Birds of America
By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.
CHARADRIUS MONTANUS, Towns.
For the following brief account of this bird, I am indebted to my learned
and obliging friend THOMAS NUTTALL.
"This remarkable species, so much allied to the Charadrius Wilsoni, was
scarcely seen by us for more than one or two days, and then on the central
table-land of the Rocky Mountains, in the plains near the last of the streams of
the Platte, pursued in our western and northern route. It being the month of
July when we saw it, there is little doubt but that it was breeding in this
subalpine region. The only individual shot, was seen skulking and running
through the wormwood bushes which so generally clothe those arid and dry wastes.
After running some time, it would remain perfectly still, as if conscious of the
difficulty of distinguishing it from the colour of the grey soil on which it
stood. All that we saw were similar to the present individual, and none,
however flushed, took to the wing. We do not recollect hearing from it the
slightest complaint or note of any kind, being intent probably on concealing its
young or eggs by a perfect silence."
The skin from which I made my drawing was that of a female; and it is my
opinion, that the male, when found, will have as distinct markings as those
exhibited by Charadrius melodus or Charadrius semipalmatus.
CHARADRIUS MONTANUS, Towns., Journ. Acad. Nat. Sc. Philadelphia, vol. vii.p. 192.
ROCKY-MOUNTAIN PLOVER, Charadrius montanus, Avid. Orn. Biog., vol. iv.p. 362.
Female, 8 1/4, wing 6 1/8.
Bill shorter than the head, straight, somewhat cylindrical. Upper mandible
with the dorsal line straight to beyond the middle, then bulging a little and
curving to the rather acute tip, which projects beyond that of the lower
mandible, the sides flat and sloping at the base, convex towards the end. Nasal
groove extended to the middle of the bill; nostrils basal, linear, open and
pervious. Lower mandible with the angle rather short, the sides at the base
sloping outwards; the dorsal line ascending and slightly convex, the edges
sharp, the tip rather acute.
Head of moderate size, oblong, the forehead rounded. Legs rather long and
slender; tibia bare half an inch above the joint; tarsus slender, compressed,
covered with angular scales, of which the anterior are much larger; toes short,
slender, with numerous scutella above, marginate, the outer connected with the
middle by a short membrane. Claws small, compressed, slightly arched, rather
Plumage soft, the feathers rather distinct on the upper parts, blended on
the lower. Wings long and pointed; primary quills tapering, the first longest
by a quarter of an inch, the rest rapidly graduated; inner secondaries tapering
and elongated, one of them nearly as long as the outer primary when the wing is
closed. Tail of moderate length, even, of twelve feathers.
Bill black. Feet light dull brownish-yellow. Forehead, a band over the
eye, fore part of neck, and all the rest of the lower surface, white; top of the
head and nape dark yellowish-brown, sides and hind part of the neck dull
ochre-yellow, which is the prevailing colour on the upper parts, the feathers
being broadly margined with it, while their central portion is greyish-brown.
Wing-coverts lighter; primary coverts and quills dusky, their shafts and margins
white, that colour becoming more extended on the inner and on some of the
secondaries, so as to form a conspicuous patch on the wing; inner secondaries
like the back. Tail yellowish-brown, tipped with yellowish-white, the two outer
broadly margined with the same.
Length to end of tail about 8 1/4 inches, to end of wings the same, to end
of claws 9 1/4; wing from flexure 6 1/8; tail 2 1/2; tarsus 1 (4 1/2)/8; middle
toe 3/4, claw 1/4.