Page 38 - August Birds in Cape Breton, 1893
ISSUE : Issue 49
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1988/8/1
Discover Nova Scotia's Heritage 23 museums, historic houses and mills to visit throughout the province. Nova Scotia Museum 1747 Summer Street Halifax, N.S. B3H 3A6 (902) 429-4610 iNuvd ocoiia Department of Education The Hon. Ronald C. GIffin, Q.C. Minister gentle bearing, the name "Whiskey Jack," applied to them by the lumbermen, seemed to me absurdly inappropriate. While I watched these birds, they moved slowly along the fence towards the swamp, coming nearer and nearer, and finally pass? ing within about fifty feet of me. One of them was a young bird, with but little white on his dusky brown head; two others were females, also less white than the males. Finally they vanished in the swamp, the last bird going upstairs on a dead tree in true jay fashion, and then plunging, head foremost, into the shadows of the grove beneath. As I left the larches behind me, the same strange, harsh cry echoed from its depths, and I accepted it as the moose bird's prophecy of impending rain. It is an odd fact that these birds die if they be? come chilled after being wet in a heavy rain, and on this occasion they were un? doubtedly seeking dense foliage to protect them from the storm which began a few hours later. Of the Cape Breton warblers, the black-and yellow were among the most numerous, and by all means the most brilliant in plumage. Whenever I called the birds together, the magnolias were sure to appear, their gleam? ing yellow waistcoats showing afar through the trees, and contrasting with their dark upper plumage and the cool gray of their caps. One male redstart seemed the most richly marked bird of his species that I had ever met with. The black extended much lower on the breast than usual, and the vermilion which lay next it burned like a hot coal. Summer yellow-birds were common in the meadow borders, where Maryland yel? low-throats also abounded: a single black- throated blue warbler appeared to me near Baddeck; one anxious mother Blackburnian scolded me in the dark forest near the falls of Indian Brook; and a few Canadian fly-catching warblers flashed in and out among their dark evergreen haunts in vari? ous parts of the island.... Years ago, when houses and barns were less often or less thoroughly painted than they are now, and when overhanging eaves were common, the eaves swallow was a familiar bird in New England. Now the youthful nest- robber thinks of the mud-nest builder as a rare bird, one for whose eggs he is willing to travel many a mile. In all the Cape Bre? ton country, where barn swallows abound, I saw but one colony of eaves swallows, and that was in a place so dirty and dreary I regret that these charming birds must al? ways recall it to my mind. Scotts- ville...lies at the head waters of South? west Margaree, within sight of the point where that restless river leaves Loch Ain? slie. Opposite the village store stands an unpainted building with ample eaves, and on its northern side, crowded into a space about thirty feet long, were one hundred of the retort-shaped mud-nests of the eaves
Cape Breton's Magazine