« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
16. Gaancis P Magoun
BIRDS OF LONG ISLAND.
BY J. P. GIRAUD, JR.,
MEMBER OF THE LYCEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, NEW-YORK,
PUBLISHED BY WILEY & PUTNAM, 161 BROADWAY.
[Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1843, by J. P. GIRAUD, Jr., in the office of the Clerk of the Southern District of New York.]
The great expense attending works embellished with costly engravings, as well as the strictly scientific character of most works treating of Natural History, limits such subjects comparatively to the few. Frequent complaints of this nature have induced me to offer the present volume, with a view of placing within the reach of the "gunners," the means of becoming more thoroughly acquainted with the birds frequenting Long Island.
The additions all departments of Natural History are continually receiving, is evidence, that with however much zeal and energy the different branches have been pursued, and notwithstanding the praiseworthy exertions bestowed by those who have distinguished themselves in their various pursuits, still we find their labors are not so far complete as to leave nothing for their successors.
While the Botanist, Mineralogist, Entomologist, and Conchologist are enriching their cabinets, the Ornithologist is finding in our vast territory undescribed species. The "Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia," (1841,) contains an article giving the views of Dr. Bachman, relative to the course our Naturalists should pursue in the publication of American species viz. "that all north of the Tropic of Cancer twenty-three and a half degrees, should be called North America-the Tropics, Tropical or Central America--and south of the Tropic of Capricorn, South America." The large scope which our Zoology embraces, deters many persons from making collections, as they despair ever being able to complete them. I would therefore suggest to amateurs the propriety of commencing with a view of collecting such species as are to be found in their own district, taking the State or even
the County in which they reside; pursuing this plan, they would be enabled to obtain such species of birds as visit their section, and also have an opportunity of studying their habits, which affords greater pleasure than labelling a dried skin, received from a distance. In this way I have no doubt that many interesting facts would be acquired relative to the migration and habits of many species of which at present we know but little; and it is highly probable that new species would be discovered even in those sections supposed to be thoroughly explored, leaving the remote regions to the taste and liberality of travellers, or to some adventurous spirit like Townsend, who enriched our Ornithology by discoveries made during his journey across the Rocky Mountains, and along the shores of the Columbia River.
The occurrence on Long Island of many species that are rarely or never observed in other parts of the middle districts, will doubtless appear somewhat remarkable to those who are unacquainted with the locality; but when they examine the map, and find that this lengthy and comparatively narrow Island extends some distance into the ocean nearly at right angles with the southern portion of the coast of the United States, comprising within its boundaries numerous bays, inlets, shoals, and bars, abounding with all the varieties of food peculiar to almost every species of marine birds, it will not seem surprising that those species which are more abundant in the higher as well as the more temperate latitudes, should, in their wanderings, visit these hospitable shores.Not only is our section the resort for nearly every species of Water Bird found within the limits of the United States, but out of more than five hundred birds now ascertained to belong to North America, two hundred and eighty-six have been known to visit this far-famed Island. Indeed, no portion of our country, of the same extent, is richer in resources for the student of Natural
History, or more inviting to the sportsman, than this garden of the middle districts. Its Great South Bay, "occupying a distance of seventy miles' uninterrupted inland navigation," with its sea-washed. shores, abounding with numerous species of shell and other fish, doubtless contains treasure unknown to the Ichthyologist and Conchologist. Its variety of soil affords an excellent field to the Botanist, and its alluvial formations furnish much that is interesting to those pursuing the grand and comprehensive science of Geology. The frequent occurrence of those beautiful streams for which the Island is so justly celebrated, excites the admiration of the Angler; and the noble Buck roams proudly through its forests. Often when examining the shell banks, (the Indian's mint) found on the margins of many creeks, in search of some relic of by-gone days, have I wandered back into the past, and readily imagined that the primitive inhabitants have on this productive Island enjoyed all that is pictured in the red man's happiest dream of paradise. A few half-breeds still cling to the soil of their ancestors; but the next generation will have to refer to the pages of history to point out where dwelt the once-powerful race of Montauks, and other tribes that have dwindled away before the rapid strides of civilization.
Before describing the Birds of Long Island," I will here remark, that the difference in plumage and other characteristics, does not arise from their indiscriminately mating, as supposed by some. This cannot be; if it were, every season would produce such endless varieties, that any attempt at classification would prove abortive. On the contrary, we see year after year the same broad characters which determine the Genera, with the specific markings denoting the species; and at this late period, a new species discovered east of the Mississippi, is of rare