Page:Condor19(2).djvu/19

This page needs to be proofread.


Mar., 1917 EFFECTS UPON BIRD LIFE OF THE CORPUS CHRISTI STORM 45 its head to the ground and seemingly jump straight up in order that the wind might carry it a few feet inland. In most instances the head would drag on the ground something like an anchor, and after accepting such a boost the gull would let its body fall down flat. In case it lost its balance and was taken up by the wind and turned over, it would draw up its legs and contract its wings so that when it hit the sand it would roll over and over. In this way many of them worked their way far enough inland to avoid the terrible crash of the de- bris that was brought in by the waves after the first set had reached the shore and the water had risen to a point somewhat above high tide. As the foaming waves began to deposit the wrecks of bath houses, piers and pavilions along the beach, many water birds of various kinds' could be seen in the wreckage. Some of them were alive; though it seems impossible, several gulls and terns fluttered out of the drifts and escaped to the shore. The waves pounded the drifts with such force that if a bird did not escape as soon as it came in, there was no hope for it, since it would surely be crushed between tim- bers. The next morning great drifts of tangled masses of what had been trim- limbed cranes and pouch-mouthed pelicans could be seen. A few cripples were found: two great gray pelicans, one with his leg broken just above the knee and the other with a broken wing; three terns with broken wings, one of them having both wings broken; and five gulls with broken wings. One very large crane having one wing and one leg broken was still ready to defend himself with a spirit that deserved admiration. A man who was marooned on one of the low islands which was swept by waves, climbed the largest tree on the island, a mere bush, and as he was wait- ing, he knew not what for, he saw a crane nestling behind a large rock that protruded above the water. Although he was not an ornithologist, a feeling of sympathy was aroused, and he watched with much concern as the water be- came higher and raised the crane above the rock. "Old fellow I hope we'll both pull through," he said as he took a fresh hold with his numb hands. But the winds continued and the water kept rising. He had to draw his legs up to keep his feet out of the water. "I guess we'll go pretty soon. Well here's to you. You understand the game better than I do." The crane was on top of the rock now, but it was keeping its body as near the surface of the water as possible. A flock of gulls was driven past and their screams could be heard above the roar of the waves. The crane strained himself as if ready to try the waves. 'Then with an eager turn of the head from side to side he plunged into the water and allowed himself to drift before the storm. "Good-bye, old fellow." The next morning when a boat came to the rescue, one of the first things the man asked was, "I wonder how that old crane made outĀ !" No one witnessed the destruction of the gallinules. A large colony of these birds was completely exterminated. Their portion of the island was complete- ly swept by water, and the next afternoon many of them drifted to shore just above the city of Corpus Christi. With these birds that drifted in were sev- eral eggs floating unbroken in the salt water. Why could not a Purple Galli- nule, that graceful, trim-built, active, fish-eating bird take care of itself in a storm as well as a sea-gullĀ ? An expert diver and an excellent swimmer should be able to float. While a few live pelicans could be found after the storm, no- body reported seeing a live Purple Gallinule for several days.