Page:Audubon and His Journals.djvu/419

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367
THE LABRADOR JOURNAL

that forms here what must be called earth; the eggs are deposited on a bed of down and covered with the same material; and so warm are these nests that, although not a parent bird was seen near them, the eggs were quite warm to the touch, and the chicks in some actually hatching in the absence of the mother. Some of the nests had the eggs uncovered; six eggs was the greatest number found in a nest. The nests found on grassy islands are fashioned in the same manner, and generally placed at the foot of a large tussock of grass. Two female Ducks had about twelve young on the water, and these they protected by flapping about the water in such a way as to raise a spray, whilst the little ones dove off in various directions. Flocks of thirty to forty males were on the wing without a single female among them. The young birds procured were about one week old, of a dark mouse-color, thickly covered with a soft and warm down, and their feet appeared to be more perfect, for their age, than any other portion, because more necessary to secure their safety, and to enable them to procure food. John found many nests of the Larus marinus, of which he brought both eggs and young. The nest of this fine bird is made of mosses and grasses, raised on the solid rock, and handsomely formed within; a few feathers are in this lining. Three eggs, large, hard-shelled, with ground color of dirty yellowish, splashed and spotted with dark umber and black. The young, although small, were away from the nest a few feet, placing themselves to the lee of the nearest sheltering rock. They did not attempt to escape, but when taken uttered a cry not unlike that of a young chicken under the same circumstances. The parents were so shy and so wary that none could be shot. At the approach of the boats to the rocks where they breed, a few standing as sentinels gave the alarm, and the whole rose immediately in the air to a great elevation. On another rock, not far distant, a number of Gulls of the