Water Birds, Game Birds and Birds of Prey

By Chester A. Reed

Order 3


Order Tubinares



Family Procellaridę


86. Fulmarus glacialis. 19 in.

Bill short and stout, compared to that of the shearwaters, strongly hooked at the tip and with the nostrils opening out of a single tube, prominently located on the top of the bill. They have two color phases, the light one being gull-like, but the tail is gray like the mantle: eyes brown; bill and feet yellowish. In the dark phase they are uniformly gray above and below. These plumages appear to be independent of sex or age. They are extremely abundant at some of their breeding grounds in the far north. The birds are constant companions of the whalers, and feed largely upon blubber that is thrown overboard.

Nest. Their single white eggs are laid upon bare ledges of sea cliffs. (2.90x2.00).

Range. Breeds in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans from Labrador and northern Scotland northward; winters south regularly.


88. Puffinus borealis. 21 in.

This rare bird is found off the coast of New England and in Long Island Sound from July to September. It is slightly larger than the similar Greater Shearwater, the back and head are lighter in color, the entire underparts are white, and the bill is yellowish. Its nesting habits and eggs are unknown, but they are supposed to breed in the Antarctic regions.

The majority of specimens that have been taken have been found off Chatham, Mass.



92. Puffinus Iherminieri. 12 in.

This small shearwater, except in point of size, is quite similar to the following, but the under parts are white, except the under tail coverts which are sooty; the back and head are somewhat lighter too. They nest in abundance on some of the Bahaman and West Indian Islands, and can usually be met with off the South Atlantic coast in summer.

Their eggs, which are pure white (2.00x1.35), are deposited at the end of burrows dug by the birds.


89. Puffinus gravis. 20 in.  

Entire upper parts, top and feet, grayish or brownish-black; sides of head, bill and middle of belly and

under tail coverts dusky. This species is the most abundant of the shearwaters found off our coast. They are constant attendants of the fishermen when they are at work, and at other times are usually to be seen flying low over the water, or resting in large bodies upon its surface. Their flight is peculiar and distinctive, three flaps of the wings then a short sail, repeated over and over. Possibly this habit is acquired by their swooping down into the troughs of waves, then flapping to clear the next crest. They are very greedy and continually quarreling among themselves in order to get the lion's share of the food. They are called " Haglets " by the fishermen.

Notes. Harsh, discordant squawks when feeding.

Nest. While the habits of these birds are well known their breeding places are yet a mystery.

Range. Whole North Atlantic coast in summer.


94. Puffinus griseus. 17 in.

Sooty grayish-black all over except the under wing coverts, which are whitish; eye brown, bill and feet black. A few of these may usually be seen with flocks of the Greater Shearwaters, and sometimes a flock composed entirely of this variety will be encountered. They are expert swimmers on the surface of the water, but I have never seen one dive. Their food is almost if not wholly composd of oily refuse . gathered from the surface of the water. In order to take flight, they paddle along the water a few steps; it is difficult for them to rise, except against the wind. If you sail upon them from the windward, they go squawking and pattering over the water in all directions, and can frequently be caught in nets. They are very tame, and will sometimes take food offered them, from the hand.

Notes. Guttural squawks like those of the large species.

Range. North Atlantic coast in summer.


104. Thalassidroma pelagica. 5.5 in.

Smallest of our petrels, and darker than either the Leach or Wilson; tail square; upper tail coverts white, tipped with black.

This species is rare on the coasts of this country, but is common on the shores of the old world. It is the original " Mother Gary's Chicken." They nest abundantly on the shores of Europe and the British Isles.

Their single white eggs, deposited at the end of burrows, are dull white with a faint wreath of brown dots.



109. Oceanites oceanicus. 7 in.

Tail square at end; coverts white, not tipped with I black; legs long, with yellow webs. This species is very I abundant on our Atlantic coast from July to Sept., spending the summer here after having nested in the Kerguelen Is. in February. Their upper parts are much more darker than those of Leach Petrel.

Their note is a weak twittering " keet-keet."


106. Oceanodroma leucorhoa. 8 in.

Tail forked; tail coverts white, not tipped with black; legs much shorter than those of Wilson Petrel, which is the only other common species on our eastern coasts. Leach Petrel is a very abundant breeding bird on Maine islands and northward. Some of the soft peaty banks of islands are honeycombed with entrances to their burrows, which extend back, near the surface of the ground, for two or three feet, and terminate in an enlarged chamber. Here one of the birds is always found during the period of incubation, and sometimes both birds, but one is usually at sea feeding during the daytime, returning at night to relieve its mate. All petrels and their eggs have a peculiar, characteristic and oppressive odor.

Notes. A weak clucking.

Nest. Single egg at end of burrow; white with a very faint ring of brown dots around the large end.

Range. Breeds northward from Maine: winters to Virginia.