American Game Birds

Illustrating More Than One Hundred Species In Natural Colors

By Chester A. Reed

Page 41

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Squatarola squatarola). These handsome birds are known to sportsmen chiefly as "Beetleheads" or "Bullheads." Nearly a foot in length and heavy-bodied, these plover are among the most highly prized of shore birds, not because their flesh is of unusual merit, for it is not, but because of their imposing size and the fact that they are just wary enough to furnish good sport. They will come to decoys, but the gunner must be well concealed; and at the first shot they are off with a rush, never showing that helplessness that characterizes the curlew under similar conditions. They breed in the Arctic regions and migrate along both coasts, but are quite rare in the interior except casually about the Great Lakes. They winter from the Gulf coast southward. Their flight is powerful, but has an appearance of heaviness because they progress in straight lines with almost continuous flapping instead of twisting, as we are accustomed to see most shore birds do. They are found on mud flats rather than on ocean beaches.

     In winter both adults and young are quite similar in plumage, neither showing any strong black markings; the backs of the latter are spotted with dull yellow which often causes them to be mistaken for young of Golden Plover. The axillars, or long feathers lining the under side of the wing, are black on this species, while they are gray on the next — an infallible distinguishing mark. The present species also has a tiny hind toe, while the next has none.


GOLDEN PLOVER (Charadrius dominions dominions). This is one of the very handsomest of shore birds, adults in summer being unmistakable, while immature birds and winter adults differ from the preceding as explained above. After breeding in Arctic regions they migrate south across the Atlantic from Labrador to the pampas of South America. On the return journey they all pass through the Mississippi Valley. They feed on prairies and side hills as Upland Plover do. In consequence of the nature of their food their flesh is very palatable, much more so than that of the preceding.