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Full text of "Quarterly bulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club"

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HELMINTHOPHAGA LEUGOBRONGHIALIS, Shewster. 

Adult male. 



BULLETIN 



Nuttall Ornithological Club 



% (^uarferlj) Journal of (^rmtjrologg. 



VOLUME I. 



(£bitor, 
J. A. ALLEN. 

;3usjsociate (tfMtor*, 
S. F. BAIRD and ELLIOTT COUES. 



CAMBRIDGE, MASS.: 

PUBLISHED BY THE CLUB. 

1876. 



/ 



University Press : Welch, Bigelow, & Co., 
Cambridge. 



CONTENTS OF VOLUME 1. 



NUMBER I. 

Page 

Description of a New Species of Helminthophaga. By William Brew- 
ster. With a Plate 1 

The Common Buzzard Hawk (Buteo vulgaris) of Europe in North Amer- 
ica. By C. J. Maynard 2 

Nesting of the Golden- winged Warbler (Helminthophaga chrysoptera) 

in Massachusetts. By J. Warren 6 

Notes on the Rough-winged Swallow (Birundo serripennis) in Penn- 
sylvania. By Walter Van Fleet 9 

On the Breeding of the Black-throated Blue Warbler (Dendraca 

ccerulescens) in Connecticut. By C. M. Jones 11 

On Two Empidonaces, Traillii and acadicus. By H. W. Henshaw . 14 

Occurrence of certain Birds in the New England States. By Wil- 
liam Brewster 17 

Albinism and Melanism among North American Birds. By Ruthven 

Deane 20 

Notes on Birds found breeding on Cobb's Island, Va. By H. B. Bailey 24 



NUMBER II. 

The Nuttall Ornithological Club 29 

Regarding Buteo vulgaris in North America. By Robert Ridgway 32 
Additions to the Avi-fauna of Illinois, with Notes on other Spe- 
cies of Illinois Birds. By E. W. Nelson 39 

Notes on the Breeding Habits of Clarke's Crow (Picicorvus colum- 
bianus), with an Account of its Nest and Eggs. By Captain Charles 

Bendire, U. S. A 44 

Description of a new Duck from Washington Island. By Thomas H. 

Streets, M. D. t Passed Assistant Surgeon, U. S. N 46 

RECENT LITERATURE. 

Lawrence's Description of New Species of American Birds, 47. — Snow's Birds 
of Kansas, 47. — Kidder's Ornithology of Kerguelen Island, 48. — Kidder and 
Coues's "A Study of Chionis minor" etc., 48.' — Marsh's Extinct Birds 
with Teeth, 49. — Gentry's " Life-Histories of the Birds of Eastern Penn- 
sylvania," 49. 



iv CONTENTS OF VOLUME I. 

GENERAL NOTES. 

Breeding of the Canada Goose in Trees, 50. — Tarsal Envelope in Campylorhyn- 
chus and allied Genera, 50. — Occurrence of the Curlew Sandpiper in Mas- 
sachusetts, 51. — The Ipswich Sparrow in New Brunswick, 52. — Passer- 
culus princeps and Parus hudsonicus in Connecticut, 52. — Anser rossii in 
Oregon, 52. 



NUMBER III. 

Decrease of Birds in Massachusetts. By J. A. Allen .... 53 

On the Number of Primaries in Oscines. By -Dr. Elliott Coues, U. S. A. 60 
The Yellow-bellied Woodpecker (Sphyrapicus varius). By William 

Brewster 63 

RECENT LITERATURE. 

Ornithology of the Wheeler Expedition, 70. — Field and Forest, 71. — The Port- 
land Tern, 71. — The Birds of Ritchie Co., West Virginia, 72. — Brewer's 
Birds of New England, 72. 

GENERAL NOTES. 

The Philadelphia Vireo in New England, 74. — Geographical Variation in the 
Number and Size of the Eggs of Birds, 74. — The Nest and Eggs of Traill's 
Flycatcher, as observed in Maine, 75. — Singular Food of the Least Bittern, 
76. — Intelligence of a Crow, 76. — The Great Carolina Wren in Massa- 
chusetts, 76. 



NUMBER IV. 

Our Present Knowledge of the Nidification of the American King- 
lets. By Ernest Ingersoll 77 

Nesting Habits of the Californian House Wren (Troglodytes aedon 

var. parkmanni). By Dr. J. G. Cooper 79 

On Geographical Variation in Dendrceca palmarum. By Robert Ridgway 81 

Notes on Texan Birds. By J. C. Merrill, M. D., Assistant Surgeon, U. S. A. 88 

Birds of New England. By Thomas M. Brewer 89 

RECENT PUBLICATIONS. 

Lawrence's Birds of Southwestern Mexico, 93. — Jordan's Manual of Vertebrate 
Animals, 93. 

GENERAL NOTES. 

Capture of the Orange-crowned Warbler in Massachusetts, 94. — Variable 
Abundance of Birds at the same Localities in different Years, 95. — Occur- 
rence of the Wood Ibis in Pennsylvania and New York, 96. — Peculiar Nest- 
ing-site of the Bank-Swallow, 96. 



[Photographic reprint. ~\ 



QUARTERLY BULLETIN 

OF THE 

NUTTALL ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 

Vol. I. iLPHIH., 1876. No. 1. 

DESCRIPTION OF A NEW SPECIES OF HELMINTHOPHAGA. 

BY WM. BREWSTER. 
HELMINTHOPHAGA LEUCOBRONCHIALIS. Pl. 1* 

Adult male : summer plumage. Crown, bright yellow, slightly tinged 
with olive on the occiput. Greater and middle wing coverts, yellow, not so 
bright as the crown. Superciliary line, cheeks, throat and entire under parts; 
silky-white, with a slight tinge of pale yellow on the breast. Dorsal surface, 
— exclusive of nape which is clear ashy — washed with yellow, as are also the 
outer margins of the secondaries. A narrow line of clear black passes from 
the base of the upper mandible, through and to a short distance behind the 
eye, interrupted however by the lower eyelid, which is distinctly white. No 
trace of black on the cheeks or throat, even upon raising the feathers. Bill 
black. Feet, dark brown. Dimensions — length, 5.I9 ; extent, 7.88 ; wing, 2 .45 ; 
tarsus, .71; tail, 1.86; culmen, .53. 

It will be seen from the above description that this bird 
resembles most closely the Golden-winged Warbler, (Helmin- 
thophaga chrvsoptera.) 

The entire absence of black or ashy on the cheeks and 
throat, the peculiar character of the superciliary line, and the 
white lower eyelid, present however differences not to be rec- 
onciled with any known seasonal or accidental variation of that 
species. The restricted line of black through the eye gives the 
head a remarkable similarity to that of Belminthophaga jpmws, 
but the semblance goes no farther. 

The specimen above described was shot by the writer in 
Newtonville, Mass., May 18, 1870. It was in full song when 
taken and was flitting about in a thicket of birches near a 
swampy piece of oak and maple woods. As nearly as can be 
remembered it did not differ much in either voice or actions 



* The original of our plate was drawn and colored by Robert Ridgeway, 
Esq., of the Smithsonian Institution, and presented by him to Mr. Brewster. 



2 QUARTERLY BUELLTIN. 

from -//. chrysoptera. The first notice of this specimen appeared 
in the "American Sportsman," vol.5, p. 33. To speculate on the 
probable home or range of a bird so little known would he at 
the present time idle. Whether it must be placed in the same 
category with the unique Euspiza Townsendi, liegulus Cuvieri, 
etc., or like Dendroeca Kirklandi, will turn up occasionally in 
the future at different points, or still again as in the case of Cen- 
tronyx Bairdii, will be found in large numbers, time alone 
can decide. Every fixed species of bird is probably common 
somewhere. There is always some well stocked reservoir hew- 
ever restricted in area, from which the choicest rarities emanate, 
but to locate this avian well-spring is not seldom an undertak- 
ing of difficulty. 

As previously remarked the differences in coloration in the 
present bird from any of its allies are so great, and of such a 
nature, as to render any theory of accidental variation exceed- 
ingly unlikely, while hybrids — at least among the smaller spe- 
cies of undomesticated birds — are of such shadowy and proble- 
matical existence that their probable bearing upon the present 
case is hardly worthy of consideration. 

It is not a little remarkable that another species* in the same 
genus as this, and one too apparently quite as strongly charac- 
terized, should have been brought to light at so nearly the same 
time. 



THE COMMON BUZZARD HAWK (BUTEO VULGARIS) OF 
EUROPE IN NORTH AMERICA. 

BY C. J. MAYNARD. 

Late in the autumn of 1873 I received a box of bird skins 
from Mr. J. D. Allen, of Paw Paw, Mich. They consisted 
mainly of Hawks, among which \%as a specimen that instantly 
attracted my attention, for it was quite peculiar in its markings. 
The skin was evidently that of a Buteo, but I could not make it 
ao-ree with any of the plumages of the species which had come 
under my observation. This was the result of a hasty examin- 
ation, for being extremely busy at the time I laid it one side for 
further comparison. 

Later study upon it proved as nearly as possible, without 

* Helminthophaga Laiorencii, Herrick. Pioc. Acad. Natural Science, 
Phila., 1874, pi. 15, p. 220. 



NUTTALL ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 3 

actual comparison with like skins, that it was identical with the 
Buteo vulgaris of Europe. Supposing that Mr. Allen had quite 
probably received it from abroad the matter rested here ; but as 
there was still some uncertainty as to whether it was that spe- 
cies, on account of my not having compared it with typical 
specimens, the question would arise in my mind every time 
I saw the skin. 

Various ornithological friends examined the specimen and 
expressed some opinion about it, yet all were inclined to be- 
lieve that it was a European bird, while I never gave the time 
necessary for settling the matter by writing Mr. Allen. Thus 
the skin had been lying in ray collection until the past autumn, 
when at the request of Mr. Brewster I showed it to our mutual 
friend, Mr. Henry Heushaw, who urged me to let him take it to 
Washington, that it might be examined by Mr. Rob't Ridgway. 

Shortly after this Mr. Henshaw informed me, per letter, that 
it was indeed Bateo vulgaris, but that there was a decided im- 
probability that it was taken on this side of the Atlantic. Cu- 
rious to know its history I wrote to Mr. Allen, asking him if 
he remembered the specimen, and if he could tell me where 
it was taken. 

The reply was quite unexpected, for Mr. Allen stated that he 
remembered the bird well, and as there were peculiar circum- 
stances connected with its capture he recollected clearly that it 
was shot in Michigan. I then wrote again, giving him for the first 
time an account of the interest which was attached to the capture 
of this species in the United States, and begged him to relate 
all he knew about it. To this epistle I received the following 
reply. As Mr. Allen's account is not only interesting but im- 
portant as proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that the bird 
in question was actually taken in Michigan, I give his letter 
verbatim. I will, however, preface it by saying that all the oth- 
er Hawks sent to me by Mr. Allen were correctly labeled" Red- 
tailed," " Red-shouldered," etc., but this bore the simple legend 
44 Hawk." This fact, together with its extremely peculiar plu- 
mage, rendered it easy for him to remember what particular 
skin was under consideration. 

"Paw Paw, Mich., Jan. 16, 1876. 

Mr. Maynarv) — . , „ 

Dear Sir:— Yours at hand and noted. 1 am surprised as well as 
pleased to learn that the Hawk proves to be so valuable and interest- 
ing a specimen. When I shot it I was unable to decide what it was, 



4 QUARTERLY BULLETIN. 

but rather thought it was an immature specimen of Buteo lineatusi 
but being uncertain did not give it a specific name when I sent it to 
you. The circumstances connected with its capture are as follows: 

Returning one morning from the head of a small pond in the vi- 
cinity of Paw Paw, Mich., where I hail been duck shooting, I discov- 
ered a Hawk perched on the dead branch of a leaning tree that grew 
from the bank at the water's edge. 

I was in my boat, and at least twenty-five rods from the tree, in 
full view of the bird, which was eyeing me attentively, so I had no 
chance of approaching him except in lull view, and as he appeared 
about to fly I gave up all hopes of getting a sh'ot at him. But to my 
surprise he described a complete circle and came nearly over my 
head, when I fired at him. 

He continued his flight in an awkward and laborious manner until 
he reached the shore ; then dropped dead within a few feet of the 
very tree irom which he started. 

I think that this was about the first of October, 1873, but am not 
certain about the exact date. I have often thought of the peculiar 
movement of this bird. Here, when I had given up all hopes of ap- 
proaching him he should fly to me, as it were, to receive his death 
wound, then return again to the shore to suffer himself to fall on dry 
ground. I may add that I have never had any birds directly from 
Europe, and none larger than an English Fieldfare. 
Respectfully, yours, 

J. D. ALLEN." 

Although this species has been excluded from our ornithologies 
for many years, yet this is not the first instance on record of the 
capture of Buteo vulgaris in North America. As early as 1838, 
Audubon made mention of it. In Vol. IV, page 508 of Orni- 
thological Biography he says, speaking of his illustration, [PI. 
372] : " The specimen from which the figure before you was ta- 
ken was shot by Dr. Townsend on a rock near the Columbia 
River, on which it had its nest." 

Then follows Audubon's description, which agrees in every 
particular with my specimen ; differing utterly from that of 
Swainson's Hawk (Buteo Swainsoni), which I have before me, 
and which more recent authors appear to think Audubon had in 
hand when he made his description. I give below the main 
points of difference between Audubon's description and Swain- 
son's Hawk, which will also apply equally to my specimen :— 
"Feet; short, robust." Swainson's has quite slender tarsi. 
" Wings; long, broad, the fourth quill longest." Swainson's 
has the third the longest. •"The third next, the fifth very little 
shorter, the second longer than fifth." Swainson's has the 
fourth next longest, the fifth fully an inch shorter than the third 
whilst the fifth is a little longer than the second, making quite 
a differently formed wing from that of vulgaris. " First four 
abruptly cut out on the inner web." Now it is a well known 
character of Swainson's to have but three incised primaries. 



NVTTALL ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 5 

Speaking of primaries, Audubon says, " A greater part of 
the inner web, with the shaft white * * * * the white of 
the inner webs of the primaries forms a conspicuous patch, con- 
trasted with the grayish-black of their terminal portion." This 
is a remarkable feature not noticeable in Swainson's. Audu- 
bon's bird had the " lower wing-coverts white barred with dus- 
ky." Swainson's has rufous under wing-coverts. 

The above are the principal differences, and together with 
Audubon's fine plate, which is a perfect facsimile of my bird, 
give a most emphatic contradiction to all assertions that Audu- 
bon was unable to distinguish the difference between Buteo vul- 
garis and what to him would have been a new bird. This noted 
ornithologist was constantly on the lookout for new species with 
which to embellish his book, and it is extremely improbable 
that he would have let such an opportunity escape him. 

The descriptive points given are enough to separate Audu- 
bon's bird from all others, but as if to give more weight to his 
testimony we find him saying as a final to his article : " When 
compared with European specimens, mine have the bill somewhat 
stronger ; but in all other respects, including the scutella and 
scales of the feet and toes, and the structure of the wings and 
tail, the parts are similar." 

It will be noticed that he uses the plural " mine," for before 
this was appended hft had received another, also shot by Dr. 
Townsend, on the plains of the Snake River. 

Swainson and Richardson, in " Fauna Boreali Americana," 
Vol. II, page 47, also make mention of a species under the name 
of Buteo vulgaris, and give a figure of the same. They were, 
however, without doubt mistaken in their identification, the 
bird which they had being really Buteo Swainsoni, as both 
description and figure clearly indicate. Reverting once more to 
Audubon, I will answer a query which will arise in almost 
every one's mind, viz : — How was it that Aubudon did not find 
the common B. Swainsoni, and yet have specimens of the rarer 
vulgaris pass through his hands? 

First — The country inhabited by this Hawk (Swainson's) was 
comparatively unknown at that time, and consequently not much 
traversed by naturalists. 

Second— Audubon never noticed some of our most common 
species, while he discovered and described many rare ones that 
were closely allied to them. Notably among these was the 



6 QUARTERLY BULLETIN. 

Least and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers (Empidonax minmus et 
Jtavioentris), both of which were unknown to him until pointed 
out by Prof. S. F. Baird. Accident or perhaps a singular chain 
of circumstances will often prevent a collector from finding spe- 
cies which are very common. During my first visit to Florida 
I took nearly every species whieh was known to exist in the 
section which I visited, yet never saw a single specimen of the 
Tufted Titmouse (Lojihophanes bicolor), which I have since 
found there in abundance. 

Lastly — Is Buteo vulgaris very rare in the Northwest? I 
know that this section has been ransacked by good collectors, 
yet sometimes birds will escape observation for years, and at 
last be found common. Such certainly has been the case with 
liaird's Bunting (Passerculus Bairdii) ; and Sprague's Lark 
(Neocorys Spraguei) In conclusion, then, I may add, that 
as three specimens of the Common Buzzard have actually been 
taken within our limits it is extremely probable that it will be 
found of regular occurrence in the Northwest. 



NESTING OF THE GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER (HELMINTHO 
PHAGA CHRYSOPTERAJ, IN MASSACHUSETTS. 

BY J. WARREN. 

Of all our warblers there are few that surpass the Golden- 
wing in elegance of plumage. Though comparatively common 
with us during the spring migrations but few appear to remain 
to breed, and yet our State has been considered about its north- 
ern limit on this coast. They arrive in eastern Massachusetts 
from the second to the third week in May, when they are very 
active, flitting through the trees and young growth, diligently 
searching for their food, which consists of insects and their lar- 
vae, occasionally giving vent to a rather loud, peculiar and un- 
mistakable song, which, though not so musical as that of most 
of the other individuals of this family, is very pleasing. The 
Golden-wings do not seem to confine themselves wholly to 
swampy situations, as is usually stated, but are sometimes found 
on higher ground, quite remote from such places. They pair 
shortly after arriving, and commence to build from the latter 
part of May to the first of June. The first authentic nest found 



NUTTALL ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 7 

in this section of the country was that collected by Mr. C. J. 
Maynard, June 12, 1869, and admirably described by him on 
page 100 of the "Naturalist's Guide." This nest was placed on 
a slightly elevated tuft of moss, near a swampy thicket, within 
a short distance of a travelled road, and contained four eggs, 
and also one of the Cow Bird (Molothrus pecoris), which were 
within a few days of hatching. Since this nest was found there 
have been no others' taken, to my knowledge, until the past year 
when three were discovered ; one each by my friends, E. B. 
Towne, Jr., and W. W. Eager, who have kindly allowed me to 
use their notes, and the third by my brother and myself. 

We were out collecting on the afternoon of June 8th, 1875, 
and while passing through a strip of swampy land on the out- 
skirts of a small wood, flushed a bird from under a plant known 
as " Skunk Cabbage," ( Symplocarpus fcetidu*. ) 

Upon searching we found the nest concealed by the large 
leaves of the plant. It was raised about two inches above the 
wet ground by dead oak and maple leaves which were quite 
damp. The owner soon came back, and hopping excitedly from 
branch to branch of an alder thicket a few yards away, almost 
continually uttered a sharp chirp of alarm, betokening her strong 
dislike to the intruders ; but, strange to say, her mate did not 
make his appearance, although we could hear him distinctly 
zee-zee-zeeing, a few rods away. As it was fast growing dark, 
and feeling satisfied that she had laid her set, we shot her. 

The nest, which closely resembles that of the Maryland Yel- 
low-throat (Geothlypis trichas), is composed outwardly of dry 
oak and maple leaves, interspersed with long stripes of the out- 
er bark of the grape vine ; and is lined with fine fibrous shreds 
of the same of a reddish tint, interwoven with one or two very 
small pieces of dry grass. The measurements are as follows : 
height, 2.75 inches ; width, 4.25 ; diameter inside, 2.30 ; depth 
inside, 1.60. 

The eggs are three in number, two pure white ; the third 
sparsely spotted on the larger end, and measured respectively, 
.69x.53, .68x.51, and ,65x.49. One of them was out of the nest, 
and had three small holes close to each other on the upper side, 
through which a little of the albumen had leaked out and dried. 
I cannot with certainty account for this, as I feel quite positive 
that no other person had ever molested the nest, but think that 
a squirrel, or other rodent, had eaten one of the eggs, pulled 



8 QUARTERLY BULLETIN. 

out another, perforating the shell with his claws, and being at- 
tacked by the birds, quitted the nest, leaving the remainder of 
his spoil behind. Both of the eggs in the nest were slightly 
incubated, while the one outside was quite fresh. 

The following is an extract from Mr. Towne's journal : 

" While out collecting, early in the morning of the 29th day 
of May, 1875, as I was walking up a hillside through small 
white birches, saw a Golden-winged Warbler within twelve feet 
of the muzzle of my gun ; was about to shoot, when I noticed 
a small straw or diy blade of grass in her mouth. The thought 
of finding her nest induced mc to watch closely. She soon flew 
and alighted in the centre of an old cart path. I went to the 
spot and was delighted on finding in the centre of a small tus- 
sock of grass the commencement of a nest. Went to the place 
the next day and saw the female at work ; did not go again for 
two days when there was one egg. On June 5th I took the nest 
with four fresh eggs. By creeping up carefully and putting my 
hand over the nest, succeeded in catching the female. Saw the 
male soon after, but he was exceedingly slry." 

In structure the nest closely resembles mine, but is a little 
narrower and deeper inside. It measures in height 3.00 inch- 
es, width, 3.80, diameter inside, 1.90, dcptli inside, 2.00. The 
eggs are white, faintly spotted witli red on the larger end, 
and measure .72x.52, .70x.56, .70x.48, and .68x.58 inches. 

Mr. Eager found his nest about one fourth built on the 5th of 
June, 1875, in rather low, wet woods, within one hundred feet 
of a travelled road, and it was placed on the ground between 
some young oak sprouts. June 9th, it contained four eggs. He 
did not see either of the birds until the 11th, when he shot the 
female, but did not see the male at all. The nest was well con- 
cealed by dry leaves, and was made up outwardly of dry and 
skeletonized oak leaves, and lined with grape vine bark interwo- 
ven with fine yellow grass. Height, 3.00 ; width, 3.60 ; diameter 
inside, 2.10; depth inside, 2.00. The eggs were white, with 
few light reddish spots on the larger end, and measure, .70x.54, 
.G9x.55, .69x.53, and .69x.55 inches respectively. 

These nests were all found in Newton, within a mile of 
each other. 



NVTTALL ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 



NOTES ON THE ROUGH- WINGED SWALLOW (HIRUNDO 
SERRIPENNIS), IN PENNSYLVANIA. 

BY WALTER VAN FLEET. 

I have, during two years of rather careful observation, no- 
ticed a constant and decided difference in the breeding and 
other habits of the Rough-winged Swallow, as compared with the 
Bank Swallow ( H. riparia). The main points are as follows : 

II. serripennis is not gregarious while nesting, but during the 
breeding season appears rather to avoid its kind, as well 
as the Bank Swallows, and to associate only in pairs. Their 
nesting holes are not placed near each other in the manner of 
H. riparia, but are scattered along the banks of creeks and riv- 
ers at irregular intervals, wherever an especially favorable local- 
ity occurs. They very seldom excavate a hole for themselves, 
but generaHy take up with any suitable cavity, and alter it to 
suit their taste. It is quite common to find them breeding in 
deserted Kingfishers' holes, and in this case placing the nest 
within a foot or eighteen inches from the entrance. They will 
also, on finding a decayed root of sufficient size, leading in from 
their favorite sand banks, remove the soft punky wood, follow- 
ing the winding of the root, until they have arrivedat a suit- 
able distance — about two feet — where, after enlarging the cavi- 
ty, they place their nest. This species is also fond of building 
in holes in stone bridge piers and other masomy, near water, re- 
turning to the same place year after year. 

In the few cases which I have observed of their excavating, 
for themselves, it has been done in a very slovenly manner, and 
invariably their holes have been much larger than is apparently 
necessary, and round at the entrance, while on the contrary the 
holes of the H. ripzria are very symmetrical ellipses, with the 
longer axis horizontal, and not larger than is needful to permit 
free ingress and egress of the birds. I have never yet, in this lo- 
cality, found a Bank Swallow's hole large enough to admit the 
hand, without enlarging, while the nest of the Rough-wings can 
generally be readied without any trouble, except when built in 
masonry. In this case they will pass through a crevice barely 
large enough to admit their bodies, providing there is a cavity 
within large enough to contain the nest. 
2 



10 QUARTERLY BULLETIN. 

The nests of 11. serripennis are generally much more careless- 
ly built than those of 1L riparia; they do not seem to go any 
distance for their materials, but appear to pick up anything suit- 
able which they can find within a few rods of their habitation. 
The nests of the two species are composed of nearly the same 
substances, but those of H. riparia exhibit a greater variety in 
the same nests, for, as they build in large colonies, they are 
obliged to search for materials in different places. On one oc- 
casion I remember finding a nest of 11. serripennis composed 
entirely of feathers of domestic fowls. It was built in a desert- 
ed Kingfisher's hole, in a sand bank, about fifteen rods from a 
barn-yard, in which fowls were constantly kept. At another 
time I found three fresh eggs lying on the bare sand ; the hole 
was a mere pocket, barely six inches deep. In this case the fe- 
male bird was probably under ao great a necessity that she did 
not have time to construct a nest in the usual manner, but had 
hastily deepened the already formed cavity. 

I have quite frequently found fresh eggs in the nests of 77. 
serripennis, and those far advanced in incubation ; indeed, 
have found fresh, nearly hatched eggs, and young birds, in the 
same nest, but I have never noticed anything like this among 
Bank Swallows, though I have searched carefully. 

In general habits the difference is perhaps less marked. The 
Rough-wings arrive here about the 10th of April, in large num- 
bers, full two weeks before the Bank Swallows, and are found in 
company with 11. horreorum and 11. bicolor, playing around, 
and chasing insects over the ponds and rivers. 

About the first of May the Bank Swallows come ; 11. serripen- 
nis then appear to grow scarcer, and to desert the vicinity of 
ponds and streams where there are no sand banks. During the 
latter part of June and through July, I have often met pairs 
of Rough-winged swallows flying steadily in a particular direc- 
tion, one or another turning out to pursue an occasional insect, 
but when it was captured returning to its former general 
course, over meadows, forests and streams until lost to sight I 
have thus met pairs at different Limes, going towards all points 
of the compass. As they fly quite high at these times I have 
never succeeded in killing both birds, but think the}' would 
prove to be male and female. 

About the last of August, both this species, and 77. riparia 
begin to migrate southward, associated with the Barn Swal- 



NUTTALL ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. \\ 

lows ; when there is no perceptible difference in the habits 
of either. By the middle of September they have all disap- 
peared. 

Watsontown, Pa., Feb. 20th, 1876. 



ON THE BREEDING OF THE BLACK-THROATED BLUE WAR- 
BLER (DENDRCEOA CJERULESCENS) IN CONNECTICUT. 

BY C. M. JONES. 

As but little is known concerning the nesting of this warbler, 
a description of two instances which have come under my ob- 
servation may not be without interest. But perhaps the most 
interesting fact connected with the discovery of these nests is 
the occurrence of this species, during the breeding season, so 
far south of its usual summer habitat. Eastford, where they 
were found, is in the north-east corner of Connecticut, being 
eight miles south of the Massachusetts line, and sixteen miles 
west of the Rhode Island line. 

My first discovery of the nest of this bird was on the 8th of 
June, 1874. While taking a stroll in search of specimens for 
my cabinet, my attention was arrested by a bird of which I 
could not determine the species. I tried to get a shot, but 
it was in the tops of the trees, and kept flitting about so rap- 
idly that I could only keep it in view sufficiently to follow, 
which I did for, perhaps, seventy-five yards, and then lost sight 
of it entirely. But just then I discovered a nest of the Wood 
Thrush (Tardus nmstilinusj, proceeded to appropriate the 
eggs, and had scarcely finished packing them, when I again 
discovered the bird, of which I had been in pursuit, in a 
bush not more than a dozen yards off, and from her restless 
manner I was convinced that it had a nest very near. I ac- 
cordingly retired a short distance, and sat down to await further 
developments. Presently it flew near the Thrush's nest, and 
after waiting a few moments, dropped into a low bush and dis- 
appeared. Allowing it sufficient time to get settled, I care- 
fully approached the spot, and, looking under the low bush- 
es, discovered it sitting on a nest, not more than two feet 
from where I stood while taking the Thrush's eggs. The bird 
let me approach within a yard before starting, and then, hop- 



12 QUARTERLY BULLETIN. 

ping suddenly to the ground, it flew to a bush five or six yards 
off, uttering a few low chirps, endeavoring apparently to con- 
ceal itself. Not being able to identify the species I was obliged 
to shoot, and it proved to be a female Dendrceca ccemlesceris. 

The nest was located in deep woods, near the base of a hill, 
which sloped down to a swampy run. It was built in a small 
laurel, (Kalmia latifulia), a fourth of an inch in diameter at the 
base. About five inches from the ground the bush separated into 
three branches, and in this triple fork the nest was situated. It 
has a firm and compact appearance. External diameter, about 
three inches ; internal, one and three-fourths inches ; external 
depth, two and three-fourths inches ; internal, one and three- 
fourths inches. Top of nest, seven and one-half inches high 
from the ground. It is composed outwardly of what appears 
to be the dry bark of the grape vine, with a few twigs and roots. 
This is covered in many places with a reddish, woolly substance, 
apparently the outer covering of some species of cocoon. The 
inside is composed of small black roots and hair. The nest 
contained four fresh eggs, of which the following is a descrip- 
tion : — 

No. 1, ashy-white, with a ring of brown and lilac spots and 
blotches around the larger end, and a few minute spots of the 
same scattered over the entire surface. Precisely at the centre 
of the large end is a small spot of deep umber : dimensions, .61 
by .47. No. 2, white, with a slight tinge of green ; the larger 
end covered with blotches and spots like No. 1 ; one side, near 
the small end, shaded with the same, where there are also a 
few small spots of dark umber: dimensions, .61 by .47. No. 
3, ground color like No. 2 ; the larger end covered with blotches 
of light brown and pale lilac ; a spot of dark umber near the 
small end — dimensions, .64 by .50. No. 4, ashy-white, the lar- 
ger end surrounded and nearly covered with spots of brown, 
with minute spots of the same scattered over the entire surface 
— dimensions, .66 by .50. 

The second nest I discovered on the 13th of the same month. 
It was about eighty rods distant from the first, on level ground, 
and near a piece of swampy land. The spot was somewhat shad- 
ed by hemlocks ; the principal part of the forest trees being 
oak and chestnut. 

While examining a nest of Virso olivaceus, I heard a faint 
chirp slowly repeated, and, looking around, soon discovered iu 



NUTTALL ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 13 

one of the hemlocks a bird which I felt sure was of the same 
species taken a few days before. From her manner I felt 
she had a nest not far distant, and remembering how closely the 
other allowed me to approach before leaving her eggs, I conclu- 
ded that I must have passed very near the nest of this bird ; 
therefore retracing my steps, and looking carefully among the 
bushes I soon discovered the object of my search. Desiring 
that there should be no mistake about the species, I at once 
went home, and, taking my gun, returned to the place. Approach- 
ing cautiously I discovered her on the nest. She permitted 
me to approach very near, and then, like the other, dropped 
suddenly from the nest, and flew into the same hemlock in 
which I first found her. After securing my bird I took 
the eggs, but to my regret found that incubation had proceeded 
so far that it was impossible to save them. These — four in 
number — were of a darker shade than the first set, but this was 
evidently the result of incubation. They were also more spot- 
ted, and the spots spread more generally over the entire surface 
than in the other set. The nest was not so near the ground as 
the first, the top being eleven and one half inches from it. It 
was placed in a laurel, or more strictly speaking, in two laurels. 
One of these lay horizontally in the fork of the other, and on 
the horizontal one the nest was set, held in place by being at- 
tached on one side to the upright branches of the other. It is 
constructed of the same materials as the first, excepting the 
woolly substance on the outside, of which there are only two 
small pieces. External diameter, three and one half inches ; 
internal, one and seven-eighths inches ; external depth, two 
inches ; internal, one and three-eighths inches. 

As will be seen, by comparison, the nest is much more flat 
than the first, the result, undoubtedly, of its different situation 
on a horizontal branch, while the other being in a narrow triple 
fork, was necessarily narrower and deeper. Placed side by side 
the two nests bear very little resemblance, and would hardly be 
suspected of belonging to the same species. 



14 QUARTERLY BULLETIN. 



ON TWO EMPIDONACES, TEAILLII AND ACADICU S. 
BY H. W. HENSHAW. 

Perhaps no one group of North American birds has given 
rise to more confusion, and perplexing errors of identification 
than our small Flycatchers. More from this reason than from 
any other cause, our knowledge of the exact range of several of 
them is still far from being as complete as would be desirable. 
With a few words on this subject I shall pass to the main object 
of this paper, which was to call attention to certain differences, 
between the nests of the two species mentioned above, which it 
seems to me have never been sufficiently emphasized in the dis- 
tinction of the two birds, though by no means unknown before. 

In New England, if the Acadian Flycatcher be found at all, 
it is in the character of a very rare visitant, and I am inclined 
to believe that all of the various quotations assigning this bird 
to a place in the New England fauna may be set down as in- 
stances of mistaken identification, not excepting the evidence 
of Mr. J. A. Allen, who states that E acadicus is a rare summer 
visitant near Springfield, Mass. I am inclined to think that Mr. 
Allen's acadicus, were really Traillii, more especially since, in 
recounting the habits, he says, '* it breeds in swamps and thick- 
ets, which are its exclusive haunts." This accords perfectly 
with the habits of E. traittii, and is utterly at variance with 
those of acadicus, as elsewhere shown.* 

As at present made out the Acadian Flycatcher reaches no 
farther north along the coast than New Jersey. Nor in the in- 
terior does its range appear to extend much if any higher. 
Going west we find it occurs in about the same latitude in Penn- 
sylvania, in Ohio, where it is numerous about Columbus, (Dr. 
J. M. Wheaton,) and in southern Illinois, as shown by Messrs. 
Ridgway and Nelson ; while the Mississippi may be looked upon 
as marking about its western limit. 

We find, however, one quotation from further west, that of 
Mr. Allen of eastern Kansas. In its distribution the Traill's 
Flycatcher is decidedly more northern, though the southern line 

*Since penning the above I understand that Mr. Allen allows thia view to 
be correct. 



NUTTALL ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 15 

of its summer habitat is found to be somewhat that of its con- 
gener. Such is the case in Pennsylvania, in Ohio and Illinois. 

Limited to about Kansas in its extension westward, Traill's 
Flycatcher then fades into the closely allied form, known as var. 
pusillus, which seems to inhabit the western country at large, 
without much regard to the climatic condition which it finds. — 
In addition to many intermediate quotations we find it from 
Washington Territory (Cooper,) to New Mexico and Arizona 
where I have found it almost to the Mexican line, and also in 
southern California. 

In this wide range of country the Traill's Flycatcher appears 
to have changed its habits very little. It is everywhere a bird 
of the swamps and lowlands, being especially partial to the 
running streams, whose banks are well clothed with willow, dis- 
posed in dense thickets. This is as true of the var. pusillus in 
the west as of Trailili in the east, and there is seen also in the 
architecture of the nests of the two a similarity which is quite 
remarkable, when is taken into consideration the wide extent of 
country occupied by the two varieties. Slight variations aside, 
which are chiefly the result of a difference in the materials used, 
the selection of which alwa} r s largety depends upon fortuitous 
circumstances, there is almost no difference. 

As typical then of either variety, I shall briefly describe a 
nest of Traillii, one of a series of five, kindly presented by Dr. 
Wheaton, and taken near Columbus, Ohio. 

It may be fairly compared with the usual structure of the 
Summer Yellow Warbler (DcndrcBca cestiva), so well known to 
every one, but lacks something of the compactness and neat- 
ness shown by this species in its method of weaving together the 
materials that make up its home. Hempen fibres compose the 
exterior, or the hulk of the nest, while internally it is lined in true 
Flycatcher style with fine grasses, and a slight admixture of down 
from thistles ; the main point of all, however, is its position with 
regard to the branches. It is built into an upright fork, the small 
twigs that surround it being made available to secure it more 
firmly in its place by being encircled with the stringy fibres. In 
this particular of position correspond all of the nests of this 
bird I have seen, as well as those of pusillus in the west. 

Taking now a nest of E. acadicus, and placing it beside the 
others, a very striking difference is at once seen. Instead of 
comparing it with the structures of any of the Warblers, or with 



16 QUARTERLY BULLETIN. 

those of the above species, we are at once reminded of the Vi- 
reos, though no one familiar with the elegant basket-like struc- 
ture of these weavers would think of mistaking this for one of 
their masterpieces. The resemblance is but a superficial one, 
beginning and ending with the manner the nest is disposed in 
a horizontal fork. 

It is a slight structure made of fine grasses, interspersed 
more or less with the blossoms of trees, the whole disposed in a 
circular form, and fitted between two twigs; a firm support is 
derived from a binding of spiders' webs, which are inter- 
woven with the sides of the nest, and then carried over the 
twigs on either side, encircling them with strong bands. The 
entire base of the nest is without support, and so thin is the 
slight structure that the eggs might almost be seen from be- 
low. This nest was built in a small tree, perhaps twenty 
feet from the ground. In this respect the two species vary but 
little, both preferring to select the lower branches of tree or 
shrub as the site of their domicile, and only rarely departing 
from the rule. This last nest was taken near Washington, by 
Mr. P. L. Jouy, who kindly placed it at my disposal. The con- 
trast between these two structures could indeed scarcely be 
greater, and those selected for description may, I think, be taken 
as fair samples of the styles of nest architecture that obtain 
with the two species, at least all of a considerable number I 
have seen, from several localities, correspond with the forego- 
ing. 

A word as to the eggs. After examination of several sets of 
either species, of which the identity was unquestionable, I am 
certain that no decided differences of coloration exist between 
them ; none at least that are constant and that can be made of 
use in the exact discrimination of the two. Dr. T. M. Brewer, in 
speaking of the eggs of E. traillii, describes them as possessing a 
" white ground color with a distinct roseate tinge," and marked 
with large and well defined blotches of purplish brown, while in 
his description of acadicus, he says in distinction,' the eggs resem- 
ble more those of the Contopi, and are "of a rich cream color 
with reddish-brown shading, marked at larger end with scattered 
and vivid blotches of red and reddish-brown." The truth is, 
however, that the shade of the ground color of either species is 
extremely variable, not being alike in any two sets I have 
examined. The eggs of Traill's Flycatcher are frequently 



NUTTALL ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 17 

found to be of a very decided cream color, approaching buff, 
while those of the Acadian, if anything, are more buffy, but will 
now and then be found to be fully as pale as some of the Traill's. 
The markings, too, are subject to considerable variation as to 
precise shade, number and size. 

On this point Dr. Wheaton remarks, that while he can discov- 
er no specific difference in the eggs of the two birds, he is of the 
opinion, that the eggs of acadicus average a little longer and 
slenderer than those of Traillii, and have perhaps a yellower buff 
tinge. 

With reference to the habits of these two species, Dr. "Whea- 
ton has always observed a very decided difference, especially in 
the localities chosen as homes, and considers " the locality as 
characteristic of the species as any of its other points." He 
has always found Traill's Flycatcher a lover of the low grounds, 
and especially fond of the willow clumps along running streams, 
while of the Acadian he says : " It is never found in company 
with, or in such localities as are frequented by the Traill's. In 
all cases it is found in upland woodland, preferably, and I might 
almost say as far as my observation extends in beech woodland. 
I have never seen it even during the migration in other pla- 
ces." 



ON THE OCCURRENCE OF CERTAIN BIRDS IN THE NEW 
ENGLAND STATES. 

BY WM. BREWSTER. 

It must be admitted that the knowledge which we possess of 
the geographical range of even the commonest of our North 
American birds is at present but imperfect. 

Important and interesting as this branch of ornithological 
lore may be regarded and receiving, as it has of late, consider- 
able attention, it yet admits of much closer study. Local lists 
have proved of great value as offering readily available expo- 
nents of desultory field work, and it is to them that we must 
often turn for our most valuable notices of rare species. The 
component species of these lists are classed under two heads— 
those which more or less regularly occur in the district treated 
— and others, extralimital by right, but which driven before 
3 



18 QUARTERLY BULLETIN. 

storms or wandering aimlessly, are finally captured in a region 
so remote from the usual range that the chances are a thousand 
to one against another individual of the same species ever find- 
ing its wa}' thither again. Occurrences of the latter class are 
certainly not devoid of interest, but their value to the intelligent 
student of ornithology can bear no relation to that of the dis- 
covery of a species, which of regular, perhaps almost common 
occurrence, has entirely eluded the search of former collectors. 
Thus the capture of the Varied Thrush in Massachusetts must be 
regarded purely in the light of an accident — an accident, more- 
over, which proves nothing beyond the bad taste of the bird in 
straying to a region so remote and so overrun by collectors of 
its race ; while the establishment of a fixed fact like that re- 
cently developed, of the regular seasonal appearance inconsid- 
erable numbers of Passerctdus princeps along our New England 
coast, cannot fail to prove of the utmost practical value to the 
ornithologist, and reflectant of great and lasting credit on the 
fortunate discoverer. 

In the present state of our available knowledge, however, 
classifying any newly acquired feathered citizen under either of 
the above heads, can scaroely fail to prove a somewhat danger- 
ous and arbitrary committal. Truly, in ornithology, " we know 
not what the morrow will bring forth ;" perhaps it will be our 
" accidental visitor" in multitudes; or the bird which we shot 
yesterday, for the first time, may never be heard from again. — 
Manifestly the only thing that can be safely done is to "make a 
note of it," and calmly await future developments. Sage proph- 
ecy has, however, such temporary charms, that the best of us 
fail to keep altogether clear of it at times, and it may' not be 
gainsaid that it has its value — a value, however, that bears al- 
ways a most close relation to the reliability to its author. It 
possesses in addition a no small element of luck, and is in some 
sort a kind of ornithological gambling, where the fate or for- 
tunes of the participator are decided by the dice-throw of future 
discovery. 

Of the following five species, two are recorded for the first 
time in New England ; two are new to the State of Maine, and 
the last has never been previously taken in Massachusetts. Al- 
though the temptation to theorize a little on the occurrence of 
some of them is great, it will be at least more consistent to act 
in accordance with the philosophy just advanced and simply 
give the facts, leaving the commentary to future times and wiser 
heads : 



NUTTALL ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 19 

Juncn Oregonus, (Towns.), Scl. Female, shot in Watertown, 
Mass., March 25th, 1874. This specimen is quite typical, and 
its identity has been confirmed by my friend, Mr. H. W. Hen- 
shaw, who has recently examined it. 

Corvus ossifragus, Wils. On the morning of March 16th, 1875, 
I saw a bird of this species flying swiftly over our place in Cam- 
bridge. It was pursued by at least twenty-five or thirty of our 
common species, (Corvus Americanus), and at each renewnal of 
their attacks gave utterance to its peculiar and unmistakable 
notes. Having thoroughly familiarized myself with its voice 
and motions in the South, where it is abundant, I feel confidant 
that I could not in this instance have made any mistake. The 
very fact of its having drawn the angry attention of so many 
common crows, at a season too when their gregarious habits are 
given up for more social relations, proves that it was to them 
an object of novelty and one deemed worthy of suspicion and 
hatred, I am not aware that an}' such feeling is maintained 
when the two species come together in numbers ; but however 
this may be matters little, as our oird habitnally treats all sus- 
picious strangers in a like manner, and the collector is not sel- 
dom indebted for a rare hawk or owl to the watchful eye and 
clamorous alarum of thia sable sentinel. 

Vireo Philadelphicus , Cass. Qxi Sept. 7th, 1875, I shot a 
female of this beautiful little species in Cambridge, Mass. It 
was feeding in company with several individuals of Vireo olioa- 
ceus, in a low willow tree. 

Tringa Bairdii, Coues. I secured a fine male of this spe- 
cies at Upton* Oxford County, Maine, Sept. 1, 1875. When first 
observed it was sitting alone on a mud flat at the foot of 
Lake Urabagog. 

P/iilomachus pugnax Gr. Female. Killed at Upton, Ox- 
ford County, Maine, September 8th, 1874. It was shot while 
flying on the marshes at the mouth of Cambridge River. My at- 
tention was attracted to it by its peculiar hawk-like flight, which, 
provided it be a constant attendant of its motions, should at 
once distinguish it while on wing from any other Tringce. I 
am aware that this species has already been given in Mr. G. 
A. Boardman's " List of the Birds of Calais, Me.," but Dr. 
Brewer informs me that none of the specimens therein referred 
to were taken within Maine limits. The only authentic N. E. 



20 QUARTERLY BULLETIN. 

quotation that I can at present recollect is the record of a Mass. 
specimen in " Am. Nat.," vol. vi, p. 30G. The occurrence of 
the. present individual so far inland is worthy of remark. 



ALMNISM AND MELANISM AMONG NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS. 
BY RUTHVEN DEANK. 

What a striking contrast it is as we examine a collection of 
Birds, to see one of our familiar friends standing out in hold 
relief among others of its own species clad in a spotless suit, or 
perhaps wearing a most variegated coloration of plumago, a 
white head, a white wing, or a few white tail feathers, while the 
rest of the bird retains its normal plumage. 

This " freak of nature " is of more frequent occurrence than 
is generally supposed, yet notwithstanding how difficult it is for 
an individual to get together any number of specimens. 

I presume there is scarcely a collection of any size in the 
country that has not one or more specimens represented, and 
yet many of our most experienced collectors, who have shot 
thousands of birds, are yet to have the luck (for sheer luck we 
must call it) to add a specimen to their cabinet taken with their 
own gun, and one must generally be content with but few ex- 
amples. 

During the past few years I have been fortunate enough to 
add about a dozen specimens to my collection, though have only 
taken an individual myself. As I have just remarked we may 
shoot a whole season in various parts of the country, and travel 
many miles without happening upon a single specimen, yet 
scarcely a week passes that we do not see in some of our daily 
papers that so and so recently shot a white Robin, or a white 
English Sparrow was seen in one of our public parks, or a white 
Blackbird is making a sensation in a certain locality, and it 
must be generally acknowledged that the casual observer is more 
fortunate than one who is constantly in the woods and fields. 

Pure albinism is of rare occurrence, the majority of specimens 
retaining more or less of their normal dress. Of course this 
disease is liable to occur in any birds, though more frequently 



NUTTALL ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUR. 21 

in some families than others, and I can now recall some fifty or 
sixty different species in which it is represented. 

Among the Turdidce, the Robin (T. migrator ius), is the only 
species 1 have seen in the albino state, and in my experience is 
the most common example among our. birds, though we rarely 
hear of pure white specimens, and out of some twenty I have 
seen, there were not an}* two that resembled each other. 

Among the Saxicolidce, I have seen the Bluebird (S. sialia) 
represented, the specimen being of a light yellowish cast, 
though traces of its normal plumage could readily be discerned* 

Representatives among the Sylvicolidce, I have seen in lim- 
ited numbers for so large a family, the examples being P. Amer- 
icana, a beautifully marked specimen among the collection of 
the Smithsonian Institution. D. castanea, a small'portion of the 
forehead being white, and extending over half of the upper man- 
dible. D.coronata has been taken in partial state, and S.ruticilla. 
This later species I shot some years ago, and it presents a curious 
mixture of coloration. The black head and breast is mottled 
with white, the black dorsum is replaced by bright orange, with 
a few blackish feathers intermixed, while the belly and crissum 
are much more strongly marked with orange than in a typical 
specimen. I was attracted at some distance by this peculiar 
plumage, and like all abnormal birds it was unusually shy. 

Albinism among the Hirundinidce is generally pure white or 
of a strong yellowish cast, and I cannot recall of having seen 
or heard of a specimen in only a partial state. I have seen 
specimens of H. horreorum, T. bicolor, C. riparia, P. lunifrons, 
and P. purpurea, in this white dress. Ampelis cedrorum has 
been taken in some striking stages of plumage, the crest, 
wax appendages on the wings, and the yellow tips of the tail 
feathers retaining* color, while the rest of the body bore a 
bleached out appearance. 

Doubtless the FringiUidce are represented more largely than 
any family, though but eleven species have 1 come under my no- 
tice, Passer domeslkus being the only one pure white. A speci- 
men of A. linaria was recently captured, whose plumage was 
white, with the exception of the crimson patch on the crown. 
The other examples are P. gramineus, M. melodia, J. Orcgonus, 
S. monticola, S. socialis, S. pusilla, Z. albicollis, and P. illiaca — all 
these presenting a mottled plumage. In a specimen of Z. albi- 
collis, kindly presented to me by Mr. N. G. Brown, of Portland, 



22 QUARTERLY BULLETIN. 

M nine, the head is pure white, with the exception of the yellow 
superciliary stripe which remains and causes a marked contrast. 

The most interesting and striking cases of albinism are those 
among the Icteridce and Corvidce, and how many times have I as- 
tonished disinterested persons by referring to a white Black- 
bird or a white Crow, and to such persons it must indeed seem 
very absurd to prefix " white" before Blackbird, and also be- 
fore Crow, for how common the comparison is, " as black as 
a Crow," but as previously remarked, this family are as likely 
to be represented as any others. Several examples of S. magna 
have been noted. D. oryzivorus has been taken in this plumage, as 
lias also M. pecoris, A. pkaeniceus, X. icterocephalus, Q. purpureus, 
and C. cristatus. This last was a beautiful specimen of a pe- 
culiar character of albinism, the bright plumage being modi- 
fied as though a white veil had been thrown over it, yet all the 
natural markings of the birds could be plainly seen. 

I am induced to think that among the Tyrannidce but few ex- 
amples have been detected, as T. Carolinensis is the only exam- 
ple I have ever heard of. This specimen was in the collection 
of Mr. James Booth at Niagara Falls. The bird. has a stained 
or creamy plumage, but the most interesting point is that the 
flame-colored patch on the crown remains ; a case similar to A. 
linaria. C. auratus is the only example among the Picidce that 
has come under m}' notice. I have an extremely light colored 
specimen of S. varius, which I collected at the Urabagog Lakes, 
but am inclined to think that this was caused by old age. 

Among the Strigidce a fine specimen of S. nebulosum is in the 
natural history museum at Niagara Falls. The. only one 
among the Falconidce, on my list, is that of B. borealis, a mag- 
nificent example, pure white, taken on the Hoboken marshes, 
N. J. Among the Columhidce, E. migratorius is noted. Frequent 
occurrences among the Tetraonidce are illustrated in C. cupido, 
B. umbellus, and O. Virginia?ius, though occasional examples are 
found in 0. pictus and L. Californicus. A beautiful specimen of 
B. umbellus was recently taken in West Bridge water, Mass., its 
plumage being white as the driven snow. 

I have seen 0. Virginianus having the veiled appearance as 
described in the Blue Jay. 

An albino, 0. fulvus var. virginicus, was shot on Cape Cod, in 
September, 1875. This is the only instance which has come to 
my knowledge of albinism occurring in any of our Plovers or 



NUTTALL ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 23 

Sandpipers, and as these species are shot in such immense num- 
bers during the migrations is it not a little strange that we do 
not hear of more examples, as such curiosities are always pre- 
served, even by the market gunner. P. minor and G. Wilsoni 
have been shot in white plumage, and thus our four game-birds 
have been added to the list. 

P. Carolina, in albinistic plumage is among the collection in 
the Boston Museum. Examples of others of this family I have 
not noted. I have seen nine species representing albinism among 
the Anatida. A partial want of coloration in B. bernicla is an 
interesting specimen ; A. boschas, Q. discors, II. glacialis, F. affin- 
is and F. vallisneria, bore more traces of albinism than of their 
normal plumage, while specimens of B. clangula, A. albeola, and 
O.fusca, were pure white, this latter presenting almost as great 
a contrast as in the case of the Crow. The Procellariidce are 
represented by one species, F. giganteus, which is in the collec- 
tion of the Philadelphia Academy. 

One of the finest and most attractive examples is among the 
Colymbida, a snow-white specimen of C. septentrionalis, which was 
shot in Salem Harbor, Mass., and is now in my possession. A 
similar curiosity is at the Smithsonian Institution. An albino 
L. troile is in the Museum collection at Toronto, Canada. U. 
grytte and M. alle have also been recorded. 

Many questions would naturally arise as to the cause of this 
abnormal state in which so many of our birds are found, though 
I believe it is generally understood to be a lack of the coloring 
matter deposited in the cells of the feathers. It is certainly not 
influenced by any climatic changes or geographical distribution, 
as specimens are taken throughout the country, and not more or 
less abundant in any locality ; nor is it caused by old age, for 
we have heard of broods of j r oung Quail in albinistic state ac- 
companied by white parents ; and another interesting example, 
is that of a young Robin, milk-white, still unable to leave the 
nest. This specimen was taken at Saybrook, Conn., by Mr. 
H. A. Purdie, who informs me that the parent birds were in 
normal dress. 

Whether any specimens hatched in this stage have been de- 
tected to attain any of their regular plumage after the moult, I 
am unable to say, though should think it very doubtful. I have 
heard an instance of a white Robin building its nest for several 
successive years on the same spot in an old wood-shed. This 



24 QUARTERLY BULLETIN. 

was unquestionably the same bird, and its plumage remained 
unaltered. 

Another point still more curious is: Why are some families 
of birds effected, us a rule, more than others? Cases among the 
Fr'mijiUidoe, Tetrao/iidae, and Anatidce, are of comparatively fre- 
quent occurrence, while among such large families as the Syloi- 
colidae, Tyrannidae, and Scolopacidae, we hear of but occasional 
examples. I will not express an opinion as to the truth of 
this problem, but leave it for more experienced heads to ponder 
over. 

Another abnormal state (Melanism), in which our birds have 
been found, is of exceedingly rare occurrence, and but five spe- 
cies have been recorded on my list : — Turdus migratorius, Colap- 
tes auratus, Melanerpes erytkrocephalus, Ortyx Virginianus, and Uria 
grylle. 

Doubtless many other, examples of albinism, and perhaps a 
few cases of melanism may be added to this list. 



NOTES ON BIRDS FOUND BREEDING ON COBB'S ISLAND, VA. 
BETWEEN MAY 25th AND MAY 29th. 1875. 

BY H. B. BAILEY. 

During so short a visit to any place the birds noticed must 
necessarily be only a small proportion of those actually occur- 
ring. The following observations relate principally to those 
breeding on the above named and two adjacent islands. Cobb's 
Island is situated off Cape Charles, Virginia, and is about seven 
miles long by half a mile wide and being little more than a sand 
bar, is well adapted as a breeding resort for the various species 
of Terns and Waders found there. The coast side of the island 
is a magnificent beach which gradually rises up to an elevation 
of about fifteen feet from sea level in the centre, on which there 
is a rank growth of grass, while on the other side a long marsh 
extends in some places as far as half or three quarters of a mile 
from the main island at low water, but is nearly overflowed at 
high tide. In addition to the species enumerated below there 
were large numbers of shore birds migrating north, and several 
sportsmen were enjoying such shooting as we never get on the 



NUTTALL ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 25 

New England coast, and doubtless nearly all the species of 
Sandpipers, Plovers, Godwits, and Curlew, occur here both dur- 
ing the spring and autumn migrations. In the fall and winter 
the sea-fowl shooting is such as one would expect, and to judge 
from the sportsmen's stories this is a perfect paradise for kin- 
dred spirits. I must add my complaint to that of others against 
the wholesale robbery of the eggs of nearly all species nesting 
here. Numbers of eggers lay off the island and make the rounds 
daily until procuring a cargo they leave to be followed by others. 
The birds are robbed so often that they must eventually leave 
for other breeding localities. Ovaries of many specimens ex- 
amined by me were sadly depleted. 

Dendrceca discolor, Bd. Prairie Warbler. A male was heard 
singing in a swamp on Hog Island, and reminded me forcibly of 
our own New England collecting. 

Hirundo horreorum, Bart. Barn Swallow. Several pairs were 
breeding in the out-buildings connected with the settlement on 
Cobb's Island. 

Ammodromus marilimus, Sw. Seaside Finch. Although not common it 
was the most abundant land bird on the island, probably twenty pairs 
breeding there. I succeeded in finding three nests, two of which con- 
tained four eggs each, and one three, all fresh. They were placed in 
clumps of grass, on the high ridge, in the centre of the island, very 
Carefully concealed, and quite neatly built of grasses, lined with hne 
pieces of the same ; one of them was also arched over. 

Agelaus ■phcenkeus, Vieill. Red-winged Blackbird. One pair raised 
a brood in a grape-vine arbor near the house and picked up crumbs 
from the piazza, reminding ohe of our common "Chippy" in socia- 
bility. 

Corvus Amerkanus, And. Common Crow. Several were seen 
and heard on Hog Island, sometimes in company with the Fish Crow. 

Corvus ossifragus, Wilson. Fish Crow. This species is quite 
common on Hog and Moekhorn Islands, and I was fortunate enough 
to obtain a set of five eggs, nearly fresh. These are very much 
smaller than those of our common species, there being as much dif- 
ference in size as there is between those of the Raven and the Common 
Crow. The nest cannot be distinguished from that of the latter, and 
was about twenty-five feet from the ground, in a large pine, in- 
whieh was also a nest of the Fish Hawk. The birds kept up a con- 
tinual croaking while we were disturbing their treasures. 

Tyrannus Carolinensis, Temm. King Bird. Several pairs had young 
nearly full grown. 
4 



26 QUARTERLY BULLETIN. 

Pandion haliadus, Cuv. Fish Hawk. About fifty pairs were 
breeding on Hog Island, which is about ten miles from Cobb's, and is a 
very favorable locality, as it is covered with a dense growth of pines 
which have, however, been killed off at one end of the island by the 
sand being blown up year after year, and in these dead trees are the 
Fish Hawks nests, some fifteen feet from the ground, and some less. 
Two were found placed on the ground, although it was evident 
they were once in a tree, above' ground, thus showing the reluc- 
tance this species has of leaving its chosen site. Some few pair 
bad nests in live trees in the centre of the island, which were unat- 
tainable by me. The nests are very large, some of them would fill 
a tip-cart, and the birds seem to add to them year after year ; those 
on the ground being evidently the oldest, and these were fully six 
feet across. The eggs were all nearly hatched, and in only one case 
did I find young, but they are usually laid by the 15th of April. Sev- 
eral pairs were also found on Mockhorn Island, in the Heronry. 

JEgialitis wilsonius, Cass. Wilson's Plover. " Stuttering Bird" of 
the inhabitants. This is comparatively a rare bird on the island, only 
about a dozen pairs breeding, and their eggs are very hard to find, 
being laid on the dry sand above high water mark, in a slight de- 
pression, among shells, and usually in the localities chosen by the 
Least Terns, and wero in all cases three in number. The birds were 
very shy and seldom seen about their nests. 

Hamalopus palliat us, Temm. Oyster Catcher. "Rain Crow." This 
species was formerly quite common during the breeding season, but 
it has been driven away until now there are not more than half a dozen 
pairs on the whole island, and these were distributed over its entire 
length. Their nests were more than half a mile apart, and all of 
them had been robbed by the eggers excepting two, both of which 
contained three eggs, and I believe this to be their full complement. 
The nests are slight hollows in the dry sand, lined with small bits of 
shells, and are quite easily found. The eggs are much Sought for by 
the inhabitants, owing to their size and delicious flavor, which latter 
quality I cannot testify to, as none were eaten while I was there ; the 
few obtained found their way into my collection. The birds are 
never seen in the vicinity of the nests during the heat of the day, and 
are very shy at all times. 

Tolanus semipalmatus, Temm. Willet. Breeds in large numbers on 
the island, and are not molested while nesting, as they are left for 
the fall shooting, and this is the only species that can enjoy the privi- 
lege of breeding in peace, the eggs of all the others are subjected to 
all the mysteries of the cuisine. Their usual nesting place is on the 
higher parts of the island, among the grass, where they conceal 
their nests so effectually that it is only by flushing the female directly 
from the eggs that the nests can be discovered. In this situation 



NUTTALL ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 27 

they are very slight structures, being depressions in clumps of 
grass, lined with finer grasses. The marshes are also favorite local- 
ities for breeding, and in this case the nests are more elaborate, being 
built up from the ground, which is wet at high tide. The eggs were 
in all cases four, very slightly incubated, 

Ardea herodias, Linn. Great Blue Heron. There were two Heron- 
ries on Mockhorn Island, one of which contained some fifty nests; 
as they were in a swamp I did not attempt to reach them, but pre- 
sume they had young. The other breeding place was on a neck of 
land that ran out from the main island, and here the nests were all 
made in low, dead trees, and were immense affairs. Almost all con- 
tained three or four young, nearly grown ; some few contained fresh 
eggs, and others had them with large embryos. Whether these 
were second layings or not I am unable to say, but they undoubtedly 
were, as these birds are seldom disturbed. 

Ardea candidissima, Gm. Little White Egret. One bird was 
seen and a few may still breed in the Heronry, but it is exceedingly . 
rare now where it was common a few years since, which may be 
accounted for by their being continually shot for the sake of their 
feathers. 

Ardea virescens, Linn. Green Heron. Several pairs were breed- 
ing, and all had fresh eggs, which were five in number, and most 
zealously watched by their parents. 

Rallus longirostris Bodd. Clapper Rail. Very common, and breeds 
in immense numbers all through the marshes and high grass on the 
main land. Although seldom seen the number of nests found testify 
to their abundance, These are carefully concealed, but are betrayed 
by a habit the bird has of bending the surrounding grass over the 
nest, thus forming a complete cone which can be seen at a consider, 
able distance. These usually contained eight or ten eggs, but one 
that I found had fourteen, while others found nests with over twen- 
ty, but it is possible that these were the products of two females. 
Although immense numbers were being brought in every day by 
the eggers, nearly all of the nests found by ine contained eggs near- 
ly hatched, and I think by the first of May their full complement 
must be laid. 

Larus atridlla, Linn. Laughing Gull. This species is the most 
abundant on the island and breeds in large colonies on every 
suitable marsh. When one of their breeding places is approached 
the noise is perfectly deafening and their eggs can be picked up by 
the bushel. Never more than three in a nest were found but the 
birds are so frequently disturbed by eggers that it is doubtful if they 
ever succeed in raising a full brood. Residents inform me that as 
late as August fresh eggs may be taken. 



23 QUARTERLY BULLETIN. 

Sterna anglica, Mont. Marsh Tern. A few pairs were seen, 
but the}' had not commenced to breed during my visit; they 
nest here sparingly, however, as I had a set of their eggs sent me 
which were laid the last of June. 

Sterna regia, Gamb. Royal Tern. Called "Gannets" by the na- 
tives. They have always been found breeding on a small sand-bar 
off the island, but it was washed away during the winter of '74-5, 
and although the birds were flying around they had not chosen any 
spot on which to breed, but they undoubtedly did later. 

Sterna hirundo, Auct. Common Tern. " Big Strikers" of the isl 
anders. Very common ; their principal breeding grounds are on the 
marshes, where the drifts deposited by the early spring tides are 
thickly covered with their nests. These are merely formed of dried 
reeds, lined with finer pieces of the same. A few pairs ars also found 
in the colonies of Least Terns, in which case they make no nest, but 
deposit their eggs in a slight depression in the sand. These are al- 
ways three, and we're all fresh, having been robbed by the eggers 
from the time of their laying about the middle of May. The Roseate 
Tern (Sterna Dougalli), doubtless breeds here also, but I was 
unable to detect it. 

Sterna superciliaris, var. antitlarum, Coues. Least Tern. " Little 
Striker." Colonies of about fifty pairs eaoh of this species extend the 
whole length of the island at about a distance of one mile apart. 
The eggs were just laid and were all nearly fresh; two being the 
usual number in a nest, and in no case did I find over three. These 
were laid in a depi*ession in the sand among broken shells and are 
very difficult to find owing to their similarity to the surroundings. 

Rhyuchops nigra, Linn. Black Skimmer. Called " Sea Crow." 
The birds were in flocks of twenty or thirty, during my stay, as they 
do not breed until the last of June. I had several sets of the eggs 
sent me and the sender states that they breed in colonies on the sand 
and always lav three iu a nest. 



BULLETIN 

OF THE 

NUTTALL OENITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 

Vol. I. JULY, 1876. No. 2. 

THE NUTTALL ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB.* 

In the autumn of 1871 two young ornithologists of Cam- 
bridge formed the plan of meeting weekly to " read Audu- 
bon," and to compare views and notes respecting various 
ornithological questions in which all were interested. After 
a few weeks they were joined by other "kindred spirits," 
who continued to meet each week for the comparison of 
notes and for study. For the first two years the meetings 
were wholly informal. In 1873 an organization was effected, 
under the name of the "Nuttall Ornithological Club." 
This name was selected as being a very proper one, from the 
fact that the "local habitation" of the Club was amid the 
scenes made classic by Nuttall, whose home for many years 
was here, and whose "Manual of the Ornithology of the 
United States and of Canada" abounds in allusions to local- 
ities within the precincts of Cambridge. A Constitution and 
By-Laws were drawn up and adopted, under which officers 
were duly chosen. The membership of the Club soon em- 
braced all the younger ornithologists of the vicinity, several 
of whom had already gathered collections numbering hun- 
dreds, and in some cases thousands, of specimens each, and 
who were from time to time acquiring facts of no little scien- 
tific value. 

* The subjoined historical sketch of the Nuttall Ornithological Club 
has been prepared for the purpose of answering some very natural questions 
that may arise in the minds of the readers of its Bulletin, namely, What is the * 
Nuttall Ornithological Club ? what has it done ? and what are its aims ? — Eds. 



30 BULLETIN OF THE NUT TALL 

The following year (1874) the project of publishing a 
Bulletin was agitated, but it was finally thought that the 
time for such an undertaking had not yet arrived. The 
American Sportsman was then adopted as a temporary me- 
dium of publication, and during the following year quite a 
number of the more important communications read before 
the Club were published in its columns. * At the same time 

* As a matter of permanent record of the work of the Club prior to the in- 
ception of the Bulletin, the following list of the principal articles read before 
the Club, and published in the American Sportsman and elsewhere, is here 
appended. 

1. A New Species of North American Warbler (Helminthophaga leucobron- 
ehialis). By Win. Brewster. Amer. Sports., Vol. V, p. 33, Oct. 17, 1874. 
[The first description of the species. See also Bull. Nutt. Orn. Club, Vol. I. 
No. 1, pp. 1, 2, and Plate I.] 

2. A New Species of Finch (Amvwdromus melanoleucus) from Florida. By 
C. J. Maynard. Amer. Sports., Vol. V, p. 24S, Jan. 16, 1875. [Collected in 
the marshes of Salt Lake, Florida, by Mr. C. J. Maynard. This is the form of 
Ammodromus previously (Bull. Essex Inst., V, p. 198, Dec, 1873) described by 
Mr. K. Ridgway as A. maritimus var. nigrescens.] 

3. A New Bird (Sterna regia) to Massachusetts. By William Brewster. 
Amer. Sports., Vol. V, p. 249, Jan. 16, 1875. [The record of the capture of 
two specimens, $ and 9> at Nantucket Island, July 1, 1874, by Messrs. C. J. 
Maynard and Wm. Brewster. The female bore marks of having just laid. 
Both specimens were in somewhat peculiar plumage.] 

4. Some Notes on a New Species of North American Tern. By Wm. Brew- 
ster. Amer. Sports., Vol. V, p. 249, Jan. 16, 1875. [Notice of a specimen 
of Sterna portlandica, Ridgway, collected on Muskeget Island, Mass., July 1, 
1870.] 

5. The Loggerhead Shrike in Massachusetts. By C. J. Maynard. Amer. 
Sports., Vol. V, p. 313, Feb. 13, 1875. [Record of the capture of a specimen 
of Collurio ludovicianus at Newtonville, Mass.] 

6. Occurrence of the Fork-tailed Gull (Xevia sablnci) in Massachusetts. By 
Wm. Brewster. Amer. Sports., Vol. V, p. 370. [Record of a specimen (the 
first taken in New England and the third taken in the United States) captured 
in Boston Harbor, Sept. 27, 1874.] 

7. The Nidificatiou of the Blue Crow (Gymnokitta cyanocephala) and of the 
Gray-headed Snowbird (Juneo canicejjs). By Charles E. Aiken (Cor. Memb.). 
Amer. Sports., Vol. V, p. 370, March 13, 1875. [First description of the 
nests and eggs of these two species.] 

8. Occurrence of the Mocking- Bird in Massachusetts. By E. C. Greenwood. 
Amer. Sports., Vol. V, p. 370, March 13, 1875. [Record of the capture of spe- 
cimens of Mimus polyglotius in Newtonville, with a notice, by Mr. Ruthven 
Deane, of others taken elsewhere in Eastern Massachusetts.] 

9. Habits of the Mourning Warbler. By Wm. Brewster. Rod and Gun 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 31 

the roll of membership was increased by the election, as " Cor- 
responding Members," of many of the younger ornithologists 
residing in other parts of the United States. 

During the winter of 1875 and 1876 the interest in the 
Club seemed to have somewhat abated, doubtless in great part 
owing to the removal of several of its more active members 
to distant parts of the country, the regular attendance at the 
meetings becoming mainly limited to the few original founders 
of the Club. In March, 1876, it was decided to make an 
effort to increase the resident membership, and to endeavor 
to awaken anew the interest of all the members, both resident 
and corresponding. Hence the matter of publishing a Bul- 
letin was again seriously considered. The question being 
decided affirmatively, the first number of the Bulletin was 
issued May G, 1876, consisting of twenty-eight octavo pages 
and a colored plate. Heretofore the Club had pursued the 
policy of excluding professional ornithologists, rather, how- 
ever, from a feeling of modesty than from any motive of ex- 
clusiveness. Realizing, however, that in order to establish the 
Bulletin on a firm basis, it was necessary to secure all pos- 



(new series of Amer. Sports.), Vol. VI, p. 50. [Based on observations made at 
Lake Umbagog, Me.] 

10. Ornithological Notes from Portland, Me. By 1ST. C. Brown (Cor. 
Memb.). Bod and Gun, Vol. VI, p. 65, May 8, 1875. [On the malformation 
of the bill in a specimen of Plectrojrfianes nivalis, and a record of the capture of 
Passercuhis princeps at Portland, and of Herod ias cgrctta in Scarborough, Me.] 

11. The Burrowing Owl in Massachusetts. By Ruthven Deane. Rod and 
Gun, Vol. VI, p. 97, May 15, 1875. [Record of the capture of a specimen of 
Speotyto cunicularia var. hypogcm at Newbuiyport, Mass.] 

12. Notes on the Habits of Certain Thrushes. By C. C. Abbott, M. D. 
(Cor. Memb.). Rod and Gun, Vol. VI, p. 86, May 8, 1875. [Notes on Turdus 
Pallasi, T. sicainsoni, and T. fusccscens, as observed at Trenton, N. J.] 

13. Partial List of the Summer Birds of Kanawha County, West Virginia ; 
with Annotations. By W. D. Scott. Proc. Bost. Soc. Nat. Hist, Vol. XV, 
pp. 219-230, Oct. 1872. [A list of eighty-six species, with notes.] 

14. Some Observations on the Birds of Ritchie County, West Virginia. By 
Wm, Brewster. Ann. Lye. Nat. Hist. N. Y., Vol. XI, pp. 129-146, June, 
1875. [An annotated list of one hundred species.] 

15. Some Additional Light on the so-called Sterna portlandica, Ridgway. 
By Wm. Brewster. Ann. Lye. Nat. Hist. N. Y., Vol. XI, pp. 201-207, 
Nov. 1875. [Its probable identity with S. macrura maintained.] 



32 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

sible aid in its support, and feeling also that the Club had 
given some token of its earnestness, the leading ornithologists 
of the United States were invited to co-operate with the Club 
as either resident or corresponding members. Upon their 
election the resident members of the Club were gratified to 
receive from the gentlemen so elected not only letters accept- 
ing membership, but containing expressions of the warmest 
interest in the objects and prosperity of the Club, together 
with offers of hearty assistance in the maintenance of the 
Bulletin as a permanent journal of Ornithology. 

With the present number the Bulletin becomes somewhat 
changed in its character, and greatly improved in typographical 
appearance. It is hereafter intended not only to present in 
each number original communications, but to give short notices 
of recent ornithological publications, especially such as relate 
to American Ornithology, and also a variety of notes and 
general miscellany. With the promises of literary support 
already received (see Prospectus), the Club publishes its second 
number of the Bulletin, feeling that its establishment as a 
journal creditable to American ornithologists is assured. 



REGARDING BUTEO VULGARIS IN NORTH AMERICA. 

BY ROBERT RIDGWAY. 

After having been repeatedly given as a North American species, 
in consequence of the erroneous identification of some one or other 
of its strictly American congeners, this common European bird has 
at last a claim to be included in our fauna. Such at least is the 
case according to the incontrovertible evidence presented in Mr. 
Maynard's article in the last number of this Bulletin (Vol. I. No. 1, 
pp. 2-6). The specimen upon which these remarks are based is a 
veritable B. vulgaris, as we are fully satisfied from a personal in- 
spection ; but, instead of concurring in the statement that " three 
specimens of the Common Buzzard have actually been taken within 
our limits," we believe, on the contrary, that only the one in ques- 
tion has been procured this side of the Atlantic, so far as the 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 33 

records show ; while there is a reasonable cause for suspecting that 
even this may have come into the possession of the collector in some 
manner forgotten by him, and that his circumstantial account of its 
capture refers to some other specimen. Mr. Maynard bases his 
belief that this species "will be found of regular occurrence in the 
Northwest " on the supposition that the birds which Audubon 
figured and described under the name of " Falco buteo," is of this 
species. That this opinion is erroneous, and that the plate and 
description cited refer wholly to B. swainsoni and the young of the 
Western Red-tail (B. borealis calurus), we hold to be demonstrable. 
It is very evident that Audubon does not describe the same bird 
which he figures, his plate representing clearly the adult female of 
B. swainsoni, in the normal or white-throated dress,* while the de- 
scription is as certainly taken from a specimen of a species belong- 
ing to the other group. t In our assertion that the plate referred 
to is a representation of the adult female of B. sivainsoni, we can 
cite several points in proof: the well-defined white throat-patch, 
the uniform brown pectoral area, and the numerous bars on the 
tail, — in fact, every detail of coloration. In the second place, 
Audubon expressly states at the beginning of his account that the 
specimen from which the figure was taken " was shot by Mr. 
Townsend on a rock near the Columbia River" ; it must therefore 
have been one of the specimens which Nuttall subsequently de- 
scribed as "Buteo montana"' ("White-throated Buzzard"), and, 
referring to his work (p. 112, ed. of 1840), we find that such is in- 
deed the case, since he cites Audubon's plate in the following man- 
ner : "F. Buteo, Aud., pi. 372 [female]." The case is made still 
plainer by the text itself, the whole of which relates, unmistakably 
and very clearly, to B. swainsoni. % The wide discrepancies between 
the description which follows Audubon's plate and the bird repre- 
sented in the plate itself can only be explained upon the supposi- 
tion that the description was penned subsequently from a different 
specimen, — a procedure well known to have been common with that 
distinguished author. No one familiar with the different phases of 

* See Pr. Ac. Nat. Sci. Philad., March 30, 1875, p. 89. 

t Ibid., p. 105. 

+ Mr. Cassin identified Nuttall's bird as the light-colored phase of tie West- 
ern Red-tail, to which throughout his writings he gave the name "Buteo 
montanus, Nutt." The error was first corrected in Coues's "Key to North 
American Birds," 1872, p. 217. 



34 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

B. swainsoni and B. vulgaris, would think of referring the plate to 
the latter, but would instantly recognize in it the adult female of the 
former in the ordinary light phase of plumage.* The identification 
of the bird described is not so readily made, but we will attempt it 
by a careful analysis of the text. 

The first two paragraphs of the description referred to may as well 
be passed over, since they are only an enumeration of generic charac- 
ters ; the third paragraph also contains little to the point, save 
the following clause: "Fourth quill longest, the third next, the 
fifth very little shorter, the second longer than the fifth, the first 
and seventh about equal ; first four abruptly cut on the inner tveb." t 
Now as regards the coloration : " The general color of the upper 
parts is chocolate-brown. The quills are of the general color exter- 
nally, but the primaries are black toward the tip ; a great part of 
the inner web, with the shaft, white, and barred with brownish- 
black, the bars more extended on the secondaries.^ The tail is 
marked with about ten dusky bars on a reddish-brown ground, 
tinged with gray, the last dark bar broader, the tips paler. § The 
eyelids are whitish, as is the throat, which is longitudinally 
streaked with dusky. || The rest of the lower parts are yellowish 

* Of the distinctive characters of these two species, only one of those enumer- 
ated by Mr. Maynard holds good ; the radical difference between them in the 
emargination of the primaries being the one referred to. As to the feet, they 
are more slender in B. vulgaris than in B. sivainsoni, while in the latter the 
under wing-coverts are often pure white, — by no means always rufous. [For 
diagnosis covering all the known variations of plumage and proportions in this 
species, based on the careful examination and comparison of more than a hun- 
dred specimens, the reader is referred to the Proceedings of the Academy of 
Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, March 30, 1875, pp. 92, 104.] 

+ In B. vulgaris the third, fourth, or fifth quill is longest, usually the third 
and 'fourth, which are generally equal ; the relative proportion of the quills is 
the same in B. borealis (including all its forms), and in B. sivainsoni the third 
or fourth, usually the third, is longest ; hence on account of its variability 
this character is not of much value. 

X So far equally applicable to B. vulgaris and the young of B. borealis. 

§ In B. vulgaris the tail is grayish- rather than reddish -brown, seldom with 
a tinge of red ; the bars are always badly defined, excepting on the middle 
feathers, and become more or less obsolete toward the base, — those which are 
distinct being of an indefinite number, but usually about ten. The young of B. 
borealis frequently has the tail decidedly reddish, and the bars almost always 
well-defined, and nine or ten in number. 

H Will answer for either B. vulgaris or B. borealis. 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 35 

or brownish-white barred with brown.* The lower wing-coverts are 
white, barred or spotted with dusky ; the white of the inner webs 
of the primaries forms a conspicuous patch, contrasted with the 
grayish black of their terminal portion. f 

"Length to end of tail, 23 inches ; wing, from flexure, 17 ; tail, 
10£ ; bill along the ridge, 1^ ; along the edge of the upper mandi- 
ble, l^ ; tarsus, 3^ '> hind toe, 1, its claw, 1^ ; middle toe, 1|§, its 
claw, 1 T V" + 

From the preceding analysis of the " Falco buteo" of Audubon, 
we can only conclude that his description was taken from a young 
example of Buteo borealis calurus, which Mr. Townsend may have 
obtained somewhere in the Northwest. As an exceedingly perti- 
nent fact in this connection, it may be observed that Audubon 
nowhere describes the young plumage of B. borealis, nor does he 
figure it. He was, therefore, apparently unacquainted with the 
species in this stage, and might readily have taken it for a different 
species, and the B. vulgaris would be the one most likely to suggest 
itself, especially in view of the circumstance that it had been 
already given as a North American bird by Swainson and Richard- 
son. 

So far as the text goes, there is a probability of reference to B. 
sivainsoni only in the last sentence of the paragraph following the 
description. This reads as follows : " The colors, however, vary, 
and in some the upper parts are deep brown, the lower reddish- or 
brownish-white, barred with reddish-brown." 

To those interested in this subject, descriptions of the various 
phases of plumage in Buteo borealis may not be unacceptable in 
this connection : we accordingly present the following, taken from 
the series contained in the National Museum : — 

* This suits the young of B. borealis very well ; in B. vulgaris the markings 
of the lower parts are exceedingly variable, but they are for the most part 
rather longitudinal than transverse, unless the dusky color predominates, in 
which case there are rather well-defined bars of white on the abdomen. 

+ Characters common to B. vulgaris and B. borealis, and often not very 
different in B. swainsoni. 

X In a series of six specimens of B.- vulgaris, the maximum length of wing is 
16.60, the minimum being 15.50; the tail, 8.80-10.00; culmen (including 
cere), 1.20-1.30; tarsus, 3.00-3.50; hind toe, .70-. 85, its claw, .90 -.95 ; 
middle toe, 1.40-1.55, its claw, .75 -.78. It will thus be observed that 
the measurements of Aububon's bird are decidedly too great for B. vul- 
garis, while they in every way accord with those of an average specimen of B. 
borealis. 



36 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

Buteo vulgaris: Sp. Ch. — Wing, 15.50-16.60; tail, 8.80-10.00 
culmen, .85 -.95; tarsus, 3.00-3.50; middle toe, 1.40-1.55. Four 
outer primaries with inner webs emarginated ; third, fourth, or fifth quill 
longest (usually the third and fourth) ; first shorter than seventh, eighth, 
or ninth (usually intermediate between seventh and eighth). Tail even or 
very slightly rounded. Tail brownish, in some examples touched with 
rufous, sometimes with a narrow whitish tip, crossed by an indefinite num- 
ber (about 10-13) bands of dusky, more or less indistinct basally ; the 
inner webs lighter than the outer, sometimes whitish, the bars more dis- 
tinct. Inner webs of the primaries usually plain white anterior to their 
emargination, in marked contrast with their dusky tips, the white some- 
times immaculate, oftener with indications of bars, especially next the 
shaft, and rarely broken by a sprinkling or clouding of grayish ; outer 
webs grayish-brown, with indistinct darker bars, which become gradually 
obsolete towards the ends of the quills. Plumage generally a mixture of 
sooty-brown and white, in varying proportionate amount, in some speci- 
mens with occasional touches of rufous. 

In this species there appear to be no well-marked growth stages, 
nor does there seem to be much if any difference in plumage be- 
tween the sexes ; on the other hand, the range of individual varia- 
tion is very great, fully equalling that of either B. borealis or B. 
swainsoni. It is believed that the specimens contained in the Na- 
tional Museum illustrate the main variations, and as no two of these 
examples are alike, we will describe each one in detail : — 

Adult Males. 

Light Phase (No. 56,105, Germany). — Above grayish brown, broken 
by whitish edges of the feathers, these most distinct on the scapulars and 
middle wing-coverts ; lesser wing-coverts much spotted with deep buff, 
and scapulars irregularly marked with the same ; rump distinctly spotted 
with deeper buff ; remiges plain brown, very indistinctly banded with 
darker, the primaries with a decided hoary cast, the secondaries and inner 
primaries narrowly tipped with whitish. Outer upper tail-coverts white, 
with a few brownish spots. Tail grayish-brown, of the same shade as the 
secondaries, the inner webs whitish with well-defined bars towards their 
ends, the outer webs with just appreciably darker narrow bands. Head, 
neck, and lower parts white ; crown and nape streaked with grayish- 
brown, the streaks widest on the crown ; a rictal stripe of blended streaks, 
and a narrower and less distinct longitudinal series of streaks on the mid- 
dle of the throat ; jugulum with a wide collar of large cordate or broadly 
ovate spots of brown, with black shafts, the patch interrupted in the mid- 
dle portion ; abdomen with irregular bars and transverse spots of brown, 
and flanks with larger and more irregular spots of the same ; other por- 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 37 

tions of the lower surface immaculate. Axillars immaculate pure white ; 
lining of the wing pale cream-color, with longitudinal tear-shaped mark- 
ings or streaks of rusty brown ; under primary coverts with a large patch 
of grayish-brown, formed by the terminal half or more of each feather be- 
ing of this color ; inner webs of the primaries immaculate white anterior 
to their emargination. Wing, 15.70 ; tail, 9.00. 

This specimen presents a very close general resemblance to 
lighter colored examples of the young of B. borealis, the only obvi- 
ous difference being the cluster of spots on the jugulum (which in 
borealis is plain white), the obsolete character of the bars on the 
tail, and the more slender tarsi. 

Dark Phase (No. 9,689, Europe). — Prevailing color clove-brown, or 
sooty grayish-brown, this entirely unbroken on the upper surface, but be- 
neath slightly variegated with very narrow whitish streaks on the cheeks 
and throat, irregular bars and spots of the same on the abdomen ; tibial 
feathers with rusty tips ; crissum grayish-white with brownish spots and 
bars ; white of under surface of primaries broken by a confused sprinkling 
or mottling of grayish ; lining of the wing sooty-brown, irregularly spotted 
with buff and rufous. Tail grayish-brown, considerably lighter than the 
wings, narrowly tipped with dirty whitish, and crossed by narrow bands of 
darker brown, the last of which is much the widest (about 1.00 in breadth), 
the others decreasing in distinctness toward the base. Darker bars on the 
remiges almost entirely obliterated. Wing, 16.40 ; tail, 9.00. 

This example is almost identical in coloration with the dark 
phase of Buteo swainsoni* the only obvious difference being the 
white bars and spots on the abdomen. 

Young Male. 
Light Phase, Albinescent ? (No. 56,104, Germany). — Prevailing color 
pure white ; head, neck, and lower parts immaculate, except a few narrow 
streaks on the forehead and below the auriculars, a few scattered streaks 
on the side of the breast, and a slight spotting on the sides ; occiput and 
nape more distinctly streaked. Lesser wing-coverts almost immaculate 
pure white, and middle coverts so broadly bordered with white that this 
color prevails ; greater coverts tipped with white. Back dark brown, 
the feathers narrowly bordared with white ; scapulars with broader 
white margins. Entire rump and upper tail-coverts immaculate creamy 
white. Remiges and rectrices as usual, but the middle pair of the latter 
with their inner webs buffy white, with broken bars and spots of grayish- 
brown. Wing, 15.50 ; tail, 9.75. 

* See Pr. Ac. Nat. Sci. Philad., March 30, 1875, p. 115. 



38 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

This plumage is so well represented in the upper figure of Plate 
XXXIII of Naumann's Vogel Deutschlands, that the illustration 
must have been taken from an exceedingly similar specimen ; the 
figure, however, represents a slightly darker bird, with a few spots 
on the breast and lesser wing-coverts. It is also very much like the 
young of Buteo borealis krideri, as represented in Plate V, Pr. Ac. 
Nat. Sci. Philad., 1873, so far as regards the relative amount of 
brown and white ; but the markings are quite different, especially on 
the remiges and rectrices. 

Females. 
Light Phase, Adult (No. 56,107, Germany). Above grayish-brown, 
quite light on the tertials, some of the wing-coverts, and scapulars, which 
have still lighter (nearly white) borders ; all the feathers bordered with a 
paler, grayer shade, and showing distinct black shafts ; upper tail-coverts 
brown, narrowly tipped with soiled pale huff, the outer webs with a 
slight mottling of ochraceous. Tail grayish-brown narrowly tipped with 
dull buffy white, and crossed with nine or ten narrow bands of dusky, 
these mostly indistinct, but well defined on the inner webs of the interme- 
dke where the ground color is lighter and mixed with ochraceous. Head, 
neck, and breast light brown, the feathers edged with whitish, causing a 
slight streaked appearance ; flanks uniform brown, the feathers with nar- 
row whitish tips ; abdomen white, heavily spotted with dark brown ; this 
abdominal belt separated from the lighter and more uniform brown jugular 
patch by a somewhat crescentic pectoral belt of white nearly free from mark- 
ings ; tibiae nearly uniform brown, lighter in front and on the inside, the 
longer plumes tipped with light fulvous ; crissum immaculate white. 
Lining of the wing mixed rusty-rufous, buff and brown. Wing, 16.00 ; 
tail, 9.30. 

This specimen presents a curious and very strong resemblance 
to the adult Archibuteo lag opus in the coloration of the lower parts, 
not only in the colors and markings but in the peculiar pattern. 

Dark Phase, Adult ? (No. 56,109, Germany). — General color sooty-brown, 
this darkest on the head, neck, back, and breast (which have a decided 
purple reflection in certain lights), the general duskiness relieved only 
by rusty edges to the feathers ; scapulars " spattered " or blotched with 
pale cinnamon-rufous ; rump and upper tail-coverts uniform sooty-brown, 
the latter with very narrow and indistinct rusty tips. Tail grayish-brown, 
with narrow bands, of which about eight or nine are distinct, the inner 
webs of the middle pair much tinged with rufous. Abdomen marked 
with broad bars, or bands of dark brown and buffy-white, of about equal 
width ; the white bars most distinct and regular anteriorly, thereby throw- 
ing into greater relief the dusky pectoral patch, which has a convex poste- 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 



39 



rior outline ; flanks and tibiae nearly uniform brown ; crissuni white, with 
very regular wide bars of brown ; lining of the wing dusky, spotted with 
rusty. Wing, 16.50 ; tail, 9.50. 

In the coloration of its lower parts, this example calls to mind 
certain specimens of Pernis apivorus which we remember to have 
seen. A somewhat similar individual is represented in the lower 
figure of Plate XXXII of Naumann's Vogel Deutschlands. 

Dark Phase, Young ? (No. 23,407, Hungary). — Lower parts white, tinged 
in places with ochraceous, the tibia3 uniform dark brown on the outside, 
spotted brown and ochraceous on the inner sides. Throat, jugulum, breast, 
and abdomen marked with longitudinal stripes of dark brown, those on 
the throat narrow and linear ; on the sides of the breast broadly ovate and 
blended, on the abdomen tear-shaped ; crissum white, with a few scat- 
tered spots of brown. Tail grayish-brown, tipped with bright ochraceous, 
and crossed by very indistinct darker bands. Upper parts in general 
nearly uniform dark brown, the scapulars and lesser wing-coverts tinged 
with rusty. Wing, 16.40 ; tad, 9.75. 

List of /Specimens in U. S. National Museum. 



Nat. Mus. 
Number. 


Sex and 

Age. 


Original 
Number. 


Locality. 


Date. 


Donor. 


9,689 


$ ad 




Europe 




S. F. Baird. 


23,407 


9 jud. 


3,407 


Hungary 


1860 


Count Lamar. 


56,104 


$ jud. 


53 


Germany 


.... 


H. Schlatter. 


56,105 


$ ad. 


51 


<< 




it 


56,107 


9 ad. 


49 


< c 


.... 


" 


56,109 


9 ad. 


48 


<< 


.... 


<( 



ADDITIONS TO THE AVI-FAUNA OF ILLINOIS, WITH 
NOTES ON OTHER SPECIES OF ILLINOIS BIRDS. 



BY E. W. NELSON. 

Since the publication of Mr. R. Ridgway's " Catalogue of the 
Birds ascertained to occur in Illinois," * several species not named 
therein have been taken in the State, and many interesting notes 
respecting other little-known species have been gathered. Only the 
most important of the latter will be noticed in the present paper. 

* Ann. N. Y. Lye, Vol. X, Jan., 1874. 



40 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

All matter enclosed between quotation-marks is from the manu- 
script notes of Mr. Ridgway, who has kindly furnished them for 
use in the present connection. The remainder, with a few excep- 
tions (where due credit is given), are from my own observations. 
The first list comprises the fifteen species new to the State. 

1. Myiadestes townsendi, Cab. Townsend's Solitaire. — A fine 
specimen of this bird was obtained December 16, 1875, by Mr. Charles 
Douglas at Waukegan, Illinois. The specimen is considerably darker 
than one in my collection from Utah, collected about the same time of year. 

2. Coturniculus lecontei, Bon. Leconte's Bunting. — A single 
specimen of this rare bird was obtained by the writer at Riverdale, Il- 
linois, May 13, 1875. It was flushed from a slight depression in the open 
prairie near the Calumet River, where the moisture had caused an early 
growth of coarse grass, about three inches in height. After darting off in 
an erratic course for a few rods, it suddenly turned, and alighting ran 
rapidly through the grass, from which it was with difficulty started again 
and secured. 

3. Ammodroraus caudacutus var. nelsoni, Allen. Western 
Short-tailed Finch. — This variety of the Sharp-tailed Finch was first 
obtained September 17, 1874, in the Calumet Marsh, and described by Mr. 
J. A. Allen in the Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History 
(December, 1874), with a few notes regarding its habits. Since then I have 
learned of its capture at several widely separated localities in Northern 
Illinois, it appearing to frequent all suitable situations. The 12th of 
June, 1875, I saw several of these birds in the dense grass bordering 
Calumet Lake, where they were undoubtedly breeding. They were very 
numerous November 10, 1875, in the wild rice bordering Grass Lake, 
in Lake County, Illinois. A sharp frost that night caused them to leave 
so suddenly that the next afternoon not one was to be found. 

4. Chordeiles popetue var. henryi, Cassin. Western Night- 
Hawk. — Two specimens of this variety were obtained by my friend Mr. 
F. L. Rice near AVaukegan, Illinois, July, 1875. In the same vicinity I 
have obtained several specimens of this variety the present season. In 
comparing specimens from Illinois with typical specimens of henryi in 
my collection from the Rocky Mountains, I find they agree in all the 
characteristics upon which the variety is based. 

5. Buteo borealis var. calurus, Cassin. Black Red-Tail. — In my 
collection is a fine adult specimen of this variety which was captured 
near Chicago in April, 1873, by my friend, Mr. Charles Smith. 

6. Ardea rufa, Bodd. Reddish Egret. — This species was quite com- 
mon in the vicinity of Cairo during the last week of August, 1875. The 
unusually high water of that season caused a much larger number of herons 
to appear along the rivers in this vicinity than usual. Although Ardea 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 41 

egretta and A. ccerulea — both of which species were seen by the hundred 
daily — were quite unsuspicious, A. rufa was so exceedingly shy that it 
was almost impossible to get within gunshot of one. 

7. Branta canadensis var. leucoparia, Cassin. White-collared 
Goose. — Specimens of this variety are frequently taken during their 
migrations. 

8. Bucephala islandica, Baird. Barrow's Golden-Eye. — "Obtained 
in December, 1874, at Mt. Carmel, by Professor F. Stein, C. E., in charge 
of the improvements of the Wabash River." Also occurs on Lake Michi- 
gan in winter. 

9. Somateria mollissima, Leach. Eider Duck. — An immature speci- 
men was shot near Chicago in December, 1874, and is now in my collec- 
tion. Dr. H. B. Bannister of Evanston has seen other specimens taken 
near that place. 

10. Somateria spectabilis, Leach. King Eider. — " An adult female, 
obtained at Chillicothe, on the Illinois River, in the winter of 1874, has 
been sent to the National Museum by W. H. Collins, Esq., of Detroit, 
Mich." Undoubtedly occurs on Lake Michigan. 

11. CESdemia perspicillata, Kaup. Surf Duck. — "A single speci- 
men, an immature bird, was obtained at Mt. Carmel by Professor Stein 
in October, 1875. This is the first instance known to the writer of this 
species being obtained at any inland locality. Mr. E. W. Nelson, of 
Chicago, has, however, informed me of its recent capture on Lake Michi- 
gan, near that city." I have since learned that this species is common on 
the lake and adjacent waters. 

12. Stercorarius pomatorhinus, Lawr. Pomarine JaGER. — From 
the description of a bird seen with a flock of gulls near Evanston, 111., by 
F. L. Rice of that place, and the account of a strange gull occasionally seen 
by a sportsman who does considerable shooting on Lake Michigan, I am 
certain this species is a rare visitant during severe winters. 

13. Larus argentatus var. argentatus. Herring Gull. — Among a 
number of gulls obtained in the Chicago Harbor, March 27, 1876, was one 
specimen, an adult female, which has been pronounced by Dr. Coues 
to be a typical example of the European form (var. argentatus) of the 
Herring Gull. In this specimen the iris was hazel, while in several adult 
specimens of the common American form (var. srnithsonianus) the iris 
was bright yellow. 

14. Larus leucopterus, Fabr. White-winged Gull. — A regular 
winter visitant to Lake Michigan. Very shy. 

15. Xema sabinei, Bonap. Sabine's Gull. — While collecting along 
the shore of Lake Michigan, the 1st of April, 1873, I shot a specimen of 
this species in breeding plumage. Unfortunately it fell into the water 
just beyond my reach, and a gale from off shore soon drifted it out of sight. 



42 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

The following species, although not new to the State, are still 
imperfectly known as residents of Illinois. The quotations, as in 
the preceding list, are from the notes of Mr. Ridgway. 

1. Protonotaria citraea, Baird. Prothonotary Warbler. — Rare 
summer visitant to the northern portion of the State. Two specimens 
were taken near Chicago during the summer of 1875. 

2. Siurus ludovicianus, Bon. Large-billed Water Wagtail. — 
Quite abundant, and breeds in the northern portion of the State. 

3. Oporornis agilis, Baird, Connecticut Warbler. — Contrary to 
the generally received statements, this species is as abundant during the 
fall as in the spring migrations. They were quite common the 1st of Sep- 
tember, 1875, in the Calumet Marsh. 

4. Myiodioctes mitratus, Aud. Hooded Flycatching Warbler. 
— A rare summer resident in the northern portion of the State. One speci- 
men was taken May 10, 1875, near Chicago, and a second specimen near 
Waukegan, 111., May 20, 1876. 

5. Vireo belli, Aud. Bell's Vireo. — This species was abundant in 
the dense bushes bordering the ravines intersecting Fox Prairie, Richland 
County, 111., August 9 to 15, 1875. They were exceedingly shy, and al- 
though several could be heard uttering their curious song at the same time, 
and repeated efforts were made to secure them, only two specimens were 
obtained. I have since examined a specimen of this species shot in the 
vicinity of Chicago, in June, 1875, and further search will doubtless reveal 
their presence throughout the State. 

6. Plectrophanes pictus, Swains. Painted Lark Bunting. — The 
last of March, 1875, near Calumet Lake, I found a flock containing about 
seventy-five individuals of this species. Their habits were quite similar 
to those of P. lapponicus while upon the ground, except that while the 
latter species preferred the wet portions of the prairie, the former were 
found only about the higher portions. When flushed they invariably 
uttered a sharp clicking note, rapidly repeated several times. When 
driven from their feeding-place by my approach, they would rise in a. 
straggling flock, and after wheeling about once or twice, start off in a di- 
rect line, gradually rising higher, until they disappeared. After a short 
time their peculiar note would be heard, and the flock, darting down from 
a considerable height, would alight near the place from which they were 
driven. Although tbe flocks of P. pictus and P.' lapponicus often became 
mingled while flying over the prairie. I did not see them alight together. 

7. Peucsea aestivalis, Cab. Bachman's Finch. — This species was 
quite common in the vicinity of Mt. Carmel in July, 1875. 

8. Buteo swainsoni, Bon. Swainson's Buzzard. — In August, 1875, 
I obtained four fine specimens of this bird, an adult pair and two young, 
upon Fox Prairie. The young were shot from the tree on the border of 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 43 

the prairie in which they were reared, the remains of the nest in which 
they were hatched being pointed out by a farmer living near. 

9. Tantalus loculator, Linn. Wood Ibis. — This species was very 
abundant in the vicinity of Mound City, on the Ohio, and Cape Girar- 
deau, on the Mississippi, the last of August, 1875. 

10. Nyctherodius violaceus, Reich. Yellow-crowned Night- 
Heron. — ''In my 'Catalogue of the Birds ascertained to occur in Illinois' 
(p. 386), the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron is included as a ' summer vis- 
itant to the extreme southern portion of the State,' and in my later ' Cata- 
logue of the Birds of the Lower Wabash Valley ' it is given in the list of 
'species found only in summer' (p. 26) as 'common?' More recently, 
however, we have received information, in the shape of two fine adult spe- 
cimens shot from their nests, accompanied by an account of their capture, 
which confirms the breeding of the species in considerable numbers as far 
up the river as Mt. Carmel. The locality where they were found is a 
portion of bottom-land known as ' Coffee-fiat,' where a small colony was 
found nesting by Mr. Samuel Turner and my brother, John L. Bidgway, 
on the 6th of May, 1874. Two fine adult specimens in their breeding 
plumage were obtained, as were also a few eggs. One nest is described as 
situated in a white-oak tree about sixty feet from the ground, on a branch 
four inches in diameter, twelve feet from the trunk of the tree, and upon 
so small a limb that the eggs could not be obtained. The nest was com- 
posed of sticks, the outer ones about half an inch in diameter, the in- 
terior ones finer, and so loosely put together that the eggs could be plainly 
seen through the nest. There were four eggs, and another ready to be 
laid was taken from the parent bird. The number of nests found in this 
locality is not stated in the letter, but another nest is mentioned which 
was upon a tree about fifty feet distant." 

11. Porzana noveboracensiB, Cass. Yellow Bail. — Not very rare 
in the northern portion of the State, and without doubt breeds. 

12. Porzana jamaicensis, Cass. Black Bail. — A regular summer 
resident, and not very rare. During the spring of 1875 I saw three speci- 
mens in the Calumet Marsh ; and Mr. Frank De Witt of Chicago, while 
collecting with me near the Calumet Biver, June 19, 1875, was fortunate 
enough to find a nest of this species containing ten freshly laid eggs. 
The nest was situated in a deep cup-shaped depression, and in shape and 
situation resembled that of the Meadow Lark, except that the Bail's nest 
is much deeper in proportion to the diameter. The nest was more elab- 
orately made than the nest of any other of the genus I have seen. The 
outer portion is composed of grass-stems and blades, the inner portion 
of soft blades of grass arranged in a circular manner and loosely inter- 
woven. Owing to the small diameter of the nest there were two layers of 
eggs. The eggs are clear white, thinly sprinkled with reddish-brown 
dots, which become much more numerous about the large end. 



44 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

13. Harelda glacialis, Leach. Long-tailed Duck. — "Obtained by 
Professor Stein at Mt. Carmel, in December, 1874." Exceedingly abundant 
on Lake Michigan every winter. 

14. Graculus dilophus var. floridanus, Coues. Florida Cormo- 
rant. — "In the spring of 1874, several very fine specimens of the Florida 
Cormorant were obtained at Mt. Carmel by Mr. S. Turner and my brother, 
John L. Ridgway, and others were obtained during the succeeding sum- 
mer, the species being abundant along the river. This form is a summer 
resident, while the true G. dilophus occurs only in winter and during the 
migrations." 



NOTES ON THE BREEDING HABITS OF CLARKE'S CROW 
(PICICORVUS COLUMBIANUS), WITH AN ACCOUNT OF 
ITS NEST AND EGGS. 

BY CAPTAIN CHARLES BENDIRE, U. S. A. 

[The following account of the breeding habits, nests, and eggs of Clarke's 
Crow is based on observations made the present year in the vicinity of Camp 
Harney, Oregon, by Captain Bendire, and is compiled, with his permission, 
from his letters addressed to the writer. The only previous account of the 
nest and eggs of Clarke's Crow seems to be that given by Mr. J. K. Lord (in 
his " Naturalist in Vancouver "), who found this species nesting near Fort Col- 
ville, in Washington Territory, in the top of a high pine, two hundred feet 
from the ground. — J. A. Allen.] 

On April 22, 1876, I succeeded in finding two nests of Clarke's 
Crow. One contained three young, possibly four days old ; the 
other, one young bird and two eggs, one of the latter already 
cracked. The nests were placed in pine trees. On the 27th I 
again visited the mountains, and made thorough search near where 
the first nests were found, and discovered another in which the 
young could not have been more than one day old. One of the 
nests discovered on the first visit I brought away in excellent 
order. It was placed on the extremity of a branch, on a pine 
(Pinus ponderosa), about twenty-five feet from the ground, and well 
protected from view by longer branches projecting both above and 
below the nest. It is a bulky affair, like all the others I have 
seen, but looks quite small as viewed from below. The nest proper 
rested on a platform of small sticks of the white sage, placed on the 
pine branches, and is composed of dry grasses, vegetable fibres and 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 45 

the fine inner bark of Juniperus occidentalis. The whole mass is 
well woven together, and makes quite a warm, comfortable struc- 
ture. The outer diameter of the nest is eight and a half inches ; 
the inner, four and a half; depth inside, three and a quarter inches; 
outside, five inches. The two eggs measure respectively 1.22 by 
.95 inches, and 1.20 by .90. Ground color, light grayish-green, 
speckled and blotched with grayish, principally about the larger 
end. On the smaller egg the spots are finer and more evenly dis- 
tributed, a few of them being rather of a lavender color than gray. 
These eggs resemble in shape those of Maximilian's Jay (Gymnokitta 
cyanocephela), two of whose eggs I have from Mr. Aiken out of the 
nest found by him in Colorado. The markings on those, however, 
are darker and thicker than on those of Clarke's Crow, and the 
eggs are a little smaller. 

All the nests I have seen were placed in pine trees, well out on 
the limbs, and generally twenty to forty feet from the ground. 
Trees with plenty of branches seem to be preferred, and the edges 
of the pine timber to the interior of the forests. Now that I know 
where to look for these nests, I have no difficulty in finding them, 
and feel certain of getting a number of nests if I am here next 
year. I regret that I did not discover one a few weeks earlier. 

The female seems to be a very close sitter, and the birds seem 
very devoted to their young and eggs. "When the first nest was 
visited the bird would not leave it at all, and though the man 
pulled out part of its tail in taking it off, it came back again before 
he left the nest himself. On the second visit, in order to see how 
much disturbance these birds would bear when on the nest, I fired 
a charge of shot into the limb on which the nest was placed from 
which I took the two eggs, and about two feet from the nest, and 
no bird leaving I threw sticks at it and hit the base of the nest 
once or twice, but still no bird appeared. Then I had the man 
who was with me climb the tree, and only after he was within a 
foot of the nest and in plain sight of the bird did it fly off. The 
young one left in the nest had grown very much during the five 
days since the first visit. 



46 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 



DESCRIPTION OF A NEW DUCK FROM WASHINGTON 
ISLAND. 

BY THOMAS H. STREETS, M. D., PASSED ASSISTANT SURGEON, U. S. N. ' 

Chaulelasmus couesi. 

Bill nearly as long as the bead, about as deep as broad at tbe base, 
depressed anteriorly, sides nearly parallel but converging slightly toward 
the base, tip rounded, and unguis abruptly curved ; frontal angle short 
and obtuse ; dorsal line at first sloping, rather more so than in G. strepe- 
rus, anterior portion broad, straight, and flattened. Internal lamella? 
numerous, small, and closely packed, about seventy-five in number, — in 
streperus only about fifty. Nostrils sub-basal, lateral, large, and oblong. 

Plumage {immature). Head above dark brown, the feathers tipped 
with a lighter shade ; frontal feathers with the central portion black, and 
edged with brownish-white ; throat and sides of head brownish-white, 
shafts of the feathers brown, a small brown spot at the extremity of each ; 
lower portion of the neck and breast all around with the feathers marked 
with concentric bars of black and light reddish-brown ; under surface 
of the body white, each feather with a broad dark band near the extrem- 
ity, which gives to tbis region a mottled aspect ; toward the tail the 
white of the abdomen assumes a dull reddish -brown tinge ; the brownish- 
red color becomes more decided on the flanks and sides of the body where 
covered by the wings. On the back the plumage is more mature. Color 
dark brown marked transversely by fine wavy lines of black and Avhite ; 
scapulars dark brown and fringed with a narrow rim of reddish- 
brown. Middle wing-coverts chestnut ; greater, velvet black ; speculum 
pure white, the inner web of the white feathers grayish-brown ; in the 
third feather in the speculum, counting from within, the white gives 
place to a hoary gray with a black outer margin ; the primaries light 
brown, the portion of both webs nearest the shaft lighter ; shaft light 
brown. Tail containing fourteen feathers, hoary plumbeous-gray, under 
surface lighter and shining ; under tail-coverts crossed by transverse bars 
of black and white ; upper coverts composed of dark brown and black 
feathers mingled. Under wing-coverts and axillars pure white. Bill 
and feet black, somewhat lighter on the inner side of the tarsus. Tibia 
bare for about half an inch. Length, 17 inches ; wing, 8 ; tarsus, 1.40 ; 
commissure, 1.65 ; culmen, 1.45 ; height and breadth of bill at base, .55 ; 
average width of bill, .55. First toe, .30; second, 1.48, including claw, 
shorter than third toe without claw ; third toe, 1.88 without claw, longer 
than outer toe without claw ; outer toe, 1.75. 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 47 

A female is similar, but with little trace of the peculiar wing markings, 
both the chestnut and black being wanting, and the speculum being 
hoary gray instead of white. Both the specimens before me are imma- 
ture ; the adults, it is presumed, will show the peculiar vermiculated ap- 
pearance of C. streperus. They resemble [the immature condition of C. 
streperus so closely that one description of the coloration would answer for 
both species ; but the C. couesi is immediately distinguished by its greatly 
inferior size, which hardly exceeds that of a teal, the different color of the 
bill and feet, and the singular discrepancy in the lamellas of the bill, 
which are much smaller, and one-third more numerous. 

Habitat: Washington Island, one of the Fanning Group, situated about 
latitude 6° N. and longitude 160° W. 

I dedicate this new species to one of our most distinguished ornithol- 
ogists, Dr. Elliott Coues, U. S. A., as a slight testimonial of regard, and in 
consideration of the service which he has rendered to the science of 
ornithology. 



%ttt\xt literature. 

Descriptions of New Species of American Birds. — Mr. George 
N. Lawrence has recently described seten new species of birds from tropi- 
cal America. Two of these are Jays,* one of them (Cyanocitta pulchra) 
being from Ecuador and the other (Cyanocorax ortoni) from Northern Peru. 
The others t are two new species of Tanager of the genus Chlorosj>ingus (C. 
speculiferus and C. nigrifrons), respectively from Porto Eico and Ecuador, 
and three new species of Flycatcher {Serpophaga leucura, from Ecuador, 
Orchilus atricapillus, from Costa Rica, and Empidonax nanus, from St. Do- 
mingo). The descriptions of two of the species (Clilorospingus speculifera 
and Serpophaga leucura) are accompanied \>j colored figures. — J. A. A. 

Birds of Kansas. — Professor F. H. Snow has recently published a 
third edition of his " Catalogue of the Birds of Kansas," J giving an 
annotated list of 295 species. Twenty-three species and one variety have 
been added since the publication of the second edition in October, 1872 ; 
and it is believed a few others will still be added by further research. 
The list is very creditable to the zeal and energy of Professor Snow and 

* Description of a New Species of Jay of the Genus Cyanocitta; also of a sup- 
posed New Species of Cyanocorax. By George N. Lawrence. Annals of the 
Lye. of Nat. Hist. N. Y., Vol. XI, pp. 163-166. [Published Feb. 1876.] 

+ Descriptions of Five New Species of American Birds. By George N. Law- 
rence. Ibis, 3d Series, Vol. V, pp. 383-387, Plate IX, July, 1875. 

X A Catalogue of the Birds of Kansas. Contributed to the Kansas Academy 
of Science. 8vo. pp. 14. November, 1875. 



48 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

his fellow-workers, who have done so much to make known the avian 
fauna of Kansas. — J. A. A. 

Ornithology of Kerguelen Island. — In addition to the very in- 
teresting and valuable report on the birds of Kerguelen Island * published 
some months since, Dr. Kidder has recently, in conjunction with Dr. 
Coues, given an account of the Oology of the island,t including detailed 
descriptions and measurements of the eggs, together with an account of the 
breeding habits of all the species found breeding there. These are about 
twenty in number, and all but one are acpuatic. They include the hereto- 
fore little-known Chionis mi?ior, the recently described Querquedula eatoni, 
Graculus carunculatus, J three species of the Gull family (Laridce), eleven 
species of the Petrel family (Procellariidce), and four species of Penguins 
(Spheniscidre), the eggs of a considerable proportion of which had not 
been before described. 

With this paper is published, by the same authors, "A Study of CJiio- 
nis minor with reference to its • Structure and Systematic Position." § 
This essay opens with a resume of the literature of the species, beginning 
with the founding of the genus Chionis by Forster in 1788. Then fol- 
lows a description of its anatomy, including an account of its myology, of 
the viscera and the skeleton ; of its habits, general appearance in life, and 
external characters. In some features Chionis is found to have a considera- 
ble superficial, as well as osteological resemblance to the Gulls, and also to 
the Grctllce, with which latter group it has heretofore been usually asso- 
ciated ; but other features point to its association with either of these 
groups as unnatural. In summing its external characters, say these 
authors, "we see how exactly Chionis stands between grallatorial and 
natatorial birds, retaining slight but perfectly distinct traces of several 
other types of structure." Its digestive system is regarded as " decidedly 
rasorial in character," while its cranial and sternal characters show its 
strong alliance to the Gulls, with a less close relationship to the Plovers. 
On the whole, Chionis seems to be made up of distinctive characteristics 
amounting almost to anomalies, and in view of its remoteness from any 
other group, it is regarded by our authors as entitled to distinct super- 
family rank, standing between the Gulls and Plovers, but rather nearer to 

* Contributions to the Natural History of Kerguelen Island. By J. H. Kidder, 
M. D., Passed Assisant Surgeon U. S. Navy. I. Ornithology. Edited by Dr. 
Elliott Coues, U. S. A. Bulletin of the United States National Museum, No. 2. 
Washington: Government Printing-Office, 1875. 8vo. pp. 51. 

+ Contributions to the Natural History of Kerguelen Island. By J. H. Kid- 
der. II, pp. 6-20. Bull. U. S. Nat. Mus. No. 3. Washington [etc.], 1876. 

+ [Graculus verrucosus = Haliceus {Hypolucus) verrucosus, n. sp. Cab., Journ. 
f. Orn., Jahrg. XXIII, Oct. 1875, p. 450. —Elliott Coues.] 

§ Contributions to the Natural History of Kerguelen Island. By J. H. Kid- 
der. II, pp. 85-116. Bull. U. S. Nat. Mus. No. 3. Washington [etc.], 1876. 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 49 

the former. For this group the super-family name Chionomorphce is pro- 
posed. In view of some differences between Ononis alba and Chionis 
minor that are noted as of probably supra-specific value, the new generic 
title of Chionarchus is proposed for C. minor. — J. A. A. 

Extinct Birds with Teeth. — A few months since, Professor 0. C. 
Marsh of New Haven described* several species of extinct birds with 
teeth from the Cretaceous of Kansas. One of these (Ichthyornis olispar, 
Marsh) was an aquatic bird of about the size of a pigeon. Its jaws and 
teeth show it to have been carnivorous, and its powerful wings indicate 
that it was capable of prolonged flight. The teeth were numerous, small, 
compressed and pointed, set in distinct sockets, and their crowns were 
covered with nearly smooth enamel. A second species (Ajmtornis celer, 
Marsh) is of about the same size as the first named, but of more slender 
proportions. Another species (Hesperornis dispar, Marsh), one of the most 
interesting of the group with teeth yet found, was a gigantic diver. Its 
teeth had no true sockets, but were placed in grooves and supported on 
stout fangs. In form they somewhat resemble the teeth of the Mosasau- 
roid reptiles, and they had the same method of replacement. 

Professor Marsh has since described t two other species of the same 
group, both of gigantic size. One of these is named Hesperornis gracilis, 
and the other Lestornis crassipes, the latter representing a new genus as 
well as a new species. These interesting forms are regarded as represent- 
ing two distinct orders (Qdontotormce and Odontolcce) of the subclass Odon- 
tornithes (Aves dentata) or toothed birds, which combine in a peculiar 
manner many reptilian characters with others truly avian. — J. A. A. 

" Life-Histories of the Birds of Eastern Pennsylvania." J — 
Under this title Mr. T. G. Gentry has given the public a most welcome 
volume of biographies of the birds of Eastern North America. The work 
is based on the author's careful studies of the birds of Eastern Pennsyl- 
vania, and bears strongly the stamp of originality. The general habits 
and songs of the different species are faithfully described ; while the char- 
acter of their nests, the manner of building, periods of incubation, the age 
of the young on quitting the nest, etc., etc., are dwelt upon in detail ; the 
food of each is also carefully noted. The author's style is unostentatious 
and simple, at times lapsing into carelessness ; but the chief defect of the 
book is its unprepossessing typographical appearance, printer's blunders 
of every description abounding, while the paper and type are wholly un- 

* American Journ. Sci. and Arts, Nov. 1875, pp. 403-409, Plates IX, X, 
(reprinted in Amer. Nat., Vol. IX, pp. 625-631, Plates II, III). 

t Amer. Jour. Sci. and Arts., June, 1S76, pp. 509-511. 

£ Life-Histories of the Birds of Eastern Pennsylvania. By Thomas G. Gen- 
try, Member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and of the 
Canadian Entomological Society of Toronto. Tn two volumes. Vol. I : Phila- 
delphia. Published by the author, 1876. 12 mo., pp. xvi, 309. 



50 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

worthy of so valuable a work. These faults of mechanical execution can, 
however, be easily remedied in a future edition, which we sincerely hope 
the demand for the work will soon call for. The present volume includes 
the Song-Birds as far as the Corvidce of Dr. Coues's arrangement, and forms 
a work that no ornithologist can be without, while its popular character 
ought to insure it a wide range of readers. — J. A. A. 



(Bmcvxl footed. 

Breeding op the Canada Goose in Trees. — Dr. Coues, in his 
" Birds of the Northwest " (p. 554), alludes to the breeding of the Canada 
Goose (Branta canadensis) in trees in " various parts of the Upper Mis- 
souri and Yellowstone regions." He refers to the fact as being little known, 
and as not personally verified by himself, though perfectly satisfied of the 
reliability of the accounts furnished him by various persons, including 
Mr. J. Stevenson of Dr. Hayden's Survey. Dr. Coues further adds that 
he found the circumstance to be a matter of common information among 
the residents of Montana Territory. " The birds," he says, " are stated to 
build in the heavy timber along the larger streams, and to transport their 
young to the water in their bills." 

The fact of the breeding of the Canada Goose in trees is further con- 
firmed by Captain Charles Bendire, who reports its breeding in this man- 
ner near Camp Harney, under, however, rather peculiar circumstances. 
In a letter dated Camp Harney, Oregon, April 24, 1876, Captain Bendire 
writes as follows : " The season is very backward, and scarcely any of the 
small species of birds have commenced to build yet. The water is very 
high, and the whole lower Harney valley is flooded. The Western Can- 
ada Geese seem to have anticipated such a state of affairs, as last year I 
did not see a single nest of theirs off the ground, while this spring all of 
them, as far as I have observed personally or have heard of through others, 
are built in trees off the ground, mostly in willows. Some make use of 
Herons' nests, and one of a Baven's nest, the only Raven's nest I found 
last year in a tree." Apropos of this change of habit with circumstances, 
Captain Bendire asks the pertinent question, " Is it instinct or reason V — 
J. A. Allen. 

Tarsal Envelope in Campylorhynchus and allied Genera.— 
Impressed with certain differences observable between typical Wrens and 
the three Western genera, Camrpijlorhynchus, Salpinctes, and Catherpes, gen- 
erally assigned to the Troglodytida, I have been led to look into the tech- 
nical aspects of the case, with the result of becoming dissatisfied with the 
alleged position of these forms among the Wrens. In establishing the 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 51 

genus Catherpes as distinct from Salpinctes, Professor Baird noted certain 
discrepancies in the structure of the feet ; and in 1864 (Review, p. 109) ; 
he enlarges upon the remarkable structure of the tarsus oi Salpinctes, -which 
he characterizes as " especially peculiar among all its cognate genera by 
having the usual two continuous plates along the posterior half of the 
inner and outer fa^es of the tarsus divided transversely into seven or more 
smaller plates, with a naked interval between them and the anterior scu- 
telloe." This is certainly a remarkable feature for a presumed thoroughly 
Oscine bird to exhibit, since it is highly characteristic of Oscines to have 
the postero-lateral tarsal plates continuous, meeting in a sharp ridge be- 
hind. I verify the state of the case in Salpinctes as given by Professor 
Baird, but I find, to my surprise, that in Campylorhynchus the lateral 
plates, but especially the outer one, are broken up into a series of conspic- 
uous scutella ; and that Catherpes shows a tendency, not so fully expressed, 
to similar division of the tarsal envelope. If this structure really possesses 
the significance attributed to it by many of the best writers, the question 
whether these birds are Wrens at all is reopened. That they possess de- 
cidedly Wren-like habits is no strong argument, for nothing is more falla- 
cious than such teleological bending of diverse structures to similar ends. 
It will be remembered that Lafresnaye, and other writers of repute, have 
placed species of Campylorhynchus in the genus Picolaptes, which is a 
member of the large family DendrocolaptidcB ; some of these birds have 
rigid acuminate Certhia-like tail-feathers, and Creeper-like habits ; in oth- 
ers, however, the tail is soft, and among them is witnessed the' greatest 
diversity of habits. On comparing our Campylorhynchus with a typical 
Dendrocolaptine (Dendrornis erythropygia), I find that the bills of the two 
are extremely similar, and that the tarsal envelope of Dendrornis is broken 
up posteriorly into a number of plates, of which those on the inner aspect 
are continuous with those in front, while the postero-exterior ones are a 
series of rounded and isolated scales. Again, in the case of Salpinctes, it 
will be recollected that Bonaparte placed it in the genus Myiothera, and 
considered it an Ant-thrush {Formicariida>). On examining the tarsus of 
a species of Thamnophilus, a typical Formicarian, I find that the plates are 
divided behind, and the general structure is substantially the same as in 
Salpinctes. The case of Catherpes is less clear, but it would doubtless go 
with Salpinctes. These points may not suffice for the summary dismissal 
of the genera under consideration from the Troglodytida', but they go to 
show that their position in that family is not assured. — Elliott Coues. 

Occurrence of the Curlew Sandpiper in Massachusetts. — Mr. 
Charles I. Goodale, our accomplished Boston taxidermist, has a fine 
Curlew Sandpiper (Tringa subarquata) which was sent to him to be 
mounted. It was shot in East Boston, Mass., early in May, 1876, as it 
was feeding on a sandspit among a flock of " Peeps." This bird is in 
very perfect spring plumage, and furnishes the second authentic instance 



52 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL CLUB. 

of the occurrence of this species in New England. In its claims to be 
regarded as a bird of North America it may best be compared with the 
Ruff {Machetes pugnax). Both are probably not infrecpaent stragglers to 
our continent. — William Brewster. 

The Ipswich Sparrow in New Brunswick. — On April 11, 1876, 
while collecting at Point Lepreaux, N. B., in company with Mr. William 
Stone, we secured a fine female of the Ipswich Sparrow (Passerculus prin- 
ceps, Maynard). It was sitting on a rock on the extreme end of the Point 
when first seen, and was very easily secured. The yellow over the eye in 
this specimen is more intense than in any other I have ever examined, 
and cpiite equals in this respect the average coloring of the same area in 
P. savanna. This is the third spring specimen that has been thus far re- 
ported. The first, a male, was taken by Mr. Maynard at Ipswich, April 
1, 1874 ; and the second by Mr. Willey of Portland, at Cape Elizabeth, 
Maine, March 15, 1875. The former is now in my possession, and the 
latter graces the collection of Mr. N. C. Brown of Portland. — William 
Brewster. 

Passerculus princeps and Parus hudsonicus in Connecticut. — 
On November 4, 1875, while collecting along the beach at " South End," 
a few miles below New Haven, I was fortunate enough to secure a fine 
specimen of the Ipswich Sparrow (Passerculus princeps, Maynard). The 
specimen was a female, and in excellent condition. Its mate was seen, 
but escaped capture. 

On November 13, 1875, Mr. Robert Morris, while shooting in a wooded 
ravine a few miles from town, killed a female Hudsonian Titmouse (Parus 
hudsonicus). The specimen is now in the collection of Mr. Thomas Osborn 
of this city. It is, I think, the first occurrence of this species south of 
Concord, Mass. — C. Hart Merriam, New Haven, Conn. 

Anser Rossii in Oregon. — Captain Charles Bendire, U. S. A., in a 
recent letter to the writer, announces the capture by him of a female of 
this rare species at Camp Harney, Oregon, " the first and only one," he 
says, "I have seen killed about here." He states in a later letter that 
the specimen was shot from a flock of twelve to fifteen individuals, and 
adds that several parties have since told him that they had killed such 
small geese before, but supposed them to be the young of the Snow Goose 
(Anser hyperboreus). Captain Bendire, however, believes them to be very 
rare at that locality, and has never seen any brought in by the numerous 
hunting parties from the Post. He gives the length of the specimen taken 
as twenty-two inches, with the body not larger than a Mallard's. The 
only other United States record for this species that I have seen is Cali- 
fornia (Coues). — J. A. Allen. 



BULLETIN 

OF THE 

NUTTALL ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 

Vol. I. SEPTEMBER, 1876. No. 3. 

DECREASE OF BIRDS IN MASSACHUSETTS. 

BY J. A. ALLEN. 

Unfortunately very few data are obtainable relative to the 
birds which inhabited Massachusetts at the time of its first ex- 
ploration and settlement, nearly three hundred years ago. The 
smaller species attracted little attention here, as elsewhere in North 
America, prior to the beginning of the present century. A few 
notices of the larger species occur in the early accounts of the pro- 
ductions and "commodities" of the State, which are sufficiently defi- 
nite and trustworthy to show that a few species then common have 
since been nearly or wholly extirpated, and that a number of others 
are far less numerous now than they were in the early colonial days. 

The number of indigenous species thus far recognized as belong- 
ing to the fauna of the State is about three hundred and ten. Two 
of these (the Great Auk, Alca impennis, and the Wild Turkey, Melea- 
gris gallopavo var. occidentalis) have become wholly extirpated, and 
two others (the Pinnated Grouse, Cupidonia cupido, and the Ameri- 
can Swan, Cygnus americanus) are so nearly that the former is 
found at only one or two limited localities and the latter is but a 
chance visitor. Another (the Brown or Sandhill Crane, Grits cana- 
densis), and perhaps a second (the White or Whooping Crane, Grus 
americanus), will be presently shown to have been formerly inhab- 
itants of the State, though extirpated at so early a date that they 
have not as yet been recognized as belonging to its fauna. That 
several others have likewise greatly decreased in numbers will be 
shown in the present article. These are the Red-winged Blackbird 
(Agelams phceniceus), the Purple Grakle (Quiscalus purpureus), the 
Crow (Corvus americanus), the Raven (Corvus corax), the Pileated 



54 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

Woodpecker (Hylotomus pileatus), the Red-headed Woodpecker 
{Melanerpes eryihroceplialus), the Wild Pigeon (Ectopistes migrato- 
rius), and the Snow Goose (Anser hyperboreus). Besides these 
might be added, as among those which have also notably decreased, 
most of the wading and swimming birds, and neai'ly all of the rapa- 
cious species. Nt>ne of the Ducks and Geese, and probably few of 
the limicoline species, are probably one tenth as numerous now as 
they were two hundred and fifty years ago, while a great depletion 
has also occurred amongst the Gulls and Terns. This great dimi- 
nution, however, is not of course limited to the State of Massachu- 
setts, but likewise characterizes most of the Atlantic States, and 
some of the older States of the interior. 

This reduction has been mainly brought about by what may be 
considered as inevitable and natural causes, as the i*emoval of the 
forests, and other changes necessarily attending the agricultural 
development of the country. Excessive use of the gun, however, 
has had not a little to do with it. The rapacious species have ever 
been regarded as the natural enemies of the husbandman, and with 
them all species that have in any way preyed upon his crops. 

In early times premiums were paid by the local governments for 
the destruction of many of these species, and not without cause. 
The early records show that such was the abundance of the Black- 
birds and Crows that their destruction in large numbers was abso- 
lutely necessary, in order to secure more than a small portion of the 
maize harvest. While most, or at least many, of the towns early 
encouraged the destruction of the noxious mammals and birds by 
the offer of rewards therefor, others passed enactments rendering it 
obligatory upon each householder to destroy a certain number of 
blackbirds annually, and to bring their heads to the selectmen of 
the towns to show they had complied with the requisition, on pen- 
alty of a small fine for each blackbird lacking to complete the re- 
quired number.* These means seem to have been immediate, and 
in some cases disastrous, in their results. The traveller, Kalm, 
relates that Dr. Franklin told him, in 1750, that in consequence of 
the premiums that had been paid for killing these birds in New 
England, they had become so nearly extirpated there that they 
were " very rarely seen, and in few places only." In consequence of 
this exterminating warfare on the " maize-thieves," the worms that 

* See Alonzo Lewis's History of Lynn, p. 186. 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 55 

preyed upon the grass increased so rapidly that in the summer of 
1749 the hay crop was almost wholly cut off by them, the planters 
being obliged to bring hay from Pennsylvania, and even from 
England, to Massachusetts, to meet the deficiency caused by the 
worms.* 

In scores of the early enumerations of the birds of New England, 
and of the Atlantic States generally, the Raven, as well as the 
Crow, is mentioned. This seems to imply that the Raven, at the 
time of the first settlement of the country, was more or less com- 
mon from Virginia to Maine, and that persecution, combined with 
its natural timidity, has caused its expulsion from the more thickly 
settled parts of the Eastern States. 

That the Pileated Woodpecker (Hi/lotomus pileatus) was once a 
common inhabitant of all the primitive forests of this State seems 
to be unquestionable, though absolute proof of the fact may not be 
available. It still occurs in abundance throughout the older States, 
wherever the forests remain comparatively undisturbed, while it is 
well known to quickly retire where its haunts are invaded by the 
destroying axe of the woodsman. It is also a matter of record that 
the Red-headed Woodpecker has nearly disappeared, almost within 
the present generation, from all the region east of the Hudson 
River, where it was formerly as common, apparently, as it is now 
in any of the Middle or Western States. In this case, however, the 
disappearance is without an evident cause. The deforestation of the 
State has undoubtedly produced a vast decrease among the other 
species of the Picida?, as well as generally among all the strictly 
forest birds, through the great restriction of their natural haunts. 

The Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo var. occidentalis), though 
once a common inhabitant of New England from the more southerly 
parts of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, southward, long 
since ceased to exist here in a wild state. Its former abundance in 
Massachusetts is well attested. I will give here, however, only a 
single reference indicative of the former great number of these 
birds in the eastern part of the State. Thomas Morton, who re- 
sided here "many years" prior to 1637, says : "Turkies there are, 
which divers times in great flocks have sallied by our doores ; and 
then a gunne (being commonly in a redinesse,) salutes them with 
such a courtesie, as makes them take a turne in the Cooke roome. 

* Kaliu's Travels, Forster's translation, Vol. II, p. 78. 



56 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

They daunce by the doore so well .... I had a Salvage who hath 
taken out his boy in a morning, and they have brought home their 
loades about noone. I have asked them what number they found 
in the woods, who have answered Neent Metawna, which is a tho- 
sand that day ; the plenty of them is such in those parts. They 
are easily killed at rooste, because the one being killed, the other 
sit fast neverthelesse, and this is no bad commodity." * According 
to John Josselyn, they began early to decline. This author, writ- 
ing in 1672, says: "I have also seen three score broods of young 
Turkies on the side of a Marsh, sunning of themselves in a morning 
betimes, but this was thirty years since, the English and the In- 
dians having now destroyed the breed, so that 't is very rare to 
meet with a wild Turkie in the Woods ; but some of the English 
bring up great store of the wild kind, which remain about their 
Houses as tame as ours in England-." t This would seem to indi- 
cate that the Wild Turkey was often domesticated in Massachusetts, 
and renders it probable that our domestic stock was by no means 
wholly derived,* as is commonly supposed, from Mexico. Besides 
Josselyn's statement of their domestication in New England, I have 
met with other statements to the same effect, and can cite numer- 
ous instances of its domestication in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and 
Virginia early in the seventeenth century. J 

Under the name of " Pheasants," Morton and others make un- 
questionable reference to the Pinnated Grouse (Ciqndonia cupido), 
showing that it was once a common denizen of this State. A few 
pairs are still known to exist on the islands of Naushon and Mar- 
tha's Vineyard, where they have of late been stringently protected 
by law. 

The Wild Pigeon (Ectopistes migratoria), though by no means 
yet extirpated from the State, has greatly decreased here in num- 
bers during the present generation, and has not been seen within 
the present century in nearly so great abundance as in earlier 
times. Space will allow of reference to but few of the many ac- 
counts of its former almost incredible numbers. Morton refers to 
the presence of " Millions of Turtle doves on the greene boughes ; 
which sate pecking of the ripe pleasant grapes, that were supported 

* New English Canaan, pp. 69, 70. 
+ New Englands Rarities, p. 9. 

+ On the domesticability of the Wild Turkey of the United States, see Bull. 
Mus. Comp. ZpoL, Vol. II, pp. 343-352. 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 57 

by the lusty trees";* and Josselyn speaks of "the Pidgeon, of 
which there are millions of millions. I have seen a flight of 
Pidgeons in the spring, and at Michaelmas when they return back 
Southward for four or five miles, that to my thinking had neither 
beginning nor ending, length nor breadth, and so thick that I could 
see no Sun, they join Nest to Nest, and Tree to Tree by their 
Nests many miles together in Pine-Trees. But of late they are 
much diminished, the English taking them in Nets."t Their 
abundance on the Vermont border, in 1741, is thus described by 
Williams : " The surveyor, Richard Hazen, who ran the line which 
divides Massachusetts from Vermont, in 1741, gave this account 
of the appearances he met with to the westward of the Connecti- 
cut River. ' For three miles together the Pigeons' nests were so 
thick that five hundred might have been told on the beech trees at 
one time ; and could they have been counted on the hemlocks, as 
well, I doubt not but five thousand at one turn round.' The re- 
marks of the first settlers of Vermont," continues Williams, " fully 
confirm this account. The following relation was given me, by one 
of the earliest settlers of Clarendon [situated about fifty miles 
north of the Massachusetts line] : ' The number of Pigeons was 
immense. Twenty-five nests were frequently to be found on one 
beech tree. The earth was covered with these trees, and with 
hemlocks thus loaded with the nests of Pigeons. For an hundred 
acres together, the ground was covered with their dung, to the 
depth of two inches. Their noise in the evening was extremely 
troublesome, and so great that the traveller could not get any sleep 
where their nests were thick. About an hour after sunrise, they 
rose in such numbers as to darken the air. When the young 
Pigeons were grown to a considerable bigness, before they could 
readily fly, it was common for the settlers to cut down the trees, 
and gather a horse load in a few minutes.' The settlement of the 
country has since set bounds to this luxuriance of animal life," 
and these birds have been driven to other districts.}. The early 
history of the country shows that down to about the year 1800 
this bird was found in similar abundance, at times at least, all 
along the Atlantic coast from Virginia to Maine, since which time 
it has greatly decreased throughout this whole region. 

* New English Canaan, p. 60. 

+ Voyages to New England, p. 99. 

£ Natural and Civil History of Vermont, p. 114. 



58 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

In all the early notices of the natural productions of New 
England, the Crane is mentioned among the few birds usually 
enumerated. Emmons gives the Whooping Crane (Grits america- 
1111s) in his list of the birds of Massachusetts, but subsequent 
writers have genei'ally believed without due authority, and of late 
it has been wholly lost sight of as a bird of the State. That 
some species of Crane, and in all probability both species, was 
common in New England in early times, is beyond question. Both 
the Sandhill and the Whooping Cranes have still a wide range in 
the interior, passing northwai'd in summer far beyond New Eng- 
land. Neither species has of late been met with north of New 
Jersej', where the Whooping Crane occurs only as a rare casual 
visitor. Morton wrote, of " Cranes, there are greate store, that ever 
more came there at S. Davids day, and not before ; that day they 
never would misse. These doe sometimes eate our corne, and do 
pay for their presumption well enough ; and serveth there in pow- 
ther, with turnips to supply the place of powthered beefe, and is 
a goodly bird in a dish, and no discommodity."* This shows that 
the Crane, and not a Heron, is the bird to which reference is made. 

The Swan ( Cyf/mts americanus) is in a similar way enumerated 
by different early writers as formerly a common bird of Massachu- 
setts, though of late years it appears only in our lists of casual 
visitors. Morton, more explicit than most writers of his time who 
refer to it, says, in beginning his account of the birds : " And first 
the Swanne, because shee is the biggest of all the fowles of that 
Country. There are of them in Merrimack River, and in other 
parts of the country, greate store at the seasons of the yeare. The 
flesh is not much desired of by the inhabitants, but the skinnes 
may be accompted a commodity, fitt for divers uses, both for 
fethers, and quiles."t 

The Great Auk (Alca impennis) has recently been added to the 
list of the birds of the State, on account of the occurrence of its 
bones in the Indian shell-heaps at Ipswich. There is little reason 
to doubt, however, that the bird called " Pengwin," or " Penguin," 
mentioned as found from Cape Cod northward at the time Euro- 
peans first visited this coast, really refers to the Great Auk. It 
figures in all the early enumerations of the birds of New England 



* New English Canaan, p. 69. 
t lb., p. 67. 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 59 

and Newfoundland, while it does not appear in any of the lists 
referring to the region south of Massachusetts. Captain Bartholo- 
mew Gosnold, in 1602, found " Pengwins " on the Massachusetts 
coast at what he calls "Gilbert's Point," in latitude 41° 40'. He 
says : " The twentieth, by the ships side we there killed Pengwins 
and saw many sculls of fish." * The locality, as shown by the 
context, was between the southeastern point of Cape Cod and 
Nantucket Island, probably a few miles south of Egg Island. What 
the bird called " Pengwin " was, that was so often referred to by 
the early explorers of the New England coast, is clearly evident 
from the following : Richard Whitbourne, in his account of his 
voyage to Newfoundland, in 1618, says, "These Penguins are as 
bigge as Geese, and flie not, for they have but little short wings, 
& they multiply so infinitely, upon a certaine flat Island [Sable 
Island], that men drive them from thence upon a boord into their 
Boates by hundreds at a time ; as if God had made the innocencie 
of so poore a creature to become such an admirable instrument for 
the sustentation of man."+ The same bird is also referred to by 
Josselyn as the " Wobble." He says : " The Wobble, an ill shaped 
Fowl, having no long Feathers in their Pinions, which is the reason 
they cannot fly, not much unlike the Pengwin ; they are in the 
Spring very fat, or rather oyly, but pull'd and garbidgd, and laid 
to the Fire to roast, they yield not one drop." % 

This bird, so valuable as a "commodity," and whose "innocencie" 
rendered its capture so easy, doubtless did not long survive on the 
coast of New England after the establishment here of permanent 
settlements. 

Much might be added, did space allow, respecting the former 
abundance of Ducks, Geese, Sandpipers, and Plovers. A few ex- 
tracts on this point from Morton, in his own quaint language, must 
here suffice. " There are Geese," he says, " of three sorts vize 
brant Geese, which are pide, and white Geese which are bigger, and 
gray Geese which are as bigg and bigger, then the tame Geese 
of England, with black legges, black bills, heads, and necks black ; 
the flesh farre more excellent, then the Geese of England, wilde or 

tame There is of them great abundance. I have had often 

1000 before the mouth of my gunne .... the fethers of the 

* Purchas's Pilgrims, Vol. IV, p. 1648. 
' t lb., Vol. IV, p. 1886. 

X New Englands Rarities, p. 11. 



60 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

Geese that I have killed in a short time, have paid for all the 
powther and shott, I have spent in a yeare, and I have fed my doggs 
with as fatt Geese there, as I have ever fed upon my selfe in Eng- 
land. 

" Ducks, there are of three kinds, pide Ducks, gray Ducks, and 
black Ducks in greate abundance : the most about my habitation 
were black Ducks : and it was a noted Custome at my howse, to 
have every mans Duck upon a trencher, and then you will thinke 

a man was not hardly used Teales, there are of two sorts 

greene winged, and blew winged I had plenty in the rivers 

and ponds about my howse. Widggens there are, and abundance 

of other water foule Sanderlings are a dainty bird, more 

full bodied than a Snipe, and I was much delighted to feede on 
them, because they were fatt, and easie to come by, because I went 
but a stepp or to for them : and I have killed betweene foure and 
five dozen at a shoot which would loade me home."* Josselyn 
says of " Sanderlins," he has known " twelve score and above kill'd 
at two shots." The contrast in respect to the abundance of water- 
fowl in those early times and now is too apparent to require com- 
ment. 

The White Pelican (Pelecanus trachyrhynchus) is mentioned as a 
former inhabitant of New Hampshire and other parts of New Eng- 
land, and was doubtless in early times more or less common in 
Massachusetts, where its presence is now regarded as merely acci- 
dental ; but two or three recent instances of it here are on record. 



ON THE NUMBER OF PRIMARIES IN OSCINES. 

BY DR. ELLIOTT COUES, U. S. A. 

The number of primaries among oscine birds, whether " nine " or 
" ten," has been rightly considered an important item in classifica- 
tion, ranking in value with the modifications of the tarsal envelope. 
Oscine families, and even groups of families, are conveniently dis- 
tinguished by this character, and as naturally as by the " booting," 
or scutellation, of the tarsus. In certain families, however, the 

* New English Canaan, pp. 67 - 69. 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 61 

distinction fails to hold. In the Vireonidce, for instance, species of 
the same gemis have indifferently " nine " or " ten " primaries. 
Thus, Vireo philadelphicus and V. gilvus are two species so much 
alike that presence or absence of a spurious "first" primary be- 
comes the readiest means of distinguishing them. Noting this 
remarkable circumstance in 1865, Professor Baird was led to look 
more closely into the matter. His results are summed on page 325 
of the "Review of American Birds" (see also p. 160); from which 
it appears that in those Vireos which seem to have only nine prima- 
ries, two little feathers, distinct in size, shape, and to some extent in 
position from the general series of primary coverts, are found at the 
base of the supposed first primary ; while in those Vireos with an ob- 
vious spurious first primary, making ten in all, only one such feather 
is found. " In all the families of Passeres where the existence of 
nine primaries is supposed to be characteristic," he continues, " I 
have invariably found, as far as my examinations have extended, 
that there were two of the small feathers referred to, while in those 
of ten primaries but one could be detected." He does not specify 
how far his examinations extended. 

Believing this to be an important matter, which would bear fur- 
ther investigation, I have been led to look into the question, with 
the most satisfactory results, confirming Professor Baird' s observa- 
tions, and extending them to include every one of the North Ameri- 
can families of Oscines, excepting, perhaps, Laniidce (in Collurio) and 
Ampelidce (in Ampelis). With the possible exception of the two 
genera specified, I find, on examining numerous genera of all the 
North American families, that those rated as 10-primaried have but 
one of these little feathers, while all the rest have two. 

The Alaudidce, like the Vireonidce, show a variability of the 
primaries. In our genus Eremophila, in which only nine primaries 
are developed, there are two of the small feathers above mentioned. 
The overlying one is exactly like one of the primary coverts ; the 
other, though not very dissimilar, more resembles an abortive 
primary. In Alauda arvensis, where there is a minute but obvious 
spurious quill, there is but one such feather. In Galerita cristata, 
with a spurious quill about two thirds of an inch long, there is like- 
wise but one. 

In clamatorial Passeres, perhaps without exception, there are ten 
fully developed primaries, the first of which may equal or exceed the 
next in length. In the single North American clamatorial family 



62 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

Tyrannidce, I find, as before, only one of these little feathers. In 
a Woodpecker, remarkable among picarian birds in possessing only 
nine fully developed primaries, the first being short or spurious, 
there is also but one. 

It see,ms to be conclusively proven that among the supposed 
9-primaried birds, the additional primary, making ten in all, is usu- 
ally, if not always, found in the second of these little quills which 
overlie the first fully developed primary ; and that it is this same 
little quill which, in 10-primaried Oscines, in Clamatores, and proba- 
bly in other birds, comes to the front and constitutes the first regular 
primary, — sometimes remaining very short, when it is the so-called 
"spurious" quill, in other cases lengthening by imperceptible de- 
grees, until it may become the longest one of all. The true nature 
of the other one of these two little feathers becomes an interest- 
ing question. Is it also an abortive primary, as the outer certainly 
is, or is it one of a series of coverts 1 

After close examination, I fail to detect any material difference in 
the position of the two ; one overlies the other, indeed, as a covert 
should a primary, but then the two are inserted side by side, both 
upon the upper side of the sheath of the first fully developed quill. 
In size and shape, the two are substantially the same ;' both being 
rigid and acuminate, more like remiges than like coverts, and both 
being abruptly shorter than the true primary coverts. J So far, all the 
evidence favors an hypothesis that both are rudimentary remiges. 
To offset this, color usually points the other way, as in the original 
case of Vireo flavifrons, in which Professor Baird determined the 
underlying one of the two feathers to be a supposed wanting pri- 
mary mainly because it was colored like the other primaries, while 
the overlying one agreed with the coverts in this respect. But it 
will be obvious that when, as is oftenest the case, the primaries and 
their coverts are colored alike, the evidence from this source fails 
altogether ; and I find that the testimony from coloration is some- 
times the other way. In Sitta carolinensis, for example, a 10-prima- 
ried bird with spurious first primary, the single remaining little 
feather is white at base across both webs, like the primaries, the 
true primary coverts being white only on the inner web. It is true 
that the overlying one of these little feathers sometimes exactly 
resembles a true covert ; but so, also, does the other one in some 
cases. In morphological determinations, position and relation of 
parts are all-important, while mere size, shape, and especially func- 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 63 

tion, go for very little. One of the two little feathers of 9-primaried" 
birds, as we have seen, certainly corresponds to the spurious or fully 
developed fh*st primary of 10-primaried ; why may not the other be 
also a primary 1 ? It is not conclusive argument to the contrary 
that the feather in question is never fully developed ; nor is it an 
insuperable objection that the function of the feather is certainly 
that of a covert. The strongest argument against the view here 
very guardedly discussed is, that if the feather be not a covert, 
then the first fully developed primary has none, while the rest 
have one apiece. While I am far from committing myself to the 
implied proposition that an oscine bird possesses eleven primaries, 
I think it proper to bring the case forward as one which will bear 
looking into, and which will probably remain open until the exact 
relations between a remex and a tectrix are ascertained. Should it 
be determined that an Oscine may show traces of two suppressed pri- 
maries, instead of only the single one which certainly persists in 
10-primaried birds, the fact would tend to increase the value already 
justly set upon number of remiges as a taxonomic factor. It is 
generally admitted, and it seems to be unquestionable, that hei'e, as 
in numberless other cases, reduction in number and specialization 
in function of parts indicates a higher grade of organization ; for 
only the lower birds show the higher aggregate number of remiges, 
and in none but the higher are the developed primaries ever reduced 
to nine. A gradual reduction in the number of remiges seems to 
be directly correlated with that progressive consolidation or com- 
paction of the distal osseous segments of the fore limb which reaches 
its climax in the wing of the most highly organized birds of the 
present epoch. 



THE YELLOW-BELLIED WOODPECKER (SPHYRAPICUS 
VARIUS). 

BY WILLIAM BREWSTER. 

The Mexicans call the Woodpeckers " Carpenteros," and most ap- 
propriately, for the chisel-shaped bill not only serves the bird in 
procuring its daily food, but is also the sole agent employed in 
digging the wonderful cavities in which the eggs are laid and the 
young reared. It is probable that, putting aside the universal ene- 



64 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

my, man, the eggs and young of this family enjoy a more complete 
immunity from danger than those of any other. The cunning crow 
and noisy jay, both ever on the alert for a frolic after bird's eggs, 
are here balked ; while rain cannot enter, and the mink, weazel, and 
other noxious animals find their keen noses of little avail. Snakes 
may, and doubtless do sometimes enter the holes of the larger species, 
but even they probably bestow more of their attentions on ground 
and bush building birds. All the endless little artistic contrivances 
for concealment so artfully employed by other birds in the construc- 
tion of their nests are here needless, and consequently ignored. In 
view of the manifest advantages attendant upon this mode of nidifi- 
cation, it is a matter of no little surprise that Woodpeckers are not 
more numerous, especially when it is taken into consideration that 
the habit of roosting in holes at all seasons of the year must protect 
the adults, as well as young, from many nocturnal dangers. Lack 
of suitable opportunities for nesting, or obtaining food, may doubtless 
be taken as explanatory of the comparative fewness of these birds in 
the older settled sections. In fact, the wilderness is the true home 
of the Woodpeckers, and in all primitive forest regions they abound. 
There Nature reigns supreme, and in defiance of artificial laws and 
cultivated ideas of sylvan beauty, allows her woods to fill with the 
decaying forms of her dead subjects, — huge moss-clad trunks, pic- 
turesque in shape, and by their grim, gaunt aspect adding wildness 
to an already picturesque scene. In such congenial haunts these 
birds find all their wants supplied, food being plenty and easily ob- 
tained, and the selection of a nesting site a matter of no difficulty. 
Taking the seven commoner New England species, four — Hylotomus 
pileatus, Sphyrapims varius, and the two species of Picoides — will 
be found almost exclusively in the forest ; while of the remaining 
three, the two species of Piciis are decidedly more partial to the 
woods than the cultivated districts. Colaptes alone seems to have 
no preferences, and is no more abundaut in the Northern forests 
than on treeless Nantucket, in which latter place it makes the best 
of circumstances and drills its holes in gate-posts and ice-houses. 

Throughout the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and in 
most sections of Northern Maine, the Yellow-bellied Woodpeckers 
outnumber all the other species in the summer season. They ar- 
rive from the South, where they spend the winter, from the middle 
to the last of April, and, pairing being soon effected, commence at 
once the excavation of their nests. The trees usually selected are 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 65 

large dead birches, and a decided preference is manifested for the 
vicinity of water, though some nests occur on high ground in the 
interior of the woods, but never so abundantly there as along the 
margin of rivers and lakes. Both sexes work alternately, relieving 
each other at frequent intervals, the bird not employed usually 
clinging near the hole and encouraging its toiling mate by an occa- 
sional low cry. With the deepening of the hole arises the necessity 
for increased labor, as the rapidly accumulating debris must be 
removed, and the bird now appears at frequent intervals at the 
entrance, and, dropping its mouthful of chips, returns to its work. 
A week or more is occupied in the completion of the nest, the time 
varying considerably with the relative hardness of the wood. A 
small quantity of the finer chips are left at the bottom to serve as 
a bed for the eggs. The birds now take a vacation, roaming through 
the woods together in search of food, though frequently one or the 
other remains near the nesting-place to guard the premises. The 
female commences laying about the 20th of May, in ordinary sea- 
sons, and deposits from five to seven eggs. The labor of incuba- 
tion, like all other duties, is shared equally by the two sexes. A 
short sketch, founded upon an extract from the writer's journal of a 
day's experience on Umbagog Lake, Maine, may perhaps give the 
reader a better insight into the nidification of these birds than 
would a more formal style of description, and it is hoped will con- 
vey a sufficiently intelligible idea of the surroundings. 

"Disembarking from the steamer near the head of the lake, the 
dense fog, which had all the morning prevailed, began to break, riven 
asunder by a slight breeze that had arisen, and drifting off in heavy 
masses, dissolved under the influence of the sun, disappearing, no 
one knows whither, as the ice had disappeared from these same 
waters earlier in the spring. And now a dozen lovely views burst 
into sight. Towering mountain-summits, strips of heavily wooded 
shore, long stretches of bright blue water rippling merrily under 
the influence of the rising breeze, — all these appearing and disap- 
pearing through rents and vistas of floating vapor, went to make up 
a constantly shifting panorama of exceeding loveliness. But nearly 
all of Nature's best effects are transient, and, the change from 
gloomy cloudiness to the bright, clear aspect of a June morning 
being soon effected, we found ourselves floating near the middle of 
a broad sheet of water, some four miles long by two in breadth, 
known in local parlance as the 'arm of the lake.' This fine ex- 



66 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

panse, irregularly oblong in shape, resembles, as do most of the" 
Maine lakes, a gigantic amphitheatre walled in on every side by 
distant mountains, which slope gradually from their base to the 
water's edge, while the unbroken forest which everywhere clothes 
the surface of the country extends down to the very shore, look- 
ing in the distance like a carpet of variegated green, the lighter 
colors of the foliage of the hard-wood trees contrasting beautifully 
with the sombre darkness of the spruce and fir. Not a single clear- 
ing or other sign of man's interference occurs in any direction to 
mar the perfect setting of this forest gem. Even the little steamer, 
just disappearing behind a distant point, looks as if born to the 
surroundings, and it requires no great stretch of the imagination to 
fancy her a gigantic water-fowl ready to dive beneath the surface, 
like the loon that has just risen in her wake. But these and simi- 
lar reflections were somewhat abruptly broken by the guide, who, 
having completed the arrangement of the luggage in the boat, com- 
menced paddling vigorously towards the western shore, where was 
to be the scene of our labors. 

" At this place the Androscoggin River leaves the lake, and its 
banks being somewhat low at the point of debouchure, the level 
country adjacent for a half-mile or more back is periodically over- 
flowed. The water, kept at a high point by dams on the river 
below, flows back into the forest, and the trees, killed in former 
years by similar inundations, stand in grim array like an army of 
stricken giants. That such a perfect paradise for the Woodpeckers 
had not been neglected was speedily manifest as we entered this 
place, where several species of varying size, from the great Hyloto- 
mus pileatus down to the trim little Downy, were soon observed. 
Most abundant of all, however, was the handsome Sphyrapicus varius, 
several individuals being almost constantly in sight. Commencing 
our search for nests, we soon found ourselves confused by the very 
abundance of opportunities, for not only was every tree dead and 
rotten, but nearly every one was perforated by a greater or less 
number of Woodpecker's holes. The method quickly adopted as 
the only practicable one was to paddle about among the trees, and, 
striking forcibly with an axe all that contained likely looking holes, 
watch for the appearance of the possible occupant. Proceeding in 
this way, multitudes of Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) and Grakles 
(Quiscalus purpureus) were dislodged, the former occupying deserted 
nests of the smaller Woodpeckers, and the latter natural cavities 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 67 

and deserted holes of the Golden-winged (Colaptes auratus) and 
Pileated (ffi/lotomus pileatus) Woodpeckers. At length, in response 
to a couple of sharp blows, the beautiful crimson-fronted head of a 
male Sphyrapicus appeared in the mouth of its hole, and the bird, 
after eying us curiously for a moment, launched out into the air 
and alighted on a neighboring tree. A few moments' consultation 
decided that the tree must be felled, as the hole was at least forty 
feet up, and the trunk so rotten that it was manifestly impossible 
to ascend with safety. All the Maine guides are adepts with the 
axe, and on this occasion but a short time elapsed before the already 
tottering trunk began to show signs of giving way. Both birds 
(for the female had appeared at the first alarm) repeatedly entered 
the hole, and clung against the now quivering trunk, uttering their 
peculiar snarling cry. A few more vigorous blows and the huge 
tree began to decline, then, gathering momentum, descended with 
fearful force, burying its full length for a moment beneath the sur- 
face and half filling the boat with water. So nicely had its fall 
been calculated that it came down in clear water exactly between 
two other trunks which stood within six feet of each other, and 
without touching either. To cut out the hole was now a matter 
of little difficulty, and to our delight we found the three eggs which 
it contained entirely uninjured. Subsequent experiments of a sim- 
ilar nature were, however, less successful. 

" Continuing our search, we soon discovered another nest in a tall 
dead birch, the hole from which the bird emerged being at least 
fifty feet above the water. This tree was, after careful inspection, 
pronounced climbable, and the guide, with characteristic coolness, 
filling and lighting his short pipe, commenced to 'swarm' up, 
puffing out dense clouds of smoke as he ascended. Reaching the 
hole, he quickly and adroitly attached a rope to the trunk, and, 
tying a loop in the end to form a stirrup, stood in this and cut out 
the cavity with his axe. This nest contained six perfectly fresh 
eggs, all of which were brought down in safety. Proceeding in this 
way, five more nests were discovered, but only two sets of eggs 
secured, as three of the trees had to be felled, and in each instance 
with disastrous results." 

All nests examined upon this occasion were of uniform gourd-like 
shape, with the sides very smoothly and evenly chiselled. They 
averaged about fourteen inches in depth by five in diameter at the 
Widest point, while the diameter of the exterior hole varied from 



68 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

1.25 to 1.60 inches. So small, indeed, was this entrance in propor- 
tion to the size of the bird, that in many cases they were obliged 
to struggle violently for several seconds in either going out or in. 
The nests in most instances were very easily discovered, as the bird 
was almost always in the immediate vicinity, and if the tree was 
approached would fly to the hole and utter a few low calls, which 
would bring out its sitting mate, when both would pass to and from 
the spot, emitting notes of anxiety and alarm. The bird not em- 
ployed in incubation has also a peculiar habit of clinging to the 
trunk just below the hole, in a perfectly motionless and strikingly 
pensive attitude, apparently looking in, though from the conforma- 
tion of the interior it would be impossible for it to see its mate or 
eggs. In this position it will remain without moving for many 
minutes at a time. The amount of solicitude evinced varies con- 
siderably with different individuals, some pairs showing the most 
active concern, and keeping up their cries continually, while others 
take matters more coolly, removing to the nearest tree and watch- 
ing in total silence the demolition of their home. In nearly every 
instance, however, when the sitting bird is first disturbed, it utters 
a cry which almost immediately brings up its mate. Watching 
once a nest for an hour or two, I remarked that the birds relieved 
each other in the laboi's of incubation at intervals averaging about 
half an hour each. The one that had been absent would alight just 
below the hole, and, uttering a low yeiv-ick, yeiv-ick, its mate w T ould 
appear from within, when, after the interchange of a few notes of 
endearment, the sitting bird would fly off and the other instantly 
enter the hole. 

One very singular fact which I have noticed is that in nearly 
every tree are several newly finished cavities. In one case four 
were cut open which had evidently been freshly made, all of which 
were as neatly and completely excavated as the one that contained 
the eggs. In addition to these there are often numerous others, 
which by the dark color of the wood within are shown to have 
been made in previous years. In one tree no less than fifteen 
holes were counted, all of which were dug down to the usual 
depth. Yet in no case have I found more than one inhabited, or 
noticed in the vicinity any birds other than the pair to which the 
eggs belonged. These holes for the most part enter the tree on 
the same side, one above the other, but in some cases the whole 
trunk is perforated on all sides and at irregular intervals. Possibly 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 69 

they are intended to accommodate the young after they have left 
the nest. As an example of exceptional choice of situation, oue 
nest was found in a perfectly live poplar-tree of large size. The 
birds had pierced a somewhat irregular hole in the trunk, where a 
limb had rotted out, and, following the partially decayed wood into 
the very heart of the tree, had excavated a cavity to the depth of 
about twelve inches, which, when finished, was surrounded on all 
sides by healthy wood of at least six inches average thickness. 
The entrance to this nest was unusually low, being not over eight 
feet above the water. The average elevation I have found to be 
at least forty feet, and many nests occur considerably higher. The 
four sets of eggs taken on the occasion previously referred to are 
all apparently complete, and vary in number of eggs from five to 
seven, the set of five being the furthest advanced in incubation. 
Six are probably laid as a rule. The eggs vary considerably in 
shape, some being oblong and others decidedly elliptical. They 
average .85 in length by .60 in breadth. As with all the Wood- 
peckers, they are pure white, but there is much less of that fine 
polish than in eggs of the other species that I have examined. 

When fresh, and before being blown, they resemble very closely, 
both in color and size, average eggs of the Martin (Progne pur- 
purea). After the young have hatched, the habits of the Yellow- 
bellied Woodpecker change. From an humble delver after worms 
and larvae, it rises to the proud independence of a Flycatcher, 
taking its prey on wing as unerringly as the best marksman of 
them all. From its perch on the spire of some tall stub it makes 
a succession of rapid sorties after its abundant victims, and then 
flies off to its nest with bill and mouth crammed full of insects, 
principally large Diptera. In this way both parents labor inces- 
santly to provide for their hungry brood. The young leave the 
nest in July, and for a long time the brood remains together, being 
still fed by the parents. They are very playful, sporting about the 
tree-trunks and chasing one another continually. Both young and 
old utter most frequently a low snarling cry that bears no very 
distant resemblance to the mew of the Catbird. The adults have 
also two other notes, — one, already spoken of, when the opposite 
sexes meet ; the other a clear, ringing eleur, repeated five or six 
times in succession, and heard, I think, only in the spring. The 
habit alluded to in Baird, Brewer, and Bidgway's " Birds of 
North America" (Vol. II, p. 541), of "drumming" on the tree- 



70 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

trunks, is a very noticeable one, but by no means confined to this 
species. A very dry, resonant limb is usually selected, and the 
bird will "drum" in the same spot many times in succession. 
Frequently a rival appears, and a battle ends the performance, but 
oftener the female answers the call and joins her anxious mate. 
This habit appears to be perfectly analogous in motive to the well- 
known performance of the Ruffed Grouse, and is performed only in 
the spring before the eggs are laid. Both young and old leave for 
the South in October. 



decent Hittratttrt, 

Ornithology of the Wheeler Expeditions. — This important Me- 
moir,* consisting of three hundred and seventy-four quarto pages and 
fifteen chromo-lithographic plates, forms Chapter III of Volume V of the 
Reports of Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian, and is devoted 
exclusively to a systematic consideration of the ornithological material 
collected by the expeditions during the seasons of 1871 to 1874 inclusive, 
by Mr. H. W. Henshaw, Dr. H. C. Yarrow, Mr. C. E. Aiken, and other 
gentlemen connected with the survey. The region investigated includes 
portions of Utah, Nevada, California, Colorado, Arizona, and New 
Mexico. Much of the matter was originally published in 1874 in a pre- 
liminary report of 148 pages. t The results of the field work of 1874 
are, however, here presented in detail for the first time, and furnish some 
of the most interesting data in the volume. The text is written by Mr. 
Henshaw, and does credit to that gentleman's well-known proficiency as 
an ornithologist. The classification adopted is, for the land-birds, that 
of Baird, Brewer, and Ridgway's " Birds of North America," while for the 
water-birds Mr. Henshaw follows Dr. Coues's check-list. The plates, 
though well drawn, are not all quite what we should like to see them in 
point of coloration. 

Some few new and interesting arrangements of species and varieties are 
original with the author, as in the Juncos, which are divided into three 

* Report upon the Ornithological Collections made during the Years 1871, 
1872, 1873, and 1874. By H. W. Henshaw. Chapter III, Vol. V, of the 
Reports of the Geographical and Geological Explorations and Surveys West of 
the One Hundredth Meridian, in Charge of Lt. Geo. M. Wheeler. Published by 
Authority of the Secretary of War. 4to. pp. 374. Washington : Government 
Printing-office. 1875. 

t Report upon Ornithological Specimens collected in the Years 1871, 1872, 
and 1873. 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 71 

species, each having a single varietj r in the United States. The synony- 
matic lists given include only such references as pertain to the region 
traversed by the survey, thereby divesting the work of any unnecessary 
cunibersomeness. The biographical notices are excellent, and bear the 
impress of vigorous and original thought, founded upon careful and in- 
telligent study in the field. Indeed, so thoroughly good are they that we 
cannot but wish that they were in some cases more extended ; neverthe- 
less, we have valuable descriptions of the notes, habits, and nesting of 
many rare and hitherto little-known species ; and when it is taken into 
account that in most cases the expeditions were unable to get fairly at 
work before midsummer, it is remarkable that so much was accomplished. 
As a contribution to ornithology this work derives its chief value from 
the additions it furnishes to our knowledge of the geographical range of 
North American birds, the assigned limits of many species being con- 
siderably extended, and nine entirely new to our fauna added. It is to 
be hoped that " retrenchment and reform " will not in any way cripple 
the continued good work that we expect from the Wheeler Survey in the 
future.— W. B. 

Field and Forest.* — With the number for July, this journal begins 
its second volume, considerably enlarged and improved. The articles are 
varied and all valuable contributions to science, and we wish " Field and 
Forest" the success its merits so well deserve. The single article relating 
to ornithology brings forward quite novel facts in the history of Wilson's 
Phalarope, which are unique in the history of our birds, and should 
engage further attention. Mr. Kumlien describes the female as being not 
only " richer dressed " than the male, but as leaving the duties of incu- 
bation wholly to the male, who in the breeding season has " invariably 
the naked and wrinkled belly, characteristic of incubating birds," while 
the female shows nothing of the kind. He also represents the female as 
making the advances to the male during the pairing-season, and says it is 
not unusual to " see two females pursuing one male," instead of the re- 
verse, as is usually the case with other birds. If no mistake has been 
made, these facts are among the most interesting in the annals of Ameri- 
can ornithology. — J. A. A. 

The Portland Tern. — Mr. William Brewster has recently published 
his views respecting the character of this recently described Tern.t Hav- 

* Field and Forest : a Monthly Journal devoted to the Natural Sciences. 
Vol. II, No. 1, July, 1876. 8vo, 20 pp. Washington, 1876, Charles R. Dodge, 
Editor. Subscription price, $1.00 a year. 

T Some Additional Light on the so-called Sterna portlandica, Ridgway. By 
William Brewster. Annals of the Lye. Nat. Hist, N. Y., Vol. XI, pp. 200- 
207. [Published February, 1876.] 



72 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

ing given the subject careful attention, he announces his conclusion that 
this interesting form is only an unusual developmental phase of the 
Arctic Tern (Sterna macrura), corresponding to a similar but heretofore 
little-known (in this country at least) stage of the common Tern (T. hi- 
rundo). Mr. Brewster has gone carefully into a discussion of the details 
of the question, and seems to give good grounds for his position. — J. A. A. 

The Birds of Ritchie County, West Virginia. — Not long since, 
the same author published a list of the birds observed by him in West 
Virginia,* based on the joint labors of himself, Messrs. Ruthven Deane, 
and Ernest Ingersoll during the interval between April 25 and May 9, 
1874. The list includes one hundred species, with valuable field-notes, 
and forms an important addition to our faunal literature. — J. A. A. 

Birds of New England. — This enumeration by Dr. Brewer,t of 
three hundred and thirty-six species, will prove useful in showing the 
recent additions to the avian fauna of New England, the presumed cor- 
rect distribution of the species inhabiting that section, and that certain 
species accredited to it have never been obtained within its limits. 
Twenty-nine belonging to the latter class are expunged, the majority, we 
think, with good reason ; but does not previous record show that Quisca- 
lus major, Corvus ossifragus, JEgialitis wilsonius, Sula fiber,% and Nettion 
crecca § can at least be retained as birds that have occurred here 1 

Though referring to and correcting many of the errors of earlier lists, 
we find no credit given to some recent authorities from which it is evident 
facts were gleaned. We regret to find, too, that this, our latest corrected 
treatise on the subject, omits to give the " manner and character " of the 
"presence "of several species with cpuite the exactness that the record 
warrants. 

The following, for instance, classed as summer residents (it being stated 
of Corvus americanus that " a few winter "), are constant residents in 
Southern New England, and one or two probably also in Northern 
New England, namely, Turdus migratorius, Corvus americanus, Picus vil- 
losus, Otus wilsonianus, Brachyotus cassini, Nyctale acadica, Nisus fuscus. 
The following, classed as summer residents (presumably of all New Eng- 

* Some Observations on the Birds of Bitchie County, West Virginia. By 
William Brewster. Annals of the Lye. Nat. Hist., N. Y., Vol. XI, pp. 129- 
146. [Published June, 1S75.] 

+ Catalogue of the Birds of New England, with brief Notes indicating the 
Manner and Character of their Presence ; with a List of Species included in 
previous Catalogues believed to have been wrongly classed as Birds of New 
England. By T. M. Brewer. Proc. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., Vol. XVII, pp. 
436-454, July, 1875. 

J See Linsley, Amer. Journ. Sci. and Arts, Vol. XLIV, 1843. 

§ Bryant, Proc. Bost. Nat. Hist., Vol. V, p. 195. 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 73 

land), seldom reach Northern New England : Cistothorius stcllaris, Vireo 
gilvus, V. flavifrons, V.noveboracensis, Spizella pusilla, Zencedura carolinensis ; 
nor is the latter " rare." The following are not " rare " at Saybrook, Conn., 
but breed there regularly in more or less numbers, and probably occur all 
along the Sound shore west of the mouth of the Connecticut Eiver : Hclmi- 
theras vermivorus, Helminthophaga pinus, Icteria virens, Myiodioctes mitra- 
tus, as do also Siurus ludovicianus, and Myiarchus crinitus ; the latter being 
given as a " rare summer resident "< (of New England). The next two, 
Helminthophaga chrysoptera and Coturniculus passerinus, cannot be called 
"rare " summer residents of Southern New England, as they breed in num- 
bers regularly, especially the latter. The three following are generally com- 
mon, and breed regularly in Northern New England, not " rare " summer 
residents, as marked in the list : Pcrissoglossa tigrina, Geothijlpis Philadelphia, 
Contopus borealis. The following should be marked, not as "summer resi- 
dents " or " visitants," but rather as visitors in spring and fall : Numenius 
longirostris, Cotumicops (Porzana) noveboracensis, and Fulica americana. 
Picoides arcticus and P. americanus are not winter visitants only, to all 
New England, but are residents in Northern New England, and rare win- 
ter visitants to Southern New England. Regulus satrapa winters in num- 
bers in Southern New England, if not also in Northern New England, 
where it is nearly resident. Anthus ludovicianus is a spring and fall visi- 
tant in New England, not " winter." Junco hyemalis hardly winters in 
Northern New England, where it is merely a summer resident. Ectopistes 
migratoria is a regular summer resident of quite all New England, though 
more common in some parts than others. Ortyx virginianus does not occur 
in Northern New England. Astur atricapillus is resident in Northern New 
England, winter visitant in Southern New England. Micropalama himan- 
topus is migratory along the whole New England coast. 

The following should as certainly have the asterisk prefixed as any 
already so marked : Mimus polyglottus, Ampelis garrulus, Euspiza ameri- 
cana, Xanthocephalus icterocephalus, Oenturus carolinus, Hierofalco islandi- 
cus, Cupidonia cupido, Meleagris gallopavo, Himantopus nigricollis, Ibis 
ordii, Herodias egretta, Florida cairulea, Garzetta candidissima, Gallinula 
galeata, Cygnus americanus, Anscr hyperboreus, Anser gambelli, Campto- 
losmus labradorius, Gelochelidon aranea. 

The specimen of Tyrannus verticalis was shot neither at Plympton nor 
Pembroke, Me., but at Elliot, by Mr. George E. Brown. 

In the matter of Macrorhamphus scolopaceus, Mr. Brewster was wrongly 
understood, as he informs us he finds it and griseus in company. Two 
varieties each of Quiscalus, Hierofalco, and Archibuteo are given as found 
in New England, and also an apocryphal little bird we are surprised to 
see brought to light again, namely, Myiodioctes minutus. — H. A. P. 



74 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 



<&cmvni fifftctf. 

The Philadelphia Vireo in New England. — The increase and de- 
crease of certain species in given localities is becoming a subject of much 
interest, instances of which are cited every year. A single specimen may 
be captured in a locality far from the usual habitat of its species, where it 
may not be seen again for years, or it may gradually increase and later be 
found as a regular autumn migrant, though not detected in the spring, and 
vice versa. The above-named species was first given as a New England 
bird by Prof. Charles E. Hamlin, based upon a specimen which be cap- 
tured at Waterville, Me., May 21, 1863. For the next nine years it escaped 
the notice of our collectors, when during a collecfing trip at the Umbagog 
Lake, Maine, I procured a specimen on June 3, 1872, and on the follow- 
ing day, in company with Mr. Wm. Brewster, obtained two more. In a 
communication from Geo. A. Boardman, Esq., he states that on June 2, 
1872, he obtained a female at Calais, Me., the only one, however, which 
he has met with. We did not hear of the Vireo again until September, 
1874, when Mr. Brewster took six specimens at Lake Umbagog. On 
September 11, 1875, I procured a female at the foot of Bipogenus Lake, a 
beautiful sheet of water situated about one hundred and fifty miles north- 
east from the Umbagog Lake, and observed two others. There was an 
immense migration of Warblers, Sparrows, and other species on that morn- 
ing, and the specimen taken was in company with the Becl-eyed and Yel- 
low-throated Vireos.* 

All these specimens were undoubtedly on or near their breeding-grounds, 
and although but few pass tln-ough the coast States, yet it is strange that 
the species should have escaped the notice of the many watchful collectors 
of the present day until Mr. Brewster procured a specimen in Cambridge, 
Mass., on September 7, 1875 (see Bulletin No. 1, p. 19). Three specimens 
were taken during the first week of June, 1876, at Lake Umbagog, in 
which locality it now must be considered as a summer resident. — 
buthven deane. 

Geographical Variation in the Number and Size of the Eggs of 
Birds. — It is not surprising that the now well-known law of geographi- 
cal variation in size among birds should find expression in the eggs of 
birds as well as in the birds themselves. I have only recently, however, 
met with satisfactory proof of the fact, for which proof I am indebted to 
the kindness of Captain Charles Bendire, U. S. A. Under date of May 
21 (1876), Captain Bendire wrote me as follows : "The geographical vari- 
ation in size among North American birds holds true also in respect to 

* This is the most northern locality in Maine at which I have known the Yel- 
low-throated Vireo to occur. 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 75 

their eggs. I find, for instance, in Icteria viridis var. longicaudata, that 
in the vicinity of Fort Lapham, Idaho Territory, where the species breeds 
abundantly, that they almost invariably lay four eggs ; while near Tucson, 
Arizona, where I took at least eighty of their nests, they lay only three, 
and the size of the eggs is so very much smaller, in some cases fully 
one half, that they might easily be taken for eggs of an entirely different 
species. I find that the farther south you go, the eggs of the same species 
become smaller, and the number laid as a full nest complement is also 
less, as a rule. Of course there are some exceptions." He says later, in 
reply to further inquiries from me respecting this matter, that his atten- 
tion was first drawn to this subject by the disparity in size and number of 
the eggs of this species at northern and southern localities. " Of course," 
he continues, "there is considerable variation in size even in the same 
localities when a number of sets of the same species are compared, but the 
assertion that in the North the eggs, as well as the birds, average larger 
than in the South is perfectly correct. I have abundant material in my 
own collection to prove this conclusively. Another illustration of the dif- 
ference in size of eggs from points North and South is the following : Six 
eggs of Molothrus pecoris from the New England States measure as follows : 
(1) .99 X -65 ; (2) .97 X .67 ; (3) .88 X -67 ; (4) .90 X .68 ; (5) .85 X 
.64 ; (6) .76 X -63. Ten specimens of M. pecoris var. obscurus, from Ari- 
zona, measure as follows : (1) .82 X .60 ; (2) .81 X -59 ; (3) .73 X -65 ; 
(4) .75 X -61 ; (5) .74 X -58 ; (6) .73 X -58 ; (7) .72 X -58 ; (8) .70 X 
.58 ; (9) .70 X -56 ; (10) .67 X .51." This gives an average of .90 X .66 
for the New England specimens, and .74 X -59 for those from Arizona. 

The greater part of Captain Bendire's collection being now stored in St. 
Louis, while he is himself stationed in Oregon, prevents the presentation 
by him of other comparative measurements with which to further sub- 
stantiate the above-given generalization of the smaller size of the eggs of 
birds of the same species at southern as compared with northern locali- 
ties. His other statement of the smaller number of eggs laid at the south- 
ward is also one of great importance, and touches a point respecting which 
little has as yet been written. 

Mr. C. J. Maynard, in his " Birds of Florida " (p. 24), refers to the 
" singular fact " that many species lay a smaller number of eggs at the 
South than at the North, and informs me that he has also noticed the fact 
of their smaller size at the southward. — J. A. Allen. 

The Nest and Eggs of Traill's Flycatcher, as observed in 
Maine. — The structure of the nest, its situation, and the eggs of this 
species (Emjndonax traillii), as found in the above-named State, are all 
quite different from Mr. H. W. Henshaw's description of them, as given 
in the first number of this " Bulletin." The nest is built between the 
upright shoots of low bushes, from one to five feet from the ground, and 
is loosely constructed of grasses throughout, including the lining. It is a 
much less compact nest even than that of the Indigo Bird, though perhaps 



76 BULLETIN OF THE NVTTALL 

smaller in the average. The eggs are of a pale creamy white, with red- 
dish-brown dots, spots, or blotches of two shades, disposed chiefly about 
the larger end. This brief account is based on specimens obtained about 
Lake Umbagog, Upton, and at Bethel, Maine, by Messrs. William Brewster 
and H. B. Bailey, and at Gorham, N. H., by Messrs. George Welch and 
Duxbury Moon. I have lately seen nests and eggs of both E. acadicus 
and E. traillii collected at Columbus, Ohio, by Dr. J. M. Wheaton. Sin- 
gularly enough, that of the former (E. acadicus) bears a close resemblance 
in its structure to that of Maine specimens of Traill's Flycatcher, while 
the compact felted character of the latter {E. traillii) is entirely unlike any 
nest of this species from the Canadian fauna. The eggs of the Ohio nests 
are in each case of a decided buff color as compared with Northern ones. 

In this connection I would ask if it has been observed whether the 
ground color and markings of the eggs of species breeding in northern 
latitudes are of a lighter tint than those of the same kind laid in austral 
limits, — that is, does intensity of color hold good in eggs as it does in 
plumage ? — H. A. Purdie. 

Singular Food of the Least Bittern. — Upon examining the 
stomach of a male Least Bittern (Ardetta exilis) shot at Belmont, Mass., 
May 11, 1876, I found that organ fairly crammed with white, clean cotton 
wool. The greater portion had evidently been swallowed in one lump, 
but there were several smaller flakes. Among them were several slender 
white worms, and many others of a similar appearance were coiled around 
the intestines. Under such conditions one would hardly expect the post- 
prandial sensations of the bird to be of an agreeable nature, but the 
bird seemed to be in good health and spirits. — William Brewster. 

Intelligence of a Crow. — A tame Crow (Corvus americanus) in my 
possession has repeatedly amused me by the novel method he adopts to 
rid himself of parasites. For this purpose he deliberately takes his stand 
upon an ant-mound, and permits the ants to crawl over him and carry 
away the troublesome vermin. The operation seems mutually agreeable 
to all parties, the ants quickly seizing upon the parasites and bearing them 
away. I have also noticed the same habit in another tame Crow that I 
formerly had in my possession. — Abbott M. Frazar. 

The Great Carolina Wren in Massachusetts. — The Great Caro- 
lina Wren (Thryothorus hulovicianus) has not previously been recorded 
as a visitor to Massachusetts, but there are at present two apparently pass- 
ing the summer in a small wooded swamp near Boston. It is believed 
that they have arrived since the 4th of July, soon after which time my 
attention was attracted by their loud notes, which I immediately recog- 
nized, through their general likeness to the notes of other Wrens, and the 
descriptions of Wilson and Audubon. It is further believed that they are 
now building, or have recently built, their nest, since they remain per- 
sistently in one neighborhood, the female being rarely seen, though the 
male often visits the shrubbery about the house. — H. D. Minot. 



BULLETIN 

OF THE 

NUTTALL ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 

Vol. I. NOVEMBER, 1876. No. 4. 



OUR PRESENT KNOWLEDGE OF THE NIDIFICATION OF 
THE AMERICAN KINGLETS. 

BY ERNEST INGERSOLL. 

In the hope of eliciting from some of the many readers of The 
Bulletin further information concerning the breeding habits of the 
American Kinglets, or at least of putting them upon the alert for 
further information, I have deemed it well to bring together what 
is at present known respecting the nidification of these birds. 

Of the breeding of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula, 
Licht.) not much is known, although the bird is found, at different 
seasons, in all parts of North America. In the Rocky Mountains 
it breeds among the most elevated forests. Mr. J. A. Allen found 
young in July near Mount Lincoln, Col. ; Mr. Ridgway gives it as 
breeding among the peaks of Northern Utah ; and Mr. Henshaw in 
Arizona. It is also supposed to breed in Northern New Jersey, in 
Western New York, in Maine, and in the islands of the Bay of 
Fundy. In Western New York a nest which contained young was 
reported to have been built in the fork of a tree. Males and 
females have both been observed in summer about Chestnut Hill, 
Philadelphia, and Mr. Gentry thinks it nests on the wooded heights 
along the Wissahickon. Dr. Coues, in his " Birds of the North- 
west," considers that he has sufficient evidence to show a breeding- 
range throughout the mountains of the West, from nine thousand 
feet upward, thence trending eastward along the northern boundary 
of the United States to Maine and Labrador, and probably sending 
a spur southward along the Alleghany Mountains. Northwestward 
it reaches Alaska. 



78 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

The most satisfactory information is furnished by Mr. J. H. Batty, 
■who found a nest near the Buffalo Mountains in Colorado, on June 
21, 1873, which contained five young and one egg. The nest was 
on the branch of a spruce-tree, about fifteen feet from the ground, 
and was so large " that it could scarcely be got into a good-sized 
coffee-cup." It is described as " a loosely woven mass of hair and 
feathers, mixed with moss and some short bits of straw." The egg, 
Mr. Batty tells me, was very much like that of the common House 
Wren, but a little lighter in color. Both parents were assiduously 
bringing larvse of insects to the young, whose appetites were un- 
appeasable. Mr. Henry W. Henshaw also reports finding a neatly 
finished nest on a mountain near Fort Garland, Col. It was built 
on a low branch of a pine, and the male was singiug directly over- 
head ; but although he waited some time, Mr. Henshaw did not see 
the female. " The nest was a somewhat bulky structure, very large 
for the size of the bird, externally composed of strips of bark, and 
lined thickly with feathers of the Grouse." Of the eggs of this 
Kinglet nothing further is known. 

Little more can be said in respect to the Golden-crested Kinglet 
(Regulus sat?'apa, Licht.). Its range is nearly as extensive, but more 
northerly ; it does not descend in winter beyond Mexico. Nothing 
is known with certainty of its breeding anywhere in the United 
States, although it may be found to do so in the northern moun- 
tainous portions. Mr. Thomas G. Gentry is confident that it nidi- 
ficates in cavities in the tall trees which crown the heights of Eastern 
Pennsylvania, despite the generally accepted notion that it follows 
its foreign cousin in building a pensile nest and laying white eggs, 
finely sprinkled with buff dots, in size about equal to those ot 
Humming-birds. It has also been inferred that this Kinglet raises 
two broods in a season. Mr. Nuttall and Dr. Cooper both found it 
feeding full-fledged young on the Columbia River, on May 21 ; and 
Audubon observed the same thing in Labrador in August. Mr. 
Maynard found it common at Lake Umbagog, Me., in June ; he 
says it breeds there, and that, judging from the condition of female 
specimens dissected, it deposits its eggs about June 1. Several 
pairs were found in the thick woods there, but no nests could be 
discovered ; he thought they built, probably, in the long hanging- 
moss so abundant on the trees in those northern forests. Mr. Her- 
rick puts it down positively as breeding on the island of Grand Menan, 
and Dr. Brewer in Maine. Mr. Allen informs me that he met with 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 79 

young, attended by the parents, the third week in August, 1876, 
on Mount Monadnock, New Hampshire, which he has no doubt 
were hatched in the immediate vicinity. Mr. J. K. Lord states that 
these birds were abundant on Vancouver's Island and the adjacent 
coast, where he found them building pensile nests suspended from 
the tips of high pine branches, in which they laid from five to seven 
eggs. He does not describe the eggs, which was hardly to be ex- 
pected, perhaps, considering the half-use he seems to have made of 
his opportunities. 

Herr F. W. Baedeker has figured the egg in the " Journal fur 
Ornithologie " (1856, p. 33, PI. I, Fig. 8), and also in his large work 
on the eggs of the birds of Europe. Dr. Coues observes, in a pri- 
vate communication to me, " The plate indicates a rather roundish 
egg, though the two specimens figured differ noticeably in size and 
shape ; they are spoken of in the text as ' niedliche kleine Eirchen 
mit lehmgelben ben Flekschen auf weissen Grunde,' and compared 
with those of other species illustrated on the same plate." 

Begulus cuvieri, described by Audubon from a specimen taken 
near the banks of the Sohuylkill River, has remained unknown to 
ornithologists ever since. 



NESTING HABITS OF THE CALIFORNIAN HOUSE WREN 
(TROGLODYTES AEDON VAR. PARKMANNI). 

BY DR. J. G. COOPER. 

The little fellows who require such a triple scientific name, ac- 
cording to the latest fashion in nomenclature, have this year ex- 
hibited in my garden a remarkable characteristic or habit, which, 
if not confined to the western l-ace, has never been recorded of those 
individuals found in the northeastern section of the Union, though 
it may be looked for in the longer summers of the southei'n and 
interior States. 

The well-known fact that during the season of incubation the 
males usually busy themselves in building several nests in places 
where they seem quite unnecessary, has always been attributed to 
a sort of whim or desire for occupation, or to a judicious foresight ; 
providing thus against a possible destruction of the first nest. 



80 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

But it seems that here, at least, one extra nest is sometimes used 
for the purpose of raising an additional family by a single pair of 
wrens simultaneously with the first brood ! This would scarcely 
appear credible if not made certain by close observation of the pair 
during the whole breeding season, while no others were seen within 
a circuit of a quarter of a mile. Like all other summer visitors, 
these birds arrived much later this year than last, none appearing 
until about April 20, though some winter within one hundred miles 
to the southward. Whether the same pair returned, mentioned to 
have built here last year (in my article in the " American Natural- 
ist " for February, 1876, p. 90), is uncertain. I believe that one of 
that pair was killed by a cat, and the brood of young were certainly 
destroyed, June 14, by an unusually late and heavy rain, which ran 
from the eaves of my house into their box, after which the remain- 
ing parent bird disappeared. The present pair, however, lost no 
time in building, and, as if suspicious of their former home, built 
first in a house on the top of a post twelve feet high, which was 
occupied by a pair of Hirundo bicolor last summer. As soon as the 
nest was finished, the male began to build another in the old resi- 
dence, which I had moved to a safer place, where rain could not 
reach it. The female rarely assisted in this work, though I occa- 
sionally saw both there, and in due time the second nest was 
finished. Soon after the young in the first nest were hatched, and 
although needing much attention, the old birds still frequented the 
new nest, and I began to suspect that one of them was sitting on 
eggs there. This suspicion was soon verified by hearing the young, 
and seeing them fed. ' In this case each parent must have been 
sitting at the same time on a nest, perhaps taking turns, during the 
week that elapsed before the first hatching. 

The day after the first brood of six left its house, they reappeared 
at evening under the lead of the female, and all roosted there, the 
male meanwhile continuing to feed the other brood, and singing at 
almost every visit to them, from which circumstance I distinguished 
him. The next day, however, he seems to have taken charge of the 
fledged family and led them away to the groves, out of the reach of 
town cats, as after that the songless female alone attended to the 
remaining brood. 

As confirming the probability of one pair being able to raise two 
broods, I may quote from Dr. Brewer the experiment by which one 
female was induced to lay twenty-five eggs in one season, eighteen 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 81 

being successively taken, and the remaining seven hatched. I have 
not seen any evidence of a second brood being raised here after the 
first, very few birds of any kind doing this, on account of the 
scarcity of insect-food after the dry season is advanced, or in July. 

The first brood left the nest June 5; the second on the 16th, 
which also consisted of six. 



ON GEOGRAPHICAL VARIATION IN DENDRCECA PALMARUM. 

BY ROBERT RIDGWAT. 

A very remarkable variation in colors, accompanied by less 
striking difference of size, from east to west, in this species, was 
first brought to my notice by a casual examination of the specimens 
contained in the National Museum, specimens from the Atlantic 
States appearing at first sight to be very much brighter colored than 
those from the Mississippi Valley, with somewhat different markings, 
and also larger in size. Examples from the West Indies, where, in 
part, the species passes the winter, are, so far as seen, entirely re- 
ferable to the western form, as are also those from Western and 
Southern Florida. The circumstance that West-Indian specimens 
are identical with those from the Mississippi Valley is conspicuously 
in contrast with the case of D. dominica, in which the relationship 
is reversed, West-Indian specimens being identical with those from 
the Atlantic States, while examples from the interior States agree 
with those taken in Mexico and Honduras. The D. dominica, how- 
ever, is resident in the southern portions of its range, while D. 
palmartim is one of those species which pass mainly north of the 
United States to breed.* Another fact in connection with the present 
bird is the notable exception which it constitutes in the matter of 
climatic variation to certain laws under this head, it being usual for 
specimens from the Mississippi Valley to be, if any different, brighter 
than those from corresponding latitudes on the Atlantic Coast. 
The variation would therefore appear to be entirely with longitude, 
so far as geographical considerations are concerned, and not to be 
explained by any known climatic laws. 

This is written with the most positive assurance that such a wide 

* D. palmarum has not been recorded from any part of Mexico or Central 
America. 



82 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

• 

difference does exist in this species between specimens from the 

country eastward of the Alleghanies and those from the Western 
States of the Eastern Sub-region, for not only does the ample series 
of specimens examined indicate such a difference, but evidence ac- 
cumulated by correspondence confirms it. After examining all the 
material accessible I deemed it prudent, in order to make sure that 
the variations noted were not in part of an individual character, to 
call the attention of others to the subject. Accordingly, a pair of 
the western form (from Southern Illinois), in spring plumage, of 
which the male was unusually bright, were despatched to Mr. 
William Brewster, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, with the request 
that they be compared with his New England series, as well as with 
other local collections in Cambridge, while at the same time a typical 
example of the eastern style was mailed to Mr. E. W. Nelson, of 
Chicago, Illinois, with the same request. The replies of these gen- 
tlemen have been received, and fully establish my previous conclu- 
sion that the differences were strictly geographical. Mr. Brewster's 
letter reads as follows : — 

" I have very carefully compared the birds sent with my series 
of twenty Massachusetts specimens, and find that they differ widely 
from any that I have ever taken here. The decided yellow of the 
entire under parts and the chestnut markings are constant in our 
bird, and subject to but a limited amount of variation, and this 
chiefly sexual. The dullest fall female in my series is much brighter 
beneath than your spring male. Again, your birds are clear brown 
above, from the occiput to the rump, while mine all have a greenish- 
yellow cast ; the lower eyelid in your specimens is white, while in 
mine it is as decidedly yellow as the superciliary stripe ; and, lastly, 
the markings on the lower parts, though more numerous, are brown 
instead of chestnut, and of a different shape, being mostly linear 

instead of tear-shaped A pair of these birds from Florida 

agree very well with your specimens, after making due allowance for 
difference of season, they being winter birds. I saw at a glance 
that the birds you sent were totally different in color from any that 
are ever taken here, and as I have probably examined one hundred 
Massachusetts specimens altogether, I can assure you positively 
that the form you sent never occurs here at any season." 

Mr. Ruthven Deane, of Cambridge, also examined the pair sent 
for inspection, and has this to say of them : " I have compared 
your two specimens of D. palmarum with mine, and find that they 
differ in the respects of which Mr. Brewster has written you. The 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 83 

back of your specimens is considerably darker than in Massachusetts 
birds, and lacks the sprinkling of the yellowish feathers ; the mark- 
ings on the breast are much finer and less conspicuous in your 
specimens, and the stripe under the [eye is invariably yellow in 
Massachusetts specimens. In fact, your birds are considerably dif- 
ferent at a glance, and if they are typical of the Illinois bird I should 
think they represent a well-marked variety." Mr. Nelson's reply, 
received at the same time, is equally to the point : " The speci- 
men of D. palmarum came to hand this morning. There is a great 
difference in intensity of coloration between this specimen and any 
I have seen or taken here, the one from Baltimore showing much 
brighter and purer yellow on the under parts, while the crown and 
spots on the breast are much clearer and brighter chestnut. I do 
not remember ever taking a specimen here in which the markings 
on the breast were so few, and confined to the sides, western speci- 
mens having the streaks extending uniformly across instead of hav- 
ing a nearly immaculate space between the two clusters of spots at 
the bend of the wing. As to fall specimens, the only observable 
difference is that they are much duller in color, more like the female 
of Perissoglossa tigrina." Mr. A. L. Kumlien, of Busseyville, Wis- 
consin, an experienced collector and accurate observer, examined 
the series with me, and stated his belief that no such specimens as 
those before him from the Atlantic States ever occurred in Wiscon- 
sin, and was positive he had never seen similar ones from that por- 
tion of the country. 

The following are the specific characters of Dendrceca palmarum, 
and the diagnoses of the two subspecies, or geographical races : — 

Common (specific) Characters. — No distinct bands on wing-coverts. 
Inner webs of* two outer tail-feathers with large terminal patch of white. 
Crissum clear yellow. Adult : Below more or less yellow, the sides of 
breast streaked ; a yellow or whitish superciliary stripe. Pileum uniform 
chestnut in spring and summer, or brownish streaked with dusky in fall 
and winter, but usually with more or less of chestnut beneath the surface. 
Above nearly uniform olive, becoming brighter, more yellowish-green, on 
rump and edges of tad-feathers. Young : Above dull grayish, streaked 
everywhere with dusky ; below dirty whitish, tinged with yellow, the 
throat, breast, and sides heavily streaked with dusky ; wing-coverts slightly 
tipped with buff. Wing, 2.35 - 280. 

Subspecific Characters. 

Subsp. palmarum. — Wing, 2.35 - 2.65 (2.52) ; tail, 2.05 - 2.45 (2.24) ; 
bill, from nostril, .27 -.32 (.29) ; tarsus, .71 - .80 (.76). Yellow of lower 



84 BULLETIN OF. THE NUTTALL 

parts interrupted by a whitish abdominal area ; breast streaked uniformly 
across, the, streaks being linear, and dusky, with little if any tinge of chest- 
nut ; lower eyelid whitish ; back dull olive-brown. Habitat. Mississippi 
Valley (north to Great Slave Lake) and West Indies. Casual in certain 
Atlantic States. 

Subsp. hypochrysea. — Wing, 2.50-2.80 (2.69) ; tail, 2.25 - 2.55 (2.43) ; 
bill, from nostril, .28- .32 (.30) ; tarsus, .75 - .80 (.79). Yellow of lower 
parts entirely continuous, and much brighter ; streaks confined mostly or 
wholly, to sides of breast, broadly tear-shaped, wholly reddish-chestnut ; 
lower eyelid bright yellow ; back greenish-olive. Habitat. Atlantic 
States, from East Florida to Nova Scotia. 

Dendrceca palmarum. 
Subspecies palmarum. 

Le Bimbele, ou la Fausse Linotte, Buffon, Ois., V, p. 330 (St. Domingo). 

Palm Warbler, Lath., Synop., II, pt. 2, p. 498. 

Motacilla palmarum, Gmel., S. N., I, 1788, p. 951. Dendrceca palmarum, 
Baird, Birds N. Am., 1858, 488 ; et Auct. (part). 

Habitat. Mississippi Valley during migrations ; breeding in the interior 
of British America, wintering in the Gulf States, from Texas to Western 
and Southern Florida, and West Indies (Cuba, Jamaica, Santo Domingo, 
and Bahamas). Casual in certain Atlantic States (but not in New Eng- 
land ]). Carlisle, Penn., April, May, and September ; District of Colum- 
bia, April and October. (Specimens in Nat. Mus.) 

Adult Male in Spring (No. 915, Mus. R. R., .Mount Carmel, Illinois, 
April 22, 1869. Brightest in the entire western series). Beneath yellowish- 
white, tinged with yellow, the throat and crissum deepening into gam- 
boge ; sides of the neck, sides, and entire breast, streaked with umber- 
brown, tinged with rusty, the shafts of the feathers darker ; a distinct 
superciliary stripe of clear yellow. Pileum uniform rich chestnut, darker 
next the bill, where divided medially by a short and indistinct streak of 
yellow. Upper parts in general olive-gray, deepening into yellowish 
olive-green on the upper tail-coverts. Tail-feathers dusky, edged exter- 
nally with pale olive-yellowish, the two outer pairs with their inner webs 
broadly tipped with white. Wings dusky, the remiges edged like the tail- 
feathers, with yellowish olive-green ; both rows of coverts tipped with 
pale grayish-buff, forming rather distinct indications of two bands. Wing, 
2.55 ; tail, 2.30 ; bill, from nostril, .30 ; tarsus, .80. 

Most other males in the series before me are rather duller than the one 
described. A specimen from Carlisle, Penn. (No. 152, Mus. S. F. Baird, 
April 26, 1845, — presumably a male), differs merely in the more indis- 
tinct character of the streaks along the sides, those of the breast being 
almost obsolete. One of the brightest males in the entire series is one in 
Mr. Nelson's collection (No. 2,072, Waukegan, 111., April 12, 1876). This, 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 85 

however, is scarcely different from the one described, the only obvious dif- 
ference being the somewhat brighter yellow on the breast, and the greater 
amount of chestnut in the streaks of the side of the breast. The palest 
male is also a Waukegan specimen (No. 2,073, Mus., E. W. Nelson, April 
28, 1876), which has the posterior half of the superciliary stripe white 
and the whole breast whitish, the pure yellow being thus restricted to the 
throat and crissum. 

Adult Female in Spring (No. 2,786 Mus. R. R., Mt. Carmel, 111., Spring ; 
S. Turner). Similar to the male, as described above, but pileum mixed 
chestnut and dark umber-brown, distinctly streaked with dusky. Wing, 
2.35 ; tail, 2.05 ; bill, from nostril, .28 ; tarsus, .71. 

A female in my collection, from Calumet, 111. (May 12, 1875), is con- 
siderably paler and duller, the lower parts being whitish tinged with yel- 
low on the throat and jugulum, the crissum only continuous yellow ; even 
the superciliary stripe is white from the eye backward. The pileum is 
grayish-olive, like the back, tinged in one or two places with chestnut, 
and very indistinctly streaked. The streaks on the sides are almost ob- 
solete, but across the jugulum they are quite well defined. 

Adult (both sexes) in Winter. Lower parts dirty whitish, the breast and 
sides with narrow streaks of grayish brown ; throat and superciliary stripe 
loholly dirty whitish; yellow entirely confined to the crissum, except a tinge 
on the abdomen, and along the edge of the wing in some specimens ; 
crown grayish-umber, with but little, if any, tinge of chestnut, and dis- 
tinctly streaked with dusky. 

This plumage is that of all late fall and winter specimens, whether from 
far north or the West Indies. I have seen no specimens from the latter 
region in the spring plumage. 

Subspecies hypochrysea. 

Dendraica palmarum, Auct., in part. 

Dendrceca palmarum hypochrysea, Ridgway. 

Habitat. Atlantic States, from East Florida (in winter) to Nova Scotia. 
Breeding in Maine and northward, and wintering in the South Atlantic 
States ; apparently not found at all in West Indies, nor in Southern or 
Western Florida ! 

Adult Male in Spring (No. 2,164, Mus. R. R., Cambridge, Mass. ; W. 
Brewster). Entire lower parts, and a conspicuous superciliary stripe, 
bright yellow, entirely continuous and uniform beneath ; entire sides marked 
with broad streaks of deep chestnut, these most distinct on the sides of 
the breast. Auriculars mixed olive and chestnut (the latter prevailing), 
somewhat darker immediately behind the eye ; lore with an indistinct 
dusky streak. Entire pileum rich chestnut, becoming darker next the 
bill, where divided medially by a short and rather indistinct yellow streak. 
Rest of the upper parts olive, tinged with brown on the back, and bright- 



86 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 

ening into yellowish olive-green on the rump and upper tail-coverts, the 
latter having shaft-streaks of reddish-chestnut. Tail-feathers dusky, 
edged externally with yellowish-olive, the inner webs of the two outer 
feathers broadly tipped with white. Wings dusky, all the feathers edged 
with pale brownish-olive, this edging rather widest on the ends of the mid- 
dle and greater coverts, where, however, they do not form any indication 
of bands. Wing, 2.65 ; tail, 2.50 ; bill, from nostril, .30 ; tarsus, .80. 

The above description will apply almost ecpually well to the generality of 
bright-colored males in the series, except that the chestnut streaks on the 
upper tail-coverts are not found in any of the others ; there is considerable 
individual variation in the amount of the chestnut on the cheeks, but the 
auriculars seem to be never entirely of this color. 

Adult Female in Spring (No. 63,155, Nat. Mus., Cambridge, Mass. ; H. 
W. Henshaw). Entirely similar to the male, as described above, except 
that the chestnut of the pileum is rather lighter, and less abruptly defined 
posteriorly, the chestnut streaks absent from the upper tail-coverts, no tinge 
of chestnut on the auriculars, which are plain olive, and size smaller. 
Wing, 2.60 ; tail, 2.40 ; bill, from nostril, .32 ; tarsus, .75. 

A female from Nova Scotia, in breeding dress (parent of eggs in Nat. 
Mus.), is entirely similar in color, but rather smaller in size. Wing, 2.50 ; 
tail, 2.30 ; bill, from nostril, .30 ; tarsus, .75. 

Adult in Autumn (No. 2,567, Mus. E. R., Washington, D. C, October 10, 
1861 ; E. Coues). Generally similar to the spring male, as described 
above, but the chestnut of the pileum overlaid and almost entirely con- 
cealed by olivaceous tips of the feathers ; no tinge of chestnut on the 
auriculars, which are grayish-olive. Yellow beneath as bright and con- 
tinuous as in spring, but chestnut streaks much less distinct. Markings 
generally less distinct, and colors more suffused ; tips of wing-coverts and 
edges of tertials decidedly brownish. 

A specimen from Carlisle, Penn., in the same plumage (No. 783, Mus. 
S. F. Baird, October 7, 1842), differs merely in being more brownish above. 
The measurements of this and the preceding may be found in the accom- 
panying table. 

Adult in Winter (No. 59,811, Nat. Mus., Hibernia, Florida, February, 
1870 ; G. A. Boardman). Similar to the autumnal plumage, but less 
brownish above. 

Young, first Plumage (No. 2,807, Mus. R. R., St. Croix R., Maine, July 
20, 1874 ; G. A. Boardman). Above grayish-brown, distinctly streaked 
with dusky, the streaks broader on the back, where they widen at the end 
of the feathers ; both rows of wing-coverts narrowly tipped with pale buff ; 
tertials edged externally with rusty cinnamon ; rump and outer edges of 
primaries and rectrices yellowish olive-green ; upper tail-coverts pale rusty- 
cinnamon. Lower parts mostly dull whitish, tinged on the throat and 
abdomen with lemon-yellow, the throat, breast, and sides heavily streaked 
with dusky ; crissum and edge of the wing bright yellow. 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 



87 



List of Specimens examined. 
Subspecies palmarum. 



Num- 
ber. 


Museum. 


Sex 
and 


Locality. 


Date. 


Wing. 


Tail. 


Bill 
from Ta 


rsus. 




Age. 


n 








Nostril. 




19506 


U.S. 


cf ad. 


Ft. Resolution, Br. Am. 


June 1 


265 


2.40 


.28 


80 


23520 


" 


— " 


Cuba (Monte Verde). 


Winter 


240 


2.20 


.30 


75 


23523 


" 


d " 


" 


Jan. 17, 1861 


2.60 


2.30 


.30 




12192 


" 




District of Columbia. 


Spring 


2 65 


2.30 


.30 


78 


6494 


1 


_ a 


Florida (Indian Key). 


Mar. 23 


2.65 


2 40 


.30 


80 


8647 


" 


— " 


Cape Florida. 


Oct. 27, 1857 


2.50 


2.30 


.30 


75 


32260 


" 


d " 


Macon, Georgia. 


April, 1848 


2.60 


2.25 


.31 


80 


152 


S. F. B.* 




Penn. (Carlisle). 


Ap'l 26, 1845 


2.40 


2.25 


.28 


75 


54 


" 


— " 


" " 


May 2, 1840 


2.45 


2.25 


.30 


'ib 


733 


" 


— " 


ii « 


Sep. 20, 1842 


2.45 


2.25 


.29 


75 


946 


" 


" 


i 


Winter 


2.60 


2.30 


.30 


80 


945 


" 


" 


? 


" 


2.55 


2.30 


.28 


78 


1343 


E. W. N.t 


? " 


Illinois (WaukegaD). 


Mav 12, 1875 


2.40 


2.10 


.30 


75 


2072 


" 


d " 


" " 


Ap'l 12, 1876 


2.50 


2.20 


.28 


80 


2073 


" 


d " 


" " 


Ap'l 28, 1876 


2.60 


2.30 


.30 


78 


2074 


" 


d " 


ii it 


JMay 12, 1876 


2.45 


2.15 


.28 


78 


2075 


" 


d " 


" " 


" " 


2.50 


2.15 


.30 


\b 


1534 


e. at 




District of Columbia. 


Oct. 1,1859 


2.50 


2.45 


.28 


80 





P. L.J. || 


d " 


" " . 


Oct. 11, 1861 


2.60 


2.35 


.30 


80 


915 


R. R.§ 


d " 


Illinois (Mt. Carmel). 


Ap'l 22, 1869 


2.55 


2.30 


.30 


80 


2786 


" 


9 " 


" " 


Spring 


2.35 


2.05 


.28 


71 


— 


" 




" (Englewood). 


IMay, 1874 


2.60 


2.25 


.30 


80 


— 


" 


9 " 


" Calumet. 


May 12, 1875 


2.40 


2.15 


.30 


'(2 


— 


" 


d " 


Wise. (Busseyville). 


May 2, 


2.55 


2.20 


.30 


80 


— 


" 


? " 


" " 


May 14, 


2.45 


2.05 


.27 


80 


— 


" 






Autumn 


250 


2.10 


.30 


76 








.2 52 


2.24 


.29 | 


76 



Subspecies hypochrysea. 



Num- 
ber. 




Sex 










Bill 




Museum. 


and 


Locality. 


Date. 


Wing. 


Tail. 


from 


Tarsus. 




Age. 










Nostril. 




10236 


U. S. 


— ad. 


Mass. (Sherborn). 


Summer 


2.80 


2.40 




.80 


26929 


" 


9 " 


Nova Scotia. 


June 


2.50 


2.30 


.30 


.75 


59811 


" 




Florida (Hibernia). 


Feb., 1870 


2.80 


2.50 


.28 


.80 


63155 


" 


9 " 


Mass. (Cambridge). 


Spring 


2.60 


2.40 


.32 


.75 


783 S. F. B.* 


d " 


Penn. (Carlisle). 


Oct. 7, 1842 


2.75 


2.55 


.30 


.80 


2164 


R. R.§ 


d " 


Mass. (Cambridge). 


Spring 


2.65 


2.50 


.30 


.80 


2567 


" 




District of Columbia. 


Oct. 10, 1861 


2.75 


2.50 


.30 


.80 


2082 


" 


9 " 


Mass. (Cambridge). 


Spring 


2.55 


2.30 


.30 


.80 


— 


it 


d " 


" " 


" 


2.75 


2.50 


.32 


80 


— 


" 




Maryland (Baltimore). 
Average,.. 


" 


270 


2.30 


.30 


.80 






.2.69 | 2.43 


.30 | .79 


* S. F 


. Baird. 


itE. 


(V. Nelson. t E. Cou 


es. 1! P. L 


Jouy 


{ 


f R. Rid 


gway. 



88 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL 



NOTES ON TEXAN BIRDS. 

BY J. C. MERRILL, M. D., ASSISTANT SURGEON, U. S. A. 

I. Five Species of Birds new to the Fauna of the United States. 
I have recently obtained the following species, new to the fauna 
of the United States, in the vicinity of Fort Brown, Texas : — 

1. Molothrus aeneus, JFagler. This species, next to Quiscalus major 
var. macrurus, is the most abundant of the family here during the summer 
months, and it is strange it was not obtained by earlier collectors. Pro- 
fessor Baird informs me that specimens forwarded to him may constitute a 
variety. 

2. Nyctidromus albicollis, Sclater. In Baird, Brewer, and Eidgway's 
" Birds of North America " (Vol. II, p. 399), mention is made of the pos- 
sible occurrence of this species within our limits. My first specimen was 
taken within Fort Brown on the 1st of April of this year. On May 2, 
while in camp some sixty-five miles up the river (Rio Grande), I obtained 
a female as she flew up from her two eggs ; and on the 15th of the same 
month a second set of eggs was found near the place where the first were 
obtained. The characteristic notes heard every evening showed that this 
species was by no means rare. 

3. Pyrrhopheena riefferi, Bourc. This Mexican and Guatemalan 
species of Hummer is identified by Mr. Ridgway from my description of a 
specimen taken here last June by a soldier. He wished to keep it, but it 
escaped in a day or two. A second specimen was shot here a few weeks 
later, determined by Mr. Ridgway to be this species. 

4. Parra gymnostoma, Wagler. Early in August I saw a pair of 
water-birds quite new to me on the borders of a lagoon near Fort Brown. 
I was on horseback at the time, and did not have my gun, but had a good 
opportunity to observe them carefully. The next day I winged one of 
them, but it fell into a dense bed of water-plants, and could not be found, 
and the survivor disappeared. Respecting a letter describing the bird as 
seen, Mr. Ridgway writes : " The bird you describe is undoubtedly Parra 
gymnostoma ; .... the chestnut back and yellow (greenish-yellow) wings 
settle the species beyond a doubt." 

5. Podiceps dominicus, Lath. This species was first obtained early 
in March, three specimens being killed at one shot. I have also seen them 
in April, May, and August, in the shallow lagoons about here. 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 89 

II. On the Breeding Habits, previously unknown, of two Species of 
North American Birds. 

Embernagra rufivirgata, Lawr. This little-known speciea is quite 
abundant in the vicinity of Fort Brown, Texas. During the past season I 
searched in vain for its nest on the ground, where it seemed almost certain 
it would be found, on account of its eminently terrestrial habits. No nest 
was taken, however, until August 5, when one was found within the limits 
of the fort, placed on a sapling about four feet from the ground ; it con- 
tained two eggs. On returning two days later, the female was obtained aa 
she left the nest, to which a third egg had been added. Dissection showed 
that no more would have been laid. The domed nest was neatly con- 
structed of fine twigs and straws, the more delicate ones being used for the 
lining. The eggs are pure white, and are large for the size of the bird, 
averaging .90 by .66 of an inch. 

On September 7 a second nest was found, in all respects like the first, 
except that it was lined with hair ; the two eggs were but slightly incu- 
bated, and do not differ from those first found. 

Xanthura incas var. luxuosa, Bon. My first nest of this species 
was taken on the 27th of May, while in camp near Edinburgh (now 
Hidalgo), Texas, about seventy miles above Fort Brown, on the Rio 
Grande. It was placed on the horizontal branch of a waican-tree, about 
twenty-five feet from the ground, and was built of twigs and rootlets ; 
the cavity was slight, and the entire structure so thin that the eggs could 
be seen through the bottom. These were three in number, and were quite 
fresh. The ground-color is a grayish-white, thickly spotted with brown 
and pale lilac, especially at the larger end ; they average 1.11 by .82 inches. 
A second nest, found in the same vicinity May 8, was on a sapling seven 
feet from the ground ; it closely resembled the first one, and contained 
four eggs, three far advanced in incubation ; the fourth, which also differed 
in having the markings most numerous at the smaller end, was quite 
fresh. These eggs are shorter than the first set, averaging 1.01 by .80 ; 
in other respects they are much alike. During the latter part of the same 
month I found two more nests of this handsome bird ; they resembled the 
others in situation and construction, but I was obliged to leave before eggs 
were deposited in either. 



BIRDS OF NEW ENGLAND. 

BY THOMAS M. BREWER. 



My attention has been called to the paper in the September 
"Bulletin" signed " H. A. P.," and I notice with surprise certain 



90 BULLETIN OF THE NUT TALL 

strictures that are hardly deserved. My Catalogue of the Birds of 
New England was, at first, only intended to be a simple list, without 
note or comment, transferring to a challenged list such species given 
by others as my own judgment led me to question, and adding the 
names of recent additions. This list I gave for what it was worth, 
expecting and desiring to have it amended and improved. But this 
writer seems to have totally misapprehended, in several essential 
respects, the purpose proposed in my list. It was but an initiative 
towards a complete and reliable list of the birds of New England, 
based upon the sure foundation of undisputed facts. Mere opinions, 
no matter by whom held, crude inferences from insulated facts, and 
still less empty conjectures, without data, were of no value in my 
eyes, and wholly irrelevant. We had had quite too much of this 
already, and our local lists had been overloaded with, and rendered 
comparatively valueless by, smart guesses and shrewd anticipations 
of coming occurrences. 

Nor was it any part of my original design to indicate the charac- 
ter of the presence of birds in the New England States. At the 
last moment, and when it could only be done very briefly, and there- 
fore incompletely, my friend, Mr. J. A. Allen, persuaded me to add 
this feature, after the whole article was in type, and when it could 
only be done so far as was possible, without materially adding to its 
length. Of course the additions are very brief, and never ex- 
haustive. 

" H. A. P.," apparently not appreciating the real purport of these 
notes, is at the quite unnecessary pains to supplement them with 
additions, all of them more or less liable to exceptional criticism. 
For instance, Turdus migratorius is given by me as a general sum- 
mer resident, which is certainly correct, so far as it goes. Of course 
the merest tyro in ornithology knows that the Robin is also migra- 
tory in the spring and in the fall, and also that birds of this species 
may be met with irregularly and occasionally during winter in 
various parts of New England. But these peculiarities are many- 
sided, and to have done the subject full justice, with proper dis- 
crimination, would have required more space than I had at my dis- 
posal. " H. A. P." naively informs us that the Robin is a constant 
resident in Southern New England. If by this he intends to have 
us understand that the same individual Robins are constant resi- 
dents with us, I take issue with him. I deny it to be a fact. The 
individuals of this species that occupy New England in the summer 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 91 

leave before the approach of winter. Those who visit us in the 
winter are of a very different race, come from far beyond our limits, 
and do not remain with lis after the approach of spring. More than 
this, these winter visits are not confined to Southern New England. 
In some seasons, and under certain conditions, Robins are more 
numerous in some portions of Northern New England, in mid- 
winter, where food is abundant, than I have ever found them in the 
southern portions. So far as my note on the Robin went, it was at 
least accurate, but the supplement of " H. A. P." is both inexact 
and calculated to mislead. 

" H. A. P." asks if certain species, five in number, and named by 
him, are not shown by the records as birds to be retained. Having 
answered these questions to the best of my ability, in advance, 
and in the negative, I can only repeat that all the records we have 
in reference to them are unreliable, and that, in my judgment, these 
names should remain on the list of those requiring more evidence. 
One of them, Nettion crecca, will probably prove to be of occasional 
occurrence, but this I do not deem at all probable of the other four. 
If " H. A. P." can answer his own question, he should do so ; if not, 
it is irrelevant. 

" H. A. P." wanders from the path cf legitimate criticism to accuse 
me of having withheld credit due to certain other and recent 
authorities, and in so doing ceases to be critical and becomes per- 
sonal. I will only here remark, that his insinuations are both 
gratuitous and unjust. No one, other than myself, can know the 
extent or the limits of my knowledge, and no one has any right to 
assume how much of it is solely due to information derived from 
others. The limit to which I was restricted prevented my giving 
any extent of data, and where I depended upon authorities already 
made public, I was not at liberty so unnecessarily to swell my arti- 
cle as to repeat them. In every instance where there was any real 
occasion to do so, I have given due credit, so far as my limits per- 
mitted. And what makes this censure seem the more inconsistent 
and uncalled for is that, in his own paper, in which we find such an 
amount of sweeping generalizations, no credit whatever is given to 
any one else as having aided him in forming his conclusions. He 
has been either inconceivably fortunate in acquiring knowledge 
under difficulties, or he, too, has withheld the credit due to others 
for the data upon which he bases the positive dogmas he gives out 
in a manner quite ex cathedrd. 



92 BULLETIN OF 1HE NUTTALL 

I might go on and take np and criticise, one by one, each of these 
supplemental opinions, but as they are only opinions unsupported by 
facts, I view them as valueless. Some I know to be incorrect. Vireo 
gilvus and Zenaedwra carol inensis, for instance, to my certain knowl- 
edge, have been found very nearly, if not quite, throughout New Eng- 
land. Then, too, " H. A. P." and your humble servant do not appear 
to always attach the same significance to the same words, — "rare," 
for instance. With all due deference to his opinions, as expressed 
in all the instances where I have made use of this word, I must still 
adhere to my own, and am prepared to take issue with him squarely 
in every instance named by him where he challenges its use. Until 
he can produce the data for his sweeping declarations I am not 
prepared to admit the correctness of any of his unproven state- 
ments or inferences. I do not believe, for instance, that Perissoglossa 
tigrina, Geothlypis Philadelphia, or Contopus borealis are " generally 
common " throughout Northern New England. Neither am I pre- 
pared to admit, without positive proof, that Hehninthophaga chry- 
soptera can be said to breed in any considerable numbers in South- 
ern New England, nor does it, so far as I know, in any part of the 
United States. The mere ipse dixit of a single observer, and scattered 
insulated instances, do not afford even inferential data. The same 
holds true of Coturniculus passerinus, though a much more common 
bird, but the portion of Southern New England in which it breeds in 
considerable numbers regularly must be small indeed. So far as my 
own observations go, and so far also as I have been able to obtain 
information from others, " H. A. P." is not warranted in his sweep- 
ing statement that Micropalama himantopus is a regular migrant 
along the whole New England coast. But if he is better posted, and 
can produce the evidence to establish his views on this long-contro- 
verted point, such data are too valuable and would be too inter- 
esting to be suppressed. But let us have facts, not imaginative 
opinions, and these not insulated, but in sufficient numbers. As for 
Anthus ludovicianus, I speak of that which I do know when I repeat 
that I have found it, sometimes in large flocks, in open country near 
the coast, in Massachusetts, in midwinter, notwithstanding the 
negative testimony of " H. A. P." to the contrary. 

But I will not occupy any further space by taking up, point by 
point, the various forms of difference of opinion between " H. A. P." 
and myself. I will only add, in conclusion, that I see nothing in 
his criticisms, unsupported as they are by facts, to induce me to 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 93 

make any material changes in my own views. Our ornithological 
horizons have evidently not been the same, and consequently our 
conclusions are not always in unison. He is welcome to his own 
conjectures, inferences, and opinions, but I must be permitted to 
retain my own, " H. A. P." to the contrary notwithstanding, until 
he produces something of more weight than unsupported assertion. 



%tttnt ILiteratttrt, 

Birds of Southwestern Mexico. — Mr. George N. Lawrence has 
recently published* his Report on the Birds of Southwestern Mexico, col- 
lected by Professor Francis E. Sumichrast, under the auspices of the Smith- 
sonian Institution. The list embraces three hundred and twenty-one 
species, with valuable and occasionally quite copious field-notes by the col- 
lector. The paper is prefaced by several pages, by Professor Sumichrast, on 
the character of the avian fauna of Southwestern Mexico, which contain 
interesting generalizations respecting the distribution of the species. — 
J. A. A. 

Jordan's Manual of Vetebrate ANiMALS.t — This work, says the 
author, was written " to give collectors and students who are not specialists 
a ready means of identifying the families, genera, and species of our Verte- 
brate Animals. In deference to the uniform experience of botanists, and 
in view of the remarkable success achieved by Dr. Coues, in the applica- 
tion of the method to Ornithology, the author has adopted the system of 

artificial keys Use has been freely made of every available source 

of information, and it is bebeved that the present state of our knowledge is 
fairly represented." The task the author has here attempted seems to have 
been carefully done, and the work will doubtless prove of great value 
to the class for which it has been prepared. It indicates thorough ac- 
quaintance with the literature of the subjects treated, and well represents 
the latest and most approved views respecting the classification and no- 

* Birds of Southwestern Mexico, collected by Francis E. Sumichrast. Pre- 
pared by George N. Lawrence. Bull. U. S. National Museum, No. 4. Published 
under the direction of the Smithsonian Institution. "Washington : Government 
Printing-Office. 1876. 

t Manual of the Vertebrates of the Northern United States, including the 
District east of the Mississippi River, and north of North Carolina and Tennessee, 
exclusive of Marine Species. By David Starr Jordan, M. S., M. D., etc. Chi- 
cago : Jansen, McClurg, & Co. 1876. 12mo. pp. 342. Price, $2.00. 



94 BULLETIN OF THE NUITALL 

menclature of the several classes of animals to which the work is devoted. 
With respect to the Mammals and Fishes, the author's plan of excluding the 
marine forms was -doubtless, for various reasons, a wise one, especially in 
the case of the Cetaceans, concerning which our knowledge is still lament- 
ably deficient. In respect to Birds, however, the desire for uniformity is 
the only obvious reason for not including the few strictly marine species, 
— a reason we deem quite insufficient for marring the otherwise praise- 
worthy completeness of the portion of the work devoted to this class. 
We notice, however, the absence of Helminthophaga leucobronchialis, while 
such species as Eusjnza townsendi and JEqiotlim fiavirostris var. breivsteri, 
are included. A few species not yet recorded as found east of the Mis- 
souri are also included, though the western boundary of the district located 
is assumed to be the Mississippi Eiver. But these are points that in no 
way seriously detract from the merits of the book. Several of the analyti- 
cal tables of different groups of birds are based on or taken directly from 
Coues's key, and the latest and best authorities are followed for the other 
classes. Cope is closely followed for the Reptiles and Batrachians, while 
the Fishes show much original work. The Mammals are brought down to 
the literature of six months since, but several papers now in press or that 
have recently appeared will necessitate^ few changes in nomenclature in 
future editions. In all cases the author gives liberal credit to the sources 
from which he has gathered his materials, as well as for aid more directly 
furnished. 

On the whole, the author is to be congratulated on the success he has 
achieved in this difficult undertaking, combining in a work of convenient 
size and moderate cost a text-book of the Vertebrate Animals of the North- 
eastern States, reliable in character and sufficiently extended to guide the 
student with tolerable ease to the name of any species he may chance to 
have in hand. — J. A. A. 



<&mcv&l footed. 

Capture of the Orange-crowned Warbler in Massachusetts. — 
The Orange-crowned Warbler (Hehninthophaga celata) must be regarded, 
so far as our present knowledge warrants, as a rare visitor to New England. 
Two only have been previously reported in Massachusetts,* and these, with 
a third shot in New Hampshire,t fill the list of New England quota- 
tions. 

* One was taken at Springfield, May 15, 1863, by Mr. J. A. Allen (see Proc. 
Essex Institute, Vol. IV, p. 60), and the other at Lynn, Jan., 1875 (see Brewer, 
in Proc. Post. Soc. Nat. Hist, Vol. XVII, p. 439). 

t At Hollis, May 16, 1876, by Mr. W. H. Fox (Forest and Stream, Vol. VI, 
p. 354). 



ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 95 

In view of this fact, the announcement of a third specimen for Massa- 
chusetts may he of interest. On Octoher 2, 1876, while collecting at 
Concord, Mass., I shot a female of this species in fine autumnal plumage. 
"When first observed it was gleaning industriously among some low, scat- 
tered birches, in company with several Black-throated Green Warblers 
{Dendrceca virens), a few Black-polls (D. striata), and one or two Nash- 
ville Warblers (Helminihophaga ruficapilla). Its small size and dark colors 
first drew my attention to it, and led me to suspect its identity. It proved 
upon dissection to be a bird of the year. — William Brewster. 

Variable Abundance of Birds at the same Localities in dif- 
ferent Years. — It has probably been observed by most of our field 
ornithologists, that many of our rarer birds are to be found in larger num- 
bers during some'of their annual or semiannual visits than -.during others. 
This is an interesting fact ; but it is a fact of much greater interest that 
our commonest summer residents are similarly variable, and that, as a 
general rule, where one species varies in this respect, the deviation extends 
to all in the same degree. A small increase or decrease in the multitude of 
universally common species is, of course, less noticeable than a proportion- 
ate variation in the numbers of those which are less abundantly distrib- 
uted ; but that the former are as regularly subject to such variation as 
the latter is beyond all doubt. So absolute and unchanging is this law, 
that its effects may be detected from the appearance of the earliest spring 
arrivals to the coming of the last of the vernal migrants. Should the 
army of Thrushes and Finches that arrive from the south about the last 
of March be unusually large and continuous, you may prophesy with al- 
most entire confidence a good year for birds. In the vicinity of Portland 
the seasons of 1875 and 1876 have been remarkable in examples of ex- 
treme numerical variation ; the one for the paucity of rare species, the 
other for their abundance. During the past season (1876) White-crowned 
Sparrows occurred in almost unprecedented numbers, often appearing in 
flocks of six or eight ; the previous season but one was taken, to my 
knowledge. In 1876 specimens of the Mourning and Bay -breasted War- 
blers were taken ; the one new to the locality, the other not having occurred 
for six years. The Great-crested Flycatcher was common in 1876, rare in 
1875. With a few exceptions, the same difference has been perceptible in 
the case of every species. 

i But what is it that exerts so potent an influence over our birds ? Not 
the weather, it would seem ; for heat or cold, storm or calm, causes 
but a slight difference in the time of the arrival of a species, much 
less in its numbers. An apparent auxiliary cause is the weather of the 
winter preceding the spring. If the winter be mild and rather free from 
snow, there is an evident increase in the numbers of the earliest arrivals 
in March ; but it can hardly be supposed that a bird which does not make 
its appearance till the last of May feels the effects of mild weather several 



96 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL CLUB. 

months before. The great body of migrants are said to pursue different 
routes to their northern homes at different seasons. Very true ; but how 
about our summer residents 1 

I confess myself puzzled for a satisfactory solution to the question. The 
abundance or scarcity of birds in winter or autumn has been better ex- 
plained. — N. C. Brown. 

Occurrence op the Wood Ibis in Pennsylvania and New York. 
— I learn from Mr. C. J. Maynard, who saw and examined the specimen, 
that on June 21, 1876, a Wood Ibis (Tantalus loculator) was captured at 
Williamsport, Pennsylvania. It was reported to be one of a small flock 
seen flying northward. " Forest and Stream" (of July 20, 1876) records 
(on the authority of Mr. Frederic S. Webster) the capture of another 
specimen on June 24, at Troy, New York. The occurrence of this strictly 
southern species so far north of its usual range has not, I think, been be- 
fore reported. While its usual northern limit in the interior is South- 
ern Illinois, it has been reported as occurring in Ohio and Wisconsin, and 
Dr. Coues refers to its occurrence in Chester County, Pennsylvania, its 
previous most northern record on the Atlantic slope. — J. A. Allen. 

Peculiar Nesting-Site of the Bank-Swallow. — Dr. Rufus Ham- 
mond, of Brookville, Indiana, writes, under date of June 5, 1876 : " Two 
weeks ago I saw a Bank-Swallow building its nest in the east end of a 
frame paper-mill, about seventy yards from the depot, in which was placed 
the nest of which I have already informed you [see " American Natur- 
ralist," Vol. X, p. 373, June, 1876]. A weather-board had become de- 
tached from the building, leaving a small opening, in which I watched for 
two days a Bank-Swallow building a nest. Soon after the mill caught 
fire and was burned, of course destroying the nest and its contents. I 
have no doubt these birds will ultimately change their habits so far as to 
build their nests in anj r convenient place, especially in pudlock holes left 
open in brick buildings." I should, however, add that Mr. Ridgway 
(" American Naturalist," Vol. X, p. 493, Aug., 1876) questions whether the 
birds observed were not the Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx ser- 
ripennis), which nests as Dr. Hammond describes. — Elliott Coues. 



INDEX. 



JEgialitis wilsonius, 26, 72. 
iEgiothus linaria, 21. 
Agelaeus phceniceus, 22, 25, 53. 
Albinism in North American birds, 

20. 
Alca impennis, 53, 58. 
Allen, J. A., on nidification of 

Clarke's Crow, 44 ; on the nesting. 

of the Canada Goose in trees, 50 ; 

on Ross's Goose in Oregon, 52 ; on 

decrease of birds in Massachusetts, 

54 ; on geographical variation in 

the number and size of birds' eggs. 

74 ; on the occurrence of the Wood 

Ibis in Pennsylvania and New 

York, 96. 
Allen, J. D., letter from, respecting 

a specimen of Buteo, 3. 
Ammodromus caudacutus var. nel- 
soni, 40. 
" maritimus, 25. 

Ampelis garrulus, 73. 
Anas boschas, 23. 
Anser gambelli, 73. 

" hyperboreus, 54, 59, 73. 

" rossii, 52. 
Anthus ludovicianus, 73, 92. 
Ardea candidissima, 27, 73. 

" herodias, 27. 

" rufa, 40. 

" virescens, 27. 
Astur atricapillus, 73. 
Auk, Great, 53, 58. 
Bailey, H. B., on the birds of Cobb's 

Island, Va., 24. 
Bendire, Charles, on the nidification 

of Clarke's Crow, 44 ; on the 

Canada Goose nesting in trees, 50 ; 

on Anser rossii in Oregon, 52 ; on 

geographical variation in birds' 

eggs, 74. 
Bernicla branta, 23. 
Blackbird, Red-winged, 25, 53. 



Brachyotus cassini, 72. 

Branta canadensis, 50. 

" " var. leucopsis, 41. 

Brewer, T. M., on birds of New Eng- 
land, 89 ; notice of paper by, 72. 

Brewster, Wm., description of a new 
species of Helminthophaga, 1 ; on 
the occurrence of certain birds in 
New England, 17 ; on the Curlew 
Sandpiper in Mass., 51 ; on singu- 
lar food of a Least Bittern, 76 ; 
on geographical variation in Den- 
droeca palmarum, 82 ; capture of 
the Orange-crowned Warbler in 
Mass., 94 ; notices of papers by, 
71, 72. 

Brown, N. C, on variable abundance 
of birds at the same localities in 
different years, 95. 

Bucephala islandica, 41. 

Bunting, Painted Lark, 42. 

Buteo borealis, 22. 

" borealis var. calurus, 40. 

" montana, 33. 

" swainsoni, 42. 

" vulgaris, 2, 32, 36. 

CamptoLjEMUS labradorius, 73. 

Campylorhynchus, tarsal envelope 
in, 50. 

Catherpes, tarsal envelope in, 50. 

Centurus carolinus, 73. 

Charadius fulvus var. virginicus, 22. 

Chaulelasmus couesii, n. sp. 46. 

Chionis minor, 48. 

Chordeiles popetue var. henryi, 40. 

Cistothorus stellaris, 73. 

Colaptes auratus, 22. 

Colymbus septentrionalis, 23. 

Contopus borealis, 73, 92. 

Cormorant, Florida, 44. 

Corvus americanus, 22, 53, 54, 72, 76. 
" corax, 53, 54. 
" ossifragus, 19, 25, 72. 



98 



INDEX. 



Coturniculus lecontei, 40. 

" passerinus, 73, 92. 

Cotyle riparia, 21, 96. 
" serripennis, 9. 

Coues, Elliott, on the tarsal enve- 
lope in Campylorhynchus and allied 
genera, 50 ; on the number of 
primaries in Oscines, 60 ; on a pe- 
culiar nesting-site of the Bank- 
Swallow, 96. 

Crane, Brown, 53, 58. 
" Whooping, 53, 58. 

Crow, Clark's, 44. 

" Common, 22, 53, 54, 72, 76. 
" Fish, 19, 25, 72. 

Cupidonia cupido, 22, 53, 56, 73. 

Cyanurus cristatus, 22. 

Cygnus americanus, 53, 58, 73. 

Deane, Ruthven, on albinism and 
melanism in North American birds, 
20 ; on the Philadelphia Vireo in 
New England, 74 ; on geographi- 
cal variation in Dendrceca palma- 
rum, 82. 

Dendrceca caerulescens, 11. 
" castanea, 21. 
" coronata, 21. 
u discolor, 25. 
" palmar um, 81. 
" " var. hypochrysea, 85. 

" " var. palmarum, 84. 

Dolichonyx oryzivora, 23. 

Duck, Barrow's Golden-eye, 41. 
" Eider, 41. 
" King Eider, 41. 
" Pintail, 44. 
" Surf, 41. 

Ducks, former abundance of, in Mas- 
sachusetts, 60. 

Ectopistes migratorius, 22, 54, 56, 
73. 

Egret, Little White, 27. 
" Reddish, 40. 

Embernagra rufivirgata, 89. 

Etnpidonax acadicus, 14. 
" traillii, 14. 75. 

Euspiza americana, 73. 

Extinct birds with teeth, 49. 

" Field and Forest," notice of, 
71. 

Finch, Bachman's, 42. 
" Seaside, 25. 
" Western Sharp-tailed, 40. 

Fleet, W. Van, on the Rough- winged 
Swallow in Pennsylvania, 9. 

Florida coerulea, 73. 



Flycatcher, Acadian, 14. 

" Great-crested, 95. 

" Traill's, 14, 75. 

Frazer, A. M., on intelligence of a 

Crow, 76. 
Fulica americana, 73. 
Fuligula affinis, 23. 

" vallisneria, 23. 
Fulmarus glacialis, 23. 
Gallinago wilsoni, 23. 
Gallinula galeata, 73. 
Geese, former abundance of, in Mas- 
sachusetts, 59. 
Gelochelidon aranea, 73. 
Gentry, T. G., his " Life-Histories of 

Birds," notice of, 49. 
Geographical variation in birds' eggs, 

74. 
Geographical variation in Dendrceca 

palmarum, 81. 
Geothlypis Philadelphia, 23, 92. 
Goose, Canada, breeding in trees, 50. 

" Ross's, 52. 

" Snow, 59. 

" White-fronted, 41. 
Graculus dilophus var. floridanus, 44. 
Grakle, Purple, 22, 53. 
Grouse, Pinnated, 53, 56. 
Grus americanus, 53, 58. 

" canadensis, 53, 58. 
Gull, Herring, 41. 

" Laughing, 27. 

" Sabine's, 41. 

" White-winged, 41. 
HiEMATOPUS palliatus, 26. 
Harelda glacialis, 44. 
Hawk, European Buzzard, 2, 32. 

" Fish, 25. 

" Swainson's, 42. 

" Western Red-tailed, 40. 
Helminthophaga celata, 94. 

" chrysoptera, 6, 73, 

92. 
" leucobronchialis, 1. 

" pinus, 73. 

Helmitherus vermivorus, 73. 
Henshaw, H. W., on Empidonax 

traillii and E. acadicus, 14 ; report 

of, on the ornithology of Wheeler's 

Surveys, 70. 
Herod ias egretta, 73. 
Heron, Great Blue, 27. 

" Green, 27. 

Little White, 27. 

" Yellow-crowned Night, 43. 
Hierofalco islandicus, 73. 



INDEX. 



99 



Himantopus nigricollis, 73. 
Hirundo bicdlor, 21. 

" horreorum, 21, 25. 
" lunifrons, 21. 
" serripennia, 21, 96. 
Hylotomus pileatus, 54, 55. 
Ibis ordi, 73. 
Ibis, Wood, 43, r 96. 
Icteria virens, 73. 
Ingersoll, Ernest, on the nidification 

of the American Kinglets, 76. 
Jaeger, Pomarine, 41. 
Jones, C. M., on the breeding of the 

Black-throated Blue Warbler in 

Connecticut, 11. 
Jordan, D. S., notice of his " Manual 

of Vertebrate Animals," 93. 
Junco hyemalis, 21, 73. 

" oregonus, 19. 
Kerguelen Island, Kidder's or- 
nithology of, 48. 
Kidder, J. H., notice of papers by, 48. 
Kingbird, 25. 
Kinglet, Golden-crested, 78. 

" Ruby-crowned, 77. 

Larus argentatus var. argentatus, 41. 
" atricilla, 27. 
" leucopterus, 41. 
Lawrence, G. N., notices of papers 

by, 47, 93. 
Lomvia grylle, 23. 
" troile, 23. 
Lophortyx californicus, 22. 
Marsh, 0. C., notice of papers by, 

49. 
Maynard, C. J., on Buteo vulgaris in 

North Anlerica, 2 ; on geographi- 
cal variation in birds' eggs, 75. 
Melanerpes erythrocephalus, 54, 55. 
Melanism in North American birds, 

24. 
Meleagris gallopavo var. occidentalis, 

55. 
Melospiza melodia, 21. 
Mergulus alle, 23. 
Merrill, J. C., notes on Texan birds, 

88. 
Merriam, C. H., on the Ipswich 

Sparrow and Hudsonian Titmouse, 

in Connecticut, 52. 
Micropalama himantopus, 73, 92. 
Mimus polyglottus, 73. 
Minot, H. D., on the Carolina Wren 

in Massachusetts, 76. 
Molothrus aeneus, 88. 
" pecoris, 22. 



Myiadestes townsendi, 40. 

Myiarchus crinitus, 73. 

Myiodioctes minutus, 73. 
" mitratus, 40, 73. 

Nelson, E. W., on birds new to the 
fauna of Illinois, and notes on 
other Illinois birds, 39. 

Nettion crecca, 72, 91. 

Nighthawk, Western, 40. 

Nisus fuscus, 72. 

Numenius longirostris, 73. 

Nuttall Ornithological Club, histori- 
cal sketch of, 29. 

Nuttall Ornithological Club, orni- 
thological papers by members 
of, 30. 

Nyctale acadica, 73. 

Nyctherodius violaceus, 43, 96. 

Nyctidromus albicollis, 88. 

OZdemia fusca, 23. 

" perspicillata, 41. 

Oporornis agilis, 42. 

Oreortyx pictus, 22. 

Ortyx virgin ianus, 22, 73. 

Oscines, on number of primaries in, 
60. 

Otus wilsonianus, 72. 

Pandion halisetus, 36. 

Parra gymnostoma, in Texas, 88. 

Parula americana, 21. 

Parus hudsonicus, 52. 

Passer domesticus, 21. 

Passerculus princeps, 18, 52. 

Passerella iliaca, 21. 

Pelecanus trachyrhynchus, 60. 

Pelican, White, 60. 

Perissoglossa tigrina, 73, 92. 

Petrochelidon lunifrons, 21. 

Peucaea aestivalis, 42. 

Philohela minor, 23. 

Philomachus pugnax, 19. 

Picicorvus colunibianus, 44. 

Picoides americanus, 73. 
" arcticus, 73. 

Picus villosus, 72. 

Pigeon, Wild, 54, 56. 

Plectrophanes pictus, 42. 

Plover, Wilson's, 26. 

Podiceps dominieus, 88. 

Pocecetes gramineus, 21. 

Porzana Carolina, 22. 
" jamaicensis, 43. 
" noveboracensis, 43, 73. 

Progne purpurea, 21. 

Protonotaria citrea, 42. 

Purdie, H. A., on the nests and eggs 



100 



INDEX. 



of Traill's Flycatcher, as observed 
in Maine, 75. 
Pyrrhophsena riefferi, 88. 
Querquedula discors, 23. 
Quiscalus purpureus, 22, 53. 
Rail, Black, 43. 
" Clapper, 27. 
" Yellow, 43. 
Rallus longirostris, 27. 
Regulus calendula, 77. 
" cuvieri, 79. 
" satrapa, 73, 78. 
Ridgway, Robert, on the occurrence 
of Buteo vulgaris in North Amer- 
ica, 32 ; on geographical variation 
in Dendrceca palmarum, 81. 
Ruff, 19. 

Rhynchops nigra, 28. 
Salpinctes, tarsal envelope in, 50. 
Sandpiper, Baird's, 19. 
" Curlew, 51. 

Sandpipers, former abundance of, in 

Massachusetts, 60. 
Setophaga ruticilla, 21. 
Sialia sialis, 21. 
Siurus ludovicianus, 42, 73. 
Skimmer, Black, 28. 
Snowbird, Oregon, 19. 
Snow, F. H., notice of his " Birds of 

Kansas," 47. 
Solitaire, Townsend's, 40. 
Somateria mollissima, 41. 
" spectabilis, 41. 
Sparrow, Ipswich, 52. 
" Leconte's, 40. 

" White-crowned, 95. 
Sphyrapicus varius, 22, 60. 
Spizella monticola, 73. 
" pusilla, 73. 
" socialis, 53. 
Steganopus wilsoni, 71. 
Stelgidopteryx serripennis, 21, 96. 
Stercorarius pomatorhinus, 41. 
Sterna anglica, 28. 
" hirundo, 28. 
" portlandica, 72. 
" regia, 28. 

" superciliaris var. antillarum, 
28. 
Streets, T. H., description of a new 

duck by, 46. 
Sturnella magna, 22. 
Sula fiber, 72. 
Swallow, Bank, 96. 



Swallow, Barn, 25. 

" Rough-winged, 9, 96. 

Syrnium nebulosum, 22. 
Tachycineta bicolor, 21. 
Tantalus loculator, 43, 96. 
Tarsal envelope in Campylorhynchus 

and allies, 50. 
Tern, Common, 28. 
" Least, 28. 
" Marsh, 28. 
" Portland, 72. 
" Royal, 28. 
Troglodytes aedon var. Parkmanni, 

79. 
Thryothorus ludovicianus, 76. 
Titmouse, Hudsonian, 52. 
Totanus semipalmatus, 26. 
Tringa bairdii, 19. 

" subarcpaata, 51. 
Turdus migratorius, 21, 72, 90. 
Turkey, Wild, 53, 58. 
Tyrannus carolinensis, 22, 25. 

" verticalis, 73. 
Vireo belli, 42. 
" fiavifrons, 74. 
" gilvus, 73, 92. 
" noveboracensis, 73. 
" philadelphicus, 74. 
Vireo, Bell's, 42. 

" Philadelphia, 74. 
" Yellow-throated, 74. 
Wagtail, Large-billed Water, 42.' 
Warbler, Bav-breasted, 95. 

" Black-throated Blue, 11. 
" Connecticut, 42. 
" Golden-winged, 6, 94. 
" Hooded Flycatching, 42. 
" Mourning, 95. 
" Prairie, 25. 
" Prothonotary, 42. 

Warren J., on the nesting of the 
Golden-winged Warbler in Massa- 
chusetts, 6. 
Willett, 26. 
Woodpecker, Pileated, 53, 55. 

" Red-headed, 54, 55. 

" Yellow-bellied, 63. 

Wren, Californian House, 79. 

" Carolina, 76. 
Xanthoceph alus icterocephalus, 22. 
Xanthura incas var. luxuosa, 89. 
Xema sabinei, 41. 
ZeNjEDURA carolinensis, 73, 92. 
Zonotrichia albicollis, 21. 





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