SOUTH CENTRAL WING
HABITAT BIRD GROUPS
Preeminent for their faithful portrayal of the life of birds are the groups which the visitor should now inspect in this hall of the American Museum of Natural History. Designed to illustrate not only the habits but also the haunts of the species represented, there are usually installed in each group adult bird or birds, nest, eggs and young. The pictures of their homes are from nature, not fanciful sketches, each with its definite locality, therefore possessing a geographical as well as an ornithological value.16
Beginning with the case at the entrance and passing to the right, the groups are arranged in the following sequence:
Orizaba Group of birds: In the foreground is the luxuriant vegetation one finds at the upper border of the tropical zone. Perched in this growth are parrots, toucans, trogons, mot-mots and other tropical birds. The studies for this view were made at Cordova, Vera Cruz. In the central back-ground is snow-capped Orizaba, on the left a view of the Rio Blanca.
Summer Bird Life of Cobb's Island. Common terns, skimmers, gull-billed terns, oyster-catchers, Wilson's plovers and other birds are shown on a portion of a shell-strewn sand-bar, Cobb's Island, off the coast of eastern Virginia. This locality forms an ideal resort for sea-birds, beyond the reach of their most common enemies, and the surrounding waters furnish an abundant and unfailing food supply.
Duck Hawk. Fearless in pursuit of its prey. An adult bird is bringing a pigeon to its young. The nest is shown against a background representing the Palisades of the Hudson northward from "The Gorge" at Englewood, New Jersey. Across the river on the right is Yonkers.
August Bird Life of the Hackensack Meadows. Travelers to and from New York are familiar with the marshy land about the Hackensack River and Newark Bay, but few realize the abundant bird life found in the rushes at this season of the year. Specimens of bobolink, sora, red-winged blackbirds, swallows, rails and the rare wood duck may he seen in the group among the rose mallows, cardinal flowers, sagittaria and pickerel weed.
Wild Turkey. Distinctly an American bird which formerly ranged throughout the wooded portions of the east-ern United States from southern Maine and southwestern Ontario, southward to Florida, New Mexico, Arizona and the Mexican tablelands. The wild turkey has now become rare and is seldom found farther north than Pennsylvania and Ohio. The birds differ from the domesticated turkey chiefly in the color of the tips of the tail feathers and upper tail-coverts.
Florida Great Blue Heron. While a rather homely object on the ground, in flight, with its neck folded and great wings slowly flapping, the heron appears quite stately. Herons are often miscalled "cranes." This birds are found throughout North America, and live on frogs, fish and reptiles.
Water Turkey or Snakebird. A few miles west of St. Lucie, Florida, may be found a scene such as is here depicted. The water turkey has also been called "snake-bird," from its resemblance to a serpent when swimming near the surface, with its long, slender, snakelike neck above the water. The young of these birds, like the young of pelicans and cormorants, secure their food from the parent's throat.
Sandhill Crane. These birds are still to be found on the great Kissimmee Prairie in Florida. In March they commonly build a little island nest in the water-filled depressions with a species of pickerel weed. Their nest-building is preceded by singular antics of courtship males and females hop, skip and jump about, bowing low and leaping high, all the time croaking and calling.
Brown Pelican. The studies for this birds were made on Pelican Island in the Indian River of Florida. The birds are shown in different stages of growth and in various occupations. In the foreground may be seen several young birds feeding on the predigested fish which has been regurgitated by the parent bird.
American Egret. Probably no species of bird has suffered more from the depredation of the plume hunter than the egrets. Now that adequate laws have been framed and provisions made for their preservation, these birds may again become as numerous as in former years. The aigrettes are acquired by the birds prior to the nesting season. As the season advances they become frayed and dirty and are shed. The sketches for the background were made from trees at an average height of forty-five feet. The birds were studied and photographed from 'a moss-draped blind attached to the limb of a tree in a rookery in the swamps of North Carolina.
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