BIRDS OF NEW ENGLAND AND EASTERN NEW YORK - HOFFMANN

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GALLINACEOUS BIRDS: ORDER GALLINÆ

PHEASANTS: FAMILY PHASIANIDÆ

The Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus torquatus) and the English Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) have been introduced in various places in New York and New England, and have become well established here and there.

GROUSE, SPRUCE PARTRIDGES, ETC.: FAMILY TETRAONIDÆ

Though there are three species belonging to the Grouse family in New York and New England, two are so rare or local that few observers will meet them. The Ruffed Grouse or Partridge in one or the other of its two forms is everywhere distributed. The Spruce Partridge is a permanent, though rather rare or local, resident of extensive spruce forests in northern New York and New England. On Martha's Vineyard a very small colony of the Heath Hen are the last representatives on the Atlantic coast of the Prairie Hen so common in the West

HEATH HEN [GREATER PRAIRIE CHICKEN]. Tympanuchus cupido
18.00 in.

Ad. ♂.— Upper parts brownish, barred with black and buff; under parts white, barred with brown; sides of the neck with tufts of stiff, rather long black feathers. Tail grayish-brown, without bars or bands, except a whitish tip. Ad. ♀.— Similar, but neck-tufts much shorter. Tail barred with buff or light brown.

Nest, on ground. Eggs, creamy buff, with a slight greenish tinge.

The Heath Hen is the eastern representative of the Prairie Hen of the West, and though formerly found along the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts to Virginia, is now confined to the island of Martha's Vineyard, where it is a permanent resident. Only a small number of Heath Hens still survive, and the great plains of oak scrub in which they live are so extensive that it is only by chance that one meets them. A guide is necessary, and repeated visits must be made to insure even a chance of success. The male in spring inflates two yellow sacs on each side of the neck and utters a booming sound which can be heard over a mile away. The lack of a broad black band across the base of the tail should distinguish the Heath Hen from the Ruffed Grouse.

[The Greater Prairie Chicken's last historical record in New England or New York on eBird is on Martha's Vineyard in 1930.]

PARTRIDGE: RUFFED GROUSE. Bonasa umbellus
CANADIAN RUFFED GROUSE. Bonasa umbellus togata
17.00 in.

Ad. ♂.— Upper parts and wings reddish-brown or gray, streaked with black; large tufts of glossy black feathers on the sides of the neck; tail broad, reddish-brown or gray, crossed by a broad band of black near the tip; throat buffy; rest of under parts white, tinged with buffy, and barred, particularly on the sides, with blackish-brown. Ad. ♀.— Similar, but smaller; necktufts small or almost wanting.

Nest, on the ground in woods. Eggs, buffy, usually unmarked, sometimes slightly speckled with brown.

The Partridge, as it is usually called in the north, is a common permanent resident of New York and New England. It is exclusively a woodland bird, only appearing in open country when it has lost its way. It frequents all kinds of forest growth, and is equally at home in swamps and upland. As one walks through the undergrowth, a Partridge often starts off directly at one's feet, with a loud whirring of wings. In summer the female frequently tries to divert attention from her young by feigning a broken wing, sometimes circling within a few feet of an observer, whining piteously. When the woods are again quiet, she may be heard mewing and clucking to the young, who have been hiding in the dry leaves and now rejoin her.

From March to May the drumming of the male is a constant sound in swampy woods. It begins with hollow thumping sounds, separated by slight intervals; these soon run rapidly into one another, and the performance ends in a reverberating roll. The best explanation of the drumming of the Partridge is that of Mr. Brewster, who is convinced “that the bird's wings strike neither its body nor the log [on which it stands], but simply the air, and that the sound which they produce while the Partridge is drumming is essentially the same as that heard when it starts in flight” (Minot, p. 409, note). The drumming is rare in midsummer, but is not infrequently heard on warm days in the autumn. At night Partridges roost in trees, and where they are not shy they often fly to a tree when startled and watch the intruder from their perch. On winter afternoons they often burrow into the snow and spend the night in this shelter. Their tracks are frequent in the winter woods, for they walk rather than fly from place to place, making long lines in various directions. When they do fly, their outspread wings leave one or two impressions just beyond the end of their track. In summer they frequently dust themselves in the road, and, like many birds, seem little alarmed by the approach of a carriage.

The male may be told from the female by his larger size, longer tail, and more conspicuous ruff of black feathers, formed by prominent tufts at each side of the neck. The widespread tail varies in color from gray to reddish-brown. The Grouse found on the upland of western Massachusetts and in northern New York and New England has grayer upper parts, more distinct barring on the breast and belly, and generally a grayer tail; it is known as the Canadian Ruffed Grouse.

CANADIAN SPRUCE PARTRIDGE [SPRUCE GROUSE]. Canachites canadensis canace
15.00 in.

Ad. ♂.— Upper parts barred with black and gray; under parts black, many of the feathers bordered or tipped with white; tail black, tipped with reddish-brown; a line of bare skin above the eye bright red. Ad. ♀.— Upper parts barred with black, gray, and pale yellowish-brown; under parts whitish, barred with black.

Nest, on the ground. Eggs, buffy or pale brownish, spotted with brown.

The Spruce Partridge is a permanent resident of the coniferous forests of northern New England and New York. It is rarely seen south of the White Mountains, and is nowhere in New England at all common. It is found, as its name suggests, in dense swampy growths of spruce and fir. It is remarkably tame, allowing such a near approach that it should be impossible to confuse it with its relative, the Ruffed Grouse, which, except for its ruff, has hardly any of the black shade so characteristic of the Spruce Partridge.

[WILD TURKEY]. Meleagris Gallopavo
15.00 in.

Wild turkeys were close to extinction by the early 1900's when this book was written. Nowadays there is a very healthy population of turkeys in New York and New England.

BOB-WHITES, ETC.: FAMILY ODONTOPHORIDÆ

BOB-WHITE; QUAIL [NORTHERN BOBWHITE]. Colinus virginianus
10.00 in.

Ad. ♂.— Line over eye white, bordered above and below with black; top of head reddish-brown, mixed with black; back of neck reddish-brown, mixed with white; back and wings chiefly reddishbrown; tail gray; throat white; band across upper breast black; breast and belly white, barred with black; sides heavily washed with reddish-brown. Ad. ♀.— Similar, but throat and line over eye buff; little or no black on the breast.

Nest, on the ground, in meadows or grain-fields. Eggs, white usually more or less stained with light brown.

The Quail is a permanent resident of the Transition Zone, common in southern New England and the lower Hudson Valley, but rare or absent from the upland of western Massachusetts, and north of that State found only in the valleys where the winters are not severe. (See Map) It frequents scrubby growth, where bushes alternate with small trees, especially in the neighborhood of farming country. Here the male may be heard from May to August, whistling his vigorous Bob-White, or oh-Bob-White. When singing, the male is often perched on a fence, wall, or limb of a tree, and an answer may bring him flying angrily up. Later in the summer and all through the fall a covey of birds, if scattered, call to each other by a note like the syllable quoit, suggesting a note of the guinea hen.

Quail tracks may often be seen in the snow; they are smaller than those of the Grouse, or Partridge, occur in more open country, and are generally more numerous, the Grouse being in winter a more solitary bird. When the Quail is startled, it flies with great speed, and then scales with wings bent downward in a sharp curve. The small size should distinguish a Quail from a Grouse when flying; the latter, moreover, is not so richly colored, and has a much broader, fan-shaped tail, tipped with black.

[graphic]

Bob-white


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