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Babcock’s tests are simple enough, and they are certainly very accurate, and not very expensive.
Mr. LYNDE. Will you tell us about the expense?
Mr. EATON. On this question of milk I am not very clear. Judging from my own experience, I think that Mr. Perry's statements are correct. I have one cow in mind that gave the most milk when she was thirteen years old that she ever did in her life.
Professor WHITCIIER. Of course there is no doubt that cows do vary in the quantity of their milk.
Mr. Sadd. What breed of cows do you call the best?
Professor WHITCHER. That is another dangerous subject. I think I will not answer that question. Not that I am afraid to, at all, but, at the same time, it seems to me it would be as well not to open it.
Adjourned to 1.30.
The meeting was called to order by the chairman, Mr. HARTSHORN, at 2 o'clock.
The CHAIRMAN. The lecture this afternoon is on the “ Birds of Massachusetts," by Dr. B. H. Warren of West Chester, Penn., State ornithologist of Pennsylvania.
BIRDS OF MASSACHUSETTS.
BY DR. B. II. WARREN, ORNITHOLOGIST PENNSYLVANIA STATE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE,
WEST CHESTER, PENN.
Mr. PRESIDENT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN :- It gives me great pleasure to be able to address an intelligent body of representative farmers from all portions of this great Commonwealth. It is only within the last few years that the subject of the food of birds has been made a special study by ornithological specialists. In this particular line of investigation the division of ornithology, in charge of Dr. C. Hart Merriam, an indefatigable worker and one of the most eminent naturalists in America, has done and is doing a great and valuable work. Dr. Merriam's division, a branch of the United States department of agriculture, receives annually a small appropriation for the purpose of investigating the economic relations of birds and mammals. Several reports of great value to both farmers and naturalists have been issued by Dr. Merriam and his corps of able assistants; other reports, now in course of preparation, will be equally as interesting and valuable as the previous documents prepared and distributed through Dr. Merriam's untiring efforts.
The bird fauna of Massachusetts, according to the admirable list of Prof. J. A. Allen, * includes about three hundred and forty well-authenticated species and sub-species. This large number embraces birds which are found in the Commonwealth as residents and transitory visitants. Species which live in a particular region during all months of the year are termed by naturalists residents. The crow, redtailed hawk, and the English or European house sparrow are common and resident. The term winter resident is applied, usually, to those species which migrate northward, and rear their young, as many of them do, in the Arctic regions, but which reside here during the winter season. Many different kinds of ducks, some geese, certain loons, and various species of land birds, visit the boreal regions, where, during the fleeting Arctic summer they bring forth their young in dreary solitudes rarely visited by man. The snowy owl, snowbird, -shore lark, and tree sparrow are winter residents.
Summer residents are native birds, or those which spend the winter in the tropical, sub-tropical and warmer temperate regions, and in the spring migrate northward to their breeding grounds. The cat-bird, wren, robin, oriole, the swallows and blackbirds are familiar examples of summer residents.
Various warblers and many other land birds, as well as numerous representatives of the water birds, occur in this region only during the spring and fall months. They are designated spring and fall migrants. A straggler or accidental visitant is any bird which wanders from its usual geographical range.
• "A Revised List of the Birds of Massachusetts," by J. A. Allen, from Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., Vol. I., No. 7, July, 1886.
Water Birds. About one hundred and fifty species of water birds, of which less than thirty are reported as breeding, are found in Massachusetts. These birds, as the name would signify, frequent almost perpetually the water. Some species inhabit rivers, creeks, lakes and ponds; while others, such as the auks, puffins, guillemots and petrels, are oceanic birds, and rarely are found inland unless driven thither by severe storms. Grebes and loons live almost constantly in the water. The jaegers, gulls and terns are common along the Atlantic coast, but they are not, strictly speaking, oceanic, as many of them when migrating are found inland, and some of the gulls and terns are regular summer residents on the large lakes in the interior.
Numerous species of geese, ducks and swans (Anseres) are highly esteemed for table purposes, and largely sought after by sportsmen. Some ducks and certain geese prefer to dwell on the ocean, but others, and in fact the majority, find congenial resorts in bays, lakes and the large rivers. The herons, bitterns and egrets inhabit swamps, bogs and secluded water courses in all parts of the State. These waders are common during the winter in the South Atlantic and Gulf States, but on the approach of spring they come northward along the Atlantic coast as well as in the interior. Species breed from the Arctic countries southward.
The rails, gallinules and coots (Paludicola) seek the most secluded situations, in oftentimes almost impenetrable swamps and marshes, where they rear their young in safety from the interference of man, amid the thick reeds and sedges. Rails collect in large numbers, during the late summer and fall before migrating southward, in marshes about tide rivers, where hunters slaughter them in great numbers. The shore birds (Limicolæ), or the snipe, woodcock, phalaropes, sandpipers, plovers and turnstones, include inany well-known game birds. Some species of this group breed in Massachusetts, others have their breeding grounds far northward. These birds are more abundant about maritime districts than in the interior, but different species are found inland, in suitable localities, either as summer residents or during migrations.
Grebes, loons, auks, guillemots and puffins, or the diving birds, subsist almost exclusively on fish. Their flesh, darkcolored, tough and “ fishy,” is seldom eaten ; the feathers, however, of some of these divers, particularly the showy coverings of the grebes and loons, are largely used for millinery purposes, and also for the manufacture of muffs, etc.
The jaegers, gulls and terns are mainly piscivorous in habits. The jaegers have been truly termed marine raptores. The parasitic jaeger obtains his living, we are informed by reliable writers, chiefly by pursuing the terns and smaller gulls, and compelling them to disgorge the food they have captured. Some gulls and terns (especially the latter) prey to a limited extent on different kinds of insects, such as large beetles, grasshoppers, etc. Certain of these birds are also good scavengers, and may be seen in harbors or on the rivers feeding on almost any kind of animal matter which is floating on the water's surface. The beautiful plumage of the smaller gulls and terns unfortunately finds a ready market for the ornamentation of lovely woman's head-dress, and as a natural consequence thousands of these harmless birds are slain every year along the sea-coasts. Gulls and terns are gregarious, not only during migrations, but also when breeding. Some species assemble in large companies to rear their young. At certain breeding places along the Atlantic coast, men and boys, known as egghunters,” make a business of collecting the eggs of these birds for table purposes. The young of a few species of gulls and several of the terns are said to be equally as palatable as a snipe or woodcock.
The petrels inhabit the high seas, and subsist, it is stated, exclusively on different forms of marine animal life.
Cormorants inbabit both fresh and salt water. They are most proficient divers, and they swim with all the ease and grace of a duck. Their food consists almost entirely of fish, which they pursue and catch when swimming beneath the water's surface.
Ducks, geese and swans are by far the most important of all aquatic birds. The mergansers or fishing ducks, and certain sea ducks, subsist almost wholly on a diet of fish and other marine animal life, which renders their flesh
unpalatable. With a few exceptions, the species other than the mergansers, which frequent fresh water, feed largely on a vegetable diet, consisting of the seeds of various weeds and grasses, the tender blades of grasses, or the stems and roots of different aquatic plants. The flesh of the seed and plant-eating ducks is of course palatable. Herons, bitterns and egrets, although found along the sea-coast, are more numerous about ponds, lakes, swamps and water courses, in the interior. These birds devour fish, frogs, snakes, crayfish and lizards, also sometimes small birds and mammals, and they likewise eat different kinds of insects. Rails, coots and gallinules feed largely on different forms of insect life, and they also obtain a large part of their sustenance from the seeds and tender shoots of divers weeds and grasses which grow in abundance in their swampy and boggy resorts.
Although a few of the shore birds feed to a limited extent on seeds, grasses, and the roots and stems of other water plants, their dietary is mainly made up of numerous kinds of insect life. Most of these birds are found about the seacoasts or along the shores of rivers, lakes and ponds.
The Bartramian sandpiper, or upland plover, as it is generally called by hunters, and the golden and blackbellied plovers, feed occasionally on berries.
Land Birds. Of one hundred and ninety species of land birds attributed to this State, it is said one hundred and twenty breed here. About thirty species of the raptores, or the eagles, hawks and owls, are recorded as occurring in Massachusetts as residents, and transitory sojourners. The sparrow hawk rears his young in the hollow limbs of trees, selecting usually the deserted holes of woodpeckers; the marsh hawk nests on the ground in swampy places, but the other members of the hawk tribe generally build rude nests of sticks, twigs, bark, etc., on high trees in the forest, or deposit their eggs on rocky ledges. Most species of owls nidificate in holes in trees or in the deserted nests of crows and hawks. The short-eared owl, like the snowy owl, a native of the far north, nests on the ground.