Although a cursory account of the various bay-birds, their habits and
peculiarities, has been given in a previous chapter, it seems desirable
to add a more complete, exhaustive, and specific description. This is
attempted in the following pages, and although the ornithological
characteristics are taken from _Giraud’s Birds of Long Island_, which
seems to have been the resource of all our sporting writers, nothing
else is derived from him; but the facts are stated, either upon personal
knowledge, which is generally the case, or upon reliable information.

As to the abundance or scarcity of any particular species, the
experience of sportsmen will differ according to the accident of flight,
or the locality of their favorite sporting-ground; and in relation to
their shyness or gentleness, much depends upon the time of year and the
condition of the weather. In consequence of the confusion of
nomenclature, it has been deemed advisable to give the scientific
description of the common species, each one being placed under its most
appropriate name, and to collect together as many designations as could
be found to have been applied to them respectively. Nevertheless, many
names will no doubt be omitted, and there will be other birds, and some
quite common varieties, that, among bay-men, have no names whatever.

It is not intended to furnish a description of all the species of
shore-snipe that occasionally are killed, but to supply such information
as will enable the sportsman to distinguish the ordinary varieties; and
such facts as have not been fully stated, which are more especially
applicable to certain members of this great class, are grouped together
under separate heads. Nothing is expected to be added to the
ornithological learning of the world, and only such portions of that
science are given as may be considered desirable for the ready use of
the sportsman in the intelligent pursuit of his pleasures.


_Genus Charadrius, Linn._

_Generic distinctions._–Bill short, strong, straight, about the length
of the head, which is rather large and prominent in front; eyes large;
body full; neck short and rather thick; wings long; tail rounded and of
moderate length; toes connected at the base; hind toe wanting, or
consisting of a small knob.



_Charadrius Helveticus, Wils._

This bird is killed along our bays indiscriminately with the other
snipe, although it does not stool as well as the marlin or yellow-legs.
It passes north early in May, when it is often called the black-bellied
plover, and regarded from its plumage as a distinct variety from the
fall bird; it is then quite shy. In August or September it returns,
being more plentiful in the latter month, and is often found in great
numbers especially at Montauk Point; and at that period the young, being
quite fat, are regarded as delicious eating. It is then greyer in
appearance and not so strongly colored as when in full plumage. Before
the main flight arrives, scattering individuals are heard uttering their
peculiar beautiful and shrill cry, and are seen shyly approaching the
stools, or darting round not far off, and yet afraid to draw close to
them. Its head is large and round, giving rise to the name of bull-head,
which is common on the coast of New Jersey, although in New York it is
generally known as black-breast.

“_Specific Character._–Bill stout, along the gap one inch and
five-sixteenths; length of tarsi one inch and five-eighths. Adult male
with the bill black, strong, shorter than the head; cheeks, loral space,
throat, fore-neck, breast, with a large portion of the abdomen black;
hind part of the abdomen and flanks white; forehead, with a broad band
passing down the sides of the neck and breast, white; crown, occiput,
and hind-neck greyish white, spotted with dusky; upper parts
blackish-brown, the feathers broadly tipped with white; eye encircled
with white; tail and upper tail-coverts white, barred with black, the
former tipped with white; lower tail-coverts white, the outer feather
spotted with black; primaries and their coverts blackish-brown, the
latter margined with white; primary shafts about two-thirds from the
base, white, tips blackish-brown; part of the inner webs of the outer
primaries white; both webs of the inner primaries partially white;
secondaries white at the base, margined at the same; feet black; toes
connected by a membrane. Female smaller. Young with the upper plumage
greyish-brown, the feathers spotted with white; throat, fore-neck, and
upper part of the breast greyish-white, streaked with dusky; rest of the
lower parts white. Length of adult male eleven inches and three
quarters, wing seven and a half.”–_Giraud’s Birds of Long Island._


_Frost Bird_, Greenback.

_Charadrius Pluvialis, Wils._

This bird furnishes great sport at Montauk Point, when the fortunate
sportsman happens to arrive after a fierce north-easter early in
September and during one of those wonderful flights that occasionally
occur. They come readily to the decoys which are placed in the open
upland fields, and were once killed in great numbers on Hempstead plains
before cultivation ejected them. A large number of decoys should be
used, for they are not so easily seen as when set in the water. After
alighting, the golden plover runs with great activity in pursuit of the
insects, mostly grasshoppers, on which it feeds; and when killed it
constitutes a prime delicacy for the table, and brings a high price in
market. It passes to the northward in the latter part of April, and
returns in the early part of September. Its general color on the back is
greenish, and it has a distinct light stripe alongside of the eye. They
often congregate in immense numbers, and I have certainly seen a
thousand in a flock.

“_Specific Character._–Bill rather slender; along the gap one inch and
an eighth; tarsi one and nine-sixteenths. Adult with the bill black,
much slighter than _C. helveticus_; forehead, and a band over the eye,
extending behind the eye, white; upper parts, including the crown,
brownish-black, the feathers marked with spots of golden yellow and dull
white; quills and coverts dark greyish-brown; secondaries paler–the
inner margined with yellowish-white; tail feathers greyish-brown, barred
with paler, the central with dull yellow; shafts of the wing quills
white towards the end, which, with their bases, are dark brown; lower
parts brownish-black, though in general we find them mottled with brown,
dull white, and black; lower tail-coverts white, the lateral marked with
black; feet bluish-grey. Late in autumn, the golden markings on the
upper parts are not so distinct, and the lower parts are greyish-blue.
Length, ten inches and a half, wing seven and one-eighth.”–_Giraud._


Piping Plover.

_Charadrius Hiaticula_, Wils.

The beach-bird, as its name implies, prefers the beaches to the meadows,
and follows each retreating wave of ocean surf in pursuit of its prey,
escaping with amazing agility from the next swell. It is a pretty little
bird, not often associating in flocks, and on hazy days coming well to
the decoys, which should be placed near to the surf, while the sportsman
conceals himself by digging a hollow in the loose sand. Although these
birds are small, they are plump and well flavored, and when flying
rapidly on a level with the flashing breakers, amid the noise and
confusion of old ocean’s roar, are by no means easy to kill. They are
present with us more or less all summer, their diminutive size tending
to protect them from destruction.

“_Specific Character._–Bill shorter than the head; at base orange
color, towards the end black; fore-neck and cheeks pure white, bordered
above with black; rest of the head very pale brown. Adult male with the
bill short, orange at the base, anterior to the nostrils black; forehead
white, with a band of black crossing directly above; upper part of the
head, hind neck, back, scapulars, and wing coverts, pale brown; rump
white, the central feathers tinged with brown; tail brown, white at
base, tipped with the same; lateral feathers pure white–the next with a
spot of blackish-brown near the end; upper tail coverts white;
primaries brown; a large portion of the inner webs white; a spot of the
same on the outer webs of the inner quills; secondaries white, with a
large spot of brown towards the ends; lower surface of the wings white,
a black band round the lower part of the neck, broadest on the sides
where it terminates; entire lower plumage white. Female similar, with
the band on the neck brown. Length seven inches, wing four and a


_Charadrius Vociferus_, Wils.

A worthless bird, furnishing no sport, and poor eating.

“_Specific Character._–A band on the forehead passing back to the eye;
a line over the eye, upper part of the neck all round, and a band on the
lower part of the fore-neck, white; above and below the latter, a broad
black band; rump and upper tail-coverts orange red. Adult with the bill
black; at the base a band of blackish-brown; on the forehead a band of
white passing back to the eye; directly above a band of black; rest of
the head brown, with a band of white behind the eye; throat white; a
broad band of the same color encircling the upper part of the neck;
middle of the neck encircled with black, much broader on the fore-neck;
below which, on the fore-neck, a band of white, followed by a band of
black on the lower neck, the feathers of which are tipped with white, of
which color are the breast, abdomen, under tail-coverts, and sides, the
latter faintly tinged with yellow; tail rather long, rounded; the outer
feathers white, barred with brownish-black, their tips white, with a
single spot of blackish-brown on the outer web; the rest pale
reddish-brown at the base, changing into brownish-black towards the
ends, which are white; some of the inner feathers tipped with
yellowish-brown; the middle feathers are plain brown, with a darker spot
towards the ends, which are slightly tipped with white; upper
tail-coverts and rump reddish-brown, the latter brighter; upper parts
brown, the feathers margined with reddish-brown; primaries dark brown,
with a large portion of the inner web white; a spot of the same color on
the outer webs towards the tips, excepting the first two; their coverts
blackish-brown tipped with white; secondaries white, with a large spot
of brown towards the ends; their tips, with those of the primaries,
white; secondary coverts brown, broadly tipped with white. Length ten
inches, wing seven inches.”–_Giraud._


_Charadrius Rubidus_, Wils.

“_Specific Character._–Bill straight, black, along the gap one inch and
one-eighth; length of tarsi one inch; hind toe wanting. Adult with the
bill straight, about as long as the head. Spring plumage, upper parts,
with the throat, fore-neck, and upper part of the breast rufous,
intermixed with dusky and greyish white; deeper red on the back; lower
part of the breast, abdomen, and sides of the body pure white; tarsi and
feet black; claws small, compressed; primaries, outer webs, black; inner
webs light brown; shafts brown at the base, tips black, rest parts
white; secondaries light brown, broadly margined with white. Winter
dress, lower parts white; upper parts greyish-white, intermixed with
black or dusky, darkest on the back. Length seven inches and
three-quarters, wing four and seven-eighths.”–_Giraud._


_Genus Strepsilas._

_Generic Distinctions._–Bill shorter than the head, strong, tapering,
compressed, and blunt; neck rather short; body full; wings long, of
moderate breadth, and pointed; tail round, rather short, and composed of
twelve feathers; tarsus equal to the middle toe, and rather stout; hind
toe small, fore-toes free, with a narrow margin.


Horse-foot Snipe, Turnstone, Beach-Robins.

_Strepsilas Interpres._

This is a beautiful bird, and stools pretty well, but is rare and mostly
solitary; its young are at Egg Harbor sometimes termed beach-birds. The
brant-bird is considered good eating. It feeds on the eggs of the
king-crab or horse-foot, which it digs up by jumping in the air and
striking with both its feet at once into the sand, thus scratching a
hole about three inches deep and an inch and a half across.

“_Specific Character._–Bill black; feet orange; the head and sides of
the neck streaked and patched with black and white; fore part of the
neck and upper portion of the sides of the breast, black; lower parts,
hind part of the back, and upper tail-coverts white; rump dusky; rest of
the upper parts reddish-brown, mottled with black; primaries dusky; a
band across the wings and the throat white. Young with the head and neck
all round, fore part of the back, and sides of the breast, dusky brown,
streaked and margined with greyish-white; wing-coverts and tertials
broadly margined with dull reddish-brown. It can at all times be
identified by its having the throat, lower parts, hind part of the back,
and the upper tail-coverts white, and the feathers on the rump dusky.
Adult with the bill black, throat white, sides of the head mottled with
black and white; crown streaked with black on white ground; on the hind
neck a patch of white; a patch of black on the sides of the neck, of
which color are the fore-neck and the sides of the breast; lower parts
white; tail blackish-brown, white at the base, of which color are the
lateral feathers, with a spot of black on the inner vanes near the
end–the rest margined with reddish-brown, and tipped with white; upper
tail-coverts white; hind part of the back white; the feathers on the
rump black; fore part of the back mottled with black and reddish-brown;
primaries dark brown, inner webs white; secondaries broadly edged with
white, forming a band on the wings; outer secondary coverts
reddish-brown, inner black; outer scapulars white, with dusky spots;
inner scapulars reddish brown. In winter the colors are duller. Length
nine inches, wing five and three quarters.”–_Giraud._


_Genus Tringà._

_Generic Distinctions._–Bill straight, slender, and tapering,
compressed towards the end, and but little longer than the head; body
rather full; wings very long and pointed; tail rather short and nearly
even; tarsi moderate; hind toe very small, and sometimes wanting; fore
toes slender, of moderate length, and generally divided.


_Red-breasted Sandpiper_.

_Tringà Cinèrea_, Wils. Winter.

_Tringà Rufa_, Wils. Spring.

This delicious and beautiful bird, although far from plentiful,
furnishes excellent sport, coming readily to stool, and flying regularly
and steadily. It mostly affects the marshy islands lying between the
salt water creeks, and derives its name from a fancied resemblance to
the robin, as he is termed among us. It is always gentle, occasionally
abundant, and generally fat and tender; by reason of its steady flight
it is not difficult to kill; and its food, mostly shell-fish, does not
contribute an unpleasant flavor to its flesh. It arrives from the north
about the middle of August, and often lingers for some time on the
meadows. As the season advances its plumage becomes paler, till it
acquires the name of white robin-snipe–although I have often seen them
late in August of the most beautiful and strongly marked coloring, the
breast being a rich brownish red and the back a fine grey.

The robin-snipe is of about the size of the dowitcher, with a shorter
and more pointed bill, and is killed indiscriminately on the stools with
the other bay-birds. Its call consists of two notes, and is sharp and
clear; when well imitated, it will often attract the confiding snipe to
the gunner, exposed in full view, and without decoys. This bird is very
beautiful, and a great favorite.

“_Specific Character._–Bill straight, longer than the head; tarsi one
inch and three-sixteenths long; rump and upper tail-coverts white,
barred with dark brown; region of the vent and the lower tail-coverts
white, with dusky markings. In spring the upper parts are ash-grey,
variegated with black and pale yellowish-red; lower parts, including the
throat and fore-neck, brownish-orange. In autumn the upper parts are
ash-grey, margined with dull white; rump and upper tail-coverts barred
with black and white; lower parts white; the sides of the body marked
with dusky; a dull white line over the eye. Adult in spring–bill black;
a broad band of reddish

[Illustration: THE LIFE CAR.]

brown commences at the base of the upper mandible, extends half-way to
the eye, where it changes to reddish-brown; upper part of head and the
hind neck dusky, the feathers margined with greyish white–a few touches
of pale reddish-brown on the latter; throat, fore-neck, breast, and
abdomen reddish-brown; vent white; lower tail coverts white, spotted
with dusky; upper plumage blackish-brown, upper tail-coverts barred with
black and white; tail pale brown, margined with white; primary coverts
black, tipped with white; secondary coverts greyish-brown, margined with
white. Young with the upper parts greyish-brown; the feathers with
central dusky streaks, a narrow line of cinnamon-color towards their
margins, which are dull white; the lower parts ash-grey. Length of
adult, ten inches; wing, six and three-quarters.”–_Giraud._


Grey, Grass, or Field Plover.

Bartram’s Sandpiper.

_Tringà Bartramia_, Wils.

This bird, although scientifically not a plover, is, by its habits,
entitled to an appellation that common consent has bestowed upon it. It
is found upon the uplands, never frequenting the marshes except by
crossing them while migrating, and feeds, not on shell-fish or the
innumerable minute insects that live in sand and salt mud, but on the
grasshoppers and seeds of the open fields. It never takes the slightest
notice of the stools, is comparatively a solitary bird, and although
continually uttering its melodious cry, does not heed a responsive call.

On the eastern extremity of Long Island, and along the coast of New
England, are vast rolling and hilly stretches of land, where there are
no trees and little vegetation, besides a short thin grass, and here the
plovers rest and feed. They migrate to the southward in August, and
appear about the same time scattered from Nantucket to New Jersey. In
spite of their shyness and the difficulty of killing them, they are
pursued relentlessly by man with every device that he finds will outwit
their cunning or deceive their vigilance.

Rhode Island has long been one of their favorite resorts, but has been
overrun with gunners, who follow the vocation either for sport or
pleasure, and there, for many years, the grey plover were killed in
considerable quantities. Many are still found in the same locality, or
further east, as well as at Montauk Point; but at Hempstead Plains,
where they were once found quite numerous, they appear no longer; and
the eastern shore of New Jersey being unsuited to their habits, they
rarely sojourn or even pause upon it. They travel as well by night as by
day; and in the still summer nights their sweet trilling cry may be
heard at short intervals; while during the day they will often be seen
in small bodies, or singly, winging their way rapidly towards the south.

They are wary, fly rapidly, and are difficult to shoot, and, were it not
for one peculiarity, would escape almost scatheless. Alighting only in
the open fields, where the thin grass reveals every enemy and exposes
every approaching object to their view; readily alarmed at the first
symptom of danger, and shunning the slightest familiarity with man, they
are impossible to reach except with laborious and painful creeping that
no sportsman cares to undertake. Not sufficiently gregarious or friendly
in their nature to desire the company of wooden decoys, they cannot be
lured within gunshot; and it is only through their confidence in their
fellow-beasts that their destruction can be accomplished.

A horse, they know, has no evil design, does not live on plover, and may
be permitted to come and go as he pleases; a horse drawing a wagon is to
be pitied, not feared; and, most fortunately, the birds cannot conceive
that a man would be mean enough to hide in that wagon, and drive that
horse in an ingenious manner round and round them, every time narrowing
the circle till he gets within shot. Man, however, is ready for any
subterfuge to gain his plover; and, seated on the tail-board, or a place
behind prepared for the purpose, he steps to the ground the moment the
wagon stops, and as the bird immediately rises, fires–being often
compelled, in spite of his ingenuity, to take a long shot.

Even in this mode no large number of birds is killed, and by creeping or
stalking few indeed are obtained. One inventive genius made an imitation
cow of slats and canvas painted to represent the living animal, and,
mounting it upon his shoulders, was often able to approach without
detection; when near enough, or if the bird became alarmed, he cast off
his false skin and used his fowling-piece. This was certainly an
original and successful mode of modifying an idea derived from the times
of ancient Troy.

This bird is so delicious and so highly prized by the epicure, that no
pains are spared in its capture; it is by many superior judges regarded
as the richest and most delicately flavored of the birds of America;
while its timid and wary disposition renders it the most difficult to
kill. It is, therefore, justly esteemed the richest prize of the
sportsman and the gourmand, and holds as high a rank in the field as in
the market.

It is not, properly speaking, a bay-bird; but as it is frequently shot
from the stand when passing near the decoys, these few remarks
concerning it are inserted. It is essentially an upland bird, although
from the nature of its migration it passes along the coast and
occasionally far out at sea.

“_Specific Character._–Bill slender, rather longer than the head; tarsi
one inch and seven-eighths; neck rather long, slender; axillars
distinctly barred with black and greyish-white; upper parts dark brown,
margined with yellowish-brown; fore-neck and fore part of the breast
with arrow-shaped markings; rest of the lower parts yellowish-white.
Adult with the bill slender, yellowish-green, dusky at the tip; upper
part of the head dark brown, with a central yellowish-brown line, the
feathers margined with the same color; hind part and sides of the neck
yellowish-brown, streaked with dusky; fore part of the neck and breast
paler, with pointed streaks of dusky; sides of the body barred with the
same; rest of lower parts yellowish-white; lower wing-coverts white,
barred with brownish-black; upper plumage dark-brown, margined with
yellowish-brown, darker on the hind part of the back; primaries
dark-brown; coverts the same color; inner webs of the primaries barred
with white, more particularly on the first–the shaft of which is white;
the rest brown, all tipped with white; secondaries more broadly tipped
with the same; coverts and scapulars dark-brown, margined with
yellowish-brown, and tipped with white; tail barred with black and
yellowish-brown, tipped with white; middle feathers darker,
tipped with black. Length ten inches and a half, wing six and


Winter Snipe.–Black-breast.

_Tringà Alpina_, Wils.

This bird absolutely has no common name.

“_Specific Character._–Bill about one-third longer than the head, bent
towards the end; length of tarsi, one inch. Adult with the bill
black–one-third longer than the head, slightly bent towards the end,
and rather shorter than that of T. Subarquata; upper part of the head,
back, and scapular, chestnut-red, the centre of each feather black,
which color occupies a large portion of the scapulars; wing-coverts and
quills greyish-brown; the bases and tips of the secondaries and parts of
the outer webs of the middle primaries, white; forehead, sides of the
head, and hind neck, pale reddish-grey, streaked with dusky; fore neck
and upper part of breast greyish-white, streaked with dusky; on the
lower part of the breast a large black patch; abdomen white; lower tail
coverts white, marked with dusky; tail light-brownish grey,
streaked–the central feathers darker.

“Winter dress, upper parts brownish-grey; throat, greyish-white; fore
part and sides of neck, sides of the head, and sides of the body, pale
brownish-grey, faintly streaked with darker; rest of the lower parts
white. Length, seven inches and a half; wing, four and an


Peep, Blind Snipe, Frost Snipe, Stilt.

_Tringà Himantopus._

This bird also is nameless: it is rare, although I have killed quite a
number of them, and I believe its numbers are increasing; it rarely
consorts in flocks of more than five or six, stools readily, and is
often mistaken for the yellow-legs.

“_Specific Character._–Bill about one-third longer than the head,
slightly arched; length of tarsi, one inch and throe-eighths. Adult,
with the upper parts brownish-black, the feathers margined with reddish
white; the edges of the scapulars with semiform markings of the same;
rump and upper tail-coverts white, transversely barred with dusky; tail,
light grey, the feathers white at the base and along the middle; primary
quills and coverts brownish-black–inner tinged with grey; the shaft of
the outer primary, white; secondaries, brownish-grey, margined with
reddish-white, the inner dusky; a broad whitish line over the eye; loral
space dusky; auriculars, pale brownish-red; fore part and sides of neck,
greyish white, tinged with red, and longitudinally streaked with dusky;
the rest of the lower parts, pale reddish, transversely barred with
dusky; the middle of the breast and the abdomen without markings; legs
long and slender, of a yellowish-green color. In autumn, the plumage
duller, of a more greyish appearance, and the reddish markings wanting,
excepting on the sides of the head, and a few touches on the scapular.
Length, nine inches; wing, five.”–_Giraud._


American Ring Plover.

_Tringà Hiaticula_, Wils.

This is a small, but delicate, fat, and pretty bird; it does not stool
well, and accompanies the small snipe.

“_Specific Character._–Bill shorter than the head; base, orange color,
towards the point, black; a broad band on the forehead white, margined
below with a narrow black band, above with a broad band of the same
color; rest part of the head wood-brown; lateral toes connected by a
membrane as far as the first joint; inner toes, about half that
distance. Adult male with the bill flesh color at base, anterior to the
nostrils black; a line of black commences at the base of the upper
mandible, passes back to the eye, curving downward on the sides of the
neck; a band on the fore part of the head pure white; fore part of
crown, black; occiput, wood-brown; chin, throat, and fore neck, passing
round on the hind neck, pure white; directly below, on the lower portion
of the neck, a broad band of black; upper plumage, wood-brown;
primaries, blackish-brown; shafts, white–blackish-brown at their tips;
secondaries slightly edged with white on the inner webs; outer webs,
nearest to the shafts, an elongated spot of white; wing-coverts
wood-brown; secondary coverts broadly tipped with white; breast,
abdomen, sides, and lower tail-coverts, pure white; tail brown, lighter
at the base; outer feathers white–the rest broadly tipped with white,
excepting the middle pair, which are slightly tipped with the same.
Female similar, with the upper part of the head and the band on the neck
brown. Length, seven inches and a quarter; wing five.”–_Giraud._


Meadow Snipe, Fat Bird, Short Neck, Jack Snipe, Pectoral Sandpiper.

_Tringà Pectoralis_, Aud.

This is an excellent bird, remaining in the meadows till October, and
becoming fat, rich, and fine flavored, but unfortunately it will not
come to the stools. Although frequently associating in flocks, it can
hardly be said to be truly gregarious, and is as often found with the
different varieties of small snipe as with its own number. It is quite a
difficult bird to kill when on the wing, its flight being rapid and
irregular, and its size small; but when it becomes fat and lazy, after a
long residence in well supplied feeding-grounds, not only is its flight
slower and itself easier to hit, but it is often shot sitting. Its
general color is grey, with white on the abdomen; and its size varies
greatly according to its age and condition, some being of more than
double the size of others. As a natural consequence, considerable
practice is required to distinguish it readily from the ox-eyes by which
it is often surrounded, when the meadow grass hides it, in a measure,
from view. It feeds and dwells altogether in the meadows, finding its
food in the stagnant water collected upon their surface, and is only
plentiful when these are wet. When alarmed, it rises rapidly, and makes
off in a zigzag way, that reminds the sportsman of the flight of English
snipe; and early in the season it is wild and shy. It occasionally
passes over the stools, but never pauses or seems to notice them; and
for this reason, in spite of its epicurean recommendations, it is
generally neglected. In the cool days of September and October, when the
mosquitoes have succumbed in a measure to the frost, its pursuit over
the open meadows is pleasant and exhilarating. It is often killed to the
number of eighty in a day, and is so fat that its body is absolutely

“_Specific Character._–Bill straight, base orange-green; length of
tarsi one inch and one-sixteenth; upper parts brownish-black, edged with
reddish-brown; throat white; fore part of neck and upper part of the
breast light brownish-grey, streaked with dusky; rest of lower parts,
including the lower tail-coverts, white. Adult with the bill straight;
top of the head dark-brown, intermixed with black; sides of the head,
neck, and a large portion of the breast, greyish-brown, streaked with
dusky; chin white; a streak of dark brown before the eye, continuing to
the nostril, directly above a faint line of white; back dark-brown;
feathers margined with white; primary quills dark-brown–shaft of the
first white; outer secondaries slightly edged with white; tail-feathers
brown, margined with brownish-white–two middle feathers darker,
longest, and more pointed; lower part of the breast, abdomen, and sides
of the body and under tail-coverts white; feet dull yellow; tibia bare,
about half the length. Female, the general plumage lighter. Length nine
inches and a half, wing five and a quarter.”–_Giraud._


_Tringà Semipalmata_, Wils.

“_Specific Character._–Bill rather stout, broad towards the point;
along the gap about one inch; length of tarsi seven-eighths of an inch;
bill and legs black; toes half webbed. Adult with the bill slender,
about the length of the head–dark-green, nearly approaching to black;
head, sides, and hind-part; of neck ash-grey, streaked with dusky; upper
parts blackish-brown, the feathers edged with greyish-white; secondary
coverts tipped with white; primary coverts brownish-black, as are the
feathers on the rump; upper tail-coverts the same; wing-quills dusky,
their shafts white; tail-feathers ash-grey, the inner webs of the middle
pair much darker; over the eye a white line; lower parts white; legs
black. Length six inches and a half, wing four.”–_Giraud._

This and the following variety are generally confounded by bay-men; and
being too small to demand much consideration, and never shot unless
huddled together, so that a large number may be bagged, they are called
promiscuously by the odd name ox-eye. They are fat, and almost as good
eating when in prime order as the reed-bird.


Wilson’s Sandpiper.

_Tringà Pusilla_, Wils.

“_Specific Character._–Bill along the gap three-quarters of an inch,
slender; tarsi three-quarters of an inch; legs yellowish-green. Adult
with the bill brownish-black; upper part of the breast grey-brown, mixed
with white; back and upper parts black; the whole plumage above broadly
edged with bright bay and yellow ochre; primaries black–greater coverts
the same, tipped with white; tail rounded, the four exterior feathers on
each side dull white–the rest dark-brown; tertials as long as the
primaries; head above dark-brown, with paler edges; over the eye a
streak of whitish; belly and vent white. Length five inches and a half,
wing three and a half. With many of our birds we observe that
individuals of the same species vary in length, extent, and sometimes
differ slightly in their bills, even with those which have arrived at
maturity.–On consulting ornithological works, we notice that there are
no two writers whose measurement is in all cases alike. With specimens
of the Wilson’s sandpiper, we find in their proportions greater
discrepancy than in many other species–and out of these differences we
are inclined to the opinion that two spurious species have been


Genus Totanus.

_Generic Distinctions._–Bill longer than the head, straight, hard and
slender; neck slender, and both it and body rather long; wings long and
pointed; tail short and rounded; legs long; hind-toe very small, and
the anterior ones connected at the base by webs, the inner being
slightly webbed.


Semipalmated Tatler.

_Totanus Semipalmatus_, Lath.

_Scolopax Semipalmata_, Wils.

This is a fine, large, and beautiful bird; the sharply distinct white
and black of its wings contrasting admirably with the reddish-brown
tints of the marlin and sickle-bills with which it often associates; it
stools well, flying steadily, and often returning after the first, and
even second visit; but even when fat, it is tough and ill-flavored. It
congregates in large flocks, and reaches the Middle States on its
southern journey in the latter part of August. Its cry is a fierce wild
shriek, which is rarely, if ever, accurately imitated; but it responds
to the call of the sickle-bill, and when once headed for the stools,
rarely alters its course. In exposed situations it is shy and difficult
of approach, like most of the shore-birds, which, although they come up
so unsuspiciously to the decoys, are wary of the gunner, and rarely
permit him to crawl within range of them.

“_Specific Character._–Secondaries and basal part of the primaries
white; toes connected at base by broad membranes. Adult with the head
and neck brown, intermixed with greyish-white; breast and sides of the
body spotted, and waved with brown on white ground; abdomen white;
tail-coverts white, barred with brown; tail greyish-brown, barred with
darker brown–the outer two feathers lighter; rump brown; fore part of
the back and wing-coverts brown, largely spotted with dull white;
primaries blackish-brown, broadly banded with white; secondaries white.
Length fifteen inches and a half, wing eight.”–_Giraud._


Big Yellow-Legs–Greater Yellow-Shanks–Tell-tale Tatler.

_Totanus Vociferus_, Wils.

This is one of the most numerous of the bay-birds, and among the most
highly prized for its sport-conferring properties. It stools well,
although occasionally suspicious, and will often drop like a stone from
the clouds, where it is fond of flying, upon receiving a response to its
strong, clear, and easily imitated cry. It will also frequently come
within shot in the open, when the sportsman is unaided by his decoys.
Its flight is uneven, being often slow when approaching or pausing over
the stools, and then exceedingly rapid and irregular when alarmed; and
if there are no stools to make the Yelper hesitate, it has a bobbing
motion, as if searching for the origin of the call, that makes it
exceedingly difficult to kill. Moreover, it is vigorous, and will carry
off much shot, as in fact is the habit with all the shore-birds, and is
tough and sedgy on the table.

It does not associate in large flocks, but roams about in parties of
three or four.

“_Specific Character._–Bill along the ridge two and a quarter inches;
tarsi two and a half; legs yellow. Adult with the bill black, at the
base bluish; upper part of the head, loral space, checks, and neck,
streaked with brownish-black and white; throat white; a white line from
the bill to the eye; a white ring round the eye; breast and abdomen
white, spotted and barred with brownish-black; sides and tail-coverts
the same; lower surface of the primaries light grey–upper
brownish-black, the inner spotted white; wing-coverts and back brown,
spotted with white, and dusky; scapulars the same; tail brown, barred
with white. Winter plumage, the upper parts lighter–larger portion of
the breast and abdomen white; sides of the body barred with dusky.
Length, fourteen inches; wing, seven and a quarter.”–_Giraud._


Little Yellow-Legs–Yellow-Shanks Tatler.

_Totanus Flavipes_, Lath.

_Scolopax Flavipes_, Wilson.

This bird in appearance is almost identical with the yelper, except that
it is much smaller, not being more than half as large. It has several
calls, consisting of one or more flute-like and shrill notes, which are
rather difficult to imitate. It is probably the most plentiful of all
the bay-snipe, making its summer visit in July, and continuing to arrive
till late in September. It collects in immense flocks, and stools
excellently, but its flight is irregular and rapid; and when frightened,
it darts about in a confusing way that often baffles the sportsman. When
wounded it will swim away, and, if possible, crawl into the grass to

Although a pleasant bird to shoot, it is unattractive on the table, even
when in best condition, unless killed along the fresh water, where it
attains an agreeable and delicate flavor. Both it and the yelper are
found in considerable numbers on the marshy shores of the western lakes,
where it and the other smaller bay-birds are called, indiscriminately,

Wonderful stories are told of the number of yellow-legs killed at one
shot, and as it is a small bird, these are probably not exaggerated. By
Wilson the yellow-legs, the yelper, and willet are classed among the
_Scolopacidæ_ or snipe, but the other ornithologists have erected a
separate genus for them.

“_Specific Character._–Bill along the ridge one inch and three-eighths;
length of tarsi one inch and seven-eighths; legs yellow. Adult with the
bill black; throat white; upper part of the head, lores, cheeks, hind
part and side parts of the neck, deep brownish-grey, streaked with
greyish-white; eye encircled with white, a band of the same color from
the bill to the eye; fore neck, sides of the body, and upper part of the
breast, greyish-white, streaked with greyish-brown; lower part of the
breast and abdomen white; lower tail-coverts white, the outer feathers
barred with brown; scapulars and fore part of the back brown, the
feathers barred and spotted with black and white; primaries
blackish-brown, the shaft of the outer brownish-white, whiter towards
the tip, the rest dark-brown; secondaries margined with white; hind part
of the back brownish-grey; tail barred with greyish-brown, white at the
tip; legs, feet, and toes, yellow; claws black. Length, ten inches and
three-quarters; wing, six. Young with the legs greenish–and by those
who have not recognised it as the young of the year, I have heard the
propriety of its name questioned.”–_Giraud._


Genus Limosa.

_Generic Distinctions._–Bill very long, a little recurved from the
middle, rather slender, and with the lower mandible the shorter. Wings
long and very acute; tail short and even; legs long; toes four, and
rather slender, the hind one being small and the middle toe the longest;
anterior toes connected at the base by webs, the outer web being much
the larger.


Great Marbled Godwit.

_Limosa Fedoa_, Linn.

_Scolopax Fedoa_, Wils.

This is the gentlest and most abundant of the large birds, approaching
the decoys with great confidence and returning again and again, till
frequently the entire flock is killed. In color it is a reddish-brown,
lighter on the abdomen, and its flight is steady and rather slow.
Although better eating than the willet, and very rich and juicy, its
flesh cannot be called delicate. The ring-tailed marlin or Hudsonian
Godwit, _Limosa Hudsonica, Lath._ is a finer but much scarcer bird, and
resembles somewhat in color the willet, but has the marlin bill, which
is longer than that of the last-named species.

“_Specific Character._–Bill at base yellow, towards the end
blackish-brown; upper parts spotted and barred with yellowish-grey and
brownish-black; lower parts pale reddish-brown; tail darker, barred with
black. Adult male with the bill at the base yellowish-brown, towards the
end black; head and neck greyish-brown, tinged with pale reddish,
streaked with dusky–darker on the upper part of the head and hind neck;
throat whitish, lower parts pale reddish-brown; under tail-coverts
barred with brown; tail reddish-brown, barred with dusky; upper
tail-coverts the same; upper parts barred with brownish-black and pale
reddish-brown, spotted with dusky; inner primaries tipped with
yellowish-white; scapulars and wing-coverts barred with pale
reddish-brown and greyish-white; shaft of the first primary white, dusky
at the tip; inner shafts at the base white, rest part light brown,
excepting the tips, which are dusky. Length, sixteen inches; wing, nine
and a half. Female larger, exceeding the male from three to four


Hudsonian Godwit.

_Limosa Hudsonica_, Lath.

“_Specific Character._–Bill blackish-brown, at base of lower mandible
yellow; upper parts light brown, marked with dull brown, and a few small
white spots; neck all around brownish-grey; lower parts white, largely
marked with ferruginous; basal part of tail-feathers and a band crossing
the rump, white. Adult with the bill slender, blackish to wards the tip,
lighter at the base, particularly at the base of the lower mandible; a
line of brownish-white from the bill to the eye; lower eyelid white;
throat white, spotted with rust color; head and neck brownish-grey;
lower parts white, marked with large spots of ferruginous; under
tail-coverts barred with brownish-black, and ferruginous; tail
brownish-black, with a white band at the base; a band over the rump;
tips of primary coverts and bases of quills white; upper tail-coverts
brownish-black–their base white; upper parts greyish-brown, scapulars
marked with darker; feet bluish. Length, fifteen inches and a half;
wing, eight and a half. Young with the lower parts brownish-grey, the
ferruginous markings wanting.”–_Giraud._


_Genus Scolopax_, Linn.

_Generic Distinctions._–Bill long, at least twice the length of the
head; straight, tapering, and flattened towards the end; eyes rather
large, placed high in the head, and far back from the bill; neck of
moderate length, and rather thick; body full; wings rather long and
pointed; tail moderate and rounded; legs moderate; toes slender and
rather long, except the hind one; middle toe longest, and connected at
the base with the inner by a slight web, the outer one being free.


Dowitch–Brown Back–Quail-Snipe–Red-Breasted Snipe.

_Scolopax Noveboracensis_, Wils.

This is a beautiful, excellent, and plentiful bird; it abounds in the
marshes during the entire summer, congregates in vast flocks, and
although uttering a faint call itself, is attracted to the decoys by the
cry of the yellow-legs, or almost any sharp whistle. It is remarkably
gentle, individuals often alighting when their associates are slain, in
spite of the unusual uproar; and it can be more readily approached than
any of the bay-birds. Its flesh, moreover, is quite delicate, and when
fat somewhat similar to that of the English snipe, which it greatly
resembles in appearance. In general color it is brownish, with a light
abdomen, but occasionally the breast is as red as that of a robin in
full plumage. Its flight is steady, although when alarmed it “skivers,”
or darts about rapidly, and as it flies in close ranks, it suffers
proportionally. Although it is rather looked down upon by persons who
wish to make a show of large birds, I am always entirely satisfied with
a good bag of well-conditioned dowitchers.

“_Specific Character._–Spring plumage, upper parts brownish-black,
variegated with light brownish-red; lower parts dull orange-red, abdomen
paler, spotted and barred with black; rump white; the tail feathers and
the upper and lower tail-coverts, alternately barred with white and
black. In autumn the upper parts are brownish-grey; the lower parts
greyish-white; the tail feathers and the upper and lower tail-coverts
the same as in spring. Adult with the bill towards the end black,
lighter at the base; top of the head, back of the neck, scapulars,
tertials, and fore part of the back, blackish-brown, variegated with
ferruginous; secondaries and wing-coverts clove-brown, the latter edged
with white, the former tipped with the same; hind part of back white;
the rump marked with roundish spots of blackish-brown; upper
tail-coverts dull white, barred with black; tail feathers crossed with
numerous black bands, their tips white; loral band dusky, the space
between which and the medial band on the fore part of the head,
greyish-white, tinged with ferruginous, and slightly touched with dusky;
sides of the head spotted with dark-brown; lower parts dull orange-red,
the abdomen lighter; the neck and fore part of breast spotted with
dusky; the sides of the body with numerous bars of the same color; legs
and feet dull yellowish-green. Young with the lower parts paler. Winter
dress, the upper parts brownish-grey; neck ash-grey, streaked with
dusky; lower parts greyish-white, with dusky bars on the sides of the
body. Length, ten inches and a half; wing, six.”–_Giraud._


_Genus Numenius_, Briss.

_Generic Distinctions._–Bill very long, slender, decurved or arched,
with the upper mandible the longer, and obtuse at the end; head rounded
and compressed above; neck long, body full, wings long, feet rather
long; toes connected at the base; _tibia_ bare a short space above the
knee; legs rather long; tail short and rounded.


Short-billed Curlew. Hudsonian Curlew.

_Numenius Hudsonicus_, Lath.

This is a graceful and elegant bird, but so shy and so well able to
carry off shot, that it is regarded as the most difficult to kill of all
the bay-birds. It has a long, rolling cry, and although it approaches
the decoys, it rarely alights, or even pauses over them; but, detecting
the deception, it turns off or passes on in its course. For this reason,
the fortunate sportsman who kills a “Jack” is eminently satisfied,
although its flesh is not remarkably fine.

“_Specific Character._–Length of bill, three inches and three-quarters;
tarsi, two inches; lower parts white. Adult with the upper part of the
head deep brown, with a central and two lateral lines of whitish; a
brown line from the bill to the eye, and another behind the eye; neck
all round, pale yellowish-grey, longitudinally streaked with brown,
excepting the upper part of the throat, which is greyish-white; upper
parts in general blackish-brown, marked with numerous spots of
brownish-white, there being several along the margins of each feather;
wings and rump somewhat lighter; upper tail-coverts and tail barred with
dark-brown and olivaceous grey; primaries and their coverts
blackish-brown, all with transverse yellowish-grey markings on the inner
web; the shaft of the first quill, white–of the rest, brown; breast and
abdomen greyish-white, the sides tinged with cream color, and barred
with greyish-brown; bill rather more than twice the length of the head,
of a brownish-black color–at the base of the lower mandible, flesh
colored. Length, eighteen inches; wing, nine and a half.”–_Giraud._


Long-billed Curlew.

_Numenius Longirostris_, Wils.

The finest, largest, most graceful, and elegant of all the bay-birds is
the magnificent sickle-bill; associating in large flocks, and with a
spread of wings of little less than three feet, when it approaches the
stand, the sportsman’s heart palpitates with excitement, and the sky
seems to have lost its natural blue and become of a rich brown tint. As
these splendid birds, shrieking their hoarse call, set their wings for
the stool, and crossing one another in their flight, pause in doubt; or,
after alighting individually, rise again, and hesitate whether to remain
or continue their course–the sportsman, cowering in his lair, and
anxious to take advantage of this glorious opportunity, becomes wildly
eager with excitement; and if, after having by a judicious selection
brought several to the ground, he recalls the departing flock which
again presents itself to his aim, his rapture knows no bounds, and with
his reloaded breech-loader, he repeats, perhaps more than once, the
exhilarating performance.

This lordly bird, the largest of the bay-snipe, is often extremely
gentle, and may be lured by the imitation of its cry at an immense
distance, and brought back to the decoys several times, where one or
more of its companions may have fallen; but at other times it is wild
and shy. Individuals differ considerably in size, the largest I ever saw
having a bill eleven inches long, and some weighing nearly double as
much as others; but all are of a beautiful reddish-brown or burnt sienna
tint, with a yellowish shade on the abdomen. Their flight is steady, and
their flesh tough, dark, and oily. Their eye is extremely bright, and
their shape graceful.

“_Specific Character._–Bill towards the end decurved; upper part of the
throat, and a band from the bill to the eye, light buff; general
plumage, pale reddish-brown; head and neck streaked with dusky; upper
parts marked with blackish-brown; tail barred with the same; abdomen,
plain reddish-brown; feet, bluish. Length, twenty-six inches; wing,
eleven. The bill of the specimen from which this description is taken
measures eight inches. The bills of individuals of this species vary,
but the length is at all times sufficient to determine the


Doe-bird.–Esquimaux Curlew.

_Numenius Borealis_, Lath.

This is an upland bird, quite rare, but large, and rather delicate

“_Specific Character._–Bill, along the gap, about two inches and a
quarter; tarsi, one inch and five-eighths; upper parts, dusky brown,
with pale yellowish-white, marked all over with pale reddish-brown.
Adult with a line of white from the bill to the eye; eyelids, white;
upper part of the head dusky, spotted in front with greyish-white, a
medial band of the same color; throat, white; neck and breast
yellowish-grey, with longitudinal marks of dusky on the former, pointed
spots of the same color on the latter; abdomen, dull yellowish-white;
flanks, barred with brown; lower tail coverts the same as the abdomen;
tail and upper tail coverts barred with pale reddish-brown and dusky,
tipped with yellowish-white; upper parts brownish, the feathers tipped
with pale reddish-brown, the scapulars margined and tipped with lighter;
primaries, dark-brown, margined internally with lighter–the first shaft
white, with the tip dusky–the rest brown. Length, fourteen inches and a
half; wing, eight.”–_Giraud._