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The Natural History of North-Carolina.
OF THE BIRDS.
The Eagles being accounted the King of the Birds. I shall therefore begin with them. Of these there are three Sorts, viz. the Bald, the Black, and the Grey Eagle. The Bald Eagle is the largest, and is so called, because his Head to the middle of the Neck is covered with a white sort of downy Feathers, whereby it looks very bald, and the Tail is as white as Snow, the rest of the Body being of a dark brown colour. These Birds are very great breeders most part of the Year, and always build their Nests in old decay’d Cyprus, or Pine-trees near the River’s side, where they generally lay two Eggs, and sometimes three, but they seldom have four; as soon as they are hatched, and the young Eagles have down on them, with white woolly Feathers, the Hen Eagles lay again, which Eggs are hatched by the warmth of the young ones in the Nest, so that the flight of one makes room for the others that are just hatched; thus they continue breeding most part of the Year. They not only prey upon Birds, Beasts, and Fishes, but upon any thing they are able to destroy. They are very destructive to Poultry, Lambs, young Fawns, and Pigs, which they frequently carry Squalling into the Air, and so bring them with ease to their young ones. They can fly from Morning till Night, and that very high, notwithstanding they are heavy of flight, and cannot get their food by swiftness, to help which, there is a Fishing-Hawk, that catches Fish, which it suffers the Eagle to take from it, notwithstanding it is a large and swift Fowl, and can make far better way than the Eagle can, and it is very pleasant to behold the flight of these two Birds, which sometimes continues for above half an Hour, at length it lets fall the Fish which the Eagle frequently catches before it touches the Earth or Water. These Bald Eagles will likewise attend the Hunts-men, in the Winter time for several Hours together (but at a great distance) till they shoot some game, which they frequently flie away with, dead or wounded. Their Nests are made of Twigs, Sticks, and several kinds of Rubbish, and generally so large that it is enough to fill a handsome Cart's Body, and commonly so full of nasty Bones and Carcasses that it smells most offensively. It is the opinion of most People in those parts that these Eagles are not Bald till they are two or three Years old. They are the strongest Birds of prey that are yet known in these parts of America.
The Black-Eagles are much the same sort as are to be met with in Ireland, but not altogether so large as the former, yet in all other respects as mischievous, and build Nests after the same manner in old Trees naked of Boughs, and nigh the River side, from whence as I suppose, they may have a prospect of the Fishing-Hawks, for when they see the Fishing-Hawk strike a Fish, immediately they take Wing and pursue Her. The Fishing-Hawk as soon as she perceives herself pursued, will Scream and make a most terrible Noise, till at length she lets fall the Fish, to make her own escape.
The Gray Eagle, is much of the colour of our Kite or Glead, it is not quite as large as the former, but Builds and preys after the same manner, and is frequently to be met with all over this Province. All these sorts of Eagles are very sharp sighted, view their prey at great distances, and have the best smell of all living Creatures. They are very bold Thieves, and live to be very old, and die not for Age nor any Sickness, but of meer hunger, by reason that the upper Beak of their Bill is so far over grown, and turneth inward so much, that they are not able to open it, to feed themselves. They seldom seek their prey in the Forenoon, for they are found sitting Idle and perched upon Trees all the Morning. It is reported that the Quills or Feathers of Eagles laid amongst those of other Fowls, will rot and consume them, which I have not faith to believe. The Flesh, tho' scarce fit to be eaten, is medicinal against the Gout; the Bones of the Skull, in powder, are good against the Megrim; the Brain drank in Wine, helps the Jaundice, and the Gall is of excellent use in most disorders of the Eyes, and applied helps the bitings of Serpents and Scorpions, &c. The Dung opens obstructions, and applied outwardly, ripens Tumors and pestilential Buboes.
The Fishing-Hawks, are so called, from their continual catching of Fishes on which they live. They may likewise be called the Eagles Jack-all; for commonly after they have taken their prey (as I have already observ’d,) they will flie at a great height in the Air, and cry and make a noise till such time as the Eagle comes, and then they will let the Fish fall from them, which the Eagle immediately carries off. They are a large and strong Bird, being above two thirds as big as the Eagle, they build their Nests after the same manner as the Eagles do, and that generally by the sides of Rivers and Creeks, and the Eagles and these Birds are seldom or never known to sit upon any living Tree. They are of a Gray Pyed colour, and the most dexterous Fowl in Nature at catching of Fish, for they never eat any Flesh-meat. They are a quick and sharp sighted Fowl, will fly at a good height, hover above in the Air, and watch their prey, which as soon as they have discovered, they will dart themselves like an Arrow out of a Bow into the Waters, and breaking the force thereof with their Breasts, quickly catch up the Fish and flie away. But it sometimes happens that they strike their Tallons so fast in a large Fish which they are not able to carry, that the fish suddenly takes them under the Water (before they can discharge themselves) and so drowns them. This I have been Eye-witness to, and in an Hour after it happened, got both the Fish (which was a large Drum.) and the Fishing-Hawk. Their virtues and uses are much the same with the Eagles.
The Turkey-Buzzard, is a kind of small Vulture, which lives on all manner of dead Carcasses. Their Head and red Gills resemble very much those of a Turkey, from whence it has it's Name. They are near as big as an Eagle, and their Feathers are of a sooty brown Colour. They are in great plenty here, and in the Northern Provinces, and have the most offensive and nasty Smell of any Fowl I have ever met with. They are a clear and sharp sighted Bird, and their Flight is like that of our Kites; they soar at a great height in the Air, for Hours together over the Carrion, 'till such time as they find an Opportunity to prey on it. They smell at vast Distances, and will very readily find out where the Carrion or Prey is, if it be even under the Leaves, or Boughs of Trees, or slightly buried in the Earth by wild Beasts or Dogs. They are said to be utter Enemies to all manner of Snakes, killing all they meet with, for which reason the Planters seldom or never destroy them or their Eggs. They do no manner of Harm, feeding for the most part on dead Carcasses, which I suppose is the cause that they are the stinkingest of any Birds in these Parts. The Fat of this Fowl made into an Oil, is recommended against old Aches, and Sciatica Pains.
The Kites are much the same here as those with us in Ireland, but not commonly so large. These Birds most commonly frequent the Northern parts of the Country, there being but few to be met with in this Province; and in South Carolina they are seldom to be seen. It is said that they are mortal Enemies to the Snakes, for which reason the Planters seldom kill them, or destroy their Eggs. Their Flesh, though it be of gross Nourishment, yet it is eaten by the poorer sort of People in several parts of Europe. They are a very bold Bird, and a great destroyer of young Poultry, and it is remarkable when they see a young Duck, Chicken, &c. far from shelter, and lying exposed, how they will fly round it for several times, marking it, then of a sudden they dart down as swift as Lightning, and catch it up before it is aware. A Powder made of them eases the Gout, and helps the Epilepsy; the Grease is Effectual to the same Intention, and the Gall is an excellent Remedy in most Disorders of the Eyes.
The Snake-Hawk, or Herringtailed-Hawk, so called, from it's beautiful forked Tail (like a Swallow) and it's killing and feeding on Snakes, which it will do with the largest in these parts, with a great deal of dexterity and ease. It is about the bigness of a Falcon, but a much longer Bird. They are a beautiful Fowl, of a delicate Aurora Colour, the Pinions of their Wings, and ends of their Tails, are of a jet Black. They never appear abroad in this Province but in Summer, and what becomes of them in Winter is unknown. They are in the greatest Request amongst the Planters (who will not suffer them to be killed) by Reason of their destroying those pernicious Insects, so hurtful to Mankind. They are a tame and familiar Fowl, will fly near one, and take their Prey, which is both diverting and pleasing to the Europeans especially; as for the Indians they do not regard them. It is strange to see how they are brought to those places where the Snakes are, about which they will flie for Hours together, ’till they have an Opportunity of killing some of them; and it is always a certain sign of Snakes being near those places where ever you meet them thus flying. I have observed, when they take a Snake, that they always seize it in their Tallons near the Head, and flie or drag it some distance before they prey upon it, which they do by tearing it in pieces. It's Virtues and Uses are unknown to any in those Parts.
The Goss-Hawks are very plenty here, but do not appear to be as large as those from the Northern parts of Europe, yet seem to be a very bold, swift and active Bird in pursuing and taking their Prey, which is Geese, Ducks, Cranes, Hares, Rabbets, and the like. The Flesh is fat and sweet, may be used as Food and Hath much the same Virtues with that of the Kite. The Dung is exceeding hot, and being drank fasting in Wine, is said to cause Conception.
The Falcons are much the same as in Europe, but seem to be not altogether so large, yet they are a brave, brisk, and quick-sighted Birds; I have frequently seen them kill Partridges, Parakeetoes, and the like. These Hawks are most commonly to be seen in Evenings, flying to the Westward, having, as it is supposed, their abode and Nests in or near the Mountains, where we may reasonably expect to find them, and several other Species that we are intire Strangers to at present.
The Merlin, is a small Bird in Europe, but much smaller in America; yet it, as well as the other Species of Hawks, is a bold, ravenous, and quick-sighted Bird, and nimbly kills several sorts of small Fowl, and sometimes Partridges. It is a most beautiful Bird, and would be a great Rarity, if it could be caught alive, or their Young ones found, but they never breed near the Settlements, but as is supposed in the Mountains.
The Sparrow-Hawk is not as big as a Fieldfear, it sometimes flies at, and kills small Birds; but it's chiefest Food is Reptiles, such as Grass-hoppers, Butter-flies, Beetles, and such like small Insects. This Hawk is exactly the same Colour of the Sparrow-Hawk in Ireland, only it has a Blackhood by it's Eyes.
The Hobbies, are a Species of the Hawks, something less than the European Sparrow-Hawks, and much of the same size and colour with them; yet there are but few of these kinds of Hawks to be met with in these Parts of America.
The Ringtailed-Hawk, so called, from it's round Tail, is another small Species of Hawks, with very short Wings. They are frequently to be met with in several parts of the Woods: they prey chiefly on Mice, Rats, and such like Vermine, that are to be met with in the Marshes near Rivers and Creek’s side.
The Owls, whereof there are three sorts, viz. the White, the Brown, the Barn, and the small Screech-Owl.
The first is the great large Owl, which is as big as a middling Goose, and has a prodigious large Head: It is a delicate Feathered Bird, all the Feathers upon the Back and Breast being Snow-white, and tiped with a punctal of Jet-black. They are a bold and ravenous Bird, especially in the Night, at which time they make such a fearful howling, like a Man, that they have often deceived Strangers, and made them loose their way in the Woods, as I have been credibly informed by many in those Parts.
The second is of a Brown; or dark Ash Colour, and is as large as the former. These two build their Nests in hollow Trees, where they lie concealed all the Day, but at Night flie up and down the Woods, where they seek their Prey; yet they sometimes approach near the Planter's Dwelling Houses, and kill Hens, and other Poultry.
The third is the common Barn-Owl, about the bigness of a Pigeon. This Bird has a beautiful Circle or Wreath of white, soft, downy Feathers, encompassed with yellow ones, passing round the eyes, and under the Chin, so that the Eyes appear sunk in the Head. The Breast, Belly, and inside of the Wings are white, marked with a few dark Spots; being the most elegantly coloured of all Night-birds.
The fourth is the small Screech-Owl, and is the same as those in Europe. These Owls and the former, are frequently attacked by other Birds, when they find them abroad in the Day-time; and when they find themselves overpowered, it is pleasant to see how they will place themselves on their Backs, where scarce any thing is to be seen but their Beaks and Tallons, in which posture they will fight, and defend themselves. The Flesh of these Birds is eaten by the Indians and Negroes. It is accounted good in Palsies and Melancholly. The Grease and Gall is good against Spots in the Eyes, and to strengthen the Eye-sight. The whole Bird, not plucked, calcined, and taken into the Throat, opens the Imposthums of the Quinsie to a wonder, and the Brain, eaten, helps the Head-ach.
The Parakeetoes, are for the most part of a fine Green colour, only their Head, and part of their Wings, are of a beautiful Orange colour. They have thick Beaks or Bills, exactly like those of the Hawks. They are a Species of the Parrots, and generally about the bigness of a small Pigeon. In April they feed on the Birch-buds, and seldom come down amongst the Planters until the Mull-berries are ripe, which they eat, and are extreamly fond of. They are likewise very mischievous to Orchards, and peck the Apples to eat the Kernels, so that the Fruit quickly rots and perishes. They build their Nests in hollow Trees, in low swampy Grounds. They lie hidden in the Winter, when the Weather is extream hard and frosty, and never appear all that time. There are none of these Birds or Alligators to be met with to the Northward of this Province, by the best Information I could learn, during my Residence in those parts. They are often taken alive with Traps, Bird-lime, &c. and will become tame and familiar in two or three Days time; yet they are not so docile or apt to learn to speak as Parrots generally are. They are most commonly very fat in the Mullberry and Fruit time, and are excellent good Food, preferable to any Pigeon.
The Cuckow of Carolina is a Bird of the same bigness and Feather with these in Europe, and sucks the small Birds Eggs as they do, yet it is never known to cry or sing Cuckow in the Summer time like the former, neither are these Birds to be seen in the Winter, at which time they hide themselves in hollow Trees, and their Feathers come off, and they are Scabby, they usually lay but one Egg, and that in the Nest of the Hedge Sparrow; like those in Europe. Their Flesh is sweet and good Food, and eaten by many in these Parts. Their Ashes are good against the Stone and Epilepsy. The Dung given in Canary is good against the biting of a Mad Dog.
The Rail, Jackdaw, and Magpy, are not to be met with in Carolina or any of the other Neighboring Provinces as far as I cou'd be informed.
The Ravens are very scarce to be met with in these Parts, yet they are the same sort as those with us in Ireland, and other parts of Europe, they are said to live to a great Age, and lay about five or six Eggs (before they begin to Sit) which are of a Pale Greenish Blew colour, and full of Black Spots. The Flesh is unwholsom, because they feed upon dead Bodies, yet the Ashes given for two or three Days together, cures the Epilepsy and Gout. The Brain performs the same thing, the Grease, Blood and Eggs, make the Hair Black. The Eggs help the Spleen, but cause Abortion.
The Rooks are less in Carolina than in Europe. They are good Food when Young (because they never feed on Carrion) but their Skins are tough, Black and bitter. They are very great Enemies to Corn Fields, if there be not care taken to prevent them. They build their Nests after the same manner as the Rooks with us do, but differ much in their Cry or Notes, which are more like the barking of a Dog, than that of Rooks. And it is said that when Rooks build, one of the Pair always sit to watch the Nest until it be finished; otherwise if both go abroad, and leave the unfinished Nest, the other Rooks rob it, and carry the Sticks away to their own; hence perhaps the Word Rooking is used for Cheating.
The Black small-Crows, whereof there are two sorts. The first is bigger than our Black-bird, and exactly of that Colour, but different in it's Notes. These Crows are the most hurtful and pernicious Vermine (especially to Corn) in all America. They flie sometimes in such vast Flocks, that they destroy every thing before them. Their Flesh is white and excellent Food.
The second are bigger than the former, and that part of the Head next the Bill and the Pinions of their Wings, are of an Orange and most beautiful Crimson Colour; and the rest of the Body B1ack. These are as good Meat as the former, though very few trouble themselves to kill or dress them, where large Fowl are so plenty. Both these kinds continue here all the Year, are generally fat, and excellent good Meat, and I have frequently eat of them. They build their Nest in hollow Trees as the Parakeetoes do; I look on them to be a sort of Sterling, for they cry something like them, but do not sing, and are about the same bigness.
The Turkeys are here wild, in great plenty, and exceeding large; I have shot some of them which weighed forty pounds, and I have been credibly informed, that some of them weighed sixty. You shall see five hundred or more of them in a Flock together; sometimes the wild Breed with the tame, which they account makes them very hardy. I am satisfied it does, for the Indians frequently find their Nests, and bring their Eggs to the Christians, which are hatched under Hens, Ducks, tame Turkies, &c. As soon as they are out of the Shell, they will fend for themselves, and are more easily brought up than a Chicken with us. Notwithstanding they are thus hatched, and familiarly bred up, yet they still retain a wild Nature, and commonly, when they are a Year and a half old, and grown large, run wild into the Woods, and can never be brought into the House to Roost, but perch on some high Tree near it, and are always observed to seperate themselves from the tame sort, although (at the same time) they Tred and breed together. There is no manner of difference that I can see between the wild Turkeys and the tame, either in their Shape, Gobling, Call, or Notes, only the Feathers of the wild are always of a blackish shining dark Gray, that in the Sun, shine like a Duck's Neck, very specious, and they have thicker and larger Legs. They are a sharp sighted Fowl, and excelent good Food. They feed on Acorns, Huckleberries, and several other Berries and Fruits that the Country produces, which makes them exceeding fat. I have been credibly informed, that if one take these wild Turkey Eggs, just when on the point of being hatched, and dip them (for some small time) in a Bowl of Milk, or warm Water, that it will take off their wild Nature, and make them as tame and domestick as the others. But how true this may be, I know not; never having made an Experiment that way; neither can I see any Reason to believe it; yet I thought fit to insert it, that others may try. The Indians have frequently these wild Breed hatched at home, to be a Decoy to bring those that are wild near their Houses, by which means they shoot many. They are seldom to be met with but in the Morning and Evening, for at Sun-rise they go off to feed, and at Sun-set they return and perch on high Trees, and so continue all Night. At any other time of the Day you shall scarce find one, except it be when they are Breeding, or in Snowy Weather, and then they are to be seen in great Flocks together. They are a wary Fowl, and seldom shot but whilst they are perching on the Trees. They may be heard call or gobble, at a great distance (Morning and Evening, but at no other time) which brings the Huntsmen to those places where they are. They are a heavy Fowl, and cannot flie far, but will run exceeding fast, for if you should chance to break one of their Wings in Shooting, without a Dog, you seldom catch them. Their Uses in Physick are the same with the tame Turkey.
The Pheasants are something less, and differ some small matter in their Feathers from those in Ireland, but are no ways inferior in delicacy, but rather better and finer Meat. They are very plenty, but their chiefest Haunts are backwards in the Woods, and near the Mountains; for they are seldome to be found near the Inhabitants. The Pheasant is accounted better Meat than almost all other Fowl, because it is of a most delicate Taste, and yields such excellent Nourishment. They feed on Acorns, Berries, Grain, and several sorts of Seeds of Plants. Their Flesh is good in hectick Fevers, the Gall sharpens the Sight, and the Blood resists Poyson.
The Wood-cocks are not near as large in these parts of America, as those in Europe; they differ nothing in shape and Feather, only their Breasts are of a Carnation colour, and they make a Noise (when on the Wing) like the Bells about a Hawk’s Legs. They breed and continue here all the Year, and though they are not as plenty here as they are in the Northern parts of Europe, yet they are as fine and delicate Meat as any of that kind in the World. They are to be met with in most parts of this Country, but especially in the low Grounds, Springs, Swamps, and Percoarsons. Their Flesh is best in Winter being then fattest. It and all it's Parts have the Virtues of Partridges.
The Snipes are plenty in several parts of this Province, and are the only wild Bird that are not different from the same species in Europe. They frequent the same Places as those with us do, viz. Springs, Wet Ground, &c. Their Flesh is tender, sweet, and of excellent Nourishment.
The Tut-cocks, are a Species of Snipes in these parts, and are almost like the former in Size and Feather; they are plenty in several Places of this Province, and nothing inferior to the former in the delicacy of their Meat; but these, as well as most other small Birds, are little regarded or made use of at present, where large Fowl are so numerous.
The Curliew, whereof there are three sorts, and vast Numbers of each: They have all long Bills, and differ neither in Colour or shape, only in size, from those in Europe. The largest being as big as a good Hen, and the smallest as large as a small Wood-cock, and those sorts are excellent Meat, and nourish very much.
The Sea-Pie, or Gray Curliew. This Bird is about the bigness of a large Wood-cock, and has a long Bill as the other Curliews have, which is of a yellowish colour, and so are it's Legs. It frequents the Sand-banks on the Sea-side. When killed, is inferior to no Fowl I have seen or eat of; It's Flesh being tender, well relished, and nourishing.
The Will-Whillet, is a Bird so called, from it’s Cry, for it exactly repeats, or calls Will-willet, as it flies. The Bill is like a Curliews or Wood-cocks, and has much such a Body as the other, but not so tall; it is good Meat, being nourishing and well tasted. They are plenty along the Shore, and the sides of Rivers, and are much of the same Nature and Virtues with the Curliews.
The Lapwing or Green-Plover: These Fowl are very plenty in several parts of this Province, especially in the Savannas, and near the Mountains. Their Cry is pretty much like those with us, they differ little or nothing in the Feathers, but are not near so 1arge, yet not inferior to any of that Species, in the delicacy and goodness of their Meat. Their Ashes drank in Wine, is good against the Cholick, and a Cataplasm thereof, helps the biting of Mad Dogs.
The Grey, or Whistling-Plover. These Fowl are very scarce, and seldom to be met with near the Settlements, but there are great Numbers of them in the Vallies and Savannas near the Mountains, and Heads of Rivers, where they are to be met with in great Flocks. They differ little from ours, either in Feather or Size, as far as I could discern, and eat as well as any of the same sort in Europe; the Flesh is pleasant, and much better Nourishment than the Green-Plover.
The Partridges are not as large as those in Ireland, being not much bigger than our Quail. They frequently perch upon Trees, and have a kind of Whistle or Call quite different from those with us; but the same Feathers, only the Cock has a half Circle over each Eye, instead of the Horseshoe. They are a beautiful Bird, but great destroyers of Pease, Wheat, and Indian Corn, in the Plantations, where the Boys set Traps and catch vast numbers of them; I have frequently bought a Dozen of them for less than a twelve penny Bill. They are generally exceeding fat, and are a far more delicious Morsel than ours. Sed de gustibus non est disputandum. They might be easily transported from one Place to another, because they take to feeding immediately after they are caught. The Rattle-Snake frequently destroys them, however they are in great Plenty in this Province, and resort in Covies as ours do. It is a very libidinous Bird, for they will seem to couple with their own Image in a Glass: they lay ten or fifteen Eggs, and sit twice in a Year, and are said to live about fifteen or sixteen Years. The Blood helps the Eyes, wounded or Blood-shot, and the Gall is one of the most eminent things in the World for defects in the Eyes.
The Turtle-Doves are very plenty in these parts of America, and breed and remain here all the Year; they are something less than a common Pigeon, the head and back are of a duskish blue, or ash Colour; they have a more melancholly Tone or Note, than any of the other Species of Doves, that are to be heard up and down in the Woods, as you travel through them. They live eight Years, are destructive to Corn-fields and Pease, for which reason the Planters make Traps, and catch great Numbers of them. I have frequently eat of them, and they are a most delicious Morsel. Their Flesh has the same Virtues with the Pigeon, but is peculiarly good against the Bloody Flux.
The Wild Pigeons are like the Wood-quest, or Stock-dove, only they have longer Tails. They seldom or never appear amongst the Planters, or near their Settlements, but in the Winter (as Wood-cocks do with us) they come down in large Flocks, that it is surprising to behold them. After Sunrise I have seen them fly, one Flock after another, for above a quarter of an Hour together. They come at this Season of the Year in quest of a small sort of Acorn, that is called the Turky-Acorn, which groweth on the Turky-Oak, whereof I have already made mention. It is common in these Parts, and thereon these Wild-Pigeons feed in that Season, and are very fat. It is observable, that wherever they settle, or roost at Night, they frequently break large limbs of Trees, in several places in the Woods. When they come in these numerous Flocks, they generally clear all before them, scarce leaving one Acorn on the Ground. It is said they breed in the Mountains (and I am persuaded, considerably to the Northward of us, because they never appear here but in the extremity of the Winter, when it is hard Frosty or Snowy Weather) but whether they make their Nests in the Rocks, or in Trees, is not known, by any that ever I conversed with. I should rather think they made them in Trees, because of their frequent sitting and roosting on them at Night. Their Dung will lie above half a Foot thick about those Trees, which kills Shrubs, Grass, and everything that grows near where it falls. Notwithstanding these Flocks are so numerous, yet they are not to be mentioned in comparison with the great and infinite number of those Fowls that are to be met with to the Westward of those Places, where the Christians at present live (especially on this and the other side of the Mountains) many of which Species we are little acquainted with, because they seldom appear or come where we are already settled. The Flesh is very nutritive and excellent Food. The Blood helps disorders in the Eyes, the Coats of the Stomach in Powder, cures bloody Fluxes. The Dung is the hottest of all Fowls, and is wonderful attractive, yet accompanied with an Anodyne force, and helps the Headach, Megrim, pain in the Side and Stomach, Pleurisy, Cholick, Apoplexy, Lethargy, and many other Disorders.
The Moor-hen. I never saw any in this Country, yet I am credibly informed, that they are to be met with in the Mountains, and high Country, for they never appear in any part of the Settlements.
The Wood-pecker, whereof we have five sorts, if not more. The first is as big as a large Pigeon, of a dark brown Colour, with a white Cross on the Back, and a white Circle round the Eyes, and on it's Head stands a Tuft of beautiful Scarlet Feathers. Their Cry is to be heard at a great Distance, and they fly from one rotten Tree to another to get Grubs and Worms, which is what they live on.
The second sort are of an Olive colour, striped with Yellow. They are about the bigness of those in England. They feed after the same manner with the former, on Grubs and Worms.
The third sort is about the same bigness with the second, and is pied or mottled, with black and white, and it's Head is of a beautiful Vermilion colour, but hath no Topping on it; they are destructive to Corn and Fruit, especially Apples. They likewise open the Covering of the young Corn, so that the Rain gets in and rots it.
The fourth sort are finely speckled or mottled, with beautiful white and black Feathers, the finest I ever saw. The Cock has a beautiful red Head, but not near as big as the former. Their Food is Grubs and other creeping Insects, and Corn. They are not wild, for they will let one come near them, but then they hop and shift themselves on the other side of the Tree from your sight, and this they will do for a considerable time; yet it is very difficult to shoot one of them by their shifting so often from you, notwithstanding they will scarce leave the Tree. These are about the bigness of our Lark.
The fifth sort is about the bigness of a Jay. The top of the Head is of a Crimson or Vermilion Colour, spoted with Black, round each Eye is a circle of Black, and on each side is a Vermilion spot. The Throat, Breast, Belly, and Wings, are of a Pale Green, the Rump of pale Yellow, or Straw Colour. Its Tongue is of a great length, with which it strikes Ants, and other Insects. The Bills of all these sorts are so sharp, hard, and strong, that you shall hear the stroke of them sound like a Chizzel against a Tree. They are well acquainted in what Trees Worms are bred in by the Sound. They Climb Trees upright, after the manner that Cats do, and bend their head and look backwards on those that approach near them. They make Holes in Trees where they build their Nests, and it is reported that if these Holes were stopt up ever so secure with a Wedge or Pin of Wood, that they will soon take it out again, so dextrous are they to work in Wood with their Bills. The Flesh of these Birds is not good for Meat, being harsh and hard of Digestion, outwardly it helps Inflammations, and the Gall with Honey and Juice of Rue is used in disorders of the Eyes. There is a Tradition amongst them, that the Tongue of one of these Wood-Peckers dryed, will make the Teeth drop out if pricked therewith, and cure the Tooth-ach (though I believe little of it, but look on it as ridiculous) yet I thought fit to hint it, that others may try the Experiment; for sometimes such odd Stories refer to some particular Virtues, though all that is said of them be not true.
The Cat-Birds so called, from their crying or making a Noise exactly like the Young Cats, for I never could discover or hear any other Note amongst them. They have a blackish Head, and an Ash-coloured Body. They are about the bigness of our Lark, will fight a Crow, and many other Birds much larger than themselves. They are pretty good eating, but what Physical Virtues they may be endued with, are unknown.
The Mocking-Birds, so called, from their mocking all other Birds in their singing, for they have such diversity of Notes, that there is scarce a Bird in these parts, that they hear, but what they will imitate; and they certainly are one of the finest singing Birds in the World. There are two sorts of these Birds. The first has Feathers much of the Colour of our Green-Plover, with White in the Wings, like a Magpye's. This has a more melodious and soft Note than the latter, and is generally about the bigness of our Thrush. They are held to be the Choristers amongst the Birds of America, as indeed they are, for they will sing with the greatest diversity of Notes that is possible for any Bird to change. They are fond of our Dwellings, and frequently resort thither; being bold and brisk Birds, yet seem to be of an extraordinary tender Constitution; for they neither sing in the Winter, nor in the midst of Summer, and it is with great difficulty that any of them that are brought over, will live in England or Ireland. They may be bred up tame, and will sing in Cages; yet the Planters seldom take them or their Young ones (except it be to sell to those trading to Europe) notwithstanding they make their Nests, and breed most commonly in the Orchards, and other places near the Dwelling Houses, because they have their Company as much as if in Cages, for they frequently sit on their Houses in the Summer, and sing all the Evening, and most part of the Night. They feed on Mulberries, and several other Berries and Fruit, especially the Mechoacan-berry which grows plentifully in these Parts.
The second sort is called the Ground-mocking-Bird, and is of a light Cinnamon colour, about the same bigness of the former. This Bird sings excellently well, but is not so common amongst us as the other, neither does it frequent or resort our dwellings, but delights to live amongst the Myrtle Trees (being of a wilder Nature than the first) where it breeds it's young Ones; and like the former, is never known to sing in Winter. Both these sorts of Birds continue here all the Year and are in great request amongst the Planters.
The Red-birds, so called from their beautiful Red colour, whereof there are two sorts, the Cocks of both sorts are of a pure Scarlet, and the Hens of a duskish Red. I distinguish them into two sorts; for the one has a fine Tuft or Topping of Scarlet Feathers on the Head, and the other is smooth Feathered. I never saw a Tufted Cock with a smoothheaded Hen; they generally resort Cock and Hen together, and always play in or near a Thicket, where the Boys set their Traps and catch, and sell them to Persons trading to Europe. They have strong and thick Bills, and are near as big as our Black-Birds in Europe. They are very hardy, and continue here all the Year. They Whistle and Sing like a Thrush, but are more melodious. They are good for turning Cages with Bells, and if taught like the Bull-Finch, and other Birds, I do not doubt would prove very docile; ’tis pleasant to behold this Bird seeing it's own Image in a Looking-Glass, because it hath so many diverting and strange Gesticulations, either making a hissing Noise, or lowering it's Crest, setting up it's Tail, shaking it's Wings, striking at the Glass with it's Bill, with many more too tedious to Name. If they are taken at any time they will feed and become tame; yet it has been observed, that when they are shut up in Cages for some Years, they become Milk-white, and so stupid that they scarce know how to feed themselves, which is never known to happen whilst they are in the Woods and free from Confinement. They feed on Indian Corn and several sorts of Berries and Seeds, produced in this Country. These Birds and the former, eat much like our Thrushes.
The Field-fair, is much like those with us in Ireland, but are never to be seen in this Province but in Winter, they are then very fat, and excellent Food.
The Thrushes are the same in those parts of America, as with us, only they are Red under their Wings. They never appear amongst the Planters but in hard frosty Weather, and quickly leave us again; 'tis supposed they go to the Northward where they breed. They are fat in that Season, and the Flesh is of good Nourishment.
The Throstles are of the same bigness and Feather with those in Europe, but are not to be admired for their warbling Notes, as ours are, for I have seldom heard them sing. These Birds are very fat in the Winter, and are good eating. Being roasted with Myrtle-berries, they help most sorts of Fluxes. The Throstle is called in Latin, Berbiacenfis, from Berbiacum; a Village near Verona in Italy, being there first seen at the Battle between Otho and Vitelus, where the former was overcome.
The Whipoo-will, is a Bird so called, from it's frequent and exact repeating those Notes or Words. These Birds are about the bigness of a Thrush, and are hard to be seen, although they be heard never so plain, for they constantly run under Thickets and Bushes where they hide themselves, and call their Notes. They are scarce in this Province, and seldom to be met with to the Southward of it; but in Virginia and other Provinces to the Northward, they are very plenty in most of the Plantations, and are tolerable good eating.
The Jays are here very common, but more beautiful and finer Feathered than those in Europe, for these are Blue, where ours are Brown, and not above half as large, but have the same Cry, and sudden jetting Motion. They are mischievous in devouring the Fruits of the Country, and commonly spoil more than they eat. The Flesh of these Birds are much better Nourishment than any of the same sort in Europe, where they are commonly eaten by the poorer sort of People, and especially in France, but are seldom made use of in these parts of America, where large Fowl are so plenty.
The Kill-Deer, is a Bird in these parts, so called, from it's frequent repeating those Words. It is about the bigness of our Redshank, and of the same colour, and frequents the Banks and River sides, as the former. These Birds continue here all the Year, are generally fat, excellent good Meat, and easily shot; but being a small Bird, are little regarded, or made use of.
The Sand-Birds, so called from their being always on the Sand-banks, and scarce any where else. They are about the bigness of a Lark, and of a gray and brown Colour. They are generally fat, and numerous in these Parts; they are a most delicious Morsel to eat, yet few spend their Time or Amunition to kill them.
The Runners, are Birds so called, from their continual running and feeding along the Sands. They will suffer one to run after them a long time, and even to throw a Stick at them, before they will get up or fly away; so that they are often driven together in great Numbers, and shot. They are about the bigness of a small Snipe, partly of that colour, and excellent good to eat.
The Lark is heeled, and coloured as those with us are, but the Breast is of a glittering fine Lemon colour, in shape like a Half Moon. These Birds frequent the Savannas, or Natural Meads, and green Marshes, and are as large as a Field-fare, and they have a soft Note. They breed twice a year, and are said to be troubled with the Epilepsy. They nourish very much, and are excellent good Meat. The Blood drank fresh, with Vinegar, helps the Stone in the Bladder.
The Bunting-Larks, whereof there are two sorts, though the Heels of these Birds are not so long as those in Europe. The first have an Orange colour on the tops of their Wings, and are good Meat. They frequently accompany the Blackbird, and sing as the Bunting-Larks do in Europe, differing very little in their Notes, and have much the same Virtues with them.
The second Sort is something less than the former, of a lighter colour, and differ nothing in Feathers or bigness from those with the Tuft or Crest on their Heads, that are commonly to be met with in Ireland, and many other parts of Europe, and their flesh is good to eat.
The Blue-Bird, so called, from it's being all of a beautiful fine Blue-colour, except the Breast of the Cock, which is Red like the Robin Red-brest. They have an odd kind of Cry, or Whistle, very different from the former. These Birds hide themselves in the Winter, so that they are not to be seen all that Season, but are plenty in the Summer. They are but a small Bird, not so large as our Buntings, but are excellent good Meat.
The Bull-finches in these parts of America, are of the same size and bigness of those with us, but differ some small matter in their Feathers, from those in Europe; those in Carolina being more beautiful. But whether they are so docil as those with us, I cannot tell, never having seen any of them bred up in Cages. The Flesh of these are much the same with that of the Sparrow.
The Nightingals differ something in their Feathers from those in Europe, but have much the same Notes: They are as big as a Goldfinch, and always frequent low Grounds, especially amongst the Myrtle-berries, where they generally sing very prettily all Night; but in the Winter (like the Swallow) are neither to be heard or seen. They breed in May, and generally lay about four or five Eggs in a Nest, near which they seldom sing, for fear of being discovered. The Flesh is sweet and good Food, helping the Cachexia, and strengthning the Brain. The Gall mixed with Honey, helps Disorders in the Eyes.
The Sparrows differ in Feather from those in Europe, and are never known to resort or build their Nests in the Eaves of Houses, as ours do. There are several sorts of Birds called Sparrows, from their being so plenty all over this Province; one kind of these Sparrows exactly resembles the Bird we call the Corinthian Sparrow. All the Species of Sparrows are extraordinary good Meat, and the Boys catch great numbers of them in Traps, especially in Winter.
The Hedge-Sparrows are here, though there are few Hedges, but what are made of Timber. They differ little in either Plume or Bigness; yet I never heard them Whistle as those in Europe do, and especially after Rain. These and the other Sparrows are nourishing, and prevalent in the decay of Nature.
The Red-Sparrow, so called, from the great resemblance it has to a Sparrow in it's Size and Bill, and being one of the most common small Birds in these Parts. They are striped with a brown, red, and Cinamon colour, and the Tail and Wings incline to black.
The Titmouse, or Tom-tit, is the very same as with us in Europe, differing in neither shape, size, or feather. These small Birds are in plenty all over this Province. They are found for the most part about Trees, and live chiefly upon Insects which they find there.
The Snow-Birds, (I take to be same with our Hedge-Sparrow) are so called, from the vast numbers of them that come into those Parts in hard Weather, and especially when there is any Snow, but are seldom or never to be met with at any other time. For the Weather no sooner changes, than they are gone to the more Northerly parts of America, where they are most numerous. They are a small Bird, about the bigness of the Wheatear. The Boys catch great quantities of them in Traps, during their abode in these parts. They are fat, nourishing, and good eating.
The Yellow-wings are small Birds, so called, from their beautiful yellow Wings. They are of the colour of a Linnet on the Back and Breast, but in size less, with Wings yellow as Gold. They frequent high up the fresh Water Rivers and Creek Sides, where they breed. They hide themselves in the thick Bushes, and are very difficult to be seen in the Spring, but in Summer they appear and sing all the Season. What other properties they may be indued with, is uncertain.
The Weet Birds are about the bigness of a Sparrow, and of a greyish Colour, and are so called, from their Weeting or cry before Rain. These Birds frequent near the sides of Rivers and Ponds of fresh Water, where they Breed. What physical Uses they may have is not known.
The Goldfinches. There are a sort of Birds like these to be met with here, variegated with Orange and Yellow Feathers, very specious and beautiful to behold; yet I never heard them sing, as those in Europe are known to do.
The Baltimore Birds, so called from my Lord Baltimore, being Proprietor of all Mary-Land; in which Province they are very plenty. They are about the bigness of a Linnet, with yellow Wings and variety of other beautiful Colours. They appear most commonly in this Province in the Winter Season, at which time they are fat and good eating.
The East India Bats, or Muskeetoe Hawks, are so called from their killing and feeding on Muskeetoes, and because the same sort of Birds are found in the East Indies. They are as large as a Cuckow, and much of the same Colour, but have short Legs, not discernible when they flie. They appear here only in the heat of the Summer, and at the approach of cold Weather, leave us again. They are never seen in the Day time, but are scudding all Night, like our Night Raven, in pursuit of Muskeetoes, Gnats, and other Insects, on which they feed. And though it is called a Bat, I see no reason for it, because it bears no manner of Resemblance to the European Bat, the East India Bat being a Fowl with Feathers, and the other bodied like a Mouse, with Leather Wings. I never knew any use made of these Birds, for the Planters never kill them; because they destroy those pernicious Insects the Muskeetoes.
The Bats, whereof there are two sorts, which I have already given a Description of amongst the Beasts, it bearing the greatest resemblance to that Species; for though it flies, yet it hath no Affinity to Birds, not so much as a flying Serpent, and notwithstanding it be not properly a Quadruped, it hath Claws in the Wings, which answer to fore Legs. These Bats are plenty in this Province, and differ only in being larger than those in Europe.
The Swallows are very plenty in the Summer, and differ nothing from those in Europe. The flesh of these Birds is no good Nourishment, yet often eaten, is said to help Dimness of sight, the falling-sickness, and many other Disorders. The Nest outwardly applied, is of excellent use in Quinsies, redness of the Eyes, &c. These Birds feed on Flies, Worms, and many other kinds of small Insects.
The Swift, or Diveling, has a great Head and Wide Mouth, but a small Bill. The colour of the Feathers of the whole Body is black, only under the Chin, is a Spot of white or Ash-colour; the Legs are short, but thick, and the Feet small. These Birds feed as the Swallows do, and have much the same Virtues.
The Martin, or Martinet, whereof there are two sorts.
The first is exactly the same as with us in feather and size, and have the same uses and virtues; but what becomes of these and some other Birds in the Winter, whether they flie into other Countries, or sleep in hollow Trees, Rooks, or other secret Places, Natural Historians are not agreed, nor can they certainly determine. They constantly come to these parts in the beginning of March, and one or two are generally seen hovering in the Air for a Day or two before any large Flocks of them appear.
The second sort is near as large as our Black-bird, they have white Throats and Breasts, black Beaks and Wings. The Planters are very fond of preserving them, and frequently tye a number of Gourds on long standing Poles near their Dwellings, on purpose for them to breed in, because they are a warlike Bird, and beat the Crows, and many other kinds of Birds much larger than themselves from their Plantations. One morning, very early, I espied a Snake crawling up one of these Poles, with a design to destroy the Young ones or Eggs in these Gourds, and it was surprizing to see with what eagerness the Martins fought with the Snake, which still approached nearer the Gourds. Seeing the Birds in this Distracted manner endeavouring to preserve their Species, I had the Curiosity to come near the Pole, where I observed the approaches the Snake still made to procure it's Prey. I immediately got a long hollow Reed and killed the Snake (which was one of the Chicken-Snakes, whereof I have already made mention) and placed it near the Pole, which the Martins still attacked, and would not be pacified 'till it was conveyed from the Place.
The Wren is scarce, and seldom to be met with, but is the same in size, Feathers and Notes, as in Europe. This small Bird builds it’s Nest in the Moss on Trees, it lays Nine or Ten, and sometimes more Eggs at a sitting: It is wonderful strange, that a Bird with so small a Body, should cover such a Number of Eggs, or that it should feed so many Young, and not miss one of them. The Flesh is said to help the stoppage of Urine, and to have the same Virtues with the Sparrow.
The Humming Bird is the least of all Birds, yet well known in the World, and may properly be said to be the miracle of all Winged Animals, for it is Feather’d like a Bird and gets its living as the Bee does, by sucking the Honey from each Flower. They are of different Colours, but the Cocks are more beautiful than the Hens, with variety of Colours, such as Red, Green, Aurora, and several other beautiful Colours, which being exposed to the Sun Beams shines admirably. They have long Bills and Tails, considering, their bigness, which is scarce equal to a Spanish Olive. In some of the larger sort of Flowers they very often bury themselves, so that they are quite covered, to suck the bottom of them, by which means the Children commonly catch them whilst they are thus feeding; and I have seen of them nourished and kept alive in Cages for six Weeks, on Honey. They fly very nimbly (but more like Insects than Birds) from Flower to Flower, to seek their Food and make a humming noise like a Hornet or Bee, hence it took it's Name in English of Humming-bird. They remain and breed here during the heat of the Summer, but what becomes of them in the Winter is not known, for they never appear at that time, viz. from October ’till April. They are so very small that I have frequently seen the Butter-flies chace them away from the Flowers. Their Nests are a great Curiosity, and may properly be said to be one of the greatest pieces of Workmanship the whole species of winged Animals can shew, for it commonly hangs on a single Bryer most artificially Woven like a round Ball, with a small Hole to go in and out, where it lays and Hatches its Eggs, which are very White, of an Oval figure, and for the most part but two in Number which are no bigger than a Small Pea. What virtues these small Birds may be indued with, is unknown.
The Blue-Peters, or Water-Hens, are very plenty, and differ from ours neither in size or Feathers, but are seldom or never eaten (except it be by the Indians and Negroes) being very hard of Digesting and ill tasted.
The Marsh-Hen is much the same as with us in Europe in size and Feathers, but has a more different and shrill Note. Their Flesh is seldom made use of except it be by the Indians and Negroes; being Black and ill tasted.
The Bitterns, whereof there are three sorts. The first is the very same as with us in its size, Feathers, and Notes.
The second sort is of a dark brown Colour, with a Yellowish white Throat and Breast, with a large Crest or Topping of Feathers on its Head, but is not quite so large as the former.
The third sort is no bigger than a Wood-cock, of the same Colour with the first, and is accounted by many to be fine eating, yet the Flesh of the former is of the nature of the Stork and Heron, of no good nutriment. The Skin and Feathers calcin’d, stop Bleeding. The Grease eases pain of the Gout, helps Deafness, clears the sight, and is excellent bait to catch Fish with.
The Herons, of these there are three sorts. The first or common Heron is from the tip of the Bill to the end of Claws four Feet long to the end of the Tail about thirty eight Inches. It hath a black Crest on the Head four Inches high, and is in size, Colour and all other respects, exactly the same as is to be met with in Ireland.
The second is larger than the former and is Feather'd much like the Spanish-Goose.
The third is not near as large as any of the former, but is of the same shape, and of a most beautiful white Colour, with red Legs. These Birds are only to be met with in Summer, and are the finest of that kind I have ever seen, and many in these Parts would perswade me, that they become the same Colour with the common Heron, when they are a Year old, which I am not apt to believe, but look upon them as a distinct Species from any of the former. All these sorts are plenty in these part of America, and have the same slow flight as those with us. They feed on Fish, Frogs, &c., and like the Rooks, build their Nests in high Trees, and generally many together. Their Flesh is better than that of the Crane, but best when young, and eaten by many. The Bill in Powder, causeth Sleep, the Grease is Anodyne, eases Pains, and has much the same Properties with the Bitterns.
The Crane is a large bodied Fowl, weighing sometimes above ten Pounds. It's Neck and Legs are long, being five Foot high when extended. The Head is black, with a fine crimson Spot on the Crown of it, the rest of the Body is of a Cream colour; they frequent the Savannas, Marshes, and low Grounds, and though they are Water-fowl, yet it is thought that they do not feed on Fish, but only on Herbs, Grain, and several sorts of Seeds and Insects. They are easily bred up tame, and are good in Gardens to destroy Frogs, Worms, and other Vermine. The Inhabitants boil their Flesh, which is tough and hard of Digestion, but makes good Broath. Their Quills make good Pens, and the Feathers serve for other uses. The Indians eat their Eggs, which have a strong smell, are hard of Digestion, and of an unpleasant taste. The Gall is good against Palsies, Consumptions, Blindness and Deafness. The Fat or Grease helps all hardness, being of the Nature of Goose-grease. They flie with the Wind, make a great Noise, run fast, and are said to live about forty Years.
The Storkes are a larger Fowl than the former, and of the same Shape, only their Necks are thicker and shorter, and are of a dark grey Colour. They are frequently to be met with amongst the Cranes, they make a clattering Noise with their Bills, by the quick and frequent striking one Chap against the other. It is reported by several Persons whom I have conversed with, that they are to be found in no part of America but in this Province. They feed on Frogs, Snails, and many other sorts of Insects. The Flesh nourishes as that of the Herons and Bitterns, and the other Parts of this Fowl have the same Virtues with them.
The Swans, whereof there are two sorts. The first are called the Trumpeters, from a trumpeting sort of noise they make, and are the largest sort of Swans in these parts. They come here in the Winter, and remain with us ’till February, in such great Flocks, that I never saw more of any Waterfowl in all my Travels than of them, for at that Season, they are in such vast Numbers on each side of the fresh Water Rivers and Creeks, that at a distance it seems to be Land covered with Snow. About Christmas they are frequently so fat, that some of them are scarce able to fly. In Spring they go to the Northern Lakes to breed. I have several times eat of them, and do prefer them before any Goose, for the goodness and delicacy of their Meat, and especially a Cygnet, or last years Swan. These Swans are larger than any I have seen in Europe. Their Quills and Feathers are in great request amongst the Planters. As to their Flesh and Parts, they have the same Virtues with that of the Geese.
The Hoopers are a second sort of Swans, and are so called, from a hooping Noise they make. This sort are as numerous as the former, and come to these parts, and go at the same time that they do; yet the latter abide more in the Salt Water than the former, are not so large, but their Flesh and Feathers are as valuable. And it is observable, that neither these nor the other have the black piece of horny Flesh down the Head and Bill as those in Europe have. The Grease or Fat cleanses the Face from Morphew, and other Vices, and their Oil helps the Gout.
The Wild Geese, whereof there are three Sorts, but differ very little from each other, only in their Size, having black Heads and Necks. They are plenty here all the Winter, come and go with the Swans, and commonly feed with them; they eat as well as those in Europe, being nourishing, though hard of digestion, and are apt to breed Agues in cold weakly Constitutions; The Oil or Grease is exceeding hot, and of thin Parts, piercing and disolving. It cures Baldness, helps Deafness, pain and noise in the Ears, is good against Palsies, Lameness, Numbness, Cramps, pains and contractions of the Sinews, and many other Disorders. The Dung is used with success in the Jaundice, Scurvy, Dropsy, and Gout. The green Dung gathered in the Spring, and gently dried, is best.
The Grey Barnets, or Barnacles, are in shape like the Wild Geese, of an Ash and dark grey colour, something less than the common Goose, with which they agree in Nature and Virtues. They are very plenty in this Province all the Winter, at which time they are fat and eat extraordinary well; there is no difference between them and the Barnacles in Europe. Some writers assure us, that they breed unnaturally of the Leaves or Apples of certain Trees in the Islands in Scotland; others, on the contrary affirm, that they are produced from Eggs hatched after the same manner as Geese Eggs are, which we are intire Strangers to here, because they are never to be seen in these Parts of America but in the Winter time, for they generally come and go with the Swans and Geese.
The White Brants, are something larger than the former, with which they agree in Nature and Virtues, and are very plenty in the Winter Season. These Birds are as white as Snow, except the tips of their Wings, which are Black. They feed on the Roots of Sedge and Grass in the Savannas and Marshes, which they tear and root up like Hogs. The Planters frequently set Fire to these Savannas and Marshes, and as soon as the Grass is burnt off, these Fowl will come in great Flocks to eat the Roots, by which means they shoot vast Numbers of them. They are as good Meat as the other, but their Feathers are stubbed and good for nothing.
The great Grey-Gulls are as large as a Duck, and very plenty in these parts, and accounted good Food. They lay Eggs as large as a House-Hen, which are found in great Quantities in the Months of June and July, on the Islands, in the Sounds, and near the Shoar. These and the Young ones, which are call’d Squabs, are good Food, and prove relief to Travellers by Water, that have spent their Provisions. The Grease of these, and the other Gulls, is good against the Gout, and hard swellings, strengthens the Nerves, and eases Pains in several parts of the Body.
The great Pied-Gulls, are also plenty here; they are a large Fowl with black and white Feathers, and their Heads beautifully adorned with a black-hood. They lay large Eggs, which are good to eat, so are their Squabs or Young ones in the Season; they are of the same Nature and Virtues with the former.
The little Grey-Gulls are likewise numerous near the Sea Shoar. They are of a curious grey Colour, about the bigness of a grey or Whistling Plover, and good Food, being nourishing and well tasted. Their Nature and Virtues are much the same with the former.
The Old-wives, but why so called, I know not, for they are a black and white pyed Gull, with extraordinary long Wings, their Feet and Bill of a fine Golden Colour. They make a strange and dismal Noise as they flie, and are frequently dipping their Bills in the Salt-Water, and are larger than the former, but seldom eaten, only by the Indians and Negroes, their Flesh being black, hard of digestion, and tastes Fishy.
The Sea-Cock, so called from it's Crowing at break of Day, and in the Morning, exactly like a Dunghill-Cock; it is another sort of Gull, of a light grey and white Colour. They are to be met with in great Numbers near the Sea-Shoar, and are larger than the former: Their Cry being so Domestick, hath deceived many, supposing some Inhabitants to be near them; yet it is very pleasant, especially to Europeans, in those wild and uninhabited places. Their Flesh is not good, therefore seldom or never made use of, except it be by the Negroes and Indians.
The Gull, or Sea-mew (this Bird is also called Sea-cob) is the same as in Europe. This Fowl is little regarded, because the Flesh is of an ill scent, and odious to be eaten; yet it is said to help the falling sickness; and the Ashes of the whole Bird, the Gravel in the Bladder and Kidnys.
The Tropick Bird, so called, being in great plenty under the Tropicks and thereabouts, but are scarce any where else. They are a white Mew, with a forked Tail. They are a swift Fowl, and continually flying like the Swallow. What uses or virtues they may be indued with, is uncertain, because they are seldom or never taken.
The Duck and Mallard are exactly of the same size and Feather with those in Europe, they are very numerous, especially in Winter, but their Meat is not to be compared to our tame Ducks for goodness, and are accounted one of the coursest sort of Water-fowl in all this Province, so that they are little regarded and seldom made use of except by the Indians and Negroes.
The Black-Duck, so called, from it's black colour, is full as large as the former, and is good Meat. It stays here all the Summer, and breeds. They are pretty numerous, and the Planters take their Eggs, and have them hatched at their dwelling Houses, and they prove extraordinary good domestick Fowl.
The Summer-Ducks, so called, from their continuing here all that Season. They have a large Crest or Topping of Feathers on their Head, are of a beautiful pied white and black Colour, and are very plenty in these Parts. They generally build their Nests contrary to most web-footed Fowl, in the Holes that Wood peckers make in large Trees, very often sixty or seventy Foot from the Ground, where they hatch their Eggs; they are an extraordinary good Fowl, and eat well.
The Whistling Duck, so called, from it's Whistling when it flies and feeds. They are of a pretty white and black Colour, but not so large as our Wild Duck. They are to be met with in great Flocks in several places of this Country, and especially near the Mountains, and Hilly parts thereof, where 'tis thought they breed; they are good Fowl, and excellent eating.
The Whistlers, are another Species of Ducks, and are so called, from the Whistling Noise they make as they fly. They are less than our wild Ducks, and very different in their Feathers from the Whistling-Ducks, and have a greater variety of beautiful Colours than the former. They are likewise good to eat.
The Scarlet Eyed Duck, so called, from their red Eyes, and a red Circle of Flesh for their Eye-lids. They are of various beautiful Colours, and are to be met with in several Places, but especially near the Mountains, and the Heads of Rivers. They are also good Meat.
The Shell-Drakes, are the same as in Europe, in Feather and Size. They are in great plenty here, and are very good Meat.
The Bull-Necks, so called from their thick Necks. They are a Species of Ducks, but as large as Barnacles, of a whitish Colour; and have the thickest Necks of any Fowl I have ever seen, of the same bigness. They come here about Christmas in great Flocks to the Creeks and Rivers. They are good Meat, but hard to kill, being a very wary Fowl; will dive as soon as you can shoot, and endure a great deal of Shot before they are kill’d.
The Water Pheasant; but for what reason so improperly call'd, I know not, for it has no manner of Resemblance of that Bird. It is a Species of Ducks, having a Crest or Topping of pretty Feathers on it's Head, which is very Ornamental. They are about the size of our Wild Ducks, of a light brown colour, they are in great Plenty, and fine eating.
The Shovellers, are another kind of Ducks, so called, from their broad and flat Bills. They are Grey, with black Heads, and something larger than our Wild Ducks. They are plenty in several parts, and are good Meat.
The Blue-Wings, are another Species of Ducks, and are so called, from their beautiful Blue-Wings. They are less than a Wild Duck, but excellent good Meat. These are the first Fowl that appear to us in the fall of the Leaf, at which time they come in large Flocks, as is supposed from Canada, and other great Lakes that lie to the Northward of us.
The Red-heads, are another Species of Ducks, so called from their Red-heads, and are less than the Bull-necks. They are very plenty in the Rivers and Creeks, are sweet Food, and very nourishing.
The Swaddle-Bills, are another Species of Ducks, of an Ash colour, and are so called, from their extraordinary broad Bills. They are excellent good Meat, but not so plenty in these parts, as the other Species of Ducks are.
The Fishermen, so called, from their Dexterity in Fishing. They are like a Duck, only they have narrow Bills, with sets of Teeth. They feed on small Fish and Fry, which they catch as they swim. They eat Fishy, therefore not in much request amongst the Planters. The best way in ordering them is, to take out their Fat and Guts, then bury them under Ground for five or six Hours, which will make them eat well, and take away their strong and fishy taste; as I have been credibly informed by many in these Parts.
The Raft-Fowl, includes several sorts of Ducks, viz. Divers, Teals, Wigeons, and various other kinds, that go in Rafts, or great Flocks along the Shoar, which we know no Names for at present.
The Divers, whereof there are two sorts. The first are of a Grey Colour, the other Pied, White, and Black. They are both good Fowl, and eat well, but hard to shoot, because of their dexterity in diving under Water, which they will do as quick as any one can shoot.
The Wigeons are the same as in Europe, and in great plenty in the Winter Season. They eat exceedingly well.
The Teal, whereof there are two sorts. The first is exactly the same as in Europe, and as good Eating, being more delicious than either Divers or Wigeon.
The second sort frequent the fresh Waters, and are always observed to be nodding their Heads when they are in the Water. These sorts are smaller than the former, but finer and more delicious. They are both very plenty here in the Winter Season.
The Dipper, or Fisher; these are small Birds about the bigness of a Teal, and much the same as those that are to be met with in the Islands of Scilly, and many other Islands in Europe. They are of a black and white Colour, and are so called, from their dexterity in Fishing and catching small Fish, on which they feed. They eat fishy, for which reason they are not in much Request amongst the Planters.
The Black Flusterers; some call these Old Wives; they are jet black, only the Cocks have white Faces, like the Bald-Coots. They always remain in the middle of the Rivers, and feed on Drift, Grass, Carvels, or Sea Nettle. They are the fattest Fowl in these Parts, and are sometimes so heavy that they cannot rise out of the Water. They make an odd sort of a Noise when they fiy, and are something larger than a Duck; some call them the great Bald Coot. Their Flesh is not much admired, being of a strong and fishy taste, and hard of Digestion, but their Eggs (which are as large as those of Hens) are good Nourishment.
The Bald-Faces, or White-Faces, are almost as big as a Duck, and are an extraordinary Fowl and eat well. These Birds cannot Dive, and therefore are easy to be Shot.
The Water-Witch, or Ware-Coots, are a very strange Fowl, having all over them Down, and no Feathers, and neither fly nor go, but are so dexterous in Diving, that scarce any Fowler can hit or shoot them. They often get into the Fish-Wares, and are taken, because they cannot fly or get over the Rods or Poles, whereof the Fish-Wares are made. They are not much coveted or esteemed, by reason they eat fishy and are hard of Digestion.
The King's-Fisher, whereof there are two Sorts. The first is something larger than a Jay, with a long Bill, and large Crop, much of the shape and colour of the latter, though not altogether so curiously Feathered: These Birds most commonly frequent the Rivers, prey on small Fish, and build their Nests on the Shoar.
The second is much the same as with us in Europe; being a fine Bird, with red Feet, long Bill, and about the bigness of our Bunting. The Chin is white with a certain mixture of Red, and the upper part of the Belly is of the same Colour. The lower Belly under the Tail is of a deep red, so are the sides and Feathers under the Wings. The Breast is red, the utmost Borders of the Feathers being of a beautiful bleuish Green: From the Neck through the middle of the Back to the Tail is of a most lovely bright Purple or pale Blue, which by its splendour is apt to hurt the Eyes of those that look long and stedfastly upon it. These Birds, like the former, frequent the Rivers, and build their Nests on the Shoar. The Flesh roasted and eaten, is good in Convulsions and Epilepsies, the Heart is sometimes dryed and hung about the Neck of Children for the same Disorders.
The Pelican in Carolina is a large Water-Fowl, being five Feet in length, from the point of the Bill to the end of the Tail, and almost equal in bigness to a Swan. It has a long thick Neck and Beak, and a great natural Wen or Pouch under the Throat, in which it keeps it’s Prey of Fish, which it lives upon. This Pouch it will sometimes contract and draw up to the Bill, that it is scarce to be seen. It is a Web-footed Fowl, like a Goose, but shaped more like a Duck, and of a light grey Colour. The Flesh is seldom eaten, having a strong fishy taste, and hard of digestion; but being well boiled, maketh good Broth, and the Planters make handsom Tobacco-Pouches of it's Maw. They are plentifully to be met with in the Winter Season, especially near the Sounds and Sea Shoars. In Spring they go into the Woods to breed, and return again in Autumn. They have an odd kind of Note, much like the Braying of an Ass, and are reported to live to a great Age, viz. sixty Years or upwards. They are said to be white in Guinea, and St. Jerom saith, that there are two sorts of them in Egypt, viz. the Land and Water Pelican. The Gall of this Bird cleanses Silver.
The Cormorants are the same as in Europe, only those of this Province are larger. They are as numerous all over these Parts of America, as in any part of the World, especially at the run of the Herrings, which is in March and April; at which time they are seen sitting upon the Sand Banks, or Logs of Wood in the Rivers, and catch vast quantities of Fish, which is their only Food, and whereof they are very ravenous and greedy. They lay their Eggs in the beginning of the Spring, in the Islands, in the Sound, and near the Sea Shoar in the Banks, and sometimes on high Trees, as the Shags do; they are very strengthning to the Stomach, and cure the Bloody Flux. The Flesh is black, and hard of digestion, therefore seldom made use of.
The Shag is somewhat like the Cormorant, but much less; it differs in the colour of the Belly, which in this is blackish, in the other white. It swims in the Sea with its Head erect, and it's Body almost covered in the Water. It is so dextrous in diving, that when a Gun is discharged at it, as soon as it sees the Fire flash, immediately it pops under Water, so that it is a hard matter to shoot them. I have never known or heard of any Webb-footed Birds but this, and the Summer-Ducks that sit upon Trees, and build their Nests in them. The Flesh is black, ill-tasted, and hard of digestion, being much of the same Nature with the Cormorant.
The Gannet is a very large white Fowl, having one part of it's Wings black. It lives on Fish, as the Pelican and Cormorant do; it is reported, that their Fat or Grease (which is as yellow as Saffron) is the best thing known to preserve Fire Arms from Rust. The Flesh is of a bad Taste, and scarcely good for Food or Physick.
The Shear-Water, is a longer Fowl than a Duck, but has a much smaller Body. They are of a brownish Colour, and for the most part upon the Wing, like the Swallow: There are vast Quantities of them on several parts of these Sea Coasts (whilst others range the Seas all over) for they are sometimes met with five hundred Leagues from Land. I have frequently observed them to strike down upon a Sea-rack, or Weed that grows in the Gulf of Florida, which is plentifully to be met with in these Seas. It hath many winding Stalks, which appear like Coral, whereon grow short Branches, set thick with narrow Leaves, amongst which are many round Berries, without either Seeds or Grains in them. I have often taken up of this Sea-wreck (which is a kind of narrow leaf'd Sea-lentil) wherein I found several sorts of small Shellfish, which I am persuaded these Birds catch, and live upon. And it is the Opinion of many in these Parts, that these Birds never drink any Fresh Water, because they are never seen any where near the Freshes, or Rivers. Their Flesh is of an ill Scent, therefore not good to be eaten.
Thus have I finished the most exact Account that is yet known of the BIRDS that are to be met with in North Carolina; though doubtless there are many more different species of them, that we are entire Strangers to at present, which is chiefly owing to the want of Encouragement to a select number of travelling Gentlemen, whose Observations might tend to the Improvement of Natural Knowledge. For want of this, we are rendered incapable of being so well acquainted with this part of the World as the French and Spaniards are with theirs, who generally send abroad in Company with the Missionaries some of their young Gentlemen, with handsome Pensions for their support, who soon become acquainted with the Savages of America, and their Languages. These Gentlemen are likewise obliged to keep a strict Journal of all their Passages, whereby many considerable Discoveries have been made in a few Years. Such laudable Encouragements as these, would undoubtedly breed an honorable Emulation amongst the Gentlemen of our own Nation, to outdo one another even in all manner of Fatigues and Dangers, to be servicable to their King and Country. That Attempts of this Nature may always be encouraged, I sincerely wish, for the Honour and Grandure of the British Throne.
I shall in the next place proceed to give an Account of the Inhabitants of the watry Elements, which at present can be but very imperfectly treated of, for want of Fishermen, and the fishing Trade going on in these Parts to perfection. Yet I am willing to satisfie the Curious with the best Account that is in my power, and leave the rest to Time (which perfects all Things) to discover. The Fishes in the salt and fresh Waters of Carolina, are as follows.
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