BIRDS OF NEW ENGLAND AND EASTERN NEW YORK - HOFFMANN

Previous Page - Table of Contents - Next Page

RED-BACKED SANDPIPER; DUNLIN. Pelidna alpina sakhalina
8.00 in. Bill 1.50 in.

Ad. in spring.— Back and wings tinged with considerable reddish-brown; head, neck, and breast light gray; belly black; bill slightly curved. Ad.— Upper parts ashy-gray; lower parts white; neck and upper breast tinged with gray; bill slightly curved. Im.— Back blackish, the feathers bordered with rusty; head and neck dull buff, streaked with dusky; breast buffy-white, streaked with black; belly white, spotted with black; bill as in ad.

The Dunlin is a rare spring and not uncommon autumn migrant along the coast, occurring in May, and from the middle of September to December. It feeds on the outer sand-beaches and mud-flats, either alone or in company with Sanderling and Plover. Its note may be written peurr.

Dunlin

Dunlin

Specimens showing the red backs and black belly are not often seen, but the fall birds may be distinguished by the plain ashy tone of the upper parts, and especially by the bill, which has a slight but distinct downward curve.

[Common on Long Island during Winter]


LEAST SANDPIPER. Actodromas minutilla
6.00 in. Bill .75 in.

Ad.— Feathers of the head and back black, edged with gray or chestnut; sides of head, neck, and breast streaked with brown; belly white; legs greenish-yellow. Im.— Upper parts much as in adult; breast dusky, very indistinctly streaked with darker; rest of under parts white.

The Least Sandpiper is a common migrant along the coast in May, and again in July, August, and early September. Like the other common sandpipers, it occasionally occurs on inland ponds and rivers, and it is tolerably common in the Hudson Valley in May. This species and the Semipalmated Sandpiper are the first to return from the north, reaching Massachusetts early in July. By the end of August it has nearly completed its migration, though the Semipalmated Sandpiper is found throughout September.


WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER. Actodromas [Calidris] fuscicollis
7.50 in.

Ad.— Upper parts brownish-gray, the feathers spotted with black in spring; base of tail pure white; under parts white; sides of head, neck, and breast streaked, especially in spring, with dusky. Im.— Similar, but feathers of back tipped with white, and edged with reddish-brown; breast grayish.

The White-rumped Sandpiper is a not uncommon migrant along the coast in May, and from the middle of July to the middle of October. It frequents the sandy beaches, marshy pools, and the mud-flats, consorting with the other “Peep,” from which its greater size and the pure white base of the tail readily distinguish it.



PECTORAL SANDPIPER; GRASS BIRD. Actodromas maculata
9.00 in. Bill 1.15 in.

Ad. in spring.— Upper parts gray tinged with rusty and speckled with brownish-black; rump and base of tail brownish-black, tipped with reddish-buff; central tail-feathers dark, outer ones lighter; sides of neck, and breast pale buff, streaked with dusky; rest of under parts white. Ad. in fall.— Similar, but the rusty tinge on the upper parts wanting. Im.— Feathers of upper back tipped with white; breast more buffy.

The Pectoral Sandpiper, the Grass Bird or Krieker of the sportsmen, is a migrant in spring and fall, generally not uncommon, and occasionally abundant. It passes north in April and May, and returns from the end of July to October. It is strictly a bird of the grassy marshes, rarely appearing on the mud-flats or sand-bars. After a flock lights, the birds generally scatter over the marsh, and when approached crouch on the ground like snipe, till one is almost on them. When they fly, they utter a sharp krickkrick. The male is considerably larger than the female; both look like a large edition of the Least Sandpiper.


PURPLE SANDPIPER. Arquatella maritima
9.00 in. Bill 1.40 in.

Ad. in winter.— Upper parts dark gray, with a bluish gloss in strong light; throat and breast dark gray; belly and under sides of the wings white; sides streaked with dark gray.

The Purple Sandpiper, or Winter Snipe of the gunners, occurs as a winter visitant to the rocky shores of New England and of Long Island, arriving in September and leaving in February or March. It finds its food on rocky ledges exposed by the falling tide, and occurs most frequently on small outlying rocky islets, such as Gull Rocks at Cohasset, Mass., and Cormorant Rock, south of Rhode Island. It is generally found in small flocks, which permit a very near approach. Its note is a whistling twitter. The fact that no other sandpiper occurs in such localities in winter makes it very easy to identify, even if its grayish color, short legs, and squat figure did not distinguish it.


KNOT. Tringa canutus
10.50 in. Bill 1.30 in.

Ad. in spring.— Upper parts gray, spotted with black and reddish-brown; rump and base of tail lighter; sides of head and under parts bay. Ad. in fall.— Upper parts bluish-gray; rump and base of tail white, barred with black; under parts bay, blotched with white. Im.— Upper parts as in fall adult; under parts white, without any bay; throat and breast streaked with dusky.

The Knot is a common migrant along the coast in May, and again in July, August, and September. It frequents mud-flats and sand-bars, but is also commonly found on the outer beaches. It is either stupid or else very unsuspicious, and allows a near approach. Old birds are easily recognized by their bay breasts; they may be readily distinguished from adult Dowitchers, which also have reddish-brown breasts, by the light color of their upper parts and by their much shorter bill. Young birds have light under parts, and must be recognized by the general light gray tone of the upper parts and the still whiter tail. Their note has been described as like the soft whit whit that one uses in whistling a dog back.


STILT SANDPIPER. Micropalama himantopus
8.25 in. Bill 1.55 in.

Ad. in fall and winter.— Upper parts brownish-gray; line over eye and under parts white; neck and breast streaked with gray; tail white; legs yellowish-green. Im.— Similar, but upper parts blackish, the feathers bordered with buff.

The Stilt Sandpiper is a migrant along the coast, very rare in New England in spring, and generally rare in the autumn, but commoner on Long Island. It generally occurs late in July, in August, or early in September. It frequents both beach and marsh. It is commonly associated with the Summer Yellow-legs, which it resembles in appearance and behavior; it may be distinguished by the greater contrast of its small size with its length of leg, and at close range by its yellowish-green legs.

[SHORT-BILLED] DOWITCHER. Macrorhamphus griseus
Limnodromus griseus
10.50 in. Bill 2.25 in.

Ad. in spring.— Upper parts mixed black and buffy; rump aud tail white, spotted with black; sides of head and under parts pinkish-brown, finely spotted with black. Ad. in fall.— Head and back pale slate-gray; wings dark gray, spotted with whitish; throat and breast brownish-gray; belly white; rump and tail white, barred with black. Im.— Upper parts black, mixed with reddishbrown; rump and tail as in adult; under parts washed with buff and indistinctly speckled with dusky.

The Dowitcher is a rather common migrant along the coast in May, and again in July, August, and early September. It frequents mud-flats and sand-bars, is very tame, and generally occurs in close flocks. It may be known by its long bill, dark back, and silvery gray lower back, rump, and tail. Old birds in May and July have pale reddish breasts, but the young birds in August and September have light under parts.

WILSON'S SNIPE. Gallinago delicata
11.25 in. Bill 2.50 in.

Ad.— Middle of crown black, divided by a buffy line, and separated by two narrow buffy stripes from two brown lines running from the bill to the eyes; back and wings a mixture of black, reddish-brown, and white; tail reddish-brown, barred with black; throat gray; breast brown, streaked with black; sides gray, barred with black; belly white.

The Snipe is a rather common migrant through New York and New England in late March, April, September, and October. It winters sparingly in springy places in southern New England and the lower Hudson Valley, and breeds in northeastern Maine. The Snipe is found in fresh water marshes and wet meadows; it lies concealed in the shelter of a tuft of grass, trusting to its coloration for protection, until one is almost upon it, when it rises with a harsh scaipe, and goes twisting off.

In the spring, and occasionally in the fall, the Snipe rises at dusk over the marshes and utters a muffled sound, which has been termed bleating, but has a distinct suggestion of air winnowed by feathers. The Snipe may occasionally be seen on cloudy afternoons in spring, flying back and forth, rising and falling in great curves, uttering this sound, which appears to come at the end of each descent. Its long bill and the black, white, and reddish-brown of its tail serve to distinguish it readily from any other bird of the open meadow.



WOODCOCK. Philohela minor
11.00 in. Bill 2.90 in.

Ad.— Back of head black, barred with rusty yellow; rest of upper parts grayish-brown, mixed with black; dark line from the eye to the bill; under parts buffy, tinged especially on the flanks with cinnamon; tail black, tipped with white; eye large.

Nest, on the ground. Eggs, buffy, spotted with reddish-brown and purplish-gray.

The Woodcock is a summer resident of New York and New England, formerly common, but now becoming rare. It arrives early in March, and stays till November. It feeds in low swampy woodland, where it bores for worms in the soft mud. In the fall it is often flushed from rather dry woodland. When it rises, it almost always makes a whistling sound, presumably with its wings.

In March and April the males execute their interesting flight-song. From the low ground near some rocky pasture, as dusk approaches, a harsh peent is heard, like a Nighthawk's cry. This is repeated a number of times, and then from the sky overhead there issues a series of whistling sounds, interspersed with liquid notes like the syllables whit, whit, whit. Then the peents begin again from the ground. If an observer conceals himself near the open space where the harsh peent is now heard, he will see the bird come shooting down at the end of the flight and will see it on the ground, facing now in one direction, and now in another, as it utters the peents. If near enough, he will also hear a curious p'tul, sometimes repeated several times in the intervals between the harsh cries. The bird rises a number of times, repeating the performance till it grows quite dark; then all is silent. If the same spot is visited before dawn, the performance may be witnessed to still greater advantage, as it will grow steadily lighter instead of darker.

When a woodcock is flushed in the daytime, the long bill and the short black tail are excellent field-marks. The snipe is the only bird likely to be mistaken for it, but the woodcock is nearly always found in the cover of tree or bushes, while the snipe lies in open marshy ground or meadows.


Previous Page - Table of Contents - Next Page