns was picked out in a flock of
     semipalmated in August and collected. Later several others, all
     well-marked birds were identified in flocks of the semipalmated. In
     1916 and 1917 the species was still more numerous. On October 12,
     1917, at Long Beach with R. C. Murphy it was estimated that about
     one-half the _Ereunetes_ were this, one-half the common eastern
     form. Specimens of each were obtained from gunners present. The
     following year (1918) a flock on the beach in late spring (June 2)
     were predominatingly western; the species returned again from the
     north in early July (July 4). During this or the immediately
     succeeding southward migrations the semipalmated fell off in
     numbers, and furthermore, a great many birds thought to be western
     were indeterminate. Mr. E. P. Bicknell met the same condition which
     I found at Mastic further west at Long Beach. I remember a letter
     wherein he spoke of the semipalmated being replaced by the western,
     but I did not take just that view of it. For a year or two I have
     no real idea how common either species was. I saw numerous birds
     that seemed to be western, but mostly indeterminate, and took no
     specimens. Later the standard semipalmated reestablished its
     usually large numbers and this season (1925) probably for the first
     time the western was again common among them, about as in 1916,
     some of this latter form easily identifiable birds (in life).

_Winter._--Arthur T. Wayne (1910) says:

     The western sandpiper is the most abundant of all the waders that
     winter on this coast. It is not unusual to see thousands of these
     birds any day during the winter months. It can almost be considered
     a permanent resident, as it is only absent from May 20 until July
     8. The adults arrive in worn breeding plumage and immediately begin
     to moult the feathers of the head and throat. By the first week in
     August they have acquired their autumn plumage.

Among the big flocks of small sandpipers that we saw all winter
frequenting the extensive mud flats in the vicinity of Tampa Bay,
Florida, I am satisfied that this species was well represented, if not
the predominating species. I confess that I can not identify in life
more than a very small percentage of these little "peep," and then only
when seen under most favorable circumstances. One dislikes to shoot any
number of the gentle little birds for identification. But what few we
shot proved to be western sandpipers, and I am inclined to think that
most of them were. Mr. Nichols writes to me:

     In my limited experience _mauri_ is commoner than _pusillus_ on the
     west coast of Florida. In Wakulla County in March and September,
     1919, most all the _Ereunetes_ were western, only one or two among
     them definitely identified as _pusillus_; and in April, 1917, two
     or three western were identified with least sandpipers south of
     Sanibel Light.


_Range._--North America, Central America, the West Indies, and northern
South America.

_Breeding range._--So far as known, the western sandpiper breeds only in
Alaska. North to Cape Prince of Wales, Cape Blossom, Point Barrow, and
Camden Bay. East to Camden Bay and St. Michael. South to St. Michael,
Pastolik, and Hooper Bay. West to Hooper Bay, Nome, and Cape Prince of
Wales. It has been taken in summer in northeastern Siberia at two
points, East Cape on July 14, 1913, and Cape Serdze, on July 16, 1913.

_Winter range._--The Pacific, Gulf, and South Atlantic coasts of the
United States, the West Indies, Central America, and northern South
America. North to Washington (Dungeness Spit, and Smith Island); Texas
(Brownsville and Corpus Christi); Louisiana (Cameron and Vermilion
Parishes); Alabama (Dauphin Island); and rarely, North Carolina (Pea
Island). East to rarely, North Carolina (Pea Island and Fort Macon);
South Carolina (Charleston); Georgia (Blackbeard Island); Florida
(Amelia Island, and Fort Myers); Cuba (Guantanamo); and Trinidad. South
to Trinidad; Venezuela (Margarita Island); probably northern Colombia
(Sabanilla); probably Costa Rica (Barranca Puntarenas); Tehuantepec
(Tehuantepec City); and Lower California (La Paz). West to Lower
California (La Paz); California (San Diego County, Alameda, Oakland, and
Berkeley); and Washington (Point Chehalis; Seattle, and Dungeness Spit).
It also has been detected in winter on San Clemente Island, off the
coast of southern California.

_Spring migration._--The spring movement of birds that have wintered on
the South Atlantic coast is imperfectly known, there being available no
interior records that indicate the route by which they reach the
breeding grounds. The species has been detected at Long Beach, New York,
as early as April 25, and at Mastic, New York, on May 12, while late
spring departures from South Carolina have been noted at Charleston on
May 8, and from Mastic, New York, on June 2.

Early dates of arrival in the West are: Arizona, Fort Verde, April 11,
and San Pedro River, April 17; Colorado, Denver, May 2, and Loveland,
May 9; Nevada, Smoky Creek, May 6; Idaho, Meridian, May 6; British
Columbia, Sumas, April 20, and Chilliwack, April 26; and Alaska, Kuiu
Island, April 28, Craig, May 2, Patterson's Bay, May 7, Admiralty
Island, May 8, Fort Kenai, May 12, Hooper Bay, May 14, and Prince of
Wales Island, May 15.

Late dates of spring departure at western points are: Texas, Somerest,
May 5, San Angelo, May 6, Seadrift, May 8, and Tom Green and Concho
Counties, May 12; Kansas, Lawrence, May 26; South Dakota, Vermilion, May
24, and Forestburg, May 26; lower California, San Quentin Bay, May 10;
California, Fresno, May 12, Santa Barbara, May 16, Los Angeles, May 19,
Alameda, May 21, and Owens Lake, June 1; Oregon, Mercer, May 14;
Washington, Ilwaco, May 18, Neah Bay, May 24, Clallam Bay, May 25, and
Quillayute Needles, May 30.

_Fall migration._--Early dates of arrival in the fall are: British
Columbia, Courtenay, July 7, Nootka Sound, July 23, and Okanagan
Landing, July 28; Washington, Cape Flattery, July 2, Destruction Island,
July 3, and Granville, July 4; Oregon, Cow Creek Lake, July 4;
California, Santa Barbara, July 3, Fresno, July 5, and Tulare Lake, July
7; Lower California, San Quentin, August 24; Mexico, San Mateo, August
7; Idaho, Meridian, July 23, and Big Lost River, July 25; Wyoming, Fort
Bridger, July 13; Oklahoma, Old Greer County, July 19; Arizona, Tucson,
August 16, and San Bernardino Ranch, August 24; Texas, Mobeetie, July
27, Beaumont, August 5, Rockport, August 12, Hereford, August 18, and
Padre Island, August 21; Massachusetts, Monomoy Island, July 19, and
Nahant, August 4; New York, Mastic, July 4, and Freeport, July 16; South
Carolina, Charleston, July 8; and Florida, James Island, July 20.

Late dates of fall departure are: Alaska, Craig, September 24, and St.
Lazaria Island, September 29; British Columbia, Chilliwack, September
11, and Comox, September 26; Montana, Great Falls, September 4; New
Mexico, Albuquerque, October 5; Massachusetts, North Truro, September 2,
and Harvard, September 8; New York, Chateaugay, September 13,
Amityville, September 17, and Long Beach, October 12; New Jersey, Cape
May County, September 14; District of Columbia, Anacostia River,
September 25; and Virginia, Four-mile Run, September 11.

_Casual records._--Casual occurrences of the western sandpiper must, of
course, be based upon specimen evidence, as this species is easily
confused with the semipalmated sandpiper. For this reason several
records are considered doubtful, while in other regions it may be more
numerous than is now known. One was taken August 21, 1907, at Beaver,
Pennsylvania, while two were collected at Burlington, Iowa, on October
15, 1895, and one at Columbus, Ohio, on September 12, 1925.

_Egg dates._--Alaska: 159 records, May 23 to July 7: 80 records, May 29
to June 15.




Along the forearm of Cape Cod, from the elbow at Chatham to the wrist
near Provincetown, extend about 30 miles of nearly continuous ocean
beaches, to which we can add 10 more if we include that long, narrow
strip of beach and marsh called Monomoy. Facing the broad Atlantic and
exposed to all its furious storms, these beaches are swept clean and
pounded to a hard surface by the ceaseless waves. Even in calm weather
the restless ocean swells and surges up and down over these sloping
sands, and the winter storms may make or wash away a mile or so of beach
in a single season. Here on the ocean side of the beach, the "back side
of the beach," as it is called on the cape, is the favorite resort of
the little sanderlings in fair weather or in foul. They are well named
"beach birds," for here they are seldom found anywhere except on the
ocean beaches, and I believe that the same is true of the Pacific coast.
They are particularly active and happy during stormy weather, for then a
bountiful supply of food is cast up by the heavy surf. But at all times
the surf line attracts them, where they nimbly follow the receding waves
to snatch their morsels of food or skillfully dodge the advancing line
of foam as it rolls up the beach.

_Spring._--To the ends of the earth and back again extend the migrations
of the sanderling, the cosmopolitan globe trotter; few species, if any,
equal it in world-wide wanderings. Nesting in the Arctic regions of both
hemispheres, it migrates through all of the continents, and many of the
islands, to the southernmost limits of south America and Africa, and
even to Australia.

The spring migration starts in March, though the last migrants may hot
leave their winter resorts until late in April; they have been noted in
Chile from April 11 to 29, and even in May. The earliest migrants have
been known to reach New England and Ohio before the end of March. The
main flight passes through Massachusetts in May, a few birds lingering
into June. In the interior and on the Pacific coast the dates are about
the same. C. G. Harrold has taken it in Manitoba as early as April 29,
but William Rowan (1926) says that the main flight comes along during
the last week in May and the first few days of June, when it is

A. L. V. Manniche (1910) thus describes the arrival of the sanderling on
its breeding grounds in northeastern Greenland:

     The sanderling arrived at Stormkap singly or in couples
     respectively June 2, 1907, and May 28, 1908. In company with the
     other waders and large flocks of snow buntings, which arrived at
     the same time, the sanderlings would in the first days after their
     arrival resort to the few spots in the marshes and the surrounding
     stony plains, which were free from snow; here they led a miserable
     existence. Heavy snow storms and low temperature in connection with
     want of open water made the support of life difficult to the birds.

     The temperature increased quickly and caused in a few days the
     places in which the birds could find food to extend very much. The
     areas free from snow grew larger and larger, and the ice along the
     beaches of small lakes and ponds with low water disappeared before
     the scorching sun; at the same time small ponds of melting snow
     were formed around in the field. Now the sanderlings would in
     couples retire from the party of other birds, and lead a quiet and
     tranquil life on the stony and dry plains. Now and then they would
     pay a visit to ponds of melting snow and beaches of fresh water
     lakes in order to bathe and seek food, and here they would join
     the party of other small waders as for instance _Tringa alpina_
     and _Aegialitis hiaticula_. According to my experience old birds
     would never resort to salt water shore.

_Courtship._--The same observer tells us all we know about the courtship
of the sanderling, as follows:

     The pairing began toward the middle of June. The peculiar pairing
     flight of the male was to be seen and heard when the weather was
     fine, and especially in the evening. Uttering a snarling or slight
     neighing sound, he mounts to a height of some two meters from the
     surface of the ground on strongly vibrating wings, to continue at
     this height his flight for a short distance, most frequently in a
     straight line, but sometimes in small circles.

     When excited he frequently sits on the top of a solitary large
     stone, his dorsal feathers blown out, his tail spread, and his
     wings half let down, producing his curious subdued pairing tones.
     He, however, soon returns to the female, which always keeps mute,
     and then he tries by slow, affected, almost creeping movements to
     induce her to pairing, until at last the act of pairing takes
     place; when effected, both birds rush away in rapid flight, to
     return soon after to the nesting place. I have also observed males
     in pairing flight without being able to discover any female in the
     neighborhood, and then, of course, without realizing the pairing
     as completing act. The male is in the pairing time very
     quarrelsome, and does not permit any strange bird to intrude on
     the selected domain. He seems to be most envious against birds of
     his own kin.

_Nesting._--The sanderling breeds only in the far north, so far north
that only very few Arctic explorers have found its nest. Strangely,
however, the first recorded nest was found in a region where it rarely
breeds and considerably south of its main breeding grounds. This was the
nest found by Roderick MacFarlane (1908) on the barren grounds of
northern Canada, of which he says:

     On the 29th of June, 1864, we discovered a nest of this species in
     the barren grounds east of Fort Anderson. It contained four eggs,
     which we afterwards learnt were the first and only authenticated
     examples at that time known to American naturalists. The nest was
     composed of withered grasses and leaves placed in a small cavity or
     depression in the ground. The contents of the eggs were quite
     fresh, and they measured 1.44 inches by 0.95 to 0.99 in breadth,
     and their ground color was a brownish olive marked with faint spots
     and blotches of bister. These markings were very generally
     diffused, but were a little more numerous about the larger ends.
     They were of an oblong pyriform shape. The parent bird was snared
     on the nest. It is a very rare bird in the Anderson River country,
     and we failed to find another nest thereof.

The main breeding grounds of the sanderling are probably on the more
northern Arctic islands, but not enough nests have ever been found
anywhere to produce the hosts of birds which we see on migrations. Col.
H. W. Feilden (1877) gives the following description of his discovery of
the nest of this species:

     I first observed this species in Grinnell Land on the 5th of June,
     1876, flying in company with knots and turnstones; at this date it
     was feeding, like the other waders, on the buds of _Saxifraga
     oppositifolia_. This bird was by no means abundant along the coast
     of Grinnell Land, but I observed several pairs in the aggregate,
     and found a nest of this species containing two eggs in latitude
     82° 33' N. on June 24, 1876. This nest, from which I killed the
     male bird, was placed on a gravel ridge, at an altitude of several
     hundred feet above the sea, and the eggs were deposited in a slight
     depression in the center of a recumbent plant of Arctic willow, the
     lining of the nest consisting of a few withered leaves and some of
     the last year's catkins. August 8, 1876, along the shores of
     Robeson Channel, I saw several parties of young ones, three to four
     in number, following their parents, and led by the old birds,
     searching most diligently for insects. At this date they were in a
     very interesting stage of plumage, being just able to fly, but
     retaining some of the down on their feathers.

The best account we have of the home life of the sanderling is given to
us by Mr. Manniche (1910), who found this species to be one of the
commonest breeding birds in northeastern Greenland. He writes:

     In the extensive moor and marsh stretches west of Stormkap are many
     smaller stony and clayey parts lying scattered like a sort of
     islands. As these "stone isles" are most restricted in size, I
     could without special difficulty realize the existence of the birds
     here, and I found several nestling sanderlings on such places. The
     problem was decidedly more difficult to me when the birds had their
     homes on the extensive table-lands farther inland; here it will
     depend on luck to meet with a couple of nestling sanderlings.

     The laying began about June 20. The first nest found containing
     eggs dates from June 28; these had, however, already been brooded
     for some days. The clutch of eggs latest found dates from July 15;
     the eggs in this nest were very much incubated. The sanderling
     places its nest on the before mentioned dry clay-mixed stony
     plains sparsely covered with _Salix arctica_, _Dryas octopetala_,
     _Saxifraga oppositifolia_, and a few other scattered low growths.
     I only found the nest on places of this type, never on moors or
     plains entirely uncovered. The larger or smaller extent, the
     higher or lower position over the level of the sea and the
     distance from nearest shore of such locality is, according to my
     experience, of no consequence. It only seems, as if the sanderling
     prefers to nest on such places, which are situated not very far
     from fresh water--a lake or a pond--to the shores of which the
     young ones are often directed. Some nests found prove, however,
     that the birds do not insist upon this.

     The situation of the nest is also extremely constant. At the
     edge--or rarer farther in--of a tuft of _Dryas_, the bird will form
     a cup-shaped not very deep nest hollow, the bottom of which is
     sparsely lined with withered leaves of _Salix arctica_ or other
     plants growing in the neighbourhood. In size, and partly in shape
     the sanderling's nest resembles that of _Tringa alpina_. The
     striking likeness in color to the surroundings and the monotonous
     character of the landscape makes it extremely difficult to find the
     nest unless the bird itself shows the way to it. The number of eggs
     in a clutch is always four. I found eleven nests with eggs and some
     fifty hatches of downy young ones but none of these differed from
     the normal number.

By excellent tactics the breeding female understands to keep secret the
hiding place of the nest. She will generally leave the nest so early and
secretly, that even the most experienced and attentive eye does not
perceive it. She rushes rapidly from the nest with her head pressed down
against her back executing some peculiar creeping movements quite mute,
and hidden between stones and plants; following natural hollows in the
ground she will first appear in a distance of at least 100 meters from
the nest. By means of short, snarling, and faint cries and now and then
by flying up, she will then try to turn one's attention to herself. She
will often settle for some moments on small stones, clods of earth, and
similar places, from which she again will rush away with her dorsal
feathers erected and her wings hanging down and always in a direction
opposite to that in which her nest is situated.

H. E. Dresser (1904) gives a translation of notes on this species made
by Dr. H. Walter in the Taimyr Peninsula, from which I quote as follows:

     The nests, found late in June and early in July, contained four
     eggs each in three cases and three eggs in one case. The nest was
     placed, unlike that of the other waders, which affected the
     grass-covered portions of the tundra, between bare clay lumps on
     moss, and consisted of a shallow depression lined with a few dry
     straws and a white tangle. In two cases the male, and in two the
     female, was incubating. On the 16/29 July, when the young in down
     were taken, the male showed anxiety, but the female was not seen.
     During the breeding season some of these birds wandered about in
     small flocks. This species remained until the end of August.

_Eggs._--The sanderling lays four eggs, sometimes only three. The eggs
are very rare in collections and few are available for study, but they
have been well described and fully illustrated. The eggs taken by Doctor
Walter are described by Mr. Dresser (1904) as follows:

     Blunt pyriform, fine grained, with a faint gloss. Ground color pale
     yellowish white, with a very pale greenish tinge and somewhat
     marked with small yellowish brown and dark brown spots; a few
     indistinct light violet gray markings; at the larger end a few
     blackish dots and streaks.

In the colored illustrations of 10 eggs before me, the shapes vary from
ovate pyriform, the prevailing shape, to subpyriform. The prevailing
ground colors are greenish olive, "ecru-olive," "lime green," or "grape
green"; a few eggs are more buffy, "cream buff" to "deep olive buff."
The markings are small, and often inconspicuous, spots, scattered quite
evenly over the entire surface, but sometimes more thickly about the
larger end. These are in dull shades of brown, "buffy brown," "snuff
brown," or "sepia." They are not handsome or showy eggs. The
measurements of 41 eggs, furnished by Rev. F. C. R. Jourdain, average
35.7 by 24.7 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure
=38.2= by 24.7, 34.1 by =26.1=, =33.1= by 24.4 and 35.3 by =23.5=

_Young._--Authorities seem to differ as to whether both sexes incubate
or not. Both Feilden and Walter secured incubating males, but Manniche
(1910) says:

     Till the laying is finished both birds will faithfully accompany
     each other, but as soon as the brooding begins, the males will join
     in smaller flocks and wander around on the table lands and at the
     beaches of the fresh waters, often in company with _Tringa canutus_
     and _Strepsilas interpres_. They usually left the country some days
     before the middle of July. I secured several males for examination
     but never found the least sign of a breeding spot.

He gives the period of incubation as 23 to 24 days and says of the

     The bursting of the egg shells will generally begin already some
     three days before the emergence of the young. The mother bird will
     immediately carefully carry the shells away from the nest in order
     not to attract the attention of ravens and skuas. Between the
     emergence of the young will elapse not more than a few hours; as
     soon as the latest born young one feels sufficiently strong; that
     is, when the down is dry, all the nestlings will leave the nest at
     the same time. If the old female considers the nearest surroundings
     of the nest to be unsafe or too difficult in food for the brood,
     she will immediately lead the young away. Thus I have met with
     newly hatched young ones, hardly one hour after their departure
     from the nest in a distance of 500 to 600 meters from this. In the
     cases concerned the disturbance by my frequent visits to the nests
     during the breeding may have caused the early departure.

     In the following 12 to 14 days the chicks are guarded by their
     careful and extremely vigilant mother, who leads them over stony
     plains, by overflows of melted snow and fresh-water beaches; they
     are eagerly occupied in seeking food, which at this period
     exclusively consists of small insects and larvae and pupae of
     these. I have often observed that the chicks take shelter under
     the wings of their mother from the cold nights and the heavy
     showers. The chicks' power of resistance against cold and severe
     weather is relatively small.

     When the sanderling wants to protect her young ones against
     hostile attacks she executes still more surprising systematic
     tactics than she does when brooding. Already when at a distance of
     some 200 to 300 meters from the young ones the old female would
     rush toward me and by all kinds of flapping and creeping movements
     in an opposite direction try to lead me astray; all the while she
     would squeak like a young one, and now growl angrily, striving to
     draw my attention toward herself only. Now and then she would rise
     very high in the air in a direct rapid flight, to disappear behind
     a rock on the opposite beach of a lake, etc. From quite another
     direction she soon appeared again just before my feet.

     If I finally retired still farther away from the young ones and for
     a while kept myself hidden in the field, she would fly slowly,
     sometimes quite low, over the earth to the spot where the young
     still were lying motionless and mute, with their bodies pressed
     flat against the earth and their neck and head stretched out. When
     at last the female considers the danger to be over, she, flying or
     running close to the chicks, produces a short chirping song, at the
     tones of which all four young ones suddenly get up and begin to run
     about. Only in this case the sanderling produces its highly
     peculiar "sanderling song," which is very similar to the song of
     _Sylvia curruca_. As long as the young kept lying quiet on the
     ground in the before-mentioned attitude they were extremely
     difficult to find, if I had not from my ambush by aid of my field
     glass exactly marked down the spot where they last appeared. The
     young ones do not seek any real cover, as in hollows in the ground,
     under plants, behind stones, or similar natural hiding places. When
     I had found a single young one, which while I kept it in my hands
     began to chirp, it generally happened that the three other young,
     which had till then kept quiet, suddenly rose and, with the wings
     raised, uttered a quite fine mouse-like squeaking and hastily
     rushed away, while the old female, as if paralyzed, lay down before
     my feet, still squeaking exactly like the chicks.

     Within 12 to 14 days the young ones are full grown and able to
     fly. Strange to say, the brood of the sanderling seems to suffer
     very little from hostile persecution, a fact which may be due to
     the accomplished vigilance and prudent behaviour of the old female
     and the young as well as the extremely suitably coloured clothing
     of these. I wonder that these defenceless small beings can avoid
     the Polar fox, which in this season more frequently than usual
     visits the domain of the waders, and which, as well known, has an
     excellent sense of smell.

_Plumages._--The nestling sanderling is thus described in Witherby's
Handbook (1920):

     Forehead buff with a median black line from base of upper mandible
     to crown; nape buff, down with dusky bases; rest of upper parts
     variegated light buff, warm buff and black and more or less
     spangled white; lores buff, two black lines across lores toward
     eye; under parts white, cheeks, chin and throat suffused light

Mr. Manniche (1910) gives a colored plate showing four ages of downy
young sanderlings, which the above description fits. A nestling 7 days
old shows the remiges about one-third grown, while the body is still all
downy. Another nearly fully grown only 11 days old is still downy on the
head, neck, rump, and crissum, but is nearly fully feathered on the
mantle and wings, partly feathered on the under parts and the wings
extend beyond the stump of a tail; it must be close to the flight stage.
Such is the rapid development of these little Arctic birds that Mr.
Manniche (1910) says that they can fly when 14 days old.

In fresh juvenal plumage in the Arctic the feathers of the crown,
mantle, wing coverts, scapulars, and tertials are blackish brown,
broadly tipped, and all except those of the crown are also notched, with
buff; the sides of the head, neck, and breast are washed with buff;
before these birds reach us on migration these buff tints have mostly
faded out to creamy yellow or white; the feathers of the lower back,
rump, and upper tail coverts are ashy brown or grayish buff, each with a
dusky shaft streak and narrowly tipped with dusky; as these feathers are
not molted during the first winter they produce a peculiar rump pattern
by which young birds can be easily recognized. Young birds are in
juvenal plumage when they arrive here, with conspicuous black and white
backs. But the postjuvenal molt begins in September and is generally
completed before November; this molt involves the body plumage, except
the rump, and some of the wing coverts and tertials. The first winter
plumage is like that of the adult, plain gray above and white below,
except for the retained juvenal feathers as indicated above.

A partial, or perhaps nearly complete, prenuptial molt takes place in
young birds between March and May, involving the body plumage, sometimes
the tail and most of the scapulars and wing coverts. In this first
nuptial plumage young birds are much like adults, but can be recognized
by some retained wing coverts and tertials; the latter are shorter than
in adults, reaching not quite to the tip of the fourth primary in the
folded wing; in the adult wing the tertials reach nearly to the tip of
the third primary. At the next molt, the first postnuptial, the adult
winter plumage is assumed.

Adults have a complete postnuptial molt from July to October or later.
The body plumage is molted first, mainly in August and September, and
the wings later, mainly in October; specimens have been seen with
primaries in molt in February and March, but these are probably
abnormal. The prenuptial molt of adults is incomplete, involving nearly
all of the body plumage, but not all of the feathers of the back,
scapulars, tertials, or wing coverts. The fresh nuptial plumage in early
May is veiled with broad grayish white tips, which soon wear away. There
is great individual variation in the amount of red assumed and in the
molting date.

_Food._--The sanderling obtains most of its food by probing in the wet
sand of the seashore or by picking up what is washed up and left by the
receding waves. The former method is well described by Dr. Charles W.
Townsend (1920) as follows:

     On the hard wet sand of the beaches one may see in places the
     characteristic probings of the sanderling without a trace of their
     foot marks, and these may be the cause of considerable mystery to
     the uninitiated. While the semipalmated sandpiper runs about with
     his head down dabbing irregularly here and there, the sanderling
     vigorously probes the sand in a series of holes a quarter of an
     inch to an inch apart in straight or curving lines a foot to 2 feet
     long. Sometimes the probings are so near together that the line is
     almost a continuous one like the furrow of a miniature plough. The
     sand is thrown up in advance so that one can tell in which
     direction the bird is going. A close inspection of the probings
     often reveals their double character, showing that the bill was
     introduced partly open. The probings are for the minute sand fleas
     and other crustaceans in the sand, their principal food. I have
     seen sanderlings running about nimbly on the beach, catching the
     sand fleas which were hopping on the surface. I have also seen them
     catching flies. I have a record of one I shot in 1884, whose
     stomach was stuffed with small specimens of the common mussel,
     _Mytilus edulis_.

The food consists mainly of sand fleas, shrimps, and other small
crustaceans, small mollusks, marine worms, flies, fly larvae, and other
insects, and sometimes a few seeds. Early in the season in the Arctic
regions when animal life of all kinds is scarce the sanderling is said
to subsist on the buds of saxifrage and other plants, as well as bits of
moss and algae.

_Behavior._--I have always loved to walk by the seashore alone with
Nature, and especially to tramp for miles over the hard sands of our
ocean beaches, where the heaving bosom of the restless sea sends its
flood of foaming breakers rolling up the steep slopes, cut into hills
and valleys by the action of the waves. From the crest of the beach
above or from the lonely sand dunes beyond comes the mellow whistle of
the plover, disturbed in his reveries; out over the blue waters a few
terns are flitting about or screaming in anxiety for their, now well
grown, young perched on the beach. Flocks of small shore birds hurry
past well out over the breakers, flashing light or dark, as they wheel
and turn; and high overhead the big gray gulls are circling. But right
at our feet is one of the characteristic features of the ocean beach, a
little flock of feeding sanderlings, confiding little fellows,
apparently unmindful of our presence. They run along ahead of us as fast
as we can walk, their little black legs fairly twinkling with rapid
motion. They are intent only on picking up their little bits of food and
most skillfully avoid the incoming wave by running up the beach just
ahead of it; occasionally a wave overtakes one when it flutters above
it; then as the wave recedes they run rapidly down with it, quickly
picking up what food they find. If we force them to fly, which they seem
reluctant to do, they circle out over the waves and settle on the beach
again a short distance ahead of us; by repeating this maneuver again and
again they lead us on and on up the beach, until, tired of being
disturbed, they finally make a wide circle out over the water around us
and alight on the beach far behind us. Their flight is swift, direct,
and generally low over the water, with less of the twistings and
turnings so common among shore birds. They usually flock by themselves,
but are often associated in small numbers with knots, small plovers, or
other beach-loving species. When satiated with food or tired of
strenuous activity, they retire to the crest of the beach, or the broad
sloping sand plains beyond it, to rest and doze or preen their plumage.
Here they stand or squat on the sand, often in immense flocks, all
facing the wind. Their colors match their surroundings so well that they
are not conspicuous and I have often been surprised to see them rise.
These large flocks are generally wary and not easily approached. But
small parties or single birds feeding along the surf line are very tame
and if we sit quietly on the beach, they will often run up quite close
to us. Like many other shore birds, they are fond of standing on one leg
or even hopping about on it for a long time, as if one leg were missing;
often a number of birds will be seen all doing this at the same time, as
if playing a sort of game; but if we watch them long enough, the other
leg will come down, for they are not cripples.

_Voice._--J. T. Nichols writes to me of the limited vocabulary of this
bird, as follows:

     The note of the sanderling is a soft _ket, ket, ket_, uttered
     singly or in series somewhat querulous in tone. It is at times used
     in taking wing, also with variations in the conversational
     twittering of a feeding flock. The sanderling is a rather silent
     bird at all times and seems to have a comparatively limited

_Field Marks._--The sanderling is well named "whitey" or "whiting," for
the large amount of white in its plumage, particularly in late summer,
fall, and winter, is one of its best field marks. In winter it appears
to be nearly all white while on the ground, against which the stiff
black legs, the rather heavy black bill and a dark area at the bend of
the wing stand out in sharp contrast. In flight the broad white stripe
in the wing, contrasted with black, is diagnostic; and the tail appears
white, or nearly so, with a dark center. Young birds in the fall can be
recognized by the mottled black and white back. Its foot prints in the
sand are recognizable, as well as the probings made by its bill.

_Fall._--Mr. Manniche (1910) observed the flocking of the young
sanderlings in Greenland, during August, prior to their departure about
the end of that month; he writes:

     The flocks of sanderlings every day increase in size till they
     culminate about August 20th. August 21st, 1906, I met on the shore
     at Hvalrosodden with a flock numbering at least 300 sanderlings. I
     walked there toward evening and, as the weather was unusualy fine,
     the birds were very lively; the imposingly large flock of birds
     executed evolutions in the air with incredible dexterity, now
     scattered and then in a compact column, now very high in the air
     and then close to the glassy level of the sea.

The first adults reach Massachusetts in July and are common or abundant
during the latter part of that month and through August. The earlier
arrivals are in worn spring plumage, but all stages of body molt are
seen during their stay with us. The young birds come along in the latter
part of August and are most abundant in September and October, after
the adults have gone. The earlier migrants are generally in small flocks
or little groups, but the late storms often bring along immense flocks,
which settle on the beaches in dense masses or sweep along between the
crests of the waves in great clouds.

The sanderling is a common migrant, sometimes abundant, throughout the
interior east of the Rocky Mountains, coming along at about the same
dates as on the Atlantic coast. Prof. William Rowan tells me of a bird
he shot in Alberta on November 8, 1902, that was feeding with a Baird
sandpiper "on the ice of a completely frozen lake." It is a common
migrant on the Pacific coast at about the same dates as elsewhere. D. E.
Brown (notes) records it at Grays Harbor, Washington, as late as
December 20, 1917.

_Game._--In the old days, before the shooting of small shore birds was
prohibited by law, sanderlings ranked as game birds among the beach
gunners. They were popular because they were so abundant and so tame
that they could be shot in large numbers, especially when flying in
large flocks. They are exceedingly fat in the fall and are delicious to
eat. A favorite method of shooting them was to dig a hole in the sand of
the beach, as near the water as practicable, in which the gunner could
hide and shoot into the flocks as they flew by. Dr. Charles W. Townsend
(1905) tells of a man who, in 1872, "saw two baskets, each holding half
a bushel and rounded full of these birds," shot by one man between

_Winter._--The winter home of the sanderling is extensive. A few birds
sometimes spend the winter as far north as Massachusetts. They are
common on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from North Carolina southward, as
well as on the Pacific coast up to central California at least. From
these northern points the winter range extends southward to central
Argentina and Chile, and even farther south. On the west coast of
Florida, where I spent the winter of 1924-25, sanderlings were common
all winter, associating with red-backed sandpipers and other small
waders on the extensive sand flats, or with knots and piping plovers on
the beaches. It was interesting to note how tame they were on the
protected bathing beaches and how wild they were elsewhere.


_Range._--Cosmopolitan; breeding in Arctic or subarctic regions and
wintering mainly south of 40 degrees north latitude.

_Breeding range._--In North America the breeding range of the sanderling
extends north to Alaska (Point Barrow); northern Franklin (Price of
Wales Strait, Bay of Mercy, and probably Winter Harbor); northern Grant
Land (Floeberg Beach); Grinnell Land; northern Greenland (Thank God
Harbor, Stormkap, and Shannon Island); and perhaps Iceland (Mickla
Island). East to Iceland (Mickla Island); southern Greenland (Glacier
Valley and Godthaab); and eastern Franklin (Igloolik and Winter Island).
South to Franklin (Winter Island); Keewatin (Cape Fullerton); Mackenzie
(Bernard Harbor and Franklin Bay); and Alaska (probably Barter Island
and Point Barrow). West to Alaska (Point Barrow).

_Winter range._--In the Western Hemisphere the sanderling ranges in
winter north to: Washington (Dungeness Spit and Smith Island);
southeastern California (Salton Sea); Texas (Corpus Christi, Aransas
River, Refugio County, and Galveston); Louisiana (State Game Preserve);
western Florida (probably Pensacola and Bagdad); and rarely
Massachusetts (Plymouth County). East to rarely Massachusetts (Harvard,
Dennis, Muskeget Island, and Nantucket); rarely New York (Long Beach);
rarely New Jersey (Long Beach and Cape May); Virginia (Virginia Beach
and Cobb Island); North Carolina (Pea Island, Cape Hatteras, and Fort
Macon); Bermuda; South Carolina (Mount Pleasant and Frogmore); Georgia
(Savannah and Darien); Florida (Amelia Island, Seabreeze, Mosquito
Inlet, and Key West); Bahama Islands (Andros, Watling, and Fortune
Islands); Jamaica; Lesser Antilles (probably Barbados); Brazil (Cajetuba
Island and Iguape); and Argentina (Misiones, San Vicente, and Tombo
Point). South to Argentina (Tombo Point); and Chile (Coquimbo Bay). West
to Chile (Coquimbo Bay); Peru (mouth of the Tambo River and Chorillos);
Ecuador (Santa Elena); Galapagos Islands (Bindloe and Albemarle
Islands); probably Colombia (Carthagena). Vera Cruz (Barra de
Santecomapan); Lower California (San Jose del Cabo, Santa Margarita
Island, San Cristobal Bay, and Cedros Island); California (San Diego,
San Clemente Island, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Bolinas, and Point
Reyes); Oregon (Netarts Bay); and Washington (Grays Harbor and Dungeness

_Spring migration._--Early dates of arrival in the spring are: Maine,
Augusta, April 11, and Saco, May 5; Franklin, Bay of Mercy, June 3,
Prince of Wales Strait, June 7, Walker Bay, June 9, Winter Island, June
10, and Igloolik, June 16; Greenland, coast at about 72 degrees
latitude, May 29, Cape Union, June 5; Kentucky, Bowling Green, May 1;
Missouri, Kansas City, April 30; Illinois, Chicago, May 10; Ohio,
Oberlin, April 6, Lakeside, April 17, and Columbus, May 10; Michigan,
Detroit, May 16; Ontario, London, May 13, and Toronto, May 20;
Minnesota, Goodhue, April 20; eastern Nebraska, Alliance, April 6; South
Dakota, Vermilion, April 29; North Dakota, Harrisburg, May 20; Manitoba,
Oak Lake, May 5; Saskatchewan, Orestwynd, May 23; Mackenzie, Fort
Simpson May 29; Colorado, Loveland, May 12, and near Denver, May 16;
Wyoming, Lake Como, May 5, and Laramie, May 15; Alberta, Edmonton,
April 29, and Fort Chipewyan, June 7; and Alaska, mouth of the Yukon
River, May 10.

Late dates of spring departure are: Georgia, Cumberland, April 14; South
Carolina, Sea Islands, April 23; North Carolina, Fort Macon, May 17, and
Cape Hatteras, May 20; Virginia, Smiths Island, May 22, and Cobb Island,
June 6; New Jersey, Cape May, June 13; New York, New York City, May 30,
Geneva, June 3, and Sing Sing, June 5; Connecticut, Fairfield, May 31;
Massachusetts, Harvard, June 4, Dennis, June 7, and Monomoy Island, June
27; Maine, Scarboro, May 30; Quebec, Quebec City, May 27, and Montreal,
June 1; Kentucky, Bowling Green, May 22; Illinois, Waukegan, May 24, and
Chicago, May 26; Ohio, Painesville, May 28, and Youngstown, June 2;
Michigan, Detroit, May 28; Ontario, Point Pelee, June 1, Toronto, June
2, and Brighton, June 19; Iowa, Emmetsburg, May 25; Wisconsin, Madison,
May 23; Minnesota, Walker, June 10; Texas, Point Isabel, May 3, and
Corpus Christi, May 22; eastern Nebraska, Lincoln, May 21; South Dakota,
Yankton, June 1; Manitoba, Lake Winnipeg, June 8, Shoal Lake, June 8,
and Lake Manitoba, June 12; Saskatchewan, Hay Lake, June 9, and Quill
Lake, June 10; Colorado, Denver, May 31; California, Santa Barbara, May
26; San Nicholas Island, May 30, Hyperion, May 31, and Redondo, June 4;
and Washington, Quillayute Needles, May 30.

_Fall migration._--Early dates of arrival in the fall are: British
Columbia, Okanagan Landing, July 25, and Comox, August 15; Washington,
Dungeness Spit, August 18, Clallam Bay, August 22, and Tacoma, August
23; California, Santa Barbara, July 29; Alberta, Strathmore, July 31;
Montana, Flathead Lake, August 29; Saskatchewan, Big Stick Lake, July
19; Manitoba, Victoria Beach, July 11, Shoal Lake, August 8, and Oak
Lake, August 17; South Dakota, Pine Ridge Reservation, July 12; eastern
Nebraska, Lincoln, August 22; Texas, Tivoli, August 3, Brownsville,
August 15, and Padre Island, August 21; Ontario, Toronto, July 16, and
Ottawa, August 14; Michigan, Charity Island, July 19; Ohio, Lakeside,
July 11, Cedar Point, July 21, and Painesville, July 25; Indiana,
Millers, August 1; Illinois, Chicago, July 24; Massachusetts, Monomoy
Island, July 1, Marthas Vineyard, July 8, and Dennis, July 12; New York,
Brooklyn, July 6, Montauk Point, July 20, and Rochester, July 23; New
Jersey, Cape May, July 20; Pennsylvania, Erie, July 27; Virginia,
Chincoteague, August 1; North Carolina, Church's Island, July 29; South
Carolina, Mount Pleasant, July 14; Florida, Bradentown, July 12,
Pensacola, July 19, Fernandina, July 21, and Daytona Beach, July 28;
Jamaica, Spanishtown, August 20; and Lesser Antilles, St. Croix,
September 13.

Late dates of fall departure are: Alaska, Demarcation Point, August 30;
Mackenzie, Fort Franklin, September 16; Alberta, Beaverhill Lake,
November 8; Colorado, Loveland, September 30, and Pueblo, October 1;
Manitoba, Margaret, October 20, and Lake Manitoba, November 7; North
Dakota, Grafton, September 14; Nebraska, Lincoln, October 4; Wisconsin,
Lake Mills, October 3; Iowa, Burlington, October 15, and National,
October 29; Ontario, Kingston, October 15, Point Pelee, October 16, and
Ottawa, October 22; Michigan, Ann Arbor, October 26, Portage Lake,
November 5, and Forestville, November 24; Ohio, Cedar Point, October 21,
Lakeside, October 29, and Columbus, November 7; Illinois, LaGrange,
October 29, and Chicago, November 3; Franklin, Bay of Mercy, August 30;
Prince Edward Island, North River, October 30; Quebec, Quebec City,
November 12; and Maine, Portland, November 25.

_Casual records._--In spite of its wide distribution the sanderling is
not frequently detected outside of its normal range. Although but a
short distance from the coast, there are only five records for the
vicinity of Washington, D. C. (September, 1874, October 24, 1885,
September 22, 1894, September 26-30, 1898, and September 27, 1898). It
has been taken once in Kansas (Lawrence, October 7, 1874). There also is
a record for the Hawaiian Islands (Hauai in October, 1900) and one in
Haiti (Gaspar Hernandez, March 4, 1916).

_Egg dates._--Greenland: six records, June 29 to July 7. Grinnell Land:
one record, June 24. Arctic Canada: two records, June 18 and 29.




Next to the long-billed curlew and the oyster catchers, this is the
largest of our shore birds. For that reason and for other reasons it is
rapidly disappearing, and before many years it may join the ranks of
those that are gone but not forgotten. Although shy at times, it is
often foolishly tame and is then easily slaughtered. It is large enough
to appeal to the sportsman as legitimate game and it makes a plump and
toothsome morsel for the table. But, worst of all, its breeding grounds
on the prairies and meadows of the central plains are becoming more and
more restricted by the encroachments of agriculture; the wide-open
solitudes will soon be only memories of the past.

In Audubon's (1840) time this was an abundant species and much more
widely distributed than it is to-day. He writes:

     On the 31st of May, 1832, I saw an immense number of these birds on
     an extensive mud bar bordering one of the Keys of Florida, about 6
     miles south of Cape Sable. When I landed with my party the whole,
     amounting to some
     thousands, collected in the manner mentioned above. Four or five
     guns were fired at once, and the slaughter was such that I was
     quite satisfied with the number obtained, both for specimens and
     for food. For this reason we refrained from firing at them again,
     although the temptation was at times great, as they flew over and
     wheeled round us for awhile, until at length they alighted at some
     distance and began to feed.

The marbled godwit is a rare bird in Florida to-day; I saw only one
during the five months of my last winter on the west coast. It was
formerly abundant as a migrant on the Atlantic coast from New England
southward, where now it is merely a straggler. It is still fairly common
on the Pacific coast, where probably most of the birds now go. Even in
Minnesota, close to its present breeding grounds, it has decreased
enormously. Dr. Thomas S. Roberts (1919) writes:

     When the writer, in company with Franklin Benner, went to Grant and
     Traverse Counties in June, 1879, to study the wild life of that
     region, the great marbled godwit was so abundant, so constant and
     insistent in its attentions to the traveler on the prairie, and so
     noisy that it became at times an actual nuisance. They were
     continually hovering about the team, perfectly fearless and nearly
     deafening us with their loud, harsh cries--"go-wit, go-wit." On
     getting out of the wagon to search for their nests, the birds
     became fairly frantic until we were fain to stop our ears to shut
     out the din. Now and then the birds would all disappear and peace
     would ensue for a brief period, but they had only retired to muster
     their forces anew, for shortly a great company would bear down upon
     us, flying low over the prairie, and spread out in wide array, all
     the birds silent, until, when almost upon us, they swerved suddenly
     upward over our heads and broke out again in a wild, discordant
     clamor. Once I counted 50 birds in one of these charging companies.
     This, to us, novel experience, went on from day to day in various
     places and has left a vivid impression that can never be effaced.
     Happenings of this sort have long since become things of the past
     in Minnesota. The godwits gradually disappeared before conditions
     associated with the advance of man into their domain until now it
     is doubtful that more than an occasional pair remains to nest in
     some remote part of the State.

The godwits have always been favorites with me and in my early days I
had always longed to see them. The opportunity came at last when I
visited North Dakota in 1901. We had been collecting for several days in
some extensive sloughs bordering a large lake in Steele County, which we
found exceedingly rich in bird life, when on June 12 I first made the
acquaintance of this magnificent wader. The beautiful Wilson's
phalaropes were flitting about among the tussocks, and it was while
hunting for their nests that we noticed, among the numerous noisy
killdeers and western willets flying over us, a strange hoarse note,
strikingly different from either, as a large brown bird flew past, which
we recognized as a godwit. All doubts were soon dispelled by collecting
my first specimen of a species I had often longed to see, and I could
not help pausing to examine and admire the beautiful markings of its
richly colored wings. We saw only four of these birds that day, but on
the following day they became more abundant. There were about 20 of them
flying about over the meadows, showing considerable concern at our
presence, constantly uttering their peculiar cries, and showing so
little regard for their own safety that we were led to infer that they
were breeding or intending to breed in that vicinity. We spent some time
looking for their nests, but as we knew practically nothing about their
nesting habits at that time, we were not successful in locating any

_Spring._--I can not find that the marbled godwit was ever common on the
Atlantic coast north of Florida in the spring. It still migrates
northward along the Pacific coast, mainly in April; D. E. Brown has seen
it at Gray's Harbor, Washington, as early as April 9. The main migration
route seems to be up the Mississippi Valley, mainly in April; it has
been recorded in southern Saskatchewan as early as April 16.

_Nesting._--In southwestern Saskatchewan, in 1905 and 1906, I became
better acquainted with the marbled godwit on its breeding grounds. Along
the lower courses of the streams, near the lakes, but sometimes
extending for a mile or more back from the lake, are usually found
broad, flat, alluvial plains, low enough to be flooded during periods of
high water. These plains are more or less moist at all times, are
exceedingly level, and are covered with short, thick grass only a few
inches high. Such spots are the chosen breeding grounds of the marbled
godwit, and, so far as our experience goes, the nests of this species
are invariably placed on these grassy plains or meadows.

The godwit makes no attempt at concealment, the eggs being deposited in
plain sight in a slight hollow in the short grass. We found, in all,
four nests of this species with eggs, had two sets of eggs brought to us
by ranchmen, and found two broods of young. The first nest was
discovered on May 29, 1905. We had been hunting the shores of a large
alkaline lake, where a colony of avocets were breeding on the mud flats
near the outlet of a deep, sluggish stream, and it was while following
along the banks of this stream, as it wound its devious course down
through a series of broad, flat meadows, that I flushed a godwit out of
the short grass only a few yards from the stream and about 100 yards
from the lake. On investigation I found that she had flown from her
nest, merely a slight hollow in the grass lined with dry grass, which
had, apparently, been simply trodden down where it grew, without the
addition of any new material brought in by the birds. Only two eggs had
been laid, so we marked the spot for future reference and retired. On
June 5 this nest was photographed, and the four eggs which it then
contained were collected.

While driving across a low, wet meadow, toward a reedy lake, on June 8,
1905, and when about 200 yards from the lake, we were surprised to see
a marbled godwit flutter out from directly under the horse, which was
trotting along at a leisurely pace. We stopped as soon as possible and
found that we had driven directly over its nest, which barely escaped
destruction, for it lay between the wheel ruts and the horse's
footprints, one of which was within a few inches of it. The nest was in
every way similar to the first one, the bird having beaten down the
short grass to form a slight hollow in which the four handsome eggs had
been laid in plain sight.

On June 9, 1906, we visited the locality where the first nest was found,
and I enjoyed a most interesting experience with an unusually tame
individual of this normally shy species. While walking across the flat
meadow near the creek, I happened to see a marbled godwit crouching on
her nest beside a pile of horse droppings. She was conspicuous enough in
spite of her protective coloration, for the nest was entirely devoid of
concealment in the short grass. Though we stood within 10 feet of her,
she showed no signs of flying away, which suggested the possibility of
photographing her. My camera was half a mile away in our wagon, but I
soon returned with it and began operations at a distance of 15 feet,
setting up the camera on the tripod and focussing carefully. I moved up
cautiously to within 10 feet and took another picture, repeating the
performance again within 5 feet. She still sat like a rock, and I made
bold to move still closer, spreading the legs of the tripod on either
side of her and placing the camera within 3 feet of her; I hardly dared
to breathe, moving very slowly as I used the focussing cloth, and
changed my plate holders most cautiously; but she never offered to move
and showed not the slightest signs of fear, while I exposed all the
plates I had with me, photographing her from both sides and placing the
lens within 2 feet of her. She sat there patiently, panting in the hot
sun, apparently distressed by the heat, perhaps partially dazed by it,
and much annoyed by the ants which were constantly crawling into her
eyes and half open bill, causing her to wink or shake her head
occasionally. I reached down carefully and stroked her on the back, but
still she did not stir, and I was finally obliged to lift her off the
nest in order to photograph the eggs.

Two nests found by Gerard A. Abbott (1919) in Benson County, North
Dakota, were evidently better concealed than the nests we found. He

     I was certainly surprised to discover my first godwit's nest with
     the parent crouching beneath a little screen of woven grass blades
     on four heavily blotched eggs. Her general contour and the
     situation and design of the nest was suggestive of many king rails
     whose nests I have found, after noticing how the grass blades were
     woven together canopy like to shield the bird and her treasures.
     About a mile from this nest and screened on one side by willow
     sprouts sat another tame godwit. This time the grassy hollow held
     five boldly marked eggs. Incubation was one-half completed and the
     date was June 8. These five eggs bear a general resemblance to each
     other and I believe they are all the product of the same bird.

_Eggs._--The marbled godwit lays four eggs regularly, very rarely three
and still more rarely five. The eggs are ovate or ovate pyriform in
shape, with a slight gloss. The ground colors usually run from "pale
olive buff" to "deep olive buff," in the greener types from "dark olive
buff" to "ecru olive," and in the brownest types to "Isabella color."
They are more or less sparingly and irregularly marked with small
rounded spots, and with irregular, rarely elongated blotches; these are
often thicker at the larger end, but seldom confluent. The markings are
usually much more conspicuous than in other godwit's eggs, but they are
in dull browns, such as "Saccardo's umber," "warm sepia," and "bister."
The underlying spots and blotches range in color from "pallid brownish
drab" to "deep brownish drab." Some of the greenish types are only
faintly spotted with "light brownish olive." One very handsome egg has a
"pale olive buff" ground color, conspicuously splashed and blotched with
"pale Quaker drab," overlaid with a few small blotches and scrawls of
"Saccardo's umber." The measurements of 64 eggs average 57 by 39.6
millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure =61= by 40.5,
59.5 by =42.5=, =51= by 38.5, and 53.7 by =37.7= millimeters.

_Young._--I have no data on the period of incubation and do not know
whether both sexes incubate or not. The only incubating bird I collected
was a female. Though we looked diligently for the young we did not
succeed in finding any until June 27, 1906. We were driving across some
extensive wet meadows, ideal breeding grounds for marbled godwits, when
we saw a godwit, about a hundred yards ahead of us, leading two of its
young across a shallow grassy pool; we drove toward them as fast as we
could, but as we drew near the old bird took wing and the young
separated, moving off into the grass in opposite directions. They had
evidently been well schooled in the art of hiding and were well fitted
by their protective coloring to escape notice, for, though we secured
one of them readily enough while it was still running, the other
disappeared entirely right before our eyes and within 10 yards of us.
Its disappearance seemed almost miraculous, for there was practically
nothing there to conceal it, as the grass was quite short, and there
were no shrubs or herbaceous plants of any kind in the vicinity. We
searched the whole locality carefully and thoroughly, but in vain. The
youngster may have been crouching flat on the ground, relying on its
resemblance to its surroundings, or it may have taken advantage of some
slight inequalities in the ground and skulked away farther than we
realized. Later in the day we found another pair of godwits, in a
similar locality, with two young, one of which we secured. The young
were in the downy stage, and apparently not over a week old. They showed
unmistakable godwit characters, particularly in the shape of the head
and bill, and the long legs and neck.

_Plumages._--The downy young marbled godwit is in dull colors. The upper
parts, including the posterior half of the crown, back rump, and wings
are "bone brown" or "light seal brown," variegated on the back and rump
with pale buff or grayish-white. The under parts, including the
forehead, sides of the head, and neck, are "pinkish-buff," deepest on
the neck and flanks, almost white on the belly and head and pure white
on the chin and cheeks. There is a narrow loral stripe, extending not
quite to the eye, a spot behind the ear, and a short stripe in the
middle of the lower forehead of blackish-brown. The shape of the head
and bill is characteristic of the species.

The cinnamon juvenal plumage begins to appear on the flanks at an early
stage and its development is rapid. Before the end of July the young
bird is fully fledged and able to fly. The fresh juvenal plumage is much
like that of the adult in winter; but the throat and the sides of the
head and neck are plain cinnamon without dusky streaks; the feathers of
the back and scapulars are more broadly edged or notched, with brighter
cinnamon; the greater and median wing coverts are much more broadly
bordered with or more extensively cinnamon; the greater coverts are
almost clear cinnamon, with very few dusky markings; and the tail is
more broadly barred with dusky.

Apparently only a very limited amount of molt takes place during the
first year. I have seen birds in juvenal or first winter plumage in
November, January, and May, though the last two may be exceptional
cases. Perhaps some young birds assume the adult plumage at the first
prenuptial molt, but certainly not later than the first postnuptial.
More material is necessary to settle this point.

Adults have a complete postnuptial molt beginning in July and lasting
well into the fall. This produces the winter plumage in which the breast
is immaculate cinnamon and there is little, if any, barring on the
flanks. At the prenuptial molt in February and March the body plumage,
or most of it, and the tail are molted.

_Food._--Doctor Roberts (1919) says of the feeding habits of the marbled

     With their long, up-curved bills they probe the shallow water of
     sloughs and lake shores for aquatic insects and mollusks and also
     spend much of their time on meadows and low-lying prairies, where
     they devour grasshoppers and other insects of many kinds. These big
     birds, when they were as abundant as they once were, must have been
     an important factor in keeping in check the dangerous insect hordes
     of our State. But they, with others of their kind, are gone and man
     is left to fight conditions as he must with agencies of his own
     devising, less efficient, perhaps, than those provided by nature.

Audubon (1840) says: "While feeding on the banks, it appears to search
for food between and under the oysters with singular care, at times
pushing the bill sidewise into the soft mud beneath the shells." The
sand beaches of California are favorite feeding grounds, where I have
seen it associated with the long-billed curlew. I was interested to see
with what dexterity these long-billed birds could pick up a small
mollusk and swallow it; I could plainly see the small object gradually
travel up the long bill and into the mouth of the bird. Other observers
have recorded in the food of this godwit snails, crustaceans, insects
and their larvae, worms, and leeches.

_Behavior._--The flight of the marbled godwit is strong, rather swift
and direct; the head is usually drawn in somewhat, the bill pointed
straight forward, and the feet stretched out behind. Audubon (1840)
says: "When flying to a considerable distance, or migrating, they
usually proceed in extended lines, presenting an irregular front, which
rarely preserves its continuity for any length of time, but undulates
and breaks as the birds advance." Mrs. Florence M. Bailey (1916) writes:

     In flight they often made a close flock, calling _queep, queep,
     queep, queep, queep_, affording a beautiful sight as the light
     struck them and warmed up the cinnamon wings that make such a good
     recognition mark. They soared down handsomely, showing the
     cinnamon, and as they alighted held their wings straight over their
     backs for a moment, the black shoulder straps showing in strong
     contrast to the warm cinnamon.

     Though the flocks were generally most amicable, occasionally one
     or two of their number would get to scrapping. Two got hold of
     each other's bills one day and held on, one or both crying
     lustily. In a group another day two came to blows, first just
     opening their bills at each other and talking argumentatively.
     Later one of them made passes at the other till the harried bird
     lifted his wings as if meditating escape, and finally when a pass
     was made at his long unprotected legs, flew away. When one was
     teased by a companion it often cried complainingly, _go-way,
     go-way, go-way, go-way_.

     It was amusing to watch the birds feed. As a wave rolled up,
     combed over and broke, the white foam would chase them in, and as
     they ran before it, if it came on too fast, they would pick
     themselves up, open their wings till the cinnamon showed, and
     scoot in like excited children. But the instant the water began to
     recede they would right about face and trot back with it,
     splashing it up so that you could see it glisten. As they went
     their long bills--in the low afternoon sun strikingly coral red
     except for the black tip--were shoved ahead of them, feeding along
     through the wet sand, the light glinting from them; and if
     anything good was discovered deeper, the hunters would stop to
     probe, sometimes plunging the bill in up to the hilt, on rare
     occasions when the tidbit proved out of reach, actually crowding
     their heads down into the sand.

Like all of the shore birds, the marbled godwit is exceedingly
demonstrative on its breeding grounds, flying out to meet the intruder
as soon as he appears, making fully as much fuss at a distance from its
nest as near it, and giving no clue as to its exact location. The cries
of one pair of birds often attract others, and I have seen as many as
eighteen birds flying about at one time in an especially favorable
locality. It shows no signs of fear at such times, often alighting on
the ground within ten or fifteen yards, standing for an instant with its
beautifully marbled wings poised above it, a perfect picture of parental
solicitude. Even while they were feeding on the shores of the lakes we
could frequently walk up to within a few yards of them.

Hamilton M. Laing (1913), after describing how a snipe escaped from a
duck hawk by diving into some rushes along a creek, tells of a similar
trick played by a godwit, as follows:

     In the second chase, the victim marked for death was a marbled
     godwit. Having often seen these birds swirling about at a dizzy
     pace and listened to the roar of their long knife wings as they
     smote the air in a playful descent, I felt assured that when the
     hawk started after them he would be very much outclassed. Yet in
     less than half a mile he was among them, had singled a victim and
     was stooping wickedly. Each time the godwit dodged, he emitted an
     angry or terrified cry, but the silent pursuer, with never a sign
     of fatigue, swooped and swooped and wore him down. Each time now
     the hawk overshot his mark a little less in the turnings. The last
     resort of the godwit was exactly that of the other snipe, but the
     former being over the big slough, dropped into the water. I saw the
     hairbreadth escape and the splash, but whether or not the godwit
     dived to get away, I could not tell. Some of the sandpipers can
     dive well, and probably the godwit escaped thus.

_Voice._--The marbled godwit has a great variety of striking and
characteristic notes. Its ordinary call note, when only slightly
disturbed, sounds like _terwhit, terwhit, terwhit_, or _pert-wurrit,
pert-wurrit_, or _godwit, godwit, godwit_, from which its name is
probably derived; these notes are all strongly accented on the last
syllable, and are uttered almost constantly while the birds are flying
about over their breeding grounds. When considerably alarmed these notes
are intensified, more rapidly given, and with even more emphasis,
_kerweek, kerwee-eek_, or _kerreck, kreck, kreck, kerreck_; sometimes
they are prolonged into a loud, long-drawn-out scream _quack,
qua-a-ack_, or _quoick, quoi-i-ick_, somewhat between the loudest
quacking of an excited duck and the scream of a red-shouldered hawk.
There is also a more musical, whistling note, less often heard, sounding
like the syllables _kor-koit_ or _ker-kor-koit, kor-koit_, the accent
being on the _kor_ in each case; this note seems to indicate a more
satisfied frame of mind and is much more subdued in tone. All of these
notes are subject to great individual variation, and, as the godwits are
very noisy birds, we were given ample opportunities to study them, but
to write them down in a satisfactory manner is not so easy.

P. A. Tayerner (1926) writes: "Their loud exasperating
_eradica-radica-radica-radica_ varied with _Your-crazy-crazy-crazy_ and
confirmed by _Korect-korect_ sets all the prairie on the alert."

John T. Nichols says in his notes:

     A bird flying toward decoys gave a single unwhistled note, _hank_,
     likely the flight note of the species in migration. Alighted, it
     had a short, unloud note, a goose-like _honk_, especially when
     other shore birds flew past (Long Island, August). The few godwits
     of any species that I have seen in migration have mostly been

_Field marks._--The marbled godwit is so large and so well marked as a
big brown bird that it is likely to be confused with only one other
bird, the long-billed curlew. It nearly equals the curlew in size, and
the rich cinnamon color in the wings is conspicuous in both species, but
the long, curved bill of the curlew serves to distinguish it, even at a
considerable distance, and the notes of the two birds are quite
different. At short range the shape of the head, the long, slightly
upturned bill, pinkish buff on its basal third, and the bluish-gray legs
are distinctive marks.

_Fall._--As soon as the breeding season is over, or even before all the
broods are fledged, the marbled godwits begin to gather into flocks and
become much more wary. Even as early as June 27, 1906, we saw as many as
36 birds in one flock, but as we did not see any young birds among them
we inferred that these must have been birds whose eggs or young had been
destroyed. As I have always had to leave for the East before the
southward migration began I am unable to give any information on this
subject from personal observation, but Dr. Louis B. Bishop has kindly
placed at my disposal his notes relating to this movement.

At Stump Lake, North Dakota, in 1902, he noted on July 28 a flock of
about 100 marbled godwits, chiefly adults, all that were taken being old
birds; and on July 30 he saw a flock of about 50, which he assumed to be
composed chiefly of young birds, all that were taken being in juvenile
plumage. At the same locality in 1905 he saw on July 26 a flock of about
40, both adults and young, all that were collected being young birds; on
August 2, _all_ of these birds had disappeared. This exact locality, a
sandy point at the western end of the lake, was visited only on the
above dates. These birds were undoubtedly migrants, as they were not
known to have bred in that vicinity.

After I had left Saskatchewan, Doctor Bishop visited the breeding
grounds of the marbled godwits, and on July 3, 1906, found adult birds
tolerably common, but they had all departed two days later. At Big Stick
Lake, from July 18 to 21, 1906, he saw large flocks of adult godwits
containing hundreds of birds, but on July 22 very few were left. He also
writes that adults reach the North Carolina coast in the middle of July,
as he has in his collection adults taken on July 11 and 27, 1904, and
that young birds appear about a month later, as he has specimens taken
August 10 and 19, 1904.

Evidently the godwits move off their breeding grounds as soon as the
young are able to fly, those birds which have been unsuccessful in
rearing their young being the first to leave, and forming the vanguard
of the early migration in July. Probably most of the adults start on
their southward migration before the end of July, and well in advance of
the young, the later flight being composed almost entirely of young
birds, and moving more deliberately.

The fall migration is or was very well marked and rather unique; many
individuals formerly migrated almost due east from their breeding
grounds in the interior to the Atlantic coast of New England. Others
still continue to migrate westward to the Pacific coast and southward to
the Gulf coast. All of the earlier writers indicate that this was an
abundant migrant on the Atlantic coast from New England southward about
the middle of the last century. The immense flocks which passed along
our shores have been gradually disappearing until now only a few
straggling birds are ever seen. Probably what comparatively few birds
are left migrate to the Atlantic coast farther south or to the Gulf or
Pacific coasts. Probably excessive shooting has driven them from their
former haunts. They have always been popular with sportsmen and have
been slaughtered unmercifully. They share with some other species the
fatal habit, prompted by sympathy or curiosity, of circling back again
and again over their fallen companions after a flock has been shot into,
so that it is an easy matter for the gunners to kill them in large

Although it breeds and lives on the grassy meadows of the interior, the
marbled godwit seems to prefer the seacoast on its migrations,
frequenting more rarely the shores of large lakes. It is common as a
migrant on the Pacific coast even as late as December, but it seems to
be absent from California in January and February. Bradford Torrey
(1913) says:

     I have seen godwits and willets together lining the grassy edge of
     the flats for a long distance, and so densely massed that I mistook
     them at first for a border of some kind of herbage. Thousands there
     must have been; and when they rose at my approach, they made
     something like a cloud; gray birds and brown birds so contrasted in
     color as to be discriminated beyond risk of error, even when too
     far away for the staring white wing patches of the willets to be
     longer discernible.

     As a flock there was no getting near them; I proved the fact to my
     dissatisfaction more than once; but sitting quietly on the same
     bay shore I have repeatedly known a single godwit or willet to
     feed carelessly past me within the distance of a rod or two.

_Winter._--It is a comparatively short journey for this godwit to its
winter home in the Gulf States and Central America. I have seen and
collected a few godwits in Florida, but it is now impossible to see
them in anything like the numbers mentioned by Audubon (1840) and
Maynard (1896). The former says:

     This fine bird is found during winter on all the large muddy flats
     of the coast of Florida that are intermixed with beds of racoon
     oysters. As the tide rises it approaches the shores, and betakes
     itself to the wet savannahs. At this season it is generally seen in
     flocks of five or six, searching for food in company with the
     telltale, the yellow shanks, the long-billed curlew, and the white

The latter writes:

     The marbled godwits are very common in the South in winter, but
     they are particularly abundant in Florida. Back of Amelia Island,
     just south of St. Marys River, thus lying just on the extreme
     northern confines of the State, are extensive flats on which are
     pools that become partly dry during winter. These were the familiar
     resorts of the godwits, and flocks of hundreds would gather around
     them. They were quite wild while here, rising with deafening clamor
     when approached, but they had become so attached to the locality
     that they would merely circle about and alight on the borders of
     some neighboring pool. From this point, southward along the eastern
     coast as far as Merritts Island they were very numerous but were
     not common at Miami, and I did not see them on the Keys. On the
     west coast, however, they occurred in large numbers, especially on
     the muddy flats about Cedar Keys. On Indian River I found the
     godwits very unsuspicious, in so much so that I have frequently
     killed them with dust shot.


_Range._--North and Central America. The range of the marbled godwit is
now greatly restricted, the breeding areas being principally in North
Dakota and central Saskatchewan and it is now extremely rare in winter
anywhere on the Atlantic coast.

_Breeding range._--North to Alberta (probably Edmonton); Saskatchewan
(Osler and Crescent Lake); Manitoba (Winnipeg); and Wisconsin (Iron
County). East to Wisconsin (Iron County, Stoughton, and Lake
Koshkonong); and Iowa (Newton). South to Iowa (Newton and probably Sioux
City); South Dakota (Miner County and probably Huron); and Montana
(Billings). West to Montana (Billings and Strater); and Alberta
(Medicine Hat and probably Edmonton). It also has been detected in
summer at Okanagan, British Columbia, Pelican Narrows, Saskatchewan,
Moose Lake, Manitoba, and York Factory, Manitoba.

_Winter range._--North to Lower California (Magdalena Bay and La Paz);
Sinaloa (Mazatlan); Oaxaca (Tehuantepec); western Yucatan; probably
Texas (Corpus Christi); probably Louisiana; and Georgia (Savannah). East
to Georgia (Savannah and Darien); Florida (Amelia Island, Tarpon
Springs, Fort Myers, and Miami); eastern Yucatan (Cozumel Island); and
British Honduras (Belize). South to British Honduras (Belize); and
Guatemala (Chiapam). West to Guatemala (Chiapam); probably Colima
(Manzanillo); and Lower California (Magdalena Bay). Marbled godwits
formerly wintered north to southeastern South Carolina (Frogmore) and
they are casual at this season in southern California (San Diego, Lake
Elsinore, La Jolla, and Humboldt Bay).

_Spring migration._--Early dates of arrival are: Missouri, St. Louis,
April 13, Boonville, April 16, and Corning, April 18; Illinois, Warsaw,
April 2, Calumet, April 4, and Rockford, April 8; Ohio, Lakeside, April
20, and Columbus, April 21; Michigan, Ann Arbor, May 5; Iowa,
Emmetsburg, April 21, and Gilbert Station, April 23; Minnesota, Heron
Lake, April 8, Wilder, April 19, and Goodhue, April 20; Nebraska,
Lincoln, April 18; North Dakota, Bismarck, April 30, Jamestown, May 1,
and Harrisburg, May 5; Manitoba, Oak Lake, April 25, Reaburn, May 2,
Margaret, May 7, and Winnipeg, May 11; Saskatchewan, Indian Head, April
16, McLean, April 16, South Qu'Appelle, April 20, and Wiseton, April 24;
Colorado, Loveland, April 20, Larimer County, April 26; Wyoming,
Cheyenne, May 1, and Douglas, May 15; Montana, Milk River, May 18;
Alberta, Flagstaff, May 10, and Alliance, May 11; California, Santa
Barbara, April 27, San Buenaventura, April 28; and Washington, Grays
Harbor, April 9.

Late dates of spring departure are: Florida, Amelia Island, May 15;
Georgia, Wolf Island, April 30; South Carolina, Hilton Head, April 24;
Missouri, Warrensburg, May 4, and Boonville, May 31; Illinois, Chicago,
May 26; Nebraska, Valentine, May 16; Colorado, Durango, May 28, and
Barr, May 30; Lower California, San Martin Island, April 10, and Turtle
Bay, April 14; and California, Sandyland, June 9, Santa Barbara, June
15, and Los Angeles, June 16.

_Fall migration._--Early dates of arrival in the fall are: California,
Los Angeles, July 7; Lower California, San Quentin, August 6, and Cape
San Lucas, September 9; Wyoming, Douglas, July 31; Colorado, Barr, June
24; Illinois, Chicago, July 22; Ohio, Pelee Island, July 24; Maine, near
Portland, August 8; New Hampshire, Seabrook, August 17, and Rye Beach,
August 27; Massachusetts, Eastham, August 10; Connecticut, West Haven,
August 26; New York, Lawrence, July 21; North Carolina, Pea and Brodie
Islands, July 11; South Carolina, Ladys Island, August 21, and Bay
Point, August 24; and Florida, St. Marks, September 11.

Late dates of fall departure are: California, Nigger Slough, November
15, Humboldt Bay, December 7, and San Diego, December 12; Colorado,
Denver, September 5, Boulder, September 18, and San Luis Lake, October
1; Saskatchewan, Ravine Bank, August 25, and Defoe-Guernsey Camp, August
26; Manitoba, Margaret, September 22; North Dakota, Charlson, September
16, and Westhope, September 24; Nebraska, Lincoln, October 16; Michigan,
Newberry, September 23; Ohio, Sandusky Bay, October 12; Illinois,
northeastern part, October 20; Quebec, Montreal, September 3; Maine,
Popham Beach, September 13; Massachusetts, Newburyport, September 7; New
York, Shinnecock Bay, September 15; New Jersey, Cape May, September 14;
North Carolina, Beaufort, November 17; and South Carolina, Mount
Pleasant, November 3.

_Casual records._--The marbled godwit has on several occasions been
recorded outside of its normal range principally to the south and east
of its winter quarters. Among these are: Ecuador (Santa Rosa, 1877);
Lesser Antilles (Grenada, August 29, 1881, and also from the islands of
Carriacou and Trinidad); Porto Rico (recorded from Boqueron by
Gundlach); and Cuba (recorded from Cardenas in September by Gundlach).
It also has been noted from Alabama (near Greensboro, in 1880, and
Dauphin Island, August 21, 1911); Ontario (Toronto, May 30, 1895, and
June 7, 1890); Arizona (San Pedro River, January 27, 1886); and Alaska
(Ugashik, July 16 and 18, 1881, Nelson Island, July 5, 1910, and Point
Barrow, August 26, 1897).

_Egg dates._--Saskatchewan: 38 records, May 15 to June 27; 19 records,
May 30 to June 9. Minnesota and Dakotas: 16 records, May 10 to June 14;
8 records, May 25 to June 8.




The bar-tailed godwit of Europe is represented in eastern Siberia and
western Alaska by this larger race, with a more spotted rump. From the
above breeding grounds it migrates to a winter range in Australia, New
Zealand, and many oceanic islands. South of Alaska it is a mere
straggler in North America.

_Spring._--On its spring migration the Pacific godwit passes through the
Aleutian Islands and the Pribilof Islands on its way to its breeding
grounds in northwestern Alaska. I saw two birds on Atka Island on June
13, 1911, probably belated migrants; it has been said to breed near
Unalaska, but this seems hardly likely. William Palmer (1899) reported
it as a migrant in the Pribilof Islands from early in May until June 13.
Probably the main northward flight passes through the Kurile and
Commander Islands to northeastern Siberia. Dr. E. W. Nelson (1887) says
of its arrival in Alaska:

     On May 26, 1877, while I was at Unalaska, a native brought in a
     half dozen of these birds, and on June 3 I obtained three others
     from the sandy beach of a small inner bay. They were very
     unsuspicious and easily killed. Although these birds appeared to be
     migrating, yet the following years I found them arriving at Saint
     Michael in flocks of from 25 to 200 from the 13th to 20th of May.
     These flocks were shy and kept in continual motion, wheeling and
     circling in rapid flight over the lowland, now alighting for a
     moment, then skimming away again in a close body. Their movements
     and habits at this season are similar to those of other godwits. By
     the last of May the flocks are broken up, and the birds are
     distributed in small parties over their breeding ground.
Herbert W. Brandt says in his notes:

     For a large shore bird the dinful Pacific godwit is of common
     occurrence on the vast mossy upland tundra about Hooper Bay and is
     even more numerous in similar areas in the Igiak Bay region,
     including the lower slopes of the mountain sides. The vociferous
     guardian parents, however, make themselves so conspicuous by their
     clamorous agitation that they seem more plentiful than they are in
     reality. The first bird to arrive from afar, a beautiful ruddy
     specimen, was captured May 15, and by May 20 occasional bands of 20
     or more birds were feeding along the overflow river margins. These
     flocks remained for some days and were apparently transients, for
     they passed elsewhere. One flock of 21 highly colored birds stayed
     with us until June. In the meanwhile the happy mated pairs had
     already taken charge of their respective upland domains, for on May
     25 a nest with two eggs was found, which on May 28 held four eggs.

_Courtship._--Doctor Nelson (1887) gives a brief account of this, as

     Their courtship begins by the 18th or 20th of May and is carried on
     in such a loud-voiced manner that every creature in the
     neighborhood knows all about it. The males continually utter a loud
     ringing _ku-wew, ku-wew, ku-wew_, which is repeated with great
     emphasis upon the last syllable, and the note may be heard for
     several hundred yards.

_Nesting._--We are indebted to Mr. Brandt for practically all we know
about the nesting habits of this rare species. I quote from his notes,
as follows:

     The Pacific godwit chooses an elevated dry site for its domicile,
     preferring the ridges on the rolling tundra and nests even occur on
     the lower mountain slopes. The nest is well concealed, for it is
     usually placed between clumps of bunch grass and is thus well
     screened from view by the standing vegetation. The structure is
     usually a simple depression in the moss and lichens and lined
     haphazardly with fragments of the surrounding reindeer moss, but
     occasionally a real nest is carefully fashioned with considerable
     grass woven in a circular manner and is thus rather substantially
     constructed. In one instance the bird added to the nesting material
     while the eggs were being laid. The range of measurements of 12
     nests is: Inside diameter, 6 to 7 inches; inside depth, 3 to 4
     inches; and total depth, 3 to 5 inches. I observed the female
     Pacific godwit alone to incubate, but the male was always near by.
     She is perhaps the closest brooder of any incubating shore bird we
     encountered, so much so that she often literally had to be almost
     stepped on before she arose. The alert male lookout meets the
     intruder at a considerable distance from the nest and with a loud
     tongue acts as an escort to the discomfort of the interloper. Thus
     but little clue can be had from the bird's actions as to the
     whereabouts of the brooding female, and in consequence, in spite of
     the number of nests in the region, relatively few are found, and
     those mostly by chance. The peculiar contents of one nest were
     originally five eggs of the willow ptarmigan, on top of which four
     eggs of the Pacific godwit had been laid. Evidently the latter bird
     had driven the ptarmigan away from its nest, as there were but
     three godwit's eggs in it when first observed, the fourth egg
     having been deposited on the following day. The entire nestful was
     left to hatch in order to ascertain whether or not the ptarmigan
     would be reared by the incubating godwit, but this composite set
     was later deserted and then despoiled by jaegers.

_Eggs._--Mr. Brandt was fortunate enough to collect 20 sets of eggs of
this rare species, which he describes in his notes as follows:

     The egg of the Pacific godwit is subpyriform to ovate pyriform in
     outline with the majority following the latter shape although one
     set is elongate ovate. The shell is strong, smooth, slightly
     granular with somewhat of a luster, yet an occasional surface is
     almost dull. There are two general types of ground color--the
     greenish, that is the rule, and the brownish type that we but
     rarely encountered. "Serpentine green," dull "citrine" to
     "yellowish glaucous" cover the range of greenish ground colors,
     while "snuff brown" matches the other type. The surface markings
     are not as numerous as on most shorebirds' eggs, and in consequence
     they are more scattered than usual. These spots are small in most
     instances, but in a few beautiful sets they are large and, more
     rarely, even convergent on the larger end so as to form a rich
     blotch. In a few rare instances there were no surface markings at
     all, the paler underlying spots being the only decoration. The
     primary markings are irregular to elongated without a spiral
     tendency. In color they are "cinnamon brown," "snuff brown," and
     "mummy brown" or "brownish olive," usually the latter if the ground
     color is decidedly greenish. The underlying spots are not very
     bold, although they are numerous and occasionally of considerable
     size. These neutral spots range from "light mouse gray" or "Quaker
     drab" to "deep olive gray" in color. Additional markings of grayish
     black slightly fleck some eggs while they are wanting on others. In
     a few cases these markings assume the form of pen scratches which
     usually encircle the larger end. The eggs, which were the rarest
     that we took on the trip, were always four in number, except for
     one set of three and one nest of five eggs, the only abnormally
     large set that I met with among the Alaska species of the entire
     shore-bird group.

The measurement of his 80 eggs average 55.3 by 38.2 millimeters; the
eggs showing the four extremes measure =60.5= by 37.7, 52.6 by =40.7=,
=50.5= by 38.2, and 54.8 by =36.1= millimeters.

_Young._--The same observer says:

     Both birds share in the duties of incubation and are very zealous
     in defense of their treasures, especially when their pretty tawny
     brown chicks are first bursting forth. We saw the first downy young
     on June 18 when we came upon two and one hatching egg at an
     altitude of about 300 feet on the side of the Askinuk Mountains.
     These sturdy babies have little to fear from their marine enemies
     for their parents dominate the chosen domain with a vigor that no
     feathered creature can withstand. It is very interesting to watch
     the agitated father or mother running rapidly about, scolding, or
     wading in a pool of snow water, every now and then raising its long
     wings to a vertical position above its back, thus exhibiting the
     delicate tints of the underside, and then deliberately folding them
     one at a time.

_Plumages._--The nestling Pacific godwit is warmly covered with long,
thick, soft down, the prevailing colors of which are warm buff and
sepia, in indistinct patterns; none of the markings are clearly
defined, as in the sandpipers, but are soft and blended. The large
circular crown patch is clear "warm sepia," extending in a median stripe
down to the bill; there is a narrow loral stripe from the bill to the
eye and a broader one, though less distinct, from the eye to the
occiput, both "warm sepia"; above these, broad stripes of grayish buff
extend from the lores to the occiput, nearly encircling the dark crown,
from which a median stripe of the sepia extends down the neck. The back,
wings, and thighs are softly variegated with "warm sepia," "wood brown,"
and "cinnamon buff." The under parts are largely "pinkish buff,"
suffused with "cinnamon buff" on the breast and fading out to nearly
white on the chin. The down is all dusky or dark sepia at the base.

In fresh juvenal plumage, as seen in Alaska in August, the crown is
streaked with sepia, the feathers edged with light buff; the feathers of
the mantle, scapulars, tertials, and wing coverts are sepia or dusky,
edged or notched with light buff; the rump and upper tail coverts are
white, but much more heavily spotted with dusky than in the European
form; the remiges are all conspicuously barred with dusky and light
buff; the buff edgings fade out almost to white later on; the under
parts are dull buffy whitish, shaded on the chest with deeper grayish
buff. A postjuvenal molt begins in September, at which the body plumage
is renewed, but not the remiges and few, if any, of the rectrices; most
of the wing coverts are retained and some of the tertials. The resulting
first winter plumage is like that of the adult except for the wings and

At the first prenuptial molt the next spring the sexes begin to
differentiate, the males being more richly colored with more cinnamon
feathers in the white under parts, and the females have the throat and
breast more or less streaked with sepia. This molt is incomplete and
irregular, with much individual variation in the advance toward
maturity. Sometimes there is very little or no molt, the worn winter
plumage being retained until summer; sometimes new winter feathers are
acquired; but usually some or many of the body feathers, the tail, and
some tertials and wing coverts are molted and replaced with feathers
like the adult. The new tail feathers of the first nuptial plumage are
plain gray, unbarred. Birds in this plumage are found on their breeding
grounds and probably breed at this age.

At the next molt, the first postnuptial, the adult winter plumage is
assumed by a complete molt from July to December. Adults have a partial
prenuptial molt, between February and May, which involves most of the
body plumage, usually the tail, some of the tertials, and some of the
wing coverts; they also have a complete postnuptial molt beginning with
the body plumage in July or August. In the adult nuptial plumage the
central pair of tail feathers are barred completely; the others are
usually plain gray, but sometimes the outer pair or two are partially

_Food._--Very little has been published on this subject. William Palmer
(1899) says:

     In the ponds they feed by keeping their bills in the water and move
     invariably all in the same direction, heads to the wind. With care
     I could approach within a few feet. Much the greater part of the
     stomach contents of these birds consisted of hundreds of minute
     threadlike aquatic larvae of a midge (_Chironomis_). Pieces of
     mollusks' shell had been swallowed by several of the birds. Flies,
     closely related to our common house fly, and tiger beetles were
     detected in small quantities. Of the six godwits, five had been
     killed on St. Paul Island, and had fed for the most part upon
     midges, which were probably abundant in a fresh-water pond on the
     island. The sixth bird was taken on Walrus Island. It had caught
     over 500 specimens of a species of beetle (_Aegialites debilis_),
     the sole representative of a unique family of beetles, described
     some time ago and subsequently lost sight of until recently
     discovered again.

The above report on stomach contents was made by Dr. S. D. Judd and has
been amended by Preble and McAtee (1923), who report that the items of
food, ranked by bulk, are flies, 76.6 per cent; beetles, 17; mollusks,
3.6; marine worms, 1.3; and vegetable matter, 1 per cent. The jaws of
marine worms (Nereidae) were mistaken for jaws of tiger beetles.

_Behavior._--Doctor Nelson (1887) writes:

     They frequent open grassy parts of the country and are quick to
     protest against an invasion of their territory. As a person
     approaches, one after the other of the birds arises and comes
     circling about, uttering a loud _ku-wew_ with such energy as to
     make the ears fairly ring. If their nests are near, or they have
     young, they come closer and closer, some of the boldest swooping
     close by one's head and redoubling the din. This same note is heard
     upon all sides while the birds conduct their courtships, and it
     serves also to express their anger and alarm. At the mating season
     the males have a rolling whistle also like that of the ordinary
     field plover, but shorter. When the birds fly at this time they
     hold the wings decurved and stiffened and make a few rapid strokes,
     then glide for a short distance. On the ground it walks gracefully,
     its head well raised, and frequently pauses to raise its wings high
     over the back and then deliberately folds them. They may be decoyed
     when flying in flocks if their whistling note be imitated. If
     wounded and taken in hand, they utter a loud, harsh scream.

Mr. Brandt says in his notes:
     The Pacific godwit has wonderful powers of flight, and, as it
     wheels about protesting against an intrusion, the slightest beat of
     its long, decurved wings seems, without perceptible effort, to
     drive it forward like an arrow from the bow. That its power of
     flight is extraordinary is shown by the fact that it spends the
     winter time of the north in southern Australia and New Zealand. It
     migrates along the eastern coast of Asia and is one of the
     interesting Old World birds that find their northeastern limit on
     the Alaskan shores of Bering Sea. During the love-making period,
     shortly after this godwit's arrival on May 15, it could be heard
     for an hour at a time high up in the air, as it circled about,
     uttering continuously its wild far-reaching cry, which was very
     distinctive among the medley of voices. The call of the male is
     often answered by the female with the syllables, _tut-tut_, not
     unlike a clucking chicken. The Pacific godwit differed from the
     other shore birds nesting at Hooper Bay in that individuals in
     immature plumage were breeding. Sometimes a gray-breasted immature
     female would be paired with a rich plumaged male, or again both
     mates would be in full color; but I encountered many pairs in which
     both parents showed the light grayish breast of adolescence. In
     fact, the immatures seemed to be in the majority. It is believed
     that this godwit does not assume its fully adult feathers until the
     beginning of the third year; but, like the bald eagle, it breeds
     during the second year. The earliest spring arrivals at Hooper Bay
     were immatures and they seemed to migrate in separate flocks. One
     group of about 20 richly cinnamon-breasted adults stayed in our
     vicinity for several days from May 20 onward. Perhaps they were
     resting and feeding in preparation for the final stage of their
     journey to more polar lands for they, as well as all the other
     large flocks of godwits no doubt passed on to the north. The birds
     that nested in the Hooper Bay region arrived in an inconspicuous
     manner, simply filtering into their chosen haunts and were already

_Field-marks._--The Pacific godwit can be easily distinguished in the
field from either of our two other American godwits. The marbled godwit
has much more rufous in the upper parts, particularly in the wings, and
has no white on the rump. The Hudsonian is very dark on the upper parts,
almost black on the wings; it has a pure white rump and a black tail.
The Pacific is dull brown above, with no rufous; it has a white rump,
spotted with dusky, and a tail barred with dark gray and white.

_Fall._--Doctor Nelson (1887) says:

     These godwits are among the first of the waders to leave Alaska in
     fall. The young are flying by the middle of July and before the end
     of August not one of these birds, young or old, is to be found.

Young birds apparently wander northward and eastward before they start
on their southward migration, for they have been taken in August at
Wainwright and at Point Barrow in company with young dowitchers and
red-backed sandpipers.


_Range._--Alaska and eastern Asia south to Australia, New Zealand, and
the Samoan Islands.

_Breeding range._--The Pacific godwit breeds from northeastern Siberia
(Taimyr Peninsula, Marcova, and Nijni Kolymsk); east to western Alaska
(Unalaska Island, Hooper Bay, Kotlik, Pastolik, Cape Prince of Wales,
Cape Blossom, and Kowak River).

_Winter range._--The Malay Archipelago, Samoan and Fiji Islands, New
Zealand, and Australia, and probably other islands of Oceanica.

_Migration._--The migration route of this species is almost entirely in
the Eastern Hemisphere, through the Commander Islands, Japan, China,
and the Philippines. They have been observed to arrive in Siberia on May
10 (Bering Island) and May 30 (Nijni Kolymsk) and in Alaska on May 15
(Hooper Bay), May 20 (St. Paul Island), and May 29 (Unalaska). After the
breeding season, individuals have been known to wander north to the
Colville delta and Point Barrow. The latest date of fall departure noted
for Point Barrow is August 18 and for St. Michael September 10.

_Casual records._--One specimen obtained at La Paz, Lower California
(Belding), and recorded as this species is now regarded as a marbled
godwit, and there is one record from the island of Kauai, and several
from Laysan, Hawaiian Islands (Bryan). A specimen taken on Cape Cod,
Massachusetts, on September 16, 1907, is referable to the European form
_Limosa lapponica lapponica_.

_Egg dates._--Alaska: 15 records, May 25 to July 9; 8 records, May 29 to
June 5.




I can count on the fingers of one hand the red-letter days when I have
been privileged to see this rare and handsome wader. It has always been
among the great desiderata of bird collectors. Its eggs are exceedingly
rare in collections. Many ornithologists have never seen it in life. I
can find no evidence that it was ever common. All the earlier writers
reported it as uncommon or rare. Audubon (1840) referred to it as "of
rare occurrence in any part of the United States." He never saw it in
life and handled only a few market specimens in the flesh.

_Spring._--From its winter home in far southern South America the
Hudsonian godwit migrates in spring by some unknown route to the coast
of Texas, where it arrives in April. I saw three adults and collected a
pair in fine spring plumage near Aransas Pass on May 17, 1923. From
Texas and Louisiana it migrates northward through the Mississippi
Valley, central Canada and the Mackenzie Valley to the Arctic coast.
Prof. William Rowan in his notes refers to it as a scarce, but regular,
spring migrant in Alberta; his dates are between April 29 and May 29. He
and C. G. Harrold (1923) recorded 24 birds between these dates in 1923.
Their records are as follows:

     April 29, 2 flocks of 6 each (also 2 avocets on this date, although
     on the 30th it snowed all day); May 7, 2 Hudsonians at the lake and
     one with a party of marbled godwits at a muddy slough a few miles
     away; May 8, a flock of 4 Hudsonian and 2 marbled; May 15, flock of
     3 Hudsonian, 2 marbled, and 1 Willet; May 22, a fine male Hudsonian
     with 8 or 9 marbled. One other specimen was seen flying over about
     May 10.

At Whitewater Lake, in Manitoba, Mr. Harrold noted one each day on May
10 and 11, 1924, and 12 at the same place in 1925, practically all
between May 13 and 20. I saw one at Lake Winnipegosis on June 5, 1913, a
late date. On the Atlantic coast it is known only as a rare straggler in
the spring and it is practically unknown on the Pacific coast.

_Nesting._--Practically all of what little we know of the nesting habits
of the Hudsonian godwit is contained in Roderick MacFarlane's notes. A
female and four eggs were taken near Fort Anderson on June 9, 1862, from
a nest on the ground made of a "few decayed leaves lying in a small hole
scooped in the earth." Another nest on the Lower Anderson was "on the
borders of a small lake" and was made of "a few withered leaves placed
in a hole or depression in the ground."

A set of four eggs, in the Thayer collection, was collected by Bishop J.
O. Stringer at Mackenzie Bay, June 30, 1897, from "a nest situated in a
hollow in the grass." Edward Arnold also has a set of four eggs, taken
by Bishop Stringer in the same locality on June 29, 1899; the nest was
"in a tuft of grass on an island in Mackenzie Bay."

_Eggs._--The Hudsonian godwit probably lays four eggs normally, though
there are sets of three in collections. What few eggs I have seen, not
over a baker's dozen, are ovate pyriform in shape and have little or no
gloss. The ground colors vary from "dark olive buff" to "olive buff," or
from "light brownish olive" to "ecrue olive." They are usually sparingly
marked with rather obscure spots, irregularly distributed, but generally
mostly around the larger end, in darker shades of similar colors, such
as "buffy olive," "light brownish olive," "buffy brown," "bister," or
"sepia." There are usually underlying spots of "hair brown" or shades of
"drab," and some eggs have a few black dots at the larger end.

A set in the United States National Museum is thus described for me by
J. H. Riley:

     No two eggs in this set are alike. They vary in ground color from a
     little darker than "citrine drab," through "light brownish olive,"
     to "dark olive buff." The darkest egg has a zone of "olive brown"
     spots at the larger end, with a few "clove brown" dots here and
     there, and a few scattered spots and blotches of "olive brown" over
     the rest of the egg. The next darkest egg is similar, but with the
     contrast between the ground color and the "olive brown" zone more
     pronounced and an increase in size and number of the "clove brown"
     spots. The lightest ("dark olive buff" ground) egg has a solid cap
     of "clove brown" at the larger end and quite numerous blotches,
     scrawls, and spots of "clove brown" and "olive brown," with a few
     shell markings of "drab" over the rest of the surface.

Some of the eggs I have seen are much like well-marked eggs of the
black-tailed godwit. The measurements of 27 eggs average 55.2 by 38.1
millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure =60.6= by 39.6,
56 by =41.2=, and =51= by =35= millimeters.

_Plumages._--I have never seen a downy young Hudsonian godwit nor any
very young juvenals. The sexes are alike in the juvenal plumage and
probably all through the first year. The plumages are alike in winter
but the females are somewhat larger. A young female in juvenal plumage,
taken in Maine in September, is similar to the winter adult, except that
the crown is more streaked with dusky; the feathers of the mantle are
"sepia," edged with "pinkish cinnamon"; the scapulars and tertials are
edged, notched, or barred with "cinnamon," and the tail is tipped with
buffy white. I have seen birds in this plumage up to October 13; but
usually the partial postjuvenal molt of the body plumage and probably
some of the scapulars and tertials begins in October. Material is
lacking to illustrate the first prenuptial molt, which takes place in
South America. Probably this molt is very limited in young birds. A
female, taken on May 28 in Wisconsin, probably in first nuptial plumage,
shows a mixture of fresh adult nuptial body feathers both above and
below, and fresh tail feathers, but the primaries are worn. Probably at
the next molt, the first postnuptial, which is complete, the adult
winter plumage is assumed.

Adults have an extensive prenuptial molt, involving everything but the
wings and perhaps the tail. This is accomplished during the late winter
or early spring before the birds migrate. Dr. Alexander Wetmore (1926)

     A male shot March 7 is in full winter plumage with worn primaries
     but newly grown tail feathers and lesser wing-coverts. Two females
     shot March 8 have renewed the flight feathers and tail and have the
     breeding plumage growing rapidly on the body.

The postnuptial molt is complete; the body molt begins in July and is
well advanced towards completion when the birds reach our shores in
August or September; the wings are apparently molted later, after the
birds reach their winter homes in South America. There is a striking
difference between the richly colored nuptial plumage and the dull and
somber winter plumage, with the brownish gray upper parts and the pale
grayish buff under parts.

Strangely enough, all the recent manuals that I have seen state or imply
that the sexes are alike in nuptial plumage; and this in spite of the
fact that many years ago Swainson and Richardson (1831) called attention
to the striking difference between the two sexes, which are decidedly
unlike. In the male the underparts are deep, rich brown, "Mikado brown"
or "Kaiser brown," with much individual variation in the amount of black
transverse barring, which is sometimes almost entirely lacking in the
center of the breast. In the female, which is always somewhat larger,
the under parts are barred with white, dusky, and brown; the feathers
of the flanks are brown with three or four black or dusky bars and broad
white tips; on the breast only the outer half of the feather is brown,
the remainder is white, with two or three dusky bars and a broad white
tip. Careless sexing may have caused the oft-repeated error.

_Food._--Edward H. Forbush (1925) says that "the food of the Hudsonian
godwit includes worms, many insects (including horseflies and
mosquitoes), mollusks and crustaceans, and various small forms of marine

_Behavior._--He also says:

     While with us it seems to have a preference for sandy shores and
     sand spits, but it also frequents mud flats, beaches, and creeks in
     the salt marsh, and sometimes goes to the uplands after insects.

Dr. L. C. Sanford (1903), writing of the habits of the Hudsonian godwit
in the Magdalen Islands, says:

     On the islands where these birds congregate they frequent the large
     open lagoons where the low tide leaves exposed miles of sand bars.
     Here they follow the water's edge and wade in up to the full length
     of their long legs, feeding on animalculae and small larvae, for
     which their bill is peculiarly adapted, having the same flexible
     tip as that of the Wilson's snipe. With the rising water, first the
     small sandpipers, then the larger birds are driven from the flats;
     last of all, the godwit. They start in flocks of from 10 to 20 and
     keep well in the center of the lagoon, flying over the flooded
     flats, avoiding carefully all land, even the farthest points and

     The long black lines of birds undulating in their flight can
     readily be distinguished from any other shore bird. They have a
     very dark appearance. In a short half hour the last flocks have
     passed and there is no further flight until the next tide. At high
     water they congregate on the upper beaches, well out of reach of
     any disturber. For a long time it was impossible to arrange a
     blind in the range of the flight, but finally by piling up heaps
     of seaweed and staking them down far out in the shallow water, we
     managed to kill a small number. They quickly learned the danger,
     however, and would keep on their course just out of reach.

Dr. D. G. Elliot (1895) writes:

     Like the other godwit, its larger relative, it is a shy bird during
     migration and keeps a watchful eye on an intruder in its domain,
     rising at a considerable distance and uttering its shrill cry. It
     sometimes decoys readily, setting its wings and sailing up to the
     wooden counterfeits, lured on by a close imitation of its note, but
     soon discovers the deception and either alights only for a moment
     or else wheels about over the decoys, and hastily departs, provided
     it escapes the rain of shot from the discharged gun of the
     concealed sportsman. About Hudson's Bay it is met with in large
     flocks, resorting to the beach when the tide is low, and feeding on
     the crustacea it discovers there, retiring to the marshes as the
     tide rises.

Professor Rowan writes to me:

     Like the majority of waders, this godwit can swim with ease and has
     been observed swimming of its own accord when crossing from one
     sand ridge to another, and also when dropped into deep water after
     being shot in flight but not killed.

     The flight of the species is distinctly "ploverish." The greater
     contrast, against its white parts, of its darker balance makes it
     distinguishable at considerable distance from the willet when in
     flight. They can easily be mistaken for each other if casually
     observed, especially in the grey plumage of young and fall adults.

     In walking this godwit has much the same attitudes of the marbled,
     generally very ungraceful and altogether hunched up, neck closely
     drawn into the body. It is, however, altogether warier than the
     marbled and carries its neck stretched out more frequently.

     On the whole it is an extremely silent species. I have seen dozens
     of birds but have only heard a call twice. This sounded like
     _ta-it_ on both occasions, less raucous than the marbles call but
     in general quite reminiscent of it.

Doctor Wetmore (1926) says:

     In plain gray winter plumage this godwit is as inconspicuous and
     nondescript in appearance as a willet. In general size it suggests
     a greater yellow-legs, but can be distinguished at any distance by
     its quiet carriage, for it does not practice the constant tilting
     that is the habit of the yellow-legs. These godwits sought company
     with scattered flocks of stilts or smaller shore birds, and in
     feeding walked rapidly, at times in water nearly to their bodies or
     again in the shallows. As they moved they probed rapidly and
     constantly in the mud with a nervous thrusting motion, often with
     the beak immersed clear to their eyes. Morsels of food that were
     encountered were passed rapidly up the length of the bill and
     swallowed. When their movements carried them too near the stilts
     the latter hustled them about, and made them run rapidly to escape
     their bills, but in spite of this discouragement the godwits
     remained in as close proximity as permitted to their belligerent
     neighbors, perhaps, because of similarity in feeding habit. Some
     Hudsonian godwit gave a low chattering call when flushed, a low
     _qua qua_ that resembled one of the notes of _L. fedoa_. As they
     extend the wings to fly the dark axillars show as a patch of black
     and in flight the white tail, with black band across the tip is
     prominent. The birds are hunted to such an extent that they are
     exceedingly wary. When opportunity offered I took only a few for

Referring to their habits in Alberta, C. G. Harrold (1923) says:

     The individuals in the parties seen on April 29 were feeding very
     close together like dowitchers. Not a single bird was seen on dry
     land and most of them were wading about in water 4 inches to 6
     inches deep, one bird swimming after the manner of a yellow-legs
     which has waded out of its depth. Although the Hudsonian godwits
     associate with the marbled, the latter bully them considerably,
     chasing them away if they approach the marbled too closely when

_Voice._--Mr. Harrold (1923) says that "their call note is a soft _chip_
(very unlike the harsh notes of the vociferous marbled), and when
alarmed they utter a low sandpiper-like chattering." They are usually
very silent birds.

_Field marks._--In spring plumage the Hudsonian godwit can be recognized
easily at almost any distance by the rich brown underparts, almost black
upper parts, white rump, and black tail; at a long distance it looks
very black. On the wing in all plumages the white rump and black tail
are conspicuous and the wings are diagnostic; the axillars are jet
black and the lining of the wing is black; the wings are nearly black,
with a small, central white patch, much smaller than that of the willet.
An immature bird while standing, might be mistaken for a willet, but it
is a much slenderer bird and has a longer, slenderer bill.

_Fall._--Hudsonian godwits gather in flocks on the western shores of
Hudson Bay, preparing for their eastward migration to the Atlantic
coasts of the Maritime Provinces and New England. The normal migration
route is probably over the ocean from Nova Scotia to British Guiana or
Brazil, the birds being seen in New England and Long Island only when
driven in by severe storms.

E. A. Preble (1902) saw a number on the beach about 50 miles north of
York Factory as early as July 19, and it was last seen by him below Cape
Churchill on August 24, 1900. This was the beginning of the eastward
migration from Hudson Bay. The species is practically unknown in the
interior of southern Canada in the fall.

Doctor Sanford (1903) writes:

     I have seen these birds on some of the islands in the Gulf of St.
     Lawrence in large flocks. They arrive late in July, the first
     comers being steadily augmented by new arrivals until by the first
     week of August their greatest abundance has been reached. From this
     time on the numbers rapidly decrease, and by the last of the month
     only odd birds are seen. The young appear about the middle of
     September, and until October 1 are common in the same locations. On
     the adjacent mainland and the shores farther south the birds are
     seldom met with, and then only as odd stragglers. Where they stop
     next and what their course is on departing is a mystery. Probably
     they keep well out to the open sea, and along with the golden
     plover wisely skip the United States in the fall flight south.

As indicated above, Hudsonian godwits evidently pass by New England far
out at sea in fair weather, as they are strong, swift fliers, capable of
a long, continuous flight. But during heavy easterly storms they are
occasionally driven in and onto our coasts. The first one I shot was one
of four birds taken on Monomoy Island, Massachusetts, September 5, 1892,
after a severe northeast storm, which lasted for two days and brought in
a heavy flight of shore birds. This was an adult. I have two other
birds, both young birds, taken on Cape Cod on October 2 and 4. Mr.
Forbush (1912) reports "a flock of about 50 birds seen at Ipswich on
August 26, 1908, of which several were killed." He also says:

     On August 13, 1903, a large flight occurred on the Long Island
     coast and many were killed, but little was heard of them to the
     southward. The only flight of godwits that is shown on the record
     of Chatham Beach Hotel for seven years is in August, 1903. No birds
     were taken on the 13th, when the great flight appeared on Long
     Island, for at Chatham the weather apparently was fair, with a west
     wind. One bird, perhaps a straggler from the Long Island flight,
     was picked up on the 20th after a southeast wind had blown for two
     days. On the 26th a northeast wind set in, and it blew from the
     east or northeast for six days. On the 29th seven godwits were
     killed. During the seven years for which the record was kept
     godwits were taken only singly or in pairs, with the above
     exception, and the record shows 42 killed all told. Twenty-four
     were taken during east, north, or northeast winds; eight in
     northwest winds; six in southwest winds; two in west winds; and
     only one in a south wind.

Mr. S. Prescott Fay (1911) reports an unusually heavy flight at Cape Cod
from early in August until October 22, 1910, during which 25 birds were
shot on 17 different dates. He saw a flock of 10 on August 15, but says:

     In most cases they were lone birds and, contrary to their habits,
     were tame and decoyed readily. However, on September 5, during a
     heavy easterly storm with a downpour of rain, a flock of 30 to 35
     birds went over our stand at Chatham. Instead of alighting, as we
     supposed they would do, for they appeared very much exhausted, they
     continued their slow flight and disappeared, going due south in the
     heaviest part of the storm. However, a man a short way below us
     shot three of these birds as we watched them go over him high up,
     and later we found some one else above us had shot one from the
     same flock only a minute or two earlier. One of these men estimated
     that the flock contained over 40 birds, so my figures may be too
     low or else, after he fired, the birds may have separated so that
     we might have seen only part of the original flock.

_Winter._--The winter home of the Hudsonian godwit is in extreme
southern South America, from Argentina and Chile south to the Straits of
Magellan and the Falkland Islands.

A. H. Holland (1892) says that, in Argentina, it "appears in flocks late
in the winter after heavy rains from July to August. They were met with
both in summer and winter plumage." Ernest Gibson (1920) reported it as
formerly "very abundant, in numerous flocks, some of apparently over
1,000," in the Province of Buenos Aires. He says that--

     On more than one of these occasions several birds have dropped to
     my gun. The flock would then again and again sweep round and hover
     over the individuals in the water, uttering loud cries of distress,
     quite regardless of my presence in the open and the renewed
     gunfire. Though the godwit is such an excellent table bird, I found
     myself unable to continue the slaughter under these circumstances.
     I might select my birds, but so closely were they packed together
     that the shots went practically "into the brown," and caused
     innumerable cripples.

Conditions have changed since then, for Doctor Wetmore (1926) writes:

     Save for a record to be mentioned later, the Hudsonian godwit was
     first recorded on November 13, 1920, when four, in winter plumage,
     were found with small sandpipers on the tidal flats near the mouth
     of the Rio Ajo, below Lavalle, Buenos Aires. Two more were seen
     here on November 15. The species was not noted again until March 3,
     1921, when two were seen along the Laguna del Morte in the
     outskirts of Guamini, Buenos Aires. Four more were found on March
     4, one in brown dress and the others still in winter plumage. On
     March 5 eight were recorded, one only showing distinct signs of
     breeding plumage. On the day following three passed swiftly
     northward over the lake without pausing to alight, while on March 7
     eight were seen together and a single bird later, and by a lucky
     shot I secured one, a male. March 8, 12 that fed in a small bay
     were so slow in rising that I secured 3. At dusk 12 more came to
     roost on a mud bar in company with golden plover. Though reported
     50 years ago as found in great bands and among the most abundant of
     shore birds in this region, the small number that I have recorded
     here are all that were observed in continued field work throughout
     the winter range of the species. I was fortunate in seeing these,
     as by chance I found a spot where they tarried in northward
     migration from some point to the south.

The passing of this fine bird must be a cause for regret among sportsmen
and nature lovers alike, to be attributed to the greed of gunners and to
the fact that its large size and gregarious habit made it desirable to
secure and when opportunity offered easy to kill in large numbers. There
is little hope even under the most rigorous protection that the species
can regain its former numbers. It would appear that the small number
that remain winter mainly in Patagonia, as the species was encountered
in any number only when in migration from that region.


_Range._--North America, chiefly east of the Rocky Mountains to southern
South America. Now almost extinct.

_Breeding range._--The only eggs of this species that have been
collected were taken at Mackenzie Bay and on the Anderson River,
Mackenzie. It has been reported in summer from Alaska (Kenai, Nulato,
Ugashik, mouth of the Yukon River, and Point Barrow); east to Prince
Edward Island and the Magdalen Islands (Audubon); but in no case, save
the one above mentioned, is there satisfactory evidence of breeding.
Preble found it common on the Barren Grounds south of Cape Eskimo,
during the early part of August, and it also was noted by him in the
country north of York Factory, in the middle of July.

_Winter range._--The Hudsonian godwit appears to winter only in southern
South America. It has been taken or observed at this season in the
Falkland Islands (Mare Harbor); Argentina (Chubut Valley, Lavalle, Azul,
Buenos Aires, and La Plata); and Chile (Straits of Magellan, Ancud, and
Valparaiso). MacFarlane (1887) reported them as abundant on the coast of
Peru (San Juan) on November 9, 1883, but it seems unlikely that they
were preparing to winter in that latitude.

_Spring migration._--This species always has been apparently rare on the
Atlantic coast in spring and but few records are available. Among these
are Maryland, West River, May 6, 1886 (only record for the State);
Delaware, Rehoboth, May 8, 1906; and New York, Long Beach, May 23,
1925. Records of spring arrival for the interior are not much more
numerous but among these are: Louisiana, Vinton, April 22; Missouri,
April 19; Illinois, Albany, April 22; Ohio, New Bremen, April 22, and
Youngstown, April 26; Michigan, Detroit, May 14; Ontario, Point Pelee,
May 13; Iowa, Blue Lake, May 7; Minnesota, Heron Lake, April 19, and
Grant County, April 25; Kansas, Lawrence, April 19; Nebraska, Lincoln,
May 10; South Dakota, Vermilion, May 8; North Dakota, Harrisburg, May 6;
Saskatchewan, Indian Head, May 11; Montana, Terry, May 10; Alberta,
Beaverhill Lake, April 28; Mackenzie, Fort Anderson, June 7; and Alaska,
Fort Kenai, May 5, Valdez, May 10, Lynn Canal, May 12, and St. Michael,
May 22.

Late dates of spring departure are: Ontario, Toronto, June 13; Iowa,
Sioux City, May 17; Wisconsin, Albion, June 3; Minnesota, Grant County,
May 15, Hallock, May 17, Hallock, May 18, and Mankato, May 25; Nebraska,
Lincoln, May 22, and Ceresco, June 12; South Dakota, Vermilion, May 24;
North Dakota, Charlson, May 22; and Manitoba, Shoal Lake, May 29, and
Lake Winnipegosis, June 5.

_Fall migration._--Early dates of arrival in the fall are: Keewatin,
York Factory, July 19; Manitoba, Big Stick Lake, July 21; South Dakota,
Artesian, July 10; Iowa, Sioux City, August 12; Ontario, Rupert House,
July 30, and Toronto, August 20; Ohio, Pelee Island, August 24;
Illinois, Mount Carmel, August 29, and Aledo, September 9; Louisiana,
New Orleans, September 27; Rhode Island, Newport, July 29; New York,
Shinnecock, August 8, Mastic, August 21, South Oyster Bay, August 25,
and Quogue, August 31; New Jersey, Anglesea, August 26; North Carolina,
Pea Island, September 13, 1911 (only record for the State); and West
Indies, Barbados, October 5, and Dominica, October 8.

Late dates of fall departures are: Keewatin, Cape Eskimo, August 14, and
Fort Churchill, August 24; Minnesota, St. Vincent, September 15;
Wisconsin, Racine, November 1; Ontario, Ottawa, October 11, and Toronto,
October 20; Quebec, Montreal, October 11; Massachusetts, Monomoy Island,
October 2, Ipswich, October 20, and Eastham, November 3; Connecticut,
Little River marshes, October 11, and Lyme, October 30; Rhode Island,
Newport, October 13; and New York, Onondaga Lake, October 13,
Branchport, October 29, and Ithaca, November 5.

_Casual records._--A specimen of the Hudsonian godwit was taken near St.
George, Bermuda, in the fall of 1875.

_Egg dates._--Arctic Canada: 8 records, June 9 to 30.



_Contributed by Francis Charles Robert Jourdain_


The only claim this species has to a place in the North American fauna
rests upon its accidental occurrence in Greenland, where it is said to
have occurred twice. There is, however, an element of doubt about the
records. The first is due to Fabricius, who states in his _Fauna
Greenlandica_ that he had seen a single specimen; the next occurrence is
said to have taken place near Godthaab, or if Holböll's reference is to
the same specimen, at the Kok Islands near Godthaab, and was recorded by
Reinhardt, senior, in 1824. The skin was sent to the Museum at
Copenhagen, but Dr. J. Reinhardt, junior, was unable to find it there,
as he states in the _Ibis_ 1861, page 11. Winge pertinently suggests
that there may have been some confusion with _Limosa haemastica_, of
which species several specimens were sent to Copenhagen from Greenland,
including one from Godthaab, sent by Holböll. The distance from Iceland
to Greenland is not very great, but one would expect stragglers from
that direction to arrive on the east side of Greenland instead of on the
west side, where the great majority of accidental visitors are of
Nearctic origin.

_Spring._--Fortunately we are now in possession of fairly full and
complete descriptions of the courtship activities of this species on the
arrival at its breeding grounds in Holland (Huxley and Montague 1926).
Here it appears during the last days of March; in 1925 the first arrival
took place on March 25, but up to March 31 a large proportion of the
breeding stock had not yet put in an appearance. It is, however,
interesting to note that many of the birds were not only on their
breeding territories, but were obviously in pairs, although some unmated
birds were also present and small flocks of newly arrived birds were
also met with. Evidently the males do not migrate in advance of the
females in order to "stake out their claims," as is the case with
certain other species.

In the British Isles, where the black-tailed godwit has long ceased to
breed, it is now only an irregular passage migrant chiefly from mid
April to mid June, in small numbers along the south and southeast
coasts. The Iceland breeding birds, however, pass through Ireland on
their way north and reach their destination during the latter half of
April or early in May in small flocks, but in these northern latitudes
the breeding season is naturally later than in Central Europe and the
eggs are not laid till late in May.

_Courtship._--This is dealt with by Huxley and Montague (1926) in
considerable detail and is divided into seven sections: (1) The
ceremonial flight and its variations, (2) the joint flight, (3) the
tail display, (4) the scrape ceremony, (5) the pursuit, (6) fighting,
and (7) coition. Taking these consecutively, the ceremonial flight is
much the commonest and most striking action during the courtship period
and is confined to the male alone. He rises at a steep angle with
quickly beating wings, uttering repeatedly a loud trisyllabic call,
_tur-ee-tur_. When a height of some 150 or 200 feet has been gained the
real ceremonial flight starts. The most obvious point about it is the
change of call--the quick trisyllable is suddenly replaced by a
lower-toned disyllable, which may be represented by the letter _ghrutoe_
(or _grutto_, the Dutch name for godwit).

     This change was inevitable; on no single occasion did we hear it in
     any way departed from. The change in flight is equally notable. The
     quick beat of the wings is suddenly slowed and is replaced by a
     succession of slow, clipping strokes; at the same time the wings
     are markedly bent downward just as those of the redshank in some of
     his courtship flights. The tail is spread to the full and is
     twisted round, first to one side and then to the other.
     Simultaneously the whole body is tilted over in the same direction
     as the tail and the bird flaps along with slow wing beats and body
     heeled over for 20 or 30 yards. Then the tail is screwed over
     toward the other side, and the body heels over correspondingly.
     Thus the performing bird flies along rolling from side to side and
     repeating the _grutto_ call continuously. We are, on the whole,
     inclined to attribute it to the rudder action of the tail.

The flight generally takes place within a circle of 150 to 300 yards in
diameter and about 200 feet up, but both direction and duration are
variable and Huxley has seen one bird "rolling" for over a mile in a
straight line, while another has come down after a dozen wing strokes.
The descent is even more striking; the rolling flight and call stop
simultaneously and the bird glides with rigid wings suddenly nose-diving
downwards with almost closed wings till about 50 feet from the ground
when the wings are opened and the godwit sideslips in all directions.
Just before alighting the wings are opened and held vertically for a
second or two afterwards. Another method, occasionally used, is to
descend with the wings about two-thirds open, causing a loud roaring
noise due to the wind passing through the separated primaries, and in
this case the bird alights directly with spread wings and tail.

The "joint flight" is shared by both sexes and is normal in character,
both birds (but especially the male) calling quickly as when rising for
the ceremonial flight. The female is generally slightly in front of the
male on these occasions. During the "tail display" the male struts round
the hen with the tail fully expanded like a fan, but depressed to about
an angle of 60° to 70° with the horizontal and tilts it from side to
side so that the black and white surface is presented to the female. The
"scrape ceremony" is chiefly confined to the male who runs to a
depression and crouches down in it with slightly open wings, tail
coverts puffed out and compressed tail pointing upwards, while he
presses his breast against the ground as if smoothing off a scrape.
Females were noticed to go through this action with appreciably spread
tails and after some scratching with the feet.

Other godwits are always pursued with loud outcry, as well as harriers,
lapwings, etc., but there is little real fighting between males, and
what there is does not seem to be of a particularly vicious type. The
opponents face each other and attempt to seize each other's bills,
striking with their feet as they descend from the jump. Such sparring
rarely lasts longer than two or, at the outside, three minutes. In
coition the hen stands rigid with horizontal bill, the male standing
about a foot behind her "with vibratory wings and spread tail, uttering
a clear disyllabic note; then he rises and floats forward above the
female with dangling legs and no apparent change in the rate of
vibration of his wings. He poses for a moment upon her back, still
calling with wings held stiffly upspread and vibrating tail. Immediately
after pairing both birds usually continue feeding."

_Nesting._--The breeding grounds of this species vary considerably in
character. On the great heaths of Brabant one may come across a pair
nesting in short, dry heather; in the dune country on the Dutch coast
they breed among the sea buckthorn and sallow bushes on the sandhills;
in Texel most pairs prefer the rectangular patches of rich grass in the
"polders" (reclaimed marshes), while in Jutland and Iceland a few pairs
breed on the vast expanses of quaking marsh near the coast. Nowhere have
we met with it more plentifully than in the Dutch polders where I have
seen as many as 13 nests with eggs in a single day. All were much alike;
a saucer-like hollow in the ground where the grass was thickest and
richest, lined with a thick pad of dead grass.

_Eggs._--Here are laid the four pyriform eggs; five have been recorded
once or twice, but the only case of six eggs which is known to me was
probably due to two females sharing a nest. As a rule the eggs do not
vary much, though sometimes a single egg may be found in which the
ground color is pale bluish gray with blotches of deeper ashy gray and a
few darker flecks. The great majority of eggs vary in color from
greenish or olive green to olive brown and occasionally reddish brown in
ground, with blotches or spots of darker brown or olive and a few ashy
shell marks. The measurements of 100 eggs average 54.71 by 37.37
millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure =59.8= by 37.8,
55.3 by =40.7=, =48.5= by 37.7, and 55 by =34= millimeters.

_Young._--The only estimate of the incubation period known to me is that
of Faber, who gives it as 24 days, but recent evidence on this point is
lacking. Both sexes share in the work of incubation, according to von
Wangelin, and this is confirmed by Huxley and Montague, who noticed that
in the earlier stages the male spent, at least in one case, three hours
on the nest to one by the female. This, however, applies only to the
daytime. Hantzsch's statement, that apparently it is carried out by the
hen alone, seems to be quite erroneous. The downy young as soon as dried
are led out of the nest and are closely attended to by both parents.
Only a single brood is reared in the season.

_Plumages._--The molts and plumages are fully described in "A Practical
Handbook of British Birds," edited by H. F. Witherby (1920), to which
the reader is referred.

_Food._--Naumann (1887) records insect larvae, worms, snails and slugs,
fish and frog spawn, tadpoles; also insects (Coleoptera, Orthoptera, and
Odonata). On migration, shells of small marine and fresh-water mollusca
have been found in stomachs, also insects, small shore crustacea
(Gammaridae) and the usual sand or gravel.

_Behavior._--The godwits are striking looking birds, readily
recognizable in summer plumage by the cinnamon pink of the neck and
breast and the bold contrast of black and white in the tail, taken in
connection with the long legs and straight, slightly upturned bill. The
latter character at once distinguishes them from the whimbrels and
curlews and their large size marks them out from most of the other
European Limicolae. The loud, musical, disyllabic call of the male is
also very characteristic. In winter the warm coloring is lost, but the
godwits are noisy birds and at this time of year the breeding note is
replaced by a monosyllabic _chut_. Moreover, their contour when flying
overhead is peculiar, for the long legs are carried out beyond the tail
and have somewhat the effect of long middle tail feathers not unlike
those of the Arctic skua or jaeger.

_Fall._--In the British Isles they begin to appear on our southeast
coasts in August, though not in any numbers as a rule, and have
generally left before the end of October. The Iceland birds assemble in
flocks at the end of August and leave the island by the beginning of
September, while in south Sweden, the Baltic republics, and Poland they
desert their breeding grounds in the latter part of July and drift
southwards to the North German coast. None stay in Holland after
September, and gradually they work their way southward to the shores of
the Mediterranean, where a certain number winter in favorable
localities. The main streams of migration seem to be towards the Straits
of Gibraltar on the west side and along the east side of the Balkan
Peninsula, but along the west side of the peninsula they are much
scarcer. Considerable numbers of west Asiatic birds migrate to the
marshes of the Euphrates and winter there, while others pass into India
and Burma.

_Winter._--During the winter months these godwits either haunt the
seashore, displaying special preference for low-lying coasts where
extensive areas of mud flats are exposed at low tide, or else are to be
found where there are large marshes along the edges of lakes, and less
frequently by the banks of rivers. On the open coasts and the Spanish
marismas they are subject to a good deal of persecution from the larger
falcons, especially the peregrine, which greatly appreciates them as an
article of diet. Lord Lilford describes the great flocks of these
godwits on the lower reaches of the Guadalquiver as spreading out into
long lines or gathering into dense masses like starlings or dunlins,
when trying to avoid the attentions of their long-winged enemies.


_Breeding range._--In Iceland it is very local, being confined to the
low-lying country in the southwest (Arnes and Rangarvalla-Sysla), where
it breeds in fair numbers; Faroes (only once definitely recorded);
formerly in the British Isles from Yorkshire to Norfolk, but extinct as
a breeding species since 1847, unless a possible Lincolnshire record for
1885 is accepted; Belgium, Holland, and its islands, West Jutland, North
Germany, locally in South Sweden, Hungary, Poland, the Baltic Republics
(Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia); in Russia, according to Buturlin, it
breeds in the governments of St. Petersburg (Leningrad), Moscow, Riazan,
on the Volga south to the mouth of the Kama, in the Ufa and Perm
governments north to 60° N. In western Asia it nests in the Tobolsk
government. The Irtysh Valley, Baraba Steppe, and locally in Turkestan,
but the exact limits of this and the smaller eastern race (_L. l.
melanuroides_ Gould) are not yet defined.

_Winter range._--The main winter quarters of this species are in the
Mediterranean region, the coasts of North Africa, and the Nile Valley,
the marshes of Iraq and the Indian Peninsula east of Burma. It has been
recorded from the Azores, Maderia, and the Canaries; is common in
suitable localities along the North African littoral from Morocco
through Algeria and Tunisia to Egypt, and has been recorded from the
Egyptian Sudan, Kordofan, and Abyssinia, and exceptionally as far South
as Natal. In Asia it ranges to the Persian Gulf, the Indian Peninsular,
but scarce in the south, Ceylon, Burma, etc., while the eastern race
visits the islands of Malaysia and ranges to Australia.

_Spring migration._--The northward movement from Morocco takes place in
February and March and it appears in Andalusia in February (late date
April 6). In Corsica it has been noted as late as April 23 and on
passage, Malta, March 24-25. In Tunisia it is most plentiful in February
and March, and does not stay in Egypt after March (late date April 7).
It also stays in the plains of northern India until March (late date
Delhi, May 25). It passes through Portugal in February and March; Italy
in March and April; Greece (February 10, March 7, etc.); Montenegro,
large flock March 17-25; Bulgaria (March 10-31, flock of 200 on April

_Fall migration._--The southward bound hosts arrive in Andalusia in
August-September, but in Portugal, though a few appear in September,
most pass in October. In north Italy the earliest arrival dates from the
end of July, and in the Balkan Peninsular and the passage lasts from
September to November (early date August 18, Bulgaria, late date
November 13, Bulgaria), reaching Egypt in October. At the Euphrates
marshes it arrives early in August and reaches India in October (early
date, Nepal, September 7).

_Egg dates._--In Holland and Germany the first eggs may be found in the
last 10 days of April and early May, but as they are largely taken for
the market at that time, many sets in collections are second and even
third layings. Seven records, April 18-30; 10 records, May 1-10; 12
records, May 11-20; 8 records, May 21-25. In Jutland breeding is rather
later; six records May 10-15; and still later in Iceland, six records,
May 23-June 2.



_Contributed by Francis Charles Robert Jourdain_


The claim of this species to a place in the North American list dates
back to Audubon, who obtained three specimens on Sand Key, near Cape
Sable, Florida. Since that occurrence no other specimens have been

_Courtship._--There are few species the study of whose family life is
attended with greater difficulties than the greenshank. In the first
place it is an exceedingly wary and keen-sighted bird, and furthermore,
it is not sociable during the breeding season, each pair nesting apart
from its fellows in some of the wildest and most desolate country
imaginable. In the British Isles its main breeding grounds are on the
vast expanse of sodden moorland, interspersed here and there by lochs
and "flows" (stretches of water-logged ground with black peaty pools),
which cover a great part of the Scottish counties of Sutherland,
Caithness, and Ross. Further southward it also breeds on suitable ground
in Inverness-shire and other parts, but here the country is more broken
and varied and there are big stretches of old pine forest and more
modern coniferous plantations. In both classes of country observation is
attended with difficulties. On the open treeless moorlands houses are
few and far between, the climate is anything but inviting in early May,
rainstorms are frequent, varied by squalls of hail and fogs, while in
some seasons heavy snowfalls take place from time to time. On the other
hand the country is open, with few hills of any size, and the direction
of the birds' flight can be marked for long distances, while further
south, though the extent of possible breeding ground is infinitely
smaller, it is far more difficult to follow a bird in flight as it skims
over a belt of forest or round a shoulder of a hill. So it is little
wonder that of the actual courtship of the greenshank we have hardly
anything on record. What little we know may be classified under two
heads; the wonderful song flight of the male and the ritual of the
courtship itself. The song flight may be seen even after incubation has
begun, though possibly only in the earlier stages, and has been noticed
by several observers. The fullest and best description is that of Mr. J.
Walpole Bond (1923), which may be summarized as follows:

     When singing, the greenshank rises fairly high--sometimes very
     high--above the moor and starts by soaring, head to wind, of
     course. It may then remain soaring, looking very hawklike indeed,
     while it sings. Or else--and this generally happens--it varies the
     performance by proceeding in a succession of downward, inverted
     arcs of good size, though soaring is resumed for a few moments as
     the summit of each curve is reached. In this case "singing" only
     takes place on the downward portion of the curve; on the down
     curve, too, the wings are sometimes vibrated very rapidly.
     Sometimes also when the "song" itself is in progress the wings are
     flicked up and down with measured rhythm.

The song itself is a musical and moderately fast repeated dissyllable
_tew-hoo_, a rich note, harmonizing with the desolate surroundings in
which bird life, except for an occasional meadow pipit, (_Anthus
pratensis_) is often almost entirely absent. Walpole Bond also notes a
twanging and metallic _chuck_, _dock_, or _duk_, sometimes heard after
each quick _tew-hoo_, and questions whether this latter sound is vocal
or caused by wings or tail. Personally I have not noticed the latter
sound, perhaps because I have generally heard the song at a great height
and always at some distance. It should be added that this performance is
often kept up for long periods. Gilroy (1922) mentions a case when it
lasted for twenty minutes, and though I have not timed the birds, I have
heard it more or less continually for ten or twelve minutes, ending with
a precipitate dive earthwards. Of the actual courtship ritual I have
seen no published record. The birds arrive on their breeding ground
early in April. On an occasion when a heavy snowfall had practically
wiped out all early nests on the Caithness-Sutherland moors, I saw two
birds on a little sandy spit by the side of a small loch. The male was
evidently pressing his attentions on his mate and approached her with
high flapping wings, showing the underside almost as the redshank does,
and actually raising his wing over the hen until at last coition took
place. Both birds remained quiet for some little time afterwards and
then rose together and flew away, calling all the time.

_Nesting._--The information with regard to the nesting habits in all the
older works is of the baldest and scantiest nature, but the last decade
has seen a great advance in our knowledge and Mr. N. Gilroy (1922) in
particular has published a fascinating little pamphlet on this bird in
which his observations on over twenty nests examined between 1906 and
1922 are carefully coordinated, so that now the actions and movements of
breeding birds are much better understood. The whole account is of the
deepest interest, but as it extends to some twenty pages it is only
possible here to give a short résumé of the present stage of our
knowledge. The greenshank generally nests within easy reach of some
small lochan, often a mere pool, to which the young can easily be led by
the parents soon after they are hatched out. The nest itself is usually
on dry ground. On the treeless moorlands of Southerland Caithness it is
almost always made either close up against or actually on one of the
many grey bits of rock lying amongst the heather. Exceptionally it has
been found on the top of a hummock, but as a rule should be looked for
within a few hundred yards of the feeding ground, sometimes quite
exposed but difficult to see as the sitting bird exactly resembles in
color the grey stones lying about and generally sits till almost trodden
on. In the Inverness country the birds nest close to a mark, just as the
Sutherland birds do, but here instead of a grey boulder it is usually a
bit of bleached and dead pine, of which thousands of fragments lie
scattered about. Exceptionally I have known a bird make use of an iron
fence post as a mark. When a bird has been found standing about the edge
of some tiny pool the probability is that his mate is sitting not far
away, but the difficulty of finding her is vastly increased by the fact
that the main feeding ground is generally by the side of a good-sized
lake, which may be any distance from one to four miles away, and here
one of the pair may spend the greater part of the day. Moreover, it is
not uncommon to find that several pairs of birds use the same lakeside
as their main resting and feeding ground. Even so, if the sexes changed
duties at short intervals or behaved in exactly the same manner, it
would not be a matter of great difficulty to trace a bird back to its
nesting ground. But there seems to be considerable individual variation
in this respect. There is, however, a very strong tendency to return to
the same breeding place year after year. The classical case is T. E.
Buckley's record of a nest found between two stones which was again
occupied two seasons later presumably by the same bird, but there are
innumerable cases where two or three nesting sites, used in as many
years, lie within one hundred yards of one another. This makes the
discovery of nests much easier if one can revisit the district for two
or more years in succession. New nests are merely saucer-like
depressions with a few heather stalks and some dead bents, but almost
always some leaves of bay myrtle or bilberry in the hollow, and if the
bird has begun to sit, some of its own small breast feathers.

_Eggs._--Normally, four in number, occasionally only three, while five
have occurred; second layings usually consist of three eggs. Larger
numbers, such as eight, recorded by Booth, are probably due either to
two hens laying together or one clutch spoilt by weather and a second
laid subsequently. They are pyriform in shape and wonderfully handsome,
the ground color varies from stone color to warm buff, marked sometimes
sparingly and sometimes freely with irregular spots and blotches of deep
red-brown, as well as ashy or purplish shell marks. In most eggs the
markings are heavier at the large end. The measurements of 100 eggs
average 51.41 by 34.80 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes
measure =59.8= by =37.7=, =45.8= by 35.4, and 50.4 by =32.4=

_Young._--That incubation is sometimes shared by both sexes is proved by
the fact that both Walpole Bond and Seton Gordon have witnessed the
change of duties and the latter has actually photographed the birds in
the act of changing places. Yet Gilroy watched one bird from 10.45 a. m.
to 7.50 p. m., which remained all the time at a loch side in Sutherland
on May 16, although its mate was sitting on a clutch of fresh eggs.
Evidently there is considerable individual variation in this respect.

_Plumages._--The molts and plumages are fully described in "A Practical
Handbook of British Birds," edited by H. F. Witherby (1920), to which
the reader is referred.

_Food._--During the breeding season the food consists chiefly of insects
and their larvae, but tadpoles and frog spawn are freely taken and Oswin
Lee records a pair feeding busily for nearly an hour in the evening on
them, and small water beetles. Freshwater mollusca, such as _Planorbis_,
are also taken and occasionally a small fish. Along insects the
following genera of Coleoptera have been recorded: _Phyllopertha_,
_Cneorhinus_, _Harpalus_, _Dytiscus_, _Gyrinus_, _Aphodius_, and
_Ilybius_. Among Diptera, Tipula and their larvae; also _Notonecta
glauca_ and _Lestes nympha_. In the autumn and winter a great part of
the food is picked up on the coast and includes worms, lug-worms,
crustacea (_Palaemon_, _Crangon_, _Hippolyte_, _Squilla_, and in large
numbers Gammaridae).

_Behavior._--Although a large proportion of its breeding area is
absolutely devoid of trees, the greenshank also nests in country
intersected by belts of forest, and it is interesting to note that it
perches readily on trees and makes good use of them as lookout posts. It
is always wary and readily takes alarm, rising with loud outcry on the
approach of danger. As MacGillivray notes, when searching for food it
often wades out into the water until it reaches nearly to the tarsal
joint and moves "with rapidity, running rather than walking and almost
constantly vibrating its body." It is interesting to note the difference
in the behavior of individual birds under similar circumstances. As a
rule the incubating bird sits very closely and will sometimes allow
herself to be touched before leaving the eggs. When flushed one bird
will spring up and dart away with rapid flight and a single cry of
alarm, another will for a minute or two fly about with deafening clamor,
and in one case a bird dashed off but pitched about five yards away,
yelping loudly and next minute flew straight at my head, with repeated
cries of _Ip, chip, chip, ip, chip, chip_, etc. Just as it reached me it
sheered off with its long green legs dangling, but returned to the
charge again, repeating the process ten or twelve times, after which it
settled on the ground and called vociferously, but after 10 minutes had
passed flew away still calling. This behavior was, of course, quite

N. Gilroy (1922) lays great stress on one note uttered when the bird is
about to take its place on the eggs. This is a clear, piercing cry of
_Tchook-tchook-tchook_, continually uttered till the bird settles down
on the nest. It does not necessarily imply that the bird is rendered
uneasy by the presence of a watcher and is apparently used even when the
bird is quite undisturbed, so if one is lucky enough to be within
earshot when it is uttered it forms a valuable clue to the position of
the nest.

_Fall._--When the young are fledged the family parties make their way to
the coast. Here they frequent the "pools of brackish water at the heads
of the sand fords and the shallow margins of the bays and creeks" as
MacGillivray says. The same writer describes its flight as "rapid,
gliding, and devious, it alights abruptly, runs to some distance, stands
and vibrates." By September or October at the latest it leaves its
haunts in Scotland and makes its way southward along the coast line.

_Winter._--Although there are a few midwinter records even in the
British Isles by far the greater proportion of these birds spend the
winter from the Mediterranean southward and in southern Asia, the Malay
Archipelago, Australia, etc. Here they are chiefly known as shore birds,
only occasionally being found by the sides of inland lakes and marshes.


_Breeding range._--Scotland, chiefly in the north, but has extended its
range of late years; Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, south to the
governments of St. Petersburg, Pskov, Tula, Riazan, Kazan, and Ufa;
across northern Asia to Kamchatka, south to latitude 55° in the west and
54° in the east.

_Winter range._--The Mediterranean countries and Africa, south to Cape
Province and Natal; in Asia, India, Ceylon, Burma, Siam, China, Hainan,
Formosa, and Japan; Sunda Islands, Moluccas, Borneo, Java, Timor,
Sumatra, Norfolk Island, Australia, and New Zealand.

_Spring migration._--From its winter quarters in South Africa it is
recorded from Morocco (Mogador) in May and near Gibraltar in March,
April, and May (late date May 22); passes Corsica in some numbers (May
8), arrives in Greece, where some also winter, at the end of March and
in April, leaving in May (late date May 8); leaves Egypt in March;
passes Cyprus in April and leaves the marshes of lower Iraq at the end
of April, and also leaves India about the same time. In France it
arrives late in April or early May, and in Spain has been observed as
late as the third week of May, even in the south. First arrivals reach
South Russia in March and pass through north Germany about mid-April,
arriving on the British coasts from the middle of April onward and in
south Sweden in the latter part of May.

_Fall migration._--While the spring migration is usually noticed only in
small numbers, in pairs or even singly, the fall migration is better
marked. From mid-July to late in November they may be met with on the
British coasts, but most birds leave in September-October, passing
through Holland in August and September-October; in North France (early
date mid-July), and reaching Spain in September, crossing over the
Straits of Gibraltar in October, and Malta in September (occasionally in
June, July, and August, probably non-breeders). From Bulgaria it is
reported in September (early date August 20); Montenegro, September
(early date July 19); Cyprus, October 3; and Greece, arrives in
September. Some birds reach the marshes of Iraq at the end of July, but
mostly in August, and in India from the middle to the end of September,
Pegu in October. Along the west coast of Africa they are noted from
Mogador (September), Gambia (September), Gold Coast (September 13), Cape
Province and Natal (September-October).

_Casual records._--Has occurred in Madeira, the Canaries, Azores,
Mauritius (once). Cape Verde Islands, Florida (Audubon), Norfolk Island,
Chile, and Buenos Ayres.

_Egg dates._--Some 39 dates from Scotland all fall in May. The earliest
date for a full clutch is May 9. From May 9 to 16 (22 dates), 17 to 23
(11 dates), 23 to 28 (5 dates).



_Contributed by Francis Charles Robert Jourdain_


The redshank is a recent addition to the American list. Two specimens
have been shot near Angmagsalik, in East Greenland, the first on May 29,
1902, and the second on April 24, 1909, and were recorded by the
superintendent, Johan Petersen. Unfortunately, neither bird was sent to
Copenhagen, so it remains uncertain whether they belong to the typical
race or to the larger form described by Lehn Schiøler as _T. totanus
robustus_. Doctor Coues suggested (1897) that the redshank should be
included in the hypothetical list of North American birds on the ground
of a specimen said to have been taken on Hudson Bay and transmitted to
the British Museum, where, however, it is not to be found.

_Courtship._--Fortunately we have very full accounts of the courtship
and love song of this species from the observations of Messrs. E.
Selous, W. Farren, and J. S. Huxley. Mr. Farren's (1910) account
(incorporating much of Mr. Selous's notes) is as follows:

     In courting, the male redshank approaches the female with his head
     erect and his body drawn up tall and straight. As he draws near he
     raises his wings high above his head for an instant as when
     alighting on the ground after a flight. Then allowing his wings
     gradually to droop he vibrates them and also his legs, the latter
     very rapidly, with a motion suggestion of a soldier "marking time."
     Mr. Selous (1906) has described this action, including the
     vibrating of the wings and legs, as follows: "The male bird,
     walking up to the female, raises his wings gracefully above his
     back. They are considerably elevated, and for a little he holds
     them aloft merely; but soon, drooping them to about half their
     former elevation, he flutters them tremulously and gracefully as
     though to please her." The female, as though unimpressed, turned
     from him and continued to feed, which did not greatly disturb her
     amorous wooer, as he also commenced to peck about as though
     feeding. But very soon he again walks up to the female "and now
     raising his wings to the fluttering height only, flutters them
     tremulously as before. He walks on a few steps and stops. He again
     approaches, and standing beside her--both being turned the same
     way--with his head and neck as it were curved over her, again
     trembles his wings, at the same time making a little rapid motion
     with his red legs on the ground as though he were walking fast, yet
     not advancing." This action occurs with fair frequency during the
     period before egg laying. I have witnessed it several times, having
     first been attracted by the raised wings of the male, rendered
     conspicuous by the white secondaries and undersides, without which
     I should probably not have seen the birds at all.

The habit of deliberately extending the wings upward on alighting, and
thus exposing the light undersurface is one of the most characteristic
actions of the redshank, and the white gleaming of the wing for a
second or so before the wings are furled often enables one to identify
the species even when the birds themselves are too far off to be
recognized otherwise. Mr. Farren (1910) also adds:

     Redshanks are fond of perching, either on horizontal branches of
     trees, on posts or rails; in the Cambridgeshire fens I have seen
     them displaying, as described by Stevenson, on the long low stacks
     of freshly dug peat, and also on the ground. A male may be seen
     running fussily about in front of the female, vibrating its body
     and drooping its wings and often uttering a note similar to the
     trilling song which accompanies the spring soaring flight.

J. S. Huxley (1912) gives a clearer and more complete picture of the
courtship than any previous describer. The first stage consists in the
pursuit of a hen by a male bird. Directly he stops feeding and runs
after her, she runs away. Never in a straight line for any distance, but
in a series of curves, often doubling back and sometimes describing a
circle or even a figure of eight, while the cock follows her line a few
yards behind. The cock's head is held sideways at an angle of quite 20
degrees with the line of his body in order to keep the hen in view, and
his neck is stiffly stretched out. His pure white tail is expanded so
that half is visible on each side of his folded wings. The chase often
lasts for quite a long time, when the hen flies off leaving the male
disconsolate, but sometimes she will stop and then the second stage

The male may run on a yard or two, but soon stops.

     He first unfolds his wings and raises them right above his back so
     as to expose their conspicuous undersurface of pure white, somewhat
     clouded or barred with grey. Then fluttering them tremulously but
     keeping them raised all the time he advances very, very slowly
     towards the hen, lifting his feet high in the air and often putting
     them down scarcely in advance of where they were before. Meantime
     as he steps on he stretches his neck a little forward, opens his
     mouth, and gives utterance to a single continuous note, which is
     changed into a long roll or rattle by the quick vibration of the
     lower mandible. The sound is quite like that of a nightjar, but
     higher and without any of the little breaks in the pitch of the
     note. So he advances closer and closer, the hen usually remaining
     motionless. Again at any time during this stage she may reject his
     suit by flying off, but if she is going to accept him, she simply
     stays still, often without moving a muscle the whole time. As the
     cock gets closer, he gets more and more excited, vibrates his wings
     more and more rapidly, at length so fast that almost his whole
     weight is supported by them, though he still continues to execute
     the high stepping movements with his feet. At last when just behind
     the hen, he abandons the ground and flutters up on to her back on
     which he half alights. The period when he is there on her back is
     the third and last state of the courtship; it is very short and is
     of course in a sense nothing more than getting into the proper
     position for the actual pairing. Sometimes the hen, suddenly
     repugnant, gives a violent jerk or sideways twist and shakes him
     forcibly on to the ground, herself running or flying away.
     Occasionally, however, she apparently is satisfied; she spreads her
     tail diagonally and the cock with a quick and wonderfully graceful
     motion, half supported all the time by his fluttering wings,
     accomplishes the act of pairing. Then the hen gives the same
     violent twist that I have just mentioned, he gets shaken off, and
     they both begin quietly feeding, often side by side.

The love flight of the redshank is a very striking feature of the
courtship and may be seen even after incubation has begun. J. S. Huxley
(1912) describes it as follows:

     A redshank rises up into the air, and there flies in a series of
     switchbacks. Just before the bottom of each switchback he gave very
     quick wing flaps, almost fluttering, one would call it, this made
     him start up again. He went on fluttering or flapping till he was
     about halfway up and for the rest of the upstroke of the switchback
     he soared up with the impetus he had gained. His wings now were set
     back and down; his neck and head thrown up in a beautiful proud
     attitude; his tail spread out. Then he turned the angle of his
     wings and glided down, still in the same attitude.

While flying thus he gives vent to what one may call a song--a series of
pure, sweet single notes, never uttered on other occasions. The flight
may be quite short, or may go on for several minutes. W. Farren (1910)
writing of the same love-flight describes the song as "_Dhu-lee,
dhu-lee, du-lee, du-lee, du-le, dle-dle-dle-dle_," the latter part
becoming shorted and quicker as it nears the end, when it may be
continued to a vanishing point.

It should be noted that the nightjar-like note already referred to is
only used on the second stage of the courtship, yet it was audible at
all hours of the day and night from which Huxley deduced that, as only a
fraction of the courtships were consummated and the total number of
birds did not exceed 50, each bird must pair several times a day.

The contests between the males seem to be usually of a formal character,
but Selous (1906) describes one case where two birds fought with
determination, jumping at one another and each attempting to seize the
mandibles of the other with its own.

_Nesting._--The Iceland redshank has very similar habits to the ordinary
European bird and haunts the swamps and morasses near the sea as well as
the neighborhood of the larger lakes inland during the breeding season.
Here it nests in colonies, varying in number from five or six to about
twenty pairs. The nests are usually some distance apart, and generally
well concealed, the sitting bird choosing a hollow where the vegetation
grows thickest. In the British Isles the common redshank has greatly
increased its breeding range during the last 25 years and has gradually
made its way inland up the river valleys to many districts where it was
previously quite unknown. Here it shares its breeding grounds with the
lapwing (_Vanellus vanellus_), but the nest is not exposed like that of
the latter but neatly hidden at the foot of some tall wisp of dead
grass. The bird will even twist the dead grasses together to get the
required protection and some nests are so artfully hidden that they can
only be found by accidentally flushing the bird. In an East Anglian
marsh a bird got up almost at my feet. There was a small flattened
tussock of grass with long dead stalks growing up round it, but not a
sign of nest or eggs, yet I felt certain that the bird had been
incubating. On probing the solid-looking green tussock my fingers
slipped into a hollow space beneath, where the four eggs were lying. The
bird had been sitting in a neat cup of grass, completely roofed in
above, and had slipped out by parting the growing grass at the side,
which had closed up again. Exceptionally nests may be found, especially
near the coast, quite exposed, but as a rule the bird takes advantage of
every bit of cover available. On the level patches of short rich grass
in the Dutch polders many pairs breed, and I have seen sixteen nests in
a day. Narrow drains only a few inches wide are cut by the farmers in
the turf, and here the grass is not cropped quite so close at the sides,
so even under these disadvantageous conditions the redshanks avoid the
open flats and prefer the partial concealment of the drain sides. In the
great mud flats of the Marisma of the River Guadalquiver in South Spain,
too, there is little in the way of cover, but the nests are never so
exposed as those of the stilt or avocet. But wherever found, whether in
Iceland, Holland, or Spain, there are the excited parents flying round
and round with incessant and clamorous cries of _tu-e-too, tu-e-too_,
alarming all the other breeding species and generally the first to give
warning of danger.

The nest is substantially made of grasses and hollowed out by the
pressure of the bird's breast and little in the way of extraneous matter
is used, though occasionally, especially in open sites, quite a
substantial cup may be built of stalks, grasses, bits of heath, moss,

_Eggs._--Normally four, rarely five, but in second or third layings
three are not uncommon, and cases of six, seven, and eight eggs in a
nest have been recorded, probably due to two hens laying together,
though in some instances they may be due to a full clutch being laid
after an interruption by snow or floods. The eggs are pyriform in shape
and when large series are examined, show considerable variation, the
ground color ranging from creamy white, stone color, to pale greenish
gray or light purplish red and warm reddish ochreous. They are freely
blotched and spotted with purple brown or rich red brown and ashy shell
marks; sometimes a dark hair streak at the big end. In some eggs the
blotches are very large, but others are more uniformly marked with small
spots. In a series they show much richer and redder coloring than
_Vanellus_, _Himantopus_, or _Recurvirostra_, and lack the distinctive
green ground of _Tringa erythropus_. The measurements of 36 eggs from
Iceland average 45.39 by 31.75 millimeters; the eggs showing the four
extremes measure 49 by 32.4, 46.5 by =33.1=, =42.3= by 31.3, and =43.7=
by =30.5= millimeters. The measurements of 100 British eggs average
44.56 by 31.56 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure
=48.4= by 32.4, 46.5 by =33.1=, and =41.5= by =28.5= millimeters. It
would be seen from the above figures that Icelandic eggs (like the
birds) are slightly larger than British specimens. The incubation period
lasts 23 to 25 days and is apparently chiefly undertaken by the female,
but J. Cunningham has shot the male from the eggs.

_Plumages._--The molts and plumages are fully described in "A Practical
Handbook of British Birds," edited by H. F. Witherby (1920), to which
the reader is referred.

_Food._--The redshank is a shore feeder to a great extent for the autumn
months and often a riverside and marsh harvester in spring and summer.
In the latter season its food consists chiefly of insects and their
larvae, including Coleoptera (_Hyphidrus_, _Onthophagus_, etc.),
Diptera, especially Tipulidae; also the larvae of Ephemeridae and
Phryganeidae, spiders, worms (_Lumbrici_); and it is said small frogs
and berries are also taken. In autumn crustacea (including Gammaridae,
shrimps, and small crabs) are taken; also Mollusca (_Cardium_) and
smaller marine univalves and annelids in addition to insect food when
procurable; and small fish have been found in the stomach by Professor

_Behavior._--The restless and wary nature of this very numerous species
renders it very unpopular with the shore shooters, as its loud yelping
cry of _Took took_ alarms every bird within earshot. As they are poor
eating and do not pay for shooting, they frequently escape, although a
good many are shot. During the breeding season it is quite a common
sight to see a redshank perched on a post, or tripping lightly along a
rail with upraised wings, and it will at times even settle on a tree.

_Fall._--As soon as the young are able to fly (for only one brood is
reared in the season) the redshanks form into family parties or small
flocks and work their way down the valleys toward the shore. On the
British coasts large reinforcements arrive from the continent, but it is
not possible to tell whether the birds which remain throughout the
winter are visitors from the north or locally bred birds. In Iceland
they leave about the end of September or early in October, and on the
British coasts are most numerous from mid-July to mid-November.

_Winter._--The main winter quarters of this species are in Africa, but
it is of scarce occurrence in the south; and also in southwestern Asia;
farther east in Asia it is replaced by other races, which winter in
India, the Malay Peninsula, and the islands of Malaysia.


_Breeding range._--In Iceland and the Faeroes the breeding race is _T.
totanus robustus_. The typical race (_T. totanus totanus_) breeds in
suitable localities throughout the British Isles and the Continent of
Europe, north to latitude 71° in Norway, rare in North Finland, and
scarce in Russian Lapland, while it is absent from the islands off the
North Russian coast and reaches about latitude 58° N. in the Urals and
56-1/2° in West Siberia. Southward its range extends to Andalusia,
northern Italy, Sardinia, and in small numbers to Greece, as well as at
over 6,000 feet in the Caucasus. Probably it also nests in Morocco,
though this has not yet been proved, and perhaps also in Tunisia, while
in West Asia it breeds in Turkestan. East Asiatic birds apparently
belong to another race or races.

_Winter range._--The Iceland race (_T. totanus robustus_) passes through
the British Isles and has been recorded from Morocco. The typical race
(_T. totanus totanus_) winters in small numbers in the British Isles and
also on the Scandinavian coast, but not in Central Europe, crossing the
Mediterranean and wintering in Africa, where it has been recorded in
Cape Province and Natal, but only in small numbers, the majority
evidently wintering in the Tropics. Eastward it is found in the marshes
of Iraq and the shores of the Persian Gulf, but probably Indian birds
and those which winter in Ceylon, the Andamans, Malay Peninsula, China,
Hainan, Borneo, Java, Sumatra, Philippines, Celebes, Sunda Islands, and
Japan belong to other races.

_Spring migration._--The passage northward at the Straits of Gibraltar
takes place in March and April, while in Tunisia most leave in April,
though specimens have been obtained in June (probably non-breeders); and
in Egypt it stays till April. In Abyssinia it has been met with in March
(March 12, Zoulla) and most leave the marshes of Iraq in mid-May, though
some stay till the end of the month. It passes Malta in March and April,
and nearly all have left Greece by May, but passes Cyprus in April,
arriving in Holland and Denmark in April and Sweden late in that month
and reaching Finland early in May. Large numbers passed over St.
Catherine's Light in the Isle of Wight from 2.30 a. m. till dawn on
April 3 and 4, 1910.

_Fall migration._--In south Sweden it leaves in September and also
departs from Denmark and Holland about the same time. The passage at the
Straits of Gibraltar takes place in September and October and in Malta
in September, while in the Iraq marshes the first arrivals take place at
the end of July, but the majority come in August, and it is recorded
from Fao in August and September, arriving in Egypt in September, while
it has occurred as far south as the River Niger in the same month.

_Casual records._--It is an occasional visitor on passage to the
Canaries and has been met with on Madeira (March 15, April 20, 26,
September 24, October 24) as well as in East Greenland (Angmagsalik
April 24, May 29).

_Egg dates._--In Iceland the eggs are laid from the end of May to early
in June, May 28-June 8 (six dates), June 9-18 (five dates). In the
British Isles the first eggs are laid at the end of March and through
April and May, but late records in May, even in the north, are probably
due to second layings: March 28 to April 16 (10 dates); April 17 to 25
(16 dates); April 26 to May 5 (10 dates). In the Shetlands Saxby records
the first eggs on May 16. In Holland I have seen some 60 nests between
May 11 and 31, but many were undoubtedly second layings. In Salonika
eggs have been found as early as March 5.




The names, telltale and tattler, have long been applied to both of the
yellow-legs, and deservedly so, for their noisy, talkative habits are
their best known traits. They are always on the alert and ever vigilant
to warn their less observant or more trusting companions by their loud,
insistent cries of alarm that some danger is approaching. Every
sportsman knows this trait and tries to avoid arousing this alarm when
other, more desirable, game is likely to be frightened away. And many a
yellow-legs has been shot by an angry gunner as a reward for his
exasperating loquacity.

The two yellow-legs are still left on our list of game birds, because
their numbers do not seem to decrease much in spite of the large numbers
that are killed every year by sportsmen. William Brewster (1925) says
that he has "failed to note any decided lessening of their numbers in
New England during the past 30 or 40 years." This stability in numbers
is probably more apparent than real. The birds have been driven from
many of their former haunts by increased building of summer colonies,
improvements in seashore resorts, draining and filling of marshes, and
other changes; so that fewer birds can make the restricted localities
seem as well populated as ever.

_Spring._--The spring migration of the greater yellow-legs is well
marked on both coasts and in the interior, a generally northward trend.
It begins in March, reaches the northern States in April and extends
through May or even into June, although most of the birds are on their
breeding grounds in May. The bulk of the flight passes through
Massachusetts in May and through California in April. It seems to avoid
the prairie regions of southern Canada; William Rowan tells me that he
and C. G. Harrold regard it as "probably the scarcest of the regular
waders. In years of steady collecting, during the height of the
migration, spring and fall, he (Harrold) has seen the greater
yellow-legs only half a dozen times." J. A. Munro tells me that in
southern British Columbia, Okanagan Landing, it is much less common in
spring than in fall; he has recorded it as early as March 23.

J. R. Whitaker writes to me from Newfoundland that he usually sees the
first yellow-legs during e