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Full text of "Bird biographies"



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FOR THE PEOPLE 
FOP. EDVCATION 
! FORSCIENCE 






LIBRARY 

OF 

THE AMERICAN MUSEUM 

OF 

NATURAL HISTORY 





BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

A GUIDE-BOOK FOR BEGINNERS 

An Introduction to 150 Common Land Birds of the 
Eastern United States 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 



BY 

ALICE E. BALL 

Author of "A YEAR WITH THE BIRDS" 



ILLUSTRATED BY 

ROBERT BRUCE HORSFALL 

Painter of Backgrounds in Habitat, Groups American Museum 
of Natural History New York City 



56 COLORED PLATES 




NEW YORK 

DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY 

1923 



Coptri5ht. 1923. 
By DODD, mead & COMPANY, Ino. 



PBINTED IN V. 8. A. 



VAIL-BALLOU COMPANY 
eiNGHAMTON AND NEW YORK 



TO MY FRIEND 

ELIZABETH JONES 

IN LOVING ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF HER UNTIRING AID, 
UNWAVERING FAITH, AND INSPIRING CRITICISM 

THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

In the "Foreword" of this book 1 express my grateful appre- 
ciation to Dr. A. K. Fisher and Mr. E. H. Forbush for permission 
to use extracts from published works. I wish to add my thanks 
to Dr. Charles Richmond and Mr. Joseph Riley of the National 
Museum of Washington, for their courtesy in furnishing me 
with bird-skins from the National Museum collections and a 
copy of the A. O. U. Check-list of 1910, used for the descrip- 
tions and ranges of the birds described in the !ext. 

I am indebted to Dr. John M. Clarke, Director of the State 
Museum of the University of New York, for the permission to 
make selections from Eaton's "Birds of New York"; also to Dr. 
Francis H. Herrick, of Western Reserve University, and Dr. 
Alexander Wetmore, of the Biological Survey, for the right to 
quote from their publications. 

The selections from John Burroughs, Thoreau, Frank Bolles, 
Dallas Lore Sharp, Florence Merriam, Olive Thome Miller, 
Henry W. Longfellow, E. R. Sill, Celia Thaxter, Lucy Larcom, 
and Edna Dean Proctor, are used by permission of, and by 
special arrangement with, The Houghton Mifflin Co., the author- 
ized publishers. Three selections from Wilson Flagg's "Birds of 
New England" are used by special arrangement with the Page 
Co. of Boston. 

To the Courtesy of D. Appleton & Co. I am indebted for the 
right to quote one stanza of Bryant's "To a Waterfowl," dates 
and selections from Frank M. Chapman's "Birds of Eastern 
North America"; to G. P. Putman's Sons for the use of three 
extracts from Dr. Herrick's "Home Life of Wild Birds," and 
to Charles Scribner's Sons for Henry van Dyke's rendering of 
the song sparrow's song. I acknowledge also with thanks my ob- 
ligation to Mr. T. Gilbert Pearson, for his permission to use six 
color-plates of the National Association of Audubon Societies 
and to quote from the Educational Leaflets of the Society. 

[vii] 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

To my friends, Dallas Lore Sharp, Mrs. Sylvester D. Judd, 
and Miss Harriet E. Richards, I desire to express my deep ap- 
preciation of their suggestions and criticisms. I am indebted to 
Mr. James P. Chapin, Assistant-Curator at the American Museum 
of Natural History, New York, for a critical reading of the 
manuscript. 



[viii] 



FOREWORD 

John Burroughs, in his delightful essay called "Birds 
and Poets" says: "The very idea of a bird is a symbol 
and a suggestion to the poet. A bird seems to be at the 
top of the scale, so vehement and intense is his life — 
large brained, large lunged, hot, ecstatic, his frame 
charged with buoyancy and his heart with song. The 
beautiful vagabonds, endowed with every grace, mastery 
of all climes, and knowing no bounds, — how many human 
aspirations are realized in their free, holiday-lives — and 
how many suggestions to the poet in their flight and song." * 

Long before the place of birds in the great scheme of 
nature was understood, they made their appeal: first, to 
primitive man, who had curious superstitions and created 
beautiful myths concerning them; next, to poets and 
dreamers of ancient civilizations, who used them in allu- 
sions beautiful with Oriental imagery; to artists, who de- 
lighted in portraying symbolism; to later poets and lovers 
of beauty, who perceived deep truths and revelations of 
God; and to scientists, who saw back of the phenomena 
of nature the marvelous laws of God. 

It is interesting to follow the effect birds have had 
upon the development of man. Though the religion of 
the early Egyptians was largely worship of the sun and 
moon, yet reverence for birds entered into their faith and 
their ritual. The swallow, the heron, the hawk, the vul- 

1 Used with the permission of the Houghton, Mifflin Co, the authorized 
publishers. 

[ix] 



FOREWORD 

ture, the goose, and the ibis were all held sacred. The 
people of Egypt with their belief in transmigration, imag- 
ined the swallow and the heron as possible abiding-places 
for their souls after death. 

The Chinese and Japanese have had interesting concep- 
tions regarding birds that have been both symbolic and 
poetic. In Japan, wild ducks, geese, cocks, herons, and 
cranes have been highly honored. The people have built 
torii gates, or entrances to their temples, as "bird-rests" 
or perches for their sacred fowl. 

The Greek and Roman mythologies abound in allusions 
to bird-life. It was natural that the powerful eagle should 
be held sacred to Jupiter, the lordly peacock to Juno, 
the wise owl to Minerva, the repulsive vulture that haunted 
battlefields to Mars, the beautiful swan to Apollo, and 
the cooing dove to Venus. 

The American Indians regarded birds with great rever- 
ence. Their bird-myths are full of beauty. To them the 
eagle and the raven were especially sacred. 

The dove was a cherished symbol of early Christian 
writers and painters. The pelican, too, was revered; it 
was the mediaeval symbol of charity. The red breast of 
the robin was thought to have been caused by a prick 
of a thorn in Christ's crown as the bird strove to "wrench 
one single thorn away." The red crossbill's beak was 
believed to have been twisted in its attempt to remove the 
iron nail from Christ's blood-stained hand. 

Burroughs continues: "The very oldest poets, the 
towering antique bards, seem to make very little mention 
of the song-birds. They loved better the soaring, swoop- 
ing birds of prey, the eagle, the ominous birds, the vul- 

[x] 



FOREWORD 

tures, the storks and cranes, or the clamorous sea-birds 
and the screaming hawk. These suited better the rugged, 
warlike character of the times, and the simple, powerful 
souls of the singers themselves. Homer must have heard 
tlie twittering of the swallows, the cry of the plover, the 
voice of the turtle (dove), and the warble of the nightin- 
gale; but they were not adequate symbols to express what 
he felt or to adorn his dieme. i^schylus saw in the eagle 
the 'dog of Jove,' and his verse cuts like a sword with 
such a conception. 

"It is not because the old bards were less as poets, 
but that they were more as men. To strong, susceptible 
characters, the music of nature is not confined to sweet 
sounds. The defiant scream of the hawk circling aloft, 
the wild whinney of the loon, the whooping of the crane, 
the booming of the bittern, the loud trumpeting of the 
migratory geese sounding down out of the midnight sky, 
or the wild crooning of the flocks of gulls — are much 
more welcome in certain moods than any and all mere 
bird-melodies, in keeping as they are with the shaggy and 
untamed features of ocean and woods, and suggesting 
something like Richard Wagner music in the ornithologi- 
cal orchestra." 

As the life of man grew less warlike and heroic, as the 
humbler fireside virtues were honored and the amenities 
of life were cultivated, it is true that poets sang of the 
gentler, more beautiful aspects of nature. Wordsworth 
wrote of the skylark, the cuckoo, and the throstle, Shel- 
ley and Shakespeare of the skylark, Keats of the nightin- 
gale and of goldfinches, Tennyson of the swallow and the 
throstle. They were, however, all deeply sensitive to the 
wilder phases of nature — to the scudding cloud, the dash- 

[xi] 



FOREWORD 

ing spray of the ocean, the raving and moaning of the 
tempest. They saw, too, as have many later poets, a 
spiritual significance and an inspiration as truly great 
and ennobling as the conceptions of the older bards. 

Numerous American poets have found spiritual help, 
comfort, and inspiration in birds. Frank Bolles felt the 
presence of God in the forest where the Oven-bird sings: 

'Touting out his spirit's gladness 
Toward the Source of life and being.'* 

Celia Thaxter mused on God's care of man and bird: 

"For are we not God's children both, 
Thou, little Sandpiper, and I?" 

Serenity and joy came to Edna Dean Proctor: 

"My heart beside the bluebird, sings 
And folds serene its weary wings." 

Edward Rowland Sill voiced human need in his poem: 

SPRING TWILIGHT 

Surely thus to sing, Robin, 

Thou must have in sight. 
Beautiful skies behind the shower, 

And dawn beyond the night. 

Would thy faith were mine, Robin! 

Then, though night were long 
All its silent hours would melt 

Their shadow into song." 

Beautiful memories that soothed pain came to Helen 
Hunt Jackson at the mere shadow of a bird's wing across 
her darkened window. Bird-song bowed Lucy Larcom's 
heart in reverence: 

[xii] 



FOREWORD 

"Then will the birds sing anthems: for the earth and sky and air 
Will seem a great cathedral, filled with beings dear and fair; 
And long processions, from the time that bluebird notes begin 
Till gentians fade, through forest-aisles will still move out and 
in." 

All who appreciate Bryant's great poem "To a Water- 
fowl" may see God, not only "flying over the hill with the 
bird," but as the unfailing guide of the human soul. 

*'He who, from zone to zone, 
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight. 
In the long way that I must tread alone. 

Will lead my steps aright." 

No more triumphant lines exist in literature than those 
in Browning's "Paracelsus" which express faith in God's 
guidance of man and bird: 

"I go to prove my soul! 
I see my way as birds their trackless way. 
I shall arrive: what time, what circuit first, 
I ask not: but unless God send his hail 
Or blinding fireballs, sleet or stifling snow. 
In some time, his good time, I shall arrive: 
He guides me and the bird." 

The poets of the past generations may have written 
much about birds, but it is quite probable that they pos- 
sessed very little accurate information regarding the serv- 
ice they render to the world. Longfellow alone has be- 
queathed to us, in his beautiful "Birds of Killingworth," 
a plea for the preservation of birds because of their prac- 
tical use to man as well as their aesthetic and spiritual 
value: 

[xiii] 



FOREWORD 

*'Plato, anticipating the Reviewers, 

From his Republic banished without pity 

The Poets; in this town of yours, 

You put to death, by means of a Committee, 

The ballad-singers and the Troubadours, 
The street musicians of the heavenly city. 

The birds, who make sweet music for us all 

In our dark hours, as David did for Saul. 

*'Think of your woods and orchards without birds! 

Of empty nests that cling to boughs and beams 
As in an idiot's brain remembered words 

Hang empty 'mid the cobwebs of his dreams I 
Will bleat of flocks or bellowing of herds 

Make up for the lost music, when your teams 
Drag home the stingy harvest, and no more 
The feathered gleaners follow to your door? 

"You call them thieves and pillagers; but know 
They are the winged wardens of your farms, 

Who from the cornfields drive the insidious foe, 
And from your harvests keep a hundred harms." 

During this past century, the period of scientific investi- 
gation, birds have received a large share of attention. 
The immortal pioneers in American Ornithology, Audu- 
bon, Wilson, and Nuttall have been followed by a host of 
scientists w^ho have done work of distinction along various 
lines. They have described the birds of both fertile and 
arid regions, as well as far distant lands, such as Alaska 
and the tundra of the North. They have made complete 
and valuable collections, the most noted of which are in 
the National Museum of Washington and the American 
Museum of Natural History in New York. The latter 

[xiv] 



FOREWORD 

contains famous Habitat Groups with beautiful back- 
grounds, painted by distinguished bird-artists. 

Scientists have studied the anatomy of birds, their eggs, 
their nests, and nestlings; an army of field-men have been 
recording observations on migration, on the molt of birds, 
their songs and call-notes, their food habits, especially 
with relation to their economic importance. The work 
of the Biological Survey in the Department of Agriculture 
at Washington has been of incalculable value; the ex- 
amination of the contents of birds' stomachs has given in- 
disputable evidence of the relation the different species 
bear to insect-life and thus to vegetation. The bulletins 
published by the Department and the leaflets issued by the 
National Association of Audubon Societies have been 
enormous factors in the preservation of bird-life in the 
United States. 

Dr. A. K. Fisher, Professor F. E. L. Beal, Dr. Sylvester 
D. Judd, Dr. C. Hart Merriam, Dr. Henry W. Henshaw, 
Dr. E. W. Nelson, Dr. T. S. Palmer, and Dr. Wells T. 
Cooke have done work of special distinction in the Biologi- 
cal Survey, Mr. William Brewster and Mr. E. H. Forbush 
in Massachusetts, and Dr. Frank Qiapman in New York. 

To Dr. Fisher I am especially indebted for the right 
to incorporate into this book extracts from the bulletins 
of the Biological Survey, and to Mr. Forbush for per- 
mission to quote from his admirable book "Useful Birds 
and Their Protection." 

It has been my purpose to give, not only a portrait 
and a description of the birds I have chosen for this 
volume, but a summing up of the beneficial and injurious 
habits of each, gained from the highest authorities ob- 
tainable. The book is intended for beginners, or for those 

[xv] 



FOREWORD 

who long to know birds intimately and intelligently, and 
wish to belong to the great army of bird-students who are 
"doing their bit" to preserve the bird-life of our country. 



I[xvi] 



CONTENTS 

PAQB 

I PART ONE . „ :. >: w r.: vii 

1. Acknowledgments 

2. Foreword 



II PART TWO r.. . . . 1 

1. Introduction — Winter Birds 

2. Lists of Permanent Residents and Winter 

Visitors 

3. Descriptions and Biographies 

of 
Winter Residents and Visitors 

III PART THREE 89 

1. Introduction — Early Spring Birds 

2. Spring Migration Lists 

3. Descriptions and Biographies 

OF 

Early Spring Birds 

IV PART FOUR . V .T . 167 

1. Introduction — Later Spring Birds 

2. Descriptions and Biographies 

OF 

Later Spring Arrivals 

3. Afterword 



65 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 
WINTER BIRDS 

PAGE PAOB 

Blue Jay 6 Cedar Waxwing ... 47 

Cardinal 19 Tufted Titmouse ... 51 

Red Crossbill .... 24 * Chickadee .... 53 

Junco 27 Downy Woodpecker 

and 
Snowflake 30 Hairy Woodpecker 

* Tree Sparrow ... 34 White-Breasted Nuthatch . 73 

Bob White 39 Brown Creeper ... 78 

EARLY SPRING BIRDS 

Robin 96 Red-Headed Woodpecker . 131 

Bluebird 102 Red-Bellied Woodpecker 

and 
Song Sparrow .... 107 Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker^ 

Phoebe Ill Mourning Dove 

Purple Crackle . . .114 Kingfisher 

Red-Winged Blackbird . 118 Field Sparrow 

Cowbird 121 Vesper Sparrow . 

Meadowlark .... 123 Chipping Sparrow 

Flicker 127 Towhee . . . 



134 



141 
144 
147 
149 
151 
161 



LATER SPRING ARRIVALS 
Tree Swallow .... 169 Chimney Swift . . . 180 
Barn Swallow .... 172 Whip-poor-will . . . 184 
Purple Martin . . .175 Nighthawk 187 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGB PAQB 

House Wren .... 190 Brown Thrasher . . .224 

Hummingbird . . . . 192 » Mockingbird . . . . 227 

Indigo-Bird . . . .196 * Yellow-Billed Cuckoo . 231 

Baltimore Oriole . . .198 Kingbird ..... 235 

Orchard Oriole . . .202 Wood Pewee . . . .242 

Scarlet Tanager . . .204 Red-Eyed Vireo ... 248 

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak . 207 Oven-Bird . . . . . 257 

» Bobolink 212 Yellow Warbler . . . 268 

Goldfinch 216 Maryland Yellow-Throat 270 

* Catbird 220 Wood Thrush . . . .285 



Note — The illustrations starred are made from plates loaned by T. Gilbert 
Pearson, President of the National Association of Audubon Societies. 



DESCRIPTIONS AND BIOGRAPHIES 

OF 
OUR COMMON WINTER BIRDS 

PART TWO 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 



WINTER BIRDS 
Permanent Residents 

AND 

Winter Visitors 

Most people are surprised to learn that about sixty- 
species of birds may be seen in the north-central part 
of Eastern North America during the winter months. 
Many of us, if questioned, would affirm that sparrows, 
crows, and jays are the only winter birds to be found. 
If some one opens for us the door which leads out into 
the great bird-world, we may say, as did the writer of 
the old couplet: 

"I hearing get, who had but ears, 
And sight, who had but eyes before," 

and we may then find, even during the winter season, a 
surprising wealth of bird-life to enrich our own. 

In spite of wings that will bear them immeasurable dis- 
tances, birds seem to have unusual loyalty to their native 
haunts, and they stay in the North until hunger impels 
them to seek friendlier climes. Those that remain may 
be grouped according to the kind of food upon which 
they subsist during the winter: first, birds that eat animal 
food; second, birds that eat vegetable food; and third, 

[1] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

those that eat the eggs or young of insects on tree-trunks 
and branches, or chisel them from the wood. 

To the first group belong six species of owls and eight 
species of hawks, eagles, crows, gulls, shrikes, and about 
eight species of ducks. They feed on mice and other 
small rodents, on smaller birds and poultry, and on sea- 
food such as fish, clams, mussels, and scallops. 

The birds that live on vegetable food during the winter 
are numerous. Throughout the spring and summer 
months they may be useful destroyers of insects; but in 
winter they are able to subsist on what the woods and 
fields yield in the way of nuts, acorns, berries, and the 
seeds of grasses and weeds. Such are jays, red-headed 
woodpeckers, quail, grouse, and the following members 
of the finch or sparrow family: cardinals, pine grosbeaks, 
crossbills, goldfinches, snow buntings, juncos, tree spar- 
rows, white-throated sparrows, redpolls, and pine siskins. 
Many of these are permanent residents, but juncos, snow 
buntings, tree sparrows, crossbills, pine grosbeaks, and a 
few others leave their homes in the far North when deep 
snows bury their food supply and resort to less severe 
climates. Winter wrens are found in some localities. A 
few robins, bluebirds, meadowlarks, and flickers, remain 
North during open winters. 

The third group of winter birds consists of downy 
and hairy woodpeckers, chickadees, tufted titmice, 
brown creepers, nuthatches, and golden-crowned kinglets. 
They glean insect-eggs from the bark of trees as a large 
part of their winter food-supply and form an exceedingly 
important group. The enormous number of insect-eggs 
eaten by them every year is almost incalculable. Every 

[2] 



RESIDENTS AND WINTER VISITORS 

part of a tree — tlie trunk, the large branches, and small 
twigs — is scrutinized by these industrious members of the 
Life-Saving Army of our forests. 

Dr. Frank Chapman recommends beginning the study 
of birds in the winter, while the trees are leafless and the 
birds comparatively few in number. People who spread 
tables for them are frequently surprised at the number 
of species they attract and at the pleasure they experi- 
ence in the companionship of their interesting winter vis- 
itors. 



BIRDS SEEN DURING THE WINTER 
NEAR NEW YORK CITY 

The class of birds called permanent residents in- 
cludes species which are to be found tliroughout the year. 
Dr. Chapman states that comparatively few species of this 
group are permanent residents in the strictest use of the 
term. "The Bob-white, Ruffed Grouse, and several of 
the owls are doubtless literally permanent residents, but it 
is not probable that the Bluebirds, for example, found 
here during the winter are the same birds which nested 
with us in the summer. Doubtless our winter Bluebirds 
pass the summer farther north, while our summer Blue- 

^ The above lists of Winter Residents and Visitors near New York City 
is taken from Dr. Frank M. Chapman's pamphlet, "The Birds of the Vi- 
cinity of New York City," a reprint from the "American Museum Journal" 
of the American Museum of Natural History. The lists and dates are 
used with the permission of Dr. R. C. Murphy, Acting Director of the 
American Museum of Natural History, and of D. Appleton & Co., Dr. 
Chapman's authorized publishers. 

[3] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

birds winter farther south, but as a species, the Bluebird 
is a permanent resident." 



PERMANENT RESIDENTS 



** 



Bob-white 

Ruffed Grouse 

8 species of Hawks 

Bald Eagle 

5 species of Owls 

Hairy Woodpecker 

Downy Woodpecker 

Red-headed Woodpecker 

* Flicker 

* Meadowlark 
Blue Jay 
American Crow 
Fish Crow 



»» 



House Sparrow 
Purple Finch 
American Goldfinch 
Song Sparrow 
Cardinal 
Cedar Waxwing 
Carolina Wren 
White-breasted Nuthatch 
Tufted Titmouse 
Chickadee 

* Robin 

* Bluebird 
Starling 



WINTER RESIDENTS OF WINTER VISITANTS are birds that 
breed farther north and move southward during the winter 
months to obtain food. They may arrive in the fall and 
remain until spring. 



WINTER RESIDENTS AND VISITORS 



Horned Lark 

American or Red Crossbill 

White-winged Crossbill 

Pine Grosbeak 
** Pine Siskin 
** Redpoll 



*A few in winter. 
* *Rare or irregular in winter. 



Tree Sparrow 
White-throated Sparrow 
Northern Shrike 
* Myrtle Warbler 
Winter Wren 
Brown Creeper 



[4] 



RESIDENTS AND WINTER VISITORS 

Snowflake Red-breasted Nuthatch 

Junco Golden-crowned Kinglet 

Grebes, Loons, Auks, Cormorants, Snowy Owls, and several 
species of Gulls and Ducks may also be found during the winter 
months in the vicinity of New York City. 



[5] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 



THE BLUE JAY 

Crow Family — Corvidcs 

Length: About ll^j inches; li/^ inch longer than the !robin; 
tail, over 5 inches long. 

General Appearance : A crested grayish-blue bird, with bright 
blue wings and tail, barred and tipped with black 
and white. In flight, the long tail is conspicuous; 
it resembles a pointed fan. 

Male and Female: Grayish-blue above, grayish-white below, 
lighter on throat and belly. Head with a conspic- 
uous crest; forehead black; bill long, strong, and 
black. A black band that extends back of the crest 
and encircles the throat is widest across the breast. 
Wings bright blue, barred with black; the white tips 
of some of the feathers form bands and patches of 
white. 

Note: A harsh yah, yah, yah, or jay, jay, jay, which Thoreau 
says is "a true winter sound, wholly without senti- 
ment." ^ 

Song: A pleasant, flute-like strain: Pedunkle, pedunkle, parlez- 
vous. There is a sort of jerkiness about his love- 
song, as though his throat was unaccustomed to make 
agreeable sounds. Jays are able to produce many 
strange noises, and appear to enjoy using their power. 

Habitat: Woodlands; those containing oaks and other nut- 
bearing trees preferred. 

Nest: A rough basket of twigs, with a soft lining of root-fibers. 

Range: Eastern North America. A permanent resident of 
south-central Canada and eastern United States, west 
to the Dakotas, Colorado, and central Texas. 

iFrom "Notes on New England Birds," by Henry D. Thoreau. 

[6] 







r.l.l'K JAY 



THE BLUE JAY 

THIS brilliant, handsome blue-coat never "hides his 
light under a bushel"; his noisy jay-jay always 
proclaims his presence. He would at times be unendur- 
able, except that he never remains long in one place; he 
is on the leap constantly, with a dash and an impudent 
assurance that is amusing. 

He is the "bad boy" of the bird neighborhood, the ter- 
ror of the small birds. They seem to have the same fear 
of him that children have of a great bully. He swoops 
down upon them, worries and frightens them, robs their 
nests, and brings to his own spoiled fledglings eggs and 
young as tidbits. 

He is a devoted husband and father, who shows his 
best traits in his family circle. He reminds one of cer- 
tain human beings who take excellent care of their own, 
but who are neither good neighbors nor desirable citizens. 
Occasionally, however, he has family differences. My 
sister tells of watching a jay bring twig after twig for nest- 
building to his mate, who was evidently in a bad mood. 
She would have none of them; she seized each twig and 
threw it away with a disagreeable yah, yah. After re- 
peated attempts, he gave it up and both flew away. My 
sister never learned what occurred later. 

The jay is an inveterate tease. He delights in annoy- 
ing poor half-blind owls in the day-time, by pecking at 
them from unexpected quarters. An owl has been known 
to seize the Tormentor and speedily put an end to his 
existence. 

The blue jay is a member of the same family to which 
the crow belongs, and while totally diff^erent in appear- 
ance, resembles him in his cleverness, his fearlessness, 
and his audacious insolence. Dr. Henshaw, formerly of 

[7] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

the Biological Survey in Washington, brings the follow- 
ing accusation against this bird: 

"The blue jay is of a dual nature. Cautious and silent 
in the vicinity of its nest, away from it, it is bold and 
noisy. Sly in the commission of mischief, it is ever ready 
to scream 'thief at the slightest disturbance. As usual 
in such cases, its remarks are applicable to none more 
than itself, a fact neighboring nest-holders know to their 
sorrow, for during the breeding season the jay lays heavy 
toll upon the eggs and young of other birds, and in doing 
so deprives us of the services of species more beneficial 
than itself." ^ 

Mr. E. R. Kalmbach, also of the Biological Survey, 
says that in winter jays eat the eggs of the tent caterpillar, 
and the larvae of the brown-tail moth, besides waste grain, 
and "mast," — the name given to vegetable food such as 
acorns, beechnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, etc. It likes pe- 
cans and cultivated fruit in their season — two other points 
against the bird. The wild fruits it selects are of no 
economic value. 

Mr. Kalmbach concludes: "The blue jay probably 
renders its best service to man in destroying grasshoppers 
late in the season and in feeding on hibernating insects 
and their eggs, as they do in the case of the tent caterpillar 
and brown-tail moth. Beetles and weevils of various 
kinds also fall as their prey. The severest criticism 
against the species is the destruction of other birds and 
their eggs. Where we wish to attract the latter in large 
numbers about our dooryards, in our parks, and in game 

2 Farmers' Bulletin 513, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of 
Biological Survey. 

[8] 



THE BLUE JAY 

preserves, it will be well not to allow the jay to become 
too abundant." ^ 

Wilson Flagg says: "The blue jay is a true American. 
He is known througliout the continent and never visits any 
otlier country. At no season is he absent from our woods. 

"He has a beautiful outward appearance, under which 
he conceals an unamiable temper and a propensity to 
mischief. There is no bird in our forest that is arrayed 
in equal splendor. But with all his beauty, he has, like 
the peacock, a harsh voice. He is a sort of Ishmael 
among the feathered tribes, who are startled at the sound 
of his voice and fear him as a bandit. There is no music 
in his nature; he is fit only for 'stratagems and spoils.' 

"He is an industrious consumer of the larger insects 
and grubs, atoning in this way for some of his evil deeds. 
I cannot say, tlierefore, tliat I would consent to his banish- 
ment, for he is one of the most cheering tenants of the 
grove at a season when they have but few inhabitants." "* 

FLORIDA JAYS 

Two species of jays are found in Florida. One, called 
the FLORIDA BLUE JAY, resembles its northern relative, ex- 
cept diat it is somewhat smaller (10^/2 inches), is less 
brilliant in color, and has narrower, less conspicuous white 
tips to its feathers. These jays frequent live-oak trees. 
A flock of six or eight on tlie ground searching for acorns, 
is pleasing to the eye, but not to the ear. 

A second species is called the FLORIDA JAY. The top 
and sides ,of its head are a grayish-blue; its neck, wings', 

3 Farmers' Bulletin 630, Biological Survey, U. S. Department of Agri- 
culture. 

*From "Birds of New England," by Wilson Flagg. 

[9] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

and tail are a brighter blue; its back is a grayish-brown; 
its under parts are gray, washed with brown, and faintly 
streaked on throat and breast. Its breast-band is bluish. 
This jay is found chiefly along the southern coast of Flor- 
ida. The absence of a crest is its most distinguishing 
mark. 

PACIFIC COAST JAYS 

Two species t)f jays are common in California and its 
neighboring states. One, the steller jay, enjoys a good 
reputation. It differs from its better-known relatives in 
appearance, also. Its head, crest, throat, breast, and back 
are a brownish-black; its belly and rump are light 
blue, its wings and tail purplish-blue, barred with 
black. 

It is a shy bird and does not often approach the haunts 
of man. Its food is very like that of other jays, but its 
habits bring no condemnation upon it.^ 

The CALIFORNIA JAY is similar to the Florida Jay and 
may be easily distinguished by its blue head without a 
crest, its blue neck, wings, and tail, its brown back, white 
throat, and gray under parts. This jay is a decided rep- 
robate. Professor Beal has characterized it as follows: 
"It freely visits the stockyards near ranch buildings, and 
orchards and gardens. As a fruit stealer it is notorious. 
One instance is recorded where seven jays were shot from 
a prune tree, one after the other, the dead bodies being 
left under the tree until all were killed. So eager were 
the birds to get the fruit that the report of the gun and 
the sight of their dead did not deter them from coming 

5 Farmers' Bulletin 630, Biological Survey, U. S. Department of Agri- 
culture. 

[10] 



THE CALIFORNIA JAY 

to the tree. In orchards, in canyons, or on hillsides ad- 
jacent to chaparral or other cover, great mischief is done 
by this bird. In one such case an orchard was under ob- 
servation at a time when the prune crop was ripening, 
and jays in a continuous stream were seen to come down 
a small ravine to the orchard, prey upon the fruit, and 
return. 

"Fruit stealing, however, is only one of the sins of the 
California jay. That it robs hens' nests is universal tes- 
timony. A case is reported of a hen having a nest under 
a clump of bushes; every day a jay came to a tree a 
few rods away, and when it heard the cackle of the hen 
announcing a new egg it flew at once to the nest. At 
the same time the mistress of the house hastened to the 
spot to secure the prize, but in most cases the jay won the 
race. This is only one of many similar cases recounted. 
The jays have learned just what the cackle of the hen 
means. Another case more serious is that related by a 
man engaged in raising white leghorn fowls on a ranch 
several miles from a canyon. He stated that when the 
chicks were very young the jays attacked and killed them 
by a few blows of the beak and then pecked open the 
skull and ate out the brains. In spite of all efforts to 
protect the chicks and kill the jays, the losses in this 
way were serious." ^ 

THE CANADA JAY 

The CANADA JAY is similar in form and size to its blue 
relatives, but has the coloring of a northern winter land- 
scape — gray, black, and white. This jay has no crest; 

« Farmers' Bulletin 630, Biological Survey, U. S. Department of Agri- 
culture. 

[11] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

the back of its head and nape are black; the forehead 
and neck are white; the upper parts are gray, with darker 
gray wings and tail; under parts, light gray; tail, long; 
plumage, fluffy and fur-like. 

This bird is found in the forests of Canada and in 
the northern part of the United States, where it is most 
common in the coniferous forests of Maine and Minne- 
sota, in the wilder parts of the White and Green Mts., 
and in the Adironda'cks. 

Major Charles Bendire, in his interesting "Life His- 
tories of American Birds," published by our government, 
writes the following amusing account of the Canada jay: 

"No bird is better known to the lumbermen, trappers 
and hunters along our northern border than the Canada 
Jay, which is a constant attendant at their camps, and af- 
fords them no little amusement during the lonely hours 
spent in the woods. To one not familiar with these birds 
it is astonishing how tame they become. 

"Mr. Manly Hardy writes: 'The Canada Jay is a con- 
stant resident of northern Maine, but in some seasons 
they are far more abundant than in others, being usually 
found in companies of from three to ten. They are the 
boldest of all our birds, except the Chickadee, and in 
cool impudence far surpass all others. They will enter 
tents, and often alight on the bow of a canoe where the 
paddle at every stroke comes within 18 inches of them. 
I know of nothing which can be eaten that they will not 
take, and I had one steal all my candles, pulling them out 
endwise one by one from a piece of birch bark they were 
rolled in, and another pecked a large hole in a cake of 
castile soap. A duck which I had picked and laid down 
for a few minutes had the entire breast eaten out by 

[12] 



THE CANADA JAY 

one or more of these birds. I have seen one alight in 
the middle of my canoe and peck away at the carcass 
of a beaver I had skinned. They often spoil deer sad- 
dles by pecking into them near the kidneys. They do 
grea-t damage to the trappers by stealing the bait from 
traps set for martens and minks and by eating trapped 
game; they will spoil a marten in a short time. They 
will sit quietly and see you build a log trap and bait it, 
and then, almost before your back is turned, you hear 
their hateful ca-ca-ca as they glide down and peer into 
it. They will work steadily carrying off meat and hid- 
ing it.' " 



[13] 



THE AMERICAN CROW 
Crow Family — Corvidce 

THE AMERICAN CROW is too well-known to need a 
description — merely a reference to the steely-blue 
or dark purple sheen o-f his "crow-black" plumage, and 
to the remarkable power of his long (twelve-inch) wings, 
which in flight show feather finger-tips at their ends. 

One cannot but admire his strength and his absolute 
fearlessness, nor fail to be amused at his cleverness and 
his insolent bravado. Two or three crows, cawing 
hoarsely, will people a woodland in winter; while a flock, 
winging its way to the naked March woods, will cause a 
thrill of joy and expectancy, in spite of the knowledge 
that the advent of these bla'ck marauders means eternal 
vigilance to long-suffering farmers. 

Dr. Sylvester D. Judd at Marshall Hall, Maryland, 
made an exhauistive study of the crow's food habits. He 
reported the following: 

"The crow is by all means the worst pilferer of the 
cornfield. Every year at Marshall Hall, as elsewhere, 
a part of the field must be replanted because of his 'pick- 
ings and stealings.' In 1899, the replanting was more 
extensive than usual — 46 per cent, of the 3^/^ bushels 
originally planted. This unusual ratio was probably 
caused by ^le failure of the cherry crop, which left the 
crow short of food." 

Dr. Judd told of the "protective devices of tarring 
corn," which did not prevent the crows from pulling up 

[14] 



THE AMERICAN CROW 

the grain in large quantities, though they did not eat it. 
He continued: 

"The injury to com at other seasons than sprouting time 
is, as a general thing, comparatively insignificant, but 
in some years it has been important when the ears were 
in the milk. They then tear open the ears, and pick out 
the kernels in rapid succession. In the National Zoolog- 
ical Park at Washington during the summer of 1896, 
their depredations on an acre of corn were watched, and 
50 per cent, of the crop was found to have been ruined. 

"The only scarecrows that proved effective at Marshall 
Hall were dead crows, and strings stretched on poles 
around the field and hung with long white streamers. 
Although in fall the number of marauders is greatly in- 
creased by reenforcements from the North, ripe com sus- 
tains less injury from crows than roasting ears. One 
reason is the abundance of fall fmit. 

"Wlieat suffers comparatively little. When it is ripen- 
ing, cherries and sprouting com divert the crow's atten- 
tion. After it is cut and gathered into the shock, however, 
they often join the English sparrows in removing the 
kernels. Oats are injured even less than wheat, though 
crows have been noticed feeding on them at harvest 
time." 

While the crow is considered the arch-criminal of the 
bird-world. Dr. Judd ascribed to him a good habit — that 
of the dissemination of wild seeds in an unusual manner. 
He wrote: "In November, 1899, a large flock on the 
wing was noticed in the distance, at a point opposite Fort 
Washington, several miles above Marshall Hall. They 
came on down the river in a line that at times stretched 
almost from one bank to the other. They circled several 

[15] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

times and alighted on the shore. The flock numbered at 
least a thousand, and hoarse caws and croaks gave evi- 
dence that it was made up to some extent of fish crows. 

"After the birds had remained on shore about fifteen 
minutes, they were put to flight by a farmer's boy and 
flew on down the river. Going to the place where they 
had alighted, I found the sandy beach cut up for more 
than a hundred yards with their tracks. Many led out 
to the water, and floating black feathers here and there 
showed where baths had been taken. 

"The most interesting trace of their sojourn, however, 
was several hundred pellets of fruit material, which they 
had ejected through their mouths and dropped on the 
ground. These pellets were about an inch in length and 
half an inch in diameter. They were of a deep purplish 
color, due to the fruit of woodbine, wild grape, and poke- 
berry, of which they were mainly composed. In 50 pel- 
lets collected there were only 11 seeds of other plants — 
namely, holly, bitter-sweet, and poison ivy. Pokeberry 
seeds were by far the most numerous. Mr. A. J. Pieters, 
of the Botanical Division of the Department of Agricul- 
ture, germinated some of them, thus demonstrating the 
fact that they were distributed uninjured. 

"The pellets were made up not only of seeds and skins, 
but largely of fruit pulp in an undigested state. It seems 
strange that the birds should have rid themselves of a sub- 
stance that still contained a good deal of nutriment. 

"Little is known of the distribution of fruit seeds by 
crows during migration, but it is certain that they do this 
work eff"ectively while they fly to and from the roosts where 
they congregate in winter, for their feeding grounds often 
cover an area stretching out on all sides from the' roosts 

[16] 



THE AMERICAN CROW 

for 50 miles or more. It appears highly probable that 
the crows which are found in winter at Marshall Hall 
roost at Woodbridge, D. C, some 15 miles distant. 
There, in the midst of several acres of woodland, a crow 
dormitory is established, in which probably 100,000 crows 
sleep every winter night. It was visited in February, 
1901, and the ground was found to be strewn with dis- 
gorged pellets." ^ 

The FISH CROW (16 inches long) is three inches smaller 
than the common crow. It has a more uniform irides- 
cence above, and is greenish underneath. Its caw is 
hoarser and more nasal. Its range is from Connecticut 
and the lower Hudson southward, generally near the coast. 
It is abundant in Virginia, and near the city of Wash- 
ington. 

The FLORIDA CROW is similar to the American Crow, 
except that its bill and feet are larger, its wings and tail 
shorter. 

THE RAVEN 

The NORTHERN RAVEN SO resembles the crow that it is 
often difficult to distinguish them. The chief differences 
are the raven's much greater size (from 22 to 26 V^ in- 
ches), and its note, which sounds more like Croak than 
Caw. This is the raven found in Alaska, northern Can- 
ada, and Greenland, — the bird especially revered by Alas- 
kan Indians. It is found also in the northern United 
States, — in the state of Washington, in Minnesota, the 
Adirondacks, and elsewhere. 

Major Charles Bendire, in his "Life Histories of North 

1 From "Birds of a Maryland Farm," by Sylvester D. Judd — Bulletin 
No. 17, U. S. Department of Agrtculture, Division of Biological Survey. 

[17] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

American Birds," makes the following statements about 
the northern raven: 

"It lives to a great extent on ofFal and refuse of any 
kind, and is generally most abundant in the immediate 
vicinity of Indian camps and settlements, which are mostly 
located on the seashore, or on the banks of the larger 
rivers in the interior where these birds act as scavengers. 
Hundreds of ravens may frequently be seen in the vicin- 
ity of the salmon-canning stations. Clams also form a 
part of their food; these are said to be carried some dis- 
tance in the air and dropped on the rocks to break their 
shells. They also prey to no small extent on the young 
and eggs of different water-fowl." 



[18] 




^ y f 



CARDINAL 



THE CARDINAL 

Cardinal Grosbeak, Redbird, Virginia Nightingale 

(Cardinals belong to the Grosbeak group of the large 
Finch or Sparrow Family, or the Fringillidce.) 

Length: About 8i/4 inches; slightly smaller than the robin. 

General Appearance: Brilliant rose-red plumage; crested head 
and thick beak. 

Male: A soft cardinal red, except for a black throat, a black 
band encircling bill, and, in winter, a grayish tinge 
to wings. Bill large, heavy, and light red. Red 
crest ^conspicuous ; it may be raised and lowered at 
will. Tail long and slender; it is twitched nervously 
and frequently. 

Female: Brownish-gray above, yellowish underneath. Crest, 
wings, and tail reddish — the color especially notice 
able in flight. Throat and band about bill grayish- 
black. 

Gall-note : A sharp, insistent tsip, tsip. 

Song: A loud and clear, yet sweet and mellow whistle, cheer, 
cheer, he-u, he-u, he-u, repeatedly rapidly with de- 
scending inflection, and with nearly an octave in 
range. The female, unlike most of her sex in the 
bird-world, is also a fine singer; her soft melodious 
warble is considered by many listeners to be superior 
to the song of her mate. 

Habitat: "Shrubbery is its chosen haunt, the more tangled the 
better. Here the nest is built and here they spend 
most of their days. Higher trees are usually sought 
only under the inspiration Oi song." ^ 

^ From W. L. McAtee; Farmers' Bulletin 755, Biological Survey, U. S. 
Department of Agriculture. 

[19] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

Range: From southeastern South Dakota, Iowa, northern In- 
diana and Ohio, southeastern and southwestern Penn- 
sylvania, southern Hudson Valley, south to the Gulf 
States; a resident of Bermuda. Cardinals are not 
migratory. 

CARDINALS are especially numerous in our South- 
ern States. They abound in Florida and Bermuda, 
where their brilliant coloring contrasts wonderfully widi 
the light sands and the coral limestone. A cardinal sing- 
ing in an hibiscus bush, laden with gorgeous red blooms, 
makes a never-to-be-forgotten memory; while a sight of 
one in a blossoming Virginia dog-wood tree or against a 
northern snow-scene is equally memorable. These birds 
are great favorites in the South, rivaling the mockingbirds 
in the affections of many people. In the North, a glimpse 
of a cardinal marks a red-letter day; and bird-lovers whose 
kind hands spread bountiful tables for winter residents, 
count themselves highly favored to have a pair of car- 
dinals for their guests. Aside from the joy which their 
beauty and their song bring, they possess great practical 
value. 

Mr. W. T. Atee, of the Biological Survey, writes that 
about one-fourth of the cardinal's food consists of destruc- 
tive pests such as the worms which infest cotton plants, 
and numerous other caterpillars, besides grasshoppers, 
scale insects, beetles, and others. A large part of their 
food consists of the seeds of troublesome weeds and of 
wild fruits. "The bird has a record for feeding on many 
of the worst agricultural pests." ^ No sins are laid at 
his door. "Cardinals are usually seen in pairs, but in 

2 Farmers' Bulletin 755, Biological Survey, U. S. Department of Agri- 
culture. 

[20] 



THE CARDINAL 

winter they often collect in southern swamps and thickets, 
and flock to feeding-places near the haunts of man when 
food is scarce." ^ 

They were formerly trapped for cage-birds. They 
were so highly esteemed that they were in great demand 
even in Europe, where they received the name of the "Vir- 
ginia Nightingale." But trapping is now nearly abol- 
ished, and the wild, liberty-loving cardinal may roam as 
he will with the wife of his heart. Few birds are more 
ardent, jealous lovers, more tenderly devoted husbands, 
or more anxious, solicitous fathers than these beautiful, 
sweet-voiced redbirds.'' 

3 & ^ William Dutcher, Former President of the National Association of 
Audubon Societies; Educational Leaflet No. 18. 



[21] 



THE PINE GROSBEAK 

Finch Family — Fringillidce 

Length: A little over 9 inches; slightly larger than his cousin, 
the cardinal, and nearly an inch smaller than the 
robin. 

General Appearance : A red bird with brown and white wings, 
a broivn tail, and a heavy beak. 

Male: A bright raspberry-red, deepest on the head, breast, 
rump, and upper tail-coverts ; the rest of the body a 
slaty gray, lighter underneath, with a soft red breast; 
wings dark brown, edged with white, forming two 
broad wing-bars; tail forked; beak large and strong, 
with a small hook at the end. 

Female: Slaty gray, with head, rump, and upper tail-coverts 
olive-yellow where the male's are red; under parts 
washed with yellow: wings and tail brown; wings 
edged with white; two wing-bars. 

Young: Similar to female. 

Song: A loud, clear whistle, given while on the wing. In 
spring, a melodious nesting song. 

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds in the tree-regions of 
Canada, in the White Mts., and Maine; winters south 
to Iowa, Indiana, Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, 
(and occasionally to the District of Columbia and 
Kentucky), westward to Manitoba, Minnesota, and 
Kansas. 

THIS brilliant, handsome Pine Grosbeak is compara- 
tively unknown in the United States, but wherever 
he appears as a rare visitor, he is hailed with enthusiasm 
or excitement because of his beautiful color. He resem- 

[22] 



THE PINE GROSBEAK 

bles his cousin, the purple finch, in color and markings, 
but is much larger. 

Thoreau says, "When some rare northern bird like the 
pine grosbeak is seen thus far south in the winter, he does 
not suggest poverty, but dazzles us with his beauty. 
There is in them a warmth akin to the warmth that melts 
the icicle. Think of these brilliant, warm-colored, and 
richly-warbling birds, birds of paradise, dainty-footed, 
downy-clad, in the midst of a New England, a Canadian 
winter." ^ 

The Pine Grosbeak "is of gentle, unobtrusive manner, 
almost entirely fearless of man's approach, and always 
seems to be perfectly contented with its situation wher- 
ever encountered. A whole tree full of these birds may 
be seen feeding on the seeds of mountain ash berries, ap- 
ples, or the buds of beeches. One may stand within a few 
feet of them for a long time without their taking any no- 
tice of one's presence. They are slow and deliberate in 
manner. Their flight, however, is rather rapid and ag- 
gressive, slightly undulating." ^ 

They are silent, uninteresting birds, awkward in their 
movements. They are very hardy, and roam southward 
when the severe Canadian winters send them forth in search 
of food. Seeds of cone-bearing trees, sumac and moun- 
tain ash berries are their favorite winter diet. They re- 
turn to their northern nesting places when few birds would 
consider it seemly to set up housekeeping. 

1 From ''Notes on New England Birds," H. D. Thoreau, page 421. 

2 From Eaton's "Birds of New York," page 255. 



[23] 



THE AMERICAN OR RED CROSSBILL 

Finch Family — Fringillidce 

LeTigth: A little over 6 inches; slightly larger than the English 
sparrow. 

General Appearance: A small, plump red bird, with brown 
wings, brown forked tail, and a bill crossed at the 
tip. 

Male: Head and body a dull red, brownish on the back, and 
bright red above tail; wings brown, without white 
bars; tail brown and notched; bill with long strong 
mandibles that are crossed somewhat like a parrot's. 

Female: Head and body dull olive, with a yellowish wash — 
brightest on rump; head, back, and under parts mot- 
tled with black. 

Gall-note: A short, clear, metallic whistle. 

Song: A gentle warble, varied, and agreeable to hear. 

Flight : Undulating. 

Habitat: Coniferous forests, preferably. 

Range: Northern North America. Breeds from central Alaska, 
and northern Canada south to the mountains of Cal- 
ifornia, to Colorado, Michigan, and in the AUegha- 
nies of Georgia, occasionally in Massachusetts, Mary- 
land, and Virginia. 

RED CROSSBILLS are truly the "Wandering Jews" 
of the bird-world. They are erratic nomads, liv- 
ing in flocks, and roaming where fancy leads or necessity 
impels them. They pitch their tents and raise their 
broods wherever they may happen to be sojourning in late 
winter or early spring, even though many miles south of 
their natural breeding places. Dr. Elliot Coues writes: 

[24] 




7^-3RWCt. tiOHi^rAux 



CROSSBILL 



THE AMERICAN OR RED CROSSBILL 



"Their most remarkable habit is that of breeding in the 
winter, or very early in the spring, when one would think 
it impossible that their callow young could endure the 
rigors of the season." He mentions a nest taken in Maine 
in February, and another in Vermont so early in March 
that the ground was covered with snow and the weather 
was very severe/ 

They make no regular migrations, spring or fall, but 
like will-o'-the-wisps appear and vanish, affording one of 
the most delightful surprises to be found in nature. To 
see one of them, accompanied by his olive-green mate, 
swinging from a spruce bough against a flaming sunset 
sky or a snowy landscape, is an event in one's life. 

Crossbills are denizens of coniferous forests. Their 
twisted or crossed bills are peculiarly adapted to extract- 
ing seeds from pine and spruce cones, though they eat 
berries, fruit, grass seeds, and cankerworms in season. 
Because of their curiously twisted beaks, these birds have 
always been regarded with peculiar interest, even with 
superstition. Longfellow has preserved for us the Ger- 
man legend regarding this bird in his poem: 

THE LEGEND OF THE CROSSBILL 

On the cross the dying Saviour 
Heavenward lifts his eyelids calm. 

Feels, but scarcely feels, a trembling 
In his pierced and bleeding palm. 

And by all the world forsaken, 

Sees He how with zealous care 
At the ruthless nail of iron 

A little bird is striving there. 

^ Educational Leaflet No. 35, National Association of Audubon Societies. 

[25] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

Stained with blood and never tiring 

With its beak it doth not cease; 
From the cross 'twould free the Saviour, 

Its Creator's Son release. 

And the Saviour speaks in mildness: 

"Blest be thou of all the good! 
Bear, as token of this moment, 

Marks of blood and holy rood!'* 

And that bird is called the crossbill ; 

Covered all with blood so clear, 
In the groves of pine it singeth 

Songs, like legends, strange to hear.^ 

Henry W. Longfellow 

THE WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL 

The White-winged Crossbill is similar to the Red Cross- 
bill, but its body is a dull crimson instead of red, and its 
black wing-feathers are so tipped with white as to form 
two broad white wing-bars. The female is olive-green, 
gray underneath, with a yellow rump, dark wings and tail, 
white wing-bars, and dark streaks on head, breast, and 
back. 

This crossbill breeds in Canada, south to the Adiron- 
dacks, White Mountains, and Maine. Its note is a soft 
cheep; its song a gentle warble. To see a flock of these 
birds feeding silently in a grove of spruces or hear them 
singing their low sweet song makes a memory cherished 
by bird-lovers. They may be seen in winter as far south 
as North Carolina. 

- Used with permission of the Houghton Mifflin Co., the authorized pub- 
lishers. 



[26] 










JUNCO 



THE JUNCO OR SLATE-COLORED SNOWBIRD 
Finch Family — Fringillidce 

hength: About 6^4 inches; slightly smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

General Appearance: Trim, dainty little birds, all gray and 
white, except for a pinkish or flesh-colored bill. 
White outer tail-feathers, showing in flight, are dis- 
tinguishing marks. 

Male: Dark slate-gray above and white below. The gray ex- 
tends to the center of the breast in a nearly horizon- 
tal line, and with the white under parts, gives the 
effect of the birds' having waded breast-deep in the 
snow, or having been sliced in two, like the "sliced 
animals" of our childhood. Sides grayish; wings 
slightly darker; tail dark brown, with two outer 
feathers white; third feather, partly white; bill heavy, 
adapted to a diet of seeds. 

Female: Similar to male, only brownish-gray. Winter plu- 
mage of all juncos browner than summer plumage. 

Young: Light brownish, streaked with black. 

Note: A gentle tseep, tseep, and a smack, smack, of alarm or 
distress. 

Song: A tender, sweet trill in the spring. Though monotonous, 
the song is very pleasing. 

Habitat: Groves of conifers; thickets of bushes or vines, or 
clumps of weeds. 

Nest: Juncos' nests are built of mosses or grasses on or near 
the ground. The speckled eggs and the streaked 
babies are excellent examples of protective coloring. 
The nests are sometimes placed very near houses, if 
the surroundings are to the liking of the birds. 

Range: Eastern and northern North America. Breeds from 

[27] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

the tree-limit of Alaska and Canada southward to 
northern United States, — northern Minnesota, central 
Michigan, Maine, the mountains of New York, Penn- 
sylvania, and Massachusetts; winters throughout east- 
ern United States and southern Canada to the Gulf 
Coast. 

The Carolina Junco, nesting in the southern Appa- 
lachian mountains, is a subspecies, differing but very 
slightly in color. 

J UNCOS are gentle, attractive little creatures that come 
to our thickets when the chill of autumn has driven 
away our insectivorous birds. Being seed-eaters, they do 
not fear winter snows, except those that cover tall weeds. 
According to Professor Beal, juncos should be rigidly pro- 
tected. They not only destroy large quantities of weed 
seeds, thereby rendering service to agriculture, but they 
eat harmful insects, of which caterpillars are their favorite. 
They do no damage to fruit or grain.^ 

Mr. Forbush writes of the junco as follows: "The 
Snowbird does not often breed in Massachusetts, excepting 
on the higher lands of the north-central and western parts 
of the State. Pairs are said to nest occasionally in ice- 
houses, which are certainly cool, if not suitable situations. 
It is a bird of the Canadian fauna, and it winters in Mas- 
sachusetts whenever conditions are favorable. In the 
southeastern portion of the State, where the ground is 
bare in sheltered places through much of the winter, or 
where weed seed, chaff, and other food can be secured, 
this bird is common in the colder months. Its notes at this 
season are chiefly sparrow like chirps. 

1 Farmers' Bulletin 506, Biological Survey, U. S. Department of Agri- 
culture. 

[28] 



THE JUNCO OR SLATE-COLORED SNOWBIRD 

"A flock of these dark birds on the new-fallen snow is 
an interesting sight on a cold winter's day, as they come 
familiarly about tlie house or barnyard. Audubon says 
that in winter they burrow in stacks of corn or hay for 
shelter at night during the continuance of inclement 
weather. As spring comes they begin to sing much like 
the Chipping Sparrow. They converse together with a 
musical twittering, and about the first of May they leave 
for tlieir northern breeding-ground." ^ 

2 "Useful Birds and Their Protection"— E. H. Forbush. 



[29] 



THE SNOWFLAKE OR SNOW BUNTING 



Finch Family — Fringillidce 

Lengfth: A little less than 7 inches; slightly larger than the 
junco and the English sparrow. 

General Appearance: A brown, black, and white bird; the 
white is conspicuous on wings and tail, especially in 
flight. The bird has a characteristic way of "hug- 
ging the ground" when walking or running — it does 
not hop. 

Male and Female: In winter: head brown on top, lighter on 
neck; white o,n sides of head, with a brown thumb- 
mark below eye; back brown, streaked with black; 
throat and belly white; a broad brownish band across 
breast; a brownish wash on sides and rump; wings 
black and white, some of the feathers edged with 
brown — in flight, the wings appear white, broadly 
tipped with black; inner tail-feathers black, outer 
feathers white. In summer: back and shoulders 
black, the rest of the body white; wings and tail 
black and white. 

Notes: Thoreau calls their note ""'a rippling whistle." He says 
also, "Besides their rippling note, they have a vibra- 
tory twitter, and from the loiterers you hear quite 
a tender peep." ^ 

Habitat : The tundras of North America. Snow buntings breed 
in the treeless regions of the North; they migrate 
southward during the winter. 

Range: Northern Hemisphere. In North America, they breed 
from 83° north (including Greenland), to the north- 
ern part of Canada and Alaska; winter from 
Unalaska and south-central Canada to northern 

1 From "Notes on New England Birds," H. D. Thoreau, page 278. 

[30] 



'-/ 



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4 



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iv. « 



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^ 4 




■i 



h f RUff HdllJ/^A«.4 



SNOWFLAKE 



THE SNOWFLAKE OR SNOW BUNTING 

United States, irregularly to northern California, 
Colorado, Kansas, southern Indiana and Ohio, and 
Florida. 

SNOW BUNTINGS, or "Brown Snowbirds" as they are 
called to distinguish them from the juncos, or "Gray 
Snowbirds," are not generally known because of the infre- 
quency and irregularity of their visits. They belong to 
the Sparrow family, but have so much black and white on 
their wings and tail as to appear very unlike their rela- 
tives. 

Snowflakes are gentle, fearless little birds, possibly be- 
cause they come from the sparsely settled regions of the 
North, where they need not learn to fear human beings. 
Like chickadees, they appear to love driving storms, and to 
frolic during February blizzards with as keen delight as 
warmly clad children; like tree sparrows, they are pro- 
tected by a layer of fat that keeps out the cold. As they, 
too, are seed-eaters, snow buntings must journey southward 
during the winter to regions where deep snows do not bury 
the weeds. 

Few people are aware that in the treeless plains of the 
north there lives a bird that resembles the much-admired 
skylark of England in its way of singing. Both snow 
buntings and skylarks begin to sing as they rise from the 
ground, sing while on the wing or high up in the air, then 
drop swiftly to the ground. 

Dr. Judd writes as follows about the snowbird: "The 
snowflake is a bird of the arctic tundra, above the limit of 
tree growth. In North America it breeds about Hudson 
Bay, in the northermost parts of Labrador and Alaska, and 
to the northward. In its northern home it is a white, 
black-blotched sparrow, of whose habits very little is 

[31] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

known, except that it makes a feather-lined nest on the 
ground, in which it rears four or five young on a diet 
which probably consists principally of insects. After the 
breeding season, however, a buffy brown comes mixed 
with the black and white, and the birds assume a more 
sparrowlike aspect. They migrate southward with the 
first severe cold weather, some of them coming as far south 
as the northern half of the United States, where their ap- 
pearance is regarded as a sure sign that winter has begun in 
earnest. Often a flock of a thousand will come with a 
blizzard, the thermometer registering 30° to 40° below 
zero; and in their circling, swirling flight, as they are 
borne along by the blast, they might well be mistaken at a 
distance for veritable snowflakes. They settle in the open 
fields and along railroad tracks, where they secure some 
food from hayseed, grain that has sifted out of the grain 
cars, and seeds of weeds that grow along the tracks. Here 
they remain until April, when, in obedience to the migrat- 
ing instinct, they journey north to nest on the treeless 
plains of the arctic regions. 

"The snowflake diff"ers from many other winter spar- 
rows, such as the tree sparrow, junco, and white-throated 
sparrow, in that its flocks act more nearly as units, the 
alarm of a single member causing the whole flock to whirl 
up into the air and be off". A further difference may be 
noted in its strictly terrestrial habits. When not flying, it 
is almost invariably found on the ground; and when it 
does happen to alight in a tree, awkward wobblings betray 
its discomfort. Where the feeding conditions are favor- 
able, immense flocks of snowflakes may be seen apparentlji 
rolling like a cloud across the land, this curious effect be- 

[32] 



THE SNOWFLAKE OR SNOW BUNTING 

ing due to tlie rear rank continually rising and flying for- 
ward to a point just in advance of the rest of the flock." ~ 

Dr. Judd says that little information can be given con- 
cerning the summer food of this bird, but that it probably 
feeds on tlie seeds of shore or marsh plants. The winter 
food consists of grain, mostly gleanings or waste, and of 
weed seed which is consumed in enormous quantities. 
"On account of its good work as a weed destroyer and the 
apparent absence of any noticeably detrimental food hab- 
its, the snowflake seems to deserve high commendation, and 
should receive careful protection." 

2 From "The Relation of Sparrows to Agriculture," by Sylvester D. 
Judd, Bulletin No. 15, Biological Survey. 



[33] 



THE TREE SPARROW OR WINTER CHIPPY 

Finch Family — Fringillidcs 

Length: A little over 6 inches; about the size of the English 
sparrow. 

General Appearance: A small brown bird with a gray breast 
that has an indistinct black spot in the center. 

Male and Female: Crown reddish-brown; a gray line over the 
eye, a reddish-brown line back of eye; gray below 
eye; a reddish-brown streak curving from bill; bill 
short and thick ; back brown, streaked with black and 
buff; wings dark brown, edged with white, and with 
two white wing-bars; tail brown, slightly forked, 
outer feathers edged with white; sides brownish, 
other under parts white; the black spot in the center 
of the breast, the identification mark. 

Notes: Cheerful twitters and chirps. 

Song: A sweet, gentle trill, very delightful to hear. 

Habitat: Fields, especially those bordered by bushes that can 
be used as shelter at night and as a refuge from 
enemies. 

Bange: Eastern North America. Breeds in northern and 
central Canada; winters from southern Minnesota 
and southeastern Canada to eastern Oklahoma, cen- 
tral Arkansas, and South Carolina. 

THE TREE SPARROW 

When lordly Winter stalks abroad 

With trailing robes of snow. 
That hide the lovely tender things 

His icy breath lays low; 
When grasses, shrubs, and hardy weeds 

[34] 




Mi ! '^i^- 



TREE SPARROW 



THE TREE SPARROW OR WINTER CHIPPY 

Hold high their heads, and mock 
Their tyrant lord, — from Northland woods 

There come a merry flock 
Of feathered songsters, soft and brown 

With a dark spot on each breast. 
They sway on stalk of golden-rod 

Above a snowdrift's crest. 
Their voices ring like tinkling bells 

Beneath the wintry sky, 
Till April, when with joyous songs 

Back to the North they fly. 

SUCH are the rollicking little Tree Sparrows, that whirl 
into our vision like an eddy of brown leaves. To 
the untrained observer, they are "just sparrows," but to 
the "seeing eye" they are altogether more dainty and re- 
fined than English sparrows, and have different markings. 
Their little brown caps, the gray line over their bright 
eyes, their brown backs, white wing-bars, pale gray breasts 
and forked tails resemble those of their little cousins, the 
chipping sparrows. But the soft grayish-black spot on 
each tree sparrow's breast is a difference. Careful com- 
parison with the "Chippy" will show no straight black line 
extending from the eye, but a brown curve behind the eye 
that joins the one extending from the bill. 

The voices of winter chippies are infinitely sweeter than 
those of the door yard chippies and their English relatives. 
Their note is sweet and joyous. Mr. Forbush writes of 
their song as follows: "Tree Sparrows are among the 
few birds that can 'look our winters in the face and sing.' 
They are occasionally heard singing in November and De- 
cember and late in February, when deep snow covers the 
ground. The song is among the sweetest of sparrow notes, 
but not very strong. It slightly resembles that of the Fox 

[35] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

Sparrow. Like other sparrows they chirp and twitter 
from time to time, but the full chorus of a flock in winter 
is a sound worth going far to hear." ^ 

Dr. Judd says: "The tree sparrow breeds in Labrador 
and the Hudson Bay region and westward to Alaska. In 
the fall the birds come down from the north in immense 
throngs and spread over the United States as far south as 
South Carolina, Kansas, and Arizona. During the winter, 
in company with j uncos, white-throats, white-crowns, and 
fox sparrows, they give life to the hedgerows, tangled 
thickets, and weed patches. . . . The food of the tree 
sparrow during its stay in the United States is almost en- 
tirely made up of seeds. The bird shows an essential 
difference from its associates, however, in its large con- 
sumption of grass seed, fully half of its food consisting of 
this element. . . . Nearly two-thirds of the vegetable food 
that is not grass seed is derived from such plants as rag- 
weed, amaranth, lamb's quarters, . . . and a variety of 
seeds such as wild sunflower, goldenrod, chickweed, purs- 
lane, wood sorrel, violet, and sheep sorrel." ^ 

Professor Beal says that the oily seeds of such plants 
as ragweed cause the little bodies of tree sparrows to be 
encased in "a layer of fat constituting a set of under-flan- 
nels from one-eighth to one-fourth of an inch in thickness 
all over the bird's body." They are so warmly dressed 
that it is no wonder they are happy, cheerful, and active. 
A sight of them in a beautiful, snowy meadow is enough 
to repay one for the trouble of a quest. 

1 From "Useful Birds and Thesir Protection," by E. H. Forbush. 

2 Bulletin No. 15, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey. 

[36] 



THE TREE SPARROW OR WINTER CHIPPY 

Pine siskins, redpolls, song sparrows, white- 
throated SPARROWS, PURPLE FINCHES, and GOLDFINCHES 
are other species of the large Finch family, or Fringilli- 
dae, that may be seen during the winter months. 

The Pine siskin or pine finch is a small brownish- 
gray bird streaked with black, and with buff edges to many 
of its feathers. The yellow in the wings and in the forked 
tail will distinguish it. 

The redpoll is a little brownish-gray bird with a red 
forehead, reddish breast and rump, black chin and throat. 
It has distinct dark streaks on its head, back, and under 
parts, except the breast. There are several species vary- 
ing slightly in size and markings. 

The Song Sparrow is described on page 106, the White- 
throat on page 154, the Purple Finch on Page 159, the 
Goldfinch on page 216. 



[37] 



THE BOBWHITE OR QUAIL 
American Partridge Family — Odontophoridce 

Length: About 10 inches; the same length as the robin, but 
the quail has a stouter body and a shorter tail. 

General Appearance: A plump, mottled brown bird, with a 
small head, short bill, and short tail. 

Male: Upper parts reddish-brown and chestnut-brown, mottled 
with black, gray, and buff; head slightly crested; 
forehead and line, above eye white, line extending to 
neck; black patch below eye, that curves to enclose 
white throat and forms a band below it; under parts 
whitish, barred with black, except upper part of 
breast which is reddish-brown; tail short, gray, mot- 
tled with buff and a few black flecks. 

Female: Similar to male, except for buff patch over eye and 
buff throat, and less black on head, neck, and 
across breast. In summer, the crown of both sexes 
is darker than in winter ; the buff markings are lighter 
in color. 

Note: Bob-white? Bob-bob-white? A very clear, sweet, musi- 
cal whistle. 

Habitat: Grassy meadows and cultivated fields; farmyards, 
thickets, and swamps during the winter. 

Range: Eastern North America, from southern Canada to the 
Gulf Coast and northern Florida and west to eastern 
Colorado. Usually a resident. 

In Florida, except in the north, is found the FLORIDA 
BOBWHITE, a smaller and darker species. A quail is 
called a partridge in the south. The California 
QUAIL, one of several western species, is very differ- 

[38] 



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ii.'i'"^ 


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N" 


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* 


yl-i 




m^ ... 


f 




BOB-WHITE 



The bobwhite or quail 

ent in appearance from the eastern quail. It has a 
nodding plume on its head and is largely black, 
white, and brownish-gray. 

NO birds of my acquaintance, unless it be bluebirds, 
goldfinches, chickadees, and thrushes, seem so lov- 
able, so interesting, and so altogether desirable as quail. 
Our summer meadows would lose much of their charm 
without the cheery "Bob White" ringing across them. 

The character of human beings is shown in their voices; 
that of birds seems likewise revealed. The note of the 
quail breathes sweetness, tenderness, joy in life, and deep 
contentment. Unless need of food compels it, the killing 
of these nearly human creatures seems to me like the 
"Slaughter of the Innocents." 

Few birds are so devoted to their mates or to their young 
as the quail. Many human parents are less alive to pa- 
rental responsibilities. It is a well-known fact that while 
Mother Quail is sitting upon her second nestful of a dozen 
or more eggs. Father Bob assumes die entire care of the 
large, restless, older brood. 

Most birds love their mates and their young, but quail 
seem to have affection for their brothers and sisters, also. 
The parents and the two broods sometimes remain together 
during the winter. When one member of the family is 
lost, the others give their tender covey-call, to lure home 
the prodigal. There are few sweeter sounds in nature. 
Mr. Forbush says: "When the broods are scattered by 
the gunner, they are reassembled again by a whistled call 
of the old bird, which has been given, ^ka-loi-kee, ka-loU 
kee,* and is answered by the whistled repeated response, 
*whoil-kee.' The syllables almost run together. The 
first call is uttered with a rising and the oilier with a falling 

[39] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

inflection. It is plainly the rallying call and the answer- 

" 1 
ing cry. 

Dallas Lore Sharp, in his charming book "Wild Life 
Near Home," refers to the covey-call as follows: "It 
was the sweetest bird-note I ever heard, being so low, so 
liquid, so mellow that I almost doubted if Bob White 
could make it. But there she stood in the snow with head 
high, listening anxiously. Again she whistled, louder 
this time; and from the woods below came a faint answer- 
ing call, White! The answer seemed to break a spell; and 
on three sides of me sounded other calls. At this the little 
signaler repeated her eff"orts, and each time the answers 
came louder and nearer. Presently something dark hur- 
ried by me over the snow and joined the quail I was watch- 
ing. It was one of the covey I had heard call from the 
woods. 

"Again and again the signal was sent forth, until a 
third, fourth, and finally a fifth were grouped about the 
leader. There was just an audible twitter of welcome and 
gratitude exchanged as each new-comer made his appear- 
ance. Once more the whistle sounded ; but this time there 
was no response across the silent field." 

Young quail are very precocious. They are able to 
run about soon after they are hatched. They early learn 
how to hide and "freeze." A friend told me of coming 
suddenly upon a brood. The mother gave a call and all 
fled instantly, except one that turned into a little brown 
wooden image under a leaf at his feet. He picked it up 
and held it in his hand. Not a motion did it make until 
its mother gave a second call, when it shot out of his hand 
like a flash. 

1 "Useful Birds and Their Protection, E. H. Forbush, page 328. 

[40] 



THE BOBWHITE OR QUAIL 

Another friend told me of her experience in finding a 
lost baby-quail. It was too little and too weak to keep 
up with the family — was probably the last bom. It was 
so tired and distressed that when she knelt down and 
placed her cupped hand near it, the poor little thing ran 
to it, nestled down, and shut its eyes. She discovered the 
brood and carried the baby over to join its family, but it 
seemed loath to leave her. Three times it ran back to 
the warm shelter of her hand. She could hardly bear to 
abandon it to the life that seemed more than it could en- 
dure. 

Dr. Judd made a careful study of the bobwhite. The 
following extracts are from his report: "It is the general 
opinion that with the on-coming of winter the bobwhite is 
found less often in the open fields, when withered her- 
baceous plants afford but scant protection from enemies, 
than in dense bushy, briery coverts and woods. In Mary- 
land and Virginia, the scattered and depleted coveys after 
the shooting season evidently unite into large bevies. 
Their favorite resort is a bank with a southern exposure 
and suitable food-supply. 

"Robert Ridgway found a clutch of freshly deposited 
eggs in soutliern Illinois on October 16, and H. C. Munger 
found another set in Missouri in January, the parent being 
afterwards found frozen on the nest. Authentic records 
show that bobwhite has been known to breed, at least 
occasionally, somewhere in its range every month in the 
year. . . . 

"In Maryland and Virginia large land-owners often 
feed their birds in severe weather. Wheat and corn are 
the best food and should be scattered, if possible, among 
the briers where the birds are safe from hawks. Bob- 

[41] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

whites have been known to feed with chickens in barn- 
yards. By a little forethought land-owners and sportsmen 
can easily make provision for their birds. Sumac bushes 
should be left along hedgerows and the edge of woodland 
to furnish food that is always above the snow and lasts 
well into spring. . . . The bayberry and wax-myrtle last 
until May, also. 

"The food habits of the bobwhite are noteworthy in sev- 
eral respects. Vegetable matter has long been known to 
be an important element in the food of the bobwhite. 
Grain-eating birds are likely to do much harm to 
crops. . . . The bobwhite is a notable exception. Not a 
single sprouting kernel was found in the crops and stom- 
achs of quail examined." ^ 

Dr. Judd enumerates eighty-eight varieties of weed 
seeds that are eaten by quail, and states an amazing num- 
ber eaten at one time. "One bird shot at Marshall Hall 
had eaten 1000 ragweed akenes; another contained [quan- 
tities of] leguminous seeds, mainly tick-trefoil; a third 
had eaten 5000 seeds of green foxtail grass, while a fourth 
had taken about 10000 [infinitesimal] pigweed seeds." ^ 

As an insect-destroyer the bobwhite is of enormous 
value. During the summer, insects form more then one- 
third of its food. Over one hundred varieties had been 
discovered by examination of the stomachs of quail in 
1905, an unusually large proportion of which were highly 
injurious to crops. Mr. Forbush thinks that no farmer 
in Massachusetts can afford to shoot a quail or allow it to 
be shot on his land, and that if the markets must be sup- 
plied, quail must be reared artificially. 

1 & 2 Bulletin No. 21, Bureau of Biological Survey, U. S. Department of 
Agriculture. 

[42] 



THE BOBWHITE OR QUAIL 

Our bobwhite sleeps on the ground. The California 
quail roosts in bushes or trees. One summer evening in 
Santa Barbara it was my privilege to see a charming phase 
of quail family life. I was sitting quietly under a tree on 
a knoll that overlooked a flat shed-roof, when I heard a 
low call, and a whirring of wings. Mother Quail, accom- 
panied by tliirteen little balls of brown feathers, alighted 
on the roof near me. She talked to her adorable family, 
and, judging by their quick responses, she evidently gave 
them numerous commands. They finally ran to the edge 
of the roof and arranged themselves in a row, faces out- 
ward, until she gave anotlier call. Then obediently they 
gathered around her in a true Kindergarten Circle, heads 
outward and tails toward her, all ready for bed. There 
they nestled, until a passer-by disturbed them and, to my 
great regret, they flew away. In a few minutes I heard 
a clear loud ku-ku-kow, and on the same roof alighted 
Father Bob with fifteen restless boys and girls — a veri- 
table Primary Class. He had more trouble in controlling 
them than Mother had experienced with her docile little 
ones; they ran hither and thither in spite of his insistent, 
anxious calls. He succeeded in gathering them about 
him, however; but just as they were forming their circle, 
they, too, were frightened away. 



[43] 



THE RUFFED GROUSE 

Grouse Family — Tetraonidce 

Length: About 17 inches. 

Male: Upper parts reddish-brown, with black, yellowish, gray, 
and whitish markings; large tufts or "ruffs" of glossy 
black feathers at the sides of the neck. Tail long 
and broad, gray and reddish-brown, mottled and 
barred with black, and a broad blackish band near 
the end; when spread, the tail resembles a fan. 
Under parts buffy, becoming white, with black bars 
that are indistinct on breast and belly, and darker 
on the sides; a broken band on the breast. 

Female: Similar to male, but with smaller ruffs on the sides 
of the neck. 

"Love-songf": A loud tattoo or drumming that sounds like a 
thump on a large drum — a tum-tum-tum-tum-tum- 
tup-tup-whir-r-r-r-r-r. This tattoo is most common in 
late winter and early spring, but may be heard in 
the summer and fall. While heard most frequently 
during the day, it may be heard at any hour of the 
night. In making it, the bird usually stands very 
erect on a hollow log or stump, with head held high 
and ruffs erected and spread, and, raising its wings, 
strikes downward and forward. The sound produced 
is a muflfled boom or thump. It begins with a few 
slow beats, gradually growing quicker, and ends in 
a rolling, accelerated "tattoo." ^ 

Habitat: A bird of the woods that nests on the ground. 

Bange: A resident in the northern two-thirds of the United 
States and in the forested parts of Canada. 

iFrom "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush. 

[44] 



THE RUFFED GROUSE 

THE Ruffed Grouse, the finest and most famous 
game-bird of the northern woods, was formerly 
very abundant. Its numbers have greatly decreased 
Like the bobwhite, it responds to protection and may be 
raised under artificial conditions. It eats nearly sixty 
kinds of wild fruit; beechnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, acorns, 
and weed seeds form a large part of its diet. It eats 
some insects, the most important being beetles of various 
kinds. 

Mr. Forbush says: "The female alone undertakes the 
task of incubation and the care of the young. . . . All the 
young grouse in a nest hatch at nearly the same instant; 
their feathers dry very rapidly, and they are soon ready to 
run about. . . . They run about, stealing noiselessly along 
among the dead leaves, under the foliage of ferns and 
shrubbery. . . . Meanwhile, the mother marches slowly 
in the rear, perhaps to guard them against surprise from 
any keen-scented animal that may follow on the trail. 
She seems to be always on the alert, and a single warning 
note from her will cause the young birds to flatten them- 
selves on the ground or to hide under leaves, where they 
will remain motionless until they are trodden upon, rather 
than run the risk of betraying themselves by attempting to 
escape. 

"During the fall, the Grouse keep together in small 
flocks. Sometimes a dozen birds may be found around 
some favorite grape vine or apple tree, but they are usually 
so harried and scattered by gunners that toward winter die 
old birds may sometimes be found alone. 

"As winter approaches, this hardy bird puts on its 
*snowshoes,' which consist of a fringe of homy processes 
or pectinations tliat grow out along each toe, and help to 

[45] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

distribute the weight of the bird over a larger surface, and 
so allow it to walk over snows into which a bird not so 
provided would sink deeply. Its digestion must resemble 
that of the famous Ostrich, as broken twigs and dry leaves 
are ground up in its mill. It is a hard winter that will 
starve the Grouse. A pair spent many winter nights in 
a little cave in the rocky wall of an old quarry. Sumacs 
grew there, and many rank weeds. The birds lived well 
on sumac berries, weed seeds, and buds. 

"Sometimes, but perhaps rarely, these birds are impris- 
oned under the snow by the icy crust which forms in cold 
weather following a rain, but usually they are vigorous 
enough to find a way out somewhere. The Grouse is per- 
fectly at home beneath the snow; it will dive into it to 
escape a Hawk, and can move rapidly about beneath the 
surface and burst out again in rapid flight at some unex- 
pected place. 

"The Ruffed Grouse is a bird of the woodland, and 
though useful in the woods, it sometimes does some injury 
in the orchard by removing too many buds from a single 
tree. In winter and early spring, when other food is bur- 
ied by the snow and hard to obtain, the Grouse lives 
largely on the buds and green twigs of trees; but as spring 
advances, insects form a considerable part of the food. 
The young feed very largely on insects, including many 
very destructive species." ^ 

2 From "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush. 



[46] 








'*-'^^ft^ 



CEDAR WAXWING 



THE CEDAR WAXWING OR CEDAR-BIRD 

Called Locally the "Cherry Bird'* 
Waxwing Family or Bombycillidcs 

Length: A little over 7 inches. 

General Appearance: A grayish-brown bird, with a decided 
crest and a yellow band at end of tail. Plump and 
well-fed in appearance. 

Male and Female: A beautiful, rich grayish-brown with a soft 
yellow breast. Head conspicuously crested; fore- 
head glossy black; a black line above the bill is ex- 
tended toward the top of the head, outlining the 
crest; crest elevated and lowered to express surprise, 
contentment, fear and other emotions; bill and chin 
black; throat blackish. Wings brown, becoming a 
soft gray; wing-feathers with small red tips that look 
like bits of sealing-wax — hence the name, Waxwing. 
Tail light gray, shading to a dark grey, rounded, fan- 
shaped in flight, and edged with a broad yellow 
band. 

Young: Grayish-brown, streaked, and without red tips to their 
wings. 

Note: A gentle lisping tseep, tseep, monotonous and uninter- 
esting. Mr. Forbush says of the waxwing, "It moves 
about in silence, save as it utters a lisping 'beading' 
note or a 'hushed whistle.' " 

Habitat: During the nesting season, devoted pairs may be seen 
in orchards, in red cedars, or in shrubbery by road- 
sides, preferably near trees or bushes laden with 
berries. The birds are rovers, usually flying in 
large flocks. 

Range: North America. Breeds from south-central Canada to 
southern Oregon, northern New Mexico, Kansas, 

[47] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

northern Arkansas, and North Carolina; winters ir- 
regularly throughout nearly all the United States, 
and south to Cuba, Mexico, and Panama. 

CEDAR WAXWINGS are among our most exquisite 
birds in their delicate blending of color and in 
their dainty refinement. They seem to have been tinted 
by a water-color artist, or an expert in the use of pastels. 
Their proverbial good manners seem to preclude any dis- 
turbance of their well-preened feathers by undue haste of 
movement or quarrelsome ruffling. 

My earliest recollections of diese beautiful but rather 
uninteresting birds is of their frequent raids upon a great 
mulberry tree in my grandparents' garden. They gorged 
upon the dead-ripe mulberries with the quiet enjoyment of 
epicures rather than the greedy haste of gourmands. I 
remember, also, my grandmother's dismay at the inroads 
which the "cherry-birds" and robins made upon her cherry 
crop, and my bird-loving grandfather's command that no 
bird should be molested. 

Cedar, juniper, sumac, and mountain ash berries, form 
the winter diet of these frugivorous birds. As a larder 
is speedily exhausted by a flock of from twenty to sixty 
hungry fruit-eaters, they must fly to "pastures new." 
During the spring and summer seasons, diey supplement 
their diet of wild fruit, most of which is of no commer- 
cial value, with beetles that infest potato-patches and elm 
trees, and cankerworms that prey upon apple trees. They 
are very valuable to man, and earn their dessert of culti- 
vated cherries. Mr. Forbush says that they deserve the 
name of "cankerworm birds." 

He writes as follows: "They frequent infested or- 

[48] 



THE CEDAR WAXWING OR CEDAR-BIRD 

chards in large flocks, and fill themselves with the worms 
until they can eat no more. Such little gluttons rarely 
can he found among birds. The Cedar-bird seems to 
have tlie most rapid digestion of any bird with which ex- 
periments have been made. Audubon said that Cedar- 
birds would gorge themselves with fruit until they could 
be taken by hand; and that he had seen wounded birds, 
confined in a cage, eat of apples until suffocated. They 
will stuff" themselves to the very throat. So, wherever 
they feed, their appetites produce a visible eff'ect. Pro- 
fessor Forbes estimates that thirty Cedar-birds will de- 
stroy ninety thousand cankenvorms in a month. This cal- 
culation seems to be far within bounds. 

"Cedar-birds are devoted to each other and to their 
young. Sometimes a row of six or eight may be seen, 
sitting close together on a limb, passing and repassing 
from beak to beak a fat caterpillar or juicy cherry. I 
have seen this touching courtesy but once, and believe it 
was done not so much from politeness as from the fact 
that most of the birds were so full that they had no room 
for more — a condition in which they could aff"ord to be 
generous. Neveilheless, the manner in which it was done, 
and the simulation of tender regard and consideration 
for each other exliibited, rendered it a sight well worth 
seeing. They also have a habit of 'billing' or saluting 
one another with the bill." ^ 

A flock of cedar-birds "seep" and whisper to each other 
like over-fed children. Their note seems to be an expres- 
sion of their gentle, aff"ectionate, comfortable, ease-loving 
natures. There appears to be absence of aspiration or 

1 "Useful Birds and Their Protection"— E. H. Forbush, page 210. 

[49] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

longing in their bird-hearts, which seems so poignant in 
thrushes and many other songsters. 

THE BOHEMIAN WAXWING 

The Bohemian Waxwing is very similar to its cousin, 
the Cedar Waxwing, in color and markings, but may be 
distinguished by its larger size, (8 inches), by reddish- 
brown feathers under the tail, by the absence of yellow on 
the breast, by a crown that is reddish-brown in front, and 
by yellow and white markings on the wings. In note, 
feeding habits, and other characteristics, it resembles the 
Cedar-bird. 

This larger species of waxwing is found in the colder 
regions of the whole Northern Hemisphere. In North 
America it breeds from northern Alaska and northern 
Canada to southern British Columbia and Alberta; win- 
ters east to Nova Scotia and south irregularly to eastern 
California, Colorado, Kansas, southern Illinois, Indiana, 
Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. It is a rare winter 
visitor in Massachusetts. 



[50] 







TUFTED TITMOUSE 



THE TUFTED TITMOUSE OR TOMTIT 

Titmouse Family — Paridcs 

Length: About 6 inches; a little smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

General Appearance: A slender, active, gray and white bird, 
with a crest. Its reddish-brown sides are not visible 
at a distance. The titmouse need never be confused 
with the waxwing; it is much smaller, and lacks the 
yellow and red markings on tail and wings. 

Male and Female: Head conspicuously crested; crest gray 
and pointed; forehead black; bill short, sharp, 
black; back, wings, and tail gray; under parts 
whitish, with a reddish-brown wash on the sides. 

Call-note: De-de-de-de, similar to one of the chickadee's notes, 
but louder. 

Song: A loud, sweet, clear whistle: Pe'-to, pe'-to, pe'-to, pe'-to, 
pe'-to, frequently repeated five times. The titmouse 
is called locally the "Peter-bird." 

Habitat: Woodlands; open groves of hard-wood trees pre- 
ferred. 

Range : Rare in New England. From Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, 
Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, south 
to central Texas, the Gulf Coast, and Florida; occa- 
sional in Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, and Con- 
necticut. Common permanent resident near Wash- 
ington, especially in winter. 

NO winter bird more truly exemplifies protective col- 
oring than the lively crested Tomtit, unless it be 
his little cousin, the Black-capped Chickadee. This so- 
ber-hued titmouse is such a blending of the grays and 
blacks of tree-trunk and icy brook, of the dazzling white of 

[51] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

snow and the soft gray shadows that lie across it, of red- 
dish-brown shrubs and weeds, that he might escape notice 
except for his conspicuous crest. He can be distinguished 
from the cedar waxwing at a glance by his reddish sides, 
and because of the absence of a yellow band across the tail 
and of conspicuous black, white, and red patches or mark- 
ings. 

Few more active birds exist than titmice. They are at 
once the envy and the despair of aspiring small boys who 
know them, because of their extreme agility — their ability 
to perform acrobatic feats. They swing head downward 
from twigs in the search for their favorite food of insect- 
eggs; they seem strung on wires. 

In the woodlands frequented by tufted titmice, they are 
as much in evidence as blue jays, because of their loud, 
clear peto-peto-peto-peto-peto, a welcome and pleasant 
sound during belated spring days or a bleak March "sug- 
aring-off" season. 

They are less friendly than chickadees, but are not shy, 
so they can be observed easily. They are very sociable 
with their kind, and are found, "playing around" with 
chickadees, nuthatches, and downy woodpeckers in the 
winter-time, and snuggling close together in old nest-holes 
during winter weather. In the spring, titmice use hol- 
lowed trees for their nesting sites and have been known to 
welcome a nesting-box. 

These birds do enormous good, not only in eating insect- 
eggs, but in destroying caterpillars, cutworms, beetles, 
weevils, flies, wasps, plant-lice, and scale-insects in their 
season.^ They will eat berries, nuts, and acorns during 
the winter and are extremely hardy. 

1 Farmers' Bulletin 630, Biological Survey, U. S. Department of Agri- 
culture. 

[52] 




■^ 





r, — 




CHICKADEE 



THE CHICKADEE OR BLACK-CAPPED TITMOUSE 

Titmouse Family — Paridce 

Length: About 51/4 inches. 

General Appearance: A very active little gray and white bird, 
with a black cap and throat and dull yellowish sides. 

Male and Female: Head and throat a glistening black; sides 
of head white; bill small, black, sharp-pointed; back 
a soft brownish-gray; wings and tail gray, edged 
with white; breast white, becoming yellowish at the 
sides below the wings. 

Song: Chick-a-dee-dee-dee, uttered with gurgles and chuckles, 
and with variations. 

Call-notes: Day -day, and a whistle that resembles the word 
Pe-ivhee. The latter note is often called the "Phoebe 
note," and sometimes the "Pewee note." To me it 
resembles neither; it is not hoarse and wheezing like 
the phcebe's, nor plaintive like the pewee's. The 
last syllable has a descending inflection. 

Flight: Very swift and jerky. 

Habitat: Woodlands, orchards, and groves. 

Range: Eastern North America, from the Hudson Bay region 
and N. F., south to central Missouri, Illinois, north- 
ern Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, northern Now 
Jersey, and in the Alleghany Mts. to North Carolina; 
somewhat farther south in winter. 

The CAROLINA CHICKADEE, a smaller species, breeds 
from central Missouri, Indiana, central Ohio, Penn- 
sylvania (infrequently), and central New Jersey, 
south to southeastern Louisiana, the Gulf Coast and 
northern Florida. In southern Florida, are found 
the FLORIDA CHICKADEES, that are still smaller and 
browner. 

[53] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

In the White Mts., the Green Mts., the Adirondacks, 
and southeastern Canada live Acadian chickadees, 
that differ from the preceding species in having 
brownish-gray crowns, and reddish-brown sides. A 
similarly marked species, slightly larger, is found 
from Ontario to Alaska. 

DURING tiresome days of a winter convalescence, 
spent largely on a sleeping-porch that overlooked a 
beautiful hillside, my most constant and cheering compan- 
ions were lively little chickadees. Their blending with the 
winter landscape was perfect. Whether they were seen 
against the black snow-laden trunks or smooth gray boles 
of beeches, or among yellowish willow-withes, they were 
bits of color harmony. 

These active little gymnasts, performing unexpected 
feats in their swinging from horizontal bars, furnished 
pleasant diversion, while their friendly, confiding ways, 
their undaunted fearlessness, and their optimism cheered 
lonely hours. 

An ice-storm necessitated the spreading of a table for 
our brave little all-kinds-of-weather friends. They came 
in pairs, grew very tame, and drew near to us like confid- 
ing children who knew that no harm would befall them. 
They acted as though our care of them was the most nat- 
ural thing in the world. Chickadees have never seemed to 
me to "grow up," but always to remain the trusting little 
ones of the bird-world, too small to be out alone, and yet, 
like children, to fare forth with confidence that their needs 
would be supplied. 

They repay a thousand-fold any care bestowed upon 
them. Dr. Judd reported finding in the stomach of one 
black-capped chickadee between 200 and 300 eggs of the 

[54] 



THE CHICKADEE OR BLACK-CAPPED TITMOUSE 

fall cankerworm motli, and 450 eggs of a plant louse in 
another. Mr. C. E. Bailey computed that one chickadee 
alone would destroy 138,750 eggs of the cankerworm 
moth in 25 days, while Prof. Sanderson estimated that 
8,000,000,000 insects are destroyed yearly in Michigan 
by these invaluable little birds/ 

"Much of the daylight life of the chickadee is spent in a 
busy, active pursuit of, or search for, insects and their 
eggs. This is particularly the case in winter, when hiber- 
nating insects or their eggs must be most diligently sought, 
for then starvation always threatens. But the chickadee 
is one of the few insectivorous birds that is keen-witted 
enough to find abundant food and safe shelter during the 
inclement northern winter. Nevertheless, its busy search 
for food is sometimes interrupted for so long a time during 
severe storms, when the trees are encased in ice, that it dies 
from cold and hunger. During a sleet storm Mr. C. E. 
Bailey saw two chickadees creep under the loose clapboards 
of an old building for shelter. Their tails were so 
weighted down with ice that they could hardly fly, and had 
he not cared for them they might have perished. 

"The chickadee, notwithstanding its hardiness, requires 
protection from cold winds and storms at night. It finds 
such shelter either in some hollow tree or in some deserted 
bird nest. Late one cold and snowy afternoon Mr. Bailey 
detected a movement in a cavity under an old crow's nest, 
and on climbing the tree he found two chickadees nestling 
there. They remained there until he had climbed to the 
nest and put his hand on one, when they flew out, only to 
return before he reached the ground. Minot speaks of a 

1 Educational Leaflet No. 61, National Association of Audubon Societies, 

[55] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

chickadee that slept alone in winter in a phoebe's nest un- 
der his veranda. It retires to its refuge rather early at 
night, and does not come out until the Tree Sparrow, Song 
Sparrow, and Junco are abroad.' 



" 2 



2 "Useful Birds and Their Protection," E. H. Forbush, page 166. 



[56] 



THE GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET 

Old World Warbler Family — Sylviidoe 

Length: About 4 inches; smaller than the chickadee. 

Male: Olive-green above, grayish-white underneath; crown 
with a bright red center, bordered on each side by 
bright yellcnv, and by a black stripe that edges the 
yellow; a light line over the eye; wings and tail 
brown; tail forked. 

Female: Like male, but without the red in the center of the 
yellow-and-black crown. 

Call-note: A weak tzee, tzee, highly pitched. 

Song: William Brewster, in the Auk for 1888, describes the 
song as follows: [It] "begins with a succession of 
five or six fine, shrill, high-pitched somewhat falter- 
ing notes, and ends with a short, rapid, rather ex- 
plosive warble. The opening notes are given in a 
rising key, but the song falls rapidly at the end. 
The whole may be expressed as follows: tzee, tzee, 
tzee, tzee, ti, ti, ter, ti-ti-ti-ti." 

Habitat: Woodlands, where kinglets are usually found near 
the ends of branches, of coniferous trees especially. 

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds in the tree-regions of 
central Canada, south in the Rocky Mts. to northern 
Arizona, New Mexico, and to Michigan, New York, 
and mountains of Massachusetts, and in the higher 
Alleghanies south to North Carolina; winters from 
Iowa, Ontario, New Brunswick, to northern Florida 
and Mexico. 

THOUGH the Golden-crowned Kinglet is one of our 
smallest birds, it braves the rigors of winter in the 
United States. It may be seen from the latter part 

[57] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

of September until April or early May, when it goes to 
its more northerly nesting ground. 

Kinglets and chickadees are industrious searchers for 
insects' eggs. Their value is almost inestimable. Mr. 
Forbush tells of watching the "Gold-crest" hunt for its food 
among the pines. He says: "The birds were fluttering 
about among the trees. Each one would hover for a mo- 
ment before a tuft of pine *needles,' and then either alight 
upon it and feed or pass on to another. I examined the 
'needles' after the Kinglets had left them, and could find 
nothing on them; but when a bird was disturbed before it 
had finished feeding, the spray from which it had been 
driven was invariably found to be infested with numerous 
black specks, the eggs of plant lice. Evidently the birds 
were cleaning each spray thoroughly, as far as they 
went." ^ 

Mr. Forbush tells also of observing the work of seven 
kinglets in a grove of white pine which "must have been 
infested with countless thousands of these eggs, for the 
band of Kinglets remained there until March 25, almost 
three months later, apparently feeding most of the time on 
these eggs. When they had cleared the branches, the little 
birds fluttered about the trunks, hanging poised on busy 
wing, like Hummingbirds before a flower, meanwhile rap- 
idly pecking the clinging eggs from the bark. In those 
three months they must have suppressed hosts of little tree 
pests, for I have never seen birds more industrious and as- 
siduous in their attentions to the trees. One might expect 
such work of Creepers or of Woodpeckers ; but the Kinglets 

1 "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush, pages 161, 
162, 163. 

[58] 



THE GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET 

seemed to have departed from their usual habits of glean- 
ing among limbs and foliage, to take the place of the mis- 
sing Creepers, not one of which was seen in the grove last 
winter." ^ 

2 "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush, pages 
161, 162, 163. 



[59] 



THE CAROLINA WREN 



Wren Family — Troglodytidce 

"Length: About 5i/^ inches; the largest of the six more com- 
mon eastern wrens. 

Male and Female: Reddish-brown above; no bars or streaks, 
except on wings and tail, and occasionally under- 
neath the body, near the tail; a long light line over 
the eye, extending to the shoulders; under parts buff 
with a broAvnish wash; throat white. 

Notes I "Wren-like chucks of annoyance or interrogation," and 
"a peculiar fluttering k-r-r-r-r-uck, which resembles 
the bleating call of a tree-toad." ^ 

Song: A loud clear whistle, consisting of three similar sylla- 
bles, with variations. 

Habitat: Thickets, vines, and undergrowth. 

Range: Eastern United States. Breeds from southeastern Ne- 
braska, Iowa, Ohio, southern Pennsylvania, the lower 
Hudson and Connecticut valleys south to central 
Texas, Gulf States, and northern Florida; casual 
north to Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, Massachu- 
setts, New Hampshire, and Maine. 

PROFESSOR REAL writes of this interesting wren as 
follows: "The Carolina wren is resident from the 
Gulf of Mexico north to the southern boundaries of Iowa, 
Illinois, and Connecticut in the breeding season, but in 
wifiter it withdraws somewhat farther south. It is a bird 
of the thicket and undergrowth, preferring to place its 
nest in holes and crannies, but when necessary, will build 

^From Witmer Stone in Educational Leaflet No. 50, National Associa- 
tion of Audubon Societies. 

[60] 



THE CAROLINA WREN 

a bulky structure in a tangle of twigs and vines. Unlike 
the house wren it does not ordinarily use the structures of 
man for nesting sites. 

"It is one of the few American birds that sing through- 
out the year. Most birds sing, or try to, in the mating 
season, but the Carolina wren may be heard pouring forth 
his melody of song every month. The writer's first in- 
troduction to this bird was in the month of January when 
he heard gushing from a thicket a song which reminded 
him of June instead of midwinter. 

"This wren keeps up the reputation of the family as 
an insect-eater, as over nine-tenths of its diet consists 
of insects and their allies." Stomach analysis shows that 
the vegetable food of the Carolina wren is largely seeds of 
trees and shrubs and some wild berries. He concludes: 
"From this analysis of the food of the Carolina wren, it is 
evident that the farmer and fruit-grower have not the slight- 
est cause for complaint against the bird. It eats neither 
cultivated fruit nor grain, and does not even nest in an or- 
chard tree; but it does feed on numerous injurious insects 
and enlivens the tangled thickets with its cheerful songs 
for twelve months of the year." ^ 

Dr. Witmer Stone writes of the song of the Carolina wren 
as follows: "His most characteristic song has been lik- 
ened by Mr, Chapman to tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle, 
and to whee-udle, whee-udle, whee-udle. Wilson wrote it 
sweet-william, sweet-william, sweet-william; and to Audu- 
bon it seemed to say come-to-me, come-to-me, come-to-me. 
It has variations recalling forms in the Cardinal's song, 
and also that of the Tufted Titmouse; and the Wren after 

2 Farmers' Bulletin 755, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey. 

[61] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

repeating one form for some time, often changes suddenly 
to another producing a rather startling effect, as if another 
bird has taken its place." ^ 



8 From Witmer Stone, in Educational Leaflet No. 50, National Associa- 
t'on of Audubon Societies. 



[62] 



THE WINTER WREN 

Wren Family — Troglodytidoe 

Length: About 4 inches; the same size as the golden-crowned 
kinglet. 

Male and Female: Similar in appearance to the house wren, 
but smaller and with a shorter tail; body brown, 
mostly barred with fine, black lines; light line over 
the eye; under parts darker than those of the house 
wren, with a buff wash across throat and breast. 

Song: A very beautiful song, unusually loud for so small a 
bird. Those fortunate enough to hear it are extrav- 
agant in their praise. Mr. Eaton calls it the sweet- 
est melody that he and his associates heard in the 
Adirondacks, excelling even the thrushes. 

Habitat: Brush heaps, thickets in woods, along streams, and 
in wild rocky places. 

Range: Breeds from southern Canada to Minnesota, Wiscon- 
sin, Michigan, New York, and Massachusetts, through 
the Alleghanies to North Carolina; winters from 
about its southern breeding limit to Texas and north- 
ern Florida. 

EATON says: "During the migration, this little 
wren is commonly observed about the shrubbery of 
our lawns, parks, and the edges of woods, when disturbed 
retreating to the recesses of some brush pile or under the 
damp edges of the stream bank. A few remain through- 
out the winter in western and central New York, and it is 
fairly common as a winter resident in the southeastern 
portion of the State, but in the principal breeding range 

[63] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

of the Adirondacks and Catskills it is only a summer resi- 
dent." ^ It is a rather common winter visitor near Wash- 
ington, and rare in New England. 

1 From Eaton's "Birds of New York." 



[64] 




DOWNY AND HAIRY WOODPECKERS 



THE DOWNY WOODPECKER 

Woodpecker Family — Picidce 

Length: A little over 6^^ inches; the smallest of our wood- 
peckers. 

General Appearance: A small black and white bird, with a 
white stripe extending down the middle of its back; 
a red patch on back of male's head. The tail is used 
for a prop as the woodpecker climbs tree-trunks. 

Male: Upper parts black and white; crown of head black with 
red patch at nape; two broad white stripes above and 
below eye; a broad white stripe down the center of 
back; wings spotted and barred with white; tail 
sharply pointed; the long tail-feathers, black; the 
short outer tail-feathers, white barred with black; 
bill long, strong, with a tuft of feathers at its base. 

Female : • Like male, except for the absence of a red patch on 
the head. 

Notes: A call-note Peek-peek. A metallic Tut-tut-tut' -tut-tut- 
tut-tut might be considered the Downy's song, but he 
belongs really to the group of songless birds. He 
beats loud tattoos on the boughs of trees, especially 
at mating time. 

Flight: Labored, jerky, with a characteristic shutting of the 
wings against the sides. 

Habitat: Tree-trunks in woods and orchards, and on lawns. 
The Downy is our most common woodpecker, and a 
permanent resident. 

Range: Northern and central parts of eastern North America, 
from Alberta, Manitoba, and Ungava, south to east- 
ern Nebraska, Kansas, the Potomac Valley, and in 
the mountains to North Carolina. 

[65] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

The SOUTHERN DOWNY WOODPECKER of the South 
Atlantic and Gulf States is smaller and browner than 
its northern relative. 

THE Downy Woodpecker is a member of a family of 
birds that has attracted man's attention since the old 
days of superstition. Various myths have grown up 
around these birds; those of the American Indians are 
possibly the most interesting. Until recently, woodpeck- 
ers have been persecuted by the white man, because of 
tlieir habit of pecking at trees whicb they were thought to 
kill. Many have been unjustly slain. 

While one branch of the family, the Sapsuckers, have 
done a great deal of harm to forests where they breed, and 
other woodpeckers have done occasional damage, it is now 
known that they are invaluable as preservers of our trees. 
Entomologists and foresters consider them the greatest 
enemies known of spruce-bark beetles and sap-wood bor- 
ers. As borers are found near the surface in living trees, 
the holes made by woodpeckers while extracting them soon 
heals and leaves little mark. 

An examination of the structure of woodpeckers shows 
the admirable way in which they are fitted for their work. 
They have short, stout legs; strong feet, usually with two 
toes in front and two in the back; large claws, and stiff 
tails tipped with sharp spines, to aid them in supporting 
themselves firmly against tree-trunks and branches. Mr. 
Forbush says: "The bird is thus more fully equipped 
for climbing than a telegraph lineman. The claws and 
tail take the place of the man's hand and spurs." ^ 

Professor Beal writes the following: "As much of the 

1 From "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush. 

[66] 



THE DOWNY WOODPECKER 

food of woodpeckers is obtained from solid wood, Nature 
has provided most of them with a stout beak having a 
chisel-shaped point which forms an exceedingly effective 
instrument. But the most peculiar and interesting point 
in the anatomy of these birds is the tongue. This is more 
or less cylindrical in form and usually very long. At 
the anterior end it generally terminates in a hard point, 
with more or less barbs upon the sides. Posteriorly the 
typical woodpecker tongue is extended in two long, 
slender filaments of the hyoid bone which curl up around 
the back of the skull and, while they commonly stop be- 
tween the eyes, in some species they pass around the eye, 
but in others enter the right nasal opening and extend to 
the end of the beak. In this last case the tongue is prac- 
tically twice the length of the head. Posteriorly this organ 
is inclosed in a muscular sheath by means of which it can 
be extruded from the mouth to a considerable length, and 
used as a most effective instrument for dislodging grubs or 
ants from their burrows in wood or bark. Hence, while 
most birds have to be content with such insects as they 
find on the surface or in open crevices, the woodpeckers 
devote their energies to those larvae or grubs which are 
beneath the bark or even in the heart of the tree. They 
locate their hidden prey with great accuracy, and often cut 
small holes directly to the burrows of the grubs." ^ 

Mr. Forbush calls attention to the wonderfully con- 
structed bead of a woodpecker "which is built so that it 
can withstand hard and continuous hammering. The skull 
is very thick and hard. Its connection with the beak is 
strong, but at the same time springy, and somewhat jar- 

2 Bulletin No. 37, U, S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey. 

[67] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

deadening. The membrane which surrounds the brain 
is very thick and strong." ^ 

The Downy is the smallest member of the woodpecker 
family in North America, and is one of the most useful. 
He is especially fond of orchards and shade trees, 
and not only devours insects that infest them during the 
spring and summer, but eats the eggs they laid in the 
crevices of the bark during the winter. One Downy alone 
is of inestimable value in an orchard or a grove. Mr. 
Forbush writes as follows: "When the Metropolitan 
Park Commission first began to set out young trees along 
the parkways of Boston, some species of trees were at- 
tacked by borers; but the Downy Woodpeckers found them 
out and extracted the grubs, saving most of the tre^. 

"The untiring industry of this bird and the perfection 
of its perceptive powers may be shown by the experience 
of Mr. Bailey. On March 28, 1899, a Downy Woodpecker 
that he watched climbed over and inspected one hundred 
and eighty-one woodland trees between 9:40 A. m. and 
12:15 P.M., and made twenty-six excavations for food. 
Most of these holes exposed galleries in the trunks in high 
branches where wood-boring ants were hiding. . . . These 
ants often gain an entrance at some unprotected spot on a 
living tree, and so excavate the wood of the trunk that the 
tree is blown down by the wind. This woodpecker acts as 
a continual check on the increase of such ants." ^ 

The Downy may easily be attracted to our yards by a 
piece of suet fastened securely to a tree. During the past 
winter, one has sought my suet-cage, in company with 
chickadees and nuthatches. This spring he brought his 

3&4From "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush, 
pages 245, 246, 252, 253. 

[68] 



THE DOWNY WOODPECKER 

mate to a maple in front of the house. He has seemed 
excited and happy, and has drummed persistently on a 
certain broken limb of the tree. He has indulged in nu- 
merous rapid flights and his metallic, ringing call. 



[69] 



THE HAIRY WOODPECKER 
Woodpecker Family — Picidoe 

Length: About 9^ inches; nearly ^ larger than the Downy, 
whom he resembles almost identically as to general 
appearance, except in size. 

Male: Black and white above; white underneath; broad white 
stripe down the middle of the back; head with black 
and white stripes, a red patch at the back, and bris- 
tles at the bill; wings black, with white stripes and 
bars; tail black, with white outside feathers; the ab- 
sence of black flecks on the tail-feathers and the 
larger size of the bird distinguishes the Hairy from 
the Downy. 

Female: Like male, except for the absence of a red patch on 
the head. 

Note: A loud, shrill call, difficult to imitate or to reproduce 
on paper for identification. The Hairy also "drums" 
on the boughs of trees; it has no real song. 

Habitat: Tree-trunks in woodlands, rather than in orchards or 
gardens, though I have noticed these woodpeckers in 
winter frequenting the trees of village streets with- 
out shyness or fear. During the breeding season, 
they remain in secluded spots in the woods. 

Range: Three species of the Hairy Woodpecker may be found 
in Canada and the United States; the northern 

HAIRY WOODPECKER, the HAIRY WOODPECKER, and the 

SOUTHERN HAIRY WOODPECKER. The northern species 
lives in the tree-zone of Canada, and is the largest of 
the three; the Hairy, next in size, may be found in 
the United States from Colorado, Nebraska, and 
Oklahoma, to the middle and northern parts of the 
Eastern States. The Southern Hairy, the smallest of 
the three, is a resident of our southern section. 
[70] 



THE HAIRY WOODPECKER 

THE Hairy Woodpecker is so like his small Downy 
relative in appearance and habits that his character- 
istics are not usually dwelt upon; he is like an older neg- 
lected cousin of a baby upon whom much attention is 
lavished. 

But he is very worth while attracting. He is as untiring 
as the Downy in his quest for beetles, his favorite kind of 
tree-food; he is also a lover of ants and other "borers." 
His longer bill enables him ta reach many that the Downy 
cannot. One Hairy Woodpecker alone saved an entire 
orchard that had become infested with "borers." One 
tree had died before he began his rescue-work, but he 
saved all the others.^ 

He likes the caterpillars of the cecropia and gypsy 
moths. He eats much vegetable food, especially during 
the winter; he has been known to take an occasional bite 
of the soft inner bark of trees and a drink of sap which he 
has well earned. Like the Downy, he will eat suet in the 
winter season. 

Mr. Forbush writes: "While this bird often excavates 
a hole for winter shelter, it sometimes sleeps exposed on 
a tree-trunk. Mr. Bailey and I once watched one that 
slept for many winter nights on the north side of a tree 
trunk in a thick grove. It attached its claws to the bark 
and went to sleep in much the same position in which it 
ordinarily climbed the tree. It invariably went to the 
same tree at night, and was found in the same place at 
daylight every morning." ^ 

1 & 2 "Useful Birds and Their Protection"— E. H. Forbush, pages 259 & 
260. 



[71] 



THE WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH 

Nuthatch Family — Sittidce 

Length: About 6 inches. 

General Appearance: A short, thickset bird, blue-gray, black, 
and white. Bill long; tail short and square. 

Male: Mostly bluish-gray above; white underneath, shading to 
reddish-brown at sides and under tail; top of head 
and nape a shining blue-black; sides of head 
and throat white; wings gray shading to brown, 
edged and tipped with light gray or white; shoulders 
gray and black; bill large and strong, (% of an 
inch in length) ; tail short and square-cut; middle 
feathers bluish-gray; outer ones black, with large 
white patches near tips; legs short; feet large and 
strong; hind toe unusually long, with a long, sharp 
nail. 

Female: Head a dull grayish-black; otherwise like male. 

Notes: A nasal crank-crank, which, though not melodious, is 
not unpleasant to hear. Dr. Chapman says: "There 
is such a lack of sentiment in the Nuthatch's char- 
acter, he seems so matter-of-fact in all his ways, that 
it is difficult to imagine him indulging in anything 
like song. But even he cannot withstand the con- 
quering influences of spring, and at that season he 
raises his voice in a peculiar monotone — a tenor 
hah-hah-hah-hah-hah — sounding strangely like mirth- 
less laughter." ^ 

Flight: Undulating. 

Habitat: Trunks of trees, which he ascends and descends. 

^ From "BirHs of Eastern North America," by Frank M. Chapman. 

[72] 




NUTHATCH 



THE WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH 

The other tree-trunk birds, except the black and 
white warbler, usually ascend trees. 
Range: North America, east of the Plains. A permanent resi- 
dent, though irregularly distributed. Breeds from 
central Canada to the northern parts of the Gulf 
States. 

OF the so-called tree-trunk birds, none are easier to 
identify than nuthatches, because of their habit 
of descending trees. Woodpeckers jerk themselves up a 
tree somewhat as men might ascend telegraph-poles or 
smooth slippery palm trees. Creepers wind spirally about 
trunks in a gentle, unobtrusive manner. Both wood- 
peckers and creepers use their sharply-pointed tails as 
props. Not so the nuthatches. They care not how they 
go — "uphill or down dale" — all is one to them. They are 
as sure-footed as burros descending the Grand Canyon. 
If they depart from their trail, and decide to leap from 
crag to crag of their arboreal cliffs, they alight on their 
strong feet with something of the assurance of a cat. 
Their tails are not necessary to them as supports. 

It is interesting to inquire into the reasons for curious 
habits of birds. In the economy of Nature one finds mar- 
velous adaptations and harmonies. Mr. Francis H. 
Allen, in his delightful sketch written for the National As- 
sociation of Audubon Societies, speaks of the nuthatch as 
"filling a gap in nature" by approaching his prey from an 
angle not possible to woodpeckers and creepers. Mr. 
Allen says: "He would not have adopted so unusual a 
method of feeding if it had not stood him in good stead. 
I suspect that by approaching his prey from above he de- 
tects insects and insect-eggs in the crevices of the bark 
which would be hidden from another point of view. The 

[73] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

woodpeckers and the creepers can take care of the rest. 
Of course these other birds get something of a downward 
view as they bend their heads forward, but the Nuthatch 
has the advantage of seeing, before he gets to them, some 
insects which even a Brown Creeper's gentle approach 
would scare into closer hiding in their holes and cran- 
nies." 2 

In addition to beetles, moths, caterpillars, ants, and 
wasps, the nuthatch eats seeds, waste grain, and nuts such 
as acorns, beechnuts, and chestnuts.^ His habit of wedg- 
ing nuts into some crevice that will hold them securely, and 
then using his strong bill as a hatchet to "hatch" open the 
nuts is well-known. From that habit he derives his name, 
which Mr. Forbush says originated probably from nuthack 
or nuthacker. The bird does much good, and no harm 
that is known. 

He is active and cheerful, inquisitive, and intelligent. 
He makes an interesting winter companion. During an 
ice-storm in Asheville, N. C, a nuthatch was attracted by 
fragments of bread scattered for the hungry winter birds 
during their famine time. This nuthatch pounced on 
large crumbs so greedily and purloined them so rapidly 
that my sisters feared he would die of acute indigestion! 
They finally discovered that he had wedged the crumbs 
into large crevices in the bark of a tree near by, and had 
stowed one good-sized crust in a hole in a telegraph-pole. 
When he had appropriated most of the bread, he spent the 
day feasting, going from one store house to another. 

A nuthatch in Massachusetts frequently sought an im- 

2 Educational Leaflet No. 59. 

3 Farmers' Bulletin 513 — Biological Survey, U. S. Department of Agri- 
culture. 

[74] 



THE WHITEBREASTED NUTHATCH 

provised feeding-table made from a bluebird's nesting- 
box. One cold morning the owner saw him emerging from 
the box, where he had evidently "spent the night sitting on 
his breakfast," literally seated in the lap of luxury. He 
reminded me of that delicious tale I loved to read and con- 
template during childhood, — of the children who lived in 
a candy house and ate their way out of it! 

Another New England nuthatch, one that I watched at 
my feeding-table, at first made rapid inroads upon the suet- 
cage, storing pieces in the cracks of a tree near by. I saw 
him tuck one large crumb beneath a warped shingle of the 
chicken-house, evidently laying it up for an icy day, in- 
stead of the proverbial rainy one. When an unusually se- 
vere ice-storm occurred, he returned to his store house 
and the crumb disappeared. I had the satisfaction of hav- 
ing assisted him in his dire need. 



[75] 



THE RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH 

Nuthatch Family — Sittidce 

THE Red-breasted Nuthatch is very similar to its 
white-breasted cousin except that it is smaller, 
(4/4 to 5 inches), and is yellowish or ^'rusty^* underneath, 
(except for a white throat), has a white stripe on each side 
of its black crown, and a black stripe extending through 
the eye. The head of the female is gray, with white and 
gray stripes. 

This species is not so well known as the white-breasted 
nuthatch, because it frequents coniferous forests or woods 
that contain evergreens. It breeds from the Upper Yukon 
Valley, central Canada, and northern United States, and 
winters as far south as lower California, New Mexico, 
Arizona, and the Gulf Coast. 

Mr. Allen says of this bird: "To those who know it the 
Red-breasted Nuthatch is dear out of all proportion to its 
size and its musical attainments. It is livelier than its big 
cousin, and prettier in its markings, and there is something 
particularly fetching about its quaint little form. It is 
even less of a songster than the white-breasted species, for 
prolongations and repetitions of its call-note seem to be 
all it has that can pass for a song. This call-note can be 
rendered as aap. It is nasal, like that of the White- 
breasted Nuthatch, but much higher in pitch, more drawl- 
ing, and lacks the r. It has been happily likened to the 
sound of a tiny trumpet or tin horn. 

[76] 



THE RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH 

"The habits of the Red-breasted Nuthatch are so like 
those of the White-breasted that much that I have said 
about that species is applicable to this. The most striking 
difference is in the favorite haunts of the two birds, the 
Red-breasted preferring the coniferous woods, or mixed 
woods tliat contain a large proportion of evergreens. In 
those winters when they are found in southern New Eng- 
land, they come freely to the neighborhood of man's dwell- 
ings and feed familiarly on the supplies provided for the 
winter birds, but even there they show their partiality for 
coniferous trees. They are particularly fond of the seeds 
of pines and spruces, so that they are much more vegetar- 
ian than their white-breasted cousins. They have the 
same habit of hiding their savings in cracks and crev- 
ices." ^ 

1 Educational Leaflet No. 59, National Association of Audubon Societies. 



[77] 



THE BROWN CREEPER 

Creeper Family— Certhiidce 

Length: About 5^ inches. 

Male and Female; Brown above, mottled with gray, buff, and 
white; under parts white. A whitish line aver eye; 
bill long, curved; a bar of buff across wings; tail- 
feathers long, sharply pointed; upper tail-coverts 
bright reddish-brown. 

Note: A faint, monotonous, skreek-skreek, skreek-skreek. 

Song: According to Brewster, the brown creeper sings an un- 
usually sweet song during the nesting season. 

Habitat: Tree-trunks, which are carefully inspected by these 
industrious birds. 

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from Nebraska, In- 
diana, the mountains of North Carolina «nd Massa- 
chusetts north to southern Canada; also in the 
mountains of western North America from Alaska to 
Nicaragua; winters over most of its range. 

THE Brown Creeper should inherit the earth, for he 
is one of the -most perfect examples of meekness 
that may be found. Small, slight, self-effacing, untiring 
in his work, he reminds one of a quiet industrious person 
who performs unremittingly small tasks that amount to a 
large total. 

He is a searcher for insect-eggs, and for insects so small 
that they might escape the notice of eyes not peculiarly 
fitted to espy them. His long bill is slender enough to 
slip into -crevices which neither nuthatches nor woodpeck- 
ers investigate. Possibly it is because he selects such tiny 

[78] 




HROWN CREKPEK 



THE BROWN CREEPER 

particles of food that he must work so industriously in or- 
der to get enough to eat. He seems always in a hurry. 
Mr. Frank Chapman has humorously described the brown 
creeper as follows: 

"After watching him for several minutes, one becomes 
impressed with the fact that he has lost the only thing in 
the world he ever cared for, and that his one object in life 
is to find it. Ignoring you completely, with scarcely a 
pause, he winds his way in a preoccupied, near-sighted 
manner up a tree-trunk. Having finally reached the top 
of his spiral staircase, one might suppose he would rest 
long enough to survey his surroundings, but like a bit of 
loosened bark he drops off to the base of the nearest tree 
and resumes his never-ending task." * 

The creeper is not easy to find. He is so wonderfully 
protected by his dull brown feathers that he looks more 
like an animated lichen than a bird. His nest is a clev- 
erly camouflaged affair, tucked behind loose bark and 
often containing eight whitish eggs about the size of 
beans. 

We are surprised to learn that this patient, hard-working 
little creature has the soul of a poet. His sweet nesting 
song, reserved for his mate brooding in the woods, 
breathes exquisite tenderness and beauty. 

^ From "Birds of Eastern North America," by Frank M. Giapman. 



[79] 



THE STARLING 

Starling Family — Sturnidce 

Length: About S^/. inches. 

General Appearance: A short-tailed, long-billed black bird 
with flecks of brown that look like freckles. 

Male and Female: Head purple, flecked with light brown 
spots; body purple and green, the purple predom- 
inating on back and sides, the green on the breast. 
In summer, the upper parts and sides are speckled, 
the breast and belly dark, and the bill yellow. In 
winter, the upper parts are spotted with light brown, 
the under parts with white; the bill is brown until 
January, when it begins to turn yellow. 

Notes: Squeaks and gurgles, interspersed with pleasant musi- 
cal notes. A flock of starlings make a great deal 
of noise. 

Range: Numerous starlings live in the Eastern Hemisphere. 
A number of them were brought to America in 1890 
and released in Central Park, New York City. They 
have increased in number and enlarged their range 
greatly. They have spread northward and south- 
ward; they are now reasonably common near Boston 
and Washington, as well as New York and other 
places In the East. 

IN the winter, starlings are easily identified, because 
they are the only black birds smaller than crows to be 
found in some localities. In the springs they may be 
readily distinguished from grackles because they have 
yellow bills, dark eyes, and short, square tails, while 

[80] 



THE STARLING 

grackles have dark bills, yellow eyes, and long tails. 
Both starlings and grackles are iridescent; a near view re- 
veals the spotted plumage of the starlings and the irides- 
cent bars on the backs of the purple grackles. 

Major Bendire says that starlings possess unusual adapt- 
ability and can make their nests in a great variety of 
places. Accusations are brought against them for driving 
away bluebirds and even flickers. It remains to be 
seen how much harm is done to our native birds in this 
way. 

There are different opinions regarding the economic 
value of Old World starlings. Mr. Forbush tells of an 
Australian locust invasion near Ballarat, Victoria, which 
made terrible havoc with crops. "It was feared that all 
the sheep would have to be sold for want of grass, when 
flocks of Starlings, Spoon-bills, and Cranes made their ap- 
pearance and in a few days made so complete a destruc- 
tion of the locusts that only about forty acres of grass were 
lost." Mr. Forbush gives also "the experience of the for- 
est authorities in Bavaria during the great and destructive 
outbreak of the nun moth which occurred there from 1889 
to 1891. The flight of Starlings collected in one locality 
alone was creditably estimated at ten thousand, all busily 
feeding on the caterpillars, pupae and moths. The attrac- 
tion of Starlings to such centers became so great that 
market-gardeners at a distance felt their absence seri- 
ously." ^ 

In an article by E. R. Kalmbach of the Biological Sur- 
vey, published in "The Auk" of April, 1922, and entitled 
"A Comparsion of the Food Habits of British and Amer- 

^ From "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush, pp. 65 
and 17. 

[81] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

ican Starlings," occur the following statements by Dr. 
Walter E. Collinge, the eminent Scotch biologist: 

"The Starling offers a most serious menace to the pro- 
duction of home-grown food, and any further increase in 
its numbers can only be fraught with the most serious con- 
sequences." He says also, "For many years past there 
has been taking place a sure but gradual change of opin- 
ion with reference to the economic status of the Starling, 
for from one of our most useful wild birds it has become 
one of the most injurious. Its alarming increase through- 
out the country threatens our cereal and fruit crops, and 
the magnitude of the plague is now fully realized." He 
states further, "There is fairly reasonable evidence to show 
that in the past the bulk of the food consisted of insects 
and insect larvae, slugs, snails, earthworms, millepeds, 
weed seeds, and wild fruits; in more recent years, this has 
been supplemented by cereals and cultivated fruits and 
roots." 

Mr. Kalmbach reports a better record for the starling 
in America, and refers to the decision made by the Depart- 
ment of Agriculture, reported in Bulletin 868: 

"Most of the Starling's food-habits have been demon- 
strated to be either beneficial to man or of a neutral char- 
acter. Furthermore, it has been found that the time the 
bird spends in destroying crops or in molesting other birds 
is extremely short compared with the endless hours it 
spends searching for insects or feeding on wild fruits. 
Nevertheless, no policy would be sound which would give 
the bird absolute protection and afford no relief to the 
farmer whose crops are threatened by a local overabun- 
dance of the species. . . . The individual farmer will be 

[82] 



THE STARLING 

well rewarded by allowing a reasonable number of Star- 
lings to conduct their nesting operations on the farm. 
Later in the season a little vigilance will prevent these 
easily frightened birds from exacting an unfair toll for 
services rendered." 



[83] 



THE NORTHERN SHRIKE OR BUTCHER-BIRD 

Shrike Family — Laniidos 

Length: A little over 10 inches. 

Male and Female: Gray above, lighter underneath; forehead, 
rump, and uppef tail-coverts white; wings black, 
irregularly marked with white; tail black, bordered 
with whitp; a heavy black streak extendin,g from the 
bill beyond the eye; bill hooked and blackish. 

Notes: A call-note and a sweet song. 

Habitat: Fields or roadsides where it can find insects, small 
rodents, and little birds for its prey. 

Range: Northern North America. Breeds from northwestern 
Alaska and northern Canada to the base of the 
Alaskan Peninsula, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Que- 
bec; winters south to central California, Arizona, 
New Mexico, Texas, Kentucky, and Virginia. 

The LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, a resident of the South- 
ern States, is similar to the Northern Shrike but 
smaller. It is found from southern Florida to North 
Carolina and west to Louisiana. Northward this 
species is represented by the migrant shrike, nest- 
ing locally from Virginia and" eastern Kansas to the 
southern border of Canada. 

SHRIKES or Butcher-Birds are attractive to look at, but 
have a habit which renders them extremely unpop- 
ular. They pursue small rodents and little birds and im- 
pale them upon sharp twigs, thorns, or barbed wire fences. 
In excuse for these cruel acts, it must be said that they 
have not strong, sharp talons like hawks and owls; in order 
to tear their prey to pieces, there must be a way of holding 

[84] 



THE NORTHERN SHRIKE OR BUTCHER-BIRD 

it firmly. ^ One agrees with Mr. Forbush, however, in his 
estimate of the habit. He says: 

"The Shrike or Butcher-Bird is regarded as beneficial; 
but our winter visitor, the Northern Shrike, kills many 
small birds. It pursues Tree Sparrows, Juncos, Song 
Sparrows, and Chickadees, overtakes and strikes them 
while they are in flight, sometimes eating them, but oftener 
leaving them to hang on trees, where they furnish food 
for other birds. When one sees the little Butcher killing 
Chickadees and hanging them up, his faith in its useful- 
ness receives a great shock. Shrikes are probably of less 
value here than in their northern homes, where in summer 
they feed much on insects. Their chief utility while here 
[in Massachusetts] consists in their mouse-hunting pro- 
clivities." ^ 

Their habit of killing English sparrows and thus getting 
rid of a nuisance has been commended. Shrikes are like- 
wise destroyers of grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and 
other insects. 

"Like birds of prey and some other birds, the Butcher- 
Bird habitually disgorges the indigestible part of its food 
after digesting the nutritive portion. The bones and hair 
of mice are rolled into compact pellets in the stomach 
before being disgorged." * 

1 & 2 From "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush, page 
370. 
8 Farmers' Bulletin 506, U. S. Dept, of Agriculture, Biological Survey. 



[85] 



DESCRIPTIONS AND BIOGRAPHIES 

OF 
OUR EARLY SPRING BIRDS 

PART THREE 



EARLY SPRING BIRDS 

ON a mild day late in February or early in March, 
before winter is really over and snow has entirely 
disappeared, one may hear the cheerful voice of the song 
sparrow, the welcome chirp of the robin, or the sweet note 
of the bluebird. Even though ice and snow return, cour- 
age is renewed with the advent of winged messengers who 
presage the ever fresh miracle of spring, and who hold 
home-love in their hearts so strong that they brave cold 
and distance to return to the "Land of Their Hearts' De- 
sire. 

As the season advances, other birds arrive. A "dusky 
line" of wild geese "honk" noisily; flocks of grackles 
"creak" from the pines; red-winged blackbirds join the 
hylas in awakening the marshes; phoebes call disconso- 
lately for their mates; fox sparrows, chewinks, and white- 
throats sing melodiously from thickets; cowbirds appear 
in fields, which ring with the clear songs of meadowlarks 
and the tender notes of field and vesper sparrows. 
Mourning doves coo gently to each other; chipping spar- 
rows make their homes in our gardens; kingfishers sound 
their rattles; flickers and red-headed woodpeckers raise 
their loud voices. The hills "clap their hands with joy"; 
the earth shows a flush of green and gold ; trees and shrubs 
are touched with colors more exquisite than in autumn; 
wild-flowers carpet the woods and fields, and brooks join 
in the chorus of bird-song. 

As the birds appear, it is not difficult to distinguish 

[89] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

them, if one begins before the great migration of late 
April or early May, and goes forth with alert senses and 
infinite patience and perseverance. With a reliable guide- 
book, a learner may be reasonably sure of the early 
migrants, because only certain species of large and con- 
fusing families are to be found during March and early 
April. 

In watching birds, a student learns to observe with light- 
ning speed; to note color and comparative size; distin- 
guishing marks such as crests or striped crowns, spots on 
breast or throat, bars on wings or tail; the length and 
shape of bill, wings, tail, and legs. He learns also to 
notice whether the bird walks, runs, hops, or "teeters"; 
whether its flight is swift or slow, direct like a robin's, un- 
dulating like a goldfinch's, soaring like that of hawks 
and eagles, labored or jerky like woodpeckers', or graceful 
and "skimming" like that of swallows. 

A careful observer notices also whether the bird was 
seen in a plowed field or a grassy pasture; by a roadside 
or in a thicket; in an orchard or an open grove; in deep 
woods or coniferous forests; in a treetop, on a tree-trunk, 
on the ground; near a stream, a pond, or a marsh; near a 
sandy or a rocky shore; in an arid region, or among moun- 
tains. 

A sure means of identification for many species is the 
song or the call-note. The songs of some birds are similar 
to those of others, but there is usually a characteristic note 
or strain. When beginning my study of birds, I traced 
every sound I could to its source, waited till I saw the 
author of the note or song, listened till I learned it, could 
reproduce it, or at least be sure of future recognition. I 
found that the training of my sense of hearing opened an 

[90] 



EARLY SPRING BIRDS 

avenue of enjoyment of which I had been utterly uncon- 
scious; many others testify to a similar pleasure. Tho- 
reau speaks repeatedly of his joy in sound and even in 
silence. Truly the voice of God may thus be heard and 
His infinite power further revealed. 



MIGRATION LISTS 



Dates of Arrival of "Summer Visitants'* 
Near New York City 



February 15 to 28 
Purple Grackle 
Rusty Blackbird 
Red-winged Blackbird 
Robin 
Winter Residents and Visitants 

BIRDS SEEN IN MARCH 



March 10 to 20 
Phoebe 
Meadowlark 
Cowbird 
Fox Sparrow 
Woodcock 

March 20 to 31 



Kingfisher 
Winter Residents Leaving For ^ouming Dove 

The North 
Snowflake 
Northern Shrike 
Horned Lark 
Redpoll 
Migrants Arriving From The 

South 



Swamp Sparrow 
White-throated 'Sparrow 
Wilson's Snipe 

BIRDS SEEN IN APRIL 



Canada Goose 

Loon 

4 species of Ducks 

March 1 to 10 
Purple Grackle 
Red-winged Blackbird 
Rusty Blackbird 
Robin 



Winter Residents Leaving For 

The North 
Junco 

Tree Sparrow 
Winter Wren 
Brown Creeper 
Red-breasted Nuthatch 
Golden-crowned Kinglet 
Migrants Arriwng From The 

South 

[91] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 



April 1 to 10 
Great Blue Heron 
Black-crowned Night Heron 
Osprey 

Vesper Sparrow 
Field Sparrow 
Chipping Sparrow 
Tree Swallow 
Myrtle Warbler 
Hermit Thrush 

April 10 to 20 
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 
Barn Swallow 
Yellow Palm Warbler 
Pine Warbler 
Louisiana Water-thrush 
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 
Green Heron 

April 20 to 30 
Whip-poor-will 
Chimney Swift 
Least Flycatcher 
Towhee 
Purple Martin 
Cliff Swallow 
Bank Swallow 
Rough-winged Swallow 
Black and White Warbler 
Black-throated Green Warbler 
Brown Thrasher 
Spotted Sandpiper 

BIRDS ARRIVING IN MAY 

May 1 to 10 
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 
Black-billed Cuckoo 



Nighthawk 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird 

Crested Flycatcher 

Kingbird 

Baltimore Oriole 

Bobolink 

Indigo Bunting 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 

Scarlet Tanager 

Red-eyed Vireo 

Warbling Vireo 

Yellow-throated Vireo 

White-eyed Vireo 

Blue-winged Warbler 

Parula Warbler 

Black-throated Blue Warbler 

Magnolia Warbler 

Yellow-breasted Chat 

Chestnut-sided Warbler 

Hooded Warbler 

Yellow Warbler 

Maryland Yellow-throat 

Oven-bird 

Redstart 

House Wren 

Catbird 

Wood Thrush 

Veery 

May 10 to 20 
Wood Pewee 
White-crowned Sparrow 
Golden-winged Warbler 
Worm-eating Warbler 
Blackburnian Warbler 
Bay-breasted Warbler 
Black-poll Warbler 
Wilson's Warbler 

[92] 



EARLY SPRING BIRDS 



Canadian Warbler 
Marsh Wrens 
Olive-backed Thrush 
Gray-cheeked Thrush 
Bicknell's Thrush 

SUMMER VISITORS THAT 
BREED FARTHER SOUTH AND ARE 
OCCASIONALLY SEEN NEAR 
NEW YORK 

Red-bellied Woodpecker 
Summer Tanager 
Carolina Chickadee 
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 
Mockingbird 

Numerous Water-birds that nest 
in the Antarctic regions visit 
our shores during the summer. 

FALL MIGRATION 

Summer Residents Leaving For 
The South 
September 1 to 10 
Orchard Oriole 
Rough-winged Swallow 
Worm-eating Warbler 
Blue-winged Warbler 

September 10 to 20 
Baltimore Oriole 
Purple Martin 
Yellow Warbler 
Yellow-breasted Chat 

September 20 to 30 
Green Heron 
Hummingbird 
Kingbird 



Crested Flycatcher 
Wood Pewee 
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 
Yellow-throated Vireo 
Warbling Vireo 
Hooded Warbler 
Louisiana Water-thrush 
Veery 

Migrants Arriving From Tlie 
North 
September 1 to 10 
Black-poll Warbler 
Connecticut Warbler 

September 10 to 20 
Wilson's Snipe 

Olive-backed Thrush ^ 

Bicknell's Thrush 

September 20 to 30 
Herring Gull 
Junco 

White-throated Sparrow 
White-crowned Sparrow 
Myrtle Warbler 
Yellow Palm Warbler 
Brown Creeper 
Golden-crowned Kinglet 
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 
Winter Wren 
Gray-cheeked Thrush 

October 1 to 10 
Black-crowned Night Heron 
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 
Black-billed Cuckoo 
Chimney Swift 
Least Flycatcher 
Bobolink 
Indigo Bunting 
Scarlet Tanager 



[93] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 



Cliff Swallow 

Barn Swallow 

Bank Swallow 

White-eyed Vireo 

Black and White Warbler 

Oven-bird 

Redstart 

Wood Thrush 

October 10 to 20 
Spotted Sandpiper 
Whip-poor-will 
Nighthawk 
Red-eyed Vireo 
Maryland Yellow-throat 
Catbird 

Brown Thrasher 
House Wren 
Marsh Wren 

October 20 to 31 
Phoebe 
Towhee 
Tree Swallow 

Migrants Arriving From The 
North 

October 1 to 10 
Bronzed Crackle 
Rusty Blackbird 
Hermit Thrush 



Canada Goose 

Loon 

Pintail and Mallard Ducks 

October 10 to 20 
Fox Sparrow 

October 20 to 31 
Horned Lark 
Tree Sparrow 
Snowflake 
Redpoll 
Northern Shrike 

NOVEMBER 

Migrants Leaving For The 

South 
Mourning Dove 
Belted Kingfisher 
Cowbird 

Red-winged Blackbird 
Purple Crackle 
Vesper Sparrow 
Chipping Sparrow 
Field Sparrow 

BIRDS SEEN IN DECEMBER 

Permanent Residents 

Winter Residents and Visitants 



It is interesting to note that the earliest arrivals in the 
spring are the last to migrate in the fall. The reason is 
the food-supply. The insectivorous birds arrive later and 
leave earlier than those that have a more varied diet. An 
unusually severe winter sends birds south of their usual 
winter range. 

The dates of migration must necessarily vary with lati- 

[94] 



EARLY SPRING BIRDS 

tude. Migrants arrive near Washington a week or two 
earlier than near New York City, and near Boston a few 
days later. The lateness of the spring sometimes causes 
a delay of a week or two. The May arrivals appear more 
nearly on schedule. After May 15 birds begin to de- 
crease in number, the "Transient Visitors" passing farther 
north; by June 5 we have with us our "Permanent Resi- 
dents" and "Summer Residents." 

In the fall the mildness of a season may cause Novem- 
ber migrants to remain into December, or an open winter 
may tempt those that habitually migrate only a short dis- 
tance to remain north of their usual winter range. 



[95] 



THE AMERICAN ROBIN 

Thrush Family — TurdidcB 

Length: 10 inches. 

Male: Head black; bill yellow; a white spot above and below 
eye; throat white, streaked with black; back and 
wings gray; tail black, with white spots near tips of 
outer feathers; white beneath tail; entire breast and 
sides reddish-brown; color less brilliant in autumn 
and winter, and bill darker. 

Young Female: Paler than male. 

Young: Similar to female, except for speckled breasts and 
backs. 

Call-note: A sharp tut, used to express anger or alarm; also 
a sweet tender note, with which it encourages its 
young or converses with its mate. 

Song: A loud, clear morning song, Cheer-up, cheer-up, cheer- 
up, cheer-up, sweeter and more subdued toward 
evening. The song varies decidedly with different 
individuals. Many robins seem to enjoy improvi- 
sations; we may hear them sing their somewhat mo- 
notonous strain with pleasing variations. During 
their sojourn in the South they sing but little, and 
live in flocks remote from human habitations; con- 
sequently they are not loved as they are in the 
North. 

Range: North America, breeding from the tree-limit south to 
the northern part of the Gulf States and Mexican 
tableland; in winter, to Florida and the highlands 
of Guatemala. 

NONE of our birds is so well-known and so univer- 
sally beloved as the robin. He, together with the 
song sparrow and the bluebird, arrives at a time when we 

[96] 




ROBIN 



THE AMERICAN ROBIN 

are weary of winter and yearning for spring. He seems 
to show so much eagerness to return to us that he receives 
a hearty welcome. He is the first bird that we knew in 
childhood, unless it be the English sparrow; our earliest 
books were filled with tales and poems concerning him. 
Most of us have a fund of anecdotes that we could relate. 

A robin has distinct individuality. His is a many-sided 
nature. He is cheerful and optimistic, aggressive and 
fearless, pugnacious and ardent — like the brave Lochin- 
var, "so daring in love and so dauntless in war," — yet 
withal tender, joyous, and lovable. He is a fighter at 
mating time, but a gentle husband. 

There are few bird-choruses as sweet as robins' rain- 
song or even-song. I recall a flock of these happy birds 
singing from maple-tops in a little village nestled beside 
a brawling river, when patches of brown earth showed be- 
neath melting snow, and heavy rain-clouds broke away 
to reveal a golden western sky. The robins sang with the 
joy that my own heart felt at the renewal of life on the 
earth. I once heard their even-song in an elm-shaded col- 
lege-town of Massachusetts during a lovely Sunday eve- 
ning in June, when church-bells rang and robins held a 
vesper service all their own. My sister and I walked be- 
neath the great arched trees and found ourselves speaking 
in whispers, as was our habit in the cathedrals of the Old 
World. 

The robin's tut-tut, or tut-tut-tut' -tut-tut-tut-tut, — his 
scolding note, — is very similar to the exclamation of re- 
proof our grandfather used to administer to us for child- 
ish misdemeanors. It is amusing to see how robins use 
this form of remonstrance to humans. John Burroughs 
wrote that he was kept out of his own summer-house by a 

[97] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

female robin that was nesting there. She scolded him so 
soundly for trespassing upon his own property, which she 
had appropriated, that he could have no peace. He 
finally left her in possession till her young had flown.* 
I had a similar experience when picking cherries in a 
friend's garden. A robin had preceded me and resented 
my intrusion in no uncertain manner. No angry fish- 
monger of Billingsgate ever hurled more noisy vitupera- 
tion at a thief than did that robin fling at me, especially 
when I coolly refused to heed his commands to "Keep 
Off"." 

I recall an amusing experience with a robin family one 
summer. The second brood of hungry babies were clam- 
oring for "More," and following their overworked father 
about as I have seen human babies tease their mothers. 
He was decidedly "frayed" as to temper, but he chose to 
assume the entire parental responsibility. His faded, be- 
draggled spouse, perched disconsolately upon the roof of 
the chicken-house, flew down two or three times into the 
bosom of the family and endeavored to "do her bit"; but 
her testy husband drove her off" each time with a sharp 
tut-tut, until in despair she remained upon the ridge-pole 
peeping forlornly. The father proceeded to pull up 
worms for his gaping brood in a manner so irritated and 
strenuous that I wondered whether he had had a "family 
jar," or was only worn out with anxiety and overwork. It 
is a huge task to feed one baby robin alone, who can eat 
sixty-eight angleworms a day, ^ or one hundred and sixty- 
five cutworms.* 

1 From "Under the Maples," by John Burroughs, p. 55. 

2 Prof. D. Treadwell. 

3 Mr. Chas. W. Nash. 

[98] 



THE AMERICAN ROBIN 

Robins do good to the soil by dragging forth earthworms 
and preventing their too rapid increase. Mr. Forbush 
calls attention to the value of these birds in devouring 
"dormant cutworms and caterpillars even in February," 
also quantities of the larvae of March flies and white grubs 
that injure grass. The robin is an enemy of caterpillars, 
especially those that live near the ground; his destruction 
of cutworms and white grubs alone entitles him to our 
gratitude. He does eat early cherries, and has been bit- 
terly arraigned for so doing. When later cherries, ap- 
ples, peaches, pears, and grapes are ripe, wild fruits and 
mulberries which he eats by preference, have also ma- 
tured; so on the whole, he does little harm.* He is now 
protected in most of our states. 

A Maine robin that had an inordinate love for cher- 
ries and garden-raspberries was at first intimidated by a 
most lifelike, well-set-up scarecrow placed in the garden 
for his benefit. But he grew wiser as the days passed: 
he approached the fearful creature and received no harm. 
Familiarity finally bred contempt, for one day he was 
discovered perched upon the scarecrow's shoulder eating 
a raspberry! 

Robins become very tame. I once had the pleasure 
of the companionship of a dear, gentle, little English robin 
— a bird very diff"erent in size and manner from his 
American cousin — who would come out of the shrubbery 
whenever I called him. He would approach within two 
or three feet of my chair, to snatch the soft crumbs that 
I placed on the ground to lure him. He rewarded me 
frequently with his delightful little bubbling song. 

An American robin during a March ice-storm learned 

♦Farmers' Bulletin 630. 

[99] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

that bread crumbs were to be found upon the window-sill 
of a house in Cleveland. He flew to the sill frequently. 
When he found no crumb awaiting him, he would tap 
on the pane, then fly away a short distance and remain 
until a fresh supply appeared. He and his mate nested 
in an apple-tree near by. They and their brood were 
fed in this way the entire season by their bird-loving 
friends, until they were in danger of becoming pauper- 
ized! One morning the following March while the Cleve- 
land family were breakfasting, they heard the familiar 
tap upon the pane! There was Robin back again — you 
may imagine his welcome! For four years, he continued 
to announce his arrival in the same manner, and to build 
in the same yard; each year he and his family were sup- 
plied with part of their food by their devoted friends. 
Then ill must have befallen him, for he never returned. 

To another Ohio woman came the joy of having a robin 
enter her room frequently. She had tempted him with 
crumbs inside a window-sill. One day he perched upon 
the sewing-machine where she was at work, and sang 
his sweet song to her, as the busy machine hummed its 
tune. 

A robin's nest is an untidy affair, but it is something 
that we should miss were it not a part of our environment. 
Few birds' eggs are more lovely in color than those of 
the familiar robins'-egg blue, nestled in their grass-lined 
cup of clay. Olive Thorne Miller wrote of a clever robin 
that wished to build her nest during an almost rainless 
spring. She could find no mud, so she waded about in 
her drinking-dish to wet her legs; she then hopped into 
the dust, and with her bill scraped the mud off her legs. 

[100] 



THE AMERICAN ROBIN 

This she did repeatedly, until she had the necessary 
amount.^ 

I once saw a mother-robin sheltering her brood during 
a rainstorm of great violence. Her soft body and out- 
spread wings were pelted by the rain, but she seemed 
quite oblivious to everything except to keep harm from 
her young. Her protecting attitude and the look in her 
bright eyes made as beautiful an expression of mother- 
love as I ever witnessed. 

BFrom Olive Thome Miller's "First Book of Birds." 



[101] 



THE BLUEBIRD 

Thrush Family — Turdidce 

Length : About 6^ to 7 inches. 

General Appearance: Upper parts bright blue; under parts 
reddish-brown; no crest. 

Male: Head, back, and tail bright blue; wings blue, edged 
with black; in the fall, edged with reddish-brown; 
throat, breast, and sides reddish-brown; white from 
center of breast to tail. 

Female: Similar to male, but paler; wings and tail brightest 
in flight. 

Young: Grayish-blue, speckled with whitish; wings and tail 
bluish. 

Call-note: An indescribably sweet rendering of the syllables, 
ChecT-e-o, given usually while the bird is on the 
wing. 

Song: A gentle warble of exceptional sweetness — whew'- 
ee, wheu/-ee, whew'-ee, uttered tenderly and pen- 
sively. 

Habitat: Orchards and gardens. The birds are usually seen 
in pairs, and like rather conspicuous perches, such 
as fence-posts and telegraph wires. 

Nest: Made of grasses and placed in old hollow trees, pref- 
erably apple-trees. One objection raised against 
tree-surgery is that it deprives bluebirds of nesting- 
sites, but that objection may be removed by furnish- 
ing nesting-boxes, 

Bange: Eastern North America. Breeds from southern Can- 
ada and Newfoundland to the Gulf Coast and Florida, 
west to the Rockies; winters in the southern half of 
the eastern U. S., south to Guatemala. 

[102] 




BLUEBIRD 



THE BLUEBIRD 

AS spring approaches, I invariably "go a-hunting," 
not for "rabbit-skins," but for song sparrows and 
bluebirds. Robins usually seek us, and sometimes their 
blue-winged cousins call Cheer-e-o as they fly swiftly over 
our housetops; but I am never happy until I have visited 
an orchard or pasture frequented by these heaven-sent 
birds. "My heart leaps up when I behold" once more 
their exquisite blue and hear their soft, delightful warble. 
Then I know that spring is really on her way, and I 
am again eager and expectant. 

Bluebirds have always been much beloved, especially 
in New England. Florence Merriam writes: "Although 
the Bluebird did not come over in the Mayflower, it is 
said that when the Pilgrim Fathers came to New England 
this bird was one of the first whose gentle warblings at- 
tracted their notice, and, from its resemblance to the be- 
loved Robin Redbreast of their native land, they called 
it the Blue Robin." ^ 

The bluebird has always been a favorite theme for poets 
and nature-writers, especially in New England, where the 
beauty and warm coloring of this sweet bird seem excep- 
tionally welcome after a long, severe winter. In Tho- 
reau's diary, "Early Spring in Massachusetts," he refers 
to the bluebird thirteen times and writes: "The bluebird 
— angel of the spring! Fair and innocent, yet the off"- 
spring of the earth. The color of the sky, above, and of 
the subsoil beneath, suggesting what sweet and innocent 
melody, terrestrial melody, may have its birthplace be- 
tween the sky and the ground." ^ 

Burroughs, too, makes frequent mention of the blue- 

^ From "Birds of Village and Field," by Florence Merriam. 
2 Used with permission of the Houghton Miffin Q>., the authorized 
publishers. 

[103] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

bird. In "Under The Maples" he says: "None of our 
familiar birds endear themselves to us more than does 
the bluebird. The first bluebird in the spring is as wel- 
come as the blue sky itself. The season seems softened 
and tempered as soon as we hear his note and see his 
warm breast and azure wing. His gentle manners, his 
soft, appealing voice, not less than his pleasing hues, 
seem born of the bright and genial skies. He is the spirit 
of April days incarnated in a bird. Not strictly a song- 
ster, yet his every note and call is from out the soul of 
harmony." ^ 

Bluebirds are of economic as well as aesthetic value. 
They devour cutworms and other kinds of caterpillars, 
grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, and beetles. They eat 
fruit in the winter; they prefer that taken from pastures, 
swamps, and hedgerows, rather than from gardens or or- 
chards. They never destroy cultivated crops; on the con- 
trary, benefit them.* 

These birds are such devoted lovers that one is rarely 
seen far from its mate. The female is very gentle and 
timid; she seems to need reassurance and protection. 
There are times, however, when she knows her own mind 
and shows firmness of character. A male bluebird in 
Asheville, N. C, intoxicated by the warmth of a sunshiny 
January day, wooed a female ardently. She was very 
distant and finally dismissed him. She evidently had suf- 
ficient foresight to realize that it would be disastrous to 
go to housekeeping so early and therefore withheld her 
consent. 

8 Used with permission of the Houghton Mifflin Co., the authorized pub- 
lishers. 

4 Farmers' Bulletin 755, Biological Survey, U. S. Department of Agri- 
culture. 

[104] 



THE BLUEBIRD 

Numerous instances have been recorded of bluebirds 
that have lost their mates by accident and have mourned 
so deeply as to touch the heart of any one who saw the 
tragedy or heard the cries of sorrow. 



[105] 



THE SONG SPARROW 

Finch Family — Fringillidce 

Length: A little over 6 inches; about the size of the English 
sparrow. 

General Appearance: A small brown bird with a grayish 
breast, a body heavily streaked with black, a black 
spot in the center of breast, and at each side of the 
throat. 

Male and Female: Brown head with black streaks, a grayish 
line in center and over eye; brown line back of eye; 
back brown and gray, streaked with black; wings 
brown, with black spots, — no white bars; throat 
grayish-white; a dark patch on each side of throat; 
a conspicuous black spot in center of breast; belly 
white; sides whitish, streaked with brown and black; 
tail long, brown, darkest in center. 

Call-note: Chip, chip — sharp and metallic. 

Song: A sweet cheerful strain, with considerable variety in 
different individuals. It usually consists of three 
notes that sound like "See? See? See?" fol- 
lowed by a short trill. Henry van Dyke inter- 
prets the song as Sweet, sweet, sweet, very merry 
cheer. 

Habitat: Bushes; near water, preferably. 

Range: North America, east of the Rocky Mts. Breeds in 
Canada from Great Slave Lake to Cape Breton Is- 
land, south to southern Nebraska, central Missouri, 
Kentucky, southern Virginia, the mountains of North 
Carolina. Winters from Nebraska, Illinois, Massa- 
chusetts (locally) and New Jersey, south to the Gulf 
Coast. « 

[106] 




SONG SPARROW 



THE SONG SPARROW 

THE Song Sparrow, like air and sunshine, is a part 
of our daily lives after we have once become ac- 
quainted with him. In some localities he takes up his 
abode permanently; in others, he arrives in late February 
or early March and remains until November. Joy in life 
and deep contentment abide with him. He is the most 
incurable optimist of my acquaintance. I have heard 
him sing beside a brook that has just broken its icy fetters, 
while patches of snow still remained on the ground; dur- 
ing days of rain which silenced most songsters; through 
hot summer noons and during the almost songless molt- 
ing-season, — nothing seems to daunt him, from early 
morning until sunset. Occasionally during the night is 
heard his simple strain, as though he needs must sing in 
his sleep. 

His song is pleasing, but in no way remarkable. It is 
in a major key and lacks the ecstasy and piercing sweet- 
ness of the fox sparrow's, and the exquisite tenderness of 
the field and the vesper sparrow's, but it possesses a 
charm all its own. It breathes a joy in simple things — 
a steadfast and cheerful courage that makes us say, "He, 
too, is no mean preacher." 

Song sparrows, like other members of the Finch family, 
are of great service in their destruction of insects and 
weed seeds, of which they consume enormous quantities. 
They eat wild berries and fruits only when their favorite 
food is not obtainable. They possess no bad ha'bits and 
are desirable "bird-neighbors" to cultivate. Water al- 
ways attracts them; one is most likely to find them near 
streams, in which they love to bathe. 

Their nests are made largely of grasses, dead leaves, 
and root-fibres, and are lined with soft grasses. They 

[107] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

are placed in bushes or on the ground. The eggs, pale 
in color and flecked with brown, are well concealed by 
their markings. Song sparrows, usually serene, grow in- 
tensely nervous when the nest is approached, and betray 
its whereabouts by their incessant Chip, chip. 

THE SONG SPARROW 

"See? See? See? The herald of spring you see! 
What matters if winds blow piercingly! 
The brook, long ice-bound, struggles through 
Its glistening fetters, and murmurs anew 
With joy at the freedom the days will bring 
When the snow has gone! And I, too, sing! 

"See? See? See? A flush of color you see! 

The tassels are hung on the budding tree. 

Before it has drawn its curtain of leaves 

To shade the homes of the birds. Now weaves 

The silent spring a carpet fair. 

With wind-flower and hepatica there. 

"See? See? See? You are glad to welcome me. 
You will hear my voice ring cheerfully 
Through Summer's heat or days of rain 
Until the winter has come again. 
From dawn till dusk, my heart is gay. 
And I sing my happy life away. 
See? See? See?" 



[108] 



THE FOX SPARROW 
Finch Family — Fringillidce 

Length: A little over 7 inches; about an inch longer than the 
English sparrow, and nearly as large as a hermit 
thrush. 

Male and Female: Upper parts reddish-brown, brightest on 
lower back and tail. (The red-brown tail is a dis- 
tinguishing mark of the fox sparrow as it is of the 
hermit thrush.) Under parts grayish- white; throat, 
breast, belly, and sides heavily and irregularly 
streaked with reddish-brown and black, except the 
middle of the belly, which is white. 

Note: A faint seep or cheep. 

Song: The most beautiful of all the sparrows' — a burst of 
melody possessing sweetness and power; joyous, yet 
with a minor strain. 

Habitat: Tall thickets or clumps of weeds. 

Range: North America. Breeds in the forest-regions of Can- 
ada and Alaska; winters from the lower Ohio and 
Potomac Valleys to central Texas and northern 
Florida. 

NEVER shall I forget the thrill of surprise and ec- 
stasy which my first fox sparrow brought to me! 
My sister and I were on eager quest for early migrants 
in open woods and overgrown pastures, when from a 
thicket of tall shrubs there burst so marvelous a "concord 
of sweet sounds" that we were spell-bound. No words 
can describe the tenderness, the joyous abandon, yet withal 
the strain of sadness in the song, as though the choristers 
had drunk deep of life, had visioned clearly its secrets, 

[109] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

and transmuted its experiences. When the music had be- 
come a soft cadence, we sought the singers, and found a 
band of thrush like sparrows scratching in the old brown 
leaves like bantam hens. They remained in the thicket 
for several days, singing most rapturously toward sunset. 

Though shy birds and seen infrequently, fox sparrows 
occasionally approach houses. During a deep spring 
snow that covered the birds' natural food-supply, several 
of these north-bound migrants came three times a day 
with a flock of juncos to feed on bread-crumbs in our 
back yard. Like Tommy Tucker, they "sang for their 
supper." Twice they arrived before a fresh supply of 
crumbs had been scattered; their songs announced their 
presence and were accompanied by the gentle trill of the 
juncos. A large flock remained in Middlesex Fells for 
several days. 

Most bird-lovers consider an experience with fox spar- 
rows as out of the ordinary. Thoreau wrote: "Is not 
the coming of the fox-colored sparrow something more 
earnest and significant than I have dreamed of? These 
migrating sparrows bear all messages that concern my 
life." ^ 

1 "Notes on New England Birds" — Thoreau, p. 311. 



[110] 




PHOEBE 



THE PHCEBE 

Flycatclier Family — Tyrranidcs 

Length: About 7 inches; a little larger than the English spar- 
row. 

Male and Female: Grayish-brown above; under parts light 
gray with yellowish wash; breast darker than throat, 
sides grayish-brown; head dark brown, somewhat 
crested; bill black, slightly hooked at tip, with bris- 
tles rt base; wings dark brown, with inconspicuous 
whitish i&ing-bars; tail dark brown; edge of two 
outer tail-feathers yellowish-white. 

Song: No real song. Flycatchers are songless birds. The 
note is a hoarse Phoebe, sometimes Pe-wit-Phoebe, 
It is usually uttered mournfully and monotonously; 
occasionally the male gives numerous Phcebes rap- 
idly while on the wing. 

Habitat: Near streams preferably. A favorite nesting site i* 
underneath a bridge; eaves of barns or beams ol 
piazzas are also used. 

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from north-central 
Canada south to northeastern New Mexico, central 
Texas, northern Mississippi and highlands of 
Georgia; winters south of latitude 37° to southern 
Mexico. 

WHEN March has lost some of its bluster and gen- 
tler weather prevails, there arrives from the 
land of sunshine and teeming insect life, a small brown 
and gray bird — the Phoebe, first of the Flycatcher family 
to come North. Like many of the early migrants, he 
travels without his beloved little mate, whom he seems to 

[111] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

miss sadly; for he sits disconsolately on a bare twig and 
calls her name in hoarse, wheezy tones. After she ap- 
pears, it is pleasant to see their devotion, not only to each 
other, but to the nesting site. How they journey apart 
the great distance from South to North and find their own 
especial bridge or barn year after year, is one of the great 
mysteries. 

Their large, loosely-constructed nest is made of moss 
and mud, lined with soft grass, hair, or feathers. It is 
usually infested with bird-lice, as I discovered, to my 
dismay. It is well not to allow phcebes to build where 
the lice may become a nuisance. 

Like all the soberly-dressed flycatchers, phoebes seek 
conspicuous perches such as posts or dead branches. 
They have the family habit of ruffling up their head- 
feathers into a sort of crest, and of jerking their tails fre- 
quently, especially when uttering their note. They make 
unexpected sallies after insects, which their unusually 
keen eyes can see from dawn until dark. 

Phoebes are among our most useful birds, for they de- 
stroy injurious beetles, weevils, flies that annoy cattle and 
horses, house flies, ants, mosquitoes, wasps, spiders, grass- 
hoppers, and numerous other harmful insects.^ Their 
soft brown and gray plumage blends with dull March 
meadows, with the silver sheen of the brooks they love, 
and with silken pussy-willows and brown willow-boughs. 

THE BLACK PHCEBE 

The Black Phoebe is found from Texas west to the Pa- 
cific coast. It catches flies persistently and well deserves 
its family name. In appearance it resembles the slate- 

*■ Farmers' Bulletin 630, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey. 

[112] 



THE PHCEBE 

colored junco, for it has a dusky head, back, wings, tail, 
and breast, with a white belly. Professor Beal writes 
of this bird as follows: "The black phoebe has the same 
habits as its eastern relative, both as to selection of food 
and nesting sites, preferring for the latter purpose some 
structure of man, as a shed, or, better still a bridge over 
a stream of water, and the preference of the black phoebe 
for the vicinity of water is very pronounced. One may 
always be found at a stream or pool and often at a 
watering-trough by the roadside. 

"Careful study of the habits of the bird shows that it ob- 
tains a large portion of its food about wet places. While 
camping beside a stream in California the writer took 
some pains to observe the habits of the black phoebe. The 
nesting season was over, and the birds had nothing to do 
but eat. This they appeared to be doing all the time. 
When first obsei-ved in the morning, at the first glimmer 
of daylight, a phoebe was always found flitting from rock 
to rock, although it was so dusky that the bird could hardly 
be seen. This a'ctivity was kept up all day. Even in 
the evening, when it was so dark that notes were written 
by the aid of the camp fire, the phoebe was still engaged 
in its work of collecting, though it was difficult to under- 
stand how it could catch insects when there was scarcely 
light enough to see the bird. Exploration of the stream 
showed that every portion of it was patrolled by a phoebe, 
that each one apparently did not range over more than 
twelve or thirteen rods of water, and that sometimes two 
or three were in close proximity.' 



" 2 



2 Farmers' Bulletin 630, U. S. Dept, of Agriculture, Biological Survey. 



[113] 



THE CROW BLACKBIRD OR PURPLE 
CRACKLE 

American Blackbird Family — Icteridce 

Length: 12 to 13^ inches. Tail about 5 inches long, nearly 
the length of that of the blue jay. 

General Appearance: A glossy black bird with yellow eyes, 
and a long tail that in flight resembles a pointed fan 
curving toward the midrib. Blackbirds walk in- 
stead of hopping. 

Male: Black with beautiful iridescence; head, neck, throat, and 
breast with green, blue, and purple reflections; back 
and rump purple and green, with iridescent bars; 
wings and tail purplish; under parts duller. 

Female: Duller than male, with less iridescence. 

Call-note: A hoarse, loud Chack. 

Song: A disagreeable grating noise that Mr. Forbush likens 
to the "rather musical creaking of a rusty hinge." 
I once noticed the strong resemblance of the sound 
to the squeaking wheels of farm-wagons that passed 
near a noisy flock of grackles. Blackbirds always 
look unhappy and uncomfortable when making their 
attempt at singing, as though they emitted the sound 
with great difiBculty. 

Habitat: Groves of pine and spruce, as dark and gloomy as 
the birds themselves. They are found in parks and 
meadows, on lawns and near buildings. They live 
in large flocks except at nesting time. 

Range: Middle Atlantic coast-region of the United States. 
Breed from north shore of Long Island Sound (rarely 
in Massachusetts), the middle Hudson Valley west to 
the Alleghanies, and south to the uplands of Georgia, 
Alabama, and eastern Tennessee; winter mainly 

[114] 




PURPLE CRACKLE 



THE CROW BLACKBIRD OR PURPLE CRACKLE 

south of the Delaware Valley. The Bronzed and 
Florida grackles extend the range over the whole of 
eastern North America, to Great Slave Lake, New- 
foundland, Colorado, and Florida. 

IT seems irrcredible that blackbirds should belong to 
the same family as sweet-voiced meadowlarks, gay 
bobolinks, and musical orioles. They are literally the 
"black sheep" of the family, with a plumage in keeping 
with their dark deeds, and a sinister expression that 
arouse's suspicion and wins them few friends. Their 
habit of destroying birds' eggs and young birds makes 
them a terror to their neighbors. Dr. Frank Chapman 
humorously says that he "can imagine bird-mothers fright- 
ening their young into obedience by threatened visits from 
that ogre, the Crackle." ^ I saw a flock of them invading 
the seclusion of Wade Park, Cleveland, one spring morn- 
ing. Two irate robins drove three bandit blackbirds away 
from their nest with loud cries and swift pursuit. A few 
minutes later, I saw a wood thrush attack a grackle. She 
administered a severe blow upon his shoulder, which dis- 
arranged his feathers and left him in such evident pain 
as to be quite oblivious of my proximity. This habit of 
devastating nests is not, however, so general as has been 
supposed, for Professor Real reports that "remains of 
birds and birds' eggs amount to less than half of one per 
cent, of his diet." ^ 

During the breeding season, grackles do much good 
by their destruction of insects upon which their young 
are almost wholly fed. They devour beetles, the cater- 

1 From "Birds of Eastern North America," by Frank M. Chapman. 

2 Farmers' Bulletin 630, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Biological 
Survey. 

[115] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

pillars of gypsy and brown-tail moths, cutworms, grass- 
hoppers, and locusts in great numbers. They "follow 
the plow" in search of the grubs and worms to be found 
in the up-turned earth. 

Crackles are in great disfavor, however, because of 
the grain they consume. Professor Beal states that grain 
is eaten during the entire year except for a short time in 
the summer. Waste kernels are consumed during win- 
ter and early spring, but that eaten in July and August 
is probably standing grain. Middle-western farmers suf- 
fer considerably.^ 

It is interesting to see blackbirds migrate. They fly 
in flocks thousands strong. Mr. Forbush tells of a 
flock which formed a black "rainbow of birds" that 
stretched from one side of the horizon to the other. There 
seemed to be "millions" of them. 

They fly with wonderful precision, like a well-trained 
army bent on destruction. They are truly "Birds of a 
feather" that "flock together" with a kind of joyless 
loyalty, disliked by most of the world. 

THE BRONZED CRACKLE 

The Bronzed Crackle, like the Purple Crackle, has a 
purple head, but has a bronzed hack without iridescent 
bars. It is found in central and eastern North America 
from Creat Slave Lake to Newfoundland in Canada, south 
to Montana and Colorado, (east of the Rockies), and south- 
east to the northern part of the Culf States, western Penn- 
sylvania, New York, and Massachusetts. It winters 
mainly from the Ohio Valley to southern Texas. 

3 Farmers' Bulletin 630, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Biological 
Survey. 

[116] 



THE BLACKBIRDS OR CRACKLES 

THE FLORIDA CRACKLE 

The Florida Crackle is abundant from South Carolina 
to Florida, and west along the Culf Coast to southeastern 
Texas. It is similar to the Purple Crackle in appearance, 
but is smaller in size. Flocks of these grackles frequent 
groves of palmettoes and live-oaks. 

THE BOAT-TAILED CRACKLE 

The Boat-tailed Crackle, the largest member of the 
blackbird family, (16 inches long), has wonderful violet 
reflections on head and neck. The female is much 
smaller and is brownish. This grackle is found in the 
South Atlantic and Culf States from Chesapeake Bay to 
Florida and west to the eastern coast of Texas, and like 
the red-winged blackbird seems to prefer the vicinity of 
water. 



[117] 



THE RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD 

American Blackbird Family — Icteridce 

"Length: About 9^ inches; length varies in different indi- 
viduals. 
Male: Jet black, except shoulders, which are scarlet edged 
with yellow; plumage mottled in winter — upper parts 
edged with rusty brown; bill long, sharp-pointed, 
black; legs and feet black; eyes dark. 
Female: Head and back blackish, rusty brown, and buff. 
Light streak over and under eye; throat yellowish; 
under parts streaked with black and white; wings 
brown, edged with buff; tail brown. Plumage incon- 
spicuous, but attractive on close inspection. 
Young Males: Similar to females, but with red and black 

shoulders. 
Call-Note: A hoarse chuck resembling that of the grackle. 
Song: A liquid, pleasant o-ka-ree. 
Habitat: In meadows where a streamlet flows 
Or sedges rim a pool, 
There swings upon a blade of green 

Beside the waters cool, 
A bird of black, with "epaulets" 

Of red and gold. With glee 
He plays upon his "Magic Flute'*: 
"0-o-ka-ree? O-o-ka-ree?" 
Nest: A beautiful structure, long and deep, fastened to reeds; 

a "hanging" nest. 
Eggs: Pale bluish, with inky scrawls and spots. 
Bange: North America, east of the Great Plains, except the 
Gulf Coast and Florida; abundant where there are 
marshes and ponds; winters mainly south of Ohio 
and Delaware Valleys. 

[118] 




RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD 



THE RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD 

WHEN tlie hylas begin to pipe in the spring, they 
are joined by the musical Redwings. The 
voices of these birds have been likened to flutes, also to 
violincellos in an orchestra. Their song is pleasant to 
hear, but seems to require considerable eff^ort on the part 
of the performers — they lift their shoulders and spread 
their tails into broad fans when singing. 

Redwings are noisy chatterers; they are intensely social 
in their nature. It is thought that some males have sev- 
eral wives at a time — one marvels at their courage! Dur- 
ing the winter the females flock by themselves, and in the 
spring migrate about two weeks after their venturesome, 
prospective husbands have come northward. When they 
arrive, there is great "Confusion of Tongues" — the marsh 
is transformed into a Babel. Then sites for homes are 
selected, and house-building begins in earnest. Black- 
birds make devoted parents. 

They are much more popular than their cousins, the 
grackles, though in some localities where they are very 
abundant, as in the Upper Mississippi Valley, they are 
in disfavor because of the grain they devour. They eat 
oats, corn, and wheat, but only one-third as much as do 
the grackles; they eat the seeds of smartweed and barn- 
yard grass in preference. Grasshoppers they consider 
great delicacies, also many other harmful insects.^ Pro- 
fessor Beal states that nearly seven-eighths of their food 
consists of weed seed and insects injurious to agriculture. 
He pleads for their protection as does Mr. Forbush, who 
says: "Should there be an outbreak of cankerworms in 
an orchard, the blackbirds will fly at least half a mile to 

1 Farmers' Bulletin 630, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Biological 
Survey. 

[119] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

get them for their young." ^ They eat little fruit and do 
slight harm to garden or orchard. On the whole, they 
are beneficial to mankind. 

The RUSTY BLACKBIRD and the yellow-headed black- 
bird are two other species of blackbirds. 

The RUSTY BLACKBIRD resembles both the purple 
grackle and the redwing. It is more nearly uniformly 
glossy black in summer than the former; it is rusty in 
winter like the latter. It is about the size of the redwing 
and has a sweeter voice. It is sometimes mistaken for 
the grackle; but its smaller size, its shorter, rounder tail, 
and more musical voice differentiate it. 

The YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD, our westem species, 
is easy to identify because of his yellow head, neck, 
throat, and breast, and his black body, with white wing- 
patches. The female has a paler yellow head, which, 
with the breast, is marked with white. 

The Yellowhead lives in swamps of the Mississippi Val- 
ley from Indiana westward to California. He is attrac- 
tive to see, but not pleasant to hear. He, too, is a grain- 
thief and therefore unpopular. 

2 "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush, page 320. 



[120] 




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COWBIRD 



THE COWBIRD 

American Blackbird Family — Icteridoe 

Length: About 8 inches. 

Male: Glossy black, with a brown head, neck, and breast; 
some metallic reflections on body, tail, and upper 
wing-feathers. Smaller than the grackle, with a 
shorter tail, less iridescence, and dark eyes. Like the 
grackle, the cowbird is a walker. 

Female: Dark brown, with a grayish tinge; under parts 
lighter, especially the throat, which has two dark 
streaks outlining the light patch. 

Call-note: A loud chuck. 

Song: No real song, only a disagreeable gurgle, that is emit- 
ted with great efifort. 

Habitat: Pastures and open woodlands; usually seen on the 
ground, but sometimes in trees. 

Range: North America. Breeds in central Canada, south to 
northern California, Nevada, northern New Mexico, 
Texas, Louisiana, and North Carolina; winters from 
southeast California and the Ohio and Potomac Val- 
leys to the Gulf Coast and Central Mexico. 

THE four common black birds — crows, grackles, red- 
wings, and cowbirds — all have sins laid at their 
doors. Crows and blackbirds are grain-thieves and de- 
stroyers of the eggs and young of other birds; redwings 
have been accused of polygamy and tlieft; but if judged 
by human standards, none compare with cowbirds in what 
might be called moral degeneracy. Cowbirds not only 
mate promiscuously, but unlike blackbirds, have no re- 

[121] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

gard for their own young. They are like the human 
mothers who lay their babies on doorsteps, depart, and 
let others rear them. 

It is a well-known fact that the female cowbird always 
selects the nest of a bird smaller and weaker than herself 
in which to deposit her egg. Major Bendire lists ninety- 
one varieties of birds that have been thus outraged, fre- 
quent victims being the song sparrow, indigo bunting, par- 
ula wa,rbler, yellow warbler, vireo, chipping sparrow*, 
towhee, oven-bird, yellow-breasted chat, and even the tiny 
blue-gray gnatcatcher. From one to seven cowbirds' eggs 
have been found at a time in other birds' nests, often in 
the warm center of the nest. Unless the little bird should 
build a new floor, or abandon her nest entirely, the cow- 
bird egg will hatch first, and the lusty changeling will de- 
mand the lion's share of food and attention. Frequently 
the other eggs do not hatch; if they do, the young birds 
often perish with hunger and cold. When young cowbirds 
have been reared by their patient little foster-parents, they 
leave their benefactors and join flocks of their disrepu- 
table relatives. 

In justice it must be said that cowbirds, like all villains, 
have a redeeming trait — they are great destroyers of weed 
seeds and insects. Like Cadmus and his band, they "Fol- 
low the Cow," and enjoy the insects that she arouses as 
she walks about in pastures. When the cow lies down, 
they, too, pause; they have been known to hop upon her 
back in friendly fashion. Self-interest prompts them, 
however, for they know that they may find there a harvest 
of insects. 



[122] 



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MEADOWLARK 



THE MEADOWLARK 

Called also Field Lark and Old Field Lark 

American Blackbird Family — Icteridce 

Length: About 10% inches, a little larger than the robin; 

bill l|o inches. 
General Appearance: A large brown bird, with a short tail 
that shows conspicuous white feathers at each side 
in flight. The bright yellow breast crossed by a 
black crescent is less frequently seen. 
Male and Female: Upper parts dark brown, mottled with 
black and buff; head striped, with a light line 
through the center and a yellow line over each eye, 
alternating with two dark stripes; cheeks gray; 
throat, breast, and belly yellow; a V-shaped band 
on breast; sides and lower part of belly whitish, 
streaked with black; bill long and sharp; tail short, 
(about 3 inches) ; outer tail-feathers almost entirely 
white; middle feathers brown, barred with black. 
Call-note: A sharp nasal Yerk, and a twitter that sounds like 

a succession of rapid sneezes. 
Song: A loud, clear, sweet refrain that usually consists of 
four syllables, but sometimes of five or six. It has 
been interpreted in various ways as follows: 

Spring' -of — the-y^e'-a-r ! 

I love — you d-e-a-r. 

I'm Mead'-ow-lar'-rk. 

Mr. T. Gilbert Pearson tells of a lazy darky down 
South who interpreted the lark's song as 

"Laziness-will kill' you." ^ 

1 From Educational Leaflet No. 3 — National Association of Audubon 
Societies. 

[123] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

Flight: Direct, yet fluttering; usually away from the observer, 
showing the brown back and white tail-feathers, as 
though the bird was conscious of its bright yellow 
breast. 

Habitat: Cultivated meadows, and grassgrown fields, espe- 
cially one containing a running brook for drinking 
and bathing. Its fondness for unmown fields has 
given it the name of "Old Field Lark." ^ 

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from eastern Minne- 
sota and southern Canada, south to northern Texas, 
Missouri, and North Carolina, and west to western 
Iowa, eastern Kansas, and northwestern Texas; 
winters regularly from southern New England 
and Ohio valley south to the Gulf States, and 
north locally to the Great Lakes and southern 
Maine. 

In the South, from southern Illinois, southwestern 
Indiana and North Carolina to the coast of Texas, 
Louisiana, and southern Florida is found the south- 
ern MEADOWLARK, smaller and darker than the 
northern species, and with a different song. 

In the West, from British Columbia to Manitoba 
and south to southern California, northern Mexico, 
and Texas is the v^estern meadowlark, similar to 
its eastern relative in habits and plumage, but very 
different as to song. Its pure, sweet, liquid notes 
are among my most delightful memories of western 
birds. 

IT is fortunate that no human being or bird is pos- 
sessed of all the virtues and charms, and that every 
individual may hold his own place in our interest and 
affections. As the spring migrants arrive, each receives 
a welcome peculiarly his own. 

2 Farmers' Bulletin 755, Biological Survey, U. S. Department of Agri- 
culture. 

[124] 



THE MEADOWLARK 

"The lark is so brimful of gladness and love — 
The green fields below him, the blue sky above, 
That he sings and he sings and forever sings he, 
'I love my love, and my love loves me.' " ^ 

His voice, clear and sweet, rings out joyously across 
the fields, fragrant with up-turned earth and bright with 
sunshine. He is the delight of spring meadows as Bob 
White is of summer fields. 

The meadowlark has many friends: those who love him 
for his winning ways — his brightness, cheerfulness, and 
devotion to his family; epicures, ignorant of his value 
or fond only of their own pleasure; and people who realize 
that he is of enormous economic importance. 

He was formerly believed to be a destroyer of grain. 
He was accused of pulling up as much com and oats as 
crows, and of eating clover seed ; but he is now recognized 
as "one of the most useful allies of agriculture, standing 
almost without a peer as a destroyer of noxious insects." ^ 

So untiring is he in his search, that he uses his long 
sharp bill, even while snow is on the ground, to probe the 
earth for larvae. He rids the fields of grasshoppers, 
crickets, beetles, caterpillars, flies, spiders, and "thousand- 
legs." Grasshoppers are his favorite delicacy. Profes- 
sor Beal states that these insects form three-fourths of the 
meadowlark's food during August. He eats also large 
numbers of the white grubs of beetles "which are among 
the worst enemies of many cultivated crops, notably 
grasses and grains, and to a less extent of strawberries 
and garden vegetables." ^ 

* Written by Coleridge about the European skylark, but applicable to 
our meadowlark. 

* & "^ Farmers' Bulletin 630 and 755, U. S. Department of Agriculture, 
Biological Survey. 

[125] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

Like the quail, meadowlarks destroy weed seeds, which 
are eaten mostly in winter. When insects are obtainable, 
they are greatly preferred. 

A search for a meadowlark's nest is an exciting adven- 
ture that keeps one alert. It is usually found by accident, 
perhaps after the wary builder has ceased trying to de- 
ceive the searcher. A sight of the speckled eggs or young 
fledglings in their cozy home with a grass-arched doorway 
is not soon forgotten. 

Unlike quail, baby meadowlarks are unable to run 
about as soon as they are out of the egg, but remain 
for two weeks in their cleverly camouflaged home, where 
they are often the prey of snakes a d other enemies. 
Meadowlarks are now being widely protected, for many 
farmers regard them as one of their greatest assets. 



[126] 




V, -^Huce. Ho^ 



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FLICKER 



THE NORTHERN FLICKER OR 
GOLDEN-WINGED WOODPECKER 

Woodpecker Family — Picidce 

Length: About 12 inches; one of our largest common birds. 

General Appearance: A large brown bird with a red patch 
on the back of the head, conspicuous white rump 
and yellow lining of wings, which distinguish it from 
the brown meadowlark with its white tail-feathers. 

Male: Top of head and neck gray; a crescent of red across 
nape; cheeks and throat pinkish-brown, separated 
by black patches; strong bill 1^ inches long; under 
parts pinkish-brown and white, heavily spotted 
with black; a black crescent separates throat and 
breast. Back and upper wing-feathers a grayish- 
brown, barred with black; large white patch at rump 
very conspicuous in flight; upper tail-coverts black 
and white; tail black above, yellow underneath. 

Female: Like male, except for the absence of black patches at 
the sides of the throat. 

Notes: A loud che-ack'; also a note which Mr. Frank M. Chap- 
man says "can be closely imitated by the swishing 
of a willow-wand: weechew, weechew, weechew^ ^ 
Flickers drum frequently on boughs, also, and give 
a loud, rapid flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, 
flick, flick, flicker, — which may be called, by cour- 
tesy, their song. 

Habitat: Open woods, fields, orchards, and gardens, where 
trees or ant-hills are to be found. 

Kange: Northern and eastern North America. Breeds in the 
forested regions of Alaska and Canada; in the United 

1 From "Birds of Eastern North America," by Frank M. Chapman. 

[127] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

States east of the Rockies and southward to the Gulf 
Coast and Texas in the winter. Resident in the U. S. 
except in the more northern parts. 

The SOUTHERN FLICKER, a resident as far south as 
southern Florida and central Texas, is smaller and 
darker than the Northern Flicker. 

The RED-SHAFTED FLICKER, a wcstern species, has 
red cheek-patches instead of black, red wing and tail 
feathers, instead of yellow; it lacks the red band on 
the head. It is found in the Rocky Mt. and Pacific 
Coast regions from British Columbia to Mexico, and 
east to western Texas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. 
In regions where the northern flicker also is found, 
these two species have hybridized. In the National 
Museum of Washington there are numerous speci- 
mens of these hybrids, where the red and black 
cheek-patches, the red and yellow wing-feathers and 
red band on the head appear in various unusual com- 
binations. 

THE Flicker is a bird of distinction. A glimpse of 
him at once arouses interest, curiosity, and a de- 
sire for further acquaintance. He is handsome, well set 
up, full of vitality and power — the personification of ef- 
ficiency. 

We like his cheerful voice — a trifle too loud for a gen- 
tleman of refinement, but a welcome sound in the season 
when the whole world wishes to shout with joy at the re- 
lease from winter's confinement. Thoreau wrote: "Ah, 
there is the note of the first flicker, a prolonged, monoto- 
nous wick-wick-wick-ivick-wick-wick, etc., or, if you please, 
quick, quick, quick, heard far over and through the dry 
leaves. But how that single sound peoples and enriches 
all the woods and fields. They are no longer the same 
woods and fields that they were. This note really quickens 

[128] 



THE NORTHERN FLICKER 

what was dead. It seems to put life into the withered 
grass and leaves and bare twigs, and henceforth the days 
shall not be as they have been. It is as when a family, 
your neighbors, return to an empty house after a long 
absence, and you hear the cheerful hum of voices and 
the laughter of children. ... So the flicker makes his 
voice ring. ... It is as good as a house-warming to all 
nature." ^ 

We cannot repress a smile as we watch this golden- 
winged woodpecker striving to make a favorable impres- 
sion upon Miss Flicker. He and a group of rivals take 
amusing, awkward attitudes, make a variety of noisy but 
pleasant calls, and without any ill-tempered quarreling, 
select their mates and "live happily ever after." 

Though a woodpecker, the flicker departs from family 
habits and traditions by seeking his livelihood on the 
ground in preference to tree-trunks. He is a foe to the 
industrious ant that we were taught to admire along with 
the "busy bee." But ants destroy timber, infest houses, 
and cause the spread of aphids that are enemies of garden 
plants; therefore the ant's destroyei, the flicker, is a neigh- 
borhood benefactor and deserves our heartfelt protection. 
Professor Beal reports finding 3,000 ants in the stomach 
of each of two flickers and fully 5,000 in that of another.^ 
These insects form almost half of this bird's food. His 
long, sticky tongue is especially adapted to their capture. 
He likes grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and caterpillars, 
and while he enjoys fruit, he takes little that is of any 
value to man. 

2 From "Early Spring in Massachusetts," by H. D. Thoreau, pages 160 
and 161. 

3 Farmers' Bulletin 630, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey, 

[129] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

Most northern flickers migrate. They remain during 
the winter in some localities, as Cape Cod, where food is 
sufficiently abundant. Mr. Forbush tells of flickers that 
have bored holes in summer cottages on the Cape, and 
spent the winters in rooms which they damaged by their 
habit of "pecking." He states that bird-boxes contain- 
ing large entrances placed on the outside of the houses 
or on the trees near by, would have prevented those flickers 
from forming the "criminal habit of breaking and enter- 
ing." ^ Red-Shafted Flickers have also been found guilty 
of the same crime, and have entered not only dwellings, 
but school-houses and church steeples.^ 

Though rather shy birds, they often approach inhabited 
houses and frequently cause amusing situations because 
of their regular drumming on roof or wall. In Florida, 
a young -woman whom I know was once aroused from her 
early morning's sleep by a flicker's knock, and drowsily 
responded with a "Come in." A friend and I, spending 
a week-end in an Ohio summer cottage that possessed no 
alarm-clock, asked to be called in time for a very early 
boat. We heard a knocking, arose, dressed quietly to 
avoid disturbing the household, and then found that our 
summons had come from flickers on the roof, and that 
we had lost about two hours of precious morning's sleep. 

Flickers have more local names than almost any other 
bird. Over one hundred names have been recorded, of 
which "Yellowhammer," and "Golden-winged Wood- 
pecker," are perhaps most common. 

* From "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush, pages 
261 and 262. 

s Farmers' Bulletin 513, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Biological 
Survey, H. W. Henshaw. 

[130] 




RED-HEADED WOODPECKER 



THE RED-HEADED WOODPECKER 

Woodpecker Family — Picidce 

Length: About 9-)4 inches; nearly as large as a robin. 

General Appearance : A black and white bird with entire head 
arul neck bright red. 

Male and Female: Head, neck, throat, and upper part of the 
breast brilliant red; upper part of back and wings 
black; longer wing-feathers or primaries also black; 
lower back and secondary wing-feathers white; un- 
der parts white; tail pointed, black, margined with 
white. In flight, the areas of red, black, and white 
are very distinct. 

Young: Brown heads and necks, mottled with black; upper 
parts of backs barred with light brown. The other 
parts of their bodies resemble those of their parents. 

Note: No song, but a loud, cheerful Quir-r-r-k? Quir-r-r-k? 
and a drumming sound, similar to that made by 
other woodpeckers. 

Habitat: Open woods, groves of beeches preferred. 

Nest: In hollow tree-trunks or telegraph-poles. 

Range: From southeastern British Columbia, to Ontario, south 
to the Gulf Coast, and from central Montana, Col- 
orado, and Texas east to the valleys of the Hudson 
and Delaware; rare in New England. Irregularly 
migratory in the northern parts of its range. 

THIS conspicuous bird is one of the handsomest 
members of the Woodpecker family. He is the 
only one really entitled to the name of Red-Headed Wood- 
pecker. His male relatives wear only small skull-caps 
placed on their crowns at various angles; he possesses 

[131] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

a sort of toboggan-cap pulled down over his head and 
tucked into his black coat and white vest-front. 

Many stories and legends are told of this woodpecker. 
He is the delight of children in localities where he is to 
be found. I remember how I used to look for the red 
hood and the black shawl worn over a white dress, espe- 
cially noticeable in flight. I never tired of watching one 
of these birds approach his nest in a tall dead tree with 
food in his mouth. At a signal from him, his wife's red 
head would appear in the doorway. She would emerge; 
he would then enter and remain with the children until 
her return. 

Redheads have not been popular with farmers, who 
have accused them of various crimes. They have been 
caught eating small fruit and corn on the ear, destroying 
both the eggs and young of other birds, and boring holes 
in telegraph-poles in which to build their nests. While 
individuals may be guilty of such misdemeanors, the red- 
heads are probably neither so black nor so gory, except 
in plumage, as they are painted. 

These woodpeckers are not such persistent destroyers 
of insects as others of their family. They have a decided 
preference for beetles, but eat fewer ants and larvae than 
do the Downy and Hairy woodpeckers. They are excep- 
tionally fond of vegetable food; their preference for beech- 
nuts is very great. Dr. C. Hart Merriam states that in 
northern New York, where the redhead is one of the com- 
monest woodpeckers, it subsists almost exclusively on 
beechnuts during the fall and winter, even pecking the 
green nuts before they are ripe and while the trees are 
still covered with leaves. He has shown that these wood- 
peckers invariably remain throughout the winter after 

[132] 



THE RED-HEADED WOODPECKER 

good nut-yields and migrate whenever the nut-crop fails.* 
"In central Indiana during a good beechnut year, from 
the time the nuts began to ripen, the redheads were al- 
most constantly on the wing; passing from the beeches 
to some place of deposit. They hid the nuts in almost 
every conceivable situation. Many were placed in cav- 
ities in partly decayed trees; and the felling of an old 
beech was certain to provide a feast for the children. 
Large handfuls were taken from a single knot hole. They 
were often found under a patch of raised bark, and single 
nuts were driven into cracks in the bark. Others were 
thrust into cracks in gate-posts; and a favorite place of 
deposit was behind long slivers on fence-posts. In a few 
cases grains of corn were mixed with beechnuts. Nuts 
were often driven into cracks in the end of railroad ties, 
and the birds were often seen on the roofs of houses 
pounding nuts into crevices between the shingles. In sev- 
eral instances the space formed by a board springing away 
from a fence was nearly filled with nuts, and afterwards 
pieces of bark and wood were brought and driven over 
the nuts as if to hide them from poachers." ^ 

In summer, Dr. Merriam has seen the redheads "make 
frequent sallies into the air after passing insects, which 
were almost invariably secured." He has also seen them 
catch grasshoppers on the ground in a pasture. 

They are cheerful, active birds, with a call like that of 
a giant tree-toad. Their brilliant plumage has unfortu- 
nately made them a good target for sportsmen. 

^ Bulletin No. 37, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey. 
= The Auk, IV, 194, 195, 1887. 0. P. Hay. 



[133] 



THE REDBELLIED WOODPECKER 

Woodpecker Family — Picidce 

Length: About 9^4 inches. 

Male: Crown of head and back of neck bright red, resembling 
slightly that of the red-headed woodpecker, but 
throat and cheeks gray; back and wings barred with 
white, the barring reminding one of the flicker. 
Under parts gray washed with red; tail black and 
white; upper tail-coverts white, streaked with black. 

Female: Crown gray, nostrils and neck bright red. 

Kotes: Mr. Frank Chapman writes of this woodpecker: "It 
ascends a tree in a curious, jerky fashion, accom- 
panying each upward move by a hoarse chu-chu. It 
also utters k-r-r-r-ring roll and, when mating, a 
whicker call like that of the Flicker." ^ 

Habitat: Open woods of deciduous trees and conifers; also 
groves of live-oak, palmettoes, and other southern 
trees, where these birds may be seen in company 
with flickers. 

IRange: From southern Canada and eastern United States 
southward; abundant in the Southern States; rare in 
New England; is found in western New York and 
south-western Pennsylvania, and Delaware, south to 
central Texas and the Gulf States. 

PROFESSOR DEAL made the following report re- 
garding this woodpecker: "The red-bellied wood- 
pecker ranges over the eastern United States as far west 
as central Texas and eastern Colorado and as far north as 

1 From "Birds of Eastern North America," by Frank M. Chapman, used 
with permission of D. Appleton & Co. 

[134] 




Female 

JMalo 

VKIJ.OW-BIOLLIKI) SAPSr(M<i:iJ 



Female 
Male 

RKD-HKLLIKD W(K)DPTX-KKR 



THE RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER 

New York, southern Ontario, Michigan, and southern 
Minnesota. It breeds throughout this range and appears 
to be irregularly migratory. It appears to go north of 
its breeding range sometimes to spend the winter. Four 
stomachs, collected in November and December, were re- 
ceived from Canada, and in eight years' residence in cen- 
tral Iowa die writer found the species abundant every win- 
ter, but never saw one in the breeding season. It is rather 
more of a forest bird than some of the other woodpeckers, 
but is frequently seen in open or thinly timbered country. 
In die northern part of its range it appears to prefer de- 
ciduous growth, but in die South is very common in pine 
forests. 

"Ants are a fairly constant article of diet. The most 
are taken during the warmer months. Evidently this bird 
does not dig all the ants which it eats from decaying wood, 
like the downy woodpecker, but, like the flickers, collects 
them from the ground and the bark of trees. 

"In Florida, the bird has been observed to eat oranges 
to an injurious extent. It attacks the over-ripe fruit and 
pecks holes in it and sometimes completely devours it. 
The fruit selected is that which is dead ripe or partly de- 
cayed, so it is not often that the damage is serious. The 
bird sometimes attacks the trunks of the orange trees as 
well as others and does some harm. The contents of the 
stomachs, however, show that wild fruits are preferred, 
and probably only when these have been replaced by cul- 
tivated varieties is any mischief done." ^ 

2 Farmers' Bulletin 506, U. S. Dcpt. of Agriculture, Biological Survey. 



[135] 



THE YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER 

Woodpecker Family — Picidos 

Length: About 8^/2 inches, larger than the Downy, and smaller 
than the Red-headed woodpecker. 

General Appearance: A medium-sized bird, with bars, stripes, 
and patches of black and white. The scarlet crown, 
the black band across the breast, and the scarlet 
throat of the males are distinguishing marks. 

Male: Crown and throat bright red; bill long; head with 
broad black and white stripes, extending to neck. 
The black stripe beginning at bill unites with a 
black crescent that encloses red throat. Breast and 
belly light yellow; sides gray, streaked with black; 
back black, barred with white; wings black, with 
large white patches, white bars, and spots; middle 
tail-feathers, white and black; outer tail-feathers 
mostly black. 

Female: Resembles male, but throat is usually white instead 
of scarlet. 

Young: Similar to parents, but with dull blackish crowns, 
whitish throats, and brownish-gray breasts. 

Notes: A faint call-note; a ringing call, consisting of several 
similar notes. 

Habitat: Tree-trunks, into which these birds drill holes and 
thus kill the trees. 

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from the tree-belt of 
Canada to northern Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, moun- 
tains of Massachusetts and North Carolina; winters 
from Pennsylvania and Ohio Valley to the Gulf 
Coast, Bahamas, Cuba, and Costa Rica. 



T 



HE Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is the renegade of 
the woodpecker family — the transgressor that has 

[136] 



THE YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER 

called down anathemas upon all his tribe. He does more 
damage in some localities than others. Mr. Forbush re- 
ports tliat while the sapsucker has undoubtedly killed trees 
in northern New England where he breeds, yet in thirty 
years he has done no appreciable harm in Massachusetts. 

Dr. Henry Henshaw, formerly Qiief of the Biological 
Survey, writes: "The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, unlike 
other woodpeckers, does comparatively little good and 
much harm." Mr. Henshaw reports 250 kinds of trees 
known to have been attacked by sapsuckers and left with 
"girdles of holes" or "blemishes known as bird-pecks, 
especially numerous in hickory, oak, cypress, and yellow 
poplar." * 

The experience of Dr. Sylvester Judd at Marshall Hall, 
Maryland, was as follows: "In the summer of 1895 
there was on the Bryan farm a little orchard of nine ap- 
ple trees, about twelve years old, tliat appeared perfectly 
healthy. In the fall sapsuckers tapped them in many 
places, and during spring and fall of the next four years 
they resorted to them regularly for supplies of sap. Ob- 
servations were made (October 15, 1896) of two sap- 
suckers in adjoining trees of the orchard. From a point 
twenty feet distant they were watched for three hours with 
powerful glasses to see whether they fed to any consider- 
able extent on ants or other insects that were running over 
the tree-trunks. In that time one bird seized an ant and 
the other snapped at some flying insect. One drank sap 
from the holes thirty and the other forty-one times. Later 
in the day, one drilled two new holes and the other five. 
The holes were made in more or less regular rings about 
the trunk, one ring close above another, for a distance of 

1 Farmers' Bulletin 513, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey. 

[137] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

six to eight inches. The drills were about a quarter of 
an inch deep, and penetrated the bark and the outer part 
of the wood. 

"In November, 1900, seven of the nine trees were dead 
and the others were dying. The loss of sap must have 
been an exhausting drain, but it was not the sole cause 
of death. Beetles of the flat-headed apple-borer, attracted 
by the exuding sap, had oviposited in the holes, and the 
next generation, having thus gained an entrance, had fin- 
ished the deadly work begun by the sapsuckers." ^ 

Mr. W. L. McAtee, of the Biological Survey, made the 
following report on sapsuckers: "These birds have short, 
brushy tongues not adapted to the capture of insects, while 
the other woodpeckers have tongues with barbed tips which 
can be extended to spear luckless borers or other insects 
whose burrows in the wood have been reached by their 
powerful beaks. The sapsuckers practically do not feed 
on wood-borers or other forest enemies. Their chief in- 
sect food is ants. About 15 per cent, of their diet con- 
sists of cambium and the inner bark of trees, and they 
drink a great deal of sap. 

"The parts of the tree injured by sapsuckers are those 
that carry the rich sap which nourishes the growing wood 
and bark. Sapsucker pecking disfigures ornamental trees, 
giving rise to pitch streams, gummy excrescences, and de- 
formities of the trunks. Small fruit trees, especially the 
apple, are often killed, and whole young orchards have 
been destroyed. 

"These birds inflict much greater financial loss by pro- 
ducing defects in the wood of the far larger number of 

2 "Birds of a Maryland Farm," by Sylvester D. Judd— Bulletin 17, 
Biological Survey. 

[138] 



THE YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER 

trees which they work upon but do not kilL Blemishes 
frequently render the trees unfit for anything except 
coarse construction and fuel. 

"Hickory trees are favorites of sapsuckers. It is es- 
timated that about 10 per cent, of the merchantable ma- 
terial is left in the woods on account of bird pecks. On 
this basis the annual loss on hickory is about $600,000. 
To this must be added the loss on timber by the 
manufacturer." ^ 

It is no wonder that war has been declared upon sap- 
suckers; but it is very sad that because of a lack of care- 
ful observation of the distinctive markings of tree-trunk 
birds, many useful woodpeckers, especially the Downy 
and Hairy, have been sacrificed. 

Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers may be readily iden- 
tified by a broad white stripe extending down the center 
of the back, a small patch of red on the back of the head, 
pure white throats and breasts, and wings barred with 
white. A red forehead and crown (and red throat of 
males), a black crescent across the breast, large white 
patches on the wings, a back with black and white bars in- 
stead of a white streak, differentiate this sapsucker from 
the Downy and Hairy woodpeckers. The yellow belly is 
not a conspicuous "field-mark." 

There are several species of sapsucker in the West. 
The YELLOW-BELLIED is found in western Texas; the RED- 
NAPED SAPSUCKER in the Rocky Mt. region, from British 
Columbia to northwestern Mexico, and from Colorado and 
Montana to the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mts.; the RED- 
EREASTED SAPSUCKER in Uie Canadian forests of the Pa- 
cific Coast region, from Alaska to Lower California, east 

3 Farmers' Bulletin 506, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey. 

[1391 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

to the Cascades and Sierra Nevadas; and the willumson 
SAPSUCKER, from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mts. 
westward to the Pacific, and from Arizona and New Mex- 
ico to British Columbia.* The last-named species is a 
great devourer of ants. 

* Bulletin No. 37, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey. 



[140] 




MOURNING DOVE 



THE MOURNING DOVE 
Pigeon Family — Columbidce 

Length: Nearly 12 inches; tail 5^ inches. 

General Appearance: A large, plump, grayish-brown bird, 
with a small head, a black mark below the ear, and 
a long pointed tail, in contrast to the round, fan- 
shaped tail of tame pigeons. 

Male: Upper parts a soft grayish-brown, except the head, 
which is bluish-gray on the crown, with a pinkish- 
buff forehead, and the wings, which have long, gray 
primaries. Sides of neck beautifully iridescent, with 
a small black spot below the ear, an identification- 
mark; black spots on the lower part of breast and 
wings; breast with a pinkish tinge, and underneath 
the tail pale yellow; tail long and sharply pointed 
when the bird is at rest. In flight, it resembles the 
jay's in shape; the middle feathers are brown, like 
the back; outer feathers largely white; others brown, 
tipped with white and banded with black; feet and 
legs red. 

Female: Duller than male, with less iridescence on neck. 

Note: A soft, monotonous coo-oo-a-coo-o-o, uttered mourn- 
fully and with great tenderness. The sound is 
pleasing to some people, but unendurable to 
others. 

Habitat: Open woodltuids, or fields bordered with trees. 

Range: North America. Breeds chiefly from southern Can- 
ada throughout the United States and Mexico; 
winters from southern Oregon, Colorado, the Ohio 
Valley, and North Carolina to Panama; casual in 
winter in the Middle States. 

[141] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

MOURNING doves, whose "billing and cooing" 
have become proverbial, are as devoted pairs of 
lovers as may be found in the bird-world. The ardent 
male appears to seek the society of none except his lovmg 
mate. She seems perfectly satisfied with his attentions 
and evidently gives him her whole heart. 

Madame Dove is a very inefficient housekeeper. Her 
nest, built of rough sticks, and notoriously ill-constructed 
— is a sort of platform on which two white eggs are laid. 
It is a wonder that they remain in safety long enough to be 
hatched, for the nests are often not more than ten feet 
from the ground. Were not her twin-babies as phleg- 
matic as their parents, they might roll out of bed and come 
to an untimely end. 

It is fortunate that the easy-going mother does not need 
to prepare the bountiful repasts her family demand. She 
and her husband select a home-site near fields where weeds 
abound and where grain is raised. The family gorge 
themselves upon seeds until they almost burst. Mr. 
Charles Nash says that "these birds are often so full of 
seeds that, if a bird is shot, the crop bursts open when it 
strikes the ground." ^ 

They are of enormous economic value. Their food is 
almost entirely vegetable, and consists largely of the seeds 
of weeds that a farmer must pay to have destroyed or 
work hard to eradicate. Doves frequent fields of wheat, 
corn, buckwheat, rye, oats, and barley, but the grain they 
destroy is only a third of their food, and consists largely 
of waste kernels, according to the reports of the Depart- 
ment of Agriculture.^ They like many varieties of in- 

1 "Useful Birds and Their Protection"— E. H. Forbush, page 324. 

2 Farmers' Bulletin 513, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey. 

[142] 



iTHE MOURNING DOVE 

finitesimal seeds that are eschewed by other birds; as 
many as 9200 seeds have been found in the stomach of 
one dove. 

These birds have an unerring instinct for fresh water. 
With a peculiar, whistling sound, they fly at nightfall to 
a spring or pool for a cool drink before retiring. Hun- 
ters are said to have watched them and thus found springs 
for their needs.' 

Doves eat quantities of gravel to aid in the digestion of 
their epicurean feasts. They are fond of dust-baths. 
They also indulge in queer, senseless-looking acrobatic 
performances, which appear like attempts at gymnastics. 

3 "Life Histories of North American Birds," — Maj. Chas. Bendire. 



[143] 



THE BELTED KINGFISHER 

Kingfisher Family — Alcedinidce 

Length: About 13 inches — a rather large, stocky bird. 

General Appearance: A large bluish-gray and white bird, 
with a very large crested head, a long bill, and a 
short tail. 

Male: Bluish-gray above, becoming darker on the wings; a 
ragged-looking crest on an unusually large head; a 
white spot in front of each large dark eye; small 
flecks on the wings; tail bluish-gray, flecked and 
barred with white; throat white, a band of white ex- 
tending nearly around the neck; a broad band of 
bluish-gray extending across the breast; under parts 
white, except the sides, which are bluish-gray; feet 
relatively small, but with long, strong nails. 

Female: Similar to the male, except for a band of reddish- 
brown across the breast, extending to the sides, and 
forming a fourth belt; a white belt at the throat, 
then gray, white, and reddish-brown belts. Unlike 
most birds, the female kingfisher is more highly 
colored than the male. 

Note: A long harsh rattle, similar to the sound made by two 
bones or smooth sticks in the hands of a boy, or 
to the noise of a policeman's rattle. 

Habitat: "By a wooded stream or a clear cool pond. 

Or the shores of a shining lake." 

Range: North America, and northern South America. Breeds 
from Alaska and northern Canada to the southern 
border of the United States; winters from British 
Columbia, central United States to the West Indies, 
Colombia, and Guiana, irregularly to Massachusetts, 
New Hampshire, and Ontario. 
[144] 




KINGFISHER 



THE BELTED KINGFISHER 

THIS self-appointed guardian of our streams and 
lakes is clad in a suit of gendarme blue. He wears 
a sharp two-edged sword in his cap, and carries a rattle 
in his throat. 

He is a perfect example of "Watchful Waiting," as he 
sits motionless on a bough overhanging a stream, with 
his fierce eyes fixed intently upon the waters beneath him. 
When an unwary fish swims by, this blue-coat plunges 
after it and spears it with deadly accuracy. If small, 
the fish is swallowed whole; if large, it is beaten to death 
against a tree, and devoured with difficulty. When fish 
are not obtainable, the kingfisher will eat frogs and crus- 
taceans, and sometimes grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles. 
Fish, however, are his favorite food.^ 

The nest is as unusual and interesting as the bird him- 
self. It consists of a tunnel excavated in a bank by the 
long knife-shaped bills of the kingfisher and his mate. 
A cavity of good size must be hollowed out to accommo- 
date so large a bird and a family of from five to eight 
lusty youngsters. They are lively and quarrelsome; they 
set up a great clamor when Father or Mother arrives 
with an already-prepared fish-dinner. Dr. Francis H. 
Herrick, in his delightful book, "The Home Life of Wild 
Birds," tells of his observations of a kingfisher's nest and 
nesting habits as follows: "The nest had a 4 inch bore; 
4 feet from the opening was a vaulted chamber 6 inches 
high and 10 inches across. . . ." 

A series of rattles announced the approach of the parent 
bird "who came at full tilt with a fish in her bill, making 
the earth resound." In response came "muffled rattles of 

1 Educational Leaflet No. 19, National Association of Audubon Societies. 

[145] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

five young kingfishers, who issued from their subterranean 
abode. . . . With a rattle in shrillest crescendo, she 
bolted right into the hole, delivered the fish, remained for 
half a minute, then came out backwards, turning in the 
air as she dropped from the entrance, and with a parting 
rattle was off to the river." 

There were five babies in what Dr. Herrick called the 
"King Row." They were amusing to look at as they 
sat back on their legs; the bill of one nestling protruded 
above the shoulder of the bird in front of it. They never 
seized their food (fish) of their own accord. "It was 
necessary to open their bills and press the food well down 
into the distensible throats." Raw meat was rejected, but 
they throve on fish. "Kingfishers' throats are lined with 
inwardly projecting papillae s-o that when a fish is once 
taken in its throat, it is impossible for it to e^ape." ^ 

The young kingfishers that Dr. Herrick observed be- 
came very tame. He is pictured with them on his hand, 
his shoulder, and on both knees. 

While kingfishers do less good than most of our feath- 
ered benefactors, they do not destr-oy enough fish to be 
a detriment to the fishing interests of lakes and streams. 
They are true sportsmen, whose presence we should miss 
when we followed the rod and creel. We are forced to 
respect their prowess, and we may apostrophize them in 
the words of Izaac Walton: "Angling is an Art, and you 
know that Art better than others ; and that this is the truth 
is demonstrated by the fruits of that pleasant labor which 
you enjoy." 

2 From "Tlie Home Life of Wild Birds," by Francis H. Herrick. Used 
with the permission of the author, and of his publishers, G. P. Putnam 
& G). 

[146] 






^r^-: tS^I^JNMr 




^P^'V' '^.■^'wm^ 






FIELD SPARROW 





THE FIELD SPARROW 

Finch Family — Fringillidce 

Length: About S^/o inches. 

General Appearance: A small brown bird with a reddish back 
and bill, and a buff breast without spots or streaks. 

Male and Female: Top of head reddish-brown; sides of head, 
nape of neck, and line over eye gray ; bill reddish- 
brown; back reddish-brown, streaked with black and 
gray; rump brownish-gray; wings and tail brown, 
some wing-feathers edged with gray; sides and breast 
washed with buff. 

Song: A sweet trill, consisting of the syllable dee repeated 
a number of times. It varies with diflferent individ- 
uals, but is phrased somewhat as follows: Dee' -dee'- 
dee', de'-de, de'-de, de'-de, de'-d&, de'-de, de'-d^. 

Habitat: Old overgrown pastures containing clumps of bushes, 
preferred to cultivated fields. This sparrow is not 
accurately named, for it is not strictly a bird of the 
fields. 

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from southern Min- 
nesota, Michigan, Quebec, and Maine to central 
Texas, Louisiana, and northern Florida; winters 
from Missouri, Illinois, southern Pennsylvania, and 
New Jersey to the Gulf Coast. 

SOME gorgeous but noisy birds, like blue jays, pea- 
cocks, and parrots, please only the eye; many quietly- 
dressed but sweet-voiced songsters are a delight to the 
ear. To the latter class belongs the Field Sparrow, a 
gentle little bird, so rarely seen as to recall to our minds 
the lines: 

[147] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

"Shall I call thee Bird 
Or but a wandering Voice? 

• ••••• 

Even yet thou art to me 
No bird, but an invisible thing, 
A voice, a mystery." 

It was several years after I had learned to love the 

sweet, tender song of the field sparrow that I had my first 

glimpse of the singer. He is a very real and delightful 

part of our April meadows, where he lives his serene life. 



[14S] 



^i 








'*^:\ #i^>f^ 



■i*--?' " 






7 




VESPER SPARROW 



THE VESPER SPARROW 

Finch Family — Fringillidcs 

Length: A little over 6 inches; slightly larger than the field 
sparrow. 

Male and Female: Brownish-gray above, with faint streaks of 
black and buff; wings brownish, with bright reddish- 
brown shoulders, giving this sparrow the name of 
Bay-Winged Bunting. Under parts white, the sides 
and breast streaked with black and buff; tail brown- 
ish, with outer tail-featliers mostly white, and con- 
spicuous in flight. 

Song: A plaintive minor strain, usually consisting of two 
notes followed by a trill. The syllables sound like 
Sweet' -heart, I love you-you-you-you-you. 

Habitat: Grassy pastures and plowed fields, usually in the 
open, away from farmhouses and out-buildings. 

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from central Canada 
south to eastern Nebraska, central Missouri, Ken- 
tucky, Virginia, and North Carolina, west to western 
Minnesota; winters from the southern part of its 
breeding range to the Gulf Coast, west to central 
Texas. 

THE Vesper Sparrow is very easy to identify because 
of its white tail-feathers. They show conspicuously 
as the bird flutters beside hedges that border fields, fre- 
quently keeping just ahead of the observer. 

The bird is less attractive in appearance than the other 
familiar sparrows, but has to my mind the sweetest voice 
of all the sparrows that I know except the fox sparrow. 
Its song is pensive and tender, with a spiritual quality 

[149] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

that gives it a high rank. The song sparrow's lay usually 
consists of three similar notes sung in a major key with 
a rising inflection, and followed by a cheerful trill; the 
vesper sparrow's song generally has two plaintive notes 
preceding a trill, sung in a minor key. It is particularly 
beautiful and uplifting when several vesper sparrows are 
singing at sunset. 

THE VESPER SPARROW 

When the meadows are brown or flushed with greens 

And the lark's glad note rings clear, — 
When the field sparrow's voice like a silver bell 

Chimes a melody sweet to hear, — 
A small brown bird with bay-capped wings 

And feathers white in his tail, 
Flutters along by a roadside hedge 

And alights on a zigzag rail, 
And breathes forth a song entrancing, 

Of a beauty surpassed by few — 
A wistful, plaintive, minor strain — 

"0 Sweetheart, I love you!" 

When a mist of green o'erspreads the trees, 

And corals and rubies gay 
Are hung on the maple and red-bud boughs, 

And the brooks are babbling away, — 
When the setting sun goes down in a glow 

Of the purest primrose gold, 
And the pearly east reflects a flush 

From the glories the west doth hold, — 
This brown bird then, with a soul in his voice, 

Sings to his mate so true 
The tenderest song of the April choir — 

''O Sweetheart, I love you!" 

[150] 







^- -.A 



CHIPPING SPARROW 



THE CHIPPING SPARROW 

Finch Family — Fringillidce 

Length: A little over 5 inches; the smallest of our common 
sparrows. 

Male and Female: Crown reddish-brown, bill black; a black 
line extending through the eye; a gray line above 
the eye; back, wings, and tail brown; tail forked; 
rump gray; breast pale gray without streaks or spots. 
In the fall, the reddish crown becomes brown, 
streaked with black. 

Call-note : Chip-chip. 

Song: A monotonous trill. Chippy-chip py-chip py-chippy- 
chippy-chippy-chippy, more like the metallic sound 
made by a locust than the song of a bird. 

Habitat : A "doorstep" bird that loves to spend the spring and 
summer near man. It is found in gardens, orchards, 
and plowed fields. 

Nest: An unusually dainty nest made of grass and fine root- 
fibers, lined with horsehair, which has given to the 
chipping sparrow the name of "hair-bird." The 
nest is built in trees or low bushes, sometimes very 
near the ground. 

Eggs: Four or five pale-green eggs, mottled with dark mark- 
ings. 

Range: North America, from central Canada to Central Amer- 
ica; commonest in the east. 

THIS gentle, trustful sparrow is a general favorite. 
He is an unobtrusive little bird, seemingly con- 
tented to occupy his place in the world near to the haunts 
of man, unconsciously doing his important work without 

[151] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

noisy demonstration. Like the brown creeper and the 
phoebe, he is of great economic value; like them, he is not 
particularly interesting, and he is without skill as a song- 
ster. But his monotonous trill is a pleasant part of the 
spring chorus, and his presence in our yards we should 
sorely miss. 

Mr. Forbush speaks in high praise of this bird's use- 
fulness. He claims that the chippy is "the most destruc- 
tive of all birds to the injurious pea-louse, which caused 
a loss of three million dollars to the pea-crop of a single 
state in one year." ^ This sparrow eats the grubs that 
feed on beet-leaves, cabbages, and other vegetables; he 
devours cankerworms and currant worms, besides gypsy, 
brown-tail, and tent caterpillars, any one of which would 
entitle him to our protection. In the fall, with the de- 
crease of life in the garden, he takes to the fields, where 
like other sparrows he feasts on seeds. 

If it were more generally known how invaluable chip- 
ping sparrows are, people would guard them more care- 
fully from marauding cats. I wish it might become as 
unlawful to let cats stalk abroad during the nesting season 
as it is to allow unmuzzled dogs to go about freely during 
dog-days. I know of a bird-lover near Painesville, Ohio, 
who never during nesting-time allowed her pet cat to stir 
outside of a good-sized enclosure without a weight attached 
to his collar. Some people have put bells on their cats' 
necks, but while that is efficacious in alarming parent- 
birds, it is of no value in preventing the slaughter of 
young birds that have just left the nest. Mr. Forbush 
has written an appeal, which I wish was more widely 
known and heeded. It is called "The Domestic Cat" and 

iFrom "Useful Birds and their Protection," by E. H. Forbush. 

[152] 



THE CHIPPING SPARROW 

was published under the direction of the Massachusetts 
State Board of Agricuhure. 

Mr. Forbush wrote to such eminent experts and author- 
ities on bird-life as Robert Ridgway, Dr. Frank M. Chap- 
man, Dr. Witmer Stone, Dr. Henry W. Henshaw, Dr. 
William T. Hornaday, John Burroughs, William Dutcher, 
T. Gilbert Pearson, Dr. George W. Field, Dr. C. F. Hodge, 
Ernest Harold Baynes, Mrs. Mabel Osgood Weight, and 
others, for their opinions regarding the relative destruc- 
tiveness of cats to the bird-life of the country. They were 
unanimous in their denunciation of cats as the "greatest 
destructive agency to our smaller song and insectivorous 
birds." 

Mrs. Wright says: "If the people of the country insist 
upon keeping cats in the same number as at present, all 
the splendid work of Federal and State legislation, all 
the labors of game- and song-bird protective associations, 
all the loving care of individuals in watching and feeding, 
will not be able to save our birds in many localities." 

Young chipping sparrows are spoiled bird-babies. 
They "tag" their gentle little parents about with unusual 
persistence, knowing that they will get what they demand. 
They frequently look as if they might not turn out to be 
excellent bird-citizens like their ancestors. When a noted 
ornithologist first saw Mr. HorsfalFs original drawing 
of the accompanying family of chipping sparrows he re- 
marked, "That baby looks a million years old and steeped 
in sin!" But the duties of parenthood sober the young- 
sters, and the following year, they become in turn pleasant, 
docile, lovable little "Bird Neighbors." 



[153] 



THE WHITE-THROATED SPARROW 

Finch Family — Fringillidce 

Length: About 6% inches. 

General Appearance: One of the larger sparrows, with a 
black and white striped crown, a white throat, and 
a yellow spot before the eye. 

Male and Female: Striped crown, with a narrow white line 
in the center, a broad black stripe on each side of 
the white; a broad white stripe over the eye edged 
with a narrow black line; a yellow spot in front of 
the eye, and at the outer curve of the wing. Back 
brown, streaked with black; rump and tail grayish- 
brown; wings with two white bars; breast gray, be- 
coming whitish on the belly; sides brownish. 

Notes: A sharp chip for the alarm-note; low, pleasant twitter- 
ings. 

Song: A sweet whistle, usually pitched high. It consists of 
two or three notes that vary considerably. Some- 
times the first note is an octave below the second; 
at other times it is a few tones higher than the sec- 
ond. I heard one recently that sang a perfect mono- 
tone as follows: Dee, dee, de'-de-de, de'-de-de, de'- 
de-de. The song has been interpreted in Massachu- 
setts as 

Sam, Peabody, Peabody, Peabody 

and the bird is known as the "Peabody Bird." 
Habitat: Hedgerows and thickets along roadsides, in parks, 

on estates, and in woods. 
Bange: Eastern and central North America. Breeds from 

north-central Canada to southern Montana, central 

[154] 



THE WHITE-THROATED SPARROW 

Minnesota and Wisconsin, and mountains of north- 
ern Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts; 
winters from Missouri, the Ohio Valley, southern 
Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, (casually in Maine), 
south to northeastern Mexico and Florida. 



[155] 



THE WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW 

Finch Family — Fringillidce 

Length: Nearly 7 inches; a little larger than the white- 
throated sparrow. 

Male and Female: Crown white, bordered on each side by a 
broad black stripe that extends from bill in front 
of the eye; a broad white stripe borders each black 
stripe; a narrow line of black borders the white. 
No yellow on head or wing like that of the white- 
throated sparrow. Cheeks, neck, throat, and under 
parts gray; belly white, sides buff; back, wings, and 
tail brown; back streaked; wings with two white 
bars. 

Song: A sweet whistled strain. 

Habitat: Thickets, woods, and fields. 

Bange: Breeds in Canada, the mountains of New Mexico, Col- 
orado, Wyoming, and Montana, and thence to the 
Pacific Coast; winters in the southern half of the 
United States and in northern Mexico. 

THE White-crowned Sparrow is considered by some 
admirers to be the handsomest member of the spar- 
row tribe. It is not widely known in the East, and is 
sometimes confused with the white-throat. The gray 
throat of the white-crown and the absence of yellow on the 
wing and near the eye, distinguish it from the white-throat. 
In Bulletin 513 of the Biological Survey occurs this 
description of the white-crown: "This beautiful sparrow 
is much more numerous in the western than in the eastern 
States, where indeed it is rather rare. In the East it is 

[156] 



THE WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW 

shy and retiring, but it is much bolder and more conspicu- 
ous in the far West and often frequents gardens and parks. 
Like most of its family it is a seed-eater by preference, 
and insects comprise very little more than 7 per cent, 
of its diet. Caterpillars are the largest item, with some 
beetles, a few ants and wasps, and some bugs, among 
which are black olive scales. The great bulk of food, 
however, consists of weed seeds, which amount to 74 per 
cent, of the whole. In California this bird is accused 
of eating the buds and blossoms of fruit trees, but buds 
or blossoms were found in only 30 out of 516 stomachs, 
and probably it is only under exceptional circumstances 
that it does any damage in this way. Evidently neither 
the farmer nor the fruit-grower has much to fear from 
the -vvhite-crowned sparrow. The little fruit it eats is 
mostly wild, and the grain eaten is waste." 



[157] 



THE PURPLE FINCH 

Finch Family — Fringillidce 

Length: About 63^4 inches; a little smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Adult Male: Body largely raspberry- or rose-red, streaked 
with brown. For two seasons the male is a brown 
sparrowlike bird, with a yellowish-olive chin and 
rump; the third season his body seems to have been 
washed with a beautiful red, not purple, the color 
richest on his head, breast, and rump. Head slightly 
crested; bill thick, with bristles at nostrils; cheeks 
and back brownish; under parts grayish-white; wings 
and tail brownish, edged with red; tail forked. 

Female: Decidedly sparrowlike; body grayish-brown, heavily 
streaked, lighter underneath; patch of light gray ex- 
tending from eye, another from beak; wings dark 
grayish-brown, with indistinct gray bands. She is 
not unlike the song sparrow, except for the ab- 
sence of the three black spots on breast and 
throat. 

Call-note: A sharp, metallic chip. 

Song: A clear, sweet, joyous warble. 

Habitat: Woods, orchards, and gardens. 

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds in central and south- 
ern Canada, and northern United States, in North 
Dakota, central Minnesota, northern Illinois, and 
New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, the Pennsylvania 
mountains, and Long Island; winters from consider- 
ably north of the southern boundary of its breed- 
ing-range to the Gulf Coast, from Texas to Flor- 
ida. 

[158] 



THE PURPLE FINCH 

NONE of our smaller finches, except the goldfinch 
and indigo bunting are more beautiful in color 
tlian tlie purple finch which wears a Tyrian purple, 
rather than the shade we commonly know. 

Few members of the family sing more sweetly and 
joyously than this songster of the treetops. His delight- 
ful warble resembles somewhat the song of the rose- 
breasted grosbeak, and attracts attention wherever the 
bird is to be found. Several purple finches singing from 
neighboring elm trees at once, makes a May or June con- 
cert not easily excelled. Mr. Forbush says: "The song 
of the male is a sudden, joyous burst of melody, vigorous, 
but clear and pure, which no mere words can do justice. 
When, filled with ecstasy, he mounts in air and hangs with 
fluttering wings above the trees where sits the one who 
holds his aflfections, his efforts far transcend his ordinary 
tones, and a continuous melody flows forth, until, ex- 
hausted with his vocal eff^orts, he sinks to the level of his 
spouse in the treetop. This is a musical species, for some 
females sing, though not so well as the males." ^ 

The bird has been accused of eating the buds of fruit 
and shade trees, especially elms, and while he is at times 
guilty, he is not condemned by those who know his food- 
habits best, but commended for his fondness for weed 
seeds, especially ragweed, and for destroying plant-lice, 
cankerworms, cutworms, and ground beetles." 

His cousin, the house finch, or linnet of California, 
who is brighter in color, is more beloved by tourists and 
more hated by fruit-growers than almost any bird in the 
state. Professor Beal writes: "This bird, like the other 

1 & 2 From "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush. 

[159] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

members of its family, is by nature a seed-eater, and be- 
fore the beginning of fruit-growing in California prob- 
ably subsisted upon the seeds of weeds, with an occasional 
wild berry. Now, however, when orchards have extended 
throughout the length and breadth of the state and every 
month from May to December sees some ripening fruit, 
the linnets take their share. As their name is legion, the 
sum total of the fruit that they destroy is more than the 
fruit-raiser can well spare. As the bird has a stout beak, 
it has no difficulty in breaking the skin of the hardest f i-uit 
and feasting upon the pulp, thereby spoiling the fruit and 
giving weaker-billed birds a chance to sample and acquire 
a taste for what they might not otherwise have molested. 
Complaints against this bird have been many and loud. 
. . . Whatever the linnet's sins may be, grain-eating is not 
one of them. In view of the great complaint made 
against their fruit-eating habit, the small quantity found 
in the stomachs taken is somewhat of a surprise. When 
a bird takes a single peck from a cherry or an apricot, it 
spoils the whole fruit, and in this way may ruin half a 
dozen in taking a single meal. That the damage is often 
serious no one will deny. It is noticeable, however, that 
the earliest varieties are the ones most affected; also, that 
in large orchards the damage is not perceptible, while in 
small plantations the whole crop is frequently de- 
stroyed." ^ 

In spite of this troublesome habit, the linnet is a most 
engaging little bird. Its sweet bubbling song, not unlike 
that of the purple finch, adds much to the charm of Cali- 
fornia. 

3 Farmers' Bulletin 630, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey. 

[160] 




TOWHEE 



THE TOWHEE OR CHEWINK 
CALLED ALSO GROUND ROBIN AND CHAREE 

Finch Family — Fringillidce 

Length: About 8|(. inches; smaller than the robin and larger 
than the oriole. 

General Appearance: A black bird with reddish-browa sides, 
black breast, and white belly; outer tail-feathers 
tipped with white. 

Male: Head, back, throat, and breast, a glossy black; wings 
black, outer feathers edged with white; tail black, 
outer edge of outer feather white; three other feath- 
ers partly white, decreasing in size toward middle of 
tail; belly white; eyes dark red. 

Female: Brownish, where male is black. The young are 
streaked with black. 

Call-note: A cheerful cha-ree, uttered with a rising inflection. 
The note is also interpreted as tow hee'? chewink'? 
jaree'? An engaging trait of this bird is his al- 
most invariable response to one imitating his note. 

Song: Two notes, followed by a trill. The song may be trans- 
lated into chip-chur, pussy- pussy-willow . 

Habitat: Woodlands, where he is first found in April scratch- 
ing among old leaves like fox sparrows, white- 
throats, and other members of his family. 

Range: Eastern North Am.erica. Breeds from southern Can- 
ada and Maine to central Kansas and northern 
Georgia; winters from southeastern Nebraska, the 
Ohio and Potomac Valleys to central Texas, the 
Gulf Coast, and southern Florida. 

The WHITE-EYED TOWHEE is found on the Atlantic 
Coast region from about Charleston, South Carolina, 

[161] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

to southern Florida. He resembles his northern 
I cousin except that his eyes are white, and that 

his wings and tail have less white on them. There 
are several species of towhee in our western 
states. 

BEFORE the trees are in leaf, there appears in our 
April woods a lively, trim, and attractive bird who 
makes himself known in no uncertain manner. So bus- 
tling and energetic is he, so cheerful and self-confident, 
without unpleasant aggressiveness, that he always attracts 
attention. The uninitiated frequently call him an oriole, 
whom he does resemble in having a glossy black head, 
throat, back, and tail, and white markings on his wings, 
with reddish-brown like that of the orchard oriole on his 
sides; but there the resemblance ceases, for the oriole has 
in addition a reddish-brown breast, belly, and rump. 
Then, too, the towhee arrives early, before larvae have 
hatched; the oriole arrives in May, when swarms of in- 
sects have begun their work of fertilizing blossoms of fruit 
trees. 

Professor Beal writes of the towhee as follows: "After 
snow has disappeared in early spring, an investigation of 
the rustling so often heard among the leaves near a fence 
or in a thicket will frequently disclose a towhee at work 
scratching for his dinner after the manner of a hen; and 
in these places and along the sunny border of woods, old 
leaves will be found overturned where the bird has been 
searching for hibernating beetles and larvae. The good 
which the towhee does in this way can hardly be overesti- 
mated, since the death of a single insect at this time, be- 
fore it has had an opportunity to deposit its egg, is equiv- 

[162] 



THE TOWHEE OR CHEWINK 



»» 1 



alent to the destruction of a host later in the year. 

While attending to business, this ground robin seems 
most materialistic and worldly-minded; but when satis- 
fied with his quest for food, "a change comes over the 
spirit of his dreams." He perches upon a low bough; 
in a sweet and joyous song he reveals his passionate de- 
votion to his mate, and brings pleasure to listeners whose 
ears are attuned to the sounds of Nature. 

1 Farmers' Bulletin 630, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Biological 
Survey. 



[163] 



DESCRIPTIONS AND BIOGRAPHIES 

OF 
OUR LATER SPRING BIRDS 

PART FOUR 



LATER SPRING BIRDS 

SPRING comes with a rush in some parts of our 
country and remains but a short time, so closely does 
Summer follow in her footsteps. But in New England, 
New York, northern Pennsylvania, Ohio, and neighbor- 
ing states, her approach is more gradual and restrained. 

When maple and red-bud have laid aside their corals 
and fruit-trees have donned their robes of white and shell- 
pink; when the woods show again a flush of tender green, 
Spring arrives. She has long been heralded by early 
choristers; she is now accompanied by a host more won- 
derful than retinue of kings, so varied is their dress and 
so sweet their triumphal music. Grove and orchard are 
alive with happy-hearted birds, who help to make May 
the loveliest month of the year. 

First come the swallows, skimming over pools and cir- 
cling above meadows — embodiment of grace, gladdening 
the world with their joyous twitterings. Swifts, night- 
hawks, and whip-poor-wills make nightfall vocal. Little 
house wrens, each a fountain of bubbling music, take up 
their abode near our homes. 

Cuckoos slip quietly from tree to tree; thrashers and 
catbirds seek thickets or perch on treetops, to sing like 
their celebrated cousins, the mockingbirds. Shy oven- 
birds and lustrous-eyed thrushes return to live in the 
woods, or pass through them as they journey to their north- 
em homes. The advent of the tanager in his flashing 
scarlet, and the grosbeak with his glowing rose bring to 

[167] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

every bird-lover "a most pointed pleasure." With Steven- 
son he may say, [They] "stab my spirit broad awake." 
Vireos and wood pewees appear in the groves; warblers 
flit from treetop to treetop, many of them on their way to 
northern woods. Orioles in the elms and orchards shout 
with joy; bobolinks bubble and tinkle in the meadows; 
indigo buntings and kingbirds greet us from roadsides, 
and Maryland yellow-throats from thickets. Goldfinches 
hold their May festival, and choose their mates as they 
sing with joyous abandon. The earth is fresh and beauti- 
ful, with promise of a glad fulfillment near at hand. 



[168] 




' > >>^// 





^ 




TREE SWALLOW 



THE TREE SWALLOW 
Sivallow Family — Hirundinidce 

Length: About 6 inches. 

General Appearance: Bluish-green above; pure white under- 
neath, from beak to tail; tail not deeply forked; 
wings very long. 

Male and Female: Back, a dark, glistening green, giving this 
swallow the name of "The Green-backed Swallow"; 
the snowy white under parts give it the names of 
"White-breasted Swallow" and "White-bellied Swal- 
low." The green and white are about equally dis- 
tributed; the green on the head resembles a close- 
fitting skull-cap, pulled down below the eyes. 
Wings, very long and powerful (nearly 4% 
inches), extending beyond the ends of the forked 
tail. Bill short, very wide at base. Feet small and 
weak — used only when resting, as swallows are gen- 
erally on the wing. 

Young: Brownish-gray, white beneath. 

Note: A pleasant twitter. 

Flight: Swift, in great circles. 

Habitat: Tree swallows are seen along roadsides, and near 
swamps and thickets. They formerly nested in dead 
trees, in woodpeckers' holes, or any available hollow. 
They now take kindly to nesting-boxes. They have 
"roosts" at night where they resort in great numbers, 
especially on their way south in the late summer. 
They have a great fondness for telegraph-wires. 
During the fall migration, long chains of these swal- 
lows are festooned on the wires during the daytime. 
At night they disappear to their roosts, preferably 
near marshes. They are a sight to be remembered 
[169] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

in the Jersey marshes, which Mr. HorsfalFs accom- 
panying drawing depicts. 
Range: North America from Alaska and northern Canada to 
southern California, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, and 
Virginia. They winter from central California, 
southern Texas, southern parts of the Gulf States 
and southeastern North Carolina, south over Mexico, 
Guatemala, and Cuba; sometimes in New Jersey. 
They eat bayberries that grow along the coast, and 
thus are able to remain farther north in winter than 
their relatives. 

FIRST of the swallow host to speed northward is the 
Tree Swallow, that migrates in April, as soon as a 
sufficient number of insects have hatched to furnish a liv- 
ing for these almost wholly insectivorous birds. Their 
cheerful twitter and beautiful circling flight make them 
very welcome. 

Swallows have always been regarded with favor. They 
were formerly considered a good omen, and were thought 
to bring fair weather and prosperity. I shall always re- 
member the welcoming swallow that met our ship near the 
Scilly Islands one June day, and preceded us without 
resting for long hours as we voyaged close to the shore 
of England. It seemed to presage the good fortune that 
followed us. 

Swallows fly with their broad beaks ready to open, and 
catch unwary insects with great ease. They rise early 
and continue their ceaseless quest for small beetles, flies, 
mosquitoes, and other insects. Professor Beal says: 
"Most of these are either injurious or annoying, and the 
numbers destroyed by swallows are not only beyond cal- 

[170] 



THE TREE SWALLOW 

culation but almost beyond imagination." ^ He pleads 
for the protection of all swallows and suggests that the 
"white-bellied swallows" be supplied with boxes similar 
to those constructed for bluebirds, only placed at a greater 
elevation and protected from cats. 

Tree swallows are the first to come and first to go. Be- 
fore the summer has really arrived, as early as July first, 
they begin to flock and form great colonies that may be 
seen migrating during the daytime. 

1 Farmers' Bulletin 630, U. S. Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. of Agri- 
culture. 



[171] 



THE BARN SWALLOW 

Swallow Family — Hirundinidce 

Length: About 7 inches; an inch longer than the tree swal- 
low because of longer tail; body nearly the same 
size. 

General Appearance: Upper parts a glossy bluish-black; 
under parts reddish-brown and buff; tail deeply 
forked. 

Male: Forehead and throat bright reddish-brown; breast, belly, 
and feathers under wings a light brown, becoming 
buffy; breast and throat separated by an indistinct 
dark band; upper parts a shimmering bluish-black; 
tail very deeply forked — the proverbial "swallow- 
tail"; rounded white spots on the inner web of all 
except the middle tail-feathers. 

Female: Resembles male, though paler in color; outer tail- 
feathers a little shorter. 

Young: Backs duller, breasts paler, tail-feathers shorter than 
those of adult male. 

Notes: A clear, sweet call, and a joyous, musical twitter — 
weet-weet, or twit-twit. 

Flight: Long, sweeping curves that are beautiful to see. The 
bird shows first his blue back, then his soft brown 
breast. He flies nearer the ground than other swal- 
lows, and surpasses them all in his power of flight. 
Imagine the number of miles he travels in a day! 

Habitat: Fields and farm-lands; also the vicinity of ponds 
or other breeding-places of insects. The nest of 
mud is usually fastened to a rafter of a barn. These 
swallows often nest in colonies. 

Range: North America, from northwestern Alaska and Can- 
ada, to southern California and southwestern Texas, 
[172] 




F,-jjKwft H»Sif Ai I ^ 



^ 



BARN SWALLOW 



THE BARN SWALLOW 

northern Arkansas and North Carolina. They do 
not breed in the southeastern part of the United 
States. They winter in South America. 

MOST beautiful of all the swallows is this bluebird 
fleet of the summer time. It is associated in 
my mind with shining pools rimmed with iris; with fra- 
grant lilac-bushes, blossoming apple-trees, and waving 
fields of grain near farm-buildings. Its sweet voice and 
marvelous flight bring poetry into the prosaic life of the 
farm. 

Burroughs characterizes the swallow delightfully in 
"Under the Maples." He says: "Is not the swallow one 
of the oldest and dearest of birds? Known to the poets 
and sages and prophets of all peoples! So infantile, so 
helpless and awkward upon the earth, so graceful and 
masterful on the wing, the child and darling of the sum- 
mer air, reaping its invisible harvest in the fields of space 
as if it dined on sunbeams, touching no earthly food, 
drinking and bathing and mating on the wing, swiftly, 
tirelessly coursing the long day through, a thought on 
wings, a lyric in the shape of a bird! Only in the free 
fields of the summer air could it have got that steel-blue 
of the wings and that warm tan of the breast. Of course 
I refer to the bam swallow. The cliff swallow seems less 
a child of the sky and sun, probably because its sheen 
and glow are less, and its shape and motions less arrowy. 
More varied in color, its hues yet lack the intensity, and 
its flight the swiftness, of those of its brother of the hay- 
lofts. The tree swallows and the bank swallows are pleas- 
ing, but they are much more local and restricted in their 
ranges than the barn-frequenters. As a farm boy I did 
not know them at all, but the barn swallows the summer 

[173] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

always brought. After all, there is but one swallow; the 
others are particular kinds that we specify." ^ 

^ Used with permission of the Houghton Mifflin Co., the authorized 
publishers. 



[174] 








PURPLE MARTIN 



THE PURPLE MARTIN 

Swallow Family — Hirundinidce 

Length: About 8 inches, the largest of the six common species 
of swallow. Wings nearly 6 inches long — very 
large when spread. 

Male: Glossy purplish-black Iiead, body, and shoulders; wings 
and tail duller. No reddish-brown or white. Tail 
forked. 

Female: Bluish-black head and back; black wings and tail; 
brownish-gray throat, neck, and sides, mottled with 
white-tipped feathers; belly, grayish-white. 

Young": Similar to female. 

Note: A sweet, rich, joyous warble. Mr. Forbush describes 
it as "a full-toned chirruping carol, musical and 
clear, beginning peuo-peuo-peuo." ^ 

Habitat: Farm-lands and the vicinity of dwellings shaded by 
trees. These birds were formerly more numerous 
in the North than at present. They are more abun- 
dant in the South than in the North. 

Nests: Made of twigs, grass, straw, or leaves, placed in gourds 
or maftin-houses. Martins are very social and 
seem to revel in large "bird-apartment-houses." 
They formerly nested in hollow trees or caves. 

Hange; North and South America, except Pacific Coast region. 
They breed in southern Canada, east of the Rockies; 
in the United States from Montana and Idaho, south 
to the Gulf Coast, Florida, and Mexico. They win- 
ter in Brazil. A western martin is found on the 
Pacific Coast. 



P 



URPLE MARTINS have long been favorites. Mr. 
Dutcher tells us that Indians, keen observers of 



1 From "Useful Birds and Tlieir Protection," by E. H. Forbush, 
page 318. 

[175] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

nature, realized that it was beneficial to have them near 
their long-houses. They therefore hung hollowed gourds 
to entice them. Southern negroes have done likewise. 
They sometimes suspend a number of gourds from cross- 
bars surmounting a pole, to form nesting-sites for a small 
colony. 

Martins form an ideal community — busy, happy, har- 
monious — unless English sparrows attempt to evict them 
and appropriate their homes. Martin-houses and blue- 
bird nesting-boxes seem to be the envy of these pugnacious 
sparrows. Martins attack crows and hawks but cannot 
endure the persecutions of the English sparrow. 

Martins are so useful that they should be protected 
and encouraged whenever possible. A friend of mine 
told me that she was never obliged to have her trees 
sprayed while the martins remained. They feed on 
wasps, bugs, and beetles, several varieties of which are 
harmful, and they devour many flies and moths. 

Dr. Dutcher quotes from Audubon regarding the flight 
of martins as follows: 

"The usual flight of this bird . . . although graceful 
and easy, cannot be compared in swiftness with that of 
the Barn Swallow. Yet the martin is fully able to dis- 
tance any bird not of its own genus. They are very ex- 
pert at bathing and drinking while on the wing, when 
over a large lake or river, giving a sudden motion to the 
hind part of the body, as it comes in contact with the 
water, thus dipping themselves in it, and then rising and 
shaking their body, like a water spaniel, to throw off the 
water." ^ 

2 Educational Leaflet No. 13, of the National Association of Audubon 
Societies. 

[176] 



THE CLIFF OR EAVE SWALLOW 

Swallow Family — Hirundinidce 

Length: About 6 inches; one inch smaller than the barn swal- 
low, and two inches smaller than the martin. 

General Appearance: A multi-colored swallow — a sort of 
combination of barn swallow and martin, with areas 
and patches of dark blue, chestnut, gray, and white, 
and bright reddish-brawn upper tail-coverts, that dif- 
ferentiate it from the other swallows. 

Male and Female: Forehead creamy white, head bluish-black; 
throat and cheeks reddish-brown; a brownish ring 
about the neck shading to gray; back bluish-black 
streaked with white; breast gray with a wash of 
brown, and a blue-black patch where the throat joins 
the breast; wings and tail brownish; tail only slightly 
forked. 

Note : A harsher, less musical note than that of the bam swal- 
low and martin. 

Habitat: Meadows and marshes. These swallows formerly 
nested in cliffs; now they build under eaves of build- 
ings. 

Nests: Curiously shaped pouches of mud that make one think 
of protuberant knot-holes, or of flasks made of skin. 
The nests vary with the shape of the places to which 
they are fastened. Eave swallows also nest in col- 
onies. 

Range: North America. Breed from central Alaska and north- 
central Canada over nearly all the United States ex- 
cept Florida and the Rio Grande Valley. They 
probably winter in Brazil and Argentina. 

MR. FORBUSH writes about the Cliff or Eave Swal- 
low as follows: 

[177] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

"When the first explorers reached the Yellowstone and 
other western rivers, swallows were found breeding on 
the precipitous banks. As settlers gradually worked 
their way westward, the swallows found nesting-places 
under the eaves of their rough buildings. In these new 
breeding-places they were better protected from the ele- 
ments and their enemies than on their native cliffs and 
so the Cliff Swallow became the Eave Swallow, and, fol- 
lowing the settlements, rapidly increased in numbers and 
worked eastward." ^ These swallows were very numer- 
ous fifty years ago. It is now generally conceded that 
English sparrows are largely responsible for their de- 
crease. It is greatly to be deplored, for swallows add 
much to the charm of out-door life, and subtract many 
annoyances in the form of insect pests, especially flies 
and mosquitoes. 



THE BANK SWALLOW 

Swallow Family — Hirundinidce 

Length: A little over 5 inches; the smallest of the six common 

swallows. 
General Appearance: Brownish-gray above; band of same 

color across breast; throat and under parts white. 

The gray head and white throat form a cap similar 

in effect to that of the tree swallow. 
Note: A twitter, less pleasing than that of the martin and the 

barn swallow. 
Habitat: Sandy banks of rivers, and shores of lakes. 
Nests: In holes made in sand-banks. 

iFrom "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush, page 

[178] 



THE BANK SWALLOW 

Range: North and South America. Breeds from the tree- 
regions of Alaska and Canada to southern California, 
Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, and Virginia. It mi- 
grates through Mexico and Central America and 
probably winters in northern South America to 
Brazil and Peru. 

THE ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW resembles the bank 
swallow so closely that it is difficult to distinguish 
tliem, unless one can see the darker breast and throat of 
the rough-wing and the absence of a dark band across the 
breast. Upon careful examination of the latter species, 
each long outer wing-feather is discovered to have a rough 
saw-tooth edge. 

The habits of the birds are similar, though the rough- 
wings, like phoebes, nest not only in banks, but against 
stone walls and stone bridges. They have a more re- 
stricted range than barn swallows. They breed from 
southern Canada to northern Florida and southern Cali- 
fornia, and winter in Mexico and Central America. 



[179] 



THE CHIMNEY SWIFT 

Swift Family — Micropodidce 

Length: About 5^ inches; wings nearly 5 inches long. 

General Appearance: In the sky, the swift looks unlike any 
other bird. The wings are long and flap like those 
of a mechanical toy-bird. The tail appears rounded, 
not forked, like those of swallows. 

Male and Female: Brownish-gray, lighter gray on throat; a 
black spot before each eye; wings longer than tail; 
tail short, with ribs of the feathers extending beyond 
the vanes, giving the effect of sharp needle- or pin- 
points. The bird has a sooty appearance. 

Note: A noisy, incessant twitter. 

Flight: Rapid, and seemingly erratic and aimless. Swifts' 
wings appear to beat the air alternately. The birds 
move in great curves, seldom alight, and drop sud- 
denly into chimneys at night or when they wish to 
enter their nests. 

Nest: A wall-pocket, built of sticks glued together and to the 
wall by a sticky saliva secreted by the swifts. Dur- 
ing rainy weather the nest is sometimes loosened, and 
falls. 

Eggs: White, like those of woodpeckers and some others laid 
in dark places. 

Habitat: As swifts secure all of their food while on the wing 
and seldom alight, they have no habitat except the 
atmosphere and the hollow trees or chimneys in 
which they congregate at night, and where they nest. 
They do not perch on telegraph wires as swallows 
like to do. 

Range: Breed in eastern North America, from southcentral 

[180] 




CHIMN'KY SWIFT 



THE CHIMNEY SWIFT 

Canada to the Gulf, and westward to the Plains; 
winter south of the United States. 

SWIFTS have often been called "Chimney Swallows," 
but the name is a misnomer; they belong to an en- 
tirely different family. The breadth of wing and rapid 
flight, the weak feet and broad bills are, however, points 
of resemblance; the sooty appearance and lack of beauti- 
ful luster of plumage are points of difference. Then, too, 
swifts' tails are less like swallows' tails than they are like 
those of woodpeckers and creepers; the spiny tips are used 
as props against a perpendicular surface. 

The following facts concerning swifts are taken from 
Eaton's "Birds of New York": 

"Nearly every village or city [in New York State] can 
boast at least one large chimney or church or schoolhouse 
that harbors multitudes of swifts every night late in sum- 
mer. It is an interesting sight to watch these swifts as 
they wheel about such a chimney in the August and Sep- 
tember evenings and, when the magic moment arrives, 
pour down its capacious mouth in a living cascade. It 
seems impossible for this species to perch, but it always 
alights on some perpendicular surface like the inside of 
a large hollow tree or the inner surface of a chimney or 
the perpendicular boards at the gable end of a barn or 
shed. In this position it sleeps, clinging with its sharp 
claws to the irregular surface and using its spiny tail as a 
support. The swift is seen abroad early in the morning 
and late in the afternoon, but in cloudy weather comes out 
at any time of day and evidently can see well in the bright 
sunlight, for it frequently hunts material for its nest dur- 
ing the brightest weather. They begin to construct the nest 

[181] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

in May or early June, the small twigs of which it is formed 
being broken from dead branches of some shade tree by 
the bird flying directly against the tip of the twig and snap- 
ping it off^. The twigs are carried into the chimney and 
are cemented to the wall and to each other by a gelatinous 
substance secreted by the salivary glands of the bird itself. 
When completed, the nest is like a little semi-circular 
bracket slightly hollowed downward. The eggs are placed 
on this framework of twigs without lining. 

"In food the swift is wholly insectivorous, and does an 
immense amount of good destroying beetles, flies, and 
gnats, which he devours in countless multitudes. The 
chimney swift, as he darts by, frequently utters a rapid 
chipper something like the syllable chip, chip, chip, rap- 
idly repeated, and I have heard a loud cheeping in the 
chimney, evidently uttered by the young birds. One of the 
earliest impressions of my boyhood was the curious roar- 
ing caused by the wings of parent swifts as they came and 
went from their nests at daybreak. This unfortunate 
habit of early rising has brought the chimney swift into 
bad repute in many civilized communities, . . . closing 
chimneys against this beneficial bird." 

In Major Charles Bendire's "Life Histories of Ameri- 
can Birds" occur the following statements from Mr. Otto 
Widman regarding the nests and young of chimney swifts: 
"The setting parent shields the structure by habitually 
covering its base with the breast and pressing its head 
against the wall above. When disturbed, it hides below 
the nest, as do the young birds. They make a hissing noise, 
and always remain 2 or 3 feet below the mouth of the 
chimney [shaft], where they are fed by the parents until 
they are four weeks old. 

[182] 



THE CHIMNEY SWIFT 

Few birds are more devoted to their young than the 
Chimney Swift, and instances are recorded where the par- 
ent was seen to enter chimneys in burning houses, even 
after the entire roof was a mass of flames, preferring to 
perish with its offspring rather than to forsake them." 



[183] 



THE WHIP-POOR-WILL 

Goatsucker Family — Caprimulgidce 

Length: Nearly 10 inches; wings 7 inches long. 

General Appearance: A mottled brown bird with a narrow 
white band around throat, and white outer tail- 
feathers. 

"He seems a lichen on a log, 
A dead leaf on the ground." 

Male and Female: Soft brown, irregularly mottled and barred 
with black, buff, and white. Throat dark with a 
narrow curve of white in the male, and one of bufj 
in the female. Beak short, slightly hooked, and very 
wide (1^ inches), with long bristles at the sides. 
Breast dark, belly white. Middle tail-feathers mot- 
tled brown; half of six other tail-feathers white, 
which are visible in flight. Female has narrower 
white tips to outer tail-feathers. 

Note: Whip'-poor-ivill, ivhip' -poor-will, whip' -poor-ivill, ut- 
tered rapidly, monotonously, lugubriously, continu- 
ously. My sister counted 275 repetitions of his note 
given without a pause. To some people the sound 
is unendurable. When near the bird, I have heard 
him give a soft chuck between the repetition of the 
word whip-poor-will. He is associated in my mind 
with bright moonlight evenings, for it is then he is 
most vociferous. He sings, also, early in the morn- 
ing. 

Flight: Swift, yet noiseless; almost as uncanny as his note. 

Habitat: In woods and open groves, where one may come 
upon him both at night and during the daytime sit- 
ting lengthwise on a log or branch instead of cross- 
wise. 

[184] 




WHIP-POOK-WILL 



THE WHIP-POOR-WILL 

Nest: No nest is made, but two dull-colored, mottled eggs are 
laid on the ground or on dead leaves. 

Bange: Eastern North America. Breeds from southern Can- 
ada to the northern parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, 
and Georgia, and from the Plains eastward; winters 
from eastern South Carolina and the southern Gulf 
States to Central America. The chuck-will's-widow 
is a resident of our southeastern states; the POOR- 
WILL of our western states. 

THE whip-poor-will is too interesting and useful a bird 
to be disregarded. He has been widely disliked and 
even superstitiously dreaded because of his weird notes. 
He is, however, of especial interest to scientists because of 
his nocturnal habits and his value as a destroyer of in- 
sects. Mr. Forbush calls him "an animated insect trap," 
with an "enormous mouth surrounded by long bristles 
which form a wide fringe about the yawning cavity." * 
The whip-poor-will is believed to be the greatest enemy of 
night-moths; he eats other insects, also, in great quanti- 
ties. 

The chuck-will's-widow is even more interesting than 
the whip-poor-will. Mr. W. L. McAtee writes of the 
bird as follows: 

"Like other species of its family, it lays only two eggs, 
which may be deposited almost anywhere on the forest 
floor, there being no nest. Intrusion on this spot usually 
results in the bird moving the eggs, which it carries in its 
mouth. Although the bird is only 12 inches long, the 
mouth fully extended forms an opening at least 2 by SV2 
inches in size. It is but natural, therefore, that the bird 
should prey upon some of the largest insects. Not only 

1 "Useful Birds and Their Protection," E. H. Forbush, page 343. 

[185] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

are large insects captured and swallowed, but even small 
birds, in two cases warblers. 

"Despite the fact that the chuck-will's-widow occasion- 
ally devours small insectivorous birds, it must be reckoned 
a useful species. It is probable that birds are not de- 
liberately sought, but that they are taken instinctively, 
as would be a moth or other large insect coming within 
reach of that capacious mouth." ^ 

2 Farmers' Bulletin 755, Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. 



[186] 




NIGHTHAWK 



THE NIGHTHAWK 

Goatsucker Family — Caprimulgidce 

Length: 10 inches; wings 7% inches. 

General Appearance: A large dark bird, with a white throat, 
a white band across the tail, and very long wings, 
on each of which is a large white spot or bulVs-eye, 
unfortunately a target, like the white rump of the 
flicker. 

Male: Black above, mottled with buff emd white; under parts 
lighter (becoming whitish), barred with black; 
throat with a tent-shaped white patch below the very 
wide bill; upper breast black; tail notched, a white 
band extending across it near the end except on the 
middle tail-feathers; wing with a conspicuous area 
of white about half-way between the curve and tip, 
when outspread. 

Female: Throat buff; under parts buflfy; no white on the tail. 

Note: A loud peeng-peeng; uttered at frequent intervals while 
on the wing. 

Flight: Very swift, with numerous and rapid changes of di- 
rection. The bird is very active at nightfall. It 
makes rapid descents not unlike those made by an 
airplane; it has a habit of dropping "like a bolt 
from the blue." 

Habitat: The nighthawk is a "bird of the air" rather than of 
treetops or ground. It may be seen in cities flying 
above houses in search of its insect prey at sunset 
and during the night. 

Nest: No nest, but two speckled eggs are laid on the ground 
or on a roof where they are not easily discovered. 
Mr. Forbush says, "The nighthawk has deposited its 
[187] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

eggs on gravel roofs in cities for at least forty years 
and probably longer." 

Young: Dr. F. H. Herrick tells us that the nestlings are 
"clothed in down" and "look like two little flattened 
balls of fluffy worsted of a dark cream-color mottled 
with brown." 

Hange: Eastern and central North America. Breeds from 
Manitoba, southern Quebec, New Brunswick, and 
Nova Scotia south to northern Louisiana, Mississippi, 
and Georgia, and from eastern North Dakota, Ne- 
braska, and Kansas eastward; winters from the low- 
lands of South Carolina and southern parts of the 
Gulf States to British Honduras and Salvador. 

THE nighthav^k is a remarkable bird. Because of 
its nocturnal habits, it has been regarded writh 
superstitious awe. Erroneous ideas of it have been en- 
tertained, and it has received a name that belies it. It 
is not a hawk at all; it preys only on insects, not on 
chickens or small rodents. 

Mr. W. L. McAtee writes: "Nighthawks are so expert 
in flight that no insects can escape them. They sweep up 
in their capacious mouths everything from the largest 
moths and dragon flies to the tiniest ants and gnats, and 
in this way sometimes gather most remarkable collec- 
tions of insects. Several stomachs have contained fifty 
or more different kinds, and the numbers of individuals 
may run into the thousands. Nearly a fourth of the 
bird's total food consists of ants." * Professor Beal es- 
timated that the stomachs of eighty-seven nighthawks which 
he examined "contained not less than twenty thousand 
ants, and these were not half of the insect contents." ^ 

1 Farmers' Bulletin 755, Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. 

2 Farmers' Bulletin 630, Biological Survey. 

[188] 



THE NIGHTHAWK 

Mr. Forbush claims that the nighthawk "ranks next to the 
flicker in the destruction of ants, and it takes them when 
they are flying and about to propagate." ^ 

It has a fondness for fireflies, also. Dr. Herrick made 
careful observation of the habits of nighthawks, and the 
manner of feeding their young. He writes of seeing a 
mother-bird "loaded with fireflies." He says: "As her 
great mouth opened you beheld wide jaws and throat 
brilliantly illuminated like a spacious apartment all aglow 
with electricity. She made an electrical display at every 
utterance of her harsh ke-ark. Then standing over her 
young, with raised and quivering wings, she put her bill 
down into his throat and pumped him full. She then 
tucked the little one under her breast and began to brood. 
She repeated the performance, after which she settled 
down to brood as if for the night. "This young bird 
was fed but twice each evening between the hours of 
eight and nine o'clock, and always, as I believe, by the 
female. It is quite probable that another feeding occurs 
also at dawn. The male would sometimes swoop down 
and once he sat by the chick for ten minutes after dusk. 
The task of feeding was borne by the mother.' 



9> 4 



8 "Useful Birds and Their Protection," E. H. Forbush, page 342. 

*From "The Home Life of Wild Birds," by Francis H. Herrick; used 
with the permission of the author and his publisher, the G. P. Putnam's 
Sons. 



[189] 



THE HOUSE WREN 

Wren Family — Troglodytidce 

Lengfth: About 4% inches. 

Male and Female: Cinnamon-brown above, reddish-brown on 
the rump and tail. Back with fine indistinct bars; 
wings and tail with heavier bars; under parts gray- 
ish-white washed with brown, lighter on throat and 
breast; sides, and feathers under tail, barred with 
black; tail frequently held upright. 

Notes: Sharp scolding notes. 

Song: A sweet bubbling song. The notes are poured forth 
with joyous abandon and tireless energy. 

Habitat: Near the homes of man preferably, though in the 
winter many house wrens are found in southern 
woods. They dart in and out of wood-piles and 
brush-heaps, run along walls and fences, and seek 
shrubbery, vines, and orchards. 

Nest: Of small sticks, lined with root-fibers or grasses, placed 
in a hollow of a tree, in a nesting-box, or some out- 
of-the-way place, such as a flower-pot, tin-can, dis- 
carded shoe, old hat, etc. 

Bange: Eastern North America. Breeds from southeastern 
Canada, eastern Wisconsin and Michigan, southward 
to Kentucky and Virginia; winters in eastern Texas, 
and in the South Atlantic and Gulf States. 

LITTLE "Jenny Wren" figured in our nursery tales 
and was one of the delights of our childhood, be- 
cause of its diminutive size, its pert, cocked tail, its inces- 
sant activity, and its continuous chatter. No dull moments 
when a wren was near by! 

Its nesting-habits make it interesting to young and old. 
Though loyal to a nesting-locality, it will make its neat 

[190] 




HOUSE WREN 



THE HOUSE WREN 

nest in a great variety of places, such as boxes, empty 
jars, small pails, or gourds, if placed conveniently, or 
in wren-houses. 

Wrens are valiant defenders of their nests, but have 
been driven away from favorite nesting-places by quarrel- 
some English sparrows; consequently wrens are decreasing 
in number. Wren-houses with openings about an inch in 
diameter, too small for sparrows to enter, may help 
somewhat to check the decrease of these valuable insect- 
eating birds. 

They are noisy little neighbors, a curious combina- 
tion of joyousness and irritability. A pair of wrens that 
built a nest on the piazza of my brother's home spent so 
much time in scolding and quarreling that they were al- 
most unendurable. One morning they disappeared; a 
few hours later my brother found the drowned body of 
the female in a rain-barrel. Whether it was accident, 
murder, or suicide, no one knew, but within twenty-four 
hours a pleasanter-tempered Lady Wren appeared, swept 
and garnished the home of her predecessor, and set up 
house-keeping. A larger measure of peace reigned there- 
after. 

As songsters, wrens are very remarkable for volume of 
sound, for sweetness of tone, and for extreme ecstasy. I 
remember wakening about sunrise one morning in early 
June, when the spring chorus was at its climax. For 
about an hour, I had the joy of listening to a bird-con- 
cert more wonderful than any I had ever heard. After a 
time I distinguished the voices of the various familiar 
birds. Loudest, clearest, and sweetest of all rang the voice 
of the smallest member of the choir — that of the tiny 
house wren. 

[191] 



THE RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD 

Hummingbird Family — Trochilidcs 

Length: About 3% inches; bill over 34 inch. 

Male: Iridescent green above; gray below, with a glint of 
green, especially on the sides; wings and tail brown, 
with slight iridescence; throat brilliant ruby, — 
brownish in some lights; tail forked. 

Female: Similar to male, but without ruby on throat, which 
is flecked with minute brownish spots; tail-feathers 
of nearly even length, outer feathers with white tips. 

Note: No song — only a faint squeak. 

Habitat: Open country; cultivated tracts of land, especially 
those overrun with vines; gardens, particularly those 
that contain trumpet-creepers and honey-suckles. 

Nest: One of the most exquisite nests made. It is in the 
shape of a tiny cup, covered with lichens and lined 
with soft materials. It is frequently placed so high 
on a branch as to be difficult to distinguish from an 
excrescence on the bough. The eggs look like white 
beans. 

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from central Canada 
to the Gulf Coast and Florida; winters from central 
Florida and Louisiana through Southern Mexico and 
Central America to Panama. 

HUMMINGBIRDS are rightly in a family by them- 
selves — they are unique. They are the smallest 
of our birds, and yet they possess a power of flight unsur- 
passed. Mr. Forbush says: "The little body, divested 
of its feathers, is no larger than the end of one's finger, 
but the breast muscles which move the wings are enor- 

[192] 




RUBY-THROATED HUMMING-BIRD 



THE RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD 

mous in proportion to the size of the bird. They form 
a large part of the entire trunk, and their power is such 
that they can vibrate the inch-long feathers of those little 
wings with such rapidity that the human eye can scarcely 
follow the bird when it is moved to rapid flight by fear 
or passion." ^ 

The wings do not seem to be made of feathers, but of 
gauze, like those of insects. I never really saw the 
feathers until I held a dead hummingbird in my hand. 
Its iridescent body seems made of burnished metal. 

It is wonderful that so tiny a creature can wing its way 
from Central America to the heart of Canada. It seems 
to know no fear; it is quite able to defend itself with its 
long sharp bill. Mr. Forbush says: "The males fight 
with one another, and, secure in their unequalled powers 
of flight, they attack other and larger birds. When the 
Hummingbird says 'Go!' other birds stand not upon the 
order of their going, but go at once; while the little warrior 
sometimes accelerates their flight, for his sharp beak is a 
weapon not to be despised. Even the Kingbird goes when 
the war-like Hummer comes; the English Sparrow flees 
in terror; only the Woodpeckers stand their ground."^ 

Hummingbirds are not only fearless and pugnacious, 
but they are very inquisitive. Major Bendire says: "I 
once occupied quarters that were completely covered with 
trumpet-vines, and when these were in bloom the place 
fairly swarmed with Ruby-throats. They were exceed- 
ingly inquisitive, and often poised themselves before an 
open window and looked in my rooms, full of curiosity, 
their bright little eyes sparkling like black beads. I 
caught several — by simply putting my hand over them, 

1 & 2 "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush, p. 241. 

[193] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

and while so imprisoned they never moved, and feigned 
death, but as soon as I opened my hand they were off like 
a flash. They seem to be especially partial to anything 
red." ' 

Their fondness for honey-producing flowers has caused 
many people to believe that they live upon nectar and 
ambrosia, like the gods of the Greeks, but the Biological 
Survey, has, by close observation, discovered that they do 
not visit flowers wholly for the purpose of gathering honey, 
but for obtaining also small insects that have been 
drowned in a welter of sweetness. Professor Beal has 
observed them "hovering in front of a cobweb, picking 
off insects and perhaps spiders entangled in the net. 
They have also been observed to capture their food on the 
wing, like flycatchers. Stomach examination shows that 
a considerable portion of their food consists of insects and 
spiders." Professor Beal continues: "Although hum- 
mingbirds are the smallest of the avian race, their 
stomachs are much smaller in proportion to their bodies 
than those of other birds, while their livers are much 
larger. This would indicate that these birds live to a con- 
siderable extent upon concentrated sweets, as stated above, 
and that the insects, spiders, etc., found in the stomachs 
do not represent by any means all their food." * 

A physician of my acquaintance owns a camp in the 
New Hampshire woods. A birch near his house was at- 
tacked by sapsuckers. Sap exuded plentifully and was 
eagerly sought by two red squirrels, a small swarm of 
bees, two sapsuckers, and seven hummingbirds. With his 

3 "Life Histories of North American Birds," Maj. Chas. Bendire. 

■* Farmers' Bulletin 506, Biological Survey, U. S. Dept, of Agriculture. 

[194] 



THE RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD 

glasses, the doctor observed the birds eating insects served 
in birch syrup. 

Professor Beal reports having seen as many as one hun- 
dred hummingbirds "hovering about the flowers of a 
buckeye tree, and this number was maintained all day and 
for many days, though the individuals were going and 
coming all the time." Burroughs once saw a humming- 
bird take his morning bath in dewdrops. 

There are about five hundred known species of hum- 
mingbird. They may be found in North and South 
America from Alaska to Patagonia. They are most 
numerous in northern South America, in Colombia and 
Ecuador. Seventeen species are found in our western 
and southwestern states, but only one, the Ruby-throat, 
lives in the East. 



[195] 



THE INDIGO-BIRD OR INDIGO BUNTING 

Finch Family — Fringillidce 

"Length: About 5y> inches. 

Male: Head and throat deep, purplish blue, becoming lighter 
on back and above tail; wings and tail a brownish 
black, edged with blue. Winter plumage, brownish 
like the female, mottled with blue. 

Female: Brown above, darker on wings and tail; no streaks 
on back; breast grayish, washed and faintly streaked 
with brown; belly lighter. The female resembles 
her sparrow relatives, but may be distinguished by 
a glint of blue in her tail and wings. 

Call-note: A sharp chip. 

Song: A burst of melody, somewhat like that of a canary, 
loud, clear, and sweet. It is not remarkable except 
that it may be heard during the middle of the day 
and during the heat of midsummer. The bird sings 
frequently from treetops. 

Habitat: In "scrubby" pastures, along roadsides — in trees and 
bushes. 

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds east of the Great 
Plains from North Dakota to New Brunswick, south 
from central Texas to Georgia; winters from south- 
ern Mexico to Panama. 

THE Indigo Bunting possesses a brilliant beauty and 
a sweet voice. A sight of him and his pretty 
brown mate brings a thrill of pleasure, but he holds no 
such place in our affections as does the true bluebird. 
He does not choose to nest close to human dwellings, but 
prefers overgrown pastures, not too much frequented, 

[196] 



>.' 





INDIGO-BIRD 



THE INDIGO-BIRD OR INDIGO BUNTING 

where he performs his good office of caterpillar-, canker 
worm-, and grasshopper-hunting, varying his diet with an 
abundance of weed seeds. 

The indigo-bird, the scarlet tanager, the goldfinch-, and 
the Baltimore oriole are our most brilliant summer birds. 
Thoreau, in his "Notes on New England Birds" makes 
the following comment: 

"This is a splendid and marked bird, high-colored as 
is the tanager, looking strange in this latitude. Glowing 
indigo. It flits from the top of one bush to another, 
chirping as if anxious. Wilson says it sings, not like 
most other birds in the morning and evening chiefly, but 
also in the middle of the day. In this I notice it is like 
the tanager, the other fiery-plumaged bird. They seem 
to love the heat." 

During August, the songs of the indigo-bird and red- 
eyed vireo may be heard along wooded roadsides, and 
are especially welcome because most birds are silent at 
that time. 



[197] 



THE BALTIMORE ORIOLE 

A merican-Blackbird Family — Icteridce 

Length: About 7>^ inches. 

Male: Head, throat, neck, and upper half of back black; 
breast, belly, shoulders, lower half of back and outer 
tail-feathers brilliant orange; wings black, many 
feathers edged with white; half of middle tail- 
feathers black; others largely orange; bill long, 
slender, sharp. 

Female: Upper parts grayish-olive, washed with yellow and 
mottled with black on head and back; under parts, 
tail, and rump dull orange, paler at throat, which 
is sometimes marked with black; wings brown, barred 
with white. 

Notes: A loud whew-y, or whew, uttered frequently and insist- 
ently, with a falling inflection. Orioles chatter 
noisily, also. 

Song: A rich, melodious strain, very different in individuals, 
but alike in a liquid quality, and in frequency of 
utterance. For several successive years, two orioles 
returned to our elms and apple-trees in Cleveland. 
Their songs differed as decidedly from each other 
and from those of other orioles as the voices and 
enunciation of people vary. 

Habitat: Elm and maple-shaded streets and orchards preferred 
in the springtime. After the nestlings are grown, 
orioles may be found in thickets or in the woods. 

Nest: A hanging nest in the shape of a bag, usually suspended 
near the end of a bough. The female weaves the 
nest. 

Bange: Breeds from southern Canada and northern United 

[198] 







BALTIMORE ORIOLE 



THE BALTIMORE ORIOLE 

States to the northern part of Texas, Louisiana, and 
Georgia, west to the Rocky Mts.; winters from south- 
ern Mexico to Colombia. 

ORIOLES, with their brilliant plumage and beauti- 
ful song, belong to the somber-hued, unmusical 
blackbird family. They are truly "the flower of the 
flock," — gorgeous tropical flowers, too. They invariably 
arouse interest and almost always great admiration. So 
dashing are they that they do not remain long enough near 
us to let us know them well or love them. > They remind 
me of brilliant opera-singers, elegantly attired, who are 
followed by the eager eyes of a host of people. 

So many poets and writers of prose have sung the praise 
of orioles that it surprised me to learn that neither Thoreau 
nor Burroughs admired them. Thoreau wrote: "Two 
gold robins; they chatter like blackbirds; the fire bursts 
forth on their backs when they lift their wings. . . . But 
the note is not melodious and rich. It is at most a clear 
tone." ^ Burroughs said: "I have no use for the oriole. 
He has not one musical note, and in grape time his bill 
is red, or purple, with the blood of our grapes." ^ 

A grape-eating propensity is not a trait common to 
orioles, according to Professor Beal's report of their food 
habits. He says: "Brilliancy of plumage, sweetness of 
song, and food habits to which no exception can be taken 
are characteristics of the Baltimore oriole. During the 
stay of the oriole in the United States, vegetable matter 
amounts to only a little more than 16 per cent, of its food, 
so that the possibility of its doing much d-iimage to crops 
is very limited. The bird is accused of eating peas to a 

1 From "Notes on New England Birds," by H. D. Thoreau. 

2 From "Under The Maples," by John Burrouglis. 

[199] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

considerable extent, but remains of such were found in 
only two cases. One writer says that it damages grapes, 
but none were found in the stomachs." ^ Professor Beal 
lists caterpillars, beetles, bugs, ants, wasps, grasshoppers, 
and some spiders as the "fare of the oriole." 

The nest and nesting habits of these birds are unusually 
interesting. In Eaton's "Birds of New York" occurs the 
following description: 

"The female is an ideal mother, defending her young 
with great courage and caring for them in all kinds of 
weather. The young, however, are not such ideal off- 
spring as she ought to expect. From the time they begin 
to feather out until several days after they have left the 
nest, they keep up a continual cry for food. In this way 
they are unquestionably located by many predaceous ani- 
mals and thereby destroyed. The young orioles are usu- 
ally out of the nest from the 20th of June to the 5th of 
July [in New York State], and are very soon led away 
by the old birds into the woods, groves, and dense hedge- 
rows. Then we hear no more of the oriole's song until 
the latter days of August or the first week in September, 
when, after the autumn molt has been completed, the 
males frequently burst into melody for a few days before 
departing for their winter home. 

"As every one knows, the oriole builds a pensile nest, 
usually suspending it from the drooping branches of an 
elm tree, soft maple, apple tree, or in fact, any tree, though 
his preference seems to be for the elm. The main con- 
struction materials used by the oriole are gray plant-fibers, 
especially those from the outside of milkweed stalks, 
waste packing-cord and horsehair; sometimes pieces of 

3 Farmers' Bulletin 630, Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. 

[200] 



THE BALTIMORE ORIOLE 

rags and paper are discovered in the nest, but it is almost 
without exception a grayish bag as it appears from the 
outside, and is lined principally with horsehairs and softer 
materials, making a thick felted gourd-shaped structure." 
One morning this past May when the heat was unseason- 
able and overpowering, an oriole was observed fluttering 
anxiously near the nest where his mate sat on her eggs. 
The foliage had not developed sufficiently to shade her, 
so he alighted on the nest, a claw on either side of the 
cup-like opening. There he stood astride for the greater 
part of the day and protected her devotedly, like a chival- 
rous knight of old. 



[201] 



THE ORCHARD ORIOLE 
American Blackbird Family — Icteridoe 

Length: About 7 inches. 

Adult Male: Head, throat, neck, and upper half of back black; 
breast, belly, shoulders, lower half of back a bright 

Breeding chestnut brown; wings and tail dark brown; wing- 

Plumage: feathers tipped or edged with white, forming a bar 
across wing. The winter plumage is different from 
the breeding plumage; the male passes through sev- 
eral changes as he matures. 

Female: Olive-green above, darkest on head and back, dull 
yellow below; wing-feathers tipped with white, form- 
ing two bars across wing; tail olive-green. 

Immature Male: Like female, the first autumn; the next 
spring, he has a black throat; the chestnut plumage 
develops later. 

Notes and Song: Similar to those of the Baltimore oriole. 
Song clear and melodious; tones possibly not quite 
so mellow as those of its relatives, but sweeter. 

Habitat: Orchards and shade trees. 

Nest: A pensile nest, but shorter and more firmly attached 
than that of the Baltimore oriole. 

Bange : Eastern North America. Breeds from northern United 
States, southern Canada, and central New York, 
south to northern Florida and the Gulf Coast, west 
to Texas, central Nebraska, and western Kansas; 
winters from southern Mexico to northern Colombia. 
Not common in Massachusetts. 

THE markings of the Orchard Oriole are similar to 
those of the more brilliant and striking Baltimore 
Oriole, but its coloring more nearly resembles that of the 

[202] 




ORCHARD ORIOLE 



THE ORCHARD ORIOLE 

towhee. Like its cousin, it is arboreal, while the towhee 
is a ground bird. 

The orchard oriole is more shy than the Baltimore 
oriole and is less well -known. It is, however, very active 
and restless, — indefatigable in its quest for insects. It 
has a better reputation than most members of the black- 
bird family. Major Bendire says that it would be dif- 
ficult to find a bird that does more good and less harm 
than the orchard oriole, and that it should be fully pro- 
tected. 



[203] 



THE SCARLET TANAGER 

Tanager Family — Tangaridce 

Length: About 7 inches. 

General Appearance: A bright scarlet body, with black wings 
and tail; no crest. 

Male: Scarlet and black in breeding plumage; after the molt, 
olive and yellow, with black wings and tail; wings 
white underneath. The male does not acquire red 
plumage until the second year. While molting, the 
adult male has irregular patches of olive and yellow 
mixed with his red feathers, giving a curious effect. 

Female: Olive-green above; yellowish-olive below, brightest 
on throat; wings and tail dark gray, washed with 
olive. She is very effectively protected by her color- 
ing. 

Note: Call-note chip-chur, very distinct and reasonably loud. 

Song: A warble, full, rich, and pleasing, but not varied; suf- 
ficiently like the songs of the robin and the rose- 
breasted grosbeak to make identification difficult for a 
beginner. The frequent chip-chur betrays the 
tanager's presence. 

Habitat: Dense groves of hard-wood trees, especially those 
containing oaks. Mr. Forbush calls the tanager 
"the appointed guardian of the oaks." The bird 
is found in parks and on well-wooded estates, as 
well as in the deep woods. 

Bange: Eastern North America and northern South America. 
Breeds in southern Canada as far west as the Plains, 
and in the United States to southern Kansas, north- 
ern Arkansas, Tennessee, northern Georgia, and the 
mountains of Virginia and South Carolina; winters 
from Colombia to Bolivia and Perm 

[204] 




SCAI^LKT TAXAOKK 



THE SCARLET TANAGER 

THESE "black-winged redbirds" are occasionally mis- 
taken by novices for cardinals, but the dusky wings 
and tail, and the absence of a crest differentiate them. 
Then, too, the scarlet of their coats is of a different shade 
of red. 

Their cousins, the summer tanagers, denizens of 
southeastern United States and occasional residents of 
the North, resemble cardinals more closely. Both have 
a nearly uniform rose-red plumage, but the summer 
tanager has brownish wings edged with red, and no crest. 

The beauty of male tanagers has caused them to be 
eagerly sought in the past. I have childish memories of 
their scarlet bodies decorating the hats of thoughtless 
women, and I blush to confess a feeling of envy rather 
than regret at the wicked slaughter. Audubon Societies 
have done much to change public sentiment and put a 
stop to barbarous practices. 

Never shall I forget the breathless joy I felt when, 
grown to young womanhood, I first saw a tanager's vivid 
beauty gleaming against the almost black-green foliage 
of a dense grove. I think that I remember every tanager 
which I have since seen, as well as each lovely setting that 
enhanced his gorgeous coloring. A glimpse of one marks 
a red-letter day. Twice I have seen two males at once, 
in company with a rose-breasted grosbeak — all singing; 
memorable experiences. 

The WESTERN TANAGER, with his yellow body and 
crown, his red "face," black back and tail, and yellow 
and black wings, appeared before me one day in the noble 
woods that crown Glacier Point in the Yosemite Valley. 
I felt that his beauty, like that of his eastern relatives, was 
his "excuse for being." He does not enjoy quite so good 

[205] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

a reputation as do other tanagers, because he has a taste 
for fruit — almost as reprehensible as horse- or cattle-steal- 
ing in the west. 

Tanagers, however, are valuable insect-destroyers. 
Our brilliant species deserves our whole-hearted protec- 
tion, not only for aesthetic, but also for economic reasons. 



[206] 




ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK 



THE ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK 

Finch Family — Fringillidoe 

Length: A little over 8 inches. 

General Appearance: A black and white bird, with a rose- 
colored breast and heavy, flesh-colored beak. 

Male: Head, throat, and back black; rump and under parts 
white, except on breast and under wings, which are 
a beautiful rose-red; wings black, with bars and 
patches of white; tail black; outer feathers with 
white tips to their inner webs. The winter plumage 
is slightly different from the summer plumage. 

Female: A soft grayish-brown, streaked with white, buff, and 
gray; under parts light buff, faintly streaked with 
brown; head brown; a buff streak through center of 
the crown, a white streak over the eye; wings and 
tail grayish-brown, some of the wing-feathers tipped 
with white; yellow under wings instead of rose. 

Note: A sharp tsick, tsick. 

Song: A rich, beautiful warble, somewhat like that of the 
robin and tanager, but more joyous than either. It 
possesses a purer, more liquid quality. The song 
is remarkable, also, in that it may be heard at night, 
and at midday. 

Habitat: Woodlands and thickets, fields and gardens. This 
grosbeak frequents also the shade trees of large es- 
tates and suburban streets. 

Nest: Large and loosely constructed, made of twigs, grasses, 
and root-fibers, and placed from five to twenty feel 
from the ground. 

Eggs: Pale blue, spotted with brown or purple. The male 
takes his turn at sitting on the eggs. 

[207] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

Range: Eastern North America and northern South America. 
Breeds from southern Canada south to Kansas, Mis- 
souri, Ohio, New Jersey, and in the mountains of 
northern Georgia; winters from southern Mexico to 
Colombia and Ecuador. 

SO beautiful is the rose-breasted grosbeak and so melo- 
dious his song that he invariably attracts attention. 
Upon clo'Se acquaintance, he reveals many interesting 
habits and delightful traits. He is so useful that he re- 
minds one of the occasional rare person who combines 
practical qualities with beauty of form and face and un- 
usual gifts. 

He is one of our most beneficial birds. Occasionally 
he partakes of cultivated fruit and devours green peas, 
but the slight mischief he is guilty of is greatly over- 
balanced by the good he does. So fond is he of the Colo- 
rado potato beetle that in some localities he is called the 
"potato-bug bird." ^ Professor Beal tells of watching 
grosbeaks near a potato-patch that was nearly riddled by 
these destructive insects. He saw the parent-birds visit 
the field repeatedly, and then bring their young when 
able to fly. The brood perched in a row on the top rail 
of the fence, and were fed so frequently that in a few 
days the potato-bugs had entirely disappeared. The crop 
was saved. 

Grosbeaks appear to lead unusually happy domestic 
lives. Though the males fight for their mates, they guard 
them and their young with great devotion. They not only 
utter low sweet notes to the mother-bird as she broods, but 
quite frequently take her place on the nest. 

My sister tells of hearing a rose-breast's song in a maple 

1 Fanners' Bulletin 513, Biological Survey, U, S. Dept. of Agricultiire. 

[208] 



THE GROSBEAKS 

grove, and of searching diligently for the singer. She lo- 
cated the tree from which the sound proceeded, and waited 
patiently to see him "gaily flit from bough to bough"; 
but no bird came into view. She went around the tree 
until, to her delight, she discovered him sitting on the nest, 
only a few feet from where she stood. He stopped sing- 
ing when he saw her, but showed neither surprise nor fear, 
and resumed his song after she went away. She realized 
that she had had an unusually rare privilege. 

To hear a grosbeak's song at night is an experience 
similar to that of listening to a nightingale in Europe, or 
to a mockingbird in our South or West, singing by moon- 
light. 



THE BLUE GROSBEAK 
Finch Family — Fringillidoe 

Length: 7 inches; indigo bunting, 5^2 inches. 

Male: Body a deep blue, almost black on the back; chin and 
cheeks black; bill heavy; tail black, edged with 
blue; wings black, tipped with bright brown, giving 
the effect of one broad and one narrow wing-bar. 
Winter plumage, rusty brown mottled with blue. 

Female: Grayish-brown above, more or less washed with blue; 
wings brown, barred with buff; under parts washed 
with buff. 

Songf: A sweet grosbeak warble. 

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from Missouri, 
southern Illinois and Maryland, south to eastern 
Texas, and northern Florida ; accidental in Wiscon- 
sin, New England, the Maritime Provinces, and 
Cuba; winters in Yucatan and Honduras, 

[209] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

THE Blue Grosbeak resembles its smaller relative, 
the indigo bunting, but it has a larger, darker body, 
a heavier bill, and brown-tipped wing feathers. It is 
more nearly the size of a cowbird than of the indigo-bird. 
It may be found in thickets similar to those frequented by 
its small blue relative. 

It is a bird of the southeastern part of the United States, 
but occasionally strays northward. 



THE EVENING GROSBEAK 

Finch Family — Fringillidce 

Length: 8 inches; 3 inches larger than the goldfinch. 

Male: Forehead bright yellow; crown of head black; body 
olive-brown, with yellow on shoulders, rump, and 
belly; wings black and white; tail forked, black; 
bill heavy and yellowish. 

Female: Brownish-gray, tinged with yellow underneath; wings 
black and white; forked tail black, tipped with 
white. 

Range: Central North America. Breeds in western Alberta; 
winters in the interior of North America east of the 
Rocky Mts., more or less irregularly in southern 
Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, eastern Pennsylvania, New 
York, New Jersey, New England, and Quebec. 

A SIGHT of this handsome bird is an event in the East, 
and arouses great interest in people who know how 
rare it is. Five were seen near Washington in early April 
of this year, and were hailed with enthusiasm. It is a 
common resident of our Northwest, though it wanders in 
flocks to the East occasionally. 

[210] 



THE GROSBEAKS 

It looks like a large goldfinch, though it is a less bril- 
liant yellow, has larger patches of white on its wings and 
wears its dark cap back on its head, above its yellow fore- 
head, instead of pulled down to its eyes and bill. It 
blends perfectly with the yellows and olive-browns of some 
of our western landscapes. 

It feeds on berries, seeds, and insects. It becomes very 
tame. 

THE BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK 

Finch Family — Fringillidce 

THE Black-headed Grosbeak has cinnamon-brown 
upper parts, breast, band about the neck, and 
rump; yellow belly, black head, wings, and tail; wings 
with two white bars and a white patch; tail with while 
tips. Female brovmish-black and buff above; under parts 
tawny and yellow, streaked with dark; chin, sides of 
throat, and line over eye whitish. 

"The Black-headed Grosbeak takes the place in the 
West of the rosebreast of the East, and, like it, is a line 
songster. Like it, also, the blackhead readily resorts to 
orchards and gardens and is common in agricultural dis- 
tricts. The bird has a very powerful bill and easily 
crushes or cuts into the firmest fruit. It feeds upon 
cherries, apricots, and other fruits, and also does some 
damage to peas and beans, but it is so active a foe of 
certain horticultural pests that we can afford to overlook 
its faults. ... It eats scale insects, cankerworms, codling 
moths, and many jflower beetles, which do incalculable 
damage to cultivated flowers and to ripe fruit." ^ 

1 Farmers' Bulletin 513, Biological Survey, Dr. Henry W. Henshaw. 

[211] 



THE BOBOLINK 



American Blackbird Family — Icteridce 

Length: A little over 7 inches. 

Male: Spring or Breeding plumage: Crown, sides of head, 
throat, and other under parts black; back of head 
and neck light yellow; upper half of back black, 
streaked with creamy white; lower half of back, 
rump, and shoulders white; wings black, some of the 
feathers tipped with buff; tail black, the feathers 
pointed. Many birds have dark upper parts and 
light breasts; the bobolink wears his bright breast 
upon his back during the summer. In the fall, he 
resembles the female. 

Female: Olive-brown and light yellow above, with black 
streaks; head with olive-brown and light yellow 
stripes; under parts pale yellow; wings and tail 
brown. 

Notes: A tinkling ding-ding, not unlike the sound of a bell; 
likewise a chirp. 

Song: A bubbling song, full of ecstasy and abandon. It is 
one of the most delightful songs of the teter mi- 
grants. 

Habitat: While in the North, the bobolink inhabits our fields 
and meadows, where he "swings on brier and weed." 
In the fall, he frequents the rice-fields of our south- 
ern states on his way to South America, and does 
so much harm that he is dreaded and hated. 

Ilange: North and South America. Breeds mainly from the 
plains of south-central Canada to Nevada, Utah, 
northern Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Vir- 
ginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey; winters in 

[212] 








BOBOLINK 



THE BOBOLINK 

South America, to southern Brazil, Paraguay, and 
Bolivia. 

HAD Robert Louis Stevenson written the biography 
of a bobolink, he might have given him the 
names of his immortal Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, for the 
bird seems to possess a dual nature, and to bear totally 
different reputations in the North and the South. When 
he visits Canada and northern United States in May, 
dressed in his gay wedding finery, he is greeted with joy. 
Few more delightful birds are to be found than this at- 
tractive, happy-hearted singer against whom no reproaches 
are registered in the North. 

His song has been a favorite theme for poets and na- 
ture-writers. Thoreau wrote: "One or two notes globe 
themselves and fall in bubbles from his teeming throat. 
It is as if he touched his harp within a vase of liquid mel- 
ody, and when he lifted it out, the notes fell like bubbles 
from the strings. Methinks they are the most liquidly 
sweet and melodious sounds I ever heard." ^ 

The bobolink's habits in the North are almost beyond 
reproach. Professor Beal writes: "In New England there 
are few birds about which so much romance clusters as 
this rollicking songster, naturally associated with the June 
meadows; but in the South there are none on whose head 
so many maledictions have been heaped on account of its 
fondness for rice. During its sojourn in the Northern 
States it feeds mainly upon insects and seeds of useless 
plants; but while rearing its young, insects constitute its 
chief food, and almost the exclusive diet of its brood. 
After the young are able to fly, the whole family gathers 

1 From "Notes on New England Birds," by Thoreau, page 246. 

[213] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

into a small flock and begins to live almost entirely upon 
vegetable food. This consists for the most part of weed 
seeds, since in the North these birds do not appear to at- 
tack grain to any extent. They eat a few oats." ^ 

Dr. Henshaw adds: "When the young are well on the 
wing, they gather in flocks with the parent birds and grad- 
ually move southward, being then generally known as reed- 
birds. They reach the ricefields of the Carolinas about 
August 20, when the rice is in the milk. Then until the 
birds depart for South America, planters and birds fight 
for the crop, and in spite of constant watchfulness and 
innumerable devices for scaring the birds a loss of 10 
per cent, of the rice is the usual result." ^ 

Major Bendire, in his "Life Histories of North Ameri- 
can Birds," quotes a letter from Capt. W. M. Hazzard, a 
large rice-grower of South Carolina, written concerning 
the warfare waged against these ricebirds: 

"The Bobolinks make their appearance here during the 
latter part of April. At that season, their plumage is 
white and black, and they sing merrily when at rest. 
Their flight is always at night. In the evening there are 
none. In the morning their appearance is heralded by 
the popping of whips and firing of musketry by the bird- 
minders in their eff'orts to keep the birds from pulling up 
the young rice. This warfare is kept up incessantly un- 
til about the 25th of May, when they suddenly disappear 
at night. Their next appearance is in a dark yellow 
plumage, as the Ricebird. There is no song at this time, 
but instead a chirp which means ruin to any rice found in 
the milk. My plantation record will show that for the 

2 Farmers' Bulletin 630, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey. 

3 Farmers' Bulletin 513, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey. 

[214] 



THE BOBOLINK 

past ten years, except when prevented by stormy south 
or southwest winds, the Ricebirds have come punctually 
on the night of the 21st of August, apparently coming 
from seaward. All night their chirp can be heard pass- 
ing over our summer homes on South Island, which is 
situated 6 miles to the east of our rice plantations, in full 
view of the ocean. Curious to say, we have never seen 
this flight during the day. During the nights of August 
21, 22, 23, and 24, millions of these birds make their ap- 
pearance and settle in the ricefields. From the 21st of 
August to the 25th of September our every eff^ort is made 
to save the crop. Men, boys, and women with guns and 
ammunition, are posted. . . . The firing commences at 
dawn and is kept up till sunset. ... If from any cause 
there is a check to the crop during its growth which pre- 
vents the grain from being hard, but in milky condition, 
the destruction of such fields is complete, it not paying to 
cut and bring the rice out of the field. ... I consider 
these birds as destructive to rice as the caterpillar is to 
cotton, with this difference, that these Ricebirds never fail 
to come." 



[215] 



THE GOLDFINCH 

Finch Family — Fringillidce 

Length: About 5 inches, 

Male: Spring and summer plumage — body and shoulders 
bright yellow; crown black; wings and tail, black 
and white; tail forked; feathers above tail, gray. 
Winter plumage — olive-brown back; throat, breast, 
and shoulders yellow; wings black and white. 

Female: Olive-brown above; dull yellow below; wings and 
tail a dull black; white bars on wings, tail white- 
tipped; shoulders olive-green; grayish above tail. 
No black on crown. 

Notes: An unusually sweet chirp or call-note like that of a 
canary, who-ee', with a rising inflectioi?; a flight -note, 
per -chick' ory, given as the goldfinch bounds through 
the air; a number of gpntle little twittering sounds, 
for these birds are very social and communicative. 

Song: A rapid outpouring of notes in a wild, sweet, canary- 
like strain. 

Flight: In great waves or undulations. 

Habitat: Fields and gardens, or wherever its favorite food 
may be obtained. 

Nest: In bushes or trees; made of soft grasses or fibers, and 
lined with thistledown. 

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from south-central 
Canada to Oklahoma, Arkansas, and northern Geor- 
gia; winters over most of its breeding range and 
south to the Gulf Coast. 

IN winter, the goldfinch may be distinguished from 
others of the finch or sparrow family by its undulat- 
ing flight, its flight-note, per-chick'ory, and its call-note. 

[216] 




CiULDiLNLll 



THE GOLDFINCH 

Its black and white wings and tail are also distinctive. 
It is found in flocks during the winter season. 

The Goldfinch or "Wild Canary" is one of our best- 
loved birds. The beauty of the male's coloring, the sweet- 
ness of his voice, the joyousness of his nature have won 
him many friends. 

John Burroughs wrote: "The goldfinch has many 
pretty ways. So far as my knowledge goes, he is not cap- 
able of one harsh note. His tones are either joyous or 
plaintive. In his spring reunions they are joyous. In the 
peculiar flight song in which he indulges in the mating 
season, beating the air vertically with his round open 
wings, his tones are fairly ecstatic. His call to his mate 
when she is brooding, and when he circles ai)out her in that 
long, billowy flight, the crests of his airy waves being thirty 
or forty feet apart, calling, 'Perchic-o-pee, perchic-o-pee,' 
as if he were saying, 'For love of thee, for love of thee,' and 
she calling back, 'Yes, dearie; yes, dearie' — his tones at 
such times express contentment and reassurance. 

"When any of his natural enemies appear — a hawk, 
a cat, a jay, — his tones are plaintive in sorrow and not 
in anger. 

"When with his mate he leads their brood about the 
August thistles, the young call in a similar tone. When 
in July the nesting has begun, the female talks the pret- 
tiest 'baby talk' to her mate as he feeds her. The nest- 
building rarely begins till thistledown can be had, so lit- 
erally are all the ways of this darling bird ways of 
softness and gentleness. The nest is a thick, soft, warm 
structure, securely fastened in the fork of a maple or an 
apple-tree. 



'» 1 



iFrom "Under The Maples," by John Burroughs; page 42. 

[217] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

The fondness of goldfinches for the seeds of thistles has 
given them the name of thistle-birds. While they eat in- 
sects during the summer, they are especially useful as 
seed-destroyers. At Marshall Hall, Md., Dr. Judd ob- 
served them eating their first fresh supply in the spring 
from dandelions; in June, they ate the seeds of the field 
daisy; in July, of the purple aster and wild carrot. 
Thistles and wild lettuce were feasted upon during August; 
while in September the troublesome beggar-tick and rag- 
weed were eagerly sought. At one time Dr. Judd counted 
a flock of three hundred goldfinches busily stripping 
seeds from a rank growth of the latter weed; he dis- 
covered them, also, devouring seeds of the trumpet-creeper. 
They are invaluable aids to a farmer; the only fault of 
which they can be accused is that of "pilfering" sunflower 
seeds. The presence of sunflowers in a garden is likely 
to attract goldfinches, just as trumpet-creeper blossoms 
lure hummingbirds. 

I recall a lovely garden in which I spent many pleasant 
hours one summer, happy in its beauty and fragrance, 
and in the companionship of bird visitors. Near my ac- 
customed seat grew a clump of sunflowers, often sought 
by goldfinches. The black and gold of their plumage 
made a pretty sight against the yellow petals and dark 
centers of the great flowers. I remember one little bird 
that fluttered among the golden petals, too busy singing 
to eat for a time. 

Two bird-hunting cats haunted the garden. I took a 
malicious pleasure in driving them away, because their 
ignorant, parsimonious owner had informed me that she 
kept them locked up while her chickens were young, so 
the cats wouldn't catch them. She didn't care how many 

[218] 



THE GOLDFINCH 

birds were killed, for then she wouldn't be obliged to feed 
the prowlers. The goldfinches soon learned that when I 
was there they could feast in safety. More than once 
when I was in the house or on the porch I would hear their 
alarm cry of De-de? de-de? sound from a maple near the 
piazza, plainly calling for my aid. When I went out to 
the garden and drove away their feline foes, the cries 
would cease. The angry owner of the cats, who dared 
not remonstrate further with me, cut down the sunflowers! 
My most beautiful memory of goldfinches is associated 
with one of their spring mating-festivals. My sister and 
I had read Burroughs's description of these love-feasts, so 
we were prepared to understand what the unusual chorus 
meant. The sweet call-notes of the males, interspersed 
with rapturous bursts of melody and frequent flutterings 
met with quick response from the olive-and-gold females, 
who chirped and said "Yes" with a joy pleasant to see! 
It is impossible to convey adequately any idea of the ex- 
quisite tenderness of their voices, of the absence of quar- 
reling and jealousies, — of the perfect harmony of the pro- 
ceeding. I can only wish that every person who loves 
birds might some time have the pleasure of a similar ex- 
perience. 



[219] 



THE CATBIRD 

Mockingbird Family — Mimidce 

Length: Nearly 9 inches. 

Male and Female: A slender, long-tailed, gray bird, with a 
black crown and tail, and chestnut-brown feathers 
under the tail; breast somewhat paler than back; bill 
slightly curved. 

Note: A soft wd, not unlike the mew of a kitten. 

Song: A delightful warble — soft, sweet, and musical, though 
it is occasionally interspersed with the catlike noise 
wd, and with sounds of mimicry. Catbirds are 
sometimes called northern mockingbirds. 

Habitat: Tangled thickets preferred. Fruit trees, berry- 
patches, and garden-shrubbery are also sought. 

Nest: A veritable scrap-basket made of twigs, leaves, grasses, 
plant-fibers and rootlets, with paper sometimes inter- 
woven. One nest that I examined contained a scrap 
from a torn letter and a fragment of a sermon from 
a newspaper. Several tell-tale cherry-stones lay on 
the bottom, circumstantial evidence of theft. 

Eggs: A lovely greenish-blue, not unlike those of the robin. 

(Range: A common bird of eastern North America, from cen- 
tral Canada to the Gulf and northern Florida. It 
is found in the northwestern part of the U. S. and 
winters in our southern states and in Central Amer- 
ica. 

THE catbird is well-named. It is the color of a Mal- 
tese cat, is sleek and agile, and in movement quiet 
and stealthy. Its mew is so like that of a kitten as to be 
confusing to the uninitiated. I recall the frantic barking 

[220] 




CATBIKD 



THE CATBIRD 

of our small dog at a catbird that she heard in the shrub- 
bery one day. It was difficult to convince her that one of 
her hated foes, a cat, was not the author of the sound that 
always infuriated her. 

Though catbirds possess little claim to beauty, they 
seem to be vain and appear always to be doing something 
to attract attention. They are in constant motion — twitch- 
ing their tails, jerking their bodies, and making their 
gentle, inane "cat-calls." 

I once had an amusing experience with a catbird. I 
had seated myself near a thicket in which a Maryland 
Yellow-throat was flitting. Hoping to beguile him from 
the shrubbery and thus afford myself a better view of him, 
I gave his song repeatedly — "Witch-a-tee-o, witch-a-tee-o." 
A catbird on the fence-rail behind the thicket was flirting 
his tail, looking knowingly at me, and giving his call re- 
peatedly. I paid no attention to him, and continued to 
say "Witch-a-tee-o." It was not long before he, too, war- 
bled "Witch-a-tee-o." Whether he did it from his love of 
mimicry or from a desire to be noticed, I shall never know, 
but his bearing was, ^'Now will you pay some attention 
to me.'" 

Catbirds are in disfavor among the growers of cherries 
and berries, both wild and cultivated; they make havoc in 
strawberry-beds. Mr. Forbush reports that their depre- 
dations vary in different localities. He claims that in 
spite of their fruit-stealing propensities they deserve pro- 
tection in Massachusetts, because they devour locusts, can- 
kerworms, and the caterpillars of various moths, most im- 
portant being those of the gypsy and brown-tail moths. 

In the Biological Survey Bulletin "Fifty Common Birds 
of Farm and Orchard" (No. 513) the following statements 

[221] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

about the catbird are made: "Half of its food consists of 
fruit, and the cultivated crops most often injured are cher- 
ries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Bee- 
tles, ants, crickets, and grasshoppers are the most impor- 
tant element of its animal food. The bird is known to 
attack a few pests such as cutworms, leaf beetles, clover- 
root curculio, and the periodical cicada, but the good it 
does in this way probably does not pay for the fruit it 
steals. The extent to which it should be protected may 
perhaps be left to the individual cultivator; that is, it 
should be made lawful to destroy catbirds that are doing 
manifest damage to crops." 

Dr. Judd found that catbirds fed their young almost en- 
tirely on insects; he therefore scored a point in their favor. 
Their bravery in defense of their nest and their young is 
well known. 

Burroughs tells an unusual anecdote about a catbird as 
follows : 

"A friend of mine who had a summer home on one of 
the trout-streams of the Catskills discovered that the cat- 
bird was fond of butter, and she soon had one of the birds 
coming every day to the dining-room, perching on the back 
of the chair, and receiving its morsel of butter from a 
fork held in the mistress's hand. I think the butter was 
unsalted. My friend was convinced after three years that 
the same pair of birds returned to her each year because 
each season the male came promptly for his butter." ^ 

Many other incidents might be related concerning this 
interesting bird, — of its unusual intelligence and its re- 
markable power of mimicry. One catbird in Tennessee 
learned to imitate the songs of all the birds that nested 

1 From "Under the Maples" by John Burroughs — page 66. 

[222] 



THE CATBIRD 

near him. His rendering of the red-eyed vireo's song was 
as good as that of the vireo himself. His listeners felt 
that it was wearisome enough to have the red-eye preach- 
ing constantly, but to have the catbird reiterating it was 
more than they could endure. 



[223] 



THE BROWN THRASHER 

Mockingbird Family — Mimidce 

Length: About 11 inches, larger than the robin; tail 5 inches 
long. 

General Appearance: A large bird with a bright brown back, 
white breast streaked with brownish-black, and a 
very long tail which is moved or "thrashed" about 
incessantly. 

Male and Female: Reddish-brown above; white underneath, 
becoming buff after the August molt; throat indis- 
tinctly marked with dark streaks; breast and sides 
heavily streaked; wings with two indistinct white 
bars; tail almost half the length of the bird; bill 
long (about 1 inch), sharp and curving. 

Notes: A "smacking" sound and a sharp whew. 

Song: A loud, clear, beautiful song. It consists of several 
phrases, each composed of two or more similar notes. 
Thoreau interpreted it as follows: "cherruit, cher- 
ru.it, cherruit; go ahead, go ahead; give it to him, 
give it to him." ^ The song is generally sung from 
the tops of trees or bushes. 

Habitat: Like the catbird, the thrasher is found frequently in 
shrubbery, where it scratches among dead leaves for 
its food. Its brown color protects it admirably. 

Nest: Made of twigs, leaves, and root-fibers, placed in thickets 
or on the ground. 

Eggs: White, evenly speckled with fine brown spots. 

Pood: Wild fruit and berries (30 kinds), and insects, espe- 
cially beetles and caterpillars. Professor Beal says: 
"The farmer has nothing to fear from depredations 

1 From Notes on New England Birds," by H. D, Thoreau, p. 361. 

[224] 




BROWN THRASHER 



THE BROWN THRASHER 

on fruit or grain by the brown thrasher. The bird 
is a resident of groves and swamps rather than of 
orchards and gardens." ^ 
Range: Eastern United States and southern Canada, westward 
to tlie Rocky Mts.; winters in south-eastern United 
States. 

BECAUSE of his brown color and his speckled 
breast, the Brown Thrasher has often been er- 
roneously called the Brown Thrush. Careful observation 
reveals many points of difference. He is three or four 
inches longer than our common thrushes — in fact, his tail 
alone is only about 2V2 inches shorter than the entire body 
of the veery or the hermit thrush; his bill is almost foul 
times as long as theirs and is decidedly curved. Instead 
of dark, thrush-like eyes, he has pale yelldw ones that give 
him an uncanny appearance. 

He is not a dweller in woods, but, like the catbird, pre- 
fers thickets. Burroughs says: *'The furtive and stealthy 
manners of the catbird contrast strongly with the frank 
open manners of the thrushes. Its cousin the brown 
thrasher goes skulking about in much the same way, flirt- 
ing from bush to bush like a culprit escaping from justice. 
But he does love ta sing from the April treetops where all 
the world may see and hear, if said world does not come 
too near." ^ 

His song is a brilliant, delightful performance, admir- 
able in technique, but lacking in a quality of tone that 
moves the heart. It is often of long duration. One May 
afternoon, I heard a thrasher singing so long that I was 
moved to time him. He sang without stopping for fifteen 

• Farmers' Bulletin 755, Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. 
3 From "Under the Maples," bv John Burroughs, p. 67. 

[225] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

minutes by my watch, and his entire song must have lasted 
nearly half an hour. 

The brown thrasher, like the other members of his fam- 
ily, has power of mimicry. In the north, he is sometimes 
called the "Northern Mocker"; in some regions where he 
and the mockingbird both live, he is known as the "Sandy 
Mocker." There is sufficient similarity in the songs of the 
catbird, the thrasher, and the mockingbird to make a lis- 
tener pause a moment to distinguish them when in a lo- 
cality where the three birds are to be found. The cat- 
bird's mew betrays him; the thrasher's song is more bril- 
liant and sustained; the mocker's more varied. Thoreau 
says, "The thrasher has a sort of laugh in his strain that 
the catbird has not." '* His song resembles decidedly that 
of the English thrush, famed in poetry. Browning's des- 
cription of the latter is equally applicable to our thrasher: 

"He sings each song twice over, 

Lest you should think he never could recapture 

That first fine careless rapture." 

*From "Notes on New England Birds," Thoreau, p. 361. 



[226] 




MOCKINGBIRD 



THE MOCKINGBIRD 



Mockingbird Family — Mimidce 

Length: About 10 inches; an inch longer than the catbird 
and an inch shorter than the thrasher; tail about 
5 inches long. 

Male and Female: A long, slender, brownish-gray bird, with 
grayish-white under parts; wings and tail dark 
brown ; wings with two white bars and iiJiite patches 
that are conspicuous in flight; middle tail-feathers 
brown, outer feathers white, others partly ivhite. 
The female frequently has less white than the male. 

Notes: A great variety. Some mockingbirds seem to possess 
unlimited powers of mimicry; others have far less 
ability to reproduce sounds. 

Song: A sweet, delightful melody, sung in pure liquid tones 
and with ease and assurance, as though the birds 
were conscious of their power. They are probably 
the most famous songsters of America. Sidney 
Lanier, Walt Whitman, and other poets have written 
well-known poems in their praise, while Roosevelt 
and many other prose-writers have added their en- 
comiums. 

Habitat: Near the haunts of man, in gardens, parks, tree- 
shaded streets, and groves. 

Kange: Southeastern United States chiefly from* eastern Ne- 
braska, southern Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and 
Maryland, south to eastern Texas, southern Florida 
and the Bahamas; occasional in New York and 
Massachusetts, though a number of records have been 
made near Boston; accidental in Wisconsin, Ontario, 
Maine, and Nova Scotia; introduced into Bermuda. 

[227] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

The WESTERN MOCKINGBIRD is found in California, 
southern Wyoming, northwestern Nebraska, and west- 
em Kansas, south to Mexico and Lower California. 
It has a longer tail and wings than the eastern spe- 
cies, and is a paler gray. 

NUTTALL called the Mockingbird "the unrivalled 
Orpheus of the forest, and the natural wonder of 
America." His voice certainly has power to "soothe the 
savage breast," to interest the mind because of the varied 
range and remarkable technique, and to uplift the soul, 
especially when heard in the stillness and beauty of a 
moonlight night. 

There is great difference of opinion regarding the 
"mocker." He is more loved and admired in the South 
than in the West, and is regarded with pride as worthy to 
be called the nightingale of America. Most writers have 
sung his praises, but occasionally some one regards him 
with disfavor because of his habit of interlarding his beau- 
tiful song with curious and disagreeable sounds. Wilson 
Flagg says, "He often brings his tiresome extravaganzas 
to a magnificent climax of melody and as frequently con- 
cludes an inimitable chant with a most contemptible ba- 
thos." ^ 

The power of mimicry varies with different individuals. 
In a brief interval of time, one bird may imitate a wood- 
pecker, a phoebe, a wren, a jay, or a cardinal, so as to 
deceive most listeners. He may produce the sound made 
by the popping of a cork or the buzzing of a saw; the next 
moment he may scream like a hawk to frighten chickens 
and send them to cover, or cluck like an old hen and bring 

iprom "Birds of New England," by Wilson Flagg, used by special 
arrangement with the Page Co., Boston. 

[228] 



THE MOCKINGBIRD 

young chicks from their hiding-places. Some mockers 
seem to be able to reproduce the bird-songs they hear more 
melodiously than the singers themselves render them. 

Mockingbirds' bravery in defense of their nests and 
their young is well known. They have an especial antip- 
athy to dogs and cats, and are merciless in tlieir attacks 
on those animals if seen near the vicinity of their nests. 
A friend in California told me that her cat was in abject 
terror of a mockingbird. Instead of considering him 
tempting prey, she invariably fled to cover when he ap- 
peared, and remained in hiding for a time. The fur on 
her sides was noticeably thinned where the angry bird had 
pulled out numerous locks. One day, while my family 
were visiting San Francisco, they heard a dog yelping pit- 
eously and discovered him running at lightning speed 
down the middle of the street. A mockingbird was 
perched on his back and was pulling hairs out of his tail 
with spiteful tweaks. Mockers have been known to kill 
snakes that approached their nests, and to attack human 
beings with great fury. 

They like to live near people and seem to respond to the 
aff'ection shown them in the South, where they are such 
favorites that they are seldom molested. Formerly mock- 
ingbirds were trapped for cage-birds, as were cardinals, 
but this practice is largely discontinued now, because of 
protective laws and aroused public sentiment. 

Dr. Henry W. Henshaw says: "It is not surprising that 
the mockingbird should receive protection principally be- 
cause of its ability as a songster and its preference for the 
vicinity of dwellings. Its place in the affections of the 
South is similar to that occupied by the robin in the 
North. It is well that this is true, for the bird appears 

[229] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

not to earn protection from a strictly economic standpoint. 
About half of its diet consists of fruit, and many culti- 
vated varieties are attacked, such as oranges, grapes, figs, 
strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Somewhat 
less than a fourth of the food is animal matter, of which 
grasshoppers are the largest single element. The bird is 
fond of cottonworms, and is known to feed on the chinch 
bug, rice weevil, and boUworm. It is unfortunate that it 
does not feed on injurious insects to an extent to offset its 
depredations on fruit," ^ 

Professor Beal says, however, "The mockingbird will 
probably do little harm to cultivated fruits so long as wild 
varieties are accessible and abundant." ^ Wise cultivators 
of fruit take this into consideration and plant accordingly, 
to keep both their fruit and the delightful, amusing mock- 
ingbirds. 

2 Farmers' Bulletin 513, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey, 

3 From Farmers' Bulletin 755, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological 
Survey. 



[230] 




YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO 



THE YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO 

Cuckoo Family — Cuculidce 



Length: About 12 inches; tail over 6 inches. 

Male and Female: Brownish-gray above with a greenish tinge; 
white underneath; reddish-brown wings; feathers 
brightest on inner web; middle tail feathers brown- 
ish-gray; outer ones black, broadly tipped with ivhile, 
tips decreasing in size toward center; lower mandible 
of bill yellow except at the end. 

Notes: A rapid, guttural utterance of the words cook-cook- 
cook-cook and cow-cow-cow-cow. Our cuckoos some- 
times give a cooing note, but do not say cuck'-oo 
like their European relatives. 

Flight: Swift and difficult to observe, as the cuckoo glides 
rapidly from bough to bough, under cover if pos- 
sible. 

Nest: A loosely-constructed platform of sticks. 

Habitat: Orchards, woodlands, park-like estates, and quiet 
shady streets. Cuckoos are occasionally seen in ex- 
posed, sunny places. 

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from southern Can- 
ada and northern United States as far west as North 
Dakota and as far south as northern Louisiana and 
Florida; winters south to Argentina. 

The BLACK-BiLLF.D CUCKOO is similar to the Yellow- 
bill in general appearance, but has several marked 
differences. Its upper parts are more greenish; its 
tail-feathers have smaller white tips; its wings are 
gray, not reddish-brown; its bill is black, not yel- 
low; its eye-ring is red. 
[231] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

CUCKOOS seem to have less individuality than many 
of our birds; they resemble several of them. 
They are not unlike catbirds in their quiet, stealthy move- 
ments; they are slender, gray-and-white, and long-tailed 
like mockingbirds; they build nests somewhat like those 
of mourning doves. 

They are shy, solitary birds, that are known by their 
note rather than by sight. I never heard of any one but 
Wordsworth and Wilson Flagg who loved cuckoos or called 
them "darlings of the spring." The European cuckoo has, 
however, a very different nature and a more joyous note. 

Burroughs is most amusing in his comments. He says: 
"We cannot hail our black-billed as 'blithe newcomer,' as 
Wordsworth does his cuckoo. 'Doleful newcomer,' would 
be a fitter title. There is nothing cheery or animated in 
his note, and he is about as much a 'wandering voice' as 
is the European bird. He does not babble of sunshine 
and of flowers. He is a prophet of the rain, and the 
country people call him the rain crow. All his notes are 
harsh and verge on the weird." ^ 

He is, however, worthy of consideration. He is of great 
value to farmers and apple-growers because of his appe- 
tite for caterpillars and grasshoppers. Professor Beal 
wrote as follows: "The common observation that cuckoos 
feed largely on caterpillars has been confirmed by stom- 
ach examination. Furthermore, they appear to prefer 
the hairy and spiny species, which are supposed to be pro- 
tected from the attacks of birds. The extent to which 
cuckoos eat hairy caterpillars is shown by the inner coat- 
ings of the stomachs, which frequently are so pierced by 
these hairs and spines that they are completely furred. 

1 From "Under the Maples," by John Burroughs, pages 87 & 88. 

[232] 



THE YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO 

The apple-tree tent-caterpillar and the red-humped apple- 
caterpillar are also eaten. In all, caterpillars constitute 
two-thirds of the total food of the yellow-billed cuckoo in 
the South. Few birds feed so exclusively upon any one 
order of insects. 

"The natural food for cuckoos would seem to be bugs 
and caterpillars which feed upon leaves, as these birds 
live in the shade among the leaves of trees and bushes. 
Not so with grasshoppers, whose favorite haunts are on the 
ground in the blazing sunshine, yet these creatures are the 
second largest item in the cuckoo's diet. Grasshoppers 
are so agreeable an article of food that many a bird ap- 
parently forsakes its usual feeding grounds and takes to 
the earth for them. Thus it is with the cuckoos; they 
quit their cool, shady retreats in order to gratify their 
taste for these insects of the hot sunshine. But there are 
some members of the grasshopper order that live in the 
shade, as katydids, tree crickets, and ground crickets, and 
these are all used to vary the cuckoo's bill of fare." ^ It 
eats, also, bugs that injure oranges and melons, and the 
cotton-boll weevil in large numbers. 

2 Farmers' Bulletin 755, Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. of Agr'iculture. 



[233] 



THE LEAST FLYCATCHER OR CHEBEC 
Flycatcher Family — Tyrannidcs 

IN March, there comes to us from the South the phoebe, 
inconspicuous in plumage, yet easy to identify be- 
cause of its distinctive caU. About a month later there 
arrives the smallest member of our Flycatchers, — the Che- 
bee or Least-Flycatcher. Less than five and a half inches 
in length, slender, olive-brown above, grayish-w^hite be- 
neath with an indistinct grayish band across the breast, 
this little bird might escape our notice were it not for its 
oft repeated and unmistakable call-note. It announces its 
presence by uttering its name Chebec, as clearly and per- 
sistently as its cousins, the phoebe and pewee, say theirs. 

The chebec is a bird to be found in orchards, by road- 
sides, and in trees of village streets. Like other mem- 
bers of its family it seeks conspicuous perches, from which 
it dives after flies, moths, and other insects, returning to 
its perch to wheeze out its name, with jerks and twitches 
of its tail. 

It breeds from central Canada to central United States 
as «far south as Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, Pennsylvania, 
and New Jersey, and in the Alleghany Mts. to North Caro- 
lina; winters from Mexico to Panama and Peru. 



[234] 



?^\', 









^y ■«*•' 



KINGBIRD 



THE KINGBIRD 

Flycatcher Family — Tyrannidos 

Length: About 8i/^> inches. 

Male and Female: Upper parts dark gray; under parts pure 
white, with an indistinct grayish wash at the sides of 
the breast; head grayish-black, slightly crested, with 
a concealed orange patch; bill with bristles at the 
base; wing-feathers and upper tail-coverts tipped ol 
edged with white; tail fan-shaped in flight, showing 
a broad white band at the end. 

Note: An unmusical, rattling Squeak-squeak? squeak-squeak- 
squeak? uttered frequently, and apparently in an 
irritated mood. The sharply hooked beak and fierce- 
looking eye also give the appearance of pugnacity. 

Habitat: Orchards, trees by roadsides, and near farm-build- 
ings. One looks for the kingbird in open country, 
not in woodlands; he seeks conspicuous perches. 
The nests are placed in trees — in those of orchards 
preferably. 

Range : North and South America. Breeds from South-central 
Canada and throughout the United States except in 
the south-west; winters from Mexico to South 
America. 

NO more interesting description of the Kingbird has 
come to my attention than that by Major Bendire. 
He writes as follows: 

"Few of our birds are better known throughout the 
United States than the Kingbird. Bold and fearless in 
character, yet tame and confiding in man, often prefer- 
ring to live in close proximity to dwellings, in gardens 

[235] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

and orchards, they are prime favorites with the majority 
of our farming population, and they well deserve their 
fullest protection. Few birds are more useful to the far- 
mer; their reputation for pugnacity and reckless courage 
is so well established that it is almost needless to dwell 
on it, as it is well known that they will boldly attack and 
drive off the largest of our Raptores, should one venture 
too near to their chosen nesting-sites. 

"Where a pair or more of these birds make their home 
in the vicinity of a farmhouse, the poultry yard is not 
likely to suffer much through feathered marauders at least; 
they are a perfect terror to all hawks, instantly darting at 
them and rising above them, alighting on their shoulders 
or necks, and picking away at them most unmercifully 
until they are only too willing to beat a hasty retreat. 
The male is seemingly always on the lookout from his 
perch on the top branches of a tree or post for such enemies 
and no matter how large they may be, a pair of Kingbirds 
is more than a match for any of them, our larger Falcons 
and Eagles not excepted. Crows and Blue Jays seem to 
be especially obnoxious to them, and instances are on rec- 
ord where they have done them material injury.'* 

Major Bendire says also that kingbirds do not "bully" 
all birds, but "as a rule live in harmony with them, pro- 
tecting not only their own nests but those of their small 
neighbors as well, who frequently place their nests within 
a few feet of the Kingbirds — the Orchard Oriole, for in- 
stance." He tells however, of the kingbird's dislike of 
the hummingbird — that he has twice seen the tiny "aggres- 
sor" put the larger bird to flight.^ 

1 From "Life Histories of North American Birds," by Major Charles 
Bendire. 

[236] 



THE KINGBIRD 

Kingbirds were for a long time believed to eat bees and 
therefore were in disfavor. They were called Bee-birds 
or Bee-Martins and were shot by bee-keepers who did not 
understand their great value. Professor Beal and other 
investigators in the Biological Department at Washington 
have discovered that ninety per cent, of kingbirds' food 
consists of insects, mostly injurious beetles that prey upon 
grain and fruit. They occasionally eat bees, but exam- 
ination of many stomachs reveals a marked preference for 
drones over workers, and for wasps, wild bees, and ants 
over hive bees." So kingbirds have been exonerated. 

2 Farmers' Bulletin 630, Biological Survey, U. S. Dept, of Agriculture. 



THE GRAY KINGBIRD 

Flycatcher Family — Tyrannidoe 

Length: About 9 inches. 

Male and Female: Upper parts light gray, darker about the 
cheeks; concealed orange patch on the crown; under 
parts whitish, washed with gray on the breast; wings 
and tail brownish; no white band on the tail, like 
the northern kingbird; hill very heavy — almost an 
inch long, with bristles at the base. 

Note: A loud call, Pit-tear'-re, "which is constant and is at 
times lengthened and softened until it might almost 
be called a song." ^ The natives of Porto Rico call 
the bird "pitir're" because of its note. 

Range: Breeds from Georgia, southeastern South Carolina, 
Florida, and Yucatan, through the Bahamas and 
West Indies to northern South America; winters 

1 Biological Survey Bulletin, No. 326, "Birds of Porto Rico," by Alex. 
Wet more. 



[237] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

from the Greater Antilles southward. It is common 
in our southeastern states. 

THE following is an extract from Dr. Wetmore's in- 
teresting description of the Gray Kingbird in the 
bulletin, "Birds of Porto Rico," used with the permission 
of the author: 

"The gray kingbird has the reputation among the coun- 
try people of being tiie earliest riser among birds. In the 
daytime it scatters along the slopes and through the fields 
to feed, but at nightfall gathers in small parties along 
streams to roost in the bamboos or in the mangroves sur- 
rounding the lagoons. The nesting season extends from 
April to July and during the latter month young are abun- 
dant. At all times very pugnacious, pursuing blackbirds, 
hawks, and other birds, they now become doubly so, re- 
senting all intrusions in thedr neighborhood. Occasionally 
they were seen standing on open perches during showers 
with outspread trembling wings, evidently enjoying the 
downpour. 

"A few facts regarding the insect food of this king- 
bird were learned from field observation. Birds were 
twice observed eating the caterpillars of a large sphinx 
moth. These were beaten on a limb, and then the juices 
were extracted by working the body through the bill, while 
only the skin was discarded. Their services in eating 
these and other caterpillars were recognized." 



[238] 



THE CRESTED FLYCATCHER 
Flycatcher Family — Tyrannidoe 

Length: About 9 inches. 

Male and Female: Olive-gray above; throat and breast light 
gray; belly, bright yellow; head conspicuously 
crested; bill, long, dark, slightly hooked, with bris- 
tles at its base; wings brown, margined with white, 
pale yellow, and reddbh-brown ; middle tail-feathers, 
dull brown; inner web of other tail-feathers reddish- 
brown. 

Notes: A whistle that attracts attention. Major Bendire des- 
cribes the "Great Crest's" notes as follows: 

"It utters a variety of sounds; the most common 
is a clear whistle like e-whuit-huit, or wit-ivhit, wit- 
whit, repeated five or six times in a somewhat lower 
key, and varied to whuir, ivhuree, or puree, accom- 
panied by various turnings and twistings of the 
head. Its alarm-note is a penetrating and far-reach- 
ing wheek, wheek." 

Nest: The nest of the crested flycatcher is unique. Major 
Bendire says that it "is usually placed in a natural 
cavity of some tree or dead stump; possibly in an 
abandoned woodpecker excavation, though a nat- 
ural one is preferred." He says also that "nests 
vary in bulk; are begun with a base of coarse trash 
and finished with fine twigs, bunches of cattle hair, 
pine needles, dry leaves and grasses, the tail of a 
rabbit, pieces of catbirds' eggshells, exuviae of 
snakes, owl and hawk feathers, tufts of woodchucks' 
hair and fine grass roots." 

Snake-skins "seem to be present in the majority of 

[239] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

the nests of this species; sometimes in the nest 
proper, and again placed around the sides of it, in 
all probability for protective purposes, and changed 
and rearranged from time to time" . . . probably 
hung outside to "alarm intruders." ^ 

THE Crested Flycatcher lives in eastern North Amer- 
ica; breeds from southern Canada to Florida, and 
winters in Mexico and northern South America. He is a 
common summer resident of the Middle and Southern 
States especially. Though louder-voiced than his rela- 
tives, the kingbird, phoebe, and wood pewee, he is not so 
well known because he is shyer. He is not so pugnacious 
as the kingbird, but he is known to light fiercely for a 
mate. 

THE OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER 

Flycatcher Family — Tyrannidce 

Length: About 7V2 inches. 

Male and Female : Upper parts and sides olive-gray, the gray 
extending across the breast; throat and belly yel- 
lowish, the yellow extending in a point almost to the 
center of the breast; a patch of whitish feathers on 
both sides of the back near the rump; head slightly 
crested; bill long, black above, yellow below, bris- 
tles at the base, wings and tail olive-brown. 

Notes: A monotonous call-note. Pit-pit-pit, and a loud, clear 
Peep-here or Peep-peep-here, frequently uttered from 
the top of a tall spruce. 

Habitat: Groves of conifers. 

Range: North and South America. Breeds from central 

iFrom "Life Histories of North American Birds," by Major Charles 
Bendire. 

[240] 



THE OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER 

Alaska and Canada, in coniferous forests of western 
United States to northern Michigan, New York, and 
Maine, south to the mountains of North Carolina; 
winters in South America from Colombia to Peru. 



[241] 



THE WOOD PEWEE 

Flycatcher Family — Tyrannidce 

Length : From 6 to 6^ inches. 

Male and Female : Dark olive-gray above, darkest -on the head, 
which is somewhat crested; the slightly hooked bill 
has bristles at its base; under parts, grayish-white, 
slightly tinged with yellow; breast and sides a 
darker gray; brownish wings and tail; two whitish 
wing-bars that are more conspicuous than those of 
the phoebe. 

Notes: Pee-a-wee, uttered slowly and mournfully, yet with 
sweetness and tenderness. Sometimes the phrase is 
followed by an abrupt Peer, given with a falling in- 
flection. At times pewees sing continuously. My 
sister timed one that sang for an hour and twenty 
minutes at daybreak. 

Nest: One of the most beautiful made. It is rather broad and 
flat, decorated on the outside with lichens similarly 
to that of the hummingbird. The nest seems to grow 
out of the branch on which it is placed. 

Bange: North and South America. Breeds from southern 
Canada to southern Texas and central Florida, west- 
ward to eastern Nebraska; winters from Nicaraugua 
to Colombia and Peru. 

OF all the flycatchers of my acquaintance the Wood 
Pewee is the most lovable. He is the only one 
that possesses a sweet voice; but his note, long-drawn and 
sad, seems to proceed from an over-burdened heart. The 
appearance of the little bird is dejected, as with drooping 
tail, he utters the plaintive sound. 

[242] 




Ti'^nOcL /YoT?vsrAi~»- 



«ifti>. 






K^- 



I 



WOOD PEWEE 



THE WOOD PEWEE 

The nature of the pewee is sweet and trustful. I have 
always found him responsive, replying almost invariably 
as I have imitated his note. I once had a particularly 
pleasant experience and succeeded in convincing a little 
pewee of my friendly attitude toward him. One summer 
I was obliged to spend many weary days in a hammock 
hung in a grove; I beguiled the tedious hours by endeavor- 
ing to attract birds to close proximity. A pewee came 
oftenest; he frequently perched on a bough within a few 
feet of my hammock, and "talked back" to me between 
dives after insects. That he knew me and was unafraid 
was proved, for when relatives and friends arrived later 
in the summer, he would fly away at their approach. 

I saw much of him, even when parental responsibilities 
claimed him. One day, after the young had flown, I 
came upon him calling earnestly, evidently to a fledgling 
that was on the ground at my feet. I picked up the little 
thing; it cuddled down in my warm hand and closed its 
eyes. Its father continued to call, but without excitement 
at such a proceeding; he seemed to know that I would not 
hurt his baby. I put it on a bough near him and left 
them to work out their bird-problems together. 

Not many days later, we saw four young pewees 
perched in a row on a wire near the house, with their 
parents in attendance. The father called repeatedly and 
the little ones made sweet inarticulate gurglings, finding 
their voices. They were as dear a bird-family as it has 
ever been my pleasure to see. 

Dallas Lore Sharp, in his delightful essay, "A Palace 
in a Pig-pen," thus summarizes the flycatchers: 

"Not much can be said of this flycatcher family, except 

[243] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

that it is useful — a kind of virtue that gets its chief re- 
ward in heaven. I am acquainted with only four of the 
odier nine eastern members, [besides the phoebe], the 
great crested flycatcher, kingbird, wood pewee, and 
chebec, — and each of these has some redeeming attribute 
besides the habit of catching flies. 

"They are all good nest-builders, good parents, and 
brave, independent birds; but aside from phoebe and 
pewee — the latter in his small way the sweetest voice 
of the oak woods — the whole family is an odd lot, cross- 
grained, cross-looking, and about as musical as a family 
of ducks. A duck seems to know that he cannot sing. 
A flycatcher knows nothing of his shortcomings. He be- 
lieves that he can sing, and in time he will prove it. 
If desire and eff"ort count for anything, he certainly must 
prove it in time. How long the family has already been 
training no one knows. Everybody knows, however, the 
success each flycatcher of them has thus far attained. 
It would make a good minstrel show, doubtless, if the 
family would appear together. In chorus, surely, they 
would be far from a tuneful choir. Yet individually, 
in the wide universal chorus of the out-of-doors, how 
much we should miss the kingbird's metallic twitter and 
the chebec's insistent call!" ^ 

iFrom "The Whole Year Round," by Dallas Lore Sharp. 



[244] 



THE RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET 

Old World Warbler Family — Sylviidce 

Length: A little over 4l/4 inches. 

Male: Olive-green above, buff underneath, a ruby-red crown; 
wings brown, edged with olive-green; two light wing- 
bars; tail brown, forked. 

Female: Similar to male, but lacking the red crown. The fe- 
males resemble tiny warblers in appearance. 

Note: A sharp scolding-note. 

Song: A wonderful song, — full, loud, and indescribably beau- 
tiful. It is hard to believe that so finished and re- 
markable a song could come from so small a bird. 

Habitat: Woods, thickets, and orchards. Kinglets are usually 
seen near the ends of branches. 

Range: Northern North America. Breeds in the tree-regions 
of southern Canada, southern Alaska, and the higher 
mountains of the western United States. 

LIKE many of the warblers, the Ruby-crowned King- 
let is a spring and fall migrant, and its arrival 
is therefore of especial interest. It excels most of the 
warblers in its power of song, and is even more agile 
than they. 

In Bulletin 513 of the Biological Survey is the follow- 
ing description of the Ruby-crown: "In habits and 
haunts this tiny sprite resembles a chickadee. It is an 
active, nervous little creature, flitting hither and yon in 
search of food, and in spring stopping only long enough 
to utter its beautiful song, surprisingly loud for the size 
of the musician. Three-fourths of its food consists of 

[245] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

wasps, bugs, and flies. Beetles are the only other item 
of importance. The bugs eaten by the kinglet are mostly 
small, but, happily, they are the most harmful kinds. 
Treehoppers, leafhoppers, and jumping plant-lice are 
pests and often do great harm to trees and smaller plants, 
while plant-lice and scale insects are the worst scourges 
of the fruit-grower — in fact, the prevalence of the latter 
has almost risen to the magnitude of a national peril. 
It is these small and seemingly insignificant birds that 
most successfully attack and hold in check these insidious 
foes of horticulture. The vegetable food consists of seeds 
of poison ivy, or poison oak, a few weed seeds, and a few 
small fruits, mostly elderberries." 



THE BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER 

Old World Warbler Family — Sylviidce 

Length: About 4I/2 inches. 

Male: Bluish-gray above; grayish white below; forehead black, 
black line over the eye; slender, curving bill; wings 
dark gray, edged with grayish-white; tail long, outer 
tail-feathers nearly all white; middle tail-feathers 
black; tail elevated and lowered frequently. 

Female: Similar to male, but without the black forehead; line 
over eye indistinct. 

Call-note: A nasal tang. 

Song: A delightful song, — sweet, but not strong. 

Habitat: Woodlands, where it usually frequents treetops. 

Itange: Southeastern United States. Breeds from eastern Ne- 
braska, southern Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario, 
southwestern Pennsylvania, Maryland, and southern 
New Jersey to southern Texas and central Florida; 
[246] 



THE BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER 

winters from northern Florida to the West Indies and 
central America; casual in Minnesota, New England, 
and New York. 

THIS dainty little sprite partakes of the qualities of 
a number of birds. Like the warblers, it is in- 
sectivorous and inhabits treetops; like its relative, the 
ruby-crowned kinglet, it has a finished and wonderful 
song; like the wrens it has a habit of cocking its tail nerv- 
ously; while its long black and white tail reminds one of 
the mockingbird. It is an especially pretty sight, flutter- 
ing about the moss-hung trees of Florida. 



[247] 



THE RED-EYED VIREO 
Vireo Family — Vireonidce 

Length : About 614 inches. 

Male and Female: Olive-green above, silvery white below; 
crown gray, bordered with a narrow black line; a 
broader white line over the eye, a dark streak through 
the eye; iris red or reddish-brown; wings and tail 
grayish-green, edged with olive. 

Habitat: In open woodlands and along well-shaded roads. 

Range: North and South America. Breeds from central 
Canada, northwestern, central, and eastern United 
States, to central Forida; winters in South America. 

Note: A nasal whdh, that sounds ill-natured and unpleasant. 

Song: A series of phrases — incessant, monotonous, — that con- 
tinue from morning until night, and during August, 
when most birds are quiet. Wilson Flagg called 
the Red-eye the "Preacher-bird" and wrote of him 
asi follows: 

"The Preacher is more generally known by his 
note, because he is incessant in his song, and par- 
ticularly vocal during the heat of our long summer 
days, when only a few birds are singing. His style 
of preaching is not declamation. Though constantly 
talking, he takes the part of a deliberative orator, 
who explains his subject in a few words and then 
makes a pause for his hearers to reflect upon it. 
We might suppose him to be repeating moderately, 
with a pause between each sentence, 'You see it — you 
know it — do you hear me? — do you believe it?' 
All these strains are delivered with a rising inflection 
at the close, and with a pause, as if waiting for an 
answer. 

[248] 




RED-EYED VIKEO 



THE RED-EYED VIREO 

"He is never fervent, rapid, or fluent, but like a 
true zealot, he is apt to be tiresome from the long 
continuance of his discourse. When nearly all other 
birds have become silent, the little preacher still 
continues his earnest harangue, and is sure of an 
audience at this late period, when he has few 
rivals." ^ 

Mr. Forbush discovered that this preacher "'prac- 
ticed as he preached," and tells us of his own obser- 
vations in the following words: 

"One sunny day in early boyhood I watched a 
vireo singing in a swampy thicket. He sang a few 
notes, his head turning meanwhile from side to side, 
his eyes scanning closely the nearby foliage. Sud- 
denly his song ceased; he leaned forward, — sprang 
to another twig, snatched a green caterpillar from the 
under side of a leaf, swallowed it, and resumed his 
song. Every important pause in his dissertation 
signalized the capture of a larva. As the discourse 
was punctuated, a worm was punctured. It seems as 
if the preaching were a serious business with the 
bird; but this seeming is deceptive, for the song 
merely masks the constant vigilance and the sleep- 
less eye of this premium caterpillar-hunter. In the 
discovery of this kind of game the bird has few 
superiors." ^ 

THIS vireo builds a very attractive nest of strips of 
bark and fiber, a soft basket hung at the fork of a 
branch. I recall one nest suspended only a few feet from 
the ground in a low tree on Cape Cod. We came upon 
the nest so suddenly that the little brooding mother looked 

1 From Wilson Flagg's "Birds of New England," used with permission 

of The Page Co., Boston. t^ ti r u u 

2 From "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush, p. 

205. 

[249] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

at us with frightened eyes, but she remained at her post, 
and soon learned that we meant no harm. Many times 
a day we went by her precious cradle. At night we 
passed quietly, so as not to waken the faithful little 
mother-bird with her head tucked under her wing. Ouf 
flashlight never once disturbed her. Mr. Forbush says, 
"This vireo sleeps very soundly, and is sometimes so ob- 
livious to the world that she may be approached and taken 
in the hand." ^ 

Burroughs wrote: "Who does not feel a thrill of 
pleasure when, in sauntering through the woods, his hat 
just brushes a vireo's nest?. . . The nest was like a 
natural growth, hanging there like a fairy basket in the 
fork of a beech twig, woven of dry, delicate, papery, 
brown and gray wood products, — a part of the shadows 
and the green and brown solitude. The weaver had bent 
down one of the green leaves and made it a part of the 
nest; it was like the stroke of a great artist. Then the 
dabs of white here and there, given by the fragments of 
spider's cocoons — all helped to blend it with the flicker- 
ing light and shade.' 



" 4 



THE WARBLING VIREO 

Vireo Family — Vireonidce 

Length: About 5% inches. 

Male and Female: Grayish-olive above; indistinct whitish 

line over eye; under parts grayish-white with a faint 

yellowish tinge; no bars on wings; iris dark brown, 

not reddish. 
Note: A nasal yah, not unlike the call-note of the red-eyed 

vireo. 

3 From "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush, p. 
205. 
*From "Under the Maples," by John Burroughs, p. 99. 

[250] 



THE VIREOS 

Song: A sweet continuous warble, with a rising inflection at 
the end. It sounds like a whistled Whew-whew-whew 
whew -whew -whew -whee? 

Habitat: Parks and shaded village streets. Its neutral col- 
oring and its preference for treetops make it difficult 
to distinguish. Its cheerful, pleasant song is the 
surest means of identification. 

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from south-central 
Canada to northwestern Texas, southern Louisiana, 
North Carolina, and Virginia; winters south of the 
United States, though exact locality is unknown. 
Not nearly so widely distributed as the red-eyed vireo. 

THIS vireo, like other members of its family, is an 
indefatigable devourer of insects. Mr. Forbush 
reports that it feeds on flies, mosquitoes, and grasshoppers, 
Lut that its chief food consists of caterpillars and other 
leaf -eating insects, especially the elm-leaf beetle; conse- 
quently it is found frequently in elm-shaded streets and 
yards. 



THE WHITE-EYED VIREO 

Vireo Family — Vireonidce 

THE White-Eyed Vireo differs from his red-eyed 
cousin in being slightly smaller, in having a small 
patch of yellow around the eye, a white iris, and two 
wing-bars. His head is greener and his breast and sides 
are tinged with yellow. 

He lives in thickets. He possesses in a marked degree 
the vireo habit of scolding. He has more power as a 
songster than his better-known relatives. Mr. Chapman 

[251] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

describes him most delightfully as follows: "If birds 
are ever impertinent, I believe this term might with truth 
be applied to that most original, independent dweller in 
thickety under-growths, the white-eyed vireo. Both his 
voice and manner say that he doesn't in the least care 
what you think of him; and, if attracted by his peculiar 
notes or actions, you pause near his haunts, he jerks out 
an abrupt 'Who are you, eh?' in a way which plainly in- 
dicates that your presence can be dispensed with. If this 
hint is insufficient, he follows it by a harsh scolding, and 
one can fancy that in his singular white eye there is an 
unmistakable gleam of disapproval. 

"I have always regretted that the manners of this Vireo 
have been a bar to our better acquaintance, for he is a 
bird of marked character and with unusual vocal talents. 
He is a capital mimic, and in the retirement of his home 
sometimes amuses himself by combining the songs of 
other birds in an intricate pot-pourri." ^ 



THE YELLOW-THROATED VIREO 

Vireo Family — Vireonidce 

THE Yellow-throated Vireo resembles the White-eye 
in being olive-green above, yellowish underneath, 
and in having two distinct white wing-bars. He differs in 
possessing a bright yellow throat, breast, and ring about 
a dark eye. 

Mr. Forbush says of this bird; 'The song is a little 
louder than that of most vireos, and may be easily dis- 

s From "Birds of Eastern North America," by Frank M. Chapman. 

[252] 



THE YELLOW-THROATED VIREO 

tinguished from all others. It usually consists of two or 
three rich and virile notes, uttered interrogatively or ten- 
tatively, followed immediately by a few similar tones ut- 
tered decisively. The bird appears to ask a question, 
and then answer it. Its alarm notes are as harsh as those 
of an oriole, and somewhat similar in quality.' 



")■> 6 



From "Useful Birds and Their Protection"— E. H. Forbush, p. 208. 



[253] 



THE WARBLERS 
Warbler Family — Mniotiltidce 

NO family of birds is more difficult for a begimier 
to identify than the warblers. Reasons for this 
fact are various. In the first place, warblers are small 
and agile, and usually inhabit treetops, where it is hard 
to see their plumage. The number of the species is large, 
— 155 species are known, 74 of which are found in North 
America, and 55 in the United States alone. Some of 
the males wear a "Joseph's coat of many colors"; some 
of the females are so different from their mates as to 
puzzle an observer, and the young birds frequently differ 
from both parents. Then, too, most warblers are not 
gifted songsters, but utter only a weak trill. A number 
of them are seen only during their migration to northern 
woods; they linger too short a time to become more than 
passing bird-acquaintances. 

Warblers are insectivorous and do not arrive until the 
earth teems with insect life. Most of them depart for 
the South as soon as insects begin to decrease in number 
or disappear. They are very shy and migrate at night. 

Many are the disasters that befall them when they 
journey near the sea-coast. In Dr. Wells W. Cooke's ar- 
ticle entitled "Our Greatest Travelers" are the following 
statements: "It is not to be supposed that these long 
flights over the waters can occur without many casualties, 
and not the smallest of the perils arises from the beacons 

[254] 



THE WARBLERS 

which man has erected along the coast to insure his own 
safety. 'Last night I could have filled a mail-sack with 
the bodies of little warblers which killed themselves strik- 
ing against my light,' wrote the keeper of Fowey Rocks 
lighthouse, in southern Florida. 

"Nor was this an unusual tragedy. Every spring the 
lights along the coast lure to destruction myriads of birds 
who are en route from their winter homes in the South 
to their summer nesting-places in the North. Every fall 
a still greater death-toll is exacted when the return journey 
is made. A red light or a rapidly flashing one repels the 
birds, but a steady white light piercing the fog proves ir- 
resistible." ^ 

Few people realize the great good done by warblers. 
Mr. Forbush says that in migration they seem to possess 
enormous appetites. A Hooded Warbler was found to 
catch on the average two insects a minute or one hundred 
and twenty an hour. At this rate the bird would kill at 
least nine hundred and sixty insects a day, in an eight 
hour working day! 

Dr. Judd reported a Palm Warbler that ate from forty 
to sixty insects a minute. In the four hours he was under 
observation he must have eaten nine thousand, five hun- 
dred insects. Mr. Forbush says that he has seen warblers 
eating from masses of small insects at such a rate that it 
was impossible for him to count them.^ 

iProm "Our Greatest Travelers," by Wells W. Cooke, of the Biological 
Survey. 

- From "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush, pages 
185 and 186. 



[255] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 



IDENTIFICATION OF WARBLERS 

In order to identify warblers, most people need to 
group them in some way. The following grouping of my 
own has helped me to recognize and remember the more 
common species: 

I The Ground Warblers 

1 The Ovenbird 

2 The Water Thrushes 

3 The Worm-eating Warbler 

4 The Palm Warblers. 

II Black and White Warblers 

1 The Black and White Creeping Warbler 

2 The Black-poll Warbler 

III Black, White, and Yellow Warblers 

1 The Myrtle or Yellow-rumped Warbler 

2 The Magnolia Warbler 

IV Black and Orange Warblers 

1 The Redstart 

2 The Blackburnian Warbler 

V Warblers With Yellow or Olive-green 

Predominating 

1 The Yellow Warbler 

2 The Pine Warbler 

3 The Maryland Yellow-throat 

4 The Hooded Warbler 

5 Wilson's Warbler 

6 The Black-throated Green Warbler 

7 The Canadian Warbler 

8 The Yellow-breasted Chat 

9 The Yellow Palm Warbler 

VI Warblers With Blue or Blue and Yellow 

Predominating 
1 The Cerulean Warbler 
[256] 



THE WARBLERS 

2 The Black-lhroated Blue Warbler 

3 The Blue-winged Warbler 

4 The Golden-winged Warbler 

5 The Parula Warbler 

VII Warblers With Reddish-brown Markings 

1 The Bay-breasted Warbler 

2 The Chestnut-sided Warbler 



GROUP ONE— THE GROUND WARBLERS 

1. THE OVEN-BIRD 

Length: A little over 6 inches. 

Male and Female: Olive-brown above; head with a golden- 
brown crown, bordered with two black lines that ex- 
tend from bill to neck; under parts white; a brown 
streak at each side of the throat; breast and sides 
heavily streaked with black; no bars on wings, or 
patches on tail. 

Note: Mr. Forbush interprets the oven-bird's note as "chick/ 
KERCHICK,' KERCHICK,' repeating the phrase an 
indefinite number of times." ^ John Burroughs has 
rendered it as, "teacher, teacher, teacher, TEACHER, 
TEACHER." The bird is frequently spoken of as 
the "Teacher-bird." 

Song: A "flight song" which Mr. Forbush describes as fol- 
lows: "When I lingered in the woods at evening 
until the stars came out, I heard a burst of melody 
far above the treetops, and saw the little singer 
rising against the western sky, simulating the Sky- 
lark, and pouring forth its melody, not to the orb of 
day but to the slowly rising moon; then, when the 
melody came nearer, the exhausted singer fell from 
out the sky and shot swiftly downward, alighting at 
my very feet." ^ 

1 & 2 From "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush. 

[257] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

Habitat: Woodlands, where the oven-bird spends much of its 
time on the ground. 

Range: North America. Breeds in the forests of Canada and 
the United States to Kansas, southern Missouri, Ohio 
Valley, Virginia, and in the mountains of Georgia 
and South Carolina; winters from central Florida 
to Colombia. 

THIS shy forest-dweller is little seen except by the 
tireless haunter of woods. I well remember my 
first quest for the owner of a voice that seemed to proceed 
fijom every part of the small grove I was searching. His 
ventriloquistic power led me on until I was about to give 
up in weariness and discouragement, when suddenly I 
came upon this golden-crowned warbler that had made 
the woods ring. He seemed very small for so loud a 
vocalization. 

Another day, quite by accident, I discovered his oven- 
shaped nest: 

"Arched and framed with last year's oak-leaves, 
Roofed and walled against the raindrops." ^ 
Since that time I have had numerous views of oven- 
birds. One in particular, seemed quite unafraid; and 
several times approached within a few feet of where I 
was seated. 



2. THE WATER-THRUSHES 

Water-Thrushes: The Water-thrushes resemble the oven- 
bird in size and general appearance. Their crowns 
are dark instead of golden ; the northern water- 
thrush has a light line over the eye, and a bright 

2 From "The Oven-Bird," by Frank BoUes. 

[258] 




OVEN-BIRD 



THE WARBLERS 

yellow streaked breast; the Louisiana water-thrush 
a conspicuous white line over the eye, buff sides, and 
white under parts. 

Both birds, as their name implies, love the vi- 
cinity of forest brooks. Both walk instead of hop, 
and ^'tip-up" when they alight. They are wonderful 
songsters, but are not widely known. 
Range: Eastern North America. The Northern Water-thrush 
breeds in east-central Canada, northwestern New 
York, northern New England, and in mountains 
south to West Virginia; winters in the West Indies 
and from the valley of Mexico to British Guiana. 

The Louisiana Water-thrush is found from the 
northern parts of the United States south to Texas, 
Georgia, and South Carolina; winters from Mexico 
to Colombia. 



3. THE WORM-EATING WARBLER 

Length: About 5^2 inches. 

Male and Female: Back, wings, and tail olive-green, without 
white markings; head with two narrow and two 
broad black stripes, alternating with three cream- 
colored stripes; under parts cream-colored, lighter 
on throat and belly. 

Song: A weak trill. 

Habitat: "The Worm-eating warbler seems to prefer dense 
undergrowth in swampy thickets and wet places, 
. . . wooded hillsides and ravines, and dense un- 
dergrowths of woodland. . . . The nesting site is 
on the ground." ^ 
* Range: Eastern North America from southern Iowa, northern 
Illinois, western Pennsylvania, and the lower Hudson 
and Connecticut valleys, south to Missouri, Tennes- 
see, Virginia, and the mountains of South Carolina. 

iFrom Eaton's "Birds of New York," page 383. 

[259] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

GROUP TWO— THE BLACK AND WHITE 
WARBLERS 

1. THE BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER 

4 

Length: About 514 inches. 

Male: Black, streaked with white — no yellow; head with broad 

black and white stripes; body with narrow stripes; 

white stripe over eye, black patch back of eye; striped 

throat and sides, white belly; tail grayish black; 

outer tail-feathers with white patches on inner web; 

wings black, with two distinct white bars. 
Female: Similar, but with gray cheeks and whiter under parts, 

fainter streaks, and broAvnish sides. 
Song: A thin, unmusical 5e-5e'-se-se'-5e-se'-5e-se'. 

THIS Black-and-White Warbler is as easy to identify 
as a zebra, because of its conspicuous black and 
white stripes. As it is found on tree-trunks, it is some- 
times confused with the brown creeper. Its bill, however, 
is not curved like the creeper's, nor is its tail used as a 
prop. It resembles the nuthatch in its ability to descend 
as well as ascend tree-trunks. 

These warblers, though they obtain their food from 
trees, nest on the ground in nests not unlike those of the 
oven-bird. 

2. THE BLACK-POLL WARBLER 

Length: About 5 inches. 

Male: A black crown and white cheeks, giving the effect of a 
black cap pulled down over the eyes; throat and 
belly white; back and sides gray, streaked with 
black; two white wing-bars; two outer tail-feathers 
with white spot near tip. 
[260] 



THE WARBLERS 

Female: Olive-green above, streaked with black; breast and 
sides with yellowish wash. 

Rang^e: Widely distributed; common in the East during mi- 
gration. Breeds in the forests of Alaska and north- 
central Canada, in Michigan, northern Maine, and 
the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont. 

BLACK-POLL WARBLERS are similar in coloring 
to the black-and-white warblers, but are duller and 
less striking in appearance. In the breeding season, 
father, mother, and young differ in plumage, though a 
practiced eye may see resemblances, but in the fall they 
don coats so similar that they seem to have adopted a 
family costume. 

The migration of black-poll warblers is interesting. 
Dr. Wells W. Cooke says: "All black-poll warblers win- 
ter in South America. Those that are to nest in Alaska 
strike straight across the Caribbean Sea to Florida and go 
northwestward to the Mississippi River. Then the direc- 
tion changes and a course is laid almost due north to north- 
em Minnesota, in order to avoid the treeless plains of North 
Dakota. But when the forests of the Saskatchewan are 
reached, the northwestern course is resumed, and, with a 
slight verging toward the west, is held until the nesting 
site in Alaska spruces is attained." ^ 

1 "Our Greatest Travelers," by Wells W, Cooke, of the Biological Sur- 
vey. 



[261] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 



GROUP THREE— THE BLACK, WHITE, AND 
YELLOW WARBLERS 

1. THE MYRTLE WARBLER 

OR 
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER 

Length: A little over 51/2 inches, one of the larger warblers. 

Male: The grayish upper parts, white under parts, (both 
streaked with black), and the black cheeks of the 
Myrtle Warbler remind one of the Black and White 
Creeping Warbler. Its four patches of yellow, — on 
the crown, rump, and on each side are distinctive. 
The wings and tail are brownish-gray; wings, with 
two white bars; tail with graduated patches of white 
near end of outside feathers; white throat and belly. 

Female: Browner above; breast less heavily streaked with 
black. 

Notes: The notes and song of this warbler are described by 
Mr. Forbush as follows: "The Myrtle Warbler has 
a variety of notes, but the one usually uttered spring 
and fall is a soft chirp or chup, which, at a little dis- 
tance, exactly resembles the sound produced by a 
large drop of water as it strikes the ground or leaf- 
mold. These sounds are so similar that after 
storms in the woods I have often found it diflicult to 
distinguish the note of this warbler from the splash 
of the large drops that were still falling from the 
trees. The song is a rather weak warble, very 
sweet, and often of long duration. ... It has quite 
as many variations as the song of any warbler that I 
now recall." ^ 

Range: Breeds in the forest-belt of Canada and Alaska, south 
to Minnesota, Michigan, New Hampshire, Maine, 

1 "Useful Birds and Their Protection," E. H. Forbush, page 202. 

[262] 



THE WARBLERS 

Vermont, Massachusetts, and the mountains of New 
York, winters from Kansas, New Jersey, southern 
New England to West Indies, Mexico, and Panama, 
and from central Oregon to southern California. 

THE Myrtle or Yellow-rumped Warbler is found in 
North America except in the western United States. 
It is so abundant and so distinctly marked as to be better 
known than many warblers. "Trim of form and grace- 
ful of motion, when seeking its food it combines the 
methods of the wrens, creepers, and flycatchers. This bird 
is so small and nimble that it successfully attacks insects 
too minute to be prey for larger birds. Flies are the 
largest item of food; in fact only a few flycatchers and 
swallows eat as many flies as this bird." " 

The Myrtle Warbler is especially fond of bayberries 
and may be found, even in winter, where these berries 
are to be obtained. New Jersey and Cape Cod are favor- 
ite feeding places. 

2. THE MAGNOLIA WARBLER 

Length: About 5 inches. 

Male: Smaller than the Myrtle Warbler, and at first glance, 
not unlike it in appearance, because each bird has a 
yellow rump, a striped breast, dark gray upper parts, 
and back and breast streaked with black. The head 
of the Magnolia Warbler, however, has no yellow 
patch, but a broad white line over the eye, black 
cheeks and forehead, and yellow under parts, (instead 
of white), which are heavily streaked with black. 
The wings have large white patches instead of bars; 
the tail is black, with a broad white band extending 
across the middle, — a distinguishing mark. 

2 Farmers' Bulletin, Biological Survey, Henry W. Henshaw. 

[263] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

Female: Similar to male, but duller. 

Song: "It is one of our full-voiced warblers, the song resem- 
bling the syllables wee-to, wee-to, wee-a-tee or witchi, 
witchi, witchi, tit, witchi-tit, witchi-tit, witchi-tit, 
the first four words deliberate and even, the last three 
hurried and higher pitched. . . . The song is louder 
than the yellow warbler's." ^ 

Habitat: "Throughout the migration season, the Magnolia 
warbler is common throughout our orchards and 
shade trees, as well as woodlands. ... In its nest- 
ing grounds, this warbler prefers coniferous growth, 
especially young spruces." ' 

Hange: Breeds from southern Mackenzie, Keewatin, northern 
Quebec, and Newfoundland to central Alberta, Sas- 
katchewan, Minnesota, northern Michigan, and north- 
ern Massachusetts; in the mountains of West Vir- 
ginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York; winters 
from southern Mexico to Panama. 

MR. C. F. STONE in "Birds of New York" says: 
"Every hemlock-clad gully or hemlock woods 
where the trees are close and limbs intertwined afford 
suitable haunts for this lively and emphatic singer. . . . 
Among the smaller gullies 1 or 2 pairs may be found, and 
in the larger gullies it is not unusual to locate 12 or 15 
pairs during the nesting period. In some of these situa- 
tions the Magnolia does not seem to occur, perhaps be- 
cause it is so persecuted by red squirrels and cowbirds. 
The latter seems to make a specialty of presenting 
this warbler with one or more of its eggs, generally 
puncturing the eggs of the Magnolia before leaving the 
nest." ' 

1, 2, & 3 From Eaton's "Birds of New York," pages 408, 409, 410. 

[264] 



THE WARBLERS 

GROUP FOUR— THE BLACK AND ORANGE 

WARBLERS 

1. THE REDSTART 

Length: About S^/o inches. 

Male: Body glossy black, with a white belly, orange patches 
at the sides of the body and under the wings; an or- 
ange band across the wings; middle tail-feathers 
black; other tail-feathers broadly tipped with black 
but largely orange, conspicuous in flight; bill with 
bristles. 

Female: Gray and olive-green above, white underneath; yellow 
instead of orange on sides, wings, tail, and under tail. 

Young Male: Like female till end of first breeding season. 

Nest: A beautiful structure made of strips of bark, root-fibers, 
and plant-down, and placed in the fork of a tree. 
If built in a birch sapling and decorated with bits of 
birch bark, it seems a part of the tree. 

Song": A cheerful trill, rather weak and unmusical. 

Range: North America. Breeds from Oklahoma, Arkansas, 
and North Carolina northward; winters in the West 
Indies, central Mexico, and northern South America. 

THE Redstart is one of the most beautiful and con- 
spicuous of the warblers. Its fan-shaped, flame- 
colored tail tipped with black is its most distinctive mark. 
It is in almost constant motion, fluttering incessantly in 
pursuit of its insect prey. Mr. Forbush writes, "In all 
its movements its wings are held in readiness for instant 
flight, and in its sinuous twistings and turnings, risings 
and fallings, its colors expand, contract, and glow amid 
the sylvan shades like a dancing torch." ^ 

1 "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush, pages 196 and 
198. 

[265] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

Like flycatchers, the redstart has bristles at the base of 
its bill, which makes the capture of a great variety of in- 
sects an easy matter. It has been named the "flycatcher 
of the inner treetops, but it is a flycatcher of the bushtops 
as well." 2 



2. THE BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER 

Length: A little over 5 inches. 

Male: Black crown, with bright orange patch in the center; ir- 
regular black patch extending from eye, bordered 
with orange; throat and breast orange, becoming 
yellowish on belly; back black, streaked with white; 
sides streaked with black; wings black, with white 
edges and a large white patch; tail black, most of the 
feathers nearly all white on inner web. Colors 
duller in the fall. 

Female: Upper parts grayish-olive, streaked with white; 
orange parts paler, less white on wings and tail. 

Song: A "thin" warbler-like trill. 

Habitat: Treetops of coniferous forests preferably. 

Range: Breeds from central Canada to northern United States, 
and in the Alleghany Mts. from Pennsylvania to 
Georgia; winters in Colombia and Peru. 

THIS brilliant warbler flashes flame as do the oriole 
and the redstart, and like them, always brings a 
thrill of pleasure. It remains with us so short a time 
that its appearance is an event. 

Mr. Forbush tells of going out at daybreak May 11, 
1900, at Amesbury, Mass., to observe the migrant 
warblers. He says: "As we walked through the streets 

2 "Useful Birds and Their Protection," by E. H. Forbush, pages 1% and 
198. 

[266] 



THE WARBLERS 

of the village, many male Blackburnian Warblers were 
seen among tlie street trees. A little later we saw them 
in the orchards, their brilliant orange breasts flashing in 
the sunlight. As we approached the woods it was every- 
where the same. The night had been very cold, and other 
insect-eating birds were seeking benumbed insects on or 
near the ground. There were four bright Redstarts flit- 
ting about on the upturned sod of a newly plowed garden. 
These and other species of Warblers were to be seen in 
every orchard, wood, and thicket. The Blackburnian 
Warblers had come in during the night, and were busy 
hunting for their breakfasts until 7 o'clock, when we went 
to ours. At 8 o'clock not a single Blackburnian was to 
be seen. I scoured the country till nearly noon, finding 
all the other Warblers as at daybreak, but not a Black- 
burnian could be found. They had done their share of 
the good work and passed on. A later riser would have 
missed them." ^ 

Eaton says: "The Blackburnian warbler during the 
migration season associates with the Magnolia, Bay- 
breasted, and Chestnut-sided warblers among the blossom- 
ing fruit trees and the leaving shrubbery and shade trees 
of our lawns and parks. During the nesting season, how- 
ever, it is almost entirely confined to mixed and evergreen 
forests, being especially fond of hemlocks and spruces. 
. . . The old name of Hemlock warbler is perfectly ap- 
propriate. The Blackburnian flutters about while feed- 
ing almost as conspicuously as the Redstart and Magnolia, 
displaying its brilliant colors and pied pattern very eff^ec- 
tively." "• 

1 From "Useful Birds and Their Protection"— E. H. Forbush, ppge 102. 

2 From "Birds of New York," page 421. 

[267] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

GROUP FIVE— THE YELLOW AND OLIVE- 
GREEN WARBLERS 

1. THE YELLOW WARBLER, OR SUMMER 
YELLOW-BIRD 

Length: About 5 inches. 

Male: Olive-green above, bright yellow below; breast streaked 

ivith brown; wings edged with yellow; tail dark 

brown, with yellow on inner web; no black on head, 

throat, wings, or tail; bill slender. 
Female: Similar; with fainter streaks on breast, or an un- 

streaked breast. 
Song: A sweet chee-chee-chee-chee-chee'-a-wee? 
Habitat: Orchards, gardens, and shade trees, rather than 

woods. 
Nest: A beautiful cup lined with felt. This bird's nest has 

been recorded as a favorite depository for cowbirds' 

eggs. 
Bange: North America. Breeds from northern Canadian 

and Alaskan tree-regions to southern Missouri and 

northern South Carolina; winters from Yucatan to 

Brazil and Peru. 

THE Yellow Warbler is one of the best known of its 
tribe. It is an attractive, lovable little bird, a use- 
ful destroyer of small insects that feed upon the leaves 
of trees, and a charming addition to any orchard or gar- 
den, as it flits among the trees like a ray of sunshine. 

It is frequently confused with the goldfinch; but careful 
observation of markings, of flight, and of song will show 
decided differences. The goldfinch has a black crown, 
wings, and tail, an unstreaked breast, undulating flight, 
and a sustained song. This little olive and yellow bird 

[268] 







YELLOW WARBLER 



THE WAPxBLERS 

has no black in its plumage; it makes short flights, and 
sings a simple strain. It is not a seed-eater, like the 
finches, but is insectivorous. 



2. THE PINE WARBLER 

Length: About Sy^ inches. 

Male: Upper parts olive-green with a grayish tinge; throat and 
breast yellow; sides streaked with gray; belly white; 
wings and tail brownish-gray; wings with two whit- 
ish bars; outer tail-feathers tipped with white on 
inner web. 

Female: Similar to male, but browner above and duller under- 
neath. 

Notes : "Its alarm note is a sharp chirp, its other notes are few 
and weak." 

Song: "The song is one of the most soothing sounds of the 
pine -woods. It has in it the same dreamy drowsiness 
that characterizes the note of the Black-throated 
Green Warbler, but is otherwise entirely different in 
tone and quality, being composed of a series of 
short, soft, whistling notes, run together in a con- 
tinuous trill. It resembles, in a way, the song of the 
Chipping Sparrow, except that it is softer and more 
musical." ^ 

Habitat: "Pine woods and groves; it seems to prefer the pitch 
pines, and is one of the few birds that habitually live 
and breed in woods of this character, like those of 
Cape Cod. It has been called the Pine-creeping 
Warbler, from its habit of creeping along the 
branches, and occasionally up and around the trunks 
pmes. ^ 

Range: Eastern North America. It is abundant in the South 
where pine forests are common. It is found in 

1 & 2 From "Useful Birds and Their Protection," E. H. Forbush. 

[269] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

southern Canada, northern and eastern United States, 
in such pine-regions as Michigan and New Jersey. 

3. THE MARYLAND YELLOW-THROAT 

Length: About 514 inches. 

Male: Olive-green above, brightest on rump and tail; yellow 
underneath, with gray sides; a broad band of black 
bordered at the back with gray extends across the 
face in the form of a mask. The young males lack 
the conspicuous mask. 

Female: Similar to male, but without a mask. 

Note: A sharp call-note chick, frequently repeated. 

Song: Witch'-e-tee'-o, witch' -e-tee'-o. Writers interpret the 
song in various ways. Mr. Forbush's sich'-a-wiggle, 
sich'-a-wiggle, sich'-a-wiggle, is an excellent render- 
ing. The song varies with individuals, but is phrased 
and accented similarly. 

Habitat: Roadside thickets, especially near water. 

Range: Eastern North America. It breeds from North Da- 
kota eastward to southeastern Canada, and south to 
central Texas, the northern part of the Gulf States 
and Virginia; winters from North Carolina and 
Louisiana to Florida, the Bahamas, Cuba, Guatemala, 
and Costa Rica. 

THE Maryland Yellow-throat is a delightful sum- 
mer visitor. Trim, dainty, exquisitely colored, 
lithe, and full of song, he is a charming part of the thickets 
of roadsides and streams. 

The Maryland Yellow-Throat 

A host of warblers northward come in May, 
And linger with us only one brief day; 
You, yellow-throated songster, love to stay. 

[270] 




MARYLAND YELLOW-THROAT 



THE WARBLERS 

We glimpse your dainty coat of olive-green, 
Your breast and throat of shimmering yellow sheen 
And mask of black, where ferns and bushes lean 

O'er sparkling streamlets, rimmed with many a reed, 
And hung with brilliant golden jewel-weed. 
Midst feathery spikes of meadow-sweet you speed. 

Your brooding mate you watch, as to and fro 
You flit; and while the summer breezes blow 
You sing your Witch-i-tee'-o, witch-i-tee'-o. 

4. THE HOODED WARBLER 

Length: About 5Vi> inches. 

Male: Forehead, cheeks, breast, and belly yellow; back of 
crown and throat black, the two dark areas united 
by a black line; mask yellow; back and rump olive; 
wings and tail a dark grayish-olive; the outer tail- 
feathers largely white on their inner webs. 

Female: Similar to male, but without the black hood; dark 
edge to crown; breast faintly washed with black. 

Song: E. H. Eaton in his ''Birds of New York'' writes: "The 
song of this warbler is one of the few which the au- 
thor can hear with perfect distinctness and enjoy." 
He adds that it is described by Langille as follows: 
che-reek, che-reck, che-reek, chi-de-ee, the first three 
with a loud, bell-like ring, the rest much accelerated 
with a falling inflection." 

Habitat: Trees of deep woods. 

Range: Eastern United States, west to the Plains, north and 
east to southern Michigan and Ontario, western and 
southeastern New York, and southern New England: 
in winter. West Indies, eastern Mexico, Central 
America, and Pan-ama. 

[271] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

THIS warbler looks as though it had nearly divided 
a large hood, — had slipped one half of it back 
on its head like a calash, and allowed the other half to 
remain under its chin. It is easy to identify by its ap- 
pearance and its song, and its habit of living in the lower 
parts of trees. 

Eaton says: "The nest of the Hooded Warbler is usu- 
ally placed in a low sapling or bush from 1 to 3 feet from 
the ground. In my experience it is the easiest of all the 
warbler nests to find. Wherever I have noticed a Hooded 
warbler singing in a patch of woodland, I have been very 
successful in locating the nest by placing my eye close 
to the ground and looking through the shrubbery from be- 
low the cover of the undergrowth. Then the nest will 
almost surely be seen if one is within a few rods, appear- 
ing like a bunch of leaves a short distance above the 
ground." 

5. WILSON'S WARBLER 

Length: About 5 inches. 

Male: Olive-green above, except for a black crown, outlined 
with yellow in front and at the sides of crown; under 
parts yellow, except for a grayish tinge at the sides; 
wings and tail without ivhite bars and patches. 

Female: Similar to male, but without a clearly defined black 
cap. 

Song: A loud, sweet trill, containing variations. 

Habitat: Low thickets, usually at the edges of woods, rather 
than in treetops. 

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds in the tree-regions of 
northern Canada south to southern Saskatchewan, 
northern Minnesota, central Ontario, New Hamp- 
shire, Maine, and Nova Scotia; winters in eastern 
[272] 



THE WARBLERS 

Central America; migrates through the Alleghanies; 
practically unknown from Virginia to Louisiana. 

THIS attractive little warbler with its black cap might 
easily be confused with the goldfinch by a begin- 
ner in bird-study. The olive-green back, wings, and tail 
differentiate it. Unlike the goldfinch, it is not a resident, 
but a traveler to northern forests where it breeds. It 
journeys enormous distances. 

"It appears very irregularly, some years in great abun- 
dance and some seasons not at all." ^ 



6. THE BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER 

Length: About 5 inches. 

Male : Olive-green above ; dull black patch below eye, encircled 
with a broad rim of yellow; throat and breast black, 
becoming yellowish-white on the belly; sides streaked 
with black; wings with two whitish bars; tail with 
outer feathers largely white. 

Female: Similar to male; black of throat and breast mottled 
with yellow, streaks on sides less conspicuous. 

Song": An insect-like trill, zee-zee? ze-ze-zee? 

Habitat: Coniferous woods preferably. 

Range: North America, from central Canada to northern Ohio 
and Long Island and in the Alleghany Mts., to 
Georgia and South Carolina; winters from Mexico to 
Panama. 

FOR three summers I heard the persistent buzzing of 
this little Black-throat in the Maine woods before I 
was able to catch more than a fleeting glimpse of him. 
He is very shy and elusive. An opportunity to see this 

1 "Birds of New York"— Eaton. 

[273] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

beautiful little jeweled bird at close range is an event to 
bird-lovers. He is an industrious gleaner of small in- 
sects from dark pine and spruce forests. 



7. THE CANADIAN WARBLER 

Length: About 5i/^ inches. 

Male: Gray above without white wing-bars or spots on tail; 
crown with fine black spots; eye-ring, and line from 
bill to eye-ring bright yellow; under parts bright 
yellow; short black streaks extending across the en- 
tire breast; white under tail. 

Female: Similar to male, with fainter streaks on breast. 

Song: A rapid and clear warble, more easily recognized than 
that of some warblers. 

Habitat: "The Canadian Warbler during the migration season 
is found about our door-yard shrubbery, and the 
thickets on the edges of streams and woodland. . . . 
In the nesting season we must seek for it in cooler 
gullies or in damp, cool woodlands of deciduous or 
mixed growth." ^ 

Bange: Eastern North America. Breeds from south-central 
Canada to central Minnesota, Michigan, New York, 
and Massachusetts, and along the Alleghanies to 
North Carolina and Tennessee; winters in Ecuador 
and Peru. 



8. THE YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT 

Length: About 71^ inches; the largest of the warblers. 

Male and Female: Olive-green above; bright yellow throat 
and breast; belly white; broad white streak extend- 
ing from bill above eye; white crescent beneath eye; 

iFrom Eaton's "Birds of New York." 

[274] 



THE WARBLERS 

white streak at each side of throat, separating the 
olive-green and yellow areas. 

Song: A medley impossible to describe, full of chucks and gur- 
gles — a strange mixture of sounds. As a singer, the 
chat is in a class by himself; he is very different 
from the other warblers. 

Habitat: Thickets and bushy pastures. 

Range: Eastern United States; winters from Vera Crux to 
Panama. 

THE following statements regarding the Chat are 
taken from Eaton's "Birds of New York": 

"The Chat is not a bird of the dense woodland or of 
open situations, but is confined to thick coverts of shrubs, 
vines, and young saplings, preferring a denser covert than 
even the Chestnut-sided warbler and the Catbird. It is 
rarely seen far from such situations. . . . 

Though the Chat is so averse to being seen, he will some- 
times be found even within the limits of our villages and 
cities where suitable thickets of considerable extent are 
found and his loud song is frequently heard from village 
streets and sidewalks." 



9. THE YELLOW PALM WARBLER 

Length: About Sy^ inches. 

Male and Female: Crown chestnut; line over the eye and ring 
around the eye yellow; upper parts olive-green, 
browner on the back; under parts bright yellow, with 
streaks of brown on throat, breast, and sides; wings 
sometimes edged with brown; tail edged with olive- 
green; outer tail-feathers with white spots on inner 
webs near tips. 

Song: Two songs, one "thinner" and more rapid than the other, 

[275] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

Habitat: Fields and roadsides; feeds chiefly on the ground 
and among low bushes. 

Range: Atlantic Slope of North America. Breeds in south- 
eastern Canada and Maine; winters from Louisiana 
to northern Florida; casually to North Carolina and 
Pennsylvania. The palm warbler is the western 
species, an inhabitant of the Mississippi Valley and 
the region eastward. It is very common in Florida, 
where it may be discovered in company with yellow 
Palm Warblers. 

THIS lively little warbler, with its nervous habit of 
tipping up its tail incessantly like a spotted sand- 
piper, resembles its near relative the yellow warbler in a 
few respects. The olive-green upper parts and yellow 
breast streaked with brown are points of resemblances, 
but the chestnut crown and yellow line over the eye are 
differences. Neither yellow warblers nor yellow palm 
warblers are dwellers in the woods, but prefer to live near 
the haunts of man. Yellow warblers are seen in trees 
and bushes, while the palm warblers are found by road- 
sides, often on the ground in the stubble of pastures, out in 
the open. While subdued in color and therefore incon- 
spicuous, they are readily identified ;by the habit of mov- 
ing their tails. 



GROUP SIX— BLUE OR BLUE AND YELLOW 

WARBLERS 

1. THE CERULEAN WARBLER 

Length: About 4V2 inches; one of the smaller warblers. 
Male: Upper parts bright blue; head and back streaked with 
black; light streak above eye; white throat, breast, 

[276] 



THE WARBLERS 

and belly, with a bluish-black line that extends across 
the breast and down each side; wings with two broad 
white bars; inner webs of all except the middle tail- 
feathers with small white patches near tips. 

Female: Bluish-olive above, under parts pale yellow; light 
streak over eye; wings with white bars; tail-feathers 
with white tips. 

Song: Mr. Stone describes the song of the Cerulean warbler 
as "an almost continuous 'zwee-zwee, zwee, wee-ee' 
during the nesting season." ^ 

Habitat: "They are numerous in the maple woods on the hill- 
sides overlooking the swamp, as well as in the swamp 
itself," writes Mr. Stone.^ 

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds mainly from south- 
eastern Nebraska, Minnesota, southern Michigan and 
Ontario, western New York, Pennsylvania, and West 
Virginia, south to Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama. 



2. THE BLACK-THROATED BLUE! 
WARBLER 

Length: About 5^4 inches. 

Male: Upper parts a dull grayish-blue, darker on the back, 
black bordering crown above the eye; cheeks, throat, 
and upper breast black; belly white; sides black and 
white; wings black, edged with blue, and with white 
next to body; a white patch on wing; tail bluish- 
black, outer feathers largely white. 

Female: Very different from male; olive-green above, yellow- 
ish-white underneath; light streak over eyes; white 
patch near the base of the primary quills; tail blu- 
ish, with much less white than on males. 

Song: "His song, though very versatile, is among the thinnest 
and most non-melodious of the family." ' 

1, 2, & 3 From Eaton's "Birds of New York." 

[277] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

Habitat: "Black-throated blue warblers prefer clearings 
amidst hemlock woods or along hemlock-clad gully 
banks where there are dense underbrush, bushes, and 
stump sprouts bearing multitudes of large leaves." ^ 

Pange: Eastern North America from Hudson Bay and New- 
foundland south to the Northern States, and in the 
highlands and mountains to Massachusetts, Connec- 
ticut, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. 

THE Black-throated Blue Warbler, though not so bril- 
liantly colored as many members of the family, is 
one of the neatest and best-groomed of all the warblers. 
As he flies from bough to bough or bush to bush he dis- 
plays to fine advantage the clear black and white colora- 
tion, the white spots on the wings and tail flashing like 
the wings of a butterfly. He carries his wings and tail 
partially spread somewhat in the manner of the Redstart. 
. . . The male is not so nervously active as many other 
warblers. . . . 

"This warbler's nest often contains an egg of the Cow- 
bird. The nests are variously attached to slender scrubby 
bushes, 8 to 30 inches up, usually very close to old trails 
or old wood roads. ... A constant characteristic of this 
warbler's nest is the decoration of decayed, spongy pieces 
of light colored wood fastened to the outside." ^ 



3. THE BLUE-WINGED WARBLER 

Length: About 5 inches. 

Male: Crown and under parts bright yellow; a black line 
through the eye; back olive-green, yellower at the 
rump; wings bluish-gray, edged with olive and white; 

1 & 2 From Eaton's "Birds of New York." 

[278] 



THE WARBLERS 

two broad yellowish-while wing-bars; tail bluish- 
gray, with white patches of different sizes on outer 
feathers. 

Female: Similar to male, but with less yellow on head, — on 
forehead and not on crown. 

Song': "The song is insignificant, a wheezy performance of 
notes resembling the syllables 'swee-e-e-e-e, chee-chee- 
chee-chee," the first inhaled, the second exhaled." ^ 

Habitat: "The Blue-winged warbler frequents swampy thickets 
but is sometimes found among the scrubby second 
growth of the hillsides and the undergrowth of dense 
woods." ^ 

Range: Breeds in eastern North America from southeastern 
Minnesota, southern Michigan, western New York, 
Connecticut, and Massachusetts, southward to Mis- 
souri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware; winters 
from southern Mexico to Colombia. 

THE Blue-winged Warbler is deliberate in its move- 
ments as compared with other warblers, acting 
more like a vireo than a member of its family. 

• • • • • • • 

The nesting site of this warbler is on the ground in a 
bunch of herbs or at the foot of a small bush. The nest 
is surrounded by grass, weeds, ferns, or vines, which 
screen it effectively from view." ^ 



4. THE GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER . 

Length: A little over 5 inches. 

Male: Croivn bright yellow; white line over eye, broad black 
line extending through eye; black throat bordered 
with ivhite; wings bluish-gray, with a large, bright 
yellow patch; upper parts, bluish-gray; under parts, 

S 2, & 3^ From Eaton's "Birds of New York." 

[279] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

except throat, grayish-white; tail bluish-gray, with 
outer feathers nearly all white on their inner webs. 

Female: Similar to male, but duller; cheeks and throat dark 
gray instead of black. 

Song: "Its song is a 'lazy zee-zee-zee' It has also an insect- 
like call-note, and a sharp chip alarm-note like that 
of the chipping sparrow. . . . The song when near 
at hand sounds like the syllables zee-u-ee', zee-u-ee', 
zee-u-ee'." ^ 

Habitat: The beautiful little Golden-winged Warbler may be 
found in deciduous forests, especially among elm 
and birch trees, and has a habit of seeking the ends 
of branches for its food. 

Jtange: Eastern North America. Breeds from central Minne- 
sota, southern Ontario, and Massachusetts, to south- 
ern Iowa, northern Illinois, Indiana, and New Jersey, 
and northern Georgia; winters from Guatemala to 
Colombia; very rare in Florida and southern Geor- 
gia, and west of the Mississippi. 



5. THE NORTHERN PARULA WARBLER 

Length: A little less than 5 inches. 

Male: Grayish-blue above, with a bright olive-yellow patch 
in the middle of the back; yellow throat and breast, 
with a dark bluish or reddish-brown band across the 
breast; belly white; sides sometimes reddish-brown; 
two white wing-bars; tail gray, edged with blue, with 
white spots near tips of inner webs. 

Female: Similar to male, except that the reddish-brown mark- 
ings and band across the breast are less distinct or 
wanting. 

Song: A "buzzing" song rather evenly accented. 

Habitat: "During the migration season, the Farula Warbler 
may be found among the foliage of our shade trees 

1 From Eaton's "Birds of New York." 

[280] 



THE WARBLERS 

and orchards, being most common about the time 
of the apple-blossoms. As soon as he reaches his 
summer home, however, he is practically confined 
to swamps . . . preferring, during the nesting sea- 
son evergreen trees, although occasionally found in 
mixed groves where deciduous trees predominate." ^ 
He lives in localities where he can find the Usnea 
moss, in which he loves to build his nest. Look for 
him along streams or near swamps where this moss 
hangs from the trees. 
Range: From eastern Nebraska and Minnesota, central On- 
tario, Anticosti an^ Cape Breton Islands, south to 
Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Virginia, and Maryland; 
winters probably in the Bahamas and from Vera 
Cruz to Nicaragua. 

The southern species or PARULa warbler, differs 
slightly from his northern relative; his throat is yel- 
lower and his breast-band is less distinct. He lives 
in the southeastern United States, and is common 
where there are cypresses hung with moss. He is 
very active; he reminds one of the kinglet and the 
chickadee as he hangs head downward from a spray, 
seeking the tiny insects that he likes to eat. 



GROUP SEVEN— WARBLERS WITH REDDISH- 
BROWN MARKINGS 

1. THE BAY-BREASTED WARBLER 

Length: A little over 5^/4 inches. 

Male: Forehead and cheeks black, giving the effect of a black 
mask; crown, nape, throat, upper breast, and sides 
a beautiful chestnut-red; a patch of bulT at each side 
of the neck; lower breast and belly buff; back brown- 

1 From Eaton's "Birds of New York." 

[281] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

ish-gray, with black streaks; wings and tail brownish- 
gray; two broad white wing-bars; tail with white 
spots near tip of outer feathers. 

Female: Upper parts grayish-brown, streaked with black; un- 
der parts buff, breast and sides washed with reddish- 
brown; crown brownish; two white wing-bars. 

Song: "A monotonous, lisping song, with perhaps a few more 
musical, ringing notes." ^ 

Habitat: "The Bay-breasted warbler usually frequents the 
tops of trees during migration, being especially fond 
of chestnuts, oaks, and hickories just as the leaves 
are bursting. It is also found in orchards and about 
the shade trees of streets and parks as well as in 
the midst of woodlands. ... It prefers the upper 
portions of trees except in cold or stormy weather 
when it descends and feeds among the underbrush." ^ 
William Brewster says that they live in dense woods, 
especially among the pines and other cone-bearing 
trees. 

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds in north-central and 
southern Canada, northern Maine, and mountains of 
New Hampshire; winters in Panama and Colombia; 
irregular on the Atlantic slope and south of Virginia. 
One of our less common warblers. 



2. THE CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER 

Lengfth: About 5 inches. 

Male: Crown yellow, bordered with black; back gray, streaked 
with black and yellow; ear-patch and under parts 
white; black line extending from bill meets broad 
chestnut streak which runs down the side of the 
body; wings with two broad yellowish-white wing- 
bars; tail black, outer feathers with large white 
spots varying in size. 

1 James P. Chapin. 

2 From Eaton's "Birds of New York." 

[282] 



THE WARBLERS 

Female: Somewhat like male, but duller; the colors are less 
sharply contrasted. 

Song'! In the spring a loud warble, not unlike that of the 
yellow warbler; in the summer, a weaker trill. ^ 

Habitat: Thickets, bushy roadsides, edges of woods, open 
woodlands. 

Range: Eastern North America from central Canada to east- 
ern Nebraska, northern Ohio, New Jersey, Rhode Is- 
land, and Massachusetts, and in the Alleghany Mts. 
to Termessee and North Carolina. 

THE male Chestnut-sided Warbler is very easily 
identified; its sharp contrasts in coloring make it 
conspicuous. While the bay-breasted warbler also has 
chestnut sides, it differs in having the color extend to the 
breast and throat, instead of bordering the white under 
parts. 

The dainty little chestnut-sided warbler is rather com- 
moner than some species. Dr. F. H. Herrick in his book, 
"The Home Life of Wild Birds," tells of taming a female. 
She ate from his hand and allowed him to stroke her as 
she sat on her nest. 

1 "Useful Birds and Their Protection" — E. H. Forbush, page 193. 



[283] 



THE THRUSHES 
Thrush Family — Turdidce 

SIX members of the Thrush Family are more or less 
common in the eastern United States: the Robin, the 
Bluebird, the Wood Thrush, the Hermit Thrush, the Olive- 
backed Thrush, and the Veery. The Gray-cheeked and 
BicknelFs thrushes are not so widely known. The Rus- 
set-backed Thrush is the western representative of the 
Olive-back. 

The Oven-bird, or Golden-crowned Thrush, and the 
Water-thrushes are not thrushes at all, but warblers, 
though they resemble thrushes in having brown backs and 
light spotted breasts, and in being dwellers of the woods. 
The Brown Thrasher, sometimes wrongly called the 
Brown Thrush, also has points of resemblance — a speckled 
breast and bright brown back — ^but he is one of the Mimidae 
or Mockingbird Family. 

The breasts of young robins and the backs of baby 
bluebirds are spotted, showing their family relationship. 
Both robins and bluebirds have voices that possess a qual- 
ity for which our thrushes are noted. I have heard the 
English thrush, famed in poetry. I consider its song in- 
ferior in quality of tone to those of our wood and hermit- 
thrushes, and veery; it strongly resembles that of our 
thrasher. 

The true thrushes of our woods have backs of leaf- 
brown, varying in hue from bright russet to dull olive. 

[284] 




WOOD THRUSH 



THE THRUSHES 

Their breasts are white or buff, streaked or spotted; their 
tails are short; their eyes, large and lustrous. Their 
movements are quick, yet graceful. Their demeanor is 
gentle, though I have seen them strongly aroused when 
nest or young was disturbed. 

THE WOOD THRUSH 

The Wood Thrush is the best known of these thrushes. 
It may be identified by its large size (a little over 8 
inches) ; by its bright brown head, dull brown back, wings, 
and tail; white under parts that are heavily spotted, es- 
pecially on the breast and sides; and by distinct streaks 
below the eyes. 

Note: Its call-note is a sharp pit; its song a series of sweet 
Song: cadences beginning with the liquid syllables ah-oh- 

ee? Four phrases often constitute the song, be- 
tween which a soft purring sound is frequently 
heard, if one is ne£ir the singer. 
Habitat: Wood thrushes may be found in open groves, parks, 
and wooded pastures, on large estates, emd along 
secluded roads. They are rarely found near farm- 
buildings, but occasionally live in gardens and or- 
chards. 

A pair of thrushes once nested in a tree on a slope 
just back of a house where I chanced to be a guest. The 
mother-bird had begun her brooding, when carpenters 
arrived to build some steps near her chosen home. Fright- 
ened, she fled, and remained away for a time. Finally 
mother-love overcame her fears and she returned. The 
workmen were asked to do her no harm; they became inter- 
ested in her, and she trustful of them. She let them ap- 

[285] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

proach within a few feet of her nest. We saw the shy 
wood-bird, serene and unafraid, raise her brood in the 
midst of noisy hammering, with friendly companionship 
close at hand. 

THE OUVE-BACKED THRUSH 

THE Olive-backed Thrush is about an inch smaller 
than tlie wood thrush (7 inches), and is uniformly 
olive-brown above. Its breast, throat, cheeks, and eye- 
ring are buff; its sides gray. The breast, sides of the 
throat, and cheeks are spotted with black. 

Note: Its call-note is puck; its song pleasing, with a 

Song': phrasing that reminds one of the hermit thrush, but 

it is louder and less deliberate, and lacks, also, the 
hermit's liquid sweetness. The olive-back has a habit 
of singing from the pointed top of a tall spruce; 
near by, on a neighboring treetop, an olive-sided 
flycatcher may utter its Peep here, or a hermit may 
sing in the grove below. 

Habitat: The olive-back lives in woods, rather than close to 
the haunts of man; it prefers to be near streams and 
swampy places, as does the western russet-back 
THRUSH, a bird very similar in appearance and hab- 
its. 

Range: The olive-back breeds in Canada and northern United 
States, and winters from Mexico to South America. 



THE GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH AND BICKNELL's 

THRUSHES 

Gray-Cheeked Thrush: "The Gray-cheeked Thrush is found 
in migration over all the Eastern States, but breeds 
farther north, beyond our limits. 

[286] 



THE THRUSHES 

Bicknell's Thrush: "Bitknell's Thrush, a closely related 
form, while having somewhat the same general 
range, breeds farther south and nests in the moun- 
tains of northern New York and New England. The 
species does not seem to be very abundant any- 
where." ^ 

Their resemblance to each other and to the olive- 
back makes them difficult to identify. The absence 
of buff from the head differentiates them from the 
latter species, which is a difference not readily ob- 
served except by experienced ornithologists. Bick- 
nell's thrush is smaller than the gray-cheeked thrush. 

THE VEERY 

The Veery or Wilson's Thrush is slightly smaller than 
the wood thrush (7/4 inches), and is a lighter and 
more uniform brown above. It has a whitish throat and 
belly, and grayish sides. The 'breast and sides of the 
throat are a soft buff, with faint spots of brown. Its 
light brown upper parts and its less conspicuous markings 
distinguish the veery from other thrushes. 

Note: Its call-note is a whistled whee'-u, — loud, clear, and ut- 
tered frequently. 

Song: The song is inexpressibly beautiful, — like organ-chords, 
or those that fill the Baptistery of Pisa when the 
Italian guide blends tones for the delight of listeners. 
A veery 's song cannot be described; the whee'-u may 
reveal the singer's whereabouts, and aid in identi- 
fication. This bird has brought me pleasure many 
times, for it forms one of the chorus that sing their 
matin- and even-songs in a spruce grove across the 
road from our cottage in Maine. Still other veeries 
chant with hermit thrushes in more distant woods. 

1 Bulletin 280, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Biological Survey. 

[287] 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES 

It recalls, also, memories of deep Adirondack 
woods near Seventh Lake, where we heard veeries 
and wood thrushes sing antiphonally at sunset. 
Range: This thrush is abundant in the eastern United States 
during its migration, while on the way to its nesting 
place in our Northern States, to New England, and 
Canada. It winters in South America. 

It seems to bear a charmed life. It does no harm 
and receives none; it is a favorite wherever its 
voice is heard. 

THE HERMIT THRUSH 

The Hermit Thrush may be described in superlatives. 
Of the four commoner thrushes, it comes earliest 
(in March or early April) on its way to its haunts in 
northern woods, remains longest (till October or Novem- 
ber), and is considered by many to be the finest singer 
of a highly gifted family. 

It is so very shy that it is rarely seen and yet, during 
migration time, I once discovered a solitary hermit in a 
tree on a vacant lot only a few blocks from the business 
center of Cleveland. Because we sit quietly for hours 
at a time in the Maine woods, we have been vouchsafed 
many glimpses of its olive-brown back, its reddish-brown 
tail (the mark of identification), and its rather thickly 
spotted white and brown breast. We have noticed its 
habit of raising its tail as it alighted; we have heard its 
call-note chuck. 

Moore's Rock, Castine, Maine, commands an enchanting 
view of Penobscot Bay, of distant hills, and of spruce 
woods that are tenanted by veeries, olive-backed, and 
hermit thrushes. There we make frequent pilgrimages, 
to hear them sing at sunset. 

[288] 



THE THRUSHES 

Beneath glowing skies and in the silence, the hermit 
raises his exquisitely modulated voice in a strain of ethe- 
real beauty; pauses, then in a higher key, repeats it; 
a third time, with still loftier elevation of tone, he sings, 
— and sings again. 

More than once at twilight, a white fog has moved in 
from the bay and enveloped us as we listened. The 
voices of these thrushes, proceeding from the sea of mist, 
have seemed more like those of spirits from another world 
than of birds — unspeakably uplifting and full of signif- 
icance. 



[289] 



AFTERWORD 

The great psychologist, William James, preached 
the doctrine that it was immoral to have emotions 
that did not bear fruit in action, — a doctrine that many 
educators and teachers are putting into practice nowadays. 

Music, art, noble architecture, poetry, fine prose, the 
drama, and the beauties of nature, all of which arouse 
the emotion of joy and minister to our higher natures, 
were formerly sought as means of self-development or cul- 
ture — one of the great ends to be attained in life. Exces- 
sive cultivation of one's self is now regarded by broad- 
minded people as a refined form of selfishness (often in- 
tellectual snobbishness), unless with it there exists a sense 
of responsibility and an attempt to assist in making pos- 
sible by some form of activity a more nearly universal 
sharing of these pure forms of pleasure. 

The conservation of forests, the preservation of scenic 
wonders, of wild flowers, of native animals and birds for 
the enjoyment of all, has become the aim of a great move- 
ment throughout the country. It is well known that the 
fine balance of nature is maintained by birds, and that 
upon them depend in large measure the preservation of 
forests, parks, gardens, orchards, and farms. 

As they are so truly our benefactors and furnish us 
with so much genuine enjoyment and absorbing interest, 
we are under obligation to repay their services to us by 
some form of service to them, which will minister also to 
the well-being of our communities. The formation of 

[290] 



AFTERWORD 

Audubon Societies, the spreading of knowledge by means 
of bird-books, illustrated bird-lectures, and the invalu- 
able bulletins easily obtainable at the Government Print- 
ing Office, Washington; the erection of bird-houses and 
baths, and of feeding-tables for the winter; the furthering 
of wise legislation regarding bird-protection and the sup- 
plying of bird-wardens in some localities to help carry out 
the laws; intelligent and humane regulations to prevent the 
depredations of cats; the creation, wherever possible, of 
bird-sanctuaries and preserves, and the planting of trees 
and shrubs which will attract birds are a few of the ways 
in which we may make practical our interest in birds and 
add to the well-being of our land. 



THE END 



[291] 



INDEX 



PAGE 

Blackbird (Crow) 114 

Blackbird (Red-winged) 118 

Blackbird (Rusty) 120 

Blackbird (Yellow-headed) ... 120 

Bluebird 102 

Blue Jay 6 

Bobolink 212 

Bobwhite 38 

Bobwhite (Florida) 38 

Brown Creeper 78 

Canary (Wild) 217 

Cardinal 19 

Catbird 220 

Cedar-bird 47 

Charee 161 

Chat (Yellow-breasted) 274 

Chebec 234 

Cherry-bird 47 

Chewink 161 

Chickadee (Acadian) 54 

Chickadee (Black-capped) ... 53 

Chickadee (Carolina) 53 

Chickadee (Florida) 53 

Chippy (Winter) 34 

Chuck-Will's-Widow 185 

Cowbird 121 

Creeper (Brown) 78 

Creeper (Black and White) .. 260 

Crossbill (American or Red) . . 14 

Crossbill (White-winged) .... 26 

Crow (American) 14 

Crow (Fish) 17 

Crow (Florida) 17 

Cuckoo (Black-billed) 231 

Cuckoo (Yellow-billed) 231 

Dove (Mourning) 141 



PAGE 

Finch (House) 159 

Finch (Purple) 161 

Flicker (Northern) 127 

Flicker (Southern) 128 

Flicker (Red-shafted) 128 

Flycatcher (Crested) 239 

Flycatcher (Least) 234 

Flycatcher (Olive-sided) 240 

Gnatcatcher (Blue-gray) 246 

Goldfinch 216 

Crackle (Boat-tailed) 117 

Crackle (Bronzed) 116 

Crackle (Florida) 117 

Crackle (Purple) 114 

Grosbeak (Blue) 209 

Grosbeak (Black-headed) .... 211 

Grosbeak (Cardinal) 19 

Grosbeak (Evening) 210 

Grosbeak (Pine) 22 

Grosbeak (Rose-breasted) .... 207 

Grouse (Rufifed) 44 

House Wren 190 

Hummingbird 192 

Indigo-bird 196 

Indigo Bimting 196 

Jay (Blue) 6 

Jay (California) 10 

Jay (Canada) 11 

Jay (Florida) 9 

Jay (Florida Blue) 9 

Jay (Steller) 10 

Junco (Carolina) 28 

Junco (Slate-colored) 27 



[293] 



INDEX 



S 



PAGE 

Kingbird 235 

Kingbird (Gray) 237 

Kingfisher (Belted) 144 

Kinglet (Golden-crowned) ... 57 
Kinglet (Ruby -crowned) 245 

Lark (Field or Old Field) ... 123 

Lark (Horned) 91 

Lark (Southern) 124 

Lark (Western) 124 

Linnet 159 

Martin (Purple) 175 

Meadowlark 123 

Mockingbird 227 

Mockingbird (Western) 228 

Nighthawk 187 

Nightingale (Virginia) 19 

Nuthatch (Red-breasted) 77 

Nuthatch (White-breasted) .. 73 

Oriole (Baltimore) 19i 

Oriole (Orchard) 202 

Oven-bird 257 

Pewee (Wood) 242 

Phoebe Ill 

Phoebe (Black) 113 

Poor-will 185 

Quail 38 

Quail (California) 38 

Raven (Northern) 17 

Redbird 19 

Redpoll 37 

Redstart 265 

Robin (American) 96 

Robin (English) 99 

Robin (Ground) 161 

Sapsucker (Red-breasted) . . . 139 

Sapsucker (Red-naped) 139 

Sapsucker (Williamson) 139 

Sapsucker (Yellow-bellied) . . 136 

Shrike (Loggerhead) 84 

Shrike (Migrant) 84 



TAQt, 

Shrike (Northern) 84 

Siskin (Pine) 37 

Snowbird (Brown) 30 

Snowbird (Gray) 27 

Snowbird (Slate-colored) 27 

Snow Bunting 30 

Siiowflake 30 

Sparrow (Chipping) 151 

Sparrow (Field) 147 

Sparrow (Fox) 109 

Sparrow (Song) 106 

Sparrow (Tree) 34 

Sparrow (Vesper) 149 

Sparrow (White-crowned) 156 

Sparrow (White-throated) 154 

Starling 30 

Swallow (Bank) 178 

Swallow (Bam) 172 

Swallow (Cliff) 177 

Swallow (Eave) 177 

Swallow (Rough-winged) 179 

Swallow (Tree) 169 

Swift (Chimney) 180 

Tanager (Scarlet) 204 

Tanager (Summer) 205 

Tanager (Western) 205 

Thrasher (Brown) 224 

Thrush 

Thrush 

Thrush 

Thrush 

Thrush 

Thrush 

Thrush 

Thrush 

Thrush 

Thrush 

Thrush 

Titmouse 

Titmouse 



(Bicknell's) 286 

(Brown) 224 

(Golden-crowned) 257 

(Gray-cheeked) 286 

(Hermit) 288 

(Olive-backed) 286 

(Russet-backed) 284 

(Water) (Louisiana) . 259 
(Water) (Northern) . 258 

(Wilson's) 287 

(Wood) 285 

(Black-capped) .... 53 

(Tufted) 51 

Tomtit 51 

Towhee 161 

Towhee (White-eyed) 161 



Veery 
Vireo 
Vireo 



287 

(Red-eyed) 257 

(Warbling) 250 



[294] 



INDEX 



PAGE 

Vireo (White-eyed) 251 

Vireo (Yellow-throated) 252 

Waxwing (Bohemian) 50 

Waxwing (Cedar) 47 

Woodpecker (Downy) 65 

Woodpecker (Southern Downy) 66 
Woodpecker (Golden-winged) . 127 

Woodpecker (Hairy) 70 

Woodpecker (Northern Hairy) 70 
Woodpecker (Southern Hairy) 70 
Woodpecker (Red-bellied) ... 134 
Woodpecker (Red-headed) .. 131 

Wren (Carolina) 60 

Wren (House) 190 

Wren (Winter) 63 

Warblers 

Bay-breasted 281 

Black and White 260 

Blackburnian 266 

Black-throated Blue 277 

Black-throated Green 273 

Black-poll 260 



PAGE 

Blue-winged 273 

Canadian 274 

Cerulean 276 

Chestnut-sided 282 

Golden-winged 279 

Hooded 271 

Magnolia 263 

Maryland Yellow-throat 270 

Myrtle 262 

Oven-bird 257 

Parula (Northern) 280 

Parula 281 

Pine 269 

Redstart 265 

Water-thrush (Louisiana) . . 259 
Water-thrush (Northern) .. 258 

Wilson's 272 

Worm-eating 259 

Yellow 268 

Yellow-breasted Chat 274 

Yellow Palm 275 

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) .. 262 



[295]