Image from page 303 of "Reptiles and birds : a popular account of the various orders; with a description of the habits and economy of the most interesting" (1869)
Publisher: Springfield, Mass. : W.J. Holland
Contributing Library: Smithsonian Libraries
Digitizing Sponsor: Smithsonian Libraries
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eir French name ofPaille-en-Queue. They are gifted with great length of wing,which, with their feeble feet, proclaims them formed especiallyfor flight. They are accordingly swift and untiring on the wing,heedlessly going far out to sea; forming, as Lesson remarks, a 280 DUCKS, GEESE, SWANS, AND PELICANS. well-defined and purely geographical group, their homes beingin rocky islands, to which they usually return every night.Nevertheless, he frequently met with them in sea-tracks far fromany land, possibly they having been swept, by the sudden squallsand hurricanes so frequent in equatorial seas, beyond their naturallimits. The Common Tropic Bird, Phaeton cethereus, seems to confineitself, according to this writer, to the Atlantic Ocean, stopping onthe confines of the Indian Ocean; the other species, PhaetonPkoenicurus, seeming to belong further eastward, both meetingin nearly equal numbers at the Mauritius and other islands ofthe same group. Their flight is described as calm, quiet, and
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Fig. 101.—Tropic Bird (Fhaeton athereus, Linn.). composed of frequent strokes of the wing, interrupted by suddenfalls. The bird is about the size of a Partridge, with red billand markings under the lower mandible; in general appearance itresembles the Gulls, but has longer and more powerful wings; thelegs and feet are vermilion red, the latter webbed; the tail hastwo long, narrow feathers. One of their breeding-places is theBermudas, where the high rocks which surround the island area protection from the attacks of the fowler. P. Pkoenicurus is alarger bird, being thirteen inches from the bill to the root of thetail; the long tail-feathers being red of the deepest hue. THE DAETEE. 281 The appearance of this bird announces, as we have said, thatthe navigators have entered the torrid zone, as this bird rarelygoes beyond the limits of this region. It sometimes, however,pushes out to sea to a distance of a hundred leagues. When theyare fatigued, aided by their large webbed feet, they re
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