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image for Audubon paints the Noddy Tern in the Florida Keys and Key West

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AUDUBON


INDIAN KEY
1832


CORMORANT


ROSEATE
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GRAY
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HEADED
QUAIL DOVE


FRIGATE BIRD


BROWN
PELICAN


MANGROVE
CUCKOO


TORTUGAS


SOOTY
TERN


BLACK
HEADED GULL


BROWN
NODDY


CAYENNE
TERN


BROWN
BOOBY


SANDWICH
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John Audubon paints the Noddy Tern in the Dry Tortugas

 

map of Florida Keys and Key West

 

May 11, 1832 - Noddy Tern (Brown Noddy) painted on an islet Audubon named Noddy Key in the Dry Tortugas.

Noddy Key is thought to be present day Bush Key


Noddy Tern (Brown Noddy)

 Audubon painting of Noddy Tern from Birds of America
Above image from Historical Museum of Southern Florida - Audubon images at the Historical Museum website were produced from prints of an original Elephant Folio belonging to the museum. http://www.historical-museum.org/collect/audubon/audubon.htm) See Audubon House  
 

Audubon painted the Noddy tern while visiting the Tortugas. The background painting by Havell seen in this scene is uncharacteristic of the landscape of the Tortugas or the Keys.

Portions of Audubon's description from the Ornithological Biography, Volume III, pages 516-518 appear below:

   "At the beginning of May, the Noddies collect from all parts of the Gulf of Mexico, and the coasts of Florida, for the purpose of returning to their breeding places, on one of the Tortugas called Noddy Key. . . . On visiting their island on the 11th of May 1832, I was surprised to see that many of them were repairing and augmenting nests of twigs and dry grass, which they place on bushes or low trees, but never on the ground. . . . "

"The noddies form regular nests of twigs and dry grass, which they place on the bushes or low trees, but never on the ground. On visiting their island [Noddy Key] on the 11th of May 1832, I was surprised to see that many of them were repairing and augmenting nests that had remained through the winter, while others employed in constructing new ones, and some were already sitting on their eggs. In a great many instances their repaired nests formed masses nearly 2 feet in height, and yet all of them had only a slight hollow for the eggs . . . "

"The Noddy, like most other species of terns, lays three eggs, which average two inches in length, by an inch and three-eighths in breadth, and are reddish-yellow colour, spotted and patched with dull red and faint purple. They afford excellent eating, and our sailors seldom failed to collect bucketfuls of them daily during our stay at the Tortugas."

". . . It does not see well at night, and it is perhaps for this reason that it frequently alights on the spars of vessels, where it sleeps so sound that the seamen often catch them. When seized in the hand it offers a rough cry . . . On such occasions, it does not disgorge its food . . . although it bites severely, with quickly repeated movements of the bill, . . . Some of which I've kept several days, refused all kinds of food, became dull and languid, and at length died . . . The tail of the Noddy is cueate, instead of being forked, in which respect it differs essentially from that of the other species. Perhaps the naturalists who placed it in the same genus as the Roseate tern, may have been nodding over their books.

 

 


 

Additional information about the brown noddy may be found by following the link below to the Florida Breeding Bird Atlas. The Atlas, a collaborative effort of Audubon of Florida, the Florida Ornithological Society, and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission provides information of general status, habitat, and status of  breeding species in Florida
 

http://wildflorida.org/bba/BRNO.htm

 Additional information about the brown noddy may be found by following ththis link to eNature.com

 

 

 

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