116 THE CONDOR VoL Xll We were, by this time,-thoroly interested in these strange, awkward tho rather handsome birds, and we lookt forward eagerly to their return in the spring of 1907. The first birds were noted April 26, when four birds were seen just at sun-set alighting in the willow thicket where they had nested the year before. During the rest of the spring these willows were watcht closely, but without re- sults; and finally, on June 8, a thoro examination of them was made and not a single occupied nest was found. Meanwhile, on May 11, while working over a small lake about half a mile below the marsh which harbored the nesting colony of the preceding year, we found two nests of these erratic birds, bilt just above the surface of water almost waist deep and fully fifty yards out from the shore of the lake. These nests--the bottoms of which were just level with the surface of the water--were supported by masses of floating, dead vegetation, and were anchored in place by a few upright dead cat-tail stalks. They were beautifully bilt affairs of slender twigs and weed- stalks, very large, bulky, deeply cupt and quite symmetrical; and lying far out Fig. 33. THE SAME NEST AS SI:IOV?'N IN PRECEDING PICTURE, MAY 31, 1907; Ttew YOUNG t, BOUT A W?EIC OLO from shore upon the open water .they were very conspicuous, being easily discern- ible at a distance of one hundred yards. The parent birds were very wild, and it was impossible to approach anywhere near the nests without flushing the birds. From here we went to the site of the previous year's colony in the marsh, where we examined about twenty nests, a few being empty, but the rest contain- ing from one to four eggs. Without exception these nests were much inferior in construction to those of the preceding year, the majority of them being flat, fragile structures composed of dead rushes and cat-tails, in several instances so poorly put together that the eggs had rolled out of the nests into the water below. On this visit we counted about eighty birds, a large part of which were apparently non- breeders, as they fiusht in a compact flock when we were fully one hundred yards away, and showed no particular desire to return to the nests while we remained in the vicinity. A week later we discovered three more of the "floating" nests very near the
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