National Geographic : 1914 Jul
Photo by Howard H. Cleaves A "TURTLE CRAWL": RACCOON KEY, BULLS BAY, S. C . The female turtle drags herself up the beach above high-water mark after dark and digs a nest, where, according to the age and size of the turtle, from 75 to 200 eggs are deposited at a single laying. of another. In this event a new course must be devised, and if this fails a third must be resorted to. It keeps one's wits on the move and compels a close study of the habits and idiosyncrasies of the numerous birds which one meets; and this, after all, is the true end to be gained and desired. The difference of temperament in dif ferent birds and, moreover, in different individuals of the same species can best be illustrated, perhaps, by the following incidents : The first was furnished by a yellow billed cuckoo. She had her nest in a dense piece of woodland and placed near the top of a seven-foot bush, beneath a canopy of leaves, which, together with the shade of the forest, produced wretched light conditions for photography. The time was late afternoon, and be fore the old bird came back to the nest, with the corpulent caterpillar of a hawk moth for the two young cuckoos, an electrical storm had obscured the sun en tirely, and the rumblings of thunder made it apparent that camera, tripod, and all would soon have to be withdrawn or be drenched. But the young cuckoos were so far developed that they would be out of the nest by the following morning; so,. if a plate were to be secured of the old bird beside her young, it was plain that it must be exposed within the next five minutes or not at all. As this crisis was reached there oc curred a movement at the far side of the bush and in an instant the old yellow-bill was standing at the edge of the nest, her tail drooping and head turned to one side. The shutter had been set for a time ex posure and the thread leading to it was. given a cautious pull. At the opening click the old bird's head turned slightly; but from that moment until the remarkable exposure of 57 sec onds (made necessary by the light condi tions) was brought to an end by a second snap of the shutter spring, the cuckoo re mained like a statue, and the resulting photograph was fairly satisfactory. Such a course could not have been followed with a less passive and apparently stupid bird than the cuckoo.