FIELD NOTES ON SOME LONG ISLAND SHORE BIRDS by ruf23140

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									                          THE               AUK:

                 A QUARTERLY                   JOURNAL             OF

                            ORNITHOLOGY.



VOL. xxxIII.                      JULY, 1916.                                 No. 3.



FIELD        NOTES ON SOME LONG ISLAND                         SHORE BIRDS.

        BY   JOHN   TREADWELL        NICHOLS       AND   FRANCIS    HARPER.


                                Platcs VII-XIII.


   LoxG ISLAND,                                        has
                 with its abundantandvariedavifauna, long
beenoneof the mostthoroughly   canvassed       for
                                        fields ornithological
workin A•nerica. Naturallythewaterbirds   holdfirstplace mnong
its attractions. Of the Limieolmalone, nearly fifty specieshave
beenrecorded,            a          numberof European
               including considerable                     forms
and othersof rare or accidentaloccurrence.Unfortunately,   bird
studentsin general are rather neglectfulof the shore birds, and
                        to                   or
allowmostof the records be madeby gunners collectors,    who--
at least as far as Long Island is concerned--have seldomdone
more than publish migration data or the occurrenceof unusual
                      Giraud'sworki of seventy-two
forms. As a consequence,                         years
ago, though far from exhaustive,still furnishesthe fullest, and in
some         the
      respects best,account                          of
                            that hasbeenpublished the habits
of most of our shore birds?
      Giraud's important
  Since      time          have   place the
                      changes taken   in
          life
limicoline of LongIsland. The Dowitcheris no longer present
               of
in the abundance formerdays. The Robin Snipe,well knownto

  x J. P. Giraud, Jr. The Birds of Long Island. New York, 1844.
  2 Mr, George H. Mackay's excellent studies of a few specieson the Massachusettscoasi,
        in
published 'The Auk' overtwenty yearsago,mustnotbeoverlooked.SeeVol. VIII, 1891,
17-24 (Golden Plover); IX, 16-21 (Eskimo Curlew); IX, 143-152 (Black-belliedPlover);
                                                 Curlew); X, 25-35 (Knot).
IX, 294-296 (Bed Phalarope);IX, 345-352 (Hudsonian
                                         237
THE AUK, VOL. XXXl     I 1.                                         PLATE VII.




 1.   BLIND   AND DECOY8 ON OUTER BEACH.              2.   SANDERLING   TRACKS.
                          3, 4.   SANDE•I,INC• F•EDINiL
                                                            [Auk
238            AND      Long     Shore
          NICHOLS HAI•PEI•, Island   Birds.                 I_July

the old-time gunners,has been so decimatedthat now eachoccur-
renceisworthy of note. The EskimoCurlewis a bird of the island's
past, and the GoldenPloverbidsfair to shareits fate. The merest
remnant of Bartramian Sandpipers   yet keeps a foothold at the
extremeeasternend of the island. Certain other species,however,
have fared muchbetter, and probablya few have not shownany
considerable          in
             decrease the past quarter of a century. Large
flocks of Least and Semipalmated   Sandpipers   are still common
                                                  as
sights,and even so persistentlysoughta species the Greater
Yellowlegs has survived in goodly numbers. Apparently the
recent agitation for wilddire conservation has already begun to
have an effecttoward restoringthe numbersof our shorebirds.
                of        past
   For a number seasons we havebeenableto giveconsider-
ableattentionto the Limicol•e        on               and
                             occurring the marshes beaches
alongthe southsideof Long Island. Most of theseare migrants,
which generallyhurry past, sometimes  flying so high in the air as
to escape notice. When they do alight to feed on somefavorable
spot,they are oftenextremely  wary and difficultof approach;yet
if one adoptsthe regular gunner's  method, building a blind of
        for
bushes himself,and luring the birds with a flock of decoys
plantedon sticks,he may find that not only do a surprising  num-
ber of visitors come,but that someof them are very tame.
  The type of blind varies with the nature of the groundand the
       available.Onthebeach mayscoop a pit in the
materials                 one      out
                          with stranded
sandandbuildup its ramparts                logs,or sticks
                                      boxes,
(Plate VII). At a pool on the salt marshesthe high-tide bushes
(Ira oraria),whose greenleaves matchthe colorof the surrounding
marsh-grass  (Spartina), make the best sort of blind (Plate IX).
                                           in
They are stuckuprightinto the soft ground the form of a more
or lesscomplete  circle,within which the hunter sits. Bayberry
bushes(Myrica carolinensis) furnish a closercover,but are more
          and        less      than the high-tide
conspicuous, therefore suitable,                bushes.
Drifted eel-grass                            are
                 and dead stems of marsh-grass useful for
                                           a
filling gapsin a scantyblind. Occasionally gunnermay sit
                                              requiresa less
behinda mere screenof cloth, but a photographer
            affair                    for
conspicuous andbetterconcealment workat closer       range.
The decoys,                            or
            which are madeof tin, wood,' evencardboard,  are
known on Long Island as 'stool.' The arrangementof the stool
Vol. XXXIII
    1916 l] NxcnoLs HARPER, Island
                 AN•)    Long        Birds. 239
                                 Shore

and the blind for the most successful  results, especiallywhen
photographyis the object, calls for considerable experienceand
skill on the part of the hunter.
  The snipefly up the wind toward the stool, often settingtheir
wingsand sailingin first from one angle,then from another. As
they approach,   their characteristic whistlesadd to the thrill of the
mmnent. A skillful imitation of thesewill often bring them in
more surely, or turn a passing     bird which otherwise   might have
merely whistledto the stool. The critical moment comesjust
beforethey are ready to alight; when actually amongthe artificial
birds,sonhe  individuals              of
                         (espeeially the smaller    species)  seem  to
take their securityfor granted. We have very frequentlyplanted
our stoolin a foot or more of water, whereincoming    birdscouldnot
                                               or
judge the depth on accountof muddiness surfacereflections.
In sucha ease,                                             to
                they oftenflutter aboutfrom onedeceiver another,
dipping their feetinto the water,andbecoming                  by
                                                  bewildered their
inability to find bottmn (Plate XI, fig. 4). If a little moundof
                   has
mud or seaweed beenpreparedto project abovethe surface
                   a
near the decoys, bird will sometimes       alight upon it, giving the
                 a
camera-hunter shot that may amply repay him for long days of
devotionto the diflleultbut fascinating  sportof snipephotography.
  May and August are the monthsin which thesebirds occurin
greatest                               are
         numbers. As manyspecies foundthroughSeptember,
but after the first weeka majority of them fall off in abundance    of
individuals.   The   influence   of the weather   on their   southward
migratory flight is frequently noticeable. Clear weather and
strongnorthwestwindsbring few birds,and thosethat appeardo
          well
not e_ome to stool. At suchtimesdoubtless          many birdspass
by well out at sea. Protractedsoutherlywinds,moderatesouth-
west breezes,and cloudy or showery weather seem to furnish
proper conditionsfor the best flights over the shoresand bays.
                              the
On favorablefeedinggrounds birdsmay be foundat practically
any tinhe,and their flightsfrom onespotto anotheron the marshes
or •nud-flatsmay, of course,take any direction. In certain other
places,         the
       however, flight is seento be of a truly migratorynature.
For example,alongthe comparatively     narrow channelconnecting
Moriehesand Great South Bays, where feedinggrounds          are so
limited as to scarcely  inducethe birds to alight, a largemajority
                                                                                 [-Auk
•40                 AND     Long     Shore
               NICHOLS }IARPER, Island Birds.                                    [_July
•f them in the fall come to stool from the eastward and leave to
'•the        thoughusuallythere is alsoa smallminority travel-
     westward,
                    or
lng in the opposite otherdirections. Here the birdsgenerally
appearat aboutsunrise,  and are mostabundantearly in the day.
   The presentpaperalmsto furnishan accountof the migrations,
haunts,socialand feeding                   field characters,
                          habits,call-notes,                and
                                  of
generalactivitiesof elevenspecies shorebirds,as we have ob-
served them on Long Island. The migration data have been
gathered from every availablesource, includingnot only the pub-
                         1
lishedwritingsof Duteher, Cooke,"         3           4
                                  Braislin, and Eaton, but also
                     of                               chiefly
the manuscriptrecords a number of other ornithologists,
               of
fellow-members the Linn•ean Society of New York. For co-
                                    we
operationin this and other respects are glad to express     our
             and             to
appreciation indebtedness Messrs.William Floyd, Ludlow
Griseom, Arthur H. Helme, William Helmuth, StanleyV. LaDow,
Roy Latham, RobertCushman      Murphy, Chas.H. Rogers,H.F.
Stone, Henry Thurston, and J. A. Weber. We also have to
thank Dr. Frank Overton for generously   permitting the use of
                 of
his photographs the Northern Phalarope. All the otherpho-
tographswere taken by the writers.
                              we                   to
   In the easeof each species have endeavored give the
earliestand latest migrationdates,togetherwith the locality and
              or
the observer's the reeorder's namewhereverpossible. In addi-
tion to the scientificnamesand the acceptedEnglish names,as
    in                    we        a      of
given theA. O. U. Cheek-List, include number local
namesthat are in more or lesscommonuseon Long Island.

                            PHALAROPE,--Uncommon
    Lobipos lobatus. NORTHERN                         •
                                              transient
visitant. In followingits usual migrationroute, this phalaropeseemsto
pass at some distance off the Long Island coast, but occasionally(and
especially during stormy weather) it reaches our shores. The spring
dates range from April 2, 1911 (Long Cove, Overton and Harper), to
June 3, 1894 (Montauk Point, Scott); the fall dates,from August5, 1893,
to October22, 1888 (Montauk Point, Scott).

 • Numerous records furifished for Chapman's Handbook of Birds of Eastern North
America (1894) and for Eatoh's Birds of New York (1910).
  2 Distribution and Migration of North American Shore Birds. Washington, 1910.
 • A List of the Birds of Long Island, N.Y.  Abstr. Proc. Linn. Soc. N.Y., Nos. 17-19,
: 1907.
   • The Birds of New York, Part I.   Albany, 1910.
      VOL.XXXIII.
THEAUK,                                  VIII.
                                     PLATE




               PHALAI•OPE, •, • OXEYE" DOWITCHER.
  1, 2. i•ORTHERN                    AND
Vol. XXXIIIl
                a•-n     Long   Shore
    1916 j NICHOLS HaRrER, Island   Birds. 241

           of the  at   Cove, theinner of Fire
  Thepresence speciesLong   on       side
Island Beach,at so early a date in the spring,was probably accountedfor
by a galethat had beenblowingfor a day or sopreviously. The wind was
strongout of the northwestat dawn, when we looked out from the window
of a bayman's shantyand spiedtwo smallsnipelike   birdsswimming  among
the ripples in an indentation of the shore several yards away. A few
momentslater, having hastened    forth with cameras                 we
                                                    and field-glasses,
found one of the birdsfeedingalong the outskirtsof a large floatingbed
           in
of eel-grass the cove. It swameasilyback and forth, sometimes  clamber-
                             in
ing over a bunch of eel-grass its way; and thoughwe advancedin the
open nearer and nearer, it appearedmuch more interestedin securing  its
breakfast than in watching our motions. When pressedtoo closely,
         it                       little note,?ip. Several
however, gavea jerky, half-petulant                       times,too,
                              but
it tookwingfor a shortdistance, wasreadilyapproached   again. Once,
                         the                       the
whilebeingphotographed, bird wasdirectlybetween two observers,
barely out of arm's reach (Plate VIII).
  During the southward           of
                       movement shorebirdsin August,oneoccasion-
ally findsa NorthernPhalaropeamongthe meadows    alongthe southshore.
                    is
Floatingwater-weed a favoriteplacefor the birdsto alight. They walk
about over it or swim acrossbits of open water indifferently. Most of
thesebirdsare in the dark immatureplumage,and very confiding,  appar-
ently knowingnothingof man. On taking wing, they utter a chipping
              somewhatthat of the Sanderling. An adult bird observed
note suggesting
on August21 had the plumagealreadyvery gray.
  On August 16, 1913,a singleNorthern Phalaropewasobserved flutterto
                     of                     in
down to the surface a smallpond-hole the marsh backof the beach
near Mastic. It sat on the water like a little duck, and presentlycrouched
on a lump of bog,wheretwo Oxeyes    crowded           it,
                                               beside therebeingscarcely
room for all three birds.   It seemed to have considerable attraction for
severalOxeyes  that were flyingabout,for they stooledto it nicely,even
whenit wasswimming   wherethey couldnot alight. Thoughflushed    more
than once,it returnedalwaysto the samevicinity. In flight its blackish
upper surface,with the white stripe near the posterioredgeof the wing,
was striking.
  On the 28th and again on the 30th of August, 1915,two birds were
        on
observed the water-weed  which carpeteda considerableportionof the
surface of a shallow cove in the marsh back of the beach at Mastic.   On
                            the
eachdate it wasdoubtless sametwo individuals,       whichhad found a
congenialspot and were lingeringthere. As they moved about, their
                     up
mannerof snapping food remindedone of the SpottedSandpiper.
  Macrorhamphus griseusgriseus. DOWITCHER;         DOWITCH.--Though
formerly abundant, and still usually referredto as a commontransient
visitant,this is oneof the shorebirdswhose         on
                                           numbers LongIslandhave
                                in                             it
showna very markeddecrease the last fifty years. At present is a
regularbut scarcely  common   migrantalongthe southshore. The bulk of
the springmigrationtakesplacein May, extremedatesbeingApril 19
                                                                     [Auk
242               ANt)         Island
           NIct•ons H•rEr:, Long        Birds.
                                    Shore                            ;July
(Seaford, R. L. Peavey) and June 12 (Eaton). The southward flight
reaches Long Island as early as July 4 (Eaton), and continues as late as
September 29 (Freeport, Braislin).
  The Dowi•cher frequents the bare tidal shoalsand the muddy borders
of the marshes,seekingits food usually in the shallowwater or closeto its
edge. At presentthe birds are not, as a generalrule, sufficicntlynumerous
to form flocksof more than a few individuals; and frequentlyonly a single
Dowitcher is observed,either by itself or in companywith other species,
such as Yellowlegs,Stilt Sandpipers,Oxeyes,or Ringnecks.
   In the August migration of 1913 (which was light for mos• species),the
Dowitchers appeared in somewhat larger force than usual; four or five
.small,unmixedflockswere seen,whichflew low and s•eadily,and on most
occasions  failed to act in accordancewith their well-deservedreputation
for UDwary responseto decoys. At about sum'iseon August 17, however,
                                 by
 a flock of seven,accompanied a LesserYellowlegs,stooledbeautifully
at thc edge of a meadow island near Mastic, alighting on a muddy point
not far from •heblind. The Yellowlegs,    whichwasnearest,  soontook alarm
.andcontinuedits migrationto the westward,whistlingas it went, but the
Dowitchersshowed      remarkabletameness,   and allowedseveralphotographs
to be taken before they, too, departed.
                                      is
   The commonnote of this species a soft, rather abrupt whistle, which
usually soundslike wheu-whup,or wheu-whup-whvp,           but is subject to
                                       a
furthcr variation. Its toDe,%hough little lessshrill, is not very different
from that of the LesserYellowlegs' whistle. Now and then a rapid series
                                    the
of rolling, guttural notessurprises hearer.
   Though the bodies of the Dowitcher and the LesserYellowlegs do not
differ greatly in size, the former's bill is noticeably longer, and its legs
noticeablyshorter. Its stocky build, the darknessof its summerplumage,
and the narrow white patch on the back, which forms a very striking
mark when the bird is on the wing, are other goodfield characters. So also
is the grayish-whiteposterior margin of the wing in immature birds. In
its steady and well-sustainedflight the Dowitcher has a peculiar appearance,
for the body is inclined downwardfrom the head toward the tail, while
the long bill points earthward at a co•a'esponding  angle.
   Pisobia m•culata.      PECTORAL   SANDPIPER;  I•RIEKER; GRASS   SNIPE.-
An early but rare spring migrant; March 22 (Eaton) to May 30, 1913
(Freeport, Thurston). Fairly commonfrom la•e July through October;
the earliestfall recordis July 6, 1911 (East YIampton,W. Itehnuth), and
the latest, November 10 (Eaton).
                                               is         in
   Though the commonhaunt of this species suggested one of its
ve•macular  names(GrassSnipe), it is not infrequentlyfound alsoon mud-
fiats and alongthe marginsof marshypoolsand streams. It usuallytravels
                                                    one
and feedsin small bandsof its own, but sometimes or two birds are
       in          flockcomposed
observed a scattered                 of          species
                               chiefly th• smaller     of
     'The I(riekers ranks thewing, become loosely
snipe.            join  on       but    more
organizedafter alighting to feed. Each bird movesslowly along, and
TIIE AUK, VOL. XXXIII.                                       PLATE IX.




                 ].   BLIND AND DECOYS oN SALT MARSBES.
 2.   WI{ITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER.                3.   PECTORAL SANDPIPER.
                          4. LEAST SA1NrDPIPERS.
Vol. XXXlll]
                AND     Long    Shore
    1016 j NICHOLS HARPER, Island   Birds. 243

probesinto the mud with a rapid drilling motion of its bill, which appar-
ently remain• closed, thoughthe tip, at least, must be openedbeneaththe
surfacewhen a morsel is located. 'We have seenone squat in a skulking
attitude on the mud behind a short cat-tail stub, when it had been annoyed
by persistent stalking; and we have alsoseen  birdswadeinto a little stream
and swim a foot or two to the other side.
  Thoughthe Krieker is an unusuallytrustful snipe,it is well known, on
                                        to
the other hand, for its lack of response decoys. We were especially
pleased,                             we
        therefore,with an experience had at East Pond, Hicks Beach,
on September 30, 1911. It was near dusk when a band of eight or ten
small snipeappeared,   flying low over the easternend of the pool and head-
ing our way. The birdsswunggracefully      from sideto sideas they cameon,
and having caughtsightof our decoys,      wheeledin over-them. They had
scarcely        by
         passed beforethey.turned and droppedin, closely        bunched,at
the edgeof the mud-fiat, 18 feet in front of us. There they stooddaintily,
                        of
eyeingthe occupants the scantyblind with curiosityor wonder,as it
                                       or
seemed,rather than with suspicion alarm; but after some moments
they took wing and departed.
  The Krieker has two distinct notes-- a short kuk or chup,and a hoarse,
rolling whistle, k-r-r-r-u, k-r-r-r-u.
  The heavy streakson its breast end in a rather abrupt line acrossthe
body, and serveas a goodfield identification  mark. Thesedark markings,
however,are of protectivevalue when the Krieker's head is erect, for the
breast is then practically a part of the upper surfaceof the body, where
dark coloringis requiredto renderthe bird inconspicuous      amongits sur-
roundings.
  Ptsobia fuscicollis. WHITE-RUMPED       SANDPIPER; BONAPARTE'S    OXEYE;
BIG OX•YE.-- Rare in spring. We find only the followingrecords, ex-  all
eeptonewithin         years:Jun•10,1882(six,Mt. SinaiHarbor,
             veryrecent
Helme); May 21, 1910 (two, Long Beach,LaDow); May 22, 1910 (six,
Freeport,Weber and Harper); May 21, 1911 (two, Oak Island, Harper);
May 28, 1911 (one,LongBeach,Griscom);May 30, 1911 (five collected
by J. A. Weber out of a flock of about 25 on Jamaica Bay); May 23-24,
1915 (fairly commonat Gilgo Flats, Johnson,Rogers,Weber, and Har-
per). Fairly commonfall migrant; usually present from the middle of
August to the middle of October, and noted as early as July 4 (Eaton)
and as late as November4, 1912 (East Hampton, W. Helmuth).
            carefully
  If onelooks             the
                    through largemixed     of    that resort
                                      flocks snipe
during the migrationsto such favored feeding groundsas the Gilgo Flats
                                                     one or more White-
or the Oak Island pool, he will seldomfail to discover
rumps     the             flocks thisspecies,
     among others. Separate    of                   usually
                                           consisting
of only a few individuals,are alsoobserved.
  It feedson the bare tidal fiats, at the poolsin the marshes,and on the
      of
sands the outerbeach. In common         with the smallerOxeyes,it is unsus-
piciousin d'mposition.It sometimes               on
                                       crouches its tarsi when startled,
                                         the
and is then extremelyinconspicuouson mud. We have seenit come
                                                  to
over stool,though ordinarily it doesnot respond them.
244               AND   •              Birds.
             NICHOLSHARPER• Is•ld •']•ore                             [•A•
   Its flight is much like that of the Least Sandpiper; at timesflockspass
by in a direct and unhurried manner, but we have noticed single birds
whose   flight wasswift and darting.
                                do                        it
   The baymenand gunners not usuallydistinguish from the other
Oxeyes,but we have occasionally                     of
                                     heardit spoken as Big Oxeye. It can
be readily identifiedin the field by its slightlylargersizeand by i•s white
                                                  in
upper tail-coverts, which show conspicuously flight. On the ground
the bird standslow, and is very concealingly       colored,like the Krieker,
which it resembles     also in build. Perhaps as diagnosticas any other
                 is
characteristic its note; this is an exceedingly   sharpand squeaky,mouse-
like jeer, which the bird utters on the wing, and which, whenonce'learned,
is unmistakable.
  Pisobia minutilla.     LF•ST SANDPIPER;OXEYE; LILLE           OXEYE.--
      spring fallmigrant.It ispresent
Abundant   and                           throughout
                                   usually       May
and from about July 8 to September20, precedingthe Semipalmated
          by
Sandpiper about a week, on the average,both in arriving and in de-
parting on i•s migrations. It has been recordedfrom April 20 (Eaton) to
June12 (Orient,Latham),.and    from June27 (Orient,Latham)to October
14, 1912 (East Hampton, W. Helmuth).
         Sandpiper
  TheLeast             occurs      beach, ismuch
                sometimes on•heocean    but
more characteristicof the marshesand mud-fiats; it is also seencommonly
                           in
on floating bedsof eel-grass quiet covesand bays. It is very gregarious,
and travels usuallyin small bandsof three or four to twenty individuals,
but may be seenin much greaternumbers. Practically every large mixed
flock of shorebirds on Long Island containsLeast Sandpipers;these,how-
ever, keepmoreor lessto themselves,  thoughfeedingover the sameground
with Semipalmated    and White-rumpedSandpipers•   Ringnecks,and others.
                                                      of
The Oxeyesare alsovery apt to follow the movements Yellowlegswith-
out associating  very closelywith them.
   Both the Least and the SemipalmatedSandpipersare very easily at-
tracted to stool, but in walking about are apt to becomenervouswhen
they seea tall tin Yellowlegs toweringabovethem. The stoolare usually
set out in the water,but the Oxeyes,                      preferto alight
                                     with their shortlegs,.
on the bare ground,and when there is no convenientmud-bar, will often
passby without a pause.
               its
   In securing food of minute an•r•al life, the Least Sandpipereither
picksit up from the surfaceof the ground,or probesfor it with a drilling
motioninto the mud and sand,sometimes    throughshallowwater, in which
it may thrustits bill entirelyout of sight. It walksabout in a rather lei-
                                     it
surely'manner•thoughmeanwhile gleanscarefullyand industriously.
   No moretrustful snipevisitsthe Long Island shores;and it is not a very
uncon•mon             for                  to
            experience the photographer seesome these of      little fellows
movingabout fearlessly   within a dozenfeet of the placewhere he stands
in full view. At such times, as the membersof a smallband feed and
bathe, ripplingthe water with their wings, preening    their feathers,and
evenscratching  their bfilswith their toes, they presenta charmingscene.
THE AUK, VOL. XXXIII.                                              PLATE X.




l.   SEMIPAl,MATteD SANDPIPEl%•.     2.   LEAST AND SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS.
                   3.   SEMIPALMATED(AND OTHER?)SANDPIpEI•S.
  XXXIII] NICHOLS HARPER, Island
Vol.
  1916 J       AND     Long        Birds. 245
                               Shore

    notesthe
  The          though
        of Least,       with of Semipa'lmated
                   confused thosethe
         are       distinguishable.
Sandpiper, generally                        and
                                  The loudest mostcharacter-
     is       k-r-r-e-e-p, heard
istic a grating         often           birds taking
                               fromsingle   just    wing
          in
or already swiftanderraticflight,aswell asfromsmallbandsmaneuver-
                           it       denotes
inghighin the air. At times doubtless                     also
                                          alarm,andit seems
                                                            of
to signify' Whereare you?' and to be usedwith the purpose locating
othersof the species. There is alsoa much abbreviated  note,which may
               as                    to
be represented chef,but is subject markedvariation; this may be
                    of                           call,
usedby the members a flockasa conversational or it may represent
slightuneasinesswheneither a single bird or a flocktakesa shortflight to
avoid a person. Still another note is a soft, rolling k-r-r-r-r-r, not very
        fromthe whinnyof the Semipalmated, less
different                               but             and
                                               pronounced
much lessfrequently heard.
                                   of
  In commonwith two other members its genus,   the Krieker and the
Whiterump, which wear an inconspicuous plumagemuch like its own,
                 has
the LeastSandpiper the curious                   or
                               habit of squatting crouching  when
                                                              in
dangeris near. We had stalkedfour of thesebirds at a pond-hole a
                                                       so
brackishmeadowborderingMorichesBay, and they had become accus-
        to           that
tomed ourpresence theywerefeeding,                           of
                                         finally,at a distance only
                                     to
eightor ten feet. Oneof us happened movein a way that alarmed   the
                 so
little sandpipers, that one of them immediatelysquatted  downon the
                             with its headlowered. The camerawas
wet mud, while anothercrouched
          focused
opportunely                        them in the act (Plate IX).
                uponthem, and caught
At suchtimesthe birdsapparentlylike to get some                 like
                                               little obstruction a
mud-lump, if possible,betweenthemselves                 of
                                        and the sot•rce danger.
   Ereunetes pusillus. SEMIPALMATED   SANDPIPER;  OXEYE; BIG OXEYE.
-- Abundanttransientvisitant, outnumbering   even the LeastSandpiper
                              the              is          a
by probablytwo to one. Though Semipalmated generally tardier
                                 reachthe heightof their abundance
migrantthan the other,both species
duringthe latter part of May and throughthe month of August. Extreme
                                                     are
datesfor the springmigrationof the presentspecies April 28 and
                                      July 4 and October (Eaton).
June13 (Eaton); for the fall migration,                 15
                 is                   the
  This sandpiper at homeon the marshes, mud-fiats,and the outer
                      in
beaches. It is observed almostany numbers,from singlebirds to one
             together,
or two hundred                     manymore. Aboutthe third
                     and occasionally
weekin May, from the marshes     southof Freeport,we havenoticedthou-
sandsof migratingsnipefollowingthe coasteastwardin immenseand
fairly compact flocks;and it is probable that theseflocks consisted chiefly
of the Semipalmatedand Least Sandpipers.
                                     are
   The feedinghabitsof both species in generalsimilar,but Ereunetes
moves                                of                  on
        aboutmorerapidly in search food,is stronger the wing, and
        a
shows greatertendency     towardbunching     and wheeling. It seems    not
                                                        is
unlikely that the greateractivity of the Semipalmated associated     with
its habit of frequentingthe surf-beatenshore,while the more leisurely
waysof the Least,on the otherhand,correspond     with its preferredhabitat
on the quiet mud-fiats and marshes. There are few more pleasingsights
                                                                      [Auk
246               AND     Long    Shore
            N•cso•.s HARPER, Island   Birds.                          [July
along our shoresthan a band of Oxeyes trotting down the slope of the
beachin the wake of eachretreating wave, tur•fing just in time to avoid the
washfrom a new breaker,and keepingbarelyin advanceof its foamy front
as they run back over the sands. Sometimes    they linger a little too long
                                  about their legs,forcingthem into
for somemorsel,and the water surges
flight. The membersof a flock do not separatewidely when feeding,and
upon taking wing, they close  ra•ks and move in a compactbody. If not
disturbed,they fly steadily,but if they becomealarmed from somecause,
suchas a gunshot, they dart from side to side in an erratic course.
   The Gilgo Flats, on the inner side of the beach oppositeAmityville,
                favorableplacefor observing
are an especially                           SemipalmatedSandpipers
in largenumbers. The flocks                      of
                           start at dawnin search food,and continue
to move about actively for two 6r three hours. But by eight o'clock on a
midsummer    morningthe bh'dshave temporarilysatisfied    their hunger,and
begin to collectin densebuncheson the inner and drier parts of the fiats.
Here they rest quietly and dozeaway with headstuckedin the feathers      of
their backs. In the spaceof a few rods as many as three hundred birds
                  in
may congregate numerous        small and compactgroups. At a distance
thesegroups  remindoneof exposed   bedsof mussels;or if, at one's approach,
someof the birdskeepraisingand lowering     their wings,undecided   whether
                                 a
to fly or not, they even suggest clusterof butterflieson the sand.
   Most Semipalmated                m'e
                        Sandpipers very confiding,      thoughsomeindi-
viduals, which doubtlesshave been much persecuted,exhibit surprising
wildness. The membersof this species     come to stool in greater numbers,
probably, than any of the other Long Island shore birds, and many of
them pay dearly for theh' gentleness   and sociability, since gunnersvery
frequently turn their weaponsupon the little Oxeyesfor want of bigger
game. Birds with a crippledwing or a danglingleg, or with o•fiy one leg,
are no uncommonsight, and at times the proportion of cripplesto able-
bodiedbirds is sadly large.
   One of us in the Northwest has observeda SemipalmatedSandpiper
           on
crouching its tarsiwhenalarmed,exactlyin the mannerof the Pectoral,
White-rumped,and Least Sandpipers,       but we have never noticed this
                            on
habit in the presentspecies Long Island.
   The ordinarynote of this bh'd is a quick, monosyllabic   ch-r-r-uk, some-
times shortenedto a mere kuk or k/p. A most pleasantlittle whinnying
                                is uttered in a contented,sociable
call, eh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh,                                   tone by
a bird eitheron the groundor on the wing,and is a common       soundin mi-
gration time on the marshesand tidal fiats. Variable as the notes of this
      are,                         by          of
species they are alwaysdistinguished the absence the • sound
                      of
which is characteristic the Least Sandpiper'scommonnote.
              so           the
 Each species resembles other, both in habits and in appearance,
                     easyto distinguish
that it is by no means                                     under
                                      themin the fieldexcept
favorable conditions. The points of differenceare really numerous,but
                                           is
all of them are slight. The Semipalmated a little larger, its general
         is                                     its
coloration lighter,its breastlessheavilystreaked, backlessrusty in
Vol. XXXIII]
                  •i)     Long
    1916 j NIcno;.s H•RrER,  Island    Birds. 247
                                   Shore

the summerplumage,its bill stouter, and its legsdarker. There is alsoless
contrast between the dark middle and the light outer tail-feathers in this
species than in the Least Sandpiper,as one may observe   when the birds
take wing directly away from him. Moreover, one ;vho is familiar with
their noteshas an excellent       for             the
                            means separating two species.
  The femaleshave decidedlylonger bills than the males, and may be
readilypickedout of a ' bag' of birdsby this character.
  Calidris leucoph•ea. S•NDmRLINC;       SURFSNIPE.--A very common
migrant on Long Island. It is oneof the hardiestof our shorebirds, being
amongthe first fo arrive in the springas well as .amongthe last to depart
in the fall. It is evennotedoccasionally duringthe winter. It has been
          on
recorded the migrations     from March 15 to June 14, and from July 4
to December$ (Eaton). On the southwardflight it is usually presentfrom
late July to late October.
   Though the Surf Snipe,true to its name, lovesto run up and down the
outer beachalongthe surf-line,it is alsofound very commonlyon a sandy
innerbeach,suchas that bordering                                     on
                                    Fire Island Inlet, and sometimes a
                                                    at
wide tidal fiat along one of the numerouschannels the westernend of
Great South Bay. It occurs     alsoon the opengravelly pointsprojecting
into Long Island Sound. We have see•l    but onebird -- a cripple-- actu-
ally on the marsh. Even passing    birds have beennotedbut onceduring
several years' observationat the junction of marsh and bay behind the
beach at Mastic.
  It generally travels in bands of five to twenty individuals of its own
       but                  are
species, largernumbers occasionally         observed together,and many
single birds are met with.
  The Surf Snipe is lessshy than suspicious. In feeding along the beach,
                        to                       range,and it will ahnost
it will allowa pedestrian followit at fairly close
invariablycomeclose          to
                      enough a blind to be at a gunneFs   mercy; yet it
                            to
seldommustersthe courage passdirectly in front of the blind within
goodphotographic                          its
                   distance. Sometimes apprehensions      seemdirected
toward the large tin decoys,and it will passthem on the wing instead of
walkingor trotting amongthem in its progress alongthe shore.
 The birds feedin a closeflock, as they hurry alongjust where the wash
from the searolls upon the beach. They obtain their foodby rapid probing
in the wet sand, whether its surfaceis bare or coveredwith a thin fihn of
water; and they undoubtedly   fare well uponthe smallbut abundantanimal
life of the ocean's                 to
                    edge. What seems be photographic             of
                                                         evidence the
                               of          was           at
flexibilityof the uppermandible this species, secured ShortBeach
on August 14, 1910. In the photographthe bird's bill is apparently open
at the tip whereit touchesthe sand, though closedfor the basal half of its
length (Plate VII).
                                                                   as
  The Surf Snipeis strongon the wing. Flocks are often observed they
maintain their line of flight either over or just beyond the surf, keeping
rather closeto the water, and now and again wheeling with perfectly con-
certed action. When on the ground, the birds are able to move their legs
                                                                    FAuk
248              A•)      Long    Shore
            NICHOLS H.•RrER, Island   Birds.                        tJuly
with machinelikerapidity, and sometimestravel along the beach at a trot
faster than a man's walk.
                             is
  The note of this species a not very loud ket, ket, ket, uttered singly
or in a series,and in a slightly complainingtone. We have heard it on a
moonlight night from birds flying about over the beach.
  The' bold white stripe running lengthwisethrough the middle of the
                          in                               to
blackishwing is conspicuous a steadilyflyingbird, and serves distin-
                in
guishthe species any of the varying seasonalplumages.
  Totanus rnelanoleucus. GREATER         YELLOWLEGS;   BIG YELLOWLEG;
WI•TER YELL0WLEG;YELrEn.--With the exceptionof a few weeks in
                                            is
June and early July, the GreaterYellowlegs presenton theseshores      from
April to November, or approximatelyhalf of eachyear. It is commonon
both the springand the fall migrations,          its
                                        reaching maximumnumbers          in
the middle of May and in early September. Someexceptionally           early
spring records are March 9 (Eaton) and March 23, 1903 (Montauk,
Braislin), the averagedate of arrival being about the middle of April.
The birds frequently linger into June; severalwere noted as late as June
17 and 18, 1911, at Gardiner's Island (Harper), while Latham mentions
June 19 as the latest date at Orient, and Eaton givesa recordfor June
22. The earliestdate of arrival on the southwardflight is July 3 (Orient,
Latham), the average  beingabout two weeks   later. The latest fall records
are November 24 (Eaton) and November28, 1904 (Mr. Sinai, Murphy);•
usually the last birds are seenearly in the month.
               is
  This species one that has fairly held its own on Long Island in recent
years, in spite of relentlesspersecution.. As far as one can judge from
shooting          it
         records, wasscarcely                   in
                                morenumerous the eighties    than to-day.
And the birdsare still commonly            in
                                  observed flocksof nearlythe samesize
as in the time of Giraud, who wrote, 'They do not usuallyassociate in
large flocks,generallyroving about in parties of from five to twelve?
                                                 and warinessthat they
It is largely by reasonof their great watchfulness
have survivedin their present  numbers. Doubtless  anotherfactorin their
preservationis a habit exhibitedby the membersof a flock while coming
in to decoys; they generally keep well separated,and thusdo not expose
            so
themselves fully to wholesale             as
                                slaughter do birds that bunchclosely.
                                                       is
   The favorite feedinggroundof the GreaterYellowlegs a largepoolin
the salt marshes       as       in
                  (such shown Plate IX), whereit generally   alightsand
feedsin one or more inchesof water. It is found lesscommonly  alongthe
mud-fiats bordering the tidal channels,and only rarely upon the outer
beach.
                    easilybut swiftly abovethe marshin orderlyarray,
   As a flock courses
seeking  somenew haunt, its members  frequentlygive voiceto their loud,
                                    or
ringing whistles: wheu-wheu-wheu, wheu-wheu-wheu,       wheu-wheu,in
series of three or more notes. The hunter in his blind gives a whistled
imitation of the far-reaching                       the
                             sound,and eagerlyscans air for a glimpse
of the oncoming   birds. They fly up the wind, responding  now and then
                                                                   of
to his call, and presentlycatchsight of the stool. If the collection tin
•'Hœ AUK,VOL.XXXlfl.                             'PLATEXI.




                         4




                             1




   1. "OXEYES" OVERDECOYS.                      YELLOWLrOS.
                                 2, 3, 4. GREATER
¾ol. XXXIII]
                 AND     Long    Shore
    1916 j NxcHo•,s HARPER, Island   Birds. 249

or woodenbirds is well placed,and the hunter resiststhe temptationto
make any movementbehind his screenof bushes,the gregariousinstinct of
the Yellowlegs may overcometheir well-foundedsuspicions  and induce
them to join their supposed                                   to
                           comrades. Upon suchan occasion, fill one's
gazewith the large, gracefulsnipe,as they comelow over the marsh,set
their long, curvingwings, and drop with danglinglegsinto the pool near
the farthest decoys, keepingtheir wingslifted high over their backsfor a
moment                  is                           and
         after alighting, oneof the mostfascinating thrillingexperi-
encesto be had on the Long Island marshes. And if the instrument that
        thentrains
thehunter            his is      of       noise
                 upon game capable nolouder   thanthe
click of a shutter, so much the richer is his reward.
   When in flocks, the Greater Yellowlegs do not associateclosely with
             and                evenwhenfeedingin the samepool
other species, keep to themselves
with a variety of shorebirds. We have, however, noticed singlebirds in
the companyof other large snipe,suchas the LesserYellowlegsand the
Dowitcher.
  Though, as we have already suggested,this speciesoccursusually in
                                    we
bandsof lessthan ten individuals, had a flock of about30 birdsunder
             for
observation a number of hourson May 20 and 21, 1911, at the well-
known Oak Island pool. When we approachedthe place, numerous
Oxeyes  merelymovedto the farther sideof the pool; half a dozenBlack-
bellied Ploversdepartedat once,and perhapsfor good; the Yellowlegs,
too, took flight, but after our blinds were built, they returfied again and
again, no matter how often disturbed. The pool contained,at that time,
only an inch or two of water, and the Yellowlegscontinually ran back and
forth overthe middleof it in an oddfashion. In spiteof the extremelength
and thinnessof their legs, their movementswere by no means ungainly.
It can only be conjecturedthat these maneuverswere undertaken for the
purposeof securing   food, for now and then a bird would dart its bill into
the water, as if to snatchup somesmall inhabitant of the pool, such as a
fleeing killirish.
                            is        of
   The Greater Yellowlegs possessed a varied vocabulary,which seems
to have been slightedby most ornithological   writers. Its principal notes
        of
consist threevery differentkinds,all of whichmay be heardfrom a single
bird in the spaceof only a few minutes.
   A secondnote is lessoften heard than the usually described     whistle;
          to                        '
it seems be usedas a ' summons call, as when birds on the groundcall
down a passing  flock. It is a very pleasantand musicalnote, and oft-
repeated- to6-whee,  to6-whee, to6-whee,         to6-whee. Hunters may
                                         to6-whee,
useit to goodeffectin calling the birds to decoys. Someof them refer to
this note as the ' roll '.
   A third call is nothing short of astonishingto one who hears it for the
first time. It is a curious,discordantcackle,or yelp, whichprobablygives
rise to the vernacular  nameof ' Yelper.' A solitaryYellowlegs,  alighting
in a poolbeyondthe decoys,                                    of
                             and entertainingstrongsuspicions the blind,
thoughnot sufficiently  alarmedto depart at once,is very apt to indulgein
                                                                        fAuk
250              AND     Long    Shore
            N•CnOLS HARPER, Island  Bird•.                              [July
this emphatic, henlike cackle: kaouw• kaouw, kaou% kaouw. With each
yelp it bobsits head vigorously.
  Indeed, there are few of our shorebirds that give such striking exhibi-
                                                     its
tions of head-bobbing. The Yellowlegsmay express first mild suspi-
cionsby silent bobbing,but presentlyutters either its piercingwhistle or
its cackling yelp with the forward thrust of the head, lending so much
energy to the movement that its whole body tilts with eachbob. One can
not help smilingat the bird's comicalappearance. As its alarm grows,it
bobswith increasingfrequency,and finally springsinto the air, redoubling
its cries as it goes.
   The dark upper parts, whitish tail-coverts and tail, and yellow legs are
conspicuous                          sharesequally with the LesserYellow-
               markswhich this species
legs. The bill of the Greater Yellowlegsis noticeablylarger, but either
      may be distinguished the field morereadily by its notesthan by
species                  in
size.
   Totanus fiavipes. YELLOWLEGS; LITTLE YELLOWLEG; SUMMER
YELLOWLEG;       LESSER  YELI•OWLEGS.--  Rare in spring, but a very common
fall migrant, generally outnumbering the Greater Yellowlegs from the
middle of July to the middle of September. Recorded from April 23
(Orient, Latham) to June i (Rockaway, Braislin), and from July 7 (Eaton)
to October 28, 1912 (East Hampton, W. Helmuth).
   The LesserYellowlegsfrequents the shallow pools in the salt marshes,
and is seennow and then on the mud-fiats or on stranded layers of eel-grass
along the shoresof coves and bays. It is also very partial to brackish
meadows     •vith standingwater; at sucha favorablespot,on the inner beach
                                                        for
oppositeMastic, 50 to 100 birds kept congregating days near the end
of August, 1913, despitepersecutionby gunners.
   It is a very gregarious bird, and pairs or small flocksare more frequently
observedthan solitary individuals. It often associates      with other species,
suchas the I)owitcher, Robin Snipe, and Greater Yellowlegs. In compari-
                                    it
son with the last-namedspecies, generallytravels in larger bodies,and
       less     stooling
is much suspic!ous,    more       and      closer the
                           readily alighting    to
blind. Its flight is similar, though perhapsnot quite so strong as that of
the larger bird, which at times coversdistancewith surprisingspeed. In
all its movementsand attitudes- whether wading among the decoys
in water up to its thighs,bathing,runningabout over a mud-bar, standing
at rest with neck drawn in, scratchingits bill with a foot• or curving its
slender wings in easy flight- the Lesser Yellowlegs is an exceedingly
graceful bird.
                             it
   In comingto the decoys, may fly low and easily,or shoot down from
a height; sometimesit whistles, and again it drops in without a sound.
When the stool are planted on extra long sticksin deep water, the Yellow-
legswill often flutter from one to the other, dipping its feet into the water
without being able to alight. The bird shown in Plate XII, fig. 4, acteel
in sucha manneruntil it happenedto spy a little mud-lump, upon which
                                                            it
it settled,about16 feetfrom our blind. From thisvantage-point looked
THE AUK, VOL. XXXItl.                        PLATE Xtl.




                        LESSER YELLOWLEGS.
Vol. XXXIII]
                 •
    1016 j N•cuo•s           H.•u,        Island
                                       Long        Birds. 251
                                               Shore
out over the stool, disregardingthe blind and its occupants. Presently a
Greater Yellowlegspassedby• and our bird followed it to a neighboring
mud-flat. But after an interval of some twenty minutes, apparently the
same Yellowlegs retttrned, and again perched on its favorite mud4ump.
                       a                         we
When we had secured number of photographs, tried to inducethe bird
to take wing, but the noises and movementswe made were unavailing until
it slippedoff the lump by accident,and then departed.
   The ordinarywhistleof this species resembles that of the GreaterYellow-
legs,but is not quite so loud and clear. It is given in a seriesof two or
                    or
singly, wheu-wheu wheu-- seldomin a seriesof three or more, as is the
larger bird's call. Flocking birds utter a short wip• which is frequently
repeated, and sometimesr.uns into a series. There is also a musical
            '
' summons call, to6-whee,  to6-whee, to6-whee,almostidenticalwith that of
the Greater Yellowlegs,  but apparentlynot soloud. Oncea flock of about
a dozenbirds, just after passing high over our blind, let loosea succession
of thesenotes,• if to entice their inanimate counterpartson the marsh to
join them.
                                                                  of
   In their feedinghabits and choiceof haunts,the two species Yellow-
legs are very much alike. So far as we have observed,they do not drill
in the mud or sand in the manner of a Krieker, Oxeye, or Sanderling,but
deftly snatch up their food with thrusts of their long bills, or occasionally
                          by
searchout small morsels swingingtheir bills from side to sidethrough
shallow water.
  8quataxola squatatoll.      BLXCK-B•LL•ED PLOV•i•; BLXCKBl•XST;
                                                in
B•JLL•E.•D(juv.).--Though no longeroccurring the abundanceof former
days,this strikingly handsomeplover is still a rather commontransienton
Long Island. The migration records extend from April 30, 1902 (Mon-
taak, Scott), to June 17 (Rockaway,Braislin), and from Jiffy 1, 1903
(Quogue,Kobbe), to November 12, 1911 (Jones Beach, Griseom). It is
usually presenton the southwardmigrationfrom the first week of August
to the middle of October,the brfik of the flight taking placein late August
and September. Most of the spring birds are seen from the middle to
the latter part of May.
  The Blackbreast   seeks its food at low tide on the mud-flats and    the
sandybeaches,   where it nmy be distinguishedfrom afar amongthe Turn-
stones, Ringnecks, and Sanderlings,that share with it these habitats. '
With each turn of the tide the ploversfly about more actively, passingto
and fro betweentheir feeding groundsand the higher and drier portions
of the marshesand shoals,where they remain rather quietly during the
periodof high water. At times they alsoalight on the wet marsh.
  Nowadayson Long Island they travel generallyin small bandsof three
or four to a dozen individuals; we have, however, observeda flock of as
many as 150 near Freeporton the springmigration,and Mr. Henry Thurs-
ton reportsa flock of about 800 in the samelocality on May 30, 1913.
                          of
  As a rule, other species shorebirds, as well as decoys, have no great
attraction for these wary and self-sufficientplovers. A commonsight,
                                                                          I'Auk
252                 nNn    Long    Shore
              NitsoLs HnRPER, Island   Birds.                             LJuly
ho•vever,is a nu•nber of TurnstoneskeepingsomeBlackbreastscompany,
and follo•vingthem •vhenthe larger birdsfly off. We have observedRobin
Snipe•too, associating                                 a
                       •vith them. When one approaches feedingground
•vhere several different speciesof the commonershore birds are present,
the Blackbreasts  can generallybe dependedupon to take flight first and
farthest   from the intruder.
  They do not wade in the water so habitually as they run leisurely over
the bare fiats. On August 24, 1912, however, a pair took us unawares
by alighting in a coupleof inchesof •vater amongour decoysat East Pond,
Hicks Beach. One of the birds •vas changingto winter plumage, but the
other •vas still in nearly full summer dress. They displayed only a little
uneasiness   •vhile so close to the blind, and though taking their departure
after a fe•v moments,they settled again cn a mud-bar 50 yards away, •vhere
                              photographs
they permittedseverallong-range                           p•osi-
                                        from an unconcealed
                                                           in
tion. The black axillars, which will distinguishthis species any plumage
from the Golden Plover, •vere caught by the camer• as one of the birds
raised its wings to the fullest extent (Plate XIII).
  During this same month, while standing on the open marsh near Free-
port, •ve answeredthe call of an adult Blackbelly that cameflying in our
direction. As if recognizingat that instant the dangerousobjects ahead,
it shot suddenlydo•vnwurd,   swervingsharplyfrom its line of flight, some-
                                                         it
•vhat in the manner of a frightenedOxeye. Nevertheless circledround
and round us for the better part of a minute, continually respm•ding    to
•vhistled imitations of its melodious notes.      It often exhibits this h•bit
of circling when the sportsmanin a blind endeavorsto lure it within r:m•e.
Like the Ringneck, it is apt to hover for a moment over the stoolin p:tssing
by. It is strongand swift on the wing, and its flight is steadierthan that
of most of our shore birds.
                                                    is
   The Blackbelly's trisyllabic whistle, pc•-oooo-ece, uttered when the
bird is either on the wing or on the ground, and may be heard from Mar.
                               of
It seemsperfectly expressive the bird's wildnessand freedom, and is
altogetherone of the finest soundsof the Long Island coast. The first
                       at
note,whenheardclose hand,hasa peculiarly         shrill and buzzingquality,
but this quality is greatly mellowed by distance. There can be little
doubt that the chief accentfalls upon this note, though somewriters place
it uponthe second,       is                   of
                  xvhich the mostprolonged the threenotes. The
second                  are
      and third syllables nearly alike in tone, and the transitionfrom
the one to the other is not at all marked, so that the final syllable now and
               to
then appears be omitted. Anotherwhistle,not quite so frequently
                            or
heard,is a mellowkloo-ooo, koo-wee,                  a
                                        with perhaps slightaccenton the
secondsyllable. It seemsto be a call of contentmentor sociability,and
is commonlyuttered on a flight of short duration. On severaloccasions
•vehave hearda smallparty of theseplovers,beforeor while taking wing,
utter a fe•v lo•v, guttural notes, quite unlike their usual whistles; they
seemed to be given as calls of attention or •varning.
  •Egialitis semipalmata.        SEMIPALMATEDPLOVER; R•NGNECK.--
Vol.. XXXIII
    1010 1 NICHOLS HARrER, Island
         j      AN-D    Long        Birds. 253
                                Shore

The Ringneck,one of the most daintily dressed and most charmingof the
Long Island shorebirds, is also one of our most familiar species, being
          in
exceeded numbersonly by the Least and SemipalmatedSandpipers.
A regular and very commonmigrant, it is presentusually throughoutmost
of the month of May, and from late July to the first week in October.
Extreme dates for the spring migration are April 19 and June 5 (Eaton);
for the fall migration, July 6 (Orient, Latham) and October 22, 1912
(East Hampton, W. Helmuth). On the southward flight it does not
becomecommonbefore the first week in August, when flocks of consider-
able size may be seen.
                     a
  This is essentially bird of the mud-fiats,just as the Piping Plover is
bird of the sandy outer beaches. And here is an interestingcorrelation
                                                           the
betweenplumageand habitat in two closelyallied species, Ringneck•s
brown back harmonizingwith the dark color of the mud, while the Piping
                               it              on
Plover'spale plumagerenders inconspicuous the bright sands. The
                                                             of
Ringneckis not givento wading•but feedsalongthe borders quiet tidal
                                                                as
channels,on the bars and marginsof poolsin the salt marshes, well as
on the drier, stubbly portionsof the marshes,                      on
                                             and even occasionally the
outer   beach.
               freely with the two common species Oxeyes, one or more
   It associates                                 of
of the ploversoften being seenin a flock of thesesmall snipe; it is also
found commonlyin the companyof the larger shorebirds. At other times,
                    bandsof threeor four to twenty-fiveor thirty individ-
it travelsin separate
uals. The members of a flock scatter somewhat in feeding, but on taking
wing, they gather into closeranks• their' bright under parts showingcon-
          as
spicuously the flock wheelsover the marsh.
  The Ringneck is not very wild, nor yet as trustful as an Oxeye,but, on
the whole, it much prefers to keep a fair distancebetween itself and
human being. At nightfall, however, it sometimespermits a cl_ose
proach• as it runs restlesslyabout the shore and gives its piping notes.
                             of
Generally,at the appearance an intruder•or on otheroccasions    whenits
          are         it
suspicions aroused, bobsits head in a mildly inquiringway. Decoys
do not have the same attraction for this bird.as for a Yellowlegs or an
Oxeye. When it doescome to stool, it may hover for a moment• or even
                            by
alight, but usuallypasses without stopping. Perhaps    this is accounted
                                        in         are
for, in part, by the fact that the decoys mostcases setout in several
                  s
inchesof water and the Ringnecktherefore     finds no suitableplacefor
alighting near them.
  Its flight is strong and direct- much lesserratic or meanderingthan
                                   on
that of an Oxeye. Its movements the groundare not very rapid• and
suggest  somewhat   thoseof a Robin; it standsquietlyon a mud-bar,facing
the wind, its head bent slightly forward with an intent air, then it trots
forward a few steps,and stopsto look about againfor a morselof food.
Its legs do not seem to move with the twinkling rapidity of a Piping
         for             are            for
Plover's• the mud-fiats lesssuitable fast travelingthan are the
smoothsandsover which the latter habitually runs.
                                                                      [Auk
254c               AND     Long    Shore
              NICHOLS HARPER, Island   Birds.                         [July

  The Ringneck'sordinary flight-note or call-note is a sweet and mellow
whistle, tyoo-eep'. It is given repeatedlyby birds on the wing, but those
on the groundare generallysilentwhen not disturbed. From hearing this
whistl9 while spending the night on the marshes, we surmise that the
birds are more or lessactive during the hours of darkness. Another and
                                                      it
roughernote seemsto signify excitementor suspicion;. is usually uttered
singly, but sometimesa bird standing on the ground will give a rapid
descendo  seriesof these questioningnotes, keup-keup-keup-keup,  etc., the
last few almost running together.



                          EXPLANATION           OF I>LATES.

                                      PLATE VII.

   Fro. 1. Blind and decoysat a pool on the outer beach-- the Sander-
ling's haunt. Long Beach, L.I.  September19, 1909. (F. H.)
   F1G. 2. Sanderling tracks. Fire Island Inlet, L. I. May 29, 1911.
(F. H.)
                      on
  FiG. 3. Sanderlings the outer beach. Mastic, L.I.      September15,
1913. (J. T. N.)
  F•G. 4. Sanderlfi•gon the inner beach. (Note the bill openonly at the
tip.)   Short Beach, L.I.      August 14, 1910. (F. It.)

                                      PLXT•    VIII.

  FiGs. 1, 2. Northern Phalarope. Long Cove, Great South Bay, L. I.
April 2, 1911. (Photographedby Frank Over[on, M.D.)
  Fro. 3. Dowitcher and Oxeye. Mastic, L.I.    August 17, 1913. (J.
T. N.)
                                      PLXT•     IX.

                               at
  FiG. 1. Snipeblind and decoys a poolonthe salt marshes. Freeport,
L.I.      May 15, 1910.     (F. H.)
 Fro. 2. White-rumped Sandpiper. East Pond, Hicks Beach, L. I.
October 22, 1911. (J. T. N.)
 Fro. 3. Pectoral Sandpiper. Mastic, L.I. August 24, 1912. (J. T.
N.)
                          in
 Fro. 4. Least Sandpipers concealing   postures; one bird squatting.
Mastic, L.I. September1, 1912. (F. H.)

                                       P•xam     X.

  Fro. 1. SemipalmatedSandpipers. JonesBeach,L.I.             May 25, 1913.
(J. T. N.)
AUK,VOL.XXXI•I.                                       Xlli.
                                                  PLATE




1, 3.               PLOVERS.
        BLACK-BELLIED          2, 4.              PLOVERS.
                                       SEMIPALMATED
¾ol. XXXIII
    1916 1 N•C}IOLS HXaPER, Island
         j       AND     Long        Birds. 255
                                 Shore

   FIG. 2. Least Sandpipers (on left) and SemipalnmtedSandpipers(oa
right). East Pond, Hicks Beach, L.I.    September 8, 1912. (F. H.)
   F•G. 3. SemipMmated Sandpipers(and probably other species)rising
from a mud-fiat. Gilgo Flats, JonesBeach,L.I.   July 28, 1912. (F. H.)

                             PLATE XI.


  F•G. 1. Oxeyespassingover decoys. Gilgo Flats, JonesBeach, L. I.
          4,
September 1911. (F. H.)                       '
  F•G. 2. Greater Yellowlegs wheeling over decoys. Freeport, L. I.
May 15, 1910. (F. H.)
 F•. 3. Greater Yellowlegs coming in to decoys. Freepert, L. I.
May 15, 1910. (F. H.)
  F•. 4. Greater Yellowlegshoveringamong decoys,with legsdangling,
but unable to alight in deep water. Mastic, L.I. September13, 1915.
(F. H.)
                             PLATE XII.


                  LesserYellowlegs. Mastic, L. I.
  F•G. 1. Flock alighted amongdecoys. Late July, 1913. (J. T. N.)
  F•G. 2. Flock passingover decoys. September11, 1915. (F. H.)
  F•G. 3. Two birds droppingin. (In wheelingsharply, one has turned
                        11,
almostover.) September 1915, (F. H.)
  F•G. 4. Singlebird standingon mud-lumpnear decoys. September    1,
1912.    (F. H.)

                             PLAT•   XIII.

  F•GS.1, 3. Black-belliedPlovers. (Note the black axillarsshowingin
oneof the flyingbirds.) East Pond,Hicks Beach,L.I. August24, 1912.
(F. H.)
  FI•s. 2, 4. SemipalmatedPlovers in front of blind at a pool on the
salt marshes. Freeport, L.I. August21 and 20, 1910. (F. H.)

								
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