Birds of America
By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.
THE PECTORAL SANDPIPER.
TRINGA PECTORALIS, Bonap.
PLATE CCCXXIX.--MALE AND FEMALE.
This Sandpiper is not uncommon along the shores of our Eastern States in
autumn and winter. It has also lately been found in England, and I have seen a
specimen of it in the possession Of WILLIAM YARRELL, Esq. of London, who
received it from a person who had shot it not far from the metropolis. I first
met with this species in the immediate vicinity of Dennisville, in the State of
Maine, feeding on the rocky bars of the river at low water. In the
neighbourhood of Boston it is more abundant than elsewhere. Mr. NUTTALL states,
that "they are killed in abundance on the shores of Cohasset, and other parts of
Massachusetts Bay, and are brought in numbers to the market of Boston, being
very fat and well-flavoured." "They arrive," he adds, "in flocks about the
close of August, and continue there, as well as in New Jersey, till the month of
September. In some instances solitary individuals have been killed in the
marshes of Charles river, in Cambridge, about the 22nd of July; these were in
company with flocks of small Sandpipers (T. Wilsonii), but whether pairs may
perhaps breed in the neighbouring marshes or not, we have not had the means of
ascertaining. While here, they feed on small coleoptera, larvas, and the common
green Ulva latissima, as well as some species of fucus or sea-weed, on which
they become fat. They utter a low plaintive whistle when started, very similar
to that of other species. Like the Snipe they seem fond of damp meadows and
marshes, and solitary individuals are often surprised by the sportsman in the
manner of that bird."
I have observed that the flight of the Pectoral Sandpiper resembles that of
the Knot, and is firm, rapid, and well sustained. It skims rather low over the
surface of the water or the land, and at times shoots high up into the air,
propelling itself with double rapidity and in perfect silence. It runs with
great agility, and probes the sand or wet earth, immersing its bill up to the
base. I never saw this species in any part of the interior. Its places of
resort during the breeding season, and the changes of plumage which it
undergoes, are unknown.
TRINGA PECTORALIS, Pectoral Sandpiper, Bonap. Amer. Orn., vol. iv. p. 44.
TRINGA PECTORALIS, Bonap. Syn., p. 318.
PECTORAL SANDPIPER, Tringa pectoralis, Nutt. Man., vol. ii. p. 111.
PECTORAL SANDPIPER, Tringa pectoralis, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. iii. p. 601;vol. v. p. 582.
Male, 9 1/4, 18.
From Nova Scotia to Maryland, along the coast. Rather common. Migratory.
Breeds in the north.
Adult Male in summer.
Bill rather longer than the head, slender, sub-cylindrical, straight,
flexible, compressed at the base, the point rather depressed and obtuse. Upper
mandible with the dorsal line straight, slightly decurved towards the end, the
ridge convex, towards the end a little flattened, at the point convex, the sides
sloping, the edges rather blunt and soft. Nasal groove extending to near the
tip; nostrils basal, linear, pervious. Lower mandible with the angle long and
very narrow, the dorsal line straight, the sides nearly erect, with a long
narrow groove, the tip a little broader but tapering.
Head of moderate size, oblong, compressed. Eyes rather large. Neck of
moderate length. Body rather slender. Feet of moderate length, slender; tibia
bare for a considerable length; tarsus compressed, anteriorly and posteriorly
with numerous small scutella; hind toe very small; the rest rather long,
slender, the fourth slightly longer than the second, the third longest, all
free, scutellate above, flat beneath, slightly marginate; claws rather small,
slightly arched, compressed, acute, that of third toe much larger, with the
inner edge dilated.
Plumage very soft, blended beneath, slightly distinct above. Wings long
and pointed; primaries tapering, obtuse, the first longest, the second
considerably shorter, the rest regularly graduated; outer secondaries short,
obliquely rounded, the inner elongated and tapering. Tail of twelve feathers,
rather short, nearly even, but with the middle feathers much longer and pointed,
the rest rounded.
Bill dull olive-green, dusky towards the point. Iris hazel. Feet dull
yellowish-green; claws dusky. Upper part of the head reddish-brown, the central
part of each feather brownish-black; a faint whitish line from the bill to a
little beyond the eye; lores dusky; sides of the head and anterior and lateral
parts of the neck, with a portion of the breast, light brownish-grey, marked
with dark brown lines; chin and the rest of the lower parts white. The feathers
on the upper parts are brownish-black, edged with reddish-brown, those on the
wings lighter, primary quills dusky; the outer secondaries tinged with grey, the
inner like the feathers of the back. Tail-feathers light brownish-grey,
slightly margined and tipped with white, the two central dark, like the back.
Length to end of tail 9 1/4 inches, to end of wings 9 1/4; to end of claws
10 1/2; extent of wings 18; wing from flexure 5 10/12; tail 2 7/12; bill along
the ridge 1 1/4, along the edge of lower mandible 1 2/12; bare part of tibia
(5 1/2)/12, tarsus 1 (1 1/2)/12, middle toe 7/8, its claw 3/12. Weight 6 oz.
Adult Female in summer.
The female, which is a little larger, is similar to the male.
Mouth very narrow, its width 2 1/2 twelfths. Palate with two rows of
reversed papillae. Tongue very slender, tapering, channelled above, 11 twelfths
long. OEsophagus 4 1/2 inches long, its average width 2 1/2 twelfths;
proventriculus 3 1/2 twelfths. Stomach oblique, roundish, 10 twelfths long, 9
twelfths in breadth; its lateral muscles large; epithelium dense, longitudinally
rugous. Contents of stomach remains of small crustacea, seeds, and fragments of
quartz. Intestine 11 1/2 inches long, 1 1/2 twelfths wide; coeca 1 1/4 inches
long, 1 twelfth in width, 1 inch 5 twelfths distant from the extremity; rectum 2
twelfths in width slightly dilated at the end. Trachea 3 1/4 inches long, 2
twelfths in breadth, much flattened; the rings 102, slender, unossified.
Bronchi wide, of about 12 half rings. Muscles as in the other species of this