Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/32

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member of the petrel family, all of which have such a disagreeable flavor that neither their flesh nor eggs are edible. It seems to me far more probable that it was allied to the auks (Alcidæ), many of which burrow in the ground and lay white, edible eggs. The northern auks also have edible flesh and often a strong hooked bill.

But no existing species breeds so far south, nor do they breed in winter. The cahow may have spent the summer in the southern hemisphere, but possibly it was an arctic bird that produced a southern brood in winter. Or it may have been a localized pelagic species, coming to the land only for breeding purposes.

The following graphic account of the bird and its habits was written by Mr, W. Strachy, one of the party of 150 persons who were wrecked with Sir George Somers in the 'Sea Venture,' July, 1609:

"A kinde of webbe-footed Fowle there is, of the bignesse of an English greene Plover, or Sea-Meawe, which all the Summer we saw not, and in the darkest nights of November and December (for in the night they onely feed) they would come forth, but not flye farre from home, and hovering in the ayre, and over the Sea, made a strange hollow and harsh howling. They call it of the cry which it maketh, a Cohow. Their colour is inclining to Russet, with white bellies, as are likewise the long feathers of their wings. Russet and White, these gather themselves together and breed in those Hands which are high, and so farre alone into the Sea, that the Wilde Hogges cannot swimme over them, and there in the ground they have their Burrowes, like Conyes in a Warren, and so brought in the loose Mould, though not so deepe; which Birds with a light bough in a darke night (as in our Lowbelling) wee caught, I have beene at the taking of three hundred in an houre, and wee might have laden our Boates. Our men found a prettie way to take them, which was by standing on the Rockes or Sands by the Sea-side, and hollowing, laughing, and making the strangest outcry that possibly they could; with the noyse whereof the Birds would come flocking to that place, and settle upon the very armes and head of him that so cryed, and still creepe neerer and neerer, answering the noyse themselves; by which our men would weigh them with their hand, and which weighed heaviest they took for the best and let the others alone, and so our men would take twentie dozen in two houres of the chiefest of them; and they were a good and well relished Fowle, fat and full as a Partridge. In January wee had great store of their Egges, which are as great as an Hennes Egge, and so fashioned and white shelled and have no difference in yolke nor white from an Hennes Egge. There are thousands of these Birds, and two or three Hands full of their Burrowes whether at any time (in two houres warning) wee could send our Cockboat, and bring home as many as would serve the whole Company: which Birds for their blindnesse (for they see weakly in the day) and for their cry and whooting, wee called the Sea Owle; they will bite cruelly with their crooked Bills."

The following description is taken from 'The Narrative' (1610), by Silvanus Jourdain, who was also one of Somers's party:

"Another Sea fowle there is that lyeth in little holes in the ground, like unto Coney holes, and are in great numbers exceedingly good meate, very fat and sweet (those we had in the winter and their eggs are white, and of that