(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Birdcraft : a field book of two hundred song, game, and water birds"

h^- 



\^ 



c 











FOR THE PEOPLE 

FOR EDVCATION 

FOR SCIENCE 






LIBRARY 

OF 

THE AMERICAN MUSEUM 

OF 

NATURAL HISTORY 





BIRDCRAFT 



• * 



f^^^ 




'$ 



Tme VeerV. 



BIRDCRAFT 



A FIELD BOOK OF TWO HUNDRED SONG- 
GAME, AND WATER BIRDS 



BY 



MABEL OSGOOD WRIGHT 

AUTHOR OF "the FRIENDSHIP OF NATURE," "TOMMY ANNB ' 
"CITIZEN BIRD," ETC. 



WITff EIGHTY FULL-PAGE PLATES BY 
LOUIS AGASSIZ FUERTES 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

LONDON : MACMILLAN & CO., Ltd. 
1903 



AU rights reserved 



>- ppfA^xg^d?(e 



COPTEIGHT, 1895, 

bt macmillan and CO. 



COPTBIGHT, 1897, 



By the macmillan COMPANY. 

Set up and electrotyped April, 1895. Reprinted January, 1896. 
Reprinted, with additions, and new illustrations, October, 1897 ; June, 
1899; December, 1900; April, 1903. 



Kottoootr i^ttfls 

J. 8. Cuihing Jc Co. - Berwick U Smith 
Norwood Mais. U.S.A. 



Ed 3. ©. Wi* 

A RECORD OF HAPPY FIELD DAYS 
ABOUT HOME 



Waldbtein, FAmriBLD, Cokn. 
Mabch 1, 1895 



"Thus on Earth's little ball to the birds you owe all, yet 
your gratitude's small for the favours they've done. 
And their feathers you pill, and you eat them at will, yes, 

you plunder and kill the bright birds one by one ; 
There's a price on their head, and the Dodo is dead, and 
the Moa has fled from the face of the sun ! " 

Andrew Lang. 



And the birds sang round him, o'er him, 

" Do not shoot us, Hiawatha ! " 

Sang the Opechee, the Robin, 

Sang the Bluebird, the Owaissa, 

" Do not shoot us, Hiawatha 1 " 

Longfellow. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS. 

» 

PAGE 

TO THE HEADER xi 

INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS: 

The Spring Song 3 

The Building of the Nest 11 

The Water-birds 21 

Birds of Autumn and Winter . , 25 

HOW TO NAME THE BIRDS. 35 

SYNOPSIS OF FAMILIES , 43 

BIRD BIOGRAPHIES : » 

Perching Song-birds 57 

Perching Songless Birds 182 

Birds of Prey 206 

Pigeons, Quails, Grouse 225 

Shore and Marsh Birds 231 

Swimming Birds 255 

KEY TO THE BIRDS 281 

INDEX OF ENGLISH NAMES .309 

INDEX OF LATIN NAMES 315 

vii 



LIST OF PLATES. 



Much of the technical excellence of these plates is due to the fine specimens of birds 
furnished the artist through the courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History, 
New York City. In this connection both illustrator and author wish to thank Dr. 
J. A. Allen and Mr. Frank M. Chapman of the department of ornithology in that 
institution. 

The numerals on the plates indicate the approximate length of each bird, small frac- 
tions being avoided. The point of measurement being from the tip of beak over the 
back to the end of the tail, it must be remembered that this length is often variable 
according to the development of the tail. 

The Veery Frontispiece 

Plate Facing page 

1 Meadowlark 3 

2 Ruby-throated Hummingbird 11 

3 Wood Duck 21 

4 Snowy Owl 26 

5 Map of the Bird 35 

6 American Robin (1) ; Wood Thrush (2) . . . .57 

7 Olive-backed Thrush 61 

8 Hermit Thrush (1) ; Golden-crowned Kinglet (2) . . 62 

9 Bluebird 66 

10 Yellow Warbler (1) ; Chickadee (2) 72 

11 White-breasted Nuthatch (1) ; Brown Creeper (2) . . 74 

12 Mockingbird 76 

13 Catbird 78 

14 Brown Thrasher 80 

15 House Wren (1) ; Long-billed Marsh Wren (2) . . . 83 

16 Black and White Warbler (1) ; Myrtle Warbler (2) . . 88 

17 Ovenbird (1) ; Red-eyed Vireo (2) 106 

18 Maryland Yellow-throat 110 

19 Yellow-breasted Chat (1) ; Bank Swallow (2) . . . 112 

20 American Redstart 115 

21 Northern Shrike 122 

22 Cedar Waxwing 124 

23 Purple Martin 12« 

iz 



LIST OF PLATES. 

Plate Facing page 

24 Tree Swallow (1) ; Barn Swallow (2) 128 

25 Scarlet Tanager 131 

26 Pine Grosbeak (1) ; White-throated Sparrow (2) . . 133 

27 American Crossbill 137 

28 Snowflake (1) ; American Goldfinch (2) . . . . 140 

29 Vesper Sparrow (1) ; Slate-coloured Junco (2) . . . 145 

30 Song Sparrow (1) ; Chipping Sparrow (2) . . . . 153 

31 Towhee 158 

32 Cardinal 161 

33 Rose-breasted Grosbeak 162 

34 Indigo Bunting 164 

35 Bobolink 166 

36 Red-winged Blackbird 169 

37 Orchard Oriole 171 

38 Baltimore Oriole 174 

39 Cowbird (1) ; Purple Crackle (2) » . , . . 175 

40 Blue Jay 177 

41 Kingbird . . . . , 182 

42 Phoebe (1) ; Wood Pewee (2) 185 

43 Whip-poor-will o . . 188 

44 Nighthawk 191 

45 Chimney Swift . 193 

46 Downy Woodpecker 195 

47 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 196 

48 Red-headed Woodpecker 199 

49 Flicker 200 

50 Yellow-billed Cuckoo 202 

51 Belted Kingfisher 204 

52 American Long-eared Owl ....... 207 

53 Screech Owl 211 

54 Great Horned Owl 212 

55 Marsh Hawk , . .215 

56 Sharp-shinned Hawk . 216 

57 Red-shouldered Hawk 219 

58 Bald Eagle 220 

59 American Sparrow Hawk 221 

60 American Osprey 224 

61 Passenger Pigeon ......... 226 

62 Mourning Dove 228 

63 Ruffed Grouse 230 

64 Turnstone (1) ; American Golden Plover (2) . . . 232 

65 Bob-white (1) ; American Woodcock (2) . . . . 236 

66 Spotted Sandpiper (1) ; Least Sandpiper (2) . . . 241 

67 Wilson's Snipe (1) ; Virginia Rail (2) 246 



LIST OF PLATES. 

Piste Facing page 

68 American Bittern 260 

69 Great Blue Heron 252 

70 Black-crowned Night Heron 264 

71 Mallard 256 

72 Green-winged Teal 258 

73 Blue-winged Teal 260 

74 Redhead 262 

75 Old Squaw 265 

76 Canada Goose 266 

77 Herring Gull (1) ; Common Tern (2) 270 

78 Loon 276 

79 Pintail (1) ; Pied-billed Grebe (2) 278 



TO THE READER. 



Do you want to know the birds and call them by their 
familiar names ? You may do so if you will, provided you 
have keen eyes and a pocket full of patience; patience is 
the salt of the bird-catching legend. 

The flowers silently aivait your coming, from the wayside 
wild rose to the shy orchid entrenched in the depths of the 
cool bog, and you may examine and study them at your 
leisure. With the birds it is often only a luring call, a 
scrap of melody, and they are gone. Yet in spite of this 
you may have a bowing and even a speaking acquaintance 
with them. 

The way is plain for those who wish to study the science 
of ornithology and have time to devote to the pursuit; its 
literature is exhaustive, and no country offers a more inter- 
esting variety of species than our own. But for the novice, 
who wishes to identify easily the birds that surround him, 
to recognize their songs and give them their English names, 
the work at first seems difficult. There are many scien- 
tific terms, containing their own definitions, that lose force 
and exactness when translated into simpler language, requir- 
ing a dozen words to give the meaning of one. There is a 
comforting fact, however, for the novice, that while scientific 
nomenclature has been and is constantly changing, the com- 
mon names, that science also recognizes, remain practically 
unchanged. Our Bluebird bears the same name as in Audu- 
bon's day, and the Meadowlark, who has been moved from 

one genus to another, is called the Meadowlark still. 

xiii 



TO THE HEADER. 

In speaking of the common names of birds, I would draw 
a sharp line between the English names recognized by the 
text books and the American Ornithologists' Union, and the 
purely local titles. Local names, whether of flowers or 
birds, are often a hindrance to exact knowledge, because 
they frequently stand for more than one object. For 
example, I have heard the term Eedbird applied alike to 
the Baltimore Oriole, Scarlet Tanager, and Cardinal ; but a 
knowledge of the recognized common names of a bird will 
enable the student to find its species in any of the manuals. 

Allowing that you wish to name the birds, do not be held 
back by minor considerations. You are not to be excluded 
from the pleasures of this acquaintance even if you are. 
obliged to spend most of your life in the city. The bird- 
quest will lend a new attraction to your holidays, and you 
will be led toward the nearest park or along the front of 
river or harbour. Bradford Torrey gives, in his inimitablf^ 
way, an account of the birds (some seventy species) which 
he saw on Boston Common, and Frank M. Chapman lists 
one hundred and thirty odd species which he has seen in 
Central Park, New York.^ 

The museums also are open to you, and their treasury oi 
skilfully preserved birds offers the advantage of close 
inspection. The taxidermist's art has reached great per- 
fection lately, and in the place of bird mummies, stuffed and 
mounted each in the stiff attitude of its neighbour, without 
the tribal marks of pose or expression, — as much alike as 
the f our-and-twenty blackbirds that were baked in the pie, — 
we now see the birds as individuals in their homes. The 
American Museum of Natural History, New York, has sixty 
such bird groups which show the Chimney Swift, nesting 
on his little bracket, the Euffed Grouse rustling through 
the leaves with her tiny brown chicks, the Baltimore Oriole 
and its swinging nest, or the Black Duck guarding its bed 

1 Mr. Chapman, Assistant Curator of the Department of Birds and Mam- 
mals of the Museum of Natural History, has recently completed an excel- 
lent Visitor's Guide to the Museum's Collection of Birds, found within fifty 
miles of New York City, in which all birds seen in Central Park are spe- 
cially noted. 

xiy 



TO THE READER. 

of marsh-grass. We Americans have not yet thoroughly- 
acquired the habit of regarding the museums as great 
picture books, and yet such they are, and in this connection 
I wish to express my gratitude to Dr. J. A. Allen, Curator 
of the Department of Birds and Mammals of the American 
Museum of Natural History, for much valuable assistance 
and advice in connection with this book. 

If you are not a dweller in a large city, but live in a 
suburban town with a few shrubs in your yard or a vine 
over your door, you have the wherewithal to entertain bird 
guests who will talk to you so cheerily that you will soon 
be led to discover that there is a lane or a bit of woods 
within walking distance, where you may hear more of such 
delightful conversation. Read the " Bird Songs about Wor- 
cester," ^ by the late Harry Leverett Nelson, a graphic as 
well as charming account of the birds to be found in the 
neighbourhood of a rural city, and you will be encouraged. 

And you who through circumstance, rather than choice 
perhaps, live in the real country and, as yet, feel the isola- 
tion more than the companionableness of Nature, who love 
the flowers in a way, but find them irresponsive, I beg of 
you to join this quest. You will discover that you have 
neighbours enough, friends for all your moods, silent, melo- 
dious, or voluble; friends who will gossip with you, and 
yet bear no idle tales. 

If you wish to go on this pleasant quest, you must take 
with you three things, — a keen eye, a quick ear, and loving 
patience. The vision may be supplemented by a good field- 
glass, and the ear quickened by training, but there is no 
substitute for intelligent patience. A mere dogged persist- 
ency will not do for the study of the living bird, and it is 
to the living bird in his love-songs, his house-building, his 
haunts, and his migrations, that I would lead you. The 
gun that silences the bird voice, and the looting of nests, 
should be left to the practised hand of science ; you have 
no excuse for taking life, whether actual or embryonic, as 

1 Boston : Little, Brown & Co. 
XV 



TO THE READER. 

your very ignorance will cause useless slaughter, and the 
egg-collecting fever of the average boy savours more of the 
greed of possession than of ornithological ardour. 

Finally, whoever you are who read these pages, spare for 
me a little of your hoard of the same patience with which 
you are to study the birds, if, while striving to lead you 
through the wood-path, I often stumble or retrace my steps. 

M. 0. W. 



XVI 



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS. 



THE SPEING SONG. 

THE BUILDING OF THE NEST. 

THE WATER-BIEDS. 

BIEDS OF AUTUMN AND WINTER. 



PLATE 1. 




ME ADO WL ARK. 
Length, 10.75 inches. 



(See page 169.) 



INTKODUCTORT CHAPTERS. 



THE SPRING SONG. 

What tidings hath the Swallow heard 
That bids her leave the lands of summer 

For woods and fields where April yields 
Bleak welcome to the blithe newcomer ? — Bourdillow. 

The trees are leafless, and there are snow patches in nooks 
and corners ; the air is laden with chilly gusts, but at noon a 
little softness creeps into it; the days, though gray, hold 
twelve hours of light, and the vernal equinox is at hand. 

Come to the window, my friend, you who are going to 
spend some days, weeks, or months upon the bird-quest. 
You say that you see nothing but the bare trees, not even 
"the sun making dust and the grass growing green," like 
sister Anne in the fairy tale. Open your window, or better 
still, go into the porch, for a procession is soon to pass, and 
you must hear the music. Listen ! on the branch of the oak 
where the leaves still cling is the bugler, the Song Sparrow, 
calling through the silence, " They come ! They come ! They 
come ! Prepare the way." 

Then presently, instead of tramping feet, you will hear 
the rustling of the innumerable wings of the bird army. 
Happy for you if it is a long time in passing and if a large 
part of it camps for the season. Usually it sends forward a 
few scouts, and then a company or two, before the brigade, 
clad in its faultless dress uniform, sweeps on, singing the 
greatest choral symphony of Nature, — the Spring Song. 

There are many reasons, both of fact and of fancy, why it 
is best to begin the study of birds in the spring. The 

3 



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS. 

untrained eye becomes gradually accustomed to its new 
vocation before it is overtaxed. The matter of eyesight is 
of the first importance in the study of the living bird. Is 
your sight sufficiently good to allow you to exercise it in this 
way ? The birds that you study will not be in the hand, 
but in the bush. 

You may be accustomed to an out-door life, you may 
comprehend at a glance all the details of a landscape, or 
be able to detect a particular flower fields away; but in 
the quest of a bird which is oftentimes on the wing, your 
eyes will be obliged to distinguish certain details in a mov- 
ing object backgrounded by a dazzling sky, and at the next 
moment refocus, to discover a bird, with perhaps very dull 
plumage, who is eluding you by circling in the black shadows 
of the pines. Thus you will be either peering into dim 
recesses or facing the strongest light twenty times to a single 
chance of seeing a bird in a clear light, with his plumage 
accentuated by a suitable background. If you squint and 
cannot face the sun, you must study birds in the museums, 
or learn to know them by their songs alone; a field-glass 
will lengthen the sight, but it will not give the ability to 
endure light. 

Many people think that a bird wears the same plumage 
and sings the same songs all the year round, and expect to 
identify it by some easy and inflexible rule, which shall 
apply to all seasons and circumstances, but this is im- 
possible. 

When the birds come to us in spring they wear their 
perfect and typical plumage and are in the best voice, as 
befits those who are going courting. The male wears the 
most showy, or at least the most distinctly marked coat, and 
is generally slightly larger than the female, except in the 
case of Owls and a few others, where the female is the 
larger. In many families there is very little variation 
between the colouring of the male and female, and at a short 
distance you would probably notice none, except that the 
female is the paler of the two. But sometimes the differ- 
ence is so marked that the novice invariably mistakes the 

4 



THE SPRING SONG. 

female for a bird of another species ; hence the importance 
of describing the plumage of both sexes. 

The Scarlet Tanager has a green mate (there is great wis- 
dom in this — a brilliant brooding bird would betray the 
location of the nest); the female Hummingbird lacks the 
ruby throat of her spouse ; and the wife of the sleek black, 
white, and buff Bobolink wears sober brown. When the 
birds arrive in the spring, these colour distinctions are 
marked ; but after the nesting time, which occurs mostly in 
May and June, a fresh complication arises. The young 
birds on leaving the nest, though fully grown perhaps and 
capable of strong flight, often wear hybrid feathers in which 
the characteristics of both parents are mingled. Soon after 
this time the summer moulting takes place, for the majority 
of birds moult tmce a year. August is the time of this 
moulting. The jubilant love-song ceases, and the birds, 
dishevelled and moping, keep well in the shelter of the trees 
or retreat to the woods, as they are weakened and their 
power of flight is diminished. After the moulting comes 
another disturbing element, not only for the novice, but for 
those well versed in bird ways ; with many birds the colours 
of the spring plumage are either wholly changed or greatly 
modified, and though the song may be in a measure renewed 
for a brief season, it is infrequent and not always true. The 
young birds are now associating with the old and adding 
their attempts at warbling, so that I think the snares that 
Jie in the way of beginning the study of Song-birds after 
midsummer are quite evident. 

The male Bobolink, after moulting, becomes brown like 
the female ; the American Goldfinch, a late moulter, turns a 
dull olive ; but the Bluebird's new feathers are rusty ; many 
Warblers lose their identifying bands and streaks while the 
Baltimore Oriole keeps his flaming feathers. 

After this moulting the bird's life as an individual ceases 
for a season ; he is no longer swayed by sex, but by the flock- 
ing impulse of self-x3reservation, and in this case it is not 
always birds of a feather that flock together. 

In the early spring, when the relaxing touch of the sun is 

6 



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS. 

felt, the second moulting occurs, and the feathers that have 
borne the wear and tear of winter give place to the fresh 
new coat, and the bird throat swells with the Spring Song. 

From a residential standpoint, we have four distinct 
grades of birds to consider: — 

I. The summer residents : Those birds which, coming to 
us in the spring, rear their young, and after shifting 
about somewhat in late summer, retreat more or less 
southward for the winter. 
II. The residents: Comprising those species which are 
represented by individuals all the year round. 

III. The winter residents ; The birds who are inhabitants of 
boreal regions, breeding beyond the northern border 
of the United States, coming only to us in winter, 
and retiring northward at the time of the general 
upward migration. 

lY. The migrants : Birds that are with us for a few weeks 
in spring, en route from the south to their more 
northern breeding haunts, and are also visible for a 
similar period during the return trip in autumn. We 
may class with these the casual visitors that appear 
for a brief visit either summer or winter. 

The two movements of bird life in spring and fall are 
known as the great migrations, some birds being plentiful 
in spring and quite rare in the autumn, and vice versa, as 
the path chosen for the upward and downward trip may not 
be the same. The individuals belonging to these classes will 
be specified in turn, and they are mentioned here to show 
you that if you do not begin the bird-quest in spring, in time 
to meet the army of migrants, you may miss some of the 
most interesting species. 

Conspicuous among the birds that lodge with us in April 
and May, letting us hear their song for a brief period, is the 
great Fox Sparrow, the White-throated and White-crowned 
Sparrows, the group of lovely Warblers, and, best of all, 
the Hermit Thrush, whose heavenly notes of invocation, if 
once heard, are never forgotten. 

6 



THE SPRING SONG. 

If you are ready for this quest when the sun crosses the 
equinox the 21. of March, you will be in good time, and 
your labours will be lightened by studying the birds as they 
come one by one, hearing each voice in a solo, before all have 
gathered in late May and individual notes blend in the 
chorus. In this locality there is very little general upward 
movement before the vernal equinox, for the weather is too 
capricious. A few Song Sparrows and Bluebirds begin to 
sing, but the Yellowbirds that have wintered with us are 
still wearing their old coats, and have not broken into song. 
Last spring (1894) I noted in my diary the return of the 
Song Sparrows March 5, but the flocks of Bluebirds and 
Kobins did not come until the 13. when a flock of a hun- 
dred or more Fox Sparrows also arrived, and the White- 
throated Sparrows followed them. 

The birds oftentimes arrive singly or by twos or threes, 
and then again suddenly in great flocks. One afternoon 
there may not be a White-throat in sight, the next morning 
they will be feeding upon the ground like a drift of brown 
leaves. Almost all birds migrate at night, and every dawn 
will show you some new arrival, pluming and drying his 
feathers in the first rays of the sun. Birds who depend 
upon insect diet, like the Phoebe, the commonest of the fly- 
catchers, may arrive too soon, before insect life has quick- 
ened, and suffer much through their miscalculation. Often 
the appearance of individuals of a species does not indicate 
the beginning of the general return, as they may be birds 
that have not gone far away, but have merely been roving 
about all winter. 

From the last of March until the first of June the spring 
migration is in full swing, some of the earlier birds to arrive 
will have passed on, before the Tanagers and Black-polls, 
and other late Warblers, appear. The last week of May the 
Spring Song is at its height ; let us look at the order in which 
the singers begin and end their daily music. 

You must be up in the long twilight that precedes dawn, 
if you wish to hear the little precentor — the Chipping 
Sparrow — give the signal on his shrill pitch pipe. Then 

7 



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS. 

the Song Sparrow sounds his reveille of three notes and a 
roulade — *' Maids, maids, maids, put your kettle-ettle on.'' 
The Robin answers with his clarion notes, and the Bluebird, 
mildly plaintive, seems to regret that the quiet night is 
past, and sighs — " Dear, dear, think of it, think of it." 
Then the various Swallows begin their twitterings, and the 
Chimney Swift redoubles his winged pursuit of insects, and 
the Purple Martins, rising in pairs, coquette in mid-air, and 
their cheerfid warble seems to drop from the clouds. As it 
becomes light, the Phoebe joins his "Pewit, phoebe-a," with 
the Wood Pewee's — "Pewee, pewee peer," and the Field 
Sparrow whistles and trills somewhat in the key of the 
Chipping Sparrow. Then up from the meadow wells the 
song of the Bobolink, our only bird that rivals the English 
Lark in singing and soaring, pouring out its delicious melody 
with virile fervour, while in the same field the Meadowlark 
rings his bell-like — " Spring o' the year, spring o' the year I " 
and the Indigo Bunting lisps from the briars. 

One by one, the Oriole, the Song and Wood Thrushes, the 
Mourning Dove, Catbird, Towhee, Wrens, Warblers, Chat, 
and the obstreperous Yireos chime in. These are the birds 
that you may hear in your garden and the near-by meadows. 
Down in the lowlands the Red-winged Blackbird " flutes his 
okalee," the Crows keep up an incessant cawing, and in the 
woods between these lands and the marshes, the Herons 
cry; while from the marshes themselves the Snipe call. 
The flocking Sandpipers " peep " from the beach edge, and 
ihe migrating Ducks call as they settle in the flags. 

Above the inland woods the Nighthawk, the Whip-poor- 
will's kinsman, skirling, circles a few times before hiding 
from day. There are Hawk cries, as Cooper's Hawk (the 
dreaded chicken-killer) bears a tender morsel to her nest- 
lings already well fledged, who are in the top of the tall 
hickory, and the Quail whistles " Bob- white ! Poor Bob- 
white ! " the Buffed Grouse clucks henlike, and the Wood- 
cock calls like his brother Snipe. 

It is in these woods, within sound of running water, that 
you may hear the Veery, though he is not so much the bird 

8 



THE SPRING SONG. 

of dawn as of twilight, and in this same spot some day the 
Hermit Thrush may give a rehearsal for your private ear, of 
the music with which he will soon thrill the northern woods. 

This is the Matin Song. When it ceases, you must watch 
for the individual birds as they go to and fro, feeding or 
building, or perching on some favourite twig to sing, either 
to their mates or from pure exultation. From nine o'clock 
in the morning until five in the afternoon, the principal 
singers are the Bobolink, Meadowlark, Vireos; the Red- 
start, who declares that every morsel he swallows is " Sweet, 
sweet, sweeter ! " the Black-throated Green Warbler, who 
flashes his yellow feathers calling, " Will you co-ome, will 
you co-ome, will you?" the sprightly Maryland Yellow- 
throat, who almost beckons as he dashes about laughing, 
" Follow me, follow me " ; the Baltimore Oriole, who alter- 
nately blows his mellow horn or complains querulously ; and 
the Song Sparrow, who sings equally at all times. 

Towards five o'clock the Evensong begins, and the Purple 
Finch, perching in the elm top, warbles in continuous bursts 
— " List to me, list to me, hear me, and I'll tell you, you, 
you," each peal being more vigorous than the last. The 
Wood Thrushes take up their harp-like " Uoli Uoli-, aeo- 
lee-lee," the Vesper Sparrow tunes, the birds of morning 
follow, one by one ; but there are new voices that we did 
not hear in the matinal that continue after the chorus is 
hushed — the Eose-breasted Grosbeak, the Yeery, and the 
Whip-poor-will. 

The Yeery rings his echo notes in the morning also, but 
his evensong is the best ; and, as the dusk deepens, his notes 
have a more solemn quality. The Grosbeak has a sweet, 
rounded, warbling song that it is difficult to render in sylla- 
bles intelligently, but when you hear it in the twilight you 
will know it, because it is unlike anything else. The Mock- 
ingbird is not heard freely as a night singer in this latitude, 
but further south he gives his best song only to the night 
wind; not his mocking, jeering ditty of squeaks and cat- 
calls, but his natural heart-song ; and when you hear it, you 
may listen for the martial note of the Cardinal, who seems 

9 



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS. 

to tell the hours, adding to each — " All's well." Then the 
Whip-poor-will calls, and the Owls answer, hooting, laugh- 
ing, purring, according to the specific note. 

When you go through garden, lane, and wood, on your 
happy quest, circling the marshes that will not yield you 
foothold, remember that if you wish to hear the Spring Song 
and identify the singers, you must yourself be in tune, and 
you must be alert in keeping the record, lest the troop slip 
by through the open doorway of the trees, leaving you to 
regret your carelessness all the year. 

As you listen to the song and look at the birds, many will 
disappear, and you will know that these are the migrants 
who have gone to their various breeding haunts ; and that 
those who are busy choosing their building sites, and are 
carrying straw, clay and twigs, are the summer residents. 
Then you must glide quietly among the trees to watch the 
next scene of the bird year — the building of the nest — 
which is the motive of the Spring Song, and you will feel 
that in truth — 

" Hard is the heart that loveth nought 
In May." 

10 



PLATE 2. 




RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD. 



(See page 194.) 



THE BUILDING OF THE NEST. 

Know'st thou what wove yon woodbird's nest 

Of leaves, and feathers from her breast ? — Emerson. 

May and June are the nesting months. Some impatient 
Bluebirds and Robins begin in April, and the lonely Owls 
and larger Hawks breed even in February and March, while, 
on the other hand, the Goldfinches and Cedar Waxwings 
wait until July ; and other birds, who raise several broods 
in a season, like the Robins, Sparrows, Swallows, and Wrens, 
continue laying through July and straggle into August, but 
the universal song and nesting belong to May and June. 

In early May the singing is wildly spontaneous, the birds 
are unguarded in their movements and constantly show 
themselves ; but when they have mated, a sense of responsi- 
bility comes over the gay minstrels, and they become more 
wary. The soberly clad wife cautions secrecy ; there is so 
much to discuss that must be whispered only in the echo- 
less depths of the branches, for the great question of the 
season, the location of the nest, is to be settled, and quickly, 
too. 

There are many things that the bird couple have to con- 
sider : the home must be within convenient distance of the 
proper food supply; there must be some protection from 
sun and rain, even if it is only a few leaves, or a tuft of 
grass ; and then loom up the enemies to be avoided, — birds 
of prey, squirrels, snakes, and man. Of the four, the birds 
seem to dread man the least, and are constantly appealing 
to him, and taking him into their confidence as a protector 
against the others. Poor little birds! they do not realize 
that man with all his higher intelligence is really the most 
relentless of all. The other enemies kill for food only, man 
kills for food casually, for decorative feathers wantonly, and 

11 



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS. 

for scientific research plausibly, with the apology that the 
end and aim is knowledge. Are not the lives of hundreds 
of song-birds a high price for the gain of a doubtful new 
species, which only causes endless discussion as to whether 
it really is a species or merely a freak ? One ornithologist 
proudly makes the record that, in the space of less than 
three weeks, he shot fifty-eight Eose-breasted Grosbeaks, 
to ascertain their average article of diet, and this slaughter 
was in the breeding season ! There is also the stubbornly 
ignorant farmer, who measures only by dollars and cents 
and sets his hand against all birds, because half a dozen 
kinds in the excess of their friendliness invite themselves 
to supper in his berry patch, and think that no perch is so 
suitable for their morning singing as a cherry tree in June. 

Now is the time to study all the best attributes of bird 
life, the period when we may judge the birds by our own 
standard, finding that their code of manners and morality 
nearly meets our own. We see them as individuals having 
the same diversity of character as people of different nations, 
and it is in the homes that we can best see their ruling 
instincts. Each bird now has a mind of his own and devel- 
ops his own ideas. He is master of many arts. 

If you wish to see all this, habit yourself in sober colours, 
wear soft, well-tried shoes, and something on your head that 
shall conceal rather than betray your presence, — Mrs. Olive 
Thome Miller's leaf-covered hat is a clever invention. Do 
you realize how large you appear to the bird, whose eyes 
have very many times the magnifying power of our own ? 
Walk gently but naturally, do not step on dry branches, but 
at the same time avoid a mincing gait. Have you not 
noticed in the sick-room, that a light easy tread is far less 
distracting than a fussy tiptoeing? Do not make sudden 
motions, especially of the arms, — a writer has said that birds 
are much more afraid of man's arms than of man himself. 

Go through the lanes where the bushes hedge and the 
trees arch^ thread between the clumps of crabs and briars 
that dot waste pastures, watch every tree and vine in the 
garden, skirt the hay meadows (their owners will hardly let 

12 



THE BUILDING OF THE NEST. 

you tramp through them), for there will be Bobolinks in the 
timothy. Best of all, swing a hammock in the old orchard, 
and, lying in it, you will see and hear so much that, wonder- 
ing greatly, you will agree with Burroughs when he says, 
"I only know that birds have a language which is very 
expressive and which is easily translatable into the human 
tongue." 

After watching the skill that builds the nest, it is dif- 
ficult to overestimate the individual beauty of some of the 
structures. Comparatively few, outside of the charmed cir- 
cle, know the diversity of form and materials shown in nest 
building, and the wonderful adaptability of both, by the 
bird, to its special needs. 

The length of time which a nest remains in use varies 
with different birds. Burroughs says in the chapter on 
Birds' Nests, in his perennial " Wake Eobin," ^ " The birds 
may be divided, with respect to this and kindred points, into 
five general classes. Eirst, those that repair or appropriate the 
last year's nest, as the Wren, Swallow, Bluebird, Great- 
crested Flycatcher, Owls, Eagles, Fish Hawks, and a few 
others. Secondly, those that build anew each season, though 
frequently rearing more than one brood in the same nest. 
Of these the Phoebe-bird is a well-known example. Thirdly, 
those that build a new nest for each brood, which includes 
the greatest number of species. Fourthly, a limited number 
that make no nest of their own, but appropriate the aban- 
doned nests of other birds. Finally, those who use no nest 
at all, but deposit their eggs in the sand, which is the case 
with a large number of aquatic fowls.'^ 

Birds' nests are often regarded as merely aggregations of 
sticks and straws twisted together more or less carelessly ; 
on the whole, rather monotonous, dirty affairs. I know an 
observant farmer who understands all the weather signs 
and a great deal of woodcraft, and spends his year in the 
pasture, field, brush lot, and woods ; but whose ideas of birds' 
nests are purely conventional. He does not call any structure 

1 " Wake Robin," by John Burroughs, Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston 
.and New York. 

13 



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS. 

a nest, unless it follows the pattern of a Kobin's or Sparrow's. 
I asked him one day if there were many kinds of nests in 
his neighbourhood. " Wall," he said, leaning on his axe (for 
it was the wood-chopping season) and giving a reminiscent 
gaze through the brush, "there's plenty o' birds, but, bless 
yer, not half on 'em makes any reg'lar sort o' nests. Sparrers 
and Eobins does, an' Catbirds an' Crows ; but S wallers ony 
makes mud-pies, an' Humbirds jest sets down right where- 
ever they see a round o' moss on a branch, and the warmth 
o' them makes the moss grow up a bit, but I don't call that 
a nest. The Hangbird (Oriole) he strings up a bag in a 
tree, an' them Red-eyed Warblers (Vireos) hooks a mess 
o' scraps in a twig fork, but those ain't real nests : an' tree- 
mice (Nuthatches) don't have none at all, jest stuffs a few 
feathers in a hole, I seen one to-day ; " and after turning 
over his wood he produced an upright branch containing 
the feather-lined bed of the White-breasted Nuthatch. 

Spend a month on the bird-quest, or a week even, and 
your eyes will be opened to the possibilities, and you will 
become alive to the fact, that the feathered race has its 
artisans the same as the human brotherhood. Weavers 
whose looms antedate all man's inventions, masons, car- 
penters, frescoers, decorators, and upholsterers, its skilled 
mechanics, and shiftless, unskilled labourers, and its para- 
sitic tramps, who house their young at the expense of others. 
As for varied materials, — hay, sticks, feathers, hair, moss, 
bark, fur, hog-bristles, dandelion-down, mud, catkins, seed- 
pods, lichens, paper, rags, yarn, and snake skins, are only 
a part of the bird architect's list of usable things. 

You must not hope to identify all the nests possible to 
your locality in a single season, or even in three or four, but 
be always on the watch. If you fail to see the birds build, 
which is the easiest and surest way of knowing the nest, 
when the autumn comes and the leaves fall away many 
nests will be revealed in places where you never thought 
they existed, and you will learn where to look another 
season. If these nests are of marked types, you can iden- 
tify them even in the autumn, and it will give you a new 

14 



THE BUILDING OF THE NEST. 

interest in the waning season ; something to look for in the 
naked woods, a motive for winter walks. Though many of 
the frailer structiu-es melt away or are torn down by high 
winds, the more carefully woven ones often remain over the 
winter. 

On looking out one morning last January, after a night 
when a light, thawing snow had been followed by a sharp 
freeze, I was surprised and fascinated by the appearance 
-of an Oriole's nest which hung from an elm near the house, 
and which had been invisible before. Its gray pocket was 
brimful of soft snow, which was oozing out of the top like 
foam, while the outside was coated with thin ice, which 
accentuated the woven strands and hung down in fantastic 
icicles scintillating in the sun. 

Another winter day I was attracted by seeing a field- 
mouse run from a tuft of grass at the root of a small bush, 
and I found there a nest, presumably that of a Song Spar- 
row, containing two Sparrow eggs and one belonging to the 
Cowbird. The nest had evidently been abandoned on 
account of the alien egg, and it made a convenient hiding- 
place for the mouse, who had nibbled at the eggs and found 
their contents dried away. In the autumn and winter you 
may appropriate the nests you find, and examine and pull 
them apart with a freedom which, if indulged in during the 
spring or early summer, would give many a bird the heart- 
ache and an added distrust of bipeds. 

Do you remember the January entry in Thoreau's 
journal? "Another bright winter's day, to the woods to 
see what birds' nests are made of." 

Now if you are interested, awake, and clear-eyed, go out 
as I have said, and I will lead you, figuratively, telling you 
what you may find as a foretaste. Begin near at home ; go 
through the garden first, then to the nearest field and the 
bit of marsh-bordered wood. Do not go further than where 
you may walk without ceremony or fuss. Never make a 
laborious tour of the bird-quest, or think that you must live 
in a tent remote from people, in order to name the majority 
of our every-day birds. 

15 



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS. 

My first tramping-ground was the garden, enclosing eight 
acres of varied land, flowers, brush, open, plenty of trees, 
deciduous and evergreen, and a little pool of clear water. 
During the seasons of which I have the record forty species 
of birds have nested within its borders, and oftentimes many 
pairs of the same species ; for example, as last year, when 
the garden sheltered five pensile nests of the Red-eyed 
Vireo. These forty nests were located in the following 
manner : — 

Bobin : In vines, hedge, and trees. 
Wood Thrush : Spruces, bushes. 
.Catbird : Syringa bushes, and other shrubs. 
Bluebird : Hole in old tree and bird-house. 
Wren : Little houses and in outbuildings. 
Yellow Warbler : Apple tree and elder bushes. 
Maryland Yellow-throat : Tall grass and bushes. 
Chat : Barberry bush. 
Bedstart: Spruces. 
Tanager : Swamp oak. 
Barn Swallow : Hay loft. 
Purple Martin : Bird-house. 

Bed- eyed Vireo : Sugar-maple, apple tree, and birches. 
White-eyed Vireo: Beech. 
English Sparrow : Everywhere, until banished. 
Purple Finch : Old quince-hedge. 
Goldfinch : Sugar-maples. 
Vesper Sparrow : Smoke-bush. 
Grasshopper Sparrow : Under small spruce. 
Song Sparrow : In many places, — hedge, bushes, ground. 
Chipping Sparrow : High in evergreens, also in shrubs. 
^ield Sparrow : Meadow-sweet bush. 
Towhee : On ground under a wild grape tangle. 
Coiobird : Eggs found in the nests of a dozen different birds, particu- 
larly the Song Sparrow's. 
Orchard Oriole : Old apple tree. 
Baltimore Oriole : Elms on lawn. 
Crow : Top of spruce. 
Kingbird : In pear tree. 

Phoebe : On beams in shed, also on bracket supporting the porch. 
Chimney Swift : In brick-chimney. 
Hummingbird : Cedars, elm, beech, and high in a spruce. 
Yellow-billed Cuckoo : Wild tangle of vines, etc. 

, 16 



THE BUILDING OF THE NEST. 

Flicker : Sassafras and hickory. 
Hairy Woodpecker: Hickory. 
Mourning Dove : White pines. 
Quail : Under a thick, wild hedge. 
Screech Owl : Hollow sassafras. 
Barred Owl (only once) : In a sycamore. 
Cedar-bird : Old cherry tree. 

You may add to these, as nests perfectly possible to 
find, those of the birds of marshy-edged meadows, — the 
Bobolink, Meadowlark, and the Ked-winged Blackbird; 
the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, nesting in bushy pastures ; the 
White-bellied Swallow of bird-boxes and hollow trees ; the 
Bank Swallow, who burrows holes in railroad cuts, river 
and other sand-banks, where you may also discover the 
Kingfisher's home. In the river and creek marshes you 
will find the torch-shaped nests of the Long-billed Marsh- 
wren and the tussock nests of the Sharp-tailed Finch and 
the Seaside Sparrow. In swampy woods you may discover 
a heronry, or at least some single nests of the Green Heron, 
or the familiar Black-crowned Night Heron ; and, perhaps, 
in some great tree leaning over the water you will see the 
huge platform-nest of the Osprey. The Marsh Hawks, 
Least Bittern, and Marsh Owls choose similar locations, 
and in the heart of the fresh-water marshes the Clapper 
and Virginia Rails, the Spotted Sandpiper and Woodcock, 
breed, though the latter more frequently nests in dry woods 
near a swamp. 

Inland woods, especially if traversed by a stream, will 
yield countless nests : on the ground, the Veery's, the Oven- 
bird's hut, and the Ruffed Grouse's heap of leaves ; above, in 
the trees, nests of the Blue Jay, Yellow-throated and War- 
bling Vireo, and the White-breasted Nuthatch. In drier 
woods the Blue- winged Warbler builds upon the ground; 
and the Black-throated Green Warbler nests in the hem- 
locks ; while in high rocky woods you will see the eggs of 
the Whip-poor-will and Nighthawk, lying in depressions of 
the ground, and with your glass discern the nests of Hawks 
and Owls in the tree tops. 

o 17 



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS. 

" I am poorly situated ; there are no birds in my vicinity 
except Kobius and Wrens," you say. Nonsense ! it is impos- 
sible. You make me feel as Dean Hole, the genial ecclesias- 
tical rose-grower did when certain lazy amateur gardeners, 
after admiring his rose garden, said that they could not 
grow roses because their soil was unsuitable, exclaiming, 
" Oh, what a garden yours is for roses ! Old Mr. Drone, our 
gardener, tells us he never saw such soil as yours nor so bad 
a soil as ours for roses." And the Dean dryly exclaimed, 
" Herein lies a fact in horticulture, — Mr. Drone always has 
a bad soil." 

Get the best possible results from your limited area, and 
if it is anything better than a back yard, you need not be 
discouraged. The difficulty wdth us Americans is that we 
are accustomed to a limitless extent of country, and scram- 
ble carelessly over it, in our amateur scientific investiga- 
tions, as well as in other ways, instead of thoroughly 
studying home first. If the English naturalists ranged as 
wildly as we do, they would exhaust the island, and fall off 
the edge in a month. White, of Selborne, has left us a 
book that is classic, from his knowledge of one county, and 
our Thoreau has given us the perfect literature of wood- 
craft from his intimate knowledge of a comparatively small 
area. 

The first nest that you will probably find, and one that 
will confront you at every turn, will be the Robin's. Com- 
mon, rough in structure, and anything but pretty, it is a 
type nevertheless; being partly made of sticks and lined 
with clay, it is a combination of carpentry and masonry. 
The Wood Thrush also uses mud in a similar manner, but 
builds more neatly. Sparrows you will find lodged every- 
where, — in the hedge, under bushes, by thick grass tufts, 
— their individual nests being so much alike that it is diffi- 
cult to distinguish them apart. Dried grass and fine roots 
are the chief materials used by them, with the exception of 
the little Chipping Sparrow, who combines horsehair and 
pine-needles with the grasses, which, together with its 
delicacy and small size, identify the nest. 

18 



THE BUILDING OF THE NEST. 

Kext comes the Catbird, with a twig lattice, and the 
Wren, with a feather-lined pile in the little house provided 
for her ; or, lacking the house, she uses an old hat or boot 
leg, instead. The Thrasher chooses a stout bush, and tosses 
together a bunch of grape-vine bark, sedge grass, and strong 
tendrils, in a way to correspond with his bravura music. 
The Purple Finch sets his large, sparrow-like nest in a high 
bush ; you must visit it often, for you will always hear good 
music close by. 

The Flicker utilizes a soft place in the swamp maple, 
boring his nest hole with great accuracy ; the Yellow War- 
bler and Hummingbird strip the soft wool that wrapped 
the big, juicy Osmunda ferns in their winter sleep. The 
Warbler mixes the fernwool with cobwebs and milkweed 
flax, taking it to the apple tree; while the Hummingbird 
bears his load to a mossed cedar branch, and rounds a two- 
inch nest, blending it with the branch until it looks merely as 
if lichens had encrusted a raised knot hole. Next you will 
admire the work of the weavers, — the Orioles and Vireos. 
The darned basket of the Orchard Oriole is, perhaps, set 
in the strawberry-apple tree, as if to catch its early fruit ; he 
makes his beak point his shuttle ; as Coues says, antedating 
Elias Howe, who invented a needle with the eye at the 
point ; and the Baltimore Oriole treads flax from old milk- 
weed stalks, gathering his string far and near. The Balti- 
more Oriole builds too well to work quickly ; and the pouch, 
sometimes eight inches deep, swings freely and firmly from 
its branch, so placed as to be safe from above and below. 

The Vireos make a little pocket (like a stocking heel set 
between the knitting-needles) which is fastened firmly in 
the fork of a small branch. Woven into it are papers, 
scraps of hornets' nests, and flakes of decayed wood. The 
Solitary Vireo adds hair and fur to his, and the Ked-eyed 
Vireo, the wings of moths and other insects, cocoons, and 
snake skins. It was in the nest of this Vireo, that Hamil- 
ton Gibson found twisted a bit of newspaper, whose single 
legible sentence read: "... have in view the will of 
God." 

19 



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS. 

To go into much detail now may confuse you wholly, and 
you will find that every bird has a description of its haunts, 
nest, and eggs, in its particular division ; this sketch is only 
to show you the possibilities. There is one more nest that 
I must mention, — the prettiest thing that you may ever 
hope to find when on the quest, — the lace hammock of the 
Parula Warbler. You must search for it early in June, in 
remote but rather thin woods, but never very far away from 
running water; often it is on a branch that overhangs a 
stream. Sometimes it will be on a slender birch twig and 
sometimes on the terminal spray of the hemlock-spruce. It 
is suspended lightly, like a watch-pocket with the opening 
on one side, and made of a delicate lace-work from the gray- 
white usnea moss, that grows on old trees. The whole 
fabric swaying in the breeze is the work of the two little 
birds with slate-blue backs and yellow breasts, who are 
watching you so anxiously. No, you must not take it now ; 
it will keep until they are through with it, for it is much 
more durable than it appears. 

The biulding of the nest will raise many questions in your 
mind. Do both birds take part in building? Does the 
female select the site and do the work and the male simply 
supply her with materials ? Very pretty tales are told of 
the rejection of unsuitable stuff by the particular wife of 
a non-discriminating spouse and the consequent squabble. 
Alack ! did not the labour question, as well as that of the 
equality of the sexes, begin as near to Eden as the building 
of the nest ? But in spite of this there are still nests I 

20 



THE WATER-BIRDS. 

With mingled sound of horas and bells, 
A far-heard clang, the Wild Geese fly, 

Storm sent from Arctic moors and fells, 
Like a great arrow through the sky. — Whittier. 

Whex you think of the Water-birds, you say, perhaps, 
that they are uninteresting, have no song, and inhabit 
marshy and desolate places ; the Gulls are picturesque, to be 
sure, but as for the others, Snipe, Rail, and Ducks, they are 
only Game-birds and so much food, of a variety that does 
not particularly suit your palate. This is because you have 
regarded them as mere merchandise, and have never seen 
or considered them as living birds, winging their way over 
the lonely marshes and wind-swept beaches, clad in feathers 
that blend in their hues the sky, the water, the mottled 
sands of the shore, the bronzed splendour of the seaweeds, 
and the opalescence that lines the sea-shell. Though in a 
sense they are songless, their call notes are keyed in harmony 
with the winds that they combat, and the creaking reeds that 
hide their nests, and their signalling cries rise as distinctly 
above the more melodious sounds of Kature as the whistle 
of the distant buoy sounding above the surf. 

The very remoteness of the Water-birds gives them a 
charm for certain natures. They do not build in the garden 
and come about your door craving attention ; you must not 
only go half-way to meet them, but all the way, and that 
too right cautiously. There is an invigorating spice of 
adventure when the bird-quest tends shoreward, whether 
it is the banks of a river or lake that furnishes shelter and 
sustenance alike to the nesting bird and the restless migrant ; 
or the shore of the sea with its possibilities and changing 
moods, — the sea that stretches infinitely on, ribbed by light- 

21 



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS. 

guarded reefs, where the Gulls flock and the Petrels dash 
in the wake of cautious ships, its arms reaching landward 
until the bay, where the Wild Ducks float, laps the shore, 
where the Sandpipers patter ; and creeping on through the 
land as a sluggish creek, traverses the marshes where the 
Eail clamours about his half-floating nest, and finally ming- 
ling with fresh downward currents loses its way among gaunt 
trees, where the Herons and Bitterns build, and is absorbed 
by some low, wood-girt meadow, where the last earth-filtered 
drops make mud, from which the Snipe and Woodcock 
probe their insect food, and give a deeper green to the 
coarse grasses where the Plover pipes. 

The Water-birds have another claim also upon your at- 
tention ; you may study them in autumn and winter, and they 
fill many gaps in the bird year by their presence at seasons 
when the Land-birds are few. The majority of Water- 
birds come to us as migrants, or as winter visitors : the 
Herons, Bitterns, several of the Rails, a few Plovers, and 
Sandpipers breed in our marshes, and the beautiful Wood 
Duck nests in the river copse. When these birds breed, 
however, the high tides and spring-flooded meadows render 
it very difficult to approach the nests, or to gain a satisfac- 
tory knowledge of the birds themselves, and the same diffi- 
culty obtains in watching the migrants on their upward 
course. But in autumn the conditions are changed, espe- 
cially in seasons of summer drought, and as the Land-birds 
withdraw, one by one, you will have the leisure to go shore- 
ward. 

The Plovers, Rails, and Sandpipers begin to gather in 
early August, and from that time until the rivers and 
creeks are ice coated, the Water-fowls will be passing every 
day, and from twilight until dawn. Various Ducks will go 
over the garden itself, and next day you will find them feed- 
ing in the sluggish marsh pools, where you gathered the cat- 
tail-flags and rose-mallows, or else floating on the mill-pond 
in the place of the summer lilies. 

The Gulls return to the bar and shore islands, from their 
breeding-haunts at the eastern end of the Sound. The old 



THE WATER-BIRDS. 

charcoal burner, coming down from the hills with his dusky 
load, after the first light snow, tells of the Wild Geese that 
passed over his clearing the night before, and settled on the 
Forge Pond, and that when long John Hunt went after 
them in the morning, his gun kicked and knocked him into 
the worse bog hole ; whereupon the whole flock flew away, 
laughing fit to kill themselves ; and adding with a hoarse 
chuckle, "Sarved him right, too; never gives nuthin' he 
gits to neighbours, allers sends 'em to N'York." 

In November and December, the hardy but inedible Sea 
Ducks return from the north, and settle noisily in their 
winter quarters; and all through the fall the lighthouse- 
keeper sends ashore some of the rarer migrants that, dazed 
and storm-blown, have dashed to death against his tower; 
and, as a bird-lover, he will find you out. If, in the autumn 
or early winter, you should chance to spend a little time 
among the lakes, or along the real searcoast, from Massa- 
chusetts southward to the Chesapeake, a new pathway of 
delight will stretch before you, — read of the Searbirds that 
Celia Thaxter entertained at Appledore in her Island Gar- 
den. And now that many people take their outings about 
the eastern shore, overrunning the pleasant islands, you too, 
may see the summer nesting of the Gulls and Terns, birds 
that before you had considered mysterious wanderers from 
the north. 

These Water-birds, that count space as nothing and dis- 
tance the swiftest locomotive in their flight, ever on the 
wing from the very necessities of their existence, always 
bring with them some of the atmosphere of their native 
haunts. The Wild Ducks, hanging in the market-stall, still 
wear on their wings a patch of rainbow colour, as if stamped 
there by the sun and mist through which they took their 
first flight. Call these birds songless, give them any names 
you please, they will remain mysteries, coming out of the 
sky and disappearing again in its horizon, pushing on to 
an invisible haven; because their homes are so remote 
we do not realize that they are like other birds, and we 
forget, when the garden trees are full of nests and sway 

23 



INTRODUCTOEY CHAPTERS. 

with ecstatic music, that the Water-fowl, hastening along at 
twilight, is swayed by the same longings, that they guide 
him surely to his journey's close. 

And soon that toil shall end, 
Soon Shalt thou find a summer home, and rest, 
And scream among thy fellows : reeds shall bend 

Soon o'er thy sheltered nest. — Bktjlht. 
24 



PLATE 4. 







'3^-^ 



SNOWY OWL. 

Length, 20-24 inches. 



(See page 213.) 



BIRDS OF AUTUMN AND WINTER. 

Dimly I catch the throb of distant flails : 

Silently overhead the Hen-hawk sails, 

With watchful, measuring eye and for his quarry waits. 

— Lowell. 

During the last week in August there is a decided stii 
among the feathered folk. The summer residents who have 
been moulting in seclusion for the last month, emerge from 
their retreats and are joined by flocks of others of similar 
species, who have summered further north, and who will 
remain with us for several weeks before beginning their 
downward trip. 

By calling certain species resident, it does not necessarily 
mean that the same individuals remain in one place for the 
entire year. Except in the breeding-season all birds rove 
about, even if they do not absolutely migrate, guided in 
their course by the food supply and the weather. Tbe food 
supply is tbe more potent motive of the two, for many 
insect-eating birds like the Flycatchers and Vireos could 
winter with, us in the protection of hedges and evergreens ; 
but with the coming of frost their food is cut off. Even 
the seed-eating birds, like the hardy Goldfinches, Buntings, 
and Juncos, are often driven to begging about barns and 
granaries when a sudden snow-storm covers the low herbs 
and grasses upon whose seeds they subsist. 

It is during the last week in August that the Baltimore 
Orioles gather, and pipe with an anxious note in their 
voices, as much as to say, " It is very pleasant here still, 
but we must be off before the leaves grow thin and betray 
us to our enemies." The Kingbirds swoop and call, going 
nearer to the house than usual. With September comes the 
first decisive gathering of the bird clans. The Swallows 
flock in the low meadows and on the edge of the beaches, 

25 



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS. 

flying and counter-flying, as if to strengthen their wings for 
the long journey ; hordes of them wintering as far south as 
the Bahamas. The cheery Yellow Warblers disappear from 
the orchards, and the Veery comes from the moist woods 
and scratches in the shrubbery. 

Now you may look for the numerous Warblers as they 
pass ; but you must be alert, for they go silently and may 
only stop for a day. The length of time that migrating 
birds remain varies greatly with different seasons ; during 
some autumns they linger, and then again, without any 
apparent reason, they hurry along, arriving and departing 
sometimes the same night, so that you will be unconscious 
that they have passed at all. 

The most conspicuous summer residents that slip away 
during September, are the Baltimore Orioles, Veeries, Chats, 
Wood Thrushes, Flycatchers, Eose-breasted Grosbeaks, and 
Bobolinks. The Chimney Swifts go in the wake of the 
Swallows, and closely resemble them in habit if not in 
anatomical structure. We miss these birds of the air sadly, 
for their beautiful flights are the great feature of early 
September. The voiceless brown Bobolinks are driven 
from the shelter of the reeds and marsh-grasses by the 
gunners, and in early evening, if you go down the lane, their 
clinking, metallic call can be heard as they fly over. The 
Wood Thrushes leave quietly ; gathering for a week or so 
in low trees, at this season their only note is a dry chirp 
resembling the shaking of peas in a sieve. The last of the 
month the Chickadees emerge and become prominent, and 
the Juncos arrive in straggling flocks. 

The Kobins flock in great numbers, and occasionally give 
a sweet, reminiscent song; the Bluebirds are legion and 
bustle about, calling, as Burroughs says they do in autumn, 
"Bermuda! Bermuda!" The Goldfinches are no longer 
yellow, but you can always distinguish them by their dip- 
ping flight. Purple Grackles and Ked-winged Blackbirds 
are also gathering, and the Wrens are peeping in and out, 
but they have forgotten how to scold. The scanty music 
is furnished chiefly by the faithful Song Sparrow, the 

26 



BIRDS OF AUTUMN AND WINTER. 

Purple Finch, and the Chicadee; there are individuals of 
every species who do a little autumn singing, but it is heard 
only from solitary voices. 

Meanwhile, the tiny Kuby-crowned Kinglet, and the 
Myrtle, Palm, and Bay-breasted Warblers make us a visit, 
and the Brown Creeper, Black and White Warblers, and 
White-breasted Nuthatches circle the trees. 

By the first of October, the Blue Jays have returned from 
the deep woods where they nested, and are in full scream, as 
is their wont. Hermit Thrushes come and go, together with 
the Thrashers. The Tanagers disappear, and the Vireos one 
and all are packing their belongings. The lively Eed-eyed 
Vireo, who has preached and laughed at you all summer 
from the maples, is taking a farewell peep under every bit 
of loose bark, determined not to leave one insect behind. 
You miss the Catbirds also, and in looking for them you 
will find an occasional Pine Finch or Winter Wren. Quail 
and Buffed Grouse (Partridge) scramble furtively along road- 
sides and through the stubble fields, and the Osprey fishes 
more boldly. 

All the while the various Warblers are trooping by, young 
and old together ; if you have not recognized them in 
spring, you will be sadly puzzled now. The White-throated 
Sparrows hop along the paths, giving a few sweet notes, — " Pe- 
peabody-peabody-peabody," — but without the springtime 
fervour, and the rarer White-crowned Sparrows show them- 
selves warily. In fact, the greater part of this family are 
on the move, and even the ranks of Song Sparrows are 
thinning. The Black-throated Green and the Black-throated 
Blue Warblers come about the spruces again; the Phoebes 
vanish and the trim Towhee no longer hops jauntily among 
the briars. If there is an early frost the flocks go quickly, 
but otherwise all the birds linger. We have Hummingbirds 
here in the garden through October, unless the weather is 
very gusty ; for I think that all birds dread wind more than 
cold. 

The third week of October sees the last of the Golden- 
crowned Thrushes and Maryland Yellow-throats, the Fox 

27 



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS. 

Sparrows pay a flying visit, and the Red-breasted Nuthatches 
settle down. Even if there has been no hard frost, Novem- 
ber is sure to bring it, and then in the afterglow, the illusive 
Indian summer, we begin to realize that the song-birds 
have left us. Grackles we have and Meadowlarks, but the 
Robins and Bluebirds are diminishing, and after the middle 
of November the birds that you see may safely be called 
winter residents. 

The Blue Jay becomes very conspicuous now, and in late 
November walks you will constantly see his pointed crest, 
while his harsh notes no longer jar upon your ear, but sound 
companionable. Most likely he is nutting, and jeering and 
laughing at the squirrels who are filling their paunches 
under the same tree. If, however, " he laughs best who 
laughs last," the squirrels have decidedly the best of it, for 
they frequently find the holes where the Jays hide their 
plunder and rob them. 

Golden-crowned Kinglets, with their dainty little heads 
on one side, peep into every crevice in the apple trees, giving 
a shrill, wiry call, the Winter Wrens are settled in their old 
quarters about the woodpile, Pine Warblers come in bus- 
tling flocks. White-throated Sparrows appear at rare intervals, 
and three, at least, of the Woodpeckers. 

If December is moderately snowy and not too cold, you 
will see a distinct change even among the winter residents. 
The Horned Larks become quite tame, and together with 
the Meadowlarks keep near the upland farms, and if the 
rivers are free from ice the Kingfisher still constitutes him- 
self their guardian. The Tree Sparrow takes the place that 
the Chipping Sparrow filled in summer, resembling it both in 
appearance and note, and the Cedar-birds come from their 
warm coverts and feast upon the remaining berries which 
are now completely ripe and soft. 

The Shrike is in his element seeing his victims afar 
through the leafless trees, the Hawks grow bold and circle 
over the meadows by the hour, and the Barred Owl, with 
strange blue-black eyes, leaves the wood with the Great 
Horned Qwl, to forage in the brush and in open pastures. 

28 



BIRDS OF AUTUMN AND WINTER. 

If you hear a snapping noise in the pines do not think that 
it is merely the cones springing open, for you will find a 
small flock of Red Crossbills, whose warped beaks seem 
particularly adapted to tearing the scales from the cones 
and liberating the pungent seeds. Middle December is the 
time for the showy Fine Grosbeaks, whose stout bodies and 
brilliant colouring at once reveal their identity; they are 
sometimes abundant here but usually straggle about in pairs ; 
and great flocks of the hardy American G-oldfinches may be 
seen if seed-bearing plants are not buried up by the snow. 
The Crows are very hungry and prowl around the stacks of 
dry corn stalks, going to the shore for clams and diift scraps, 
and returning at night to their inland cedar roosts. This is 
the season that you may successfully give them poisoned 
corn, thus justly killing some of these cannibals who create 
6uch havoc every spring among the nests of our Song-birds. 

An occasional Purple Finch flies out of the evergreens, 
though it is a difficult bird to recognize at this season, and the 
Pine Siskin constantly flits in and out, swinging itself under 
the cones and terminal sprays like an acrobat, and this is the 
time for Snow Buntings and the little Eedx3oll Linnets. If 
there are severe storms in the month, accompanied by north- 
east gales, many of these birds appear on the very crest of 
the storm, and when it ceases troop from the evergreens in 
a half-famished condition, searching for bare places where a 
few seeds may be found. The Eedpoll feeds in the same 
localities and in the same manner as the American Gold- 
finch, and, having a similar call note, it is quite easy, at a 
little distance, to mistake one for the other. 

Now you may catch a glimpse of the great Snow Owls. 
You will be more likely to find them back of the shore, 
along the line of salt marshes and woody stubble, than 
further inland. The marshes do not freeze so easily or 
deeply as the iron-bound uplands, and field-mice are more 
plentiful in them. This alert and powerful Owl is so fleet 
of wing that he can follow and capture a Snow Bunting or 
a Junco in its most rapid flight if his appetite is whetted. 
Woodpeckers have mostly drifted southward, and this is the 

29 



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS. 

time of greatest hardship for all birds that depend in any- 
way upon insect food. The Robins leave, except for a few 
individuals ; the Quails come from the brush and feed with 
the Meadow and Horned Larks. The four resident Hawks 
— the Sharp-shinned, Cooper's, the Red-tailed, and Red- 
shouldered — are now the only inhabitants of the woods and 
remote pastures; there is something invigorating in the 
way in which they sail through the lonely air. Food is 
very scarce, mice are snowed under, rabbits do not ven- 
ture far from their burrows, and it is too early for young 
chickens. Besides, the farmer's vnie, knowing Hawk ways, 
keeps her poultry safely guarded in a sunny place in view of 
the kitchen window. Alas ! for the flocks of Snow Buntings 
that have been tempted too far afield. Every time a Hawk 
swoops, and dropping suddenly wheels back to its perch, 
there is one Bunting less to return to its boreal birthplace. 
The Shrike drops on his prey with the thud and click of the 
guillotine ; the Hawk flashes through the air with the curv- 
ing sweep of the scimiter. 

The Brown Creeper is seen daily winding about the tree 
trunks ; if it is severely cold and there is much ice he only 
comes at mid-day and works on the sunny side of the tree, 
while his friends, the Chickadees, call encouragingly to him. 
January, with us, is the month of all the year that comes the 
nearest to being birdless; there are days when not even a 
Crow is seen ; then a mild streak follows, and the murmur- 
ings of the Chickadees, Bluebirds, and Goldfinches give cheer, 
and if you tie some bits of fat meat or well-covered bones to 
the branches of a tree in a sheltered spot you will be sur- 
prised at the number of visitors that will come to dine. 

With February the days begin to lengthen visibly, and a 
reaction sets in. There is a return movement among the 
Robins, who have gone but a short distance southward, and 
the Buntings travel in large flocks. Late in the month a 
thaw brings the Kingfisher back, and at any time you may 
expect to hear the Song Sparrow in his old haunts, — in fact, 
you may have heard him early in the month, or in January 
even, but now it is his spring song, only needing companion- 

30 



BIRDS OF AUTUMN AND WINTER. 

ship and the mellowing effects of mild weather to bring it to 
perfection. 

The Snow Owls are thinking of going northward, unless 
barred by an early March storm, and the Meadowlarks 
that have braved the winter sing a full month before the 
migrating flocks arrive. When March comes in, even if 
it does roar like a lion, a single day may change the charac- 
ter of the bird life about you and you will imagine that the 
Snow Owls, Shrikes, Pine Finches, and Horned Larks are 
under orders to vanish before the spring flocks of Fox Spar- 
rows, Robins, and Bluebirds can appear. But when March 
comes the ear is listening for the Spring Song and the win- 
ter-birds are quickly forgotten, unless you happen to have a 
stuffed Owl to preside in solemn silence in your library, per- 
forming its mission of looking wise quite as well as a piece 
of bric-a-brac as it did in life. Is not the Owl's general 
immobility the reason why it was chosen for the pet of the 
Goddess of Wisdom ? Doubtless her ancient ladyship knew 
that her protege would never take the trouble to contradict 
her and never express a decided opinion, and thus would 
pass for the incarnation of knowledge. 

Winter is the only season when you may point a gun at a 
bird, and then never at a Song-bird, but you may do these a 
favour by shooting some of their enemies, the bad English 
Sparrows, and one or two Hawks and Owls. Yet you must 
spare both Hawks and Owls with these exceptions, since Dr. 
A. K. Fisher has given conclusive evidence of their value to 
agriculture. 

Never shoot even a Game-bird, or Wild Duck, merely for 
the sake of killing, and remember when on the bird-quest to 
keep your hands free from all destruction of life, so that you 
may answer in the affirmative the question, — 

" Hast thou named all the birds without a gun ? " 



dl 



HOW TO NAME THE BIRDS. 




'O./ 









HOW TO NAME THE BIRDS. 



In studying the birds as you see them about you, try to 
acquire the habit of gauging the size, general colour, and 
poise at a glance, gaining the details, if possible, afterward. 
Impress upon yourself the location in which you saw the 
bird, its occupation, its method of feeding, whether, if upon 
the ground, it walked or hopped. Was it dashing through 
the air or skimming low over the meadows, uttering a twit- 
tering cry and turning and curving sharply as it caught 
insects in its wide mouth ? If so, you must look for it in 
the Swallow Family. 

Was it a brown or olive-backed bird somewhat of the 
build of the Eobin but smaller, with a light-coloured breast 
more or less speckled, scratching among the bushes for the 
insects upon which it feeds ? You must look for it in the 
Thrush Family, and if you do not place it there search 
among the Ground Warblers. Or was it a tiny olive- 
gray bird that caught your eye as it peeped about the twigs 
of the orchard trees in the autumn, turning its head and 
looking at you sidewise, showing every now and then its 
gold and scarlet crest? Then you must look among the 
Kinglets. 

If you keep a note-book and pencil in your pocket when 
you are on the bird-quest, many particulars can be jotted 
down to refresh your memory when consulting the reference 
book. In rapidly gauging the size of a particular bird do 
not think in inches, but compare it mentally with some bird 
that is familiar to you. Say to yourself. Is it as large as a 
Eobin, a Bluebird, or a Chippy ? 

36 



HOW TO NAME THE BIRDS. 

Bead the Synopsis of Bird Families ^ to gain an idea of 
their groupings, and if you fail to locate your bird in this 
way go through the Key ^ very slowly, not jumping hastily 
at conclusions, but following every reasonable clue. It is im- 
possible to make such a key absolutely trustworthy, when 
it is necessarily based upon the more superficial qualities, 
and is arranged to guide those who rely upon impressions 
of colour gained from a bird, perhaps many feet distant. 

In condensing the attributes of each bird into a reference 
table to precede its biography, its length in inches is given 
as a means of comparison, especially in referring to the 
illustrations ; for in adapting the bird portraits from many 
sources it has been impossible to grade them according to a 
mathematical scale. In these tables I have endeavoured to 
give only such broad descriptions of plumage as shall be 
recognizable with a field-glass, noting the difference in colour- 
ing between male and female when it is at all marked, 
and giving when possible the accentuated value of the song 
and call notes in syllables. Not that any literal meaning 
may be attributed to them, but that the sound of these 
syllables, when repeated aloud, may aid in identifying the 
song with the singer. Critics who do not understand the 
motive of this syllabication, call it nonsense, and consider 
it merely a sentimentalist's attempt to make the birds talk. 
I only know that it has been a great help to me, and that 
:t has aided many people who depend even more upon the 
ear than the eye in their study of birds. Thoreau and 
Emerson understood it thoroughly, and Burroughs has 
formulated much of the language, so that it does not lack 
champions. 

The seasons of bird migration, or residence, are in accord- 
ance with records of this part of New England (southern 
Connecticut), both from the notes of Eev. James Linsley, 
Mr. C. K. Averill of Bridgeport, and others, and also from 
my own diaries. Allowance must therefore be made by 
those living further north or south, as in the spring migra- 
tion birds will arrive in Delaware two weeks earlier than in 

1 Page 43. 2 Page 281(1). 

36 



HOW TO NAME THE BIRDS. 

Connecticut, and in Maine not for a week or two later. The 
breeding-haunts are indicated, and the nest and eggs men- 
tioned, when they are either accessible to the student, or, 
when belonging to northern latitudes, of special interest. 
The range of the bird for the year is taken from the Check- 
list of the American Ornithologists' Union, which is the 
acknowledged authority. The nomenclature is also that of 
the A. 0. U. Check-list, the first English name and the 
Latin title being according to its tenets. In some cases I 
have added one or more English names, because they are 
universally understood and are more or less used in the 
manuals and state publications. 

In modern science, classification follows the method of 
natural evolution, grading from the lowest forms to the 
highest. Under this system the Diving Water-birds should 
head the list, and the Thrush Family of Song-birds end it. 
Some time ago a different system obtained, that of beginning 
with the highest orders and descending in the scale, and 
the birds in this book are so arranged. The reason for doing 
this is that it presents the Song-birds first, and it is to these 
that you will be first attracted, and, finding many of them 
familiar, you will be led by easy stages to the Birds of Prey 
and the Water-birds, which probably you have had less 
chance to know. If, however, you prefer to habituate your- 
self to the more modern method, all that you have to do is 
to begin at the end of the book and work backward. 

The two hundred birds chosen for description from the 
A. O. U. list of over nine hundred species of North Ameri- 
can Birds are selected as being those which will be the most 
likely to interest bird-lovers living in the temperate parts 
of the country, and especially in the Middle and Eastern 
States. If birds are included that are rarer (in other locali- 
ties) than species that are omitted, it is owing to marked 
characteristics or some interesting traits of the particular 
birds. 

The mazes, of classification are omitted. As a novice who 
wishes to recognize the birds by sight, you have no need of 
their services beyond learning the English and Latin names 

37 



HOW TO NAME THE BIRDS. 

of the birds, and that of the order and family to which they 
belong; then you must buy a good manual to answer all 
further queries, either Eidgway's,^ Coues's,^ or Chapman's ^ 
will serve your purpose. Kidgway's follows the modern 
method, Coues's is both modern and charming, Chapman's is 
both modern, simple, and comprehensive . It is the same as 
when beginning the study of history : you first wish to learn 
the name of a character, for what he was famous, and how he 
appeared ; then with a distinct realization of the man's per- 
sonality in your mind, you take an interest which, at first, 
would have been impossible, in looking into his ancestry, 
and finding precisely what union of races and families pro- 
duced his particular type. 

Inverted evolution, or working from effect to cause, is the 
simplest way to interest popular attention in any branch of 
science. If people accept a tangible fact and go no further, 
they have at least gained some information ; if they possess 
the thinking-faculty, and desire to find the causes, they 
are one step on the right road. Of course this method, if 
method it can be called, lies open to the charge of superfici- 
ality, and to the saying that " when science and sentiment 
meet, sentiment loses its case." There is, of course, a species 
of maudlin sentiment that is the proverbial cloak of inaccu- 
racy, the variety that weaves touching but perfectly im- 
possible tales and fables about natural facts. This is the 
sentiment that originated the story of the self-sacrifice of 
the Pelican in feeding its young from the blood of its own 
breast. Whereas the Pelican belongs to a class of birds 
who, after taking their food into the crop and partly digest- 
ing it, bring it up again to feed their offspring. The act of 
pressing the bill against the distended crop to dislodge the 
food, sometimes irritates the skin ; hence the conclusion was 
drawn that it drew its own blood. 

1 " A Manual of North American Birds," Robert Ridgway. 

2 "Key to North American Birds," Dr. Elliott Coues, Boston: Estes & 
Lauriat. 

8 " Hand Book of the Birds of Eastern North America," Frank M. Chap^ 
man. New York : D. Appleton & Co. 

38 



HOW TO NAME THE BIRDS. 

There may be also in the study of birds a sentiment that 
is born of fact and accuracy, provable by all scientific re- 
quirements, which will render the bird-quest a recreation, 
and not a mental discipline; being a bridge where those 
who can go no further, may rest and enjoy intelligently the 
beauty and music of the bird world. Of course a little 
learning may be a dangerous thing, but it is only so when 
we overestimate the extent of our limited scope, and try to 
speak a language of which we only know the alphabet. 

Nature is to be studied with the eyes of the heart, as well 
as of the microscope, and ever so scanty a knowledge of our 
feathered brothers helps us to feel that the realms of Nature 
are very near to the human heart and its sympathies, and 
that " the truth of Nature is a part of the truth of God : to 
him who does not search it out, darkness ; to him who does, 
infinity." 



30 



SYNOPSIS OF BIRD FAMILIES. 



SYNOPSIS OF BIRD FAMILIES. 



LAND-BIRDS. 

ORDER PASSERES: PERCHING BIRDS. 

SUB-ORDER OSCINES: SINGING BIRDS. 

The birds of this Order have the most highly complex 
vocal organs, the term Oscines being derived from the 
Latin, signifying those birds whose songs were regarded in 
past times as augural. 

Family Turdidae : Thnishea. Page 57. 
7 Species.i 

Birds of moderate size and stoutish build, bills of mod- 
erate length, sexes of nearly similar plumage. Melodious 
singers, feeding chiefly on the ground. The American 
Kobin and the Bluebird belong to this family. The true 
Thrushes vary through browns and olives on the back, with 
light breasts more or less spotted, and tails that are wider 
at the tip than at the base. Insectivorous birds, also casual 
fruit-eaters. Hoppers. 

Family Sylviidse : Kinglets. Page 68. 
2 Species. 
Very small insectivorous birds, feeding in the trees. 
General tone of plumage olivaceous, with highly coloured 
crown patch. Song, during the spring migration, rich and 
powerful for such small birds. Seen here only in autumn, 
winter, and early spring. 

1 Number of species described. 
43 



SYNOPSIS OF BIRD FAMILIES. 

Family Paridae : Nuthatches and Titmice. Page 71. 
4 Species. 
Birds seen creeping conspicuously about tree trunks, 
especially in autumn and winter, frequently walking head 
downward. The Nuthatches have compactly feathered 
bodies, straight bills, are varied grayish above, with some- 
what ruddy breasts. The Titmice are alert, sprightly little 
birds, with gray, white, and black feathers, one having a crest 
and the other a black cap and white cheeks. They feed also 
about trees. 

Family Certhiidae : Creepers. Page 75. 
1 Species. 
This bird is slender, with a long, sharp bill, much mottled, 
brownish plumage and a long tail. It is seen creeping 
spirally about trees in fall and winter. 

Family Troglodytidae : Wrens, Thrasher, Catbird, etc. Page 76. 

8 Species. 

Insectivorous birds and highly accomplished singers. 
The Wrens are all small, and more or less barred and washed 
with browns, while the tail is usually held erect. The 
Catbird (which really belongs to a sub-family) is dark slate 
with a black cap, the Mockingbird gray and olive, and the 
Thrasher is like a great red-brown Thrush with speckled 
breast, and a long tail with which he continually beats the 
air. 

Family Motacillidae : Pipits, etc. Page 87. 
1 Species. 

American Pipit, Titlark. Brownish bird, with long, pointed 
wings, slender bill, and outer tail-feathers white; seen in 
stubble fields as a migrant in late fall and spring. Peculiar, 
wavering flight. 

Family MniotUtidae : "Wood Warblers. Page 88. 
30 Species. 
Beautifully plumed, graceful birds, which, with the excep- 
tion of a few species, are practically unknown or rather 

44 



LAND-BIRDS. 

unnamed by people in general. These Warblers inhabit 
the woods, feeding among the trees, or, in some species, 
upon the ground. They comprise both migrants and sum- 
mer residents ; of small size, bills slender, shorter than the 
head, wings pointed and usually shorter than the tail. All 
but a few Ground Warblers have brightly coloured or much 
varied plumage, ranging through all shades of olive, yel- 
low, red, orange, brown, and black. They have sweet, lisp- 
ing songs, which are neither full nor varied. The well-known 
Yellow Warbler belongs to this class ; also the Black and 
White Warbler. The exceptions to this rule are the Oven- 
bird, Water Thrush, and the Louisiana Water Thrush, which 
are Ground Warblers, having sober. Thrush-like plumage 
and exquisite voices, and the Chat, which has brilliant 
green and gold plumage and a clear, loud voice, mocking 
and whistling by turns. 

Family Vlreonldae : Vireos. Page 116. 

5 Species. 

Birds of small size, bills hooked at tip — shorter than 
the head. Sexes alike in colouring ; the plumage (remain- 
ing quite constant at all seasons) is generally olivaceous 
above and whitish or yellow below. One species has red 
and one white eyes. All are musical and persistent singers 
of a colloquial type, feeding and singing in orchard or forest 
trees, according to the species. A family easily confused 
with the Warblers, unless its superior vocal abilities are 
remembered. 

Family Laniidas : Shrikes. Page 122. 

1 Species. 

Carnivorous birds, bold, handsome, and quarrelsome, bills 
sharply hooked at end ; general colour gray and black, bris- 
tles at nostrils, and muscular feet. In winter and early 
spring they may be seen perching in the bare trees, where 
they are on the watch for small birds, upon which they prey, 

' 45 



SYNOPSIS OF BIRD FAMILIES. 

Family Ampelidae : "Waxwinga, etc. Page 124. 

1 Species. 

Birds of six or seven inches in length, stout-bodied, head 

with a conspicuous crest ; beautifully soft, quaker plumage, 

tail tipped with yellow, red wax-like tips to the wing coverts, 

straight black bill. Sexes similar ; a resident bird. 

Family Hinmdinidae : Swallows. Page 125. 
5 Species. 

Birds of the air in the fullest sense. " Bill flat, broad, 
triangular." Mouth opening to below the eyes ; long, strong 
wings, small feet, which are seldom used ; broad head and 
stout neck ; the tail more or less forked. Sexes similar ; 
song, a pleasant, twittering warble. The plumage in some 
species is dull, but in others beautifully iridescent above 
and ruddy below. All insectivorous birds and summer 
residents. 

Family Tanagridae : Tanagers. Page 131. 
1 Species. 

A brilliantly coloured family undergoing great changes of 
plumage during the year, the colours of the sexes being 
wholly different, the males having much red about them. 
Bill short, the long, pointed wings exceeding the tail in 
length. 

Family Fringillidae : Finches, Sparrows, etc. Page 133. 

28 Species. 

The largest family of North American Birds, comprising 
one-seventh of all our birds. These birds are true seed- 
eaters, though they feed their young largely on an insectiv- 
orous diet. 

"The bill approaches nearest the ideal cone, combining 
strength to crush seeds with delicacy of touch to secure 
minute objects." (Dr. Coues.) The family contains birds 
of every size and colour, sexes either similar or unlike, — 
Finches, Buntings, Linnets, Grosbeaks, Crossbills, and Spar- 
rows, whose traits it is impossible to describe in general terms, 

46 



LAND-BIRDS. 

Family Icteridae : Blackbirds, Orioles, etc. Page 166. 

8 Species. 
Forming a link between the Finch and Crow families and 
containing, beside Blackbirds and Orioles, the Meadowlark, 
Bobolink, and Cowbird. Sexes unlike. All species but the 
Orioles have large, muscular feet adapted to walking, and 
feed on or near the ground. They are both seed and insect 
eaters, and vary much in size and colour. The predominat- 
ing hues are black, white, orange-red, and what Dr. Coues 
calls a "niggled pattern" of brown in the Meadowlark. 
Musically the species are divided, half being highly vocal 
and half casually so. 

Family Corvidae : Crows, Jays, etc. Page 177. 
3 Species. 

The Crows are large black birds, having bills as long 
as the head, stout feet suitable for walking, pointed wings 
longer than the tail, appearing saw-toothed in flight. Gre- 
garious ; sexes alike. The Jays are a great contrast to the 
Crows, being crested and having conspicuous plumage in 
which blue predominates. Both Crows and Jays are partly 
carnivorous, and though having harsh voices, moderate them 
to a not unpleasing song in the breeding season. 

Family Alaudidae : Larks. Page 180. 
1 Species. 
True Larks, kin of the European Skylark, and not to be 
confused with Meadowlarks or Titlarks. Our species, a 
Shore Lark, seen here only in the fall and winter, is highly 
musical in the breeding-season. It has very long, straight 
hind claws, long, pointed wings, and two slender, feathered 
ear tufts that give it the name of Horned Lark. 

SUB-ORDER CLAMATORES: SONGLESS PERCHING BIRDS. 

Birds with but poorly developed singing apparatus, the 
vocal muscles being either small or few. 

47 



SYNOPSIS OF BIRD FAMILIES. 

Family Tyrannidse : Tyrant Flycatchers. Page 182. 
8 Species. 
Insectivorous birds of small and medium size, with, or 
without erectile crests, having broad bills tapering to a 
sharp point, and large mouths. Colouring ranging from 
brown to olive-gray, with yellow washes on the breast. 
Usually having harsh voices, one or two species, however, 
possessing plaintive call notes. To be distinguished from 
other birds of a general, similar appearance, who pursue 
insects upon the wing by the " habit of perching in wait for 
their prey upon some prominent outpost, in a peculiar atti- 
tude, with the wings and tail drooped and vibrating in readi- 
ness for instant action ; and of dashing into the air, seizing 
the passing insect with a quick movement and a click of the 
bill, and then returning to their stand.'^ (Dr. Coues.) 

ORDER MACROCHIRES: WHIP-POOR-WILLS, 
SWIFTS, ETC. 

Family CaprimulgiddB : Whip-poor-wills, Night-hawks, etc. 

Page 190. 

2 Species. 
Medium-sized, heavy birds with long wings, short, thick 
heads and gaping, bristly mouths, taking their insect food 
on the wing (the Whip-poor-will is strictly nocturnal in 
habit). When at rest they either perch lengthwise on a 
branch or sit on the ground. 

Family Micropodidae : Swifts. Page 193. 
1 Species. 
The bird known commonly as the Chimney Swallow, but 
which is in reality a Swift and closely allied to the Night- 
hawk, being a nocturnal as well as diurnal feeder. 

Family Trochilidae : Hummingbirds. Page 194. 
1 Species. 
Very small birds, with long, needle-like bills, small feet, 
iridescent green plumage (ruby throat in male), and rest- 
less, darting flight. Feeding among flowers. 

48 



LAND-BIRDS. 

ORDER PICI: 'WOODPECKERS. 

Family Picldae : "Woodpeckers. Page 196. 

5 Species. 

Birds of small and medium size, feeding as they creep 
around the branches and trunks of trees. They are of 
stocky, compact build, with strong, straight bills (one species 
has a slightly curving bill), mottled and variegated plumage, 
and red markings about the head. To be distinguished from 
other creepers by their superior size, and the fact that they 
seldom, if ever, walk head downward. 

ORDER COCCYGES: CUCKOOS. 

Family Cuculidge : Cuckoos. Page 202. 
2 Species. 

Medium-sized tree-birds, with softly-tinted gray and brown- 
ish plumage, most noticeable at the time of apple blossoms, 
when they feed upon the nests of the tent-caterpillar. 

Family Alcedinidae : Kingfishers. Page 204. 
1 Species. 

Common birds of streams and ponds. Head crested, long 
bill. Lead blue plumage above, light breast banded with 
blue. Seen perching on stumps and dead trees over the 
water watching for fish. 

ORDER RAPTORES: BIRDS OP PREY. 

Family Strigidae : Barn Owls. Page 206. 

1 Species. 

Family Bubonidae : Homed Owls. Page 207. 

7 Species. 
Stoutly-built birds, varying in length from eight inches 
to two feet, with and without feathered ear-tufts (horns), 
and having mottled loose plumage, feathered disks around 
the eyes, hooked beaks, and muscular feet. The family 
comprises both diurnal and nocturnal species. . , 

B 49 



SYNOPSIS OF BIRD FAMILIES. 

Family Falconidae : Hawks, Eagles, etc. Page 215. 

8 Species. 

Diurnal Birds of Prey, with mottled and streaked plumage, 

no horns or eye disks ; of graceful build, and dashing, rapid 

flight. The family includes the Osprey and the American 

Eagle. 

ORDER COLUMB^: PIGEONS. 

Family Columbidae : Doves and Pigeons. Page 225. 

2 Species. 

Wood Doves, with delicately-shaded, and often glossy plu- 
mage, small heads and full breasts, long, pointed wings, 
and soft, cooing voices. Often seen feeding on the ground 
like the domestic Pigeon. 

ORDER GALLINiE: GALLINACEOUS BIRDS (Birds 

scratching on the ground like barnyard fowls). 

Family Tetraonidse : Grouse, Partridges. Page 227. 
2 Species. 

Comprising our two most familiar Game-birds, the Buffed 
Grouse (Partridge) and the Quail, birds with mottled feathers 
of varied browns, the Partridge having feathered legs. The 
female rears the young, who leave the nest when hatched, 
following her as a brood, after the manner of chickens. 

ORDER LIMICOL-5I: SHORE-BIRDS (Waders). 

Family Aphrizidae : Turnstones. Page 231. 

1 Species. 

Small Shore-birds (8 inches long) with pied plumage, seen 

turning over stones on rocky beaches, in search of marine 

insects, etc. 

Family Charadriidse : Plovers (Popular Game-birds). Page 232. 
6 Species. 
A large and important family of Shore-birds, frequenting 
both fresh and salt water. They have Pigeon-like bills 

50 



LAND-BIRDS. 

which are never longer than the head. In size they vary from 
small to medium (7 to 12 inches); the plumage undergoes 
many variations owing to season and age, but the sexes are 
nearly alike. The neck is short, the head bullet-shaped, and 
the body usually stout ; the wings are longer than the tail. 
They are generally seen in flocks during the migrations, as 
the majority of species breed far north. They fly and run 
with great rapidity, and inhabit dry uplands, as well as the 
vicinity of ponds, and the seashore. They all have pleasing 
call notes, and one species has a melodious, piping whistle. 

Family Scolopacidae : Sandpipers, Snipes, etc. Page 236. 
11 Species. 

Another large family, inhabiting inland meadows as 
well as salt marshes and the seashore, including Wood- 
cock and Snipe, both well-known Game-birds (that probe 
for their food in the mud with their bills), and the less 
familiar Sandpipers. Bills not Pigeon-shaped; slender ^ usu- 
ally longer than the head. Plumage mottled and streaked 
with neutral tints and sober colours. Voices peculiar, vary- 
ing according to the species. 

Snipe are among the most delicately flavoured of Game- 
birds, and Sandpipers comprise the smallest of the Waders. 
The Snipe group may be easily distinguished from the 
rest by the plain, unbarred tail. The Tattlers are a long- 
legged, noisy species, not probing for their food in the mud, 
but picking it up in the vicinity of flats and sand bars. 

ORDER PALUDICOL^ : RAILS, GALLINULES, COOTS. 

Family RalliddB : Rails. Page 245. 

5 Species. 

"Birds of medium and small size, generally with com- 
pressed body and large, strong legs, enabling them to run 
rapidly and thread with ease the mazes of the reedy 
marshes to which they are almost exclusively confined; 
while, by means of their long toes, they are prevented from 

51 



SYNOPSIS OF BIRD FAMILIES. 

sinking in the mire or floating vegetation. . . . The head 
is completely feathered ; the general plumage is ordinarily 
of subdued and blended coloration, lacking much of the 
variegation commonly observed in Shore-birds; the sexes 
are usually alike, and the changes of plumage not great with 
age or season. The food is never probed for in the mud, 
but gathered from the surface of the ground and water." 
(Coues.) 

ORDER HERODIONES: HERONS, ETC. 

Family Ardeidee (Marsh Birds). Page 250. 

5 Species. 

Long-legged, long-necked, long-billed birds, often beau- 
tifully crested in the breeding-season, and having broad, 
generous wings. They nest in trees in swampy places. 
Their voices are harsh, and they undergo great changes of 
plumage, and must be recognized by the novice more by 
general shape than detailed colour description. They may 
often be seen standing on one leg on the edge of ponds or 
swamps in the attitude of the Storks of Andersen's " Fairy 
Tales." 

ORDER ANSERES: LAMELLIROSTRAL SWIMMERS. 

Family Anatidee : Ducks, Geese, etc. Page 255. 

16 Species. 

Stoutly-built birds of rivers and seashore, with varied and 
beautiful plumage of a type familiar to every one. " Body 
full, heavy, flattened beneath, neck of variable length, head 
large, eyes small. . . . Wings of moderate length (rarely 
very short), stiff, strong, pointed, conferring rapid, vigorous, 
whistling flight ; a Wild Duck at full speed is said to make 
ninety miles an hour. . . . Legs short, knees buried in the 
general integument, toes palmate." (Coues.) 



LAND-BIRDS. 

ORDER TUBINARES: TUBI^NOSED SWIMMERS. 

Family ProceUaridae : Shearwaters, Petrels, etc. Page 268. 
1 Species. 

The various Petrels are comprised in tMs family ; they 
are off-shore birds of Gull-like appearance. Dr. Coues says 
of one group, that their " flight is peculiarly airy and flicker- 
ing, more like that of a butterfly than like ordinary birds ; 
they are almost always seen on the wing, appearing to swim 
little if any, and some, if not all, breed in holes in the 
ground like Bank Swallows." 

ORDER LONGIPENNES: LONGK-WINGED SWIMMERS. 

Family Laridae : Gulls and Terns. Page 269. 

7 Species. 

Off-shore birds, breeding on the coastwise islands. The 
Gulls are large and stout, with hooked bills, large feet, and 
strong wings that make their flight even and steady, and 
not impulsive and dashing like the Terns'. They both dive 
for their food and glean it from the surface of the water. 
The Terns are more slender, have greater rapidity in flying, 
SiTid forked tails; the tails of the Gulls are never forked. 

ORDER PYGOPODES: DIVING BIRDS. 
Family Alcidee : Auks, etc. Page 275. 

1 Species. 

Our species, the Dovekie or Sea Dove, is an off-shore bird 
seen usually about lighthouses and flying in the wake of 
vessels. It is a rather small-sized, dusky bird, white below, 
with a clumsy, awkwardly-shaped body, and long wings. 

Family Urinatoridse : Loons. Page 276. 

2 Species. 

Stout divers with long bodies, legs set very far back, bob- 
tailed, long twisting necks, and plumage which is more or 
less spotted above and plain below. We see them only in 
the migrations, as they breed in the far north. 

63 



SYNOPSIS OF BIRD FAMILIES. 

Family Pygopodes : Grebes. Page 277. 
2 Species. 

Very dexterous diving birds of lakes and rivers, as well 
as of salt water, variously crested in the breeding-season; 
their bodies are held upright by the posterior position of the 
legs ; they are practically tailless, and, though smaller, bear 
a close resemblance to the Loons. 



64 



BIRD BIOGRAPHIES. 



PERCHING SONG-BIRDS. 
PERCHING SONGLESS BIRDS. 
BIRDS OF PREY. 
PIGEONS, QUAILS, GROUSE. 
SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. 
SWIMMING BIRDS. 



PLATE 6. 




1. AMERICAN ROBIN. 

Length, 10 inches. 



2. WOOD THRUSH. 

Length, 7.50-8 inches. 



PERCHING SONG-BIRDS. 



ORDER PASSERES: PERCHING BIRDS. 

SUB-ORDER OSCINES: SINGING BIRDS. 

FAMILY TUKDID^: THRUSHES. 

Wood Thrush: Turdus mustelinus. 

Plate 6. Fig. 2. 

Length : 7.50-8 inches. 

Male and Female : Above tawny, deepest on head, tail olivaceous. Sides 
of throat light buff, middle of throat, breast, and belly white ; 
sprinkled on sides with heart-shaped or triangular dark-brown 
spots. Whitish eye ring, bill dark brown, feet flesh-coloured. 

Song : A melody in which some notes have the effect of a stringed 
accompaniment. The syllables are uttered deliberately, about 
four seconds apart — " Uoli — a-e-o-li, uoli— uoli — uol — aeolee- 
le6!" 

Season : Early May to October. 

Breeds : Northward from Virginia, Kentucky, and Kansas. 

Nest : Of small twigs with a mud lining, sometimes saddled upon the 
boughs of evergreens not far from the trunk, or in small trees 
and bushes. 

Eggs : Four usually, similar in colour to the Robin's, but smaller. 

JRange : Eastern United States to the Plains, north to southern Michi- 
gan, Ontario, and Massachusetts, south in winter to Guatemala 
and Cuba. 

Next to the American Robin, the Wood Thrush is the 
most widely known of its tribe. He is an exquisite vocalist, 
the tones having a rare quality of rolling vibrance, and 
often as he utters his placid notes, each one full and delib- 
erate, the song seems like the music of a flute and an 

67 



Thrushes SONG-BIRDS. 

seolian harp strung in the trees. "Uoli," he begins, and 
after pausing continues, "Aeolee-lee" (the last syllable 
having the harp quality), "Uoli-uoli — aeolee-lee." First 
softly, then modulating, reiterating sometimes for an hour 
together ; but compassing in these few syllables the whole 
range of pure emotion. 

The Wood Thrush is called shy by many writers, but 
here in Connecticut it is both abundant and sociable, feed- 
ing about the lawn in company with Eobins, though it keeps 
more in shelter, skirting the shrubbery, as it scratches. 
Two pairs nested last season in the spruces below the 
lawn. Their nests so closely resemble the best efforts of 
the Robin, and the eggs being of a like colour, that I had 
mistaken them until I saw the Thrushes in possession. 
These nests were made wholly of sticks, and lined thinly 
with clay, but two others that I found in the woods showed 
more varied materials. One was placed, some six feet from 
the ground, in a cedar bush close to a pool. The mud used 
to line the nest was full of Sphagnum, and of the water- 
soaked seed vessels of the sweet-pepper bush, which, min- 
gled with dry beech leaves, made the nest very picturesque, 
while the mud was barely visible through the bedding of 
the runners of Potentilla, to whose stems some identifying 
leaves still clung. 

The second nest was in a laurel bush on the top of high 
rocks in Samp-Mortar woods. It was beautifully stuccoed 
with lichens and lined with the hair-like roots that cover 
the surface of leaf mould. 

The Wood Thrush builds the middle or last of May, and 
as it comes often the very first day of the month and con- 
tinues singing well into July, it gives us a goodly season of 
song. Wood Eobin is one of its local names, but this is 
used, somewhat at random, for other Thrushes. 

Wilson's Thrush ; Veery : Turdus fuscescens, 

, ►, « .^ . , Frontispiece. 

Length: 7-7.50 inches. 

Male and Female : No eye ring. Above evenly olive-brown, with a 

tawny cast. Throat buff, flecked on the sides with fine arrow- 

68 



SONG-BIRDS. Thrushes 

shaped brown spots. Breast and under parts white. Bill dark 

above, lower mandible light. Feet light. 
Song: Ringing, echo-like. Professor Ridgway indicates it thus: 

"Taweel 'ah— taweel 'ah, twil-ah, twil-ah ! " 
Season : Early May to October. 
Breeds : According to Coues, in the northerly part of its range, but it 

also breeds freely in our river groves and in the more southern 

portion of the Middle States. 
Nest : Built either upon or near the ground, of sticks and twigs like 

that of the Wood Thrush, but lacking the mud. 
Eggs : Like Robin and Wood Thrush, of a greenish blue, but smaller 

than either. 
Bange: Eastern United States to the Plains, north to Manitoba, 

Ontario, Anticosti, and Newfoundland. 

The Veery, the most slender and graceful of the Thrushes, 
is with us all the season, but it is so shy and elusive in its 
ways of slipping through the trees and underbrush in 
swampy woodlands that it seems scarcely an actual pres- 
ence. Change a word in Wordsworth's verses on the Cuckoo 
and the description is perfect : — 

" O Veery ! shall I call thee bird, 
Or but a wandering voice ? " 

When it first arrives, and before mating, the Veery is seen 
frequently in the garden, prying under dead leaves and in 
low bushes like all its insect-eating kin, but when it retires 
to the woods to nest all but the voice seems to vanish. That 
wonderful, haunting voice ! It was a woodland mystery to 
me not so very long ago ; a vocal Will-o'-the-Wisp. Lead- 
ing on and on, up and down river banks, into wild grape 
tangles and clinging brush, then suddenly ceasing and leav- 
ing me to return as best I might. 

There came a time, however, when a few pairs, mating 
before they left the garden in the spring, surprised us by 
singing while in view, and the same season we took a leis- 
urely drive through the country to see the orchards in bloom, 
and stopped for the night at a hospitable farmhouse in a 
hollow that winds between banks clad with laurel and hem- 
locks up to the old village of Kedding Kidge. 

69 



Thnishea SONG-BIRDS. 

We were told that the woods were full of birds " that sang 
all night," so we walked up the lane road, the soft light 
coming partly from the setting sun and partly from the high 
May moon. 

The waterfall resounded from where the hills dropped 
suddenly to the hollow. A single Whip-poor-will darting 
from the woods almost brushed my face and uttered his 
mournful call in my ear. Above the waterfall was a chain 
of ponds, and sitting on the rail of a separating bridge we 
listened and waited. A fox crept down to the water to 
drink, and as the wind blew toward us he did not suspect 
our proximity and lapped at leisure, the clear moonlight 
showing his shabby, faded spring coat. 

Suddenly from the woody banks the Yeeries began their 
song. They had been singing by twos and threes ever since 
sunset, but now the sound was as of a full chorus compared 
to the humming of a few voices. From all sides the notes 
rang : " Taweel ^ah, taweel ^ah ! " and then a tone lower ; 
•' twil-ah, twil-ah ! " no two birds seeming to sing precisely 
at once but continually echoed themselves and each other. 
Why is not this bird called the Echo Thrush ? The name 
would reveal its identity to any one who had ever heard the 
song. 

The music lasted until after nine o'clock, when it died 
away in a whisper like a benediction of the night and the 
Whip-poor-will was left as sentry for the midnight hours. 



Gray-cheeked Thrush: Turdus alicice. 

Length: 7.50-8 inches. 

Male and Female : No eye ring. Head and back uniform olive-brown. 

Throat buff and slightly speckled ; sides dull grayish white, the 

specks running into a wash. Cheeks gray ; bill slender. 
Song : In tone like other Thrushes, but differently accented — " Wee-o, 

wee-o, tit-ti wee-o ! " (Torrey.) 
Season : May, remaining a week or so ; return migration in October. 
Breeds : Northward from northern New England ; and var. bicknelli 

in New York and New England. 
Nest : In bushes made of moss, twigs, and grass. 
£ggs : 4, greenish blue, speckled with brown. 



PLATE 7. 




OLIVE-BACKED THRUSH. 

Length, 7-7.50 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS. Thrushes 

Bange : Eastern North America, west to the Plains, Alaska, and east- 
ern Siberia, north to the Arctic coast, south in winter to Costa 
Rica. 

This Thrush is one of the rarest in southern New Eng- 
land. It is a near relative of the Olive-backed Thrush, 
from which it differs in having gray sides to the head and 
in being somewhat larger. A few of the Gray-cheeked 
Thrushes come to the garden and lane every spring and fall ; 
but even these migratory visits are very irregular. Brad- 
ford Torrey, whose White Mountain experience has brought 
him into intimate contact with Bicknell's Thrush (as those 
individuals which breed in the mountains of New York and 
New England are called) during its season of song, says 
that "... while the Gray -cheek's song bears an evident 
resemblance to the Veery's, . . . the two are so unlike in 
pitch and rhythm that no reasonably nice ear ought ever 
to confound them." 

The song is one of the most infrequent sounds in this 
locality ; but I have heard it three times in the lane, and 
have come within identifying range of the singer, attracted 
and aided by Mr. Torrey's description and syllabication.^ 

Olive-backed Thrush: Turdus ustulatus swainsonu 

Plate 7. 

Zengri^; 7-7.50 inches. 

Male and Female : Yellowish eye ring. Head and back olive-brown, 
deepest on wings and tail. Buff breast and throat, deepening in 
colour on the sides and speckled everywhere but on the throat 
with arrow-shaped blackish spots. Dark bill ; feet pale brown. 

Song : Of the same quality as the Wood Thrush's, but less inspiring, 
and tinged with melancholy. 

Season : Arrives in May, often in company with White-throated Spar- 
rows, passes on in early May, and returns in October. 

Breeds : In mountainous parts of southern New England and north- 
ward. 

Xest : In low trees and bushes, like that of Wood Thrush minus the mud. 

Bggs : 4-5, greenish blue, freely spotted with brown. 

Bange : Eastern North America and westward to the upper Columbia 
River and East Humboldt Mountains, straggling to the Pacific 
coast. 

1 "The Foot-Path Way," Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 
61 



ThniBhes SONG-BIRDS. 

The early ornitliologists were rather mixed as to the 
identity of the Hermit, Gray-cheeked, and Olive-backed 
Thrushes. Samuels calls the latter the least common of 
New England Thrushes, while Nuttall confused the Hermit 
with the Wood Thrush. 

The Olive-backed Thrush comes quite freely to the gar- 
den, rather early in the spring migration, at the time when 
the other migratory Thrushes and northern-breeding Spar- 
rows appear, and hops about quite sociably, but seldom gives 
any other sound than its liquid call note. Its identification 
is easy, owing to the even olive colour of its back, and it 
entirely lacks the tawny warmth of its kin. This colour 
difference of the Thrushes is tritely summed up on page 60 
of Stearns & Coues's " New England Bird-life " : " The Wood 
Thrush is tawny, turning to olive on the rump. The Her- 
mit is olive, turning to ta^vny on the rump. The Olive-back 
is entirely olive. The Veery is entirely tawny." When 
seen feeding with the Wood Thrush along the garden edges, 
this colour difference appealed to me very plainly, as well 
as the greater slimness of the Olive-back. 

Mr. Nehrling says that this Thrush, in company with the 
Veery and Wood Thrush, is killed in great hordes, by the 
miserable pot-hunters about New Orleans, on its return in 
the fall migration ; so that even sober plumage is no protec- 
tion, and the fact that our country is not wholly birdless 
goes far to prove the wonderful power that Nature uses in 
her struggle with the destructive side of man. 

Hermit Thrush : Turdus aonalaschhce pallasiu 

Plate 8. Fig. 1. 

Length: 7-7.25 inches. 

Male and Female : Above olive-brown, reddening on the rump. Yel- 
lowish eye ring. Throat, sides of neck, and breast washed with 
buff and thickly sprinkled with brown arrowheads growing 
larger on belly. Under parts white. Bill blackish above, lower 
mandible light ; feet hght brown. 

^ongr : Flute-like, ascending. " spheral, spheral ! O holy, holy ! O 
clear away, clear away ! clear up, clear up ! " (Burroughs.) 

Season : Comes in the migrations before other northern Thrushes. 

62 



PLATE 8. 




1. HEKMIT THRUSH. 
Length, 7-7.25 inches. 



2. GOLDEX-CROWNED KINGLET. 
Length, 4 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS. Thrushes 

Breeds: From mountainous parts of southern New York and New 

England northward. 
Nest and Eggs : Similar to those of the Veery. 
Range : Eastern North America, wintering from the Northern States 

southward. 

Burroughs says : " If we take the quality of melody as a 
test, the Wood Thrush, the Hermit Thrush, and the Veery 
Thrush stand at the head of our list of songsters." One may 
be very familiar with the songs of two of this trio without 
ever having identified the third, or at least without having 
heard it sing. 

At the first glance the Hermit closely resembles the Wood 
Thrush, but a good field-glass will enable you to see the 
colour distinction of the back, and also that the Hermit has 
a more yellowish throat and that the breast spots are more 
acute. Its rarity differs very much according to location. 
It is comparatively common in the northeast, and Dr. Warren 
says that in Pennsylvania it is, with the exception of the 
Bobin, the commonest of the Thrushes and breeds occasion- 
ally in some of the higher mountain districts. Here, as well 
as in many of the Middle States, where it is only a migrant, 
its full song is seldom heard. I have not found it a shy 
bird, not more so than the Wood Thrush, but it doubtless 
becomes shy in its breeding-haunts. 

I made its acquaintance, several years ago, in the lane back 
of the garden, and had watched its rapid, nervous motions 
during many migrations before I heard it sing. This spring, 
the first week in May, when standing at the window about 
six o'clock in the morning, I heard an unusual note, and 
listened, thinking it at first a Wood Thrush and then a 
Thrasher, but soon finding that it was neither of these I 
opened the window softly and looked among the nearby 
shrubs, with my glass. The wonderful melody ascended 
gradually in the scale as it progressed, now trilling, now 
legato, the most perfect, exalted, unrestrained, yet withal, 
finished bird song that I ever heard. At the final note I 
caught sight of the singer perching among the lower sprays 
of a dogwood tree. I could see him perfectly : it was the 
Hermit Thrush! In a moment he began again. I have 

63 



Robin SONG-BIRDS. 

never heard the Nightingale, but those who have, say that 
it is the surroundings and its continuous night singing that 
make it even the equal of our Hermit ; for, while the Night- 
ingales sing in numbers in the moonlit groves, the Hermit 
tunes his lute sometimes in inaccessible solitudes, and there 
is something immaterial and immortal about the song. Pres- 
ently you cease altogether to associate it with a bird, and it 
inspires a kindred feeling in every one who hears it. 

Mrs. Olive Thorne Miller tells delightfully of her pursuit 
of the Hermit in northern New York, where it was said to 
be abundant, but when she looked for him, he had always 
** been there " and was gone ; until one day in August she 
saw the bird and heard the song and exclaims : " This only 
was lacking. . . . This crowns my summer." ^ 

Among many local names this bird has received, that given 
by the early settlers in the Adirondack region is the most 
appropriate j they call it the Swamp Angel. 

American Bobin: Merula migratoria, 

Plate 6. FiOx. 1. 
Length : 10 inches. 
Male : Above olive-gray, head black, wings dark brown, tail black 

with white spot on two outer quills. Entire breast brick-red. 

Throat streaked with black and white. White eyelids. Bill 

yellow, dusky at tip ; feet dark. 
Female : Paler throughout, resembling the autumn plumage of the male. 
Song : A vigorous interrogative melody, cheerful but somewhat lacking 

in variety. '* Do you think what you do, do you think what 

you do, do you think ? " Call note, " Quick ! Quick ! " 
Season : Present all the year. The migratory flocks come in March 

and leave in October and early November. 
Breeds : From Virginia and Kansas northward to the Arctic coast. 
Nest : On a horizontal branch, in a tree crotch, hedge, or strong vine. 

Made of small sticks, plastered more or less and lined with mud. 
Eggs : 4, of the peculiar green- blue, known by the name of the bird. 
Mange: Eastern North America to the Rocky Mountains, including 

eastern Mexico and Alaska. Winters from southern Canada 

and the Northern States (irregularly) southward. 

1 ♦• Little Brothers of the Air." 
64 



SONG-BIRDS. Robin 

In early March the Kobins come flocking from the South, 

and those seen before this time are usually the roving 
winter residents. At first they sing most freely at noon or 
late in the afternoon, when their notes mingle with the 
peeping of the marsh-frogs, but with milder weather the 
Eobin becomes the bird of dawn, whose persistent, regular 
melody unites the whole chorus. 

From this time until late July, at morning before twilight 
and at intervals all through the day, he sings, varjdng the 
accentuation of the melody, even while its range remains the 
same. At dawn he says, " Cheerily, cheerily, cheer up, cheer 
up ! " While one who sings every afternoon in the apple 
tree by my window says plainly, " Do you think what you 
do, do you think what you do, do you thi-n-k ? " 

Wilson riagg, who is always unique if sometimes in- 
accurate, writes, "There is no bird that has fewer faults 
than the Eobin, or would be more esteemed as a constant 
companion.'^ Passing over his habit of helping himself to 
the ripest cheek of cherry or strawberry, which is a trifling 
harm when compared with his good reputation as an insect 
destroyer, and which from a bird's standpoint of course is 
not a fault at all, — he has two radical defects that detract 
from the pleasure of his society. He is extremely and 
unnecessarily noisy in his cries of alarm when any one 
approaches his nest, not only in this way calling attention 
to its location, but setting the entire bird colony in an 
uproar. His sharp, useless call, given vehemently, often 
without cause, reminds one of the silly housewife who ran 
down the village street crying, "Tire! Fire!" — because the 
damper being closed, her stove smoked. 

It is very aggravating to be thus interrupted while watch- 
ing the movements of some rare .or shy bird. One day I had 
almost located a Hummingbird's nest when a Eobin cried, 
" Quick ! Quick ! " and the Hummers took the hint. 

His other fault is untidiness and general disorder in nest- 
building. If Eobins build about the porch or in an arbour, 
they invariably make a litter and exercise little of the pre- 
caution, used by so many birds, in removing the excrements 
r 66 



Bluebird SONG-BIRDS. 

of the young from the nest. In the choice of a nesting 
location they are often extremely stupid. The nest being 
a combination of clay and sticks, is a rather bulky and 
weighty affair, yet the birds frequently build it in a spot so 
exposed that a heavy summer shower will reduce it to pulp ; 
or on so slender a branch that the weight of the growing 
young cause it to tip over. 

Twelve pairs of Robins, that I know of, nested this 
season in various parts of the garden, some huddled close 
to the house, or in fruit trees, others in the evergreens, 
but in addition to these homes I found five nests, some con- 
taining eggs, which, though of the season's building, had 
been abandoned through hopeless faults of location and 
construction, and the Robin does not lightly abandon its 
nest after the eggs are laid, like some other Thrushes and 
many Warblers. 

But with the list of the Robin's shortcomings before us, 
the cheery sound of his piping effaces them all, and 
awakens memories that go back to the very dawn of life. 
He was the first bird, probably, that we learned to call by 
name, and every spring he returns as the marshal of the 
feathered hosts and well sustains the honour. 

The American Robin is an entirely different species from 
the English Robin Redbreast ; the latter is a smaller bird 
of more compact build, with a brilliant red breast, in form 
resembling our Bluebird. 

Bluebird: Siala sialis* 

Plate 9. 
Length: 6.50-7 inches. 
Male: Azure-blue above. Wings blue with some dark edgings. 

Breast brick-red, lower parts white. Bill and feet black. 
Female: Dull blue above. Breast paler and more rusty. Young 

with speckled breast and back. 
Song: A sweet plaintive warble, seeming to say, " Dear ! dear ! think 

of it, think of it!" Burroughs says it continually calls 

"Purity, Purity" ; in either case the accent is the same. 
Season : A resident species, though the majority come early in March 

and retire to the South in late October. 



PLATE 9. 




BLUEBIRD. 

Length, 6.50-7 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS. Bluebird 

Breeds : All through its range. 

iVesf : Hardly to be called a structure as it is usually merely a lining 

in a decayed knot hole, a bird-house, or the abandoned hole of 

the Woodpecker. 
Eggs : 4-6, pale blue, shading sometimes to white. 
Hange: Eastern United States to the eastern base of the Rocky 

Mountains, north to Manitoba, Ontario, and Nova Scotia ; south 

in winter, from the Middle States to the Gulf States and Cuba. 

Bermuda, resident. 



The Bluebird is the colour-bearer of the spring brigade, 
even as the Song Sparrow is the bugler. There may be 
snow on the ground, and the chimney nightly tells the com- 
plaint of the wind. All other signs fail, but when we see 
the Bluebird in his azure robe and hear his liquid notes 
(he is April's minstrel), we know that spring is close at 
hand, for in autumn and winter the blue coat is veiled 
with rusty-brown, as if the murky storms had cast their 
shadows upon it. The Bluebird's note is pleasing and 
mellow, mingling delightfully with the general spring 
chorus, but in itself it ranks more with the music of the 
Warblers than with its own Thrush kin. It has a rather 
sad tone, a trifle suggestive of complaint or pity. Heard at 
a distance it has a purling quality. Uttered close at hand, 
as when the birds go to and fro about their nests, it sounds 
as if their domestic arrangements were being discussed 
with the subdued, melancholy voice so often assumed by 
unwilling housewives. Then the male will fly off on a 
marketing expedition, murmuring to himself, "Dear, dear, 
think of it, think of it ! " In fact, these birds seem to be 
practical, every-day sort of little creatures, and very seldom 
exhibit any tokens of affection after the nesting season 
begins. Yet the Bluebird is one to which romance strongly 
attaches us, its notes recall the first thrill of early spring, 
and we cannot disassociate him from blooming orchards. 
In the autumn he is one of the latest to call to us, the last 
leaf (so to speak) on the tree of beautifully coloured Song- 
birds, from which the Oriole, Tanager, Rose-breasted Gros- 
beak, and Cardinal have dropped away. 

67 



Kinglets SONG-BIRDS. 

One of the finest bird eulogies in any language is Bur- 
roughs's chapter on this bird in "Wake Robin" ; it has even 
a greater charm than Michelet's rhapsody on the Nightingale. 
One paragraph quoted will lead the reader to search out the 
whole. 

" When Nature made the Bluebird she wished to propi- 
tiate both the sky and the earth, so she gave him the colour 
of one on his back and the hue of the other on his breast, 
and ordained that his appearance in spring should denote 
that the strife and war between these two elements was at 
an end. He is the peace-harbinger ; in him the celestial 
and terrestrial strike hands and are fast friends." 



FAMILY SYLVIID^; WARBLERS, KINGLETS. 

Sub-family Regulin^ : Kinglets. 

Golden-crowned Kinglet: Begulus satrapa, 

Plate 8. Fig. 2. 

Length : 4 inches. 

Male : Flame- coloured crown spot edged with yellow and enclosed by 
black line. Above olive-green and yellowish olive, which is 
more decided on wings, rump, and tail. Under parts yellowish 
gray. Whitish line over eye. Bill and feet black. 

Female : Crown yellow, no flame colour or black line. 

Song : A sharp call and a few notes. Mr. Brewster gives them as, — 
" Tzee-tzee-tzee-tzee, ti-ti-ter-ti-ti-ti-ti ! " 

Season : A fairly constant winter resident. 

Breeds : From northern New England northward. 

Nest: Bulky for the size of the bird. A ball of hair, moss, etc., 
often hned with feathers, placed on the high bough of an ever- 
green. 

Eggs : 6-10, white, thickly speckled. 

Bange : North America generally, migrating south in winter to Guate- 
mala. 

The dainty little Golden-crowned Kinglet shares with the 
Winter Wren and Hummingbird the distinction of being 
one of the three smallest birds in the United States. It is 
ranked as a winter resident, for, coming from the north with 
the E/uby-crowned species, it lingers well into the winter, 

68 



SONG-BIRDS. Kinglet* 

passing soutliward in rigorous seasons, for a time in January 
and February, but returning very early in Marcli en route 
to its northern breeding-grounds. 

It lias a decided preference for evergreens and searches 
tirelessly by the hour for insects in the rough bark, but it 
is so very small and restless that it may easily escape notice. 
My first discovery of the bird in the garden was in Decem- 
ber, while looking in the spruces for the source of what I 
supposed to be the wiry note of some belated insect. A 
gleam of sunlight shooting through the branches, touched 
the flaming crown of the Kinglet, who was quite close and 
eyeing me inquisitively. 

The bird has been known to breed in Worcester County, 
Mass., and the nest is described by Mr. Brewster, who says 
that in one nest the outer walls were made of soft green 
mosses and lichens ; near the top were feathers of the Euffed 
Grouse, Hermit Thrush, and Ovenbird, ranged quills down 
so that they made a tent-like protection for the eggs. In 
the two nests which contained eggs, they were so numerous 
as to be piled in two layers, one above the other. 

It would be interesting to know how the tiny birds man- 
age to hatch such a quantity of eggs : whether they are turned 
and stirred up daily in order to bring all equally to the 
warmth of the body, or if perhaps the top row hatches first 
and the young birds, by their warmth, aid in bringing out 
their brothers and sisters. 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet: JRegulus calendula* 

jLewgr^^; 4-4.50 inches. 

Male : Vermilion spot on crown (which, however, does not always 
appear until the second year). Ash-gray head, back olive-gray, 
yellowish on tail. Wings brownish oHve with yellow and white 
edgings. Breast and under parts yellowish gray. Edges of 
eyelids white. Bill black, feet dark brown. 

Female : Lacking the red head spot. 

Song: A thin, metallic call note, like a vibrating wire. Song full, 
varied, and melodious ; often heard here in the spring migration. 

Season : In the migrations April-May and October-November. 

Breeds : Mostly north of the United States. 

.69 . 



Kinglets SONG-BIRDS. 

Nest : Very rare, only six known. Of matted hair, feathers, moss, 

etc. Bulky, globular, and partly pensile. 
Eggs: Marked "unknown" in Coues's "Key to North American 

Birds," but have been more recently found. Dirty cream- white, 

deepening at larger end to form a ring. Some specimens are 

spotted. 
Bange : North America, south to Guatemala, north to the Arctic coast. 

In late autumn, even after a light November snow, these 
cheery, sociable, little birds come prying and peering about 
the orchard or garden fruit trees, examining every twig or 
nook which may conceal insects with profound interest. 
They remain at the most only a few weeks, but make us a 
similar visit in April on the return trip. I only know its 
call note, though its full song is often heard in the spring 
migration, and is said to be rich and sweet. Mr. Nehrling,^ 
who has heard it sing in central Wisconsin and northern 
Illinois, speaks of the "power, purity, and volume of the 
notes, their faultless modulation and long continuance." 
Dr. Coues says of it, " The Kinglet's exquisite vocalization 
defies description." 

It is a very valuable bird to the agriculturist, coming 
when most insect-eaters have passed on, and does prodigious 
work among all classes of fruit trees, by killing grubs and 
larvae. 

The Kinglets have been, in common with many other 
attractive birds, recklessly killed for millinery purposes, 
but the present law in many States prohibits the sale of 
stuffed song-birds for such use, and this, together with the 
increase of public opinion against this vandalism, is not with- 
out effect ; for I have never seen so many of these little 
sprites as during the past December. 

1 *' Oar Native Birds of Song and Beauty," Henry Nehrling, Milwaukee. 



70 



SONG-BIRDS. TitmouBO 

FAMILY PARIDJS: NUTHATCHES AND TITMICE. 

Sub- FAMILY Paring: Titmice. 

Tufted Titmouse: Parus bicolor. 

Length : 6-6.50 inches. 

Male and Female : Crested, with black spot on brow at base of crest. 

Above ash-gray, wings and tail darker. Sides of head dull 

white. Under parts whitish with brownish wash on sides. 

Bill lead- black, feet lead-colour. 
Song : A persistent whistle, which Mr. Nehrling translates as " Hee- 

dle-dee-dle-dee-dle-dee," and at other times " Peto-peto-peto- 

day tee-day tee ! " 
Season : Straggling to southern New England in early April or May 

in company with many of the Warblers. 
Breeds : In all parts of range. 
Nest : Sometimes in bird-boxes, otherwise in the abandoned holes of 

Woodpeckers, etc., lined with hair and feathers. 
Uggs : 6-8, white, spotted with reddish-brown and lilac. 
Bange: Eastern United States to the Plains, but rare towards the 

northern border, being a straggler merely to southern New 

England. 

The Tufted Titmouse is quite rare here, but is a summer 
and, perhaps, winter resident in southern New York ; and 
whenever it is seen, it is sure to be recognized. 

In shape it has all the jaunty pertness of the Blue Jay, 
but with an added air of confidence and sociability. Dur- 
ing the winter they travel about in flocks searching for food, 
and when insects fail they content themselves with nuts 
and hard seeds which crack readily, after the fashion of the 
Nuthatches. They pair in April, and Mr. Nehrling says 
that they grow silent as the nesting time approaches, and 
very stealthy in their movements ; a pair occupied a Blue- 
bird house, which he had placed on the edge of the woods 
near his home in Texas, and then shifted to a Wren box to 
raise the second brood. 

Montague Chamberlain, who heard these Titmice singing 
in the South in January, thinks that their song sometimes 
takes the high key of the Baltimore Oriole, and that among 
other colloquial expressions they frequently said, " Whip- 

71 



Chickadee SONG-BIRDS. 

Tom-Kelly," but he gives tliem the name of Peto, from their 
most characteristic note. 

Chickadee; Black-capped Titmouse: Parua 
atricapillus, 

Plate 10. Fig. 2. 
Length: 6.50 inches. 
Male and Female: No crest. Above gray with a brownish tinge. 

Crown and nape, and chin and throat black ; sides of head white. 

Below white, shading to light gray with brown wash. Wings and 

tail gray with white edgings. Bill and feet lead-black. 
Song : Cheerful, conversational. " Chickadee-dee-dee-dee ! ' ' varied in 

winter with "Day, day, day ! " and a whistle "Pfe-we, p6-we." 
Season : A resident. 
Breeds : Nearly throughout its range. 
Nest: Made of all sorts of soft material, — wool, fur, feathers, and 

hair, placed in holes in tree stumps. 
Eggs : 6-8, white, thickly sprinkled with warm brown. 
Bange: Eastern North America, north of the Potomac and Ohio 

Valley. 

This hardy little fellow, always cheery and lovable, is a 
familiar figure in our light woods and garden trees in 
autumn and winter, seeming, by his good-nature and energy, 
to be trying to console us, in a measure, for the loss of the 
tree-haunting summer Warblers. 

The Chickadee adapts himself to all surroundings and to 
all circumstances, suiting his appetite to what he can find, 
when insects fail, taking kindly to seeds, berries, cone- 
kernels, and crumbs. 

In the winter of 1891-92, when the cold was severe, the 
snow deep, and the tree trunks often covered with ice, the 
Chickadees repaired in flocks daily to the kennel of my old 
dog Colin and fed from his dish, hopping over his back and 
calling " Chickadee, dee, dee," in his face, — proceedings that 
he never in the least resented, but seemed rather to enjoy. 

Taking a hint from this, I made a compound of finely 
minced meat, waste canary seed, buckwheat, and cracked 
oats, which was scattered in a sheltered spot from which 
the snow had been swept. This bird-hash was rapidly con- 

72 




en O 




SONG-BIRDS. Nuthatches 

sumed, and I was convinced during that season that it was 
a food suited to the needs of all our winter-birds, both seed 
and insect eaters finding in it what they required. 

The Chickadee breaks the silence of many winter days 
with his jovial notes, and fairly begs for companionship: 

Chic-chicadeedee ! saucy note 

Out of sound heart and merry throat, 

As if it said, " Good day, good sir ! 

Fine afternoon, old passenger ! 

Happy to meet you in these places, 

Where January brings few faces." — R. W. Emekson. 

FAMILY PARID^: NUTHATCHES AND TITMICE. 

Sub-family Sitting: Nuthatches. 
White-breasted Nuthatch: Sitta carolinensis, 

Plate 11. Fig. 1. 

Length: 5.50-6 inches. 

Male and Female : Body flat and compact. Above slate-blue. Top of 
head and nape black. Wings slate, edged with brown. Outer 
tail feathers brownish with white bars. Belly white, rusty 
toward vent. Bill dark lead-colour, feet dark brown. Female 
paler with colour boundaries less distinctly marked. 

Song : A call, " Quank-quank-quank ! " and a few other notes. 

Season : A common resident, roving about all winter. 

Breeds : Freely in all parts of range. 

Nest : In tree holes, which it excavates with great patience, and lines 
with feathers, moss, etc., after the fashion of Titmice. 

Eggs : Often 10, white, speckled with red and lilac. 

Bange : Southern British Provinces and eastern United States to the 
Rocky Mountains. 

This Nuthatch, who is our most conspicuous bird-acrobat, 
persistently walking head downward and performing various 
tortuous feats while he searches for food, is a resident of 
the eastern United States, only leaving the most northerly 
parts of his range for a short time in winter. 

He appears to migrate in spring and return in autumn, 
but in reality only retreats to the woodlands to breed, 
emerging again when the food supply grows scant in the 
autumn. 

73 



Nuthatches SONG-BIRDS. 

The Nuthatches are great friends of the Kinglets and 
Titmice, and often travel in flocks with them. They pass 
for being shy, but are not so in reality, but merely elusive 
because of their restless habits, which seldom allow them to 
stay in one spot long enough to be examined. In fact " tree- 
mice," the local name our farmers give them, is quite 
appropriate. 

This species has a particularly adroit way of knocking off 
bits of decayed or loose bark with the beak, to obtain the 
grubs or larvae hidden beneath. They never suck the sap 
from trees, as is sometimes supposed, but are wholly bene- 
ficial to vegetation. 

Bed-breasted Nuthatch: Sitta canadensis^ 



Length: 4.50-4.75 inches. 

Male : Above lead- coloured, brownish on wings and tail. Crown and 

sides of neck black. White stripe over eye, meeting on brow. 

Under parts rust-red. Bill dark lead-colour, feet lead-brown. 
Female : Paler, crown and back of one colour. 
Song : Note — " Day-day- day-dait ! " 
Season : A winter resident in Connecticut, but seen most frequently 

in early spring and late autumn. 
Breeds : Chiefly north of the United States. 
Nest : In holes, like the White-breasted species. 
Eggs : Very heavily speckled with red-brown. 
Bange : North America at large, migrating south in winter. 

This species, like the preceding, and the whole family, 
in fact, walk head down around the trunks of trees, and 
often roost in this singular fashion. Their bright colouring 
makes them particularly noticeable among the leafless trees. 
They come about the garden every spring, but more particu- 
larly in late November, when I have noted them in numbers 
on Thanksgiving Day in 1888-89-91-92. They search the 
bark of the orchard trees, at this time, with all the care of 
the Kinglets ; notwithstanding, this species does not seem to 
be considered by some authorities a common bird in Con- 
necticut. 

74 




o 




SONG-BIRDS. Brown Creeper 

Mr. Averill, of Bridgeport, says, " Abundant in September 
and October, 1888. Not seen at any other time by me." 
Dr. J. A. Allen writes, in his " Kevised List of the Birds of 
Massachusetts," " Winter visitant. Not generally common." 
In New York State it seems to be plentiful only in the 
migrations, but Bradford Torrey, in his essay on " December 
(1888) out o^ Doors," says, "Throughout December, and 
indeed throughout the winter, Brown Creepers and Eed- 
bellied Nuthatches were surprisingly abundant. Every pine 
wood seemed to have its colony of them." 

On October 18, of the past autiunn, half-a-dozen pairs 
appeared in the spruces in the garden and remained all 
winter, and on January 1 I saw five at one time feeding in 
the old apple tree, where meat had been placed for their 
benefit. 

FAMILY CERTHIID^: CREEPERS. 

Brown Creeper: Certhia familiaris atnericana* 

Plate 11. Fig. 2. 
Length : 5.50 inches. 
Male and Female : Above brown and ashy-white striped, the brown 

being of several shades, growing more red on rump. Tail pale 

brown. Throat, breast, and belly grayish white. Slender, 

curving bill, black above, yellowish below. Feet brown. 
Song : Wild and sweet, but difficult of syllabication. Call note short 

and lisping. 
Season : Winter resident, common from September to April. 
Breeds : Locally in Massachusetts, but usually further north. 
Nest : Tucked into a crevice between loose bark and the trunk of the 

tree, and composed of moss, sticks, and soft bark. 
Eggs: 4-8, cream-white (sometimes having a pink tinge), spotted with 

brown. 
Bange : North America east of the Rocky Mountains, breeding from 

the northern and more elevated parts of the United States 

northward. Migrating southward in winter. 

The Brown Creeper is one of the tree-trunk birds that, 
together with Woodpeckers and Nuthatches, are chiefly to 
be seen when prying their food from the crevices of the 
bark. The Creeper is the most difi&cult to observe of them 
all, for his colouring is a mixture of browns and grays that 

75 



Mockingbird SONG-BIRDS. 

blend perfectly with the background upon which he rests. 
He has also a peculiar spiral motion when creeping, which 
renders it particularly uncertain at what point he will re- 
appear. If, however, you chance to see him with a glass at 
short range, his markings will surprise you by their rich- 
ness; and his sharp, curving bill (very much like a sur- 
geon's needle) completes his identification, as it is unlike 
the bill of other tree-trunk birds. 

The protective plan of his colouring is carried out in his 
nest-building instinct, the nest being p];actically unfindable 
unless the bird is seen coming from, or going to it. Mr. 
William Brewster thus describes the location of a nest which 
he found near Lake Umbagog : ^ " . . . I shortly detected 
the sweet, wild song of the Brown Creeper, and, looking 
more carefully, spied a pair of these industrious little 
gleaners winding their way up the trunk of a neighbour- 
ing tree. ... I instituted a careful search among the dead 
trees that stood around, and at length detected a scale of 
loose bark, within which was crammed a suspicious-looking 
mass of twigs and other rubbish. A vigorous rapping upon 
the base of the trunk producing no effect, I climbed to the 
spot and was about to tear off the bark, when the frightened 
Creeper darted out within a few inches of my face, and the 
next moment I looked in upon the eggs." He says of its 
song : " It consists of a bar of four notes, the first of mod- 
erate pitch, the second lower and less emphatic, the third 
rising again, and the fourth abruptly falling, but dying 
away in an indescribably plaintive cadence, like the soft 
sound of the wind among pine boughs. I can compare it to 
no other bird voice that I have ever heard." 

FAMILY TROGLODYTID^ : WRENS, THRASHERS, ETC. 
MockiDgbird : Mimus polyglottos. 

Plate 12. 

Length : About 10 inches. 

Male and Female : Gray above, wings brown-gray, white spot on outer 
edge. Tail brownish gray, three outer quills white. Breast 
grayish white. Bill and feet black. Female smaller, paler. 
1 Bulletin Nuttall Club, IV., 1879. 
76 



PLATE 12 




MOCKINGBIRD. 

Length, 10 inches. 



SONG-BIKDS. Mockingbird 

Song: Natural love-song, a rich, dreamy melody. "Mocking" song 
distinctly different, — an imitation of the notes of all the 
birds of field, forest, and garden broken into fragments. 

Season : A chance visitor, under which circumstances it is a summer 
resident. 

Breeds : All through the South, and casually as far north as Massa- 
chusetts. 

Kest: Loosely made of leaves and grass, rags, feathers, etc., bulky 
and poorly constructed, never far from the ground. 

Hggs : 4-6, bluish green, heavily spattered vsrith shades of brown. 

Range : United States south into Mexico. Rare from New Jersey, the 
Valley of the Ohio, Colorado, and California northward. 

The Mockingbird, commonly known in this part of the 
country as a cage pet only, does not properly belong among 
the birds of the Middle or Eastern States, but as there are 
many records of its nesting in these latitudes, and as it is a 
conspicuous and interesting bird, it is safe to include it. 

Escaped individuals are often seen in our city parks, one 
having lived in Central Park, New York, late into the 
winter of 1892-93, a season which is remembered as being 
very cold and stormy. Venturous pairs of Mockers have 
reared their young as far north as Arlington, near Boston, 
and they are noted as " rare summer visitants, occasionally 
breeding, particularly in the Connecticut Valley,'' by Dr. 
J. A. Allen. Stratford, Conn., also has one breeding-record 
of long standing. 

The Mockingbird is very valiant in the care of its young, 
and particularly winning and sociable in its relations with 
man, which friendliness is illy rewarded by the theft of its 
nestlings, that they may be sold at home and abroad. In 
addition to this, all through the South these birds are wan- 
tonly shot by man and boy because they consume berries 
and small fruits. 

As a cage bird it retains its nocturnal habits, often sing- 
ing and fluttering in the middle of the night ; it also shows 
many intelligent traits and marked preferences for certain 
individuals. 

The power of song varies greatly in different individuals, 
some become vocal jugglers, and others retain many of their 

77 



Catbird SONG-BIRDS. 

thrilling, wild notes, which are to be much preferred. The 
pathetic quality of its native night music inspired Walt 
Whitman with the theme of one of his best poems, — that 
of the Mockingbird searching for his lost mate, singing and 
calling in his loneliness : — 

"But soft ! sink low ; 
Soft ! let me just murmur, 

And do you wait a moment, you husky-noised sea ; 
For somewhere, I believe, I heard my mate responding to me. 
So faint — I must be still, be still to listen ; 

But not altogether still, for then she might not come immediately 
to me." 



Catbird: Galeoscoptes carolinensis* 

Plate 13. 

Length : 8.50-9 inches. 

Male and Female : Above clear, deep slate. Under parts lighter gray. 

Crown and tail black. Vent rust-red. Bill and feet black. 
Song : A brilliant recitative, varied and inimitable, beginning, " Prut 1 

Prut ! coquillicot ! really, really, coquillicot 1 Hey coquillicot ! 

Hey! Victory!" Alarm cry, "zeay ! zeay ! " like a metallic 

mewing. 
Season : Early May to October and November. 
Breeds : From Gulf States northward to the Saskatchewan. 
Nest : In bushes, of the type of the nests of the Thrushes, but without 

clay. 
Eggs : 4-6, clear green-blue. 
Bange : Eastern United States and southern British Provinces, west 

to, and including, the Rocky Mountains ; occasional on the 

Pacific coast. Winters in the Southern States, Cuba and Middle 

America to Panama. Accidental in Europe. 

Next to the Thrushes, no bird would be so much missed 
from the garden as the (to my mind misnamed) Catbird. 
For it is as a garden bird that it is best known here, although 
Wilson Flagg considers it more frequently a tenant of woods 
and pastures. I have found it nesting in all sorts of places, 
from an alder bush, overhanging a lonely brook, to a scrub 
apple in an open field, but never in deep woods, and it is 
when in its garden home, and in the hedging bushes of an ad- 

78 



PLATE 13. 




CATBIRD. 

Length, 8.50-9 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS- Catbird 

joining field, that it develops its best qualities, — "lets itself 
out," so to speak. The Catbirds in the garden are so tame 
that they will frequently perch on the edge of the hammock 
in which I am sitting, and when I move they only hop away 
a few feet with a little flutter. The male is undoubtedly a 
mimic, when he so desires, but he has an individual and 
most delightful song, filled with unexpected turns and 
buoyant melody. The length of the song varies greatly, 
sometimes lasting almost uninterruptedly for an hour. One 
strain is used as an introduction and as a constant refrain, 
Prut! Prut! coquillicot! The ejaculation "prut! prut!" 
turns into the shrill " zeay ! zeay ! " when he is really alarmed 
or angry. 

His song is only second, in its colloquial variety, to that 
of the Brown Thrasher, and it is sometimes for a moment 
difficult to distinguish between the two. He is particularly 
successful in imitating the whistle of the Chat (itself a 
mimic and ventriloquist), and has several times lured me 
by it, through bushes and briars, only to mock at me and 
call, " Hey Victory," in my face. 

That the Catbird is a fruit thief, its best friend cannot 
deny ; but during the breeding-season it feeds largely upon 
insects, and particularly upon many highly injurious kinds 
then in the moth stage ; seizing them adroitly in the air and 
when near the ground, after the manner of Flycatchers. 

I kept a Catbird (that had fallen from the nest) in a 
cage for many months, and became greatly attached to him. 
He was perfectly fearless and would fly about the room 
freely, and run about the floor with the rapidity of a mouse. 
Frequently he would perch on my head, or flit up and dexter- 
ously knock the ashes off O 's cigar to attract his atten- 
tion. He had a great dislike of newspapers, and if 

tried to read, when he was at liberty, he would invariably 
perch on the top of the sheet, thus bending it over and 
stopping the proceedings, and then utter a triumphant 
"Zeay, Z-e-a-y!" 

It seems strange that there should be any difference of 
opinion about this merry, friendly bird. Mr. George H. 

79 



Thrasher SONG-BIRDS. 

Ellwanger, near whose window one sang early every morn- 
ingj writes : " Nothing could be more delightful than his 
opening matin song, begun in a dulcet undertone ; did I not 
know from experience his long-drawn crescendo and the 
frenzy of the finale — a perfect Hungarian ^ Czardus ' ! 
Pelting him with stones, a pile of which I keep within 
reach, stops him, as it does my morning nap." 

Granting this even, it simply proves the wit of Nature, to 
set this merry, rippling jester, this whirlwind of delightful 
mockery, as a foil, a companion to the Thrushes with their 
spiritual melodies. Was it not by the rendering of such 
contrasts that Shakespeare mirrored Nature in every phase ? 



Brown Thrasher: Harporhynchus rufus, 

Plate 14. 

Length : 11 inches. 

Male and Female : Above reddish brown, darker on wings. Beneath 
yellowish white, with brown, arrow-shaped spots on breast and 
sides. Wings with two whitish bands. Tail very long. Female 
paler. Bill black, lower mandible yellow at base ; feet light. 

So7ig : Bravura style, with frequent colloquial strains. 

Season : Last week in April to early October. 

Breeds : From the Gulf States northward. 

Nest : In low shrubbery or thickly leaved tree, a boldly made structure 
of grape-vine, bark, grasses, twigs, and rootlets. In sandy 
localities, generally on the ground. 

Eggs: 4, green, sometimes paling to white, thickly speckled with 
brown. 

Bange : Eastern United States, west to the Rocky Mountains, north 
to southern Maine, Ontario, and Manitoba, south to the Gulf 
States, including eastern Texas. Accidental in Europe. 

Song Thrush, Eed Thrush, Brown Mockingbird, Mavis, 
are four of the local names for this most exultant and (quan- 
tity and quality considered) dashing of our song-birds. He 
arrives from late April to early May, and, after a week 
or so of almost uninterrupted music, settles down and pre^ 
pares his nest. 

It is impossible to mistake the Thrasher. The brilliant 

80 







bJ3 



O k5 



SONG-BIRDS. Thrasher 

rust-red which covers his entire back, his habit of twitching 
and thrashing his tail when feeding on the ground, and his 
bold, swinging flight are certain marks of identification. His 
song is heard early in the morning from the bushes of some 
pasture or thickly brushed waste, but later in the day he 
usually perches on the topmost twig of a tree, and with 
swelling breast and drooping tail pours forth his freest 
music; and under no circumstances does he sing when 
near his nest. 

The song has the same colloquial quality as the Catbird's, 
without its extreme rapidity, and one frequently detects in 
it the pauses peculiar to the Wood Thrush. I have tried in 
vain to reduce it to syllables, and find the result is mislead- 
ing; but the song is always bold and ejaculatory, as Thoreau 
describes it : " Upon the topmost spray of a tree sings the 
Brown Thrasher, or Eed Mavis, as some love to call him, — 
all the morning glad of your society (or, rather, I should say, 
of your lands), that would find out another farmer's field if 
yours were not here. While you are planting the seed he 
cries, ^ Drop it, drop it, — cover it up, cover it up, — pull it 
up, pull it up, pull it up.' " 

A different mood, that of a reflective shoemaker whom 
Wilson riagg knew, wove the song into other words, but 
with the same accented value : " Look up, look up ! — Glory 
to God, glory to God! — Hallelujah, Amen, Videlicet!" 

The Thrasher is something of a fruit thief, and I encoun- 
tered one this June, in a very picturesque attitude, swooping 
directly toward me, wings extended, while from his beak, 
hanging by their twin stalks, were a pair of luscious, ripe 
cherries. His fruit and corn eating proclivities are much 
exaggerated, however, and are inconsiderable, in view of 
his usefulness as an insect-destroyer. The Thrasher's period 
of song ends with June, or, at the latest, during the first 
week in July, and Mr. Bicknell says that it does not seem 
to have a second singing period after the moulting. 



81 



Wrens SONG-BIRDS. 

FAMILY TROGLODYTID J]: : WRENS, THRASHERS, ETC. 

Sub-family Troglodytin^ : Wrens. 

Carolina Wren: Thryothorus ludovicianus. 

Length : 6 inches. 

Male and Female : Chestnut- brown above, wings and tail barred with 

clear brown. Whitish stripe over eye. White chin. Under 

parts buffy. Bill straight and dark, same length as head. 

Feet dusky flesh-coloured. Female smaller. 
Song : A joyful melody, — " Sweetheart, sweetheart, sweet ! " Also 

many varied mocking notes. 
Season: A rather rare summer visitor north of New Jersey, yet 

breeding sparingly in New England as far as Massachusetts. 
Breeds : Through range, but seldom in the northern portion. Raises 

two broods. 
Nest : Builds a large nest in tree-holes and bird-boxes as well as in 

the undergrowth of wild places. 
Eggs : 6-7, white, spotted with purple and reddish brown. 
Range : Eastern United States (rare toward the northern border), 

west to the Plains. Rare in southern New England. 

The Carolina is the largest of our Wrens and is also the 
best vocalist, its melodies (for it sings several) having 
called up many eulogies. In addition to this, it is a great 
mocker, with an especial fancy for weird and unusual 
sounds. When in full song it perches on the top of a bush 
or small tree, raising its head and dropping its tail in Cat- 
bird fashion. 

It is a winter resident in some of the Middle States, and 
is said by Dr. Warren to be abundant in southwestern Penn- 
sylvania. Though much more shy than its smaller kin, it 
builds like them about outhouses and in various odd nooks, 
and has the House Wren's habit of prying and peeping. 
It collects its food chiefly from the bark of trees, except in 
autumn when, like many other insect-eaters, it feeds upon 
berries. 

Dr. Shoemaker, a Western bird-lover, wrote a song 
beginning, — 

82 ' 



SONG-BIRDS. Wrens 

♦* There is a little bird that sings — 
Sweetheart — sweetheart — sweet ! " 

without knowing that it was the Carolina Wren, whose 
notes his accurate ear interpreted in syllables. 

House Wren: Troglodytes aedon, 

Plate 15. Fig. 1. 
Length: 4.50-5.25 inches. 
Male and Female : Dark brown above, minutely barred with blackish. 

Under parts gray with brownish wash and faint bandings. 

Fairly long tail. Bill black above, lower mandible light ; feet 

brown. 
Song: A merry roulade, sudden, abruptly ended and frequently 

repeated. 
Season : Middle of April to October. 
Breeds: Locally through range. Fiequently rears three broods a 

season. 
Nest : A loose heap of sticks with a ' oft lining, in holes, boxes, etc. 
Eggs: 6-10, cream-colour, so thick „• spotted with brown that the 

whole egg is tinged. 
Bange : Eastern United States and southern Canada, west to Indiana 

and Louisiana. 

The House Wren is a bird who has allowed the word male 
to be obliterated from its social constitution at least. We 
always speak of Jenny Wren ; always refer to the Wren as 
she, as we do of a ship. It is Johnny Wren who sings and 
disports himself generally, but it is Jenny, who, by dint of 
much fussing and scolding, keeps herself well to the front. 
She chooses the building-site and settles all the little 
domestic details. If Johnny does not like her choice, he 
may go away and stay away ; she will remain where she 
has taken up her abode and make a second matrimonial 
venture. In fact, a little exhibition of independence of this 
kind took place in our barnyard last spring. 

Jenny makes herself as much at home about the wood- 
shed and outhouses as the mouse does in the granary, and 
when she slips in and out of the woodpile she seems like a 
mouse masquerading in feathers. Raise her suspicions or 

83 



"Wrens SONG-BIRDS. 

her anger, however, and there is no mouse-like meekness 
about her ; she becomes a tiny shrew, almost thrusting her 
bill in your face as she pierces your ears with her persist- 
ent, " Chit-chit-chit-chit ! " 

Forgive her for this ; it is merely a bad habit, not really 
an attack, and even while she scolds, her mate is off perch- 
ing on the pointed top of the clothes-post, head raised high 
as if he would allow no unnecessary curve in his neck to 
impede his outburst of sparkling song. "Foive notes to 
wanst," was the Irish labourer's comment upon this song. 
" Foive notes to wanst," it is, and I defy any one to render 
this appoggiatura into intelligible syllables. 

The Wrens are a most particular bird about the care of 
their nest, and, though inhabiting pent-up places, their homes 
are singularly free from vermin. Its industry is very great 
in collecting the insects upon which it feeds, both itself and 
the young, and oftentimes it seizes small butterflies when 
on the wing. Usually, as many as twenty pairs of these 
Wrens build in the garden bird-boxes and about the barn 
and sheds. One nest, last year, was placed in an old leather 
mitten which was left on a shelf in the tool-house ; the birds 
going in and out through the wrist, and, after stuffing the 
thing entirely full of sticks, to give stability, they lined a 
little depression with soft duck feathers. 

Winter Wren: Troglodytes hiemalia. 



Length : 3.90-4.10 mches. 

Malr and Female : Colour very similar to House Wren, but the under 
parts rusty, dimly and finely barred with dark. Tail and bill 
short, the latter dark, and slender ; feet dark. 

Song : Strong, and very musical ; not often heard here. Call note, 
" tr-r-r-r-r-r." 

Season : Winter resident, arriving often in October. A summer resi- 
dent of northern New England. 

Breeds : Northern New England, northern portions of New York State, 
and Pennsylvania northward. 

Kest : In odd nooks, crevices, logs, etc. Of twigs mixed with moss, 
hair, and feathers. 

84 



SONG-BIRDS. "Wrens 

Eggs : 5-8, pure white, finely dotted with purple and brown. 
Bange : Eastern North America generally, wintering from Massachu- 
setts southward. 

The Winter Wren is one of the group of tiny birds that 
enliven December, January, and February. It is more 
common than it appears to be, for it is the most retiring 
and shy of its family. Though it will sometimes nest near 
dwellings, it prefers seclusion, and especially the proximity 
to running water. Mr. Otto Boehr writes of the breeding- 
habits of this Wren in Sullivan County, Penn. : " We found 
his nest but once. It was built on the side of a mossy log 
that laid across a small run in a dark, rocky place. The nest 
was composed entirely of moss, with the entrance at one 
side near the bottom ; it contained six eggs, which resem- 
bled those of the Chickadee. The eggs were fresh ; time, 
July 4." 

Burroughs considers that its song is surpassed by very 
few, being of a gushing, lyrical character, uniting brilliancy 
and plaintiveness. 

Short-billed Marsh Wren: Cistothorus stellaris. 

Length : 4.50 inches. 

Male and Female : Above brown. Crown and part of back streaked 
with black and white. Wings and tail barred, White line over 
eye. White beneath, washed with rusty across breast and 
along sides. Very short bill, dark above, light below; feet 
brown. 

Song : " 'Che, 'chet, de-de-de-de-de ! " 

Season : Early May to late September. 

Breeds : In all but most southerly parts of its range. 

Nest : Among the grasses of marshy meadows ; it is made of grass and 
always softly lined ; closed over the top, with the entrance at 
one side. It may be either suspended between rushes, or be 
placed on the ground in a tussock, away from the water. 

Eggs : 6-9, pure white. 

Mange : Eastern United States and southern British Provinces, west 
to the Plains. Winters in the Gulf States and southward. 

The Short-billed Marsh Wren is a bird of moist meadows 
and reedy places. As a summer visitor it is erratic and 

85 ' 



Wrena SONG-BIRDS. 

irregular, being locally fairly plentiful during one season, 
and the next rare, but abundant in some adjoining place. 
It is very adroit in eluding the curious, by disappearing in 
the long grass, and not emerging until it is a long distance 
away, very much as many of the Ducks escape notice by 
diving, and swimming under water. 

This bird, as well as the next species, has a peculiar habit 
of building several nests every season. Samuels relates that 
these are built, it is believed, to secure protection for the 
female ; so that when people search for the nest near where 
she is sitting, the male will lure the hunter to an empty 
nest. Its haunts, in this vicinity, are similar to those chosen 
by the Red-winged Blackbird. 

liOngr-billed Marsh Wren: Cistothorus palustris, 

Plate 15. Fig. 2. 

Length : About 5 inches. 

Male and Female : Above clear brown. Whitish line over eye. Neck 

and back streaked sparingly with white. Wings and tail 

brown, the latter barred. Below, white, washed with pale 

brown. Bill nearly as long as head. Dark above ; lower 

mandible light. Feet brown. 
Song : Suggestive of the House Wren, but less agreeable, and at times 

quite harsh. 
Season : Summer resident. Early May to September. 
Breeds : Throughout summer range. 
Nest: Along river borders. Made of sedge and grasses suspended 

between tall reeds, above tide level. Rather bulky, with 

entrance on one side. 
JEggs : 6-10, chocolate-brown. 
Bange : Eastern United States and southern Canada. In winter from 

the Gulf States south. 

These Wrens have all the alert ways and nervous habits 
of the family. They inhabit marshy and reedy river wastes, 
and often build their torch-shaped nests in little colonies. 
They are abundant summer residents all along the Housar 
tonic River, from Stratford upward, following the course of 
tide rivers in preference to smaller streams. It is not an 
easy nest to find, even if you know where to look, and you 

86 



SONG-BIRDS. Pipit 

should either go upon your search at high tide in a duck 
boat, or else at very low water, wearing seven-league boots. 
I could relate an amusing tale of an ardent female wearing 
rubber boots on the bird-quest, who, approaching the reeds 
from the land side, on seeing one of the coveted nests a 
little beyond, lost her head completely, and, forgetting in 
her enthusiasm to pick her way from hummock to hummock, 
straightway found herself in two feet of hidden water, and, 
when she finally extricated herself, the boots were left 
behind as a tribute to the tenacity of the mud, and their 
own generous size. 

FAMILY MOTACILLID^: WAGTAILS; PIPITS. 
American Pipit, Titlark : Anthus pensilvanicus. 

Brown Lark. 

Length: 6.25-6.76 inches. 

Male and Female : Above dark olive-brown. Tail and wings brown- 
black, the tail shorter than the wings, several outer tail feathers 
partly or wholly white. White eye ring and line over eye. 
Underneath whitish with washes of various shades of brown. 
Bill dark ; feet brown. 

Song : A hesitating querulous note. 

Season: Abundant on salt marshes in migrations, April, May, Oc- 
tober, and November. 

Breeds: Only in high latitudes, sub- Arctic regions, and in Rocky 
Mountains, etc. 

Nest : Close to ground, of grass, moss, or lichens. 

Eggs : 4-6, chocolate-colour, marked and scratched with black. 

Bange : North America at large, wintering in the Gulf States, Mexico, 
and Central America. Accidental in Europe. 

The Titlark may be recognized by its very uncertain, 
wavering flight, seldom remaining long in one spot, but 
moving on and hovering and wheeling about the place 
where it intends next to alight. I have seen them fre- 
quently in the fields, on late October mornings when every- 
thing was white with hoar frost and they were gleaning a 
breakfast, uttering their thin notes and scattering irregu- 
larly, only to gather immediately on some convenient fence- 

87 



Warblers SONG-BIRDS. 

rail, or telegraph wire. They also flock in the autumn- 
ploughed fields, searching out the newly uncovered grubs 
and larvae. When on the ground they resemble the Water 
Thrushes and they are continually jerking their tails about, 
a habit which has given them, together with these Thrushes, 
the title of Wagtails. 

FAMILY MNIOTILTID^: WOOD WARBLERS. ' 
Black and White Warbler: Mniotilta varia, 

Plate 16. Fig. 1. 

Length : About 5 inches. 

Male and Female : Above striped black and white. White stripe on 

top of head, bordered by black stripe. White stripe over eye. 

Black cheeks and throat, separated by a black line. Breast 

white in middle, black stripe on sides. Wings and tail black ; 

wings with two white cross-bars and some white edgings, tail 

with white markings on outer quills. Bill and feet black. 

Female paler stripings, less distinct. Strong resemblance to 

the Downy Woodpecker. 
Song : Feeble and lisping, " Weachy, weachy, weachy, 'twee — 'twee, 

'twee 'tweet." 
Season : April to late September. 

Breeds : From Virginia and southern Kansas northward. 
Nest : Low down, either oh a stump or the ground, composed of bark, 

grass, leaves, hair. Very difficult to find. 
Eggs : 4-5, white, dotted thickly with red and brown. 
Bange : Eastern United States to the Plains, north to Fort Simpson, 

south, in winter, to Central America and the West Indies. 

The Black and White Warbler is one of the most familiar 
and sociable of the Warblers. At first you will doubtless 
think it a small Woodpecker, as it is seen principally scram- 
bling around tree trunks searching for the insect food upon 
which it, together with the entire family of Warblers, sub- 
sists. 

During the past four years this Warbler has not varied a 
week in the dates of his first and last appearance in the 
garden. He has come to a certain gnarled old apple tree, 
his favourite resort, twice on May 2, once May 1, and 
once April 29, and has invariably been last seen, in the 
same locality, between September 25 and October 2. 

88 



SONG-BIRDS. TVarblers 

The Creeper, when at rest, is not at all graceful, but it is 
most interesting to watch its zig-zag course from the tree 
trunk out to the angles of the crooked branches, picking up 
insects which are invisible to us, with its slender, sharp bill. 
In watching the manoeuvres of all bark-feeding birds, you 
must keep in mind that the eyes of birds are powerful mag- 
nifiers, and that to them objects appear twenty-five times as 
large as they do to us. 

Worm-eating Warbler: Hehnitherus vermivorus. 



Length: 6.50 inches. 

Male and Female : Head yellowish brown, black stripe on each side 

of crown, also back of eye. Above greenish olive. Under parts 

buffy. Bill and feet light. 
Song: Similar to that of Chipping Sparrow, — "trrrr-rrr-rrr," — 

from which Mr. llidgway says that "it is difficult sometimes 

for the most critical listener to distinguish it.' ' 
Season : Rare summer resident in southern New England. 
Breeds : In all parts of its United States range, but casually in the 

northerly sections. 
Nest : On the ground in woods, and in swamp tussocks, or in a ground 

hollow like the Ovenbirds, and composed chiefly of leaves. 
Fggs : 4-5, clear white, specked with reddish brown. 
Bange: Eastern United States, north to southern New York and 

southern New England, west to eastern Nebraska and Texas, 

south, in winter, to Cuba and Central America. 

This compact, soberly clad Warbler is not at all common 
north of New Jersey, and, even where it is plentiful, it is 
very likely to escape notice ; for its colouring is such as to 
make it blend with the ground upon which it nests, or with 
the branches and trunks of trees where it frequently creeps 
and circles in feeding, after the manner of the Brown 
Creeper. Its nest seems also to be well concealed, and 
generally in remote places, for the descriptions of it are 
infrequent. 



Warblera SONG-BIRDS. 

Blue-winged Warbler: Helminthophila pinus. 

Length : 4.75 inches. 

Male : Above olive-green. Wings a slatish blue with white bars ; tail 
plain slate. Forehead and under parts clear yellow, dark stripe 
through eye. Bill bluish black. 

Female : Paler throughout, with a general olive cast. 

Song : Sharp and metallic, drawling and continuous. 

Season : May to September. A common summer resident. 

Breeds : Throughout range. 

Nest : On or near the ground ; sometimes in the centre of a plant tuft. 
Made of grass, etc., and rather deep and bulky. 

Eggs : 4-5, white, with reddish dots. 

Bange : Eastern United States, from southern New York and south- 
em New England southward ; in winter Mexico and Guate- 
mala. 

The name of this bird is misleading to the novice, as the 
blue of the wing is dull and inconspicuous, and not blue at 
all in the sense in which this colour distinction is applied 
to the Bluebird and Jay. It is well to remember the fact 
that only two or three of our New England birds are " true 
blue," and that the term, when applied to the Warblers 
especially, simply means either a bluish gray, or slate, which 
seems barely different from plain gray at a short distance. 

These Warblers are not a bird of gardens and open places, 
preferring well-brushed woods, but come frequently into the 
orchard in the blossoming time, and search the trees care- 
fully for insects, as they feed almost wholly upon spiders, 
larvae, and beetles, such as are found in bark, bud, or flower. 
They are very beautiful birds, with brilliant plumage, and 
dainty little tricks and manners, and are usually seen con- 
sorting in pairs. 

Golden- winged Warbler : Helminthophila chrysoptera. 

Length : About 5 inches. 

Male: Yellow crown and wing bars. Above bluish gray. Chin, 
throat, and eye stripe black. Throat divided from sides of 
head by white line. Below ashy white, tinged with yellowish. 
Bill and feet blackish. 

90 



SONG-BIRDS. Warblers 

Female : Olive above. Below dusky, eye stripe gray. 

So7ig : An insect-like sound, "zee-zee-zee ! " 

Season : May and September. 

Breeds : North from northern New Jersey and northern Indiana, and 

southward along the Alleghanies to South Carolina. 
Eggs and Nest : Same as last species. 
Bange : Eastern United States, north to southern New England, 

southwestern Ohio, and southern Minnesota. 

The Golden-winged Warbler seems to be considered rare, 
or only locally common, in many parts of its range. It 
comes about the orchard sparingly in May, but has a habit 
of retiring very suddenly into dense underbrush, which ren- 
ders its identification difficult. Its name also is very delu- 
sive ; for, if you go out to search for a gorgeous bird with 
canary-yellow wings, you will never suspect this bird, with 
small golden splashes on the iving coverts only, of being the 
Golden-winged Warbler. 

All Warblers depend upon their markings rather than 
song for their identity, which renders the majority of the 
tribe of greater interest to the scientist than to the novice. 

In fact, until you have named four or five of the com- 
monest species as landmarks, you will be considerably con- 
fused, and feel oftentimes inclined to scold the brilliant 
beauties, and tell them that they are bores, like gaily dressed 
people who have no conversational ability; and also that 
fine feathers do not make fine voices, but quite the reverse. 
Then some gloomy recess in the pines will be lighted by 
the flitting birds, like sun motes filtering through the 
branches, and all is forgiven, and you will say, " I knoiv, at 
least, that these are Warblers/^ which, after all, is some- 
thing. 

Nashville Warbler: Helminthophila ruficapilla. 

Length : About 5 inches. 

Male and Female : No bars on wings or tail. Clear yellow heloio. 
which remains constant all the season. Above olive-green, 
brightening on the rump and shoulders. Slate-gray head and 
neck, obscure chestnut spot on poll ; wings and tail brownish. 
Bill and feet dark. Female dull olive. 
91 



Warblers SONG-BIRDS. 

Song: Feeble — " Que-ar-Que-ar-Que-ar," a note wliich Audubon 

says sounds like the breaking of twigs. 
Season : Summer resident, perhaps, from late April to September and 

October, but only plentiful as a migrant. 
Breeds : From New England northward. 
Nest: On the ground, sometimes in mossy banks. Nest made of 

fibres, pine-needles, etc. , with a lining of the softer grasses and 

hair. 
Eggs : 4, blush white (if fresh), thickly speckled. 
Bange: Eastern North America to the Plains, north to the Fur 

Countries. Mexico in winter. 

This brilliant Warbler is a common summer resident from 
Massacbusetts northward, but I think irregularly so in this 
part of Connecticut. It visits us freely, however, in May 
or sometimes the last week in April, and usually appears in 
greater numbers on its return trip in the fall. They are shy 
birds, prying about the borders of woodlands, and here, in 
the fall migration, they haunt a belt of wild hemlocks that 
border the rocky banks of a stream ; Dr. Warren says that 
in the southward migration in Pennsylvania, they are seen 
in small parties feeding among the willows along the banks 
of streams and ponds. 

The name " Nashville " was applied to this Warbler by 
Wilson, who discovered it near Nashville, Tenn., but it is 
another case of a poor name for a beautiful bird, and, like so 
many other titles, unsatisfactory in the extreme. The ac- 
cepted English name of a bird should embody some of its 
personal attributes, as the Latin title frequently does ; 
ruficapilla, from rufuSy red, and capilla, hair, signifies that 
the bird has red markings on his head. Why is Nashville 
given as an English equivalent ? The American Ornitholo- 
gists' Union has a magnificent chance to show its inventive 
ability in such cases, and then, perhaps, the Wood Warblers, 
as a family, may be better known by the masses. 



92 



SONG-BIRDS. "Warblera 

Parula Warbler : Compsothlypis americana. 

Blue TelloW'hacTced Warbler. 



Length : 4.50 inches. 

Male and Female: Above slate-blue, triangular spot of greenish 
yellow back of shoulders. Chin and throat yellow. Wings 
brownish with two white bars ; two white spots on tail. Belly 
white, reddish brown band across breast. Markings of under- 
parts variable. Bill black above and flesh-coloured below. 
Feet light. In spring the female closely resembles the male, 
but lacks the brown wash on breast. 

Song : Shrill wiry — " Chirr- rirr-irr-reeh." (Nehrling.) 

Season : April to October. 

Breeds : Eastern United States and northward. 

Nest : In swamps where the usnea moss is plentiful, or, at least, never 
far from water. Nest a delicate structure of filmy moss, sus- 
pended from a slender branch. 

Uggs : 4-5, with reddish spots. 

Mange : Eastern United States, west to the Plains, north to Canada, 
and south in winter to the West Indies and Central America. 

In early May, before the apple trees are in bloom, if you 
look up among their branches you will see this airy little 
bird flitting in and out, pausing every moment, head down 
in Titmouse fashion, then raising its head again to utter its 
chirping song, and, lifting its wings, seems half to fly, half 
to be blown from branch to branch. 

This is the bird that awakened Burroughs, when a boy, 
to the unfamiliar birds that lodge in very familiar woods. 
He writes, under title of "The Invitation," in "Wake 
Kobin " : " Years ago, when quite a youth, I was rambling in 
the woods one Sunday with my brothers, gathering black 
birch, wintergreens, etc., when, as we reclined upon the 
ground, gazing vaguely up into the trees, I caught sight of a 
bird that paused a moment on a branch above me, the like 
of which I had never before seen or heard of . . . . How the 
thought of it clung to me afterward ! It was a revelation. 
It was the first intimation I had had that the woods we 
knew so well, held birds that we knew not at all." 

y'6 



Warblers SONG-BIRDS. 

So it is with each one of us. Some day a bird absolutely- 
new and unknown flies through the orchard or sings above 
the familiar footpath through the woods, which, though it 
is meant to be a " short cut " to somewhere, is often rendered 
a loitering-ground by the magic of these very bird voices 
that speak so directly to us. 

A special gift of sight is needed to search out these tree- 
flitting Warblers, but in this case the nest of the Parula will 
tell you of its whereabouts if you are so lucky as to find it. 
No other bird of our fauna builds a structure akin to its 
swinging, eery, moss nest, and the day you find it must be 
noted with red ink in your journal. (See Building of the 
Nest, p. 20.) 

Yellow Warbler: Dendroica mstiva. 

Summer Yelloivbird. 

Plate 10. Fig. 1. 

Length: 4.75-5 inches. 

Male and Female: Above rich olive-yellow, brightening on the rump; 
breast and under parts golden-yellow. Breast streaked with 
cinnamon-brown. Wings and tail olive-brown edged with yel- 
low. Bill lead-coloured ; feet light brown. Female darker with 
streaks on breast faintly marked or absent. 

Song: Rapid warble, "Sweet -sweet -sweet -sweet -sweet -sweeter- 
sweeter?" Seven times repeated. 

Season : First week in May to middle September. 

Breeds : In all parts of its North American range. 

Nest : In the crotch of some terminal branch of a fruit tree, or stout 
shrub, made of the frayings of milkweed stalks lined with 
fern wool and hair. 

Eggs : 4-5, greenish or grayish white, spotted and blotched with lilac 
tints and red-browns. 

jRange : North America at large, except southwestern part, south in 
winter to Central America and northern South America. 

In early May, often on May-day itself, if the weather is 
clement, when the marsh-marigolds are vanishing from the 
swamps, and the cherry trees are in bloom, the Yellow 
Warblers descend upon the gardens and orchards. 

They come like whirling leaves, half autumn yellow, half 

94 



SONG-BIRDS. Warblers 

green of spring, the colours blending as in the outer petals 
of grass-grown daffodils. Lovable, cheerful little spirits, 
darting about the trees, exclaiming at each morsel that they 
glean. Carrying sun glints on their backs wherever they 
go, they should make the gloomiest misanthrope feel the 
season's charm. They are so sociable and confiding, feeling 
as much at home in the trees by the house as in seclusion. 

This bird is one of the particular victims which the Cow- 
bird (see page 167) selects to foster its random eggs, but 
the Warbler puts its intelligence effectively to work, and 
builds a floor over the unwelcome egg, and repeating the 
expedient, if the Cowbird continues her mischief, until 
sometimes a three-story nest is achieved. In spite of the 
Warbler's seeming preference for man's society, it builds 
also in lonely fields and byways. The most beautiful nest 
that I have found, and which is now before me, was set in 
the crotch of an old elder bush, about six feet from the 
ground, by the side of the marsh lane. The outside is com- 
posed of glistening milkweed flax, which forms a felt-like 
case, and likewise lashes the nest to its support. The inte- 
rior, to the depth of an inch, is made of the wool from the 
stems of young ferns, matted into a material resembling 
soft sponge ; and inside this, to give shape and stability, are 
woven a few horsehairs. The Yellow Warbler sings from 
its arrival until July, but has no second song period. 

Black- throated Blue Warbler: Dendroica ccerulescens. 



Length : About 5 inches. 

Male: Above bluish slaty, rather than blue; lighter on forehead. 
Black throat, extending along sides of body. White spot on 
wings ; outer tail feathers, white spotted. Beneath white. 
Bill and feet dark. 

Female : Entirely different. Greenish olive above, light yellow under- 
neath, wing spots smaller. 

Song: A plaintive strain, not particularly noticeable. Call note, 
♦'Z-ip, z-ip." 

Season : Early May to September in northern New England. Here as 
a migrant in May and October. 
96 



"Warblers SONG-BIRDS. 

Breeds : From northern New England and New York northward. 

Nest : Close to the ground in bushes. 

Eggs : Typical Warbler's eggs. 

Range : Eastern North America to the Plains. West Indies in winter. 

Again we find the term blue used in reference to a War- 
bler whidi is of an inconspicuous, dull slate colour. This 
Warbler is likely to be one of the most difficult of its tribe 
to identify, as its plumage, being wholly devoid of yellow, 
is not easily seen among the trees. 

All authorities agree that its favourite nesting-haunts are 
near swampy ground and in laurel thickets, especially in 
those parts of Connecticut where it breeds. Mr. Averill 
notes the bird as a " tolerably common migrant," but I can 
find no breeding-record for it in this vicinity. Still, I think 
that they sometimes breed here, for I saw a pair on May 30, 
in the laurel glen near Aspetuck, who were evidently col- 
lecting building-materials; for the male bird had the dry 
tendrils of a small vine in his beak. 

Myrtle Warbler: Dendroica coronata, 

Tellow-rumped Warbler. 

Plate 16. Fig. 2. 

Length: 5.50 inches. 

Male : Slate colour, striped and streaked with black. Crown, sides of 
breast, and rump yelloto. Below whitish ; upper breast black. 
Two white cross-bars on wings ; tail with white spots. In loin- 
ter, brownish olive ; yellow of rump constant, but lacking on 
crown and breast. Bill and feet black. 

Female : Resembling the winter male. 

Song : A few notes only — " Twhip-tweeter-tw^eter. " 

Season : Most plentiful Warbler in the migrations, and also a winter 
resident. 

Breeds : From the northern United States northward. 

Nest : In low shrubs, particularly evergreens. 

Eggs : 4-6, the usual Warbler variety. 

Bange : Eastern North America chiefly, straggling, more or less com- 
monly, westward to the Pacific ; winters from the Middle States 
and the Ohio Valley, southward to the West Indies and Central 
America. 

' 96 



SONG-BIRDS. Warblers 

In the spring and fall migrations, and particularly in the 
spring, this is one of the most conspicuous of the smaller 
migrant -birds. In autumn it grows more sociable, and in 
winter it comes freely about the barn and sheds in search of 
food, often in the company of Juncos, Tree Sparrows, and 
Titmice, individuals of this species, wintering as far north 
as Massachusetts ; a few, according to Dr. Allen, remaining 
at Cape Cod. 

In winter it forsakes its usual insect diet for such ber- 
ries as it can find. Dr. Warren says that in Pennsylvania 
the berries of the poison-sumach {Rhus venenata) are a 
favourite article of its food, during the early winter, and 
these Warblers congregate in considerable numbers where 
the bush is abundant. 

Speaking of the baleful poison-sumach, with its scatter- 
ing clusters of whitish berries, it is well for the amateur 
ornithologist to be on the watch for it, as its poison is so 
insidious that it affects many people through substantial 
clothing. It may be easily distinguished by the fact that 
the flower clusters come from the leaf axils, and the berries 
are whitish and semi-translucent, while the harmless species 
of suma<?h bear their flowers in terminal spires, which turn 
to sticky, opaque berries of a rich, brilliant red. Hamilton 
Gibson's clever jingle will prove a talisman, against either 
poison-sumach, or the commoner poison-ivy {Rhus toxlcoderir 
dron) to those who will memorize it : — 

" Berries red, 
Have no dread I 
Berries white, 
Poisonous sight I 
Leaves three 
Quickly flee!" 

Magnolia Warbler: Dendroica maculosa, 

Black-and- Yellow Warbler. 



Length : 4.76-5 inches. 

Male and Female : Above, back dark olive, crown a bluish ash, bor- 
H 97 



Warblers SONG-BIRDS. 

dered by white lines, and these framed in black, extending 
across forehead and sides of head. Wings dark, bars white, 
and small spots of white on tail. Bump and under parts rich 
yellow, the latter streaked with black across the breast and 
along the sides. Bill and feet dark. 

Song : Not particularly distinguishable. 

Season : Migrant, common the middle of May. 

Breeds : Breeding from northern New England, New York, and Michi- 
gan, to Hudson's Bay Territory. 

Nest and eggs : Warbler type. 

Bange : Eastern North America to the base of the Rocky Mountains ; 
in winter, Bahamas, Cuba, and Central America. 

The Magnolia Warbler is one of the most gaily dressed 
of all his dainty family, and is quite easily identified by his 
distinct markings. It is only a migrant here, lodging with 
us a while in May, and passing through in autumn. But be 
sure to look for it in May, for in October it wears the duller 
travelling cloak with which Nature protects so many of her 
feathered children in their journey through the leafless 
trees. 



Chestnut-sided Warbler : Dendroica pensylvanica. 



Length : About 5 inches. 

Male and Female : Top of head yellow. Black stripe running through 
the eye, and a black spot in front of it. Back and wing cov- 
erts streaked black and yellow. Throat and breast white, with 
chestnut stripe starting at the black mustache and extending 
down the sides. Belly black ; feet brown. Female less highly 
coloured. 

Song: '"Che-'che-'ch-'cheea." 

Season: First week in May to September. Also very plentiful in 
migrations. 

Breeds : From central Illinois, and probably northern Georgia north- 
ward. 

Nest : In bushes and low trees ; when in the latter a forking branch 
is chosen. Nest on general plan of the Yellow Warbler's, but 
coarser and less woolly. 

Eggs : Some simply speckled ; others prettily chained with chestnut. 

Bange : Eastern United States and southern Canada ; west to the 
Plains. Visits the Bahamas and Central America in winter. 



SONG-BIRDS. "Warblera 

A most abundant and sociable bird in the spring migra- 
tion, the Chestnut^sided Warbler becomes shy and retiring 
in the breeding-season, and in the fall journey keeps well 
in the protection of the trees. 

During the second week of May, 1892, after a storm 
which had lasted three days, a perfect swarm of Warblers 
appeared in the garden, among the evergreens and on the 
walks, and, after arranging their wind-beaten plumage, dis- 
persed to satisfy appetites that seemed to have been tried 
by a long fast. Upon going to the door about seven o'clock 
in the morning, I was greatly surprised to see a dozen or 
more of the Chestnut-sided Warblers, chiefly males, feeding 
eagerly upon some minute insects that they picked from 
the gravel, while among them were several Eedstarts, mov- 
ing backward and forward with the airy motion which is 
peculiarly theirs, and which seems as if they were propelled 
by a puff of wind rather than their own volition. The War- 
blers were so fearless, owing to their hunger, that they only 
moved a few yards away when I went out to see what they 
were eating. Upon scanning the gravel on the path, I found 
that it was literally plastered together by myriads of dead 
ants, which had been drowned out of their hills at the roots 
of some large trees, and washed down. The same condition 
obtained in other parts of the garden, and these ants, together 
with the abundant earth-worms and various seeds in the lawn 
and many low-flying insects, brought together such a carni- 
val of migrants as I had never before seen outside of the 
cases of a museum, — Thrushes, Warblers, Flycatchers, and 
Finches of all descriptions, that seemed to have been swept 
into the garden shelter by the fury of the storm. 



Bay-breasted Warbler: Dendroica castanea» 

Length: 5.25-5.75 inches. 

Male : Above streaked with black and grayish olive. Forehead, 

cheeks, and sides of head black, enclosing a chestnut patch. 

Chin, throat, upper breast, and a streak along the sides dull 

chestnut. Below buffy. White cross-bars on wings and white 

99 



Warblers SONG-BIRDS. 

spots on tail. Bill and feet dark. Female with crown olive- 
green and chestnut striped with black. 

Song : Not marked, insect like. 

Season : A rare migrant here. Seen in May, and less frequently on 
the return trip. 

Breeds : From northern New England and northern Michigan north- 
ward. 

Nest : Large and rough, for so small a bird, made of tree moss and 
twigs, and fur-lined. 

JSggs : Blue-green and spotted. 

Bange : Eastern North America, north to Hudson's Bay ; winters in 
Central America. 

This Warbler is an irregular migrant in the greater part 
of its range ; sometimes it will not be seen at all in a locality 
where in previous seasons it was fairly constant. The chest- 
nut colouring of the breast is the distinctive mark by which 
it may be recognized, and this dull red breast renders it 
conspicuous and more likely to be discovered than many 
plainer, though more common species. In full spring plu- 
mage the male looks, at a little distance, like a well-fed Robin 
in miniature. 

The Bay-breasts seem, according to many authorities, to 
be very freaky and capricious as to the course of their 
migrations, and it is said they return to the South by a dif- 
ferent route from that by which they travelled up in spring, 
no two people being able to agree with certainty as to the 
locations where they may be found. Dr. Allen, in his " List 
of Massachusetts Birds,'' says that they are common in 
both migrations, varying in abundance; while Mr. Minot 
says that as a rule these birds are rare in spring in eastern 
Massachusetts and are never seen in autumn, — the con- 
sensus of opinion being that in some seasons the birds take 
a westerly course in spring and an easterly in autumn, or 
vice versa. All of which goes to prove that you may have 
considered this Warbler an unknown bird in your locality, 
and some May morning in looking out your window you will 
find a little party of them almost peering in at you. 



100 



SONG-BIRDS. Warblers 



Black-poll Warbler: JDendroica striata. 

Length : About 5.50 inches, 

Male : Black cap, grayish white cheeks, general upper parts striped 

gray, black, and olive. Breast white, with black streaks. 

White spots on outer tail feathers ; upper mandible brownish 

black, lower yellowish; feet flesh-coloured. 
Female : Crown and back, olive-green, faintly streaked with black. 

Paler than male all through. 
Song: Call note, "Screep,-screep." Torrey says that, short as the 

song is, it contains a perfect crescendo and a perfect decres- 

cendo. 
Season : Late May and late October. One of the latest arrivals among 

the migrants. 
Breeds : From northern New England northward. 
Nest: In evergreens. Nest large for the size of the bird, as Mr. 

Brewster notes several nests 5 inches across and 8 inches deep. 

They are made of terminal shoots of conifers, lichens, rootlets, 

and sedges, lined with grass panicles. 
Eggs : Not especially marked. 
Mange: Eastern North America to the Rocky Mountains, north to 

Greenland, the barren grounds, and Alaska. South in winter 

to northern South America. 

The jolly Black-poll has all the vivacity and activity of a 
Flycatcher, and, in fact. Dr. Coues gives it credit for many 
of the Flycatcher's attributes, and says that it catches 
insects on the wing with the same ease as the Wood Pewee. 

Some authorities say that the Black-poll climbs and walks 
about the trees in the manner" of the Black and White 
Warbler. I do not think that it does this ; for I watched a 
number of them at short range last spring, and while the 
birds seeyned to creep, they really Jlew about by means of a 
short and rapid flip of the wings. 

Their call notes, which were the only ones I heard, were 
very weak and scarcely distinguishable from other wood 
sounds, and I have often mistaken them for the creaking of 
a branch. Audubon says : "... its notes have no title to 
be called a song. They are shrill, and resemble the noise 
made by striking two small pebbles together more than any 
other sound I know." 

101 



Warblers SONG-BIRDS. 

Blackburnian Warbler: Dendroica blackburnite. 

Torch Bird. 

Length: 5.50 inches. 

Male : Black head, striped with flame, black wings and tail with white 
markings, black streak on throat. Throat and breast flame- 
colour. Lower parts yellowish. Bill and feet dark. 

Female : Olive-brown above, entire breast yellow. 

Song : A thin warble, with little variety, ending with a high Z — . 

Season : A migrant here ; seen occasionally through May, but is less 
uncommon in September. 

Breeds: From the northern and more elevated parts of the eastern 
United States northward. Dr. Merriam says that a few breed 
in Connecticut, and Dr. Allen notes them as casual residents in 
Massachusetts. 

Nest : Well concealed by bark and moss ; built in small trees and 
bushes, preferably evergreens. 

Eggs : 4-6, white, with lilac and chestnut shell markings, chiefly on 
the larger end. 

Bange : Eastern North America to the Plains ; in winter south to the 
Bahamas, Central America, and northern South America. 

Another Warbler, with, a totally inadequate name. It 
should be called the Torch Bird, for half a dozen of them, as 
they flash about in the pines, raising their wings and jerk- 
ing their tails, make the darkest shadows seem breaking 
into little tongues of flame. Look for them in the autumn, 
and you will find that even then their colours will vie with 
the most brilliant leaf tints. But because some one named 
Blackburn first discovered or reported the Warbler, it bears 
the name Blackburnian. Burroughs says : " The hum seems 
appropriate enough," . . . but "... the Orange-crowned 
Warbler would seem to be his right name, his characteristic 
cognomen." 

Black-throated Green Warbler : Dendroica virens. 

Length : 5 inches. 

Male: Back and crown bright olive-yellow^ sides and front of 
head clear yellow. Entire throat and upper breast black, 
black continued in a stripe down the sides. Lower parts 
102 



SONG-BIRDS. Warblera 

yellowish white. Wings and tail brownish, white wing bars. 

Bill and feet dark. 
Female: Chin yellowish, throat dusky, below pale whitish. In au- 
tumn plumage the male resembles the female. 
Song : Cheerful interrogative, " Will you co-ome, will you co-ome, 

will you?" 
Season : A summer resident, also abundant in the migrations. Comes 

in April, retires to woods to breed in May, emerges in September. 
Breeds: From New England, New York, and the higher parts of 

Pennsylvania northward. 
Nest : At the forking of high branches ; made of twigs, bark, grasses, 

and lined with hair, roots, down, etc. 
Eggs : 4-5, white, sprinkled and veiled with brown-purple. 
Bange : Eastern North America to the Plains, north to Hudson's Bay 

Territory ; in winter, south to Cuba and Panama. Accidental 

in Greenland and Europe. 

You will have but little trouble in recognizing this bril- 
liant and talkative little Warbler, which comes to us both 
as a summer resident and as a migrant. In late April I am 
always sure to see its green and gold feathers among the 
hemlocks on the east side of the garden, while it continually 
utters its anxious and persuasive notes, to which I eagerly 
respond. It repeats a little phrase that separates it from 
the indistinct songs of so many of its tribe : " Will you 
co-ome, will you co-ome, will you ? " it says, giving a par- 
ticularly emphatic pause on the last two syllables. 

It has never nested in the garden, and only comes to it 
before the breeding and after the moulting season. 

Pine Warbler: Dendroica vigorsii. 

Length: 5.50-6 inches. 

Male : Above bright yellowish olive, clear yellow below, dark streaks 

on sides. Yellow eye line ; white bars on wings. White 

blotches on two outer tail feathers. 
Female : Dull throughout, dirty white instead of yellow breast. 
Song: A delicately trilled whistle. (Minot.) 
Season: A locally common summer resident, May to October and 

November. Possibly a resident. Some remain in the Middle 

States all winter. 
Breeds : All through its range, beginning in the Carolinas in March. 
Nest and Eggs : No special marks of identification. 

103 



Warblers SONG-BIRDS. 

Bange : Eastern United States to the Plains, north to Ontario and 
New Brunswick, wintering in the South Atlantic and Gulf 
States, and the Bahamas. 

The Pine Warbler, the largest of the tribe, shares with 
the Myrtle and Palm Warblers the distinction of being one 
of the three hardiest of the tribe. Like so many of the 
family, they are most frequently seen in hemlock and pine 
woods, and also in parks and gardens where these conifers 
have been planted freely. This Warbler has none of the 
delicacy of shape or beauty of colouring belonging to his 
kin. Even the male in full plumage shows few dainty 
variations and blendings of colour, and it has a heaviness of 
build that is more Finch-like. 

The best way to designate its song is to say that it has 
some of the qualities of a Sparrow's ; remembering to keep 
in mind (as with all Warblers) that the notes are never clear 
and pure as in the case of Sparrows and Thrushes, but are 
half whispered, as if to save the strain on the vocal chords. 
This Warbler combines some of the traits of a Creeper and 
Flycatcher. It often circles about the tree trunks like the 
Nuthatch or Brown Creeper, sails into the air after insects, 
and then descends to the ground, all in the space of a few 
minutes. 

Yellow Palm Warbler: Dendroica palmarum hypo- 
chrysea. 

Length : 6 inches. 

Male and Female : Chestnut crown, brownish, verging on olive above, 

with some dark streaks ; rump and wing coverts yellowish. 

Under parts clear yellow, with bright chestnut streaks on the 

sides. Wings and tail dull, dark brown. Bill and feet dark. 

Female not essentially different. 
Song : Unknown to me. It gives a few whispering notes as it feeds. 
Season : A migrant, middle of April and October. 
Breeds : Northward from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. 
Nest : On the ground, and very deep ; made of weeds, grasses, and 

lined with moss, fine grasses, and hair. 
Eggs: 2-4, rosy white, marked with brown spots at the large end. 
Bange : Atlantic States north to Hudson's Bay ; winters in the South 

Atlantic and Gulf States. 

101 



SONG-BIRDS. "Warblers 

This Warbler — only distinguishable by slightly supe- 
rior size and a more evenly yellow breast from the Yellow 
Eedpoll of the Interior and Western States — is a lover of 
cool, brisk weather, and is almost the first of its tribe to 
pass upward to its northern breeding-grounds. It spends a 
few early April days in the leafless roadside bushes, often 
appearing when the first hepaticas are in bloom, and leav- 
ing before the shadbush blossoms, and, though it feeds on 
the ground, it has the habit of making little sallies into the 
air like the Redstart and the Flycatchers. 

It does not return in autumn until warm weather is a 
thing of the past, and is not at all abashed if a hard frost, 
or even a flurry of snow, overtakes it, seeming to partake of 
the nature of the Yellow-rumped Warbler, who is the winter 
companion of Chickadees and Kinglets. 

Prairie Warbler: Dendroica discolor o 

Length: 4.75-5 inches. 

Male and Female : Colours much broken up. Upper parts olive-greeq 
or yellow, chestnut-red streaks across back between the wings. 
Under parts beautiful yellow ; also yellow streak running from 
nostril back of eye, and two yellow wing bands. Sides of neck 
and body streaked with black ; also black line through eye. 
Inner webs of outer tail feathers white. Female paler, and 
chestnut bars obscured. 

Song : " Wee-wee-chee-chee-chee-chee 1 " 

Season : Common May migrant ; also probably breeds here. 

Breeds : Through its United States range. 

Nest : In small trees or low brush, scrub pines, etc. Cedar and grape- 
vine bark, feathers and fern down, elaborate and beautiful. 

^ggs : 4, greenish white, wreathed on larger end with various browns. 

Bange : Eastern United States to the Plains, north to Michigan and 
southern New England ; winters in southern Florida and the 
West Indies. 

The diminutive Prairie Warbler, which may be known by 
the reddish streaks across its back, has a decidedly southerly 
range. It is quite abundant all through the Middle and 
Southern States, and fairly common along the Massachu- 
setts seaboard — Massachusetts seems to be its usual north- 

105 



Warblers SONG-BIRDS. 

ern breeding-limit, though Mr. Minot found a nest in north- 
ern New Hampshire. 

Dr. Coues says that it is remarkable for its quaint and 
curious song. I have never heard its best musical efforts, 
for its notes seem to me harsh, like the familiar call of the 
Ovenbird. 

Ovenbird; Golden-crowned Thrush: Seiurus 
aurocapillus, 

Plate 17. Fig. 1. 

Length : 5.75-6.50 inches. 

Male and Female : Olive-green above, wliite eye ring, two brown 
stripes on head, enclosing an orange crown. White below, with 
brownish spots in the centre of breast running into streaks 
on the sides. Brown bill, legs and feet flesh-coloured. 

Song: Call note, " Teacher-teacher-teacher 1 " given in gradual 
crescendo. The love-song liquid like that of the Water Thrush, 
but seldom heard. 

Season : May to October. 

Breeds : Northward from Kansas, the Ohio Valley, and Virginia. 

Nest : A ball of leaves and grasses on the ground with a side opening, 
hence the name Ovenbird, though the nest bears a closer resem- 
blance to the earth huts the Italian labourers build. 

Eggs: 4, cream- white, specked with brown-purple. 

Bange: Eastern North America, north to Hudson's Bay Territory 
and Alaska ; in winter southern Florida, the West Indies, 
and Central America. 

With the Ground Warblers we come again to birds with 
musical voices, who, even if they do wear more sober plu- 
mage, are a welcome change from the lisping prettiness of 
the previous groups. 

If you wish to identify the Ovenbird, or Golden-crowned 
Thrush, as he is still called, you must trust to sound rather 
than sight, for you will hear far oftener than see him. On 
his arrival in the early part of May, he comes familiarly 
about the garden, sometimes in company with the Veery, 
and spends a week, perhaps, among the shrubs and ever- 
greens, running out on the ground occasionally, with an 
alert air, as if looking for his mate. 

106 



PLATE 17. 




1. OVENBIRD. 
Length, 5.75-6.50 inches. 



2. RED-EYED VIREO. 

Length, 5.75-6.25 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS. Warblers 

At this time the bird appears like a small, slender 
Thrush, with a little golden-brown streak on the crown. 
Suddenly from the pines comes the half-defiant call, 
" Teacher, Teacher, TEACHER ! " each syllable accented, 
and rattled off with increasing volume, and you are quite 
incredulous that so small a bird can utter such a sound. 
The notes are familiar to you ; you have heard them a hun- 
dred times breaking the intense noon stillness of the woods, 
but you had supposed that they proceeded at least from a 
large Woodpecker; but no, it is the Ovenbird; and this 
call has given him a third name, — the Accentor. By the 
tenth of May they leave the garden and seek the lighter 
woods where, having paired, they go into deeper shade to 
build their homes. 

Hickory, oak, and beech woods, with fern-grown banks 
sloping to a stream, are their favourite haunts, and on these 
banks, where the ground is covered with leaves in various 
stages of decay, they build their hut-like nests. While 
thus occupied, the males give, at rare intervals, an exquisite 
little serenade to their mates, which is wholly different 
from the shrill call notes. It is most likely to be heard 
when the bird is on the wing in the early evening, and 
somewhat resembles the music of the Louisiana Water- 
thrush. Many people who are familiar with its nest 
and haunts have never heard this love-song. The nest 
is extremely difficult to locate; settled as it is into a 
ground hollow and roofed over, it may be easily passed 
by as a bunch of huddled leaves. Sometimes you may 
see a bird alight on the ground and run nimbly toward 
such a tuft, and that will be the best method of finding the 
nest, which, though it is cleverly hidden, often holds the 
unwelcome eggs of the Cowbird. All the singing and call- 
ing is done from the trees; and, as you look up in the 
uncertain wood-light, the singers appear to be only dusky 
specks, like the few last year's leaves that still lodge there. 
But when the rare music is heard, the little brown mote is 
transfigured, and soars above the trees. 



107 



Warblers SONG-BIRDS. 

Water Thrush: Seiurus noveboracensis, 

Woter-wagtail. 

Length : 5-6 inches. 

Male and Female : Above, including wings and tail, plain olive-brown. 

Under parts sulphur-yellow, specked everywhere, except a space 

in the middle of belly, with dark brown. Spots small on throat, 

and growing larger below. Bill and feet dark. 
Song : Liquid and Thrush-like. 
Season : Early May, late August, and September. 
Breeds : From northern New England northward. 
Nest : In inaccessible swampy places, especially sphagnum bogs, upon 

the ground, or between old stumps ; bulky ; made of moss, roots, 

and grass. 
Eggs .' 4-6, white and thickly speckled. 
Eange : Eastern United States to Illinois, and northward to Arctic 

America ; south in winter to the West Indies and northern 

South America. 

The Water Tlirusli usually appears at the same time as the 
Ovenbird, but never ventures with it into the garden. He is 
a water-loving- recluse, who seems to have learned his song 
from the brooks that tinkle and dance over the little pebbles, 
and is never content away from the voice of his teachers. 

If you catch a glimpse of him, away he goes, running 
through the leaves and tangled underbrush, wagging or 
jerking his tail in a very knowing way, and few land-birds 
will lead you such an uncertain dance through bog and 
briars as he will, if you have the pluck to follow him. 

Louisiana Water Thrush: Seiurus Tuotacilla, 

Length .• 6-6.25 inches. 

Male and Female . Peculiarly heavy, dark bill. Above grayish brown, 
with a brown crown and white line over the eye. Creamy white 
breast, sparingly streaked with brown. Legs lightish. 

Song .• A thrilling warble, interspersed with flute and water notes. 

Season : Summer resident, arriving the last of April. 

Breeds ; Through its United States range. 

Nest and Eggs : Like the last species, but often sunken in the ground. 

Bange : Eastern United States, north to southern New England and 
Michigan, casually to Lake George, west to the Plains; in 
winter, West Indies, southern Mexico, and Central America. 
108 



SONG-BIRDS. Warblers 

This Thrush, which, until comparatively lately, has been 
considered out of its range in New England, is a fairly com- 
mon summer resident all through this section and as far 
north in the state as Say brook. It differs chiefly from the 
Water Thrush in its superior size and heavier bill and the 
buff colouring of its lower parts ; but its principal point of 
identification at long range is the greater richness and mel- 
ody of its song. 

The past summer, in late June, a male of this species 
spent an entire morning in a secluded part of the garden, 
in some bushes near the pool. It was after the breeding- 
season (unless this individual was either belated or about to 
raise a second brood), but the song retained all of its spring 
volubility. The song first attracted me, and, after crawling 
cautiously through the tall grass, I discovered the singer. 

He was perching near by, in the lower branches of a 
scrubby arbor-vitse. He did not sing continuously, but, 
after waiting a few minutes, took up his refrain. Droop- 
ing his wings, he threw back his head, his smooth throat 
swelling with pent-up music. 

In a few minutes, he went down to the pool, took a few 
sips of water, and amused himself by running over the thick 
water-lily leaves, at the same time snatching insects from 
their edges. He next took a vigorous bath, sprinkling the 
water about with great force, and then retired into a clethra 
bush to plume himself. This completed, he sang once more, 
and he seemed to have a joyous yet serious message to im- 
part, rather than a flood of gossip. 

In the swamp in secluded recesses 

A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song. 



Sing on ! sing on, you gray-brown bird I 
Sing from the swamps, the recesses, pour 

Your chant from the bushes. 
liquid and free and tender I 
wild and loose to my soul 1 
O wondrous singer ! 

— Walt Whitman. 
109 



Warblers SONG-BIRDS. 

Mourning" Warbler : Geothlypis Philadelphia, 

Length : 5.25-5.50 inches. 

Male : Decidedly marked gray head and 7ieck, the feathers having 
black edges that give them a crape-like quality; the rest of 
upper parts yellowish olive. Throat and upper breast usually 
black, veiled with some ash-gray feathers. Bich yellow lower 
breast and belly. Wings and tail glossy olive-green. Upper 
mandible dark, lower mandible and feet flesh-coloured. 

Song : " Let me see, let me see, let me see, do ! " 

Season : A rare migrant, — May and September. 

Breeds: In the Berkshires, and from the mountainous portions of 
Pennsylvania, New England, New York, and Michigan north- 
ward. 

Nest and Eggs : Like those of the Maryland Yellow-throat. 

Bange : Eastern North America to the Plains ; Central America and 
northern South America in winter. 

The Mourning Warbler is seen here only as a migrant, but 
its appearance is so marked that it deserves mention even 
when others of the same genus of equal rarity, but of less 
distinctive plumage, are omitted. Dr. Coues refers to it 
as resembling in its appearance and behaviour a gay and 
agreeable widow, who is conscious that her weeds are becom- 
ing. Its general habits, like its song, somewhat resemble 
those of the Maryland Yellow-throat, but though a Ground 
Warbler, nesting and spending much time in the bushes and 
tangles, it does its most vigorous singing in the tree-tops of 
woods where the underbrush has been left imdisturbed. 

Burroughs says: "The Ground Warblers all have one 
notable feature, — very beautiful legs, as white and delicate 
as if they had always worn silk stockings and satin slippers. 
High Tree Warblers have dark brown or black legs and 
more brilliant plumage, but less musical ability." 

Maryland Yellow-throat: Geothlypis trichas, 

Plate 18. 
Length : 5-5.50 inches. 

Male : Above grayish olive on head, clearing to bright olive on rump. 
Under parts, under wing and tail coverts, beautiful yellow, 
grading to white in middle of belly. Forehead and sides of 
110 



PLATE li 




MARYLAND YELLOW-THROAT. 

1- Male. 2. Female. 

Length, 5-5.50 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS. "Warblers 

head masked with black, separated by ash-white line from 

crown. Black bill ; flesh-coloured feet. 
Female : Smaller, and colours less distinct ; mask wanting, as it is 

also in the young. 
Song : "Follow me, follow me, follow me ! " 
Season : From May to September. Common summer resident. 
Breeds : From Georgia northward. 
Nest : Large and deep, sometimes partly roofed over ; made of broad 

grasses, either on ground or in bushy tangles. 
Eggs : 4-6, white, sparsely sprinkled with brown. 
Bange : Eastern United States, mainly east of the Alleghanies, north 

to Ontario and Nova Scotia; in winter, South Atlantic and 

Gulf States and the West Indies. 

Next to the Yellow-Wood Warbler, this Ground Warbler 
is the best known and merriest of the entire clan, and easily 
identified by his mask, yellow throat, and distinctive song. 

Early in May you will see a flash of yellow among the 
white flowers of the dogwood (Cornus Jlorida), or quivering 
in the willows, and a bright eye peers through the black 
mask and a sweet, persuasive voice calls, " Follow me, fol- 
low me, follow ! '^ If you wisely accept the invitation, you 
will become so well acquainted with all of his little innocent 
airs and graces that before the summer has passed you will 
recognize his plainer, maskless mate, and perhaps note the 
plumage development of the young. 

In following this Merry Andrew across some old pasture 
or along a thickly shrubbed fence, you will also discover his 
nest. The nest that I have now before me was found not 
far below the garden wall, in an old meadow, where a tangle 
follows the watercourse, and was lodged between tall weeds 
and grasses at a little distance from the ground. It is of a 
long cup-shape, the form of the little baskets in which straw- 
berries used to be sold, and which were called pottles. It is 
quite bulky, made of wide grass-blades and leaves, and very 
thick at the bottom, the nest being shallow in the interior 
and lined with vanilla grass. This nest is not roofed over, 
but shows a tendency to it by being higher and slightly 
curved on one side, as if the bird had intended to form a 
roof and then changed its mind. 

Ill 



WarblerB SONG-BIRDS. 

Yellow-breasted Chat: Icteria virens, 

Plate 19. Fig. 1. 

Length: 7.50 inches. 

Male and Female : Olive-green above ; brilliant yellow throat, breast^ 
and wing linings. Whitish belly, white line over eye, and white 
spot beneath. Brownish glaze on wings and tail. Strong, curv- 
ing, blue-black beak. Feet lead-coloured. 

Song : A varied whistle, with a decided ventriloquistic quality, inter- 
spersed with mocking syllables. 

Season : Common summer resident. May to September. 

Breeds : All through its summer range. 

Ifest : Bulky, made of leaves, bark, and dead twigs, lined with grasses ; 
placed in briary and inaccessible bushes. 

Eggs : 3-4, often of unequal size, white, mottled with buff and spotted 
with red and lilac. 

Jtange: Eastern United States to the Plains, north to Ontario and 
southern New England, south, in winter, to eastern Mexico 
and Guatemala. 

A bird easily recognized by its large size and brilliant 
colour. The Chat has reversed the motto so often preached 
at children, and is heard more than seen. When seen, how- 
ever, it is the picture of healthy, well-groomed beauty, with 
a voice at once powerful and melodious, and a reputation 
for shyness of disposition, which trait takes the form of 
a bewitching elusiveness that it seems to know is very 
attractive. 

Its call notes, and the mocking gibes which it utters from 
the bushes to the distraction of the bewildered passer-by, 
are wholly different from the fervent spring song. Then 
it yields to an ecstasy of feeling, and soars singing into the 
air, trailing its long legs behind like a Heron, and look- 
ing, it must be confessed, very foolish; but after a few 
weeks it abandons its aerial gymnastics and contents itself 
with taunting, teasing, and misleading both man, beast, and 
bird. 

On general principles the Chat is a mischief-maker, who 
starts petty deceits and fosters them, is quick to grasp a 
situation, knowing at once the most provoking thing to say, 
and is, in fact, a wood-imp. Near the garden wall there is 

112 




1—^ ^5 



< ^ 



< Z 




3 ^ 



SONG-BIRDS. Warblers 

a tangle of cedars, before which are the kennels where the 
dogs are chained at night. Early one morning they set up 
a chorus of grieved and disappointed howls, and, on going 
to find the cause, I found them tugging at their chains and 
casting longing glances toward the cedars. I listened a 
moment, and there came a succession of whistles, like their 
master's call, and I found that a Chat was working off his 
spirits in this way. A few days later, in going up the lane 
road with a very slow horse, I heard the same whistle from 
the bushes, and it was not imagination alone that gave these 
syllables to the chattering : " Whew ! whew ! whew ! Hi ! 
get a whip. Chuc-archuck, chuck. Whew ! Hi ! " Then 
the Chat flashed into the open, just to show that it was 
really he himself, and was gone. 

Hooded Warbler: Sylvania mitrata. 

Length: 5-5.25 inches. 

Male : Black hood, chin, and upper breast. Yellow face, lower breast, 
and under parts. Above rich olive ; white spots on outer tail 
feathers. Bill black, feet light. 

Female : Similar, but with the cowl restricted or lacking. 

Song : " Che-we-eo-tsip, tsip, che-we-eo ! " 

Season : May to September. A rare summer resident here, according 
to Mr. Averill. 

Breeds : Through its United States range. 

Nest : In bushes in damp woods, of bark strips, skeleton leaves, cat- 
kins, and grasses, woven with spider webs. 

Eggs : 4, white, with reddish brown speckles. 

Bange : Eastern United States, west to the Plains, north and east to 
Michigan, southern New York, and southern New England; 
in winter, West Indies, eastern Mexico, and Central America. 

In general appearance like the Yellow-throat, save that 
the black on the head forms a complete hood (except for the 
yellow face) meeting under the chin like a cape. This 
jaunty little bird looks as if he had assumed his black cowl 
for masquerading purposes only, and might be expected to 
throw it off at any moment. Quite plentiful in some parts 
of this state J it has been known to nest near Bridgeport, 
I 113 



Warblers SONG-BIRDS. 

and also in the vicinity of Saybrook. It has a particular 
fondness for our Connecticut swamps, where the pink azaleas 
and laurels crown the intersecting banks, and it usually 
nests at the time when the azalea fades, and the laurel 
comes into bloom. 

Wilson's Warbler : Sylvania pusilla. 

Black-capped Warbler. 

Length : 4.75 inches. 

Male and Female : Black cap. Above olive-yellow, olive-yellow edg- 
ings to wings and tail. Under parts rich yellow, shades to olive 
on sides. Line over eye and foreliead deep yellow. Bill dark 
above lower mandible and feet light. Female without the 
black cap. 

Song : An indistinct warble. 

Season : An uncommon migrant, seen here in May. 

Breeds : Chiefly north of the United States. 

Nest : On the ground. 

Eggs: 4-5, white, heavily spotted and sprinkled with mauve and 
lilac. 

Bange: Eastern North America, west to and including the Rocky 
Moimtains, north to Hudson's Bay Territory and Alaska, 
migrating south to Eastern Mexico and Central America. 

This striking bird ranges quite freely through the state 
as a migrant, but little is known of its New England breed- 
ing possibilities. Mr. H. D. Minot found its nest on Pike's 
Peak at an altitude of 11,000 feet, almost at the timber line. 

Canadian Warbler: Sylvania canadensis* 

Length: 5.25-5.50 inches. 

Male : Above ash-blue, crown spotted with arrow-shaped, black marks 
blending on the brow. Below pure yellow, with a showy neck- 
lace of black longitudinal bars across the breast. Yellow line 
over eye, black patch under it. Bill dark, feet flesh-coloured. 

Female : Paler all through, and the black obscured. 

Song: "A fine sibilant chirp, reminding one of a canary's song, but 
broken and incomplete." (Nehrling.) 

Season : Common migrant in the latter half of May. 

Breeds : Casually in New England, and north to the tree limit. 

Nest : Of dry grass and leaves on the ground. 

114 



PLATE 20. 




AMERICAN REDSTART. 
1. Male. 2. Female. 

Length, 5-5.50 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS. Warblers 

Eggs : 4-5, white, with irregular small blotches of reddish brown. 
Bange : Eastern North America, westward to the Plains, and north 

to the Arctic regions ; south, in winter, to Central America and 

northern South America. 

The Canadian Warbler may be identified by the beauti- 
fully wrought jet necklace which he wears across his yellow 
throat, the black crown streaks, and the peculiar bluish ash 
back. He has charming manners, and a dainty way of giv- 
ing a little old-fashioned bob courtesy whenever he sees a 
passer-by. His song is quite pretty, but not by any means 
a certain mark of identification ; in fact, I do not think that 
there are more than eight or ten of the whole Warbler tribe 
whose notes will serve as a guide to any one but an ornithol- 
ogist well up in field practice. 

American Redstart: Setophaga ruticilla» 

Plate 20. 

Length : 5-5.50 inches. 

Male : Above brilliant blue-black, white belly, sides of body and wing 

linings salmon-orange^ which colour sometimes flushes the 

breast. Some orange on base of wings ; tail feathers half 

orange and half black. Bill and feet black. 
Female: Brownish olive above and the orange of the male replaced 

by yellow. 
Song: Resembling that of the Yellow Warbler, "Sweet, Sweet, 

Sweeter!" but the word is only used three times, while it is 

repeated seven times by the Warbler, 
Season : May to September ; a common summer resident. 
Breeds : From middle United States northward. 
Nest : A carefully made structure of moss fibres and sometimes hors^ 

hair, set in a forked branch usually about twenty feet from the 

ground ; I have seen one at the top of a small spruce. 
Eggs : Indistinguishable from other Warblers. 
Bange: North America, north to Fort Simpson, west regularly to 

the Great Basin, casually to the Pacific Coast; in winter the 

West Indies, and from southern Mexico through Central 

America to northern South America. 

Again the colour title of a bird is a misnomer. Eedstart, 
a corruption of the German roth stert, red tail, being very mis- 
leading in this day of accurate colour distinctions. Mrs. 

115 



Vireos SONG-BIRDS. 

Olive Thome Miller is on the right path when she describes 
it as wearing the Oriole's colour combination, — except that 
the Kedstart has a more salmonish cast. 

This Warbler, when it flutters through the spruces, seems 
the veriest mite of creation, appearing much smaller than 
its measurements indicate. The female is equally charming 
in her brown and yellow habit, and together they are one 
of the most interesting couples of the bird world, as well as 
being capital illustrations of perpetual motion. 

Though the Kedstart is a summer resident here, it is 
more visibly abundant during the May migration, as those 
that breed retire from the vicinity of dwellings to nest. I 
once found a nest in process of construction in a spruce in 
a remote part of the garden, and had the satisfaction of 
seeing it completed and occupied. Its composition was 
very similar to that of the Yellow Warbler, but smaller, 
and with the addition of some green moss which decorated 
the outside. One of their most characteristic motions while 
searching for food, is to raise the wings slightly and alight 
on a higher branch or else one a little in the rear of the 
spot where they were before, as if a breeze had lifted them. 

In brilliancy of flame-like colouring the Eedstart only 
yields precedence to the Scarlet Tanager, Baltimore Oriole, 
and the Blackburnian Warbler, and, in contrast to the dark 
evergreens, it seems a wind-blown firebrand, half glowing, 
half charred. 

FAMILY VIREONID^: VIKEOS. 

Red-eyed Vireo: Vireo olivaceus, 

Plate 17. Fig. 2. 
Length: 5.75-6.25 inches. 
Male and Female : Olive-green above, crown asli with a dark marginal 

line. White line over eye and a brownish stripe through it. 

Below whitish, shaded with greenish yellow on sides and on 

under tail and wing coverts. The iris ruby-red. Bill dusky 

above and light below, feet lead-coloured. 
Song : Emphatic staccato and oratorical, — " You see it — you know 

it, — do you hear me ? Do you believe it ? " 
Season : Common summer resident ; late April through September. 

116 



SONG-BIRDS. Vireoa 

Breeds : Through its United States range and northward. 

Nest : Cup-like, pensile in slender forked branch of maple, birch, or 

apple tree ; made of bark fibres, cobwebs, bits of paper, scraps 

of hornets' nests, etc. 
Eggs : 3-5, usually 4, white, with brown spots on the larger end. 
Bange: Eastern North America to the Rocky Mountains, north to 

the Arctic regions. 

The Vireos are a very interesting family, which, though it 
may be somewhat overlooked in the general spring chorus, 
comes to the front in the latter part of May. Of the six 
Vireos that inhabit New England, five are reasonably plenti- 
ful, and of these the Ked-eyed is the most familiar. You 
cannot fail to name this Vireo, for he is omnipresent ; if you 
do not see him, you hear him ; if he chances to be silent, 
which seldom happens, he peers at you with his sparkling, 
ruby eyes that look out between a white line and a brown 
stripe. Wilson Flagg has forever identified him with the 
name of the Preacher^ in reference to his elocutionary 
powers. " You see it — you know it, — do you hear me ? 
Do you believe it?" he hears the Vireo say, and if you 
keep these words in your mind you will recognize the bird 
the first time that you hear his song. 

May, June, July, and August, and still this Vireo sings 
on ; in mid- August he does not articulate as nicely perhaps, 
but as the month ends he has recovered his speech and 
delivers a farewell exhortation in September. 

Four pairs nested in the garden this season, and after the 
young had flown the parents stayed about the same trees, 
singing from five in the morning on through the scorching 
noontime — when the locust strove in vain to drone them 
down — until sunset sometimes, never leaving the particu- 
lar tree where they began. Not that they sit and prate in 
a state of idleness ; — far from it, they are constantly glean- 
ing their daily bread. This is very well for Matins and 
Vespers, but the noon song becomes monotonous, it is in one 
key, and there is such a thing even as too much good conver- 
sation. At noon in summer, silence softened by the whis- 
pering leaves is best. At such times the Vireo seems to me 

117 



Vireos SONG-BIRDS. 

like an over-active housewife, who accompanies every 
motion of her broom or flash of her needle with random 
advice, maxims, etc., having all active gifts, but lacking the 
grace of judicious silence. 

Though the Vireo's pensile nests are usually built upon 
one plan, — a cup or little pocket in a branch fork, — you 
will never find two alike. Of half a dozen collected in the 
garden, one is of cobwebs, soft cedar bark, and white 
worsted; one of paper, fibres, and bits of hornets' nest; 
and a third is a perfect collection of scraps of all sorts. 

The Eed-eyed is the largest of the Vireos, and may be 
distinguished from the Warblers, with whom you will be 
apt to confuse them, by its heavier build and a slight 
Shrike-like hook at the point of the upper mandible. 

Warbling Vireo: Vireo gilvus. 

Length : 5.50-6 inches. 

Male and Female : Above pale olive-green ; head and neck ash ; dusky 
line over eye. N'o bars on loings. Below dull yellowish ; whiter 
on throat and belly ; deeper on sides. 

Song : A liquid and expressive voice, but not so powerful as the Red- 
eyed. "Wilson Flagg gives it these words : "Brig-a-dier — Brig- 
a-dier — Brigate ! " The song lacks the jerky, colloquial style. 

Season : May to September and early October. 

Breeds : Through its United States range. 

Nest : Similar in construction and shape to the Red-eyed, with gener- 
ally a free use of moss ; in trees, usually at some height from 
the ground. 

Eggs : Slightly smaller ; otherwise not to be distinguished from the 
last-named species. 

Bange : North America in general, from the Fur Countries to Mexico. 

The Warbling Vireo is a common summer resident, and a 
constant and delightful songster, having much more music 
in its voice than any other member of the family. It war- 
hies, as its name implies, the notes rippling easily ; and an 
air of pleasant mystery is given to the performance by the 
shyness that keeps the singer in the leafiest tree-tops. Plain- 
ness is the chief characteristic of the plumage of this Vireo ; 
it has no sharply contrasting colours, no wing bars, and a 

118 



SONG-BIRDS. Vireos 

dusky line through the eye. It frequents the garden in 
spring and at midsummer, but prefers greater seclusion for 
its nest-building. When in the garden, it invariably sings 
either in the elms or in a particular birch, locations that 
the Purple Finch also chooses. Samuels thinks the song of 
these two birds so identical that he has frequently mistaken 
one for the other. I partly agree with him ; but the Vireo 
lacks the power and richness of tone that the Einch pos- 
sesses. I have heard this Vireo warbling with all his might 
while brooding on the nest. 

There is a lane, a mile away, that separates a birch wood 
from a clearing, and the Warbling Vireo is housed, to his 
complete satisfaction, in the trees of this border-land. So 
plentiful are they in the birches, that it is perfectly safe in 
late May and June to take people to see and hear the birds 
in this haunt, for you are sure that they will make good 
your promise, at least in part, and give a private concert 
morning or afternoon ; they decidedly disapprove of evening 
performances. 



The Philadelphia Vireo ( Vireo philadelphicus) closely re- 
sembles this species, but is very rare in New England. 

Yellow-throated Vireo : Vireo fiavifrons. 



Length : 5.75-6 inches. 

Male and Female : Splendid yellow throat and upper breast ; cheeks 

yellow, shading to olive-green on head, back, and shoulders. 

Yellow line over and around the eye. Wings and tail dark 

brown. Two white hands on wings; tail edged with white. 

Bill and feet lead-coloured. 
Song : Rather sad — " Pree6-preea-pree6-preea." 
Season : Common summer resident ; May to September. 
Breeds : Through its United States range. 
Nest and Eggs : Pensile as usual, hut more beautifully finished than 

that of any other species ; usually at some height from the 

ground. Eggs normal. 
Bangs : Eastern United States, south, in winter, to Costa Rica. 

119 



Vireos SONG-BIRDS. 

The Yellow-tliroated Vireo is of a stout, vigorous build, 
and has all the brilliancy of colouring of the Chat. Though 
in northern New England it is counted rare, it is quite 
abundant in southern Connecticut, Kew York, and Penn- 
sylvania. Its somewhat melancholy song is varied by 
cheerful outbursts; and Mr. Bicknell says that it is the 
only Vireo that he has noticed singing while on the 
wing. 

All authorities agree as to the great beauty of the nest of 
this species, even though they differ as to its exact location. 
It is considered to be wholly a woodland bird, loving tall 
trees and running water, haunting the same places as the 
Solitary Vireo. Dr. Warren says that during the migra- 
tions he has seen the Yellow-throat in orchards and in the 
trees along sidewalks and lawns, but that in Pennsylvania 
it breeds in the woods, nesting twenty-five to thirty or forty 
feet from the ground. 

On the other hand, Mr. Minot describes the nest as, — 
*^ altogether one of the prettiest nests to be found. It is 
placed in the fork of a horizontal branch, from three to 
fifteen feet above the ground, as often in the orchard as in 
the wood J though I have found it in pines." 

Blue-headed Vireo: Vireo solitarius. 

Solitary Vireo. 

Length: 5.26-5.75 inches. 

Male and Female : Above dark olive, head bluish gray. White line 
from beak to and around eye. Below white, with yellow wash 
on sides and dusky tail and wings. Some tail feathers white- 
edged. Female, head dusky olive. 

Song: "Pitched in a higher key than the other species." (Steams 
andCoues.) 

Season: Sometimes a summer resident, but common from middle 
New England south in the migrations only. 

Breeds : From New England northward, and also in the Middle States. 

Nest and Eggs : Resembling those of the last species, but the nest 
being sometimes placed in bushes. 

Bange : Eastern United States to the Plains, north to southern British 

Provinces ; in winter, south to Mexico and Guatemala. 

120 



SONG-BIRDS. Vireoa 

This Vireo, whose mark of identification is an ash-blue 
crown, is by no means as much of a recluse as the name 
Solitary would indicate. It does, indeed, prefer remote and 
swampy woods, but, though much rarer than the preceding 
species, is often seen about orchards, and in the migrations 
exhibits many of the cheerful, sociable family qualities, 
peering at you in the woods, and often coming quite near in 
its rather anxious curiosity. 

Its song is of the unmistakable Vireo type, but is rather 
shrill, and is continued for a long period ; according to Mr. 
Bicknell, as late as October 9 on its return migration. To 
learn to judge accurately and quickly between the songs of 
the five Vireos is an accomplishment that you must not 
expect to acquire until your ear is thoroughly seasoned ; but 
three of the five — the Ked-eyed, the Warbling, and the 
White-eyed — will give you but little trouble. 

White-eyed Vireo: Vireo noveboracensis. 

Length : 5 inches. 

Male and Female : Above olive-green, rump obscurely yellow. Below 
white, sides of breast and belly clear yellow. Yellow line from 
beak to and round eye. Two yellow wing bars. Iris white. 
Tail feathers yellow-edged. Bill and feet dark lead-coloured. 

Song : Colloquial. "Delivered with strong expression and very vari- 
able in intonation." 

Season : May to September. Common summer resident. 

Breeds : Through its United States range, but more sparingly in the 
Northern States. 

Nest and Eggs : Similar to the Red-eyed, but in a low bush or vine ; 
eggs decidedly smaller than the other species. 

Bange : Eastern United States, west to the Rocky Mountains, north 
to southern New England and Minnesota ; south in winter to 
Guatemala. Resident in the Bermudas. 

This small, nervous Vireo, with a Wren's vehement scold- 
ing powers, is a common garden and wood-lot bird, taking 
refuge in bushy places like the Chat, Catbird, and Maryland 
Yellow-throat. In other parts of New England it is rare 
in varying degrees. Dr. J. A. Allen, writing of it from 
Springfield, Mass., says that out of a thousand of the smaller 
land-birds taken during three years by different collectors 

121 



Shrike SONG-BIRDS. 

not a single White-eyed Vireo was found among them. It 
is at times noisily talkative, and prefers the tangle to the 
tree-tops, managing, however, to give great expression to its 
simple song; sometimes scolding and arguing, and then 
dropping voice, as if talking to itself. 

Without having the imitative and ventriloquistic powers 
of the Chat, you cannot fail to be reminded of that exasper- 
ating gamin when the White-eyed Vireo, ambushed in some 
blackberry tangle and trembling for the safety of his nest, 
undertakes to give you a piece of his mind. 

FAMILY LANIID^: SHRIKES. 
Northern Shrike: Lanius borealis* 

Butcher-bird. 

Plate 21. 

Length: 9-10.50 inches. 

Male and Female: Powerful head, neck, and blackish beak with 
hooked point. Above bluish ash, lighter on the rump and 
shoulders. Wide black bar on each side of head from the eye 
backward. Below light gray with a brownish cast, broken on 
breast and sides by waved lines of darker gray. Wings aoid 
tail black, edged and tipped with white. Large white spot on 
wings, white tips and edges to outer quills of tail. Legs bluish 
black. 

Song : A call note, and in its breeding-haunts a sweet, warbling song. 

Season : A roving winter resident ; seen from November to April. 

Breeds : North of the United States. 

Nest : In a low bush ; a basis of sticks, upon which is matted and felted 
a thick, warm superstructure of bark-strip, grass, and soft vege- 
table substance. (Coues.) 

Eggs : 4-6 ; marblings of reddish brown and purple covering the gray- 
green ground. 

Bange : Northern North America, south in winter to the middle por- 
tions of the United States (Washington, D.C., Kentucky, 
Kansas, Colorado, Arizona, northern California). 

The Northern Shrike, though somewhat irregular in its 
comings and goings, is always present in varying numbers 
as a winter resident. In common with all winter birds, its 

122 



SONG-BIRDS. Shrike 

movements are guided by the food supply, and if severe 
cold and heavy snows drive away the small birds and bury 
the mice upon which it feeds, the Shrike must necessarily 
rove. 

Grasshoppers, beetles, other large insects, and field mice 
are staple articles of its food in seasons when they are ob- 
tainable ; in fact, next to insects, mice constitute the staple 
article of its diet, and protection should be accorded it on 
this account, even though we know the Shrike chiefly as 
the killer of small birds. The victims are caught by two 
methods: sneaking, — after the fashion of Crows, — and 
dropping upon them suddenly from a height like the small 
Hawks. In the former case the Shrikes frequent clumps of 
bushes, either in open meadows or gardens, lure the little 
birds by imitating their call notes, and then seize them as 
soon as they come within range. They often kill many 
more birds than they can possibly eat at a meal, and hang 
them on the spikes of a thorn or on the hooks of a cat-briar 
in some convenient spot, until they are needed, in the same 
manner as a butcher hangs his meat, and from this trait the 
name Butcher-bird was given them. 

Their depredations are by no means confined to lonely 
fields and gardens. I was told by a friend living in Chicago, 
that last winter a Shrike visited her back y^rd regularly in 
search of English Sparrows. He would hide in the bushes, 
and, after killing half a dozen Sparrows, impaled them on 
the frozen twigs of a lilac bush. After they had hung a 
few days, he eat portions of them, and then proceeded to 
kill more, a proceeding for which he should receive un- 
limited applause. 

In the Hawk-like method of killing, the Shrike sits motion- 
less upon the bare branch of a high tree, and, as the little 
birds pass unconsciously underneath, he drops upon one 
with unerring aim. He will also try to seize cage birds 
that are hung out of doors or even inside the window. 
Last spring I was startled by a violent blow, struck upon a 
window near which a Canary's cage stood upon a chair. 
The Canary was trembling with fright, and on going outside 

123 



Waxwing SONG-BIRDS. 

I found some Shrike's feathers, with their wavy markings, 
adhering to the glass. He had evidently swooped without 
taking the heavy glass into his calculations, and had bruised 
his breast. 

Twice only, in middle April, I have heard the Shrike's 
real song; the notes are soft and very musical, and our 
bird-loving Danish gardener tells me that in his country the 
native species is prized as a cage bird and often shows 
great cleverness as a " mocker." 

FAMILY AMPELID^: WAXWINGS. 
Cedar Waxwing: Ampelis cedrorutn. 

Cedar-bird. 

Plate 22. 

Length: 6.50-7.25 inches. 

Male and Female : Above grayish cinnamon. Crest, breast, throat, 
wings, and tail, purplish cinnamon. Black line from back of 
crest, extending through eye, and forming black frontlets. 
Secondary wing quills tipped with waxy points. Tail feathers 
banded with yellow, and sometimes red tips. Bill and feet 
black. 

Song : A buzzing call, — "Twee, twe^-zee." " A dreary whisper," 
Minot calls it. 

Season : A resident, breeding here, and wandering about in flocks the 
remainder of the year, feeding upon various fruits, and in win- 
ter upon cedar berries. 

Breeds : Irregularly through its North American range. 

Nest : A deep bowl made of twigs, lined with gi-ass and feathers, and 
much miscellaneous material, either in a crotch, or saddled on 
the limb of a stout cedar bush or a tree, preferably the apple 
tree. 

Eggs : 3-5, blue-white, with brown and lilac spots. 

Bange : North America at large, from the Fur Countries southward ; 
in winter, south to Guatemala and the West Indies. 

You will at once recognize the Cedar Waxwing by its crest, 

yellow tail tips, red wing appendages, and straight black 
bill. Its feathers are more exquisitely shaded than those of 
our more brilliantly coloured birds. The specimen I have 

124 



PLATE 22. 




CEDAR WAXWING. 

Length, 6.50-7.25 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS. Martin 

before me is a male in full plumage, who came to an un- 
timely end by flying against a treaxiherous wire trellis. 
Nowhere except in the black frontlet, the tail, and wing 
tips does he show a distinct colour demarcation; all the 
rest of the feathers are tinted like a skilful blending of 
water-colours. The Cedar Waxwings only remain in pairs 
during the breeding-season (from late May until August), 
and at other times travel in flocks. It is only when in 
these flocks that they are conspicuous about the garden and 
old pastures ; for when they are nesting they are very shy 
and stealthy in their movements. 

Last May a flock of fifty or more lodged for a whole morn- 
ing in a half-dead ash tree, near the house, so that seated at 
ease, I could focus my glass carefully, and watch them at 
leisure. They were as solemn as so many demure Quakers 
sitting stiffly in rows ; once in a while they shifted about, 
and then seemed to do a great deal of apologizing for fan- 
cied jostlings. Their movements interested me greatly, 
until finally, to my surprise, I saw an illustration of the old 
story of their extreme politeness in passing food to one 
another, which I had always regarded as a pretty bit of 
fiction. A stout green worm (for they eat animal as well as 
vegetable food) was passed up and down a row of eight 
birds ; once, twice it went the rounds, until half way on its 
third trip it became a wreck and dropped to the ground, so 
that no one enjoyed it, — a commentary, in general, upon 
useless ceremony. I could not help wondering, however, 
whether it was all disinterested politeness, or whether the 
worm was of a variety repugnant to Cedar-birds ; as Hamlet 
put it, " Caviare to the general." 

FAMILY HIRUNDINID^: SWALLOWS. 
Purple Martin: Progne stibis, 

Plate 23. 

Length : 7.50 inches. 

Male and Female : Deep, glossy, bluish purple, turning to black on 
wings and tail, which is forked. Bill dark ; feet black. Female 
more brownish and mottled, below grayish white. 
125 



Martin SONG-BIRDS. 

Song : Very soft and musical, beginning "peuo-peuo-peuo.** 

Season : Late April to early September. 

Breeds : Through range, rearing two broods a season. 

Nest : A little heap of leaves ; in the East in boxes, but in the West 

in hollow trees. 
Eggs : 4-6, glossy white. 
Iia7ige : Temperate North America, south to Mexico. 

Without being precisely a common bird, the Purple 
Martin is with us every summer, and its iridescent coat is 
a familiar sight. Its size and colour easily separate it from 
the rest of the family, and the sweet song completes the 
identification. 

A little after dawn, in early May, you may see pairs of 
these Martins hovering in mid-air, half caressing, half quar- 
relling, while from time to time you will hear the liquid 
" peuo-peuo-peuo " merging into a more throaty ripple, like 
laughter. 

The Martin is a favourite, and always seems to have been 
regarded as such. Houses are provided for his shelter, 
children are cautioned not to molest him, and the farmer, 
usually so callous toward bird attractions, has no word for 
him but of praise; as he consumes a vast quantity of 
evil insects, and these, too, of a larger size and different 
class from those captured by other Swallows, and he does 
not claim a single bud or berry to discount his utility. 

Even among the wild men he was always a protected 
guest. Wilson relates that the Choctaw and Chickasaw 
Indians used to strip the leaves from small trees near 
their encampments, and hang upon the prongs, hollowed- 
out gourds that the Martins might nest in them, and the 
Mississippi negroes also hung similar contrivances on long 
canes to coax the Martin to stay. 

The Purple Martin is as courageous as the Kingbird in 
attacking Crows and Hawks, but for all this he seems 
unable to cope with the English Sparrow, who is steadily 
and persistently appropriating his houses. The Sparrow 
has the advantage of being more prolific, as well as more 
gross and brutal in its methods, and represents in the bird 

126 



PLATE 23. 




PURPLE MARTIN. 

1- ^lale. 2. Female. 

Length, 7.50 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS. SwaUowa 

world a class of emigrants whose human prototypes the 
native American can barely withstand. 

Cliff Swallow; Eaves Swallow: Petrochelidon luni- 

frons. 

Length : 5-5.60 inches. 

Male and Female : Above brilliant steel-blue ; beneath dusky white. 
Sides of head, throat and chin rufous. Wings and tail glossed 
with black. Bill dark ; feet brown. White, crescent-like front- 
let, hence its specific name lunifrons, from luna, the moon, and 
frons, front. 

Song : A squeak, more than a twitter. 

Season : Early April to late August. 

Breeds : In colonies, raising two broods a year. 

Nest : Either a bracket, or gourd-shaped, with the opening at the neck ; 
of mud, with straws and feather-lined ; placed under eaves or 
rocky cliSs. 

Eggs : 4-6, white with brown and purple markings. 

Bange : North America at large, south in winter to Brazil and Para- 
guay. 

This familiar Swallow, which we in the East know as the 
bird who builds its much-modified, gourd-shaped nest under 
the eaves of old houses, is in the West wholly a cliff-dweller. 
With us the shape of the nest depends greatly upon the site 
chosen, many nests being merely elongated brackets. When 
it builds under the protection of shelving cliffs, the nests are 
of the typical bottle shape, and are often squeezed as closely 
together as the cells of a wasp nest. 

This species is almost as brilliantly coloured as the Barn 
Swallow, but lacks the grace in flying which the sharply 
forked tail gives to the latter. Like all its tribe, it feeds 
upon insects, which it takes on the wing. 

Barn Swallow: Chelidon erythrog aster, 

Plate 24. Fig. 2. 

Length : Variable, 6-7 inches. 

Male and Female: Glistening steel-blue back, tail deeply forked. 
Brow and under parts rich buff, which warms almost to 
127 



SwaUowB SONG-BIRDS. 

brick-red on throat. A partial steel-blue collar. Tail shows 

white band from beneath. Female smaller and paler. 
Song : A musical twitter like a rippling, merry laugh, — " Tittle-ittle- 

ittle-eS." 
Season : April to September. 
Breeds: Everywhere. 
Nest : A shallow bracket, made of pellets of mud and straw, placed 

on or against rafters, etc. 
Eggs : 4-6, white, curiously spotted with all shades of brown and 

lilac. 
Mange : North America in general, from the Fur Countries southward 

to the West Indies, Central America, and South America. 

The Swallows belong to the air, as the Warblers do to the 
trees and the Thrushes to the ground. Swallows, unless 
when gathering before the fall migration, are seldom seen 
perching, except upon telegraph wires, and they leave these 
with such sudden and forking flight that they seem spurred 
by the electric current. If, in the daylight hours, you see 
a bird in rapid but nonchalant pursuit of insects, you may 
safely assume that it is either a Swallow or the Chimney 
Swift, for the Flycatchers have a different flight, the Night- 
hawk is more ponderous, and Whip-poor-wills seldom take 
to the air between dawn and dusk. 

The distinguishing mark of the Barn Swallow is his sharply 
forked tail, brick-red throat, and buff breast. It is the com- 
monest species and the most familiar, owing to the fact that 
it builds so freely about barns and dwellings. Its nest is 
one of the earliest that country children learn to know ; and 
the first eggs that many a boy has stolen and concealed, 
while his conscience was still keen enough to prick him, 
have been those of the Barn Swallow. 

Several broods are sometimes raised in a season, the hatch- 
ing continuing to late July. In fact, the last brood has en- 
tered the world, through our hayloft window, the first week 
in August. These Swallows have very sympathetic natures ; 
for when danger threatens or disaster destroys a brood, the 
friends quickly gather about and seem to offer advice or 
condolence. 

128 



PLATE 24. 





1. TREE SWALLOW 
Length, 6 inches. 



2. BAKX SWALLOW. 

Length, variable, 6-7 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS. SwaUowfl 

Tree Swallow: Tachycineta bicolor. 

White-bellied Swallow. 

Plate 24. Fig. 1. 

Length : 6 inches. 

Male and Female: Entire upper parts iridescent green, inclined to 

black on wings and tail. Under parts soft white. Bill black ; 

feet dark. Female dull. 
Song : A warbling twitter. 
Season : April to the middle of September. A few stragglers remain 

later. 
Breeds : Irregularly through range. 
Nest : In dead trees, often in great colonies ; here I have seen two or 

three pairs occupying old Woodpecker holes in telegraph poles. 
Eggs : 4-9, usually 6, pure white. 
Bange : North America at large, from the Fur Countries southward, 

in winter, to the West Indies and Central America. 

She is here, she is here, the Swallow ! 
Fair seasons bringing, fair years to follow ! 

Her belly is white, 

Her back black as night. 

— Greek Swallow Song, J. A. Stmonds, Trans. 

The Tree, or White-bellied Swallow seems nearly to cor- 
respond with the bird which, was the herald of spring in 
Greece ; for though our Swallow is a beautiful green above, 
except when at close range or when the light glances across 
its feathers, it appears black. The Tree Swallow, in times 
before the country was inhabited by white men, like many 
of its family, lived in hollow trees, but it now nests in Martin 
boxes and other convenient nooks, though it may be still 
found colonizing in old sycamores and willows. 

If you live near the sand dunes or by a strip of beach 
edged with scrub bushes, go out and watch the gyrations of 
these lovely Swallows before the fall migration, the first 
part of September ; you may also see the Bank Swallows or 
Sand Martins gather at the same time. 

The Tree Swallow always seeks the vicinity of water at 
the time of the migration, probably because insects are more 
plentiful in such places. This has led people to form the 
K 129 



SwaUowB SONG-BIRDS. 

theory that it passed the winter under the mud bottom of 
large ponds and rivers in a state of hibernation. The mat- 
ter has even been treated seriously, in spite of its manifest 
absurdity, the construction of the bird's breathing-apparatus 
precluding such a possibility. 

Bank Swallow: Clivicola riparia. 

Sand Martin. 

Plate 19. Fig. 2. 

Length : 5 inches. The smallest of our Swallows. 

Male and Female : Above dull mouse colour, wings and tail brownish, 

below white, with a brownish breast band. Bill and feet dark. 
Song : A giggling twitter. 

Season : Common summer resident, arriving in May. 
Breeds : All through its North American range. 
iVesf ; In tunnelled holes in clayey banks ; made of grass and lined 

with a few feathers. 
Eggs : 4-6, pure white. 
Mange : Northern Hemisphere ; in America, south to the West Indies, 

Central America, and northern South America. 

The Bank Swallow is the plainest, as well as the smallest, 
of the family. His back is the colour of the damp mottled 
gray sand with which he is closely associated, and he shows 
no glints of purple, steel-blue, and buff, like his brethren, 
but wears a dusky cloak fastened about his throat with a 
band of the same colour. 

There is always a large colony of these Swallows near 
Southport, where Sasco Hill is cut off abruptly by the 
Sound. The bank is high, and shows a face of various 
grades of loam and some strata of gravel ; below there is a 
bit of stony beach, bare at low tides, but in storms the 
water breaks half-way up the bank. A few feet above high- 
water mark you can see the holes in the bank which are the 
entrances to the Swallows' nests. They are not arranged 
with any sort of regularity, but the birds have chosen inva- 
riably the stiff loam, which was the least likely to crumble 
away in the boring-process. None of the tunnels are within 

130 



SONG-BIRDS. Tanager 

three feet of the top, and they are almost all wider than 
they are high, as is frequently the case with mouse-holes. 
These tunnels vary from a foot to eighteen inches in length, 
and at the end are the wisps of grass and feathers that 
hold the fragile white eggs. The feathers of many different 
birds are found in the nests of this colony, — the breast- 
feathers of Ducks, Gulls, and various Shore-birds, which are 
not in this vicinity at the Swallow's nesting-time. In the 
autumn and winter many Water-birds are wounded by gun- 
ners, but escape notice, and, drifting ashore, become wedged 
between rocks and stones, and I think that it is mainly 
from the scraps of down adhering to such carcasses that 
this colony lines its nests. 

The Swallows, as a family, show great inventive qualities 
in the way in which they have adapted their habits to the 
encroachments of civilization. Now, almost wholly domes- 
ticated, they seem to prefer man's company, and each one 
has appropriated a separate location for nesting. The Bank 
Swallow adheres the most closely to his original haunts; 
but even he may be found occasionally building under a 
bridge. 



The Eough-winged Swallow is another species, which 
closely resembles the Bank Swallow, being slightly larger ; 
but, as you would scarcely distinguish it when on the wing, 
it does not need a separate description. 

FAMILY TANAGRID^: TANAGERS. 
Scarlet Tanager: JPiranga erythromelas, 

Plate 26. 

Length : 6.75-7 inches. 

Male : A rich scarlet. Wings and tail black. Feet deep hom colour. 

Female : Olive-green above ; dull olive-yellow below. Wings and tail 

dusky. 
Song : Mellow and cheerful, — " Pshaw ! wait — wait — wait for me, 

wait ! ' ' Call note ' ' chip-chur ! ' ' 
Season : Arrives the middle of May, and leaves in late August. Nq 

longer common. 

131 



Tanager SONG-BIRDS. 

Breeds : Through its United States range. 

Kest : Rather flat and ragged ; made of sticks, root fibres, etc. ; placed 

on the high horizontal branch, preferably of an oak or pine. 
Eggs : 3-5, dull green, thickly spotted with brown and mauve. 
Bange: Eastern United States, west to the Plains, and north to 

southern Canada ; in winter the West Indies, Central America, 

and northern South America. 

A few years ago the Scarlet Tanager was as familiar 
hereabout as the Yellow Warbler, or the Wood Thrush; 
but now it has, in a great measure, left the gardens and 
frequented woodlands, and become the resident of lonely- 
woods. Together with all of our brilliantly plumed birds, 
it has been persecuted almost out of existence. oSTow that 
this bird slaughter is against the law in all communities 
that pretend to be civilized, the killing is at least abated, 
but the Tanager's confidence in humanity has not yet 
returned. 

It is impossible to mistake this bird in full spring dress, 
for any other. His fall coat, however, is olivaceous like the 
female, and, as for the unmoulted young, they are a motley 
lot, mainly olive-green, but with little tufts of scarlet, yellow, 
and bright green, appearing at random, as if they were exam- 
ples of feather patchwork. It is easy to see the wisdom 
that clothes the female and young of this flaming Tanager 
in sober colours. If a brooding female wore a scarlet cover- 
ing, it would surely betray the nest to all enemies ; and if 
the young were likewise conspicuous, they would be gobbled 
by Hawks before they understood that Hawks are hardly 
friendly. 

The Tanager, though of a brilliant scarlet, lacks the 
luminous quality that reveals the Baltimore Oriole and 
Blackburnian Warbler, when partly concealed in dark green 
foliage; you will be most likely to find it in a grove of 
oaks, hickories, or swamp-maples, where there is an under- 
growth of ferns, — not briars, — near by a stream or flag- 
edged pond. It is a fruit and berry eater, as well as the 
consumer of beetles, and other large winged insects, together 
with many larvae. 

132 



PLATE 26 




1. PINE GROSBEAK, 
Length, 9 inches. 



2. WHITE-THROATED SPARROW. 
Length, 6.50-7 inches. 



SONG-BIBDS. Pine Grosbeak 

FAMILY FRINGILLID JE : FINCHES, SPARROWS, GROS- 
BEAKS, ETC. 

Pine Grosbeak: JPinicola enucleator, 

Plate 26. Fig. 1. 

Length : 9.10 inches. 

Male : Heavy bill, giving it almost the appearance of a Parrot. Above 
general colour strawberry-red, with some gray fleckings, deep- 
est on head and rump. Wings and tail brown ; some feathers 
edged with lighter brown and some with white. Below paler 
red, turning to grayish green on belly. Bill and feet blackish. 

Female : Ash-brown, with yellowish bronze wash on rump, head, and 
breast. 

Song .• " A subdued, rattling warble broken by whistling notes." 

Season : A winter visitor whose appearance is as irregular as the 
length of its stay. 

Breeds : Far north in evergreen woods ; also casually in Maine, New 
Hampshire, and Vermont, but mainly north of the United 
States. 

Nest : Saddled on a branch or in a crotch. Twigs, roots, and fibreg 
below, with a soft upper section. 

Eggs : 4, a greenish blue ground with dark brown spots. 

This finely coloured Grosbeak comes to us only in win- 
ter, and can be easily identified at a season when such 
brilliant birds are rare. It is a resident of northern New 
England, and, however much it may wander about in the 
more southern states, it can only be regarded as an irregular 
and capricious migrant. 

The song of this species is said to be very attractive, but 
is of course seldom heard so far away from the breeding- 
haunts. Mr. Bicknell calls it a subdued, rattling warble, 
which is sometimes heard as early as February and March, 
and Dr. Coues calls the birds fine musicians. They come 
in pairs or in flocks, and as the young males do not attain 
their strawberry-coloured feathers until the second year, 
and the females are a brownish yellow, the proportion of 
red birds in these flocks is quite small. 

Severely cold winters and strong gales seem to blow them 
down to us ; a number appeared here in the snowy season 
of 1892-93, while in the open winter of 1893-94 I did not 

133 



Purple Finch SONG-BIRDS. 

see or hear of one. Twice I have noticed pairs keeping 
together and apart from the flock. In January, 1893, when 
the snow had been on the ground since November, two 
pairs roosted nightly in a very thick honeysuckle. In the 
day the birds spent their time between an arbor-vitae hedge 
and a group of pines. After an unusually severe snow 
they became very hungry and descended to the ground for 
food, and, while they refused to eat criunbs, relished some 
cracked corn which had been soaked in boiling water until 
it was partly softened. 

Aside from their striking size and colour, and the fact 
that they come in winter, a season at which any bird is a wel- 
come excitement, these Grosbeaks are not very interesting. 
They have no playful ways, and here, at least, are silent to 
the verge of stupidity. They feed upon various small seeds 
and also upon tree buds, particularly those of the maple and 
hickory. Berries are also eaten, if other food fails. 

Purple Finch : Carpodacus purpureus* 



Length : 5.75-6.25 inches. 

Male: Until two years old resembles a dull-coloured, heavy-billed 

sparrow ; when mature, the head, shoulders, and upper breast 

have a wash of raspberry-red, lower parts grayish white, wings 

and tail dusky with some reddish brown tips. Bill and feet 

brown. 
Female : Olive-brown, clearer on rump, and streaked above and below 

with dusky brown. Whitish beneath, and streaked on sides of 

breast with arrow-shaped marks. 
Song : Joyful and sudden, — " O, list to me, list to me, hear me, and 

I'll tell you, — you, you ! '* 
Season : March to November ; a common summer resident, individuals 

remaining sometimes all winter. 
Breeds : From Middle States northward. 
Nest : In a bush or tree, of grass and fibre, and lined with horsehair ; 

a flat nest. 
Eggs: 4-5, greenish white, scratched and spotted with black and 

lilac. 
Bange: Eastern North America, from the Atlantic coast to the 

Plains. 

134 



SONG-BIRDS. Purple Finch 

This is the most melodious of the Finches, who, perching 
high in the elms on the lawn or in the birches by the river- 
bank, pours out his gushing, liquid warble, while at the same 
time he is completely hidden from sight. Long ago, being 
told that a song which had delighted me belonged to the 
Purple Finch, I tried to obtain a good view of him, expect- 
ing to see a bird whose purple coat should match his regal 
voice, — but not at all. The first specimen that I caught 
(with my field-glass), when in the act of singing, was dull 
and Sparrow-like. Then followed the explanation that the 
males take two seasons to perfect their plumage, and that 
even then they are not purple, but merely washed locally 
with a peculiar shade of red. 

I think many early ornithologists who were responsible 
for the naming of our birds must have been either colour- 
blind or possessed of very limited vocabularies, for a modern 
reading of many of their colour terms means dismay and 
total collapse to the unfortunate novice. Burroughs, with 
his fine sense of perception and language combined, at once 
locates this Finch. " His colour is peculiar," he says, " and 
looks as if it might have been imparted by dipping a brown 
bird in diluted poke-berry juice. Two or three more dip- 
pings would have made the purple complete." 

In looking for this Finch, then, you must rely greatly 
upon his song, remembering that he may or may not be red 
coloured on the head and back, and that whether he is or 
not, you will find it difficult to discover. 

The suddenness with which the Purple Finch bursts into 
song renders him one of our most conspicuous songsters, 
and recalls the notes of the English Chaffinch. May and 
June are the months of his most perfect music, but the 
birds who have wintered here begin to warble early in March, 
and occasional subdued songs may be heard in October, so 
that the season of melody is almost as long as that of the 
Song Sparrow. 



135 



English Sparrow SONG-BIRDS. 

English Sparrow : Passer domesticus. 

House Sparrow; Gamin, Tramp, Hoodlum. (Coues.) 

Length : 5 inches. 

Male and Female: Ashy above, shoulders and back striped with 

black and chestnut. Dark chestnut mark over eye and on 

sides of neck. Chestnut and white bar on wings, bordered by 

a black line ; tail gray. Bill blue-black ; feet brown. Female 

paler ; wing bars indistinct. 
Song : A harsh chirp. 
Season : A persistent resident. 
Breeds : Everywhere in towns and in villages. 
Nest: Rough, and loosely made of straws, sticks, or any material 

which circumstances offer. 
Eggs : 4-8, greenish white, speckled with chocolate and lavender. 
Mange : Eastern United States. Introduced about twenty years ago 

into the United States, where it has become naturalized in 

nearly all inhabited districts. 

This unfortunate Sparrow, bearing a load of opprobrium 
■wMch he deserves, though largely through no fault of his 
own, has for some time been furnishing an avi-social prob- 
lem to both England and America. In the first-named 
country, even the investigation of a special committee of 
the House of Commons has failed to ascertain, with any- 
thing approaching certainty, whether this Sparrow's services 
as an insect-destroyer equal his own destructive qualities. 

In Australia, it is said that the fifty birds originally im- 
ported now flock by millions, and make the third of the 
triad of emigrants with which unthinking people have' 
scourged the country, the other two being rabbits and the 
Scotch thistle. 

Here in America, the Sparrow is an absolute and unmiti- 
gated nuisance, but for this, the unwise and superficial 
theory that brought him over is chiefly to blame. No 
thought was given to the change of habits that the change 
of climate might effect in the bird's whole nature. A par- 
tial insect-eater, at home, though of a seed-eating family, 
brought here to free the trees from canker-worms, he, 
instead, relapsed soon after, and became a rigid seed-eater. 

. 136 



PLATE 27. 




AMERICAN CROSSBILL. 



SONG-BIRDS. Crossbill 

Theodore Wood, in his instructive little book, — " Our 
Bird Allies,"^ — devotes two chapters to an unprejudiced 
review of the Sparrow question, which are well worth read- 
ing, in which he quotes Prevost-Paradol and many other 
authorities. "What wonder," he says, "if the Sparrow, 
both in America and New Zealand, should turn from a diet 
of insect to one of grain and fruit? Does not even man 
himself alter his food in accordance with the climate? 
Does he not, leaving England for a warmer country, depend 
more upon vegetable food and less upon animal ? " 

It is not the grain that he consumes that makes us 
at war with the Sparrow, but because he steadily puts to 
rout our most familiar birds, destroys their young, and 
gives us only his ugly chirp in the place of their songs, 
and his useless presence instead of their insect-consuming 
powers. The destruction of the Sparrows, eggs and nests, is 
now almost universally approved in the United States. Dr. 
C. Hart Merriam of the Department of Agriculture, Wash- 
ington, has prepared a consensus of reports from many 
sources, containing evidence for and against the Sparrow, 
— 168 being for, 837 against, and 43 neutral. The report 
also contains a list of native birds that have been more or 
less molested by the Sparrow, among which are not only 
the Wrens, Bluebirds, and Martins of our garden bird- 
boxes, but the valiant Kingbird, the Horned Lark, Hermit 
and Wood Thrushes, the Mockingbird, Purple Grackle, 
Meadowlark, and many Woodpeckers. 

American Crossbill: Loxia curvirostra minor, 

Plate 27. 
Length : 6 inches. 
Male: General colour Indian red. Head shaded with olive. Back 

and shoulders brown with red edgings to the feathers ; wings 

and tail brown. Beak crossed at the tip. 
Female : General colour greenish yellow. Dull yellowish tints on the 

head, throat, breast, and rump. Wings and tail brown with 

lighter edges to some feathers. 

1 New York, E. & J. B. Young & Co. , 
137 



Redpoll SONG-BIRDS. 

Song : Winter note ; a snapping chirp. 

Season : An irregular winter visitor. 

Breeds : Northward in late winter and early spring. 

Nest : Among the twigs or in the fork of a tree, having a base of bark 

and sticks, and being lined with finer materials. 
Eggs : 3-4, greenish, marked with brown and lilac at larger end. 
Eange : Northern North America ; resident sparingly south in the 

Eastern States to Maryland and Tennessee, and in the Alle- 

ghanies ; irregularly abundant in winter ; resident south in the 

Rocky Mountains to Colorado. 

This bird of evergreens and cold weather, the Red Cross- 
bill, is chiefly a winter visitor here, varying greatly in abun- 
dance. It is impossible to confuse it with any other bird, 
as the colour is of a different shade from the red of the 
Pine Finch and Cardinal, and its warped bill is a distinctive 
mark. The beak seems especially constructed for snapping 
the scales from the cones, whose seeds furnish its food. 

A very strange effect is produced when a flock of Cross- 
bills settle in the pines north of the garden, and mingle 
their snapping chirp with the dry crackling of the cones 
that they are dissecting. There is a suppressed bustle about 
the whole proceeding ; and if you close your eyes you may 
imagine that the sounds proceed from the rending of the 
corn from the stalk at an old time husking-bee. As with 
all weird looking birds and animals, the Crossbill is the 
subject of many tales, one of which Longfellow translated 
from the German of Julius Mosen, under the title of " The 
Legend of the Crossbill." 

Redpoll: Acanthis linaria. 

Redpoll Linnet. 
Length: 5.50 inches. 
Male : Head, neck, breast, and rump washed with rich crimson, over 

a ground of gray and brown. Back, wings, and tail dusky ; 

dusky white beneath. Tail short and forked ; wings long and 

pointed. Bill very sharp, and either yellow, tipped with dusky, 

or black ; feet dark. 
Female : Dingy, having the crimson only on the crown. 
Song : A Canary-like call note and a lisping song ; sometimes given 

when flocking as well as in the breeding-season. 
138 



SONG-BIRDS. Redpoll 

Season : A winter visitor from the north. 

Breeds : In boreal regions. 

Range : Northern portions of Northern Hemisphere ; south, irregu- 
larly, in winter ; in North America, to the middle United 
States (Washington, D.C., Kansas, southeastern Oregon). 

The Redpoll, Redpoll Linnet, or Little Snowbird, as it is 
locally called, comes out of the north on the snow clouds, 
with the Buntings and Crossbills, and returns to its breed- 
ing-grounds usually before its spring song is heard. It is 
most frequently to be seen in weedy pastures, where it 
feeds upon the seeds of small herbs, and after heavy snows 
have covered the lowlands it retreats to the many-seeded 
compositae that swarm along the sides of grass-grown roads, 
and in an extremity, feeds upon tree buds, especially those 
of the black birch. It never becomes as friendly as its 
cousin, the American Goldfinch, but you can easily identify 
it and watch its movements when it is feeding upon some 
conspicuous spray that protrudes from the fresh snow. At 
such times a flock of Redpolls, with their little ruddy 
crowns, are the prettiest things imaginable. Thoreau's 
soliloquy upon these winter birds, as he stood looking over 
the late November landscape, is too beautiful to quote merely 
in part. He says: "Standing there, though in this bare 
November landscape, I am reminded of the incredible phe- 
nomenon of small birds in winter, that erelong, amid the 
cold, powdery snow, as it were a fruit of the season, will 
come twittering a flock of delicate, crimson-tinged birds, 
Lesser Redpolls, to sport and feed on the seeds and buds 
just ripe for them on the sunny side of a wood, shaking 
down the powdery snow there in their cheerful feeding, as 
if it were high midsummer to them. . . . They greet the 
hunter and the chopper in their furs. Their Maker gave 
them the last touch, and launched them forth the day of 
the Great Snow. He made this bitter, imprisoning cold, 
before which man quails, but He made at the same time 
these warm and glowing creatures to twitter and be at 
home in it. He said not only let there be Linnets in win- 
ter, but Linnets of rich plumage and pleasing twitter, 

139 



Am. Goldfinch SONG-BIHDS. 

bearing summer in their natures. ... I am struck by the 
perfect confidence and success of Nature." 

American Goldfinch: Spirius tristis. 

Wild Canary, Thistle-bird, Telloicbird. 
Plate 28. Fig. 2. 

Length: 4.80-5.20 inches. 

Male : Body, all but wings, tail, and frontlet, a clear gamboge-yeUow. 
Frontlet black. Wings black, varied with white. Tail blackish 
with spots of white on interior of quills. Bill and feet flesh- 
coloured. In September the black frontlet of the male disap- 
pears, his colours pale, and he resembles the female and young. 
In April the spring moult begins, and often is not completed 
until middle May. 

Female : Above brownish olive, below yellowish. 

Song: A wild, sweet, Canarj'-like warbling. Call note, " Ker-chee- 
chee-chee, whew-6, whew-6 ! " 

Season : Resident in this section, but the numbers increase in May 
and diminish in October. 

Breeds : Southward to the middle districts of the United States (to 
about the Potomac and Ohio rivers, Kansas, and California). 

Nest : Round, very neat, and compact ; of grass and moss, lined with 
seed and plant down, usually in a branch crotch. 

Eggs: 4-6, blue-white, generally unmarked. 

Bange: North America generally, wintering mostly south of the 
northern boundary of the United States. 

The American Goldfinch, known under many titles, is as 
familiar as the Ptobin, Catbird, and Wren, but its beauty 
and winning ways always seem new and interesting. In 
southern Connecticut, as well as in locations further north 
and east, it is resident, and is revealed through its various 
disguises of plumage by its typical dipping flight. 

Its spring song begins early in April, though its plumage 
does not resume the perfect yellow until late May ; the song 
remains at its height all through July and well into August, 
but ceases, almost abruptly, at the end of that month (from 
the 20, to the 30, according to ]^Ir. Bicknell). 

These Goldfinches do not mate until June, and sometimes 
not until the last half of the month. They always choose 

140 



PLATE 28. 




1. SXOWFLAKE. 
Length. 7 inches. 



2. AMERICAN G'lLDFIXCH. 
Length, 5 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS. Pine Siskin 

for their nesting-place some large maples that grow by the 
southwest wall of the garden, extending their branches over 
a waste field, where dandelions, thistles, wild asters, and 
goldenrod hold sway. A little before this time flocks of 
birds assemble about the garden and every Jack chooses his 
Jill, or vice versa. There is no more cheerful and confiding 
garden companion than this Goldfinch. Seen even at a dis- 
tance his markings are distinct, his identity complete ; you 
do not have to puzzle or worry, but simply enjoy his society ; 
he does not wish your berries, but helps you remove the 
dandelion down from the lawn before the wind sows it 
broadcast, and all the while you hear Canary-like music, 
but wilder and more joyous, from behind a twig lattice 
instead of cage bars. 

The black cap gives the male a ferocious look, wholly 
at variance with his character, while his mate is agreeably 
feminine and gentle. These birds combine the rich colours, 
which we associate with the tropics, and the stout-hearted, 
cold-enduring New England nature, softened by the most 
agreeably cosmopolitan manners. If you wish them to live 
with you and honour your trees with their nests, plant sun- 
flowers in your garden, zinnias, and coreopsis ; leave a bit of 
wild grass somewhere about with its mass of compositae. 
Coax the wild clematis everywhere that it can gain footing ; 
and in winter, when these joyous birds, gathered in flocks, 
are roving, hard-pressed for food, scatter some sweepings of 
bird seed about their haunts, repaying in this their silent 
season, their summer melody. 



Pine Siskin : Spinus pinus. 



Length: 4.75 inches. 

Male and Female: Striped generally; above olive-brown and gray, 

darkest on head and back. Below lighter, sometimes having a 

decidedly sulphur-yellow tinge on rump and base of wing and 

tail feathers. Bill and feet brown. 
Song: Resembling that of the American Goldfinch, but in a more 

fretful key, and seldom heard in this locality. 
141 



Snowflake SONG-BIRDS. 

Season : An erratic winter visitor. Late October to March and early 
April. 

Breeds : Mostly north of the United States, and in the Rocky Moun- 
tain region. Casually in northern New England and New York 
State. 

Nest : Rare, high in evergreens, principally. 

Fggs : Light green, spotted with brown. 

Bange : North America generally, in winter south to the Gulf States 
and Mexico. 

The Pine Siskin, as its name implies, is a lover of ever- 
greens, and spends the winter in roving from copse to copse. 
It is strictly a seed-eater, and consumes alike the kernels of 
large cones and the seeds of low herbs. It has the dipping 
flight of the Goldfinch, and many other characteristics of 
the two birds are similar. You will be most likely to iden- 
tify the Pine Siskin as it clings to tufts of spruce cones, 
peering between their scales; the sulphur-yellow tinge of 
the feathers showing plainly against the deep green. 

Dr. Jonathan Dwight, Jr., who heard these Siskins sing- 
ing between March 15, and May 2, at Rockaway and Cypress 
Hills Cemetery, says that their song is a "soliloquizing 
gabble, interspersed with a prolonged wheeze — a pro- 
longation of their usual note while flying.'^ Mr. Bicknell 
adds : " This hoarse note sometimes sounds like a common 
note of the English House Sparrow. Before it was familiar 
to me, it was with no little surprise that I heard at Big 
Moose Lake, deep in the Adirondack wilderness, a bird note 
so suggestive of city streets." 

Snowflake: JPlectrophanes nivalis. 

Snow Bunting. 

Plxte 28. Fig. 1. 
Length : 7 inches. 

Male and Female: Summer plumage white, with the exception of 
black hack, white-banded wings, tail, and band across back. 
Winter plumage soft browns and white, — dead-leaf colours and 
snow. Bill and feet black. 
Song: Thoreau says, "a soft, rippling note." 
Season : A midwinter visitor, especially in snowy seasons. 

142 



SONG-BIRDS. Snowflake 

Breeds : In the Arctic regions. 

Nest : Thickly lined with feathers set in a tussock. 

Eggs : 4-6, variable in size and colour, whitish speckled with neutral 
tints. 

Bange: Northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere. In North 
America, south in winter into the northern United States, irreg- 
ularly to Georgia, southern Illinois, and Kansas. 

A bird well named, for the Snowflake, hurried from the 
north by fierce winds and weather, comes to us out of the 
snow-clouds. Travelling in great flocks, which are de- 
scribed as numbering sometimes a thousand, they settle 
down upon the old fields and upland meadows, subsisting 
upon various seeds. Their winter plumage, by which we 
alone know them, is exquisitely soft and beautiful, and the 
birds themselves have a wonderfully mild and spiritual 
expression as if they had come from an unknown region, 
and craved a little food and shelter, but conscious that while 
here they are the veriest birds of passage. 

Though a native of Arctic latitudes, Snowflakes, belated 
on their return migration, have been knowm to breed in the 
Northern States. In July, 1831, Audubon found a couple 
nesting in the White Mountains, and Dr. J. A. Allen notes 
a pair as breeding near Springfield, Mass. In its home it is 
said to have a cheerful inspiriting song, but here we only 
know its Sparrow-like call note. 

The Snowflake is very capricious in its visits, as are, in 
fact, all the winter birds along the Connecticut shore of the 
Sound. An easterly wind prevailing for several days drives 
them two or three miles inland behind the Greenfield ridge 
of hills. During the snowy winter of 1893-94 not a single 
flock appeared, though the weather was evenly cold and 
marked by northeasterly storms. On February 15, 1894, 
— one of the only days of the season when there was suffi- 
cient snow for sleighing, a day with heavy, drifting clouds 
and wind gusts which scattered the loose snow so suddenly 
that it was driven with the sharpness of sand, — I drove for 
several miles along the road that separates the shore and 
marshes from cultivation, and was rewarded by seeing GullS; 

143 



Longspur SONG-BIRDS. 

Meadowlarks, Horned Larks, Eedpolls, Snowflakes, and, 
rarest of all, Lapland Longspurs, the first time that I had 
identified them here. 

The Eedpolls and Snowflakes were feeding under similar 
conditions, — the Eedpolls keeping under cover of bushes and 
furrows, while the Snowflakes were in the open, and the 
flock continually arose with the drifting snow and settled 
again like a part of it, uttering a soft chirp as they shifted. 

Lapland Longspur: Calcarius lapponicus 

Length: 6.50 inches. 

Male : Winter plumage, top of head black, edged with rusty, black 
above, the feathers all tipped with white. A rusty black patch 
behind and beneath the eye. Below grayish, with faint black 
markings. Bill yellow, tipped with black ; feet and legs black. 
Long hind claw or spur. 

Female : Rusty gray above, whitish below. 

Song : A charming song in the breeding-season, uttered while soaring 
like the Skylark's. 

Season: A winter visitor; rare locally, but common on the Massa- 
chusetts coast and also noted by Mr. Averill as associating with 
Shore Larks near Stratford, Conn. 

Breeds : In the Arctic regions, where it has a thick, fur-lined, grass 
nest, set in moss on the ground. 

Mange: Northern portions of the Northern Hemisphere; in North 
America, south, in winter, into the northern United States, 
irregularly to the Middle States, accidentally to South Carolina, 
and abundantly in the interior to Kansas and Colorado. 

When we are fortunate enough to see the Longspur, he is 
wearing his winter dress, which resembles somewhat the 
plumage of the Titlark. 

I always considered them rare birds hereabout, until 
I found them near the shore last February. I was first 
attracted by unusual claw marks in the new snow, where it 
was soft enough to take distinct impressions, under the 
south side of a rick of salt hay. The Longspur is a ground 
feeder like the Larks and Buntings, and the mark of the 
long hind claw, or spur could be seen plainly; on the 
opposite side of the rick were the birds themselves, seven 

144 



SONG-BIRDS. Sparrows 

in all. They were climbing up the sloping sides, picking 
seeds from the coarse grasses and weeds which served as 
covering for the finer hay. The Longspurs, as well as the 
Horned Larks that were with them, were so hungry and 
intent upon feeding that they were not in the least dis- 
turbed, even though they must have seen me plainly. This 
lack of fear produced by hunger often gives the winter 
birds an air of charming familiarity, and, though both win- 
ter residents and visitors are comparatively few, a little food, 
suited to their various needs, wisely scattered about the door 
and around the hayricks and sheds, will bring you a troop 
of grateful guests to whisper cheerfully, even if they do not 
sing to you. 

Vesper Sparrow: Pooccetes gramineus* 

Bay-winged Bunting. 
Plate 29. Fig. 1. 

Length : 5.75-6.25 inches. 

Male and Female : Above brown, varied with dusky. Lesser wing 
coverts bright bay. Below soiled white, striped everywhere 
except on the belly with brown. iVo yellow anywhere. Outer 
tail feathers partly white, appearing conspicuously like two 
white quills when the bird flies. Upper mandible brown ; lower 
and feet yellowish flesh-coloured. 

Song : Sweet and clear, less loud than the Song Sparrow's, — " Chewee- 
chewee-cheewee, tira-lira-lira-lee ! " 

Season : Common summer resident ; April to October. 

Breeds : From Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri northward. 

Nest : Sunk to the rim in the grass or ground, quite deep ; of grasses; 
as carefully made as if it were a tree nest. 

Eggs: 4-6, thickly mottled and spotted with brown. 

Bange : Eastern North America to the Plains ; from Nova Scotia and 
Ontario southward. 

This is the Sparrow which is identified by the red-brown 
shoulders and the two white tail quills, and who, though 
living near the ground, often soars singing into the air. Its 
song, though less constantly heard, is as familiar as the 
Song Sparrow's, and its habit of singing from late afternoon 
until twilight has given it the name of Vesper Sparrow. ^ 
L 145 



Sparrows SONG-BIRDS. 

In the garden, from the nook looking toward sunset, I am 
always certain to hear a half dozen of these little soloists, 
continuing their music after the evening chorus has ceased, 
until finally, with the Veery and Eose-breasted Grosbeak, 
they form a final trio which precedes such silence as Nature 
allows to the early summer nights. 

The Vesper Sparrows are, in the main, seed-eaters, but 
during the summer they also feed upon insects, earthworms, 
and berries. They are birds of the roadside and of waste 
fields, where they are abundant in early autumn, fluttering 
about in flocks, now perching on a fence rail, and as you 
approach them, scattering widely, only to collect again a 
few feet further on. They are dingy-looking birds in the 
distance, but the white tail quills will always name them. 

Ipswich Sparrow : Aminodramus princeps. 

Length : 6.25 inches. 

Male and Female : Above grayish, with a reddish cast to back ; dusky 
streaks on top of head, separated by a broad stripe of pale 
yellowish white. Below pure white, sides of throat and broad 
band across breast and sides, streaked with red-brown ; bill and 
feet brown. 

Song : Poor and halting, as if the voice weak and tired. 

Season : A rare winter resident. 

Breeds : In the grass-covered sand-hills of Sable Island, Nova Scotia. 

Nest : A few strands of grass in a hollow of the ground. 

Eggs : Harlequin, pale green groundwork, jumbled with blotches of 
brown of every shape and tint. 

Bange : Nova Scotia, south ; in winter, to South Carolina. 

The Ipswich Sparrow is a puzzling bird to identify. It 
was discovered by Mr. Maynard among the Ipswich sand- 
hills — hence its name. Its plumage is difficult to describe 
tersely ; perhaps it is best to say that it resembles the Ves- 
per Sparrow, but has a yellowish head stripe and two dull 
white wing bars. Here it is seen either as a winter resi- 
dent or a migrant, and is decidedly a local species. It is a 
very hardy Sparrow ; Mr. Torrey has found it near Nahant, 
Mass., in every one of the colder months from October to 
April. 

146 



SONG-BIRDS. Sparrows 

Sayanna Sparrow: Am^nodratnus sandwichensis 
savanna* 

Length : 5.60-6 inches. 

Male and Female : Above, back, wings, throat, and sides striped in 

various shades of brown and bronze. Yellowish stripe on 

crown and over eye, and yellowish wash around neck. Cheeks 

golden bronze. Below whitish. Bill dark above, light below ; 

feet light flesh-coloured. 
Song: Described by Samuels as sweet and soft. " Chewee-chewitt- 

chewitt-chewitt-chewe-et-chewee ! " 
Season : A common resident, on the salt-marshes all the year, whose 

migrating flocks arrive in April and leave in October. 
Breeds: From New England to Labrador and the Hudson's Bay 

Territory. 
Nest : A slight affair, sunken in the ground like the last species. 
Eggs : Also motley, like the last. 
Bange : Eastern North America. 

The Savanna Sparrow is a common resident, being found 
in the thickets bordering the salt-marshes as well as in 
the marshes themselves, where numbers remain even in 
severe weather, and, while it is abundant along the coast, 
it is proportionately rare in the interior. It is essentially 
a ground Sparrow (which is one of its local names) ; for, in 
addition to building on the ground, it limits its flight to 
low bushes. Its plumage is so streaked and mixed that 
it blends with the earth, — a great protection to the bird, 
but a condition which makes identification difficult. Keep 
in mind that its under parts are ivhiter than in other Sparrows. 

1 associate this Sparrow with early June walks through 
the marshes and upland meadows, when the wild flowers 
are calling " Come pick us '^ ; when the beach plum's white 
plumes are fading with the iris, and the star-grass and yel- 
low thistles are in bloom, and the tall blackberry bushes 
trace the tumble-down fences with their wands. Then you 
may see the Savanna Sparrow hurrying through the sand- 
grass, seeking the cover of bayberries, only to slip through 
and disappear. He will not indicate by the slightest hint 
which little circle of grass margins his home, barely sepa- 
rating the young from the earth itself. He will lead you 

147 



Sparrows SONG-BIRDS. 

as far away from it as he is able, and, if it is late afternoon, 
will beguile you with his simple song, from no more ambi- 
tious perch than a fence rail. The migrant flocks come to 
us before or during the spring moult, and are not then in 
full song ; and when they leave, in October, they are quite 
voiceless. 

Grasshopper Sparrow: Ammodramus savannarum 
passerinus. 

Yellow-winged Sparrow. 



Length : 4.80 inches. 

Male and Female : Line over the eye, centre of crown, lesser wing 
coverts, and shoulders yellow. Above red-brown with an ash- 
gray wash ; upper breast brownish drab ; belly whitish ; bill 
stout and short, dark above, pale below ; tail feathers edged 
with white ; feet dark. 

Song : Note like a grasshopper's chirp ; song somewhat resembling 
the Chipping Sparrow's, but in a different key. 

Season : Common summer resident. 

Breeds : Throughout its United States range. 

Nest : Like the Vesper Sparrow's, on the ground. 

Eggs : Sparkling white, with spots and flecks of red and brown. 

Bange: Eastern United States and southern Canada to the Plains, 
south to Florida, Cuba, Porto Rico, and coast of Central 
America. 

If you search for a Sparrow with yellow wings, as one of 
its names suggests, you will altogether miss this species. 
But if you look for a plain bird, with yellowish stripes 
on the crown and over the eyes, lesser wing coverts dull 
yellow, and bend of the wing bright yellow, who runs elu- 
sively through the grass, giving a shrill, grasshopper chirp, 
you will easily locate the Grasshopper Sparrow. The Spar- 
rows and the Warblers will be inevitable stumbling-blocks 
to you ; and when you have positively named half a dozen 
species, and guessed at as many more, you will feel that 
you have conquered ornithology. This particular Sparrow 
keeps so persistently to the ground and to low bushes, in. 

148 



SONG-BIRDS. Sparrows 

addition having but the ghost of a voice, that it will not be 
strange if you overlook it. 

Sharp-tailed Sparrow: Ammodramus caudacutus* 

Length : 5-5.50 inches. 

Male and Female : Bill extremely sharp for a Sparrow. Above olive- 
gray v^ith bronze glints, streaked writh black on the back, some 
feathers with light edges ; marroon stripes on head ; buff stripe 
through eye ; buff or orange cheeks ; buff sides to breast, streaked 
with brown ; belly gray ; edge of wings yellow ; tail feathers 
sharply pointed ; feet grayish blue. 

Song : Wheezy and choking, which Dr. D wight describes as *♦ Lic-se- 
e-e-oop." 

Season : Common summer resident. 

Breeds : Through its range ; two broods a season. 

Nest : Of coarse grasses, lined with grass and furze, firmly fastened 
between tussocks. 

Eggs : Grayish white, thickly speckled with brown. 

Bange: Salt-marshes of the Atlantic coast, from Prince Edward 
Island and Nova Scotia to the Gulf States. 

The Sharp-tailed Sparrow must be identified by the brown- 
ish orange or buff colouring of the sides of its head and the 
sharp point which terminates each separate tail feather. I 
specify this because many people mistake the term sharp- 
tailed for forked-t2iiied, and expect the bird to have a tail 
like the Barn Swallow. 

These Sparrows are shy and rather uninteresting, keeping 
close under cover of sedges and the marsh weeds that edge 
tide water, and have a feeble flight and a very poor song. 
They tend to breed in colonies, and choose their haunts here 
and there without any seeming method, so that they appear 
to be rare in many eligible places. 

Wilson credits them with all the nimbleness of Sand- 
pipers, running about after dusk and roosting on the 
ground ; and says that they are so fond of the vicinity of 
water that they are only driven from it by strong north- 
easterly storms. He also says that their diet is chiefly sea- 
food, scraps of shell-fish, drift, etc., which gives the flesh a 
sedgy taste. 

149 



Sparrowa SONG-BIRDS. 

Seaside Sparrow ; A^ninodramus ntaritimus* 

Length : 5.75-6.25 inches. 

Male and Female: Very dull brownish gray bird. Gray wash on 
shoulders and the edges of some feathers. Breast mottled 
gray with buff tinge. Throat yellow-white. Wings and tail 
dusky. Yellow spot before eye and yellow mark on edge of 
wing, the only bright colouring. Bill lead-coloured ; dark feet. 

Song: Very similar to that of the last species. 

Season: Common summer resident, breeding on salt-marshes. 
Present December 9, 1889. Probably sometimes winters. 
(Averill.) 

Breeds : Through range. 

Kest and Eggs : Indistinguishable from last species. 

Mange : Salt-marshes of the Atlantic coast, from Massachusetts south- 
ward, and along the Gulf coast to the Rio Grande. 

One of our two common Sparrows that have a maritime 
turn of mind, breeding freely about Fairfield and Stratford 
on the marshes. The two species are so closely associated 
that it is easy to confuse them ; the Seaside Sparrow has the 
least definite colouring, no distinct black stripes on the back, 
and a blunt tail. 

White-crowned Sparrow: Zonotrichia leucophrys. 

Length : 6.50-7 inches. 

Male and Female : White crown set between two black stripes ; white 
eye stripes. Cheeks, throat, and back of neck gray. Below 
light gray ; some buff on sides and belly. Wings edged with 
bay, and having two white cross-bars ; tail plain. Female, head 
rusty, paler all through. Bill and feet reddish brown. 

So7ig .• 6 or 7 notes, forming a plaintive cadence. 

Season : Rare migrant ; October and May. 

Breeds: Chiefly in the Rocky Mountain region (including Sierra 
Nevada) , and northeast to Labrador. 

Nest and Eggs: Not to be distinguished from those of the White- 
throated Sparrow. 

Range : North America at large. 

One of the largest Sparrows, and also conspicuously 
marked, the White-crown is scarcely the inferior of the 
White-throat itself. It has a northerly range, and only 

150 



SONG-BIRDS. Sparrows 

comes to us as a very restless migrant in middle autumn and 
late spring, when it is occasionally seen feeding with. Jun- 
cos and White-throats. 

White-throated Sparrow: Zonotrichia albicollis* 

Plate 26. Fig. 2. 
Length: 6.50-7 inches. 
Male and Female : A plump, handsome bird. White throat and crown 

stripes. Back striped with black, bay, and whitish. Rump light 

olive-brown. Bay edgings to wings, and two white cross-bars ; 

under parts gray. Yellow spot before eye. Female crown, 

brown, markings less distinct. 
Song: Sweet and plaintive, — " Pee-a-peabody, peabody, peabody !" 
Season : Abundant migrant ; also a winter resident from September 

to May. 
Breeds : From New England and the Northern States northward. 
Nest : A deep grass nest partly sunken in the ground or in a low bush. 
Eggs : Variable, greenish, and thinly speckled with reddish brown to 

gray, blotched heavily with chocolate. 
Bange : Eastern North America west to the Plains, north to Labrador 

and the Fur Countries, and winters from the Middle States 

southward. 

This is unquestionably the most beautiful of all the Spar- 
rows, not excepting the great Fox Sparrow, and its rich 
velvety markings and sweet voice have made it one of the 
welcome migrants, and the few that remain through the 
winter are carefully fed and cherished. 

The past season (1894) the upward migration began early 
in March, the 7, being the first day that I noticed a de- 
cided movement, and then no more large flocks appeared 
until the first week of May. A flock settled on a bit of ground 
newly sown with grass seed, and devoted themselves to it 
with such zest that at the end of three days every seed had 
found its way into their little stomachs ; however, as the 
ground was near the piazza it gave me a fine opportunity to 
watch them, and four quarts of grass seed was a small price 
to pay for their society. 

The White-throat's song has been expressed in many dif- 
ferent syllables. It certainly says, "Pee-a-peabody, pea- 

151/ 



Sparrows SONG-BIRDS. 

body, peabody"; words from which it received the name 
of Peabody Bird. 

Wilson Flagg says that the Maine folk interpret the 
notes as, "All-day, whittling, whittling, whittling." And 
then there is the evidence of Farmer Peverly, whom Ham- 
ilton Gibson interviewed, who, upon being perplexed and 
undecided as to the crop that he ought to sow in a particular 
field, understood the Sparrow to say, " Sow wheat, Peverly, 
Peverly." 

You may take your choice as to the words, but pray notice 
that all these interpretations have the same accented value, 
and so equally imitate the song. This Sparrow also some- 
times sings softly in the night, — 

"* * * * 
Nestling in his tree 
The sleeping Sparrow 
Dreams a melody." 

Tree Sparrow : Spizella tnonticola* 

Winter Chip-bird. 

Length : 5.76-6.25 inches. 

Male and Female : Bright bay crown. Gray stripe over eye, cheeks, 
throat, and breast. Dark brown back with feathers pheasant- 
like, edged with orange and brown. Wings dark brown with 
paler edgings and two white bars. Bill black above, lower 
mandible yellowish, feet brownish black. 

Song : In winter a twittering trill. 

Season : Winter resident ; October to April. 

Breeds : North of the United States, east of the Rocky Mountains. 

Nest : Of grass, bark, and feathers ; on ground, in a bush, or occa- 
sionally in a tree. 

Eggs ; 4-7, light green, finely sprinkled with reddish brown. 

Bange : Eastern North America westward to the Plains, and from the 
Arctic Ocean south, in winter, to the Carolinas, Kentucky, and 
eastern Kansas. 

Like the Junco, the Tree Sparrow is a winter resident, 
though not so constant and abundant as the former. It is 
much larger than the Chipping Sparrow, which it so closely 

152 



PLATE 30. 






Ff, : 



IM^ 




\ 



^^ptt^^r^ 


"5^ 


s^ 


^nP^i^^^B 


^M^f^^^^i^ 




'-' M 


fflf^^ 


'.,,^^^1 






.-ig 










>» 


p; '- Tk, ^4 


S^^jB 1 








1 " 
1 


ti 


l« ' 








■■ { 


1 \ 


\*m 




1. SONG SPARROW. 


2. 


CHIPPING 


SPARROW 


Length, 6-6.50 inches. 






Length, 5 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS. Sparrows 

resembles as to be called the Winter Chip-bird, coming at a 
season when the sociable Chippy has gone south. Why it 
is called Tree Sparrow is not so plain, as it does not build 
in trees as frequently as the Chippy, and it haunts low 
bushes. I have seen these Sparrows in December, feeding 
in flocks on the ground, in company with Snowbirds and 
a few stray White-throats; dashing about and sometimes 
singing in a sort of undertone, perfectly careless of cold. 
Burroughs calls the song "a soft, sweet note, almost run- 
ning into a warble." 

They are very hardy birds, and to them, as with all winter 
birds, mere cold is secondary in comparison with cutting 
winds. I have often seen them huddled under stone walls, 
and once found a flock feeding in the bottom of a dry ditch ; 
and in ploughed fields you will notice that they keep closely 
to the furrows in windy weather. At night they troop into 
the evergreen hedge, the piazza vines, and under the rick 
edges, — anywhere that the wind may not pierce, for that, 
together with scanty food, reduces their vitality. 

Chipping Sparrow: Spizella socialis. 

Hair-bird, Chippy. 

Plate 30. Fig. 2. 
Length: 6-6.26 inches. 
Male and Female : Dark chestnut poll, gray stripe over eye, brown 

stripe tlirough it. Stripes along back, dark orange and brown. 

Wings and tail dust-brown. Under parts light gray. Young 

with some black streaks on crown. Bill black ; feet light. 
Song : An insect-like tremolo, varying a little in tone from a locust. 

Call note, " Chip-chip ! " 
Season : Common summer resident ; April to October. 
Breeds : In the greater part of its range. 
Nest : In bushes and also high trees, made of fine grasses and lined 

with horsehair — hence the name. Hair-bird. 
Eggs : 4, greenish blue, with dark brown speckles. 
Bange : Eastern North America, west to the Rocky Mountains, north 

to Great Slave Lake, and south to eastern Mexico. 

This is the precentor who, in early May dawns, gives the 
key on his little pitch-pipe and leads the chorus that makes 

153 



Sparrows SONG-BIRDS. 

foiir o'clock the most melodious hour of the day. T-r-r-r-r-r- 
r-r-r-r-r-r-r he trills from the ground, before even a Robin 
wakes, and then, as the music swells, he is lost in the har- 
mony. 

AVho can fail to know the Chippy, whose mite of a gray- 
brown body is set off by a chestnut-coloured velvet cap, 
whose chirp, as he hops about the door craving crumbs, is as 
familiar as his pretty air of sociability. He has many little 
points of identity that separate him from the mazes of the 
Sparrow tribe. He seldom, if ever, nests upon the ground, 
and his nest, well built and carefully lined, is distinctive. 
Here in the garden he shows a preference for high trees ; 
out of eight nests built last season within the garden limits, 
one was in a Deutzia shrub about three feet from the 
ground; four were in tufts of needles on the horizontal 
boughs of spruces, varying from eight to twenty feet high ; 
and three were in white pines at distances of from twenty to 
forty feet from the ground. 

I am inclined to think that the nesting-habits of birds are 
adapted by circumstances and their desire to locate in certain 
places. The Chippies like the protection and society of the 
house and build near it. Low bushes and undergrowth in 
this vicinity are limited, and the Catbirds usurp the most 
desirable shrubs. Not finding room below the Chippy 
ascends, as his fellow-men adaDt themselves to the apart- 
ment house, so that from being ground-walkers they become 
"cliff-dwellers." 

Field Sparrow : Spizella pusilla. 



Length : 5.25-5.75 inches. 

Male and Female : Pale red heak. Bright bay on the back between 
wings. Crown dull chestnut, no black or white. Whitish wing 
bars, tail longer than wings, below grayish white ; very light- 
coloured feet. 

Song: Very pleasing and melodious, " Whee-whee-whee-iddle, iddle, 
iddle, ee ! " 

Season : Common summer resident. 

Breeds : From Virginia northward. 

164 



SONG-BIRDS. Junco 

Nest : Of grass, in low shrubs or on ground. 
Eggs : 4, cloudy white, spotted and specked with brown. 
Bange: Eastern United States and southern Canada, west to the 
Plains. 

TMs is the tuneful Sparrow of fields and meadows that, 
rising as you approach, goes with a wavering flight to the 
next rift of grasses, never letting you come near it, and yet 
not appearing to be shy. At first you will think it a Chippy, 
but a glance with your field-glass will show you its reddish 
bill, longer tail, and red-brown upper back, and while you 
are considering these differences it will perhaps perch on a 
branch and sing (it seldom sings while flying), and then you 
will have been formally introduced to the Field Sparrow. 

The three whistles which begin the song are very soft and 
sweet, having nothing sibilant about them, and the final trill 
dies away gradually, as if the bird was moving away as he 
sang. The quality of song resembles the Vesper Sparrow's, 
but has less variety. I have seen Field Sparrows here as 
late as Thanksgiving, but the records go to prove that the 
general range is more southerly than the Chippy's, and that 
it cannot be called common north of Massachusetts. 

Slate-coloured Junco : Junco hyemalis, 

JSnoicbird. 

Plate 29. Fig. 2. 

Length : 6-6.50 inches. 

Male and Female : Dark bluish slate all over, except lower breast and 
belly, which are grayish white and form a vest. Several outer 
tail feathers white, conspicuous in flying. Female, with a more 
rusty cast and vest less distinct. Bill flesh-white, dusky at tip. 

Song : A crisp call note, a simple trill, and a faint whispering warble, 
usually much broken, but not without sweetness. (Bicknell.) 
Song sometimes heard before it leaves in spring. 

Season : Common winter resident ; late September to April. 

Breeds : From the higher parts of the Alleghanies and northern New 
York and northern New England, northward. 

Nest : On ground, Sparrow-like. 

Eggs: 4-6, white, peppered with reddish brown. 

Bange : North America at large, but chiefly east of the Rocky Moun- 
tains ; south in winter to the Gulf States. 
156 



Song Sparrow SONG-BIRDS. 

The Juncos, whose habits are Sparrow-like, come to us 
after the summer moulting, varying their return with the 
weather. In 1893, they appeared September 25, but they 
may be expected to increase in number from this date until 
late October, while in November they go off on excursions 
in little parties, a habit that they keep up all winter. 

You cannot fail to name the Junco, with his sad-coloured 
coat, light vest and tail feathers; his cheerful habits will 
allow you to become quite intimate with him before winter 
is over, for he will come freely to the door for food, and 
is a frequenter of city parks and even back yards. 

Juncos are winter residents upon whom we can always 
depend, although the numbers vary greatly. A small flock 
has lodged for many seasons in the evergreen honeysuckles 
about the house, and one bitterly cold February, when 
every seed was frozen down, a number came into the barn, 
feeble and exhausted, and pecked about the grain bin, 
mutely waiting for food ; nor were they disappointed. 

Together with the Chickadee they are frequently to be 
seen around the kennels, where the dogs always treat them 
with courtesy. They usually leave in early April, but some- 
times lingering into May, they let us hear their song before 
they go northward for their wooing. 

Song Sparrow : Melospiza fasciata, 

Plate 30. Fig. 1. 

Length: 6-6.50 inches. 

Male and Female : Brown poll, somewhat striped. Above gray and 
brown, thickly striped. Gray stripe over eye ; brown stripe each 
side of throat; dark stripes across upper breast, forming a 
black spot in front. Beneath gray, slightly striped. Bill dark 
brown ; feet pale brown. 

JSong : "Olit, olit, olit, — chip, chip, chip, che-char, — che-wiss, wiss, 
wiss!" (Thoreau, " Walden.") " Maids, maids, maids, hang 
on your teakettle-ettle-ettle ! " (A local interpretation. Tho- 
reau, "Summer.") 

Season : March until November. Individuals remain through the year. 

Breeds : From Virginia and the northern portion of the Lake States 
northward. Sometimes three broods are reared. 
156 



SONG-BIRDS. Song Sparrow 

Kest : Location variable ; on ground or in low bush. 

Eggs : Grayish white, spotted, marked, and clouded with browns and 

lavender. 
Bange : Eastern United States to the Plains. 

The Song Sparrow is the darling among the Song-birds ; 
the Goldfinch's gay coat, the Bluebird's confidential mur- 
mur, or the melody of the Thrushes cannot rival him in our 
affections, even though they may possess superior qualities. 
Plain as his coat is, he carries his identity in the little 
black streaks that form two spots on his breast, and all the 
year we may hope to hear his simple domestic ballad. 
Thoreau says : " Some birds are poets and sing all summer. 
They are the true singers. Any man can write verses in 
the love season. We are most interested in those birds that 
sing for the love of the music, and not of their mates ; who 
meditate their strains and amuse themselves with singing ; 
the birds whose strains are of deeper sentiment.'^ 

This is the Song Sparrow. He is the most constant singer 
among our northern birds ; he has other songs in his reper- 
toire beside love-songs, even though he excels in these, his 
later efforts lacking their variety. He sings to you from 
the snow-powdered trees in February, to keep up your 
spirits. In March he comes out on a bush and tells you 
that the buds are swelling and that it is really spring. In 
April, May, and June he is in an ecstasy ; he sings to his 
mate, to the earth, to the sky, and to you, varying his theme 
until the simple melody of three notes and an appoggiatura 
is lost in endless changes. 

In July his song loses quality, and August heat drives 
him, somewhat discouraged, to moult in bushy seclusion, but 
does not wholly silence him. With middle September he 
emerges and begins anew, greeting the migrating birds as 
they return ; and all through October his notes sound clearly 
above the rustling leaves, and some morning he comes to 
the dogwood by the arbour and announces the first frost in 
a song that is more direct than that in which he told of 
spring. While the chestnuts fall from their velvet nests, 
he is singing in the hedge ; but when the brush heaps burn 

157 



Song Sparrow SONG-BIRDS. 

away to fragrant smoke in November, they veil his song a 
little, but it still continues. 

December daunts him, — so long to spring, he thinks, but 
even then a warm sunbeam draws out a note or two ; and 
when January's iron hand numbs him, he whispers, "so 
long since summer," and breathes a note in undertone for 
memory's sake; so is completed this Sparrow's year of 
song. 

Swamp Song Sparrow : Melospiza georgiana. 

Length: 4.50-4.80 inches. 

Male and Female : Crown bright bay, gray stripe over eye and gray 

wash over brown around neck. Back striped with various 

browns. Tail reddish brown. Much bay on wings. Mottled 

gray below. 
Song : A liquid though monotonous trill. 
Season : Migrant ; March and April, October and November. Breeds 

here sparingly. 
Breeds : From Northern States northward. 
Nest and Eggs : In tussock or bush in swamp, otherwise like Song 

Sparrow's ; eggs also similar. 
Bange : Eastern North America to the Plains, accidentally to Utah, 

north to the British Provinces, including Newfoundland and 

Labrador. Winters in the Middle States and southward. 

The distinctive marks of the Swamp Song Sparrow are 
its bright hay crown, hay wing-edges, and absence of any yel- 
low washes, or white tail feathers. The Chipping Sparrow 
has the bay crown, but lacks the bay on the wings ; the 
Vesper Sparrow has the bay wings, but lacks the crown, 
but the Swamp Sparrow has both. 

This Sparrow has neither the vocal powers or the sociabil- 
ity of the Song Sparrow. It is a shy bird that loves deep, 
cool thickets and haunts such impenetrable shrubberies as 
border sphagnum bogs; and though it is common in such 
places, when you look for it you will find it as elusive as 
the Veery and Marsh Wrens. 

Its fresh trill can be heard from middle April until it 
passes on in May ; where it breeds it sings almost continu- 

158 



SONG-BIRDS. Fox Sparrow 

ously until August, and after moulting has an intermittent 
period of song before it leaves in October. 



Fox Sparrow : Passerella iliaca. 



Length: 6.50-7.25 inches. 

Male and Female : The largest and reddest of the Sparrows, the size 
of the Hermit Thrush. Above red-brown, varying from dark 
to bright chestnut, brightest on rump and tail. Breast light 
gray, arrowhead markings on throat and breast, sides streaked 
with reddish brown. Bill dark above, lower mandible yellow- 
ish, feet pale. 

Song: A sweet, varied warble, sometimes heard during migrations. 
Call note a feeble zip-zip. 

Season: In migrations. Common in March, April, October, and 
November. Found by Mr. Averill as late as December 29. 

Breeds : North of the United States. 

Nest : Usual Ground Sparrow nest. 

Eggs : Greenish white, speckled with red-brown. 

Bange : Eastern North America, west to the Plains and Alaska (val- 
ley of the Yukon to the Pacific), and from the Arctic coast 
south to the United States. Winters chiefly south of the Poto- 
mac and Ohio rivers. 

This bird, whose fox-red feathers, and not a sly dispo- 
sition, give it the name of Fox Sparrow, is a delightful 
songster as well as a large and boldly marked species. 
They come in flocks in very early spring, — when the Blue- 
bird and Song Sparrow are sharing the musical honours, — 
and, settling on the pastures, send up a wave of gentle 
music, and when they return in autumn they still give a 
few soft notes. 

Mr. Bicknell has heard them sing as early as February 
29 and as late as November 17. He says that this 
Sparrow seems indisposed to sing unless present in num- 
bers. This probably applies only to the anti-nuptial song ; 
for, as a rule, the perfect song of wild birds is not heard 
before they leave and after they rejoin the flocks, but only 
at the period when they assert themselves as individuals. 

159 



Towhee SONG-BIRDS. 

Towhee: JPipilo erythrophthalmus* 

Chewirik, Ground Robin. 

Plate 31. 

Length: 7.50-8.75 inches. 

Male : Head, neck, chest, back, and all but outer tail feathers black. 
Belly and spots on outer tail feathers white, sides light bay. 
Bill black ; feet light brown. 

Female: Drab or brownish where the male is black. 

Song : Clear and ringing, " Teweek — tew6ek — towhee— blure— towhee 
blure!" 

Season : Common summer resident ; late April to October. 

Breeds : In its range generally. 

Nest : On the ground ; of grass, fibres, hair, etc. ; large but well con- 
cealed by underbrush. 

Eggs; White, heavily speckled with brown. 

Bange: Eastern United States and southern Canada, west to the 
Plains. 

In early May when the Thrushes are scratching in the 
shrubbery, a stranger appears among them, clad in bay, 
white, and black, who hops with such exaggerated precision 
that he seems like a messenger bearing important news. 
But it is only another of the Sparrow tribe, wearing the 
thick bill of the Buntings. He has probably been in 
the vicinity a week or two but has kept aloof. He bears 
the local name of Ground Eobin, because he nests upon the 
ground and has partially reddish under parts. 

Although common summer residents they are so shy that 
they are rarely seen after the breeding-season. If you ap- 
proach the nest, the male will run through the bushes in an 
opposite direction, uttering his sharp " teweek, towhee " (a 
note which suggested the name Towhee) and in his anxiety 
exposes himself fully to view. Late in the afternoon he 
mounts a tree, at some distance from his nest, and rings out 
his rather defiant song. 

He is a very restless bird, prying about continually for 
seeds and insects, upon which he feeds equally, and in 
autumn he also eats such berries as he can glean. After 
the moulting he only gives his call note and, being affected 

160 



PLATE 32. 




CARDINAL. 

Length, 8-9 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS. Cardinal 

by cold, leaves before hard frosts. A pair or two always 
nest in the garden under a tangle of wild grape-vines. 

Cardinal : Cardinalis cardinalis. 

Cardinal Grosbeak, Virginia Nightingale. 

Plate 32. 

Length .• 8-9 inches. 

Male : Magnificent red, conspicuously crested ; black throat and band 

around beak. Wings at some seasons washed with gray. Bill 

light red ; feet brown. 
Female : Brownish yellow ; crest, wings, and tail reddish. 
Song: A full, rich whistle, — " Cheo-cheo-chehoo-cheo ! " Female 

also sings. 
Season : A notable bird of the Southern States, straggling as far north 

as Massachusetts. 
Breeds : Through its range. 
Nest : Bulky and loosely made of bark, leaves, and grass placed in a 

bush. 
Hggs : Pale gray, marked with brown, varying from red to chocolate. 
Bange: Eastern United States, north to New Jersey and the Ohio 

Valley (casually farther), west to the Plains. 

As a cage bird the Cardinal is familiar to nearly every 
one; although in confinement he soon loses the brilliancy 
of his plumage, he often keeps his full song. He is regarded 
as a semi-tropical species, yet in the breeding-season he 
strays into the New England States; winters plentifully 
in lower Pennsylvania, while a small colony are resident in 
Central Park, New York. 

The Cardinal owes many of his misfortunes to his " fatal 
gift of beauty." It is simply impossible that he should 
escape notice, and to be seen, in spite of laws to the con- 
trary, means that he will either be trapped, shot, or perse- 
cuted out of the country. The fact that this bird has not 
become extinct is a wonderful proof of the endurance and 
persistency of the species. 

In the vicinity of New York, Mr. Bicknell says that its 

song lasts from April to August, and that he has seen the 

Cardinal in every month from October to March. Wilson 

writes that the full song lasts, in the South, from March to 

H 161 



Grosbeak SONG-BIRDS. 

September, and that in January and February this bird's 
clear notes are the only music. In Europe, where they are 
highly prized as cage birds, the name of Virginia Nightin- 
gale is given them. 

The most delicate and pathetic description of this bird, 
whose beauty is his knell, is to be found in J. L. Allen's 
" Kentucky Cardinal," — that story in which a knowledge 
of wild Nature and of the human heart are so perfectly 
blended : — " Lo ! some morning the leaves are on the ground, 
and the birds have vanished. The species that remain, or 
that come to us then, wear the hues of the season and melt 
into the tone of Nature's background, — blues, grays, 
browns, with touches of white on tail and breast and wing 
for coming flecks of snow. 

" Save only him, — proud, solitary stranger to our un- 
friendly land, — the fiery Grosbeak. Nature in Kentucky 
has no wintry harmonies for him. He could find these 
only among the tufts of the October sumach, or in the gum- 
tree when it stands a pillar of red twilight fire in the dark 
November woods, or in the far depths of the crimson sun- 
set skies, where, indeed, he seems to have been nested, and 
whence to have come as a messenger of beauty, bearing on 
his wings the light of his diviner home. . . . What won- 
der if he is so shy, so rare, so secluded, this flame-coloured 
prisoner in dark green chambers, who has only to be seen 
or heard and Death adjusts an arrow ! . . . He will sit for 
a long time in the heart of a cedar, as if absorbed in the 
tragic memories of his race. Then, softly, wearily, he will 
call out to you and to the whole world : Peace . . . Peace 
. . . PeoAie . . . Peace . . . Peace . . . ! — the most melo- 
dious sigh that ever issued from the clefts of a dungeon." 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak: Habia ludoviciana, 

Plate 33. 

Length: 7.75-8.50 inches. 

Male : Breast rose-carmine, which colour extends under the wings. 

Above black ; belly, rump, three outer tail quills and two spots 

on wings white ; white bill. 

162 



SONG-BIRDS. Grosbeak 

Female : Brownish, sulphur-yellow under wings ; no rosy tint ; heavy 

brown bill. 
Song : A delightful, rolling warble, often heard toward evening. 
Season : Common summer resident ; May 1 to middle September. 
Breeds : From the Middle States northward. 
Kest: A perfect circle, neatly made of fibres and grass, lined with 

finer grasses, placed in a low tree, or more frequently a thorn 

bush in old pastures near the edge of woods. 
Eggs : Dirty green, with dark brown spots and speckles. 
Bange : Eastern United States and southern Canada ; west to the 

eastern border of the Plains ; south in winter to Cuba, Central 

America, and northern South America. 

You will always remember th.e day when you first see 
this Grosbeak. Its song may be familiar to you, though 
you are wholly unconscious of it; for in the great spring 
chorus you may mistake it for a particularly melodious 
Eobin, who has added a few Oriole notes to his repertoire. 
The Grosbeak's song, however, has a retrospective quality 
all its own, and shared by neither Robin or Oriole, — a sort 
of dreaminess, in keeping with its habit of singing into the 
night. Gibson says that its song is suffused with colour 
like a luscious tropic fruit rendered into sound. 

The songster itself, if seen feeding, as it sometimes does, 
upon the grass, is a dark, clumsy-looking bird, with an awk- 
ward beak ; and it is only when you look at it from beneath, 
as it perches in the trees, that you see the rosy shield and 
flush under the outspread wings. 

I first identified bird and song one June twilight, after a 
day when the roses had burst into sudden bloom; and it 
seemed as if their glorious colour was reflected on this novel 
bird and mingled with his song. I have never found the 
nest near here, but Mr. Averill says that they breed freely 
in the vicinity, and that this spring he saw a male covering 
the nest, an unusual occurrence with birds of such conspic- 
uous colouring. 

In some parts of Pennsylvania, according to Dr. Warren, 
the farmers protect this Grosbeak, owing to its services in 
killing potato-bugs, and have christened it the Potato-bug 
Bird. Its diet is varied, comprising beetles, flies, larvae, 

163 



Indigo BunUng SONG-BIRDS. 

seeds, the buds of hickory, beech, and birch, and fruit 
blossoms. 

The distribution of the Grosbeak is somewhat irregular ; 
it will be common on one side of a river and rare on the 
other, or plentiful on both sides of a range of hills and un- 
known among the hills themselves. The song is continued 
well into August, but the bird is quite silent before leaving 
in September. Two or three years are required to bring the 
rose-coloured markings to perfection ; but Mr. Bicknell once 
shot a young male on the 23, of September, whose breast 
was crimsoning, and who was in full song. This last fact 
adds proof to a pet theory of my own, that the best autumn 
music is made by the birds of the season. 

Indigo Bunting: JPasserina cyanea, 

Plate 34. 

Length: 5.50 inches. 

Male : Deep blue (in some lights, having a greenish cast) , deepest on 

head; rump, wmgs, and tail washed thinly with brownish. 

Bill dark above, lighter below. 
Female : Above, warm brown, whitening on breast. 
Song : Sweet but weak, — " Tshe — tshe — tshe — tshay ! " 
Season : Middle of May to third week in September. 
Breeds : Through its United States range. 
Nest : In bushes, bulky and rude, of leaves and grass. 
Eggs : Bluish or pure white, with brown spots, 
Bange : Eastern United States, south, in winter, to Veragua. 

Beautiful plumage and a very small voice is the sum of 
the Indigo Bunting's attractions. It comes about the middle 
of May with the Scarlet Tanager, and if you should chance 
to find these birds in company, as sometimes happens, rest- 
ing on the same rough fence rail, while a Goldfinch swings 
near them among the wayside grasses, you will have seen 
the primary colours as illustrated in bird life. 

When the Bunting feeds upon the ground, as is his usual 
habit, his food consisting mainly of the seed of small grasses 
and herbs, his plumage is brought out wonderfully by the 
play of light upon it, varying from deep blue to a tint of 
verde antique, unlike the Bluebird's sky colour. 

164 



PLATE 34. 




INDIGO BUNTING. 

1. Male. 2. Female. 

Length, 5.50 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS. Bobolink 

The most likely place to find him is in old, bush-grown 
pastures, and along the lane hedges; like all the bright- 
hued birds he is beset by enemies both of earth and sky, 
but his Sparrow instinct, which has a love for mother- 
earth, bids him build near the ground. The dangers of the 
nesting-time fall mostly to his share, for his dull brown 
mate is easily overlooked as an insignificant Sparrow. Na- 
ture almost always gives a plain coat to the wives of these 
gayly dressed cavaliers, for her primal thought is the safety 
of the home and its young life. 

FAMILY ICTERID^ : BLACKBIRDS, ORIOLES, ETC. 
Bobolink: Dollchonyx oryzivorus* 

After moult BeedrUrd. 

Plate 35. 
Length : 6.50-7 inches. 
Male: Black head, chin, tail, wings, and under parts. Buff patch on 

back of neck ; also buff edges to some tail and wing feathers. 

Rump and upper wing coverts white. Bill brown. In autumn 

similar to female. 
Female: Below yellowish brown. Above striped brown, except on 

rump, with yellow and white tips to some feathers. Two dark 

stripes on crown. 
Song : A delightful, incoherent melody ; sung oftentimes as the bird 

soars upward. 
Season : Early May to October. 
Breeds : From the middle United States northward, and winters south 

of the United States. 
Nest : A loose heap of twigs and grass on the ground in low meadows 

and hay-fields ; common, but very difficult to discover. 
Eggs : 4-6, clear gray, with clouds and markings of dark brown. 
Hange : Eastern North America to the Great Plains, north to south- 
em Canada ; south, in winter, to the West Indies and South 

America. 

The Bobolink, the bird of two lives in one! The wild, 
ecstatic black and buff singer, who soars above the May 
meadows, leaving a trail of rippling music, and in autumn 
the brown striped bird who, voiceless but for a metallic 
"chink," is hunted through the marshes by the gunners, 

165 



Bobolink SONG-BIRDS. 

making his last appearance as an article of food, heralded 
on the restaurant bill of fare thus : " Keed-birds, four on a 
skewer, 50 cents." 

Strange to say that two-thirds of the gunners who do the 
shooting deny that the birds are identical and that they are 
killing so much latent music. "The brown birds are all 
females," they say, " which, being greatly in excess of the 
males, remain after the latter have disappeared." I would 
advise all such incredulous ones to buy The Auk (an intel- 
ligible ornithological quarterly) for October, 1893, where 
they will find a paper on this subject by Mr. Frank M. 
Chapman, and a coloured plate showing the Bobolink life- 
sized, in the spring transition, when he is again moulting 
the stripes for the breeding-coat. 

Of all our songsters none enter into the literature of fact 
and fancy more fully than the Bobolink, and none so exhila- 
rates us by his song. Sit upon the fence of an upland 
meadow any time from early May until the last of June, 
watch and listen. Up from the grass the Bobolinks fly, 
some singing and dropping again, others rising Lark-like 
until the distant notes sound like the tinkling of an 
ancient clavichord. Then, while you are gazing skyward, 
from the choke-cherry tree above your head will come the 
hurried syllables in which Mr. Burroughs interprets the 
song : " Ha ! Ha ! Ha ! I must have my fun, Miss Silver- 
thimble, if I break every heart in the meadow, see, see, see ! " 
Meanwhile, the grass is full of nests and brown mothers, 
neither of which you see, for you are wholly entranced by 
the song. 

Bryant's poem on Robert of Lincoln contains a good 
description of the bird's plumage, but is too precise and 
measured to express the rapture of the song. It may de- 
scribe a stuffed Bobolink, but never a wild, living one. Wil- 
son Flagg's verses on The O'Lincon Family, one of which 
I quote, are in truer key : — 

"Every one's a funny fellow; every one's a little mellow; 
Follow, follow, follow, follow, o'er the hill and in the hollow. 
Merrily, merrily, there they hie ; now they rise and now they fly ; 

166 



PLATE 35. 




BOBOLINK. 
1. Male. 2. Female. 

Length, C.50-7 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS. Cowbird 

They cross and turn, and in and out, and down the middle and wheel 

about. 
With a ' Phew, shew, Wadolincon ; listen to me, Bobolincon ! 
Happy's the wooing that's speedily doing, that's speedily doing, 
That's merry and over with the bloom of the clover ; 
Bobolincon, Wadolincon, Winterseeble, follow, follow me ! '" 

Tlie prose writers vie with the poets in singing the Bobo- 
link's praises, their own words turning to music under his 
spell. Listen to what Thoreau says of the song: "It is 
as if he [the bird] touched his harp with a vase of liquid 
melody, and when he lifted it out the notes fell like bubbles 
from the strings." ..." away he launches, and the meadow 
is all bespattered with melody." 

What matters it to us who hear his song in the north if 
the singer, in his migrations, is at war with the rice-growers 
of warmer regions ? Here he is the peerless musician, whom 
no one should wittingly destroy; and yet we buy "Eeed- 
birds, four on a skewer, for 50 cents." 

Cowbird ; Molothrus ater. 

Plate 39. Fig. 1. 

Length: 7.50-8 inches. 

Male : Head, throat, and shoulders glistening dark brown ; all other 
parts iridescent black. Bill dark brown ; feet rusty black. A 
walker. 

Female : Dull, brownish gray. 

Song : A whistle and a few short, rasping notes. Call note, " Cluck- 
see ! " 

Season : March to November ; occasionally winters. 

Breeds : Through range. 

Nest : Builds none, but lays its eggs at random in the nests of other 
birds, usually choosing those of species smaller than itself. 

Eggs : Almost an inch long, white, speckled with brown and various 
shades of gray. 

Bange : United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific ; north into 
southern British America ; south, in winter, into Mexico. 

The Cowbird is the pariah of bird-dom, the exception 
that proves the rule of marital fidelity and good housekeep- 
ing. It is the bird that you see so frequently in pastures, 

167 



Cowbird SONG-BIRDS. 

walking after the grazing cattle and feeding upon the insects 
dislodged from the grass by their cropping. Other birds 
build a home and seek a mate, often remaining with the 
same one a lifetime. The Cowbirds are polygamous, liv- 
ing in roving flocks, building no nests, and providing in no 
way for their offspring. When the laying impulse seizes 
them, they slyly deposit the egg in the nest of some smaller 
bird. This shows forethought, however ; for there is less 
likelihood of the eggs being thrust out, and it also obtains 
a greater share of warmth than the other eggs in the nest 
and hatches more rapidly. 

Many birds do not allow themselves to be so imposed 
upon, and either eject the strange egg, build a new nest 
over it, or abandon their nest entirely; others seemingly 
less intelligent will rear the ungainly stranger, even though 
from its greater size and appetite it crowds and starves the 
legitimate tenants of the nest. I have many and many a 
time seen a young Cowbird, after leaving the nest, being 
fed by a bird so much smaller than itself that the poor 
foster parent had to stand on tiptoe. 

Cowbirds' eggs have been found in the nests of the Chat, 
Baltimore Oriole, Wood Thrush, Mourning Dove, Kingbird, 
Towhee, Vireos, Warblers, and all the Sparrows, and even 
in the secluded hut of the Ovenbird, while many nests are 
so unfortunate as to contain more than one of these eggs. 

Vagrants as the Cowbirds are in the breeding-season, 
after the nesting the young do not continue with their 
foster parents, but return to the flocks of their progenitors, 
and remain with them. Thus these Cowbirds are the social- 
ists among birds, and are like their human prototypes, who 
send their young to free kindergartens and mission schools 
that they may be fed and clothed at the expense of others ; 
then drawing them surely back, with their inherited prin- 
ciples unchanged. Some evils are inextricably mixed up 
with the foundations of things. 



168 



PLATE 36. 




RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD. 

Length, about 9 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS. Red-winged Blackbird 

Red' winged Blackbird : Agelaius phoeniceus, 

Plate 36. 

Length : Very variable ; 8.25-9.85 inches. 

3fale : Rich blue-black ; scarlet shoulders, edged with yellow. 

Female: Finely speckled with rusty black, brown, and orange. 

Shoulders obscurely orange-red. 
Song : A rich, juicy note, — " Oucher-la-ree-6 ! " 
Season : Late March to October. Sometimes winters. 
Breeds : Through summer range. 
Nest : A bulky pocket hung between reeds or stems of alders, etc. ; 

made of rush blades and grass, and lined with finer grasses. 
Eggs : 4-6, light blue, fancifully marked with lines, dots, and patches 

of black and lilac. 
Range : North America in general, from Great Slave Lake south to 

Costa Rica. 

As a summer resident the Ked-winged Blackbird is a 
familiar sight in low meadows and along roadsides. At a 
little distance he appears to be only a plain, black bird, but 
as he extends his wings his brilliant epaulets come into 
prominence. The plumage of the female, though, incon- 
spicuous, is singularly beautiful when seen at close range. 
It looks like a fabric of which the warp is black and the 
woof a twisted thread of brown and yellow. The Ked- 
wings are essentially early birds, often returning in spring 
when their marshy haunts are still frozen over. Their 
vocalization is suggestive of cool, moist ground and hidden 
springs ; it continues until late July, and is briefly renewed 
in October. The deep nest is half hung, half twined 
between the stems of marsh-growing plants, and often 
holds two broods of a season; the boggy location chosen 
serves to protect it quite thoroughly from human invaders. 

This Blackbird's clear notes are associated with those of 
the Meadowlark, as they are both early singers and are 
found in similar places. They are useful birds to the agri- 
culturist, as they are great destroyers of cutworms. They 
are sometimes polygamous, though as frequently seen in 
pairs ; being very gregarious birds, many nests are usually 
found in the same locality. 

169 



Meadowlark SONG-BIRDS. 

Meadowlark: Sturnella magna* 

Plate 1. 

Length: 10.75 incties. 

Male a7id Female : Much variegated above, general colour brown. Bill 
stout and straight. Crown with brown and black streaks, black 
line behind eye. Tail black with white outer quills ; wings edged 
with yellow. Under parts yellow, black crescent on throat. 
Strong legs, a walker. Female paler. 

Song : Clear and piercing, — " Spring o' the Y-e-a-r I " 

Season : A resident, the migrants remaining from April until late 
October. 

Breeds : Abundantly throughout its range. 

Nest : Of dried grass ; placed on the ground ; usually concealed by a 
tuft of grass, which makes a partial roof. 

Eggs : 4-6, brilliant white, speckled with purple and reddish brown. 

Range : Eastern United States and southern Canada, to the Plains. 

This abundant bird, common in the migrations, and present 
with us all winter in considerable numbers, is not a Lark at 
all ; it has superb plumage, and its song, though consisting 
of but a few syllables, is sweet and thrilling. Almost 
before a tinge of green has come upon the meadows, these 
birds are searching for worms and larvse, which form a large 
part of their diet, and it is at this time that they show their 
yellow breasts, with the striking black crescent, to the best 
advantage. While they are feeding, they constantly give 
their calling song, varying the intonation and accent in a 
way which is very expressive — " Spring o' the Y-e-a-r, 
Spring o' the Year ! " It has a breezy sound, as fresh and 
wild as if the wind were blowing through a flute. They sing 
from March until July, and then again after the moulting, 
though at this time they never equal their spring song, and 
I have heard a few notes in January, when they were linger- 
ing about the stubble fields. In winter they often come 
about the barns for food, and will stand quite still, and 
watch me while I scatter seeds to them and other such way- 
farers. 

The Meadowlark is one of the most constant of the win- 
ter colony, associating with the Horned Lark on the shore 

170 



PLATE 37. 




/fsu 



ORCHARD ORIOLE. 

1. Male. 2. Female. 

Length, 7 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS. Orchard Oriole 

meadows, and with the Snowflakes in the inland fields, from 
which he announces " Spring o' the Year " with his pene- 
trating voice, almost before that coy season has awaked and 
warmed her fingers in the sun's grudging rays. 

Orchard Oriole: Icterus spurius. 

Plate 37. 

Length : 7 inches. 

Male .- Black head, chin, neck, throat, tail, and part of wings. Breast, 
belly, rump, and shoulders chestnut-brown. White wing bar, 
and some feathers edged with black and chestnut. Round 
black tail edged with lighter. Bill and feet bluish black. 

Female : Upper parts brown, wings with pale buff edges and shoulder 
bars. Throat black, rump and edges of some tail feathers olive- 
green. Under parts olive-yellow. 

Song : Resembling that of the Baltimore Oriole, but less shrill. 

Season : Summer resident ; May to September. 

Breeds : Throughout United States range. 

Nest : A round basket-like structure, notable for its even weaving. It 
may be pensile or only partly so, and is usually placed in a 
fruit tree at a moderate height. 

Eggs : 4, cloudy white, spotted with blackish brown. 

Range : United States, west to the Plains ; south, in winter, to Pan- 
ama. 

The Orchard Oriole is less known in New England than 
the Baltimore Oriole, not only because of its duller colouring 
but because its range is more southerly, and though it goes 
all through the Eastern States it is not plentiful north of 
Massachusetts. 

I can always rely upon seeing a few pairs about the gar- 
den in May, when the early apples are in bloom ; for though 
these Orioles are chiefly insect-eaters, they will sometimes 
help themselves to the fruit blossoms, and later on to an 
occasional meal from the raspberry vines or the strawberry 
bed. These depredations, however, are trifling in compari- 
son to the good they do in destroying plant-lice, beetles, rose- 
slugs, and cabbage-worms. 

As singers their notes are more harsh and rapidly uttered 
than those of the other species, and are not particularly 

171 



Baltimore Oriole SONG-BIRDS. 

distinguisliable in tlie bird chorus ; but as nest-builders they 
excel, and there is no nest that more closely resembles man's 
primitive efforts at basket-weaving. It is usually suspended 
between branches or twigs, and is woven of dried grasses 
of nearly equal size, so that the nest is very neat and even. 
Old orchards are favourite haunts of this bird, for it is very shy 
and seldom builds near dwellings. Its song season is brief, 
being over in July, and even immediately after the nesting, 
when the young birds mingle their immature plumage and 
attempted song, the identification of either song or bird is 
difficult for the novice. 



Baltimore Oriole: Icterus galbula. 

Golden Oriole, Hang-nest, Golden Bobin. 

Plate 38. 

Length : 8 inclies. 

Male : Black head, throat, and upper half of hack. Wings black, 
with white spots and edges ; tail quills spotted with yellow. 
Everywhere else orange-flame. Bill and feet slatish black. 

Female : Paler, the black washed with olive. Below dull orange. 

Song: Somewhat shrill and interrogative, but withal martial. In 
the breeding-season they have an anxious call, — "Will you? 
Will you really, really, truly?" Female's note a plaintive 
"I w-i-11." 

Season : 1st of May to the middle of September. 

Breeds : Through range. 

Nest: A pensile pocket, woven of milkweed, flax, fine string, or 
frayings of cotton, rope, etc. ; suspended at the end of a sway- 
ing branch at considerable distance from the ground. 

Eggs : 4-6, whitish ground, scrawled with black-brown. 

Bange : Eastern United States, west nearly to the Rocky Mountains. 

There is a bit of history as well as tradition connected 
with the naming of this splendid bird. George Calvert, 
the first Baron Baltimore, who penned the charter of settle- 
ment in 1632 of the country which now comprises the 
states of Delaware and Maryland (a grant which fructified 
later for the benefit of his son), is the subject of the tradi- 
tion which still lingers in Maryland, and has sufficient facts 

172 



SONG-BIRDS. Baltimore Oriole 

for a foundation to be credible. The story says that Cal- 
vert, worn out and discouraged by the various trials and 
rigours of temperature in his Newfoundland colony, in 1628 
visited the Virginia settlement. He explored the waters of 
the Chesapeake, with its noble tributaries and delicious 
climate, and found the shores and woods teeming with birds, 
and among them great flocks of Orioles, who so cheered 
him by their song and colour that he took them as good 
omens and adopted their colours for his own. Be this as it 
may, it is a likely story ; for the Oriole has gone on cheering 
and charming mankind to this day. 

The Oriole comes in full plumage and song in time to 
sing the praises of the blooming orchards, but if the season 
is cold and late and the cherries do not yield their mimic 
snow-storm, — my Lord Baltimore also delays his coming. 
When these Orioles first arrive the males are in the majority, 
and they sit in the spruces calling by the hour, with a lonely 
querulous note. 

In a few days the females appear in force, and then the 
martial music begins, and the birds' golden trumpeting often 
turns to a desperate clashing of cymbals when two males 
engage in combat ; for the Oriole has a temper to match his 
flaming plumage and fights with a will. 

The next step is the selection of a nesting-tree. It must 
be tall with swinging branches to yield when the wind 
blows, and near enough to civilization to intimidate the 

Hawks. 

Hush ! 'tis he ! 
My Oriole, my glance of summer fire, 
Is come at last, and ever on the watch, 
Twitches the pack-thread I had lightly wound 
About the bough to help his housekeeping, — 
Twitches and scouts by turns, blessing his luck, 
Yet fearing me who laid it in his way, 
Nor, more than wiser we in our affairs, 
Divines the providence that hides and helps. 
Reave, ho I Heave, ho ! he whistles as the twine 
Slackens its hold ; once more, now ! and a flash 
Lightens across the sunlight to the elm 
Where his mate dangles at her cup of felt. — Lowbll. 
173 



BalUmore Oriole SONG-BIRDS. 

If the situation is protected from birds of prey, the nest 
is made quite open at the top ; but if it is in a wild and 
remote region, the structure is more bottle-shaped, with a 
small opening, which completely hides the sitting bird. 
This accounts for the great variation in the form of nests 
found in different localities. 

The Oriole is a beneficent garden guest ; his food is largely 
insectivorous, and he not only eats worms and grubs, but 
also strips cocoons of their latent mischief ; so we will not 
begrudge him a few cherries for dessert. 

He is a quick-witted bird, and a good neighbour to his 
fellows. Many instances of his power of thinking have 
come under my eyes, but none more forcible than an epi- 
sode of last season. In June I was sitting under the trees, 
watching the evolutions of a pair of Eedstarts, when a vio- 
lent commotion in the shrubbery attracted me. Catbirds 
were screaming lustily, and Kobins, Wrens, and Sparrows 
collected at the call in a body, while a gorgeous Oriole shot 
through the trees, close above my head. The cause of the 
rumpus was a chipmunk, who had dragged a young Catbird 
from the nest by the leg (for this little pest steals birds as 
well as eggs, though I have never seen them eat a bird). 
The troop of birds succeeded in frightening away the 
intruder, and I returned to my hammock, thinking no 
more of it. Not so with the Oriole. He silently watched 
the chipmunk, who sat chattering in a pine. Several min- 
utes passed, and then the chipmunk ran out in full view on 
a long bough. Quick as a flash the Oriole darted at him, 
and pierced the poppy eyes with his slender beak, in rapid 
succession. The unfortunate chipmunk fell to the ground, 
and was put out of misery, while the Oriole flew off as if 
nothing unusual had happened, and was soon swinging and 
singing in the elm again, the type of summer fervour. Un- 
like many highly coloured birds, he retains his brilliancy 
after moulting, and also has a second period of song, which 
lasts from August until early September, when he leaves us. 



174 




o s 



PLATE 39. 




1. COWBIRD. 
Length, 7.50-8 inches. 



2. PURPLE GRACKLE. 

Length, 12-13.50 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS. BlackbirdB 

Rusty Blackbird : Scolecophagus carolinus. 

Thrush Blackbird. 

Length: 9-9.50 inches. 

Male : In breeding-plumage. Glossy black with metallic glints and a 

rusty wash. In autumn more decidedly rust-coloured. Bill 

and feet black. 
Female : Deep nisty brown above, grayish below. 
Song : Only a clucking call note. 
Season: Common migrant; April, October, and November; may 

winter. 
Breeds : From northern New England northward. 
Nest: Bulky, of dried grasses, lined with mud and slung among 

reeds or bushes over water like that of the Red-wing. 
Eggs: 4, colouring very variable, greenish blue to grayish white, 

mottled with brown. 
Bange : Eastern North America, west to Alaska and the Plains. 

You may identify these inconspicuous Blackbirds by 
their pale, straw-coloured eyes, and the rusty wash that 
dims their feathers, also from the fact that in spring they 
arrive in single pairs and not in flocks like the Grackles, 
while in fall they travel in small flocks and mingle with the 
Cowbirds in the pastures. 

Purple Grackle : Quiscalus quiscula. 

Crow Blackbird. 

Plate 39. Fig. 2. 

Length: 12-13.50 inches. 

Male and Female: Glossy metallic black, iridescent tints on head, 
tail, and wings. Iris bright yellow, tail longer than wings, feet 
black. Female more dull and smaller. 

Song : A crackling, wheezy squeaking ; call note a rasping chirp. 

Season: Common summer resident. I have also seen them in every 
month but January and February. 

Breeds : Through range, most freely in the northern part of it. 

Nest : A carefully built nest of rather miscellaneous materials, mud- 
lined, usually in trees, sometimas in a hollow tree. In ever- 
greens in many localities but never here, orchards being their 
favourite spot. 

176 



Qrackle SONG-BIRDS. 

Eggs : Indescribable, different sets wholly unlike ; the average 
groundwork soiled blue or green, waved, streaked, and clouded 
with brown. 

Hange : Atlantic States from Florida to Long Island. 

The most familiar of the Blackbirds as well as the most 
persecuted. Hated by the farmer for the alleged destruc- 
tion of corn-fields while even at the harvest season, they 
rid the soil of noxious insects and grubs and all the rest of 
the year are either harmless gleaners or beneficial scaven- 
gers, their gravest fault being that they sometimes destroy 
and eat the eggs of other birds. 

The Grackles begin their upward migration early in 
March, and some gray morning an immense flock will ap- 
pear festooning the bare tree, in which they settle with 
scintillating black, uttering at the same time a series of 
unique and discordant cries which would put the wildest 
banshee to shame. Hereabout they always choose an old 
stumpy orchard as their nesting-place though many author- 
ities consider that they nest preferably in conifers, — Dr. 
Abbot among others, giving a detailed account of their 
preference, during a particular season, for pines, ignoring 
the great beeches where they had previously colonized. 

In May of last year I had the pleasure of watching a 
fine male Grackle sing his ludicrous love-song. Ludicrous 
from my point of view, though doubtless from a Grackle's 
standpoint it was exceedingly thrilling, and the lady to 
whom it was addressed so considered it. 

It was the 15th of May, and the Grackle perched in my 
blighted old ash tree, displaying his glistening coat to the 
best advantage in the afternoon sun. The female was 
coyly hidden in the dogwood below him. Suddenly he 
spread his wings and tail, ruffed his breast, at the same 
time rising on tiptoe, like a melodramatic tenor, and uttered 
a high squeak expressive of his deep emotion. I expected 
that the female would fly away in disgust, but no, at each 
outburst she crept nearer and nearer and finally ventured 
upon the same branch that held the frantic singer. 

The flocking of the Grackles in early September is one 

176 



PLATE 40. 



1^ 




BLUE JAY. 

Length, 11-12 inches. 



SONG-BIRDS. Blue Jay 

of the fii'st signs of autumn, and they drop and settle in the 
lane and by the pool as if to warn the leaves that they 
must soon follow. 



FAMILY CORVID^: CROWS, JAYS, MAGPIES. 

Sub-family Garrulin^ : Jays. 

Blue Jay: Cyanocitta cristata, 

Plate 40. 

Length : 11-12 inches. 

Male and Female : Lead-blue above, head finely crested, a black collar 

uniting with some black feathers on the back. Below grayish 

white. Wing coverts and tail a bright blue barred transversely 

with black. 
Song : A whistling bell note in the breeding season, the usual cry a 

screaming "Jay, jay, jay ! " 
Season : Resident. 
Breeds : Through range. 
Nest : Bulky, in appearance like that of the Crow, but only one-quarter 

the size. 
Eggs: 5-6, about an inch long and broad for the length, brownish 

gray, with brown spots. 
Bange: Eastern North America to the Plains, and from the Fur 

Countries south to Florida and eastern Texas. 

When you see Jays in small flocks circling the trees in 
early spring and gathering their crop of chestnuts in the 
fall and acorns in early winter, you admire their brilliant 
colouring, jaunty crest and bold flight, merely wishing per- 
haps that their cry was less harsh. 

But how do these birds amuse themselves in the period 
between April and September, in their breeding and moult- 
ing season, when they are comparatively inconspicuous, for 
they go into the woods to breed and become almost silent, 
— it is a case of still waters running deeply ? Day by day 
they sally out of their nesting-places to market for them- 
selves and for their young, and nothing will do for them but 
fresh eggs and tender squabs from the nests of the Song- 
birds ; to be followed later by berries, small fruit, and grain. 
There are birds that have all the domestic virtues coupled 
N 177 



Am. Crow SONG-BIRDS. 

with personal beauty and interesting habits ; birds who are 
of benefit to general agriculture, but still make themselves 
very unwelcome in the home woods or about the gardens 
of the lovers of Song-birds. Of this class the Jay and the 
Crow, fellow members of one famil}^, are conspicuous exam- 
ples, the Crow of course lacking the attribute of beauty. 

It is interesting to be assured by Mr. Beal's report ^ that 
" 19 per cent of the Blue Jay's food consists of harmful in- 
sects . . . and that the habit of robbing the nests of other 
birds is much less common than has been asserted." Never- 
theless, that these birds raised sad havoc in my garden 
while they lived in a neighbouring thicket, I know by sad 
experience, and I personally prefer administering poisonous 
beverages to the various insects that enjoy garden rambles, 
than to be assisted in their destruction by this azure-plumed, 
jeering bandit. 

Nor does the fact that Jays make devoted parents, ex- 
cuse their audacity. The Kobber Barons were doubtless 
liberal enough inside their own castles, where the tribute 
from other homes gave the baby barons the wherewithal 
to wax fat and ferocious. I speak from the view point of 
the homekeeper and gardener whose first thought is for 
the Thrush, the Eobin, the Catbird, and all other friendly 
tenants of bush and hedge. 

Sub-family Corvine : Crows. 

American Crow: Co7*vus Americanus, 

Length : 18-20 inches. 

Male and Female : Glossy black, with a purplish tinge. Wings which 

appear saw-toothed when flying. Bill and feet black. Female 

a less brilliant black. 
Song : A quavering " Kar-r-r-er-r ! " in spring. Call note, " Caw-w ! " 
Season: Kesident. 

Breeds : All through North America. 
Nest : Consisting of a platform of coarse sticks, upon which rests the 

nest proper, made of smaller twigs and deeply lined with cedar 

bark. Tall trees are chosen ; preferably evergreens. 

1 "Some Common Birds in their Relation to Agriculture," Washington, 
1897. 

^ 178 



SONG-BIRDS. Fish Crow 

Eggs : 4-7, greenish ground, stained and spotted with brown ; vari- 
able both in size and colour. 
Bange : North America, from the Fur Countries to Mexico. 

With none of the beauty and daring of the Blue Jay to 
recommend him, the Crow, at least as a bird of the garden, 
home fields and woodlands, has not a single good mark to 
his name. A price has been set upon his head; he sees 
a gun a mile away, while his only picturesque quality is a 
negative one — when he completes the dreariness of a No- 
vember landscape by flapping dolefully over the stacked 
cornstalks in the brown fields. 

From the standpoint of the agricultural economist, how- 
ever, the Crow seems to be pronounced not guilty, or at 
least not wholly as black as he usually appears to the naked 
eye of the casual observer. The white feathers claimed for 
him are the May beetles, June bugs, grasshoppers, cut- 
worms, caterpillars, mice, etc., that he consumes in off sear- 
sons, when corn is too hard to suit him and nests are empty. 

Be this as it may, we must be allowed to regard birds 
somewhat in an aesthetic light, we are not all interested in 
cataloguing the contents of birds' stomachs, and no one Tvill 
deny that the average Crow (of course there may be abnor- 
mal and angelic exceptions) is a coward, with a hoarse voice 
and disagreeable manners added to a most offensive, crouch- 
ing personality hiding a world of cheap craft. In fact, a 
sort of feathered Uriah Heap, whom we do not desire for 
a near neighbour, though there may be people and communi- 
ties where he is appreciated. 

Fish Crow: Corvus ossifragus. 

Length : 14-16 inches. 

Male and Female : Glossy, purplish black. 

Song : Resembling the last species, but with a different intonation. 

Season : Summer resident. 

Breeds : Through range. 

Nest and Eggs: Hardly to be distinguished from those of the last 

species. 
Bange : Atlantic coast, from Long Island to Florida. 

179 



Horned Lark SONG-BIRDS. 

It is easy to confuse this Crow with the ordinary species, 
the only marks of identification being its inferior size and 
different call. It frequents the shore chiefly, and may be 
seen here on its arrival in early spring, before the Gulls 
have left, clamming on the mud flats and sand-bars of the 
creeks that run into Long Island Sound. These Crows seem 
to tread for the long-necked clams as people do, and then 
dislodge them with a blow from their strong beaks, break- 
ing the shell in the same manner, and tearing out the con- 
tents with the aid of their claws. In winter I have seen 
the common Crows flock to the beach and procure shell-fish 
in the same way. The Fish Crow is said, by Audubon, to 
catch fish like the Osprey, and flocks were seen by him sail- 
ing through the air, above the St. John's River, Florida, the 
aerial excursion lasting for hours, after which the Crows 
would turn their attention to fishing for half an hour, and 
then alight in the trees to plume themselves. 

Horned Liark: Octocoris alpestris. 

Shore Lark, 



Length: 7-7.50 inches. 

Male : Upper parts brown with a pinkish cast, most marked on neck 
and rump. Black crescent on breast ; black bar in front of 
head, extending to side of head, forming two tufts or horns ; 
frontlet, throat, and neck pale yellowish ; below whitish, streaked 
with black ; bill dark ; feet black. 

Female : Paler and somewhat smaller. 

Song : Only a call note here, but a charming song in the breeding- 
haunts. 

Season : Winter resident along shore ; October to April. 

Breeds : In March and April in boreal regions, and raises two broods 
a season. 

Nest : Of grass, in ground hollow. 

Eggs: Variable, greenish white or gray, heavily marked with dark 
gray. 

Bange : Northeastern North America, Greenland, and northern part 
of the Old World ; in winter south in the eastern United States 
to the Carolinas, Illinois, etc. 
180 



SONG-BIRDS. Homed Lark 

The pinkish gray colouring of the Horned Lark is very 
beautiful, but in the Middle and Eastern States he is rarely 
seen in his spring garb, and his winter plumage lacks the 
vivid contrasts and pure colour. 

These Larks, if the snow is not too deep, settle in the marsh- 
meadows, where they pick up a living from various seeds ; 
or, if the snow has covered the fields, they take refuge in 
sheltered spots by hayricks and even near houses. I have 
seen them quite close to the village, picking up oats under 
a shed where straw had been thrashed recently. According 
to Audubon, they have, in the breeding-range, the habit of 
singing as they soar in the air, after the manner of the 
European Skylark. 



181 



PERCHING SONGLESS BIRDS, 



ORDER PASSERES: PERCHING BIRDS. 

SUB-ORDER CLAMATORES : SONGLESS PERCHING 
BIRDS. 

FAMILY TYRANNIDJE: TYRANT FLYCATCHERS. 
Kingbird: Tyrannus Tyrannus, 

Bee Martin. 

Plate 41. 

Length : 8 inches. 

Male and Female : Above black, orange-red streak on poll. Beneath 

grayish white, darkest on breast. Tail terminating in a white 

band. 

Bill and feet black. 
Note : A piercing call note, — " Kyrie-K-y-rie ! " 
Season : Common summer resident ; May to September. 
Breeds : Through its United States range. 
Nest : Bulky and deeply cupped, made of sticks and grass, lined with 

matted fibres, usually in a conspicuous position on a horizontal 

branch in orchards or thin woods. 
Eggs : Nearly an inch long and almost round, cream or bluish white, 

boldly scratched and spotted with brown and lilac. Very hand- 
some and richly coloured. 
Bange : Eastern North America, from the British Provinces south to 

Central and South America. Rare west of the Rocky Mountains. 

That the Kingbird — the second largest of our Flycatchers 
— is a tyrant, as his Latin name indicates, no one will doubt 
who has watched his tactics for a single day. He is born a 
fighter ; he fights for his mate, he fights to protect his nest, 
and when he cannot find an opponent he emulates Don 
Quixote. His greatest tyranny is over the ravenous insects 
that he holds so well in check ; and the clumsy Crows and 
Hawks he drives at will. 

182 



PLATE 41 




KINGBIRD. 

Length, 8 inches. 



SONGLESS BIRDS. Kingbird 

Look at him as he sits motionless on the top wire of the 
fence, resting from an aerial excursion. He is easy to iden- 
tify, for his grays and blacks are so distinct and the clear 
white tail band is decisive. Suddenly he dashes into the 
air or sweeps above the ground and secures an insect with 
a sharp snap of the beak, — a drone bee, perhaps, although 
the bees that he captures are comparatively few, — and re- 
turns to the precise spot from which he started. This is a 
habit peculiar to the Flycatchers. I once watched a King- 
bird for nearly two hours, his point of vantage being a rail 
and wire fence between low meadows, and, though he would 
sail mauy hundred yards away, he always returned to his 
original perch. If a Crow or Hawk appears ever so far in the 
distance, he gives his shrill alarm note and goes in instant 
pursuit ; and lucky is the chicken yard that has a pair of these 
gallant knights at hand and the garden that shelters them. 

He does not seem, however, to care to cross swords with 
the Catbird, not, perhaps, that he is absolutely afraid, but 
he becomes suddenly near-sighted when that cunning musi- 
cian crosses his path. Dr. Abbott once tested the valour 
of a particularly saucy Kingbird, by sending up a red and 
yellow bird kite in the vicinity of its nest, pulling the kite 
backward as the bird advanced and then when he was close 
upon it slackening the string so that the Kingbird, unable 
to check itself, plunged through the paper and bolted off, 
not returning for many hours, doubtless because his enemy 
was intangible, and not from fear. 

Kingbirds make most devoted parents, and the young 
birds are delightful little things to watch as they develop 
if you are as fortunate in finding a nestful as was Mrs. 
Olive Thome Miller, who has recorded their ways for all 
bird-lovers present and future in her " Chronicle of Three 
Little Kings." ^ 

Opinions differ as to the Kingbird's bee-destroying pro- 
clivities, for which he received the name of Bee Martin; 
neighbouring farmers even tell different stories, — one hav- 
ing assured me that last year his hives were impoverished, 

1 " Little Brothers of the Air," p. 19. 
183 



riycatchera SONGLESS BIRDS. 

while the other, an equally successful apiarist, says that 
he has never suffered any appreciable loss from this bird. 
They are said to take only drones. 

Crested Flycatcher: Myiarchus crinitus. 

Length : 8-9 inches. 

Male and Female: Head feathers forming a poirited crest. Above 
grayish olive, browner on wings and tail, feathers of former 
with light edges. Throat gray, below sulphur-yellow, which 
extends beneath wings. Bill darkj thick, and rather short. 

Note : Harsh call, somewhat like the Kingbird's. 

Season: Summer resident ; May to September. 

Breeds : Through its United States range. 

Nest: In hollow trees and posts, sometimes in abandoned Wood- 
peckers' holes ; made of varied materials, in which snake skins 
are often found. 

Eggs: Uniquely marked, ground buff or clay-coloured, marked in 
various ways with purple, chestnut, and chocolate brown. 

Bange : Eastern United States and southern Canada, west to the 
Plains, south, in winter, through eastern Mexico to Costa Rica. 

This is the great sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, who lines his 
nest hollow with cast away snake skins. How many little 
boys, as well as people of larger growth, have worked their 
hands into the hole of a supposed Woodpecker, only to feel 
the drying skin of a snake twisted up inside, and have fairly 
tumbled to the ground, lest the former inhabitant of the 
skin should be in the vicinity. These birds do not nest as 
freely in the neighbourhood as the Kingbird, and, though 
sufficiently pugnacious with their bird kin, keep rather 
aloof from human society, so that their habits are less 
familiar. In early May when they arrive, they feed upon 
ground-beetles, etc., but later in the season frequent the 
wooded edges of lanes and old pastures, and very little 
insect life that passes by escapes their snapping gape. 

Burroughs, in speaking of the Flycatchers in general, 
says that "The wild Irishman of them all is the Great- 
crested Flycatcher, a large leather-coloured or sandy com- 
plexioned bird, that prowls through the woods, uttering 
its harsh, uncanny note, and waging fierce warfare upon 
its fellows." 

184 



PLATE 42. 




1. PHGEBE. 

Length, 6.75-7.25 inches. 



2. WOOD PEWEE. 



SONGLESS BIRDS. Flycatchera 

Phoebe : Sayornis phcehcm 

Water Fewee. 
Plate 42. Fig. 1. 

Length : 6.75-7.25 inches. 

Male and Female : Above deep olive-brown ; straight black bill. 
Outer edges of some tail feathers -whitish ; an erectile crest. 
Beneath dingy yellowish white ; feet black. 

Note : " Phcebee, phoebee, pewit, phceb6e ! " 

Season : April to October. Common summer resident. 

Breeds : From the Carolinas northward. 

Nest : In its native woods the nest is of moss, mud, and grass brack- 
eted on a rock, near or over running water ; but in the vicinity 
of settlements and villages, it is placed on a horizontal bridge 
beam, timber supporting porch or shed. 

Eggs: Pure white, somewhat spotted. 

Mange : Eastern North America, from the British Provinces south to 
eastern Mexico and Cuba, wintering from the South Atlantic 
and Gulf States southward. 

The cheerful Phoebe, the first to come and the last to 
leave of its tribe, can be distinguished by its sociability as 
well as its musical cry. To those who are familiar with, 
the domestic Phcebe, who builds his bulky moss nest at 
their very door, and who associate him with the Wren in 
his love of nooks in the outbuildings, it will seem strange 
to know that in his primitive state he haunts dim woods 
and running water. The domesticated Phoebe is a great 
bather, and may be seen in the half-light dashing in and 
out of the water as he makes trips to and from his nest. 

Here in the garden this bird frequently exhibits its love 
of water, and after the young are hatched in the various 
nests, both old and young repair to a maple near the pool, 
and disport themselves about the water until moulting-time. 
It is very amusing to watch them as they flash down, one 
by one, for a dip or an insect, taking both on the wing 
without a pause. 

Do not let the Phoebes build under the hoods of your win- 
dows, for their spongy nests harbour innumerable bird-lice, 
and under such circumstances your fly-screens will become 
infested and the house invaded. 

186 



Flycatchera SONGLESS BIRDS. 

Olive-sided Flycatcher: Contopus horealis. 

Length: 7.50 inches. 

3Iale and Female: Dark brown, deepest on head, olive-gray sides. 
Wings brown, with some white tips. Chin, throat, and centre 
of breast yellowish white. Bill, black above, yellowish below. 
Feet black. 

Note : " — wheo, O — wheo, — wheo ! " 

Season : In migrations ; May and September. 

Breeds: From higher and mountainous parts of the United States 
northward. 

Nest : Made of small twigs, grass, and fibres ; very crude and shape- 
less ; saddled on a high horizontal branch. 

Eggs : 4-5, buff- white, spotted thickly with reddish brown. 

Bange: North America; in winter, south to Central America and 
Colombia. 

The Olive-sided Flycatclier is an irregular migrant, which 
is sometimes rarest in spring and sometimes in autumn. I 
think, however, that it is rather plentiful in this neighbour- 
hood in early September, for I have seen it repeatedly with 
miscellaneous flocks of Flycatchers in the ranks of the early 
returning migrants. 



Wood Pewee: Contopus virens, 

Plate 42. Fig. 2. 
Length: 6-6.50 inches. 
Male and Female : Dusky olive-brown above, darkest on head, throat 

paler, middle of belly yellowish, growing lighter below. White 

eye ring and two whitish wing bars. Feet and bill dusky or 

black. 
Note : " Pewee- a, — peweea, peer ! " — as much a song as that of many 

birds classified as Song-birds. 
Season : May to October. 
Breeds : Throughout its range. 
Nest : Flat j its evenly rounded edge stuccoed with lichens like that 

of the Hummingbird ; hardly to be distinguished from the bough 

on which it is saddled. 
Fggs : Creamy- white, with a wreath of brown and lilac spots on the 

larger end. 
Bange: Eastern North America to the Plains, and from southern 

Canada southward. 

186 



SONGLESS BIRDS. Flycatchera 

In early May the Wood Pewee comes to the garden lane 
and whispers of his presence with his plaintive little ditty, 
and in the autumn the same lonely call is virtually the 
only wood note left. In spite of his name, he is not exclu- 
sively a wood-bird, but comes through the garden, follow- 
ing shyly in the Phoebe's wake. But he only trusts his 
precious nest to some mossy woodland limb, a trifle softened 
by decay, where he blends his house with its foundations by 
the skilful use of moss and lichens. 

Alert and swift of motion, he still wears an air of mystery, 
and his pathetic note seems like the expression of a hidden 
sorrow. Trowbridge's poem telling of his woodland search 
for the Pewee is one of the most charming bird epics we 
have, and the verse describing its plumage and song is the 
bird's life history told in a few lines, — 



*♦ I quit the search, and sat me down 
Beside the brook, irresolute, 
And watch a little bird in suit 
Of sombre olive, soft and brown. 

Perched in the maple branches, mute ; 
With greenish gold its vest was fringed, 
Its tiny cap was ebon-tinged. 
With ivory pale its wings were barred, 
And its dark eyes were tender starred. 
' Dear bird,' I said, ' what is thy name ? * 
And thrice the mournful answer came, 
So faint and far, and yet so near, — 
* Pewee ! pe-wee I peer ! * " 



Yellow-bellied Flycatcher : Empidonax flaviventris. 

Length : 5.50 inches. 

Male and Female : Above a decided olive-green, which colour extends 

to the breast. Under parts pale yellow, including wing linings. 

Yellowish eye ring and two yellowish bars on wings. Lower 

mandible yellow ; feet black. 
Note : " Kil-lic, kil-lic ! " Love note, " Pea-pe, we-yea I " 
Season : In migrations ; May and early September. 
Breeds : From Massachusetts northward. 

187 . ' 



Flycatchers SONGLESS BIRDS. 

Nest : Close to the earth in swampy ground, set in a stump or up- 
turned root ; constructed of mosses and thick- walled and bulky, 
like the Phoebe's. 

Eggs: White, spotted. 

Mange: Eastern North America to the Plains, and from southern 
Labrador south through eastern Mexico to Panama. 

The Yellow-bellied Flycatcher is noted as a rare migrant 
in this vicinity ; the only one that I have identified with cer- 
tainty in the spring migration was killed by flying against a 
wire trellis in the garden, but, like the last species, they are 
more locally abundant in autumn. They sometimes breed in 
northern Pennsylvania, in tangled thickets near streams. 

They are late birds in the spring, and do not arrive in 
southern New England, en route for their breeding-haunts, 
until the middle of May. 



Acadian Flycatcher: Einpidonax acadicus. 



Length : 5.75-6.25 inches. 

Male and Female : Above dull olive-green. Below yellowish, turning 

to light gray on throat and belly. White eye ring. Bill brown 

above, pale below ; feet brown. 
Note : " Hick up ! Hick up ! " 
Season : Summer resident, May to September. 
Breeds : From Florida to southern Connecticut and Manitoba. 
Nest : Shallow and loosely built, near the end of a slim horizontal 

branch ; made of grass, blossoms, and bark. 
Eggs : Cream white, wreathed at the larger end. 
Mange : Eastern United States, chiefly southward ; west to the Plains, 

south to Cuba and Costa Rica. 

This little Flycatcher has a southerly range, only com- 
ing over the New England border in summer; there are 
but two breeding-records of it in Connecticut, one being 
Greenwich, Conn., where a nest and young were found in 
June, 1893. It is a common resident along the Hudson as 
far north as Sing Sing, and Dr. Warren found it breeding 
freely about West Chester, Penn., where he says the majority 

188 




I 

C <=^ 






SONGLESS BIRDS. Flycatchera 

of nests were made entirely of blossoms, being rarely more 
than eight or ten feet from the ground, and so open at the 
bottom that the eggs could be seen from underneath. He 
also says that it is a common resident of Pennsylvania from 
May until late September, at which season it ekes out its 
insect diet with berries. 

Its nest is variously described as " a light hammock swung 
between forks," and " a tuft of hay caught by the limb from 
a load driven under it." 



Least Flycatcher : Empidonax minimus* 

Length : 5-5.50 inches. 

Male and Female : Olive-gray, brightest on the head, paler on wings 

and rump. Whitish eye ring, and wing-bars. Breast whitish, 

growing more yellow toward vent. Bill dusky. Feet black. 
Note: "Che-becl Chebec ! " (Coues.) 
Season : Common summer resident ; May to late September. 
Breeds : From Pennsylvania northward. 
Nest : In upright crotch of tree or bush, substantial and well cupped. 

Materials varying with the location, plant fibres and weeds, 

lined with down and sometimes horsehair. 
Sggs : Usually unmarked, occasionally faintly spotted. 
Bange : Eastern North America, south in winter to Central America. 

The least of his tribe, the mite, whose olive poll is seen 
in great numbers darting about the orchard in May and 
again in late September when the decaying fruit attracts 
numerous insects. He is abundant, useful, and sociable, 
though neither possessing gay feathers nor a single musical 
note, yet he fills his own corner, doing his part in helping 
man to keep the upper hand over the insect world. These 
Flycatchers are solicitous parents and, as a rule, show great 
affection for their young, becoming almost frantic if the 
nest is approached. 



189 



Whip-poor-will SONGLESS BIRDS. 



ORDER MACROCHIRES: SWIFTS, WHIP- 
POOR-WILLS, ETC. 

FAMILY CAPRIMULGID^ : GOATSUCKERS. 
Whip-poor-will; Antrostomus vociferus, 

Plate 43. 

Length : 9-10 inches. 

Male and Female: A long- winged bird of the twilight and night. 
Large mouth fringed with bristles. Plumage dusky and Owl- 
like, much spotted with black and gray. Wings beautifully 
mottled with shades of brown; lower half of the outer tail 
quills white in the male, but rusty in female. 

Note : " Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will ; " repeated usually five times 
in succession, followed by a jarring noise during flight. 

Season : Late April to September. Common summer resident, except 
near the shore. 

Breeds : In all parts of its range, but most freely toward the northern 
portions. 

Nest : Builds none, but substitutes a mossy hollow in rock or ground. 

Uggs : 2, creamy-white, freely marked, and spotted with brown. 

Range : Eastern United States to the Plains, south to Guatemala. 

TMs weird bird, with its bristling, fly-trap mouth, who 
sleeps all day and prowls by night, comes to us late in April, 
if the season is warm, clamouring and waking strange echoes 
in the bare woods, and in early September, mute and mys- 
terious, he gathers his flocks and moves silently on, for the 
Whip-poor-will has not at any time even a transient home 
to abandon ; like the pilgrims of old, the earth is his only 
bed. 

This bird is somewhat erratic in its local distribution. 
It is noted here as a common summer resident, yet is sel- 
dom heard within two miles of the beach, except in the 
spring migration, and I have never but once found it in 
the garden. After crossing the Greenfield Hill Ridge, the 
numbers increase, and in the wooded hollow below Redding 
Ridge they are so numerous as to make the early night 
noisy. 

190 




to 



SONGLESS BIRDS. Nighthawk 

Many people are familiar with, the cry who have never 
seen the bird itself; for Nature has taken great pains to 
blend the colours of its plumage with the browns and grays 
of the bark and rocks of the forest, and has given it the 
unusual habit of sitting lengthwise on the branch when it 
perches, so that it is invisible from below, and so closely 
resembles the branch against which it is so flattened as to 
escape notice. 

The Whip-poor-will prefers the forest solitude, but in his 
nocturnal flights he often comes near houses, and sometimes 
calls close to a window with startling vehemence. 

The breeding-habits of this strange bird are not the least 
of its peculiarities ; when the ground-laid eggs are hatched, 
they are beset by many dangers from weasels, snakes, etc., 
but the young birds are almost invisible to the human eye, 
even if their location is known. The female is very adroit, 
and if she thinks her family has been discovered she will 
move them to another place, carrying them in her mouth as 
a cat does kittens. In fact, the Whip-poor-will is well pro- 
tected both by nature and superstition ; the farmer knows its 
value as an insect-destroyer, and the idle mischief-loving 
class, who kill birds from pure wantonness, give it a wide 
berth, as being the possessor of some occult power, akin to 
the " evil eye," and associate its sudden cry with death or 
calamity. 

Nighthawk: Chordeiles virginianus, 

Night-jar. 

Plate 44. 

Length : 9-10 inches. 

Male : Mottled black and rusty above, the breast finely barred, with 

a V-shaped white spot on throat. Wings brown and large, white 

spot extending entirely through them, being conspicuous inflight; 

white bar on tail. In the female, the white markings are either 

veiled with rusty or absent. 
Note : A skirling sound while on the wing, — '' Skirk — S-k-i-rk ! " 
Season : May to October ; common summer resident. 
Breeds : Gulf States to Labrador. 

191 



Nlghthawk SONGLESS BIRDS. 

Nest : A ground hollow like the last species. 
Uggs : 2, of variable shades of gray latticed with olive. 
Mange: Northern and eastern North America, east of the Great 
Plains. 

Another bird of tlie twilight, feeding bat-like upon the 
insects obtained in the air. It is most conspicuous in the 
late afternoon, though it flies also by day, and may be 
distinguished from the Whip-poor-will, which it closely 
resembles, by the large ichite wing spots. After dark its 
cry will easily identify the Nighthawk, for, instead of the 
distinct syllables of the Whip-poor-will, it gives a peculiar 
harsh whistling note, while on the wing, which is followed 
every few minutes by a vibrating sound, as if a fully charged 
telegraph wire was struck with a bit of metal ; or, as Nuttall 
describes it, "a hollow whirr, like the rapid turning of a 
spinning wheel, or a strong blowing into the bung-hole of an 
empty hogshead, which is supposed to be produced by the 
action of air in the open mouth of the bird." In the latter 
conjecture he was wrong, as the jarring sound, which gave 
the bird the name of Night-jar, is now conceded to come 
from its habit of dropping suddenly through the air, thus 
making a sort of stringed instrument of its pinions. 

The Nighthawk has the Whip-poor-will's habit of laying 
its eggs on a bare surface, only it chooses open fields and 
waste pastures, or even flat roofs of city houses, instead of 
the woods. The term Hawk, as applied to it, is an entire 
misnomer; it is in no sense a bird of prey, and subsists 
entirely on insects, and the stories told of its chicken-killing 
propensities are w^holly unfounded. In early autumn, prior 
to the migration, the Nighthawks gather in enormous flocks 
and fly about the entire afternoon, when they may be 
distinctly seen. 



192 



PLATE 45. 




(/ 



wm 




CHIMNEY SWIFT. 

Length, 5.25 inches. 



SONGLESS BIRDS. Chimney Swift 

FAMILY MICROPODID^: SWIFTS. 
Chimney Swift : Chwtura pelagica. 

Chimney Swallow, 

Plate 45. 
Length .• 5.25 inches. 
Male and Female : A deep, sooty brown. Wings longer than the tail, 

which is nearly even, the shafts of the quills ending in sharp 

spines. 
Note : A loud, Swallow-like twitter. 
Season : Late April to September and October ; a common summer 

resident. 
Breeds : From Florida to Labrador. 
Nest : A loose, twig lattice glued by the bird's saliva, or sometimes 

tree-gum, to the inside of chimneys ; or in wild regions to the 

inner walls of hollow trees. 
Eggs : 4-5, pure white, and long for their width. 
Mange: Eastern North America, north to Labrador and the Fur 

Countries, west to the Plains, and passing south of the United 

States in winter. 

This bird, popularly known as the CMmney Swallow, but 
which, is more closely related to the Nighthawk, may be 
easily distinguished from the Swallows when flying, by its 
short, blunt tail. You will never see it perching as Swallows 
do ; for, except when it is at rest in its chimney home, it is 
constantly on the wing, either darting through the air, drop- 
ping surely to its nest, or speeding from it like a rocket. 
The Chimney Swift secures its food wholly when flying, and 
is more active at night than in the day. In the breeding- 
season its busiest time is that preceding dawn, and it then 
works without cessation for many hours. The whirling of 
the wings as the bird leaves the chimney makes a noise like 
distant thunder, and if there is quite a colony the inhabi- 
tants of the house may be seriously disturbed, and the pres- 
ence of the nests often introduces bedbugs, as they are to 
a certain extent parasites of these birds. This makes him 
an undesirable tenant, and in modern houses, where the flues 
are narrow and easily clogged, wire is stretched over the 
chimney mouth to keep him out. 
o 193 



Hummingbird SONGLESS BIRDS. 

Nothing, however, is more picturesque than these Swifts 
as they circle above the wide stone chimney of some haK- 
ruined house, where the garden is overgrown by old lilacs^ 
and great banks of the fragrant bushes hide the crumbling 
walls. I know of such a place, only a few miles away, 
where the Swifts curve and eddy above the huge chimney, 
bent with the weight of years, in such perfect accord and 
rhythm, now wholly disappearing within, now curling forth 
in a cloud, that it is easy to imagine the fire burns again 
upon the hearth and that the birds are but the columns 
of hospitable smoke. 

In wild districts the Swift retains the habit of nesting in 
hollow trees, the custom it must have followed until com- 
paratively recent times in this country, as the Indians never 
possessed even the ghost of a chimney. These trees are 
used after the breeding-season as roosts, and there is evi- 
dence that the birds may sometimes winter in them in a 
state of hibernation. In building its nest the Swift snaps 
little twigs from the trees, and in fixing them in place 
braces itself in the chimney by means of its claws and the 
sharp spines in which its tail feathers terminate. Its size is 
nearly the same as the Bank Swallow and the two flock 
prior to the autumn migration at about the same time, the 
Chimney Swift being the last to leave. 

FAMILY TROCHILID^: HUMMmGBIKDS. 
Ruby-throated Hummingbird: Trochilus colubris, 

Plate 2. 

Length : 3.75 inches. 

Male: Above metallic green; belly white. Wings and tail ruddy 
black, the latter deeply forked. Glistening ruby-red gorget. 

Female : Colours less iridescent ; gorget lacking, tail with rounded 
points. 

Note : A shrill, mouse-like squeak. 

Season : Common summer resident ; May to October. 

Breeds : From Florida to Labrador. 

Nest : A dainty circle an inch and a half in diameter, made of fern- 
wool, plant-down, etc., shingled with lichens to match the 
colour of the branch on which it is saddled. 
194 



PLATE 46. 




DOWNY woodpp:cker. 

Length, 6-7 inches. 



SONGLESS BIRDS. Hummingbird 

Eggs : 2, pure white, the size of soup-beans. 

Bange: Eastern North America to the Plains, north to the Fur 
Countries, and south, in winter, to Cuba and Veragua. 

This is the only native Hummingbird of eastern North 
America, and it is impossible to confuse it with any other 
bird in its range. 

When the late tulips and narcissi are blooming in the 
garden, and you hear a tense humming near them, varied 
by an occasional squeak, you know, without looking, that 
the Hummingbirds have come. All through late May they 
dart here and there, now among the flowers, and then disap- 
pearing high up in the trees, searching for both honey and 
aphides with their proboscis-like tongues, while their move- 
ments exceed in dash and rapidity even the Swallows and 
Swifts. They seem merely to will to be in a certain spot, 
and they are there without effort. 

With June they settle in or near the garden, where 
the roses and honeysuckle supply them with nectar and 
ambrosia, and this is the season to study them. Late after- 
noon, between six and seven o'clock, is the best hour, for 
they are taking their supper, and the sun being low behind 
the trellis its rays shoot sidewise and bring out all the 
metallic splendour of their plumage. The adult birds seldom 
perch, but, drawing up their tiny claws, pause in front of 
the chosen flower, apparently motionless. But the hum 
of the wings tells the secret of the poise. 

The parents jam their bills far down into the little gap- 
ing mouths, placing the food in the throat itself, — an 
effective but barbarous looking operation. 

The nest is worthy of the bird, but is rare in comparison 
with the number of birds that are seen every year. There 
are two reasons for this; it blends so perfectly with the 
supporting branch as to be invisible when the leaves are on 
the trees, and owing to its spongy composition, it seldom 
retains its shape for any length of time. 

Various nesting-sites are chosen, and in the garden I have 
found them, in different seasons, on a horizontal cedar bough, 
a slanting beech branch, a sweeping elm branch over th^ 

196 



Woodpeckers SONGLESS BIRDS. 

road, and one, which I discovered from a tower window, on 
the topmost branch of a spruce some sixty feet from the 
ground. In this last case the nest was covered with small 
flakes of spruce bark, instead of the usual lichens. 

After the nesting the males make themselves exceedingly- 
scarce, while the females and young haunt the garden, 
feeding in flocks, the young being distinguishable by their 
dulness of plumage and the fact that they perch frequently. 
All through August and early September, before cooling 
nights warn them away, they dart through the mellow haze 
claiming the last Jacque roses and the blossoms that con- 
tinue to wreathe the honeysuckle, only leaving them when 
the twilight chill stiffens their feathered mechanism. 

When the mild gold stars flower out, 

As the summer gloaming goes, 
A dim shape quivers about 

Some sweet rich heart of a rose. 

******* 

Then you, by thoughts of it stirred, 

Still dreamily question them : 
*' Is it a gem, half bird, 

Or is it a bird, half gem ? " — Edgar Fawcett. 



ORDER PICI: WOODPECKERS, ETC, 

FAMILY PICIDiE: WOODPECKERS. 
Hairy Woodpecker : Dry abates villosus* 



Length : 9-10 inches. 

Male and Female / Above black and white, white stripe on middle of 
back, red stripe on head. Wings spotted and striped with 
black and white, four outer tail feathers white. Under parts 
grayish white. Bill blunt, stout, and straight, nearly as long as 
head. Female lacks red spot on head. 

Note : A short, tapping sound. 

Season : Resident ; shifting about in light woods. 

Breeds : Through range. 

Nest : In holes in trees at moderate height. 

196 



PLATE 47. 




YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER. 

Length, 8.25-8.75 inches. 



SONGLESS BIRDS. Woodpeckers 

Eggs: 6, clear white, but, according to Samuels, owing to their 
transparency, they have a pink tint before they are blown. 

Bange: Middle portion of the eastern United States from the Atlan* 
tic coast to the Great Plains. 

The Hairy Woodpecker is a common bird in wooded 
regions, especially where partly decayed trees have been 
left standing. Its creeping motion when scanning tree 
trunks for insects resembles that of the Black-and-white 
Warbler. Though it is abundant, it is shy in the breeding- 
season and keeps to secluded woodlands, but in the fall and 
winter comes freely to orchards and about houses. It has 
an affection for particular trees and often uses the same 
tree, if not perhaps the same hole, for several successive 
seasons. 

Eight years ago I noticed this species in May in Samp- 
Mortar woods, a wild, rocky place, covered with laurel and 
abounding in the rarer ferns. From the crest of Mortar 
Kock I could look into the top of a tall hickory, in which a 
Hairy Woodpecker was boring. A few years later, at the 
same season, I found a similar bird nesting in the same 
tree and there were three holes visible in the trunk. This 
year I went to the place early in June. The tree was 
entirely dead and branchless from winter storms, the top 
had crumbled away so that light came through the upper 
holes, there were five apertures in all, and from the lowest 
of these flew a Hairy Woodpecker, and when I beat on the 
tree with a stick the clamouring inside told that the young 
were hatched. 

On seeing me the bird went into one of the empty holes 
and then flew to a little distance and, joined by the male, 
refused to go near the nest while I remained. The tree was 
so shaky that it swayed with every breeze, and it is the last 
year that it will shelter its black-and-white tenants. The 
red head band is not very conspicuous in this Woodpecker 
unless you look at it from above or catch a glimpse of it 
when the bird is going up the tree trunk. 



197 



Woodpeckers SONGLESS BIRDS. 

Downy Woodpecker : Blcus puhescena. 

Plate 46. 

Length : 6-7 inches, the smallest of our Woodpeckers. 

Male and Female : Closely resembling the last species. Wings and 

tail barred with white ; the narrow, red head band of the male 

is replaced by a white stripe in the female. 
Note : A short, sharp note and a rattling cry, which starts and ends 

in an abrupt precision, suggestive of a mechanical contrivance 

set off with a spring. This it uses in lieu of a song. (Bicknell.) 
Season : An abundant resident. 
Breeds : Through range. 

Nest : In tree hole, varying from low apple to high forest trees. 
Eggs : Similar to those of last species, but smaller. 
Bange : Northern and eastern North America, from British Columbia 

and the eastern edge of the Plains northward and eastward. 

The Downy WoodpeckePj the persistent apple-tree borer, 
is a miniature reproduction of the Hairy Woodpecker, except 
that its tail is barred with black and white. This is the 
little bird that ornaments the fruit trees with symmetrical 
rows of holes, such as would be made by small shot. He 
does not, however, drain the vitality of the tree, as many 
suppose, by taking the sap, but merely bores for insects 
that lie between the bark and the tissue. In fact, the opera- 
tion seems to be beneficial, perhaps acts as a system of 
ventilation, for I have seen some very fine old trees where 
the holes were so numerous as to form strange hiero- 
glyphics upon every limb. This Woodpecker is much more 
sociable than his big brother, and is present, about the 
orchards and gardens, the entire year. 

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker: Sphyrapicus varius, 

Plate 47. 
Length: 8.25-8.75 inches. 

Male : Above black, white, and yellowish ; below greenish yellow. 
Tail black, white on middle feathers, white edge to wing 
coverts. Crown, chin, and throat bright red. Bill about as 
long as head, more pointed and slender than in last species. 
Female: Throat and head whitish. 

198 



PLATE 48. 




RED-HEADED WOODPECKER. 

Length, 8.50-9.50 inches. 



SONGLESS BIRDS. Woodpeckers 

Note : A rapid drumming with the bill on the tree branch or trunk 

serves for a love-song, and it has a screaming call note. 
Season : In migrations ; more abundant in fall than in spring. 
Breeds : North from Massachusetts. 

Nest : In an unlined hole, which is often 18 or 20 inches deep. 
Eggs: 5, pure white. 

The Sapsucker is a superbly marked Woodpecker, but its 
beauty is neutralized by its pernicious habit of boring holes 
in the tree bark through which it siphons the sap or eats 
the soft, inner bark. 

In some localities they will destroy large tracts of fruit 
trees by stripping off the entire outer bark. Here, in the 
garden, they attacked a large spruce one autumn, and the 
next spring the trunk was white with the sap that leaked 
from the hundreds of " taps," and the tree has never since 
recovered its vitality. 

Where these birds are plentiful, many orchard owners 
cover the tree trunks with fine wire netting, and it would 
almost seem that the destruction of this species is justi- 
fiable, but care should be taken not to confuse the other 
innocent Woodpeckers with this red-crowned, red-throated 
evil-doer. Only having seen the bird in its migrations, I 
have never heard the wonderfully rapid drumming to which 
Mr. Bicknell refers, and which he says does not occur until 
the birds mate and is never heard in the autumn. This 
tattoo, beat upon a tree with the beak, is, in fact, the love 
note of the majority of Woodpeckers. 

Red-headed Woodpecker : Melanerpes erthrocephalus. 

Tricolour. 

Plate 48. 
Length : 8.50-9.50 inches. 

Male and Female : Head, throat, and neck crimson. Back, wings, 
and tail blue-black. White below. White band on wings, and 
white rump. Bill horn-coloured, and about as long as head. 
Note : A guttural rattle, similar to the cry of the tree-toad. In April 
a hoarse, hollow-sounding cry. (Bicknell.) 
199 



"Woodpeckera SONGLESS BIRDS. 

Season : A casual resident, and an abundant but irregular migrant, 
especially in the fall. 

Breeds : From Florida to northern New York and Manitoba. 

Nest : Usually a hole near the top of a blasted tree in mixed woods. 

Eggs : Glassy white. 

Bange : United States west to the Kocky Mountains, straggling west- 
ward to Salt Lake Valley ; rare or local east of the Hudson 
River. 

TMs Woodpecker was once a regular summer resident 
here, but has decreased greatly in numbers and has almost 
come to be considered as a migrant only, and even then 
it will be fairly abundant in one season and absent the next. 
He is an unmistakable bird, when you are lucky enough to 
see him, for he boldly wears the German flag in his red, 
white, and black feathers, and you will recognize him at a 
glance. His increasing rarity is the usual penalty paid by 
highly coloured birds to thoughtless gunners, and he is a very 
easy mark when he is feeding flat against a tree trunk. 



Flicker: Colaptes auratus, 

Goldenrwinged Woodpecker; Tellowhammer, Highhole, Clape, 

Plate 49, 

Length : 12-13 inches. 

Male : Above golden brown, barred with black. Black crescent on 
breast, red band on back of head. Round black spots on the 
belly, black cheek patch. Wing linings and shafts of wing and 
tail quills gamboge-yellow. Bump white. Bill slender, curv- 
ing, and pointed, and dark lead-colour ; feet lead-colour. 

Female : Lacks black cheek patches. 

Note: *' Wick-wick-wick- wick!" Also a few guttural notes. "A 
prolonged, jovial laugh." (Audubon.) 

Season : Resident, but most plentiful from April to October. 

Breeds : Through its range. 

Nest : In partly decayed trees in orchard, garden, or wood. 

Uggs : Usually 6, white. 

Bange: Northern and eastern North America, west to the eastern 
slope of the Rocky Mountains and Alaska. Occasional on the 
Pacific slope from California northward. Accidental in Europe. 
200 . 



PLATE 49. 




FLICKER. 

Length, 12-13 inches. 



SONGLESS BIRDS. Woodpeckers 

This, tlie largest as well as most abundant of our common 
Woodpeckers, can be easily identified, when at rest, by the 
black throat crescent and red head patch, and when flying 
by the white rump and golden wing linings. The Golden- 
winged is a Woodpecker of many aliases, among which 
Pigeon-woodpecker, Yucker, and Yellowhammer are locally 
familiar. Individuals remain all the year, and frequent 
orchards and wooded gardens more than deep woodlands; 
they walk about on the ground in search of food in the man- 
ner of Pigeons, and are in this respect quite independent of 
trees. 

The Flicker is a genial, sociable bird, and its hammering 
is one of the first bird sounds of early spring that comes 
from the orchard. In April or May it looks for a suitable 
bree to bore, or else clears out a last year's hole. The birds 
are very wary when the excavation is under way, and, 
instead of dropping the chips by the tree where they are 
working, carry them to some distance. There is a singu- 
lar physiological fact connected with the laying powers 
of this Woodpecker. Six is the usual setting of eggs, but if 
the eggs are removed from the nest as soon as laid the female 
continues laying uninterruptedly, and according to Dr. Coues 
eighteen to twenty-three eggs have been taken from one 
nest. 

When the young are hatched the parents redouble their 
attention, and resent any approach to the hole. They feed 
their young by the process known as regurgitation, conveying 
the partly softened food from their own crops to those of the 
young by w?i-swallowing it and placing their slender beaks in 
the mouths of the nestlings. A tap on the tree at this time 
will set the youngsters clamouring and the old birds fly out 
in alarm. On leaving the hole the young are at first very 
awkward and are unable to fly but a few feet from the 
ground, and are easily caught in the hand; nor do they 
seem to develop strength of wing for several days. 

In autumn both old and young gather in considerable 
numbers in the pastures and feed upon the ground, looking 
in the distance like Meadowlarks. 

201 



CuckooB SONGLESS BIRDS. 



ORDER COCCYGES: CUCKOOS, KING- 
FISHERS, ETC. 

FAMILY CUCULIDtE: CUCKOOS. 
Yellow-billed Cuckoo: Coccyzus americanus. 

Plate 60. 

Length : 11-12 inches. 

Male and Female : Powerful beak, about as long as head ; lower 
mandible yellow ; above olive with gray and metallic tints ; 
two middle tail feathers olive ; outer quills black, with white 
spots ; wings washed with bright cinnamon ; under parts gray- 
ish white. 

Note : " Kuk-kuk-kuk ! " a harsh, grating sound. 

Season : Late April to September. 

Breeds : From Florida to New Brunswick. 

Nest : Rudimentary ; only a few sticks laid in a bush or on a forked 
bough. 

Eggs : 4-8, pale green, sometimes little more than a greenish white. 

Mange: Temperate North America, from New Brunswick, Canada, 
Minnesota, Nevada, and Oregon south to Costa Rica and the 
West Indies. Less common from the eastern border of the 
Plains westward. 

Of similar general appearance to the next species, this 
Cuckoo may be identified by the following marks: yellow 
bill, bright cinnamon wings, and white S2:)0ts on the long tail 
feathers which are very conspicuous in flight. A few years 
ago the Yellow-billed Cuckoo was not a common bird here ; 
but it seemed to follow the recent epidemic of tent- worms 
into Connecticut, and for the past two seasons has been 
abundant in orchards and gardens containing fruit trees, 
forgetting its shyness, and coming close to dwellings. Its 
hatred of the tent-worm is intense, for it destroys many 
more than it can eat, by tearing the webs apart, and squeez- 
ing the worms in its beak. So thoroughly has it done its 
work, that orchards, which three years ago were almost 
leafless, the trunks even being covered by slippery web- 
bing, are again yielding a good crop. 

202 



PLATE 50. 




yp:ll()W-billed cuckoo. 

Length, 11-12 inches. 



SONGLESS BIRDS. Cuckoos 

Audubon gives this bird a bad character, saying : " It robs 
smaller birds of their eggs, which it sucks upon all occa^ 
sions, and is cowardly without being vigilant. On this ac- 
count, it falls a prey to several species of Hawks, of which 
the Pigeon-hawk may be considered its most dangerous 
enemy," 

Be this as it may, both of our Cuckoos are respectable 
examples to their romantic but misguided European rela- 
tive, for, like it, they lay their eggs at long intervals ; but 
they still manage to scramble a nest together and rear their 
own young, though they have to face the responsibility of 
feeding nestlings, incubating, and laying more eggs, all at 
the same time. So let us forgive the Cuckoo its faults, 
and declare it the patron bird of the orchards and of over- 
crowded nurseries. 



Black-billed Cuckoo: Coccyzus erythrophthalmus* 

Rain Crow. 



Length : 11-12 inches. 

Male and Female : Black bill ; eyelids red. Above, general colouring 
same as last species. White spots on tail, small and incon- 
spicuous. 

Note : " Kow-kow-kow ! kuk-kuk 1 " 

Season : May to late September. 

Breeds : Through North American range. 

Nest : In a bush ; a few sticks, with no edge to confine the eggs. 

Eggs : Hardly distinguishable from the last species. 

Bange : Eastern North America, from Labrador and Manitoba south 
to the West Indies and the valley of the Amazon ; west to the 
Rocky Mountains. Accidental in the British Islands and Italy. 

It seems a slur upon literary tradition to call our birds, 
which bear the name. Cuckoos. We are so used to associate 
the word with the merry wanderer that " sings as it flies " 
of Chaucer and Shakespeare and all the lesser singers since 
their day. And every child, in thinking of a Cuckoo, 
expects to find the twin of the irrepressible little foreigner 

203 



Kingfisher SONGLESS BIRDS. 

who bobs out of tlie clock, and will insist upon calling 
mother's attention to the fact that it is bedtime. 

The Black-billed Cuckoo is locally less common than the 
Yellow-billed, though both species are well represented. It 
is often called the Eain Crow, because of its habit of calling 
loudly in damp or cloudy weather. It haunts streams with 
lightly wooded banks, and sets its rickety nest in a briary 
tangle or thick shrubbery. In spring it associates in the 
orchards with the Yellow-billed, but at other seasons its 
food is quite different, and it lives upon fresh-water mol- 
lusks and the larvse always to be found in numbers near 
ponds. 

FAMILY ALCEDINID^: KINGFISHERS. 
Belted Kingfisher: Ceryle alcyon. 

Plate 51. 

Length: 12-13 inches. 

Male and Female : Long crest. Straight bill, longer than head ; head 

appearing large for size of body. Above lead-blue, somewhat 

variegated with black. Below whitish. Two dull blue bands 

across breast. White transverse bands and spots on the short 

tail. Female has rusty bands across breast. 
Note : A harsh, rattling cry, as familiar along river banks as the Jay's 

scream in the woods. 
/Season : A common summer resident, which might almost be classed 

as a resident, as it comes in March, and in mild seasons often 

winters. 
Breeds : From Florida to Labrador. 

Nest : In hollow trees and in earth burrows ; 6-8 feet deep. 
Eggs : 6-8, crystal white. 
Bange : North America, south to Panama and the West Indies. 

The Kingfisher may be easily named, as he sits on his 
usual perch, a dead stump or limb jutting over the water, 
by his large, long-crested head, which gives his body a bob- 
tailed appearance. Living entirely upon fish, he is driven 
from small streams to the larger rivers by the closing in of 
the ice, but in open winters I have ^seen this bird in every 
month from November to March. 

204 



PLATE 51. 




BELTED KINGFISHER. 

Length, 12-13. inches. 



SONGLESS BIRDS. Kingfisher 

The Kingfisher seizes his prey by diving, and if it is 
small and pliable swallows it at once, but if it consists of the 
larger and more spiney fish they are beaten to pulp against 
a branch before they are swallowed, and even then the 
struggles and contortions the bird goes through before 
finally mastering the fish, would be very ludicrous were 
they not so evidently distressing. 

The term halcyon days (days of fair weather) is derived 
from this bird's Latin name. The Kingfisher was once 
supposed to build his nest on a little raft and float out to 
sea with it, having the power of averting storms during the 
period of incubation. The modern Kingfisher is too wise to 
try any such experiment; he well knows that no one can 
fathom our climate or restrain Apollos from watering at 
unseemly times, so he digs deep into a bank, road cut, or 
quarry and the precious eggs are laid many feet from the 
outer air. 

What a racket the old birds make in the breeding-season ! 
There may be loving, harmonious Kingfisher households, 
but if so these sounds belie them. But who can say how- 
ever ; the seemingly angry shrieks of both parents may be 
" Rock-a-Bye, Baby," arranged by a Kingfisher Wagner as a 
duet! 



205 



BIRDS OF PREY. 



ORDER RAPTORES: BIRDS OF PREY. 

FAMILY STRIGID^ : BARN OWLS. 
American Barn Owl: Strix pratincola* 



Length : 15-17 inches. Female the largest, as is usual with Owls. 

Male and Female : Above tawny yellow, ash, and white, with black 
and white spots ; below whitish specked with dark. Dark bars 
on tail and wing. Legs long and feathered. Face disks heart' 
shaped, eyes small and bluish black, bill light ; no horns. 

Note : A quavering cry, — " Kr-r-r-r-r-r-ik ! " 

Season : Rare resident ; has been taken at Stratford, Hartford, Madi- 
son, and Sachem's Head, Conn. 

Breeds : Through its range, in late February and March. 

Nest : In wild regions in tree trunks, but when near villages in bams, 
towers, and belfries. 

Eggs : 3-6, dirty white. 

Hange: Warmer parts of North America, from the Middle States, 
Ohio Valley, and California southward through Mexico. 

The Barn Owl, having a rather southerly range, is one of 
the rarest Owls to be found in New England, its records 
are limited to Connecticut and Massachusetts and there 
is a recent one for Vermont. In New York State and Penn- 
sylvania it is more common, and breeds in the southern 
portion of these states. Its appearance is so unique that it 
is sure to attract attention, and it is not amiss to mention 
it in connection with our common resident Owls. The face 
looks like that of a toothless, hooked-nosed old woman, 
shrouded in a closely fitting hood, and has a half-simple, 

206 



PLATE 52. 




AMERICAN LONG-EARED OWL. 

Length, 14-16 inches. 



BIRDS OF PREY. Owli 

half-sly expression, that gives a mysterious air. This spe- 
cies has the same characteristics as the European Barn 
Owl, which is pointed out as a bird of ill omen, having the 
uncanny voice that calls from ivied turrets and a grinning, 
witch-like face. 

In fact, it is a harmless bird, feeding on mice, moles, large 
beetles, etc. ; it is the Monkey-faced Owl of newspaper 
natural history. 

FAMILY BUBONIDJE: HORNED OWLS. 
American Long-eared Owl: Asia wiUonianus* 

Cat Owl 

Plate 52. 

Length : 14-16 inches. 

Male and Female: Above finely mottled with brown, ash, and dark 
orange. Long, erect ear tufts. Complete facial disk, reddish 
brown with darker inner circle ; dark brown broken bands on 
wings and tail. Legs and feet completely feathered. Breast 
pale orange with long brown stripes. Bill and claws blackish. 

Note : A variety of hoot, also a moaning mew. 

Season: Kesident. 

Breeds : In early spring, throughout range. 

Nest : A rude structure which may be built either on the abandoned 
nests of Hawks, Crows, or Herons, on the ground, or in hollow 
stumps. 

Eggs : 4-6, the usual soiled white. 

Bange : Temperate North America. 

The Long-eared Owl, or Cat Owl (so called from its mew- 
ing cry and round face), has conspicuous ear tufts, as long, 
for the size of the bird, as those of the Great Horned Owl. 
These Owls frequent the same lowlands as the Short-eared 
species ; they are very abundant in early winter, both along 
the marsh borders and in the woods by the river. Dur- 
ing December, 1889, they were so common that several were 
killed by boys with stones, and I have frequently seen 
them among the evergreens in the garden. This species 
has a very bright, saucy expression and looks at you as if 

207. 



owIb birds of prey. 

it was meditating a practical joke of a particularly aggra- 
vating nature. From an agricultural standpoint it is a 
beneficial Owl, feeding chiefly upon mice and other small 
mammals, beetles, etc., only occasionally eating small birds. 



Short-eared Owl: Asia accipitrinus. 

Length: 13.75-17 inches. 

Male and Female : Inconspicuous ear tufts, facial disk with a dark 
ring enclosed in a lighter one. Plumage varied from bright 
orange to bufEy white, with bold stripes of dark brown, darker 
above and more mottled below, growing whiter toward vent. 
Legs feathered with plain buff. Bill and claws dusky blue- 
black. 

Note : A quaver. 

Season : Summer resident remaining until late fall. 

Breeds : Through its range. 

Nest : Of hay and sticks ; commonly on the ground in a little hollow 
or clump of bushes. 

Fggs : 4-7, dirty white. 

Bange : Throughout North America, nearly cosmopolitan. 



A very useful Owl, feeding on small mammals, reptiles, 
etc. ; seen here in considerable numbers in the marsh meadows 
in the fall and early winter, possibly being resident. It is 
a day oivl, and can be seen even in sunny weather, prowling 
about in the long, withered marsh-grass. 

Mr. L. M. Turner, the Arctic explorer, says that among the 
natives of the Yukon district (Alaska) the dried liver of 
this owl, ground to a powder and administered in food, is 
used as a love philter. 

Nuttall describes the Short-eared Owl as being so fierce 
that it will sometimes attack men seated by midnight camp- 
fires. This seems very dubious, as even the powerful Great 
Horned Owl rarely attacks man, unless he is cornered or 
attacked first. It is more probable that at some time the 
Owl, bewildered by smoke and flames, unwittingly flopped 
into an encampment, and, when seized, fought for liberty. 

208 



BIRDS OF PREY. Owla 

Barred Owl : Syrnium nebulosum. 

Length : 18-20 inches. 

Male and Female : Eyes blue-black, instead of the usual yellow iris. 

No ear tufts. Plumage mottled dark brown, rusty, and grayish. 

Striped on breast with dark brown. Face feathers white tipped. 

Wings and tail barred with brown. Legs and dark feet fully 

feathered and faintly barred. Bill ivory-coloured. 
Note : A loud, guttural call. " Koh ! Koh I Ko, Ko, ho ! " or " Whah, 

whah, whah, whah-aa ! " (Nuttall.) 
Season: Resident. 
Breeds : Through range. 

Nest : In hollow tree or in crotch at some height from the ground. 
Eggs : 4-6, laid in February, March, and April. 
Bange: Eastern United States west to Minnesota and Texas, north 

to Nova Scotia and Quebec. 

The smooth-faced, twilight Owl of open woods, sheltered 
farms, and waysides. Its hooting cry is hardly to be dis- 
tinguished from that of the Great Horned Owl, but it has 
several mocking and quavering notes peculiar to itself. 

Its eyes are unlike those of any of the other Owls of its 
family and will always identify it ; their deep blue colour 
gives it a very mild expression which is at variance with its 
ferocity in pouncing upon game-birds and smaller Owls, 
being in this respect, according to a recent government 
report,^ quite a cannibal. The same report says that, 
though it does make inroads into poultry yards, the result 
of careful inquiry proves that the greater portion of its 
food consists of small mammals that are the bane of agri- 
culture. 

It frequently lodges in barns and hayloft^ during the day, 
and all about this region it is called the Barn Owl. And it 
really is the Barn Owl of this locality, for the true Barn 
Owl is practically unkno\\^l to the farming population ; and 
when stuffed specimens are occasionally seen, having been 

1 "The Hawks and Owls of the United States in their Relation to Agri- 
culture," prepared under the direction of Dr. C. Hart Merriam, Orni- 
thologist, by A. K. Fisher, M.D., Washington, 1893. 
P . 209 



Owl« BIRDS OF PREY. 

sent as curiosities from some other place, they are invariably 
known as Witch Owls. 

The Barred Owl is a noisy species and announces his 
presence in no gentle way. It is supposed to be shy and 
to love deep woods, but last fall a pair lived for a month or 
more in the garden evergreens, appearing towards evening 
and being especially active in the late dawns. I have a 
very perfect specimen of a female shot in the winter of 
1893, near the barn where it was perching in an elm, at four 
o'clock in the afternoon, after having artfully harried a flock 
of tame Juncos; but now that their usefulness has been 
made plain, we no longer shoot Owls indiscriminately. 

Saw- whet Owl: Nyctala acadica* 

Acadian Owl. 

Length : 7.50-8 inches. Smallest Owl of eastern United States. 
Male and Female : No ear tufts. Above brown, spotted more or less 

with lighter brown and white. Striped beneath with rusty 

brown. Legs feathered, buffy white. Bill black, claws dark. 
Note : A rasping cry resembling the filing of a saw (hence the name 

Saw-whet) and a clicking noise like " Tlee-Klee, Tlee-Klee !'* 
Season: A whiter resident, locally common in the Eastern and 

Middle States. Rare here. 
Breeds : From Massachusetts and New York northward. 
Nest : In old stumps. 
Uggs : 3-6, white and nearly round. 
Bange : North America at large, breeding from the Northern States 

northward. 

The Saw-whet is a night Owl and spends most of the 
daylight hours- in sleepy seclusion. This, together with its 
small size, makes it pass as rare in places where it is really 
a winter resident. 

There are many stories told of the soundness with which 
it sleeps, Mr. Eidgway citing a case where one was caught 
by putting a hat over it as it slept, perched on the edge of a 
Kobin's nest in a dense willow thicket. It is a sociable 
little Owl, of a cheerful disposition, and is easily tamed, 
and though it cannot, owing to small size^ prey upon many 

210 



PLATE 53. 




SCREECH OWL. 

(Gray phase.) 

Length, 8-10 i"o,hes. 



BIRDS OF PREY. Owls 

of the stronger mammals, it does good service in killing 
field-mice, beetles, etc., and only seems to eat birds in times 
of famine. 

I have never seen but one Saw-whet in this neighbour- 
hood, though I have heard their cry many times. This 
one was found dead after a severe autumn storm in a 
beech wood; its wings were broken, and it had evidently 
died from starvation. This poor little Owl is destroyed 
in great numbers for decorative purposes, and is thus famil- 
iar to many people who have never seen it alive. It is 
the bird that sits in a pensive attitude on a gilt crescent 
moon, in the taxidermist's window, or yields its pretty 
head to do duty as a rosette on my lady's hat. 

Screech Owl: Megascops asio. 

Little Horned Owl. 

Plate 53. 

Length : 8-10 inches. 

Male and Female: Conspicuous ear tufts. Bill light horn colour. 

Two distinct phases of plumage belong to this species, having. 

as Dr. Fisher says, "no relation to sex, age, or season." In 

one state the Owl is mottled grayish and black, and the other 

rust- red. Feet covered with short feathers ; claws dark. 
Note: A hissing alarm note, — "Shay-shay-shay!" and a moaning, 

quavering wail, which is not loud, but penetrating. 
Season : Common resident. 

Breeds : Through range ; in April and early May. 
Nest : In hollow trees ; sometimes in orchards, near dwellings, and on 

wood borders. 
Eggs : 4-6, almost spherical. 
Bange : Temperate eastern North America, south to Georgia, and 

west to the Plains. Accidental in England. 

It would be difficult to identify the Screech Owl by a de- 
scription of its colour alone, for it goes through many 
different colour changes without regular rotation, passing 
from shades of wood-brown, hazel, tawny, rust-red, to gray 
and almost black, and vice versa. Plate IX., Figs. 7 and 8 
show its most conspicuous conditions, and all the novice can 

211 



Owls BIRDS OF PREY. 

do is to remember its length, and that, of our two small 
Owls, the one having horns is the Screech Owl. 

They are bright, handsome birds, no matter what plumage 
they wear, and inveterate mousers, who should receive every 
encouragement and protection. They eat a few Song-birds, 
but have also a fondness for English Sparrows, which wipes 
out their small sins. Mr. George C. Jones, writing from 
Brookfield Centre, Fairfield County, Conn., says: "I think 
the smaller species of Owls feed upon the cutworm to some 
extent. I have found cutworms in the stomach of the com- 
mon Screech Owl and in the Long-eared Owl. The fact that 
both the cutworms and the Owls are nocturnal leads me to 
believe that the Owls, of all the birds, are the most eflB.cient 
exterminators of this formidable pest and should on this 
account receive protection." Let flower lovers protect the 
Owls by all means then, if in return they will keep the sly 
cutworm from the young carnations and heliotropes. 

Great Horned Owl: Bubo virginianus. 

Hoot Owl. 
Plate 54. 

Length : 19-23 inches ; female, 21-24 inches. 

Male and Female : Large ponderous birds. Long ear tufts, feathers 
mottled irregularly, buff, tawny brown, and whitish. Iris yellow, 
pupil round and large, with great power of contraction. Feet 
and legs feathered. Bill and claws black. 

Note : A wild startling '* Hoo-hoo-oooo ! Waugh-hoo ! " 

Season : Resident. 

Breeds : In February or March, but the young grow slowly, remaining 
ten to twelve weeks in the nest. 

Nest : Seldom in holes at the north, usually a bulky nest on a horizon- 
tal branch, in deep woods. Preferably in evergreens and near 
the top. 

Sggs : Usually 2, dirty white. 

Hange : Eastern North America, west to the Mississippi Valley, and 
from Labrador south to Costa Rica. 

This vigorous and untamable Owl is easily identified 
because of its great size and long ear feathers. The largest 

212 



PLATE 54. 




GREAT HOKNEl) OWL. 

Length, 19-23 inches ; female, 2 inches larger. 



BIRDS OF PREY. Owls 

of our common Owls (the rare Great Gray Owl alone being 
larger), it is a bird of the deep woods, swift in flight and 
ferocious in the extreme, both in seizing large game as 
well as in fighting when disabled. A nocturnal species, it 
can see perfectly in bright sunlight, though it prefers to 
remain secluded. During the nesting-season, if the weather 
is cloudy, it searches for food both day and night. 

It is the most destructive of Owls and of all the birds of 
prey except perhaps the Goshawk and Cooper's Hawk. Dr. 
Merriam, in speaking of its mischief in the farmyard, says, 
"Indeed I have known one to kill and decapitate three 
turkeys and several hens in a single night, leaving the 
bodies uninjured and fit for the table." (In common with 
many other birds of prey, it prefers the brain to any other 
portion of the victim.) This savage Owl also destroys vast 
quantities of large game-birds and may be safely considered 
undesirable from the standpoint of the small farmer, how- 
ever much it may aid the tiller of vast fields by its destruc- 
tion of vermin. 

I have seen the Great Horned Owl sit in the daytime 
with its inner eyelids closed, and then suddenly open 
them, blink once or twice, and fly away, snapping its beak 
angrily. Its hooting cry, uttered in the bare woods in 
early spring, is one of the most weird, uncanny sounds in 
Nature. Icicles often hang from its nest; and ice still locks 
the streams as it sweeps about, suggesting every form of 
dark emotion by its voice, — mocking laughter, despair, and 
a choking rattle, — until you feel that the Wild Huntsman 
may be galloping through the shadows blowing his fatal 
horn. 

Snowy Owl: Nyctea nyctea, 

Arctic Owl. 

Length : 20-24 inches. 

Male and Female : Phimage varying from pure white to white barred 
and spotted with brown and black. No ear tufts. Legs and 
toes thickly feathered. Bill and claws black. Female larger; 
young darker and more spotted. 
213 



Owls BIRDS OF PREY. 

Note : A growl, a bark, and a hoot. 

Season : A winter visitor. 

Breeds : From Labrador northward. 

Nest : On ground, lined with feathers. 

Eggs : 6-10, laid at long intervals, so that when the last one is depos- 
ited the first bird is ready to fly. 

Bange : Northern portions of the Northern Hemisphere ; in winter 
migrating south to the Middle States, straggling to South Caro- 
lina and the Bermudas. 

The Snowy Owl is one of the dramatic figures of the winter 
landscape, and appears like a personification of Boreas him- 
self, coming to superintend the arranging of his snow- 
drapery. This Owl usually precedes or follows a severe 
northeasterly storm, and when the snow has ceased, and 
you go down the lane to the marsh meadows, breaking your 
own path, the Buntings and Shore Larks are already about 
searching for the few spears of seeded grass that are not 
beaten down. 

The incoming tide in the creek breaks the thin ice into 
cakes that lie one over another like transparent shingles on 
the banks ; the flats are hidden by plates of burnished silver, 
and the Gulls hover over the long bar. 

The sunshine seems blown off by the bleak wind. 

As pale as formal candles lit by day : 

Gropes to the sea the river dumb and blind ; 

The brown ricks, snow- thatched by the storm in play, 

Show pearly breakers combing o'er their lee 

White crests as of some just enchanted sea. 

Checked in their maddest leap, and hanging poised midway. 

— Lowell. 

The oak island is edged with silver birches that stretch 
marshward like whitened poles for holding some great nets. 
Low down in one of them sits a motionless white figure. 
Is it a Barred Owl, frozen and snow covered? No! it 
swoops rapidly in a circle, and seizes a hapless Bimting, 
and you expect to see the snow fall in powder from its 
wings, but it returns to its perch white-flaked as before, 
and you know that you are face to face with the Snowy Owl, 

214 



PLATE 55. 




MARSH HAWK. 

Length, 17-19 inches. 



BIRDS OF PREY. Hawks 

— the bird whose ghostly shape furnishes material for super- 
natural tales told by the humble onion-growers whose cabins 
touch the marshes. 

The Snowy Owl is a great mouser and a skilful fisherman, 
only devouring birds casually. 



Marsh Hawk: Circus hudsonius. 

Harrier, Blue Hawk. 
Plate 65. 

Length : 17-19 inches ; female averaging two inches longer. 

Male : Above bluish gray ; below white mottled with brown. Wings 
brownish, long, and pointed ; tail long ; upper tail coverts white. 

Female : Dark reddish brown ; below rusty with spots. Bill hooked 
and black, longer than the Owl's ; feet black. 

Note : All Hawks have a screaming cry, but it is of little aid in iden- 
tifying species. 

Season : A common summer resident ; may winter. 

Breeds : Through range. 

Nest : On the ground, one foot in diameter, of grasses, etc. ; in swampy 
meadows or among rushes in marshes. 

Eggs : 4-5, whitish ; sometimes with irregular blotches of brown and 
gray shell marks. 

Mange : North America in general, south to Panama. 

The Marsh Hawk is the most harmless and beneficial 
of its family ; it feeds upon reptiles, locusts, grasshoppers, 
and small mammals, and never disturbs domestic poultry. 

In this locality it is more plentiful in the bogs near fresh 
ponds, and in the vicinity of rivers, than in the salt-marshes. 

It is the summer-day Hawk, and the species most fre- 
quently seen in the warmest months. It flies by night as 
well as day, however, and is often a companion of the 
Screech Owl in its nocturnal rambles. 

When on the wing the females and young may be distin- 
guished by the warm, rusty colour of their under parts, and 
while at rest by the white upper tail coverts. 

I have seen companies of the females and young every 

215 



Hawks BIRDS OF PREY. 

season in a strip of woods near Ciecos Brook, but the old 
males are very wary, and seem to disappear soon after the 
breeding-season. 

Sharp-shinned Hawk: Accipiter vdox, 

Plate 66. 

Length : 12 inches ; female 14 inches. 

Male and Female: Wings longer than tail. Eyes reddish. Above 
bluish gray, deepest on head. Beneath whitish, barred on the 
sides and breast with rusty and dark brown. Tail even or 
notched. The young are spotted more or less on the back and 
streaked below. Head of this and next species smaller than 
last, while legs and tail are relatively longer. Feet slender. 

Season : A common resident ; coming about farms and even city 
parks in the winter. 

Breeds : Through its range ; in May. 

I^est : Occasionally on a rocky ledge, but usually in some thick ever- 
green at a moderate height from the ground ; a bulky platform 
of sticks with an upper story of bark, leaves, and moss. 

Uggs : 4-5, purplish white, spattered heavily with dark brown; some- 
times the spots form a wreath at the large end. 

Mange : North America in general ; south to Panama. 

This small and very common Hawk is possessed by a 
spirit of dash and daring altogether out of proportion to its 
size. Dr. Abbott, in speaking of the rapidity of its move- 
ments, says: "It is feathered lightning. He ceases to be 
before you realize that he is." 

The Sharp-shinned is one of the most destructive of our 
common Hawks and shares, with the next species, the repu- 
tation of being an inveterate poultry-killer, and it causes 
such sad havoc among Song-birds that a black mark may 
be set against it to denote that it is a worthy target for rifle 
practice. Its dexterity in flying allows it to capture by 
surprise game which larger Hawks secure by weight and 
strength combined. Nuttall tells of a Hawk of this species 
that came day after day to a farmhouse, until before it was 
killed it had destroyed between twenty and thirty young 
chickens. 

216 



PLATE 56. 




SHARF-SHINNED HAAVK. 

Lengtl : Male, 12 inches ; female, 14 inches. 



BIRDS OF PREY. Hawks 

Cooper's Hawk : Accipiter cooperu 

Chicken Hawk. 

Length : 15-16 inches. 

Male and Female : Uniform bluish gray above, top of head blackish ; 
tail crossed by several blackish bands ; below -white, with breast 
and sides barred with dusky or rufous. This species resembles 
the last, but is distinguishable by its greater size and rounded 
tail. Feet rather stout, greenish yellow. 

Season : Common summer resident from March to December ; oc- 
casionally winters. 

Breeds : Through range in April and May. 

Xest : In the tops of trees in thick woods, some authors say in ever- 
greens ; those I have seen have been in hickories. 

Fggs : 3-4, bluish white, either plain or spotted with reddish. 

Bange : North America in general, south to southern Mexico. 

A mischievous harrier of all birds from barnyard fowls to 
Song-birds, doing by craft what it cannot accomplish by 
daring alone. 

A country woman, who is a very successful chicken-raiser, 
tells me that she loses annually more chickens by this 
Hawk than by weasels, rats, or disease, no matter how 
carefully the broods are cooped. The Hawk takes up 
his post on an old stump or tree in an adjoining wood 
lot and gives a peculiar cry, which seems to lead the 
chickens in its direction, and before the mother can give 
a warning cluck one will be borne off. They will seize 
rabbits, squirrels, and Partridges readily, but hesitate to 
tackle a fully grown fowl, unless it is disabled in some way. 

The protective instinct of the mother Hen, when a Hawk 
is in the vicinity, and the unquestioning obedience of the 
brood, is one of the prettiest, though most ordinary, spring 
scenes on the farm. The hen-coops are perhaps barrels, 
laid on their sides with slatted ends, ranged along the road- 
side fence opposite the farmhouse, so that an easy watch 
may be kept upon them. The Hen ventures out, scratching 
and clucking to the chicks as she goes ; they follow, strag- 
gling more or less on private investigations. The sky is 

217 



Hawka BIRDS OF PREY. 

blue and cloudless ; in the distance hovers a bird of some 
sort, but it is a mere speck. The Hen does not appear to 
look up, but suddenly she becomes motionless. The speck 
develops into a Hawk, which nears, flying in circles and 
descending at the same time, so that it is difficult to predict 
where it will alight. The Hen crouches, spreads her wings, 
and gives a short cry, different from her usual cluck ; instantly 
the brood rushes pell-mell to the offered shelter, the wings 
drop, and when the Hawk makes a final swoop within two 
feet of the ground he finds nothing but a very broad- 
backed and resolute Hen flattened in the dust, and he dis- 
appears over the meadows without having paused an 
instant. But his mate — for Hawks often prowl in pairs — 
is still sailing far off and mother Hen, having had one nar- 
row escape, hustles her family back to their barrel. 

Red-tailed Hawk: Buteo borealis. 

Bed Hawk, Hen Hawk, 



Length : 19-22 inches ; female, 22-24 inches. 

jlfaZe and Female : Above dark brown, variegated with white, gray, 
and tawny ; below whitish and buff, streaked across belly with 
brown. Tail rust-red, with a black band near end ; in young, 
tail gray with numerous narrow brown bars. Moderate, horn- 
coloured bill ; feet stout and strong. 

Season : A common resident. 

Breeds : Through range. 

Nest : Built in March, in a tall tree in deep woods. A bulky affair of 
sticks with an upper nest ; lined with soft bark like the Crow's. 

Eggs : 2-3, dirty white, thickly blotched with purplish brown. 

Bange : Eastern North America, west to the Great Plains. 

Owing to different phases of plumage, it is often difficult 
to identify the larger Hawks on the wing ; but the red tail 
is a distinctive mark of the adults of this species at all 
seasons. 

Farmers regard it as a nuisance, and kill it whenever 
they can as a punishment for poultry stealing; but Dr. 

218 



PLATE 57. 




RED-SHOULDERED HAWK. 

Length, 18-20 inches. 



BIRDS OF PREY. Hawks 

Fisher tliinks it is a mistake to destroy it unless when 
caught in the act ; as, after careful investigation, it has been 
found that eighty-five per cent of its food is made up of 
rodents destructive to agriculture. But still farmers make 
scare-crows, and, when possible, shoot a Hawk and hang it 
in the barnyard as a warning. 

A persevering boy, living on the outskirts of the woods 
near Aspetuck Mills, secured a male Eed-tail and two 
young, this spring, and I saw them after they had been in 
confinement for a week. The nest was in a particularly 
dangerous location, in the top of a tall hickory, and was 
reached by an arrangement of three ladders; a steel trap 
was placed over the nest, and the old bird secured in this 
way. The male was evidently rearing the young single- 
handed, his mate having probably been shot; for she did 
not answer his cries, and was never seen about the tree. 

The young, at the time I saw them, May 30, must have 
been about five weeks old. They were downy and poorly 
feathered with buffy white, barred and flecked with gray 
and brown. The old bird did not struggle for liberty, but 
seemed perfectly stoical, only turning occasionally when the 
young clamoured (making a noise like the sharp peeping of 
chickens), to ram a scrap of raw meat, of which there was 
a supply in the cage, into their mouths, as they made no 
effort to feed themselves. 



Bed-shouldered Hawk: Buteo Uneatus, 

Also called Hen Hawk. 

Plate 57. 

Length : 18-20 inches. 

Male and Female : Shoulders rust-red. Above reddish brown, the 
middle of the feathers darker than the edges. Head, neck, and 
lower parts rusty, transversely barred with whitish ; tail black 
with white bands. Feet and nostrils bright yellow. 

Note : " Kee-o, kee-o ! " an agreeable sound. 

Season : Common resident. 

Breeds : In April and early May all through its range. 

219 



Bald Eagle BIRDS OF PREY. 

Nest and Eggs: Like the Red-tail's; eggs somewhat smaller. Nest 

often used for several seasons. 
Bange : Eastern North America, west to Texas and the Plains, south 

to the Gulf coast and Mexico. 

The common Hawk, that we see so frequently in winter, 
sitting motionless on a bare tree-top or stump, in the 
vicinity of inundated meadows, or where there are unfrozen 
springs, for it is particularly fond of frogs, etc. At a dis- 
tance it resembles the last species, but at short range its red 
shoulders identify it. The Eed-shouldered Hawk is a dig- 
nified bird having an Owl-like flight, and when at rest the 
pose of an Eagle. It is not easily disturbed, and will sit 
half an hour at a time in one spot, giving you a fine oppor- 
tunity of observing it with a field-glass or marine telescope, 
which will bring it so close that every feather is distinct. 

In "Upland and Meadow" Dr. Abbott draws a very 
interesting picture of this species as well as of other 
Hawks, and says that their soaring and screaming over the 
winter meadows is one of the few bits of primitive wild- 
ness left to us. This species is a hardy and valuable bird ; 
at least sixty-five per cent of its food consists of injurious 
rodents and the remaining thirty-five per cent is made 
up of insects, reptiles, etc., with a very small proportion of 
bird food. 

Bald !Eagle : JSaliaetus leucocephalus. 

White-headed Sea Eagle. 

Plate 58. 

Length : 3 feet. Female larger. 

Male and Female : Neck, head feathers, and tail pure white in adults, 
brown in young ; beak yellow and abruptly hooked ; plumage 
dark brown ; legs feathered only half-way down ; feet yellow. 

Season : An uncommon resident, coming more like a visitor. 

Breeds: Through range. 

Nest : A bulky platform of stalks and litter, some 6 feet across and 
3 feet deep ; either in large trees or on rocky ledges. 

Eggs : 2, white ; 2i to 3 inches in length. 

Bange : North America at large ; south to Mexico. 




O) 

•r; CO 



C 

CD 



PLATE 59. 




AMERICAN SPARROW HAWK. 



BIRDS OF PREY. Bald Eagle 

The white head feathers of this Eagle give it the name of 
" Bald," which in reality, of course, it is not. It is called a 
resident in Connecticut; but it is by no means common, 
though a pair may usually be seen sailing over the marshes 
some time between September and May. 

The white head identifies the fully grown bird beyond 
question; but as it takes the young three years to perfect 
their plumage, some confusion will arise. The feathers of 
the first year are uniform dark brown, and the birds are 
called Black Eagles. The second year they are known as 
Gray Eagles, not earning the title of Bald until the third 
year. Remember, however, that the Bald Eagle has its 
claws and ankles unfeathered (while the other American 
Eagle, the Golden, is feathered to the claws), and then 
you will not confuse the species. 

The Bald-headed Eagle is a long-lived bird, of majestic 
appearance, whose piercing voice can be heard above a wild 
storm ; and for these qualities it was unfortunately chosen 
as the emblem of our E-epublic, for its noble qualities are in 
reality either wholly superficial or else imaginary. It is an 
inveterate bully, obtaining a great part of its food by rob- 
bing the Fish Hawk, while perfectly able to fish for itself ; 
and though it has been known to carry off lambs and young 
pigs, it has been vanquished in a fair fight by a rooster. 
Preferring a fish diet, it will, however, eat any kind of 
animal food, even devouring carrion. 

These Eagles are cowardly parents, but devoted as couples, 
and their union, on the evidence of good authorities, appears 
to be for life. They travel in pairs, and never in flocks, as 
is the habit of Vultures. The female is not only the larger, 
but the braver of the two birds, which fact, perhaps, led an 
enthusiast in the latest Woman's Suffrage scrimmage to de- 
clare that the Eagle on the United States coins is a female. 
It certainly takes a very bold bird, indeed, to lend its coun- 
tenance to our silver. 



221 



Sparrow Hawk BIRDS OF PREY. 

American Sparrow Hawk: Falco sparverius* 

Plate 59. 

Length: 10-11 inches, sexes the same size. 

Male and Female : Above reddish, with or without black bars and 
spots. Top of head bluish slate with a red patch. Below 
varying from whitish to dark reddish, with or without black 
spots. Wings narrow and pointed. Female has dusky bars on 
back, wings, and tail. Bill dark ; feet deep yellow. 

Season : Rare resident. 

Breeds : From Florida to Hudson's Bay. 

Nest : Lays in hollow trees, old Woodpecker holes, and sometimes in 
Dove cots. 

Eggs : Variable ; some sets plain buffy brown, others heavily splashed 
with dark brown or wreathed at the larger end. 

Range : Whole of North America, south to northern South America. 

This is the smallest, handsomest, and one of the mos^- 
useful of our Hawks. It is one of the three small species 
that Dr. Abbott characterizes as belonging to the impetuous 
class, in distinction from the larger Hawks, which he calls 
meditative and deliberate. 

It is easily recognized from its small size, and it resem- 
bles a big Fox Sparrow with a hooked beak and black 
whiskers. 

The Sparrow Hawk has the Shrike's trick of dropping on 
its prey from a height, instead of approaching in circles. 
They collect in numbers in the fall and early spring near 
bird-roosts, and seize their victims when they emerge in the 
morning, and particularly toward night. 

Juncos, Chickadees, and Tree Sparrows lodge in the honey- 
suckle hedge at the foot of the garden, and late one March 
afternoon I saw a Hawk in a cedar tree near by. I watched 
half an hour and thought it had gone. Suddenly a Junco 
dashed into the hedge, followed by what seemed to be a 
brown stone, it dropped so quickly, striking at right angles 
against the heavy wire that supported the vine. The Junco 
escaped through the trellis, and the Sparrow Hawk, in the 
moment it took to recover itself, gave me a good chance to 
identify it. 



BIRDS OF PREY. Oeprey 

This Hawk is a consumer of beetles and other large in- 
sects, mice, etc. ; it kills small birds, and sometimes Pigeons, 
but not preferably. 

In addition to the six Hawks described there are five 
other species belonging casually, either as migrants or resi- 
dents, to the same range, but they are rare and not easy for 
the novice to identify. They are the 

Goshawk : A rare winter visitor. 

Broad-winged Hawk : An uncommon resident. 

Bough-legged Hawk : Rare winter resident. 

Duck Hawk : A migrant along the coast. Rare summer resident in 

Hudson Highlands. 
Pigeon Hawk : A common migrant along coast. 

American Osprey : Pandion haliaetus* 

Fish Hawk. 

Plate 60. 

Length : About 24 inches ; female larger. 

Male and Female : Plain dark brown above, the tail having a white 

tip and a band of dark brown. Head, neck, and lower parts 

white ; breast plain, or sometimes spotted faintly with brown. 

Bill bluish black ; feet grayish. 
Note : " Phew, phew, p-hew 1 " 
Season : April to November. 
Breeds : From Florida to Labrador. 
Nest : In trees near or over water ; a bulky nest on the plan of the 

Eagle's. 
Eggs: 2-3, variable in size and colour ; average, 2^ x If inches. 
Range : North America, from Hudson's Bay and Alaska, south to the 

West Indies and northern South America. 

The familiar, brown. Eagle-like bird, with very large 
talons, which is seen hovering over Sound, creek, and river, 
particularly in spring and early fall. The Fish Hawk, as it 
is popularly called, follows schools of fish, and, dashing from 
considerable height, seizes its prey with its stout claws. If 
the fish is small, it is immediately swallowed ; if it is large 
(and it will secure occasionally shad, bass, etc., weighing 

223 



Osprey BIRDS OF PREY. 

five or six pounds), it is taken to a convenient bluff or tree 
and torn to bits. Sometimes tlie Fish. Hawk dives quite 
deep, and, when he emerges, shakes a shower of spray from 
his wings and rises slowly. It is at this juncture that the 
Bald Eagle usually manages to rob him of the fish by either 
seizing it or startling the Hawk so that he looses his hold. 
The Osprey when fishing makes one of the most breezy and 
spirited pictures connected with the feeding-habits of any 
of our birds, for often there is a splashing and a struggle 
under water when the fish grasped is either too large or the 
great talons become entangled. Occasionally the Osprey is 
carried under and drowned, and large fish have been washed 
ashore with these birds fastened to them by their claws, 
though it usually feeds upon fish of little value. 

I found an Osprey's nest in a crooked oak on Wakeman's 
Island in late April, 1893. As I could not get close to the 
nest (the island is between a network of small creeks and 
the flood-tides covered the marshes), I at first thought it a 
monstrous Crow's nest, but on returning the second week in 
May I saw a pair of Ospreys coming and going to and from 
the nest, and then obtained a nearer view. I hoped the 
birds might return another season, as the nest looked as if 
it might have been used for two or three years and was as 
lop-sided as a poorly made haystack. The great August 
storm of the same year broke the tree and the nest fell, 
making quite a heap on the ground. Among the debris 
were sticks of various sizes, dried reeds, two bits of a bam- 
boo fishing-rod, seaweeds, some old blue mosquito netting, 
and some rags of fish net, also about half a bushel of salt hay 
in various stages of decomposition, and malodorous dirt 
galore. 

The Fish Hawk is said to breed in colonies along the New 
Jersey coast. Here I have only seen it in pairs, and though 
a common bird it always attracts attention whenever it 
appears. 



224 



PIGEONS, QUAILS, GROUSE. Pigeon 

ORDER COLUMB^: PIGEONS. 

FAMILY COLUMBID^: DOVES AND PIGEONS. 
Passenger Pigeon : Ectopistes migratorius. 

Wild Pigeon. 
Plate 61. 

Length : Dependent upon the development of tail, 12-16 inches. 

Male : Upper parts bluish gray, reddish brown below, fading to whitish 

toward vent. Wings dark, with a few spots, tail quills dark 

blue at the base and white at tips. Bill black ; feet lake-red. 
Female : Dull gray above, breast ashy brown. 
Note : A guttural " coo." 
Season : A rare summer resident. Last considerable flight some 20 

years ago. (Averill.) 
Breeds: Locally and irregularly in the more northerly parts of its 

range. 
Nest : Merely a lattice of small twigs, through which the eggs may be 

seen. 
Uggs : 2, white. 
Bange : Eastern North America, from Hudson's Bay southward, and 

west to the Great Plains, straggling westward to Nevada and 

Washington Territory. 

The beautifully tinted Wild Pigeon is now almost a thing 
of the past. Thirty years ago it was one of our most 
abundant Game-birds, but it has become exterminated in 
some localities and is a rare summer resident whose appear- 
ance is carefully noted. Old housekeepers remember when, 
in New York and Boston every winter, carts loaded with, 
these birds went from door to door and potted pigeon was a 
standard New England dish, alternating with roast beef, 
turkey, and sparerib. 

The disappearance of this Pigeon is only a page in the 
sad history of the destruction of bird life in the United 
States, and it seems as if the founders of the country, as 
well as the ever-increasing stream of emigrants, had too 
much faith in its resources, believing it to be a land not 
amenable to the laws of Nature. So ruthlessly have these 
Q 225 



Mourning Dove PIGEONS, QUAILS, GROUSE. 

Pigeons been slaughtered, that one account from the West 
records instances where they have been shot down by the 
hundred, and left on the ground as food for the pigs ! The 
result is, that all game is only locally plentiful, and that we 
have less in general than countries hundreds of years older 
where a reasonable protection has existed. The only flights 
of Wild Pigeons heard of now belong to the Northwestern 
States and the Mississippi Valley at large. Then, too, the 
destruction of the forests and far-extending blizzards have 
hastened the extinction that the gun began. 



Mourning Dove : Zenaidura macroura, 

Plate 62. 

Length : 12-13 inches. 

Male and Female : General appearance when in the trees, a bluish 
fawn colour. Above olive-brown, varying to a bluish gray, 
neck and head washed with metallic tints. Below a dull 
purplish, changing to reddish brown. Two middle tail feathers 
as long as the wings. Bill black, feet lake-red. Female duller. 

Note : A plaintive mournful " Coo-o, coo-o ! " 

Season : Common summer resident ; March to November. 

Breeds : From southern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. 

Nest : A few loose sticks, sometimes laid on an old Robin's nest. 

JEggs : 2, white. 

Bange : North America, from southern Maine, southern Canada and 
Oregon south to Panama and the West Indies. 

This Dove is one of most prettily shiftless housewives 
among birds. She has softly coloured plumage, a refined, 
though sad, voice, and many gentle, lady-like ways; but 
when it comes to nest-building (and the female is always 
rightly held responsible for the neatness of the home), she 
is utterly wanting. Even though her mate should decline 
to furnish her with a more liberal supply of sticks, she could 
arrange those she has to better advantage ; but she evidently 
lacks that indispensable something, called faculty^ which 
must be inborn. 

The eggs or bodies of the young show plainly through 
the rude platform and bid fair either to fall through it or 

226 



PLATE 61, 




PASSENGER PIGEON. 



Length, 12-10 inches. 



PIGEONS, QUAILS, GROUSE. Bob-white 

roll out, but they seldom do. Meanwhile she coos regret- 
fully, but does not see her way to bettering things, saying, 
" I know that I'm a poor housekeeper, but it runs in our 
family " ; but when the Doves choose a flattened-out Robin's 
nest for a platform, the nestlings fare very well. 

Though inhabitants of woodlands, these birds are coyly 
sociable and always build a nest or two in the garden. They 
usually choose the pines and spruces, and put the nest close 
to the trunk where two adjoining branches start ; sometimes 
the nest will be twenty feet from the ground, but it is usu- 
ally lower. The monotonous cooing, which gives them their 
name, is a rather desolate sound except as it blends with the 
morning chorus. 

They seldom feed upon insects ; but prefer seeds of various 
sorts, and glean grain from the fields after harvest, though 
I have never seen them take it from the ear, and they can- 
not be said to do any damage. The young are easily tamed, 
if taken from the nest, and make very gentle and attractive 
pets, but are of too gross a habit to be kept in the house. 



ORDER GALLING: GALLINACEOUS BIRDS. 

FAMILY TETRAONIDiE: GROUSE, PARTRIDGES, ETC. 
Bob-white; Quail: Colinus virginianus, 

Plate 65. Fio. 1. 

Length : 10.50 inches. 

Male and Female : Crown feathers slightly crested. White forehead ; 
eye line and throat patch edged with dark. Above variegated 
reddish brown flecked with black, white, and tawny. Below 
whitish, warming on the sides to reddish, with dark streaks. 
In female the forehead, throat, and eye stripes are buffy. Bill 
rusty black. 

Note: "Bob-white! Bob-white f^^ Sometimes also ♦•Poor-Bob- 
white." 

Season : Resident. 

Breeds : Throughout range ; pairs here in April. 

Nest : Small twigs and grass in a ground hollow. 

Eggs : 10-15, white and blunt. 

227 



Bob-white PIGEONS, QUAILS, GROUSE. 

Mange : Eastern United States and southern Canada ; from southern 
Maine to the South Atlantic and Gulf States ; west to Dakota, 
eastern Kansas, and eastern Texas. 

The most abundant and attractive of our Game-birds, 
whose note is so cheery and melodious as to be as welcome as 
an elaborate song. In April and May the clear call — " Bob- 
white ! Bob-white ! Poor-Bob- white ! " — comes from the 
stubble fields and bushy roadsides, with the staccato ring, 
at the same time that the Meadowlark sings in the pastures 
and marshlands. At this time Bob-white may be seen sit- 
ting upon an old fence rail, telling of his lonesome plight, 
and calling with a total disregard of the presence of man. 
Again, in August, you will see him with his spouse and 
flock of young running through the underbrush, or in fields 
where the grain has been reaped. When the first gun is 
fired in November, they take warning and retire from the 
neighbourhood of settlements to thickly bushed hillsides, 
where they remain until absolutely flushed. 

In early winter, after light snow, you may often see 
Quails scratching in the buckwheat fields ; for they are par- 
ticularly fond of this grain, and you cannot do a kinder act 
than by scattering a little every day on the snow where you 
see their tracks, as they frequently suffer from hunger. 
Like the Ruffed Grouse, they sometimes burrow in the snow 
to hide from intense cold, and an ice crust forming above 
them they are unable to get out, and die, often in great 
numbers. They are keenly alive to the benefits of protec- 
tion; for three successive years broods were raised in a 
tangle underneath some old quince bushes at the foot of 
the garden, and old and young continued to range in the 
vicinity all summer, returning to hide in the shooting- 
season under a hemlock hedge. The fourth year they were 
disturbed by rock-blasting in the adjoining land, and have 
not since nested in the garden. Two and often three fam- 
ilies are raised in a season, and the breeding sometimes con- 
tinues so late in the fall that winter overtakes a half-grown 
covey. Twenty-five is not an unusual annual family for 
these vigorous birds. 

228' 



PLATE 62. 




MOURNING DOVE. 
Length, 12-13 inches. 



PIGEONS, QUAILS, GROUSE. Ruifed Grouse 

Ruffed Grouse : Bonasa u^nbellus. 

Partridge {New England), Pheasant (Middle and Southern 

States). 

Plate 63. 

Length: 16-18 inches. 

Male and Female : Slightly crested head ; yellow eye stripe ; neck 
mottled with reddish and dusky brown. Back variegated chest- 
nut ; lower parts lighter, buff or whitish, with dark bars. Long 
tail, which spreads fan-like, reddish gray, beautifully barred. 
Neck ruff of dark feathers, with iridescent green and purple 
tints, which, in the female, is dull. Claws not feathered. 

Kote : A Hen-like cluck. 

.Breeds : In woodlands, through range. 

.Nest : On the ground, among dry leaves ; frequently a bunch of leaves 
between the roots of a chestnut. 

Eggs : 10-15, rich buff, usually plain, sometimes specked with brown. 

Bange: Eastern United States, south to North Carolina, Georgia, 
Mississippi, and Arkansas. 

The Ruffed Grouse, whicli is called tlie Partridge in New 
"England, is a case where incorrect local nomenclature has 
created permanent confusion. It is a true Grouse, and the real 
Partridge is the Bob-white. The term Partridge seems, how- 
ever, to be a fixture in literature as well as in the markets. 

The Ruffed Grouse is familiar to those who have been 
in the habit of walking in the New England woods or 
remote lanes in the spring or autumn ; it is a resident, but 
is more apt to be seen at these two seasons. In woods 
where the underbrush has been thinned out, and not wholly 
cut away, and where shooting is forbidden, this Grouse 
shows, in spring, almost the tameness of the domestic 
fowl; but in autumn it is more shy, for, if protected in 
some places, it is harried in others and become suspicious. 

The Grouse mates in late April; and when the chicks 
are hatched, they immediately leave the nest and follow 
their mother. They obey her authority as quickly as chick- 
ens do the Hen, except that when they hear the warning 
note, they dive under leaves and bushes, while she leads the 
pursuer off in an opposite direction. The female attends 

229 



Ruffed Grouse PIGEONS, QUAILS, GROUSE. 

to the duties of nest-building and incubation alone; the 
males seem to feel themselves de trop at this time, and keep 
separate, roosting together, and rejoining their mates when 
the young are hatched, and then they roam as a family. 

The male Ruffed Grouse has the same habit of pluming 
and strutting as the Turkey-cock, and also makes the drum- 
ming noise which has caused so much dispute and which is 
attributed to at least four different causes. This peculiar 
sound begins in spring, and, though not belonging to the 
breeding-season alone, is most frequently indulged in at that 
time. It seems to be in token of general good health and 
spirits as well as to call attention to the drummer. Heard 
at a little distance it is a hollow, vibrating sound, beginning 
softly and increasing, as if a small rubber ball was dropped 
slowly and then rapidly bounced on a drumhead. 

You may hear the drumming fifty times, without seeing 
the bird from which it proceeds, and you may even see the 
bird plainly without having the slightest clue to how the 
sound is produced. 

It is variously stated that the Grouse beats with its 
wings on a log ; that it raises its wings and strikes their 
edges above its back ; that it claps them against its side like 
a crowing rooster, and, lastly, that it beats the air. You may 
take your choice of the methods, the result is the same. 

Last April, when in the woods near Ciecos Brook, I saw a 
Grouse drum. I was sitting on the ground and the bird 
flew over my head and lit on a rail that topped an old stone 
wall; his back was toward me. For a few minutes he 
remained quiet as if listening, ruffled his feathers, raised 
his tail, moved his wings slowly, as if to test them. Then 
beat them more and more rapidly until my eyes blinked 
hopelessly. When the noise ceased, the wings drooped 
slightly, and in a moment more the bird flew away. 

This almost agrees with Thoreau's positive assertion that 
he had seen a Partridge drum while standing on a wall, and 
that it stood upright and struck its wings together behind 
its back, but striking neither the wall or its body, and he 
bravely declares that any one who affirms the contrary is 

230 



SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. Turnstone 

mistaken, even though he were Audubon himself, A snap- 
shot with a camera might settle the question, but the 
drummer seldom performs in places where the light would 
permit of a photograph of whirling feathers. 

As a Game-bird the Ruffed Grouse is a favourite, having 
white meat of a good flavour and less dry than that of the 
Quail. Sometimes when driven by hunger it feeds upon 
noxious berries and the leaves of the dwarf laurel or lamb- 
kill, which may render it unwholesome food ; but if the bird 
is properly cleaned at once no such trouble can ensue, as the 
leaves and berries when digested cannot injure the flesh, 
and the only danger comes from the poisonous matter 
remaining in the crop and intestines and permeating the 
entire bird. 

The eyes of the Grouse are of the most wonderful depth 
and softness. This autumn, during a violent storm, a young 
bird with a broken wing and leg was blown against the 
house door. I took it in, and it lay for some time in my 
hand, until we found that it could not be cured, and that 
the kindest act would be to kill it. I shall never forget its 
eyes, with their deep, expanding pupils and the golden- 
brown iris. Of all the expressive, speaking eyes that I have 
seen among animals, the eyes of this bird were the most 
beautiful and pathetic. 



ORDER LIMICOL^: SHORE-BIRDS. 

FAMILY APHRIZID^: SURF-BIRDS AND TURNSTONES. 
Turnstone : Arenaria interpres* 

Calico Snipe. 

Plate 64. Fig. 1. 

Length : 8-9 inches. 

Male and Female : Above patched with black, white, red, brown 
and gray in a calico pattern. Below white, with black throat 
and breast, divided by a white line. Much white on wings and 
tail. Bill black, shorter than head, and slightly recurved ; feet 
orange. Adults, in winter, lack the red on the back and the 
blacks are less clear. 

231 



Plovers SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. 

Season : Common migrant; May, August, and September. 

Breeds : In high northern latitudes. 

Bange : Nearly cosmopolitan ; in America, from Greenland and Alaska 
to the Straits of Magellan ; more or less common in the interior 
of North America, on the shores of the Great Lakes and the 
larger rivers. 

The Turnstone has a bill that looks like two sharply 
pointed ridge-backed pens placed face to face. He uses this 
as a pry to displace small stones along the shore to secure 
the various bits of marine life lodging under them. Hence 
it is more common about the base of rocky cliffs and coves 
than on smooth, sandy beaches. It is conspicuous for 
its size, its boldly marked plumage contrasting with its sur- 
roundings, while Sandpipers mingle with the sands and can 
be hardly seen at a little distance unless revealed by some 
abrupt movement. 

FAMILY CHARADRIID^: PLOVERS. 
Black-bellied Plover: Charadrius squatarola* 

Length : 11-12 inches. 

Male and Female : Breeding-plumage black and white, seldom seen 
in United States. Fall plumage, above mottled with black, 
gray, and yellowish ; beneath whitish. Wings and tail nearly 
even. Bill long and black ; feet black. Axillary feathers black. 

Season : Migrant ; common in autumn. 

Breeds : Far north. 

Bange : Nearly cosmopolitan, but chiefly in the Northern Hemisphere, 
migrating south in winter; in America, to the West Indies, 
Brazil, and New Granada. 

The Plovers are wading Shore-birds, feeding on beetles, 
grasshoppers, worms, larvae, and fresh-water shell-fish. This 
species breeds in the Arctic regions and appears here in 
numbers in the fall migration only. It is then fairly, but 
irregularly, abundant about the marsh-ponds, and is an 
extremely handsome bird, having a clear, whistling cry. It 
arrives about the middle of September, after the general 
migration of the Golden Plover. 

232 



PLATE 64. 




1. TURNSTONE. 
Length, 8-9 inches. 



2. AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER. 

Length, 10-11 inches. 



SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. Plovers 

American Golden Plover: Charadrius dominicus. 

Field Plover. 

Plate 64. Fig. 2. 

Length: 10-11 inches. 

Male and Female: Subject to great variations of plumage. Above 
mottled with black and greenish yellow ; whitish below. Axil- 
lary feathers dark ashy. Bill and feet black. 

Season : Common autumn migrant ; early September. 

Breeds : Arctic regions. 

Bange : Arctic America, migrating southward throughout North and 
South America to Patagonia. 

This species is the well-known Plover of the markets, and 
the favourite of sportsmen. They are to be found in the salt- 
marshes and about sand-bars and tide-pools. Their coming 
is irregular ; sometimes a great flock will alight, and then 
again only a few stragglers. They usually pass from late 
August until middle September ; heavy storms may delay 
them, or, if the weather is evenly fine, they often fly over 
any given locality without pausing. This uncertainty about 
the arrival of many birds, especially the various Water- 
birds that visit us only as migrants, is due largely to the 
chances of weather. If September is a pleasant month 
and there are few gales, the great body fly out at sea and 
pass Connecticut altogether. In the spring migration they 
are but little noticed, the sportsman must not shoot them, 
and the bird-lover is kept from marshes by the flood-tides ; 
but when a great storm comes during the fall migration, the 
Golden Plover not only flies close to the land, but flies low, 
and then he falls an easy prey to the sportsmen who are 
lying in wait for him. 

Killdeer Plover: ^gialitis vocifera. 

Length : 9-10 inches. 

Male and Female: Gray -brown, washed with olive above; rump 

variegated with all shades of orange and reddish brown. 

White frontlet and red eyelids. Below white; collar and 

breastlet of black. Bill black; legs light. 
233 



Plovers SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. 

Note: "Killdeer! kill-deer!" 

Season : Once a summer resident, now rare, remaining from March 

to November. 
Breeds : Through its range. 

Nest : A hollow in the grass or sand in vicinity of fresh water. 
Eggs : 4, the ground, as with the eggs of many Waders, varying from 

clay colour to cream, marked with brownish black. 
Range : Temperate North America, migrating in winter to the West 

Indies, and Central and northern South America. 

You may hear this Plover cry and yet never see the bird 
itself, though the black-banded breast, white frontlet, and 
red eyelids make it easy to identify. It nests in our marsh 
meadows, arriving in March, with the Bluebirds and Song 
Sparrows, lingers until ice has formed on the edges of the 
ponds, and yet we do not think of calling it a common bird. 
According to Wilson, the Killdeers are somewhat nocturnal 
in their habits, especially in feeding upon the worms that 
then rise to the surface of the ground. Their loud cry — 
^^Killdeer ! Kill-d-e-e-r ! " — has all the shrillness of the Jay's 
scream, and the Plover uses it frequently to mislead m- 
truders or lure them away from his nest. Coues says that 
" they abound in the West, are not gregarious or maritime 
extensively, but somewhat irregularly migratory, and are 
very noisy birds." 



Semipalmated Plover: JEgialitis semipalmata. 

Ring Plover, 



Length : 7 inches. 

Male and Female : Bill black, orange at base. An orange ring around 

eye. Above a dark ash-gray. Below white, with a black ring 

across breast and above this a white ring across back of neck. 

Half-webbed yellow feet. 
Season : " Abundant migrant, seen on flats at low tide. May and late 

July to late September." 
Breeds : North from Labrador. 
Mange: Arctic and subarctic America, migrating south throughout 

tropical America as far as Brazil and Peru. 
234 



SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. Plovers 

One of the commonest Plovers, or, in fact, of Shore-birds 
in general, to be found along the beaches ; easily identified 
by means of the complete neck ring, white upon dark and 
dark upon light. 

Like the Sandpipers, they dance along the shore in rhythm 
with the ebbing tides, leaving sharp footprints on the wet 
sand. These footprints will also give you a key to the bird, 
for they show that its feet are half-webbed or semipalmated, 
from which it takes its specific name. 

I have only found these birds along the seashore, but 
Samuels says that on their arrival in spring, small flocks 
follow the course of large rivers, like the Connecticut. He 
also found a single pair breeding on Muskeget, the famous 
haunt of Gulls, off the shore of Massachusetts. On their 
return migration, these Plovers are shot down promiscuously 
with the Sandpipers, with which they associate closely. 

Piping Plover : JEgialitis meloda. 

Pale Ring-neck. 

Length : 6.50 inches. 

Male and Female : Above light gray. Coloured eye ring ; bill yellow 
with black tip ; partial ichite collar on back of neck and a par- 
tial dark band on throat. A black bar between the eyes. Be- 
low white. Legs orange yellow. Female, the eye bar a pale 
brown, and the neck rings merely spots. 

Season : A summer resident, but not common. 

Breeds : Northward from Virginia. 

Nest and Eggs : No real nest ; eggs 2-4, creamy or grayish, with brown 
scratches or small spots ; laid on the sand. 

Bange : Eastern Province of North America ; in winter the West 
Indies. 

This, the second of the Eing-neck Plovers, comes to us in 
scattering flocks in late April, which a month later separate 
into pairs. Samuels says that it sometimes strays into the 
interior, and has been known to breed on the borders of 
ponds twenty miles from the coast, but that in New Eng- 
land it seldom wanders far from the shore, and prefers sand 

235 



Woodcock SHORE AND MAESH BIRDS. 

islands near the mainland for its breeding-haunts. He has 
found its eggs at Muskeget with those of the last species. 
The Piping Plover, as well as the Eing-neck, live upon 
insects, worms, eggs of fish, small Crustacea, etc. 

FAMILY SCOLOPACID^ : SNIPES, SANDPIPERS, ETC. 
American Woodcock : F'hilohela minor, 

Plate 65. Fig. 2. 

Length : 10-11 inches. Female an inch longer. 

Male : Eyes large, set in upper corner of head. Short, thick neck and 
compact body. Above variegated with brown, black, tawny, and 
gray. Below brown, ranging from buff to tawny. Legs very 
short. Bill longer than head, straight and stout. 

Note : A peep and a whistle. " P't-ul ! P't-ul ! " and " peent, peent " 
(Brewster.) 

Season : A summer resident ; February to December. 

Breeds : Through range in April and May. 

Nest : A hollow in the ground, lined with a few leaves. 

Eggs: 4 usually, varying from stone-gray to buff, with indefinite 
brown markings and gray cloudings. 

Mange : Eastern United States, north to the British Provinces, west 
to Dakota, Kansas, etc. 

The king of our Game-birds, to be distinguished from the 
Snipe, which it resembles, by its heavier build, shorter legs, 
and plain red-brown under parts. Though grouped with 
Shore-birds, it is more frequently to be found in sheltered 
bogs and in woods bordering swamps than by lakes or 
rivers. 

The Woodcocks obtain the grubs and larvae on which they 
feed by probing in the soft mud with the bill, which is so 
extremely sensitive at the tip as to enable them to select 
food wholly by the sense of touch. The eyes are set in the 
head at a very peculiar angle, which gives the birds a rather 
foolish appearance. This is a protective provision of Nature. 
The eyes being situated high up and far back in both the 
Snipe and Woodcock enables them, by increasing the field 
of vision, to escape from many of their enemies, even though 
they cannot see their food. 

236 



PLATE 65. 





1. BOB-WHITE. 
Length, 10.50 inches. 



2. AMERICAN WOODCOCK. 
Length, 10-11 inches. 



SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. Snipe 

Woodcocks are as nocturnal in their feeding-habits as the 
Nighthawk itself. They may be frequently seen in April 
and May, an hour before twilight, peeping out from the 
margin of woodlands, picking their way in a leisurely man- 
ner to their feeding-grounds, or you may hear their short 
song either then or at dawn, and see them make beautiful 
flights into the air, sweeping in great circles and rising 
spirally like the Skylark, leaving behind a whistling sound, 
as if the wind rushed through a sharp-edged reed. At this, 
the breeding-season, the male does a great deal of strutting 
and preening, as is the case with many so-called songless 
birds, who make pose take the place of voice in gaining 
the attention of the desired mate. 

The young are very attractive little chicks, following their 
mother as soon as hatched. Early in May of last year I 
happened to see the last of a brood of three emerge from the 
egg. The callow little bunch had scarcely become accus- 
tomed to the light and its down was moist and limp, yet 
when the mother, on seeing me, gave the warning cry, it 
disappeared from under my very eyes as promptly as if it 
had studied wood tactics for a lifetime, and nothing re- 
mained but some bits of shell, mingling with the dead 
leaves, at the roots of a great tuft of evergreen ferns. 

Wilson's Snipe: Gallinago delicata, 

English Snipe. 

Plate 67. Fig. 1. 

Length: 10.50-11.50 inches. 

Male and Female : Straight greenish gray bill 2| inches long ; eyes 

set far back, as in last species. Above reddish and dark brown ; 

sides of head and neck buff. Dark, plain wings, margined and 

tipped with white; tail bay and black, outer feathers dirty 

white, with brown bars ; feet greenish gray. 
Note : A peeping cry and several rolling notes. 
Season : In the migrations, March, April, October, and November. 
Breeds: Northward from the United States; also, casually, farther 

south. 
Nest : A hollow in ground or a bog tussock. 

, 237 



Dowitcher SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. 

Eggs : 3-4, olive-gray washed with dull brown, marked on the larger 

end with umber spots and black scratches. 
Bange: North and middle America; south, in winter, to the West 

Indies and northern South America. 

The true Snipe of sportsmen, which is erroneously called 
"English Snipe." Wilson's Snipe has many qualities in 
common with the Woodcock. It is a bird of fresh-water 
marsh meadows, where it returns in September, and is usu- 
ally quite plentiful by the middle of October, going south 
when ice closes its feeding-grounds. It is a nocturnal 
feeder, and has the habit of soaring into the air at dawn 
and sunset. Usually, it is only considered from the food 
standpoint, but it really possesses musical qualities. I only 
know its peeping cry, that seems to fall from the clouds in 
the autumn nights when the migrating flocks pass over, 
but Audubon says that the male and female birds rise into 
the air, — " now with continued beating of the wings, now 
in short sailings, until more than a hundred yards high, 
when they whirl round each other with extreme velocity, 
and dance as it were to their own music ; for at this junc- 
ture, and during the space of four or five minutes, you hear 
rolling notes mingled together, each more or less distinct, 
perhaps according to the state of the atmosphere. The 
sounds produced are extremely pleasing, though they fall 
faintly on the ear." 

Dowitcher: Macrorhamphus griseus. 

Bed-breasted Snipe. 

Length : Varying from 10.25 to 12 inches. 

Male and Female : Bill dark, long and slender like last species, which it 
generally resembles. *' Riimp and tail white, the former spotted, 
the latter banded with black." In summer plumage the back 
is variegated with black, ash, and red, reddish below ; tail 
barred with dark. In winter it is ash-gray above and whitish 
below. Feet greenish black. 

Season : A fairly common migrant in August and September. 

Breeds : In the far North. 

Bange : Eastern North America. 

238 



SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. Knot 

A coastwise Snipe, very handsome and richly feathered. 
It can be distinguished when skimming over the marsh 
meadows by its erratic and Swallow-like flight, and at 
shorter range by its conspicuous white rump. It feeds 
upon marsh snails, water beetles and worms, such as are 
obtained in large numbers in the mud at the neck of tide 
bars and in clam beds. Its flesh is delicate, and it is 
greatly prized by sportsmen. 

Knot : Tringa canutus, 

Eobin Snipe. 

Length : 10.50 inches. 

Male and Female : Straight bill 1| inches long. Above black, white, 
ash, and reddish ; crown gray streaked with black ; nape of neck 
reddish. Below rich chestnut; legs short and thick. Young, 
the first two or three years until they put on the full plumage, 
gray, black, and white above, white below, which led to the 
idea that old males turned gray in winter. Female duller. 

Note : " Wah-quoit ! " and a honk. (G. H. Mackay.) 

Season : Irregular migrant. 

Breeds : In high northern latitudes. 

Bange : Nearly cosmopolitan. 

This Sandpiper may be recognized by its large size and 
very richly coloured feathers. With us it is a bird of the 
sea-coast and marshes, but in the Interior States it may be 
found about the larger lakes and rivers. 

Mr. Averill has shot it in August on the Housatonic 
meadows, and it may be occasionally seen pattering about 
the pools on the beach at low tide, in search of small shell- 
fish and marine insects, which are its usual articles of food 
and which impart a marshy flavour to this as well as to 
many similar Shore-birds. 

The Knot is no longer a common Snipe, and any one who 
reads Mr. George H. Mackay's very interesting monograph 
upon it, in The Auk for January, 1893, will easily see why. 
He says, not only have they been wantonly killed on the 
Cape Cod marshes, by the process known as " fire-lighting," 

239 



Sandpipers SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. 

but lie has every reason to believe that they were formerly 
shot along the Virginia coast in spring on their way to the 
breeding-grounds ; he says, " one such place shipped to New 
York City in a single spring, from April 1 to June 3, up- 
wards of six thousand Plovers, a large share of which were 
Knots." This was about thirty years ago, but it neverthe- 
less serves to illustrate what kind of treatment these birds 
received in those as well as later days, and bears out the 
current belief of to-day that the Knots have in a "great 
measure been killed off." The "fire-lighting" method of 
capturing them was, " for two men to start out after dark at 
half-tide, one of them to carry a lighted lantern, the other 
to reach and seize the birds, bite their necks, and put them 
in a bag slung over the shoulder." It is well to think that 
this also took place many years ago, and was stopped by law, 
to the honour of true sportsmen, who, after all that is said 
against them, have done much to stop the butchery of game. 

Pectoral Sandpiper : Tringa maculata. 

Grass Snipe. 

Length : 9-9.50 inches. 

Male : Above black and reddish ; white stripe over eye ; neck short. 
Below whitish, washed on neck and breast with dusky, broken 
by brown lines. JRump black ; wings dusky ; some tail feath- 
ers tipped with white. Bill straight, half as long as head, 
flesh-coloured tipped with black. Feet dusky greenish. 

Season : Common migrant ; August to November. 

Breeds : In Arctic regions. 

Bange : The whole of North America, the West Indies, and the greater 
part of South America. Of frequent occurrence in Europe. 

A fresh-water Sandpiper, found in wet meadows with 
Wilson's Snipe. It comes in late summer from its northern 
breeding-grounds in flocks of variable size, and remains as 
long as the insects upon which it feeds hold out. Its habits 
are more like those of the Snipes than of Sandpipers, and 
its flesh has a similar sweetness, lacking the rankness of the 
true Shore-birds. It has a loud, wiry call : " Tweet-tweet- 
weet ! " which it often repeats when on the wing. In the 

240 



PLATE 66. 




1. SPOTTED SANDPIPER 

Length, 7.50 inches. 



2. LEAST SANDPIPER. 
Length, 5.50 inches. 



SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. Sandpipers 

breeding-season the male has a curious habit of inflating his 
throat to a wonderful degree so that it hangs down upon the 
breast like a great tumour. It is a popular bird with 
gunners, and is known by them as Grass Snipe. 

Least Sandpiper : Tringa minutilla. 

Peep. 

T .,. K r« • 1, V\.XT^ 66. Fig. 2. 

Length : 5.50 mches. 

Male and Female : In summer plumage, above dark brown, feathers 
edged with red. Neck ash-gray, spotted with black. White eye 
stripe. Wings dusky, rump and tail coverts black. Below 
grayish white. In winter becoming gray and white like many- 
other species. Bill black ; legs dull green. 

Season : Common migrant ; April and May, August and September. 

Breeds : North of the United States. 

Bange: The whole of North and South America. Accidental in 
Europe. 

The smallest of all Sandpipers, known everywhere by 
the familiar name of Peep — the cry they constantly give 
when congregating on the beaches and flats at low tide. It 
has a pretty way of dancing up to the shallow, frothy 
ripples, meeting them, seizing some tiny morsel, and retreat- 
ing with a sort of courtesy. All the Sandpipers have a half- 
shy, half-sociable way of flitting afoot about the water's 
edge that makes them very sociable. Often at low tide I 
have walked down the beach toward Penfield Bar with 
three or four of these little birds for companions ; they will 
run on ahead, never letting me quite come up to them, and 
yet half expecting me to follow. This habit gave motive to 
one of the best bits of verse that Mrs. Celia Thaxter has left 
with us : — 

*' I watch him as he skims along, 

Uttering his sweet and mournful cry ; 
He starts not at my fitful song. 

Or flash of fluttering drapery ; 
He has no thought of any wrong ; 

He scans me with a fearless eye. 
Staunch friends are we, well tried and strong, 
The little sandpiper and I." (3d verse.) 
R 241 



Yellow-lega SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. 

Dr. Coues, in Ms " Birds of the Northwest," gives a beau- 
tiful picture of this bird in its Labrador breeding-haunts, 
where the fogs hang low and wild waves rage, and the little 
Sandpipers watch their half-sheltered ground-nest with 
anxious devotion. "Now, later in the season, when the 
young birds are grown strong of wing, family joins family, 
and the gathering goes to the sea beach. Stretches of sand, 
or pebbly shingle, or weed-loaded rocks, or muddy flats, 
bestrewn with wrack, invite, and are visited in turn; and 
each yields abundant sustenance. The unsuspecting birds 
ramble and play heedlessly, in the very front of man, un- 
mindful of, because unknowing danger; they have a sad 
lesson to learn the coming winter, when they are tormented 
without stint, and a part of their number slaughtered in 
more civilized countries for mere sport, or for the morsel of 
food their bodies may afford. Blasts fiercer than they ever 
knew before, come out of the north ; autumn is upon them, 
and they must not wait. Flocks rise on wing, and it is not 
long before the beaches and the marshes of the states are 
thronged." 

The Semipalmated (half-webbed) Sandpiper — Ereunetes 
pusillus — also shares the name of Peep with the last species, 
with which it flocks. It can best be distinguished from 
the Least Sandpiper by it feet, which are half-ivehbed, the 
Least having no webbing. It is also slightly larger. 

Greater Yellow-legs: Totanus melanoleucus. 

Stone Snipe. 



Length : 13-14 inches. 

Male and Female : Above dusky, spotted with black and white. Bill 
green black ; over two inches long and slightly recurved. Be- 
low white, streaked sparsely with gray on the neck. Rump 
white, also tail feathers, which are barred with brown. Long^ 
thin, yellow legs. 

Season : A common migrant ; May and August to November. 

Breeds: In the cold temperate and sub-arctic portions of North 
America. 

242 



SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. Sandpipers 

Bange: America in general, migrating south to Chili and Buenos 
Ayres. 

A handsome, noisy bird, commonly seen in flocks about 
sand bars, creeks, and inlets. It has a shrill voice and gives 
utterance to the most weird and startling cries when dis- 
turbed as well as during migration. When half a dozen of 
these birds converse the sounds are like the ejaculations of 
a collection of shipwrecked foreigners, each speaking a 
different tongue and mutually angry at not being under- 
stood. It is followed by sportsmen, though as an article of 
food its desirability is open to dispute. 

Solitary Sandpiper: Totanus solitarius. 

Length : 8-9 inches. 

Male and Female : Long, slender, dark bill. In breeding-plumage, 
dark brown above with an olive wash. Head and neck streaked 
with white ; rest of upper parts spotted with white. Below 
white, with some dark streaks on the breast. Legs dull green- 
ish. Markings less distinct in the fall. 

Season : Common migrant in May and September. 

Breeds: From northern United States northward, and believed to 
breed in more southern localities. Probably a summer resident 
in New England, 

Bange : North America, migrating southward as far as Brazil and 
Peru. 

Not a true Shore-bird, but an inhabitant of the neighbour- 
hood of wooded ponds and the margins of out-of-the-way 
watercourses ; which, if startled from its seclusion, pene- 
trates the underbrush rather than expose itself by flight. 
Wilson states that this Sandpiper lives in watery places in 
the mountainous region from New York State southwest to 
Kentucky, but that they are never numerous. Audubon 
notes the expert way in which they catch insects, saying 
that they are particularly apt in seizing small dragon-flies in 
their descent from the trees to the muddy pools where they 
breed. In this neighbourhood they are generally seen in 
pairs, and I have never noticed more than six or eight dur- 
ing any one season. 

243 



Sandpipera SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. 

Bartramian Sandpiper : Bartramia longicauda. 

Field Plover, 



Length: 11.75-12.75 inches. 

Male and Female: Bill short, grooved, and tipped with black, but 
little longer than the head. Above dusky, varied with yellowish 
and gray, a pale yellow stripe through the eye. Lower wing 
coverts white, banded with dark gray. Below varying from 
white to buff, dark lines on breast, and spots on belly. Outer 
tail quills white, barred with black. Feet dirty yellow. 

Season : A summer resident, but becoming rare. Noted by Linsley 
as breeding at Stratford, Conn. 

Breeds : Throughout its North American range. 

Nest : A few straws and tendrils to keep the eggs together ; in locations 
similar to those chosen by the Meadowlark. 

Eggs : 4, gray or cream ground, with irregular umber spots. 

Bange : Eastern North America, north to Nova Scotia and Alaska ; 
migrating in winter southward, as far even as southern South 
America. 

This species is classed as a Wading-bird, but is perfectly 
independent of water, and inhabits meadows and uplands, 
for which reason sportsmen call it the Upland or Field 
Plover. It announces itself on its arrival by a long, melo- 
dious whistle; it has several other cries in the breeding- 
season, but they are the reverse of pleasing. After the 
young are hatched, they flock with the adults, visiting the 
grass fields and feeding more after the fashion of Meadow- 
larks than of Sandpipers. As the frost blasts the inland 
fields they gradually approach the shore. At this season 
they are very plump, with sweet, well-flavoured flesh. 

Spotted Sandpiper: Actitis ^nacularia. 

Teeter; Tilt-up. 

Plate 66. Fig. 1. 
Length : 7.50 inches. 

3Iale and Female: Slender, flesh-colour bill, black tipped, longer 

than the head. Above Quaker-gray, with an iridescent lustre, 

spotted and streaked with black. White eye line. White 

below, dotted with black: feet flesh-coloured. More dull 

throughout in winter. 

244 



SHOKE AND MARSH BIRDS. Rails 

Note : A gentle "peet-weet — peet-weet ! " 
Season : Common summer resident. 
Breeds : Throughout temperate North America. 
Nest and ^ggs : Resembling last species. 

Bange: North and South America, south to Brazil. Occasional in 
Europe. 

This is the familiar little bird of roadside brooks and 
moist meadows, where the marsh marigold of spring is 
followed by the cardinal flower and gentian of autumn. 
To me it is indelibly associated with gentian meadows, for 
the first time that I ever throughly identified it I was 
balancing on a big grass hummock, wondering if I could 
step across a particularly deceitful looking bit of water, half 
ditch, half sluggish stream, to secure a plant of blue fringed 
gentian that branched like a magnificent candelabra with 
cups of lapis lazuli; — and this Sandpiper flew from an 
opposite tussock and gave its plaintive cry. Seeing that I 
did not stir, it walked unconsciously along the edge of the 
ditch, mincing and balancing in a curious way, jerking 
its body in see-saw fashion, which has given it the name 
of " Teeter." Every few minutes it flew to the grass, whis- 
pering to itself as it fed. 

The Spotted Sandpiper possesses all the delicacy and 
beauty of a Song-bird, and it seems as much an act of cruelty 
to hunt it down for sport as if it was a Thrush or Oriole. 
It does not live in flocks. 

ORDER PALUDICOLJE: CRANES, RAILS, ETC. 

FAMILY RALLID^: RAILS, GALLINULES, COOTS. 
Clapper Rail: Mallus longirostris crepitans. 

Salt-water Marsh Hen. 

Length : 14-16 inches. 

Male and Female : General colouring sand-gray, with no reddish tinge. 

Above variegated ash and olive-brown ; no decided mottlings. 

Below, yellowish brown whitening on the throat; wings and 

tail dull brown. Bill longer than the head and yellowish 

brown ; feet the same colour. 
245 



Rails SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. 

Season: Common summer resident from Connecticut southward. 

May winter. 
Breeds : In dense marshes, most abundantly in the Carollnas. 
Nest : A collection of grasses and reeds ; on the ground, barely out of 

the reach of water. 
Uggs : Numerous, 6-12, cream- white, speckled with reddish brown. 
Bange : Salt-marshes of the Atlantic coast of the United States, from 

New Jersey southward ; resident from the Potomac southward, 

casually north to Massachusetts. 

The Clapper Rail is one of the noisiest of most obstrep- 
erous of Shore-birds. It straggles to the Massachusetts 
coast in summer, and is at times quite plentiful, but irregu- 
larly so. This is the species that is killed in great numbers 
among the salt-marshes in the neighbourhood of Atlantic 
City, ]Sr. J. It takes its name — longirostris, long bill, and 
crepitans, crepitating, clattering — from the extra length 
of its bill and the incessant noise that it makes, especially 
in the breeding-season. These Kails have a most ludicrous 
gait, tipping forward as they run. 



Virginia Bail: JRallus virginianus, 

Plate 67. Fig. 2. 

Length : variable, 8.50-10.50 inches. 

Male and Female : General tone streaky and reddish. Above dark 
brown plainly streaked with olive, a white line from the bill 
extending over the eye. Throat white. Below bright reddish ; 
wings dark brown ; coverts chestnut ; tail dark brown barred 
with white. 

Season : A common summer resident, breeding on the salt-marshes. 
Sometimes winters. 

Breeds: Northward from Pennsylvania. 

Nest: A slight mat of grasses in a clump of reeds near water, 
usually in an inaccessible place. 

Eggs : 6-8, resembling those of the last species. 

Mange : North America, from the British Provinces south to Guate- 
mala. 

A very pretty species, having a general ruddy tint and 
being abundant both in fresh and salt marshes. It is 

246 



PLATE 67. 




1. WILSON'S SNIPE. 
Length, 10.50-11.50 inches. 



2. VIRGINIA RAIL. 

Length, 8.50-10.50 inches. 



SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. RaUa 

known locally as the Little Ked Kail and is a perfect copy, 
in miniature, of the King Rail, which only visits us 
casually, but is well kno^vn from the Middle States south- 
ward. The Virginia Rail is very shy and will always hide, 
if possible, instead of flying, and it has the faculty of run- 
ning across water upon a few floating sticks and bits of litter. 
Dr. Coues, in his "Birds of the Northwest," in describing 
a night scene in Arizona near the Mojave River, where he 
suffered many hardships, speaks of the haunts of the Rail 
thus : " At nightfall some Mallard and Teal settled into the 
rushes, gabbling curious vespers as they went to rest. A 
few Marsh Wrens appeared on the edge of the reeds, 
queerly balancing themselves on the thread-like leaves, see- 
sawing to their own quaint music. Then they were hushed, 
and as darkness settled down, the dull, heavy croaking of 
the frogs played bass to the shrill falsetto of the insects. 
Suddenly they too were hushed in turn, frightened may be, 
into silence; and from the heart of the bullrushes, 'crik- 
crik-rik-k-k-k,' lustily shouted some wide-awake Rail, to be 
answered by another and another, till the reeds resounded. 
. . . The Rails are, partially at least, nocturnal. During 
such moonlight nights as they are on the alert, patrolling 
the marshes through the countless ways among the reeds, 
stopping to cry, ^ all's well ' as they pass on, or to answer 
the challenge of a distant watchman. That they feed by 
night, as well as by day, cannot be doubted. Their habit 
of skulking and hiding in the most inaccessible places they 
frequent renders them difiicult of observation, and they are 
usually considered rarer than they really are." 

Sora: Porzana Carolina. 

Carolina Rail. 



Length : 8-9 inches. 

Male and Female : Bill only | inch long, straight and stout. Above 
olive, brownish, and black, many feathers having white edges 
and with black and white barring on the flanks. Breast slate- 
247 



Gallinule SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. 

colour, with some black on the centre of the throat. Tail 
dusky brown, darkest in centre, and almost pointed. 

Season : Summer resident. 

Breeds : Freely from the Middle States northward ; in brackish and 
salt marshes. 

Nest : In reeds, near water ; a slight mat of marsh-grass, etc. 

Uggs : Distinguishable from other species by the distinct drab ground- 
colouring. 

Bange: Temperate North America, but most common east of the 
Plains. South, in winter, to the West Indies and northern 
South America. 

The common Eail of gunners, a little larger than the 
moulted Bobolink or Reedbird, with which it is closely- 
associated in the southern marshes, sharing with it the 
name of Ortolan. 

The flesh of this Eail is tender and sweet, but rather 
tasteless, unless an artificial flavour is imparted to it in the 
cooking. Its value as an article of food, as in the case of 
many Eeedbirds, depends upon the curiously enthusiastic 
taste of gourmands, and, as with the Bobolink, it seems a 
waste of powder, as well as of exuberant life, to kill them, 
the edible result being a pitiful mouthful of gritty, shot- 
filled flesh, stabbed through by a skewer, and merely serv- 
ing to lengthen some weary dinner where a collection of 
animal and vegetable bric-a-brac takes the place of satisfac- 
tory nourishment. 

Florida Gallinule : Gallinula galeata. 

Blue Rail; Redrbilled Mud Hen. 

Length : 12-14 inches. 

Male and Female: Head and neck bluish gray, back olive-brown, 
wings and tail dark. Beneath dark gray, grading to white 
on belly. Bill and frontal plate red. 

Season: Summer resident of the Housatonic River. Twelve eggs 
taken at Stratford June 25, 1891, by Mr. W. H. Lucas. 

Breeds : Through its range, but only casually in the northern part. 

Nest : A platform of broken and matted reeds, built up to form a hol- 
low nest, seeming oftentimes to rest on the water, as it is moored 
to shifting reeds. 

248 



SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. Coot 

Eggs : Numerous ; often 14. 

Bange : Temperate and tropical America, from Canada to Brazil and 
Chili. 

TMs Gallinule, which inhabits both salt and fresh marshes, 
is called Blue Eail by sportsmen because, at a little distance, 
the various tints of its plumage merge in a grayish blue. A 
feature of the family of Gallinules (which is a sub-family 
under Kails) is the bare horny shield upon the forehead 
and the very large, unioehhed feet. 

American Coot : Fulica atnericana. 

White-hilled Mud Hen; Crow Duck, 

Length : 14-16 inches. 

Male and Female : Dark slate above, head and neck almost black. 

Whole edge of wing and tips of some quills white. Below paler 

gray, tail dark brown. Bill flesh-white with a slight rusty black 

mark at the tip. Feet pale dull green. 
Season : Abundant spring migrant. 
Breeds: Locally all through range, in marshy spots near sluggish 

creeks and rivers. 
Nest : Like that of the last species. 
Eggs: A dozen or more, shaped like Hen's eggs, ground gray with 

dark brown spots from the size of a pinhead to the size of a 

pea. 
Bange : North America, from Greenland and Alaska southward to the 

West Indies and Central America. 

A bird of like appearance to the Florida Gallinule, having 
a similar but smaller frontal plate. The feet, however, are 
constructed for swimming, all the toes being supplied with 
flaps. 

Its nesting-habits are very interesting, being akin to those 
of the Grebes, and Dr. Coues writes graphically of them in 
his " Birds of the Northwest." 



240 



Am. Bittern SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. 

ORDER HERODIONES : HERONS, ETC. 

FAMILY ARDEID^: HERONS, BITTERNS, ETC. 
American Bittern : Botaurus lentiginosus* 

/Stake Driver. 

Plate 68. 

Length : Exceedingly variable, from 23-34 inches. (Coues.) 

Male and Female : Above yellowish brown, much streaked and mottled 
with different shades of brown, from dark to light. Below 
buffy white, the feathers striped and edged with brown. Tail 
brown, small, and rounded. Bill yellow, edged with black ; 
legs yellow-green. 

Note: Several harsh sounds and a note resembling the blow of a 
mallet in driving a stake, hence its name Stake Driver. 

Season : Summer resident ; May to November. Not common. 

Breeds : Through range north of Virginia. In pairs, not in colonies. 

Nest : A rude affair on the ground. 

JEggs : 3-5, grayish brown. 

Bange : Temperate North America, south to Guatemala and the West 
Indies. 

This is the solitary Heron, of whom Hamilton Gibson 
says, "many have heard the Stake Driver, but who shall 
locate the stake?" It inhabits the loneliest bogs and 
marshes and is the Booming Bittern to which Thoreau so 
often refers. 

Except in the breeding-season, it is an entirely solitary 
bird, and utterly averse to companionship. One of its 
habits, when disturbed in its reedy hiding places, is to 
stand motionless with its bill pointing skyward, thus merg- 
ing completely with the surrounding marsh growth. 

The American Bittern is not a nocturnal feeder, though 
his retiring habits lead people to think so ; he probably mi- 
grates by night, but that is all. He seems to be a rather 
sluggish, selfish character, mysterious to us ; simply because 
we cannot fathom his plan of existence. He eats and drinks, 

250 



PLATE 68. 




AMERICAN BITTERN. 

Lenojth variable. 23-34 inches. 



SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. Least Bittern 

but is never merry, and maintains a stoical silence even, in 
the midst of a bog of plenty ; a table fairly overladen with 
the frogs, lizards, snakes, etc., that his appetite craves. His 
long legs, which trail awkwardly behind him in flight, are 
said to act as a rudder to direct his course. 



Least Bittern : Ardetta exilis. 

Length : 11-14 inches. 

Male : Top of head, which is slightly crested, and back rich, greenish 
black. Back of neck chestnut brown, also wing coverts and 
the edges of some quills. Tail like back. Below muddy 
yellow, with dark brown patches on sides of breast, and some 
white around the throat. Bill, eyes, and toes yellow. 

Female : Purplish chestnut above. 

Season : Summer resident, breeding near Stratford on the Housatonic. 

Breeds : Through range in marshes in company with the Rails. 

Nest : On a mat of old rushes a foot or two above ground. 

Eggs : Usually 4, of a livid hue. 

Bange : Temperate North America, from the British Provinces to the 
West Indies and northern South America. 

The Least Bittern, the smallest of its family, has a 
curiously hybrid appearance, and is not easy to place; it 
is shy and always hiding in the reeds, and even when you 
catch a glimpse of it, the resemblance to a Rail is confus- 
ing. You may startle them when looking for Marsh Wrens' 
nests, and, as they shoot up from the reeds for a moment, 
before settling again, you will have your best chance of 
identifying them. After being once disturbed, and seeing 
the cause, they remain wisely in seclusion, and no amount 
of poking and thrashing will drive them out. 

As with the majority of Shore and Water Birds, it is 
almost impossible to go afoot to their breeding-haunts. A 
canvas duck boat, easily carried, hip boots, and a water and 
mosquito proof disposition are necessary for anything 
more than the most casual study of these birds in their 
haunts. 



261 



Blue Heron SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. 

Great Blue Heron : Ardea herodias. 

Blue Crane. 

Plate 69. 

Length : 42-50 inches. 

Male and Female: Long, black crest, the two longest feathers of 
which are shed in the summer moult. Upper parts and tail 
bluish slate, below black and white streaked, forehead and 
crown white. Feathers about neck long and loose. Bill yel- 
low and dusky ; legs and feet dark. This Heron can be recog- 
nized by its great size and bluish slate back ; it is not distinctly 
blue at all. 

Season : Common, nearly resident, may breed. (Averill.) 

Breeds : Locally through range. 

Nest : Usually a nide pile of sticks in a tree. 

Bggs : 3, large, and of a dull bluish green. 

Mange: North America from the Arctic regions, southward to the 
West Indies and northern South America. 

Without question the Great Blue Heron, locally called 
the Blue Crane, is one of the most picturesque birds that 
we have in New England, and only divides the honours 
with the Bald Eagle and the Great Horned and Snow Owls. 
In many places they appear in small flocks, but I have 
never seen them here, except as individuals or occasionally 
in pairs. They are wild, suspicious birds, and yet, if they 
think themselves unobserved, they will stand almost motion- 
less by the side of a small stream or pond half a day at 
a time, only bending the long neck at intervals to seize some 
frog or other edible. You may stand by a smooth mill-pond 
walled by trees that hang into the water. Through many 
gaps the distant meadows stretch, almost as smooth as the 
pond, but of a different hue ; it is a lovely, placid scene, but 
needs a bit of life to draw it to a focus. Look a second 
time ; upon the muddy edge of one of the little islands, in 
bold relief, sphinx-like, stands a solitary Blue Heron, and 
you at once understand why Egypt gave reverence to the 
Ibis. Deliberately it spreads its wings that winnow six 
feet of air, and flies slowly across the water, its legs hang- 
ing like twin reeds with clawing roots. 

252 . 



SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. Green Heron 

Green Heron: Ardea virescens. 

Poke. 

Length : 16-18 inches. 

Male and Female : Head with lengthened crest. Above dark glossy 
green, sometimes with an iridescence. Edging of wing coverts 
reddish. Neck a rich shade of chestnut, with a purplish wash, 
white streak at the throat, and under parts whitish, shading to 
ash below. Legs and bill yellowish. 

Season : Common summer resident. 

Breeds : Through its North American range. 

Nest : Of sticks in a tree, seldom high up. 

Eggs : 3-6, pale green. 

Bange : Canada and Oregon, southward to northern South America 
and the West Indies ; rare in the arid interior. 

That this Heron is the commonest and best known of its 
family, is attested by the numerous local names it bears. 
"Fly-up-the-creek," "Chalk-line/^ and "Chuckle-head" being 
a few of the list to which every small boy feels it his duty 
to add one, usually of a very uncomplimentary nature. 

When seen in the breeding-season, at short range, the 
plumage of these Herons is very lustrous and beautiful, but 
when on the wing the iridescence of the feathers is invisible 
and the receding head, accentuated by the long crest, and 
the poking bill give the birds an idiotic expression. 

In many places they breed in communities called Heron- 
ries ; but here usually in single pairs, in the wooded strip 
that runs from the marsh lane to the eastward of Wakeman's 
Island. The Green Heron is a great believer in ventilation, 
and its nest always reminds me of the boy's definition of a 
sieve, which he said was " a sort of round thing made mostly 
of holes." The sticks of the nest are so few and far be- 
tween that one would imagine the current of air passing 
between would prevent the eggs from hatching. I saw a 
nest last spring that had listed so that one of the eggs lay 
broken on the ground, and there is a very good story told 
about a nest that was such a shaky concern that every time 
the old birds jarred it a stick fell off, and the structure grew 

263 



Night Heron SHORE AND MARSH BIRDS. 

smaller and smaller, until the day when the young were 
ready to fly there were but three sticks left ; finally these 
parted and the little Herons found themselves perching on 
the branch that once held the nest ! 

This species feeds upon frogs, small fish, insects, the 
larvae of the dragon-fly, etc. They are not strictly nocturnal, 
but feed largely at dawn and dusk. 

Black- crowned Night Heron : Nycticorax nycticorax 
ncBvius. 

Qua Bird; Quawk. 

Plate 70. 

Length : 23-26 inches. 

Male and Female : Above either dull or greenish black ; tail, wings, 
and neck grayish. Throat and forehead whitish. Below livid 
white. Crest of three long, white feathers rolled into one. 
Bill black ; legs yellow. 

Season : Common summer resident ; April to October. 

Breeds : Southward from New Brunswick. 

Nest: Nest not large, built in a very slovenly manner in treetops, 
usually in communities. 

JEggs : 3-4, pale sea-green. 

Bange : America, from the British Provinces southward to the Falk- 
land Islands, including part of the West Indies. 

Another common Heron, only second to the Green, in 
abundance. Here it frequents inland ponds in preference 
to the salt-marshes, and, though I have not found its nests, 
I have seen the birds all the way from Mill River to Bed- 
ding under circumstances that point to their breeding in 
single pairs. 

They are nocturnal, as the name indicates, and when 
you come upon them in their roosts by daylight they are 
dazed and sleepy, and use an effort to pull themselves to- 
gether, but at twilight their heavy, dark bodies may be 
seen flying overhead, identified beyond question by the cry, 
" quok-quok," uttered at regular intervals. The sound is much 
like that emitted by the kid bellows of a child's toy rooster, 
and is the gazoo of the night orchestra. The skirl and 
boom of the Nighthawk have an eery sound, and the Whip- 

254 



PLATE 70. 




BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON. 



SWIMMING BIRDS. Ducka 

poor-will's cry is filled with vague foreboding; the Night 
Heron's merely suggests that he has half swallowed a 
particularly unappetizing frog, and wishes to uns wallow it. 

This is the most gregarious of all the Herons. Dr. Wood 
tells of a swamp some miles from East Windsor, Conn., 
which was the breeding-place of thousands. Samuels knew 
of a Heronry near Dedham, Mass., where a hundred pairs 
were collected in the space of an acre, and he at once 
realized the force of Wilson's comment on a like congrega- 
tion, that, " The noise of the old and the young would almost 
induce one to suppose that two or three hundred Indians 
were throttling each other." 

As the birds resort, year after year, to the same crowded 
breeding-grounds, it can be easily imagined that these 
Heronries are not the most attractive places for ornitho- 
logical research. 

I had very much doubted the present existence of such 
extensive colonies in populous regions, but Mr. Chapman in 
his " Guide to the Birds found near New York," which has 
been mentioned before, says, " There is a colony containing 
about one thousand pairs not far from New York City." 

ORDER ANSERES: LAMELLIROSTRAL 
SWIMMERS .1 

FAMILY ANATID^ : DUCKS, GEESE, ETC. 

SUB-FA3IILT MeRGIN^E: MERGANSERS. 

American Merganser: Merganser atnericanus. 

Fish Duck. 

Length: 23.50-27 inches. 

Male : Bill toothed, chiefly red. Head slightly crested, and with upper 
neck very dark glossy green ; upper half of back black. Below, 
breast and part of the neck white, belly salmon. Wings largely 
white, banded with black. 

1 Term derived from the plan of bill, which is lamellate, signifying 
that the mandibles are furnished with a series of laminar or saw-toothed 
projections fitting into each other. 

256 



Ducks SWIMMING BIRDS. 

Female : Smaller. Above brown and asli-gray, slightly crested. 
Season: "Common winter resident from November to April." 

(Averill. ) 
Breeds : North of the United States. 
Bange : North America generally. 

" In buying a Duck notice the bill, that it be not cylin- 
drical, hooked, or saw-toothed." This is good advice, for 
the mission of the Wild Duck, as far as society in general 
is concerned, seems to be the epicure's table, where it 
appears in various stages of rawness, according to the 
name under which it has been sold. There are many 
Ducks that are totally unfit for food, and the Merganser 
is one of these, being a '' Fishing Duck," and able to fol- 
low its prey under water. It is a gluttonous bird, gorging 
itself with such quantities of fish, frogs, etc., as to render 
its flesh exceedingly rank. It is beautifully feathered, how- 
ever, and frequently figures in dining-rooms on the orna- 
mental panels of stuffed Game-birds. 

Another species associating with this is the Eed-breasted 
Merganser, which hardly differs from it save in the redness 
of the upper breast and in having a long, pointed crest. 
Both species inhabit the vicinity of fresh and salt water alike. 

Sdb-familt Anatin^ : River Ducks.i 
Mallard: Anas hoschas. 

Plate 71. 

Length : 24 inches. 

Male : Bill greenish yellow ; head and upper part of neck brilliant, 
glossy green, a white colar dividing it from the chestnut-brown 
of the lower neck. Under parts and sides pale gray, waved 
with darker. Back reddish brown at top, growing dull near 
tail. Tail coverts black ; tail mostly white ; wings gray, white, 
and black. Speculum'^ shaded purple, bordered with black. 
Feet orange-red. 

1 Ducks feeding largely upon juicy vegetable matter, and not diving 
for their food. Feet smaller than those of the Sea Ducks, and more suited 
for walking. 

2 The secondary quills of the wings of Ducks usually exhibit patches of 
varied or iridescent colour ; this coloured patch is called the speculum. 

256 



SWIMMING BIRDS. Ducks 

Female : Dull ; under parts yellowish, blotched faintly with dusky ; 

above back, brown ; some feathers with rusty edges. Head and 

neck mottled like under parts. 
Season : A wandering visitor, taken occasionally in the autumn on 

the Housatonic at Stratford. 
Breeds : Northward from the Northern States, more frequently in the 

interior. 
Nest : Of dry grass, weeds, and feathers, on the ground near the water. 
Eggs : 8-10, yellow, gray. 
Bange : Northern part of Northern Hemisphere. In America south 

in winter to Panama and Cuba. 

A very handsome and notable game Duck, living chiefly 
on vegetable diet, and having delicate flesh ; plentiful around 
the Great Lakes. 

Black Duck: Anas obscura. 

Length : 22 inches. 

Male and Female : Bill greenish yellow. Above dusky, but not black ; 
feathers edged with rusty brown. Neck, throat, and sides of 
head streaked with grayish and dark. Below brownish. Specu- 
lum violet and black ; in the male tipped with white. Legs red. 

Season : A resident, but more plentiful in the migrations. 

Breeds : From New Jersey to Labrador. 

Nest : A mat of marsh grasses on the ground. 

Eggs : 8-10, a drab yellow. 

Bange : Eastern North America, west to Utah and Texas, north to 
Labrador. 

This Black Duck (which is not black) is a great favourite 
among sportsmen, on account of its delicately flavoured 
flesh. It is plentiful about the larger ponds all through the 
autumn, and I have seen it on the mill-pond in December 
when there was thin ice on the margin. 

The late Dr. Charles Slover Allen gives a delightful 
account of its breeding-habits on Plum Island, in T7ie 
Auk of January, 1893, from which the following is a par- 
agraph : — 

"Early in the morning. May 27 (1888), I saw a Rail dodge into a 
little clump from the water's edge, and in trying to find it I stepped 
into the Duck's nest, flushing the bird and partly breaking one of the 
s 257 



Ducks SWIMMING BIRDS. 

eleven eggs it contained. They were uncovered, though embedded in 
down, and several were already pipped. The old bird soon came 
back to the marsh and suddenly appeared in the clear water from 
behind some bushes and tried to entice me away. After cutting 
away some of the branches concealing the nest, I started back along 
the causeway so as to bring my camera from the lighthouse. I had 
gone but a hundred yards or so when another Black Duck appeared 
swimming in a clear patch of water far out in the centre of the 
marsh. It vanished behind a grassy ridge and then took wing. 
Although I had no boots I waded out and examined a tuft of bushes 
and grass far back in the direction from which the Duck was swim- 
ming. This bird had undoubtedly been startled by the outcries of 
the first, and had quietly left her nest, only showing herself when at a 
distance. In this nest, fairly covered with down, were four young 
already hatched and not dry as yet, and six eggs rapidly hatching in the 
hot sun. "When I returned to this nest with the camera an hour later, 
every egg had hatched and nothing but the empty shells remained. I 
could find nowhere the slightest trace of the birds, young or old." 

Green-winged Teal: Anas carolinensis, 

Plate 72. 

Length : 14 inches. 

Male and Female : Slightly crested. Head and neck rich chestnut, 
with a band of green on either side behind the eyes. Above 
waved bars of black and white. Wings dull gray. Speculum 
half purplish black and half a rich green, other wing feathers 
having chestnut, white, and purplish markings. Below whitish, 
turning to pale brown on the breast, clouded with distinct black 
spots ; throat and sides waved black and white, like the back. 
Bill black ; feet grayish. Female with less green on the wings 
and no crest ; mottled brownish above. 

Season: Common fall migrant about the Housatonic at Stratford; 
September and October. 

Breeds : Chiefly north of the United States. 

Mange : North America ; migrates south to Honduras and Cuba. 

The Teal Ducks are two very small species, with beautiful 
plumage and sweet, delicate flesh, which latter quality is 
accounted for by the fact that their food is mainly vegeta- 
ble, — the seeds of numerous grasses, sedges, and other 
aquatics, small fruits and berries. They also eat grasshop- 
pers and many other insects, and tadpoles as well. They 
are preferably fresh-water Ducks. 

258 



SWIMMING BIRDS. Ducks 

Samuels lias seen the Green-winged Teal associate with 
the Ducks in a farmer's yard or pond, and has known them 
to come into the barnyard with tame fowls and share the 
corn thrown out for their food. Every fall I have seen them 
flying over the garden by twos and threes, evidently mak- 
ing their way from the interior toward the coast, which they 
follow very closely in their migration. Oftentimes they fly 
so low that the peculiar reedy whistling of their wings can 
be plainly heard. 

Blue-winged Teal: Anas discors. 

Length : 15-16 inches. ^^^^te 73. 

Male and Female : Bill blackish. Head and neck purplish lead-colour, 
black crown, small white crescent before each eye. Back varie- 
gated dark brown and yellowish brown, and rump dark greenish 
brown. Wing coverts dull sky blue. Speculum beautiful green, 
between white bars. Below violet-gray, spotted with black on 
the breast and barred on the flanks. Feet light-coloured. Fe- 
male much the same, the head being dusky, but retaining the 
bright wing markings. Other markings less distinct. 

Season : Common in the fall migration with last species. 

Breeds : From the northern United States northward. 

Bange: North America in general, but chiefly east of the Rocky 
Mountains ; north to Alaska and south to the West Indies and 
northern South America. 

Eesembling the last species in general habits, but in this 
vicinity it is neither as tame nor as plentiful. Though 
it prefers fresh ponds, it is more frequently found about 
salt creeks than the Green-winged. It has been known to 
breed in New England, and Giraud notes it as breeding on 
Long Island also. 

Pintail: Dafila acuta* 

Sprig-tail, 
Plate 79. Fig. 1. 

Length : Variable ; sometimes 30 inches, according to the development 

of the tail. 
Male : Bill bluish black. Head and half of neck greenish brown ; 

black and white stripe on either side of neck. Back and sides 
259 



Ducks SWIMMING BIRDS. 

waved with soft gray and black. Wings generally gray ; specu- 
lum purplish green between white, a bar in front, and a black 
and white bar behind. Tail long, black and gray. Below 
whitish, with black wavings on the sides. Feet lead-blue. 

Female : Wing markings faint, only a trace of the speculum ; tail 
shorter; generally mottled above with black and yellowish 
brown; below pale ochre-brown. 

Season : Migrant ; not rare at Stratford, Conn. 

Breeds : Northward from the northern United States. 

Nest : Of litter on the ground. 

Eggs : 6-12, greenish clay colour. 

Mange : Northern Hemisphere ; migrates south to Panama and Cuba. 

Very graceful Ducks of trim build and beautifully mot- 
tled feathers, long body and well-poised head. Their flesh 
is excellent, and they are much sought after by the sports- 
men who go southward for the late fall shooting. 

According to Wilson, it is a bird of mud flats and shallow, 
fresh-water marshes ; and, unlike other Ducks, which when 
alarmed scatter in different directions, the Sprig-tails mount^ 
clustering confusedly together, and thus give the sportsmen 
a good opportunity of raking them. 



Wood Duck : Aix sponsa. 

Summer Duck. 

Plate 3. Page 21. 

Length : 18-20 inches. 

Male : A sweeping crest of golden green like the head, sides of head 
with much purple iridescence. White stripe from reddish bill 
to the eye, and from behind eye to throat. Front of neck 
and upper breast ruddy, with white specks, other lower parts 
white ; a black and white crescent before the wings, sides more 
or less waved with black, white, and yellowish. Above brilliant 
iridescent hues, — purple, bronze, green, etc. ; speculum green. 
Feathers on flanks lengthened, and variegated black and white. 
Legs and feet yellowish. 

Female : Crest slight or wanting. Gray head and neck, below mottled 
gray, brown, and white, above glossy brown. Wings like the 
male, but the contrasts much reduced. 

Note : " Peet-peet, oe eek ! oe eek ! " 

Season : A summer resident. 

260 



SWIMMING BIRDS. Ducks 

Breeds : Through its range. 

Kest : Usually a feather-lined hollow in a partly decayed tree, near 

water and often at a considerable distance from the ground. 
Eggs : A dozen or more, varying according to the age of the bird, 

either greenish, clay-coloured, or pale buff, and smooth. 
Range : North America, wintering in the Southern States. 

This is the most beautiful of the native Ducks, taking its 
specific name, sponsa, betrothed, from the richness of its 
plumage, which gives it a bridal or festive appearance. It 
is a fresh-water Duck, and exclusively so in the selection of 
its breeding-haunts. 

It arrives from the first to the middle of April, and locates 
either in deep woods near water, or in narrow wooded belts 
that follow the course of small rivers. Sometimes a hole in 
a horizontal limb is chosen for the nest that seems far too 
small to hold the duck's plump body ; occasionally it utilizes 
the hole of an Owl or Woodpecker, the entrance to which 
has been enlarged by decay. Many stories are told of their 
attachment to their breeding-places, but an incident which 
happened a dozen miles from here illustrates it as well as 
any. For several years a pair of Wood Ducks had made 
their nest in the hollow of a hickory which stood on the 
bank, half a dozen yards from Mill River. In preparing to 
dam the river near this point in order to supply water to 
a neighbouring city, the course of the river was diverted, 
leaving the old bed an eighth of a mile behind. The water 
might move if it chose, but not the Ducks, who continued to 
breed in the old place. 

The young are frequently carried in the bill of their 
parents from the nest to the water's edge, — if the nest is 
not directly over the water, where the little birds, who leave 
the nest as soon as hatched, can easily drop to it, breaking 
their fall by extending their wings. 

Audubon says that when the nest is forty yards or more 
from water, the young are led in the right direction by 
their parents. This must have been the way that the Ducks 
I mentioned regained the diverted stream ; for the height 
and density of the trees between it and the nest would have 

, 261 



Ducks SWIMMING BIRDS. 

made it impossible for the parent to fly with a duckling in 
her beak. 

The drake does not assist in the labours of incubation and 
the female is left in the lurch in the same manner as the 
Partridge. 

Sub-family Fuligulinje: Sea Ducks. ^ 
Kedhead: Ayfhya atnericana, 

American Pochard. 

Plate 74. 

Length : 20-23 inches. 

Male : Not crested, head and neck a warm chestnut ; bill dull bluish 
with black terminal band. Above ash waved with black lines, 
giving a silvery hue. Below white, waved with black ; lower 
neck, fore parts of body and lower tail coverts blackish. Tail 
grayish brown. Wings gray with white specks ; speculum whit- 
ish ash, bordered with black. 

Female : " Wholly brown forehead and cheeks tinged with red." 

Season : A migrant ; rare at Stratford according to Mr. Averill, but I 
have seen it several times on the Fairfield marsh- meadows. 

Breeds : Northward from California and Maine. 

Bange : North America. 

The common Wild Duck of our markets which often, 
when deprived of its identifying feathers, goes masquerad- 
ing as the Canvasback, with whom it associates. 

Canvasback : Aythya vallisneHa, 

Length : 20-22 inches. 

Male : Bill blackish, 2^ inches long, or not shorter than the head. 
Above waved black and white, head tinged with black in front, 
and a rich glossy chestnut neck and back to head. A brovm- 
ish black collar across upper breast, below whitish ; sides dusky. 
Tail slatish, feathers pointed. Speculum white. 

Season : Rare fall and winter migrant. 

1 Feet fully webbed, large flap on hind toe, rapid swimmers, but awk- 
ward on land. Feed largely upon animal food, and their flesh, with a 
few notable exceptions, is rather coarse if not as rank as the fish-eating 
species. 



SWIMMING BIRDS. Ducks 

Breeds : From the Northern States northward to Alaska. 
Bange : Nearly all of North America, wintering from the Chesapeake 
southward. 

The favourite Duck of dinner parties and suppers, where it 
divides the honours with diamond-backed terrapin. The par- 
ticular flavour of its flesh, when at certain seasons it feeds on 
vallisneria, or wild celery (which is not celery at all, but an 
eel-grass) won its fame. But as this eel-grass is a local 
plant, not growing all through the range of the Canvas- 
back, and as when the celery is lacking it eats frogs, lizards, 
tadpoles, fish, etc., a certificate of residence should be sold 
with every pair to insure the inspiring flavour. 

The biography of this Duck belongs rather to the cook- 
book than a bird list, and in fact even its most learned 
biographers refer mainly to its eatable qualities, and Dr. 
Coues even takes away its character from that standpoint, 
saying, "There is little reason for squealing in barbaric 
joy over this over-rated and generally underdone bird ; not 
one person in ten thousand can tell it from any other duck 
on the table, and only then under the celery circumstances." 

American Scaup Duck: Aythya marila nearctica, 

Broadrbill 

Length : 20 inches. 

Male: Heavy, broad, bluish bill. No crest. Above, upper back 
glossy black with washes of green and purple. Below white, with 
black wavings near the vent. Lower part of back waved with 
black and white ; speculum white. Bluish feet ; claws black. 

Female : Head and fore parts rusty brown, upper parts rusty black, 
with some white wavings. Below white, and a conspicuous 
white patch on forehead. 

Season : A migrant ; common in March and April, October and Novem- 
ber, sometimes wintering. 

Breeds : Inland, north from Manitoba. 

Bange : North America in general. 

An abundant Duck, visiting the bays in great flocks, being 
especially abundant about the Chesapeake. As it does not 
eat fish, and subsists to some extent upon seeds and tender 

263 



Ducka SWIMMING BIRDS. 

aquatic plants, its flesh is edible, and is prized next to that 
of the Canvas-back Duck. 

American Golden-eye: Glaucionetta clangula 
americana. 

Whistler. 
Length : 17-20 inches. 
Male: Head with puffy feathers, and neck glossy green. Above 

blackish ; below generally whitish. Much white on the wings. 

Iris golden yellow, a round, white spot before the eye. Feet 

orange-coloured ; bill black, tipped with yellow. 
Female : Head snuff-brown, upper parts brownish, lower parts marked 

with grayish ; less white on wings. 
Season : Common winter resident. 
Breeds : From Maine northward. 
Bange : North America, in winter south to Cuba. 

The American Golden-eye and the three following species 
are Sea Ducks whose Tank and fishy-smelling flesh excludes 
them from the list of Game Ducks. They are seen about the 
creeks and beaches at a time when there is little bird life 
present, and are interesting on this account. The "Whistler 
is a title the Golden-eye receives, from the loud noise made 
by its wings during flight, which is accomplished with 
wonderful velocity. 

Bufflehead: Charitonetta albeola. 



Length: 12.75-15 inches. 

Male: Above black, neck, shoulders, and all below white. Head 

puffy, purplish green, with a large white patch on the nape 

extending to front of eyes. Wings largely white ; tail black. 

Bill short, about 1 inch. 
Female: Above blackish with white streak on each side of head, 

below whitish. 
Season : Winter resident ; November to April. 

Breeds : From Maine northward through the Fur Countries to Alaska. 
Bange : North America, south in winter to Cuba and Mexico. 

A handsomely plumed Duck with a puffy head ; to be 
found by inland ponds and rivers that remain unfrozen, as 

?64 



SWIMMING BIRDS. Ducks 

well as on the coast. It is a cunning diver, and obtains its 
food in this way; it is said, that the Bufflohoad, like the 
Grebes and Loons, will dive at the flash of a gnn, and re- 
main under water with its bill alone visible. 

Samuels writes that, "When several of these birds are 
together, one always remains on the surface, while the others 
are below in search of food, and, if alarmed, it utters a short 
quack, when the others rise to the surface, and on ascertain- 
ing the cause of the alarm, all dive and swim off rapidly to 
the distance of several hundred feet." 

Old Squaw: Clangula Tiy emails* 

The Old Wife. 
Plate 75. 

Length : Depending on the tail development, up to 23 inches. 

Male : In winter^ head and neck white, with gray cheeks ; above 
varied with black and white. Breast blackish ; belly white. 
Four middle tail feathers blackish and very long. Wings gray- 
ish ; no speculum. Bill black, tipped with orange ; feet dark. 

Female : Dusky brown, paler on throat, whitish below. White patch 
around eye and on side of neck. 

Season : Common winter resident. 

Breeds : Far north. 

Bange : Northern Hemisphere ; in North America south to the Poto- 
mac and the Ohio. 

A clamouring, noisy Duck, but also having a sonorous 
musical voice. It has the same habit of diving as the 
Bufflehead, and is even less particular about its food than 
the last two species. It locates usually on the reedy creek 
bars and inlets from Long Island Sound. Dr. Coues says it 
frequents large inland waters ; and Professor Koch, that it is 
a visitor on the Susquehanna Eiver in April. 

American Scoter : Oidemia americana. 

Booby; Sea Coot. 
Length : 17-20 inches. 

Male : Entire plumage blackish, the back and neck being more or 
less glossy. Bill tumid or bulging at base, and parti-coloured. 
265 



Canada Goose SWIMMING BIRDS. 

Female: Dingy brown, some white on the sides of head, below dirty 

white. Dark feet ; bill not swollen. 
Season : Fall migrant, staying well into winter. 
Breeds : From Labrador northward. 
Bange : Coasts and larger lakes of northern North America ; south, 

in winter, to New Jersey, the Great Lakes, and California. 

This Coot has no beauty of plumage either in male or 
female, is wonderfully tough and inedible, and is often 
sold by unscrupulous gunners to ignorant housewives as 
Black Duck. I know of a young housekeeper who bought 
a pair under these circumstances. The difficulties began 
when the Coots were plucked, every feather offering sepa- 
rate resistance. The legs and wings seemed held firm by 
brass rivets, and were immovable, and the cook made scep- 
tical remarks, which, however, passed unheeded. But when 
the ^^ Black Ducks ^' appeared nicely browned on the table, 
the illusion was broken ; it was impossible to carve them ; 
even the breast yielded only a creaking chip. The next 
day the dog tried one of them, and used it as a plaything 
for some time, shaking it, and occasionally giving it a hope- 
less gnaw. Then it was removed with the swill, being still 
intact, and the man cut it in half with an axe, to see if it 
could be done. 

All this unscientific research goes to prove that the Amer- 
ican Coot is a strongly built and most muscular bird, and 
that his use in the world is best known to himself, but that 
as a table delicacy he is a failure, and that in one household 
the mention of his name is prohibited. 

SUB-FAMILT ANSERINiE: GeESE. 

Canada Goose: Branta canadensis^ 

Wild Goose. 

Plate 76. 

Length : 3 feet or more. 

Male and Female : Dark ash ; head, neck, and tail black ; cheeks 
and throat white ; bill and feet black. Short, rounded tail of 
pointed feathers. Wings dark brownish, with paler edges. 
Below a dirty white. Bill and feet black. Female paler. 



PLATE 76. 




CANADA GOOSE. 
Length, 3 feet or more. 



SWIMMING BIRDS. Brant 

Season : Familiar winter resident, but most common in the fall mi- 
gration, when numbers remain until very cold weather, and 
return all through the early spring. 

Breeds : Chiefly northward, but sometimes in the northern United 
States. 

Bange : Temperate North America, south in winter to Mexico. 

Tliis Wild Goose, even when only seen casually, is easily 
identified by its great size, being almost twice as large as 
the Brant, the only other common species. Its distinctive 
mark, other than size, is a broad, white band that extends 
like a handkerchief folded cornerwise under its chin and 
tied on the top of its head. 

The flight of the Goose is heavy, but very impressive. 
Geese usually form in two columns, meeting in front on 
either side of the experienced leader, forming a wedge. In 
the late autumn of 1892, I saw this flock-formation take 
place near Weston Mill Pond shortly before dark. The 
Geese arose in a straggling column from some cat-tail flags, 
in what, to me, seemed the greatest state of confusion, but 
before they had gone a hundred feet the line had divided 
into the wedge shape, though it was rather irregular. The 
honking call seemed to come from several individuals, and 
not from the leader alone. 

Upon other occasions I have seen small flocks fly over the 
meadows in almost a straight line. The honking of Geese 
is a strange, unbird-like sound, and when they pass over at 
night and you hear the fanning of their wings it seems as 
if some sleeping cloud-goblin had awaked himself with a 
sudden snore. As these Geese feed mainly upon vegetable 
food their flesh is good, and they are perpetually harried 
by gunners. 

Brant : Branta bernicla. 



Length : About 24 inches. 

Male and Female : Head, neck, shoulders, and upper breast dark ash, 
white patch on each side of the neck. Back with a brownish 
267 



"Wilson's Petrel SWIMMING BIRDS. 

cast, much white in the tail. Under parts brownish gray with 

some white. Bill and feet black. Female smaller. 
Season : A common coastwise migrant, and in mild seasons a winter 

resident along Long Island Sound. 
Breeds : In Arctic regions. 
Jtange: Northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere. In North 

America chiefly on the Atlantic coast ; rare in the interior or 

away from salt water. 

This small Goose, hardly larger than the Red-headed 
Duckj is the common species of the Atlantic coast. It is 
not so well known among amateurs as the Canada Goose, 
but this may be accounted for by its sometimes being mis- 
taken for a Duck. Its distinguishing mark is the small, 
white patch on either side of the top of its glossy, dark neck. 
The food of the Brant is like that of the Canada Goose, 
but anything older than a bird of the year makes a very 
muscular article of food, only to be enjoyed by a jaw that 
has grown strong by much arguing, like that of Old Father 
William, according to the version of the ballad given in 
" Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." 



ORDER TUBINARES: TUBE-NOSED 
SWIMMERS. 

FAMILY PROCELLARIID^: FULMARS AND SHEAR- 
WATERS. 

Wilson's Petrel : Oceanites oceanicus. 

Stormy Petrel. 



Length : 8 inches. 

Male and Female: Bill black. Above sooty brown, blackening on 
wings and tail ; upper tail coverts white. Long black legs, the 
foot-webbing spotted with yellow. 

Season : A summer resident ; from May to late September. 

Breeds : In the South Sea Islands, in January and February, accord- 
ing to Mr. F. M. Chapman. 

Mange: Cosmopolitan. 

268 



SWIMMING BIRDS. Gulls 

The commonest Petrel of the Atlantic coast, from Dela- 
ware Bay northward ; it is the most plentiful of the three 
" Mother Carey's Chickens." The Petrels seldom visit the 
mainland in this locality, but are often seen about light- 
houses. They seem like the very spirits of wind and waves, 
dropping and whirling, resting a moment in the trough of 
the sea, and then off again, tirelessly following in the wake 
of vessels. Mr. Judson, the keeper of the Stratford light, 
kept one of these Petrels, which he caught, in captivity for 
some time. 

Another species. Leach's or the White-rumped Petrel, is 
common off the Kew England coast, where it is resident on 
some of the islands, off the coast of Maine. It lays a single 
egg in a ground burrow. This species is of the same size 
and general appearance as Wilson's, but has much longer 
legs. 



ORDER LONGIPENNES : LONG-WINGED 
SWIxMMERS. 

FAMILY LARID^: GULLS AND TERNS. 

Kittiwake Gull : Rissa tridactyla. 

Length : 16-18 inches. 

Male and Female: Bluish gray above (darker in winter), head and 

neck gray, and bill light yellow. Under parts pure white. Black 

feet, black tips to tail quills. 
Season : Winter and late fall visitor in the Middle States. In New 

England common off the coast all winter. 
Breeds: Gulf of St. Lawrence, Labrador coast, and casually off the 

Maine coast. 
Nest : By choice on rocky ledges over the water. 
Bange : Arctic regions, south in eastern North America, in winter, to 

the Great Lakes and the Middle States. 

The Kittiwake may be regarded as a winter migrant or 
visitor along the shore, where it comes in small numbers 
early in December, associating with the Herring Gulls, but 
it is plentiful from Massachusetts and Rhode Island north- 
ward. 

269 



guUb swimming birds. 

American Herring Gull : Larus argentatus 
smithsonianus. 

Winter Gull. 

Plate 77. Fig. 1. 

Length : 24-25 inches. 

Male and Female : Winter dress : above pure light gray, head and 
neck streaked with dusky, under parts and tail white, the latter 
' having an imperfect dusky bar ; wing coverts mottled with gray. 
Bill yellow. 

Season : Common winter resident, coming in late August and remain- 
ing until March. 

Breeds : From the Great Lakes and Maine northward. 

Nest : Hollow in the ground lined with a little grass or a few seaweeds. 

Eggs : 2-3, gi'ound colour dirty white, tinted with pale blue or green 
deepening to brown, with numerous brown and black spots and 
markings. 

Bange : North America generally, in winter south to Cuba and lower 
California. 

The common Gull, both of coast and interior, seen in 
great flocks about the beaches, and on the flats and sand bars 
at low water. From middle autumn until the birds in 
general are returning in the spring, these Gulls enliven the 
solitude of the shore with their chatter, and their shrilly 
high-keyed voices can be heard above the waves and storm. 

Beside being beautifully plumed and decidedly picturesque 
objects in the marine picture, they have an economic value 
which appeals even to the most unsentimental minds. They 
are excellent scavengers, taking from creeks, bays, and 
rivers, as well as from the lakes and open sea, much refuse 
that becomes unsavoury if washed ashore and left to decom- 
pose. 

liaughing Gull: Larus atricilla. 



Length : 16.50 inches. 

Male and Female: Head and neck dark slate; bill carmine. Back 

slate-colour, divided from the head by the white of the neck. 

All under parts white ; also tail coverts. Legs and feet dull 

reddish. Young, upper parts gray tinted with various browns, 

270 



PLATE 77. 




1 
1. AMERICAN HERRING GULL. 
Lensfth, 24-25 inches. 



2. COMMON TERN. 

Length, 14.50 inches. 



SWIMMING BIRDS. GxJIb 

mingled with the slate-colour of the adults on the wings, and 

clouded with gray on the breast. 
Season : A summer visitor ; once a common summer resident on Long 

Island, but now rare. 
Breeds : Off the Atlantic coast, from Maine to Florida. 
Xest : Of dried sea grasses and beach-grass stubbs. 
Eggs: 2-3, shaded olive, spotted and splashed irregularly with dull 

reddish purple, and black-brown. 
Bange : Eastern tropical and warm temperate America, chiefly along 

the sea-coast, from Maine to Brazil; Pacific coast of middle 

America. 

This Gull, taking its name from the peculiar quality of its 
cry, which is like a peal of laughter, belongs more commonly 
to the coast south of New York than to New England. It 
breeds, however, on Muskeget, and Mr. George H. Mackay 
gives an account of its habits in The Auk of October, 1893. 
He says that formerly they were much more plentiful than 
to-day, — the same sad story of all the soft-hued Water-birds 
who have been hunted even from their sea-bound homes. 
But this abuse is somewhat abating, — at least, so all bird- 
lovers hope, — and there are fewer of our native birds seen in 
millinery, and the feathers, other than Ostrich-plumes, that 
are used now are largely dyed and baked chicken feathers, 
twisted into many contortions, or queer birds with celluloid 
beaks, ugly enough to make bird-wearing unfashionable. 
Many tropical birds, however, are still used in making up 
these grotesque adornments. 



Bonaparte's Gull: Larus Philadelphia. 



Length : 14 inches. 

Male and Female : Head and upper neck dark lead-colour ; bill black ; 

back "gull-blue." Rump and tail white; also under parts. 

Wings white and gull-blue. In winter the head is white, with 

dark spots. Legs and feet light red. 
Season : Common migrant in spring and fall, and sometimes winters. 
Breeds : Mostly north of the United States. 
Bange : Whole of North America ; souths in winter, to Mexico and 

Central Anjerica. 

271 



Terns SWIMMING BIRDS. 

A very handsome little Gull, with, a darting, skimming 
flight, resembling that of the common Tern or Sea Swallow. 
It passes up the Sound in scattering flocks in early spring 
(Mr. Averill having noted large flocks April 21, 1888), and 
is frequently seen in the autumn, while individuals appear 
at intervals during the summer. It feeds upon insects and 
large beetles, as well as marine food. 

Common Tern: Sterna hirundo. 

Sea Swallow. 

Plate 77. Fig. 2. 
Length: 14.50 inches. 
Male and Female : Bill long, coral-red at base, black toward end and 

tipped with yellow. Upper head and back of neck black. 

Entire back and wings light gray with a bluish wash. Tail 

coverts, most of tail, and wing linings white ; belly and sides 

of breast grayish white ; other lower parts white. Legs and 

feet light red. 
Season : Summer resident, breeding about the eastern part of Long 

Island Sound. 
Breeds : From the Arctic coast, somewhat irregularly to Florida and 

Texas. 
Nest : None ; eggs laid on the sand and indistinguishable from those 

of other species. 
JRange : Greater part of the Northern Hemisphere. In North America 

chiefly confined to the Eastern Province, and wintering from 

Texas and Florida to southward. 

The characteristics of this Tern are the black cap, coral- 
red bill, legs, and feet. 

The Terns are not distinctly different from the Gulls, the 
size of some being identical; but the Terns have a more 
trig, thoroughbred build, and bear the same relation to the 
more ponderous Gulls that a yacht does to a trading-craft 
of equal tonnage. The Terns have long, sharply pointed 
wings that give them a Swallow-like dash in flying either 
over the surface of the water when fishing, or above the 
reed beds when searching for insects, some species being' 
partly insectivorous. This free, angled flight has given this 
species the name of Sea Swallow. 

272 



SWIMMING BIRDS. Terng 

When flying over the water in fishing, they hold their 
beaks at right angles with their bodies, instead of poking 
them forward like the Herons, which attitude makes them, 
Dr. Coues says, " curiously like colossal mosquitoes." 

Terns were very plentiful twenty years ago, but the per- 
secution for millinery purposes has thinned the ranks piti- 
fully ; and the survivors keep more and more aloof, until it 
seems as if an absolute change in the bird's range will be 
the result. 

Muskeget Island, northeast of Nantucket, is a breeding- 
place for these Terns, as well as many other Water-birds, 
and there is a guardian on the island to see that they are 
protected, especially in the breeding-season. A friend who 
visited Muskeget last July, told me that everywhere on the 
sand there were eggs in groups of two and three, and young 
Terns in various stages of growth, who were so tame that 
they allowed him to handle them as readily as kittens. The 
heat of the sun keeps the eggs warm in the daytime, and as 
soon as they are hatched the young birds go down to the 
water's edge and feed upon a glutinous substance that is 
washed up. The adults go in enormous flocks to Nantucket 
every morning and spend the day in the harbour and little 
bays, feeding upon the wastage of the island, returning to 
Muskeget at dusk. 

Roseate Tern : Sterna dougalli. 

Length : 14-15 inches. 

Male and Female : Bill black, yellow at tip, and reddish at base. 

Black cap, and long head feathers ; back of neck white, also 

entire under parts white with a rosy wash. Wings varied, gray, 

tail pearl-gray. Feet and legs yellowish red. 
Season : A rare summer resident. 
Breeds : Casually along the Atlantic coast to Maine. 
Bange : Temperate and tropical regions, north on the Atlantic coast of 

North America to Massachusetts, and casually to Maine. 

A rarely beautiful species, not often seen north of New 
England, but breeding with the Common Tern at Muskeget, 
and hardly daring to show its rosy breast to the vandals 
T 273 



Terns SWIMMING BIRDS. 

in unprotected lands. I quote the following, relative to 
the protection of these birds, from Mr. F. M. Chapman: 
" Through the efforts of a number of bird-lovers, who raised 
a sum of money for the purpose, permission has been 
obtained from the Lighthouse Board to have the light-keeper 
on Little Gull Island appointed ji special game-keeper, 
whose duty it shall be to protect the Terns on Great Gull 
Island.'^ A few days later, in reading a copy of Our 
Animal Friends for December, 1894 (the humanizing monthly 
magazine of the American Society for the Prevention of 
Cruelty to Animals), I saw the ensuing statement, which 
supplements Mr. Chapman's very opportunely : — 

" We have received a report from Mr. Dutcher,^ which lies 
before us and contains much interesting information. Mr. 
Dutcher says: 'I take pleasure in reporting that, during 
the season of 1894, protection was given to the colony of 
Terns on Great Gull Island, Kew York, during the breeding- 
season. In 1886 the island was visited, and a colony of from 
three to four thousand Terns was found there, but it was a 
common practice for persons to visit the island and shoot 
the birds, taking the eggs for various purposes, principally, 
however, for eating. Subsequently it was ascertained that 
the colony was decreasing year by year, and the necessity 
of protection became apparent if it was not to be entirely 
destroyed, as many others have been on the Long Island 
coast.' In a letter, dated October 4, Captain Field reports 
the result of one single year's protection to be most satis- 
factory. The increase of the Tern colony at the close of 
the season is estimated to have been from one thousand to 
fifteen hundred birds, or, in other words, the colony has 
been increased by one-half." 

1 Mr. William Dutcher, through whose efforts mainly the Terns were 
taken under protection of the A. O. U., the Linnean Society, and the 
A. S. P. C. A. 



274 



SWIMMING BIRDS. Doveklo 

Least Tern: Sterna antillarutn* 

Length : 9 inches. 

Male and Female : Legs and bill yellow. Crown black ; black wings ; 

tail, and rump gull-blue. A few outer wing feathers black; 

below white. 
Season : A migrant, formerly a summer resident along the Atlantic 

coast. 
Breeds : Casually through its range. 
Bange : Northern South America northward to California and New 

England and casually to Labrador. 

The smallest of the Terns, living upon fish and insects. 
It flocks about inland waters as well as on the Atlantic and 
some parts of the Pacific coast. It is a rather southerly- 
species, but was once a common summer resident along the 
eastern shore. Its eggs are laid in ^the sand like those of 
other species, and differ from them in sometimes having the 
spots wreathed around the larger end, while the smaller is 
almost plain. 



ORDER PYGOPODES : DIVING BIRDS. 

FAMILY ALCID^: AUKS, PUFFINS, MURRES, ETC. 
Dovekie; Alle alle» 

Sea Dove; Little Auk. 

Length : 8-9 inches. 

Male and Female : Short, thick, black bill. Above dark brown with 

some white on wings ; below generally whitish. 
Season : A winter migrant of varying rarity. 
Breeds : In the Arctic regions. 
Bange : Coasts and islands of the North Atlantic and eastern Arctic 

oceans ; in winter North America south to New Jersey. 

An off-shore bird of heavy build and singular appear- 
ance, to be seen about lighthouses and barren bits of coast 
from New Jersey north. It is properly a coastwise bird, 
but there are accounts of its being driven far inland by 
storms. 

275 



Loona SWIMMING BIRDS. 

FAMILY URINATORID^: LOONS. 
liOon : Urinator imher. 

Great Northern Diver, 

Plate 78. 

Length: 31-36 inches. 

Male and Female: Head, throat, and neck iridescent green, blue» 
and purplish. Triangular patches of black and white streaks 
on either side of the throat, almost joining at the back and nar- 
rowing in front. Above spotted black and white. Breast 
streaked on sides with black and white; under parts white. 
Bill dark yellowish green. 

Season : Winter resident ; most common, however, in the migrations 
September to May. 

Breeds : Northward from the northern tier of States. 

Bange: Northern part of Northern Hemisphere; ranges, in winter, 
south to the Gulf of Mexico. 

This Loon appears here more as a wandering visitor than 
a winter resident, for those who remain after the general 
migration are constantly shifting about. Its plumage is 
very rich and velvety, though, as in the case of so many 
Water-birds which we see only in the autumn and winter, 
the fully plumed adult males are in the minority, and the 
more dully feathered young predominate. 

The Loon dives and swims in the same manner as the 
Grebes. It only inhabits the interior while the lakes and 
rivers remain unfrozen. 

Red-throated liOon: Urinator lutnme. 

Length : 25 inches. 

Male and Female : Blue-gray forehead, chin, upper throat, and sides 
of head ; crown and general upper parts dull black, with a 
glossy greenish wash and streaked and mottled with white. A 
triangle of rusty red on the front of neck. White below. Bill 
black. 

Season : Winter resident ; fairly common. 

Breeds : In high latitudes. 

Bange : Northern part of Northern Hemisphere ; migrating southward 
in winter, nearly across the United States. 
276 



Y% 




SWIMMING BIRDS. Grebes 

Smaller than the Great Diver, having a reddish brown 
throat patch as a mark of identification, which, however, is 
lacking in the young of the year. This Red-throated Loon 
is the species most usually seen here, but it is neither a par- 
ticularly handsome or conspicuous bird. 

FAMILY PODICIPID^: GREBES. 
Horned Grebe : Colymhus auritus. 



Length : 14 inches. 

Male and Female : In spring, prominent crests forming two yellow- 
brown horns ; rest of head puffy and glossy black. Above dark 
brown, with edgings of gray and black. Neck, upper breast, 
and sides rusty brown ; some white on wings. Young without 
horns ; neck and lower parts whitish. Bill black, with yellow 
tip. 

Season : A winter resident, and a plentiful migrant in spring and fall. 

Breeds : North from the northern United States. 

Nest and Eggs : The buffy white eggs are deposited on decayed reed- 
beds, and sometimes on floating masses of reeds. 

Bange : Northern Hemisphere. 

These curiously constructed birds are expert swimmers, 
but very helpless on land. They have no tails to speak 
of, and in the breeding-season wear variously feathered 
head-dresses which give them a ludicrous appearance, and 
make them veritable caricatures. But if you presume upon 
this apparent stupidity, and try to approach them, you will 
be very much surprised at the speed with which they slip 
from the shore and dive out of sight ; not with a splash, 
but sinking like lead, and escaping by swimming under 
water, with the head alone visible. When inhabiting the 
coast the Grebes live upon fish, but when inland they sub- 
sist upon fresh-water newts, frogs, insects, and sometimes 
the seeds of grasses. 



271 



Grebes SWIxMMING BIEDS. 

Pied-billed Grebe : Podilymhus podiceps. 

Dipper; DabcMck. 

Plate 79. Fig. 2. 

Length : 13 inches. 

Male and Female : Some bristling frontal feathers, but no regular 
horns. Above dark brown, showy black markings on chin and 
throat. Breast and lower throat yellowish brown, irregularly 
spotted and barred, on the upper parts, lower parts glossy 
white. Wings brown, gray, and white. Bill spotted with blue, 
white, and dusky, and crossed by a black band, hence Pied- 
billed. 

Season : Common migrant, on Housatonic River in September and 
October. 

Breeds : Through range. 

Nesting : Habits similar to the last species. 

Bange : British Provinces, southward to Brazil, Buenos Ayres, and 
Chili, including the West Indies and the Bermudas. 

The most common Grebe on the eastern coast, and, though, 
said to breed through its range, is not noted as a resident 
hereabout. It frequents fresh water, even more freely than 
salt, and Dr. Langdon gives an interesting account of its 
inland breeding-habits in his "Summer Birds in an Ohio 
Marsh " : " The little floating island of decaying vegetation, 
held together by mud and moss, which constitutes the nest 
of this species, is a veritable ornithological curiosity. 
Imagine a ^ pancake ' of what appears to be mud, measuring 
twelve or fifteen inches in diameter, and rising two or three 
inches above the water, which may be from one to three feet 
in depth; anchor it to the bottom with a few concealed 
blades of * saw grass,' in a little open bay, leaving its cir- 
cumference entirely free; remove a mass of wet muck from 
its rounded top, and you expose seven or eight soiled, 
brownish white eggs, resting in a depression, the bottom of 
which is less than an inch from the water ; the whole mass 
is constantly damp. This is the nest of the Dabchick, who 
is out foraging in the marsh, or, perhaps, is anxiously 
watching us from some safe corner near by. . . . During 

278 



PLATE 79. 





1. PINTAIL. 

Length, 26-30 inches. 



2. PIED-BILLED GREBE. 

Length, 13.50 inches. 



SWIMMING BIRDS. Grebes 

the day we invariably found the eggs concealed by a cover- 
ing of muck as above described ; but as we ascertained by 
repeated visits at night, and in the early morning, they are un- 
covered at dusk by the bird, who incubates them until the 
morning sun relieves her of her task." 



279 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 



PAGE 

. 283 



Section I. Land Birds (Song-Birds, etc.) 

Section II. Birds of Prey (Hawks and Owls) . 296 

Section III. Game, Shore, and Water Birds . . 299 



(The descriptions in this key are of the male bird in 
spring plumage, except in the case of those birds that 
we see only in winter. The variations of the female 
are noted in the detailed biographies.) 



SECTION I. LAND BIRDS. 

PAGK 

A. BiBDS CONSPICUOUSLY Red OR Obakge 283 

B. Birds conspicuously Blue 284 

C. Birds conspicuously Yellow 285 

D. Birds conspicuously Black, Dusky, or Dark Gray . . . 287 

B. Brown or Brownish Birds, op Various Sizes and 

Markings 289 

F. Daintily Plumed Small Birds feeding about the 

Branches and Terminal Shoots of Trees 292 

Q. Tree-creeping Birds of Various Sizes, seen upon the 

Trunks and Branches, feeding upon Bark Insects . 293 

H. Winter Birds of Meadows and Uplands 294 

I. Birds of the Air, constantly on the Wing, feeding as 

THEY FLY 295 



A. BIRDS CONSPICUOUSLY RED OR ORANGE. 

1. Entire "breast and belly pale brick-red. Above olive-gray, head 

black. Wings dark brown; tail black, with white spots on 
the two outer quills. Throat streaked with black and white, 
white eyelids. Bill yellow, dusky at tip ; feet dark. 

American Kobin. See page 64. 

2. Above brilliant blue-black, white belly, sides of body and wing 

linings orange-salmon. Bill and feet black. 

American Redstart. See page 115. 

3. Rich scarlet, wings, tail, and feet black. 

Scarlet Tanager. See page 131. 

4. Above strawberry-red with some gray fleckings ; wings and tail 

brown ; heavy blackish bill ; feet dark. Winter bird. 

Pine Grosbeak. See page 133. 

5. General colour Indian-red ; wings and tail brownish. Beak dis- 

tinctly crossed at tip. Winter bird of pine trees. 

American CrosBbill. See page 137. 
. 283 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 

6. Red, conspicuously crested. Black throat and band around beak. 

Beak light red ; feet brown. 

Cardinal. See page 161. 

7. Black head, throat, and upper half of back. Wings black, larger 

coverts tipped and inner feathers edged with white. Middle 
tail quills black, everywhere else orange-Jlame. Feet and bill 
slatish black. 

Baltimore Oriole. See page 172. 

8. Throat and breast orange-flame colour, lower parts tinged with 

yellow. Black head striped with flame ; black wings and tail 
with white markings, black streaks on breast. Bill and feet 
dark. 

Blackburnian Warbler. See page 102. 

9. Breast rose-carmine, which colour extends under the wings. 

Above black; belly, rump, three outer tail quills, and two 
spots on wings white. Heavy brown bill. 

Bose-breasted Grosbeak. See page 162. 

10. Crown, chin, and throat bright red. Above black, white, and 

yellowish ; below greenish yellow. Tail black, white on the 
middle feathers, white edge to wing coverts. A tree-creeper. 
Bill pointed, about as long as head. 

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. See page 198. 

11. Head, neck, and throat crimson. Back, wings, and tail bluish 

black. White below, much white on wings, and white rump. 
A tree-creeper. Bill horn-coloured. 

Bed-headed Woodpecker. See page 199. 



B. BIRDS CONSPICUOUSLY BLUE. 

1. Azure-blue above. Wings blue with blackish tips, upper breast 

brick-red, lower parts white. Bill and feet black. 

Bluebird. See page 66. 

2. Deep blue, in some lights having a greenish cast. Wings and tail 

washed thinly with brownish. Bill dark above. 

Indigo Bunting. See page 164. 

3. Lead-blue above ; head finely crested ; wing coverts and tail bright 

blue, barred with black. Below grayish white with a black 
collar. 

Blue Jay. See page 177. 

4. Above lead-blue, variegated with black. Below whitish, two dull 

blue bands across breast. Long crest ; straight bill longer than 

head. 

Belted Kingfltlier. See page 204. 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 



C. BIRDS CONSPICUOUSLY YELLOW. 

* WARBLERS. —Small wood-birds with slender bills, much 
varied plumage, and (as a rule) weak voices. 

1. Forehead and under parts clear yellow. Dark stripe through eye ; 

bill bluish black. Above olive-green ; wings slaty blue with 
white bars. Feet dark. 

Blae>winged Warbler. See page 90. 

2. Clear yelloio below, which remains constant all the season. Above 

olive-green, brightening on the rump and shoulders. Slate- 
gray head and neck. No bars on wings or tail, which are 
brownish. Bill and feet dark. 

Nashville Warbler. See page 91. 

3. Above slate-blue, triangular spot of greenish yellow back of 

shoulders. Chin and throat yellow. Wings brownish with 
two white bars, two white spots on tail. White belly, reddish 
brown band across breast. Bill dark above, flesh-coloured 
below ; feet light. 

Parula Warbler. See page 93. 

4. Above rich olive-yellow, breast and under parts golden yellow. 

Breast streaked with cinnamon-brown. Bill lead-coloured; 
feet light brown. 

Yellow Warbler, See page 94. 

5. Crown, sides of breast, and rump yellow. Above slate colour, 

striped and streaked with black ; below whitish ; upper breast 
black. Bill and feet black. ' 

Myrtle Warbler. See page 96. 

6. Bump and under parts rich yellow, the latter streaked with black 

on the breast and sides. Above dark olive, wings barred with 
white. Bill and feet dark. 

Magnolia Warbler. See page 97. 

7. Back and crown bright olive-yellow, sides and front of head clear 

yellow. Throat and upper breast black, black continued in 
a stripe down the sides. White below. Bill and feet dark. 

Black-throated Green Warbler. See page 103. 

8. Above bright yelloioish olive, clear yellow below with dark 

streaks on sides. 

Pine Warbler. See page 103. 

9. Under parts clear yellow with bright chestnut streaks on the 

sides. Chestnut crown. Brownish above. Rump yellowish. 
Bill and feet dark. 

Yellow Palm Warbler. See page 104. 
285 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 

10. Under parts rich yellow, yellow streak running from nostril back 

of eye, and two yellow wing bands. Colours much mixed 
above, — olive, green, or yellow; chestnut streaks forming 
patch across back; sides of neck and body streaked with 
black. 

Prairie Warbler. See page 105. 

11. Bich yellow lower breast and belly. Decidedly marked gray 

head and neck, the rest of upper parts yellowish olive. 
Throat and upper breast usually black, veiled with ash-gray. 
Wings and tail glossy olive-green. Upper mandible dark, 
lower mandible and feet flesh-coloured. 

Mourning Warbler. See page 110. 

12. Under parts, including wing and tail coverts, yellow, grading to 

white on middle of belly. Above olive, head masked with 
black. Bill black ; flesh-coloured feet. 

Maryland Yellow-throat. See page 110. 

13. Brilliant yellow throat, breast, and wing linings. Olive-green 

above ; strong, curving blue-black bill ; feet lead-coloured. 
(Larger than the preceding species, voice strong.) 

Yellow-breasted Chat. See page 113. 

14. Yellow face, and under parts ; black hood, chin, and upper breast ; 

above rich olive. Bill black ; feet light. 

Hooded Warbler. See page 113. 

15. Above olive-yellow ; under parts rich yellow, shading to olive on 

the sides. Black cap. Bill dark above, lower mandible and 
feet light. 

Wilson's Warbler. See page 114. 

16. Above ash-blue, crown spotted with arrow-shaped black marks 

blending on the brow. Below pure yellow with a showy 
necklace of black longitudinal streaks on the breast. Yellow 
line over eye, black patch under it. Bill dark ; feet flesh- 
coloured. 

Canadian Warbler. See page 114. 

** Birds with thicker sparrow-like bills. 

17. Body, all but wings, tail, and frontlet, clear gamboge yellow. 

Frontlet black ; wings black, varied with white. 

American Goldfinch. See page 140. 

*** Large ground-feeding birds. 

18. Under parts bright yellow, black throat crescent. Much varie- 

gated above, general colour brown. Bill stout and straight, 
strong legs, a walker. A ground feeder and meadow bird. 

Meadowlark. See page 170. 
286 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 



D. BIRDS CONSPIC0OUSLY BLACK, DUSKY, OR DARK 
GRAY. 

1. Above olive-gray; head black. Wings dark brown; tail black, 

with white spots on the two outer quills. Entire breast and 
belly pale brick-red. Throat streaked with black and white ; 
white eyelids. Bill yellow, dusky at tip ; feet dark. 

American Kobin. See page 64. 

2. Chray above; wings brownish gray, white spot on outer edge. 

Breast grayish white ; tail brownish, three outer quills white. 
Night singer. 

Mockingbird. See page 76, 

3. Clear^ deep slate above ; under parts light gray. Crown and tail 

black ; vent rust-red. 

Catbird. See page 78. 

4. Dark bluish slate all over, except lower breast and belly, which 

are grayish white, and form a vest. Several outer tail feathers 
white, which are conspicuous in flying. Bird of autumn and 
winter. 

Slate-coloured Junco. See page 155. 

6. Head, neck, breast, back, and middle tail feathers black. Belly 
and spots on outer tail feathers white. Sides light bay. Red 
eyes, black bill, light-brown feet. 

Towhee. See page 160. 

6. Above black ; belly, rump, three outer tail quills, and two spots 

on wings white. Breast rose-carmine, which colour extends 

under the wings. 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak. See page 162. 

7. Above bluish ash, lighter on the rump and shoulders ; below light 

gray, waved with darker lines. Black bar on each side of 
head ; wings and tail black, outer quills of latter white-tipped. 
Blackish beak; legs bluish black. Winter bird. 

Northern Shrike. See page 1S2. 

8. Black head, chin, tail, and under parts. Buff patch on back of 

neck; also buff edges to some tail feathers. Rump and upper 
wing coverts white. Bill brown. Meadow bird. 

Bobolink. See page 165. 

9. Body flat and compact. Above slate-blue ; top of head and nape 

black. Wings blackish , edged with slate ; belly white, grow- 
ing rusty toward vent. Bill dark lead colour ; feet dark brown. 
Tree-creepers ; most conspicuous in autumn and winter. 

White-breasted Nuthatch. See page 73. 
287 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 

10. Above striped black and white. Breast white in middle, black 

stripes on sides. Wings and tail black, with white markings ; 
bill and feet black. Small tree- creeping bird. 

Black-and-white Creeper. See page 88. 

11. Above black and white; white stripe on middle of back, red cres- 

cent on back of head. Under parts grayish white; wings 
black and white. Bill sharp, stout, and straight, nearly as 
long as head. Tree-creeping bird. 

Hairy Woodpecker. See page 196. 

12. Closely resembling the last species, but smaller. "Wings and tail 

barred with white. A tree-creeper. 

Downy Woodpecker. See page 198. 

13. Whole head and neck, tail, and part of wings black. Breast, 

rump, and shoulders chestnut-brown. Whitish wing band, 
and some feathers edged with white. Rounded black tail, 
edged with lighter. Bill and feet bluish black. 

Orchard Oriole. See page 171. 

14. Small birds, feeding among tree branches. Crested, with black 

frontlet. Above ash-gray, wings and tail darker, sides of head 
dull white. Under parts whitish with brownish wash on sideSc 
Bill iead-black ; feet lead colour. 

Tufted Titmouse. See page 71. 

16. Feeding as last species. Conspicuous bird of autumn and winter. 
No crest ; above gray with a brownish tinge ; crown, throaty 
and neck black. Cheeks white. Below white, shading to gray 
with a brownish wash. Wings and tail gray with white 
edgings. Bill and feet lead-black. 

Chickadee. See page 7/8. 

16. Black cap, grayish white cheeks, general upper parts striped gray, 

black, and olive. Breast white with black streaks. White 

spots on outer tail feathers. 

Black-poll Warbler. See page 101. 

* Typical Blackbirds. 

17. Head, throat, and shoulders glistening, dark brown; all other 

parts iridescent black. A walker. Bill dark brown; feet 
rusty black. 

Cowbird. See page 167. 

18. Rich blue-black ; scarlet shoulders, edged with yellow. 

Ked-winged Blackbird. See page 169. 

19. In breeding plumage, glossy, black with metallic glints, and a 

rusty wash. In autumn rust-coloured. Bill and feet dark. 

Kusty Blackbird. See page 175. 
288 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 

20. Glossy, metallic black, iridescent tints on head, tail, and wings. 

Tail long ; feet black. 

Parple Grackle. See page 176. 

** Crows. 

21. Large bird, glossy, purplish black. Wings appear saw-toothed 

in flying, tail extending beyond wings. Bill and feet black. 

American Crow. See page 178. 

22. Smaller than last species. Glossy, purplish black, chin un- 

feathered. 

Fish Crow. See page 179. 

*** Birds of the air, dashing from their perch to seize insects. 

23. Above dark ash ; head, wings, and tail black ; orange-red streak 

on poll. Beneath grayish white, darkest on breast, tail 
terminating in a white band. 

Kingbird. See page 183. 

**** Birds of the air feeding on the wing. 

24. A sooty-brown, swallow-like bird, building in chimneys. Wings 

longer than tail, which is nearly even, the shafts of the quills 
ending in sharp spines. 

Chimney Swift. See page 193. 



B. BROWN OR BROWNISH BIRDS, OF VARIOUS SIZES 
AND MARKINGS. 

•^ Brown or olive backs; rather long, slender bills. Lightish 
breasts, more or less speckled. All fine songsters, nm- 
ning or hopping on the ground. 

1. Above tawny-broion, deepest on head ; whitish eye ring. Sides of 

throat light buff, middle of throat, breast, and belly white, 
sprinkled on the sides with heart-shaped dark brown spots. 
Bill dark brown ; feet flesh-coloured. 

Wood Thrush. See page 57. 

2. Above evenly tawny. Throat huff, flecked on sides with fine arrow- 

shaped brown spots. Under parts white ; no eye ring ; feet 
light. 

Wilson's Thrush. See page 58. 

3. Head and back uniform olive-brown. Throat buff and slightly 

speckled ; sides dull grayish white. Cheeks gray ; no eye ring. 
Bill slender. 

Gray-cheeked Thrush. See page 60. 
u 289 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 

4. Above olive-brown. Buff breast and throat, deepening in colour 

on the sides, and speckled everywhere but on the centre ; 
breast with blackish spots. Yellowish eye ring. Dark bill ; 
feet pale brown. 

Olive-backed Thrnsh. See page 61. 

5. Above olive-brown, reddening on the rump and tail. Throat, 

neck, and sides of breast washed with buff and thickly sprinkled 
arrowheads. Under parts white ; yellowish eye ring. Bill 
blackish above, lower mandible light ; feet light brown. 

Hermit Thrush. See page 62. 

6. Long bird. Above reddish brown, beneath yellowish white, with 

brown spots on breast and sides. Very long tail ; two light 
bars on wings. Bill black, lower mandible yellow at base ; 
feet light. 

Brown Thrasher. See page 80. 

7. Above dark olive-brown. Tail and wings brownish black ; several 

outer tail feathers partly or wholly white. White eye ring, 
and line over the eye. Under parts whitish, with washes of 
various shades of brown. Bill dark ; feet brown. A bird 
of fields and waysides, seen in late autumn and spring. 

American Pipit. See page 87. 

8. Olive-brown above ; whitish eye ring ; two brown stripes on head, 

enclosing a dull orange crown. White below, with brownish 
spots in the centre of breast running into streaks on the sides. 
Brown bill ; legs and feet flesh-coloured. 

Ovenbird. See page 106. 

9. Above, including wings and tail, plain olive-brown. Under parts 

sulphur-yellow, speckled everywhere, except a space in the 
middle of belly, with dark brown. Bill and feet dark. 

Water Thrush. See page 108. 

10. Above grayish brown, with a brown crown, and white line over 

the eye. Creamy white breast sparingly streaked with brown. 
Peculiarly heavy dark bill ; legs light. 

liouisiana Water Thrush. See page 108. 

** Brownish birds of very small size, with slender bills. Backs 
usually barred with browns and grays. Tails held erect. 

11. Chestnut-brown above, wings and tail barred with clear brown. 

Under parts buffy. Bill straight and dark, same length as 
head ; feet dusky flesh colour. 

Carolina Wren. S^e page 83. 
290 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 

12. Dark brown above, minutely barred with blackish. Under parts 

gray, with brownish wash and faint bandings. Fairly long 
tail. Bill black above, lower mandible light ; feet brown. 

House Wren. See page 83. 

13. Colour similar to last species, except the under parts, which are 

rusty and dimly, but finely, barred with dark. Tail and bill 
short ; the latter dark and slender. 

Winter Wren. See page 84. 

14. Above brown. Crown and part of back streaked with black and 

white. White beneath, washed with rusty across breast and 
along sides. Wings and tail barred. Very short bill. 

Short-billed Marsh Wren. See page 85. 

16. Above clear brown, whitish line over eye, neck and back streaked 
sparingly with white. Wings and tail brown ; the latter 
barred. Bill nearly as long as head. 

liong-billed Marsh Wren. See page 86. 

*** Sparrow-like birds, with stout bills. General plumage 
brown, gray, or rusty, much streaked and spotted, and 
occasionally washed with reddish purple. One species 
has a white throat and one a white crown. 

Finch Family. See page 133. 

**** Birds with soft, Quaker-coloured plumage of browns and 
drabs ; not barred, striped, or spotted. 

A. Crested; short, blunt, broad, black bill. 

16. Black frontlet. Crest, breast, throat, wings, and tail purplish ash. 

Secondary wing quills tipped with waxy red points. Tail 

feathers banded with yellow, and sometimes tipped with red, 

like the wings. 

Cedar Waxwing. See page 124. 

B, Not crested; head about the same length as long curving bill. 
Tail long, 

17. Powerful bill ; lower mandible yellow. Above olive, with gray 

and metallic tints. Two middle tail feathers olive, outer 
quills black, with conspicuous white spots. Wings washed 
with bright cinnamon. Under parts grayish white. 

Yellow-billed Cuckoo. See page 203. 

18. Above general colouring same as last species. Black bill, red 

eyelids. White spots on tail inconspicuous. 

Black-billed Cuckoo. See page 203. 
291 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 

***** Mottled brown and black birds (other than true Hawks 
and Owls) flying and feeding chiefly at twilight and night. 

19. A long- winged bird of twilight and night. Large mouth, fringed 

with bristles. Plumage dusky and Owl-like, much spotted 
with black and gray. Wings mottled with shades of brown. 
Lower half of outer tail quills white. 

Whip-poor-will. See page 190. 

20. A bird of day, as well as of night. Mottled black and rusty above ; 

the breast finely barred and with a V-shaped white spot on 
throat. Wings brown, a large white spot extending entirely 
through them, conspicuous in flight. White bar on tail. 

Nighthawk. See page 191. 



F. DAINTILY PLUMED SMALL BIRDS FEEDING ABOUT 
THE BRANCHES AND TERMINAL SHOOTS OF TREES. 

1. Tiny bird of autumn and winter. Flame-coloured crown spot, 

edged with yellow and enclosed by black line. Above olive- 
green and yellowish olive, which is more decided on wings, 
rump, and tail. Whitish line over eye ; under parts yellow- 
ish gray. Bill and feet black. 

Goldeu-crowned Kinglet. See page 68. 

2. Small bird with vermilion spot on crown. Ash-gray head ; back 

olive-gray, yellower on tail. Breast and under parts yellowish 

gray. Edges of eyelids whitish. Bill black ; feet dark brown. 

Ruby -crowned Kinglet. See page 69. 

3. Head yellowish brovm ; black stripe on each side of crown, also 

back of eye. Above greenish olive ; under parts buffy. Bill 
and feet light. 

Worm-eating Warbler. See page 89. 

4. Yellow crown and wing coverts. Above bluish gray. Chin, 

throat, and eye stripe black. Below slaty white tinged with 
yellowish. Bill and feet blackish. 

Golden-winged Warbler. See page 90. 

5. Top of head yellow. Black stripe running through the eye, and 

a black spot in front of it. Back and wing coverts streaked 
black and yellow. Throat and breast white with chestnut 
stripe, starting at the black mustache and extending down the 
sides. Bill black ; feet brown. 

Chestnut-sided Warbler. See page 98. 

292. 



KEY TO THE BIKDS. 

6. Above bluish slate rather than blue, lighter on forehead. Blach 

throat, terminating in a line down the sides. White spot on 
wings; outer tail feathers white spotted. White beneath. 
Bill and feet dark. 

Black-throated Blue Warbler. See page 95. 

7. Above streaked with black and grayish olive. Forehead, cheeks, 

and sides of head black, enclosing a chestnut patch. Chin, 
throat, and upper breast, and a streak along the sides dull 
chestnut. White cross-bars on wings, and white spots on tail. 
Bill and feet dark. 

Bay-breasted Warbler. See page 99. 

* Birds with bills slightly hooked at tip ; plumage olive above 
and white or yellowish below; feeding in the trees; 
loud and constant singers. 

Vireo Family. See page 116. 



G. TREE-CREEPING BIRDS OF VARIOUS SIZES, SEEN UPON 
THE TRUNKS AND BRANCHES, FEEDING UPON IN- 
SECTS AND THE LARV^ IN THE BARK. 

1. Body flat and compact. Above slate-blue, head and hind neck 

black. Wings blackish, edged with slate. Belly white, rusty 
toward vent. Most conspicuous in autumn and winter. 

White-breasted Nuthatch. See page 73. 

2. Above lead-coloured, brownish on wings and tail. Crown and sides 

of head and neck black. Under parts rust-red. Bill lead 
colour, feet lead-brown. Bird of autumn and winter. 

Ked-breasted Nuthatch. See page 74. 

3. Above brown and white striped, the brown being of several 

shades, growing reddish on rump. Throat, breast, and belly 
grayish white ; tail pale brown. Slender, curving bill. Bird of 
late autumn and winter. 

Brown Creeper. See page 75. 

4. Small bird. Above striped black and white. Breast white in 

middle, black stripes on sides. Wings and tail black, with 
white markings. Bill and feet black. 

Black-and-white Creeper. See page 88. 

6. Above black and white, white stripe on middle of back, red stripe 
on head. Under parts grayish white ; wings black and white. 
Bill blunt, stout, and straight, nearly as long as head. 

Hairy Woodpecker. See page 196, 
293 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 

6. Closely resembling the last species, but smaller. Wings and tail 

barred with white. 

Do"wny Woodpecker. See page 198. 

7. Above black, white, and yellowish ; below greenish yellow. Tail 

black, white on the middle feathers, white edge to wing 
coverts. Crown, chin, and throat bright red. Bill about as 
long as head, more pointed and slender than last species. 

Yellow-bellied Sapsacker. See page 198. 

8. Head, neck, and throat crimson. Back, wings, and tail bluish 

black. White below, much white on wings and white rump. 
Bill about as long as head. 

Ked-headed Woodpecker. See page 199. 

9. Above golden brown, barred with black. Black crescent on breast, 

red band on back of head. Round black spots on belly ; black 

cheek patch. Wing linings gamboge-yellow, rump white. Bill 

slender, curving, and pointed. 

Flicker. See page 300. 



H. WINTER BIRDS OF MEADOWS AND UPLANDS. 

1. Soft brown and white plumage ; bill and feet black. Birds seen 

in large flocks, feeding upon seed-stalks that rise above the 
snow. 

Snowflake. See page 142. 

2. Top of head black, edged with rusty ; black above, with feathers 

all edged with white. Below grayish, with faint black mark- 
ings. Legs and feet black, with a long hind claw or spur. 
Birds of meadows, stubble-fields, and the shore. 

Lapland Iiongspur. See page 144. 

3. Upper parts with a pinkish cast, most marked on neck and rump. 

Black crescent on breast ; black bar in front of head, extending 
to side of head, forming two tufts or horns. Frontlet, throat, 
and fore-neck pale yellowish. Below whitish, streaked with 
black. 

Horned Lark. See page 180. 

4. Head, breast, and rump washed with rich crimson over a ground of 

gray and brown. Back, wings, and tail dusky ; dusky white 
beneath. Tail short and forked ; wings long and pointed. 
Crimson wash not conspicuous as the bird flies. 

Redpoll. See page 138. 
294 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 



I. BIRDS OF THE AIR, CONSTANTLY UPON THE WING 
AND FEEDING AS THEY FLY. 

* With plumage more or less iridescent or tinted with metallic 

colours. 

a. Birds flying over low meadows, streams, and beaches ; tails more 

or less forked; wings sharply pointed. Bills dark, widely 

triangular. 

Swallow Family. See page 125. 

6. Very small birds, feeding about flowers ; bill long and needle-like. 
Metallic green above, grayish below ; glistening ruby throat, 
and deeply forked tail. 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird. See page 194. 

** Plumage not iridescent or metallic, but sooty brown, olive, 
or grayish above, and white, gray, or yellowish below. 

c. A Swallow-like bird, building in chimneys. Deep sooty brown. 

Wings longer than the tail, which is nearly even, the shafts of 
the quills ending in sharp spines. 

Swift Family. See page 193. 

d. Birds of small and medium size, with plumage ranging through 

browns and olive, with yellow or gray breasts, with and without 
erectile crests. Perching with drooping tail and wings vibrat- 
ing and suddenly dashing into the air in pursuit of insects. 

Tyrant Flycatchers. See page 182. 



295 



SECTION II. BIRDS OF PREY. 

A. Stoutly Built Birds, with Large Heads, Loose Mot- 

tled Plumage, Hooked Beaks and Powerful Feet. 
With or without Feathered Horns. Both Diurnal 
AND Nocturnal Birds of Ponderous Flight .... 296 

B. Diurnal Birds of Prey, with Smaller Heads, no Horns. 

Graceful, Rapid Flight. Plumage Plain, Streaked, 
OR Mottled 297 



A. STOUTLY BUILT BIRDS, WITH LARGE HEADS, FACIAL 
EYE DISKS, ETC. 

* No feathered horns. 

1. Above tawny yellow, ash, and white, with black and white spots ; 

below whitish, speckled with dark. Dark bars on tail and 
wings. Legs long, and feathered. Small, bluish black eyes ; 
bill light. Face disk heart-shaped. 

Barn Owl. See page 206. 

2. Mottled dark brown, rusty, and grayish. Striped on breast with 

dark brown. Face feathers white tipped; wings and tail 
barred with brown. Legs and dark feet fully feathered. Bill 
ivory-coloured ; eyes blue-black. 

Barred Owl. See page J809. 

3. Smallest United States Owl. Above brown, spotted more or less 

with lighter brown and white. Striped beneath with rusty- 
brown. Legs feathered with yellowish white. Bill black ; claws 
dark. 

Saw-whet Owl. See page J810. 

4. Plumage varying from pure white to white barred and spotted 

with brown and black. Legs and toes thickly feathered. Bill 
and claws black. 

Snowy Owl. See page 813. 
296 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 



** Horned Owls. 



6. Above finely mottled with brown, ash, and dark orange. Long, 
erect ear tufts. Complete facial disk reddish brown with 
darker inner circle ; dark brown, broken band on wings and 
tail. Breast pale orange with long, brown stripes. Legs and 
feet completely feathered. Bill and claws blackish. 

American L.ong-eared Owl. See page 207. 

6. Inconspicuous ear tufts, facial disk with a dark ring enclosing a 
lighter one. Plumage varied from bright orange to buffy white 
with bold stripes of dark brown. Darker above, and more 
mottled below, growing whiter toward vent. Legs feathered 
with plain buif. Bill and claws dusky blue-black. 

Short-eared Owl. See page 208. 

7. Conspicuous ear tufts, bill light horn colour. Plumage either gray- 

ish or rust-red and mottled ; tail and wings equal. Feet covered 
with short dark feathers. Claws dark. A small common Owl. 

Screech Owl. See page 811. 

8. Large heavy Owl. Long ear tufts, feathers mottled irregularly, 

buff, tawny brown or whitish. Feet and legs feathered ; bill 
and claws black. 

Great Horned Owl. See page 212. 



B. DIURNAL BIRDS OF PREY, WITH SMALLER HEADS 
THAN THE LAST GROUP, CONSPICUOUSLY HOOKED 
BILLS AND CLAWS, NO HORNS OR PERFECT FACIAL 
DISKS. FLIGHT GRACEFUL AND RAPID ; PLUMAGE 
PLAIN, STREAKED OR MOTTLED. 

♦Plumage brightly coloured or much varied. 

1. Tail long. Eyes reddish brown. Above bluish gray, deepest on 

head. Beneath whitish, barred on the sides and breast with 
rusty and dark brown. Small head, long legs, slender feet. 
Flight dashing. 

Sharp-shinned Hawk. See page 216. 

2. Similar to last species, but larger. Tail rounded and barred with 

dusky or rufous. Feet rather stout, greenish yellow. 

Cooper'i Hawk. See page 217. 

3. Tail rust-red, with a black band near end. Above dark brown 

variegated with white, gray, and tawny ; below whitish and buff, 
streaked below with brown. Bill horn-coloured. 

Bed-tailed Hawk. See page 218. 
297 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 

4. Shoulders rust-red. Above reddish brown, the middle of the 

feathers darker than the edges. Head and lower parts rusty, 
barred with whitish ; tail black with white bands. Feet bright 
yellow. 

Bed-shouldered Hawk. See page 219. 

5. Small, brightly coloured Hawk. Above reddish, with or without 

black spots and bars. Top of head bluish slate with a red 
crown patch. Below varying from whitish to reddish, with or 
without dark spots. Wings narrow and pointed. 

American Sparrow Hawk. See page 222. 

** Plumage dark brown, gray, or whitish, not red or rusty. 

1. Above bluish gray; below white, mottled with brown. Wings 

brownish, long, and pointed. Tail long ; upper tail coverts 
white. Bill and feet black. A summer Hawk of moist lands. 

Marsh Hawk. See page 215. 

2. Very large bird. Head, neck feathers, and tail pure white. Beak 

yellow and abruptly hooked. Plumage dark brown; legs 
feathered only half-way down ; feet yellow. 

Bald £agle. See page 220. 

3. A fishing Hawk seen flying over large bodies of water. Plain 

dark brown above, the tail having a white tip and a band of 

dark brown. Head, neck, and lower parts white ; breast 

plain, or sometimes spotted faintly with brown. Bill bluish 

black; feet grayish. 

American Osprej. See page 223. 



SECTION III. GAME, SHORE, AND WATER 
BIRDS. 

PAQB 

A. Wood Doves, with Delicately Shaded and often Glossy 

Plumage, Small Heads, Full Breasts, and Long Pointed 
Wings, often seen feeding on the Ground like Domes- 
tic Pigeons 300 

B. Birds with Mottled Feathers of Various Shades op 

Brown, with and without Feathers on the Legs, seen 

SCRATCHING AND WALKING ON THE GrOUND LIKE BaRNYARD 

Fowls. Inhabiting Light Woods and Stubble Fields 300 

C. Small and Medium-sized Shore Birds, with Stout Bodies, 

Bullet-shaped Heads, Short Necks, and Pigeon-likb 
Bills which are never longer than the Head. Plu- 
mage Various, — Black, White, Brown, or Orange. In- 
habiting THE Vicinity of both Fresh and Salt Water 301 

D. Small and Medium-sized Birds op Meadows, Marshes, and 

Seashore. Bills Slender, usually much longer than 
THE Head. Plumage Mottled and Streaked with Neu- 
tral Tints and Sober Colours. Plain, Unbarred Tails 301 

E. Birds with Long, Strong Legs, Long Toes, and Compressed 

Bodies. Plumage Subdued and Monotonous, lacking 
THE Contrast and Variation usual in Shore Birds. 
Inhabitants of Reedy Marshes 303 

F. Long-legged, Long-necked, Long-billed Large Birds, 

often Beautifully Crested. Plumage Various, under- 
going Many Changes. Living in Wooded Swamps, and 
often seen standing on One Leg in Shallow Streams 
AND Ponds 303 

G. Stoutly Built Swimming Birds of Fresh and Salt Water 

(flying with Great Rapidity). Full Flat Bodies, 
Long Necks, Large Heads, and Small Eyes. Short 
Legs, Webbed Feet. Plumage Varied and Beautiful. 

Bills Long and Broad, Flat or Arched 256 

299 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 

PAGE 

Off-shore Water Birds, flying more frequently than 
SWIMMING. Feeding about Bars, Lighthouses, and in 
THE Trough of the Sea, also diving for Food. Hooked 
Bills, Long Wings. Tails Forked or Straight. Large, 
Strong, Webbed Feet 304 

Stout-bodied Diving Birds of Fresh and Salt Water ; 
Legs set very far back. Short Tails, Long Necks 
Crested or not Crested ; Plumage Various. Bodies 
held upright owing to Position op the Legs, moving 
awkwardly on Land, but swimming and flying with 
Great Ease 306 



A. WOOD DOVES, WITH DELICATELY SHADED AND 
OFTEN GLOSSY PLUMAGE, ETC. 

1. Upper parts bluish gray ; reddish brown below, fading to whitish 

toward vent. Wings dark, with a few spots ; tail quills dark 
blue at the base and white at tips. Bill black ; feet lake-red. 

Passenger Pigeon. See page 225. 

2. General colouring bluish fawn. Above olive-brown, varying to 

bluish gray ; neck and head washed with metallic tints. Below 

a dull purplish, changing to reddish brown. Bill black ; feet 

lake-red. 

Mourning Dove. See page 2^6. 

B. BIRDS WITH MOTTLED FEATHERS, ETC. 
(Seen Scratching on the Ground like Barnyard Fowls.) 

1. Crown slightly crested. White forehead, eye line, and throat 

patch, edged with dark. Above variegated reddish brown. 
Below whitish, warming on the sides to reddish, with dark 
bars. Bill rusty black ; legs not feathered. 

Bob-white. See page 887. 

2. Slightly crested head, yellowish eye stripe, and neck mottled with 

reddish and dusky brown. Back variegated chestnut ; lower 
parts lighter, with dark bars. Long tail, which spreads fan- 
like. Neck ruff of dark feathers ; feathered legs. 

Buffed Grouse. See page 229. 



SOO 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 

C. SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED BIRDS, WITH STOUT 

BODIES, BULLET-SHAPED HEADS, ETC., SEEN IN 
THE VICINITY OF BOTH SALT AND FRESH WATER. 

1. Shore birds of medium size, seen turning over stones on beaches as 

they feed. Above patched with black, white, red, brown, and 
gray, a calico pattern. Below white with black breast. Much 
white on wings and tail. Bill black, shorter than the head, 
and slightly recurved ; feet orange. 

Turnstone. See page S31. 

2. Above mottled with black, gray, and yellowish. Beneath mostly 

black. Bill long and black ; feet black. 

Black-bellied Plover. See page 238. 

3. Above mottled with black and greenish yellow ; whitish below. 

Axilliary feathers ashy brown. Bill and feet black. This 

Plover is subject to great variations of plumage. A popular 

game-bird. 

Golden Plover. See page 233. 

4. Gray -brown, washed with olive above ; rump variegated with all 

shades of orange and reddish brown. White frontlet, and red 

eyelids. Below white, collar and breastlet black. Bill black ; 

legs light. 

Killdeer Plover. See page 233. 

5. Bill, and half-webbed feet, yellow, bill having a black tip. An 

orange ring around eye. Above ash-gray ; below white with a 
black band across the breast. 

Semipalmated Plover. See page 234. 

6. Above light gray. Coloured eye ring ; bill yellow ; partial white 

collar on back of neck, and a partial dark band on throat. 
Below white. 

Piping Plover. See page 235. 

D. SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED BIRDS OF BOGGY MEAD- 

OWS, ETC., SLENDER BILLS, USUALLY MUCH 
LONGER THAN THE HEAD. 

1. Eyes large, set in upper corner of head. Short, thick neck, and 
compact body. Above variegated with brown, black, tawny, 
and gray ; below brown, ranging from buff to tawny. Legs 
very short. Bill longer than head, straight and stout. 

American Woodcock. See page 236. 

2. Straight greenish gray bill, two and a half inches long. Eyes 
set far back as the last species. Above reddish and dark 
brown, sides of head and neck buff. Dark, plain wings 
301 ] 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 

margined and tipped with white ; tail bay and black, outer 
feathers soiled white with brown bars. Feet greenish gray. 

Wilson's Snipe. See page 237. 

3. Bill long and slender like the last species, which it greatly 

resembles. " Rump and tail white, the former spotted, the 
latter banded with black." Winter plumage ash-gray above 
and whitish below. Bill and feet greenish black. 

Dowitcher. See page 238. 

4. Straight bill an inch and a half long. Above black, white, ash, 

and reddish ; crown gray, streaked with black ; nape of neck 
reddish. Below rich chestnut ; legs short and thick. 

Knot. See page 239. 

6. Bill straight, half as long as head, flesh-coloured, tipped with black. 
Above black and reddish, with stripe over eye ; neck short. 
Below whitish, washed on neck and breast with dusky, broken 
by brown lines. Rump black; wings dusky; some tail feathers 
tipped with white. Feet dusky greenish. 

Pectoral Sandpiper. See page 240. 

6. Above dark brown, feathers edged with ashy and reddish. Neck 

ash-gray spotted with black. White eye stripe. Wings dusky, 
rump and tail coverts black. Below grayish white. Bill black ; 
legs dull green. 

Least Sandpiper. See page 241. 

7. Long, thin, yellow legs; bill greenish black, over two inches 

long. Above dusky, spotted with black and white. Below 
white, streaked sparsely with gray on the neck. Rump white, 
also the tail feathers, which are barred with brown. 

Greater Yellow Legs. See page 242. 

8. Long, slender, dark bill. Dark brown above with an olive wash. 

Head and neck streaked with white, rest of upper parts 
spotted with white. Below white with some streaks on the 
throat. Legs dull greenish. 

Solitary Sandpiper. See page 243. 

9. Short bill, but little longer than the head. Above gray, tinged 

with reddish. Below varying from white to buff, dark lines 
on breast and spots on belly. Outer tail quills white, barred 
with black. Feet dirty yellow. 

Bartramian Sandpiper. See page 244. 

10. Slender, flesh-coloured bill tipped with black, longer than the head. 
Above Quaker gray, with an iridescent lustre, spotted and 
streaked with black. White eye line. White below, dotted 
with black ; feet flesh-coloured. 

Spotted Sandpiper. See page 244. 
302 



KEY TO THE BIRDS, 

E. BIRDS WITH STRONG LEGS AND LONG TOES; SUB- 
DUED PLUMAGE ; INHABITANTS OF REEDY MARSHES. 

1. General colouring sand-gray, with no reddish tinge. Wings and 

tail dull brown. Bill longer than the head, yellowish brown ; 
feet the same colour. 

Clapper Rail. See page 245. 

2. General tone streaky and reddish. Above dark brown, plainly 

streaked with olive, a white line from the bill extending over 

the eye. Throat white. Below bright reddish. Wings dark 

brown, barred with white. 

Tirginia Rail. See page 246. 

3. Bill only three-fourths of an inch long, straight and stout. Above 

olive, brownish, and black, many feathers having white edges, 
and with black and white barring on the flanks. Breast slate- 
coloured, with some black on the centre of the throat. Tail 
dusky brown, darkest in centre and almost pointed. 

Sora. See page 247. 

4. Bill and frontal plate red. Above, head and neck bluish gray, 

back olive-brown, wings and tail dark. Beneath dark gray, 
grading to white on belly. 

Florida Gallinale. See page 248. 

6. Dark slate above, head and neck almost black. Whole edge of 
wing and tips of some quills white. Below paler gray ; tail 
dark brown. Bill flesh-white, with a slight rusty black mark 
at the tip. Red frontal shield. Feet pale dull green. 

American Coot. See page 249. 

P. LONG-LEGGED, LONG-NECKED, LONG-BILLED, LARGE 
BIRDS; LIVING IN WOODED SWAMPS. 

1. Above yellowish brown, much streaked and mottled with different 
shades of brown, from dark to light. Below yellowish white, 
the feathers edged and striped with brown. Tail brown, small 
and rounded. Bill yellow, edged with black; legs yellow- 
green. 

American Bittern. See page 250. 

2. Top of head, which is slightly crested, and back, rich greenish 
black. Back of neck chestnut-brown ; also wing coverts and 
the edges of some quills. Tail like back. Below muddy 
yellow, with dark brown patches on sides of breast, and some 
white around the throat. Bill, eyes, and toes yellow. 

Least Bittern. See page 251. 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 

3. Long black crest, the two longest feathers of which are shed in 

the summer moult. Upper parts and tail bluish slate, below 
black and white streaked, forehead and crown white. Bill 
yellow and dusky; feet and legs dark. (Very large Heron, 
often four feet long.) 

Great Blue Heron. See page 358. 

4. Head with lengthened crest. Above dark glossy green, sometimes 

with an iridescence. Edging of wing coverts reddish. Neck 
a rich shade of chestnut, with purplish wash ; white streak on 
the throat ; under parts whitish, shading to ash below. 

Green Heron. See page 253. 

6. Above either dull or greenish black ; tail, wings, and neck grayish. 

Throat and forehead whitish. Below livid white. Crest of 

three long white feathers often rolled into one. Bill black ; 

legs yellow. 

Black-crowned Night Heron. See page 254. 

H. OFF-SHORE BIRDS. 
* Legs long. 

1. A tube-nosed swimmer. Bill black. Above sooty brown, blacken- 

ing on wings and tail ; white rump. Long black legs, the 
foot-webbing spotted with yellow. One of "Mother Carey's 

chickens." 

Wilson's Petrel. See page 268. 

** Legs short. 

2. Bluish gray above, bill light yellow. White below. Black feet 

and tip to tail. 

Kittiwake Gull. See page 269. 

3. Above grayish blue or "gull-blue," i head and tail lighter; white 

below. Bill yellow, feet flesh colour. 

American Herring Gull. See page 270. 

4. Head and neck dark slate ; bill carmine. Back slate-coloured, 

divided from the head by the white of the neck. All under 
parts white, also tail coverts. Legs and feet dull reddish. 

I^aughing Gull. See page 270. 

6. Head and upper neck dark lead colour; bill black; back "gull- 
blue." Rump and tail white, also under parts. Wings white 
and gull-blue. Legs and feet light red. 

Bonaparte's Gull. See page 271. 

6. Bill long, coral-red at base, black toward end, and tipped with 
yellow. Upper head and back of neck black. Entire back 
and wings light gray with a bluish wash. Tail coverts, most 

^ A peculiar shade of bluish gray. 
304 , 



KEY TO THE BIRDS. 

of tail, and wing linings white ; below white and gray. Legs 

and feet light red. 

Common Tern. See page 372. 

7. Bill black, yellow at tip, and reddish at base. Black cap and 

long head feathers ; back of neck white, also entire under 
parts white with a rosy wash. Wings varied gray ; tail pearl- 
gray. Feet and legs yellowish red ; claws black. 

Roseate Tern. See page 273. 

8. Legs and bill yellow. Crown black ; back, wings, tail, and rump 

gull-blue. A few outer wing feathers black ; below white. 

Least Tern. See page 275. 



I. STOUT-BODIED DIVING BIRDS OF FRESH AND SALT 

WATER. 

1. Short, thick, black bill. Above dark brown with some white on 

wings ; below generally whitish. A small off-shore bird seldom 
seen near land. 

Dovekie. See page 275. 

2. Bill black, edged with yellowish. Head, throat, and neck iridescent 

green, blue, and purplish. Triangular patches of black and 
white streaks on either side of the throat, almost joining at the 
back, and narrowing in front. Sides of breast streaked with 
black and white ; under parts white. 

Loon. See page 276. 

3. Bill black. Blue-gray forehead. Upper parts generally dull 

black, streaked and mottled with white ; a triangle of rusty 
red on the front of neck. White below. 

Red-throated Loon. See page 276. 

4. Prominent crest, forming two yellow-brown horns, rest of head 

puffy and glossy black. Above dark brown with edgings of 

gray and black. Neck, upper breast, and sides rusty brown ; 

some white on wings. Bill black with yellow tip. These 

birds are expert swimmers but practically helpless on land. 

In winter, horns lacking. 

Horned Grebe. See page 277. 

5. Some bristling, frontal feathers, but no regular horns. Above 

dark brown, showy black markings on chin and throat. 
Breast and lower throat yellowish brown, irregularly spotted 
and barred on the upper parts ; lower parts glossy white. 
Wings brown, gray, and white. Bill much spotted. 

Fied-billed Grebe. See page 278. 

X 305. 



INDICES. 



INDEX OF ENGLISH NAMES. 



Auk, Little, 275. 

Bee Martin, 182, 183. 

Bittern, American (Plate 68), 250. 

Bittern, Least, 17, 251. 

Blackbird, Crow, 175. 

Blackbird, Red-winged (Plate 36), 

8, 17, 26, 86, 169. 
Blackbird, Rusty, 175. 
Blackbird, Thrush, 179. 
Bluebird (Plate 9), xi., 5, 7, 8, 11, 13, 

15, 26, 28, 30, 31, 35, 66, 67, 69, 90, 
157, 159, 164. 

Bobolink (Plate 35), 5, 7, 9, 13, 26, 

165, 166, 167, 248. 
Bob-white (Plate 65), 227, 228, 229. 
Booby, 265. 
Brant, 267, 268. 
Bufflehead, 264. 
Bunting, Bay-winged, 145. 
Bunting, Indigo (Plate 34), 8, 164. 
Bunting, Snow, 29, 30, 139, 142, 143. 
Butcher-bird, 122. 

Calico Snipe, 231. 
Canvasback, 262. 
Cardinal (Plate 32), xii., 9, 67, 138, 

161, 162. 
Catbird (Plate 13), 8, 14, 16, 19, 27, 

78, 79, 80, 121, 154. 
Cedar-bird, 17, 28, 124, 125. 
Chat, Yellow-breasted (Plate 19), 8, 

16, 26, 112, 120, 121, 122, 168. 
Chewink, 160. 

Chickadee (Plate 10), 26, 27, 30, 72, 

73, 85, 222. 
Chip-bird, Winter, 153. 
Chippy, 153. 
Clape, 200. 
Coot, American, 249. 



Coot, Sea, 265. 

Cowbird (Plate 39), 15, 16, 95, 107, 

167, 168. 
Crane, Blue, 252. 
Creeper, Brown (Plate 11), 27, 30, 75, 

76, 89, 104. 
Crossbill, American (Red Crossbill) 

(Plate 27), 29, 137,138, 139. 
Crow, American, 16, 178, 179. 
Crow, Fish, 179, 180. 
Cuckoo, Black-billed, 203, 204. 
Cuckoo, Yellow-billed (Plate 50), 

202, 203. 

Dabchick, 278. 

Dipper, 278. 

Dove, Mourning (Plate 62), 8, 168, 

226, 227. 
Dovekie, 275. 
Dove, Sea, 275. 
Dowitcher, 238. 
Duck, American Merganser, 255, 

256. 
Duck, American Golden-eye, 264. 
Duck, American Scaup, 263. 
Duck, American Scoter, 265. 
Duck, Black, xii., 257. 
Duck, Broad-bill, 263. 
Duck, Bufflehead, 264. 
Duck, Blue-winged Teal (Plate 73), 

259. 
Duck, Canvasback, 262. 
Duck, Crow, 249. 
Duck, Green-winged Teal (Plate 72), 

258. 
Duck, Old Squaw (Plate 75), 265. 
Duck, Old Wife, 2<)5. 
Duck, Pintail (Plate 79), 259, 260. 
Duck, Pochard American. 262. 
Duck, Redhead (Plate 74), 262, 268, 



309 



INDEX OF ENGLISH NAMES. 



Duck, Summer, 260. 

Duck, Wood (Plate 3), 22, 260, 261. 

Eagle, Bald (Plate 58), 220, 221. 
Eagle, White-headed Sea, 220. 

Finch, Grass, 145. 

Finch, Pine, 27, 31, 138, 141, 142. 

Finch, Purple, 9, 16, 19, 27, 29, 119, 

134, 135. 
Flicker (Plate 49), 17, 19, 200, 201. 
Flycatcher, Acadian, 188. 
Flycatcher, Crested, 13, 184. 
Flycatcher, Least, 189. 
Flycatcher, Olive-sided, 186. 
Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied, 187. 

Gallinule, Florida, 248, 249. 
Golden-eye, American, 264. 
Goldfinch, American (Plate 28), 5, 

11, 16, 26, 29, 30, 139, 140, 141, 157, 

164. 
Goose, Canada (Plate 76), 266, 267. 
Goose, Wild, 266, 267. 
Goshawk, American, 213, 223. 
Grackle, Purple (Plate 39), 26, 28, 

137, 175, 176. 
Grebe, Horned, 277. 
Grebe, Pied-billed (Plate 79), 278. 
Grosbeak Pine (Plate 26) , 29, 133, 134. 
Grosbeak, Rose-breasted (Plate 33), 

9, 12, 17, 26, 67, 162, 163, 164. 
Grouse. Ruffed (Plate 63), 8, 17, 27, 

69, 229, 230, 231. 
Gull, Bonaparte's, 271. 
Gull, Herring (Plate 77), 269, 270. 
Gull, Kittiwake, 269. 
Gull, Laughing, 270. 
Gull, Winter, 270. 

Hair-bird, 153. 

Harrier, 215. 

Hawk, American Rough-legged, 223. 

Hawk, American Sparrow (Plate 59) , 

222. 
Hawk, American Broad-winged, 223. 
Hawk, Blue, 215. 
Hawk, Chicken, 217. 
Hawk, Cooper's, 8, 30, 213, 217. 
Hawk, Duck, 223. 
Hawk, Fish, 223. 
Hawk, Hen, 218, 219. 
Hawk, Marsh (Plate 55), 17, 215. 
Hawk, Pigeon, 223. 



Hawk, Red-shouldered (Plate 57), 

30, 219, 220. 
Hawk, Red-tailed, 30, 218, 219. 
Hawk, Sharp-shinned (Plate 56), 30, 

216. 
Hen, Red-billed Mud, 248. 
Hen, Salt-water Marsh, 245. 
Hen, White-billed Mud, 249. 
Heron, Black-crowned Night (Plate 

70),17, 254, 255. 
Heron, Great Blue (Plate 69), 252. 
Heron, Green, 17, 253. 
High-hole, 200. 
Hummingbird, Ruby-throated (Plate 

2),16, 19, 27, 68, 194, 195, 196. 

Jay, Blue (Plate 40), 17, 27, 28, 71, 

90, 177. 
Jay, Canada, 178. 
Junco, Slate-coloured (Plate 29), 25, 

26, 29, 155, 156, 222. 

Killdeer, 233, 234. 

Kingbird (Plate 41), 16, 25, 126, 137, 

168, 182, 183, 184. 
Kingfisher, Belted (Plate 51) , 17, 28, 

30, 204, 205. 
Kinglet, Golden-crowned (Plate 8), 

28, 68. 
Kinglet, Ruby-crowned, 27, 69, 70. 
Knot, 239. 

Lark, Brown, 87. 

Lark, Horned, 28, 30, 31, 137, 144, 

145, 170, 180. 
Linnet, Redpoll, 29, 138, 139. 
Longspur, Lapland, 144, 145. 
Loon (Plate 78) , 276. 
Loon, Red-throated, 276. 

Mallard (Plate 71) , 256. 

Martin, Bee, 182, 183. 

Martin, Purple (Plate 23), 8, 16, 125, 

126. 
Martin, Sand, 129, 130. 
Meadowlark (Plate 1), xi., 8, 9, 17, 

28, 30, 31, 137, 144, 169, 170. 
Merganser, American, 255, 256. 
Merganser, Red-breasted, 256. 
Mockingbird, 9, 76, 77, 78, 137. 

Nighthawk (Plate 44), 8, 17, 191, 

192, 193. 
Nightingale, 64, 68. 



310 



INDEX OF ENGLISH NAMES. 



Nightingale, Virginia, 161. 
Nuthatch, Red-breasted, 28, 74, 75. 
Nuthatch, White-breasted (Plate 11), 
14, 17, 27, 73, 74. 

Old Squaw (Plate 74), 265. 

Old Wife, 265. 

Oriole, Baltimore (Plate 38), 5, 8, 9, 

16, 19, 25, 26, 67, 71, 116, 132, 163, 

168, 171, 173, 174. 
Oriole, Orchard (Plate 37) , 16, 19, 171. 
Ortolan, 248. 
Osprey, American (Plate 69), 17, 27, 

223, 224. 
Ovenbird (Plate 17), 17, 69, 106, 107, 

108, 168. 
Owl, Acadian, 210, 211. 
Owl, American Barn, 206. 
Owl, American Barred, 17, 28, 209, 

210. 
Owl, American Long-eared (Plate 

62), 207,212. 
Owl, Cat, 207. 
Owl, Great Horned (Plate 54), 28, 

209, 212, 213. 
Owl, Hoot, 212. 
Owl, Saw-whet, 210, 211. 
Owl, Screech (Plate 53), 17, 211, 212, 

215. 
Owl, Short-eared, 208. 
Owl, Snowy (Plate 4), 29, 31, 213, 

214, 215. 

Partridge (Plate 62), 229. 

Peep, 241, 242. 

Pelican, 38. 

Petrel, Leach's, 269. 

Petrel, Stormy, 268. 

Petrel, Wilson's, 268. 

Pewee, Water, 185. 

Pewee, Wood (Plate 42), 8, 101, 186, 

187. 
Pheasant, 229. 

Phoebe (Plate 42), 7, 8, 16, 27, 185. 
Pigeon, Passenger (Plate 61), 225, 

226. 
Pigeon, Wild, 225, 226. 
Pintail (Plate 78), 259, 260. 
Pipit, American, 87, 88. 
Plover, American Golden (Plate 64), 

232, 233. 
Plover, Black-bellied, 232. 
Plover, Field, 233. 
Plover, Killdeer, 233, 234. 



Plover, Pale Ring-neck, 235. 
Plover, Piping, 235, 236. 
Plover, Ring, 234. 
Plover, Semipalmated, 234. 
Plover, Upland, 244. 
Poke, 253. 

Qua-bird, 254. 

Quail (Plate 64), 8, 17, 27, 30, 227, 

228, 231. 
Quawk, 254. 

Rail, Blue, 248, 249. 

Rail, Carolina, 247. 

Rail, Clapper, 17, 245, 246. 

Rail, King, 247. 

Rail, Virginia (Plate 67), 17, 246, 247. 

Rain Crow, 203. 

Redhead, 262, 268. 

Redpoll, 29, 138, 139, 144. 

Redpoll, Yellow, 105. 

Redstart, American (Plate 20), 9, 16, 

99, 115, 116. 
Reedbird, 165, 166, 167. 
Robin, American (Plate 6), 7, 8, 11, 

14, 16, 26, 28, 30, 31, 35, 57, 63, 64, 

65, 66, 163. 
Robin, English, 66. 
Robin, Ground, 160. 

Sandpiper, Bartramian, 244. 
Sandpiper, Least (Plate 66), 241, 242. 
Sandpiper, Pectoral, 240. 
Sandpiper, Semipalmated, 242. 
Sandpiper, Solitary, 243. 
Sandpiper, Spotted (Plate 66), 17, 

244, 245. 
Sapsucker, Yellow-bellied (Plate 47), 

198, 199. 
Scoter, American, 265. 
Shrike, Northern (Plate 21), 28, 30, 

31, 122, 123, 124, 222. 
Siskin, Pine (or Pine Finch), 27, 29, 

31, 138, 141, 142. 
Skylark, 8, 181. 
Snipe, English, 237, 238. 
Snipe, Red-breasted, 238. 
Snipe, Robin, 239. 
Snipe, Stone, 242. 
Snipe, Wilson's (Plate 67), 8, 237, 

238. 
Snowbird, 155. 

Snowflake (Plate 28), 142, 143, 144. 
Sora. 147. 148. 



311 



INDEX OF ENGLISH NAMES. 



Sparrow, Chipping (Plate 30), 7, 8, 

16, 18, 28, 153, 154, 158. 
Sparrow, English, 16, 31, 136, 137. 
Sparrow, Field, 8, 16, 154, 155. 
Sparrow, Fox, 6, 28, 151, 159, 222. 
Sparrow, Grasshopper, 16, 148. 
Sparrow, House, 136, 137. 
Sparrow, Ipswich, 146. 
Sparrow, Savanna, 147. 
Sparrow, Seaside, 17, 150. 
Sparrow, Sharp-tailed, 149. 
Sparrow, Song (Plate 30) , 3, 7, 9, 15, 

16, 26, 27, 30, 135, 145, 156, 157, 

158, 159. 
Sparrow, Swamp Song, 158. 
Sparrow, Tree, 28, 152, 222. 
Sparrow, Vesper (Plate 29), 9, 16, 

145, 146, 155, 158. 
Sparrow, White-crowned, 6, 27, 150. 
Sparrow, White-throated (Plate 26), 

6, 7, 27, 28, 150, 151. 
Sparrow, Yellow-winged, 148. 
Sprigtail (Plate 78) , 259. 
Stake Driver, 250. 

Swallow, Bank (Plate 19), 17, 129, 

130, 131. 
Swallow, Barn (Plate 24), 16, 127, 

128. 
Swallow, Cliff, 127. 
Swallow, Eaves, 127. 
Swallow, Rough-winged, 131. 
Swallow, Sea, 272. 
Swallow, Tree (Plate 24), 129. 
SwaUow, White-bellied, 17, 129. 
Swift, Chimney (Plate 45), xii,, 8, 

16, 128, 193, 194. 

Tanager, Scarlet (Plate 25), xii., 5, 

7, 16, 27, 67, 116, 131, 132, 164. 
Teal, Blue-winged, 259. 

Teal, Green-winged, 258. 

Teeter, 244, 245. 

Tern, Common (Plate 77), 272, 273. 

Tern, Least, 275. 

Tern, Roseate, 273, 274. 

Thistle-bird, 140. 

Thrasher, Brown (Plate 14), 19, 27, 

63, 80, 81. 
Thrush, Golden-crowned, 27, 106. 
Thrush, Gray-cheeked, 60, 61, 62. 
Thrush, Hermit (Plate 8), 6, 9, 27, 

62, 63, 64, 69, 137. 
Thrush, Olive-backed (Plate 7), 61, 

62. 



Thrush, Song (Brown Thrasher), 

80. 
Thrush, Wilson's, 58, 59, 60, 61, 63. 
Thrush, Wood (Plate 6), 9, 16, 18, 

26, 57, 58, 62, 63, 81, 132, 137, 168. 
Titlark, 87, 88. 

Titmouse, Black-capped, 72. 
Titmouse, Tufted, 71. 
Towhee (Plate 31) , 8, 16, 27, 160, 168. 
Turnstone (Plate 64), 231. 

Veery (Frontispiece), 8, 9, 17, 26, 58, 

59, 60, 61, 63. 
Vireo, Blue-headed, 120. 
Vireo, Philadelphia, 119. 
Vireo, Red-eyed (Plate 17), 16, 19, 

27, 116, 117. 

Vireo, Solitary, 19, 120. 
Vireo, Warbling, 17, 118, 119. 
Vireo, White-eyed, 16, 121, 122. 
Vireo, Yellow-throated, 17, 119, 120. 

Wagtail, Water, 108. 

Warbler, Bay-breasted, 27, 99, 100. 

Warbler, Black and white (Plate 

16),27, 88, 89, 101. 
Warbler, Black and yellow, 97. 
Warbler, Blackburnian, 102, 116, 

132. 
Warbler, Black-capped, 114. 
Warbler, Black-poll, 7, 101. 
Warbler, Black-throated Blue, 27, 

95,96. 
Warbler, Black-throated Green, 9, 

17, 27, 102, 103. 
Warbler, Blue-winged, 17, 90. 
Warbler, Blue Yellow-backed, 93. 
Warbler, Canadian, 114, 115. 
Warbler, Chestnut-sided, 98, 99. 
Warbler, Golden-winged, 90, 91. 
Warbler, Hooded, 113. 
Warbler, Magnolia, 97, 98. 
Warbler, Mourning, 110. 
Warbler, Myrtle (Plate 16), 27, 96, 

97, 104. 
Warbler, Nashville, 91, 92. 
Warbler, Parula, 20, 93, 94. 
Warbler, Pine, 28, 103, 104. 
Warbler, Prairie, 105. 
Warbler, Wilson's, 114. 
Warbler, Worm-eating, 89. 
Warbler, Yellow (Plate 10), 16, 19, 

26, 94, 95, 116, 132. 
Warbler, Yellow Palm, 27, 104, 105. 



312 



INDEX OF ENGLISH NAMES. 



Warbler, Yellow-rumped, 96. 

Water Thrush, 108. 

Water Thrush, Louisiana, 107, 108, 
109. 

Waxwing, Cedar (Plate 22), 11, 124, 
125. 

Whip-poor-will (Plate 43), 8, 9, 10, 
17, 60, 128, 190, 191, 192. 

Whistler, 264. 

Woodcock, American (Plate 65), 8, 
17, 236, 237. 

Woodpecker, Downy (Plate 46), 198. 

Woodpecker, Golden-winged (Flick- 
er) (Plate 49), 200. 

Woodpecker, Hairy, 196, 197. 



Woodpecker, Red-headed (Plate 48), 

199. 
Wren, Carolina, 82, 83. 
Wren, House (Plate 15), 16, 19, 83, 

84. 
Wren, Long-billed Marsh (Plate 15), 

17, 86, 158. 
Wren, Short-billed Marsh, 85, 86, 158. 
Wren, Winter, 27, 28, 68, 84, 85. 

Yellowbird, Summer, 94. 
Yellowhammer, 200. 
Yellow-legs, Greater, 242. 
Yellow-throat, Maryland (Plate 18), 
9, 16, 27, 110, 111, 113, 120. 



313 



INDEX OF LATIN NAMES. 



Acanthis linaria, 138. 

Accipiter cooperi, 217. 

Aecipiter velox, 216. 

Actitis macularia, 244. 

iEgialitis meloda, 235. 

J^gialitis semipalmata, 234. 

.^gialitis vocifera, 233. 

Agelaius phceniceus, 169. 

Aix sponsa, 260. 

Alle alle, 275. 

Ammodramus caudacutus, 149. 

Ammodramus maritimus, 150. 

Ammodramus princeps, 146. 

Ammodramus sandwichensis sa- 
vanna, 147. 

Ammodramus savannarum passeri- 
nus, 148. 

Ampelis cedrorum, 124. 

Anas bochas, 256. 

Anas carolinensis, 258. 

Anas discors, 259. 

Anas obscura, 257. 

Anthus pensilvanicus, 87. 

Antrostomus vociferus, 190. 

Ardea herodias, 252. 

Ardea virescens, 253. 

Ardetta exilis, 251. 

Arenaria interpres, 231. 

Asio accipitrinus, 208. 

Asio wilsonianus, 207. 

Aythya americana, 262. 

Aythya marila nearctica, 263. 

Aythya vallisneria, 262. 

Bartramia longicauda, 244. 
Bonasa umbellus, 229. 
Botaurus lentiginosus, 250. 
Branta bernicla, 267. 
Branta canadensis, 266. 
Bubo virgianus, 212. 
Buteo borealis, 218. 
Buteo lineatus, 219. 



Calcarius lapponicus, 144. 
Cardinalis cardinalis, 161. 
Carpodacus purpureus, 134. 
Certhia familiaris americana, 76. 
Ceryle alcyon, 204. 
Chsetura pelagica, 193. 
Charadrius dominicus, 233. 
Charadrius squatarola, 232. 
Charitonetta albeola, 264. 
Chelidon erythrogaster, 127. 
Chordeiles virginianus, 191. 
Circus hudsonius, 215. 
Cistothorus palustris, 86. 
Cistothorus stellaris, 85. 
Clangula hyemalis, 265. 
Clivicola riparia, 130. 
Coccyzus americanus, 202. 
Coccyzus erythrophthalmus, 203. 
Colaptes auratus, 200. 
Colinus virginianus, 227. 
Colymbus auritus, 277. 
Compsothlypis americana, 93. 
Contopus borealis, 186. 
Contopus virens, 186. 
Corvus americanus, 178. 
Corvus ossifragus, 179. 
Cyanocitta cristata, 177. 

Dafila acuta, 259. 
Dendroica aestiva, 94. 
Dendroica blackburniae, 102. 
Dendroica caerulescens, 95. 
Dendroica castanea, 99. 
Dendroica coronata, 96. 
Dendroica discolor, 105. 
Dendroica maculosa, 97. 
Dendroica palmar um hypochryseai 

104. 
Dendroica pensylvanica, 98. 
Dendroica striata, 101. 
Dendroica vigorsii, 103. 
Dendroica virens, 102. 



315 



INDEX OF LATIN NAMES. 



Dolichonyx oryzivorus, 165. 
Dryobates pubescens, 198. 
Dryobates villosus, 196. 

Ectopistes migratorius, 225. 
Empidonax acadicus, 188. 
Empidonax flaviventris, 187. 
Empidonax minimus, 189. 
Ereunetes pusillus, 242. 

Falco sparverius, 222. 
Fulica americana, 249. 

Galeoscoptes carolinensis, 78. 
Gallinago delicata, 237. 
Gallinula galeata, 248. 
Geothlypis Philadelphia, 110. 
Geothlypis trichas, 110. 
Glaucionetta clangula americana, 
264. 

Habia ludoviciana, 162. 
Haliaetus leucocephalus, 220. 
Harporhynchus rufus, 80. 
Helminthophila chrysoptera, 90. 
Helmiuthophila pinus, 90. 
Helminthophila ruficapilla, 91. 
Helmitherus vermivorus, 89. 

Icteria virens, 112. 
Icterus galbula, 172. 
Icterus spurius, 171. 

Junco hyemalis, 155. 

Lanius borealis, 122. 

Larus argentatus smithsonianu8,270. 

Larus atricilla, 270. 

Larus Philadelphia, 271. 

Loxia curvirostra minor, 137. 

Macrorhamphus griseus, 238. 
Megascops asio, 211. 
Melanerpes erythrocephalus, 199. 
Melospiza fasciata, 156. 
Melospiza georgiana, 158. 
Merganser americanus, 255. 
Merula migratoria, 64. 
Mimus polyglottus, 76. 
Mniotilta varia, 88. 
Molothrus ater, 167. 
Myiarchus crinitus, 184. 

Nyctala acadia, 210. 



Nyctea nyctea, 213. 

Nycticorax nycticorax naevius, 254. 

Oceanites oceanicus, 268. 
Oidemia americana, 265. 
Otocoris alpestris, 180. 

Pandion haliaetus carolinensis, 223. 
Parus atricapillus, 72. 
Parus bicolor, 71. 
Passer domesticus, 136. 
Passerella iliaca, 159. 
Passerina cyanea, 164. 
Petrochelidou lunifrons, 127. 
Philohela minor, 236. 
Pinicola enucleator, 133. 
Pipilo erythrophthalmus, 160. 
Piranga erythromelas, 131. 
Plectrophenax nivalis, 142. 
Podilymbus podiceps, 278. 
Poocaetes gramineus, 145. 
Porzana Carolina, 247. 
Progne subis, 125. 

Quiscalus quiscula, 175. 

Rallus longirostris crepitans, 246. 
Rallus Virginian us, 246. 
Regulus calendula, 69. 
Regulus satrapa, 68. 
Rissa tridactyla, 269. 

Sayornis phcebe, 185. 
Scolecophagus carolinus, 175. 
Seiurus aurocapillus, 106. 
Seiurus motacilla, 108. 
Seiurus noveboracensis, 108. 
Setophaga ruticilla, 115. 
Sialia sialis, 66. 
Sitta canadensis, 74. 
Sitta carolinensis, 73. 
Sphyrapicus varius, 198 
Spinus pinus, 141. 
Spinus tristis, 140. 
Spizella monticola, 152. 
Spizella pusilla, 154. 
Spizella socialis, 153. 
Sterna antillarum, 275. 
Sterna dougalii, 273. 
Sterna hirundo, 272. 
Strix pratincola, 206. 
Sturnella magna, 170. 
Sylvania canadensis, 114. 
316 



INDEX OF LATIN NAMES. 



Sylvania mitrata, 113. 
Sylvania pusilla, 114. 
Syrnium nebulosum, 209. 

Tachycineta bicolor, 129. 
Thryothorus ludovicianus, 82. 
Totanus melanoleucus, 242. 
Totanus solitarius, 243. 
Tringa canutus, 239. 
Triuga maculata, 240. 
Tringa minutilla, 241. 
Trochilus colubris, 194. 
Troglodytes aedon, 83. 
Troglodytes hiemalis, 84. 
Turdus alicise, 60, 
Turdus aonalaschkae pallasii, 62. 
Turdus fuscescens, 58. 



Turdus mustelinus, 57. 

Turdus ustulatus swainsonii, 61. 

Tyrannus tyrannus, 182. 

Urinator imber, 276. 
Urinator lumme, 276. 

Vireo flavifrons, 119. 
Vireo gilvus, 118. 
Vireo noveboracensis, 121. 
Vireo olivaceus, 116. 
Vireo philadelphicus, 119. 
Vireo solitarius, 120. 

Zenaidura macroura, 226. 
Zonotrichia albicollis, 151. 
Zonotrichia leucophrys, 150. 



317 



BY THE SAME AUTHOR. 



THE FRIENDSHIP OF NATURE. 

A NEW ENGLAND CHRONICLE OF BIRDS 
AND FLOWERS. 

By MABEL OSGOOD WRIGHT. 

Cloth, i8mo, silt top, 75 cents. 
Large Paper Edition, with Illustrations, $3.00. 



"A charming chronicle it is, abounding in excellent descrip- 
tions and interesting comment." — Chicago Evening Journal. 

"The author sees and vividly describes what she sees. But 
more, she has rare insight and sees deeply, and the most precious 
things lie deep." — Boston Daily Advertiser. 

" There is much of the feeling of Henry D. Thoreau between 
the covers of this book, and the expression is characterized by a 
poetic appreciation of the value of word-combination which is 
admirable." — Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. 

" A delightful little book . . . which brings one into intimate 
acquaintance with nature, the wild flowers, the fields, and the 
brooks." — Springfield Union. 

" Thoroughly delightful reading." — Boston Courier. 

"A very clever little book. It . . . takes us through a New 
England year, describing the birds, flowers, and woods in a most 
poetical and delightful mood." — Detroit Free Press. 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY, 
66 Fifth Avenue, New York. 



The Macmillan Company's Publications. 



THE 

Beauties of Nature 

AND THE WONDERS OF THE WORLD 
WE LIVE IN. 

By The Right Hon. Sir JOHN LUBBOCK, Bart., M.P., 
F.R.S., D.C.L., LL.D. 

Cloth, gilt top. 12ino. $1.50. 



*' We know of none other better fitted to present ' the beauties of nature and 
the wonders of the world we live in,' to the popular understanding and appreci- 
ation than Sir John Lubbock, who is at once a master of his chosen topic and of 
a diction unsurpassed for clearness and simplicity of statement. It is a volume 
which the reading public will recognize and hail immediately as among the most 
delightfully instructive of the year's production in books. There is matter in 
it for the young and the mature mind. . . . One cannot rise from the perusal 
of this volume, without a consciousness of a mind invigorated and permanently 
enriched by an acquaintance with it." — Oswego Daily Times. 

" It is a charming book. . . . Few writers succeed In making natural history, 
and indeed scientific subjects, more than interesting. In the hands of most 
authors they are intolerably dull to the general reader and especially to children. 
Sir John Lubbock makes his theme as entrancing as a novel. . . . The book 
is magnificently illustrated, and discusses the wonders of the animal, mineral, 
and vegetable kingdoms, the marvels of earth, sea, and the vaulted heavens. In 
the compass of its pages an immense amount of knowledge which all should 
know is given in a manner that will compel the child who commences it to 
pursue it to the end. It is a work which cannot be too highly recommended 
to parents who have at heart the proper education of their children." — The 
Arena. 

"We have here a rich store of information told in the charming style for 
which the distinguished author is famous. It is suited alike to the scientific and 
the unscientific reader. The wonders of animal, especially of insect, life, of 
plant life, of woods and fields, of mountains, of rivers, of lakes, of the sea and 
of the starry heavens, are here delightfully described, and they are marvellous 
indeed. ... It is a good book to kindle m the reader a love of nature. . . . 
There is not a dry or dull page in the book." — The Western Recorder. 

" We find nothing to criticise and everything to enjoy. . . . The unpreten- 
tious method and the simplicity of the style will attract even a child, and the 
whole book has a winning power. . . . The author is copious in information, 
suggestive in profound thought, and so clear and forcible in style that man or 
girl or boy can enjoy his every page." — The Literary World. 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY, 
66 Fifth Avenue, New York. 




\-\ \ \ \ \