Page:Audubon and His Journals.djvu/425

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
373
THE LABRADOR JOURNAL

Coolidge landed, or indeed approached the islands on which they breed, they all rose in the air, passed high overhead, screaming and scolding all the time the young men were on the land. When one is shot the rest plunge towards it, and can then be easily shot. Sometimes when wounded in the body, they sail off to extraordinary distances, and are lost. The same is the case with the Larus marinus. When our captain returned he brought about a dozen female Eider Ducks, a great number of their eggs, and a bag of down; also a fine Wild Goose, but nothing new for the pencil. In one nest of the Eider ten eggs were found; this is the most we have seen as yet in any one nest. The female draws the down from her abdomen as far towards her breast as her bill will allow her to do, but the feathers are not pulled, and on examination of several specimens I found these well and regularly planted, and cleaned from their original down, as a forest of trees is cleared of its undergrowth. In this state the female is still well clothed, and little or no difference can be seen in the plumage unless examined. These birds have now nearly all hatched in this latitude, but we are told that we shall over-reach them in that, and meet with nests and eggs as we go northeast until August. So abundant were the nests of these birds on the islands of Partridge Bay, about forty miles west of this place, that a boat load of their eggs might have been collected if they had been fresh; they are then excellent eating. Our captain called on a half-breed Indian in the employ of the Northeast Fur and Fish Co., living with his squaw and two daughters. A potato patch of about an acre was planted in sand, for not a foot of soil is there to be found hereabouts. The man told him his potatoes grew well and were good, ripening in a few weeks, which he called the summer. The mosquitoes and black gnats are bad enough on shore. I heard a Wood Pewee. The Wild Goose is an excellent diver, and when with its