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Full text of "Birds of New York"

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http://www.archive.org/details/birdsofnewyork02eatouoft 









The University of the State of New York 



New York State Museum 



/n 



John M. Clarke, Director 



Memoir 12 



>^' 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



BY 



ELON JIOWARI) EATON 



GENERAL CHAPTERS; LAND BIRDS 



Introductory note - - - - 3 

Bird ecology 5 

The economic value of birds - - 46 

The status of our bird laws - - 51 

Special measures for increasing bird life 52 

Bird refuges ----- 58 




Private preserves - - - - 59 

Description of genera and species - 61 
Addendum: New York bird history 

since 1910 ----- 542 
Explanations of plates - - - 545 
Index ------- 673 



ALBANY 

THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OP NEW YORK 
1914 



THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK 
Regents of the University 

With years when terms expire 

1917 St Clair McKelwav M.A. LL.D. D.C.L. L.H.D. 

Clianccllor - Brooklyn 
1926 Pi.iNY T. Skxton LL. B. LL.D. I'/cc Clianccllor - Palmyra 

1915 Albkrt Va.vdi-r Viii-R M.D. M.A. Ph.D. LL.D. - Albany 

1922 CiiK.sTER S. Lord M.A. LL.D. . - . - New York 

1918 William Nottingham M.A. Ph.D. LL.D. - - Syracuse 

192 1 Francis M. Cari'i-atlr . . - - . Mount Kisco 

1923 Abram L Ei.kus LL. B. D.C.L. . - . . New York 

1924 Adki.bkrt Moot ------- Buffalo 

1925 Charlk.s B. Alkxandkr M.A. LL.B. LL.D. Litt.D. Tuxedo 

1919 John Moork -------- Elmira 

1920 Ani)Ri:\v J. SiiiPMAN M.A. LL.B. LL.D. - - New York 

1916 Walter Guest Kellogg B.A. . - . - Ogdensburg 

President of the University 
and Commissioner of Education 

John 11. Finlkv M.A. LL.D. 

Assistant Commissioners 

Augustus S. Downing M.A. L.H.D. LL.D. For Higher Education 
Charles Y. Wheelock B.S. LL.D. For Secondary Ediication 
Thomas E. Finegan M.A. Pd.D. LL.D. For Elementary Edncation 

Director of State Library 

James L Wvkk, Jk, M.L.S. 

Director of Science and State Museum 

John M. Clarke Ph.D. D.Sc. LL.D. 

Chiefs of Divisions 

Administration, George M. Wilev M..A^. 

Attendance, James D. Sullivan 

Educational Extension, William R. Wap.son B.S. 

Examinations, Harlan H. Horner B.A. 

History, James A. Holden B.A. 

Inspections, P""rank H. Wood M.A. 

Law, Frank B. Gilbert B.A. 

Library School, Frank K. Walter M.A. M.L.S. 

Public Records, Thomas C. Quinn 

School Libraries, Sher.man Wii.lia.ms Pd.D. 

Statistics, Hiram C. Case 

Visual Listruction, Alered W. Aurams Ph.B. 

Vocational Schools, Arthur I). Dean B..Sc. 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 
The first volume of this work was communicated for pubUcation in 
1908 and was distributed to the people of this State and to the general 
scientific public in 191 o. It was the expectation that volume i would be 
immediately followed by another volume which would afford descriptive 
accounts, with necessary illustrations, of the land birds of New York, but 
this purpose has been obstructed by the regrettable illness of the author. 
Students of the birds interested in this work will, therefore, understand 
the reason for the apparent long delay in the completion of this under- 
taking. With the presentation of this volume 2, the entire field, as 
originally planned for the work, is covered, and there are excellent reasons 
for feeling that the unavoidable delay has, in some regards, increased the 
real value of the present book, as it has a,fforded opportunity for the 
preparation of chapters of a more general import, particularly bearing 
upon the relations of the bird life of the State to human concerns. 

John M. Clarke 

Director' 



The University of the State of New York 

- ' — " ■ 

New York State Museum 

John M. Clarke:, Director 
Memoir 12 

BIRDS OF NEW YORK 

BY 
ELON HOWARD EATON 

PART 2 

BIRD ECOLOGY 
It is evident that any comprehensive scheme for the protection of 
bird life, the increase of valuable species or the introduction of new ones, 
must proceed on sound principles of bird ecology, or the relationship of 
birds to their environment, and their ability to adapt themselves to new 
conditions as they arise. It is not our purpose in this short chapter to 
discuss the reaction to environment which resulted in the development 
of the bird's wing and feathers or its numberless other structures which 
fit the various species of birds for life in their chosen spheres, but rather 
to consider those general principles of ecology which show the relationship 
of our different species of birds, first, to their natural environment as it 
existed in primeval times, and second, to the changed environment which 
obtains throughout the greater portion of the State at the present day. 
It is so often thought to be merely a question of the protection of birds 
from boys, gunners, cats and hawks which is necessary to insure their 
proper abundance that a consideration of the subject of ecology seems 

5 



6 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

absolutely necessary at the present time in order to explain the probable 
reasons why some birds are abundant in various sections of the State and 
others are fast disappearing ; and to suggest reasonable means of encouraging 
desirable birds to increase in our domains. 

Fundamental Factors of Environment 
Climatic. Of the natural factors which influence the bird life of any 
part of the world, those due to the climate are undoubtedly of foremost 
importance. Among these is light, the effect of which may be illustrated 
by reference to owls, goatsuckers and woodcocks, which feed mostly by 
night or in the twilight, and in the daytime must hide away in hollows 
or dark portions of the forest. To a less extent the influence of this factor 
is observed in those forest species such as many thrushes and wood warb- 
lers whose eyes are noticeably larger than those of their relatives which 
live in more open surroundings, and unquestionably the intensity of light 
affects their nervous equilibrium to such an extent that it even determines 
their presence or absence in a given locality, apart from all other factors. 
Temperature has usually been considered the most important climatic 
factor and is the principal one taken into account by the United States 
Biological Survey in mapping the distribution of animals in America. 
As illustrations of this factor, it is frequently evident when surveying 
a ravine in central New York or when approaching the outskirts of the 
Adirondacks, that such species as the Junco, Canada warbler and Hermit 
thrush will frequently be present or absent according as the average 
temperature varies 2 or 3 degrees during the six hottest weeks of summer. 
Of very great importance is the humidity, which is largely dependent 
upon temperature and, with it, regulates the distribution of many species. 
As direct examples of this factor, the author has become convinced that 
such birds as the Wood thrush and the Hooded warbler are usually found 
in a denser cover than some of their allies merely because the percentage 
of humidity is higher in the coverts where they are found than in other 
localities which, by the casual observer, might be considered equally con- 



I 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 7 

genial to them, and because of the humidity, the rate of evaporation from 
their bodies is proportionately reduced. In the hard wood tract described 
on page 27, it was noticeable that as the lower thickets disappeared 
by growth of the taller poles, the amount of humidity within ten feet of 
the ground was perceptibly lower, so that it undoubtedly was not only 
the lack of favorable nesting sites, but the slight change in humidity 
acting with it, which caused the Hooded warbler and the Wood thrush 
to disappear. Conversely, on many bushy hillsides, if the atmosphere is 
comparatively dry, the Field sparrows, chewinks and thrashers will be in 
evidence. In damper thickets yellowthroats and Yellow-billed cuckoos 
will appear, undoubtedly attracted not primarily by the edaphic condition 
but by the humidity of the bush stratum which lies just above the ground. 

Another climatic factor of great import is rainfall, which affects the 
forest growth ; but apart from its influence upon vegetation and thus upon 
bird life, it is also a direct factor when flooding marshes and destroying 
the nests with eggs and young, or when beating down nests directly from 
their support, and sometimes even destroying the full-grown birds them- 
selves,! and by the destruction of migrating birds, often observed, while 
crossing the sea or large lakes. When the rain is dense enough birds 
frequently lose their bearing and fly headlong into the water without 
realizing the direction they are taking. 

Ice and snow are also factors worthy of consideration as they frequently 
cover the food of many species during the winter season. In this way 
Quail are frequently winterkilled, and in the early spring meadowlarks 
and Savannah sparrows in western New York may often be observed in 
severe straits during the days of late March and early April. Many species 
during an extensive ice storm or snow storm are in danger of starvation. 
In the winter of 1895, as elsewhere noted, the Bluebird was nearly 
exterminated by continued ice storms in its winter home and its numbers 
were again decimated by the severe winter of 1911-12. During a severe 

'Great numbers of sparrows killed in Providence by cold rain and sleet (Bumpus, Wood's Hole 
Biological Lectures 1898, p. 24). 



8 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

snowstorm millions of longspurs were destroyed in Minnesota (see page 
56, volume 1). , 

Winds are also a climatic factor of effective influence not only in 
determining the humidity and the rainfall of a region, but also because 
of their influence upon migrating birds. As an example note the destruction 
of warblers, beaten into the sea by severe head winds while crossing the 
Gulf of Mexico, mentioned by Frazar (Henshaw, Nutt. Om. Club Bui. 6, 
189). Every bird student may also recall numerous instances of nests and 
young birds blown down and destroyed by high winds. 

Other climatic factors, such as hail and electricity, might also be 
mentioned, and the illustrations given might be multiplied indefinitely, 
but we trust that those cited will serve to show that these various factors 
act directly upon the physiological nature of the bird and thus serve to 
control its abundance, or even its very presence in a given locality. 

Physiographic factors. The wrinkling and sculpturing of the earth's 
surface into great or small land masses, mountains, ravines, valleys, flood 
plains, marshes, streams, lakes, sounds and seas, thereby determining the 
slope of the land and the influence of the sun's rays upon it, all have great 
influence upon the avifauna of a region. It is evident that they control 
many of the climatic factors, especially the latitude and altitude determin- 
ing the temperature and the humidity, and the latter is controlled also 
by the nearness to the sea and the presence of streams or underground 
water on the slopes of ravines and hillsides. 

The various statements made in the chapter on distribution in 
volume I, illustrate the influence of mountains or altitude upon the various 
zones of bird life within the State. The effect of ravines is well displayed 
in central and western New York where many Canadian species are often 
found on the south side of ravines which are not exposed so directly to 
the sun's rays, whereas on the north margin of the same ravine AUeghanian 
and Carolinian species usually predominate. The influence of streams and 
bodies of water is clearly illustrated by their effect on the presence of such 
species as kingfishers, herons, ducks and shore birds. Marshes are 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 9 

indispensable to the presence of rails, bitterns and numerous species 
which belong to their community. Rocky cliffs determine the nesting 
sitje of Duck hawks and murres. Thus it might be shown that the physi- 
ography of every locality attracts its own characteristic bird life. 

Soil factors. The character of the soil, whether it is wet or dry, 
must not be neglected while making a study of bird ecology; and the 
material of its composition, whether rock, gravel, sand, clay, loam, marl, 
muck or peaty ooze; also its richness in mineral ingredients such as lime, 
nitrates, sulphates, phosphates etc. These edaphic conditions influence 
bird life mainly through their control of vegetation and so affect the 
breeding and feeding habitats of numerous species. Some are more directly 
affected, such as the Bank swallows, woodcocks, and snipes which can not 
breed or find their food supply except in proper soil. 

Biotic factors. Under this heading must be considered first, plants 
as furnishing nesting sites, food and shelter, and also as controlling the 
light, heat, humidity, and through the heat and humidity the rate of 
evaporation which is of great importance in determining the presence 
of various species of animals in a given habitat. The effect of vegetation 
upon the nesting site is illustrated in the case of all arboreal species which 
decline directly in proportion to the deforestation of a region, and of the 
thicket community which is very quickly affected by pasturing or the 
clearing of hillsides and swamps. Illustrating the important effect upon 
various species by certain kinds of vegetation, I noticed that in 1880 the 
Purple finch appeared as a common breeding species in the village of Spring- 
ville at the same time with the growth of numerous spruce and cedar trees 
which were planted by residents in their dooryards. When these became 
of a height from ten to twenty feet they were invariably utilized by the 
finch as breeding sites. Everyone has noticed the influence of the American 
elm upon the abundance of the Baltimore oriole, which, although it breeds 
also in various other kinds of trees, succeeds much more often in rearing 
its young when it chooses the drooping branches of an elm. In driving 
across the country in springtime everyone must have noticed that colonies 



lO NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

of Bronzed grackles are almost always found about dooryards and road- 
sides where groups of spruces or pine trees are growing. Thus, if carefully 
studied, a large percentage of our native birds will be found to choose 
a preferred site for nesting. 

Plants as affecting the food directly are of most importance, of course, 
in the case of frugivorous and granivorous species such as the Grouse, 
Bobwhite and Sparrow which will not be abundant in any district unless 
their favorite food can be found. Striking examples of the influence of 
food are frequently noticed; a crop of mountain ash berries attracts flocks 
of Cedar birds and Pine grosbeaks. Large beds of vallisneria in the central 
lakes, of recent years have attracted flocks of redheads and canvasbacks, 
sometimes hundreds and thousands, during the early winter. The Ruffed 
grouse is frequently observed traveling long distances in the winter to feed 
on the buds of birch and apple trees. Unless its coverts contain a suffi- 
cient admixture of such species upon which it can feed in winter it will 
rapidly disappear. A crop of cones in spruce or pine trees frequently 
attracts flocks of crossbills in winter or early spring, and a field of lettuce 
or dandelions will bring l9.rge nvmibers of goldfinches to feed on the 
seeds. 

Plants are also of great importance as shelter for birds apart 
from their use as nesting sites, and apart from furnishing food. They 
afford a refuge from enemies as well as from storms and the heat of 
the sun. Everyone has seen sparrows and other birds scurrying to the 
shrubbery when disturbed in the open field or when pursued by hawks 
or cats. When grouse are frightened they seek either the dense thicket 
or trees as a refuge, the former when pursued by hawks and the latter 
when pursued by dogs or foxes. During the migration season one must 
look for transient birds on the leeward side of the woods during wind 
storms. Here they are often found feeding at leisure, while on the windy 
side few or none are observed. Once while seeking refuge beneath a dense 
maple from an approaching 'thunder shower, I observed a small company 
of goldfinches come diving into the tree and arrange themselves so that 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK II 

each was protected as by an umbrella under the overhanging leaves near 
the top of the twig selected for its perch. Everyone has noticed how rapidly 
the birds disappear during a severe storm, each seeking its proper refuge 
and almost without exception this refuge is some kind of vegetation. The 
importance of a shelter from the heat of the sun is illustrated by the actions 
of mother robins and other birds when the sun shines directly upon their 
nestlings. Then they stand on the edge of the nest and shade the birds 
with their outstretched wings. In a similar way the older birds themselves 
are affected by the extreme heat of midday. As everyone knows, the 
time to go birding is in the morning or in the afternoon. During the 
middle of the day the birds are quiet and a greater portion of them are 
hidden away in the shadows of the trees and shrubs. During the hottest 
days of midsummer one may often notice our common birds standing 
with drooping wings and open mouths within the shade of the foliage 
seeking to avoid the overheating due to the direct rays of the sun. 

Under biotic factors must also be classed the various animals which 
affect the bird as a part of its environment, either food, allies or enemies. 
As food it is evident that all carnivorous, piscivorous and insectivorous 
species will necessarily be present or absent according as their favorite 
food may be found. One may not seek for Belted kingfishers in the midst 
of a plain, nor for insectivorous birds over the middle of the lake or sea. 
During the winter of 1901 meadow mice were very abundant in the fields 
of western New York, and the Rough-legged hawk, their principal enemy, 
appeared in abundance. The withdrawing of water from the Erie canal 
left large numbers of small fish stranded in the wide waters of eastern 
Rochester, and immediately great numbers of Herring and Ring-billed 
gulls appeared and remained there until the fish were devoured. During 
the migration seasons of 191 1 and 191 2 the author noticed an unusual 
number of warblers of eleven species frequenting a group of beech trees 
on a tree-covered campus in Geneva, and on investigation discovered 
that this group of trees was infested with an innumerable swarm of plant 
lice upon which the birds were feeding. Other groups of trees which 



12 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

looked equally attractive to the casual observer had no warblers among 
their branches. These illustrations easily indicate the relationship between 
food and the abundance of a species, but it must be borne in mind that 
similar relationships are all the while at work governing the abundance 
of birds when the exact cause is not manifest to the observer. 

As allies, some animals affect slightly the abundance of species. 
Undoubtedly the Kingbird assists the Yellow warbler and other birds 
in escaping from the depredations of hawks and crows when nesting in 
the same orchard, and the various little associations observed, such as 
the Downy woodpecker, Nuthatch, Chicadee, Creeper and Kinglet coterie, 
have a real cause for their existence other than the desire for mutual 
companionship . 

The most evident cause of the disappearance of birds, to the casual 
observer, is the enemy factor. Under the head of enemies must be classed 
all beasts and birds of prey, rivals and parasites. To illustrate the influence 
of these factors, it is often observed by bird students that a single pair 
of Sharp-shinned hawks will destroy nearly every song bird in the wood 
where they are nesting, and a cat which has discovered a brood of bob- 
whites will return to their range and follow the birds until every chick 
has been destroyed. In the same way the cat destroys the broods of 
nvunerous birds which nest in the garden and dooryard, and the parasitic 
Cowbird which lays her egg in the nest of a small warbler or sparrow 
thereby destroys the entire brood of the other bird. To illustrate the 
influence of rivalry, we might mention the effect of the English sparrow 
upon the martins and bluebirds. By continually occupying their nesting 
sites it is gradually forcing these birds more and more from our dooryards, 
and, unless the martins and bluebirds are assisted, they will finally be 
driven from the immediate vicinity of our homes. I have also observed 
that the Wren frequently picks holes in the Bluebird's eggs, and thus 
destroys one of her rivals in the race for food. The problem of food rivalry 
is rather complex, but unquestionably is very often of a determining 
influence in governing the abundance of various species. Parasites must 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 13 

also be regarded as enemies of the birds, especially the bird-lice which 
frequently destroy whole broods of phoebes and swallows, and seriously 
impair the* vitality of others. Internal parasites are also a source of great 
harm. During one afternoon in the summer of 1900, the author picked 
up forty terns on the Weepecket islands which had died from the effect of 
flat-worms growing within the intestine. Thus various kinds of parasites 
frequently sap the vitality of birds or destroy them altogether. 

The various factors enumerated work together to make up the bird's 
environment. By a combination of favorable factors, as opposed to the 
unfavorable ones in any given locality, the balance may be turned to the 
bird's advantage, so that it may increase like the English sparrow in 
America. If the natural influences which are unfriendly to the presence of 
a bird overbalance the favorable factors, it is useless to expect the species 
to increase. The factors which naturally produce a favorable environment 
for it must be induced artificially if the species is to be encouraged. 
A thorough study of the ecologic status of the birds which societies or 
individuals wish to encourage in a given locality, should be made when 
any action is taken either to introduce or to encourage the species and by 
varying those factors which are of the greatest importance to produce 
a favorable environment they may finally be successfully encouraged. 

Bird Habitats 
For ecological purposes, birds are properly classified according to the 
nesting habitats which they occupy, but for various reasons these do not 
always agree with the places chosen for the birds' other life activities, 
and it is necessary, for purposes of general discussion, to recognize also 
the feeding habitat. This is different from the breeding habitat of all 
truly aerial and aquatic species, of which we have a goodly number. All 
our diving birds, gulls and waterfowl must necessarily make their nests 
on shore and are usually classified according to the habitat which they 
utilize for that purpose; but in many of the species, especially the diving 
ducks, grebes and loons, the food is almost entirely pursued and taken 



14 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

in the water. In the aerial feeding habitat we notice such species as the 
Nighthawk, WTiippoorwill, swifts and swallows; and, to a certain degree, 
the flycatchers, waxwings, the Red-headed woodpecker, warblers, kinglets 
and even many species of sparrows. Of our land birds, likewise, many 
that are arboreal in nesting habits are eminently terrestrial in their feeding, 
such as the crows, grackles, robins, and, to a certain extent, many species 
which normally feed in trees or shrubbery, as they frequently alight upon 
the ground to capture their prey; and others like the Bluebird and Red- 
headed woodpecker which frequently take their food from the ground 
although watching for it from more elevated stations. Many species 
like the herons are arboreal in nesting habits but seek their food in the 
marshes and streams and lake shores. Some species of ducks that feed 
in the open water or in the marsh make their nests in hollow trees. Thus 
the feeding habitat must be recognized in considering the landscape which 
should be most advantageous to a species, as well as the breeding habitat 
which is necessary for its increase. 

Likewise, the refuge habitat is of importance in this connection, for 
many birds will not appear even in migration time unless their proper 
refuge is at hand to protect them both from their enemies and from the 
wind or rain or sunshine. Everyone has noticed that many species of 
waterfowl which feed in the shallows or marshes make their refuge habitat 
on the wide waters of lakes and bays, or even the ocean, and that birds 
like the Blackbird, Robin and Swallow, that feed in the open field and 
scatter widely during the nesting season, unite to seek a safe refuge for 
roosting purposes, often congregating in immense numbers to pass the 
night or to combine against their enemies. The importance of the refuge 
habitat is more noticeable in the case of granivorous species than others, 
for they necessarily seek their food largely in the fields, and yet most of 
them do not roost or nest in the field, and, if disturbed while feeding, will 
quickly seek the friendly shelter of shrubbery or dense foliage. This is 
particularly noticeable in the case of sparrows and juncos during the 
migrating season. Scores of them may be feeding in the open field, but 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 15 

if any one approaches, or' if a dog runs toward them, they immediately 
rise and follow each other in succession to the shelter of the thickets. 
These shelter or refuge habitats are of particular importance in the case 
of game birds, as all sportsmen know, for it is in the best cover that they 
search for the Grouse, Pheasant and Bobwhite. The various nesting 
habitats are enumerated in connection with the bird communities which 
inhabit them. 

NESTING SITES OF NEW YORK BIRDS 
For ecological purposes it is necessary to determine the nesting habitat 
and exact nesting site of birds in order to classify them properly. In 
recording the nesting site, we might arrange our birds according to the 
strata or layers or stories which they occupy, as follows: 

Subterranean stratum. In this are included the Kingfisher, Bank 
swallow. Rough-winged swallow and occasionally the English sparrow 
when usurping the nesting holes of Bank swallows. 

Ground stratum. Here are found all the birds which place their 
nests directly upon the ground, such as the Loon, Herring gull (on rocks). 
Mallard, Black duck, Blue-winged teal, Woodcock, Bertramian sandpiper, 
Killdeer, Piping plover (sand or pebbles), Bobwhite, Ruffed grouse. 
Pheasant, Mourning dove (occasionally), Duck hawk (on rocky ledges), 
Nighthawk, Whippoorwill, Prairie horned lark. Bobolink, Cowbird (in 
Song sparrow's nest, etc.), Meadowlark, Vesper sparrow, Savannah sparrow, 
Grasshopper sparrow. Song sparrow (usually), Field sparrow (usually), 
Junco, Towhee (usually). Black and white warbler, Canada warbler. Worm- 
eating warbler, Nashville warbler. Blue-winged warbler (occasionally), 
Ovenbird, Kentucky warbler, Brown thrasher (frequently), Wilson thrush, 
and Hermit thrush. Here also might be included those species which nest 
on the oozy ground or grass or moss of marshes, such as the Pied-billed 
grebe, Black tern, American bittern, King rail, Sora rail, Virginia rail, 
Florida gallinule. Coot, Wilson snipe. Marsh hawk and Short-eared owl. 
Also those species whose nests are usually placed in mossy banks or moss- 



l6 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

covered logs and in the roots of trees, like the Yellow-bellied fly-catcher, 
White-throated sparrow, Junco, Water thrush and Louisiana water thrush. 

Herb stratum. Here are included those species whose nests are 
usually placed in tussocks of grass or flags or among tangles of ferns and 
weeds. Many species which nest habitually upon the ground or in thickets 
are frequently found nesting in this stratum, but its most characteristic 
representatives are the Least bittern, Red-winged blackbird. Sharp-tailed 
sparrow. Seaside sparrow. Swamp sparrow. Song sparrow, Blue-winged 
warbler. Golden-winged warbler, Mourning warbler, Maryland yellow- 
throat. Short-billed marsh wren and Long-billed marsh wren. 

Thicket stratum. In this are included all birds which usually nest 
in bushes or in small saplings, usually in tangles on the borders of woods 
and in the undergrowth of the forest. The nests are usually placed from 
one to eight feet above the ground. The characteristic representatives 
of this story are the Yellow-billed cuckoo. Black-billed cuckoo. Alder 
flycatcher, Cowbird, Rusty blackbird, American goldfinch (often in trees), 
Field sparrow (frequently on the ground), Song sparrow (later broods), 
Cardinal, Indigo bird, Migrant shrike (often in low trees), White-eyed 
vireo. Yellow warbler (frequently in trees). Chestnut-sided warbler, Prairie 
warbler. Black-throated blue warbler. Myrtle warbler and Blackpoll warbler 
(in low spruces), Maryland yellowthroat (occasionally on the ground), 
Yellow-breasted chat, Hooded warbler. Redstart (occasionally). Catbird, 
Brown thrasher (sometimes on ground), Olive-backed thrush. I was 
surprised to note how few species had been entered under this stratum, 
because it seemed to me it would include by far the most of all the strata 
enumerated, but this impression is undoubtedly due to the fact that the 
layer is so frequently invaded by both terrestrial and by arboreal species 
which belong more characteristically in the lower tree stratum. 

Lower tree stratum. In this are included those birds that do not 
require so dense a covert for the nesting site as the thicket stratum, but 
prefer a moisture habitat in which the rate of evaporation is lower 
than in the tree-top story which follows. They are characteristically the 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK I7 

birds of the shaded or lower branches of forests and groves, placing their 
nests from 5 to 35 feet above the ground. Here we might include the 
Green heron, Mourning dove, Sharp-shinned hawk, Ruby-throated humming 
bird, Kingbird, Wood pewee, Green-crested flycatcher, Least flycatcher, 
Bluejay, Orchard oriole, Purple finch, Goldfinch, Chipping sparrow, Rose- 
breasted grosbeak, Scarlet tanager. Cedar waxwing, Red-eyed vireo, 
Blue-headed vireo, Parula warbler, MagnoUa warbler, Black-throated green 
warbler, Redstart, Golden-crowned kinglet. Wood thrush, Robin. 

Higher tree stratum or tree-top story. Many species included in 
the former story frequently invade the higher portions of the trees, 
especially trees which have not reached their maximum height in the forest; 
but as building more characteristically in this layer we might mention 
the Great blue heron. Black-crowned night heron, Cooper hawk, Goshawk, 
Red-tailed hawk, Red-shouldered hawk. Broad-winged hawk. Bald eagle. 
Fish hawk, Long-eared owl, Barred owl (occasionally). Great homed owl 
(frequently), Olive-sided flycatcher, Raven, Crow, Fish crow, Baltimore 
oriole, Purple grackle. Bronzed grackle, Crossbill, Siskin, Warbling vireo. 
Yellow-throated vireo. Cerulean warbler, Blackbumian warbler. Pine 
warbler. 

Birds nesting in hollow trees. These species might have been 
included in the last two strata enumerated, but as it is of more importance 
to recognize them as birds nesting in hollows or woodpecker holes, they 
are placed under this separate heading. In it are included the American 
merganser. Hooded merganser. Wood duck. Golden eye, Duck hawk (very 
rarely), Sparrow hawk. Long-eared owl (occasionally). Barred owl 
(usually). Saw- whet owl. Screech owl, Great homed owl (frequently), 
Chimney swift (rarely at the present day). Crested flycatcher. Bronzed 
grackle (occasionally). Song sparrow (rarely). Purple martin (occasionally), 
Tree swallow, Prothonotary warbler (built once in this State), Carolina 
wren. House wren. Brown creeper (behind loose bark). White-breasted 
nuthatch, Red-breasted nuthatch, Tufted titmouse. Chickadee, Robin 
(rarely). Starling, English sparrow. 



1 8 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Birds that excavate their nesting holes in trees. Here belong all 
our nine species of woodpeckers, Chickadee (usually), White-breasted nut- 
hatch and Red-breasted nuthatch (partially excavate their holes). 

Birds that nest in boxes. Under this heading we place those species 
that are known to avail themselves of bird boxes: Wood duck (occasion- 
ally), Screech owl, Crested flycatcher (occasionally). Purple martin, Tree 
swallow, Carolina wren. House wren, Chickadee (occasionally), Robin (in 
boxes with large openings). Bluebird, Starling, English sparrow. All 
species which nest in hollows, included under the previous heading, might be 
induced by judicious treatment to nest in properly prepared boxes or 
hollowed limbs. 

Birds that nest on structures erected by man. These species, like 
the last, have shown some adaptation to civilized surroundings and furnish 
clues to methods which might be employed to increase their numbers. 
Under this heading we include the Mourning dove (rarely on fence posts 
and fence rails). Fish hawk (on wheels or platforms erected on poles). 
Barn owl (in belfries and outbuildings). Screech owl (in openings in gable 
ends etc.), Downy woodpecker. Red -headed woodpecker and Flicker 
(in posts and poles), Nighthawk (on flat roofs). Chimney swift (in unused 
chimneys and gable ends). Kingbird (rarely on posts). Crested flycatcher 
(sometimes in hollow poles), Phoebe (on beams and under eaves and 
bridges), Cowbird (in nests of Phoebe, Robin, Chippy etc.). Chipping 
sparrow (in vines on porches and sides of houses), Purple martin (under 
eaves etc.). Cliff swallow (under eaves of barns). Bam swallow (on beams 
and rafters of sheds and barns). Tree swallow (in holes of posts and tele- 
graph poles), Rough- winged swallow (in abutments of bridges). House 
wren (in posts, crannies of buildings, etc.), Chickadee (in hollow fence 
posts), Robin (on beams, brackets, porch posts, fence posts, window sills, 
etc.), Bluebird (in crannies of eaves occasionally), Starling (in eaves and 
crannies), English sparrow (in every available hollow, nook and cranny). 



birds of new york 19 

Bird Communities 

After long continued consideration and sorting of the species of birds 
that nest within the limits of New York State, the author is convinced 
that the following communities might be recognized, although the obvious 
difficulty of confining many species of birds to one of them is no more than 
can be expected. 

Communities of the seashore and lake shore. Here we might place 
all those species whose nesting site is confined to the immediate vicinity 
of larger bodies of water. In this State there seems to be no sharp dis- 
tinction between lake shore and seashore communities, so this difference 
is not recognized. Even the Roseate tern and the Least tern undoubtedly 
nested at one time on the shores of the Great Lakes and the Common 
tern at the present time nests on the Canada-New York border among 
the Thousand Islands. Those species which breed on the sandy or gravelly 
beach are the Common tern. Roseate tern. Least tern and Piping plover. 
The species which nest on rocks or waste near the shore are the Loon and 
Herring gull. Here might also be included those that nest on trees in 
the immediate vicinity of the seashore such as the Osprey, Bald eagle. 
Golden eye, and also the Fish crow, which has not been found far from 
the sea or the brackish waters of the Hudson. 

Community of the salt marsh. A few species are not known to nest 
except in the salt marshes of the coast. These are the Laughing gull, 
Clapper rail, Sharp-tailed sparrow and Seaside sparrow. 

Communities of the fresh water marshes. The marshland com- 
munity is one of the most sharply defined on account of the peculiar edaphic 
and humid conditions found within the coverts of the cat-tail, reed 
and sedge formations. Herein are included, in the wider and deeper 
portions of the marsh where the water is continually standing, such species 
as the Pied-billed grebe, Black tern. Least bittern, Sora, Florida gallinule, 
Coot, Red-winged blackbird. Long-billed marsh wren. Where the ground 
is still moist and water may be standing, but nearer the solid ground than 



20 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

those already mentioned, may be found the American bittern, King rail, 
Virginia rail, Marsh hawk, Short-eared owl. Swamp sparrow and Short-billed 
marsh wren ; where the Wet ground is sparsely covered or about its swampy 
borders, the Wilson snipe; and invading the marshland from the shore side, 
numerous examples of the stream margin and damp meadow communities, 
. such as the Spotted sandpiper. Song sparrow and Maryland yellowthroat. 

Communities of the meadowland. These birds are related ecologically 
to the prairie society, to which they undoubtedly belonged in primeval 
time. In the damper portions of our meadowlands will be found the 
Bobolink and Savannah sparrow, and in the wet meadows, sometimes 
in bogs and weedy marshes, the Henslow sparrow. In the dryer portions 
of the meadowland may be found the Bartram sandpiper, Bobwhite, 
Meadowlark, Vesper sparrow and Grasshopper sparrow. What might be 
called another general division but more or less related to the meadowland 
communities, are those inhabiting plains, waste fields and pastures and 
plowed fields which have a very sparse vegetation. Here belong more 
properly than in the grassland the Vesper sparrow, Killdeer, Prairie 
homed lark and Nighthawk, the latter, however, preferring rocky fields 
in the wildest districts. 

Community of the pond and stream margins. It has often been 
noted that many species are practically confined to pond shores and stream 
courses although they are not called aquatic species, and it might be said 
that the presence of streams and bodies of water is unquestionably a factor 
which attracts nearly all species of birds to a greater or less extent, but 
those confined to the immediate margins of ponds or streams are the 
American merganser (in hollow trees), Red-breasted merganser (nesting 
among the grass or low shrubbery), Hooded merganser (in hollow trees), 
Green heron (nesting among the lower trees). Spotted sandpiper (nesting 
among the grass and weeds), Belted kingfisher. Bank swallow and Rough- 
winged swallow (nesting in banks), the Phoebe (on ledges and bridge 
beams), Tree swallow (in hollow trees), the Alder flycatcher. Rusty black- 
bird, Lincoln sparrow and Northern yellowthroat (in bordering thickets). 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 21 

Community of the wooded swamp. These birds are related to the 
marshland and stream margin species on one side and to the forest society 
on the other, but characteristically seem to prefer wooded country of 
considerable extent covering damp or flooded land. Here are included 
the Black duck, Wood duck, Great blue heron, Black-crowned night heron, 
American woodcock, and Water thrush. 

Communities of the deciduous forest. Under this heading we might 
make several subdivisions, as, first, those preferring the mature mesophytic 
forest. Here might be included the Red-belUed woodpecker, Green-crested 
flycatcher, Crested flycatcher. Yellow-throated vireo and Cerulean warbler. 
In the same kind of forest, but determined by more or less dense growth 
of underbrush may be foimd the Black-throated blue warbler, Mourning 
warbler, Kentucky warbler. Hooded warbler, Canada warbler and Red- 
start; and in swampy bottomlands and wooded streamsides, the Louisiana 
water thrush; in the flooded bottomlands, the Prothonotary warbler. 
In the deciduous woodland but also showing no objection to the presence 
of coniferous trees and sometimes preferring the mixed woodland might 
be mentioned the Ruffed grouse. Cooper hawk. Red-tailed hawk (mostly 
on the higher ground and gully margins). Red-shouldered hawk (pre- 
ferring swampy forests). Broad-winged hawk. Great homed owl, Long- 
eared owl, Barred owl. Saw-whet owl, Hairy woodpecker, Whippoorwill, 
Ruby-throated humming bird. Wood pewee, Bluejay, Crow, Rose-breasted 
grosbeak. Scarlet tanager. Red-eyed vireo. Tufted titmouse and Chickadee. 

Communities of the open woodland. Here might be included the 
Mourning dove. Sparrow hawk. Screech owl. Downy woodpecker. Red- 
headed woodpecker. Northern flicker. White-breasted nuthatch. 

In scattered trees or bushes in fields and along the roadside nest the 
Kingbird, Cedar bird. Migrant shrike. 

Open woodlands with thick underbrush are characterized by such 
species as the Yellow-billed cuckoo, Black-billed cuckoo. Least flycatcher, 
Orchard oriole. Golden-winged warbler, Nashville warbler, Canada warbler. 
Yellow warbler. Catbird, Brown thrasher, CaroUna wren, Wilson thrush. 



22 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Commimities of the thicket and forest margin. These are closely 
related to the open woodland communities which prefer dense underbrush, 
represented by such species as the White-eyed vireo, Black and White 
warbler, Worm-eating warbler, Golden-winged warbler. Blue-winged 
warbler, Yellow warbler, Chestnut-sided warbler, Prairie warbler, Mary- 
land yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted chat, Field sparrow, Towhee, Cardinal, 
Indigo bunting. Catbird, Brown thrasher. 

Communities of the mixed and coniferous forests. Many of our 
species are almost never found except in woodlands with a fair admixture 
of coniferous trees or with a preponderance of them. To this group belong 
the Sharp-shinned hawk. Goshawk, Broad-winged hawk, Long-eared owl, 
Saw-whet owl. Yellow-bellied sapsucker, Whippoorwill, Bluejay, Blue- 
headed vireo. Brown creeper. Black-throated green warbler. Chickadee 
and Hermit thrush. 

Communities of the coniferous forest. Practically confined to the 
pine forests, especially those of pitch and red pine, is the Pine warbler. 
To the spruce and balsam forests belong the Canada grouse, Arctic three- 
toed woodpecker, American three-toed woodpecker, Olive-sided flycatcher, 
Yellow-bellied flycatcher, Canada jay. Raven, American crossbill. White- 
winged crossbill. Pine siskin. Winter wren. Red-breasted nuthatch, 
Hudsonian chickadee, Golden crowned kinglet, Bicknell thrush, Olive- 
backed thrush. Myrtle warbler and Black-poll warbler. Practically con- 
fined to spruce, pine or hemlock forests are the Magnolia warbler. Black- 
throated green warbler and Blackburnian warbler. 

Communities of the culture formations. The shade tree and orchard 
community includes a few species which have adapted themselves so much 
to civilized conditions that their breeding site is more confined to these 
situations than to the open woodland formation to which they probably 
belonged at the beginning. In this are included such species as the 
Kingbird, Baltimore oriole, Purple grackle, Bronzed grackle, American 
Goldfinch, Chipping sparrow. Cedar waxwing, Warbling vireo, Robin, 
Bluebird. This community is often joined by other representatives from 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 23 

the forest, especially from the open woodland, such as the Mourning dove, 
Screech owl. Downy woodpecker. Flicker, Least flycatcher, Cowbird, 
Orchard oriole. Purple finch. White-breasted nuthatch and Chickadee. 

The garden and shrubbery community is represented by the Song sparrow. 
Chipping sparrow and Yellow warbler. This is also frequently invaded 
by representatives from the orchards and shade trees as well as from the 
open woodland and thicket, such as the Catbird, Goldfinch, and Maryland 
yellowthroat. 

The bird box and barn communities are represented by the Wren, 
Bluebird, Purple martin, White-breasted swallow. Barn swallow. Eaves 
swallow, Chimney swift and Phoebe. These species have accommodated 
themselves most fully to the culture conditions which prevail about towns 
and dooryards. 

Succession of Bird Life 

Just as a succession of plant formations may be observed in different 
localities as the climatic and edaphic conditions change, so different bird 
societies will be found in the same locality, as the plant formations and 
the various factors of environment vary. When the mature forest is 
cleared off, the thickets or underbrush which grow up will support various 
brushland communities; and if the thickets are destroyed by pasturing 
and cultivation, and grassland succeeds it, the meadow community will 
occupy the country. Likewise, when marshes are drained, there will 
usually be a grassland or meadow association succeeding the marsh com- 
munity which preceded it. If lakes are lowered by the deepening of their 
outlets, the marshes which are usually found at their heads or near their 
outlets, become less in area, and grassland communities invade the marsh- 
land country. This subject is illustrated by the paragraphs on " Potter 
Swamp," and a " Typical Deciduous Forest." During the last thirty 
years in western New York I have noticed various illustrations of the 
succession of bird communities besides those alluded to. When the waters, 
of Canandaigua lake are held up in the springtime at a higher level than 
formerly prevailed, certain marshlands both at the foot and at the head 



24 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

of the lake become more extensive. As a result, the marshland com- 
munity has noticeably increased in numbers. In a single year at the foot 
of the lake I noticed that the number of pairs of Least bitterns nesting 
in a marsh of only a few acres in extent increased from one to seven pairs, 
and the Florida gallinules from two to four pairs, whereas the rails, Marsh 
wrens, Red-winged blackbirds and Swamp sparrows increased in like ratio, 
and American bitterns which had not nested near the mouth of Sucker 
brook for many years again returned to their old haunts at the foot of 
the lake and nested there as they do in the marshes near the outlet. 
A similar change is noticed at the head of the lake in the marsh between 
the Inlet and Clark's Bridge. Here great numbers of Marsh wrens. Red- 
winged blackbirds. Swamp sparrows, soras and Virginia rails, likewise 
a goodly number of gallinules. Least bitterns and American bitterns, 
as well as a few Black ducks and Blue-winged teals made their summer 
home. On a smaller scale I have noticed an increase of marshland com- 
munity in a bit of land near Springville, where a small brook was bridged 
by the highway and its channel was dammed by the raising of the outlet 
beneath the bridge. As a result, the land, covering only a few acres, which 
had been slightly swampy before, grew up to sedges, cat-tails and rank 
marsh grass. In the swamp there had been found Wilson's snipe and 
Virginia rail nesting. In one year after the raising of the outlet the 
appearance of soras and the Red-winged blackbird was noted, while within 
two years both Least bitterns and King rails also appeared. 

In like manner the draining of marshes has been observed to result 
in the reverse condition. The swamp near the foot of Canandaigua lake, 
lying between the " feeder " and the old outlet, has been drained and 
largely converted into meadowland and cultivated fields. As a result, 
within five years the Short-eared owl. Marsh hawk, Bittern, Least bittern, 
Sora, Virginia rail. Marsh wren. Red-winged blackbird and Swamp sparrow, 
together with an occasional pair of Black duck and Blue- winged teal which 
formerly occupied it as a breeding ground, disappeared, and in their places 



DIRDS OF NEW YORK 2$ 

I noticed only Spotted sandpiper, Killdeer, Savannah sparrow, Song 
sparrow, Vesper sparrow. Horned lark and Meadowlark. 

On a hillside overlooking Canandaigua lake I noticed a definite change 
brought about by the cutting off of woodland and the resultant growth 
of dense thicket six to twelve feet in height. In this woodland there had 
been the usual bird community of that region, especially Wood thrush, 
Red-eyed vireo, Scarlet tanager. Crested flycatcher. Redstart and Oven- 
bird. Two years after the cutting of the taller trees the thicket was 
occupied by Brown thrashers, catbirds. Chestnut-sided warbler. Yellow- 
breasted chat, Field sparrow and Indigo bird. 

I am aware that most of these successions are more or less unnatural ; 
but all of them do occur at times in nature, though more slowly, and what 
we are at present concerned with is the line of succession which is likely 
to occur as a result of conditions now obtaining in the State. 

The Birds of Potter Swamp 
To give bird students a basis for future comparison as well as to 
illustrate the exact nature of swamp bird life in central New York, and 
the rapid changes brought about by clearing woodland, we could select 
no better bit of territory than Potter swamp which lies in Yates county, 
between the villages of Potter and Gorham. The upper part of this swamp 
has been carefully studied by Messrs Verdi Burtch and Clarence F. Stone 
of Branchport, N. Y., and an estimate made of the number of breeding 
birds of the various species inhabiting the swamp. This portion of the 
swamp occupies about two square miles of moist and wet woodland along 
the course of Flint creek. The tree growth is mostly deciduous, consisting 
of red and white maple, white ekn and ash, interspersed with " islands " 
of white pine and hemlock, and thickets of Arbor vitae. In most places, 
especially where the larger trees have been cut down by recent lumbering 
operations, there is a dense growth of underbrush, consisting of sprouts 
and saplings of the species mentioned and various swamp shrubs like spice 
bush, winterberry, alder, willow and a great variety of herbs, ferns, grasses 



26 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

and sedges, and, in some localities along the brook, cat-tails and rushes. 
Numerous moss-covered logs and hummocks rise from the standing water 
or from the soggy earth. Around the edge of the swamp and along the 
wood roads there are also dense tangles and thickets of weeds and shrub- 
bery and near the southern end, an expanse of damp meadow. The altitude 
of the swamp is 880 feet and it is surrounded by hills rising to a height 
of 1000 to 1200 feet. The estimated average summer temperature during 
the six hottest weeks is about 69 degrees F. The birds included in this 
list are from the records of Burtch and Stone, the number after each species 
representing its relative abundance as compared with the Song sparrow, 
which is held to be the most abundant bird in the swamp and is marked 
100. In addition to those birds which nest within the swamp, the author 
has added from his own observation and consultation with Messrs Burtch 
and Stone the following species which nest within half a mile, but their 
relative abundance can not be determined: Killdeer, Belted kingfisher, 
Chimney swift, Prairie homed lark. Vesper sparrow. Savannah sparrow. 
Grasshopper sparrow. Chipping sparrow. Field sparrow. Cliff swallow, 
Bam svvallow. House wren and Ring-necked pheasant. 

Birds of Potter swamp in 1908. Numbers after each species indicate 
relative abundance on the scale of 100. Black duck i. Wood duck 5, 
American bittern 2, Least bittern 2, Great blue heron 7, Green heron 5, 
Virginia rail 5, Sora 5, American woodcock 2, Wilson snipe i, Spotted 
sandpiper 5, Ruffed grouse 5, Mourning dove 15, Marsh hawk i, Sharp- 
shinned hawk I, Cooper hawk i, Red-tailed hawk 2, Red-shouldered hawk 2, 
Sparrow hawk 2, Long-eared owl 3, Barred owl 2, Screech owl 8, Great 
homed owl 2, Yellow-billed cuckoo 10, Black-billed cuckoo i, Hairy wood- 
pecker 25, Downy woodpecker 30, Yellow-bellied sapsucker 5, Red-headed 
woodpecker 8, Red-bellied woodpecker 15, Flicker 35, Ruby-throated 
humming bird 15, Kingbird 8, Crested flycatcher 40, Phoebe 15, Wood 
pewee 25, Alder flycatcher 10, Least flycatc^ier 20, Blue jay 10, Crow 30, 
Bobolink 15, Cowbird 40, Red-winged blackbird 50, Meadowlark 10, 
Baltimore oriole 30, Bronzed grackle 40, Goldfinch 30, Song sparrow 100, 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 2"] 

Swamp sparrow 20, Rose-breasted grosbeak 30, Indigo bunting 5, Scarlet 
tanager 25, Cedar waxwing 5, Red-eyed vireo 25, Warbling vireo 10, Yellow- 
throated vireo 20, Golden-winged warbler 3, Yellow warbler 35, Cerulean 
warbler 40, Chestnut-sided warbler i, Ovenbird 10, Water thrush 70, 
Louisiana water thrush 2, Mourning warbler 20, Northern yellowthroat 50, 
Canadian warbler 15, American redstart 75, Catbird 10, Winter wren i, 
Long-billed marsh wren 15, Brown creeper 20, White-breasted nuthatch 30, 
Black-capped chickadee 15, Wood thrush 3, Wilson thrush 90, Robin 40, 
Bluebird 15, English sparrow 5. 

In the year 191 1 a single pair of White-throated sparrows nested in 
the swamp. During the year 1911-1912 nearly all the standing timber 
in the upper portion of the swamp was cut away and manufactured into 
barrel staves. As a result of the cutting of the timber a dense growth 
of weeds and shrubbery appeared in the summer of 1912. The effect 
upon the bird life was very manifest. No Black duck nor Wood duck 
were found in this portion of the swamp. The Great blue heron had no 
nesting trees and disappeared. Such species as the Hairy woodpecker, 
Crested flycatcher, Wood pewee, Blue jay, Crow, Rose-breasted grosbeak. 
Red-eyed vireo. Cerulean warbler and Water thrush had noticeably 
diminished in numbers, but the Bitterns, Rails, Marsh hawks, Indigo 
bunting, Golden-winged warbler and Chestnut-sided warbler had noticeably 
increased in number, the last to such an extent that 60 would represent 
its standing in 191 2. The Brown creeper increased in the swamp just 
previous to 1908 due to the winter ice-girdling of the trees near the ground 
and the production of favorable nesting sites beneath the dead bark. In 
19 1 2 it had diminished to the standing of 3, the nesting sites having been 
destroyed. 

Birds of a Typical Deciduous Forest 

One and one-half miles north of the village of Springville in Erie 
county there is a small tract of woodland composed of a formation of 
sugar maple and beech with a small admixture of hop hornbeam, black 
cherry, white elm and cork elm; the soil is a gravelly loam, well drained. 



28 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

with an intermittent brook flowing near one corner of the wood. This 
grove covers not more than 30 acres of land. Sometime before i860 it 
was pastured by sheep and the entire growth of seedlings and small sap- 
lings as well as the ground cover was practically killed out, so that one 
passing along the highway at the edge of the wood could look the whole 
length of the grove beneath the branches of the trees. After 1865 the 
grove was again allowed to grow up and, as would naturally be expected, 
there arose a thick growth of maple and beech seedlings with a slight 
admixture of other forms. By the year 1880 there was a dense stand of 
saplings from 8 to 20 feet in height, and around the edge of the wood as 
well as in a few of the more open spots, a dense growth of red raspberry, 
blackberry, elderberry and sumac. The stand of trees and saplings was 
so dense that there was only a slight ground cover, except a continuous 
coating of dead leaves throughout the summertime, and fair growth of 
early spring flowers, such as Trillium, Sanguinaria, Dicentra, Dentaria, 
Erythronium and Claytonia. Beginning with the year 1 879-1 880, the 
author made a very careful study of this woodland recording minutely 
everything he could observe in regard to its bird life. The species 
found nesting in the wood at that time were the Ruffed grouse, Black- 
billed cuckoo. Downy woodpecker, Red-headed woodpecker. Flicker, 
Least flycatcher. Crested flycatcher. Crow, Cowbird, Red-eyed vireo,* 
Yellow warbler,* Chestnut-sided warbler. Hooded warbler. Redstart, 
Ovenbird,* Song sparrow,* Field sparrow,* Goldfinch, Rose-breasted 
grosbeak,* Indigo bird. White-breasted nuthatch. Wood thrush and 
Veery. The species marked with a star were found about the edge of 
the wood and in the raspberry thickets. Twenty years later I had an 
opportunity of observing the bird life in this same wood. In the interim 
the saplings had grown to tall poles and as one walked through the wood 
he could see for a considerable distance in all directions. There was no 
thicket within eight feet of the ground; in fact, very little foliage lower 
than the height of twenty feet. The stand of poles had killed off all the 
lower growths. I was interested to note that of the species found there 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 29 

twenty years before, although the wood was, in other respects than those 
mentioned, in the same condition as formerly, one could find no longer 
any Ruffed grouse. Least flycatcher. Red-eyed vireo. Yellow warbler, 
Chestnut-sided warbler. Hooded warbler. Redstart, Field sparrow. Gold- 
finch, Rose-breasted grosbeak and Indigo bird. There were only a few 
Wood thrushes left, probably only one pair. Only two new species, how- 
ever, were observed. These were the Scarlet tanager and Yellow-throated 
vireo, which seemed fairly common throughout the grove, and the 
Ovenbird and Veery were much more common than they had been twenty 
years before. The student of bird life will readily account for most of 
the change in the avifauna noted, which is principally due to the destruc- 
tion of the breeding and feeding sites of the birds which had disappeared. 
It would seem natural enough that the Yellow-throated vireo should now 
be commoner than the Red-eyed vireo, but that it should have been 
entirely absent in 1880 and the Red-eyed entirely absent in 1900, was hard 
to explain. Also why the Veery was more common and the Wood thrush 
less common is equally difficult of solution. These cases of the vireos 
and thrushes may possibly be due to questions of rivalry which are not 
fully understood at the present time. 

This brief chapter in history will serve to answer more forcibly than 
any general argument a question which has been put to me so often by 
nature lovers in different portions of the State, as to why they can not 
have certain species of birds in their groves and wood lots, or in their 
orchards and gardens. It is absolutely essential that the proper nesting 
and feeding habitat shall be provided for those species which are not 
universal in their choice of environment. 

Birds of the Central Lake Ravines 
In the west-central part of New York State and extending like the 
thimib and fingers of the outstretched palm from the Lake Ontario low- 
land toward the highlands of eastern and southern New York, lies the 
chain of lakes: Oneida, Onondaga, Otisco, Skaneateles, Owasco, Cayuga, 



30 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Seneca, Keuka, Canandaigua, Canadice, Conesus and Hemlock. These 
lakes are all of glacial origin, being the drainage valleys of 'a preglacial 
river system. At the close of the ice age their outlets to the north were 
blocked by extensive deposits of drift dropped by the retreating glacier, 
causing the general line of lakes with their outlet system to assume a 
direction parallel with the margin of the great Ontario lobe of the ice sheet, 
the lake valleys running radially to the edge of the ice lobe and extending 
mostly in a north and south direction. With the exception of the three 
westernmost lakes of the chain, they drain through the Canandaigua- 
Seneca-Oneida-Oswego system into Lake Ontario. Thus, the country under 
consideration is practically the basin of the Oswego river. The lakes 
lie at altitudes ranging from 364 feet to over 700 feet in the case of the 
smaller southern and western members of the chain. The northern and 
eastern portions of this country average about 500 feet in elevation. 
About the southern ends, after Oneida and Onondaga are passed, lie the 
hills which mark the northern slopes of the AUeghanian plateau. Many of 
these hills surpass 2000 feet in elevation. This lake country is well settled, 
and extensive forests are nowhere in evidence except in the larger swamps 
and on the more elevated hills. Characteristic trees are the beech, maple, 
elm, ash, basswood, sycamore, oaks, chestnut, sassafras, hornbeams, shad 
tree, flowering dogwood, thorn trees, white pine, pitch pine and red cedar. 
Arbor vitae and tamarack swamps are of frequent occurrence. In the 
gullies, hemlock, yellow birch, mountain maple and striped maple are 
common, especially on the shaded slopes. There are numerous deep-cut 
ravines in the shaly rock of the Hamilton and Chemung periods, well 
typified by the famous Watkins glen. Their prevailing east and west 
direction causes the southern sides to lie mostly in shade, and at the same 
time percolating waters from the outcropping strata on the sides of the 
glen, and the tumbling waters of the glen streams, cause a high moisture 
content in the glen atmosphere. Consequently, there is both a lower tem- 
perature in the glen and a slower rate of evaporation from the surface of 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 3 1 

the plants and animals that inhabit it, which approaches the conditions 
found in the North Woods. This is illustrated by the admixture of 
Canadian flora on the cooler side of the glen, such as the mountain maple 
and moosewood, and by a number of Canadian birds which are found in 
nearly every one of the larger and deeper glens. The conditions may 
best be understood by enumerating the birds of a typical ravine like 
the Seneca glen on Canandaigua lake. Here are found on the forest slopes 
such breeding species as the Junco, Hermit thrush, and the Magnolia, 
Parula, Blackburnian, Black-throated green, and Black-throated blue warb- 
lers; in tangles near the bottom of the glen or about its source, the Cana- 
dian and Mourning warblers are found in small numbers. In the woodland 
or thicket just above the edge of the glen the Black and white warbler and 
Redstart are fairly common, and in the thickets near the edge the Chestnut- 
sided warbler, and, in some seasons, the Yellow-breasted chat. In the pine 
grove within hearing of the glen itself, three or four pairs of Pine warblers 
nest. Near the stream at the bottom of the glen, three or four pairs of 
Louisiana water thrushes are found; on the shaly ledges near the falls, 
Phoebes are nesting; near the mouth of the glen, a Wood pewee; in the 
woods on either side are found the Wood thrush, Scarlet tanager. Crested 
flycatcher. Ruffed grouse, and near the head of the glen one pair of Great 
homed owls, and one pair each of Red-tailed and Sharp-shinned hawks. 
In the thickets near the northern edge of the glen, catbirds. Brown thrash- 
ers, chewinks. Indigo birds and Field sparrows are fairly common, and 
rarely the Yellow-breasted chat, while near at hand in the dry field 
are found the Grasshopper sparrow and Prairie homed lark ; not far from 
these, in damper situations, the Savannah sparrow and Bobolink. At the 
mouth of the glen by the lake shore, the Rough-winged swallow may be 
seen flying back and forth to his nest in the shaly bank nearby. In 
addition to the species mentioned, all the common birds of the Alleghanian 
fauna may be found in suitable sites within the woods surrounding the 
glen or in near-by fields. Similar conditions to these prevail in many glens 
which the author has visited, both on Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca and 



32 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Cayuga lakes. It will be noticed by the student of bird distribution 
that here is a curious admixture within a short radius of various Caro- 
linian and Canadian faunal species, and a striking illustration of the 
effects of slope and of evaporating waters, both upon the temperature 
and the low rate of evaporation, which determines the presence of northern 
species. 

The Influence of Culture Operations 

The effect of the so-called culture conditions upon our native bird 
life has been referred to in volume i, pages 50 to 57. Anyone who has 
perused the present chapter thus far can not fail to perceive that all the 
various bird communities are immediately affected by the manifold changes 
which have occurred since the settlement of the State. Eighteen and 
one-half millions of acres of the State domains are no longer wooded, only 
twelve million acres of woodland remaining. The result of such a change 
within two centuries has been keenly felt by all the sylvan birds. The 
effect of the principal operations which have a widespread influence 
upon bird life may be briefly summarized. 

Timber cutting. The destruction of our primeval forest has often 
been noted as the main cause for the decrease of bird life, but this 
subject should be considered more carefully by the students of bird 
conservation. There can be no doubt that such species as the Raven, 
Pileated woodpecker, larger hawks and owls, and most of those species 
which are classed as belonging to the mature forest communities, 
whether deciduous or evergreen, will be discouraged by a reduc- 
tion of the growth of standing timber. At the same time, the effect 
of cutting the forest benefits all species of the open field, and nearly 
every kind of bird which is ordinarily classed as a forest species increases 
when the forest growth is less dense and the amount of underbrush 
increases. As an example of this, we might cite the case of the Chestnut- 
sided warbler. This bird was considered a rare species in the days of 
Wilson and Audubon. Chapman in his Warblers of North America, 
page 189, calls attention to the fact that it is now a common species in 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 33 

many sections of the countrj'. The author's own experience at Springville, 
where many forests were cut ofif and followed in 1 880-85 by dense thickets 
of briars and saplings, which caused this species to become as abundant 
as the Yellow warbler; and the experience of bird students in Potter 
swamp, where nearly two square miles within two years have been cleared 
of the tall timber, and dense thickets have sprung up all around the 
edge of the swamp, shows that this species has increased at least 1000 
per cent. There can be no doubt that the gradual clearing of the 
Alleghanian and Canadian zone in the northeastern states and lower 
Canada has opened up vast stretches of hillside and bushy pasture as 
a breeding ground for the Chestnut-sided warbler since the days of Wilson 
and Audubon, and that these general conditions are the cause of the fact 
that this species is now one of our commonest migratory warblers as well 
as one of our commonest breeding species in- many sections of the State. 
A similar condition has been noted in regard to the Nashville warbler 
in other parts of the country. Alexander Wilson secured only three speci- 
mens of this bird and regarded it as a rare species. According to William 
Brewster, Samuel Cabot found it a rare species in eastern Massachusetts 
up to 1836, but by the year 1842 it had become common in that section, 
and a similar condition has taken place over the northeastern states so 
that now, in nearly every portion of New York State, the Nashville warbler 
is recorded as common or abundant during the migration season of early 
May. The immense tracts of slashings and burnt lands growing up to 
birch and poplar throughout the North Woods region have undoubtedly 
helped this warbler in its race for supremacy. The author has noticed 
within the last ten years an unusual increase in the numbers of Cape May 
warblers observed in central and western New York, and reports of similar 
observations have come from various other sources. There can be little 
doubt that the gradual advance of clearings and Ivunbering operations 
in Northern Ontario and Quebec has gradually opened up tracts of country 
favorable as breeding sites for this species, which formerly were covered 
by forests so dense that they did not furnish it the conditions necessarj'- 



34 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

for rearing its young, but that now it is increasing as the Nashville and 
Chestnut-sided warblers have done before it. Furthermore, there can 
be little doubt that nearly all the North Woods warblers which migrate 
through New York in the early days of May have increased in numbers 
since the colonial time. The author's experience in 1905 while studying 
the bird life of the Mt Marcy district, illustrates these general conclusions. 
Within the mature forest of the Adirondack Forest Reserve we found 
very few warblers except the Blackburnian, Black-throated green and 
Ovenbird, but as soon as we visited the slashings where the Mclntyre 
Iron Company had cut off all the large timber, and the extensive burnt 
tracts in the vicinity of Elk lake, the number of breeding warblers 
immediately increased. This was especially noticeable in the case of such 
warblers as the Chestnut-sided, Mourning, Magnolia and the Redstart. 
The Black-poll warbler, which in this State is confined mostly to the stunted 
spruces on higher slopes of the mountains, and the Myrtle warbler as 
well, are favorably affected by the increase of low spruces which follows 
the cutting of the larger timber of the mountain sides. What is true of 
the warblers is also true of the Ruffed grouse in Canada and the North 
Woods. This species is always known to increase when the mature forest 
is cut off, and clearings and slashings spring up in various parts of the 
forest tract. It is thus evident that the cutting of the forest, provided 
the land is not entirely cleared and turned into cultivated field, is a boon 
to most of the species which inhabit second growth of shrubbery or open 
woodland, to which number must be assigned the greater portion of our 
song and insectivorous birds. 

Draining of swamps and marshes. It is impossible to hold such 
hopeful opinions in regard to the draining of swamps and marshes. The 
marshland society is so closely confined to its own special habitat and 
its conditions are so different from those of any other available habitat 
that all those birds which nest in the marsh are surely exiled in any district 
where the marshes are drained and turned into cultivated fields. A similar 
statement could be made in regard to the extensive swamp lands which 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 35 

are more or less covered with forest growth. The author has seen one 
heronry after another disappear in western New York through the draining 
of swamps, and the Wood duck and the Woodcock, as well as the other 
members of that community, must necessarily disappear as their coverts 
are destroyed. An examination of the health of people living along the 
margins of the Montezuma marsh and the Potter swamp reveals the fact 
that malaria is practically unknown, and the claim so often made by com- 
panies who wish to have the State drain such extensive marshes, that 
they are unhealthy in their influence, can not be sustained. The mos- 
quitoes bred in such places are undoubtedly annoying to visitors in these 
districts, but the mosquitoes certainly do not spread the malaria unless 
the malarial parasite is present. However, we expect to see most of the 
swamps and marshes disappear, but we hope that a few will be preserved, 
at least about the Seneca river, the Hudson, and the shores of Lake 
Ontario, which will be preserves for marsh birds in centuries to come. 

Pasturing. In many of the bird books one finds the expression that 
this or that species is " common on hillside pastures," and the ease with 
which the bird student walks over the unencumbered ground and examines 
the edges of the bushy tracts for favorite species has given the impression 
that pastures are favorable habitats for many birds. A more careful 
study of the situation reveals the fact that not only most of the grassland 
species are driven from the land by pasturing, partly because their nests 
are frequently trod upon by the pasturing animals, but also because the 
cover which protects the nesting birds is destroyed and they are obliged 
to seek more grassy fields outside the pasture. Furthermore, the principal 
harm of pasturing, to the bird life, is found in the destruction of ground 
cover which inevitably results in woods and thickets. This is especially 
noticeable in sheep pastures where all the vegetation is destroyed to 
a height of three or four feet above the ground. In such pasture land 
the thickets and undergrowth, which usually support an abundant bird 
life, are eliminated and the birds must seek other coverts. When we 

consider how few woodlands in the more cultivated portions of the State 
.3 



36 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

are governed with any idea of protecting the ground cover and undergrowth, 
there is no wonder that the birds of the thicket community are becoming 
rarer except in certain favored locahties. 

Pruning of orchards and shade trees. In other connections we have 
spoken of the disastrous effects to bluebirds, chickadees and Downy 
woodpeckers of cutting every dead hmb from shade and fruit trees, but 
this practice is Hkely to become more uniform and the only salvation 
for those species which nest in hollows and dead limbs, is the erection 
of artificial nesting sites by State authorities and by the individual land- 
owners. The government officials of Germany that control the forest 
land are beginning to give more and more attention to the erecting of 
nesting sites, finding that woodland birds are necessary to hold in check 
the tree-destroying insects which sometimes do widespread damage to 
the young forest trees, and many private landowners in various parts 
of the world have demonstrated the utility of erecting hollow limbs and 
boxes for the woodpecker and bird box communities. It is a noticeable 
fact that those birds are usually species which are most useful in holding 
the pests of forest trees under proper check, and the day can not come 
too soon when bird protection societies as well as the State officials who 
have conservation questions in their hands, will erect nesting limbs and 
nesting boxes for all species that can be thus encouraged, to counteract 
the wholesale destruction of nesting sites which results from the "cleaning 
up " in orchards, parklands, shade trees and State forests. 

The spraying of trees. The necessity which is increasing year by 
year of holding various insect pests in check by spraying with poisons, 
has resulted in some destruction of bird life, although the opinion is usually 
held that this danger is largely exaggerated; but when we consider the 
fact that dead birds in any case are very rarely seen, the fact that we 
find so few which have been killed by spraying operations is not at all 
surprising. Dead birds are quickly put out of sight by cats, dogs and 
skunks, or buried by the sexton beetles and other scavengers. Sick birds 
almost always fly away to some shelter, an instinct which is universal 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 37 

among wild creatures, and thus the deadly effects of the spraying upon 
bird life are rarely observed. There can be no doubt that many birds 
such as cuckoos and orioles feeding continuously on poisoned caterpillars 
finally succumb to the cumulative effect of the arsenical poisons which 
are most commonly employed. There is some remedy in the fact that 
birds will rarely touch larvae that show evidence of sickness, and probably 
never touch them after they are dead. The author, however, has examined 
two cuckoos which evidently died from arsenical poisoning, and other 
instances have been reported by Brewster, Ridgway and Forbush, and by 
many inhabitants of New York State. We believe that the decrease of 
both species of cuckoos in the apple districts of western New York is 
partly due to their gluttonous desire for caterpillar diet. 

Plowing and cultivating. The author sees no satisfactory means of 
overcoming the disastrous effects of late plowing which are so destructive 
to bird communities of the open field. The Meadowlark, Vesper sparrow, 
Bobolink and Bartram sandpiper have all suffered tremendously from this 
cause during the last fifty years. The Prairie homed lark escapes the 
effects to a slight extent by nesting early in the season, but a part of their 
broods are destroyed by the early plowing. Much good may be done, 
however, by the plowman if he is on the watch for nests, and plows around 
them. The slight loss of time and of crop space which results from such 
measures, will undoubtedly be repaid tenfold by the larks, sparrows, kill- 
deers and sandpipers that are thus preserved. They feed on the weed 
seeds and insects which injure the crops, and the presence of their nests 
in the field should be hailed with delight by the agriculturist. 

Mowing. In late years the practice of mowing earlier in the season 
than was the custom in former years, and completing all the mowing very 
quickly by the aid of improved machinery, whereas in former days the 
hand mowing prolonged the operation through several weeks, has nearly 
completed the destruction of the Bobolink in many localities where it 
was formerly one of our most familiar birds. All the meadowland species 
suffer from mowing operations and there is little hope of overcoming the 



38 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

evil. Even where the nests are discovered and moved, or the knife is 

raised before it has done its fatal work, the nests become an easy prey 

to grackles and crows or other marauders before the young are able to 

leave the nest. Our only escape from this evil seems to be the adaptability 

of many of the grassland species which finally teaches them to nest in 

the edges of the field, or to nest earlier in the season, or to rear another 

brood as soon as the first is destroyed. This, while not a perfect remedy, 

has worked marvels in many cases which have come under the author's 

observation where meadowlarks and bobolinks have finally succeeded 

in inhabiting grasslands in spite of modern conditions of harvesting and 

hay cropping. 

Food of Birds 

Insectivorous species. Of the thirty-two families of land birds found 
within the State of New York, every one feeds to some extent upon insects, 
and several families are almost exclusively insectivorous. Among these 
may be mentioned the goatsuckers, swifts, flycatchers, swallows, vireos, 
cuckoos, wood warblers, wrens, titmice, nuthatches and kinglets. 
Of the great order Passeres, which includes almost all our familiar birds, 
every family feeds largely upon insects during the nesting season, and 
the young of all are fed upon them. The families which are largely 
insectivorous but vary their diet to some extent on seeds or fruit are the 
woodpeckers, larks, blackbirds, orioles, waxwings, tanagers, thrashers 
and thrushes. Thus it is evident that birds act as the regulators of insect 
life, maintaining the balance of nature so that vegetation, which is the 
natural food of the insects, may increase; and it is generally conceded 
that if the natural enemies of insects were destroyed the result would be 
the rapid disappearance of all vegetation in the fields and forests We 
would not maintain for an instant that birds are the only enemies of 
foliage-feeding insects, for unquestionably among their most effective 
enemies are unfavorable changes in climatic conditions and the increase 
of parasitic species which hold them in check to a great extent ; but a study 
of the food habits of birds, as observed in the field and by examination 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 39 

of their stomach contents in the laboratory, reveals the fact that they 
destroy incredible numbers of insects, for they have the most voracious 
appetities of all warm-blooded animals. When we consider that one 
Whippoorwill has been known to devour thirty-six good-sized moths within 
one hour and that a warbler has been seen to swallow five hundred 
seventy-six plant lice in four minutes, it is evident that an abundance 
of bird life in the field and forest can not fail to keep down the number 
of insect pests. Furthermore, the freedom with which birds move from 
place to place suggests the especial value of the birds' work, for, by reason 
of their migratory habits and their unrestricted activity, both over the 
ground and through the trees and in the air, they are able to discover 
danger centers of insect life and prevent serious outbreaks in many cases 
when insect parasites might be too slow in their attacks or weather con- 
ditions unfavorable to the pest might fail to appear. The especial value 
of each family of birds or of each order will be found briefly summarized 
in the pages of this book immediately following the family and ordinal 
descriptions. 

Carnivorous birds. Every one knows that hawks and owls feed on 
birds and mice. It is also a fact that nearly every species of hawk and owl 
feeds, especially in summer and fall, upon large quantities of insects, 
although this is especially true of the smaller species like the Sparrow 
hawk and Screech owl. Other members of this family vary their diet 
with fish, frogs and reptiles, as the occasion offers, so that the order Rap- 
tores can not be considered exclusively carnivorous, although the main 
food of all the larger species is composed of some kind of flesh. Besides 
the hawks, owls and vultures that are typically carnivorous species, many 
other birds at times kill smaller mammals or even other birds, as is the 
case with gulls, jaegers, herons, and bitterns, which occasionally capture 
mice or young birds; some Red-headed woodpeckers are known to feed 
on the young of other birds; crows, jays and grackles are especially fond 
of nestlings and also capture small mice in the field ; and shrikes are adapted 
for capturing birds, which they impale on thorns and partly devour. It 



40 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

is thus evident that only the order Raptores, of all our native birds, is 
characteristically carnivorous. 

Piscivorous species. Many families of water birds subsist largely 
on a diet of fish, as is the case with the loons, grebes, auks, gulls, jaegers, 
cormorants, pelicans, mergansers and herons, as well as fish hawks and 
kingfishers. In addition, some families have a few representatives which 
partake to some extent of a fish diet whenever they have the opportunity. 
Here are included many of the larger shore birds like the Yellow-legs; 
a few of the Accipitres, as the Bald eagle and Red-shouldered hawk; some 
of the owls, like the Snowy, Great-homed and Barred owl; and crows 
and grackles, both of which I have observed capturing minnows in the 
shallow water of ponds and streams. 

Granivorous species. A cursory glance at the bird kingdom will 
reveal the fact that the most characteristically granivorous of our native 
birds are the pigeons, grouse and pheasants. Of these, undoubtedly the 
pigeons are more granivorous than the grouse, and all these families at 
the same time feed to considerable extent on fruit and insects. Of our 
common perching birds, the larks, blackbirds, sparrows and finches are 
the most addicted to granivorous diet, in fact subsisting for the most part 
on seeds of various kinds except during the breeding season. To these 
families we might add a few which feed to a slight extent on seeds in 
addition to their other diet. Here belong many of the ducks and geese, 
especially the river ducks and our wild goose, which feed mostly upon 
grain and seeds during the fall and winter; likewise, the rails, gallinules, 
crows, and jays, and to a slight extent the pipits, titmice and nuthatches. 

Frugivorous species. As the season of ripe fruit in this State is of 
comparatively short duration, except for trees and shrubs which retain 
their fruit late into the winter, we covild scarcely expect to find any 
families of native birds characteristically fruit eaters, but of those that 
seem to prefer the fruit diet while it is obtainable, we might mention 
the thrushes and waxwings. Other birds which partake to a considerable 
extent are the rails, gallinules, pigeons, grouse, pheasants, woodpeckers. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 4I 

some flycatchers like the kingbirds, crows, jays, blackbirds, orioles, sparrows, 
finches, a few of the vireos and warblers like the Myrtle warbler which 
feeds on the waxberry, and the thrashers and nuthatches. 

In addition to the main articles of diet in the birds' regimen included 
in this brief summary, we might mention the various species of animals 
like snails, spiders, millipeds and crayfish, all of which are devoured by 
the fish-eating and insect-eating species; the sea ducks feeding largely 
on aquatic mollusca; thrushes frequently attacking the land snails; 
grebes, kingfishers and ducks devouring the crayfish; wrens, thrashers 
and various other species feeding on spiders. 

The buds and leaves of trees are attractive to many species like the 
grouse and some of the finches. The sap and cambium layer is eagerly 
sought by one species of woodpecker, the Sapsucker. The tender shoots 
of many plants are also eaten by ducks, pigeons, grouse, bobwhites etc. 
In fact, any kind of animal or vegetable food which is tender and easily 
obtainable is likely to be found an article of diet of some species of bird; 
but the more conspicuous varieties of diet we have enumerated to suggest 
the benefit and the injury which it is possible for birds to accomplish. 

Injury Done by Birds 
Destruction of grain. The Crow and the Blackbird have long been 
reviled as com thieves by the inhabitants of New York and there can be 
no doubt that many fields which are located near the haunts of the Crow 
and the Crackle have suffered much from the destruction of newly planted 
grain, as they pull up the sprouting kernels and render the work of the 
planter useless. Various devices have been tried for preventing this pulling 
of newly planted com, such as tarring the seed, which is more or less 
effective, but there is little doubt that the crow is injurious in other ways 
and there is little reason to preserve him although his injury to the com 
fields might be overlooked. The newly introduced Ring-necked pheasant 
has also been destructive in some localities by digging up the newly planted 
corn with its beak, following the rows and destroying each hill in succession. 



42 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Injury to standing grain, especially com in the ear, is often attributed 
to the Crow and the Blackbird. The author has examined on several 
occasions hundreds of acres of com fields which have been injured while 
in the milk by grackles and Red-winged blackbirds, at least the upper 
third of nearly every ear in the field having been mutilated by the birds. 
Such depredations, however, are mostly confined to low-lying districts 
near extensive marshes inhabited by the blackbirds, and are by no means 
general, in fact, scarcely noticed in most sections of the country. Com 
in the shock is extensively injured by crows and pheasants when it is left 
standing in the field through the late fall and early winter. The loca- 
tion of crow roosts in western New York is determined to a considerable 
extent by the crops of com left unhusked in the field. It is also true 
that the blackbirds, English sparrows and pheasants, where numerous, 
do considerable damage to the wheat, barley and oat fields by attacking 
the grain while standing, and also in the shock or grain stack; but none of 
our native sparrows have been accused of doing damage to grain in New 
York. While ducks, geese and bobwhites take a little corn, wheat and 
buckwheat, near the marshes or coverts where they reside, almost all their 
foraging is done on waste grain which is scattered over the field and never 
would be brought into the granary, so they can not be called injurious 
from the grain which they devour. 

Injury to cultivated fruit. Of all the frugivorous species mentioned 
in a preceding paragraph, only the Robin, Cedarbird, Red-headed wood- 
pecker, Catbird and English sparrow have caused extensive trouble from 
their destruction of the smaller cultivated fruits in this State. In some 
sections the Crow and the Crackle have done some damage and occasionally 
slight complaints have been issued against thrashers, flickers, tanagers 
and orioles for attacks upon outlying cherry trees. The Crow and Red- 
headed woodpecker also attack summer apples to an annoying extent 
in some orchards, and in the vineyards of central and western New York, 
the Robin and the Pheasant, as well as the Crow, have been annoying 
in a few districts. Of all the damage which has been done to the fruit 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 43 

crop, however, very little is worthy of sober consideration except the 
depredations of robins and cedarbirds in the cherry orchards of the State. 
Some of the other small fruits have suffered, especially the berry crop, 
but the main damage seems to be to the cherry, and the principal ofTenders 
are the Robin and Cedarbird. It is almost hopeless to attempt frightening 
the birds from the trees by any device which can be erected. We believe 
the best safeguard is to plant a few trees bearing early fruit around the 
edges of the orchard or on the roadside to attract the robins and cedar- 
birds away from the orchard. 

Destruction of poultry and game. Many farmers have the idea that 
every hawk is an enemy to their poultry yard, although Fisher's famous 
work on the economic status of hawks and owls has been in print for 
twenty -five years; and it has been impossible for the Audubon Society 
or the scientists that have borne testimony before the legislative committees 
of New York State to change this popular misapprehension. The main 
obstacle in dealing with this subject before legislators undoubtedly arises 
from the difificulty which is apparent of recognizing in the field the different 
species of hawks, and so for the average citizen to distinguish the useful 
from the injurious species. Certain it is, however, that some of the hawks 
should be classed as injurious while others are useful in their habits. Birds 
decidedly injurious from their attacks upon poultry and game are the 
Goshawk, Cooper hawk, Duck hawk and Great homed owl. Other species 
of the large hawks and owls also do some injury, but, according to the 
most careful study of the subject, should not be classed as more injurious 
than beneficial because of their depredations. These are the Red- tailed 
hawk. Marsh hawk. Barred owl and Snowy owl. A comparative summary 
of the food and habits of the various species will be found on .page 62. 

Destruction of insectivorous birds. Several species of hawks seem 
to be extremely fond of small birds, especially of thrushes, sparrows, 
larks and warblers. In this number are the Cooper hawk. Sharp-shinned 
hawk, Duck hawk and Pigeon hawk. The Sharp-shinned and Pigeon 
hawks feed almost exclusively on small birds. Less destructive in this 



44 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

respect, but, nevertheless, feeding to the extent of more than 15 per cent 
upon our smaller birds, are the Sparrow hawk. Marsh hawk. Screech owl, 
Barred owl and Snowy owl. Especially destructive to nestlings and eggs 
are the Crow, Bluejay, Bronzed grackle, Cowbird and English sparrow. 
Destruction of fish and frogs. It will be evident to the reader that 
all the fish-eating species would fall in this category. Especially injurious 
in this respect are the loons, larger grebes, cormorants, gannets, American 
and Red-breasted mergansers, herons. Fish hawk and Kingfisher. It is 
often urged by bird lovers that the loon, grebe, fish hawk and heron are 
more valuable from the picturesqueness which they lend to the lake and 
stream-side than the small fry which they destroy in gaining their daily 
livelihood, and it is undoubtedly a fact that the larger fishes — the game 
fishes in particular — rarely fall a prey to these piscivorous species ; but 
the destruction of great numbers of minnows, chubs and shiners has 
a direct influence upon the abundance of food fishes as that is their 
principal sustenance. The birds mentioned also destroy a considerable 
number of the young of trout and white fish, as I have found by the 
dissection of loons, grebes and mergansers; and the Great blue heron as 
well as the Kingfisher are sometimes veritable scourges of brook trout 
preserves. I have watched a Great blue heron feeding on the edge of 
a trout pond strike and swallow seven fingerling trout in the course of as 
many minutes; and the Kingfisher also destroys large numbers of these 
speckled beauties. All the fish-eating species are especially voracious. 
While duck shooting on the Montezuma marshes, I once noticed a small 
flock of Red-breasted mergansers feeding in shallow water capturing what 
appeared to be great numbers of fish. After they had been feeding for 
half an hour two of the birds were shot, and from the gullet and stomach 
of one I took thirteen chubs, some of them five inches in length. The 
Hooded rrierganser is not known to feed to such an extent on fish, although 
it destroys a considerable number. Many of the sea ducks, especially 
the Old squaw and Golden-eye, are partially fish-eaters. As far as direct 
usefulness is concerned, undoubtedly the American and Red-breasted 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 45 

mergansers are of no value, but their depredations are chiefly confined 
to larger lakes and rivers. The Great blue heron and Kingfisher are the 
only ones that are especially destructive to brook trout culture throughout 
the State. Frogs, which should be ranked as mostly beneficial animals, 
are destroyed in great numbers by all the heron family, and especially 
by the bitterns as well as to some extent by the ducks and geese and even 
by the shore birds, crows and grackles. The Broad-winged hawk and 
Red-shouldered hawk, though mainly beneficial, are especially destructive 
to frogs, capturing them in great nvimbers during the spring when the 
frogs are in their spawning pools. 

Destruction of trees and timber. There is only one New York species 
that can be branded as a serious destroyer of trees. This is the Yellow- 
bellied sapsucker. I have noticed many specimens of Scotch pines, spruces, 
mountain ashes and birch trees that were so girdled by this sapsucker 
that their life was finally destroyed, and innumerable specimens of wood 
that showed the scars due to holes bored by the sapsucker which had been 
grown over but still left knots and shaky spots in the wood. Fortunately, 
this woodpecker also does a great deal of good during a large portion of 
the year, but in parks, dooryards and nurseries where his attack is concen- 
trated upon valuable trees he must be considered an injurious species 
and not to be protected. 

Destruction of beneficial insects. As has been stated already, insects 
must be regarded as the principal food of our native birds, but it must not 
be supposed that all the insects destroyed are injurious species. As every 
one knows, the ichneumon flies are examples of a large number of parasitic 
hymenoptera which lay their eggs on caterpillars or other leaf -eating insects, 
thereby destroying them and preventing their increase. There is also 
a large number of ground beetles and tiger beetles which are predaceous 
in habits and destroy the vegetable-feeding species. There are also the 
lady beetles or ladybirds that feed to a great extent on scales and plant 
lice and many other insects beneficial in various ways, even the despised 
earthworm or angleworm being extremely beneficial to agricultural interests. 



46 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

as shown by the investigation of Charles Darwin. These beneficial insects 
are destroyed as well as the injurious ones by many of our native birds, 
ground beetles and tiger beetles especially being destroyed by such ground 
feeders as the Crow, Blackbird, Robin and Bluebird ; the parasitic hymen- 
optera by the flycatchers and to some extent by other species like the 
vireos, warblers and kinglets. The earthworm and ground beetles are, 
unfortunately, a large percentage of the food of the Robin while he is not 
devouring fruit of some kind. 

Dispersal of injurious plants. The especial harm done in this manner 
may be attributed to such species as the Downy woodpecker. Hairy wood- 
pecker, Robin, Cedarbird and to a less extent to others which feed on the 
fruit of the poison ivy, poison sumac, or other injurious plants and disperse 
their seeds broadcast over the country on the roadsides, fence rows and 
lake shores. 

THE ECONOMIC VALUE OF BIRDS 

Destruction of insects. As intimated in various connections hereto- 
fore, the main value of birds is in holding tree and crop enemies in check. 
Modem methods of fighting injurious insects seem, in some cases, to render 
the aid of birds unnecessary, but the special value of the birds' work con- 
sists in attacking insect pests which are not reached by poison spray and 
at seasons of the year when spraying is not practised, thereby preventing 
outbreaks which otherwise would cause great destruction and expense. 
There can be no doubt that the hordes of migrating warblers attacking 
plant lice, which can not be controlled by poison, and other injurious species 
early in the season, thereby destroying the mother insect from which 
innumerable progeny would later result, are of inestimable value. In fact, 
insect scourges can never make great headway when the proper enemies 
are at hand. Next after weather, parasites and predaceous beetles, birds 
are the most efficient force in preventing outbreaks of insects. The almost 
incredible voracity of birds and the rapidity of their digestive process, 
caused by their high temperature, rapid circulation, activity and generally 
high-strung mode of life, inevitably results in the consumption of large 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 47 

quantities of food. This is especially true of growing birds which require 
one-half their own weight of food daily. As the young of our insectivorous 
birds are being reared while our crops are in the midst of their growth, 
it is evident that the resultant destruction of insects for food occurs at 
just the time of year to be of most service to the agriculturist. When- 
ever undue increase of insects begins, birds of the neighboring region invade 
the infected area and destroy the injurious species before they have become 
a consuming plague. In sections of the country, however, where nearly 
all the land is under cultivation and there are few breeding sites for birds, 
it is impossible for the few remaining birds to hold the insects in check, 
and thus arises the necessity of spraying on an extensive scale. During 
the spring of 1898 in the town of Brighton, Monroe county, the author 
noticed that several orchards were practically defoliated by cankerworms. 
On visiting orchards to which the scourge was spreading, I observed many 
species of birds coming from the surrounding country and feeding upon 
the worms. While seated in a small orchard, thirteen species of birds 
were noticed in the course of half an hour coming and devouring the worms 
as fast as they could be swallowed, or gathering mouthfuls and carrying 
them away to feed their young which were oftentimes at a considerable 
distance. Species like the Kingbird and Phoebe which rarely prefer cater- 
pillars as diet, and others like the Bobolink, Red-winged blackbird and 
Vesper sparrow which are seldom seen feeding in the orchards, were coming 
and carrying away the worms for their nestlings. Cuckoos, orioles, cat- 
birds and cedarbirds were noticed among the foliage swallowing the larvae 
at the rate of fifteen to forty a minute. There seemed to be little inter- 
ruption of this work even during midday, but in the morning and late 
afternoon there was a decided increase in the birds visiting the orchard 
for the cankerworms. There could be no doubt if the birds had been 
in sufficient number in the immediate vicinity where this plague of cater- 
pillars started they would have held them in check and prevented the 
destruction of crop and leaves in several orchards. It is probable that, 
in nature, worms of this kind rarely increase to such an extent as to defoliate 



48 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

the forests. The service rendered by insectivorous species in destroying 
centers of infection is especially to be emphasized in connection with the 
benefit the birds render by destroying insects; while in the case of arboreal 
species it is immediately evident that we are practically dependent upon 
the birds for preserving our forests and taller shade trees, because spraying 
operations in these cases are practically out of our control, and the only 
means of preserving us from undue increase of the defoliating insect is, 
besides weather conditions, the work of parasites and the voracious appetite 
of our insectivorous birds. Some birds are especially fond of plant lice. 
In this number we might include the wood warblers and kinglets, which, 
while loitering with us on their annual migration, attack the female plant 
lice which have survived the winter and are about to produce countless 
progeny of leaf-sucking descendants. I have watched them on many 
occasions and counted from fifteen to seventy-five a minute swallowed by 
each warbler observed. Some are even fond of hairy caterpillars. This 
number, unfortunately, is very small but includes the cuckoos and, to 
a certain extent, the orioles and waxwings. Others prefer the white 
ground grub. Here should be mentioned the Robin, Grackle and Crow, 
which do considerable damage in other respects but atone in this manner 
for many of their sins. Woodpeckers seek the boring larvae of various 
beetles and moths found beneath the bark and in winter destroy numerous 
cocoons which are hidden in the crevices of the bark and dead limbs. 
Thus, if the whole list of birds is examined, we shall find that nearly every 
kind of insect which is conspicuous as a destructive species will have 
some bird enemy which seems to prefer it as diet ; and if the balance of 
nature had not been so ruthlessly disturbed by mankind the plagues of 
locusts, plant lice, army worms and elm tree beetles would be cured in 
the natural process of adaptation. 

Destruction of weed seeds. In all cultivated fields there are found 
many species of plants popularly known as weeds which often seem more 
adapted to occupying the soil successfully than the crops which the farmer 
wishes to raise. These weeds must be destroyed or held in check by some 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 49 

process such as cultivating, or by destroying the seed, if the crop reaches 
its maximum productiveness. Our various granivorous species of birds 
such as the blackbirds and sparrows feed for a large portion of the year 
upon the seeds of these injurious plants. Even wild ducks and wild geese 
destroy immense quantities of weed seeds on the grain fields that are 
partially flooded in fall or early spring. The author took from the crop 
of a single Pintail duck that had been feeding all the morning in a com 
field at the foot of Canandaigua lake, one hundred and twenty-seven 
thousand seeds of the common purslane. There were many other ducks 
feeding in this field and it is evident that in six weeks a hundred and fifty 
ducks might do some good in this manner. From the crop of a Mourning 
dove coming out of a wheat field in the town of Cheshire, I took fifty- 
seven hundred seeds of the pigeon grass, one of the commonest weeds that 
grow in our grain fields and hinder the development of wheat, rye and 
oats. All through the fall, winter and spring our various native sparrows, 
and the winter visitants from the far north, are destroying tons upon tons 
of weed seed every week in the fields of New York State. From the crop 
of a Snowflake taken from a flock of five hundred individuals, one-half 
ounce of seed from the Red-rooted pigweed (Amaranthus) and thegoosefoot 
(Chenopodium) and the ragweed (Ambrosia) were taken. It needs only 
a slight arithmetical computation to convince the reader that this flock 
of snowflakes might do some good in the course of a few weeks if they 
remained in that locality. The Tree sparrow, Junco, Song sparrow. White- 
throated sparrow, Vesper sparrow. Savannah sparrow. Chipping sparrow 
and Field sparrow, as well as all our less common species of this family, 
are doing a similar service for several months during the year. Other 
birds that are especially beneficial in this respect are the ground-feeding 
species of the family Icteridae including the Meadowlark, grackles. Red- 
winged blackbird, Bobolink, and even the Cowbird which does much good 
in this manner but can not, however, overcome the evil which it has done 
early in the season by destroying the young of insectivorous birds in whose 
nest it has left its egg to be hatched. The Prairie homed lark, which is 



so NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

a common species in our fields, is another seed eater and in this category- 
must also be placed the Bobwhite and, as already intimated, all our graniv- 
orous species. I would not seek to overestimate the good done in this 
manner, but if we consider that when these birds are not destroying 
the weed seeds they are usually rearing their broods of young and must 
feed them chiefly on insectivorous diet, it is evident that our smaller graniv- 
orous species are an invaluable asset to the State. 

Distributing fruit seed. While the inhabitants of New York State 
have been destroying the forests more rapidly than wise policy would 
dictate, especially on land which is poorly fitted for any other growth than 
trees, the birds have been overcoming to some extent the evil effects of 
excessive deforestation. As one drives across the country, the roadside and 
fence row bear abundant evidence to the effects of planting by the birds. 
The sweet cherry and the black tartarian have been scattered along every 
fence row, roadside, and the edges of the forests throughout the greater 
portion of the State. The Robin and the Cedarbird are principally respon- 
sible for this planting. In like manner various sections of the country 
have a pleasing line of junipers along the highways and fence rows planted 
by the selfsame birds. Likewise, throughout the forest the various dog- 
woods and viburnums are scattered by all the fruit-eating species mentioned 
in a preceding paragraph, especially by the thrushes. In western New York 
the panicled dogwood has been planted along roadsides and many fence 
rows and throughout every swamp. The seeds of the shadbush, which 
brightens the landscape with its showy blossoms, have been scattered 'by the 
thrushes and finches. The forester might object that most of the^e trees are 
of little use for timber, but there is at least one valuable timber tree which 
is planted extensively, especially by the Flicker and Robin, — the black 
cherry (Prunus serotina), and to some extent the cucumber tree (Magnolia 
acuminata) and sour gum (Nyssa). If the lumberman is not pleased by 
the fruit-planting species, the botanist certainly is, for all the fruit-bearing 
plants must necessarily become exterminated except for the agency of the 
birds in scattering their seeds throughout the fields and woodland. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 5 1 

Destruction of meadow mice and other injurious rodents. Just as 
outbreaks of insect pests are held in check by birds, so a great increase of 
meadow mice, squirrels and rabbits is prevented by the agency of our 
hawks and owls. Many species like the Rough-legged hawk, feed almost 
exclusively on meadow mice, and most of the heavier soaring species like 
the Red-tail and Red-shouldered hawks are principally beneficial for the 
same reason. Most of the smaller owls, as would naturally be expected, 
feed principally upon mice, since these animals are partially nocturnal in 
habit like the owls themselves, and the owls are unquestionably nature's 
remedy for rodent pests. 

THE STATUS OF OUR BIRD LAWS 
For many years on the statute books of the State there has 
been a paragraph in the game laws excepting certain birds from the 
protection which is afforded the desirable species. There has scarcely 
been a year within the author's memory when this list has not been 
changed for some reason or other, but from the beginning hawks, with- 
out exception, have been included, on the theory that they are all 
injurious or that the injurious can not be distinguished from the beneficial 
by the sportsman. As a matter of fact, opinions will differ about many 
species; and some species of birds that are beneficial, or at least innocuous 
in many localities, will be found decidedly injurious in others. Further- 
more, in the same locality certain individuals frequently acquire habits 
which place them in the injurious list. Some individuals of the Red- 
headed woodpecker become much more cannibalistic than their fellows. 
The same is true of grackles, crows and other species which occasionally 
feed upon nestlings or eggs. Consequently, there is great difficulty in decid- 
ing upon a black list which shall apply to all localities of the State and be 
unchangeable. The general consensus of opinion, however, as a result 
of observation and examination of stomach contents, should certainly place 
the following birds on the black list: Cooper hawk. Sharp-shinned hawk, 
Goshawk, Gyrfalcon, Diick hawk. Pigeon hawk, Great -horned owl, Snowy 



1 



52 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

owl, Great blue heron, Kingfisher, Crow, Bluejay, Crow blackbird (Purple 
grackle and Bronzed grackle), Cowbird and English sparrow. Some would 
prefer to add to this list various of the hawks mentioned above which are 
injurious to a certain degree in the destruction of poultry, game and insec- 
tivorous birds. Others would place upon the list all birds the majority of 
whose food consists of fishes, and there can be little doubt that the fish- 
eating species mentioned above are in reality injurious, but in their case, 
as in the case of the Bluejay and Duck hawk, there is such a strong senti- 
ment in favor of the bird due to its interesting personality, that either the 
Audubon Society or nature lovers in general have succeeded in keeping 
them off the black list. As a bird lover I sympathize with this attitude, 
but also as a bird lover I can not endure to see all the nestlings and birds' 
eggs of the coverts surrounding my own home destroyed even by bluejays 
or cowbirds, but these species are both protected according to the current 
laws in New York State. I might consent to see the Bluejay remain on 
the protected list, but I could never willingly consent to protect the Cow- 
bird. In regard to such species as the Red-tailed hawk. Marsh hawk and 
Barred owl, circumstances should govern the attitude of the farmer. If 
Marsh hawks have discovered that the chickens on his premises are more 
attractive than meadow mice and are destroying his poultry, he certainly 
should be allowed in that particular instance to protect his property. If 
a bird lover finds the Red -tailed hawk is destroying all the grouse in the 
coverts which he frequents, those particular hawks should be removed 
from the scenes of their operations, and the same principles should govern 
our attitude toward all those species that are on the doubtful list. Where 
they are doing good in their little community they should be left undis- 
turbed; where they develop habits which apparently are doing injury to 
the best interests of the State, they should be removed. 

SPECIAL MEASURES FOR INCREASING BIRD LIFE 
Erecting artificial nesting sites. As suggested on page i8, all birds 
which nest in hollows or deserted woodpeckers' holes, and even the wood- 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 53 

peckers themselves, may be induced to make their nests in hollow limbs 
or boxes erected in orchards, groves and shade trees. It is necessary to 
provide these artificial sites if those birds which nest in hollows are to be 
encouraged about our homes. It seems that no better work could be sug- 
gested for the Boy Scouts or the country boys that wish to do some good 
in the world and have unbounded energies, than to provide boxes for the 
bluebirds and wrens. Those intended for the Bluebird should be not less 
than four by four inches inside measurement, and from eight to ten inches 
in height with a hole one and three-fourths inches in diameter near the upper 
part of one side of the box. Boxes of the same construction will attract 
the wrens, sometimes, unfortunately, to the exclusion of bluebirds and other 
species, but boxes erected in the garden or in a comer of the orchard near 
the house or even on the comer of the woodshed or under the eaves of a 
shed or low bam, with an opening one and one-eighth inches in diameter, 
will be utilized by the wren, and if a sufficient number is provided the house- 
holder may succeed in gaining some families of these interesting and bene- 
ficial birds. The wren has a habit of filling many boxes with sticks and 
other nesting materials, so that those which really contain no nests should 
be emptied occasionally to give other birds a chance. Thus, if the boxes 
are constructed so that one side can be removed when necessary, this work 
will be facilitated. I have found that the Bluebird will utilize nesting 
boxes placed on the tops of fence posts about the fields and gardens, but 
these boxes are more subject to the depredations of cats which dash up 
the posts and sometimes even secure the mother bird, as I have found upon 
several occasions. At the same time, these boxes erected on fence posts 
are seldom utilized by the English sparrow. Thus, if the marauding cats 
can be held in check, the Bluebird can be encouraged without undue 
rivalry with the sparrow for a nesting site. Boxes or hollow limbs should 
also be erected in the orchard for bluebirds, and if sparrows occupy the 
nests they may be destroyed by capturing them in nets thrown over the 
opening of the box after nightfall and then the box emptied of the bulky 
contents. Martin boxes should consist of four to eight or twelve com- 



54 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

partments, each about eight inches square and six inches high inside, with 
an opening two inches wide, in this case near the bottom of each section, 
and a ledge or doorstep for the birds to occupy. The martins are nearly 
as well satisfied with a starch box which has been divided into compart- 
ments and covered with a roof as they are with the elaborately constructed 
martin boxes described in the bird magazines. Martin houses should be 
erected on poles in the garden or back yard at a height of from ten to fifteen 
feet, the box so mounted on the top of the pole that marauding cats can 
not disturb it and with removable front, if possible, so that the boxes may 
be cleaned each spring just before the martins arrive in April, and prefer- 
ably should be closed during the winter to keep the English sparrows from 
occupying them, and opened just before the time of the Martin's arrival 
from the South. If martin houses were erected in all our villages and 
cities and even about many farmyards, this interesting and extremely 
beneficial bird might be preserved; but we can scarcely hope that it will 
remain a common species in any locality without special protection from 
the English sparrow, and unless it is furnished with suitable houses for 
shelter and nesting. 

The progressive decline of all woodpeckers in the agricvdtural districts 
leads us to suggest that unless nesting limbs are provided for these species 
as well as for nuthatches, chickadees, Crested flycatchers, Tree swallows, 
and all those birds which nest in hollows, they will continue to decline; but 
if nesting limbs are provided they will undoubtedly, to a certain extent, 
be tided over the most difficult stage in adapting themselves to culture 
conditions and will finally become established among our orchards and shade 
trees. At least, this would certainly be the result with the Flicker, Downy 
woodpecker. Chickadee and Nuthatch and probably the Crested fly- 
catcher. Likewise, the Red-headed woodpecker and Hairy woodpecker 
might occasionally avail themselves of the artificial sites and so be estab- 
lished in localities where dead and hollow limbs have all been cut away to 
improve the parks and shade trees. These limbs for woodpeckers, in the 
author's estimation, should be at least two feet in length, and for the 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 55 

larger species six inches in diameter, cut diagonally at either end so that 
they could be nailed to the side of a large branch or the main trunk of the 
tree at a moderate elevation. For smaller species like the Downy wood- 
pecker and Nuthatch, the limbs need not be more than four inches in 
diameter. In the case of the Nuthatch, Crested flycatcher and Chickadee, 
the branches erected for their accommodation should be hollowed artificially, 
the size of the entrance being accommodated to the size of the bird expected 
as an inmate. Mr William Brewster and Mr E. H. Forbush have recom- 
mended nesting boxes made of the bark of birch and elm nailed at the 
ends to rounded boards. Branches of these trees cut in late spring or 
early summer may be peeled with comparative ease. They should be cut 
in the lengths desired, eight to ten inches for chickadees, nuthatches and 
bluebirds, and a hole of the proper diameter bored before the sections are 
peeled. The Chickadee limbs should have the entrance hole about one 
and one-eighth inches in diameter; nuthatches, one and one-half inches; 
Crested flycatcher, one and three-fourths inches. In some localities bird 
lovers have found that Downy woodpeckers and flickers take possession of 
hollowed limbs provided the entrance hole is of a proper size (see descrip- 
tion of the nesting holes of the various species of woodpecker which the 
bird fancier wishes to attract). Holes should be round or nearly so and 
the depth of the excavated interior correspond nearly with the holes usually 
constructed by these birds for their own accommodation. The experience 
of bird lovers in various parts of the country shows that Screech owls may 
also be attracted to limbs of this description, likewise the Sparrow hawk, 
and in rare instance, the Wood duck. We beUeve that hollowed limbs or 
even boxes, especially if covered with bark or constructed from bark- 
covered slabs, should be erected in the swamps frequented by the Wood 
duck so that the gradual disappearance of hollow trees in these localities 
should not force this interesting species to desert the locality from failure 
of suitable nesting sites. These boxes or hollow limbs for the Wood duck 
should have an entrance hole four or five inches in diameter and be placed 
at an altitude of at least fifteen to twenty feet from the ground. 



56 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

The author has noticed that swallows are discouraged in most of 
the bams which have been erected during the last fifteen j^ears in western 
New York. The entrance holes for these birds are apparently becoming 
" out of date " and many farmers even knock down the nests of the swallows 
which have entered through a window or the bam door and constructed 
their nests on the rafters. We believe that every barn should be con- 
structed with an opening for swallows to enter throughout the breeding 
season, and even narrow ledges placed on some of the rafters to furnish 
the birds with suitable places to attach their nests. The slight annoyance 
of droppings from the nest can be overcome by stretching a piece of canvas 
three or four feet in diameter beneath the nest or the suspension of a small 
platform of half inch boards. Thus the farmyard would be tenanted by 
twittering swallows, not only a pleasing addition to the landscape, but 
a safeguard against the increase of noxious insects. The Eaves swallow 
has practically disappeared in many districts of central and western New 
York where it was a common species thirty years ago, because there is 
no chance beneath the eaves of the bams for these birds to attach their 
gourd-shaped nests. Farmers and bird fanciers might finally secure colonies 
of these interesting birds by erecting a very narrow ledge not more than 
one inch in projection beneath the eaves, running a part of the distance 
but interrupted over the entrance door. In this way we have seen colonies 
of the birds attracted. Although one may have to wait several years, 
finally the birds will distover the favorable site and utilize it. 

Baron von Berlepsch has suggested and put into practice the habit 
of trimming shrubs and the lower branches of trees in such a way that 
they will sprout out and form suitable crotches for the attachment of 
nests like those of our Goldfinch, Yellow warbler, Wood thrush and any 
species which the landowner wishes to attract. This is unnecessary in 
many localities, but where bird lovers have planted shrubbery and trees 
for the special accommodation of birds it is worth while to practise in 
this respect so that safe supports may be afforded these crotch-building 
species. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 57 

Planting to attract birds. Those who wish to attract various species 
of birds to coverts which are reserved for their accommodation should 
plant species like red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), flowering dogwood 
(Comus florida), red osier (Comus stolonifera) , green osier (Comus altemi- 
folia), sheep berry (Viburnum lentago), tree cranberry (Viburnum opulus), 
spice bush (Benzoin benzoin), blueberries of various species (Vaccinium), 
huckleberries (Gaylussacia) , tupelo or sour gum (Nyssa silvatica), bird 
cherry (Prunus pennsylvanica) , choke cherry (Prunus virginiana), shad 
bush (Amelanchier canadensis), barberry (Berberis vulgaris), winterberry 
(Ilex verticillata) , bayberry (Myrica carolinensis) , hackberry (Celtis 
occidentalis) , white or Russian mulberry (Morus alba), red mulberry 
(Moms rubra), sassafras (Sassafras sassafras), the various species of Ameri- 
can hawthorn or thorn trees (Crataegus) , English hawthorn (Crataegus oxya- 
cantha), wild grapes (Vitis), Virginia creeper or woodbine (Parthenocissus 
quinquef olia) , elder (Sambucus canadensis), red-berried elder (Sambucus 
pubens), dwarf wild rose (Rosa humilis), blackberries and raspberries 
(Rubus), smooth sumac (Rhus glabra), staghom sumac (Rhushirta), Euro- 
pean mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia), American mountain ash (Sorbus 
americana), ginseng (Aralia quinquef olia), sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), 
spikenard (Aralia racemosa), wintergreen (Gaultheria), partridge berry 
(Mitchella repens), panicled dogwood (Comus paniculata), maple leaf vibur- 
num (Viburnum acerifolium), hobble- bush (Viburnum alnifolium), bunch 
berry or dwarf cornel (Comus canadensis), fly honeysuckle (Lonicera 
canadensis), privet (Ligustrtun), also cone-bearing and strobile-bearing 
trees like the spruce, hemlock, larch, alder and birch which furnish seeds 
for winter birds and buds for grouse. In addition to these shrubs and 
trees, bird fanciers would also do well to plant various herbs which retain 
seeds through the fall and winter, such as the stmflower and the much- 
despised pigweed (Amarantus) and goosefoot (Chenopodium), which 
remain standing through the winter and furnish welcome sustenance for 
Song sparrows. Tree sparrows, juncos and others of the family when few 
other seeds are obtainable. The plantation of even a few acres of the sorts 



58 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

named, with small clearings interspersed, planted to large- seeded grasses 
and the weeds mentioned, would be ideal coverts for attracting numerous 
species of birds. The day will undoubtedly come when bird societies will 
own preserves of this kind and plant them with the principal object of 
attracting great numbers of their feathered friends. 

Water supply. Birds are more numerous during the summer where 
there is convenient access to water for baths and drinking. When no pond 
or stream is close at hand, an artificial bath or drinking fountain will add 
to the attractiveness of the preserves from the birds' viewpoint. Where 
more elaborate provision is impracticable, a shallow tray filled with clear 
water to the depth of one to two inches, will serve the purpose. 

BIRD REFUGES 

For many years the author has had a growing belief in the efficacy 
of refuges or preserves, not only of trees and flowers, but for the purpose 
of preserving our varied and interesting bird life. The Audubon Society 
and the national government have demonstrated already the great impor- 
tance of large preserves in saving species of birds and animals from exter- 
mination. Several foreign governments have also accomplished the same 
purpose. It seems that there is especial need in this State for the establish- 
ment of several well-distributed preserves, in order to save to future 
generations such species as the Wood duck, Woodcock, Ruffed grouse and 
many of the woodland song birds that naturally disappear with the culti- 
vation of the country. 

One hundred fifty thousand dollars are collected annually by the 
State in gun taxes. Since the principal object of gun licensing is the 
protection of game and wild birds, it seems that one of the most rational 
expenditures of this sum would be in the establishment of bird and animal 
preserves in various parts of the State, which could be under the control 
of the nearest game protectors, and be dedicated to the preservation of 
plants and animals which are in danger of extermination, and to act as 
centers of dispersal for the surrounding region. By judicious control of 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 59 

the forest and thickets within such preserves, conditions coixld be made 
favorable to the species for which they were established, and thus, without 
additional expense to the State, they could be policed by the protectors 
who are already in existence as guardians of the law. It is absolutely 
certain that in many counties of the State the Ruf?ed grouse, Woodcock 
and Wood duck can never thrive except with such aid; and as these are 
three of the species with which the Game Commission is most concerned, 
it would seem that no better expenditure of the gun license money could 
be devised than the establishment of such preserves to be owned by the 
State and controlled by the State Conservation Commission. 

PRIVATE PRESERVES 
The salvation of many birds and quadrupeds in various countries of 
Europe has been the private preserves which have furnished them with the 
only habitat and protection from many of their enemies. In America the 
same practice is gaining ground. In New England and various other states 
of the Union, landowners are beginning to set aside portions of their wood- 
lands, thickets and fields as refuges for the animals in which they are 
especially interested. There can be no doubt that if this practice becomes 
general in our own State the protection of bits of woodland and stream- 
side thickets will be the final means of rescuing many of our most valued 
songsters from extirpation in the more thickly populated districts. The 
widespread interest in the means of protecting birds and inquiries as to 
the proper trees and shrubs to plant for their accommodation are becoming 
more frequent. By a study of the bird communities outlined above and 
of the habitats which they prefer, bird fanciers may find the information 
they need in planting waste land for the encouragement of their feathered 
friends. The species of fruit and seed-bearing trees which are so often 
recommended (see Forbush Useful Birds and Their Protection, page 374; 
Kennard, Bird-Lore 14, 201) will undoubtedly attract the frugivorous 
and granivorous species, thereby encouraging many of the thrushes and 
sparrows, and at the same time these trees and shrubs will furnish nesting 



I 



60 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

sites and insect food for the vireos, warblers and wrens which would not 
be attracted by their fruit. The main object in planting for bird refuges, 
besides providing food, is to furnish shelter from, storm, nesting sites for 
the birds and vegetation upon which insects will find abundant food. 
Combinations of forest growth, second growth, thickets and tangles and, 
wherever possible, pond-side or stream-side thickets with moist land for 
some distance on each side of the stream will be found to furnish the 
character of cover most suitable to a large number of birds. 

From observations on the partially cleared hillsides of southwestern 
New York and in the groves and patches of the deciduous forest still 
common in the center of the State, the author is well convinced that most 
of our birds of the forest and thicket require a higher degree of humidity 
than is usually found in brush lots and pastures which are exposed to the 
direct rays of the sun, and that slopes furnishing less exposure to direct 
sunlight and kept humid by sufficient cover of vegetation, are necessary 
to attract most of our thrushes and warblers. Even the birds of the dryer 
thickets, such as the Field span-ow and Indigo bird, must have shelter of 
foliage to which they may retreat during the hottest portion of the day. 
A recent report of the Conservation Commission calls attention to the 
fact that there are in New York State at least four million five hundred 
thousand acres of land which is more fitted to produce forest growth than 
for agricultural purposes, but which is not at the present time covered 
with forest. If all this land were gradually planted to forest trees, the 
resulting growth to cover, which would gradually become fitted for various 
communities of woodland birds, would tend to increase to a perceptible 
degree the bird life of our domain, and if the twelve million acres of land 
which is already covered with forest growth were managed either by the 
clean-cutting system which some foresters advise or by selective cutting, 
the result would be that a sufficient portion of our domain would be left 
in the various types of woodland to attract both the forest community 
and the community of the open wood and thicket, so that conservation 
of birds might progress hand in hand with the conservation of our forests. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 

Order RAPTOKES 

Birds of prey 

Ordinal characters. Bill stout, epignathous, hooked at the tip, cered 

at the base; feet strong, usually with long, curved talons; the skull des- 
mognathos and holorhinal; sternum broad and deeply keeled; furculum 
U-shaped; ambiens muscle present except in owls; the biceps slip wanting; 
the oil gland nude; wings aquincubital ; 2 carotids; crop large; regimen 
carnivorous; flight powerful; young downy but remaining long in the nest. 

While it is true that the so-called raptorial birds may be recognized 

as related in the characters stated above, it is evident that the order is 

rather loosely connected and many ornithologists would prefer to separate 

at least the owls, and some the American vultures, into independent orders. 

The American Ornithologists Union, however, still recognizes the order 

as given above. On account of their rapacious habits they are associated 

more in the popular mind than they are in scientific classification. They 

have always received much attention from the agriculturist and, with 

the exception of the vultures, have almost universally been considered 

injurious species. I have found very few communities in the State of 

New York where even the Rough-legged hawk is recognized as beneficial 

in spite of the fact that Doctor Fisher's admirable work on hawks and 

owls has been in print for many years. A careful study of the economic 

value of Raptores has been undertaken by the Biological Survey, as 

well as by ornithologists throughout the country, and a fairly accurate 

estimate of their food can be made. The following table, compiled 

mostly from the reports of the Biological Survey, but also from many 

notes made by the author and other New York ornithologists, will show 

the exact composition, as far as it has been determined by dissection, by 

the examination of the stomach balls collected under owl trees and hawk 

trees, and by observation of the birds in the field. The fact that two or 

three kinds of food are frequently found in the same stomach explain^ 

the fact that the percentage of stomachs containing each variety of food 

will not add up to one hundred, but it is thought more instructive to show 

6l 



62 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



the percentage of stomachs containing various kinds of food than to try- 
to estimate the percentage of each kind of food taken by the species. 
Species marked g are near the border line of beneficial birds. 



Food of New York hawks and owls 

Percentage of stomachs examined containing various kinds of food 






SPECIES EXAMINED 


O 

0. 


a 
m 

a 

a 
u 

E 
S- 





H 

a 

'Ti [/) 


n 


(ii 

u 

s 


en 

i 

s 

w < 



H 

m 


K 2 
to ■" 


>• 

H 

s 


Beneficial 

Rough-legged hawk . . . 
Broad-winged hawk . . . 
Red-shouldered hawk . 

Sparrow hawk 

Red-tailed hawk (g). . . 

Marsh hawk (g) 

Bam owl 


O 
O 

I 

1/3 

lO 

6 

3 

I 



6 

i/3 
5 
5 

36 
23 

4 
3S 

4 

25 




3 
6 

17 

9 

27 

13 

14 

4 

II 

IS 
12 

2S 

8 

49 
66 

45 
80 

7 


2 
18 
10 

4 
6 

I 

I 

2 


19 
i9(fish 2) 

4 
3 
2 

2 (fish i) 
4 (fish 2) 

I 


81 

22 

5° 
28 

50 
46 

S6 
82 

79 

77 
36 
42 
48 

4 

5 

4 

II 


10 

19 

20 

4 
24 
18 

54 
5 

7 

5 

17 

5 

40 

8 

Si 


2 

45 
45 
7.1 
8 
10 

14 

I 

5 

13 

12 
2 

4 
10 

32 

8 


6 

3 
sp. 9 

sp. 1/5 

4(sp. 3) 
9(sp. 2) 


8 

10 

7 

9 

16 

7 

22 


Long-eared owl 

Saw-whet owl 

Short-eared owl 

Screech owl 

Barred owl (g) 

Snowy owl (g) 

Injurious 

Goshawk 

Cooper hawk 

Sharp-shinned hawk. . . 
Duck hawk 


IS 

14 
14 
17 
18 

33 

32 
30 

3S 


Pigeon hawk 

Great homed owl 




(fish 3) 


9 
14 



Suborder SARCORHAMPHI 

Family CATHA-KTIDA.E 

American vultures 

Characters. Bill strong, elongated, hooked at the tip and blunt; 
nostrils large, longitudinal and perforate; head and neck rather long, bare, 
rough and usually bright colored; tongue thick and fleshy; eyes prominent; 
feet clumsy and covered with small scales; front toes long, webbed at the 
base; hind toe short and elevated; talons obtuse and only slightly curved; 
wings very ample; 11 primaries; tail of moderate length, even or slightly 
rounded, consisting of 12 or 14 rectrices; the basipterygoid process is present; 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 63 

the oil gland is naked; there are no coeca; no syrinx or lower larynx; the 
ambiens, semitendinosus and its accessories are present, as is usually the 
femorocaudal; there are no after shafts on the feathers; color somber; sexes 
alike in size and plumage. 

This is a well-marked group, evidently of neotropical origin, con- 
sisting of 9 species. The characters in which they differ from other diurnal 
birds of prey are deemed sufficient by many ornithologists to place them 
in a separate order, the Cathartidiformes of Sharpe's Handlist. Their 
appearance and habits are also strongly characteristic. They are ambula- 
torial in gait and listless in attitude. More or less gregarious in habit, 
they sit about on dead trees, fences and large buildings sunning them- 
selves in somber companies, or soar with easy, circling flight high over 
the fields looking for refuse or carrion which is their principal food. 
Their feet are wholly unfitted for carrying prey, as the blunt talons and 
small, elevated hallux would indicate; and thus rarely or never subsist on 
living animals. They regurgitate the disgusting contents of their crops for 
the young to feed upon. The nest is usually built on the ground, among 
rocks, or in a hollow stump in a secluded part of the woods. The eggs are 
commonly two in number. These birds have long been considered bene- 
ficial and are the principal scavengers of the southern fields, rendering 
efficient service to the community by destroying all kinds of offal. 

Cathartes aura septentrionalis (Wied.) 
Turkey Vulture 

Plate 43 

Vultur aura septentrionalis Wied. Reise Nord-America. 1839. 1:162 

Cathartes aura DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 2, fig. 12 

Cathartes aura septentrionalis A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 

p. 152. No. 32s 

cathartes, Gr. xaOapTTj^ a cleanser, i. e. a scavenger; aura, probably a latinized form 
of urnbu; septentriondlis, Lat., Northern 

Description. Adult: Head and upper portion of neck hare, dull 
crimson, becoming bright red on base of bill. Plumage black, glossed 
with purple or greenish on the back, and the feathers of the upper parts, 
especially the wing-coverts and the secondaries, margined with grayish 



64 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



brown. Quill shafts from light brown to yellowish white. Bill dull white. 
Iris grayish brown. Immature: Similar, but head dusky and covered with 
more or less furry down. Downy young: Cottony white, except the 
naked head. 

Length 26-32 inches; extent 72; wing 20-23; tail 11-12; bill (culmen) 
l; tarsus 2.23-2.30; middle toe 2.50 

Distribution. The Turkey vulture, or Turkey buzzard as it is usually 

called in the Southern States, inhabits 
tropical and temperate America from 
Patagonia to New York, Saskatchewan 
and British Columbia. In our State it 
seems to occur only as a summer visitor, 
more commonly on Long Island, in the 
Hudson valley, and in the warmer por- 
tions of western New York. In these 
localities it appears yearly in limited 
numbers, usually in the months of July 
and August. Dozens of records are 
before me, the earliest being April 24, 
and the latest December 28. Mr F. B. 
Robinson of Newburgh reports a young 
bird killed near Gardiner, Ulster county, 
June I, 1904; and thinks this species 
breeds in that locality, but the speci- 
men referred to was old enough to have 
flown hundreds of miles, and as yet we 
lack definite proof of its breeding 
within the limits of the State. 

Habits. This bird is the most 

Turkey vulture. Cathartcs aura septentrlo- aCCOmplisllcd aCrOUaut amOUg OUr Hrds 
nalis (Wicd). From specimen in the State Museum. /. ttti • • p t 1 

J nat. size ot prcy. When rising from the ground 

its initial flaps are hurried and somewhat ungainly, but when fairly under 
way it sweeps in wide interlocking circles, higher and higher, with scarcely 




BIRDS OF NEW YORK 65 

a motion of its long wings, except when struggling against adverse currents 
of air. It nests upon the ground in a secluded spot. The eggs are one 
to three in number, nearly plain or spotted with chocolate, 2.8 by 2 
inches in size. Its food consists almost entirely of carrion, and in the 
South it is considered of great value as a scavenger. 

Catharista urubu (Vieillot) 
Black Vulture 

Vultur urubu Vieillot. Ois. Amer. 
Sept. 1807. 1 : 23. pi. 2 

Catharista urubu A. O. U. Check 
List. Ed. 3. igio. p. 153. No. 326 

catharista, Gr. xaOap(^o) (xaOat'pw) to 
cleanse or purify, referring to its work as a 
scavenger; urubu, a vulture 

Description. Glossy black, the 
under surface of the wings frosted or 
silvery, giving a distinctly whitish 
sheen to wing quills as the bird flies 
overhead; head and neck bare, black- 
ish in color. Decidedly more stumpy 
in build and less graceful in flight 
than the Turkey vulture, the tail 
noticeably shorter and the wing strokes 
more frequent. 

Length 24 inches; extent 55; 
wing 17. 

Distribution. The Black vult- 
ure, or Carrion crow as it is some- 
times called, inhabits America from 
Kansas and Virginia southward 

. 1/^ iA • Black vulture. Catharista urubu (Vieillot). Prom 

through Mexico and Central Amenca ppecimen in Am. mus. Nat. Hist, j nat. size 

and the greater part of South America, and wanders northward rarely as far 
as Maine, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ohio. There are records of two or 
three specimens taken in New York, near Sandy Hook in the spring of 
1877 (Robt. Lawrence, N. O. C. Bui. 5: 116), Coney Island beach, about 




66 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



1881 (Le Berier, N. O. C. Bui. 6:126), Shelby Center, May 28, 1892 
(Posson, Aiik 16:195), Auburn, April 11, 191 1 (F. J. Stupp), and Steuben 
CO., July II, 1909, Burtch, Auk, 28:112. Mr Ottomar Reinecke reports 
that he and the late Charles Linden watched a bird of this species for some 
time as it flew about the village of West Seneca, near Buffalo, N. Y., 
one day in June 1884. Mr Dana C. Gillett also reports it from Tona- 
wanda swamp, May 1899. The Black vulture therefore must be regarded 
as a rare and irregular visitor to New York, not appearing regularly 
in any part of the State like the Turkey vulture, but straggling within 
onr boundaries only at long intervals. 



Suborder KALCONES 

Hawks, Falcons, Osprcys etc. 

Family I3UTEONIDA.E 

Buzzards, Eagles, True Hawks, Kites and Harriers 

Nostrils oval and impervious; nasal septum, however, is incomplete; 
the palate without a median ridge; the scapular process of the coracoid 
not reaching furculum; tarsus shorter than tibia, scutellate in front, partly 
feathered; wings ample, usually somewhat rounded in shape; tail usually 
of 12 rectrices; the legs well feathered, usually below the heel joint, 
and the "flag" well developed; the basipterygoid process is wanting, 
and the plumage is aftershafted ; general build heavy. 

Beside the subfamily Buteoninae, recognized by some authors, which 
is the most typical of this family and includes our common buzzards or 
soaring hawks and eagles, is the subfamily Circinae or harriers, represented 
by our Marsh hawk, which is characterized by weak beak; long tarsus, 
bare and equal to the tibia in length; long, naiTow, pointed wings; long 
slender tail; the legs long and slender; the general build light and slim; and 
a facial disc forming an incomplete ruff; as well as ears with large external 
opening and a conch, and a soft, fluffy plumage, which characters link 
them with the owls. Among the harriers, the sexes are usually unlike. 
The nest is placed upon the ground, contrary to the usual practice in this 
family. 

The subfamily Milvinae, including the kites, have very weak beak 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 67 

and extremely short tarsus, shorter than the tibia, with retictilate scales; 
the wings very long, narrow and pointed; the legs unusually small; and 
the general build very light. They have no ruff Uke the harriers and the 
plumage is not so soft and owl-like. 

The subfamily Accipitrinae, or " true hawks," like ovir Cooper and 
Sharp-shinned hawks, has a stronger beak, with a prominent festoon on 
the cutting edge; the tarsus is slender and as long as the tibia; wings short, 
rounded, concavo-convex, with 3 to 5 of the quills emarginate; the tail 
is long; legs long and slim; and the general build light as compared with 
the buzzard. Difference in size of sexes is especially marked in this sub- 
family. The young are characteristically mottled and streaked longi- 
tudinally, whereas the adults are barred and heart-spotted in their marking. 
They are arboreal in habits, usually lie in wait for their prey and swoop 
upon it with a swift, dashing flight. The flight is low as compared with 
the buzzard, and not so free and easy as that of the Marsh hawk. 

Elanoides forficatus (Linnaeus) 

Swallow-tailed Kite 

Falco forficatus Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:89 
Nauclerus furcatus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 12, fig. 15 
Elanoides forficatus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 153. No. 327 
elanoides, from Lat. elanus, a kite; forficdtus, from Lat. jorjex, a pair of shears, 
referring to the forked tail 

Description. Wings very long, thin and pointed; tail also very long 
and deeply forked; feet stout but very short, the tarsus feathered halfway 
in front; talons short, well curved, scooped out and sharp edged on the 
under surface; bill weak; cere small. Adult: Head, neck, rump and entire 
underparts white; wings, back and tail lustrous black. Young: Less lus- 
trous; wings and tail feathers tipped with white, the head and neck with 
black shaft streaks; tail shorter. 

Length 24 inches, more or less according to the development of the 
outer tail feathers; extent 50; wing 15-17.50; tail 13-14.50; tarsus 1.25. 

Distribution. The Swallow-tailed kite, or Snake hawk as it is often 
called, inhabits America from the warm portions of South America north- 
ward to Manitoba and Assiniboia, wintering from Florida and Texas south- 
5 



68 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



ward. It is of rare or casual occurrence in New England and New York, 
only a few State records being before me: 

Raynor South L. I., 1837. Giraud, Birds of L. I. p. 13 
South Shore of L. I., 1845. Le Berier, N. O. C. Bui. 6, 126 
Fi?rmont, Rockland co., Aug. 22, 1900. G. N. Nicholas, Auk 17, 386. 
In Rensselaer county, near the villages of Pittstown and West Hoosick, 

the male figured on this page was 
secured July 16, 1886 (see 50th 
Report N. Y. State Museum, p. 14; 
and Auk 3, 484). Relating to this 
specimen Mr Griffin Haight, who 
secured it, writes: " I live two miles 
west of West Hoosick in the town of 
Fittstown; and two miles from the 
Hoosick line. I keep a poultry yard 
and breed fancy fowls. Being troubled 
with hawks of late I thought I would 
clean out a few of them and stopped 
at home on the i6th of July for that 
purpose. I had succeeded in killing 
three hawks and had just fired at 
the fourth one, when I saw this kite 
rise from the woods back of my house 

f — ^ ! , T^^H ^^^ SO perpendicularly up, as near as 

I could judge, out of sight. He was 
gone about 20 minutes when I saw 
him coming down again. I called my wife to the door and asked her if 
she would like to see a Swallow-tailed kite. She said a kite was no sight 
to her. I told her it was a bird by that name, and that I never saw one 
north of Port Royal, S. C. The bird came down and lit on a dead pine. 
He sat there a short time. Then he took another upward flight, going 
straight up out of sight. He was gone just 30 minutes this time and came 




Swalluw-tailcd kit", Eiaiioiiies lorficatus (Linnaeus). 
From spccimc-n in State Museum, jl nat. s'ze. 



DIRDS OF NEW YORK 69 

down in the same place where he went up and lit on the same tree. He sat 
there 7 minutes this time, when up he went again straight out of sight. 
This time he was gone 51 minutes. I had about given him up and turned 
to go to the house when I saw him coming down again and another one 
with him. They lit on the same tree. I started for them and one started 
up again out of sight. He went in a flash. The other sat still. I walked 
on a short distance farther, when up he went and I fired at him. He 
folded his wings and came down. From where I stood to where the kite 
lay was 17 rods, 3 feet. I watched for the other one, but did not see him 
again that day; but I have seen him once since, yesterday, the 29th. . . . 
I shot the kite on the i6th of July, 10.30 o'clock, a. m. 

" I live near a big timber lot of about 500 acres, and about a mile 
from my house is a large ash swamp of as much more, with quite a body 
of water in the center." 

Under date of August 3, 1886: " I will get the mate to this bird (the 
mounted kite), and will send it to you gratis. I am watching him and his 
manouvering and actions and learning a little something of his habits. 
His roosting spot is in the large swamp west of me." 

Under date of August 9, 1886, Mr Haight writes: " I shot this bird 
(a great blue heron) while htmting for the kite in the big swamp. I saw 
him today several times. The last time that I saw him he was dissecting 
a hornets' nest and sat on the top of a dead stub out in the water, so I could 
not get a shot at him. I am going to give him another trial tomorrow if 
the day is cloudy. A clear day is not a good time to hunt him. He is 
a third larger than the other kite I sent you, and I think there are more 
in the swamp. I could see some birds in the dead ashes that looked like 
them and moved around like a kite." Evidently, from its size, this kite 
was a female and was probably the mate of the male secured on July i6th. 
The birds seen among the ashes in the swamp may have been their young^ 

Under date of July 17, 1891, Mr Haight writes: " We are watching 
the kite very closely. It seems to alight in the top of the tallest trees in 
the woods. It lit on the side hill a short ways from the house today, and 



yO NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

seemed to be catching grasshoppers. I do not know what else he could be 
after by the way he ran around and would fly a few feet and light again. 
It was after something, whatever it was. I could not approach it as I was 
in plain view so I let it work and it flew into the woods after about 25 
minutes of flapping and running around. I have not seen any mate as 
yet. Mosher [one of his sons] saw the bird yesterday [July i6th] while 
I was from home and he said it lit on a tall pine and sat there for a full 
hour and then took a sail in the air and went out of sight behind some trees. 
I am watching its movements and will write you again." 

In 1900 Mr Haight saw three more kites on June 9, and noticed one 
about his place until June 19. All of this evidence would seem to indicate 
that the Swallow-tailed kite has established a home in Rensselaer county, 
N. Y., but absolute evidence of its breeding in this State is still lacking. 

Circus hudsonius (Linnaeus) 
Marsh Ilawk 

Plates 43 and 48 

Falco hudsoniui? Linnaeus. S.N. Ed. 12. 1766. 1:128 
Circus uligcnosus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 20, fig. 7 
Circus hudsonius A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 155. No. 331 
circus L., Or. xEpxo?, a hawk, from its circHng flight; htidsdnius of Hudson Bay 

Description. Wings and tail long, legs long and slender, face with a 
partial ruff, external ear large and fitted with a conch, general build light, 
plumage loose and owl-like in softness, sexes unlike in color, but both with 
white upper tail coverts. Adult cf : Ashy or bluish gray above and on the 
upper breast, rest of under parts white with a few rufous streaks and mottlings 
on the sides and belly; tail lighter pearly gray with 5 or 6 imperfectly 
defined blackish bars; 5 outer primaries blackish, and all the wing feathers 
with the inner webs near the bases white; legs, cere and iris yellow. 
Adult 9 : Fuscous or umber brown above varied with rufous or yellowish 
brown, especially streakings on the head and neck and mottlings on the 
wing coverts; under parts ocherous buff or brownish yellow, streaked more 
or less with fuscous or umber brown ; tail with 6 or 7 blackish bars, the middle 
feathers also with ashy bars. Young: Resemble the female but are 
darker above with more reddish mottlings on the wing coverts and feather 
edges. More rufous below with no streaks on the belly. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 7I 

Length cf 17.50-19 inches, 9 19-22; extent c? 40-45, 9 45-52; 
wing d^ 13-14.50, 9 14-16.50; tail cf 9-10. ? 9.50-10.50; tarsus 2.75-3.25. 

Field marks. This is the easiest of our native hawks to identify. 
The long wings and tail, light build, low wavering or coursing flight when 
hawking over the marshes or meadows, distinguish the Marsh hawk at 
a great distance. The very light color of the old males and the dark brown- 
ish appearance of the females and young coupled with the conspicuous 
white upper tail coverts make identification doubly sure. 

Distribution. The Marsh hawk is one of the most abundant and 
generally distributed members of its family in North America, occurring 
from Panama to the Arctic tundras, and wintering from 41st parallel south- 
ward. In New York it breeds in every portion of the State, from an 
altitude of 2000 to 3000 feet in the Adirondacks (Elk lake. Flowed land) 
to the tidal marshes of Long Island and the lower Hudson river. In the 
warmer portions of the State a few pass the winter, particularly along the 
coast and Hudson river, but they are commonest in nearly all portions of 
New York from March 10 to April 30, and from August i to November 
10, especially in early April and in September and October, when the bulk 
of the migration is accomplished. 

Habits. Like the Sparrow hawk this species is most common in the 
open country, hunting its prey over meadows, marshes and waste fields. 
Though it sometimes watches from a low perch, it usually searches out 
the mice and small birds which constitute its principal food by hawking 
with slowly circling or wavering flight over the marshes and lowland 
meadows. When attracted by some movement in the grass it wheels 
suddenly about and shoots upward a short distance to examine the spot; 
at other times it turns a complete somersault or makes a half turn and drops 
suddenly in the grass to strike its hvimble and unsuspecting quarry. The 
prey is devoured on the spot or carried to some sheltered hummock or 
muskrat house and swallowed without the plucking or tearing which is 
the custom of falcons and true hawks, but more after the manner of the 
Buteos. Doctor Fisher reports that " of 124 stomachs examined, 7 contained 



72 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

poultry or game birds; 34, other birds; 57, mice; 22, other mammals; 7, 
reptiles; 2, frogs; 14, insects; 8 were empty." My own experience shows 
that the food of this hawk, as is the case of other Raptores, depends much 
upon the individual hawk as well as the locality and the season. Most 
of the Marsh hawks from the Montezuma swamp which I have examined 
contained nothing but birds (Song sparrows, Tree sparrows, juncos, Red- 
winged blackbirds) and a few batrachians, while specimens from the more 
cultivated country were largely filled with mice and insects, mostly grass- 
hoppers (these latter usually in young birds). Mr Foster Parker, who 
lives near Montezuma, has seen Marsh hawks repeatedly attack young 
gallinules and finally exterminate the whole brood. 

In the mating season Marsh hawks indulge in extensive gyrations 
above their nesting sites, often somersaulting over and over from a con- 
siderable height and soaring upward again just before reaching the ground. 
Both sexes take part in nest building, incubating and rearing the young. 
The female sits closely and often remains on the nest until nearly trod 
upon, when she rises with a loud harsh cackling note uttered with a jerky 
intonation and resembling the syllables Cac-cac-cac-cac-cac. The male 
usually joins her at once and they circle excitedly about the swamp uttering 
intermittently their complaining screams. If the eggs are nearing the 
hatching period, or if the nestlings are quite young, the old birds, especially 
the female, will usually charge the intruder, dashing downward from a 
height of 200 feet or more with alarming swiftness directly at one's head 
but veering off and upward just before striking. I have been brushed 
by the wings of a female Marsh hawk when charging to protect her newly 
hatched young, and have had the bellows of my camera, which I had 
concealed in the neighboring brush in hopes of securing a snap shot of 
the old bird while feeding her young, torn to pieces by the sharp claws of 
the parent birds as they attacked the alarming object which they did not 
fail to discover at their first approach. The nest, unlike that of any of 
our other hawks, is placed upon the ground, usually in a tangle of low 
bushes, weeds and grasses in the midst of a swamp or bog. On several 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 73 

occasions I have found the nest of the Marsh hawk in small peat bogs 
overgrown with huckleberries, cassandra and Labrador tea, the situation 
being surrounded by cultivated fields and not far from the farm house. 
The nest is nearly the size of a crow's nest, but not quite so deep, and 
is composed entirely of grasses, twigs and weed stalks. The eggs, which are 
laid from the 15th to the 30th of May, are from 3 to 7 or even 9 in 
number, usually 5 or 6 in western New York, ovate in shape and bluish 
white in color, often with obscure shell markings and brownish spots, and 
nearly always much nest-stained. They average about 1.78 by 1.40 
inches in dimensions. The period of incubation is 23 days or more, the 
young hatching at successive intervals for several days, the female usually 
beginning to sit as soon as i or 2 eggs have been laid, a habit which 
has probably been acquired to protect the eggs from the attacks of crows 
which would easily discover them, attracted by the light-colored eggs, as 
they fly over the exposed nest. While crossing bogs like those in Bergen 
swamp, Junius pond and Mendon pond I have several times picked up 
eggs of the Marsh hawk which had recently been sucked by crows, and have 
known them to treat the nests of Cooper and Red-tailed hawks in a similar 
manner. Marsh hawk nestlings are covered with a buffy white down, 
through which the wing feathers begin to show in about 10 days, and in 
5 or 6 weeks they are able to fly. Nestlings which I brought up by hand 
required each from 2 to 5 mice or English sparrows daily to supply the 
cravings of hunger, so that the 5 young if left at Mendon pond would have 
consumed 600 mice and small birds, more or less, before they left the nest. 
The two old birds would consume in the 10 weeks of their sojourn near 
the nest about 500 more. So it is easy to see that a family of Marsh hawks 
on the farm makes a considerable difference in the abundance of meadow 
mice, song sparrows and other small inhabitants of the fields. 



74 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Accipiter velox (Wilson) 
Sharp-shinned Hawk 

Plate 44 

Falco velox Wilson. Am. Om. 1812. 5:116. PI. 45, fig. i 
Astur fuscus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 17, fig. 2 
Accipiter velox A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 155. No. 332 

accipiter, L., a hawk; velox, L., swift 

Description. Wings short and rounded; tail long and nearly square; 
tarsi and toes long and slender; the former feathered one-third of the way- 
down in front; bill stout, sharp and festooned or sinuate on the cutting 
edge. Adult cf and 9 : Above, slaty or bluish-gray, more fuscous on 
wings and tail; primaries and tail barred with blackish, the tail usually with 
4 bars, the subterminal one broad, and the tip whitish; under parts white 
more or less heavily barred with rufous except on throat and crissum, these 
rufous bars borne outward along each feather shaft, and the shafts, even 
on the throat, mostly blackish; bases of the occipital feathers downy white; 
scapulars and bases of primaries with concealed white spots. Young: 
Above fuscous or urubu brown, varied with rusty on the feather edges; 
below, dull white or buffy, spotted and streaked with dark brown or pale 
reddish brown; the wings, tail and concealed spots on occiput and scapular 
much as in the adults. Cere and feet yellow, often with greenish tinge; 
iris according to age varying from grayish yellow to yellow and in high 
plumage red. 

Length cf 10-12 inches, 9 13-14; extent cf 21-23, 9 25-27; wing cf 
6-7, 9 7-8.75; tail & 5-7-75, 9 6-8; tarsus 2-2.15; middle toe 1.18-1.38. 

Field marks. The small size of this hawk, when taken with its short 
rounded wings and long square tail, will serve to distinguish it. Its dashing 
flight, consisting successively of several rapid flappings followed by a short 
soar, together with its general shape, it shares with the Cooper hawk, the 
males of which species little more than equal females of this species in 
size, but the Sharp-shinned hawk has the square tail while the Cooper 
hawk has the rounded tail and, as intimated, is really larger. From the 
small falcons, that is the Pigeon hawk and the Sparrow hawk, it can be 
distinguished easily by its short rounded wings as compared with the falcon's 
long and pointed ones. 

Distribution. The Sharp-shinned hawk is one of our commonest and 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 75 

most generally distributed species, breeding from Hudson bay and the lower 
MacKenzie to Florida and Lower California; and wintering from New 
England and New York southward to Central America. In our State it 
is very common during the migrations, March 20 to April 30 and September 
I to October 30, especially about April 10 and from September 20 to October 
10, when several scores, or even hundreds, of these hawks may be seen in 
a single day, in the line of greatest migration not far from the coast and 
in the country near the southern shore of Lake Ontario. A few remain 
through the winter in the warmer portions of the State, and the species 
nests throughout the State, most commonly in the wooded country. 

Habits. This American representative of the European Sparrow 
hawk is often miscalled the Pigeon hawk but is qmte different in appearance, 
as already indicated, from Falco columbarius. It is " blue," 
however, in the adult plimiage, and is not inferior to that little falcon in 
fierceness, often attacking birds which are fully its equal in size, and working 
terrible destruction upon the small birds of the field and forest which are 
unfortunate enough to establish their homes near its chosen haunts. About 
the " killing log " or " butchering block," which is found near the nest of 
the Sharp-shinned hawk, one may see the feathers of thrushes, sparrows, 
wood warblers, flickers and young grouse scattered in profusion, teUing 
their sad tale of the carnage which this little demon has wrought among 
the peaceful denizens of the wood. It is a low-fiying hawk, dashing swiftly 
through the groves and coppice, and seizing its victims as they dash for 
cover or watching for them from the shade of some leafy tree and pouncing 
upon them as they pass by. In this respect this and the two following 
species, our true hawks, differ from those hawks which feed largely upon 
mammals, batrachians and insects, and watch for them from some con- 
spicuous perch. Doctor Fisher's examinations show that the food of this 
species consists almost entirely of birds, and the experience of all New York 
observers as well as my own studies of its habits and of its stomach contents 
point to the same result. Consequently I beUeve this hawk should be 



76 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



destroyed wherever the more desirable song and game birds are to be 
preserved. 

The nest of the Sharp-shinned hawk in New York is almost always 
bviilt in an evergreen tree near the edge of a wooded gully or beside a log- 
ging road in the forest. Hemlock, pine and arbor vitae seem to be its 
preference, and the nest is built close to the trunk of the tree at a height 
varying from lo to 40 feet. Compared with the nests of other hawks it is 

rather large for the size of the 
bird, about equalling that of the 
crow, and is deeply hollowed to 
receive the eggs. It is composed 
of sticks, usually of the pine and 
hemlock, and lined with smaller 
twigs and strips of bark. The 
eggs are usually laid by the loth 
or 25th of May. They are 4 or 5 
in number, oval or short ovate in 
shape, averaging 1.47 by 1.16 
inches in size, and bluish white 
or greenish white in ground color, 
more or less heavily blotched and 
spotted with brown of different 
shades mingled with marblings of 
drab or lavender and clay color. 
These markings are sometimes 
uniformly distributed over the 
surface of the egg, sometimes in a heavy wreath near the larger end, and at 
other times shading down from heaviest at the very tip of the smaller end. 
There is endless variety in the coloration of the eggs of this species, caus- 
ing them to be eagerly sought by egg collectors, and I will confess that 
cabinets filled with eggs of this bloodthirsty little pirate, as well as those 
of the Cooper hawk, Crow, and Cowbird, have shown me that egg-gather- 




Pholo by Gu> A. Bailey 
Sharp-shinned hawk's nest and eggs 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 77 

ing when indulged in by a discriminating youth may become a strong 
element in bird protection. 

Accipiter cooperi (Bonaparte) 
Cooper Ilawk 

Plates 43, 44 and 46 

Falco cooperii Bonaparte. Am. Orn. 1828. 2:1. PI. 10, fig. i 
Astur cooperi DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 18, fig. 10 
Accipiter cooperi A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 156. No. 333 

cooperi, in honor of William Cooper 

Distinctive marks. A medium sized species, larger than the Sharp- 
shinned hawk but of the same general shape and color, the tail more rounded, 
the legs shorter and stouter, and the top of the head darker slate or blackish; 
in high plumage the Cooper hawk is of a clearer and more uniform bluish 
slate on the upper parts. A large young female of this species resembles 
closely a young male Goshawk in size and color, but may be surely dis- 
tinguished by the feathering of the tarsus, which extends only one-third 
of the way down the front of the slender tarsus in the Cooper hawk, but 
one-half of the way on the stouter tarsus of the Goshawk. 

Length cf 15-18 inches, 9 18-20; extent cT 30, 9 36; wing cf 9-10, 
9 lo-ii; tail cf 7-8, 9 8-9; tarsus cf 2.60, 9 2.70; middle toe cf 1.60, 

? I75- 

Distribution. The Cooper hawk breeds throughout the United States 
and southern Canada, and winters from southern New England and 
Illinois southward into Mexico and Costa Rica. In New York it is common 
during the migrations, March 20 to April 20 and September 15 to October 
20, but may be seen at all times of the year except in the northern and 
more elevated portions of the State, where it is only a summer resident. 
In the more thickly settled districts it is much less common than formerly, 
the nesting birds having been killed off on account of their destructiveness 
to poultry and game birds. In the wilder and more wooded portions of 
the State it is one of the commonest breeding species but is not seen as 



78 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

frequently as the Marsh, Red-shouldered and Red-tailed hawks because 
it remains most of the time silently under cover of the forest. 

Habits. This hawk resembles the Sharp-shinned hawk in habits as 
well as in appearance, being fully as fierce and intrepid as that little pirate 
and much more destructive to game birds and poultry on account of its 
greater size and strength. Early in April, before the migration of those 
individuals that are to breed farther northward has ceased, our summer 
residents pair and select some old crow's or hawk's nest or the forks of a 
tree 20 to 50 feet from the ground as the site for their home. The nest 
when entirely constructed by the hawks themselves is of good size, composed 
of sticks and twigs and nearly always lined with the outer bark of trees, such 
as the hemlock, cedar and yellow pine. In New York the eggs are laid 
from April 25 to May 20. They are 3 to 5 in number, are of a pale bluish 
white color, occasionally spotted lightly with brownish, resembling those of 
the Marsh hawk but more broadly ovate, averaging about 1.90 by 1.55 
inches. The period of incubation lasts about 24 days, and the young 
hawks are covered with a whitish down. During the nesting season 
the old birds occasionally utter a loud rattling or cackling noise similar 
to the Sharp-shinned hawk's note but louder and also the repeated tick, 
tick call, besides the loud shrill scream uttered by the setting female when 
disturbed. At other times of the year this bird is mostly silent. 

Astur atricapillus atricapillus (Wilson) 
Goshawk 

Plate 45 

Falco atricapillus Wilson. Am. Om. 1812. 6:80. PI. 52, fig. 3 
Astur atricapillus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. ig, fig. 4 and 5 
Astur atricapillus atricapillus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 

p. 156. No. 334 

astur, Lat., a hawk, perhaps from aster, star, i. e. spotted; atricapillus, Lat., black- 
haired, i. e. the top of the head black 

Description. A large powerful hawk with the general shape of the 
Cooper hawk; but with the tarsus more robust and more extensively 
feathered and scutellate. Upper parts dark bluish slate, the feathers with 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 79 

black shaft-lines; tail with 4 or 5 broad blackish bars and tipped with 
whitish ; wings also barred ; top of head and broad auricular stripe blackish; 
a whitish stripe over the eyes, broadening toward the back of head where 
the bases of the feathers are cottony white as in other true hawks (Accipi- 
trinae) ; under parts white, thickly barred in fine wavy pattern or vermicu- 
lated with slaty brown or dusky except on throat and crissum. All the 
feathers, even on the throat, with blackish shaft-lines; bill dark bluish, 
cere and feet yellow, iris red. Young: Dark brown above, margined 
with rusty, and varied, especially on neck and scapulars, with whitish or 
bufify; wings and tail, barred with blackish and buffy; under parts tawny 
whitish, with oblong, ckib-shaped, or drop-shaped streaks; cere and feet 
duller yellow, iris yellow, bill brownish. 

Length, cf 21-22 inches, 9 22-25; extent cf 41-43. 9 44-47; wing 
cf 12.50-13, 9 13.50-14.50; tail cf 9.50-10.50, 9 11-13; tarsus cf 2.90-3.10, 
92.95-3.17; middle toe cf 2.75, 9 1.90. 

Field marks. Adult hawks of this species can not be mistaken for the 
Cooper hawk which is our only species approaching it in size and resembling 
it in form. They are larger, have no rufous markings below, are more 
blue and gray in general color and have the decided blackish crown and 
ear-stripe as well as the whitish superciliary stripe. The yovmg males 
of this species are only slightly larger than the young females of cooperi 
and resemble them in color but are more conspicuously buffy in the ground 
color of the under parts, and of the tail and scapulars. When the bird 
is in hand the feathering of the tarsus is, of course, distinctive. 

Distribution. The American Goshawk inhabits the boreal region of 
North America, breeding from central Maine and northern New York 
northward through the Hudsonian zone and wintering southward to 
about the 38th parallel. In this State it is chiefly a winter visitor, 
rather irregular in occurrence, but some years is fairly common, as in 
1863, when many were killed on Long Island, and in 1889, 1895-96, 
1898-99, and in 1906. On Long Island they usually appear between the 
1 8th and 25th of December and disappear between the 15th and 27th ot 
March; in western New York my dates range between October 21 and 
November 15 for arrival from the north, Mr Burtch giving one record for 
September 15; and March 11 to 20 to 28 for last seen in the spring. Mr 



80 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

George F. Guelf of Brockport has called to my attention that a considerable 
flight of these hawks often occurs during the third week in March not far 
from the southern shore of Lake Ontario, the birds moving toward the 
eastward and recalling the similar flights of Sharp-shinned, Cooper, 
Marsh and Broad-winged hawks which occur a little later in the season. 
Audubon, during his visit to western New York, found this hawk nesting 
near Niagara Falls, but since that time very few evidences of the Goshawk 
breeding in our State have been recorded. In June 1877, Roosevelt and 
Minot observed it in Franklin county; Merriam in 1881 ranked it as a 
rare resident of the Adirondack region; in June 1905, I observed two of 
these hawks near the Upper Ausable lake in Essex county; and Ralph and 
Bagg have given us a definite breeding record for the Adirondacks, May 9, 
1898. Fortunately, however, this bird is rare as a summer resident, even 
in the wildest portions of the Adirondack forest. 

Habits. This is the most dreaded scourge of our grouse coverts and 
poultry yards. Fierce, daring and more powerful than the Cooper hawk, 
it seizes and carries off full-grown fowls with such ease, and makes its 
attacks so suddenly and unexpectedly that flight by the intended victim 
and resistance by the outraged farmer are alike useless. Both the examina- 
tion of the stomach contents of specimens secured and the testimony of 
hunters and naturalists who have observed this bird and its nesting sites, 
agree in establishing the Goshawk's unenviable character. Grouse, pheas- 
ants, poultry, hares and other larger animals are its usual food. The 
Goshawk's nest is usually placed in a birch, beech or poplar tree and 
resembles that of the Cooper hawk in construction. The eggs are from 
3 to 5 in number, ovate or elliptical-ovate in shape, and white or pale 
bluish white in color, about 2.30 by 1.74 inches, and are laid about the 
jst of May. 



DIRDS OF NEW YORK 8 1 

Buteo borealis borealis (Gmelin) 
Red-tailed Hawk 

Plates 43, 45 and 47 

Falco borealis Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1788. 1:266 
Buteo borealis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 9, fig. 17 
Buteo borealis borealis A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 157. 
No. 337 

biiteo, Lat., a buzzard; boredlis, Lat., northern 

Description. Our typical and commonest buzzard hawk, character- 
ized by heavy build, long and broad wings, wide spreading tail of medium 
length, 4 primaries notched; a large hawk of high, soaring, circling flight 
and conspicuous perches, commonly but improperly called Hen hawk. 
Adult: Upper parts dark brown, more or less variegated with whitish 
and ocherous buff ; tail bright rufous or brick red with a narrow subterminal 
band of blackish and tipped with whitish; under parts white more or less 
tinged with buflfy and variegated with blackish, especially across the fore 
breast and on the flanks and abdominal zone, the throat, middle of breast, 
crissum, and tibiae being mostly unmarked; iris brown, bill horn color, 
legs yellow. Immature: Tail gray with numerous blackish bands; body 
colors similar to adult but lacking fulvous markings above and buffy tinge 
below; the dark markings below heavier forming a dark abdominal zone but 
leaving a large unmarked whitish area on the breast; iris yellow. 

Length cT 19-21 inches, 9 22-24; extent c? 46-50, 9 52-56; wing cf 
13.50-16, 9 15-17.50; tail 8.50-10.50; tarsus 3-3.40; middle toe i. 60-1. 85; 
weight 3-4 pounds. 

Distribution. The Red-tailed hawk inhabits eastern North America 
from the Gulf States to Northern Canada, being partially migratory in 
the northern states and only a summer resident in the boreal region. It 
is quite generally distributed in New York, breeding in all parts of the 
State and wintering sparingly in the warmer counties. During March and 
October large numbers pass through our State on their migrations, the 
movement beginning from February 20 to March 10 and ending from April 
I to 20, migrants often being seen in numbers, near Rochester at least, 
after the summer residents have eggs well advanced in incubation. In 
our State this hawk nests both in swampy woods and on rugged gullies 
and hillsides, but on the whole, in western New York, seems to prefer 



82 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

upland or hilly country, leaving the swamps more exclusively to the Red- 
shouldered hawk. 

Habits. This species is often seen in spring and summer, and again 
in the fine days of autumn, sweeping in wide circles over the hills and 
valleys, sometimes soaring upward until, with its broad wings and tail 
spread, it disappears from sight in the upper air. These evolutions usually 
occur over its native woods and hunting fields, and in spring are quite sure 
to mark the neighborhood of its nesting site, when both sexes take part 
in the performance and wheel about for hours almost out of sight. It 
chooses a conspicuous perch on the dead top of a tree by the edge of the 
forest or isolated in broad fields, to watch for its humble prey, and may 
sit thus for hours apparently asleep, but really continuing a keen scrutiny 
of its surroundings, and when it discovers a mouse, shrew, squirrel or bird 
which offers a favorable chance, it swoops down and, gliding low, snatches 
it up in its heavy talons and bears it away. At other times it may be seen 
coursing back and forth over old fields and pastures searching for meadow 
mice and grasshoppers. This hawk, though called " Hen hawk," rarely 
visits the potdtry yard, not more than one chicken being chargeable to 
this species while ten go to the Cooper hawk and the Goshawk. It 
captures a few cottontails and Ruffed grouse, but the majority of its food 
consists of small mammals. " Of 562 stomachs, 54 contained poultry, 
51 other birds, 409 mice and small mammals and 47 insects." (Fisher) 

The nest of the Red-tail is placed in the fork of a tall tree, a maple, 
birch, beech, elm, basswood, hemlock or pine, 40 to 80 feet from the ground, 
and is occupied year after year as long as the owners are not destroyed. 
If one of the pair is killed, another mate is soon secured and brought back 
to the long established site. If the eggs are taken, a new nest is built not 
far from the old one, but the next spring the original nest is almost sure 
to be occupied again. The birds pair and begin working on the nest early 
in March, almost immediately after their arrival from the south. It is 
a bulky structure composed of sticks and lined with small twigs and strips 
of bark, and usually decorated with green hemlock sprays, fern leaves 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 83 

and other evergreens. The eggs are laid from April i to 25. They are 
from 2 to 4 in number, dull whitish, often tinged with bluish, and usually 
spotted or blotched with reddish or yellowish brown and obscurely marked 
with lavender, about 2.40 by i .90 inches in dimensions. The call of the 
Red-tail, when soaring, is " a long drawn squealing whistle " somewhat 
resembling the syllables kee-aahrr-r-r, and in the nesting woods it utters 
a sharp scream like kerr or chirr. 

Buteo lineatus lineatus (Gmelin) 
Red-shouldered Hawk 

Plate 47 

Falco lineatus Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1788. 1:268 
Buteo hyemalis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 10, fig. 13 
Buteo lineatus lineatus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 158. No. 339 

linedtus, Lat., marked with stripes or bars 

Description. Like the Red-tail or common " Hen hawk " of the 
New York farmer, but slightly smaller and lighter in build. Four outer 
primaries notched. Adult: Lesser wing coverts and under parts rufous, 
the wing coverts marked with fuscous, and the under parts barred with 
whitish or ocherous buff; wings and tail blackish barred with white; the white 
tail bars about 4 or 5, of uniform width and narrower than those of the 
Broad-wing, forming with the rufous under parts good identification marks 
as the bird flies overhead. Upper parts altogether of a more grayish 
appearance than those of the Red-tail, being dark grayish brown, more 
or less striped or edged with whitish and ocherous; throat with black 
shaft streaks; cere and legs yellow; iris brown. Immature: Upper parts 
similar to adult but more dusky; lesser wing coverts distinctly rusty but less 
so than in adult plumage ; bases of primaries and of outer tail feather mostly 
ocherous buff or yellowish red; tail grayish brown barred with blackish; 
under parts white or buffy white streaked and spotted with blackish; iris yellow. 

Length cf 1 7.5-19 inches, 9 19.5-2 1 ; extent cf 40-44, 9 44-50; wing 
12-14; tail 7.5-9.5; tarsus 2.8-3; middle toe 1.60; weight 2-3 pounds. 

Distribution. The Red-shouldered hawk inhabits eastern North 

America from Manitoba and Nova Scotia southward to Oklahoma and 

North Carolina, moving slightly southward in winter as far as the Gulf 

coast. In New York it is a permanent resident in the warmer portions 

of the State and may be found sparingly in winter throughout central 

and western New York. It is common during the spring and fall migrations, 
6 



84 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



especially during March and October, and breeds commonly in all parts 
of the State, except the Adirondack wilderness, where it is largely replaced 
by the Broad-winged hawk. In the more thickly inhabited counties it is 
commoner than the Red-tail. 

Habits. This bird is probably the commonest large hawk in the 
southern, central and western counties of New York, where most of the 
original forests have been cleared away and small patches of woodland 
have been left standing along the streams and in swampy tracts. In such 




Photo by Verdi Burtch 



Red-shouldered hawk*s nest and egpfs 

localities it is often seen in spring, summer and early fall soaring about 
over its chosen haunts after the manner of the so-called "Hen hawks," 
uttering its shrill kee-you, kee-you, kee-you as it soars upward above the 
tree-tops, but becoming silent as it reaches a higher altitude, and mounting 
higher and higher, perhaps accompanied by its mate, almost disappears 
from view in the upper air. It is less powerful than the Red-tail and its 
quarry is of a humbler nature, consisting almost entirely of mice, frogs, 
snakes, insects, spiders and crayfish. This species keeps more under cover 
of the forest than the Red-tail and though it watches for its prey from 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



85 



a lofty perch it is less often observed seated upon dead tree-tops and stubs 
in the open, or on the towering hillside. In the breeding season it is per- 
haps our noisiest hawk, its oft-repeated cry coming many times each day 
from the vicinity of the nesting site. The nest is a bulky structure mostly 
made of sticks and placed in the 
fork of a lofty tree, an ekn, birch, 
maple, black cherry or beech being 
commonly selected, rarely an ever- 
green. The eggs are from 3 to 5 
in number, dingy white or bluish 
white in color, irregularly and usu- 
ally rather heavily spotted and 
blotched with dark brown and yel- 
lowish brown and obscure shell 
markings. The nest is often built 
or repaired as early as the middle 
of March but the eggs are laid from 
April I to May 10 in this State. 
The period of incubation is about 4 
weeks, and the young remain in the 
nest from 4 to 6 weeks. Like other 
hawks this species is much attached 
to its home, and the same nest or 
at least the same locality is occupied 
as long as either of the pair survives. = ,. , o • ,= . = 

^ ^ Swainson hawk. Butco swainsoni (Bonaparte). Prom 

specimen in Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. { nat. size 

Buteo swainsoni Bonaparte 

Swainson Hawk 

Buteo swainsoni Bonaparte. Geol. & Comp. List. 1838. 3 

A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. igio. p. 159. No. 342 

Distinctive marks. Only j outer quills emarginate; tail grayish brown, 

often tinged with hoary, with about 9 or 10 narrow dusky bands; variable 




86 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

in color of body; iris brown; cere and feet yellow. Adult male: Above 
grayish brown; chest plain rufous; forehead, chin and throat white; rest of 
tinder parts buflfy or whitish, usually more or less barred and spotted with 
brown. Female: Similar, but chest grayish brown. Dark phase: Whole 
plumage sooty brown, but specimens show all degrees of melanism from 
the normal phase to a uniform sooty color. Young: Above blackish 
brown, varied with buffy; head, neck and under parts buff or buffy white, 
more or less marked with blackish. 

Length cT 19-20, 9 21-22; extent cf 48-51, 9 51-57; wing cf 14.50- 
16, 9 15-17.50; tail 8-10; tarsus 2.30-2.90; middle toe 1.40-1.65; weight 
1.6-3.5 pounds. 

This species inhabits western America from Alaska to Chili, and 
occasionally wanders eastward as far as New England. There are at 
least three records from Massachusetts and two from Maine. It is an 
accidental visitant in our State, records of only three undoubted New 
York specimens being before me: 

Onondaga co., N. Y., Oct. 1877. Brewster. Auk, 10: 83 

Brockport, N. Y., Oct. i, 1889. Short. Birds of Western N. Y. p. 10 

Cornwall, N. Y., Oct. 14, 1892. Dutcher. Auk, 10: 83-84 

Buteo platypterus (Vieillot) 
Broad-winged Hawk 

Plate 48 

■Sparvius platypterus Vieillot. Tableaux Encycl. Meth. 1823. 3:1273 
Buteo pennsylvanicus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 11, fig. 11 
Buteo platypterus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 159. No. 343 
platypterus, Gr., .signifying broad-winged 

Description. Our smallest buteo; tail with 2 or more rather broad bands 
•of white; only j wing quills emarginate; upper parts dark grayish brown or 
slaty gray, more or less edged or marbled with grayish and buffy; under 
parts brownish or reddish brown, more or less spotted and barred with 
white, especially posteriorly, the chest being nearly solid ocherous brown; 
rather distinct dusky mustachios; cere and legs yellow; iris brown. Young: 
Upper parts dusky, more or less edged with bufif and rusty; under parts 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 87 

buffy white, rather heavily spotted and streaked with blackish; tail grayish 
brown with 4-8 narrow blackish bands. 

Length cf 1 3.5-1 6, 9 1 6.5-1 7.5; extent 33-38; wing 10-12; tail 
6.5-7.3; tarsus 2.2-2.8. 

Distribution. The Broad-winged hawk is a fairly common summer 
resident of the wooded districts of New York. In the Adirondacks it is 
probably the commonest hawk. On Long Island and in eastern New York 
generally, it is a svunmer resident of irregular distribution, but in western 
and central New York it is almost unknown as a breeding species. Although 
it breeds from the Gulf States northward to Alberta, Quebec and New 
Brunswick, it is much more local in distribution than the Red-tailed and 
Red-shouldered hawks, inhabiting more exclusively the wooded country, 
either by preference or because its unsuspicious nature has brought about 
its extirpation in the more cultivated districts. In all parts of New York, 
however, it is a rather common migrant, at least in the coastal district, 
the Hudson valley, and in the country immediately south of Lake Ontario, 
where large flights often occur late in April and early in October, the 
migrations being accomplished between April 15 and May 25, and between 
August 10 and October 20. In southeastern New York the Broad-wing 
often remains throughout the winter as it does in the Ohio and Delaware 
valleys, but in western New York I have never seen a winter specimen. 

This species soars about in the air less than our other buteos and 
I have never heard it utter such loud and screaming notes. Fisher aptly 
compares its common note to that of the Wood pewee. It sometimes 
sits for hours on some high and conspicuous perch, but is more often found 
in the midst of the forest or silently seated in a low tree beside a stream 
or swamp, watching for snakes, mice, frogs or insects which constitute 
the principal part of its food. It shows little fear of man and when 
approached too closely will usually fly for only a short distance before 
alighting unconcernedly and continuing its scrutiny of the ground where 
its humble prey resides. 

The Broad-wing places its nest in trees, from 25 to 60 feet from the 
ground. It is about the size of a crow's nest and composed of sticks, bark 



88 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

and leaves. The eggs are 3 to 4 in number, dull buflfy white in ground 
color, spotted and blotched with yellowish brown and cinnamon brown, 
about 2.12 by 1.6 inches in dimensions. Eight sets of eggs in the Smith- 
sonian collection from Hamilton and Herkimer counties, N. Y., were all 
taken between May 19 and June 15, May 25 being the usual date for 
northern New York. Chapman gives April 18 as the date for eggs near 
New York City. 

Archibuteo lagopus sancti-johannis (Gmelin) 
Rough-legged Hawk 

Plates 43 and 48 

Falco s. johannis Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1788. 1:273 
Buteo sancti-joannis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 7, fig. 3 
Archibuteo lagopus sancti-johannis A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 
1910. p. 161. No. 347a 
Archibuteo, chief buzzard; lagdpus, Gr., hare-footed; sancti-jokdnnis, of St John 

Description. Legs feathered to the toes; base of tail white; body color 
varies from brownish gray above and white or buffy white below streaked 
with dusky, forming a more or less complete broad abdominal band, to 
a nearly uniform black; cere and toes yellow; iris brown. Light phase: 
Upper parts fuscous or grayish brown, margined with whitish and buffy; 
under parts varying from white to ocherous buff, spotted and streaked 
with blackish, forming a dark band in the abdominal region; inner webs 
of primaries and under surfaces of wing feathers white toward their bases; 
the tips of the wings black; under wing coverts in the carpal region form 
a conspicuous black patch; wing and tail feathers barred with gray and 
whitish. The bird gives the appearance of white and black in large patches, 
when flying. Dark phase: Varies from slightly darker than the normal 
to a uniform sooty black, except the base of tail, a portion of the bases 
of the wing feathers, slight marblings or bars on tail and wings, and a small 
frontlet of whitish. These white markings, however, do not show except 
when the bird is closely examined or, partly, when flying. 

Length 21-23; extent 52-56; wing 15-17; tail 9-10. 

Distribution. The Rough-legged hawk inhabits the northern portion 
of the boreal zone from Newfoundland and central British Columbia to 
the limit of trees, and wanders southward in winter over most of the United 
States. In New York it is a winter visitor of irregular occurrence, rather 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 89 

rare in the eastern and southern highland regions, but common, some 
winters, in the larger river valleys, the Lake Ontario lowlands, and the 
central lake region, and sometimes on eastern Long Island. At intervals 
of a few years there appear large flights of these hawks in western New 
York, especially in the Genesee valley and the extensive farm lands which 
lie south of Lake Ontario. This was the case in the winter of 1905-6, 
when Roughlegs were fairly abundant about Canandaigua, Geneseo, Cayuga, 
and many other localities. The birds begin to arrive from the north late 
in October, or some years not till the middle of November, and depart 
for their breeding grounds between March 25 and April 12, except for 
disabled or delayed stragglers which have been seen as late as May 30. 
This species prefers an open country of wide marshes, river bottoms, 
or rolling plains, with scattered trees from which to watch for its humble 
prey. When trees are too few it is often seen coursing back and forth 
over the fields somewhat after the manner of the Marsh hawk, but with 
heavier flight and, whenever he discovers a luckless mouse, pounces silently 
upon it. Its flight seems low and labored, even when compared to the 
Red-tail, although its wings are longer and more pointed. Its habit of 
hunting largely in the twilight is correlated with its choice of diet, which 
consists almost exclusively of meadow mice. I have frequently found the 
remains of 7 to 9 mice in the stomach of one Rough-legged hawk, and 
never found a beneficial animal on its bill of fare. It therefore must be 
regarded as the most beneficial of all our Raptores, and the farmer should 
distinguish it carefully from such injurious species as the Goshawk, and 
protect it as one of his most valued allies. As recently as twenty years 
after the publication of Fisher's " Hawks and Owls," one of the most 
intelligent and extensive landholders in New York State was paying a 
hunter to rid his fields of dozens of this valuable mouser under the mis- 
apprehension that it was destroying his game birds. Thus there is need 
of spreading further the knowledge of our birds. 



90 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Aquila chrysaetos (Linnaeus) 
Golden Eagle 

Plate 49 

Falco chrysaetos Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. 1 758. Ed. 10. i : 88 
Aquila chrysaetos DcKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 4, fig. 14 

A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 162. No. 349 
dquila, Lat., eagle; chrysdetos, Gr., 'asTo?, eagle; xpua^s, golden 

Description. Legs feathered to toes, tarsus whitish; basal two-thirds of 
tail white; back 0/ head a nd neck ocherous buff or ' ' golden brown ' ' ; general 
plumage dark brown with purplish gloss; the flight feathers and tip of 
tail darker, the latter forming a conspicuous terminal zone of black; cere 
and feet yellow; iris brown. Immature birds are darker and have the base 
of tail only slightly marked with grayish, and the tarsi and under tail 
coverts buffy. This species is little larger than the Bald eagle and at 
a distance can hardly be distinguished from immature birds of that species. 

Length cf 30-34 inches, 9 35-41; extent cf 78-84, 9 84-92; wing cf 
23-25, 9 25-27.5; tail 14-16; tarsus 3.6-4.3; weight 10 or 12 pounds. 

Distribution. This noble eagle inhabits the entire holarctic realm but 
is mostly confined to mountainous districts. It is rather rare in the eastern 
United States, and was never common in New York. In early colonial 
days it undoubtedly nested in the Highlands, Catskills and Adirondacks, 
but at the present time there seems to be no evidence of its nesting within 
our borders, although in 1877 Doctor Meams thought it possible that it 
still bred in some secluded portion of the Highlands, and in 1900 Mr F. G. 
Pember of Granville, N. Y., thought it might breed on Pond mountain, 
Vermont, four miles east of Granville, where two young were taken from 
a nest several years before. Doctor Ralph is also authority for the state- 
ment that its eggs have been taken in the Adirondacks. This species 
must now be classed as an accidental, or a rare transient visitant. Within 
the last 60 years specimens have been reported from Schenectady, Putnam, 
Fulton, Chemung, Steuben, Orange, Westchester, Suffolk, Rensselaer, 
Herkimer, Columbia, Washington, Madison and Monroe counties. The 
latest record before me is October 25, 1900, when a golden eagle was 
captured alive in the city of Rochester, and placed in the local zoo (see 
Eaton, Birds of Western N. Y. p. 35). 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 9I 

Haliaeetus leucocephalus leucocephalus (Linnaeus) 
Bald Eagle 

Plato 43 and 49 

Falco leucocephalus Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. 1766. Ed. 12. 1:124 
Haliaetos leucocephalus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 5. fig. i 
Haliaeetus leucocephalus leucocephalus A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 
1910. p. 162. No. 352 

halidetus, sea eagle; leucociphalus, white-headed 

Description. Adult: Head, neck and tail white; rest of plumage 
brownish black; bill and legs yellow; iris yellow. Immature: Nearly 
uniform brownish black, more or less varied with white spots, mostly on 
the under parts and tail; bill blackish; legs yellow; iris brown; during the 
second and third years they show more white on the under parts and tail, 
but are still of a prevailing blackish color. 

Length cf 31-34 inches, 9 35-37; extent cf 80-85, 9 85-90; wing c? 
21-23, 9 23-25; tail 11-13; bill 2.3-2.9; weight 8-12 pounds. 

Distribution. The Bald eagle, or its larger northern subspecies, 
inhabits nearly the whole of North America north of Mexico, but prefers 
the sea coast and regions of lakes and rivers. In New York it is still no 
unusual sight to see eagles along the shores of Long Island, in the Hudson 
valley, in the Adirondacks, along the Great Lakes, and in the central lake 
country. They are commonest in spring and summer, but may be seen 
at any time of year, mature birds, evidently not breeders, frequenting 
such localities as Conesus lake, Canandaigua lake and Niagara river through- 
out the spring and summer months. At latest accounts Bald eagles were 
nesting near Sodus bay in Wayne county, Constantia in Oswego coimty, 
Whelby pond in Dutchess county, and Indian lake and Taylor pond in the 
Adirondacks. It formerly nested in many places along the shores of Long 
Island, along the Hudson, the Great Lakes, the central lakes, the Adiron- 
dack lakes and Lake Champlain, but constant persecution or the destruc- 
tion of the nesting site has caused the abandonment of the majority of 
these localities, and " the eagle tree," or the place where it stood, is 
gradually passing from the memory of the nearest inhabitants. 



92 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



Habits. The Bald eagle frequents the shores of lakes and rivers and 
chooses a sightly perch from which to scan the surface of the water for 
the dead fish which constitute its principal food in svimmer time. It is 
frequently seen also high in air soaring about in search of some dead sheep 
or other offal, which it seems to prefer next after fish, and I have seen it 
on several occasions set its wings when at a great height and descend to 
an ignoble repast of dead calf or other vulturine provender. Its power 
of sight is justly famous, but it is scarcely probable that it surpasses that 
of other raptores. Once I watched an eagle that was soaring at a great 
altitude above me when all at once he caught sight of a dead fish floating 
on the surface of the lake and, making a direct line for the fish, snatched 
it from the water and bore it off to shore. The fish I found by subsequent 
computation was three miles from the spot over which the eagle was soaring 
and I could not see the fish in the eagle's talons at the time it was picked 
from the water although I was using a pair of six power field glasses. It is 
possible, however, that even a man could have seen the fish from the eagle's 
station in the air as a white spot on the water. When the eagle does not 
find sufficient supply of dead fish it will rob the Fishhawk of its booty, 
as is well known by all naturalists, and will even take live fish from the 
water, but can not be compared with the Osprey as a fisherman, and probably 
does not even equal the Red-shouldered hawk or Barred owl in this accom- 
plishment. In the winter this eagle often attacks water fowl successfully, 
but can not easily capture the diving species when they are on the water. 
I have seen an eagle make repeated attacks upon a Canvasback duck 
which dove at every swoop of the eagle and finally escaped. Some have 
objected that the habits of this eagle scarcely entitle it to be chosen as the 
emblem of our native land, but its appearance, when soaring in the clouds 
or perched on the tip of a lofty pine tree, is truly majestic. The scream of 
the eagle resembles somewhat the voice of the seagull ; others have likened 
it to the bark of a fox or of a small dog, and Doctor Ralph called attention 
to the difference in the notes of the sexes, the male's cry being a high 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



93 



clear cac-cac-cac, and the female's more harsh and broken, a note which, 
when heard nearby, Doctor Fisher compares to a loud maniacal laugh. 

The Bald eagle lays her eggs very early in the season, in February 
or early March, being the largest resident and earliest breeder of our diurnal 
birds of prey, as the Great homed owl is of our nocturnal Raptores. The 
eagle's nest is usually built in a lofty tree, near the top, and the tree dies 
after a few years leaving the huge nest of sticks a conspicious object easily 
seen for a long distance by all who pass by. If undisturbed a pair will 
occupy the same nest for many years but, although the eagles are quite 




Bald eagle's nest with young 



Photo by Guy A. Baitey 



harmless neighbors and a distinct addition to the picturesqueness of the 
landscape, and legally protected by the statutes of our State, few eagle 
eyries have survived the vandalism of thoughtless tourists and fishermen, 
or of countrymen who shoot the birds for the local taxidermist or trap 
them for the nearest zoo, or of summer visitors from the city who conceive 
it a great achievement to lie in wait with a rifle and slaughter the parents 
or climb to the nest and carry off the young, or of oologists who take 
the eggs repeatedly. The eggs are 2 or 3 in number, dull white in color, 



94 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

and measure about 2.85 by 2.2 inches. The period of incubation is 4 
weeks or more, and the young do not leave the nest till July or the first 
of August. When hatched they are covered with whitish down, but 
before they are able to fly have acquired the brownish black plumage 
as described above. 

Haliaeetus leucocephalus alascanus C. H. Leonard 

Northern Bald Eagle 

Eagles of the species leucocephalus inhabiting the boreal zone of North 
America are larger than southern birds and equal or surpass the largest dimensions 
given (wing 25, tail 13, tarsus 4, depth of bill 1.5). Many specimens from this State 
exhibit these dimensions, and are to be assigned to the northern race. In deciding this 
question, however, it is well for the amateur to remember that immature eagles have 
longer wings and tails than old ones. 

Family KA.LCONIDA.E5 

The Falcons 

Characters. Beak sharply hooked, toothed and notched, the lower 
mandible truncate and notched near the tip; nostrils circular, high up 
in the cere, with a central tubercle; bony eye shield projecting, of a single 
piece; septum of the nose much ossified; palatal bone with a median keel 
anteriorly; scapular process of the coracoid united to the clavicle; tarsus 
shorter than tibia, more or less feathered above, its scales reticulate ; middle 
toe long; talons strong and curved; wings long, strong and pointed; tail 
stiff and rather short; legs stout; general build strong and muscular; the 
plumage aftershafted ; basipterygoid process wanting; eyes brown in color; 
flight swift and strong, the prey usually pursued and captured in the air; 
courage great for the size of the birds. 

In this family the raptorial nature reaches its highest differentiation. 
The muscular build, the length and strength of the wings, the curious 
sculpturing of the sharp cutting edges of the beak, the powerful legs and 
long, strong, curved talons fit the falcons admirably for their career of 
rapine. They choose prey which is oftentimes larger and heavier than 
themselves. Few birds can escape their powerful, sweeping flight. They 
strike down and slaughter without trouble the swiftest flying ducks, grouse 
and pigeons, and, with the exception of the smaller members of the family 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 95 

such as the Kestrel and American sparrow hawk, are usually to be classed 
as injurious species because of their destructiveness in the feathered king- 
dom, though they often evade the condemnation of mankind because of 
the general admiration of their dashing bravery and preeminent fitness 
for their avocation. In the Orient, members of this family are still 
employed in the practice of falconry, but in western Europe this occupa- 
tion has fallen into disuse in recent times. 

Falco islandus Bninnich 
Whits Gryfalcon 

Plate S3 

Distinctive marks. White, the head and under parts almost without marks, only 
slightly streaked on the top and sides of head and on flanks and flags; the back, wings and 
tail marked with dusky broken bars and arrowheads. Young birds are somewhat more 
heavily marked than the old ones, and the markings are more lengthwise of the feathers 
than in bars, but still the predominant impression is of a white bird, especially the head, 
neck and under parts. Size the same as Gyrfalcon. 

This Arctic species has been taken in Maine and Ontario. Mr Frederic S. Webster 
reports one killed near Troy, N. Y., in the winter of 1874, but the specimen has not been 
traced. Arthur H. Helme writes that he saw a bird near Miller's Place, L. I., which he 
feels sure belonged to this species, but as he was unable to secure the specimen, can not 
prove its occurrence beyond a doubt. Mr Helme's experience as a field naturalist and 
familiarity with all our native birds, and Mr Webster's work as a bird student and taxi- 
dermist give credence to these reports, but we still lack a New York specimen of this 
Gyrfalcon. 

Falco rusticolus rusticolus (Linnaeus) 

Gray Gyrfalcon 

This bird differs from the White gyrfalcon only in coloring. The upper pcirts 
barred, arrow-pointed and spotted transversely with grayish fuscous, whitish prevailing 
on the head and neck, dark prevailing on the back and wings, under parts white, decidedly 
lighter than upper parts, streaked and spotted with dark on the sides, flanks and under tail- 
coverts. 

Like the preceding this Arctic species has been taken in Wisconsin, Ontario and Maine, 
and must visit the northern portions of New York at rare intervals, but no specimens 
from the State as yet have been discovered. 



96 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Falco rusticolus gyrfalco (Linnaeus; 
Gyrfalcon 

Plate so 

Falco gyrfalco Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. lo. 1758. 1:91 

Falco rusticolus gyrfalco A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 164. 

No. 354a 

j6lco, Lat., a falcon, from falx, a sickle from the shape of the bill; rusticolus, Lat., 
inhabiting the countrj'; gyrfalco, probably=hierofalco, divine or noble falcon 

Description. Upper parts brownish gray or fuscous, slightly marked 
w-ith buffy white, the whitish markings in the form of streaks, and edgings 
on the neck and head, but narrow bars on the tail coverts and tail, and 
the back only slightly marked. Under parts heavily streaked with fuscous 
and dull white. Heavy blackish " mustaches." Bill bluish horn color, 
nearly black at tip; legs bluish gray, claws black; iris brown. As in all 
species of gyrfalcons, the immature birds have a tendency to bufify white 
in the light markings of the upper parts, and these markings are rather 
in streakings than in bars. 

Length 23-24 inches, extent 50-55; wing 13.50-16; tail 8.5-10; tarsus 
2.4, feathered one-half way down on front and sides; middle toe 2.2; 
weight 51/4 pounds. 

This Gyrfalcon breeds in the Arctic regions from Ellesmere Land east- 
ward to Franz-Josef Land, and wanders southward in winter to Minnesota, 
New York and Rhode Island. The New York records are as follows : 

Long Island, winter of 1856, 9 immature, mounted by John Akhurst, 
now in collection Long Island Historical Society, Brooklyn, N. Y. Law- 
rence, Ann. Lye. Nat. Hist. N. Y., 8280. Dutcher, Auk, 10: 274; Chapman, 
Birds of N. Y., etc., p. 41, no. i7i;andBraislin, Birds of L. I., p. 69, no. 182, 
reported asFalco islandus. 

Pond Quogue, L. I., 1877, cf adult, shot by William Lane, mounted 
by Knoess of Riverhead, N. Y., secured from John Wallace by Robert 
Lawrence and presented to the Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. Robert Lawrence, 
N. O. C. BuL, 5:117, reported as Falco sacer. 

Rome, N. Y., winter of 1895, 2 killed, H. L. Bowers. 

Auburn, N. Y., March 29, 1902, 9 immature, shot by Edwin Redman, 
mounted by L. O. A.shbury. Specimen now in State Museum. 

Canandaigua, N. Y., Dec. 25, 1905, 9 immature, shot by Duel, 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 97 

obtained by Ernest Watts for the author's collection, original of the 
painting by Fuertes, plate 50. 

The Gyrfalcon is the largest, swiftest and most powerful of our falcons 
though, according to Saunders, inferior to the Peregrine in dash and spirit. 
It preys upon waterfowl, ptarmigan, grouse and hares. The Canandaigua 
specimen mentioned above was feasting on a large Plymouth rock hen 
when shot, and its gullet and stomach were filled with the breast meat 
of the fowl, with scarcely a trace of bone and feathers. These birds are 
very destructive to grouse, pheasants and rabbits but as they are so 
uncommon in New York, they can not become a great menace to game 
coverts except in rare instances. 

Falco rusticolus obsoletus Gmelin 
Black Gyrfalcon 

Plate so 

Falco obsoletus Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1 788. I. i : 268 

Falco rusticolus obsoletus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 164. 
No. 3S4b 

obsoletus, Lat., dusky 

Distinguishing marks. Uniformly dusky or slaty fuscous, without 
bars above except obscure broken bars on the tail and with few and incon- 
spicuous streaks below. Size the same as the common Gyrfalcon. 

This dark phase of the Gyrfalcon breeds in northern Ungava and 
Labrador, and spreads southward in winter as far as Ontario, New York 
and Rhode Island. Four New York specimens are known, the first from 
Flushing, L. I., fall of 1875, mounted by J. Wallace and now in the collection 
of George A. Boardman. See Berier N. O. C. Bui. 6: 126 and 247. Through 
a misunderstanding this bird was reported as from Westchester county. 
See Rod and Gun, 7: 153. Westchester co., winter of 1879, Sage, Bishop 
& Bliss, Birds of Conn. State Geol. & Nat. Hist. Surv. bul. 20, p. 83, 1913. 
The third specimen from this State was killed near Lake Ontario in 
Monroe county, October 1890, mounted at Ward's Natural Science 
Establishment, and now in the State Museum at Albany. See Marshall, 



98 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Auk, 9:203. This specimen is a female, and measured "Length 22.5 
inches; tail 9.50; wing 15.50, spread 51; cere and feet gray, not so bright 
a gray as in the Osprey." Another specimen is reported from Bellport, 
L. I., winter of 1899, by Mr W. A. Babson. 

Faico peregrinus anatum Bonaparte 
Duck Hawk 

Plates 43 and 5 1 

Falco anatum Bonaparte. Geog. and Comp. List. 1838. 4 

DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 13, fig. 8 
Falco peregrinus anatum A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 164. 
No. 3s6a 

peregrinus, Lat., wandering; dnatum, Lat., of ducks 

Description. A large powerful falcon. Adult: cf and 9 bluish slate 
above becoming black on crown and sides of head ; the back and wing-coverts 
indistinctly barred or spotted with dusky; tail with several blackish bars; 
under parts buffy or dull whitish, the chest sparingly streaked, and the 
remainder, including the under surfaces of wings and tail, uniformly barred 
with blackish; throat white or buffy white, bordered by conspicuous black 
mustachios ; cere, eyelids and feet yellow; bill bluish; claws black; iris dark 
brown. Young: Brownish or dusky above, under parts more buffy or 
ocherous, quite heavily streaked with blackish. 

Length cf about 17 inches; 9 19; extent 40-46; wing cf 11. 5- 13, 
9 13-15; tarsus i. 7-2.1. 

Distribution. This noble falcon is found throughout the United 
States and breeds from North Carolina and Mexico north to the Arctic 
coasts. It prefers the mountainous districts, occurring in New York along 
the Palisades, the Highlands, and the Adirondacks. Undoubtedly it is 
much more generally distributed than is commonly known, its seclusive 
habits and custom of traveling long distances on its foraging excursions 
often concealing the location of its home, or even the fact of its residence, 
from people who live in the immediate vicinity. Several pairs are known 
to nest in the Palisades and Highlands. I have found its eyrie on a 
spur of Mt Colvin overlooking the Lower Ausable lake where the guides 
of the Adirondack Mountain Reserve have known of its nesting for many 
years; also in a deep gorge near the Massachusetts line in Columbia county; 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



99 



and at Taughannock Falls near the shore of Cayuga lake, June 25, 1909. 
This nest, discovered by Miss Gertrude Yeames and identified by the 
author, Mr Fuertes tells me, was occupied again in 1910, and undoubtedly 
has been used for many years. It has been photographed and described by 
Allen, Knight and Bailey. See Bird Lore, Jan. 191 3. This hawk possibly 
breeds in the Montezuma swamps in the cavities of basswoods or syca- 
mores as it does in the Mississippi valley, for the birds are occasionally 
seen there in the nesting season. Nests of the Duck hawk with eggs have 
been reported from the Palisades, March 30 (Chapman) ; from the Helder- 
berg mountains 30 miles from Albany, April 11, 1884 (Lintner, Auk, i : 391) ; 
from Morehouse, Hamilton county. May 16, 1896 (Bagg, Auk, 14:226) 
and from Pond mountain, Vermont, 4 miles from Granville, N. Y., by 
F. T. Pember. As a transient this falcon is recorded regularly along the 
Long Island coast, September 17 to October 25 (Dutcher), along the Great 
Lakes, April and October; and the Montezuma marshes, March 10 to 
April 20, and August 20 to October 30 (Foster Parker). Mr Batty reported 
it as a " common fall and winter resident " along the shores of Long Island 
(Forest & Stream, 4:374). From the interior of the State this hawk 
has also been mentioned from Seneca lake and Grand island by Ottomar 
Reinecke; from Lowville by James H. Miller; from Harmony, Chautauqua 
county, by A. E. Kibbe; from Ithaca, 1899, by Fuertes; from Yates county 
by James Flahive; from Orleans county by Bruce and Langille; from West 
River, Canandaigua lake, June 3, 1906, by Maurice Blake; and from Canan- 
daigua, March 15, 1903, a fine male captured by Addison P. Wilbur. But 
these reports do not represent its actual occurrence, as it is so rarely taken 
or recognized; it surely occurs regularly, though sparingly, in all parts of 
the State, but is most often fovmd along the coast, lakes and marshes, where 
waterfowl and shore birds are common. 

Habits. The Duck hawk differs from the Peregrine falcon of the 
Eastern Hemisphere only in having the throat and upper chest unmarked ; 
its power, swiftness and intrepidity are the same. The Noble falcon, 

as it is often called, attacks any kind of game from the size of a wild duck 
7 



lOO NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

to a sparrow, but usually chooses birds of medium size, such as pigeons, 
flickers, plover and small ducks. It pursues its chosen quarry with astonish- 
ing rapidity, the wing strokes resembling more the flight of a pigeon than 
that of our common hawks. It rarely soars except for an instant in making 
a turn, or after it has struck its prey in mid-air, or has made an unsuccess- 
ful attack and wheels to reconnoitre. I once saw a Duck hawk come like 
a descending rocket and snatch a gold finch in the air so suddenly that 
the poor finch apparently was not aware of its enemy or, if so, had no time 
to change its course to an appreciable degree. Mr Parker has described 
the actions of a falcon which came to the Montezuma marshes with the 
migrating shore birds in Augttst 1908, as particularly cruel and destructive. 
It would pursue the flocks of sandpipers and plover, striking one after 
another into the mud or water, but seldom pausing to devour or carry off 
its plunder. Whenever the falcon appears over the marshes all the ducks 
within sight exhibit the greatest distress, but when an eagle, Red-tail or 
Marsh hawk comes over they are not at all concerned. It is not an unusual 
experience for this daring pirate to carry off a hunter's decoy or a wounded 
duck so rapidly and unexpectedly that the gun is powerless against him. 

The nest of this falcon is almost always placed on a ledge or opening 
in the rocks of some precipitous cliff, and in this State the eggs are laid from 
March 30 to April 20. These are 3 or 4 in number, about 2.1 by 1.7 inches 
in dimensions, of a color ranging from light buff to reddish brown and 
heavily marked with cinnamon and dark reddish brown. The young 
nestlings are covered with white down, but soon the brown feathers of the 
Juvenal plumage appear on the wings, tail and scapulars, at the age of 
about four weeks entirely displacing or concealing the nestling down. 
Both sexes of the eyas or young falcon, unlike the subgenus Cerchneis, are 
similar in coloration, dark brown above and heavily streaked below, and 
do not show the ashy or slaty color of the adults nor the barring of 
the under parts till after the first complete moult. As the nestling 
falcon approaches the age for leaving the eyry, its restless disposition 
asserts itself, and it screams and hops and tries its wings about its native 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK lOI 

ledge, each day with greater freedom. Sometimes they fall from the nesting- 
shelf and perish on the rocks below, as was the case with a tiercel in my 
collection, from the Lower Ausable lake. The unhappy fall of this bird 
was witnessed by Messrs Achilles, Taylor and Fuller, who were helping 
me in the Adirondack bird survey. They had watched the eyry for 24 
hours from a concealed station to observe the visits of the parent falcons. 
Food was brought only once in this time, and the young birds became 
unusually restless. Finally the male fell over the mountain side and was 
killed on the talus slope. I believe that the old birds in this case were 
trying to lure the young from the nest by bringing insufficient food to the 
ledge. As the young begin to fly the parent birds fly by with prey in their 
talons, and the young rise to snatch it from them in mid-air as they pass. 
Thus the weaklings are sometimes left to perish, or in their struggles to 
obtain the prize meet their destruction. The falcon's eyry must needs be 
a strenuous school to train the fiercest of all our raptores for his murderous 
career. 

Falco columbarius colxxmbarius Linnaeus 
Pigeon Hawk 

Plate 52 

Falco columbarius Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1 758. i : 90 

DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 15, fig. 9 
Falco columbarius columbarius A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 
p. 165. No. 357 

columba'rius, Lat., pertaining to pigeons 

Description. A small but robust, stocky falcon. Tarsus about as 
long as middle toe. Male: Bluish gray above, the shafts black; the tail 
crossed by about 4 blackish bands; the wings dusky, bar-spotted with 
whitish. Under parts and neck buify white to ocherous, streaked with 
llackish. Bill bluish; cere and legs yellow; iris dark brown. Female and 
young: Dusky brown, the tail with about 5 whitish bands; under parts 
similar to male's but more heavily streaked. 

Length. Male lo-ii inches; wing 7.40-7.85; tail 4.65-5.25; tarsus 
1. 30-1. 40; middle toe without claw 1.10-1.25. Female 12.50-13.50; wing 
8.30-8.60. 

This hawk may be recognized at a distance, first by having the 



I02 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

general build and flight of a falcon (see family Falconidae and remarks 
upon the identification of hawks), second, from the Sparrow hawk bv its 
heavier build and bluish or dusky back, and from the Duck hawk by its 
inferior size. 

Distribution. The Pigeon hawk, Bullet hawk, or Little blue corporal 
is a fairly common migrant through New York State, arriving in spring from 
the 1st to the 15th of April and passing northward from the 14th to the 
29th of May. Occasionally it remains through the winter, as reported from 
Long Island and other parts of southern New York. I saw a falcon of 
this species chasing the pigeons from a belfry in Canandaigua in January 
1906. The fall migration takes place principally between September 4 
to 15 and October 15 to November 5, but fall records as early as August 
10 are not rare. This species undoubtedly breeds within the boundaries 
of the State, but the evidence is inconclusive. Mr B. S. Bowdish saw a 
female and her eggs which were taken in 1891 at Phelps, and Mr Short 
(Birds of Western N. Y., p. 11) reports it as breeding at Naples, on the 
authority of L. V. Case. Mr Bowdish has told me that he can not remember 
positively the description of the Phelps bird and her eggs, but thought 
surely at the time that she was a Pigeon hawk. Mr Gustavus S. Hardy 
also reports this hawk as breeding at Middleville, N. Y. But still it seems 
strange that no eggs from New York have found their way into collections. 
Mr F. T. Pember reports a young bird of this species which was scarcely 
able to fly, from Indian lake ; and the author saw a Pigeon hawk on Skylight 
mountain in the Adirondacks in July 1905. It will thus be seen that this 
species belongs principally in the catalog of transients, although its retir- 
ing habits during the nesting season may explain in part the scarcity of 
observations upon it as a summer resident in the Canadian zone of New 
York. 

The flight of the Pigeon hawk is swift and powerful. It preys almost 
entirely upon birds and fearlessly attacks flickers, doves and quails, seeming 
to prefer a quarry of nearly its own size. Hence it is not to be regretted 
that this intrepid little falcon is not common in the State. It inhabits 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK IO3 

the whole of North America, breeding chiefly north of the United States 
as far as Alaska and Ungava. 

Falco sparverius sparverius Linnaeus 
Sparrow Hawk 

Plate 52 

Falco sparverius Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 90 

DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 16, fig. 16 
Falco sparverius sparverius A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 166. 
No. 360 

sparve'rius, quasi-Latin, pertaining to sparrow 

Description. Our smallest hawk. Sexes unlike from the nest to 
maturity. Tail rather long and rounded. Tarsi much longer than the 
middle toe. Top of head bluish slate to dusky slate, usually with a rusty 
patch. Side of head whitish with three black vertical stripes. Back rufous 
or rusty barred with blackish, uniformly in the female, but sometimes the 
bars almost lacking in the male. Male: Wings largely bluish slale, the 
primaries blackish, bar-spotted on the inner webs with whitish. Outer 
tail feathers barred with black and whitish, middle feathers rufous, and all 
with a broad subterminal band of black and a whitish tip. Under parts 
buffy white to ocherous, marked more or less, especially on the sides and 
flanks, with roundish back spots. Female: Wings and tail rufous, barred 
with black like the back; under parts dingy white, streaked with brown. 
Bill bluish; cere and legs yellow; iris brown. 

Length 10-11.5 inches; extent 22-24.5; wing 7-7.5; tail 4.75-5; weight 
4 ounces. 

This hawk can scarcely be mistaken for any other native species. Its 
falconine shape and colors distinguish it easily from the Sharp-shinned 
hawk and its smaller size, lighter proportions, longer tail, and colors are. 
quite unlike the Pigeon hawk. 

Distribution. As a summer resident it is found in every part of New 
York State. Though less numerous during migrations than several othei 
species, and in the wooded districts not so common a summer resident as 
the Red-tailed, Cooper and Sharp-shinned hawks, it is probable that it 
is more generally distributed in New York than any other of the family. 
From Long Island to John Brown's grave and Plattsburg, and from West- 



104 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

field to Orient this little falcon breeds in nearly every community where 
it is allowed to remain at peace. In traveling about the State I have found 
it a fairly common summer resident and in winter have noticed it in many 
cities and villages, or on their outskirts, where it subsists mostly on 
" English " sparrows and field mice. In portions of New York City, 
Poughkeepsie, Albany, Rochester, Buffalo, Canandaigua and Geneva where 
I have watched it day after day in midwinter it seemed evident that the 
presence of an abundant supply of sparrows was the determining factor 
which inhibited migration. During the migration season, March 20 to 
April 30 and September to October 20, the Sparrow hawk is noticeably 
commoner, especially near the coast, in the Hudson valley and along the 
Erie-Ontario lowland. It breeds from Mackenzie, Keewatin and New- 
foundland to Texas and Georgia; and winters from Illinois, New York and 
Massachusetts to Costa Rica. 

Habits. The Sparrow hawk frequents wide pastures and fields which 
have a scattered growth of trees, open groves, " slashes," and half-cleared 
hillsides, or bottom lands with fringes of trees along the streams. In such 
localities it is often seen perched on some dead branch or telegraph pole 
or hovering in the air watching for its humble prey of mice and grass- 
hoppers. Its flight is light and easy. Occasionally it gives voice to a 
high pitched, rapidly repeated cry resembling the words killy, killy, killy, 
killy. This is probably an alarm note, as it is rapidly reiterated when the 
nest is in danger or when the young are being led away from their enemies. 
The nest is in the deserted hole of some large woodpecker, usually the 
Flicker, or in the hollow of a tree, but rarely in the deserted nest of a crow 
•or hawk. Little, if any, nesting material is placed in the hollow. The 
•eggs are laid from April 25 to May 30 according to locality and nature of 
the season. They are from 4 to 7 in number, of a white or buff or rufous 
ground color, variously speckled, blotched and clouded with shades of 
chocolate, cinnamon, buff, ocherous etc., in different pattern, sometimes 
confluent on the larger end, sometimes on the smaller, sometimes zoned, 
and sometimes uniformly covered. They measure about 1.41 by 1.12 



\ 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK IO5 

inches. The food, as already intimated, consists principally of grass- 
hoppers and mice. Small birds are occasionally taken, but this little 
falcon is mostly a harmless and certainly an interesting neighbor. 

FamUy F*ANDIONIDAE 

Ospreys 

Character. Beak inflated except at base and much hooked, without 
tooth or festoon; nostrils oblique, oval, in the edge of the cere; eye shield 
rudimentary; scapular process of the coracoid not reaching furculum; 
tarsus roughly reticulate; the large and powerful feet with rough and spiny 
scales for holding their finny prey; all the toes free and the outer one 
versatile; talons extremely large, sharp and much curved; legs long and 
closely feathered; the tarso-metatarsus contains a bony canal for the 
extensor tendon of the toes; this and the versatile character of the outer 
toe, as well as the aftershafted plumage, the blending of the deep plantar 
tendons and the presence of a scapula accessoria, suggesting relationship 
to the owls; the plumage, however, is close, oily and imbricated, the quills 
and tail feathers stifif and pointed and the coeca are wanting. 

The ospreys or Fish hawks are birds of powerful flight, and their 
long, curved talons, as well as the granular-spiny palms of their feet, are 
admirably adapted for seizing and holding their slippery prey. Although 
they feed almost exclusively upon fish, it is usually considered that they 
do little harm, as the species which they capture are taken in shallow water 
and, consequently, consist of varieties least valuable for food. At any 
rate, they are never so abundant that their depredations are especially 
annoying and the picturesqueness which they and their nests lend to the 
landscape is ample reward for the slight toll they take from the finny tribes. 
This family, or suborder, as some would make it, consists of only three 
species and is nearly cosmopolitan in range. 



I06 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Pandion haliaetus carolinensis (Gmelin) 
Osprey; Fish Hawk 

Plate 43 

Falco carolinensis Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1788. 1:263 

Pandion carolinensis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 6, fig. 18 

Pandion haliaetus carolinensis A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 

p. 168. No. 364 

pandion, Gr., Flavifuv, the father of Progne and Philomela; haliaetus, Gr., "aXtisTo?, 
sea eagle or osprey; carolinensis, of Carolina 

Description. Upper parts dark brown, nearly black on the flight 
feathers; head, neck and under parts white, but streaks on the crown and 
a broad stripe on side of neck blackish, and the breast more or less marked 
with brownish; the tail with dusky bars, its tip and bars on the inner webs 
whitish; bill blackish, its cere and basal portion bluish; feet bluish gray, 
claws black; iris red or sometimes yellow. Male: Smaller and clearer 
white on neck and below. Female: With more brownish on breast and 
tawny tinging the white areas. Young: More marked with buffy and 
brownish on neck and under parts, and the upper parts edged and mottled 
with whitish or buffy, the tail more barred. 

Length 20-24 inches; extent 4 1/2-5 1/2 feet; wing 17-22 inches; tail 
8.5-10.5; tarsus 2.25; middle toe without claw 1.75; culmen and claws 1.30. 

Field marks. The uninitiated often mistakes a Fish hawk for an eagle, 
but its lighter build, " crooked wings," and white under parts distinguish 
it at a great distance from both the young and the mature eagle. In 
expanse of wings, however, it almost rivals the male eagle and the Turkey 
buzzard among our native Raptores. 

Distribution. The Fish hawk is a regular and not uncommon visitor 
on all the lakes and rivers of New York State, arriving from March 15 
to April I along the sea coast, and departing from September 20 to October 
15, but is occasionally seen as late as November 17. It breeds in con- 
siderable numbers about the eastern end of Long Island, especially on 
Gardiner's island, where more than 100 nests were occupied in 1910 {see 
Bird Lore 5, 6, 180 and Wilson Bulletin 50, 18). On Plum and Shelter 
islands it also nested abundantly in recent years. In the interior counties 
of New York the Osprey is no longer a summer resident, except in portions 



BIRDS OK NEW YORK 10/ 

of the Adirondacks, where it continues to breed but yearly becomes rarer 
and rarer on account of the relentless persecution of thoughtless tourists 
and campers. Along the Hudson, the Great Lakes, and the Central Chain 
its history as a breeding species has been the same as that of the Bald 
eagle. One by one the Fish hawk trees have disappeared until now the 
author knows of no breeding station in the State except as mentioned above. 
As a migrant, however, the Fish hawk is frequently seen over all our inland 
waters from March 25 to May 15 in springtime, and from August 20 to 
October 25 in auttunn. 

The food of this species consists almost entirely of fish. Occasionally 
frogs and other aquatic animals are taken but, although I have watched 
this unequaled fisherman on nvunberless occasions, hawking, soaring or 
hovering over lakes and rivers and flooded marshes, and even mill ponds, 
and have seen him as often splash feet foremost into the water with almost 
unerring aim, I have never seen him rise with any prey but a fish in his 
powerful talons, nor have I ever taken any food but fish from the stomach 
of an Osprey. Like other fishermen the Osprey prefers fish of large size 
and, it is said, occasionally fastens its claws into prey of such size that he 
is unable to rise with it or to loosen his talons, and perishes as the result 
of his eagerness. Mr Addison P. Wilbur relates an interesting story of 
his boyhood experience on Bamegat bay. While returning home after 
a day of unusually bad fortune, just as he was passing over a rise of ground 
he perceived a Fish hawk coming directly toward him and struggling under 
a heavy load. Concealing himself behind a low bush he awaited its approach 
and, just as the hawk was directly overhead, he sprang into the air with 
a loud shout and threw his hat, when the Osprey dropped its fish in con- 
fusion and flew away uttering its shrill, rapidly repeated whistle of complaint. 
My friend, on picking up the fish, found it a fine squeteague or weakfish 
weighing nearly 4 pounds. 

The evil which the Osprey might do by destroying food fish is mini- 
mized by the fact that it can not take fish from deep below the surface 
and consequently feeds mostly on species which prefer the warmer waters 



I08 • NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

and shallows, such as carp, suckers, pike (Esox), bowfin (Amia), alewives 
etc., or on fish which are sickly and hence swimming near the surface. It 
does not, however, tO my knowledge feed on dead fish. This latter is the 
province of the eagle. 

The nest of the Fish hawk is composed of sticks and rubbish, placed 
in a large tree, or, when in a safe locality, on a boathouse, a cartwheel 
on a stake, a telegraph pole, or even on the ground. When it has been 
occupied for many seasons it becomes a huge affair, visible for a long distance. 
The eggs, 2 to 4 in number, usually 3, laid from April 20 to June i, are 
usually of a creamy or buffy white, heavily blotched with chocolate. But 
they are very variable and are sometimes nearly a uniform reddish brown, 
sometimes a plain dull white, and average 2.48 by 1.80 inches in size. The 
breeding range of this species is from the limit of trees to the Gulf of Mexico, 
and it winters from the Southern States to South America. 

Suborder STRIGES 

Owls 

Bill and claws much as in Falcones, but the cere concealed by thick 
bristly tufts of feathers, the feet feathered, and the outer toe reversible; eyes 
looking forward, large, surrounded by disks of radiating feathers ; external 
ear remarkably large; plumage loose and soft, the outer webs of the feathers 
recurved ; oil gland not tufted; coeca large ; no crop developed ; basipterygoids 
present; sternum doubly notched on posterior margin except Aluconidae; 
clavicles weak, as long as sternum; palate desmognathous ; skull bones, 
especially the brain case and maxillo-palatines, spongy; a bony canal in 
the tarso-metatarsus for the extensor tendon of the toes (except in Alu- 
conidae) ; ambiens, semitendinosus and accessory, accessory femorocaudal, 
biceps slip, and expansor of secondaries, all absent; femorocaudal present; 
colors blended; eggs subspherical and immaculate white; nature and regimen 
as in Accipitres; flight buoyant but wavering. 

Owls are a well-marked order of birds both in external appearance 
and internal structure. Everyone knows an owl, an assertion which 
scarcely can be made of any other order of birds. Their large, forward- 
looking eyes, facial disks, soft blended plumage, noiseless flight, nocturnal 
habits and stridvilous or resonant, dismal voices, have established their 
individuality firmly in the popular mind. There are about 315 species 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK IO9 

I 

■and subspecies of owls, distributed in all parts of the world, 80 of which 
belong to the Otus or Screech owl genus. 

Family AUUCONIDAB 

Barn Owls 

These birds have a peculiar physiognomy which has given them the 
name of Monkey owls. Facial disk heart-shaped or triangular instead of 
rounded; the inner toe is as long as the middle toe; middle claw pectinate 
on its inner edge; tarsus long, closely feathered, the feathers becoming 
thin and bristly on the toes, and recurved on the rear part of tarsus; first 
quill longer than third; none of the primaries sinuate or emarginate; no 
bony canal in tarso-metatarsus for extensor of toes; sternum has a manu- 
brium, and is entire on the rear margin; furculum ankylosed with sternum. 
This family, which is related to the goatsuckers through Steatornis, is 
represented by the single living genus Aluco of 26 species and subspecies, 
distributed in all warm and temperate regions of the world. 

Aluco pratincola (Bonaparte) 
Barn Owl 

Plate SJ 

Strix pratincola Bonaparte. Geog. & Comp. List. 1838. 7 

DcKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 31, fig. 28 
Aluco pratincola. A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3, 1910. p. 168. No. 365 
aluco, Lat., a kind of hooting owl; pratincola, Lat., inhabiting the meadow 

Description. Upper parts ocherous yellow, overwashed with grayish, 
and speckled and marbled with dusky and white; wings and tail bar-spotted 
with dusky; tinder parts vary from white to tawny, speckled with blackish; 
face white to tawny; iris blackish. 

Length 15-18 inches; extent 44; wing 12.5-14; tail 5.5-7.5; tarsus 
2.25-3. 

Distribution. The American Bam owl, which is closely related to 
the European species f 1 a m m e a , inhabits the warmer portions of North 
America from the northern limit of the upper Austral zone southward into 
Mexico. The only New York breeding records before me are from Staten 
Island, Long Island and the Genesee valley. It has been regarded as a 
rare bird in this State but, as the accompanying records indicate, is well 
distributed in the warmer portions of New York, and probably is more 



no 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



common than the paucity of records would lead us to suppose. Its 
secretive and nocturnal habits fortunately protect it from vulgar and 
thoughtless interference in many localities, and it has been known to nest 
for years in secluded towers, belfries, bam attics and hollow trees without 
its presence being suspected by neighboring inhabitants. Doctor Fisher 
has shown, by the examination of hundreds of bone and fur pellets disgorged 
by these owls, that their food is made up almost entirely of mice, and hence 
that they should be strictly protected. 

Two broods are said to be reared in a season, and eggs in all stages 
of incubation are frequently found in the same nest. The eggs are from 
5 to II in number and average 1.73 by 1.28 inches in dimensions. When 
disturbed, like other owls it hisses at its tormentor. Bendire mentions 
a querulous note, " aek, aek, somewhat like the call of the nighthawk "; 
and Chapman has heard it utter " a wild, startling scream, a high rapidly 
repeated cr-r-ree, cr-r-ree, cr-r-ree.'' 



New York records of the barn owl 



La Salle 




J. L. Davison 


Ossining 


January 1873 


p. f B. N. 0. C, vol. I, p. 61 
' \"F. & S.," vol. II, p. 482 


Near New York 


April 13, 1878 


Meams, Auk, vol. 7, p. 90 


New York 


April s, 1878 


Bicknell, B. N. 0. C, vol. 3, p. 132 


Penn Yan 




{ Gilbert, Auburn list, p. 26 
1 "F. &S.," vol. 7, p. 32s 


Flushing 


May 30, 1883 


f Dutcher, Auk, vol. 3, p. 439 


(4 young in nest) 


\ Beard, Auk, vol. 19, p. 398 


Bay Ridge 


Collection L. I. Hist. Soc. 




West Hampton 


November ;o, 1886 


Dutcher, Auk, vol. 5, p. 180 


Cayuga 


About 1886 


Foster Parker 


Bayport 


September i, 1888 


(Hawkins) Dutcher, L. I. Notes 


Troy 


November 19, 1888 


Parke, Auk, vol. 7, p. 400 


Hxla Works 


Winter 1889 


J. S. Allwood 


Buffalo 


f July s, 1890 

\ October 3, 1890 , 


Bergtold, Auk, vol. 7, p. 400 


Troy 


December 3, 1890 


Parke, Auk, vol. 8, p. 114 


Parkville 


September 10, 1890 


Johnson, Auk, vol. 8, p. 114 


Islip 


February 16, 1891 


(Hawkins) Dutcher, L. I. Notes 


Pitcher 


September 13, 1891 


Higgins, Auk, vol. 10, p. 301 



BIROS OF NEW YORK 



III 



Hick's Beach 
Jamestown 
Auburn 
Bliss ville 
Buffalo 
Marcy 

Gardiner's Island 
East Marion 
Gardiner's Island 
Rochester 
Sennett 
Bellport 
Canandaigua 
Montauk Point 
Montauk Point 
Islip 
Gasport 
Montauk Point 
South Danby 
Medina 
Staten Island 
Kenyonville 
Canandaigua 
Livingston county 
Wayne and Livings- 
ton counties 
Ithaca 
East Schodack 



January lo, 1892 

September 16, i894cf 

About December 13, 1895 

December 1894 

July 18, 1895 

September 1898 

September 30, 1898 

October 12, 1898 

March 1899 

September 1899 

September 23, 1900 

Breeds, April 2sth, 7 fresh eggs 

June 18, 1900 

September 12, 1900 

September 25, 1901 

April 23, 1902 

September 1903 

February 17, 1903 

December i, 1904 

Jime 20, 1905 

1905-7 Breeds 

October 30, 1905 

April 1907 

March 10, Breeds 

Breeds 

1906-7 (Several taken) 
October 1907 



Howell, Auk, vol. 10, p. 90 

Kibbe "Oologist," vol. 23, p. 25 

Fred J. Stupp, 

(Hendrickson) Dutcher, L. I. Notes 

Savage, Auk, vol. 12, p. 393 

Bagg, Auk, vol. 17, p. 177 

Worthington, Auk, vol. 16, p. 85 

Worthington, Auk, vol. 16, p. 85 

Braislin, Auk, vol. 17, p. 70 

David Bruce 

G. C. Embody 

W. Arthur Babson 

Ernest Watts 

Braislin, Auk, vol. 19, p. 146 

Braislin, Bds. L. I., p. 70 

H. M. Burtis, Auk, vol. 20, p. 212 

Garrett, " Oologist," vol. 23, p. 25 

Dwight, jr. Auk, vol. 20, p. 434 

(Erway) H. D. Reed 

Posson, "Oologist," vol. 22, p. 106 

James Chapin 

Garrett, "Oologist," vol. 25, p. 25 

Ernest Watts 

D. Byron Waite 

A. L. Thome 

L. A. Fuertes 

(Hall) George L. Richard 



Family STRIQIDAK 

Horned Owls, etc. 

In this family the sternum is notched on the rear margin, there is no 
manubrium on its front, and the furculum is more or less defective and not 
■ankylosed with the sternum; inner toe shorter than middle; feathers on 
rear of tarsus not recuiVed; first quill shorter than third; from one to six 
of the primary quills emarginate or sinuate. 

Here are included the owls with rounded face disks and large external 
ears. Many have plumicoms or " horns," and those with the largest ears 
have flaps or lids to cover the opening. There are 290 species and sub- 
.species, some of which are found in every region of the globe. 



112 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Asio wUsonianus (Lesson) 
Long-eared Owl 

Plate S3 

Otus wilsonianus Lesson. Traits d'Om. 1830. no 
Otus amcricanus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 27, fig. 24 
Asio wilsonianus. A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 169. No. 366 
dsio, Lat., a kind of homed owl; wilsonidnus, in honor of Alexander Wilson 

Description. Ear tufts conspicuous. Plumage finely mottled and bro- 
kenly waved with dusky, grayish white, and buffy, the former predominat- 
ing on the upper parts, and the bufify overlaid with the dusky and grayish ; 
wings and tail with dusky bars; obscurely defined blotches of dusky on 
breast and stripes combined with obscure crossbars on the belly; facial 
disks reddish brown; legs buffy; the whole plumage remarkably blended. 

Length 13-16 inches; extent 38-40; wing 11-12; tail 5.5-6.50; tarsus 
1. 20-1. 40; whole culmen i. 

Distribution. The American Long-eared owl, closely related to the 
Palearctic species Asio otus, inhabits the temperate portion of North 
America from Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan to the tablelands of Mexico. 
It is one of our strictly resident species, and is not very uncommon about 
dense wooded swamps and hillsides in most parts of the State, but is 
apparently uncommon in the Adirondack forests. Cedar and hemlock 
swamps, pine woods and alder thickets are its favorite retreats. In such 
localities it is frequently observed standing motionless in some evergreen 
with its ear tufts raised and its feathers drawn close, looking like a weather- 
worn stub or ragged piece of bark. At other times one is not aware of its 
presence, until it is startled from its perch and retreats with silent wavering 
flight, like a great Whippoorwill, to a remoter corner of the swamp. I am 
not sure that I have ever heard the note of this owl, but Nuttall describes 
it as a plaintive, hollow moaning, while others compare it to the barking 
of young dogs or the noise made by kittens. 

This species nests in trees, usually in the deserted home of a crow, 
hawk or squirrel, but rarely constructs its own nest, and lays from 3 to 
7 white eggs which average about 1.62 by 1.28 inches in dimensions. The 
time of nesting varies from March 31 when eggs have been found at Ossining 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK II3 

and Branchport to April 19 and May 1 1 when its nest was found with eggs 
at Holland Patent. 

The Long-eared owl ranks close to the Bam owl and the Sawwhet 
owl in its services to agriculture. From an examination of 129 stomach 
pellets cast by this species, the author found its food to consist of mice (187) 
and sparrows (5) which agrees very nearly with Doctor Fisher's report 
from the examination of stomachs sent to the Department of Agriculture. 

Asio flammeus (Pontoppidan) 
Short-eared Owl 

Plate 56 

Strix flammea Pontoppidan. Danske Atlas. 1763. 1:617. pi. xxv, figure 
Otus palustris DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 28, fig. 27 
Asio flammeus. A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 169. No. 367 
fldmmeus, Lat., flaming, referring to the general yellowish brown coloration 

Description. Ear tufts rudimentary. General ground color ocherous 
to buffy white, streaked with dark brown; wing and tail feathers barred 
with the same; region of the eyes blackish, the eyelids whitish; iris bright 
yellow; bill bluish black. 

Length 13. 7-16. 5 inches; extent 40-44; wing 11. 7-13; tail 5.7-6.2; 
tarsus 1.75. 

This is the " yellowish brown owl " or " Marsh owl " so often seen 
flying over the marshes early in the evening or on dark days. 

Distribution. This is one of our commonest owls, at least in the low- 
lands and marshy districts far outnvmibering all other species, and in the 
more cultivated portions of the State is more frequently observed than 
any other owl except the Screech owl. Unfortunately a large percentage 
is killed early in the winter each year by gunners and thoughtless sports- 
men, but where left undisturbed, it must be regarded a common winter 
visitant on all our extensive marshes and waste fields. During October 
and November, and again in March and April its numbers are noticeably 
increased, when the birds from the far north are sojourning with us on 
their semiannual migrations. As a resident species this owl is quite widely 
distributed in New York, its presence during the breeding season depending 



114 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

upon available nesting sites and freedom from persecution. Mr Worthing- 
ton found a nest on Plum island, Suffolk county, May 7, 1891 (Auk, 10, 
301) containing a young bird about half grown, which would give April i 
as the approximate date for eggs. The author photographed a young 
bird of this species on May 11, 1902, which had recently been taken from 
a nest near the foot of Canandaigua lake. This nest contained also 8 
eggs in various stages of incubation. Mr Savage reports a set of 7 eggs 
taken near Buffalo by Frank S. Low, April 7, 1898. According to Bruce 
and Short it breeds quite commonly near Brockport and Chili in Monroe 
county. But its commonest breeding grounds are on the marshes of the 
Seneca river above and below Montezuma, and on the wet lands near the 
eastern end of Lake Ontario. 

Habits. The specific names of this bird formerly in vogue — palustris, 
of the marsh, and accipitrinus, hawklike, were more appropriate names 
than Pontoppidan's name which supplants them in accordance with the 
rules of our Code of Nomenclature ; for this is our Marsh owl par excellence 
and is more hawklike both in appearance and habits than any other of 
our common species. While traveling about the country I have often seen 
it sitting on trees and fence posts in broad daylight watching for its favorite 
prey, or hawking back and forth over the grassy lowlands. It is easily 
distinguished from the Marsh hawk and other diurnal raptores by its 
larger head, more wavering flight and the blunter pointed, more " crooked " 
wings. Mice, mostly field mice, make about 80 per cent of this owl's 
food, while only 10 or 12 per cent consists of small birds of the open 
field, mostly sparrows. Its eggs measure about 1.60 by 1.26 inches, of 
a less shiny white than those of the Long-eared owl. The young are 
dark brown in color, spotted with ocherous, the face brownish black, and 
the lower parts dull buff marked with smoky. They remain for 3 or 4 
weeks in the vicinity of the nest, which is a rude affair placed on the ground 
in the midst of the thick marsh grass. This is the most silent of our owls 
and even when defending itself or its nest, makes only a sharp snapping 
sound with its beak. 

The Short-eared owl is Holarctic in distribution, sharing with the Snowy 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK II5 

owl the distinction of being our only species nonseparable, even by sub- 
specific rank, from the old world forms. It breeds from Alaska and Green- 
land southward to New Jersey and Kansas, and, in winter, is found from 
Massachusetts, Ohio and California southward to Cuba and Guatemala. 

Strix varia varia Barton 

Barred Owl 

Plate S4 

Strix varius Barton. Fragm. N. H. Penn. 1799. 11 
Ulula nebulosa DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 29, fig. 21 
Strix varia varia. A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 170. No. 368 
strix, Lat., Gr., <r"PY;, an owl; vdria, Lat., variegated 

Description. No "horns"; eyes dark brownish black; upper parts 
umber brown barred with whitish; tail bars 6 to 8; under parts dull white 
barred on the breast and heavily streaked on the belly with dark brown; face 
gray with fine dusky concentric rings ; bill yellowish. Young: More spotted 
above, barred below. 

Length 19.5-24 inches; extent 44-50; wing 13-14; tail 9-10; weight 
20-32 ounces. 

The absence of ear tufts and the barring of the breast distinguish 
this species from our other large owls. When I have caught a hurried 
glimpse of some large owl retreating through the forest or down some ravine, 
the general grayish brown effect has served to distinguish this species 
from the more ocherous brown of the Great homed owl; while its superior 
size, much larger head and grayer tone are sufficiently different from the 
Long-eared owl, our other woodland species. 

Distribution. The Barred owl is found throughout New York State, 
and breeds wherever it finds swampy woods or forests of sufficient extent 
to secure it protection from its one great enemy, civilized man. It is 
undoubtedly the commonest owl in the Adirondacks, and is still common 
in all the more wooded districts of the State. Although as nearly a strictly 
resident species as any of our owls, it is most numerous in fall and early 
winter when the young of the year are scattering in search of hunting 
grounds, and birds from farther north are seeking a milder climate. The 
range of our subspecies is from Hudson bay and Newfoundland to Kansas 
8 



Il6 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

and Georgia. In New York the nesting season varies from March 12, 
when fresh eggs have been taken near New York City, to April i (Branch- 
port) and May i (Herkimer county). 

Habits. This is the most vociferous of our owls. Its notes are deep- 
toned and dismal, usually a combination of whoos or whaas, sometimes 
interspersed with sounds like the laughter of demons or " like the horrified 
shriek of a half -strangled person." The commonest of its performances, 
which has gained it the name of " eight hooter " among the north woods 
guides, may be written as follows: Whoo-whoo, hoo-hoo; whoo-whoo, hoo- 
hooaw, the last syllable being prolonged and ending in a falling guttural 
GW sound. There can be little doubt that the stories told by pioneers of 
the blood-curdling shrieks of the " panther " which followed them in the 
woods are to be attributed to this bird. 

The Barred owl, in spite of its size, rarely attacks poultry or the larger 
game birds, but more than 60 per cent of its food consists of mice and other 
small mammals, and it is fond of crayfish, frogs and insects. I have known 
repeated instances of poultry roosting in the trees of a farmyard where these 
owls were hooting every night about the place without a single fowl being 
disturbed. About 16 per cent of their food, however, consists of birds. 

The nest of the Barred owl is usually in a hollow tree or in the old 
nest of a crow or large hawk. The eggs arc 2 or 3 in number, sometimes 
4, and measure about 2 by 1.66 inches. 

Scotiaptex nebulosa nebulosa (J. R. Forster) 
Great Gray Owl 

Plate 54 

Strix nebulosa Forster. Philos. Trans. 1772. 62:424 
Syrnium cinereum DcKay. Zoo!. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 26, fig. 29 
Scotiaptex nebulosa nebulosa. A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 171. 
No. 370 
scotiaptex, Gr. oxoTta, darkness, and (probably) t.t<j-(^, which Prof. D'Arcy Thompson 
considers equivalent to u^pis, the Eagle owl; nebulosa, Lat., cloudy, gray 

Description, Very large; no ear tufts; eyes and bill yellow; upper 
parts dusky grayish brown, mottled with white in irregular broken bars; 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK I 1 7 

grayish white below with ragged stripes of dusky on the breast, and irregular 
bars on flanks and belly; face grayish white with narrow dusky concentric 
rings. This great owl bears only a superficial resemblance to the Barred 
owl. Though of such large dimensions, its body is smaller than that of 
the Great-homed owl. 

Length 25-30 inches; extent 54-60; wing 16-18; tail 11-12.6. 

Distribution. The Great gray owl, closely related to the Lapp owl 
of Eurasia, inhabits the Boreal forests of North America from Central 
Alberta and Keewatin northward to the limit of trees. In winter it wanders 
irregularly southward as far as New York, Ohio, Nebraska and California. 
In the Adirondacks it is probably more common as a winter visitor than 
is generally supposed, but throughout the remainder of the State is only 
of rare and irregular occurrence. The following records, the only ones 
from this State at my disposal, will indicate the frequency of its visits. 

Marcy, Oneida county February 1875 Ralph and Bagg 

Adirondacks March 1879 Lawrence, N. 0. C. Bui. 5, 122 

Steuben county February 10, 1887 Wood, Auk, 5, no 

Watson, Lewis county December 17, 1889 Miller, Auk, 7, 206 

New York State 1889 Bambir, F. & S. 33, 449 

White Lake, Oneida \ t, , „ ■, , . , 

> February 1895 Johnson, Aulf, 12, 301 
county J 

St Lawrence county 1890-95 (3 specimens) Dutcher, Auk, 12:181 

°y',, ^ ' \ (date unknown) A. H. Helme 

folk county J 

Rensselaer county F. S. Webster 

Seneca Castle, On- 1 , t? ^ -iir ^^ 

> January 1907 Jimest Watts 
tario county J 

Cryptoglaux funerea richardsoni (Bonaparte) 
Richardson Owl 

PUte 55 

Nyctale richardsoni Bonaparte. Geog. & Comp. List. 1838. 7 
Cryptoglaux funerea richardsoni. A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 

p. 171. No. 371 

cry'ptoglaux, Or. xpuir-ro?, hidden, and yXou^, the little owl of Europe; funerea, 
Lat., funereal; richardsoni, to John Richardson 

Description. Similar to the next species, but larger, fully equaling 
the Screech owl ; the white spots on head more rounded and not short streaks 



118 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

as in acadica; feet buffy, spotted with brown; under tail-coverts striped with 
brown ; stripes on under parts usually less ruddy than in the next species. 
Length 9-12 inches; extent 24; wing 6.6-7.4; tail 4.2-4.7. 

Distribution. This boreal species breeds from northern British 
Columbia, Alberta and the Magdalen islands northward to the limit of 
trees, being the Nearctic representative of the Palearctic C. funerea 
f u n e r e a. In winter it has been taken occasionally as far south as New 
England, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Nebraska. Only two 
definite records for New York are before me; the first a specimen taken 
at Hecla Works (Lowell), Oneida county, February 1893, by J. S. All- 
wood, and now in the State collection; and the other taken at North 
Elba. Essex county, about the middle of December 1896, by Ezra 
Cornell, jr. 

Cryptoglaux acadica acadica (Gmelin) 
Saw-whet Owl 

Plate 55 

Strix acadica Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1788. 1:296 
Ulula acadica DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 30, fig. 23 
Cryptoglaux acadica acadica. A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 
p. 172. No. 372 

acadica, of Acadia 

Description. The smallest New York owl; no ear tufts; upper parts 
brown, with short white streaks on front and top of head, and larger white 
spots on back of head, scapulars and back; the wing and tail feathers spotted 
with white on either web, forming interrupted bars; under parts whitish 
striped with reddish brown; face whitish with a blackish space around 
and in front of the. eye, border of the disk dark brown spotted with white; 
feet plain btiffy white; bill blackish; eyes yellow. Young: Upper parts 
and forward portion of lower parts plain chocolate brown; rest of under 
parts brownish yellow; no streaks; /ace sooty brown. 

Length 7.25-8.5 inches; extent 17-18; wing 5.2-5.9; tail 2.7-3.2; 
tarsus .75. 

Distribution. This owl has been regarded as rare, or at least uncom- 
mon, in nearly all the local lists of New York birds, but its retiring habits 
are undoubtedly responsible for its not being rated as fairly common in 
many portions of the State. It is perhaps less common than the Long- 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK II9 

eared owl in southern New York, but more common than that species 
in the Adirondacks. A rather decided migratory movement has been 
noticed by various observers. In western New York I have seen evidence 
of migration in the fact that this bird is often killed by sportsmen in our 
woodcock coverts during October and early November, and that it is 
frequently observed by bird enthusiasts during April and early May. 
Of 13 Long Island records in Mr Butcher's notes, 1 1 occur between October 
23 and December 31, while the majority of all New York specimens were 
taken in November and December. Mr Bruce reported it as breeding 
near Brockport, and Mr Helme has taken 2 sets of 5 eggs at Miller's Place, 
L. I. Ralph and Bagg record 5 sets of 6 and 7 eggs from Oneida and 
Herkimer counties, the dates ranging from March 25 (1886) to April 30 
(1889). I have seen specimens in nestling pltunage from Fourth lake 
and Honnedaga, but can find no other records of nesting within the State, 
although Doctor Ralph considered it a fairly common breeder on the borders 
of the Adirondack forests. The range of the Saw-whet owl is from British 
Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec and Nova Scotia south to Arizona, Nebraska, 
Indiana and Maryland; in winter as far south as Louisiana and casually 
to Guatemala. 

Habits. The little Saw-whet or Acadian owl is an inhabitant of the 
forest, preferring a swampy woods, and remains concealed during the day 
in a hollow tree, a woodpecker's hole or among dense evergreens. During 
migrations it is often found in dense swampy coverts of alders and tangles 
of vines. It is very unsuspicious and will frequently permit itself to 
be stroked with the hand or captured without resistance. During the 
mating season its curious notes are heard in the wood which has been 
selected for a nesting site. " The call is a frequently repeated whistle, 
sometimes uttered in a high and again in a low key, and given in either 
a slow or a rapid cadence. Generally it is commenced slowly and gradually 
becomes faster and faster till it ends quite rapidly. This call, which is 
the only one I have ever heard them give, sounds not unlike the noise made 
during the operation of filing a saw and it is easily imitated " (Doctor Ralph 



120 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

in Bendire's Life Histories). It feeds almost exclusively on mice and 
insects, rarely attacking birds. It is itself often destroyed by the Barred 
owl and other carnivorous species, as is shown by the stomach exami- 
nations made by the Biological Survey. I have also found the feathers 
of this little owl on several occasions where it had been devoured by some 
stronger antagonist, and Mr Dutcher mentions a similar occurrence in 
his Long Island notes. 

The little Saw- whet usually lays her eggs in the deserted hole of 
a woodpecker. Sometimes an old squirrel nest or a crow's nest is utilized, 
and it has been known to occupy a hollow log or box artificially constructed. 
The eggs vary from 4 to 7 in number, oval in shape, pure white without 
gloss, and measure about 1.20 by i inch. 

Otus asio asio (Linnaeus) 
Screech Owl 

Plate s6 

Strix asio Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:92 
Bubo asio DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 25, fig. 25 and 26 
Otus asio asio. A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 172. No. 373 
otus, Lat., Gr., wto?, an eared owl; a'sio, Lat., a kind of homed owl 

Description. Small; ear tufts conspicuous; coloration dichromatic. 
Gray phase: Upper parts brownish gray, everywhere mottled and dappled 
with lighter and darker shades and with fine shaft streaks of blackish : spots 
on scapulars form a whitish or buffy band ; wings and tail barred distinctly 
but not sharply with dusky and whitish; under parts grayish white with 
fine streaks and fine wavy crossbars of blackish; a few touches of rufous; 
prevailing color gray. Red phase: bright rufous or rust red where the gray 
phase is brownish or dusky gray, the fine shaft stripes of the ■ feathers 
blackish as before. Specimens intermediate between the red and gray 
phases are quite common. Both red and gray owls may come from the 
same brood. The particular phase of coloration of each individual shows 
in the first plumage, but the color may be controlled somewhat by the 
food given in captivity. In New York my experience would show that 
the gray phase is at least 10 times as common as the red, and it has 
happened (perhaps merely happened) that the red owls which I have 
dissected have been feeding on crayfish. The fact that the red phase 
is more common in the Mississippi valley might possibly be correlated 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



121 



with the abundance of crayfish in that region. Nestlings: Covered, with 
white down. Fledglings: Uniformly and finely crossbarred with dusky 
and grayish white. 

Length 7.5-10 inches; extent 22; wing 6-7.?; tail 3-3.5; weight 4-6 

ounces. 

Distribution. The Screech owl inhabits eastern North America 
from Minnesota, Ontario and New Brunswick to Texas and Georgia; 
represented in the remainder of temperate and tropical America by closely 
allied forms. In New York it is generally distributed except in the spruce 
and balsam belt, where it is 
mostly absent, since it is an 
austral species, but reaches the 
northern limit of the Transi- 
tion zone. It is our commonest 
owl, averaging from i to 3 pairs 
for each square mile of country, 
and is as strictly resident as 
any native species. It prefers 
orchards, groves and shade trees 
to the depths of the forest and 
I have found it nesting within 
the limits of New York City, 
Rochester, Buffalo, Geneva and 
Canandaigua. 

Habits. The Screech owl 
remains concealed during the 
day in a hollow tree or dense 
evergreen. I have often discov- 
ered him perched within the entrance of some jagged hollow with his ear 
tufts raggedly elevated and his eyelids drawn obliquely together, appar- 
ently watching the progress of events as the day wore by. If approached 
too closely he seemed to melt away so gradually that no motion was evi- 
dent. As soon as the dusk of evening comes, he issues forth and utters his 




Screech owl 



Photo by Guy A. Bailey 



122 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

tremulous, plaintive, mournful whistle. This note seems to be a hunting 
cry or a sociable halloo as well as a mating call, for it is heard at all times 
of year. I have often called them to me by imitation of their notes, and 
have seen them strike mice and crickets and cicadas immediately after they 
had called. This note sounds mournful, melancholy and dismal to those 
who are in a mournful state of mind, yet in fact has nothing to do with sor- 
row or melancholy in the bird's sensorium, but is as much the expression 
of a healthy, happy, vigorous and sociable personality as the chickadee's 
cheery note. By watching these little gnomes calling back and forth to 
each other and plying their helpful trade about my camp, I have come 
to welcome their notes and their presence as heartily as the Robin and 
the Phoebe. Their voices are heard not only in the evening but at day- 
break, and throughout the moonlight nights. Sometimes where mice 
and insects are scarce, the screech owls become addicted to the bird-killing 
habit, when the settler must use his best intelligence as judge and 
executioner. 

Like other species, the little Screech owl, when approached, instinc- 
tively assumes a curious appearance to escape observation. The upper 
figure in Mr Fuertes's painting (plate 56) is by no means an extreme 
illustration of this attitude. While passing through a thicket, I once 
came upon an old Screech owl and four young just from the nest, all seated 
in a dense shrub slightly above my reach. They had posed in the most 
fantastic shapes and resembled jagged strips of bark or torn pieces of 
a hornet's nest more than birds. One that was captured puffed himself 
up like a great cat and hissed and opened his eyes and snapped his beak 
in a fierce and threatening manner. 

The Screech owl pairs in March and April. The site chosen for 
incubation is a hollow tree, a deserted Flicker's hole, or a cavity erected 
for the owl's accommodation. The eggs are laid on the chips or rubbish 
in the bottom of the hollow, 4 to 7 in number, usually 4 or 5, white as with 
all owls, and average about 1.42 by 1.18 inches in size. In this State 
they are laid from the ist to the 25th of April. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 123 

Bubo virginianus virginianus (Gmelin) 
Great Horned Owl 

Plate 57 

Strix virginiana Gmelin. Syst. Nat. I. 1 788. i : 287 
Bubo virginianus DcKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 24, fig. 22 
Bubo virginianus virginianus. A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 175. 
No. 375 

btibo, Lat., the Eagle owl; virginidnus, of Virginia 

Description. Very large, conspicuously " horned." Upper parts ocher- 
ous, profusely marbled and speckled with blackish; wings and tail barred 
with dusky; under parts lighter ocherous, more or less overlaid with whitish, 
finely barred with black; a necklace of black blotches on breast; throat patch 
white; bill blackish; eyes yellow, larger than those of any other native bird. 
The large size, great head, long ear tufts, and general yellowish brown 
color effect, distinguish this bird at a distance from any other species. 

Length 21-24 inches; extent 50-60; wing 14-16; tail 8-10; tarsus 
2-2.3; weight 3-4.5 pounds. 

Distribution. The Great horned owl is a permanent resident through- 
out New York State. It is no longer common, however, except in the 
wooded districts. The early settlers were too well acquainted with its 
disastrous raids upon the chicken roost, and it still imposes a heavy toll 
upon all kinds of poultry in the rural districts. Next to the Screech owl 
it is the best known member of the family, and the owl cages in every 
" zoo " are always well supplied with specimens of this feathered pirate. 
Late in the fall and again in February there seems to be a decided increase 
in its ntmibers and several individuals are occasionally found together 
in thick clusters of evergreens or even in the same tree, which fact is 
probably to be explained by the partial migration of the species from the 
northern portion of its range. Our subspecies inhabits eastern North 
America from Wisconsin, Quebec and Newfoundland southward to Florida 
and Texas. Other subspecies are found in nearly every other portion of 
North America and in South America. 

Habits. The Great homed owl is even more nocturnal in habit than 
the Barred owl, but in some portions of the country is said to hunt more 



124 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

or less on cloudy days, especially when it has young in the nest. It cer- 
tainly can see well enough to fly with ease through the trees in brightest 
noonday when driven from its diurnal retreats. If they are occupying 
the old nest of a hawk or crow for breeding purposes, I have usually found 
that the mother bird will leave the nest quietly while danger is yet far 
off, and return stealthily when the intruders are past. Even when in 
hollow trees they will usually act in the same manner after having been 
driven once or twice fromi the nest. The home of this owl is in some 
extensive wooded swamp, or rugged hillside, or deep ravine, but if undis- 
turbed it will sometimes nest for years in groves or scattered growths of 
trees near farmhouses or the outskirts of villages. The accompanying 
photograph is of such a nest near the village of Geneseo. The growing 
scarcity of hollow trees suitably situated for nesting sites and the almost 
absolute certainty of the destruction of broods reared in open nests, every- 
where except in the wildest districts, has been an important factor in the 
gradual decline of this species in New York, and the eager warfare of 
sportsmen and farmers has completed the extirpation of all nesting pairs 
in the thickly settled districts. The general scarcity of this bird and of 
the Red fox in the country now occupied by the Ring-neck pheasant has 
undoubtedly helped materially the introduction of that species, as well 
as the increase of the Cotton-tail rabbit. This owl kills larger prey than 
any other of our common Rap tores, fully equaling the Gyrfalcon in its 
prowess as a hunter. Many are the full-grown fowls which I have seen 
dead from his nightly raids, and I once lost a hen turkey that was attacked 
while brooding her young, and decapitated with ease. This was the work 
of a large female owl, as was demonstrated by the steel trap set by the 
carcass on the ensuing night. They also feed on mice and other small 
quadrupeds, though not always on small ones, for besides rabbits they are 
fond of muskrats, woodchucks, and especially of skunks. I have frequently 
examined specimens which had recently partaken of the savory flesh of 
Mephitis, and have seen the evidences of such feasts in the fields and woods. 
Mr W. E. Lauderdale has called my attention to their habit of feeding 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



125 



only the soft parts of mice to the very young n3stlings, a habit which is 
probably practised by most of our birds of prey. 

The voice of this owl is deeper toned and more sonorous than that 
of the Barred owl and uttered with more even intonation though less 
regular in form and accent, the usual cry consisting of 6 syllables on the 
same key, which has gained it the name of six hooter in some parts of the 
State. This cry, which may be written whoo, hoo-hoo-hoo, whoo, whoo. 




Photo by W. E. Lauderdale, jr 
Great homed owl's nest and eggs in hollow tree 

I have frequently mistaken for the distant baying of a large dog, or even 
for the tooting of a freight engine in the distant valley. My early recol- 
lections of the " sugar bush," where I was occasionally permitted to watch 
the boiling sap throughout the moonlight nights of early March, are 
inseparably associated with the wonderful vocal performances of the Great 
horned owl, answered and reechoed between the hills, until they seemed 
at times to pervade the air completely. 

This owl nests early in the season, fresh eggs in this State usually 



126 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

being found from February 20 to March 15. They are 2 or 3 in number, 
white, subspherical in shape and measure about 2.22 by 1.80 inches. As 
indicated above, they are commonly laid in a hollow tree on the litter 
at the bottom, or in an old hawk's nest, and Mr C. F. Stone reports a nest 
found on the shelf of a precipitous clifif. The nestlings are covered with 
white down, the fledglings ocherous buff, finely barred with dusky. 

Nyctea nyctea (Linnaeus) 
Snowy Owl 

Plate 54 

Strix nyctea Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:93 
Surnia nyctea DcKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 22, fig. 20 
Nyctea nyctea. A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 176. No. 376 

nyctea, from vu^, night 

Description. Large, no ear tufts, feet very thickly feathered. White, 
more or less barred with dusky; face, throat and upper breast without mark- 
ings; eyes yellow; bill black. Males are much smaller and whiter than 
females. I have seen a few specimens that were nearly pure white, with 
only a few inconspicuous dusky spots, but females and young of the year 
are quite regularly marked with narrow transverse bars below and spotted 
or brokenly barred above. 

Length 22-25 inches; extent 54-60; wing 16-19; tail 9-10. 

Distribution. The home of the Snowy owl is on the barren grounds 
of the Holarctic realm. In America it breeds as far south as central Ungava 
and Keewatin and wanders southward in winter as far as the Middle States, 
rarely to Carolina and Louisiana. A few specimens are taken in New 
York nearly every winter, but at intervals of several years there is a decided 
invasion, as in the winters of 1876-77, 1882-83, 1889-90, 1901-2, when 
dozens of specimens were collected in various parts of the State, notably 
on Long Island and near the shores of Lake Ontario. My earliest record 
of arrival is October 20, 1890, a large female captured at Shortsville; and 
the latest a very white male bird killed at Canandaigua April 11, 1907. 
The majority of New York records range between November 11 and 
February 6. 

This species hunts by day nearly as well as in the dusk of evening. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 1 27 

and duck hunters are sometimes surprised by its descending upon their 
decoys while they are concealed in their blinds. It is rarely numerous 
enough in this State to do much damage, but destroys some grouse, rabbits 
and pheasants, although field mice are its principal food while with us. 
As a species it should be ranked as more injurious than the Barred owl, 
but much less harmful than the Great homed owl. In its native haunts 
its food consists principally of lemmings, mice, hares, ptarmigan, water- 
fowl and fish. 

Sumia ulula caparoch (Miiller) 
Hawk Owl 

Plate 55 

Strix caparoch Miiller. Natursyst. Suppl. 1 776. 69 
Surnia funerea DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 21, fig. 19 
Surnia ulula caparoch. A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 177. No. 377* 
surnia, Mod. Gr., cjpvtov, the European Tawny owl; iUula, Lat., a kind of owl, 
from ululare, to howl; caparoch, name given by natives of Hudson bay to this bird, 
applied by Brisson in 1760 

Description. No ear tufts ; tail long and rounded, feet densely feathered, 
size medium. Upper parts bistre brown, spotted with white; wings and tail 
barred with white; under parts white, regularly and narrowly barred with 
reddish brown; face white bordered with blackish; eyelids, loral bristles 
and nuchal band blackish; eyes and bill yellow. 

Length 15-16; extent 32-34; wing 9; tail 7. 

Distribution. This bird, the Nearctic subspecies of S. ulula, breeds 
from British Columbia, Montana and Ungava northward to the limit of trees, 
and winters as far south as Nebraska, Indiana and Rhode Island. In New 
York, especially in the northern counties, it is not rare as a winter visitant, 
but not so common as the Snowy owl. Of 23 New York records before 
me I is from Kings county (1863), i from Saratoga (1888), 3 from Onon- 
daga, I from Oneida (1885), 2 from Monroe (1889), 2 from Orieans, i 
from Ontario, i from Yates (1875), i from Niagara, 2 from Cayuga, 4 
from Lewis, and 4 from St Lawrence. These are nearly all reported as 
" winter " or " November " specimens. Doctor Merriam records 2 defi- 
nitely — Lowville, October 24, 1877, and November 16, 1877. Mr Ashbury 
reports 2 males. Conquest, November 27, 1902. 



128 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

In habits the Hawk owl is the most diurnal of the family. It is 
usually seen watching for its prey from some exposed perch and, when 
disturbed, pitches downward and flies rapidly away over the tops of the 
grass or bushes, gliding abruptly upward when alighting. Its note is 
" a shrill cry uttered generally when the bird is on the wing " (Fisher). 

Speotyto cunicularia hypogaea (Bonaparte) 

Burrowing Owl 

Strix hypogaea Bonaparte. Amer. Orn. 1825. 1:72 

Speotyto cunicularia hypogaea. A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 
p. 177. No. 378 

spedtyto, Gr., a-so?, cave, and tutw, a hoot owl; cunicul&ria, Lat., a burrower; hypo- 
gaea, Lat.,=Gr. uxo-j-sto?, underground 

Description. Small; no ear tufts; 
legs long and scantily feathered; feet bare 
except for a few bristles. Upper parts 
grayish brown profusely spotted with 
white; under parts whitish spotted with 
brown in broken bars. 

Length 9.5 inches; extent 23; wing 
6.5-7- 

Distribution. The little burrowing 
owl is purely an accidental visitant in 
New York. There is only one record of 
its occurrence, a specimen taken in New 
York City, and reported in Forest & 
Stream 5, 4, August 12, 1875. It had 
wandered far from its home, for the 
species inhabits the Western States 
Burrowing ovv'.. Speotyto cunicularia hypo- from Britlsh Columbia and Manitoba 

gaea (Bonaparte). From specimen in Am. M us. Nat. 

Hist. J nat. size south to Loulsiaua and Panama. It 

lives mostly in the burrows of Prairie dogs and other rodents, but the 
subspecies which lives in southern Florida is said to excavate its own 
nesting holes. 




BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



139 




Carolina piroquet. Con u rops is c a r o 1 i n e n s i s (Linnaeus). From Andahon, BirJs 0/ A merica 

Order F»SITTACI 

Parrots, Macaws, Paroquets etc. 

Conuropsis carolinensis (Linnaeus) 

Carolina Paroquet 

Psittacus carolinensis Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. lo. 1758. 1:97 
Caprimulgus carolinensis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 33. Extralimital 
Conuropsis carolinensis. A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 179. No. 382 
conuropsis, Gr., xwvoi;, cone, oupdt, tail, Si^ts, appearance; carolinensis, of Carolina 



130 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Description. Tail long and wedge-shaped, the feathers tapering; 
face more completely feathered than in most parrots; bill very stout and 
broadly rounded; tarsi very short; wings pointed. Color green; head 
and neck yellow; face orange red; bill whitish. 

Length 12. 5-13. 5; extent 21-23; wing 7-8; tail 6-7. 

Distribution. The Carolina paroquet formerly inhabited the eastern 
United States from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, westward to 
eastern Colorado and Texas. Now it is restricted to a few localities in 
Florida, the continued persecution of plumage hunters, bird catchers, 
fruit growers and " sportsmen " having brought it already to the verge 
of extermination. In New York State this bird is only of historic interest. 
Audubon in his Birds of America records it "as far northeast as Lake 
Ontario " (vol. 4, p. 309), and DeKay mentions the appearance of a flock 
of Paroquets in winter, 1795, about 25 miles northwest of Albany (see 
reference above). 

Order COCCYGES 

Cuckoos, Kingfishers etc. 

Family CUCULIDA.E 

Cuckoos 

Zygodactylous, the fourth toe being permanently reversed; palate 
desmognathous, basipterygoids wanting; two carotids; two intestinal coeca; 
ambiens, accessory femorocaudal, semitendinosus and its accessory present; 
oil gland bare; feathers without af tershafting ; tail feathers usually 10 in 
number; spinal feather tract forked in the scapular region. 

Cuckoos are famous alike for their migratory habits, loud explosive 
voices and the custom of depositing their eggs in the nests of other birds. 
This parasitic nature, however, is strictly characteristic only of several 
Old World species, especially the European Cuckoo, our native Americans 
rarely being guilty of the practice. The family is cosmopolitan in dis- 
tribution, but of the 150 or more species, only 2 are found within the limits 
of New York State. These cuckoos are quite distinctive in appearance. 
Their long slim forms and soft unmarked colors, as well as the gently 
curved beaks and long rounded tails, furnish such an individual appearance 
that they at once impress even the casual observer as unusual. Our 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK I3I 

cuckoos build nests of their own, in tangles or thick bushes near the ground, 
although their architecture is rather loose and straggling, and the interior 
of the nest only slightly hollowed, so that the eggs rest upon it as on a 
small platform. The eggs are usually deposited at intervals, so that young 
birds and fresh eggs may sometimes be found in the nest at the same 
time. This practice of laying at intervals might readily be conceived as 
the beginning of the parasitic habits of some species, and even our native 
cuckoos occasionally drop their eggs in the nests of other birds, as has 
been reported by several New York observers. Personally, I have rarely 
found cuckoos' eggs in other birds' nests, excepting that the eggs of the 
Yellow-billed species I have found in the nest of the Black-billed cuckoo. 
The economic value of cuckoos can not be questioned. Of all our 
native birds they seem the most addicted to caterpillar diet, even choosing 
the hairy or spiny species, such as the web worms that are shunned by 
many of our insectivorous birds. They undoubtedly furnish the best 
means of holding in check outbreaks of leaf -eating larvae in the thickets 
and shrubbery which border our orchards and gardens, and so prevent 
them from spreading to cultivated trees. It is unfortunate that these 
birds are not more abundant, but their numbers might be increased by 
offering them suitable tangles and thickets in which to make their nests 
at the comers of our farms and cultivated fields. An account of the food 
of cuckoos and their value to agriculture is found in Bulletin 9, Biological 
Survey, United States Department of Agriculture. 

Coccyzus americanus americanus (Linnaeus) 
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 

Plate SS 

Cuculus americanus Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. i:iii 
Coccyzus americanus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 194, %• 30 
Coccyzus americanus americanus. A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 

p. 181. No. 387 

coccyzus, Gr., xo5ix.ui;o?, presumable noun corresponding with the verb xoxxut^w, to 

cuckoo 

9 



132 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Description. Brownish gray with bronzy luster; under parts dull 
white, throat and thighs tinged with pale ash ; wing feathers largely rufous, 
especially on the inner webs, showing well when wings are spread; tail 
feathers black conspicuously tipped with white, except the central pair which 
are the color of the back; bill blackish, except the greater portion of lower 
mandible which is yellow; feet dark leaden color. 

Length 11.5-12.7 inches; extent 15. 7-17; wing 5.4-5.8; tail 6-6.25; 
bill about i . 

The slender form, long tail, soft satiny brown back and white breast 
of both the cuckoos at once distinguish them from our other birds. The 
present species differs from the Black-billed cuckoo not only in the color 
of the bill, but more especially in the cinnamon-rufous color of the wings 
and the blackish tail feathers broadly tipped with white — marks which 
serve to identify it conclusively at some distance, particularly when flying. 

Distribution. The Yellow-billed cuckoo is a fairly common summer 
resident of the Carolinian and Transition zones of New York State, more 
numerous in the southern portion of the State, but entirely absent from 
the Adirondacks and Catskills, except the outskirts and valleys. It arrives 
in the spring from the ist to the loth of May in the southern counties, 
and a few days later in the more northern districts, and disappears again 
between September 20 and October 1 5 to pass the winter in South America. 
Soon after its arrival its call is heard from the copses, hedgerows, orchards, 
swampy thickets and vine-clad hillsides which it chooses to inhabit. 
This call is not so distinctly enunciated as the note of the European 
cuckoo, so perfectly imitated by the well-known cuckoo clocks, but, never- 
theless, of the unmistakable cuckoo quality, consisting of a series of loud 
and explosive gutterals resembling the syllables kuk-kuk, kuk-kuk, repeated 
many times and ending with the syllables kyow, kyow, repeated from two 
to six times. Occasionally it utters a low, somewhat liquid coo, coo, coo, 
coo, resembling the note of the Least bittern. The former call may be 
heard for a long distance, but it is often very difficult to determine either 
how far away it really is or in what direction. 

Except for its loud call this bird is very unobtrusive in habits. One 
is rarely aware of its presence except by a passing shadow or the rustle 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



133 



of a leaf as it alights, or as a slim, soft colored shape glides noiselessly into 
the tangle beside one, or as it sits sedately among the foliage peering about 
for some luckless insect. This and the next species are our only birds 
that seem to be really fond of hairy caterpillars and they may often be 
found seated beside their tents, or quietly pursuing them among the branches 
and swallowing them by scores. From 3 to 4 dozens of caterpillars^ 
whether smooth or hairy, seem to be a full meal for a cuckoo, and as they 



-» . > » 


'\ 


,-..,*»■, :>_ 




^ 


Lt»-. J^ 


-y 




r 





Photo by Clarence F. Stone 
Yellow-billed cuckoo's nest with eggs and young 

need at least two meals each day, it is easy to see that they render untold 
service to the agriculturist. 

The Cuckoo's nest is placed among the denser foliage of an apple 
tree, a small shrub, or a tangle of vines, from 2 to 10 feet from the ground. 
It is a rude platform of sticks, nearly flat, lined with grasses, leaves and 
dry catkins. The eggs, varying from 3 to 7 in number, are deposited at 
intervals of 2 to 4 days, beginning from May 20 to June 15, but occasionally 
nests with eggs are found as late as the middle of August. Rarely this 



134 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Cuckoo lays her eggs in nests of the next species or of the Robin and Cat- 
bird, thus showing some sUght approximation to the notorious habit of 
the European cuckoo. The eggs are eUiptical in shape, pale bluish green 
in color, and average about 1.20 by .90 inches in size. Frequently nests 
are found containing at the same time young birds, partially incubated 
eggs and perfectly fresh ones. 

Coccyzus erythrophthalmus (Wilson) 
Black-billed Cuckoo 

Plate 58 

Cuculus erythrophthalmus Wilson. Amer. Om. 1811. 4:16. pi. 28, 

fig. 2 
Coccyzus erythrophthalmus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 195, 

fig- 31 

A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 182. 
No. 388 
erythrophthalmus, Or., 'epuGpo;, red, i'^^ak'^ic,, eye, referring to the red eyelids (the 
eye itself, however, is not red) 

Description. Upper parts soft grayish brown tinged with bronzy 
or greenish; under parts white, somewhat tinged with bufify on throat; tail 
feathers narrowly tipped with white, and with a narrow sub terminal 
blackish space; bill black, bluish at base of lower mandible; eyelids red; 
iris dark brown; feet leaden bluish. 

This species is readily distinguished from the preceding by the color 
of the bill, wings and tail, both the latter being of the prevailing color of 
the upper parts. 

Length 11. 5-12. 7 inches; extent 16-17. 5; wing 5.2-5.7; tail 6.25-7; 
bill .97. 

Distribution. The Black-billed cuckoo is a fairly common summer 
resident of New York, and is generally distributed except in the colder 
portions of the State (Canadian zone), which it does not penetrate, but 
is commoner than the preceding species about the borders and in the valleys 
of the Adirondack district. In western New York also it is slightly 
commoner than the Yellow-billed cuckoo, but in the Carolinian zone 
scarcely outntimbers that species. It arrives from the ist to the loth of 
May in the lower Hudson valley, and from the loth to the 20th in the 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 1 35 

colder districts. In the fall it disappears between the loth of September 
and the 12th of October, to pass the winter in South America. 

Habits. In habits it is very similar to the preceding species, but its 
voice is much softer, " less wooden," and its long call is introduced by a 
bubbling or gurgling note, and the cow or kyow notes are connected; while 
the short call sounds more like kuk, kick, kuk than like the corresponding 
coo, coo, coo of the Yellow-bill. Around the author's camp on Canandaigua 
lake the call of this bird is commonly heard at night, especially when the 
moon is up, and Mr Gerald H. Thayer writes that near Mt Monadnock 
he has frequently heard it at night while the bird was flying about in the 
air at a great elevation. 

Its nest is of similar location and construction to that of the Yellow- 
bill, but is more compactly built and is often lined with moss and pieces 
of bark. The eggs are similar in number and in manner of deposition, 
but are smaller, more oval in shape, and of a deeper greenish blue color, 
measuring from .90 to 1.18 (average 1.15) by ."/^ to .90 (average .84) in 
breadth. As in the case of the Yellow-billed cuckoo, they are occasionally 
found in the nests of other birds. 

Family A.UCEDIXIDA.K 

Kingfishers 

Feet small, syndactylous, the third and fourth toes coherent; inner 
toe short, more or less rudimentary; tarsus very short; tibia small, bare 
near the lower extremity ; bill long, deeply cleft; wings long; primaries 10, 
fifth cubital present; tail feathers 12; no ambiens muscle; notches of the 
stemiun 4 in niunber; 2 carotids; tongue rudimentary; oil gland tufted; 
no aftershaft; no coeca. 

This large family, like the cuckoos, is cosmopolitan in distribution, 

consisting of about 200 species, mostly found in the eastern hemisphere, 

especially in Australia. They are largely birds of bright or conspicuous 

plumage, harsh voice, solitary habits, piscivorous or insectivorous diet, 

and nest in holes, the insectivorous species often nesting in hollow trees. 

The eggs are several in number, white and broadly oval in shape. The 



136 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

young are bare when hatched and long cared for in the nest like those of 
perching birds. 

In economic value, kingfishers can not compare with the cuckoos, 
to which they are somewhat related. They destroy a few aquatic insects 
which are unquestionably injurious in habits, like the water tiger or larvae 
of the Dytiscus and the larvae of other carnivorous insects, which do injury 
to the young of fish and frogs ; but the principal portion of the Kingfisher's 
diet consists of small fishes, not only the more sluggish varieties like the 
common minnows and chubs of our warmer waters, but even brook trout 
and young bass often fall victims to the skill of this unrivaled fisherman. 
Only one species is known in the eastern United States, although the Texas 
Kingfisher has been reported from the vicinity of New York City. The 
latter was undoubtedly an escape from captivity. 

Ceryle alcyon (Linnaeus) 
Belted Kingfisher 

Plate s8 

Alcedo alcyon Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:115 

DeKay. Zool. of N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 45, fig. 40 and 41 
Ceryle alcyon A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 183. No. 390 
ciryle, Gr., xT)pvXo?, kingfisher; alcyon, aXxutiv, halcyon or kingfisher 

Description. Head crested, bill very long and stout, tail short and broad, 
wings long and pointed, tarsus very short, front toes partially united to 
form a fleshy sole. Upper parts and a broad band across upper breast and 
the sides bluish gray; rest of under parts white; a broad white collar; wing and 
tail feathers blackish, spotted or broken-barred with white; a white spot 
in front of eye ; the female has a rufous band across upper belly and along 
the sides. 

Length 12. 5-14. 75 inches; extent 22-23; wing 6-6.5; ^^^ 3-6-4.2; 
tarsus .44; bill 2; weight 5-6 ounces. 

Distribution. The Belted kingfisher is a common siunmer resident, 
and breeds in every county of New York State. Both along the coast, 
in the Hudson valley and in western New York it is also a winter resident 
in localities where there is open water, though much less common than in 
the summer. The migratory birds arrive in different parts of the State 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 1 37 

from March 20 to April 10, and the greater number disappear from October 
20 to November 20. The species winters from Massachusetts, Illinois 
and British Columbia southward to Northern South America; and breeds 
from the gulf coast northward to about the limit of trees. 

The haunts of the Kingfisher are the lake shore, the river, the pond 
and brook. Wherever there is water with finny inhabitants this solitary 
fisherman makes his appearance with the advent of springtime, and seldom 
is found far from these localities except when crossing from one stream 
to another or when going to and from the nesting site which is frequently 
in the side of some gravel pit or stone quarry half a mile or more from the 
fishing grounds. His favorite perch is on a dead limb, spile or boathouse 
overlooking some pool well stocked with minnows, whence he darts with 
sudden plunge after his unsuspecting prey as it approaches the surface. 
Frequently he hovers in the air until he sights a favorable mark for his 
skill. I have examined hundreds of fishes taken by this bird, and can not 
find that it prefers any special species, except that the various kinds of 
minnows, chubs, dace, young suckers, trout and perch are taken oftener 
than such spiny species as sunfish and bullheads. It also feeds to some 
extent on aquatic insects, small frogs, crayfish and salamanders. When 
the Kingfisher rises from the water with his catch he utters a tritunphant 
rattle and shaking the water from his pltimage seeks his favorite stand, 
erects his crest, tilts his tail, proceeds to stun or beat the life out of his 
squirming victim against the perch, and then swallows it head first. Most 
of the fish captured by the Kingfisher do not exceed 3 or 4 inches in length, 
but on a few occasions I have seen them try to devour brook trout 6 inches 
long. One of the duties entrusted to me at the age of 10 to 15 years was 
to free my father's trout pond from the scourge of kingfishers. It was 
supposed that the Kingfisher had an insatiable appetite, for he was always 
at the pond devouring the fingerling trout or the minnows which were 
useful as food for the larger fish. But I soon found that, although the 
Kingfisher has a good appetite, it is not the appetite of the Kingfisher 
that is inexhaustible, but the stock of kingfishers. For, no matter how 



138 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



unerringly I did my duty as public executioner, there was always a King- 
fisher carrying on the war against the fingerlings whenever I arose from. 
my night's rest or returned from a day's excursion. Sometimes two 
kingfishers were on the pond at the same time, but they were always more 
or less hostile to each other except in the case of parent Kingfisher and young 
which often came together just after the young were out of the nest. Many a 
time I have been near this trout pond when a new Kingfisher arrived. They 
came mostly by two routes, either up the brook at a moderate elevation, 




Young kingfishers 



Photo by James H. Milbr 



or flying overland at a height of lOO to 300 feet. When coming in 
from the overland journey they rushed down in a wide, sweeping course, 
uttering an unusually loud, shrill, rattling scream, settled on some elevated 
perch, erected to the utmost their long crests, repeated sotto voce the 
announcement of arrival or discovery, tilted the short tail to its utmost, 
bowed with a rather ungainly sweep at the pond, and forthwith began 
to consider the prosoects of fishing. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 1 39 

Soon after arrival from the south kingfishers pair and begin to excavate 
a burrow in the bank of some stream, sandpit, gravel pit or stone quarry. 
The opening is about 31/2 inches in diameter and is commonly placed well 
up toward the top of the bank. From the opening the hole rises slightly 
as it passes backward, and after penetrating the bank to a depth varying 
from 4 to 8 feet the end is enlarged into a roomy chamber of oval shape, 
about 8 or 10 inches in diameter. Here the Kingfisher forms her nest of 
fish bones and scales ejected from her -stomach. The eggs are usually 
5 to 8 in number, similar to those of a domestic pigeon in size and shape, 
averaging 1.34 by 1.05 inches. When the old Kingfisher has commenced 
to incubate the eggs, she will usually defend them against intruders, as 
many a small boy who has tried to unearth her treasures can testify from 
the wounds which her daggerlike bill has inflicted. 

Order FICI 

Family PIC1DA.E 

Woodpeckers 

Bill chisel-shaped; tongue very long and extensible, usually barbed 
at the tip and the base prolonged along the hyoid bone, 2 long rope- 
like extensions of which reach upward and forward over the skull 
to near the base of the bill; tail feathers stiff and 12 in number; tarsi 
scutellate in front and reticulate on the sides and rear; toes scutellate on 
top, their basal joints short; 2 anterior toes; 2 posterior toes; the claws 
long, curved and sharp; scansorial in habit; flight undulating; voice 
usually sharp and loud; food mostly boring insects, fruits and nuts; nest 
excavated in trees; eggs pure white, rather broadly ovate; young bare 
and helpless. 

New York woodpeckers are so clearly distinguishable from any birds 
to which they are related that everyone knows this family, although in 
other parts of the world they are more closely related to other picarian 
families. It is safe to say that more people can distinguish woodpeckers 
than the members of any other family unless it be the Owl. 

The following summary of the food of woodpeckers is collected from 
Bulletin 37 of the Biological Survey, United States Department of 
Agriculture. 



I40 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



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BIRDS OF NEW YORK 14! 

Dryobates villosus villosus (Linnaeus) 
Hairy Woodpecker 

Plate 59 

Picus villosus Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 12. 1766. 1:175 

DeKay. Zool. of N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 186, fig. 32 
Dryobates villosus villosus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 185. 
No. 393 
dryobates, Gr. Spu?, oak or tree, and PiTTfi?, treader; villdsus, Lat., hairy, villous 

Description. Colors almost exactly like the Downy woodpecker, 
but the outer tail feathers plain white, without spots ; larger, nearly the size 
of a Robin. 

Length 9-9.75 inches; extent 15-16; wing 4.5-5; tail 3-3.6; bill i. 2-1.35; 
weight 3 ounces. 

Distribution. The Hairy woodpecker is a resident and breeds through- 
out New York State. In the wooded districts it is as common, or even 
commoner, than the Downy woodpecker, but in the thickly settled country 
is uncommon through the summer months, and very rarely breeds except 
in woodlands. In the fall, winter and early spring this species frequently 
appears in the orchards and shade trees, doing efficient service against 
borers, beetles, cocoons and other enemies of the trees. At this season, 
like his smaller relative, he partakes to some extent of wild fruits and nuts. 
The call of this woodpecker is much louder and heavier than the Downy's, 
though similar in other respects; but more like the syllables " huip, huip " 
(Bendire). Its " whinney " or rattling call is written trriii, trriii. The 
drumming of this species is " shorter and louder with a greater interval 
between the strokes " (Brewster). Its flight is deeply undulating and 
strong, but rarely protracted. When he alights on a tree infested with 
boring larvae, the vigor with which he hammers the trunk and hitches in 
short hops up the trunk or sideways or downward, examining every cranny 
and making the chips fly with tireless energy, impresses one with his being, 
excepting the Pileated woodpecker, our most competent woodchopper of 
the family. 

The Hairy woodpecker begins to excavate its nesting hole early in 
the season, both sexes taking part in the operation. The hole is placed 



142 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

rather high, usually from 30 to 60 feet, and is sometimes excavated in 

living trees. The opening is perfectly circular, about 2 inches in diameter, 

leading backward 2 or 3 inches through the solid wood, then downward 

for 8 to 16 inches, where the cavity is enlarged and a few chips left on the 

bottom as a bed for the eggs. These vary from 3 to 5 in number, usually 4, 

pure white, and average .95 by .73 inches. In this State fresh sets have been 

taken from April 25 to May 30. Like all our woodpeckers, this species 

rears only one brood in a season, but if the first set of eggs is destroyed she 

will lay again. 

Dryobates villosus leucomelas (Boddacrt) 

Northern Hairy Woodpecker 

Larger and lighter colored than villosus. 

Length 10.3-11; wing 5-5.4; tail 3.8; bill i.3-i-5- 

This subspecies breeds in the Boreal Zone; in winter entering the northern border 
of the United States. Many specimens of Hairy woodpecker taken in Northern New 
York, especially winter birds, arc on the border line between this form and typical 
villosus , some being well within the limits of leucomelas . 

Dryobates pubescens medianus (Swainson) 
Downy Woodpecker 

Plate 59 

Picus (Dendrocopus) medianus Swainson. Fauna Bor. Am. 183 1 (1832). 

2:308 
Picus pubescens DeKay. Zool. of N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 187, fig. 35 
Dryobates pubescens medianus A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 

p. 187. No. 394c 

pubescens, Lat., downy, pubescent; medidnus, middle 

Description. Our smallest woodpecker. Color black and white; white 
stripes on side of the head and a median white band down the back; wings 
and wing coverts spotted with white; crown of the head plain black; outer 
tail feathers white slightly spotted or barred with black; under parts plain 
dull white; male has scarlet occipital patch. 

Length 6.5-7 inches; extent 12-12. 4; wing 3.5-4; tail 2.2-2.9; bill 
.7-.8; weight 1.5 ounces. 

Distribution. This species is generally distributed in New York State, 
being a permanent resident in all counties, our commonest woodpecker, 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK I43 

or, in some sections, perhaps, surpassed in numbers by the Flicker. In the 
more thickly settled portions of the State it is at least seven times more 
numerous than the Hairy woodpecker in summer and three times as numer- 
ous in fall and winter. In the Adirondacks, however, it barely equals that 
species in numbers. In the nesting season it is found in orchards, shade 
trees and fringes of trees along streams and fence rows as well as in the 
woods, and breeds oftentimes within the Umits of our villages and cities. 

Habits. The little Downy is the least suspicious of our woodpeckers, 
coming fearlessly to the suet or bag of scraps placed on " the birds' lunch 
counter " or nailed to the tree or window sill for his accommodation. He 
can even be taught to take food from the hand. When one approaches 
him while at work, he merely hitches a few feet farther up the tree or edges 
around the trunk, occasionally stealing a glance at the intruder to satisfy 
himself that no harm is intended. When startled he flies away with undu- 
lating flight, uttering a sharp metallic peek "resembling the clink of a 
stonecutter's chisel." Occasionally this note is rapidly repeated in a long 
rattling call, suggesting the " whinney of a diminutive horse." The 
industrious tap, tap, or peck, peck of his bill as he searches the bark or 
rotten wood for grubs and beetles is heard more continuously than his 
vocal performances, and even in the mating season he attracts his mate 
and announces his supremacy over some chosen sphere of influence by 
drumming with his beak on some hard dry limb or resonant piece of bark 
rather than by trusting his fortunes to the allurements of his voice. This 
instrumental music of the Downy woodpecker is a long, rolling tattoo of 
considerable carrying power, and by the inexperienced is supposed to 
arise from some creature much larger than this little bird, but it is by no 
means so big a noise as the corresponding performance of the Hairy wood- 
pecker, the Sapsucker, or the Flicker. 

During the winter these woodpeckers do not associate with their own 
kind but are usually found accompanied by nuthatches, chickadees and 
Brown creepers. John Burroughs even relates how his nearest Downy 
neighbor destroyed the sleeping apartment of the companion which tried 
to make friends with him. This undoubtedly was due, not to Mr Downy's 



144 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

special aversion to feminine society, but to his selfish desire to keep all 
the food in the immediate vicinity for his own consumption — a form of 
rivalry which is very common among birds and is the rule, at least in the 
nesting season, with those species which do not travel considerable distances 
in search of food. 

This species should not be confused with the Sapsucker, for the 
farmer who permits its destruction is sacrificing one of his best friends. 
The Downy destroys immense ntimbers of bark-boring beetles and their 
larvae, the cocoons of moths, the larvae of gall insects, ants and wood 
borers of all kinds. On several occasions I have noted them destroying 
the cocoons of Cecropia and Prometheus moths. In fall and winter he 
varies his diet to some extent with nuts and wild fruits, but he never has 
been found a nuisance by the fruit grower and does not injure trees by 
tapping them for sap and the inner bark, as he has been accused by mistake 
for the Sapsucker. 

The nesting hole of the Downy woodpecker is excavated in a stub or 
a dead limb anywhere in orchards, shade trees and woodlands. I have 
found them at heights varying from 8 to 50 feet from the ground. The 
opening is about i^ inches in diameter and the excavation from 6 to 8 
inches in depth. These nesting holes are begun from late in April to the 
middle of May in different parts of the State, and fresh sets of eggs are 
found from May 2 to June 10. These are 4 to 6 in number and pure shiny 
white in color, of a pinkish tinge when fresh owing to the contents showing 
through the shell, oval in shape, and measure about .78 by .60 inches. 

Picoides arcticus (Swainson) 
Arctic Three-toed Woodpecker 

Plate 60 

Picus (Apternus) arcticus Swainson. Fauna Bor. Am. 1831(1832). 2:313 
Picus arcticus DeKay. Zool. of N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 190, fig. 36 
Picoides arcticus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 189. No. 400 
picoides, Lat., picus, woodpecker, and Gr., elSo?, likeness; drcticus, arctic 

Description. Upper parts black, with steel blue gloss; wing feathers 
bar-spotted with white; outer 2 pairs of tail feathers mostly white; white 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 1 45 

stripe from nostril down sides of head and neck; throat, breast and belly 
white; sides and flanks barred with black; crown patch bright yellow; only 
3 toes, 2 in front and i behind. Female lacks the yellow crown patch, but 
young males, even fledglings, have it. 

Length 9.5-10.2 inches; extent 14-15; wing 4.9-5.3; tail 3.4-3.6; 
bill 1. 2-1. 3. 

Distribution. This species is confined to the spruce and balsam belt 
of the Canadian zone during the breeding season and is permanently 
resident, but during the late fall and winter wanders some distance from 
its normal habitat. It has been recorded from TuUy, Syracuse, Chau- 
tauqua county. Sag Harbor, Ithaca, Sennett, Cattaraugus county, Orleans 
county, Saratoga, Bridgehampton and Poestenkill, the dates ranging 
from October 6 to February 22. It seems to be of commonest occurrence 
in November and December. The only breeding records which are sub- 
stantiated by actual specimens are from the Adirondack wilderness, but 
it has been reported also as breeding in Tioga county near Smithborough, 
and in the higher portions of the Catskills. Throughout the year it is 
fairly common in all portions of the spruce and balsam belt of the Adiron- 
dacks, there ranking next to the Sapsucker and Hairy woodpecker in 
abundance and probably much more plentiful than the American three- 
toed woodpecker and the Downy woodpecker. 

Haunts and habits. The Arctic three-toed woodpecker prefers the 
dark shades of the spruce forests and seldom wanders far from their coverts. 
Its habits resemble those of the Hairy woodpecker, but it is less sprightly 
and to me its voice less sharp, loud and penetrating, a shrill chirk, chirk. 
It seeks its food on the tamarack, spruce and balsam, devouring the larvae 
of the boring beetles which are found just beneath the dead bark and in 
the decaying wood. Of all the specimens which I have examined, none 
contained any vegetable food; but in the fall and winter it subsists, to a 
certain extent, on berries and seeds, the reports of the Biological Survey 
showing that less than 10 per cent of its food consists of small wild fruit. 
It unquestionably keeps in check the boring beetles which attack all dying 
timber and so, by reducing their numbers, protects the trees which are 



146 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

still vigorous, as well as the dead timber which is still standing. This 
species begins to mate in April and early May. The nesting hole is 
excavated in tamarack, balsam or spruce about 20 to 40 feet from the ground 
and is completed about the loth of May. Doctor Merriam found them 
from 4 to 15 feet above water in the flooded swamps of the Fulton chain. 
From specimens in the Smithsonian Institution collected by Doctor Ralph 
and Egbert Bagg, it is evident that the eggs are usually laid from May 18 
to June 2. They are white like those of the Hairy woodpecker and measure 
about .96 by .73 inches. The nests which our party found in Essex county 
were situated both in swampy tracts and on the simimits of wooded ridges. 
One nest found by Messrs Achilles and Fuller on the summit of the Bartlett 
ridge was carefully measured. The external diameter of the hole was 
2 by if inches; its greatest depth, 9I inches. The distance straight back 
from the entrance to the rear wall, 5f ; the diameter of the enlargement 
at the bottom, 4!; the opening faced north by northeast. There were 
three young birds in the nest and the remains of a fourth at the bottom, 
a curious circumstance which seemed to be true of all the nests of the three- 
toed woodpecker which we examined. 

Picoides americanus americanus Brehm 
Three-toed Woodpecker 

Plate 61 

Picoides americanus Brehm. Handbuch Vogel Deutschl. 1831. p. 195 
Picus hirsutus DeKay. Zool. of N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. igi 

Picoides americanus americanus Brehm. A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 
1910. p. 189. No. 401 

Description. Similar to the Black-backed three-toed woodpecker, but 
slightly smaller and the back barred or bar-spotted with white and the crown 
of the female as well as the male spotted or streaked with white, the male's 
crown with yellow patch asinarcticus. 

Length 8.4-9 inches; extent 13-14; wing 4.4-4.6; tail 3-3.7; bill 1-1.25. 

Distribution. This species inhabits the boreal forests of North America 
from Maine, northern New York and northern Minnesota northward to 
central Ungava. In New York it is evidently confined to the Adirondack 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK I47 

forests. I have heard of no specimen taken farther from the spruce belt 
than Waterville, Oneida county. It therefore shares with the Spruce 
grouse, the Canada jay and the Hudsonian chickadee the distinction of 
being one of our perfectly nonmigratory species. Within the spruce and 
balsam forests it is quite uniformly distributed, but is less common than the 
Black-backed woodpecker, evidently about one-half as common as that 
species. It inhabits both the spruce swamps and the mountain sides. 
While making the bird survey of the Mt Marcy district we fovmd this 
species breeding on the slopes of Marcy just above Skylight camp, an 
altitude of 4000 feet, and in the swamp at the Upper Ausable lake at an 
altitude of 2000 feet. In our experience the birds are even less noisy than 
the black-backed species. We could scarcely distinguish them from thai 
species by their call, but Turner (Bendire's Life Histories) mentions only 
a sqitealing note like the Sapsucker's. At that season of the year (July i) 
the old birds were either feeding the young in the nest or leading them from 
tree to tree. They confined their attention almost entirely to tamarack, 
spruce and fir trees and evidently feed principally, if not entirely, upon 
the beetles and their larvae found beneath the dead bark. The nests 
which we found were situated in tamaracks and spruces from 25 to 40 feet 
from the ground and could not be distinguished from nesting holes of the 
black-backed woodpeckers except that on careful measurement they were 
about one-fourth of an inch less in diameter. From the experience of 
Doctor Merriam, their nests are found in spruce, tamarack, pine, balsam 
and cedar in order of preference, about 6 or 7 feet above the water line. 
In the swamps about Sixth and Seventh lakes in Hamilton county, he 
found them mating on the i8th of May at WoodhuU, Oneida county, but 
found the 2nd of June too early for eggs at Sixth lake. In the Smithsonian 
collection I find several sets of eggs taken at Moose river and Sixth lake 
from the 4th to the loth of June. Evidently this is the usual nesting time 
in the Adirondacks. The eggs are 4 in number, slightly smaller than those 
of the black-backed woodpecker, averaging .92 by .70 inches in dimensions. 
10 



148 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



Sphjrrapicus varius varius (Linnaeus) 
Yellow-bellied Sapsiicker 

Plate 62 

Picus varius Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 12. 1766. 1:176 

DeKay. Zool. of N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 188, fig. 38 
Sphyrapicus varius varius A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 190. 

No. 402 

sphyrapicus, Gr. ffyjpa, a hammer, and Lat. picus, a woodpecker; v&rius, Lat., 
variegated 

Description. Male: Crown and throat bright red bordered w^ith black; 
a broad black crescent on the upper breast; upper parts variegated with black 

and yellowish white; a broad stripe of 
white on the wing formed by the white 
ends of the wing coverts; wing feath- 
ers black, bar-spotted with white ; tail 
feathers black, except inner webs of. 
middle pair; upper tail coverts mostly- 
white ; under parts more or less heavily 
tinged with yellow, especially around 
the margin of the black breast shield, 
and the center of the belly; sides 
dingy brownish white, variegated with 
blackish. Female: Throat white in- 
stead of scarlet; crown scarlet in 
old females but black in young ones, 
even through the second summer in 
many specimens; otherwise like 
male. Young: Similar to adult, but 
browner, and lacking the black breast 
shield, and the scarlet on crown 
not showing till late in the first 
autumn. 

Length 8-8.8 inches; extent 15-16; 
wing 5; tail 3; bill i. 

Distribution. The Yellow-bellied 
sapsucker breeds throughout the 
boreal life zone of eastern America from the highlands of Pennsylvania, 
Michigan and Minnesota northward to Quebec, Ungava and Mackenzie, 




Yellow-bellied 



P:. J -s H. Miller 

sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius 
varius (Linnaeus) 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 1 49 

and winters from southern New York and Illinois southward to the gulf 
coast and eastern Mexico. In New York its breeding range is chiefly- 
confined to the Catskills and Adirondacks, but a few breed along the 
southern border of western New York on the highlands near the Pennsyl- 
vania line and in some of the swamps of central and western New York, 
as near Peterboro, Oneida, Potter, Auburn and Boston, but it is rarely 
seen during the nesting season outside the Adirondack and Catskill districts. 
During the migration season, from April i to May 15, this species is one 
of the commonest woodpeckers throughout the greater portion of the State. 
Its arrival from the south, near New York City, dates from April i to 15; 
in western New York, from April 6 to 18. At this season it is frequently 
seen about the shade trees of cities and villages as well as in all groves and 
forests, being ranked as a common transient visitant in nearly every station 
from which we have exhaustive reports. During the migration it is evident 
that the male birds arrive first, for during 15 years of continuous records 
which I have kept with this object in view I have found that male birds 
are the first to be seen each year and no females are seen for several days 
after the first males arrive. Then the white-throated females begin to 
appear and become relatively more nvmierous until they outnumber the 
males during the first two weeks of May, and, at the last of the migration 
season, which usually closes by the 20th of May, only female birds are 
to be found and frequently these are the black-crowned females referred 
to in the description above, which are evidently the young females of the 
preceding season. In the warmer portions of New York the sapsucker 
often remains throughout the winter, especially in the region immediately 
surrounding New York City where winter records are not infrequent. 
The fall migration is mostly accomplished between September 20 or 
October 10, and November i, the time of greatest abundance usually 
being the middle of October. 

Haunts and habits. The Sapsucker is the most abundant woodpecker 
throughout the Adirondack region. While camping in the North Woods it 
is a common experience to be awakened at daybreak by the loud drumming 
of this species from some neighboring birch tree. He selects a dry branch, 



150 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

or better, some hard dry strip of birch bark which has a hollow space 
beneath, and mounting himself securely upon it, stretches backward to 
his full extent and lets fly his head and neck with all the force of his con- 
centrated muscles, his beak flying with such rapidity as to be practically 
invisible. The rolling tattoo produced by this performance resounds 
across the lake and valley for hundreds of rods. While we were encamped 
on the shores of the Upper Ausable we could hear at least a dozen sap- 
suckers from our camping site, all drtmiming to hurry on the sunrise. 
This practice seemed to continue well on into the summer, even after the 
young were nearly ready to leave the nest. While the Sapsucker is migrat- 
ing through portions of the State which are not within its breeding range, 
his dnmiming is rarely heard but he is frequently seen about our ever- 
greens and shade trees, and his snarling or squealing note is often heard, 
especially when chasing rivals away from the trees which he has selected for 
sugar-making. At this season of the year he seems to care little for insect 
fare. He bores numerous rows of holes through the bark of our sap trees, 
sometimes entirely riddling the trunk and causing the sap to flow in such 
abundance as to destroy the vigor of the tree. One frequently finds 
mountain ash trees, pines, black spruces, iron woods and birches so weakened 
by the boring of this species that they never recover from his attack. The 
object of the Sapsucker in boring these holes, as his name signifies, is to 
secure the resinous or sugar-laden sap and I have frequently watched a 
Sapsucker which had tapped at least a dozen trees in the same immediate 
vicinity, each one of which he visited in turn, lapping up the sap from all 
the holes with his brushy tongue and then passing on to the next by merely 
casting himself backward from the trunk and soaring with one swoop to 
the next tree without a stroke of his wing, working up this trunk and passing 
on to the next in the same way until he had completed the loop. As the 
spring advances and the weather becomes warm, the sap often begins to 
ferment. I suspect this is the reason that the Sapsucker is so frequently 
found stupefied by feeding on too great an abundance of the liquid. On 
several occasions I have seen a Sapsucker so gorged with fermented sap 
that he allowed himself to be picked up in the hand and I have seen one 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK I5I 

alight on the clothing of a bird student and climb up his outstretched arm 
without seeming to realize that he was on a man instead of a tree. It is 
evident they become tipsy on the sap in the same manner that thrushes 
frequently become stupefied by feeding upon fermented fruit. The Sap- 
sucker devoiu-s also the soft cambium layer which lies just beneath the 
bark of trees and in this way, where its rows of holes are close together, 
practically girdles the tree and effects its destruction. It may be said in 
partial defense of the Sapsucker, however, that he feeds also on the insects 
which are attracted to the sap that is evaporating from the hole and in 
this way destroys great numbers of forest pests; but, on the whole, he must 
be regarded as a doubtful, if not even an injurious, species. In the late 
summer and fall his food consists mostly of wild fruit and nuts, but during 
the nesting season while he is rearing his young, his food is largely of boring 
larvae and beetles. The nest of the Sapsucker is usually excavated in a 
dead tree or stub about 25 feet from the ground. In the Adirondacks 
I noticed that they seemed to prefer beeches, birches and maples for nest- 
ing sites. The nest is almost always built under the shelter of the forest 
and not in clearings, as is the case with red-headed woodpeckers and flickers. 
The hole is i .5 inches in diameter at the entrance, and 6 to 1 8 inches deep. 
The eggs are 4 to 5, sometimes 6, in number, pure white in color and 
average .88 by .67 inches in dimensions. 

Phloeotomus pileatus abieticola (Bangs) 
Northern Pileated Woodpecker 

Plate 63 

Ceophloeus pileatus abieticola Bangs. Auk, April 1898. 15:176 
Picus pileatus DeKay. Zool. of N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 184, fig. 39 
Phloeotomus pileatus abieticola A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 

p. 192. No. 40sa 

phloeotomus, Gr., i?>>oto?, the inner bark of trees, and tI(i.vw, to hew; piledtus, Lat., 
wearing a cap (the pileus, shaped Uke the half of an egg) 

Description. Very large, bill long and heavy, head crested; colors 
chiefly black and white; upper parts in general and all the under parts 
of body dull black; throat and line from bill on each side of the neck and 



152 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

breast, lining of the wings and the base of the larger wing feathers, white 
more or less tinged with yellowish. Male: Entire upper part of the head, 
including the pointed occipital crest and the " mustaches," bright red. 
Female and young have only the rear portion of the head red, the frontlet 
and the mustaches being blackish. 

Length 18-19. 5 inches; extent 29-30.5; wing 9-10; tail 7-7.5; bill 
2.25-2.65. 

Distribution. The Northern pileated woodpecker is found throughout 
the forested regions of North America from northeastern British Columbia, 
southern Mackenzie, central Quebec and Newfoundland, southward along 
the mountain ranges as far as New Mexico and Carolina. 

In New York it was formerly rather generally distributed throughout 
the State, but at the present time it is almost entirely confined to the 
evergreen forests of the Adirondacks and CatskiUs. A few are still found 
in the highlands along the Pennsylvania border and in various localities 
throughout central and western New York where there are mixed forests 
of unusual extent. During 25 years at Springville in southern Erie county, 
I have met with only 4 specimens of this bird. Mr Savage and Mr Reinecke 
of Buffalo have had a similar experience with it in Erie, Chautauqua and 
Cattaraugus counties. Mr Higgins reports that it still breeds in the 
wilder portions of Cortland county and there seems to be some evidence 
that it is tending to reestablish itself in various localities where it had 
disappeared for many years. It is by no means common in the Adiron- 
dacks or the Catskills, but every day's journey of 10 to 15 miles through 
the Adirondack wilderness will almost surely bring one past the native 
"haunts of one or more pairs of these birds. More than any of our native 
species, with the possible exception of the Spruce grouse and some of the 
larger hawks, this bird disappears with the destruction of the forests, and it 
probably will never be reestablished in the State except in the larger ever- 
green forests of the Canadian zone. It is a strictly resident species, no 
north and south migration being manifest, but, like all species of wood- 
peckers, it wanders about more or less in the fall and winter in search of 
favorable food supply. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK I53 

Habits. The Pileated woodpecker when undisturbed in his native 
haunts of the hemlock, spruce and balsam forests, is a very conspicuous 
bird. Almost as large as a crow, but with the usual deeply undulating flight 
of the woodpecker, he darts from tree to tree seeking for dead branches 
and dead stubs, beneath the bark of which are concealed the wood-boring 
larvae which constitute his principal food. A dead stub of hemlock or 
spruce is frequently seen which has been peeled by the heavy strokes of 
this giant woodpecker's bill, the strips of bark 6 to 8 inches in length, or 
even longer, lying scattered about the tree for several rods, and with 
cavities in the stub frequently dug in search of grubs 2 or 3 feet in length 
and several inches in depth. As a woodchopper he is unsurpassed among 
the members of this family. During the fall and winter he resorts to 
a partial diet of mast and wild fruit, but he can not be said to do the 
least harm to the fruitgrower or the agriculturist but, on the contrary, is 
beneficial by destroying immense quantities of ants as well as the larger 
grubs which enter the dead wood and destroy the standing timber. 

While flying from tree to tree he frequently gives voice to a loud cac- 
cac-cac, and during the mating season, like most members of the family, 
he is rather noisy, frequently drumming on dead limbs and uttering a variety 
of flickerlike notes. 

The nesting hole is from 3 to 3I inches in diameter at the entrance 
and extends downward through the solid wood from 12 to 30 inches in 
depth. It is usually constructed in a dead stub from 30 to 60 feet from 
the ground, the height averaging greater than that of any other of our 
native woodpeckers. The eggs are 4 to 5 in number, pure white, and 
average 1.28 by .95 inches in dimensions. New York nesting dates range 
from May 5 to 25. 

It is unfortunate that the large size, loud note, conspicuous black 
and white coloration, and flaming scarlet crest of this bird attract the 
attention of all hunters that visit the forest to such an extent that its num- 
bers are continually diminished almost to the point of extermination. 
This calamity, together with the fact already stated that it disappears 



154 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Math the destruction of the forest, is gradually depriving us of one of the 
most interesting of our native birds. 

Melanerpes erjrthrocephalus (Linnaeus) 
Red-headed Woodpecker 

Plate 62 

Picus erythrocephalus Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:113 

DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1^44. pt 2, p. 185, fig. 34 
Melanerpes erythrocephalus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 192. 

No. 406 

melanerpes, Gr., [J.sXa;, black, and spic^?, creeper; erythrocephalus, epiOpos, red, and 
xef aXrj, head 

Description. The head and neck deep red or crimson; body, wings 
and tail blue-black and white in large areas, as the bird flies the white seeming 
to predominate, but as it clings to the trunk of a tree the back seems mostly- 
black, but still gives the appearance of the three principal colors, red, 
bluish black and white; bill, bluish horn color; iris, brown; feet, bluish gray; 
sexes alike. Young: Grayish where the adults are black and red, during 
the first winter, the grayish of the head gradually replaced by the crimson, 
and the grayish of the back, wings and tail by the black. 

Length 9.3-10 inches; extent 17-18; wing 5.3-5.7; tail 3.21-3.7; 
bill 1.2. 

Distribution. The Red-headed woodpecker is found throughout the 
greater portion of the austral region of North America. Although it was 
formerly common in New England and eastern New York, it is now rare 
in those districts, but still locally plentiful in western New York, as it 
is throughout the Mississippi valley. It must be ranked primarily as 
a summer resident in New York, but in seasons when beech mast and 
chestnuts are abundant this species remains throughout the winter as 
was explained in 1883 by Doctor Merriam. I have noticed the same 
principle to obtain in western New York since the year 1878, but in 
ordinary seasons the Redhead disappears late in October and is not seen 
again until the ist to the loth of May when he arrives from the southern 
states whither he had withdrawn to pass the winter. Even in central 
and western New York this bird is not so uniformly distributed as is the 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 1 55 

Downy woodpecker and unfortunately is becoming less and less common, 
because there are fewer and fewer dead branches for its accommodation; 
but the advent of the telegraph pole has partly saved him in some dis- 
tricts where he otherwise would have disappeared, by furnishing him at 
the same time an outlook from which to pursue winged prey — a habit 
which is rather uncommon in this order of birds — and also a site for a nest. 
In general, one must conclude that this species is decidedly less numerous 
even in western New York than the Flicker or the Downy woodpecker and 
in eastern New, York about as rare as the Hairy woodpecker. In 1905 
our party found it on the outskirts of the Adirondacks and in the region 
of the Black river, so one might say that it is fairly distributed throughout 
the Alleghanian faunal area of New York with the exception of the greater 
portion of the coastal district and the lower Hudson valley. 

Haunts and habits. The Red-headed woodpecker is, more than any 
of our other woodpeckers except the Flicker, a bird of the open. He is 
frequently seen on the dead tops of stubs and trees and on fence posts 
and telegraph poles far from the shelter of the forest, but he is not at home 
upon the ground as the Flicker is and when he alights there in pursuit of 
grasshoppers or other prey he does not hop around like the Flicker but 
immediately flies up again to his station on the fence post or dead stub. 
The preferred home of this woodpecker is in open groves and " slashings " 
and " old bums " and tracts of half-dead forest where the live trees are 
scattered and dead stubs are in abundance. In such places as these he 
is sometimes qtiite common but never rivals the Flicker in abundance about 
our orchards, villages and farmyards. He is not seen chiseling away at 
dead wood or prying behind the bark for wood-boring insects so often 
as the Hairy and Downy woodpeckers, but frequently engages in this kind 
of foraging during the fall and winter, and at this season is also fond of 
nuts and dried fruits and, when they are not to be found, usually wanders 
to a milder climate or to a locality where they are plentiful. Next to 
the Robin and Cherry bird this species is the most complained of by the 
grower of small fruits. On many occasions I have been surprised to see 



156 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

the Red-headed woodpecker appear in a cherry tree when the first cherries 
began to turn, although I had not seen a Redhead in the neighborhood 
for weeks before. I never could determine whether he remembered that 
at this season of the year ripe cherries were to be found in that particular 
locality, or whether he saw them from a distance and noticed the robins 
going and coming from the trees; but, however that may be, he always 
found the first ripe cherries in the orchard and would carry them all day 
long to his young in the grove three-fourths of a mile away. My early 
harvest, sweet bough and red astrachan apples were also eagerly sought. 
In spite of this small thieving, and his occasional attacks upon the 
young of other birds, the Red-headed woodpecker must be regarded 
as a beneficial species. He destroys immense numbers of grasshop- 
pers, ants and boring beetles of all kinds which are to be found about 
the branches and trunks of trees, and the principal portion of his vegetable 
diet consists of wild nuts and fruit. Furthermore, he is one of the most 
enlivening objects in the landscape and furnishes an added pleasure to any 
stroll across the fields or drive along the country road, for he is a bird that 
everyone will see and recognize at a considerable distance. The nest of the 
Red-headed woodpecker is excavated in the dead limb of a tree or in 
a stub, usually at a height of from 15 to 50 feet from the ground. The 
opening is about 2 inches in diameter and the depth of the hole from 10 
to 14 inches. The eggs are from 4 to 6 in number and deposited on 
the fine, clean chips at the bottom of the hole. The eggs are white like 
those of all woodpeckers, and measure i by .76 inches in dimensions. 
In the different portions of the State they are deposited from May 10 
to June 15. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 1 57 

Centiirus carolinus (Linnaeus) 
Red-bellied Woodpecker 

Plate 64 

Picus carolinus Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1738. 1:113 

DeKay. Zool. of N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 189, fig. 37 
Centurus carolinus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 193. No. 409 

centurus, Gr., xevTpov, prickle or spine, and (Supdt, tail, referring to the bristly tail 
feathers, which, as Doctor Coues has remarked, are not sharper than those of other 
woodpeckers 

Description. About the size of the Red-headed woodpecker. Upper 
part regularly barred with black and white; top of head and neck bright 
scarlet in the male; in the female, only the occiput is red, the crown being 
ashy gray. Under parts dull grayish white, more or less tinged, espe- 
cially on the center of the belly, with red ; tuft of bristles at the base of the 
bill also reddish. 

Length 9.3-10.5 inches; extent 17-18; wing 4.8-5.5; tail 3.5-4; bill 
1-1.2. 

Distribution. This species inhabits the austral zone of eastern North 
America from Delaware, western New York and southern Minnesota 
southward to the gulf coast. In New York State it evidently was common 
on Long Island and in the lower Hudson valley fifty years ago, but now 
has entirely deserted that region. There are only one or two records 
for Long Island and the Hudson valley during the last 30 years. In western 
New York there are numerous records, mostly during the fall and winter, 
for all the counties from Oneida, Madison and Cortland, westward to 
Erie and Chautauqua, the species being commoner farther west in the 
State. It seems to be more abundant in the wintertime, a curious fact, 
considering that it is an austral species. I have seen numerous specimens 
in the taxidermists' shops of Rochester, Buffalo and Niagara Falls which 
were taken in winter. It is not entirely a straggler, however, for there 
are several breeding records for the western part of the State, especially 
at Springville in June 1895; near Buffalo in 1898 and in Yates county 
1910-1912. I have also seen it in the vicinity of Geneva during the breed- 
ing season and Miss Agnes Paul of East Bloomfield reports it as a per- 



158 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

manent resident near her home. It must be regarded, however, as 
uncommon and local in western New York and is likely to be extirpated 
as a breeding species unless strictly protected in the few localities where 
it is found. 

Habits. The Red-bellied woodpecker is a conspicuous bird both on 
account of its color, its actions, and its vociferousness. It is almost 
impossible for one of these birds to escape attention if it is in the same 
woods with a bird observer. It is seldom still for any length of time, 
but ascends one tree after another with a peculiar jerky motion uttering 
at every hitch its noisy chawh-chawh which immediately attracts attention 
as an unsual sound. When he has reached the higher portions of one tree 
he flies off to another and begins the same routine. If alarmed he gives 
voice to a cha-cha-cha, and frequently, when perched on a lofty limb of 
a tree or immediately after alighting, utters a call somewhat similar to 
that of the Red -headed woodpecker's " tchurr-tchurr." The food of this 
species is much like that of the Redhead, but it does not seem to be so 
fond of garden fruits. A large portion of its food in the fall consists of 
nuts and wild fruit. The nest is excavated in some dead or partially 
dead tree at a height of from 5 to 70 feet from the ground. The opening 
is about if inches in diameter and the excavation 12 inches in depth. The 
eggs, which are from 4 to 6 in number, are pure white, slightly less glossy 
than those of the Red-headed woodpecker, and average i inch in length 
by .75 in diameter. 

Colaptes auratus luteus Bangs 
Northern Flicker 

Plate 54 

Colaptes auratus luteus Bangs. Aiilc, April i8g8. 15:177 
Picus auratus DeKay. Zool. of N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 192, fig. 33 
Colaptes auratus luteus Bangs. A. O. U. Check List. Ed 3. 1910. p. 194. 
No. 412a 

coldptes, Gr., xoXaxrigs, chisel; auratus, Lat., golden, gilded 

Description. Somewhat larger than the Robin; upper parts brown, 
barred with black; rump white; crown of head ashy gray; bright scarlet 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



159 



■crescent on the occiput; under surface of wings and shafts of the wing feathers 
bright yellow; under surface of tail and shafts of tail feathers yellow except 
the tip which is black; under parts grayish white, nearly uniformly spotted 
with black; throat, upper breast and sides of the head and neck light 




Flicker at nesting hols 



Photo by Ralph S. Paddock 



vinaceous; black crescent on the breast; male with black mustachtos. The 
undulating flight, conspicuous white patch on the rump and the yellow 
of the wings which shows in flight are field marks which distmguish this 
species at a considerable distance. 



l6o NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Length 12-12. 8 inches; extent 19. 3-21. 3; wing 5.5-6.5; tail 4-4.8; 
bill 1.3-1.5- 

Distribution. The Northern flicker inhabits eastern North America 
from the limit of trees in Alaska, Ungava and Newfoundland southward 
to Texas and North Carolina. In New York it is uniformly distributed 
in every county of the State, being one of our dominant species. While 
not so common as the Robin, it is one of the dozen birds well known to 
every countiy boy. It must be considered primarily a summer resident, 
arriving from the South between the 20th of March and the loth of April 
and gradually disappearing again between the 1 5th and the 30th of October. 
Dates of earliest appearance and departure, however, are obscured by 
the fact that many individuals of this species remain throughout the winter 
in southern New York and even in the central and northern counties win- 
ter specimens are by no means rare. A decided migratory movement at 
about the dates mentioned is, however, of usual occurrence. The Flicker or 
" High hole," as the countryman usually calls it, is a common or abun- 
dant summer resident of our orchards, groves, shade trees, pastures and 
forests. He is much more versatile in his propensities than the other 
woodpeckers and is frequently seen far from groves and orchards, on the 
open field or lawn and along the fences and telegraph poles. He is at 
home in the midst of our villages and city parks as well as in the farm 
lands and wildernesses. He perches on the twigs of trees more commonly 
than any of the other woodpeckers and digs in the ground for grubs and 
worms and tears open the ant hills in search of his favorite food. His 
notes are as varied as his perching and feeding habits and three or four 
dozen different names have been ascribed to him in different parts of the 
country, mostly in imitation of his different calls or notes. In this State 
he is commonly spoken of as the high hole or high holder, wake-up, yarrup, 
3mcker, clape, flicker, golden-winged woodpecker, yellow jay, yellow hammer 
or pigeon woodpecker. In the spring while courting or endeavoring to 
surpass his rivals in displaying his charms, spreading his wings and tail 
and bobbing around before the admiring gaze of the female, he is often 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK l6l 

heard to utter notes resembling " wake up, wake up, wake up," or " yarrup, 
yarrup, yarrup," or " yucker, yucker, yucker," in subdued tones. In the 
fall while visiting black cherry trees, poke weed and pepperidge to feed 
on the berries, they are generally to be found in small companies and often 
indulge in odd gesticulations with' tails spread, bowing and bobbing about 
before each other and giving voice to the yarrup or flicker notes which 
Chapman compared to " the quick swish of a willow wand." It may be 
imitated by whistling sharply the syllables " kee-yer " two or three times 
repeated. When the flicker flies up from the ground and alights on a stub 
or fence post, he frequently bobs and bows to an imaginary audience and 
immediately thereafter jerks his head high upward giving voice to a sharp 
note like the syllable " clape." In the springtime one of the most familiar 
sounds of the field and grove is the long-drawn, rolling call which is 
unquestionably the mating song of the Flicker. It may be heard for more 
than half a mile and has been variously syllabized, usually written 
as " cuh-cuh-cuh-cuh-cuh-ciih-cuh-cuh-cuh-cuh-cuh-cuh." Others have writ- 
ten it " wick-wick-wick-wick-wick-wick-wick-wick-wick-wick-wick-'wick'' ; and 
others, " yuch-yuch-yuch-yuch-yuch-yuch-yuch-yuch-yuch-yuch-yuch-yuch." 
The young imitate the parents in the matter of vociferous habits, a nestful 
of young flickers keeping up a continual jangling, jarring note almost 
throughout the whole day. The flicker, like other woodpeckers, is also 
a good drummer, especially in the springtime. He selects some dry limb 
or thin conductor pipe or old stove pipe and mounting thereon at least 
fifty times a day batters away with his quick-rolling tattoo to the utter 
despair of his nearest neighbors. When a Flicker is suddenly surprised, 
he usually utters a low chuckling note and then flies away; and sometimes 
when flying about among the trees produces a whining or winnowing note, 
suggesting the sound of pigeons' wings about the dovecote. I imagine 
that this habit as well, perhaps, as the slighter, more pigeonlike appear- 
ance of its head and neck, have given him the name of pigeon woodpecker. 
The Flicker has a tendency to be gregarious, not only during the fruit season 
but all through the summer. Small, scattered companies are frequently 



1 62 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

seen hopping about the pasture or playing about the shade trees. The 
economic value of the Flicker can not be disputed for an instant. The 
number of ants destroyed daily by one of these birds is almost incredible 
and we must not think merely of the injury which the ants would do 
directly but of all the plant lice to whose welfare they minister. I have 
taken as many as seventeen dozen ants from a flicker's stomach on many 
occasions and of all the flickers' stomachs which I have examined, except 
for a short period in the fall when wild berries were abundant, not one 
was without a fair quota of ants. It is a common thing to see the flicker 
on the ground in front of an ant hill or an ant hole, apparently motion- 
less, but when he is carefully observed with the aid of a glass, one will 
see that his tongue is darting out and in with lightninglike rapidity, each 
time carrying into the flicker's ravenous gullet one or more ants which 
have adhered to its sticky surface. Although he is fond of wild fruits 
in their season, especially blackberries, poke berries, sheep berries, blue- 
berries and dogwood berries, I have never heard complaint of the Flicker 
being destructive to cherries, currants or cultivated berries, and although 
he is fond of wild grapes, I have never yet known of his doing any serious 
damage to the vineyards in central and western New York. When these 
facts are considered, it is evident that this bird is one of the best friends 
which the horticulturist can encourage. 

The mating time of flickers is April and early May and they usually 
begin to excavate their hole between the 20th of April and the 15th of 
May. Fresh eggs, in this State, are found between May 5th and June 
loth, although when the first set has been destroyed they will lay again 
and again, so that they are frequently found nesting as late as the middle 
of July. In fact, the Flicker is one of the most persistent layers we have 
among the wild birds. Instances are on record in which the old bird has 
laid six dozens of eggs in six dozen and three days. They usually excavate 
a new nesting hole each season but occasionally utilize an old nest or even 
natural cavity in a tree. The opening is about 25 inches in diameter 
and the hole from 10 to 24 inches in depth. It is enlarged to a spacious 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 1 63 

cavity at the bottom and the eggs are laid on a layer of chips. They are 
5 to 8 in number, pure white in color, slightly less glossy than those of 
the Red-headed woodpecker, and average i.io by .85 in dimensions. 

Order MACROCHIRKS 

Goatsuckers, Swifts, Hummers etc. 

Subonk-r CA.PKIXIULOI 

Family CA.PHIMUUOIDAK 

Goatsuckers 

Palate schizognathous ; basipterygoids small; 2 carotids; sternum two 
or four-notched; plumage af tershaf ted ; oil gland small and bare; 10 prima- 
ries; rectrices 10; bill weak, small and deeply fissured; habits more or less 
nocturnal; eggs 2, laid on the bare ground; young downy but not pre- 
cocious; wings long and pointed, the elongation being principally beyond 
the carpal joint and in the feathers; plumage mostly soft and owllike; 
colors marbled, mottled and intricately blended; tarsus very short; feet 
small and weak; the lateral toe very short; the 3 forward toes movable, 
webbed at the base; middle claw pectinate; hind toe short, elevated and 
partly lateral; formula of the phalanges or toe joints 2-3-4-4. 

The goatsuckers, or nightjars, are largely cosmopolitan in distri- 
bution, consisting of about 125 species, only 2 of which are natives of New 
York. On account of their small, weak feet they are hardly able to alight 
in trees, and when they do must sit lengthwise of the larger branches. 
They are mostly nocturnal or crepuscular, the Nighthawk, however, often 
going out by day. The eggs are always two as in the case of Hiomming 
birds, and are almost perfectly elliptical in shape. The Whippoorwill 
and Nighthawk are among our most valuable birds, feeding on flying 
insects, the Whippoorwill, especially, on moths which are destructive to 
trees and vegetation in general, the Nighthawk on all kinds of insects, 
particularly on ants, beetles, flies and moths. These birds should be 
protected and encouraged as much as possible for the valuable services 

they render to the Commonwealth. 
11 



164 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Antrostomus vociferus vociferus (Wilson) 
Whippoorwill 

Plate 65 

Caprimulgus vociferus Wilson. Amer. Om. 1812. 5:71. pi. 41, figs. 1-3 

DeKay. Zool. of N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 32, fig. 59 
Antrostomus vociferus vociferus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 

p. iq6. No. 417 

anirostoinus, Gr., avTpov, cave, and aT6(ja, mouth, referring to the tremendously 
capacious fissirostral gape; vociferus, Lat., vociferous, noisy 

Description. Bill extremely short and depressed; the gape enormous; 
corners of the mouth bordered with long, recurved bristles; eyes large; 
head broad; wings long and pointed; tail long, rounded, of 10 feathers; 
feet small and weak; the tarsus partly feathered; the plumage blended 
brownish with brownish gray, black, ocherous and buffy. Male: Outer 
J tail feathers tipped with white for half their length; white band across the 
throat. Female: The tips of outer tail feathers and neckband ocherous 
or buffy instead of white. General impression of the Whippoorwill is of 
a mottled dark brown bird like the color of an old decayed log, and when 
resting quietly on the leaves or rotten wood in the shady forest it is practi- 
cally indistinguishable; but when the male bird springs up in flight, the 
white tips of the outer tail feathers make him very conspicuous. 

Length 9.5-10 inches; extent 15-16; wing 5.8-6.9; tail 4.6-5.5; bill .36. 

Distribution. The Whippoorwill inhabits eastern North America from 
Manitoba, Quebec and Nova Scotia south to Louisiana and Georgia, and 
winters from the Gulf States to Honduras. In New York it is found in 
all parts of the State, but is local in distribution, preferring the wilder 
swamps, gulleys and hillsides to the more settled districts. It is a summer 
resident, however, from Long Island to Chautauqua county and from 
Westchester county to the northern limits of the State. In the Adiron- 
dacks it is confined mostly to the edges of the wilderness and is not found 
in the depths of the spruce forests, but invades the river valleys and clear- 
ings as far as Elk lake, Keene valley. Lake Placid, Saranac and the Fulton 
chain. The Whippoorwill arrives from the South from April 20th to May 
lOth and during the migration is frequently heard throughout the State 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



165 



in localities where it is not found as a summer resident; but these 
migratory birds have gone on to their nesting grounds by the last of May, 
In the fall the whippoorwills are last seen and heard from August 25th 
to September 15th. 

The Whippoorwill, though seldom seen even by nature lovers or the 
country people who live near its favorite haunts, is well known by its voice 
to all inhabitants of the State. It is one of the few birds that can be 




Eggs of Whippoorwill 



Photo by Clarence F. Slone 



surely recognized by its note even though the listener has never heard 
it before and knows it only by name. This bird comes from its retreat 
in the shady forest or the slopes of the glen in the early evening, is seen 
along the roadsides and about farmyards half a mile or more from its home 
in the wood, and its shrill cry is frequently heard from the ridge pole of 
the tent, from the peak of the bam, from the lane fence or from the road- 
side, as one journeys along in the dusk of evening. When passing through 



l66 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

the dense coverts of the swaxnp or woods during the migration season, 
and also during the nesting season, if one is in its summer haunts, the 
Whippoorw'ill may frequently be started from its perch on the ground or 
from some old root or mossy log, but he seldom rises until one is within 
a few feet of the bird, when he springs suddenly into the air, but with 
absolute silence, his soft owllike plumage making his flight as noiseless 
as a Screech owl's. His course also is low and wavering like an owl's so 
that he is oft mistaken for one of that family. As Chapman remarks, 
the silence with which he rises in front of one's face and flies away is fully 
as startling as the overwhelming whirr of a grouse's wings. The food of 
the Whippoorwill consists entirely of night-flying insects, principally moths 
and beetles. I have taken 36 full-grown moths from the stomach of a 
single Whippoorwill which was killed early in the evening, indicating that 
within an hour and a half he had killed and devoured these full-grown 
moths, each one of which contained hundreds of eggs. Thus it is evident 
that this bird is of untold value to the forester. The call of the Whip- 
poorwill is introduced by a low cluck or chuck, which is inaudible unless 
the listener is near the bird, but the sharp vigorous whip' -poor-will' , whip'- 
poor-wilV which is rapidly reiterated may be heard for the distance of half 
a mile. This call is heard mostly during two hours after sunset and the 
hour before sunrise. The nest of the Whippoorwill, or rather its eggs 
for it makes no nest, is found beneath the dense, low-hanging foliage of 
the undergrowth in the forest. The eggs are 2 in number, elliptical-ovoid 
in shape and average 1.16 by .84 inches in dimensions, dull white in color 
with spots and blotches of brown, drab and lavender. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK I67 

Chordeiles virginianus virginianus (Gmelin) 

Nighthawk 

Plate 6j 

Caprimulgus virginianus Gmelin. vSyst. Nat. 1 789. i : 1028 
Chordeiles americanus DeKay. Zool. of N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 34, fig. 60 
Chordeiles virginianus virginianus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 
1910. p. 198. No. 420 

chordeiles, formed from Gr., x^P^i^, a stringed instrument, and BefXr), evening 

Description. In shape resembling the Whippoorwill, but the tail 
forked instead of rounded; color of the plumage not so intricately blended 
as in the Whippoorwill and without the fulvous and ocherous; colors 
blackish and grayish, more or less barred and spotted with dusky and white. 
The wing feathers blackish crossed with a broad white band which appears 
like a hole through the wing while the bird is in flight; tail blackish with 
broken or wavy bars of grayish buff and with a white band near the end 
except on the middle pair of feathers; a broad white throat band; breast 
and under part barred with blackish and white. The large white spot 
on the wing, and white band on the tail, as well as its forked tip, are con- 
spicuous marks when the bird is in flight. 

Length 9.5-10 inches; extent 24; wing 7.3-8.3; tail 4.3-4.8; bill .25. 

Distribution. Breeds from southern Ytikon, Keewatin and New- 
foundland south to the Gulf States and westward to the edge of the Great 
Plains, and winters in South America from Brazil to Argentina. In New 
York it is found in every county of the State as a stimmer resident, but 
is somewhat local in its breeding. In the wilder portions of the State it 
still nests on the rocks and the rugged field, but in the more thickly inhabited 
districts, on the flat tops of buildings. Dates of spring arrival are rather 
uncertain, but it is evident that the Nighthawk reaches this State from 
the 1st to the 15th of May. In the fall it is last seen from the ist to the 
20th of September. During the autumn migrations, especially in the month 
of August, this species is much more ntunerous than at any other time of 
the year, and is seen in all portions of the State, even where it is unknown 
as a summer resident, often appearing in large flocks. Various observers 
have reported great scattering troops of thousands and thousands of night- 
hawks from the vicinity of Oneida lake and from Chautauqua county during 



1 68 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



the month of August. These flights usually progress in a southwesterly 
direction. This would seem to indicate that the principal line of migra- 
tion extends down the Ohio- Mississippi valley. I have noticed these 
flights several years in Erie county passing in this same general direction. 
Habits. The Nighthawk is much more diurnal in habits than 

the Whippoorwill, and frequently 
is seen flying about in the bright 
daylight high in the air, with slow, 
measured wing strokes, occasion- 
ally darting swiftly downward; at 
other times with rapid flapping of 
the wings succeeded by a graceful 
soaring. The wings appear ex- 
tremely long and crooked. As 
the birds fly about seeking for 
beetles, flies, moths and other in- 
sects, they occasionally give voice 
to a loud nasal " peent, peent," and 
sometimes to a squeaky, querulous 
" aek-aek." In the mating season 
when the Nighthawk is wheeling 
about high in the air, he suddenly 
plunges headlong toward the earth 
Photo by Guy A. Bailey but, just bcforc Striking thc ground, 

Nighthawk's eggs on gravel roof 

suddenly glides upward again, at 
the same time producing a roaring sound by the air rushing through 
the wing feathers, which has been likened to the noise made by blowing 
across the mouth of an empty bottle, or the bunghole of a barrel. 
Although the Nighthawk is frequently seen in cloudy weather during 
the middle of the day, he certainly prefers to hunt in the evening and 
early morning, and his notes are often heard late at night as he hawks 
about for insects high in the air. Like the Whippoorwill, the Nighthawk 




BIRDS OF NEW YORK 1 69 

when he perches on a tree, is obliged to alight on the larger branches and 
to sit lengthwise of the branch, on account of his small, weak feet which 
are unable to clasp the twigs like those of true perching birds. This species 
is more often found resting in tnis manner among forest and shade trees 
than is the case with the Whippoorwill, but it is evident that he prefers 
the ground or rocks and the flat tops of buildings. It frequently alights 
on the ledges of chimneys and the cornices of tall buildings to wait for 
the bright light of noonday to pass by. Although the Nighthawk, like 
the Whippoorwill, feeds largely on moths, a much greater percentage of 
its food consists of beetles and flies, as would be expected from its more 
diurnal habits, but it is, nevertheless, a very beneficial species and ought 
to be stringently protected in all localities. In the southern states it is 
called " bull-bat," and is destroyed in immense ntunbers by southern 
" sportsmen," but this habit, I am glad to say, is passing out of vogue 
through the influence of the Audubon Society. The Nighthawk lays her 
eggs on a bare rock or the waste field or an open patch of ground in the 
woods or on the gravel-covered roofs of buildings in our cities and villages. 
They are 2 in ntunber, almost elliptical in shape, of a grayish white ground 
color densely spotted and blotched with blackish, grayish and lavender. 
They average 1.20 by .86 inches in dimensions. The young are covered 
with a grayish down and are .practically invisible as they sit among the 
gravel or on the rough stones where they are hatched. The old Night- 
hawk protects them at the risk of her life and tries to draw the intruder 
away by fluttering along as if with broken wing to lure him from them. 

Suborder CYPSELI 

Family lVIICROF>ODIDA.E 

Swifts 

Palate aegithognathous ; bill deeply fissirostral ; rectrices 10; second- 
aries only 7 in number; nostrils exposed; wings extremely long, pointed 
and thin, both the distal joints and the primaries being remarkably 
elongated; feet weak, small, rather skinny than scaly; tarsus usually naked; 
lateral and middle toes nearly of the same length; the hind toe more or 



170 NEAV YORK STATE MUSEUM 

less versatile or turned sidewise; the formula of the phalanges is usually 
abnormal, 2-3-3-3; the claws are very sharp and curved, but none of them 
pectinate as in the Goatsuckers; plumage compact, hard, somber colored; 
sternum deeply keeled, broad behind, usually with no notches; there is 
no ambiens, semitendinosus, accessory semitendinosus or accessory femoro- 
caudal; the coeca are wanting; oil gland naked; the salivary glands highly 
developed, furnishing an abtmdant secretion used in the construction of 
their nests; the eggs are several, white and narrowly oval in shape; the 
young are naked and perfectly helpless. 

The characteristics of this family are practically those of the suborder, 
and the 100 members of it are widely distributed in the temperate and 
tropical regions. The single representative of the family which is found 
in New York State belongs to the subfamily of Spine-tailed swifts, with 
mucronate tail feathers, helping it in clinging to upright surfaces like the 
interior of hollow trees, differing also from the typical swifts in having 
the joints of the front toes 3-4-5 in number. 

Swifts, like the swallows and the goatsuckers, are very beneficial 
as they are exclusively insectivorous in diet, feeding on flying insects which 
they destroy in immense niimbers. Although some parasitic hymenoptera 
are devoured, the majority of these insects are destructive to agricultural 
interests as well as to the peace and comfort of humanity. The swifts 
have practically abandoned the hollow trees which they occupied both 
for roosting and nesting sites before the advent of white men in America 
and, on the whole, have profited by the change to the civilized conditions 
which prevail over the greater portion of the country; but many people 
nowadays cover their chimneys with screens so that the swifts can not 
enter, or inadvertently build fires in those occupied by the swifts and 
destroy the young birds late in summer. Those who wish to encourage 
the swifts, but can not furnish them with disused chimneys during the 
nesting season, can assist them by erecting dimimy chimneys (even those 
constructed of boards will serve the purpose) 6 to 8 feet in depth, which 
they will appropriate and thus rear their young in comfort and furnish 
abundant amusement to those nature lovers who wish to observe their 
nesting operations. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



171 



Chaetura pelagica (Linnaeus) 

Chimney Swift 

Hirundo pelagica Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:192 
Chaetura pelasgia DcKay. Zool. of N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 35, fig. 58 
Chaetura pelagica A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 200. No. 423 

chaetiira, Gr., "/at'K;, bristle, and oupa, tail; peldgtca, Lat., pelagic, marine, (without 
evident application to this bird's habits) 

Description. Wings very long; tail- short, square and the shafts pro- 
jecting some distance beyond the vanes, as little sharp spines; beak short, 
but the gape very extensive; feet 
very short and small but the claws 
sharp and curved; plumage dark 
sooty in color; wings and tail darker, 
throat and breast fading to a dull 
grayish. 

Length 4.8-5.6 inches; extent 
12.5; wing 4.95-5.25; tail 1.9-2. 

The Swift or Chimney " swal- 
low " as it is commonly called, is 
never seen perching on trees or 
telegraph wires, but always flying 
through the air. It may be recog- 
nized by its general sooty coloration 
and the rapid wheeling or flickering 
flight alternating with occasional 
soaring. His appearance in the air 
has been aptly likened to a winged 
cigar or a flying spruce cone. 

Distribution. The Chimney 
swift inhabits eastern North America 
from Saskatchewan, Quebec and Newfoundland south to the gulf and west 
to the Great Plains, wintering south of the United States probably in 
Central America. In New York State it is uniformly distributed and breeds 
in every county. It is one of the dominant species which are very slightly 




Photo by Guy A. Bailey 
Chimney swift with young 



172 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

affected by the advance of civilization, and is even positively benefited 
by it until people screen their chimneys to prevent the roaring caused by 
the entrance and exit of birds early in the morning. In the depths of the 
Adirondack M-ildemess this species is fairly common, breeding in the gable 
ends of old deserted lumbermen's shacks or in the settlers' chimneys and 
possibly, at times, in hollow trees. 

Habits. As already stated, the Chimney swift is never observed, 
as many suppose, ranged along the telegraph wires with our various species 
of swallows. Near the " Free Bridge," 4 miles below Cayuga, there is 
a large hollow tree in which swifts still roost after the primeval fashion, 
and another near Scotts\'ille, within sight of the railroad station, about 
which thousands of swifts may be seen circling in the evening air before 
going to rest within the hollow trunk. Nearly every village or city can 
boast at least one large chimney on church or schoolhouse that harbors 
multitudes of swifts every night late in summer. It is an interesting sight 
to watch these swifts as they wheel about such an old chimney in the August 
and September evenings and, when the magic moment arrives, pour down 
its capacious mouth in a living cascade. It seems impossible for this 
species to perch, but it always alights on some perpendicular surface like 
the inside of a large hollow tree or the inner surface of a chimney or the 
perpendicular boards at the gable end of a bam or shed. In this position 
it sleeps, clinging with its sharp claws to the irregular surface and using 
its spiny tail as a support. The swift is seen abroad early in the morning 
and late in the afternoon, but in cloudy weather comes out at any time of 
day and evidently can see well in the bright sunlight, for it frequently hunts 
or seeks materials for its nest during the brightest weather. They begin 
to construct the nest in May or early June, the small twigs of which it 
is formed being broken from the dead branches of some shade tree by the 
bird flying directly against the tip of the twig and snapping it ofif. Mr 
Fuertes asserts that they grasp the twig with their claws as they fly against 
it and thus bear it away. I will confess that I have been unable to see 
them execute this performance although I have tried on dozens of occasions. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



173 



At any rate, the twigs are carried into the chimney and are cemented to 
the wall and to each other by a gelatinous substance secreted by the salivary 
glands of the bird itself. When completed, the nest is like a little semi- 
circular bracket slightly hollowed downward. The eggs are placed on 
this framework of twigs without lining. They are 4 to 6 in ntmiber, oval- 
elliptical in shape, pure white in color, and average .82 by .50 inches 
in diameter. In food the swift is wholly insectivorous, and does an 
immense amount of good destroying beetles, flies and gnats, which he devours 
in countless multitudes. The Chimney swift, as he darts by, frequently 




^hoto by Clarence F. Stone 



Chimney swift's nest and eggs 



utters a rapid chipper something like the syllable chip-chip-chip, rapidly 
repeated, and I have heard a loud cheeping in the chimney, evidently 
uttered by the young birds. One of the earliest impressions of my boy- 
hood was the curious roaring caused by the wings of parent swifts as they 
came and went from their nests at daybreak. This unfortunate habit 
of early rising has brought the Chimney swift into bad repute in many 
civilized communities, too great zeal in the service of the citizens while 
destroying the gnats, flies and mosquitoes which annoy them, closing even 



174 ^'E\V YORK STATE MUSEUM 

the chimneys of the village against these beneficent birds whose only 
offense is to make a little noise by starting too early in the morning in 
pursuit of our enemies. 

Suborder XROCHILI 

Family TROCHII^IDA.B 

Hummingbirds 

Bill long and slender; palate schizognathous ; the sternum deeply 
keeled, not notched; no manubrium; ambiens, semitendinosus and its 
accessory are wanting; femoro-caudal present; the oil gland bare; tail with 
ID rectrices; primaries lo; secondaries only 6 and very short; feet very 
small, the hallux incumbent; radius arched; carpus very much elongated; 
tongue protrusible like that of woodpeckers; the left carotid artery only 
is developed; nostrils linear. 

This family averages the smallest in size of all the aves. The 
coloration is usually brilliant with metallic iridescence. The sexes are 
unlike. Voices harsh or insectlike. Disposition pugnacious. The 
nest is usually a model of sldll, very neatly constructed of fibers or 
downy substances and usually ornamented, at least in our native species, 
with various lichens or mosses which render it inconspicuous. The eggs 
in this family are 2 in number as is the case with goatsuckers, but they are 
pure white in color and almost elliptical in shape. The young are helpless 
when hatched, nearly bare, and are fed for some time in the nest by the 
process of regurgitation, the parent bird forcing the bill well down the 
youngster's throat and discharging the contents of her crop into the 
youngster's stomach. The family is evidently of neotropical origin, the 
565 species being confined to America, only one inhabiting the eastern 
United States. 

Hummers do not subsist entirely upon nectar or the honey of flowers, 
as many believe, but are really insectivorous birds, devouring a considerable 
number of small spiders, ants and various kinds of insects that are attracted 
to the flowers which they visit. Tn this way they render a considerable 
service to the agriculturist and are also valuable servants in cross-pol- 
linating many species of flowers, sharing this important office with the 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 175 

bees and larger moths. They are also valuable neighbors of the helpless 
inhabitants of garden and orchard. Although they are so slight in size, 
they attack fearlessly and effectively marauding crows and hawks which 
approach their domains, and their brilliant and interesting presence, aside 
from any service they render, is ample reward for protecting them. 

Archilochus colubris (Linnaeus) 
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 

Plate 65 

Trochilus colubris Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. lo. 1758. 1:120 

DcKay. Zool. of N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 46, fig. 87 
Archilochus colubris A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 202. No. 428 

arckilochus, perhaps named from the Greek poet; cdlubris, probably from the 
barbarous name colibri 

Description. Our smallest bird. Wings long; bill long and slender. 
Male: Upper parts bright metallic green; wings and tail fuscous, tinged 
with purplish; throat, metallic ruby red changing to black and burnished 
gold as the angle of reflection varies, the ruby throat-patch bordered 
below with whitish ; the rest of under parts dusky tinged with greenish on 
the sides. Female has the throat whitish instead of ruby. Young resemble 
the female, but throat feathers spotted with dusky. 

Length c? 3.5 inches, 9 3.85; extent 4.6; wing cf 1.6, 9 1.8; tail 
cT 1.25, 9 1.2; bill c? .55--65. 9 •75- 

Distribution. The Ruby-throated hummingbird inhabits eastern 
North America from Saskatchewan and Quebec to the Gulf of Mexico, 
westward to North Dakota and Texas, and spends the winter from southern 
Florida and Louisiana to Mexico and Panama. In New York it is a 
common siunmer resident in all parts of the State from the more cultivated 
portions of southern New York to the densest forests of the Adirondack 
region. While surveying the country about Mt Marcy and the other 
elevated peaks of the Adirondacks we found this species nearly as common 
as in the orchards and groves of western New York and noticed several 
breeding pairs in the forests of the Bartlett range, Boreas pond, Mt Colvin 
and the slopes of Mt Marcy at an elevation of 3500 feet. The humming- 
bird arrives in New York from the 5th to the 12th of JVIay i.n the warmer 



176 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



portions of the State and a few days later in the northern counties. In the 
fall the last birds are usually seen from the ist to the 12th of September 
in the northern counties and from the 20th to the 30th of September in 
the warmer portions of the State. As with most species of birds, the males 
usually precede the females several days in the spring migration, but mated 
pairs are usually found by the 20th to the 25th of May and the building of 
the nest often begins as early as the 30th of the month. 

Habits. Everyone knows the Ruby-throated hummingbird, which 




Photo by Clarence F. Stone 
Ruby-throated hummingbird's nest and eggs 

is the only species of this family that visits the eastern United States. 
It comes familiarly to the cultivated flowers on the window sill, the 
honeysuckles which climb the trellises beside porches, and the trumpet 
flowers which grow beside the door of the country home. It visits every 
flower bed when in bloom, and almost all the blossoming trees, especially 
apple trees ^ — and the red buckeye more than any other species. Frequently 
as many as a dozen hummingbirds may be seen about a red buckeye when 
it is in full bloom. In late summer the swamp thistle is a great favorite 
with the htimmers. There is no doubt that hummingbirds visit flowers 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



177 



for the sake of their nectar, but they also feed upon the small insects which 
are attracted to the flowers by the honey, and also on the small spiders 
which are found on both the flowers and the foliage of the plant. Tame 
hummingbirds will live on sugar solution and honey, but will not thrive 
for any length of time without the addition of insect food. While watching 
a hummingbird, one is impressed with the ease and rapidity of its flight 
and especially with its ability to change its course at an instant's warning. 
When attacking larger birds to drive them away from its nest — and he is 




Ruby-throated hummingbird on nest 



Photo by James H. Miller 



perfectly capable of driving away the largest "hawks, crows and eagles — he 
flies at the intruder like a bullet; but just before striking, will back off as 
rapidly as he advanced so as to put his enemy in absolute confusion. I have 
often seen a hummingbird fly directly at an object so rapidly that he almost 
crashed into it, and then just before reaching it back off in perfect unconcern. 
He is at home flying across wide expanses of open fields or across the surface 
of the lake. I frequently notice them crossing lakes two or more miles 
in width without anymore hesitation than going from flower to flower; and 



1-8 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



although they seem to fly much more rapidly on account of their small 
size, it is perfectly evident to one who studies their flight carefully that 
they travel at the rate of 30 to 50 miles an hour. The hummingbird is 
rather pugnacious and rarely permits others of the same species, or any 
birds, to approach his nesting site. When chasing away intruders, he 
usually utters a rapid chirping note while making the attack. Many 
people have maintained that they have never seen a hummingbird at 

rest except upon its nest, but 
it frequently alights on dead 
twigs and telegraph wires and 
will often sit for many minutes 
sunning and preening itself on 
the lofty twigs of dead trees in 
the forest. The nest of this 
species is one of the most beauti- 
ful constructed by any of our 
native birds. It is composed of 
the fluffy fibers from seed gossa- 
mers, the downy covering of 
young fern' leaves, and other 
soft cottony substances, which 
are bound together with spiders' 
webs and the whole carefully 
covered with green and gray 
lichens so skilfully that it resem- 
bles a small, mossy knot. It 
is usually saddled upon a branch about the size of a walking stick or on 
the horizontal crotch of a limb from 6 to 40 feet from the ground. The 
eggs are always 2 in number, pure white in color, nearly elliptical in shape, 
and average .50 by .36 inches in size. The young at first have com- 
paratively short, stubby beaks and are nearly naked, but the feathers 
rapidly develop and the beaks become longer and slimmer. In 10 days 




Photo by Clarence F. Stone 
Young of Ruby-throated hummingbird 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 1 79 

after hatching the young are about ready to leave the nest. They are 
fed from the beginning by regurgitation. The old bird, perching on the 
rim of the nest and directing her beak vertically downward into the young 
bird's gullet, proceeds to pump the contents of her crop into the greedy 
youngster. In the case of nearly every nest which I have watched, I 
became apprehensive lest some harm had overtaken the young birds 
because they disappeared so suddenly after 9 or lo days; but I have become 
convinced that they remain in the nest only 10 days, and then follow the 
old birds to some secure spot where they are fed for several days longer 
before they forage for themselves. 

Order PASSERES 

Perching Birds 

" Oil gland nude; skull aegithognathous ; atlas perforated by the 
odontoid process; i carotid, left; coeca present, small; muscle formula 
AXY; no biceps slip or expansor secondariorum " (Beddard). First 
toe is directed backward and is on a level with the front toe, that is, per- 
fectly incumbent; none of the other toes are ever changed in position; 
the sternum usually has a forked manubrium and a single pair of notches 
on the rear; the aftershaft is very weak and downy; the flexor hallucis is 
wholly independent of the flexor communis; the syrinx is well developed 
with numerous intrinsic muscles to regulate the voice; the formula of the 
toe joints is 2-3-4-5; primaries are 9 or 10 in nvunber; the tail usually of 
12 rectrices. In reproductive nature they are all psilopaedic and altricial 
in nature, the young being bom weak, helpless and nearly naked, and 
brooded and cared for by the parents for a long time in the nest. 

In this order the high-strung life of bird nature reaches its highest 

development, the nervous system being acutely sensitive, the special senses 

keenly developed, at least those of sight and hearing, the circulation and 

respiration rapid, and the temperature the highest among animals. This 

is also the largest ordinal group of birds, including nearly all our familiar 

land birds and over one-half of the entire number of birds. The order is 

subdivided according to the development of the syrinx and its intrinsic 

muscles, as well as the condition of the tarsus. 
12 



l80 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Suborder CLAMATORES 

This suborder, which is also called Mesomyodi or Clamatores, includes 
the so-called screamers or nonmelodious Passeres, in which the syrinx is 
less fully developed and has less than 4 pairs of intrinsic muscles. These 
muscles are inserted at the middle of the upper bronchial half rings. The 
tarsus is scutelliplantar; toes scutellate and not laminate; there are 10 
fully developed primaries. 

This suborder in North America includes only the flycatchers and 
cotingas, the flycatchers alone being represented in New York. In general 
appearance, habits and voice they are easily distinguishable from the rest 
of the Passerine birds, although some of them actually sing as complicated 
songs as many representatives of the Oscines or true songbirds. 

Family TYn:A.NXIDA.E 

American Flycatchers 

Family characters. Tarsi covered with rows of scutella forming 
cylindrical plates enveloping the tarsus like a segmented scroll; primaries 
ID, the first well developed and often the longest; tail feathers 12; wing 
coverts more than half the length of the secondaries; hind claw as long as 
the middle claw; feet small and weak; tarsus short; the front toes coherent 
at the base, especially the outer to the middle; bill broad and flattened, 
gradually tapering to a sharp point, abruptly bent downward near the 
tip, and notched at the beginning of the bend; bill very light, the upper 
mandible partly hollow; culmen smooth and transversely arched; com- 
missure nearly straight to the bend; nostrils near the base of the bill, small 
and round, sparsely concealed by bristles; gape large, reaching nearly 
beneath the eye, its angles furnished with flaring bristles; wing and tail 
ample; shoulders broad; short neck; large head; short legs; coloration of 
our native species mostly somber, without spots or streaks. 

In this family about 83 genera are described, all American, being well 
represented in tropical America. Of the New York species, 3 or 4 resemble 
each other so closely that it is almost impossible to distinguish them in 
the field ; but they differ individually in habitat, notes, nesting site, structure 
of the nest, and marking of the eggs, so that these particulars are more 
diagnostic in field work than the appearance of these species. Our fly- 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



i8i 



catchers usually choose exposed perches from which to watch for passing 
insects, which they pursue and capture on the wing, usually returning 
to the same station from which they started. In disposition they are 
rather quarrelsome birds, the family character reaching its climax in the 
Kingbird which will not tolerate rivals within his sphere of influence, and 
will even drive eagles, hawks and crows far away from the vicinity of 
its nest. 

The food of our flycatchers is almost entirely composed of insects 
and all the species are probably beneficial. It is unfortunate that so many 
of the parasitic Hymenoptera are included in the food of some of the smaller 
species like the Wood pewee, and that bees are frequently destroyed by 
the Kingbird, as well as others of the larger flycatchers; but the work of 
the Biological Survey in investigating this subject has shown that the 
percentage of bees and beneficial Hymenoptera is so low that it is practi- 
cally a negligible quantity, and that all the flycatchers, even the Kingbird, 
should be regarded as beneficial. In the fall, flycatchers, especially the 
Kingbird, frequently resort to a diet of fruit, but this, even in the fall 
and winter, amounts to only a small percentage of the entire food and 
none of the flycatchers has been reported as destructive to the small cul- 
tivated fruits grown in this section. 

The following table will serve to show in detail, from an examination 
of stomach contents, exactly of what the food of these birds consists. 

Food of New York flycatchers' 



New York Species 






H 



V ^ 



X 



Q 



fe-C =£ 

a u. ts B> 



^ o « 









5 



III 



5a 



Kingbird 

Crested flycatcher 

Phoebe 

Ohve-sided flycatcher. ... 

Wood pewee 

Yellow-bellied flycatcher. . 

Acadian flycatcher 

Alder flycatcher 

Least flycatcher 



88. Q3 
93.70 
89.23 
99.95 
98.97 
97.01 
97.05 
96.05 
97.83 



II .07 
6.30 

10.7 
05 
1.03 
2.99 
2.95 
3.95 
2.17 



25.35 
16.78 
IS. 33 
6.24 
14.23 
16. S3 
13.76 
17.89 
21.35 



32 39 
13.69 
26.69 
82.56 
28.20 
46.25 
39.93 
41-37 
41.10 



3.77 
14.26 
10.38 
3.25 
5.99 
4. 16 
6.03 
7.24 



3-19 

3.06 

6.89 

.88 

29.98 

14.89 

8.15 

14.20 

11.34 



11.83 
15.62 
12.91 
1. 12 
3-44 
O 
6.38 
3-91 
2.59 



3.18 

21.38 

8.86 

4-13 

12. 3» 

S.68 

18.87 

7.73 

7.27 



7.70 

4.88 

8.17 

1.77 

2.61 

.98 

.99 

2.77 

.95 



I.S2 
4.03 
o 
O 

2.31 
8. 52 
2.94 
• 94 
2.11 



10.71 
S.36 
4 99 
.04 
.84 
2.51 
2.68 
3.88 
1.83 



.36 

• 94 
5.78 

.01 

• 1» 

• 4* 

• 27 

• 07 

• 39 



'From Bulletin 44, Biological Survey, U. S. Department of Agriculture 



1 82 



NE'.V YORK STATE MUSEUM 



Tyrannus tyrannus (Linnaeus) 
Kingbird 

Plate 67 

Lanius tyrannus Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:94 
Tyrannus intrcpidus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 117, fij^. 72 
Tyrannus tyrannus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 208. No. 444 

tyrdnmis, Lat., a tyrant 

Description. Upper parts grayish slate color; the wing feathers 




Young kingbirds 



Photo by James H. Miller 



blackish; tail black, tipped with white; under parts white, a grayish tinge on 
the sides of breast; top of the head blackish concealing a brilliant orange 
patch which flashes into view when the bird is excited; bill blackish. 

Length 8.40-8.75 inches; extent 14-15; wing 4.65; tail 3.56; bill .60. 

The slaty upper parts of this bird, his white throat and under parts, 
blackish tail with sharp white tip, combined with his ordinary quivering 
and soaring flight low over the fields, with tail spread, make him one of 
the easiest of our common birds for the amateur to recognize. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 1 83 

Distribution. The Kingbird breeds from British Columbia, Macken- 
zie, Quebec and Newfoundland south to New Mexico and Florida, and 
spends the winter from southern Mexico to Bolivia and British Guiana. 
In New York it is a common summer resident in all portions of the State 
except the interior of the densely forested regions, but it invades the Catskill 
and Adirondack districts along the clearings and river valleys to the edge 
of the spruce and balsam forests. In the cultivated portions it is one of 
the commonest of our dominant species, among the flycatchers ranking 
next to the Phoebe and the Wood pewee in abundance. It arrives from 
the south from the 25th of April to the loth of May and departs for the 
south from September 15th to 30th. 

Habits. The Kingbird inhabits orchards, pastures, hedgerows and 
roadsides. It is a common sight to see this bird seated on the top of a 
mullein stalk, fence post, telegraph wire or the peak of an apple tree, on 
the lookout for beetles, bees, grasshoppers, moths and flying insects of all 
kinds. Whenever he sees an attractive insect he swoops down and snaps 
him up with perfect precision. If a hawk or crow approaches the limits of 
his domain he immediately gives chase. Mounting above the intruder he 
darts down and striking him on the top of the head or the^ back drives him 
rapidly from the neighborhood. In this way he renders efficient service in 
keeping crows and hawks away from the chicken yard. On the other hand, 
most beekeepers denounce the Kingbird because of the great niomber of 
bees which he destroys. Examination of stomachs, however, has shown 
repeatedly that he prefers the drones to the worker bees, and consequently 
does no great damage; but unquestionably at times he becomes too destruc- 
tive when he makes his home in the immediate vicinity of a beehive. The 
nest of the Kingbird is usually constructed in an apple tree, thorn bush 
or shade tree of any species, at a height of from 6 to 20 feet from the ground. 
I have even known of its being placed on the top of an old fence post and 
in vines overrunning a stone wall. It is composed of straws, weeds and 
roots, lined with rootlets, soft bark, fine grasses, hair and wool. The eggs 
are usually 4 to 5 in number laid from the 25th of May to the 15th of June, 



184 ■" NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

a rich creamy white in color rather coarsely spotted with reddish brown, 
chocolate and lavender, mostly in a wreath near the larger end. They 
are oval in shape and measure i by .74 inches. The notes of the Kingbird 
are loud, the commonest being a rapidly repeated rattling call resembling 
remotely the rattle of a Kingfisher. The researches of the Biological 
Survey have shown that their food consists principally of beetles, flies, 
grasshoppers and members of the bee family. 

Tyrannus dominicensis (Gmelin) 

Gray Kingbird 

Lanius dominicensis Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1 788. 1:302 

Tyrannus dominicensis A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 208. No. 445 

dominicensis, of St Domingo 

Description. Upper parts plumbeous gray. The adults have con- 
cealed orange crown patch; lower parts white; tail emarginate, without a 
white tip. 

Length 9-9.75 inches; wing 4.5-4.75; tail 3.5-4; bill large, length 
from nostril .8. 

Distribution. The Gray kingbird is an inhabitant of the southeastern 

United States from South Carolina to the Greater Antilles; winters in the 

Lesser Antilles, Mexico and Central America. In New York it is only 

an accidental visitant, a single specimen having been obtained at Seetauket, 

Long Island, in Suffolk county, 30 miles east of New York and reported in 

" Forest and Stream," volume 2, 1874, page 373. ~ Specimens of this species 

have been obtained similarly in Maine and New Jersey, but it rarely wanders 

north of Carolina. 

T5rrannus verticalis Say 

A rkansas Kingbird 

Tyrannus verticalis Say. Long's Exped. 1823 . 2 : 60 (note) 

A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 209. No. 447 
verticalis, Lat., pertaining to vertex, the top or head, in allusion to the brilliant crown 
patch of the adult 

Description. Head, neck and back light ashy gray; wings dusky 
brown; tail black, the outer feathers with white outer webs; a concealed 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 1 85 

orange crown patch; belly yellow; young, duller colored, with no crown 
patch. 

Length 8.5-9.3 inches; wing cf 475-5-25; tail even or slightly emar- 
ginate 3.7-4; bill from nostril .5. 

Distribution. The Arkansas kingbird, a western species, has been 
taken accidentally in the eastern part of the United States, in Iowa, New 
Jersey, Maine and the District of Coltunbia. A single specimen from 
New York, taken at Riverdale October 19, 1875, an immature male, is 
recorded by E. P. Bicknell in the Bulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological 
Club, volume 4, page 60. 

Myiarchus crinitus (Linnaeus) 
Crested Flycatcher 

Plate 57 

Turdus crinitus Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. 1758. Ed. 10. 1:170 
Tyrannus crinitus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 1 19, fig. 70 
Myiarchus crinitus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 210. No. 452 
niyidrchus, Gr., lAuia, fly, and apX°?. ruler; crinitus, Lat., haired or crested 

Description. Upper parts olive; throat and breast ash gray; belly and 
under tail coverts sulphur yellow; tail from below shows all the inner webs 
rufous, many of the wing feathers also rufous on the inner webs; head 
somewhat crested. 

Length 8.75-9.15 inches; extent 13-14; wing 3.9-4.4; tail 3.6-4.2; 
bill from nostril .6; tarsus .8. 

Distribution. The Crested flycatcher is a summer inhabitant of 
eastern North America from the gulf coast to New Brunswick and Ontario; 
winters from southern Florida to Central America. In New York State 
it is a common summer resident in the warmer districts and fairly common 
on the uplands above 1000 feet, but is practically absent from the interior 
of the Catskill and Adirondack forests, although it invades the valleys 
almost to the heart of those regions. It arrives from the 25th of April 
to the 1 2th of May and disappears in the fall between the 1st and the 
25th of September. During some seasons this flycatcher rivals the King- 
bird and the Wood pewee in abundance, but, in general, is less common 



1 86 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

than either the Kingbird, Phoebe, Wood pewee or Least flycatcher, though 
commoner and more generally distributed than the other members of 
the family. The Crested flycatcher is more confined to the groves and 
forests than the Kingbird and though often seen occupying exposed posi- 
tions on tops of dead trees or fence posts, is rarely observed far from the 
friendly shelter of abundant foliage. His loud shrill whistle which sounds 
like the syllable "wheep" and resembles somewhat a similar cry of the 
Red-headed woodpecker may be heard for one-fourth of a mile and serves 
inevitably to call attention to this bird wherever he has established his 
home. He is the brightest colored of all our flycatchers and is a bird of 
great courage and interesting habits. The nest is usually concealed in 
a hollow tree or old woodpecker's hole at a height of 15 to 50 feet from the 
ground, composed of grasses, rootlets, hair, pine needles and invariably 
the cast ofif skin of a snake is woven among the contents of the nest, to act 
as some have fancied, as a terrifier of red squirrels and Red-headed wood- 
peckers which might see fit to attack the eggs or young. The eggs are 
usually 4 in number, sometimes 5 or 6, the ground color a rich cream, 
profusely marked with " pen streaks " of chocolate and reddish brown. 
They average .92 by .68 inches in dimensions. After the mating and 
breeding season this flycatcher is less noisy and often escapes attention 
so that he is supposed to depart for the south early in August, but if one 
searches carefully in his haunts among the foliage and watches for his 
spirited sallies in quest of flying insects, it is evident that he has not deserted 
his favorite groves but remains with us to the date stated above. The 
Kingbird and Crested flycatcher are both valuable on account of their 
preference for the larger flying insects, especially beetles, like the June 
beetles and other large Coleoptera which are shunned by our smaller 
species. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK I87 

Sayornis phoebe (Latham) 
Phoebe 

Plate 67 

Muscicapa phoebe Latham. Index Om. 1 790. 2 : 489 
Muscicapa fusca DcKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 115, %. 67 
Sayornis phoebe A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 212. No. 456 

5ay(5mj5, from the name of Thomas Say and Gr., opvt?, bird; phdebe, in imitation of its 

note 

Description. Upper parts grayish brown ; the top of the head notice- 
ably darker, almost blackish; wings and tail fuscous; wing bars almost 
indistinguishable; under parts dingy white, tinged with brownish gray 
on the breast and sides, and washed with yellowish on the belly; bill 
blackish. 

Length 7 inches; extent 11.25; wing 3.4; tail 3.5; bill .45. 

The Phoebe may be distinguished from the Wood pewee by its 
blackish under mandible, the whitish outer vane of the outer tail feather 
and the fuscous crown. It is also slightly larger and more brownish, 
scarcely showing any olive or greenish tinge on the upper parts. Its note 
also, a two syllabled call of pe-wee or phoebe is clearly different from the 
three syllabled plaintive pee-a-wee of its smaller relative. 

Distribution. The Phoebe inhabits eastern America from Alberta, 
Keewatin, Quebec and New Brunswick to New Mexico, Mississippi and 
Georgia, and winters from latitude 37 southward to Vera Cruz. In New 
York it is probably the commonest member of the flycatcher family, being 
a summer resident throughout the State except in the spruce and balsam 
forests of the Catskills and Adirondacks. It arrives from the south from 
the 15th of March to the loth of April and departs for more southern 
latitudes from October 15th to 30th. 

Habits. The Phoebe bird prefers the vicinity of water. It usually 
constructs its nest on the timbers of a bridge, or on the shaly overhanging 
bank of some stream, or on the beams of the lakeside cottage or on the 
veranda post, or beneath the shed or eaves of the bam. In fact, nearly 
any position which is sheltered from the rain and storm is suitable for this 
bird. It has adapted itself both to civilized conditions and to the wilder- 
ness. Like all flycatchers, the Phoebe chooses a conspicuous lookout from 



l88 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



which it darts upon any passing insect and returns to its chosen perch, 
always pumping its tail decidedly as soon as it alights, and frequently 
while seated. The note which is often heard and has given it its 
common name consists of the two syllables "P hoe-be" or " pee-wee," 




Phoebe's nest and eggs 



Photo by Ralph S. Paddock 



which also distinguishes the bird from the Wood peewee whose note con- 
sists of three syllables. The Phoebe begins to construct her nest as early 
as the third week in April and the first sets of eggs are to be found from 
the 20th of April to the middle of May. The eggs are usually 5 in number, 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 1 89 

sometimes 4 or 6; creamy white in color, rather broadly oval in shape, 
sometimes with a few fine reddish brown spots; average size .79 by .60 
inches. Two broods are reared in a season in this State, but rarely in 
the same nest, for before the young are able to fly they and the whole 
nesting site usually become infested with innumerable small reddish lice 
which sometimes kill the young birds and render the nest uninhabitable 
for the remainder of the season. This pitiful misfortune of the Phoebe 
bird has made her an unwelcome neighbor about the summer camp, and 
many nests are destroyed each season by people who might better dust 
the nests and young with insect powder and thus protect themselves and 
the birds alike from the unwelcome parasites. 

Nuttallomis borealis (Swainson) 
Olive-sided Flycatcher 

Plate 67 

Tyrannus borealis Swainson. Fauna Bor.-Am. 1831 (1832). 2: 141, pi. 35 
Tyrannus ccoperi DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 118, fig. 73 
Nuttallornis borealis A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 213. No. 459 
nuttallomis, formed from the surname of Thomas Nuttall and Spvt;, bird; borealis, 
northern 

Description. Upper parts brownish slate; wings and tail blackish; 
the indistinct wing bars and edgings of the secondaries grayish; sides 
brownish gray; middle line of all the under parts from throat to tail, whitish; 
a conspicuous tuft of silky white feathers on the flank, usually showing on 
the sides of the rump when the bird is at rest. 

Length 7.2-8 inches; wing 4-4.5; tail emarginate, 2.9-3.5; bill from 
nostril .54; tarsus .6. 

Distribution. The Olive-sided flycatcher inhabits eastern North 

America, breeding from Massachusetts to Minnesota, and in the Alleghanies 

from North Carolina northward to the Hudsonian zone; winters in tropical 

America. In New York State this bird is a rather uncommon transient 

visitant in the greater portion of the State, arriving from the 12th to the 

20th of May and passing on to the north between the 24th and 31st of 

the month. In the fall they make their appearance in the coastal district 



190 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

between the 1 5th and 30th of August and specimens are last seen in southern 
New York between the lOth and the 30th of September. In the Catskills 
and Adirondacks the OHve-sided flycatcher is a fairly common summer 
resident, breeding from an altitude of 1500 feet to the highest portions of 
the mountains. Tt inhabits the burned districts, " slashings," partially 
cleared valleys and mountain slopes, spruce swamps and the borders of 
flowed lands throughout this spruce and balsam belt. It has been reported 
by Mr Maxon as breeding in Madison county especially about the eastern 
end of Oneida lake; and one instance of its nesting not far from the city 
of Albany has been reported. But aside from this, it is confined as a 
summer resident to the Canadian zone not even occurring in the colder 
swamps and uplands of western New York as far as I know. This bird 
is a conspicuous inhabitant of the burned lands and swamps of the Adiron- 
dacks, his loud whistle resembling the syllables " pi-pee," being audible 
at a distance of half a mile. It has also a lower note like the syllable 
" chip," or " pip-pip-pip,'" which he utters when disturbed, and also 
a chatter somewhat similar to the Kingbird's, uttered when the nest is 
disturbed. Its nest is placed at a height of 25 to 40 feet, usually on the 
limb of a spruce tree, and composed of roots, grasses and mosses. The 
eggs are from 2 to 4 in number, deposited from the 20th to the 30th of 
June. They are creamy white, spotted, especially about the larger end, 
with reddish brown and lilac and measure .85 by .63 inches. 

Myiochanes virens (Linnaeus) 
Wood Pewee 

Plate 6S 

Muscicapa virens Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. 1766. Ed. 12. 1:327 

DcKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 114, fig. 69 
Myiochanes virens A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 213. No. 461 

myiochanes, Gr., I'-uta, fly, and probably some form of s^w, to grasp (cf. oyavov); virens, 
Lat., green 

Description. Upper parts olive brown; the head somewhat darker; 
under parts whitish tinged with dull yellow; the breast and sides washed 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



191 



with gray. Fall specimens have the under parts more heavily tinged with 
yellow; under mandible light colored toward the base. 

Length 6-6.5 inches; extent lo-ii; wing 3-3.45; tail 2.5-2.9, slightly 
emarginate; bill from nostril .4; tarsus .51. 

The Wood pewee may be distinguished from the other small flycatchers 
by its larger size, from the Phoebe by being smaller and less brown, more 
greenish on the upper parts. Its note, however, a plaintively whistled 
" pee-a-wee," will distingtiish it at a distance better than anjrthing else, 
both from the Phoebe and its smaller relatives. 

Distribution, This species inhabits North America from Manitoba 
and southern Quebec, south to Texas and central Florida, and winters 
from Nicarauga to Peru. In New York it is universally distributed as 
a svmimer resident and breeds commonly in every county of the State. 
It arrives from the south from the 3d to the 14th of May, in cold seasons 




Photo by Clarence F. Stone 



Pewee's nest and eggs 



sometimes not appearing in the northern portions till the 20th or 22d of 
the month. It is last seen in the fall between the 5th and the 25th of 
September. A few October records, however, have come to my notice. 
In the southern part of the State it occasionally remains until October 2d 
and one record of October 19th comes from Long Island. 



192 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Habits. The Wood pewee inhabits orchards, shade trees, groves 
and forests in all parts of the State. I have found it breeding in the 
shade trees of lawns and in apple trees in the city back yard, as well as 
in the midst of the Adirondack wilderness at a distance of only 4 miles 
from the top of Mt Marcy. It selects a hiimble perch, usually one of 
the lower limbs of a forest tree or an apple tree. Here it sits, occasionally 
whistling its common note and giving chase now and then to the flying 
insects which pass its station, returning again to the same perch after the 
usual habit of its family. When slightly disturbed it utters a low "chit," 
and when its nest is in danger flies about uttering a continual " chitter." 
The nest is usually placed on a horizontal limb or a small fork at a height 
of from 6 to 30 feet from the ground. The outside dimensions are 2.75 by 
1.75 inches and the inside dimensions 1.75 by 1.25. It is constructed 
of small twigs, rootlets and grass stalks neatly matted together, and over 
the outside a coating of greenish and grayish lichens is invariably affixed. 
The center of the nest is so loosely constructed that when it is placed in 
the horizontal fork one may see through it from the ground. In general 
appearance it resembles the hummingbird's nest, but is less downy and 
not so deep in proportion to its size. The eggs are from 2 to 4 in number, 
usually 3, of a creamy white color more or less heavily spotted, usually 
in a wreath near the large end of the egg, with chestnut, claret brown, 
rufous and lavender. They average about .72 by .54 inches in dimensions. 
The period of incubation is usually 12 days and the young remain in the 
nest for 10 days or 2 weeks after hatching. This flycatcher is not commonly 
accused, like the Kingbird, of feeding upon the honey bees, but confines 
its diet largely to injurious insects, although it occasionally takes some 
of the beneficial Hymenoptera. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 1 93 

Empidonax flaviventris (W. M. & S. F. Baird) 
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 

Plate 68 

Tyrannula flaviventris W. M. &S. F. Baird. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. 

1843. 1 : 283 
Muscicapa flaviventris DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 113 
Empidonax flaviventris A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 214. No. 463 
empidonax, Gr., meaning gnat king; flavivhttris, Lat., yellow-bellied 

Description. Upper parts olive green, nearly uniform in color, but 

the wings with lighter bars and edgings; under parts yellow; sides of breast 
somewhat washed with grayish. 

This species is one of our four little flycatchers which can be identified 
unmistakably at sight, its nearly uniform yellow under parts and olive 
green upper parts being an infallible guide. 

Length 5.4-5.8 inches; extent 8.6; wing 2.45-2.75; tail emarginate 
2-2.3; bill from nostril .31; width at base .26; tarsus .66. 

Distribution. The Yellow-bellied flycatcher inhabits eastern North 
America from Alberta, northern Quebec and Newfoundland to North 
Dakota, Michigan, New York and the mountains of Pennsylvania, and 
winters from southern Mexico to Panama. In New York it is a transient 
visitant, fairly common in most portions of the State, arriving from the 
5th to the 19th of May, usually by the loth, and passing on to the breeding 
grounds from May 30th to June loth. In the fall the southern migration 
begins from the 4th to the 20th of August and the last have passed us 
from the 2d to the i8th of September. Our Adirondack party found 
them nesting in July on the damp slopes of the Geological Cobble, Indian 
Head, Skylight and Mt Marcy; and after the first week of August we 
found them more abundant about Elk lake, Boreas pond and similar locali- 
ties. This flycatcher has also been reported as spending the summer at 
TuUy, N. Y., by Mr J. A. Dakin, and at Peterboro (June 15th) by Mr 
Gerritt S. Miller; also reported as a summer resident of Granville, Wash- 
ington county, by Mr F. T. Pember, and near Buffalo by Mr Ottomar 
Reinecke. In the Canadian zone of New York it is a fairly common summer 
resident, but is somewhat local in distribution inhabiting mostly the damp 



194 N^^^' YORK STATE MUSEUM 

shady slopes and mountains where the rocks and soil are covered with 
a dense mat of green mosses and the atmosphere is continually laden with 
moisture. Here it may be found from early in June to the first of August 
and here it constructs its nest hidden among the moss on some fallen log 
or thickly covered rock or steeply sloping bank. Its external dimensions 
are 4 by 4.5 inches and the internal dimensions 2 by i§ inches, composed 
of mosses, lichens and liverworts, mostly mosses of various kinds. It is 
almost impossible to discover the nest except when the bird is driven from 
it. The eggs are from 3 to 5 in number, usually 4, milky white, finely 
spotted with rusty or cinnamon brown, and average .67 by .51 inches 
in dimensions. They are laid from the 15th to the 25th of June and fresh 
ones are occasionally found as late as the middle of July. The Yellow- 
bellied flycatcher utters a low plaintive " peeh-peeh " or " pee-a," as 
some write it, or as it sounds at other times, " pee-wick "; another note 
might be written " ti-pee-a.'' After the young are able to care for them- 
selves thej^ commonly descend from the mountainside and are found more 
about the streams, swamps and lakesides. 

Empidonax virescens (Vicillot) 
Acadian Flycatcher 

Plate 6S 

Platyrhynchos virescens Vieillot. Nouv. Diet. d'Hist. Nat. 1818. 

27 : 22 
Empidonax virescens A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 215. No. 465 
virescens, Lat., greenish (ht. becoming green) 

Description. Upper parts olive green, but lighter in shade than that 
of the Yellow-bellied flycatcher; under parts white washed with pale yellowish 
and slightly tinged with greenish on the breast, but the throat and the center 
of the belly tawny white; wing bars and edgings of the secondaries tawny. 

Length 5.75-6.25 inches; extent 9.50; wing 2.6-3.15; tail 2.25-2.75; 
bill from nostril .35; width at base .30; tarsus .65. 

Distribution. This species inhabits eastern North America from 
Iowa, southern Ontario, New York and Connecticut south to Texas and 
northern Florida; winters in northwestern South America. In New York 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK I95 

State it is confined to the Carolinean faunal area, common in the lower 
Hudson valley as far north as the lower edge of the highlands, fairly com- 
mon in the western portion of Long Island, but local and uncommon in 
Suffolk county. In the upper Hudson valley and on the lowlands of 
western New York it is very irregular in occurrence and must be regarded 
as rare or certainly uncommon. Mr Bicknell found it breeding at River- 
dale from the loth to the 25th of June; Doctor Fisher called it a common 
summer resident at Ossining; Mr Brownell found it a fairly common svunmer 
resident at Nyack; Mr Roosevelt and Mr Howell found it fairly common 
in the vicinity of Oyster Bay, Northport and Wood Haven, Long Island; 
Mr Helm has taken two nests with eggs at Millers Place in Suffolk county. 
In the interior of New York the definite records are as follows: 

Amsterdam, June 5, 1885; Syracuse, May 29, 1887, Smithsonian. 
Institution collection no. 162,523; Ithaca, June 4, 1899, T. L. Hankinson; 
Hilton, August 14, 1903, seen by Albert H. Wright. Definite breeding 
records for the interior are: Fairhaven, July 18, 1876, see Auburn list, 
page 23; Canandaigua, 1883, nest found by E. J. Durand; Niagara county, 
June 14, 1887, female with nest and three eggs taken by J. L. Davison; 
Chili, Monroe county, June 29, 1900, nest found by E. H. Short; Meridian, 
Cayuga county, July 4, 1891, nest with three eggs, see Bendire, Life His- 
tories, 2:302; Erie, Pa., June 26, 1899, see Todd, Birds of Erie, page 563; 
Woodlawn, Monroe county, N. Y., May 30, 1909, nest seen by the author. 
Besides these, reports of its breeding not confirmed by specimens are: 
Buffalo, O. Reinecke; Onondaga county, A. W. Perrior; Rensselaer county, 
Dr T. B. Heimstreet; Little Falls, J. R. Benton; Orleans county, 
O. Reinecke; Jamestown, Mrs R. R. Rogers; West Barry, C. D. Clarkson 
and G. D. Gillett. 

The Acadian or Green-crested flycatcher inhabits the dense wood- 
land, usually of second growth deciduous trees, and seems to prefer dry 
situations to swampy localities. Its note is usually written " imck-up," 
or " kick-up," often followed by a harsh, abrupt " queep-queep "; at other 
times its call sounds like " whoty-whoty" (Bendire). The nest is usually 
13 



196 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

built from 5 to 20 feet from the ground on the horizontal Hmb of a 
deciduous shrub or tree, made of fine roots, grass, and catkins, rather 
loosely constructed in flat saucer shape about 3 inches in outside diameter 
and 2 inches by i inch inside dimensions. The eggs are from 2 to 4 in 
number, usually 3, of a creamy ground color boldly spotted with dark, 
reddish brown; average dimensions .74 by .53 inches. They are usually 
laid from the 30th of May to the 15th or 25th of June. 

Empidonax trailli alnorum Brewster 
Alder Flycatcher 

Plate 63 

Empidonax traillii alnorum Brewster. Auk. April 1895. 12:161 
Empidonax trailli alnorum A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 216. 
No. 466a 

trailli, to Thomas S. Traill, a Scotch naturalist 

Description. Upper parts grayish brown tinged with olivaceous; wing 
bars and edgings of the wing tawny whitish; under parts yellowish white 
tinged on the breast with grayish; flanks and under tail coverts strongly 
washed with yelloivish. Lower mandible light colored; tail slightly rounded 
instead of emarginate. 

Length 5.5-6 inches; extent 9; wing 2.6-3; tail 2.3-2.6; bill from 
nostril .34; width at base .30; tarsus .66. 

Distribution. This subspecies inhabits eastern North America from 
central Alaska, Keewatin, central Quebec and Newfoundland south to 
Montana, southern Ontario and northern New Jersey, and the mountains 
as far south as West Virginia, and winters in Central America. In New 
York it is a summer resident in the greater part of the State, fairly com- 
mon in the Catskills and Adirondacks and in the colder swamps of central 
and western New York. It has been found breeding at Buffalo by James 
Savage; Penn Yan by Verdi Burtch; Branchport by Clarence F. Stone; 
We.st Barry by Neil F. Possun; Oneida county by Egbert Bagg; Wilmurt 
by Doctor Ralph; Phelps by B. S. Bowdish; Nyack by L. W. Brownell; 
Gretna by Lispenard Horton; Cortland by H. C. Higgins; Kenwood by 
W. R. Maxon; Cayuta by L. A. Fuertes; Medina by Dana C. Gillette; 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK I97 

the upper Ausable lake, Elk lake and Boreas pond by the author and 
his assistants in 1905. This little flycatcher has evidently extended its 
range within recent years in some parts of the State, for no nests and eggs 
of this species were collected in the years between 1 860 and 1 885 in many 
portions of western New York where it is now known to breed, although 
during those years the country was very thoroughly worked over by- 
inveterate oologists. Mr Miller (Auk, 20, 68) found it breeding at Plain- 
field, N. J. It is thus evident that this species is not confined to the 
Canadian zone, but is found both in the transition and the Canadian 
swamps. During the migration season it occurs in nearly every portion 
of the State, arriving from May 8 to 15 and passing on to its breeding 
grounds between the 20th and the 30th. In the fall the migration is 
principally accomplished between the 15th and the 30th of August. 

The Alder flycatcher prefers swamps more or less thickly covered 
with a low growth of alders, willows, meadowsweet and other low shrubs, 
but is rarely found within the depths of the forest. It sometimes occupies 
a rather lofty perch on a dead tree or top of an alder while singing its 
peculiar song which is uttered with apparent difficulty with a swelling 
of the throat and a labored jerk of the head. Doctor Dwight who heard 
it in the North Woods syllabizes it " ee-zee-e-up." Mr F. H. Allen writes 
it " wee-zee-up," the " up " very faint. DeWitt Miller writes it " grea'- 
deal " or " krateel." Tom Taylor, one of my assistants in the Mt Marcy 
region, insisted that the birds on the Upper Ausable marshes sang- 
" bU'te-o." It is evident that these different attempts to write the song- 
of the Alder flycatcher could not refer to the same note, and in different 
parts of the country he e-vidently sings differently. Beside this so-called 
song he has a little alarm note that sounds like " pep " or " pip "; and 
according to Bendire one like " whuish-whuish "; and Allen noted an 
emphatic " ca-weet." Like the Green-crested flycatcher this species usually 
keeps out of sight among the foliage. It is not found in dense woodland 
growths on the upland, but rather in the swampy tangles. The nest is 
usually concealed in a low alder or spirea or willow or swamp rose at 



198 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



a height of from i^ to 4 feet from the ground, and according to my experi- 
ence resembles considerably the nest of the Indigo bird, usvally some 
large leaves, grasses and straws forming a substantial foundation and 
the interior lined with grasses, pine needles and vegetable fibers. The 
outside dimensions of the nest are about 3 by 2.5 inches; inside dimensions 




Photo by James H. Miller 



Alder flycatcher's nest and eggs 

2 by 1.75; the eggs are 3 or 4 in number, creamy white, sprinkled with 
brown, more thickly about the larger end and average .73 by .53 inches 
in diameter. The dates when fresh eggs have been found vary from June 
13th to 28th and a few have been taken as late as the 25th of July. The 
period of incubation, as in most of the small flycatchers, is 12 days. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK I99 

Empidonax minimus (W. M. & S. F. Baird) 
Least Flycatcher 

Plate 68 

Tyrannula minima W. M, & S. F. Baird. Proc. Acatl. Nat. vSci. Phila. 1843. 

1 : 284 
Empidonax minimus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 216. No. 467 

minimus, Lat., smallest 

Description. This is the smallest of all ovir small flycatchers. Upper 
parts grayish brown tinged with olivaceous ; wing bars and edgings whitish ; 
under parts dull whitish tinged across the breast with grayish brown and 
washed on the flanks with light yellowish, but mtich whiter in general 
on the imder part than either the Alder or the Green-crested flycatcher. 

Length 5-5.5 inches; extent 8; wing 2.2-2.6; tail slightly emarginate 
2.1-2.4; bill from nostril .29, width at base .25; tarsus .65. 

Distribution. The Least flycatcher or Chebeck, as it is usually called, 
is a common summer resident of all portions of the State, being almost 
or quite as common as the Wood pewee both in settled districts and in 
the wooded hills of the " southern tier " and the outskirts of the Adiron- 
dacks. It arrives from the south from April 25th to the 12th of May, 
average date being May 3, and departs for the south from the 5th to the 
25th of September. Its general distribution is from central Mackenzie, 
Quebec and Cape Breton southward to Nebraska, Indiana, Pennsylvania 
and New Jersey, and its winter range from northeastern Mexico to Panama 
and Peru. 

The haunts of the Least flycatcher are the garden, orchard, grove 
and open woodland. He is more often seen in exposed positions than 
either the Alder, Green-crested or Yellow-bellied flycatchers and is a rather 
familiar bird of orchard lands, sitting on the top of the apple tree or the 
telegraph wire, uttering continually his chebeck or sebic with a slight jerk 
of the head. At other times it seems to say " s-slick-s-slick " or " sewick." 
It has also a call note which resembles the syllable " whit " and is some- 
times seen hovering over the trees where the nest is concealed twittering 
a low " whit-wee-wee.'' The nest is a compactly felted structure, more 
delicate in appearance than that of any of our other small flycatchers, 



200 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

and resembles somewhat a Goldfinch's nest, mostly composed of gray 
plant fibers and cottony down, feathers, hair and a few grasses, placed 
in the upright crotch of a tall bush or small tree lo to 25 feet from the 
ground. The outside dimensions are about 3 by 2.5 inches, the inside 
dimensions 2 by 1.5. The eggs are 3 or 4 in number, milk white in color, 
the average size .65 by .50 inches. Fresh eggs are found from May 20 
to 30, or in the northern counties from the 5th to the 15th of June. 

Suborder OSCINES 

Songbirds 

Syrinx with 4 or 5 pairs of intrinsic muscles. These are inserted 
at the ends of the 3 upper bronchial half rings, thereby producing a greater 
flexibility and effectiveness of the voice apparatus. The tarsus is bilami- 
nate, each side being covered with a horny plate meeting its mate behind 
in a sharp ridge. The primaries are 9 or 10, the first often short or spurious. 

This suborder includes the greater number of our perching birds which 

are characterized by the complexity of their song. They all have the 

bilaminate tarsus, with the exception of the larks described under Family 

Alaudidae, and the thrushes with their relatives, that have a "booted tarsus," 

the chief characteristic of these highly differentiated birds which are usually 

considered to represent the acme of avian evolution. 

Family ALAUDIDAK 

Larks 

Wings long and pointed, the inner secondaries conspicuously elongated; 
primaries 9 to 10 in number; tail of moderate length, rather broad and 
squarish; bill stout, short, subcorneal; nostrils covered with tufts of bristles; 
tarsus subcylindrical and scutellate both before and behind, a very unusual 
condition for the passerine foot; the hind claw long and much straightened, 
evidently adapted for walking in the field or snow; moult single; plumage 
more or less mottled and streaked. This family is holarctic in distribution, 
numbering about one hundred species. They resemble sparrows in feed- 
ing habits. Most, if not all the members of the family, however, seem 
to be walkers instead of hoppers, spending most of their time upon the 
ground. They are excellent flyers, hov/ever, progressing in long, sweeping 
undulations, and many of the species migrate over vast extents of country. 
They are musical, several species singing while on the wing, mounting 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 20I 

higher and higher in the air like the famous skylark of Europe. They 
nest upon the ground. Eggs usually 4, closely mottled with brown. The 
sexes are nearly alike in coloration. The larks are valuable not only for 
their interesting habits and song, but the destruction of weed seeds and, 
during the nesting season, of numerous insects on which the young are fed. 

Alauda arvensis Linnaeus 
Skylark 

Plate 69 

Alauda arvensis Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. 1758. Ed. 10. 1:165 

A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 218. No. 473 
alauda, Lat., lark (from Celtic, meaning high song); arvensis, Lat., of the ploughed 
field 

Description. About the size of the Horned lark but lighter colored; 
upper parts of 3 different shades; the center of the feathers dark brown, 
fading to grayish white or yellowish white on the outer margin, giving 
a general streaky grayish appearance to the upper parts. Under parts 
dull whitish and yellowish white more or less spotted on the breast with 
grayish brown. The outer tail feathers whitish. 

Length 7.5 inches; extent 14.7; wing 4; tail 2.5; bill .5. 

Distribution. This European species has been introduced in New 
York State, especially on the western end of Long Island and in the 
southern Hudson valley. In 1887 it had evidently become established 
near Flatbush, Long Island, and was found breeding there July 2, 1887 
(see Dutcher, Auk, 5, 180). It was still breeding near Flatbush in July 
1895 (see Proctor, Auk, 12, 390) and Doctor Braislin noticed them at Neck 
Road, Long Island, in March 1898. John Burroughs speaks of them 
as occurring at Esopus-on-the-Hudson (see Pepacton, pages 150-53). 
It is thus evident that this famous songster became definitely established 
in the southeastern portion of New York and retained its hold for many 
ytars. But the latest reports from western Long Island seem to indicate 
that the birds are not increasing in numbers or barely holding their own. 
So it is evident that without further introduction of new stock from Europe 
this bird will not become a widely dispersed species in America as the 
English sparrow and Starling have done. 



202 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Otocoris alpestris alpestris (Linnaeus) 
Horned Lark 

Plate 69 

Alauda alpestris Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. 1758. Ed. 10. 1:166 
Alauda cornuta DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 179, fig. 165 
Otocoris alpestris alpestris A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 219. 
No. 474 
otocorys, Gr., carcrest, alluding to the plumicoms; alpestris, new Lat., of the Alps 

Description. Upper parts ocherous brown and grayish brown ; 
the scapulars, back and side of neck and head more or less tinged with 
vinaceous; tail square, mostly black; the central tail coverts almost as long 
as the tail feathers, colored like the back and mostly concealing the tail 
when it is closed; a black maxillary stripe on each side of the head from the 
base of bill to below the ear; black ear tufts or plumicorns above the eyes 
rising from the sides of the forehead and connected around the frontlet 
by a blackish line; a black breast plate somewhat crescent shaped in the 
middle of the breast ; the throat deep sidphur yellow; frontlet near the base 
of the bill and line over the eye also decidedly tinged with yellow. Under parts 
otherwise grayish white, tinged on the sides with vinaceous and brownish. 
Female: Smaller and less brightly colored. 

Length 7.75 inches; wing 4-4.25; tail 2.4-2.9; bill .38-.45. 

Distribution. The Homed lark inhabits the boreal region from Boothia 
peninsula to James bay, Labrador, and Newfoundland, and winters south 
to the Ohio valley and the Atlantic coast to Georgia. In New York it 
is a common winter resident of Long Island and the coastal region of the 
State in general, but in the interior and western portion of the State it 
has not been taken in recent years to my knowledge. Thirty or 40 years 
ago it was considered a winter resident of the lake shore region of western 
New York, but for 15 years I have failed to secure any specimens on 
the shores of Lake Ontario or Lake Erie although it unquestionably 
does occur there in the winter or during the migration time in the late 
fall. In general, however, we must say that this species is confined princi- 
pally to the coastal districts, and that the Prairie horned lark is the sub- 
species commonly found in the western portion of the State both in sum- 
mer and in winter. The homed lark arrives from the north on Long 
Island from October 20 to November 15 and is last seen in the spring 
from the ist to the 20th of March. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 203 

Otocoris alpestris praticola Henshaw 
Prairie Horned Lark 

Plate 69 

Otocorys alpestris praticola Henshaw. Auk. July 1884. 1:264 
Otocoris alpestris praticola A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 2 ig. 
No. 474b 

praticola, Lat., pratum, meadow, and colere, to inhabit 

Description. This species resembles the Homed lark in color, but 
is paler; throat not so deep a yellow and often white without a tinge of sul- 
phur; the forehead and line over the eye a dull white without any decided 
tinge of yellow. It is also smaller than the Horned lark. 

Length 7.25 inches; wing 3.75-4.2; tail 2.4-2.6; bill .38-40. 

Distribution. The Prairie homed lark, which is a subspecies of the 
preceding, inhabits the interior of North America from southern Manitoba, 
southern Quebec and" southern New Hampshire to eastern Kansas, Ohio, 
West Virginia and Connecticut. It winters as far south as Texas and 
Georgia. In New York State the history of this species has been exceed- 
ingly interesting. While many of our valuable song and insectivorous 
birds have been diminishing in numbers, this species has gradually increased 
year after year, until at the present time it inhabits the greater portion 
of this State as a summer resident. A perusal of the records before me 
indicates that in 1876 this species was found breeding in central and western 
New York. At Canandaigua by Mr Howey (see N. O. C. Bull. 3, 40); 
at Rochester by Mr Jones (ibid., 3, 89); at Lowville by Doctor Merriam 
(ibid., 3, 53); in 1877 Mr Rathbun found it breeding at Auburn; in 1881 
Mr Park found it breeding at Green Island near Troy. In 1884 it 
was found breeding first in Niagara county by Davison and in 1885 at 
Virgil (see Forest and Stream 22, 145). In 1886 a female was taken at 
Long Island City on July 31 (see Dutcher, Auk, 5, 181). In 1900 Mr 
Lispenard S. Horton found it breeding at Gretna, and in 1899 Mr Pember 
at Granville, Washington county. In 1905 the author found it on June 16 
feeding its fledglings at Elizabethtown in Essex county. It is evident 
by a perusal of these records and many others, that there has been a great 



204 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

increase in the abundance of this species on the grasslands of New York 
and also of the surrounding states, until at the present time it has invaded 
not only the eastern part of New York, but Connecticut, Massachusetts 
Vermont and other New England states. This species having originally 
been confined to the prairie region has now found conditions favorable 
to its habitation in the eastern states and has gradually been spreading 
year after year till now we must call it one of the common birds of the 
open field. It is almost a permanent resident of New York for it is found, 
in western New York at least, during every month of the year, although 
it is decidedly uncommon in most localities from the middle of December 
until the middle of January. We may safely say, however, that it is the 
earliest species of passerine birds to migrate. From the 17th to the 23d 
of January, provided there is fair weather, we are almost sure to see an 
increase in the number of Prairie horned larks in the fields of western 
New York, and their number gradually increases until the middle of 
February when the mating song of the males is distinctly heard and nearly 
all the birds are paired by the middle of March. They frequently begin 
to breed, however, as early as the first of March for I have found the nest 
containing eggs well started in incubation on the nth of March at 
Rochester. Nests have also been reported from Erie county in February 
and early March. It is thus the earliest of our small songbirds to nest 
in western New York. The Prairie horned lark is a bird of decided per- 
sonality. He is often seen running along the road in front of the carriage 
or horseman; when approached too closely he erects the jet black tufts 
of feathers like devils' horns on the sides of the head, and if more closely 
pressed flies over the field at a moderate elevation with long gliding strokes 
of his pointed wings and alights on some stone, clod of earth or possibly 
on a fence post. If watched for some time the male will be seen gradually 
to mount in the air higher and higher with continued hovering motion 
of the wings, uttering his fine, threadlike whistle. He mounts higher and 
higher, after, the manner of the famous Skylark, sometimes reaching 
a height of several hundred feet, all the while uttering his twittering song 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



205 



until finally exhausted he drops like a dart to the field to rejoin his mate. 
This flight song is almost sure to be heard several times a day over the 
field in which the nest is concealed. The Prairie horned lark walks and 
runs instead of hopping like our common sparrows, and his ample square 
tail, which is black when extended in flight, as well as his long pointed 
wings and easy gliding flight, distinguish him readily from any of our other 
field birds. It is evident that two broods are often reared in this latitude, for 
after the first brood are well fledged, it is a common thing to find nests 
containing fresh eggs as late as the middle of May or early in June. After 
the young are reared, they are found about plowed fields and waste lands, 
in little troops consisting 
usually of a pair of old birds 
and their young. Frequently 
the troop consists of 5 or 6 
birds; at other times of 10 
or 12, which leads me to 
believe that the old and their 
young keep together during 
the greater part of the season. 
Late in the fall they gather 
into larger bands and in the 
springtime after the migra- 
tions are well advanced, it is 
not unusual to see flocks of 1 5 and 20 Prairie horned larks feeding together 
on the open fields in any part of central or western New York. The nest is 
concealed in the pasture or meadow beside a clod of earth, a cobblestone, 
or a tuft of grass, and consists simply of a few grasses lining the hole which 
the mother bird has scooped out in the earth, or in a depression caused 
by the foot of a cow or some other domestic animal, which she has rounded 
and lined with grasses. The eggs are almost invariably 4 in number, 
grayish white in ground color, very thickly spotted with light brown, 
resembling closely the eggs of the English sparrow but more thickly and 




Photo by George C. Embody 
Prairie homed lark's nest and eggs 



206 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

evenly spotted and of a slightly diflferent shape; average dimensions .85 by 
.63 inches. Frequently, as will be inferred from what is said above, the 
eggs are laid before the last severe snow storms of the season. Photographs 
by Professor Bailey and others which I have seen frequently show the nest 
through a round hole in the snow which is several inches deep about it. 
Evidently the old bird by continually sitting on the nest and raising 
her head keeps it open to the sky and so preserves her eggs from 
destruction; but frequently, if the snow is deep and the temperature 
severe, the first brood is destroyed. But as soon as the weather becomes 
pleasant again they invariably make new nests and continue until the 
young are successfully reared. This interesting little bird must be called 
a beneficial species, for its food consists through the winter months almost 
entirely of weed seeds. In this manner it destroys millions of noxious 
plants which otherwise would interfere with the proper development of 
the farmers' crops; and during the breeding season as well as through a 
large portion of the summer months, feeds to a great extent on the insects 
which destroy the field vegetation, especially small grasshoppers and leaf- 
eating beetles and the larvae of all kinds of insects. 

Otocoris alpestris hoyti Bishop 

Hoyt Honied Lark 

Paler than alpestris, more grayish brown; throat paler yellow, and superciliary 
stripe white; size of alpestris. (A.O.U. No. 474k) 

This subspecies breeds from the western shore of Hudson bay to the mouth of the 
MacKenzie and the Arctic coast; migrates southward to Utah, Kansas, Ohio, and Long 
Island in winter. For New York records see Oberholzer, U. S. Nat. Mus. Proc. 24, 
845. Dwight, Auk, 7:143. Bishop, Auk, 13:132. It is uncommon in this State, and 
can be identified only by collecting specimens and comparing them with museimi series. 

Family CORVIDAE 

Crows, Jays and Magpies 

Primaries 10; tail variable, usually rounded; 12 rectrices; bill cuUri- 
rostal, stout; nostril covered by deitse tufts of bristles; rictus also provided 



BIRDS OF NEW 



YOI^ 207 



with a few bristles; middle toe joined to the outer as far as the first joint; 
size medium to large, the family including the Raven and the Crow, cur 
two largest passerine birds. Sexes alike in coloration and size; voice harsh 
and unmusical, though the syrinx is well developed; subfamilies of Crows 
or Corvinae, and Jays and Magpies (Garrulinae) are recognized. 

These birds are mostly omnivorous in diet, feeding on insects, young 
birds, small mammals, fish and crayfish, fruits and grains. Thus, as would 
be expected, they frequently develop injurious habits which are very 
destructive to song birds and sometimes to the farmers' crops. Undoubt- 
edly, in general, the Crow and the Blue jay arc injurious species. A care- 
ful study of the food of the Crow by Prof. Walter B. Barrows will be 
found in Bulletin 6, Biological Survey, United States Department of Agri- 
culture, and of the Blue jay in the Yearbook for 1896, pages 197-206. 

Pica pica hudsonia (Sabine) 

Magpie 

Corvus hudsonius Sabine. Franklin, Narr. Journ. Polar Sea. 1823. 671 
Pica caudata DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 131, fig. 53 
Pica pica hudsonia A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 221. No. 475 
pica, Lat., magpie; hudsdnia, of Hudson bay 

Description. Tail very long, rounded, and the central feathers 
elongated. Head, neck, back, throat, breast and under tail covers black; 
secondaries, belly, sides and inner webs of primaries white; wings and tail 
glossy, metallic greenish blue, the whole varied with bronze and purplish. 

Length 17.4-22 inches; wing 7.3-8.5; tail 9.3-12; culmen 1.1-1.4. 

Distribution. This species is mostly confined to the western country 
from the Yukon, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg to New Mexico; and rarely 
straggles eastward as far as Illinois, Michigan, Ontario, Hudson bay and 
Quebec. The only record for New York State is on the authority of DeKay 
who reports its occurrence near Niagara, but there is, as far as I know, no 
specimen in existence which was taken within the limits of the State. It 
is not improbable that it may have occurred in the northern and north- 
western portion of the State, however, for it occurred at Odessa, Ontario, 
in March 1898 (see Clarke, Auk, 15:274). 



20S NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Cyanocitta crista ta cristata (Linnaeus) 
Blue Jay 

Plate -o 

Cor V US cristatus Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. 1 758. Ed. lo. i : 106 
Garrulus cristatus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 129,. fig. 54 
Cyanocitta cristata cristata A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 222. 
No. 477 

cyanocitta, Gr., v.jx/o;, blue, and ■/.i-~x, jay; cristdta, Lat., crested 

Description. Head conspicuously crested; tail and wings rounded; 
upper parts light purplish blue; wings and tail bright cobalt blue; the 
secondaries and tail feathers barred with black, the longer wing coverts, 
secondaries and tail feathers except the central pair conspicuously tipped 
with white ; side of the head and throat purplish white bordered by a black 
collar running over the nape down the sides of the head and neck and 
across the forebreast; lores black; breast and sides grayish fading to clear 
white on the belly and under tail covert. 

Length 11-12.5 inches; extent 15. 7-17. 5; wing 5-5.7; tail 5-5.7; bill 
1.25; tarsus 1. 25-1. 35. 

Distribution. The Blue jay inhabits eastern North America from 
central Alberta, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland south to the 
gulf coast. In New York it is a resident of all portions of the State but 
is a common species only in the less settled districts, seeming to prefer 
evergreen or mixed woodlands, and in western New York is confined mostly 
to the larger forests, swamps and ravines. Although Blue jays may be 
found in nearly every county of the State at any time of the year, it is 
perfectly evident to a careful bird student that there is a decided migration 
of the species, the southward movement occurring in October from about 
September 20 to October 30. In the spring the northern migration is 
later than would be expected, migrating individuals often occurring in 
considerable numbers from the 25th of April to the 25th of May. I have 
frequently noticed as many as 20 or 30 Blue jays in small patches of wood- 
land near the shore of Lake Ontario and on the shores of Canandaigua and 
Seneca lakes at this season of the year, evidently migrating northward to 
their breeding grounds, for whatever specimens were taken were found 
not to be nearer than three weeks to the breeding period although Blue 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



209 



jays which nest in the localities mentioned already were incubating their 
eggs or had young in the nest. In southern and western New York the 
Blue jay makes its nest in April. It is usually placed in an evergreen, 
although small deciduous trees are often selected, and is composed of sticks, 
leaves, bark and plant fibers, and lined with dead twigs of hemlock or 
strips of bark and other fine 
materials. The eggs are com- 
monly deposited from the 20th 
of April to the 15th of May. 
They are from 3 to 6 in num- 
ber, pale olive greenish or 
buff'y in ground color, spotted 
more or less profusely with 
brown. They average i.i by 
.82 inches in size. 

The Blue jay is one of 
the noisy birds of our wood- 
lands, especially when he sees 
a man, a hawk or any large 
object moving through the 
forest. He seems always 
to be shouting his high 
shrill ' 'jay "or " ydh-ydh-ydh ' ' : 
and also imitates very suc- 
cessfully the scream of the 

Red-shouldered hawk, and has I^M^^^fl^^^^^t ^' 

other notes resembling the Ph-^by l. s. Honon 

tooting of a small bugle. His °'''= ''''''' ""'' ""'' '""' 

activity is almost incessant and his mischief never ending. Most naturalists 
consider the Blue jay one of the worst nest robbers we have, and there 
is little doubt that they are correct, for my own experience shows that he 
is extremely fond of birds' eggs and young birds; but he also does some 




2IO NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

good by destroying many injurious insects, and plants many forest trees. 
I have seen him carrying acorns and chestnuts near my camp on Canan- 
daigua lake, and hiding them at a considerable distance from the trees 
where he found them, evidently with the idea of picking them up later. I 
had heard that the Blue jay was a tree planter but I had always supposed that 
he planted them simply by dropping the nuts while flying from place to 
place in the forest ; but in this instance, he carried the acorns and placed 
them under the dead leaves. Going to the spot I uncovered them myself 
and was surprised to find that sometimes at least, like the gray squirrel, 
he actually plants the nuts in the ground evidently intending to store 
them for future use. In the fall and winter the Blue jay frequently attacks 
the com standing in the shock and also visits the granaries to peck at the 
kernels which are exposed between the cracks of the boards. This slight 
destruction of grain in the fall but more particularly his wanton destruc- 
tion of young birds, perhaps more than overbalances the good he does. 

Perisoreus canadensis canadensis (Linnaeus) 
Canada Jay 

Plate 71 

Corvus canadensis Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. 1766. Ed. 12. 1:158 
Garrulus canadensis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 130, fig. 55 
Perisoreus canadensis canadensis A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910, 

p. 226. No. 484 

perisoreus, derivation uncertain, perhaps from -sptawpsjio, to heap up around, refer- 
ring either to the bird's instinct to hoard food, or to the large, high-walled nest ; canaden- 
sis, of Canada 

Description. Tail long and rounded; frontlet, nasal tufts, sides of the 
head, throat and forechest dull white; occiput and hack of neck blackish; 
upper parts dusky gray; tips of the wing feathers and tail feathers indis- 
tinctly tipped with whitish; ttnder parts dull grayish. Young similar 
but darker, without any white about the head and throat. 

Length 11-12 inches; wing 5.6-5.9; tail 5.6-6.4. 

Distribution. The Canada jay inhabits the boreal region of eastern 
America from Mackenzie, Keewatin and northern Quebec to Alberta, 
northern Minnesota, Michigan, New York and Maine. It rarely straggles 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 211 

southward in the winter, but has been taken in Nebraska, Pennsylvania 
and Massachusetts. In New York State it is confined to the Adirondack 
district and is scarcely if ever, seen outside the spruce and balsam belt. 
In the denser portion of this Adirondack forest it is a fairly common 
resident, both in the spruce and tamarack swamps and on the wooded 
mountain slopes. While our party was camping in the Mt Marcy region 
these birds were found at intervals in all the forests from the Ausable 
lakes to Skylight camp on the slopes of Mt Marcy. 

This jay is known to the northern hunters also under the names of 
Whiskey jack, Moose bird and Camp robber as well as various other 
epithets referring to his fearlessness in attacking and devouring any kind 
of meat or fat which is accessible about the camp. In the winter season 
it is almost impossible to drive these birds away from the carcasses of 
deer or other animals which have been killed, and they will enter the camp 
and hop about the table devouring anything within reach, scarcely giving 
any attention to the human occupants who are endeavoring to drive them 
away. This jay is much less noisy than the Blue jay and consequently 
is a more agreeable attendant of the northern hunter. When following 
deer through the North Woods I have frequently discovered that these 
birds were also following me, evidently expecting that I might be suc- 
cessful in bringing down the quarry, but the only evidence that I had of 
their approach was. the silent flitting of shadows behind me as the birds 
alighted from time to time in the branches not far above my head. The 
Canada jay breeds very early in the season, in the Adirondack forests 
evidently making its nest late in February or early in March. This is a 
bulky affair and is composed of twigs, rotten wood, bark, and catkins, 
lined with softer materials of the same kind, especially catkins and feathers 
from the bird itself. It is usually placed in a small conifer close to the 
trunk. The eggs are 3 to 5 in number, dull gray, profusely speckled with 
brown and purplish, the average dimensions being about 1. 15 by .82 inches. 
The young are out of the nest and flying about foraging for themselves 

by the middle of June. 
14 



212 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Corvus corax principalis Ridgway 
Northern Raven 

Plate 71 

Corvus corax principalis Ridgway. Manual N. A. Birds. 1887. 361 
Corvus corax DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 134, fig. 51 
Corvus corax principalis A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 228. No, 
486a 
corvus, Lat., crow; corax, Lat., and Gr., xopa^, raven; principdlis, Lat., chief 

Description. Decidedly larger than the crow; bill much heavier and 
the feathers of the throat long and pointed; color as in the crow. 

Length 22-26.5 inches; extent 46-53; bill about 3.05; wing 16. 5-1 8; 
tail 9.9; tarsus 2.65. 

Range. The Northern raven breeds from northwestern Alaska, 
northern Elsmere Land and northern Greenland south to Washington, 
central Minnesota and the coast of New Jersey; in the mountains as far 
as Georgia. In the eastern states it is uncommon in the cultivated districts. 
In New York the species is confined to the western Adirondack region, 
although stragglers are sometimes taken in various parts of the State, 
as follows: Comae hill, Long Island, in 1836; Brooklyn, 1848; Mayville, 
three seen in 1861 by A. E. Kibbe; Wolcott, 1875 (see Auburn List); 
Lansingburgh, one seen in 1872 by F. S. Webster; Cayuga, 1880, one seen 
by Foster Parker; Canandaigua lake, one shot about 1885 by " Quake " 
Smith; Sandy Creek, about 1890, J. W. Soule; shore of Lake Ontario in 
Monroe county, about 1885, taken by David Bruce; border of Schoharie 
county, one seen by John Burroughs; Lake George, October 29, 1897, 
specimen in the State Museum; Granville, a rare straggler, F. T. Pember; 
Mt Marcy, October 23, 1875, several seen (see Colvin, seventh report 
Adirondack Survey, page 96); Oneida lake, October 1878, J. P. Hutchins. 
All these records are evidently of stragglers, usually seen in the fall or 
winter. At the present time a few may be seen in the western Adirondack 
region, especially in the northern portions of Hamilton and Herkimer 
counties, the southern portion of St Lawrence county and the eastern 
portion of Lewis county. In this part of the North Woods the Raven 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 213 

still breeds, but in constantly diminishing numbers. Formerly it was 
well distributed throughout the State, before the virgin forest was destroyed. 
In 1 8 10, when Dewitt Clinton visited the western counties, he saw great 
numbers of ravens on the borders on Seneca lake near the village of Geneva 
and was told that no crows had made their appearance in that part of the 
country (see Clinton, Intro. Dis. before the Lit. and Phil. Soc. New York, 
May 4, 1 8 14). One hundred years from this date, or in 1910, the Raven 
had been unknown for many years by the inhabitants of Ontario county 
and the common Crow had been for 50 years an abundant resident of all 
the surrounding country. Such is the history of the Raven and the Crow 
in all portions of New York. 

Habits. In habits the Raven is more sedate and retiring than the 
Crow, walks with an easy graceful air, is more deliberate and dignified. 
On the wing he sails more than the Crow, and the wing stroke is peculiar, 
at once attracting the eye as decidedly different from the flight of its- 
commoner relative. His notes are a low, gurgling chuckle, or a hoarse 
rolling cr-r-r-cruck, sometimes cra-ack, cra-a-ck, varied by deep grunting 
koe-rr-koerr (Bendire) . This description of its notes enabled me to identify 
the Raven at once long before it was seen, in the region of Lake Nipissing 
and in the Adirondack forest. 

The Raven's breeding site is on cliffs or trees. The nest is compact,, 
symmetrical, made of sticks and weed stalks, lined with grasses, hair, 
wool and other soft materials. It is usually occupied year after year. 
The eggs have been found to vary from 2 to 7 in number, and resemble 
those of the Crow, but average 1.75 by 1.2 inches in dimensions. 

The food of the Raven is offal or refuse of any kind such as dead fish 
and other animals. In the North Woods it is a common experience to 
find ravens about the spot where deer have been killed and " dressed." 
They feed also on young birds, frogs, mice etc., but there seems to be no 
likelihood that ravens will ever be common enough in New York to receive 
economic consideration. There is rather cause to fear that this famous, 
and picturesque bird will disappear entirely from the State domains. 



214 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Corvus brachyrhynchos brachyrhynchos Brehm 

Crow 

Plate 72 

Corvus brachyrhynchos Brehm. Beitr. Vogelkunde. 1822. 2:56 
Corvus americanus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 132, fig. 52 
Corvus brachyrhynchos brachyrhynchos A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 
1910. p. 22S. No. 488 

brachyrhynchos. Or., short billed 

Description. With the exception of the Raven, our largest passerine 
bird. Plumage entirely shiny black with purplish reflections. The bristly 
nasal tufts reach halfway to the end of the bill. 

Length 17-21 inches; extent 34.5-38; wing 11. 9-1 3. 3; tail 7-8; bill 
1.8-2; tarsus 2.2-2.4. 

Distribution. The Crow inhabits eastern North America from southern 
Mackenzie, central Quebec and Newfoundland to Texas and the Gulf 
States. In winter it withdraws from the northern limit of its range, but 
in New York is an abundant winter resident throughout the coastal district, 
the Hudson valley, and the lowlands of western New York. It breeds 
in every county of the State, entering the Catskills and Adirondacks along 
the cleared land and river valleys to the very centers of those districts. 
About Mt Marcy we found crows at Boreas pond. Flowed land, Keene 
valley, and John Brown's grave, but they do not inhabit the depths of 
the Adirondack forest, being replaced by the Raven in the wildest portion 
of the western Adirondacks. On the highlands of southwestern New York 
and in the northern portions of the State, the Crow makes its appearance 
early in March with the first warm weather, perhaps about the same time 
as the Robin and Blue bird, sometimes a few days earlier. In all parts 
•of the State the mating season may be said to occur in March and in the 
warmer portions of the State the nests are repaired, or the construction 
begun, as early as the third week in March, and the eggs are frequently 
laid by the ist of April. But the average date would perhaps be April 
1 5 to 30. The nest of the Crow is usually placed in the fork of a tall tree, 
either evergreen or deciduous, at a height varying from 10 to 80 feet from 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 215 

the ground, usually above 30 feet. It is a bulky affair, with a large founda- 
tion of sticks, twigs, cornstalks or other similar materials, and a well-formed 
central cup of the soft inner bark of dead trees, vegetable fibers, or grasses 
and cow's hair. Typical nests in western New York are lined with the 
bark of grapevines and Arbor vitae or the inner bark of the basswood. 
It is deeply hollowed, so that the bird can scarcely be seen from the ground 
except the tip of her tail projecting over the edge of the nest. The eggs 
are 3 to 5 in number, frequently as many as 7, the ground color varying 
from a pale bluish green to olive green, rather thickly spotted and blotched 
with brown and gray. They average 1.7 by 1.18 inches in dimensions. 
The period of incubation is about 17 or 18 days, and the young remain in 
the nest about 3 weeks. The habits of the Crow are too well known ta 
require extended comment, with the possible exception of its tendency to 
gather in roosts during the winter months. There are situated in New York 
State, on Staten Island, on Long Island, in the Hudson valley and in the 
lowlands of western New York perhaps one dozen to two dozen large crow 
roosts. It has been practically impossible to obtain reliable information 
as to the different roosts. In the vicinity of the author's home there has 
been for 15 years a large roost just west of the city of Rochester, usually 
in the town of Gates, and also an immense roost in the vicinity of Niagara 
Falls, a large roost in Ontario county, and another in Tompkins county 
near the head of Cayuga lake. I have several times visited the Gates 
crow roost and as nearly as I could estimate the numbers congregated 
were between 20,000 and 40,000. During the day they are accustomed 
to spread over the country about the lower Genesee valley as far north 
as Scottsville and sometimes to Geneseo and along the shores of Lake 
Ontario and Irondequoit bay. The Ontario crow roost was formerly just 
north of the village of Canandaigua. It has been moved several times 
within the last 12 years. Eleven years ago it was at Paddlefords Station 
in a small patch of second growth deciduous timber. The number of 
crows was estimated at 20,000 (see Eaton, Auk 20, 57-59). The fol- 
lowing year it moved several miles to the eastward and for 5 years at least 



2l6 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

has been in the Gainey swamp, i§ miles south of Pheips, where many 
thousands of crows — ^ probably 30,000 to 40,000 — have been in the habit 
of roosting from November to March. About the last of December 191 1, 
however, this roost broke up. A small portion, that is, the crows of west- 
em Ontario county, still remained to roost to the nvmiber of 3,000 or 4,000 
just northwest of Melvin hill; the remainder joined the crows of Seneca 
county roosting near the town of Varick, a few miles southeast of Geneva. 
Inquiry in different parts of the State indicates that it is customary for 
the crow roosts to vary both in numbers of crows assembled and in the exact 
location of the roost from year to year, but it is a fact that during the winter 
months in all portions of the State the crows congregate in great numbers 
to roost, whereas, during the simimer months, the roosts consist of only a 
few crows, from 50 to 300 being the usual number of male crows and 
others which are not engaged about the nest, which meet together to roost 
at night, and as soon as the young are out of the nest the roosts become 
larger but rarely more than a few hundred, until the winter season begins, 
when large roosts are organized, and usually the country covered during 
the day extends from 20 to 30 miles in various directions from the roost. 
The food of the crows at this time of the year consists mostly of grain 
left in the field, especially unhusked corn, dead animals such as cattle, 
horses, calves, sheep etc., which are left exposed in the field, dead fish and 
other animals found along the shores of lakes and streams, crayfish and 
other aquatic animals taken from the shallow water, thorn apples and other 
fruits which are searched for under the dead leaves, beetles, cocoons and 
larvae of insects which are unearthed from rotten wood, dead leaves and 
sod, and occasionally frozen apples hanging on the trees, and field mice 
which are hunted in the swamps and meadows. During the summer the 
food of the Crow consists to a large extent of cutworms and other injurious 
larvae of insects, but they also feed to a considerable extent upon pre- 
daceous beetles and the eggs and young of smaller birds, as well as upon 
chickens and hens' eggs found at some distance from the farmhouse. They 
also destroy numbers of grouse and pheasant eggs as well as the young of 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 217 

these birds. On account of the destruction of eggs and young of beneficial 
species, I am inclined to think that the Crow in most localities is to be 
ranked as an injurious species, but we must remember that the injurious 
insects destroyed by the Crow's victims, while far outnumbering what 
the Crow himself would destroy of those special insects, would never equal 
the number of cutworms and white grubs which the Crow destroys on 
meadows and cultivated land. Consequently, we must take into considera- 
tion the fact that the Crow is the principal enemy of cutworms and white 
grubs, whereas most of the small birds which he destroys, though decidedly 
beneficial, do not reduce the numbers of cutworms to any great extent. 
I believe that the Crow's case must be decided independently by each 
intelligent agriculturist, for in some localities he may be in the main bene- 
ficial while in others he should be considered injurious. I am certain that 
the crows which live on the hillsides back of my camp are injurious from 
my standpoint in life, because they destroy a large percentage of the eggs 
and young of the small song birds which are so beneficial and such pleasant 
neighbors, whereas it is evident that they do very little good in destroying 
cutworms or other insects, except grasshoppers, in that locality. On the 
other hand, I have seen wide fields of lowland where cutworms had destroyed 
perhaps 30 per cent of the com crop and crows were rendering efficient 
service in reducing the number of the pest. The Crow is such an active, 
intelligent and versatile character that it is practically impossible to balance 
his general account satisfactorily to the agriculturist. At times he appears 
in a highly beneficent role, energetically bent on the wholesale destruc- 
tion of grasshoppers, cutworms and "Junebugs"; at others, he is the 
traditional black robber of the cornfield, the orchard, the pea patch and 
the chicken yard ; and again he is the ruthless destroyer and the cannibal, 
rifling the Thrush's and the Grouse's nest and slaughtering the helpless 
nestlings of our vireos and warblers. The farmers of New York are more 
or less at variance in their opinions regarding the Crow's character, accord- 
ing as their individual experiences have been favorable or otherwise. But 
bird lovers can have no two opinions in their reports if they have followed 



2l8 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

the Crow, early and late, through the months of May, June and July and 
have watched with loving care the nests of their woodland songsters. They 
will find the Crow among the worst enemies of the bird's nest and the 
fledgling. 

Corvus ossifragus Wilson 

Fish Crow 

Plate 72 

Corvus ossifragus Wilson. Amer. Orn. 1812. 5:27, pi. 37, fig. 2 

DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. 2:135 
A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 229. No. 490 
ossifragus, Lat., boncbreaking, referring to its piscivorous diet 

Description. Distinguished from the common Crow by its smaller 
size. It is, however, of a more uniform black color, with bright bluish 
and greenish reflection on the under parts as well as on the upper parts. 
It may also be distinguished by its call notes which resemble those of a 
young Crow. 

Length 1 5-1 7.5 inches; wing lo-ii; tail 6-7; bill 1.7; tarsus 1.7-2. 

Distribution. This crow inhabits the coastal districts of the eastern 
United States from Connecticut to Louisiana and Florida. In New York 
it is confined to the lower Hudson valley as far as West Point and 
occasionally to Poughkeepsie, very rarely farther up the river, and to the 
western portion of Long Island. It has been reported from Rockaway, 
July 1873, by Eagle; Oyster Bay, December 30, 1874, by T. Roosevelt; 
Riverdale, by Bicknell; West Point, by Mearns; Mt Vernon, by Eames; 
Sandy Hook, by Zarega; Esopus-on-the-Hudson, as a common summer 
resident, by Burroughs (see Bicknell, " Birds of the Catskills," page 135); 
Staten Island, fairly common, and Long Island, fairly common and breed- 
ing, by Purdy; Bellport, Long Island, common summer resident, breeding, 
W. A. Babson; Manhasset, Long Island, 4 specimens, by Dutcher; Park- 
ville. Long Island, nest and eggs taken in 1894 by H. C. Oberholzer; reported 
from Hudson by Will Richard and Troy by F. S. Webster; also reported 
as identified by size and note near Geneva, N. Y., by F. H. Hall and Otto 
McCreary. Although the species may occasionally be found as far inland 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 21 9 

as Troy, it is extremely rare to find it far from a tidal river and it is usually 
confined to the immediate vicinity of the seashore. 

Haunts and habits. When there is no Common crow nearby with 
which to compare the size of the Fish crow, it is very difficult to identify 
him by size alone, but his notes are very characteristic, consisting of an 
expressionless croak, resembling, as before said, the note of a young Crow, 
but a hoarser " car,'' sometimes a clear " cah " or a " cahk " often repeated. 

The breeding site of the Fish crow is usually in cedars, about 25 feet 
from the ground, near the waterside. The nesting materials are sticks, 
bark and grasses, lined with inner strips of grapevine bark and fine 
grasses, the structure resembling very closely the nest of the Common 
crow. The eggs are from 4 to 6 in number, in color not distinguishable 
from those of its larger relative, but smaller, averaging i .46 by i .06 inches. 

Its food consists mostly of fishes, crabs and other small crustaceans 
and offal washed up on the shore. Occasionally, like its larger relative, 
it feeds on the young and eggs of smaller birds. It is less sociable in 
habits than the Common crow, but is often seen in company with that 
species. It is less suspicious, however, than the Common crow and more 
easily approached. 

Famly STURNIDAE 

Starlings 

Sturnus vulgaris Linnaeus 

Starling 

Plate 74 

Sturnus vulgaris Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. 1758. Ed. 10. 1:167 

A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 230. No. 493 
sturnus, Lat., starling; vulgaris, Lat., common 

Description. Shaped somewhat like the Meadowlark but with a 
relatively longer bill and shorter tail; general color black glossed 'with 
iridescent purple and greenish, spotted with buff or brownish white; bill 
yellow; winter plumage with the brownish or buffy of the upper and under 
parts mostly obscuring the greenish and purple. Sexes almost alike. 
Female slightly more spotted below; young plain grayish -brown. 

Length 8.5 inches; wing 5.1; tail 2.6; bill i; tarsus 1.2. 

Distribution. The Starling is a native of western and central Europe 
wintering mostly in southern Europe and northern Africa, now introduced 



220 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

in the vicinity of New York City. Several attempts were unsuccessful, 
but the birds liberated by Mr Eugene Schieffelin in 1890 in Central Park, 
have spread over all the country in the vicinity of New York as far east as 
central Long Island and up the Connecticut valley as far as Hartford and 
Springfield; up the Hudson valley to Newburgh and through New Jersey 
to Princeton. As early as 1900 I noticed hundreds of starlings spending 
the winter in Momingside Park and the vicinity of Kings Bridge, and 
in 1905 Mr Robinson reported them as well established at Newburgh. 
They undoubtedly will continue to spread up the Hudson valley and 
throughout the State, if not throughout the country, unless their advance 
is artificially checked. There is scarcely reason to believe that they 
could ever become the pest that the English sparrow has proved itself in 
all parts of the country, and yet it is doubtful whether this is a desirable 
species to introduce in all parts of the State, for, like the sparrow, it occupies 
the nesting sites of all those birds which naturally breed in boxes or holes 
in trees, thus crowding out our martins, tree swallows, blue birds, nut- 
hatches and probably the woodpeckers. Besides this, they are largely 
frugivorous, being particularly destructive to cherries, currants, berries 
and other small fruits, and doubtless would become a veritable pest in 
the grape regions of central and western New York if they ever became 
abundant in those localities. The Starling, nevertheless, is an interesting 
bird. It feeds mostly on the ground like our Meadowlark, destroying 
large numbers of cutworms and grasshoppers. I have noticed it taking 
the berries from ampelopsis and other vines. It is more arboreal in 
habits, however, than the Meadowlark, often sitting and singing for hours 
amongst the foliage of parks and groves. His chatter is rather pleasing 
although he is scarcely the mimic that he is famed to be. Apparently he 
takes suggestion from the songs of all birds and utters a confused jargon 
of notes interspersed with clear whistling sounds and gutteral chortlings. 
The starlings are more closely gregarious than the meadowlarks, the 
flocks frequently appearing as dense as flocks of rice birds. In England 
and northern Europe the " clouds of starlings " are justly famous, some- 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 221 

times practically darkening the sky and appearing in the distance like 
^reat storm clouds drifting over the country. The eggs of the Starling 
number from 4 to 7, usually 5 or 6, of a pale greenish blue to bluish white 
in color and average 1.16 by .84 in dimensions. 

Family ICTKRIDAE 

Blackbirds and Orioles 
Nine primaries; g secondaries; tail feathers 12; bill rather ^iow/ and more 
or less conical, with the commissure sharply bent downward as in the sparrow; 
tarsus scutellate and bilaminate, most of which characteristics they share 
in common with the sparrows; the bill, however, is typically cidtrirostral 
and shows a decided tendency to taper to a sharp point but in species like 
the Cowbird and Bobolink approaches very closely the typical sparrow 
type. There is considerable variability in this family, as in the sparrow 
family, in the shape of the tail and the wing, but they are both usually 
more or less rounded. The family is American, consisting of about 130 
species, the Oriole branch of the family usually characterized by brilliant 
plumage, while the Blackbird section shows darker plumage with more 
or less brilliant iridescence. Many build hanging nests, and the whole 
family is frequently spoken of as the " hang nests." The eggs are usually 
5 or 6 in number and show a tendency to pen-line markings as in our common 
Oriole and Blackbird. There is usually a distinct sexual differentiation 
in color, the females being decidedly duller and usually smaller in size. 
This family, like the sparrows which they resemble, is largely granivorous 
■except the orioles which are more confined to insectivorous and frugiv- 
orous diet. The blackbirds and meadowlarks are among the best of 
the ground gleaners which we possess, feeding largely on worms, white 
grubs and grasshoppers. Only the Crow blackbird and Red-winged black- 
bird have been accused of serious depredations in the grain fields and the 
family in general is beneficial, excepting the Cowbird, which has developed 
the curious parasitic habit so destructive to our smaller songbirds, and, 
at times, the Crow blackbird because of its destruction of the eggs and 



222 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

nestlings of our smaller birds. An account of the food of blackbirds 
and Crackles, determined by examination of stomach contents, by Prof. 
F. E. L. Beal, is found in Bulletin 13, Biological Survey, United States 
Department of Agriculture. 

Dolichonyx oryzivorus (Linnaeus) 
Bobolink 

Plate 73 

Fringilla oryzivora Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. 1758. Ed. 10. 1:179 
Dolichony.x oryzivorus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 144, fig. 48 

A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. igio. p. 231. No. 494 
dolichonyx, Gr., soXtxoi;, long, and ovu;, nail; oryzivorus, Lat., oryza, rice, and vorare, 
to devour 

Description. Male: Mostly black; the scapulars, rump, and upper 
tail coverts dull white; the back of the neck buff; except in high plumage 
the feathers of the back, wings and even the under parts are more or less 
edged with buffy whitish; the high plumage almost pure black, white and 
buff. Female: Upper parts olive buff streaked with blackish; under parts 
buffy white; a conspicuous line of buffy through the center of the crown and 
from the base of the bill over each eye. Winter plumage: Both sexes 
and young similar to female but more olivaceous above and more buffy 
below. In all plumages the tail feathers are sharp pointed. 

Length, cf 7.25-8 inches, 9 6.5-7; extent 12-12. 5; wing 3.75-4; tail 
2.6-2.9; bill .6; tarsus i.i. 

Distribution. The Bobolink breeds from southeastern British Colum- 
bia, Saskatchewan, central Quebec and Cape Breton to Utah, Illinois, 
West Virginia and New Jersey, being most abundant in the Alleghanian 
area; winters in South America as far as Paraguay; migrates mostly through 
the West Indies and the coast of Central America. In New York State. 
the Bobolink probably breeds in every county. In the Catskills and 
Adirondacks, however, he only enters as far as civilization has established 
meadows and open, grassy fields for his accommodation. He is not 
especially common on Staten Island and Long Island but, nevertheless, 
breeds in each locality especially near the edge of the salt meadows. In 
the rocky and dryer portions of the plateau region of New York he is not 
so common as on the lowlands. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 223 

Haunts and habits. The spring migration is accomplished between 
the 29th of April and the loth of May. Sometimes he is not noted before 
the 15th or 20th in the northern portions of the State. In the fall they 
disappear between the loth and the 30th of September, but are occasionally 
found as late as the 5th of October; at least, they have been heard 
migrating at night as late as the ist and 5th of October. This species 
must be regarded as a common summer resident of the State in all the 
grasslands, but late plowing and early mowing have reduced its members 
considerably in recent years. 

All country people know the Bobolink and nearly all the American 
poets have celebrated him in song. There certainly is something very 
entertaining in the abandonment, ecstacy and irrepressible merriment 
of the Bobolink's melody as he sits in the blossoming apple tree or swaying 
on a tall spear of grass pouring forth his soul to his mate hidden in the 
meadow, or to the soul of summer. Frequently he is too much overcome 
with his feelings to remain in the apple tree and soars about over the 
meadows with quivering wings and gurgling roundelay. If his mate chances 
to appear he gives chase and pursues until she darts among the thick 
grasses to resume her duties of housekeeping. 

The bobolinks, even in the nesting season, are somewhat sociable 
in habits and several males are sometimes found both in the migration 
season and in the nesting period seated in the same tree trying to drown 
each other's voices in song, and sometimes several at the same time may 
be seen in the air circling and singing over the same meadow or swamp- 
land. Besides the gurgling, bubbling melody of the Bobolink he has 
a call note, a clear metallic " chink,'" which he utters in migration, evidently 
to tell his associates where he is flying, and over the meadows as a sign 
of alarm or as a call to his companions. There is something peculiarly 
characteristic about this clear " chink " which makes it unmistakable 
even when heard at night as the birds are migrating at a great distance 
above the ground. 

The nest of the Bobolink is hidden under the thick grass of meadows 



224 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

or clover fields or swamplands, in a slight hollow in the ground, composed 
of dry leaves, weed stems and coarse grasses, lined with finer grasses. 
Outside dimensions, 4 by 2 inches; inside dimensions, 2J by ij. The 
eggs are from 4 to 7 in number — in this State usually 5 or 6 — pale drab 
or pearl gray in color, sometimes pale rufous, rather thickly blotched and 
spotted with irregular lines and marks of chocolate, claret brown, lavender 
and deep purplish. They average .84 inches in length by .62 in diameter. 
The nest is very difficult to discover as the female rarely leaves it directly 
when disturbed, but almost without exception runs through the grass 
before taking wing. The surest way is to lie in wait and watch the locality 
where they disappear with nesting materials or when visiting the nest 
after the eggs are laid; but even then they usually alight some distance 
from the nest and considerable strategy is necessary in order to locate 
it exactly. The young are hatched in about 11 days and develop very 
rapidly so that they are able to take wing in from 10 to 14 days; but even 
at this rate, although the fresh sets of eggs are usually found from the 25th 
of May to the loth of June, the nest is often uncovered by the mowers 
and the young destroyed on account of the practice, which is becoming' 
more and more prevalent, of mowing the meadows in June rather than 
in July, as was formerly the custom. Consequently, the Bobolink is 
becoming less common in most portions of New York. 

By the 20th of July the Bobolink's song has entirely ceased and only 
a very few males at that date may be found that are still in the black and 
white coat, and by the first week in August they will be found in the edge 
of the swamps or in the tall meadows, the males, females and young almost 
indistinguishable in color. They remain in this State until late in August 
or early September when they visit the flowed lands of the Delaware and 
Susquehanna and are known as Reed birds and are slaughtered by thousands 
for the city market; but when they reach the coast of Carolina, Georgia 
and Louisiana they become a scourge to the southern planters, descending^ 
on the rice fields in such myriads that it is necessary to station many men 
on every rice field and shoot several pounds of powder for each acre ia 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 225 

order to preserve the crop from their depredations, at least if the grain 
is still in the milk. It has been estimated by the Biological Survey experts 
that millions of dollars damage is done every year to the rice crop of 
the South by the Ricebird, as he is invariably called in the southern states. 
The Bobolink does not remain in the rice states, but before he has left 
sometimes a large portion of the planters' income has been destroyed. 
Therefore, more than any of our native species, he has a double reputation, 
being perhaps our most favorite songbird in the northern states and the 
most dreaded of all the small birds of America in the southern states. 

Molothrus ater ater (Boddaert) 
Cowbird 

Plate 74 

Oriolus ater Boddaert. Table PL Enl. 1783. 37 

Molothrus pecoris DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 143, fig. 45 (?) 

Molothrus ater ater A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 231. No. 495 

molothrus, Gr., "one who enters others' habitations unbidden " (Swainson); dter, Lat., 
black 

Description. Head and neck " coffee " or " deep wood " brown with 
purplish iridescence. The rest of the plumage glossy black, lustrous with 
greenish and bluish reflections. Female: Dusky brownish gray, often 
with dark shaft streaks giving a slightly streaked appearance. Young in 
their first plumage resemble the female, but the belly is whiter, tinged 
with greenish buf? and spotted with dusky. In August and September 
while changing to the adult plumage, many of the young are seen in pied 
coloration, large patches of black showing among the grayish or mouse- 
colored immature plumage. 

Length 7.5-8.25 inches; 9 7-7.5; extent 11. 7-13. 5; wing 4-4.6; tail 
3-3.351 tarsus i; bill .68. 

Distribution. This species breeds in North America from southern 
Mackenzie and Keewatin, Quebec and New Brunswick to northern Cali- 
fornia, northern New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana and North Carolina, and 
winters from southern New York to the gulf coast and central Mexico. 
In New York it is altogether too common a summer resident in all portions 
of the State up to the beginning of the Canadian zone, but it also invades 



226 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

the valleys and cleared lands of the Adirondacks to the farthest edge of 
the AUeghanian area in that district. In the southern portion of the 
State it is frequently found throughout the winter. On several occasions 
in different cities of central and western New York I have noticed one 
or more cowbirds that were spending the winter in company with English 
sparrows, and on the Monteziuna marshes, when the sedges and grasses 
have borne good seed, it is not an uncommon occurrence to meet with 
flocks of from lOO to 300 cowbirds in the severest part of the winter; but 
this has not been observed in recent years. Occasionally small flocks 
are observed during winter in the Hudson valley, and in central and western 
New York, but they seem to be wandering from place to place. The 
spring migration of the Cowbird is well started by the middle or the 20th 
of March, the bulk of birds which have migrated southward arriving before 
the 30th of March or the loth of April. In the fall the species becomes 
scarce or wholly disappears from the ist to the loth of November. 

Haunts and habits. The Cowbird is so named from its habit cf 
following cattle in the pasture and frequently alighting on their backs 
in order to secure insects which infest them or which are driven from the 
grass as they browse along. In this way, of course, the bird accomplishes 
some good. It also devours immense quantities of weed seeds, not only 
in the spring and summer, but more particularly in the fall when it fre- 
quents grain fields and, as my examinations have shown, feeds not so much 
upon the waste grain as upon the seeds of pigeon grass, ragweed, smart- 
weed, pigweed and other species which grow in profusion in all cultivated 
lands. In this way I have reckoned that at least half an ounce of seed 
a day is, on the average, destroyed by each member of the flock. The 
flocks of cowbirds found during September in the grain fields and pastures 
are so large that on one occasion after discharging my gun into a flock 
which was passing I picked up 64 birds from the two discharges of the 
gun, which will indicate the density of the flock. My estimate of the 
flock referred to was that there were between 7000 and 10,000 birds 
The usual flock in the fall, however, consists of from 50 to 200 birds. They 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 227 

fly more densely at this season than the redwings and grackles. In the 
evening, like these species, they visit the marshes to roost near the ground 
in the dense reeds and sedges close to the water line. 

In spite of all the good the Cowbird does, however, I can not believe 
that it is a beneficial species to have about the gardens, lawns and orchards, 
for, as is well known, it parasitizes all our small song and insectivorous 
species, thereby destroying the whole brood of the foster parent, and in 
return for a brood of Yellow warblers, vireos. Song sparrows or some other 
interesting and beneficial species we have one Cowbird as the result of 
the foster parent's work. Consequently, although, as Bendire says in 
his Life Histories, the Cowbird is beneficial when taking into consideration 
its food alone, it certainly must be reckoned injurious, because the four 
song birds which would reasonably represent one Cowbird do much more 
good than the Cowbird to the agriculturist as well as the nature lover. 

The Cowbird begins to deposit her eggs from the ist to the 15 th of 
May and they are often found as late as the loth or 20th of June. Every 
one of our small song birds is more or less frequently chosen as a foster 
parent. A list of 91 species in whose nests the eggs of the Cowbird have 
been found was compiled by Bendire. In this State I have noticed at 
least 35 species parasitized by this bird, the commonest of which in my 
experience are the Phoebe, Song sparrow, Towhee, Indigo bird. Red-eyed 
vireo. Yellow warbler, American goldfinch, Vesper sparrow. Chipping 
sparrow, Warbling vireo. Redstart and Chestnut-sided warbler. . Fre- 
quently as many as 2, 3 or 4 eggs of the parasite are found in one nest, 
but in this case only i or 2 or possibly none of the eggs of the nest owner 
are found with the Cowbird's eggs. The egg, being usually larger than 
that of the foster parent, receives the greater amount of heat from the 
incubating bird and consequently hatches more quickly, usually in 10 
days after being laid. The young Cowbird, also being larger than the 
rightful offspring, takes more of the food and so in a short time he is left 
as the sole occupant of the nest. Of all the hundreds of young cowbirds 
which I have seen being led about and fed by Indigo birds. Song sparrows, 
15 



228 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Yellow warblers and Phoebe birds, as well as many other species, not one 
in my experience has ever been accompanied at the same time by any 
of the parent's own offspring, showing that in every instance the Cowbird 
destroys the rightful inhabitants of the nest. Frequently the mother 
Cowbird herself assists in this destruction by picking holes in the eggs 
she finds in the nest, or by casting them out upon the ground; but this 
is unnecessary as the young Cowbird always will effect this result if left 
to himself alone. I have noticed in several instances that interesting 
species as, for instance, the Yellow-breasted chat and the Yellow-throated 
vireo, which came to the hillside near my camp on Canandaigua lake and 
were parasitized by the Cowbird, never returned to nest in the locality. 
I had become enthusiastic over the vireos and the chats that sang to 
me every morning as I sat by the campside and was counting on a fine 
brood of young ones which might return the next season and enliven our 
surroundings; but although I should have been wiser and discovered the 
nest to see that all was going well, I trusted to nature in each instance 
and what was my disgvist when the young came from the nest to find the 
Yellow-throated vireos leading around one disgusting Cowbird instead 
of their brood of young, and the chats deserted the hillside in the middle 
of July. They evidently were disgusted in their season's occupation or, 
having been killed during their southward migration, never returned. 
So these instances, like others of my personal experience, are typical of 
ntmiberless instances that could be noted of birds which fail to rear their 
young and consequently never return to the nesting site again. When 
we consider this influence which the Cowbird exerts on our avifauna, I can 
not consent to consider him otherwise than as an injurious neighbor. 

Cowbirds are not only parasites but polygamists and free lovers in 
habit. Small troops of several males and a few females are found all 
through the breeding season flying around together and walking about 
on the lawns with spritely step, pruning their glossy plumage and exulting 
in the freedom from family cares, the males occasionally uttering their 
uncouth guttural notes and the females, when startled or when seated 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 229 

upon the fence or trees, uttering a shrill note resembling that of the Cedar- 
bird. The male, when uttering his squeaking chortle, ruffles up the feathers 
of the breast and extends the wings, somewhat after the manner of the 
Red- winged blackbird when uttering his " congaree," an attitude which is 
evidently more or less characteristic of the family. 

The eggs of the Cowbird are white in color, rather profusely and 
evenly speckled with various shades of brown and grayish lavender. They 
average .84 by .65 inches, extremes lying between .7 and i inch in length, 
and .61-.66 in width. They resemble more closely the eggs of the English 
sparrow than those of any native species. 

Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus (Bonaparte) 
Yellow-headed Blackbird 

Icterus xanthocephalus Bonaparte. Joum. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. 1826. 

5:223 
Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 

p. 232. No. 497 

xanthocephalus, Gr., ^avOo?, yellow, and xsipaXi^, head 

Description. Male: Head, neck and chest yellow; primary coverts 
and a portion of the greater coverts white; otherwise uniform black. 
Female: Brownish dusky, throat and chest dingy yellow; breast mixed 
with white; young cf similar to the female, larger, darker color. 

Length cf 10.6-11 inches; 9 9-10; wing 4.5-5.8; tail 3.6-4.8. 

Distribution. This species inhabits western North America from 
southern British Coliunbia, southern Mackenzie and northern Minnesota 
to southern California, Arizona and the valley of Toluca in Mexico, its 
eastern limit being southern Wisconsin, central Iowa, northern Indiana; 
winters from southern California and southwestern Louisiana to Puebla 
in Mexico; appears accidentally in eastern North America, in Ontario, 
Quebec, Pennsylvania and Florida, and once in New York State. The 
specimen now in the State Museimi was reported as taken at Irondequoit 
bay near Rochester in September 1899. Its occurrence was purely acci- 
dental, but this species is likely at any time to appear in flocks of Red- 
winged blackbirds which are coming in from the Northwest. 



230 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Agelaius phoeniceus phoeniceus (Linnaeus) 
Red-winged Blackbird 

Plate 73 

Oriolus phoeniceus Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. 1766. Ed. 12. 1:161 
Icterus phoeniceus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 141, fig. 47 
Agelaius phoeniceus phoeniceus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 

p. 233. No. 498 

agelaius, Gr., gregarious; plioeniceus, Lat. and Gr., deep red, Phoenician red, 
referring to the male's epaulets 

Description. Male: Lustrous black; bend of the wing bright deep 
scarlet, bordered with creamy buff. Female: Considerably smaller, blackish 
feathers of the back with rusty and buffy edges, giving a rather streaked 
appearance; under parts blackish heavily streaked with dull white; the throat 
and bend of the wing more or less tinged with salmon or reddish. Young 
males at first like female; the first winter plumage resembling the male, 
but the red of the wing much duller and all the feathers broadly margined 
with rusty and buffy above and buffy or whitish below. 

Length cT 9-5-9.75 inches, 9 7-5-8; extent cf 15-16, 9 12.5; wing 4.7-8; 
tail 3.7-3.9; bill .93; tarsus 1.12; weight 2.5-3 ounces. 

Distribution. This species inhabits North America east of the plains 
from Ontario and Quebec to northern Georgia and Louisiana; winters 
from southern New York and Ohio to the gulf coast. 

In this State the Redwing is a common siunmer resident of all districts, 
even the marshes of Staten Island and Long Island and the edges of Elk 
lake and the Flowed land near Mt Marcy. A few spend the winter in 
the southern portion, but the majority are migratory, making, their appear- 
ance in the spring from the 15th of February to the loth of March in the 
southern portions and from March 5 to 25 in the northern counties. In 
the fall they disappear from the ist to the 20th of November, sometimes 
remaining in numbers till the ist of December. 

Haunts and habits. Everyone who has visited the marshes or river- 
side is familiar with the Red-winged blackbird and with his gorgeous 
epaulets and the spritely " congaree " which he continually utters when 
perched on the top of the cat-tails or alders or on the neighboring telegraph 
wire or when flying along with outspread tail over the tops of the sedges. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



231 



The female is a smaller, inconspicuous bird. As far as I have observed, 
she never utters the clear congaree call so characteristic of the male, but 
frequently, as she flies up from the marsh and away over the field, shouts 
out a confused rattling sound or a single clicking call note. 




Photo by Ralph S. Paddock 



Red-winged blackbird's nest and eggs 



These birds are gregarious both in the spring and fall, the first migrants 
usually coming in flocks of from 30 to 300. Frequently I have been in 
the marshes during the first warm spring days without seeing the expected 
redwings, when all at once, late in the afternoon, from the southward^ 



232 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

with measured wing strokes, a scattered company would come over the 
hili at an elevation of from 50 to 100 feet and make directly for the marsh, 
alighting on the alders and sedges as if they were perfectly at home. 
Evidently these birds migrate by day, as I have seen them come into the 
marshes many times in this manner, making their first appearance late in 
the afternoon. 

The habitat of the Redwing in nesting time is almost without exception 
in flooded land where sedges, cat-tails and bushes rise from very wet soil or 
from the water, preferably where the water is from i to 3 feet deep. The 
nests are attached on all sides to the cat-tails, sedge grass or the bushes 
in which they are constructed, and are usually placed only a few inches 
above the water, but sometimes at a height of 3 or 4 feet. They are made 
entirely of grass and sedges woven into a compact structure with the live 
grass intertwined between the outer and coarser portions of the nesting 
material. The inner portion is lined with fine rushes, grasses and sedges. 
The eggs are from 4 to 6 in number, usually 5, of a pale bluish or greenish 
white with pen lines of blackish and dark brown and claret brown some- 
times arranged in a wreath near the large end, on others irregularly and 
thinly scattered over the surface. The average dimensions are 1.05 by 
.72 inches. 

This species is rhore or less injurious to the grain fields, especially 
com, when it is in the milk. I have seen hundreds of acres of corn land 
in the vicinity of extensive marshes which had been seriously injured by 
the attacks of these birds. In the early days of the country the Redwing 
was called the maize thief from his depredations upon the cornfield, but 
now when the cornfields are so ntimerous and the marshes of such com- 
paratively slight extent and, consequently, the redwings are so few in 
number, the damage they do is so small as scarcely to be noticeable except 
in a few instances. At other times of the year they are a beneficial species, 
feeding upon weed seeds, cutworms, grasshoppers and all kinds of insects. 
Scores of stomachs which I have examined in August, September and October 
were filled with grasshoppers. About 70 per cent of the food in autumn 
was weed seeds, occasionally mixed with grasshoppers and cutworms. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 233 

Agelaius phoeniceus fortis Ridgway 
Thick-billed Red-wing 

Like phoeniceus but larger; bill relatively shorter and thicker, cf wing 
4.9-5.2 inches; tail 3-S-4-i; bill, length .82-1.06, depth .53; 9 wing 4-4.3; tail 
2.8-3.25; bill, length .68-81, depth .45. 

This subspecies breeds from MacKenzie and southern Keewatinto northern Texas; 
wanders eastward during migrations. Specimens showing the dimensions of this form of 
Red-wing are occasionally taken in New York during the spring and fall migrations, 
especially in autumn. 

Stoirnella magna magna (Linnaeus) 
Meadowlark 

Plate 75 

Alauda magna Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. 1758. Ed. 10. 1:167 
Sturnella ludoviciana DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 138, fig 42 
Sturnella magna magna A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. igio. p. 235. No. 501 
sturnella, Lat., diminutive of sturnus, starling; magna, Lat., large 

Description. Prevailing color of upper parts brown streaked with 
blackish, the ground color really being black, each feather edged and 
tipped with rufous or brown and ocherous buff ; the head with j broad stripes 
of huffy white; sides of the head and neck grayish white; 3 or 4 outer tail 
feathers mostly white; spot in front of eye, throat, breast and belly mostly 
bright yellow, the breast with a large black crescent; sides grayish white 
tinged with buff, streaked with black; wing coverts grayish ash mottled 
with blackish; lower belly white. At a distance the white tail feathers 
are conspicuous as is also the bright yellow breast when turned toward 
one, and the black crescent, also the brownish black head striped with 
buff and the general striped brown and black effect of the upper part. 
The female smaller, duller colored. In fall plumage the yellow and black 
more or less veiled with buffy or ocherous. 

Length cf 10.5-11 inches; 9 9-10.25; extent 14-16.50; wing 4.7-5; 
tail 3.16; bill 1.4; tarsus 1.70; weight 4 to 5 ounces. 

Distribution. The Meadowlark inhabits eastern North America from 
eastern Minnesota, southern Quebec and New Brunswick to northern 
Texas, Missouri, and North Carolina, and winters mostly from southern 
New York and the Ohio valley to the Gulf of Mexico. In New York it 
is a common summer resident of all parts of the State except the forested 
portions of the Catskills, Adirondacks and Allegany highland and in the 



234 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

southern counties is almost always met with in small numbers throughout 
the winter. On the Montezimia marshes and other large swamps good 
sized flocks are also observed in winter when grass seed is abundant. The 
majority of individuals, however, are migratory. These arrive from the 
south from the 2d to the 20th of March, sometimes as late as the 30th, 
and disappear in the fall between the ist and the 30th of November. 

The Meadowlark prefers open grass country, prairies, wide meadows 
and pasture lands being his favorite haunts. He secures all his food upon 
the ground, and walks, like all the ground-feeding members of his family, 
preferring weed seeds and some waste grain in the fall and winter, but 
in the spring, summer and early fall lives mostly on grasshoppers, crickets, 
larvae of insects which are found in the meadows, and ground-feeding 
beetles. He sometimes does harm by destrojdng tiger beetles and black 
ground beetles which are predaceous in habit, but secures much less of 
these on account of their activity than of the species whose larvae feed 
upon the vegetation of the meadows. In fact, he spends most of his time 
upon the ground but is frequently seen perching on tree tops, fence posts 
and other elevated stations, apparently to watch the locality for members 
of his own company or to utter his clear call note. The Meadowlark's 
flight is strong and well-sustained. When under way it usually consists 
of several rapid wing strokes alternating with short periods of sailing. 
He rises with a buzzing of the wings which reminds one somewhat of 
a Quail's flight and has given him in many localities the name of " Marsh 
quail." He was formerly hunted for game throughout most of the north 
central states, but his flesh is comparatively unpalatable and his beauty, 
as well as beneficial habits, should place him in the list of song and insec- 
tivorous birds rather than among the game birds. The clear, plaintive 
whistle of the Meadowlark which is heard from the time he arrives in 
spring till almost the end of the season has been variously described by 
different authors. Bendire says it is often interpreted " laze-kill-dee." 
I have frequently heard it interpreted " spring-most-here." At least it 
consists of about three syllables, a high and plaintive whistle. Beside 
this note he has a harsh guttural chatter uttered when flying from the 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



235 



grass or over the meadow, also a nasal " peent " as it is written by Chapman, 
as well as a call frequently uttered when alighting upon a fence post or 
tree and accompanied with a fluttering of the tail, which may be written 
" eeck-eeck." The nest of the Meadowlark is hidden among the thick 
grasses or underneath a tussock of sedge or clover, and consists of weed 



'mm 








Meadowlark's ne.st and eggs 



stems and coarse grasses, lined with finer blades of grass. It is somewhat 
arched over, both by the construction materials and by the grass among 
which it is placed so that it is almost impossible to. detect its situation 
unless the bird is flushed from the nest. The eggs are from 4 to 6 or 7 
in number, usually 5 in my experience, with a white ground color more 
or less thickly speckled and spotted with brown, rusty and lavender. They 



236 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

are rather elongated ovate in shape, sometimes practically elliptical and 
measure from .85 to 1.21 inches in length by from .'J2 to .89 in width, the 
average dimension being i.i by .8 inches. The period of incubation is 
about 16 days. The young after a few days are so covered with down 
interspersed with brownish and buffy feathering, and remain so silent 
and motionless, closing their eyes when any unusual sound approaches, 
that it is practically impossible to distinguish them. I have frequently 
looked into the nest of a Meadowlark and been unable to tell whether 
there were 2 or 7 young, without first unraveling the tangle with my fingers. 
This is undoubtedly a great protection to the young birds as they would 
not be noticed by their enemies. Nevertheless, great numbers of the 
young are destroyed by early mowing which is practised so generally 
throughout the New York meadows. This species which in 1895 was 
reported by Bendire as decreasing throughout central New York due to 
this cause seems at present time to be maintaining its numbers by adapta- 
tion to the existing conditions, nesting more in waste places, or in localities 
which are not mowed and raked by machinery, or by nesting so early 
that the young are out of the way of the mowing machine. Meadowlarks 
like blackbirds are a sociable species, very rarely an individual being found 
alone. In' the fall they gather into small troops, not simply one pair with 
their young, but apparently several families, so that from the same meadow 
or marshland from 30 to 50 or even 100 meadowlarks are frequently flushed 
and in the southern states where the principal number of the species pass 
the winter I have frequently seen thousands gathered in the same field. 

Icterus spurius (Linnaeus) 
Orchard Oriole 

Plate 75 

Oriolus spurius Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. 1766. Ed. 12. 1:162 
Icterus spurius DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 140, fig. 46 

A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 23. No. 506 
icterus, Gr. and Lat. for jaimdice, a yellow bird, probably the golden oriole; spurius, 
Lat., spurious, bastard, referring to this bird's former name of " Bastard Baltimore oriole " 

Description. Adult male: Head, neck, throat and forward part of the 
back black; rump, under parts and lesser wing coverts chestnut; wings 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 237 

and tail fuscous edged with whitish. Female: Grayish olive green; wing 
coverts tipped with whitish; tail bright oUve green; under parts dingy 
yellow. Male of the first year: Similar to female but browner. Male second 
year: Similar but with occasional patches of chestnut on the under parts. 
Length cf 7.25 inches, 9 6.5; extent 10.35; wing 2.9-3.25; tail 2.7-3.2; 
tarsus .88; bill .7. 

Distribution. The Orchard oriole inhabits eastern North America 
from North Dakota, Wisconsin, southern Ontario and coastal Massachu- 
setts to Texas and the gulf coast, and winters from southern Mexico to 
northwestern South America. In New York it is commonest in the 
vicinity of New York City, and in the lower Hudson valley, but is fairly 
common as far north as Albany and also on Long Island as far east as 
Bell port; also in the Delaware valley; but is decidedly uncommon in 
western New York although breeding records occur for several stations. 
On Staten Island and in the lower Hudson valley this species arrives from 
the 2d to the loth of May and departs again from the ist to the 17th of 
September, the breeding dates ranging from May 25 to June 20. In the 
interior of the State records of its breeding are as follows: HoUey, 1876, 
Possun, Auk, 16:195; Canandaigua, 1883, E. J. Durand; Granville, 1886, 
F. T. Pember; Hamilton, May 26, 1899,0. C. Embody; Montezuma, May 
27, 1899, Burdette Wright; Saratoga, June 11, 1810, A. S. Brower; Chau- 
tauqua county, 1902, Sarah Waite; Niagara county, Davison; Brockport, 
David Bruce; Orleans county, Davison; Green Island, Parks, June 2, 
1880; Esopus-on-the-Hudson, Burroughs; Orleans county, June 1904, E. H. 
Short; Auburn, 1885, F. S. Wright. Beside these breeding records there 
are numerous reports of individuals taken, the northernmost among my 
notes being from North Creek and Port Henry, June 22, and July 5, 1905, 
by Will Richard. It will thus be seen that this species at least as far as 
its distribution in New York State would indicate, is nearly confined to 
the Carolinian faunal area as a breeding species, rarely going beyond 
this into the lower portions of the AUeghanian zone. The favorite haunts 
of this species are orchards, shade trees and leafy tangles on the hillside 
and along a stream. The nest is usually placed nearer the ground than 
that of the Baltimore oriole, and is not so bag-shaped, but hangs only 



238 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

about 3 to 4 inches downward from the twigs on which it is suspended. 
The outside diameter is usually about 4-4.5 inches; the inner cup is usually 
about 3 inches deep by 2.5-3 inches outer diameter. The upper rim of 
the nest is, however, somewhat contracted, and it is almost entirely con- 
structed of thin, wiry grass; lined with softer substances like thistledown. 
The eggs are 4 to 6 in number, ovate in shape, with a pale bluish white 
ground color, overlaid with grayish or pearly. The markings consist of 
blotches, spots, scrawls and pen blots of purple, brown and pearl gray, 
heaviest about the larger end, forming more or less of a wreath, the darker 
brownish and blackish tints predominating. The average dimensions of the 
eggs are .82 by .57 inches. The song of the Orchard oriole is decidedly 
different from that of our commoner Baltimore oriole. It is a more finished 
effort, the voice rich and flexible with considerable expression. The song, 
however, is uttered in a rather hurried manner as if the bird were restless 
and implusive (Bendire). This bird is even more beneficial than the 
Baltimore oriole as it rarely, if ever, is known to feed on green peas or 
small fruits, so far as reported in this State, but subsists almost entirely 
on caterpillars and rose bugs, beetles and plant lice. 

Icterus galbula (Linnaeus) 
Baltimore Oriole 

Plate 7S 

Coracias galbula Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. 1758. Ed. 10. 1:108 
Icterus baltimore DeKay. Zcxjl. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 139, fig. 43 and 44 
Icterus galbula A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 238. No. 507 
galbula, Lat., name of some yellow bird 

Description. Colors orange and black; secondaries and greater coverts 
edged with white, the. former producing a rather distinct wing bar, the 
latter, wing streaks; the head, neck, throat and forward portion of back 
and greater portion of wings, and the middle portion of tail, black; under 
parts, sides, rump, upper tail coverts, base of the tail, internal portion 
of all except the middle tail feathers, orange, deepest on the forebreast 
where it is of a decidedly reddish orange. Bill and feet leaden bluish. 
Female and young: Much duller, the upper parts being mostly grayish brown 
to grayish olive, more or less mottled on the head, sides of neck and back 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 239 

with blackish; under parts dingy orange. The female has more blackish 
about the head, especially on the throat which shows more or less blackish, 
wanting in the young birds of the season. 

Length cf 7-8.2 inches, 9 7-7-6; extent 11. 75-12.3; wing 3.6; tail 
2.85; bill .7; tarsus .85. 

Distribution. The Baltimore oriole inhabits eastern North America 
from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia to northern Texas, 
Louisiana and northern Georgia; and winters from southern Mexico to 
northwestern South America. It is a common siunmer resident of all 
New York State with the exception of the wooded portions of the Catskills 
and Adirondacks, but enters the river valleys and cleared lands of the 
Adirondacks as far as Keene valley, Ausable chasm, Old Forge and similar 
locations. It is commonest in those portions of the State which lie in 
the Carolinian and warmer portions of the Alleghanian zone, inhabiting 
the orchards, shade trees and open groves. It evidently has increased 
considerably since the greater portion of the State was cleared and settled, 
and is as common in the streets and yards of our villages and cities as 
it is in the country districts. In several villages which I have examined, 
it is easy to make a census of the nvunber of orioles which evidently 
inhabited the region during the preceding summer. Usually about three 
nests will be found on each oriole tree, showing three years of habitation, 
sometimes as many as five in different stages of dilapidation, but the 
nest of the preceding season is almost always in fairly good condition. 
By inspecting these trees it will be evident to nearly any bird student 
that from 3 to 5 pairs of orioles must inhabit each large block of our cities 
and villages, where shade trees are abundant. Some seasons, however, 
the orioles seem much less common than in others when late snow storms 
in May kill large numbers or prevent them from migrating to their old 
haunts. The beautiful appearance and melodious notes of the Baltimore 
oriole are justly famous and have been praised by many poets, and every 
amateur bird student is enthusiastic over this bird which can always be 
found and heard during the " birding " season. Next to the Scarlet tanager 
he is probably our most gorgeously colored bird, and his song ranks at 



240 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

least among the first 20 for melody, but far excels the majority in familiarity, 
in fact, rivaling the Robin in this respect. The orioles arrive from the 
27th of April to the 8th of May in the warmer portions of the State, 
depending upon the season, in the northern districts sometimes not 
appearing until the loth or even the 20th. They immediately pair and 
begin building. By the 15th or the 20th of May fresh eggs may be found 
in the southern portions of the State; or from the 25th of May to the loth 
of June in cases where the first nest was destroyed ; and in the northern 
portions of the State, sometimes as late as the 20th of June. The period 
of incubation is about 12 days and the female is an ideal mother, defend- 
ing her young with great courage and caring for them in all kinds of weather. 
The young, however, are not such ideal offspring as she ought to expect, 
for they are, as Mrs Miller has called them, the crybabies of the bird world. 
From the time they begin to feather out until several days after they have 
left the nest, they keep up a continual complaining cry for food. In this 
way they are unquestionably located by many predaceous animals and 
thereby destroyed. The young orioles are usually out of the nest from 
the 20th of June to the 5th of July, and are very soon led away by the 
old birds into the woods, groves and dense hedgerows. Then we hear 
no more of the oriole's song until the latter days of August or the first 
week in September, when, after the autumn moult has been completed, 
the males frequently burst into melody for a few days before departing 
for their winter home. This departure occurs between the loth and the 
22d of September. The vernal song period almost always ends by the 
1 2th of July, usually several days before then. The Baltimore oriole 
is especially valuable to the horticulturist and forester on account of its 
attacks upon the caterpillars of various species which feed upon the foliage 
of trees. He even feeds upon the hairy caterpillars which are chosen 
by few birds with the exception of the cuckoo, and destroys large numbers 
of leaf -eating beetles or their larvae and devours also many aphids, rose 
bugs and other hemiptera. Occasionally the oriole destroys a few cherries 
and berries and frequently discovers the green peas of the garden, deftly 



\ 



BikDS OF NEW YORK 24I 

opening the pods with his sharp bill and devouring large quantities of 
the tender seeds. In this way, in my experience, he does much more 
harm than by depredations upon the berries; but he is so much less 
destructive than the Robin, Cedar bird, and Red-headed woodpecker that 
complaints are rarely made against him and there can be no doubt that 
he is one of the very best friends which the gardener can have about his 
premises. As everyone knows, the oriole builds a pensile nest, usually 
suspending it from the drooping branches of an elm tree, soft maple, apple 
tree or in fact any tree, although his preference seems to be for the elm. 
I have found this oriole's nest hanging from Norway spruce, hemlock, 
and horsechestnut which one would naturally expect he never would 
select. In different villages of western New York the preference seems 
to be in this order: white elm, silver maple, sugar maple, and apple. The 
main construction materials used by the oriole are gray plant fibers, 
especially those from the outside of milkweed stalks, waste packing cord 
and horsehair ; sometimes pieces of rags and paper are discovered in the 
nest, but it is almost without exception a grayish bag as it appears from 
the outside, and is lined principally with horsehairs and softer materials, 
making a thick felted gourd-shaped structure which swells considerably 
toward the bottom so that there is ample room for the 5 young birds to 
develop. The eggs, though usually 5, are from 4 to 6 in number. Incu- 
bation occupies 12 days. The eggs are ovate in shape but are rather an 
elongated ovate, colored grayish or bluish white, more or less heavily 
marked with irregular pen lines and blotches of blackish brown, purplish 
and pearl gray, usually thickest near the larger end of the egg. The average 
dimensions of the eggs are .92 by .61. The average external dimensions 
of the oriole's nest are 6 inches in depth by 4 inches in greatest diameter. 
I have seen nests which are no more than 4 inches in depth and 3^ in 
external diameter but I have been unable to verify the observ^ations of 
those popular writers who claim that orioles build shallower nests in villages 
or near houses because they are less liable to be visited by predaceous 
birds. The height of the nest from the ground in my experience varies 



242 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

from 7 to 60 feet, the average being about 25 to 30 feet. In spite of the 

skilful placing of the oriole's nest, it is frequently visited by plunderers. 

I have seen crows on several occasions succeed in getting young birds 

from the nest and the home of the Screech owl very often shows that the 

young orioles have been taken and fed to the owlets. Red squirrels also 

descend to the nest to get the eggs and young birds, and I have seen the 

gray squirrels do this on one or two occasion's. Generally, however, the 

young are reared successfully and I am inclined to think that dangers 

in migration and severe weather are the principal checks to the increase 

of this species. 

Icterus bullocki (Swainson) 

Btdlock Oriole 

Xanthornus bullockii Swainson. Philos. Mag. N. S. 1827. 1:436 
Icterus bullocki A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 238. No. 508 
bullocki, in honor of William Bullock of London 

Description. Size of the Baltimore oriole; color somewhat similar but 
the under parts not so reddish orange; the head and neck not black but 
yellowish or orange spotted on the crown and back of the neck with black; 
chin and center of the throat black; large patch of white on the %ving caused 
by the white middle and longer coverts. Female considerably duller, 
lower p^arts a light olive gray and the upper parts bright yellowish olive; 
where the male is yellowish orange and black, more olive brownish. 

Distribution. This species is purely accidental in New York State. 
A single specimen has been reported by Mr Dakin from Onondaga county 
on May 17, 1875. Unfortunately, this specimen disappeared from Mr 
Dakin's collection and I have not been able to trace it, but Mr Dakin's 
carefulness as a bird student seems ample proof that the bird which he 
describes was a Bullock oriole and was taken in Onondaga count}'-, although, 
of course, it may have been an escaped caged bird which gave no evidence 
of previous confinement. The normal range of this species is in western 
America, from southern British Columbia and southern Saskatchewan to 
southern Texas and Sonora; and from California eastward to South Dakota 
and central Nebraska. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 243 

Euphagus carolinus (Miiller) 
Rusty Blackbird 

Plate 73 

Turdus carolinus Miiller. Natursyst. Suppl. 1 7 76. 140 
Quiscalus ferrugineus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 137, fig. 50 
Euphagus carolinus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 238. No. 509 
eupltagus Gr., a "good feeder"; carolinus, of Carolina 

Description. Male: Shiny black with greenish metallic iridescence. 
In high plumage no rusty showing on the edges of the feathers; but in the fall 
the upper parts are more or less extensively edged with rusty and the under parts 
with ocherous buff and whitish. In specimens taken late in the spring this 
rusty has not entirely worn off from the edges of the feathers; but in the 
very highest plumage the bird is entirely a lustrous black. Female: Dark 
slaty gray; upper parts with more or less greenish reflections, more extensively 
edged with rusty in the fall than is the case with the male and the under 
parts sometimes almost a uniform ocherous on the throat and breast. 
This edging of rusty and ocherous shows in the female as late as April 
and May in New York specimens. Iris straw-colored; feet and legs blackish. 

Length 9-9.6 inches; extent 13. 5-14. 5; wing 4.6-4.8; tail 3.52; bill .91; 
tarsus 1.06; weight 2-2.5 ounces. 

Distribution. This species inhabits eastern North America, breeding 
in the boreal zone from Alaska, central Keewatin and northern Ungava 
to central Alberta, central Ontario, northern New York and Maine, and 
winters from the Ohio river and the Delaware valley to the Gulf of Mexico. 
In New York this species is a common transient visitant in all parts of 
the State, arriving from the south from the ist to the 20th of March in 
the southern counties; in western New York, from March 10 to March 30, 
passing on to the north from April 20 to May 10. In the fall it returns 
from the north in western New York from the loth to the 20th of September; 
in the vicinity of New York City, from September 20 to October 10; and 
departs for the south in November, usually remaining the last of all our 
blackbirds and going only when the marshes are frozen over. The Rusty 
blackbird is a summer resident of the wilder portions of the Adirondacks, 
especially in northern Hamilton and Herkimer coimties and the south- 
eastern portion of St Lawrence coimty. Its nest has been found on Raquette 
16 



244 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

river June 5, 1878, by C. J. Pennock; by Ralph and Bagg from the 7th to 
the 20th of May 1886, at Wiknurt in Herkimer county; by Merriam at 
Big Moose on the 15th of June; on Second lake and Moose river, June i6th. 
This species has been called the Thrush blackbird, I suppose on account 
of its flight and song which resemble somewhat those of the thrushes. 
The nest also is usually walled with mud or rotten wood after the manner 
of thrushes, but this habit is shared also by the Crow blackbird. The bill 
of this bird is slimmer than that of most blackbirds, and superficially 
shaped like that of a thrush. Its notes are also more liquid, but it seems 
to me a true blackbird, its guttural chortlings reminding me more of our 
redwings and grackles than the thrushes. Its flight, however, is more 
like that of the Wilson thrush, the longer wings and gliding, wavering 
motion suggesting the thrushes. In the spring and fall it is a pleasant 
sound to listen to the gurglings of these birds as they pass through the 
swamp from field to field and tree to tree in long scattered companies, 
keeping up a continual bubbling note suggestive of gushing springs and 
wandering waters. The Rusty blackbird is more aquatic in its habits 
than even the Crow blackbird, and is frequently seen wading in the water 
hunting for crayfish and larvae of water insects. Whole flocks of these 
birds are often seen over the beds of chara or rockweed, wading as long as 
they are able, and then flying to some partly submerged log or projecting 
bunch of flags and picking up the larvae of dragon flies, may flies, snails etc. 
from beneath the surface of the water. The nest is placed in a low alder or 
willow a few feet above the water, sometimes within 1 8 inches of its surface. 
It is constructed of leaves and straws, then a layer of mud, and lined with 
fine grasses; a rather bulky affair thickly lined with bright green grass. 
The outside dimensions according to Merriam are about 7 inches in 
diameter, by about 5.5 in depth, the inner cup 3.5 by 2.5. The eggs are 
4 to 5 in number, ovate in shape, the ground color light bluish green 
blotched and spotted rather profusely, especially about the larger end with 
various shades of chestnut brown, chocolate and drab; but rarely exhibit 
the pen lines and scrawls so common in other blackbirds. They average 
about I inch in length by .73 in diameter. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 245 

Quiscalus quiscula quiscula (Linnaeus) 
Purple Crackle 

Plate 74 

Gracula quiscula Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1 758. i : 109 
Quiscalus versicolor DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 136. (part) 
Quiscalus quiscula quiscula A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 239. 

No. SI I 

quiscalus, quiscula. forms of the same word, of uncertain origin; perhaps from the 
Spanish, a worthless fellow (quisquilla) ; perhaps like the common name grackle, an 
onomatopoeon 

Description. Tail long and rounded; whole plumage appears black 
in the distance but on a close inspection the head, neck and tipper breast a 
rich, purplish blue, with metallic green reflection; back, rump and a portion 
of the under parts rich purple with bronzy and bluish iridescence, each 
feather of the back showing rainbows of peacock blue, purplish and bronze; 
the wings and tail bluish purple with green and brassy iridescence. The 
female smaller and much duller, especially below, the lower breast and belly 
being greenish brown with purplish and bronzy reflections. 

Length 9 12 inches; cf 12.50-13.50; extent 17-18; wing 5.6-5.8; tail 
5.2-5.4; bill 1. 2-1. 35; tarsus 1.45. 

Distribution. The Purple grackle inhabits the Atlantic coastal region 
from Connecticut, Long Island and the lower Hudson valley to the high- 
lands of Georgia and Alabama and winters in the southern states; not 
found west of the Alleghanies except in the south. The range of this 
subspecies in New York overlaps the range of the Bronzed grackle, and, 
as one would expect, on the border line there are many intermediate forms 
which can scarcely be assigned with certainty either to the Purple grackle 
or Bronzed grackle but must be labeled intermediate specimens. Almost 
all the specimens from Long Island except in migration time are typical 
of the Ptirple grackle, but sometimes o£ " phase 3 " as Chapman calls it 
in his review of the species. In the Hudson valley as far north as Ossining, 
at least, the residents are fairly typical of the subspecies; further north 
intermediates become more common. Phase no. 3 is sometimes found 
as far north as Troy but intermediates and the second or first phase of the 
Bronzed grackle are more common in the upper Hudson valley, the birds. 



246 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

of Elk lake, in the northern extremity of the Hudson valley, showing only 
a slight admixture of the Purple grackle coloration, hence ranking as 
aeneus. A specimen taken at Waterford, Saratoga county, now in the 
State Museum, is evidently intermediate between the two subspecies. 
At Athens, Pa., Chapman found the third phase intermediate of the Purple 
grackle and the second phase of the Bronzed grackle. At Port Jervis 
he found one intermediate and one aeneus. Thus it is evident that in 
the Susquehanna and Delaware valleys the range of overlapping is about 
the southern boundary of New York. In western New York north of 
the Susquehanna divide I have seen nothing but tj'^pical Bronzed grackle 
with an occasional specimen which shows a very slight tendency toward 
quiscula. Thus we must assign the range of this subspecies as south- 
eastern New York below the highlands; but its intermediate forms are found 
as far north as Saratoga county. On Staten Island, Long Island and the 
immediate vicinity of New York City practically nothing but typical Pur- 
ple grackle in one phase or another is found during the breeding season. 
The Purple grackle arrives in this State from the 1 5th of February to the 
TOth of March, and departs from the loth to the 30th of November. 
Breeding records range from April 20 to May 25. In habits and economic 
importance this species does not differ from the Bronzed grackle which is the 
more abundant subspecies in this State. In voice, however, Mr Ridgway 
notices a difference, the note of the Purple grackle being less loud and 
metallic. The nest and eggs are indistinguishable from those of the 
Bronzed grackle. 

Quiscalus quiscula aeneus Ridgway 

Bronzed Grackle 

Plate 74 

"Quiscalus aeneus Ridgway. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. 1869. 134 
Quiscalus versicolor DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 136 (part) fig. 49 
Quiscalus quiscula aeneus A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 239. 
No. sub 

aeneus, Lat., brassy, referring to the sheen of the body plumage 

Description. Longer and a little larger than the Robin; tail long, 
rounded or wedge-shaped, frequently, especially in the nesting season, 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 247 

carried in a keeled shape. Head, neck and upper breast deep purplish, 
steely blue or peacock blue ; wings and tail purplish with metallic reflections, 
the outer flight feathers almost plain black. The whole body bronzy or 
brassy with changeable sheen. At a distance, however, the bird appears 
to be uniform black. Iris straw colored; bill and feet blackish. The body- 
feathers, especially those of the back, are without the purplish and bluish 
rainbows seen on the feathers of the true purple grackle. Female: 
Smaller and duller. 

Length cf 13-13.50 inches, 9 12-12.50; extent 15.75-19; wing 5.63; 
tail 5.05; bill 1.2; tarsus 1.48; weight 5-6 ounces. 

Distribution. The Bronzed grackle inhabits eastern North America 
from Great Slave lake, Keewatin, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland to- 
Colorado, northern Mississippi, western Pennsjdvania, New York and 
Massachusetts. He is thus to be regarded a bird of the Mississippi valley, 
and not of the Atlantic coastal plain which is inhabited by the Purple 
grackle. In New York this subspecies is found throughout all the western 
portion of the State as well as the northern portion and, in fact, in all the 
State except the lower Hudson valley, Long Island, vStaten Island, Man- 
hattan island and adjacent country. It passes the winter from the Ohio 
valley to southern Texas. In New York it is a common summer resident, 
abundant in some localities, arriving from the 26th of February to the 
loth or i8th of March and departing for the south from the ist to the 20th 
of November. A few specimens are sometimes found throughout the 
winter in the southern portion of the State, but this occurrence is rarer 
than with the Red- winged blackbird and Cowbird. 

The Bronzed grackle, or Crow blackbird as he is almost universally 
called in this State, is principally an inhabitant of the cleared lands, 
but is found as far up in the Adirondacks as Elk lake. Flowed land and 
Boreas pond, and on the highlands of western New York keeps more 
particularly to the river valleys and lake shores. He feeds almost entirely 
on the ground and during the breeding season does a great deal of good 
by destroying cutworms, wire worms, beetles and caterpillars and later in 
the summer feeds largely upon grasshoppers. At this season, however, 
he partakes more or less freely of berries, cherries, green peas, and, in the 



248 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

early fall, of com in the milk. In this manner they sometimes do immense 
damage to fields of com which are situated near the great marshes where 
they congregate to spend the night, and about which they spend most of 
their time after the breeding season is over. During the nesting season 
they are found about the dooryards, both in the country and in villages 
and cities, building their nests in the evergreen trees, especially spruces 
in the thickest part near the top. Frequently, however, they place them in 
Lombardy poplars and in various kinds of deciduous trees when the spruces 
and pines are not at their disposal. I have often found them also in 
deserted nest holes of the flicker and in hollow trees. The nest is a rather 
bulky affair varying from 5 to 8 inches in height and from 7 to 9 inches 
in diameter. The base and outer portion are mostly composed of weed 
stalks, small twigs and coarse grasses, the inner cup of finer materials 
like dr^'- grass, strings, rags and a few feathers or any suitable soft substance. 
The eggs vary from 4 to 6 or even 7 in number, usually 5 in this State, 
elongated oval or ovate in shape, varying from a bluish white or pale 
greenish to a grayish brown ground color, more or less thickly blotched, 
spotted, lined and clouded with blackish, brown and lavender. They 
vary in dimensions from i to 1.25 inches in length by from .75 to .86 in 
diameter. The young are ready to leave the nest about one month after 
the eggs are laid and are rather noisy at this time, and frequent alarm 
notes and squabblings of the old birds with their neighbors are heard about 
the orchards and gardens. The young are led away from the nest as rapidly 
as possible and seem to disappear entirely from the vicinity of our door- 
yards late in June or sometimes by the middle of the month. They gradually 
gather into flocks of dozens, sometimes hundreds, and spend the day 
foraging about the country in various localities wherever food is most 
abundant. At this season of the year they are found about the orchards, 
plowed fields, river banks, swamps, and groves, and almost invariably 
gather at night to roost in the nearest marsh which is covered with a low 
growth of bushes or dense sedges and cat-tails. They settle close to the 
surface of the water among the sedges or in bushes at a height of several 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 349 

feet. Such a locality is a veritable bedlam at dusk when the birds are 
coming in and settling for the night. In these localities they are associated 
to a greater or less extent with Red-winged blackbirds and cowbirds. 
On the Montezuma marshes, in the spring and fall, I have seen tens of 
thousands of grackles come in from the migration flights to roost amongst 
the dead sedges. This grackle has a coarse call note, sovmding somewhat 
like the syllable " clack" which he utters when on the migration flight or 
on the way to and from his roosting grounds, and a similar note though 
louder serves as his alarm when the nest is approached or when he is 
suddenly disturbed. In the spring he has also a song which, however, 
is uttered with great difficulty and when successfully produced is far from 
melodious. It has a loud metallic squeaky quality which has given this 
bird the name of " rusty hinge " or " creaky hinge " in various parts of 
the country. It is commonly uttered while the bird is perched on some 
tree or fence post, and is accompanied by a puffing out of the plumage, 
a partial extension of the wings, and a spreading of the tail, until he seems 
actually to burst with the hoarse squawk. This performance reminds one 
of the similar actions of the Red-winged blackbird and the Cowbird when 
uttering their love notes. The grackle has been placed for many years 
on the black list in this State along with the crows, hawks and English 
sparrows; and I will confess that my experience leads me to believe that 
this is a just decision of our lawmakers, not only because of the destructive- 
ness of the Crow blackbird to fields of com, as well as other grain, green 
peas and small fruits, but particularly on accotmt of his appetite for the 
eggs and young of smaller birds which might do much more good than he 
would if left to grow and multiply. My experience on a single farm will 
serve to show what my general estimate of this bird would be. This farm 
had an orchard, pond, brook, patches of willows, meadowland, pasture 
and a large lawn with shade trees, including several evergreens. It was 
the happy home of numerous robins, Least flycatchers. Yellow warblers, 
Chipping sparrows, Song sparrows. Purple finches, Cedar birds, cuckoos 
and other useful species. As soon as the evergreens grew so tall that the 



250 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Crow blackbirds found them suitable for nesting sites, numerous pairs 
of these sleek grackles bmlt in the dooryard. At first the owner thought 
all was going well, but he noticed that the robins, sparrows and other 
birds were not on friendly terms with the grackles, and when I came to 
investigate the case, about the 20th of June, when the Grackles' young 
were nearly ready to leave the nests, I found that of 12 pairs of robins 
which ordinarily would be raising their second brood at that time, only 
one pair had been able to bring the young to a size able to leave the nest. 
This pair had built under the edge of the veranda roof and thus had 
escaped the attacks of the Grackle. All the other pairs of robins up to 
that time had been unable to accomplish an>^hing and I was also unable 
to find any nests with young or any old birds caring for their young of 
more than 2 or 3 of the other species named. I did find numerous nests 
of warblers, sparrows and flycatchers which had been rifled and showed 
clearly from their general appearance that they had been visited by grackles 
or some other nest robbers and the young or eggs destroyed. As soon as 
the grackles led their young away, however, and the yard was once more 
in peace, the robins which had been attempting all this time to raise their 
broods, proceeded to bring up their nestlings unmolested, and the other 
small birds likewise brought off their broods successfully; but in this 
instance it meant only one brood instead of two for all those species which 
raise two broods and undoubtedly a weakened brood for all the others. 
On the day of my arrival I witnessed the destruction of a Robin's brood 
which was the only one remaining besides the one mentioned, under the 
eaves of the veranda. The young were just ready to leave the nest. 
I heard the battle cry of the robins and came upon the scene just in time 
to see the grackles attacking the young birds. The robins had already 
become large enough to flutter their wings, and one of the two remaining 
young started to fly, succeeded in reaching the garden about three rods 
distant, but at the moment it landed upon the ground the Grackle was 
upon him and with one blow demolished the base of his skull. Many 
naturalists have suggested that some grackles are worse than others in 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 25 1 

their propensity for eating eggs and killing young birds, and I have no 
doubt that this is true, but unfortunately many experiences like the one 
above recorded have taught me to keep watch on all the grackles wherever 
I have any regard for the welfare of the other birds nesting in their vicinity. 

Family KRINGILLIDAK 

Finches, Sparrows etc. 

Wing variable in shape, containing only q primaries; tail also variable 
in shape, containing 12 rectrices; bill conical, the cutting edges usually 
plain, distinguishing them from tanagers; the commissure bent more or 
less abruptly down near the base, a characteristic which they share with 
the Icteridae; nostrils high up, bare in some species, covered with dense 
tufts of bristles in others; tarsus scutellate in front, plated on the side, 
with a sharp ridge behind like the characteristic passerine tarsus; in size 
they range from small to medium; plumage very variable, from almost 
plain to highly variegated. 

The family is granivorous in diet, although they all feed to a con- 
siderable extent on insects, especially in the siimmer time and when rear- 
ing the young. As a family they are highly melodious, including some of 
our finest musicians, like the grosbeaks and Purple finch. The family 
is almost cosmopolitan in distribution, nvimbering over 600 species. In 
this country, as in many others, it is likewise the largest of all the families 
of passerine birds. As would be expected from the variability of the wing 
and tail, as well as the details in the shape of the bill and in the coloration, 
several sections of the family are popularly recognized, such as the linnets, 
represented by our Redpoll, the grosbeaks, finches, buntings and sparrows. 
These groups merge into each other by such insensible degrees, however, 
that no division into subfamilies is recognized by the A. O. U. 

The economic value of our native sparrows as destroyers of insects 
and weed seeds is clearly shown by Sylvester D. Judd, Bulletins 15 and 
17, Biological Survey, United States Department of Agriculture. 



252 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Hesperiphona vespertina vespertina (W. Cooper) 
Evening Grosbeak 

Plate 79 

Fringilla vespertina W. Cooper. Ann. Lye. N. H. N. Y. 1825. 1:220 
Hesperiphona vespertina vespertina A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 
1910. p. 241. No. 514 

hesperiphona, Or, sozspo?, at evening, 9wvi(5, voice; vespertina, of evening 

Description. Adult male: Forehead and streak over the eye, yellow; 
crown blackish; rest of the head, neck and back deep oHvaceous changing 
to yellow on scapulars and rump; wings, tail and upper tail coverts black; 
tertials white; the inner webs of the secondaries and inner webs of tail 
feathers partially white. Adult female: Top of the head brownish gray; 
body plumage light grayish, tinged with olive yellowish; throat bordered 
with dusky on each side; greater wing coverts, edgings of secondaries, and 
tail coverts, inner webs of tip of tail, and patch on the base of the primaries 
white. Young: Similar to female but duller and more brownish. Lower 
parts much paler. 

Length 7-8.5 inches; wing 4.2-4.5; tail 2.75-3.2; bill .8; depth of 
bill at base .55-.7. 

Distribution. The Evening grosbeak inhabits boreal North America, 
breeding in western Alberta and the surrounding country; and winters 
from southern Saskatchewan to Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, and irregularly 
to New England, New York and Pennsylvania. When I began to study 
the migration and distribution of New York birds, I supposed that only 
one visitation of the Evening grosbeak had ever occurred in New York 
State, namely, the great invasion of 1890, when these birds were found 
in almost all the northeastern states in considerable abundance; but on 
further investigation I find that it has occurred almost certainly on all 
the following dates: 1875, 1882, 1886, 1887, 1889-1890, 1896, 1899, 1900, 
1904, 1906, and another large visitation in 1910-1911. Thus this bird 
must be considered as an occasional winter visitant in recent years, but 
usually in very small numbers, especially when the seed crop in the north- 
west has failed. 

Haunts and habits. With us it feeds on seeds and buds of the maple, 
ash, mountain ash and various fruits which are left hanging on the trees. 
This interesting species, which is related to the Hawfinch of Europe, is 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 253 

a bird of striking appearance, especially the full plumaged males, whose 
conspicuous coloration of bright yellow, olive, black and white, and their 
enormously heavy beaks, immediately attract the attention of the most cas- 
ual observer. The sight of a mountain ash tree full of Evening grosbeaks, 
feeding on the brilliant red berries is an event long to be remembered. The 
fruits of the sumac and the ash-leaved maple also attract them, and they 
sometimes remain for weeks in localities where these trees are loaded with 
food, as was the case reported by Mr Verdi Burtch from Branchport in 191 1. 
The following records of occurrence may be interesting to students 
of migration: 
Ehzabethtown Winter 1875 (seen by Doctor Cutting) Brewer, 

B. N. O. C. 4, 75 

New York (?) 1866, Lawrence, Ann. Lye. Nat. Hist. 8, 289 

Marcellus July 8, 1882 (seen) Coues, B. N. O. C. 7, 250 

BuflEalo Winter 1886 (20 taken) Ottomar Reinecke 

Brant April 15, 1887, Fenton, " F. & S." vol. 28, 267 

Auk 7, 210 

Elmira Nov. 25, 1887 (i taken) Swift, " F. & S." 29^ 383 

Ithaca Dec. 11, 1889, Jan. 21, Mar. 7, 1890 (Fuertes) 

Fisher, " F. & S." 34- 65 

Ithaca Mar. 28, 1890, Cornell Univ. Col. 

Lockport Dec. 14, 1889 (7) (Davison) Fisher, "F. & S." 

34. 65 
Feb. 1890, J. L. Davison, MSS. 

Orleans county Winter 1889, Posson, Auk 16, 195 

Brockport Dec. 30, 1889, Jan. 29, 1890 (Guelf) Fisher, 

" F. & S." 34. 65 

Brockport Jan. 30, 1890, Truman R. Taylor 

Albion, ChiH, Gaines. . " 1889-1890, E. H. Short 

Lake George Jan. 6, 23, 25, 30 and 31, 1890, several taken 

(Lockhart), Fisher, " F. & S." 34, 64 
Buffalo Jan. 10, 11, 18, 1890 (9) (Bergtold), Fisher, 

"F. &S." 34,65; Auk 7, 210 



254 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Painted Post Jan. 23, Feb. i, 1890 (Wood) Fisher, " F. & S." 

34. 65 
Oswego Jan. 28, 1890 (10, 4 taken) (Miller) Fisher, 

" F. & S." 34, 65 

Owego Jan. 30, 1890 (i taken) Loring " F. & S." 34, 65 

Feb. I, Mar. 4, 1890, J. A. Loring MSS. 

Cayuga Jan. and Mar. 1890, Foster Parker collection 

Naples Jan. 1890 (2 taken), L. V. Case MSS. 

Clinton Feb. 20, 1890 (Benton), Bagg, Auk 7, 230 

Wayland Feb. 1890 (2), Marshall, Avik 9, 203, State 

Museiom 
Troy Mar. 29, Apr. 17, 1890 (Parke), Sampson " F. 

& S." 34. 247 

Lowville Feb. 1896, J. H. Miller 

Binghamton Nov. 21, 1899, Lilian Hyde 

Lake George Dec. 15, Mar. 12, 1900 (6 seen) (Lockhart), Dr 

A. K. Fisher MSS. 

Ithaca April 11, 1904, Fuertes, Auk 21, 385 

Ithaca Dec. 8, 1906 (Kerr), L. A. Fuertes 

Utica Feb. 8, 1907, Bagg, Birds Oneida Co. 1912, p. 62 

Lake George Jan. 30, 1909, F. A. Lockhart, A. K. Fisher MSS. 

Westemville Jan. to Mar. 191 1, Bagg, Birds Oneida Co. 1912, 

p. 62 
Utica Apr. 6-9, 191 1 (flock of 12), Bagg, Birds Oneida 

Co. 1912, p. 62 
Branchport Jan. 10 to Mar. 14, 191 1 (2 to 30 seen almost 

daily) Verdi Burtch 

Lyons Feb. 4, 191 1 (30 seen) Elliott, Auk 28, 266 

Rochester Jan. 4 to Mar. 6, 191 1 (several flocks seen) Dr 

C. A. Dewey 
Port Chester Feb. 28 to Mar. 9, 1914 (flock of 8), James C. 

Maples 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 255 

Pinicola enucleator leucura (MuUer) 
Pine Grosbeak 

Plate 76 

Loxia leucura Muller. Natursyst. Suppl. 1776. 1 50 

Corythus enucleator DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 181, fig. 142 

Pinicola enucleator leucura A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 

p. 241. No. 515 

pinicola, Lat., pine-inhabitor ; enucledtor, Lat., a sheUer-out; leucura, from Gr., light 
tailed cr white tailed 

Description. Nearly the size of a Robin; like an overgrown Purple 
finch in general appearance; beak very heavy; tip of the upper mandible 
considerably curved; tail slightly forked. Adult male: Slaty gray 
overlaid with rosy red especially on the head, breast and rump, sometimes 
giving the bird almost a uniform rosy red appearance; wings and tail 
fuscous slightly edged with color of the back; 2 conspicuous wing bars of 
whitish, the inner secondaries and tertials also edged with white. Female: 
Slaty gray overlaid, especially on the head and nimp, with olive yellow or 
saffron. Young males: Similar to female. 

Length 9-9.2; extent 13-14; wing 4.36; tail 3.68; bill .54; tarsus .88. 

Distribution. This species inhabits the boreal region of eastern North 
America, breeding mostly in the Hudsonian zone. In New York it is 
only a winter visitant, slightly irregular in occurrence, its abundance 
depending upon the crop of mountain ash berries and spruce cones in 
the northern forests, but a few at least are found in New York State every 
winter. The dates of arrival from the north vary from November 9 to 
December 4. They are commonest between the middle of December and 
the first of March, the latest dates usually from the 25th of March to the 
5th of April; but a few are occasionally noted as late as April 20 or May 5. 
The winters of 1844, 1896 and 1903 are especially remarkable for the 
abundance of this bird in New York. It occurs in all parts of the State, 
but is usually not so plentiful on Long Island as in the interior. 

Haunts and habits. The Pine grosbeak is one of the largest of its 
family found in New York, but is of gentle, unobtrusive manner, almost 
entirely fearless of man's approach, and always seems to be perfectly con- 



256 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

tented with its situation wherever encountered. A whole tree full of 
these birds may frequently be seen feeding on the seeds of mountain ash 
berries, apples or the buds of beeches. One may stand within a few feet 
of them for a long time without their taking any notice of one's presence. 
They are rather slow and deliberate in manner. Their flight, however, 
is rather rapid and aggressive, slightly undulating as is usual in this family. 
While on the wing they often utter a high-pitched call resembling some- 
what the note of the Purple finch, or two or three high whistles similar 
to the notes of the Yellow-leg's " tee-te, tee-tee-te." The food of the Pine 
grosbeak in this State includes the seeds of spruces, larches, hemlocks 
and pines, berries of svimac, mountain ash, cedar, Crategus or American 
hawthorn, and wild apple; also buds of apple, peach and birch. Like 
the crossbills they are more or less gregarious, but in this State the flocks 
nearly always consist principally of young birds and females, sometimes 
not more than 2 or 3 red birds being found in a flock of 20 or 30 
individuals. 

Fringilla coelebs Linnaeus 
Chaffinch 

Description. " Forehead black; crown and nape greenish blue; back 
and scapulars chestnut tinged with green; nimp green; breast chestnut 
red fading into white on the belly; wings black, with 2 white bands; coverts 
of the secondaries tipped with yellow; tail black, the 2 middle feathers 
ash gray, the 2 outer on each side black with a broad white band. Female: 
Head, back and scapulars ash brown tinged with olive; lower parts greenish 
white; the transverse wing bands less defined." Hudson 

Length 6.5 inches. 

Distribution. This bird is one of the most popular songsters of 
Britain and western Europe in general, a bird of the orchards and hedge- 
rows. It was introduced in 1890 at Central Park, New York City, by 
Mr Eugene Schieflfelin, several pairs being released, and was still found 
in that vicinity as late as 1906, when Mr Chapman reported that 3 
individuals at least were still in the park. In 1900 I noticed several speci- 
mens near the northern end of Manhattan island. It is probable, however. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 257 

that unless more birds are introduced, this species will not increase as 
the Starling and the House sparrow have done. 

Ligurineus chloris 

Green Finch 

General color yellowish green, variegated with yellow and ashy gray. Length 6.5 inches. 

The Green finch is one of the characteristic birds of western Europe, common 
throughout the greater portion of the British Isles. A single specimen was obtained in 
Lewis county by Romeyn B. Hough and was identified by Washington ornithologists as 
a fine specimen of the European Green finch. It showed no evidence of having been in 
captivity. Of course, the occurrence of this bird in Now York State was purely acci- 
dental and, as in the case of the European linnet recorded by Mr Thayer, it may have 
escaped from captivity and have led a wild existence long enough to efface all evidences 
of its former confinement. 

Passer domesticus Linnaeus 
House Sparrow 

Description. Male: Upper parts ashy gray, streaked on the back and 
scapulars with black and bay; broad band of deep chestnut or mahogany 
behind the eye, spreading on the side of the neck; lesser wing coverts chest- 
nut; a white wing bar formed by the white tips of the middle coverts. Under 
parts grayish; a conspicuous black bib on the throat and upper breast; bill 
blackish; sides of the head and bordering the black bib nearly white. 
Female and young: Brownish gray ab^ \re streaked on the back with ocherous 
and black; wing bar obscure; under parts plain dingy brownish white. 

Length 6.35 inches; wing 3; tail 2.5. 

This bird, which is now our commonest species, is almost exactly 
the size of a Purple finch. The tail is slightly emarginate, the bill heavy 
though not so heavy as the Purple finch's, the general build stocky. Per- 
sons who shoot the English sparrows from their Martin houses or Bluebird 
boxes can not be too careful to identify the bird before shooting. I have 
known of Purple finches and 3 or 4 species of native sparrows being shot 
by accident for the suspected interloper. 

The House sparrow, or English sparrow as it is almost universally 
called m this country, as is generally known, is an importation from Europe. 
It was liberated in Brooklyn and New York City during the years i860- 



25« NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

64, and soon thoroughly established itself both in New York, Boston, 
Philadelphia, Washington and all the larger cities of the Atlantic seaboard. 
It began spreading westward and soon occupied the whole country east 
of the Mississippi. In the year 1879 there were no English sparrows in 
the village of Springville, where the author's boyhood was spent. That 
winter he visited the city of Buffalo and was delighted to see the English 
sparrows about the streets and dooryards amid the deep snow in the 
coldest weather. Two years later the sparrows had thoroughly established 
themselves at Springville and before the year 1 888 had occupied practically 
every hamlet in the State. During the last 20 years they have been work- 
ing their way from the cities and villages into the country and nearly every 
large farmyard is thickly inhabited by these troublesome parasites. It is 
almost impossible for the farmer to keep them from his bams and grain 
stacks. Large flocks of young birds accompanied by a few older indi- 
viduals gather on the wheat and oat fields in late June, July and August, 
doing considerable damage to the standing grain and more to the grain 
in the shock and stack. They also attack the garden fruits, doing especial 
damage to benies and currants. Many garden vegetables are also pecked 
and rendered unlit for market. There is every reason to believe also 
that the San Jose scale and other injurious parasites of our fruit trees 
are distributed by these birds as they are continually flying from one tree 
to another, especially about our gardens and orchards, whole flocks filling 
the trees and shrubbery and continually flying from one farmyard to another 
so that the scales are quickly carried from infected trees to the well-sprayed 
orchards of the most careful horticulturist. These direct injuries done 
by the English sparrow to our various crops, however, are not the chief 
reason why it should be considered an injurious species, nor the litter of 
dirt which he creates about our eaves, windowblinds and porches, but 
the influence which he exerts upon our native bird life. As intimated 
in other connections, the sparrow builds so early in the season that nearly 
every available box and hollow limb is occupied by the time the bluebirds, 
chickadees and nuthatches, martins and Tree swallows begin to think 



BIRDS OF NEW YO^iK 259 

of their nestbuilding, so that the scarcity of such nesting sites, which 

becomes greater and greater in all civilized communities, is multiplied 

tenfold by the occupation of all the available hollows by the indefatigable 

sparrow. Although the bluebirds and martins may drive the sparrows 

from the box which they have occupied for generations, as soon as they 

arrive in April, nevertheless the sparrows remain in the vicinity and as 

soon as the martins or bluebirds are out of the box they begin to carry 

in their nesting material again, in this way harassing the native birds so 

continually that they succeed in rearing no young. Thus the number of 

bluebirds and martins that nest in our dooryards or about the village 

is becoming smaller and smaller. The effect on the abundance of swallows 

is especially manifest. A farmer closes his bam to keep out the sparrows 

and the swallows can not enter. So it is evident that all those birds which 

make their nests about our buildings or in boxes prepared by men are 

continually crowded out of their nesting sites and driven farther and 

farther from our habitations. Furthermore, as the number of sparrows 

increases it is not only these birds that are discouraged, but even the 

robins. Chipping sparrows, Yellow warblers and various other species. 

I have noticed on many occasions the sparrows carrying off the nesting 

materials that the Robin was placing in the crotch of an apple tree, the 

poor Robin bringing materials day after day, and the sparrows, one pair 

after another, carrying the materials away as fast as they were brought. 

to fill up some yawning hollow post or some hole in the eaves of a building. 

Likewise, they often build their nests on top of Robins' nests and those 

of other birds. Being clumsy nest-builders they seem unable to start 

a new nest for themselves in the ordinary crotches of our shade trees, but 

as soon as a nest has been started by some respectable architect they 

immediately take possession and pile up their straw and feathers into 

an unsightly biinch, thus driving away even the crotch builders from our 

dooryards. It is not only in this direct way that they discourage the 

nesting of our native birds, but as they increase in numbers they destroy 

all the available food supply of smooth caterpillars and other palatable 
17 



260 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

insects which the wrens and warblers desire for their own young, so that 
by this method of food rivalry they are continually crowding out native 
species which would not only destroy the caterpillars which the House 
sparrow destroys in feeding its own young, but would not do the damage 
which the House sparrow creates, and at the same time would, in the 
author's estimation, be much more pleasant neighbors than this irritating 
foreigner which has established himself so permanently in our midst. As 
yet, no parasite has been discovered which might decimate the ranks of 
this sparrow pest, and no enemy has yet arisen which has made any 
appreciable impression upon it. It is true that Sparrow hawks and Sharp- 
shinned hawks frequently establish themselves in the fall and winter in 
the vicinity of sparrows' haunts and feed upon them throughout the 
colder months, and in many of the northeastern states the Northern 
shrike or Butcher bird has acquired the habit of entering towns or cities 
and pursuing the English sparrow; but none of these birds are numerous 
enough to affect the abundance of a bird which rears 6 to 8 young in one 
brood and brings up 3 or 4 broods each season. A few sparrows are frozen 
to death in our coldest northern winters and during severe rain storms 
many of the young are frequently destroyed, but they are still increasing 
in number. It seems to be a question of rivalry, which is referred to 
above. In the old world the various species of birds which compete with 
the sparrow for nesting sites and food have become accustomed to his 
ways and have gradually become able to cope with him, whereas the 
American species with which he comes in contact have never had to 
contend with such rivals and can not adapt themselves rapidly enough 
to meet him successfully. Of all our native species, the Robin seems to 
be the most successful in this contest of rivalry. The Phoebe succeeds 
fairly well and the Song sparrow is only slightly affected. It is probable 
that many of our more dominant species will survive, but undoubtedly 
the sparrow is another influence which must be added to all the changes 
mentioned in the chapter on Ecology which are affecting unfavorably 
the abundance of many of our more interesting birds. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 26I 

1 lie sparrow begins its nesting operations with the first thaw of 
springtime. I have seen the old birds carrying building materials in 
December, January, February and March, but in the first warm wave of 
March nestbuilding begins in earnest, and the sparrows are continually 
fighting and pairing. The nest is usually completed by the third week 
in March and eggs are quite common by the first week in April. There 
is no question but in some of the warmer cities nesting is considerably 
earlier than this, but in western New York the young birds are rarely 
seen out of the nest until the 20th of April or the ist of May. 

The various means of destroying the House sparrow are well described 
in Farmers Bvdletin 493 of the Biological Survey of the United States 
Department of Agriculture. There is no doubt that the number of this 
pest could be appreciably diminished by poisoning if this were practiced 
during the coldest, snowiest portion of the winter; but this means should 
not be employed except by persons who understand thoroughly the method 
of procedure and would practise the utmost care in protecting the poisoned. 
grain from pigeons and other birds that might get it later in the season. 
In addition to this, a very effective method would be to destroy all the 
nests with the old birds during the breeding season. Boxes erected at 
a moderate elevation, as soon as they are inhabited by sparrows, could 
be visited after nightfall and a net thrown over the hole, to be used to 
secure the parent bird. In this way all the breeding birds could often 
be secured ; but those that nest in eaves and inaccessible places must be 
secured by the flobert dustshot cartridge or the shotgun, and as soon as 
these methods are practised, many of the neighboring citizens object. 
Some even pride themselves in protecting and singing the praises of the 
much despised English sparrow, and he has many points of interest and 
some points to admire. He is a character of great individuality, but in. 
the author's experience the more he is studied the less he is admired,, 
although we may wonder at his success. In some of the western states, 
an organized warfare is often waged at certain seasons against the English 
sparrow and wagon loads of the birds are destroyed by universal hunts. 



262 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

It is true that these wholesale hunts frequently destroy some beneficial 
birds, but if all the house owners of every district should conspire against 
the sparrow, each one making himself responsible for all the nesting birds 
and nests on his own premises, we believe that each one could be successful, 
and it is evident that such warfare would soon be disastrous to this 
pestiferous bird. 

Carpodacus purpureas purpureas (Gmelin) 

Purple Finch 

Plate 76 

Pringilla purpurea Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1 789. 1:923 

Erythrospiza purpurea DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 169, fig. 163 
Carpodacus purpureus purpureus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 
p. 243. No. 517 

carpodacus, from Gr., fruit-biting; purpureus, Lat., purple 

Description. Size of the English sparrow; bill stoutly conical; tail 
sUghtly forked; head slightly crested. Adult male: Head, neck, throat, 
breast and rump rich rose red or " wine purplish," brightest on the crest 
and rump, the winey purplish most pronounced on the breast; whole 
plumage stiffused with the same color, but the feathers of the back with 
■dusky central streaks; the wings and tail fuscous, slightly edged with the 
reddish color; belly and under tail coverts whitish. Female: Grayish 
olive brown streaked with darker; under parts white tinged on the throat 
and breast with buffy, conspicuously streaked with dusky; sparrowlike in 
appearance, but the unusually heavy bill and heavy streaking distinguish 
her. Young males: Until the second year, like the female. 

Length 5.5-6.25 inches; extent 10.2; wing 3.15-3.4; tail 2.3-2.5; bill 
.46; tarsus .68. 

Distribution. The Purple finch inhabits eastern North America, 
breeding from British Coltmibia, Alberta, northern Ontario, central Quebec 
and Newfoundland southward to North Dakota, Minnesota, northern 
Illinois, the mountains of Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey and Long 
Island. In New York it breeds in all sections of the State, but is a rare 
summer resident on Long Island and in the immediate vicinity of New 
York City, and on Staten Island. Throughout the Adirondack and Catskill 
districts it is a common summer resident, as well as in the highlands of 



I 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 263 

western New York. On the lowlands of western New York and in the 
Hudson valley it is rather uncommon or erratic as a breeding species. 
In all sections of the State, however, it is common as a transient visitant, 
appearing from March 15 to April 10, migrating birds being common 
until the loth to the 20th of May, and disappearing in the fall between 
the 5th and the 20th of November. It also remains throughout the winter 
in all the southern portions of the State, some years being fairly common 
throughout the coldest weather, especially in the vicinity of New York 
City and in the lower Hudson valley. It is not a winter resident of the 
Adirondacks, however, but in western New York a few may always be 
seen throughout the winter. It is rather erratic in habits like its relatives, 
the crossbills and Pine grosbeak, some years appearing very early in the 
spring and at other times not making itself heard till the middle of April; 
but a definite yearly migration is perfectly evident in nearly all sections of 
the State as indicated by the dates given above. I found it one of the 
common breeding species throughout the spruce and balsam belt of the 
Adirondacks, and in western New York near Springville it was also a 
common breeder in the years between 1876 and 1885. Every spruce tree 
in the town of Concord from 10 to 20 feet in height could be counted upon 
for having a Purple finch's nest near its top. My friend, Mr William B. 
Burke, also noticed it as a common species in the Catskills during the spring 
of 1905. Thus we can regard the Purple finch as one of our characteristic 
svnnmer residents in the greater portion of the State, and a permanent. 
resident in the southern districts although rare in the summer and uncommon 
throughout the winter months. The haunts of the Purple finch are the 
evergreen forests, not the denser portions, but rather the open woods and 
swamps where nimierous pointed firs and cedars may be seen scattered 
about. Here he fills the neighborhood with his gushing music throughout 
the latter part of April, May, and early June. It is one of the conspicuous 
birds of these localities. His song is delivered from the top of a spruce 
or balsam and consists of a rapid, easily flowing, melodious warble, 
resembling somewhat that of the Warbling vireo but more variant ia 



264 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

character. Sometimes when overcome with emotion he launches into the 
air with vibrating wings, rising upward and upward, a torrent of melody 
coming from his swelling throat, until he has reached an altitude of 200 
to 300 feet, when he descends in wide circles with outstretched wings to 
the summit of the evergreen from which he started. Sometimes in late 
May or early June he may be heard to burst forth as if with unrestrained 
emotion so suddenly as to startle one by the gushing of his overpowering 
melody. I have thought sometimes that it was the most impassioned 
bird song that we have in our groves and woodlands. I have also seen 
him dancing about the female on the limbs of a tree or on the ground with 
his wings fully extended and quivering, his crest raised to its utmost, his 
tail spread and the brilliant feathers of his rump raised in the air, all the 
while uttering his melodious warble, sotto voce, until, apparently overcome 
"by his emotion, he closed his wings and flew to a neighboring tree, perhaps 
to repeat the performance in a few rainutes. Besides his song, while flying 
he utters a sharp " pit,'' and while feeding frequently a " chipp chee." 
Mr Bicknell has noticed the song period to begin from the fourth week of 
March, or sometimes as late as the 23d of April, and continue to the 
middle of July, varying from the 2d to the 20th. The autumn song is 
weak and desultory. The immature males, which look like the females, 
sing almost as well as the high plimiaged males, and several observers 
have stated that they have positively made out the fact that the females 
themselves sing, though not so melodiously as the male. 

The food of the Purple finch consists in spring largely of the buds of 
trees. tJnfortunately, the buds of the peach, cherry and apple trees are 
frequently selected. In this way he often does considerable harm to the 
peach and cherry orchard, but serious complaints have come from only 
a few localities in New York. Later in the season I have often found 
them feeding on green cherries, one-fourth grown, on the green berries 
•of the fly honeysuckle, viburnum and ironwoods and, in the fall, on the 
ripened fruit of the red cedar, white ash, hemlock, and nearly any species 
of seed-bearing tree. They rarely feed upon the ground, but sometimes 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 265 

are found where seeds are plentiful, hopping about after the manner of 
sparrows. In the winter I have noticed that they seem to prefer the seeds 
of maples, ashes and mountain ash. Late in June I have found their food 
mostly confined to the samaras or ripened fruit of the elm tree. The species 
is more or less gregarious, and throughout the migration season in April 
and May, as well as in winter, they are often seen in loose flocks of 6 to 
30. While feeding, one will usually notice a rustle of wings as they dis- 
lodge seeds from the branches and regain their balance. This sound has 
often directed me to a flock which otherwise would have escaped my 
attention. 

The nest of the Purple finch is usually constructed between the 5th 
and the 20th of May in western New York, sometimes as late as the middle 
of June. The fresh eggs have been found from the loth of May to the 
15th of June, and sometimes as late as the loth of July. In this instance 
I think it was a second brood. The nest resembles very much that of the 
Chipping sparrow, consisting outwardly of small twigs, grasses and rootlets 
thickly lined with hairs. In dimensions, however, it is conspicuously 
larger than that of the Chipping sparrow and the inner nest not quite so 
neatly constructed. The eggs vary from 4 to 6 in number, usually 5, in 
my experience, greenish blue in color, spotted with blackish, brown and 
purplish. They average .8 by .56 inches in dimensions. 

Loxia curvirostra minor (Brehm) 
Crossbill 

Plate 77 

Crucirostra minor Brehm Allg. deutsche Naturhist. Zeitung. 1846. 1:532 

(note) 
Loxia americana DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 182, fig. 144 
Loxia curvirostra minor A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 245. No. 

521 

loxia, Gr., Xo^o?, crooked; curvirdstra, Lat., curve-billed; minor, smaller (that is, than 
the European crossbill) 

Description. Abotit the size and build of the Purple finch but some- 
what less streaky; mandibles crossed; tail rather short, forked. Adult 



266 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

male: Dull red varying from reddish orange chrome in siommer to dull 
Vermillion in the high plumage; the color brightest on the head, breast 
and rump, the back showing dark brownish centers of the feathers; wings 
and tail fuscous, slightly edged with the color of the back; bill horn-colored, 
tipped with dusky; iris brown; feet dark brownish. Female and young: 
Grayish olive more or less overlaid with a yellowish olive or a dull safifron, 
especially on the head and rump. 

Length 6.2-6.4 inches; extent 10.75; wing 3.4; tail 2.14; bill .66; 
tarsus .62. 

Distribution. The American crossbill breeds principally in the boreal 
zone of America, occasionally and erratically as far south as southern 
New York, but commonly in the Adirondack spruce forest. In other 
parts of the State it is an irregular winter visitor, some years appearing in 
large numbers in nearly all parts of the State, in other seasons almost 
entirely wanting. It is perhaps more erratic than the Pine grosbeak in 
its occurrence and more of a wanderer, apparently following the best crop 
of pine, spruce and hemlock cones about the country, while at other times 
seeming to be led along purely by its fancy. It also occasionally appears 
in midsvmimer in various parts of the State, especially in seasons of great 
forest fire& in the North Woods. Such occurrences are June 8 to July 28, 
1888, in Niagara county (Davison) ; June 16, 1889, Ithaca, Fuertes; 
Ithaca, July 15, 1900, Hankinson; Hamilton county, July 13, 1903, Embody; 
Ontario county, July 27, 1903, Eaton; Monroe county, July 1903, Dr C. A. 
Dewey ; Ithaca, August 7, 1904, and June 24, 1906, Doctor Reed. On 
account of its wandering habits it is practically impossible to mention 
migration dates for the Crossbill, but we might say that these birds may 
be expected from November 15 to December 12, on the average, and they 
will be last seen in the spring from April 12 to May 14. I am aware that 
these migration dates do not agree with what would be expected on account 
of the early breeding habits of this bird, but they seem to be justified by 
the notes which I have taken fcr many years. This species has been 
recorded by Merriam, and by Ralph and Bagg, as a common breeder in 
Hamilton and Herkimer counties and eastern Lewis county. Eggs in 
the Smithsonian Institution collected by Doctor Ralph at Morehouse- 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 267 

ville were taken on March 30, 1904. Kennard (Auk, 12:304) found the 
bird breeding at Brandreth lake in May 1890 and 1894, ^-rid reports a nest 
in the same place May 1890, containing young birds. Mr Bicknell reports 
the breeding of this species at Riverdale on the Hudson, the fresh eggs 
being taken on April 30, 1875 (N. O. C. Bui. 5:7-9), and Mr Helme reports 
it breeding at Millers Place, Long Island, April 10, 1883 (Auk, 2:100). 
It will thus be seen that the species is also erratic in the time of breeding 
as well as in the locality chosen for that purpose. 

Habits. The nests are placed in evergreen trees, usually not very 
far from the ground; constructed mostly of twigs, grasses and rootlets, 
lined with bits of moss and hair. Mr Bicknell describes the nest he found 
as composed of spruce twigs in a mass, with cedar bark and a felting of 
finer materials, and a second coating of horsehair, rootlets, pieces of string, 
and 2 or 3 feathers. The eggs are usually 3 or 4 in number, pale greenish, 
spotted and dotted with various shades of brown and lavender, averaging 
•75 by .57 inches. 

Like the Pine grosbeak this species is gentle and approachable in 
disposition, exhibiting very little fear of mankind. I have frequently 
stood under a hemlock or a spruce for some time without realizing that 20 
or 30 crossbills were scattered throughout the top of the tree, twisting 
the seeds from the cones, until the little wings which they had cut from 
the seeds came floating down and advised me of their presence. Then 
on examination the tree seemed to be full of crossbills. They are very 
dexterous in their work of extracting seeds from the cones, climbing about 
and hanging by their feet and bills almost as expertly as parrots. 
Occasionally the whole flock takes flight suddenly without any appar- 
ent reason, as they fly away uttering a keen " pip-pipe, pip-pip- 
pipe. " While feeding they occasionally keep up a series of short chirping 
whistles that sounds like a contented chattering among the company. 
The flight of the Crossbill is undulating. The flock keeps more closely 
together than is the case with most of the members of the finch family, 
sometimes wheeling about almost as closely ranked as flocks of cowbirds 



268 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

in the fall. The Crossbill has a beautiful song of varied and pleasing 
character, though not verj^ powerful. "A series of somewhat goldfinch- 
like trills and whistles, seldom of any duration and in any case far less 
rich than that of the White- winged crossbill. It is more apt to keep up 
a low twittering while feeding than that species. Common call notes are 
a ' pip-pipe-pip-pip-pip ' somewhat like the peeping of young chickens, 
and the much deeper ' piip-piip ' strikingly similar to one call of the Olive- 
sided flycatcher. The last mentioned note is rarely or never uttered when 
the bird is on the wing." (Gerald Thayer) 

Loxia leucoptera Gmelin 
White-winged Crossbill 

Plate 77 

Loxia leucoptera Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1789. 1:844 

DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 183, fig. 145 
A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 245. No. 522 
leucoptera, from Gr., meaning white- winged 

Description. Shaped like the Red crossbill but slightly smaller and 
the color more of a rosy red in this species, and the wings and tail black, 
the former with conspicuous white bars formed by the white tips of the middle 
and greater wing coverts; the center of the belly nearly white. Female 
and young: Olive green, yellowish on the nunp, gray on the under parts, 
mottled on the back and head with blackish. 

Length 6-6.2 inches; extent 10.18; wing 3.27; tail 2.4; bill .62; tarsus 
.61. 

Distribution. The range of this species coincides closely with that 
of the Red crossbill, but it is if anything more northerly in distribution 
and does not wander so far south in winter, but occurs as a fairly common 
winter visitant in this State, though more irregularly than the Red crossbill, 
and as far as my records show is never found throughout the State in the 
summertime. It breeds in the Adirondack forest according to Merriam, 
but is very much less common in the summer than the Red crossbill. In 
other parts of the State this species is only an erratic winter visitor, appear- 
ing from the 29th of October to the 15th of November, and disappearing 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 269 

in the spring from the 15th of April to the loth of May, sometimes remain- 
ing until late in June (in Scarboro ; Gerald Thayer) . It certainly is common- 
est between the first of December and the last of February, most of the 
records occurring between those dates. There were visitations of these 
birds in New York State in the winters of 1848, 1864, 1874, 1878, 1882, 
1888, 1890, 1893, 1896, 1897, 1899 and 1906. They were especially 
common on Long Island in the winter of 1899 and 1900, and in western 
New York in the winters of 1882 and 1889. When these birds find a 
locality where food is abundant they seem to remain in that immediate 
vicinity throughout the winter, as was observed by Mr Bicknell at River- 
dale in the winter of 1874-75, from November 3 to May 10, and by Mr 
Burtch at Penn Yan from February 4 to April 19, 1900, and by Mr Helme 
at Montauk Point from November 8, 1899, to February 20, 1900. 

Habits. This species is more active and uneasy than the Red cross- 
bill, and also more shy and suspicious, usually keeping near the tops of 
tall trees when feeding. The few flocks which I have been able to observe 
in western New York and in the Adirondacks, were in the tops of tall 
hemlocks and spruces, and it was with great difficulty that I was able to 
approach near enough to take specimens. They seemed to fly frequently 
from one tree to another, wheeling about in the air and keeping up a 
rather loud chattering cry as they flew about, the call note resembling 
somewhat the syllables " cheep, cheep'' being uttered in succession by 
the different members of the flock. In the springtime they have a 
beautiful song, perhaps more melodious than that of the Red crossbill, 
a low, soft warbling, suggesting somewhat the song of the Redpoll. The 
nest is described as composed of twigs, strips of bark, mosses, and lined 
with softer moss and hair. The eggs are usually 3 or 4 in number, pale 
blue, spotted and streaked with reddish brown and lilac, averaging .8 by 
.55 inches. 

" The two common calls of this species are a loud, whistled ' wheet- 
wheet-wheet ' impossible to mistake for that of any other eastern bird, 
and an equally characteristic rolling twitter, which, however, is somewhat 



270 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

similar to the corresponding note of the Redpoll. Its song, heard 

occasionally in the winter but much more frequently in the birds' summer 

home, is a remarkably loud and rich series of trills, twitters and whistles 

suggestive of the song of a strong-voiced canary. It is one of the loudest 

and one of the most noticeable songs to be heard in the north woods." 

(Gerald Thayer) 

Acanthis homemanni exilipes (Coues) 

Hoary Redpoll 

Aegiothus exilipes Coues. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. 1861. 385 

Linaria borealis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 169 

Acanthis hoTnomanni exilipes A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 247. 

No. 527a 

acdnthis, Gr., name of the linnet; hdrnemanni, to J. W. Homemann; exilipes, Lat., 
small-footed 

Description. Pattern of coloration similar to the common Redpoll, 
but decidedly whiter, the sides being much less heavily streaked and the 
upper parts more broadly edged with white; rump plain white without 
any streaks; the wings and tail more distinctly edged with whitish; the 
breast and rump tinged with pink as in the common species. 

For dimensions see table under rostrata. 

Distribution. The Hoary redpoll is found throughout the holarctic 
regions. In America it breeds from Ungava to western Alaska, and 
straggles southward in the winter as far as Maine, Massachusetts, Ontario, 
Michigan and Illinois. It is unfortunate that I have been unable to find 
any actual specimens of the Hoary redpoll from New York State, but it 
is ascribed to New York by Nuttall (see Chamberlain's edition, page 538) 
and also reported from the vicinity of Auburn in 1 854 (see paper by William 
Hopkins read by Doctor Brewer, Proceedings Boston Society Natural 
History, volume 5, 1856, page 13). It is also included by DeKay in " Birds 
of New York," but without definite statement as to specimens secured 
in the State. It has also been reported as seen by different observers, 
the last record coming from Otto McCreary of a specimen seen near 
Trumansburg with Common and Greater redpolls on March 24, 1912. 
There is little doubt that this species occurs in New York, as many speci- 



I 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 27 1 

mens have been taken in Massachusetts at SWampscott, Revere, Cambridge 
and Nantasket (see Brewster, Auk, 4: 163); it is also reported by Ridgway 
and the A. O. U. from Hamihon Beach, Ontario; Chicago, 111.; and from 
northern Michigan. 

Acanthis linaria linaria (Linnaeus) 
Redpoll 

Plate 78 

Fringilla linaria Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:182 
Linaria minor DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 168, fig. 161 
Acanthis linaria linaria A. D. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 248. 
No. 528 

linaria, Lat., a linnet 

Description. Small, shaped like a Goldfinch; streaky; tail forked; 
bill small and sharp-pointed, with conspicuovis tufts of bristles over the 
nostrils. Adult male: Crown bright red; forehead, chin and upper throat 
blackish; upper parts grayish brown streaked with dusky and whitish, lighter 
on the rump ; under parts whitish especially the belly and under tail coverts ; 
sides streaked with dusky; the lower throat, breast and rump rosy pink; 
whitish wing bars and edgings. Female: Duller, only slightly tinged with 
pink on the breast and rump. 

Length 5.32 inches; extent 8.25-8.75; wing 2.8; tail 2.32; bill .36; tar- 
sus .56. 

Distribution. This species inhabits the northern hemisphere, in 
America breeding from Alaska and northern Ungava, southward to northern 
Alberta and the islands of the Gulf of St Lawrence ; winters in the northern 
portion of the United States. In New York this species is an irregular 
winter visitant, undoubtedly occurring every winter, but frequently being 
very abundant. Winters of unusual abundance were those of 1876, 1878, 
1882, 1886, 1889, 1898, 1899, 1906, 1908, 1910. The date of arrival varies 
from the 9th to the 25th of November. It seems to be commonest from 
about the last week in November till the last of March, although they are 
frequently seen from the 6th to the 29th of April. Ustially they disappear 
by the loth of April. 

Haunts and habits. The Redpoll is most commonly found in birch 
and alder swamps subsisting on the seeds which it extracts from the stro- 



272 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



biles with its sharp beak, and along the roadsides and wide fields covered 
with weeds, feeding on the seeds of amaranth, goosefoot and ragweed, and 
frequently enters the gardens in the outskirts of towns and cities to feed 
on the weeds projecting above the snow. In notes and habits it reminds 
one very much of the Goldfinch. It is unsuspicious and often allows one 
to approach closely, without taking wing; sometimes, however, the whole 
flock will rise suddenly without a moment's warning, wheeling around 




Greater rediroll J 
Acanthis linaria rostratus (Coues) 



Holboell redpoll O 
Acanthis holboelli (Brehm) 
Redpoll d" 

Acanthis linaria linaria (Linnaeus) 
From New York specimens in the State Museum. J nat. size 



over the swamp and disappearing entirely from view. " The distinct 
call notes of this species are at least four in number; a long drawn, shrill 
' buzz ' very similar to one note of the Pine siskin, but thinner and longer; 
a conversational twittering uttered when several birds are feeding together, 
difficult to distinguish from the corresponding note of the siskin but some- 
what more rolling; a ' ker-weet ' extremely similar to the long plaintive call 
of the American goldfinch but distinguishable, being different in tone; and 
lastly, a common, loud twittering or rolling call uttered when the bird 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 273 

is on the wing, which may be described as intermediate between the cor- 
responding rolling call of the White- winged crossbill and the ordinary piping 
call of the Red crossbill, though somewhat softer than either " (Gerald 
Thayer). On the 27th of March 1912, I heard the song of a full plumaged 
Redpoll delivered from the peak of a tamarack in a swamp near Geneva, 
N. Y. It resembled somewhat the ecstatic flight song of the Goldfinch, 
but seemed to me more melodious and finer toned, more of the quality 
of the " tweet " call of the Goldfinch and less of the warbling quality, but 
delivered in the manner of the Goldfinch's warble. The Redpoll is fully 
as gregarious as the Crossbill, is rarely found except in flocks of from 20 
to 50, sometimes 200 or 300. When the flocks take wing they keep up 
a combination of twittering and chirping very characteristic of the species. 
In habits they are wholly beneficial, feeding only on seeds of trees or on 
the seeds of harmful weeds which grow in the field. 

Acanthis linaria holboelli (Brehm) 

Holhoell Redpoll 

Linaria holboellii Brehm. Handbuch Vogel Deutschl. 1831. 280 
Acanthis linaria holboelli A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 248. 
Xo. 52 8a 

holboelli, to C. Holboell 

Description. Like the common Redpoll in color, but larger, the bill 
slimmer and longer (see dimensions given under rostrata). 

Distribution. This subspecies of Redpoll breeds in the holarctic 
region, in America on the islands of the Arctic coast, especially Herschel 
island, and wanders southward in winter as far as Quebec, Ontario, Maine 
and Massachusetts. In New York it has been taken at Lake George, 
Warren county, January 27, 1890, A. K. Fisher collection, no. 3940; and 
at Kenwood, near Albany, February 15, 1907, a male taken by George 
Richard, New York State Musetun collection, no. 1753. The dimensions 
of the latter specimen, which is figured in the half tone on page 272, 
are: wing 77 millimeters; tail 60; culmen 10.5; depth of bill 6.5; tarsus 15; 



274 ^EU YORK STATE MUSEUM 

middle toe 9. There is little doubt that many specimens of this species 
could be obtained in northern New York if a large series of redpolls were 
collected and carefully examined; but it resembles so nearly the common 
subspecies that it can not possibly be distinguished at any distance in 
the field. 

Acanthis linaria rostrata (Coues) 
Greater Redpoll 

Plate 78 

Aegiothus rostratus Coues. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. 1861. 378 
Acanthis linaria rostrata A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 248. 
No. 5 28b 

rostrata, Lat., beaked 

Description. Much larger than the common species; general colora- 
tion darker and browner; stripes on the breast and sides decidedly heavier; 
the bill thicker and blunter in outline. 

Distribution. The Greater redpoll next to the Lesser redpoll is our 
commonest species of the genus in New York. It unquestionably occurs 
each season. Several specimens have been taken near Shelter island by 
Mr Worthington, one of which, a female, taken February 11, 1879, is in 
the Dutcher collection, no. 1562. Specimens from the interior of the 
State are: Ossining, taken February 12 and 13, 1883, by Ezra Acker (see 
Fisher, N. O. C. Bui. 8: 121); a pair taken at Lake George, Warren county, 
January 2 and 11, by T. A. Lockhart (see Fisher, Auk, 1:156); and 
a specimen from Lewis county collected by Doctor Merriam, reported 
in the Ralph and Bagg list, page 129. The specimen figured on 
page 272 was taken at West Waterford, January 23, 1899, by Will 
Richard, and is now in New York State Museum collection, no. 1139. 
Its dimensions are: wing 78 millimeters; tail 60; culmen 9.6; depth of bill 
7; tarsus 15.5; middle toe 10. By observing flocks of redpolls with a field 
glass when they are working among the weeds near one in the field, or 
in birch, alder, tamarack and apple trees at a distance of from 2 to 6 rods, 
it is possible to distinguish, in size and coloration, between this subspecies 
and the Lesser redpoll; and they can thus be recorded with certainty 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



275 



by those who are experienced in the differences between our redpolls. In 
this way Mr Otto McCreary has observed them on several occasions in 
Ontario and Seneca counties during 1909, 19 10 and 191 2. The home of 
the present subspecies is in Greenland and the adjoining country, straggling 
southward in winter from Ungava and Labrador to Quebec, Ontario, 
Manitoba, Indiana, Illinois, Colorado, New York and Massachusetts. 



exili pes 
linaria 
holboelli 
rostrata 



SUBSPECIES 

male. . . 

female . 

male. . . 

female., 
f male. . . 
I female . 
J male. . . 
I female . 



Average dimensions of Redpolls 

(Ridgway, Birds of North and Middle America) 



WING 


TAIL 


EXPOSED 


DEPTH OF 






MIDDLE 


MILLIMETERS 


CULM EN 


BILL AT BASli 




TOE 


7518 


57 40 


7.87 


6-35 


14 


48 


7-87 


71.12 


56.13 


7.87 


6.10 


14 


48 


7.62 


74-93 


.54- 10 


8.89 


6.10 


14 


73 


8.64 


7391 


53 85 


8.38 


6. 10 


14 


73 


8.38 


75- 18 


56.90 


9 91 


7-37 


15 


24 


8. 89 


72.90 


57.15 


9.91 


7-II 


»4 


99 


7-87 


80.52 


59-94 


9.91 


7.62 


16 


51 


9.65 


78.23 


58.67 


9-65 


7.62 


16 


26 


9.14 



Acanthis cannabina 

European Linnet 
canndbina, Lat., of hemp 

Description. Forehead and crown crimson; rest of the head, nape and sides of the 
neck mottled brownish gray; mantle chestnut brown; wing feathers blackish with outer 
edges white, forming a conspicuous bar; under tail coverts dark brown withv/hitish margin; 
tail feathers black narrowly edged with white on the outer and broadly on the inner webs ; 
chin and throat dull white striped with grayish brown; breast crimson; belly dull white; 
flanks fawn brown; in winter the crimson feathers concealed by wide grayish margins. 
Female: Duller in color and without any crimson. 

Length 5.75 inches. 

Distribution. This old-world species, which resembles superficially the Redpoll in 
appearance, is not a native of our avifauna, but has been reported once from this State 
by Gerald Thayer (see Auk, 17 : 389). Of course, its occurrence here was wholly accidental. 
The specimen taken by Mr Thayer in Westchester county, at Scarboro, is now in the 
State Museum. Besides the one taken, he saw a flock of 5 males and females for several 
days about the locality. There is no question about the identity of Mr Thayer's speci- 
men but, of course, it is barely possible that these linnets had escaped from some zoological 
park or had been liberated by persons who had them in captivity, yet there is little more 

reason to doubt that they had wandered here, than that many specimens of American 
18 



276 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

species reported in Great Britian had wandered to that region. It is, moreover, improbable 
that so many individuals as the 6 seen by Mr Thayer would have crossed the ocean on 
board a ship, as sometimes happens to single individuals of other species. 

Astragalinus tristis tristis (Linnaeus) 
Goldfinch 

Plates 78 and 79 

Fringilla tristis Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. lo. 1758. 1:181 
Carduelis tristis DeKaj-. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 166, fig. 151 
Astragalinus tristis tristis A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 248. 

No. 529 

astragaltmts, Gr., aj-rpayaXIvoc, "an unknowTi small bird " (D'Arcy W. Thompson), 
" a goldfinch " (Liddell & Scott); tristis, Lat., sad, alluding to its call 

Description. Bill conical, sharp pointed; tail forked. Male: Bright 
lemon yellow, the crown, wings and tail black; wing bars and streaks on 
the wings and tail, white. Female: Grayish olive brown tinged with green, 
especially on the throat and sides of the neck; wings and tail blackish; 
wings barred and the secondaries and tail feathers streaked with whitish; 
under parts dull white tinged with yellowish. Male in winter: Plumage 
resembles the female, but the wings and tail blacker, the body plumage 
much browner, the throat and sides of the neck more tinged with yellowish 
green, the lesser wing coverts and the upper tail coverts bright yellow as in 
summer. Young resemble the female. 

Length 4.75-5.2 inches; extent 8.8-9.25; wing 5.82; tail 1.95; bill .4; 
tarsus .54. 

Distribution. This species inhabits eastern North America from 
southern Manitoba, central Quebec and Newfoundland southward to 
eastern Colorado, Arkansas and northern Georgia, in winter extending as 
far southward as the gulf coast. In New York it is a common resident, 
though less common in winter, fairly abundant as a breeding species in 
all portions of the State except the dense portion of the forested districts; 
found in winter throughout the State, but more commonly in the southern 
portion. Many bird students asstime that the Goldfinch migrates like 
many of our sparrows and warblers because the male birds, assuming 
their brilliant hues about the last of April or the first week in May, seem 
to appear suddenly; although, if they had visited the swamps and fields, 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 277 

they might have found them in somber plumage throughout the winter 
months. It is true that the Goldfinch is much commoner and more 
generally distributed in the summer time than in the winter, especially 
in the gardens and farmyards. 

Haunts and habits. Its usual haunts are open fields with plenty of 
seeds of the dandelion and thistle. It feeds largely on the ground or among 
the weeds, but otherwise spends most of its time in the orchards and shade 
trees, in pairs or little companies, being a rather sociable species, and in 
fall and winter almost always travels in flocks, after the manner of the 
Redpoll and Siskin. I have noticed that the principal food of the Gold- 
finch in winter consists of seeds of the birch, alder, hemlock and all kind 
of weeds which grow in the open field. In summer and fall it seems 
especially fond of hemp seeds, thistle seeds, chickweed, dandelion and 
salsify. It is rarely complained of as injurious, but gardeners who are 
raising lettuce and salsify find it oftentimes very destructive to the seeds; 
in fact, a garden of lettuce which has been allowed to go to seed almost 
certainly attracts dozens of these gay-plumaged finches until the supply 
has been exhausted. When the dandelions are in full seed, it is customary 
to see dozens of Goldfinches scattered over the lawn, busily engaged in 
tearing the seeds from their gossamers and devouring them. Thus, by 
destroying weed seeds through the summer and winter, it does good service 
to the gardener and farmer. 

This little finch is not only one of our most beneficial and brilliantly 
colored birds, and one of the most familiar during the summer months, 
but his call notes and song are as beautiful as his plumage. He has 
a plaintive, canarylike " tswee-tee " uttered with a rising inflection, and, 
when flying in deeply undulating sweep, the male utters a call note 
resembling the syllables " per-chick-a-pee." The young birds fresh from 
the nest have a curious note somewhat similar to the syllables " chee-pee." 
The song of the Goldfinch, heard late in June and through the months 
of July and August, is sometimes uttered from a perch, but more usually 
while the bird flies around in broad circles with fluttering wings, pouring 



278 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

forth a torrent of canarylike warbling which sometimes approaches in 
beauty the song of the Purple finch. 

The nest is constructed the latest of all our native birds. They rarely 
begin to build before the last week in June, although they may have been 
in residence throughout the year. Fresh eggs have been taken from the 
5th to the 27th of July, sometimes as late as the loth to the 19th of August, 
and on one occasion I found a Goldfinch's nest with eggs the first week 
in September. This is very unusual. The site selected is in a bush or 
tree from 5 to 30 feet from the ground, usually among thickly clustered 
limbs. The structure is composed externally of fine grasses, strips of 
bark, especially the epidermis of the milkweed, and mosses, lined with 
thistledown, a fact almost universal in this species, which has given it 
the name of " Thistle bird " in many portions of the State. The eggs 
are from 3 to 6 in number, normally 5, ovate in shape, white in color, 
slightly tinged with bluish, averaging .65 by .48 inches in dimensions. 
Only one brood is reared. The time of incubation is about 10 days. 

Spinus pinus (Wilson) 
Pine Siskin 

Plate 78 

Fringilla pinus Wilson. Amer. Orn. 1810. 2:133. pi. 17, fig. 1 
Carduelis pinus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 167, fig. 136 
Spinus pinus A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 250. No. 533 

spinus, Lat., thorn tree, spina, a spine or thorn; pinus, Lat., pine tree 

Description. Sexes similar. Shaped like the Goldfinch but slightly 
shorter, the bill more slender; upper parts grayish brown streaked with 
dusky; under parts whitish tinged with buffy, streaked with blackish; wing 
bars whitish; the bases of the tail feathers, except the middle pair, and 
bases of the wing feathers bright yellow showing in flight as yellow patches 
at base of tail and in the wing. Young birds have the under parts more 
tinged with yellowish and the wing bars ocherous instead of white. 

Length 5 inches; extent 8.63; wing 2.76; tail 1.9; bill .43; tarsus .47. 

Distribution. The Siskin or Pine finch inhabits North America from 
central Alaska, southern Keewatin and southern Ungava to the mountains 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 279 

of lower California and southern New Mexico, and to northern Michigan, 
Nova Scotia and in the Appalachian mountains to North Carolina, nesting 
also casually in Massachusetts and the lower Hudson valley. In winter 
it wanders over the whole United States and northern Mexico, but is 
erratic in its habits and distribution. Some years it appears in great 
numbers in various parts of the State; other seasons it is almost unknov/n. 
The years of unusual occurrence were 1882, 1886, 1891, 1898, 1901, 1909. 
It must not be asstimed that it does not occur nearly every season, especially 
in the eastern and northern portions of the State, but certainly is rather 
uncommon except at intervals of a few years. The flocks arrive from 
the north from the 4th to the i6th or sometimes the 30th of October and 
wander about various localities where food is abundant, become commoner 
again in April and May, and are last seen from the loth to the 30th of 
May, but occasionally as late as the 27th of June, sometimes remaining 
to breed, as happened at Ossining, May 25, 1883 (Fisher, N. O. C. Bui. 
8:180), and at Cornwall-on-the-Hudson, May 3-12, 1887 (Allen, Auk, 4: 
284), at Remsen, April 4-9, 1889 (Ralph and Bagg list). In the higher 
Catskills, but more particularly in the Adirondacks, it is likely to breed 
each season, although in what part of the Adirondacks the principal breed- 
ing will occur is problematic. In the spring of 1905 immense numbers 
of these birds bred in Essex county in the region surrounding the higher 
peaks of Marcy and Skylight, and young fully fledged and feeding them- 
selves were found in large flocks when we visited the district on the i6th 
of June. Doctor Merriam speaks of them breeding abundantly in the 
western Adirondacks in various seasons. Some years, however, they seem 
to be entirely absent from all portions of the Adirondacks as a breeding 
species, although it is possible that, if search of the whole region were 
made, some would be found breeding in unexpected places. Its breeding 
in the southern portions of the State as recorded at Ossining and Cornwall 
is certainly very exceptional. 

Haunts and habits. The Pine siskin resembles the Goldfinch in habits, 
its flight being undulating, and the flocks usually proceeding over the 



280 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

fields in long, waving swoops. It is commonly found in forests of hemlock, 
pine and spnace, alder swamps, and open fields. The Siskin is fully as 
gregarious as the Redpoll, in my experience. It is no uncommon thing 
in the month of November and again in late April or the first half of May 
to see flocks of 500 or 600 Siskins sweeping over the country, sometimes 
remaining only for a few minutes in any given locality, and then con- 
tinuing their wanderings, their presence being determined largely by an 
abundance of their favorite food. It feeds principally on the seeds of 
conifers and various weeds, scarcely differing in this respect from the 
Goldfinch and Redpoll, but is perhaps more confined to seeds of the hem- 
lock and the pine than these species. Its call note is a melancholy " chee-a," 
and the flight call is a chippering " tit-i-tit.'' The Siskin also has a song 
suggesting that of the Goldfinch, but less melodious. 

The nest is usually saddled on a large limb of hemlock or other conifer 
20 to 30 feet from the ground among the thick foliage. It is a bulky 
structure with a rough exterior, loosely built of hemlock twigs and sprigs 
of moss, about 6 inches in external diameter. The interior is compactly 
woven of thistledown, fur and hair, the innermost lining being of horse- 
hair and the inside dimensions given by Mearns 2.25 by 1.25 inches. The 
eggs are 4 to 6 in number, bluish white, slightly spotted with reddish; 
average dimensions .67 by .46 inches. 

Carduelis carduelis (Linnaeus) 
European Goldfinch 

Plate 79 

carduelis, Lat., thistlefinch, goldfinch 

Description. Size and shape of the American goldfinch ; fore face bright red, that of 
the crown and brow separated from that of the throat by black lores; behind the red 
on the sides of the head and upper throat is a margin of white, brightest on the side of 
the head ; crown and band behind the white on the side of the head and neck black; 
upper parts cinnamon brown; breast and sides tinged with the same; belly white; wings 
and tail black; the feathers tipped with white ; a large yellow patch in the wing. 

Length 5.5 inches; wing 3; tail 2.95; bill .5. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 28 1 

Distribution. This old-world species was introduced at Hoboken, N. J., in 1878. 
The following year it appeared in Central Park, New York City, and soon spread over 
the northern portions of Manhattan island and the surrounding countrj*. Locally not 
an uncommon resident (Adney, Auk, 3:409). The winter of 1889, Mr Hendrickson 
reported three specimens from Long Island City. In the winter of 1891 many were 
noticed flocking with the American goldfinches at Dobbs Ferry, but several were found 
dead in the snow, evidently the severity of the winter proving too much for this 
species (Dr A. K. Fisher). 

I am not aware that the European goldfinch has increased, or even held its own 
in this State since the brief records rehearsed above were publishec^. In the spring of 
1900 I noticed several pairs that were endeavoring to build their nests in Central Park, 
and in the country about Kings Bridge and Spuyten Duyvil, New York Cit}'; but 
from all reports it seems that this beautiful species is not likely to become established 
so easily as the obnoxious European sparrow. 

Plectrophenax nivalis nivalis (Linnaeus') 
Snow Bunting 

Plate 80 

Ernberiza nivalis Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:176 
Plcctrophanes nivalis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 178, fig. 158 
Plectrophenax nivalis nivalis A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 251. 

No. 534 

plectrophenax, from Or., xX-^x-rpov, quill or spur, and feva?, a cheat, referring to the 
long hind claw which might be mistaken for a spur; nivdlis, snowy 

Description. Considerably larger than the English sparrow; tail 
slightly forked; hind claw longer than toe; wings long and pointed. Male 
in summer: Largely white; back, under portion of primaries, inner second- 
aries and inner tail feathers, mostly black. In winter: The top of the 
head, back of the neck, cheeks and the black feathers of the upper parts, 
largely overlaid with rusty and buffy whitish; also a touch of rusty on the 
side of the breast; bill yellow tipped with dusky; feet black. Female: 
Similar to the male, but upper parts streaked with black in summer, and 
the wings and tail not so blackish in winter. 

Length cf 7-7.35 inches, 9 6-6.5; extent 12. 5-13.25; wing cf 4-2-4-5. 
9 4; tail 2.7; bill .42; tarsus .83. 

Distribution. The Snowflake inhabits the northern hemisphere, being 
holarctic in distribution, in America breeding from 83 degrees north, to 



282 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

northern Alaska and Ungava; winters from Alaska, southern Alberta and 
southern Ungava as far south as northern California, Kansas, Ohio and some- 
times Florida. In New York State it is a common winter visitant in nearly- 
all localities, but is rather irregular in occurrence, sometimes appearing in 
great numbers for several weeks in winter, at other times seeming to be 
absent except for passing flocks which will be noted at intervals throughout 
the colder weather. They arrive from the north sometimes as early as 
the 28th of September on the Montez\]ma marshes and about the central 
lakes and the shores of Lake Ontario, but on Long Island and other parts 
of the State are rarely noticed before the 22d to the 30th of October, some- 
times not before the 26th of November, and remain until the last of Feb- 
ruary or the loth of March, sometimes being noticed as late as the 22d 
to 26th of the month. 

Haunts and habits. This species is fully as gregarious as the cross- 
bills and redpolls. Although I have frequently seen single individuals 
appear on the Montezuma marshes and on the lake shore, almost 
without exception they are noticed in companies of from 25 to 50, 
and sometimes several hundreds, and on a few occasions I have noticed 
flocks of thousands sweeping over the fields like clouds of drifting snow. 
Flocks of snowfiakes perform various evolutions while on the wing, 
careening backward and forward and wheeling about, and again seeming 
to blow over the fields like dried leaves driven by the wind. While flying, 
the members of the flock keep up a tinkling whistle, a note resembling 
somewhat the syllable "tee" repeated at intervals by the various members 
of the flock; also, when disturbed, they utter a harsh " beez-beez." 

Their ordinary fare consists of seeds of the pigweeds (goosefoot and 
amaranth) and ragweed (ambrosia), and all species of grass. They feed 
entirely on the ground and are almost never observed to alight in trees, 
although such instances have been recorded. They walk and run while 
on the ground, never hopping as is the custom with the Song sparrow and 
other birds of the family. Consequently their tracks in the snow are 
often mistaken for those of the Horned lark. Snowflakes are wholly 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 283 

beneficial on account of the destruction of weed seeds. Although they 
were frequently shot for food in the earlier days, they are rarely slaughtered 
for that purpose now, and should be left to enliven the winter landscape. 

Calcarius lapponicus lapponicus (Linnaeus) 

Lapland Longspur 

Fringilla lapponica Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:180 
Plectrophanes lapponicus DeKay. Zool. N.Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 177,%. 159 
Calcarius lapponicus lapponicus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 

p. 251. No. 536 

calcarius, Lat., calcar, a spur, referring to the long, rather straight hind claw; lap- 
ponicus, of Lapland 

Description. Slightly smaller than the Snowflake; hind claw even 
more elongated; bill somewhat more slender; tail more forked; in general, 
darker in coloration; upper parts light brownish streaked with blackish. 
Male in summer: Head, throat and chest black; a buffy stripe behind the 
eye; sides streaked with black; belly white; hind neck chestnut. Male 
in fall and winter: The black and rufous more or less obscured by the 
brownish white tips of the feathers, but the black showing through, 
particularly in the region behind the eye, on the lower cheek, the sides of 
the throat, and on the chest. Female in summer: Like the winter male, 
but the black areas more broken; the hind neck streaked with blackish. 
Female in winter: Brownish and less sharply streaked, lower parts brownish 
white. Young: Above tawny buff streaked with black; beneath, pale 
buffy, chest and sides streaked with blackish. 

Length cf 6.1-6.9 inches, 9 5-5-6; wing d' 3-6-3-9. ? 3-5-3-6; tail 
2.55; bill .4. 

Distribution. The Lapland longspur, like the Snowflake, is found 
throughout the northern half of the northern hemisphere, in America 
breeding from latitude 73 on the Arctic islands and 75 degrees in east 
Greenland, southward to the limit of trees in Mackenzie and northern 
Ungava; winters from southern Quebec and Dakota southward to the 
Middle States and Texas. In New York this longspur has always been 
regarded as a rare or uncommon species, but I have no doubt that this 
rating has been the result of inability to distinguish it among the flocks 
of snowflakes with which it associates. Though the darker plumage of 



284 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

the Longspur in winter will almost always distinguish it from the snow- 
flakes, it has been my experience that bird students who are in the habit 
of collecting find the Longspur more common than they had supposed 
before shooting extensively. During many seasons this species is fairly 
common on Long Island and on the plains near Lake Ontario and Lake 
Erie. The reports of longspurs in New York are mostly between the i8th 
of December and the 22d of February, the greater number having been 
taken in January and the first half of February; but Mr Dutcher records 
a specimen from Shinnecock bay August 12, 1881, which is about 3 months 
earlier than most of the dates before me. Another specimen he records 
from Long Island City October 18. A record 6 weeks later than the usual 
date of departure is April 18, 1885, a specimen from Hempstead Plains 
reported by Mr Dutcher (Auk, 3 : 440) . 

Haunts and habits. The Lapland longspur resembles the Snowfiake 
in habits, walking instead of hopping, living entirely upon the ground 
and traveling over the wide fields and desolate shores near the coast in 
straggling flocks. It has a tendency, however, to fly higher in the air 
than the Sinowflake when disturbed in the open fields, or when migrating 
across the country. 

Calcarius ornatus (J. K. Townsend) 

Chestnut-collared Longspur 

Plectrophanes ornata Townsend. Joum. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. 1837. pt 2. 

7:189 
Calcarius ornatus A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 25J. No. 538 

ornatus, Lat., adorned, ornamented 

Description. Male in summer: Top of the head, stripe behind the eye, 
chest, breast and belly black; the under parts sometimes edged with rufous; 
hind neck rich rufous; stripe over eye, chin and throat ivhite; cheeks pale 
buff. In winter the black largely concealed by light brownish. Female: 
Upper parts light grayish buffy brown streaked with dusky; paler below. 
Young: Dusky, margined with brownish white; an indistinct whitish 
stripe over eye; cheek and throat white flaked with grayish dusky; lower 
parts grayish buff, streaked on the breast and sides with dusky. Size of 
the Lapland longspur. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 285 

Distribution. The Chestnut-collared longspur inhabits the Great 
Plains, breeding from Montana, southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba to 
central Wyoming, Kansas, eastern Nebraska and western Minnesota; 
winters from Colorado and Iowa to Arizona and the Mexican tableland. 
Accidental in the Eastern States. It is purely a straggler within our borders. 
Two specimens have been taken on Long Island, the first at Long Island 
City, February i6, 1889 (see Hendrickson, Auk, 6:89); the second specimen 
was collected at Millers Place, September 14, 1891, and reported by A. H. 
Helme. 

Pooecetes gramineus gramineus (Gmelin) 
Vesper Sparrow 

Plate 83 

Fringilla graminea Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1789. 1:922 

DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 151, fig. 140 
Pooecetes gramineus gramineus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 
p. 253. No. S40 
Pooecetes, Gr., "i^ot, meadow, and oiv.hr^:;, inhabitant; gramineus, Lat., grassy 

Description. Grayish brown streaked with dusky; under parts dull 
white spotted on the breast and sides with dusky; the tail fuscous except 
the central feathers which are like the back; outer tail feathers mostly white; les- 
ser wing coverts rufous; ear region usually shows dusky spot ; legs flesh colored ; 
general appearance of the bird is a pale grayish brown, streaked sparrow. 

Length 5.8-6.7 inches; extent lo-ii; wing 3-3.4; tail 2.4-2.7; bill 
.42; tarsus .83. 

Distribution. The Vesper sparrow inhabits eastern North America 
from southern Keewatin, central Quebec and Cape Breton to eastern 
Nebraska, Kentucky and North Carolina ; winters from the Central States 
to the gulf coast. In New York this sparrow is a common summer resident 
of all portions of the State and in the region near the sea and some of the 
warmer counties a few remain throughout the winter. The spring migra- 
tion begins from the i8th to the 30th of March in the southern part of 
the State; in the northern counties from the ist to the 6th of April. In 
the fall the birds disappear between the ist and 15th of November, some- 
times a few remaining until the last of the month. 



286 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Haunts and habits. The Vesper sparrow, Bay-winged bunting or 
Grass finch, as this bird is called in different parts of the country, inhabits 
open grassy fields, being almost entirely a ground bird ; but it prefers pasture 
lands and fields with sparse cover of weeds and grasses to the dense meadow 
lands and, on the whole, enjoys a drier soil than the Savannah sparrow. 
It is frequently seen in plowed fields and along the dusty roadsides running 
along in front of the traveler and, when too closely pressed, darts away 
with a rather hurried, sweeping, slightly undulating flight to some distant 
fence post or to the shelter of the grass. 

The song of this species is heard mostly in the morning, late in the 
afternoon and in the evening as late as an hour after sundown. It consists 
of two long, low notes, succeeded b}^ two higher notes, then descends in 
chippering trills, the whole song being somewhat longer and more deliberate 
than that of the Song sparrow. On clear evenings in May and early June 
if one walks into the country and takes one's station near some crossroad, 
the song of the Vesper sparrow may often be heard in a dozen different 
directions at the same time; first one individual from a near-by fence post 
takes up the refrain, followed by another farther in the field standing 
upon a clod of earth, another farther off on top of a small tree, still farther 
one from a fence rail, and so in every direction near and far at intervals 
from different individuals the song will be repeated, the farthermost sending 
only the two higher notes to the ear of the listener. Such a concert is 
really inspiring if one will take the trouble to stop and listen. The song 
is loud, clear and ringing, "sweeter and more plaintive than that of the 
Song sparrow " (Chapman). 

The nest of this species is invariably placed upon the ground, usually 
beside a clod of earth, partly under a clump of grass, or beside a growing 
weed in the open field, rather loosely constructed of coarse grass and weed 
stalks, lined with finer grasses, rootlets and long hair. The eggs are 4 
or 5 in nvunber, grayish white or bluish white in ground color, spotted 
with umber and reddish brown. Average size .83 by .61 inches. The 
period of incubation is about 10 days. Two broods are reared in a season 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 287 

in this latitude. The first nestful of fresh eggs may be found from the 
28th of April to the 20th of May. Later sets are frequently observed 
from the 20th of June to the 25th of July. 

This sparrow in the summer time destroys many insects, especially 
young grasshoppers, leafhoppers and the larvae of insects found among 
the grass. In the fall, winter and early spring he feeds almost entirely 
upon weed seeds, thus rendering efficient service to the agriculturist. 

Passerculus princeps Maynard 
Ipswich Sparrow 

Plate 81 

Passerculus princeps Maynard. Amer. Nat. 1872. 6:637 

A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 254. No. 541 
passerculus, Lat., diminutive of passer, sparrow; princeps, Lat., first, chief 

Description. In general appearance this bird resembles a large 
Savannah sparrow, having almost exactly the same pattern of coloration, 
but paler. The yellowish superciliary line is mostly confined to a spot 
of yellow in front of the eye or entirely wanting; the same yellow on the 
bend of the wing as in the Savannah sparrow, but the breast and sides 
are less heavily streaked. 

Length 6.25-6.75 inches; extent 11; wing 2.9-3.2; tail 2.25-2.50; 
tarsus .93. 

Distribution. This sparrow is confined to the north Atlantic coast of 
America, breeds on Sable island, Nova Scotia, and winters from Sable 
island southward as far as Georgia. In this State it is confined to the 
bleak, wind-swept hillocks of the southern shores of Long Island, and 
the barren beaches. The earliest fall records are October 12 to October 
26. The latest spring records in Mr Butcher's Long Island notes are 
found between the 7th of March and the 3d of April. It is evident that 
this bird is not so rare on the coast of Long Island as was formerly sup- 
posed. Mr Butcher concluded years ago that it would hereafter be 
relegated to the commonplace (Auk, 3:42), and his judgment has been 
confirmed by subsequent investigation. 

Haunts and habits. Anyone who is willing to scour the barren beaches 



28S NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

and the rolling sandhills of the Long Island coast, searching carefully 
among the bunches of beach grass, will surely find these sparrows through- 
out the winter season. They rise rapidly when disturbed and, darting 
away with hurried flight, pitch down again to conceal themselves as soon 
as they are two or three shotgun ranges from the hunter. They frequently 
utter a faint " sip " as they fly or as they hop about searching for food. 

Passerculus sandwichensis savanna (Wilson) 
Savannah Sparrow 

Plate 8 1 

Fringilla savanna Wilson. Amer. Om. 1811. 3:55. pi. 22, fig. 3 
Emberiza savanna DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 161, fig. 155 
Passerculus sandwichensis savanna A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3 . 
1910. p. 254. No. S42a 
sand-djichensis , of Sandwich island, Alutians; savanna, a meadow (Spanish) 

Description. Upper parts streaked with brownish black, dull rufous 
and ashy, the general tone being darker and more heavily streaked than 
the Vesper sparrow; also smaller than that species, and the tail shorter; 
the crown has a median streak of whitish; pale sulphur yellow stripe over 
the eye. Under parts white, tinged with buffy and streaked with blackish 
on the breast and sides; feet flesh colored. 

Length 5.3-5.9 inches; extent 8.8-9.2; wing 2.65-2.9; tail 2-2.2; 
bill .41 ; tarsus .82. 

Distribution. The Savannah sparrow is confined to eastern North 
America, fron central Keewatin and northern Ungava to northern Iowa, 
Pennsylvania and Connecticut; winters from New Jersey and Indiana to 
northeastern Mexico and Cuba. In New York it is an uncommon summer 
resident in the coastal district, except, perhaps, at the eastern end of Long 
Island, but is a common transient visitant in this section of the State and 
also an occasional or fairly common winter resident. In other parts of 
the State it is an abundant transient visitant, and a fairly common or 
common summer resident throughout central and western New York 
and in the Adirondack district. Throughout the interior of the State it 
is less common as a breeding species than the Vesper sparrow, but decidedly 
more common and more generally distributed than the Grasshopper sparrow. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 289 

It arrives from the south from the 23d to the 30th of March in the warmer 
portions of the State, from the ist to the lOth of April in the northern 
counties. In the fall it is extremely abundant from the 20th of September 
to the middle of October, the migration ending between the 25th of October 
and the T5th of November. 

Haunts and habits. The haunts of the Savannah sparrow are open 
grassy fields; but it prefers damper situations than those chosen by the 
Vesper sparrow and frequently is found nesting in wet meadows. Wherever 
such situations abound, this bird will be found, even in the southern 
portion of the State. It also nests in meadows where the grass is denser 
than would be attractive to the Vesper sparrow and where few other birds 
are at home excepting the Bobolink and Meadowlark. In the fall it is 
found both in the marshes and the dry upland pastures and weed fields. 
It lies closer than most of our native sparrows, often rising from beneath 
one's feet with a whirring noise suggestive almost of a diminutive Bob- 
white, and, darting rapidly away in wide sweeping undulations, pitches 
headlong again into the marsh or the dense weeds some distance from 
the observer. 

The song of this species is an insignificant note and has often been 
taken for that of the Grasshopper sparrow by the uninitiated. It can 
rarely be heard more than a few rods and consists of 3 or 4 " tsips " at 
the beginning, ending with a reedy trill something like " tsip-tsip-tsip-se- 
e-e-e, r-r-r " (Chapman), or " tsip-tsip-tsip-ts-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e, tsee-ee-ee-ee." 
Besides this song, which is heard from the first of April till late in June, 
sometimes as late as July, is the ordinary call note, somewhat suggestive 
of the Chipping sparrow, and a loud insistent chip, uttered when one 
approaches its nest or disturbs its coverts. 

The food of this species does not differ materially from that of 
the Vesper sparrow. It can be ranked as a wholly beneficial species, 
the immense niunbers which are found here during the fall migra- 
tions destroying many tons of weed seed during their stay of several 
weeks. 



29© NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

The nest of the Savannah sparrow is placed on the ground beneath 

a clump of sedge or among thick standing grass; composed of dry grasses 

and weed stalks, lined with finer blades of grass and a few hairs. The 

eggs are 4 or 5 in number, bluish white in ground color, thickly spotted 

and washed with reddish brown and purplish shell markings ; average size 

.70 by .50 inches. 

Ammodramus bairdi (Audubon) 

Baird Sparrow 

Emberiza bairdii Audubon. Birds Amer. 1844. 7^359- pl- 5°° 
Ammodramus bairdi A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 256. No. 545 
ammddramus, Gr., 3c[jLp.o^, sand, and Spa[i,stv, to run; bairdi, to Spencer F. Baird 

Description. Tail doubly emarginate; feathers sharply pointed; out- 
stretched feet reaching beyond the tail; tarsus longer than middle toe; 
the hind toe large, its claw as long as its digit and much curved. Head 
ocherous buff fading to whitish on the throat ; sides of crown heavily streaked 
with blackish, leaving a broad median stripe of buffy; heavy black rictal 
and submalar streaks; outer edges and tips of tail feathers white; under parts 
whitish; breast and sides tinged with buff and streaked with black. 

Length 5.2-5.8 inches; wing 2.65-3; tail 1.85-2. 12; exposed culmen .44; 
depth of bill .28; tarsus .82. 

Distribution. The Baird sparrow is an inhabitant of the Great Plains, 
breeding from southern Saskatchewan and southwestern Keewatin to 
central Montana, North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota; winters 
from central Texas to Sonora. A single specimen of this bird has been 
obtained in New York, where it is purely an accidental visitant. It was 
taken on Montauk point November 13, 1899, and Doctor D wight pro- 
nounces it "in the juvenal plumage, passing into the first winter " (see 
Helme, Auk, 17:296). 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 291 

Ammodramus savannarum australis Maynard 
Grasshopper Sparrow 

Plate 8t 

Ammodromus australis Maynard. Amer. Exch. and Mart. 1887. 3: 33' 
Eraberiza passerina DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 156, fig. 150 
Ammodramus savannarum australis A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 
igio. p. 256. No. 546 

savannarum, quasi-Latin from Sp., savanna, meadow; austrdlis, southern 

Description. Smaller than the Savannah sparrow. Upper parts 
variegated with black, rufous brown, bufif and ash, the ash appearing as 
edgings on the feathers and tending to form broad back stripes, the rufous 
brown most conspicuous as spots and streaks on the neck and back; 
a median crown streak of creamy buff; bend of the wing yellow; lesser wing 
coverts yellowish olive green; under parts btiffy, without spots, fading to 
whitish on the belly. Young birds: Somewhat spotted on the breast and 
sides with blackish. 

Length 5-5.4 inches; extent 8.5; wing 2.4-2.6; tail 1.8-2; bill .43; 
tarsus .7 5-. 8. 

Distribution. This species inhabits eastern North America from 

southern Wisconsin, Ontario and New Hampshire to Louisiana, Alabama 

and South Carolina; wintering from southern Illinois and North Carolina 

to Cuba and Yucatan. In New York it is a common summer resident 

in various localities of the Carolinian and lower AUeghanian life zones, 

its known distribution at the present time being shown by a map on page 

23, volume I of this work. It is rarely found in localities of greater 

elevation than 1000 feet, but is fairly common as a breeding species on 

Long Island, in the vicinity of New York City, in the Hudson valley, and 

through central and western New York, especially at Canandaigua, 

Phelps, Chili, West Barry, Maplewood, Lockport, Bushnell's Basin, 

Potter, Meridian and East Hamburg. In the southeastern part of the 

State its spring migration begins from the ist to the loth of May, 

sometimes as early as the 26th of April, and it disappears in the fall 

between the 5th and the 25th of October. These dates also agree very 

closely with the migrations at Rochester and Canandaigua recorded in my 

notebook. 

19 



292 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



Haunts and habits. The Grasshopper sparrow, or Yellow- winged 
sparrow as it is frequently called, inhabits meadows, clover fields and weed 
fields, usually on dryer ground than the Henslow sparrow or the Savannah 
sparrow, often seeming to prefer sandy, rolling plains and upland meadows. 
It is frequently seen seated on a mullein stalk, fence post, or any con- 
venient object, singing its insectlike song, which has been written " pit- 
tuck, zee-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e." This note resembles very much the performance 
of a meadow grasshopper, and is so high in pitch that it is inaudible to 
the ears of many persons unless the bird is singing within a distance of 




Grasshopper sparrow's nest and eggs 

2 or 3 rods. Mr Gerald Thayer writes the song " sit-tit, ts-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e- 
c-e-e." This, however, he does not regard as the true song of the bii-d, 
which sounds to him like a " long rambling twitter " uttered in a tone 
similar to that of the shorter note and about as loud, but lasts as much 
as lo or 12 seconds. This rolling twitter is uttered when the male and 
female are flying together over the meadows or seated near each other. 
Mr Fuertes compares the song to that of the Prairie horned lark when 
the latter is heard at a considerable distance. It is usually uttered toward 
evening, and in May can sometimes be heard in the dusk as late as half 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 293 

past eight o'clock when the last Robin is hushed. This sparrow has also 
several forms of weak " tsipps " or call notes. A common alarm note 
is usually written " tlick," almost a two-syllable exclamation. 

This bird is a terrestrial species, feeding on the ground as exclusively 
as the Savannah sparrow, fully as recluse in its habits as that species, 
except during the singing season when the male is constantly in evidence 
flying in circles about the field, or seated on some prominent weed stalk. 
When flushed it rises suddenly from beneath one's feet and darts hurriedly 
away to dive and hide among the grass. 

The nest is concealed in the dense meadow, loosely woven of dry 
grass and small weed stalks, lined with fibers, roots, fine grass and hair. 
The eggs are 4 or 5 in number, white in ground color, spotted and speckled 
with reddish brown; average size .73 by .54 inches. 

Passerherbulus henslowi henslowi (Audubon) 
Henslow Sparrow 

Plate 81 

Emberiza henslowii Audubon. Birds Amer. 1829. (folio) i. pi. 70 
Emberiza henslowi DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 157 
Passerherbulus henslowi henslowi A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 

p. 257. No. 547 

passerherbulus, evidently a diminutive from Lat., passer, sparrow, and herba, grass; 
h^nsloun, to Prof. J. S. Henslow of Cambridge, England 

Description. Upper parts streaked with chestnut, black and ashy 
white; wings and their coverts chiefly chestnut; head and neck buffy olive, 
sides of the crown black, leaving a huffy olive median line; postocular, rictnl 
and submalar streaks black; under parts white, the breast and sides tinged 
strongly with buff and distinctly streaked with black; tail feathers very 
narrow and sharply pointed. Young: Have no spots on the breast and 
the head nearly plain buff; the whole plumage more suffused with buffy. 

Length 4.75-5.25 inches; wing 2-2.2; tail 1.75-2.1.; exposed bill .41-58; 
depth of bill .20-.34; tarsus .66-.73; middle toe .53-.62. 

Distribution. This sparrow breeds in the eastern United States from 
central Minnesota, Ontario, New York and southern New Hampshire to 
Missouri and northern Virginia; winters in the Southern States, inhabiting 



294 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

the dry fields of broom sedge. In New York it is of local occurrence and 
is rather uncommon or rare in all portions of the State; yet there can be 
no doubt that it is more common than is generally believed. As it is true 
that none but the initiated seem to detect the presence of the Grasshopper 
sparrow, even in localities where it is fairly common, it is doubly true that 
few who are inexperienced distinguish the Henslow sparrow. It has been 
reported as breeding in Rockland county by Giraud; in Rockland county 
and on Long Island by DeKay; in the vicinity of New York by Lawrence; 
in Monroe county by David Bruce ; and in Albany and Rensselaer counties, 
1908, by the late E. Sejonour Woodruff. Specimens of the nest and eggs 
fully identified have been found near New York, May 10 (Chapman); 
Syracuse, June 30, 1887 (Morris M. Green) ; Stephentown, Rensselaer county, 
May I, 1890 (Hoag); Mount Dorr, Rockland county, May 23, 1897 (L. W. 
Brownell). Migration dates are scarce, but it has been reported from 
Binghamton, April 10, 1905, by Lilian Hyde; Potter Swamp, Yates county, 
August, 1909, by Otto McCreary; Ossining, October 5, 1910 (Fisher); 
Scarboro, November 3, 1897, Gerald Thayer; Shelter Island, November 20, 
1901 ( Worthington) . Beside these, I notice reports from Webster, N. H., 
April 17, 1874, and Boscawen, N. H., April 26, 1875 (Ruthven Dean), 
as well as Oysterville, Mass., November 6, 1874 (Brewster). The Novem- 
ber dates by Brewster and by Worthington seem to indicate that this 
species sometimes remains very late in the fall, or possibly through the 
winter after the manner of the Sharp-tailed sparrow. 

Haunts and habits. The Henslow sparrow is a southern species and 
rarely goes beyond the northern limits of the Carolinian zone, but is 
found in rather cold localities in New Hampshire, western Massachusetts 
and eastern New York, which are ordinarily considered within the AUe- 
ghanian area. On the wet, ill-drained hillsides, upland pastures, and 
neglected fields overgrown with spiraea, cinquefoil and various sedges, 
this bird will be detected by the practised ear. 

The call has two characteristic syllables which sometimes sound like 
the word " flee- sic," or as Gerald Thayer would write it " phit-zit," suggest- 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 295 

ing to his ear the call of the American pipit. The full song he describes 
as considerably longer than this and generally delivered from the top of 
a low bush. It has also a characteristic sharp, thin " sipp " which is 
its usual alarm note. Mr Jouy writes the common call " tee-wick " and 
says that the real song may fairly be represented by the syllables " sis- 
r-r-rit, srit-srity This song is often uttered while the bird takes a short 
flight upward and then drops again into the tangled weeds and grasses 
where it is impossible to follow it (N. O. C. Bui. 6: 57). In such surround- 
ings its nest is concealed upon the ground, constructed of grasses and lined 
with hair. The eggs are 4 or 5 in nvunber, dull white or greenish white, 
thickly speckled with pale reddish brown and lilac. 

Passerherbulus lecontei (Audubon) 
Leconte Sparrow 

Plate 81 

Emberiza leconteii Audubon. Birds Amer. 1844. 7:338. pi. 488 
Passerherbulus lecontei A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 258. 
No. 548 

lecdntei, to Dr John L. LeConte of Philadelphia 

Description. In general resembling the Henslow sparrow, but the 
crown stripe as well as superciliary and malar stripes light buff; sides of 
the crown nearly black; hind neck chestnut streaked with light gray, edge 
of the wing white; breast and sides buffy streaked with blackish but the 
streaks on the breast faint or wanting. Young: Have the whole plumage 
suffused with buff except the center of the abdomen. Bill much more 
slender than that of the Henslow sparrow. 

Length 4.5-5.5 inches; wing 1.94-2. 12; tail 1.82-2.06; exposed bill 
.34-. 42; depth of bill .2-. 23; tarsus .68-.75; middle toe .62. 

Distribution. The Leconte sparrow inhabits central North America 
from Great Slave lake, southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba to North 
Dakota and southern Minnesota; winters from Kansas to Texas, Florida 
and the coast of South Carolina. It is purely an accidental visitant in 
New York State, a single specimen having been taken at Ithaca, October 
II, 1897, by Louis Agassiz Fuertes (Auk, 15:189). 



296 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

This little mouselike sparrow might occasionally be found in New 
York if it were not so secretive in habits. When flushed, it proceeds with 
a. weak, rail-like flight for a few feet, or a few rods, over the tops of the 
sedges, and drops again into the grass, whence it is almost impossible to 
raise it a second time. It frequents a denser cover than the Nelson and 
Acadian sparrows and, consequently, is more difficult to procure. 

Passerherbulus caudacutus (Gmelin) 
Sharp-tailed Sparrow 

Plate 81 

Oriolus caudacutus Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1 788. i : 394 

Ammodramus caudacutus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 164, fig. 154 
Passerherbulus caudacutus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 258. 
No. 549 

caudacutus, Lat., cauda, tail, and acutus, sharp 

Description. Tail rounded; feathers sharp pointed; upper parts 
olivaceous tinged more or less, especially on the side of the neck, with 
grayish; the back and tertials streaked with white or buffy white; top of 
the head dark brown with a very indistinct grayish median stripe; super- 
ciliary and malar stripes rich buff, the latter broadening beneath the auricu- 
lars and bending upward behind them, but mostly separated from the 
superciliary stripe by a postocular blackish line; auriculars gray; abdomen 
white; breast and sides strongly tinged with biiff and distinctly streaked with 
blackish. 

Length 5.40-5.85 inches; extent 7.5; wing 2.24-2.36; exposed bill 
.46-.50; depth of bill .23; tail 1.9-2; tarsus .85. 

Distribution. This subspecies inhabits the salt marshes of the Atlantic 
coast from Massachusetts to Virginia; winters from New Jersey, and rarely 
from Massachusetts and New York, to Florida. It is common on the 
marshes of Staten Island and Long Island throughout the summer, arriving 
from April 18 to 29, sometimes as late as May 8, and the majority depart 
from the 17th of October to the 2d of November. A few remain each 
year throughout the winter on the salt marshes. This sparrow also ascends 
the Hudson river as far as Piermont and occasionally to Newburgh. 

Habits. " It runs about among the reeds and grasses with the 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 297 

celerity of a mouse, and is not apt to take wing unless closely pressed. 
In the breeding season it is usually associated with the Seaside sparrow 
on the salt marsh, but prefers the dryer parts and builds its nest in the 
tussocks on the bank of a ditch or in a drift left by the tide, rather than in 
the grassier sites chosen by its neighbor. From some bit of driftwood 
or a convenient stake its infrequent song may be heard morning and even- 
ing. It is short and gasping, and only less husky than the somewhat 
similar performance of the Seaside sparrow " (Doctor Dwight). 

Passerherbulus nelsoni nelsoni (Allen) 
Nelson Sparrow 

Plate 81 

Ammodromus caudacutus var. nelsoni Allen. Proc. Bost. Soc. N. H. 

1875. 17:293 
Passerherbulus nelsoni nelsoni A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 
p. 258. No. 549.1 

nelsoni, to E. W. Nelson, American ornithologist 

Description. Similar to the Sharp-tailed sparrow, but smaller and 
brighter; markings on the back sharper; the buff on throat, breast and 
sides deeper, and the chest only indistinctly streaked with dusky. 

Length 5.5 inches; wing 2.1-2.3; tail i. 8-2.1; exposed bill .41; depth 
of bill .21 ; tarsus .8; middle toe .62. 

Distribution. The Nelson sparrow breeds from Great Slave lake and 
central Alberta southward to Manitoba and northeastern South Dakota, 
and winters on the Atlantic and gulf coasts from North Carolina to Florida 
and Texas. During migration it is found from Maine to New York. In 
this State the Nelson sparrow is a transient visitant but chiefly, if not 
entirely, in the fall, not a single spring record being before me. It occurs 
every autumn between the 22d of September and the 27th of October 
along the shore of Lake Ontario, the central chain of lakes, and the Hudson 
valley; Doctor Fisher's dates of migration at the mouth of the Croton 
river being from September 25 to October 10. Ralph and Bagg reported 
it October 12 at Oneida lake; and David Bruce, September 22, in Monroe 
county; Eaton, October 7, Canandaigua; Embody, October 8 to 17, at 



298 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

'Hamilton; and Fuertes, September 26 to October i at Ithaca; Doctor Brais- 
lin, October 5, 1907, at Rockaway beach, Long Island. It is also interesting 
to note that the dates at Toronto lie between September 22 and October 
28 (Auk, 16:277), but there is also one spring date, June 10, 1895, from 
Toronto. 

This sparrow is found on the reedy margin of the lake or river, not 
usually in the very dense grass and reeds far from the shore, but in the 
shallow water where there is only a sparse growth of flags, reeds and rushes. 
It rises when disturbed with a sudden bound and darts away in a deeply 
undulating, swooping flight to the cover of the denser grasses. 

Passerherbulus nelsoni subvirgatus (Dwight) 
Acadian Sharp-tailed Sparrow 

Plate 81 

Ammodramus caudacutus subvirgatus Dwight. Auk July, 1 887. 

4: 233 
Passerherbulus nelsoni subvirgatus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 

ipio. p. 259. No. 549.1a 

siihvirgdtus, Lat., less, or slightly, striped 

Description. The size of caudacttttis but with smaller bill, distinctly 
dviller and more plainly colored than the two preceding species, the whitish 
streaks on the back being obsolete or at least not sharply contrasted. The 
bufif on the side of the head, breast and sides is paler, and the superciliary 
stripe and malar stripes show a more grayish tinge like the olivaceous 
of the upper parts. 

Wing 2.14-2.32 inches; tail 1.82-2.06; bill .41; depth of bill .21-.25; 
tarsus 1. 83-1. 87; middle toe .64-.66. 

Distribution. This subspecies of the Nelson sparrow inhabits the salt 
marshes of the Atlantic coast from southeastern Quebec, Prince Edward 
island and Cape Breton to Maine; and winters on the coast of South 
Carolina, Georgia and Florida. In this State it occurs as a migrant at 
the same time and in the same places with the Nelson sparrow. Its habits, 
so far as have been observed in this State, during migration time are 
exactly those of the Nelson sparrow, from which the amateur could not 
distinguish it without collecting the specimens in question. It has been 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 299 

recorded from Penn Yan, October 7, 1896 (Burtch, Auk, 14: 93); Ithaca, 
October i-io, 1897, October 10, 1899, September 26, 1900, October 8, 
1906, by L. A. Fxiertes; from Shelter Island, October 7, 1901 (Braislin 
" Birds of Long Island," page 83); the lower Hudson valley, September 
25 to October 10 (A. K. Fisher, Auk, 2: 306). 

Passerherbulus maritimus maritimus (Wilson) 
Seaside Sparrow 

Plate 81 

Fringilla maritima Wilson. Amer. Om. 1811. 4:68. pi. 34, fig. 2 
Ammodramus maritimus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 163, fig. 153 
Passerherbulus maritimus maritimus A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 
1910. p. 259. No. sso 

maritimus, Lat., maritime, of the seaside 

Description. Olive grayish, more tinged with olive brown on the 
back and faintly streaked with grayish; crown olive on the side, grayi.sh 
in the middle, producing three dimly defined broad stripes; a supraloral 
stripe of yellow passing to grayish white above the eye and giving way 
to a dim grayish olive stripe above the auriculars; auricular s and subrmdar 
streaks dusky; malar streak, throat and abdomen white, dimly tinged with 
buffy on the breast and sides (buffy absent in the breeding plumage); 
breast and sides indistinctly streaked with grayish; bend of the wing yellow. 
Length 6-6.5 inches; wing 2.5; tail 2.2; exposed culmen .52-. 58; depth 
of bill .29; tarsus .95. 

Distribution. This species inhabits the Atlantic seacoast from southern 
Massachusetts to Virginia, and winters from Virginia to Georgia. As a 
New York species it is confined to the salt and brackish marshes of Staten 
"Island, Long Island and the lower Hudson river, as far up as Piermont. It 
is abundant on the salt marshes as a summer resident, arriving from April 
20 to May 10, and departing from October 20 to 30. A few individuals 
remain through the winter with the Sharp-tailed sparrows and other species 
which frequent the tide-washed fiats. 

Haunts and habits. It is rarely seen far from the cover of the rank 
grasses which cover its chosen habitat. Its call note is a squeaky " cheep," 
and it has a chippering song of no great melody, uttered from the top of 



300 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

some reed or tall stalk just above the marsh. Its nest is concealed near 
the high water mark among the dense sedges, and is composed of coarse 
grasses and reed stalks. The eggs are 3 or 4 in number, white in ground 
color, spotted with purplish and brown; average size .80 by .64 inches. 

Chondestes grammacus grammacus (Say) 

Lark Sparrow 

Fringilla grammaca Say. In Long's Exped. 1823. 1:1,39 (note) 
Chondestes grammacus grammacus A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 

p. 260. No. 552 

chondestes, Or., meaning "grain-eating"; grammacus, evidently an incorrect form 
from gramma, line, intended to refer to the head stripes 

Description. A very sharply marked sparrow, a trifle larger than the 
Vesper sparrow. Crown of the head chestnut with a median stripe of buffy 
and superciliary stripes of bufify and white; auricular s chestnut; malar 
stripes buffy white like the superciliary ; a black stripe through the eye; short, 
sharp, black rictal stripe leading back to the chestnut auriculars, and long 
black submalar stripes on each side of the white throat ; under parts whitish ; 
a black spot in the center of the breast; upper parts grayish brown striped on 
the back with blackish ; wings with two buffy white bars and a spot of the 
same at the base of the primaries ; central tail feathers similar to the back; 
all the others black conspicuously tipped with white and the outer pair with 
the outer web white for nearly its entire length. 

Length 6-6.75 inches; wing 3.5; tail 2.82; bill .45; tarsus .75. 

Distribution. This species inhabits the Mississippi valley east of the 
Great Plains from eastern Nebraska, northwestern Minnesota, central 
Wisconsin and Ohio to Louisiana and central Alabama; accidental in the 
Atlantic States during migration. In New York this species has been 
taken at least four times on Long Island, as follows: Sayville, August 20, 
1879 (Eari, N. O. C. Bui. 6:58); Millers Place, November 27, 1899 (Helme, 
Auk, 17:296); Millers Place, November 1900 (Braislin, "Birds of Long 
Island," page 83); eastern Long Island, July 28, 1902 (Worthington, Auk, 
19:403). It has also been reported from Oneida county, June 13, 1903 
(Johnson, Auk, 21:281); and during the summer of 191 1 Mr W. L. Dobbin 
found it breeding near his home in Monroe county. The birds were around 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 3OI 

for several weeks and he carefully identified them, though no specimens 
were taken. The nest and eggs were also discovered, and the young birds 
were successfully reared. This is the first record of its nesting in New York 
State, although I have expected every year to find that it had come into 
this region, as it already has appeared in northern and eastern Ohio and 
in western Pennsylvania, evidently extending its range gradually from 
the Mississippi valley, as the Prairie horned lark and Migrant shrike have 
done since the forests of western New York were cleared away. 

Haunts and habits. The Lark sparrow is a grassland bird, and may 
become established in New York, perhaps some day becoming one of our 
common sparrows. The nest is built on the ground, or near it in a thick 
bush, composed of grasses, rootlets and long hairs, very much like the nests 
of our other ground sparrows. The eggs are from 3 to 5, pinkish white 
in ground color, spotted and splashed with blackish brown; average size 
.80 by .60 inches. 

Zonotrichia leucophrys leucophrys (J. R. Forster) 
White-crowned Sparrow 

Plate 82 

Ember iza leuc o p hr y s Forster. Philos. Trans. 1772. 62:426 
Fringilla 1 e u c o p h r y s DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt. 2, p. 153, fig. 139 
Zonotrichia leucophrys leucophreys A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 

igio. p. 261. No. 554 

zonotrichia, Gr., I^wvt), band, and tpiX'"?, hairy one, alluding to the banded stripes 
on the head; leuc6phry:>, Gr., white eyebrow 

Description. Crown with a broad central stripe of white bordered by 
2 deep black stripes reaching from the base of the bill to the occiput; side 
of the head with a stripe of white beginning just above the eye and reaching 
backward, joining the central crown stripe on the occiput; black stripe passing 
through the eye and below the white stripe just mentioned back to the side 
of the neck. Thus from the eye over the crown there are 4 stripes of black 
and 3 of white, making the head of this bird more conspicuously black 
and white striped than that of any other native species. Side of the head 
and neck ashy gray; throat lighter, almost white; the breast light gray fading 
on the abdomen to white; flanks buffy brown; under tail coverts buffy; 
back gray streaked with chestnut-brown and grayish white; rump and upper 



302 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

tail coverts light hair brown; tail a darker hair brown; wings with 2 white 
bars formed by the tips of the coverts; the secondaries streaked with 
chestnut and whitish; bill and feet pinkish brown. Young, in the fall much 
more ocherous in color, the crown light chestnut rufous on the sides with 
a median stripe of ocherous, but not strongly contrasted with the chestnut 
rufous ; the line backward from the eye more grayish in color but not white 
as in the adult; bill and legs, however, a brown, almost as pinkish as in 
the adult. 

Length 6.75-7.5 inches; extent 9.85-10.3; wing 3-3.3; tail 2.8-3.1; 
exposed culmen .42; tarsus .95. 

Distribution. This subspecies of the White-crowned sparrow breeds 
from central Keewatin and northern Ungava to southeastern Keewatin, 
central Quebec and southern Greenland, and in the mountains to southern 
Oregon and central California, Wyoming and New Mexico; winters from 
southern Kansas, the Ohio valley and the Potomac valley to Mississippi 
and the Mexican plateau. 

In New York this bird has been reported as breeding on 2 or 3 occasions 
in the northern part of the State but, as no breeding specimens have ever 
been taken and as the nest and eggs have not been positively identified by 
comparison with unquestioned specimens of the species, I am inclined 
to think that these records are based on errors. No one has been able 
to find the White-crowned sparrow nesting in any portion of the Adiron- 
dacks or of the surrounding country in recent years. It is, however, a 
common transient in nearly all portions of the State, arriving from the 
south, in the warmer districts, from the 23d to the 30th of April; in other 
parts of the State from the ist to the 12th of May, and passes northward 
from the i8th to the 25th or even the 30th of May. In the fall the first 
arrivals are recorded between the 25th of September and the 12th of 
October, the species passing on to the south usually between the loth and 
the 24th of October, although specimens are sometimes observed in the 
southern part of the State as late as the 17th of November; and one or 
two winter records of birds seen have been reported. 

Haunts and habits. This is one of our neatest and most elegant 
sparrows, usually found in more open places than the White-throat, espe- 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 3O3 

daily along old fences, hedgerows, stone piles and weed fields, retreating 
to a cover of sparse shrubbery when disturbed. It is even less wild and 
suspicious by nature than the White-throat and will frequently allow one 
to approach within a few feet without the slightest concern. Bird students 
have frequently reported to me that they have seen a White-crowned 
sparrow when it was only a white-throat, but one who has really seen a 
White-crowned sparrow can never be in doubt for a moment, its prevailing 
gray coloration on the upper parts being in decided contrast to the more 
rufous and rusty hue of the White-throat's back. This species also has 
much more white about the striping of the crown and no yellowish in front 
of the eye. 

The song of the White-crown is one of the finest of our sparrow 
melodies, resembling somewhat the latter portion of the White-throat's 
performance, but repeated several times. It has a peculiarly pleasing, 
pathetic quality, a clear soft whistle, " a peculiar sad cadence," among 
its near relatives ranking next to the Fox sparrow's in my estimation. 

Zonotrichia leucophrys gambeli (Nuttall) 

Gambel Sparrow 

Fringilla gambelii Nuttall. Manual Om. Ed. 2. 1840. 1:556 
Zonotrichia leucophrys gambel A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 
p. 262. No. 554a 

gambeli, to William Gambel of Philadelphia 

Description. Almost exactly like the White-crowned sparrow, but the lores entirely 
whitish, the white superciliary stripe continuing forward to the bill; bill yellowish; size very 
slightly less than the White-crowned sparrow. 

Distribution. The Gambel sparrow breeds from Montana and eastern Oregon north- 
ward to Alaska and Anderson river, passing the winter in Mexico and Lower California. 
This western species has been taken once in New York State, at Ithaca, April 30, 1898, 
a male in full plumage, by Louis A. Fuertes. The specimen is perfectly typical of the 
subspecies gambeli and may be regarded either as a straggler from the western states 
or as an aberrant form or mutant of leucophrys. In any case, its occurrence here is 
purely accidental. 



304 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Zonotrichia albicoliis (Gmelin) 
White-throated Sparrow 

Plate 82 

Fringilla albicoliis Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1789. 1:921 

Fringilla pennsylvanica DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 152, fig. 141 
Zonotrichia albicoliis A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 262. No. 558 

albicdllis, Lat., white-throated 

Description. Adult: Slightly smaller than the White-crowned sparrow; 
sides of the head and neck and upper breast ashy gray; chin and throat white, 
edged on the sides by narrow black streaks, and sometimes along the lower 
margin next the ashy gray of the breast; crown with alternate stripes of 
blackish and white, the central stripe being a narrow white one with 2 
broad black ones on either side; white stripe also from above the eye passing 
to the side of the neck and a black stripe passing backward from the eye, 
making altogether 4 black stripes and j white ones on the upper part of the 
head; a yellow stripe from the nostril to just above the eye; upper parts streaked 
with rufous, ocherous and blackish; wings with 2 whitish bars formed 
by the tips of the coverts; lower back, rump and upper tail coverts plain 
grayish brown; tail similar in color but slightly darker; sides and flanks 
grayish brown; lower breast and abdomen white. Immature of both sexes 
in the fall or during the second year show the same pattern of coloration, 
but the black and white stripes of the head are almost obsolete, the yellow in 
front of the eye scarcely distinguishable at a distance of 10 feet, and the 
throat almost the color of the dingy ashy gray breast; otherwise like the 
adult. Young in the first plumage: The forebreast streaked with dusky 
and the general color of the lower parts more buffy. Females are usually 
duller than the males of the same age. 

Length 6.6-6.8 inches; extent 9.5-10; wing 2.9; tail 2.86; exposed bill 
.44; tarsus .9. 

Distribution. The breeding range of the White-throat extends from 
northern Mackenzie, central Keewatin and southern Ungava to Alberta, 
southern Montana, central Minnesota, southern Ontario and the mountains 
of Pennsylvania and New York. It winters from the Ohio valley and 
Connecticut, south to Florida and northeastern Mexico. 

In New York it nests in the Canadian zone of the Catskills and Adi- 
rondacks, and is one of the commonest birds breeding in our north woods. 
A few also breed in the higher forests along the Pennsylvania border of 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 305 

southwestern New York. During the month of June 191 1, Mr C. F. Stone 
heard a White-throat in full song and found the nest and eggs, in Potter 
swamp, Yates county, N. Y. It has also been found breeding two or three 
times in the vicinity of Peterboro (Gerrett S. Miller), and in Oswego 
county, and in the woods near Cooperstown, Otsego lake, but it is more 
boreal in distribution as a breeding species throughout central and western 
New York than the Junco or even than the Winter wren. In the southern 
part of New York a few white-throats pass the winter, but it is mainly 
a migratory species in the southern and central portions of the State, 
arriving from the south from the 2d to the i6th of April, sometimes not 
appearing before the 24th or 30th in the more northerly counties. Through- 
out western New York the species has passed on to its stunmer home, 
usually from the 14th to the 22d of May. Occasionally, however, migrants 
are noticed as late as the 30th of May or the 2d of June. In the fall the 
migration begins from the 2d to the 20th of September, sometimes not 
before the 30th in the southern counties. The greater number have passed 
farther south between the i6th and 30th of October, though a few are 
still noted through November and as late as December 8th. As mentioned 
above, a few in the southeastern part of the State remain throughout the 
winter and a very few are winter residents in western New York. 

Haunts and habits. During the migration season the White-throat 
is seen familiarly about our gardens and lawns, shrubbery and hedgerows, 
appearing in pairs or scattered companies usually of from 10 to 30 indi- 
viduals hopping about on the ground and scratching the dead leaves in 
search of seeds and insects, but spending a portion of its time in the shrubbery 
and trees. The alarm note is a sharp " chip," and a call of less concern is 
like the sst of the Song sparrow. Its song is heard during the migration 
season, at least after it has been with us for a few days, especially in the 
morning and late in the afternoon and on rainy days. It consists of 2 
high, clear, whistled notes succeeded by a triple trill usually fading away 
and dropping at the last. In New England it has been likened to the 
words " Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody," or " Sow wheat, Peeverly, 



306 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Peeverly, Peeverly "; but farther north he is supposed to say, "Oh, sweet, 
Canada, Canada, Canada." The song is rather plaintive and delivered in a 
minor key, but is one of the sweetest songs among the sparrows especially 
when heard along the northern trout streams or in the cool spruce forests 
or in the moonlight night from near one's camp in the deep woods. 

The White-throat breeds not only in the clearings, but more or less 
throughout the coniferous forest of the Adirondacks, especially near the 
streams and borders of swamps, or wherever the wind or fire has made 
small openings in the woods. The nest will be found on the ground or 
near it in a thick bush, composed of coarse grasses and rootlets, mosses 
and strips of bark, lined with finer materials. The eggs are 4 or 5 in niunber. 
bluish white speckled and blotched with pale reddish brown and obscure 
shell markings. They average .83 by .60 inches in dimensions. Judging 
from the fact that I found nests with fresh eggs as late as the 20th of July, 
I am inclined to think that two broods are usually reared in the Adirondack 
district. The first sets of eggs are found late in May or during the first 
half of June. 

Spizella monticola monticola (Gmelin) 
Tree Sparrow 

Plate 80 

Fringilla monticola Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1789. 1:912 
Emberiza canadensis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 160, fig. 164 
Spizella monticola monticola A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 263. 
No. 559 
spizella, Lat., diminutive, from Gr., a-ti^a, finch; monticola, Lat., mountain inhabitant 

Description. Crown chestnut rufous; a rufous stripe backward from 
the eye, and a spot of the same on either side of the breast near the bend 
of the wing; superciliary stripe and the greater portion of the sides of the 
head and the neck gray; back striped with rusty brown, blackish and buffy 
whitish; scapulars and inner wing feathers similar to bacTc; 2 conspicuous 
white wing bars; lower back and tail coverts plain grayish brown ; tail dusky 
grayish, the feathers edged with grayish white; under part dingy whitish 
tinged with grayish brown on the sides; a blackish spot on the center of the 
breast; bill yellowish at the base of the lower mandible, dusky at the tip. 

Length 6.36 inches; extent 9.5; wing 3; tail 2.82; bill .41; tarsus .8. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 307 

Distribution. The Tree sparrow is a common winter resident in this 
State. It makes its appearance in the fall between the 20th of September 
and the loth of October, and passes northward again in the spring between 
the loth and the 25th of April, occasionally being seen as late as the first 
week in May. Its breeding range extends from Great Bear lake and 
northern Ungava to Great Slave lake, northern Quebec and Newfound- 
land. It winters from southern Minnesota, Ontario and Nova Scotia 
to Arkansas and South Carolina. 

Haunts and habits. This sparrow is one of our commonest winter 
birds. It is found along the edges of woodlands and hedgerows, and is 
especially fond of swamps and the borders of rivers and ponds, frequenting 
the shrubbery for protection and making excursions into the near-by fields 
to feed on the weed seeds, of which it destroys immense numbers during 
the course of the winter months. It is rarely seen feeding on the seeds 
of birches or other trees which retain their fruit in winter, but almost 
always near the ground in patches of smartweed, ragweed, pigeon grass, 
amaranth and goosefoot. They are slightly gregarious in habits, little 
scattered companies of 20 to 30 members usually associating more or less 
with juncos, Song sparrows and goldfinches in their feeding. 

While at work among the weeds they keep up a continual tinkling 
of notes which have been compared to the syllables " teel-wit," but sound 
to my ear merely like the jingling of tiny bells. In March and April, 
however, the Tree sparrow gives his contribution to the spring chorus, 
a beautiful strain of long drawn notes which has been compared by many 
writers to the song of a Canary, beginning loud and clear, far sweeter than 
the quality of the Canary's voice, and ending in a loud, inspiring trill. 
Besides the tinkling call notes, this species also has a feeble " tsip " of 
alarm when disturbed. 

The flight of the Tree sparrow is less jerky and dodging than that of 

the Song sparrow and more easily sustained. He is rather spritely in 

movements and more given to seeking exposed perches than either the Song 

sparrow or the Junco, and is frequently seen, after being driven from his 
20 



308 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

coverts, perching on a tree or cat-tail flirting his tail and erecting the crown 
feathers so that he appears to have a well -developed crest. Even when 
associated with the Chipping sparrow or the Field sparrow, which he 
resembles in general coloration, he should easily be distinguished by greater 
size and the single spot in the center of his breast. 

Spizella passerina passerina (Bechstein) 
Chipping Sparrow 

Plate 83 

Fringilla passerina Bechstein. In Latham. Allg. Ueb. Vogel. 1 798. 3 : 544. 

pi. 120, fig. I 
Emberiza socialis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 159, fig. 160 
Spizella passerina passerina A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. iqio. p. 263. 

No. 560 

passerina, Lat., of a sparrow, or like a sparrow 

Description, Small, slender, tail slightly forked; bill rather slender 
for a sparrow. Crown deep rufous chestnut or copper colored, blackening 
near the bill; superciliary line whitish; narrow black line through the eye; 
bill black; sides of the head and neck mostly gray; back and scapulars 
striped with rusty brown, blackish and grayish brown; rump and tail coverts 
ashy gray; primaries and tail feathers dusky grayish; entire under parts 
grayish white. Young: Lack the rufous crown and streaked with dusky 
on the breast. 

Length 5.36 inches; extent 8.75; wing 2.75; tail 2.3; bill .36; tarsus .64. 

Distribution. This species is a common summer resident of New York 
State, except the densely forested regions, usually arriving from the 27th of 
March to the 12th of April, but has occasionally been noted as early as the 
17th of February in the southern counties. In the fall it disappears 
between the 15th of October and the loth of November, sometimes as late 
as the 30th. The breeding range of this subspecies extends from central 
Saskatchewan, southwestern Keewatin, central Quebec and Cape Breton to 
central Texas, Mississippi and central Georgia; winters in the southern 
states. 

Haunts and habits. None of our native sparrows except the Song 
sparrow is more familiar than the Chippy, which is found everywhere in 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 309 

New York about the farmyard, the garden, the orchard and in the groves 
and parks, but more particularly near the habitations of men, frequently 
placing its nest on the ampelopsis or honeysuckle which climbs on the 
porch, and in the shrubbery or young evergreens on the lawn or in the 
garden. It feeds both on the ground and among the trees and foliage, 
in the fall and spring mostly on the ground, subsisting on the weed and grass 
seeds which are scattered about, and during the summer taking its food 
largely from the insects of the garden, apple and shade trees. Green 
caterpillars and beetles are the favorite food for its young. I have counted 
as many as 70 green caterpillars brought by a Chipping sparrow in an hour 
and a quarter to feed 4 young that were being reared in a grape vine which 
screened our porch. 

Two broods are usually hatched in a season. The first sets of eggs 
will be found between the 2d and the 20th of May in the warmer portions 
of the State, and eggs for the second brood may be found from the 20th 
of June to the 30th of July. The nest is composed mostly of rootlets 
with a few grass stalks, and lined with horse hair, which has given this 
sparrow in many parts of the country the name of Hair bird. The eggs 
are 4 or 5 in number, a beautiful greenish blue, almost always wreathed 
near the larger end with blackish and reddish brown blotches and pen 
lines. They average .72 by .51 inches in dimensions. 

The song of the Chipping sparrow is a thin, monotonous trill like the 
syllables " chip, chip, chip, chip, chip,'' often uttered incessantly or with 
little intermission for hours during the day. It can not be called an agree- 
able song. Besides this, it has a call note, a slight " tsipy The song, to 
my ear, is more harsh and insectlike than the trill of the Savannah sparrow, 
which is comparatively musical, and much higher and thinner in quality 
than the trill of the Junco. 



3IO NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Spizella pusilla pusilla (Wilson) 
Field Sparrow 

Plate 83 

Fringi-lla pusilla Wilson. Amer. Om. 1810. 2:121. pi. 16, fig. 2 
Emberiza pusilla DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 158, fig. 152 
Spizella pusilla pusilla A. O. "U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 265. 
No. 56.3 

pusilla, Lat., very small 

Description. About the size of the Chippy, but with longer tail; 
crown chestnut rufous, also a postocular stripe and spot on the side of the 
breast near the bend of the wing of the same color; the back similar to 
the Chipping sparrow, but more extensively rufous; rump and upper tail 
coverts less gray but more hair brown in color; wing bars rather incon- 
spicuous; under parts dingy whitish, tinged somewhat on the breast and 
sides with grayish bufif ; bill and legs pinkish brown. Young in first plumage 
-duller colored and streaked on the breast with darker. 

■ Length 5.68 inches; extent 8.15; wing 2.5; tail 2.55; bill .36; tarsus .74. 

Distribution. The Field sparrow is a common summer resident of 
the greater portion of New York State, though absent from the higher 
portions of the Catskills and the Adirondack forest, and decidedly less 
common than the Chippy in the northern districts. The spring migration 
begins between the 20th of March and the 6th of April. In the fall the 
greater portion disappear between October 15th and November loth, 
but in the southern part of the State, especially on Long Island and in the 
vicinity of New York City, a few pass the winter. The breeding range 
of this subspecies extends from southern Minnesota, southern Quebec and 
southern Maine to Texas, Louisiana and northern Florida. The principal 
winter range is from Missouri and New Jersey to the gulf coast. 

Haunts and habits. The haunts of the Field sparrow are bushy 
Tiillsides and berry patches, edges of woodlands with a considerable under- 
growth, hedgerows and neglected gardens. Wherever the Indigo bird 
and Chewink find a convenient home, here the Field sparrow will be 
plentiful. It feeds mostly upon the ground and among the low shrubbery, 
like the Chipping sparrow, in the fall, winter and spring subsisting almost 






BIRDS OF NEW YORK 3II 

entirely on weed seeds, and during the summer largely on smooth cater- 
pillars, young grasshoppers, beetles and other insects. 

The call note of the Field sparrow is a gentle " tsip." His song is 
a beautiful performance delivered in a minor key, but almost endlessly 
varied by different individuals. It usually begins with two or three clear,^ 
high-pitched notes, followed by a rapid run of numerous shorter notes, 
often in a descending scale, but sometimes in a rising trill and ending in 
a clear sustained note. Occasionally the song seems inverted, beginning 
with a run and ending with the high, long tones; and frequently the per- 
formance is immediately repeated with slight variation of its original 
form, or in a wholly different key. What the Vesper sparrow is to the 
wide grassy fields, the Field sparrow is to the brushy hillside, pouring forth 
his pensive strain both in the morning and at the close of day, and inspiring 
the passerby to gentler and more humanizing reflections. 

The nesting season begins early in May, the first sets of eggs being 
found between the 14th and 25th of May; later sets from the 21st of June 
to the 2 1st of July. The nest is usually placed on the ground or in a thick 
bush not far above it; composed of coarse grass stalks, weeds and rootlets, 
and lined with fine grasses and hair. The eggs are 3 to 5 in niunber, grayish 
white or bluish white in ground color, speckled and spotted with reddish 
brown and obscure shell markings thickest near the larger end of the egg. 
Average size .7 by .52 inches. 

Junco hyemalis by emails (Linnaeus) 
Slate-colored Junco 

Plate 82 

Fringilla hyemalis Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:183 
Struthus hyemalis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 147, fig. 138 
Junco hyemalis hyemalis A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 266, 

%■ 567 

jutico, derivation uncertain, Coues says, from Lat., juncus, a reed; hyemdlis, Lat.,of 
winter 

Description. Upper parts, and the head, neck and breast, slaty gray; 
under parts from the middle of the breast to the under tail coverts white, 



312 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

the slaty gray of the upper breast giving way abruptly to the pure white 
of the lower breast and abdomen ; 3 outer tail feathers largely white, showing 
conspicuously in flight; bill pinkish white. Fall birds, especially young 
and females, more or less tinged with brownish. Females: Similar to 
males but lighter slate gray and more dingy or brownish. 

Length 6.2-6.4 inches; extent 9.8; wing 3-3.25; tail 2.7-2.9; bill .41; 
tarsus .82. 

Distribution. This subspecies of the Junco breeds from northwestern 
Alaska, northern Mackenzie and central Ungava to southern Yukon, 
central Alberta, northern Minnesota, Ontario and the mountains of New 
York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Winters throughout the eastern 
states from Ontario to the gulf coast. In New York this is a very abundant 
species, one of the commonest birds nesting throughout the Catskill and 
Adirondack districts, and also fairly common as a breeding species in the 
highlands of western New York which lie above the 1200 foot line. A 
few pairs are also found in many of the colder swamps and guUeys of 
central and western New York as summer residents. In the warmer 
portions of the State it is a very abundant migrant in April and October, 
and a common or fairly common winter resident. Throughout the low- 
lands of western and central New York and the Hudson valley the Junco 
passes northward from the 22d of April to the 5th of May. I have seen 
a few dull-colored migrants as late as the 12th and the 23d of May in the 
vicinity of Rochester, Geneva and Canandaigua. In the fall, migrants 
begin to appear from the nth to the 28th of September, in the southern- 
most parts of the State sometimes not before the 4th to the 12th of October. 
Among the members of the sparrow family, this species rivals the Song 
sparrow. Vesper sparrow. Savannah sparrow and Chipping sparrow for 
the place of greatest abundance during the spring and fall migration, 
probably being as abundant as the Song sparrow in most localities; while 
along the principal highways of migration to the North Woods, it is the 
most abundant member of the family. 

Haunts and habits. The Slate-colored junco or common snowbird, 
as it is frequently called, is very gentle and unsuspicious in habits, coming 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 3I3 

familiarly into the garden and dooryard to feed on waste crumbs, weed 
seeds and whatever insects it can pick up among the grass and shrubbery. 
They nearly always travel in scattered companies, sometimes as many as 
40 or 50 birds being seen on the lawn at the same time, and though not 
strictly gregarious the little company keeps together. When one is dis- 
turbed it flies off with a smack of alarm which, together with its flashing 
white tail feathers, act as signals to warn and direct the brotherhood. 

When quarreling, especially when fighting on the wing, they utter a 
curious mellow note sounding like the whistled syllables pu-pu-pu.. While 
feeding, the members of the company keep up a merry twittering note. 
The flight is rather jerky, although they do not piimp their tails so decidedly 
as the Song sparrow in flight, but at nearly every wing stroke the white 
tail feathers flash, making an easy recognition mark for the species. 

These little sparrows do an immense amount of good by destroying 
countless weed seeds during the fall, winter and spring months, and also 
by feeding on many dormant insects which might do harm in the summer. 

For a summer home the Junco prefers damp woodland. The north 
woods of spruce and balsam, with moist moss on the ground, are most to 
his liking. Whatever pairs I have found nesting in western New York 
have been in damp gulleys, swamps and cool shaded hillsides. The nest 
has usually been placed on a mossy bank or among overhanging ferns and 
other woodland plants. The materials of the nest are stalks of grass, bits 
of bark, rootlets, mosses, and a lining of finer grass, leaves, bits of moss 
and long hair. The eggs are 4 or 5 in number, of a white or pinkish white 
ground color, more or less speckled and blotched with rufous brown and 
obscure lilac shell markings, tending to form a wreath near the larger end 
of the egg, rather broadly ovate in shape, and measuring about .76 by .60 
inches in dimensions. 

Besides its various call notes and notes of alarm, the Junco has at 
least two distinct songs, one a simple trill which is to be compared to the 
song of the Chipping sparrow, though carrying much farther and, to my 
ear, more melodious in quality. The other song is described by Bicknell 



314 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

as a whispering warble usually much broken but not without sweetness 
and sometimes continviing intermittently for many minutes. This is 
evidently the song described by Florence Merriam as " low, sweet and as 
unpretentious and cheery as the friendly bird himself." 

Junco hyemalis carolinensis Brewster 

Carolina Junco 

Junco hyemalis carolinensis Brewster. Auk. Jan. 1886. 3:108 

A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 267. 
No. 567e 

Description. Very similar to the Slate-colored junco, but the slaty gray more uniform, 
slightly lighter, the head not decidedly darker than the rest of the plumage; the bill light bluish 
hom-colored instead of pinkish white as in the common Junco. The dimensions of this 
subspecies very slightly exceed the average of the common Junco, especially the length 
of the bill, but the difference is not sufficient to decide the identity of any individual 
specimen. 

Distribution. This svibspecies of the Junco breeds in the higher Alleghanies " from 
Maryland to northern Georgia." According to the range published by the A. O. U., 
third edition, the winter range is in the adjacent lowlands. It is evident that New York 
State lies outside the supposed range of this subspecies and many members of the American 
Ornithologist Union who believe in the validity of the form would not credit the occur- 
rence of this subspecies within the limits of New York State; but Dr Jonathan Dwight, jr, 
who has made a special study of juncos, after examining a long series of skins taken on 
Long Island and in other portions of central and southeastern New York, states that " if 
there is any Junco hyemalis carolinensis, many individuals in this New 
York series must be assigned to that subspecies." On authority of this statement I 
have included this subspecies as occurring in New York State, and it is evident that 
luiless the identity of the subspecies is to be decided entirely by the locality where it was 
taken, rather than from its evident characteristics, this subspecies must be admitted as 
occurring in New York. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 3I5 

Melospiza melodia melodia (Wilson) 
Song Sparrow 

Plate 84 

Fringilla melodia Wilson. Amer. Om. 1810. 2:125. pi. 1 6, fig. 4 

DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 150, fig. 156 
Melospiza melodia melodia A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 272. 
No. 581 
melospiza, Gr., [aIXo?, song, and <:%iX,a, a finch; melddia, sweet-singing 

Description. Prevailing color of the upper parts brown streaked on the 
back with blackish and more or less edged with gray ; a grayish stripe through 
the middle of the crown; tail rather long and rounded, plain brown; under 
parts white, spotted and streaked on the breast and side with blackish, these 
streaks more or less bordered with brown, the spots on the center of the 
breast confluent into a large blotch of blackish ; also on the sides of the throat 
tending to form conspicuous submalar streaks or triangular spot. Throat 
very slightly spotted; abdomen plain white; bill brownish. 

Length 6-6.8 inches; extent 8.5-8.9; wing 2.5-2.8; tail 2.6-2.7; bill 
.49; tarsus .82. 

Distribution. Of all the numerous subspecies of Song sparrow, this 
is the only one found in the eastern United States. It breeds from southern 
Mackenzie, central Keewatin, central Quebec and Cape Breton to Nebraska, 
Kentucky and North Carolina, and winters from Illinois and Massachusetts 
to the gulf coast. In New York State this species is an abundant svunmer 
resident and in all the warmer portions of the State remains throughout 
the winter in considerable numbers, in the lower Hudson valley and the 
country about New York City being a common winter species. In central 
and western New York it is a resident, but in the wintertime confined 
mostly to the shelter of swamps and marshes, and is seldom seen unless 
one visits those localities. Throughout the greater portion of the State 
they begin to appear from the loth to the 28th of February in the warmer 
localities, these birds being undoubtedly some that have wintered in the 
swamps of the immediate vicinity. Migratory birds in western New York 
appear from the ist to the 15th of March. By the 20th to the 30th of 
March they become abundant in nearly all localities. In the fall the 



3l6 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

greater number of individuals disappear between the loth and 20th of 
November, a considerable number sometimes remaining until the 5th of 
December. As a summer resident it is fairly common throughout the 
central portions of the Adirondack wilderness except in the depths of the 
forest. I suppose that this sparrow is the most generally distributed and 
most abundant of all the species of the family nesting in the State. 

Haunts and habits. The haunts of the Song sparrow are the gardens, 
hedgerows, bushy banks, brooksides, edges of groves, fence lines, but 
never, as far as my experience goes, in the depths of the forest nor in the 
midst of open fields. I have frequently found its nest in a meadow 3 or 
4 rods from the hedgerow, and also in small openings in the midst of the 
woods even if the clearing is only a few rods in diameter, but it does not 
care for the shady depths of the forest, and prefers always to live near dense 
shrubbery to which it may retreat in case of danger. They feed largely 
upon the ground throughout the fall, winter and spring, like most members 
of the family subsisting on weed seeds of various kinds, preferring most 
of all seeds of the pigeon grass, amaranth, ragweed and goosefoot. In this 
way it does immense good to the agriculturist. During the summer it 
feeds itself and its young largely upon young grasshoppers, smooth cater- 
pillars, beetles and May flies. At this season of the year it hunts its prey- 
sometimes 20 or 30 feet from the ground among the foliage of trees, but 
mostly among the low bushes and grass. The flight of the Song sparrow 
is more jerky than that of any of our other native species, its tail pumping 
continually as it flies for cover when disturbed in the field. Its call note 
is a simple chip of rather metallic quality. When its nest is approached 
the chip becomes more insistent and sharper. Its song is uttered during 
every month of the year. If one visits its haunts in January or February 
its cherry note may often be heard, especially on sunny mornings. This 
song is endless in its variation, but usually begins with two or three loud, 
■full notes, descending in a more or less confused chipper or trill, a song 
familiar to every child who has been in the country. The singer usually 
chooses a perch of low elevation, not during his work of hunting seeds 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 3I7 

and insects, but flies up to his low perch, usually 7 to 15 feet from the 
ground, utters his cherry song, then flies to the ground again to resume 
his occupation, for he seems never to be without something to do. He is 
rarely seen perched motionless preening himself, but usually busily hunt- 
ing about or flying from bush to bush and singing. 

The nest of the Song sparrow is placed upon the ground under a tussock 
of grass or on a sloping bank, composed of the stalks of grasses, rootlets, 
leaves and strips of bark, lined with finer grasses and long hairs. The 
eggs are usually 4 or 5 in number, bluish white or grayish white in ground 
color, rather profusely speckled and spotted with rufous brown or purplish 
brown and obscure lilac shell markings, sometimes uniformly over the 
whole surface, at other times tending to form a wreath near the larger 
end. They average about .80 by .60 inches in dimensions. The first 
sets of eggs are found in this State from the 25th of April to the 15th of 
May; eggs of the second brood are usually found about the 20th of June; 
while a third nesting is often observed in July and August, sometimes 
as late as the 25th of the latter month. The second and third nests are 
frequently built in thick bushes or tall tussocks of grass, sometimes in 
bushes as high as 6 or 8 feet, and Mr Ralph Paddock of Rochester has 
a photograph of a Song sparrow's nest in a hollow apple tree about 5 feet 
from the ground. This bird, however, is the common " ground bird " 
or " brown ground bird " of the school boy, and 99 per cent of their nests 
are placed upon the ground, but often so securely hidden that they would 
never be found if the old bird were not startled from the nest. The Cow- 
bird, however, finds them with perfect ease and often deposits her eggs 
in the Song sparrow's nest; but I know of no other native species which 
can afford so well to rear the young of this interloper as the Song sparrow, 
for it is one of our most abundant birds, and if its first brood fails on account 
of the parasitic intruder the mother will, nevertheless, raise one or more 
later broods of her own. 



3l8 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Melospiza lincolni lincolni (Audubon) 
Lincoln Sparrow 

Plate 84 

Fringilla lincolnii Audubon. Birds Amer. 1834. (folio) 2. pi. 193 
Emberiza lincolni DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 162 
Melospiza lincolni lincolni A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 276. 
No. 583 

lincolni, to Robert Lincoln, a friend of Audubon 

Description. Slightly smaller than the Song sparrow; tail especially, 
being slenderer and shorter. Upper parts olive brown to grayish brown, 
rather sharply streaked with blackish; a narrow grayish line through the 
center of the crown and broader superciliary lines of the same color; also 
gray tinged on the side of the neck ; wings and tail mostly plain hair brown ; 
throat and abdomen whitish, the former lightly streaked with blackish; 
a broad huffy band across the breast; sides and flanks buffy, the breast and 
sides rather sharply but narrowly streaked with black, but there is no tendency 
to form a central blotch of black on the breast, and the heavy submalar 
streaks of the Song sparrow wanting, but narrow rictal and postocular 
streaks of blackish are evident. 

Length 5.4-5.9 inches; wing 2.3-2.6; tail 2.3-3; bill .41; tarsus .78. 

Distribution. This species breeds in the boreal zone of North America 
from the Yukon valley, southern Mackenzie, central Keewatin and northern 
Ungava to northern Minnesota, central Ontario, northern New York and 
Nova Scotia, as well as in the Rocky and Sierra Nevada mountains; winters 
from California, Oklahoma and Mississippi to southern Mexico and 
Guatemala. In New York it is a stimmer resident of the Adirondack 
district and a transient visitant in other parts of the State, arriving from 
the 3d to the 9th of May and passing northward from the loth to the i6th 
of May. In the fall it appears from the 15th to the 30th of September 
and is last noticed from the 8th to the 27th of October, sometimes as late 
as November 27 (Braislin, page 84). 

Haunts and habits. In the Adirondacks I found this bird very diffi- 
cult to observe due to its shy, retiring habits. It was present, however, 
in the spruce and tamarack swamps of Essex county as well as in Hamilton 
and Herkimer counties. Where the swamp is open, with small spruces 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 319 

and a few tamaracks scattered about, the Lincoln sparrow is almost surely 
found, its nest on the ground near the foot of some spruce sapling, but it 
is rare indeed that we catch a fair glimpse of him as he lurks about the low 
cover of the swampland. According to Doctor Dwight, he has a very inter- 
esting song "which suggests the bubbling, guttural notes of the House wren 
combined with the sweet, rippling music of the Purple finch, and when 
you think the song is done there is an unexpected aftermath." The nest 
of this sparrow resembles closely that of the Song sparrow. The eggs are 
greenish white or buffy in ground color, rather thickly spotted with reddish 
brown and purplish shell markings. They average .78 by .60 inches. 
Fresh eggs are usually found from the loth to the 25th of June. 

During the migration season I have often found this sparrow among 
the sparse shrubbery on dry hillsides and along the courses of small streams 
as well as about the edges of gardens and lawns, but he is shy even during 
the migration season and as soon as approached retreats to the shelter 
of the shrubbery, but is much more easily observed than during the siammer 
in his chosen haunts of the North Woods. 

Melospiza georgiana (Latham) 
Swamp Sparrow 

Plate 84 

Fringilla georgiana Latham. Index Om. 1 790. i : 460 
Ammodramus palustris DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 165, fig. 161 

(pl. 71) 
Melospiza georgiana A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 276. No. 584 

georgiana, of Georgia 

Description. Slightly smaller than the Song sparrow and bill more 
slender. Adult in spring: Crown chestnut darkening to black on the fore- 
head; superciliary line, sides of the neck and the chest ashy; dusky postocular 
streak and short rictal streak of the same color; back streaked with black, 
buffy and chestnut; wings mostly chestnut; inner secondaries heavily marked 
with black; tail rufous brown or dull chestnut, at least the outer v/ebs of 
the feathers; central feather line dusky; the tail when closed appearing 
mostly rufous brown; throat and abdomen white; flanks ocherous; under 
parts not streaked; rump and under tail coverts hair brown to ocherous 



320 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



brown more or less streaked with blackish. Young birds and fall specimens: 
More tinged with brown and stained with yellowish. Young streaked 
on the breast and sides with dusky. 

Length 5.3-6 inches; wing 2.3-2.5; tail 2.4-2.7; bill .46; tarsus .86. 

Distribution. This sparrow breeds from Newfoundland, Labrador 
and Fort Simpson southward to the northern United States. In New York 

it is a summer resident of all portions 
of the State, arriving from March 25 
to April 12, a few days later in the 
northern counties; and the fall 
migration usually takes place from 
October 20 to November 15, but in 
all the southern counties a few 
individuals remain throughout the 
winter. I have noticed that it is a 
winter resident in Monroe county, 
Ontario county and in all the 
marshes of the lower Hudson val- 
ley and Long Island. 

Haunts and habits. The chosen 
haunts of the Swamp sparrow are 
the grass, sedge and flag-covered 
marshes of riversides and the 
flooded shores of ponds and lakes. 
It is common in the Montezuma 
marshes, about equaling the Song 
Photo by h. s. Horton sparTow in abundaucc, also about 

Swamp sparrow's nest and eggs _ ^ -r^. -,/-\, * * , ' r*i 

Lakes Ene and Ontano it is a fairly 
abundant species in the flooded portions of the swamps which are covered 
with a dense growth of sedges, rushes, flags and grasses. Even in the 
migration season the Swamp sparrow is rarely seen far from the edge of the 
marsh. As the draining of our swamps and marshes progresses, it is evident 
that the habitat of this species becomes more and more restricted and the 




BIRDS OF NEW YORK 321 

species must diminish in numbers. Its song is usually delivered from the 
top of a cat-tail or some low bush and resembles considerably the trill of 
the Chipping sparrow, but is not so thin and insectlike and is somewhat 
more melodious. It has also an ordinary chip similar to that of the Song 
sparrow. 

Its nest, which is placed on the ground at the edge of the marsh or 
in a bunch of flags or sedges, resembles very much the nest of the Song 
sparrow. The eggs are 4 or 5 in number, greenish white or light blue in 
ground color, rather closely spotted and blotched with brown, more heavily 
around the large end. Average dimensions .76 by .56 inches. Two broods 
are usually reared in a season. 

Passerella iliaca iliaca (Merrem) 
Fox Sparrow 

Plate 83 

Fringilla iliaca Merrem. i3eytr. besond. Gesch. Vogel. 1786. 2. pi. 10 

DeKay Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 149, fig. 166 
Passerella iliaca iliu,ca A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. igio. p. 277. \o. 

.=;8s 

passerella, diminuti\'c form of passer, sparrow; iliaca, prelinnean specific name of 
the Redwing, from Gr., tXta?, a thrush; perhaps from a superficial resemblance to a 

thrush 

Description. A large sparrow with a moderately heavy bill, nearly 
square tail, prevailing colors rufous and gray. The top of the head and 
neck and sides of the neck largely gray or brownish gray; the back brownish 
gray streaked with dark rufous; rump and tail deep rufus or rusty; tinder 
parts white, heavily spotted on the breast and sides with triangular spots and 
short streaks of blackish; numerous blotches of deep rufous also on the 
breast and side of the throat; auriculars largely rusty; heavy maxillary 
streaks of dusky rufous; bill yellowish, at least the base of the lower 
mandible, tip dusky; legs light brown; sexes alike. Young very similar to 
the adult. 

Length 6.75-7.5 inches; extent 10. 5-1 1.5; wing 3.4-3.7; tail 2.7-3.1; 
bill .5; tarsus .96. 

■ Distribution. The breeding range of the Fox sparrow extends from 
the Gulf of St Lawrence and Labrador to Alaska, being practically con- 



322 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

tinuous with the Hudsonian zone. It spends the winter in eastern United 
States from southern New York and Illinois to the gulf coast. In New 
York this species is a fairly common transient visitant in all portions of 
the State, arriving from the south late in March and passing on to its 
northern home from April 25 to May 12, the height of the spring migration 
usually occurring about the middle of April. In the fall it appears again 
late in September and the fall migration is mostly completed by the 25th 
of October. In the southern portion of the State, however, especially 
on Long Island, a considerable number of this species remain throughout 
the winter so that in those localities it is to be rated a fairly common winter 
visitant and common migrant. I fail to find any evidence that this species 
remains in the coldest portion of the Adirondacks to breed, although I 
believe that it has been found to breed in northeastern Maine. 

Haunts and habits. This sparrow is always regarded as an interesting 
species by the amateiu- bird student. Its large size and bright colors, 
for a sparrow, spritely habits and beautiful song, especially at the season 
when migrants are few, tend to make it a favorite with all nature lovers. 
It feeds mostly on the ground like the Junco and Song sparrow, usually 
keeping nearer the cover of shrubbery, however, than those species, fre- 
quently rustling and scratching the leaves with considerable vigor while 
searching for its food of seeds and insect larvae. Even as early as the 
third week in March his cheery song may be heard, particularly on cool, 
bright mornings, but sometimes throughout the day. It consists of a 
clear, loud, melodious whistle. This song is usually delivered while the 
bird is perched on the limb of a tree from 10 to 40 feet from the ground. 
Sometimes it remains quietly perched for half an hour singing at intervals 
of a few seconds throughout the morning. Mr Thayer has called attention 
to this sparrow's habit of singing in an undertone, sometimes for half 
an hour at a time, as if the bird were expressing day dreams of his summer 
home. 



liiKDS OF NEW YORK 323 

Pipilo erythrophthalmus erythrophthalmus (Linnaeus) 

Towhee 

Plate 84 

Fringilla erythrophthalma Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:180 
Pipilo erythrophthalmus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 172, fig. 162 
Pipilo erythrophthalmus erythrophthalmus A. O. U. Check List. 
Ed. 3. 1910. p. 279. No. 587 

pipilo, Lat., to chirp; erythrop'hthdlmus, Gr., meaning red-eyed 

Description. Wings short and rounded; tail long and rounded; head, 
neck, forebreast and upper parts black, sometimes, especially in winter, 
edged with rusty on the back; inner secondaries streaked with buffy white; 
white spot on the base of the primaries, also on the outer edges of the 
primary quills; j outer tail feathers conspicuously tipped or spotted with 
white, the outer web of the outer feather entirely white; lower breast and 
abdomen white becoming buffy on the under tail coverts; sides and flanks 
rufous; eyes red. Female: Grayish brown where the male is black and 
otherwise duller in coloration. 

Length 8.35 inches; wing 3.3; tail 3.7; bill .55; tarsus i.i. 

Distribution. The breeding range of this species extends from eastern 
Dakota, Michigan and southern Maine to the gulf coast. In New York 
it is quite generally distributed as a summer resident throughout the State, 
but does not enter the Canadian zone of the Adirondacks and Cats- 
kills except along the river valleys and settlements, and in the extreme 
northern counties is not common or generally distributed. In the south- 
eastern part of the State it is abundant and throughout western New York 
a common summer resident, in the country about New York arriving from 
April 15 to 25, and in western New York from the 15th to the 30th of April. 
In the fall it disappears between the 15th and 30th of October, a few indi- 
viduals remaining throughout the winter in the warmer counties in the 
vicinity of New York City. 

Haunts and habits. The haunts of the Towhee are in hedgerows, 

thickets, brushy hillsides and " slashings." It is a bird of the thicket 

more than any other member of the sparrow family. It feeds principally 

upon the ground, hopping about, scratching the leaves and bustling around 
21 



324 NEW YORK STATE MUSEtJM 

with considerable noise, but seems rather shy unless one approaches 
cautiously, when his curiosity overcomes his retiring disposition, and he 
hops onto some near-by stump or bush to inspect the intruder. He is 
very restless in disposition except when singing; then he chooses a fairly 
elevated perch on top of a small tree, or occasionally 50 to 60 feet from 
the ground, and gives himself up to his song, sometimes for an hour at 
a time. Ernest Thompson-Seton has written this song, " Chuck, burr, 
pill-a-will-a-willa-a," which is the best imitation yet invented. There is, 
however, considerable variation in the manner of its delivery, and on one 
occasion I mistook a very poor performer of this species for an abnormal 
Song sparrow. The call note or alarm note (I have never been able to 
determine any distinction between the two) sounds like the word " che- 
wink," often followed directly by the other call which has given him his 
other name, " tow-hee," uttered in a rather sharp, incisive manner. He 
usually flirts his tail as he vitters the note and is almost sure to be bobbing 
about among the bushes at the same time. 

The nest is placed on the ground or very near it, composed of dead 
leaves and grasses and strips of bark, usually lined with fine grass. 
The eggs are 4 or 5 in mmiber, white or grayish white, finely and evenly 
speckled with reddish brown, sometimes with heavier spots about the larger 
end. Average dimensions .97 by .71 inches. 

During the migration season the Chewink is frequently seen about 
the gardens, dooryards and thickets in all our cities and villages, where 
it is unknown at other seasons of the year. He is rather an attractive 
bird with his conspicuous and sharply marked color pattern. He is a bene- 
ficial species, very rarely taking enough berries from the gardener to be 
considered a nuisance. The greater portion of his food consists of seeds, 
wild fruits, and, in the summer time, a plentiful supply of insects. 



BIRDS OK NEW YORK 325 

Cardinalis cardinalis cardinalis (Linnaeus) 
Cardinal 

Plate 8s 

Loxia cardinalis Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. lo. 1758. 1:172 
Pitylus cardinalis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 171, fig. 143 
Cardinalis cardinalis cardinalis A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 
p. 282. No. 593 

cardinalis, of the color worn by a cardinal, red 

Description. About the size of a Robin; bill very heavy; head con- 
spicuously crested; tail long, slightly rounded; colors bright rosy red especially 
across the sides of the head and under part; the upper parts more or less 
washed with grayish; the inner webs of the wing feathers fuscous; throat 
and a narrow space all around the base of the bill black; bill reddish. 
Female: Crest, wings and tail dull reddish; upper parts brownish; tender 
parts buffy ocherous, lighter on the belly; breast slightly tinged with red; 
the space around the base of the bill grayish black. 

Length 8.25 inches; extent 11-12; wing 3.75; tail 4; bill .66; tarsus .95. 

Distribution. The Cardinal inhabits eastern United States from 
Iowa and southern New York to the gulf coast and is nonmigratory in 
habit. In this State it is commonest in the extreme southeastern counties 
west of the Hudson river, but not in Westchester county on the other 
side of the Hudson. It is a local resident also on Staten Island, and rare 
on the western end of Long Island, only one or two instances of its breeding 
there having come to my attention, one at Prospect Park, June 8, 1884 
(see Adney, Auk, 1:390), and another instance reported from Bellport by 
W. A. Babson. In Rockland county it is undoubtedly commoner than 
in any other portion of the State. Its occurrence in the coastal district 
has been reported not only from the localities mentioned, but from River- 
dale, Coney Island, Flatbush, Flushing, Seaford, Roslyn and Brooklyn. 
In the interior of the State it has been recorded from Brockport, Keuka 
lake, Syracuse, Buffalo, Brant, Fredonia, Jamestown and Cohoes. There 
is a bare possibility that some of these birds had escaped from cages, 
but in the majority of instances the condition of the specimens indicated 
that they had not been captive, at least for a long time, and there is no 



326 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

question that the species occasionally comes into the western part of New 
York State. It is possible that it breeds in Chautauqua county, as Miss 
Sarah Waite reports that she has seen it near the shore of Lake Erie through- 
out the summer, under circumstances which made her certain it was 
breeding in the vicinity. It is probable that the nonmigratory habit 
of this bird is largely responsible for its not becoming commoner in southern 
New York. What few specimens are raised in the State are likely to be 
killed during the shooting season in late fall or during the winter months, 
their conspicuous appearance and notes attracting the attention of every- 
one that passes by. They learn, however, to be very secretive in habits, 
and if dense swamps and thickets of brush and small trees were common, 
there is little doubt that it would become much more plentiful on Staten 
Island, Long Island, and in the lower Hudson valley. The nature of the 
country in Rockland county is more favorable to it, and there it is well 
established. If the residents of localities where the bird is beginning to 
appear could protect it thoroughly, there is no doubt that it would be able 
to remain throughout the winter and become more abundant, especially 
if fruit trees and plants which retain their seeds were planted in the 
thickets. 

The song of the Cardinal is " a loud clear whistle into which usually 
enters quite frequently the sotmd of Q! Q! Qf, and a peculiar long-drawn-out 
e-e! sometimes syllabled as 'three cheers'" (Chapman). Its call note is 
an abrupt tsip. The nest is composed of twigs, rootlets, weed stalks and 
strips of bark, usually placed in thick bushes. The eggs are 3 or 4, pale 
bluish-white, speckled with brown and grayish; average size i by .7 
inches. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 327 

Zamelodia ludoviciana (Linnaeus) 
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 

Plate 8s 

Loxia ludoviciana Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 12. 1766. 1:306 
Coccoborus ludovicianus DcKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 146, fig. 147 
Zamelodia ludoviciana A. O. U. Check List. Ed. .-5. 1910. p. 284. No. 595 
zamelodia, Or., W, inseparable prefix meaning very, and (XcXcpSta, melody, song; 
ludovicidna, of Louisiana 

Description. Beak very heavy; tail of moderate length, slightly 
emarginate. Male: Black and white with rosy breast; head, neck and 
upper parts mostly deep black; a white patch at the base of the primaries, 
also the middle wing coverts white, the longer wing coverts tipped with 
white and some of the inner secondaries spotted with white; rump mostly 
white; 3 or 4 outer pairs of tail feathers extensively tipped with white 
on the inner web; breast rich rosy red extending down the middle of the 
abdomen; under wing coverts also rosy red; rest of the under parts white; 
bill whitish, dusky at tip. Female: Resembles somewhat an overgrown 
female Purple finch. Upper parts grayish brown streaked with darker; 
wings with obscure wing bars; obscure whitish median line on the 
crown; grayish white superciliary streak; under parts dingy white tinged 
with buffy or brownish on the breast and sides and heavily streaked with 
blackish; under wing coverts saffron yellow. Young: At first resemble 
female; during first fall show touches of rosy on breast and under wing 
coverts. 

Length 7.75-8.5 inches; extent 13; wing 4; tail 3; bill .7; tarsus .88. 

Distribution. This species inhabits eastern North America from Maine 
and Manitoba south to Kansas and in the mountains to North Carolina, 
and winters in Central and South America. In New York it is quite 
generally distributed and fairly common throughout the AUeghanian zone, 
and also in a large portion of the boreal zone of the Adirondacks. In the 
coastal district, especially on Long Island (Brasher, fide A. H. Howell) 
and in the lower Hudson valley, it is rare or at least uncommon as a summer 
resident. In all the southern and central districts of the State it is more 
common as a migrant than as a summer resident, arriving from the south 
about the first of May, the dates ranging between April 24 and May 12. 
During the migration season of early May, the rose-breasts are often found 



328 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

in little companies of 5 to 1 5 birds among the deciduous trees of our lawns, 
parks and the outskirts of towns. Sometimes a few females arrive with 
the first little flocks of male birds, but usually they succeed by several 
days their more brilliantly colored brethren. In the fall it disappears 
between September 22 and October 10. 

Haunts and habits. The haunts of the Rose-breasted grosbeak are 
the rich woodlands with a fair stand of undergrowth, and swamps and 
stream courses well grown with alder, swamp maple and birches. In my 
experience also, it prefers a mixed woodland where there is a consider- 
able admixture of hemlock, pine or spruce. I have found it nesting about 
the Ausable lakes, the lower slopes of Mount Marcy and the shores of 
EUc lake in the Adirondacks, and in western New York it prefers such 
locations as the Potter swamp, Bergen swamp, Conewango swamp and 
the beech, maple and hemlock forests of Allegany, Chautauqua, Erie and 
Cattaraugus counties. It also inhabits pure forests of white and red oak 
on upland slopes, but the damper forest is certainly preferred. The nest 
is usually placed in an alder, maple, beech or hemlock sapling or the limbs 
of a low tree at a height of from 8 to 20 feet from the ground. It resembles 
considerably the nest of the Scarlet tanager, but is slightly larger, usually 
constructed of small twigs, especially those from the beech and hemlock, 
lined with finer materials of the same kind and a few rootlets. The eggs 
are 4 or 5 in number, greenish blue in ground color, rather profusely spotted 
and blotched with olive-brown and reddish brown markings. They average 
.90 by .70 inches in size. 

The call note of the Grosbeak is a loud, sharp, questioning " peek, 
peek." The song is a rich, rolling warble which has been many times 
compared to the quality of the Robin's note, but to me seems more melo- 
dious, approaching the quality of the Purple finch's song but a larger, 
fuller sound. It is frequently delivered when the bird is on the wing, 
fluttering through the air after the manner of the Goldfinch during his 
•ecstatic delivery. 

The food of this Grosbeak consists to a considerable extent of green 



11 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 329 

fruits such as those of the elm, wild cherry, honeysuckle, viburnum and 
dogwood while they are about half grown. It also partakes of the ripe 
fruit later in the season; but during the nesting period does immense good 
by destroying the larger beetles such as the potato beetle, June beetle, 
grape vine beetle, and other injurious species. This is one of the birds 
which has been noted in various sections of the country as preferring the 
potato beetle to other species. Not only on account of its beautiful 
plumage and melodious song, but also on account of this unusual propensity, 
it ought to be encouraged in all parts of the State. 

Guiraca caerulea caerulea (Linnaeus) 
Blue Grosbeak 

Plate 86 

Loxia caerulea Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:175 
Coccoborus cerulcus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 145, fig. 146 
Guiraca caerulea caerulea A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1510. p. 285. 
No. 597 

guiraca, barbarous Latin, meaning unknown; caerulea, Lat., blue 

Description. Adult male: Deep blue, the lores and chin black; 
back partly blackish ; wings and tail black edged with blue ; the wing coverts 
tipped with rufous. Female: Grayish brown showing somewhat bluish 
about the head, rump and wing coverts; wings and tail fuscous; wing 
coverts tipped with ocherous; under parts brownish buff, feathers some- 
times showing bluish under plumage. Young resemble the female. 

Length 6.5-7.5 inches; wing 3.4-3.6; tail 2.7-2.9; culmen .63-.66; 
depth of bill .52-.58. 

The Blue grosbeak bears a considerable resemblance, when seen among 
the foliage, to the Indigo bunting and might easily be mistaken for it when 
imperfectly seen or in unusual conditions of the atmosphere. It is, how- 
ever, decidedly larger, being the size of a Cowbird, nearly 2 inches longer 
than the Indigo bird. As it has been reported so many times by amateur 
bird people in New York, I make these suggestions to restrain the possible 
error. Very few New York specimens have ever been seen, and it seems 
almost impossible that the numbers reported by different observers could 
be actual occurrences. 



330 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Distribution. This Grosbeak inhabits the southeastern United States, 
locally northward as far as southern Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Kansas; 
winters in Cuba and southern Mexico. DeKay, in " Birds of New York," 
page 146, reports a specimen from Manhattan island taken May 15, 1838. 
There is also a specimen in the collection of the Long Island Historical 
Society taken at Canarsie, Long Island, in May 1843. Bicknell (N. 0. C. 
Bui. 31:32) mentions its occurrence on Long Island "many years ago," 
which allusion may well be to the specimen referred to. Lawrence, in 
his catalog of birds from the vicinity of New York, also includes this species 
(Lyceum N. Y. Annals 8, 1866, 286); Egbert Bagg reports two seen in 
central New York (Birds Oneida County, ed. 2, page 69); Mr Willard 
E. Yager writes of seeing a flock of 12 Blue grosbeaks in July 1899, near 
Oneonta, Otsego county. Besides these reports there are several others 
less clearly substantiated from different parts of the State, which may 
well be reports of the actual occurrence of this species; but no specimens 
other than the one above recorded have been found in the different col- 
lections which the author has examined. 

Passerina cyanea (Linnaeus) 
Indigo Bunting 

Plate 86 

Tanagra cyanea Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 12. 1766. 1:315 
Spiza cyanea DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 173, fig. 157 
Passerina cyanea A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 285. No. 598 
passerina, Lat., of or like a sparrow; cydnea, Gr., xuavso?, dark blue 

Description. Male: Deep blue; a deep ultramarine blue on head 
and breast, more inclined to azure blue on the back; the concealed portions 
of the wings and tail blackish, but showing very little except when they 
are spread. Female: Grayish brown; tail, wings and rump obscurely 
edged with blue; obsctu-e buffy whitish wing bars; under parts dingy white, 
strongly tinged on the breast and sides with buffy brown and obscurely 
streaked with dusky. Young resemble the female but darker. 

Length 5-5.75 inches; extent 8.55; wing 2.6; tail 2.1; bill .41; 
tarsus .67. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



331 



Distribution. This species breeds in the eastern United States from 
Minnesota, southern Ontario and Nova Scotia southward to the Gulf 
States, and winters in Central America. In New York the Indigo bird 
is a common summer resident in all the warmer portions of the State and 




Indigo buntmg at nest 



Photo by James H. Miller 



is found about the edges of the Catskill and Adirondack districts, but 
does not enter the Canadian zone. It is decidedly less common in the 
northernmost counties of the State, but is one of the characteristic birds 
throughout central and western New York, as well as the coastal district. 



332 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

The spring migration is accomplished between the 3d and the 17th of May, 
and the fall migration between the 25th of September and the 15th of 
October. 

Haunts and habits. The Indigo bird prefers brushy hillsides, " slash- 
ings " and bushy gardens, being a member of the same gild as the Thrasher, 
Chewink and Field sparrow. Throughout the hot, dry summer his song 
may be heard from the hillside thickets and edges of the woodlands. The 
nest is usually placed in a bramble or bush at a height of 2 to 4 feet from 
the ground, composed externally of dry leaves, weed stalks and strips of 
bark, and lined with finer grasses, rootlets and long hairs. The eggs are 
usually 4 in number, broadly ovate in shape, pale blmsh white in color; 
average size .74 by .55 inches. The first sets of eggs are usually found 
between May 25 and June 12, but frequently nests with fresh eggs may be 
seen as late as Jiily 15 or even the first of August. 

The Indigo bird is one of our most persistent singers and his pleasing 

song may be heard from the time of his arrival in May till well into the 

month of August. He usually chooses an elevated, though not exposed, 

position while singing; and it is often quite difficult to discover the singer 

hidden among the foliage near the top of some tree which overlooks his 

chosen brush lot. The song has a fringilline character, a pleasant, chip- 

pering warble, not rich and full in quality like the Purple finch's, but 

blithe and gay. Though rather definite in form of delivery, it never makes 

a definite impression upon my mind so that I remember it from one season 

to another. This little bunting is wholly beneficial, and besides being 

one of our most brilliantly colored song birds ranks near the Goldfinch 

as a songster. ' 

Passerina ciris (Linnaeus) 

Painted Bunting 

Emberiza ciris Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:179 
Passerina ciris A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 286. No. 601 
ciris, Gr., xslpt?, daughter of Nisus, who was changed to a bird 

Description. Adult male: Head and sides of the neck indigo blue; 
back golden green; rump and under parts red; wings and tail tinged with 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 333 

dull red; greater wing coverts green. Adult female: Upper parts bright 
olive green ; under parts white washed with greenish yellow ; wings and tail 
fuscous margined with olive green. 

Length 5.25 inches; wing 2.7; tail 2.15; bill .42. 

Distribution. The Painted bunting or Nonpareil breeds from the 
Gulf of Mexico as far north as Kansas, southern Illinois, North Carolina, 
and winters in tropical America. In New York State it is purely an acci- 
dental visitant. Bicknell, writing in the Bulletin of the Nuttall Orni- 
thological Club, volume 3, page 132, describes its occurrence at Riverdale 
July 13, 1875, and on the authority of Akhurst records the capture of 5 or 
6 specimens near the Narrows on Long Island and two others at Brooklyn. 
It is barely possible that these specimens had escaped from some cage in 
which they were being transported to the New York market, but it is 
equally possible that they were driven by storm up the coast of the eastern 
United States beyond their usual range, or that they wandered northward 
as southern species frequently do during their migrations and reached 
the shores of Long Island in the same manner that the Summer tanager 
and various other species have done. The occurrence of this bird in New 
York is also recorded in " Forest and Stream," 1884, page 424. The 
latest record of an apparently wild bird is from Bridgehampton, Ix)ng 
Island, December 1885, specimen mounted by Knoess, recorded by Dutcher 
in his Long Island notes. In the days when there was more extensive 
traffic in native birds, numerous specimens of this brilliantly colored 
bunting were imported and sold in the New York market so that specimens 
occasionally were noticed which had escaped from confinement or had 
been liberated; but such specimens exhibit signs of having been kept in 
cages and they are not included in this report. The specimens recorded 
were evidently wild birds. 



334 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Spiza americana (Gmelin) 

Dickcissel 

Emberiza americana Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1789. 1:872 

DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 155, fig. 3 
Spiza americana A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 287. No. 604 
spiza, Gr., axilla, a small bird, the Chaffinch (Prof. D'Arcy W. Thompson) 

Description. Male: Upper parts grayish brown streaked on the back 
with blackish; sides of the neck gray; lesser and middle wing coverts chest- 
nut; breast bright yellow; a large black patch on the lower throat usually more 
or less crescentric in shape; superciliary stripe and maxillary spot yellow; 
chin and patch below the side of the throat and belly white. Female: 
Similar, but much duller and the black patch replaced with black streaks. 

Length 6 inches; wing 3.2; tail 2.35; bill .55. 

Distribution. The Dickcissel, or Black-throated bunting, breeds in the 
Mississippi valley from Minnesota and Wisconsin south to Texas, and 
winters in Central and South America. It was formerly common in the 
middle states east of the Alleghanies, but has now almost entirely dis- 
appeared from that region. In the days of DeKay and Giraud, and to 
a less extent at the time of the publication of the Lawrence catalog, the 
Dickcissel was still common on Long Island, but now it has entirely dis- 
appeared. DeKay speaks of it as breeding throughout the southeastern 
and western portions of the State, and Dutcher (Auk, 10:276) speaks of 
it as breeding commonly in Kings county in 1842. The specimens in the 
collection of the Long Island Historical Society were taken at Flatlands 
in 1846. In 1875 Mr W. W. Worthington considered it very rare at Shelter 
island. Dutcher reports specimens taken at Millers Place in 1888. John- 
son reports a specimen from Blithewood, Long Island, August 25, 1890; 
and Doctor D wight reports a specimen from Kingston, June 5, 1896. This 
is the last report from New York. It was still breeding in eastern 
Massachusetts in 1877 and 1878 according to the reports of Purdy and 
Dean, and as late as July 1904, at Plainfield, N. J. (W. D. Miller, Auk, 21: 
487). I have found only two reliable reports from western New York. 
The late J. A. Dakin records having seen a small flock at TuUy, Onondaga 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 335 

county, in 1883; and during the summer of 1875 a pair reared their young 
at Junius, Seneca county. They returned the next season and a pair of 
the birds was collected and preserved by Mr C. J. Hampton, the male 
now being in the Hobart College collection. This is evidently the last 
instance of the Dickcissel breeding in New York State. Mr Todd, in the 
" Birds of Erie," reports it, however, as a rare summer resident in north- 
western Pennsylvania as late as June 14, 1895. There is a bare possibility 
that this species will become reestablished, at least in western New York, 
but as far as I can learn there is at present no indication that it is moving 
to the eastward as the Lark sparrow and the Prairie homed lark have 
done. 

Haunts and habits. The Dickcissel is a bird of the grassy field, pre- 
ferring prairies and weed fields, usually occupying a low perch on some 
stalk or fence post, singing his simple song with great earnestness, the 
notes of which have given him his common name throughout the country 
which he inhabits. The nest is placed upon the ground, or near it in 
a thick bush, and is composed of coarse weed stalks, grasses and leaves, 
lined with finer grasses and horse hair. The eggs are 4 or 5 in number, 
of a pale blue, without spots, and average .80 by .61 inches in dimensions. 

Calamospiza melanocorys Stejneger 

Lark Bunting 

Calamospiza melanocorys Stejneger. Auk. Jan. 1885. 2:49 

A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 19 10. p. 288. 

No. 60s 

calamospiza. Or., xaXafAo;;, a reed, and anXa, a finch; melandcorys, from Gr., 
meaning " black-helmeted " 

Description. Adult male: Uniform black with a slaty cast; the wing 
coverts white forming a conspicuous wing patch. Female: Brownish gray 
streaked with dusky ; a small white wing patch ; lower parts white streaked 
with dusky on the breast and side. Male in winter: Similar to adult 
female but the under plumage of the abdomen showing black when dis- 
arranged. Young: Similar to adult female but more buffy. 

Length 6.3-7.5 inches; wing 3.2-3.6; tail 2.9-3.3. 



336 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 




Distribution. This species ranges from Kansas to Saskatchewan 
and winters southward to Texas and New Mexico, lower California and 
Mexico It is of accidental occurrence in the Atlantic States and west of 

the Rocky mountains. Two New 
York specimens have been taken, 
the first at Montauk Point, Sep- 
tember 4, 1888 (Evans, Auk, 6: 
192); the second was reported by 
Arthur H. Helme from Millers 
Place, Long Island, September 1 1 , 
1896. 

Family TA.XAGRIDA.E 

Tanagers 

Bill turgid, more or less 
notched near the tip, the cutting 
edge toothed or slightly dentate; primaries 9; size medium; colors bright 
though not intricately variegated. The characters which distinguish this 
family are difficult to describe. They are more nearly related to the finches 
than most families, although they have something in common with the 
wood warblers. They have long been characterized as dentirostral finches, 
but the tooth on the side of the beak is practically obsolete in many species. 
In general, a tanager is easily recognized, though one can scarcely enumerate 
the points on which it is determined. The family is American, evidently 
of neotropical origin; consists of about 350 species, only 2 of which are 
normally found in the eastern states. Probably the most brilliantly colored 
of all New York birds is the Scarlet tanager, and brilliant colors of red, 
orange and yellow mostly predominate in the family. They are forest- 
loving birds, seeking most of their food amongst the foliage, the native 
species feeding on beetles, caterpillars and fruit in its season. They are 
more or less melodious, our common tanager singing somewhat like a Robin 
or Rose-breasted grosbeak. They build rather weakly constructed nests. 
The eggs are bluish green speckled with brown. 



Lark bunting Calamospiza melanocorys Stejneger 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 7,2)7 

Piranga ludoviciana (Wilson) 

Western Tanager 

Tanagra ludoviciana Wilson. Amcr. Orn. 1811. 3:27. pi. 20, fig. i 
Piranga ludoviciana A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 288. No. 607 
piranga, a barbarous word, perhaps one applied to tanagers; ludovicidna, of Louis- 
iana, that is, French Louisiana 

Description. Adult male: Head scarlet or crimson extending down 
along the central line of the breast; back, wings and tail mostly black, the 
wings with 2 yellowish white bars; the rest of the plumage bright yellow, 
especially the rump and the back of the neck. Female: Olive shaded 
with ash on the back; under parts greenish yellow shaded with olive on 
the side; wings and tail fuscous edged with olive, the wings barred with 
yellowish white. Young males: Resemble female, gradually passing into 
the plumage of the adult male. 

Length 7 inches; wing 3.75; tail 3; bill .6; tarsus .75. 

Distribution. This species inhabits western United States from the 
Great Plains to the Pacific coast, as far north as British Columbia; winters 
in Central America. Accidental in eastern United States. A single speci- 
men was obtained in New York at Fort Montgomery, December 21, 1881, 
a young male (Meams, Auk, 7:53). 

Piranga erythromelas Vieillot 
Scarlet Tanager 

Plate 87 

Pyranga erythromelas Vieillot. Nouv. Diet. d'Hist. Nat. 1819. 28 : 293 
Pyranga rubra DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 176, fig. 149 
Piranga erythromelas A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 289. No. 608 
erythromelas, Gr., IpuBp^s, red, and ^eXa;, black 

Description. Male: Bright scarlet except the wings and tail, which 
are black; under wing coverts white, which, however, rarely show except 
during flight. Winter plumage: Olive green above, greenish yellow below, 
wings and tail black slightly glossed with greenish. Female: Light olive 
green; under parts greenish yellow, wings and tail dusky, slightly edged 
with greenish. Immature males resemble winter male. During the moulting 
season birds partly scarlet and partly greenish are frequently observed. 



538 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Length 7-7.3 inches; extent 11-12; wing 3.75; tail 2.7; bill .46; 
tarsus .77. 

Distribution. This tanager inhabits eastern America from Virginia 
and Illinois to New Brunswick and Manitoba, and passes the winter in 
Central America and northern South America. In New York it is found 
in every county of the State, a fairly common summer resident of the 
forested districts, but in the more cultivated portions of southern, central 
and western New York is uncommon in summer except in swamps, large 
groves and wooded ravines. In the Adirondacks I have noticed it as 
high as the summit of the Bartlett ridge and the slopes of Mount Colvin 
and the forests about St Huberts. It therefore invades the Canadian zone 
of New York State nearly to the siunmits of our higher mountains. The 
spring migration, when it is fairly common in most portions of the State, 
begins about the ist of May in the southern counties, the loth to the 14th 
in the colder districts. In the fall it disappears between the 3d and the 
1 8th of October. 

Haunts and habits. As already intimated, the habitat of the Scarlet 
tanager is mostly in our larger groves, forests and wooded ravines, although 
during migration time it is frequently seen in orchards, shade trees, and 
even in the open fields. I have seen as many as 12 or 15 male tanagers 
in an open plowed field during the first part of May, when they are feeding 
on May beetles and their larvae. The migration is past by the third week 
in May, and thereafter we must seek the tanager in its woodland haunts. 

The common call note resembles the syllables " chip, churr," and his 
ordinary song has been compared to that of the Robin, but has a decided 
burr or buzz in its delivery. 

The females commonly arrive 5 to 7 days after the males and the 
mating occurs from the middle to the third week in May. The nest is 
constructed from the 23d of May to the loth of June. Fresh eggs have 
been found from May 28 to June 19. The nest is usually placed on a hori- 
zontal limb at a height of 12 to 30 feet from the ground. Usually 
a deciduous tree is chosen, like an oak, beech or maple, though I have 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 339 

found it in hemlocks and pines. It is loosely constructed of fine twigs, 
very often the dead twigs of the hemlock being chosen, and is lined with 
finer twigs and rootlets, but is frequently so loosely put together that 
when viewed from the ground the eggs may be seen through the nest. 
These are usually 4 in number, of a bluish green ground color rather thickly 
speckled and spotted with reddish brown and lilac. They average about 
•95 by .67 inches in dimensions. I have never seen a male tanager incu- 
bating the eggs, but he invariably appears when his mate is driven from 
the nest or raises an alarm, and flies about in the immediate vicinity, utter- 
ing his " chip, churr," and buzz of complaint. He is frequently seen 
sunning himself on the tops of dead trees in the forest, or on the edge of 
a ravine, and warbling from his perch at intervals throughout the forenoon, 
but he is not a continuous singer like some of the vireos and warblers. 
During the latter part of July and the first half of August, tanagers, like 
most birds, seem to go into seclusion. The moult, however, is completed 
about the last of August and after that season the males are seen in their 
winter plumage. During August, specimens are frequently noticed which 
are covered with patches of scarlet and regarded by the uninitiated as 
some new species of bird. 

Piranga rubra rubra (Linnaeus) 
Summer Tanager 

Plate 87 

Fringilla rubra Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:181 
Pyranga aestiva DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 175, fig. 148 
Piranga rubra rubra A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 289. No. 610 

rubra, Lat., red 

Description. Male: Entire plumage rosy red, brick red or vermillion, 
the hidden portion of the wings and tail being dusky. The shade of red 
depends considerably upon the age of the bird. Female: Dull brownish 
olive; under parts brownish yellow. Young males resemble the females. 

Length 7.5 inches; wing 3.75; tail 2.9; bill .55. 

Distribution. The Summer tanager inhabits the eastern United States 

from Florida to southern New Jersey and wanders casually as far north 
22 



340 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

as New England and Nova Scotia. It winters in Central and South America. 
In New York it is only an accidental visitant. Of 13 specimens definitely 
recorded from this State, 6 were taken on Long Island between the 6th 
and the nth of April, and 7 were taken between the ist and i8th of May. 
No specimen taken in summer or fall, as far as I can learn, is in existence, 
and no unquestioned breeding record for this State can be given, although 
it has been reported several times as breeding in different localities, as 
by Judd in " Birds of Albany," page 75. This record is on the authority 
of Mr H. A. Slack, an enthusiastic bird student; but, as the birds were 
not secured nor the identification verified by " professional ornithologists," 
it is possible that the reports were due to error in observation. , It is prob- 
able that the early date of many of the tanagers taken on Long Island 
is due to the fact that these birds were driven by storms while passing 
from the West Indies to the Southern States, and drifted up the coast, 
or that they alighted on coastwise trading ships and left the rigging as 
the boats approached New York harbor. At any rate, we can not regard 
this species as a siimmer resident of the State, but only an accidental spring 
visitant. It is not a common species farther north than the vicinity of 
Washington and Baltimore. 

Haunts and habits. It inhabits woodland like our Scarlet tanager, 
which it resembles in breeding habits. Its common call note is set down 
by ornithologists as resembling the syllables " chicky-tucky-tuck." 

Famil/ HIRUNDIXIDAE 

Swallows 

Wings strong and much elongated, the feathers rapidly graduated from 
the first or second to the secondaries ; primaries 9 ; tail forked ; rectrices 1 2 ; 
bill short, broad and flat, the gape extending far backward beneath the 
eyes equal to twice the length of the culmen; tarsi very short; the feet 
small and weak; plumage more or less iridescent, soft and smooth; head 
short, broad and depressed. 

This family is cosmopolitan in distribution and consists of about 100 
species, several of which are found in the eastern United States. They 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 341 

are vigorous flyers, spending most of their time in the air hawking for 
insects over rivers, lakes and fields, capturing their prey while on the wing. 
They are more or less sociable in habits, sometimes immense colonies 
associating together on their breeding ground. The nests of some species 
were originally affixed to cliffs, but now they have availed themselves to 
a considerable extent of structures erected by man; while those which 
formerly nested in hollow trees accommodate themselves to boxes erected 
for them; and even the Bank and Rough-winged swallows resort to gravel 
pits and masonry, whereas formerly they were confined to the shores of 
lakes and streams. As the migration season approaches, swallows gather 
in immense numbers on chosen roosting sites where various species may 
be found associating together, and separating again in the morning to 
seek their food over the surrounding country. During the day they fre- 
quently gather in companies of hundreds and thousands on the roofs of 
barns and on telegraph wires or on the reeds of extensive marshes. These 
congregations usually last until the end of August or the first weeks of 
September when the swallows suddenly disappear and are not seen again 
till the following April. Swallow roosts are usually found in the tall reeds 
or flags of marshes where there is an expanse of many acres, or in thickets 
of willows or alders. I have seen tens of thousands of Tree swallows 
gathered on the Montezuma marshes to roost, and in thickets of the Frencli 
basket willow I have observed as many as twenty thousand swallows in. 
a roost which covered only two acres. The birds gather upon these roost- 
ing grounds late in the afternoon, usually after sunset, and I have seen 
a few belated arrivals come into the roost an hour after sundown. Swallows 
are birds of cheerful disposition, continually twittering to each other as 
they sit on telegraph wires or flit about over the ponds and streams or 
over the meadows. Their flight is the personification of ease and elegance. 
At the same time, they are very beneficial by destroying countless hordes 
of insects. Some maintain that beneficial hymenoptera as well as some- 
of the predaceous coleoptera are destroyed, but the percentage is com- 
paratively small, as shown by the examination of stomach contents. We 



342 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

regret to add that swallows do not seem to be increasing in the more 
cultivated portions of the country as they ought, but this is not due to 
the destruction of forests, thickets and marshes, for they are birds of the 
open, and of all our native birds the swallows ought to be benefited rather 
than injured by the advance of culture conditions. The trouble is largely 
with the modern farmers who do not permit the swallows to enter their 
bams and nest upon the rafters or beneath the eaves. The English sparrow 
nuisance is partly responsible for this condition. Farmers close their 
barns against the sparrows and the swallows can not enter. If the swallow 
entrances were closed from September i to April lo, the sparrows would 
not choose the barn as their home; then if the swallows were let in and 
narrow ledges provided on some of the rafters and under the eaves, and 
protected with the gun against the sparrows, they might increase again 
among us. The author even believes that where no other suitable sites 
are found over considerable stretches of country, artificial sandpits should 
be constructed for the Bank swallows to occupy, and where hollow trees 
are no longer found along the stream courses and the lakeside, hollow 
limbs or boxes should be provided in abundance for the Tree swallows to 
occupy, and every village should be provided with several martin houses 
so that instead of a dozen towns where martins are found in abundance, 
we might have them in every city and village throughout the State. 

Progne subis sub is (Linnaeus) 
Purple Martin 

Plate 88 

Hirundo subis Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. lo. 1758. 1:192 
Hirundo purpurea DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 37, fig. Oi 
Progne subis subis A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. iqio. p. 290. No. 611 

progne, daughter of Pandion, fabled to have been changed to a swallow; siibis, 
Lat., some bird mentioned by Pliny 

Description. Our largest swallow. Tail moderately forked. Male: 
Glossy bluish black. Female: Similar, but under parts brownish gray tipped 
with whitish. Young: Resemble the female. 

Length 7.5-8.5 inches; extent 15-16; wing 5-5.6; tail 3-3.5; bill .5. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 343 

Distribution. The Purple martin inhabits North America from Nova 
Scotia, Saskatchewan and Idaho, south to Florida, Texas and Vera Cruz; 
winters in Central and South America. In New York this species is found 
in every portion of the State as a svunmer resident, but is very local in 
distribution except in the migration season, when it is more generally 
observed. I have been unable to secure full enough returns from observers 
in different parts of the State to plot its exact distribution at the present 
time, but it is almost entirely confined to villages and cities, both on Long 
Island and in eastern, northern and western New York, but only one-half 
or one-third of the villages and cities which were summer homes of this 
species fifty years ago are now inhabited by it. It is still common in 
Canandaigua, Geneva, Auburn and various villages and cities in western 
and central New York. At Rochester there is only one locality in the whole 
city where it still nests and the pairs are becoming fewer each year. From 
the returns which I received, it is evident that the Martin is barely holding 
its own in Auburn and Geneva, but has increased considerably in Canan- 
daigua due to the encouragement received from residents who have built 
martin houses and keep the sparrows from them until the martins arrive 
in April. Unless this same method is pursued in cities where it still exists, 
the species will be extirpated within a generation in most localities where 
it does not receive this protection. In this State the Martin makes its 
appearance from the 2d to the 13th of April in western New York, usually 
before the loth, and disappears in the fall between the 12th and the 30th 
of September, in western New York rarely being seen later than the 15th 
of the month. 

Haunts and habits. The Martin is a cheerful, spritely neighbor — too 
spritely for such people as wish to sleep late in the morning. All through 
the fine weather in April, May and June the martins begin to chortle and 
warble about the martin house as soon as the svm is up. In fact, through- 
out the whole day one is likely to see martins flying about the house or 
seated on its ridge or shelves, sunning themselves and pursuing whatever 
passing insects are observed. In fine weather they hawk for insects high 



344 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

in the air, sometimes several hundred feet above the ground, and in their 
excursions travel 2 or 3 miles from their native haunts. If there is a river * 

or lake in the vicinity, though it may be 4 or 5 miles away, they will visit 
it frequently, evidently for the purpose of drinking and pursuing insects ■ 

which are more niomerous near the water. In May and early June they 
are frequently seen on the ground in the garden, road or waste places hunt- 
ing for straws, twigs and feathers which they use in the construction of 
their nests. They rarely alight in trees, but like other swallows prefer 
the roofs of buildings, and telegraph wires for perches. One will frequently 
see 40 or 50 martins in a close row in those cities where they are most f 

abundant. In southern New York the nest is made early in May and the 
eggs usually found by May 15. In western and northern New York the 
dates range from May 20 to 30. In cold, damp weather this species some- 
times suffers a great deal from exposure; especially when a cold, damp 
snow comes in April after the Martins' arrival and continues for several 
days, they are frequently found dead about their houses. Aside from the 
unfavorable weather conditions, their principal enemy seems to be the 
English sparrow which occupies their nesting boxes before the martins 
arrive in the spring; and although they are very courageous warriors and 
drive the sparrows from their chosen home and carry out all the rubbish 
that the sparrows have carried in, the sparrows, by keeping constantly 
at it throughout the nesting season, prevent the martins from rearing 
their young, and so, after a few seasons of this continuous warfare, the 
martins are driven from the ancestral home and the sparrows left in con- 
trol. I have seen this history repeated in so many martin boxes of central 
and western New York that I feel certain it will be the inevitable result 
wherever the martins do not receive special protection. 



t 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 34.5 

Petrochelidon lunifrons lunifrons (Say) 
Cliff Swallow 

Plate 88 

Hirundo lunifrons Say. Long's Exped. 1823. 2:47 (note) 
Hirundo fulva DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 41, fig. 65 
Petrochelidon lunifrons lunifrons A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 

p. 2gi. No. 612 

petrochelidon, Gr., meaning rock swallow; lunifrons, Lat., moonfronted, referring to 
the crescentric spot on the forehead 

Description. Forehead buffy white; crown and back steel blue; sides 
of the head and the throat chestnut; upper tail coverts light rufous or buffy; 
grayish collar band; neck and breast brownish gray with steel blue patch 
on the center; abdomen whitish; tail and wings dusky and the tail very 
slightly forked. Young birds: Similar but duller; easily distinguished 
from any of our other swallows by the buffy tipper tail coverts. 

Length 5-5.5 inches; extent 12-12.75; wing 4.3-4.5; tail 2.25. 

Distribution. The Cliff swallow inhabits North America from the 
Gulf of Mexico as far as Labrador and the shores of the Arctic ocean. 
Winters in tropical America. In New York it is known locally through- 
out the State, but in many sections where it was very common 40 years 
ago it has almost entirely disappeared. At the present time it seems to 
be commonest in the Catskill and Adirondack districts and other sparsely 
inhabited sections of the State. Here it nests almost entirely in com- 
munities under the eaves of bams, although in the mountainous district 
it occasionally plasters its nest under the projecting ledges of the cliffs. 
The spring migration begins from the 13th to the 26th of April. In the 
fall they disappear from central and western New York from the 8th to 
the 15th of September; but in the coastal district are occasionally found 
as late as the ist or the loth of October. As a summer resident it must 
be regarded, on the whole, as less abundant than the Bam, Bank and Tree 
swallows, but, on the other hand, in some localities, especially the mountain- 
ous district, it is often more niunerous than any other species. One fre- 
quently sees a line of this species' nests consisting of 50 to 150 thickly 



346 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

crowded together under the eaves of some large barn, and a very interesting 
community it is. 

Haunts and habits. The nests are jug or gourd-shaped with opening 
just sufficient for the birds to enter, and usually there is one of the parent 
birds guarding the entrance to each nest, with its little buffy-colored frontlet 
and chestnut cheeks appearing, and chattering at the opening. There are 
birds continually darting swiftly out of some of the nests, wheeling about 
in the air, flying around, uttering their sharp monosyllabic note, returning 
to the nest, heading around and peeking out again — a bustling city with 
all the occupants intent on rearing their young and destroying all the 
winged insects that can be found in the air for some distance around. The 
interior of this swallow's nest is lined with fine grass and feathers. The 
eggs are from 4 to 6 in number, white in ground color, very thickly spotted 
with olive and rufous brown and lavender shell markings. They average 
.82 by .56 inches in dimensions. 

I have never been able to understand why so many farmers will not 
allow these swallows to build under the eaves of their barns, and even 
encourage the boys to stone down the nests and destroy whatever pro- 
jections there are to help the birds attach them; for these birds are 
certainly among the most beneficial to be found about the farm, and 
a very interesting adjunct to rural life. I hope that before the species 
entirely disappears from our State a different sentiment in regard to 
swallows' nests under the eaves will have been aroused in rural communities. 

Hirundo erythrogastra Boddaert 
Barn Swallow 

Plate 88 

Hirundo erythrogastcr Boddaert. Table PL En 1. 1783. 45 
Hirundo rufa DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. ]-)t 2, p. 40, fig. 64 
Hirundo erythrogastra A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. igio. p. 292. No. 613 
hirundo, Lat., a swallow; erythrogastra, from Gr., meaning red-bellied 

Description. Upper parts deep steel blue; under parts vary from pale 
biiffy to rich chestnut, deepest on the throat and forebreast; the tail feathers 



I 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 347 

show a broken band of white when fully spread ; tail very deeply forked, 
the most so of any of our swallows. Female and young : Usually paler 
in color below; and the young have the tail feathers less elongated. 

Length 6-7 inches; extent 1 2.5-1 3.5; wing 4.5-5; tail 3-5; the fork 
2-3 inches. 

Distribution. This species inhabits nearly the whole of North America 
as far as Ungava and Alaska; winters in Central and South America. In 
this State it is the most generally distributed swallow, a common siunmer 
resident in all parts, arriving from the 4th to the 14th of April and dis- 
appearing in the fall from the loth to the 20th of September, on Long 
Island and in the southern Hudson valley occasionally remaining till the 
5th to the 15th of October. 

Haunts and habits. This species is the common swallow familiar to 
every country boy. It enters the old barn through any window, door 
or small aperture, and flies about with a happy cheep and twitter, and 
plasters its nest upon the rafters or crossbeams. This is made of pellets 
of mud held together with a few straws, and lined with fine grasses and 
hens' feathers. The top of the nest is always open, never inclosed like 
the nest of the Cliff swallow. The eggs are from 4 to 6 in nvunber, white 
in ground color, rather thickly speckled with reddish brown, olive and 
lilac. They average .78 by .54 inches in dimensions, and are elongated 
ovate in form. The spots are usually rather uniformly distributed though 
sometimes thicker near the larger end. 

This is another species which has suffered considerably by improved 
conditions on the farm. The modem bam is often built so tight that the 
Barn swallow can not enter and, even if he does succeed in building his 
nest, it is usually knocked down because the modern farmer thinks the 
swallows are unpleasant neighbors to have sleeping in his barn. Con- 
sequently, in townships where formerly every bam was occupied by this 
species — from 3 to 7 pairs in each large hay barn — there are at the 
present time not more than i pair on an average in every 3 or 4 barns. 
They still nest to some extent under the sheds and eaves of outbuildings 
and in the less cultivated portions of the State still find a hospitable 



348 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



reception in the hay barn and sheep shed. Like the Martin and Cliff 
swallow, this species is very beneficial. The swallows are all insectivorous 
in habit, living almost entirely on flying insects and, although they fre- 




Photo by Ralph S. Paddock 



Barn swallow's nest 



quently destroy beneficial species like tiger beetles, ladybirds, ichneumon 
flies and wasps, the larger portion of their food consists of injurious 
species. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 349 

Iridoprocne bicolor (Vieillot) 
Tree Swallow 

Plate 88 

Hirundo bicolor Vieillot. Ois. Amer. Sept. 1807 (1808). 1:61, pi. 31 

DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 38, fig. 63 
Iridoprocne bicolor A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 293. No. 614 
iridoprocne, from Gr., meaning iris or rainbow-swallow; bicolor, Lat., two colored 

Description. Upper parts steel blue with a greenish sheen; under parts 
white; tail slightly forked. Immature have the upper parts brownish gray. 
Length 6 inches; extent 13; wing 4.5-5; tail 2.5. 

Distribution. This species inhabits North America as far north as 
Labrador and Alaska. In New York it is found in all portions of the 
State, but is much less common and more local in distribution as a summer 
resident in the southern counties. It prefers the vicinity of water; and 
in localities like river valleys, extensive marshlands, the flooded swamps 
of the central lake region and the Adirondack lakes, it is the commonest 
swallow. In the fall it sometimes appears in myriads along the coast, 
the shores of the Great Lakes, and the Montezuma marshes, as well as 
the large river valleys. I have seen tens of thousands gathered to roost 
each night in portions of the Montezuma marsh and on the marshes along 
the shore of Lake Ontario. It is the earliest of all our swallows to migrate, 
appearing in western New York from the 27th of March to the loth of 
April, average date April i, in the Atlantic district occasionally arriving 
as early as the i6th of February or from the ist to the 21st of March. 
In the fall it disappears from western New York from the 10th to the 20th 
of October, in the coastal district occasionally remaining to the ist of 
November. 

Haunts and habits. The Tree or White-breasted swallow breeds in 
hollow trees, the deserted holes of woodpeckers and in boxes which are 
erected for its accommodation. In western New York, however, it does 
not avail itself so readily of nesting boxes as is reported from the Hudson 
valley and from the New England States. I have no doubt that if boxes 



350 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

were erected for it along the rivers, lake shores and marshes, it would 
gradually acquire this habit and become more numerous with us as a simimer 
resident. I have found it nesting in every county of the State where 
I have made extensive observations of birds, but nowhere so abundant! v 
as in the marshes of Seneca river and about the Adirondack lakes where 
dead timber and hollow trees are abundant. The nesting materials carried 
into the boxes or hollow trees consist of grasses and feathers. The eggs 
are 4 to 7 in number, pure white in color and average .75 by .55 inches. 
Unlike the Barn swallow, it seems that usually only one brood is reared 
by this species in parts of the State where I have observed it. 

Riparia riparia (Linnaeus) 
Bank Swallow 

Plate 88 

Hirundo riparia Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:192 

DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 39, fig. 62 
Riparia riparia A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 294. No. 616 
ripdria, Lat., pertaining to ripa, the bank of a stream 

Description. Our smallest swallow. Tail moderately forked; a small 
tuft of feathers on the leg above the hind toe; upper parts brownish gray; 
under parts white, especially the throat and abdomen; a distinct gray band 
across the breast. 

Length 5.2 inches; extent 10.5-11; wing 4; tail 2; bill .18; tarsus .45. 

Distribution. The Bank swallow is holarctic in distribution, being 
our only common species of small bird which is identical with the corre- 
sponding European form. In America this species breeds from the edge 
of the tropics to Labrador and Alaska. In New York it is generally 
distributed throughout the State as a summer resident, very abundant 
in some localities where sand banks are plentiful. The spring migration 
begins from the 19th to the 30th of April. In the autumn the bulk of 
the birds have left by the 25th of August, but a few linger on in western 
New York until the middle of September and in the coastal district as 
late as October i. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



351 



Haunts and habits. Like the White-breasted swallow, this species 
prefers to hunt its prey over the surface of the water and is most abundant 
along rivers, lakes and bays. It nests in large communities, sometimes 
thousands of holes being seen in the same sand bank, occasionally not 
more than a few inches apart. The excavations are from 18 inches to 
3 feet in depth, the openings usually a flattened ellipse about 2 inches or 
2.5 inches in width and i .5 inches in vertical dimension. They are excavated 
by the birds themselves, and the end of the tunnel is enlarged to contain 




Yuung Bank swallows 



the nest of straws, grasses and feathers. The eggs are usually 5 in number, 
but vary from 4 to 6. They are pure white in color and average .68 by 
.48 inches in dimensions. About a sand bank inhabited by these little 
swallows one may frequently see thousands of birds in the air darting in 
and out of the holes, wheeling about in every direction, and keeping up 
a continuous reedy, buzzing twitter quite distinct from the notes of our 
other swallows. In the fall they gather in immense numbers on the tele- 
graph wires which cross the swamplands and edges of the lakes, and roost 



352 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

at night in the low bushes or reeds which cover the marshes. Sometimes 
tens of thousands gather to pass the night in the same marsh, associated 
more or less with other species of swallows. On the well-drained uplands 
where sand banks are very scarce and the soil mostly " hard pan," shale 
or rock, I have sometimes traveled miles and miles without seeing any 
of this species. In such localities the Bam swallow and Cliff swallow are 
the prevailing forms. On the shores of Lake Ontario, in the Genesee 
valley, in the Hudson valley and on Long Island, the " Sand martin " 
or Bank swallow is especially abundant. 

Stelgidopteryx serripennis (Audubon) 
Roiigh-winged Swallow 

Plate 83 

Hirundo serripennis Audubon. Om. Biog. 1838. 4 : 503 
Stelgido]3teryx serripennis A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. igio. p. 295. 
No. 617 

stelgiddpteryx, from Gr., scraper-winged; serripennis, Lat., saw feathered 

Description. Resembles the Bank swallow, but larger; edge of the wing 
with sharp recurved hooklets, more easily felt than seen ; upper parts grayish 
brown; throat and breast light brownish gray fading gradually into the white 
of the abdomen. The decidedly larger size, more brownish upper parts 
and entire absence of grayish band on the breast contrasted with the pure 
white throat, easily distinguish this species from the Bank swallow. 

Length 5.5-5.75 inches; extent 12-12. 5; wing 4.12-4.35; tail 2.1; bill 
.19; tarsus .43. 

Distribution. The Rough-winged swallow breeds from British Colum- 
bia, Minnesota and Massachusetts southward to the gulf coast; winters 
in the tropics. In New York it inhabits the river valleys and lake shores 
of all the southern, central and western portions of the State (see map 
volvune I, page 24), being a fairly common siunmer resident of the Car- 
olinian and lower Alleghanian zones. It was apparently unknown to 
Giraud and DeKay, as well as later naturalists in this part of the country, 
until about the year 1870, Doctor Mearns reporting it in 1872 from High- 
land Falls; Rathbun and Wright from Auburn in 1876; Bicknell from 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 353 

Riverdale, 1876; DeLe Eerier from New Utrecht in 1878; Ralph and Bagg 
from Trenton Falls in 1886; Burtch and Stone from Branchport, 1886, 
Now bird students and collectors find it at nearly every station. I have 
no doubt that the Rough-winged swallow has gradually extended its range 
in this part of the country and become common in localities where it was 
entirely absent 50 years ago, my own experience at Springville seeming 
to confirm this at least for that station. No Rough-winged swallows 
were found in that vicinity as late as 1884 when I ceased working there 
as a youth. When I returned to make a summer survey of the birds of 
that vicinity in 1900, I found the Rough-winged swallows common in 
many localities where they were wholly unknown 20 years before. Col- 
lectors in Niagara, Ontario and Monroe counties have told me similar 
tales of their experiences. I feel certain that my own experience was not 
due to overlooking these swallows in earlier days, for of all the specimens 
taken never was a Rough-winged swallow secured, and the especial pair 
which I expected might turn out to be Rough -winged swallows I found 
by reexamining my collection were Bank swallows as they had originally 
been labeled. This species arrives from the south from the 20th to the 
30th of April but, as far as my experience goes in western New York, 
disappears very early in the summer. I have never seen one later than 
the 1st of August, although they may remain later, as is indicated by 
observers in other parts of the State. Chapman records them as late as 
September i to 10, and others in the Hudson valley report them as depart- 
ing on August 12. It may be that after the breeding season is over they 
go to other localities, but they certainly are not found along the rivers and 
lake shores where they nest in May and June. 

Haunts and habits. The flight of the Rough-winged swallow is slightly 
slower than that of the Bank swallow and not quite so irregular. The 
stroke of the wings is more deliberate. They nest in smaller communities, 
sometimes 5 or 6 pairs being found about the same gravel pit, along the 
same shale bank, or about the abutments of the sam.e large culvert or stone 
bridge, but I have never seen more than 7 pairs nesting in the same imme- 



» , 



354 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

diate vicinity, and these are not closely crowded together, as is the case in 

communities of Bank swallows. Along the central lakes the nest is usually 

in fissures of shale rock or around the stonework of bridges. The nest, § 

like that of the Bank swallow, consists of straws and grasses, lined with 

feathers. The eggs are 5 to 7, occasionally 8, in number, pure white, if 

averaging .72 by .52 inches in dimensions. 

i 

Pamil- BOMBYCIUI^IDA-B ' 

Waxwings 

Wing long and pointed; primaries 10, the first short; tail rather short, 
narrow and even; feet weak; plumage soft and blended; in our species / 

the head is conspicuously crested; the secondaries and sometimes the tips < 

of the tail feathers marked with curious red waxlike appendages. The | 

young are somewhat spotted, especially on the breast, but the adults \ 

are plain in body colors. There are about 30 members of this family, 
inhabitants of the holarctic realm, 2 of which are found in America. 

They are insectivorous in the nesting season, but passionately fond 
of ripe fruits, and in the winter subsist largely on mountain ash berries 
and other fruits left hanging on the trees. They are more or less gregarious 
in habit, especially in the winter, when flocks of hundreds sometimes make 
their appearance suddenly and disappear as soon as the food supply fails. 
They can scarcely be called migratory, but are wanderers, seeking not so 
much the warmer regions as those in which there has been a plentiful crop 
of fniit. Our waxwings during the summer season feed to a large extent 
on flying insects which they pursue from some conspicuous perch where 
they remain for half the afternoon, frequently giving chase to passing 
insects and returning again to the same station, much after the manner 
of flycatchers. Waxwings are extremely fond of canker worms and many 
varieties of caterpillars, even feeding to a large extent on the hairy species 
which are shunned by many birds. Thus, in spite of the cherries which 
they destroy in the fruit season, they must be regarded among our most 
beneficial species. 



! 



/ 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 355 

Bombycilla garrula (Linnaeus) 
Bohemian Waxwing 

Plate 89 

Lanius garrulus Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:95 
Bombycilla garrula DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2. p. 43, fig. 57 

A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 295. No. 618 
bombycilla, from Gr. and Lat., bombyx, silk worm, silk, hence little silky one; 
gdrrula, Lat., garrulous, talkative 

Description. In general resembling the Cedar waxwing but larger. 
The abdomen gray instead of yellow; the forehead and under tail coverts 
chestnut rufous; the secondaries tipped with white, the primaries tipped 
with yellow on the outer web, these white and yellow tips on the wing being 
very conspicuous when the bird is at a considerable distance. 

Length 8-9 inches; wing 4.6; tail 2.6. 

Distribution. The Bohemian waxwing is holarctic in distribution 

inhabiting the colder portions of the northern hemisphere, in America 

breeding far northward and in the high mountains of the west, straggling 

irregularly southward in winter as far as the northern United States. 

In New York it is an irregular winter visitant. There are records from 

Long Island by Giraud, in 1830 and 1832; from Albany in 1835 by DeKay; 

Long Island, 1838, by Audubon; a specimen from Crow hill, 1851, is in 

the collection of the Long Island Historical Society; from Cold Spring in 

1870 by Mearns; from Mexico January 3, 1876, and February 2, 1880, by 

Ruthven Dean; from Penn Yan, 1880, by James Flahive; from Lockport, 

February 22, 1882, by Davison; from Utica several seasons prior to 1886 

by Ralph and Bagg; North Haven April 18, 1889, by Dutcher; in Madison 

county, February 4, 1896, by Embody; Syracuse February 10, 1899, by 

Johonnot; Saratoga, February 24 and March 2, 1891, by S. R. IngersoU; 

and from Waterford February 24, 1904, by Will Richard. Beside these 

records of specimens, numerous accounts have been sent to me of Bohemian 

waxwings appearing in various localities in the State, all of them in the 

winter months, the latest date being the one by Dutcher, April i8th. It 

is probable that a few of this species may occur in the State nearly every 
23 



\ 



356 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

winter, and if flocks of Cedar waxwings were carefully scrutinized, I have 
no doubt that occasional specimens of this species might, by reference 
to plate 89, be accurately identified. 

Bombycilla cedrorum Vieillot 
Cedar Waxwing 

Plate &o 

Bombycilla cedrorum Vieillot. Ois. Amer. Sept. 1807(1808). 1:88. pi. 57 
Bombycilla carolinensis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 44, fig. 56 
Bombycilla cedrorum A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 296. No. 619 

cedrdrum, Lat., of the cedars 

Description. Head conspicuously crested; soft grayish brown changing 
to bluish gray on the rump, wings and tail; tail with even terminal band 
of yellow; eye masks, narrow band over the base of the bill and chin black; 
abdomen yellow; under tail coverts whitish; bill black; feet leaden gray. 
Old birds have the tips of tail feathers and tips of the secondaries ornamented 
with scarlet waxlike appendages. 

Length 8 inches; extent 11. 5-12; wing 3.7; tail 2.4; bill .4; tarsus .66. 

Range. The Cedar waxwing inhabits North America, breeding from 
Virginia, and southward in the mountains, northward through the boreal 
zone. Only slightly migratory in habits. In New York it is a resident 
of all portions of the State but is very irregular in distribution in the winter ^ 

time, wandering about wherever food is most plentiful, sometimes in large 7 

flocks of 300 or 400. I have found it a common breeding species along the I 

swamps and streams of the Adirondacks, as well as throughout the orchards 
and shade trees of the more densely populated portions of the State. 

It is one of our latest birds to nest, rarely beginning to build before 
the middle or the third week in June. Fresh eggs may be found from 
the 20th of June to the last of July. The nest is usually constructed in 
an apple tree or shade tree of any kind, at a height of from 10 to 30 feet 
from the ground. It resembles somewhat the nest of the Kingbird, con- 
structed of grasses, cottony substances, leaves and strips of bark, lined 
mostly with rootlets, mosses and other fine materials. The eggs are 4 to 
5 in number, of a bluish gray or clayey brown color, rather thickly spotted 



I 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 357 

with roundish spots of black, and blotches of umber and brown. Average 
size .88 by .62 inches in dimensions. 

The Waxwing is usually voted one of the sleekest and softest colored 
of our birds. Its long pointed crest also gives it a distinguished appear- 
ance, and its sedate manner and gregarious habits also attract attention. 
They are called " polite birds " in many sections of the State because of 
the habit of bowing and " passing the word " along the line, and of passing 
a cherry. When the flock alights they ordinarily face all in the same direc- 
tion. Occasionally before one will taste the fruit which has just been 
picked, he passes it to the next one on the limb and so it travels down the 
line, and on rare occasions has been seen to come back again along a limb 
full of birds, before any member of the company will deign to taste it. 
The flock usually takes wing in a body, all seeming to spring into the air 
at the same instant. They utter a continual tse-tse-tse, a high thin call^ 
which is evidently for the purpose of keeping the flock together. When: 
the breeding season approaches, the waxwings separate in pairs and begin 
the duties of housekeeping. As soon as the young are grown one will find 
the waxwings most commonly about swamps and edges of streams, where 
they occupy exposed perches late in the afternoon and sally forth in pur- 
suit of insects much after the manner of flycatchers, sometimes pursuing; 
them for several rods in the air and returning again to their chosen stand.. 
In this way I have seen 2 or 3 dozen waxwings at the same time scattered 
about the shores of an Adirondack lake, all pursuing insects and returning; 
to the dry top of some spruce tree to await the approach of further prey.. 
In the fall and winter their gregarious habit may be of use in locating and 
feeding on the berries of mountain ash, winter berry, privet and other 
fruits, which are their principal food during the colder months. I have 
frequently seen a mountain ash tree which must have been loaded with 
several pecks of berries, stripped in a single day by a flock of these birds, 
then they scour the country in search of other trees and so journey on from 
one locality to another. They also feed in the winter to some extent on 
frozen apples and the fruit of the Crataegus. In the spring and summer thejp 



358 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

are largely insectivorous, devouring immense numbers of measuring worms, 
canker worms and even hairy caterpillars, ranking close to the cuckoos 
and orioles in this respect. As soon as small fruits like sour cherries and 
berries begin to ripen they become a great nuisance to the fruit grower, 
destroying large quantities of cherries in a few days, this species and the 
Robin being the most destructive of small fruits of all our species of New 
York birds. Nevertheless, I believe they should be protected, on account 
of the great benefit they otherwise perform, except in special cases where 
they have become too destructive on the fruit farm. 

Family LA.NIIDA.E 

Shrikes 

Bill stovit, notched and toothed, hooked at the tip, strongly mimicking 
that of the birds of prey; feet typically passerine in strvicture, not noticeably 
stronger than those of other perching birds; primaries lo in number; 
rectrices lo; both the wings and tail moderately long and rounded; rictus 
bristled ; nostrils circular, more or less concealed by tufts of bristly feathers. 

The shrikes are stout, bold, quarrelsome birds; in them the predatory 

disposition reaches a climax among the Passeres. In cruelty and ability 

to destroy their weaker brethren, they fully equal the smaller hawks and 

owls. They are carnivorous and insectivorous in diet. The smaller 

varieties, svich as our Migrant or Summer shrike, are mostly beneficial 

on account of their habit of destroying mice, grasshoppers and the larger 

beetles. The nests of shrikes are rather bulky affairs, the interior deeply 

cupped and lined with feathers. The eggs are 4 to 6, speckled, and of 

an elongated oval shape. 

Lanius borealis Vieillot 

Northern Shrike 

Plate 95 

Lanius borealis Vieillot. Ois. Amer. Sept. 1807(1808). 1:80, pi. 50 
Lanius s e p t e n t r i o n a 1 i s DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 127, fi<i. 81 
Lanius borealis A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 296. No. 621 

lanius, Lat., a butcher; borealis, northern 

Description. Upper parts gray; wings and tail black; a conspicuous 
white patch in the wing near the base of the primaries; the outer tail feathers 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



359 



conspicuously tipped with white; tips of secondaries white; forehead, tips 
of scapulars and the upper tail coverts whitish ; a broad black stripe from 
the nostril down the side of the head; under parts grayish white narrowly 
barred with blackish. Female: Similar but slightly smaller and the colors 
dingier. Young: Like the female, more or less washed with brown, having 
a tinge of buffy below. 

Length 10.1-10.5 inches; extent 14-15; wing 4.55-5; tail 4; bill .7; 
tarsus .9. 

Distribution. The North- 
em shrike breeds from north- 
western Alaska and northern 
L^ngava southward to south- 
ern Saskatchewan and south- 
ern Quebec ; winters southward 
as far as central California, 
Texas and Virginia. In New 
York it is purely a winter 
visitant, appearing from the 
north from the 20th of October 
to the 1 5th of November, and 
disappearing in the spring 
from the i8th to the 30th of 
March, occasionally lingering 
as late as the 12th of April. 
It is not a common species 
in any portion of the State, 
but is distributed rather uni- 

Mouse .mpaled on thorn by Northern shrike fonTlly thrOUghOUt thC COUH- 

try districts and often enters the limits of towns and cities to feed on the 
English sparrows which are easier prey than it can find in the wildernesses. 
I have not noticed the Butcher bird as common as it formerly was in western 
New York, during the last 15 years. Sometimes a whole winter passes 
without my seeing a single specimen while traveling about the country, 
but if I spend a day traveling over the broad uplands and across 




360 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

the swampy districts, I am usually sure to see one or more of these 
birds. 

Haunts and habits. In habits this shrike is more daring and blood- 
thirsty than its southern cousin. I have frequently stood in the edge 
•of a thicket and watched the Northern shrike pursue Tree sparrows and 
juncos relentlessly for half an hour at a time, through the densest portion 
of the tangle and among the trees, until the little birds were apparently 
stupefied or nearly paralyzed with fright, when he struck them down with 
a sudden blow on the back of the head, fell with them to the ground 
and then carried them away to impale on some thorn or barbed wire 
fence, where he devoured, perhaps, a small portion of his victim and flew 
away to seek some other encounter. I have often found whole chick- 
adees. Tree sparrows and juncos impaled upon thorns without being 
touched by this bloodthirsty assassin. However, he kills an equal or even 
greater number of meadow mice, and in the fall and spring large numbers 
of grasshoppers, crickets and other injurious insects. Considering the 
fact that he so often feeds upon English sparrows and meadow mice, I 
have no doubt he might be considered among our beneficial species in 
spite of the few song birds which he destroys. 

The notes of the shrike are loud and harsh, rather varied but dis- 
connected, a series of squeaks and whistlings; but late in the spring he 
occasionally bursts forth into an unexpected song which has been compared 
to that of the Catbird and which I myself on one occasion took for the song 
of a Mockingbird, having seen the performer in the distance flying from 
tree to tree, his gray, black and white varied colors, together with his song, 
having suggested the famous southern songster to my mind. I have since 
heard that some have gone so far as to suggest that both the colors and the 
notes of the shrike are a mimicry of the Mockingbird, but considering the 
difference in distribution of the two species, it seems to my mind a purely 
fanciful suggestion. 

The late Austin F. Park thus describes the hunting of the shrike: 
"March 2, 1879, near the Delaware and Hudson Railroad shops, on Green 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 36I 

Island, N. Y., I saw a Butcher bird sitting on a telegraph pole. Thence 
he flew about 40 rods high over the railroad shops, chasing a flock of about 
5 English sparrows. He chased an individual about 100 feet high and 
about 40 rods off, where he seemed to catch it, then flew and lit on the 
topside prongs of the lightning rod which is about 140 feet high on the tall 
chimney at the railroad shops, some 40 or 50 rods from where I was. I 
started to go toward the lightning rod, but in about one minute saw the 
Butcher bird descend from that direction and chase an English sparrow 
through the air within about 6 rods of where I was. After rising about 
20 or 30 feet above the sparrow and within some 50 feet of the latter, the 
Butcher bird would rush for the sparrow, and after two or three such 
quickly repeated unsuccessful passes, caught it in the air about 15 feet 
from the ground and about 8 rods from me. The sparro\ squealed as 
soon as caught and they fluttered directly down to the ground together, 
when the Butcher bird gave the sparrow two or three rips with his bill at 
intervals of about 4 seconds, and then in about one-third of a minute flew 
off past me with the sparrow in his claws. I then looked at the lightning 
rod and saw something upon one of its top prongs, and upon going near 
and examining it with a telescope found it to be a bird, seemingly a sparrow 
newly killed and impaled head first upon one of the lightning rod prongs, 
with its legs sticking out and toes expanded as if the bird had been stuck 
alive upon the prong, which seemed to be about 4 or 5 inches long and about 
one-fourth of an inch thick. Probably the Butcher bird had caught the 
first sparrow high in the air and at once flew up to the top prongs of the 
lightning rod and thereon impaled it, and then immediately flew down 
and caught the second sparrow of the flock as described above." 



362 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Lanius ludovicianus migrans W. Palmer 
Migrant Shrike 

Plate 90 

Lanius ludovicianus migrans Palmer. Auk. July 1898. 15:248 

A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 298. 
No. 6226 

migrans, Lat., migrating, migratory 

Description. Similar to the Northern shrike in coloration, but a 
darker gray on the upper part; the under parts plain grayish white, without 
any cross bars; smaller. Those who wish to distinguish this species from 
the Loggerhead or the White-rumped shrike, may consult Palmer's descrip- 
tion above referred to. 

Length 9.2 inches; extent 12. 5-1 3; wing 4; tail about 4; bill .55; 
tarsus I . 

Distribution. The Migrant shrike breeds in eastern America from 
northern Minnesota, Michigan, southern Quebec, Maine and New Bruns- 
wick, southward to eastern Kansas, southern Illinois and western Virginia; 
winters from the Middle States to Mississippi and Texas. In New York 
this species is found as a summer resident in nearly all portions of the 
State except the Atlantic district, and may possibly breed occasionally 
in the lower Hudson valley or even on Long Island, but definite records 
to this efifect are not yet before us. It is a fairly common breeder in 
western and central New York, in the Black River valley, Mohawk valley, 
and around the outskirts of the Adirondacks. The history of this species 
in New York is rather interesting. DeKay and Giraud knew nothing 
of it. The fact that DeKay speaks of the Northern shrike as breeding 
in the interior of the State might indicate that he confused the Migrant 
shrike with its northern relative, but similar statements of his regarding 
Yellow-legs, Whistling swan and numerous other species, which were 
reported on hearsay evidence, were undoubtedly errors, and his remarks 
about the breeding of shrikes may also be in error. At any rate, this 
species has become more niunerous in the interior of New York State since 
1869 when it was reported by Allen in the American Naturalist, page 579, 



I 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



363 



as breeding near Buffalo; in i860, Mcllwraith in his " Birds of Ontario," 
page 346, reports that it was first seen at Hamilton in i860, and after 1866 
was a regular breeder in southern Ontario; it was noted by Coues from 
New England in 1868; by Purdy in 1873; and by Maynard in 1875; reported 
by Brewer as breeding in Maine in 1877, and in Vermont the same year. 
It is probable that the early records of Northern shrikes breeding in New 




Migrant shrike on nest 



Photo by James H. Mil'.er 



England and in New York are attributable to this species, and it is barely 
possible that the Migrant shrike was overlooked for many years on account 
of its comparative rarity; but it seems certain if it was as common a bird 
as it is at the present day in the interior of New York, it would have been 
reported earlier than 1869. From that date onward, records of the breed- 
ing of this species increase both in western, central and eastern New York, 



364 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

and it may unquestionably be set down as one of those species of birds 
which have gradually increased in numbers since the clearing of the country, 
like the Prairie homed lark, having invaded the region principally from 
the Mississippi valley. The Migrant shrike arrives from the south from 
the 20th to the 30th of March, and usually disappears in the fall during 
the month of October, but a few evidently remain through the winter, as 
Dutcher has a Long Island specimen taken on the 21st of November. 
The author once saw a bird of this species on New Year's day in the town 
of Concord, Erie county. The bird alighted on a telegraph wire not more 
than 2 rods from the observer and was viewed in the best possible light, 
both the size and all the markings indicating this species beyond a doubt; 
but those are the only two winter records which are before me. On Long 
Island the Migrant shrike appears as a transient, usually during the last 
week in August, sometimes as late as the 30th of September, evidently 
those birds which l^reed in eastern New England and Maine migrating 
along the Atlantic coast. Except for a single record given by Fisher 
(N. O. C. Bui., 4:61) when a young bird was captured at Ossining, June 
16, 1877, there seems to be no definite record of the breeding of this species 
in southeastern New York, and it is extremely rare both in the lower 
Hudson valley and in the vicinity of New York City except during the fall 
migration, as above stated. 

Haunts and habits. This species prefers open fields with sparse 
growth of apple and thorn trees. It is usually seen seated on the top of 
a dead branch, on a telegraph wire or a fence post awaiting insects or small 
birds to make their appearance. Its flight, like that of the Northern 
shrike, is rather low and undulating, and when about to alight usually 
shoots upward some distance to choose an elevated stand. The nest is 
commonly placed in a dense apple tree or thorn bush from 5 to 15 feet 
from the ground, usually so low that the observer can look into it while 
standing on the ground. It is a bulky structure, composed of sticks, 
weed stalks, coarse grasses and a few leaves, lined with softer materials, 
bark,, patches of hair, feathers and wool. The eggs are 5 to 7 in number. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 365 

of an elongated ovate shape, grayish or creamy white in ground color, 
rather thickly and uniformly spotted with brown and lavender. They 
average .98 by .78 inches in dimensions. In western New York I have 
found the first sets of this species laid as early as the ist to the 15th of 
May and later sets are frequently found late in June or in July which 
seem to indicate that two broods may be reared in a season. I can not 
understand why this bird does not increase more rapidly in numbers, 
for it is abundantly able to protect its nest and, furthermore, the nest is 
usually very perfectly protected by the dense cover of the thorn bush in 
which it is situated. The young, in my experience, are almost always 
safely reared, 5 or 6 of the youngsters being frequently seen under the 
care of the old birds in the localities which they frequent ; but in any locality 
which I have watched as the seasons go by, there seem to be no more breed- 
ing pairs than there were 20 years ago. It may be that the fearless dis- 
position of this little warrior makes him an easy prey to such birds as the 
Cooper and Sharp-shinned hawks, but they seem such hardy birds that 
it is impossible to believe that vmfavorable weather conditions can affect 
them seriously. Fortunately, this species being smaller than the Northern 
shrike, rarely destroys our smaller song birds, although it occasionally 
does so and frequently kills and impales meadow mice on the thorn bushes 
near its home; but large beetles and grasshoppers seem to be its favorite 
food. Consequently, it can be ranked as a beneficial species. 

Family VIREONIDA.E 

Vireos 

Wing of moderate length with 10 primaries, the first short or rudi- 
mentary; tail of moderate length; bill shorter than the head, rather stout, 
compressed, hooked and notched at the tip; nostril exposed but with an 
overhanging scale; rictus conspicuously bristled; tarsus equal in length 
to middle toe and claw scutellate in front, undivided on the side; middle 
toe joined for half the first joint to the inner and to the second joint of 
the outer; size small; plumage not conspicuously variegated, greenish on 
the upper part and frequently yellowish on the under parts ; young without 
spots; sexes alike; diet insectivorous, hence the species are migratory. 



366 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

The family consists of about 75 species, all confined to the Western Hemi- 
sphere. Evidently the group is of neotropical origin, but several species 
have invaded the nearctic region, migrating as far north as Canada. 

Vireos are more sedate in habits than warblers, although like them 
they are characteristically birds of the forest and feeders among the foliage ; 
but they do not flit so much among the branches, hanging more with their 
feet and peering about among the leaves and in the axils of the buds search- 
ing for caterpillars, plant lice, beetles and all species of insects found among 
the foliage. They must be reckoned among our most beneficial species. 
The family is more melodious than the Wood warblers, some of the species 
being our most persistent musicians throughout the summer, although 
they can not compete in voice with some of the thrushes, thrashers and 
finches. They all build pensile nests of delicate construction. The eggs 
are usually 4 in number, white, sparingly spotted with dark brown. 

For detailed accounts of the food of vireos, see Bulletin 17 (Judd, 
Birds of a Maryland Farm), Biological Survey, United States Department 
of Agriculture; also Yearbook for 1906, pages 194-95. 

Vireosylva olivacea (Linnaeus) 
Red-eyed Vireo 

Plate 91 

Muscicapa olivacea Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 12. 1766. i : 327 
Vireo olivaceus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 124, figs. 79 and 75 ■ 
Vireosylva olivacea A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 298. No. 624 
vireosylva, forest vireo; olivacea, olive-colored 

Description. Upper parts olive green; the crown ash, bordered on the 
sides by a blackish line, below this a whitish superciliary line, and below 
that a dusky line through the eye; under parts white slightly tinged with 
greenish yellow along the sides; iris red; legs leaden blue; bill dusky, paler 
below. Sexes alike. 

Length 6-6.25 inches; extent 9.75-10.75; wing 3-3.3; tail 2.35-2.5; 
bill .66; tarsus .75. 

Range. This vireo breeds from British Columbia, southern Mack- 
enzie, northern Ontario and Cape Breton, to Montana, eastern Colorado 
and Florida, and farther south along the Rocky mountains; winters in 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 367 

northern South America. In New York it is uniformly distributed through- 
out the State, being the commonest species of the family. It is a summer 
resident, undoubtedly, of every county. Every grove and woodland in 
southern and western New York harbors this species, and I have found 
it breeding in the Adirondacks as high as the siammit of the Bartlett ridge, 
the Geological cobble and Mt Colvin. It seems to be nearly as common 
in the North Woods as it is in the groves of western New York, but is not 
so generally distributed among the shade trees and orchards of the culti- 




Red-eyed vireo $ incubating 

vated districts as one would expect, in these localities being largely replaced 
by the Warbling vireo. The spring migration begins from April 28 to 
May 12. In the fall it disappears from October 4 to 25. 

Haunts and habits. As already indicated, this species is arboreal 
in habit, and is usually found singing and feeding in the tree tops. It 
has frequently been called the " preacher bird " from his habit of keeping 
up his little refrain with almost singsong monotony throughout the day, 
almost throvighout every day of the summer. The song consists of a short 



368 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

bar of two to four notes warbled in rather full voice, then a short rest, and 
a similar strain repeated. One might imagine he said, as has already been 
written, " Here I am; look here; in the tree top; do you see me; way up here; 
in the tree top? " Or, " See me; up here; in the tree," over and over again. 

In habits, this bird, like most of the family, is less nervous than the 
warblers. He flits less, but sits quietly in the tree, peering about beneath 
the leaves, and hops from twig to twig in search of smooth caterpillars, 
beetles and other insects. 

The Red-eye's nest is suspended from a forked twig in a bush or the 
low limb of a tree, from 5 to lo feet from the ground. It is basket-shaped, 
woven of grasses and strips of bark and pine needles, lined with finer strips 
and needles. The outside is ornamented with spiders' webs and nests, 
occasionally with bunches of other cottony substances. The eggs are 
usually 3 or 4 in number, elongated oval in shape, white in ground color, 
sparingly spotted with black, umber and reddish brown. They average 
.82 by .53 inches in dimensions. The Red-eye is very commonly parasitized 
by the Cowbird and usually succeeds in rearing its own young only on 
a second attempt made in midsummer. 

Vireosylva philadelphica Cassin 
Philadelphia Vireo 

Plate 91 

Vireosylvia philadelphica Cassin. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. 1851. 

5: IS3, pi. 10, fig. 2 
Vierosylva philadelphica A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 299. 
No. 626 

philadelphica, in honor of Philadelphia 

Description. Our smallest vireo. Colors similar to the Warbling 
vireo, but the whitish superciliary line and the dusky line through the eye 
more conspicuous, almost as in the Red-eyed vireo; under parts noticeably 
washed with sulphur yellow, the breast decidedly yellow, but the throat 
and the center of the abdomen nearly white. This species has no apparent 
spurious quill in front of the first primary. 

Length 4.8-5.1 inches; extent 8-8.5; wing 2.66; tail 2.15; bill .44. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 369 

Distribution. The Philadelphia vireo breeds in eastern North America 
from Labrador, northern Manitoba, northern Ontario, New Brunswick 
and Maine to northern Michigan and northern New Hampshire; winters 
in Central America and Colombia. In New York this species is a migrant, 
in spring and fall fairly common about Rochester and in the lower Hudson 
valley. During May and September it undoubtedly occurs in all parts 
of the State, but is overlooked by the amateur observer. The spring dates 
before me range from May 7 to May 28; the fall dates from August 24 
and September 12 to 26 (and October 20 at Ossining). Doctor Meams 
noted this bird as a fairly common migrant in the Catskills, Hunter 
mountain, August 29, 1896; Reginald H. Howe at Chateaugay lake 
August 24 to September 7; and I have noted the same thing in Monroe 
and Ontario counties September 12 to 28. In the spring it seems to be less 
abundant as far as my observations go, but i expect to see it at least once 
or twice each season during the second and third weeks in May, wherever 
I happen to be observing birds in western New York. Mr Fuertes and 
Doctor Reed have found it migrating at Ithaca; Mr Davison at Lockport; 
Mr Miller at Mayville; Mr Embody in Madison county; Doctor Fisher 
at Lake George and Ossining; Mr Bruce at Brockport-; Mr Worthington 
at Shelter island; Mr Cherrie in Kings county; Mr Dutcher at Fire Island 
Light and Shinnecock Light; Doctor Merriam at Fairhaven, Lake Ontario; 
Mr Ridgway at Far Rockaway; Mr Park at Troy and Cohoes; Doctor 
Meams at Cold Spring. These records are all based on specimens taken. 
Mr Bruce states that it is an uncommon summer resident, but as he makes 
no mention of finding its nest in the region about Brockport, it is perfectly 
evident that he unwittingly put it down as a summer resident. Having 
taken it late in May, he supposed it to remain through the siunmer. During 
the summer of 1905 I made a careful search for this vireo throughout all 
the region about Mt Marcy, in the country about North river, and the 
western Adirondacks, with the assistance of several young men who were 
perfectly qualified to recognize the bird on sight, but we failed to locate 
it in this region. It is possible that it nests in the northern Adirondacks, 



370 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

but it seems strange it has never been found there in summer by any of 
the bird students who have visited the region. 

Vireosylva gilva gilva (Vieillot) 
Warbling Vireo 

Plate 91 

Muscicapa gilva Vieillot. Ois. Amer. Sept. 1807(1808). 1:65, pi. 34 
Vireo gilvus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 123, fig. 74 
Vireosylva gilva gilva A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 299. No. 
627 

gilva, Lat., yellowish (but it is the least yellowish of our native vireos) 

Description. Decidedly smaller than the Red-eye; upper parts olive 
green, not so bright as in the Red-eyed vireo, more mixed with gray, especially 
toward the head, the crown being practically ashy in color but not sharply 
distinguished from the more olive green of the back, as in the Red-eyed 
vireo; under parts white, slightly tinged with greenish yellow on the sides; 
an indistinct white superciliary line and an obscure dusky one through 
the eye; no wing bars, and no decided m.arkings of any kind; one of our 
most neutral tinted birds. 

Length 5.5-6 inches; extent 9; wing 2.8; tail 2.25; bill .4; tarsus .65. 

Distribution. The Warbling vireo breeds in eastern North America 
from southeastern Alberta, northern Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia, 
to northern Texas, southern Louisiana and North Carolina; winters some- 
where south of the United States. In New York the Warbling vireo is 
a common summer resident of the Carolinian and Transition areas, except 
in the northern and colder portions. It is not quite so generally distributed 
as the Red-eyed vireo, but undoubtedly breeds in every county of the 
State with the exception of the interior of the Catskill and Adirondack 
districts. Mr Batchelder informs me that he has found it nesting in the 
shade trees of Elizabethtown in Essex county, and Doctor Merriam also 
found it at Plattsburg and in Lewis county, and I have noticed it about 
the edges of the Adirondack forest, so that it may nest even in the south- 
eastern corner of Hamilton county, but no records to this effect are before 
me. 



HlRUb OF NEW YORK 37 1 

Haunts and habits. In southern and western New York, this is one 
of our common birds of the orchard and shade trees. Almost every village, 
city and parkland boasts pairs of the Warbling vireo. Every few blocks 
it can be located by the song of the male as one journeys about the streets. 
As to the birds themselves, they are very rarely seen, even by the inhab- 
itants in front of whose houses they build their nests. The song of this 
species is a rolling warble longer than the strain of the Red-eyed vireo 
and not so frequently repeated. It reminds one somewhat of the song 
of the Purple finch but is not so full and is delivered with less intensity 
and variety. 

The nest of the Warbling vireo is suspended from the fork of an apple 
tree, maple or some other shade tree, at a height of from 15 to 40 feet from 
the ground. In structure it resembles slightly the nest of the Red-eye, 
but is smaller and more compactly put together and not ornamented on 
the exterior so uniformly with spiders' nests and other downy bunches. 
The eggs, deposited from May 23 to June 15, are usually 4 in number, 
white, less sparingly spotted than those of the Red-eye with specks of 
black, umber and reddish brown. They average .76 by .55 inches. 

The spring arrival dates from April 30 to May 8, rarely as early as 
April 26, and it disappears in the autumn from September 10 to 22. 

Lanivireo flavifrons (Vieillot) 
Yellow-throated Vireo 

Plate 91 

Vireo flavifrons Vieillot. Ois. Amer. Sept. 1807 (1808). 1:85. pi. 54 

DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 120, fig. 77 
Lanivireo flavifrons A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 300. No. 628 

//(iOT/roM5, I>at., yellow fronted 

Description. Upper parts olive green gradually giving way to gray on 
the scapulars, rump and tail coverts; wings and tail dusky; secondaries and 
outer tail feathers margined with white; 2 distinct white wing bars; throat 
and breast bright yellow; abdomen, under tail coverts white; line from the 
nostril to the eye and the eye ring, yellow; bill and feet dark leaden blue. 

Length 5.75-6 inches; extent 10; wing 3; tail 2.2; bill .55; tarsus .76. 
24 



372 NEAV YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Distribution. The Yellow-throated vireo inhabits eastern North 
America from southern Saskatchewan, Manitoba, southern Ontario and 
Maine southward to Texas, Louisiana and Florida, and winters from 
southern Mexico to Colombia. In New York this species is quite generally- 
distributed as a summer resident throughout the Carolinian and Transition 
zones, but it is rather uncommon in the colder portions of the Transition 
zone and is scarcely found at all in the Catskill and Adirondack districts. 
During the migration period it is somewhat commoner in the southern 
part of the State than through the summer, arriving from April 27 to the 
loth of May in the different counties, and departing in the fall from 
September 16 to 30. 

Haunts and habits. Like the Warbling and Red-eyed vireos, this 
species is a bird of the tree tops, spending most of its time amid the denser ; 

foliage and frequently warbling in full contralto voice his short message 
translated by Chapman "See me? I am here. Where are you?" 
Occasionally, especially when the nest is disturbed, he utters a series of , 

noisy, harsh notes and frequently, while singing, a buzzing note is 
introduced in the song. The nest is suspended from a forked branch 
15 to 30 feet from the ground. It is composed of plant fibers, grasses, I 

shreds of bark, and lined with bits of lichens and spiders' nests. The eggs 
are 3 or 4 in ntimber, white, rather sparingly spotted with black, umber 
and reddish brown, and average about .80 by .60 inches. The first sets 
of fresh eggs are usually noticed from May 25 to June 6. Occasionally 
later nests are found even to the loth of July. I found this vireo nesting 
in Central Park, New York City, and in the shade trees of Rochester, 
Medina, Canandaigua and Buffalo. It also nests in the forests at some 
distance from the abodes of man, but can not be considered as characteris- i 

tically a forest species as the Solitary vireo or even the Red-eyed. In the ■ 

more thickly populated portions of New York this vireo ranks next after 
the Red-eyed and Warbling vireos in abundance, but is not so generally 
distributed as the Red-eye. I have found that in some localities where 
it was common years ago it has practically disappeared and made its appear- 



I 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 373 

ance in other localities where it was formerly unknown. This shifting of 
its centers of abundance is difficult to explain, but I have noticed in certain 
small parks and about many groves and on certain streets where it has 
been carefully watched, this species has disappeared the next season after 
it was unsuccessful in rearing young, due to its having been parasitized by 
the Cowbird. Probably this cause and other unfavorable circumstances 
like the destruction of its brood by Screech owls or unfavorable weather 
conditions, left no descendants to repeople the accustomed grove. Wherever 
the Yellow-throated vireo is present, he can scarcely be overlooked, on 
account of his loud and characteristic song which will surely attract the 
attention of all nature lovers. His food habits entitle him to the strictest 
protection of the agriculturist. 

Lanivireo solitarius solitarius (Wilson) 
Blue-headed Vireo 

Plate 91 

Muscicapa solitaria Wilson. Amer. Om. 1810. 2:143, pi. 17. fig- 6 
Vireo solitarius DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 121, fig. 76 
Lanjvireo solitarius solitarius A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 
p. 300. No. 629 

lanivireo, " shrike-vireo "; solitarius, Lat., solitary 

Description. Top and sides of the head bluish gray; upper parts other- 
wise olive green somewhat mixed with gray on the back; wings and tail 
dusky, slightly edged on the outer webs with greenish, the secondaries 
and outer tail feathers narrowly margined with white; 2 distinct white 
wing bars; throat and central portion of abdomen clear white; sides greenish 
yellow slightly overwashed with olive; line from nostril to eye and eye 
ring pure white; iris brown; bill and feet dark plumbeous. 

Length 5.25-5.75 inches; extent 8.5; wing 2.75-3; tail 2.3; bill .4; 
stout; tarsus .73. 

Distribution. The Blue-headed vireo breeds in eastern North America, 
from southern Alberta, southern Mackenzie, southern Quebec and Cape 
Breton island southward to North Dakota, Michigan and the mountains 
of Pennsylvania. Winters from South Carolina to Texas and southward 
to Guatemala. In New York this species is a summer resident of the 



374 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Canadian zone and presumably of the colder portions of the AUeghanian 
area, but I have no evidence of its nesting in this area except the record 
of Bicknell and others in the Catskill district, and of Fuertes at Ithaca 
in 1893 and of Allen at Ithaca in 191 3. My own experience throughout 
the hills, gullies and swamps of western New York is that this species 
is absent as a breeding species from the whole region, even where juncos. 
Hermit thrushes and Blackburnian warblers are fairly common breeders, 
and does not occur in any nurribers until the Canadian zone is reached 
at the edge of the Adirondacks. I found it nesting in Essex county 
about the Ausable lakes and on the slopes of the Bartlett ridge up to 
an elevation of 2500 and 3000 feet. The nests were mostly attached to 
the small forks and horizontal limbs of beech and birch trees only a few 
feet from the ground and had young in the nest on the 30th of June to 
the loth of July, of a size which would indicate that the fresh eggs would 
be found about the loth of June. The eggs are 3 or 4 in number, white 
Uke those of all the other vireos, slightly spotted with black, imiber and 
reddish brown thickest near the larger end. They average .80 by .53 
inches in dimensions. In nearly all portions of the State this vireo is 
a fairly common transient visitant, arriving from the 20th to the 30th 
of April, sometimes as late as the 8th of May in the colder counties. 
Throughout the warmer districts it passes on to the northward from the 
14th to the 24th of May. It returns again about the 8th to the i6th of 
September and leaves us for the south from the loth to the 25th of October. 
On Long Island and in some other localities of southeastern New York this 
species is much less common as a migrant than it is in the western counties, 
but the dates agree very closely with those from central New York. 

The song of the Solitary vireo to my ear is a more melodious perform- 
ance than that of the Red-eyed and Yellow- throated species. Bicknell 
describes it as a " prolonged, interrupted warble followed by loud notes, 
matchless for tenderness and cadence." The song is rarely heard during 
the migration season, but in the nesting haunts it is frequently delivered 
in the morning and late in the afternoon. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 375 

Lanivireo solitarius plumbeus (Coues) 

Plumbeous Vireo 

Vireo plumbeus Coues. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. 1866. 74 
Lanivireo solitarius plumbeus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 

p. 300. No. 629b 

Distinguishing characteristics. Upper parts leaden gray, the crown 
not sharply contrasted in color with the back; rump glossed with olive; 
line from base of bill to the eye and eye ring pure white ; flanks with a mere 
trace of olivaceous; slightly larger than the Blue-headed vireo. 

This subspecies inhabits the southern Rocky Mountain region from 
Nevada and northern Wyoming and southwestern South Dakota to south- 
western Texas and Vera Cruz. It is purely accidental in the eastern states, 
a single individual — an adult female — having been collected at Peter- 
boro, N. Y., September 24, 1893, by Gerrit S. Miller jr (see Avik, 11:79). 

Vireo griseus griseus (Boddaert) 
White-eyed Vireo 

Plate 91 

Tanagra grisea Boddaert. Table PL Eiil. 1 783. 45 

Vireo noveboracensis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 122, fig. 78 
Vireo griseus griseus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 301. No. 631 
vireo, Lat., " I am green," referring to the prevalent color of the upper parts; 
griseus, new Lat., gray 

Description. Upper parts olive green; under parts whitish; the sides, 
flanks and crissiim yellow; line from nostril to the eye and eye ring yellow; 
wings have 2 whitish bars; iris white; bill and feet dusky leaden color. 

Length 5-5.3 inches; extent 8; wing 2.35-2.5; tail 2; bill .5; tarsus .75. 

Distribution. The White-eyed vireo inhabits eastern United States 
from eastern Nebraska, southern Wisconsin, southern New York and 
Massachusetts, to Texas and Florida; winters from South Carolina and 
Texas southward to Guatemala. In New York this bird is practically 
confined to the Carolinian district, being a common or abundant summer 
resident on Staten Island, Long Island and in the lower Hudson valley, 
but is uncommon in central and western New York, very few unquestioned 



376 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

records being before me, but its nest has been taken near Auburn, Buffalo, 
Lockport and Dunkirk. Doctor Heimstreet also records it as a summer 
resident at Troy; C. L. Avery at Herkimer; and W. J. Youngs in Delaware 
county. It is a very curious circumstance that David Bruce sets it down 
as an abundant summer resident at Brockport, N. Y. On several visits 
in that vicinity I have been unable to meet with a single specimen of the 
species, nor have I ever seen it in western New York except on one occa- 
sion in the vicinity of Rochester during 1 1 years of observation. Therefore, 
it seems to me that this bird is more southerly in distribution than the 
Orchard oriole, the Yellow-breasted chat or the Louisiana water-thrush 
in New York State. 

Haunts and habits. The haunts of the White-eyed vireo are thick- 
ets and damp tangles. It remains near the ground. It seems more 
like one of the small flycatchers in habits than the other species of vireos. 
When its haunts are invaded, it shouts a curious questioning or protesting 
note as if he asked abruptly, " What do you want, you ? " Also a scolding 
note and whining is suggestive of the Catbird. His song is described by 
Bicknell as brief and emphatic, at least two distinct changes, a voluble, 
confused outpouring of singularly involved and varied notes heard through 
the latter part of May and the month of June, rarely noticed in July and 
August, but the autumnal revival song occurs about the first of September. 

The spring migration of this species begins from the 29th of April 
to the 1 2th of May in southeastern New York; in the fall it disappears 
between September 20 and October 10. Nests with eggs are found between 
May 24 and June 12, later nests sometimes being discovered until the 
middle of July. They are placed near the ground, suspended from the 
forked branch of laurel, briers or small bushes. The exterior is composed 
of light materials like bits of rotten wood, spiders' nests, bits of newspapers, 
bits of down from weeds, and almost any article found about. The frame- 
work of the structure is woven from grass blades and fine strips of bark. 
The eggs are 3 or 4 in number, white, sparingly spotted with black and 
reddish brown. They average .75 by .55 inches in dimensions. This is 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 377 

the species called Politician by Wilson on account of its habit of ornament- 
ing the exterior of the nest with bits of newspaper, but in the few nests 
which I have seen it was not evident that it ornamented the exterior of 
its nest to any greater extent than I have observed of the Red-eyed vireo. 

PamUy MNIOTIUTIDAK 

Wood Warblers 

Primaries 9, tail feathers 12; bill "conoid elongate"; rictus more or 
less bristled; tarsus scutellate; size small; plumage usually variegated and 
brightly colored, yellows, greens and blues often predominating. 

As many have remarked, this family is difficult to characterize by 
positive description, the fact that they are unlike all the other 9 primaried 
song birds distinguishing them sufficiently. Within the family itself there 
is great variety both in the details of structure and in color and habits. 
Some of the birds are exclusively arboreal, feeding among the foliage of 
trees; others are scansorial, much like the creepers; others are terrestrial 
and have acquired a walking gait like the wagtails; others approach the 
flycatchers both in appearance and habits and in the bristling of the rictus 
and flattening of the beak. In nesting habits they vary as much as in 
their feeding. Some build a bulky nest upon the ground; others make 
felted nests of exquisite structure in the tree tops ; others nest in the hollows 
of trees; while some even build pensile nests among the branches. The 
family is exclusively American, being evidently of neotropical origin, but 
has invaded the nearctic region in considerable nvmibers, ranking as the 
second largest family in the United States, and inhabiting the boreal region 
almost to the limit of trees. They are insectivorous in habit and con- 
sequenth^ migratory birds. There is often a sexual differentiation in 
color, as well as in seasonal plumage, the young commonly resembling 
the female through the first season. About 150 species are recognized. 



378 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Mniotilta varia (Linnaeus) 
Black and White Warbler 

Plate 92 

Motacilla varia Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 12. 1766. 1:333 
Mniotilta varia DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 52, fig. 89 

A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 304. No. 636 
mniotilta, from Gr., meaning moss-plucking; varia, Lat., variegated 

Description. Striped with black and white, the crown showing 2 broad 
black stripes, with a central and 2 lateral white stripes, but the whole 
appearance of the upper parts, breast and sides is of a conspicuously black 
and white striped bird; 2 diagonal white wing bars caused by the white 
tips of the coverts; ear region mostly black, likewise central portion of 
the upper tail coverts; outer tail feathers with conspicuous white patches 
on their inner webs; center of the breast and belly white. Female: Similar 
but less sharply streaked, with decidedly less black on the throat and sides 
of the head, and the whole plumage more or less washed with brownish. 
Young males: Similar to the adult, but with less black on the cheeks, 
throat and breast. Young females: Like the adult female. 

Length 5.3 inches; extent 8.54; wing 2.73; tail 2.03; bill .37. 

Distribution. This warbler inhabits eastern America from central 
Mackenzie, northern Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, to northern 
Georgia, Louisiana and eastern Texas, and winters from Colima and Neuva 
Leon to Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, and occasionally in southern 
Florida, the Bahamas and the West Indies. 

In New York it is generally distributed throughout the State, occurring 
as a common migrant in all the southern portions, and as a local or fairly 
common summer resident from Long Island, the southern Hudson valley 
and the lower portions of western New York, to the edges of the Catskills 
and Adirondacks. Within the cooler portions of the Alleghanian zone 
and throughout the Canadian zone of New York it is a common summer 
resident. In the district about Mt Marcy, I found this bird nesting on 
the Indian head, the Geological cobble, Bartlett ridge, Marcy trail by 
the old Mclntyre lumber camp, Skylight camp, Colden trail. Elk Lake 
road, and at the timber line on both Skylight mountain and Mt Marcy. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 379 

Several nests and broods of young were found in all these localities. Thus 
it will be seen that although this warbler breeds almost throughout the 
State, it belongs more characteristically to the Canadian fauna; and in 
western New York, during 25 years of field experience, I have found only 
a few breeding pairs in Erie, Monroe, Ontario, Genesee and Wayne counties 
except about the margins of the larger swamps and along the ravines of 
the lake region and the northern slopes of the higher hills. Nevertheless, 
in eastern New York it is reckoned a common summer resident by the 
observers on Long Island, especially in Suffolk county, and a common 
summer resident by Chapman near New York, and by Fisher in the lower 
Hudson valley. 

Migration. This is one of our earlier warblers, arriving in south- 
eastern New York from the i8th to the 30th of April, and in western New 
York from the 24th to the 30th of April, some years being recorded not 
earlier than May 3. In northern New York the dates of arrival range 
from April 30 to May 8. It is one of the common warblers in migration, 
both in the eastern part of the State and throughout western New York, 
often as many as 20 or 30 individuals of the species being seen about the 
shade trees of our village streets and parks in a single morning. In August 
and September the numbers of this species are considerably augmented 
by migrants from the north and the last individuals are seen between 
the 1st and the 14th of October, stragglers sometimes appearing as late 
as the 24th of the month. 

Habits. The Black and white warbler, or Black and white creeper 
as it is frequently called, is one of the most restless members of this rest- 
less family. He is incessantly hopping about on the trunks and larger 
branches of the trees or clinging for a moment to the twigs and branches 
in search of plant lice and small insects and flitting to another tree and 
continuing his search. In creeping over the trunks of trees he resembles 
somewhat the Nuthatch in habits, but his progression is more jerky and 
at each hop or hitch he almost invariably faces in a different direction, 
whereas the Nuthatch keeps calmly ahead without looking first one way 



380 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

and then the other. This species is more confined to the trunks and 
larger branches than any of the other creeping warblers, such as the Yellow- 
throated warbler or the Pine warbler. 

The preferred haunts of the species are open woodlands of deciduous 
trees or mixed growth, with abundance of brushy vegetation, or the tangles 
of brush and vines on the edges of ravines or slashings where only a few 
trees have been left. Here its nest is usually found on or near the ground, 
concealed under the edge of a mossy log or stone or among roots of a stump 
or at the foot of a sapling. It is a rather bulky structure composed of 
leaves, grasses and strips of bark, lined with fine rootlets, a few grass blades 
and long hair. The eggs are 4 or 5 in number, of a rounded oval shape 
and rather bluntly pointed, of a grimy or milky white ground color rather 
heavUy and profusely spotted with reddish brown, chestnut, hazel and 
lilac, as usual in the family, tending to form a wreath near the larger 
end of the egg. The dimensions average .66 by .53. In southeastern 
New York the eggs are laid from the loth to the 20th and 30th of May; 
in western New York the first are commonly found between the 20th of 
May and the 12th of June. Birds were found near Mt Marcy feeding 
their young on the ist of July, which would seem to give June 5th or loth 
as the proper date for that year in the Adirondacks. 

Mr Gerald Thayer writes the song " ssee-imvee, ssee-wwee, ssee-wwee, 
ssee-vmiee " with a slight emphasis on the second note of each couplet. 
Doctor Meams has heard it sing a little ditty almost exactly like the 
Redstart's during the fvdl tide of migration. In any case, the song of 
the Black and white warbler is described as a feeble refrain, thin and wiry 
in quality. Many people can not hear the song at a distance of more 
than 3 or 4 rods. The common call note of the bird is written by Allison 
as " dzt, dzt, dzt " and often it is repeated several times in rapid succession. 
This is the note commonest heard during the migrations. About the 
nest a sharp " pit " or chip of alarm is usually heard. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 38 1 

Protonotaria citrea (Boddaert) 
Prothonotary Warbler 

Plate g2 

Motacilla citrea Boddaert. Table PI. Enl. 1783. 44 

Protonotaria citrea A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 305. No. 637 

protonotdria, a mongrel name from xpwTo?, first, and notarius, a notary, the appli- 
cation of the name also fanciful; citrea, pertaining to citron, yellow 

Description. Bill slim and pointed; whole head, breast and most of the 
under parts orange-yellow; wings, tail and rump gray; the concealed portion 
of the wing feathers black; the inner webs of the tail feathers mostly white 
except the tip which is blackish; belly and under tail coverts white; back, 
scapulars and a portion of the lesser wing coverts yellowish green; bill 
black. Female: Slightly duller than the male. Young: Similar to female. 
Adult male in the fall has the back of the head washed with dusky. 

Length 5 inches; wing 2.85; tail 1.88; bill .56. 

Distribution. This species is confined to the warmer portions of the 
eastern United States, breeding from eastern Nebraska, southeastern 
Minnesota, southern Michigan, Ohio and central Delaware south to north- 
em Florida and eastern Texas. Winters from Nicarauga to Venezuela, 
crossing the Gulf of Mexico in migration. Wanders northward, especially 
during the spring migration, as far as Ontario, New England and New 
Brunswick. 

There are several records for New York State: A specimen taken at 
Jamaica, Long Island, in May 1849; one at Montauk Point, August 26, 
1886; and Montauk, April 1888 (Dutcher, Atik, 10:276) ; another at Yonkers, 
June 2, 1895 (Bicknell, Auk, 12:307); two seen near Binghamton, May 9, 
1905, reported by Lilian Hyde; one seen in Central Park, New York City, 
May 4 and 5, 1908, recorded in the Atok, 25:320, by Anne A. Crolius and 
a specimen observed at Ithaca (male). May 31, 19 10. This last bird was 
singing and carrying building materials but its mate was not observed 
(Allen, Auk, 28: 1 15). Thus it is evident that this bird is only an accidental 
visitant to New York, and possibly has never bred within our limits, but 
it reaches us occasionally during migration and shotild be put in the catalog 
of rare or accidental visitants. 



382 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Haunts and habits. The haunts of the Prothonotary warbler are in 
the swampy forests of the Mississippi valley and kindred localities. The 
bird observed at Ithaca was in the partly flooded swampland at the head 
of Cayuga lake. It builds its nest in hollow trees and deserted woodpecker 
or chickadee holes, usually not far above the stagnant water of the swamp. 
In activity and restlessness it has few equals. Its food is usually sought 
low down among the thickets, logs and debris which has been deposited 
in the swamp during the floods of spring. Its flight is similar to that of 
the water thrush " remarkably swift, firm and decided." Its note resembles 
somewhat the call of the Solitary sandpiper, the commonest syllables 
being a simple " peet, tweet, tweet, tweet." A common tschip of recognition 
occurs when the birds meet each other among the foliage. The song is 
of startling intensity when compared with the notes of most of our common 
warblers. The alarm or distress note is similar to that of the Louisiana 
water thrush. (See Brewster, N. O. C. Bui. 3:153.) 

Helmitheros vermivorus (Gmelin) 
Worm-eating Warbler 

Plate 92 

Motacilla vermivora Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1789. 1:951 

Vermivora pennsylvanica DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 82, fig. 124 
Helmitheros vermivorus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 306. 
No. 639 

helmithirus. Or., Worm-hunter; vermivorus, Lat., worm-eating 

Description. Sexes alike; crown conspicuously streaked with black and 
light buff or olive buff. These streaks are, 3 buffy, i median and the other 
2 just above the eyes; the black streaks are 4, 2 on the sides of the crown 
and 2 through the eyes. Upper parts olive green; under parts creamy buff; 
white around the throat; no white wing bars or tail spots. 

Length 5.5 inches; extent 8.75; wing 2.78; tail 2.05; bill .39; tarsus .7. 

Distribution. This warbler inhabits eastern North America from 
northern Illinois, western Pennsylvania, and the lower Hudson and Con- 
necticut valleys, south to Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia and the mountains 
of South Carolina, wintering from Chiapas to Panama, and sometimes in 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 383 

Florida, the Bahamas and West Indies. In New York, as is shown by 
the distribution map on page 25, volume i, this species is almost entirely 
confined to the lower Hudson valley where it is common in a few localities 
near New York, in northern Westchester county, nesting also at Nyack 
and Catskill, and a few stations on Long Island (Bellport, Miller's Place) 
where it has been reported as rare. It has occurred in a few localities of 
western New York, especially near Oneonta, May 9 to August 1900; Ithaca, 
May 6, 1909; Binghamton, May 14, 1905; Elmira; Coming; Branchport; 
Penn Yan; Rochester; Herkimer; and Lockport; but although it was seen 
by Mr Stone carrying building material near Branchport, no nest of the 
species, as far as I know, has ever been found in western or central New 
York. It is, therefore, strictly confined to the Carolinian faunal area of 
the State except during migration when a few individuals overreach their 
normal range but fail to establish themselves as breeding species. The 
migration dates for southeastern New York show that it arrives from the 
3d to the 1 6th of May, and in the fall it disappears usually between the 
1st and the i6th of September, although specimens have been taken as 
late as September 21, and in some localities it has not been noted later 
than the 15th to the 23d of August. 

Habits. The Worm-eating warbler seems to prefer dense undergrowth 
in swampy thickets and wet places grown up to huckleberries; wooded 
hillsides and ravines; and dense undergrowth of woodland. It spends the 
greater portion of its time on the ground, walking instead of hopping, 
with slow and deliberate motions, among the dry leaves, with its tail tilted 
rather high, often rustling among the dead leaves and occasionally creeping 
up the trunks or inclined logs and on the larger branches of trees to the 
height of 10 to 20 feet, but it is preeminently a ground warbler. It is 
very shy and difficult to capture. Mr Brewster remarks that the slightest 
sound would frighten the bird to a different part of the wood. Nearly 
all observers agree in comparing the song of this species to that of the 
Chipping sparrow, Mr Thayer remarking, however, that it is shorter, 
weaker and distinctly more insectlike in tone. The call note is a sharp 



384 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

"dzt," similar to that of the Black and white warbler, uttered at all times 
and seasons (Allison). The alarm note is a quickly repeated chip. 

The nesting site is on the ground, usually on the steep side of a ravine 
or near the edge of a swamp or stream at the foot of a bush or by the side 
of a mossy log or at the edge of a stone amid the ferns, berry bushes or 
Solomon's seal. The nest is composed of leaves, grasses, strips of bark, 
rootlets, usually lined with fine grass and hair or with the stems of maple 
seed or the stalks of hair moss. The eggs are 5 in number, white in ground 
color more or less profusely marked with spots of brown, reddish and lilac 
tending to form wreaths near the larger end, but in many cases rather 
evenly distributed. They are rounded oval in shape but usually more 
pointed than those of the Black and white warbler. The average size 
is .69 by .53 inches. The nesting dates for southeastern New York are 
from May 20 to June 5 and June 17. 

Vermivora pinus (Linnaeus) 
Blue-winged Warbler 

Plate 93 

Certhia pinus Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 12. 1766. 1:187 
Vermivora so lit aria DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 83, fig. 125 
Vermivora pinus A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. igio. p. 306. No. 641 
vermivora, worm-eating; pinus, a pine tree 

Description. Upper parts mostly olive green; the forehead, crown and 
under parts yellow; wings and tail bluish gray, the wings with two conspicuous 
white bars, and 3 outer tail feathers with white spots on their inner webs; 
a black line from the base of the bill through the eye. Female and young: 
Very similar to the adult male, but the crown and under parts not so 
bright yellow and the eye streak dusky instead of black. 

Length 4.85 inches; extent 7.3; bill .45; wing 2.45; tail 1.9; tarsus .67. 

Distribution. Breeds in eastern North America from southeastern 
Minnesota, southern Michigan, Connecticut and Massachusetts southward 
to Missoitri, Kentucky and Delaware; winters from southern Mexico to 
Colombia. In New York it is a common summer resident in the coastal 
district, especially in western and northern Long Island and the lower 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 385 

Hudson valley, arriving from the south from the ist to the 1 2th of May, 
average date May 5; and departing for the south from the ist to the 8th 
of September. It is uncommon or local on southern and eastern Long- 
Island and in the central Hudson valley and the valley of the Delaware. 
Davison's record for Niagara county evidently establishes a western New 
York breeding date; but although the species has been observed and 
specimens taken at Penn Yan, Buffalo, Ballston Spa, Canandaigua and 
Rochester, it is certainly rare as a migrant and extremely rare as a breeding 
species in central and western New York, like the Worm-eating warbler 
being practically confined to the typical Carolinian fauna (see map, page 
25, volume i). 

Haunts and habits. The Blue-winged warbler frequents swampy 
thickets and wooded valleys but is sometimes found among the scrubby 
second growth of the hillsides and the undergrowth of the dense woods. 
It is deliberate in its movements as compared to the other warblers, acting 
more like a vireo than a member of this family. 

The song is insignificant, a wheezy performance of notes resembling 
the syllables " swee-e-e-e-e, chee-chee-chee-chee," the first inhaled and the 
second exhaled. Another song described by Jones is more varied, rendered 
by Mr Chapman as " wee, chi-chi-cM-chi-, chur, chee-chur." Another song 
mentioned by Bums suggests the Chickadee's " che-de-de-e, che-de-de-e.'' 

The nesting site of this warbler is on the ground in a bunch of herbs 
or at the foot of a small bush. The nest is surrounded by the grass, weeds, 
ferns or vines which screen it effectively from view. The eggs are 4 to 
6 in number, usually 5, white or creamy white in ground color with specks 
and spots of dark vrniber, brown, lavender and purple, the amount of 
spotting varying considerably, but usually forming a wreath near the larger 
end of the egg. Size averages .64 by .51 inches. The earliest nesting date 
in my records is May 15, from Long Island, the usual dates for New York 
ranging from May 23 to June 16. 



386 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Vennivora chrysoptera (Linnaeus) 
Golden-winged Warbler 

Plate 93 

Motacilla chrysoptera Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 12. 1766. 1:333 
Verm i vera chrysoptera DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 84, fig. iiS 

A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 307. No. 
642 
chrysdptera, Gr., meaning golden-winged 

Description. Upper parts mostly gray or dull bluish gray; the crown f 

and conspicuous wing bars yellow, the bars forming almost a solid patch; 
a line running from the bill through the eye and spreading to a broad patch | , 

on the cheek, and the throat jet black; line over the eye and a broad line v 

separating the black cheek patch from the black throat, pure white; breast 
and belly white; outer tail feathers with white spots in their inner webs. 
Female: Similar to the male but the yellow crown and wing patch less 
brilliant, the black cheek and throat patches replaced by dusky gray. Young: 
Similar to the adults but duller. 

Length 5.1 inches; extent 8.1; bill .45; wing 2.46; tail 1.94; tarsus .7. 

Distribution. Dreeds in eastern North America from central Minne- 
sota, southern Ontario and Massachusetts to Iowa, northern Illinois, 
northern New Jersey, and in the mountains to northern Georgia. Winters 
from southern Mexico to Guatemala and Colombia. In New York it is 
a rare summer resident on Long Island and in Westchester county, but 
is a fairly common summer resident locally in the highlands and in 
various localities in the Hudson valley, central and western New York, 
especially near Highland Falls (Meams), Greenbush, Rensselaer county 
(Heimstreet) , Medina and Maplewood (Short), Howland Island (F. S. 
Wright), Irondequoit, Monroe county, and West River, Yates county 
(Eaton), Coming (Hollister), Kenwood, near Albany (Richard), Potter 
swamp, Yates county (Burtch and Stone). During the migration season 
it is occasionally observed at various stations in the Hudson valley and 
throughout central and western New York except in the highlands above 
1200 feet. At this season it is also more common on Long Island and 
in the vicinity of New York City, the arrival dates ranging from May 10 
to 17, and the date of departure from the 15th to the 29th of August. 



i 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



387 



Like the Blue-winged warbler, this species is an inhabitant of swampy 
thickets and the second growth of damp bushy fields, but as far as my 
experience goes is not so likely to be found in densely forested regions 
but in open forests with dense growth of shrubbery and always in low 
lying situations. Its song is a " lazy zee-zee-zee" It has also an insect- 
like call note, and a sharp chip alarm note like that of the Chipping sparrow. 
Jacobs says that the song, when 
heard near at hand, sounds like 
the syllables " zee-u-ee\ zee-u-ee\ 
zee-u-ee', zee-u-zwee' ." The nesting 
site is thus described by Mr Stone 
from numerous examples discov- 
ered by himself and Mr Burtch 
in Potter swamp: 

"Until 1905 the Golden-winged 
warbler had not been observed 
here, but as extensive clearings 
had been made in Potter swamp 
(Yates county) an ideal nesting 
area for warblers was created. 
Mourning and Canadian warblers 
became more numerous and in 
1906-7-8 the Golden- winged warb- 
ler was not an uncommon breeder. 

"Since 1908 the clearings have 
rapidly grown up with dense bushes and tangled vines, the old logging 
roads have become obliterated, while the Golden-wings have nearly for- 
saken the place, which is now (191 2) converted into a typical nesting 
haunt for such as the Chestnut-sided warbler and Alder flycatcher. 

" The illustration is a typical nesting of this interesting warbler, the 

nests being placed upon the ground, well concealed at the base of and 

in a bunch of weeds or ferns within the shadow of heavy timber, so that 
25 




Photo by Vcrdi Burtch 
Golden-winged warbler's nest and eggs 



388 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

it is rarely seen until the weeds are parted and the searcher looks directly- 
down upon the nest. 

"It is evident that this warbler begins nest construction about May 20 
as fresh sets are found as early as June 2. The nests are neatly made 
of thin, fiat, broad blades of swamp grass and strips of weed bark, lined 
with fine, round stemlike grasses, giving the interior a reddish appearance. 
Nests measure close to 3^ inches high, 4 inches in diameter outside and 2 
inches deep by 2j diameter inside. 

"Eggs 4 or 5, rarely 6, noticeably rounded in shape, with no gloss and 
variously speckled or spotted mostly with vinaceous-cinnamon." 

Vermivora lawrenci (Herrick) 
Lawrence Warbler 

Plate 93 

Distinguishing characteristics. Like the Blue-winged warbler except the throat 
and cheeks which have the black patches of the Golden-winged warbler. There are different 
degrees of intergrading in the coloration of this form between the Blue-winged and the 
Golden-winged warblers, but the typical Lawrence warbler is practically as stated above. 
Some resemble the Golden-winged warbler more, but all show a greater or less amount of 
yellowish green above and yellow below, with black cheek and throat patches in the male 
or dusky gray in the female, as in the Golden-winged warbler. 

The Lawrence warbler was described as a distinct species and was held for many 
years in the hypothetical list cf the A. O. U., but has now been dropped, the consensus 
of opinion being that it is a hybrid between the species p i n u s and chrysoptera. 
This conclusion is strengthened by the fact that nearly all the specimens of this bird 
which have been procured were taken in the strip of country which represents the over- 
lapping of the Blue-winged and Golden-winged warblers' breeding ranges. Most of these 
specimens come from central and southern Connecticut and extreme southeastern New 
York or northern New Jersey. New York specimens have been recorded from Highland 
Falls, July 7, 1879, a female collected by Colonel Meams (Brewster, N. O. C. Bui., 6: 
220); an adult male from Rye, Westchester county, August 31, 1888, reported by C. J. 
Voorhees (Auk, 5:427); a male from Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, May 8. 1902, 
reported by Doctor Braislin (Auk, 20 : 53) ; a male inated with a female Blue-winged warbler 
was observed by William C. Beebe breeding in Bronx Park, May 15, 1903; on June 16 the 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 389 

young left the nest successfully (Auk, 21:387); on May 18, 1904, he or one of his descend- 
ants returned to the park (Bildersee, Bird Lore 6: 131 ; Hix, Wilson Bui., 51, 41). A male 
was taken at Richmond, Staten Island, May 11, 1907 (Chapin, Auk, 24:343). 

Vermivora leucobronchialis (Brewster) 
Brewster Warbler 

Plate 93 

Distinguishing characteristics. Like the Golden-winged warbler but lacking the 
black patches on the check and throat, having the black eye streak of the Blue-winged 
warbler and sometimes showing more or less traces of yellow on the breast and under parts, 
and traces of j'ellowish green on the back, but retaining the yellow crown and yellow wing 
bars of chrysoptera. 

This interesting warbler is now regarded like the Lawrence warbler as a hybrid between 
the Blue-winged and Golden-winged warblers. It is much more common in collections 
than the Lawrence warbler, numerous examples having been taken in Connecticut and 
southeastern New York, as well as in northern New Jersey, and even eastern Massachusetts. 
Doctor Fisher collected 6 specimens near Ossining, N. Y. (N. O. C. Bui. 4:234; 2:378; 
and 6:219; Auk, 2:378). Mr Howell took a specimen at Parkville, Long Island (Auk, 9: 
306), and another was taken at Nyack (Brewster, N. O. C. Bui. 6:219; Ricker, Auk, 2: 
378). The earliest specimen in New York is evidently a male collected by Bell at Rockland 
in the spring of 1832 (Trotter, N. 0. C. Bui. 44:459; Auk, 2:361). There seems little 
doubt that this warbler is a hybrid like the Lawrence warbler, but unfortunately it has 
not been absolutely determined ujion sufficient observation of birds reared by parents 
of these two species, an observation which could easily be performed if mated birds of 
these species were carefully watched and, instead of collecting the nests and eggs, the young 
birds were studied in the nest, for their early plumages show the characteristic pattern 
of the adults.' 



' Since the foregoing paragraph was written Doctor Faxon has proved satisfactorily that this warbler 
is a hybrid of the Golden-winged and Blue-winged warblers (5ee Mus. Comp. Zool. Mem. 40; 31 and 16). 



390 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Vennivora rubricapilla rubricapilla (Wilson) 
Nashville Warbler 

Plate 93 

Sylvia rubricapilla Wilson. Amer. Om. 1812. 6:15 
Vennivora rubricapilla DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 86, fig. 104 
Vermivora rubricapilla rubricapilla A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 
1910. p. 307. No. 645 
vermivora, Lat., worm-eating; rubricapilla, reddish-haired or reddish-crowned 

Description. Head and back of the neck gray; a chestnut patch on 
the crown, sometimes tinged with gray; eye ring white; back, wings and tail 
(their visible portions) olive green; breast and most of under parts yellow; 
lower belly whitish. Female: Very similar to male but paler and the 
chestnut crown patch smaller or wanting. Fall specimens are browner 
or grayer than in the spring. 

Length 4.5-4.8 inches; extent 7.5; wing 2.33-2.50; tail 1.75-2; bill .36. 

Distribution. Breeds from southern Saskatchewan, central Quebec 
and Cape Breton sotithward to Nebraska, northern Illinois, northern 
New Jersey and Connecticut; winters from southern Texas and Vera 
Cruz to Guatemala. In New York this species is a common transient 
in nearly all portions of the State, arriving in the spring from the ist to 
the 12th of May, usually by the 4th in the southern counties, and rarely 
as early as the 28th of April. The greater ntunber pass farther northward 
between the 20th and 30th of the month. In the fall they return from 
the nesting grounds from the nth to the 30th of August and depart for 
the south from the 5th to the 15th of October. In the northern portions 
of the State it is locally a common summer resident, and locally in the 
■eastern counties which lie in the AUeghanian area — Highland Falls, 
Black Dome, Cohoes. Throughout central and western New York it 
is extremely rare as a summer resident, as far as my experience goes. I 
never met with a breeding pair in any of the western counties of the State, 
although other collectors have secured a few nests containing eggs; Chili, 
E. H. Short; Onondaga county, C. H. Wilder; and South Hill, Tompkins 
county, May 27, 1905, and June 6, 1906 (Reed and Wright, Vertebrates 
of the Cayuga Lake Basin, Am. Phil. Soc. Proc. 48:444). 



I 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 39 1 

Haunts and habits. In the breeding season it seems to prefer a second 
growth of birch and poplar or other deciduous sapUngs in young or open 
woodland. Of its song, Gerald Thayer writes: " It has two main perch 
songs and a flight song, all svibject to a good deal of variation. It belongs 
decidedly among the full-voiced warblers. Its commoner perch song 
consists of a string of 6 or 8 or more lively, rapid notes, suddenly congested 
into a pleasant, rolling twitter lower in key than the first part of the song 
and half as long. In the other perch song, the notes of what correspond 
to the rolling twitter are richer and the second part of the song is longer 
and more noticeable than the first, whose notes are few and slower, v/hile 
the whole is more languidly delivered. The flight song, a fairly common 
perfonnance in late stunmer, is sung from the height of 5 to 40 feet above 
the low treetops. It is like the commoner perch song but more hurried 
and slightly elaborated, often with a few chipperings added at both ends. 
Among the Nashville's calls, a very small, dry "chip,'" and a more metallic, 
louder chip, somewhat Water thrushlike, are noteworthy." 

During the migration season the Nashville is one of our generally 
distributed species, frequenting the blossoming orchards and the deciduous 
shade trees of our lawns and village streets. Even in migration time it 
seems to show a decided preference for rows of white birches or the scattered 
birch trees on village lawns, every tree during the season exhibiting 
each morning from i to 5 or 6 of these warblers among its budding leaves. 
Sometimes during the second week of May the orchards are fairly alive 
with this species, 50 or 60 often being counted in an hour's excursion. 
It is a very restless species, continually peering about among the blossoms 
and foliage and flying from bough to bough or from tree to tree. 

The nest is placed upon the ground, usually at the foot of a bush or 
on a grassy bank in the open woodland. The eggs are white or creamy 
white in ground color, spotted and speckled with reddish brown and lilac 
of different shades, usually forming a distinct wreath, and the average 
dimensions are .64 by .46 inches. Mr C. F. Stone describes the only nest 
he has ever seen in Yates county as follows: "On May 26, 1912, W. A. 



392 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Tuttle conducted me to a nest of the Nashville warbler which was hidden 
by a tuft of dead grass among a growth of sumacs along the edge of a 
sloping field near a hemlock wooded gully. The surroundings were quite 
open. The nest is very flimsy, fragile and shallow-cupped, made of thin 
dead grasses and bits of moss, lined with a few reddish tendrils and hair. 
It contained 5 eggs." 

Vermivora celata celata (Say) 
Orange-crowned Warbler 

Plate 93 • 

Sylvia eclat us Say. In Long's Exped. 1823. i:i6g(note) 
Vermivora celata DcKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 87 
Vermivora celata celata A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 308. 
No. 646 

celata, Lat., concealed, referring to the more or less hidden crown patch 

Description. Upper parts olive green, more or less washed with grayish 
except on the rump which is brightest; a crown patch of orange brown 
more or less concealed by gray and olive green; eye ring and a narrow 
line over the eye dull yellowish; the ovtter tail feathers frequently have 
the inner edge of the inner web margined with whitish; under parts dull 
greenish yellow obscurely streaked with dusky. 

Distribution. Breeds from Alaska to central Keewatin, and Manitoba, 
and in the Rocky mountains locally to New Mexico; winters in the South 
Atlantic and Gulf States and Mexico. In New York this species is only 
a transient visitant, rare in eastern New York in the spring but more 
often observed in the fall. In western New York, however, it is a regular 
migrant, though in small numbers, in the spring, arriving from the 12th 
to the 17th of May, and disappears from the i8th to the 21st. Mr E. S. 
Woodrufif took one at Paul Smith's in the Adirondacks, May 17, 1908. 
In the fall, migration takes place between the 25th of September and the 
1 2th of October. It is decidedly less common than the Tennessee warbler 
both in the spring and fall as would be expected from the remoteness of 
its breeding range to the northwestward. « 

During migration it is found in the orchards, shade trees and groves 

in situations similar to those frequented by the Nashville and Tennessee 

i 
I 



3:83. 


pi. 25, fig. 2 




i844- 


pt 2, p. 85, fig. 


los 


Ed. 3. 


1910. p. 309. 


No. 647 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 393 

warblers. Its call note is a sharp chip. Its song is described by Seton 
as much like that of the Chipping sparrow. Jones describes it as not very- 
high pitched but full and strong, ending abruptly on a rising scale like 
the syllables " chee-chee-chee, chw'-chw'." 

Vermivora peregrina (Wilson) 
Tennessee Warbler 

Plate 93 

Sylvia peregrina Wilson. Amer . Om. 1 8 1 1 . 
Vermivora peregrina DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 

A. 0. U. Check List. 
peregrina, Lat., wandering, alien 

Description. Upper parts bright olive green; the crown and nape 
grayish blue; a whitish line over the eye and usually a dusky line through it; 
inner webs of the 2 outer tail feathers with a margin of white; under parts 
dull white, the breast often tinged with buffy yellowish; sides greenish. 
Female: Similar to the male, but the crown washed with the color of 
the back and the under parts more yellowish. Female and young in the 
fall: Entirely bright olive green above. Adult male in the fall: Less 
distinctly bluish gray on the head and neck and under parts more tinged 
with yellowish. 

Length 4.50-4.80 inches; extent 7.50-8; wing 2.7; tail 1.8; bill .4. 

Distribution. Breeds from southern Mackenzie, central Keewatin, 
southern Ungava and Anticosti to southern British Coliunbia, Manitoba, 
northern Minnesota, Ontario, northern Maine and New Hampshire; 
winters from Oaxaca to Colombia and Venezuela. In New York this 
species is a fairly common transient in the fall, even in the eastern portion 
of the State, but a rare migrant in the spring in southeastern New York, 
though not especially uncommon in the western portions of the State, 
arriving in the spring from the loth to the i8th of May, passing northward 
from the 22d to the 27th, and appearing in the fall from the 15th to the 
31st of August, departing southward from September 25 to October 8. 
The latest edition of the A. O. U. Check List records it as breeding in the 
Adirondacks, as does also Ridgway's " Birds of North and Middle America," 
evidently on the authority of Doctor Merriam's list of Adirondack birds 



394 ■'^'EW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

found in N. O. C. Bui. 6:227; but the full text of Doctor Merriam's notes, 
which was not published in the Bulletin, does not indicate that the nest 
of the Tennessee warbler was found in Lewis county, or that it was even 
seen there later than May 29, which may well be merely a migration date. 
The only other testimony we have which would indicate its breeding in 
New York State is the statement in Roosevelt and Minot's " List of the 
Summer Birds of Franklin county," where it is included doubtfully as 
a breeder. Mr E. H. Short writes that a nest, evidently of this species, 
was found by Mr Robbins at North Cohocton. Thus it is clear that we 
are lacking sufficient evidence to include it as a summer resident of the 
State. It seems probable, however, that it may be found breeding in the 
North Woods as it has been noted both in Maine, New Hampshire and, 
on July 15, 1888, by Faxon on Greylock mountain, Massachusetts. The 
Tennessee warbler is one of those species which breed most abundantly 
in the interior of the boreal zone, and like the Connecticut and Orange- 
crowned warblers, which it resembles in this respect, is much more common 
in New York during the fall migration, although, as stated before, it occurs 
regularly in western New York during the spring. 

Haunts and habits. Like the Nashville, it nests upon the ground, 
but according to the testimony of Brewster and others it is found during 
the nesting season in thick growths of black spruce, balsam, mountain 
ash and other trees of that association. During the migration it is found 
more among the deciduous trees, as is the Nashville warbler. Its song, 
as described by Farwell in Chapman's " Warblers of North America," 
is " very loud, beginning with a sawing, two-noted trill, rather harsh and 
very staccato, but hesitating in character increasing to a rapid trill almost 
exactly like a Chipping sparrow, a noticeable but not musical song." 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 395 

Compsothlypis americana americana (Linnaeus) 
Panda Warbler 

Plate Q4 

Parus americanus Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:190 
Compsothlypis americana americana A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 
1910. p. 309. No. 648 

compsothlypis, Gr., xoixtj«5<;, exquisite, and OXuu((;, an unknown bird 

Distinguishing characteristics. Duller than the Northern parula, 
the dusky chest band indistinct or wanting; no conspicuous chestnut or 
reddish on the breast; bill longer; size smaller. 

Wing cf 2.3, 9 2.18 inches; tail cT 1.68, 9 1.56; bill .44. 

According to the A. O. U. Check List, this subspecies ranges from the 
District of Columbia south to Alabama and Florida, wintering probably 
in Florida and the West Indies. The subspecies grades almost imper- 
ceptibly into the subspecies u s n e a e , but Ridgway, in his " Birds of North 
and Middle America," part 2, page 482, states that numerous specimens 
of the Parula warbler from Ossining and Shelter Island must be assigned 
to the southern subspecies. It may, therefore, be considered an inhabitant 
of New York State in the coastal district, but can be distinguished from 
the common northern form only by careful measurement and comparison 
with museum specimens. 

Compsothlypis americana usneae Brewster 

Northern Parula Warbler 

Compsothlypis americana usneae Brewster. Auk. Jan. 1896. 13 : 44 
Sylvicola americana Dc Kay. Zool. N. Y. pt 2, p. 97, fig. 108 
Compsothlypis americana usneae A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 
p. 309. No. 648a 

americ&na, American 

Description. Upper parts ashy blue; middle of the back with a greenish 
yellow patch; lores dusky; an incomplete eye ring; wings and tail blackish 
bvit edged with the color of the upper parts; 2 broad white iving bars; 2 
outer tail feathers with large white patches on the inner webs near the tip; 
throat and breast yellow; an orange brown and blackish collar band crossing 



396 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

the lower throat; lower belly white. Female: Like the male but duller 
in coloration ; the blue more or less veiled with greenish. Young: Resemble 
the female. 

Length 4.50-4.75 inches; extent 7-7.50; wing d' 2.^2, 9 2.25; tail 
cf 1.7, 9 1.62; bill .41. 

Distribution. Breeds from northern Minnesota, central Ontario, 
and Cape Breton, to Texas, Alabama and Virginia. Winters in the West 
Indies, Mexico and Central America. This species breeds throughout 
New York State, but is local in distribution during the nesting season, 
being confined to swamps and gullies which produce a growth of gray 
moss or usnea. It is probably commoner as a breeding species in the swamps 
of Long Island and in the Catskill and Adirondack districts than in other 
portions of the State, although I have noticed a few pairs nesting in the 
gullies of the Finger Lake region and in various scattered peat swamps 
of western New York. In the North Woods it is fairly common, as I 
noticed in the swamps about the Ausable lakes, Elk lake and the Boreas 
ponds and as my assistants found in nearly every portion of the Adirondacks, 
yet it is by no means generally distributed in the North Woods, but almost 
entirely confined to the swamps. During the migration season it is a 
common transient in nearly all portions of the State, arriving in the spring 
from the ist to the loth of May, the average date in southern New York 
being the 5th, but sometimes appearing by the 26th or 27th of April. In 
the fall the return migration begins the 15th to the 31st of August and 
ends between the 5th and the 20th of October. 

Haunts and habits. During the migrations, the Parula warbler 
associates with the Dendroicas among the foliage of our shade trees and 
orchards, being most common about the time of the bursting of the apple 
blossoms, usually seen in about equal abundance with the Chestnut-sided 
warbler in most localities of central New York. As soon as he reaches 
his summer home, however, he is practically confined to the swamps and 
bogs of the Catskills and Adirondacks, and the damper localities of our 
swamps and ravines in western New York, and in similar situations along 
the coastal district, preferring, during the nesting season, evergreen trees, 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 397 

although occasionally found in mixed groves where the deciduous species 
predominate. It is practically confined to the localities where usnea moss 
is fairly abundant, although in the ravines on Canandaigua and Seneca 
and Cayuga lakes I have found it nesting where the atmosphere was damp 
on the south side of the gully and the hemlocks rather abundant, but 
almost no usnea was visible. In the Adirondacks we found it in the spruce 
swamps where this moss was particularly abundant. The nest is almost 
always concealed in a large hanging bunch of usnea, largely composed of 
filaments of the bunch itself as it hangs from the twigs, but also interwoven 
with soft plant fibers and bits of usnea brought from neighboring trees. 
The nest is thus pensile and softly lined with cottony substances. 

" The salient feature of the Parula warbler's song in all its many 
variations is a guttural buzz. The song may be one uninterrupted buzz 
uttered in an evenly accented scale or broken into separate notes at the 
beginning or end; but the buzz is always apparent in some portion and 
always serves to distinguish it from the song of Dendroica black- 
bur niae, which sometimes approaches it quite closely in form. The 
call is a chip not very characteristic " (Thayer MSS.). Chapman has 
characterized the song of the Parula warbler very aptly as a "sizzling gurgle." 

Dendroica tigrina (Gmelin) 
Cape May Warbler 

Plate ys 

Motacilla tigrina Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1789. 1:985 
Sylvicola maritima DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 104, fig. 132 
Dendroica tigrina A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 310. No. 650 
dendroica, from Gr., meaning tree inhabitant; tigrina, Lat., striped 

Description. Adult male: Side of neck bright yellow; a conspicuous 
chestnut or orange-rufous ear patch which frequently reaches forward both 
below and above the eye; crown black; rump yellow; back greenish olive 
spotted or obscurely streaked with black; under parts principally yellow, 
changing to white on the belly, conspicuously streaked on the breast and 
sides with black; wings and tail black edged with the olive green color of 
the back; a conspicuous white wing patch formed by the tips of the greater 



398 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

and lesser wing coverts, sometimes tending to form 2 white wing bars. 
Adult female: Upper parts grayish olive; under parts yellowish white streaked 
on the breast and sides with blackish but much less conspicuously than 
in the male; wing bars grayish white, not forming the conspicuous white 
patch seen in the male; side of the neck and line over the eye and rump 
vary from yellowish to olive green. Young male: Lacks the black crown 
and chestnut ear patches ; upper parts grayish olive green obscurely spotted 
with black; rump dingy yellow; the wing bars grayish white; under parts 
dull yellow streaked less conspicuously than in the adult. Young female: 
Similar to the adult female but less yellow and the streaks more obscure. 
Adult males and females are both more obscurely colored in the fall 
plumage, being tinged with grayish. The adult female similar to the spring, 
but yellower on the rump and more tinged with whitish on belly. 

Length 5-5.2 inches; extent 8.32; bill .3; wing 2.62-2.7; tail 1.9; 
tarsus .75. 

Distribution. The Cape May warbler ranges in summer from Nova 
Scotia, New Brunswick, Hudson bay and Great Slave lake, southward 
to the northern portion of Maine, northern New Hampshire, Minnesota 
and westward to Manitoba and Assiniboia. It has been reported on good 
authority that a few breed in the island of Jamaica. The winter range 
of the species is the West Indies and Central America. 

In New York State this species is only a transient visitant and for 
more than a century has been considered a rare species, but of recent years 
has apparently increased perceptibly in numbers so that for the last 3 or 
4 years it has been a positively common migrant in various sections of 
western New York, as I have found it in Monroe, Ontario and Erie counties. 
On several mornings in the spring of 191 2, the author was able to see, 
within a space of two hours, from 12 to 20 different individuals each 
morning, often as many as 8 or 10 males being in sight at the same time. 
I believe that this really indicates an increase in the species and that it 
has not been overlooked in past years as it is quite conspicuous and easy 
to observe wherever it occurs, and is one of the most frequently reported 
by amateur observers who are unfamiliar with it, but are able to describe 
it so that it can be positively recognized. The migrations in New York 
begin between the 4th and the loth of May. In some portions, however. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 399 

it is not reported earlier than the 20th. The average date of arrival for 
several years has been May 9 in western New York. Between the 20th 
and 30th of May it disappears on its northward migration. After the 
20th of the month very few, if any, males are seen; but on Decoration day, 
during 2 or 3 years of my experience, I have seen from 3 to 5 females near 
the southern shore of Lake Ontario in Monroe county. Although, as 
stated above, this warbler is known to breed in corresponding latitudes, 
we have been unable as yet to record it positively as a breeding species 
in the Adirondack district, although the author searched for it diligently 
during the spring and summer of 1905, and various bird students who are 
perfectly familiar with the species have looked for it in the same region 
without success. In the fall, migration begins between the 5th and the 
1 2th of September and the last of the species is usually seen between the 
15th and the 20th of that month. 

Haunts and habits. This warbler is slower and more deliberate in 
movements than most of the genus Dendroica, but it seems to have a pre- 
dilection for the tree tops during the migration season, although I have 
seen it in considerable nvimbers in cherry orchards and shrubbery, especially 
on cool, damp mornings. Brewster and Gerald Thayer have both called 
attention to the fact that it is a loud and persistent singer, and that it 
frequently remains in isolated trees near houses during the migration. 
Its song has been called a " remarkable jingling noise," and some have 
considered it usually a mute species, which has been the author's experience 
with the migrating birds of western New York. On its breeding grounds, 
however, the song is fairly conspicuous, resembUng considerably the Black 
and white warbler's penetrating note. Comparatively little is known of 
its breeding habits, but most of the nests found have been placed in low, 
evergreen trees, usually in rather open fields or pastures. The nest is 
rather loosely and roughly constructed, though more compact than that 
of the Magnolia, according to Chamberlain, and " the lining is almost 
entirely of horse hair, the brim being turned with exquisite grace." The 
eggs have been compared in ground color to those of the Magnolia warbler, 



400 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

but the Cape May's are less pyriform and the point less acute. The 
markings are different shades of lilac and reddish brown, and the dimensions 
of the eggs average .67 by .49 inches. 

Dendroica aestiva aestiva (Gmelin) 
Yellow Warbler 

Plate 95 

Motacilla aestiva Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1789. 1:996 
Sylvicola aestiva DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 99, fig. 130 
Dendroica aestiva aestiva A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 311. 
No. 652 

aestiva, Lat., summer 

Description. Color principally yellow; the head and under parts 
rich golden yellow streaked on the breast and sides with rufous or reddish 
brown; upper parts principally greenish yellow; wings and tail dusky, but 
margined and overlaid with the color of the back; inner webs of the tail 
feathers yellow; wing bars yellow. Female: Decidedly less yellow than 
the male; upper parts a yellowish olive green ; under parts much paler yellow 
than the male and the reddish brown streaks scarcely discernible. Fall 
plumage: Less bright than in the spring, especially on the top of the head 
and under parts, the reddish brown streaks obscured. Young in the fall 
resemble the adults but streaks on the under parts mostly wanting. 

Length 5.1 inches; extent 7.8; bill .4; wing 2.43; tail 1.9; tarsus .74. 

Distribution. This species inhabits the greater portion of the United 
States and British America with the exception of the southwestern states 
and the Florida peninstila. It is also absent from the Arctic zone and the 
higher portions of the mountains. It spends the winter from southern 
Mexico to Peru and Brazil. In New York it is a common summer resident 
in all portions of the State except the spruce and balsam forests of the 
Catskills and Adirondacks, but it penetrates those regions as far as the 
clearings and river valleys extend. The spring migration begins between 
April 18 and May 9, the average date for southeastern New York being 
May I, and for northern New York, May 5. In western New York it 
rarely appears before the 23d of April. In the fall it is last seen between 
the 2d and 20th of September. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 4OI 

Haunts and habits. The Yellow warbler or Summer yellow bird is 
the most familiar member of the family, inhabiting our gardens, shrubbery 
and shade trees, making its nest even among the parks and trees of 
the city streets. It seems to be one of the merriest and mildest in dis- 
position of the whole warbler family and is commonly regarded as a bit 
of the sunshine which it resembles. Its cheery song of " wee-chee, wee- 
chee, wee-chee " or " weechee, chee, chee, chur-wee," or " sweet, sweet, sweet, 
sweetie " being well known to bird lovers throughout the State. According 
to Bicknell the song period lasts from late in April through the month of 
July, sometimes nearly until the middle of August, but in my experience 
its song is rarely heard after the 12th of July; but after the song has ceased 
there is no period of revival before the warbler's departure in the fall. 
The common call note of the Yellow warbler heard in the spring is " dzt," 
so common to many members of the family, and a mild chip similar to 
that of the Parula warbler. 

The nest is usually placed in a shrub or low tree within a few feet of 
the ground, but sometimes is found in the branches 30 or even 40 
feet above the ground. It is a neatly woven, symmetrical, cup-shaped 
structure of fine vegetable fibers, especially the bark of the milkweed, 
fine grasses and down from willows, poplars, ferns and various other plants, 
lined with fine grasses, plant down, hairs, and feathers. The eggs are 4 
or 5 in number, of a grayish white or pale greenish ground color, rather 
thickly sprinkled with spots, blotches and irregular markings of vunber, 
black, lilac and purplish, usually tending to form a wreath near the larger 
end. They average .69 by .50 inches in size. The first sets in southern 
New York are completed from May 17 to 30, and about a week later in 
the northern counties. Sets are frequently found also from the 20th to 
the 30th of June, or even the loth of July, indicating that a second brood 
is probably reared in many instances. This species is one of those most 
frequently selected by the Cowbird as a foster mother for its offspring, 
but the warbler often outwits the Cowbird by building a second 
lining over the intruder's egg and laying her own on the new lining, thus 



402 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

forming a two-story nest, or, in one or two cases which have been called 




Photo by Ralph S. Paddock 
Yellow warbler's nest and eggs, with egg of Cowbird 

to my attention, even a three-story nest, so that the egg of the Cowbird 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 403 

is not hatched and the warbler's brood is saved from destruction. Although 
I have noticed many of our native birds desert their nests when they have 
been parasitized by the Cowbird, the Yellow warbler is the only one that 
I have noticed which builds a new lining over the interloper's egg. 

The food of the Yellow warbler consists largely of smooth caterpillars, 
plant lice, small beetles, various flies, especially the Ephemeridae and the 
smaller Hymenoptera. During the migration season I have watched the 
Yellow warbler in company with other species devouring plant lice in 
apple trees and shade trees about our lawns, and, before the young have 
left the nest, have noticed them bringing large numbers of measuring 
worms and green caterpillars, gall flies and lake flies. Aside from the 
destruction of a few beneficial beetles and parasitic Hymenoptera, this 
beautifvxl little bird does no damage at all and in general it must be con- 
sidered a very beneficial species, and it is at the same time one of the 
most beautiful and interesting of those which nest about our gardens and 
orchards. 

Dendroica caerulescens caerulescens (GmeUn) 
Black-throated Blue Warbler 

Plate 94 

Motacilla caerulescens Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1 789. i : 960 

Sylvicola canadensis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 98, fig. 109 and 

131 
Dendroica caernlescens caerulescens A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3 . 
1910. p. 312. No. 654 

caerulescens, Lat., bluish, beginning to be blue 

Description. Adult male: Upper parts grayish blue; cheeks, throat and 
sides black; lower breast and belly pure white; wings and tail blackish but 
edged and overlaid with the color of the back so that when closed the whole 
upper parts seem nearly uniform in color; a conspicuous white spot in 
the wing formed by the white bases of the primaries; the 3 outer tail 
feathers with conspicuous white spots on their inner webs. Adult female: 
An inconspicuous, neutral colored warbler; upper parts dusky olive green 
with only a tinge of bluish on the crown and tail; an obscure whitish line 
over the eye; dingy white spot in the wing at the base of the primaries in 
the same position as the pure white spot in the male's wing; under parts 
26 



404 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

pale buffy whitish; outer tail feathers with white spots. Young female: Similar 
to the adult but greener above with no trace of bluish; white wing spot 
barely discernible; white in the tail much reduced. 

Distribution. Eastern North America from Hudson bay and New- 
foundland south to the Northern States, and in the highlands and mountains 
to Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Its breeding 
range in New York State is shown by distribution map on page 25, volvune 
I, of this work. In all parts of the State where it is not a summer resident 
it is a common or even an abundant transient, arriving in the spring from 
April 25 to May 8 and passing northward from May 20 to 30, reappearing 
in the fall from August 2j to September 17, and departing for the south 
from September 28 to October 17. On rare occasions it will be noted as 
late as the 20th or 30th of November. Throughout the Catskill and 
Adirondack districts it is a common summer resident, but prefers mostly 
the deciduous and mixed woodlands to the forests of spruce and balsam. 
On the colder hillsides and guUeys of central and western New York it is 
rather scarce as a breeding species, but nearly every ravine in the central 
lake district has from one to three pairs of breeding birds. 

Haunts and habits. The Black-throated blue warbler, though not so 
brilliantly colored as many members of the family, is one of the neatest 
and best groomed of all the warblers. He usually arrives in our State 
before the foliage of our deciduous trees is formed, and as he flies from 
bough to bough or from bush to bush he displays to fine advantage the 
clear black and white and blue coloration, the white spots in the wing 
and tail flashing like the wings of a butterfly. He carries his wings and 
tail partially spread somewhat in the manner of the Redstart. His song, 
though very versatile, is among the thinnest and most nonmelodious of 
the family. Gerald Thayer has noted several different variations of the 
strain beside the " zwee-zwee-zwee " so often found in the bird books. One 
of the songs he compares to the explosive song of the Blue- winged warbler, 
resembling the syllables " swee-chir-r-r-r-r " or " wher-w-e-e-e-e-e"; another 
is " wher-wher-whee-ee " uttered with deliberation; another he renders by 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 4O5 

the syllables " hi-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi " ending in a high-pitched long drawn 
"wliee-ee"; another he writes " bzzz-bzzz-hzzz-bzzz-bzzz," a " weak, insectlike 
grating." In all these variations Mr Thayer recognizes a " characteristic, 
full-voiced huskiness " which distinguishes the species. John Burroughs's 
description of the first known nest of this species, discovered in Delaware 
county, is found in his " Locusts and Wild Honey." The eggs are usually 
of a buffy white or light greenish ground color, blotched and spotted with 
reddish brown and lilac, often forming a wreath near the larger end, but 
sometimes evenly distributed over the entire egg. They average .67 by 
.51 inches in size. Mr Clarence F. Stone describes the nests found near 
Branchport by himself and Mr Burtch, as follows: The nest is usually 
placed near the ground in a low sapling amidst a fairly dense growth of 
underbrush, especially in woods of beech and maple with a slight admix- 
ture of pine or hemlock. 

Some years this warbler is a common summer resident, other years 
very uncommon. Its abundance seems to depend upon whether there are 
clearings in woods that offer the kind of nesting situations suited to its 
tastes. In this locality the Black-throated blue warblers prefer clearings 
amidst hemlock woods or along hemlock-clad gully banks where there 
are dense underbrush, bushes and stump sprouts bearing multitudes of 
large leaves. 

The male is not so nervously active or demonstrative at any time as 
many other warblers. The female is extremely shy when flushed from the 
nest, so that it requires some time to get a good look at her. This warbler's 
nest often contains an egg of the Cowbird. 

The nests are variously attached to slender scrubby bushes, 8 to 30 
inches up, usually very close to trails or old wood roads. They are very 
neat, compact, thick walled, and made outside of shreds of weed bark, 
bleached blades of grass, beech buds, with lining of fine brown colored 
rootlet fibers and horse hair. A constant characteristic of this warbler's 
nest is the decoration of decayed, spongy pieces of light colored wood 
fastened to outside by strands of spider's web. 



406 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Dendroica coronata (Linnaeus) 
Myrtle Warbler 

Plate 94 

Motacilla coronata Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 12. 1766. 1:333 
Sylvicola coronata DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 88, fig. 103 
Dendroica coronata A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 312. No. 655 

coronata, Lat., crowned 

Description. Adult male: A yellow patch on the center of the crown, 
on the rump and on each side of the breast; upper parts bluish gray streaked 
with black; cheeks black ; throat white; breast largely black running down each 
side below the yellow patches; center of the belly and under tail coverts 
white; flank streaked with black; 3 pairs of outer tail feathers with con- 
spicuous white spots; 2 conspicuous white wing bars. Adult female in spring : 
Pattern of coloration similar to the male's, but the bluish gray replaced by 
brownish; the breast less extensively black ; the flanks less heavily streaked ; 
the yellow patches on the crown and sides sometimes obscured, but the 
rump patch is as conspicuous as in the male. Male in the fall : Similar to 
the spring female but browner. Young: Similar to the male and female 
in fall plumage, but the crown and breast patches usually obscured. 

Length 5.65 inches; extent 9.05; bill .35; wing 2.9; tail 2.2; tarsus .71. 

Distribution. Breeds from the limit of trees in Alaska and Labrador 
to Maine, northern New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, western 
Massachusetts, northern Michigan, Minnesota and British Colimibia. In 
New York the breeding range is apparently confined to the spruce belt 
of the Catskills and Adirondacks. Its breeding at Utica and Buffalo 
which has been reported has never been confirmed by later observation 
although it may occasionally, like other species, breed casually in various 
parts of the State. The winter range extends from Cape Elizabeth in 
Maine, eastern Massachusetts, southeastern New York, southern Illinois, 
southward to the West Indies, Mexico and Panama. Throughout New 
York this is one of the commonest of the warblers in migration time, 
arriving from the 5th to the 17th of April in the southeastern portion of 
the State, from April 17 to 28 in central and western New York, April 26 
to 30 in Essex county. In central New York it is commonest during the 
first 10 days of May, and passes northward from the 20th to the 28th of 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 407 

May. In the vicinity of New York City it passes northward between the 
loth and 20th of May. During the migration season it is evident that 
the males precede the females, as is the case with many birds. Sometimes 
a flock of 20 or 30 males is seen during the third week of April and during 
the second and third weeks of May almost nothing but females are found. 
In the fall the southward migration is sometimes noted as early as the 
1 6th of August, but usually in central New York between the 20th and 
28th of September; in the vicinity of New York City, from the ist to the 
7th of October, whereas the departure of the greater number for the south 
occurs between the 25th of October and the nth of November. 

Haunts and habits. The Myrtle warbler is found in the spring 
mostly in deciduous woods, often feeding in the tops of oaks, chestnuts 
and maples, but in the fall it is commoner in the thick growths of bushes 
along the edges of swamps and cedar thickets and feeds largely on the 
berries of the wax myrtle which have given it its common name. The 
remainder of the year its food consists almost entirely of insects, during 
the early part of the season, especially of cocoons, larvae and eggs which 
it seeks about the buds and branches of trees. In the summer it frequents 
the coniferous forests of the Canadian zone of the Catskills and Adirondacks, 
being the most abundant warbler breeding on the higher slopes of the 
mountains, as far up as the stunted spruces on the summits of Skylight, 
Haystack, Marcy and Whiteface, associating there with the BlackpoUed 
warbler and the Junco. 

The common call note heard in the spring is a characteristic " tchip."^ 
Another is noted by Allison, which he writes " sweet " with rising inflection. 
The song is not heard in its full volume till late in the migration season 
or on the breeding ground, but begins in the southern states in March. 
According to Thayer it has " a loud and silvery sleighbell trill," " a vivid 
spritely utterance." Sometimes he utters a deliberate phrase of 3 or 4 
well-separated syllables having the usual tone and volume but lacking 
sometimes only in part, the jingling tremolo. 

The nest of the Myrtle warbler is usually placed in a low coniferous 



408 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

tree only a few feet from the ground. It is a rather loose and bulky nest 
of dead twigs from spruces and hemlocks, grass stems, a few leaves, lined 
with fine roots and hair and usually a number of feathers. The eggs are 
from 3 to 5 in number, dull white to creamy white in ground color, spotted 
and blotched with reddish brown, lavender and a few purplish black marks. 
The average size is .70 by .53 inches. The date of nesting in Essex county 
is May 30 to June 15. 

Dendroica magnolia (Wilson) 
Magnolia Warbler 

P!a'c gy 

Sylvia magnolia Wilson. Amer. Orn. 181 1. 3:63. pi. 23, fig. 2 
Sylvicola maculosa DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 90, fig. 112 
Dendroica magnolia A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p- 313. No. 657 
luafiiidHa. named from the magnolia tree which it frequents 

Description. Predominant colors black, yellow and white. Adult 
male: Back, cheeks, frontlet and upper tail coverts black; croivn and back 
of the neck bluish gray; wings blackish edged with gray and with broad 
white wing bar; rump and under parts bright yellow; heavily streaked on 
the breast and sides ivith black; tail black with a broad basal zone of white 
formed by the white inner edges of the feathers except the central pair 
extending from the base half or two-thirds of the way to the tip. Adult 
female: Duller than the male; back olive green spotted with black- the 
whole upper parts more or less tinged with gray; under parts lighter yellow 
and less heavily marked with black. Male in the fail: Brownish gray 
on the crown and neck; back olive green indistinctly streaked; rump and 
tail as in spring; breast and sides marked with concealed black streaks 
very different from the spring. Female in fall: Upper parts mostly 
brownish olive green; sides with a few obscure black streaks; dusky band 
across the upper breast. 

Length 4.75-5 inches; extent 7-7.5; wing 2.2-2.5; tail 2; bill .35. 

Distribution. Breeds from southern Mackenzie, Keewatin, northern 
Quebec and Newfoundland to central Alberta, Saskatchewan, Minnesota, 
northern Michigan and northern Massachusetts; in the mountains to 
Maryland and Virginia. Winters from southern Mexico to Panama. In 
New York it is a common summer resident of the Canadian zone in the 
Catskills and Adirondacks and breeds sparingly in the swamps, gullies and 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



409 



cooler hillsides of central, western and southwestern New York. Through- 
out the State it is a common transient, arriving from the 3d to the 14th of 
May ; average date for western and southeastern New York, May 9, rarely 
appearing as early as the 28th of April. In southeastern New York and the 
lowlands of central and western New York it disappears between the 22d 
and 31st of May, to reappear again the middle to the last of August, 
and passes southward from the ist to the 12th of October. The present 




Magnolia warbler's nest and eggs 



Photo by Clarence F. Stone 



breeding range of this species is shown by a map, page 26, volume i, of 
this work. 

Haunts and habits. Throughout the migration season the Magnolia 
warbler is common throughout our orchards and shade trees, as well as 
the woodlands. It flutters about considerably while pursuing winged 
insects, displaying its brilliant black, yellow and white coloration, spreading 
the tail and showing the broad basal band of white which sometimes will 



410 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

distinguish it at a long distance through the grove. It is also one of our 
full-voiced warblers, the song resembling the syllables " wee-to, wee-to, 
wee-e-tee," or " witchi, witchi, witchi, tit, witchi-tit, witchi-tit, witchi-tit " the 
first four words deliberate and even, the last three hurried and higher 
pitched. Aberrant songs also noted by Mr Thayer are " ter-whiz, ivee-it" 
and another " wee-yer, wee-yer, wee-yer." The song is louder than the Yel- 
low warbler's, and in addition it has several " chips " which are scarcely 
distinguishable from other species, and a more characteristic call note with a 
slight metallic ring, " 'tlep. Hep." 

In its nesting grounds, this warbler prefers coniferous growth, especially 
young spruces, which crowd the edges of the northern swamp or appear 
in slashings, burnt lands and pastures. The nest is almost invariably 
placed in a low spruce tree only a few feet above the ground, and is con- 
structed of dead twigs of spruce and hemlock, pine needles, grasses and 
downy substances, and lined with fine rootlets. The eggs are 3 to 6 in 
number, usually 4, of a dull, creamy white ground color with spots and 
blotches of reddish brown, chestnut, purplish and lilac, often heavily covered, 
at other times forming a wreath near the larger end. The average size 
is .66 by .48 inches. Mr C. F. Stone thus describes the nests which are 
found in the gullies of the Finger Lake region: " Every hemlock-clad 
gully or hemlock woods where the trees are close and limbs intertwined 
afford suitable haunts for this lively and emphatic singer, for the Magnolia 
is one of our most agile warblers and utters its two songs, with their 
variations, in a clear, loud, emphatic enunciation. Among the smaller 
gullies I or 2 pairs may be found, and in the larger gullies it is not unvisual 
to locate 12 or 15 pairs during the nesting period. In some of these 
situations the Magnolia does not seem to occur, perhaps because it is so 
persecuted by red squirrels and cowbirds. The latter seems to make 
a specialty of presenting this warbler with one or more of its eggs, generally 
puncturing the eggs of the Magnolia before leaving the nest. The nest- 
building of this species begins by May 25 and fresh eggs are found by 
June 2 to 15. In this locality the nests are usually situated anywhere 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 4II 

from 6 to 15 feet above the ground and from 4 to 15 feet from the body 
of the tree in a tangle of branches. Rarely do they select other than hem- 
lock trees, but I found one nest in the forks of a maple bush in a thick 
undergrowth among hemlocks. Another was placed in the top of a scrub 
beech through which a hemlock limb extended. While the Magnolia 
is one of the most beautiful warblers, agile in actions and energetic in song, 
it is a very shabby nestbuilder, lacking by far the skill and neatness dis- 
played by the Black- throated green. The nests are made of hemlock twig- 
lets very loosely interwoven and mingled with grass stems, fine root fibers, 
always lined with plenty of horse hair. The nests are also decorated on 
the outside with brown and white woolly substances." 

Dendroica cerulea (Wilson) 
Cerulean Warbler 

Plate 94 

Sylvia cerulea Wilson. Amcr. Orii. iSio. 2:141. pi. 17, fig. 5 
Sylvicola caerulea DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 92, fig. 107 
Dendroica cerulea A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 314- No. 658 

cerulea, Lat., sky blue 

Description. Adult male: Upper parts blue, the back slightly streaked 
with blackish; crown richer blue and with a few dark markings; under 
parts pure white streaked in a band across the breast and on the sides with 
black; ear patch dusky; eyelids and line over the eye white; wings and 
tail blackish, edged with the color of the back; the tail with small white 
spots on the outer feathers near the tip and the wings with 2 broad white 
bars formed by the greater and median coverts. Adult female: Much less 
blue on the upper parts than the male; more grayish in hue and tinged, 
especially on the back, with greenish; line over the eye and under parts 
pale yellowish instead of white and only very indistinctly streaked on the 
sides. Young resemble the female. 

Length 4-4.5 inches; wing 2.65; tail 1.95. 

Distribution. Breeds from southeastern Minnesota, southern Michigan 
and southern Ontario, western New York and western Pennsylvania and 
central Delaware to West Virginia, central Alabama, Louisiana and eastern 
Texas. The breeding range in New York is shown by map on page 26. 



412 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

It is locally a common summer resident in various localities of central 
and western New York, especially Tonawanda swamp, Rowland island, 
Potter swamp, Penfield swamp, Stockbridge hill and many open deciduous 
woodlands of the central lowland. In eastern and southeastern New York 
this species is extremely rare, only three migration dates coming from New 
York City. A single summer date, Hyde Park, July 4, 1895, comes from 
Lispenard Horton. Evidently it has invaded this State from the Mississippi 
valley and its migrations each year follow this route. It arrives from the 
3d to the 14th of May, the 5th being the average date on its breeding 
grounds in Yates county. No reliable dates of departure are before me. 
Personally, I have never seen it later than the third week in August. 

Haunts and habits. Mr Stone thus describes the breeding habits of 
the Cerulean in Potter swamp: " They are numerous in the maple woods 
on the hillsides overlooking the swamp, as well as in the swamp itself, 
and in the vicinity of Branchport they also occur in isolated pairs during 
the nesting season. In the heavily timbered Urbana and Scottsville swamp 
about 5 miles south of Prattsburg they also occur, but less commonly 
than in the Potter swamp. The Cerulean spends most of its time cavorting 
through the highest tree tops in the most lively manner, singing almost 
constantly its ' zwee-zwee, zwee, wee-ee,' during the nesting season. During 
rainy days they descend to the lower limbs where they may easily be 
observed. When gathering nest materials they give no heed to the presence 
of htiman beings but fly to the ground or along the logs and fallen trees 
within a dozen feet, carrying the materials directly to the nest. This is 
situated anywhere from 15 to 60 feet above the ground and on all sorts 
of limbs from 20 inches to 20 feet from the body of the tree. Sometimes 
they sit squarely on a big limb; again in the fork of a limb just like the 
Wood pewee; and again, 15 to 20 feet out in the tip end of a branch. I have 
found nests almost concealed in a thick cluster of twigs on the knotty 
portion of a horizontal branch. The nests are sometimes very shabby 
and fragile, but usually they are works of art, made of strands of weed 
bark, wild grapevine bark, fine grasses, lined with fine reddish rootlets 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 413 

and tendrils, giving the interior a decidedly ruddy appearance. It is 
characteristic of the Cerulean's nest to be more or less decorated on the 
outside with a sort of whitish lichen and I have never found a nest that 
did not have this ornamentation. Other materials are also used, as duck 
down, small feathers, feathers of the Cerulean itself, horse hair, dead wood, 
pieces of moss and spider cells. Nestbuilding begins about May 22. Full 
sets are found as early as May 28, but the usual date for complete sets 
is June 4 to 6. The eggs in this locality are usually 4 in number, sometimes 
5." They are pale bluish white or greenish in ground color, speckled 
quite uniformly with reddish brown and lilac. In size they average .69 
by .52 inches. 

Dendroica pensylvanica (Linnaeus) 
Chestnut-sided Warbler 

Plate 96 

Motacilla pensylvanica Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 12. 1766. 1:333 
Sylvicola icterocephala DoKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 102, fig. 134 
Dendroica pensylvanica A. O. U. Check I.,ist. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 314. No. 659 

pensylvanica, of Pennsylvania 

Description. Crown plain yellow; sides of the head and neck and 
under parts pure white; black patch in front of the eye sending a black 
line back above the eye bordering the yellow crown and another down 
the side of the throat bordering the white cheek patch; broad streaks of 
chestnut run from the sides of the throat entirely down both sides; back 
streaked with pale yellow or yellowish white and black; wing bars usually 
fused into a large white wing patch. Adult female: Similar but colors 
less distinct; loral spot usually wanting, and the chestnut streaks thin or 
obscure. Fall plumage, male: Greenish yellow above obscurely streaked with 
black; side of the head gray; sides, wings and tail as in the spring. Female 
in the fall, and young: Similar to the adult male in fall plumage, but the 
back greenish and less distinctly streaked and the chestnut on the sides 
obscure or wanting. 

Length 5.14 inches; extent 7.8-8.1 ; wing 2.45; tail 2; tarsus .72; bill .35. 

Distribution. Breeds from Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba, 
central Ontario and Newfoundland to Rhode Island, New Jersey, northern 
Ohio, Illinois and eastern Nebraska, and southward in the mountains to 
Tennessee and South Carolina. In New York this species is a common 



414 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

or abundant transient visitant in nearly all parts of the State, arriving 
from the 3d to the 9th of May, sometimes as early as the 2d, at other times 
as late as the 12th. The main troop of migrants has passed northward 
from the southern counties from the 19th to the 30th of May, returning 
in the fall from the 15th to the 30th of August, and passing south from the 
1 8th to the 30th of September, sometimes as late as the loth of October. 
It also breeds in all portions of New York State, though uncommonly 
on Long Island and only locally in the southeastern portions of the State; 
but throughout the AUeghanian and Canadian zones it is a common sum- 
mer resident, especially in the bushy pastures of eastern, central and western 
New York and the outskirts of the Adirondacks, its distribution varying 
considerably in different years, dependent upon the season and the char- 
acteristic cover to be found. A considerable increase of slashings and 
brambly thickets in any section of the State is almost sure to be followed 
by a decided increase in the numbers of this species as summer residents. 

Haunts and habits. The Chestnut-sided warbler nests about the 
edges of woods, bushy pastures and neglected roadsides, usually in wilder 
and more deserted situations than those frequented by the Yellow warbler. 
It is partial to the deciduous bushland throughout the hillsides of western 
New York; rarely found within the depths of the forest or where there is 
any considerable admixture of evergreens. Its hunting ground, as Gerald 
Thayer writes, lies between the ground and the tops of the small deciduous 
trees. 

Its song is a " full-voiced warble." Two types are distinguishable, 
" both too liquid to be suggested by any set syllables except the clearly 
enunciated ending of one of them which may be written ' wee-chew, tit- 
a-wit-a-wit-a-wit-we chew,' being something like the phrasing of the whole 
song. The other is an elaboration of this rolling warble, with the wee- 
chew left ofT." During the migration this is one of the commonest species 
in all parts of the State and its cheery little song may be heard in all the 
orchards and shade trees from the first to the third week in May about 
our villages and parklands and the edges of woods. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



415 



" This warbler may be considered abundant and evenly distributed 
in Yates county. It is found in all clearings where bushes have grown 
up, whether it be the highland or lowland. They begin nestbuilding 
about the 17th of May, and in three instances noted take 5 or 6 days 
to complete the nest. The full set of eggs is deposited as early as May 26, 
sometimes as late as June 9. 
One nest of the Chestnut-sided 
warbler was found July 13 con- 
taining young just hatched, 
but July nesting seems to be 
rare. The nests are very 
shabby, being loosely inter- 
woven with broad blades of 
bleached grass, shreds of 
weed bark and grass stems, 
lined with fine, round, reddish 
grasses or tendrils, and horse 
hair. The eggs are 4 in num- 
ber, white or creamy white, 
marked with wreaths of brown, 
blackish and lavender. Nest- 
ing situations are always along 
old wood roads or close to 
open places or the bushy edges of woodland, the nest being concealed 
in briers or the forks of bushes from 15 inches to 4 feet from the ground " 
(Stone MSS.). 

As Burtch and Stone have found this the most abundantly distributed 
warbler in Yates county brushlands, so I found it in Erie and Cattaraugus 
counties from 1882 to 1885, nesting commonly in the same situations 
selected by the Indigo bird, and almost always within 2 feet of the groimd. 




Photo by L. S. Horton 
Chestnut-sided warbler's nest and eggs 



4l6 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Dendroica castanea (Wilson) 
Bay-breasted Warbler 

Plate 96 

Sylvia castanea Wilson. Amer. Om. 1810. 2:97. pi. 14, fig. 4 
Sylvicola castanea DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 94, fig. 116 
Dendroica castanea A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. igio. p. 314. No. 660 
castdnea, Lat., a chestnut, alluding to the color of the breast 

Description. Adult male in spring: Throat and fore breast, run- 
ning part way down the sides, chestnut; crown deep chestnut; black 
forehead, eye spot and line over the eye; back streaked with black, grayish 
olive and buffy; a biiffy patch on the side of the neck back of the auriculars; 
tail dusky, margined with gray; 2 or 3 outer feathers with white patches 
on their inner webs near the tip; wings with 2 broad white bars; belly white; 
Female: Similar to male, but the chestnut markings less pure, the chest- 
nut on the throat and sides sometimes appearing only in patches. Male 
in the fall: Olive green, somewhat streaked with blackish; crown showing 
some concealed chestnut when a bird is examined in the hand; wings and 
tail similar to the spring plumage but more tinged with yellowish; under 
parts whitish tinged with yellowish on the throat and breast, with buffy 
on the flanks and under tail coverts; sides with more or less chestnut. Young: 
Similar to the fall plumage of the male, but showing no chestnut on the 
crown or sides. 

Length 5.63 inches; extent 8.95; wing 2.95; tail 2.12; bill .41. 

Distribution. Breeds from northeastern Alberta, southern Keewatin, 
Ungava and Newfoundland to Manitoba, northern New Hampshire and 
northern Maine. Winters in Panama and Colombia. Although I searched 
for this warbler through the highest portion of the Adirondacks during 
the breeding season of 1905, neither I nor any one of my five assistants 
could find any evidence of its residence in that region. As it breeds in 
the mountains of northern New Hampshire we expected to find it about 
Whiteface, Marcy, Skylight, Haystack or some of the neighboring moun- 
tains, but utterly failed to find any but negative evidence of it. During 
the migration season this is a common transient in most portions of New 
York, though somewhat irregular in distribution. During some seasons 
it is fairly abundant in western New York and some seasons on Long Island 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 417 

and the Hudson valley it is recorded as common or abundant; during 
other seasons as uncommon, and sometimes as rare. During 15 years of 
observation in western New York, however, my experience indicates that 
it is nearly as common as the Blackbumian warbler and almost as regular 
in migration. The dates of arrival range from May 3 to 16, May 12 being 
about the average. An exceptionally early date of April 30 is recorded 
at Branchport. The last migrant is usually seen between the 25th and 31st 
of May. In the fall they make their appearance from the i6th to the 
24th of September and pass southward from the i8th to the loth of October. 
The average date of spring arrival in southeastern New York is recorded 
by Cook and Chapman as May 8. 

Haunts and habits. The Bay-breasted warbler usually frequents the 
tops of deciduous trees during migration, being especially fond of chest- 
nuts, oaks and hickories just as the leaves are bursting. It is also found 
in orchards and about the shade trees of the streets and parks as well as 
in the midst of woodlands. Like the Black-poll, in my experience, how- 
ever, it prefers the upper portions of trees except in cold or stormy weather 
when they descend and feed among the underbrush. 

The song is described by Farwell as a " weak, monotonous, saw-filing 
note." Gerald Thayer says: " It varies greatly, from the bases of at 
least 2 and probably 3 clearly distinct main songs. One of these — - 6 or 
more barely separated lisping notes — are all alike in volume, accentuation, 
tone and speed. They are slightly louder than the average Black-poll 
notes and not quite so smooth in tone. Another song begins in about 
the same way but ends with 3 or 4 clearly separated, louder notes which 
have a more nearly full-voiced ring. The third uncommon song which 
I have all but surely traced to the Bay-breast is louder throughout and 
otherwise very different, begins with about 10 penetrating notes in close- 
knit couplets like those of the Black and white's shorter song, and much 
the same tone but louder, and it ends abruptly with a single lower toned, 
much richer note, like a fragment of the Ovenbird's song." 



4.18 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Dendroica striata (J. R. Forster) 
Black-poll Warbler 

Plate 96 

Muscicapa striata Forster. Philos. Trans. 1772. 62:406,428 
Sylvicola striata DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 95, fig. 129 
Dendroica striata A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. igio. p. 315. No. 661 
stridta, Lat., striped or marked with lines 

Description. Adult male in spring: Crown black; back grayish streaked 
with black; cheeks white; under parts white, the sides heavily streaked with 
black; outer tail feathers with white patches on inner webs near the tip; 
wings washed with greenish ; 2 white wing bars; inner wing feathers margined 
with white. Female in spring: Upper parts grayish olive green streaked 
with black; under parts dingy white, sometimes tinged with yellow, slightly 
streaked with black on the sides of the throat and breast. Fall plumage 
all sexes: Upper parts olive green obscurely streaked with black on the 
back and on top of the head ; under parts dull yellowish or yellowish white, 
obscurely streaked with dusky on the sides. 

Length 5.56 inches; extent 8.9; wing 2.92; tail 2.05; bill .4. 

Distribution. Ereeds in the boreal zone from the limit of trees in 
Alaska and Labrador southward to northern Maine, New Hampshire, 
Vermont, New York, Minnesota and in the mountains to Colorado and 
New Mexico. In New York this is the most purely boreal in its affinities 
of all our breeding warblers, being confined to the higher mountains of the 
Catskills and Adirondacks. In the Adirondacks my party found it breeding 
quite commonly near the summits of the Indian head. Mount Colvin, Geo- 
logical cobble, Skylight, Haystack, Wolf's Jaws, Marcy and Whiteface. 
There is very little doubt that it may be found on all the higher peaks 
which run above 2500 or 3000 feet, at least where there are stunted spruces 
and balsam firs. As a transient visitant it is abundant in all portions of 
the State, especially in the coastal district and Hudson valley, arriving 
from the south from the 9th to the i6th of May, occasionally as early 
as the 5th, and passing northward from the 26th to the 31st. In the fall 
Doctor Fisher has noticed it as early as the 5th to the i6th of August at 
Ossining. In western New York we rarely see it earlier than the 9th to 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 4I9 

the 1 2th of September. Both in eastern and western New York the fall 
migration closes between the 28th of September and the i6th of October, 
stragglers sometimes being noticed as late as the first week in November. 
Its abundance in the coastal district may be inferred from the fact that 
356 individuals of this species were found in a single count at the foot 
of Fire Island light, killed by striking on the night of September 23, 
1887. 

Haunts and habits. During the migrations, the Black-poll frequents 
the higher portions of our deciduous trees. The thin, wiry song is fre- 
quently heard about the village streets and throughout our groves and 
parks. It is not so easily observed as our other migrating warblers, due 
to the fact that it arrives late in the season when the leaves have partially, 
or sometimes entirely, completed their growth, and it is a neck-breaking 
occupation to hunt down these high-feeding warblers with an opera glass. 
However, when they are found feeding among the groves of oaks and 
chestnuts we may have greater success for their leaves are not so fully 
grown at the third week in May when the Black-poll's floodtide of migration 
occurs. In my experience, the Black-poll is least frequently of all our 
warblers seen feeding among the lower shrubbery, in the migration season, 
but it does descend, especially on cool and rainy days and, as with all 
warblers, we can gain a partial victory by mounting a hilltop and looking 
downwards into the foliage of the lower hill slopes. Gerald Thayer writes: 
" Its song is a string of from 6 to 12 or more short and equally divided 
sibilant notes, cobweb-thin and glassy clear, uttered rather fast; the whole 
song smoothly swelling in volume to the middle, and then smoothly falling 
off. This should, perhaps, be called the one main song, but the variations 
from it are many and pronounced. Its syllables vary in number from 
4 to 15 or more. They are sometimes uttered very hurriedly and close 
together — a song like a trembling wire — and sometimes they are deliber- 
ately and distinctly enunciated. Occasionally these 2 styles of delivery 
are combined in one utterance. Again, the song's characteristic swell 

and fall in volume is sometimes, though seldom, wholly wanting; and the 

07 



420 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

shorter versions are often crescendo to the end " (Chapman, Warblers of 
North America). 

The nests of the Black-poll which Mr Howard Bradstreet found about 
the Ausable lakes were placed in low spruces from 3 to 8 feet from the 
ground, composed of twigs, rootlets and bits of moss, and lined with fine 
grass, feathers and vegetable down. The eggs are 4 or 5 in number, creamy 
white or grayish white in ground color, blotched and speckled with reddish 
brown, lilac and gray, usually forming a wreath as with others of the family, 
and averaging in size .71 by .52 inches. Adirondack nesting dates vary 
from June 5 to 20. 

Dendroica fusca (Miiller) 
Blackburnian Warbler 

Plate 97 

Motacilla fusca Miiller. Natursyst. Suppl. 1776. 175 

Sylvicola blackburniae DcKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 93, fig. 113 
Dendroica fusca A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 315. No. 662 

fiisca, dark or dusky in color 

Description. Adult male: Throat and upper breast rich orange; side of 
the neck, broad line over the eye, spot over the eye, spot on the forehead, 
orange; upper parts in general black; streaked with whitish on the back; 
wings and tail blackish; the wings with a large white patch; the outer tail 
feathers largely white on the inner web ; the outer webs white at base, show- 
ing as a conspicuous white area when the tail is spread; abdomen whitish, 
its forward portions suffused with the color of forward portions of the 
breast, but ranging to white on the under tail coverts; sides streaked with 
black. Adult female: Much duller than the male; the upper parts grayish 
brown to dusky where the male is black; the orange of the throat and 
breast much paler; all the markings less distinct. Fall birds: Duller than 
the corresponding sexes in spring plumage, more veiled with brown and 
grayish. Young: Like female but duller, the throat nearly yellowish. 

Length 5.25 inches; wing 2.7; tail 1.95; bill .4. 

Distribution. Breeds from Manitoba, southern Keewatin, Quebec and 
Cape Breton to central Minnesota, northern Michigan, Massachusetts, the 
highlands of Connecticut and in the AUeghanies to Georgia and South 
Carolina; winters from Yucatan, to Colombia and Peru. In New York 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 421 

this warbler is a common simimer resident of the Catskill and Adirondack 
districts, and breeds locally throughout the cooler swamps, gullies and high- 
lands of central and western New York. Its nest has been recorded from 
Tonawanda swamp, Orleans county (Langille); Remsen and Holland 
Patent, Oneida county (Ralph and Bagg) ; Stockbridge, Madison county- 
(Maxon); Hamilton and Shedd's Comers (Embody); Seneca and Clark's 
Glens, Canandaigua lake (Eaton); Springville, Erie county (Eaton); near 
Mayville, Chautauqua county (Kibbe) ; Hamburg, Erie county (Savage) ; 
gullies of Kevika lake (Burtch and Stone). During the migration season 
it is common throughout central and western New York and in the Hudson 
valley, but is recorded as uncommon on Long Island, arriving from April 
30 to May 8, average date May 5; sometimes appears as early as April 26. 
The main migration is passed by the 21st to the 31st of May. In the 
fall the return migration may be noted from August 15 to September 7, 
the last being noted between October 5 and 16. 

Haunts and habits. The Blackbumian warbler during the migration 
season associates with the Magnolia, Bay-breasted and Chestnut-sided 
warblers among the blossoming fruit trees and the leaving shrubbery and 
shade trees of our lawns and parks. During the nesting season, however, 
it is almost entirely confined to mixed and evergreen forests, being especially 
fond of hemlocks and spruces. In the Adirondacks we noticed it as one 
of the characteristic woodland warblers, being practically as abundant in 
the depths of the forest as about the edges of the clearings or along the 
streams and edges of the swamps. In the gullies and swamps of central 
New York I have never found it in the nesting season except where there 
is a liberal sprinkling of hemlocks, which it seems to prefer to the pine, 
and the old name of Hemlock warbler which was applied to the young 
of this species is perfectly appropriate. The Blackbumian flutters about 
while feeding almost as conspicuously as the Redstart and Magnolia, 
displaying its brillant colors and pied pattern very effectively. 

The song is heard during migration time as well as in the nesting 
coverts, described by Thayer as " Thin, but exquisitely smooth in all the 



422 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

many variations of its two or more main songs. One of these is much 
less changeable than the other. This is the simple one, which may be 
syllabled ' tslwi-tsiwi-tsiwi-tsiwi ' or a variation ' sissi-vit, sissi-vit, sissi- 
vit, sissi-vit.' deliberately and almost languidly uttered in both cases with 
a fine ' kinglety ' sibilant- voiced tone. The other common song, though 
it begins in much the same way, is more hurried throughout and ends 
on a sharply ascending scale with a sort of explosion of small, crowded 
notes; but the utterances vary widely and the one last described is about 
the most changeable of all the warblers' songs I know. Even the tone 
quality is not quite constant, for though it never, in my experience, varies 
toward huskiness, it does occasionally range towards full-voiced richness. 
Thus I have heard a Blackburnian that began its otherwise normal song 
with two or three clear notes much like those of the most full and smooth- 
voiced performance of the American redstart and another that began so 
much like the Nashville that I had to hear him several times, nearby, 
to be convinced that there was not a Nashville chiming in." 

The nesting site of the Blackburnian is usually the horizontal limb 
of a conifer, spruce or hemlock. Merriam mentions one 84 feet from the 
ground; Bolles, one placed in a sugar maple 60 feet from the ground; and 
nests which our party found on the slopes of the Bartlett range and Mt 
Marcy were in hemlocks 45 and 60 feet up. The nests reported by Mr 
Burtch from the gullies near Branchport were in hemlocks about 35 feet 
from the ground and 6 feet from the tree trunk. Mr C. F. Stone thus 
describes the nesting as he has observed it: "After the great Black- 
burnian wave has reached its height and passed northward, a few may 
still be found breeding in the gullies in this vicinity. I know of but 3 
or 4 pairs that remain to breed in our larger gullies where they are found 
among the tallest and thickest hemlock trees. The male, at least, spends 
most of his time in the highest hemlocks, darting from one tree to another, 
continually on the move so that it is hard to get even a glimpse of him, 
and if one were not familiar with his liquid warble the bird would go 
unidentified unless the gleaming throat could be seen. To my ear the 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 423 

Blackburnian's warble is scarcely distinguishable from that of the Ceru- 
lean's and, in fact, both of these warblers have the same habit of flying 
through the tree tops, hurriedly warbling their songs, apparently giving no 
heed to the incubating female. While I have observed the Blackbumian as 
late as July i , locating them by the song, I have found but one nest, which 
was on June 7, 1903. It contained 4 eggs and the situation was on the 
top of a gully bank in a hemlock rather isolated from the others over a bush 
grown area. It was placed 25 feet up and about 10 feet from the body 
of the tree in the end of a limb and effectively concealed from view. The 
female sat very closely and when flushed remained within 10 feet, slowly 
flying about uttering a mild chip of alarm. The male did not appear. 
The nest is a neat, compact, nicely interlaced structure of hemlock twiglets 
mixed with fine, dry grasses, the latter being inside the interlaced twigs, 
and scantily lined with black horse hair." The eggs are grayish white to 
bluish white in ground color, spotted and blotched and speckled with 
cinnamon and olive brown; average size .68 by .50 inches. The nesting 
date in New York varies from May 24 to June 12. Like most of our 
warblers, this species evidently rears only one brood in a season. 

Dendroica dominica dominica (Linnaeus) 

Yellow-throated Warbler 

Motacilla dominica Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 12. 1766. 1:334 
Dendroica dominica dominica A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. ipio. p. 
315. No. 663 

dominica, of Domingo; originally described from Santo Domingo 

Description. Upper parts mostly bluish gray; line over the eye, throat 
and upper breast yellow; forehead, cheek and stripe on the side of the head 
black, and a black line extending from this downward on the side of the 
neck; side of the neck behind the black cheek, white; also white line above 
the black line on the side of the head; under eyelid white; 2 conspicuous 
white wing bars and much white edging of the feathers; belly white; throat 
and breast bordered on the sides with black. The conspicuous black streaks 
running backward along the side. Female: Similar to male but showing 
less black on the head and side. Young: Very similar to adults, but 
slightly washed with brownish. 



4^4 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Distribution. This species breeds from central Delaware and southern 
Maryland to middle Florida, and winters from southern Florida to the 
Bahamas and Greater Antilles. During the migration it occasionally 
wanders as far northward as New England. There are two records for 
New York State, the first from Crow hill, Kings county (see Dutcher, 
Auk. 10:277; and Lawrence, Ann. Lye. Nat. hist, of New York, 6, 8). 
The second record is also from Long Island, Oyster Bay, July 4-8, 1907, 
a bird of this species discovered by Mrs E. H. Swan jr, identified by 
Theodore Roosevelt and recorded in Scribner's Magazine, volume 42, 
page 387. This latter specimen, I believe, is now preserved in the American 
Museum of Natural History. It is evident that this bird is the rarest of 
our accidental visitants of the warbler family, being considerably less 
common in this State than the Prothonotary warbler. 

Habits. The Yellow-throated warbler inhabits open piny woods. 
Its motions are much slower than those of the Black and white warbler, 
but it has a similar habit of searching the larger branches and trunks of 
trees for food, its motion being more of a hopping than a creeping one, its 
hunting ground being confined mostly to the higher branches and bunches 
of pine needles. Its song is loud and ringing, the common form being 
" ching-ching-ching, chicker-cher-wee ," with the wild, ringing, carrying 
quality which recalls the song of the Water thrush, and has also been 
compared to the song of the Indigo bird (Brewster and Chapman). 

Dendroica virens (Gmelin) 
Black-throated Green Warbler 

Plate 97 

Motacilla virens Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1789. i : 985 
Sylvicola virens DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 100, fig. 114 
Dendroica virens A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 317. No. 667 

virens, Lat., green 

Description. Upper parts yellowish olive green; face and sides of the 
head yellow; 2 conspicuous whitish wing bars; outer tail feathers largely 
white; throat and breast black; sides streaked with black; belly yellowish 
white. Female: Similar but duller above and the throat whitish; the 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 425 

breast black, tipped with yellowish white; the other markings paler and 
less sharply defined than in the male. Young: Sometimes lack all traces 
of black on the throat and breast. Fall birds in general more brownish 
above and the black markings on the male veiled with yellowish white 
feather tips. 

Length 5 inches; extent 7.7-8; wing 2.46; tail 2; bill .41 tarsus .16. 

Distribution. Breeds from northeastern Alberta, southern Manitoba, 
central Ontario, northeastern Quebec and Newfoundland to southern 
Minnesota, northern Ohio, northern New Jersey, Long Island and Con- 
necticut, and in the Alleghanies to Georgia. Winters in Mexico and Central 
America. In New York it is one of our most abundant breeding species 
throughout the Canadian zone of the Adirondacks and Catskills, in the 
mixed and evergreen forests of all portions of the State, especially in the 
hemlock woodlands near the Pennsylvania border, in the wooded gullies 
of the central lake region, in all the cooler swamps of central and western 
New York, and locally in southeastern New York, even on Long Island, 
as reported by Roosevelt in the vicinity of Oyster Bay, and in SuflfoUc 
county by Helme and Worthington. On the whole, it seems to be slightly 
more boreal in distribution than the Chestnut-sided warbler, as indicated 
by its New York distribution, but like that species is found locally, at least, 
breeding in all portions of the State. During the migrations it is one 
of the most abundant species, arriving from the 23d of April to the 7th of 
May, the average date being May 3 in western New York, and passing 
on to the north from May 25 to 31. In the fall the last individuals are 
seen between the loth and 26th of October. In my experience for 10 
years in Monroe county, this species is one of the hardiest warblers, usually 
being the third on the list to arrive, following close after the Myrtle and 
Pine warblers during the last week of April. 

Haunts and habits. The Black- throated green warbler prefers a 
mixed or evergreen forest during the nesting season, especially forests 
of hemlock, pine and spruce, trees of second growth being especially 
attractive to it. Its usual " beat " is half way up the full-grown ever- 
greens, or in the upper third of the second growth trees of 30 to 50 feet. 



426 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



Gerald Thayer describes the song as possessing " a certain quality 
of huskiness like the Black-throated blue's, but much less obtrusively 
noticeable and rather enhancing than marring the quiet sweetness of the 
song. One of the two main utterances is remarkable for its deliberate 
and highly modulated enunciation; the other, not. The deliberate 
song of 5 (sometimes 6 or 8) notes is the one usually described in books, 

, but here about Monadnock the 

other is at least as often uttered 
and in midsiimmer is the com- 
monest of the two. The differ- 
ences between them are suggested, 
though feebly, by the two phrases 
' sweer, sweer-r-r, swi-ni swee ' (the 
first and the last accented notes 
the highest pitched), and 'wi-wi- 
wi-wi-wi-wi-wi, wer-we-e-e,' the last 
note highest pitched as well as 
most emphatic. Two, at least, 
of this warbler's call notes are 
fairly characteristic, a plainly den- 
droicine but rather loud and full- 
toned ■ tsip ' and a reduplicated 
smaller ' chip ' often running into 
Th^^Tb^^rf^tch chippering like that of many young 
but few other adult warblers." 
The nest is usually placed in a hemlock tree. Burtch and Stone note 
25 nests all placed in hemlocks with one or two exceptions and they were 
placed near the branches of a hemlock. They are usually from 15 to 40 
feet from the ground, near the thicker portion of the limb some distance 
from the trunk. The nest is rather compactly built and deeply cupped, 
made of fine twiglets of hemlock lined with tendrils, rootlets and hair, 
sometimes a few feathers and dead grasses and fine strips of inner bark, 




Black-throaled Green warbler's nest and eggs 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 427 

and occasionally is ornamented on the exterior with bits of cottony sub- 
stances and spiders' cells. The eggs are commonly 4 in number with a 
creamy or grayish white ground color more or less heavily marked with 
specks and blotches of various shades of brown, purplish and lilac, usually 
forming a well-defined wreath. The average size is .65 by .51 inches. 
Nesting dates for western New York vary from May 26 to June 20, the 
average date being June 5. Adirondack nests usually have fresh eggs by 
the loth of June. 

Dendroica vigorsi (Audubon) 
Pine Warbler 

Plate 95 

Sylvia vigor sii Audubon. Birds Amer. 1828. (folio) i, pi. 30 
Sylvicola pinus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. loi, fig. 120 
Dendroica vigorsi A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 318. No. 671 
vigorsi, to N. A. Vigors, an English naturalist 

Description. Adult male in spring: Upper parts yellowish green; 
wings margined with grayish; 2 dull whitish wing bars; outer tail feathers 
with white patches near the end; under parts greenish yellow, obscurely 
streaked on the breast and sides with dusky; lower belly whitish. Female: 
Much duller than the male, the under parts being soiled whitish tinged 
with yellow and the upper parts dusky olive green with grayish or brownish 
tinge. Young and fall birds: More tinged with brownish. 

Length 5 inches; wing 2.8; tail 2.2; bill .42. 

Distribution. Breeds in eastern North America from New Brunswick 
and Saskatchewan southward to the Gulf States. In New York this 
species is rather local in distribution depending upon the presence of pine 
woods. It is a summer resident throughout the southeastern, eastern, 
western and central portions of the State, especially on Long Island, but 
has not been noticed in the Canadian areas of the Catskills and Adiron- 
dacks. It has been recorded as breeding in Suffolk county by A. H. Howell, 
Oyster Bay by Theodore Roosevelt, central Long Island by L. S. Foster, 
Schenectady by James E. Benedict, Rensselaer county by Seymour Wood- 
ruff, Cohoes by A. F. Park, Oneida lake by Egbert Bagg, Ithaca by Louis 
Fuertes, Reed and Wright, Hammondsport and Branchport by C. F. 



428 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Stone, Seneca glen, Canandaigua lake, by E. H. Eaton. This is a hardy 
species, arriving in New York early in April (5 to 15 or 20) and even remains 
throughout the winter according to the testimony of Mr Benedict who 
took February specimens in the pine woods near Schenectady in 1881. 
In the fall the latest residents are usually observed between October 15 
and November i. 

Haunts and habits. It is probable that the Pine warbler is even more 
particular in the coverts which it selects for a home than the Black-poll 
or the Nashville warbler. I have never found it except in pine groves, 
especially groves of pitch pine and red or Norway pine. Even in the 
migration season it is rarely found far from the pines and here it remains 
throughout the summer months. 

Its song is described by Allison as a " rather slow, monotonous trill. 
I have heard the songs in two keys following each other so closely that it 
seemed that they were executed by the same bird. These songs are uttered 
at all seasons, I think; certainly not more than a few weeks in December 
mark a cessation. The ordinary call note is a rather soft, lisping chirp 
somewhat like that of the Parula warbler. During courtship and while the 
young are being fed, a rapid and incessant chipping is common." Gerald 
Thayer says: " Its common song is clear and sweet; an unbroken, fluent 
trill, with a tone character at once distinguishable from those of other 
trilling wood birds of New England. It is uttered in an even scale, but 
is often crescendo in its first half and diminuendo in its second." 

Clarence F. Stone thus describes its breeding habits: " The Pine 
warbler is rare in this locality (Yates county) at all times. I know of but 
10 pairs that are breeders here. Along the Hammondsport glen in Steuben 
County there are at least 4 or 5 pairs that remain throughout the summer. 
Hereabouts this warbler haunts only the woods that are thickly inter- 
spersed with red pines. On May 24, 1903, I found the first nest about 
55 feet up in a Norway pine and 6 feet from the trunk in the end of a limb 
among clusters of cones. The female remained on the nest until I reached 
toward her, when she dropped to the lower branches and soon returned 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 429 

with the male who had been singing over and over his whirlwind trill in 
a distant part of the wood. However, he refused to take any part in 
protesting with the female against my presence, but persisted in his rolling, 
whistling trills in the near-by trees while the female came toward me 
slowly moving about among the branches uttering a mild ' peet, peeL' 
The nest contained 4 fresh eggs. It was firmly attached to the limb and 
almost hidden from below by clusters of cones. It is composed of strands 
of grapevine bark, fine rootlets and horse hairs, decorated with bits of brown 
and white spider cells and lined with a compact mass of animal hair and 
fluffy feathers with a thick ring of woolly material around the rim. The 
other nest found on June 6th contained 3 eggs and 1 of the Cowbird; as 
usual, I egg of the warbler was punctured. This nest was placed about 
50 feet from the ground in a Norway pine and 4 feet out on a crooked, 
cone-laden limb, over a cleared place along the edge of the wood. This 
nest is made outside of hemlock twigs, strands of grayish weed bark, grape- 
vine bark and fine reddish rootlets, lined with animal hair and crow feathers. 
Both of these nesting sites were somewhat isolated from other coniferous 
trees in portions of the wood surrounded by deciduous trees. The Pine 
warbler does not seem at all shy. I watched the female feed the young 
ones only 5 feet away while I sat on a limb 40 feet above the ground. 
Another time I hastily dismounted from my bicycle to observe a bird 
gathering horse hairs from the roadside only 8 feet away and apparently 
unconcerned about my presence. Another time while I was sitting quietly 
at the base of a pine, a female warbler hopped about on the ground so 
close that I could have touched her with my hand." 



430 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Dendroica palmariun palmarum (Gmelin) 
Palm Warbler 

Plate 95 

Motacilla palmarum Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1 789. 1:951 
Dendroica palmarum palmarum A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 
p. 318. No. 672 

. palmdrum, Lat., of the palms, which it frequents in its winter home 

Description. Upper parts grayish olive brown, tail coverts yellowish, 
the upper parts obscurely streaked with dusky; crown chestnut rufous; yel- 
lowish line over the eye; narrow blackish line through the eye; 2 whitish 
wing bars; outer tail feathers with white patches near the tip; throat and 
upper breast light yellowish, also the under tail coverts; the rest of the 
under parts grayish white more or less suffused with yellow; distinctly but 
not heavily streaked with blackish on the sides of the throat, on the sides 
and across the breast. Female: Practically like the male. Young and 
fall specimens: vSimilar to the adult, but the crown tipped with brown 
and in young specimens sometimes scarcely showing the rufous at all. 

Length 5.43 inches; extent 8.4; wing 2.61; tail 2.1; bill .4; tarsus .jj. 

Distribution. Breeds from southern Mackenzie, central Keewatin, 
southward to northern Minnesota. Winters from southern South Carolina, 
Florida and the Bahamas to the West Indies and Yucatan. In New York 
this warbler is purely a transient visitant, commoner in western New York 
than in the coastal district, but appearing on Long Island and throughout 
eastern New York sparingly during the migration season. Spring dates 
vary from April 14 to April 2j for arrival and April 30 to May 12 for 
departure to the north. Western New York arrivals vary from April 
20 to 29; latest birds seen, May 12 to 14. In the fall this warbler reappears 
in September between the 12th and the 23d. It is fairly common during 
the first half of October, disappearing between the 3d and the i8th. It 
must be accounted an uncommon species in the eastern part of the State 
and only a fairly common migrant in western New York except in the fall 
when it is sometimes common for two or three weeks after the first sharp 
frost, but at that season it is never more than one-fourth as common as 
the Myrtle warbler. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 43 1 

Haunts and habits. The Palm warbler frequents more open situations 
than most of the dendroicas, frequently occurring along the banks of streams 
where there is very little shrubbery, or even about the banks of ponds 
and swamps where there is no cover at all. Sometimes it is noticed in 
company with other Dendroicas feeding among the foliage, but it is unusual 
to notice it far from the edges of swamps and streams. It is comparatively 
a low-feeding species, flying about near the ground or in the low shrubbery, 
continually wagging its tail more after the manner of pipits, however, 
than like the water ^thrushes. The voice is described by Jones as a "trill, 
consisting of the syllables tsee four times repeated, uttered with a distinct 
swell." 

Dendroica palmarum hypochrysea (Ridgway) 
Yellow Palm Warbler 

Plate 93 

Dendroica palmarum hypochrysea Ridgway. Bui. Nuttall Om. Club- 

Nov. 1876. 1:85 
Sylvicola ruficapilla DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt. 2, p. 89, fig. 133 
Dendroica palmarum hypochrysea A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 

p. 318. No. 672a 

hypochrysea, Gr., meaning golden below 

Description. Similar to the Palm warbler but larger, the upper parts 
more olive and the under parts entirely yellow, the breast streaks reddish 
hrown or rufous, the line over the eye yellow at all seasons. 

Wing 2.7 inches; tail 2.2; bill .4. 

Distribution. This subspecies breeds from Ontario, northern Quebec 
and Newfoundland to southern Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and northern 
Maine; winters from Carolina and casually as far north as Pennsylvania 
to Florida and Louisiana. In New York it is a transient visitant in the 
coastal district, arriving from the south from the 14th to the 28th of April, 
average date April 18, and usually passing northward by the 12th of May. 
It is a fairly common transient in the coastal district, largely displacing 
there the Palm warbler which is more characteristic of the interior of New 
York. Specimens of the Yellow palm warbler have been taken in migra- 
tion also at Syracuse, according to A. W. Perrior, and near Albany by 



432 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

A. F. Parks. Doctors Reed, Wright and Allen also report a specimen 
from Ithaca, but aside from these migration dates for the interior every 
other specimen of the Palm warbler which I have examined has been of 
the subspecies palmarum and this is the species which I observe each 
season during the migration both in the spring and fall; whereas, while 
observing the migrations in the lower Hudson valley and in the vicinity 
of New York City I have noticed nothing but the Yellow palm warbler 
during both the spring and fall flights. In habits this subspecies does 
not differ from the Pabn warbler already described. 

Dendroica discolor (Vieillot) 
Prairie Warbler 

Plate 95 

Sylvia discolor Vieillot. Ois. Amer. Sept. 1807 (1809?) 2:37, pi. 98 
Sylvicola discolor DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 96, fig. no 
Dendroica discolor A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 319. No. 673 
discolor, Lat., variegated or parti-colored 

Description. Upper parts olive green, the hack spotted with rufous 
or reddish chestnut; line over the eye, space beneath it, the 2 wing bars 
and entire under parts yellow; a black line through the eye, another along the 
side of the head and a crescentric patch on the side of the neck; sides 
streaked with black; outer tail feathers largely white, the second and third 
white near the tip. Female: Similar to the male but paler and less dis- 
tinctly marked, the chestnut patch on the back sometimes very small or 
wanting. Young in fall frequently lack the chestnut marks altogether 
and gene-al plumage less brightly and clearly marked but preserving the 
same pattern in coloration. 

Length 4.75-4.90 inches; extent 7.15; wing 2.2; tail 1.95; bill .35; 
tarsus .67. 

Distribution. Breeds from northeastern Nebraska, southern Ohio, 
southwestern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and along the coast from 
Massachusetts south to Florida, northern Mississippi and western Missouri; 
locally to central Michigan, southern Ontario and New Hampshire, and 
rarely in the Gulf States. Winters from central Florida to the Bahamas, 
and West Indies. In New York this warbler is local in distribution, 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 433 

commonest in the southeastern part of the State and on Long Island. Its 
nest and eggs have been reported from Long Island, Oyster Bay, common 
(Roosevelt " Birds of Oyster Bay," 1879), still common in 1907 (Scribner's 
Magazine 42, 387); Millers Place, common (A. H. Helme); Shelter Island, 
common (W. W. Worthington) ; Long Island, rather common (Braislin). 
It is reported as rare or uncommon at Highland Falls, 1877, by Doctor 
Mearns; and at Ossining by Doctor Fisher. According to DeKay, this 
species was abundant near Lake Erie in 1844. We have always suspected, 
since DeKay published this on hearsay evidence, that he was mistaken; 
nevertheless, the local distribution and erratic habits of this warbler render 
it possible that it was abundant there 70 years ago and has since disappeared. 
During the last 30 years it certainly has been a rare summer resident in 
central and western New York. I have met with the species on only four 
occasions and these were in migration time. Baird, Brewer and Ridgway 
(Land Birds i , 276) report a nest and eggs from central New York. D. W. 
Soule and M. R. Crockett report a nest and eggs June 2, 1899, from Sandy 
Creek, Oswego county. E. H. Short reports a nest from Orleans county 
June 16, 1904, collected by J. A. Ritenburg-, and C. F. Stone two from 
Branchport. The spring migration of this warbler near New York City 
begins from the ist to the 6th of May, the average date being May 4. In 
the fall it disappears from Long Island between the ist and the 13th or i8th 
of September. Migration dates for western New York are May 3,9, 11 and 
12, birds observed near Rochester and Geneva by the author. The late E. S. 
Woodruff reports an adult female taken at Paul Smith's in the northern 
Adirondacks, May 17, 1908. As the birds which the author saw near 
Rochester were evidently migrating eastward along the shore of Lake 
Ontario, it is probable that a thin line of migration has been established 
through Oswego county and down the St Lawrence valley. 

Haunts and habits. The Prairie warbler is not a bird of the grass- 
land, as might be inferred from its name, but prefers dry hillsides, partially 
covered with a scrubby growth of bushes and saplings. In eastern Massa- 
chusetts Brewster speaks of it as preferring hilly pastures partially over- 



434 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

grown with barberry and juniper. In the southern states it is found 
principally on sunny hillsides covered with bushes and saplings. Near 
Washington Doctor Coues found it in rather scrubby, hilly, open localities. 

The nests are usually placed in barberries or low hickories, dogwood, 
scrub pines or cedar bushes from i to 5 feet from the ground. Mr Stone 
describes the nests he found near Branchport as follows: " I know of 
but three localities where this warbler finds suitable haunts, and but one 
pair in each locality. Here t'ley are found in the same surroundings of 
bushes, saplings and briers whit;h they prefer in other parts of the country, 
nesting in close proximity to the Chestnut-sided warblers. The nests 
are attached to forks of bushes from 2 to 3 feet from the ground and are 
compact and firmly woven, thick- walled structures of grayish colored 
shreds of weed bark, narrow dry grasses, fine round reddish grass stems, 
and lined with black horse hair, the outside resembling considerably nests 
of the Yellow warbler. Two of the fovir nests that I have found each 
contained 4 eggs on June i and 2, and two others had i and 3 eggs respec- 
tively on June 4. One nest was placed in a hazel bush surrounded by a 
dense growth of shrubbery close to a bubbling brook; another was in an 
elderberry bush in the midst of a brush lot." 

The eggs are white or greenish white in ground color, speckled, spotted 
and blotched with dark umber, reddish brown, purplish and lilac shell 
markings, often with a well-formed wreath about the larger end. The 
dimensions average .64 by .49 inches. 

The song of this species is " a lisping trill much like that of the Parula 
warbler in general character " but with a thin, wiry quality which Doctor 
Coues has compared to "the plaint of a mouse with a toothache," surely 
an extremely individual performance which, when once heard, will certainly 
distinguish this bird from all the other warblers. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 435 

Seiurus aurocapillus (Linnaeus) 
Ovenbird 

PUte 93 

Motacilla aurocapilla Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 12. 1766. 1:334 

Seiurus aurocapillus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 79, fig. 102 

A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 319. No. 674 

seiurus, Gr., astw, to wave, and oupdt, tail; aurocapillus, Lat., gold hair or gold- 
headed, referring to the golden crown 

Description. Upper parts uniform olive green; crown a dull orange or 
golden brown with a black line running down each side from the base of 
the bill to the nape; under parts white, rather thickly spotted on the breast 
and sides with blackish; narrow maxillary streak on each side of the throat; 
sexes alike Fall specimens practically like the spring ones. 

Length 6.2 inches; extent 9.75; wing 3; tail 2.15; bill .50; tarsus .92. 

Distribution. Breeds from southwestern Mackenzie, northern Ontario, 
southern Ungava and Newfoundland to Colorado, Kansas, southern 
Missouri, Virginia, and in the mountains to Georgia east to the Atlantic 
coast from Nova Scotia to Virginia. Winters from South Carolina and 
Florida through the Bahamas and West Indies to Colombia. In New 
York this bird is uniformly distributed in all woodlands from the slopes of 
Mt Marcy to the groves of Staten Island. It is fully as dominant a species 
as the Yellow warbler though, of course, it requires woodland. Spring 
arrivals vary from April 25 to May 3, average dates near New York City 
being April 28; in western New York, May 2. In the fall it disappears 
between September 20 and October 10, a few sometimes lingering till the 
20th. 

Haunts and habits. The Ovenbird, or Golden-crowned thrush as it 

was formerly called, prefers a rich deciduous woodland, but it is by no 

means confined to our woods of maple, beech and hornbeam, or oak, hickory 

and chestnut, but is equally common in mixed woodlands, and in the North 

Woods I have found it where the growth was predominantly spruces and 

pines with only a few deciduous trees intermingled. We noted it a common 

species as high as the 3500 foot line on several of the mountains of the 
28 



436 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



higher Adirondacks, and throughout the State it is one of the most familiar 
members of the family. Its cheery note is heard throughout the summer 
months at least to the third or fourth week in July, and later on from the 
loth of August to the middle of September. 

The Ovenbird is a ground warbler, seeking almost all its food among 
the dead leaves and growing plants of the forest floor, but frequently flying 




0\fnl)ir(]'s nest and eggs 



Photo by Ralph S. Paddock 



up to the larger and lower branches of the trees. Like the Water thrush, 
it is a walker, searching about with springy tread for worms, spiders and 
various kinds of insects. Its nest is placed upon the ground, usually at 
the foot of a small sapling or on the side of a slight rise, of the ground. 
It is almost always arched over by the brown leaves of last season and 
so completely concealed from view that it can rarely be discovered unless 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 437 

the mother bird is frightened from the nest as one walks through the forest. 
It is composed of dry leaves and grasses and is rather bulky, but blends 
inconspicuously with the materials on the ground. The entrance is at 
one side, the dry leaves drooping down over it so that one can not look 
in without thnisting the cover aside. The eggs are usually 4 or 5 in number, 
of a creamy white ground color, rather profusely speckled with reddish 
brown and lilac. They average .85 by .65 inches in size. 

The call note of the Ovenbird is a weak cheep which is uttered when 
the bird is worried or frightened, especially while an intruder is near the 
nest, when it is frequently reiterated. Its common song has been written 
for more than a generation by " tea-cher, tea-cher, tea-cher, tea-cher," each 
repetition being louder and more emphatic than the preceding; but, as 
many modem observers have remarked, the accent does not fall on the 
first syllable, the proper rendering of the performance being " cher-te, 
cher-te, cher-te, cher-te." This ringing refrain is often heard as one journeys 
through the forest, in springtime and early summer, and will surely attract 
the attention of everyone that passes. It is not, however, the most 
melodious of the Ovenbird's performances, the passion song, as it is usually 
called, being commonly delivered on the wing when the bird is flying through 
the trees, as I have witnessed it on several occasions, the performer rising 
from a limb of moderate elevation and flying upward through the forest 
until he reaches nearly the height of the tallest trees when he seems fairly 
to burst with a torrent of warbling, gurgling notes which have no special 
form of delivery but are certainly melodious and impressive. After the torrent 
has spent its force, the performer partially closes his wings and darts down 
to the forest floor again, the song seeming to die away, as Thayer has said, 
"as if smothered by the sudden descent of the bird through the air." This 
flight song I have witnessed on a few occasions delivered just in the early 
dusk of evening, when the bird was flying upward from the highest tops 
of the forest trees to an altitude of 100 or 200 feet above the forest, flutter- 
ing its wings and rising higher and higher and pouring forth a confused 
medley of melody until apparently exhausted, like the Skylark, it closes 



43^ NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

its wings and darts like an arrow to the sheltering coverts of the forest, 
the song echoing and dying away on the quiet evening air. This per- 
formance of the Ovenbird is truly startling, and it is to be regretted that 
it can not be oftener heard. 

Seiurus noveboracensis noveboracensis (Gmelin) 
Water Thrush 

Plate 92 

Motacilla noveboracensis Gmelin. Syst. Nat. 1 789. i : 958 
Seiurus noveboracensis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 78, fig. 106 
Seiurus noveboracensis noveboracensis A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 
1910. p. 319. No. 67s 

noveboracensis, new Lat., of New York 

Description. Upper parts dark olive brown; a line over the eye, and 
under parts yelloiuish white or light sulphur yellow heavily streaked with 
blackish; sexes practically alike. Fall plumage: Like the spring. 

Length 5.5-6 inches; extent 8.5-9.5; wing 2.7-5.3; tail 2.25; bill .5. 

Distribution. Breeds from northern Ontario, northern Ungava and 
Newfoundland southward to central Ontario, New York, northern New 
England, and in the mountains south to West Virginia; winters from Mexico 
to the West Indies, Colombia and British Guiana. In New York this 
species is a common summer resident of the Adirondack district as well 
as in the Catskills and many swamps in central and western New York, 
especially Potter swamp in Ontario and Yates counties, Canandaigua 
Inlet swamp, Urbana swamp near Prattsburg, Montezuma swamp. Oak 
Orchard swamp and the swamp about Chautauqua Lake outlet. There 
also can be no doubt that it breeds in many other localities which have 
not been particularly studied by bird students familiar with this species. 
It certainly is a common summer resident in several of the localities 
mentioned as well as through the swamps of the Adirondacks and higher 
Catskills. Throughout the State it is a fairly common or common transient 
visitant, arriving from April 26 to May 7, average date in western New York 
being April 29, the spring migration ending between May 21 and 29. In 
the fall, southward movement begins from the 1st to the 19th of August; 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



439 



in some localities not until the ist to the 7th of September, and the last 
birds are recorded between the i6th of September and the 6th of October. 
Haunts and habits. During the spring migration, the Water thrush 
is fairly common about the edges of ponds and swamps, especially where 
there is a friendly cover of shrubbery, oven about the edges of our lawns, 
and wherever little rivulets run through meadows and parklands or groves, 
bordered by a sparse growth of 
bushes, one is sure to find this 
species during the season of late 
April and early May. It walks 
lightly and nimbly over the lawn 
or along the damp margin of the 
brooklet, bobbing its tail some- 
what after the manner of the 
Palm warbler, but the motion 
seems to be produced by a 
springy movement of the legs 
and the whole rear portion of the 
body, rather than by a bobbing 
of the tail itself. The flight of 
the Water thrush is swift and 
darting. When disturbed in its 
favorite haunts it dashes rapidly 
away at a moderate elevation 
down the stream, its course seem- 
ing to be directed by the brook- 
let along which it resorts. Even 
in the migration season its song is frequently heard, though not with such 
fulness and richness as in its summer haunts. It is a loud, ringing roundelay, 
rather rapidly delivered with a " ringing wildness " suggestive of the cool 
and bubbling streams of its summer home; " a ringing, bubbling warble, 
swift and emphatic, made up of two parts, the second lower toned and 




Photo by Verdi Burtch 
Water thrush's nest and eggs 



440 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUlvI 

diminuendo." Both Brewster and Chapman have agreed in considering 
this song, short as it is, more melodious than that of the Louisiana water 
thrush which has been so highly commended by many bird lovers. It 
certainly is inspiring in the vivid suddenness with which it bursts from 
the coverts of the swamp or streamside and fades away again into the 
echoing forest. 

C. F. Stone thus describes its breeding habits: " In Potter swamp 
this warbler is a common summer resident, and also in Urbana swamp, 
where it finds ideal nesting situations in the wettest portions of the heavy 
timber. It is a most jubilant singer, rendering its song with animation in 
a ringing, sweet, clear voice, the characteristic song of Potter swamp from 
the last of April to about June 25. They have full sets of eggs as early as 
May 4, and nesting begins, some seasons, as late as June 10, the average 
time, however, is from May 15 to June i. The nests are invariably snugly 
hidden in thick beds of moss at the bases of trees or stumps or decayed 
moss-covered logs, and rarely in the roots and dirt of upturned stumps, 
anywhere from the level of the damp ground to 2 feet above the stagnant 
pools of water. The mossy nest is formed from the bits of moss that are 
pulled out when the cavity is made in the bed of moss, and the lining is 
of the reddish moss stems. The eggs are 4 or 5, decidedly smaller than 
those of the Louisiana water thrush, but a series of both these water thrushes 
will exhibit such an intergradation that they are indistinguishable." 

Seiurus noveboracensis notabilis (Ridgway) 

Grinnell Water Thrush 

Seiurus noevius notabilis Ridgway. Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. 1880. 3:12 
Seiurus noveboracensis notabilis A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 
p. 320. No. 675a 

Description. Coloration practically identical with that of the Northern 
water thrush, but perhaps a little darker and less olive on the upper parts, 
and whiter below, but the size larger and the bill longer. 

Wing 3.1-3.25 inches; tail 2.20-2.50; bill .52. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 44I 

Distribution. This species breeds from northwestern Alaska, central 
Mackenzie and central Keewatin to British Columbia, central Montana 
and northwestern Nebraska and northwestern Michigan; winters from 
Cuba and Mexico to South America. Migrates through the Mississippi 
valley and the South Atlantic coast. Specimens of this subspecies of the 
Water thrush have been reported from Raritan and from Princeton, N. J. 
The only New York specimen was taken at Millers Place, Long Island, 
by A. H. Helme and is now in his collection. It is purely accidental in 
New York. 

Seiurus motacilla (Vieillot) 
Louisiana Water Thrush 

Plate 92 

Turd US motacilla Vieillot. Ois. Amer. Sept. 1807 (1808?) 2:9. pi. 65 
Seiurus motacilla A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 320. No, 676 

motacilla, Lat., wagtail 

Description. Upper parts olive brown; stripe over the eye white; under 
parts white washed on the flanks and under tail coverts with buffy; breast and 
sides streaked with blackish but not so closely as in the Northern water 
thrush, the throat and center of the abdomen being plain white. Sexes 
alike. 

Length 6-6.30 inches; extent 10-10.75; wing 3-3.25; tail 2.25; bill .55; 
tarsus .91. 

Distribution. Breeds from southern Minnesota, southern Michigan, 
Ontario, New York and southern New England to South Carolina and 
northeastern Texas; winters from Mexico, the Bahamas and West Indies 
to Colombia. The New York distribution of this species is shown by map 
on page 27, volume i, of this work. It is a common summer resident in 
the lower Hudson valley and locally as far north as Catskill and even 
the southern end of Lake George. Throughout central and western New 
York it is found in all the ravines of the central lake district as well as in 
the Genesee valley and some of the streams flowing into Lake Erie; also 
in the wooded valley of the Cohocton and Chemung. It is an early migrant, 
appearing in southeastern New York from the 9th to the 15th of April, 



442 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

sometimes not before the 20th; in western New York usually not before 
the 1 8th to the 24th of April. In the fall it is last seen between the 24th 
and 30th of August according to many observers, but the last dates given 
by Chapman for the vicinity of New York City and the observations 
at Englewood, N. J., give September 20 to 30 as the date of departure. 

Haunts and habits. The Louisiana or Large-billed water thrush 
prefers wooded stream sides, especially rugged streams where the water is 
tumbling over the rocks and steep banks. It is found near the bottom of 
these ravines, usually seeking its food of water insects in the shallow stream 
as it runs over beds of shale, or flitting from rock to rock that rise just above 
the surface. In the southern states it is said to abound in rich wooded 
bottomlands, but in New York it is rarely found in swampy localities, 
leaving these situations more to the Northern water thrush. Yet a few 
have been found nesting in swampy woods in the same locality with the 
other species although, as far as my observation goes, there is a sharp 
contrast in the habitat of the two species, the Northern water thrush 
keeping to the flooded swamps where there is dense cover of forest and 
underbrush, and moss-covered logs are in abundance on every hand; 
whereas this species prefers, as stated, the shaly glens of our Finger Lakes 
region, making its nest close to the bottom of the gully, usually only 2 or 
3 feet above the level of the stream which flows through the glen. 

The song of this species resembles somewhat that of the Northern 
water thrush, the flight song being particularly thrilling. This is often 
uttered as the bird rises from the lower portions of the glen and mounts 
up above the treetops, pouring forth a sudden burst of melody which 
Brewster syllables by the words " pseur, pseur, per see, ser," fully as loud 
as that of the Northern water thrush and almost as rapid, but lacking 
the beautiful crescendo termination, and altogether a less fine performance. 
The call note is scarcely different from that of the Northern water thrush, 
which Cliapman describes as a sharp, steely alarm note, " clink," and Thayer 
calls " a ringing chip somewhat less loud and emphatic than that of the 
Louisiana water thrush." Stone says: "In every ravine and gully 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



443 






; A^ 



along Lake Kevika, as well as those in the valley north of Branchport, 
the Louisiana water thrush finds an ideal summer haunt, as wild and weird 
as its ringing, melodious song that is uttered in a most ecstatic manner. 
They arrive in this locality as early as April lo, usually close to April 15, 
and I have noted a single individual as late as October 2, but by September 
25 they are usually gone. 
In a small hemlock-clad 
ravine but one pair will 
be found, while in the 
greater gullies that ex- 
tend from the valley back 
into the hills two miles 
or more as many as three 
or four pairs will make 
their summer home. 
They also occur in Potter 
swamp, Yates county, in 
limited pairs where they 
hide their nest the same 
as the Northern water 
thrush at the base of 
trees, stumps and logs. 
In the gullies, however, 
they select all sorts of 
cavities, always within 
12 feet above the rocky 
bottom over swift flowing 
water or some deep pool. Of over 75 nests examined, probably nine- 
tenths were within 4 feet of the bottom of the gully. A favorite nest 
site is under a dirt, shale or mossy ledge, behind dangling rootlets. 
Sometimes an excavation is made in the mossy bed on nearly perpen- 
dicular banks, in cavities at the base of small trees, in barren slate 



^^ 



Photo by Clarence F. Stone 
Louisiana waterthrush';- nest and eggs 



444 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

stone cavities, and sometimes the same cavity is used two or three 
years in succession. The Louisiana water thrush also has a habit of 
starting as many as three nests, then abandoning them for some other 
site. They are also found occasionally at the extreme entrance of the 
gully and sometimes at the upper end or in the entrance of a small branch 
leading into the main gully. The nests are made of skeletonized leaves, 
moss, rootlets, twiglets, grass stems, and often lined with fine grasses, 
hemlock twigs, dark rootlets, and horse hair, but dead pine needles is 
the usual lining. A characteristic feature of this warbler's nest is the 
doormat or path of leaves, from 6 to 12 inches long, leading from the nest, 
sometimes forming a striking contrast against the dark green mossy back. 
Many times the nest is cunningly concealed behind drooping ferns, but 
the pathway of leaves betrays the location of the nest to the careful observer. 
The female is a close sitter, allowing one to almost touch her, but when 
flushed she glides away, trailing around the rocks and debris with wings 
akimbo and extended tail, nervously dabbling her bill in the water in the 
most dainty manner. This warbler is much imposed upon by the Cowbird 
whose visits usually cause disaster by its clumsiness in filling the nest with 
loose shale or dirt while kicking 2 to 3 of the thrush's eggs out of the nest. 
In two instances I have noticed 5 eggs of the Louisiana water thrush with 
2 of the Cowbird; in two instances, 6 of the water thrush and 2 of the 
Cowbird. Several times nests were deserted where the Cowbird had 
deposited her egg. One egg a day is laid, often with an interval of 5 and 

6 days before the last egg is deposited. If the first nest is destroyed it 
requires 15 days to build a new one and lay 5 eggs. Of 61 nests observed, 

7 contained 4 eggs, 36 contained 5, and 18 had 6 eggs. They vary greatly 
in size and shape and from almost plain to lightly dotted, heavily blotched 
and sometimes beautifully wreathed around the larger ends. The average 
size is .78 by .61 inches. Normally, the nesting period extends from May 
4 to May 30, and young just able to fly are noted out of the nest as early 
as May 20. I consider all fresh June sets second attempts at nesting owing 
to accidents with the first nests." 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 445 

Oporornis formosus (Wilson) 
Kentucky Warbler 

Plate 98 

Sylvia Formosa Wilson. Amer. Orn. 181 1. 3:85. pi. 25, fig. 3 
Sylvicola formosa DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 105, fig. 127 
Oporornis formosus A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. igio. p. 320. No. 677 
oporornis, Gr., <5i:wpa, autumn, and 8pvt?, bird; formosus, Lat., beautiful 

Description. Upper parts olive green; under parts bright yellow; 
fore crown and a broad bar running from the bill to below the eye, black; 
line over the eye bright yellow. Sexes alike. The female slightly duller. 
Fall specimens have the black markings partially veiled. 

Length 5.50-5.75 inches; extent 9.25; wing 2.65-2.90; tail 2; bill .45. 

Distribution. Breeds from northeastern Nebraska, southern Missis- 
sippi, southern Pennsylvania and the lower Hudson valley south to eastern 
Texas and Alabama; winters from Tabasco and Chiapas to Colombia. 
Its distribution in New York is shown by the map on page 28 of volume i 
of this work. It is common as a breeding species only in the lower Hudson 
valley where Doctor Fisher found it a regular summer resident near Ossining 
and Bicknell near Riverdale and Fort Lee. It is also reported from New- 
burgh by F. B. Robinson, and from many localities in New Jersey and 
near New York City. On Long Island it has always been considered rare 
as a stmimer resident, but Mr Helme reports a nest and young from Say- 
ville, L. I., and Mr Babson from Bellport. It has also been noted in the 
migration at Raynor South May 18, 1834, ^^^ Fire Island light August 19,- 
1888 (Butcher, Auk, 6:139), and also from Flatlands (Auk, 10:277). I" 
the interior of New York this is one of the very rarest of our summer 
warblers. It is reported from Chili May 1 894 by Short ; Lockport May 2 1 , 
1891, by Davidson; Rochester, May 14, 1904, by Professor Dodge; and 
its nest has been found near Cincinnatus, June 27, 1903, and at Taylor, 
June II, 1906, by H. C. Higgins. It is probable that this Cortland county 
colony is connected with the Rockland county and northern New Jersey 
range through the Delaware valley. The spring migration of this species 
begins in southeastern New York during the first week in May, the dates 



446 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

ranging from May 2 to 1 8 ; in the fall Doctor Fisher records it as disappearing 
on August 27. 

Haunts and habits. The Kentucky warbler is a bird of the deciduous 
forest, preferring especially densely grown, well-watered woods and over- 
grown clearings, in nearly every instance occurring where there is a dense 
growth of underbrush and a fairly moist atmosphere. Gerald Thayer 
writes: " The song is remarkably loud and clear, strikingly similar to 
that of the Carolina wren; a series of 3 clear whistled notes, repeated 5 
to 10 or more times, " tee-wee-o, tee-wee-o, iee-wee-o," etc. The male while 
singing is usually perched on a branch far up on some tall tree and very 
often seeks a new perch at some distance after singing a few times, flying 
directly and rapidly at a moderate height through the woods. At other 
times it may be found on the ground, walking about like the Ovenbird, 
but more spritely in action." Chapman describes the song as a loud clearly 
whistled performance of 5, 6 or 7 notes, " turdle-turdle,'' clearly heard at 
a distance of 150 yards. During the breeding season it is a persistent 
singer. On one occasion he watched a male for three hours. During 
this time, with the exception of 5 interruptions of less than 45 seconds 
each, he sang with regularity every 12 seconds. 

The nest is placed on the ground or near it in a dense tangle among 
the roots of a tree and is rather bulkily constructed of twigs, rootlets and 
several thicknesses of leaves. The interior is well lined with dark rootlets 
and long horse hair. The eggs are 4 or 5 in niimber, white in ground color, 
speckled and blotched with umber, reddish brown and lilac, evenly dis- 
tributed or forming wreaths near the larger ends. Their average size is 
.74 by .58 inches. Nesting dates from the lower Hudson valley range from 
June I to 14. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 447 

Oporornis agilis (Wilson) 
Connecticut Warbler 

Plate 99 

Sylvia agilis Wilson. Amer. Orn. 1812. 5:64. pi. 39, fig. 4 
Oporornis agilis A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 321. No. 678 

agilis, Lat., active, agile 

Description. Adult male: Upper parts olive green becoming ashy 
on the sides and fore part of the head; throat and fore breast slaty gray; lower 
breast, belly and under tail coverts deep yellow; a distinct white eye ring. 
Female: Throat and upper breast brownish, palest on the throat; other- 
wise similar to the male but duller throughout, showing no ashy or slaty 
gray, but the white eye ring nearly as distinct as in the male. 

Length 5.50 inches ; extent 8.50-9 ; wing 2.75-3 '■> tail 2 ; bill .48 ; tarsus .80. 

Distribution. Breeds from Manitoba to central Minnesota and 
northern Michigan; winters in South America. In spring, rare east of 
the Alleghanies, but in fall common east of the AUeghanies and rare in 
the Mississippi valley. In New York this species is only a transient 
visitant. Although several reports of spring specimens seen have come to 
me from western New York I have been unable to secure or find in col- 
lections any spring specimen from the State. The dates of fall migration 
range between August 26 and October 1 1 , the average date of arrival being 
September 7 and the usual date of departure September 25 to October 5. 
It is by no means rare during the fall migration, especially during the middle 
and third week of September. 

Haunts and habits. As the Connecticut warbler is not found here 
during the spring migration, its song is not heard within our boundaries. 
During its stay with us it is found in thickets of winterberry, shad bush, 
jewel weed and other dense growing herbs and shrubs of the ditches and 
swamplands, usually keeping near the ground and under dense cover. 
It is frequently seen on the bare margin of sluggish brooks or ditches 
walking along like other birds of its genus, not hopping like the dendroica. 

Its call note is a quick, sharp, metallic " plink." Its song, as heard 
in its summer home in the tamarack swamps of Manitoba, is described by 



448 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Seton as resembling the words " beecher, beecher, beecher, beecher, beecher"; 
at other times like the syllables " fru-chappelle, fru-chappelle, fru-chappelle, 
whoit." As several careful observers, notably Maurice Blake and the 
late Frank Antes of Canandaigua, as well as Lawrence Achilles and Tom 
Taylor of Rochester and Ernest H. Short of Chili, have reported seeing 
birds which they felt sure were examples of this species migrating with 
other spring warblers toward the northeast, I made a very careful hunt 
for the Connecticut warbler among the spruce and tamarack bogs and 
swamps of the higher Adirondacks, but entirely without success. New 
York evidently lies outside its breeding range and any spring migrants 
found in the State would undoubtedly be only stragglers from the main 
route of migration. 

Oporornis Philadelphia (Wilson) 

Mourning Warbler 

Plate 100 

Sylvia Philadelphia Wilson. Amer. Om. 1810. 2:101. pi. 14, fig. 6 
Trichas Philadelphia DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 81, fig. 122 
Oporornis Philadelphia A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. igio. p. 321. No. 

679 

Philadelphia, named for Philadelphia, near which Wilson discovered the species 

Description. Very similar in size and shape to the Connecticut 
warbler. Adult male: Head and neck bluish slate; the lores blackish; 
the throat showing blackish feathers among the slaty gray, becoming quite 
black on the breast where it gives way suddenly to the deep yellow of the 
lower breast and belly; sides strongly tinged with the color of the back; 
no white eye ring. Adult female: Has the bluish slate of the head and 
neck lighter and tinged with brownish; the olive green upper parts and 
yellow under parts duller than the male's. Young in the fall: Similar 
to the adult, but lacking the bluish slate of the head and neck and the males 
lacking the blackish seen in the adults in spring. The young females 
being nearly uniform olive green above and yellow below. Young also 
show an obscure whitish eye ring. 

•Length 5.63 inches; extent 7.60-8.15; wing 2.40-2.60; tail 2-2.25; bill 
.45; tarsus .80. 

Distribution. Breeds from central Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, 
southwestern Keewatin, Nova Scotia and the Magdalenes south to central 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 449 

Minnesota, Michigan, central Ontario, New York and Pennsylvania and 
the higher portions of Massachusetts; in the mountains to West Virginia. 
Winters from Nicaragua to Colombia and Ecuador. The New York 
range is shown by the map on page 28 of volume i . It is fairly common as 
a summer resident in the Catskill and Adirondack districts as well as in 
the highlands and colder swamps of central and western New York. Unmis- 
takable evidence of its nesting has been reported at Green Island, Albany 
county, by Austin F. Park; Peterboro and Stockbridge by Maxon and 
Miller; Buffalo by James Savage; Niagara county by J. L. Davison; 
Orleans county by C. F. Possun; Phelps by Bowdish; northern Cayuga 
county by Frank S. Wright; Cincinnatus by H. C. Higgins; Ithaca by 
Reed, Wright and Allen; Scottsville by E. H. Short; the " big gully " 
near Chautauqua lake by H. L. Achilles. I have noticed it breeding in 
several of the glens of Canandaigua and Seneca lakes as well as in Potter 
swamp and in the cooler hillsides overlooking the village of Springville, 
Erie county. 

Haunts and habits. In these localities the nest is usually placed 
among tangles of briers and ferns on the shady side of the gully or among 
second growth in partially cleared woodlands. The eggs are usually 
4 in nttmber, white in ground color, rather sparingly spotted and blotched 
with reddish brown, hazel, light umber and occasionally a few obscure 
shell markings, averaging .72 by .56 inches in size. The nesting dates 
reported vary from June i to 17, the average date being June 7. 

Mr Gerald Thayer writes: " The song, which is not very commonly 
uttered during migration, resembles that of the Kentucky warbler and the 
Maryland yellow-throat in that it consists throughout of a repetition of 
two or three clear, whistled notes and also resembles that of the former 
bird somewhat in the modulation of the voice. The song is decidedly 
softer and more hesitating than that of the Yellow-throat and has no great 
carrying power. The call note resembles somewhat the ' chack ' of the 
Yellow -throat, but is less pronounced." To my ear, the carrying power 
of this warbler's song is fully as great as that of the Yellow-throat. On 



450 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



his nesting grounds I am able to hear it at as great a distance as the Oven 
bird's, in fact, the note seeming to my ear fuller and louder than that of 
any other species except the Ovenbird. 

Mr Verdi Burtch of Branchport thus describes the nesting habits 
of this warbler in Yates county: " In Potter swamp, where the timber 
has been well thinned out, where the ground is wet and springy, where 
the ferns, skunk cabbage, tall rue, spice bush, bishop's cap, false Solomon's 
seal, white baneberry and marsh marigold mingle, and poison ivy and woody 




Mourning warbler's nest and eggs 



Photo by Verdi Burtch 



nightshade cover the stumps and dead tops, and here and there a tall 
dead stub towers above the bushes, here the Mourning warbler makes 
its summer home, nesting along the abandoned wood roads and more 
open places that are now grown up with grass, ferns, skunk cabbage, 
rue and marsh marigolds. It arrives about May 9 to 20 and is fairly 
common, nesting in company with Northern yellow-throats and Golden- 
wing warblers. It begins nestbuilding the last week of May and complete 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 45 1 

sets are laid by June 3 to 10. The eggs are 4 or 5 in number, more often 

5, creamy white in color and vary considerably in style of markings, some 

sets have fine specks with blotches and spots of reddish brown and a few 

lilac shell markings, the markings mostly at the larger end forming a 

wreath. A set of 5 has 4 eggs heavily marked about the larger end with 

bright reddish brown and lilac shell markings and large dauby blotches 

of reddish brown placed irregularly over the balance of the eggs; the other 

egg is well marked about the larger end with a few spots scattered over 

the rest of the egg. Nearly all eggs have a few fine spots or scrawls of 

dark brown like the eggs of Northern yellow-throat and some eggs resemble 

those of the Yellow-throat very much but are mostly larger and rather 

more elongated. In some sets the markings are rather dull, running mostly 

to shell markings. The nest is of dead weeds and grass, lined with fine 

dead grass and in most cases with fine strips of black inner bark or black 

rootlets. In fact, the lining, with very few exceptions, is black. It differs 

from the nest of the Northern yellow-throat by not having any coarse 

grass or dead leaves in the base ; the cavity is larger but more shallow and 

it is broad and flat while that of the Yellow-throat's is small and tall. A 

typical nest measures: diameter, outside, 4 inches; inside, 2 inches; 

depth, outside, 2^ inches; inside, if inches. These swamp nests are usually 

situated in a grassy place among the brush and tops that were left by the 

lumbermen, in a bunch of weeds, or the middle of a bunch of skunk cabbage 

or ferns. One nest was placed on top of a thick vine that ran over the 

ground and there was scarcely any attempt at concealment. Another 

was in a very wet place in the heart of a marsh marigold. Another was 

in a bunch of weeds on a rotted moss and dirt-covered log. The nests 

are usually very well concealed and very near the ground. When a nest 

is found the female usually runs a little ways ahead, then flies slowly to 

a bush, but soon comes back, dodging around among the bushes chipping 

all the time. The chip of the female is sharp and rather loud. It might 

be likened to the noise produced by striking two pebbles together gently. 

When the grass above one nest was parted the female, which was on the 
29 



452 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

nest, hissed and stuck to the nest until almost touched by the hand. The 
male has a habit of sitting on a dead or naked branch high over an open 
space where he sings by the half hour stopping occasionally to preen his 
feathers. The Mourning warbler also nests in an entirely different 
situation near Branchport. June 4, 1903, a nest was found in a dry 
bush lot clearing along a large gully at an elevation of 250 feet above 
the valley. It was placed in a small beech bush 18 inches from the 
ground among wild blackberry bushes, beech stumps and sprouts. It 
contained 2 eggs and no more were laid. They were taken June 7. 
June 21 a second nest was found in the sprouts around a beech stump. 
It contained 4 eggs and was 2^ feet from the ground. As it was only 
3 rods from the place where the first nest was found and as both nest and 
eggs strongly resembled the first nest and eggs, it was undoubtedly a 
second set from the same bird. Both nests were larger and more bulky 
than the Potter swamp nests. One measures: diameter, outside, 6 inches; 
inside, 2 J inches; depth outside, 3§ inches; inside, 2| inches. Both 
nests were of dead weeds and grass, thickly lined with black horse hair. 
"A nest found June 13, 1909, was a little farther up this same hill and 
was placed on the ground in a clump of oxeye daisies close by the highway 
through some woods and it was less than 2 feet from the beaten track. 
It contained 5 eggs." 

Geothlypis trichas trichas (Linnaeus) 
Maryland Yellow-throat 

Plate 98 

Turdus trichas Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 12. 1766. 1:293 
Trichas marilandica DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 80, fig. 123 
Geothlypis trichas trichas A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 322. 

No. 681 

gedthlypis, Gr., y^, earth, and ©Xuiuf?, a proper name, menning unknown, word coined 
by Cabanis in 1847; trichas, Gr., word for thrush or some similar bird, used by Aristotle 

Description. Adult male: Upper parts olive green; throat and breast 
bright yellow changing to dingy white on the abdomen; frontlet and sides 
of the face, the mask, jet black bordered above by bluish gray. Female: 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 453 

Entire upper parts olive green slightly more brownish than in the male; 
forehead often tinged with reddish brown; throat and breast yellowish, 
sometimes dingy white; rest of under parts whitish tinged more or less, 
especially on the sides, with brownish; whitish eye ring; no black 
mask. 

Length 5.33 inches; extent 7.20; wing 2.20; tail 2.05; bill .42; tarsus .80. 

Distribution. Breeds from North Dakota, northern Minnesota, 
northern Ontario and southern Labrador, south to central Texas, northern 
parts of the Gulf States and Virginia; winters from North Carolina and 
Louisiana to Florida, the West Indies and Guatemala. In New York 
this species is a summer resident of all parts of the State. Though it is 
confined to swampy localities, it is abundant in the coastal district as well 
as the central and western counties and even the interior of the Adirondacks 
where I found it breeding commonly at Elk lake and the " Flowed land " 
within a few miles of Mt Marcy. The spring migration begins from the 
28th of April to the loth of May, average date being May 5 in the south- 
eastern counties, May 4 in western New York. In the fall it disappears 
between the 15th and the 25th of October, in the coastal district, and from 
the 5th to the 15th of October in western New York. The Yellow- throat, 
like the Yellow warbler, Redstart and Ovenbird, is one of the dominant 
species of this family in New York, and is one of the four best known 
warblers in all portions of the State. 

Haunts and habits. The Maryland yellow-throat is not a bird of 
the dense forest, but frequents the swampy thicket and the edges of moist 
woods, the margins of wooded streams, or dense tangles in damp open 
woodlands. I have even found it a member of the marsh society far from 
the edge of the wood, associated with the Swamp sparrows and Marsh 
wrens, especially where a few bushes were intermingled with the dense 
growths of flags and sedges. Where garden shrubbery lies near the edge 
of ponds or swampy tracts, the Yellow-throat will sometimes make its 
home among the berry and currant bushes or about the edges of the garden 
shrubbery. It spends most of its time near the ground but is rarely seen 
walking about like some of its near relatives, but almost continually flitting 



454 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



from one weed or low bush to another, peering about in all sorts of crannies 
for caterpillars and other small insects. 

The call note is a sharp chick or chack, sometimes changing to chit 
or quit. It also utters a variety of jarring, chattering notes almost sug- 
gestive of the scolding of a wren, sometimes a little long-drawn snarl, 
as Thayer calls it, a wrenlike " b-r-r-r-r-r." Its song is a full-voiced per- 
formance but rather irregular in form. The commonest form has usually 
been written " wichity, wichity, wichity," or " rapity, rapity, rapity." This 

song is almost endlessly varied, 
but is a curious ringing whistle 
which will certainly be sug- 
gested by these attempts to 
syllabize the ditty. 

The nest is usually placed 
on the ground or near it, among 
thick bushes or weeds, some- 
times in a tussock of marsh 
grass, sometimes in a low bush 
or in a tangle of briers. It is 
rather bulky in construction, 
composed of dead leaves, coarse 
grasses and strips of bark, lined 
with finer grasses, tendrils and 
rootlets, sometimes a few long 
hairs. The eggs are 3 to 5 in 
number, usually 4, of a shiny white ground color, speckled, spotted and 
blotched with reddish brown, purplish black, umber and a few spots of 
lilac. Sometimes the markings are in long pen lines and forming a wreath 
near the larger end. The average size is .72 by .54 inches. Nesting 
dates in western New York and on Long Island vary from May 24 to 31, 
fresh sets being found as late as June 12. Occasionally nests with fresh eggs 
are found as late as the 4th to the loth of July, possibly representing a 




Photo bj- L. S. Horton 
Maryland yellow-throat on nest 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 455 

second brood, although I have no definite evidence that a second one is. 
reared. 

Icteria virens virens (Linnaeus) 
Yellow-breasted Chat 

Plate 98 

Turdus virens Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:171 
Icteria viridis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 126, fig. 71 
Icteria virens virens A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 324. No. 683 
icteria, from Gr., meaning jaundice, referring to the bird's yellow color; virens, 
being green 

Description. Upper parts olive green; throat and breast rich yellow; 
belly white; lore black; stripe from nostril over the eye, upper and 
under eyelid and a narrow maxillary streak white ; bill black ; feet leaden 
blue. Female : Very similar but duller, especially the lore, which is gray- 
ish. Young: Like the female. 

Length 7.44 inches; extent 10; wing 3; tail 3.15; bill .55; tarsus 1.02. 

Distribution. Breeds from southern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, 
Ontario, central New York and southern New England to the gulf coast; 
winters from Pueblo and Yucatan to Costa Rica. The distribution of 
the Chat in New York is shown by the map on page 27, volume i of 
this work. It is a common summer resident in the lower Hudson valley 
and Long Island. It is extremely local in distribution in other portions 
of southern, central and western New York, occurring especially in the 
Delaware, Susquehanna and Chemung valleys and near the southern ends 
of the Finger lakes. The average date of arrival in southeastern New 
York is May 9, but it occasionally arrives as early as the 2d of May; in 
some seasons it is not noted till the 14th. In central New York the dates 
of arrival are somewhat earlier, averaging May 5; sometimes at Ithaca 
and Branchport as early as the 30th of April. The last fall dates occur 
between August 24 and September 13. Definite breeding dates from the 
interior of New York are as follows: Cohoes, June 19, 1878, A. F. Park; 
Kendall, June 1885 and 1889, David Bruce; West Seneca, Jime 17, 1895, 
James Savage; Holland Patent, June 6, 1898, Williams, Auk 15:331; 



456 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Granville, June 17, 1890, F. T. Pember; Chili, May 26, 1890, E. H. 
Short; Branchport, June 13, 1899, Stone, Auk, 16:285; Castleton, June 
1897, nest and eggs in State Museum; Ithaca, 1900 to 1910, Fuertes, 
Wright and Allen; Penn Yan, July 8, 1900, Verdi Burtch; Monroe county, 
June 2, 1902, E. H. Short; Cincinnatus, June 25, 1902, H. C. Higgins; 
Peterboro, June 17, 1877, adult male but no nest reported, Gerritt S. 
Miller jr, Maxon, Auk, 20:266; South hill, Canandaigua lake, July 5, 
1906, Burtch, Stone and Eaton; Oneonta, summer of 1900, W. E. Yager; 
Coming, summer 1902, George P. HoUister. 

Haunts and habits. The Chat is not a bird of the dense woodland 
or of open situations, but is confined to thick coverts of shrubs, vines and 
young saplings, preferring a denser covert than even the Chestnut-sided 
warbler and the Catbird. It is rarely seen far from such situations and 
its distribution will depend on the presence of dense tangles of vines and 
shrubbery or thick growth of brush where the forest has recently been 
cut on some hillside pasture or where bushes are allowed to grow up in 
confusion upon the hillside or in some bit of swamp or bunch of rocks. 
Though the Chat is so averse to being seen, he will sometimes be found 
even within the limits of our villages and cities where suitable thickets 
of considerable extent are found and his loud song is frequently heard 
from the village streets and sidewalks. " The voice of this bird is flexible 
to an almost unlimited degree. It has no notes suggesting its place among 
the warblers. Perhaps the commonest note is a harsh, rather nasal chuck, 
often prolonged into chuck-uck. The song is almost impossible to describe. 
It begins with two slow, deep notes; then follows one high-pitched and 
interrogative note; then several, rapid and even, and from that point on 
to the end, I have never been able to give any rendering of the clucking 
and gurgling that completes the long song. As far as I have described, 
it may be rendered thus: quoort-quoort ! whee? whew-whew-whew ! " (Alli- 
son, Chapman " Warblers of North America "). Bicknell notes the song 
period from the date of arrival to the third or even the fourth week of 
Jtdy, quite regularly to the middle of the month. An imperfect song is 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 457 

sometimes heard as late as August 14, the last perfect song, however, 
being heard between July 15 and August i; but the chut or chat note can 
be heard as long as the bird is present. The wonderful performances 
of the Chat during his singing ecstacy have been well described by Tavemer 
(Bird Lore 8, 131): " His love song is a woodland idyll and makes up 
for much of his shortcomings. From some elevated perch from which 
he can survey the surrounding waste for a considerable distance he flings 
himself into the air, straight up he goes on fluttering wings — legs dangling, 
head raised, his whole being tense and spasmodic with ecstacy. As he 
rises he pours forth a flood of musical gurgles and whistles that drop from 
him in silvery cascades to the ground, like sounds of fairy chimes. As 
he reaches the apex of his flight, his wings redouble their beatings, working 
straight up and down, while the legs hanging limply down remind the 
observer of drawings we sometimes see from the brushes of Japanese artists. 
He holds his hovering position for an instant, then the music gradually 
dies away and he sinks toward the ground. He regains his natural poise 
and seeks another perch like that from which he started." The nest of 
the Chat is placed in the midst of some thicket or tangle of vines or briers 
close to the ground, usually about 3 feet up. It is a rather bulky structure 
composed of dead leaves, grasses, weed stalks, strips of bark, lined with 
fine grasses. The eggs are from 3 to 5, usually 4 in number, pure white 
in ground color, sometimes tinged with pink or greenish; usually rather 
evenly spotted with reddish brown, chestnut and purplish lavender, rather 
sharp and clearly outlined, but sometimes forming a wreath near the 
larger end, the size averaging .92 by .72 inches. The nesting dates in 
southeastern New York range from May 25 to June 13; in central New York 
May 27 to June 14. 



458 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Wilsonia citrina (Boddaert) 
Hooded Warbler 

Plate gS 

Muscicapa citrina Boddaert. Table PL Enl. 1783. 41 
Wilsonia mitrata DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 107, fig. 128 
Wilsonia citrina A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 324. No. 684 

wilsonia, genus named by Bonaparte in honor of Alexander Wilson, father of Ameri- 
can ornithology; citrina. like a citron, yellow 

Description. Upper parts olive green; face and under parts bright 
yelloxv; 3 pairs of outer tail feathers largely white; a jet black hood covering 
the crown of the head extending around the sides of the neck and covering 
the throat, inclosing the brilliant yellow face. Female: The whole face 
and under parts yellow, black appearing behind the crown and running 
down the side of the neck, barely indicating the hood. 

Length 5.67 inches; extent 8.25; wing 2.58; tail 2.3; bill .4; tarsus ."jj. 

Distribution. Breeds from southeastern Nebraska, southwestern 
Michigan, central New York and the lower Connecticut valley soitth to 
Louisiana and Georgia; winters from Vera Cruz and Yucatan to Panama, 
occasionally to Cuba. Its breeding range in New York is shown by the 
map on page 28 of volume i of this work. It is rare on Long Island and 
apparently occurs only as a transient visitant in the immediate vicinity of 
New York, and in Westchester county it is also a rare species; but farther 
north and west, especially near Highland Falls, it is found as an abundant 
summer resident; also at Palenville, Greene county (La Dow, Auk, 25:480). 
In the interior of New York its distribution is local, but breeding colonies 
of considerable extent have been noticed in Cortland county by Higgins; 
in Madison county by Maxon, Bagg and Embody; in northern Cayuga and 
Wayne counties by Rathbun and Wright; near Brockport by David Bruce; 
near Forest Lawn, Monroe county, by Dr C. A. Dewey and Mr George 
Perkins; near Springville by E. H. Eaton; in East Hamburg by Thomas 
N. Bunting; near Mayville by A. E. Kibbe. The date of the arrival of 
the Hooded warbler in spring averages Mays i^i southeastern New York; 
in central New York from the 6th to the 12th of May; Long Island records, 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 459 

which are very few, range between April 30 and May 14. The last appear- 
ance in the fall is usually between the ist and 8th of September. In the 
vicinity of New York Chapman gives September 20 to 30. 

Haunts and habits. The Hooded warbler prefers a deciduous forest 
although mixed woodlands are frequently occupied in central and western 
New York. The preferred growth is beech, maple, cherry and hornbeam, 
or oak, chestnut, hickory and sassafras, or oak and laurel, and if the wood- 
land is rich and well watered it is all the more attractive to this beautiful 
warbler — not open woodland, but rather mature forest, with a considerable 
growth of saplings and underbrush of moderate height. The males are 
frequently seen above the line of undergrowth in the lower branches of 
the taller trees, singing their songs throughout the breeding season. 

This song is well characterized by Chapman in his " Warblers of North 
America " as distinguished by an " easy, sliding gracefulness. To my 
ear the words ' You must come to the woods or you won't see me,' uttered 
quickly and made to run one into the other, exactly fit the bird's more 
prolonged vocal efforts though they are far from agreeing with the attempts 
at syllabication of others. The call is a high, sharp chip, easily recognized 
after it has been learned." Allison says the usual note is clear and nervous, 
but not a metallic chirp. " There are two common songs, both uttered 
on every possible occasion in spring when the woods are ringing with them. 
The most frequent is a short one of four syllables ' se-whit, se-wheer '; a longer 
song may be rendered ' Whee-whee-whee-a-wheer,' accented as marked. A 
sharp or very clear-cut chirt is sometimes to be heard late in the evening, 
about dusk." Bicknell agrees with Allison and other observers in noting 
two distinct songs of this warbler. He has heard the song as late as July 
I to 15 and occasionally again during the fourth week of Augvist. The song 
of this warbler is one of the few which the author can hear with perfect 
distinctness and enjoy. While the song of the Chestnut-sided warbler 
is audible to him only for a distance of 5 or 6 rods, and the song of the 
BlackpoU is utterly inaudible even at a distance of 3 rods, the song of 
the Hooded warbler can be heard almost throughout the forest for a dis- 



460 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

tance of 30 or 40 rods, and the description which is given by Langille 
seems to fit very well the birds of western New York as it did when he 
described it years ago in his " Birds in Their Haunts ": " che-reek, che- 
reek, che-reek, chi-di-ee" the first three with a loud, bell-like ring, the rest 
much accelerated with a falling inflection. 

The nest of the Hooded warbler is usually placed in a low sapling 
or bush from i to 3 feet from the ground. In my experience it is the 
easiest of all the warbler nests to find. Wherever I have noticed a Hooded 
warbler singing in a patch of woodland, I have been very successful in 
locating the nest by placing my eye close to the ground and looking through 
the shrubbery from below the cover of the undergrowth. Then the nest % 

will almost surely be seen if one is within a few rods, appearing like a bunch 
of leaves a short distance above the ground. As soon as the female is 
frightened from the nest she flits about from bush to bush, flashing her 
tail and uttering a mild chip or cheep. The nest bears some resemblance 
to that of the Indigo bird, but is more neatly constructed of dry leaves, 
strips of bark, grasses and rootlets lined with fine grasses and sometimes 
a few dark rootlets. The eggs are 3 to 5 in number, almost always 4, 
creamy white in ground color, rather sparingly spotted, especially in wreaths 
about the larger ends, with reddish chestnut, purplish, and obscure shell 
markings of pale lavender. The average size is .74 by .54 inches. Nesting 
dates from southeastern New York range from May 26 to June 15; from 
western New York May 18 to June 12. 

Wilsonia pusilla pusilla (Wilson) 
Wilson Warbler 

Plate 98 -C 

Muscicapa pusilla Wilson. Amer. Orn. 1811. 3:103. pi. 26, fig. 4 
Wilsonia pusilla DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt. 2, p. 108, fig. 117 
Wilsonia pusilla pusilla A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 325. 
No. 685 

pusilla, Lat., small 

Description. Upper parts olive green; crown shining jet black bordered 
on the frontlet and sides of the head with bright yellow ; under parts bright 



t. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 46 1 

yellow. Female: Like the male, but the colors less bright and the black 
cap more or less veiled. Fall specimens: The crown tipped with olive 
in the male, the young females lacking the black cap. 

Length 5 inches; extent 6.97; wing 2.21 ; tail 2; bill .32. 

Distribution. Breeds from central Mackenzie, central Keewatin and 
central Ungava and central Newfoundland south to southern Saskatchewan, 
northern Minnesota, central Ontario, New Hampshire, Maine and Nova 
Scotia. Winters from Guatemala to Costa Rica. Migrates mainly along 
the AUeghanies. In New York this warbler is only a transient, the most 
careful search for it in the Adirondacks having, as yet, been fruitless, 
although it is recorded from northern New Hampshire and Maine as a sum- 
mer resident. The spring migration begins near the coast from the 9th 
to the 17th of May, the 12th being the average date. In western New York 
it is occasionally noted as early as the 3d of May, but the i ith seems to 
be the average date of arrival. The last birds pass northward between 
the 22d and 31st of May, a few dates in southeastern New York running 
as late as June 13. In the fall, migrants come from the north between the 
loth and the 27th of August, sometimes not before the 9th of September, 
and the last depart for the south from the ist to the 6th of October. The 
species is rather erratic in abundance, some years scarcely being noticed 
at all, other seasons appearing in large numbers, but in general, it is called 
an uncommon species in the southeastern portion of the State and in many 
stations of central New York it is regarded one of the rarer warblers; but 
in all localities near the southern shore of Lake Ontario as well as the 
region about the central lakes, the Wilson warbler is quite regular in 
occurrence, but the abundance varies as has been noted by many observers. 
The late David Bruce of Brockport called my attention to the fact that 
during the years while he was collecting in Monroe county he was unable 
to secure specimens of the Black cap for several seasons; then perhaps 
in one day he would notice hundreds of the species and be able to secure 
all the specimens he needed for years to come. Personally, I have suc- 
ceeded in recording the species every spring, while observing in Monroe, 
Erie and Ontario counties, but, on the average, it is considerably less 



462 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

common than the Canada warbler, but decidedly more common than the 
Tennessee and Orange-crowned warblers during the spring migration. 

Haunts and habits. Wilson's black cap is usually noticed among the 
lower shrubbery, thickets, brush piles and undergrowth at the edge of 
the forest rather than in the taller trees. " Its song suggests somewhat 
in miniature that of the Northern water thrush although it is itself quite 
loud and rich, a bright, hurried, rolling twitter, suddenly changed into 
more of a trill, richer and somewhat lower in tone. The first portion of 
the song varies in length and richness, sometimes longer and fuller in tone, 
more often shorter and weaker than the second, while some individuals 
omit it altogether, uttering only the trill when the song is rather difficult 
to recognize. This song is about as loud as that of the Nashville warbler 
or slightly louder and resembles it somewhat. The call note is a weak 
but ringing tschip." (Gerald Thayer MSS.) 

Wilsonia canadensis (Linnaeus) 
Canada Warbler 

Plate 94 

Muscicapa canadensis Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 12. 1766. 1:327 
Sylvicola pardalina DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 91, fig. 115 
Wilsonia canadensis. A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 325. No. 686 
canadensis, of Canada, quite appropriate name of this warbler 

Description. Upper parts bluish gray; forehead and spot before and 
behind the eye mostly black; under parts yellow; a well-defined necklace of 
black streaks on -the forebreast and lower neck; loral stripe and eye ring 
yellow. Female: In similar pattern but less brightly colored, and black 
on the forehead and cheeks obscured; the black necklace also less pro- 
nounced. Young: Like the female but duller and tinged with brownish 
on the back; black necklace scarcely discernible. 

Length 5.61 inches; extent 8.1; wing 2.53; tail 2.23; bill .4; tarsus .75. 

Distribution. Breeds from central Alberta, southern Keewatin, north- 
ern Ontario, northern Quebec and Newfoundland south to Minnesota, 
Michigan and Massachusetts; in the Alleghanies to North Carolina and 
Tennessee; winters from Guatemala to Educador and Peru. The distri- 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 463 

bution in New York is shown by the map on page 28, volume i of this work. 
It is a common summer resident of the second growth, slashings and 
burnt lands of the Catskills and Adirondacks, and in many localities in 
central and western New York. Miller and Maxon have found it a 
common summer resident in the vicinity of Peterboro ; Ralph and Bagg in 
northern Oneida county; Embody near Verona Beach, Oneida lake; Burtch 
and Stone in Potter swamp; W. E. Yager near Oneonta; Reed and 
Wright south of Ithaca; James Savage and the author in Bergen swamp; 
the author in the gully sides and hill slope woodlands of Cattaraugus 
and southern Erie counties; H. L. Achilles in "the gulf" near Chautauqua 
lake. The spring migration of this species begins from the 3d to the 1 2th 
of May both in eastern and western New York, average date being 
about May 8. Some seasons it has not been noted earlier than May 14. 
The principal migration flight is passed by the 25th or the 28th of May. In 
the fall the return migration begins from the loth to the 21st of August 
and the last migrants depart between September 19 and October 12. 

Haunts and habits. The Canada warbler during the migration season 
is found about our dooryard shrubbery, and the thickets on the edges 
of streams and woodlands. It is very spritely at this season and its song 
is frequently heard. It feeds nearer the ground than the dendroicas, as 
is the case with the Wilson and the Hooded warblers. I am always sure 
to find it about the tangles of vines and berry bushes in neglected spots 
near the edges of the villages, cities and parklands during the first three 
weeks of May. In the nesting season we must seek for it in the cooler 
gullies of central and western New York or in damp, cool woodlands of 
deciduous or mixed growth, usually at an altitude of 1000 to 2000 feet, 
but it nests in Bergen swamp as well as Oak Orchard swamp where the 
altitude is scarcely above 500 feet, and the evidence seems to indicate 
that a high degree of humidity and a dense covert of herbs and shrubbery 
is more to be desired by this species than a low temperature, although 
the two may go together. In Potter swamp the Canada warbler is found 
in the same situations as those preferred by the Mourning and Golden- 



464 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

winged warblers, in close proximity to the nesting sites of the Water thrush 
and Maryland yellow-throat. It is not a warbler of the dense woodland, 
but prefers an open growth of trees with a dense undergrowth of vines 
and shrubbery. In Erie and Cattaraugus counties I have noticed the 
nest usually concealed among a dense growth of ferns and blackberry 
bushes close to the ground or resting upon it, a rather bulky affair con- 
structed of weed stalks, leaves, grasses and strips of bark lined with fine 
grasses and sometimes a few long hairs. The eggs are 3 to 5 in number, 
usually 4, of a white ground color marked more or less thickly with spots 
and blotches of reddish brown, gray and lavender. The average dimensions 
are .68 by .52 inches. Nesting dates in central and western New York 
vary from June i to 20, usual date June 6. 

" The song is very brisk and clear toned, a series of 10 or more short 
notes uttered in rapid succession and with considerable snap, a very pretty 
warble and one of the most noticeable warbler songs to be heard in the 
east, frequently uttered during migration. The call, a peculiar ' tang' 
is recognizable by its vigor and somewhat metallic or ringing tone " (Gerald 
Thayer MSS.). Chapman syllabizes the song as " riip-it-che, rup-it-che, 
rup-it-chitt-it-lit. 

Setophaga ruticilla (Linnaeus) 
Redstart 

Plate 97 

Motacilla ruticilla Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:186 
Muscicapa ruticilla DcKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 11 1, fig. 68 
Setophaga ruticilla A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 326. No. 687 
setdphaga, from Gr., meaning insect-eating; ruticilla, from Lat., red-tail 

Description. Male: Colors salmon orange and black, the orange 
appearing in 2 conspicuous patches on the sides of the breast and 
zones through the basal portion of all the wing feathers and the basal 
portion of all the tail feathers except the central pair; black forms nearly 
all the remaining upper parts, especially the head, neck, back, the greater 
portion of the wings, the central tail feathers and the terminal zone of 
the tail; the central abdomen white. Female: Grayish olive brown where 
the male is black on the upper parts and yellow where the male is orange, 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 465 

the head being nearly plain gray; the throat and under parts grayish white; 
yellowish patches on the sides of breast and sides of tail are conspicuous; 
the yellow patch in the wing is not as extensive as the male's orange patch. 
Young resemble the female, young males in the spring passing gradually 
into the plumage of the adult. Specimens midway between the colors of 
the male and female are frequently seen showing more or less black feath- 
ers on the breast and gradually changing into the black plumage of the male 
on the back. 

Length 5.42 inches; extent 7.9; wing 2.57; tail 2.27; bill .35; tarsus .66. 

Distribution. Breeds from central British Colimibia, central Mac- 
kenzie, southern Keewatin, northern Quebec and Newfoundland to Wash- 
ington, Colorado, Arkansas and North Carolina; winters in the West Indies 
and from central Mexico to Ecuador and Guiana. It is a common svunmer 
resident of New York, breeding in all portions of the State. I have found 
its nest in Central Park, New York City, and in all the deciduous wood- 
lands examined in eastern, central and western New York, and in the slash- 
ings of the Mclntyre Iron Company on the slopes of Skylight and Mt 
Marcy in the Adirondacks. The Redstart is probably as universally 
distributed as the Ovenbird and the Yellow warbler but is not becoming 
accustomed to civilized conditions so rapidly as the latter, though adapting 
itself, perhaps, more easily than the Ovenbird. The spring migration 
begins between the 27th of April and the 7th of May, depending upon 
the advance of the season, average date near New York being about May i ; 
in western New York, May 2 or 3. In the fall the last migrants depart 
between the 23d of September and the 4th of October. 

Haunts and habits. The Redstart prefers a deciduous woodland 
with plentiful undergrowth of saplings and low trees. I have found it 
nesting in low, damp woods as well as in dry, well-drained upland woods; 
also in mixed woodland with a considerable growth of pine or hemlock, 
and in the Adirondacks where spruces occupy half the ground. This 
flaming little warbler is one of the liveliest of the family, continually 
fluttering about among the foliage and darting after flying insects, being 
almost as expert a flycatcher as the Wood pewee; in fact, the shape of its 
bill and the bristling of the rictus have often beguiled ornithologists into 



466 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 




Redstart's nest and eggs 



Photu hy Rulpi. S. Puddutk 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



467 



placing it among the true flycatchers. As it flutters about the foliage 
it carries the wings and tail partially expanded, being even more addicted 
to this habit than the Magnolia warbler or any member of the family 
with which I am familiar. The general resemblance to the flitting of a 
butterfly has often been remarked by bird students with whom I have 
visited its haunts. 

The call note of the Redstart is a characteristic tsip. The Redstart 
has several distinct songs. Chapman syllables one as " ching, ching, 
chee; ser-wee, swee, swee-e-e." Another 
is often written " zee-zee-zee," sharp 
and rasping in tone, suggestive of the 
Black and white warbler's. Sometimes 
it has a resemblance to the buzz of the 
Parula's song; again to the wheezing of 
the Black-throated blue. It is always 
so thin and wiry in quality that the 
author is unable to hear it for more 
than twice the distance of the Black- 
poll warbler's song. 

In my experience the nest of the 
Redstart is the most neatly constructed 
of any of our warblers' nests, though 
not so elaborate or so highly orna- 
mented as some. The materials used 

are fine shreds of plant down, the thin gray outer covering of milkweed 
stalks, spiders' webs, the inner bark of vines, and grasses, woven into a 
thin but compact and shapely cup, lined with fine grasses and thin 
brown shreds of bark and brownish root fibers and long horse hair; 
rarely a few feathers are found in its construction. The nest is usually 
placed in the upright fork of a sapling from 6 to 12 feet from the 
ground although I have found many nests in oaks, maples and beeches 

at a height of 20 and even 35 feet. The eggs are 3 to 5 in number, 
30 




Photo by L. S. Horton 
American redstart on nest 



468 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

almost universally 4, of a beautiful creamy white ground color, rarely 
with a greenish tinge, marked with specks and blotches of cinnamon 
brown, reddish, lilac and occasionally a few dark umber epots, with 
obscure shell markings of lavender. Sometimes a distinct wreath is 
formed near the larger end and the rest of the egg is nearly plain; some- 
times these markings are more evenly distributed. The eggs in my experi- 
ence var>' considerably in size, but the average dimensions are about .64 
by .48 inches. Nesting dates in western New York vary from May 20 
to June 10. Later fresh sets are often found as late as the 26th of June 
or even the loth of July. The average date for fresh eggs, however, is 
May 28. Near New York City many fresh sets are recorded as early as 
May i^. 

Family I>/IOTA.CILLir)AE 

Wagtails 

■' Wings rather long and pointed; secondaries large and elongated; 
primaries only 9; tail as long as the wing, square or rounded; bill shorter 
than the head, slender, acute, straight and notched near the tip; nostril 
uncovered ; rictus slightly bristled ; tarsus slender and scutellate ; toes long 
and slender, the inner one cleft, the outer one joined by half its joint to 
the inner; hind toe with long straightish claw; plumage somewhat varie- 
gated; moult double. 

The wagtail family is more developed in the Old World than in 
America. The members are medium small in size, more or less gregarious 
and migratory in habit; they are insectivorous and largely terrestrial, our 
species being walkers like the larks to which they bear a decided resemblance 
both in structure and habits. They differ from the larks, however, in 
the structure of the bill, the tarsus and the double moult. Our American 
species are boreal or arctic in distribution and are only birds of passage 
in the eastern states, frequenting the bare shores, mud fiats and wide 
plowed fields. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 469 

Anthus rubescens (Tunstall) 
Pipit 

Plate 69 

Alauda rubescens Tunstall. Om. Britannica. 1771. 2 
Anthus ludovicianus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 76, li<:;. 99 
Anthus rubescens A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 328. No. 697 
anthus, Gr., avOo?, some kind of a small bird; rubescens, Lat., becoming red 

Description. Upper ports grayish brown; centers of the feathers 
showing obscure dusky shaft streaks; wings and tail fuscous; wing coverts 
tipped with buflfy and wing feathers edged with the same; a buffy super- 
ciliary line; imder parts varying from dull white to buff or even ocherous; 
streaked with blackish on the breast and sides; the 2 outer tail feathers largely 
white. Fall specimens are browner on the upper parts; spring birds often 
slaty gray. Sexes alike. Hind claw elongated. 

Length 6.25-7 inches; extent 10.25-11; wing 3.25-3.50; tail 2.75-3; 
bill .5; tarsus .9. 

Distribution. The Pipit is an arctic species, breeding in northern 
Alaska, Mackenzie, west coast of Davis strait, west coast of Greenland, 
south to Great Slave lake, central Keewatin and Newfoundland, occasionally 
south in the mountains to California, Colorado and New Mexico. Winters 
from southern California, Ohio and New Jersey to the gulf coast and 
Guatemala. In New York State it is an abundant transient visitant in 
suitable localities, arriving on the coast of Long Island from the 12th to 
the 29th of March and disappearing from the 15th to the 25th of April, 
a few sometimes remaining until the 3d or even the 27th of May. In 
western New York the spring migration occurs mostly in April, but the 
species is much less common in the interior of the State during the spring 
than during the fall migration. Records from Erie and Monroe counties 
vary from the 15th of April to the 12th of May. In the fall the Pipit 
makes its appearance from the i6th to the 24th of September, sometimes 
as early as the 6th, and departs for the south from the 25th of October to 
the 1 6th or even the 30th of November, a few individuals remaining 
throughout the winter on the tidal fiats of Long Island. During the fall 



470 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

migration it is exceedingly abundant on the mud flats and marshes of the 
central lake region and the shores of the Great Lakes, as well as along the 
larger rivers and on the coast of Long Island, occurring in the same localities 
as the Pectoral and Red-backed sandpipers. 

Haunts and habits. When disturbed, the pipits rise with an easy 
undulating flight, uttering a soft dee-dee, mounting high in the air and hover- 
ing about over the marshes, sometimes returning to within a few feet of 
the intruder. They waUc about or run hurriedly over the muddy and 
sandy shores in search of aquatic insects and seeds which are left by the 
receding water. In the spring, when the flats of western New York are 
usually flooded with water, the Pipit occurs mostly on plowed fields and 
burned tracts, and even on the hilltops. I have noticed the spring speci- 
mens are of a much more grayish cast above and of a lighter shade on the 
imder parts than the fall specimens. 

Family MIMIDAB 

Thrashers 

Wing short and rounded; lo primaries; tail large, long and rounded; 
bill slender, usually more or less curved, about equal to the head in length; 
rictus bristled ; tarsus equal in length to the middle toe with its claw, the 
toes deeply cleft ; size medium ; colors rather sober grays and browns. 

Thrashers are closely related to the wrens and are fully as melodious in 
voice, some of them often surpassing the thrushes in this respect, especially 
our world-famous Mockingbird which is regarded by some as the best 
songster of the world. They frequent low growth and shrubbery and 
often seek their food upon the ground. They are largely insectivorous, 
but resort more than the wrens to a diet of fruit in its season. The family 
is exclusively American and numbers about 40 species, more southerly 
in distribution than the wrens, barely reaching beyond the upper austral 
zone. They are only slightly less nervous and spritely in habits than the 
wrens, continually bobbing about or pumping their tails, which has given 
them the family name of Thrasher. The nests are bulky and constructed 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 47 1 

in a thick covert of shrubbery. The eggs are usually 4 or 5, of a color 
varying from deep bluish green- to grayish and speckled. 

The food and economic relations of the thrashers are discussed in 
the Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture for 1895, 
pages 405-18; also in various bulletins of the Biological Survey, especially 
no. 17 by Doctor Judd. 

Mimus polyglottos polyglottos (Linnaeus) 
Mockingbird 

Plate 1,11 

Turdus polyglottos Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 10. 1758. 1:169 
Orpheus polyglottus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 67, fig. 84 
Mimus polyglottos polyglottos A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 
p. 331. No. 703 

mimus, a mimic; polyglottos, from Gr., meaning many tongued 

Description. Upper parts ashy gray; lower parts soiled white; wings 
and tail fuscous ; basal portion of the primaries and a portion of the greater 
coverts white showing as a large white wing patch in flight ; 3 outer tail feathers 
largely white, the outermost one entirely so. Young: Brown; lower parts 
dull whitish, speckled with dusky. 

Distribution. The Mockingbird inhabits the southern United States 
from eastern Nebraska, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, to eastern Texas and 
southern Florida, occasionally as far north as Wisconsin, Ontario and' 
Massachusetts. On Long Island and in southeastern New York this bird, 
has been reported on numerous occasions and there seems to be some- 
evidence that it has bred near Rockaway, Long Island, and possibly in 
other portions of southeastern New York; but no definite evidence to this: 
effect has ever been brought forward. The New York specimens have been 
recorded as follows: Rockaway, Long Island, September 1871 (Lawrence,. 
Forest and Stream, 10, 235); Rockaway, November 7, 1877 (Lawrence, 
N. O. C. Bui. 3:129); Riverdale, October 28, and November 21, 1877 
(Bicknell, N. O. C. Bui. 3:129); Brooklyn, 1877 (Coues, N. O. C. 
Bui. 4:32); Gravesend, August 9, 1879, young bird (DeL Berier, N. O. 
C. Bui. 5:46); Fort Hamilton, October i and 2, 1880 (DeL Berier, N. O. 



472 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

C. Bui. 6:125); Flatbush, Long Island, November 1884 (Dutcher, 
Auk, 5:183); Millers Place, Long Island, May 10, 1887 (A. H. Helme); 
Shelter island, April 29, 1891 (W. W. Wbrthington) ; Croton-on-the- 
Hudson, winter of 1899 (Miss Annie Van Cortlandt); Floral Park, Long 
Island, August 27, 1900 (Childs, Auk, 17:390); Rockaway Beach, Septem- 
ber 14, 1902, a young bird (Braislin, Auk, 20:53). In the interior of New 
York it has also been taken, especially in the western portion of the State. 
J. L. Davison reports a specimen from Lockport, December 27, 1906; 
Ottomar Reinecke writes that it has been taken occasionally near Buffalo; 
Miss Evelyn Moore reports it from Olean; and several specimens have 
been seen in the vicinity of Rochester by different bird students nearly 
every year for the last 10 years, sometimes in the spring, especially in 
May; other times they appear in the early winter and have been observed 
week after week, but in every instance, although the birds have been fed, 
they seemed unable to survive the coldest part of the winter, usually 
disappearing about the third week in January. Near the shore of Lake 
Erie, between Dunkirk and Silver Creek, it is supposed to breed, but I 
have never known of any person who has found its nest. Miss Sarah 
Waite observed it in full song in that vicinity during the spring of 1900. 
It is thus evident that this famous songster is scarcely able to withstand 
our northern winters, although it may breed occasionally within the limits 
of the State. If it would only migrate a few hundred miles to the southward 
and return again in the spring this bird could undoubtedly be introduced 
in New York, but all specimens which have been liberated have disappeared. 
Haunts and habits. The wonderful song powers of the Mockingbird 
are too well known to require description. In habits it resembles our 
Brown thrasher, to which it is closely related. Its nest also is similar 
to the thrasher's nest, but usually placed in thick bushes. The eggs are 
of a bluish green ground color, heavily speckled with different shades of 
brown. They average i by .75 inches in dimensions. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 473 

Dumetella carolinensis (Linnaeus) 
Catbird 

Plate loi 

Muscicapa carolinensis Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. 12. 1766. 1:328 
Orpheus carolinensis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 69, fig. 85 
Dumetella carolinensis A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 331. 

No. 704 

dumetella, diminutive of Lat., dmnetum, thombushes or thicket, referring to the 
bird's chosen habitat 

Description. Tail long and rounded; color slaty gray, lighter below; 
crown and tail black; under tail coverts chestnut; exposed portion of the 
wings like the back. This is our only dark slaty bird, slightly smaller 
than the Robin, with nearly uniform coloration, with restless habits, almost 
continually pumping its tail like the rest of the thrashers. 

Length 8.5-9 inches; extent 11-12; wing 3.5-3.7; tail 3.6-4; bill .65. 

Distribution. The Catbird inhabits eastern North America, breeding 
from British Columbia, central Alberta, Saskatchewan, southern Manitoba, 
central Ontario, southern Quebec and Nova Scotia, to northeastern New 
Mexico, eastern Texas and northern Florida. Winters from the Southern 
States to Cuba and Panama. In New York it is uniformly distributed 
throughout the Carolinian and AUeghanian zones, but does not enter the 
spruce and balsam forests of the Catskills and Adirondacks, although it 
penetrates those districts along the clearings and river valleys up to an 
elevation of 2000 feet. Throughout the settled portions of the State it 
is one of the dominant species, almost equaling the Chipping sparrow and 
Red-eyed vireo in abundance. It arrives from the south from the 20th to 
the 30th of April in the warmer portions of the State, from the 5th to the 
loth of May farther north; and departs in the fall from the 5th to the 25th 
of October. In the coastal district a few individuals remain throughout 
the winter, but in western New York this is a very rare occurrence, and 
those which do not migrate are usually destroyed by the coldest weather 
of January and early February. 

Haunts and habits. This is one of the best known of our common 



474 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



birds, frequently taking up its abode under the very windows of the farm- 
house, and, wherever it is protected, seems to prefer the vicinity of human 
habitation, frequently nesting in the barberry bushes and other shrubbery 
of lawns in the midst of our cities and villages. It is never found in the 
depths of the forest but prefers clearings and the thickets at the edges of 

woodlands, the hedgerows and 
shrubbery on the edges of 
streams and gully s, and the 
edges of pasture land. Though 
constantly seen and heard, it 
seldom ventures far from the 
protecting coverts of the 
thicket and does not seek so 
elevated a perch while deUv- 
erirg its song as is the cus- 
tom with the Brown thrasher. 
This song of the Catbird 
seems to me, at its best, not 
quite equal to that of the 
Brown thrasher, just as the 
Thrasher scarcely equals the 
best performance of the Mock- 
ingbird. Nevertheless, he is 
a famous songster. If he 
would only omit the scolding 
notes and catlike " meows," 
which are frequently inter- 
spersed with his rarest notes, he would be one of our favorite song birds. 
The Catbird's nest is placed only a few feet from the ground in some 
dense shrub or vine and is rather a bulky affair, the exterior composed of 
long sticks and straws, and the inner nest carefully woven of reddish brown 
rootlets. The eggs are from 3 to 5 in number, usually 4, of a deep bluish 




Catbird at nest 



Photo by James H. Miller 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



475 



green color, and average .95 by .70 inches in size. They are laid from 
the 15th to the 30th of May, and second sets are often observed as late 
as the first week in August, evidently two broods often being reared in 
a season in our latitude. 

This bird is undoubtedly a beneficial species. The greater part of its 
food during the spring and summer consists of injurious insects. It kiUs 



m¥ 




Catbird's nest and eggs 



Photo by Ralph S. Paddock 



quite a number of ground beetles and other predaceous insects, however, 
and as soon as cultivated cherries and berries are ripe it takes a considerable 
toll of these fruits. Furthermore, he occasionally destroys the eggs of 
other birds, a habit which, in justice, we must say is not characteristic of 
this species. I suspect that, like the House wren, he dislikes near neighbors 
because his food range about the nest is rather circumscribed, and finds 



476 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

it to his advantage to have a clear field for his operations. In the autumn 
the Catbird's food consists largely of wild fruit. After all has been said, 
we must consider the Catbird less agreeable as a neighbor than the Robin 
or even the Cedarbird, for its scolding notes become exceedingly monot- 
onous, especially when they are uttered day after day, as usually happens 
whenever the owner of the premises appears. He becomes more incon- 
spicuous as a neighbor after the first week of August, sometimes singing 
slightly for a week or two before his departure in October, after the moult 
has been completed. 

Toxostoma rufum (Linnaeus) 
Brown Thrasher 

Plate 131 

Turdus rufus Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. Ed. lo. 1758. 1:169 
Orpheus rufus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 68, fig. 82 
Toxostoma rufum A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 332. No. 705 
toxostoma, from Gr., bow-mouth, that is, curved-billed; riiftitn, Lat., reddish 

Description. Upper parts bright rufous or reddish brown; the wing 
coverts tipped with buffy whitish tending to form 2 wing bars; under parts 
buffy whitish heavily streaked with black except on the throat and center 
of the abdomen. Whenever the amateur sees a brown-backed bird longer 
than a Robin, with heavily spotted breast and long rounded tail, he may be 
sure it is a Thrasher. 

Length 11. 5-12 inches; extent 12. 5-14; wing 3.8-4.25; tail 5; bill i; 
tarsus 1.3. 

Distribution. The Brown thrasher inhabits eastern North America 
from southern Alberta and Manitoba, northern Michigan, southern Ontario, 
southern Quebec and southern Maine to eastern Louisiana, Mississippi, 
Alabama and northern Florida. Winters from southern Missouri and North 
Carolina to Texas and southern Florida. In New York its range coincides 
very closely with that of the Catbird, but it is less common than that 
species, especially in the colder portions of the State. The spring migration 
is performed between the 15th and 25th of April in the warmer counties, 
from the ist to the loth of May in the northern portions. It sometimes 
appears about New York City as early as the 2d of April, and disappears 



I 



I 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



477 




in the fall from the loth of October to the 3d of November, a few individuals 
remaining throughout the winter in the warmer districts. It sometimes 
tries to winter in western New York, but is usually killed by the coldest 
weather of January and February. 

Haunts and habits. The Brown thrasher has not learned to tolerate 
the presence of mankind so well as the Catbird. He prefers hedgerows, 
thickets, hillside pastures and dry fields overgrown with shrubbery and 
vines. He seeks his food mostly 
upon the ground, rustling about 
and scratching the dry leaves in 
search of worms and insects 
hidden beneath them. 

The song of the Thrasher is 
one of the loudest and richest bird 
melodies that can be heard in New 
York State. When one has list- 
ened to this bird in full song he is 
sure to carry a memory of the won- 
derful song which is usually 
delivered from a lofty perch — 
sometimes the dead top of a tall 
tree — where he sings during May 
and early June by the half hour, 
especially early in the morning and 
on cloudy or rainy days. The song 
bears considerable resemblance to that of the Mockingbird, and anyone who 
is familiar with the Catbird's song can picture to himself the song of the 
Thrasher by considering all the " meows " omitted and the notes made 
fuller, louder and richer until the whole hillside resounds with the melody. 
The alarm note of the Thrasher is a sharp click, but louder and sharper 
than the corresponding note of the Catbird. 

The nest is placed close to the ground or even on it, in the midst of 




Photo by Clarence F. Stone 
Brown thrasher's nest and egys 



478 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

a dense thicket or a tangle of vines. The nesting materials consist of 
twigs, straws, leaves and coarse rootlets. The eggs are usually 4 in number, 
sometimes 3 or 5, grayish white or bluish white in ground color, thickly 
and rather evenly speckled with minute spots of cinnamon or rufous brown. 
They average i.i by .8 inches in dimensions. In the southern portions 
of the State the first eggs are laid from the 15th to the 25th of May; one 
or two weeks later in the northern counties. 

In the spring and summer the Thrasher's food consists principally of 
worms and ground-inhabitating insects. Later in the season it partakes 
freely of cherries, berries and other fruits. It is to be regretted that so 
famous a songster and so striking a bird as the Thrasher will not become 
accustomed to the presence of man and live familiarly about our gardens 
and lawns like the Robin and the Catbird, but it seems to be scarcely 
more accustomed to the presence of mankind than when the first settlers 
found him on the edges of their clearings. 

Family TROQLODYTIDA.E 

Wrens 
Wing short and rounded; primaries 10, the first not noticeably reduced; 
tail for the most part short and rounded, in some species, however, longer 
than the wing; bill slender, nearly straight, as long as the head or, in some 
species, considerably less; nostril oval, uncovered by feathers but with an 
overhanging scale; the rictus is not bristled; tarsus scutellate; the inner toe 
joined by more than half its first joint to the outer toe. In size the wrens 
are small birds, gray and mottled brown in coloration. In disposition 
they are fearless or impertinent, spritely and rather quarrelsome, insectiv- 
orous in diet, and migratory in habits. They are among our most prolific 
songbirds, laying from 7 to 9 eggs or even more and frequently rearing 
two broods in a season. In the family there are over a hundred species 
on both continents, our little winter wren, which is so common in the North 
Woods, being the representative of " Jenny Wren " of England, though our 
House wren fills more nearly her place in the economy of our gardens and 




BIRDS OF NEW YORK 479 

orchards. The wrens are among our most exclusively insectivorous birds, 
and undoubtedly do a great amount of good about the thicker portions 
of the garden shrubbery and hedges where few other birds glean their 
livelihood. The especial value of the wren, as shown by examination of 
its stomach contents, may be found in the Yearbook of the United States 
Department of Agriculture for 1895, pages 416-18; and in bulletin 17 of 
the Biological Survey, pages 45-46 and 416-18. 

Thryothorus ludovicianus ludovicianus (Latham) 
Carolina Wren 

Plate 102 

Sylvia ludoviciana Latham. Index Om. 1 790. 2 : 548 

Troglodytes ludovicianus DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p- SS, fig- 94 
Thryothorus ludovicianus ludovicianus A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 
3. igio. p. 337. No. 718 
thryothorus, from Gr., 6puov, rush, and Oopstv, to jump; ludovicianus, of Louisiana 

Description. The largest of our wrens. Rufous brown; wings and 
tail barred with black; a conspicuous white superciliary stripe; under parts 
buffy to ocherous, becoming nearly white on the throat. 

Length 5.5-6 inches; extent 7.5; wing 2.4; tail 2.2; bill .65; tarsus .75. 

Distribution. The Carolina wren inhabits the eastern United States, 
breeding from southern Iowa, Ohio, southern Pennsylvania and the lower 
Hudson and Connecticut valleys to the Gulf States. It is practically 
resident wherever found. In New York it is confined principally to the 
lower Hudson valley, especially the western shores of the Hudson, to Staten 
Island and Long Island, but has been reported occasionally from all portions 
of the austral zone of New York, especially from Crow hill, Flushing, 
Roslyn, Westbury station, Bellport, on Long Island; and Gardner's island, 
where it was found a common resident by Chapman in 1903 (see Bird 
Lore, 5:175, 182), and was also noted by Bruen in 1904 (Wilson Bulletin 
50: 18); from Staten Island, Manhattan Island, Riverdale, Spuyten Duyvil, 
Larchmont, Piermont, Hastings and Inwood in the lower Hudson valley, 
in all of which localities it has been known to breed, but especially along 



48o 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



the palisades of the Hudson. In the interior of the State it has been 
recorded from Ithaca, TuUy, Batavia, Buffalo, Brockport, Forest Lawn 
(Monroe county), and Whiskey point, Canandaigua lake. All these records 
from the interior, however, are of individual birds or pairs, except the 
Ithaca records, the first of which, June 21, 1878, was by King (see N. O. C. 
Bui. 3:193); the second by Fuertes; and the third by Doctor Reed, 
June 12, 1903. All three of these reports seem to indicate that the species 
breeds near the southern end of Cayuga lake and that it is found year 
after year in the same locality. It is probable that it breeds in other 
localities of western New York, but even this Ithaca instance has not yet 
been proved by the finding of the nest. Therefore we must regard this 
wren confined, as a breeding species, to the warmest portions of the 
Carolinian area in New York. It is interesting to note, however, that of 
recent years the Carolina wren has enlarged its territory toward the north, 
having been found on various occasions in southern New England, the 
writer having observed it himself at Wood's Hole, Mass., in July 1909; 
and the reports mentioned above from Canandaigua lake, Forest Lawn, 
Batavia and Btiifalo probably indicate a recent advance of the species 
from the south, as has occurred in various other Carolinian species. It is 
to be hoped that this interesting bird will become common throughout 
the warmer portions of the State. 

Haunts and habits. This wren is exceedingly active and spritely in 
habits, but is rather retiring in disposition, preferring rocky glens, borders 
of streams, swamps, brush heaps and undergrowths near water, and fallen 
tree tops, to the orchard and garden which the House wren prefers. Its 
call notes are varied and spritely, consisting of innumerable clacks and 
clinks and metallic rattles, musical trills and k-r-ings, its commoner song 
notes having been compared to the syllables whee-udee, whee-udee, whee-udee, 
and tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle. Its nest is concealed in old stumps, 
holes, hollows in trees and crevices in rocks and buildings. It is a bulky 
affair, constructed of twigs, grasses and leaves, lined with feathers and other 
soft material, fine grass and hair. The eggs are 4 to 6 in number, white 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 48 1 

in ground color, speckled with brown, reddish and lavender. They average 
.74 by .60 inches in dimensions. Eggs have been found by Dean at Flush- 
ing May 8, 1879, and by Bicknell at Spuyten Duyvil May 2, 1879. Chap- 
man gives March 28 as the nesting date for the vicinity of New York City. 

Thryomanes bewicki bewicki (Audubon) 

Bewick Wren 

Troglodytes bewickii Audubon. Birds Amer. 182 7. (folio) i . pi. 18 
Thryomanes bewicki bewicki A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p- 338. 

No. 719 

Description. This southern and western species is of about the size 
of the House wren, wings and tail being slightly longer. It may be dis- 
tinguished easily by the fact the primaries are not barred; central tail 
feathers colored like the back but barred with black ; outer tail feathers are 
black tipped with ashy white; white line over the eye; under parts whitish. 

Bewick's wren inhabits eastern United States from northern Illinois, 
southern Michigan and central Pennsylvania to Arkansas, northern Miss- 
issippi and central Alabama. There has been no report of this species 
from New York State, but as it has occurred in Ontario, western Penn- 
sylvania and southern New Hampshire it is probable that it has also visited 
New York State and may possibly be found here in the future. 

Troglodytes aedon aedon (Vieillot) 
House Wren 

Plate 102 

Troglodytes aedon Vieillot. Ois. Amer. Sept. 1807 (1809?). 2:52. pi. 107 

DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 53, fig. 97 
Troglodytes aedon aedon A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 340. 
No. 721 

troglodytes, Gr., a cave-dweller; aedon ^Gt., iif)S(iv, the nightingale 

Description. Upper parts cinnamon brown, brighter on the upper tail 
coverts; the back with indistinct dusky bars; wings and tail finely barred 
with blackish; under parts grayish white, the sides and flanks with blackish 
bars. 

Length 4.5-5.2 inches; extent 6.75; wing 2; tail 2; bill .5. 



482 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Distribution. The House wren inhabits eastern North America from 
Wisconsin, Michigan, central Ontario, southern Quebec and New Bruns- 
wick, to Kentucky and Virginia, winters in the South Atlantic and Gulf 
States. In New York it is a common summer resident except in the 
Canadian zone, arriving in the spring from the 21st to the 30th of April 
in the southern portion, from the ist to the loth of May in northern New 
York, and disappearing in the fall from the ist to the 14th of October. 

Haunts and habits. The House wren, as nearly everyone knows, 
inhabits gardens and orchards, especially the neglected garden and the old 
unkempt orchard. It is also found about the edges of woods and some- 
times even in the forest or in the midst of swamps where there is a small 
opening, and dead trees and stumps, brush heaps and fallen trees are 
abundant. During the last 25 years this species has exhibited periods of 
scarcity in central and western New York. Ralph and Bagg refer to its 
disappearance in Oneida county between the years 1887 to 1893. I have 
noticed a similar disappearance of this species farther west in the State 
during the early nineties, and it has only regained its old-time abundance 
within the last 7 years in Ontario, Monroe and Erie counties. During 
the summer of 1897 I noticed again that it was unusually scarce in many 
of the towns of western New York. In fact, I heard only two wrens singing 
during that summer — one in the midst of Bergen swamp far from the 
habitations of man, and one on the streets of Albion. In localities where 
dozens of wrens might be heard in the summer of 191 2, not a single wren 
song was audible in 1896-7. It is possible that some calamity happened 
to the species in its winter quarters in the South just as happened to the 
Bluebird during the winter of 1895, and again during the winter of 191 1-12; 
but many have explained this disappearance of the House wren by the 
increase of the English sparrow and the occupation of all the wrens' nesting 
sites about the towns, villages and country homes. I have noticed that 
the English sparrow, by filling wren houses and cavities with its nesting 
materials before the wren has returned in the spring, has had an unfavorable 
influence upon this species, as has also occurred in the case of the Bluebird 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 



483 



and the Purple martin, but I am inclined to think that the House wren 
is much more able to take care of itself and find a nesting site than any 
other of our native species which come in competition with the English 
sparrow. It is probable that severe weather in the southern states must 
be the cause which explains the curious disappearance of this species from 
its haunts. At the present 
time, the House wren is well 
established again throughout 
western New York. 

It is one of our commonest 
and most familiar birds in most 
localities, frequently building 
its nest in crannies about the 
house and garden, occupying 
cigar boxes, old boots, watering 
pots or any hollow objects hung 
in trees. Its nest is composed 
of short twigs and grass stalks, 
almost always more or less orna- 
mented with spiders' nests and 
lined with soft materials. The 
eggs are from 6 to 8 in number, 
of a pinkish brown or vinaceous 
hue, almost uniformly covered 
with minute speckles of a deeper 
shade but usually with a wreath or cap at the larger end. They average 
.65 by .52 inches in dimensions. Fresh eggs are found from^ the i6th to 
the 30th of May. Later sets are often found from the 25th of June to 
the 20th of July. 

The song of this Wren is a characteristic, bubbling, gurgling warble 
which seems to burst spontaneously from his swelling throat, as he sits 
upon the fence or some old twig, raising his head and lowering the tail, 
31 




Photo by L. S. Horton 



House wren at nesting box 



484 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

his throat and tongue vibrating with uncontrolled delight as the melody 
gushes forth. 

Jenny Wren is more agreeable to her human than to her feathered 
neighbors. I have frequently noticed that wrens visit all the boxes placed 
about the garden or orchard for the occupation of Bluebirds and White- 
breasted swallows, and fill them with sticks and other nesting materials. 
Some of my nature-loving friends would have me believe this is to have 
a nest ready as soon as the new one is needed for the second brood, but 
I am inclined to the belief that it is done to prevent any neighbors moving 
into the houses which are about the wrens' happy hunting ground. Further- 
more, I have noticed that the wren frequently visits the nests of the Yellow 
warbler, Chipping sparrow and other species which nest about the garden, 
and picks small holes in the eggs so that they never will hatch. I am 
inclined to think that this habit, like the similar one of the Catbird, is 
to prevent too great competition in hunting the early worm when their 
6 or 8 greedy young ones are crying for food, for the wren makes only 
short flights from its nest in search of food and must necessarily find 
a plentiful supply near home. For this reason it must take care that it 
has only a few near neighbors when the nesting season is at its height. 
I have often wondered how the wren can escape the numerous cats which 
are found about the house and garden, but they seem perfectly able, like 
the English sparrow, to cope with the domestic cat, whereas almost none 
of our other birds have this facility. If anyone wishes to have wrens 
about his garden he can prevent the English sparrow occupying their 
houses by making the entrance hole only one inch in diameter, which the 
wren can enter with ease, while the English sparrow can not occupy the 
house. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 485 

Nannus hiemalis hiemalis (Vieillot) 
Winter Wren 

Plate 103 

Troglodytes hiemalis Vieillot. Nouv. Diet. d'Hist. Nat. 1819. 34:514 
Troglodytes hyemalis DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 57, fig. 96 
Nannus hiemalis hiemalis A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. igio. p. 341. 
No. 722 

ndnnus, Gr., vavvo?, a dwarf; hiemdlis, Lat., of winter 

Description. Upper parts dark cinnamon brown; wings and tail dis- 
tinctly barred with blackish; under parts pale cinnamon brown; breast, 
belly and sides finely barred with black. The more distinct barring, especially 
on the under parts, of this Winter wren, as well as the short tail which is 
usually held higher than that of the House wren, will distinguish it. Fur- 
thermore, in the greater part of New York it is a common wren only in. 
the early spring and winter months. 

Length 4-4.2 inches; extent 6.15; wing 1.9; tail 1.25; bill .35; tarsus .73. 

Distribution. This species breeds in the boreal zone of eastern America, 
from central Alberta, northern Quebec and Newfoundland to central 
Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and the mountainous portions of New 
York and Massachusetts, and along the Alleghanies to North Carolina. 
Winters from Michigan and Massachusetts to Texas and northern Florida.. 
In New York this little wren is a summer resident of the Catskills and 
Adirondacks and of various localities of central and western New York, 
see map page 29, volume i, but is most of all a common transient visitant 
in all the more inhabited portions of the State, arriving commonly from 
the 25th of March to the 5th of April and passing northward from the 
25th of April to the loth of May, in western New York frequently lingering 
to the 20th. In the fall it is seen mostly during October and early Novem- 
ber. In the Adirondacks and higher Catskills it is an abundant summer 
resident, its tinkling, rippling melody being heard throughout the spruce 
and balsam forests, a different songster of this species usually being heard 
at least every five minutes as one journeys along the woodland trails, 
throughout the North Woods. 



486 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Haunts and habits. The Winter wren delights in rocks and brush 
heaps and rubbish in the wildest portions of the mountains and higher 
valleys, along the edges of the dashing torrents, and in the silent depths 
of the forest, as well as the moss-covered logs and rocks of the humid slopes. 
The song, as it appeals to Bicknell, has an indescribable effect, " full of 
trills and runs and grace notes, a tinkling, rippling roundelay." The 
young men from Rochester mentioned in the Essex county list who helped 
me in my bird survey of the Mt Marcy district, voted unanimously that 
the song of the Winter wren was the sweetest melody they heard in the 
North Woods, and we gave considerable time to the study of the songs 
of the Hermit, Olive-backed, Bicknell and Wood thrushes. Besides its 
song, the Winter wren has a sharp chirp of surprise, and a " qiiip-quap," 
as Chapman writes it, while he bobs and bows to one and hops about 
the fallen log or the brush pile which he frequents as a retreat from his 
enemies. 

The nesting site is usually in the upturned roots of some fallen tree 
or in the cavity of a stimip or log. The nest is composed of plant stems, 
mosses and lichens, with a small circular opening, lined with moss, hair 
and feathers. The eggs are 5 to 8 in mmiber, white in ground color, finely 
dotted with reddish brown and lavender. They average .65 by .50 inches 
in dimensions. Six sets of eggs in the Smithsonian Institution from Holland 
Patent and Clinton Falls, N. Y., were taken between June 17 and 29. 
From the fact that nearly all the Winter wrens which we saw in the Adiron- 
■dacks between the 20th of Jtme and the ist of August had young well 
•out of the nest by July loth, I am inclined to think the middle of June 
is the usual date for fresh eggs. It is possible that a second brood is reared 
.as many of the dates of eggs taken in the Adirondacks range from July 
J 6 to the 25th and 29th. 

During the migration, this little wren is commonly observed about 
the shrubbery of our lawns, parks and the edges of woods, when disturbed 
retreating to the recesses of some brush pile or under the damp edges of 
the stream bank. A few remain throughout the winter in western and 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 487 

central New York, and it is fairly common as a winter resident in the 
southeastern portion of the State, but in the principal breeding range of 
the Adirondacks and Catskills it is only a summer resident. 

Cistothorus stellaris (Naumann) 
Short-billed Marsh Wren 

Plate 103 

Trogl od y tes St ellari s Naumann. Vogel Deutschl. 1823. 3. Table to p. 724 
Troglodytes brevirostris DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 58, fig. 93 
Cistothorus stellaris A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 342. No. 724 
cistdthorus, Gr., xiaTo?, shrub, and BopFtv, to run through; stellaris, Lat., starry, 
speckled 

Description. Upper parts streaked with white, black, and ocherous, 
wings and tail barred; under parts white washed with buffy on the breast, 
sides and under tail coverts. This species may be distinguished from the 
Long-billed marsh wren by its streaked crown and entire upper parts, and 
by its shorter bill. 

Length 4-4.5 inches; extent 6; wing 1.75; tail 1.5; bill .4. 

Distribution. The Short-billed marsh wren inhabits the austral zone 
of eastern North America from southern Saskatchewan, southern Ontario 
and southern Maine to eastern Kansas, Missouri, Indiana and northern 
Delaware. It winters from southern Illinois and southern New Jersey 
to the Gulf States. In New York this species is local in distribution and 
uncommon in nearly all parts of the State except a few colonies in the 
lower Hudson valley and in parts of central and western New York. It 
has been reported as breeding at Green Island near Cohoes. June 12, 1875, 
where E. S. Stebbins took its eggs for the Smithsonian collection; in central 
New York by Fowler (Forest and Stream 6, 180); at Comwall-on-the- 
Hudson, near the mouth of Moodna creek, in June 1882 (Meams, Auk 7, 
56; Rowe, N. O. C. Bui. 8:179); at Gretna, in Dutchess county, Jvme 23, 
1897, by Lispenard Horton; in Onondaga county by A. W. Perrior; Cayuga 
county by Rathbun and Wright; in the Tonawanda swamp, May 30, 1899, 
by Grame P. Clarkson, from which locality a colony was also reported 
by Langille in " Our Birds in Their Haunts "; at Hebron by F. T. Pember; 



488 



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 



Grand island, Niagara river, and West Seneca near Buffalo, by James 
Savage; Irondequoit creek, Monroe county, June 19 lo, by Fred Gordon. 
These are the only breeding records before me, which will show conclusively 
that it is both a local and uncommon summer resident of the State. It 
arrives from the south in the vicinity of New York City between the loth 
and the 20th of May, according to Chapman, and departs between the 
loth and the 30th of October. Worthington's record of May 17, 1901, 

at Erie, Pa., will indicate that 
its arrival in western New York 
is about the same. Merriam's 
record, October 21, 1877, from 
Lowville, Lewis county, shows 
that it departs late in October 
from the interior of the State. 
Chapman gives the breeding date 
for New York City as May 31, 
which agrees with Clarkson's in 
Tonawanda swamp. 

Haunts and habits. This 
wren prefers wet meadows and 
the borders of marshes, being less 
confined to the flooded areas than 
the Long- billed marsh wren, and 
more secretive and retiring in its 
habits than that species. It is much more often heard than seen when one 
invades its coverts. Its clinking alarm notes may be heard all about 
one when a colony of this species is invaded, its call having been aptly 
compared to the sound of two pebbles struck together, but rarely may 
one of the birds be seen, as they are very mouselike in actions and dis- 
like to appear outside the protecting cover of the grass and sedges, the 
difficulty of flushing the bird undoubtedly accounting for its apparent 
rarity in many places where it must be a summer resident. Its song is 




Photo by L. S. Horton 
Nest of Short-billed marsh wren 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 489 

written by Chapman as " Chup-chup-chup-chup, chup, chup-chup-chup- 
p-p-r-r-r-r." During the love season it expresses its feelings in a more 
ambitious refrain, quite varied and musical, but still conspicuous for the 
great amount of chuppering which enters into its composition. ' '^ 

The nest is placed close to the ground in a dense bunch of grass or 
sedges, is globular in structure with the entrance on one side, and is con- 
structed of grasses, sedges and plant down. The eggs are from 6 to 8 
in number, pure white in color, with thin, brittle shell, averaging .62 by .45 
inches in dimensions. They are not so broad near the larger end as the 
white eggs of the Long-billed wren. 

Telmatodytes palustris palustris (Wilson) 
Long-billed Marsh Wren 

Plate 102 

Certhia palustris Wilson. Amer. Om. 1810. 2:58. pi. 12, fig. 4 
Troglodytes palustris DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 56, fig. 92 
Telmatodytes palustris palustris A. O. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. 
p. 342. No. 725 

telmatodytes, Gr., swamp dweller; palustris, Lat., marshy 

Description. Upper parts brown, the crown and back almost black, 
and the latter distinctly striped with white; a white stripe runs over the eye 
to the side of the neck; under parts white tinged with ocherous on the sides, 
flanks and under tail coverts; wing and tail barred with fuscous. 

Length 5.2 inches; extent 6.54; wing 1.75-2; tail 1.7; bill .52; tarsus .8. 

Distribution. The Long-billed marsh wren inhabits eastern United 
States, breeding from southern Ontario and southern Quebec southward 
to the Potomac and the coast of Virginia. Winters from southern New 
Jersey to South Carolina and Florida. In New York this species is a com- 
mon summer resident in all extensive marshes of the coast, Hudson river. 
Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Niagara river and the central lakes. In the 
marshes at the head and the foot of Canandaigua lake, at the outlet of 
Seneca lake and the head of Seneca and Cayuga lakes, the whole length 
of Seneca river, Tonawanda swamp and the Niagara river it is a very 
abundant species, arriving in the spring from the 4th to the i6th of May, 



490 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

and departing in the fall from the ist to the 30th of October. A few 
individuals remain throughout the winter along the coast and in the lower 
Hudson valley, and rarely a few brave the winters of western New York, 
especially in the Montezuma marshes. 

Haunts and habits. The Long-billed marsh wren is practically con- 
fined to the flooded marshes, delighting in a rank growth of cat-tails, sedges 
and grasses where the water is from i to 3 feet in depth. In such localities 
one may rarely wade a distance of 4 to 6 rods without coming upon one 
of its globular nests securely interwoven with the stems of flags and grasses, 
composed of the dead leaves of the same woven into a compact structure, 
with a small circular opening on one side, the interior warmly lined with 
down from the cat-tail. Usually from 6 to 8 nests must be examined 
before one containing eggs can be found, for it is evidently a habit of this 
wren also to build more nests than it occupies for breeding purposes. The 
eggs are usually laid between the 30th of May and the 25th of June, possibly 
two broods being reared in the southern part of the State. The eggs are 
from 5 to 9 in number, the darkest colored of all of our wrens' eggs, being 
thickly mottled with chocolate brown so as to give the egg a nearly uniform 
old mahogany tint. They average .65 by .49 inches in dimensions, rather 
broadly ovate in shape. 

One can not be in the favorite haunts of the marsh wren many minutes 
without hearing its " rippling, bubbling, gurgling song." Doctor Meams 
says: " The marsh wrens live in colonies and are as attractive, merry 
little birds as you would wish to see, scolding hard when their retreats 
are invaded but singing a busy, happy refrain the moment you pass on. 
There are few sounds so cheerful and pleasant to hear as the jingling melody 
produced by a colony of marsh wrens left in quiet (?) possession of their 
oozy territory after such a disturbance." Frequently the merry songster 
overflows so with the delight of love and life that he rises on fluttering 
wings above the tops of the marsh grass and sings in lowly imitation of 
the soaring Skylark until utterly exhausted he sinks again into the coverts 
of the rushes. 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 49 1 

Like most of our small birds which frequent the shrubbery, this little 
wren migrates at night. On one occasion while I was concealed in a blind 
watching for ducks to enter the marsh, I saw the last representative of 
this species leave the marshes at the foot of Canandaigua lake. It was 
a cool night late in October when the moon was at the full. The little 
fellow uttered a feeble warble which attracted my attention and then 
rose from near my station, fluttering higher and higher into the air until 
lost at an elevation of about 300 feet, where I caught my last glimpse of 
him against the full moon. The following morning when I visited the 
marsh no more wrens were left. Evidently they migrate at night, and high 
in the air, so as to see their way and escape their enemies more successfully. 

Family CERTHIIDAE 

Creepers 
Ten primaries, the first very short; point of the wing formed by the 
third, fourth and fifth; tail rather long, rounded, the shafts stiffened and 
the feathers pointed, showing a curious analogy to the tails of woodpeckers; 
bill long, slender and curved nearly throughout its length; nostril exposed; 
the rictus without bristles; the toes joined up to the first joint; the claws 
curved and sharp ; size small ; plumage soft brown and gray in color. This 
is a small family related to the wrens and the nuthatches but showing 
several sharp family characteristics, especially the slender curved beak 
and the stiffened tail. In habits they are scansorial, climbing upon the 
trunk and branches of trees in the manner of woodpeckers, using the tail 
as a brace against the bark. They are insectivorous in habits and migra- 
tory, although hardy enough to withstand the winters in temperate 
latitudes. Our one species is closely related to the tree creeper of Europe 
and subspecifically to the Mexican, Rocky mountain and California 
creepers. Only one species, with five subspecies, is recognized in North 
America. 



492 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 

Certhia familiaris americana (Bonaparte) 
Brown Creeper 

Plate 102 

Certhia americana Bonaparte. Geog. & Comp. List. 1838. 11 

DeKay. Zool. N. Y. 1844. pt 2, p. 50, fig. 90 
Certhia familiaris a m e r i c a n a A. 0. U. Check List. Ed. 3. 1910. p. 344. 
No. 726 

certhia, Lat., certhius, a creeper; familiaris, Lat., domestic 

Description. Upper parts streaked and mottled with brown, white 
and ocherous; rump pale rufous; wings when spread show a band of 
creamy buff across the middle of the feathers; tail grayish brown, the tips 
of the feathers pointed and stiffened; under parts dull white; bill slender 
and slightly curved. 

Length 5.25-5.75 inches; extent 7.5-8; wing 2.6; tail 2.7; bill .63; 
tarsus .53. 

This little bird, which is the only representative of its family in New 
York, may easily be distinguished from all of our other tree-creeping birds 
by its principal color matching so closely the tree bark, its slender curved 
bill, and its long tail which is held against the tree for a support, like the 
tails of woodpeckers. 

Distribution. This subspecies inhabits eastern North America, breed- 
ing from southern Manitoba, central Ontario, southern Quebec and New- 
foundland southward to eastern Nebraska, northern Indiana, New York, 
Massachusetts and along the Alleghanies to North Carolina. Winters 
from New York to the gulf coast. In the greater portion of New York 
it is a transient visitant, and sparingly a winter resident, the few which 
remain .all winter being joined, between the ist and the 15th of April, by 
numerous individuals which have wintered farther south. The greater 
niunber leave for their northern summer home from the lOth to the 30th 
of April in the warmest part of the State, and from the ist to the i6th or 
even the 25th of May in the interior. Throughout the Adirondacks and 
Catskills this bird is an abundant summer resident. While passing along 
the trails of the Adirondack wilderness one meets this species every few 



BIRDS OF NEW YORK 493 

minutes. The same is true of the upper Catskills. In the remainder of 
the State it is only a local summer resident. Reported as a common breeder 
in central New York by Fowler (Forest and Stream 6, i8o); near Buffalo 
by Ottomar Reinecke and James Savage; from Oneida county by Ralph 
and Bagg (Auk, 6:232); from Hamilton by Maxon (Auk, 20:266); Peter- 
bo