Birds Vol 2 #1 – Old Abe

Old Abe ©WikiC

Old Abe ©WikiC


“I’d rather capture Old Abe,” said Gen. Sterling Price, of the Confederate Army, “than a whole brigade.”


LD ABE” was the live war Eagle which accompanied the Eighth Wisconsin regiment during the War of the Rebellion. Much of a more or less problematical character has been written about him, but what we regard as authentic we shall present in this article. Old Abe was a fine specimen of the Bald Eagle, very like the one figured in this number of Birds. Various stories are told of his capture, but the most trustworthy account is that Chief Sky, a Chippewa Indian, took him from the nest while an Eaglet. The nest was found on a pine tree in the Chippewa country, about three miles from the mouth of the Flambeau, near some rapids in the river. He and another Indian cut the tree down, and, amid the menaces of the parent birds, secured two young Eagles about the size of Prairie Hens. One of them died. The other, which lived to become historical, was sold to Daniel McCann for a bushel of corn. McCann carried it to Eau Claire, and presented it to a company then being organized as a part of the Eighth Wisconsin Infantry.

What more appropriate emblem than the American Bald-headed Bird could have been thus selected by the patriots who composed this regiment of freemen! The Golden Eagle (of which we shall hereafter present a splendid specimen,) with extended wings, was the ensign of the Persian monarchs, long before it was adopted by the Romans. And the Persians borrowed the symbol from the Assyrians. In fact, the symbolical use of the Eagle is of very remote antiquity. It was the insignia of Egypt, of the Etruscans, was the sacred bird of the Hindoos, and of the Greeks, who connected him with Zeus, their supreme deity. With the Scandinavians the Eagle is the bird of wisdom. The double-headed Eagle was in use among the Byzantine emperors, “to indicate their claims to the empire of both the east and the west.” It was adopted in the 14th century by the German emperors. The arms of Prussia were distinguished by the Black Eagle, and those of Poland by the White. The great Napoleon adopted it as the emblem of Imperial France.

Old Abe was called by the soldiers the “new recruit from Chippewa,” and sworn into the service of the United States by encircling his neck with red, white, and blue ribbons, and by placing on his breast a rosette of colors, after which he was carried by the regiment into every engagement in which it participated, perched upon a shield in the shape of a heart. A few inches above the shield was a grooved crosspiece for the Eagle to rest upon, on either end of which were three arrows. When in line Old Abe was always carried on the left of the color bearer, in the van of the regiment. The color bearer wore a belt to which was attached a socket for the end of the staff, which was about five feet in length. Thus the Eagle was high above the bearer’s head, in plain sight of the column. A ring of leather was fastened to one of the Eagle’s legs to which was connected a strong hemp cord about twenty feet long.

Old Abe was the hero of about twenty-five battles, and as many skirmishes. Remarkable as it may appear, not one bearer of the flag, or of the Eagle, always shining marks for the enemy’s rifles, was ever shot down. Once or twice Old Abe suffered the loss of a few feathers, but he was never wounded.

The great bird enjoyed the excitement of carnage. In battle he flapped his wings, his eyes blazed, and with piercing screams, which arose above the noise of the conflict, seemed to urge the company on to deeds of valor.

David McLane, who was the first color bearer to carry him into battle, said:

“Old Abe, like all old soldiers, seemed to dread the sound of musketry but with the roll of artillery he appeared to be in his glory. Then he screamed, spread his wings at every discharge, and reveled in the roar and smoke of the big guns.” A correspondent who watched him closely said that when a battle had fairly begun Old Abe jumped up and down on his perch with such wild and fearful screams as an eagle alone can utter. The louder the battle, the fiercer and wilder were his screams.

Old Abe varied his voice in accord with his emotions. When surprised he whistled a wild melody of a melancholy softness; when hovering over his food he gave a spiteful chuckle; when pleased to see an old friend he seemed to say: “How do you do?” with a plaintive cooing. In battle his scream was wild and commanding, a succession of five or six notes with a startling trill that was inspiring to the soldiers. Strangers could not approach or touch him with safety, though members of the regiment who treated him with kindness were cordially recognized by him. Old Abe had his particular friends, as well as some whom he regarded as his enemies. There were men in the company whom he would not permit to approach him. He would fly at and tear them with his beak and talons. But he would never fight his bearer. He knew his own regiment from every other, would always accompany its cheer, and never that of any other regiment.

Old Abe more than once escaped, but was always lured by food to return. He never seemed disposed to depart to the blue empyrean, his ancestral home.

Having served three years, a portion of the members of Company C were mustered out, and Old Abe was presented to the state of Wisconsin. For many years, on occasions of public exercise or review, like other illustrious veterans, he excited in parade universal and enthusiastic attention.

He occupied pleasant quarters in the State Capitol at Madison, Wisconsin, until his death at an advanced age.

Ahgamahwegezhig (Chief Sky)

Ahgamahwegezhig (Chief Sky)

Lee’s Addition:

Here’s some information from Wikipedia about Old Abe:

Old Abe (1861? – March 28, 1881), a bald eagle, was the mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the American Civil War. Later, her image was adopted as the eagle appearing on a globe in Case Corporation’s logo and as the screaming eagle on the insignia of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division.

The 101st Airborne Division patch

The 101st Airborne Division patch

To capture the eagle, Chief Sky cut down a tree in which two fledgling eagles were nesting. One eaglet died from the fall, but the other became the young indian’s pet. After a few weeks, Chief Sky went on an expedition with his father, during which the eagle was traded for a bushel of corn to Daniel McCann, who lived in Eagle Point.

In August 1861, John E. Perkins, assisted by Seth Pierce, Frank McGuire, Thomas G. Butler and Victor Wolf, recruited a company of volunteers from Eau Claire and Chippewa Counties. This company was called the “Eau Claire Badgers”.

Soon after its formation, McCann offered to sell the eagle to the Badgers, for $2.50. In his “History of Old Abe”, published in 1865, Joseph 0. Barrett, who helped McCann to bring the eagle to Eau Claire, gave a description of the transaction, which can be paraphrased as:

“Will you buy my Eagle,” said McCann, “only two dollars and a half?”

“Here, boys, let’s put in twenty five cents apiece,” answered Frank McGuire, who began to collect quarters.

He also solicited a contribution from a civilian, S. M. Jeffers, but was rebuffed. When the soldiers heard of this, they accosted Jeffers, and gave him three lusty groans. When he understood that they were protesting against his reluctance to help buy the eagle, Jeffers laughed, paid for the bird with a Quarter Eagle and presented her to the Company. After that, he had cheers instead of groans. The quarters were returned to the donors.

From left to right: Ed Homaston, Christopher Darius Gorman, Sgt Ambrose Armitage, (unknown), Myron Riggs and three more unknowns.

In September 1861, the Badgers went to Madison, where they joined the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment as Company C. They became the the regimental color company and were given the name “Eagle Company”. The regiment also became the “Eagle Regiment”. After Captain Perkins named the eagle after President Abraham Lincoln, soldiers of Company C designed a special perch on which they carried the bird into battle.

Old Abe participated in the Second Battle of Corinth (in which the 8th Wisconsin lost half of its men) and the Siege of Vicksburg, among other battles. In battle, Old Abe quickly became legendary, screaming and spreading her wings at the enemy. Confederate troops called her the “Yankee Buzzard” and made several attempts to capture her but never succeeded. Several times she lost feathers to bullets and saw her handlers get shot out from under her. When passing by, Generals Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, and William Rosecrans were known to doff their hats to the eagle.

A replica of Old Abe presides over the Wisconsin State Assembly Chamber

A replica of Old Abe presides over the Wisconsin State Assembly Chamber

Old Abe was present at numerous battles and lesser engagements during the war:

  • Fredericktown, Missouri – 21 October 1861
  • New Madrid and *Island #10 – March & April 1862 Union General John Pope captured Point Pleasant, Missouri, provoking Confederates to evacuate New Madrid; they abandoned arms and provisions valued at one million dollars during their escape across the Mississippi River to the eastern bank and to Island No. 10
  • Point Pleasant, Missouri – March 20, 1862
  • Farmington, Mississippi. – May 9, 1862
  • Corinth, Mississippi. – May 28, 1862
  • Iuka, Mississippi. – September 12, 1862
  • Burnsville, Mississippi. – September 13, 1862
  • Iuka, Mississippi. – September 16-18, 1862
  • Corinth, Mississippi. – October 3-4, 1862
  • Tallahatchie, Mississippi. – December 2, 1862
  • Mississippi Springs, Mississippi. – May 13, 1863
  • Jackson, Mississippi. – May 14, 1863
  • Assault on Vicksburg, Mississippi. – May 22, 1863
  • Mechanicsburg, Mississippi. – June 4, 1863
  • Richmond, Louisiana. – June 15, 1863
  • Vicksburg, Mississippi. – June 24, 1863
  • Surrender of Vicksburg- July 4, 1863
  • Brownsville, Mississippi. – October 16, 1863
  • Fort Scurry, Louisiana. – March 13, 1864
  • Fort De Russey, Louisiana. – March 15, 1864
  • Henderson’s Hill, Louisiana. – March 21, 1864
  • Grand Ecore, Louisiana. – April 2, 1864
  • Pleasant Hill, Louisiana. – April 8-9, 1864
  • Natchitoches, Louisiana. – April 20, 1864
  • Kane River, Louisiana. – April 22, 1864
  • Clouterville and Crane Hill, Louisiana. – April 23, 1864
  • Bayou Rapids, Louisiana. – May 2, 1864
  • Bayou La Monre, Louisiana. – May 3, 1864
  • Bayou Roberts, Louisiana. – May 4-6, 1864
  • Moore’s Plantation, Louisiana. – May 8-12, 1864
  • Mansura, Louisiana. – May 16, 1864
  • Battle of Maysville, Louisiana. – May 17, 1864
  • Calhoun’s Plantation, Louisiana. – May 18, 1864
  • Bayou De Glaise, Louisiana. – May 18, 1864
  • Ditch Bayou at Lake Chicot or River Lake, Arkansas. – June 6, 1864
  • Hurricane Creek, Mississippi. – August 13, 1864


Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for May 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The American Osprey

The Previous Article – The Snowy Heron

Wordless Birds


Old Abe – Wikipedia


Birds Vol 2 #1 – The Snowy Heron

snowy heron or little egret


“What does it cost this garniture of death?
It costs the life which God alone can give;
It costs dull silence where was music’s breath,
It costs dead joy, that foolish pride may live.
Ah, life, and joy, and song, depend upon it,
Are costly trimmings for a woman’s bonnet!”
—May Riley Smith.

EMPERATE and tropical America, from Long Island to Oregon, south to Buenos Ayres, may be considered the home of the Snowy Heron, though it is sometimes seen on the Atlantic coast as far as Nova Scotia. It is supposed to be an occasional summer resident as far north as Long Island, and it is found along the entire gulf coast and the shores of both oceans. It is called the Little White Egret, and is no doubt the handsomest bird of the tribe. It is pure white, with a crest composed of many long hair-like feathers, a like plume on the lower neck, and the same on the back, which are recurved when perfect.

Snowy Herons nest in colonies, preferring willow bushes in the marshes for this purpose. The nest is made in the latter part of April or early June. Along the gulf coast of Florida, they nest on the Mangrove Islands, and in the interior in the willow ponds and swamps, in company with the Louisiana and Little Blue Herons. The nest is simply a platform of sticks, and from two to five eggs are laid.

Alas, plume hunters have wrought such destruction to these lovely birds that very few are now found in the old nesting places. About 1889, according to Mr. F. M. Woodruff, this bird was almost completely exterminated in Florida, the plume hunters transferring their base of operation to the Texas coast of the Gulf, and the bird is now in a fair way to be utterly destroyed there also. He found them very rare in 1891 at Matagorda Bay, Texas. This particular specimen is a remarkably fine one, from the fact that it has fifty-two plumes, the ordinary number being from thirty to forty.

Nothing for some time has been more commonly seen than the delicate airy plumes which stand upright in ladies’ bonnets. These little feathers, says a recent writer, were provided by nature as the nuptial adornment of the White Heron. Many kind-hearted women who would not on any account do a cruel act, are, by following this fashion, causing the continuance of a great cruelty. If ladies who are seemingly so indifferent to the inhumanity practiced by those who provide them with this means of adornment would apply to the Humane Education Committee, Providence, R. I., for information on the subject, they would themselves be aroused to the necessity of doing something towards the protection of our birds. Much is, however, being done by good men and women to this end.

The Little Egret moves through the air with a noble and rapid flight. It is curious to see it pass directly overhead. The head, body and legs are held in line, stiff and immovable, and the gently waving wings carry the bird along with a rapidity that seems the effect of magic.

An old name of this bird was Hern, or Hernshaw, from which was derived the saying, “He does not know a Hawk from a Hernshaw.” The last word has been corrupted into “handsaw,” rendering the proverb meaningless.

Summary SNOWY HERON.Ardea candidissima. Other names: “Little Egret,” “White-crested Egret,” “White Poke.”

Range—Tropical and temperate America.

Nest—A platform of sticks, in bushes, over water.

Eggs—Three to five; pale, dull blue.

Snowy Egret Circle B by Lee

Snowy Egret Circle B by Lee

Lee’s Addition:

And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. (Leviticus 11:19 KJV)

American Ornithologists’ Union 1st edition (1886):
Snowy Heron ( Ardea candidissima)

was later changed to  

American Ornithologists’ Union 2nd edition (incl. 15th suppl.): 1895
Snowy Egret ( Egretta candidissima)

then finally changed to the current with the

American Ornithologists’ Union 4th edition (1931):
Snowy Egret ( Egretta thula)

We have another case where the name and the scientific name has changed over time. The above give how the American Ornithologists’ Union progressed in the re-naming. I thoroughly enjoy watching the Snowys here. I think it is their yellow feet that amuses me so much. I am always trying to get a photo of the feet.

They are smaller than our Great Egret and I have been able to distinguish them from the Great and the Cattle Egrets finally. Once that yellow foot comes in sight, it’s a “no-brainer.”

Snowy Egret Circle B 8-3-12 by Lee

Snowy Egret Circle B 8-3-12 by Lee

They are a medium-sized Heron that is all white. It has the yellow feet attached to its black legs. Their bill is dark and it pointed like most in the Heron families. That Family is the Ardeidae – Herons, Bitterns and also a Bible Bird. They and their kind are listed in the “do not eat” section for the Israelites. Even today, they are too much fun to watch than to eat.

As stated above, their plumage was used a lot before that practice was stopped. Here is a photo from Wikipedia of the feathers displayed.

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) Plumage ©WikiC

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) Plumage ©WikiC

Their breeding habitat is large inland and coastal wetlands from the lower Great Lakes and southwestern United States to South America. The breeding range in eastern North America extends along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts from Maine to Texas, and inland along major rivers and lakes. They nest in colonies, often with other waders, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. Their flat, shallow nests are made of sticks and lined with fine twigs and rushes. Three to four greenish-blue, oval eggs are incubated by both adults. The young leave the nest in 20 to 25 days and hop about on branches near the nest before finally departing.

In warmer locations, some Snowy Egret are permanent residents; northern populations migrate to Central America and the West Indies. They may wander north after the breeding season, very rarely venturing to western Europe—the first bird sighted in Britain wintered in Scotland from 2001–2002.

The birds eat fish, crustaceans, insects and small reptiles. They stalk prey in shallow water, often running or shuffling their feet, flushing prey into view, as well “dip-fishing” by flying with their feet just over the water. Snowy Egrets may also stand still and wait to ambush prey, or hunt for insects stirred up by domestic animals in open fields.

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for May 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – Old Abe

The Previous Article – The American Scoter

ABC’s of the Gospel


Bible Birds – Herons

Snowy Heron – Audubon

Snowy Egret – Wikipedia

Snowy Egret – All About Birds

Birds of the Bible – Herons


Birds Vol 2 #1 – The American Scoter

Black or American Scoter (Melanitta americana), From Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

White-winged Scoter, From Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897



HE specimen we give of the American Scoter is one of unusual rarity and beauty of plumage. It was seen off the government pier, in Chicago, in November, 1895, and has been much admired.

The Scoter has as many names as characteristics, being called the Sea Coot, the Butter-billed, and the Hollow-billed Coot. The plumage of the full grown male is entirely black, while the female is a sooty brown, becoming paler below. She is also somewhat smaller.

This Duck is sometimes found in great numbers along the entire Atlantic coast where it feeds on small shell fish which it secures by diving. A few nest in Labrador, and in winter it is found in New Jersey, on the Great Lakes, and in California. The neighborhoods of marshes and ponds are its haunts, and in the Hudson Bay region the Scoter nests in June and July.

The nest is built on the ground near water. Coarse grass, feathers, and down are commonly used to make it comfortable, while it is well secreted in hollows in steep banks and cliffs. The eggs are from six to ten, of a dull buff color.

Prof. Cooke states that on May 2, 1883, fifty of these ducks were seen at Anna, Union county, Illinois, all busily engaged in picking up millet seed that had just been sown. If no mistake of identification was made in this case, the observation apparently reveals a new fact in the habits of the species, which has been supposed to feed exclusively in the water, and to subsist generally on fishes and other aquatic animal food.

From col. F. M. Woodruff.

WHITE-WINGED SCOTER.Oidemia deglandi. Other names: “American Velvet Scoter,” “White-winged Coot,” “Uncle Sam Coot.”

Range—Northern North America; breeding in Labrador and the fur countries; south in winter.

Nest—On the ground, beneath bushes.

Eggs—Six to ten; pale, dull buff.

White-winged Scoter (Melanitta deglandi) by Ray

White-winged Scoter (Melanitta deglandi) by Ray

Lee’s Addition:

I have been hunted like a bird by those who were my enemies without cause; (Lamentations 3:52 ESV)

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26 ESV)

The article is titled “American Scoter” but the photos and information is mostly about the “White-winged Scoter”. I have provided information on both of those Scoters. I have never seen any of the Scoters that I remember. They are in the Anatidae – Ducks, Geese & Swans family. I love those eyes of the White-winged Scoter.

The scoters are stocky seaducks in the genus Melanitta. The drakes are mostly black and have swollen bills. Females are brown.

They breed in the far north of Europe, Asia and North America, and winter further south in temperate zones of those continents. They form large flocks on suitable coastal waters. These are tightly packed, and the birds tend to take off together.

Their lined nests are built on the ground close to the sea, lakes or rivers, in woodland or tundra. These species dive for crustaceans and molluscs.

There are five species, grouped into two subgenera:

  • subgenus Oidemia (Black and Common Scoters)
  • subgenus Melanitta (Surf, Velvet and White-winged Scoters)

The presumed fossil “scoter” Melanitta ceruttii which lived in California is now placed in the genus Histrionicus.

The adult female Black or American Scoter averages about 2.1 lbs.(980 grams ) and 18 inches (45 cm) in length, while the adult male is on average 2.4 lbs. (1100 grams) and 19 inches (49 cm) in length. It is characterized by its bulky shape and large bill. The male is all black with a very bulbous bill which is mostly yellow,a good relation with the common scoter. The female is a brown bird with pale cheeks, very similar to female Common Scoter. This is America’s only black duck, although the female may have some yellow around the nostrils.

This species can be distinguished from other scoters, apart from Common, by the lack of white anywhere on the drake, and the more extensive pale areas on the female.

Black Scoter and Common Scoter have diagnostically distinct vocalisations

The lined nest is built on the ground close to the sea, lakes or rivers, in woodland or tundra. 5-7 eggs are laid. Each eggs weighs from 2-2.6 oz (60-74 grams), or 8% of the females body weight. The incubation period may range from 27 to 31 days. Females brood their young extensively for about 3 weeks, after which the still flightless young must fend for themselves.

The White-winged Scoter (Melanitta deglandi) or (Melanitta fusca deglandi) is a large sea duck.It is characterised by its bulky shape and large bill. This is the largest species of scoter. Females range from 2.1-4.2 lb (950-1950 grams) and 19-22 inches (48–56 cm), averaging 2.6 lb (1180 grams) and 21 inches (52.3 cm). She is brown with pale head patches. The male ranges from 3-4.7 lb (1360-2128 grams) and from 21-24 inches (53–60 cm), averaging 3.6 lb (1380 grams) and 22 inches (55 cm). He is all black, except for white around the eye and a white speculum. This scoter’s bill has a black base and a large knob.

The white patches are visible but not conspicuous when the wings are folded.

There are a number of differing characteristic of the Eastern Siberian race and the American race from Alaska and Canada to west of the Hudson Bay. Males of the American subspecies have browner flanks, dark yellow coloration of most of the bill and a less tall bill knob, approaching the Velvet Scoter. The Asian form has a very tall knob at the base of its mostly orange-yellow bill. Females are identical in the field.

The White-winged Scoter was named for French zoologist Dr. Côme-Damien Degland (1787–1856).

It was formerly considered to be conspecific with the Velvet Scoter, and some taxonomists still regard it as so. These two species, and the Surf Scoter, are placed in the subgenus Melanitta, distinct from the subgenus Oidemia, Black and Common Scoters.

The White-winged Scoter breeds over the far north of Asia east of the Yenisey Basin, and North America. It winters further south in temperate zones, on the Great Lakes, the coasts of the northern USA and the southern coasts of Canada, and Asia as far south as China. It forms large flocks on suitable coastal waters. These are tightly packed, and the birds tend to take off together.

White-winged Scoter (Melanitta deglandi) ©BirdPhotos

White-winged Scoter (Melanitta deglandi) ©BirdPhotos

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for May 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Snowy Heron

Previous Article – The American Woodcock

Gospel Presentation


Anatidae – Ducks, Geese & Swans

Scoters – Wikipedia

Black or American Scoter – Wikipedia

White-winged Scoter – Wikipedia


Birds Vol 2 #1 – American Woodcock

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)

American Woodcock from Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897 From col. Chi. Acad. Sciences.


SN’T this American Woodcock, or indeed any member of the family, a comical bird? His head is almost square, and what a remarkable eye he has! It is a seeing eye, too, for he does not require light to enable him to detect the food he seeks in the bogs. He has many names to characterize him, such as Bog-sucker, Mud Snipe, Blind Snipe. His greatest enemies are the pot hunters, who nevertheless have nothing but praise to bestow upon him, his flesh is so exquisitely palatable. Even those who deplore and deprecate the destruction of birds are not unappreciative of his good qualities in this respect.

The Woodcock inhabits eastern North America, the north British provinces, the Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas, and breeds throughout the range.

Night is the time when the Woodcock enjoys life. He never flies voluntarily by day, but remains secluded in close and sheltered thickets till twilight, when he seeks his favorite feeding places. His sight is imperfect by day, but at night he readily secures his food, assisted doubtless by an extraordinary sense of smell. His remarkably large and handsome eye is too sensitive for the glare of the sun, and during the greater part of the day he remains closely concealed in marshy thickets or in rank grass. In the morning and evening twilight and on moonlight nights, he seeks his food in open places. The early riser may find him with ease, but the first glow from the rays of the morning sun will cause his disappearance from the landscape.

He must be looked for in swamps, and in meadows with soft bottoms. During very wet seasons he seeks higher land—usually cornfields—and searches for food in the mellow plowed ground, where his presence is indicated by holes made by his bill. In seasons of excessive drought the Woodcock resorts in large numbers to tide water creeks and the banks of fresh water rivers. So averse is he to an excess of water, that after continued or very heavy rains he has been known suddenly to disappear from widely extended tracts of country.

A curious habit of the Woodcock, and one that is comparatively little known, is that of carrying its young in order to remove them from danger. So many trustworthy naturalists maintain this to be true that it must be accepted as characteristic of this interesting bird. She takes her young from place to place in her toe grasps as scarcity of food or safety may require.

As in the case of many birds whose colors adapt them to certain localities or conditions of existence, the patterns of the beautiful chestnut parts of the Woodcock mimic well the dead leaves and serve to protect the female and her young. The whistle made by their wings when flying is a manifestation of one of the intelligences of nature.

The male Woodcock, it is believed, when he gets his “intended” off entirely to himself, exhibits in peculiar dances and jigs that he is hers and hers only, or rises high on the wing cutting the most peculiar capers and gyrations in the air, protesting to her in the grass beneath the most earnest devotion, or advertising to her his whereabouts.

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) on nest © USFWS

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) on nest © USFWS


Here is a bird that is not often seen in the daytime. During the day he stays in the deep woods or among the tall marsh grasses.

It is at twilight that you may see him. He then comes out in search of food.

Isn’t he an odd-looking bird? His bill is made long so that he can bore into the soft ground for earthworms.

You notice his color is much like the Ruffed Grouse in June “BIRDS.” This seems to be the color of a great many birds whose home is among the grasses and dried leaves. Maybe you can see a reason for this.

Those who have watched the Woodcock carefully, say that he can move the tip end of the upper part of his bill. This acts like a finger in helping him to draw his food from the ground.

What a sight it must be to see a number of these weird-looking birds at work getting their food. If they happen to be in a swampy place, they often find earthworms by simply turning over the dead leaves.

If there should be, near by, a field that has been newly plowed, they will gather in numbers, at twilight, and search for worms.

The Woodcock has short wings for his size. He seems to be able to fly very fast. You can imagine how he looks while flying—his long bill out in front and his legs hanging down.

AMERICAN WOODCOCK.Philohela minor. Other names: “Bog-sucker,” “Mud Snipe,” “Blind Snipe.”

Range—Eastern North America, breeding throughout its range.

Nest—Of dried leaves, on the ground.

Eggs—Four; buffy, spotted with shades of rufous.

Lee’s Addition:

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13 ESV)

For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:14 ESV)

That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: (Acts 17:27 KJV)

Thinking about how the Woodcock is protected by the way the Lord created it to blend in to the leaves and bark reminded me of trying to find something. The above verses came to mind. I trust we are all seeking the Lord, His Salvation and His Blessings.

The American Woodcock (Scolopax minor), sometimes colloquially referred to as the Timberdoodle, is a small chunky shorebird species found primarily in the eastern half of North America. Woodcock spend most of their time on the ground in brushy, young-forest habitats, where the birds’ brown, black, and gray plumage provides excellent camouflage.

Because of the male Woodcock’s unique, beautiful courtship flights, the bird is welcomed as a harbinger of spring in northern areas. It is also a popular game bird, with about 540,000 killed annually by some 133,000 hunters in the U.S.

The American Woodcock is the only species of Woodcock inhabiting North America. Although classified with the sandpipers and shorebirds in Family Scolopacidae, the American Woodcock lives mainly in upland settings. Its many folk names include timberdoodle, bogsucker, night partridge, brush snipe, hokumpoke, and becasse.

The American Woodcock has a plump body, short legs, a large, rounded head, and a long, straight bill. Adults are 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm) long and weigh 5 to 8 ounces (140 to 230 g). Females are considerably larger than males. The bill is 2.5 to 2.75 inches (6.3 to 7.0 cm) long.

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) 1891 ©WikiC

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) 1891 ©WikiC

“Woodcock, with attenuate primaries, nat. size.” 1891.

The plumage is a cryptic mix of different shades of browns, grays, and black. The chest and sides vary from yellowish white to rich tans. The nape of the head is black, with three or four crossbars of deep buff or rufous. The feet and toes, which are small and weak, are brownish gray to reddish brown.

Woodcock have large eyes located high in the head, and their visual field is probably the largest of any bird, 360° in the horizontal plane and 180° in the vertical plane.

The Woodcock uses its long bill to probe in the soil for food, mainly invertebrates and especially earthworms. A unique bone-and-muscle arrangement lets the bird open and close the tip of its upper bill, or mandible, while it is sunk in the ground. Both the underside of the upper mandible and the long tongue are rough-surfaced for grasping slippery prey.

Color Key – Many of the members of the family Scolopacidæ are probing Snipe. The Woodcock, Wilson Snipe, and Dowitcher are good examples. Their bill is long and sensitive and they can curve or move its tip without opening it at the base. When the bill is thrust into the mud the tip may therefore grasp a worm and it thus becomes a finger as well as a probe.

Besides the American Woodcock, there are these: (Photos from IBC)

Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola)
Amami Woodcock (Scolopax mira)
Javan Woodcock (Scolopax saturata) or Dusky
New Guinea Woodcock (Scolopax rosenbergii)
Bukidnon Woodcock (Scolopax bukidnonensis)
Sulawesi Woodcock (Scolopax celebensis)
Moluccan Woodcock (Scolopax rochussenii)
American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for May 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The American Scoter

The Previous Article –  The Snake Bird

Sharing The Gospel


Scolopacidae – Sandpipers, Snipes

American Woodcock – All About Birds

American Woodcock – Wikipedia


Birds Vol 2 #1 – Snake Bird

From col. F. C. Baker.



HE Snake Bird is very singular indeed in appearance, and interesting as well in its habits. Tropical and sub-tropical America, north to the Carolinas and Southern Illinois, where it is a regular summer resident, are its known haunts. Here it is recognized by different names, as Water Turkey, Darter, and Snake Bird. The last mentioned seems to be the most appropriate name for it, as the shape of its head and neck at once suggest the serpent. In Florida it is called the Grecian Lady, at the mouth of the Mississippi, Water Crow, and in Louisiana, Bec a Lancette. It often swims with the body entirely under water, its head and long neck in sight like some species of water snakes, and has no doubt more than once left the impression on the mind of the superstitious sailor that he has seen a veritable sea serpent, the fear of which lead him to exaggerate the size of it.

This bird so strange in looks and action is common in summer in the South Atlantic and Gulf States, frequenting the almost impenetrable swamps, and is a constant resident of Florida.

As a diver the Snake Bird is the most wonderful of all the Ducks. Like the Loon it can disappear instantly and noiselessly, swim a long distance and reappear almost in an opposite direction to that in which naturally it would be supposed to go. And the ease with which, when alarmed, it will drop from its perch and leave scarcely a ripple on the surface of the water, would appear incredible in so large a bird, were it not a well known fact. It has also the curious habit of sinking like a Grebe.

The nests of the Anhinga are located in various places, sometimes in low bushes at a height from the ground of only a few feet, or in the upper branches of high trees, but always over water. Though web footed, it is strong enough to grasp tightly the perch on which it nests. This gives it a great advantage over the common Duck which can nest only on the ground. Sometimes Snake Birds breed in colonies with various species of Herons. From three to five eggs, bluish, or dark greenish white, are usually found in the nest.

Prof. F. C. Baker, secretary of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, to whom we are indebted for the specimen presented here, captured this bird at Micco, Brevard Co., Florida, in April, 1889. He says he found a peculiar parasite in the brain of the Anhinga.

The Anhingas consist of but one species, which has a representative in the warmer parts of each of the great divisions of the earth. The number seen together varies from eight or ten to several hundred.

The hair-like feathers on the neck form a sort of loose mane.

When asleep the bird stands with its body almost erect. In rainy weather it often spends the greater part of the day in an erect attitude, with its neck and head stretched upward, remaining perfectly motionless, so that the water may glide off its plumage. The fluted tail is very thick and beautiful and serves as a propeller as well as a rudder in swimming.

SNAKE BIRD.Anhinga anhinga. Other names: “Water Turkey,” “Darter,” “Water Crow,” “Grecian Lady.”

Range—Tropical and sub-tropical America.

Nest—Of sticks, lined with moss, rootlets, etc., in a bush or tree over the water.

Eggs—Two to four; bluish white, with a chalky deposit.

Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) Dryed at Lake Hollingsworth by Dan

Anhinga Dryed at Lake Hollingsworth

Lee’s Addition:

Anhingas are very common here in central Florida. We see them “hanging out to dry” all the time. That, or swimming in the lake with only their neck sticking out. They do look like a snake at times.

The Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga), sometimes called SnakebirdDarterAmerican Darter, or Water Turkey, is a water bird of the warmer parts of the Americas. The word anhinga comes from the Brazilian Tupi language and means devil bird or snake bird.

It is a cormorant-like bird with an average body length of 85 cm (33 in), a wingspan of 117 cm (46 in), and a mass of up to 1.35 kg (3.0 lb). It is a dark-plumaged piscivore with a very long neck, and often swims with only the neck above water. When swimming in this style the name Snakebird is apparent, since only the colored neck appears above water the bird looks like a snake ready to strike.

Most of the male Anhinga’s body is a glossy black green with the wings, base of wings, and tail being a glossy black blue. The tip of the tail has white feathers. The back of the head and the neck have elongated feathers that have been described as gray or light purple white. The upper back of the body and wings is spotted or streaked with white.

Anhinga Female resting - Lake Morton 6-28-12 by Lee

Anhinga Female resting

The female Anhinga is similar to the male Anhinga except that it has a pale gray-buff or light brown head, neck, and upper chest. The lower chest or breast is a chestnut color and as compared to the male, the female has a more brown back.

This bird is often mistaken for the Double-crested Cormorant due to its similar size and behavior. However, the two species can be differentiated by their tails and bills. The tail of the anhinga is wider and much longer than that of the cormorant. The bill of the anhinga is pointed, while the bill of the cormorant has a hook-tip.

The Anhinga is placed in the darter family, Anhingidae, and is closely related to Indian (Anhinga melanogaster), African (A. rufa), and Australian (A. novaehollandiae) Darters.

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for May 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The American Woodcock

Previous Article – Wood Duck

Sharing The Gospel


Anhingida – Anhings and Darters Family

SULIFORMES – Gannets, Cormorants, Frigatebirds, Anhingas – Order

Anhinga – Wikipedia


Birds Vol 2 #1 – Wood Duck



From col. F. M. Woodruff.


A great many people think that this is the most beautiful bird of North America. It is called Wood Duck because it usually makes its nest in the hollow of a tree that overhangs the water. If it can find a squirrel’s or woodpecker’s hole in some stump or tree, there it is sure to nest.

A gentleman who delighted in watching the Wood Duck, tells about one that built her nest in the hollow of a tree that hung over the water. He was anxious to see how the little ones, when hatched, would get down.

In a few days he knew that the ducklings were out, for he could hear their pee, pee, pee. They came to the edge of the nest, one by one, and tumbled out into the water.

You know a duck can swim as soon as it comes out of the egg.

Sometimes the nest is in the hollow of a tree that is a short distance from the water.

Now how do you suppose the ducklings get there as they do?

If the nest is not far from the ground, the mother bird lets them drop from it on the dried grass and leaves under the tree. She then carries them in her bill, one by one, to the water and back to the nest.

If the nest should be far from the ground, she carries them down one by one.

This same gentleman says that he once saw a Wood Duck carry down thirteen little ones in less than ten minutes. She took them in her bill by the back of the neck or the wing.

When they are a few days old she needs only to lead the way and the little ones will follow.

The Wood Duck is also called Summer Duck. This is because it does not stay with us during the winter, as most ducks do.

It goes south to spend the winter and comes back north early in the spring.

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) by Dan

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) by Dan



UITE the most beautiful of the native Ducks, with a a richness of plumage which gives it a bridal or festive appearance, this bird is specifically named Spousa, which means betrothed. It is also called Summer Duck, Bridal Duck, Wood Widgeon, Acorn Duck and Tree Duck.

It is a fresh water fowl, and exclusively so in the selection of its nesting haunts. It inhabits the whole of temperate North America, north to the fur countries, and is found in Cuba and sometimes in Europe. Its favorite haunts are wooded bottom-lands, where it frequents the streams and ponds, nesting in hollows of the largest trees. Sometimes a hole in a horizontal limb is chosen that seems too small to hold the Duck’s plump body, and occasionally it makes use of the hole of an Owl or Woodpecker, the entrance to which has been enlarged by decay.

Wilson visited a tree containing a nest of a Wood or Summer Duck, on the banks of Tuckahoe river, New Jersey. The tree stood on a declivity twenty yards from the water, and in its hollow and broken top, about six feet down, on the soft decayed wood were thirteen eggs covered with down from the mother’s breast. The eggs were of an exact oval shape, the surface smooth and fine grained, of a yellowish color resembling old polished ivory. This tree had been occupied by the same pair, during nesting time, for four successive years. The female had been seen to carry down from the nest thirteen young, one by one, in less than ten minutes. She caught them in her bill by the wing or back of the neck, landed them safely at the foot of the tree, and finally led them to the water. If the nest be directly over the water, the little birds as soon as hatched drop into the water, breaking their fall by extending their wings.

Many stories are told of their attachment to their nesting places. For several years one observer saw a pair of Wood Ducks make their nest in the hollow of a hickory which stood on the bank, half a dozen yards from a river. In preparing to dam the river near this point, in order to supply water to a neighboring city, the course of the river was diverted, leaving the old bed an eighth of a mile behind, notwithstanding which the ducks bred in the old place, the female undaunted by the distance which she would have to travel to lead her brood to the water.

While the females are laying, and afterwards when sitting, the male usually perches on an adjoining limb and keeps watch. The common note of the drake is peet-peet, and when standing sentinel, if apprehending danger, he makes a noise not unlike the crowing of a young cock, oe-eek. The drake does not assist in sitting on the eggs, and the female is left in the lurch in the same manner as the Partridge.

The Wood Duck has been repeatedly tamed and partially domesticated. It feeds freely on corn meal soaked in water, and as it grows, catches flies with great dexterity.


WOOD DUCK.Aix sponsa. Coloring varied; most beautiful of ducks. Other names: “Summer Duck,” “Bridal Duck,” “Wood Widgeon,” “Tree Duck.”

Range—North America. Breeds from Florida to Hudson’s Bay; winters south.

Nest—Made of grasses, usually placed in a hole in tree or stump.

Eggs—Eight to fourteen; pale, buffy white.

Wood Duck by Dan at Lake Hollingsworth

Wood Duck by Dan at Lake Hollingsworth

Lee’s Addition:

The Wood Duck is in the Anatidae – Ducks, Geese & Swans Family. The Aix genus includes the Wood Duck and also the beautiful Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata). “The adult male has distinctive multicoloured iridescent plumage and red eyes,with a distinctive white flare down the neck. The female, less colourful, has a white eye-ring and a whitish throat. Both adults have crested heads.” When the male is in non-breeding plumage the colors are more like the female, but with some differences. Here is a photo taken yesterday at Lake Morton of a male Wood Duck.

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) Male Lake Morton 8-3-12

Wood Duck Male Lake Morton 8-3-12

Here is a picture of the female I also photographed yesterday.

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

Wood Duck Female Lake Morton 8-3-12

The male’s call is a rising whistle, “jeeeeee”; the females utter a drawn-out, rising squeal, “oo-eek,” when flushed, and a sharp “cr-r-ek, cr-e-ek” for an alarm call.

Their breeding habitat is wooded swamps, shallow lakes, marshes or ponds, and creeks in eastern North America, the west coast of the United States and western Mexico. They usually nest in cavities in trees close to water, although they will take advantage of nesting boxes in wetland locations if available. Females line their nests with feathers and other soft materials, and the elevation provides some protection from predators. Unlike most other ducks, the Wood Duck has sharp claws for perching in trees and can, in southern regions, produce two broods in a single season—the only North American duck that can do so.

The population of the Wood Duck was in serious decline in the late 19th century as a result of severe habitat loss and market hunting both for meat and plumage for the ladies’ hat market in Europe. By the beginning of the 20th century Wood Ducks had virtually disappeared from much of their former range. In response to the Migratory Bird Treaty established in 1916 and enactment of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, wood duck populations began to recover slowly. By ending unregulated hunting and taking measures to protect remaining habitat, wood duck populations began to rebound in the 1920s. The development of the artificial nesting box in the 1930s gave an additional boost to Wood Duck production.

Landowners as well as park and refuge managers can encourage Wood Ducks by building Wood Duck nest boxes near lakes, ponds, and streams. Fulda, Minnesota has adopted the Wood Duck as an unofficial mascot, and a large number of nest boxes can be found in the area.

Expanding North American Beaver populations throughout the Wood Duck’s range have also helped the population rebound as beavers create an ideal forested wetland habitat for Wood Ducks.

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for May 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Anhinga or Snake Bird

Previous Article – The Canvas-Back Duck

Kids, You are Special


Anatidae – Ducks, Geese & Swans

Wood Duck – All About Birds

Wood Duck – Wikipedia

Bet you never knew ducklings bounce – by xaandria86 – YouTube