Date: 7/17/20 8:36 am
From: Brush Freeman <brushfreeman...>
Subject: [texbirds] Re: birding in 1882 by shotgun
One can also use S.O.R.A. (Searchable Online Research Archive) for journals
and papers going back to the 19th century. I'm not aware of accessible
private note transcripts within the collection however.. I was in there
several days ago looking for a paper on the Prehistoric Birds of Texas.


On Fri, Jul 17, 2020 at 9:35 AM Joseph Kennedy <josephkennedy36...>
wrote:

> The Biodiversity Heritage Library has quite a few field notebooks of early
> Texas birding, wildlife and exploring.
>
> https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
>
> The ones I checked are hard to read as there is lots of shorthand and you
> have to wander through to get a starting point of the location etc. You can
> search birds texas and get a great listing of data including the early
> years of the auk and other journals which go back into the 1880's. You can
> also select down to years to only get early stuff. Its interesting to see
> the results of study that reference Oberholser starting to do work etc.
>
> On Thu, Jul 16, 2020 at 10:46 AM <bertf...> wrote:
>
>> I’m always searching for old records of Texas birds and comparing birding
>> then and now. I came across this interesting story of birding by shotgun
>> in Kerr County toward the end of the 19th century.
>>
>>
>>
>> Lacey, Howard. "Notes on the Texan Jay." The Condor V, no. 6
>> (November-December 1903): 151-3.
>>
>> On buying a small ranch in Kerr county, Texas, in the summer of 1882, and
>> stocking it with a few cows and other domestic animals, I began to spend my
>> spare time in studying the habits of the wild creatures that I met, and at
>> first gave nearly all my attention to the birds of the neighborhood. Not
>> finding anyone else who took much interest in such things, I bought Coues’
>> Key to North American Birds, and with this and a shot gun I by degrees
>> learned the names of most of the birds that I saw as I rode about the
>> range. I dislike having to use the gun, so I made a point of making a rough
>> skin (a very rough one indeed at first) of everything that I shot and could
>> not identify.
>>
>> In 1893 I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of the “
>> professor” who was then living in San Antonio, with whom I have since taken
>> many pleas- ant little excursions, and between us we got to be on familiar
>> terms with most of our bird neighbors. One of the birds that I could not
>> place was our common jay, now known as the Texan jay (Aphelocoma texana).
>>
>> In December, 1894, when deer hunting on the head of the Nueces river, I
>> shot and skinned one of these birds and sent it to the professor. He sent
>> it on, I believe, to the late Captain Bendire, and it is now the type of
>> the species. In March, 1896, I heard that the jays were nesting on the
>> ranch of a friend about sixteen miles north of my place, so I rode over
>> there and on March 29th and 30th found several nests and took four or five
>> sets of eggs. These were carefully packed in an old cigar box and stowed
>> away in one of the saddle pockets, but unfortunately as I was taking a rest
>> and a lunch on my way home, the horse shook himself and of course the
>> saddle also, with the result that most of the eggs were broken.
>>
>> In 1898 the professor arranged to visit this same ranch with me, and on
>> April 4th we started in an old buckboard and had a fairly successful trip,
>> getting some good specimens of the birds and several clutches of eggs. The
>> ranch is situated at the head of one of the main branches of the Guadalupe
>> and takes in some of the divide between that river and the Llano. As in
>> other parts of the county the limestone rocks are in evidence everywhere.
>> Numerous little valleys run down toward the rivers, becoming deeper and
>> steeper as they approach the larger creek, and often forming narrow canyons
>> with high bluffs on both sides. Large trees are not numerous, but the whole
>> face of the country is covered with clumps of shin oak and scrubby live
>> oak. In these clumps we found the jays’ nests, generally placed near the
>> outside of a thicket, at from four to six feet from the ground, and often
>> conspicuous from quite a distance, as the shrubs were only beginning to put
>> out their leaves at that time. As a rule the birds were setting and one
>> nest contained young nearly ready to leave it. The nests were composed of
>> an outer basket of twigs not very firmly put together, and lined rather
>> neatly with grass, hair, and small root fibers. They were rather more bulky
>> than mockingbirds’ nests and the inner nest was saucer shaped rather than
>> cup shaped. Most of them were placed in the shin oaks, but some few were in
>> live oaks, and I have since found several in cedar bushes. The birds are
>> not so noisy as the common blue jay and are particularly silent when near
>> their nests. They have a habit of hopping upwards through a thicket from
>> twig to twig until they arrive at the top of it, when they fly off with
>> four or five harsh squeaks to the next clump of brush, into which they dive
>> headlong. It was a very warm day with the thermometer in the shade of the
>> gallery at the ranch standing well up in the nineties, and tramping about
>> through the thickets and picking our way over the rocks was by no means
>> light work, but the walk was so interesting that we did not have time to
>> think of getting tired. Of course we found much to interest us besides the
>> jays. An untidy platform of sticks in a small Spanish oak tree, proved on
>> investigation to be a road-runner’s nest, containing six eggs, which from
>> their unusually clear appearance, were probably all of them fresh. One
>> frequently finds eggs in different stages of incubation in a roadrunner’s
>> nest and sometimes eggs and young birds or young birds of different sizes.
>> Several times we disturbed deer. They were in their fresh summer suits of
>> red, having already discarded their gray winter overcoats. As is so often
>> the case when one is not hunting them, they would stop to take a second
>> look at us, offering pretty broadside shots at fifty or sixty paces. In one
>> extra dense thicket at the head of a rough little hollow we found a pair of
>> long-eared owls (Asio wilsonianus) the first we had ever seen in the
>> county; and on a rocky ridge just beyond were a couple of burrowing owls.
>> They flew a few yards and then settled on some rocks, nodding their heads
>> at us in their usual ludicrous fashion. These owls do not breed in this
>> county, but we see them every year in the spring and autumn. There are no
>> prairie dog towns on this side of the Llano river, but plenty of them just
>> across it and I have been told that the owls breed over there. Many small
>> flocks of migrating birds were seen, some of them just arriving for the
>> summer and others getting ready to leave us. Conspicuous among the latter
>> were the crown sparrows and lark buntings, the male buntings already about
>> half clothed in their striking summer plumage.
>>
>> Large trees were rather scarce on the divide and were not very large
>> there except by comparison. They were principally isolated live oaks or
>> black-jacks and most of them contained nests of the red-tailed hawk,
>> usually old and deserted, but the new ones already contained either eggs or
>> young birds. Of course all the hollow trees we saw had to be closely
>> inspected and in one old stump we found a large pole cat peacefully taking
>> his siesta. We had a good look at him but were very careful not to disturb
>> his slumbers. He belonged to the white-backed, bare-nosed species and
>> appeared to be very fat, also, fortunately for us, very sleepy. In the
>> winter the Texan jays are generally in small parties of four or five
>> individuals, family parties probably. In the winter of 1896-1897 when large
>> numbers of the common eastern blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata) visited us,
>> and it was not uncommon to see flocks of from fifty to one hundred of them,
>> our native jays did not mix with them but wandered about in their usual
>> small flocks. These flocks, however, were far more numerous than they have
>> ever been since. Probably a heavy crop of shin oak acorns in this
>> neighborhood and a failure of the mast in other places, attracted the birds
>> of both species. I have not seen the eastern jay here but once before; in
>> 1887 they were very plentiful. They remained until the middle of April on
>> both occasions, but none of them stayed here to breed.
>>
>> Bert Frenz
>>
>> Oaks & Prairies of Texas
>>
>> eBird reviewer, Central Prairie of Texas
>>
>> eBird reviewer, Belize
>>
>> NAB subregional editor, Central Oaks & Prairies of Texas
>>
>> <Bert2...>
>>
>> www.bafrenz.com
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>
>
> --
> Joseph C. Kennedy
> on Buffalo Bayou in West Houston
> <Josephkennedy36...>
>


--

Brush Freeman
<http://www.biospatialsevices.com>
Utley & Cedar Park, Texas

 
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