16 November 2013

Seabirds Thrown Inland by Sweeping Storm in Georgia

The most remarkable occurrence, however during this rather peculiar turn in nature's laws, was a shower of birds Saturday night. On Sunday morning, to the great surprise of the denizens of this city and vicinity, various specimens of the sea bird were found fluttering on the ground. The writer found on his premises a bird commonly known as a didapper, but what we think should be called a palmipid. Besides other species shown us by residents of the city, Mr. A.A. Adams sent us on Thursday a couple of birds widely differing from those previously seen. They have very stout legs, and three completely webbed toes, and bear a striking resemblance to the penguins, auks and other marine diving birds inhabiting the northern part of Europe, Asia and America. This migratory bird, known as the guillemat, makes quite a palatable dish, and while wishing no one an ill wind, we trust friend Adams will soon present us with another enjoyable breakfast. These birds were probably "taken in" by a gale while on their way northward and scattered in every direction, as we learn they have been found for hundreds of miles in each direction of the compass. Mr. Adams has to say of the bird above referred to: "These two birds appear to be something between a wild duck and a didapper. They do not fly, but walk and run uprightly on their legs, with web feet, which protrude not under, but as a continuation of the body. They were caught in the open woods, near a branch and swamp, secreting themselves when pursued — not in the swamp, but in brush, under logs, etc. One was seen to dive in a stump filled with water, and remained in the bottom until caught. They were found in pairs — male and females — very pugnacious, and the males attach each other when brought near together. They are very fat and tender, tasting somewhat like a summer duck, and not fishy. Their craws are filled with grass and grit. One of my tenants caught twenty-three of the birds, and reported that he saw many more."

April 15, 1877. A sweeping storm. Memphis Daily Appeal 36(89): 2. From the Americus Republican; originally issued in the Weekly Sumter Republican.