Volume 7, Plate 3

Turnstone
Ash-coloured Sandpiper
The Purre
Black bellied Plover
Red breasted Sandpiper

Turnstone

In the Bay of Delaware, below Egg Island, and in what is usually called Maurice River cove, these creatures seem to have formed one of their principal settlements. The bottom of this cove is generally soft mud, extremely well suited to their accommodation. Here they are resident, burying themselves in the mud during the winter; but, early in the month of May, they approach the shore in multitudes, to obey the great law of nature, in depositing their eggs within the influence of the sun, and are then very troublesome to the fishermen, who can scarcely draw a seine for them, they are so numerous. Being of slow motion and easily overset by the surf, their dead bodies cover the shore in heaps, and in such numbers, that for ten miles one might walk on them without touching the ground.

Ash-coloured Sandpiper

It traces the flowing and recession of the waves along the sandy beach with great nimbleness, wading and searching among the loosened particles for its favourite food, which is a small thin oval bivalve shell-fish, of a white or pearl colour, and not larger than the seed of an apple. These usually lie at a short depth below the surface; but in some places are seen at low water in heaps, like masses of wet grain, in quantities of more than a bushel together. During the latter part of summer and autumn, these minute shell-fish constitute the food of almost all those busy flocks that run with such activity along the sands, among the flowing and retreating waves. They are universally swallowed whole; but the action of the bird's stomach, assisted by the shells themselves, soon reduces them to a pulp. If we may judge from their effects, they must be extremely nutritious, for almost all those tribes that feed on them are at this season mere lumps of fat. Digging for these in the hard sand would be a work of considerable labor, whereas, when the particles are loosened by the flowing of the sea, the birds collect them with great ease and dexterity.