A Couple Cape Cod Birds; ghosts reborn

The dietary and millenary habits of those living in the United States from 1870 to 1920 killed off millions of sandpipers, herons, cranes, and water birds. They were sold to restaurants and turned into fancy hats. It was hunting with scatter-shot cannons and decoying with live geese. It had a huge impact. The extinction of the Passenger Pigeon and the dramatic decline in the American Bison (buffalo) are well documented, but many of the birds that suffered the same fate are rarely mentioned. Sandpipers were shot at migratory stopovers and duck eggs taken from nests. It was an untenable approach to wildlife. And, to a large extent, in many countries but not all, it has stopped.
Two of the birds impacted are shown below; the Tricolored Heron (or Louisiana Heron in many older books) and the Willet. One heron and one shorebird or .

The white egrets (herons) were terribly impacted by the millinery trade in the late 1800 and early 1900s. The sandpipers were food well before that period but the Industrial Revolution and its resulting increase in the human population didn’t immediately have people change their ways; they stayed on that “shoot and eat” diet into the early 1900s.

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The Willet didn’t nest in Massachusetts for a century; from 1877 to 1976. It has rebounded quite well, especially in the last twenty years. There are now several hundred pair nesting in the salt marsh edges along the coast from Maine to Florida. In Dennis, Massachusetts, at West Dennis Beach, I had about twenty birds on June 25th. That is a big deal and a rather good sign for this species.
Being a bird of the salt marshes the Willet can be seen perched on any smallish tree or shrub or on the edge of a dune to grass clump. A rather dull bird, as seen in the top image, when it spreads its wings a bold pattern of black and white appears.
Upon landing or in flight this pattern is very conspicuous. They are also a noisy bird near their nesting sites.
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A much less common bird in Massachusetts is the Tricolored Heron. It is a bird of the coast as well as the Willet but it still lingers mostly to our south. They were not killed off as fast or as thoroughly as the Snowy and Great Egrets were, but when a heronry was hunted, everything was killed and the Tricolor was decimated as well.
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When the Tricolored heron does appear in Massachusetts birders hurry to the spot as they are annual visitors but uncommon, and they don’t stay for a long time – usually. This bird in on Cape Cod and has been here for a week. It is feeding voraciously in a shallow pool and might stay until the food runs out. 
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The “mane” of feathers along the very narrow neck rises when the bird strikes at a fish. Pretty cool.

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