Page 39 - August Birds in Cape Breton, 1893
ISSUE : Issue 49
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1988/8/1
swallows. They were placed one above anoth? er, frequently three deep. Their bottle- mouths were pointed upwards, downwards, to left, or right, or towards the observer, as the overcrowding of the tenements made most convenient. While some of the older nests were symmetrical, others were of strange shapes, dictated by the form of the build? ing-site left to them. Bank swallows were abundant, almost every available cutting being riddled with their holes.'Near Baddeck I found one hole in a bank overhanging the waves at Bras d'Or* at a point where every passing wagon must have made thunder in the ears of the tiny occu? pants of the nest, which was literally un? der the highway. I was attracted to this nest by seeing a bird enter it.... Of the chimney swift I saw little. He was in Cape Breton, but rr't in large numbers, and one or two faruicrs and fishermen said that he was a bird built in hollow trees, and seemed not to know that in these times the chimney is supposed to be his chosen home. Night-hawks were abundant, es? pecially in the streets of Baddeck, where, in the twilight, which no lamp-post rises to injure, these swift and silent fliers darted in and out among the heads of the passers by, to the bewilderment of those quick enough to see them. Probably, if I had visited Cape Breton in June or early July, I should have heard the whippoorwill; for when I whistled his song, the dwellers by sea or inland lake said, "Oh yes, we have that bird. He sings at night." To me, however, he said nothing, nor did the hum? ming-bird condescend to make its small self known farther north than the Basin of Mi- nas, which is a hundred miles or more from Cape Breton. Still, when I asked those who had gardens full of gayly tinted flowers if they knew the humming-bird, they always re? plied, "Yes, the one with the beautiful red throat;" which made me wonder why they nev? er saw the female ruby-throat with her more modest coloring of green and white. When I said that the junco was the distnc- tive bird of Cape Breton, I had in mind one rival claimant who certainly pervades the island with his presence. I well remember Red-eved Vireo on nest descending, just at sunset, into the exqui? site glen of Loch o' Law, the most satisfy? ing piece of inland scenery which I saw in all Cape Breton. As the road bent around the wooded border of the lake, seven large blue birds rose from one end of the lake, and flew, in a straggling flock, down to a spot remote from the road. They looked like kingfishers, but I thought I had learned from experience that, around small mountain lakes, kingfishers hunt singly in August. Nevertheless they were kingfishers, and they were hunting in a flock. A few hours before, at Middle River, where trout lie in shallow sunlit water over a yellow sandy bottom, I had seen a kingfisher hover above a point in the stream for several minutes. A rival flew down upon him and drove him away; but before my horse could walk across the iron bridge above the river he was back again, hovering, kingbird-like, over the same spot. At Baddeck, the kingfishers perched upon the telegraph wires, or as? sumed statuesque poses upon the tips of slender masts of pleasure boats at anchor. There appeared to be no point on the Bras d'Or or the fresh-water lakes and rivers of the island where kingfishers were not twen? ty or thirty times as abundant as they are in northern New England. The osprey was also common on good fishing- grounds, and scarcely a day passed without my seeing both ospreys and eagles. One af- Funeral Home (In Business Since 1908) Three Generations of Service J. Michael Curry - Mgr. 140 Main Street - Glace Bay Phone 849-7617 AMBULANCE SERVICE 849-2222 39
Cape Breton's Magazine