BIRDS OF NEW ENGLAND AND EASTERN NEW YORK - HOFFMANN

Previous Page - Table of Contents - Next Page

JAEGERS : FAMILY STERCORARIIDÆ

JAEGER: Stercorarius longicaudus. 21.00 in. Stercorarius parasiticus. 17.00 in. Stercorarius pomarinus. 22.00 in.

Upper parts varying from blackish to brown; lower parts varying from dark brown to whitish; central pair of tail-feathers often longer than the others (over six inches longer than the others in the adult Long-tailed Jaeger); a conspicuous whitish band across the under sides of the wings near the tip.

The Jaeger, or Jiddy Hawk, as the fishermen call it, is a spring and autumn migrant off the coast of New York and New England, occurring most commonly in August, September, and October. It is noted for its habit of pursuing terns and the smaller gulls till they drop the food which they have obtained; the Jaeger then seizes and devours it. Mr. Job (“Among the Water-Fowl,” p. 117) says that the victim often disgorges half-digested food; I have seen only the freshly-caught fish dropped from the bill. To see Jaegers, one should watch the terns as they migrate along the coast in late summer; or, better still, sail with some fisherman to the fishing-ground off Chatham or Cape Sable. The chase is an interesting spectacle; the dark, hawk-like form of the Jaeger appears suddenly, and in an instant the two are off, twisting and turning, always close together; one can often see the Jaeger's claws struck forward.

Jaegers appear in almost every possible plumage, but will be at once recognized by their dark upper parts and hawk-like flight; they are always darker above than the bird that they pursue. The commonest species off our coast, the Pomarine, is also the largest; it is not very much smaller than a Herring Gull; the next commonest is the Parasitic Jaeger. The two species resemble each other so closely in their various plumages that it is almost impossible to distinguish them except by their size when they appear together. The Long-tailed Jaeger is rare; in adult plumage its long tail-feathers will distinguish it. The other species often have the central pair of tail-feathers considerably longer than the rest.


Previous Page - Table of Contents - Next Page