The Birds of Nipigon 1889
I am inclined to think that Whisky Jack has been maligned, and to agree with our guide, with whom I talked about it. He said: " The Whisky Jack is not an impertinent bird; all the gentlemen that come up call him so , but they don't understand him. They camp in his woods and make a big noise and disturb him, and why should he care for them? This is his country, where he has always lived - he is at home, and why need he be shy? He does not like new-comers , and perhaps he shows it , and then they call him impertinent."
I was told before leaving Red Rock, by a gentleman who had been up the river, that I should not find more than a dozen kinds of birds, but by diligent search on the portages, a list of thirty - eight was made; and many more , I am sure, could have been found earlier in the season, when they are in song.
The bird one hears oftener than any other is the "Dah-je-ba," or white-throated sparrow, the "Rossignol" of the Eastern Provinces. A guide from the Sault Ste. Marie called him the "Onak." His wild, sweet note sounded on every portage, though it was with the greatest difficulty that I caught sight of him.
We often beheld the black-capped Chickadee talking cheerfully to himself as he flitted up and down between the boughs. I had met him last in the far-away marsh islands of Point Seakonnet, in Rhode Island, and his voice sounded like that of an old friend. The Indian name for him, "Ge - je - ge - je - ga - na - she, " when said quickly, is a much better imitation of his usual call than our chickadee. Longfellow gives the name of "Opeechee" to the robin which we found only near Red Rock, but all the North- shore Ojibwas that I asked about it called him the "Kwushqua."
The owl seemed to be the 'Ko - ko - ko -o " everywhere; the white-headed eagle, the "Me - ge - ze"; and the loon, the "Maung," or "brave-hearted." To one familiar with the quiet, dignified, gentlemanly ways of the cedar-bird, his Indian name of "O- gi- ma- bi - ni - shi" will seem a good one - "the bird that is king."
One morning I had the good fortune to see two rare birds, the Philadelphia vireo and the solitary vireo. I was sitting on a rock, resting, after a hard climb for some ferns, when I noticed these birds at some distance among the underbrush that surrounded me. I tried a device that had proved successful many times before - began whistling with a low crooning sound, sitting perfectly quiet, and allowing the insects to attack me undisturbed; and soon the birds began to circle about me , coming closer and closer, until I had a satisfactory view of them. The red-eyed and yellow-throated vireos were met with on the river, and the American red-start, black and white creeper, willow-warbler, tree and song sparrows, wood - pewee, grass-finch, and several kinds of woodpeckers.
The novice in camping is the recipient of much advice from experienced friends. Let me suggest that the would-be camper cultivate an interest in the birds. If anything can make one forget the ravages of black flies and musquitoes, the sight of a flock of pintail grouse or rare warbler will have that effect, and there are few sights more charming than a ruff-grouse seen as you peer through the dusky hemlocks, standing erect and graceful, with her bright eyes fixed on you, ready to start at the first sign of danger.
|This is a he not a she. Ruffed Grouse.|
This will be continued in Part Three.