Birds of America
By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.
LOBIPES HYPERBOREUS, Lath.
PLATE CCCXL.--MALE, FEMALE, AND YOUNG.
Few individuals of this species are ever seen to the south of New York.
Near Boston I procured several, and my learned friend THOMAS NUTTALL presented
me with some that had been shot in the neighbourhood of that city, as did Mr.
JOHN BETHUNE and Mr. RODMAN of New Bedford. As we advanced eastward in the
month of May, we saw more and more of them, and while at Eastport in Maine my
son JOHN shot several out of flocks of sixty or more. At one time a flock
consisting of more than a hundred was seen in the Bay of Fundy. They were
exceedingly shy, and the gunners of Eastport, who knew them under the name of
Sea Geese, spoke of them as very curious birds.
They procure their food principally upon the water, on which they alight
like Ducks, float as light as Gulls, and move about in search of food with much
nimbleness. The sight of a bank of floating sea-weeds or garbage of any kind
induces them at once to alight upon it, when they walk about as unconcernedly as
if on land. Their notes, which resemble the syllables tweet, tweet, tweet, are
sharp and clear, and in their flight they resemble our common American Snipe.
At the approach of an enemy, they immediately close their ranks, until they
almost touch each other, when great havoc is made among them; but if not
immediately shot at, they rise all at once and fly swiftly off, emitting their
shrill cries, and remove to a great distance. These Phalaropes congregate in
this manner for the purpose of moving northwards to their breeding-grounds,
although some remain and breed as far south as Mount Desert Island. I have met
with them in equally large flocks at a distance of more than a hundred miles
from the shores.
They were feeding on great beds of floating seaweeds, and in several
instances some Red Phalaropes were seen in their company.
Whilst in Labrador, I observed that the Hyperborean Phalarope occurred only
in small parties of a few pairs, and that instead of keeping at sea or on the
salt-water bays, they were always in the immediate vicinity of small fresh-water
lakes or ponds, near which they bred. The nest was a hollow scooped out among
the herbage, and covered with a few bits of dried grass and moss. The eggs are
always four; they measure at an average an inch and three-sixteenths in length,
seven-eighths in their greatest diameter, are rather pointed at the smaller end,
and are more uniform in their size and markings than those of most water-birds.
The ground colour is deep dull buff, and is irregularly marked with large and
small blotches of dark reddish-brown, which are larger and more abundant on the
crown. The birds shewed great anxiety for the safety of their eggs, limping
before us, or running with extended wings, and emitting a feeble melancholy
note, as if about to expire. When we approached them, they resumed all their
natural alacrity, piped in their usual manner, flew off and alighted on the
water. Captain EMERY and myself followed some nearly an hour, assisted by a
pointer dog, in the hope of tiring them out; but they seemed to laugh at our
efforts, and when Dash was quite close to them, they would suddenly fly off in
another direction, and with great swiftness, always leading us farther from
their nests. The young leave the nest shortly after they are hatched, and run
after their parents over the moss, and along the edges of the small ponds; but I
saw none on the water that were not fully fledged. Both young and old had
departed by the beginning of August.
The Hyperborean Phalarope seems to undergo an almost continual moult, and
is in full plumage only about six weeks each year. The young when fledged are
nearly grey above, and all white beneath. Some of them breed before they have
acquired what may be considered the perfect plumage; and the very old birds
become greyish also at the approach of winter, the red of the throat and other
parts becoming bright again in the beginning of May, or sometimes in April. The
scapulars of the young are conspicuously shorter than the longest primaries, but
after the first moult are equal in length. The upper wing-coverts are then also
I have never met with this species in any part of the interior, although I
have procured the Red Phalarope and Wilson's Phalarope in many parts to the west
of the Alleghany Mountains, at a distance of more than a thousand miles from the
PHALAROPUS HYPERBOREUS, Bonap. Syn., p. 342.
HYPERBOREAN PHALAROPE, Nutt. Man., vol. ii. p. 239.
HYPERBOREAN PHALAROPE, Phalaropus hyperboreus, Aud. Orn. Biog.,
vol. iii.p. 118; vol. V. p. 595.
Male, 6, 13 1/2; wing 5 3/4.
Rarely seen south of New York. Plentiful at some periods from
Massachusetts to Maine. Abundant in the Bay of Fundy during spring and autumn.
Breeds in Labrador and along all the Arctic coast. Migratory.
Adult Male in summer.
Bill long, very slender, flexible, nearly cylindrical, but towards the
point tapering. Upper mandible with the dorsal line straight, excepting at the
end, where it is a little curved, the ridge broad and depressed, the sides
slightly sloping, the edges rounded, and inflected towards the narrow, slightly
curved, acute tip. Nasal groove long, linear; nostrils basal, linear, pervious.
Lower mandible with the angle very long and narrow, the sides convex, the tip
Head small, with the fore part high and rounded. Eyes small. Neck rather
long and slender. Body slender. Wings long. Feet of moderate length, slender;
tibia bare a considerable way above the joint; tarsus much compressed, narrowed
before, very thin behind, covered anteriorly with numerous scutella; toes
slender; first extremely small, free, with a slight membrane beneath; second
slightly shorter than fourth, third considerably longer; toes all scutellate
above, margined on both sides with lobed and pectinated membranes, which are
united at the base, so as to render the foot half webbed; the outer web much
longer than the inner. Claws very small, compressed, arched, that of the middle
toe with a recurved sharp edge.
Plumage soft and blended. Feathers of the back, and especially the
scapulars, elongated. Wings long and pointed; primary quills tapering, but
rounded, the first longest, the second scarcely shorter, the rest rapidly
graduated; secondary quills rather short and narrow, the inner tapering and
elongated so as nearly to equal the longest primaries when the wing is closed.
Tail rather short, much rounded, of twelve feathers.
Bill black. Iris dark brown. Feet bluish-grey; claws black. The general
colour of the upper parts is greyish-black, the head lighter and more tinged
with grey, the scapulars and some of the feathers of the back edged with
yellowish-red, of which colour also are the sides of the head and neck; throat
and sides of the upper part of the neck white. Wing-coverts and quills
brownish-black, tinged with grey, the shafts of the quills, the margins and tips
of the secondaries, and a broad bar on the tips of the secondary coverts, white.
Tail light grey, the feathers margined with white, the two middle ones dark
brownish-grey, the lateral upper tail-coverts white, barred with dusky. The
breast and abdomen white.
Length to end of tail 6 inches, to end of claws 6 1/4, to end of wing
5 3/4; extent of wings 13 1/2; wing from flexure 4 1/2; tail 2 1/4; bill along
the back 11/12, along the edge of lower mandible 11/12; tarsus 10/12, middle toe
10/12, its claw 2/12.
The female is similar to the male, but the red markings are not so deep in
Young fully fledged.
The young bird has the markings similarly disposed, but the upper parts are
in general of a dull dark grey, the red of the neck much fainter, and that of
the scapulars much paler, and inclining to greyish-yellow.
The mouth is extremely narrow, its breadth being only 2 1/2 twelfths; the
palate straight, with two longitudinal ridges, and three anterior series of
papillae; the upper mandible concave, with a median prominent line, the lower
more deeply concave; the posterior aperture of the nares linear. The tongue
10 1/2 twelfths long, emarginate and papillate at the base, immediately after
contracted, extremely slender, as high as broad, grooved above, tapering to a
point, and horny on the greater part of its extent. OEsophagus,
Fig. 1 [a b c], 3 1/2
inches long, its width 2 twelfths; proventriculus, [b c], 4 twelfths in breadth.
Liver very large, the right lobe 1 1/2 inches long, the left 10 twelfths.
Stomach, [c d e], roundish, oblique, of moderate size, 8 twelfths long, 7
twelfths broad; the lateral muscles large and distinct, the lower prominent and
thick; the epithelium of moderate thickness, dense, with numerous longitudinal
rugae. Contents of stomach small crustacea. Intestine, [e f g h i j], of
moderate length and width, the former 11 1/4 inches, the latter 3 twelfths,
diminishing to 1 1/2 twelfths; coeca, [i i], 10 twelfths, 1/4 twelfth in width
for 1 1/4 inches, afterwards 1 twelfth, their distance from the extremity 1 1/4
inches; cloaca, [j], ovate, 5 twelfths in width. Trachea 2 inches 7 twelfths
long, much flattened, 1 1/2 twelfths in width; the rings 90, cartilaginous.
Bronchi wide, of about 15 half rings. Lateral muscles rather strong; a single
pair of inferior laryngeal. Female.