Haematopus: The Oyster Catcher.
Weighs one pound and two ounces; the Bill long, streight and of
a bright red colour, contracted near the basis, and towards the
end compress'd: the Irides of their Eyes are yellow, encompassed
with a red Circle: the whole Head and Neck black, having a spot
of white under the Eyes; all the under part of the Body, dusky white:
the larger Quill-feathers are dusky black: the Tail is short, black
towards the End, and towards the Rump white: the upper part of the
Body and Wings, brown, except a broad white line, which runs along
the middle of each Wing; the Legs are long and thick, and of a reddish
colour. It has only three fore-toes, wanting the back-toe. Their
Feet are remarkably armed with a very rough scaly skin. In Rivers
and Creeks near the Sea there are great quantities of Oyster-banks,
which at low Water are left bare: On these Banks of Oysters do these
Birds principally, if not altogether, subsist; Nature having not
only formed their Bills suitable to the Work, but armed the Feet
and Legs for a defence against the sharp edges of the Oysters. The
Hens differ from the Cocks in not having the red circle round their
Eyes, and their Bellies are of a more dirty white than in the Cocks:
In the Maw of one was found nothing but indigested Oysters.
This Bird seems to be the Haematopus of Bellonius, Will.
p. 297. notwithstanding there is some small difference in their
description. I have seen them on the Sea Coasts both of Carolina
and the Bahama Islands.
Frutex Bahamensis foliis oblongis succulentis, fructu subrotundo
unicum nucleum continente.
This grows to the size of a small Tree; the leaves stand by pairs
on foot-stalks about an inch long; they are long, thick and succulent:
at the ends of the stalks grow in pairs, and sometimes singly, round
flat Seed-vessels, about the breadth of a shilling: the fruit is
of the substance of a Bean, and, like that, divides in the middle:
it is cover'd with a thin membrane of a pale green colour. I had
no opportunity of seeing the Blossoms, tho' I was told they were
very small and white. The Bark of this Tree is used for tanning