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I 



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HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY 

THE BEQUEST OF 

WILLIAM LAMBERT RICHARDSON 

A.B. 1864, M.D. 1S67 

OF BOSTON 



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BIRD NEIGHBORS 




AMERICAS GOLDFINCH. 



I 



Copyright, 1904, by 
Doubleday, Page & Company 

Copyright, 1897, by 
Doubleday & McGure Company 

Colored plates copyright, 1900, by 
A. W. Mumford, Chicago 



NortoootJ ftrtflS : 
Berwick It Smith Co., Norwood, Mui M U.S.A- 



BIRD NEIGHBORS, an 

INTRODUCTORY ACQUAINTANCE 
WITH ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY 
BIRDS COMMONLY FOUND IN 
THE GARDENS, MEADOWS, AND 
WOODS ABOUT OUR HOMES 



BY 

NELTJE BLANCHAN 

WITH INTRODUCTION BY 

JOHN BURROUGHS 



WITH MANY PHOTOGRAPHIC ILLUSTRATIONS 
IN COLOR AND IN BLACK AND WHITE 




NEW YORK 
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 

1905 




THE 
NATURE LIBRARY 

AND WHAT IT MEANS 
TO THE READER 



BY 

JOHN BURROUGHS 




THE NATURE LIBRARY 

By JOHN BURROUGHS 

I do not propose in these introductory remarks to this 
Nature Library to discuss the merits or the character of the sepa- 
rate volumes further than to say that they are all by competent 
hands and, so far as I can judge, entirely reliable. While accu- 
rate and scientific, I have found them very readable. The treat- 
ment is popular without being sensational. 

This library is free from the scientific dry rot on the one 
hand and from the florid and misleading romanticism of much 
recent nature writing on the other. It is a safe guide to the 
world of animal and plant life that lies about us. And that is all 
the wise reader wants. He should want to explore this world 
for himself. Indeed, nature-study, as it appeals to us in books, 
fails of its chief end if it does not send us to nature itself. What 
we want is not the mere facts about the flowers or the animals — 
we want through them to add to the resources of our lives; and 
I know of nothing better calculated to do this than the study of 
nature at first hand. To add to the resources of one's life — think 
how much that means! To add to those things that make us 
more at home in the world; that help guard us against ennui 
and stagnation; that invest the country with new interest and 
enticement; that make every walk in the fields or woods an 
excursion into a land of unexhausted treasures; that make the 
returning seasons fill us with expectation and delight; that make 
every rod of ground like the page of a book in which new and 
strange things may be read; in short, those things that help keep 
us fresh and sane and young, and make us immune to the strife 
and fever of the world. 

The main thing is to feel an interest in Nature — an interest 

that leads to a loving unconscious study of her. Not entirely a 

scientific interest, but a human interest as well ; science upon the 

one hand and an appreciation of the mystery, the beauty, and 

the bounty of life upon the other. The child feels a human inter- 

ix 




The Nature Library 

est in nature: when the schoolgirls come to school with their 
hands full of wild flowers, or the boys make excursions to the 
woods in May for wintergreens, or black birch, or crinkle root, 
they are all moved by an interest that is old and deep-seated in 
the race. Now, if to this interest and curiosity we can add a 
little science, just enough to guide them, we lift these feelings to 
another plane and give them a longer lease of life. The boy will 
not be so likely to rob birds' nests after the savage in him has 
been humanized by a touch of real knowledge and he has come 
to look upon the bird as something worthy of naming and 
studying and that has its place in the economy of the fields 
and woods. 

A touch of real knowledge — how humanizing and elevating 
it is! Simply to learn that all the plants have been studied and 
named, even the humblest ; that they all have vital relations with 
one another — family ties ; that the great biological laws are 
operative in them also; that the deep, mysterious principle of 
variation, which is at the bottom of Darwin's theory of the origin 
of the species, is working in the lowliest plant we tread upon ; to 
know that the chain of cause and effect runs through the whole 
organic world, binding together its remotest parts; that every- 
where is plan, development, evolution — to know these and kin- 
dred things — a few of the fundamentals of science — is a joy to 
the spirit and a light to the mind. 

Science in the world is like the surveyor and the engineer in 
a new country; it opens up highways for the mind; it bridges 
the chasms and marshes; it gives us dominion over the wild; it 
brings order out of chaos. What a maze, what a tangle the 
world is till we come to look upon it with the clews and solu- 
tions in mind which science affords! The heavens seem a 
haphazard spatter of stars, the earth a wild jumble of plants, and 
animals, and blind forces all struggling with one another — con- 
fusion, contradiction, failure everywhere. And so it was to the 
early men, and so it still is to those who have not the light of 
science, but so it need not remain to the child born into the world 
to-day. The great mysteries of life and death, of final causes 
and ultimate ends, still remain and will continue, but nature now, 
compared with the nature of a few centuries ago, is like a land 
subdued and peopled and cultivated compared with a pathless 
wilderness. 



The Nature Library 

And yet I would not in this connection, when considering 
the field of natural history, lay too much stress upon the scientific 
aspects of the question. To the real nature-lover the bird in the 
bush is worth much more than the bird in the hand, because 
the nature-lover is not after a specimen: he is after a living fact; 
he is after a new joy in life. 

It is an important part, but by no means the main part of 
what ornithology holds for us, to be able to name every bird on 
sight or call. To love the bird, to appreciate its place in the 
landscape and in the season, to relate it to your daily life, to 
divine its character, to know it emotionally in your heart — that is 
much more. To know the birds as the sportsman knows his 
game; to experience the same thrill, purged of all thoughts of 
slaughter; to make their songs music in your life — this is indeed 
something to be desired. 

The same with botany. I regard its class-room uses as 
very slight. The educational value of the technical part is almost 
nil. But the humanizing value of a love of the flowers, the 
hygienic value of a walk in their haunts, the aesthetic value of the 
observation of their forms and tints — these are all vital. The 
scientific value which attaches to your knowledge of the names 
of their parts or of their families — what is that ? Their habits are 
interesting; their means of fertilization are interesting; the part 
insects play in their lives — the honey-yielders, the pollen-yielders, 
their means of scattering their seeds, and so forth — all are interest- 
ing. To know their habitats and seasons; to have associations 
with them when you go fishing; to land your trout in a bed 
of bee-palm or jewel- weed ; to pluck the linnaea in the moss on 
the Adirondack mountain you are climbing; to gather pond-lilies 
from a boat with your friend ; to pluck the arbutus on the first 
balmy day of April; to see the scarlet lobelia lighting up a dark 
nook by the stream as you row by in August; to walk or drive 
past vast acres of purple loosestrife, looking like a lake or sea of 
color — this is botany with something back of it, and the only 
place to learn it is where it grows. The botany that trails the 
days and the season and the woods and the fields with it — that 
is the kind that has educational value in it. 

I confess I have not much sympathy with the laboratory 
study of nature, except for economic purposes. Nature under 
the dissecting knife and the microscope yields important secrets 

xi 




The Nature Library 

to the students of biology, but the unprofessional students want 
but little of all this. I know a young woman who took a post- 
graduate course in biology at a noted summer school, and the 
one thing she learned was that certain bacilli were found only 
in the aqueous humor of the eyes of white mice. The world 
is full of curious facts like that, that have no human interest 
or educational value whatever. 

If one could number all the trees of the forest and all the 
leaves upon the trees, what would it profit him? To know 
the different kinds of trees when you see them, and the func- 
tion of the leaves upon them — that were more worth while. 
1 have read studies of leaves that were just as profitless as to 
know their numbers. I have heard discourses upon the changes 
in the plumage of certain water-fowl from youth to age, and 
from one moult to another, that were as profitless and weari- 
some as studying the variations of the leaves or their numbers. 

I hardly know why I am impatient when people come to 
me with their hands full of different leaves and ask me what 
tree is this from, and this, and this ? If your business is not 
with trees, if you live in the city and care mainly for city things, 
why bother about the trees, unless for the pleasure of it during 
your summer excursions into the country; and if it affords you 
pleasure, you will not want any one to tell you: you will want 
to identify the trees themselves. 

The same with the birds. The main profit of this branch of 
natural history is in the pursuit — not in the name, but in the bird. 
It is the chase that allures the sportsman, and it is the chase that 
profits the nature-student. Did you ever receive a gift of brook- 
trout by express? How pitiful they look — stale fish only! But 
the trout you brought in at night after threading for miles the 
mountain stream: its voice all day in your ears; its sparkle all day 
in your eyes; the love of its beauty and purity all day in your 
heart; wading through bee-balm or jewel-weed; skirting wild 
pastures; starting the grouse or the woodcock with their young; 
surprising bird and beast at their home occupations — these were 
trout with a flavor. 

Whatever opens up new doors or windows for us into the 
world about us, whatever widens the field of our interests and 
sympathies, has some sort of value — moral, intellectual, or 
aesthetic. But much of the so-called nature-study opens no new 

• • 

xu 



The Nature Library 

doors or windows; it affords no mental satisfaction, or illumin- 
ation, or aesthetic pleasure ; it is mainly pottering with dry, unim- 
portant facts and details. Do you know the edelweiss of our 
own matchless arbutus after you have merely analyzed and 
classified them ? No more than you know a man after having 
weighed and measured him. The function of things is always 
interesting. What do they do ? How do they pay their way in 
the rigid economy of nature ? How do they survive ? How does 
the bulb of the common fawn-lily 1 get deeper and deeper into the 
ground each year ? Why does the wild ginger hide its blossom 
when nearly all other plants flaunt theirs ? Why are the plants of 
the common mouse-ear (antennariay always in groups, one sex 
here, another there, as if prohibited from mingling by some 
moral code in nature ? Why do nearly all our trees have a twist 
to the right or the left — hard woods one way, and soft woods the 
other? Why do the roots of trees flow through the ground like 
"runnels of molten metal," often separating and uniting again, 
while the branches are thrust out in right lines or curves ? Why 
is our common yellow birch more often than any other tree 
planted upon a rock ? Why do oaks or chestnuts so often spring 
up where a pine or hemlock forest has been cleared away ? Why 
does lightning so commonly strike a hemlock tree or a pine or an 
oak, and rarely or never a beech ? Why does the bolt sometimes 
scatter the tree about, and at others only plow a channel down 
its trunk ? Why does the bumblebee complain so loudly when 
working upon certain flowers ? Why does the honey-bee lose the 
sting when it stings a person, while the wasp, the hornet, and 
the bumblebee do not ? How does the chimney-swallow get the 
twigs it builds its nest with ? From what does the hornet make 
its paper ? 

One of Herbert Spencer's questions was, Why do animals 
and birds of prey have their eyes in front, and others, as sheep 
and domestic fowl, on the side of the head ? Man, then, by the 
position of his eyes belongs to the predaceous animals. 1 have 
never been greatly interested in spiders, but 1 have always 
wanted to know how a certain spider managed to stretch her 
cable squarely across the road in the woods about my height from 
the ground ? Why are mud turtles so wild ? Why is the excre- 

1 The adder'g tongue. 
> Ererlasting. 

ZU1 




The Nature Library 

ment of the young of some birds carried away by the parents, 
while with others it is voided from the nest ? Among certain 
of our birds the family relation, more or less marked, is kept up 
a long time after the young have left the nest. One sees the 
parent birds and the young going about in loose flocks often 
till late into the fall. Of what birds is this true ? 

The questions I have suggested are not important; they do 
not hold the key to any great storehouse of natural knowledge. 
Their only value is as a means to quicken the powers of observa- 
tion. We see vaguely, diffusely. Concentrate the attention — 
not to the extent of missing total effects, as the specialist so often 
does, but for the purpose of reading correctly the play of life that 
is constantly going about us. 

Nature's book is like any other book: you must open the 
covers; you must fix your eyes upon the text; you must get into 
the spirit of it. When you have read one sentence correctly you 
are so much the better prepared to read the next one. 

A world of nature about us that we are quite apt to be 
oblivious to, except as it results in our annoyance, is the insect 
world. We do not take an intelligent interest in the ants, or the 
bees, or the moths, or the butterflies, yet here is a field of obser- 
vation that will amply repay one. One day in a great city 1 saw 
a butterfly calmly winging its way high above the crowded street. 
I knew it was the monarch (Anosia plexippus), probably the 
greatest traveler of all our butterflies. It is quite certain that they 
migrate to the South in the fall, and that many return in the 
spring. I learn from Mr. Holland's Butterfly Book in this library 
that they have even crossed both oceans — of course, by 
catching a ride on vessels — and are now found in Australia and 
in the Philippines, and they have been collected in England. 
Have you not seen its chrysalis suspended from some weed or 
bush, looking like the trunk from some tiny warrior encased in 
pale-green armor, riveted with gold-headed rivets, a broad, heavy 
shield over the abdomen, and plate upon plate over the shoulders 
and back? It is a milkweed butterfly, and will serve as a good 
introduction to this new world of winged life. Early last spring 
I found upon the window of my cabin in the woods a butterfly 
that had evidently hybernated in some snug crack or corner of 
the building. This was the mourning cloak, with me the first 

vernal butterfly. When one sees this butterfly dancing through 

ariv 



The Nature Library 

the open sunny woods in March or early April he may know 
spring has really come and that the first hepatica will soon open 
its blue eye. 

Mr. Howard's Insect Book ought to start many of its readers 
to observing flies and bees and prying into their life-histories, 
many of which are as yet not fully known. Not a farm-boy but 
knows of the big fat grubs in cows' backs in the spring. It was 
always a mystery to me how they got there. Now it is known 
that the creature has traveled all the way from the cow's 
stomach, where the egg of its parent — the bot-fly — was hatched, 
making its way slowly "through the connective tissues of the 
cow, between the skin and the flesh, penetrating gradually along 
the neck, and ultimately reaching a point beneath the skin on the 
back of the animal." 

We have only to look into nature a little more closely and 
intently, to whet our powers of observation by the use of such 
books as this Nature Library contains, to add vastly to our 
pleasure in and our knowledge of the world that lies about us. 



XV 




INTRODUCTION 

I write these few introductory sentences to this volume only 
to second so worthy an attempt to quicken and enlarge the gen- 
eral interest in our birds. The book itself is merely an introduc- 
tion, and is only designed to place a few clews in the reader's 
hands which he himself or herself is to follow up. I can say that 
it is reliable and is written in a vivacious strain and by a real 
bird lover, and should prove a help and a stimulus to any one 
who seeks by the aid of its pages to become better acquainted 
with our songsters. The pictures, with a few exceptions, are 
remarkably good and accurate, and these, with the various group- 
ing of the birds according to color, season, habitat, etc., ought to 
render the identification of the birds, with no other weapon than 
an opera glass, an easy matter. 

When 1 began the study of the birds I had access to a copy 
of Audubon, which greatly stimulated my interest in the pursuit, 
but I did not have the opera glass, and I could not take Audubon 
with me on my walks, as the reader may this volume, and he 
will find these colored plates quite as helpful as those of Audubon 
or Wilson. 

But you do not want to make out your bird the first time ; 
the book or your friend must not make the problem too easy for 
you. You must go again and again, and see and hear your bird 
under varying conditions and get a good hold of several of its 
characteristic traits. Things easily learned are apt to be easily for- 
gotten. Some ladies, beginning the study of birds, once wrote to 
me, asking if I would not please come and help them, and set 
them right about certain birds in dispute. 1 replied that that 
would be getting their knowledge too easily; that what I and 
any one else told them they would be very apt to forget, but that 
the things they found out themselves they would always remem- 
ber. We must in a way earn what we have or keep. Only thus 
docs it become ours, & real part of us. 

Not very long afterward I had the pleasure of walking with 
one of the ladies, and 1 found her eye and ear quite as sharp as 
my own, and that she was in a fair way to conquer the bird king- 
dom without any outside help. She said that the groves and 
fields, through which she used to walk with only a languid inter- 




est, were now completely transformed to her and afforded her 
the keenest pleasure ; a whole new world of interest had been 
disclosed to her; she felt as if she was constantly on the eve of 
some new discovery; the next turn in the path might reveal to 
her a new warbler or a new vireo. I remember the thrill she 
seemed to experience when I called her attention to a purple finch 
singing in the tree-tops in front of her house, a rare visitant she 
had not before heard. The thrill would of course have been 
greater had she identified the bird without my aid. One would 
rather bag one's own game, whether it be with a bullet or an 
eyebeam. 

The experience of this lady is the experience of all in whom 
is kindled this bird enthusiasm. A new interest is added to life ; 
one more resource against ennui and stagnation. If you have 
only a city yard with a few sickly trees in it, you will find great 
delight in noting the numerous stragglers from the great army of 
spring and autumn migrants that find their way there. If you 
live in the country, it is as if new eyes and new ears were given 
you, with a correspondingly increased capacity for rural enjoyment. 

The birds link themselves to your memory of seasons and 
places, so that a song, a call, a gleam of color, set going a 
sequence of delightful reminiscences in your mind. When a soli- 
tary great Carolina wren came one August day and took up its 
abode near me and sang and called and warbled as 1 had heard it 
long before on the Potomac, how it brought the old days, the 
old scenes back again, and made me for the moment younger by 
all those years ! 

A few seasons ago I feared the tribe of bluebirds were on 
the verge of extinction from the enormous number of them that 
perished from cold and hunger in the South in the winter of '94. 
For two summers not a blue wing, not a blue warble. 1 seemed 
to miss something kindred and precious from my environment — 
the visible embodiment of the tender sky and the wistful soil. 
What a loss, I said, to the coming generations of dwellers in the 
country — no bluebird in the spring ! What will the farm-boy 
date from ? But the fear was groundless: the birds are regaining 
their lost ground; broods of young blue-coats are again seen 
drifting from stake to stake or from mullen-stalk to mullen-stalk 
about the fields in summer, and our April air will doubtless again 
be warmed and thrilled by this lovely harbinger of spring. 

John Burroughs. 

August 17, '97. 



PREFACE 

Not to have so much as a bowing acquaintance with the 
birds that nest in our gardens or under the very eaves of our 
houses; that haunt our wood-piles; keep our fruit-trees free from 
slugs; waken us with their songs, and enliven our walks along 
the roadside and through the woods, seems to be, at least, a 
breach of etiquette toward some of our most kindly disposed 
neighbors. 

Birds of prey, game and water birds are not included in the 
book. The following pages are intended to be nothing more than 
a familiar introduction to the birds that live near us. Even in the 
principal park of a great city like New York, a bird-lover has found 
more than one hundred and thirty species ; as many, probably, 
as could be discovered in the same sized territory anywhere. 

The plan of the book is not a scientific one, if the term 
scientific is understood to mean technical and anatomical. The 
purpose of the writer is to give, in a popular and accessible form, 
knowledge which is accurate and reliable about the life of our 
common birds. This knowledge has not been collected from the 
stuffed carcasses of birds in museums, but gleaned afield. In a 
word, these short narrative descriptions treat of the bird's char- 
acteristics of size, color, and flight; its peculiarities of instinct 
and temperament; its nest and home life; its choice of food; its 
songs ; and of the season in which we may expect it to play its 
part in the great panorama Nature unfolds with faithful precision 
year after year. They are an attempt to make the bird so live 
before the reader that, when seen out of doors, its recognition 
shall be instant and cordial, like that given to a friend. 

The coloring described in this book is sometimes more vivid 
than that found in the works of some learned authorities, whose 
conflicting testimony is often sadly bewildering to the novice. 
In different parts of the country, and at different seasons of the 
year, the plumage of some birds undergoes many changes. The 
reader must remember, therefore, that the specimens examined 
and described were not, as before stated, the faded ones in our 
museums, but live birds in their fresh, spring plumage, studied 
afield 




The birds have been classed into color groups in the belief 
that this method, more than any other, will make identification 
most easy. The color of the bird is the first, and often the only, 
characteristic noticed. But they have also been classified accord- 
ing to the localities for which they show decided preferences and 
in which they are. most likely to be found. Again, they have 
been grouped according to the season when they may be expected. 
In the brief paragraphs that deal with groups of birds separated 
into the various families represented in the book, the characteristics 
and traits of each clan are clearly emphasized. By these several 
aids it is believed the merest novice will be able to quickly identify 
any bird neighbor that is neither local nor rare. 

To the uninitiated or uninterested observer, all small, dull- 
colored birds are "common sparrows." The closer scrutiny of 
the trained eye quickly differentiates, and picks out not only the 
Song, the Canada, and the Fox Sparrows, but finds a dozen other 
familiar friends where one who "has eyes and sees not" does 
not even suspect their presence. Ruskin says: "The more I 
think of it, 1 find this conclusion more impressed upon me, that 
the greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see 
something. . . . Hundreds of people can talk for one who 
can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see 
clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion — all in one." 

While the author is indebted to all the time-honored standard 
authorities, and to many ornithologists of the present day, — too 
many for individual mention, — it is to Mr. John Burroughs her 
deepest debt is due. To this clear-visioned prophet, who has 
opened the blind eyes of thousands to the delights that Nature 
holds within our easy reach, she would gratefully acknowledge 
many obligations: first of all, for the plan on which " Bird Neigh- 
bors " is arranged ; next, for his patient kindness in reading and 
annotating the manuscript of the book; and, not least, for the 
inspiration of his perennially charming writings that are so largely 
responsible for the ready-made audience now awaiting writers on 

out-of-door topics. 

Neltje Blanchan. 



LIST OF COLORED PLATES 

FACIWO PAOH 

Goldfinch— Frontispiece 

Kingbird 4 

Mocking-bird 12 

Crow 41 

Bronzed Grackle . . . 44 

Red-winged Blackbird 48 

Downy Woodpecker 54 

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 56 

Towhees 58 

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks 60 

Bobolinks 62 

Black and White Creeping Warbler .... 64 

Chimney Swift 67 

Wood Pewee 68 

Phcebe 72 

Chickadee 76 

Catbird 80 

White-breasted Nuthatch 84 

Northern Shrike 86 

Myrtle Warbler 92 

Indigo Bird 100 

Kingfisher 102 

Blue Jay 104 

Barn Swallow 106 

House Wren . 115 

Long-billed Marsh Wrens 118 



i 



FACING PAGE 

22 



Wilson's Thrush 

Hermit Thrush 

Flicker 

Meadowlark 

Whippoorwill 

Yellow-billed Cuckoo 

Cedar Waxwing 

Brown Creeper 

Song Sparrow 

Ruby-throated Humming-birds 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 

Red-eyed Vireo 

Warbling Vireo 

Blue-winged Yellow Warbler 

Yellow Warbler 204 

Yellow-breasted Chat . 206 

Blackburnian Warbler 208 

Baltimore Oriole 210 

Cardinal 215 

Scarlet Tanager 218 

Red Crossbills 220 

Orchard Oriole 226 



24 

30 
32 

36 
42 

44 

46 

58 
70 

72 

76 

78 
92 



LIST OF HALF-TONE PLATES 

FACING PAGE 

Crow on Nest 6 

Blue-winged Warbler Alighting to Feed Her Young . 10 

Young Flickers on Day of Leaving Nest . . . 20 

Winter Visitors : Redpolls 28 

Young Kingfishers 36 

Grackle's Nest and Young 46 

Yellowbird's Nest, Showing Cowbird's Egg ... 50 
Brother and Sister Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Two 

Weeks Old 60 

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Six Days Old ... 60 

Young Crested Flycatchers with Hair Standing on End 74 

Young Mocking-Bird 82 

Hungry Young Mocking-Birds 82 

A Chestnut-sided Warbler Family 90 

The Wood Thrush Hears the Click of the Camera . 124 

Yellow-billed Cuckoos the Day Before Leaving Nest . 140 

Field Sparrow Babies 152 

Mother Ovenbird in Nest ; a Baby Bird on It . 180 

The Robin's Mud-walled Nursery 224 




I 



BIRD FAMILIES 

THEIR CHARACTERISTICS AND THE 
REPRESENTATIVES OF EACH FAMILY 
INCLUDED IN "BIRD NEIGHBORS" 




V 



BIRD FAMILIES 



THEIR CHARACTERISTICS AND THE REPRESENTATIVES OF EACH 
FAMILY INCLUDED IN "BIRD NEIGHBORS" 



Order Coccyges: CUCKOOS AND KINGFISHERS 

Family Cuculidce: CUCKOOS 

Long, pigeon-shaped birds, whose backs are grayish brown 
with a bronze lustre and whose under parts are whitish. Bill long 
and curved. Tail long ; raised and drooped slowly while the 
bird is perching. Two toes point forward and two backward. 
Call-note loud and like a tree-toad's rattle. Song lacking. Birds 
of low trees and undergrowth, where they also nest ; partial to 
neighborhood of streams, or wherever the tent caterpillar is 
abundant. Habits rather solitary, silent, and eccentric. Migratory. 

Yellow-billed Cuckoo. 

Black-billed Cuckoo. 

Family Alcedinidce: KINGFISHERS 

Large, top-heavy birds of streams and ponds. Usually seen 
perching over the water looking for fish. Head crested ; upper 
parts slate-blue ; underneath white, and belted with blue or 
rusty. Bill large and heavy. Middle and outer toes joined for 
half their length. Call-note loud and prolonged, like a policeman's 
rattle. Solitary birds ; little inclined to rove from a chosen local- 
ity. Migratory. 

Belted Kingfisher. 



Order Pici: WOODPECKERS 

Family Picidce: WOODPECKERS 

Medium-sized and small birds, usually with plumage black 
and white, and always with some red feathers about the head. 

3 




Bird Families 

(The flicker is brownish and yellow instead of black and white.) 
Stocky, high-shouldered build ; bill strong and long for drilling 
holes in bark of trees. Tail feathers pointed and stiffened to 
serve as a prop. Two toes before and two behind for clinging. 
Usually seen clinging erect on tree-trunks ; rarely, if ever, head 
downward, like the nuthatches, titmice, etc. Woodpeckers feed 
as they creep around the trunks and branches. Habits rather 
phlegmatic. The flicker has better developed vocal powers than 
other birds of this class, whose rolling tattoo, beaten with their 
bills against the tree-trunks, must answer for their love-song. 
Nest in hollowed-out trees. 

Red-headed Woodpecker. 

Hairy Woodpecker. 

Downy Woodpecker. 

Yellow-bellied Woodpecker. 

Flicker. 



Order Macrochires: GOATSUCKERS, SWIFTS, AND HUM- 

MING-BIRDS 

Family Caprimulgidce : NIGHTHAWKS, WH1PPOORWILLS, 

ETC. 

Medium-sized, mottled brownish, gray, black, and white 
birds of heavy build. Short, thick head ; gaping, large mouth ; 
very small bill, with bristles at base. Take insect food on the 
wing. Feet small and weak ; wings long and powerful. These 
birds rest lengthwise on their perch while sleeping through the 
brightest daylight hours, or on the ground, where they nest 

Nighthawk. 

Whippoorwill. 

Family Micropolidce : SWIFTS 

Sooty, dusky birds seen on the wing, never resting except 
in chimneys of houses, or hollow trees, where they nest. Tips 
of tail feathers with sharp spines, used as props. They show their 
kinship with the goatsuckers in their nocturnal as well as diurnal 
habits, their small bills and large mouths for catching insects on 

4 



Bird Families 

the wing, and their weak feet. Gregarious, especially at the 

nesting season. 

Chimney Swift. 

Family Trocbilidce: HUMMING-BIRDS 

Very small birds with green plumage (iridescent red or 
orange breast in males); long, needle-shaped bill for extracting 
insects and nectar from deep-cupped flowers, and exceedingly 
rapid, darting flight. Small feet. 

Ruby-throated Humming-bird. 



Order Passeres : PERCHING BIRDS 
Family Tyrannidx : FLYCATCHERS 

Small and medium-sized dull, dark-olive, or gray birds, with 
big heads that are sometimes crested. Bills hooked at end, and 
with bristles at base. Harsh or plaintive voices. Wings longer 
than tail ; both wings and tails usually drooped and vibrating 
when the birds are perching. Habits moody and silent when 
perching on a conspicuous limb, telegraph wire, dead tree, or 
fence rail and waiting for insects to fly within range. Sudden, 
nervous, spasmodic sallies in midair to seize insects on the wing. 
Usually they return to their identical perch or lookout. Pug- 
nacious and fearless. Excellent nest builders and devoted mates. 

Kingbird. 

Phoebe. 

Wood Pewee. 

Acadian Flycatcher. 

Great Crested Flycatcher. 

Least Flycatcher. 

Olive-sided Flycatcher. 

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. 

Say's Flycatcher. 

Family Alaudidce : LARKS 

The only true larks to be found in this country are the two 
species given below. They are the kin of the European skylark, 
of which several unsuccessful attempts to introduce the bird have 

5 




Bird Families 

been made in this country. These two larks must not be con- 
fused with the meadow larks and titlarks, which belong to the 
blackbird and pipit families respectively. The horned larks are 
birds of the ground, and are seen in the United States only in the 
autumn and winter. In the nesting season at the North their 
voices are most musical. Plumage grayish and brown, in color 
harmony with their habitats. Usually found in flocks ; the first 
species on or near the shore. 

Horned Lark. 

Prairie Horned Lark. 

Family Coroidce : CROWS AND JAYS 

The crows are large black birds, walkers, with stout feet 
adapted for the purpose. Fond of shifting their residence at dif- 
ferent seasons rather than strictly migratory, for, except at the 
northern limit of range, they remain resident all the year. Gre- 
garious. Sexes alike. Omnivorous feeders, being partly car- 
nivorous, as are also the jays. Both crows and jays inhabit 
wooded country. Their voices are harsh and clamorous ; and 
their habits are boisterous and bold, particularly the jays. De- 
voted mates ; unpleasant neighbors. 

Common Crow. 

Fish Crow. 

Northern Raven. 

Blue Jay. 

Canada Jay. 

Family Icteridce : BLACKBIRDS, ORIOLES, ETC. 

Plumage black or a brilliant color combined with black. 
(The meadow lark a sole exception.) Sexes unlike. These birds 
form a connecting link between the crows and the finches. The 
blackbirds have strong feet for use upon the ground, where they 
generally feed, while the orioles are birds of the trees. They are 
both seed and insect eaters. The bills of the bobolink and cow- 
bird are short and conical, for they are conspicuous seed eaters. 
Bills of the others long and conical, adapted for insectivorous 
diet. About half the family are gifted songsters. 

Red-winged Blackbird. 

Rusty Blackbird. 
6 



Bird 

Purple Grackle. 
Bronzed Grackle. 
Cowbird. 
Meadow Lark. 
Western Meadow Lark. 
Bobolink. 
Orchard Oriole. 
Baltimore Oriole. 

Family Fringillidce : FINCHES, SPARROWS, GROSBEAKS, 
BUNTINGS, LINNETS, AND CROSSBILLS 

Generally fine songsters. Bills conical, short, and stout for 
cracking seeds. Length from five to nine inches, usually under 
eight inches. This, the largest family of birds that we have 
(about one-seventh of all our birds belong to it), comprises birds 
of such varied plumage and habit that, while certain family re- 
semblances may be traced throughout, it is almost impossible to 
characterize the family as such. The sparrows are comparatively 
small gray and brown birds with striped upper parts, lighter 
underneath. Birds of the ground, or not far from it, elevated 
perches being chosen for rest and song. Nest in low bushes or 
on the ground. (Chipping sparrow often selects tall trees.) 
Coloring adapted to grassy, dusty habitats. Males and females 
similar. Flight labored. About forty species of sparrows are 
found in the United States ; of these, fourteen may be met with 
by a novice, and six, at least, surely will be. 

The Jincbes and their larger kin are chiefly bright-plumaged 
birds, the females either duller or distinct from males ; bills 
heavy, dull, and conical, befitting seed eaters. Not so migratory 
as insectivorous birds nor so restless. Mostly phlegmatic in 
temperament. Fine songsters. 

Chipping Sparrow. 

English Sparrow. 

Field Sparrow. 

Fox Sparrow. 

Grasshopper Sparrow. 

Savanna Sparrow. 

Seaside Sparrow. 

Sharp-tailed Sparrow. 

7 




Bird Families 

Song Sparrow. 

Swamp Song Sparrow. 

Tree Sparrow. 

Vesper Sparrow. 

White-crowned Sparrow. 

White-throated Sparrow. 

Lapland Longspun 

Smith's Painted Longspun 

Pine Siskin (or Finch). 

Purple Finch. 

Goldfinch. 

Redpoll. 

Greater Redpoll. 

Red Crossbill. 

White-winged Red Crossbill* 

Cardinal Grosbeak. 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak. 

Pine Grosbeak. 

Evening Grosbeak. 

Blue Grosbeak. 

Indigo Bunting. 

Junco. 

Snowflake. 

Chewink. 

Family Tanagridce : TANAGERS 

Distinctly an American family, remarkable for their brilliant 
plumage, which, however, undergoes great changes twice a year. 
Females different from males, being dull and inconspicuous. 
Birds of the tropics, two species only finding their way north, 
and the summer tanager rarely found north of Pennsylvania. 
Shy inhabitants of woods. Though they may nest low in trees, 
they choose high perches when singing or feeding upon flowers, 
fruits, and insects. As a family, the tanagers have weak, squeaky 
voices, but both our species are good songsters. Suffering the 
fate of most bright-plumaged birds, immense numbers have been 
shot annually. 

Scarlet Tanager. 

Summer Tanager. 
8 



Bird Families 

Family Hirundinidce : SWALLOWS 

Birds of the air, that take their insect food on the wing. 
Migratory. Flight strong, skimming, darting ; exceedingly 
graceful. When not flying they choose slender, conspicuous 
perches like telegraph wires, gutters, and eaves of barns. Plu- 
mage of some species dull, of others iridescent blues and greens 
above, whitish or ruddy below. Sexes similar. Bills small ; 
mouths large. Long and pointed wings, generally reaching the 
tip of the tail or beyond. Tail more or less forked. Feet small 
and weak from disuse. Song a twittering warble without power. 
Gregarious birds. 

Barn Swallow. 

Bank Swallow. 

Cliff (or Eaves) Swallow. 

Tree Swallow. 

Bough- winged Swallow. 

Purple Martin. 

Family Ampelidce : WAX WINGS 

Medium-sized Quaker-like birds, with plumage of soft 
browns and grays. Head crested ; black band across forehead 
and through the eye. Bodies plump from indolence. Tail tipped 
with yellow ; wings with red tips to coverts, resembling sealing- 
wax. Sexes similar. Silent, gentle, courteous, elegant birds. 
Usually seen in large flocks feeding upon berries in the trees or 
perching on the branches, except at the nesting season. Voices 
resemble a soft, lisping twitter. • 

Cedar Bird. 

Bohemian Waxwing. 

Family Laniidce : SHRIKES 

Medium-sized grayish, black-and-white birds, with hooked 
and hawk-like bill for tearing the flesh of smaller birds, field- 
mice, and large insects that they impale on thorns. Handsome, 
bold birds, the terror of all small, feathered neighbors, not ex- 
cluding the English sparrow. They choose conspicuous perches 
when on the lookout for prey : a projecting or dead limb of a 

9 




Bird Families 

tree, the cupola of a house, the ridge-pole or weather-vane of a 
barn, or a telegraph wire, from which to suddenly drop upon a 
victim. Eyesight remarkable. Call-notes harsh and unmusical. 
Habits solitary and wandering. The first-named species is resi- 
dent during the colder months of the year; the latter is a summer 
resident only north of Maryland. 

Northern Shrike. 

Loggerhead Shrike. 

Family Vireonidx : VIREOS OR GREENLETS 

Small greenish-gray or olive birds, whitish or yellowish 
underneath, their plumage resembling the foliage of the trees 
they hunt, nest, and live among. Sexes alike. More deliberate 
in habit than the restless, flitting warblers that are chiefly seen 
darting about the ends of twigs. Vireos are more painstaking 
gleaners ; they carefully explore the bark, turn their heads up- 
ward to investigate the under side of leaves, and usually keep 
well hidden among the foliage. Bill hooked at tip for holding 
worms and insects. Gifted songsters, superior to the warblers. 
This family is peculiar to America. 

Red-eyed Vireo. 

Solitary Vireo. 

Warbling Vireo. 

White-eyed Vireo. 

Yellow-throated Vireo. 

Family UAniotiltida : WOOD WARBLERS 

A large group of birds, for the most part smaller than the 
English sparrow ; all, except the ground warblers, of beautiful 
plumage, in which yellow, olive, slate-blue, black, and white are 
predominant colors. Females generally duller than males. Ex- 
ceedingly active, graceful, restless feeders among the terminal 
twigs of trees and shrubbery ; haunters of tree-tops in the woods 
at nesting time. Abundant birds, especially during May and 
September, when the majority are migrating to and from regions 
north of the United States; but they are strangely unknown to all 
but devoted bird lovers, who seek them out during these months 
that particularly favor acquaintance. Several species are erratic in 

10 



Bird Families 

their migrations and choose a different course to return southward 
from the one they travelled over in spring. A few species are sum- 
mer residents, and one, at least, of this tropical family, the myrtle 
warbler, winters at the north. The habits of the family are not 
identical in every representative ; some are more deliberate and 
less nervous than others ; a few, like the Canadian and Wilson's 
warblers, are expert flycatchers, taking their food on the wing, 
but not usually returning to the same perch, like true flycatchers; 
and a few of the warblers, as, for example, the black-and-white, 
the pine, and the worm-eating species, have the nuthatches' habit 
of creeping around the bark of trees. Qiiite a number feed upon 
the ground. All are insectivorous, though many vary their diet 
with blossom, fruit, or berries, and naturally their bills are slen- 
der and sharply pointed, rarely finch-like. The yellow-breasted 
chat has the greatest variety of vocal expressions. The ground 
warblers are compensated for their sober, thrush-like plumage by 
their exquisite voices, while the great majority of the family that 
are gaily dressed have notes that either resemble the trill of mid- 
summer insects or, by their limited range and feeble utterance, 
sadly belie the family name. 

Bay-breasted Warbler. 

Blackburnian Warbler. 

Blackpoll Warbler. 

Black-throated Blue Warbler. 

Black-throated Green Warbler. 

Black-and-white Creeping Warbler, 

Blue-winged Warbler. 

Canadian Warbler. 

Chestnut-sided Warbler. 

Golden-winged Warbler. 

Hooded Warbler. 

Kentucky Warbler. 

Magnolia Warbler. 

Mourning Warbler. 

Myrtle Warbler. 

Nashville Warbler. 

Palm Warbler. 

Parula Warbler. 

Pine Warbler. 

Prairie Warbler. 

ii 




Bird Families 

Redstart 

Wilson's Warbler. 

Worm-eating Warbler. 

Yellow Warbler. 

Yellow Palm Warbler. • 

Ovenbird. 

Northern Water Thrush. 

Louisiana Water Thrush. 

Maryland Yellowthroat. 

Yellow-breasted Chat. 

Family Motacillidce : WAGTAILS AND PIPITS 

Only three birds of this family inhabit North America, and 

of these only one is common enough, east of the Mississippi, to 

be included in this book. Terrestrial birds of open tracts near 

the coast, stubble-fields, and country roadsides, with brownish 

plumage to harmonize with their surroundings. The American 

pipit, or titlark, has a peculiar wavering flight when, after being 

flushed, it reluctantly leaves the ground. Then its white tail 

feathers are conspicuous. Its habit of wagging its tail when 

perching is not an exclusive family trait, as the family name 

might imply. 

American Pipit, or Titlark. 

Family Troglodytidx : THRASHERS, WRENS, ETC. 

Subfamily Miminat: THRASHERS, MOCKING-BIRDS, AND 

CATBIRDS 

Apparently the birds that comprise this large general family 
are too unlike to be related, but the missing links or inter- 
mediate species may all be found far South. The first subfamily 
is comprised of distinctively American birds. Most numerous 
in the tropics. Their long tails serve a double purpose — in assist- 
ing their flight and acting as an outlet for their vivacity. Usually 
they inhabit scrubby undergrowth bordering woods. They rank 
among our finest songsters, with ventriloquial and imitative 
powers added to sweetness of tone. 

Brown Thrasher. 

Catbird. 

Mocking-bird. 

12 



Bird Families 



Subfamily Troglodytitue : WRENS 



Small brown birds, more or less barred with darkest brown 
above, much lighter below. Usually carry their short tails erect. 
Wings are small, for short flight. Vivacious, busy, excitable, 
easily displeased, quick to take alarm. Most of the species have 
scolding notes in addition to their lyrical,- gushing song, that 
seems much too powerful a performance for a diminutive bird. 
As a rule, wrens haunt thickets or marshes, but at least one 
species is thoroughly domesticated. All are insectivorous. 

Carolina Wren. 

House Wren. 

Winter Wren. 

Long-billed Marsh Wren. 

Short-billed Marsh Wren. 

Family Certhiidct: CREEPERS 

Only one species of this Old World family is found in Amer- 
ica. It is a brown, much mottled bird, that creeps spirally around 
and around the trunks of trees in fall and winter, pecking at the 
larvae in the bark with its long, sharp bill, and doing its work 
with faithful exactness but little spirit It uses its tail as a prop 
in climbing, like the woodpeckers. 

Brown Creeper. 

Family Paridce ; NUTHATCHES AND TITMICE 

Two distinct subfamilies are included under this general head. 

The nuthatches (Sittina) are small, slate-colored birds, seen 

chiefly in winter walking up and down the barks of trees, and 

sometimes running along the under side of branches upside down, 

like flies. Plumage compact and smooth. Their name is derived 

from their habit of wedging nuts (usually beechnuts) in the bark 

of trees, and then hatching them open with their strong straight 

bills. 

White-breasted Nuthatch. 

Red-breasted Nuthatch. 

The titmice or chickadees (Parinx) are fluffy little gray birds, 
the one crested, the other with a black cap. They are also 

13 



Bird Families 

expert climbers, though not such wonderful gymnasts as the nut- 
hatches. These cousins are frequently seen together in winter 
woods or in the evergreens about houses. Chickadees are partial 
to tree-tops, especially to the highest pine cones, on which they 
hang fearlessly. Cheerful, constant residents, retreating to the 
deep woods only to nest 

Tufted Titmouse, 

Chickadee. 

Family Sylviidct : KINGLETS AND GNATCATCHERS 

The kinglets (Regulinct) are very small greenish-gray birds, 

with highly colored crown patch, that are seen chiefly in autumn, 

winter, and spring south of Labrador. Habits active ; diligent 

flitters among trees and shrubbery from limb to limb after minute 

insects. Beautiful nest builders. Song remarkable for so small 

a bird. 

Golden-crowned Kinglet. 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet. 

The one representative of the distinctly American subfamily 
of gnatcatchers (Polioptilince) that we have, is a small blue-gray 
bird, whitish below. It is rarely found outside moist, low tracts 
of woodland, where insects abound. These it takes on the wing 
with wonderful dexterity. It is exceedingly graceful and assumes 
many charming postures. A bird of trees, nesting in the high 
branches. A bird of strong character and an exquisitely finished 
though feeble songster. 

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. 

Family Turdidce : THRUSHES, BLUEBIRDS, ETC. 

This group includes our finest songsters. Birds of moderate 
size, stout build ; as a rule, inhabitants of woodlands, but the 
robin and the bluebird are notable exceptions. Bills long and 
slender, suitable for worm diet. Only casual fruit-eaters. Slen- 
der, strong legs for running and hopping. True thrushes are 
grayish or olive-brown above; buff or whitish below, heavily 

streaked or spotted. 

Bluebird. 

Robin. 
14 



Bird Families 



Alice's Thrush. 
Hermit Thrush. 
Olive-backed Thrusn. 
Wilson's Thrush (Veery). 
Wood Thrush. 



Order Columbm : PIGEONS AND DOVES 
Family Columbia* : PIGEONS AND DOVES 

The wild pigeon is now too rare to be included among our 
bird neighbors ; but its beautiful relative, without the fatally gre- 
garious habit, still nests and sings a-coo-oo-oo to its devoted mate 
in unfrequented corners of the farm or the borders of woodland. 
Delicately shaded fawn-colored and bluish plumage. Small heads, 
protruding breasts. Often seen on ground. Flight strong and 
rapid, owing to long wings. 

Mourning or Carolina Dove. 



*5 




II 



HABITATS OF BIRDS 




HABITATS OF BIRDS 

BIRDS OF THE AIR CATCHING THEIR FOOD AS THEY FLY 

Acadian Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher, Least Fly- 
catcher, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Say's Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied 
Flycatcher, Kingbird, Phoebe, Wood Pewee, Purple Martin, 
Chimney Swift, Barn Swallow, Bank Swallow, Cliff Swallow, 
Tree Swallow, Rough-winged Swallow, Canadian Warbler, 
Blackpoll, Wilson's Warbler, Nighthawk, Whippoorwill, Ruby- 
throated Humming-bird, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. 

BIRDS MOST FREQUENTLY SEEN IN THE UPPER HALF 

OF TREES 

Scarlet Tanager, Summer Tanager, Baltimore Oriole, Orchard 
Oriole, Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, nearly 
all the Warblers except the Ground Warblers ; Cedar Bird, Bohe- 
mian Waxwing, the Vireos, Robin, Red Crossbill, White-winged 
Crossbill, Purple Grackle, Bronzed Grackle, Redstart, Northern 
Shrike, Loggerhead Shrike, Crow, Fish Crow, Raven, Purple 
Finch, Tree and Chipping Sparrows, Cardinal, Blue Jay, Kingbird, 
the Crested and other Flycatchers. 

BIRDS OF LOW TREES OR LOWER PARTS OF TREES 

Black-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, the Sparrows, 
the Thrushes, the Grosbeaks, Goldfinch, Summer Yellowbird and 
other Warblers; the Wrens, Bluebird, Mocking-bird, Catbird, 
Brown Thrasher, Maryland Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted Chat. 

BIRDS OF TREE-TRUNKS AND LARGE LIMBS 

Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Red-headed 
Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Woodpecker, Flicker, White- 

*9 




Habitats of Birds 

breasted Nuthatch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, 
Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby- 
crowned Kinglet, Black-and-white Creeping Warbler, Blue- 
winged Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Pine Warbler, Blackpoll 
Warbler, Whippoorwill, Nighthawk. 

BIRDS THAT SHOW A PREFERENCE FOR PINES AND 

OTHER EVERGREENS 

Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, the Nuthatches, Brown 
Creeper, the Kinglets, Pine Warbler, Black-and-white Creeping 
Warbler and all the Warblers except the Ground Warblers ; Pine 
Siskin, Cedar Bird and Bohemian Waxwing (in juniper and 
cedar trees), Pine Grosbeak, Red Crossbill, White-winged Cross- 
bill, the Grackles, Crow, Raven, Pine Finch. 

BIRDS SEEN FEEDING AMONG THE FOLIAGE AND TER- 
MINAL TWIGS OF TREES 

The Red-eyed Vireo, White-eyed Vireo, Warbling Vireo, 
Solitary Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, Golden-crowned King- 
let, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Black-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-billed 
Cuckoo, Yellow Warbler or Summer Yellowbird, nearly all the 
Warblers except the Pine and the Ground Warblers ; the Fly- 
catchers, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. 

BIRDS THAT CHOOSE CONSPICUOUS PERCHES 

Northern Shrike, Loggerhead Shrike, Kingbird, the Wood 
Pewee, the Phoebe and other Flycatchers, the Swallows, King- 
fisher, Crows, Grackles, Blue Jay and Canada Jay; the Song, the 
White-throated, and the Fox Sparrows ; the Grosbeaks, Cedar 
Bird, Goldfinch, Robin, Purple Finch, Cowbird, Brown Thrasher 
while in song. 

BIRDS OF THE GARDENS AND ORCHARDS 

Bluebird, Robin ; the English, Song, White-throated, Vesper, 
White-crowned, Fox, Chipping, and Tree Sparrows; Phoebe, 
Wood Pewee, the Least Flycatcher, Crested Flycatcher, Kingbird, 
Brown Thrasher, Wood Thrush, Mocking-bird, Catbird, House 

20 



YOUNG FLICKERS ON DAY OF LEAVING NEST. 



Habitats of Birds 

Wren ; nearly all the Warblers, especially at blossom time among 
the shrubbery and fruit trees; Cedar Bird, Purple Martin, Eaves 
Swallow, Barn Swallow, Purple Finch, Cowbird, Baltimore and 
Orchard Orioles, Purple Grackle, Bronzed Grackle, Blue Jay, 
Crow, Fish Crow, Chimney Swift, Ruby-throated Humming- 
bird, the Woodpeckers, Flicker, the Nuthatches, Chickadee, Tufted 
Titmouse, the Cuckoos, Mourning Dove, J unco. 

BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

The Warblers almost without exception ; the Thrushes, the 
Woodpeckers, the Flycatchers, the Winter and the Carolina 
Wrens, the Tanagers, the Nuthatches and Titmice, the Kinglets, 
the Water Thrushes, the Vireos, Whippoorwill, Nighthawk, 
Kingfisher, Cardinal, Ovenbird, Brown Creeper, Tree Sparrow, 
Fox Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, 
J unco. 

BIRDS SEEN NEAR THE EDGES OF WOODS 

The Wrens, the Woodpeckers, the Flycatchers, the Warblers, 
Purple Finch, the Cuckoos, Brown Thrasher, Wood Thrush, Cow- 
bird, Brown Creepers, the Nuthatches and Titmice, the Kinglets, 
Chewink; the White-crowned, White-throated, Tree, Fox, and 
Song Sparrows ; Humming-bird, Bluebird, Junco, the Crossbills, 
the Grosbeaks, Nighthawk, Whippoorwill, Mourning Dove, 
Indigo Bird, Brown Thrasher. 

BIRDS OF SHRUBBERY, BUSHES, AND THICKETS 

Maryland Yellowthroat, Ovenbird (in woods) ; Myrtle 
Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, and other 
Warblers during the migrations; the Shrikes; the White-throated, 
the Fox, the Song, and other Sparrows; Chickadee, Junco, Che- 
wink, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Cowbird, Red-winged Black- 
bird, Catbird, Mocking-bird, Wilson's Thrush, Goldfinch, Red- 
polls, Maryland Yellowthroat, White-eyed Vireo, Hooded 
Warbler. 

BIRDS SEEN FEEDING ON THE GROUND 

The Sparrows, Junco, Meadowlark, Horned Lark, Chewink, 
Robin, Ovenbird, Pipit or Titlark, Redpoll, Greater Redpoll, 

21 




Habitats of Birds 

Snowflake, Lapland Longspur, Smith's Painted Longspur, Rusty 
Blackbird, Red-winged Blackbird, the Crows, Cowbird, the Water 
Thrushes, Bobolink, Canada Jay, the Grackles, Mourning Dove; 
the Worm-eating, the Prairie, the Kentucky, and the Mourning 
Ground Warblers ; Flicker. 

BIRDS OF MEADOW, FIELD, AND UPLAND 

The Field and Vesper Sparrows, Bobolink, Meadowlark, 
Horned Lark, Goldfinch, the Swallows, Pipit or Titlark, Cow- 
bird, Redpoll, Greater Redpoll, Snowflake, Junco, Lapland Long- 
spur, Smith's Painted Longspur, Rusty Blackbird, Crow, Fish 
Crow, Nighthawk, Whippoorwill; the Yellow, the Palm, and the 
Prairie Warblers; the Grackles, Flicker, Bluebird, Indigo Bird. 

BIRDS OF ROADSIDE AND FENCES 

The Sparrows, Kingbird, Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-breasted 
Chat, Indigo Bird, Bluebird, Flicker, Goldfinch, Brown Thrasher, 
Catbird, Robin, the Woodpeckers, Yellow Palm Warbler, the 
Vireos. 

BIRDS OF MARSHES AND BOGGY MEADOWS 

Long-billed Marsh Wren, Short-billed Marsh Wren; the 
Swamp, the Savanna, the Sharp-tailed, and the Seaside Sparrows; 
Red-winged Blackbird. 

BIRDS OF WET WOODLANDS AND MARSHY THICKETS 

Northern Water Thrush, Louisiana Water Thrush, Oven- 
bird, Winter Wren, Carolina Wren, Phoebe; Wood Pewee and 
the other Flycatchers ; Wilson's Thrush or Veery, Blue-gray 
Gnatcatcher, Yellow-breasted Chat ; the Canadian, Wilson's 
Black-capped, the Maryland Yellowthroat, the Hooded, and the 
Yellow-throated Warblers. 

BIRDS FOUND NEAR SALT WATER 

Fish Crow, Common Crow, Bank Swallow, Tree Swallow, 
Savanna Sparrow, Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Seaside Sparrow, 
Horned Lark, Pipit or Titlark. 

22 



Habitats of Birds 

BIRDS FOUND NEAR STREAMS AND PONDS 

Kingfisher, the Swallows, Northern Water Thrush, Louisiana 
Water Thrush, Phoebe, Wood Pewee, the Flycatchers, Winter 
Wren, Wilson's Black-capped Warbler, the Canadian and the 
Yellow Warblers. 

BIRDS THAT SING ON THE WING 

Bobolink, Meadowlark, Indigo Bird, Purple Finch, Gold- 
finch, Ovenbird, Kingbird, Vesper Sparrow (rarely), Maryland 
Yellowthroat, Horned Lark, Kingfisher, the Swallows, Chimney 
Swift, Nighthawk, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Pipit 
or Titlark, Mocking-bird. 



t3 



Ill 



SEASONS OF BIRDS 

THE LATITUDE OF NEW YORK IS TAKEN AS 
AN ARBITRARY DIVISION FOR WHICH ALLOW- 
ANCES MUST BE MADE FOR OTHER LOCALITIES 




THE SEASONS OF BIRDS IN THE VICINITY OF 
NEW YORK OR, APPROXIMATELY, OF THE 
FORTY-SECOND DEGREE OF LATITUDE 

PERMANENT RESIDENTS 



Hairy Woodpecker. 

Downy Woodpecker. 

Yellow-bellied Woodpecker. 

Red-headed Woodpecker. 

Flicker. 

Meadowlark. 

Prairie Horned Lark. 

Blue Jay. 

Crow. 

Fish Crow. 

English Sparrow. 

Social Sparrow. 



Swamp Sparrow. 

Song Sparrow. 

Cedar Bird. 

Cardinal. 

Carolina Wren. 

White-breasted Nuthatch. 

Tufted Titmouse. 

Chickadee. 

Robin. 

Bluebird. 

Goldfinch. 



WINTER RESIDENTS AND VISITORS 



BIRDS SEEN BETWEEN NOVEMBER AND APRIL 



English Sparrow. 
Tree Sparrow. 
White-throated Sparrow. 
Swamp Sparrow. 
Vesper Sparrow. 
White-crowned Sparrow. 
Fox Sparrow. 
Song Sparrow. 
Snowflake. 
Junco. 

Horned Lark. 
Meadowlark. 



Pine Grosbeak. 
Redpoll. 
Greater Redpoll. 
Cedar Bird. 
Bohemian Waxwing. 
Hairy Woodpecker. 
Downy Woodpecker. 
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker. 
Flicker. 

Myrtle Warbler. 
Northern Shrike. 
White-breasted Nuthatch. 



27 




Seasons of Birds 



Red-breasted Nuthatch. 

Tufted Titmouse. 

Chickadee. 

Robin. 

Bluebird. 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 

Golden-crowned Kinglet 

Brown Creeper. 

Carolina Wren. 

Winter Wren. 

Pipit. 

Purple Finch. 



Goldfinch. 

Pine Siskin. 

Lapland Longspur. 

Smith's Painted Longspur. 

Evening Grosbeak. 

Cardinal. 

Blue Jay. 

Red Crossbill. 

White-winged Crossbill. 

Crow. 

Fish Crow. 

Kingfisher. 



SUMMER RESIDENTS 



BIRDS SEEN BETWEEN APRIL AND NOVEMBER 



Mourning Dove. 

Black-billed Cuckoo. 

Yellow-billed Cuckoo. 

Kingfisher. 

Red-headed Woodpecker. 

Hairy Woodpecker. 

Downy Woodpecker. 

Yellow-bellied Woodpecker. 

Flicker. 

Whippoorwill. 

Nighthawk. 

Chimney Swift. 

Ruby-throated Humming-bird. 

Kingbird. 

Wood Pewee. 

Phoebe. 

Acadian Flycatcher. 

Crested Flycatcher. 

Least Flycatcher. 

Olive-sided Flycatcher. 

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. 

Say's Flycatcher. 

Bobolink. 

Cowbird. 



Red- winged Blackbird 
Rusty Blackbird. 
Orchard Oriole. 
Baltimore Oriole. 
Purple Grackle. 
Bronzed Grackle. 
Crow. 
Fish Crow. 
Raven. 
Blue Jay. 
Canada Jay. 
Chipping Sparrow. 
English Sparrow. 
Field Sparrow. 
Fox Sparrow. 
Grasshopper Sparrow. 
Savanna Sparrow. 
Seaside Sparrow. 
Sharp-tailed Sparrow. 
Swamp Song Sparrow. 
Song Sparrow. 
Vesper Sparrow. 
Rose-breasted Grosbeak. 
Blue Grosbeak. 



28 



WINTER VISITORS: REDPOLLS. 



Seasons of Birds 



Indigo Bird. 

Scarlet Tanager. 

Purple Martin. 

Barn Swallow. 

Bank Swallow. 

Cliff Swallow. 

Tree Swallow. 

Rough-winged Swallow. 

Red-eyed Vireo. 

White-eyed Vireo. 

Solitary Vireo. 

Warbling Vireo. 

Yellow-throated Vireo. 

Black-and-white Warbler. 

Black-throated Green Warbler. 

Blue-winged Warbler. 

Chestnut-sided Warbler. 

Golden-winged Warbler. 

Hooded Warbler. 

Pine Warbler. 

Prairie Warbler. 

Parula Warbler. 

Worm-eating Warbler. 

Yellow Warbler. 

Redstart. 

Ovenbird. 

Northern Water Thrush. 

Louisiana Water Thrush. 



Yellow-breasted Chat. 

Maryland Yellowthroat 

Mocking-bird. 

Catbird. 

Brown Thrasher. 

House Wren. 

Carolina Wren. 

Long-billed Marsh Wren. 

Short-billed Marsh Wren. 

Alice's Thrush. 

Hermit Thrush. 

Olive-backed Thrush. 

Wilson's Thrush or Veery. 

Wood Thrush. 

Meadowlark. 

Western Meadowlark. 

Prairie Horned Lark. 

White-breasted Nuthatch. 

Chickadee. 

Tufted Titmouse. 

Chewink. 

Purple Finch. 

Goldfinch. 

Cardinal. 

Robin. 

Bluebird. 

Cedar Bird. 

Loggerhead Shrike. 



SPRING AND AUTUMN MIGRANTS ONLY, OR 

SUMMER VISITORS 



RARE 



The following Warblers 
Bay-breasted. 
Blackburnian. 
Black-polled. 
Black-throated Blue. 
Canadian. 
Magnolia. 
Mourning. 
Myrtle. 



Nashville. 

Wilson's Black-capped. 

Palm. 

Yellow Palm. 

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. 
Summer Tanager. 



29 




Seasons of Birds 



MIGRATIONS OF BIRDS IN VICINITY OF NEW YORK 

FEBRUARY 1 5 TO MARCH 1 5 

Bluebird, Robin, the Grackles, Song Sparrow, Fox Sparrow. 
Red-winged Blackbird, Kingfisher, Flicker, Purple Finch. 



MARCH 15 TO APRIL I 

Increased numbers of foregoing group; Cowbird, Meadow- 
lark, Phoebe ; the Field, the Vesper, and the Swamp Sparrows. 



april 1 to 15 

The White-throated and the Chipping Sparrows, the Tree 
and the Barn Swallows, Rusty Blackbird, the Red-headed and 
the Yellow-bellied Woodpeckers, Hermit Thrush, Ruby-crowned 
Kinglet, Pipit ; the Pine, the Myrtle, and the Yellow Palm War- 
blers; Goldfinch. 

APRIL 15 TO MAY I 

Increased numbers of foregoing group ; Brown Thrasher ; 
Alice's, the Olive-backed, and the Wood Thrushes ; Chimney 
Swift, Whippoorwill, Chewink, the Purple Martin, and the Cliff 
and the Bank Swallows ; Least Flycatcher ; the Black-and-white 
Creeping, the Parula, and the Black-throated Green Warblers ; 
Ovenbird, House Wren, Catbird. 



may 1 to 15 

Increased numbers of foregoing group; Wilson's Thrush or 
Veery; Nighthawk, Ruby-throated Humming-bird, the Cuckoos, 
Crested Flycatcher, Kingbird, Wood Pewee, the Marsh Wrens, 
Bank Swallow, the five Vireos, the Baltimore and Orchard Ori- 
oles, Bobolink, Indigo Bird, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Scarlet Tana- 
ger, Maryland Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted Chat, the Water 
Thrushes; and the Magnolia, the Yellow, the Black-throated 
Blue, the Bay-breasted, the Chestnut-sided, and the Golden- 
winged Warblers. 

30 



Seasons of Birds 
MAY 1 5 TO JUNE I 

Increased numbers of foregoing group ; Yellow-bellied Fly- 
catcher, Mocking-bird, Summer Tanager ; and the Blackburnian, 
the Blackpoll, the Worm-eating, the Hooded, Wilson's Black- 
capped, and the Canadian Warblers. 

JUNE, JULY, AUGUST 

In June few species of birds are not nesting; in July they 
may rove about more or less with their increased families, search- 
ing for their favorite foods; August finds them moulting and mop- 
ing in silence, but toward the end of the month, thoughts of 
returning southward set them astir again. 

AUGUST 15 TO SEPTEMBER 1 5 

Bobolink, Cliff Swallow, Scarlet Tanager, Yellow-bellied 
Flycatcher, Purple Martin; the Blackburnian, the Worm-eating, 
the Bay-breasted, the Chestnut-sided, the Hooded, the Mourning, 
Wilson's Black-capped, and the Canadian Warblers; Baltimore 
Oriole, Humming-bird. 

SEPTEMBER 1 5 TO OCTOBER I 

Increased numbers of foregoing group ; Wilson's Thrush, 
Wood Thrush, Kingbird, Wood Pewee, Crested Flycatcher; the 
Least, the Olive-sided, and the Acadian Flycatchers; the Marsh 
Wrens, the Cuckoos, Whippoorwill, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, 
Orchard Oriole, Indigo Bird; the Warbling, the Solitary, and 
the Yellow-throated Vireos; the Black-and-white Creeping, the 
Golden-winged, the Yellow, and the Black-throated Blue War- 
blers; Maryland Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted Chat, Redstart. 

OCTOBER I TO 15 

Increased numbers of foregoing group ; Hermit Thrush, Cat- 
bird, House Wren, Ovenbird, the Water Thrushes, the Red-eyed 
and the White-eyed Vireos, Wood Pewee, Nighthawk, Chimney 
Swift, Cowbird, Horned Lark, Winter Wren, Junco; the Tree, 
the Vesper, the White-throated, and the Grasshopper Sparrows; 
the Blackpoll, the Parula, the Pine, the Yellow Palm, and the 
Prairie Warblers ; Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse. 

31 




Seasons of Birds 

OCTOBER 15 TO NOVEMBER 1 5 

Increased numbers of foregoing group; Wood Thrush, Wil- 
son's Thrush or Veery, Alice's Thrush, Olive-backed Thrush, Robin, 
Chewink, Brown Thrasher, Phoebe, Shrike; the Fox, the Field, 
the Swamp, the Savanna, the White-crowned, the Chipping, and 
the Song Sparrows ; the Red- winged and the Rusty Blackbirds ; 
Meadowlark, the Grackles, Flicker, the Red-headed and the 
Yellow-bellied Woodpeckers; Purple Finch, the Kinglets, the 
Nuthatches, Pine Siskin. 



3* 



IV 



BIRDS GROUPED ACCORDING TO SIZE 




BIRDS GROUPED ACCORDING TO SIZE 



SMALLER THAN THE ENGLISH SPARROW 



Humming-bird. 

The Kinglets. 

The Wrens. 

All the Warblers not mentioned 

elsewhere. 
Redstart. 
Ovenbird. 
Chickadee. 
Tufted Titmouse. 
Red-breasted Nuthatch. 
White-breasted Nuthatch, 
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. 
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. 
Acadian Flycatcher. 
Least Flycatcher. 



The Redpolls. 
Goldfinch. 
Pine Siskin. 
Savanna Sparrow. 
Grasshopper Sparrow. 
Sharp-tailed Sparrow. 
Chipping Sparrow. 
Field Sparrow. 
Swamp Song Sparrow. 
Indigo Bunting. 
Warbling Vireo. 
Yellow-throated Vireo. 
Red-eyed Vireo. 
White-eyed Vireo. 
Brown Creeper. 



ABOUT THE SIZE OF THE ENGLISH SPARROW 



Purple Finch. 
The Crossbills. 
The Longspurs. 
Vesper Sparrow. 
Seaside Sparrow. 
Tree Sparrow. 



Junco. 

Song Sparrow. 

Solitary Vireo. 

The Water-thrushes. 

Pipit or Titlark. 

Downy Woodpecker. 



LARGER THAN THE ENGLISH SPARROW AND SMALLER 

THAN THE ROBIN 



Yellow-bellied Woodpecker. 
Chimney Swift (apparently). 
The Swallows (apparently). 



Kingbird. 

Crested Flycatcher. 
Phoebe. 



35 




Birds Grouped According to Size 



Olive-sided Flycatcher. 

Wood Pewee. 

Horned Lark. 

Bobolink. 

Cowbird. 

Orchard Oriole. 

Baltimore Oriole. 

The Grosbeaks : Evening, Blue, 
Pine, Rose-breasted, and Car- 
dinal. 



Snowflake. 

White-crowned Sparrow. 
White-throated Sparrow. 
Fox Sparrow. 
The Tanagers. 
Cedar Bird. 
Bohemian Waxwing. 
Yellow-breasted Chat 
The Thrushes. 
Bluebird. 



ABOUT THE LENGTH OF THE ROBIN 



Red-headed Woodpecket. 
Hairy Woodpecker. 
Red-winged Blackbird. 
Rusty Blackbird. 
Loggerhead Shrike. 



Northern Shrike. 

Mocking-bird. 

Catbird. 

Chewink. 

Purple Martin (apparently). 



LONGER THAN THE ROBIN 



Mourning Dove. 

The Cuckoos. 

Kingfisher. 

Flicker. 

Raven. 

Crow. 

Fish Crow. 



Blue Jay. 
Canada Jay. 
Meadowlark. 

Whippoorwill (apparently) 
Nighthawk (apparently) 
The Grackles. 
Brown Thrasher. 



36 



YOUNG KINGFISHERS. 



DESCRIPTIONS OF BIRDS 



GROUPED ACCORDING TO COLOR 




BIRDS CONSPICUOUSLY BLACK 

Common Crow 
Fish Crow 
American Raven 
Purple Grackle 
Bronzed Grackle 
Rusty Blackbird 
Red-winged Blackbird 
Purple Martin 
Cowbird 



See also several of the Swallows; the Kingbird, the Phoebe, the Wood 
Pewee, and other Flycatchers; the Chimney Swift; and the Chewink. 




BIRDS CONSPICUOUSLY BLACK 

The Common Crow 

(Corvus Americanus) Crow family 
Called also: CORN THIEF 

Length — 16 to 17.50 inches. 

Male— Glossy black with violet reflections. Wings appear saw* 
toothed when spread, and almost equal the tail in length. 

Female — Like male, except that the black is less brilliant. 

Range — Throughout North America, from Hudson Bay to the 

Gulf of Mexico. 
Migrations — March. October. Summer and winter resident. 

If we have an eye for the picturesque, we place a certain 
value upon the broad, strong dash of color in the landscape, given 
by a flock of crows flapping their course above a corn-field, against 
an October sky ; but the practical eye of the farmer looks only 
for his gun in such a case. To him the crow is an unmitigated 
nuisance, all the more maddening because it is clever enough to 
circumvent every means devised for its ruin. Nothing escapes 
its rapacity ; fear is unknown to it. It migrates in broad day- 
light, chooses the most conspicuous perches, and yet its assur- 
ance is amply justified in its steadily increasing numbers. 

In the very early spring, note well the friendly way in which 
the crow follows the plow, ingratiating itself by eating the larvae, 
field mice, and worms upturned in the furrows, for this is its one 
serviceable act throughout the year. When the first brood of 
chickens is hatched, its serious depredations begin. Not only 
the farmer's young fledglings, ducks, turkeys, and chicks, are 
snatched up and devoured, but the nests of song birds are made 
desolate, eggs being crushed and eaten on the spot, when there 
are no birds to carry off to the rickety, coarse nest in the high 
tree top in the woods. The fish crow, however, is the much 

41 



Conspicuously Black 

greater enemy of the birds. Like the common crows, this, their 
smaller cousin, likes to congregate in winter along the seacoast 
to feed upon shell-fish and other sea-food that the tide brings to 
its feet. 

Samuels claims to have seen a pair of crows visit an orchard 
and destroy the young in two robins' nests in half an hour. He 
calculates that two crows kill, in one day alone, young birds that 
in the course of the season would have eaten a hundred thousand 
insects. When, in addition to these atrocities, we remember the 
crow's depredations in the corn-field, it is small wonder that 
among the first laws enacted in New York State was one offering 
a reward for its head. But the more scientific agriculturists now 
concede that the crow is the farmer's true friend. 



Fish Crow 

(Corvus ossifragus) Crow family 

Length — 14 to 16 inches. About half as large again as the robin. 

Male and Female — Glossy black, with purplish-blue reflections, 
generally greener underneath. Chin naked. 

Range — Along Atlantic coast and that of the Gulf of Mexico, 
northward to southern New England. Rare stragglers on 
the Pacific coast. 

Migrations — March or April. September. Summer resident only 
at northern limit of range. Is found in Hudson River valley 
about half-way to Albany. 

Compared with the common crow, with which it is often 
confounded, the fish crow is of much smaller, more slender 
build. Thus its flight is less labored and more like a gull's, 
whose habit of catching fish that may be swimming near the 
surface of the water it sometimes adopts. Both Audubon and 
Wilson, who first made this species known, record its habit of 
snatching food as it flies over the southern waters — a rare practice 
at the north. Its plumage, too, differs slightly from the common 
crow's in being a richer black everywhere, and particularly 
underneath, where the "corn thief" is dull. But it is the dif- 
ference between the two crows' call-note that we chiefly depend 
upon to distinguish these confusing cousins. To say that the 
fish crow says car-r^r instead of a loud, clear caw, means little 

42 



Conspicuously Black 

until we have had an opportunity to compare its hoarse, cracked 
voice with the other bird's familiar call. 

From the farmer's point of view, there is still another dis- 
tinction: the fish crow lets his crops alone. It contents itself 
with picking up refuse on the shores of the sea or rivers not far 
inland ; haunting the neighborhood of fishermen's huts for the 
small fish discarded when the seines are drawn, and treading out 
with its toes the shell-fish hidden in the sand at low tide. When 
we see it in the fields it is usually intent upon catching field- 
mice, grubs, and worms, with which it often varies its fish diet. It 
is, however, the worst nest robber we have ; it probably destroys 
ten times as many eggs and young birds as its larger cousin. 

The fishermen have a tradition that this southern crow 
comes and goes with the shad and herring— a saw which science 
unkindly disapproves. 

American Raven 

(Corvus cor ax principalis) Crow family 
Called also: NORTHERN RAVEN 

Length — 26 to 27 inches. Nearly three times as large as a robin. 

Male and Female— Glossy black above, with purplish and greenish 
reflections. Duller underneath. Feathers of the throat and 
breast long and loose, like fringe. 

Range — North America, from polar regions to Mexico. Rare 
along Atlantic coast and in the south. Common in the 
west, and very abundant in the northwest. 

Migrations — An erratic wanderer, usually resident where it finds 
its way. 

The weird, uncanny voice of this great bird that soars in 
wide circles above the evergreen trees of dark northern forests 
seems to come out of the skies like the malediction of an evil 
spirit. Without uttering the words of any language — Poe's 
"Nevermore" was, of course, a poetic license — people of all 
nationalities appear to understand that some dire calamity, some 
wicked portent, is being announced every time the unbirdlike 
creature utters its rasping call. The superstitious folk crow with 
an " 1 told you so," as they solemnly wag their heads when they 
hear of some death in the village after "the bird of ill-omen" has 

43 




Conspicuously Black 

made an unwelcome visit to the neighborhood. It receives the 
blame for every possible misfortune. 

When seen in the air, the crow is the only other bird for 
which the raven could be mistaken; but the raven does more 
sailing and less flapping, and he delights in describing circles as 
he easily soars high above the trees. On the ground, he is seen 
to be a far larger bird than the largest crow. The curious beard 
or fringe of feathers on his breast at once distinguishes him. 

These birds show the family instinct for living in flocks large 
and small, not of ravens only, but of any birds of their own gen- 
era. In the art of nest building they could instruct most of their 
relatives. High up in evergreen trees or on the top of cliffs, 
never very near the seashore, they make a compact, symmetrical 
nest of sticks, neatly lined with grasses and wool from the sheep 
pastures, adding soft, comfortable linings to the old nest from 
year to year for each new brood. When the young emerge 
from the eggs, which take many curious freaks of color and mark- 
ings, they are pied black and white, suggesting the young of the 
western white-necked raven, a similarity which, so far as plu- 
mage is concerned, they quickly outgrow. They early acquire the 
fortunate habit of eating whatever their parents set before them — 
grubs, worms, grain, field-mice; anything, in fact, for the raven 
is a conspicuously omnivorous bird. 



Purple Crackle 

(Quiscalus quiscula) Blackbird family 

Called also : CROW BLACKBIRD ; MAIZE THIEF ; KEEL- 
TAILED GRACKLE 

Length — 12 to 1 3 inches. About one-fourth as large again as the 
robin. 

Male— Iridescent black, in which metallic violet, blue, copper, 
and green tints predominate. The plumage of this grackle 
has iridescent bars. Iris cf eye bright yellow and conspic- 
uous. Tail longer than wings. 

Female— Less brilliant black than male, and smaller. 

Range— Gulf of Mexico to 57th parallel north latitude. 

Migrations — Permanent resident in Southern States. Few are 

permanent throughout range. Migrates in immense flocks 

in March and September. 

44 



"1 



L 



J 



Conspicuously Black 

This "refined crow" (which is really no crow at all except 
in appearance) has scarcely more friends than a thief is entitled 
to ; for, although in many sections of the country it has given up 
its old habit of stealing Indian corn and substituted ravages upon 
the grasshoppers instead, it still indulges a crow-like instinct for 
pillaging nests and eating young birds. 

Travelling in immense flocks of its own kind, a gregarious 
bird of the first order, it nevertheless is not the social fellow that 
its cousin, the red-winged blackbird, is. It especially holds 
aloof from mankind, and mankind reciprocates its suspicion. 

The tallest, densest evergreens are not too remote for it 
to build its home, according to Dr. Abbott, though in other 
States than New Jersey, where he observed them, an old 
orchard often contains dozens of nests. One peculiarity of the 
grackles is that their eggs vary so much in coloring and mark- 
ings that different sets examined in the same groups of trees 
are often wholly unlike. The average groundwork, however, is 
soiled blue or greenish, waved, streaked, or clouded with brown. 
These are laid in a nest made of miscellaneous sticks and grasses, 
rather carefully constructed, and lined with mud. Another pecu- 
liarity is the bird's method of steering itself by its tail when it 
wishes to turn its direction or alight. 

Peering at you from the top of a dark pine tree with its 
staring yellow eye, the grackle is certainly uncanny. There, 
very early in the spring, you may hear its cracked and wheezy 
whistle, for, being aware that however much it may look like a 
crow it belongs to another family, it makes a ridiculous attempt 
to sing. When a number of grackles lift up their voices at once, 
some one has aptly likened the result to a "good wheel-barrow 
chorus!" The grackle's mate alone appreciates his efforts as, 
standing on tiptoe, with half-spread wings and tail, he pours 
forth his craven soul to her through a disjointed larynx. 

With all their faults, and they are numerous, let it be re- 
corded of both crows and grackles that they are as devoted lovers 
as turtle-doves. Lowell characterizes them in these four lines : 



ii 



Fust come the black birds, clatt'rin' in tall trees, 
And settlin' things in windy Congresses ; 
Queer politicians, though, for I'll be skinned 
If all on 'em don't head against the wind." 



45 




Conspicuously Black 

The Bronzed Grackle {Quiscalus quiscula ceneus) differs from 
the preceding chiefly in the more brownish bronze tint of its 
plumage and its lack of iridescent bars. Its range is more west- 
erly, and in the southwest it is particularly common ; but as a 
summer resident it finds its way to New England in large num- 
bers. The call-note is louder and more metallic than the purple 
grackle's. In nearly all respects the habits of these two birds are 
identical. 



Rusty Blackbird 

( Scolecopbagus carolinus) Blackbird family 

CaUed also : THRUSH BLACKBIRD ; RUSTY GRACKLE ; 
RUSTY ORIOLE ; RUSTY CROW ; BLACKBIRD 

Length—*) to 9.55 inches. A trifle smaller than the robin. 

Afale— In full plumage, glossy black with metallic reflections, 
intermixed with rusty brown that becomes more pronounced 
as the season advances. Pale straw-colored eyes. 

Female — Duller plumage and more rusty, inclining to gray. 
Light line over eye. Smaller than male. 

Range— North America, from Newfoundland to Gulf of Mexico 
and westward to the Plains. 

Migrations— April. November. A few winter north. 

A more sociable bird than the grackle, though it travel in 
smaller flocks, the rusty blackbird condescends to mingle freely 
with other feathered friends in marshes and by brooksides. You 
can identify it by its rusty feathers and pale yellow eye, and 
easily distinguish the rusty-gray female from the female redwing 
that is conspicuously streaked. 

In April flocks of these birds may frequently be seen along 
sluggish, secluded streams in the woods, feeding upon the seeds 
of various water or brookside plants, and probably upon insects 
also. At such times they often indulge in a curious spluttering, 
squeaking, musical concert that one listens to with pleasure. 
The breeding range is mostly north of the United States. But 
little seems to be known of the birds' habits in their northern 
home. 

Why it should ever have been called a thrush blackbird is one 
of those inscrutable mysteries peculiar to the naming of birds 

46 



CRACKLE'S NEST AND YOUNG, 



Conspicuously Black 

which are so frequently called precisely what they are not. In 
spite of the compliment implied in associating the name of one 
of our finest songsters with it, the rusty blackbird has a clucking 
call as unmusical as it is infrequent, and only very rarely in the 
spring does it pipe a note that even suggests the sweetness of 
the redwing's. 



Red-winged Blackbird 

( Agelaius pboeniceus) Blackbird family 

Called also: SWAMP BLACKBIRD ; RED-WINGED ORIOLE ; 

RED-WINGED STARLING 



Length — Exceptionally variable — 7.50 to 9.80 inches. Usually 
about an inch smaller than the robin. 

Male — Coal-black. Shoulders scarlet, edged with yellow. 

Female — Feathers finely and inconspicuously speckled with 
brown, rusty black, whitish, and orange. Upper wing- 
coverts rusty black, tipped with white, or rufous and some- 
times spotted with black and red. 

Range— North America. Breeds from Texas to Columbia River, 
and throughout the United States. Commonly found from 
Mexico to 57th degree north latitude. 

Migrations — March. October. Common summer resident. 

In oozy pastures where a brook lazily finds its way through 
the farm is the ideal pleasure ground of this "bird of society. 1 ' 
His notes, " h'-wa~ker-ee" or ' ' con-quer-ee " (on an ascending 
scale), are liquid in quality, suggesting the sweet, moist, cool 
retreats where he nests. Liking either heat or cold (he is fond 
of wintering in Florida, but often retreats to the north while the 
marshes are still frozen) ; enjoying not only the company of large 
flocks of his own kind with whom he travels, but any bird 
associates with whom he can scrape acquaintance ; or to sit 
quietly on a tree-top in the secluded, inaccessible bog while his 
mate is nesting; satisfied with cut- worms, grubs, and insects, or 
with fruit and grain for his food — the blackbird is an impressive 
and helpful example of how to get the best out of life. 

Yet, of all the birds, some farmers complain that the black- 
bird is the greatest nuisance. They dislike the noisy chatterings 
when a flock is simply indulging its social instincts. They 

47 




Conspicuously Black 

complain, too, that the blackbirds eat their corn, forgetting that 
having devoured innumerable grubs from it during the summer, 
the birds feel justly entitled to a share of the profits. Though 
occasionally guilty of eating the farmer's corn and oats and rice, 
yet it has been found that nearly seven-eighths of the red- 
wing's food is made up of weed-seeds or of insects injurious to 
agriculture. 

This bird builds its nest in low bushes on the margin of 
ponds or low in the bog grass of marshes. From three to five 
pale-blue eggs, curiously streaked, spotted, and scrawled with 
black or purple, constitute a brood. Nursery duties are soon 
finished, for in July the young birds are ready to gather in flocks 
with their elders. 

" The blackbirds make the maples ring 
With social cheer and jubilee ; 
The red-wing flutes his ' O-ka-lee 1 ' " 



Purple Martin 

(Progne subis) Swallow family 

Length — 7 to 8 inches. Two or three inches smaller than the 
robin. 

Male — Rich glossy black with bluish and purple reflections ; 
duller black on wings and tail. Wings rather longer than 
the tail, which is forked. 

Female — More brownish and mottled ; grayish below. 

Range— Peculiar to America. Penetrates from Arctic Circle to 
South America. 

Migrations — Late April. Early September. Summer resident 

In old-fashioned gardens, set on a pole over which honey- 
suckle and roses climbed from a bed where China pinks, phlox, 
sweet Williams, and hollyhocks crowded each other below, 
martin boxes used always to be seen with a pair of these large, 
beautiful swallows circling overhead. But now, alas! the boxes, 
where set up at all, are quickly monopolized by the English spar- 
row, a bird that the martin, courageous as a kingbird in attacking 
crows and hawks, tolerates as a neighbor only when it must. 

Bradford Torrey tells of seeing quantities of long-necked 
squashes dangling from poles about the negro cabins all through 

48 



[KD-WING^D BLACKBIRD. 



Conspicuously Black 

the South. One day he asked an old colored man what these 
squashes were for. 

"Why, deh is martins' boxes," said Uncle Remus. "No 
danger of hawks carryin' off de chickens so long as de martins 
am around." 

The Indians, too, have always had a special liking for this 
bird. They often lined a hollowed-out gourd with bits of bark 
and fastened it in the crotch of their tent poles to invite its friend- 
ship. The Mohegan Indians have called it "the bird that never 
rests" — a name better suited to the tireless barn swallow, Dr. 
Abbott thinks. 

Wasps, beetles, and all manner of injurious garden insects 
constitute its diet — another reason for its universal popularity. 
It is simple enough to distinguish the martins from the other 
swallows by their larger size and iridescent dark coat, not to 
mention their song, which is very soft and sweet, like musical 
laughter, rippling up through the throat 



Cowbird 

(Molotbrus ater) Blackbird family 

Called also; BROWN-HEADED ORIOLE; COW-PEN BIRD; 
COW BLACKBIRD; COW BUNTING 

Length — 7 to 8 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the robin. 

Male — Iridescent black, with head, neck, and breast glistening 
brown. Bill dark brown, feet brownish. 

Female— Dull grayish-brown above, a shade lighter below, and 
streaked with paler shades of brown. 

Range — United States, from coast to coast. North into British 
America, south into Mexico. 

Migrations — March. November. Common summer resident. 

The cowbird takes its name from its habit of walking about 
among the cattle in the pasture, picking up the small insects 
which the cattle disturb in their grazing. The bird may often 
be seen within a foot or two of the nose of a cow or heifer, walk- 
ing briskly about like a miniature hen, intently watching for its 
insect prey. 

Its marital and domestic character is thoroughly bad. 

49 




Conspicuously Black 

Polygamous and utterly irresponsible for its offspring, this bird 
forms a striking contrast to other feathered neighbors, and indeed 
is almost an anomaly in the animal kingdom. In the breeding 
season an unnatural mother may be seen skulking about in the 
trees and shrubbery, seeking for nests in which to place a sur- 
reptitious egg, never imposing it upon a bird of its size, but se- 
lecting in a cowardly way a small nest, as that of the vireos or 
warblers or chipping sparrows, and there leaving the hatching and 
care of its young to the tender mercies of some already burdened 
little mother. It has been seen to remove an egg from the nest 
of the red-eyed vireo in order to place one of its own in its 
place. Not finding a convenient nest, it will even drop its eggs 
on the ground, trusting them to merciless fate, or, still worse, 
devouring them. The eggs are nearly an inch long, white 
speckled with brown or gray. 

Cowbirds are gregarious. The ungrateful young birds, as 
soon as they are able to go roaming, leave their foster-parents and 
join the flock of their own kind. In keeping with its unclean 
habits and unholy life and character, the cowbird's ordinary note 
is a gurgling, rasping whistle, followed by a few sharp notes. 



BIRDS CONSPICUOUSLY BLACK AND WHITE 

Red-headed Woodpecker 

Hairy Woodpecker 

Downy Woodpecker 

Yellow-bellied Woodpecker 

Che wink 

Snowflake 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 

Bobolink 

Black-poll Warbler 

Black-and-white Creeping Warbler 



See also the Swallows; the Shrikes; Nuthatches and Titmice: the Kingbird 
and other Fly catchers; the Nighthawk; the Redstart; and the .following Warblers: 
the Myrtle; the Bay-breasted; the Blackburnian; and the Black-throated Blue 
Warbler. 




BIRDS CONSPICUOUSLY BLACK AND WHITE 

Red-headed Woodpecker 

(Melanerpes erythrocephalus) Woodpecker family 

Called also: TRI-COLOR ; RED-HEAD 

Length— £.50 to 9.75 inches. An inch or less smaller than the 
robin. 

Male and Female — Head, neck, and throat crimson ; breast and 
underneath white; back black and white; wings and tail 
blue black, with broad white band on wings conspicuous in 
flight. 

ILange— United States, east of Rocky Mountains and north to 
Manitoba. 

Migrations— Abundant but irregular migrant Most commonly 
seen in Autumn, and rarely resident. 

In thinly populated sections, where there are few guns 
about, this is still one of the commonest as it is perhaps the most 
conspicuous member of the woodpecker family, but its striking 
glossy black-and-white body and its still more striking crimson 
head, flattened out against the side of a tree like a target, where 
it is feeding, have made it all too tempting a mark for the rifles 
of the sportsmen and the sling-shots of small boys. As if suffi- 
cient attention were not attracted to it by its plumage, it must 
needs keep up a noisy, guttural rattle, ker-r-ruck, her-r-ruck, 
very like a tree-toad's call, and flit about among the trees with 
the restlessness of a fly-catcher. Yet, in spite of these invita- 
tions for a shot to the passing gunner, it still multiplies in dis- 
tricts where nuts abound, being "more common than the robin" 
about Washington, says John Burroughs. 

All the familiar woodpeckers have two characteristics most 
prominently exemplified in this red-headed member of their 
tribe. The hairy, the downy, the crested, the red-bellied, the 
sapsucker, and the flicker have each a red mark somewhere about 

53 




Conspicuously Black and White 

their heads as if they had been wounded there and bled a little- 
some more, some less ; and the figures of all of them, from much 
flattening against tree-trunks, have become high-shouldered and 
long-waisted. 

The red-headed woodpecker selects, by preference, a partly 
decayed tree in which to excavate a hole for its nest, because 
the digging is easier, and the sawdust and chips make a softer 
lining than green wood. Both male and female take turns in 
this hollowing-out process. The one that is off duty is allowed 
"twenty minutes for refreshments," consisting of grubs, beetles, 
ripe apples or cherries, corn, or preferably beech-nuts. At a 
loving call from its mate in the hollow tree, it returns promptly 
to perform its share of the work, when the carefully observed 
" time is up." The heap of sawdust at the bottom of the hollow 
will eventually cradle from four to six glossy-white eggs. 

This woodpecker has the thrifty habit of storing away nuts 
in the knot-holes of trees, between cracks in the bark, or in 
decayed fence rails — too often a convenient .storehouse at which 
the squirrels may help themselves. But it is the black snake that 
enters the nest and eats the young family, and that is a more 
deadly foe than even the sportsman or the milliner. 



The Hairy Woodpecker 

(Dryobates villosus) Woodpecker family 

Length— 9 'to 10 inches. About the size of the robin. 

Male— Black and white above, white beneath. White stripe 
down the back, composed of long hair-like feathers. Bright- 
red band on the nape of neck. Wings striped and dashed 
with black and white. Outer tail feathers white, without 
bars. White stripe about eyes and on sides of the head. 

Female — Without the red band on head, and body more brown- 
ish than that of the male. 

Range— Eastern parts of United States, from the Canadian bor- 
der to the Carolinas. 

Migrations — Resident throughout its range. 

The bill of the woodpecker is a hammering tool, well fitted 
for its work. Its mission in life is to rid the trees of insects, 

54 



1 



Conspicuously Black and White 

which hide beneath the bark, and with this end in view, the bird 
is seen clinging to the trunks and branches of trees through fair 
and wintry weather, industriously scanning every inch for the 
well-known signs of the boring worm or destructive fly. 

In the autumn the male begins to excavate his winter quar- 
ters, carrying or throwing out the chips, by which this good 
workman is known, with his beak, while the female may make 
herself cosey or not, as she chooses, in an abandoned hole. About 
her comfort he seems shamefully unconcerned. Intent only on 
his own, he drills a perfectly round hole, usually on the under 
side of a limb where neither snow nor wind can harm him, and 
digs out a horizontal tunnel in the dry, brittle wood in the very 
heart of the tree, before turning downward into the deep, pear- 
shaped chamber, where he lives in selfish solitude. But when the 
nesting season comes, how devoted he is temporarily to the mate 
he has neglected and even abused through the winter ! Will she 
never learn that after her clear- white eggs are laid and her brood 
raised he will relapse into the savage and forget all his tender 
wiles ? 

The hairy woodpecker, like many another bird and beast, fur- 
nishes much doubtful weather lore for credulous and inexact ob- 
servers. " When the woodpecker pecks low on the trees, expect 
warm weather" is a common saying, but when different individ- 
uals are seen pecking at the same time, one but a few feet from 
the ground, and another among the high branches, one may 
make the prophecy that pleases him best. 

The hairy Woodpeckers love the deep woods. They are 
drummers, not singers ; but when walking in the desolate winter 
woods even the drumming and tapping of the busy feathered 
workmen on a resonant limb is a solace, giving a sense of life and 
cheerful activity which is invigorating. 



The Downy Woodpecker 

(Dryobates pubescensj Woodpecker family 

Lingth—6 to 7 inches. About the size of the English sparrow. 

jMa/*— Black above, striped with white. Tail shaped like a wedge. 
Outer tail feathers white, and barred with black. Middle tail 
feathers black. A black stripe on top of head, and distinct 
white band over and under the eyes. Red patch on upper 

55 




Conspicuously Black and White 

side of neck. Wings, with six white bands crossing them 
transversely ; white underneath. 

Female— Similar, but without scarlet on the nape, which is white. 

Range— Eastern North America, from Labrador to Florida. 

Migrations— Resident all the year throughout its range. 

The downy woodpecker is similar to his big relative, the 
hairy woodpecker, in color and shape, though much smaller. 
His outer tail feathers are white, barred with black, but the 
hairy's white outer tail feathers lack these distinguishing marks. 

He is often called a sapsucker— though quite another bird 
alone merits that name— from the supposition that he bores into 
the trees for the purpose of sucking the sap ; but his tongue is ill 
adapted for such use, being barbed at the end, and most orni- 
thologists consider the charge libellous. It has been surmised 
that he bores the numerous little round holes close together, so 
often seen, with the idea of attracting insects to the luscious sap. 
The woodpeckers never drill for insects in live wood. The 
downy actually drills these little holes in apple and other trees to 
feed upon the inner milky bark of the tree— the cambium layer. 
The only harm to be laid to his account is that, in his zeal, he 
sometimes makes a ring of small holes so continuous as to inad- 
vertently damage the tree by girdling it. The bird, like most 
others, does not debar himself entirely from fruit diet, but enjoys 
berries, especially poke-berries. 

He is very social with birds and men alike. In winter he 
attaches himself to strolling bands of nuthatches and chickadees, 
and in summer is fond of making friendly visits among village 
folk, frequenting the shade trees of the streets and grapevines 
of back gardens. He has even been known to fearlessly peck at 
flies on window panes. 

In contrast to his large brother woodpecker, who is seldom 
drawn from timber lands, the little downy member of the family 
brings the comfort of his cheery presence to country homes, 
beating his rolling tattoo in spring on some resonant limb under 
our windows in the garden with a strength worthy of a larger 
drummer. 

This rolling tattoo, or drumming, answers several purposes: 
by it he determines whether the tree is green or hollow; it startles 
insects from their lurking places underneath the bark, and it 
also serves as a love song. 

56 



YELLOW ■ HE LL1 ED SAPSL'CKEK. 



Conspicuously Black and White 

Yellow-bellied Woodpecker 

(Spbyrapicus varius) Woodpecker family 
Called also; THE SAPSUCKER 

Length — 8 to 8.6 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the robin. 

Male — Black, white, and yellowish white above, with bright-red 
crown, chin, and throat. Breast black, in form of crescent. 
A yellowish-white line, beginning at bill and passing below 
eye, merges into the pale yellow of the bird underneath. 
Wings spotted with white, and coverts chiefly white. Tail 
black; white on middle of feathers. 

Female— Paler, and with head and throat white. 

Range — Eastern North America, from Labrador to Central America. 

Migrations— April. October. Resident north of Massachusetts. 
Most common in autumn. 

It is sad to record that this exquisitely marked woodpecker, 
the most jovial and boisterous of its family, is one of the very 
few bird visitors whose intimacy should be discouraged. For its 
useful appetite for slugs and insects which it can take on the 
wing with wonderful dexterity, it need not be wholly con- 
demned. But as we look upon a favorite maple or fruit tree 
devitalized or perhaps wholly dead from its ravages, we cannot 
forget that this bird, while a most abstemious fruit-eater, has a 
pernicious and most intemperate thirst for sap. Indeed, it spends 
much of its time in the orchard, drilling holes into the freshest, 
most vigorous trees ; then, when their sap begins to flow, it 
siphons it into an insatiable throat, stopping in its orgie only 
long enough to snap at the insects that have been attracted to 
the wounded tree by the streams of its heart-blood now trickling 
down its sides. Another favorite pastime is to strip the bark off 
a tree, then peck at the soft wood underneath — almost as fatal a 
habit. It drills holes in maples in early spring for sap only. If it 
drills holes in fruit trees it is for the cambium layer, a soft, pulpy, 
nutritious under-bark. 

These woodpeckers have a variety of call-notes, but their 
rapid drumming against the limbs and trunks of trees is the 
sound we always associate with them and the sound that Mr. 
Bicknell says is the love-note of the family. 

Unhappily, these birds, that many would be glad to have 

57 




Conspicuously Black and White 



decrease in numbers, take extra precautions for the safety of their 
young by making very deep excavations for their nests, often as 
deep as eighteen or twenty inches. 



The Chewink 

(Pipilo erytbropbtbalmus) Finch family 

Called also: GROUND ROBIN ; TOWHEE ; TOWHEE BUNT- 
ING ; TOWHEE GROUND FINCH ; GRASEL 

Length — 8 to 8. 5 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the robin. 

Male — Upper parts black, sometimes margined with rufous. Breast 
white; chestnut color on sides and rump. Wings marked 
with white. Three outer feathers of tail striped with white, 
conspicuous in flight. Bill black and stout. Red eyes ; feet 
brown. 

Female — Brownish where the male is black. Abdomen shading 
from chestnut to white in the centre. 

Range — From Labrador, on the north, to the Southern States ; 
west to the Rocky Mountains. 

Migrations — April. September and October. Summer resident 
Very rarely a winter resident at the north. 

The unobtrusive little chewink is not infrequently mistaken 
for a robin, because of the reddish chestnut on its under parts. 
Careful observation, however, shows important distinctions. It 
is rather smaller and darker in color; its carriage and form are 
not those of the robin, but of the finch. The female is smaller 
still, and has an olive tint in her brown back. Her eggs are in- 
conspicuous in color, dirty white speckled with brown, and laid 
in a sunken nest on the ground. Dead leaves and twigs abound, 
and form, as the anxious mother fondly hopes, a safe hiding 
place for her brood. So careful concealment, however, brings 
peril to the fledglings, for the most cautious bird-lover may, and 
often does, inadvertently set his foot on the hidden nest. 

The chewink derives its name from the fancied resemblance 
of its note to these syllables, while those naming it "towhee" 
hear the sound to-whick, to-whick, to-whee. Its song is rich, 
full, and pleasing, and given only when the bird has risen to the 
branches above its low foraging ground. 

It frequents the border of swampy places and bushy fields. 

58 



Conspicuously Black and White 

It is generally seen in the underbrush, picking about among the 
dead leaves for its steady diet of earthworms and larvae of in- 
sects, occasionally regaling itself with a few dropping berries 
and fruit. 

When startled, the bird rises not more than ten or twelve 
feet from the earth, and utters its characteristic calls. On ac- 
count of this habit of flying low and grubbing among the leaves, 
it is sometimes called the ground robin. In the South our modest 
and useful little food-gatherer is often called grasel, especially in 
Louisiana, where it is white-eyed, and is much esteemed, alas! 
by epicures. 

Snowflake 

(Plectropbenax nivalis) Finch family 

Called also: SNOW BUNTING; WHITEBIRD ; SNOWBIRD; 

SNOW LARK 

Length — 7 to 7. 5 inches. About one-fourth smaller than the robin. 

Male and Female — Head, neck, and beneath soiled white, with a 
few reddish-brown feathers on top of head, and suggesting an 
imperfect collar. Above, grayish brown obsoletely streaked 
with black, the markings being most conspicuous in a band 
between shoulders. Lower tail feathers black ; others, white 
and all edged with white. Wings brown, white, and gray. 
Plumage unusually variable. In summer dress (in arctic 
regions) the bird is almost white. 

Range— Circumpolar regions to Kentucky (in winter only). 

Mig rations— Midwinter visitor; rarely, if ever, resident south of 
arctic regions. 

These snowflakes (mentioned collectively, for it is impossible 
to think of the bird except in great flocks) are the " true spirits of 
the snowstorm," says Thoreau. They are animated beings that 
ride upon it, and have their life in it. By comparison with the 
climate of the arctic regions, no doubt our hardiest winter weather 
seems luxuriously mild to them. We associate them only with 
those wonderful midwinter days when sky, fields, and woods 
alike are white, and a "hard, dull bitterness of cold" drives 
every other bird and beast to shelter. It is said they often pass 
the night buried beneath the snow. They have been seen to dive 
beneath it to escape a hawk. 

Whirling about in the drifting snow to catch the seeds on 

59 




Conspicuously BUck and White 

the tallest stalks that the wind in the open meadows uncovers, 
the snowflakes suggest a lot of dead leaves being blown through 
the all-pervading whiteness. Beautiful soft brown, gray, and 
predominating black-and-white coloring distinguish these capri- 
cious visitors from the slaty junco, the "snowbird" more com- 
monly known. They are, indeed, the only birds we have that 
are nearly white ; and rarely, if ever, do they rise far above the 
ground their plumage so admirably imitates. 

At the far north, travellers have mentioned their inspiriting 
song, but in the United States we hear only their cheerful twitter. 
Nansen tells of seeing an occasional snow bunting in that desola- 
tion of arctic ice where the Fram drifted so long. 



The Rose-breasted Grosbeak 

(Habia ludoviciana) Finch family 

Length— 7. 75 to 8. 5 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the robin. 

Male— Head and upper parts black. Breast has rose-carmine 
shield-shaped patch, often extending downward to the centre 
of the abdomen. Underneath, tail quills, and two spots on 
wings white. Conspicuous yellow, blunt beak. 

Female— Brownish, with dark streakings, like a sparrow. * No 
rose-color. Light sulphur yellow under wings. Dark brown, 
heavy beak. 

Range — Eastern North America, from southern Canada to Panama. 

Migrations — Early May. September. Summer resident. 

A certain ornithologist tells with complacent pride of having 
shot over fifty-eight rose-breasted grosbeaks in less than three 
weeks (during the breeding season) to learn what kind of food 
they had in their crops. This kind of devotion to science may 
have quite as much to do with the growing scarcity of this bird 
in some localities as the demands of the milliners, who, however, 
receive all of the blame for the slaughter of our beautiful songsters. 
The farmers in Pennsylvania, who, with more truth than poetry, 
call this the potato-bug bird, are taking active measures, how- 
ever, to protect the neighbor that is more useful to their crop than 
all the insecticides known. It also eats flies, wasps, and grubs. 

Seen upon the ground, the dark bird is scarcely attractive with 
his clumsy beak overbalancing a head that protrudes with stupid- 

60 



KOSK-BREASTF.n liKOSBEAl 



i J 

BROTHER AND SISTER ROSE BREASTED GROSBEAKS, TWO WEEKS OLD 



ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, SIX DAYS OLD. 



Conspicuously Black and White 

looking awkwardness ; but as he rises into the trees his lovely 
rose-colored breast and under-wing feathers are seen, and before 
he has had time to repeat his delicious, rich-voiced warble you 
are already in love with him. Vibrating his wings after the 
manner of the mocking-bird, he pours forth a marvellously sweet, 
clear, mellow song (with something of the quality of the oriole's, 
robin's, and thrush's notes), making the day on which you first 
hear it memorable. This is one of the few birds that sing at 
night A soft, sweet, rolling warble, heard when the moon is at 
its full on a midsummer night, is more than likely to come from 
the rose-breasted grosbeak. 

It is not that his quiet little sparrow-like wife has advanced 
notions of feminine independence that he takes his turn at sitting 
upon the nest, but that he is one of the most unselfish and devoted 
of mates. With their combined efforts they construct only a 
coarse, unlovely cradle in a thorn-bush or low tree near an old, 
overgrown pasture lot. The father may be the poorest of archi- 
tects, but as he patiently sits brooding over the green, speckled 
eggs, his beautiful rosy breast just showing above the grassy 
rim, he is a sufficient adornment for any bird's home. 



The Bobolink 

(Dolicbonyx oryqfoorus) Blackbird family 

Called also: REEDBIRD; MAYBIRD; MEADOW-BIRD; AMERI- 
CAN ORTOLAN ; BUTTER-BIRD ; SKUNK BLACKBIRD 

Length — 7 inches. A trifle larger than the English sparrow. 

Male — In spring plumage: black, with light-yellow patch on 
upper neck, also on edges of wings and tail feathers. Rump 
and upper wings splashed with white. Middle of back 
streaked with pale buff. Tail feathers have pointed tips. In 
autumn plumage, resembles female. 

Female — Dull yellow-brown, with light and dark dashes on back, 
wings, and tail. Two decided dark stripes on top of head. 

Range — North America, from eastern coast to western prairies. 
Migrates in early autumn to Southern States, and in winter to 
South America and West Indies. 

Migrations — Early May. From August to October. Common 
summer resident. 

61 



Conspicuously Black and White 

Perhaps none of our birds have so fitted into song and story 
as the bobolink. Unlike a good child, who should "be seen 
and not heard," he is heard more frequently than seen. Very 
shy, of peering eyes, he keeps well out of sight in the meadow 
grass before entrancing our listening ears. The bobolink never 
soars like the lark, as the poets would have us believe, but gen- 
erally sings on the wing, flying with a peculiar self-conscious 
flight horizontally thirty or forty feet above the meadow grass. 
He also sings perched upon the fence or tuft of grass. He is one 
of the greatest poseurs among the birds. 

In spring and early summer the bobolinks respond to every 
poet's effort to imitate their notes. "Dignified 'Robert of Lin- 
coln' is telling his name," says one; "Spink, spank, spink," an- 
other hears him say. But best of all are Wilson Flagg's lines: 

. . . •' Now they rise and now they fly ; 
They cross and turn, and in and out, and down the middle and wheel about, 
With a ' Phew, shew, Wadolincon ; listen to me Bobolincon ! ' " 

After midsummer the cares of the family have so worn upon 
the jollity of our dashing, rollicking friend that his song is seldom 
heard. The colors of his coat fade into a dull yellowish brown 
like that of his faithful mate, who has borne the greater burden 
of the season, for he has two complete moults each year. 

The bobolinks build their nest on the ground in high grass. 
The eggs are of a bluish white. Their food is largely insectivo- 
rous : grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, spiders, with seeds of grass 
especially for variety. 

In August they begin their journey southward, flying mainly 
by night. Arriving in the Southern States, they become the sad- 
colored, low-voiced rice or reed bird, feeding on the rice fields, 
where they descend to the ignominious fate of being dressed for 
the plate of the epicure. 

Could there be a more tragic ending to the glorious note of 
the gay songster of the north ? 



62 



bl 



Conspicuously Black and White 

Blackpoll Warbler 

(Dendroica striata) Wood Warbler family 

Length—*,. 5 to 6 inches. About an inch smaller than the English 

sparrow. 
Male — Black cap; cheeks and beneath grayish white, forming a 
sort of collar, more or less distinct. Upper parts striped 
;ray, black, and olive. Breast and under parts white, with 
>lack streaks. Tail olive-brown, with yellow-white spots. 

Female — Without cap. Greenish-olive above, faintly streaked 
with black. Paler than male. Bands on wings, yellowish. 

Range— North America, to Greenland and Alaska. In winter, to 
northern part of South America. 

Migrations — Last of May, Late October. 

A faint "screep, screep," like "the noise made by striking 
two pebbles together," Audubon says, is often the only indication 
of the blackpoll's presence ; but surely that tireless bird-student 
had heard its more characteristic notes, which, rapidly uttered, 
increasing in the middle of the strain and diminishing toward the 
end, suggest the shrill, wiry hum of some midsummer insect. 
After the opera-glass has searched him out we find him by no 
means an inconspicuous bird. A dainty little fellow, with a 
glossy black cap pulled over his eyes, he is almost hidden by the 
dense foliage on the trees by the time he returns to us at the very 
end of spring. Giraud says that he is the very last of his tribe to 
come north, though the bay-breasted warbler has usually been 
thought the bird to wind up the spring procession. 

The blackpoll has a certain characteristic motion that distin- 
guishes him from the black-and-white creeper, for which a hasty 
glance might mistake him, and from the jolly little chickadee with 
his black cap. Apparently he runs about the tree-trunk, but in 
reality he so flits his wings that his feet do not touch the bark at 
all; yet so rapidly does he go that the flipping wing-motion is 
not observed. He is most often seen in May in the apple trees, 
peeping into the opening blossoms for insects, uttering now and 
then his slender, lisping, brief song. 

Vivacious, a busy hunter, often catching insects on the wing 

like the flycatchers, he is a cheerful, useful neighbor the short 

time he spends with us before travelling to the far north, where 

• he mates and nests. A nest has been found on Slide Mountain, 

in the Catskills, but the hardy evergreens of Canada, and some- 

63 




Conspicuously Black and Whits 

times those of northern New England, are the chosen home of 
this little bird that builds a nest of bits of root, lichens, and sedges, 
amply large for a family twice the size of his. 



Black-and-white Creeping Warbler 

(Mniotilta variaj Wood Warbler family 

Called also : VARIED CREEPING WARBLER ; BLACK-AND- 
WHITE CREEPER; WHITEPOLL WARBLER 

Length — 5 to 5.5 inches. About an inch smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Male — Upper parts white, varied with black. A white stripe 
along the summit of the head and back of the neck, edged 
with black. White line above and below the eye. Black 
cheeks and throat, grayish in females and young. Breast 
white in middle, with black stripes on sides. Wings and 
tail rusty black, with two white cross-bars on former, and 
soiled white markings on tail quills. 

Female — Paler and less distinct markings throughout. 

Range — Peculiar to America. Eastern United States and west- 
ward to the plains. North as far as the fur countries. Win- 
ters in tropics south of Florida. 

Migrations — April. Late September. Summer resident. 

Nine times out of ten this active little warbler is mistaken for 
the downy woodpecker, not because of his coloring alone, but 
also on account of their common habit of running up and down 
the trunks of trees and on the under side of branches, looking for 
insects, on which all the warblers subsist. But presently the true 
warbler characteristic of restless flitting about shows itself. A 
woodpecker would go over a tree with painstaking, systematic 
care, while the black-and-white warbler, no less intent upon 
securing its food, hurries off from tree to tree, wherever the most 
promising menu is offered. 

Clinging to the mottled bark of the tree-trunk, which he so 
closely resembles, it would be difficult to find him were it not 
for these sudden flittings and the feeble song, " Weachy, 
weachy, weachy, 'twee, 'twee, 'tweet" he half lisps, half sings 
between his dashes after slugs. Very rarely indeed can his nest 
be found in an old stump or mossy bank, where bark, leaves, 
and hair make the downy cradle for his four or five tiny babies. 

64 



D WHITE WARBLEK. 



DUSKY AND GRAY AND SLATE-COLORED 

BIRDS 

Chimney Swift 

Kingbird 

Wood Pewee 

Phoebe and Say's Phoebe 

Crested Flycatcher 

Olive-sided Flycatcher 

Least Flycatcher 

Chickadee 

Tufted Titmouse 

Canada Jay 

Catbird 

Mocking-bird 

J unco 

White-breasted Nuthatch 

Red-breasted Nuthatch 

Loggerhead Shrike 

Northern Shrike 

Bohemian Waxwing 

Bay-breasted Warbler 

Chestnut-sided Warbler 

Golden-winged Warbler 

Myrtle Warbler 

Parula Warbler 

Black-throated Blue Warbler 



See also the Grayish Green and the Grayish Brown Birds, particularly the Cedai 
Bird, several Swallows, the Acadian and the Yellow-bellied Flycatchers; Alice's and 
the Olive-backed Thrushes; the Louisiana Water Thrush; the Blue-gray Gnat- 
catcher; and the Seaside Sparrow. See also the females of the following birds: Pine 
Grosbeak; White- winged Red Crossbill; Purple Martin; and the Nashville, the Pine, 
and the Magnolia Warblers. 




DUSKY, GRAY, AND SLATE-COLORED BIRDS 

Chimney Swift 

(Cbcetura pelagica) Swift family 

Called also: CHIMNEY SWALLOW; AMERICAN SWIFT 

Length — 5 to 5.45 inches. About an inch shorter than the Eng- 
lish sparrow. Long wings make its length appear greater. 

Male and Female — Deep sooty gray ; throat of a trifle lighter gray. 
Wings extend an inch and a half beyond the even tail, which 
has sharply pointed and very elastic quills, that serve as props. 
Feet are muscular, and have exceedingly sharp claws. 

Range — Peculiar to North America east of the Rockies, and from 
Labrador to Panama. 

Migrations — April. September or October. Common summer 
resident. 

The chimney swift is, properly speaking, not a swallow at 
all, though chimney swallow is its more popular name. Rowing 
towards the roof of your house, as if it used first one wing, then 
the other, its flight, while swift and powerful, is stiff and mechan- 
ical, unlike the swallow's, and its entire aspect suggests a bat. 
The nighthawk and whippoorwill are its relatives, and it resem- 
bles them not a little, especially in its nocturnal habits. 

So much fault has been found with the misleading names of 
many birds, it is pleasant to record the fact that the name of the 
chimney swift is everything it ought to be. No other birds can 
surpass and few can equal it in its powerful flight, sometimes 
covering a thousand miles in twenty-four hours, it is said, and 
never resting except in its roosting places (hollow trees or chim- 
neys of dwellings), where it does not perch, but rather clings to 
the sides with its sharp claws, partly supported by its sharper 
tail Audubon tells of a certain plane tree in Kentucky where 
he counted over nine thousand of these swifts clinging to the 
hollow trunk. 

67 




Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

Their nest, which is a loosely woven twig lattice, made of 
twigs of trees, which the birds snap off with their beaks and carry 
in their beaks, is glued with the bird's saliva or tree-gum into a 
solid structure, and firmly attached to the inside of chimneys, or 
hollow trees where there are no houses about. Two broods in a 
season usually emerge from the pure white, elongated eggs. 

What a twittering there is in the chimney that the swifts 
appropriate after the winter fires have died out! Instead of the 
hospitable column of smoke curling from the top, a cloud of sooty 
birds wheels and floats above it. A sound as of distant thunder 
fills the chimney as a host of these birds, startled, perhaps, by some 
indoor noise, whirl their way upward. Woe betide the happy 
colony if a sudden cold snap in early summer necessitates the 
starting of a fire on the hearth by the unsuspecting householder! 
The glue being melted by the fire, "down comes the cradle, 
babies and all " into the glowing embers. A prolonged, heavy 
rain also causes their nests to loosen their hold and fall with the 
soot to the bottom. 

Thrifty New England housekeepers claim that bedbugs, 
commonly found on bats, infest the bodies of swifts also, which 
is one reason why wire netting is stretched across the chimney 
tops before the birds arrive from the South. 

Kingbird 

(Tyrannus tyrannus) Flycatcher family 

Called also: TYRANT FLYCATCHER; BEE MARTIN 

Length — 8 inches. About two inches shorter than the robin. 

Male — Ashy black above ; white, shaded with ash-color, beneath. 
A concealed crest of orange-red on crown. Tail black, ter- 
minating with a white band conspicuous in flight. Wing 
feathers edged with white. Feet and bill black. 

Female — Similar to the male, but lacking the crown. 

Range — United States to the Rocky Mountains. British provinces 
to Central and South America. 

Migrations — May. September. Common summer resident. 

If the pugnacious propensity of the kingbird is the occasion 
of its royal name, he cannot be said to deserve it from any fine 
or noble qualities he possesses. He is a born fighter from the very 

68 



WOOD PF.VVEE. 



Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

love of it, without provocation, rhyme, or reason. One can but 
watch with a degree of admiration his bold sallies on the big, 
black crow or the marauding hawk, but when he bullies the 
small inoffensive birds in wanton attacks for sheer amusement, 
the charge is less entertaining. Occasionally, when the little vic- 
tim shows pluck and faces his assailant, the kingbird will literally 
turn tail and show the white feather. His method of attack is 
always when a bird is in flight; then he swoops down from the 
telegraph pole or high point of vantage, and strikes on the head or 
back of the neck, darting back like a flash to the exact spot from 
which he started. By these tactics he avoids a return blow and 
retreats from danger. He never makes a fair hand-to-hand fight, 
or whatever is equivalent in bird warfare. It is a satisfaction to 
record that he does not attempt to give battle to the catbird, but 
whenever in view makes a grand detour to give him a wide berth. 
The kingbird feeds on beetles, canker-worms, and winged 
insects, with an occasional dessert of berries. He is popularly 
supposed to prefer the honeybee as his favorite tidbit, but the 
weight of opinion is adverse to the charge of his depopulating the 
beehive, even though he owes his appellation bee martin to this 
tradition. One or two ornithologists declare that he selects only 
the drones for his diet, which would give him credit for marvel- 
lous sight in his rapid motion through the air. The kingbird is 
preeminently a bird of the garden and orchard. The nest is 
open, though deep, and not carefully concealed. Eggs are nearly 
round, bluish white spotted with brown and lilac. With truly 
royal exclusiveness, the tyrant favors no community of interest, 
but sits in regal state on a conspicuous throne, and takes his 
grand flights alone or with his queen, but never with a flock of 
his kind. 

Wood Pewee 

(Contopus virens) Flycatcher family 

Length — 6. 50 inches. A trifle larger than the English sparrow. 

Male — Dusky brownish olive above, darkest on head ; paler on 
throat, fighter still underneath, and with a yellowish tinge 
on the dusky gray under parts. Dusky wings and tail, the 
wing coverts tipped with soiled white, forming two indistinct 
bars. Whitish eye-ring. Wings longer than tail. 

Female — Similar, but slightly more buff underneath. 

• 69 




Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

Range— Eastern North America, from Florida to northern British 
provinces. Winters in Central America. 

Migrations — May. October. Common summer resident 

The wood pewee, like the olive-sided flycatcher, has wings 
decidedly longer than its tail, and it is by no means a simple 
matter for the novice to tell these birds apart or separate them 
distinctly in the mind from the other members of a family whose 
coloring and habits are most confusingly similar. This dusky 
haunter of tall shady trees has not yet learned to be sociable like 
the phoebe; but while it may not be so much in evidence close 
to our homes, it is doubtless just as common. The orchard is as 
near the house as it often cares to come. An old orchard, where 
modern insecticides are unknown and neglect allows insects to 
riot among the decayed bark and fallen fruit, is a happy hunting 
ground enough ; but the bird's real preferences are decidedly for 
high tree-tops in the woods, where no sunshine touches the 
feathers on his dusky coat. It is one of the few shade-loving 
birds. In deep solitudes, where it surely retreats by nesting 
time, however neighborly it may be during the migrations, its 
pensive, pathetic notes, long drawn out, seem like the expression 
of some hidden sorrow. Pe-a-wee, pe-a-wee, pewee-ab-peer is the 
burden of its plaintive song, a sound as depressing as it is familiar 
in every walk through the woods, and the bird's most prominent 
characteristic. 

To see the bird dashing about in his aerial chase for insects, 
no one would accuse him of melancholia. He keeps an eye on 
the "main chance," whatever his preying grief may be, and 
never allows it to affect his appetite. Returning to his perch 
after a successful sally in pursuit of the passing fly, he repeats his 
"sweetly solemn thought " over and over again all day long and 
every day throughout the summer. 

The wood pewees show that devotion to each other and to 
their home, characteristic of their family. Both lovers work on 
the construction of the flat nest that is saddled on some mossy or 
lichen-covered limb, and so cleverly do they cover the rounded 
edge with bits of bark and lichen that sharp eyes only can detect 
where the cradle lies. Creamy-white eggs, whose larger end is 
wreathed with brown and lilac spots, are guarded with fierce 
solicitude. 

Trowbridge has celebrated this bird in a beautiful poem. 

70 



Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

Phoebe 

(Sayornis pbcebej Flycatcher family 

Called also ; DUSKY FLYCATCHER ; BRIDGE PE WEE ; WATER 

PEWEE 

Length — 7 inches. About an inch longer than the English sparrow. 

Male and Female — Dusky olive-brown above ; darkest on head, 
which is slightly crested. Wings and tail dusky, the outer 
edges of some tail feathers whitish. Dingy yellowish white 
underneath. Bill and feet black. 

Range — North America, from Newfoundland to the South At- 
lantic States, and westward to the Rockies. Winters south 
of the Carolinas, into Mexico, Central America, and the 
West Indies. 

Migrations — March. October. Common summer resident. 

The earliest representative of the flycatcher family to come 
out of the tropics where insect life fairly swarms and teems, 
what does the friendly little phoebe find to attract him to the 
north in March while his prospective dinners must all be still in 
embryo ? He looks dejected, it is true, as he sits solitary and silent 
on some projecting bare limb in the garden, awaiting the coming 
of his tardy mate ; nevertheless, the date of his return will not vary 
by more than a few days in a given locality year after year. Why 
birds that are mated for life, as these are said to be, and such de- 
voted lovers, should not travel together on their journey north, 
is another of the many mysteries of bird-life awaiting solution. 

The reunited, happy couple go about the garden and out- 
buildings like domesticated wrens, investigating the crannies on 
piazzas, where people may be coming and going, and boldly 
entering barn-lofts to find a suitable site for the nest that it must 
take much of both time and skill to build. 

Pewit, pbcebe, pbcebe; pewit, pbcebe, they contentedly but 
rather monotonously sing as they investigate all the sites in the 
neighborhood. Presently a location is chosen under a beam or 
rafter, and the work of collecting moss and mud for the founda- 
tion and hair and feathers or wool to line the exquisite little home 
begins. But the labor is done cheerfully, with many a sally in 
midair either to let off superfluous high spirits or to catch a morsel 
on the wing, and with many a vivacious outburst of what by 
courtesy only we may name a song. 

71 




Dnikji Gray, ud SIste-coEored 

When not domesticated, as these birds are rapidly becoming, 
the phcebes dearly love a cool, wet woodland retreat. Here they 
hunt and bathe ; here they also build in a rocky bank or ledge of 
rocks or underneath a bridge, but always with clever adaptation 
of their nest to its surroundings, out of which it seems a natural 
growth. It is one of the most finished, beautiful nests ever found. 

A pair of phcebes become attached to a spot where they 
have once nested ; they never stray far from it, and return to it 
regularly, though they may not again occupy the old nest. This 
is because it soon becomes infested with lice from the hen's 
feathers used in lining it, for which reason too close relationship 
with this friendly bird-neighbor is discouraged by thrifty house- 
keepers. When the baby birds have come out from the four or 
six little white eggs, their helpless bodies are mercilessly attacked 
by parasites, and are often so enfeebled that half the brood die. 
The next season another nest will be built near the first, the fol- 
lowing summer still another, until it would appear that a colony 
of birds had made their homes in the place. 

Throughout the long summer — for as the phcebe is the first 
flycatcher to come, so it is the last to go — the bird is a tireless 
hunter of insects, which it catches on the wing with a sharp click 
of its beak, like the other members of its dexterous family. 

Say's Phcebe (Sayornis say a) is the Western representative 
of the Eastern species, which it resembles in coloring and many 
of its habits. It is the bird of the open plains, a tireless hunter 
in midair sallies from an isolated perch, and has the same vibrat- 
ing motion of the tail that the Eastern phcebe indulges in when 
excited. This bird differs chiefly in its lighter coloring, but not 
in habits, from the black pe wee of the Pacific slope. 



Great-crested Flycatcher 

(Myiarcbus crmitus) Flycatcher family 

Called alto: CRESTED FLYCATCHER 

Length — 8. 50 to 9 inches. A little smaller than the robin. 

Male and Female — Feathers of the head pointed and erect. Upper 
parts dark grayish-olive, inclining to rusty brown on wings 
and tail. Wing coverts crossed with two irregular bars of 
yellowish white. Throat gray, shading into sulphur-yellow 



Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

underneath, that also extends under the wings. Inner vane 
of several tail quills rusty red. Bristles at base of bill. 

Range— From Mexico, Central America, and West Indies north- 
ward to southern Canada and westward to the plains. Most 
common in Mississippi basin ; common also in eastern 
United States, south of New England. 

Migrations — May. September. Common summer resident. 

The most dignified and handsomely dressed member of his 
family, the crested flycatcher has, nevertheless, an air of pensive 
melancholy about him when in repose that can be accounted for 
only by the pain he must feel every time he hears himself screech. 
His harsh, shrill call, louder and more disagreeable than the king- 
bird's, cannot but rasp his ears as it does ours. And yet it is 
chiefly by this piercing note, given with a rising inflection, that 
we know the bird is in our neighborhood ; for he is somewhat of 
a recluse, and we must often follow the disagreeable noise to its 
source in the tree-tops before we can catch a glimpse of the 
screecher. Perched on a high lookout, he appears morose and 
sluggish, in spite of his aristocratic-looking crest, trim figure, 
and feathers that must seem rather gay to one of his dusky 
tribe. A low soliloquy, apparently born of discontent, can be 
overheard from the foot of his tree. But another second, and he 
has dashed off in hot pursuit of an insect flying beyond our sight, 
and with extremely quick, dexterous evolutions in midair, he 
finishes the hunt with a sharp click of his bill as it closes over the 
unhappy victim, and then he returns to his perch. On the wing 
he is exceedingly active and joyous; in the tree he appears just the 
reverse. That he is a domineering fellow, quite as much of a 
tyrant as the notorious kingbird, that bears the greater burden of 
opprobrium, is shown in the fierce way he promptly dashes at a 
feathered stranger that may have alighted too near his perch, and 
pursues it beyond the bounds of justice, all the while screaming 
his rasping cry into the intruder's ears, that must pierce as deep as 
the thrusts from his relentless beak. He has even been known 
to drive off woodpeckers and bluebirds from the hollows in the 
trees that he, like them, chooses for a nest, and appropriate the 
results of their labor for his scarcely less belligerent mate. With 
a slight but important and indispensable addition, the stolen 
nest is ready to receive her four cream-colored eggs, that look as 
if a pen dipped in purple ink had been scratched over them. 

73 



Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

The fact that gives the great-crested flycatcher a unique in- 
terest among all North American birds is that it invariably lines 
its nest with snake-skins if one can be had. Science would 
scarcely be worth the studying if it did not set our imaginations 
to work delving for plausible reasons for Nature's strange doings. 
Most of us will doubtless agree with Wilson (who made a special 
study of these interesting nests and never found a single one 
without cast snake-skins in it, even in districts where snakes 
were so rare they were supposed not to exist at all), that the 
lining was chosen to terrorize all intruders. The scientific 
mind that is unwilling to dismiss any detail of Nature's work as 
merely arbitrary and haphazard, is greatly exercised over the 
reason for the existence of crests on birds. But, surely, may not 
the sight of snake-skins that first greet the eyes of the fledgling 
flycatchers as they emerge from the shell be a good and sufficient 
reason why the feathers on their little heads should stand on 
end? "In the absence of a snake-skin, I have found an onion 
skin and shad scales in the nest," says John Burroughs, who calls 
this bird "the wild Irishman of the flycatchers." 



Olive-sided Flycatcher 

(Contopus borealis) Flycatcher family 

Length—-] to 7. 5 inches. About an inch longer than the English 
sparrow. 

Male and Female— Dusky olive or grayish brown above ; head 
darkest. Wings and tail blackish brown, the former some- 
times, but not always, margined and tipped with dusky 
white. Throat yellowish white ; other under parts slightly 
lighter shade than above. Olive-gray on sides. A tuft of 
yellowish-white, downy feathers on flanks. Bristles at base 
of bill. 

Range — From Labrador to Panama. Winters in the tropics. 
Nests usually north of United States, but it also breeds in the 
Catskills. 

Migrations— -May \ September. Resident only in northern part 
of its range. 

Only in the migrations may people south of Massachusetts 
hope to see this flycatcher, which can be distinguished from the 
rest of its kin by the darker under parts, and by the fluffy, yel- 

74 



Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

lowish-white tufts of feathers on its flanks. Its habits have the 
family characteristics: It takes its food on the wing, suddenly 
sallying forth from its perch, darting about midair to seize its 
prey, then as suddenly returning to its identical point of vantage, 
usually in some distended, dead limb in the tree-top ; it is pug- 
nacious, bold, and tyrannical; mopish and inert when not on the 
hunt, but wonderfully alert and swift when in pursuit of insect 
or feathered foe. The short necks of the flycatchers make their 
heads appear large for their bodies, a peculiarity slightly em- 
phasized in this member of the family. 

High up in some evergreen tree, well out on a branch, over 
which the shapeless mass of twigs and moss that serves as a 
nest is saddled, four or five buff-speckled eggs are laid, and by 
some special dispensation rarely fall out of their insecure cradle. 
A sharp, loud whistle, wbeu—o-wbeu-o-wbeu-o, rings out from the 
throat of this olive-sided tyrant, warning all intruders off the 
premises ; but however harshly he may treat the rest of the 
feathered world, he has only gentle devotion to offer his brooding 
mate. 

Least Flycatcher 

(Empidonax minimus) Flycatcher family 
Called also: CHEBEC 

Length — 5 to 5. 5 inches. About an inch smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Male-^-Gvay or olive-gray above, paler on wings and lower part 
of back, and a more distinct olive-green on head. Under- 
neath grayish white, sometimes faintly suffused with pale 
yellow. Wings have whitish bars. White eye-ring. Lower 
half of bill horn-color. 

Female — Is slightly more yellowish underneath. 

Range — Eastern North America, from tropics northward to Quebec 

Migrations — May. September. Common summer resident. 

This, the smallest member of its family, takes the place of 
the more southerly Acadian flycatcher, throughout New England 
and the region of the Great Lakes. But, unlike his Southern rela- 
tive, he prefers orchards and gardens close to our homes for his 
hunting grounds rather than the wet recesses of the forests. 
Cbe-bec, cbe-bec, the diminutive olive-pated gray sprite calls out 

75 




Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

from the orchard between his aerial sallies after the passing insects 
that have been attracted by the decaying fruit, and chebec is the 
name by which many New Englanders know him. 

While giving this characteristic call-note, with drooping, 
jerking tail, trembling wings, and uplifted parti-colored bill, he 
looks unnerved and limp by the effort it has cost him. But in 
the next instant a gnat flies past. How quickly the bird recovers 
itself, and charges full-tilt at his passing dinner! The sharp click 
of his little bill proves that he has not missed his aim ; and after 
careering about in the air another minute or two, looking for 
more game to snap up on the wing, he will return to the same 
perch and take up his familiar refrain. Without hearing this call- 
note one might often mistake the bird for either the wood pewee 
or the phoebe, for all the three are similarly clothed and have 
many traits in common. The slightly larger size of the phoebe 
and pewee is not always apparent when they are seen perching 
on the trees. Unlike the "tuft of hay" to which the Acadian 
flycatcher's nest has been likened, the least flycatcher's home is 
a neat, substantial cup-shaped cradle softly lined with down or 
horsehair, and placed generally in an upright crotch of a tree, well 
above the ground. 

The Chickadee 

(Parus atricapillus) Titmouse family 

Called also: BLACK-CAPPED TITMOUSE; BLACK-CAP TIT 

Length— *y to 5.5 inches. About an inch smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Male and Female — Not crested. Crown and nape and throat 
black. Above gray, slightly tinged with brown. A white 
space, beginning at base of bill, extends backwards, widen- 
ing over cheeks and upper part of breast, forming a sort of 
collar that almost surrounds neck. Underneath dirty white, 
with pale rusty-brown wash on sides. Wings and tail gray, 
with white edgings. Plumage downy. 

Range— Eastern North America. North of the Carolinas to Lab- 
rador. Does not migrate in the North. 

Migrations — Late September. May. Winter resident ; perma- 
nent resident in northern parts of the United States. 

No " fair weather friend " is the jolly little chickadee. In the 
depth of the autumn equinoctial storm it returns to the tops of 

76 



Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

the trees close by the house, where, through the sunshine, snow, 
and tempest of the entire winter, you may hear its cheery, 
irrepressible chickadee-dee- dee-dee or day-day-day as it swings 
around the dangling cones of the evergreens. It fairly over- 
flows with good spirits, and is never more contagiously gay than 
in a snowstorm. So active, so friendly and cheering, what 
would the long northern winters be like without this lovable little 
neighbor ? 

It serves a more utilitarian purpose, however, than bracing 
faint-hearted spirits. " There is no bird that compares with it in 
destroying the female canker-worm moths and their eggs," writes 
a well-known entomologist. He calculates that as a chickadee 
destroys about 5,500 eggs in one day, it will eat 138,750 eggs in 
the twenty-five days it takes the canker-worm moth to crawl up 
the tree§. The moral that it pays to attract chickadees about 
your home by feeding them in winter is obvious. Mrs. Mabel 
Osgood Wright, in her delightful and helpful book "Birdcraft," 
tells us how she makes a sort of a bird-hash of finely minced raw 
meat, waste canary-seed, buckwheat, and cracked oats, which 
she scatters in a sheltered spot for all the winter birds. The 
way this is consumed leaves no doubt of its popularity. A raw 
bone, hung from an evergreen limb, is equally appreciated. 

Friendly as the chickadee is— and Dr. Abbott declares it the 
tamest bird we have — it prefers well-timbered districts, especially 
where there are red-bud trees, when it is time to nest. It is very 
often clever enough to leave the labor of hollowing out a nest in 
the tree-trunk to the woodpecker or nuthatch, whose old homes 
it readily appropriates ; or, when these birds object, a knot-hole 
or a hollow fence-rail answers every purpose. Here, in the sum- 
mer woods, when family cares beset it, a plaintive, minor whistle 
replaces the cbichadee-dee-dee that Thoreau likens to "silver tink- 
ling " as he heard it on a frosty morning. 



it 



Piped a tiny voice near by, 
Gay and polite, a cheerful cry — 
Chick-chickadeedee ! 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. ' " 

—Emerson* 

77 




Dusky* Gray, and Slate-colored 



Tufted Titmouse 

(Parus bicolor) Titmouse family 
Called also : CRESTED TITMOUSE ; CRESTED TOMTIT 

Length— 6 to 6. 5 inches. About the size of the English sparrow. 

Male and Female — Crest high and pointed. Leaden or ash-gray 
above ; darkest on wings and tail. Frontlet, bill, and shoul- 
ders black; space between eyes gray. Sides of head dull 
white. Under parts light gray ; sides yellowish, tinged with 
red. 

Range — United States east of plains, and only rarely seen so far 
north as New England. 

Migrations— October. April. Winter resident, but also found 
throughout the year in many States. - 

■ 

" A noisy titmouse is Jack Frost's trumpeter " may be one 
of those few weather-wise proverbs with a grain of truth in them. 
As the chickadee comes from the woods with the frost, so it may 
be noticed his cousin, the crested titmouse, is in more noisy evi- 
dence throughout the winter. 

One might sometimes think his whistle, like a tugboat's, 
worked by steam. But how effectually nesting cares alone can 
silence it in April ! 

Titmice always see to it you are not lonely as you walk 
through the woods. This lordly tomtit, with his jaunty crest, 
keeps up a persistent whistle at you as he flits from tree to tree, 
leading you deeper into the forest, calling out " Here-bere-bere!" 
and looking like a pert and jaunty little blue jay, minus his gay 
clothes. Mr. Nehrling translates one of the calls " Heedle-dee- 
4le-dee-dle-dee ! " and another ' ' Peto-peto-peto-daytee-daytee ! " 
3ut it is at the former, sharply whistled as the crested titmouse 
gives it, that every dog pricks up his ears. 

Comparatively little has been written about this bird, because 
it is not often found in New England, where most of the bird 
litterateurs have lived. South of New York State, however, it is 
a common resident, and much respected for the good work it 
does in destroying injurious insects, though it is more fond of 
varying its diet with nuts, berries, and seeds than that all-round 
benefactor, the chickadee. 

78 



Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

Canada Jay 

(Perisoreus canadensis) Crow and Jay family 

Called also: WHISKY JACK OR JOHN; MOOSE-BIRD; MEAT- 
BIRD; VENISON HERON; GREASE-BIRD; CANADIAN 
CARRION-BIRD; CAMP ROBBER 

Length— 1 1 to 12 inches. About two inches larger than the robin. 

Male and Female — Upper parts gray; darkest on wings and tail; 
back of the head ana nape of the neck sooty, almost black. 
Forehead, throat, and neck white, and a few white tips on 
wings and tail. Underneath lighter gray. Tail long. Plu- 
mage fluffy. 

Range— Northern parts of the United States and British provinces 
of North America. 

Migrations — Resident where found. 

The Canada jay looks like an exaggerated chickadee, and 
both birds are equally fond of bitter cold weather, but here the 
similarity stops short. Where the chickadee is friendly the jay is 
impudent and bold; hardly less of a villain than his blue relative 
when it comes to marauding other birds' nests and destroying 
their young. With all his vices, however, intemperance cannot 
be attributed to him, in spite of the name given him by the Adi- 
rondack lumbermen and guides. " Whisky John" is a purely 
innocent corruption of "Wis-ka-tjon," as the Indians call this 
bird that haunts their camps and familiarly enters their wigwams. 
The numerous popular names by which the Canada jays are 
known are admirably accounted for by Mr. Hardy in a bulletin 
issued by the Smithsonian Institution. 

"They will enter the tents, and often alight on the bow of a 
canoe, where the paddle at every stroke comes within eighteen 
inches of them. I know nothing which can be eaten that they 
will not take, and I had one steal all my candles, pulling them 
out endwise, one by one, from a piece of birch bark in which 
they were rolled, and another peck a large hole in a keg of cas- 
tile soap. A duck which I had picked and laid down for a few 
minutes, had the entire breast eaten out by one or more of these 
birds. I have seen one alight in the middle of my canoe and 
peck away at the carcass of a beaver I had skinned. They often 
spoil deer saddles by pecking into them near the kidneys. They 

79 




Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

do great damage to the trappers by stealing the bait from traps 
set for martens and minks and by eating trapped game. They 
will sit quietly and see you build a log trap and bait it, and then, 
almost before your back is turned, you hear their hateful ca-ca-cal 
as they glide down and peer into it. They will work steadily, 
carrying off meat and hiding it. I have thrown out pieces, and 
watched one to see how much he would carry off. He flew 
across a wide stream, and in a short time looked as bloody as a 
butcher from carrying large pieces; but his patience held out 
longer than mine. I think one would work as long as Mark 
Twain's California jay did trying to fill a miner's cabin with 
acorns through a knot-hole in the roof. They are fond of the 
berries of the mountain ash, and, in fact, few things come amiss; I 
believe they do not possess a single good quality except industry." 
One virtue not mentioned by Mr. Hardy is their prudent saving 
from the summer surplus to keep the winter storeroom well sup- 
plied like a squirrel's. Such thrift is the more necessary when a 
clamorous, hungry family of young jays must be reared while the 
thermometer is often as low as thirty degrees below zero at the 
end of March. How eggs are ever hatched at all in a tempera- 
ture calculated to freeze any sitting bird stiff, is one of the mys- 
teries of the woods. And yet . four or five fluffy little jays, that 
look as if they were dressed in gray fur, emerge from the eggs 
before the spring sunshine has unbound the icy rivers or melted 
the snowdrifts piled high around the evergreens. 



Catbird 

(GaUoscoptcs carolinensis) Mocking-bird family 

Called also: BLACK-CAPPED THRUSH 

Length — 9 inches. An inch shorter than the robin. 

Male and Female — Dark slate above; below somewhat paler; top 
of head black. Distinct chestnut patch under the tail, whicR 
is black; feet and bill black also. Wings short, more than 
two inches shorter than the tail. 

Range— British provinces to Mexico; west to Rocky Mountains, 
rarely to Pacific coast. Winters in Southern States, Central 
America, and Cuba. 

Migrations — May. November. Common summer resident. 

80 



Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

Our familiar catbird, of all the feathered tribe, presents the 
most contrary characteristics, and is therefore held in varied esti- 
mation — loved, admired, ridiculed, abused. He is the veriest 
"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" of birds. Exquisitely proportioned, 
with finely poised black head and satin-gray coat, which he 
bathes most carefully and prunes and prinks by the hour, he ap- 
pears from his toilet a Beau Brummell, an aristocratic-looking, 
even dandified neighbor. Suddenly, as if shot, he drops head 
and tail and assumes the most hang-dog air, without the least 
sign of self-respect ; then crouches and lengthens into a roll, head 
forward and tail straightened, till he looks like a little, short gray 
snake, lank and limp. Anon, with a jerk and a sprint, every 
muscle tense, tail erect, eyes snapping, he darts into the air intent 
upon some well-planned mischief. It is impossible to describe 
his various attitudes or moods. In song and call he presents the 
same opposite characteristics. How such a bird, exquisite in 
style, can demean himself to utter such harsh, altogether hateful 
catcalls and squawks as have given the bird his common name, 
is a wonder when in the next moment his throat swells and be- 
ginning pbut-pbut-coquillicot , he gives forth a long glorious song, 
only second to that of the wood thrush in melody. He is a jes- 
ter, a caricaturist, a mocking-bird. 

The catbird's nest is like a veritable scrap-basket, loosely 
woven of coarse twigs, bits of newspaper, scraps, and rags, till 
this rough exterior is softly lined and made fit to receive the four 
to six pretty dark green-blue eggs to be laid therein. 

As a fruit thief harsh epithets are showered upon the friendly, 
confiding little creature at our doors; but surely his depredations 
may be pardoned, for he is industrious at all times and unusually 
adroit in catching insects, especially in the moth stage. 

The Mocking-bird 

(OAimus polyglottus) Mocking-bird family 

Length — 9 to 10 inches. About the size of the robin. 

Male and Female — Gray above ; wings and wedge-shaped tail 
brownish; upper wing feathers tipped with white; outer 
tail quills white, conspicuous in flight; chin white; under- 
neath light gray, shading to whitish. 

Range — Peculiar to torrid and temperate zones of two Americas. 

Migrations — No fixed migrations ; usually resident where seen. 

81 




Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

North of Delaware this commonest of Southern birds is all 
too rarely seen outside of cages, yet even in midwinter it is not 
unknown in Central Park, New York. This is the angel that 
it is said the catbird was before he fell from grace. Slim, neat, 
graceful, imitative, amusing, with a rich, tender song that only 
the thrush can hope to rival, and with an instinctive preference 
for the society of man, it is little wonder he is a favorite, caged 
or free. He is a most devoted parent, too, when the four or six 
speckled green eggs have produced as many mouths to be sup- 
plied with insects and berries. 

In the Connecticut Valley, where many mocking-birds' nests 
have been found, year after year, they are all seen near the 
ground, and without exception are loosely, poorly constructed 
affairs of leaves, feathers, grass, and even rags. 

With all his virtues, it must be added, however, that this 
charming bird is a sad tease. There is no sound, whether made 
by bird or beast about him, that he cannot imitate so clearly as 
to deceive every one but himself. Very rarely can you find a 
mocking-bird without intelligence and mischief enough to appre- 
ciate his ventriloquism. In Sidney Lanier's college note-book 
was found written this reflection: "A poet is the mocking-bird 
of the spiritual universe. In him are collected all the individual 
songs of all individual natures." Later in life, with the same 
thought in mind, he referred to the bird as " yon slim Shakespeare 
on the tree." His exquisite stanzas, "To Our Mocking-bird," 
exalt the singer with the immortals : 



" Trillets of humor, — shrewdest whistle- wit — 
Contralto cadences of grave desire, 
Such as from off the passionate Indian pyre 
Drift down through sandal-odored flames that split 
About the slim young widow, who doth sit 
And sing above, — midnights of tone entire, — 
Tissues of moonlight, shot with songs of fire ; — 
Bright drops of tune, from oceans infinite 
Of melody, sipped off the thin-edged wave 
And trickling down the beak, — discourses brave 
Of serious matter that no man may guess, — 
Good-fellow greetings, cries of light distress — 
All these but now within the house we heard : 
O Death, wast thou too deaf to hear the bird ? 



82 



Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 



" Nay, Bird ; my gne! gainsays the Lord's best right. 
The Lord was fain, at some late festal time, 
That Keats should set all heaven's woods in rhyme, 
And Thou in bird-notes. Lo, this tearful night 
Methinks I see thee, fresh from Death's despite, 
Perched in a palm-grove, wild with pantomime 
O'er blissful companies couched in shady thyme. 
Methinks I hear thy silver whistlings bright 
Meet with the mighty discourse of the wise, — 
Till broad Beethoven, deaf no more, and Keats, 
'Midst of much talk, uplift their smiling eyes 
And mark the music of thy wood-conceits, 
And half-way pause on some large courteous word, 
And call thee ' Brother/ O thou heavenly Bird ! " 



Junco 

(Junco byemalis) Finch family 
Called also: SNOWBIRD; SLATE-COLORED SNOWBIRD 

Length — 5.5 to 6.5 inches. About the size of the English sparrow. 

Male— Upper parts slate-colored ; darkest on head and neck, which 
are sometimes almost black and marked like a cowl. Gray 
on breast, like a vest. Underneath white. Several outer tail 
feathers white, conspicuous in flight. 

Female— Lighter gray, inclining to brown. 

Range— North America. Not common in warm latitudes. Breeds 
in the Catskills and northern New England. 

Migrations — September. April. Winter resident. 

"Leaden skies above; snow below," is Mr. Parkhurst's sug- 
gestive description of this rather timid little neighbor, that is only 
starved into familiarity. When the snow has buried seed and 
berries, a flock of juncos, mingling sociably with the sparrows 
and chickadees about the kitchen door, will pick up scraps of 
food with an intimacy quite touching in a bird naturally rather 
shy. Here we can readily distinguish these "little gray-robed 
monks and nuns," as Miss Florence Merriam calls them. 

They are trim, sprightly, sleek, and even natty ; their disposi- 
tions are genial and vivacious, not quarrelsome, like their sparrow 
cousins, and what is perhaps best about them, they are birds we 
may surely depend upon seeing in the winter months. A few 
come forth in September, migrating at night from the deep 

83 




Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

woods of the north, where they have nested and moulted during 
the summer ; but not until frost has sharpened the air are large 
numbers of them seen. Rejoicing in winter, they nevertheless 
do not revel in the deep and fierce arctic blasts, as the snowflakes 
do, but take good care to avoid the open pastures before the hard 
storms overtake them. 

Early in the spring their song is sometimes heard before they 
leave us to woo and to nest in the north. Mr. Bicknell describes 
it as "a crisp call-note, a simple trill, and a faint, whispered 
warble, usually much broken, but not without sweetness." 

White-breasted Nuthatch 

(Sitta carolinensis) Nuthatch family 
Called also; TREE-MOUSE ; DEVIL DOWNHEAD 

Length—^. 5 to 6 inches. A trifle smaller than the English sparrow. 

Male and Female — Upper parts slate-color. Top of head and nape 
black. Wings dark slate, edged with black, that fades to 
brown. Tail feathers brownish black, with white bars. 
Sides of head and underneath white, shading to pale reddish 
under the tail. (Female's head leaden.) Body flat and com- 
pact. Bill longer than head. 

Range — British provinces to Mexico. Eastern United States. 

Migrations— October. April. Common resident. Most promi- 
nent in winter. 

" Shrewd little haunter of woods all gray, 
Whom 1 meet on my walk of a winter day— 
You're busy inspecting each cranny and hole 
In the ragged bark of yon hickory bole ; 
You intent on your task, and I on the law 
Of your wonderful head and gymnastic daw ! 

The woodpecker well may despair of this feat — 
Only the fly with you can compete ! 
So much is clear ; but I fain would know 
How you can so reckless and fearless go, 
Head upward, head downward, all one to you, 
Zenith and nadir the same in your view ? " 

—Edith M. Thomas. 

Could a dozen lines well contain a fuller description or more 
apt characterization of a bird than these " To a Nuthatch " ? 

84 



WHITE -BREASTED NUT HATCH. 



Dusky, Gray, And Slate-colored 

With more artless inquisitiveness than fear, this lively little 
acrobat stops his hammering or hatcheting at your approach, and 
stretching himself out from the tree until it would seem he must 
fall off, he peers down at you, head downward, straight into 
your upturned opera-glasses. If there is too much snow on the 
upper side of a branch, watch how he runs along underneath it 
like a fly, busily tapping the bark, or adroitly breaking the de- 
cayed bits with his bill, as he searches for the spider's eggs, 
larvae, etc., hidden there; yet somehow, between mouthfuls, 
managing to call out his cheery quank I quank I hank ! hank I 

Titmice and nuthatches, which have many similar charac- 
teristics, are often seen in the most friendly hunting parties on 
the same tree. A pine woods is their dearest delight. There, as 
the mercury goes down, their spirits only seem to go up higher. 
In the spring they have been thought by many to migrate in 
flocks, whereas they are only retreating with their relations away 
from the haunts of men to the deep, cool woods, where they 
nest. With infinite patience the nuthatch excavates a hole in a 
tree, lining it with feathers and moss, and often depositing as 
many as ten white eggs (speckled with red and lilac) for a single 
brood. 

Red-breasted Nuthatch 

(Sitta canadensis) Nuthatch family 

Called also: CANADA NUTHATCH 

Length— 4 to 4.75 inches. One-third smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Male— Lead-colored above; brownish on wings and tail. Head, 
neck, and stripe passing through eye to shoulder, black. 
Frontlet, chin, and shoulders white ; also a white stripe over 
eye, meeting on brow. Under parts light, rusty rea. Tail 
feathers barred with white near end, and tipped with pale 
brown. 

Female — Has crown of brownish black, and is lighter beneath 
than male. 

Range — Northern parts of North America. Not often seen south 
of the most northerly States. 

Migrations— November. April. Winter resident. 

The brighter coloring of this tiny, hardy bird distinguishes 
it from the other and larger nuthatch, with whom it is usually 

85 




Dusky, Gray, And Slate-colored 

seen, for the winter birds have a delightfully social manner, so 
that a colony of these Free masons is apt to contain not only both 
kinds of nuthatches and chickadees, but kinglets and brown 
creepers as well. It shares the family habit of walking about the 
trees, head downward, and running along the under side of limbs 
like a fly. By Thanksgiving Day the quank! quank! of the 
white-breasted species is answered by the tai-tai-tait! of the red- 
breasted cousin in the orchard, where the family party is cele- 
brating with an elaborate menu of slugs, insects' eggs, and oily 
seeds from the evergreen trees. 

For many years this nuthatch, a more northern species than 
the white-breasted bird, was thought to be only a spring and 
autumn visitor, but latterly it is credited with habits like its 
congener's in nearly every particular. 

Loggerhead Shrike 

(Lanius ludovicianus) Shrike family 

Length — 8.5 to 9 inches. A little smaller than the robin. 

Male and Female — Upper parts gray ; narrow black line across 
forehead, connecting small black patches on sides of head at 
base of bill. Wings and tail black, plentifully marked with 
white, the outer tail feathers often being entirely white and 
conspicuous in flight. Underneath white or very light gray. 
Bill hooked and hawk-like. 

Range — Eastern United States to the plains. 

Migrations — May. October. Summer resident. 

It is not easy, even at a slight distance, to distinguish the 
loggerhead from the Northern shrike. Both have the pernicious 
habit of killing insects and smaller birds and impaling them on 
thorns ; both have the peculiarity of flying, with strong, vigorous 
flight and much wing-flapping, close along the ground, then 
suddenly rising to a tree, on the lookout for prey. Their harsh, 
unmusical call-notes are similar too, and their hawk-like method 
of dropping suddenly upon a victim on the ground below is iden- 
tical. Indeed, the same description very nearly answers for both 
birds. But there is one very important difference. While the 
Northern shrike is a winter visitor, the loggerhead, being his South- 
ern counterpart, does not arrive until after the frost is out of the 
ground, and he can be sure of a truly warm welcome. A lesser 

86 



Dusky, Gray, And Slate-colored 

distinction between the only two representatives of the shrike 
family that frequent our neighborhood — and they are two too 
many— is in the smaller size of the loggerhead and its \ighter-gray 
plumage. But as both these birds select some high, commanding 
position, like a distended branch near the tree-top, a cupola, 
house-peak, lightning-rod, telegraph wire, or weather-vane, the 
better to detect a passing dinner, it would be quite impossible at 
such a distance to know which shrike was sitting up there 
silently plotting villainies, without remembering the season when 
each may be expected. 



Northern Shrike 

(Lanius borealis) Shrike family 

Called also: BUTCHER-BIRD; NINE-KILLER 

Length — 9.5 to 10.5 inches. About the size of the robin. 

Male — Upper parts slate-gray; wing quills and tail black, edged 
and tipped with white, conspicuous in flight; a white spot 
on centre of outer wing featners. A black band runs from 
bill, through eye to side of throat. Light gray below, tinged 
with brownish, and faintly marked with waving lines of 
darker gray. Bill hooked and hawk-like. 

Female — With eye-band more obscure than male's, and with 
more distinct brownish cast on her plumage. 

Range— Northern North America. South in winter to middle 
portion of United States. 

Migrations — November. April. A roving winter resident. 

" Matching the bravest of the brave among birds of prey in 
deeds of daring, and no less relentless than reckless, the shrike 
compels that sort of deference, not unmixed with indignation, we 
are accustomed to accord to creatures of seeming insignificance 
whose exploits demand much strength, great spirit, and insatiate 
love for carnage. We cannot be indifferent to the marauder who 
takes his own wherever he finds it — a feudal baron who holds 
his own with undisputed sway — and an ogre whose victims are 
so many more than he can eat, that he actually keeps a private 
graveyard for the balance." Who is honestly able to give the 
shrikes a better character than Dr. Coues, just quoted ? A few 
offer them questionable defence by recording the large numbers 

87 




Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

of English sparrows they kill in a season, as if wanton carnage 
were ever justifiable. 

Not even a hawk itself can produce the consternation among 
a flock of sparrows that the harsh, rasping voice of the butcher- 
bird creates, for escape they well know to be difficult before the 
small ogre swoops down upon his victim, and carries it off to 
impale it on a thorn or frozen twig, there to devour it later 
piecemeal. Every shrike thus either impales or else hangs up, as 
a butcher does his meat, more little birds of many kinds, field- 
mice, grasshoppers, and other large insects than it can hope to 
devour in a week of bloody orgies. Field-mice are perhaps its 
favorite diet, but even snakes are not disdained. 

More contemptible than the actual slaughter of its victims, if 
possible, is the method by which the shrike often lures and 
sneaks upon his prey. Hiding in a clump of bushes in the meadow 
or garden, he imitates with fiendish cleverness the call-notes of 
little birds that come in cheerful response, hopping and flitting 
within easy range of him. His bloody work is finished in a 
trice. Usually, however, it must be owned, the shrike's hunt- 
ing habits are the reverse of sneaking. Perched on a point of 
vantage on some tree-top or weather-vane, his hawk-like eye 
can detect a grasshopper going through the grass fifty yards 
away. 

What is our surprise when some fine warm day in March, 
just before our butcher, ogre, sneak, and fiend leaves us for colder 
regions, to hear him break out into song ! Love has warmed 
even his cold heart, and with sweet, warbled notes on the tip of 
a beak that but yesterday was reeking with his victim's blood, 
he starts for Canada, leaving behind him the only good impres- 
sion he has made during a long winter's visit. 

Bohemian Waxwing 

(Ampelis garrulus) Waxwing family 

Called also : BLACK-THROATED WAXWING ; LAPLAND 

WAXWING; SILKTAIL 

Length— •& to 9. 5 inches. A little smaller than the robin. 

Male and Female — General color drab, with faint brownish wash 
above, shading into lighter gray below. Crest conspicuous, 

88 



Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

being nearly an inch and a half in length ; rufous at the base, 
shading into light gray above. Velvety-black forehead, chin, 
and line through the eye. Wings grayish brown, with very 
dark quills, which have two white bars ; the bar at the edge 
of the upper wing coverts being tipped with red sealing-wax- 
like points, that give the bird its name. A few wing feathers 
tipped with yellow on outer edge. Tail quills dark brown, 
with yellow band across the end, and faint red streaks on 
upper and inner sides. 

Range— Northern United States and British America. Most com- 
mon in Canada and northern Mississippi region. 

Migrations — Very irregular winter visitor. 

When Charles Bonaparte, Prince of Canino, who was the first 
to count this common wax wing of Europe and Asia among the birds 
of North America, published an account of it in his "Synopsis," 
it was considered a very rare bird indeed. It may be these wax- 
wings have greatly increased, but however uncommon they may 
still be considered, certainly no one who had ever seen a flock 
containing more than a thousand of them, resting on the trees of 
a lawn within sight of New York City, as the writer has done, 
could be expected to consider the birds "very rare." 

The Bohemian waxwing, like the only other member of the 
family that ever visits us, the cedar-bird, is a roving gipsy. In 
Germany they say seven years must elapse between its visitations, 
which the superstitious old cronies are wont to associate with 
woful stories of pestilence— just such tales as are resurrected from 
the depths of morbid memories here when a comet reappears or 
the seven-year locust ascends from the ground. 

The goings and comings of these birds are certainly most 
erratic and infrequent; nevertheless, when hunger drives them 
from the far north to feast upon the juniper and other winter 
berries of our Northern States, they come in enormous flocks, 
making up in quantity what they lack in regularity of visits and 
evenness of distribution. 

Surely no bird has less right to be associated with evil than 
this mild waxwing. It seems the very incarnation of peace and 
harmony. Part of a flock that has lodged in a tree will sit almost 
motionless for hours and whisper in softly hissed twitterings, 
very much as a company of Quaker ladies, similarly dressed, 
might sit at yearly meeting. Exquisitely clothed in silky-gray 
feathers that no berry juice is ever permitted to stain, they are 

89 




Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

dainty, gentle, aristocratic-looking birds, a trifle heavy and indo- 
lent, perhaps, when walking on the ground or perching; but as 
they fly in compact squads just above the tree-tops their flight is 
exceedingly swift and graceful. 

Bay-breasted Warbler 

(Dendroica castanea) Wood Warbler family 

Length — 5.25 to 5.75 inches. A little smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Male — Crown, chin, throat, upper breast, and sides dull chest- 
nut. Forehead, sides of head, and cheeks black. Above 
olive-gray, streaked with black. Underneath buflfy. Two 
white wing-bars. Outer tail quills with white patches on 
tips. Cream-white patch on either side of neck. 

Female— Has more greenish-olive above. 

Range— Eastern North America, from Hudson's Bay to Central 
America. Nests north of the United States. Winters in 
tropical limit of range. 

Migrations— May. September. Rare migrant. 

The chestnut breast of this capricious little visitor makes him 
look like a diminutive robin. In spring, when these warblers 
are said to take a more easterly route than the one they choose in 
autumn to return by to Central America, they may be so sud- 
denly abundant that the fresh green trees and shrubbery of the 
garden will contain a dozen of the busy little hunters. Another 
season they may pass northward either by another route or leave 
your garden unvisited ; and perhaps the people in the very next 
town may be counting your rare bird common, while it is simply 
perverse. 

Whether common or rare, before your acquaintance has had 
time to ripen into friendship, away go the freaky little creatures 
to nest in the tree-tops of the Canadian coniferous forests. 

Chestnut-sided Warbler 

(Dendroica pennsylvanica) Wood Warbler family 

Called also: BLOODY-SIDED WARBLER 

Length — About 5 inches. Over an inch shorter than the English 
sparrow. 

Male — Top of head and streaks in wings yellow. A black line 

90 



A CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER FAMILY. 



Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

running through the eye and round back of crown, and a 
black spot in front of eye, extending to cheeks. Ear coverts, 
chin, and underneath white. Back greenish gray and slate, 
streaked with black. Sides of bird chestnut Wings, which 
are streaked with black and yellow, have yellowish-white 
bars. Very dark tail with white patches on inner vanes of 
the outer quills. 

Female — Similar, but duller. Chestnut sides are often scarcely 
apparent. 

Range — Eastern North America, from Manitoba and Labrador to 
the tropics, where it winters. 

Migrations — May. September. Summer resident, most common 
in migrations. 

In the Alleghanies, and from New Jersey and Illinois north- 
ward, this restless little warbler nests in the bushy borders of 
woodlands and the undergrowth of the woods, for which he for- 
sakes our gardens and orchards after a very short visit in May. 
While hopping over the ground catching ants, of which he seems 
to be inordinately fond, or flitting actively about the shrubbery 
after grubs and insects, we may note his coat of many colors — 
patchwork in which nearly all the warbler colors are curiously 
combined. With drooped wings that often conceal the bird's 
chestnut sides, which are his chief distinguishing mark, and with 
tail erected like a redstart's, he hunts incessantly. Here in the 
garden he is as refreshingly indifferent to your interest in him as 
later in his breeding haunts he is shy and distrustful. His song is 
bright and animated, like that of the yellow warbler. 



Golden-winged Warbler 

( HdmintbopbUa cbrysoptera) Wood Warbler family 

Length — About 5 inches. More than an inch shorter than the 
English sparrow. 

Male—Yellow crown and yellow patches on the wings. Upper 
parts bluish gray, sometimes tinged with greenish. Stripe 
through the eye and throat black. Sides of head, chin, and 
line over the eye white. Underneath white, grayish on 
sides. A few white markings on outer tail feathers. 

Female— Crown duller; gray where male is black, with olive 
upper parts and grayer underneath. 

QI 



Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

IZange— From Canadian border to Central America, where it 
winters. 

Migrations — May. September. Summer resident 

After one has seen a golden- winged warbler fluttering hither 
and thither about the shrubbery of a park within sight and sound 
of a great city's distractions and with blissful unconcern of them 
all, partaking of a hearty lunch of insects that infest the leaves 
before one's eyes, one counts the bird less rare and shy than one 
has been taught to consider it. Whoever looks for a warbler 
with gaudy yellow wings will not find the golden-winged vari- 
ety. His wings have golden patches only, and while these are 
distinguishing marks, they are scarcely prominent enough feat- 
ures to have given the bird the rather misleading name he bears. 
But, then, most warblers' names are misleading. They serve 
their best purpose in cultivating patience and other gentle virtues 
in the novice. 

Such habits and choice of haunts as characterize the blue- 
winged warbler are also the golden-winged's. But their voices 
are quite different, the former's being sharp and metallic, while 
the latter's %ee 9 %ee, %u comes more lazily and without accent. 

Myrtle Warbler 

(Dendroica coronata) Wood Warbler family 

Called also: YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER; MYRTLE- 
BIRD; YELLOW-CROWNED WARBLER 

Length — 5 to 5. 5 inches. About an inch smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Male — In summer plumage : A yellow patch on top of head, 
lower back, and either side of the breast. Upper parts blu- 
ish slate, streaked with black. Upper breast black ; throat 
white; all other under parts whitish, streaked with black. 
Two white wing-bars, and tail quills have white spots near 
the tip. In winter : Upper parts olive-brown, streaked with 
black ; the yellow spot on lower back the only yellow mark 
remaining. Wing-bars grayish. 

Female— Resembles male in winter plumage. 

Range— Eastern North America. Occasional on Pacific slope. 
Summers from Minnesota and northern New England north- 
ward to Fur Countries. Winters from Middle States south- 

92 



MYRTLE WARBLER. 



Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

ward into Central America; a few often remaining at the 
northern United States all the winter. 

Migrations — April. October. November. Also, but more rarely, 
a winter resident. 

The first of the warblers to arrive in the spring and the last 
to leave us in the autumn, some even remaining throughout the 
northern winter, the myrtle warbler, next to the summer yellow- 
bird, is the most familiar of its multitudinous kin. Though we 
become acquainted with it chiefly in the migrations, it impresses 
us by its numbers rather than by any gorgeousness of attire. The 
four yellow spots on crown, lower back, and sides are its distin- 
guishing marks; and in the autumn these marks have dwindled 
to only one, that on the lower back or rump. The great diffi- 
culty experienced in identifying any warbler is in its restless habit 
of flitting about. 

For a few days in early May we are forcibly reminded of the 
Florida peninsula, which fairly teems with these birds ; they 
become almost superabundant, a distraction during the precious 
days when the rarer species are quietly slipping by, not to return 
again for a year, perhaps longer, for some warblers are notoriously 
irregular in their routes north and south, and never return by the 
way they travelled in the spring. 

But if we look sharply into every group of myrtle warblers, 
we are quite likely to discover some of their dainty, fragile cous- 
ins that gladly seek the escort of birds so fearless as they. By 
the last of May all the warblers are gone from the neighborhood 
except the constant little summer yellowbird and redstart. 

In autumn, when the myrtle warblers return after a busy 
enough summer passed in Canadian nurseries, they chiefly haunt 
those regions where juniper and bay-berries abound. These latter 
(Myrica cerifera), or the myrtle wax-berries, as they are some- 
times called, and which are the bird's favorite food, have given it 
their name. Wherever the supply of these berries is sufficient to 
last through the winter, there it may be found foraging in the 
scrubby bushes. Sometimes driven by cold and hunger from 
the fields, this hardiest member of a family that properly belongs 
to the tropics, seeks shelter and food close to the outbuildings 
on the farm. 



93 




Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

Parula Warbler 

(Compsotblypis americana) Wood Warbler family 
Called also: BLUE YELLOW-BACKED WARBLER 

Length — 4.5 to 4.75 inches. About an inch and a half shorter 
than tne English sparrow. 

Male and Female — Slate-colored above, with a greenish-yellow or 
bronze patch in the middle of the back. Chin, throat, and 
breast yellow. A black, bluish, or rufous band across the 
breast, usually lacking in female. Underneath white, some- 
times marked with rufous on sides, but these markings are 
variable. Wings have two white patches; outer tail feathers 
have white patch near the end. 

Range — Eastern North America. Winters from Florida southward. 

Migrations — April. October. Summer resident. 

Through an open window of an apartment in the very heart 
of New York City, a parula warbler flew this spring of 1897, 
surely the daintiest, most exquisitely beautiful bird visitor that 
ever voluntarily lodged between two brick walls. 

A number of such airy, tiny beauties flitting about among the 
blossoms of the shrubbery on a bright May morning and swaying 
on the slenderest branches with their inimitable grace, is a sight 
that the memory should retain into old age. They seem the very 
embodiment of life, joy, beauty, grace; of everything lovely that 
birds by any possibility could be. Apparently they are wafted 
about the garden; they fly with no more effort than a dainty 
lifting of the wings, as if to catch the breeze, that seems to lift 
them as it might a bunch of thistledown. They go through a 
great variety of charming posturings as they hunt for their food 
upon the blossoms and tender fresh twigs, now creeping like a 
nuthatch along the bark and peering into the crevices, now grace- 
fully swaying and balancing like a goldfinch upon a slender, 
pendent stem. One little sprite pauses in its hunt for the insects 
to raise its pretty head and trill a short and wiry song. 

But the parula warbler does not remain long about the gar- 
dens and orchards, though it will not forsake us altogether for 
the Canadian forests, where most of its relatives pass the summer. 
It retreats only to the woods near the water, if may be, or to just 
as close a counterpart of a swampy southern woods, where the 

94 



Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

Spanish or Usnea " moss" drapes itself over the cypresses, as it 
can find here at the north. Its rarely beautiful nest, that hangs 
suspended from a slender branch very much like the Baltimore 
oriole's, is so woven and festooned with this moss that its con- 
cealment is perfect 



Black-throated Blue Warbler 

(Dendroica ccerulescens) Wood Warbler family 

Length — 5.30 inches. About an inch shorter than the English 

sparrow. 

Male — Slate-color, not blue above ; lightest on forehead and 
darkest on lower back. Wings and tail edged with bluish. 
Cheeks, chin, throat, upper breast, and sides black. Breast 
and underneath white. White spots on wings, and a little 
white on tail. 

Female — Olive-green above ; underneath soiled yellow. Wing- 
spots inconspicuous. Tail generally has a faint bluish tinge. 

Range — Eastern North America, from Labrador to tropics, where 
it winters. 

Migrations— May. September. Usually a migrant only in the 
United States. 

Whoever looks for this beautifully marked warbler among 
the bluebirds, will wish that the man who named him had pos- 
sessed a truer eye for color. But if the name so illy fits the 
bright slate-colored male, how grieved must be his little olive- 
and-yellow mate to answer to the name of black-throated blue 
warbler when she has neither a black throat nor a blue feather! 
It is not easy to distinguish her as she flits about the twigs and 
leaves of the garden in May or early autumn, except as she is 
seen in company with her husband, whose name she has taken 
with him for better or for worse. The white spot on the wings 
should always be looked for to positively identify this bird. 

Before flying up to a twig to peck off the insects, the birds 
have a pretty vireo trick of cocking their heads on one side to in- 
vestigate the quantity hidden underneath the leaves. They seem 
less nervous and more deliberate than many of their restless family. 

Most warblers go over the Canada border to nest, but there 
are many records of the nests of this species in the Alleghanies 
as far south as Georgia, in the Catskills, in Connecticut, northern 

95 




Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored 

Minnesota and Michigan. Laurel thickets and moist undergrowth 
of woods in the United States, and more commonly pine woods 
in Canada, are the favorite nesting haunts. A sharp Vp.fip, 
like some midsummer insect's noise, is the bird's call-note, but its 
love-song, %ee, fee, fee, or twee, twea, twea-e-e, as one authority 
writes it, is only rarely heard in the migrations. It is a languid, 
drawling little strain, with an upward slide that is easily drowned 
in the full bird chorus of Mav. 



96 



BLUE AND BLUISH BIRDS 

Bluebird 
Indigo Bunting 
Belted Kingfisher 
Blue Jay 
Blue Grosbeak 
Barn Swallow 
Cliff Swallow 
Mourning Dove 
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 



Look also among Slate-colored Birds in preceding group, particularly among the 
Warblers there, or in the group of Birds conspicuously Yellow and Orange. 




BLUE AND BLUISH BIRDS 

The Bluebird 

(Sialia sialisj Thrush family 

Called also: BLUE ROBIN 

Length— 9 ] inches. About an inch longer than the English sparrow. 

Male — Upper parts, wings, and tail bright blue, with rusty wash 
in autumn. Throat, breast, and sides cinnamon-red. Under- 
neath white. 

Female— Has duller blue feathers, washed with gray, and a paler 
breast than male. 

Range — North America, from Nova Scotia and Manitoba to Gulf 
of Mexico. Southward in winter from Middle States to Ber- 
muda and West Indies. 

Migrations — March. November. Summer resident. A few some- 
times remain throughout the winter. 

With the first soft, plaintive warble of the bluebirds early in 
March, the sugar camps, waiting for their signal, take on a bust- 
ling activity ; the farmer looks to his plough ; orders are hurried 
off to the seedsmen ; a fever to be out of doors seizes one : spring 
is here. Snowstorms may yet whiten fields and gardens, high 
winds may howl about the trees and chimneys, but the little blue 
heralds persistently proclaim from the orchard and garden that 
the spring procession has begun to move. Tru-al-ly, tru-al-ly, 
they sweetly assert to our incredulous ears. 

The bluebird is not always a migrant, except in the more 
northern portions of the country. Some representatives there are 
always with us, but the great majority winter south and drop out 
of the spring procession on its way northward, the males a little 
ahead of their mates, which show housewifely instincts imme- 
diately after their arrival. A pair of these rather undemonstrative, 
matter-of-fact lovers go about looking for some deserted wood- 
pecker's hole in the orchard, peering into cavities in the feno*- 

99 




Blue and Bluish 

rails, or into the bird-houses that, once set up in the old-fashioned 
gardens for their special benefit, are now appropriated too often 
by the ubiquitous sparrow. Wrens they can readily dispossess of 
an attractive tenement, and do. With a temper as heavenly as 
the color of their feathers, the bluebird's sense of justice is not 
always so adorable. But sparrows unnerve them into cowardice. 
The comparatively infrequent nesting of the bluebirds about our 
homes at the present time is one of the most deplorable results 
of unrestricted sparrow immigration. Formerly they were the 
commonest of bird neighbors. 

Nest-building is not a favorite occupation with the bluebirds, 
that are conspicuously domestic none the less. Two, and even 
three, broods in a season fully occupy their time. As in most 
cases, the mother-bird does more than her share of the work. 
The male looks with wondering admiration at the housewifely 
activity, applauds her with song, feeds her as she sits brooding 
over the nestful of pale greenish-blue eggs, but his adoration of 
her virtues does not lead him into emulation. 

" Shifting his light load of song, 
From post to post along the cheerless fence," 

Lowell observed that he carried his duties quite as lightly. 

When the young birds first emerge from the shell they are 
almost black ; they come into their splendid heritage of color by 
degrees, lest their young heads might be turned. It is only as 
they spread their tiny wings for their first flight from the nest 
that we can see a few blue feathers. 

With the first cool days of autumn the bluebirds collect in 
flocks, often associating with orioles and kingbirds in sheltered, 
sunny places where insects are still plentiful. Their steady, undu- 
lating flight now becomes erratic as they take food on the wing— * 
a habit that they may have learned by association with the king- 
birds, for they have also adopted the habit of perching upon some 
conspicuous lookout and then suddenly launching out into the 
air for a passing fly and returning to their perch. Long after their 
associates have gone southward, they linger like the last leaves on 
the tree. It is indeed "good-bye to summer" when the blue- 
birds withdraw their touch of brightness from the dreary Novem- 
ber landscape. 

The bluebirds from Canada and the northern portions of New 

IOO 



Blue and Bluish 

England and New York migrate into Virginia and the Carolinas; 
the birds from the Middle States move down into the Gulf States 
to pass the winter. It was there that countless numbers were 
cut off by the severe winter of 1894-95, which was so severe in 
that section. 

Indigo Bunting 

(Passerina cyanea) Finch family 

Called also: INDIGO BIRD 

Length — 5. 5 to 6 inches. Smaller than the English sparrow, or 
the size of a canary. 

Male— In certain lights rich blue, deepest on head. In another 
light the blue feathers show verdigris tints. Wings, tail, and 
lower back with brownish wash, most prominent in autumn 
plumage. Quills of wings and tail deep blue, margined with 
light. 

Female — Plain sienna-brown above. Yellowish on breast and 
shading to white underneath, and indistinctly streaked. 
Wings and tail darkest, sometimes with slight tinge of blue 
in outer webs and on shoulders. 

Range — North America, from Hudson Bay to Panama. Most 
common in eastern part of United States. Winters in 
Central America and Mexico. 

migrations — May. September. Summer resident. 

The "glowing indigo" of this tropical-looking visitor that 
so delighted Thoreau in the Walden woods, often seems only the 
more intense by comparison with the blue sky, against which it 
stands out in relief as the bird perches singing in a tree-top. 
What has this gaily dressed, dapper little cavalier in common 
with his dingy sparrow cousins that haunt the ground and de- 
light in dust-baths, leaving their feathers no whit more dingy 
than they were before, and in temper, as in plumage, suggesting 
more of earth than of heaven ? Apparently he has nothing, and 
yet the small brown bird in the roadside thicket, which you have 
misnamed a sparrow, not noticing the glint of blue in her shoul- 
ders and tail, is his mate. Besides the structural resemblances, 
which are, of course, the only ones considered by ornithologists 
in classifying birds, the indigo buntings have several sparrow- 
like traits. They feed upon the ground, mainly upon seeds of 
grasses and herbs, with a few insects interspersed to give relish 

IOI 




Blue and Bluish 

to the grain ; they build grassy nests in low bushes or tall, rank 
grass ; and their flight is short and labored. Borders of woods, 
roadside thickets, and even garden shrubbery, with open pasture 
lots for foraging grounds near by, are favorite haunts of these 
birds, that return again and again to some preferred spot But 
however close to our homes they build theirs, our presence never 
ceases to be regarded by them with anything but suspicion, not 
to say alarm. Their metallic cheep, cheep, warns you to keep 
away from the little blue-white eggs, hidden away securely in 
the bushes ; and the nervous tail twitchings and jerkings are 
pathetic to see. Happily for the safety of their nest, the brood- 
ing mother has no tell-tale feathers to attract the eye. Dense 
foliage no more conceals the male bird's brilliant coat than it can 
the tanager's or oriole's. 

With no attempt at concealment, which he doubtless under- 
stands would be quite impossible, he chooses some high, con- 
spicuous perch to which he mounts by easy stages, singing as he 
goes ; and there begins a loud and rapid strain that promises 
much, but growing weaker and weaker, ends as if the bird were 
either out of breath or too weak to finish. Then suddenly he 
begins the same song over again, and keeps up this continuous 
performance for nearly half an hour. The noonday heat of an 
August day that silences nearly every other voice, seems to give 
to the indigo bird's only fresh animation and timbre. 



The Belted Kingfisher 

(Ceryle alcyon) Kingfisher family 

Called also; THE HALCYON 

Length — 12 to 13 inches. About one-fourth as large again as the 
robin. 

Male— Upper part grayish blue, with prominent crest on head 
reaching to the nape. A white spot in front of the eye. Bill 
longer than the head, which is large and heavy. Wings and 
the short tail minutely speckled and marked with broken 
bands of white. Chin, band around throat, and underneath 
white. Two bluish bands across the breast and a bluish 
wash on sides. 

Female — Female and immature specimens have rufous bands 
where the adult male's are blue. Plumage of both birds oily, 

102 



f 



Blue and Bluish 

Range — North America, except where the Texan kingfisher 
replaces it in a limited area in the Southwest. Common from 
Labrador to Florida, east and west. Winters chiefly from 
Virginia southward to South America. 

Migrations— March. December. Common summer resident. 
Usually a winter resident also. 

If the kingfisher is not so neighborly as we could wish, or as 
he used to be, it is not because he has grown less friendly, but 
because the streams near our homes are fished out. Fish he 
must and will have, and to get them nowadays it is too often 
necessary to follow the stream back through secluded woods to 
the quiet waters of its source : a clear, cool pond or lake whose 
scaly inmates have not yet learned wisdom at the point of the 
sportsman's fly. 

In such quiet haunts the kingfisher is easily the most con- 
spicuous object in sight, where he perches on some dead or pro- 
jecting branch over the water, intently watching for a dinner that 
is all unsuspectingly swimming below. Suddenly the bird drops 
— dives ; there is a splash, a struggle, and then the "lone fisher- 
man " returns triumphant to his perch, holding a shining fish in his 
beak. If the fish is small it is swallowed at once, but if it is large 
and bony it must first be killed against the branch. A few sharp 
knocks, and the struggles of the fish are over, but the kingfisher's 
have only begun. How he gags and writhes, swallows his 
dinner, and then, regretting his haste, brings it up again to try 
another wider avenue down his throat ! The many abortive 
efforts he makes to land his dinner safely below in his stomach, 
his grim contortions as the fishbones scratch his throat-lining on 
their way down and up again, force a smile in spite of the bird's 
evident distress. It is small wonder he supplements his fish diet 
with various kinds of the larger insects, shrimps, and fresh- water 
mollusks. 

Flying well over the tree-tops or along the waterways, the 
kingfisher makes the woodland echo with his noisy rattle, that 
breaks the stillness like a watchman's at midnight. It is, per- 
haps, the most familiar sound heard along the banks of the inland 
rivers. No love or cradle song does he know. Instead of soften- 
ing and growing sweet, as the voices of most birds do in the 
nesting season, the endearments uttered by a pair of mated king- 
fishers are the most strident, rattly shrieks ever heard by lovers. 

103 




Blue and Bluish 

It sounds as if they were perpetually quarrelling, and yet they are 
really particularly devoted. 

The nest of these birds, like the bank swallow's, is excavated 
in the face of a high bank, preferably one that rises from a stream ; 
and at about six feet from the entrance of the tunnel six or eight 
clear, shining white eggs are placed on a curious nest. All the fish- 
bones and scales that, being indigestible, are disgorged in pellets 
by the parents, are carefully carried to the end of the tunnel to form 
a prickly cradle for the unhappy fledglings. Very rarely a nest is 
made in the hollow trunk of a tree ; but wherever the home is, 
the kingfishers become strongly attached to it, returning again 
and again to the spot that has cost them so much labor to exca- 
vate. Some observers have accused them of appropriating the 
holes of the water-rats. 

In ancient times of myths and fables, kingfishers or halcyons 
were said to build a floating nest on the sea, and to possess some 
mysterious power that calmed the troubled waves while the eggs 
were hatching and the young birds were being reared, hence the 
term "halcyon days," meaning days of fair weather. 



Blue Jay 

(Cyanocitta cristata) Crow and Jay family 

Length — 1 1 to 12 inches. A little larger than the robin. 

Male and Female — Blue above. Black band around the neck, join- 
ing some black feathers on the back. Under parts dusky 
wnite. Wing coverts and tail bright blue, striped trans- 
versely with black. Tail much rounded. Many feathers 
edged and tipped with white. Head finely crested ; bill, 
tongue, and legs black. 

ifaagr— Eastern coast of North America to the plains, and from 
northern Canada to Florida and eastern Texas. 

Migrations — Permanent resident. Although seen in flocks mov- 
ing southward or northward, they are merely seeking hap- 
pier hunting grounds, not migrating. 

No bird of finer color or presence sojourns with us the year 
round than the blue jay. In a peculiar sense his is a case of 
"beauty covering a multitude of sins." Among close students 
of bird traits, we find none so poor as to do him reverence. Dis- 
honest, cruel, inquisitive, murderous, voracious, villainous, are 

104 



I 



Blue and Bluish 

some of the epithets applied to this bird of exquisite plumage. 
Emerson, however, has said in his defence he does "more good 
than harm," alluding, no doubt, to his habit of burying nuts and 
hard seeds in the ground, so that many a waste place is clothed 
with trees and shrubs, thanks to his propensity and industry. 

He is mischievous as a small boy, destructive as a monkey, 
deft at hiding as a squirrel. He is unsociable and unamiable, 
disliking the society of other birds. His harsh screams, shrieks, 
and most aggressive and unmusical calls seem often intended 
maliciously to drown the songs of the sweet-voiced singers. 

From April to September, the breeding and moulting season, 
the blue jays are almost silent, only sallying forth from the woods 
to pillage and devour the young and eggs of their more peaceful 
neighbors. In a bulky nest, usually placed in a tree-crotch high 
above our heads, from four to six eggs, olive-gray with brown 
spots, are laid and most carefully tended. 

Notwithstanding the unlovely characteristics of the blue jay, 
we could ill spare the flash of color, like a bit of blue sky dropped 
from above, which is so rare a tint even in our land, that we 
number not more than three or four true blue birds, and in Eng- 
land, it is said, there is none. 

Blue Grosbeak 

(Guiraca ccerulea) Finch family 

Length — 7 inches. About an inch larger than the English sparrow. 

Male— Deep blue, dark, and almost black on the back ; wings and 
tail black, slightly edged with blue, and the former marked 
with bright chestnut. Cheeks and chin black. Bill heavy 
and bluish. 

Female — Grayish brown above, sometimes with bluish tinge on 
head, lower back, and shoulders. Wings dark olive-brown, 
with faint buff markings ; tail same shade as wings, but with 
bluish-gray markings. Underneath brownish cream-color, 
the breast feathers often blue at the base. 

Range — United States, from southern New England westward to 
the Rocky Mountains and southward into Mexico and be- 
yond. Most common in the Southwest. Rare along the 
Atlantic seaboard. 

Migrations — May. September. Summer resident. 

This beautiful but rather shy and solitary bird occasionally 

105 



Blue and Bluish 

wanders eastward to rival the bluebird and the indigo bunting 
in their rare and lovely coloring, and eclipse them both in song. 
Audubon, we remember, found the nest in New Jersey. Penn- 
sylvania is still favored with one now and then, but it is in the 
Southwest only that the blue grosbeak is as common as the 
evening grosbeak is in the Northwest. Since rice is its favorite 
food, it naturally abounds where that cereal grows. Seeds and 
kernels of the hardest kinds, that its heavy, strong beak is well 
adapted to crack, constitute its diet when it strays beyond the 
rice-fields. 

Possibly the heavy bills of all the grosbeaks make them look 
stupid whether they are or not — a characteristic that the blue gros- 
beak's habit of sitting motionless with a vacant stare many min- 
utes at a time unfortunately emphasizes. 

When seen in the roadside thickets or tall weeds, such as the 
field sparrow chooses to frequent, it shows little fear of man un- 
less actually approached and threatened, but whether this fearless- 
ness comes from actual confidence or stupidity is by no means 
certain. Whatever the motive of its inactivity, it accomplishes an 
end to be desired by the cleverest bird ; its presence is almost 
never suspected by the passer-by, and its grassy nest on a tree- 
branch, containing three or four pale bluish- white eggs, is never 
betrayed by look or sign to the marauding small boy. 

Barn Swallow 

(Cbelidon erytbrogaster) Swallow family 

Length — 6. 5 to 7 inches. A trifle larger than the English sparrow. 
Apparently considerably larger, because of its wide wing- 
spread. 

Male — Glistening steel-blue shading to black above. Chin, breast, 
and underneath bright chestnut-brown and brilliant buff that 
glistens in the sunlight. A partial collar of steel-blue. Tail 
very deeply forked and slender. 

Female — Smaller and paler, with shorter outer tail feathers, mak- 
ing the fork less prominent. 

Range — Throughout North America. Winters in tropics of both 
Americas. 

Migrations — April. September. Summer resident. 

Any one who attempts to describe the coloring of a bird's 
plumage knows how inadequate words are to convey a just idea 

106 



Blue and Bluish 

of the delicacy, richness, and brilliancy of the living tints. But, 
happily, the beautiful barn swallow is .too familiar to need descrip- 
tion. Wheeling about our barns and houses, skimming over the 
fields, its bright sides flashing in the sunlight, playing "cross 
tag " with its friends at evening, when the insects, too, are on 
the wing, gyrating, darting, and gliding through the air, it is no 
more possible to adequately describe the exquisite grace of a 
swallow's flight than the glistening buff of its breast. 

This is a typical bird of the air, as an oriole is of the trees 
and a sparrow of the ground. Though the swallow may often 
be seen perching on a telegraph wire, suddenly it darts off as if 
it had received a shock of electricity, and we see the bird in its 
true element. 

While this swallow is peculiarly American, it is often con- 
founded with its European cousin Hirundo rustica in noted 
ornithologies. 

Up in the rafters of the barn, or in the arch of an old bridge 
that spans a stream, these swallows build their bracket-like nests 
of clay or mud pellets intermixed with straw. Here the noisy 
little broods pick their way out of the white eggs curiously spotted 
with brown and lilac that were all too familiar in the marauding 
days of our childhood. 

Cliff Swallow 

(Petrocbelidon lunifrons) Swallow family 

Called also; EAVE SWALLOW; CRESCENT SWALLOW; 

ROCKY MOUNTAIN SWALLOW 

Length— 6 inches. A trifle smaller than the English sparrow. 
Apparently considerably larger because of its wide wing- 
spread. 

Male and Female— Steel-blue above, shading to blue-black on crown 
of head and on wings and tail. A brownish-gray ring 
around the neck. Beneath dusty white, with rufous tint. 
Crescent-like frontlet. Chin, throat, sides of head, and tail 
coverts rufous. 

Range— North and South America. Winters in the tropics. 

Migrations— Early April. Late September. Summer resident. 

Not quite so brilliantly colored as the barn swallow, nor 
with tail so deeply forked, and consequently without so much 

107 




Blue and Bluish 

grace in flying, and with a squeak rather than the really musi- 
cal twitter of the gayer bird, the cliff swallow may be posi- 
tively identified by the rufous feathers of its tail coverts, but more 
definitely by its crescent-shaped frontlet shining like a new moon ; 
hence its specific Latin name from luna— moon, and frons = front. 

Such great numbers of these swallows have been seen in the 
far West that the name of Rocky Mountain swallows is some- 
times given to them ; though however rare they may have been 
in 1824, when DeWitt Clinton thought he " discovered " them 
near Lake Cham plain, they are now common enough in all parts 
of the United States. 

In the West this swallow is wholly a cliff-dweller, but it has 
learned to modify its home in different localities. As usually 
seen, it is gourd-shaped, opened at the top, built entirely of mud 
pellets ("bricks without straw V), softly lined with feathers and 
wisps of grass, and attached by the larger part to a projecting 
cliff or eave. 

Like all the swallows, this bird lives in colonies, and the clay- 
colored nests beneath the eaves of barns are often so close to- 
gether that a group of them resembles nothing so much as a 
gigantic wasp's nest. It is said that when swallows pair they 
are mated for life ; but, then, more is said about swallows than 
the most tireless bird-lover could substantiate. The tradition 
that swallows fly low when it is going to rain may be easily 
credited, because the air before a storm is usually too heavy with 
moisture for the winged insects, upon which the swallows feed, 
to fly high. 

Mourning Dove 

(Zenaidura macroura) Pigeon family 

Called also : CAROLINA DOVE ; TURTLE DOVE 

Length — 12 to 13 inches. About one-half as large again as the 
robin. 

Male — Grayish brown or fawn-color above, varying to bluish 
gray. Crown and upper part of head greenish blue, with 

freen and golden metallic reflections on sides of neck. A 
lack spot under each ear. Forehead and breast reddish 
buff; lighter underneath. (General impression of color, bluish 
fawn.) Bill black, with tumid, fleshy covering; feet red; 
two middle tail feathers longest; all others banded with black 

108 




Blue and Bluish 

and tipped with ashy white. Wing coverts sparsely spotted 
with black. Flanks and underneath the wings bluish. 

Female— Duller and without iridescent reflections on neck. 

Range — North America, from Quebec to Panama, and westward 
to Arizona. Most common in temperate climate, east of 
Rocky Mountains. 

Migrations — March. November. Common summer resident ; 
not migratory south of Virginia. 

The beautiful, soft-colored plumage of this incessant and 
rather melancholy love-maker is not on public exhibition. To see 
it we must trace the a-coo-o, coo-o, coo-oo, coo-o to its source in 
the thick foliage in some tree in an out-of-the-way corner of the 
farm, or to an evergreen near the edge of the woods. The slow, 
plaintive notes, more like a dirge than a love-song, penetrate to 
a surprising distance. They may not always be the same lovers 
we hear from April to the end of summer, but surely the sound 
seems to indicate that they are. The dove is a shy bird, attached 
to its gentle and refined mate with a devotion that has passed 
into a proverb, but caring little or nothing for the society of other 
feathered friends, and very little for its own kind, unless after the 
nesting season has passed. In this respect it differs widely from 
its cousins, the wild pigeons, flocks of which, numbering many 
millions, are recorded by Wilson and other early writers before 
the days when netting these birds became so fatally profitable. 

What the dove finds to adore so ardently in the "shiftless 
housewife," as Mrs. Wright calls his lady-love, must pass the 
comprehension of the phoebe, that constructs such an exquisite 
home, or of a bustling, energetic Jenny wren, that "looketh well 
to the ways of her household and eateth not the bread of idle- 
ness." She is a flabby, spineless bundle of flesh and pretty 
feathers, gentle and refined in manners, but slack and incompe- 
tent in all she does. Her nest consists of a few loose sticks, 
without rim or lining; and when her two babies emerge from 
the white eggs, that somehow do not fall through or roll out of 
the rickety lattice, their tender little naked bodies must suffer 
from many bruises. We are almost inclined to blame the incon- 
siderate mother for allowing her offspring to enter the world 
unclothed—obviously not her fault, though she is capable of just 
such negligence. Fortunate are the baby doves when their lazy 
mother scatters her makeshift nest on top of one that a robin has 

109 




Blue and Bluish 

deserted, as she frequently does. It is almost excusable to take 
her young birds and rear them in captivity, where they invariably 
thrive, mate, and live happily, unless death comes to one, when 
the other often refuses food and grieves its life away. 

In the wild state, when the nesting season approaches, both 
birds make curious acrobatic flights above the tree-tops; then, 
after a short sail in midair, they return to their perch. This 
appears to be their only giddiness and frivolity, unless a dust- 
bath in the country road might be considered a dissipation. 

In the autumn a few pairs of doves show slight gregarious 
tendencies, feeding amiably together in the grain fields and retir- 
ing to the same roost at sundown. 

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 

(Polioptila cczrulea) Gnatcatcher family 

Called also , SYLVAN FLYCATCHER 

Length — 4. 5 inches. About two inches smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Male — Grayish blue above, dull grayish white below. Grayish 
tips on wings. Tail with white outer quills changing gradu- 
ally through black and white to all black on centre quills. 
Narrow black band over the forehead and eyes. Resembles 
in manner and form a miniature catbird. 

Female — More grayish and less blue, and without the black on 
head. 

Range — United States to Canadian border on the north, the Rockies 
on the west, and the Atlantic States, from Maine to Florida ; 
most common in the Middle States. A rare bird north of 
New Jersey. Winters in Mexico and beyond. 

Migrations — May. September. Summer resident. 

In thick woodlands, where a stream that lazily creeps through 
the mossy, oozy ground attracts myriads of insects to its humid 
neighborhood, this tiny hunter loves to hide in the denser foliage 
of the upper branches. He has the habit of nervously flitting 
about from twig to twig of his relatives, the kinglets, but unhap- 
pily he lacks their social, friendly instincts, and therefore is rarely 
seen. Formerly classed among the warblers, then among the fly- 
catchers, while still as much a lover of flies, gnats, and mosquitoes 
as ever, his vocal powers have now won for him recognition 

no 



Blue and Bluish 

among the singing birds. Some one has likened his voice to the 
squeak of a mouse, and Nuttall says it is "scarcely louder," which 
is all too true, for at a little distance it is quite inaudible. But in 
addition to the mouse-like call-note, the tiny bird has a rather 
feeble but exquisitely finished song, so faint it seems almost as if 
the bird were singing in its sleep. 

If by accident you enter the neighborhood of its nest, you 
soon find out that this timid, soft-voiced little creature can be 
roused to rashness and make its presence disagreeable to ears and 
eyes alike as it angrily darts about your unoffending head, peck- 
ing at your face and uttering its shrill squeak close to your very 
ear-drums. All this excitement is in defence of a dainty, lichen- 
covered nest, whose presence you may not have even suspected 
before, and of four or five bluish-white, speckled eggs well be- 
yond reach in the tree-tops. 

During the migrations the bird seems not unwilling to show 
its delicate, trim little body, that has often been likened to a di- 
minutive mocking-bird's, very near the homes of men. Its grace- 
ful postures, its song and constant motion, are sure to attract 
attention. In Central Park, New York City, the bird is not 
unknown. 



in 




BROWN, OLIVE OR GRAYISH BROWN, AND 
BROWN AND GRAY SPARROWY BIRDS 



House Wren 
Carolina Wren 
Winter Wren 
Long-billed Marsh Wren 
Short-billed Marsh Wren 
Brown Thrasher 
Wilson's Thrush or Veery 
Wood Thrush 
Hermit Thrush 
Alice's Thrush 

• 

Olive-backed Thrush 

Louisiana Water Thrush 

Northern Water Thrush 

Flicker 

Meadowlark and Western 

Meadowlark 
Horned Lark and Prairie 

Horned Lark 
Pipit or Titlark 
Whippoorwill 
Nighthawk 
Black-billed Cuckoo 



Yellow-billed Cuckoo 
Bank Swallow and Rough* 

winged Swallow 
Cedar Bird 
Brown Creeper 
Pine Siskin 

Smith's Painted Longspur 
Lapland Longspur 
Chipping Sparrow 
English Sparrow 
Field Sparrow 
Fox Sparrow 
Grasshopper Sparrow 
Savanna Sparrow 
Seaside Sparrow 
Sharp-tailed Sparrow 
Song Sparrow 
Swamp Song Sparrow 
Tree Sparrow 
Vesper Sparrow 
White-crowned Sparrow 
White-throated Sparrow 



See also winter plumage of the Bobolink, Goldfinch, and Myrtle Warbler. See 
females of Red- winged Blackbird, Rusty Blackbird, the Crackles, Bobolink, Cow- 
bird, the Redpolls, Purple Finch, Chewink, Bluebird, Indigo Bunting, Baltimore 
Oriole, Cardinal, and of the Evening, the Blue, and the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. 
See also Purple Finch, the Redpolls, Mourning Dove, Mocking-bird, Robin. 




BROWN, OLIVE OR GRAYISH BROWN, AND 
BROWN AND GRAY SPARROWY BIRDS 

House Wren 

(Troglodytes at don) Wren family 

Length — 4.5 to 5 inches. Actually about one-fourth smaller than 
the English sparrow ; apparently only half as large because 
of its erect tail. 

Male and Female — Upper parts cinnamon-brown. Deepest shade 
on head and neck ; lightest above tail, which is more rufous. 
Back has obscure, dusky bars ; wings and tail are finely 
barred. Underneath whitish, with grayish-brown wash and 
faint bands most prominent on sides. 

Range — North America, from Manitoba to the Gulf. Most com- 
mon in the United States, from the Mississippi eastward. 
Winters south of the Carolinas. 

Migrations — April. October. Common summer resident 

Early some morning in April there will go off under your 
window that most delightful of all alarm-clocks— the tiny, friendly 
house wren, just returned from a long visit south. Like some 
little mountain spring that, having been imprisoned by winter 
ice, now bubbles up in the spring sunshine, and goes rippling 
along over the pebbles, tumbling over itself in merry cascades, 
so this little wren's song bubbles, ripples, cascades in a minia- 
ture torrent of ecstasy. 

Year after year these birds return to the same nesting places: 
a box set up against the house, a crevice in the barn, a niche 
under the eaves; but once home, always home to them. The 
nest is kept scrupulously clean ; the house-cleaning, like the 
house-building and renovating, being accompanied by the cheer- 
iest of songs, that makes the bird fairly tremble by its intensity. 
But however angelic the voice of the house wren, its temper can 
put to flight even the English sparrow. Need description go 
further ? 

"5 




Brown, Olirt or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

Six to eight minutely speckled, flesh-colored eggs suffice to 
keep the nervous, irritable parents in a state bordering on frenzy 
whenever another bird comes near their habitation. With tail 
erect and head alert, the father mounts on guard, singing a per- 
fect ecstasy of love to his silent little mate, that sits upon the nest 
if no danger threatens ; but both rush with passionate malice 
upon the first intruder, for it must be admitted that Jenny wren 
is a sad shrew. 

While the little family is being reared, or, indeed, at any 
time, no one is wise enough to estimate the millions of tiny in- 
sects from the garden that find their way into the tireless bills of 
these wrens. 

It is often said that the house wren remains at the north all 
the year, which, though not a fact, is easily accounted for by the 
coming of the winter wrens just as the others migrate in the 
autumn, and by their return to Canada when Jenny wren makes 
up her feather-bed under the eaves in the spring. 

Carolina Wren 

(Tbryotborus ludovicianus) Wren family 

Called also; MOCKING WREN 

Length— 6 inches. Just a trifle smaller than the English sparrow, 

Male and Female— Chestnut-brown above. A whitish streak, be- 
ginning at base of bill, passes through the eye to the nape of 
the neck. Throat whitish. Under parts light buff-brown. 
Wings and tail finely barred with dark. 

Range— United States, from Gulf to northern Illinois and southern 
New England. 

Migrations— K common resident except at northern boundary of 
range, where it is a summer visitor. 

This largest of the wrens appears to be the embodiment of 
the entire family characteristics: it is exceedingly active, nervous, 
and easily excited, quick-tempered, full of curiosity, peeping into 
every hole and corner it passes, short of flight as it is of wing, 
inseparable from its mate till parted by death, and a gushing 
lyrical songster that only death itself can silence. It also has the 
wren-like preference for a nest that is roofed over, but not too 
near the homes of men. 

116 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

Undergrowths near water, brush heaps, rocky bits of wood- 
land, are favorite resorts. The Carolina wren decidedly objects 
to being stared at, and likes to dart out of sight in the midst of 
the underbrush in a twinkling while the opera-glasses are being 
focussed. 

To let off some of his superfluous vivacity, Nature has pro- 
vided him with two safety-valves : one is his voice, another is 
his tail. With the latter he gesticulates in a manner so expres- 
sive that it seems to be a certain index to what is passing in his 
busy little brain— drooping it, after the habit of the catbird, when 
he becomes limp with the emotion of his love-song, or holding 
it erect as, alert and inquisitive, he peers at the impudent intruder 
in the thicket below his perch. 

But it is his joyous, melodious, bubbling song that is his 
chief fascination. He has so great a variety of strains that many 
people have thought that he learned them from other birds, and 
so have called him what many ornithologists declare that he is 
not — a mocking wren. And he is one of the few birds that sing 
at night— not in his sleep or only by moonlight, but even in the 
total darkness, just before dawn, he gives us the same wide- 
awake song that entrances us by day. 



Winter Wren 

(Troglodytes bietnalis) Wren family 

Length— 4 to 4. 5 inches. About one-third smaller than the Eng- 
lish sparrow. Apparently only half the size. 

Male and Female— Cinnamon-brown above, with numerous short, 
dusky bars. Head and neck without markings. Under- 
neath rusty, dimly and finely barred with dark brown. Tail 
short. 

Range — United States, east and west, and from North Carolina to 
the Fur Countries. 

Migrations— October. April. Summer resident. Commonly a 
winter resident in the South and Middle States only. 

It all too rarely happens that we see this tiny mouse-like 
wren in summer, unless we come upon him suddenly and over- 
take him unawares as he creeps shyly over the mossy logs or 
runs literally 'Mike a flash" under the fern and through the tan- 

117 




Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

gled underbrush of the deep, cool woods. His presence there is 
far more likely to be detected by the ear than the eye. 

Throughout the nesting season music fairly pours from his 
tiny throat; it bubbles up like champagne; it gushes forth in a 
lyrical torrent and overflows into every nook of the forest, that 
seems entirely pervaded by his song. While music is every- 
where, it apparently comes from no particular point, and, search 
as you may, the tiny singer still eludes, exasperates, and yet 
entrances. 

If by accident you discover him balancing on a swaying 
twig, never far from the ground, with his comical little tail erect, 
or more likely pointing towards his head, what a pert, saucy 
minstrel he is 1 You are lost in amazement that so much music 
could come from a throat so tiny. 

Comparatively few of his admirers, however, hear the exqui- 
site notes of this little brown wood-sprite, for after the nest- 
ing season is over he finds little to call them forth during the 
bleak, snowy winter months, when in the Middle and Southern 
States he may properly be called a neighbor. Sharp hunger, 
rather than natural boldness, drives him near the homes of men, 
where he appears just as the house wren departs for the South. 
With a forced confidence in man that is almost pathetic in a bird 
that loves the forest as he does, he picks up whatever lies about 
the house or barn in the shape of food — crumbs from the kitchen 
door, a morsel from the dog's plate, a little seed in the barn-yard, 
happily rewarded if he can find a spider lurking in some sheltered 
place to give a flavor to the unrelished grain. Now he becomes 
almost tame, but we feel it is only because he must be. 

The spot that decided preference leads him to, either win- 
ter or summer, is beside a bubbling spring. In the moss 
that grows near it the nest is placed in early summer, nearly 
always roofed over and entered from the side, in true wren-fash- 
ion; and as the young fledglings emerge from the creamy- white 
eggs, almost the first lesson they receive from their devoted little 
parents is in the fine art of bathing. Even in winter weather, 
when the wren has to stand on a rim of ice, he will duck and 
splash his diminutive body. It is recorded of a certain little 
individual that he was wont to dive through the icy water on a 
December day. Evidently the wrens, as a family, are not far 
removed in the evolutionary scale from true water-birds. 

118 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

Long-billed Marsh Wren 

(Cistotborus palustris) Wren family 

Length — 4.5 to 5.2 inches. Actually a little smaller than the Eng- 
lish sparrow. Apparently half the size. 

Male and Female — Brown above, with white line over the eye, 
and the back irregularly and faintly streaked with white. 
Wings and tail barred with darker cinnamon-brown. Un- 
derneath white. Sides dusky. Tail long and often carried 
erect. Bill extra long and slender. 

Range— United States and southern British America. 

Migrations— May. September. Summer resident. 

Sometimes when you are gathering cat-tails in the river 
marshes an alert, nervous little brown bird rises startled from the 
rushes and tries to elude you as with short, jerky flight it goes 
deeper and deeper into the marsh, where even the rubber boot 
may not follow. It closely resembles two other birds found in 
such a place, the swamp sparrow and the short-billed marsh 
wren ; but you may know by its long, slender bill that it is not 
the latter, and by the absence of a bright bay crown that it is 
not the shyest of the sparrows. 

These marsh wrens appear to be especially partial to running 
water; their homes are not very far from brooks and rivers, 
preferably those that are affected in their rise and flow by the 
tides. They build in colonies, and might be called inveterate 
singers, for no single bird is often permitted to finish his bubbling 
song without half the colony joining in a chorus. 

Still another characteristic of this particularly interesting bird 
is its unique architectural effects produced with coarse grasses 
woven into globular form and suspended in the reeds. Some- 
times adapting its nest to the building material at hand, it weaves 
it of grasses and twigs, and suspends it from the limb of a bush 
or tree overhanging the water, where it swings like an oriole's. 
The entrance to the nest is invariably on the side. 

More devoted homebodies than these little wrens are not 
among the feathered tribe. Once let the hand of man desecrate 
their nest, even before the tiny speckled eggs are deposited in it, 
and off go the birds, to a more inaccessible place, where they can 
enjoy their home unmolested. Thus three or four nests may be 
made in a summer. 

119 




Brown, Olivt or Grayish Brows, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

Short-billed Marsh Wren 

(Cistotborus stellaris) Wren family 

Length — 4 to 5 inches. Actually about one-third smaller than the 
English sparrow, but apparently only half its size. 

Male and Female— Brown above, faintly streaked with white, 
black, and buff. Wings and tail barred with same. Under- 
neath white, with buff and rusty tinges on throat and breast 
Short bill. 

Range— North America, from Manitoba southward in winter to 
Gulf of Mexico. Most common in north temperate latitudes. 
Migrations — Early May. Late September. 

Where red-winged blackbirds like to congregate in oozy 
pastures or near boggy woods, the little short-billed wren may 
more often be heard than seen, for he is more shy, if possible, 
than his long-billed cousin, and will dive down into the sedges 
at your approach, very much as a duck disappears under water. 
But if you see him at all, it is usually while swaying to and fro as 
he clings to some tall stalk of grass, keeping his balance by the 
nervous, jerky tail motions characteristic of all the wrens, and 
singing with all his might. Oftentimes his tail reaches backward 
almost to his head in a most exaggerated wren-fashion. 

Samuels explains the peculiar habit both the long-billed and 
the short-billed marsh wrens have of building several nests in 
one season, by the theory that they are made to protect the sit- 
ting female, for it is noticed that the male bird always lures a 
visitor to an empty nest, and if this does not satisfy his curiosity, 
to another one, to prove conclusively that he has no family in 
prospect. 

Wild rice is an ideal nesting place for a colony of these little 
marsh wrens. The home is made of sedge grasses, softly lined 
with the softer meadow grass or plant-down, and placed in a 
tussock of tall grass, or even upon the ground. The entrance is 
on the side. But while fond of moist places, both for a home 
and feeding ground, it will be noticed that these wrens have no 
special fondness for running water, so dear to their long-billed 
relatives. Another distinction is that the eggs of this species, 
instead of being so densely speckled as to look brown, are pure 
white. 

120 



Brown, Olire or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

Brown Thrasher 

( Harporbyncbus rufusj Thrasher and Mocking-bird family 

Called also: BROWN THRUSH; GROUND THRUSH ; RED 
THRUSH ; BROWN MOCKING-BIRD ; FRENCH MOCK- 
ING-BIRD; MAVIS 

Length— \ i to 1 1.5 inches. Fully an inch longer than the robin. 

Male — Rusty red-brown or rufous above ; darkest on wings, which 
have two short whitish bands. Underneath white, heavily 
streaked (except on throat) with dark-brown, arrow-shaped 
spots. Tail very long. Yellow eyes. Bill long and curved 
at tip. 

Female— Paler than male. 

Range — United States to Rockies. Nests from Gulf States to 
Manitoba and Montreal. Winters south of Virginia. 

Migrations — Late April. October. Common summer resident. 

" There's a merry brown thrush sitting up in a tree; 
He is singing to me ! He is singing to me ! 
And what does he say, little girl, litUe boy ? 
1 Oh, the world's running over with joy ! ' " 

The hackneyed poem beginning with this stanza that de- 
lighted our nursery days, has left in our minds a fairly correct 
impression of the bird. He still proves to be one of the peren- 
nially joyous singers, like a true cousin of the wrens, and when 
we study him afield, he appears to give his whole attention to 
his song with a self-consciousness that is rather amusing than 
the reverse. "What musician wouldn't be conscious of his own 
powers," he seems to challenge us, "if he possessed such a gift?" 
Seated on a conspicuous perch, as if inviting attention to his per- 
formance, with uplifted head and drooping tail he repeats the 
one exultant, dashing air to which his repertoire is limited, with- 
out waiting for an encore. Much practice has given the notes a 
brilliancy of execution to be compared only with the mocking- 
bird's ; but in spite of the name "ferruginous mocking-bird" 
that Audubon gave him, he does not seem to have the faculty of 
imitating other birds 1 songs. Thoreau says the Massachusetts 
farmers, when planting their seed, always think they hear the 
thrasher say, " Drop it, drop it— cover it up, cover it up— pull it 
up, pull it up, pull it up." 

121 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

One of the shatterings of childish impressions that age too 
often brings is when we learn by the books that our "merry 
brown thrush " is no thrush at all, but a thrasher— first cousin to 
the wrens, in spite of his speckled breast, large size, and certain 
thrush-like instincts, such as never singing near the nest and 
shunning mankind in the nesting season, to mention only two. 
Certainly his bold, swinging flight and habit of hopping and run- 
ning over the ground would seem to indicate that he is not very 
far removed from the true thrushes. But he has one undeniable 
wren-like trait, that of twitching, wagging, and thrashing his 
long tail about to help express his emotions. It swings like a 
pendulum as he rests on a branch, and thrashes about in a most 
ludicrous way as he is feeding on the ground upon the worms, 
insects, and fruit that constitute his diet. 

Before the fatal multiplication of cats, and in unfrequented, 
sandy locations still, the thrasher builds her nest upon the ground, 
thus earning the name "ground thrush" that is often given her ; 
but with dearly paid-for wisdom she now most frequently selects 
a low shrub or tree to cradle the two broods that all too early 
in the summer effectually silence the father's delightful song. 

Wilson's Thrush 

(Turdusf usee seen s) Thrush family 

Called also: VEERY; TAWNY THRUSH 

Length— 7 to 7.5 inches. About one-fourth smaller than the 
robin. 

Male and Female — Uniform olive-brown, with a tawny cast above. 
Centre of the throat white, with cream-buff on sides of 
throat and upper part of breast, which is lightly spotted with 
wedge-shaped, brown points. Underneath white, or with 
a faint grayish tinge. 

Range — United States, westward to plains. 

Migrations — May. October. Summer resident. 

To many of us the veery, as they call the Wilson's thrush in 
New England, is merely a voice, a sylvan mystery, reflecting the 
sweetness and wildness of the forest, a vocal "will-o'-the-wisp" 
that, after enticing us deeper and deeper into the woods, where 
we sink into the spongy moss of its damp retreats and become 

122 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

entangled in the wild grape-vines twined about the saplings 
and underbrush, still sings to us from unapproachable tangles. 
Plainly, if we want to see the bird, we must let it seek us out on 
the fallen log where we have sunk exhausted in the chase. 

Presently a brown bird scuds through the fern. It is a 
thrush, you guess in a minute, from its slender, graceful body. 
At first you notice no speckles on its breast, but as it comes 
nearer, obscure arrow-heads are visible — not heavy, heart-shaped 
spots such as plentifully speckle the larger wood thrush or the 
smaller hermit. It is the smallest of the three commoner thrushes, 
and it lacks the ring about the eye that both the others have. 
Shy and elusive, it slips away again in a most unfriendly fashion, 
and is lost in the wet tangle before you have become acquainted. 
You determine, however, before you leave the log, to cultivate 
the acquaintance of this bird the next spring, when, before it 
mates and retreats to the forest, it comes boldly into the gardens 
and scratches about in the dry leaves on the ground for the lurk- 
ing insects beneath. Miss Florence Merriam tells of having drawn 
a number of veeries about her by imitating their call-note, which 
is a whistled wbeew, wboit, very easy to counterfeit when once 
heard. " Taweel-ab, t awe el -ah, twil-ab, twil-ab!" Professor 
Ridgeway interprets their song, that descends in a succession of 
trills without break or pause ; but no words can possibly con- 
vey an idea of the quality of the music. The veery, that never 
claims an audience, sings at night also, and its weird, sweet 
strains floating through the woods at dusk, thrill one like the 
mysterious voice of a disembodied spirit. 

Whittier mentions the veery in " The Playmate" : 

" And here in spring the veeries sing 
The song of long ago. 1 ' 

Wood Thrush 

(Turdus mustelinus) Thrush family 

Called also: SONG THRUSH; WOOD ROBIN; BELLBIRD 

Lengths to 8.3 inches. About two inches shorter than the 
robin. 

Male and Female — Brown above, reddish on head and shoulders, 
and shading into olive-brown on tail. Throat, breast, and 
underneath white, plain in the middle, but heavily marked 

123 




Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

on sides and breast with heart-shaped spots of very dark 
brown. Whitish eye-ring. 

Migrations — Late April or early May. October. Summer resident 

When Nuttall wrote of "this solitary and retiring songster," 
before the country was as thickly settled as it is to-day, it possi- 
bly had not developed the confidence in men that now distin- 
guishes the wood thrush from its shy congeners that are distinctly 
wood birds, which it can no longer strictly be said to be. In city 
parks and country places, where plenty of trees shade the village 
streets and lawns, it comes near you, half hopping, half running, 
with dignified unconsciousness and even familiarity, all the more 
delightful in a bird whose family instincts should take it into 
secluded woodlands with their shady dells. Perhaps, in its heart 
of hearts, it still prefers such retreats. Many conservative wood 
thrushes keep to their wild haunts, and it must be owned not a 
few liberals, that discard family traditions at other times, seek the 
forest at nesting time. But social as the wood thrush is and 
abundant, too, it is also eminently high-bred ; and when contrasted 
with its tawny cousin, the veery, that skulks away to hide in the 
nearest bushes as you approach, or with the hermit thrush, that 
pours out its heavenly song in the solitude of the forest, how 
gracious and full of gentle confidence it seems! Every gesture is 
graceful and elegant; even a wriggling beetle is eaten as daintily 
as caviare at the king's table. It is only when its confidence in 
you is abused, and you pass too near the nest, that might easily 
be mistaken for a robin's, just above your head in a sapling, that 
the wood thrush so far forgets itself as to become excited. Pit, 
pit, pit, sharply reiterated, is called out at you with a strident 
quality in the tone that is painful evidence of the fearful anxiety 
your presence gives this gentle bird. 

Too many guardians of nests, whether out of excessive hap- 
piness or excessive stupidity, have a dangerous habit of singing 
very near them. Not so the wood thrush. " Come to me," as 
the opening notes of its flute-like song have been freely trans- 
lated, invites the intruder far away from where the blue eggs lie 
cradled in ambush. " Uoli-a-e-o4i-noli-nol-aeolee4ee I " is as 
good a rendering into syllables of the luscious song as could very 
well be made. Pure, liquid, rich, and luscious, it rings out from 
the trees on the summer air and penetrates our home like a strain 
of music from a stringed quartette. 

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THE WOOD THRUSH HEARS THE CLICK OF THE CAMERA. 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

Hermit Thrush 
(Turdus aortal ascbfoz pall a$ii) Thrush family 

Called also: SWAMP ANGEL; LITTLE THRUSH 

Length — 7.25 to 7.5 inches. About one-fourth smaller than the 
robin. 

Male and Female — Upper parts olive-brown, reddening near the 
tail, which is pale rufous, quite distinct from the color of the 
back. Throat, sides of neck, and breast pale buff. Feathers 
of throat and neck finished with dark arrow-points at tip; 
feathers of the breast have larger rounded spots. Sides 
brownish gray. Underneath white. A yellow ring around 
the eye. Smallest of the thrushes. 

Range — Eastern parts of North America. Most common in the 
United States to the plains. Winters from southern Illinois 
and New Jersey to Gulf. 

Migrations — April. November. Summer resident. 

The first thrush to come and the last to go, nevertheless the 
hermit is little seen throughout its long visit north. It may 
loiter awhile in the shrubby roadsides, in the garden or the parks 
in the spring before it begins the serious business of life in 
a nest of moss, coarse grass, and pine-needles placed on the 
ground in the depths of the forest, but by the middle of May its 
presence in the neighborhood of our homes becomes only a mem- 
ory. Although one never hears it at its best during the migra- 
tions, how one loves to recall the serene, ethereal evening hymn ! 
"The finest sound in Nature," John Burroughs calls it. "It is 
not a proud, gorgeous strain like the tanager's or the grosbeak's," 
he says; "it suggests no passion or emotion — nothing personal, 
but seems to be the voice of that calm, sweet solemnity one 
attains to in his best moments. It realizes a peace and a deep, 
solemn joy that only the finest souls may know." 

Beyond the question of even the hypercritical, the hermit 
thrush has a more exquisitely beautiful voice than any other 
American bird, and only the nightingale's of Europe can be com- 
pared with it. It is the one theme that exhausts all the ornithol- 
ogists' musical adjectives in a vain attempt to convey in words 
any idea of it to one who has never heard it, for the quality of 
the song is as elusive as the bird itself. But why should the 
poets be so silent ? Why has it not called forth such verse as the 

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i 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

English poets have lavished upon the nightingale ? Undoubtedly 
because it lifts up its heavenly voice in the solitude of the forest, 
whereas the nightingales, singing in loud choruses in the moon- 
light under the poet's very window, cannot but impress his 
waking thoughts and even his dreams with their melody. 

Since the severe storm and cold in the Gulf States a few win- 
ters ago, where vast numbers of hermit thrushes died from cold 
and starvation, this bird has been very rare in haunts where it 
used to be abundant. The other thrushes escaped because they 
spend the winter farther south. 

Alice's Thrush 

(Turdus alicict) Thrush family 
Called also: GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH 

Length — 7. 5 to 8 inches. About the size of the bluebird. 

Male and Female — Upper parts uniform olive-brown. Eye-ring 
whitish. Cheeks gray ; sides dull grayish white. Sides of 
the throat and breast pale cream-buff, speckled with arrow- 
shaped points on throat and with half-round dark-brown 
marks below. 

Range— North America, from Labrador and Alaska to Central 
America. 

Migrations — Late April or May. October. Chiefly seen in migra- 
tions, except at northern parts of its range. 

One looks for a prettier bird than this least attractive of all 
tht thrushes in one that bears such a suggestive name. Like the 
olive-backed thrush, from which it is almost impossible to tell it 
when both are alive and hopping about the shrubbery, its plu- 
mage above is a dull olive-brown that is more protective than 
pleasing. 

Just as Wilson hopelessly confused the olive-backed thrush 
with the hermit, so has Alice's thrush been confounded by later 
writers with the olive-backed, from which it differs chiefly in 
being a trifle larger, in having gray cheeks instead of buff, and in 
possessing a few faint streaks on the throat. Where it goes to 
make a home for its greenish-blue speckled eggs in some low 
bush at the northern end of its range, it bursts into song, but 
except in the nesting grounds its voice is never heard. Mr. 

126 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

Bradford Torrey, who heard it singing in the White Mountains, 
describes the song as like the thrush's in quality, but differently 
accented : " Wee-o-wee-o-tit-ti-wee-o ! " 

In New England and New York this thrush is most often 
seen during its autumn migrations. As it starts up and perches 
upon a low branch before you, it appears to have longer legs and 
a broader, squarer tail than its congeners. 



Olive-backed Thrush 

(Turdus ustulatus swainsonii) Thrush family 

Called also: SWAINSON'S THRUSH 

Length — 7 to 7.50 inches. About one-fourth smaller than the 
robin. 

Male and Female — Upper parts olive-brown. Whole throat and 
breast yellow-buff, shading to ashy on sides and to white 
underneath. Buff ring around eye. Dark streaks on sides 
of throat (none on centre), and larger, more spot-like marks 
on breast. 

Range — North America to Rockies ; a few stragglers on Pacific 
slope. Northward to arctic countries. 

Migrations — April. October. Summer resident in Canada. 
Chiefly a migrant in United States. 

Mr. Parkhurst tells of finding this "the commonest bird in 
the Park (Central Park, New York), not even excepting the robin," 
during the last week of May on a certain year ; but usually, it 
must be owned, we have to be on the lookout to find it, or it 
will pass unnoticed in the great companies of more conspicuous 
birds travelling at the same time. White-throated sparrows 
often keep it company on the long journeys northward, and they 
may frequently be seen together, hopping sociably about the 
garden, the thrush calling out a rather harsh note— puk I puk / — 
quite different from the liquid, mellow calls of the other thrushes, 
to resent either the sparrows' bad manners or the inquisitiveness 
of a human disturber of its peace. But this gregarious habit and 
neighborly visit end even before acquaintance fairly begins, and 
the thrushes are off for their nesting grounds in the pine woods 
of New England or Labrador if they are travelling up the east 
coast, or to Alaska, British Columbia, or Manitoba if west of the 

127 




Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

Mississippi. There they stay all summer, often travelling south- 
ward with the sparrows in the autumn, as in the spring. 

Why they should prefer coniferous trees, unless to utilize the 
needles for a nest, is not understood. Low trees and bushes are 
favorite building sites with them as with others of the family, 
though these thrushes disdain a mud lining to their nests. Those 
who have heard the olive-backed thrush singing an even-song 
to its brooding mate compare it with the veery's, but it has a 
break in it and is less simple and pleasing than the latter's. 

Louisiana Water Thrush 

(Seiurus motacilla) Wood Warbler family 

Length— 6 to 6.28 inches. Just a trifle smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Male and Female — Grayish olive-brown upper parts, with con- 
spicuous white line over the eye and reaching almost to the 
nape. Underneath white, tinged with pale buff. Throat 
and line through the middle, plain. Other parts streaked 
with very dark brown, rather faintly on the breast, giving 
them the speckled breast of the thrushes. Heavy, dark bill. 

Range— United States, westward to the plains ; northward to 
southern New England. Winters in the tropics. 

Migrations — Late April. October. Summer resident. 

This bird, that so delighted Audubon with its high-trilled 
song as he tramped with indefatigable zeal through the hammocks 
of the Gulf States, seems to be almost the counterpart of the 
Northern water thrush, just as the loggerhead is the Southern 
counterpart of the Northern shrike. Very many Eastern birds 
have their duplicates in Western species, as we all know, and it is 
most interesting to trace the slight external variations that differ- 
ent climates and diet have produced on the same bird, and thus 
differentiated the species. In winter the Northern water thrush 
visits the cradle of its kind, the swamps of Louisiana and Florida, 
and, no doubt, by daily contact with its congeners there, keeps 
close to their cherished traditions, from which it never deviates 
farther than Nature compels, though it penetrate to the arctic 
regions during its summer journeys. 

With a more southerly range, the Louisiana water thrush 
does not venture beyond the White Mountains and to the shores 
of the Great Lakes in summer, but even at the North the same 

128 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

woods often contain both birds, and there is opportunity to note 
just how much they differ. The Southern bird is slightly the 
larger, possibly an inch ; it is more gray, and it lacks a few of the 
streaks, notably on the throat, that plentifully speckle its Northern 
counterpart; but the habits of both of these birds appear to be 
identical. Only for a few days in the spring or autumn migra- 
tions do they pass near enough to our homes for us to study 
them, and then we must ever be on the alert to steal a glance at 
them through the opera-glasses, for birds more shy than they 
do not visit the garden shrubbery at any season. Only let them 
suspect they are being stared at, and they are under cover in a 
twinkling. 

Where mountain streams dash through tracts of mossy, 
spongy ground that is carpeted with fern and moss, and over- 
grown with impenetrable thickets of underbrush and tangles of 
creepers— such a place is the favorite resort of both the water 
thrushes. With a rubber boot missing, clothes torn, and temper 
by no means unruffled, you finally stand over the Louisiana 
thrush's nest in the roots of an upturned tree immediately over 
the water, or else in a mossy root-belaced bank above a purling 
stream. A liquid-trilled warble, wild and sweet, breaks the still- 
ness, and, like Audubon, you feel amply rewarded for your pains, 
though you may not be prepared to agree with him in thinking 
the song the equal of the European nightingale's. 

Northern Water Thrush 

(Seiurus noveboracensis) Wood Warbler family 

Called also : NEW YORK WATER THRUSH ; AQUATIC 
WOOD WAGTAIL; AQLJATIC THRUSH 

Length — 5 to 6 inches. A trifle smaller than the English sparrow. 

Male and Female — Uniform olive or grayish brown above. Pale 
buflf line over the eye. Underneath, white tinged with sul- 
phur-yellow, and streaked like a thrush with very dark brown 
arrow-headed or oblong spots that are also seen underneath 
wings. 

Range — United States, westward to Rockies and northward 
through British provinces. Winters from Gulf States south- 
ward. 

Migrations— Late April. October. Summer resident 

129 




Brown, OHtc or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

According to the books we have before us, a warbler; but 
who, to look at his speckled throat and breast, would ever take 
him for anything but a diminutive thrush ; or, studying him from 
some distance through the opera-glasses as he runs in and out of 
the little waves along the brook or river shore, would not name 
him a baby sandpiper ? The rather unsteady motion of his legs, 
balancing of the tail, and sudden jerking of the head suggest an 
aquatic bird rather than a bird of the woods. But to really know 
either man or beast, you must follow him to his home, and if you 
have pluck enough to brave the swamp and the almost impene- 
trable tangle of undergrowth where the water thrush chooses to 
nest, there " In the swamp in secluded recesses, a shy and hidden 
bird is warbling a song; " and this warbled song that Walt Whit- 
man so adored gives you your first clue to the proper classification 
of the bird. It has nothing in common with the serene, hymn-like 
voices of the true thrushes ; the bird has no flute-like notes, but 
an emphatic smacking or chucking kind of warble. For a few 
days only is this song heard about the gardens and roadsides of 
our country places. Like the Louisiana water thrush, this bird 
never ventures near the homes of men after the spring and autumn 
migrations, but, on the contrary, goes as far away from them as 
possible, preferably to some mountain region, beside a cool and 
dashing brook, where a party of adventurous young climbers 
from a summer hotel or the lonely trout fisherman may startle it 
from its mossy nest on the ground. 

Flicker 

(Colaptes auratus) Woodpecker family 

Called also: GOLDE14-W1NGED WOODPECKER; CLAPE ; 
PIGEON WOODPECKER; YELLOWHAMMER ; HIGH- 
HOLE OR HIGH-HOLDER ; YARUP ; WAKE-UP ; 
YELLOW-SHAFTED WOODPECKER 

Length — \2 to 13 inches. About one-fourth as large again as the 
robin. 

Male and Female — Head and neck bluish gray, with a red crescent 
across back of neck and a black crescent on breast. Male 
has black cheek-patches, that are wanting in female. Golden 
brown shading into brownish-gray, and barred with black 
above. Underneath whitish, tinged with light chocolate 

130 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

and thickly spotted with black. Wing linings, shafts of 
wing, and tail-quills bright yellow. Above tail white, con- 
spicuous when the bird flies. 

Range — United States, east of Rockies ; Alaska and British Amer- 
ica, south of Hudson Bay. Occasional on Pacific slope. 

Migrations — Most commonly seen from April to October. Usu- 
ally resident. 

If we were to follow the list of thirty-six aliases by which 
this largest and commonest of our woodpeckers is known 
throughout its wide range, we should find all its peculiarities of 
color, flight, noises, and habits indicated in its popular names. 
It cannot but attract attention wherever seen, with its beauti- 
ful plumage, conspicuously yellow if its outstretched wings are 
looked at from below, conspicuously brown and white if seen 
upon the ground. At a distance it suggests the meadowlark. 
Both birds wear black, crescent breast decorations, and the flicker 
also has the habit of feeding upon the ground, especially in 
autumn, a characteristic not shared by its relations. 

Early in the spring this bird of many names and many voices 
makes itself known by a long, strong, sonorous call, a sort of 
proclamation that differs from its song proper, which Audubon 
calls "a prolonged jovial laugh" (described by Mrs. Wright as 
"Wick, wick, wick, wick!"), and differs also from its rapidly 
repeated, mellow, and most musical cub, cub, cub, cub, cub, 
uttered during the nesting season. 

Its nasal kee-yer, vigorously called out in the autumn, is less 
characteristic, however, than the sound it makes while associat- 
ing with its fellows on the feeding ground — a sound that Mr. 
Frank M. Chapman says can be closely imitated by the swishing 
of a willow wand. 

A very ardent and ridiculous-looking lover is this bird, as, 
with tail stiffly spread, he sidles up to his desired mate and bows 
and bobs before her, then retreats and advances, bowing and 
bobbing again, very often with a rival lover beside him (whom 
he generously tolerates) trying to outdo him in grace and general 
attractiveness. Not the least of the bird's qualities that must 
commend themselves to the bride is his unfailing good nature, 
genial alike in the home and in the field. 

The " high-holders" have the peculiar and silly habit of bor- 
ing out a number of superfluous holes for nests high up in the 

131 




Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

trees, in buildings, or hollow wooden columns, only one of 
which they intend to use. Six white eggs is the proper. number 
for a household, but Dr. Coues says the female that has been 
robbed keeps on laying three or even four sets of eggs without 
interruption. 

Meadowlark 

(Sturnella magna) Blackbird family 

Called also: FIELD LARK; OLDFIELD LARK 

Length— \o to 1 1 inches. A trifle larger than the robin. 

Male— Upperparts brown, varied with chestnut, deep brown, and 
black. Crown streaked with brown and black, and with a 
cream-colored streak through the centre. Dark-brown line 
apparently running through the eye ; another line over the 
eye, yellow. Throat and chin yellow ; a large, conspicuous 
black crescent on breast. Underneath yellow, shading into 
buffy brown, spotted or streaked with very dark brown. 
Outer tail feathers chiefly white, conspicuous in flight. Long, 
strong legs and claws, adapted for walking. Less black in 
winter plumage, which is more grayish brown. 

Female — Paler than male. 

Range— North America, from Newfoundland to the Gulf of Mexico, 
and westward to the plains, where the Western meadowlark 
takes its place. Winters from Massachusetts and Illinois 
southward. 

Migrations — April. Late October. Usually a resident, a few re- 
maining through the winter. 

In the same meadows with the red-winged blackbirds, birds 
of another feather, but of the same family, nevertheless, may be 
found flocking together, hunting for worms and larvae, building 
their nests, and rearing their young very near each other with 
the truly social instinct of all their kin. 

The meadowlarks, which are really not larks at all, but the 
blackbirds' and orioles' cousins, are so protected by the coloring 
of the feathers on their backs, like that of the grass and stub- 
ble they live among, that ten blackbirds are noticed for every 
meadowlark, although the latter is very common. Not until you 
flush a flock of them as you walk along the roadside or through 
the meadows and you note the white tail feathers and the black 
crescents on the yellow breasts of the large brown birds that rise 

132 



1* 
s i 



l- 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

towards the tree-tops with whirring sound and a flight suggest- 
ing the quail's, do you suspect there are any birds among the 
tall grasses. 

Their clear and piercing whistle, "Spring o* the y-e-a^r, 
Spring o' the year ! " rings out from the trees with varying in- 
tonation and accent, but always sweet and inspiriting. To the 
bird's high vantage ground you may not follow, for no longer 
having the protection of the high grass, it has become wary and 
flies away as you approach, calling out peent-peent and nervously 
flitting its tail (again showing the white feather), when it rests a 
moment on the pasture fence-rail. 

It is like looking for a needle in a haystack to try to And a 
meadowlark's nest, an unpretentious structure of dried grasses 
partly arched over and hidden in a clump of high timothy, flat 
upon the ground. But what havoc snakes and field-mice play 
with the white-speckled eggs and helpless fledglings I The care 
of rearing two or three broods in a season and the change of 
plumage to duller winter tints seem to exhaust the high spirits of 
the sweet whistler. For a time he is silent, but partly regains his 
vocal powers in the autumn, when, with large flocks of his own 
kind, he resorts to marshy feeding grounds. In the winter he 
chooses for companions the horned larks, that walk along the 
shore, or the snow buntings and sparrows of the inland pastures, 
and will even include the denizens of the barn-yard when hunger 
drives him close to the haunts of men. 

The Western Meadowlark or Prairie Lark (Sturnella magna 
neglecta), which many ornithologists consider a different species 
from the foregoing, is distinguished chiefly by its lighter, more 
grayish-brown plumage, by its yellow cheeks, and more espe- 
cially by its richer, fuller song. In his " Birds of Manitoba" Mr. 
Ernest E. Thompson says of this meadowlark : "In richness of 
voice and modulation it equals or excels both wood thrush and 
nightingale, and in the beauty of its articulation it has no superior 
in the whole world of feathered choristers with which I am 
acquainted." 



133 




Brown, OUto or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

Horned Lark 

(Otocoris alpestris) Lark family 

Called also: SHORE LARK 

Length — 7. 5 to 8 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the robin. 

Male— Upper parts dull brown, streaked with lighter on edges 
and tinged with pink or vinaceous ; darkest on back of head, 
neck, shoulders, and nearest the tail. A few erectile feathers 
on either side of the head form slight tufts or horns that are 
wanting in female. A black mark from the base of the bill 
passes below the eye and ends in a horn-shaped curve on 
cheeks, which are yellow. Throat clear yellow. Breast has 
crescent-shaped black patch. Underneatn soiled white, with 
dusky spots on lower breast. Tail black, the outer feathers 
margined with white, noticed in flight. 

Female — Has yellow eye-stripe; less prominent markings, espe- 
cially on head, and is a trifle smaller. 

Range — Northeastern parts of North America, and in winter 
from Ohio and eastern United States as far south as North 
Carolina. 

Migrations — October and November. March. Winter resident. 

Far away to the north in Greenland and Labrador this true 
lark, the most beautiful of its genus, makes its summer home. 
There it is a conspicuously handsome bird with its pinkish-gray 
and chocolate feathers, that have greatly faded into dull browns 
when we see them in the late autumn. In the far north only 
does it sing, and, according to Audubon, the charming song is 
flung to the breeze while the bird soars like a skylark. In the 
United States we hear only its call-note. 

Great flocks come down the Atlantic coast in October and 
November, and separate into smaller bands that take up their resi- 
dence in sandy stretches and open tracts near the sea or wher- 
ever the food supply looks promising, and there the larks stay 
until all the seeds, buds of bushes, berries, larvae, and insects in 
their chosen territory are exhausted. They are ever conspicu- 
ously ground birds, walkers, and when disturbed at their dinner, 
prefer to squat on the earth rather than expose themselves by 
flight. Sometimes they run nimbly over the frozen ground to 
escape an intruder, but flying they reserve as a last resort. When 
the visitor has passed they quickly return to their dinner. If they 
were content to eat less ravenously and remain slender, fewer 

134 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

* 

victims might be slaughtered annually to tickle the palates of the 
epicure. It is a mystery what they find to fatten upon when 
snow covers the frozen ground. Even in the severe midwinter 
storms they will not seek the protection of the woods, but always 
prefer sandy dunes with their scrubby undergrowth or open 
meadow lands. Occasionally a small flock wanders toward the 
farms to pick up seeds that are blown from the hayricks or scat- 
tered about the barn-yard by overfed domestic fowls. 

The Prairie Horned Lark (Otocoris alpestris praticola) is 
similar to the preceding, but a trifle smaller and paler, with a 
white instead of a yellow streak above the eye, the throat yellow- 
ish or entirely white instead of sulphur-yellow, and other minor 
differences. It has a far more southerly range, confined to north- 
ern portions of the United States from the Mississippi eastward. 
Once a distinctly prairie bird, it now roams wherever large 
stretches of open country that suit its purposes are cleared in the 
East, and remains resident. This species also sings in midair on 
the wing, but its song is a crude, half-inarticulate affair, barely 
audible from a height of two hundred feet. 

American Pipit 

(Antbus pensilvanicus) Wagtail family 

Called also: TITLARK; BROWN OR RED LARK 

Length — 6.38 to 7 inches. About the size of a sparrow. 

Male and Female — Upper parts brown ; wings and tail dark olive- 
brown ; the wing coverts tipped with buff or whitish, and 
ends of outer tail feathers white, conspicuous in flight 
White or yellowish eye-ring, and line above the eye. un- 
derneath light buff brown, with spots on breast and sides, 
the under parts being washed with brown of various shades. 
Feet brown. Hind toe-nail as long as or longer than the 
toe. 

Range — North America at large. Winters south of Virginia to 
Mexico and beyond. 

Migrations— April. October or November. Common in the 
United States, chiefly during the migrations. 

The color of this bird varies slightly with age and sex, the 
under parts ranging from white through pale rosy brown to a 

135 




Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

reddish tinge; but at any season, and under all circumstances, 
the pipit is a distinctly brown bird, resembling the water thrushes 
not in plumage only, but in the comical tail waggings and jerk- 
ings that alone are sufficient to identify it. However the books 
may tell us the bird is a wagtail, it certainly possesses two strong 
characteristics of true larks : it is a walker, delighting in walking 
or running, never hopping over the ground, and it has the angelic 
habit of singing as it flies. 

During the migrations the pipits are abundant in salt marshes 
or open stretches of country inland, that, with lark-like preference, 
they choose for feeding grounds. When flushed, all the flock 
rise together with uncertain flight, hovering and wheeling about 
the place, calling down dee-dee, dee-dee above your head until 
you have passed on your way, then promptly returning to the 
spot from whence they were disturbed. Along the roadsides 
and pastures, where two or three birds are frequently seen to- 
gether, they are too often mistaken for the vesper sparrows 
because of their similar size and coloring, but their easy, graceful 
walk should distinguish them at once from the hopping sparrow. 
They often run to get ahead of some one in the lane, but rarely fly 
if they can help it, and then scarcely higher than a fence-rail. 
Early in summer they are off for the mountains in the north. 
Labrador is their chosen nesting ground, and they are said to 
place their grassy nest, lined with lichens or moss, flat upon the 
ground — still another lark trait. Their eggs are chocolate-brown 
scratched with black. 

Whippoorwill 

( Antrostomus vociferus) Goatsucker family 

Length — o to 10 inches. About the size of the robin. Apparently 
mucn larger, because of its long wings and wide wing- 
spread. 

Male — A long- winged bird, mottled all over with reddish brown, 
grayish olack, and dusky white; numerous bristles fringing 
the large mouth. A narrow white band across the upper 
breast. Tail quills on the end and under side white. 

Female— Similar to male, except that the tail is dusky in color 
where that of the male is white. Band on breast buff instead 
of white. 

Range— United States, to the plains. Not common near the sea. 

Migrations — Late April to middle of September. Summer resident 

136 



H 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

The whippoorwill, because of its nocturnal habits and plain- 
tive note, is invested with a reputation for occult power which 
inspires a chilling awe among superstitious people, and leads 
them insanely to attribute to it an evil influence ; but it is a 
harmless, useful night prowler, flying low and catching enor- 
mous numbers of hurtful insects, always the winged varieties, in 
its peculiar fly-trap mouth. 

It loves the rocky, solitary woods, where it sleeps all day; 
but it is seldom seen, even after painstaking search, because of 
its dull, mottled markings conforming so nearly to rocks and dry 
leaves, and because of its unusual habit of stretching itself length- 
wise on a tree branch or ledge, where it is easily confounded with a 
patch of lichen, and thus overlooked. If by accident one happens 
upon a sleeping bird, it suddenly rouses and flies away, making 
no more sound than a passing butterfly — a curious and uncanny 
silence that is quite remarkable. When the sun goes down and 
as the gloaming deepens, the bird's activity increases, and it begins 
its nightly duties, emitting from time to time, like a sentry on 
his post or a watchman of the night, the doleful call which has 
given the bird its common name. It 

" Mourns unseen, and ceaseless sings 
Ever a note of wail and woe," 

that our Dutch ancestors interpreted as " Quote-kerr-kee" and so 
called it. They had a tradition that no frost ever appeared after 
the bird had been heard calling in the spring, and that it wisely 
left for warmer skies before frost came in the autumn. Prudent 
bird, never caught napping ! 

It is erratic in its choice of habitations, even when rock and 
solitude seem suited to its taste. Very rarely is this odd bird 
found close to the seashore, and in the Hudson River valley it 
keeps a half mile or more back from the river. 

The eggs, generally two in number, are creamy white, 
dashed with dark and olive spots, and laid on the ground on dry 
leaves, or in a little hollow in rock or stump — never in a nest 
built with loving care. But in extenuation of such careless- 
ness it may be said that, if disturbed or threatened, the mother 
shows no lack of maternal instinct, and removes her young, 
carrying them in her beak as a cat conveys her kittens to secure 
shelter. 

137 



i 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

Nighthawk 

(Cbordeiles virginianus) Goatsucker family 

Called also; NIGHTJAR; BULL-BAT; MOSQIJITO HAWK; 
WILL-O'-THE-WISP; PISK ; PIRAMIDIG ; LONG- 
WINGED GOATSUCKER 

Length — 9 to 10 inches. About the same length as the robin, but 
apparently much longer because of its very wide wing-spread. 

Male and Female— Mottled blackish brown and rufous above, with 
a multitude of cream-yellow spots and dashes. Lighter 
below, with waving bars of brown on breast and under- 
neath. White mark on throat, like an imperfect horseshoe ; 
also a band of white across tail of male bird. These latter 
markings are wanting in female. Heavy wings, which are 
partly mottled, are brown on shoulders and tips, and longer 
than tail. They have large white spots, conspicuous in 
flight, one of their distinguishing marks from the whippoor- 
will. Head large and depressed, with large eyes and ear- 
openings. Very small bill. 

Range — From Mexico to arctic islands. 

Migrations — May. October. Common summer resident 

The nighthawk's misleading name could not well imply 
more that the bird is not : it is not nocturnal in its habits, neither 
is it a hawk, for if it were, no account of it would be given in 
this book, which distinctly excludes birds of prey. Stories of its 
chicken-stealing prove to be ignorant rather than malicious slan- 
ders. Any one disliking the name, however, surely cannot com- 
plain of a limited choice of other names by which, in different 
sections of the country, it is quite as commonly known. 

Too often it is mistaken for the whippoorwill. The night- 
hawk does not have the weird and woful cry of that more dismal 
bird, but gives instead a harsh, whistling note while on the wing, 
followed by a vibrating, booming, whirring sound that Nuttall 
likens to "the rapid turning of a spinning wheel, or a strong 
blowing into the bung-hole of an empty hogshead." This pecu- 
liar sound is responsible for the name nightjar, frequently given 
to this curious bird. It is said to be made as the bird drops sud- 
denly through the air, creating a sort of stringed instrument of its 
outstretched wings and tail. When these wings are spread, their 
large white spots running through the feathers to the under side 

138 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

should be noted to further distinguish the nighthawk from the 
whippoorwill, which has none, but which it otherwise closely 
resembles. This booming sound, coming from such a height that 
the bird itself is often unseen, was said by the Indians to be made 
by the shad spirits to warn the scholes of shad about to ascend 
the rivers to spawn in the spring, of their impending fate. 

The flight of the nighthawk is free and graceful in the ex- 
treme. Soaring through space without any apparent motion of 
its wings, suddenly it darts with amazing swiftness like an erratic 
bat after the fly, mosquito, beetle, or moth that falls within the 
range of its truly hawk-like eye. 

Usually the nighthawks hunt in little companies in the most 
sociable fashion. Late in the summer they seem to be almost 
gregarious. They fly in the early morning or late afternoon with 
beak wide open, hawking for insects, but except when the moon 
is full they are not known to go a-hunting after sunset. During 
the heat of the day and at night they rest on limbs of trees, fence- 
rails, stone walls, lichen-covered rocks or old logs — wherever 
Nature has provided suitable mimicry of their plumage to help 
conceal them. 

With this object in mind, they quite as often choose a hollow 
surface of rock in some waste pasture or the open ground on 
which to deposit the two speckled-gray eggs that sixteen days 
later will give birth to their family. But in August, when family 
cares have ended for the season, it is curious to find this bird of 
the thickly wooded country readily adapting itself to city life, 
resting on Mansard roofs, darting into the streets from the house- 
tops, and wheeling about the electric lights, making a hearty sup- 
per of the little, winged insects they attract. 

• 

Black-billed Cuckoo 

(Coccy^us erytbropbtbalmus) Cuckoo family 

Called also: RAIN CROW 

Length — ii to 12 inches. About one-fifth larger than the robin. 

Male — Grayish brown above, with bronze tint in feathers. Un^ 
derneath grayish white ; bill, which is long as head and 
black, arched and acute. Skin about the eye bright red. 
Tail long, and with spots on tips of quills that are small and 
inconspicuous. 

'39 




Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

Female— Has obscure dusky bars on the tail. 

Ai«£y— Labrador to Panama ; westward to Rocky Mountains. 

Migrations— May. September. Summer resident 

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

From the tangled shrubbery on the hillside back of Dove 
Cottage, Keswick, where Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy 
listened for the coming of this ' ' darling of the spring " ; in the 
willows overhanging Shakespeare's Avon ; from the favorite 
haunts of Chaucer and Spenser, where 

" Runneth meade and springeth blede," 

m 

we hear the cuckoo calling ; but how many on this side of the 
Atlantic are familiar with its American counterpart ? Here, too, 
the cuckoo delights in running water and damp, cloudy weather 
like that of an English spring; it haunts the willows by our river- 
sides, where as yet no "immortal bard" arises to give it fame. 
It "loud sings " in our shrubbery, too. Indeed, if we cannot study 
our bird afield, the next best place to become acquainted with 
it is in the pages of the English poets. But due allowance must 
be made for differences of temperament. Our cuckoo is scarcely 
a "merry harbinger" ; his talents, such as they are, certainly are 
not musical. However, the guttural cluck is not discordant, and 
the black-billed species, at least, has a soft, mellow voice that 
seems to indicate an embryonic songster. " K-k-k-k, kow-kow- 
ow-kow-ow ! " is a familiar sound in many localities, but the large, 
slim, pigeon-shaped, brownish-olive bird that makes it, securely 
hidden in the low trees and shrubs that are its haunts, is not 
often personally known. Catching a glimpse only of the grayish- 
white under parts from where we stand looking up into the tree 
at it, it is quite impossible to tell the bird from the yellow-billed 
species. When, as it flies about, we are able to note the red 
circles about its eyes, its black bill, and the absence of black tail 
feathers, with their white "thumb-nail" spots, and see no bright 
cinnamon feathers on the wings (the yellow-billed specie's dis- 
tinguishing marks), we can at last claim acquaintance with the 
black-billed cuckoo. Our two common cuckoos are so nearly 
alike that they are constantly confused in the popular mind and 
very often in the writings of ornithologists. At first glance the 

140 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

birds look alike. Their haunts are almost identical ; their habits 
are the same ; and, as they usually keep well out of sight, it is 
not surprising if confusion arise. 

Neither cuckoo knows how to build a proper home ; a bunch 
of sticks dropped carelessly into the bush, where the hapless 
babies that emerge from the greenish eggs will not have far to 
fall when they tumble out of bed, as they must inevitably do, 
may by courtesy only be called a nest. The cuckoo is said to 
suck the eggs of other birds ; but, surely, such vice is only the 
rarest dissipation. Insects of many kinds and "tent caterpillars " 
chiefly are their chosen food. 



Yellow-billed Cuckoo 

(Coccy^us americanus) Cuckoo family 
Called also: RAIN CROW 

Length — 1 1 to 12 inches. About one-fifth longer than the robin. 

Male and Female — Grayish brown above, with bronze tint in 
feathers. Underneath grayish white. Bill, which is as 
long as head, arched, acute, and more robust than the black- 
billed species, and with lower mandible yellow. Wings 
washed with bright cinnamon-brown. Tail has outer quills 
black, conspicuously marked with white thumb-nail spots. 
Female larger. 

Range — North America, from Mexico to Labrador. Most common 
in temperate climates. Rare on Pacific slope. 

Migrations — Late April. September. Summer resident. 

" Kak, k-kuk, h-huk, k-kuh I " like an exaggerated tree-toad's 
rattle, is a sound that, when first heard, makes you rush out of 
doors instantly to " name " the bird. Look for him in the depths 
of the tall shrubbery or low trees, near running water, if there is 
any in the neighborhood, and if you are more fortunate than most 
people, you will presently become acquainted with the yellow- 
billed cuckoo. When seen perching at a little distance, his large, 
slim body, grayish brown, with olive tints above and whitish 
below, can scarcely be distinguished from that of the black-billed 
species. It is not until you get close enough to note the yellow 
bill, reddish-brown wings, and black tail feathers with their white 
"thumb-nail" marks, that you know which cuckoo you are 

141 




Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

watching. In repose the bird looks dazed or stupid, but as it 
darts about among the trees after insects, noiselessly slipping to 
another one that promises better results, and hopping along the 
limbs after performing a series of beautiful evolutions among the 
branches as it hunts for its favorite "tent caterpillars," it appears 
what it really is : an unusually active, graceful, intelligent bird. 

A solitary wanderer, nevertheless one cuckoo in an apple 
orchard is worth a hundred robins in ridding it of caterpillars and 
inch-worms, for it delights in killing many more of these than it 
can possibly eat. In the autumn it varies its diet with minute 
fresh-water shellfish from the swamp and lake. Mulberries, that 
look so like caterpillars the bird possibly likes them on that 
account, it devours wholesale. 

Family cares rest lightly on the cuckoos. The nest of both 
species is a ramshackle affair— a mere bundle of twigs and sticks 
without a rim to keep the eggs from rolling from the bush, where 
they rest, to the ground. Unlike their European relative, they 
have the decency to rear their own young and not impose this 
heavy task on others ; but the cuckoos on both sides of the Atlan- 
tic are most erratic and irregular in their nesting habits. The 
overworked mother-bird often lays an egg while brooding over 
its nearly hatched companion, and the two or three half-grown 
fledglings already in the nest may roll the large greenish eggs out 
upon the ground, while both parents are off searching for food to 
quiet their noisy clamorings. Such distracting mismanagement 
in the nursery is enough to make a homeless wanderer of any 
father. It is the mother-bird that tumbles to the ground at your 
approach from sheer fright ; feigns lameness, trails her wings as 
she tries to entice you away from the nest. The male bird shows 
far less concern ; a no more devoted father, we fear, than he is 
a lover. It is said he changes his mate every year. 

Altogether, the cuckoo is a very different sort of bird from 
what our fancy pictured. The little Swiss creatures of wood that 
fly out of the doors of clocks and call out the bed-hour to sleepy 
children, are chiefly responsible for the false impressions of our 
mature years. The American bird does not repeat its name, and 
its harsh, grating "kuk, huk," does not remotely suggest the 
sweet voice of its European relative. 



143 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

Closely associated with the sand martin is the Rough- winged 
Swallow ( Stelgidopteryx serripennisj, not to be distinguished 
from its companion on the wing, but easily recognized by its 
dull-gray throat and the absence of the brown breast-band when 
seen at close range. 

Cedar Bird 

(Ampelis cedrorum) Waxwing family 

Called also: CEDAR WAXWING; CHERRY-BIRD; CANADA 

ROBIN; RECOLLET 

Length — 7 to 8 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the robin. 

Male— Upper parts rich grayish brown, with plum-colored tints 
showing throuch the brown on crest, throat, breast, wings, 
and tail. A velvety-black line on forehead runs through the 
eye and back of crest. Chin black ; crest conspicuous ; oreast 
lighter than the back, and shading into yellow underneath. 
Wings have quill-shafts of secondaries elongated, and with 
brilliant vermilion tips like drops of sealing-wax, rarely seen 
on tail quills, which have yellow bands across the end. 

Female— With duller plumage, smaller crest, and narrower tail- 
band. 

Range — North America, from northern British provinces to Cen- 
tral America in winter. 

Migrations— A roving resident, without fixed seasons for migrat- 
ing. 

As the cedar birds travel about in great flocks that quickly 
exhaust their special food in a neighborhood, they necessarily 
lead a nomadic life — here to-day, gone to-morrow — and, like the 
Arabs, they "silently steal away." It is surprising how very 
little noise so great a company of these birds make at any time. 
That is because they are singularly gentle and refined; soft of 
voice, as they are of color, their plumage suggesting a fine Japan- 
ese water-color painting on silk, with its beautiful sheen and 
exquisitely blended tints. 

One listens in vain for a song; only a lisping "Twee-twee-^e," 
or "a dreary whisper," as Minot calls their low-toned commu- 
nications with each other, reaches our ears from their high perches 
in the cedar trees, where they sit, almost motionless hours at a 
time, digesting the enormous quantities of juniper and whortle 

144 



1 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy 

berries, wild cherries, worms, and insects upon which they have 
gormandized. 

Nuttall gives the cedar birds credit for excessive politeness 
to each other. He says he has often seen them passing a worm 
from one to another down a whole row of beaks and back again 
before it was finally eaten. 

When nesting time arrives — that is to say, towards the end of 
the summer — they give up their gregarious habits and live in pairs, 
billing and kissing like turtle-doves in the orchard or wild crab- 
trees, where a flat, bulky nest is rather carelessly built of twigs, 
grasses, feathers, strings — any odds and ends that may be lying 
about. The eggs are usually four, white tinged with purple and 
spotted with black. 

Apparently they have no moulting season ; their plumage is 
always the same, beautifully neat and full-feathered. Nothing 
ever hurries or flusters them, their greatest concern apparently 
being, when they alight, to settle themselves comfortably between 
their over-polite friends, who are never guilty of jolting or crowd- 
ing. Few birds care to take life so easily, not to say indolently. 

Among the French Canadians they are called Rfccollet, from 
the color of their crest resembling the hood of the religious order 
of that name. Every region the birds pass through, local names 
appear to be applied to them, z few of the most common of 
which are given above. 

Of the three waxwings known to scientists, two are found 
in America, and the third in Japan. 

Brown Creeper 

(Certbia familiar is americana) Creeper family 

Length—*) to 5.75 inches. A little smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Male and Female — Brown above, varied with ashy-gray stripes and 
small, lozenge-shaped gray mottles. Color lightest on head, 
increasing in shade to reddish brown near tail. Tail paler 
brown and long; wings brown and barred with whitish. 
Beneath grayish white. Slender, curving bill. 

Range — United States and Canada, east of Rocky Mountains. 

Migrations — April. September. Winter resident. 

This little brown wood sprite, the very embodiment of vir- 

145 




Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

tuous diligence, is never found far from the nuthatches, titmice, 
and kinglets, though not strictly in their company, for he is a 
rather solitary bird. Possibly he repels them by being too ex- 
asperatingly conscientious. 

Beginning at the bottom of a rough-barked tree (for a smooth 
bark conceals no larvae), the creeper silently climbs upward in a 
sort of spiral, now lost to sight on the opposite side of the tree, 
then reappearing just where he is expected to, flitting back a foot 
or two, perhaps, lest he overlooked a single spider egg, but never 
by any chance leaving a tree until conscience approves of his 
thoroughness. And yet with all this painstaking workman's care, 
it takes him just about fifty seconds to finish a tree. Then off 
he flits to the base of another, to repeat the spiral process. Only 
rarely does he adopt the woodpecker process of partly flitting, 
partly rocking his way with the help of his tail straight up one 
side of the tree. 

Yet this little bird is not altogether the soulless drudge he 
appears. In the midst of his work, uncheered by summer sun- 
shine, and clinging with numb toes to the tree-trunk some bitter 
cold day, he still finds some tender emotion within him to voice 
in a "wild, sweet song" that is positively enchanting at such a 
time. But it is not often this song is heard south of his nesting 
grounds. 

The brown creeper's plumage is one of Nature's most success- 
ful feats of mimicry — an exact counterfeit in feathers of the brown- 
gray bark on which the bird lives. And the protective coloring 
is carried out in the nest carefully tucked under a piece of loosened 
bark in the very heart of the tree. 

Pine Siskin 

(Spinus pinus) Finch family 

Called also : PINE FINCH ; PINE LINNET 

Length — 4.75 to 5 inches. Over an inch smaller than the Eng- 
lish sparrow. 

Male and Fentale— Olive-brown and gray above, much streaked 
and striped with very dark brown everywhere. Darkest on 
head and back. Lower back, base of tail, and wing feathers 
pale sulphur-yellow. Under parts very light buff brown, 
neavily streaked. 

146 



r 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

Range — North America generally. Most common in north lati- 
tudes. Winters south to the Gulf of Mexico. 

Migrations — Erratic winter visitor from October to April. Un- 
common in summer. 

A small grayish-brown brindle bird, relieved with touches 
of yellow on its back, wings, and tail, may be seen some winter 
morning roving on the lawn from one evergreen tree to another, 
clinging to the pine cones and peering attentively between the 
scales before extracting the kernels. It utters a call-note so like 
the English sparrow's that you are surprised when you look up 
into the tree to find it comes from a stranger. The pine siskin 
is an erratic visitor, and there is always the charm of the unex- 
pected about its coming near our houses that heightens our 
enjoyment of its brief stay. 

As it flies downward from the top of the spruce tree to feed 
upon the brown seeds still clinging to the pigweed and golden- 
rod stalks sticking out above the snow by the roadside, it dips 
and floats through the air like its charming little cousin, the gold- 
finch. They have several characteristics in common besides 
their flight and their fondness for thistles. Far at the north, 
where the pine siskin nests in the top of the evergreens, his 
sweet- warbled love-song is said to be like that of our "wild 
canary's," only with a suggestion of fretfulness in the tone. 

Occasionally some one living in an Adirondack or other 
mountain camp reports finding the nest and hearing the siskin 
sing even in midsummer; but it is, nevertheless, considered a 
northern species, however its erratic habits may sometimes break 
through the ornithologist's traditions. 



Smith's Painted Longspur 

(Calcarius pictus) Finch family 

Length— 6.5 inches. About the size of a large English sparrow. 

Male and Female — Upper parts marked with black, brown, and 
white, like a sparrow; brown predominant. Male bird with 
more black about head, shoulders, and tail feathers, and a 
whitish patch, edged with black, under the eye. Under- 
neath pale brown, shading to buff. Hind claw or spur con- 
spicuous. 

i47 




Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

Range— Interior of North America, from the arctic coast to Illinois 

and Texas. 
Migrations— Winter visitor. Without fixed season. 

Confined to a narrower range than the Lapland longspun 
this bird, quite commonly found on the open prairie districts of 
the middle West in winter, is, nevertheless, so very like its cousin 
that the same description of their habits might very well answer 
for both. Indeed, both these birds are often seen in the same 
flock. Larks and the ubiquitous sparrows, too, intermingle with 
them with the familiarity that only the starvation rations of mid- 
winter, and not true sociability, can effect ; and, looking out upon 
such a heterogeneous flock of brown birds as they are feeding 
together on the frozen ground, only the trained field ornithologist 
would find it easy to point out the painted longspurs. 

Certain peculiarities are noticeable, however. Longspurs 
squat while resting ; then, when flushed, they run quickly and 
lightly, and "rise with a sharp click, repeated several times in 
quick succession, and move with an easy, undulating motion for 
a short distance, when they alight very suddenly, seeming to fall 
perpendicularly several feet to the ground." Another peculiarity 
of their flight is their habit of flying about in circles, to and fro, 
keeping up a constant chirping or call. It is only in the mating 
season, when we rarely hear them, that the longspurs have the 
angelic manner of singing as they fly, like the skylark. The 
colors of the males, among the several longspurs, may differ 
widely, but the indistinctly marked females are so like each other 
that only their mates, perhaps, could tell them apart. 



Lapland Longspur 

(Calcarius lapponicus) Finch family 

Called also: LAPLAND SNOWBIRD; LAPLAND LARK 

BUNTING 

Length— 6. 5 to 7 inches. A trifle larger than the English sparrow. 

Male— Color varies with season. Winter plumage : Top of head 
black, with rusty markings, all feathers being tipped with 
white. Behind and below the eye rusty black. Breast and 
underneath grayish white, faintly streaked with black. Above, 

148 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

reddish brown with black markings. Feet, which are black, 
have conspicuous, long hind claws or spur. 

Female — Rusty gray above, less conspicuously marked. Whitish 
below. 

-ffaa^*— Circumpolar regions; northern United States: occasional 
in Middle States; abundant in winter as far as Kansas and 
the Rocky Mountains. 

Migrations — Winter visitors, rarely resident, and without a fixed 
season. 

This arctic bird, although considered somewhat rare with us, 
when seen at all in midwinter is in such large flocks that, before 
its visit in the neighborhood is ended, and because there are so 
few other birds about, it becomes delightfully familiar as it nimbly 
runs over the frozen ground, picking up grain that has blown 
about from the barn, when the seeds of the field are buried under 
snow. This lack of fear through sharp hunger, that often drives 
the shyest of the birds to our very doors in winter, is as pathetic 
as it is charming. Possibly it is not so rare a bird as we think, 
for it is often mistaken for some of the sparrows, the shore 
larks, and the snow buntings, that it not only resembles, but 
whose company it frequently keeps, or for one of the other long- 
spurs. 

At all seasons of the year a ground bird, you may readily 
identify the Lapland longspur by its tracks through the snow, 
showing the mark of the long hind claw or spur. In sum- 
mer we know little or nothing about it, for, with the coming 
of the first flowers, it is off to the far north, where, we are told, 
it depresses its nest in a bed of moss upon the ground, and lines 
it with fur shed from the coat of the arctic fox. 



Chipping Sparrow 

(Spiqella socialis) Finch family 

Coiled also: CHIPPY; HAIR-BIRD; CHIP-BIRD; SOCIAL 

SPARROW 

Length — 5 to 5.5 inches. An inch shorter than the English 
sparrow. 

Male— Under the eye, on the back of the neck, underneath, and 
on the lower back ash-gray. Gray stripe over the eye, and a 

149 




Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

blackish brown one apparently through it. Dark red-brown 
crown. Back brown, slightly rufous, and feathers streaked 
with black. Wings and tail dusty brown. Wing-bars not 
conspicuous. Bill black. 

Female—- Lacks the chestnut color on the crown, which is streaked 
with black. In winter the frontlet is black. Bill brownish. 

Range — North America, from Newfoundland to the Gulf of Mexico 
and westward to the Rockies. Winters in Gulf States and 
Mexico. Most common in eastern United States. 

Migrations — April. October. Common summer resident, many 
birds remaining all the year from southern New England 
southward. 

Who does not know this humblest, most unassuming little 
neighbor that comes hopping to our very doors ; this mite of a 
bird with " one talent " that it so persistently uses all the day and 
every day throughout the summer ? Its high, wiry trill, like the 
buzzing of the locust, heard in the dawn before the sky grows 
even gray, or in the middle of the night, starts the morning 
chorus; and after all other voices are hushed in the evening, its 
tremolo is the last bed-song to come from the trees. But how- 
ever monotonous such cheerfulness sometimes becomes when we 
are surfeited with real songs from dozens of other throats, there 
are long periods of midsummer silence that it punctuates most 
acceptably. 

Its call-note, chip ! chip ! from which several of its popular 
names are derived, is altogether different from the trill which 
must do duty as a song to express love, contentment, everything 
that so amiable a little nature might feel impelled to voice. 

But with all its virtues, the chippy shows lamentable weak- 
ness of character in allowing its grown children to impose upon 
it, as it certairlly does. In every group of these birds throughout 
the summer we can see young ones (which we may know by 
the black line-stripes on their breasts) hopping around after their 
parents, that are often no larger or more able-bodied than they, 
and teasing to be fed; drooping their wings to excite pity for 
a helplessness that they do not possess when the weary little 
mother hops away from them, and still persistently chirping for 
food until she weakly relents, returns to them, picks a seed from 
the ground and thrusts it down the bill of the sauciest teaser in 
the group. With two such broods in a season the chestnut 
feathers on the father's jaunty head might well turn gray. 

150 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Bi 

Unlike most of the sparrows, the little chippy frequents high 
trees, where its nest is built quite as often as in the low bushes 
of the garden. The horse-hair, which always lines the grassy 
cup that holds its greenish-blue, speckled eggs, is alone responsi- 
ble for the name hair-bird, and not the chippy's hair-like trill, as 
some suppose. 

English Sparrow 
(Passer domesticus) Finch family 

Called also: HOUSE SPARROW 

Length — 6.33 inches. 

Male — Ashy above, with black and chestnut stripes on back and 
shoulders. Wings, have chestnut and white bar, bordered 
by faint black line. Gray crown, bordered from the eye 
backward and on the nape by chestnut. Middle of throat 
and breast black. Underneath grayish white. 

Female — Paler; wing-bars indistinct, and without the black mark- 
ing on throat and breast. 

Range — Around the world. Introduced and naturalized in Amer- 
ica, Australia, New Zealand. 

Migrations — Constant resident. 

" Of course, no self-respecting ornithologist will condescend 
to enlarge his list by counting in the English sparrow— too pes- 
tiferous to mention," writes Mr. H. E. Parkhurst, and yet of all 
bird neighbors is any one more within the scope of this book 
than the audacious little gamin that delights in the companion- 
ship of humans even in their most noisy city thoroughfares ? 

In a bulletin issued by the Department of Agriculture it is 
shown that the progeny of a single pair of these sparrows might 
amount to 275,716,983,698 in ten years 1 Inasmuch as many 
pairs were liberated in the streets of Brooklyn, New York, in 
185 1, when the first importation was made, the day is evidently 
not far off when these birds, by no means meek, "shall inherit 
the earth." 

In Australia Scotch thistles, English sparrows, and rabbits, 
three most unfortunate importations, have multiplied with equal 
rapidity until serious alarm fills the minds of the colonists. But 
in England a special committee appointed by the House of Com- 

151 




Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

mons to investigate the character of the alleged pest has yet to 
learn whether the sparrow's services as an insect-destroyer do 
not outweigh the injury it does to fruit and grain. 

Field Sparrow 

(Spi^ella pusilla) Finch family 

Called also; FIELD BUNTING; WOOD SPARROW; BUSH 

SPARROW 

Length— 5.5 to 5.75 inches. A little smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Male— Chestnut crown. Upper back bright chestnut, finely 
streaked with black ana ashy brown. Lower back more 
grayish. Whitish wing-bars. Cheeks, line over the eye, 
throat, pale brownish drab. Tail long. Underneath grayish 
white, tinged with palest buff on breast and sides. Bill 
reddish. 

Female — Paler; the crown edged with grayish. 

Range — North America, from British provinces to the Gulf, and 
westward to the plains. Winters from Illinois and Virginia 
southward. 

Migrations— April. November. Common summer resident 

Simply because both birds have chestnut crowns, the field 
sparrow is often mistaken for the dapper, sociable chippy; and, 
no doubt because it loves such heathery, grassy pastures as are 
dear to the vesper sparrow, and has bay wings and a sweet 
song, these two cousins also are often confused. The field spar- 
row has a more reddish-brown upper back than any of its small 
relatives ; the absence of streaks on its breast and of the white 
tail quills so conspicuous in the vesper sparrow's flight, sufficiently 
differentiate the two birds, while the red bill of the field sparrow 
is a positive mark of identification. 

This bird of humble nature, that makes the scrubby pastures 
and uplands tuneful from early morning until after sunset, flies 
away with exasperating shyness as you approach. Alighting on 
a convenient branch, he lures you on with his clear, sweet song. 
Follow him, and he only hops about from bush to bush, farther 
and farther away, singing as he goes a variety of strains, which 
is one of the bird's peculiarities. The song not only varies in 
individuals, but in different localities, which may be one reason 

152 



FIELD SPARROW BABIES. 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

why no two ornithologists record it alike. Doubtless the chief 
reason for the amusing differences in the syllables into which the 
songs of birds are often translated in the books, is that the same 
notes actually sound differently to different individuals. Thus, 
to people in Massachusetts the white-throated sparrow seems to 
say, "Pea-bod-y, Pea-bod-y, Pea-bod-y!" while good British 
subjects beyond the New England border hear him sing quite dis- 
tinctly, " Sweet Can-a-da , Can-a-da, Can-a-da/" But however 
the opinions as to the syllables of the field sparrow's song may 
differ, all are agreed as to its exquisite quality, that resembles the 
vesper sparrow's tender, sweet melody. The song begins with 
three soft, wild whistles, and ends with a series of trills and 
quavers that gradually melt away into silence : a serene and restful 
strain as soothing as a hymn. Like the vesper sparrows, these 
birds sometimes build a plain, grassy nest, unprotected by over- 
hanging bush, flat upon the ground. Possibly from a prudent 
fear of field-mice and snakes, the little mother most frequently 
lays her bluish-white, rufous-marked eggs in a nest placed in a 
bush of a bushy field. Hence John Burroughs has called the bird 
the "bush sparrow." 

Fox Sparrow 

(Passerella ilica) Finch family 

Called also : FOX-COLORED SPARROW ; FERRUGINOUS 

FINCH; FOXY FINCH 

Length — 6.5 to 7.25 inches. Nearly an inch longer than the Eng- 
lish sparrow. 

Male and Female — Upper parts reddish brown, varied with ash- 
gray, brightest on lower back, wings, and tail. Bluish slate 
about the head. Underneath whitish ; the throat, breast, and 
sides heavily marked with arrow-heads and oblong dashes of 
reddish brown and blackish. 

Range— Alaska and Manitoba to southern United States. Winters 
chiefly south of Illinois and Virginia. Occasional stragglers 
remain north most of the winter. 

Migrations — March. November. Most common in the migra- 
tions. 

There will be little difficulty in naming this largest, most 
plump and reddish of all the sparrows, whose fox-colored 

1 S3 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Bi 

feathers, rather than any malicious cunning of its disposition, are 
responsible for the name it bears. The male bird is incomparably 
the finest singer of its gifted family. His faint tseep call-note gives 
no indication of his vocal powers that some bleak morning in early 
March suddenly send a thrill of pleasure through you. It is the 
most welcome "glad surprise" of all the spring. Without a 
preliminary twitte: or throat-clearing of any sort, the full, rich, 
luscious tones, with just a tinge of plaintiveness in them, are 
poured forth with spontaneous abandon. Such a song at such a 
time is enough to summon anybody with a musical ear out of 
doors under the leaden skies to where the delicious notes issue 
from the leafless shrubbery by the roadside. Watch the singer 
until the song ends, when he will quite likely descend among the 
dead leaves on the ground and scratch among them like any 
barn-yard fowl, but somehow contriving to use both feet at once 
in the operation, as no chicken ever could. He seems to take spe- 
cial delight in damp thickets, where the insects with which he 
varies his seed diet are plentiful. 

Usually the fox sparrows keep in small, loose flocks, apart 
by themselves, for they are not truly gregarious ; but they may 
sometimes be seen travelling in company with their white- 
throated cousins. They are among the last birds to leave us in 
the late autumn or winter. Mr. Bicknell says that they seem in- 
disposed to sing unless present in numbers. Indeed, they are 
little inclined to absolute solitude at any time, for even in the 
nesting season quite a colony of grassy nurseries may be found 
in the same meadow, and small companies haunt the roadside 
shrubbery during the migrations. 

Grasshopper Sparrow 

(Ammodramus savannarum passerinus) Finch family 
Called also: YELLOW-WINGED SPARROW 

Length—*) to 5.4 inches. About an inch smaller than the Eng- 
lish sparrow. 

Male and Female — A cream-yellow line over the eye ; centre of 
crown, shoulders, and lesser wing coverts yellowish. Head 
blackish; rust-colored feathers, with small black spots on 
back of the neck; an orange mark before the eye. All other 
upper parts varied red, brown, cream, and black, with a drab 

154 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

wash. Underneath brownish drab on breast, shading to 
soiled white, and without streaks. Dusky, even, pointed tail 
feathers have grayish-white outer margins. 

Range— Eastern North America, from British provinces to Cuba. 
Winters south of the Carolinas. 

Migrations — April. October. Common summer resident 

It is safe to say that no other common bird is so frequently 
overlooked as this little sparrow, that keeps persistently to the 
grass and low bushes, and only faintly lifts up a weak, wiry 
voice that is usually attributed to some insect. At the bend of 
the wings only are the feathers really yellow, and even this 
bright shade often goes unnoticed as the bird runs shyly through 
an old dairy field or grassy pasture. You may all but step upon 
it before it takes wing and exhibits itself on the fence-rail, which 
is usually as far from the ground as it cares to go. If you are near 
enough to this perch you may overhear the {ee-*4-e-e-*4-e that 
has earned it the name of grasshopper sparrow. If you persist- 
ently follow it too closely, away it flies, then suddenly drops to 
the ground where a scrubby bush affords protection. A curious 
fact about this bird is that after you have once become acquainted 
with it, you find that instead of being a rare discovery, as you had 
supposed, it is apt to be a common resident of almost every field 
you walk through. 

Savanna Sparrow 

(Ammodramus sandwicbensis savanna) Finch family 
Called also : SAVANNA BUNTING 

Length— 5. 5 to 6 inches. A trifle smaller than the English sparrow. 

Male and Female — Cheeks, space over the eye, and on the bend 
of the wings pale yellow. General effect of the upper parts 
brownish drab, streaked with black. Wings and tail dusky, 
the outer webs of the feathers margined with buff. Under 
parts white, heavily streaked with blackish and rufous, the 
marks on breast feathers being wedge-shaped. In the au- 
tumn the plumage is often suffused with a yellow tinge. 

Range — Eastern North America, from Hudson Bay to Mexico. 
Winters south of Illinois and Virginia. 

Migrations — April. October. A few remain in sheltered marshes 
at the north all winter. 

i55 




Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

Look for the savanna sparrow in salt marshes, marshy or 
upland pastures, never far inland, and if you see a sparrowy 
bird, unusually white and heavily streaked beneath, and with 
pale yellow markings about the eye and on the bend of the wing, 
you may still make several guesses at its identity before the weak, 
little insect-like trill finally establishes it. Whoever can correctly 
name every sparrow and warbler on sight is a person to be 
envied, if, indeed, he exists at all. 

In the lowlands of Nova Scotia and, in fact, of all the mari- 
time provinces, this sparrow is the one that is perhaps most com- 
monly seen. Every fence-rail has one perched upon it, singing 
" Ptsip, ptsip, ptsip, %ee-**-e-e " close to the ear of the passer-by, 
who otherwise might not hear the low grasshopper-like song. At 
the north the bird somehow loses the shyness that makes it com- 
paratively little known farther south. Depending upon the scrub 
and grass to conceal it, you may almost tread upon it before it 
startles you by its sudden rising with a whirring noise, only to 
drop to the ground again just as suddenly a few yards farther 
away, where it scuds among the underbrush and is lost to sight. 
Tall weeds and fence-rails are as high and exposed situations as 
it is likely to select while singing. It is most distinctively a 
ground bird, and flat upon the pasture or in a slightly hollowed 
cup it has the merest apology for a nest. Only a few wisps of 
grass are laid in the cavity to receive the pale-green eggs, that are 
covered most curiously with blotches of brown of many shapes 
and tints. 

Seaside Sparrow 

( Ammodramus maritimus) Finch family 
Called also: MEADOW CHIPPY; SEASIDE FINCH 

Length — 6 inches. A shade smaller than the English sparrow. 

Male and Female — Upper parts dusky grayish or olivaceous brown, 
inclining to gray on shoulders and on edges of some feathers. 
Wings and tail darkest. Throat yellowish white, shading to 
gray on breast, which is indistinctly mottled and streaked. 
A yellow spot before the eye and on bend of the wing, the 
bird's characteristic marks. Blunt tail. 

Range— Atlantic seaboard, from Georgia northward. Usually 
winters south of Virginia. 

Migrations — April. November. A few remain in sheltered 
marshes all winter. 

156 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

The savanna, the swamp, the sharp-tailed, and the song spar- 
rows may all sometimes be found in the haunts of the seaside 
sparrow, but you may be certain of finding the latter nowhere else 
than in the salt marshes within sight or sound of the sea. It is a 
dingy little bird, with the least definite coloring of all the spar- 
rows that have maritime inclinations, with no rufous tint in its 
feathers, and less distinct streakings on the breast than any of 
them. It has no black markings on the back. 

Good-sized flocks of seaside sparrows live together in the 
marshes ; but they spend so much of their time on the ground, 
running about among the reeds and grasses, whose seeds and 
insect parasites they feed upon, that not until some unusual dis- 
turbance in the quiet place flushes them does the intruder sus- 
pect their presence, Hunters after beach-birds, longshoremen, 
seaside cottagers, and whoever follows the windings of a creek 
through the salt meadows to catch crabs and eels in midsummer, 
are well acquainted with the "meadow chippies," as the fisher- 
men call them. They keep up a good deal of chirping, sparrow- 
fashion, and have four or five notes resembling a song that is 
usually delivered from a tall reed stalk, where the bird sways and 
balances until his husky performance has ended, when down he 
drops upon the ground out of sight. Sometimes, too, these 
notes are uttered while the bird flutters in the air above the tops 
of the sedges. 



Sharp-tailed Sparrow 

(Ammodramus caudacutus) Finch family 

Length— 5.25 to 5.85 inches. A trifle smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

M ale and Female— Upper parts brownish or grayish olive, the 
back with black streaks, and gray edges to some feathers. 
A gray line through centre of crown, which has maroon 
stripes; gray ears enclosed by buff lines, one of which passes 
through the eye and one on side of throat ; brownish orange, 
or buff, on siaes of head. Bend of the wing yellow. Breast 
and sides pale buff, distinctly streaked with black. Under- 
neath whitish. Each narrow quill of tail is sharply pointed, 
the outer ones shortest. 

Range — Atlantic coast. Winters south of Virginia. 

Migrations — April. November. Summer resident 

iS7 




Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

This bird delights in the company of the dull-colored seaside 
sparrow, whose haunts in the salt marshes it frequents, especially 
the drier parts ; but its pointed tail-quills and more distinct mark- 
ings are sufficient to prevent confusion. Mr. J. D wight, Jr., who 
has made a special study of maritime birds, says of it: "It runs 
about among the reeds and grasses with the celerity of a mouse, 
and it is not apt to take wing unless closely pressed." (Wilson 
credited it with the nimbleness of a sandpiper.) "It builds its 
nest in the tussocks on the bank of a ditch, or in the drift left by 
the tide, rather than in the grassier sites chosen by its neighbors, 
the seaside sparrows." 

Only rarely does one get a glimpse of this shy little bird, 
that darts out of sight like a flash at the first approach. Balancing 
on a cat-tail stalk or perched upon a bit of driftwood, it makes a 
feeble, husky attempt to sing a few notes; and during the brief 
performance the opera-glasses may search it out successfully. 
While it feeds upon the bits of sea-food washed ashore to the 
edge of the marshes, it gives us perhaps the best chance we ever 
get, outside of a museum, to study the bird's characteristics of 
plumage. 

"Both the sharp-tailed and the seaside finches are crepus- 
cular," says Dr. Abbott, in "The Birds About Us." They run 
up and down the reeds and on the water's edge long after most 
birds have gone to sleep. 

Song Sparrow 

(Melospi^a fasciata) Finch family 

Length — 6 to 6.5 inches. About the same size as the English 
sparrow. 

Male and Female— -Brown head, with three longitudinal gray bands. 
Brown stripe on sides of throat. Brownish-gray back, 
streaked with rufous. Underneath gray, shading to white, 
heavily streaked with darkest brown. A black spot on 
breast. Wings without bars. Tail plain grayish brown. 

Range— North America, from Fur Countries to the Gulf States. 
Winters from southern Illinois and Massachusetts to the Gulf. 

Migrations — March. November. A few birds remain at the 
north all the year. 

Here is a veritable bird neighbor, if ever there was one ; at 
home in our gardens and hedges, not often farther away than the 

158 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

roadside, abundant everywhere during nearly every month in the 
year, and yet was there ever one too many ? There is scarcely an 
hour in the day, too, when its delicious, ecstatic song may not 
be heard ; in the darkness of midnight, just before dawn, when 
its voice is almost the first to respond to the chipping sparrow's 
wiry trill and the robin's warble ; in the cool of the morning, the 
heat of noon, the hush of evening— ever the simple, homely, 
sweet melody that every good American has learned to love in 
childhood. What the bird lacks in beauty it abundantly makes 
up in' good cheer. Not at all retiring, though never bold, it 
chooses some conspicuous perch on a bush or tree to deliver its 
outburst of song, and sings away with serene unconsciousness. 
Its artlessness is charming. Thoreau writes in his "Summer" 
that the country girls in Massachusetts hear the bird say : " Maids, 
maids, maids, bang on your teakettle, teakettle-ettle-ettle." The 
call-note, a metallic chip, is equally characteristic of the bird's 
irrepressible vivacity. It has still another musical expression, 
however, a song more prolonged and varied than its usual per- 
formance, that it seems to sing only on the wing. 

Of course, the song sparrow must sometimes fly upward, 
but whoever sees it fly anywhere but downward into the thicket 
that it depends upon to conceal it from too close inspection ? 
By pumping its tail as it flies, it seems to acquire more than the 
ordinary sparrow's velocity. 

Its nest, which is likely to be laid flat on the ground, except 
where field-mice are plentiful (in which case it is elevated into 
the crotch of a bush), is made of grass, strips of bark, and leaves, 
and lined with finer grasses and hair. Sometimes three broods 
may be reared in a season, but even the cares of providing insects 
and seeds enough for so many hungry babies cannot altogether 
suppress the cheerful singer. The eggs are grayish white, 
speckled and clouded with lavender and various shades of 
brown. 

In sparsely settled regions the song sparrows seem to show 
a fondness for moist woodland thickets, possibly because their 
tastes are insectivorous. But it is difficult to imagine the friendly 
little musician anything but a neighbor. 



159 




Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Graj Sparrowy Birds 

Swamp Song Sparrow 

(Melospi{a gcorgiana) Finch family 

Called also: SWAMP SPARROW; MARSH SPARROW; RED 

GRASS-BIRD; SWAMP FINCH 

Length — 5 to 5.8 inches. A little smaller than the English spar- 
row. 

Male — Forehead black ; crown, which in winter has black stripes, 
is always bright bay; line over the eye, sides of the neck 
gray. Back brown, striped with various shades. Wing- 
edges and tail reddish brown. Mottled gray underneath, 
inclining to white on the chin. 

Female— Without black forehead and stripes on head. 

Range— North America, from Texas to Labrador. 

Migrations — April. October. A few winter at the north. 

In just such impenetrable retreats as the marsh wrens choose, 
another wee brown bird may sometimes be seen springing up 
from among the sedges, singing a few sweet notes as it flies and 
floats above them, and then suddenly disappearing into the 
grassy tangle. It is too small, and its breast is not streaked 
enough to be a song sparrow, neither are their songs alike; it has 
not the wren's peculiarities of bill and tail. Its bright-bay crown 
and sparrowy markings finally identify it. A suggestion of the 
bird's watery home shows itself in the liquid quality of its simple, 
sweet note, stronger and sweeter than the chippy's, and repeated 
many times almost like a trill that seems to trickle from the 
marsh in a little rivulet of song. The sweetness is apt to become 
monotonous to all but the bird itself, that takes evident delight in 
its performance. In the spring, when flocks of swamp sparrows 
come north, how they enliven the marshes and wa6te places ! 
And yet the song, simple as it is, is evidently not uttered alto- 
gether without effort, if the tail-spreading and teetering of the 
body after the manner of the ovenbird, are any indications of 
exertion. 

Nuttall says of these birds: " They thread their devious way 
with the same alacrity as the rail, with whom, indeed, they are 
often associated in neighborhood. In consequence of this perpet- 
ual brushing through sedge and bushes, their feathers are fre- 
quently so worn that their tails appear almost like those of rats." 

160 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

But the swamp sparrows frequently belie their name, and, 
especially in the South, live in dry fields, worn-out pasture lands 
with scrubby, weedy patches in them. They live upon seeds of 
grasses and berries, but Dr. Abbott has detected their special 
fondness for fish— not fresh fish particularly, but rather such as 
have lain in the sun for a few days and become dry as a chip. 

Their nest is placed on the ground, sometimes in a tussock 
of grass or roots of an upturned tree quite surrounded by water. 
Four or five soiled white eggs with reddish-brown spots are laid 
usually twice in a season. 



Tree Sparrow 

(Spi^ella monticola) Finch family 

Called also: CANADA SPARROW ; WINTER CHIPPY; TREE 
BUNTING ; WINTER CHIP-BIRD ; ARCTIC CHIPPER 

Length— 6 to 6.35 inches. About the same size as the English 
sparrow. 

Afa/e— Crown of head bright chestnut. Line over the eye, cheeks, 
throat, and breast gray, the breast with an indistinct black 
spot on centre. Brown back, the feathers edged with black 
and buff. * Lower back pale grayish brown. Two whitish 
bars across dusky wings ; tail feathers bordered with grayish 
white. Underneath whitish. 

Female — Smaller and less distinctly marked. 

Range — North America, from Hudson Bay to the Carolinas, and 
westward to the plains. 

Migrations — October. April. Winter resident. 

A revised and enlarged edition of the friendly little chipping 
sparrow, that hops to our very doors for crumbs throughout the 
mild weather, comes out of British America at the beginning of 
winter to dissipate much of the winter's dreariness by his cheer- 
ful twitterings. Why he should have been called a tree spar- 
row is a mystery, unless because he does not frequent trees — a 
reason with sufficient plausibility to commend the name to sev- 
eral of the early ornithologists, who not infrequently called a bird 
precisely what it was not. The tree sparrow actually does not 
show half the preference for trees that its familiar little counter- 
part does, but rather keeps to low bushes when not on the 

161 




Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

ground, where we usually find it. It does # not crouch upon the 
ground like the chippy, but with a lordly carriage holds itself 
erect as it nimbly runs over the frozen crust. Sheltered from the 
high, wintry winds in the furrows and dry ditches of ploughed 
fields, a loose flock of these active birds keep up a merry hunt 
for fallen seeds and berries, with a belated beetle to give the grain 
a relish. As you approach the feeding ground, one bird gives a 
shrill alarm-cry, and instantly five times as many birds as you 
suspected were in the field take wing and settle down in the 
scrubby undergrowth at the edge of the woods or by the way- 
side. No still cold seems too keen for them to go a-foraging; 
but when cutting winds blow through the leafless thickets the 
scattered remnants of a flock seek the shelter of stone walls, 
hedges, barhs, and cozy nooks about the house and garden. It 
is in midwinter that these birds grow most neighborly, although 
even then they are distinctly less sociable than their small chippy 
cousins. 

By the first of March, when the fox sparrow and the blue- 
bird attract the lion's share of attention by their superior voices, 
we not infrequently are deaf to the modest, sweet little strain 
that answers for the tree sparrow's love-song. Soon after the 
bird is in full voice, away it goes with its flock to their nesting 
ground in Labrador or the Hudson Bay region. It builds, either 
on the ground or not far from it, a nest of grasses, rootlets, and 
hair, without which no true chippy counts its home complete. 



Vesper Sparrow 

(Pooccetes gratnineus) Finch family 

Called also: BAY- WINGED BUNTING; GRASSFINCH; GRASS- 
BIRD 

Length — 5.75 to 6.25 inches. A little smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Male and Female— Brown above, streaked and varied with gray. 
Lesser wing coverts bright rufous. Throat and breast whit- 
ish, striped with dark brown. Underneath plain soiled 
white. Outer tail-quills, which are its special mark of iden- 
tification, are partly white, but apparently wholly white as 
the bird flies. 

162 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

Range — North America, especially common in eastern parts from 
Hudson Bay to Gulf of Mexico. Winters south of Virginia. 
Migrations— April. October. Common summer resident 

Among the least conspicuous birds, sparrows are the easiest 
to classify for that very reason, and certain prominent features of 
the half dozen commonest of the tribe make their identification 
simple even to the merest novice. The distinguishing marks of 
this sparrow that haunts open, breezy pasture lands and country 
waysides are its bright, reddish-brown wing coverts, prominent 
among its dingy, pale brownish-gray feathers, and its white tail- 
quills, shown as the bird flies along the road ahead of you to 
light upon the fence-rail. It rarely flies higher, even to sing its 
serene, pastoral strain, restful as the twilight, of which, indeed, it 
seems to be the vocal expression. How different from the ecstatic 
outburst of the song sparrow ! Pensive, but not sad, its long- 
drawn silvery notes continue in quavers that float off unended 
like a trail of mist. The song is suggestive of the thoughts that 
must come at evening to some New England saint of humble 
station after a well-spent, soul-uplifting day. 

But while the vesper sparrow sings oftenest and most sweetly 
in the late afternoon and continues singing until only he and the 
rose-breasted grosbeak break the silence of the early night, his is 
one of the first voices to join the morning chorus. No "early 
worm," however, tempts him from his grassy nest, for the seeds 
in the pasture lands and certain tiny insects that live among the 
grass furnish meals at all hours. He simply delights in the cool, 
still morning and evening hours and in giving voice to his enjoy- 
ment of them. 

The vesper sparrow is preeminently a grass-bird. It first 
opens its eyes on the world in a nest neatly woven of grasses, 
laid on the ground among the grass that shelters it and furnishes 
it with food and its protective coloring. Only the grazing cattle 
know how many nests and birds are hidden in their pastures. 
Like the meadowlarks, their presence is not even suspected until 
a flock is flushed from its feeding ground, only to return to the 
spot when you have passed on your way. Like the meadowlark 
again, the vesper sparrow occasionally sings as it soars upward 
from its grassy home. 



163 




Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

White-crowned Sparrow 

(Zonotricbia leucopbrys) Finch family 

Length— 7 inches. A little larger than the English sparrow. 

Male— White head, with four longitudinal black lines marking off 
a crown, the black-and-white stripes being of about equal 
width. Cheeks, nape, and throat gray. Light gray under- 
neath, with some buff tints. Back dark grayish brown, 
some feathers margined with gray. Two interrupted white 
bars across wings. Plain, dusky tail ; total effect, a clear 
ashen gray. 

Female — With rusty head inclining to gray on crown. Paler 
throughout than the male. 

Range— From high mountain ranges of western United States 
(more rarely on Pacific slope) to Atlantic Ocean, and from 
Labrador to Mexico. Chiefly south of Pennsylvania. 

Migrations— October. April. Irregular migrant in Northern States. 
A winter resident elsewhere. 

The large size and handsome markings of this aristocratic- 
looking Northern sparrow would serve to distinguish him at once, 
did he not often consort with his equally fine-looking white- 
throated cousins while migrating, and so too often get over- 
looked. Sparrows are such gregarious birds that it is well to 
scrutinize every flock with especial care in the spring and autumn, 
when the rarer migrants are passing. This bird is more common 
in the high altitudes of the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains 
than elsewhere in the United States. There in the lonely forest 
it nests in low bushes or on the ground, and sings its full love- 
song, as it does in the northern British provinces, along the Atlan- 
tic coast ; but during the migrations it favors us only with 
selections from its repertoire. Mr. Ernest Thompson says, " Its 
usual song is like the latter half of the white-throat's familiar re- 
frain, repeated a number of times with a peculiar, sad cadence and 
in a clear, soft whistle that is characteristic of the group." "The 
song is the loudest and most plaintive of all the sparrow songs," 
says John Burroughs. " It begins with the words fe-u, fe-u, fe-u, 
and runs off into trills and quavers like the song sparrow's, only 
much more touching." Colorado miners tell that this sparrow, 
like its white-throated relative, sings on the darkest nights. 
Often a score or more birds are heard singing at once after the 

164 



Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown! and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Birds 

habit of the European nightingales, which, however, choose to 
sing only in the moonlight 



White-throated Sparrow 

(Zonotricbia albicollis) Finch family 
Called also: PEABODY BIRD; CANADA SPARROW 

Length— 6.75 to 7 inches. Larger than the English sparrow. 

Male and Female — A black crown divided by narrow white line. 
Yellow spot before the eye, and a white line, apparently run- 
ning through it, passes backward to the nape. Conspicuous 
white throat. Chestnut back, varied with black and whitish. 
Breast gray, growing lighter underneath. Wings edged 
with rufous and with two white cross-bars. 

Range — Eastern North America. Nests from Michigan and Mas- 
sachusetts northward to Labrador. Winters from southern 
New England to Florida. 

Migrations— April. October. Abundant during migrations, and 
in many States a winter resident. 

"/-/, Pea-body, Pea-body, Pea-body," are the syllables of the 
white-throat's song heard by the good New Englanders, who 
have a tradition that you must either be a Peabody or a nobody 
there; while just over the British border the bird is distinctly un- 
derstood to say, " Swee-e-e-t Can-a-da, Can-a-da, Can-a-da." 
"All day, wbit-tle-ing, wbit-tle-ing, wbit-tle-ing," the Maine 
people declare he sings ; and Hamilton Gibson told of a per- 
plexed farmer, Peverly by name, who, as he stood in the field 
undecided as to what crop to plant, clearly heard the bird advise, 
"Sow wheat, Pev-er-ly, Pev-er-ly, Pev-er-ly." Such divergence 
of opinion, which is really slight compared with the verbal record 
of many birds' songs, only goes to show how little the sweet- 
ness of birds' music, like the perfume of a rose, depends upon a 
name. 

In a family not distinguished for good looks, the white- 
throated sparrow is conspicuously handsome, especially after the 
spring moult. In midwinter the feathers grow dingy and the 
markings indistinct ; but as the season advances, his colors are 
sure to brighten perceptibly, and before he takes the northward 
journey in April, any little lady sparrow might feel proud of the 

165 




Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and Gray Sparrowy Bi 

attentions of so fine-looking and sweet- voiced a lover. The black, 
white, and yellow markings on his head are now clear and beau* 
tiful. His figure is plump and aristocratic. 

These sparrows are particularly sociable travellers, and cor- 
dially welcome many stragglers to their flocks — not during the 
migrations only, but even when winter's snow affords only the 
barest gleanings above it. Then they boldly peck about the 
dog's plate by the kitchen door and enter the barn-yard, calling 
their feathered friends with a sharp tseep to follow them. Seeds 
and insects are their chosen food, and were they not well wrapped 
in an adipose coat under their feathers, there must be many a 
winter night when they would go shivering, supperless, to their 
perch. 

In the dark of midnight one may sometimes hear the white- 
throat softly singing in its dreams. 



166 



GREEN, GREENISH GRAY, OLIVE, AND 
YELLOWISH OLIVE BIRDS 

Tree Swallow 

Ruby-throated Humming-bird 
Golden-crowned Kinglet 
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 
Solitary Vireo 
Red-eyed Vireo 
White-eyed Vireo 
Warbling Vireo 
Ovenbird 

Worm-eating Warbler 
Acadian Flycatcher 
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 
Black-throated Green Warbler 



Look also among the Olive-brown Birds, especially for the Cuckoos, Alice's 
and the Olive-backed Thrushes; and look in the yellow group, many of whose birds 
are olive also. See also females of the Red Crossbill, Orchard Oriole, Scarlet 
Tanager, Summer Tanager. 




GREEN, GREENISH GRAY, OLIVE, AND 
YELLOWISH OLIVE BIRDS 

Tree Swallow 

(Tacbycineta tricolor) Swallow family 

Called also: WHITE-BELLIED SWALLOW 

Length—*) to 6 inches. A little shorter than the English sparrow, 
but apparently much larger because of its wide wing-spread. 

Male— Lustrous dark steel-green above ; darker and shading into 
black on wings and tail, which is forked. Under parts soft 
white. 

Female— Duller than male. 

Range — North America, from Hudson Bay to Panama. 

Migrations — End of March. September or later. Summer resident 

" The stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times: and the turtle and the 
crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming." — Jeremiah, viii. 7. 

The earliest of the family to appear in the spring, the tree 
swallow comes skimming over the freshly ploughed fields with 
a wide sweep of the wings, in what appears to be a perfect 
ecstasy of flight. More shy of the haunts of man, and less gre- 
garious than its cousins, it is usually to be seen during migration 
flying low over the marshes, ponds, and streams with a few 
chosen friends, keeping up an incessant warbling twitter while 
performing their bewildering and tireless evolutions as they catch 
their food on the wing. Their white breasts flash in the sun- 
light, and it is only when they dart near you, and skim close 
along the surface of the water, that you discover their backs to 
be not black, but rich, dark green, glossy to iridescence. 

It is probable that these birds keep near the waterways 
because their favorite insects and wax-berries are more plentiful 
in such places ; but this peculiarity has led many people to the 

169 




Green, Greenish Gray, Olire, and Yellowish Olive Birds 

absurd belief that the tree swallow buries itself under the mud of 
ponds in winter in a state of hibernation. No bird's breathing 
apparatus is made to operate under mud. 

In unsettled districts these swallows nest in hollow trees, 
hence their name; but with that laziness that forms a part of the 
degeneracy of civilization, they now gladly accept the boxes 
about men's homes set up for the martins. Thousands of these 
beautiful birds have been shot on the Long Island marshes and 
sold to New York epicures for snipe. 



Ruby-throated Humming-bird 

(Trocbilus colubris) Humming-bird family 

Length — 3.5 to 3.75 inches. A trifle over half as long as the Eng- 
lish sparrow. The smallest bird we have. 

Male — Bright metallic green above; wings and tail darkest, with 
ruddy-purplish reflections and dusky- white tips on outer tail- 
quills. Throat and breast brilliant metallic-red in one light, 
orange flame in another, and dusky orange in another, 
according as the light strikes the plumage. Sides greenish; 
underneath lightest gray, with wnitish border outlining the 
brilliant breast. Bill long and needle-like. 

Female— Without the brilliant feathers on throat; darker gray 
beneath. Outer tail-quills are banded with black and tipped 
with white. 

Range — Eastern North America, from northern Canada to the 
Gulf of Mexico in summer. Winters in Central America. 

Migrations — May. October. Common summer resident 

This smallest, most exquisite and unabashed of our bird 
neighbors cannot be mistaken, for it is the only one of its kin 
found east of the plains and north of Florida, although about four 
hundred species, native only to the New World, have been named 
by scientists. How does it happen that this little tropical jewel 
alone flashes about our Northern gardens ? Does it never stir the 
spirit of adventure and emulation in the glistening breasts of its 
stay-at-home cousins in the tropics by tales of luxuriant tangles 
of honeysuckle and clematis on our cottage porches; of deep- 
cupped trumpet-flowers climbing over the walls of old-fashioned 
gardens, where larkspur, narcissus, roses, and phlox, that crowd 
the box-edged beds, are more gay and honey-laden than their 

170 



Green, Greenish Gray, Olive, and Yellowish Olive Birds 

little brains can picture? Apparently it takes only the wish to be 
in a place to transport one of these little fairies either from the 
honeysuckle trellis to the canna bed or from Yucatan to the Hud- 
son. It is easy to see how to will and to fly are allied in the 
minds of the humming-birds, as they are in the Latin tongue. 
One minute poised in midair, apparently motionless before a 
flower while draining the nectar from its deep cup— though the 
humming of its wings tells that it is suspended there by no magic 
— the next instant it has flashed out of sight as if a fairy's wand 
had made it suddenly invisible. Without seeing the hummer, it 
might be, and often is, mistaken for a bee improving the "shin- 
ing hour." 

At evening one often hears of a "humming-bird" going the 
rounds of the garden, but at this hour it is usually the sphinx- 
moth hovering above the flower-beds— the one other creature be- 
sides the bee for which the bird is ever mistaken. The postures 
and preferences of this beautiful large moth make the mistake a 
very natural one. 

The ruby-throat is strangely fearless and unabashed. It will 
dart among the vines on the veranda while the entire household 
are assembled there, and add its hum to that of the conversation 
in a most delightfully neighborly way. Once a glistening little 
sprite, quite undaunted by the size of an audience that sat almost 
breathless enjoying his beauty, thrust his bill into one calyx after 
another on a long sprig of honeysuckle held in the hand. 

And yet, with all its friendliness — or is it simply fearlessness? 
— the bird is a desperate duellist, and will Ionge his deadly blade 
into the jewelled breast of an enemy at the slightest provocation 
and quicker than thought. All the heat of his glowing throat 
seems to be transferred to his head while the fight continues, 
sometimes even to the death — a cruel, but marvellously beautiful 
sight as the glistening birds dart and tumble about beyond the 
range of peace-makers. 

High up in a tree, preferably one whose knots and lichen- 
covered excrescences are calculated to help conceal the nest that 
so cleverly imitates them, the mother humming-bird saddles her 
exquisite cradle to a horizontal limb. She lines it with plant- 
down, fluffy bits from cat-tails, and the fronds of fern, felting 
the material into a circle that an elm-leaf amply roofs over. Out- 
side, lichens or bits of bark blend the nest so harmoniously with 

171 




Green, Greenish Gray, Olive, and Yellowish Olive Birds 

its surroundings that one may look long and thoroughly before 
discovering it. Two infinitesimal, white eggs tax the nest ac- 
commodation to its utmost. 

In the mating season the female may be seen perching— a 
posture one rarely catches her gay lover in — preening her dainty 
but sombre feathers with ladylike nicety. The young birds do a 
great deal of perching before they gain the marvellously rapid 
wing-motions of maturity, but they are ready to fly within a 
week after they are hatched. By the time the trumpet-vine is in 
bloom they dart and sip and utter a shrill little squeak among the 
flowers, in company with the old birds. 

During the nest-building and incubation the male bird keeps 
so aggressively on the defensive that he often betrays to a hitherto 
unsuspecting intruder the location of his home. After the young 
birds have to be fed he is most diligent in collecting food, that 
consists not alone of the sweet juices of flowers, as is popularly 
supposed, but also of aphides and plant-lice that his proboscis-like 
tongue licks off the garden foliage literally like a streak of lightning. 

Both parents feed the young by regurgitation — a process 
disgusting to the human observer, whose stomach involuntarily 
revolts at the sight so welcome to the tiny, squeaking, hungry 
birds. 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 

(RegtUus calendula) Kinglet family 

Called also: RUBY-CROWNED WREN; RUBY-CROWNED 

WARBLER 

Length — 4.25 to 4.5 inches. About two inches smaller than the 
English sparrow. 

Male — Upper parts grayish olive-green, brighter nearer the tail; 
wings and tail dusky, edged with yellowish olive. Two 
whitish wing-bars. Breast and underneath light yellowish 
gray. In the adult male a vermilion spot on crown of his 
ash-gray head. 

Female— Similar, but without the vermilion crest. 

Range — North America. Breeds from northern United States 
northward. Winters from southern limits of its breeding 
range to Central America and Mexico. 

Migrations — October. April. Rarely a winter resident at the 
North. Most common during its migrations. 

172 



KUBY -CROWNED KINGLET. 



Green, Greenish Gray, Olive, and Yellowish Olive Birds 

A trifle larger than the golden-crowned kinglet, with a ver- 
milion crest instead of a yellow and flame one, and with a decided 
preference for a warmer winter climate, and the ruby-crown's chief 
distinguishing characteristics are told. These rather confusing 
relatives would be less puzzling if it were the habit of either to 
keep quiet long enough to focus the opera-glasses on their 
crowns, which it only rarely is while some particularly promising 
haunt of insects that lurk beneath the rough bark of the ever- 
greens has to be thoroughly explored. At all other times both 
kinglets keep up an incessant fluttering and twinkling among 
the twigs and leaves at the ends of the branches, jerking their 
tiny bodies from twig to twig in the shrubbery, hanging head 
downward, like a nuthatch, and most industriously feeding every 
second upon the tiny insects and larvae hidden beneath the bark 
and leaves. They seem to be the feathered expression of perpet- 
ual motion. And how dainty and charming these tiny sprites 
are! They are not at all shy; you may approach them quite 
close if you will, for the birds are simply too intent on their busi- 
ness to be concerned with yours. 

If a sharp lookout be kept for these ruby-crowned migrants, 
that too often slip away to the south before we know they have 
come, we notice that they appear about a fortnight ahead of the 
golden-crested species, since the mild, soft air of our Indian sum- 
mer is exactly to their liking. At this season there is nothing in 
the bird's "thin, metallic call-note, like a vibrating wire," to 
indicate that he is one of our finest songsters. But listen for him 
during the spring migration, when a love-song is already ripen- 
ing in his tiny throat. What a volume of rich, lyrical melody 
pours from the Norway spruce, where the little musician is simply 
practising to perfect the richer, fuller song that he sings to his 
nesting mate in the far north ! The volume is really tremendous, 
coming from so tiny a throat. Those who have heard it in 
northern Canada describe it as a flute-like and mellow warble 
full of intricate phrases past the imitating. Dr. Coues says of it : 
11 The kinglet's exquisite vocalization defies description." 

Curiously enough, the nest of this bird, that is not at all rare, 
has been discovered only six times. It would appear to be over- 
large for the tiny bird, until we remember that kinglets are wont 
to have a numerous progeny in their pensile, globular home. It 
is made of light, flimsy material— moss, strips of bark, and plant- 

173 



i 



Green, Greenish Gray, Olive, and Yellowish Olive Birds 

fibre well knit together and cosily lined with feathers, which must 
be a grateful addition to the babies, where they are reared in 
evergreens in cold, northern woods. 



Golden-crowned Kinglet 

(Regulus satrapa) Kinglet family 

Called also: GOLDEN-CROWNED GOLDCREST ; FIERY- 
CROWNED WREN 

Length— 4 to 4.25 inches. About two inches smaller than the 
English sparrow. 

Male — Upper parts grayish olive-green ; wings and tail dusky, 
margined with olive-green. Underneath soiled whitisn. 
Centre of crown bright orange, bordered by yellow and en- 
closed by black line. Cheeks gray ; a whitish line over the 
eye. 

Female — Similar, but centre of crown lemon-yellow and more 
grayish underneath. 

Range — North America generally. Breeds from northern United 
States northward. Winters chiefly from North Carolina to 
Central America, but many remain north all the year. 

Migrations-- September. April. Chiefly a winter resident south 
of Canada. 

If this cheery little winter neighbor would keep quiet long 
enough, we might have a glimpse of the golden crest that dis- 
tinguishes him from his equally lively cousin, the ruby-crowned ; 
but he is so constantly flitting about the ends of the twigs, peer- 
ing at the bark for hidden insects, twinkling his wings and flut- 
tering among the evergreens with more nervous restlessness than 
a vireo, that you may know him well before you have a glimpse 
of his tri-colored crown. 

When the autumn foliage is all aglow with yellow and flame 
this tiny sprite comes out of the north, where neither nesting nor 
moulting could rob him of his cheerful spirits. Except the hum- 
ming-bird and the winter wren, he is the smallest bird we have. 
And yet, somewhere stored up in his diminutive body, is warmth 
enough to withstand zero weather. With evident enjoyment of 
the cold, he calls out a shrill, wiry %ee, %ee, %ee, that rings merrily 
from the pines and spruces when our fingers are too numb to 
hold the opera-glasses in an attempt to follow his restless flittings 

174 



Green, Greenish Gray, Olive, and Yellowish Olive Birds 

from branch to branch. Is it one of the unwritten laws of birds 
that the smaller their bodies the greater their activity ? 

When you see one kinglet about, you may be sure there are 
others not far away, for, except in the nesting season, its habits 
are distinctly social, its friendliness extending to the humdrum 
brown creeper, the chickadees, and the nuthatches, in whose 
company it is often seen ; indeed, it is likely to be in almost any 
flock of the winter birds. They are a merry band as they go ex- 
ploring the trees together. The kinglet can hang upside down, 
too, like the other acrobats, many of whose tricks he has learned ; 
and it can pick off insects from a tree with as business-like an 
air as the brown creeper, but with none of that soulless bird's 
plodding precision. 

In the early spring, just before this busy little sprite leaves us 
to nest in Canada or Labrador — for heat is the one thing that he 
can't cheerfully endure — a gushing, lyrical song bursts from his 
tiny throat — a song whose volume is so out of proportion to the 
bird's size that Nuttall's classification of kinglets with wrens 
doesn't seem far wrong after all. 

Only rarely is a nest found so far south as the White Moun- 
tains. It is said to be extraordinarily large for so small a bird ; 
but that need not surprise us when we learn that as many as ten 
creamy-white eggs, blotched with brown and lavender, are no 
uncommon number for the pensile cradle to hold. How do the 
tiny parents contrive to cover so many eggs and to feed such a 
nestful of fledglings ? 

Solitary Vireo 

(Vireo solitarius) Vireo or Greenlet family 

Called also: BLUE-HEADED VIREO 

Length — 5.5 to 7 inches. A little smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Male— Dusky olive above ; head bluish gray, with a white line 
around the eye, spreading behind the eye into a patch. Be- 
neath whitish, with yellow-green wash on the sides. Wings 
dusky olive, with two distinct white bars. Tail dusky, some 
quills edged with white. 

Female — Similar, but her head is dusky olive. 

Range — United States to plains, and the southern British prov- 
inces. Winters in Florida and southward. 

i7S 




Green, Greenish Gray, Olive, and Yellowish Olive Birds 

Migrations— May. Early October. Common during migrations; 
more rarely a summer resident south of Massachusetts. 

By no means the recluse that its name would imply, the 
solitary vireo, while a bird of the woods, shows a charming curi- 
osity about the stranger with opera-glasses in hand, who has 
penetrated to the deep, swampy tangles, where it chooses to 
live. Peering at you through the green undergrowth with an 
eye that seems especially conspicuous because of its encircling 
white rim, it is at least as sociable and cheerful as any member of 
its family, and Mr. Bradford Torrey credits it with "winning 
tameness." "Wood-bird as it is," he says, "it will sometimes 
permit the greatest familiarities. Two birds 1 have seen, which 
allowed themselves to be stroked in the freest manner, while sit- 
ting on the eggs, and which ate from my hand as readily as any 
pet canary." 

The solitary vireo also builds a pensile nest, swung from the 
crotch of a branch, not so high from the ground as the yellow- 
throated vireo's nor so exquisitely finished, but still a beautiful 
little structure of pine-needles, plant-fibre, dry leaves, and twigs, 
all lichen-lined and bound and rebound with coarse spiders' webs. 

The distinguishing quality of this vireo's celebrated song is its 
tenderness : a pure, serene uplifting of its loving, trustful nature 
that seems inspired by a fine spirituality. 



Red-eyed Vireo 

(Vireo oliv actus) Vireo or Greenlet family 

Called also: THE PREACHER 

Length — 5.75 to 6.25 inches. A fraction smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Male and Female — Upper parts light olive-green; well-defined 
slaty-gray cap, with black marginal line, below which, and 
forming an exaggerated eyebrow, is a line of white. A 
brownish band runs from base of bill through the eye. The 
iris is ruby-red. Underneath white, shaded with light green- 
ish yellow on sides and on under tail and wing coverts. 

Range— United States to Rockies and northward. Winters in 
Central and South America. 

Migrations — April. October. Common summer resident. 

176 



K ED-EYED VIS HO 



Green, Greenish Gray, Olive, and Yellowish Olive Birds 

11 You see it — you know it— do you hear me? Do you be- 
lieve it ? " is Wilson Flagg's famous interpretation of the song of 
this commonest of all the vireos, that you cannot mistake with 
such a key. He calls the bird the preacher from its declamatory 
style : an up-and-down warble delivered with a rising inflection 
at the close and followed by an impressive silence, as if the little 
green orator were saying, " I pause for a reply." 

Notwithstanding its quiet coloring, that so closely resembles 
the leaves it hunts among, this vireo is rather more noticeable 
than its relatives because of its slaty cap and the black-and-white 
lines over its ruby eye, that, in addition to the song, are its marked 
characteristics. 

Whether she is excessively stupid or excessively kind, the 
mother-vireo has certainly won for herself no end of ridicule by 
allowing the cowbird to deposit a stray egg in the exquisitely 
made, pensile nest, where her own tiny white eggs are lying; 
and though the young cowbird crowd and worry her little fledg- 
lings and eat their dinner as fast as she can bring it in, no dis- 
pleasure or grudging is shown towards the dusky intruder that 
is sure to upset the rightful heirs out of the nest before they are 
able to fly. 

In the heat of a midsummer noon, when nearly every other 
bird's voice is hushed, and only the locust seems to rejoice in 
the fierce sunshine, the little red-eyed vireo goes persistently 
about its business of gathering insects from the leaves, not flit- 
ting nervously about like a warbler, or taking its food on the 
wing like a flycatcher, but patiently and industriously dining 
where it can, and singing as it goes. 

When a worm is caught it is first shaken against a branch to 
kill it before it is swallowed. Vireos haunt shrubbery and trees 
with heavy foliage, all their hunting, singing, resting, and home- 
building being done among the leaves — never on the ground. 

White-eyed Vireo 

(Vireo noveboracensis) Vireo or Greenlet family 

Length — 5 to 5.3 inches. An inch shorter than the English 
sparrow. 

Male and Female — Upper parts bright olive-green, washed with 
grayish. Throat and underneath white; the breast and 

177 




Green, Greenish Gray, Olive, and Yellowish Olive 

sides greenish yellow; wings have two distinct bars of 
yellowish white. Yellow line from beak to and around the 
eye, which has a white iris. Feathers of wings and tail 
brownish and edged with yellow. 

Range— United States to the Rockies, and to the Gulf regions and 
beyond in winter. 

Migrations — May. September. Summer resident 

11 Pertest of songsters," the white-eyed vireo makes what- 
ever neighborhood it enters lively at once. Taking up a resi- 
dence in the tangled shrubbery or thickety undergrowth, it 
immediately begins to scold like a crotchety old wren. It 
becomes irritated over the merest trifles — a passing bumblebee, 
a visit from another bird to its tangle, an unsuccessful peck at a 
gnat— anything seems calculated to rouse its wrath and set every 
feather on its little body a-trembling, while it sharply snaps out 
what might perhaps be freely constructed into " cuss- words." 

And yet the inscrutable mystery is that this virago meekly 
permits the lazy cowbird to deposit an egg in its nest, and will 
patiently sit upon it, though it is as large as three of her own tiny 
eggs; and when the little interloper comes out from his shell the 
mother-bird will continue to give it the most devoted care long 
after it has shoved her poor little starved babies out of the nest to 
meet an untimely death in the smilax thicket below. 

An unusual variety of expression distinguishes this bird's voice 
from the songs of the other vireos, which are apt to be monoto- 
nous, as they are incessant. If you are so fortunate to approach 
the white-eyed vireo before he suspects your presence, you may 
hear him amusing himself by jumbling together snatches of the 
songs of the other birds in a sort of potpourri; or perhaps he will 
be scolding or arguing with an imaginary foe, then dropping his 
voice and talking confidentially to himself. Suddenly he bursts 
into a charming, simple little song, as if the introspection had 
given him reason for real joy. AH these vocal accomplishments 
suggest the chat at once; but the minute your intrusion is discov- 
ered the sharp scolding, that is fairly screamed at you from an 
enraged little throat, leaves no possible shadow of a doubt as to 
the bird you have disturbed. It has the most emphatic call and 
song to be heard in the woods; it snaps its words off very 
short. " Cbick-a-rer chick" is its usual call-note, jerked out 
with great spitefulness. 

178 



r 



Green, Greenish Gray, Olive, and Yellowish Olive Birds 

Wilson thus describes the jealously guarded nest: "This 
bird builds a very neat little nest, often in the figure of an inverted 
cone; it is suspended by the upper end of the two sides, on the 
circular bend of a prickly vine, a species of smilax, that generally 
grows in low thickets. Outwardly it is constructed of various 
light materials, bits of rotten wood, fibres of dry stalks, of weeds, 
pieces of paper (commonly newspapers, an article almost always 
found about its nest, so that some of my friends have given it 
the name of the politician) ; all these materials are interwoven 
with the silk of the caterpillars, and the inside is lined with fine, 
dry grass and hair." 



Warbling Vireo 

(Vireo gilvus) Vireo or Greenlet family 

Length— 5. 5 to 6 inches. A little smaller than the English spar- 
row. 

Male and Female — Ashy olive-green above, with head and neck 
ash-colored. Dusky line over the eye. Underneath whitish, 
faintly washed with dull yellow, deepest on sides ; no bars 
on wings. 

Range — North America, from Hudson Bay to Mexico. 

Migrations — May. Late September or early October. Summer 
resident. 

This musical little bird shows a curious preference for rows 
of trees in the village street or by the roadside, where he can be 
sure of an audience to listen to his rich, continuous warble. 
There is a mellowness about his voice, which rises loud, but not 
altogether cheerfully, above the bird chorus, as if he were a gifted 
but slightly disgruntled contralto. Too inconspicuously dressed, 
and usually too high in the tree-top to be identified without opera- 
glasses, we may easily mistake him by his voice for one of the 
warbler family, which is very closely allied to the vireos. Indeed, 
this warbling vireo seems to be the connecting link between 
them. 

Morning and afternoon, but almost never in the evening, we 
may hear him rippling out song after song as he feeds on insects 
and berries about the garden. But this familiarity lasts only until 
nesting time, for off he goes with his little mate to some unfre- 

179 




Green, Greenish Gray, Olive, and Yellowish Olive Birds 

quented lane near a wood until their family is reared, when, with 
a perceptibly happier strain in his voice, he once more haunts our 
garden and row of elms before taking the southern journey. 



Ovenbird 
(Seiurus aurocapillus) Wood Warbler family 

Called also: GOLDEN-CROWNED THRUSH ; THE TEACHER; 
WOOD WAGTAIL ; GOLDEN-CROWNED WAGTAIL ; 
GOLDEN-CROWNED ACCENTOR 

Length — 6 to 6. 15 inches. Just a shade smaller than the English 

sparrow. 
Male and Female — Upper parts olive, with an orange -brown 

crown, bordered by black lines that converge toward the bill. 

Under parts white; breast spotted and streaked on the sides. 

White eye-ring. 

Range— United States, to Pacific slope. 

Migrations — May. October. Common summer resident. 

Early in May you may have the good fortune to see this little 
bird of the woods strutting in and out of the garden shrubbery 
with a certain mock dignity, like a child wearing its father's 
boots. Few birds can walk without appearing more or less 
ridiculous, and however gracefully and prettily it steps, this 
amusing little wagtail is no exception. When seen at all — which 
is not often, for it is shy — it is usually on the ground, not far 
from the shrubbery or a woodland thicket, under which it will 
quickly dodge out of sight at the merest suspicion of a footstep. 
To most people the bird is only a voice calling, M teacher, 
teacher, teacher, TEACHER, TEACHER!" as Mr. Burroughs 
has interpreted the notes that go off in pairs like a series of little 
explosions, softly at first, then louder and louder and more shrill 
until the bird that you at first thought far away seems to be 
shrieking his penetrating crescendo into your very ears. But 
you may look until you are tired before you find him in the high, 
dry wood, never near water. 

In the driest parts of the wood, where the ground is thickly 
carpeted with dead leaves, you may some day notice a little bunch 
of them, that look as if a plant, in pushing its way up through 
the ground, had raised the leaves, rootlets, and twigs a trifle* 

180 



Green, Greenish Grey, OHtc, end Yellowish Olive Birds 

Examine the spot more carefully, and on one side you find an 
opening, and within the ball of earth, softly lined with grass, lie 
four or five cream-white, speckled eggs. It is only by a happy 
accident that this nest of the ovenbird is discovered. The con- 
cealment could not be better. It is this peculiarity of nest con- 
struction — in shape like a Dutch oven — that has given the bird 
what DeKay considers its "trivial name." Not far from the nest 
the parent birds scratch about in the leaves, like diminutive barn- 
yard fowls, for the grubs and insects hiding under them. But at 
the first suspicion of an intruder their alarm becomes pitiful. 
Panic-stricken, they become fairly limp with fear, and drooping 
her wings and tail, the mother-bird drags herself hither and 
thither over the ground. 

As utterly bewildered as his mate, the male darts, flies, and 
tumbles about through the low branches, jerking and wagging 
his tail in nervous spasms until you have beaten a double-quick 
retreat. 

In nesting time, at evening, a very few have heard the " lux- 
urious nuptial song " of the ovenbird ; but it is a song to haunt 
the memory forever afterward. Burroughs appears to be the 
first writer to record this " rare bit of bird melody." " Mounting 
by easy flight to the top of the tallest tree," says the author of 
" Wake-Robin," "the ovenbird launches into the air with a sort 
of suspended, hovering flight, like certain of the finches, and 
bursts into a perfect ecstasy of song — clear, ringing, copious, 
rivalling the goldfinch's in vivacity and the linnet's in melody." 



Worm-eating" Warbler 

( Helmintberus vermivorusj Wood Warbler family 

Length— 5.50 inches. Less than an inch shorter than the English 
sparrow. 

Male and Female — Greenish olive above. Head yellowish brown, 
with two black stripes through crown to the nape; also 
black lines from the eyes to neck. Under parts buffy and 
white. 

Range — Eastern parts of United States. Nests as far north as 
southern Illinois and southern Connecticut. Winters in the 
Gulf States and southward. 

Migrations — May. September. Summer resident 

181 




Green, Greenish Gray, Okre, and Yellowish Olire 

In the Delaware Valley and along the same parallel, this 
inconspicuous warbler is abundant, but north of New Jersey it 
is rare enough to give an excitement to the day on which you 
discover it. No doubt it is commoner than we suppose, for its 
coloring blends so admirably with its habitats that it is probably 
very often overlooked. Its call-note, a common chirp, has noth- 
ing distinguishing about it, and all ornithologists confess to hav- 
ing been often misled by its song into thinking it came from the 
chipping sparrow. It closely resembles that of the pine warbler 
also. If it were as nervously active as most warblers, we should 
more often discover it, but it is quite as deliberate as a vireo, 
and in the painstaking way in which it often circles around a 
tree while searching for spiders and other insects that infest the 
trunks, it reminds us of the brown creeper. Sunny slopes and 
hillsides covered with thick undergrowth are its preferred foraging 
and nesting haunts. It is often seen hopping directly on the dry 
ground, where it places its nest, and it never mounts far above it 
The well-drained, sunny situation for the home is chosen with 
the wisdom of a sanitary expert. 

Acadian Flycatcher 

(Empidonax virescens) Flycatcher family 

Called also: SMALL GREEN -CRESTED FLYCATCHER; 

SMALL PEWEE 

Length— 5.75 to 6 inches. A trifle smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Male — Dull olive above. Two conspicuous yellowish wing-bars. 
Throat white, shading into pale yellow on breast. Light 
gray or white underneath. Upper part of bill black; lower 
mandible flesh-color. White eye-ring. 

Female — Greener above and more yellow below. 

Range— From Canada to Mexico, Central America, and West 
Indies. Most common in south temperate latitudes. Win- 
ters in southerly limit of range. 

Migrations — April. September. Summer resident 

When all our northern landscape takes on the exquisite, soft 
green, gray, and yellow tints of early spring, this little flycatcher, 
in perfect color-harmony with the woods it darts among, comes 

182 



Green, Greenish Gray, Olhre, and Yellowish Olire Birds 

out of the south. It might be a leaf that is being blown about, 
touched by the sunshine filtering through the trees, and partly 
shaded by the young foliage casting its first shadows. 

Woodlands, through which small streams meander lazily, 
inviting swarms of insects to their boggy shores, make ideal 
hunting grounds for the Acadian flycatcher. It chooses a low 
rather than a high, conspicuous perch, that other members of its 
family invariably select; and from such a lookout it may be seen 
launching into the air after the passing gnat— darting downward, 
then suddenly mounting upward in its aerial hunt, the vigorous 
clicks of the beak as it closes over its tiny victims testifying to 
the bird's unerring aim and its hearty appetite. 

While perching, a constant tail-twitching is kept up; and a 
faint, fretful " Tsbee-hee, tsbee-kee" escapes the bird when inac- 
tively waiting for a dinner to heave in sight. 

In the Middle Atlantic States its peeping sound and the click- 
ing of its particolored bill are infrequently heard in the village 
streets in the autumn, when the shy and solitary birds are enticed 
from the deep woods by a prospect of a more plentiful diet of 
insects, attracted by the fruit in orchards and gardens. 

Never far from the ground, on two or more parallel branches, 
the shallow, unsubstantial nest is laid. Some one has cleverly 
described it as "a tuft of hay caught by the limb from a load 
driven under it," but this description omits all mention of the 
quantities of blossoms that must be gathered to line the cradle 
for the tiny, pure white eggs. 

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 

(Empidonax flaviventrisj Flycatcher family 

Length—*, to 5.6 inches. About an inch smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Male — Rather dark, but true olive-green above. Throat and 
breast yellowish olive, shading into pale yellow underneath, 
including wing linings and under tail coverts. Wings have 
yellowish bars. Whitish ring around eye. Upper part of 
bill black, under part whitish or flesh-colored. 

Fetna/e— Smaller, with brighter yellow under parts and more 
decidedly yellow wing-bars. 

Range— North America, from Labrador to Panama, and westward 
from the Atlantic to the plains. Winters in Central America, 

183 




Green, GreeoUh Gray, OUrt, and Yellowish Olive Birds 

Migrations— May. September. Summer resident. More com- 
monly a migrant only. 

This is the most yellow of the small flycatchers and the only 
Eastern species with a yellow instead of a white throat Without 
hearing its call-note, " p$e-ek-pse-ek $ " which it abruptly sneezes 
rather than utters, it is quite impossible, as it darts among the 
trees, to tell it from the Acadian flycatcher, with which even 
Audubon confounded it. Both these little birds choose the same 
sort of retreats— well-timbered woods near a stream that attracts 
myriads of insects to its spongy shores— and both are rather shy 
and solitary. The yellow-bellied species has a far more northerly 
range, however, than its Southern relative or even the small 
green-crested flycatcher. It is rare in the Middle States, not 
common even in New England, except in the migrations, but 
from the Canada border northward its soft, plaintive whistle, 
which is its love-song, may be heard in every forest where it 
nests. All the flycatchers seem to make a noise with so much 
struggle, such convulsive jerkings of head and tail, and flutterings 
of the wings that, considering the scanty success of their musical 
attempts, it is surprising they try to lift their voices at all when 
the effort almost literally lifts them off their feet. 

While this little flycatcher is no less erratic than its Acadian 
cousin, its nest is never slovenly. One couple had their home in 
a wild-grape bower in Pennsylvania ; a Virginia creeper in New 
Jersey supported another cradle that was fully twenty feet above 
the ground ; but in Labrador, where the bird has its chosen 
breeding grounds, the bulky nest is said to be invariably placed 
either in the moss by the brookside or in some old stump, should 
the locality be too swampy. 



Black-throated Green Warbler 

(Dendroica virens) Wood Warbler family 

Length — 5 inches. Over an inch smaller than the English sparrow. 

Male — Back and crown of head bright yellowish olive-green. 
Forehead, band over eye, cheeks, and sides of neck rich 
yellow. Throat, upper breast, and stripe along sides black, 
underneath yellowish white. Wings and tail brownish 
olive, the former with two white bars, the latter with much 

184 



Green, Greenish Gray, Olive, and Yellowish Olive Birds 

white in outer quills. In autumn, plumage resembling the 
female's. 

Female— Similar ; chin yellowish ; throat and breast dusky, the 
black being mixed with yellowish. 

Jtange— Eastern North America, from Hudson Bay to Central 
America and Mexico. Nests north of Illinois and New York. 
Winters in tropics. 

Migrations — May. October. Common summer resident north 
of New Jersey. 

There can be little difficulty in naming a bird so brilliantly 
and distinctly marked as this green, gold, and black warbler, that 
lifts up a few pure, sweet, tender notes, loud enough to attract 
attention when he visits the garden. "See-see, see-saw," he 
sings, but there is a tone of anxiety betrayed in the simple, syl- 
van strain that always seems as if the bird needed reassuring, 
possibly due to the rising inflection, like an interrogative, of the 
last notes. 

However abundant about our homes during the migrations, 
this warbler, true to the family instinct, retreats to the woods to 
nest— not always so far away as Canada, the nesting ground of 
most warblers, for in many Northern States the bird is commonly 
found throughout the summer. Doubtless it prefers tall ever- 
green trees for its mossy, grassy nest; but it is not always par- 
ticular, so that the tree be a tall one with a convenient fork in an 
upper branch. 

Early in September increased numbers emerge from the 
woods, the plumage of the male being less brilliant than when 
we saw it last, as if the family cares of the summer had proved 
too taxing. For nearly a month longer they hunt incessantly, with 
much flitting about the leaves and twigs at the ends of branches 
in the shrubbery and evergreens, for the tiny insects that the 
warblers must devour by the million during their all too brief visit. 



185 




BIRDS CONSPICUOUSLY YELLOW 

AND ORANGE 

Yellow-throated Vireo 

American Goldfinch 

Evening Grosbeak 

Blue-winged Warbler 

Canadian Warbler 

Hooded Warbler 

Kentucky Warbler 

Magnolia Warbler 

Mourning Warbler 

Nashville Warbler 

Pine Warbler 

Prairie Warbler 

Wilson's Warbler or Blackcap 

Yellow Warbler or Summer Yellowbird 

Yellow Redpoll Warbler 

Yellow-breasted Chat 

Maryland Yellowthroat 
Blackburnian Warbler 
Redstart 
Baltimore Oriole 



Look also among the Yellowish Olive Birds in the preceding group; and among 
the Brown Birds for the Meadowlark and Flicker. See also Parula Warbler (Slate) and 
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker (Black and White). 




BIRDS CONSPICUOUSLY YELLOW AND 

ORANGE 

Yellow-throated Vireo 

(Vireo flavifrons) Vireo or Greenlet family 

Length— 5. 5 to 6 inches. A little smaller than the English spar- 
row. 

Male and Female — Lemon-yellow on throat, upper breast ; line 
around the eye and forehead. Yellow, shading into olive- 

freen, on head, back, and shoulders. Underneath white, 
ail dark brownish, edged with white. Wings a lighter 
shade, with two white bands across, and some quills edged 
with white. 

Range— North America, from Newfoundland to Gulf of Mexico, 
and westward to the Rockies. Winters in the tropics. 

Migrations — May. September. Spring and autumn migrant ; 
more rarely resident. 

This is undoubtedly the beauty of the vireo family — a group 
of neat, active, stoutly built, and vigorous little birds of yellow, 
greenish, and white plumage; birds that love the trees, and 
whose feathers reflect the coloring of the leaves they hide, hunt, 
and nest among. "We have no birds," says Bradford Torrey, 
"so unsparing of their music: they sing from morning till night." 

The yellow-throated vireo partakes of all the family charac- 
teristics, but, in addition to these, it eclipses all its relatives in the 
brilliancy of its coloring and in the art of nest-building, which it 
has brought to a state of hopeless perfection. No envious bird 
need try to excel the exquisite finish of its workmanship. Hap- 
pily, it has wit enough to build its pensile nest high above the 
reach of small boys, usually suspending it from a branch over- 
hanging running water that threatens too precipitous a bath to 
tempt the young climbers. 

However common in the city parks and suburban gardens 
this bird may be during the migrations, it delights in a secluded 

189 




Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 

retreat overgrown with tall trees and near a stream, sucfr as is 
dear to the solitary vireo as well when the nesting time ap- 
proaches. High up in the trees we hear its rather sad, persistent 
strain, that is more in harmony with the dim forest than with the 
gay flower garden, where, if the truth must be told, its song is 
both monotonous and depressing. Mr. Bicknell says it is the 
only vireo that sings as it flies. 

American Goldfinch 

(Spinus tristis) Finch family 

Called also: WILD CANARY ; YELLOWB1RD ; THISTLE 

BIRD 

Length — 5 to 5.2 inches. About an inch smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Male — In summer plumage : Bright yellow, except on crown of 
head, frontlet, wings, and tail, which are black. Whitish 
markings on wings give effect of bands. Tail with white on 
inner webs. In winter plumage : Head yellow-olive ; no 
frontlet ; back drab, with reddish tinge ; shoulders and throat 
yellow ; soiled brownish white underneath. 

Female — Brownish olive above, yellowish white beneath. 

Range — North America, from the tropics to the Fur Countries and 
westward to the Columbia River and California. Common 
throughout its range. 

Migrations — May. October. Common summer resident, fre- 
quently seen throughout the winter as well. 

An old field, overgrown with thistles and tall, stalky wild 
flowers, is the paradise of the goldfinches, summer or winter. 
Here they congregate in happy companies while the sunshine 
and goldenrod are as bright as their feathers, and cling to the 
swaying, slender stems that furnish an abundant harvest, daintily 
lunching upon the fluffy seeds of thistle blossoms, pecking at the 
mullein-stalks, and swinging airily among the asters and Michael- 
mas daisies ; or, when snow covers the same field with a glis- 
tening crust, above which the brown stalks offer only a meagre 
dinner, the same birds, now sombrely clad in winter feathers, 
cling to the swaying stems with cheerful fortitude. 

At your approach, the busy company rises on the wing, and 
with peculiar, wavy flight rise and fall through the air, marking 

.19° 



Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 

each undulation with a cluster of notes, sweet and clear, that 
come floating downward from the blue ether, where the birds 
seem to bound along exultant in their motion and song alike. 

In the spring the plumage of the goldfinch, which has been 
drab and brown through the winter months, is moulted or shed— 
a change that transforms the bird from a sombre Puritan into the 
gayest of cavaliers, and seems to wonderfully exalt his spirits. 
He bursts into a wild, sweet, incoherent melody that might be 
the outpouring from two or three throats at once instead of one, 
expressing his rapture somewhat after the manner of the canary, 
although his song lacks the variety and the finish of his caged 
namesake. What tone of sadness in his music the man found 
who applied the adjective tristis to his scientific name it is diffi- 
cult to imagine when listening to the notes that come bubbling 
up from the bird's happy heart. 

With plumage so lovely and song so delicious and dreamy, 
it is small wonder that numbers of our goldfinches are caught and 
caged, however inferior their song may be to the European species 
recently introduced into this country. Heard in Central Park, 
New York, where they were set at liberty, the European gold- 
finches seemed to sing with more abandon, perhaps, but with no 
more sweetness than their American cousins. The song remains 
at its best all through the summer months, for the bird is a long 
wooer. It is nearly July before he mates, and not until the tardy 
cedar birds are house-building in the orchard do the happy pair 
begin to carry grass, moss, and plant-down to a crotch of some 
tall tree convenient to a field of such wild flowers as will furnish 
food to a growing family. Doubtless the birds wait for this food 
to be in proper condition before they undertake parental duties at 
all — the most plausible excuse for their late nesting. The cares 
evolving from four to six pale-blue eggs will suffice to quiet the 
father's song for the winter by the first of September, and fade all 
the glory out of his shining coat. As pretty a sight as any garden 
offers is when a family of goldfinches alights on the top of a sun- 
flower to feast upon the oily seeds— a perfect harmony of brown 
and gold. 



191 







Coatpicnontl j Yellow and Orange 



Evening Grosbeak 

(Coccotbraustes vespertinus) Finch family 

Length — 8 inches. Two inches shorter than the robin. 

Male— Forehead, shoulders, and underneath clear yellow; dull 
yellow on lower back; sides of the head, throat, and breast 
olive-brown. Crown, tail, and wings black, the latter with 
white secondary feathers. Bill heavy and blunt, and yellow. 

Female— Brownish gray, more or less suffused with yellow. 
Wings and tail blackish, with some white feathers. 

Range— Interior of North America. Resident from Manitoba 
northward. Common winter visitor in northwestern United 
States and Mississippi Valley ; casual winter visitor in north- 
ern Atlantic States. 

In the winter of 1889-90 Eastern people had the rare treat of 
becoming acquainted with this common bird of the Northwest, 
that, in one of its erratic travels, chose to visit New England and 
the Atlantic States, as far south as Delaware, in great numbers. 
Those who saw the evening grosbeaks then remember how 
beautiful their yellow plumage — a rare winter tint — looked in the 
snow-covered trees, where small companies of the gentle and even 
tame visitors enjoyed the buds and seeds of the maples, elders, 
and evergreens. Possibly evening grosbeaks were in vogue for 
the next season's millinery, or perhaps Eastern ornithologists 
had a sudden zeal to investigate their structural anatomy. At 
any rate, these birds, whose very tameness, that showed slight 
acquaintance with mankind, should have touched the coldest 
heart, received the warmest kind of a reception from hot shoU 
The few birds that escaped to the solitudes of Manitoba could not 
be expected to tempt other travellers eastward by an account of 
their visit. The bird is quite likely to remain rare in the East. 

But in the Mississippi Valley and throughout the northwest, 
companies of from six to sixty may be regularly counted upon as 
winter neighbors on almost every farm. Here the females keep 
up a busy chatting, like a company of cedar birds, and the males 
punctuate their pauses with a single shrill note that gives little 
indication of their vocal powers. But in the solitude of the north- 
ern forests the love-song is said to resemble the robin's at the 
start. Unhappily, after a most promising beginning, the bird 
suddenly stops, as if he were out of breath. 

192 



} 



BLUE WINGED YELLOW WARBLEK. 



Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 

Blue-winged Warbler 

( Helmintbopbila pinus) Wood Warbler family 
Called also: BLUE- WINGED YELLOW WARBLER 

Length— 4.75 inches. An inch and a half shorter than the Eng- 
lish sparrow. 

Afale— Crown of head and all under parts bright yellow. Back 
olive-green. Wings and tail bluish slate, the former with 
white bars, and three outer tail quills with large white 
patches on their inner webs. 

Female — Paler and more olive. 

.Any*— Eastern United States, from southern New England and 
Minnesota, the northern limit of its nesting range, to Mexico 
and Central America, where it winters. 

Migrations — May. September. Summer resident. 

In the naming of warblers, bluish slate is the shade intended 
when blue is mentioned ; so that if you see a dainty little olive 
and yellow bird with slate-colored wings and tail hunting for 
spiders in the blossoming orchard or during the early autumn, 
you will have seen the beautiful blue-winged warbler. It has a 
rather leisurely way of hunting, unlike the nervous, restless flit- 
ting about from twig to twig that is characteristic of many of its 
many cousins. The search is thorough— bark, stems, blossoms, 
leaves are inspected for larvae and spiders, with many pretty 
motions of head and body. Sometimes, hanging with head 
downward, the bird suggests a yellow titmouse. After blossom 
time a pair of these warblers, that have done serviceable work in 
the orchard in their all too brief stay, hurry off to dense woods 
to nest. They are usually to be seen in pairs at all seasons. Not 
to "high coniferous trees in northern forests" — the Mecca of 
innumerable warblers — but to scrubby, second growth of wood- 
land borders, or lower trees in the heart of the woods, do these 
dainty birds retreat. There they build the usual warbler nest of 
twigs, bits of bark, leaves, and grasses, but with this peculiarity : 
the numerous leaves with which the nest is wrapped all have 
their stems pointing upward. Mr. Frank Chapman has admirably 
defined their song as consisting of " two drawled, wheezy notes 
—swee-chee, the first inhaled, the second exhaled." 

i93 




Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 

Canadian Warbler 

(Sylvania canadensis) Wood Warbler family 

Catted also: CANADIAN FLYCATCHER; SPOTTED CANA- 
DIAN WARBLER 

% 

Length— 5 to 5.6 inches. About an inch shorter than the English 
sparrow. 

Male — Immaculate bluish ash above, without marks on wings or 
tail ; crown spotted with arrow-shaped black marks. Cheeks, 
line from bill to eye, and underneath clear yellow. Black 
streaks forming a necklace across the breast. 

Female — Paler, with necklace indistinct. 

Range— North America, from Manitoba and Labrador to tropics. 

Migrations — May. September. Summer resident ; most abun- 
dant in migrations. 

Since about one-third of all the song-birds met with in a 
year's rambles are apt to be warblers, the novice cannot devote 
his first attention to a better group, confusing though it is by 
reason of its size and the repetition of the same colors in so many 
bewildering combinations. Monotony, however, is unknown in 
the warbler family. Whoever can rightly name every warbler, 
male and female, on sight is uniquely accomplished. 

The jet necklace worn on this bird's breast is its best mark 
of identification. Its form is particularly slender and graceful, as 
might be expected in a bird so active, one to whom a hundred 
tiny insects barely afford a dinner that must often be caught piece- 
meal as it flies past. To satisfy its appetite, which cannot but be 
dainty in so thoroughly charming a bird, it lives in low, boggy 
woods, in such retreats as Wilson's black-capped warbler selects 
for a like reason. Neither of these two "flycatcher" warblers 
depends altogether on catching insects on the wing; countless 
thousands are picked off the under sides of leaves and about the 
stems of twigs in true warbler fashion. 

The Canadian's song is particularly loud, sweet, and viva- 
cious. It is hazardous for any one without long field practice to 
try to name any warbler by its song alone, but possibly this one's 
animated music is as characteristic as any. 

The nest is built on the ground on a mossy bank or elevated 

194 



Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 

into the root crannies of some large tree, where there is much 
water in the woods. Bits of bark, dead wood, moss, and fine 
rootlets, all carefully wrapped with leaves, go to make the pretty 
cradle. Unhappily, the little Canada warblers are often cheated 
out of their natural rights, like so many other delightful song- 
birds, by the greedy interloper that the cowbird deposits in their 
nest. 

Hooded Warbler 

(Sylvania mitrata) Wood Warbler family 

Length — 5 to 5.75 inches. About an inch shorter than the Eng- 
lish sparrow. 

Male — Head, neck, chin, and throat black like a hood in mature 
male specimens only. Hood restricted, or altogether want- 
ing in female and young. Upper parts rich olive. Forehead, 
cheeks, and underneath yellow. Some conspicuous white 
on tail feathers. 

Female — Duller, and with restricted cowl. 

Range — United States east of Rockies, and from southern Michi- 
gan and southern New England to West Indies and tropical 
America, where it winters. Very local. 

Migrations — May. September. Summer resident. 

This beautifully marked, sprightly little warbler might be 
mistaken in his immaturity for the yellowthroat ; and as it is 
said to take him nearly three years to grow his hood, with the 
completed cowl and cape, there is surely sufficient reason here 
for the despair that often seizes the novice in attempting to distin- 
guish the perplexing warblers. Like its Southern counterpart, 
the hooded warbler prefers wet woods and low trees rather than 
high ones, for much of its food consists of insects attracted by the 
dampness, and many of them must be taken on the wing. Be- 
cause of its tireless activity the bird's figure is particularly slender 
and graceful — a trait, too, to which we owe all the glimpses of it 
we are likely to get throughout the summer. It has a curious 
habit of spreading its tail, as if it wished you to take special 
notice of the white spots that adorn it; not flirting it, as the red- 
start does his more gorgeous one, but simply opening it like a fan 
as it flies and darts about. 

Its song, which is particularly sweet and graceful, and with 

*95 




Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 

more variation than most warblers' music, has been translated 
"Cbe-we-eo-tsip, tsip, cbe-we-eo," again interpreted by Mr. Chap- 
man as " You must come to the woods, or you won't see me." 

Kentucky Warbler 

(Geotblypis formosa) Wood Warbler family 

Length — 5.5 inches. Nearly an inch shorter than the English 
sparrow. 

Male— Upper parts olive-green; under parts yellow; a yellow 
line from the bill passes over and around the eye. Crown 
of head, patch below the eye, and line defining throat, black. 

Female — Similar, but paler, and with grayish instead of black 
markings. 

Range — United States eastward from the Rockies, and from Iowa 
and Connecticut to Central America, where it winters. 

Migrations — May. September. Summer resident. 

No bird is common at the extreme limits of its range, and so 
this warbler has a reputation for rarity among the New England 
ornithologists that would surprise people in the middle South and 
Southwest. After all that may be said in the books, a bird is 
either common or rare to the individual who may or may not 
have happened to become acquainted with it in any part of its 
chosen territory. Plenty of people in Kentucky, where we might 
judge from its name this bird is supposed to be most numerous, 
have never seen or heard of it, while a student on the Hudson 
River, within sight of New York, knows it intimately. It also 
nests regularly in certain parts of the Connecticut Valley. " Who 
is my neighbor ? " is often a question difficult indeed to answer 
where birds are concerned. In the chapter, " Spring at the Cap- 
ital," which, with every reading of "Wake Robin," inspires the 
bird-lover with fresh zeal, Mr. Burroughs writes of the Kentucky 
warbler: " I meet with him in low, damp places, in the woods, 
usually on the steep sides of some little run. 1 hear at intervals 
a clear, strong, bell-like whistle or warble, and presently catch a 
glimpse of the bird as he jumps up from the ground to take an 
insect or worm from the under side of a leaf. This is his charac- 
teristic movement. He belongs to the class of ground warblers, 
and his range is very low, indeed lower than that of any other 
species with which 1 am acquainted." 

196 



Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 

Like the ovenbird and comparatively few others, for most 
birds hop over the ground, the Kentucky warbler walks rapidly 
about, looking for insects under the fallen leaves, and poking his 
inquisitive beak into every cranny where a spider may be lurk- 
ing. The bird has a pretty, conscious way of flying up to a 
perch, a few feet above the ground, as a tenor might advance 
towards the footlights of a stage, to pour forth his clear, pene- 
trating whistle, that in the nesting season especially is repeated 
over and over again with tireless persistency. 



Magnolia Warbler 

(Dendroica maculosa) Wood Warbler family 

Called also: BLACK-AND-YELLOW WARBLER; SPOTTED 
WARBLER ; BLUE-HEADED YELLOW-RUMPED WAR- 
BLER 

Length — 4.75 to 5 inches. About an inch and a half smaller than 
the English sparrow. 

Male— Crown of head slate-color, bordered on either side by a 
white line ; a black line, apparently running through the eye, 
and a yellow line below it, merging into the yellow throat. 
Lower t)ack and under parts yellow. Back, wings, and tail 
blackish olive. Large white patch on the wings, and the 
middle of the tail-quills white. Throat and sides heavily 
streaked with black. 

Female — Has greener back, is paler, and has less distinct markings. 

Itange— North America, from Hudson Bay to Panama. Summers 
from northern Michigan and northern New England north- 
ward ; winters in Central America and Cuba. 

Migrations — May. October. Spring and summer migrant. 

In spite of the bird's name, one need not look for it in the 
glossy magnolia trees of the southern gardens more than in 
the shrubbery on New England lawns, and during the migra- 
tions it is quite as likely to be found in one place as in the other. 
Its true preference, however, is for the spruces and hemlocks of 
its nesting ground in the northern forests. For these it deserts us 
after a brief hunt about the tender, young spring foliage and blos- 
soms, where the early worm lies concealed, and before we have 
become so well acquainted with its handsome clothes that we 
will instantly recognize it in the duller ones it wears on its return 

197 




Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 

trip in the autumn. The position of the white marks on the tail 
feathers of this warbler, however, is the clue by which it may be 
identified at any season or any stage of its growth. If the white 
bar runs across the middle of the warbler's tail, you can be sure 
of the identity of the bird. A nervous and restless hunter, it 
nevertheless seems less shy than many of its kin. Another pleas- 
ing characteristic is that it brings back with it in October the loud, 
clear, rapid whistle with which it has entertained its nesting mate 
in the Canada woods through the summer. 



Mourning Warbler 

(Geotblypis Philadelphia) Wood Warbler family 

Called also : MOURNING GROUND WARBLER 

Length—*) to 5.6 inches. About an inch smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Male — Gray head and throat ; the breast gray ; the feathers with 
black edges that make them look crinkled, like crape. The 
black markings converge into a spot on upper breast Upper 
parts, except head, olive. Underneath rich yellow. 

Female— Similar, but duller; throat and breast buff and dusky 
where the male is black. Back olive-green. 

Range — "Eastern North America; breeds from eastern Nebraska, 
northern New York, and Nova Scotia northward, and south- 
ward along the Alleghanies to Pennsylvania. Winters in 
the tropics." — Chapman. 

Migrations — May. September. Spring and autumn migrant 

Since Audubon met with but one of these birds in his inces- 
sant trampings, and Wilson secured only an immature, imper- 
fectly marked specimen for his collection, the novice may feel no 
disappointment if he fails to make the acquaintance of this "gay 
and agreeable widow." And yet the shy and wary bird is not 
unknown in Central Park, New York City. Even where its 
clear, whistled song strikes the ear with a startling novelty that 
invites to instant pursuit of the singer, you may look long and 
diligently through the undergrowth without finding it Dr. 
Merriam says the whistle resembles the syllables " true, true, 
true, tru, too, the voice rising on the first three syllables and 
falling on the last two." In the nesting season this song is 

198 



Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 

repeated over and over again with a persistency worthy of a 
Kentucky warbler. It is delivered from a perch within a few feet 
of the ground, as high as the bird seems ever inclined to ascend. 



Nashville Warbler 

( Helmintbopbila ruficapilla) Wood Warbler family 

Length— 4.75 to 5 inches. About an inch and a half smaller than 
the English sparrow. 

J/a/*— Olive-green above; yellow underneath. Slate-gray head 
and neck. Partially concealed chestnut patch on crown. 
Wings and tail olive-brown and without markings. 

Female— Dull olive and paler, with brownish wash underneath. 

Range — North America, westward to the plains ; north to the Fur 
Countries, and south to Central America and Mexico. Nests 
north of Illinois and northern New England ; winters in 
tropics. 

Migrations— April. September or October. 

It must not be thought that this beautiful warbler confines 
itself to backyards in the city of Nashville simply because Wil- 
son discovered it near there and gave it a local name, for the 
bird's actual range reaches from the fur trader's camp near Hud- 
son Bay to the adobe villages of Mexico and Central America, 
and over two thousand miles east and west in the United States. 
It chooses open rather than dense woods and tree-bordered fields. 
It seems to have a liking for hemlocks and pine trees, especially 
if near a stream that attracts insects to its shores ; and Dr. War- 
ren notes that in Pennsylvania he finds small flocks of these war- 
blers in the autumn migration, feeding in the willow trees near 
little rivers and ponds. Only in the northern parts of the United 
States is their nest ever found, for the northern British provinces 
are their preferred nesting ground. One seen in the White 
Mountains was built on a mossy, rocky ledge, directly on the 
ground at the foot of a pine tree, and made of rootlets, moss, 
needles from the trees overhead, and several layers of leaves out- 
side, with a lining of fine grasses that cradled four white, speckled 
eggs. 

Audubon likened the bird's feeble note to the breaking of 
twigs. 

199 




ContpicaoiMly Yellow and Orange 



Pine Warbler 

(Dendroica vigorsii) Wood Warbler family 

Called also: PINE-CREEPING WARBLER 

Length— 5.5 to 6 inches. A trifle smaller than the English spar- 
row. 

Male — Yellowish olive above; clear yellow below, shading to 

frayish white, with obscure dark streaks on side of breast 
wo whitish wing-bars ; two outer tail feathers partly white. 

Female— Duller ; grayish white only faintly tinged with yellow 
underneath. 

Range — North America, east of the Rockies; north to Manitoba, 
and south to Florida and the Bahamas. Winters from south- 
ern Illinois southward. 

Migrations— March or April. October or later. Common sum- 
mer resident. 

The pine warbler closely presses the myrtle warbler for the 
first place in the ranks of the family migrants, but as the latter 
bird often stays north all winter, it is usually given the palm. 
Here is a warbler, let it be recorded, that is fittingly named, for 
it is a denizen of pine woods only ; most common in the long 
stretches of pine forests at the south and in New York and New 
England, and correspondingly uncommon wherever the woods- 
man's axe has laid the pine trees low throughout its range. Its 
"simple, sweet, and drowsy song," writes Mr. Parkhurst, is 
always associated " with the smell of pines on a sultry day." It 
recalls that of the junco and the social sparrow or chippy. 

Creeping over the bark of trees and peering into every crevice 
like a nuthatch ; running along the limbs, not often hopping ner- 
vously or flitting like the warblers ; darting into the air for a pass- 
ing insect, or descending to the ground to feed on seeds and 
berries, the pine warbler has, by a curious combination, the 
movements that seem to characterize several different birds. 

It is one of the largest and hardiest members of its family, 
but not remarkable for its beauty. It is a sociable traveller, cheer- 
fully escorting other warblers northward, and welcoming to its 
band both the yellow redpolls and the myrtle warblers. These 
birds are very often seen together in the pine and other evergreen 
trees in our lawns and in the large city parks. 

200 



Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 



Prairie Warbler 

(Dendroica discolor) Wood Warbler family 

Length— 4.75 to 5 inches. About an inch and a half shorter than 
the English sparrow. 

Male — Olive-green above, shading to yellowish on the head, and 
with brick-red spots on back between the shoulders. A 
yellow line over the eye; wing-bars and all under parts 
bright yellow, heavily streaked with black on the sides. 
Line through the eye and crescent below it, black. Much 
white in outer tail feathers. 

Female— Paler; upper parts more grayish olive, and markings less 
distinct than male's. 

Range— Eastern half of the United States. Nests as far north as 
New England and Michigan. Winters from Florida south- 
ward. 

Migrations— May. September. Summer resident 

Doubtless this diminutive bird was given its name because 
it prefers open country rather than the woods— the scrubby under- 
growth of oaks, young evergreens, and bushes that border clear- 
ings being as good a place as any to look for it, and not the 
wind-swept, treeless tracts of the wild West. Its range is south- 
erly. The Southern and Middle States are where it is most 
abundant. Here is a wood warbler that is not a bird of the 
woods — less so, in fact, than either the summer yellowbird 
(yellow warbler) or the palm warbler, that are eminently neigh- 
borly and fond of pasture lands and roadside thickets. But the 
prairie warblers are rather more retiring little sprites than their 
cousins, and it is not often we get a close enough view of them 
to note the brick-red spots on their backs, which are their distin- 
guishing marks. They have a most unkind preference for briery 
bushes, that discourage human intimacy. In such forbidding 
retreats they build their nest of plant-fibre, rootlets, and twigs, 
lined with plant-down and hair. 

The song of an individual prairie warbler makes only a 
slight impression. It consists " of a series of six or seven quickly 
repeated %ees, the next to the last one being the highest " (Chap- 
man). But the united voices of a dozen or more of these pretty 
little birds, that often sing together, afford something approach- 
ing a musical treat. 

201 




. 



Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 

Wilson's Warbler 

(Sylvania pusilla) Wood Warbler family 

Called also: BLACKCAP; GREEN BLACK-CAPPED WAR- 
BLER ; WILSON'S FLYCATCHER 

Length— 4.75 to 5 inches. About an inch and a half shorter than 
the English sparrow. 

Male— Black cap ; yellow forehead ; all other upper parts olive- 
green ; rich yellow underneath. 
Female— Lacks the black cap. 

Range— North America, from Alaska and Nova Scotia to Panama. 
Winters south of Gulf States. Nests chiefly north of the 
United States. 

Migrations— -May \ September. Spring and autumn migrant 

To see this strikingly marked little bird one must be on the 
sharp lookout for it during the latter half of May, or at the season 
of apple bloom, and the early part of September. It passes north- 
ward with an almost scornful rapidity. Audubon mentions hav- 
ing seen it in Maine at the end of October, but this specimen 
surely must have been an exceptional laggard. 

In common with several others of its family, it is exceedingly 
expert in catching insects on the wing ; but it may be known as 
no true flycatcher from the conspicuous rich yellow of its under 
parts, and also from its habit of returning from a midair sally to a 
different perch from the one it left to pursue its dinner. A true 
flycatcher usually returns to its old perch after each hunt. 

To indulge in this aerial chase with success, these warblers 
select for their home and hunting ground some low woodland 
growth where a sluggish stream attracts myriads of insects to 
the boggy neighborhood. Here they build their nest in low 
bushes or upon the ground. Four or five grayish eggs, sprinkled 
with cinnamon-colored spots in a circle around the larger end, 
are laid in the grassy cradle in June. Mr. H. D. Minot found one 
of these nests on Pike's Peak at an altitude of 11,000 feet, almost 
at the limit of vegetation. The same authority compares the 
bird's song to that of the redstart and the yellow warbler. 



202 



Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 

Yellow Redpoll Warbler 

(Dendroica palmarum bypocbrysea) Wood Warbler family 
Called also: YELLOW PALM WARBLER 

Length — 5.5 to 5.75 inches. A little smaller than the English 
sparrow. 

Male and Female — Chestnut crown. Upper parts brownish olive ; 
greenest on lower back. Underneath uniform bright yellow, 
streaked with chestnut on throat, breast, and sides. Yellow 
line over and around the eye. Wings unmarked. Tail 
edged with olive-green ; a few white spots near tips of outer 
quills. More brownish above in autumn, and with a grayish 
wash over the yellow under parts. 

Range — Eastern parts of North America. Nests from Nova Scotia 
northward. Winters in the Gulf States. 

Migrations — April. October. Spring and autumn migrant. 

While the uniform yellow of this warbler's under parts in 
any plumage is its distinguishing mark, it also has a flycatcher's 
trait of constantly flirting its tail, that is at once an outlet for its 
superabundant vivacity and a fairly reliable aid to identification. 
The tail is jerked, wagged, and flirted like a baton in the hands 
of an inexperienced leader of an orchestra. One need not go to 
the woods to look for the restless little sprite that comes north- 
ward when the early April foliage is as yellow and green as its 
feathers. It prefers the fields and roadsides, and before there are 
leaves enough on the undergrowth to conceal it we may come to 
know it as well as it is possible to know any bird whose home 
life is passed so far away. Usually it is the first warbler one sees 
in the spring in New York and New England. With all the 
alertness of a flycatcher, it will dart into the air after insects that 
fly near the ground, keeping up a constant chip, chip, fine and 
shrill, at one end of the small body, and the liveliest sort of tail 
motions at the other. The pine warbler often bears it company. 

With the first suspicion of warm weather, off goes this hardy 
little fellow that apparently loves the cold almost well enough to 
stay north all the year like its cousin, the myrtle warbler. It 
builds a particularly deep nest, of the usual warbler construction, 
on the ground, but its eggs are rosy rather than the bluish white 
of others. 

In the Southern States the bird becomes particularly neigh- 

203 




Conjpicuoasly Yellow and Orange 

borly, and is said to enter the streets and gardens of towns with 
a chippy's familiarity. 

Palm Warbler or Redpoll Warbler (Dendroica palmar um) 
differs from the preceding chiefly in its slightly smaller size, the 
more grayish-brown tint in its olive upper parts, and the uneven 
shade of yellow underneath that varies from clear yellow to soiled 
whitish. It is the Western counterpart of the yellow redpoll, and 
is most common in the Mississippi Valley. Strangely enough, 
however, it is this warbler, and not bypocbrysea, that goes out of 
its way to winter in Florida, where it is abundant all winter. 



Yellow Warbler 

(Dendroica cestiva) Wood Warbler family 

Called also; SUMMER YELLOWBIRD ; GOLDEN WARBLER; 

YELLOW POLL 

Length— 4.75 to 5.2 inches. Over an inch shorter than the Eng- 
lish sparrow. 

Male— Upper parts olive-yellow, brightest on the crown; under 
parts Wight yellow, streaked with reddish brown. Wings 
and tail dusky olive-brown, edged with yellow. 

Female — Similar; but reddish-brown streakings less distinct. 

Range — North America, except Southwestern States, where, the 
prothonotary warbler reigns in its stead. Nests from Gulf 
States to Fur Countries. Winters south of the Gulf States, 
as far as northern parts of South America. 

Migrations — May. September. Common summer resident. 

This exquisite little creature of perpetual summer (though to 
find it it must travel back and forth between two continents) 
comes out of the south with the golden days of spring. From 
much living in the sunshine through countless generations, its 
feathers have finally become the color of sunshine itself, and in 
disposition, as well, it is nothing if not sunny and bright Not 
the least of its attractions is that it is exceedingly common every- 
where : in the shrubbery of our lawns, in gardens and orchards, 
by the road and brookside, in the edges of woods — everywhere 
we catch its glint of brightness through the long summer days, 
and hear its simple, sweet, and happy song until the end of July. 

204 



SUMMER YELLOW BIRD. 



Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 

Because both birds are so conspicuously yellow, no doubt this 
warbler is quite generally confused with the goldfinch ; but their 
distinctions are clear enough to any but the most superficial glance. 
In the first place, the yellow warbler is a smaller bird than the 
goldfinch; it has neither black crown, wings, nor tail, and it 
does have reddish-brown streaks on its breast that are sufficiently 
obsolete to make the coloring of that part look simply dull at a 
little distance. The goldfinch's bill is heavy, in order that it may 
crack seeds, whereas the yellow warbler's is slender, to enable it 
to pick minute insects from the foliage. The goldfinch's wavy, 
curved flight is unique, and that of his "double" differs not a 
whit from that of all nervous, flitting warblers. Surely no one 
familiar with the rich, full, canary-like song of the " wild canary," 
as the goldfinch is called, could confuse it with the mild " Wee- 
cbee, chee, cber-wee ' * of the summer yellowbird. Another distinc- 
tion, not always infallible, but nearly so, is that when seen feed- 
ing, the goldfinch is generally below the line of vision, while the 
yellow warbler is either on it or not far above it, as it rarely goes 
over twelve feet from the ground. 

No doubt, the particularly mild, sweet amiability of the 
yellow warbler is responsible for the persistent visitations of the 
cowbird, from which it is a conspicuous sufferer. In the exqui- 
site, neat little matted cradle of glistening milk-weed flax, lined 
with down from the fronds of fern, the skulking housebreaker 
deposits her surreptitious egg for the little yellow mother-bird to 
hatch and tend. But amiability is not the only prominent trait 
in the female yellow warbler's character. She is clever as well, 
and quickly builds a new bottom on her nest, thus sealing up the 
cowbird's egg, and depositing her own on the soft, spongy floor 
above it- This operation has been known to be twice repeated, 
until the nest became three stories high, when a persistent cow- 
bird made such unusual architecture necessary. 

The most common nesting place of the yellow warbler is in 
low willows along the shores of streams. 



205 




Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 

Yellow-breasted Chat 

(kteria virens) Wood Warbler family 

Called also: POLYGLOT CHAT ; YELLOW MOCKING-BIRD 

Length — 7. 5 inches. A trifle over an inch longer than the Eng- 
lish sparrow. 

Male and Female— Uniform olive-green above. Throat, breast, 
and under side of wings bright, clear yellow. Underneath 
white. Sides grayish. White line over the eye, reaching to 
base of bill and forming partial eye-ring. Also white line on 
sides of throat. Bill and feet black. 

Range— North America, from Ontario to Central America and 
westward to the plains. Most common in Middle Atlantic 
States. 

Migrations— Early May. Late August or September. Summer 
resident. 

This largest of the warblers might be mistaken for a dozen 
birds collectively in as many minutes ; but when it is known that 
the jumble of whistles, parts of songs, chuckles, clucks, barks, 
quacks, whines, and wails proceed from a single throat, the 
yellow-breasted chat becomes a marked specimen forthwith— 
a conspicuous individual never to be confused with any other 
member of the feathered tribe. It is indeed absolutely unique. 
The catbird and the mocking-bird are rare mimics; but while the 
chat is not their equal in this respect, it has a large repertoire of 
weird, uncanny cries all its own — a power of throwing its voice, 
like a human ventriloquist, into unexpected corners of the thicket 
or meadow. In addition to its extraordinary vocal feats, it can 
turn somersaults and do other clown-like stunts as well as any 
variety actor on the Bowery stage. 

Only by creeping cautiously towards the roadside tangle, 
where this "rollicking polyglot" is entertaining himself and his 
mate, brooding over her speckled eggs in a bulky nest set in a 
most inaccessible briery part of the thicket, can you hope to hear 
him rattle through his variety performance. Walk boldly or 
noisily past his retreat, and there is "silence there and nothing 
more." But two very bright eyes peer out at you through the 
undergrowth, where the trim, elegant-looking bird watches you 
with quizzical suspicion until you quietly seat yourself and 

206 



VFXLOW.BREASTED CHAT. 



Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 

assume silent indifference. " IVbew, wbew I " he begins, and then 
immediately, with evident intent to amuse, he rattles off an inde- 
scribable, eccentric medley until your ears are tired listening. 
With bill uplifted, tail drooping, wings fluttering at his side, 
he cuts an absurd figure enough, but not so comical as when he 
rises into the air, trailing his legs behind him stork-fashion. This 
surely is the clown among birds. But zany though he is, he is 
as capable of devotion to his Columbine as Punchinello, and re- 
mains faithfully mated year after year. However much of a tease 
and a deceiver he may be to the passer-by along the roadside, in 
the privacy of the domestic circle he shows truly lovable traits. 

He has the habit of singing in his unmusical way on moon- 
light nights. Probably his ventriloquial powers are cultivated 
not for popular entertainment, but to lure intruders away from 
his nest 

Maryland Yellowthroat 

(Geotblypis tricbas) Wood Warbler family 

Called also: BLACK-MASKED GROUND WARBLER 

Length — 5.33 inches. Just an inch shorter than the typical Eng- 
lish sparrow. 

Male — Olive-gray on head, shading to olive-green on all the other 
upper parts. Forehead, cheeks, and sides of head black, 
like a mask, and bordered behind by a grayish line. Throat 
and breast bright yellow, growing steadily paler underneath. 

Female — Either totally lacks black mask or its place is indicated 
by only a dusky tint. She is smaller and (fuller. 

Range — Eastern North America, west to the plains ; most common 
east of the Alleghanies. Nests from the Gulf States to Lab- 
rador and Manitoba ; winters south of Gulf States to Panama. 

Migrations — May. September. Common summer resident. 

"Given a piece of marshy ground with an abundance of 
skunk cabbage and a fairly dense growth of saplings, and near 
by a tangle of green brier and blackberry, and you will be pretty 
sure to have it tenanted by a pair of yellowthroats," says Dr. Ab- 
bott, who found several of their nests in skunk-cabbage plants, 
which he says are favorite cradles. No animal cares to touch 
this plant if it can be avoided ; but have the birds themselves no 
sense of smell? 

207 




Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 

Before and after the nesting season these active birds, plump 
of form, elegant of attire, forceful, but not bold, enter the scrubby 
pastures near our houses and the shrubbery of old-fashioned, 
overgrown gardens, and peer out at the human wanderer therein 
with a charming curiosity. The bright eyes of the male masquer- 
ader shine through his black mask, where he intently watchfcs 
you from the tangle of syringa and snowball bushes ; and as he 
flies into the laburnum with its golden chain of blossoms that pale 
before the yellow of his throat and breast, you are so impressed 
with his grace and elegance that you follow too audaciously, he 
thinks, and off he goes. And yet this is a bird that seems to de- 
light in being pursued. It never goes so far away that you are 
not tempted to follow it, though it be through dense undergrowth 
and swampy thickets, and it always gives you just glimpse 
enough of its beauties and graces before it flies ahead, to invite 
the hope of a closer inspection next time. When it dives into the 
deepest part of the tangle, where you can imagine it hunting about 
among the roots and fallen leaves for the larvae, caterpillars, spi- 
ders, and other insects on which it feeds, it sometimes amuses 
itself with a simple little song between the hunts. But the bird's 
indifference, you feel sure, arises from preoccupation rather than 
rudeness. 

If, however, your visit to the undergrowth is unfortunately 
timed and there happens to be a bulky nest in process of con- 
struction on the ground, a quickly repeated, vigorous chit, pit, 
quit, impatiently inquires the reason for your bold intrusion. 
Withdraw discreetly and listen to the love-song that is presently 
poured out to reassure his plain little maskless mate. The music 
is delivered with all the force and energy of his vigorous nature 
and penetrates to a surprising distance. "Follow me, follow me, 
follow me," many people hear him say; others write the syllables, 
"Wicbity, wicbity, wicbity, wicbity"; and still others write 
them, " I beseech you, I beseech you, I beseecb you," though the 
tones of this self-assertive bird rather command than entreat. 
Mr. Frank Chapman says of the yellowthroats : "They sing 
throughout the summer, and in August add a flight-song to their 
repertoire. This is usually uttered toward evening, when the bird 
springs several feet into the air, hovers for a second, and then 
drops back to the bushes. " 



208 



BLACKBUKN1AN U'A 



Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 

Blackburnian Warbler 

(Dendroica blachburnice) Wood Warbler family 

Called also: HEMLOCK WARBLER; ORANGE-THROATED 

WARBLER; TORCH-BIRD 

Length— 4. 5 to 5. 5 inches. An inch and a half smaller than the 
English sparrow. 

Male— Head black, striped with orange-flame ; throat and breast 
orange, shading through yellow to white underneath ; 
wings, tail, and part of back black, with white markings. 

Female— Olive-brown above, shading into yellow on breast, and 
paler under parts. 

Range— Eastern North America to plains. Winters in tropics. 

Migrations — May. September. Spring and autumn migrant 

''The orange-throated warbler would seem to be his right 
name, his characteristic cognomen," says John Burroughs, in ever- 
delightful " Wake Robin" ; "but no, he is doomed to wear the 
name of some discoverer, perhaps the first who robbed his nest 
or rifled him of his mate — Blackburn; hence, Blackburnian 
warbler. The burn seems appropriate enough, for in these dark 
evergreens his throat and breast show like flame. He has a very 
fine warble, suggesting that of the redstart, but not especially 
musical." 

No foliage is dense enough to hide, and no autumnal tint too 
brilliant to outshine this luminous little bird that in May, as it 
migrates northward to its nesting ground, darts in and out of the 
leafy shadows like a tongue of fire. 

It is by far the most glorious of all the warblers — a sort of 
diminutive oriole. The quiet-colored little mate flits about after 
him, apparently lost in admiration of his fine feathers and the 
ease with which his thin tenor voice can end his lover's warble in 
a high Z. 

Take a good look at this attractive couple, for in May they 
leave us .to build a nest of bark and moss in the evergreens of 
Canada — that paradise for warblers — or of the Catskills and Adiron- 
dacks, and in autumn they hurry south to escape the first frosts. 



209 




Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 

Redstart 

(Setopbaga ruticilla) Wood Warbler family 
Called also: YELLOW-TAILED WARBLER 

Length— 5 to 5.5 inches. 

Male — In spring plumage: Head, neck, back, and middle breast 
glossy black, with blue reflections. Breast and underneath 
white, slightly flushed with salmon, increasing to bright 
salmon-orange on the sides of the body and on the wing 
linings. Occasional specimens show orange-red. Tail feath- 
ers partly black, partly orange, with broad black band across 
the end. Orange markings on wings. Bill and feet black. 
In autumn : Fading into rusty black, olive, and yellow. 

Female — Olive-brown, and yellow where the male is orange. 
Young browner than the females. 

Range — North America to upper Canada. West occasionally, as 
far as the Pacific coast, but commonly found in summer in 
the Atlantic and Middle States. 

Migrations — Early May. End of September. Summer resident. 

Late some evening, early in May, when one by one the birds 
have withdrawn their voices from the vesper chorus, listen for 
the lingering " 'tsee, 'tsee, 'tseet ' ' (usually twelve times repeated 
in a minute), that the redstart sweetly but rather monotonously 
sings from the evergreens, where, as his tiny body burns in the 
twilight, Mrs. Wright likens him to a "wind-blown firebrand, 
half glowing, half charred." 

But by daylight this brilliant little warbler is constantly on 
the alert. It is true he has the habit, like the flycatchers (among 
which some learned ornithologists still class him), of sitting pen- 
sively on a branch, with fluffy feathers and drooping wings; but 
the very next instant he shows true warbler blood by making a 
sudden dash upward, then downward through the air, tumbling 
somersaults, as if blown by the wind, flitting from branch to 
branch, busily snapping at the tiny insects hidden beneath the 
leaves, clinging to the tree-trunk like a creeper, and singing 
between bites. 

Possibly he will stop long enough in his mad chase to open 
and shut his tail, fan-fashion, with a dainty egotism that, in the 
peacock, becomes rank vanity. 

210 



BALTIMORE ORIOLE 



Conspicuously Yellow and Orange 

The Germans call this little bird roth Stert (red tail), but, like 
so many popular names, this is a misnomer, as, strictly speaking, 
the redstart is never red, though its salmon-orange markings 
often border on to orange-flame. 

In a fork of some tall bush or tree, placed ten or fifteen feet 
from the ground, a carefully constructed little nest is made of 
moss, horsehair, and strippings from the bark, against which 
the nest is built, the better to conceal its location. Four or five 
whitish eggs, thickly sprinkled with pale brown and lilac, like the 
other warblers', are too jealously guarded by the little mother-bird 
to be very often seen. 

Baltimore Oriole 

( Icterus galbula) Oriole and Blackbird family 

Called also: GOLDEN ORIOLE; FIREBIRD; GOLDEN ROBIN; 

HANG-NEST; ENGLISH ROBIN 

Length — 7 to 8 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the robin. 

Male — Head, throat, upper part of back glossy black. Wings 
black, with white spots and edgings. Tail-quills black, with 
yellow markings on the tips. Everywhere else orange, 
shading into flame. 

Female — Yellowish olive. Wings dark brown, and quills mar- 

fined with white. Tail yellowish brown, with obscure, 
usky bars. 

Range — The whole United States. Most numerous in Eastern 
States below 55 north latitude. 

Migrations — Early May. Middle of September. Common sum- 
mer resident. 

A flash of fire through the air; a rich, high, whistled song 
floating in the wake of the feathered meteor: the Baltimore oriole 
cannot be mistaken. When the orchards are in blossom he 
arrives in full plumage and song, and awaits the coming of the 
female birds, that travel northward more leisurely in flocks. He 
is decidedly in evidence. No foliage is dense enough to hide his 
brilliancy; his temper, quite as fiery as his feathers, leads him 
into noisy quarrels, and his insistent song with its martial, inter- 
rogative notes becomes almost tiresome until he is happily mated 
and family cares check his enthusiasm. 

211 




Conspicuously Yellow and Orange. 

Among the best architects in the world is his plain but ener- 
getic mate. Gracefully swung from a high branch of some tall 
tree, the nest is woven with exquisite skill into a long, flexible 
pouch that rain cannot penetrate, nor wind shake from its horse- 
hair moorings. Bits of string, threads of silk, and sometime? 
yarn of the gayest colors, if laid about the shrubbery in the garden, 
will be quickly interwoven with the shreds of bark and milk- 
weed stalks that the bird has found afield. The shape of the 
nest often differs, because in unsettled regions, where hawks 
abound, it is necessary to make it deeper than seven inches (the 
customary depth when it is built near the homes of men), and to 
partly close it at the top to conceal the sitting bird. From four 
to six whitish eggs, scrawled over with black-brown, are hatched 
by the mother oriole, and most jealously guarded by her now 
truly domesticated mate. 

The number of grubs, worms, flies, caterpillars, and even 
cocoons, that go to satisfy the hunger of a family of orioles in a 
day, might indicate, if it could be computed, the great value these 
birds are about our homes, aside from the good cheer they bring. 

There is a popular tradition about the naming of this gorgeous 
bird: When George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, worn out 
and discouraged by various hardships in his Newfoundland colony, 
decided to visit Virginia in 1628, he wrote that nothing in the 
Chesapeake country so impressed him as the myriads of birds 
in its woods. But the song and color of the oriole particularly 
cheered and delighted him, and orange and black became the 
heraldic colors of the first lords proprietors of Maryland. 

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. 
Heave, ho / 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. 

—Janus Russell Lowell. 

212 



BIRDS CONSPICUOUSLY RED OF ANY SHADE 

Cardinal Grosbeak 

Summer Tanager 

Scarlet Tanager 

Pine Grosbeak 

American Crossbill and the White-winged Crossbill 

Redpoll and Greater Redpoll 

Purple Finch 

Robin 

Orchard Oriole 



See the Red- winged Blackbird (Black). See also the males of the Rose-breasted 
Grosbeak, the Woodpeckers, the Chewink (Black and White); the Red-breasted 
Nuthatch, the Bay-breasted and the Chestnut-sided Warblers (Slate and Gray); the 
Bluebird and Barn Swallow (Blue); the Flicker (Brown); the Humming-bird and the 
Kinglets (Greenish Gray); and the Blackbumian and Redstart Warblers, and the 
Baltimore Oriole (Orange). 




BIRDS CONSPICUOUSLY RED OF ANY 

SHADE 

Cardinal Grosbeak 

(Cardinal cardinalis) Finch family 

Called also: CRESTED REDBIRD ; VIRGINIA REDBIRD ; 
VIRGINIA NIGHTINGALE; CARDINAL BIRD 

Length — 8 to 9 inches. A little smaller than the robin. 

Male— Brilliant cardinal ; chin and band around bill black. Beak 
stout and red. Crest conspicuous. In winter dress, wings 
washed with gray. 

Female — Brownish yellow above, shading to gray below. Tail 
shorter than the male's. Crest, wings, and tail reddish. 
Breast sometimes tinged with red. 

Range — Eastern United States. A Southern bird, becoming more 
and more common during the summer in States north of 
Virginia, especially in Ohio, south of which it is resident 
throughout the year. 

Migrations— Resident rather than migrating birds, remaining 
throughout the winter in localities where they have found 
their way. Travel in flocks. 

Among the numerous names by which this beautiful bird is 
known, it has become immortalized under the title of Mr. James 
Lane Allen's exquisite book, "The Kentucky Cardinal." Here, 
while we are given a most charmingly sympathetic, delicate ac- 
count of the bird "who has only to be seen or heard, and Death 
adjusts an arrow," it is the cardinal's pathetic fate that impresses 
one most. Seen through less poetical eyes, however, the bird 
appears to be a haughty autocrat, a sort of " F. F. V." among the 
feathered tribes, as, indeed, his title, " Virginia redbird," has been 
unkindly said to imply. Bearing himself with a refined and 
courtly dignity, not stooping to soil his feet by walking on the 
ground like the more democratic robin, or even condescending 

215 




Conspicuously Red of anj Shade 

below the level of the laurel bushes, the cardinal is literally a shin- 
ing example of self-conscious superiority — a bird to call forth 
respect and admiration rather than affection. But a group of 
cardinals in a cedar tree in a snowy winter landscape makes us 
forgetful of everything but their supreme beauty. 

As might be expected in one of the finch family, the cardinal 
is a songster — the fact which, in connection with his lovely plu- 
mage, accounts for the number of these birds shipped in cages to 
Europe, where they are known as Virginia nightingales. Com- 
mencing with a strong, rich whistle, like the high notes of a fife, 
" Cbeo-cbeo-cbeo-cbeo/' repeated over and over as if to make per- 
fect the start of a song he is about to sing, suddenly he stops, 
and you learn that there is to be no glorious performance after all, 
only a prelude to— nothing. The song, such as it is, begins, 
with both male and female, in March, and lasts, with a brief in- 
termission, until September — "the most melodious sigh," as Mr. 
Allen calls it. Early in May the cardinals build a bulky and loosely 
made nest, usually in the holly, laurel, or other evergreen shrubs 
that they always love to frequent, especially if these are near 
fields of corn or other grain. And often two broods in a year 
come forth from the pale-gray, brown-marked eggs, bearing 
what is literally for them the "fatal gift of beauty." 

Summer Tanager 

(Piranga rubra) Tanager family 

Called also: REDBIRD; SMOOTH-HEADED REDBIRD 

Length — 7. 5 inches. About ode-fourth smaller than the robin. 

Male— Uniform red. Wings and tail like the body. 

Female— Upper parts yellowish olive-green; underneath inclining 
to orange-yellow. 

Range — Tropical portions of two Americas and eastern United 
States. Most common in Southern States. Rare north of 
Pennsylvania. Winters in the tropics. 

Migrations — In Southern States : April. October. Irregular mi- 
grant north of the Carolinas. 

Thirty years ago, it is recorded that so far north as New Jer- 
sey the summer redbird was quite as common as any of the 
thrushes. In the South still there is scarcely an orchard that does 

216 



Conspicuously Red of any Shade 

not contain this tropical-looking beauty— the redbird par excel- 
lence, the sweetest singer of the family. Is there a more beauti- 
ful sight in all nature than a grove of orange trees laden with 
fruit, starred with their delicious blossoms, and with flocks of 
redbirds disporting themselves among the dark, glossy leaves? 
Pine and oak woods are also favorite resorts, especially at the 
north, where the bird nowadays forsakes the orchards to hide his 
beauty, if he can, unharmed by the rifle that only rarely is offered 
so shining a mark. He shows the scarlet tanager's preference for 
tree-tops, where his musical voice, calling " Cbicky-tucky-tuk," 
alone betrays his presence in the woods. The Southern farmers 
declare that he is an infallible weather prophet, his "wet, WET t 
WET" being the certain indication of rain — another absurd saw, 
for the call-note is by no means confined to the rainy season. 

The yellowish-olive mate, whose quiet colors betray no nest 
secrets, collects twigs and grasses for the cradle to be saddled on 
the end of some horizontal branch, though in this work the male 
sometimes cautiously takes an insignificant part. After her three 
or four eggs are laid she sits upon them for nearly two weeks, 
being only rarely and stealthily visited by her mate with some 
choice grub, blossom, or berry in his beak. But how cheerfully 
his fife-like whistle rings out during the temporary exile ! Then 
his song is at its best. Later in the summer he has an aggravat- 
ing way of joining in the chorus of other birds' songs, by which 
the pleasant individuality of his own voice is lost. 

A nest of these tanagers, observed not far from New York 
City, was commenced the last week of May on the extreme edge 
of a hickory limb in an open wood ; four eggs were laid on the 
fourth of June, and twelve days later the tiny fledglings, that all 
look like their mother in the early stages of their existence, burst 
from the greenish-white, speckled shells. In less than a month 
the young birds were able to fly quite well and collect their food. 



217 



Conspicuously Red of any Shade 

Scarlet Tanager 

(Piranga erytbromelasj Tanager family 

Called a/so: BLACK- WINGED REDBIRD ;. FIREBIRD ; CAN- 
ADA TANAGER ; POCKET-BIRD 

Length — 7 to 7. 5 inches. About one-fourth smaller than the robin. 

Male — In spring plumage : Brilliant scarlet, with black wings and 
tail. Under wing coverts grayish white. In autumn : Simi- 
lar to female. 

Female— Olive-green above ; wings and tail dark, lightly margined 
with olive. Underneath greenish yellow. 

Range — North America to northern Canada boundaries, and south- 
ward in winter to South America. 

Migrations — May. October. Summer resident 

The gorgeous coloring of the scarlet tanager has been its 
snare and destruction. The densest evergreens could not alto- 
gether hide this blazing target for the sportsman's gun, too often 
fired at the instigation of city milliners. "Fine feathers make 
fine birds " — and cruel, silly women, the adage might be adapted 
for latter-day use. This rarely beautiful tanager, thanks to them, 
is now only an infrequent flash of beauty in our country roads. 

Instinct leads it to be chary of its charms ; and whereas it 
used to be one of the commonest of bird neighbors, it is now shy 
and solitary. An ideal resort for it is a grove of oak or swamp 
maple near a stream or pond where it can bathe. Evergreen 
trees, too, are favorites, possibly because the bird knows how 
exquisitely its bright scarlet coat is set off by their dark back- 
ground. 

High in the tree-tops he perches, all unsuspected by the vis- 
itor passing through the woods below, until a burst of rich, sweet 
melody directs the opera-glasses suddenly upward. There we 
detect him carolling loud and cheerfully, like a robin. He is an 
apparition of beauty — a veritable bird of paradise, as, indeed, he 
is sometimes called. Because of their similar coloring, the tana- 
ger and cardinal are sometimes confounded, but an instant's 
comparison of the two birds shows nothing in common except 
red feathers, and even those of quite different shades. The incon- 
spicuous olive-green and yellow of the female tanager's plumage 
is another striking instance of Nature's unequal distribution of 

218 



Conspicuously Red of any Shade 

gifts; but if our bright-colored birds have become shockingly 
few under existing conditions, would any at all remain were the 
females prominent, like the males, as they brood upon the nest ? 
Both tanagers construct a rather disorderly-looking nest of fibres 
and sticks, through which daylight can be seen where it rests 
securely upon the horizontal branch of some oak or pine tree ; 
but as soon as three or four bluish-green eggs have been laid 
in the cradle, off goes the father, wearing his tell-tale coat, to 
a distant tree. There he sings his sweetest carol to the patient, 
brooding mate, returning to her side only long enough to feed 
her with the insects and berries that form their food. 

Happily for the young birds' fate, they are clothed at first in 
motley, dull colors, with here and there only a bright touch of 
scarlet, yellow, and olive to prove their claim to the parent whose 
gorgeous plumage must be their admiration. But after the moult- 
ing season it would be a wise tanager that knew its own father. 
His scarlet feathers are now replaced by an autumn coat of olive 
and yellow not unlike his mate's. 

Pine Grosbeak 

(Pinicola enucleator) Finch family 

Called also: PINE BULLFINCH 

Length — Variously recorded from 6.5 to 11 inches. Specimen 
measured 8. 5 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the robin. 

Male — General color strawberry-red, with some slate-gray fleck- 
ings about head, under wings, and on legs. Tail brown; 
wings brown, marked with black and white and slate. A 
band -shaped series of markings between the shoulders. 
Underneath paler red, merging into grayish green. Heavy, 
conspicuous bill. 

Female — Ash-brown. Head and hind neck yellowish brown, 
each feather having central dusky streak. Cheeks and 
throat yellowish. Beneath ash-gray, tinged with brownish 
yellow under tail. 

Range— British American provinces and northern United States. 

Migrations — Irregular winter visitors; length of visits as uncer- 
tain as their coming. 

As inseparable as bees from flowers, so are these beautiful 
winter visitors from the evergreen woods, where their red 

219 




Conspicuously Red of an j Shade 

feathers, shining against the dark-green background of the trees, 
give them charming prominence ; but they also feed freely upon 
the buds of various deciduous trees. 

South of Canada we may not look for them except in the 
severest winter weather. Even then their coming is not to be 
positively depended upon ; but when their caprice— or was it an 
unusually fierce northern blast? — sends them over the Canada 
border, it is a simple matter to identify them when such brilliant 
birds are rare. The brownish-yellow and grayish females and 
young males, however, always seem to be in the majority with 
us, though our Canadian friends assure us of the irreproachable 
morals of this gay bird. 

Wherever there are clusters of pine or cedar trees, when 
there is a flock of pine grosbeaks in the neighborhood, you may 
expect to find a pair of birds diligently feeding upon the seeds 
and berries. No cheerful note escapes them as they persistently 
gormandize, and, if the truth must be confessed, they appear to 
be rather stupid and uninteresting, albeit they visit us at a time 
when we are most inclined to rapture over our bird visitors. 
They are said to have a deliriously sweet song in the nesting 
season, when, however, few except the Canadian voyageurs 
hear it 

American Crossbill 

(Loxia curvirostra minor) Finch family 
Called also: RED CROSSBILL 

Length — 6 to 7 inches. About the size of the English sparrow. 

Male — General color Indian red, passing into brownish gray, with 
red tinge beneath. Wings (without bands), also tail, brown. 
Beak crossed at the tip. 

Female — General color greenish yellow, with brownish tints. 
Dull-yellowish tints on head, throat, breast, and underneath. 
Wings and tail pale brown. Beak crossed at tip. 

Range — Pennsylvania to northern British America. West of Mis- 
sissippi, range more southerly. 

Migrations^ Irregular winter visitor. November. Sometimes 
resident until April. 

It is a rash statement to say that a bird is rare simply because 
you have never seen it in your neighborhood, for while you are 

220 



Conspicuously Red of any Shade 

going out of the front door your rata cms may be eating the 
crumbs about your kitchen. Even with our eyes and ears con- 
stantly alert for some fresh bird excitement, our phlegmatic 
neighbor over the way may be enjoying a visit from a whole 
flock of the very bird we have been looking and listening for in 
vain all the year. The red crossbills are capricious little visitors, 
it is true, but by no means uncommon. 

About the size of an English sparrow, of a brick or Indian 
red color, for the most part, the peculiarity of its parrot-like beak 
is its certain mark of identification. 

Longfellow has rendered into verse the German legend of the 
crossbill, which tells that as the Saviour hung upon the cross, a 
little bird tried to pull out the nails that pierced His hands and 
feet, thus twisting its beak and staining its feathers with the 
blood. 

At first glance the birds would seem to be hampered by their 
crossed beaks in getting at the seeds in the pine cones — a super- 
ficial criticism when the thoroughness and admirable dexterity of 
their work are better understood. 

Various seeds of fruits, berries, and the buds of trees enlarge 
their bill of fare. They are said to be inordinately fond of salt. 
Mr. Romeyn B. Hough tells of a certain old ice-cream freezer that 
attracted flocks of crossbills one winter, as a salt-lick attracts deer. 
Whether the traditional salt that may have stuck to the bird's tail 
is responsible for its tameness is not related, but it is certain the 
crossbills, like most bird visitors from the far north, are remark- 
ably gentle, friendly little birds. As they swing about the pine 
trees, parrot-fashion, with the help of their bill, calling out kimp, 
hitnp, that sounds like the snapping of the pine cones on a sunny 
day, it often seems easily possible to catch them with the hand. 

There is another species of crossbill, called the White- winged 
(Loxia leucopteraj, that differs from the preceding chiefly in hav- 
ing two white bands across its wings and in being more rare. 



221 




Contoicuoutly Red of any Shade 

The Redpoll 

(Acantbis linaria) Finch family 

Called also : REDPOLL LINNET; LITTLE SNOWBIRD; LESSER 

REDPOLL 

Length— 5.25 to 5.5 inches. About an inch shorter than the Eng- 
lish sparrow. 

Male— A rich crimson wash on head, neck, breast, and lower 
back, that is sometimes only a pink when we see the bird in 
midwinter. Grayish-brown, sparrowy feathers show under- 
neath the red wash. Dusky wings and tail, the feathers 
more or less edged with whitish. Soiled white underneath ; 
the sides with dusky streaks. Bill sharply pointed. 

Female — More dingy than male, sides more heavily streaked, and 
having crimson only on the crown. 

Range— An arctic bird that descends irregularly into the northern 
United States. 

Migrations — An irregular winter visitor. 

"Ere long, amid the cold and powdery snow, as it were a 
fruit of the season, will come twittering a flock of delicate crim- 
son-tinged birds, lesser redpolls, to sport and feed on the 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." Thoreau's beautiful description of 
these tiny winter visitors, which should be read entire, shows 
the man in one of his most sympathetic, exalted moods, and it is 
the best brief characterization of the redpoll that we have. 

When the arctic cold becomes too cruel for even the snow- 
birds and crossbills to withstand, flocks of the sociable little red- 
polls flying southward are the merest specks in the sullen, gray 
sky, when they can be seen at all. So high do they keep that 
often they must pass above our heads without our knowing it. 
First we see a quantity of tiny dots, like a shake of pepper, in the 
cloud above, then the specks grow larger and larger, and finally 
the birds seem to drop from the sky upon some tall tree that they 
completely cover — a veritable cloudburst of birds. Without 
pausing to rest after the long journey, down they flutter into the 
weedy pastures with much cheerful twittering, to feed upon 
whatever seeds may be protruding through the snow. Every 

222 



Conspicuously Red of any Shade 

action of a flock seems to be concerted, as if some rigid discipli- 
narian had drilled them, and yet no leader can be distinguished 
in the merry company. When one flies, all fly; where one feeds, 
all feed, and by some subtle telepathy all rise at the identical in- 
stant from their feeding ground and cheerfully twitter in concert 
where they all alight at once. They are more easily disturbed 
than the goldfinches, that are often seen feeding with them in the 
lowlands ; nevertheless, they quite often venture into our gardens 
and orchards, even in suburbs penetrated by the trolley-car. 

Usually in winter we hear only their lisping call-note ; but if 
the birds linger late enough in the spring, when their "fancy 
lightly turns to thoughts of love," a gleeful, canary-like song 
comes from the naked branches, and we may know by it that 
the flock will soon disappear for their nesting grounds in the 
northern forests. 

The Greater Redpoll (A cant bis linaria rostrata) may be dis- 
tinguished from the foregoing species by its slightly larger size, 
darker upper parts, and shorter, stouter bill. But the notes, 
habits, and general appearance of both redpolls are so nearly 
identical that the birds are usually mistaken for each other. 

Purple Finch 

(Carpodacus purpureas) Finch family 

Called also: PURPLE LINNET 

Length — 6 to 6.25 inches. About the same size as the English 
sparrow. 

Male— Until two years old, sparrow-like in appearance like the 
female, but with olive-yellow on chin and lower back. 
Afterwards entire body suffused with a bright raspberry-red, 
deepest on head, lower back, and breast, and other parts 
only faintly washed with this color. More brown on back ; 
and wings and tail, which are dusky, have some reddish- 
brown feathers. Underneath grayish white. Bill heavy. 
Tail forked. 

Female — Grayish olive -brown above; whitish below; finely 
streaked everywhere with very dark brown, like a sparrow. 
Sides of breast have arrow-shaped marks. Wings and tail 
darkest. 

Range— North America, from Columbia River eastward to Atlan- 

223 




Conspicuously Red of any Shade 

tic, and from Mexico northward to Manitoba. Most com- 
mon in Middle States and New England. Winters south of 
Pennsylvania. 

Migrations — March. November. Common summer resident 
Rarely individuals winter at the north. 

In this "much be-sparrowed country" of ours familiarity is 
apt to breed contempt for any bird that looks sparrowy, in which 
case one of the most delicious songsters we have might easily be 
overlooked. It is not until the purple finch reaches maturity in 
his second year that his plumage takes on the raspberry-red tints 
that some ornithologists named purple. Oriental purple is our 
magenta, it is true, but not a raspberry shade. Before maturity, 
but for the yellow on his lower back and throat, he and his 
mate alike suggest a song-sparrow; and it is important to note 
their particularly heavy, rounded bills, with the tufts of feathers 
at the base, and their forked tails, to name them correctly. But 
the identification of the purple finch, after all, depends quite as 
much upon his song as his color. In March, when flocks of 
these birds come north, he has begun to sing a little ; by the be- 
ginning of May he is desperately in love, and sudden, joyous 
peals of music from the elm or evergreen trees on the lawn en- 
liven the garden. How could his little brown lady-love fail to 
be impressed with a suitor so gayly dressed, so tender and solici- 
tous, so deliriously sweet - voiced ? With fuller, richer song 
than the warbling vireo's, which Nuttall has said it resembles, a 
perfect ecstasy of love pours incessantly from his throat during 
the early summer days. There is a suggestion of the robin's 
love-song in his, but its copiousness, variety, and rapidity give 
it a character all its own. 

In some old, neglected hedge or low tree about the country- 
place a flat, grassy nest, lined with horsehair, contains four or 
five green eggs in June, and the old birds are devotion itself to 
each other, and soon to their young, sparrowy brood. 

But when parental duties are over, the finches leave our 
lawns and gardens to join flocks of their own kind in more re- 
mote orchards or woods, their favorite haunts. Their subdued 
warble may be heard during October and later, as if the birds 
were humming to themselves. 

Much is said of their fondness for fruit blossoms and tree 
buds, but the truth is that noxious insects and seeds of grain 

224 



Conspicuously Red of any Shade 

constitute their food in summer, the berries of evergreens in 
winter. To a bird so gay of color, charming of voice, social, and 
trustful of disposition, surely a few blossoms might be spared 
without grudging. 

The American Robin 

(Merula migratoria) Thrush family 

Called also: RED-BREASTED OR MIGRATORY THRUSH; 

ROBIN -REDBREAST 

Length — 10 inches. 

Male— Dull brownish olive-gray above. Head black; tail brown- 
ish black, with exterior feathers white at inner tip. Wings 
dark brownish. Throat streaked with black and white. 
White eyelids. Entire breast bright rusty red ; whitish below 
the tail. 

Female — Duller and with paler breast, resembling the male in 
autumn. 

Range — North America, from Mexico to arctic regions. 

Migrations — March. October or November. Often resident 
throughout the year. 

It seems almost superfluous to write a line of description 
about a bird that is as familiar as a chicken ; yet how can this 
nearest of our bird neighbors be passed without a reference? 
Probably he was the very first bird we learned to call by name. 

The early English colonists, who had doubtless been brought 
up, like the rest of us, on "The Babes in the Wood," named the 
bird after the only heroes in that melancholy tale ; but in reality 
the American robin is a much larger bird than the English robin- 
redbreast and less brilliantly colored. John Burroughs calls him, 
of all our birds, "the most native and democratic." 

How the robin dominates birddom with his strong, aggres- 
sive personality! His voice rings out strong and clear in the 
early morning chorus, and, more tenderly subdued at twilight, it 
still rises above all the sleepy notes about him. Whether lightly 
tripping over the lawn after the " early worm," or. rising with his 
sharp, quick cry of alarm, when startled, to his nest near by, 
every motion is decided, alert, and free. No pensive hermit of 
the woods, like his cousins, the thrushes, is this joyous, vigorous 
" bird of the morning." Such a presence is inspiriting. 

225 



; 

1 

i 

I 

1 




Conspicuously Red of any Shade 

Does any bird excel the robin in the great variety of his vocal 
expressions ? Mr. Parkhurst, in his charming " Birds' Calendar," 
says he knows of "no other bird that is able to give so many 
shades of meaning to a single note, running through the entire 
gamut of its possible feelings. From the soft and mellow quality, 
almost as coaxing as a dove's note, with which it encourages its 
young when just out of the nest, the tone, with minute grada- 
tions, becomes more vehement, and then harsh and with quick- 
ened reiteration, until it expresses the greatest intensity of a bird's 
emotions. Love, contentment, anxiety, exultation, rage — what 
other bird can throw such multifarious meaning into its tone ? 
And herein the robin seems more nearly human than any of its 
kind." 

There is no one thing that attracts more birds about the house 
that a drin king-dish— large enough for a bathtub as well; and 
certainly no bird delights in sprinkling the water over his back 
more than a robin, often aided in his ablutions by the spattering 
of the sparrows. But see to it that this drinking-dish is well 
raised above the reach of lurking cats. 

While the robin is a famous splasher, his neatness stops 
there. A robin's nest is notoriously dirty within, and so care- 
lessly constructed of weed-stalks, grass, and mud, that a heavy 
summer shower brings more robins' nests to the ground than we 
like to contemplate. The color of the eggs, as every one knows, 
has given their name to the tint. Four is the number of eggs 
laid, and two broods are often reared in the same nest. 

Too much stress is laid on the mischief done by the robins 
in the cherry trees and strawberry patches, and too little upon 
the quantity of worms and insects they devour. Professor Tread- 
well, who experimented upon some young robins kept in cap- 
tivity, learned that they ate sixty-eight earthworms daily — "that 
is, each bird ate forty-one per cent, more than its own weight in 
twelve hours ! The length of these worms, if laid end to end, 
would be about fourteen feet. Man, at this rate, would eat 
about seventy pounds of flesh a day, and drink five or six gallons 
of water." 



226 



ORCHARD OKIOLE. 



Conspicuously Red of any Shade 

Orchard Oriole 

(Icterus spurt us J Blackbird and Oriole family 

Called also: ORCHARD STARLING ; ORCHARD HANG-NEST 

Length—*] to 7.3 inches. About one-fourth smaller than the 
robin. 

Male — Head, throat, upper back, tail, and part of wings black. 
Breast, rump, shoulders, under wing and tail coverts, and 
under parts bright reddish brown. Whitish-yellow mark- 
ings on a few tail and wing feathers. 

Female — Head and upper parts olive, shading into brown ; brighter 
on head and near tail. Back and wings dusky brown, with 

E ale-buff shoulder-bars and edges of coverts. Throat black. 
Inder parts olive, shading into yellow. 

Range— Canada to Central America. Common in temperate lati- 
tudes of the United States. 

Migrations— Early May. Middle of September. Common sum- 
mer resident. 

With a more southerly range than the Baltimore oriole and 
less conspicuous coloring, the orchard oriole is not so familiar a 
bird in many Northern States, where, nevertheless, it is quite 
common enough to be classed among our would-be intimates. 
The orchard is not always as close to the house as this bird cares 
to venture ; he will pursue an insect even to the piazza vines. 

His song, says John Burroughs, is like scarlet, "strong, in- 
tense, emphatic," but it is sweet and is more rapidly uttered than 
that of others of the family. It is ended for the season early 
in July. 

This oriole, too, builds a beautiful nest, not often pendent like 
the Baltimore's, but securely placed in the fork of a sturdy fruit 
tree, at a moderate height, and woven with skill and precision, 
like a basket. When the dried grasses from one of these nests 
were stretched and measured, all were found to be very nearly the 
same length, showing to what pains the little weaver had gone 
to make the nest neat and pliable, yet strong. Four cloudy- 
white eggs with dark-brown spots are usually found in the nest 
in June. 



227 




INDEX 

The figures in black-faced type indicate the page upon which the 

biography of the bird is given. 



Accentor, Golden-crowned (see Oven- 
bird), 1 80. 

Bellbird (see Wood Thrush), 123. 
Bird, Blue {see Bluebird), 99. 

Butcher (see Northern Shrike), 87. 

Butter (see Bobolink), 61. 

Cardinal (see Cardinal Grosbeak), 

215. 
Cedar, 9, 19, 20, 21, 27, 29, 36, 144. 

Cow-pen (see Cowbird), 49. 

Grass (see Vesper Sparrow), 162. 

Grease (see Canada Jay), 79. 

Meadow (see Bobolink), 61. 

Meat (see Canada Jay), 79. 

Moose (see Canada Jay), 79. 

Myrtle (see Myrtle Warbler), 92. 

Peabody (see Vesper Sparrow), 165. 

Potato Bug (see Rose-breasted Gros- 
beak), 60. 

Thistle (see American Goldfinch), 
190. 
Blackbird (see Rusty Blackbird), 46. 

and Oriole family, 6. 

Cow (see Cowbird), 49. 

Crow (see Purple Grackle), 44. 

Red-winged, 6, 21, 22, 23, 28, 30, 
32, 36, 47. 

Rusty, 6, 22, 28, 30, 32, 36, 46. 

Skunk (see Bobolink), 61. 

Swamp (see Red-winged Blackbird), 

47- 
Thrush (see Rusty Blackbird), 46. 

Blackcap (see Wilson s Warbler), 202. 

Bluebird, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 

30. 36, 99- 
Bobolink, 7, 22, 23, 28, 30, 31, 36, 61. 
Bull-bat (see Nighthawk), 138. 
Bullfinch, Pine (see Pine Grosbeak), 219. 
Bunting, Bay. winged (see Vesper Spar- 
row), 162. 
Cow (see Cowbird), 49. 
Field (see Field Sparrow), 152. 
Indigo, 8, 21, 22, 23, 29, 30, 31, 
35. 101. 



Bunting, Lapland Lark (see Lapland 
Longspur), 148. 

Savanna (see Savanna Sparrow), 155. 

Snow (see Snowfiake), 59. 

Towhee (see Chewink), 58. 

Tree (see Tree Sparrow), 161. 
Buntings, the, 7. 

Camp Robber (see Canada Jay), 79. 
Canary, Wild (see American Goldfinch), 

190. 
Cardinal (see Cardinal Grosbeak), 215. 
Carrion-bird, Canadian (see Canada Jay), 

79- 
Catbird, 12, 19, 20, 21, 22, 29, 30, 31, 

36, 80. 
Catbirds, the, 12. 
Cedar Bird (see Bird, Cedar), 144. 
Chat, Polyglot (see Yellow-breasted Chat), 

206. 
Yellow-breasted, 12, 19, 21, 22, 29, 

30, 31. 36, 206. 
Chebec (see Least Flycatcher), 75. 
Cherry-bird (see Cedar Bird), 144. 
Chewink, 8, 21, 29, 30, 32, 36, 58. 
Chickadee, 14, 19, 20, 21, 27, 28, 29, 

3i. 35. 7 6 - 
family (see Titmouse family), 13. 

Chip-bird (see Chipping Sparrow), 149. 

Chipper, Arctic (see Tree Sparrow), 161. 

Chippy (see Chipping Sparrow), 149. 

Meadow (see Seaside Sparrow), 156. 

Winter (see Tree Sparrow), 161. 
Clape (see Flicker), 130. 
Corn Thief (see Common Crow), 41. 
Cowbird, 7, 20, 21, 22, 28, 30, 31, 36, 

49- 

Creeper, Brown, 13, 20, 21, 28, 35, 145. 

family, 13. 

Crossbill, American, 8, 19, 20, 28, 220. 
Red (see American Crossbill), 22a 
White-winged Red, 8, 19, 20, 28, 
221. 

Crossbills, the, 7, 21, 35. 

Crew and Jay family, 6. 



229 




Index 



Crow, Common, 6, 19, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 

36, 41. 
Fish, 6, 19, 20, 2i, 22, 27, 28, 36, 

Rain (see Black-billed Cuckoo) 139 ; 

also Yellow-billed Cuckoo, 141. 
Rusty {see Rusty Blackbird), 46. 
Cuckoo family, 3. 

Black-billed, 3, 19, 20, 21, 28, 30, 

3i. 36, 139. 

Yellow-billed, 3, 19, 20, 21, 28, 30, 

31. 36, 141. 

Devil Downhead {see White-breasted Nut- 
hatch), 84. 
Dove, Carolina (see Mourning Dove), 108. 
family {see Pigeon and Dove fam- 
ily). 15. 
Mourning, 15, 21, 22, 28, 36, 108. 

Turtle (see Mourning Dove), 108. 

Finch family, 7. 

Ferruginous (j?f Fox Sparrow), 153. 
Foxy (see Fox Sparrow), 153. 
Gold (see Goldfinch), 190. 
Grass (see Vesper Sparrow), 162. 
Pine (see Pine Siskin), 146. 
Purple, 8, 19, 20, 21, 23, 28, 29, 30, 

32. 35. "3. 

Seaside (see Seaside Sparrow), 156. 
Swamp (see Swamp Song Sparrow), 

160. 
Towhee Ground (see Chewink), 58. 
Firebird (see Scarlet Tanager), 218. 
Flicker, 4, 19, 21, 22, 27, 28, 30, 32, 36, 

130. 
Flycatcher, Acadian, 5, 19, 22, 28, 31, 35, 
182. 
Canadian (see Canadian Warbler), 

194. 

Crested (see Great Crested Fly- 
catcher), 72. 

Dusky (see Phoebe), 71. 

family, 5, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23. 

Great Crested, 5, 19, 20, 22, 28, 30, 

3i. 35, 7*. 
Least, 5, 19, 20, 22, 28, 30, 31, 35, 

75. 
Olive-sided, 5, 19, 28, 31, 36, 74, 

Say's, 5, 19, 22, 28, 72. 

Small Green-crested (see Acadian 

Flycatcher), 182. 
Sylvan (see Blue-gray Gnatcatcher), 

no. 
Tyrant (see Kingbird), 68. 
Wilson's {see Wilson's Warbler), 202. 
Yellow-bellied, 5, 19, 22, 28, 31, 35, 

183. 



Gnatcatcher, Blue-gray, 14, 19, 20, 22, 
29, 35, no. 



Gnatcatcher family, 14. 
Goatsucker family, 4. 

Long-winged (see Nighthawk), 138. 
Goldcrest, Golden-crowned (see Golden- 
crowned Kinglet), 174. 
Goldfinch, 8, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 

29. 30. 35. X90- 
European, 191. 

Crackle, Bronzed, 7, 19, 20, 21, 22, 28, 

30, 32, 36, 46. 

Keel-tailed (see Purple Grackle), 44. 
Purple, 7, 19, 20, 21, 22, 28, 30, 32, 

36.44. 
Rusty (see Rusty Blackbird), 46. 

Grasel (see Chewink), 58. 
Grass-bird, Red (see Swamp Song Spar- 
row), 160. 
Greenlet family (see Vireo family), 10. 
Grosbeak, Blue, 8, 28, 36, 1 05. 

Cardinal, 8, 21, 27, 28, 29, 36, 215. 

Evening, 8, 28, 36, X92. 

Pine, 8, 20, 27, 36, 2 1 9. 

Rose -breasted, 8, 21, 28, 30, 31, 36, 
60. 
Grosbeaks, the, 7, 19, 20, 21. 

Hair-bird (see Chipping Sparrow), 149. 
Halcyon (see Belted Kingfisher), 102. 
Hang-nest (see Baltimore Oriole), 211. 

Orchard (see Orchard Oriole), 227. 
Hawk, Mosquito (see Nighthawk), 138. 
Heron, Venison (see Canada Jay), 79. 
High-hole or High-holder (see Flicker), 

130. 
Humming-bird family, 5. 

Ruby-throated, 5, 19, 21, 28, 30, 31, 

35, 170. 

Indigo Bird (see Indigo Bunting), 101. 

Jay, Blue, 6, 19, 20, 21, 27, 28, 36, 104. 

Canada, 6, 20, 21, 22, 28, 36, 79. 

family (see Crow and Jay family), 6. 
Junco, 8, 21, 22, 27, 31, 35, 83. 

Kingbird, <, 19, 20, 22, 23, 28, 30, 31, 

Kingfisher, Belted, 3, 20, 21, 23, 28, 30, 

36, 102. 
family, 3. 

Kinglet family, 14. 

Golden-crowned, 14, 20, 21. 28, 32, 

35. 174. 
Ruby-crowned, 14, 20, 21, 28, 30, 

32. 35. «7»- 

Lark, Brown or Red (see American Pipit), 

135. 
family, 5. 

Field (see Meadowlark), 132. 
Horned, 6, 21, 22, 23, 27, 31, 36, 

134- 



230 



Lark, Meadow (see Meadowlark), 132. 
Old field (see Meadowlark), 132. 
Pine (see Pine Siskin), 146. 
Prairie (see Western Meadowlark), 

133. 
Prairie Horned, 6, 22, 27, 29, 135. 

Purple (see Purple Finch), 223. 

Redpoll (see Redpoll), 222. 

Shore (see Horned Lark), 134. 

Snow (see Snowflake), 59. 

Tit (see American Pipit), 135. 
Linnets, the, 7. 
Longspur, Lapland, 8, 22, 28, 35, 148. 

Smith's Painted, 8, 22, 28, 35, 147. 

Maize Thief (see Purple Grackle), 44. 
Martin, Bee (see Kingbird), 68. 

Purple, 9, 19, 2i, 29, 30, 31, 36, 48. 

Sand (see Bank Swallow), 143. 
Mavis (see Brown Thrasher), 121. 
Maybird (see Bobolink), 61. 
Meadowlark, 7, 21, 22, 23, 27, 29, 30, 
32, 36, 13a. 

Western, 7, 21, 22, 23, 27, 29, 36, 

133. 

Mocking-bird, 12, 19, 20, 21, 29, 36, 8 1. 

Brown (see Brown Thrasher), 121. 

French (see Brown Thrasher), 121. 

Yellow, 206. 
Mocking-birds, the, 12. 
Nighthawk, 4, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 28, 30, 

31, 36, 138. 
Nightingale, European, 125. 

Virginia (see Cardinal Grosbeak), 
215. 
Nightjar (see Nighthawk), 138. 
Nine-killer (see Northern Shrike), 87. 
Nuthatch, Canada (see Red-breasted Nut- 
hatch), 85. 
family, 13, 21. 

Red-breasted, 13, 20, 28, 32, 35, 85. 
White-breasted, 13, 20, 27, 29, 32, 
35.84. 

Oriole, Baltimore, 7, 19, 21, 28, 30, 31, 
36, 211. 
Brown-headed (see Cowbird), 49. 
family (see Blackbird and Oriole 

family), 6. 
Golden (see Baltimore Oriole), 211. 
Orchard, 7, 19, 21, 28, 30, 31, 36, 

227. 
Red-winged (see Red-winged Black- 
bird), 47. 
Rusty (see Rusty Blackbird), 46. 
Ortolan, American (see Bobolink), 61. 
Ovenbird, 12, 21, 22, 23, 29, 30, 31, 35, 
180. 

Pewee, Bridge (see Phoebe), 71. 

Small (see Acadian Flycatcher), 182. 



Index 

Pewee, Water (see Phoebe), 71. 

Wood, 5, 19, 20, 22, 23, 28, 30, 3i» 
36,69. 
Phoebe, 5, 19, 20, 22, 23, 28, 30, 32, 35, 

71. 

Say's, 72. 

Pigeon and Dove family, 15. 

Pipit, American, 12, 21, 22, 23, 28, 30, 

35. 135. 
Pipits, the, 12. 

Piramidig (see Nighthawk), 138. 

Pisk (see Nighthawk), 138. 

Pocket-bird (see Scarlet Tanager), 218. 

Preacher, the (see Red-eyed Vireo), 176. 

Raven, American, 6, 19, 20, 28, 36, 43. 

Northern (see American Raven), 43. 

White-necked, 44. 
Recollet (see Cedar Bird), 144. 
Redbird, Black-winged (see Scarlet Tan- 
ager), 218. 

Crested (see Cardinal Grosbeak), 215. 

(see Summer Tanager), 216. 

Smooth-headed (see Summer Tana- 
ger), 216. 

Virginia (see Cardinal Grosbeak), 

215. 
Redhead (see Red-headed Woodpecker), 

53. 
Redpoll, 8, 21, 22, 27, 35, 222. 

Greater, 8, 21, 22, 27, 35, 223, 

Lesser (see Redpoll), 222. 
Redstart, 12, 19, 29, 31, 35, 2IO. 
Reedbird (see Bobolink), 61. 
Robin, American, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 27, 
28, 29, 30, 32, 225. 

Blue (see Bluebird), 99. 

Canada (see Cedar Bird), 144. 

English (see Baltimore Oriole), 211. 

Golden (see Baltimore Oriole), 211. 

Ground (see Chewink), 58. 

Redbreast (see American Robin), 
225. 

Wood (see Wood Thrush), 123. 

Sapsucker (see Yellow-bellied Wood- 
pecker), 57. 
Shrike family, 9. 

Loggerhead, 10, 19, 20, 21, 29, 36, 

Northern, 10, 19, 20, 21, 27, 32, 36, 

87. 

Silktail (see Bohemian Waxwing), 88. 

Siskin, Pine, 8, 20, 28, 32, 35, 146. 
Skylark, European, 5. 
Snowbird (see J unco), 83 ; also Snow- 
flake, 59. 
Lapland (see Lapland Longspur), 

148. 
Little (see Redpoll), 222. 
Slate-colored (see J unco), 83. 



231 




Index 



Snowflake, 8, 22, 27, 36, 59. 

Sparrow, Bush (see Field Sparrow), 152. 

Canada (see Tree Sparrow), 161 ; 
also White-throated Sparrow, 165. 

Chipping, 7, 19, 20, 22, 27. 28, 30, 

35. X49. 

English, 7, 20, 22, 27, 28, 151. 

Field, 7, 22, 28, 30, 32, 15a. 

Fox, 7, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 32, 

36, 153. 

Fox-colored (see Fox Sparrow), 153. 
Grasshopper, 7, 22, 28, 31, 35, 154. 
House (see English Sparrow), 151. 
Marsh (see Swamp Song Sparrow), 

160. 
Savanna, 7, 22, 28, 32, 35, X55. 
Seaside, 7, 22, 28, 35, 256. 
Sharp-tailed, 7, 22, 28, 35, 157. 
Social (see Chipping Sparrow), 149. 
Song, 8, 20, 2i, 22, 23, 27, 28, 30, 

35, 158. 
Swamp (see Swamp Song Sparrow), 

160. 
Swamp Song, 8, 22, 27, 28, 30, 32, 

35. 160. 
Tree, 8, 19, 20, 21, 22, 27, 31, 35, 

261. 
Vesper, 8, 20, 22, 23, 27, 28, 30, 31, 

35. 16a. 
White-crowned, 8, 20, 21, 22, 27, 

32, 36, 164. 
White-throated, 8, 20, 21, 22, 27, 

30, 31. 36, 165. 
Wood (see Field Sparrow), 152. 
Yellow-winged (see Grasshopper 

Sparrow), 154. 
Sparrows, the, 7, 19, 21, 22. 
Starling, Orchard (see Orchard Oriole), 

227. 
Red-winged (see Red-winged Black- 
bird), 47. 
Swallow, Bank, 9, 19, 22, 23, 29, 30, 35, 

M3. 

Barn, 9, 19, 21, 22, 23, 29, 30, 35, 

106. 

Chimney (see Chimney Swift), 67. 
Cliff, 9, 19, 21, 22, 23, 29, 30, 31, 35, 

107. 
Crescent (see Cliff Swallow), 107. 
Eave (see Cliff Swallow), 107. 
family, 9, 20, 22, 23. 
Rocky Mountain (see Cliff Swallow), 

107. 
Rough-winged, 9, 19, 22, 23, 29, 35, 

144. 
Sand (see Bank Swallow), 143. 
Tree, 9, 19, 22, 23, 29, 30, 35, 169. 
White-bellied (see Tree Swallow), 

169. 
Swamp Angel (see Hermit Thrush), 125. 
Swift, American (see Chimney Swift), 67. 



Swift, Chimney, 5, 19, 21, 23, 28. 30, 
31. 35, 67. 
family, 4. 

Tanager, Canada (see Scarlet Tanager), 
218. 

family, 8, 21. 

Scarlet, 8, 19, 28, 30, 31. 36, 2x8. 

Summer, 8, 19, 29, 36, 2X0. 
Teacher, the (see Ovenbird), 180. 
Thrasher, Brown, 12, 19, 20, 21, 22, 29, 

30, 32, 36, 121. 
Thrashers, the, 12. 

Thrush, Alice's, 15, 29, 30, 32, 36, 126. 
Aquatic (see Northern Water 

Thrush), 120. 
Black-capped (see Catbird), 80. 
Brown (see Brown Thrasher), 121. 
family, 14, 19, 21. 
Gray-cheeked (see Alice's Thrush), 

126. 
Golden-crowned (see Ovenbird), 180. 
Ground (see Brown Thrasher), 121. 
Hermit, 15, 29, 30, 31, 36, 125. 
Little (see Hermit Thrush), 125. 
Louisiana Water, 12, 21, 22, 23, 29, 

30, 31, 35. «5* 
New York (see Northern Water 

Thrush), 129. 
Northern Water, 12, 21, 22, 23, 29, 

30, 31. 35. 1*6. 
Olive-backed, 15,, 29, 30, 32, 36, 

127. 
Red (see Brown Thrasher), 121. 
Red-breasted or Migratory (see 

American Robin), 225. 
Song (see Wood Thrush), 123. 
Swainson's (see Olive-backed 

Thrush), 127. 
Tawny (see Wilson's Thrush), 122. 
Wilson's, 15, 21, 22, 29, 30, 31, 32, 

36, X22. 
Wood, 15, 20, 21, 29, 30, 31, 32, 36, 

123. 
Tit, Black-capped (see Chickadee), 76. 
Titlark (see American Pipit), 135. 
Titmouse Black-capped (see Chickadee), 

76. 
Crested (see Tufted Titmouse), 78. 
family, 13, 21. 
Tufted, 14, 19, 20, 21, 27, 28, 29, 

3i. 35, 78. 

Tomtit, Crested (see Tufted Titmouse), 
78. 

Torch-bird (see Blackburnian Warbler), 
209. 

Towhee (see Chewink), 58. 

Tree-mouse (see White-breasted Nut- 
hatch), 84. 

Tricolor (see Red-headed Woodpecker^ 
53. 



232 



Veery (see Wilson's Thrush), 122. 
Vireo, Blue-headed (see Solitary Vireo), 

175. 
family, 10, 19, 21, 22. 

Red-eyed, 10, 20, 22, 29, 30, 31, 35, 

176. 

Solitary, io, 20, 22, 29, 30, 31, 35, 

175. 
Warbling, 10, 20, 22, 29, 30, 31, 35, 

179. 

White-eyed, 10, 20, 21, 22, 29, 30, 

3*. 35. 177. 
Yellow-throated, 10, 20, 22, 29, 30, 

31, 35, 189. 

Wagtail, Aquatic Wood (see Northern 
Water Thrush), 129. 
Golden-crowned (see Ovenbird), 180. 
Wood (see Ovenbird), 180. 
Wagtails, the, 12. 
Wake-up (see Flicker), 130. 
Warbler, Bay-Breasted, 11, 29, 30, 31, 
90. 
Black-and-white Creeping, 11, 20, 

29, 30, 31, 64. 
Black- and -yellow (see Magnolia 

Warbler), 197. 
Blackburnian, 11, 29, 31, 209. 
Black-masked Ground (see Maryland 

Yellowthroat), 207. 
Blackpoll, 11, 19, 20, 29, 63. 
Black-throated Blue, 11, 29, 30, 31, 

95. 

Black-throated Green, 11, 29, 30, 

184. 

Bloody-sided (see Chestnut-sided 
Warbler), 90. 

Blue-headed Yellow-rumped (see 
Magnolia Warbler), 197. 

Blue-winged, 11, 20, 29, 193. 

Blue-winged Yellow (see Blue- 
winged Warbler), 193. 

Blue Yellow-backed (see Panda 
Warbler), 94. 

Canadian, 11, 19, 22, 23, 29, 31, 
194. 

Chestnut-sided, 11, 29, 30, 31, 90. 

Golden (see Yellow Warbler), 204. 

Golden- winged, 11, 29, 30, 31, 91. 

Green Black-capped (see Wilson's 
Warbler), 202. 

Hemlock (see Blackburnian War- 
bler), 209. 

Hooded, 11, 21, 22, 20, 31, X95. 

Kentucky, 11, 22, 196. 

Magnolia, 11, 29, 30, 197. 

Mourning, 11, 21. 22, 29, 198. 

Mourning Ground (see Mourning 
Warbler), 198. 

Myrtle, 11, 21, 27, 29, 30, 92. 

Nashville, 11, 29, 199. 



Index 

Warbler, Orange-throated (see Black- 
burnian Warbler), 209. 

Palm, 11, 22, 29, 204. 

Parula, 11, 29, 30, 31, 94. 

Pine, 11, 20, 29, 30, 31, 200. 

Pine Creeping (see Pine Warbler), 
200. 

Prairie, 11, 22, 29, 31, 201. 

Redpoll (see Palm Warbler), 204. 

Ruby-crowned (see Ruby-crowned 
Kinglet), 172. 

Spotted (see Magnolia Warbler), 197. 

Spotted Canadian (see Canadian 
Warbler), 194. 

Wilson's, 12, 19, 22, 23, 29, 31, 202. 

Worm-eating, 12, 20, 22, 29, 31, 
z8x. 

Yellow, 12, 19, 20, 22, 23, 29, 3c, 
3i, 204. 

Yellow-crowned (see Myrtle War- 
bler), 92. 

Yellow Palm (see Yellow Redpoll 
Warbler), 203. 

Yellow Redpoll, 12, 22, 29, 30, 31, 
203. 

Yellow-rumped (see Myrtle Warbler), 
92. 

Yellow-tailed (see Redstart), 210. 
Waxwing, Black-throated (see Bohemian 
Waxwing), 88. 

Bohemian, 9, 19, 20, 27, 36, 88. 

Cedar (see Cedar Bird), 144. 

family, 9. 

Lapland (see Bohemian Waxwing), 
88. 
Whisky Jack or John (see Canada Jay), 

79- 
Whitebird (see Snowflake), 59. 
Whippoorwill, 4, 19, 20, 21, 22, 28, 31, 

35. X36. 

Will-o'-the-Wisp (see Nighthawk), 138. 
Woodpecker, Downy, 4, 19, 27, 28, 35, 

55. 

family, 3, 21, 22. 

Golden-winged (see Flicker), 130. 
Hairy, 4, 19, 27, 28, 36, 54. 
Pigeon (see Flicker), 130. 
Red-headed, 4, 19, 27, 28, 30, 32, 

36.53. 
Yellow-bellied, 4, 19, 27, 28, 30, 32, 

35. 57- 
Yellow-shafted (see Flicker), 130. 

Wood Warbler family, 10, 19, 20, 21, 35. 
Wren, Carolina, 13, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 
Xl6. 
family, 13, 19, 21, 22, 35. 
Fiery-crowned (see Golden-crowned 

Kinglet), 174. 
House, 13, 20, 29, 30, 31, X15. 
Long-billed Marsh, 13, 22, 29, 30, 
31. "9- 



233 




In4e« 



Wren, Mocking (see Carolina Wren), 

116. 
Ruby-crowned (see Ruby-crowned 

Kinglet), 172. 
Short-billed Marsh, 13, 29, 30, 31, 

iao. 
Winter, 13, 21, 22, 23, 28, 31, 1x7. 



Yarnp (see Flicker), 130. 

Yellowbird (see American Goldfinch), 190. 

Summer (see Yellow Warbler), 204. 
Yellowhammer (see Flicker), 130. 
Yellow Poll (see Yellow Warbler), 204. 
Yellowthroat, Maryland, 12, 19, 21, 22, 

23, 29, 30, 31, 207. 



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