American Game Birds

Illustrating More Than One Hundred Species In Natural Colors

By Chester A. Reed

Page 38

SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Helodromas solitarius). As the name would imply, these birds are not gregarious to any extent, rarely more than a half dozen being found together and usually individuals or pairs being met about the edges of ponds or small lakes, chiefly in wooded districts. They feed in the muddy or mossy banks, or wade in the shallow water, picking their food with graceful motions, stopping every once in a while to look about them and to teeter in a self-satisfied way. They are usually quite silent and will allow a close approach before they take wing and easily sail across to the other side of the pond. They have, even more than other species, the habit of elevating their wings, showing the handsome markings on the under sides, and then folding them carefully in place. Sometimes as they take flight they utter a very clear, mellow whistle. They average in length a little over 8 in.

     Solitary Sandpipers breed from northern United States northward and winter in South America. The present variety is found chiefly east of the Great Plains, while to the west is a very similar variety called Western Solitary Sandpiper, which is very slightly larger and which has brownish spotting on the back instead of whitish, as in the eastern form. The nesting of these birds remained undiscovered for a long time and, while even at the present date but few nests have been recorded, we know that they lay their eggs in old nests of other birds, up to twenty feet above ground. Since this is the habit of a similar European species, it is strange that the nest in this country should have remained undiscovered until 1903.


WILLET (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus semipalmatus). These large shore birds, measuring about 16 in. in length, breed on our South Atlantic coast and winter in South America, often wandering north to New England after breeding. The Western Willet, which is very similar, occurs chiefly west of the Mississippi River, but also on the Atlantic coast during migrations. They are very noisy, their loud whistles sounding like pitty-will-willet.