BIRDS OF NEW ENGLAND AND EASTERN NEW YORK - HOFFMANN

Previous Page - Table of Contents - Next Page

DIVING BIRDS: ORDER PYGOPODES

AUKS, MURRES, AND PUFFINS: FAMILY ALCIDÆ

Four or five members of the family which includes the Auks, Murres, and Puffins, may be seen chiefly in winter off the coast of New England, and rarely off Long Island. Most of the Auks, Murres, and Puffins breed to the northward even of the Maine coast. A few Black Guillemots or Sea Pigeons breed along the northern coast of Maine, and are, therefore, regularly met with even in summer along that shore. A considerable colony of Puffins breed at the Machias Seal Island and a few pair on Matinicus Rock, but Brünnich's Murre and the Razor-billed Auk are found off the New England coast only in winter; and though a number of them migrate southward at that season to Massachusetts or Long Island, they frequent even then the rocky outer shores and are not often seen from the land. They all spend their time in the water, obtaining their food by diving. The Dovekie is an irregular winter visitant as far south as the New Jersey coast.

DOVEKIE. Alle alle
8.00 in.

Ad. in winter and Im.— Upper parts black; under parts white; back here and there marked with white; bill short, black.

The Dovekie, or Knotty of the fisherman, is a rather irregular winter visitant off the coast, generally keeping well out at sea, but at rare intervals blown inland by severe storms. It should be recognized at once by its small size. Small flocks may be seen flying with rapid wing-strokes, close over the water, or floating on the waves. The birds seem tame, and at the approach of a boat they often dive instead of flying.


RAZOR-BILLED AUK. Alca torda
16.50 in.

Ad. in summer.— Head, throat, and upper parts sooty-black; line from bill to eye, narrow line across wing, and under parts white; bill short and deep. Ad. in winter.— Similar, but throat, fore neck, and cheeks white; no white line from bill to eye. Im.– Similar to winter adult, but bill smaller.

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

The Razor-bill is an irregular winter visitant to the coast of New England and Long Island, occurring off rocky shores. It gets its food by diving, and uses its wings under water to propel itself. Its pattern of black and white resembles very closely that of the Murre, but it may be distinguished by its deeper bill, and, when sitting on the water, by its upturned tail.


BRÜNNICH'S MURRE. Uria lomvia
[THICK-BILLED MURRE]
16.50 in.

Ad. in summer.— Head, throat, and upper parts black; under parts and narrow line across wing white; bill long and stout, but not deep, as in the preceding species. Ad. in winter.— Similar, but fore neck, sides of head, and neck white. Im.— Similar to winter adult, but no white on sides of head, and fore neck tinged with dusky.

[graphic][merged small]

Brünnich's Murre is an irregular winter visitant to the coast of New England and Long Island Sound, generally rare, but at times occurring in considerable numbers. It occasionally appears on inland waters, apparently blown in by storms. It is then very tame, and permits a close approach. It dives for its food, and uses its wings to propel itself. Its coloration, black above and white below, will distinguish it from the other birds of its kind, except the Razor-bill. (See preceding species.)


BLACK GUILLEMOT; SEA PIGEON. Cepphus grylle
13.00 in.

Ad. in summer.— Entire plumage black, except a broad white patch on the wing; bill black; legs bright red. Ad. in winter.— General effect when in the water white; upper parts varied with black; wing black, with white patch. Im.— Similar to winter ad., but wing-patch barred with black; lower parts washed with dusky.

Nest, in crevices in rocks. Eggs, green, greenish-white, or white.

The Sea Pigeon breeds on rocky islands along the coast of Maine, from Knox County eastward; there is a considerable colony on Little Duck Island, off Mt. Desert. In fall and winter it is met with along the whole of the Maine coast, and less commonly as far south as Wood's Hole, Mass. It feeds in the broad sheltered bays formed by the numerous islands along the Maine coast, riding easily on the water, and either diving when alarmed, or rising and flapping off with a peculiar paddling effect of the wings.

It may be recognized in summer by its general black color, and by the broad patch of white in the black wing. In winter the general effect of the bird is white, the black bill showing clearly against the white head. Its wing, however, is still black with a patch of white. The Horned Grebe also has a white patch in the wing, but it does not show till the bird flies, whereas in the Sea Pigeon it is conspicuous as the bird sits in the water. The White-winged Coot [Scoter] and the Merganser, which also show white in the wing, are both much larger birds.

[graphic]

Black Guillemot


PUFFIN; SEA PARROT. Fratercula arctica
13.00 in.

Ad. in summer.— Upper parts, together with a band across the fore neck, blackish; sides of head ashy-white; breast and belly white; bill very deep, red; feet red. Ad. in winter and Im.— Sides of head obscured with dusky; bill much smaller, parts having been shed.

Nest, either in a fissure of a cliff or in a short burrow. Eggs, dull white, speckled with pale brown, soon becoming stained.

The Puffin breeds from Matinicus Rock and Machias Seal Island, on the coast of Maine, northward, and in winter occurs as a rare visitant off rocky shores as far south as Cape Ann and Cohasset. It rides the water lightly, dives easily, and uses its wings to propel itself under water. In summer it may readily be identified by its triangular-shaped bill, and by the large whitish patches on the sides of the head.


Previous Page - Table of Contents - Next Page