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Full text of "Report of the State Zo©logist"



Bound \^^\ 



HARVARD UNIVERSITY 




LIBRARY 

OF THE 
MUSEUM OF COMPARATIVE ZOOLOGY 



Ex chariQ e 
13387 



■sian. 25, I9«^5 



ThK GEOLOCacAL AXD NATURAL HISTORY SURVEY OL; MlNXE.SOTA 

FIRST REPORT 

OF THE 

Sl^ATE ZOOLOGIST 

ACCOMPANIED WITH 

NOTES ON THE BIRDS OF MINNESOTA 

By Di-. P. L. HATCH 



HE:N"11Y F. XACHTEIEB, state Zoolo/^ist 



T-o-Xie, ISSS 



MINNEAPOLIS: 
HAKRISON & SMITH, PRINTKRS 

'■"■1802 



NOTICE. 



The accompanying volume is the first of a 
series contemplated in the plan of the state 
zoologist on the zoology of Minnesota. 

The plan contemplates publishing reports 
on every class of animals, so far as lepresented 
in the state, as soon as reliable data and the 
material necessary for trustworthy reports are 
at the disposal of the state zoologist. 

Until otherwise notified you are respectfully 
requested to address all zooligical publications 
sent in exchange for the publications oi the Geo- 
logical and Natural History Survey of Minne- 
sota to 

STATE ZOOLOGIST, 

University of Minnesota, 
Minneapolis, 

Minnesota, U. S. A. 



^CK^J^ 



The Geological and Natural History Survey of 

Minnesota. 



FIRST REPORT 



OF THE 



Dn- 






UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, 
MINNEAPOLIS, 

MINNESOTA, U. S. A 



HEXRY F. :N^ACHTRIEB, State Zoologist. 



T-O-ne, 3.S32. 



MINNEAPOLIS: 

HARKISON & SMn H. PRINTERS. 

1S93. 



NOTICE. 

The accompanying volume is the first of a 
series contemplated in the plan of the state 
zoologist on the zoology of Minnesota. 




The Geological and Natural History Survey of 

Minnesota. 



FIRST REPORT 



OF THE 



STATE ZOOLOGIST, 



ACCOMPANIED WITH 



NOTES m THE BIRDS OF MINNESOTA, 

By Dr. P. L. HATCH. 



HEXI?Y r. ^ACHTRIEB, State Zoologist. 



T-u-ne, 1SS2. 



MINNEAPOLIS: 

HAHKISON & SMITH. PUINTERS. 



LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL. 

To the President of the Board of Regents of The Universitu of Min 
nesota: 

Sir.- — I have the honor herewith to transmit to your honor- 
able Board my first report as State Zoologist. 

Nearly all of the matter originally intended for this report 
has been crowded out by Dr. Hatch's "Notes on the Birds of 
Minnesota," which for several reasons I felt constrained to sub- 
mit at present in their original form, and which accompany 
my general introduction. 

Dr. Hatch was years ago requested to write a report on the 
birds of Minnesota, by Professor Winchell, when the State Geol- 
ogist had charge of all the divisions of the survey. For this 
and other reasons I have not assumed any editorial responsi- 
bilities and privileges, but simply those of a transmitter. 

A report on the birds of Minnesota is now in process of pre- 
paration, and just as scon as the ornithologist has important 
data, not yet in hand, at his disposal, and the mass of notes 
and material collected during the past thirty years has been 
thoroughly sifted and arranged, it will be submitted for publi- 
cation. Very respectfully, 

Your obedient servant, 

HENRY F. NACHTRIEB. 






GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 

The Geological and Natural History Survey of Minnesota, 
was established by a legislative act approved by the Governor 
of the State March 1st, 1872. "There is no question," to quote 
the words of the State Geologist, "but one of the prime motives 
of the law^ w^as to introduce another auxiliary force into the 
State University, by making it a center whence should radiate 
information concerning the natural features of the state, and 
toward which should gravitate all collections of natural history 
that should otherwise be brought to light." Taking the state- 
ment in its most comprehensive sense, it is undoubtedly true ; 
and the fact that the State Geologist has always been enrolled 
with the faculty of the University in the catalogue, and that 
the law explicitly makes the Board of Regents the director of 
the survey, fully justifies the statement in regard to the rela- 
tion of the survey to the University, and indicates an element 
of excellence not to be found in the laws creating similar sur- 
veys in other states. 

At the time the present survey was organized it seemed de- 
sirable for various reasons to pay more attention to the geology 
of the state than to the botany and the zoology, and accord- 
ingly a geologist was appointed to take charge of the survey 
w^ork. This was in accordance with the spirit of the times. 
And in accordance with an established custom, the geologist of 
the survey was generally called the State Geologist, an appel- 
lation that common usage has given the weight of a title, 
though it never was officially conferred as such. For many 
years the "Natural History Survey,"" existed only in the wisely 
formulated law, for which excellent and comprehensive law we 
owe thanks to Dr. Wm. W. Folwell, who was at that time pre- 
sident of the University. 

Later on the importance and necessity of beginning the botan- 
ical and the zoological work was now and then recognized in the 
appearance of papers relating to the flora and fauna of the state. 
Naturally, however, the botanical and zoological work was not 
prosecuted with the same vigor and accuracy as the geological, 
for the day had gone by when one man could master all sciences. 
And the geologist of to-day finds problems enough in geology 
to engage all his time and tax all his energy and genius. 

It was the recognition of these facts as well as the desire to 
make a more efficient " auxiliary force"" of the survey contem- 
plated in the law that prompted the Board of Regents to relieve 
the State Geologist of the excess of requirements and put the 



4 FIRST REPORT 

botanical and the zoological work of the survey under the 
charge of, respectively, the professor of botany as State Botanist 
and curator of the botanical museum, and the professor of 
animal biology as State ZoSlogist and curator of the zoological 
museum. 

The present State Zoologist was appointed by the Board of 
Regents about three years ago. Nothing was done during the 
first two years, other University duties taking me abroad one 
year, and sickness making work impossible the other. Last 
summer (1891) a party of three spent not quite four weeks on 
Lake Vermilion, as much as the funds remaining after purchas- 
ing apparatus and chemicals would permit. The exceedingly 
bad and disagreeable weather reduced this time to about two 
weeks. Nevertheless, some valuable data and experience were 
gained that are of value for the future. 

It has been a surprise to me that so few of our ''posted" citi- 
zens know anything about the existence of a law creating The 
Geological and Natural History Survey, and to dispel a little of 
this ignorance where it ought not to be, I quote here the sec- 
tions relating to the Natural History division of the Survey. 

n" Section 1. It shall be the duty of the board of regents of 
The University of Minnesota to cause to be begun as soon as 
may be practicable, and to carry on a thorough geological and 
natural history survey of the state. 

Section 3. The natural history survey shall include, first, an 
examination of the vegetable productions of the state, embra- 
cing all trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses, native or naturalized 
in the state ; second, a complete and scientific account of the 
animal kingdom as properly represented in the state, including 
all mammalia, fishes, reptiles, birds and insects. 

Section 6. It shall be the duty of said board of regents to 
cause proper specimens, skillfully prepared, secured and la- 
beled, of all rocks, soils, ores, coals, fossils, cements, building 
stones, plants, woods, skins and skeletons of animals, birds, 
insects and fishes, and other mineral, vegetable and animal 
substances and organisms discovered or examined in the course 
of said surveys, to be preserved for public inspection, free of 
cost, in the University of Minnesota, in rooms convenient of 
access and properly warmed, lighted, ventilated and furnished 
and in charge of a proper scientific curator; and they shall 
also, whenever the same may be practicable, cause duplicates in 
reasonable numbers and quantities of the above named speci- 
mens, to be collected and preserved for the purpose of ex- 
changes with other state universities and scientific institu- 
tions, of which latter the Smithsonian Institution at Washing- 
ton shall have the preference." 



STATE ZO«»LOGIST. 

Certainly no zoiUogist will complain that this law is too nar- 
row and irrational, for section 3 alone commands for kim a 
field so wide as to call for all lines of zoological investigation. 
There are, however, certain lines of investigation universally 
recognized as coming particularly within the scope of such 
state surveys. But even such investigations almost invariably 
demand others that at first sight seem foreign. 

The intensely practical man is almost always really the most 
unpractical, and the greatest obstacle to progress. He will pooh 
— pooh the investigation of the habits and life history and 
structure of an unpalatable sucker or the "insignificant" 
stickle back and demand the investigation of the bass and 
other food fish only, entirely loosing sight of the fact that the 
one serves as food for some of his favorite fish and the other 
wages ruinous war against them. 

Many similar examples clearly show up the folly of trying to 
consider only that which we can immediately utilize, and usu- 
ally convince the short-sighted that we can not intelligently 
and successfully manage the one in ignorance of the other. 
Too many of us forget that what we now call applied science 
was at one time considered pure science, and that it is a ques- 
tion whether the Edisous or the Webers, Faradays and Frank- 
lins have done most for the comfort of mankind, and whether 
the zor)logists, who through years of patient work gathered 
the life histories of many of our parasites, thus dispelling the 
dark cloud of superstition and suggesting a rational treatment 
for many diseases and giving to everj^ one the simplest means 
of protection, should not be classed among the most practical. 

If the results of the patient work of honest investigators of 
past generations are to-day wielded by the most mechanical 
laborer, what is to keep the work of the so called scientist 
from becoming a tool for the comfort and happiness of future 
generations ? Indeed are we not reminded on all sides that 
the more thorough our knowledge of the things and phe- 
nomena about us becomes through observation and experi 
ment, the better do we utilize them and the more uniform and 
generally accepted become our interpretations. And does the 
intellectual work and triumph mean nothing to any or all of us? 

The universe is a whole and not a collection of absolute in 
dependents, and no line or kind of work, however purely 
scientific it may appear at the time, can be carried on without 
sooner or later becoming evident and universally tangible in 
some practical form. 



6 FIRST REPORT 

Still, while we recognize that the investigation of one animal 
points to the necessity of investigating others, that one sub- 
ject always leads to another and one problem inevitably sug- 
gests one or more others, we must admit that certain lines 
of zoological investigation were hardly contemplated in the 
organization of the survey, and more properly come under 
the purview of the University. As a matter of fact, we must 
somewhat circumscribe the work of a state survey, always, 
however, with the understanding that exigencies may arise 
demanding a widening of the circle. 

In accordance with the view indicated above, the present 
plan of the State Zoologist contemplates primarily the scienti- 
fic investigation of all those animals of direct economic im- 
portance, and, in accordance with section 6 of the law, the 
collecting and placing on exhibition in the museum represen- 
tative specimens of the animals of the state in such a way as 
to give them an educational value rather than a mere display 
value. 

The museum has been furnished with new cases, and the 
fauna of the state can be placed on proper exhibition just as 
fast as the material is collected and prepared and the necessary 
money is placed at the disposal of the curator. 

The importance, or rather the necessity of at once beginning 
the formation of a representative collection of the animals of 
the State, will certainly not need urging when the present con- 
dition of the museum is taken into account. 

Strange as it may seem, it is nevertheless true that not- 
withstanding the fact several papers have been published on a 
few groups of animals found in the state, the museum practi- 
cally has none of the material upon which these papers were 
based. Indeed in some cases there apparently was not even 
an attempt made to preserve the specimens that served for the 
description of new species, and we have absolutely nothing 
here for comparison. Comment on such methods of work is unnec- 
essary. Of the collection here now, many specimens are not even 
good show specimens. Many are without any data whatever, 
and many have only the name of the taxidermist added, while 
others have data so obviously out of place that they are 
practically valueless. Many of the really valuable things 
have been badly damaged by moths and other injurious in- 
sects, and the fire of two years ago and neglect previous to 
that time more or less injured everything. An amusing group 
is quite a collection of animals purchased to represent the 



STATE ZOr>LOGIST. 7 

fauna of Minnesota at the New Orleans Exposition. As one 
looks at the pronghorn, the grizzly, the three-toed sloth, the 
iguana, the toucans, the bird of paradise, etc., etc., the ques- 
tion naturally arises, when did Minnesota have such a fauna, 
and how were the animals preserved? It is to be hoped the 
exhibition at the coming World's Fair will not repeat this 
ludicrous spectacle. The facts noted above in connection with 
the fact that some animals formerly abundant in Minnesota no 
longer even merely visit the state, and some of those still 
within our borders are being rapidly driven out of the state, 
certainly point to the necessity of at once beginning to collect 
and properly preserve, with data, representative specimens of 
the fauna of the state. In accordance with this conviction, 
and a desire to enlist the cooperation of all those favorably 
located in the state, directions for collecting, preserving and 
shipping specimens of animals are now being prepared for 
gratuitous distribution to all interested in the work of the 
survey. 

It must not be supposed, however, that we are attempting 
to build up a general museum. Such a museum is impractical 
at present and doubtfully desirable. At present we are 
aiming at a comprehensive local state collection. 

The most valuable portion of any museum is always that 
which is not prepared for display but is set aside in proper 
rooms for reference and comparison. Of such a collection we 
have as yet hardly a beginning. The working collection, how- 
ever, has been begun and an earnest effort will be made to 
preserve in proper form and keep accessible all specimens that 
serve as the basis for descriptions of new species or varieties 
or that show interesting modifications or illustrate facts of 
distribution and habit. In a few years this so-called working 
collection will be far more valuable than the fine specimens on 
exhibition and will require much less room, money and care. 

The groups of animals to which special attention is at pres- 
ent being given by the field workers are : — the fishes, the 
birds, the reptilia and batrachia, and the mammals. Other 
classes are by no means neglected. Some lines of investiga- 
tion, however important, can not be undertaken at present for 
the want of laboratory facilities at the proper place. A lake- 
side, or rather fresh-water biological station, is an imperative 
necessity, and such a laboratory under the care of the Univer- 
sity ought to be established now. In addition to being a place 
for investigators it could be a resort for the ' 'science teachers' ' 



8 FIRST REPORT 

of the state, where, during the summer vacations, they could 
gain that knowledge of facts and methods at first hand so 
much needed by many of them to enable them to properly 
teach botany, physiology and zoology. The mere associa- 
tion of such teachers with the students carrying on original 
investigations would be of incalculable value. 

For a number of years marine biological stations, usually 
called zo5logical stations, have offered opportunities for the 
study of marine life in various parts of the world and have 
annually attracted great scientists from all civilized countries. 
The enthusiasm and satisfaction with which their work has 
been received in every civilized community, and the practical re- 
sults traceable to their influence are a sufficient justification for 
their existence. Indeed to-day they are just as much a nec- 
essity as the university laboratories. While the number of 
marine biological stations has increased to ten or more, the 
establishment of fresh-water biological stations has been 
attempted in but few places, so that to-day only one or two 
properly equipped are in existence in Europe, and none in 
this country. The reasons for the preferences thus indicated 
may briefly be stated to be: — (1) Man's desire to discover, and 
to see that about which he knows nothing from direct observa- 
tion. (2) The fact that hitherto the problems in zoiUogy have 
been largely morphological problems, and these point to the 
seas for solutions. For in the oceans we see the vast original 
home with a uniformity and constancy of environment and 
gradual transitions not met with elsewhere. Moreover the 
oceans are so densely populated that t.-e patient and thought- 
ful investigator has never been disappointed. 

There is, however, abundant evidence on hand in the works 
of great men showing that not even all the morphological 
problems are to find their solutions in the study of only marine 
forms, and that what we would expect on a priori grounds 
actual observation and investigation demonstrate. And while 
the conditions of life in the ocean may be characterized as 
quite uniform, those on land and in fresh-water must be char- 
acterized as very variable, and consequently demanding more 
varied adaptations and thus naturally leading to a higher 
development. In view of this it becomes evident that the 
problems relating more particularly to the physiological side 
of living things are to be solved principally at fresh-water 
stations and not at marine stations. The fresh-water biologi- 
cal laboratory therefore has a special field of work in phys- 



STATE ZOOLOGIST. 9 

iology and enough in morphology and embryology to keep it 
from becoming perniciously exclusive. Aside from the nec- 
essity of such a laboratory for the survey work it must be said 
that no state offers more to such a station than our own. We 
have all the natural conditions in the way of lakes and streams 
and ' geographical position. In a country of such great dis- 
tances it is impractical for many to go to the marine stations. 
Others who feel that in the future they will have to deal with 
land and fresh-water forms think it a waste of time and money 
to study marine life. A sojourn of several months at a well 
equipped inland station would convince such of their mistake 
and prepare them for better work. To our army of teachers 
such a station at one of our principal lakes could offer an 
opportunity during the summer months of becoming ac- 
quainted with the modern methods of teaching the biological 
sciences by being taught themselves how to make the most 
out of the material and apparatus at their command. From 
lectures and demonstrations and through association with 
advanced students and investigators they would gather the 
general principles and laws of biology as known at the time 
and would unconsciously catch the spirit that would place 
them in the proper attitude toward the biological sciences. 
The time for establishing a fresh-water biological laboratory 
■ in Minnesota is ripe, and no citizen can more effectually per 
petaate his name than by endowing and equipping such a 
laboratory as indicated, and his investment can not be made 
more safely and profitably than under the care of the Univer- 
sity of Minnesota. 

HENRY F. NACHTRIEB, 

State Zoologist, 
University of Minnesota. 
June 1, 1892. 



The Geological and Natural History Survey of 

Minnesota. 



NOTES ON 

THE BIRDS OF MmNESOTA, 



WITH 



SPECIFIC CHAPvACI EES. 

By P. L. HATCH, M. D. 



PREFATORY STATEMENT. 

As the author intimates in his Preface, the manuscript for the "Notes" 
was begun several years ago and has been ready for publication for 
some time. 

The work represented by the "Notes," was begun a number of years 
ago, when the State Geologist, Prof. N.H. Winchell, still superintended all 
the wo'-k of The Geological and Natural History Survey. It is therefore 
but just to Prof. Winchell (and to myself also), to state that in calling 
upon Dr. Hatch for his manuscript and seeing it through the press, I 
have (for reasons that will become evident in future publications), not 
assumed any editorial responsibilities, but have, as State Zoologist, 
simply discharged a duty the "Survey" owes the author, who years ago 
was requested by Prof. Winchell to write this report and who has spent 
much time and money upon it. 

It has been impossible to refer any portion of the proof to the author 
or to consult him in regard to style of type, etc. For this reason special 
care was taken in reading the proof, and as the manuscript had all 
"passed" before the author forwarded it to me from the far west, and I 
had the final proof carefully compared with the manuscript, the author 
will not, I trust, be misrepresented. Naturally, however, some things 
will appear that the author would have eliminated or modified. Circum- 
stances and time would not permit, and I trust this will to some extent 
mollify the critics. 

It is a matter of no small regret that the bird material, upon which 
this report is based, is not the property of the "Survey" and is not acces- 
sible for reference and comparison. All of it ought to be here, properly 
preserved and labelled. But 1 have considered this subiect elsewhere 
and need not consider it any further here. 

HENRY F. NACHTRIEB, 

State Zoologist, 
University of Minnesota. 



PREFACE. 

It is due to myself as well as the public, that I should say 
the great delay in the publishing of this volume has been from 
causes beyond my personal responsibility. I have regretted it 
on account of some misapprehensions that have arisen, but it 
is said that "All is well which ends well,"' and half of the 
quotation is assuredly true in this case, for this ends it. 

The magnitude of the task so zealously conceived and under- 
taken, was greatly understimated, yet the earnest employment 
of all of my opportunities enabled me to approximate my 
ideal for a time, when an interruption of several years occur- 
red, after which it became impossible to maintain more than is 
shown by the completed work. 

The classification is that established by the American Orni- 
thological Union, and published in 1886. Each species given 
has its corresponding number, and except in occasional in- 
stances, the descriptions mostly correspond with those given 
in the Pacific Railroad Reports, and the measurements are in 
inches and hundredths of an inch. 

While I have aimed to make it as nearly correct in its state- 
ments of facts observed as is possible, I do not flatter myself 
that errors have not found their way into this record through 
so many years of observations, which others may ultimately 
correct. P. L. HATCH. 

August 16, 1892. 



Older PYGOPODES. 



Family PODICIPID^. 

.ECHMOPHORUS OCCIDENTALIS (Lawrence). (1.) 

WESTERN GREBE. 

Although during the period in which I have been an observer 
of the birds in Minnesota very few of this species have been 
seen by myself, nor reported by others whose observations 
could be implicitly relied upon, I am able to record enough to 
give it "a name and a place" in the fauna of our state. I first 
met with an individual specimen in the collection of a German 
living in St. Paul in 1859, and in 1861 I saw one amongst the 
collections of Mr. Shroeder of the same city; but it first came 
into my hands by my own gun in May of 1869, on the Red 
River, and again in 1870 through the kindness of Mr. J. J. 
Jamison, an eastern gentleman of amateur scientific proclivi- 
ties who was shooting ducks in the autumn of that year at Big- 
stone Lake. It was alone, and entirely unsuspecting to all 
appearance. It was a mature male, and in good plumage, 
meeting all the measures given in the descriptions of the ninth 
volume of the Pacific Railroad Reports. Not until the spring 
of 1883 did I see one again, and then in the same locality, or 
within a few miles of it, on the Red River near Moorhead. It 
has been several times reported without any verifications, one 
of which was presumptively reliable, but as the party did not 
regard its identification of sufficient importance to give me an 
opportunity to endorse his own, I made no record of it amongst 
my notes. In 1872. while collecting extensively in Santa Clara 
county, California, I found it common for the species in Drink- 
water Lake, a sort of lagoon some 12 miles south of San Jose 
and a few miles within the limits of Sacramento, and in several 
other kindred localities; but exceedingly common in March at 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 5 

Old town, San Diego. Although the eggs have often been 
found on the Pacific coast, none have ever come to my notice 
here. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper part of head and nape of neck, fuliginous black; back 
and wing-coverts grayish-black, the feathers margined with 
gray; primaries light, ashy-brown, darker at the end and 
white at the base; secondaries white, marked with ash on the 
outer webs (occasionally white); space between the bill and 
eye gray; throat, sides of neck, and entire under plumage, 
silver-w^hite; sides marked with grayish-black; bill dusky, or 
nearly black, except the cutting edges and end, which are 
yellow; iris orange; tarsi and feet grayish- black externally, 
flesh color, internally. 

Length, 28; wing, 8; bill, 3; tarsus, 3. 

Habitat, Western North America, eastward to Manitoba. 

COLYMBIS HOLBCELLII (Reinhart). (2.) 

RED- NECKED GREBE. 

It is my pleasure to say that I am indebted to Mr. J. N. San- 
ford, of Elbow Lake, in Grant county, for my first knowledge 
of the presence of this species of the Grebe family in the state, 
and accompanying the information so much esteemed, he sent 
through me to the Minnesota Academy of Natural Sciences 
four eggs in prime condition for preservation, which he had 
obtained in his vicinity in July, 1880. These eggs measured 
1.95 by 1.23: 2.00 by 1.25: 1.85 by 1.15 and 1.90 by 1.20. The 
color when so fresh was a rather pale, greenish-white and was 
uniform. The nest was described as being near to the water, 
and consisting of coarse, rank marsh weeds, placed on a bunch 
of the same materials in a marshy locality. He has been a 
close observer of the water birds especially, and has contributed 
some interesting and valuable facts respecting the breeding 
habits of several species found in his section. Since those 
days my opportunities for learning more of the local habits of 
the species have been good. Without being abundant any- 
where in Minnesota, it is nevertheless not to be accounted rare, 
for its species in the sparsely settled districts characterized by 
wet, pondy prairies. I have found it in my own county at such 
times as to make it reasonably certain that it breeds in such 
localities as are largely secluded, and embracing ponds and 
small lakes bordered by reedy marshes. I find individuals of 
this species in Fillmore, Carver, Otter Tail and Grant counties, 



6 NOTES ON THE 

and have many reports of its presence in several others. As 
long since noticed by bird observers, the young of the Red- 
necked and Crested Grebes resemble each other so much as to 
make their differences impossible to define. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper plumage blackish brown, the upper part of the head 
and neck behind, black; primaries ashy-brown; secondaries 
mostly white, except a few of the inner ones which are dark 
ash; cheeks and throat ash gray; a white line from the lower 
mandible under and beyond the eye; forepart and sides of neck 
rich, brownish red; lower parts silvery white, sides dusky; bill 
black, pale at the end, and bright yellow at the base; iris car- 
mine; tarsi and feet externally greenish black, internally yel- 
low. 

Length, 18; wing, 7; bill, 1.25; tarsus, 2. 

Habitat, North America at large. 

Note. Since writing the above I have learned more of the 
local habits of this Grebe and can add that its food is mostly 
aquatic worms and larvas with some minnows. It is no 
trivial thing to bag one of them on account of his unremitting 
vigilance, and his expertness in diving and remaining seem- 
ingly a long time submerged, which however is not so long as 
it seems, for when he returns to the surface he only exposes 
the bill and enough of the head to bring his eyes into use while 
the body is kept completely concealed. The power to do this 
continuously for a considerable time, belongs to the entire 
family, and to few if any others so perfectly. In this sub- 
merged condition they will swim so gently and so evenly as to 
elude the observation of most persons until they have learned 
to detect them, after which there is little difficulty. 

COLYMBUS AITRITU8 L (3 ) 
HORNED GREBE. 

Although not universally distributed throughout the state, 
the Horned Grebes are fairly common in many sections. Pools, 
ponds and sloughs in open districts and bottoin lands are its 
favorite localities for breeding. Hence, I am not surprised to 
have Dr. Hvoslef report it as breeding in the vicinity of Lanes- 
boro, Fillmore county, along our southern borders, and would 
have expected Mr. Washburn to do so along the Red River, as 
Dr. Coues* had done several years earlier. Indeed I have 
had individuals sent to me by hunters from a dozen or more 
localities, most of which have been in prairie regions to the 
north and west of Minneapolis and St. Paul. It breeds occa- 
sionally in the vicinity of Waseca * * and at Bigstone Lake. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. ( 

*** The earliest record I have of its arrival in spring is 
April 23d, but reliable observers give a much earlier date. 
The nesting is begun by the 20th of May. The structures are 
quite bulky, and consist of old reeds principally, placed on a 
tussock of the same material and rudely embracing surround- 
ing erect stalks. Not infrequently they are entirely sur- 
rounded with water, but more often on the wet land a few feet 
from the shores of a slough. The excavation is exceedingly 
superficial, but contains from 7 to 10 eggs, originally grayish 
or yellowish white, that soon become very much soiled by the 
rotten reeds and filthy feet of the denizen. The young take 
to the water at once. The fact that they have been seen swimming 
with the parent as early as the first week in May, and at the 
tenderest age as late as the 3rd of August, suggests more than 
one brood in a season. I have no conclusive evidence that they 
do not breed twice. They linger quite late in the autumn, but 
are so infrequently observed that the proximate date of their 
migration southward is still unknown to me. 

Like the other species of the genus, they have the faculty of 
depressing their bodies below the surface of the water in which 
they are swimming, at will, in the presence of danger. A good 
field glass will find at such times only the bill and eyes above 
the water. 

*Birds of the N. W., p. T32. 

**Edward Everett. Notes from Waseca. 

***Correspondence of Mr. L. Froman. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS 

Upper part of head, cheeks, throat and ruff, glossy black; a 
broad band from the bill over the eye, and the elongated oc- 
cipital tufts behind them, yellowish-red. color deepest next the 
bill; upper surface brownish-black, each feather margined with 
gray; primaries brownish-ash, secondaries mostly white, some 
of the outer ones dark ash; fore neck and upper part of breast 
bright chestnut-red, sides of the same color, mixed with dusky; 
abdomen silky white; bill bluish black, yellow at the tip; loral 
space bright carmine; iris carmine, with an inner circle of 
white; tarsi and feet dusky gray externally, dull yellow inter- 
nally, and on both edges of the tarsus. 

Length. 14; wing, 6; bill, 1; tarsi, 2. 

Habitat, Northern America. 

The foregoing is the description of the vernal plumage, the 
autumnal being much less striking. In the former they are 
sometimes found in considerable flocks, disporting themselves 
in the bays of our lakes and in the streams which supply 
them. Their smooth, rapid natation and wholesale diving 
at such times is marvelous and eminently characteristic. 

2z 



b NOTES ON THE 

I have never as yet found them in flocks in autumn, but always 
in family parties and pairs, and almost never at that season upon 
the wing. They seem to follow the water courses and migrate 
southward about the first week in November. Their move- 
ments are made in the earliest part of the morning and at twi- 
light in the evening, swimming silently along, close under the 
overhanging banks and reeds singly, from five to twenty yards 
apart. When suddenly surprised, instead of taking to wing 
they dive, and after swimming considerable distances deep 
under the water they rise close to the shore, where, concealed 
by debris, or grass and reeds, with only the bill and eyes ex- 
posed, they remain until all danger has disappeared. None 
but the closest observers can know for themselves when or how 
they leave us in fall migration. Their food consists largely of 
water beetles, larvae and "small fry." 

€0LYMBIIS NIGRICOLLIS CALIFORNICI S(Heermann)(4) 

AMERICAN EARED GREBE. 

I list the Eared Grebe upon specimens found mounted in 
collections from time to time through many years of local 
observation, two of which are now in the collections of the 
Academy of Sciences at Philadelphia, I think. All were re- 
putedly obtained within the limits of Minnesota. 

Having met with the species at San Diego, California, in 1870, 
I had no difficulty in identifying them at once. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head and upper part of neck black; rest of upper parts 
brownish-black; wings grayish- brown, with a broad patch of 
white; throat, fore part and sides of neck dull black, its lower 
part with some spots of the same; rest of lower parts glossy, 
silvery white, excepting the sides of the body and rump, which 
are light red; bill black, tinged with blue; iris blood red, feet 
dusky-gray externally, internally greenish -gray; tufts on sides 
of head orange, yellower anteriorly, and posteriorly red. 

Length, 13; wing, 5; bill, 1, tarsus. 1^. 

Habitat, Mississippi river to Pacific and northward. 

PODILYMBUS PODICEPS (L.). (6.) 
PIED-BILLED GREBE 

This is by far the most numerously represented species of the 
Grebe family in Minnesota. There are few ponds, sloughs, or 
lakes where ducks are found, that do not contain a few of 
■them. They arrive early, and they stay late, often until only 
small openings in the ice remain before the final closing for the 
long Minnesota winter. Breeding presumably in nearly all the 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA, 9 

localities where found, they so effectually conceal their nests 
that they are very rarely obtained. But where they have been 
found the nest was uniformly formed of partially decayed 
reeds, with perhaps a portion of coarse, sedgy grass in the 
employment of which little architectural design is evident. 
As in the case of the other Grebes, there is a redundancy of 
material, but so rudely disposed as to lead any one in search of 
the nest to suppose it to be a mere heap of drift from high 
water in spring, the eggs having been left concealed by the 
disposition of rotten reeds and grass over them. None I have 
seen have contained more than five or less than three eggs of a 
soiled, yellowish -white color. Pot-hunters "of the baser sort" 
call them Hell-divers, and only the downy-chinned variety spend 
any ammunition on them, as they disappear with ghost- like 
celerity on their approach. Only their bills rise agam until 
the hunter is finally gone. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper plumage, very dark-brown; primaries, dark-ash; 
secondaries, ash on the outer webs and white on the inner; 
cheeks, and sides of neck, brownish-gray; chin and throat 
marked with a conspicuous black patch nearly two inches in 
extent; lower part of neck, upper part of breast and sides, dull 
rusty-brown, spotted and rather indistinctly barred with 
brownish-black; lower part of breast and abdomen grayish - 
white, mottled with dusky spots; bill pale-blue, dusky on the 
ridge of the upper mandible, a broad black band across both 
mandibles and including the nostrils; iris, brown; tarsi and 
feet, grayish- black. 

Length, 14; wing, 5^; tarsus, 1\. 

Habitat, both Americas. 

With nothing economic, nor esthetic to commend it to the at- 
tention of men, women or hunters, (who contemptuously call 
it Dab-chick, Water-witch, or ••Hell-diver ') it is left solely to 
the heritage of the naturalist. I think the popular cognomen 
of • 'Water witch" should be preferred, their habits in diving 
and concealing themselves affording a shadowy but plausible 
reason for the choice. Mr. Holzinger gives this species as 
breeding around Lake Winona, and Mr. Washburn found it 
abundant at Ada and at Thief river. It is universally distri- 
buted. The food consists of small fishes, aquatic worms and 
plants. 



10 NOTES ON THE 



Family URIKATOHID^ (The Loons.) 

URINATOR IMBER (Gunner). (7.) 
LOON. 

I found this Loon abundantly represented for its species 
when I came to the then territory of Minnesota in 1857, but 
supposed that the general settlement of the country would soon 
decimate them. In this I was mistaken, for there has been no 
diminution of their relative numbers in any general section 
which I know of, while in others, there has been an apprecia- 
ble increase. The earliest openings in the lakes not infre- 
quently are occupied by one of them, and there is no time during 
the entire summer when they may not be seen in those lakes 
known to be their favorite resorts. They are not found in the 
smaller ponds ordinarily, preferring those more abundantly 
supplied with fish and offering better security from the hun- 
ter's gun by its expanse. Their weird, solitary notes, as well as 
their dignified demeanor when undisturbed, give little intima 
tion of their social vivacity after the young have become grown 
and strong. Who would prove this must be willing to quit his 
couch early, before the family has been broken by the depar- 
ture of the male to his solitary haunts and the female has sent 
the young hither and thither in search of their own food, which 
takes place before the sun has been long risen. It has been 
my privilege to witness some scenes of their matutinal jollifica- 
tions, which have always occurred at the earliest dawn, and 
have terminated with the advent of the sun. The night is 
spent in proximity to each other on the water, somewhat re- 
moved from the land. And in the earliest morning the notes of 
parent male soon call out a response from the other members 
of the family, when they all draw near, and after cavourting 
around each other after the manner of graceful skaters for a 
brief time, they fall into line, side by side, and lifting their 
wings simultaneously, they start off in a foot race on the water 
like a line of school children, running with incredible speed a 
full quarter of a mile without lowering their wings or pausing 
an instant, wheel around in a short circle, (in which some of 
them get a little behind) and retrace their course to the place 
of starting. This race, after but a moment's pause, is repeated 
over and over again, with unabated zest, until by some undis- 
coverable signal it ceases as suddenly as it began. Its termin- 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 11 

ation is characterized by a subsequent general congratulation 
manifested by the medly of Loon notes. The walking or rather 
running upon the face of the quiet lake waters, is a marvel of 
pedal performance, so swiftly do the thin, sharp legs move in 
the race, the wings being continuously held at about half 
extent. Soon after this is over, the male parent takes to wing 
to seek his food in some distant part of the same or some other 
lake, which is soon followed by the departure of the female in 
another direction, while the young swim away in various 
directions to seek their supplies nearer the place of nightly 
rendezvous. Their nests are not infrequently found, and 
always either on the main land near the water or on the islands. 
Occasionally one has been reported as found upon a muskrat's 
pile. Several may nest quite near each other, particularly on 
undisturbed islands. To construct them, a large quantity of 
weeds and grass is gathered into a pile, into which a depres- 
sion is made a foot or more in diameter, in which are deposited 
usually three olivaceous, brown eggs, varying from 3i to 
nearly 4 inches in length. The earliest young have been seen 
in the water by the second week in June. By the middle of 
September, they have reached their full development. Most 
of the members of this species are driven away by the 25th of 
November, but occasionally an individual remains all winter, 
as I have learned, notably along the St. Peter's river, where 
numerous large springs have kept considerable areas free from 
ice. Their very remarkable plumage is only fully attained at 
their third year. The younger birds precede the others in mi- 
gration from one to two weeks. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head and neck black, upper part and sides of head glossed 
with purple; a small transverse mark on the throat composed 
of white feathers, quill-like in form, distinct from each other 
and placed longitudinally on each side of the neck; lower down 
are large patches of white, of the same peculiar pattern, and 
running in the same direction, nearly meeting behind, and in 
front are about an inch apart; upper plumage and wing coverts 
deep, glossy black, with pure white spots placed in regular 
transverse rows, slightly curved downwards; these spots on 
the upper part of the back, are small and nearly round, but 
descending lower on the back, increase in size and become 
quadrangular in form, being largest on the scapulars; on the 
lower part of the back, upper tail coverts, and sides which are 
black, the spots are small and round; the sides of the neck 
near the shoulder lineated with black and white; the primaries, 
secondaries, and tail, brownish-black; the under surface, 



12 NOTES ON THE 

glossy-white, with a narrow band of dusky feathers crossing- 
the lower part of the abdomen, and marked with small white 
spots; lower tail coverts, blackish-brown, tipped with white; 
bill, black, compressed, strong and tapering; outline of upper 
mandible, nearly straight, very slightly curved; the lower 
mandible has a groove underneath running from the junction 
of the crora towards the point; the tail consists of twenty 
feathers. 

Length, 30; wing, 14; tarsus, 3; bill, 3; height at base, 1. 

Habitat, north portion of Northern Hemisphere. 

Though fish and frogs are preferably their food, they do 
nicely without them when supplied with aquatic vegetation. If 
undisturbed by being fired at, they will visit the same localities 
daily during the season for their food. 

Note. This interesting bird has increased in relative num- 
bers on our larger lakes of late years, nothwithstanding the 
greater number of persons who visit them, and on which boys 
and sportsjiien (?) are tacitly allowed to shoot at them to their 
heart's content, as they rarely hit them. I had supposed that 
unless the firing was arrested, they would desert these favorite 
resorts, like White Bear, Waseca, and Minnetonka. Mr. Wil- 
liam Howling and Son of East Minneapolis presented me with 
the most beautiful and jDerfect specimen of Loon I have ever 
seen a few years ago, except that the tip of the bill is hooked. 
There are no indications of it having been produced by injury, 
but the flexion downward is smooth and perfectly turned, 
Query: — Is it a case of evolution avaunt? 

LRINATOR ARCTICUS (L.). (9.) 

BLACK-THROATED LOON. 

In the local observations of this exceedingly rarely seen 
Loon, we have an instance of the folly of making positive 
declarations of the limitations of the habitat of species before 
the fullest attainments from observations have been reached. 
The extremely pernicious practice of ambitious writers in 
anticipating the final testimonies of science in every depart- 
ment of investigation, has led to evils enough to lead to its 
abandonment long ago, but it is probable that the world will 
have to wait for the Millennium before the truth can be waited 
for till all the facts are in, and then, we devoutly hope the said 
writers will be better employed. The conservative A. O. U. 
have magnanimously allowed the Black- throated Loon to visit 
the Northern United States in winter. Prom the winter of 
1858 till that of 1869, eleven years, this very northern bird 
came indisputably within the range of my field glass in five of 
them, but I found it impossible to secure one for the reason 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 13 

that it was always in, or near an opening in the lakes where 
concealment in approaching near enough to secure it was 
impossible. My hope of finding some venturesome individual 
occupying such an opening in the Mississippi, as the Scoters 
had done from winter to winter, was never realized, so the good 
field glass must alone be credited with my observations. From 
the time of my last date, the opportunity to see them was inter- 
rupted by several winters absence, and the places in which I 
had made my previous observations had come to be encroached 
upon by approximate settlements to such an extent as to drive 
them elsewhere I suppose. I am satisfied that they have been 
seen by others who supposed them to be individuals of another 
species, namely the Red-throated Divers. 

The only mounted specimen that I have ever seen under cir- 
cumstances to make me believe that it had been obtained within 
my province of observations could not be vouched for as having 
been gotten in it, and I have therefore waited some good for- 
tune to learn more about this rarely seen Loon. 

URINATOR LUMME (Gunner). (11.) 

RED THROATED LOON. 

The Red-throated Loon is a fairly regular winter visitant of 
our domains, and while lacking the necessary positive proof of 
its breeding on the shores of Lake Superior within the borders 
of Minnesota, I have abundant circumstantial reasons for 
thinking it does. 

It has been seen and, if I may trust the popular descriptions, 
it has been killed, several times in the vicinity of Duluth by 
pothunters in the period of presumptive incabation, yet I have 
never known of the nests having been seen, and if they have 
been seen they have not been recognized as other than the 
common Loons although those of this species are much the 
smaller of the two. Through exchange, I have come into the 
possession of what are said to be those of this bird. 

There are very considerable variations in the size of the eggs 
of the entire genus, and in those of the Red-throats it is from 
2.60 by 1.70 to 3.00 by 1.90. The color and markings are pre- 
cicsely like those of the other species. I am informed ihat the 
nests are even less mechanical in their structure, and, like those 
of the others, are quite near the water, to which their beaten 
paths lead from several directions. 



14 NOTES ON THE 



SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 



Upper part of the head, front, sides of head, upper part of 
throat, and sides of neck, bluish-gray ; hind neck streaked 
longitudinally with white on a greenish background, the white 
feathers being raised above the others; on the forepart of the 
neck is a large longitudinal patch of deep reddish brown; 
upper plumage brownish black slightly tinged with green, and 
on the upper part of the back and lower part and sides of the 
neck, streaked with and mottled with white; wings and tail 
brownish black; under plumage pure white with a band across 
the hinder part of the abdomen, and the lower tail coverts, 
brownish gray; bill bluish black; iris bright red; tarsi and feet 
brownish black externally, internally pale flesh color; claws 
yellowish at the base, and dusky at the end. 

Length, 27; wing, 11.50; tail, 2.50; bill, 2.25; tarsus, 2.75. 

Habitat, northern part of Northern Hemisphere, migrating 
southward in winter nearly across the United States. 



Older LONGIPEXNES. 



Family LARID^. 

RISSA TRIDACTYLA (L.). (40.) 

KITTIWAKE. 

The Kittiwake is a regular spring and fall migrant, spend- 
ing its winters far to the south, returning here from the 25th 
of March to the 10th of April, remaining for only about eight 
or ten days, and then passing on further north to breed. Cir- 
cumstances connected with my observations of the gulls 
migrating through the portion of the State where my principal 
personal observations have been made, lead me to believe that 
this species breeds on the islands of a number of our northern 
lakes. I hope to be able to settle many facts in connection 
with the gulls in the near future, which it has been impossi- 
ble to do up to the present time. The young may be seen at 
Bigstone lake, Mille Lacs lake and along the Red river as 
early as the 15th of August in ordinary seasons, and always 
the last week in October, in considerable numbers. As the 
Kittiwake Gulls are known to breed ' ' as far south as Bird 
Rock, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence " (Langille) there can be no 
valid reason to doubt their doing so in the vicinities referred 
to in Minnesota. Their food while with us consists of tish. 
molluscs, aquatic larvae, and small water snakes. 

Samuels (Birds of New England) says, "The nest is com- 
posed of seaweeds arranged in a large pile, and placed on a 
ledge of rock in a crevice, or on a jutting shelf, and is occupied 
for successive years, receiving additional material every year. 
The eggs are three in number. Their form is ovoidal; the 
color varies from a creamy drab, with a very slight olivaceous 
tint to a delicate gray. On this are scattered blotches of 



16 NOTES ON THE 

different shades of brown, and obscure spots and blotches 
of lilac/' They measure usually about 2.20 by 1.60, but often 
somewhat less. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head, neck, entire under plumage, rump and tail, white; 
back and wings light bluish-gray; the ends of the five outer 
primaries, and the outer web of the first, black; fourth and 
fifth have small white tips; bill greenish-yellow; iris reddish- 
brown; legs and feet brownish-black, with a green tinge. 

Length, 17; wing, 12; tail, 6; bill, 1.50; tarsus, 1.25. 

Habitat, northern America. 

LARUS 4RGENTATUS SMITHSONIANUS Coues. (51.) 

AMERICAN HERRING GULL. 

This beautiful Gull arrives in the lower part of the State 
about the first of April, and works its way northward so delib- 
erately as to make it not improbable that individuals may be 
seen almost any spring as late as the 10th of May. None 
remain in the middle and southern parts of the State through 
the summer, but there is scarcely a doubt left, in the absence 
of absolute certainty, that they breed at Mille Lacs lake, and 
other large northern lakes, within our boundary. Local obser- 
vers report several different kinds of Gulls breeding on the 
infrequented islands of those lakes, and Mr. Washburn found 
from their size abundant reason for believing them to be this 
species. In his visit to Otter Tail county in the latter part of 
October he found them at Dead lake in considerable numbers 
associated with other species of Gulls. "At Lake Mille Lacs," 
he says *' after the wind has been blowing from the east a day 
or more, these Gulls and the two following species, viz. ; L. 
delawarensis and L. Philadelphia, are plenty along the west 
shore, flying up and down the beach, and occasionally alighting 
to pick up soft lacustrine molluscs washed ashore with the 
weed matter. About two miles from the southwestern shore 
of the lake lie three barren, rocky islands that are much fre- 
quented by Gulls in the breeding season. 

"The larger of the three, called Stone island, (Spirit island 
by the Indians) containing about three-fourths of an acre, and 
with its top about 20 feet above the surface of the water, af- 
fords on its rocky surface a nesting place for hundreds of Gulls. " 

From about the 20th of September this species begins to ap- 
pear in the lakes in gradually increasing numbers, the last of 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 17 

which do not leave us until late in October. While here they 
spend much of the time in considerable flocks on the middle of 
the ordinary sized lakes, except during the prevalence of high 
winds, when they are seen almost constantly on the wing. Dr. 
Hvoslef reports it as having about the same local history in 
Fillmore county, and Mr. P. H. Clague, of Herman, Grant 
county, has long noticed them on the lakes in the vicinity of 
that place. 

The nest is said to consist of dried grass, lichens, moss, 
small sticks, &c., in profusion, deeply depressed in the center, 
and contains three olivaceous drab eggs, varying to much 
lighter shades, blotched and spattered with dark to light brown 
and faint purple. They vary much in size and measurements, 
averaging about 2. 50 by 2 inches. Many of them are quite in- 
distinguishable from those of the other species of the same 
genus. 

The Herring Gull is a magnificent bird under any circum- 
stances, but especially when leisurely floating upon the wing, 
turning his head from side to side in his unremitting vigilance 
to secure his food. As with the entire family, the telescopic 
vision never fails to spy instantly the merest fragment within 
possible range, for which it plunges with unerring aim. 

In both migrations, embracing a considerable period in the 
autumn, they are abundant in numbers and flocks, remaining 
many times until completely frozen out of the lakes and streams 
that supply them their special food. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head, neck, under parts, rump, and tail pure white; back 
and wings light pearl-blue; first six primaries marked towards 
their ends with black, which begins on the first about 
half its length from the end, and is rapidly lessened on the 
others until it becomes only a subterminal bar on the sixth; 
primaries all tipped with white; on the first quill it is about an 
inch and a half in extent, cmssed near the end by a black bar, 
on the second quill there is a round white spot on the inner 
web near the end; secondaries and tertiaries broadly ending 
with white; bill bright yellow, with an orange spot near the 
end of the lower mandible; legs and feet flesh color; iris 
white. (Young, mottled with light grayish-brown and dull 
white; primaries and bill brownish-black, latter yellowish at 
base. ) 

Length, 23; wing, 18; bill, 2i; tarsus, 24. 



18 NOTES ON THE 

LARIS DELAWARENSIS Ord. (54.) 
RING-BILLED GULL. 

The Ring-billed Gulls have become much more numerous 
through a gradual increase since my first observation of them 
in 1857. 

They are the most abundant of their family, and extensively 
distributed over the lacustrine regions of the commonwealth, 
breeding in all places adapted to their habits. Prof. Clarence 
Herrick reported them abundantly breeding at Lake Shatek in 
the southwestern part of the State — Murray county I believe — 
as early as any were reported to me from remote parts. Within 
much less distant points, I observed that it was relatively 
common and within a short period its extensive breeding has 
been fully known. 

They may be seen as early as the 10th of April in forward 
seasons, but are more frequently later, but at once upon their 
arrival seem to be as much at home as if no inclement season 
had driven them southward six months before. At Bigstone, 
and at Mille Lacs lakes, and doubtless at a large number of 
other similar lakes amongst the thousands of the State, they 
breed on the ground, and where available on elevated promon- 
tories, but where the country is uniformly tlat, as in Grant 
county where I have been to study their nidifications, they 
seek sandy shores or even small ponds occasionally, in very 
infrequented sections. Wherever it is they are gregarious. 

Mosses constitute the bulk of the material of their nests, 
with which there is employed more or less grass, and from 
continuing to add a little new material every year, the nests 
often become quite elevated and remarkably conspicuous 
occasionally after several years. 

About the first week in June the work of incubation com- 
mences by the daily deposit of a grayish-green egg, until three 
are layed. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head, neck, tail, and under parts, pure white; back and 
wings light pearl-blue; first and second primaries black two- 
thirds their length towards the end, the three next quills with 
the black much less in extent, and on the sixth it is reduced to 
a subterminal bar; the first quill is black at the end, above 
which is a broad white band; the second quill black to its tip, 
with a white spot on the inner web an inch and a half from the 
end; the other primaries tipped with white; secondaries and 
tertiaries ending in white; iris, yellow; bill crossed near the 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 19 

end with a blackish-brown band, between which and the base 
it is greenish-yellow; tarsi and feet greenish- yellow. 

Length, 20; wing, 15; tail, 6; bill, 1.63; tarsus, 2. 

Habitat, North America. 

LARUS ATRICILLA L. (58 ) 
LAUGHING GULL. 

The Mississippi River valley is a great thoroughfare of mi- 
grating birds, some of which pass directly over its sources to- 
ward Hudson Bay and still more northern regions. But all mi- 
grants must occasionally rest their weary wings, and replenish 
their empty stomachs, in doing which they leave a local record 
for the vigilant observer. The present species is one of this 
class, having been seen and obtained only in migration in the 
autumn, and nothing more has come within my personal knowl- 
edge of its local habits. 

Years have sometimes passed without my having seen or 
heard of them, and then again several will be reported, and I 
may find one in the hands of the taxidermist, whose shelves 
have contained one or two of them from time to time, ever 
since I have resided within the State. Rumors have reached 
me occasionally in years gone by. that their eggs have been ob- 
tained in Cass county, but lacked assurance of their reliability; 
but more recently I have received a communication from a 
lady which makes it presumptively possible that the observa 
tion is correct. She says, in speaking of a nest found, that the 
eggs were three in number; ovoidal; grayish-green or drab; 
blotched and spotted several shades of brown and purple; and 
measured 2.30 by 1.65 inches.* I am not an expert in larine 
oology, so that the coloration of the eggs has less value to my 
presumption that the measures, which certainly correspond 
with those given by the authorities. I believe we shall find it 
does breed here. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head and upper part of neck blackish lead gray, extending 
lower in front; upper and lower eyelids white posteriorly; 
lower part of neck, entire under plumage, rump, and tail, pure 
white; back and wings grayish lead color; the first six primar- 
ies are black, beginning on the first about two thirds of its 
length from the point, and regularly becoming less on the 
others, until on the sixth, it is reduced to two spots near the 
end; tips in some specimens white and in others black to their 



* Letter from Miss Loveland, 1880. 



20 NOTES ON THE 

points; bill, and inside of mouth dark carmine; iris bluish - 
black; legs and feet deep red. 

Length, 18; wing, 13; tail, 5; bill. If; tarsus, 2. 

Habitat, Texas to Maine, and Middle American Pacific 
Coast. 

Dr. Coues in his Birds of the Northwest (p. 651) discredits 
my report of the observation of this species, made to the Min- 
nesota Academy of Natural Sciences in 1874. With just as 
much reason he will discredit my reaffirmation now ( as he has 
done in the case of the Orchard Oriole in the same work) but 
"the world still moves" and facts remain just as stubborn as 
ever before he compiled that very valuable work. 

LARUS PHILADELPHIA (Ord) (60.) 

BONAPARTE'S GULL. 

This beautiful little bird of its tribe reaches the principal 
portions of the State early in April, the 10th being my own 
earliest record, but it is often reported several days earlier at 
Lake Shatek in Murray county, and in other more southern 
localities. Individuals ai'e seen as late as the 25th of May, and 
there are the best of reasons for believing that some of them 
at least breed on the islands of the larger inland lakes of the 
northern counties and along the shores of Lake Superior. 
Gulls are known to breed in considerable numbers in those 
localities, their nests having been observed while occupied, 
and this species corresponds to the general size and more 
ostensible markings as popularly described by residents and 
unscientific hunters who have resided in those sections for 
many years. The earlier representatives reach the section 
where my own opportunities are greatest often in the latter 
part of August, and individuals are met occasionally as late as 
the 5th of November, all of which would point to the probabil- 
ities of the presumptions mentioned. Mr. Washburn found 
them relatively common at Mille Lacs lake and Dead lake late 
in October. He says "This graceful little Gull was seen almost 
daily at Dead lake, and at other lakes throughout the country; 
sometimes a single bird, more frequently a pair, or a flock of 
six or eight. When one bird is wounded, or killed, the rest 
hover for several minutes over the unfortunate comrade, when 
several may be secured." For many years after coming to this 
State I believe that none of the Gulls bred within its borders, 
but imperfect observations led me slowly to the conviction that 
this species did so to a limited extent on the shores of Lake 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 21 

Superior; but it has only been within a few years that I have 
felt any measure of assurance that they also breed about some 
of the inland lakes. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head and upper part of neck grayish-black, this color extend- 
in.i? rather lower on the throat than on the neck behind; lower 
part of neck, under plumage, rump, and tail, white; back and 
wings clear bluish-gray; first primary black on outer web; 
inner w^eb of the same, both webs of the second, and the outer 
web of the third, white; inner web of the third, and all the other 
primaries the same color as the back; the six outer primaries 
have their ends black for the extent of about one inch on the 
central ones, but less on the first and sixth, and they are tipped 
with white slightly; shoulders, anterior borders of the wings, 
and outer webs of the primary coverts, white; bill deep black; 
inside of mouth carmine; iris hazel; legs and feet orange, with 
a reddish tinge. 

Length, 14.50; wing, 10.50; tail, 4.35; bill, 1^; tarsus. 1.25. 

Habitat, whole of North America. 



STERNA TSCHEGR.4.TA Lepechin. (64.) 
CASPIAN TERN. 

Until within a few years I have believed this Tern was only 
a rather common migrant, but I have the evidence that the 
species remains through the summer in many localities. Mr. 
Lewis entertained this belief as long ago as in 1876, having 
found the young birds in a visit to Polk county in July. It has 
been my privilege to do the same at a little later date, yet pre- 
sumably too early for the migration of the young, and I am 
therefore entertaining the confident expectation of finding the 
nest in due time. 

Usually, about the first of May, or possibly a little earlier, 
the Caspian Tern makes its apjDearance, and for only a short 
time is seen passing rapidly from lake to lake in search of its 
favorite food, the fresh-water mussels, with which the margins 
of the marsh-land streams and lakes abound. The flight is a 
marvel of gracefulness, ease, and unwearied maintainance, 
never failing to arrest the attention of any one at all interested 
in the birds There is no marked difference in their numbers 
in the autumnal southward movement, which commences 
generally about the 20th of September, at which time, how 
ever, individuals continue to be seen occasionally about the 
larger lakes like Mille Lacs, Red lake, Shatek, etc. , until near 



22 NOTES ON THE 

the same date in the following month, or even a little lal er, 
when they are found to have disappeared entirely, 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Forehead, crown, sides of head, and occiput black, glossed 
with green, which color extends below the eyes and under 
which is a narrow white line; back and wings light bluish-ash; 
the six outer primaries dark slate-gray on their inner webs; 
quill shafts white; tail and its upper coverts grayish- white; 
neck and entire under plumage pure white; bill and inside of 
mouth bright vermilion; legs and feet black; bill very stout; 
tail not deeply forked. In the young the back, wing coverts 
and tail are mottled and barred with blackish-brown. 

Length, 22; wing, 17; tail, 6; bill, 3. 

Habitat, North America generally. 

STERNA FORSTERI Nuttall. (69.) 

FORSTER'S TERN. 

I was much gratified, after long waiting and fruitless en- 
deavor to find whether this species of Tern ever reared its 
young within our State, to have a clutch of the eggs sent to 
me from Douglas county. Poaching collectors had many 
times claimed to have obtained them, but their finds, with a 
few generous exceptions, have contributed very little to local 
natural history or a sense of personal obligations. Their ex- 
ceedingly brief appearance, beginning about the 25th of April 
and lasting but a few days, comparatively, led me to appre- 
hend that the instinct of incubation was indicating the proximity 
of their summer habitat, which ever kept me in expectation that 
it would ultimately be found near at hand. The nest was 
reported to have been located on a muskrat house entirely 
surrounded by water, and consisted of a moderate quantity of 
reeds and coarse grasses, very slightly hollowed, and con- 
tained three eggs, which were not pointed at the smaller end 
like some others of the same family but were decidedly ovate, 
light brown with a wash of palest green, blotched and spotted 
with dark brown, was more marked at the larger end. The 
average measure of the three was; 1.75 by 1.12. It was obtained 
June 7th, and the eggs were apparently fresh. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upj)er part, sides of head to a line just below the eye, and 
hind neck, black; back and wings bluish-gray; primaries gray- 
ish-white on the outer webs and dusky-gray on the inner next 
the shaft, and over the entire web at the end; darker on inner 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 23 

margin, the remaining portion of inner webs white; tail bluish- 
gray, except the outer web of the outer tail feather which is 
white, the inner web of this feather blackish-gray for about 
two inches from the end; rump white with a slight tinge of pale 
bluish gray; sides of head, throat, and entire under surface, 
white; bill orange-yellow at the base, black near the end, with 
the tip yellow; legs and feet red. 

Length, 14.5; wing, 10.50; tail, 6; bill, 1.50; tarsus, 1. 

Habitat, North America generally. 

STERNA HIRLNDO L. (70 ) 
COMMON TERN. 

From about the 20th of April until the first and second weeks 
in October this species of the Terns may be occasionally seen, 
but never in any considerable flocks, as in the same latitude on 
the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. 

For a few days after their arrival, small flocks are met with 
in the marshes embracing numerous ponds and lakes connected 
by streams and sloughs, but in a few days they seem to have 
all gone, yet the presence of one here and there is unmistaka- 
ble, though even after securing a male on three occasions I 
have failed to flush the female or discover the nest in the sum- 
mer months. 

The taxidermists generally have an individual or two in 
their collections which they confound with two or three other 
species as classified now, but can give no intelligent account of 
where, when, or under what circumstances they were obtained. 
I know nothing more of their local habits or their distribution. 
Their usually accepted description is: 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper part of the head and hind neck deep black, tinged 
with brown on the front part of the head; back and wings 
light grayish blue; first primary with the outer web black, on 
the inner web grayish-black next the shaft, this color increas- 
ing in extent towards the end, where it covers the entire web 
for about one inch, the rest of the inner web white; the next 
five primaries are hoary on their outer webs, and blackish- 
gray on their inner next the shaft, and occupying their entire 
web at the end; margin of the inner webs white; central tail 
feathers very pale bluish-gray, the other white on their inner 
webs and dusky-gray on the outer webs, deepening in color 
from the central feathers until it becomes blackish-gray on the 
lateral ones; sides of the head, throat, rump, and under tail 
coverts, white; breast and abdomen clear, pearl -gray; bill 
coral-red, black near the end, with the tip yellow; iris hazel; 

-3z 



24 NOTES ON THE 

legs and feet coral red, not so dark as the bill; claws brownish 
black. 

Length, 15; wing, 11; tail, 6; tarsus, 0.75. 

Habitat, North America generally. 

The galloping herd of itinerant ornithologists who have 
laeen in immoderate haste to see their names in print, and 
enjoy a share of immortality while still warm with enthusiasm, 
have habitually reported this Tern as not breeding here to any 
extent, but more careful and long continued investigations of 
the local history of the species disprove their assumptions. I 
am now able to say that while they do not breed here to the 
extent that they do in some exceptional localities like those 
described by Samuels in his ''Birds of New England," p 547, 
they are fairly common in the northern sections of the State. 
•On the flat country approaching the Lake of the Woods they 
are numerous all through the season of breeding, although I 
could not give as much time to securing the eggs while in that 
region in 1887 as I desired, yet enough were to be readily seen 
to prove the past assumptions to be groundlessly made. The 
variations in size were quite striking, but not to be compared 
with the modifications- of the markings. 

STERNA ANTILLARUM Lesson. (74.) 
LEAST TERN. 

I have been not a little surprised that so few individuals of 
this species have come under my notice during the long years 
of my local observation, and still more so that amongst so 
many earnest collectors so very few have been observed. 
Nevertheless, the species not only come to and migrate 
through the State in considerable numbers, but the (supposed) 
eggs have been obtained in several widely separated sections, 
showing a general but not abundant distribution. 

I have said "supposed eggs" because I do not feel entire 
<ionfidence in their identity for the reason that other Terns 
were also observed, and the second year's plumage offers many 
difficulties in identification without any extensive series to 
compare with at hand. 

My inf amiliari ty with the Gulls and Terns makes me speak 
with exceptional hesitation. With greater leisure, I hope to 
be able to speak with more confidence. I will say that I have 
found very few individuals in the fall migrations that were 
not in immature plumage, but I seldom fail of getting a por- 
tion of the mature in spring. 

I find the average time of their arrival in spring through 
thirty years has been April 27, and almost invariably is then 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 25 

found along the Mississippi and its principal tributaries within 
the State. 

Later it has fallen under my notice in other localities, but 
only at considerable intervals. I know nothing of its habits. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

A triangular white spot on the forehead extending to the 
eye: occiput, crown, and a line from the eye to the upper man- 
dible, deep black; entire upper plumage and wings clear bluish- 
gray ; first two primaries with the outer web and half the inner 
next the shaft, grayish-black, ends of the same color, inner 
margins white, the shafts of these two quills black; the other 
primaries same color as the back with the inner margins white; 
tail same color as the back except the outer margin of the 
exterior feather, and the inner webs of the others at the base, 
where they are white; entire under plumage silvery-white; 
bill pale orange yellow; iris hazel; legs and feet, light orange- 
red. 

Length, 8.75; wing, 6.75; tail, 3.50. 

Habitat, Northern South America, casually more northward 
into British America. 

Later opportunities for more careful observations have en- 
abled me to say that the Least Tern is not the rare bird gener- 
ally represented, but on the other hand may be called fairly 
common throughout the later spring and summer till into Sep- 
tember, and occasionally a few remain even till the first part 
of the following month. 

Two clutches of the eggs have been brought to me, — one in 
June. 1887, and the other in July, two years later. They were 
cream- colored with a grayish tint, and marked with small and 
larger spots of varying shades of brown, some of which were 
confluent. One or two gave the least possible suggestion of a 
lilac wash. 

HYDROCHELIDON NIGRA SURINAMENSIS Gmelin. (77.) 

BLACK TERN. 

Of all the Terns that visit the State this species is the most 
abundant. Arriving from the 7th to the 10th of May they seem 
to take possession of the whole commonwealth simultaneously. 
This remarkable uniformity of their vernal appearance in 
widely severed localities of latitude I have long observed. 

Entirely insectivorous in their food, the first week or ten 
days after their arrival they are almost incessantly on the wing, 
in flocks of forty to a hundred, skimming the marshes, now 
overflowed more or less, and bearing on the currentless waters 
many kinds of insects, like crickets, grasshoppers, beetles and 
spiders. Following this they are little seen except early in 



26 NOTES ON THE 

the morning or towards evening, as they are engaged in the 
structure of their nests. These are constructed of such mater- 
ials as abound about them, usually reeds, rushes, swamp 
grasses, and moss, and are woven with considerable skill. 
They are quite uniformly placed on floating debris, consisting 
of similar materials to that employed in the structure of the 
nests, although placed occasionally on a buoy of wood or bark. 
The water in which these masses float is commonly from three 
to four feet in depth, and completely surrounded by reeds and 
wild rice. Breeding in communities, it is no uncommon thing 
to find half a dozen nests very near to each other upon the 
same float, and a single nest on one so small as to forbid the 
presence of another. Considerable numbers build by the 25th 
of May, as I have eggs I obtained before the end of the month, 
but the larger part of them are deposited after the first of 
June. 

They lay from two to three eggs — occasionally but one — of a 
smoky-yellow color, thoroughly splotched all over with dark, 
umber-brown, more thickly in an undefined ring around the 
larger end. 

During the breeding period very little is seen of them, but 
when the young are sufficiently developed to fly, they may be 
seen in great numbers flying over not only these reedy marshes, 
ponds and lakes, but more especially over the dry pastures, 
hayfields and wheatfields, where insects and grasshoppers are 
most abundant. 

Silent, and apparently without suspicion, flitting here and 
there like the swallows, often very near without seeming to 
see one observing them, although he may have a gun in his 
hand at the time, they spend most of their time in quest of 
food — that universal stimulus to motion for all animate nature. 
Pew are seen in the country later than the 15th of August, 
and then invariably it is the adult plumage. I have no record 
of their presence later than the 19th of August. 

In his Birds of the Northwest, p. 708, Coues says: "They 
(the eggs) had to be closely looked after, for they were laid 
directly on the moist matting, luithoitt any nest in any instance.''^ 
This observation having been made along the borders of my 
special survey, and in the month of June, by so eminent a 
naturalist, surprised me greatly until I received a communi- 
cation from Mr. E. W. Nelson, of Chicago, now of the Smith- 
sonian Institution, who assured me that he had observed the 
same thing in Cook county, where he resided, but only when 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 27 

the birds had been disturbed rejjeatedly. I regret exceedingly 
that the letter has been mislaid, or I would reproduce the 
statement in his own language. This is by no means the only 
instance of which birds have been known to forego the employ- 
ment of a nest after having been presistently robbed of their 
eggs by man or beast. 

Dr. T. S. Roberts, of Minneapolis, reported to me his dis- 
covery of several nests of this species on May 28, 1876; and on 
the 14th of the following June, Messrs. W. L. Tiffany and John 
Roberts, of the same place, secured six nests "on a sheet of 
floating moss, or fresh reeds, in about three or four feet of water, 
regularly woven of swamp grass, and each containing two or 
three eggs." 

Mr. Washburn found them in July, 1885, "Very common 
throughout the Red River valley, about large sloughs and 
lakes, — at Ada, and along Thief river in the vicinity of Mud 
lake." Their distribution is nearly uniform where the food 
conditions are found. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

' Head, neck, breast, sides, and abdomen, black; lower tail 
coverts white; under coverings of wings ashy gray; back and 
wings dark plumbeous gray; the first four primaries grayish- 
black, with their shafts white; bend of the wing edged with 
white; tail same color as the back; bill, brownish- black; iris, 
brown; legs and feet, reddish-brown; length, 9.50; wing, 8 50; 
tail. 3.50. Habitat. Temperate and Tropical America. 

Family PHALACKOCORACID^E. 

PHALACROCORAX DILOPHUS Swainson. (120.) 
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT. 

While shooting ducks in the spring hunters very soon learn 
to recognize the more obvious characteristics of this species of 
the Cormorants; one of these characteristics is the peculiarity 
of their flight. At the time referred to these birds are in con- 
siderable flocks, resembling in the remote distance the larger 
sized ducks and the black Brant until a good many times de- 
ceived, but the observing sportsmen readily discover the 
identity. 

When frequently disturbed by the shooting at the ducks they 
will occasionally become mingled with them in their flight from 
one lake to another and are thus brought within easy range of 



28 NOTES ON THE 

the guns, when the taxidermists get them for mounting in such 
numbers as to become a burden, while ordinarily they are a 
hard bird to obtain, for they are exceedingly shy and vigilant. 
Except when the water is frozen firmly, there is no time in the 
year when they may not be seen in almost every general sec- 
tion where the conditions are favorable to their habits of feed- 
ing, but their nests are more restricted, and not infrequently 
are associated with the Blue Herons in their long occupied 
rookeries. Thousands of people visiting Upper Lake Minne- 
tonka during a period of full 30 years have seen them thus 
associated on "Crane Island," and the surprise of everybody 
has been that both the Cormorants and Herons did not abandon 
the breeding place long years ago. Their reluctance to aban- 
don it, however, has been as great as was that of the Sioux, 
with the advantage over the aborigines that there were no 
treaties in the way of their continued possession. The State 
authorities have discovered the same fact and have tardily 
recognized the obligation to protect them from weapons of 
civilized warfare. Local observers in nearly all parts of the 
State report them from "occasional" to "innumerable," accor- 
ing to how near their breeding places the observations have 
been made, especially after they have commenced preparations 
for incubation. 

The preparations for incubation are made about the 10th of 
May in large communities, on islands in the lakes and ponds, 
and almost impenetrable marshes, where are some large, 
branching trees in which they mostly build their coarse but 
substantial nests. These are usually bulky from having been 
added to a little from year to year, and consist of land and wa- 
ter weeds, portions of vines and some sticks, without mucJi 
mechanism in their arrangements, being piled together around a 
deep depression, in which they lay three pale greenish or blu- 
ish eggs, over the surface of which is spread a smear of cal- 
careous material making them somewhat rough to the touch. 
It is not an uncommon sight to see one or more of their nests 
on the same tree on which are a number of the herons' nests, 
with whom they have no neighbor jars apparently. Being 
principally fish eaters they spend most of the time in the water 
where their movements in pursuit of their prey are simply 
marvelous in velocity. With their totipalmated feet folded 
flatly into mere blades while carried forward and when struck 
out backwards opening to their utmost, and the half-spread 
wings beating with inconceivable rapidity, they seem to fly 



BIRDS OF MENNESOTA. 29' 

through the waters at various depths in pursuit of their favor- 
ite food, the fish. 

By some cormorantic agreement, they distribute themselves 
for feeding in sucli a manner as not to trespass upon each 
other's domain during the breeding time, some individuals of 
them going many miles away to feed. The females during this 
period are allowed the nearer preserves and improve only the 
earlier and later portions of the day to supply their necessities. 

When the young are sufficiently grown they gather into im- 
mense flocks in infrequented sections, and remain until the ice- 
lid of winter has been closed over their supplies of food when 
to appearance they do not go away, but are gone like the sea- 
son — and how, when, and where? 

In his communication to me of some observations made in 
Murray county in 1877, Prof. 0. L. Herrick says of this species 
at lake Shetak: "The upper lake affords nesting places for in- 
numerable Cormorants which are known as black loons." So 
from all sources, or at least many, including Lanesboro in Pill- 
more county from which Dr. Hvoslef says: "Prom April 3d, 
(1883). about fifty Cormorants were seen at the pond till the 
12th of October. About the same date, but two years later, 
Mr. P. L. Washburn found them at Dead lake in Otter Tail 
county, fairly common for the species. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head, neck, lower part of back and under surface greenish- 
black; feathers of upper part of back, wing coverts, scapulars 
and tertiaries, grayish-brown, the margins greenish- blacky 
primaries blackish- brown, lighter on inner webs; secondaries 
dark grayish-brown; tail black; a line of white filamentous 
feathers running from the bill over the eye, and a few similar 
ones distributed over the neck; behind each eye is a tuft of 
rather long, slender feathers, erect and curving forwards; bare 
space in the region of the eye and gular sac. orange; upper 
mandible blackish-brown, with edges yellowish; the lower 
mandible yellow, marked irregularly with dusky; iris bright 
green; legs, feet and claws, black, middle toe claw jjectinated. 

Length. 33; wing, 13; tail. 6.75. 

Habitat, Eastern coast of North America, breeding from 
the Bay of Pandy northward; southward in the interior to the 
Great Lakes and Wisconsin. 



30 NOTES ON THE 

Family PELECAXID^. 

PELECANUS ERYTHRORHYNCHl S Gmelin. (125.) 

AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN. 

This immense bird usually signals his arrival in the early 
part of April by his characteristic notes from an elevation 
beyond the range of vision except under the most favorable 
circumstances. The sound of those notes is difficult to de- 
scribe, but unforgetable when once certainly heard from their 
aerial heights. I have sometimes scanned the heavens in vain 
to see them, but am generally rewarded for my vigilance and 
patience if the sky is clear, and if cloudy, also, when I watch 
the rifts closely with my field glass. 

They more commonly are in flocks of from thirty to fifty, 
rarely more; but when materially less than the former number, 
the flock has been divided, and they then fly lower. During 
the incoming migration of the spring of 1864 it was not an 
unusual thing to have them descend nearly to the tops of the 
trees, long before reaching a section for alighting. I secured 
one at that time which was eleven feet in extent and weighed 
twenty-two pounds. For more than twenty years after I 
came here to reside they bred in Grant county in a large 
community. Several of my ornithological friends visited the 
place from time to time, first of which Mr. J. N. Sandford of 
Elbow lake, who guided Mr. G. B. Sennett of Meadville, Pa., 
to the pelicanery subsequently, but after several years' antici- 
pation of seeing it with Mr. Sanford myself, professional 
duties and ill health prevented, until, persecuted, robbed and 
mercilessly slaughtered, they finally deserted their ancient 
dwelling place, since which I have had no reliable evidence 
that they bred within our borders. It is persistently claimed 
by duck-hunters that they have renewed their limited breeding, 
but exactly where, rumor has not decided. I think that there 
is little reason to doubt that the pelicanery alluded to was the 
only one within our borders, for wherever these easily identi- 
fied birds were observed during the period of breeding in the 
early morning and late in the day, the line of general flight 
pointed to that same locality. Shortly after their arrival in 
spring they pair for breeding, after which little is seen of 
them until late in the autumn, when they begin to flock for 
their late migration, which time depends entirely upon the 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 31 

question of the supply of their food, which is mainly small 
fishes. These are abundant in the shallow streams, borders 
of the lakes and ponds, until sealed up by the ice. Most 
writers upon the habits of this unique species speak of the 
use of the lower mandible and gular sac as a scoop, or dip net, 
for gathering in their food. This seems possible, and even 
probable, yet I am compelled to say that while I have often 
observed their habit of dropping the inferior mandible slightly 
beneath the surface of the water when the upper one seemed 
only to rest on it, and thus allow the water to pass into the 
mouth as they were swimming about in deep as well as shallow 
water, I have never discovered the slightest evidence of their 
receiving food at such times Like their renowned habit of 
extending their mandibles in a series of yawning like motions 
when standing upon the land, I have regarded the other as 
essentially a sort of meaningless diversion. Perhaps to rinse 
out the gular pouch. I am confident I could not have 
been mistaken, as my observations were made when the birds 
were under the most favorable circumstances for being 
observed, and I have employed a superior field glass while 
perfectly concealed from their sight. Whether seizing a 
minnow, or a pickerel weighing three and a half pounds, as in 
one instance, the fish is grasped transversely, when it is 
tossed into the air and invariably received with its head fore- 
most in its descent into the pouch. 

The sac, or pouch, is a temporary repository in which the 
food is retained for a longer or shorter period as required for 
supplies for digestion. The gular sac has no element of "a 
dip-net for catching prey", having no outlet for the water 
"shipped," not even the pectinated rami of the bill of several 
species of ducks. They are well known to seize great quanti- 
ties of fish upon occasion, and it is equally well known that 
their stomachs are relatively exceptionally small. The sac is 
therefore an inexorable necessity for transportation in their 
prolonged flights over frozen lakes and rivers, and has been 
found on repeated occasions in i^ossession of from one to several 
fishes. One at least of the purposes of the sac cannot be 
questioned. 

In the latter part of May the old nests are slightly repaired 
or added to of such materials as are easily obtained, and the 
three to four eggs laid. They are very rudimentary, consist- 
ing usually of dirt scraped together and overlaid with coarse 
reeds, moss, &c., and are located quite near each other in close 



32 NOTES ON THE 

proximity to water, with little attempt at concealment. The 
length of time after hatching before the young are taken to the 
water I have not reliably ascertained. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

General plumage, pure white, (in breeding season with a 
roseate tinge) ; crest and elongated feathers on the breast, pale 
yellow; alula, primary coverts, and primaries, black, the shafts 
of the latter, white for the greater part of their length, and 
brownish-black at the end; outer secondaries, black, the inner 
more or less white, the shafts of all white underneath. Bill, 
yellow, with the edges and unguis, reddish; upper mandible 
high at the base, but becoming gradually flattened to the end; 
on the ridge just beyond the middle of the bill is a thin, 
elevated bony process about one inch high, and extending 
towards the end for three or four inches ; lower mandible broad 
at the base, with the crura separated nearly to the point, 
underneath the lower mandible, beginning at the junction of 
the crura and extending down the neck about eight inches, is a 
large membranous sac, or pouch, capable of great expansion, 
of the same color as the bill; bare space around the eye, bright 
yellow; iris, white; legs and feet, yellow; claws, yellowish- 
brown. The female differs only in the absence of the bony 
projection on the upper mandible. 

Length, 70; wing, 24.50; bill, 18.50; tarsus, 4.75; tail, 7. 

Habitat, Temperate North America. 

Note. I have no record of the earliest instance of their 
nesting, but generally it takes place in the latter days of May, 
several having been reported by the twenty-fifth. Some have 
been known to occur even after the first of June. The nests 
are very rudimentary, consisting in most cases of the dirt and 
debris found at the place selected, which is on alluvial lands 
quite near the water. There seems to be no attempt at con- 
cealment whatever usually, and they will endure a great deal 
of disturbance from intruders before they will finally abandon 
the spot chosen for incubation. From two to four white eggs 
constitute the "clutch," and the male shares the duties of the 
lengthy incubency, as it would seem to be the conjugal duty of 
all male birds, yet unfortunately some come very far short of 
it. I have often conceived that the female cow-bird laid her 
first egg in another bird's nest because her mate refused to 
share her sacrifices. Later facts, and many isolated circum 
stances have somewhat modified my opinions as to their aban- 
doning the State for incubation. 

Prof. Herrick, who is quite familiar with the bird life of Mur- 
ray county, expresses himself as confident that they breed about 
Lake Shetak, and later Mr. F. L Washburn, (now professor 
at Corvallis, Oregon, I am informed), mentions some circum- 
stances in his correspondence that Lake Traverse and many 
other localities in the northwestern parts of the State have 
been adopted as breeding places by the Pelicans. He states 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 33 

that in 1885, from some cause not quite certain, they sought 
new breeding quarters, having deserted the famous grand peli- 
canry "for many isolated localities never before occupied." 
Mr. Armstrong, of Herman, Grant Co., "found a solitary nest 
near the town containing two eggs." Certainly these circum- 
stances justify the conclusion that the Pelicans have not yet 
deserted Minnesota as a breeding place. 

PELECANUS FUSCUS L. (126.) 

BROWN PELICAN. 

Reasonably credible rumors from three different localities on 
the western borders of the State add one Brown Pelican each 
to the list of straggling visitors within our borders. I am very 
familiar with them in sections where they abound, but have 
never seen any within my present province. 



Order ANSERES. 



Family ANATID^. 

MERGANSER AMERICANUS (Cassin). (129.) 
AMERICAN MERGANSER. 

This is the largest species of the true Pish Ducks. They 
reach the larger lakes somewhat before the disappearance of 
the ice. A narrow border may have yielded to the advancing 
sun and invited the fish from under the frozen canopy into its 
grateful rays, and thus offering the ducks their chosen food 
in abundance, but if they have counted upon such a repast 
they are liable to great disappointment, for the retreating 
cold often returns with a vigor that closes again every opening 
in the ice of the still waters of the lakes and ponds, when the 
premature invaders will be compelled to seek their supplies 
in the swift currents of the streams and rivers. At the time 
of their spring migrations, they appear in considerable flocks, 
and no inconsiderable numbers are killed by persons unfamil- 
liar with their habits, and ignorant of their valuelessness for 
food, at least such was formerly the case; but since the coun- 
try has become more extensively occupied by settlement, and 
been cultivated along the shores of their former haunts, they 
have disappeared from the more frequented lakes, and are 
now seldom seen except in the remoter districts. There they 
still breed in comparatively fair numbers. They place their 
nests in the forks of dead trees of the forest bordering the 
water where the banks are low and flat, or upon ledges of 
rock overhanging the water, in extremely secluded places. 
The nest consists of grass, leaves, moss, etc., over which are 
placed their own feathers in sufficient quantity for warmth to 
be easily maintained while incubation is in process. The eggs 
are about ten in number, and are of a cream white color, that 
varies in different eggs of the same nest. In earlier days, 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 35 

when they bred in my own county, I found the young on the 
ponds and small grassy lakes as early as the first week in 
June, and as late as the last week of July, which warranted 
the presumption that they rear more than one brood each 
year. 

Their food consists of fish, mussels, and occasionally the 
stems and roots of aquatic vegetation. The flight of the Mer- 
gansers, or Shelldrakes, as they are more commonly called in 
this country, is not very unlike that of the Mallard, yet easily 
distinguished by experienced sportsmen at a considerable dis- 
tance. Although they have become quite rare in the southern 
they are more readily found in the northern portions of the 
State, where there are extensive are as yet wild enough to 
meet all the requirements for their food and reproduction. 
They linger in small family flocks in autumn as late as an 
abundant supply of food is obtainable, and move away south- 
ward in the night. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Feathers of the forehead extending on the bill in an acute 
angle for half the distance between those on the sides and 
nostrils; outline of those on the sides nearly vertical, and 
reaching but little beyond the beginning of the lower edge of 
the bill, but as far as those on the side of the lower jaw; nos- 
trils large, far forward, their middle opposite the middle of 
the commissure. Head and neck green; fore part of back 
black; beneath salmon color; wings mostly white, crossed by 
one band of black; sides faintly barre'd transversely. 

Length, 26.50; wing, 11; tarsus 1.85; commissure, 2.90. 

Habitat, North America generally. 

[MERGANSER SERRATOR (L.). (130.) 
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER. 

This Merganser cannot be regarded as a common resident, 
yet I have found it breeding within a few miles of both Minne- 
apolis and St. Paul, and it is known to do so in several localities 
to the west of our great timber belt, as in the vicinity of some 
small lakes embraced in that forest. They arrive with the 
earlier game ducks, and are frequently shot under the sup- 
position that they belong to that class. As with the other 
species of local ducks, they do not continue long in flocks, but 
shortly pair off and resort to the more favorable sections for 
breeding, where they build large, bulky nests on the ground. 
The nests consist first of rushes, reeds, coarse weeds and 



^ 6 NOTES ON THE 

grasses, with some roots. Over these is the true nest, com- 
posed of fine roots chiefly, which is covered with a layer of 
feathers. They lay about ten, light, dirty, drab colored eggs. 
I have found but one while employed for nidification, although 
several have come to my notice by finding the fragments of 
shells associated with them. The young birds were in the 
water of a draining ditch on the 9th of June. The species is 
abundantly reported in both migrations, yet only a very few 
individuals have seen these ducks during the summer, for the 
obvious reason that, like all other locally breeding ducks, 
they are rarely found on the wing. Hence Mr. Washburn's 
statement that he found the species rather rare in the Red 
River valley in July and August. They remain till very late 
in November, and occasionally all winter, as I have repeatedly 
seen them in open rapids on spring fed streams and the Mis- 
sissippi. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Feathers of the forehead extending on the bill in a short, 
obtuse angle, and falling far short of the end of those on the 
sides; the outline of the latter sloping rapidly forwards, and 
reaching half way from the posterior end of the lower edge of 
the bill to the nostrils, and far beyond those on the side of the 
lower jaw. Nostrils posterior and narrow, their posterior 
outline opposite the end of the basal third of the commissure. 
Head with a conspicuous, pointed, occipital crest. Head and 
upper part of neck all around dark green; under parts red- 
dish-white; jugulum, reddish-brown streaked with black; sides 
distinctly barred transversely with fine lines of black. Feathers 
anterior to wing white, margined with black. White of wing 
crossed by two bars of black. 

Length, 23.25; wing, 8.60; tarsus, 1.80; commissure, 2 75. 

Habitat, Northern North America. 

LOPHODYTES CUCULLATUS (L.). (131.) 
HOODED MERGANSER. 

Undisturbed in the quiet solitudes of its favorite feeding 
places, especially during the mating season when the time is 
more devoted to courting, the male of this species of ducks has 
no peer for regal beauty in its family except the always to be 
excepted male Wood Duck, {Aix sponsa). It is a permanent 
resident, finding open water enough through the severest 
winters to make its supply of fish-food possible. On the 
coldest days I have many times observed it feeding in the 
rapids at the foot of the falls of St. Anthony. At such times 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 37 

they may occasionally be seen flying further up or down the 
river in small parties. 

Once in January, 1874, when the mercury had descended to 
forty degrees below zero while a north wind was blowing 
terrifically, I saw a flock of six of this species flying directly 
into the teeth of the blizzard at their ordinary velocity of not 
less than ninety miles an hour. The compactness of their 
flocks of half a dozen to fifteen in their flight is characteristic, 
and their directness fully equal to that of the Green-winged 
Teal, {Anas caros inensis). About the third week in April, or a 
little later, they disperse for incubation. They build their 
nests but a short distance from the water, and like the Wood 
Duck, in the hollows of trees, or upon the stubs of such as have 
been broken off by the wind. One discovered by a duck-friend 
of mine (to the location of which he called my attention many 
years since) was placed in as hallow cavity rotted out of a lean- 
ing trunk some forty feet from the ground, and consisted of 
weeds, grass and feathers, the latter completely concealing the 
others. It contained thirteen perfectly white, subspherical, 
thick-shelled eggs, that averaged 2.12 by l./O in measurement. 
In one instance, a lady sharing my interest in birds and game, 
while rowing with me, noticed what we supposed to be a Wood 
Duck carrying her chick by the neck from a tree into the 
water. We waited in vain some time to see if the bird would 
not bring another young one. Reaching the middle of the 
small lake, we saw the duck, by the aid of the field-glass, re- 
sume the loving task, and discovered the bird to be a female of 
the species under consideration. This was on the 18th of May. 
Mr. Treganowan found the baby birds in Becker county, on the 
17th of August, showing that in one instance at least, a second 
brood presumptively was brought out in the same season. I am 
not confident that this is universally the case however. The food 
at this time embraces fish, molluscs, and aquatic insects. With 
the crest fully extended, the male of this species, as already 
intimated, presents a most beautiful view when swimming 
leisurely on the undisturbed water, under the deep shadows of 
the environing woods. He takes none of the burdens of incuba- 
tion upon him, but at that time hides himself away between 
the narrow banks of some solitary stream abounding with small 
fish, to resume in due time his place at the head of his well 
developed family. Like the other fish ducks, they stay as long 
as the ice will let them on the shores of the lakes, whence they 
go to open rapids, and late in November mostly drift more 



38 NOTES ON THE 

southward. According to Mr. Washburn, this species is very 
common at Lal^e Mille Lacs, and Dead lake. Dr. Hvoslef 
finds them in February at Lanesboro, Fillmore county, in open 
places in the Root river. Mr. Edward A. Everett, of Waseca, 
reports them in January. Indeed, there are no sections where 
the birds have been looked after by competent observers which 
do not give reports of the Hooded Merganser. It must not be 
inferred that they are as numerous a species as some others 
breeding here, but they may be said to be common residents, 
large numbers of which go further north still to breed and 
further south to winter. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTEHS. 

Head with an elongated, compressed, circular crest; anterior 
extremity of nostril reaching not quite as far as the middle of 
the commissure; frontal feathers extending nearly as far as 
half the distance from the lateral feathers to the nostril; the 
latter much beyond the feathers on the side of the lower mandi- 
ble. Bill shorter than head. Bill, head, neck, and back, black; 
center of crest and under parts white; sides chestnut- brown, 
barred with black; anterior to the wing white, crossed by two 
black crescents; lesser coverts gray; speculum white with a 
basel and median-black bar; tertials black, streaked with white 
centrally. 

Length, 17,50; wing, 8; tarsus, 1.20; commissure, 2. 

Habitat, North America generally. 

ANAS BOSCHAS L. (132.) 

MALLARD. 

When the comfortless days of March have long delayed the 
departure of the winter, and the great lakes, and the little ones 
too, begin to show a liquid margin into which sundry reptiles 
and fishes have come to catch the first warm rays of the ad- 
vancing sun, we look for the ducks to return, and first of all 
generally, the Mallards. And should a sharp thaw be attended 
by a warm rain, we never look in vain. The avaunt couriers 
consisting of members of this species will more than likely 
form the largest flock of the entire season, and will come along 
the cloudy curtains of the horizon after the manner of wild 
geese, but with less of the wedge-shaped order of flight of the 
latter and their ostentatious honkings. Sweeping around in 
circles, the radius of which is many miles in extent, examining 
the various streams and lakes for the larger openings in the 
ice, they suddenly dip down to one as if to alight, when as ab- 
ruptly they rise again and sweep away to another with a few 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 39 

quacks of mutual advisement, or perchance of disappointment, 
and are soon out of sight. In half an hour they are back 
again to drop, one after another, into the open water of the 
very lake beside which we may be carefully concealed. Here, 
if undisturbed, they will spend the remainder of the day, but 
when the night has come they quietly fly away to the meadows 
and growing wheat fields or the oak openings where the mast 
is an assured supply for their repast. At the earliest dawn of 
the coming day, they return to the lakes for rest, mussels, 
aquatic vegetation and security. As they breed extensively in 
nearly every portion of the State adapted to their reproductive 
and food habits, little difficulty lies in the way of learning their 
characteristic habits. I find that as a general thing their nests 
are completed and occupied by the 15th to the 20th of May. 
As they deposit from ten to twelve eggs, and supposibly never 
more than one in the same day, it is pretty near the first of 
June before they are fully installed in the essential work of in- 
cubation. Only rather coarse weeds and grasses are employed 
in the structure of the nest, but it is lined with their own down 
liberally. The eggs 'are of a dirty, greenish-white color. The 
location of the nest may be on the veriest margin of the land 
near the water, concealed in the reeds and rushes, or a mile 
away, perhaps on the open prairie, hidden by the rank, un- 
glazed tuft of grass which may be seen at a considerable dis- 
tance. And again it is no unprecedented thing to find it 
amongst the coarse bushes on a wooded hillside. The duck- 
lings are taken to the water in a short time where the 
brood may often be found without much difficulty, except the 
sacrifices of an early rising in the morning. They linger in the 
State until quite in autumn, growing and fattening on the 
wild rice, mast, and extensive waste of the wheat fields. In 
the latter place they are often in immense flocks, where the 
hunters are congregated for their destruction as late and early 
as the law allows them to maintain their slaughter. As matters 
have been for many years, their number must have become 
greatly reduced, and therefore we may well rejoice that our 
legislature has provided some long needed protection to them. 
To instance, not one alone of "crack sportsmen," but many 
from abroad as well as at home have boasted of having killed 
three and four hundred in a fall shooting, and in a single in- 
stance upwards of one thousand. This is truly duck murder. 
Thirteen thousand meandered, and therefore recorded lakes 

4z 



40 NOTES ON THE 

and ponds, including all of the wild rice marshes, and wheat 
fields, will prove inadequate to maintain the supply at this 
rate. Thanks for legislation though late. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head and neck bright grass -green, with a violet gloss, top 
of head duller; a white ring around the middle of the neck, 
below which, and on the forepart and sides of the breast, the 
color is dark brownish-chestnut; under parts and sides, with 
the scapulars, pale gray, very finely undulated with dusky; 
the outer scapulars with a brownish tinge; forepart of back 
reddish brown; posterior more olivaceous; crissum and upper 
tail. coverts black, the latter with a blue gloss; tail externally 
white; wing coverts brownish-gray, the greater coverts tipped 
first with white, and then more narrowly with black; speculum 
purplish- violet, terminated with black; a recurved tuft of feath- 
ers on the rump; iris dark brown. 

Length, 28; wing, 11; tarsus, 1.70; commissure, 2.50. 

Habitat, northern parts of northern hemisphere. 

ANAS OBSCURA Gmelin. (133.) 
BLACK. 

My first local observation of the Black Ducks began in the 
spring of 1862, during the spring migration. They were asso- 
ciated with the Mallards, and were exceedingly shy, a single 
one in the flock often proving a sad defeat to the sportman's 
purposes towards the other species. A few usually find their 
way into the game markets, in both migrations, and it is seldom 
that a season passes in which I have not observed their pres- 
ence in one or both migrations. They are never abundant, 
indeed they are rather rare, and in small flocks in the spring 
migrations which are somewhat larger in the autumn. I have 
never counted more than 15 in a single flock, and more com- 
monly not to exceed half a dozen. I had been told that they 
bred in the southern and western sections of the State long 
before I had an opportunity to corroborate the statement, but 
I have long since found them doing so in the valley of the Min- 
nesota river, and in Kandiyohi county. Their nests were in a 
tussock of rank grass or reeds, in a marsh which had been 
overflowed during the prevalence of high water in spring, and 
in one instance was found as early as the 15th of May with 
three eggs in it. Another was shown me by a citizen who 
resided but a short distance away, containing ten, greenish- 
brown eggs. This was May 27th, which seems to indicate about 
the same period of nesting as for the former. Their food in 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 41 

spririo' consists largely of aquatic larvae, and of molluscs with 
the succulent roots of fresh water vegetation; and in the 
autumn of wild rice and domestic grains, to which should be 
added considerable mast after the acorns have fallen. They 
seldom resort to the smaller lakes and ponds after raising their 
broods, but are found in the larger ones, and notably in the 
vicinage of timber lands. Their distribution is not uniform by 
any means, and about as difficult to ascertain as that of a great 
number of avian species as sparingly represented. What pro- 
portion of them go further north to breed it is difficult to even 
conjecture, but doubtless much the larger. They disappear in 
the fall migration somewhat earlier than do the Mallards. I 
ought to have said before that the nest is a large, compact one, 
and constructed of grasses and weeds, over which are imposed 
the duck's own feathers. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill greenish; feet red; body generally blackish-brown; the 
feathers obscurely margined with reddish-brown; those anteri- 
orly with a concealed V-shaped mark, more or less visible 
on the sides of the breast; head and neck brownish -yellow, 
spotted with black; top of the head and nape, dark brown, 
with a green gloss on the sides behind; wings dull blackish, 
with a dull greenish gloss; speculum violet, terminated with 
black; inner tertials hoary gray towards the tips; axillaries 
and inside of wing white; tail of eighteen feathers; iris dark 
brown. 

Length, 22; wing, 12; tarsus, 1.80; commissure, 2.56. 

Habitat, eastern North America, west to Utah and Texas. 

ANAS STREPERA.jL. (135.) 

GADWALL. 

No species of the Duck family is a more regular resident, 
often reaching the State by the 25th of March, and found on 
favorite streams late in November, They are quite a numerous 
species and liy in compact flocks of about a dozen, rarely more, 
which is easily recognized by the experienced gunner at con- 
siderable distance by the distinctive character of their move- 
ments on the wing. Like the Mallards and many other species 
of the ducks, they live upon aquatic plants, both blades and 
roots, larvae, water beetles, moUusks, wild rice, and the vari- 
ous grains of the farmer's fields, to get which they fly long- 
distances both at night and during the day. 

The nests are found on the ground, in marshes skirting 



42 NOTES ON THE 

streams of running water, and are composed of weeds, sticks, 
grasses, and rushes as the location conveniently supplies them. 
The eggs, eight to ten in number, are rather of a cream- white, 
at least would be but for the dirt imparted by the soiled feet of 
the brooding female. 

As is the case with nearly every species of the family breed- 
in the State, the distribution is subject to extreme variations 
from year to year. In a local scarcity of Ring-necks and 
Scaups, for instance, this species will abound during one sea- 
son which may be followed in the next by its almost total ab- 
sence, w^hile one of those mentioned, or almost any other, may 
be in force in any single section. This circumstance applies 
equally with the Mallard. 

The relative abundance of species may be best studied in the 
return of expert duck-hunter's bags. 

In the hunting season there are few portions of our State 
where some of this species are not found. It has not yet been 
my fortune to see the nest and eggs in situ, but I have the 
latter in my collection obtained within a few hours ride of my 
home by Mr. E. L. Hood, an expert oologist in my employ- 
ment. 

Incredible numbers of this species are slaughtered for the fall 
market and are regarded only second to the Mallard in value 
for the table. It is a gamy duck and flies promptly at the ap- 
proach of danger; is an exceptionally good diver and rapid 
swimmer. It wanders a long distance from the water for nuts, 
acorns, etc., in the cloudy, windy days of November. They re- 
tire from this latitude generally during the last week in 
October. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head and neck brownish-white, each feather spotted with 
dusky; top of head tinged with reddish; lower part of neck, 
with forepart of breast, and back, blackish, with concentric 
narrow bars of white, giving a scaled appearance to the 
feathers; inter-scapular region, outermost scapulars, and 
sides of body, finely weaved transversely with black and 
white; middle wing coverts chestnut, the greater, velvet- 
black, succeeded by a pure white speculum, bordered exter- 
nally by hoary gray; innermost scapulars with a reddish 
tinge; crissum and upper tail coverts black; longest tertials 
hoary plumbeous gray; inside of wing and axillaries pure 
white; bill black; iris hazel. 

Length, 22; wing, 10.50; tarsus, 1.65; commissure, 2.04. 

Habitat, United States. Nearly cosmopolitan. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 43 

ANAS AMERICANA Gmelin. (137.) 
BALDPATE. 

In the spring of 1864 the Baldpates were more numerous 
than any other species migrating along the Mississippi 
through Minnesota. 

It was observed by sportsmen and universally commented 
upon as most remarkable in the history of duck- shooting. 
The following year only a few were met with in the same 
localities, and never since as many relatively, but some years 
they are common while scarce in others. Subsequently, by 
extensive conference with intelligent and observing sports- 
men, and a close watch of the markets, I satisfied myself that 
the variation in local numbers was balanced within the 
longitudinal boundaries of the State; that when scarce along 
the region drained by the Mississippi they were abundant 
along that of the Minnesota river, and vice versa, through the 
following years. 

It has been a common observation that the Baldpates and 
Pintails almost uniformly arrive more or less commingled, 
which is also the case in their autumnal migrations. Both 
species arrive a little later than some others, and are seldom 
found in the larger lakes, but in the ponds and streams. Their 
food consists largely of roots of various aquatic plants. The 
Baldpates breed on the extensive marshes of the northern 
counties of the State, where Mr. Lewis and Mr. Treganowan 
found them in June and July. The nest possesses no dis- 
tinctive characteristic and contains variously from six to 
twelve dirty, cream white eggs. 

Mr. Washburn found it common and breeding at Otter Tail 
and Thief river. Dr. Hvoslef notes its arrival in Fillmore 
county from the 12th to the 20th of April, but says nothing of 
its breeding there, nor have I seen its nests in the section of 
my greatest opportunity for personal observation. I found it 
already beginning to be common in Grant and Big Stone coun 
ties late in August. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail of fourteen feathers; bill blue, the extreme base and tip 
black; head and neck pale buif, or faint reddish-yellow, each 
feather banded narrowly with blackish, giving the appearance 
of spots; top of head from bill, pale unspotted creamy - 
white; sides of head from around the eye to the nape glossy- 
green, the feathers however, with hidden spots, as described; 



44 NOTES ON THE 

chin uniform dusky; forepart of breast and sides of body light- 
brownish, or chocolate-red, each feather with obsolete grayish 
edge, rest of under parts pure white; crissum abruptly black; 
the back, scapulars and rump, finely waved transversely anter- 
iorly with reddish and gray, posteriorly with purer gray on a 
brown ground; a little of the same waving on the sides also; 
lesser wing coverts, plain gray; middle and greater, conspicu- 
ously white, the latter terminated by black, succeeded by a 
speculum which is grass-green at the base, and then velvet- 
black; tertials black on outer web, bordered narrowly by 
black, the outermost one hoary-gray, externally edged with 
black; tail hoary -brown; upper coverts black externally; axil- 
lars white; iris hazel. 

The blackish chin appears to be found only in very highly 
plumaged birds, and the top of the head is sometimes pure 
white. 

Length, 22; wing, 11; tarsus, 1.40; commissure, 1.08. 

Habitat, North America. 

ANAS CAROLINENSIS Gmelin. (139.) 

GREEN- WINGED TEAL. 

When the first flock of Ducks of the spring has arrested the 
attention of the amateur, or the keen eyed sportsman, he 
looks for the two Teals next. And that well trained eye knows 
each of the two species at a glance by its flight. Within the 
duck kingdom the Green-wings have no equal in speed on the 
wing, and only one superior for beauty. A little incident in 
my personal experience, gave me a realizing sense of the 
former. On an occasion when duck-shooting in a pass, 
not many miles from my home, I was standing behind a 
bush as high as my head, when I discovered a flock of this 
species coming from another lake. So directly were the ducks 
coming toward me that they seemed to be only poising on their 
vibrating wings when I fired at the leader, and his head drop- 
ped instantly, for he was as dead as he ever could be, and 
mine dodged to one side just in time to have the plumage of 
the bird brush my ear as it went by like a ball from a steel 
eight pounder, and only reached the ground at a distance of a 
hundred and fifty feet beyond. It has been said that the 
Green-winged Teal flies at a velocity of one hundred and sixty 
miles an hour. Judging it by that incident, I am ready to 
believe the estimate none too high. In 1876, they reached 
nearly every portion of the State on the 5th of April, as re- 
ports from most of them subsequently attested. But I have 
records of my own showing of their arrival as early as the 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 45 

17th of March. Their distribution for breeding, becomes con- 
siderably restricted, but varies in the choice of localities in suc- 
cessive years. In the one first alluded to their nests were found 
in several places in Hennepin county, but in the next I could 
find or hear of none. In later years I found them breeding 
along the Minnesota bottoms and in the marshes along Min- 
nehaha creek, which constitutes the outlet of Lake Minne- 
tonka. 

Mr. Washburn found them ' ' rather common, and breeding 
at Otter Tail and Mille Lacs," in 1885. The nest is formed of 
weeds, sedges and grasses, lined with considerable down. 
Eight to ten eggs are usually laid, of a dingy creamy-white 
color. It is almost a strictly vegetable feeder, wandering 
some considerable distance from the water in search of ber- 
ries, nuts, wild rice, etc. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head, and neck all around, chestnut; chin black; forehead 
dusky; region round the eye continued along the side of the 
head as a broad stripe, rich green, passing into a bluish-black 
patch across the nape; under parts white, the feathers of the 
jugulum with rounded black spots; lower portion of neck all 
around, sides of breast and body, long feathers of flanks and 
scapulars, beautifully and finely banded closely with black 
and grayish- white; outer webs of some scapulars, and of outer 
secondaries black, the latter tipped with white; speculum 
broad and rich green; wing coverts plain grayish-brown, the 
greater coverts tipped with buff; a white cresceni; in front of 
the bend of the wing; crissum black, with a triangular patch 
of bufty white on each side; lower portion of the green stripe 
on each side of the head blackish, with a dull edge of whitish 
below; iris brown. Sometimes the under parts are strongly 
tinged with ferruginous brown. 

Length, 14; wing, 7.40; tarsus, 1.15; commissure, 1.68. 

Habitat, North America generally. 

ANAS DISCORS L. (140.) 

BLUE-WINGED TEAL. 

No other species of the Ducks is so cautious upon its arrival 
as the Blue-winged Teal, a trait by which the old hunter deter- 
mines its identity at once. In parties of eight to ten or a dozen, 
they will circle around, descending again and again only to 
rise again and go further up, or lower down the stream, to 
repeat the same demonstrations of indecision, many times over, 
and just as unexpectedly they suddenly drop out of sight 



46 NOTES ON THE 

between the treeless banks. They are, as a general thing, 
several days later in their spring arrivals, and as much earlier 
than the Green -wings in autumn. This is not true in every 
migration, for I have once or twice known them to come a lit- 
tle before the other, and several times simultaneously; but in 
my observations extending over many years in succession, it 
has proved a noticable characteristic in its migrations. They 
are seldom seen on the large clear lakes; but on small ponds, 
mud flats, and sluggish streams where various pond weeds 
and aquatic roots afford, in abundance its favorite vegetable 
food. Nesting late in May and early in June, they rear only 
one brood so far as I have been able to ascertain. The struc- 
ture is uniformly of grasses, lined quite liberally with down 
from the female's own breast and is more commonly placed on 
dry ground at least a hundred yards from the nearest water. 
It is best found by carefully distinguishing the obscure path at 
the water's edge, and tracing it to its unsuspectedly remote 
seclusion. The search may prove the path to have been the 
beaten runway of the muskrat to some other pond, but may 
afterwards be distinquished by its having been so much more 
frequented and soiled. 

The eggs are of the same general color as the Green-winged 
Teals, namely, a dull, dingy, cream- white, and are a little 
smaller in size, and about ten in number. Like the other 
species they fly in very compact flocks of a dozen or less, and 
at a terrific speed, only excelled by one other amongst all the 
ducks known. Tenderest of all, they retire southward earliest 
in the autumn, so that sometimes all have left the country by 
the 25th of October, or first of November. They are found 
breeding in every part of the State in different seasons. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head and neck above plumbeous gray; top of head, black; 
a white crescent in front of the eye; under parts from middle 
of neck, purplish- gray, each feather with spots of black, which 
become more obsolete behind; fore part of back with the feath- 
ers brown, with two undulating narrow bands of purplish-gray; 
feathers on the flanks, banded with dai^k-brown and purplish- 
gray; back behind and tail, greenish-brown; crissum, black; wing 
coverts and some of the outer webs of the scapulars, blue; 
other scapulars, velvet-black, or green streaked with pale 
reddish-buff; speculum, glossy-green; outer greater wing cov- 
erts, white, as are the axillaries, middle of under surface of wing, 
and a patch on each side of the base of the tail; bill, black; 
feet, flesh-colored; iris, dark-hazel. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 47 

Length, 16; wing 7.10; tarsus, 1.20; commissure, 1.85. 

Habitat, North America generally. 

Later observations have convinced me that as a species 
they breed much more extensively throughout the State than 
does the Green-winged Teal. In the lacustrine portions, like 
the counties in the northwestern division of the Common 
wealth as well as in the southeastern, I have the fullest assur- 
ances from my local observers to justify the opinion. I have 
found them doing so in five or six localities in my own county, 
(Hennepin.) 

ANAS CYANOPTERA Vieillot. (141.) 

CINNAMON TEAL. 

On a few occasions since I have resided in the State I have 
found one of these beautifal ducks amongst others brought 
into the markets by hunters from the head waters of the Red 
river. On one such occasion my attention was specially called 
to "a hybrid duck" that proved to be one of these. I have 
been accustomed to seeing them in Lower California, where they 
are at home the year around. Of course those seen are rare 
stragglers, but as an occasional individual may continue to be 
seen, I will reproduce their brief description. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

General color a rich, dark purplish chestnut; top of head, 
chin and middle of belly, tinged with brown; crissum, dark- 
brown; fore part of back, lighter with two or three more or 
less interrupted concentric bars of dark brown; feathers of 
rump and tail, greenish-brown, the former edged with paler; 
wing coverts, and outer webs of some scapulars, blue, others 
dark velvet-green, streaked centrally with yellowish-buff; edges 
of wing coverts, white, as are the axillaries and middle of wing 
beneath; feathers of uniform chestnut, without bands; specu- 
lum, metallic green. 

Length, 17.80; wing, 7.50; tarsus, 1.15; commissure, 2, 

Habitat, western America. 

SPATULA CLYPEATA (L ). (142.) 
SHOVELLER. 

In driving across the high rolling prairie a few miles south- 
west of Fort Snelling, I discovered a female of this species in 
the distance, laboriously waddling through the grass less than 
one foot in height, up a gentle slope. A familiar muskrat 
pond of moderate size lay between me and the duck, from the 
shores of which emerged numerous paths of the muskrats which 



48 NOTES ON THE 

could be indistinctly seen, even at that distance. These are 
generally very irregular in their course, greatly increasing 
the distance to any point they approach, and hence very mis- 
leading to any one not aware of their habits. It occurred to 
me at once that she was following such a devious way, as she 
advanced so indirectly and apparently hesitatingly. She never 
paused, however, until having arrived at a spot quite near a 
solitary bunch, or patch of rank growth, when after a moment's 
pause, and survey, she dropped her briefly elevated head and 
disappeared in that patch of rank vegetation. Except the re- 
stricted covert thus afforded, she could scarcely have selected 
a more exposed location, as it was jilainly in view for a dis- 
tance of three-fourths of a mile in the direction from which I 
saw her, and only a little less in any other one except directly 
opposite my location, which was slightly interrupted by the 
further elevation of the land. Marking down the location with- 
out the slightest difficulty,! drove on to my destination, not very 
far beyond, passing much nearer to the spot in my way, I did not 
return for some two hours, but on doing so drove directly to 
the spot and upon carefully parting the rank prairie grass, 
avoided by the grazing cattle on account of its being the pro- 
duct of a deposit of their offal late in the previous year, I at 
once discovered the nest with five pale greenish-yellow eggs.* 
They had the faintest tinge of olivaceous- gray, and measured 
on an average, a little more than 2 by 1.50 inches. Being called 
to the same place again after ten days, I drove to the spot, and 
drove the duck from her nest to find she had fourteen eggs, 
settling the question of her depositing one each day after she 
began laying. My discovery of the nest was on the 23d day of 
May. In early seasons they occasionally arrive in their 
spring migration by the 5th of April, but usually somewhat 
later. More commonly they are then seen in small flocks only, 
yet I have known them in an exceptional year to appear in 
very large ones, but when such is the case I have observed 
that such flocks do not remain long, but pass on north further, 
suggesting that their destination is probably the highest lati- 



*VVhen referring to the habits of the Shovellers iti breeding, I should have said that 
while they frequently go so far frora the water to build their nests, such is not their 
uniform custom, for more frequently the nests are to be found quite near it. i^neof 
them I found in a clump of rushes within a yard of running water, and another in the 
middle of a broad marsh, half a mile from water deep enough for the duck to swim In. 
The structure consists of such materials as are most easily obtained at and near the 
spot. The one first mentioned, on the open prairie, consisted entirely of dried grass, 
overlaid with feathers from the ijird's own breast; while the latter two were con- 
structed of rushes and reeds. They otherwise are liife most duclc nests, rather firmly 
built of a liberal supply of material The market stalls bear testimony that nearly 
all sections are represented by this species, at least in the game season. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 49 

tudes in which the species breed, and further intimating that 
the smaller flocks which follow are subdivisions of larger ones 
which have begun to disintergrate before reaching us here. 
Their movements at these times do not materially differ from 
those of the Black Ducks on the wing, but the preponderance 
of white in the color easily distinguishes them at all ordinary 
distances and there can be no reason for mistaking them. They 
soon pair, and soon seek their grounds for breeding their 
young. Their food is, as their long, pectinated bills fore- 
shadow, aquatic insects, larvae, tadpoles, worms, &c., which 
are obtained mostly in shallow waters. I have often flushed 
them from muddy pools and frogponds by the roadside before 
the nesting had begun, but never afterwards I think. 

The distribution of the Shovellers is entirely determined by 
the character of the ponds and pools which afford their pecu- 
liar food. In the early autumn, if the frosts are delayed, as 
once until the middle of Octooer, they live almost exclusively 
upon crustaceans and small molluscs, especially snails, which 
abound at that season about the shallow lakes and ponds. 

They disappear very soon upon the advent of the first crisp 
frosts, be that, as in one year, August 30th, or September 30th. 
Their flesh is white and excellent, yet for some unexplainable 
reason is not popular in the average local markets, notwith- 
standing the high esteem in which it is held at the seaboards. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head and neck green; forepart and sides of breast, greater 
portion of scapulars, and of the base of the tail, white; rest of 
under parts dull purplish chestnut; crissum, rump, and upper 
tail coverts black, the latter glossed with green; wing coverts 
blue, the posterior row, brown in the concealed portion, and 
tipped with white; longest tertials blue, streaked internally 
with white; others velvet green, streaked centrally with white; 
speculum grass-green, edged very narrowly behind with black, 
and then with white. 

Length, 20; wing, 9.50; tarsus, 1.40; commissure, 3. 

Habitat, Northern Hemisphere. 

DAFILA ACUTA (L.). (143.) 

PINTAIL. 

When the steady advance of the sun has banished the ice 
from the lakes and every pool is ringing with the monotonous 
peepings of the frogs, the Pintails will be found in considera- 
ble numbers on the mud flats of the open level prairies, and ex- 



50 NOTES ON THE 

tensive marshes, where for the time the tadpoles have attracted 
them by their abundance. But they were here before that 
time, having followed closely upon the track of the Mallards 
and other early ducks 

In large and medium flocks, they will then be found along the 
recently opened streams, and in the woodlands where they 
spend much of their time in search of acorns, insects, snails, 
and larvse of different kinds, which are under the wet leaves 
and on the old decaying logs with which the forests abound. 
Under these circumstances, they scatter widely, so that the 
first one encountered will seem to be a wanderer, but a little 
distance away another will be flushed, and so until several 
have flown off before the flock will rise as a whole, and perhaps 
not even then if no gun has been fired to simultaneously disturb 
them. Yet, when in the water they rarely scatter much, but 
swim very compactly as a flock, uttering a low chattering note 
as they move evenly along over the quiet surface. If driven to 
wing, they rise as compactly as they swim, a circumstance in 
their habits which has been noticed through their history, and 
has been made available and profitable by the pothunters. I 
have no reliable evidence that they breed in the southern por- 
tions of the State, but find them doing so limitedly in the mid- 
dle, and commonly in the northern. They have been found 
with the young in July in several localities, and samples of 
their eggs which were taken from their nests in early June in 
Becker county have been sent to me by Mr. Blanche of Detroit. 
Mr. Treganowan reported the presence of the species in Kan- 
diyohi county in June and July, and Mr. Lewis in early August 
at Big Stone. Near Herman in Grant county, a German farmer 
saw them at different times during the summer, and shot some 
of them in August which he had mounted, that established 
their identity. I was many years ago told that this species was 
breeding in Medina in my own county, but never having found 
them breed myself, I took this statement with some qualifica 
tion until I found the adult birds myself, following which the 
eggs were brought to me from the same vicinity by Mr. J. C. 
Bailey, who resided there for many years. 

They are among the shyest of the Duck family, and might 
elude common observation for a long period in any section 
while fairly represented. About the second week in October, 
often somewhat earlier, they begin to leave us in this locality, 
and are all gone by the first of November. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 51 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail of sixteen feathers; bill black above and laterally at the 
base; the sides and beneath, blue; head and upper part of neck 
uniformly daik brown, glossed with green and purple behind; in- 
ferior part of neck, breast, and under parts white; the white of 
the neck passes up to the nape, separating the brown, and it- 
self is divided dorsally by black, which below passes into the 
^ray of the back; sides, and back anteriorly are finely lined 
transversely with black and white; wings, plain bluish gray; 
greater coverts, w^ith a terminal bar of purplish buff, below 
w^hich is a greenish purple speculum, margined behind by black 
and tipped with white; longest tertials striped with silvery and 
greenish black; scapulars black, edged with silvery; crissum 
and elongated tail feathers black, the former edged with white. 

Length, 30; wing, 11; tail, 8.60; tarsus, 1.75; commissure, 
2.86. 

Habitat, North America. 

AIX SPONSA (L.). (144.) 
WOOD. 

Peerless amongst its entire family for its indescribable beauty 
stands the Wood Duck. The nearest to a rival in the Duck 
kingdom is the Mandarin Duck of Asia. But the difference be- 
tween the two makes comparison odious. It is at once the 
Prince of Ducks. The most truthful and esthetic description 
of the mature male could reach no nearer the limning realitj'^, 
than the coldest prose could paint the rainbow. Science, after 
all her most imposing assumptions, would sit down and weep 
before the task, in blank despair. The impotence of all at- 
tempts has smirched the skirts of hope by what has been as- 
sayed in its systematic as well as its vernacular nomenclature. 
Aix Sponsa! Shades of Linnaeus, weep cold, clammy tears for 
thine irremediable dereliction! Wood Duck! Summer Duck! 

Arriving simultaneously with the other earlier species, none 
other braves the last rigors of the departing wiater in the clos- 
ing days of a Minnesota March with greater spirit. And when 
they come, like the rains of the tropics, they pour in until 
every pool in the woodlands has been deluged with them. This 
may sound strangely and exaggerated to ears unfamiliar with 
the history of bird life on the borders of civilization, yet such 
has heretofore been my personal observation at the very loca- 
tion of our city. Wilson and other writers who have described 
the habits of the Wood Duck have uniformly stated that "they 
seldom fly in flocks of more than three or four individuals to- 
gether, and most commonly in pairs or singly." A little later 



52 NOTES ON THE 

than the time in spring of which I have written such state 
ments become true, for after a short time following their ar- 
rival, they are only seen in smaller flocks, and then only in 
pairs, after which, by the first of May, not at all, for the pairs 
have entered upon their mission of reproduction. Audubon's 
description of their nidifications, so often quoted, tells it so ex- 
tremely well that it would be in almost bad taste to undertake 
another. He says: "In Louisiana and Kentucky, where I have 
had better opportunities of studying their habits in this respect, 
they generally pair about the first of March, sometimes a fort- 
night earlier. I never Jcnew one of these birds to form a nest 
on the ground, or on the branches of a tree. They appear at all 
times to prefer the hollow, broken portion of some large branch, 
the hole of our laige Woodpecker [Picus principalis), or the de- 
serted retreat of the fox squirrel; and I have frequently been 
surprised to see them go in and out of a hole of any one of 
these, when their bodies while on the wing seemed to be nearly 
half as large again as the aperture, within which they had de 
posited their eggs. Once only I found a nest (with ten eggs) 
in the fissure of a rock on the Kentucky river, a few miles be- 
low Frankfort. Generally, however, the holes to which they 
betake themselves, are either over deep swamps, above cane- 
brakes, or on broken branches of high sycamores, seldom more 
than forty or fifty feet from the water. 

' 'They are much attached to their breeding places, and for 
three successive years I found a pair near Henderson, in Ken- 
tucky, with the eggs, in the beginning of April, in the 
abandoned nest of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. 

"The eggs, which are from six to fifteen, according to the age 
of the bird are placed on dry plants, feathers, and a scanty 
portion of down, which I believe is mostly plucked from the 
breast of the female. They are perfectly smooth, nearly 
eliptical, of a light color, between buff and pale green, two in- 
ches in length by one and a half in diameter. No sooner has 
the female completed her set of eggs than she is abandoned by 
her mate, who now joins others, which form themselves into 
considerable flocks, and thus remain apart till the young are 
able to fly, when old and young of both sexes come together, 
and so remain until the commencement of the next breeding 
season. 

' 'In all of the nests I have examined I have been rather sur- 
prised to find a quantity of feathers belonging to birds of 
other species, even those of the domestic fowls, and particu- 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 53 

larly those of the Wild Goose and. Wild Turkey. On coming- 
on a nest with eggs, when the bird was absent in search of 
food, I have always found the eggs covered with feathers and 
down, although quite out of sight, in the depths of a Wood- 
pecker's or Squirrel's hole. 

' 'On the contrary when the nest was placed on the broken 
branch of a tree it could easily be observed from the ground, 
on account of the feathers, dead sticks, and withered grasses 
about it. If the nest is placed immediately over the water, 
the young, the moment they are hatched, scramble to the 
mouth of the hole, launch into the air with their little wings 
and feet spread out and drop into their favorite element; but 
whenever their birthplace is some distance from it, the mother 
carries them to it one by one in her bill, holding them so as 
not to injure their yet tender frame. On several occasions 
however, when the hole was thirty, forty, or more yards from 
a bayou or other piece of water, I observed that the mother 
suffered the young to fall on the grass and dried leaves 
beneath the tree, and afterward led them directly to the 
nearest edge of the next pool or creek. At this early age, the 
young answer to their parents' call with a mellow pee, pee, 
pee-e. often and rapidly repeated. The call of the mother at 
such times is low, soft, and ]3rolonged, resembling the sylla- 
bles pe-ee, pe-ee. The watch note of the male, which resembles 
hoe-eek, is never uttered by the female; indeed, the male him- 
self seldom uses it, unless alarmed by some uncommon sound, 
or the sight of a distant enemy, or when intent on calling 
passing birds of his own species. " 

I may be pardoned for my enthusiasm over this mag- 
nificent duck, when I state that I have enjoyed better op- 
portunities for carefully studying its habits than of any 
other species, and the capture of a male in the per- 
fection of his vernal plumage, was my first attainment 
in loing shooting some thirty years ago. Without a single 
stain of blood on it to mar Its wondrously beautiful adornment, 
Mr. Wm. H. Howling, of my city, mounted it for me in the 
perfection of taxidermic art, so that now after so long a time 
it is in excellent condition and on the shelves of the museum 
of the Minnesota Academy of Natural Sciences. It was 
immortalized in the interests of science in its tragic death, at 
a spot now embraced in the heart of this great and phenom- 
enal city. Since that evening, how many occasions for observ- 
ing the species have I recorded amongst my notes on the 



54 NOTES ON THE 

ducks of the commonwealth I In the denser portion of the vast 
forest which embraces the inlets and bays of many clear and 
beautiful lakes, I have cautiously sought a quiet covert toward 
the evening of a warm day, from which to observe this 
charming species in spring. Perfectly concealed in the 
thickets within a yard of the deeply shadowed water, with my 
field glass in hand, I have many times watched them by 
hundreds, until the darkness hid them from my sight. These 
occasions were in the season of their love, when the matchless 
plumage of the males was displayed as at no other time in 
their entire history. With the crest elevated, and like a 
coronet on the head which is drawn backward as proudly as 
the swan's, each male, an undisputed monarch of the mirror 
lake, glides here and there, in and out in his ingenious and 
undisguised endeavors to outdo every other in his imperial 
display, until the seething resplendence seems to be one 
moving scene of grace and indescribable beauty. During this 
wondrous spectacular exhibition of motion, the woodland 
echoes have frequently borne away the characteristic and 
impassioned notes of the rival lovers, o-o-o-eek, o-o-o-eek. 
Thus completely concealed as I was they would approach me 
closer and closer as the shadows deepened until verily I could 
have touched the nearer birds with a coachman's whip. 

At such times, by the aid of my constantly adjusted glass, I 
could have numbered the very barbs of the primaries while they 
paused to redress a recreant feather. I have found the nest of 
this duck as early as the 15th of April, yet I think the average 
of the nesting is not entered upon until about the 10th of May, 
or a little later. Irdeed, one instance came under my notice 
where the location was selected on the twenty- seventh of that 
month, but it is more than probable that the bird had been 
robbed of another of earlier date. That they rear two broods 
occasionally seems very certain from their being found at dif- 
ferent times with a young brood as late as July third, to the 
tenth of that month. The location and character of the nest 
have been given by the quotation from Audubon. Those eggs 
which it has been my fortune to obtain have been pale green, 
buff colored, and variously from six to fourteen in number. 
Many flocks of this species linger until very late in the autumn. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head and crest metallic green to below the eyes; the cheeks 
and a stripe from behind the eyes purplish; a narrow, short 
line from the upper angle of the bill along the side of the 
crown, and through the crest, another on the upper eyelid; a 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 55 

stripe starting below and behind the eye and running into the 
crest parallel with the one first mentioned, the chin and upper 
part of the throat sending a well defined branch up towards 
the eye, and another towards the nape, snow white; lower neck 
and jugulum, and sides of the base of the tail, rich purple; the 
jugulum with triangular spots of white and a chestnut shade; 
remaining under parts white, as in a crescent in front of the 
wing bordered behind by black; sides yellowish gray, finely 
lined with black, the long feathers of the flanks broadly black 
at the end, with a subterminal bar, and sometimes a tip of 
white; back and neck above nearly uniform bronze, green 
and purple; scapulars and innermost tertials velvet-black 
glossed on the inner webs with violet; the latter with a 
white bar at the end; greater coverts violet succeeded by a 
greenish speculum, tipped with white; primaries silvery white 
externally towards the end; the tips internally violet and 
purple; iris red. 

Length, 19; wing, 9.50; tarsus, 1.40; commissure, 1.55. 

Habitat, North America. 

My numerous correspondents have uniformly mentioned this 
species as common, and breeding in their localities, if in the 
timbered lands. Dr. Hvoslef only mentions them thus com- 
mon, but says nothing of their nesting at Lanesboro or vicinity. 

Mr. Lewis found their nests at several points in the north- 
ern sections he visited, and always under the Audubon con- 
ditions. 

Mr. Washburn, always accurate and circumstantial, says, 
abundant, and breeding at Devil's lake.'' 

AYTHYA AMERICAN! (Eyton). (146.) 

RED HEAD. 

Amongst the numerous sportsmen who have long resided in 
Minnesota, the great paradise of duck-shooters, not one will 
be found who does not know the Red head at sight, and few of 
them will fail to identify him under all the various circumstan- 
ces in which he is ever met with. Introduce the subject of 
duck-hunting, and "ten to one " he will refer to this species 
next to the first one mentioned, and will ask if any other game 
duck is so capricious in the numbers of its annual representa- 
tion, while at the same time he narrates their incredible abund- 
ance during the spring or fall of some year and their scarcity 
in the year following perhaps. This has truly been a remark- 
able characteristic in the case of this well known species. To 
some extent this is characteristic of all species of ducks, but 
in few if any, as emphasized as in the history of the Red- 
heads. They arrive about as early as any others, and dis- 
appear very little earlier than the latest. 

5z 



56 NOTES ON THE 

In the spring of 1863 they were never so numerous, both in 
spring and in fall migration; and in the following year they 
were almost unrepresented 

Again they were abundant in 1867, and comparatively scarce 
in the following year, and so during their entire recorded 
local history they have varied in their numbers. 

They do not remain with us usually to exceed about two 
weeks, when all have moved off to still more northern latitudes 
for incubation. Nothing could be more characteristic of their 
habits while with us, than their seeking the mouths of the 
streams where they debouche into the lakes. When not on the 
wing or in the woods feeding upon the mast, we know where to 
look for them, especially on a cloudy, windless day. The only 
reason I have for thinking that they breed in the northern 
counties is, that they have been seen in several places in June, 
and again in early August. 

Although he found them common in October at different 
places in Otter Tail county, Mr. Washburn makes no mention 
of them in his August observations in the same section, from 
which I am left to presume that there could not have been any 
indications of their breeding there. Mr. Lewis extended his 
explorations much farther north, and finding the males occa- 
sionally, very reasonably concluded that the species bred to 
some extent within our borders. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill as long as head, broad, blue, the end black, the region 
anterior to the nostrils dusky; head, and neck for more than 
half its length, brownish-red, glossed above and behind with 
violaceous red ; rest of neck and body anterior to the shoulders, 
lower part of back and tail coverts, black; beneath white, 
sprinkled with gray and black anterior to the crissum; sides, 
interscapulars, and scapulars, finely lined with undulating 
black and white in nearly equal proportions, imparting a gen- 
eral gray tint; wing coverts a bluish-gray, finely sprinkled 
with whitish; speculum, consisting of the ends of the secondar- 
ies, hoary grayish-blue, lightest externally, and the innermost 
narrowly edged externally with black; basal portion of the 
inner primaries somewhat similar to the speculum; tail of 
fourteen feathers; iris orange-yellow. The Red heads are 
easily distinguished from the Canvasback by the shorter and 
broader bill, absence of brown on the head, and a greater pre- 
dominance of black in the waved lines. 

Length, 20.50; wing, 9.50; tarsus, 1.60; commissure, 2.80. 

Habitat, North America. 



BIRDS OP MINNESOTA. 5r 

AYTHYA YALLISNERIA (Wilson). (147.) 

CANVAS-BACK. 

Although so famous among sportsmen and epicures at the 
seaboard, this species loses its preferments in our waters, and 
upon our Minnesota tables, taking a second place in both. As a 
general thing they appear to reach us about the same time as 
the Redheads do, but this is not always the case for, as inti- 
mated when speaking of the latter, it may abound when the 
Canvas-back entirely fails to put in an appearance, as in 1863. 
In the following year — that is, in 1864 — the Red heads were 
barely represented, while the present species were exceptionally 
common for the species. Again in 1886, they were common in 
the autumn, but sparingly represented in the preceding spring. 

When observed in the spring migration, they remain about 
two weeks, and are then found on lakes, streams and 
marshy ponds, feeding upon aquatic vegetation, crustaceans, 
molhiscs, insects and larvee of different kinds. They never 
appear to scruple about appropriating a small fish that comes 
in their way upon occasion. They return from the north 
ordinarily about the first week in October, and after a stay of 
about two weeks, or a little more, move on southward. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill long, slender and tapering; head all around and neck 
chestnut; top of head and region around the base of the bill 
dusky brown; rest of neck, body anterior to the shoulders, 
back behind, rump and tail coverts, black; under parts white; 
region anterior to anus, sides, interscapulars and scapulars, 
white, finely dotted in transverse lines with black the white 
greatly predominating; speculum bluish-gray lighter extern- 
ally; innermost secondaries of the speculum edged externally 
with black; iris carmine. 

Length, 20; wing, 9.30; tarsus, 1.70; commissure, 2.65. 

Habitat, nearly all of North America. 

I have always been incredulous as to the special claims of 
this duck for the table, and having enjoyed ample opportunities 
for comparisons, which not only embrace different species, but 
the same species inland and on the seaboards of both coasts, I 
do not hesitate to say that whether obtained in one or the other 
section, the culinary preparation being equal, the Canvas-back 
is equally desirable for eating, and that but for "the seaboard 
fashion" in the case, this duck would, instead of having the 
first place in epicurean distinction, have one much nearer 
to the second. Duck-meat, like a good many other things, is 
affected very much by the "environments" when eaten. A 
good cook is the chief one of those, and a good appetite stands 
next. To under value the Canvas- bacK: is an inland "fastiion." 



58 NOTES ON THE 

AYTHYA MARILl NEARCTICA Stejneger. (148.) 
GREATER SCAUP DUCK. 

The comon name, Blue-bill, is the only one known to the 
vernacular of our local sportsmen. Amongst the earlier mi- 
grants of its sub-family, the Blue-bills come to us in the first 
ranks of the duck hosts of late March. It seems as if "when 
one comes, all come," but the number vary, like some other 
species, with the seasons, sometimes overshadowing any, 
indeed every other species for a short time. At these times 
they frequent all waters, pools by the wayside — shallow 
lakes, ponds, streams and marshes, but still discover to the 
critical observer, a preference for estuaries. These afford 
them such food as the high waters bring down from the inun- 
dations of the higher lands. 

They fly in very close, compact flocks, which, however large 
upon their first arrival, are soon broken into smaller ones of 
about a dozen to twenty, and are much on the wing when the 
weather is cloudy and windy. "When on the water at consider- 
able distance, their identification is not ordinarily difficult, on 
account of their huddling together very closely, and their 
habit of constantly diving. They are about the tamest of the 
wild ducks, and almost the stupidest also, for after having 
been repeatedly fired into, and driven to wing, they will return 
by a short circle to nearly the same locality until a consid- 
erable portion of the flock has been killed. 

During the last week in April, and the first in May they dis- 
appear, after which only an occasional male is seen through 
the summer in the low wet marshes. They build their nests of 
reeds and grass, on the ground in remote marshes and swamps, 
about the second week in May, and deposit eight to ten eggs 
colored pale drab, and dingy with a wash of olivaceous. The 
first nest to which my attention was called by Mr. Lewis, was 
located within three miles of this city, near a sluggish stream 
connecting two lakes. It contained but three eggs on the thir- 
teenth of May, but was not disturbed until containing eight, 
only one of which I was permitted to retain. I think there are 
relatively few that breed as far south as where my personal 
observations have been principally made, but they are as com- 
mon as any other species about Lake Superior during the sum- 
mer in the marshes. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 59 

Mr. Washburn states that they are reputedly regular summer 
residents, and breed near Fergus Falls in rather limited num- 
bers. He regarded them as a moderately represented species 
in the breeding season, the larger proportion going further 
north. In each of my personal explorations in Wright, Meeker, 
and Kandiyohi counties, I have carefully sought for informa- 
tion respecting the nidifying habits of this species in those 
sections, and have been so far rewarded as to find their eggs in 
the possession of several persons residing there, and obtain 
such detailed descriptions as to the location of the nests, and 
general habits of the Blue-bills as leaves no doubt of their 
breeding there, though nowhere numerously. I was shown 
the deserted nest in one instance, but their well known resem- 
blance to those of the Mallards in both location and structure, 
robbed the observation of all value in the absence of the eggs 
and the duck. In every shooting season the variation of the 
measures of the Blue- bills has arrested the attention of sports- 
men as well as naturalists, yet very few have overlooked their 
persistent habits enough to confound them with the Little 
Black-heads (A. affinis). Under my notes of measurements for 
thirty years the variations in this species have never exceeded 
20.75 inches in length; wing, 9.25; nor fallen below 17.50 and 
8, while the Little Black-heads have been between 17.50 in 
length; with the wing, 8; and 15, in length, with the wing, 
7.25. I have never doubted the specific distinction of these 
two ducks since I became more familiar with their habits, 
although inclined to do so before; but I cannot account for 
intermediate forms, or rather intergrading measurements, by 
any proportionate hybridism, as has been so stoutly obtained. 
Although they are here so assuredly during the entire season, 
their habits do not make them specially observed to any marked 
extent, until they begin to gather into appreciable flocks late 
in the autumn; often into November, after which they remain 
but a short time. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head and neck all around, jugulum and shoulders, lower part 
of back, tail, and coverts, black; head with a gloss of dark 
green on sides; rest of under parts white; feathers on lower 
parts of belly and side, the long feathers of the flanks, inter 
scapular and scapulars white, waved in zigzag transversely 
with black; greater and middle wing coverts similarly marked 
but more finely and obscurely; greater coverts tow^ards the 
tips and the tertials greenish black; speculum white, bordered 
behind by greenish black; white extending across the w^hole of 



60 NOTES ON THE 

the central portion of the secondaries; outer primaries and tips 
of all, brownish-black; inner ones pale gray; the central line 
dusky; axillars and middle of the inferior surface of the wing, 
white; bi^l blue; nail black; legs plumbeous; iris yellow. 

Length, 20; wing, 9; tarsus, 1.60; commissure, 2.15. 

Habitat, North America generally. 

Since the previous was penned, I have recovered some of my 
most valuable notes which had mysteriously disappeared some 
time ago, amongst which is an account of discovery of a full 
nest of this species in the latter part of May, 1877, but a short 
distance from my cottage at Lake Minnetonka. It was built on 
the side of an obsolete, half destroyed old muskrat house, in 
the middle of a reedy lake or pond, formerly a bay-like prong 
of the greater lake itself It was composed of reeds almost en- 
tirely, over which were some grasses, and over this a layer of 
the duck's own feathers. Ten pale, drab colored, dirty eggs, 
w^ith just a perceptible wash of olivaceous, constituted the 
clutch, none of which showed any signs of being addled. The 
Blue-bills breed in all portions of the State I doubt not, much 
more frequently than generally hitherto supposed. 

The reckless presumptions, or rather assumptions of carpet- 
concluders, as to the habits of species about which little was 
formerly known, have deterred many from earnest, expectant 
investigations in sections where the decree had precluded all 
hopes of finding them at all. Over ambitious writers have an- 
ticipated science by gratuitous conclusions upon very small 
data for very large inferences. We feel sorry for them when 
sleeping truth has finished her nap. The world is round, and 
still moves unconcernedly on. 

AYTHYA AFFINIS (Eyton). (149.) 

LESSER SCAUP DUCK. 

It has been often observed that although the Greater Scaup 
Ducks may come to us in the spring or fall migration in great 
numbers, the Lesser Scaup Ducks are just as likely to be only 
sparingly represented, and when on the other hand, the former 
are barely represented, this species will as possibly be found 
abundant; yet this is by no means a rule, for I have not only 
known them to both be here in exceptional numbers, but to be 
equally reduced to a mere representation. I find by referring 
to my records of the dates of arrival of the birds in spring, 
that as a general thing, the species under consideration, has 
been slightly later in arriving at this locality, say three to five 
days. Like the former, they seek the running streams, or 
rather their estuaries, on first reaching this latitude, but very 
soon resort to the swampy marshes and shallow ponds and 
pools. Their food is more restricted to larvae, worms, and 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 61 

crustaceans than is that of the others, and they are a little 
more shy and suspicious. Its presence here through the sea- 
son of reproduction, although by no means abundant, indeed I 
may say rare, shows beyond question that it breeds here to 
some extent at least, but to what is only conjecture until their 
differentiation from the other species is more thoroughly un- 
derstood. Persons entitled to the highest confidence by their 
integrity have expressed themselves certain that they have re- 
peatedly seen the female and young in the marshes in July, 
but science wants a "certainty" which is more certainly as- 
sured than that. Dr. Coues tells us in his Birds of the North- 
west, that he found them ' 'breeding along the upper Missouri 
and Milk river." at least which "appeared to be of this species, 
as were the several specimens examined." Their presence 
there would by no consideration justify an assumption that 
they most likely breed here, for there is a marked difference in 
the climate of the two localities. 

Comparatively few of those persons who have taken pains to 
report local observations of the water birds of the State, have 
recognized the species definitely, but Mr. Washburn has as fol- 
lows: "^ affinis, or Little Black-head, appears to be by far 
the more numerous representative of the family Fuliginae in 
the fall. I found them very numerous indeed at Dead lake be- 
tween October 10th and 20th. Many were shot, varying some- 
what in size and coloration, none measuring over 17.25, and one 
16. There colors too, varying from brownish-black to jet-black, 
and specimens that were but little marked, to those having 
much wavy black in fine lines on back and sides. Undoubtedly 
there are intermediate examples between Afflnis and Marila. 
This subject, and the study of hybridism among Anatidas and 
Fuliginse, I trust I shall be able to investigate in the future. 
October 11th an adult female affinis secured in Otter Tail 
county,' measured 16.50, 7.50, 2.50; and another from the same 
place measured 17.25, 7.75. 8." 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill blue; nail black; head, neck, forepart of breast, back 
anterior to shoulder, lower part of back, tail and its coverts, 
black; head with violet-purple reflections, changing occasion- 
ally to green; belly and sides, with axillaries. and central por- 
tion of inner surfaces of wings pure white; lower part of belly 
near anus, undulated finely wnth black spots; inter scapular 
region and scapulars white, with transverse zigzag bands or 
lines of black which are much further apart in the scapulars, 



52 NOTES ON THE 

which consequently are whiter; wings blackish; lesser and 
middle coverts sprinkled with grayish; speculum white, edged 
behind with greenish-black, which is also the color of the ter- 
tials; white of speculum crosses the middle of the secondaries; 
iris yellow. 

Length, 3 6.50; wing, 8; tarsus, 1.35; commissure 2. 

Habitat, North America generally. 

These Ducks are frequently more numerous than any other 
species in the fall, not excepting the Bufile-heads. They re- 
tire southward about as much in advance of the Blue- bills as 
they arrive later in spring. 

AYTHYA COLLARIS (Donovan). (150.) 

RING-NECKED DUCK. 

In the spring of 1861, and again in 1867, this species seemed 
to overshadow every other in numbers, and there have been few 
years in which it has not had a fairly common representation. 
They arrive about the same time in spring as do the Greater 
Scaups, but seek the lakes and ponds rather than the streams. 
Their movements on the wing are quite characteristic, and 
enable those familiar with the flight of different species of 
ducks, to single them out very readily. In one respect they 
remind us of the Golden- eyes. On rising from the water, 
their flight, always vigorous, is attended with a whisting 
sound, so distinct as to assure their identity even while yet 
invisible to the eye, and when visible, the flocks are easily 
determined by their loose, scattered mode of arrangement. 
They are more suspicious, and vigilant than some other mem- 
bers of the genus, and give the gun a wide birth after discov- 
ering that it is loaded. They are good divers, and feed upon 
minnows, crayfish, tadpoles, aquatic roots, insects, and grains 
or seeds, according to their prevalence at the season. The 
larger part of them move northward before the first of May, 
but some remain here to breed, their nests having been occa- 
sionally found as far towards the southern border of the State 
as Heron lake in Jackson county, in Hennepin and Becker coun- 
ties, and in the vicinity of Big Stone lake, thus indicating a wide 
distribution. As early as the summer of 1863, reports reached 
me of their being seen during the breeding season along the 
Minnesota river, and again in 1869, a farmer residing near 
Rice lake in Anoka county, who claimed to know most of the 
prominent species of game ducks, insisted that the Ring necks 
stayed around the lake all summer, as he had flushed one of 
them several times in a marsh bordering it. In driving back and 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 63 

forth to my cottage on Lake Minnetonka during many succes- 
sive summers, I noticed now and then in the early mornings, 
an occasional solitary duck flying along the course of Minne- 
haha creek that looked in the distance like the male of this 
species. 

Afterwards Mr. T. S. Roberts found the nest at a point not 
very remote from where I had noticed those males, as he 
informed me. Since then I have found this species breeding 
in several localities in the vicinity of Minneapolis, and in 
Kandiyohi county. I am satisfied that it does so generally 
throughout the State. Of the seventeen eggs I have had the 
opportunity to see in the nest and in the possession of a col- 
lector in my employment, the average measurements were, 
2.25 by 1.60 inches. They were white, with a pale wash of 
green, that varied considerably in intensity, being deepest 
before they had been blown. The nests were variously placed 
from on a muskrat house, as in the case of the one found by 
Mr. Roberts, to a fiat spot in the thick rice bordering a small 
lake, as found by my collector. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill blackish, with a basal and subterminal bar of bluish- 
white; head, neck, and body all around anterior to the 
shoulders, back and tail-coverts, black; the head glossed with 
green above, on the sides with purplish- violet; the back green- 
ish; middle of neck with a narrow chestnut ring, subcontin- 
uous above; under parts, and space immediately anterior to 
the shoulder white; space anterior to the black of the 
crissum, and the sides, very finely waved with black; scapulars 
very slightly sprinkled with dots of grayish; wings plain 
grayish-brown; speculum, consisting of the terminal half of 
most of the secondaries, grayish plumbeous, the innermost of 
them tipped with white; point of chin white. 

Length, 18; wing, 8; tarsus, 1.30; commissure, 2.10. 

Habitat, North America. 

Since writing the above, I have recovered some notes 
mislaid, in which I find that both of my assistants, Messrs. 
Lewis and Treganowan, have recognized their breeding in Big 
Stone and Becker counties. The former upon finding them 
frequently in the breeding season, and the latter having found 
the nest in Becker in 1879. Mr. Washburn found them well 
represented among the ducks, breeding at Mud lake in Otter 
Tail county. Mr. J. M. Holzinger says in a communication to 
me in 1887, that this species is more abundant at Winona than 
A. afflnis, but he makes no mention of its local breeding 



64 



NOTES ON THE 



habits. When there shall have been a more extended explora- 
tion -of the northern portions of the State, during the mid- 
summer, I feel confident that it will be found that the Ring 
necks breed there as commonly as in any other locality or 
district of its entire range. 

GLAUCIONETTA CLANGULA AMERICANA 

(BONAP.). (151.) 

AMERICAN GOLDEN- EYE. 

This Duck returns with rather more than ordinary regularity 
as a migrant but is rarely observed here in the season of 
breeding. Small flocks may be seen occasionally in winter, 
especially at times of exceptionally severe weather. They are 
almost uniformly amongst the earliest to reach us in the 
spring, while the lakes and streams are yet sealed with ice, 
except spots along the shores and where the currents are 
more rapid in the streams. 

The whistling of their wings in flight is a generic character- 
istic, and is often heard before the duck is visible. They 
remain but a short time, but in autumn they sometimes 
reappear as early as the second week in October, when they 
remain in flocks of a dozen to twenty, about as late as any of 
the other species, after which they principally disappear. In 
early times small flocks remained in the spring-holes along the 
Minnesota river bottoms and below the Falls of St. Anthony 
all winter, which they may still do in wild, and unfrequented 
sections. On the 3d of February, 1886, one of the coldest 
days experienced during that winter, they were seen on the 
river at Lanesboro in Fillmore county, by Dr. Hvoslef, and by 
others who reported them from several widely different sec- 
tions. Neither of my earlier lieutenants ever met the Golden- 
eye except rarely in the colder winters, and Mr. Washburn 
found them there in the sections he visited even in the spring 
migrations. He saw a few individuals at Dead lake, bu t they 
were universally in immature plumage. 

I have been assured by local sportsmen at Herman in Grant 
county, that "a few Whistlers" have been seen near there late 
in the breeding season, and from similar assertions by those 
who seemed to know the species under its common name of 
Whistler, I am compelled to believe that laggards may occa- 
sionally be overtaken by the impulse and urgency of ovular ex- 
pulsion, and rear a brood within our borders. I find this im- 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 65 

jiression thoroughly rooted in the minds of several experienced 
observers whose opportunities have been exceptionally good, 
and have extended through a longer residence than mine. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill, black; head, and upper part of neck, glossy green; un- 
der surface opaque velvety purplish-black; an elliptical patch 
along the base of the upper mandible anterior to the eye, lower 
part of the neck, under parts generally, sides, middle and 
greater wing coverts, innermost secondaries, and tertials (ex- 
cept the innermost three or four) white; white on wing a con- 
tinuous patch, although there is a concealed black bar on the 
bases of the greater coverts; inner scapulars white, margined 
externally with black; posteriorly however they are black, 
streaked centrally with white; inner scapulars and tertials, and 
the w^hole back, rump, and lesser wing coverts, black; prima- 
ries and tail black with a hoary gloss ; under side of quills and 
lower greater coverts plumbeous -gray; rest of under wing 
and axillars sooty- brown; long white feathers of iianks edged 
superiorly with black; iris, golden-yellow. 

Length, 18.75; wing, 8.50; tarsus, 1.50; commissure, 2. 

Habitat, North America. 

GLAUCIONETTA ISLANDICA (Gmelin). (152.) 
BARROW'S GOLDEN-EYE. 

If the measurements given by systematists were reliably 
specific, I could report this species with more confidence, but 
those, as well as all of the specific characters given definitely, 
grade into each other so completely that I do not feel like 
speaking with the confidence I otherwise would in many, or 
rather several instances. Still, one specimen obtained in 1877, 
and another in 1881 were well made out; both having been 
brought in from beyond the Big Woods by sportsmen who 
called them "Whistlers." Last year one was sent me from 
near the low^a state line which was a typical bird, and Dr. 
Hvoslef has a female of this species in excellent plumage. 

I must conclude that they are rare, but less so than I once 
supposed. I think it quite possible that amongst those reputed 
to remain in open waters through the winter, this species may 
yet be found most represented. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head and neck all around a bluish violet, occasionally with 
green, or purplish reflections; a large white patch anterior to 
the eye, occupying the entire side of the bill and running up in 
a point on the forehead; low^er neck and underparts generally 



66 NOTES ON THE 

white; a narrow white patch on the middle wing coverts; 
greater coverts black, tipped with white, which is continuous 
with the white secondaries, but separated from that on the 
middle coverts; anterior scapulars white, edged externally 
with black; posterior ones black, with a white central streak; 
rest of upper parts, sides behind, and tibia, black; long feath- 
ers of the flank white, tipped and edged above with black. 

Length, 22.50; wing, 9.50; tarsus, 1.60; commissure, 1.80. 

Habitat, Northern North America. 

CHARITONETTA ALBEOLl (L.). (153.) 
BUFPLE-HEAD. 

Occasionally, during the entire summer, individuals of this 
species have been seen along the shores of the larger lakes 
bordered by timber, as also along the Minnesota river in the 
vicinity of Shakopee. Such has been my confidence that to a 
limited extent they breed here, that I have left no opportunity 
unimproved to discover the final proof in the finding of a 
veritable nest. But for this testimony I must still wait, not- 
withstanding the oft repeated assurances of several persons 
that they have found them. In one instance my hopes had 
been nearly realized when I found the nest to be that of the 
Wood Duck {Aix sponsa). In another, where the species was 
apparently well known and excellently described, proved to be 
quite another, the nest of which was on the ground, which 
however was so elevated that in passing to it the female 
appeared to go into a hollow limb immediately in front of it. 
They reach the principal portions of the State oftentimes 
before there are lakes enough open to allow them to get to 
their chosen food, the mussels and small fry. The flocks in 
spring migration are usually small compared with those of late 
autumn, averaging no more than ten to twenty ducks, while at 
the later one, they often exceed five times those numbers. 
They are incessant divers, and very fleet in their movements 
under the water, seizing minnows like the true fish ducks, 
which element of food becomes evident in the deterioration of 
their flesh for the table. 

The principal northern migration of the species is over by 
the 1st of May, flocks of three or four, and even only pairs re- 
maining a little later. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill blue; head and neck anteriorly, dark colored; region in 
front of the eye, and on the sides of the collar behind, rich 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 67 

green, which shades into purplish on the upper and under 
surfaces of the head; a broad patch on each side of the head 
from the posterior border of the eye, meeting its fellow on the 
nape, the lower neck all around, under parts generally, wing 
coverts (except the lesser) and most of the secondaries, and 
scapulars, white, the latter narrowly edged externally with 
black; rest of upper parts, except as described, black, passing 
gradually, on the upper tail coverts into pale gray; axillars, 
and under wing coverts, sooty brown, more or less tipped with 
white; iris hazel. 

Length, 15; wing, 6.65; tarsus, 1.25; commissure, 1.45. 

Habitat, North America. 

CLANGULA HYEMALIS (L.). (154.) 

OLD-SQUAW. 

In local popular parlance this species is variously called by 
the following names: Old-wife, Old-squaw, Old South-southerly, 
Long-Tailed Duck. I heard of this Duck through the leading 
sportsmen for several years before I saw it, after which it 
soon became familiar to me. But it remains here for a short 
time only in either migration, arriving amongst the earliest 
migrating species, and disappearing entirely in a very few 
days. In fall they reach the State only a short time before 
the whole sub family moves southward. 

They usually remain very distinct, in flocks of from a dozen 
to fifty and sixty. Their movements are so characteristic 
on the wing, that having observed them attentively once, they 
need never be mistaken for any other species afterward. 
They are only a little better for the table than a narrow- 
billed Fish Duck. 

From the local observations of casual observers I should be 
led to suppose that this species might remain in Kandiyohi and 
Big Stone counties considerably longer in both migrations than 
I should be able to vouch for from authentic sources beyond 
my personal notice. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill, black, orange-yellow towards the tip; head, neck, and 
breast, very dark blackish-brown; head above, back, rump 
and middle tail feathers, black; whole side of head from the 
bill to behind the eyes and sides of the body, pale bluish-gray; 
portion of cheek patch immediately around and behind the eye, 
with a longitudinal streak each side of the occiput, under parts 
generally, and the more external feathers, white; feathers on 
the forepart of the back, and scapulars, broadly edged with 



68 NOTES ON THE 

light reddish-brown; under wing coverts and axillars, brownish- 
chocolate; no white on the wing; iris, white. 

Length, 21; wing, 9; 'tail, 8; tarsus, 1.50; commissure, 1.60. 

Habitat, Northern Hemisphere. 

HISTRIONICUS HISTRIONICUS (L.). (155.) 
HARLEQUIN DUCK. 

This peculiarly marked duck is found on Lake Superior in 
the winter, and has been obtained once in Grant county, whence 
it was brought here by Mr. Norris on his way to New York 
where he purposed to have it mounted for his private collec- 
tion. On two other occasions a specimen found its way into 
the hands of a taxidermist in St. Paul, and those of another 
residing in Minneapolis temporarily. These could be only 
stragglers in migration, 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head and neck all around, dark blue; jugulum, sides of 
breast, and upper parts, lighter blue, becoming bluish-black 
again on the tail coverts; the blue of the breast passes insensi- 
bly into dark bluish-brown bebind; a broad stripe along the 
top of the head from the bill to the nape, and the tail feathers, 
black; a white patch along the entire side of the base of the 
bill anterior to the eye, and passing upwards and backwards so 
as to border the black of the crown, but replaced from above 
the eye to the nape by chestnut; a round spot on the side of 
the occiput; an elongated one on the side of the neck; a collar 
around the lower part of the neck, interrupted before and 
behind, and margined behind by dark blue; a transversely 
elongated patch on each side of the breast, similarly margined; 
a round spot on the middle wing coverts, a transverse patch on 
the end of the greater coverts, the scapulars in part, a broad 
streak on the outer web of the tertials, and a spot on each side, 
the rest of the tail, white; sides of body behind, chestnut- 
brown; secondaries with a metallic speculum of purplish or 
violet-blue; inside of wing and axillars, dark brown; iris, red- 
dish-brown. 

Length, 17. EO; wing, 7.70; tarsus, 1.50; commissure, 1.55. 

Habitat, northern North America. 

SOMATERIA SPECTABILIS (L ). (162.) 
KING EIDER. 

A pair of these ducks was obtained in Grant county by Mr. 
Emery Armstrong, of Herman, in October, 1885. After con- 
siderable correspondence, I learned that one of them was sent 
to Philadelphia, and the other to some friend in Michigan. 



1 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 69 

The same gentlemaD says that he has seen quite a number of 
them flying over the level prairies in the vicinity of Herman, 
and he has shot several without suspecting it was a rare species 
in the State. The section mentioned where those were obtained 
is a level prairie for a long distance, and abounds with shallow 
ponds so much exposed as to make them the safest of resorts 
for w^ater birds in general, with which it verily swarms in their • 
flocking seasons. It was through Mr. Washburn's courtesy 
that I learned of this pair of King Eiders having been obtained. 
As the locality is a favorite hunting resort of mine, and Mr. 
P. H. Clague resides there, a friend who loves ducks (to eat) 
as well as I do (to list,) 1 propose to settle this regal question 
if it takes a good many duck- seasons to do it in. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Body and wings, black; the portion anterior to the shoulder 
joint, interscapular region in part, most of neck and throat, 
white; jugulum with a creamy tinge; a narrow border to the 
frontal process of the bill and their interspace, small space 
around the eye and a V-shaped mark on the chin, black; top of 
head and nape bluish- ash, slightly spotted with black; middle 
wing coverts, tips of secondaries, axillars, most of under sur- 
face of wing, and a patch on each side of the rump, white; 
sides of head glossed with transparent emerald- green; the 
scapulars have the black tinged with slate. 

Length, 21.50; wing, 10.70; tarsus, 1.85; commissure, 2.53. 

Habitat, northern North America. 

OIDEMIA AMERICANA Swainson & Richardson. (163.) 
AMERICAN SCOTER. 

Only occasionally observed about our smaller inland lakes, 
these Ducks are not uncommon in the vicinity of Duluth on 
Lake Superior in pairs or quite small parties. Sportsmen 
familiar with the seacoast Ducks tell me they sometimes meet 
the Scoters, or *' Coots'" in considerable numbers on the shores 
of Mille Lacs lake. In the winter of 1867 and '68, and again in 
1874 and '75, I found several of them in openings where spring- 
brooks entered the streams, as I did also in the turbulent rapids 
below the Falls of St. Anthony. I have in a few instances seen 
individuals of both sexes in the collections of the local taxider- 
mists. I am informed by Mr. Holzinger of Winona, that one 
specimen is in the possession of Professor Heaton, of the Nor- 
mal school at Winona, which he obtained on the Mississippi, 
just above that city. My observations embrace only the sea- 



70 NOTES ON THE 

sons of migration and occasional winters. The absence of white 
in contrast with the uniform black, identifies the species very 
readily. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail of sixteen feathers; bill much swollen on the basal 
third; basal portion of culmen, convex, and rapidly descend- 
ing; terminal portion of bill much depressed; anterior extrem- 
ity of nostrils half way from the lateral or upper feathers at 
the base of the bill to the tip; swelling at base of bill divided 
by a furrow along the median line; frontal feathers extending 
slightly forward in an obtuse point; color entirely black all 
over, without any white ; bill black along the edges and tip, the 
swollen basal portion red to beyond the nostrils. 

Length, 23.80; wing, 9.20; tarsus, 1.80; commissure, 2.14. 

Habitat, coasts and larger lakes of North America. 

OIDEMIA DEGLANDI Bonaparte. (165.) 
WHITE-WINGED SCOTER. 

The White-winged Scoters are not often seen before the third 
w^eek in October or even a little later than that, and very 
rarely in any considerable numbers. A few of them get into 
the market at such times, but are so unsaleable that they are 
liable to remain on hand some time. Occasionally they are 
purchased and mounted by the taxidermists. Later they are 
only found in open shallow streams where the rapidity of the 
current prevents the formation of ice, and in spring-holes near 
large water courses. More commonly but a pair is found in 
one locality during the winter. Their food consists of molluscs, 
crustaceans and fish, the latter predominating. In open 
w^inters they leave the State by the 15th of March. I have no 
record of their presence later than the 25th of that month. 
Mr. H. W. Howling, of East Minneapolis, has a pair of these 
Ducks mounted in his possession which he has kindly per- 
mitted me to examine very recently. The male had the ' 'white 
elongated patch around and a little behind the eye" excessively 
developed. It reached nearly to the top of the head. The 
female had besides the ' 'whitish patch on the side of the head 
behind the eye," another rather obsolete one in front and be- 
low the eye. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill very broad, wider towards the tip than at the base; 
feathers extending far along the side of the bill, and on the 
forehead for nearly half the commissure, running in an obtuse 
point about as far forward as the lower corner of the outline of 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 71 

the feathers on the side, both reaching nearly to the posterior 
border of the large, open, nearly rounded nostrils; culmen 
horizontal, a little beyond the frontal feathers, then abruptly 
bent downward, nearly perpendicularly to the much depressed, 
nearly horizontal portion; a sharp, indented ridge along the 
base of the culmen, ending in a trihedral tubercle; color black; 
a white elongated patch around, and a little behind the eye, 
and a large white speculum on the wing composed of white 
secondaries and tips of greater coverts; bill black at the base 
and lateral edges red elsewhere; iris bright yellow. 

Length, 21.50; wing, 11.30; tarsus, 2.10; commissure, 2.80. 

Habitat, northern North America. 

ERISMATITRA RUBIDA (Wilson). (167.) 
RUDDY DUCK. 

The habits of this species are such as to make it a little dif- 
ficult to gather much information of them until a good fortune 
has exposed some of their peculiarities to us, as it were by 
accident. I must allow myself to quote a paragraph from 
Langille, "Our Birds in their Haunts," a charming, delight- 
ful, and reliably instructive work which ought to have a place 
in every bird-lover's library in America. Some of his descrip- 
tions are word paintings which rival Audubon's colors. When 
speaking of this unique duck (pp. 471,2) he says: — "An 
anomaly of its kind is this little creature. 

"Some fifteen inches long, and 21.50 in extent, it has a pecu- 
liarly short, and almost round appearance. The long and 
gradual curve of the crown, joined to a bill rather short, broad 
and much depressed is a marked feature; the rather long and 
broad tail, with scarcely any coverts above or below, is decid- 
edly out of order for a Duck; the broad tip of the wing, so 
apparent in flight, would seem more in place for a Coot, or a 
Gallinule; striking seasonal change of plumage in the male 
would do for a Gull, or a Grebe; the large egg, with granulated 
shell, might be mistaken for that of a Goose; while its diving 
propensities would do credit to a Dabchick. Look at that ele- 
gant male, as he floats on the smooth surface of some fresh 
water channel in the breeding season! Almost as motionless as 
a wooden decoy, he holds his large and full spread tail straight 
up, often catching the wind just in the right direction, and 
thus using that appendage for a sail. Jet black over the 
crown and down the back of the neck, cheeks clear white, the 
remaining upper parts a bright, glossy, dark- red, he is a well 
defined object even in the distance. The female (which the 

-6z 



72 NOTES ON THE 

male resembles precisely, from fall till spring) is a dark 
brownish-gray, the throat and broad stripe through the eye 
lighter, both sexes being white, or mottled with gray under- 
neath. 

' 'The young are a little lighter than the female. Except in its 
sojourn in the south in winter, where it may be seen in im- 
mense flocks, especially in Florida, it is generally in small 
flocks after the manner of the Buffl.e-head. 

' 'When rising from the water, it runs on the surface for some 
distance, and generally against the wind. If it cannot com- 
mand a fair open space for flight, it will dive, using its tail 
either as a rudder, or as a paddle in a vertical motion, and will 
hide itself away among the grass and sedges. "When on the 
wing, it flies low along the surface of the water, with a rapid 
beat of its broad wings, making a short, plump figure, quite 
uncommon for a Duck; and it generally flies quite a distance 
before alighting." 

It arrives from the south not far from the second week in 
April, possibly a week or ten days earlier, for as has already 
been intimated, their low unheralded flight, along between the 
banks of the streams, and usually late in the twilight, or ex- 
tremely early in the morning, almost precludes the possibility 
of arriving at precise data as to the time of their arrival or 
departure. That they do resort to the larger lakes occasion- 
ally is conceded, yet never have I seen them anywhere but on 
the creeks, or smaller ponds, except in migration along the 
Mississippi, when they kept close to the surface. I can recall 
no time either when by any means they could be driven more 
than thirty or forty feet into the air, and then only to drop 
down again as soon as beyond immediate danger. If disturbed 
by the approach of the gunner, when concealed from him by 
the banks or a short bend in the stream their feet and wings 
may be heard in their flight, but they will remain unseen as 
a general thing. When suddenly surprised, as is sometimes 
the case, as when gunners come upon them simultaneously 
from opposite directions, they will dive, and immediately re- 
verse their direction of submarine escape, and only return to 
the surface close under the bank amidst debris or reeds, and 
very much scattered, thus escaping unscathed. 

Nesting is begun in May, from the first week of which they 
have as apparently disappeared as if they had migrated, all to 
devote themselves to the great mission of reproduction. I 
have never personally had the pleasure of finding the nest 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA, 73 

with eggs in it, but have been quite content to discover the fe- 
male and very young, in the third week in June. Others have 
on several occasions obtained the eggs and female with them. 
The nest is built very loosely of grasses and reeds, or rather 
coarse weeds, and is placed on the ground close to the water 
and well concealed by sedge, or other rank vegetation. More 
frequently it is located in a dense growth of wild rice. 

The eggs are white with a tinge of stone color, and large for 
the relative size of the duck. No species of its kind more ef- 
fectually conceals its nest and eggs, seldom leaving them 
without covering the latter with feathers and debris. They 
retire from our latitude by the last week of October oftentimes, 
yet I have found them still later in exceptional seasons. Dr. 
Hvoslef reports them at Lanesboro on the 20th of that month. 
I found them common at Herman at a little later date in 1886, 
and Mr. Washburn reports them the same at Dead lake in Ot- 
ter Tail "betw^een the 10th and 26th the year previous." 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill grayish-blue; top of head and nape black; sides of head 
below the eyes, with the chin, pure opaque-white; lower part 
of neck all around, entire upper parts, and upper portion of 
sides, chestnut red; under parts generally lustrous grayish- 
white, with an occasional brownish tinge; crissum pure white; 
wings brown, without speculum, finely and almost inappre- 
ciably sprinkled with gray; tail nearly black. 

Length. 16; wing, 5.80; tarsus, 1.25; commissure, 1.80. 

Habitat, North America. 

CHEN HYPERBOREA (Pallas). (169.) 
LESSER SNOW GOOSE. 

In its favorite localities daring the autumn especially, this 
species eclipses any other of the Goose kind for numbers. 
When visiting Grant county in October, 1884, in company with 
my son, where we were joined by our friend Mr. P. H. Clague 
for a grand Goose hunt, we met this species in force. Any- 
thing like accurate estimates of numbers in a given flock of 
any kind of birds must be practically impossible, yet, approxi- 
mation enough to convey a good general idea has been reached 
by Wilson and others, by subdividing. At a glance the mass 
may be instantly halved, quartered, eighthed, and sixteenthed, 
when its count becomes possible in many cases. By such a 
method of calculation I made an estimate of a flock containing 
quite nearly 300 geese, and checking down the different flocks 



74 NOTES ON THE 

during one day's observation, I arrived at the conclusion that 
within an area of five miles in diameter, we saw not less than 
5,000 Snow Geese, without having recounted any flocks, as they 
confined themselves through the bright, sunny day to the same 
bodies of water, as a consequence of which, not a White Goose 
was killed, by any of us during the day. The hunters call 
them White Brant. The sight of one of those animate clouds 
of floating snow on which the dazzling rays of the sun are 
pouring on a bright October day, "can be neither described nor 
forgotten. The Snow Geese make but a comparatively short 
stay in this latitude in the spring, but seek those most northern 
by the 15th to the 20th of April generally. The measures of 
all which I have obtained, and found in the markets, have 
placed them within the lesser species as recognized by the 
Check List of the American Ornithological Union, not one in 
ten exceeding twenty-seven inches in length, with the wing 
sixteen. The Blue Goose, about which there has been some 
controversy, and which it has been my good fortune to secure 
several times, is beyond a doubt in my own mind, the young of 
the species under consideration, the measures essentially 
agreeing with theirs. 

When speaking of them in his reports from Mille Lacs, and 
Crow Wing, Mr. Washburn says: '-Very abundant on the 
prairies west and south of Fergus Falls." And again speaks 
of "Chen coerulescens. Blue Goose," as being often killed dur- 
ing the open season near the same place. 

Mr. Herrick found "immense numbers of the Snow Geese at 
Lake Shatek, the source of the Des Moines river." I might 
add other reports from Waseca, Big Stone, Kandiyohi, White 
Bear, and other localities, without increasing the measure of 
knowledge of the species. They are exceedingly wary, and 
hard to get. Their food in the autumn consists largely of wild 
rice with several species of berries. However, earlier they 
depend upon aquatic and marsh vegetation, including some 
snails and insects. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill and legs, red; color pure white; primary quills black 
towards the end, silvery bluish-gray towards the base where 
the shafts are white; spurious quills also bluish; inside of 
wings except the primary quills, white. 

Length, 27; wing, 16; tarsus, 3; commissure, 2. 

Habitat, North America. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 75 

CHEN HYPERBOREA NIYALIS (Forster). (169a.) 
GREATER SNOW GOOSE. 

In nearly every migration from the north of the Lesser Snow 
Geese there has been occasionally an individual shot where 
the measures have been greater than those given for the species, 
some of which reach the figures given for the Greater species, 
yet in habits I have discovered no difference whatever between 
them. I wait for more light on the specific differences upon 
which the classification rests. The measures hitherto given by 
all authorities have been: 

Length, 30; wing, 16.30; tarsus, 3.12; commissure, 2.10. 

Habitat, whole of North America. 

ANSER ALBIFRONS GAMBELI (Hartlaub\ (171a.) 
AMERICAN WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE. 

In the summer of 1876, I found a mounted specimen of the 
male of this species in high plumage, in the collection of Mr. 
Shroeder, a taxidermist of St. Paul. He could tell me nothing 
about its history except that he obtained it of a local sports- 
man in the previous spring. Since then I have met with occa 
sional small flocks of them, both in spring and autumn, in the 
height of the anserial migrations, and have received reports 
from a number of observers in different sections of the state. 
Mr. James Thompson, of Lanesboro, shot one on his mill pond 
on the 11th of April, 1883. Mr. Clague, to whom reference has 
already been made, residing at Herman, in Grant county, has 
shot several near that place, and Mr. John Cutter, of Minne- 
apolis, has bagged them at Big Stone, and on the Minnesota 
bottoms within an hour's ride of his residence. Yet they should 
not be regarded as by any means common. 

I am quite familiar with the White-fronted Goose in its 
favorite region on the Pacific coast, where it is rather the 
choicest of its kind for eating, and where immense numbers are 
brought into the markets of Sacramento, Stockton and San 
Francisco. It was of this species that the largest number was 
obtained at a single shot of a "California Duck Gun" which 
has ever been recorded. Hunted constantly in the "Tules" as 
they have been for many years, they have long since become 
shy, and exceedingly difficult of approach. To meet this, an 
ox is trained to obey the sutta voce commands of the gunner 
as he walks beside him, keeping step with the forelegs by 



76 NOTES ON THE 

which he is concealed from the geese on the "sloughs" along 
the San Joachim and Sacramento rivers, or along the bays. 
The approach is so slow that the ox naturally feeds much of 
the time, while the gunner, peeping over the back, and under 
the neck of the ox, watches the movements of the flock until 
they bring all the relationships right to serve the purpose 
most effectually, when he carefully turns the gun into position, 
fires a pistol, carried for that end. the countless flock rises, 
and when a little above the water, trigger is pulled, and then 
follows the "rain of geese," till between the killed and the 
wounded, it sometimes seems as if the whole flock must have 
been exterminated by that terrific shot. 

Fifty drams of Duck powder behind a pound of Goose shot, 
well directed under such circumstances, ought to show results. 
Sometimes it does. 

An instance of considerable local interest occurred which 
will illustrate the results of swivel gun shooting upon the 
White-fronted Geese. 

A citizen of Sacramento, many years since, published an 
offer of a Panama hat worth |25, to the person who would 
beat his record with a single shot at Geese. He had killed 
nearly fifty. For fifteen years the hat remained unclaimed, 
when a claimant proved his right to it by showing seventy- 
five Ducks of this species killed by a single shot on the ' 'Tules" 
of the San Joachim, near the Suisan bay. They are seldom 
numerous in the spring migration, indeed some years almost 
unobserved, but rarely fail of returning in the autumn during 
October in large and numerous flocks. Their habits while 
with us are not characteristically unlike most other members 
of its family. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail of sixteen feathers; bill and legs red; along sides of 
bill and forehead, white, margined with blackish-brown behind; 
rest of head and neck grayish- brown, paler on jugulum; back 
bluish-gray, the feathers anteriorly tipped with brown, sides 
similarly colored; breast and belly grayish -white, blotched 
irregularly with black; anal region, sides behind, and beneath 
the tail, with upper coverts, white; secondary quills and ends 
of primaries dark-brown, remaining portion of primaries and 
coverts silvery ash; shafts of quills white; greater coverts 
edged with white; tail feathers brown tipped with white; 
axillars and under surface of wings ashy-plumbeous. 

Length, 28; wing, 16.30; tarsus, 2.90; commissure, 2.05 

Habitat, North America. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 77 

BRANTA CANADENSIS (L. ). (172.) 
CANADA GOOSE. 

About the twentieth of March the Canada Geese come in 
large flocks, and at once possess the open, prairie lakes, and 
those embraced in extensive marshes. Their honkings at once 
enlist the interest of everybody who is waiting impatiently 
for the spring. The long, triangular flock will soon have 
everybody out of doors gazing at it wherever it passes. It is 
not much to be wondered at surely if those honkings are 
melody in more than one sense to the people of this latitude 
after a six-months bird silence, because of its announcements 
and its prophecy. Arriving uniformly in the first half of the 
day, we feel quite assured then that they have come to stay 
for a time at least, while tho&e reaching us later, and during 
the night, pass directly on further north. Unlike most other 
wheat producing countries, Minnesota grows very little that is 
sown in the fall, and hence has little inducements to offer 
these birds in this respect upon their arrival, but her 
meadows, and the products of what has just been planted in 
wheat, soon supply them abundantly, and they drift about 
hither and yonder till about the 25th to the 30th of April, 
when they disappear as if they had been spirited away as 
mysteriously as the swallows formerly disappeared upon the 
approach of winter. They have paired and entered upon their 
great mission of nidification, a little removed from the ponds 
in the marshes, or on the " high-and-dry " islands in the lakes 
and larger water courses. The nests are formed of such 
materials as are in the locality chosen, more frequently sticks, 
coarse weeds, and grass, and are lined with feathers. They 
lay from eight to ten eggs which are too well known to need 
description. Nests have been found with the full complement 
of eggs in them as early as May 1st, but it is generally later 
than that. The male shares the confinement of incubation, at 
least while the female seeks her accustomed food. Nothing 
can exceed the devotion of both parents not only until the 
young are fully grown, but until " they are of age " the follow- 
ing spring. 

Their fondness for the succulent blades of the volunteer 
wheat, and the soft grains of the waste of the preceding crop, 
costs them their lives by thousands in the fall months, when 
they are shot from holes in the ground surrounded by artificial 
decoys. 



78 NOTES ON THE 

If it was not for their pulling the young wheat out of the 
ground, and thus destroying it entirely, as they do where the 
ground is very friable, they would do little if any harm, as 
snipping off the luxuriant blade rather contributes to the de- 
velopment of the roots, and thus to the perfection, and final 
quantity of the grain. To the same end, in fall- wheat countries, 
the farmer often grazes his wheat fields in early spring. Hot, 
dry "northers" in the great valleys of the Pacific Coast, will 
sometimes scorch the wheat fields in late winter until there is 
not a blade of the beautiful green to be seen, but if not so far 
advanced as to involve the first "joint," the undisturbed roots 
will soon throw out the blades again, and a better crop will fol- 
low for the premature firey grazing. They are great mast 
eaters, consuming incalculable quantities of mast in fall and 
spring both. 

Their habits have been so often described in detail, that it 
would seem to be a work of supererogation to refer to them, but 
that of their manners in the season of pairing and in the de- 
fence of their young, is so striking that I will refer to them by 
a quotation from "Our Birds in Their Haunts," (Rev. J. H. 
Langille, M. A. ) which is a quotation by the author of that 
work. It says: "It is extremely amusing to witness the court- 
ship of the Canada Goose in all its stages; and let me assure 
you, reader, that although a gander does not strut before his be- 
loved with the pomposity of a turkey, or the grace of a dove, 
his ways are quite as agreeable to the female of his choice. I 
can imagine before me one who has just accomplished the de- 
feat of another male, after a struggle of half an hour or more- 
He advances gallantly toward the object of his attention, his 
head scarcely raised an inch from the ground, his bill open to 
its full stretch, his fleshy tongue elevated, his eyes darting 
firey glances, and as he moves he hisses loudly, while the emo- 
tion which he experiences causes his quills to shake and his 
feathers to rustle. Now he is close to her who in his eyes is 
all loveliness, his neck bending gracefully in all directions, 
passes all around her, occasionally touching her body, and as 
she congratulates him on his victory (over all competitors, H.) 
and acknowledges his affection they mutually move their heads 
in a hundred curious ways." The same author has previously 
described its courage and strength in the defence of the 
mate and young so graphically that I allow myself the 
further quotation which follows. Speaking of an ex- 
ceptionally large one that "returned three years in sue- 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 79 

cession to a large pond a few miles from the mouth 
of Green river in Kentucky, and whenever I visited the nest it 
seemed to look upon me with utter contempt. It would stand 
in a stately attitude until I reached within a few yards of the 
nest, when suddenly lowering its head, and shaking it as if it 
were dislocated from the neck, it would open its wings and 
launch into the air flying directly at me. So daring was this 
fine fellow, that in two instances he struck me a blow with one 
of his wings on the right arm, which for an instant I thought 
was broken. I observed that immediately after such an effort 
to defend his nest and mate, he would run swiftly towards 
them, pass his head and neck several times over and around 
the female, and again assume his attitude of defiance." This 
description is no more graphic than true, as I have had personal 
opportunity to verify it. I regard this species as amongst the 
most interesting and remarkable of the bird kingdom. Senator 
R. B. Langdon resides across the street from my ofiice, and 
has an enclosure in which he keeps deer, antelopes and a flock 
of wild geese, the habits of each and all of which I have had 
ample opportunity to observe in years of confinement. The 
deers (two are added by birth each year, the latter part of 
June) and the geese manifest a great interest in the many 
children who visit their park. If one of their number runs a 
race along the iron fence which incloses them, both the deers 
and geese will at once join in the race, the latter with 
wings at half extent, and gabbling and cackling so much like 
the rollicking children that it is diflficult to decide "which is 
which." If any of the ruder children turn and threaten to use 
sticks or clubs, the deers will gallop away, but the geese will 
instantly drop their heads, rustle their feathers, and rush up to 
the fence so resolutely as to send their persecutors flying, and 
does a bolder boy return, they will form a line of battle, and 
commence the ominous shaking of their heads, until one would 
suppose they would become unjoin ted. In such an attitude, 
with the suggestion of the bare possibility that they might 
possibly fly over the fence in their anger, even the boldest will 
consult the better part of valor and run away. 

To say in a report like this that myriads of this species 
have annually visited the State to either breed here or, after 
two or three weeks, pass further north to do so, may seem an 
exaggeration, but what more temperate language would more 
nearly convey a just idea of their numbers? Yet it must be 
conceded that in the southern half of the State, their numbers 



80 NOTES ON THE 

have materially diminished since the population has so greatly- 
increased, and railroad connections with all of the other States 
have made it possible for hundreds of "crack-shots" to be on 
their haunts the moment the law allows them to be taken. 
Remoter sections submit them to less vernal persecutions, and 
there the numbers remain more nearly the same as those of 
several decades now gone. On their first arrival in any 
section, they spend much time on the wing reconnoitering, but 
soon become settled down to their work of eating, rather than 
flying. I suppose that there are sections where none of 
them ever breed, but I do not know of a county where I have 
been in summer, and had an opportunity to consult intelligent, 
observant residents, where I have not had good reason to 
believe that they were breeding to some extent at least. The 
country at large is eminently favorable to their nidification, 
and their habits during that season protect them from obser- 
vation, while the enforcement of the statutes by the State 
Sportingmen's Club attend to their enforcement. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail of eighteen feathers; head, neck, bill and feet deep 
black; a large triangular patch of white on the cheeks behind 
the eyes; the two of opposite sides broadly confluent beneath, 
but not extending to the rami of the lower jaw; a few whitish 
feathers on the lower eyelid; upper parts brown edged with 
paler; under parts light, with a tinge of purple-gray, some- 
times a shade of smoky brown; edges of the feathers paler; 
color of the body of the feathers though similar, becoming 
deeper on the sides, tibia, axillars, and inside of the wings; 
the gray of the belly passes gradually into white on the anal 
region and under coverts; upper tail coverts pure white; 
primary quills and rump are very dark blackish-brown; tail 
feathers black. 

Length, 35; wing, 18; tarsus, 3.40; commissure, 2.10. 

Habitat, North America generally. 

BRANTA CANADENSIS HTITCHINSII (Swainson & 
Richardson). (172a). 

HUTCHINS'S GOOSE. 

It is a difficult matter to convince the casually observing 
sportsman that there are really two varieties of the " Common 
Wild Goose," while he will readily concede a considerable vari- 
ation in the size of different specimens of the species. The two 
seem to be thoroughly mingled in their autumnal migrations, 
with an immense preponderance of the Canadas, but in spring 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 81 

very few of this species are noticed. Arriving presumably 
about the same time, these are believed all to pass further 
north to breed, and return to us about the first of October, or a 
little earlier. I cannot estimate their relative numbers in 
either migration, neither do I know of their having any dis- 
tinguishable habit which enables me to identify them until they 
are in my hands. This is also true of their specific characters, 
only differing from Canadensis in the measurements, which 
grade into each other through occasional individuals as has 
been abundantly demonstrated. 

BRANTA BERNICLA (L.). (173.) 
BRANT. 

While this species is not an abundant one within our bound- 
aries, it is relatively a fairly represented one. Appearing in 
small flocks simultaneously with the others about the 25th to 
the 30th of March, they remain about three weeks, in the lakes, 
ponds, and estuaries of sluggish streams, where considerable 
numbers of them are shot for the market, after which they 
move on to much higher latitudes to rear their young. Speci- 
mens of the Brant may be found in the collections of the tax 
idermists, and different scientific societies in the State which 
have been secured in the migrations from year to year, repre 
senting both sexes and age. In autumn they reach the north- 
western portions of the State in considerable flocks about the 
first of October and remain as late as any others before pass- 
ing further to the south to winter. Mr. Washburn, who visited 
the region of the Mille Lacs lake, and Otter Tail lake, in the 
interests of this department of the Natural History Survey of 
the State, extending his observations from the 9th of October 
to the 10th of November, 1885, found these birds ' ' quite numer 
ous near Fergus Palls," and similar reports reached me from 
Grant, and Bigstone counties. 

It is rarely the case that some of them cannot be found in 
the game stalls of the City Market during the periods of their 
usual presence and migrations. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill, feet, head, neck, primary quills, tail, and body anterior 
to the wings, black; secondary quills nearly black; on each 
side of the middle of the neck, a small white crescent, streaked 
with black; lower eyelids with a very faint trace of white 
feathers; black of the jugulum abruptly defined against the 



82 NOTES ON THE 

bluish silver-gray of the remaining under parts, the feathers 
of which have the basal portions bluish gray; axillars and 
inside of wings showing a darker tint of the same; the gray of 
the belly passes gradually into white behind, the tail being en- 
circled all around and concealed by this color; back and wing 
coverts grayish-blue with slightly paler edges; rump, similar, 
but darker and more uniform blue, the secondaries have some 
concealed whitish on the inner webs towards the base. 

Length, 23.50; wing, 12.75; tarsus, 2.26; commissure 1.40. 

Habitat, northern parts of Northern Hemisphere. 

BRANTA NIGRICANS (Lawrence). (174.) 

BLACK BRANT. 

Several stragglers of this Pacific Coast species have been 
brought in during the past ten years, by parties visiting the 
Red river valley in the fall shooting season. If they are any- 
thing more than stragglers, they must still be regarded very 
rare. Their identity I can vouch for, from a long familiarity 
with them in Sacramento and Santa Clara counties, California. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head, neck, and body anterior to the wings deep black, 
passing into dark sooty plumbeous on the rest of the body, 
this color beneath extending nearly to the anus, and above 
shading insensibly into the black of the rump; middle of the 
throat with a white patch extending round on the sides, and 
somewhat streaked with black; no white on the eyelids; sides 
of rump and base of the tail, with upper and under tail coverts 
concealing the tail, and space across the anus, white; primary 
and secondary quills and tail, black; feathers on the sides of 
the body beneath the wings like the belly, but with white tips. 

Length, 29; wing, 13.80; tarsus, 2,30; commissure, 1.50. 

Habitat, Arctic and Western North America. 

OLOR COLUMBIANUS (Ord). (180.) 
WHISTLING SWAN. 

Many years ago this species was believed to be a regular 
summer resident of the Red river valley, and not without rea- 
son, for they were occasionally met with as late as the tenth 
of May in spring, and as early as the twentieth of August. 
But these instances have proved to be very rare, and when 
they were reported to me some important observations regard- 
ing their identity were wanted in their later appearance. 
Having never observed them personally, I have been left to the 
conclusion that they were the young of the Trumpeters, a 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 83 

species long ago known to breed here limitedly in the region 
referred to. That the Whistlers, however, are met with here 
occasionally during the early and late migrations, we are equally 
assured by their having been obtained at those times for taxi- 
dermists to mount. Mr. Howling kindly called my attention 
to them many years ago in his collections. 

Mr. Shroeder, a taxidermist long known in St. Paul, had 
one obtained on the Red river which I was permitted to ex- 
amine, but of the special history of which he could give me 
nothing. When passing over, in their early spring migrations, 
I have several times had my attention called to them by their 
peculiar notes, some time before I could see them at their 
great elevation. With my glass I could not only determine 
that they were Swans, but readily count them, which has been 
once thirty-one, and on another occasion only three, when they 
were not thirty yards above the forest trees amid which I 
discovered them. These times have usually been in March, 
and only once in the first days of April. They must breed as 
a rule far to the north of our national line. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill as long as the head, broad, high at the base; feathers on 
the forehead ending in a semicircular outline; nostrils far 
forward, the anterior extremity considerably more forward 
than half the commissure; color pure white; bill and legs 
black; the former with an orange or yellowish spot in front 
of the eyes. Immature birds with the head above tinged with 
reddish-brown. Tail feathers twenty. 

Length, 55; wing, 22; tarsus, 4.25; bill, 4.20. 

Habitat, North America generally. 

OLOR BUCCINATOR (Richardson). (181.) 
TRUMPETER SWAN. 

When the long embargo of a subarctic winter has terminated 
and the waning drifts of the remaining snows have been reduced 
to narrow borders of the forest and fences, despondent hearts 
from hopes deferred will wake to new consciousness of exist- 
ence, like another resurrection. The senses all feel the won- 
drous change, and catching the impulse of nature's wide 
outreachings, accept their new responsibilities. The babbling 
of the brook once more set free, the cawing of the crow, the 
cheery chink, chink of the returning woodpeckers, appeal to 
every sentiment of gratitude in the reverent heart, and the 
cup of peaceful joy is filled to overflowing. 



,84 NOTES ON THE 

The quickened ear hears the honkings of the Pelicans and 
Geese against the very heavens, and still far above them the 
trumpetings of this snowy Swan. Their gracefulness of flight, 
the daring, giddy hight, conspire to fill the soul with adoration 
for the wonderful, the beautiful. From their exalted pathway 
of the air, they rarely descend until over the most unfre- 
quented districts, where before, they have reared their young. 
Extremely shy, descending in majestic circuits they do not 
hastily alight, until the section has been most thoroughly 
reconnoitered and found devoid of man, their cruellest of foes. 

They live mostly upon vegetation both terrestrial and 
aquatic, and about the first of May nest-building is begun. 
The structure is loosely formed of weeds, reeds, grass and 
such other materials as are found convenient to the location 
and is superficially lined with down from their own bodies. 
They lay eight to ten pale green eggs. Incubation lasts four 
weeks, soon after the completion of which, the young follow 
the parents into the water. Formerly the nests were occasion- 
ally found at different places all over the State, but of late, none 
have been reported from any. Still the young of the year are 
to be seen in the vicinity of the the Red river very nearly 
every year after the middle of October. The latest recorded 
date of my personal observations, before their final disappear- 
ance was November 17th, but I have learned that individuals 
have been seen still later, which suggests that they were 
laggers from accidents or gunshot wounds. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill broad and longer than the head; the feathers ending on 
the forehead in a semi-elliptical outline; nostrils with the an- 
terior extremity as far forward only as half the commissure; 
tail of twenty-four feathers; color pure white throughout; bill 
and legs entirely black; bill without any red spot at the base. 
Less mature specimens with the head above tinged with 
reddish- brown. 

Length, 60; wing, 24; bill, 4.50; tarsus, 4.60. 

Habitat, principally the interior of North America. 



Older HERODIONES. 



Family ABDEID^. 

BOTAURUS LENTIGINOSUS (Montagu). (190.) 
AMERICAN BITTERN. 

Variously called Bittern, Shidepoke, Pumper, Stakedriver, 
&c., &c., according to local custom, this familiar Heron is relat- 
ively as well represented here as any other of its family. 
They reach us as early as the first week in April. By the 25th, 
they have become paired and their nests are constructed soon 
afterwards. They consist of small sticks, coarse grass, with 
more or less leaves of sedge brush and are placed directly on 
the ground in the most inaccessible bog marshes and sloughs. 
Preferably a tuft of willowy sedge is chosen that gives the nest 
a slight elevation, yet not uniformly so, for I find them not in- 
frequently placed between the bogs in the marshes that are de- 
void of all kinds of brush. A rank bunch of grass that springs 
up in these places, will most naturally be the place to look for 
them first, however. The eggs are usually four in number, of 
a striking drab color, with more or less olivaceous. Sometimes 
their nests are found in small communities but as a general 
thing that custom is locally disregarded. The notes of the 
Bittern are remarkable and are heard only during the period 
of pairing and nesting. They have been variously described 
by writei's as they sound to their ears and have been rendered 
into dunk-a-doo, pump-ah-gah, ponka-gong, kunk-a-ivhulnk, 
chunk-a-lunk, and quank-chunk-a-lunk-chunk, all of which seem 
to me to convey as nearly a correct idea as may be obtained, as 
I have heard them at different times. But one must have 
heard them to understand how well any of them really de- 
scribes their "song." 

The attitude of the prairie hen cock in booming, the turkey 
gobbler in gobbling is no more extreme or characteristic than 
is that of the Bittern in the act of disgorging himself of his in 



86 NOTES ON THE 

expressibly infelicitous love notes. Standing perfectly erect 
and entirely motionless, the bill pointed exactly toward the 
zenith, the head is seen to be very slowly sinking while the 
body correspondingly assumes the horizontal position and the 
neck becomes sigmoid by its double flexion, it suddenly shoots 
forward and a little downward and laboriously pumps out the 
amorous utterances, doubtless to the entire satisfaction of the 
waiting ear, whether the mate's or another masculine repre- 
sentative of his species that accepts it as a challenge to come 
over and get most ingloriously thrashed. Aspectively the per- 
formance is suggestive of strangulation until "kunk-ah- 
whulnk" has all been ejected. If any other performance 
could match this in uncouthness to eye or ear, it has not been 
mine to witness it with either of those senses. The food con- 
sists principally of frogs, in the seizure of which their heron- 
like manner of remaining motionless for long periods that the 
unapprised reptiles may unconsciously come within easy reach, 
is a pretty sure guaranty that they shall have enough to eat as 
long as the frogs last. It is seldom that more than one indi- 
vidual is seen in any one immediate locality, when it must have 
been discovered at a distance while in its perpendicular atti- 
tude, or by some sudden surprise, for they drop the head down 
so slowly as to allude observation, and then run at a rapid pace 
through the grass, weeds, reeds and rushes to a considerable 
distance in some unexpected direction, and there remain hidden 
until all danger of discovery is past before resuming their 
watch for frogs and small snakes. One may pass very near 
where they are concealed without flushing them, as they are 
capable of judging very accurately whether they are actually 
under the eye of the intruder or not. 

By the first week in August the young have attained the gen- 
eral appearance of the adults, and when the frogs disappear 
they do likewise. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper mandible black; the lower greenish-yellow; lores and 
eyelid yellow; iris bright yellow; upper part of head depressed, 
with the plumage there deep blackish-brown; long, yellowish- 
brown feathers on the neck behind shaded with darker; throat 
whitish, streaked with dark brown; from the posterior and 
lower part of the auriculars, a broad patch of black jDasses di- 
agonally across the neck; back deep brown barred and mottled 
with many specks and streaks of brownish-yellow; quills black 
with a leaden gloss, and tipped with ocherous brown; legs and 
feet yellow, washed with pale green; middle claw pectinated; 
beneath pale yellowish-brown streaked with darker brown. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 87 

Length, 27; wing, 11; tarsus, 3.60; bill, 2.75. 

Habitat, Temperate North America. 

The Bittern is almost universally distributed wherever the 
food supply is found. In an hour's ride within m}^ own county, 
a half dozen may be readily seen by any one acquainted with 
their habits, by overlooking a meadow a quarter of a mile away. 
He will notice what seems to be a stake in the ground rising 
but little above the grass. If he has a field glass, he will at 
once be able to make out the head and neck of his bird, but let 
him not think to see that head go down, or even move, should 
he wait half an hour, and how much longer I cannot say, for 
my time for observing the habits of birds has ever been too 
precious to stay his attitude out, but if he has a friend with 
him, or better a trained bird dog, the observer may send him 
forward, while he holds his game under his lens and he will 
soon see how the stake sinks out of sight and then he may 
trace the stealthy movements to another spot whence the stake 
will again appear. 

BOTAURUS EXILIS (Gmelin). (191.) 

LEAST BITTERN. 

It is not a little remarkable that a species like this can 
remain so long unrecognized or supposably so rare when 
actually so common. For long years I watched for the Least 
Bittern before I had the pleasure of having it in my hands, and 
when I was rewarded I had the additional pleasure of knowing 
how and where to look for more of them. I have of late years 
found them common in their favorite haunts about ponds em- 
braced in high reeds and flags, portions of which stand in the 
water. Not half a mile from the business center of my city is 
a pond of this character, where this species has been a regular 
summer resident since first I observed it nearly twenty years 
ago. An early visit to this pond long before sunrise, has 
always resulted in the catching of a glimpse of one or more of 
them along the borders of their covert. And I could add a 
score to the number of different localities where these birds 
may be found in their season, within three or four miles of the 
first. They come to the State a little later than the Greater 
Bitterns, generally the second week in April, and have begun 
building their nests by the 10th of May following. These are 
more commonly suspended from the reeds above high water 
mark. Fairly within the mass are frequent clusters or tussocks 
of the same, that afford the chosen supports for the nest while 
augmenting the concealment. Several coarse stalks are em- 
braced in the platform, which consists of dried grass so wound 
7 z 



88 NOTES ON THE 

about the former as to preclude the possibility of its slipping, 
and into and around about which is built up the whole struct- 
ure consisting thus of coarse, reedy grass, into which are 
woven fine, jointed green grasses, not se veiled from their roots 
in the submerged ground. But they are not always placed in 
this manner, for it is not unusual to find them directly on the 
ground, on the edge of a floating bog in shallow water, or oc- 
casionally in a sedgy bunch or bush of dwarf willows, The 
nest is loosely built, very little dished, and contains four to 
five white eggs, with a faint wash of green. 

They rear two broods, the last of which is strong enough to 
fly well by the second week in August, and they all quit the 
country by about the fifth of September, Their food consists 
largely of leeches, to which are added lizzards, tadpoles, 
snails and young frogs. I have never found fishes among their 
ingesta, but have too much respect for the taste of the bird to 
doubt that they sometimes constitute a good share of a round 
meal. 

Note. The circumstance of my never having met with the 
species for so many years after my residence in the State had 
begun, recalls the fact that only two or three of my volunteer 
assistants and correspondents have mentioned it. Mr. Holz- 
inger, of Winona, says: "This bird is little seen, but has recently 
been found breeding around Lake Winona." 

In this place I will say that I have never found the Least 
Bittern breeding in communities. However, I can easily im- 
agine local temporary causes which might impel them to do so, 
and since it is a common thing for them to be closely associated 
with several species of blackbirds and other species of herons 
in their nidification, it seems as if it might be expected that 
they will sometimes be found breeding in communities. 

Their habits are decidedly nocturnal, and their migrations 
are begun and terminated between two days, after the manner 
of another but featherless biped who quits his wonted "banks" 
for more northern latitudes, without the slightest regard for 
seasons. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Back and head above, dark, glossy green; upper part of 
neck, shoulders, greater coverts, and outer web of some ter- 
tials, purplish-cinnamon; a brownish yellow scapular stripe; 
bill slender, acute, both mandibles about equally curved; legs 
very short; tarsus less than middle toe; inner toe much the 
longest, claws long, acute; tarsi broadly scutellate anteriorly; 
body much compressed; head smooth; occipital feathers some- 
what lengthened; lower neck behind bare of plumage; tail of 
ten feathers. 

Length, 13; wing, 4.75; tarsus, 1.60; bill, about 1.75. 

Habitat, temperate North America. 



BIRDS OB'' MINNESOTA. 89 

ARDEA HERODIAS L. (194.) 
GREAT BLUE HERON. 

Crane island is situated in the upper portion of upper Lake 
Minnetonka, and has received its name from the circumstance 
of its being the breeding and roosting place of the ' ' Blue 
Cranes, " as this species is popularly called. How long it has 
been thus occupied is not even traditional, for it was a heronry 
earlier than the Indian traditions began. About the 10th to 
15th of April, and occasionally a little earlier, these birds begin 
to arrive in small parties, at once seeking their old roosting 
place. A steady increase in their numbers continues for about 
a week, when the whole clan seems to have reached the 
heronry, and early in the mornings they may be seen flying far 
away in all directions till all have departed. An hour before 
the sun sets, they begin to return, but it will be some time 
after dark before the last have arrived. They gather into 
clusters, or loose parties in sections to which they resort, after 
having satisfied their hunger, and enter into matrimonial nego 
tiations in which rivalries and jealousies lead to some severe 
contests between the males. By the first week in May all of 
these matters are settled, and the nesting begins from the 5th 
to the 10th of May. The structures consist of sticks, twigs, 
coarse and medium weeds of different kinds, very roughly and 
loosely disposed, with barely depression enough to retain the 
eggs, three to four in number, light bluish green in color, all 
of which is placed in the forks of a tree at about sixty feet ele- 
evation. The island on which the tree stands, at some day in 
the remote past, was evidently densely covered with lofty elms, 
sugar maples, oaks and basswoods, but the excrement accumu- 
lating from year to year, and age to age,, has destroyed them 
until the number left standing has become few and considerably 
scattered. Since that lake has become a great summer resort, 
and is constantly plied with some twenty or thirty steamers of 
various sizes (with whistles loud enough to be heard quite dis- 
tinctly fifteen miles away), three or four times as many full 
sailed yachts, to which may be added two or three hundred 
row-boats, constantly flitting back and forth at all hours of the 
day and far into the nights, it is a standing surprise that these 
birds (and their copartners, the cormorants, whom I had like 
to have forgotten to mention in this connection), still continue 
to return year after year to the same familiar spot. However, 
it must be confessed that from these disturbing causes, to which 



90 NOTES ON THE 

should be added a long- continued practice of firing pistols at 
them from the steamers' decks to see the females rise in clouds 
from their nests, and the robbing them of their eggs by men 
and boys by the employment of telegraph pole climbing irons 
to reach them, their numbers became so sensibly reduced as to 
call in special legislation, some five or six years since, or all 
would have been destroyed or driven entirely away. I have 
taken all measures within my reach to ascertain the area daily 
visited by the "cranes'' and cormorants brooding and roosting 
in this group, and while not absolutely certain of the exact 
dimensions, I can safely say it covers a circle the diameter of 
which is not less than eighty miles. In England it is said that 
all roads lead to London, so when I see or hear of individuals of 
these species flying regularly from the direction of Minnetonka 
in the morning, until nearly nine o'clock, and after four in the 
afternoon till dark, towards it, uniformly, I conclude that they 
belong there. The nearest heronry to this of which I have 
any reliable knowledge is about 190 miles from here. They 
rear but one brood in a season here now, if ever they did before. 
Their food is frogs, fish, snakes, mice, water beetles and slugs. 
From the 15th to the 20th of October they go away to the south 
in small flocks. 

There is another heronry somewhere in the southeastern 
part of the State, which I have not yet succeeded in locating, 
but I think it is somewhere perhaps in Dodge, Olmsted or 
Freeborn county. A large one has long been located in 
Douglas or Grant county, I am credibly informed by duck- 
hunters. In general their distribution is co-exlensive with the 
State, yet there are considerable sections where they do not 
go on account of the deficiency of appropriate food. 

Mr. Washburn found them common throughout his explora- 
tions at Mille Lacs and in the different sections of the Red 
River valley. 

Mr. Lewis found it in nearly every place he visited in the 
north and western parts of the commonwealth. 

If intelligently cooked, the flesh of the entire Heron family 
is excellent eating, including the unprepossessing and most 
unpopular Bittern, as I can bear positive testimony, for by the 
courtesy of Mr. Wm. Tiffany I breakfasted with him upon it 
once many years ago. If there is anything which forever 
settles the question of man's evolution from animals lower than 
the monkeys, it is the attainment of prejudices respecting his 
food. His employment of the imagination in the domains of 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA-. 91 

scientific investigation has unduly developed it, and hence his 
reason dictates his stomach, but very poorly. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Lower third of tibia bare; above bluish- ash; edges of wing 
and the tibia rufous; neck cinnamon-brown; head black with a 
white frontal patch; body beneath black, broadly streaked on 
the belly with white; crissum white; middle line of throat white, 
streaked with black and rufous; bill yellow, dusky at the base 
and greenish above; forehead and central part of crown white, 
encircled laterally and behind by black, of which color is the 
occipital crest and its two elongated feathers; neck, light 
smoky cinnamon-brown, with a tinge of purple; chin and throat 
whitish; the feathers along the central line of the throat to the 
breast, white, streaked with black and reddish-brown, except 
on the elongated feathers of the breast; body bluish- ash above 
and on the sides; the under parts including the tuft of feathers 
on each side of the breast and belly to the crissum, sooty-black, 
much varied along the middle line with white; tibia and edge 
of the wing rufous; quills black, becoming more plumbeous 
internally until the innermost secondaries are ash, like the back; 
the elongated tips of the scapular feathers have a whitish shade; 
tail bluish-slate color; bill yellow, dusky green above; loral 
and orbital spaces light green; iris yellow; feet olivaceous, 
paler above the tibiotarsal joint; claws black. 

Length, 42; wing, 18.50; tarsus, 6.50; bill, 5.50. 

Habitat, North America. 



ARDEA EGRETTA Gmelin. (196.) 
AMERICAN EGRET. 

In my list of species observed fifteen years ago I gave this 
one as an occasional. I had found a representation of it in 
private collections only, since which time I had met with it in 
flocks of half a dozen or less a few times, and individuals still 
more frequently. They have been killed along the bottoms of 
the Minnesota river occasionally ever since Port Snelling was 
located, and within the last ten years, one has been obtained 
on the Red river as far north as Moorhead. A friend of mine 
brought in a fine male from Big Stone lake last spring (1888) 
which he has mounted in good order. 

No nests nor young have been reported, but their observa- 
tion in the warmest days of July lends plausibility to the con- 
jecture that they may breed here. 

Still, I think it more probable that they are generally strag- 
glers from flocks located below, along the Mississippi or along 
the Missouri river. 



92 NOTES ON THE 

I have never found them later than the 25th of August, yet 
sportsmen are confident of having seen them in the distance on 
flat prairies west of the Big Woods as late as the same date in 
September. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill slender, yellowish to the tip, culmen nearly straight, 
more convex terminally than the gonys; middle toe more than 
half the tarsus, outer toe longest, claws moderate, considerably 
curved; tarsus broadly scutellate anteriorly; head smooth; 
back, in breeding season with a series of plumes longer than 
the tail, and curving gently downwards; tail of twelve broad, 
stiffened feathers; back of neck well feathered; feet black; 
colors pure white at all times. 

Length, 40; wing, 17; bill, 5; tarsus, 6. 

Habitat, America, chiefly south. 

ARDEA CANDIDISSIMA Gmelin. (197.) 

SNOWY HERON. 

We must consider this species as in a measure a straggler, 
so infrequently has it been seen under circumstances of cer- 
tain identification. 

I have seen them several times when from their smaller size, 
I could scarcely doubt their being this species, but they were 
too cautious for me to secure any. I found one in Mr. Howl- 
ing's collection many years ago and two others since, the lat- 
ter of which came to him from the Red River country "some- 
where." Sportsmen claiming to know the species well, insist 
that they meet considerable numbers of them in both spring 
and fall shooting along the Minnesota River in occasional 
years, but I am apprehensive that they confound the other 
species with it, (A. Egretta), notwithstanding their assur- 
ances that they can distinguish them. That a few visit us is 
certain however, and that they go somewhat beyond the lati- 
tude of St. Paul and Minneapolis cannot be disputed, but sev- 
eral years have intervened between any observations of their 
presence by myself or others. They are described as follows: 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill compressed; culmen slightly concave in the basal two- 
thirds, terminally more convex than the gonys; middle toe 
three-fourths the tarsus; tibia bare for nearly one-half; occiput 
with a full crest of loosely fibred feathers as long as the bill; 
feathers on lower part of throat somewhat similar; middle of 
back with a series of plumes, with the fibrillse distant and 
lengthened, plumes recurved at the tip, where the fibrillas of 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 93 

opposite sides are horizontal, but approximated in a verticle 
plane; they reach nearly to the tip of the tail, sometimes be- 
yond it; bill black, yellow at base, including the loral region 
and around the eye, as well as a larger basal portion of the 
lower mandible; legs black; lower part of tarsus behind and 
the toes yellow; color of plumage throughout pure white. 

Length, 24; wing, 10.20; tarsus, 3.80; bill. 3.15. 

Habitat, Temperate and Tropical America. 

ARDEA VIRESCENS L. (201.) 

GREEN HERON. 

A common summer resident, found along those of our inland 
streams which meander the meadows and the marshes with a 
sluggish current, after the 10th of April. It is seldom that an 
hour's hunt along their rank grassy, reedy borders does not 
give one a sight of one or two of them. They commence 
building as early occasionally as the first of May in small com- 
munities, but usually about the oth, a loose, bulky, fiat nest of 
sticks, twigs and leaves, placed in the tops or branches of 
small trees in thickets. They lay about four pale-blue eggs, 
sometimes only three and sometimes five. They rear two 
broods usually. 

Their food embraces frogs, fishes, slugs, cray-fish, worms, 
&c., which they obtain abundantly enough to make them re- 
main in a single spot for hours when undisturbed, under which 
circumstances their maneuvers may be watched with a glass 
with great satisfaction, provided a position has been attained 
witnout the knowledge of the bird. This is no easy task, for 
their telescopic eyes take in every moving thing possible con- 
siderable distances away. More frequently one will find him 
standing in several inches of w^ater, close to that which is still 
deeper, and as motionless as if he were grown there, with his 
head resting back upon his breast, and woe betide the reptile or 
fish that ventures within the radial possibilities of that neck 
and unerring bill. He never strikes by guess, and rarely with- 
out securing his victim, which is swallowed invariably head 
foremost, in the twinkling of an eye. He does not ordinarily 
thresh the ground with his game as the Greater Bittern often 
does, to reduce it to flexibility, or fractures, in order to swallow 
it, but selects the size best adapted to the capacities of his 
throat. When fishing for frogs specially his methods are 
somewhat modified. Instead of retaining his fixed attitude, 
which the frogs soon learn to i-ecognize when their heads are 



94 NOTES ON THE 

above water, he takes advantage of the moment when, with 
their heads immersed, each is seeking a spot in which to hide, 
and steps promptly but cautiously along to a favorable posi- 
tion, and assuming his wonted attitude with his neck drawn 
back over the breast, and when an inquisitive head rises, the 
same fatal stroke brings Johnny Crapeau's favorite "to bag." 
Communal as they often are in breeding, they always hunt sol- 
itarily, and seem to individually have a sort of squatter's pre- 
emption over a given territory, returning to it daily through 
the entire season. The young having become full grown by 
the first to the tenth of August, they may subsequently be often 
seen going forth in the early morning in families supposably, 
and returning at evening by the same routes in like parties. 
I have never seen them later than the 25th of October. They 
seem all to disappear at nearly the same time. 

Dr. Hvoslef reports them at Lanesboro and vicinity early in 
April and late in October, but mentions the discovery of no 
nests or heronries. 

Mr. Lewis reports them common in all of the northwestern 
portions of the state as far as Pembina. Mr. Clague finds 
them occasionally in the lower portions of Grant county. The 
most frequented locality I have known for this small heron, is 
a low boggy marsh through which Minnehaha Creek flows, by 
which are thus connected Lakes Amelia and Mud, the former 
of which is partly and the latter entirely within the city limits. 
Careful observations at the twilight of either end of the day 
will find them there uniformly. I wish to say that they do not 
universally breed in communities in Minnesota, for in every 
instance in which I have found them doing so, I have failed to 
find other nests or birds. Instances have occurred under my 
observation, where in the entire absence of trees, or bushes 
of any size, they have placed the nest, composed of coarse dry 
weeds and reeds, and cat-tails, on a tussock in a reed-hidden 
quag-mire. Indeed, in common with many other species of 
the birds, they manifest great capacity to adapt their habits to 
extreme circumstances when necessary. One nest, built high 
and dry above the water in a pond, on the top of a muskrat's 
house, was pointed out to me, so secure from human intrusion 
that no attempt was made by the birds at concealment. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill acute, rather longer than head, gently curved from the 
base; gonys slightly ascending; legs short, tarsus scarcely 
longer than middle toe, broadly scutellate anteriorly; lateral 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 95 

toes nearly equal; head with elongated feathers above and 
behind; these and interscapulars and scapulars lanceolate; neck 
short, bare behind inferiorly; tibia feathered nearly through- 
out; tail of twelve feathers; top of head and body above, glossy 
green; coverts edged with brownish yellow; neck dark purplish 
chestnut; chin and central line of throat white; body beneath 
plumbeous ash. 

Length, 15; wing, 7.50; tarsus, 2; bill, 2.40. 

Habitat, Canada and Oregon, southward to northern South 
America. 

NYCTICORAX NYCTICORAX NiEVIUS (Bodd^rt). (202.) 
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON. 

I find this common species much more frequently in the tax 
idermists' shops than in its haunts, although I do so occasion- 
ally when on their grounds at twilight, and I find they breed 
regularly very near to if not still within the city limits. Their 
nocturnal habits protect them from observation, but it is 
known that they roost during the day in the tamarack swamps 
and come forth at twilight to seek their food along the borders 
of streams, ditches and on the marshes. The nests are 
constructed about the tenth of May, or a little later, in the 
tamarack swamps, on the trees, and are formed of sticks. 
More than one may occupy the same tree, but the only night- 
heronry I have ever seen had not to exceed a half dozen nests, 
unless I failed to see them, which might have been the case 
with all of my diligence, for they were well concealed in the 
thick branches of the trees which stood in a foot or more of 
water near one of our smaller lakes, or ponds, as the people 
from Maine call them. This breeding place has long been 
broken up. I find through one of my most reliable and inde- 
fatigable correspondents in the southern part of the State that 
this species is quite common there. He met them in nearly all 
of the summer months of their summer residence there. (J. 
McClintock). Mr. Lewis, perfectly familiar with all of their 
habits, reports them common through Becker and Polk coun- 
ties, and believes them nearly universally distributed through- 
out the northern and western divisions of the State. It cannot 
be called a numerous species in any other than a relative 
sense here. At Thief river there is a heronry of the species, 
which, if carefully observed during a season or two, might be 
of much value in making numerical estimates. (Washburn). 

Their food does not differ materially from that of other 
herons I think. 



96 NOTES ON THE 

They retire southward by the second, week of October. 

I omitted to say that the eggs are somewhat variable in 
color from bluish green to greenish-yellow, and generally four 
in number. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head above and middle of back, steel -green: wings and tail 
ashy-blue; underparts, forehead and long occipital feathers, 
white; sides tinged with lilac; bill very thick at base and taper- 
ing to the tip; culmen nearly straight for half its length, then 
considerably curved; lower outline of bill nearly straight; gonys 
proper slightly concave; legs short and stout; tarsus equal to 
middle toe, and covered with hexagonal scales, those anterior 
largest, but those on the upper portion much larger, and 
extending entirely across; tibia bare for one fifth; lateral toes 
nearly equal, the outer rather longest; claws small, consider- 
ably curved; tail short, of twelve broad, rather stiff, feathers; 
head with the occipital feathers elongated and with two or 
three very long, straight feathers (long as bill and head) 
springing from the occiput; these are rolled up so as to appear 
like a single cylindrical feather; back of neck covered with 
down, but not provided with long feathers; scapular and inter- 
scapular feathers elongated and lanceolate; the webs scarcely 
decomposed; upper part of head, upper eyelids, occipital, 
crest, scapular and interscapular region, dark lustrous steel 
green; wings and tail ashy -blue; under parts, forehead and 
long occipital feathers, white passing into pale, ashy- lilac on 
the sides and neck above, as also tinging nearly the whole 
under parts; the region along the base of the bill, however, 
nearly pure as on the tibia; bill black; loral space green; iris 
red; feet yellow and claws brown. 

Length, 25; wing, 12.50; tarsus, 8.15; bill, about 3.10. 

Habitat, America. 

NYCTICORAX VIOLAOEFS (L.). (203.) 

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON 

The first time I met the Black-crowned Night Heron in the 
State was in Mr. William How^ling's taxidermal shop in 1864 I 
think, when standing beside it was a Yellow-crown. Although 
I began to meet the former from time to time, it was several 
years before I saw another of the latter, till I found it again in 
a private collection in St. Paul. I have never taken the bird, 
but in all the instances in which I have seen these specimens, 
I have ascertained that they were collected here, and under 
precisely the same circumstances in which the others were 
found. I know nothing more of the bird locally than I did 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 97 

twenty years ago. I can only count it an occasional straggler, 
presumably individuals which become mixed with the other 
species in migration. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Neck and body uniform grayish-plumbeous; head bluish ash; 
hood and a broad patch on the side of head yellowish- white; 
scapular and interscapular feathers dusky, edged with grayish- 
plumbeous. 

Length, 24; wing, 12; tarsus, 3.75; bill, about 2.75. 

Habitat, semi-tropics. 



Older PALUDICOL^. 



Family GHUID^^. 

UKUS AMERICANA (L.). (204.) 
WHOOPING CRANE. 

While yet the prolonged winter maintains its relentless hold 
upon the northland, and deep snows conceal the demarking 
shorelines of the lakes and streams, the Whooping Crane may 
be faintly heard, and often seen against the cold blue sky, 
winging his dauntless way to some unknown open sea still 
nearer the undiscovered pole. In the last days of February 
sometimes, but oftener in the third week in March, flocks of 
ten to twenty are seen, and occasionally on to the 15th of April 
such flocks continue to arrive, only a few individuals of which 
remain to breed in the remote portions of the State. 

The only evidence I have that it breeds here is circumstan- 
tial. Through a course of many years observation, individuals 
of the mature luliite birds have been obtained or well identified 
during every month from March to November inclusive, quite 
a number of which have found their way into the collections of 
museums and private individuals. Both the Minneapolis and 
St. Paul Academies of Natural Sciences have them, and I think 
there is one in the museum of the State University, but I do 
not know when they were all obtained. Amateur oSligists have 
several times brought me the eggs to purchase, claiming that 
they were obtained in some part of the State, but I had doubts 
about them which made them really of no value to me. Two 
such were nearly four inches in length, with their reputed 
color, markings, and warty roughened surfaces. 

They inhabit the most out-ofthe-way morasses and impene- 
trable swamps, with little else but a knowledge of the local 
habits of the larger waders to stimulate careful research by 
competent observers. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 99 

I have noticed a single individual at different times during 
the summer, a mile distant from my nearest approach, spearing 
frogs, snakes, &c., and as many times resolved to resort to a 
mud boat that could be poled over the bogs and mire, believing 
that due search might be repaid with a nest and eggs. When 
moving to any considerable distance, they mount up to great 
elevations, but ordinarily in their haunts, they fly barely above 
the top of the reeds, brush. &c. Fish, frogs, slugs, worms, 
tadpoles, snails, snakes enter into their bill of fare. Individ- 
uals of this species linger into November once in a while, if the 
fall is rather prolonged. 

In 1883 they entered the State on March 25th, and in 1864, 
February 27th, when we had an unusually early spring. 

"A few birds of this species shot near Fergus Falls.'" 
(Washburn) . 

Dr. Hvoslef says that he met them in March, 1886, at Lanes - 
boro; but makes no reference to their remaining through the 
summer. 

Mr. Treganowan reported them constantly seen in the 
summer months in Pembina county, but nowhere numerous. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill deep, compressed; lower mandible as deep along the 
gonys as the upper opposite to it; gonys convex ascending; 
commissure straight to near the tip, thence a little decurved 
and crenated; color pure white; primary and spurious quills 
with their shafts black; space in front of the eyes and extend- 
ing backward between them to a point on the occiput, and 
below them involving the whole cheek to a point behind the 
ears, blackish; this space having the feathers reduced to stiff 
hairy black shafts, but concealing the warty and granulated 
skin; feathers on middle of nape above plumbeous-dusky. 

Length, 52; wing, 24; tarsus, 12; commissure 6. 

Habitat, interior of North America. 

GRUS MEXICAN A (Muller) (206.) 

SANDHILL CRANE. 

The rapid settlement and extensive cultivation of the lands 
of the State has somewhat modified the habits of this species 
of the Cranes. Twenty-five years ago, they bred extensively 
in several of the southwestern counties, where now they are 
seldom seen except in migration. 

They still breed in the northern and western sections, where 
the uninhabited prairies are large and flat, affording all the 



100 NOTES ON THE 

conditions of food and protection. They reach us the first 
week in April, four years out of five, and commence incubation 
by the first week in May. They generally gather loosely 
together some dried, coarse grasses and weeds for the nest, in 
which they deposit from two to four drab-brown, rough- 
shelled eggs. 

In many instances, the indications of a nest are ridiculously 
small, and not infrequently entirely wanting. I have never 
known them to rear more than one brood in a single summer, 
but there are cases in which for some reason the nesting has 
been exceptionally delayed, and quite young birds are seen 
late in July. The earlier birds, although yet unable to fly, will 
give a man a lively race to overtake them when they are six 
weeks out of the shell. In Noble and Jackson counties, some 
ten or twelve years ago, the Sandhill Cranes reared their 
young in great numbers, on the dry flat prairies, where many 
of them were often taken before they were grown enough to 
fly. Rev. Mr. Mitchell, of St. Paul, then residing in this City, 
passed through that section at the time that the young were in 
this stage of development, and ran one of them down, which 
he brought home with him, and subsequently made it a 
present to me. I kept it until it was two years of age, and 
took great pleasure in studying its peculiar habits and tract- 
ability. It was a great joker in its way, always getting the 
better end of things. Nothing possible that it could swallow 
failed to get into its maw, from a pocket knife, double-ten nail, 
teaspoon, spools of thread, and bits of tin, to a dozen large 
sized marbles. Of course, these were after a time regurgi- 
tated, as all indigestible matters are with many of the birds of 
other orders also. He was fond of toads in the absence of 
frogs and fishes, and did not object to small chicken when he 
did not get a supply of his favorite food. By keeping his 
wings cropped, I was enabled to allow him considerable lati- 
tude, and he would often enjoy a pose on one foot, while the 
other was drawn close to his body, seeming to be asleep until 
something unusual aroused him. Immediately upon discover- 
ing him, big dogs and little dogs would dash at him to seize 
him, till noticing his apparent indilference, the smaller ones 
would desist, but the larger ones, more selfreliant would 
venture in the radial reach of his bill, after which they in- 
variably changed their minds, finding they had no further use 
for "Sandie," a name given him by Mr. Mitchell, upon his 
capture. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 101 

My faith in his ability to defend himself against dogs became 
so strong that upon the application of several parties with 
vicious canines, to show what their special dog could do, I 
challenged any and all, one at a time, to attack him. One of 
the largest in the city was allowed to open the tournament in 
the presence of many witnesses. Sandie was taken out onto 
the lawn in front of my home, and after various comical 
familiarities in the way of eating unheard of things offered 
him. posed quietly on one foot, and having closed his eyes as 
an expressive hint that he was satisfied for the time to suspend 
performances, when we all withdrew a little distance, and a 
bouncing dog — a cross between a mastiff and Newfoundland — 
was shown the stilted biped, and stayed not a moment in his 
'•going for him.'' Sandie, whose whole ^emeanor was under 
the closest notice, partially opened his windward eye, but 
remained standing upon the single foot, without in the 
slightest changing his position, his doubly curved neck, head 
and bill, drawn well back upon his body, till the onrushing 
dog was within a half of a yard of him, when his closed, 
acutely pointed bill and head shot out like an arrow from a 
bow, and the ferocious canine doubled up into the shape of a 
letter "C," and peeling for home, howling as if in the agonies 
of an attack of colic, left the sponge high in air, never again 
to challenge a Sandhill Crane to combat. Never afterwards 
would any one who witnessed the short ' 'mill*' permit his dog 
to give or accept a challenge from Sandie. Sometime after 
this I presented him to the Central Park Museum, in New York 
City, where it was my great privilege to see him after a number 
of years, and again several years later, on my way to Europe 
in 1882, found him without any indications of increasing age 
or infirmities, and Mr. Conklin, the manager who received him 
from me originally, assured me that Sandie was all right, and 
appeared to greatly enjoy the considerable numbers of his 
species associated with him in that paradise of bird incar- 
ceration. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill compressed; lower mandible not as deep towards the 
tip as the upper; gonys nearly straight, in the same line with 
the basal portion of the bill; commissure decidedly curving 
from beyond the middle to the tip, where it is even, not 
crenated; color bluish -gray; primaries and spurious quills 
dark plumbeous-brown; the shafts white; cheeks and chin 
whitish; entire top of head bare of feathers, warty and granu- 



102 NOTES ON THE 

lated, thinly beset with short scattered black hairs; feathers of 
occiput advancing forward in an obtuse angle, the gray feath- 
ers along this point and over the auricular region, tinged with 
plumbeous. 

Length, 48; wing, 22; tarsus, 10; commissure, 6. 

Habitat, interior of North America 

I found immense flocks of Sandhill Cranes in the Sacramento 
valley, not far from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada moun- 
tains, in 1870, about the middle of February. But not any 
larger are found there than in the flat prairies along the Red 
river in northern Minnesota, two months later in the spring. 
There are times at that season of the year when their hoarse 
cronkings may be heard almost continuously in some localities. 

At the time of mating, the males have a habit of rising to 
immense elevations, and beating large circles while they main- 
tain their notes for hours at a time. These can be distinctly 
heard after the bird Has risen to such a height as to be beyond 
the range of the best human vision. 



Family EALLID^^. 

RILAUS ELEGANS Audubon. (208.) 

KING RAIL. 

For many years after I became a resident of the State, my 
duties called me daily considerable distance into the country in 
various directions, and not infrequently in the night. In my 
solitary rides I became familiar with almost every sound habitu- 
ally heard in the darkness, one of which came uniformly from 
certain marshy water courses, and the borders of reedy ponds 
near which I passed. At such times my ears were the princi- 
pal organs of sense, and I noticed amongst the many sounds, 
one that seemed to formulate the syllable greek, repeated four 
to five times in succession, with the heaviest emphasis on the 
first utterance, which diminished with each repetition, the last 
being considerably less emphatic, yet still fairly distant. 

Its resemblance in some respects to the notes of the Vir- 
ginia Rail, suggested to me the King Rail, but I could neither 
find one myself in all my explorations nor could I learn of any 
one else finding the first individual of that species, until in the 
summer of 1875, Mr. George W. Tinsley brought me one for 
identification. He obtained it on the first day of August, on 
the Minnesota river bottoms, some ten to twelve miles south of 
Minneapolis. It proved to be an adult male in remarkably fine 
plumage. He sought for the female and nest or young, but in 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 103 

vain, for if there were either, the concealment was too com- 
plete. The location abounded with wild rice and reeds, as those 
in which 1 had so often heard its notes did. Since then I have 
secured several, and have had it reported by different corres- 
pondents from widely severed sections of the province with 
which my investigations are specially concerned. The earliest 
record of its observance is May 5th, and I think will not soon 
be found much earlier, for from an average in my personal 
notes I find they arrive about the twelfth to the fifteenth. 

The exact date it is impossible to arrive at, as their move- 
ments are in the night. That they breed in many sections can- 
not be reasonably doubted after having been observed so many 
times in June and July, although no nests nor young broods 
have yet been found. They appear to have all gone from those 
localities where hitherto found, by the fifth to the tenth of Sep- 
tember, although from the variability of the seasons from year 
to year, instances may occur in which they will be met with 
still later. Their food is principally leeches, worms, snails, 
and aquatic insects, but in the season when seeds and grains 
are ripe, they fatten readily upon them, as we are informed by 
several writers. This is the largest species of the Rails in the 
United States, as well as the most beautiful. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper parts olive brown, with longitudinal stripes of brown- 
ish-black, most numerous on the back; line from the base of 
the bill over the eye, dull orange-yellow; space before and be- 
hind the eye brownish- cinerous; throat and lower eyelid white; 
neck before and breast, bright rufous-chestnut; sides, abdomen, 
and under tail coverts, with transverse bands, of brownish - 
black and white, the dark bands being the wider; tibia dull 
yellowish-white, with spots and transverse bars of ashy brown; 
upper wing coverts reddish-chestnut; under wing coverts 
black, with transverse lines of white. 

Length, 17; wing, 6.50; tail, 3. 

Habitat, United States. 

RALLUS TIRUINIANUS L. (212.) 

VIRGINIA RAIL. 

This bird is very generally distributed over the country where 
the conditions exist for its maintenance. No one can tell just 
how or when they arrive, but either very early in the morning 
or late in the twilight at evening. Like its congeners, it is 
somewhat of a nocturnal species and makes its pilgrimages, as 
well as its local excursions in the gray of the morning or in the 

-8z 



104 NOTES ON THE 

gloaming of the evening. They are found to have arrived 
about the first of May with great uniformity, and after about 
three weeks the nests are built, and consist of a pile of weeds 
and grass of considerable bulk, having only about an inch in 
exavation, sometimes a little deeper, into which they deposit 
eight to ten eggs. I should say that when the first egg is layed 
the depression is very slight indeed, but the male continues to 
build up the structure around the female, or she rearranges 
the material so as to increase the elevation around herself, or, 
which is the more probable, the weight of her narrow body 
upon the loose, light materials, continues to deepen the excava- 
tion for sometime after she begins to occupy it. The color of 
the eggs is a dark, dirty buff, blotched with different shades 
of brown, or a reddish and brown. Their habits confine them 
to swamps, marshes and meadows difficult to approach, and 
are therefore less frequently discovered. Prom these consider- 
ations we are justified in the presumption that they may be 
much more numerous than at first appears. Except in unusu- 
ally favorable seasons they leave in their autumnal migrations 
early in September, but they are occasionally seen as late as 
the 25th of that month. During the summer I find them about 
the reedy bays of most of the lakes in different seasons and not 
infrequently along the marshy borders of several streams 
within an hour's ride of my home. Examples of this species 
are often to be seen mounted, in the shops of the taxidermists, 
representing both sexes and the young of the year. 

Although Mr. Washburn made his explorations of the Red 
river valley between the 28th of July and the 12th of Sep- 
tember, for some reason or other ke failed to find these Rails, 
although he met with Soras in abundance everywhere. Mr. 
Holzinger reports them as frequently seen about Lake Winona. 
I am not a little surprised that so careful an observer as Dr. 
Hvoslef did not mention their presence at Lanesboro. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Much smaller than either the King or the Clapper Rail, but 
resembles them both in form and the former in color. Upper 
parts olive-brown with longitudinal stripes of brownish-black; 
line from the base of the bill over the eye reddish- white; throat 
white; neck before, and breast bright rufous; abdomen and 
under tail coverts, with transverse bands of black and white, 
the black being the wider; upper wing coverts bright rufous- 
chestnut; under wing coverts black, with trransrerse lines of 
white. 

Length, 7.50; wing, 4; tail, 1.50. 

Habitat, North America. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 105 

PORZANA CAROLINA (L). (214.) 

SORA. 

"Thin as a Rail" is a very common expression, without 
much sense or significance until a genuine Rail has been 
looked upon, after which its figurative applicability receives 
a new force. The relative depth and breath of the body when 
seen explain it all. Everything is adapted to the place in 
which Infinite Wisdom placed it; the laterally expanded Goose, 
as well as the laterally contracted Rail. The one with its 
webbed toes for a natatorial life; the other with its immoder- 
ately elongated, disenthralled toes to run, squirrel-like over 
the lightest drift-wood and expanded lily pads on the water. 
The casual straggler, with only his cane in his hand, in lan- 
guid idleness sitting down on a log near an expanse of the 
water-lillies about sunset, will see more of these birds in a 
half hour of observation, than a collector will in ten days of 
constant tramping. Tail erect, the bird is seen tripping along 
the debris of tJie shore, and onto the frail, floating lily-pads, 
pausing not a moment before an open space, but dropping 
into the water, swimming unconcernedly across to more lilies 
or a point of drift, seizing an insect first on one side and then 
on the other, till it disappears in the twilight, or beating a 
circuit it returns again. In the mean time, more individuals^ 
have come upon the scene, and there are a half dozen, busily 
and cheerily searching for the wanted food, while they all 
keep up a rather subdued ''ca-iveep-eep, ca-iveep-eep-eep-ip-ip-ip'^ 
like a flock of young domestic chickens. 

These birds reach Minnesota about the 25 th of April, and 
begin to build by the second week in May. The structure con- 
sists of weeds and grass in abundance, making a large pile for 
the size of the bird, hollowed somewhat, and placed on a bunch 
of coarse grass, in the marshes. They are said to be some- 
times found under extremely different circumstances, as brier 
patches, cranberry vines, or even under the current bushes in 
a country garden, but if the full history of such cases could be 
known, a sufficient reason would be revealed for the excep- 
tions. The eggs are a yellow-drab, with the slightest tinge of 
olive-green, and from five to ten in number. 

Their food as has already been indicated, is made up of 
different forms of aquatic insect life, to which must be added 
small molusca. Crustacea, and seeds of different kinds. They 
remain until late in October, very frequently. This is by far 



106 NOTES ON THE 

the most abundant species of the Rails which spend their sum- 
mers in nearly all parts of Minnesota. In speaking of his 
observations of this species in the Red river valley Mr. Wash- 
burn says: — "They are extremely abundant everywhere in the 
marshes and sloughs. During the summer, one only catches 
occasional glimpses of them, although their crek, crok, crek, is 
heard everywhere in the reeds. In Sepiember, however, I 
find the young and old birds more easily observed, there being 
more of them, and consequently they are less shy. They are 
then seen running over the reedy surface of the ponds, and 
slipping in and out among the rushes and reeds that fringe the 
shores." The same gentleman found them still common in the 
meadows of Otter Tail county between October 9th and Novem- 
ber 10th. Mr. Westhoven told him he had often captured 
them when mowing in the meadow, by placing his two hands 
quickly over the spot in the grass where he had seen them go 
down, the grass holding them effectually without injuring 
them. 

Few but those who are specially interested are apt to notice 
the little busy Carolina Rails, so well concealed do they 
keep themselves in the presence of man, but after one has the 
secret of their habits he may easily find and make his notes 
in their closest proximity. 

In the early history of Minneapolis a fifteen minutes' walk 
in almost any direction, just after sunset, would place the Rail- 
hunter in its haunts, and again the same in the gray of the 
morning. Amongst the later haunts in which I have found 
it abundant for its kind is one along the northwestern shores 
of Lake Calhoun (Mendoza?) where a narrow tamarack swamp 
touches it for a distance of about 100 yards, and another about 
a mile west of the Falls of Minnehaha. 

Mr. Efell, who had been spending some time in the vicinity 
of Moorhead late in the summer, became very much interested 
in their local habits from finding their nests to be quite com- 
mon in the cultivated fields, especially the corn fields; the 
nest was degenerated to a simple depression in the soft earth, 
with a slight lining of weeds, of which there were generally 
an abundance. This seemed quite remarkable to one who 
cannot see through evolution, but it shows that when we have 
written up the natural history of the world, we shall need to 
do it all over again every season or two. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 107 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Space around the base of the bill extending downwards on 
the neck before and over the top of the head, black; under 
parts greenish-brown, with longitudinal bands of black, many- 
feathers having narrow stripes of white on their edges; behind 
the eyes, side of the neck and breast, fine bluish-ashy, with 
circular spots and transverse bands of white on the breast; 
middle of abdomen and under tail coverts white; sides and 
flanks with transverse bands of brownish-black and white; bill 
greenish-yellow; legs dark green. 

Length, 8.50; wing, 4.25; tail, 2. 

Habitat, temperate America. 

PORZANA NOYEBORACENSIS (Gmelin). (215.) 

YELLOW RAIL. 

I introduce this Rail with the satisfaction of having seen 
enough of them to regard them no longer as mere semi- occa- 
sional stragglers, but as rare summer residents. Mr. Shroeder, 
of St. Paul, for many years the only taxidermist in that city, 
had two specimens of them in 1865, and Mr. Howling of Min- 
neapolis, secured one in 1869, since which I have found two 
more in private collections. I have never seen one of them 
alive. I could not learn who obtained those in the collections 
of either of the taxidermists, but the others were secured by 
two hunters* who supposed they were "some new kind of 
snipe." I know nothing of their local habits except that those 
referred to were obtained in the season when the other Rails 
were breeding. I hope to learn more about them in other 
localities in the State in due time. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Entire upper parts ochre-yellow, with longitudinal wide 
stripes of brownish-black, and transverse narrow stripes of 
white; neck and breast reddish-ochre-yellow, many feathers 
tipped with brown; middle of abdomen white; flanks and ven- 
tral region with wide transverse bands of dark reddish-brown 
and narrow bands of white; under tail coverts rufous, with 
small spots of white; under wing coverts white. 

Length, 6; wing, 3.25; tail, 1.75. 

Habitat, eastern North America. 

Note. But one seen since the above was written ten years 
ago. 



Jas. Sraithson (since dead) and John R. Smith, of Lockport, N. Y. 



108 NOTES ON THE 

PORZANA JAMAICENSIS (Gmelin). (216.) 
BLACK RAIL. 

I record this southern species entirely upon a report that one 
individual was taken last year in Fillmore county. Its descrip- 
tion was so well given that, without seeing the specimen, which 
was taken to some eastern collection before I had an opportu- 
nity to examine it, I believe there can be no reasonable doubt 
of its identity. Besides, it is a matter of record that it has been 
obtained in Wisconsin several times, a good many years since. 
(Birds of the N. W., Coues. ) 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Smaller than the Sora, or any other North American Rail. 
Head and entire under parts bluish ash, or nearly slate color; 
darker and nearly black on top of head; abdomen and under 
tail coverts with transverse bands of white; neck behind and 
upper part of back dark reddish-chestnut; other upper parts 
brownish-black with circular spots and irregular transverse 
stripes of white; quills brownish-black, with small spots of 
white; tail nearly same colors. 

Length, 5; wing, 3.25; tail, 1.50. 

Habitat, middle and southern states. L. B.R. 

GALLINULA GALEATA (Lichtenstein). (219.) 

FLORIDA GALLINULE. 

This is another species which I found in the hands of Mr. 
Shroeder as long ago as 1865. Since then I have had amj)le 
opportunity to decide that although not common, it is a regular 
summer resident, breeding in the Minnesota River bottoms at 
Big Stone lake, and along the Red river. 

It has been seen very rarely earlier than in June, when they 
were unquestionably breeding, although in one or two instances 
it has been observed in April, thereby showing that it migrates 
in all probability as early as the Rails do, and possibly the 
principal ducks. One nest obtained by a gentleman residing 
at Fort Wayne, Indiana, (Mr. George), and brought in with the 
bird, was constructed entirely of reeds, which constituted but 
the upper portion of a mass that had been built up out of the 
water. It contained ten eggs of a light brown color, spattered 
and splotched with reddish- brown, more marked about the 
larger end. Other nests have been described to me as having 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 109 

been constructed of different materials, and placed on floating 
debris. The newly hatched young resemble black chickens in 
their appearance and notes. In their habits they resemble the 
Rails. 

Langille, in his work, "Our Birds and their Haunts, "page 
403, says of the young of this Gallinule: — "These birds which 
swim, dive, or run upon the lilly-pads with equal ease, are to 
be associated with still waters, and with that queen of our 
ponds and lakes, the sweet-scented water-nymph. No infant 
of a royal household ever sported under a more beautiful can- 
opy than is found by these Gallinule chicks beneath the snowy 
wreath of odorous petals and central crown of gold, standing 
like an elegant sunshade in that quiet nook, which mirrors the 
bluff and the surrounding landscape." 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Frontal plate large, obovate, terminating square on top 
of the head; bill shorter than head, rather thick, compressed; 
wing rather long; tail short; legs moderate; toes and claws 
long and robust; head, neck, and entire under parts dark- 
bluish cinerous, frequentlj' nearly black on the head and neck, 
and generally lighter on the abdomen; a few feathers on the 
flanks widely edged with white; shorter under tail coverts 
black, longer ones white; upper parts brownish-olive, darker 
on tlie rump; quills dark brown; tail brownish -black; frontal 
plate and bill, bright red, tipped with yellow; tibia with a 
bright red space on the bare portion next to the feathers; 
low^er portion of the tibia, tarsus and toes yellowish-green. 

Length, 12.50; wing, 6.75; tail, 3; bill, 1.25; tarsus, 1.75-2. 

Habitat, temperate and tropical America. 

FULICA AMERICANA Gmelin. (221.) 

AMERICAN COOT. 

A most abundant and uuiversally distributed species, reach- 
ing us but little if any later in spring than the Mallards, 
breeding in extensive communities on inaccessible bogs, with 
nests of half rotted reeds loosely built, in which they lay ten 
or a dozen dirty-cream eggs, speckled and spotted with dark- 
umber. This is the terse record of the Coot or Mud Hen, in 
Minnesota. 

From the Iowa line to the British possessions, the testimony 
of observers is the same, that they are "abundant every- 
where." Mr. Washburn's report of the ornithology of Otter 
Tail county speaks of their presence in great numbers on a 
little lake near Dead lake as late as the 26th of October (1885), 



110 NOTES ON THE 

even after the ice had formed, leaving only small patches of 
open water into which they crowded in a dense black mass. 
Quoting from his memorandum of the 21st, he says: — "Last 
night was cold and still, and this morning it is a comical sierht 
to see them standing on the slippery surface of the ice. When 
alighting, the impetus of their flight causes them to slide 
along like a schoolboy on skates. A foot slips from under 
one, down it goes, sprawling with outstretched wings, but soon 
regaining its feet to try again. In the unfrozen spots, the 
water was black with them, mingled with Ducks, the whole 
looking like a compact black body, while on the edges of the 
ice, large Mallards and Red-heads stood looking with suspicion 
towards the spot where I stood." 

Rev. J, H. Langille's description of many of the habits of this 
species is so nearly like the notes I find in my own note book, 
that I should subject myself to the suspicion of plagiarism if I 
did not either reword them, or quote him, so I accept the latter 
alternative, with the cheerful acknowledgment that I think him 
entitled to the copyright, for although the later written, they 
are the better. He says in his "Our Birds in their Haunts," 
pp. 405-6; "Its breeding habitat is from Northern New Eng- 
land, the Great Lakes, and corresponding latitudes, northward. 
It breeds in such abundance as to be the characteristic bird on 
St. Clair flats, where they are as common as hens in a farm 
yard. The nest is in reedy pools or shallow water about rivers, 
lakes and ponds, composed of dried grasses and sedges, after 
the manner of the Rails and Gallinules, sometimes tied to the 
tall clumps of sedges, and yet resting on a mass of floating debris; 
sometimes resting on the dry ground near their watery abodes. 
On St. Clair flats it is a floating nest, anchored to the cat-tails 
and sedges, resembling that of the Common Gallinule, but gen- 
erally placed further out in the flooded marshes, towards the 
channels and the lake. 

"Some twelve inches in external diameter, and rising about 
eight inches above the water, it is almost invariably built of 
the dried and bleached leaves of the cat-tail; the saucer shaped 
interior being often lined with fine marsh grass. Like that of 
the Gallinule, the nest often has a gradual inclination on one 
side, forming a convenience for the bird to enter from the water. 
So free is the motion of this nest, that it may rise and fall with 
the changes of water level, or rock in the storm with perfect 
safety. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. Ill 

'The eggs, some 9-14, 1.87x 1.27 to 2.00x 1. 80, are slightly 
tinged with brown being very minutely specked and spotted all 
over with black, or dark brown, and so near the color of the 
bleached material on which they are laid, as scarcely to be dis- 
cernible at any considerable distance. The bird does not sit 
very closely, but running on the debris or water for a few feet, 
takes wing with a peculiar splatter, never rising high or flying 
far. When swimming, the Coot will often allow an approach 
within shot range, then starting on a run on the water it will 
rise into the air gradually with a spatting, spattering noise, 
which soon becomes very familiar and distinguishable to the 
ear. Often shaking the large lobed feet when clear of the 
water, it flies with the bill pointing down and the feet bending 
upward, its broad wings differing from those of the Ducks; and 
its near splash into the water being about as peculiar to itself 
as is its noise on rising. Very properly do the western hun- 
ters call this bird the " Splatterer. " When the black clouds 
of a near thunder storm are overhead, its white bill in front of 
its black head becomes very conspicuous, fairly gleaming with 
whiteness. It is decidedly a noisy bird, its coo-coo-coo-coo-coo 
being heard both day and night, the first note being prolonged 
on a much higher key, while the rest are somewhat accelerated. 
It will often quack similar to a duck, and has other notes too 
unique and difficult of description to be given here. 

' 'The Coot is quite playful on the water, and when the male 
stretches his neck forward, partly elevates his wings like the 
swan, and spreads his tail, showing the white underneath, he 
is quite a beauty no doubt, in the eyes of the female. " 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head and neck glossy black, with a tinge of ashy; under tail 
coverts white; entire other plumage dark bluish cinereous or 
slate color, with a tinge of olive on the back and darker on the 
rump; edge of wing at shoulder and edge of first primary, 
white; secondary quills tipped with white; rump frequently 
tinged with brownish ; bill very pale, or nearly white, with a 
transverse band of brownish black near the end. the tip white; 
legs dull grayish green. 

Length, 14; wing, 7; tail, 2. 

Habitat, North America. 



Older LIMICOL^. 



Family PHALAEOPODIJJ^. 

CRYMOPHILTIS FULIU4RIUS (L). (222.) 
RED PHALAROPE. 

The Phalaropes are chiefly distinguished from the other 
families of the order to which they belong by their lobate feet. 
There are only three species known in this country, and they 
are divided into two genera. This one stands alone in its 
genus, but is a companion of the Northern Phalarope in its 
breeding only in the artic latitudes so far as is at present 
known. It is only a transient migrant here, seen in its spring 
migration about the 10th of May, and again in August, usually 
not far from the 25th in its southern movements. I have 
generally found them at those times occupying sandy knolls in 
the vicinity of the smaller lakes and ponds, yetnot infrequently 
on the dry, cattle grazed prairies; notably in early times in the 
vicinity of Fort Snelling and westerly from there upon the 
highlands along the Minnesota river. When looking for them 
I have seldom been disappointed in finding them very regularly 
at these times and in these localities until in late years they 
have sought more relired spots to avoid the pothunters, whose 
bags bear testimony that they still visit us at the usual times 
mentioned. They remain about from two to three weeks, when 
the maternal impulse sends them to their chosen latitudes for 
breeding in their spring migrations, and towards the south for 
food in their autumnal 

Should the time of their migration be characterized by ex- 
tremes of the weather, they remain but a very short time. I 
have seldom failed to find more or less of them in the hands of 
those indefatigable taxidermists, Messrs. Wm. Howling and 
Son, at these seasons, freshly procured for mounting to fill 
orders from distant sections for museums, or for private 
collections. Mr. Washburn's visits to the Red river country 
were a little too early for their presence. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 113 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill strong, flattened and widened towards the end; wings 
long, tail short; legs short, plumage thick and compact like that 
of the swimming birds; head above, space around base of bill, 
throat and back. brownish-black; feathers of last edged broadly 
with pale, ochre-yellow; wings and tail ashy-brown, paler on 
the wing coverts; greater wing coverts widely tipped with 
white; stripe on cheek white; entire under parts deep, brownish 
red, inclining to purple on the abdomen, and with a glaucous 
cast in very mature specimens; under wing coverts and axil- 
laries pure w^hite; bill greenish-yellow; feet dark-bluish. 

Length, 7.50; wing, 5.25; tail, 2.75; bill, 1; tarsus, 0.75. 

Habitat, northern parts of northern hemisphere, breeding in 
the artic regions, and migrating south in winter; in the United 
States south to the Middle States, Ohio Valley, and Cape St. 
Lucas. Chiefly maritime. 

PHALAROPLS LOBATUS (L). (223.) 

NORTHERN PHALAROPE. 

About as well represented as the Red, the Northern Phala- 
rope reaches us at the same time in May with the other, in 
small parties of five or six, or even less in many instances, in 
the vernal migrations. In the latter part of August, they 
return with their numbers somewhat augmented, which are 
still increasing somewhat until their final departure in Sep- 
tember. Graceful in every movement, and extremely active 
in procuring their food, which consists of small mollusks, insects, 
worms, and crustaceans, they cannot fail to arrest the atten- 
tion wherever seen. It affects pools, and ponds of water con- 
taining different forms of aquatic insect life. A tender bird, 
all leave on the first advent of the first decided frost, which has 
occurred within my own memory several times, on the night of 
August 31st and September 1st. 

They are known to breed in the higher latitudes, but none 
are known to do so this side of the British possessions. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Neck encircled with a ring of bright rufous, with a stripe of 
the same on each side; head above and neck behind, sooty- 
ash; back, wings and tail, brownish-black, paler on the rump, 
mixed with bright ferruginous on the back; tips of greater 
wing coverts white; sides and flanks ashy, frequently mixed 
with reddish; throat, breast, and abdomen white; bill, legs and 
iris dark brown. 

Length, 7; wing, 4.50; tail, 2.25; bill, 1; tarsus, 0,75. 

Habitat, northern North America. 



114 NOTES ON THE 

PHALAROPUS TRICOJiOR (Vieillot). (224.) 
WILSON'S PHALAROPE. 

Of all the shore birds which are ever seen about our ponds 
and numerous lakes, Wilson's Phalarope is the most beautiful. 
Reaching the lower borders of the State by the 25th of April, 
they gradually spread over its whole extent where the food- 
conditions invite them, and after about three weeks, build their 
nests in canebrakes, and reed-embraced pools, in close prox- 
imity to those of several other species of water birds. The 
nests are constructed of fine reeds, grass, and invariably a little 
moss, — sometimes principally of moss with no reeds and but 
little grass, and is a loose structure, placed on a hummock of 
moss, or in a tussock of reeds or grass. 

They contain three to four olivaceous-drab colored eggs, 
splotched all over with large spots of dark umber. These 
colors vary exceedingly in diiferent specimens. 

The young are following the parent by the third week in 
June, and are full grown by the first week in August. They 
remain but little later than the other Phalaropes in the autumn 
generally, although not very infrequently individuals have been 
obtained in October. 

Their chief food seems to be mollusca, but embraces excep- 
tionally nearly everything eaten by the other Phalaropes, and 
the different species of Snipe. 

Their habits are so occult that it is no easy task to observe 
them. Wading about in a busy, contented manner in a shal- 
low pool, picking out its food nimbly, and unerringly, or 
creeking a note repeatedly that is much more easily learned 
than written, they seem the embodiment of beauty, grace, and 
absolute contentment amidst the humblest circumstances of en- 
vironment. 

A good number of these birds have found their way into the 
difierent taxidermal and scientific collections in the State, in 
different stages of developement, and many more find their way 
into the markets in snipe season during fall shooting. 

My greatest diffuculty in getting the eggs of this species into 
my records rightly has been the popular confounding of the 
birds with the "snipes." I have insisted upon the bird accom- 
panying the nests and eggs until in two instances I have at- 
tained certainly, and in one fairly so, although I have never 
had the great pleasure of securing them myself. Their local 
breeding habits are above any question. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 115 



SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 



Larger than either of the other Phalaropes; bill, slender, 
flattened; wings, long; tail, short; legs, moderate; tarsus, com- 
pressed; plumage very compact; head above and neck behind, 
light ashy; wide stripe behind the eye, reddish-black; neck be- 
fore, and wide stripe running upwards onto the back, bright red- 
dish brown, darker on the sides of the neck; back, wings, and 
tail, cinereous; darkest on the wings, and mixed with reddish 
on the back; rump, and upper tail coverts, white; entire under 
parts white, except the neck before, which is pale reddish; bill 
and legs, black. 

Length, 9.50; wing, 5.50; tail, 2.25; tarsus, 1.25. 

Habitat, temperate North America. 



Family RECURVrHO STRIDE. 

RECURTIROSTRA AMERICANA Gmelin. (225.) 

AMERICAN AVOCET. 

These waders are less abundant in Minnesota than in either 
of the Dakotas, but I have met them in their spring migrations 
almost uniformly, and in small flocks occasionally in the autumn. 
They arrive about the first week in May. sometimes a little 
earlier, and mostly disappear in a few days, the majority 
going either farther north, or west into the states mentioned, 
where the general conditions are more favorable for their food. 
Except in San Diego, California, I have found them mostly 
about the shores of small lakes in dry sections, many of them 
sandy, and without much if any timber. Nearly every dryland 
lake has somewhere along its outline a marshy, muddy border 
that affords just the kind of condition most likely to be charged 
with an abundance of larvae and worms which constitute their 
chief diet. However, during migration and the interval be- 
tween their arrival and the nesting, I have found them along 
the borders of running water, and the sandy, stony shores of 
large lakes like Minnetonka, but only in pairs. At these times 
they are not infrequently associated with the Stilts. The only 
nest that I ever saw was on the shore, perhaps not more 
than a yard from the water, and consisted of little more than a 
moderate depression in the dry earth between tussocks of 
coarse grass, with some fragments of grass and weeds laid 
loosely around it. It contained four eggs the ground color of 
which was an olivaceous-drab, but varying in intensity in the 



116 NOTES ON THE 

entire clutch, and marked very distinctly with different shades 
of brown. They are less frequently seen in the fall than in the 
spring, and are all gone sometime before the frost has cut off 
their supply of food. 

Since my first records of this species I have been told that 
several specimens have been seen along the Minnesota bottoms 
during summer, leaving a reasonable presumption that they 
breed there limitedly; and rumor makes them occasionally seen 
at the same season along the Red river in the vicinity of Moor- 
head, but with how much assurance of being correct I cannot 
say. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill rather long, depressed: wings long; legs long; tarsi com- 
pressed; tail short; head and neck pale reddish-brown, darker 
on the head, fading gradually into white; back, wings, coverts 
and quills, black; scapulars, tips of greater wing, coverts, 
rump and tail, and entire under parts, white, the last fre- 
quently tinged with reddish; bill brownish-black; legs bluish. 

Length, 17; wing, 9; tail. 3.50; commissure, 3.75; tarsus, 3.50. 

Habitat, Temperate North America. 

HIMANTOPUS MEXICANUS (Muller). (226.) 

BLACK-NECKED STILT. 

This wader has as nearly the same history in Minnesota as 
the Avocet as any description could make it. Arriving simul- 
taneously, they are found essentially in the same localities, 
and breeding alike as to nesting and feeding. However, I will 
say that this species is found more abundantly represented in 
those places where the Avocets are least, and quite as well 
represented in their main breeding locations on the Red river. 
I have never seen its nest "in situ," but the eggs I have seen. 
They are pale brownish-olive, and covered with dark brown 
splotches, varied with lighter brown. 

Mr. Lewis reports them common along the Red river from 
spring till late in October. Mr. Washbnrn does not mention 
them at either that section, or at MilleLacs Mr. Treganowan 
notes them at Kandiyohi, and in Grant county in limited num- 
bers, but not in the breeding season. It is quite evident that 
migrants from the north in September, distribute themselves 
over sections that are not visited by birds breeding here. It 
is very sure that none have ever been observed in those sec- 
tions at other times than those of migrations. A few have 
been seen at Duluth on Lake Superior (Laurie), and others in 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 117 

Le Sueur county, (sent to this city for mounting), and they get 
into the Snipe market occasionally in the fall. The latest 
date at which 1 have any record of seeing them is October 15th, 

(1874). 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Legs very long and slender; wings long; large space in front 
of the head, spot behind the eye, and entire under parts, white, 
frequently with a very pale reddish tinge; head above, neck 
behind, back and wings, glossy black; rump and tail white, the 
latter frequently tinged with ashy; bill black; legs red, 

Length, 14; wing, 8.50; tarsus, 4; tail, 3; commissure, 3. 

Habitat, Temperate North America. 

Note. The Black-necked Stilts are much more common in 
Minnesota than I formerly supposed, breeding in general sec- 
tions in which the Avocets breed as evidenced by their 
presence during the entire season of nidification. After they 
disperse to breed, they are seldom seen except by those speci- 
ally devoted to the critical study of their specific habits, and 
then very infrequently as they are much devoted to their 
special duties, and as it is well known that the male assumes 
equal responsibility in covering the eggs in the intervals of 
the absence of the female, and as the young are cared for much 
longer than many other species look after theirs, their vigi- 
lance in maintaining great secrecy would add greatly to the 
difficulties in finding their nests. I have never seen it, but the 
eggs have been sent to me under circumstances under which I 
could have no doubt of them, and corresponded to the descrip- 
tions of the acknowledged authorities. 

Family SCOLOPACID^. 

PHILOHELA MINOR (Gmelin). (228.) 

AMERICAN WOODCOCK. 

As early as the full tide of the Duck migration reaches us, 
the Woodcock is here, and invariably in small parties of five or 
six, rarely more. At this time it will be found in the low 
brushlands bordering heavier growths on the southern side. 
I have no record of its arrival earlier than the last week in 
March, when it was obtained by Mr. J. C. Bailey near Whale 
Tail lake, in the western part of Hennepin county, at a spot 
long known to him as a favorite one for the Woodcocks. He 
discovered it by having observed it about the same date in 
former years, and being on the alert for its first arrival, 
watched for it at twilight in the morning. Its habits are so 
well known to sportsmen, that it would be time unprofitably 
spent to refer to most of them here, but for the fact that all 



118 NOTES ON THE 

who are interested in the natural history survey of Minnesota 
are not sportsmen. It is essentially a nocturnal bird, beginning 
its movements in search of food at the early twilight and ter- 
minating them only at the opening day. As the food consists 
of animalcules, insects and worms chiefly, and the bill is long, 
slim and slender, it must find pools of stagnant water, and soft, 
muddy soil in which to secure it. When visiting such localities, 
the borings of their bills in soft mucky places, will often attract 
the experienced eye, and result in the early capture of a brace 
of these birds. Often times during the spring and summer, I 
have determined their presence in some favored locality by 
hearing their notes in the night. These consist of several 
forms or variations, the principal ones of which are more 
nearly expressed by chip-ah, chip-ah, chip, and another some- 
what resembling tweet, tweet, tweet-ah, tweet-ah, dc. 

If not already mated when they reach this latitude, they are 
soon after, for by the fifth to the tenth of April the nests are 
constructed, and the eggs laid. These are from three to four 
in number, of a creamy- drab, with a little shade of olivaceous, 
more or less spotted with reddish-brown and lilac. Both sexes 
participate in the sacrifices of incubation, and vie with each 
other in faithfulness to the eggs and yoang, the latter being 
fed by them until about full grown I think the new family re- 
mains unbroken till their southern migration has taken place, 
unless broken by their destruction. 

I have found them as late as the fifteenth of October, yet I 
am satisfied that this is exceptionally late for the larger part 
of them. In every respect the Woodcock is unique. In struct- 
ure, it certainly is so remarkable that the commonest observer 
would at once recognize it. No other bird has its eyes so near 
the top of its head, a characteristic so marked as to lead 
to the identity by anyone who ever saw a plate of it, or even 
had read a popular description of it. Its nocturnal habits are 
such that it may be comparatively abundant in a given locality 
without the slightest suspicion of its presence, until familiar 
with its "borings" which may be numerous in the immediate 
vicinity of the residence. For years this was the case with 
a family residing near the banks of the Mississippi, within the 
limits of this city. The borings had yearly been noticed near 
the stable and attributed to worms, while the bird tracks asso- 
ciated with them were credited to snipe that came to feed upon 
them. As soon as an intimation of their real origin came to 
the gentleman residing there, he began a series of careful 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 119 

observations resulting in the discovery of several nests within 
a hundred yards of his barn. For as much as five years after 
the observation of the borings, parb of which passed before 
his knowledge of their real cause, these birds returned to the 
same place, but new nests were constructed each season. He 
was able to secure me all the eggs of Woodcock that I desired, 
and allowed me full opportunity to share all his observations 
during the last year of their return. The extension of the 
streets of the city demanding the removal of the barn, thicket, 
and the soft, mucky springhole, put an everlasting end to 
their return. One of the nests alluded to seemed to have been 
constructed entirely of leaves, while another had a large mix- 
ture of dried grasses. Still, in the larger number of instances 
it consists only of leaves, with very little attempt at architec- 
ture. The choice of the place for the nest is perhaps more 
commonly a meadow rather than a thicket, and in a clump of 
small willows, alders or birches, wherein are accumulated 
many leaves of the previous year out of which to construct 
them. The period of incubation is fourteen days. That time 
is made equal to a much longer one, by the circumstances of 
the male occupying the nest in the absence of the female to pro- 
cure herself food. It was remarkable to me to see how tena- 
ciously the sitting bird would cling to the nest in the immediate 
presence of danger, allowing me to almost reach it with my 
hand before slipping off and flying away. At other than the 
time of incubation, they shift their feeding grounds in what 
appears a most capricious manner, but really under the indica- 
tions of the weather, a circumstance familiar to expert Wood- 
cock hunters. Their flight is spirited and rapid, and attended 
with a twittering note that is very characteristic. They have 
a remarkable habit of poising a moment on their wings when 
they have been flushed, in which position they are pretty sure 
of death from the sportsman's shot, if he is accustomed to 
shooting Woodcock, and it is the only position in which any 
one except an expert will be likely to harm them, for they 
! drop out of sight as if killed when they disappear again. 
' They are rapid runners and hard to flush the second time, but 
will stand for a dog to point as long as almost any other bird 
[in the sportsman's calendar. During the latter part of the 
' i summer, they disappear until early in September, or even a 
I little later, it being their moulting season, when it is nearly 
I j impossible to find them, indeed I must say that I have never 
quite satisfied myself where they go. 

9z 



120 NOTES ON THE 

But when they return in that month, instead of affecting the 
former localities, they are generally found in cultivated fields, 
amidst corn, grain shocks, etc., and occasionally in ditches in 
the meadows. Itinerant collectors have failed to contribute^ 
any information about this species in other sections of the| 
State, and I am left to sportsmen for facts concerning theii 
local distribution. Through them I have ascertained that 
while nowhere extremely abundant, it is found in all sections 
favorable for their securing food. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill long, compressed, punctured and corrugated near the 
end; upper mandible longest, and fitted to lower at the tipfl 
wings moderate, first three quills very narrow; tail short; legs 
moderate; eyes inserted unusually distant from the bill; occi- 
put with three transverse bands of black, alternating with 
three others of pale, yellowish rufous; upper parts of the body 
variegated with pale ashy, rufous, or yellowish-red of various 
shades, and black; large space in front, and throat, reddish- 
ashy; line from the eye to the bill, and another on the neck 
below the eye, brownish-black; entire under parts pale rufous, 
brighter on the sides and under wing coverts; quills ashy- 
brown; tail feathers, brownish-black, tipped with ashy, darker 
on the upper surface, paler and frequently white on the under; 
bill light brown, paler and yellowish at the base; legs pale 
reddish; iris brown. 

Length, 11; wing, 5.25; tail, 2.25; tarsus, 1.25. 

Habitat, eastern province of North America, north to Brit- 
ish provinces, west to Dakota, Kansas, etc. 

GALLINAGO DELICATA (Ord). (230.) 
WILSON'S SNIPE. 

In the last days of February, some sixteen years ago, the 
Ducks, Geese, and this species of Snipe came into this latitude 
as unseasonably as the farmers commenced sowing their wheat. 
And cold as several "snaps" were subsequently, none of these 
species left the country, appearing constantly afterwards on 
the fields and in the marshes where the waters were open. 
The Snipes are usually either preceded by the Geese and 
Ducks somewhat, or being quite nocturnal in their habits, are 
overlooked for more or less time after their arrival, which is 
probably the case. Excepting the spring mentioned, and 
another in which they were observed on the 27th of March, 
they have never come under my notice, nor have they been re- 
ported to me by others before the first of April. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 121 

They come in small parties that resort to the ponds, and are 
found in the meadows late in May, more frequently in pairs 
than in these small flocks of half a dozen. A few are occasion- 
ally seen as late as the 15th of May, but the most have disap- 
peared by the end of the last week of April, or the first of May. 

Sportsmen insist that they belong in Kandiyohi county, but 
I do not fully credit the statement, although the lateness of 
the date on which they have come under my own observation 
here, make such a fact possible, especially in the northwestern 
portions of our territory. No nests have yet been reported 
within our borders. They return here in flocks of twenty to 
thirty, or even more sometimes, about the 25th of August. 
These flocks are gradually augmented until hundreds may be 
flushed on their favorite feeding grounds by the 25th of Sep- 
tember. Mr. Washburn found them abundantly represented 
everywhere in favorable localities in the Red river valley, from 
October 10th till the 25th, (when he left there), and Dr. Hvoslef 
reports them in Fillmore county, November 8, (1885). Mr. 
Lewis was always confident that a few remain in the south- 
western section of the State all winter. The latest that any 
have been seen in Hennepin county (latitude 45), is November 
12th. 1868. Their habits while here are too well known to 
need any description. 

Since writing the above, many circumstantial proofs have 
reached me that this species does breed considerably within our 
limits, and I shall hope that before this report is finally closed, 
I shall be fully assured that such is the case, for everybody in 
general believes so. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill long, compressed, flattened, and slightly expanded 
towards the tip, pustulated in its terminal half; wings rather 
long; legs moderate; tail short; entire upper parts brownish- 
black, every feather spotted and widely edged with light 
rufous, yellowish, or ashy- white; back and rump transversely 
barred and spotted with the same; a line from the base of the 
bill over the top of the head, throat and neck before, dull 
reddish-ashy; wing feathers marked with dull brownish-black; 
other under parts w^hite, with transverse bars of brownish- 
black on the sides, axillary feathers, under wing coverts, and 
under tail coverts; quills brownish-black; outer edge of first 
primary white; tail glossy brownish-black, widely tipped with 
bright rufous, paler at the tip, and with a subterminal 
narrow band of black; outer tail feathers paler, frequently 



122 NOTES ON THE 

nearly white, and barred with blaclr throughout their length; 
bill brown, yellowish at base and darker towards the end; 
legs dark brown; iris hazel. 

Length, 10.50; wing, 5; tail, 2.25; bill, 2.50; tarsus, 1.25. 

Habitat, Temperate North America. 

MACRORHAMPHIS SCOLOPACEUS (Say). (232.) 

LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER. 

The migrations of this Snipe do not materially differ in any 
respect from Wilson's. If anything, it is habitually the more 
abundantly represented, especially in the fall migrations. Some- 
times they reach us simultaneously with the earlier Ducks, but 
more frequently they are in spring a little later. They fly very 
compactly, and are thus slaughtered in great numbers for the 
market in the autumn. In the absence of positive proof I 
nevertheless believe that they breed here more or less, as they 
are occasionally met with until late in July when they are 
moulting, and seek the most secluded and unapproachable 
places. Scarcely a season passes in which I do not meet a 
few solitary individuals in my own county, and wherever I go 
I get the same report. It is often well into October before the 
last of them are gone. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Rather smaller than the preceding; bill long, compressed, 
flattened, and expanded towards the end where it is punctula- 
ted and corrugated; wing rather long, shaft of first primary 
strong; tail short, legs rather long; upper parts variegated 
with dark ashy, pale reddish and black, the latter predomi- 
nating on the back; rump and upper tail coverts white, the 
latter spotted and barred transversely with black; under parts 
pale ferruginous-red, with numerous points and circular spots 
of brownish-black on the neck before, and transverse bands of 
the same on the sides and under tail coverts; axillary feathers 
and under wing coverts white, spotted and transversely barred 
with black; quills brownish-black, shaft of first primary white; 
tail brownish-black, with numerous transverse bands of ashy 
white, frequently tinged with ferruginous, especially on the two 
middle feathers; bill greenish-black; legs dark greenish-brown. 

Length, 10; wing, 5.75; tail, 2.25; bill, 2.25; tarsus, 1.25. 

Habitat, Mississippi Valley and Western Province of North 
America. 

Note. After Dr. Coues had spoken so emphatically in the 
rejection of the specific name of this species, in his Birds of 
the Northwest, p. 477, and upon what seemed to be the best of 
reasons, I am not a little surprised to find it adopted by the 
American Ornithological Union. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 123 

The extreme variations in the measurements of individuals 
of the same species amongst the Limicoline birds is too well 
known to be questioned, but fifty against one settles it till 
another forty- nine shall arise to help him fight his battle over. 
The tinkering with the nomenclature of the birds has been the 
terror of the tyros. 

MICROPALAMA HIMANTOPUS (Bonaparte). (233.) 
STILT SANDPIPER. 

This Sandpiper was one of the first of my trophies in my early 
collections in the then Territory of Minnesota. In years after- 
wards, I had made many a collecting tour before I had this bird 
in hand again. Since then for some twenty-five years, it has been 
mj^ good fortune to meet them many times, but not every sea- 
son of migration, nor even every year, and they are never com- 
mon. Coming to us in the night, as do all of the scolopaceous 
birds, they are easily overlooked for some time after their 
arrival in most cases, but through the long series of observa- 
tions I have recorded, I find that they have come under my 
notice on the average about the fifth of April. 

They remain but a short time before the last have disap 
peared in a further northward movement. They come in 
small flocks, and keep mostly about shallow ponds, and along 
the smaller streams flowing through the marshes, but I have 
found them on the sandy beaches of some of the larger lakes 
on several occasions. Their food w^hile here does not differ 
from that of most other species of the family. They are shy, 
and exceedingly vigilant, making it no easy matter to get 
them. By the last week in August they begin to return to us 
in appreciably larger numbers, and remain until about the first 
of November, I have no record later than October 27th. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Legs long, slender; toes slender, united at base with web, 
the outer of which is the larger; hind toe small; bill long, some- 
what arched, slender, much compressed, expanded and fiat- 
tened at the tip, which is minutely punctulated and corrugaied, 
pointed; tail short, middle feathers longest, outer feathers 
frequently longer than the next, under coverts long; lower 
half of tibia naked; upper parts brownish- black, nearly all the 
feathers edged with ashy- white and yellowish-red; narrow 
band from above the eye to the occiput, bright browmish-red, 
inclosing the brownish-black of the top of the head; spot on 
the ears the same red; rump and upper tail coverts white, with 
transverse narrow stripes and pointed spots of brownish black; 



124 NOTES ON THE 

under parts ashy- white, tinged with pale reddish, with numer- 
ous longitudinal stripes of brownish black on the neck, and 
transverse stripes of the same on the other under parts; axil- 
lary feathers white; under wing coverts ashy- white; bill and 
legs greenish-black. 

Length. 9; wing. 5.25; tail, 2.25; bill, 1.75; tarsus, 1.75. 

Habitat, Eastern Province of North America. 



TRINGA CANUTUS L. (234.) 

KNOT. 

There have been two or three years in succession when I 
failed to find this rather rare Sandpiper, followed by as many 
more when I would get one or two of them, but for the last ten 
years I find more of them in the market, brought ' ' from 
beyond the Big Woods," than I find anywhere else. 

They are found single in the spring migrations, or at most 
in pairs, but in the late summer and fall they are invariably 
mingled with other species. Their stay is very short in the 
spring, but in the fall they remain until November. There is 
little in their habits while with us to distinguish them from 
the other members of the family. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill straight, rather longer than the head, compressed and 
slightly enlarged at the tip; upper mandible with the nasal 
groove extending to near the tip; legs moderate; tibia with its 
lower third naked; neck, moderate; wing, long; tail, short; toes, 
free at base, flattened beneath, widely margined, hind toe small 
j^and slender; entire upper parts light gray, with lanceolate, 
inear and irregular spots of black, and others pale-reddish; 
•"^ump and upper tail coverts white, with transverse narrow 
bands and crescent shaped spots of black; under parts light 
brownish-red, paler in the middle of the abdomen; under tail 
coverts, tibial feathers, flanks, axillary feathers, and under 
wing coverts white, generally with spots and transverse bars 
of brownish-black; quills brownish-black with their shafts 
white; tail, light brownish-cinereous without bars or spots, all 
the feathers edged with white, and frequently with a second 
sub edging of dark-brown; bill, brownish- black; legs, greenish 
black. 

Length, 10; wing, 6.50; tail, 2.50, commissure, 1.50; tarsus 
1.25. 

Habitat, nearly cosmopolitan. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 125 

TRINGA MACULATA Vieillot. (239.) 

PECTORAL SANDPIPER. 

This familiar bird to the sportsmen is a common species dur- 
ing its migrations, arriving in spring about the 1st of April, or 
a trifle later, and remaining until about the first week in May. 
They appear in very small scattered parties, or singly. While 
with us they seem to become paired, as in shooting one, another 
one is almost sure to flush, and quite certain to be if hunted 
with a dog, when the two are found to represent opposite 
sexes. They are usually found on dry meadows near to that 
which is somewhat wet, and their food is principally crickets 
in spring, interlarded with various dry-land larvsG, small beetles 
and ground worms. In the fall the grasshoppers are first 
chosen, after which crickets and whatever other insects prevail 
at the season. They remain almost unobserved by any one 
except the sportsman until about the 20th of October before 
moving away southward, but are not all gone very quickly then. 

Never really abundant, but uniformly fairly common in their 
migrations, and now well known to breed in nearly all portions 
of the State to some extent. It was not until I had been on a 
close lookout for their local habits in this respect for many 
years that I obtained a nest with three eggs, in the neighbor- 
hood of Herman. Having often seen some of these birds in the 
market in June, in the earlier years of my residence here, I 
could have no doubts of their breeding here, and I had read in 
the Pacific Railroad Reports that ' 'This species has been as- 
certained to breed abundantly in Wisconsin by Professor T. 
Kumlein, an energetic cultivator of zoological science, now 
resident in that state," when I was directed to the locality where 
the birds had been observed by a hunting friend of mine. It 
was no small task to find the nest, but the reward was amply 
satisfactory. It was placed directly on the ground, which was 
hollowed out somewhat, and consisted of a small quantity of 
dried grass, loosely disposed, and containing three eggs, col 
ored yellowish-gray with spots of amber thickly scattered 
around the larger end. Since then. I have received satisfac- 
tory assurances that they have been found by others in several 
sections of the State. Their habits, and their relative num- 
bers, make observations of them during the incubating season 
extremely difficult. 



126 NOTES ON THE 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill rather longer than head, compressed, slightly depressed, 
and expanded at the tip; nasal groove long; wings long; legs 
rather long; tibia with nearly its lower half naked; toes free 
at base, flattened underneath, and slightly margined; tail rather 
short; middle feathers pointed; entire upper part brownish - 
black, all the feathers edged and tipped with ashy and brown- 
ish red; rump and upper tail coverts black, some of the outer 
feathers of the latter edged with white; line from the bill over 
the eye ashy- white; throat, abdomen, under wing coverts, axil- 
liary feathers, and under tail coverts white; breast and neck 
before, ashy white, all the feathers darker at the base and 
with partially concealed lanceolate or pointed spots of brown- 
ish-black; quills brownish-black; shaft of first primary white, of 
the others brown; secondaries tipped and edged with white; 
tertiaries edged with dull reddish- yellow; bill and feet dark 
greenish-black. 

Length, 9; wing, 5.25; tail, 2.50; bill to gape, 1.12; tarsus, 1. 

Habitat, North America. 

TRINGA BAIRDII (Coues). (241.) 
BAIRD'S SANDPIPER. 

In the spring of 1875, Dr. T. S. Roberts stated that he had 
obtained several specimens of this species, since which time 
they have been collected by different parties on many occasions. 
Mr. J. Ransom of Pelican lake, has sent several in the flesh, 
all of which were spring birds, in good plumage. 

There is no doubt of their habitual migrations through the' 
State, and in considerable numbers in the fall, reaching the 
upper counties early in August, and passing on below, in the 
latter part of September. 

They are said to breed in Alaska. The description of the 
species, of the habits of which I know nothing, I quote from 
"Birds of the Northwest" by Coues. Adult Male. "Bill 
wholly black, small and slender, slightly shorter than the 
head, just as long as the tarsus, or as the middle toe and claw, 
slightly expanded or lancet shaped at the end, the point acute; 
grooves long, narrow, deep; feathers on side of lower mandible 
evidently reaching further than those on upper. Upper parts 
brownish-black (deepest on the rump and middle upper tail 
coverts, and lightest on the neck behind), each feather bor- 
dered and tipped with pale brownish -yellow, the tipping of the 
scapulars broader and nearly white, their margining broad and 
brightest in tint, making several deep scollops towards the 
shafts of the feathers. Only the outer series of upper tail 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 127 

coverts on each side varied with whitish. Middle tail-feathers 
brownish-black, the others plain grskj with paler margins. 
Jugulum tinged with light, dull yellowish- brown, spotted and 
streaked with illy-defined blackish markings, as are also the 
sides under the wings. Throat and other under parts white, 
unmarked. Feet black like the bill. 

"Length, 7^; extent, 15:^; wing, 4.9; bill, 0.85; tarsus and 
middle toe and claw the same." 

TRINGA MINIITILLA Vieillot. (242.) 
LEAST SANDPIPER. 

Abundant everywhere in Minnesota during the migrations. 
The numbers greatly reduced about the first week in May, but 
no time during the remainder of the season when there is not 
a fair representation until after the first sharp frosts. They 
reach the locality where I live, about the 20th of April, in 
backward seasons still later. Their first appearance here is in 
flocks of ten to fifteen, which after about ten days more, grow 
steadily less in numbers until the species entirely disappears 
as flocks, 

There is no week in all the summer when at least one indivi- 
dual may not be seen in the course of a, day's collecting in the 
marshes, amongst the muddy, or sandy shored ponds and 
sloughs, or along the pebbly beach of a clear pure lake. 
Never more than one at a time until in August, when the num- 
ber increases from time to time, until by the 20th, they are seen 
in considerable flocks. Of course they are breeding, but just 
where, how, and when, are the unanswered questions still 
pending. Pour eggs were brought to me in 1880, said by the 
kindly donor to be those of the Least Sandpiper, and I guess 
that they were, but how am I to know? The bird which covered 
them had not been secured. They answered the description, 
" Buffy-yellow, thickly spotted with brown and drab." But 
there are others that have all of these characteristics. I am not 
certain that I have ever seen the eggs of this species. But I 
do not hesitate to say that the Least Sandpiper breeds nearly 
everywhere in the State. 

Dr. Hvoslef reports the species present at Lanesboro late in 
May, and on the 4th of August, 1879. Mr. Washburn, who visi- 
ted the Red river valley on the 28th of July, 1885, and re- 
mained until the 12th of September, found them at Crookston 
"in muddy fields, and on plowed ground, over which water 
was standing; and again at Mud lake." He further remarks 



128 NOTES ON THE 

* * they were very tame and could be shot at again and again, 
returning to the same place, and walking unconcernedly about 
on the mud among their dead and dying comrades, perfectly 
oblivious in their search for food, of the author of so much 
destruction." And I could add similar reports from other 
localities if they were needed. The flocks increase in size until 
they are driven away by the cold, but they never assume the 
proportions which they do on the sea coast. The above was 
written in 1880, since which the bird, eggs and nest have been 
added to my personal collections, and obtained by several col- 
lectors. The nest is located on dry knolls, or sand dunes near 
the shore of a pond, and consists of a hollow in the friable 
soil, into which is placed a moderate quantity of dried grass. 
There are four pretty, creamy eggs, dotted and blotched with 
dark-brown more pronounced near the larger end. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

The smallest of all known species of this group found in 
North America; bill about as long as the head, slightly curved 
towards the end, which is very slightly expanded; grooves in 
both mandibles to near the tip; wing long; tertiaries nearly as 
long as the primaries; tail short, middle feathers longest, 
outer feabhers frequently longer than the intermediate; legs 
long; lower third of the tibia naked; toes long, slender, mar- 
gined, and flattened beneath; hind toe small; upper partb with 
nearly every feather having a large central spot of brownish- 
black, and widely margined with ashy and bright brownish-red; 
rump and middle of the upper tail coverts, black; outer coverts 
white, spotted with black; stripe over the eye, throat, and 
breast, pale ashy-white, with numerous small longitudinal spots 
of ashy-brown; abdomen and under tail coverts, white; quills, 
dark brown, with the shafts of the primaries white; tertiaries 
edged with reddish; middle feathers of the tail, brownish-black; 
outer feathers light ashy- white; under surface of wing, light 
brownish-ashy, with a large spot of white near the shoulder; 
axillary feathers, white; bill and legs, greenish-brown, the 
latter frequently yellowish-green. 

Length, 5.50 to 6; wing, 3.50 to 3.75; tail, 1.75; bill to gape, 
0.75; tarsus, 0.75. 

Habitat, North and South America. 

EREUNETES PUSILLUS (L.). (246.) 

SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER. 

A regular migrant, reaching the section where I reside about 
the 25th of April, intimately associated with the Least Sandpip- 
ers, they remain about the smaller lakes and ponds for a short 
time, and disappear so much like that species after three or 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 129 

four weeks, that I strongly suspect that while they principally 
go farther north to breed, some remain to do so with us. 

For evident reasons already mentioned, if such is the case» 
there is little occasion for surprise that the nests have not been 
discovered. Their constant note, repeated in a subdued tone, 
tioeet, tweet, is similar to that of the other species. Indeed, all 
their habits are indistinguishable, and I am compelled to have 
the bird in my hands to identify it with any feeling of certainty. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill about the length of the head, rather thicker than usual 
in this group; both mandibles somewhat expanded and flattened 
at the tip, and minutely punctulated as in the genera Scolopax 
and GalUnago; wings, long; legs, moderate, rather slender; 
toes united at the- base by a membrane which is large, between 
the outer and middle toes, extending to the first joint; hind toe 
small; tail, short, with the middle feathers longest; outer 
feathers frequently longer than the third, presenting a doubly 
emarginate character to the tail; under coverts nearly as long 
as the tail; upper parts, light brownish -ashy, with lanceolate 
or ovate spots of brownish-black in the middle of the feathers; 
rump and upper tail coverts, black; front, band of the eye, and 
entire under parts, ashy-white, with small spots on the breast 
of ashy-brown; quills, brownish-black, lighter on their inner 
webs, and with their shafts white; middle feathers of the tail, 
brownish-black; outer feathers, pale brownish-ashy; under 
wing coverts and axillaries, white; bill, greenish-black; feet 
dark, the lower parts of the tarsus and toes, frequently tinged 
with yellow; upper part in summer, mixed with light reddish; 
iris, brown. 

Length, 6.50; wing, 3.75; tail. 1.75; bill from gape, 0.75; 
tarsus, 0.75 to 1. 

Habitat, Eastern Province of North America. 

CALIDRIS ARENARIA (L ). (248.) 
SANDERLING. 

The Sanderling has long been a common bird on the sea 
coasts, and I had not expected to be permitted to list it in Min- 
nesota, when Mr. W. L. Tiffany (then a resident of this city 
and enthusiastically interested in birds) brought me an adult 
male in the spring of 1875. Since then I have found it a rather 
regular visitor in both migrations, but some years I am confi- 
dent that they fail to appear, or in one of the migrations at 
least. 

They are never numerous, but come to us about the middle 
of April in company with the Sandpipers and Snipes. It is 
usual to find them mating to some extent while here, but they 



130 NOTES ON THE 

are soon gone afterwards. An individual I obtained in July- 
suggests the possibility of a few breeding here. All prejudged 
conclusions as to the breeding limits of species are valueless. 
And when emanating from persons assuming to be authori 
ties in the matter they are often unjust to earnest, ambitious 
young naturalists by reflecting shadows of doubt upon their 
best work. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

No hina toe; front toes moderate or rather long, flattened 
underneath; distinctly margined with a membrane; bill rather 
longer than the head, straight, rather thick; ridge of upper 
mandible flattened; nasal groove deep and nearly as long as the 
upper mandible, not so distinct in the lower; both mandibles 
widened and flattened at the tip; aperture of* the nostril large 
and covered with a membrane; wing long; tail short, with the 
middle feathers longest; under coverts as long as the tail; legs 
moderate; lower third of the tibia naked; upper parts light 
ashy with lanceolate, hastate and ovate spots of brownish black 
on top of the head, on the back, scapulars and shorter quills; 
rump and upper tail coverts with fine transverse lines of black; 
under parts pure white; shoulders brownish-black without 
spots; quills brownish black with their shafts white and much 
paler on the inner webs; greater wing coverts widely tipped 
with white; middle feathers of tail ashy-brown, edged with 
white; outer feathers paler; bill and legs greenish-black; sexes 
alike; iris brown. 

Length, 8; wing, 5; tail, 2; bill, 1; tarsus, 1. 

Habitat, nearly cosmopolitan. 

LIMOSA FEDOA (L.). (249.) 
MARBLED GODWIT. 

Fairly common . for a few days in early May, these larger 
birds of the Scolopacidae family are with us but a short time in 
their migrations, especially in the spring. They are already 
paired when they come in most cases, and are seldom found in 
anything like flocks at this time, but when they return about 
the 15th of August, or the 20th, as occurs more frequently per- 
haps, they are generally in parties of five or six, rarely more. 
They remain in autumn until the 20th of September if no severe 
frosts appear, in which case they are all gone the next morn- 
ing early, taking to wiag before the dawn. Specimens were 
not uncommon in the shops and private cabinets of St. Paul 
thirty years ago, and may still be found as common in the 
museums of the academies and educational institutions from 
the State University through. It is somewhat irregular in 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 131 

respect to the lines of its passage through Minnesota, failing 
to put in an appearance on some for two or three seasons in 
succession, in one or the other migration, and appearing by a 
fair representation in others. 

Mr. Holzinger does not give them in the list of the Normal 
School collection and Mr. Washburn makes no mention of them 
in theRed river valley. On the undulating prairie lying be- 
tween the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers, near Fort Snelling.I 
formerly found the Marbled Godwit without much uncertainty 
in its autumnal migrations, rarely however in the vernal. In 
what is now the northwestern section of the city where I reside 
there are two or three shallow lakes, between and around 
which are some rather sterile knolls. On several collecting 
tramps I found a number of this species on them. At a little 
distance, those on the highest looked to be much larger than 
they really were, and were utterly unapproachable except by 
strategy, as one of the number invariably remained on guard. 
But when by any means one individual got within shot, and was 
either killed or crippled, the others would fly within range in 
their solicitude for the unfortunate one, when a second, usually 
no doubt the mate, was most likely to share its fate. 

The first week in September is the golden time for finding 
them, and they are then much sought for by sportsmen familiar 
with them. The flesh is very delicious eating. Their stay is 
too brief for any but the initiated to secure them and when 
others obtain them it is by the accidence of their association 
with flocks of more common species. From the uniform late- 
ness of their arrival in spring, and the early date of their re- 
appearance in fall, or rather late summer, I hoped to have 
found their nests long ago, but although I learned indirectly of 
others having done so in 1864, I had no personal knowledge of 
them until in the autumn of 1872, when I found three eggs, and 
what was said to be the male and female associated with them, 
in the St. Paul Academy's collection. Coues' "Birds of the 
Northwest" was published two years afterward, in which he 
mentions seeing the same, so that it is probable that he saw 
them before I had done so, and I quote briefly what he says. 
"The only perfect set of eggs of the Godwit I have seen were 
taken June 1, 1871, fifty miles northwest of Saint Paul, Minne- 
sota; both parents were secured and deposited in the Saint 
Paul Academy, where I examined them; so that the identifica- 
tion is unquestionable. There are three eggs in this set, 
measuring 2.30 by 1.60, 2.28 by 1.56 and 2.25 by 1.62. The 



132 NOTES ON THE 

color is a clear, light olivaceous-drab; the markings are small 
and numerous, but not very strongly pronounced — there is noth- 
ing (in this set) of the heavy blotching and marking usually 
seen in wader's eggs. The spots are pretty evenly dis- 
tributed, though rather larger in two instances, and more 
numerous in the other instance, about the butt than elsewhere. 
These markings are of various umber-brown shades, with the 
usual stone-gray shell spots." Since those days it has been re- 
ported that several nests have been obtained which I have not 
seen, and I have had only one brought to me. The nest was 
described as constructed exclusively of grass, in a superficial 
excavation in the ground, on a dry prairie about 12 miles 
southwest of this city, and was found on the 5th of June, 1879. 
The eggs were three in number and essentially as described 
above, except that the largest was not quite as long as the 
longest given, and the shortest was a trifle shorter than the 
shortest, while of the same width. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill long, curved upwards, both mandibles grooved; wings 
long; tail short; legs long; tibia with its lower half naked; toes 
rather short, margined and flattened underneath; the outer and 
middle toes united by a rather large membrane; entire upper 
parts variegated with brownish-black and pale-reddish, the 
former disposed in irregular and confluent bands, and the 
latter in spots and imperfect bands; in many specimens the 
black color predominating on the back, and the pale-red on the 
rump and upper tail coverts; under parts pale rufous, with 
transverse lines of brownish-black on the breast and sides; 
under wing coverts and axillaries rufous; outer webs of 
primaries dark brown, inner webs light rufous; secondaries 
light rufous; tail light rufous with transverse bars of brownish- 
black; bill pale yellowish-red at base, brownish-black at the 
end; legs ashy-black; iris brown. 

Length, 18; wing, 9; tail, 3.50; bill, 4 to 5; tarsus, 3. 

Habitat, North America. 

LIMOSA HJaMASTIOA (L.). (251). 
HUDSONIAN GODWIT. 

I have never met with this bird in the flesh, but have found 
it in several collections, leaving no question of its presence in 
migration. 

The first instance of its coming under my observation was 
in t'le collection of Mr. Schroeder, of St. Paul, and subse- 
quently in Mr. Rowling's, of this city. It is found only as 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 133 

associated with other flocks of its family, and so far as I have 
been able to learn, has only been obtained in fall migrations. 
I know nothing of its habits to distinguish it from the other 
species of its genus. The description of the species is as 
follows : 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Smaller than the preceding; bill longer than the head; both 
mandibles grooved, slightly recurved; wings long; legs mod- 
erate; membranes uniting the outer and middle toe large, 
Upper parts brownish- black, with dots and transverse bars of 
pale reddish on the back; rump brownish-black; upper tail 
coverts white; wing coverts and shorter quills dark cinereous; 
primaries brownish black; under parts yellowish-red, with 
transverse bars of brownish-black on the breast and sides, and 
under tail coverts, and frequently with the feathers on the 
abdomen widely tipped with white; tail black with the base 
white and narrowly tipped with white; under wing coverts and 
axillary feathers black; shafts of primaries white; bill pale 
yellowish at base, tip brownish-black; legs bluish-brown; iris 
brown 

Length, 15; wing, 8; tail 3; bill, 2.75 to 3.50; tarsus, 2.50. 

Habitat, eastern, northern and middle America. 

TOTANUS MELANOLEUCUS (Gmelin). (254.) 

GREATER YELLOW-LEGS. 

This bird is a typical wader, being almost constantly in the 
puddles, pools and ditches in spring, in quest of its food, found 
mostly in those places. 

They rarely resort to strands and sandy beaches except in 
passing from one of the former localities to another. It is gen- 
erally about the 10th of April, when they appear about our 
ponds and muddy lakes in considerable numbers, for a time, 
and then disappear until the latter part of August when they 
come back in force. In their fall migration, they not only 
remain longer but resort in large flocks to the fields, where 
wheat and corn have been grown, in which they find an abun- 
dance of larvae, worms, and various species of insects in large 
numbers. They are the terror of the sportsman, for as soon 
as they discover anything suggestive of a man or a gun, they 
set up a loud, shrill noise that awakens every game bird in 
the region for a quarter of a mile around in all directions. The 
"quack" by the ducks as they take to wing before having seen 
any danger themselves, is the unwelcome farewell to the next 
hour's sport. It takes no ordinary measure of strategy to bag 
them after they have once been flushed. 



134 NOTES ON THE 

They remain often into November before taking final leave 
for the milder latitudes. The Red river country is their 
abounding region in their migrations, yet there is no section 
which they do not visit in greater or lesser numbers. I have 
them abundantly reported from Big Stone lake (Cutter), Her- 
man, Grant county (Clague), Red River (Washburn), Lanes- 
boro (Dr. Hvoslef ), Lake Shetak (Herrick), Waseca (Everett), 
Elbow Lake (Sanford), and many other localities indicating 
their distribution. Mr. Washburn states that when he visited 
the Red river region late in July and early in August, he 
found both the Telltales (the sportsman's name for the Yellow- 
legs), still non-gregarious, only one or two individuals being 
seen in one place, which hints strongly at their being in prox- 
imity to their breeding places, for in a very short time after- 
wards they were seen in considerable flocks on the plowed 
fields. On August 6th he says "many single birds observed 
along the Thief river." On the 20th, I found them in large 
flocks along the Minnesota river, ten to fifteen miles above St 
Paul. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill longer than the head, rather slender, curved towards the 
tip; wings rather long, first quill longest; tail short ;neck and legs 
long; toes moderate, marginerl and flattened underneath, con- 
nected at base by membranes, the larger of which unites the 
outer and middle toe; hind toe small, claws short, blunt; 
grooves in both mandibles extending about half their length; 
entire upper parts cinereous of various shades, dark in many 
specimens in full plumage, generally light with white lines on 
the head and neck, and with spots and edgings of dull white 
on the other upper parts; lower back brownish-black; rump 
and upper tail coverts white, generally with more or less im- 
perfect transverse narrow bands of brownish-black; under 
parts white, with longitudinal narrow stripes on the neck, and 
transverse crescent, lanceolate and sagittate spots and stripes 
on the breast and sides; abdomen pure white: quills brownish- 
black with a purplish lustre, shaft of first primary white; sec- 
ondaries and tertiaries tipped, and marked with transverse 
bars and spots of ashy- white; tail white, with transverse nar- 
row bands of brownish-black, wider and darker on the two mid- 
dle feathers; bill brownish-black, lighter at the base; legs 
yellow; iris dark brown. 

Length, 14; wing, 7.50 to 8; tail, 3.25 to 3.50; bill, 2.25; tar- 
sus, 2.50. 

Habitat, America generally. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 135 

TOTANUS FLIVIPES (Gmelin). (255.) 

YELLOW-LEGS. 

From the first to the tenth of April the Yellow-legs appear 
about the shallow pools and muddy ponds in small parties. In 
these they wade about constantly for hours at a time when 
unmolested, and when driven to wing, fly very swiftly away 
in an irregular. Snipe-like manner, making a loud, whistling 
note, illy adapted to concert melody. Their flight is wonder- 
fully compact, the flock moving as if by one impulse through 
all the gyrations incident to indecision where next to go, 
which however often results in their return to the same pool 
when the gunner has concealed himself effectually. From the 
repeated observation of this phenomenon in many species of 
bird life, I am convinced that in such cases only the individual 
leading the flock takes the least cognizance of their surround- 
ings, all others maintaining an instinctive attention to the mo- 
tions of the leader alone. If by an exceptionally sudden sur- 
prise the flock is momentarily deranged, in an instant the 
former compactness is resumed as if nothing had occurred, 
which would be impossible upon any other conceivable hypo- 
thesis. The noisy, whistling notes of the species soon becomes 
familiar to the gunner, which some of them learn to imitate 
so well, that the deluded flock easily falls into the range of 
his deadly missile. Their meat is scarcely less palatable than 
the best of the Snipe kind. By the first of May most of them 
have gone, XDrobably much further north, to multiply by 
reproduction and return here again about the first week in 
September. I know nothing of their nidification habits, and 
have never seen their eggs under circumstances to describe 
them. 

Mr. "Washburn, (as have nearly all my correspondents) 
met with some flocks late in October. He says: — '-At Dead 
lake, Octcber 23d, I saw a few flocks of these birds flying 
south. They were very tame, and exceedingly fat. Although 
repeatedly shot at, they would return again to me on my 
imitating their call." Great numbers of them are usually 
found in the markets and restaurants at this season, as well as 
earlier. Most of them have gone southward by the first of 
November, but I have some records of their remaining until 
the middle of that month. 

lOz 



136 NOTES ON THE 



SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 



Bill rather longer than the head, straight, slender, com- 
pressed; wing long, pointed; tail short; legs, lower half of the 
tibia naked; toes moderate, slender, margined, the outer and 
middle united at the base; rump and upper tail coverts white, 
the latter transversely barred with ashy-brown; the other 
upper parts ashy, many feathers having large arrowheads and 
irregular spots of brownish-black, and edged with ashy-white; 
under parts white, with numerous longitudinal lines on the 
neck before, and arrowheads on the sides of dark ashy-brown; 
axillaries and under wing coverts white, with bands of ashy- 
brown, very indistinct in many specimens, but generally well 
defined; quills brownish-black; tail ashy white with transverse 
bands of dark-brown, middle feathers darker; bill greenish- 
black; legs yellow; iris dark brown. 

Length, 10 to 11; wing, 6 to 6.50; tail, 2.50; bill, 1.50; tarsus, 2. 

Habitat, America in general. 



TOTANUS SOLITARIUS (Wilson). (256.) 
SOLITARY SANDPIPER. 

This little shorebird reaches us as late as the 10th of May; 
rarely earlier, and always in pairs. They are at once found 
running along the shores of ponds, lakes and streams, with 
very little regard to solitude, as the din of all the vast flouring 
and saw mills, with trains of cars passing on an average of 
every ten minutes, to which vastly more confusion should be 
added, does not in the least disturb them. Their food consists 
of aquatic insects and their larvas, with minute mollusca enter- 
ing in to vary the variety. In a short time, or about the 25th 
of May, they principally disappear, evidently to nest and rear 
their young, for only a few are seen, and then in unmistakable 
solitude. This continues until early in August, when they 
begin to seek the former localities in family parties of from six 
to eight. As the summer passes into autumn, these families 
become winged communities of thirty, forty, or more, which 
increase in size to some extent until they leave, about the first 
of October. They are universally distributed over the entire 
State. 

I have several times had the eggs of this species brought to 
me, with all but positive assurance that the identification was 
correct, and I hear of others in the possession of amateur 
o5logists, reputedly collected locally, but in the case of the- 
former, the eggs have either been those of the Spotted Sand- 
pipers, of which I have a full supply of my own collection, or 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 137 

there is no possible distinction between the eggs of the two 
species. Nothing less than the simultaneous obtaining of the 
bird with the eggs will satisfy me now. 

As in my first remarks respecting the species, I was at a loss 
to see why it was named Solitary until I learned for myself 
the difficulty of finding the birds at all during their breeding. 
By going to those sections where they are most commonly 
found at other times, very early in the morning, as I have done 
many times to observe other birds, I have occasionally seen a 
single Sandpiper of this species at the season of nesting. 
Finally I discovered them between sunset and twilight, silently 
running about as if not far from the rest of the family. Then I 
resorted to the locality in the middle of the day, and "pros- 
pected" every square yard of considerable territory, but never 
yet have been rewarded by the discovery of the nest, or indeed 
the birds either at such a time. In the early days of August 
they begin to come out of their hiding places, and are more 
and more frequently seen as the season advances, until in 
September they are often on the wing in small flocks which 
again increase in size until they leave for the winter. I must 
conclude that the setting bird possesses the same instinct for 
secreting the nest and eggs which is well known to be shown 
in other orders of birds. On the approach of an intruder, the 
bird slips silently off the nest and at once covers it with such 
debris as surrounds it, and wends a dubious way rapidly to a 
place of unquestioned safety. 

I cannot resist the impulse of quoting from Coues' "Birds of 
the Northwest," page 500, where is to be found an example of 
his almost peerless genius in the description of the minuter 
traits of those humbler forms of bird life overlooked by less 
observing ornithologists, in which this species has his attention 
until immortalized. He says: ' ' I generally found two or three 
to half a dozen together; frequently one at a time; occasionally, 
but not often, upwards of a score, that seemed, however, to be 
drawn together by their common tastes in the matter of feeding 
grounds rather than by any gregarious instinct. They are 
moreover pretty exclusive in their own set; rather declining, 
than encouraging, familiarity on the part of other waders; 
though the Peetweets and others sometimes intrude their hoy- 
denish society upon the more sedate and aristocratic members 
of the long-legged circle. They should rightly, however, rather 
embrace than merely endure such company, for they are easy 
going, contemplative natures, and their sharp-eyed associates 



138 NOTES ON THE 

often do them good service in sounding- alarms. These Tattlers 
indulge on all occasions, a propensity for nodding like Lord 
Burleigh, or the Chinese Mandarins in front of a tea shop, and 
when they see something they cannot quite make out, seem to 
reason with themselves, and finally come to a conclusion in this 
way; impressing themselves heavily with a sense of their own 
logic. They go through the bowing exercise with a gravity 
that may upset that of a disinterested spectator, and yet all 
through the performance so ludicrous in itself, contrive to pre- 
serve something of the passive sedateness that marks all their 
movements. This bobbing of the head and foreparts is the 
correspondent and counterpart of the still more curious actions 
of the Spotted Tattlers, or Tip-ups, as they are aptly called 
from this circumstance; a queer balancing of the body upon 
the legs, constituting an amusement of which these last named 
birds are extremely fond. As often as the Tip-up, or Teter- 
tail, as it is also called, stops in its pursuit of insects, the fore- 
part of the body is lowered a little, the head drawn in, the legs 
slightly bent, while the hinder parts and tail are alternately 
hoisted with a peculiar jerk, and drawn down again with the 
regularity of clock-work. 

"The movement is more conspicuous in the upward than in 
the downward part of the performance; as if the tail were 
spring-hinged and in constant danger of flying up, needing 
constant presence of mind to keep it down. It is amusing to 
see an old male in the breeding season busy with this opera- 
tion. Upon some rock jutting out of the water he stands, 
swelling with amorous pride and self-complacency, puffing out 
his plumage till he looks twice as big as natural, facing about 
on his narrow pedestal, and bowing with his hindparts to all 
points of the compass. A sensitive and fastidious person 
might see something derisive, if not actually insulting in this, 
and feel as one may be presumed to have felt when the savages 
who attacked his ship in canoes showed the signs of contuma- 
ceous scorn that De Foe records. But it would not be worth 
while to feel offended, since this is only the entirely original 
and peculiar way the Tip-up has of conducting his courtships." 

Much has been said of these peculiarities of the Tip-ups, and 
with much plausibility, but sad to relate, the ornithological ver- 
dict is still unproclaimed as to what all the wonderful bowings, 
and waggings, and puffings really are designed to express. 

Dr. Coues further says: "The solitary Tattlers, that we have 
lost sight of for the moment, are fond of standing motionless 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 139 

in the water when they have satisfied their hunger, or of 
wading about, up to their bellies, with slow measured steps. 
If startled at such times, they rise easily and lightly on wing, 
fly rather slowly a little distance with dangling legs and out- 
stretched neck, to soon re-alight and look about with a dazed 
expression. Just as their feet touch the ground, the long, 
pointed wings are lifted till their tips nearly meet above, and 
are then deliberately folded. The Esquimaux Curlews and 
some other birds have the same habit. The Tattlers are usually 
silent birds, but when suddenly alarmed, they utter a low and 
rather pleasing whistle as they fly off, or even without moving." 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill rather longer than the head, straight, slender, com- 
pressed, both mandibles with narrow grooves; wing long, 
pointed; tail medium or rather short, rounded; legs rather long, 
slender; lower half of the tibia naked; toes long, the outer 
united to the middle by a small membrane, flattened under- 
neath, marginated; upper parts greenish- brown with numerous 
small circular and irregular spots of ashy- white; upper tail 
coverts darker; under parts white; breast and neck before with 
numerous longitudinal lines of greenish-brown; sides, axillaries 
and under wing coverts white with numerous transverse narrow 
bands of dark greenish-brown; under tail coverts white with a 
few transverse bands of dark brown; quills brownish-black with 
a slight bronzed or reddish lustre on the primaries; two middle 
feathers of the tail greenish-brown; other feathers of the tail 
pu]-e white with about five transverse bands of brownish- black; 
bill and legs, dark greenish- brown; iris hazel. 

Length, 8 to 8.50; wing, 5; tail, 2.25; bill, 1.25; tarsus, 1.25. 

Habitat, North America. 

SYMPHEMIA SEMIPALMATA (Gmelin). (258.) 

VVILLET. 

The Willet is a summer resident of Minnesota, reaching this 
latitude about the 20th of April in sparing numbers; never even 
com nonly represented, yet quite uniformly so. They mani- 
festly prefer sandy localities during their entire stay, in which 
places they are more ordinarily found by collectors, yet they 
are not confined to such by any means, for I have often dis- 
covered them in extensive marshes, partly overflown with 
water, feeding after the manner of the Yellow-legs and other 
waders. They are paired by the first week in May, and build 
their nests about the 25th; occasionally a little earlier, but 
oftener a little later, according to the season. I have seen the 



140 NOTES ON THE 

nest in situ but once, but have reports from several others, 
with the eggs. I am satisfied if careful search could be made 
in grant or Otter Tail county in June more could be found than 
further south, yet, theWillet must breed in occasional instances 
in the most southern counties, for individuals are seen there 
during the summer months when they should be breeding, as 
they reappear in August with their progeny in the northern 
sections, followed by their increasing presence below, approach- 
ing the 1st of September. They remain about in families until 
the latter part of October, when, after uniting the families into 
small flocks, they move off to some lower latitude (Brazil?) to 
escape our inclement winters. 

The nests have been found quite remote from water of any 
kind on the dry prairie south of the Minnesota river, and in 
the bottom of that river. 

It is constituted of grass and weeds, in a tussock of weeds, 
or grass in some cases, and in others in a hollow in the ground 
into which they have gathered and arranged very little mate- 
rial of any kind. They have four pear-shaped, pale-olive eggs 
marked with blotches of various shades of brown, more conflu- 
ent about the larger end. They are very noisy birds when dis- 
turbed during the breeding season, uttering vehemently, as near 
as has yet been expressed, the syllables pil-ivilet, it-pil-wilet, in 
shrill cries which arouse all the water fowls in the section in- 
stantly. 

Dr. Hvoslef met with these birds on the 26th of April in his 
section, Mr. Lewis at Big Stone at the same date, and in June 
in Douglas county, while I myself found them relatively com- 
mon in Becker and Crow Wing counties in the last week in 
May (1887). 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

The largest American species of its genus; bill longer than 
the head, straight, rather thick and strong; groove in the up- 
per mandible extending about half its length, in the lower 
mandible nearly obsolete; wings long; legs long, strong; toes 
moderate, united at base by membrane, the largest of which 
unites the outer and middle toe; hind toe small; tail short; en- 
tire upper parts dark ash color without spots; the shafts of the 
feathers brownish black; rump and upper tail coverts white; 
under parts white, tinged with ashy on the neck and sides; ax- 
illaries and under wing coverts brownish-black; primary quills 
white at base, tipped with brownish-black; secondaries white, 
spotted with brownish-black; tail ashy white, the two middle 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 141 

feathers strongly tinged with ashy; others spotted with dark 
ashy-brown; bill dark bluish-brown, lighter at the base; legs 
light blue; iris brown. 

Length, 15; wing, 8.25; tail, 3.25; bill, 2.50; tarsus, 2.50. 

Habitat, Temperate North America. 



BARTRAMIA LONGICAUDA (Bechstein). (261.) 
BARTRAMIAN SANDPIPER. 

Sub-common and resident. Arrives the first week in April in 
small parties when they are found on the open pastures on dry 
knolls, after the manner of the plovers. Its habits in these 
respects confound it with the other species mentioned, hence 
the popular name of Upland Plover. Sometimes for a short 
time following their arrival they seem quite common, but by 
the 10th of May they are manifestly diminishing in numbers, 
and by the 25th only those which ajre to breed here are left, the 
others having mostly passed on further north, and those re- 
maining having paired, enter upon the structure of their nests 
and depositing their eggs, which are three to four in number, 
and vary exceedingly in the shades of color from creamy drab 
to pure buif, between which are all gradations of those two 
colors They are spotted with different degrees of brown and 
almost obsolete lilac. Few of the Wading Birds have so wide 
a range of choice of location for their nest. One many years 
since was in a closely grazed pasture near a rice marsh in the 
northwestern part of the city in which I am writing, and was 
a mere excuse for a structure of the kind, consisting of a pinch 
of grass blades loosely strung around a slight depression in 
the ground and partially under a tuft of rank grass where the 
offal of the preceding year had made the cattle refuse to crop 
it. Another discovered a few years later, with an incomplete 
complement of eggs, was on the sandy, high plains west of 
Fort Snelling, and had no covert, and still less grass distribu- 
ted around the depression in the ground. 

Competent observers assure me that they more commonly 
build close to the hills of corn in the cornfields, where the in- 
cidental protection leaves them less apparent motive to seek 
concealment, yet the nest is much more bulky with grass and 
weeds. Their food, as indicated by the contents of their crops 
at this time in the year, consists chiefly of crickets, grasshop- 
pers, small beetles and seeds of different kinds. These kinds 
of food are abundant at that time of the year. 



142 NOTES ON THE 

In August the families begin to unite in flocks, and some 
small ones are seen as late as the 1st of November, but as a 
rule they have all disappeared by the 15th to the 20th of 
October. 

Wherever in the State that I have made collections, or only 
observations, I have almost uniformly obtained facts enough to 
satisfy me of their presence at least in one migration. Mr. 
Washburn notes them as common in August in Otter Tail 
county, as had Mr. Lewis still later in previous years. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill about as long as head, rather wide and flattened at the 
base, curved at the tip; nostrils with a large membrane, nasal 
groove long; wing long; tail long for this group; legs moderate, 
or rather long; lower half of the tibia naked; toes moderate, 
the outer and middle united by a membrane, inner and middle 
free to the base, hind toe small; general color of the upper 
parts brownish -black with* a greenish lustre, and with the 
feathers edged with ashy-white and yellowish, the latter 
especially on the wing coverts; lower part of back, rump and 
upper tail coverts brownish-black; lateral coverts of the tail 
yellowish-white with arrow-heads and irregular spots of black; 
wide stripe over the eye, and entire under parts very pale yel- 
lowish-white, nearly pure white on the abdomen; neck before 
wnth numerous longitudinal lines of brownish-black; breast and 
sides with waved and pointed transverse narrow bands of same; 
axillary feathers and under wing coverts pure white with num- 
erous nearly regular transverse narrow bands of black; quills 
brownish-black with numerous transverse bands of white on 
their inner webs very conspicuous on the under surface of the 
wing; shaft of first primary white; middle feathers of tail same 
greenish-brown as the back with irregular and imperfect trans- 
verse bands of black; outer feathers pale reddish yellow, 
edged and tipped with white, and with several irregular trans- 
verse bands and a large subterminal arrowhead of black; bill 
greenish yellow, with the under mandible clearer yellow 
towards its base, tip brownish-black; legs light yellow; toes 
darker; iris hazel. 

Length, 12; wing, 6.50; tail, 3.50. 

Habitat, eastern North America. 



TRYNGITES SUBRTTFICOLLIS (Vieillot). (262.) 
BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER. 

Many times in my prolonged observations of the Sandpipers 
had I thought that I had secured this species only to find 
myself disappointed, when some of them were brought in for 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 143 

me. which had been secured by a trio of young naturalists* 
residing- in my city This was in August, 1877, since which 
time I have secured them in June, July and August, in several 
years, settling the question of their local nidification. They 
come to us early in April, in numbers enough to show that 
many must go further north to breed. I have not been able to 
obtain any information as to their distribution within our 
limits which extend further north than Grant county, how- 
ever I think they probably breed in the northern counties to 
some extent. They are an extremely active species when on 
the wing, and essentially ploverine in all respects, seeking 
sandy barren prairies, where they live upon grasshoppers, 
crickets and insects generally, and ants and their eggs speci- 
ally. I have found them repasting upon minute molluscs on 
the sandy shores of small and shallow ponds, in the warmest 
part of the day, when they were apparently little more sus- 
picious than the Solitary Sandpipers are notably. The flight 
is in a rather compact form, dipping and rising alternately, 
and with a disposition to return again to the neighborhood of 
their former feeding places. 

The latest record of their presence here in the autumn 
which I find in my notes is October 23d. I have not seen 
their nest or eggs yet. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill about the length of the head, straight, comjyessed, nar- 
row at the point; nasal groove long, wings very long; first quill 
longest; tertiaries rather shorter; tail moderate, or longer than 
usual in this group; legs rather long; lower third of tibia bare; 
toes free at base, flattened underneath and slightly margined; 
hind toe small; upper parts pale and dull ashy-brown, with a 
yellowish tinge; every feather with a large central lanceolate, 
crescent shaped, or oblong spot of black, frequently with a 
glossy- green tinge, especially on the back and shorter ter- 
tiaries; under parts light yellowish red, or pale-fawn color; 
many feathers tipped with white, and paler on the flanks and 
abdomen, on the breast with partially concealed small spots of 
black; axillary feathers white; quills with their outer webs 
light- brown, inner webs ashy white, marbled with black, and 
narrowly tipped with white; middle tail feathers brownish- 
black; outer feathers lighter, with transverse waved lines of 
black, tipped with white; bill black; legs greenish-yellow; 
iris hazel. 

Length, 7.50 to 8; wing, 5,50; tail, 3; bill, from gape 1; tarsus, 
1.25. 

Habitat, North America. 

*T. S Roberts. C. L. Herrick, R. S. Williams. 



144 NOTES ON THE 

ACTITIS MACULARI4 (L.). (263.) 
SPOTTED SANDPIPER. 

Kennicott found these birds at the Lake of the Woods on 
the 31st of May, but says nothing of their breeding there, 
nevertheless, from an acquaintance with their habits over the 
rest of the State generally, I have no doubt that they were. They 
reach the southern parts about the second week in April, and in 
exceptionally early springs, in the last days of March, (1864, )in 
large numbers, and after distributing themselves universally 
over the country, so that scarcely a stream of water of any magni- 
tude from the outlet of a perennial spring in the wilderness, 
to the Mississippi river, or lake of any size down to a pond or 
a pool, can be found which has not its representation of the 
species. About the 25th of April they begin nesting in all 
sorts of places, from the margins of the water to the depth of 
the brushlands and forests, wherever they can scratch a hollow in 
the ground, not already provided, and when they have sparingly 
lined the depression with grass, moss, or straws of almost any 
available, flexible material, they deposit in them four yellow- 
ish-buff colored eggs, blotched and spotted with "umber and 
sienna" which often becomes confluent on the larger end. 

Their nests are frequently found in May and June. Several 
have been discovered in the wheat-fields, and corn-fields near 
the small lakes south of Minneapolis, and a ramble of a couple 
of hours in Grant county is rewarded with securing more or 
less almost uniformly. 

Dr. Hvoslef obtained them at Lanesboro on the 30th of May, 
and I have private records as late as July 3d, so there can be 
little doubt that they bring out two broods, or vary the time of 
incubation almost unprecedentedly. 

Early in August the families begin to be seen occasionally, 
and later flocks, which gradually increase in size till about 
their time for the fall migration, when they become larger, and 
are almost constantly on the wing until they are all gone, 
which is sometimes from October 25th to November 10th. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Small; bill rather longer than head; straight, slender; loag 
grooves in both mandibles; wing pointed, rather long; tail 
medium, rounded; legs rather long; lower third of tibia naked; 
toes long, margined, flattened underneath; outer connected to 
the middle toe by a large membrane; inner very slightly con- 
nected to the middle toe; upper parts brownish olive-green, 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 145 

■ with a somewhat metallic or bronzed lustre, and with numerous 
longitudinal lines, and sagittate, lanceolate, and irregular spots 
of brownish-black, having the same lustre; line over the eye 
and entire under parts, white, with numerous circular and oval 
spots of brownish black, smaller on the throat, largest on the 
abdomen; quills brown, with a green lustre; primaries slightly- 
tipped with white and having a white spot on their inner edges; 
secondaries white at the base and tipped with white; middle 
feathers of the tail same green as the other upper parts; outer 
tipped with white, and with irregular bars of brownish-black; 
bill yellowish-green, tipped with brown; feet reddish-yellow; 
iris hazel. 

Length, 7.50 to 8; wing, 4.50; tail, 2; bill, 1; tarsus, 1. 

Habitat, North and South America. 

NUMENIUS LONGIROSTRIS (Wilson). (264.) 
LONG-BILLED CURLEW. 

This widely distributed species is nowhere better represented 
than in Minnesota,* or strictly speaking, in portions of it. 
They reach this latitude variously from the 20th of March to 
the first of May, usually about the 10th of April, and about the 
middle of May they mostly move beyond the Big Woods (re- 
ferred to previously), whence to the British possessions they 
breed in different localities. 

The nests, which I have not personally seen, are said to be 
in general scolopacine in character, never in communities, and 
located near, but not on wet lands or marshes as a rule. Not 
far from the 25th of May, they lay four eggs, "clay colored, 
with more or less olivaceous in some instauces, and in others 
decidedly buffy shade. The spotting is generally pretty uni- 
formly distributed and of small pattern, though in many cases 
there is larger blotching and even massing about the great end. 
The color of the markings is sepia or umber, of different shades 
in the buffy- tinged specimens, rather tending to chocolate. The 
shell markings are commonly numerous and evident." (Coues.) 
Early in August, the young have become strong enough for 
flight, and small flocks of them begin to be seen in the sections 
where the breeding has taken place. They gradually extend 
their range southward with the advance of the season, until by 
the first or second week in September, they have reached the 
whole southern portions of the states, while continued acces- 

* The above was true when written, hut the Curlews of this species, once so common, 
have become less so within the la?t decade, and now, having been driven back from 
both coasts by civilization, are found in great numbers far inland on the dry plains, 
where they are killed by scores and hundreds. 



146 NOTES ON THE 

sions from more northern regions have more than filled their 
former places. By the middle of October, the northern, cen- 
tral portions, or perhaps I should say, the western central, 
longitudinal, have very large numbers of these birds, occupy- 
ing the high or more sandy tracts. These afford them an 
abundance of their favorite food, the grasshoppers, to which 
may be added insects of several other species, like crickets and 
beetles, with land snails, and some species of berries. 

When moving from one section to another, and when in their 
migrations they fly very high, and generally in a V-shaped 
flock, with the point of the angle foremost, after the manner of 
the geese, but not as persistently. 

All leave the State by the lOth of October, a part of them a 
little earlier oftentimes. Accounted a marsh bird along the 
Atlantic coast, I find them quite as frequently on the dry prai- 
ries, far removed from any considerable marshes or ponds. 
They frequent plowed fields, and dry, extensive flats which 
have previously been overflowed, and have become dry again. 
This suggests earth worms, and certain forms of terrestrial 
mollusca, as preferred food. Their nests have been found in 
many sections, but uniformly on dry prairies so far as I have 
known. Like most others of the family, the structure is very 
primitive, consisting of a small quantity of grass, circularly 
disposed in a hollow made by the bird in the ground, under the 
lea of a few rank weeds, or a bunch of coarse grass. The 
eggs are four in number, rather of a drab, or clay color. I 
think they might sometimes be called buff-colored, when hav- 
ing a shade of olivaceous. They are uniformly spotted with 
umber of several shades, more pronounced about the larger 
end. 

In form they are decidedly gallinaceous, differing in this 
markedly from most Scolopacine species. They rear but a 
single brood, the nest for which is built from the 20th to the 
30th of May. In their fall migrations most of them depart be- 
fore the 25th of October, yet I have met with a few as late as 
the 10th of November. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill very long, much curved; upper mandible longer, some- 
what knobbed at the tip; wing rather long; legs moderate; toes 
united at the base; entire upper parts paler rufous tinged with 
ashy; each feather with transverse and confluent bands of 
brownish-black, most numerous and predominating on the back 
and scapulars; secondary quills, under wing coverts and axil- 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 147 

laries bright rufous; primaries with their outer webs brownish- 
black; inner webs rufous with transverse bands of black; under 
parts pale rufous, with longitudinal lines on the neck and 
sides; tail rufous, tinged with ashy transversely barred with 
brownish-black; bill brownish black; base of under mandible 
reddish-yellow; legs bluish-brown; specimens vary to sjme 
extent in the shade of the rufous color of the plumage, and 
very much in the length of the bill, the rufous probably being 
more distinct in the young; iris hazel. 

Length, 25; wing, 10 to 11; tail, 4; bill, 5 to 8; tarsus, 2.25. 

Habitat, Temperate North America. 

Mr. Washburn in his report of the birds of the Red river 
valley, covering his observations made between July 28th and 
September 12th, 1885, says of this species: "I have been much 
disappointed in not finding more of these birds. Only a few 
individuals observed. Was informed by sportsmen in Ada that 
they were not present this season in regions where they were 
extremely abundant last year. They are found, too, farther 
east near 'The Ridge' in larger numbers than close to the Red 
river." 

NUMENIUS HUDSONICUS Latham. (265.) 
HUDSONIAN CURLEW. 

I formerly met with this species more frequently than of late 
years, and why so I cannot explain to my own satisfaction. 
They were always associated with the Long-bills, except upon 
one occasion, when I found a flock of eight by themselves in 
spring migration, it being then early in April. 

Only a single bird was obtained, but a number found their 
way into the taxidermist's collections. And from time to time 
I have found specimens of this species in those places. They 
are more f requentlyobtained in the autumnal than in the vernal 
migrations, and except as above, invariably mingle with the 
other species. I know nothing of their habits beyond the fact 
of their presence in migration in very limited numbers. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill about twice the length of the head; wings long; tail 
short; legs moderate; head above brownish-black, with a 
longitudinal band; other upper parts brownish-black, tinged 
with ashy, spotted with dull yellowish- white, and lighter on 
the rump; under parts dull yellowish- white, with longitudinal 
narrow stripes of blackish-brown on the necK and breast; under 
wing coverts and axillaries pale ashy-rufous, transversely 
barred with black; quills brownish-black, with transverse bars 
of pale rufous on the inner webs; tail brownish- black, with 
transverse bars of pale ashy-brown; bill brownish-black, base 



148 NOTES ON THE 

of flower mandible reddish-yellow; legs greenish brown; speci- 
mens vary in the shade of the lighter colors of the plumage, 
and in the length of the bill; iris brown. 
C] Length, 18; wing, 9; tail, 4; bill, 3 to 4; tarsus, 2.25. 
Habitat, North and South America. 

NUMENIUS BOREALIS (Forster). (266.) 
ESKIMO CURLEW. 

I find specimens of this species of Curlew occasionally in the 
hands of the taxidermists, and have had them sent to me from 
the Red river once, but have never seen them alive. I was 
ready to doubt their specific identity almost, until I read 
Coues' account of his observations of them in the Missouri 
region, in his Birds of the Northwest, pp. 510-512. 

If they are so abundant along the Missouri, it seems most 
probable that flocks may not altogether infrequently find their 
way along the Mississippi, and up the St. Peters or Minnesota 
rivers, and be regarded as rather small representatives of the 
"Short Bills" by the Hunters, who have more interest in them 
as game than specimens for the cabinets of birdologists, 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill rather longer than the head, slender; wings long; tail 
short; legs moderate; entire upper parts brownish-black, spot- 
ted with dull yellowish rufous; quills brownish-black, uniform 
on both webs, without bars on either; under wing coverts and 
axillaries light-rufous, with transverse stripes of brownish- 
black; under parts dull-white; tinged with rufous, with longi- 
tudinal narrow stripes of brownish-black on the neck and 
breast, and transverse stripes of the same on the sides and 
under tail coverts; tail ashy-brown, with transverse bands of 
brownish-black; bill brownish -black; base of under mandible 
yellow; legs greenish-brown; iris dark-brown. 

Length, 13.50; wing, 8.25; tail, 3; bill, 2.25 to 2.50; tarsus, 1.75. 

Habitat, eastern North America. 

Family CHABADBIID^. 

CHARADRIUS SQUATAROLA (L.). (270). 

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER. 

I know of no other species of Plover which is a more reg- 
ular, and numerically uniform migrant in both spring and 
autumn in the locality from which I write. They are only 
moderately represented, arriving about the last of April in 
flocks of ten to twenty, but do not seem to remain but three or 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 149 

four days before they disappear, and I supposed for many 
years that they all passed beyond the State line, but some 
time in the summer of 1875, a clutch of four eggs were sent me 
with the female, which proved to be a Black-bellied Plover. 
It was obtained in the vicinity of upper Lake Minne tonka, in 
my own county. Since then several nests have been reported 
by persons competent to determine them, and I accept the 
conclusion that this species breed to a limited extent in some 
portions of the State. The nest differs in no particular from 
those of the other species of the family. 

A natural depression in the ground, of about the size desired, 
is selected, or else one is scratched out by the female, and lined 
with a few leaves, blades of grass, or moss, in which are de- 
posited the orthodox four eggs. These are a creamy-buff color 
with spots and confluent blotches of umber and obscure touches 
of lilac, chiefly about the larger end. They reappear in mod- 
erate flocks about the middle of September and are frequently 
seen until the second week in October. They are offered in 
the market in autumn, and are regarded good eating. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill and legs strong; wings long; a very small rudimentary 
hind toe; around the base of the bill to the eyes, neck before 
and under parts of body, black; upper white, nearly pure and 
unspotted on the forehead, sides of the neck and rump tinged 
with ashy, and having irregular transverse bars of brownish- 
black on the back, scapulars and wing coverts; the brownish- 
black frequently predominating on those parts, and the rump 
also frequently with transverse bars of the same. Lower 
part of the abdomen, tibia, and under tail coverts white. 
Quills brownish-black, lighter on their inner webs, with a 
middle portion of their shafts white, and a narrow longitudinal 
stripe of white frequently on the shorter primaries and secon- 
daries. Tail white, with transverse imperfect narrow bands 
of black. Bill and legs black, and black color of the under 
parts generally with a bronzed or coppery lustre, and present- 
ing a scarelike appearance; the brownish-black of the upper 
parts with a greenish lustre. 

Length, 11.50; wing, 7.50; tail, 3. 

Habitat, nearly cosmopolitan. 

CHARADRIUS DOMINICUS Muller. (272.) 
AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER. 

Avery abundant migrant, but a very uncertain one, sometimes 
reaching us in spring in considerable flocks, and at other seasons 
giving us the complete "go-by." They reach the State in the 



150 NOTES ON THE 

last week of April, and are all gone beyond our borders by the 
5th of May. Not later than the last week of August they 
return in force, as a general thing, when they remain till 
October 25th to November 1st, gradually diminishing in num- 
bers, however, after about the 25th of September. Indeed, 
there is not more than ten days good shooting, before the 
diminution of their numbers is visible. 

As in the spring migration, they often elude any given local- 
ity in the fall, evidently being capricious as to the special line 
taken. Dr. Hvoslef reports them abundant during October, 
1884, in Fillmore county. And so from most sections of the 
entire field of my inquiries. 

In their flights over the plowed fields, where they mostly 
feed in autumn, they are a beautiful composite on wings, con- 
stantly changing hues of colors as they alternately exhibit the 
upper and the under parts in the rays of an October sun. 
Grasshoppers are their ordinary diet, but when they resort to 
the plowed fields it must be for larvae and other insects, as the 
former are chiefly obtained on the grass lands. 

We seldom see them when they are not mixed with other 
species to some extent at least. I know very little of their 
habits. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill rather short; legs moderate; wings long; hind toe want- 
ing; tarsus covered before and behind with small, circular or 
hexagonal scales, upper parts brownish-black, with numerous 
small, circular and irregular spots of golden yellow, most 
numerous on the back and rump, and on the upper tail coverts, 
assuming the form of transverse bands generally; also with 
some spots of ashy- white; entire under parts black, with a 
brownish or bronzed lustre; under tail coverts mixed or barred 
with white; forehead, border of the back of the neck, under 
tail coverts and tibia white; axillary feathers cinereous; quills 
dark brown; middle portion of the shafts white, frequently 
extending slightly to the webs, and forming longitudinal stripes 
on the shorter quills; tail dark brown with numerous irregular 
bands of ashy -white, and frequently tinged with golden yellow; 
bill black; legs dark bluifeh-brown. 

Length, 9.50; wing, 7; tail, 2.50. 

Habitat, Arctic America. 

My correspondents all report it occurring in the different 
sections of the State much as above given. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 151 

J:GIALITIS VOCIFERA(L.). (273.) 

KILLDEER. 

A common summer resident, reaching the State generally 
amongst the earliest migrants of its family, if not the earliest 
itself. In 1869 they came on the 18th of March, and in 1884, 
on the 25th of that month, between which days in March are 
nine-tenths of their arrival records for two decades. 

At these times they are in parties of 5 to 7 or 8 individuals, 
' ' roaming about high in air, tracing the shore of the river, or 
running amidst the watery fiats and meadows. As spring 
advances, they resort to the newly plowed fields, or level 
plains bare of grass, interspersed with shallow pools; or dry 
sandy fields. In some such situation they generally choose to 
breed, about the beginning of May. The nest is usually 
slight, a mere hollow, with such materials drawn in around it 
as happen to be near; such as bits of sticks, straws, pebbles 
or earth. * * * jj^ some cases there are no vestiges of a 
nest. The eggs are usually four, of a bright rich cream, or 
yellowish clay color, thickly marked with blotches of black. 

* * * * Nothing can exceed the alarm and anxiety of 
these birds during the breeding season. Their cries of 
kill-deer, kill-deer, as they winnow the air over head, drive, and 
course around you, or run along the ground counterfeiting 
lameness, are shrill and incessant." (Wilson). No locality I 
have visited in the State, where the conditions favoring their 
habits exist, has failed to have a fair representation of these 
familiar birds from March till late in October, and sometimes, 
the tenth of November. In the early part of their residence, 
they are seen in the small flocks mentioned, but after a short 
time in pairs only until in July, when the brood full grown, 
with the parents, constitute small flocks again, in which they 
are mostly seen until their departure for the winter. Dr. 
Hvoslef reports them common for the species in the southern 
part of the State, and Mr. Washburn found them the same in 
the western, while it has been mine to find them fully up to 
their observations in the central and northern to Duluth. 
When thoroughly fattened they are fairly good eating in the 
autumn. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Wings long reaching to the end of the tail, which is also 
rather long; head above and upper parts of body light- brown 
with a greenish tinge; rump and upper tail coverts rufous, 

-11 z 



152 NOTES ON THE 

lighter on Ihe latter; front, and line over and under the eye 
white; another band of black in front above the white band; 
stripe from the base of the bill towards the occiput brownish- 
black; ring encircling the neck, and a wide band on the breast 
black; throat white, which color extends upwards around the 
neck; other under parts white; quills brownish-black with 
about half their inner webs white, shorter primaries with a 
large spot of white on their outer webs, secondaries widely 
tipped or edged with white; tail feather pale rufous at base; 
the four middle feathers light olive-brown tipped with white 
and with a sub terminal band of black; lateral feathers widely 
tipped with white; entire upper plumage frequently edged 
and tipped with rufous. 

Length, 9.50; wing, 6.50; tail, 3.50. 

Habitat, temperate North America. 

J:GIALIT1S SEMIPALMATA Bonaparte. (274.) 
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER. 

The lateness of the season when this Plover enters Minne- 
sota, early suggested that it must breed here, but no nests 
were found for many years. Flocks of a dozen or less are 
quite uniformly met with in the last week in April along the 
streams, and about the ponds and lakes, more after the man- 
ner of the Snipes than the Plovers, which aifect the dry open 
plains. After remaining where they are frequently seen for 
about ten days, they disappear as abruptly as do the Swallows 
in autumn, and are seldom seen again till August 20th to the 
25th after which they remain until the early part of October 
before taking final leave of us for the more genial climes, said 
to be Brazil and Peru and South America. At this season 
they gather into quite large flocks before retiring, which we 
are told become much larger as they gradually work their 
way southward. The nest is little more than a slight hollow, 
excavated in the sand by the bird, near the shores of ponds, 
and contains the stereotyped number, four eggs of a dull yel- 
lowish color, spotted and blotched all over with varying 
shades of darkish-brown. They are almost typically pyri- 
form in shape. One nest was discovered near St. Paul in 1879, 
by Mr. Gober, who sent the eggs away to some eastern o9l- 
ogist as a capital trophy, but not until I had an opportuity to 
examine them, and see the female, obtained at the same time. 
The other nest was obtained by a resident of Minneapolis, and 
not far from the city, and still more recently with which the 
bird was secured also. I hear of one, also found quite as near 
the city, by a young man who, for some reason best known to 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 153 

himself, is disinclined to let his oological acquisition lend its 
rush light to the State Natural History Survey. Dr. Hvoslef 
writes me that he obtained the species in Lanesboro on the 
first and fourth of August, 1884. Mr. Lewis did not meet 
with the nests in Becker county, but found the birds occasion- 
ally in July and August. I have seen flocks still flying about 
in one year as late at the 20th of October, but this was excep- 
tional. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Small, wings long; toes connected at base, especially the 
outer to the middle toe; front, throat, ring around the neck, 
and entire upper parts, white; a band of deep black across the 
breast, extending around the back of the neck below the 
white ring; band from the base of the bill, under the eye, 
and wide frontal band above the white band, black; upper 
parts light ashy-brown, with a tinge of olive; quills brownish- 
black, with their shafts white in the middle protion, and occa- 
sionally a lanceolate white spot along the shafts of the shorter 
primaries; shorter tertiaries edged with white; lesser coverts 
tipped with white; middle feathers of the tail ashy olive- 
brown, with a wide subterminal band of brownish-black, and 
narrowly tipped with white; the two outer tail feathers white, 
others intermediate like the middle, but widely tipped with 
white; bill orange-yellow, tipped with black; legs yellow. 'CZ^j 

Length, 7; wing, 4.75; tail, 2.25. 

Habitat, Arctic and Subarctic America. 



Family APHEIZID^F]. 

ARENARIA INTERPRES (L ) (283.) 
TURNSTONE. 

I can only record this species as extremely rare, as I have 
but a few instances of its observation amongst my notes for 
almost thirty years. 

The earliest was in the fall of 1867, when I found it in a 
collection of mounted birds, the individual having been ob- 
tained recently in a flock of Sandpipers, on the Mississippi 
river just below St. Paul. 

I saw no more until 1874, which I obtained from another 
flock of Sandpipers near Minneapolis, since which one or two 
have come into our market in strings of scolopacine birds, and 
always in autumn. 



154 NOTES ON THE 

It may be accounted rare, but not a straggler, for I am satis 
fied now that it remains within the vicinity of where I have 
met with it, as it was late in July in two instances. Their 
habit of prodding under the stones along the beach of the 
lake near which my summer cottage is located, interested me 
exceedingly. The crop was abundantly stored with larvae and 
insects that abound there. I think ^hat they remain about as 
late in the autumn as do the average of the Sandpipers, before 
retiring for the winter. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper parts variegated with black, dark rufous, and white; 
head and neck above white, with numerous spots and stripes 
of brownish-black on the crown and occiput; space in front of 
eye white, surrounded with black; throat white on each side 
of which is a stripe of black running from the base of the 
bill downwards and joining a large space of black on the 
neck before the breast; abdomen, under wing coverts, under 
tail coverts, back and rump, white; quills brownish-black, 
with white shafts; tail white at base, with its terminal half 
brownish-black, tipped with white; greater wing coverts 
widely tipped with white, forming a conspicuous oblique bar 
across the wing; bill black; legs orange;" in winter the black 
of the upper parts is more apparent; the rufous of less ex 
tent, and of lighter shade; iris hazel. 

Length, 9; wing, 6; tail, 2.50. 

Habitat, nearly cosmopolitan. 



Older GALLING. 



Family TETRAOXID^E. 

COLINUS yiRGINIANUS (L.). (289.) 

BOB-WHITE. 

This species whose notes from the corn field or the fence 
down by the woods, are a part of the legacies of childhood 
memories, is following up the progress of agriculture steadily, 
but is nowhere yet abundant. After a series of mild winters 
it has several times become greatly increased in numbers, to be 
again decimated by an exceptionally vigorous one. 

However, the extension of agriculture throughout the State 
generally, has increased the measure of their protection so 
much, b}" affording a more reliable supply of food, and com- 
fortable covert, that they give promise of a permanent aug- 
mentation of their numbers. 

For quite a number of years now, the notes of Bob-white 
have grown familiar in the region where I reside, and the sight 
of his form along the roadways through the less frequented 
brushlands, as well as the denser woodlands, is by no means an 
uncommon event during the summer and autumn. Their dis- 
tribution is yet restricted to the more favorable localities, es- 
pecially in the advanced sections of occupation. But each year is 
contributing to make the special distribution less defined in 
proportion to the increase of the agricultural appropriation of 
the lands, as well as the prohibition of brushland fires. The 
earliest record that I have of its nesting in the section where I 
reside, is May 5th, and I think that not exceptionally early. 
My correspondents in the lower counties give it a week earlier 
and the greater abundance of the species there gives them 
ample opportunities to know in this matter. Mr. J. C. Baillie 
who has given their whole breeding habits great attention for 
many years, has contributed more than any other to my own 



156 NOTES ON THE 

observations of this species. The nest varies considerably in 
the amount, as well as the kind of material of which it is com- 
posed. In the vicinity of meadows where grass is abundant^ 
it is constructed entirely of that material, necessitating con- 
siderable bulk, but is nevertheless very perfectly concealed in 
a thick tuft with the entrance at one side, somewhat after the 
manner of the Oven Bird. When in the forest, the preference 
is given to a little hollow under an old decayed log, where the 
nest is constructed of leaves principally, or entirely. 

In these cases, it has no covering, but when the eggs are 
in process of being laid, the female covers them com- 
pletely with leaves to conceal them in her absence. If those 
ingeniously distributed leaves are disturbed by man or 
animal before she returns, she will instantly dis- 
cover the intrusion, and abandon her nest even though 
no eggs have been broken or removed. Whether from 
a perception of smell or the difference in the placing of 
the leaves by the intruder I was never able to tell until upon 
finding one a few years since, I removed each leaf carefully 
with a pocket forceps, and after making all desired observa- 
tions of the eggs, I replaced the leaves one by one as nearly 
as I found them as possible, and repeated the process every 
day or two, until the clutch was completed, without arous- 
ing the maternal suspicions in the least. This result satisfied 
me that she could smell an intrusion made without the use of 
the forceps. Winds might disarrange the leaves during her 
absence as much as I would, but leave no scent upon them or 
upon the eggs. The usual number is from 14 to 16. or even 
18, but upon removing the seventh each time after it was 
deposited, in one instance, a gentleman of extensive observa- 
tion, who has contributed much valuable information upon the 
habits of different birds, succeeded in obtaining 32 succes- 
sively before the little dispenser had suspected her mathema- 
tics. Their appearance is too familiar to require mention. 
Although with its order a seed eater, that is not all. 

The quail is another of the many maligned species of birds 
that is entitled to the protection of the State as a friend to 
agriculture. Although they may appropriate occasionally 
some of the late planted berries of grain in spring they pay 
soundly for it in the destruction of insects that are injurious 
to grain, fruit and vegetables later. Nearly the entire food of 
the breeding birds consists of larva and insects, and that of the 
numerous brood exclusively so, for the other sources of sup- 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 157 

ply are not yet developed. Of course during the late autumn, 
winter and early spring, they depend upon seeds, grain and 
buds, out only the unavoidable waste of the farm and garden. 
During these seasons, if possible, they should have the great- 
est measure of legal protection against hunters and trappers, 
for then must they become most available to them, being 
driven by the necessities of food to the vicinity of outhouses, 
barns, straw-stacks and dwellings. Their habits at the dif- 
ferent seasons of the year afford one of the most interesting 
studies of birdlife. Protect them and they rapidly become 
tame and confiding. 

In my early boyhood in western New York, I was led to 
habits of observation of birds in winter, by this species more 
than any other. Following the example of older observers, 
whose interest was not as disingenuous as mine, I often 
caught several of them at a time in a lath-trap of the figure 
four kind, and in a few hours had them sufficiently domesticated 
to eat freely of corn and wheat dropped down to them through 
the slats, and within a week, upon setting them free, instead of 
flying away never to return they were afterwards to be seen 
daily feeding amongst the hens and the cattle in the barnyard. 
I am happy to say that I never permitted my love for ' 'quail 
on toast" to appropriate one these who had thus confided in me. 

It seems to be superfluous to give any specific description 
of this bird, yet for those whose opportunities have been less 
favorable, from having long resided so far north where the 
circumstances have been unfortunate for their multiplication, 
I will say that the Quail measures about 10 inches in length; 
the wing, 4.70; and tail 2.85. Their color is a bright reddish- 
brown, streaked frequently with black, shading into gray. 
The under parts are white with zigzag lines of black crosswise. 
The throat of the male is much whiter than that of the female. 
It is found in the middle and western states, including Canada 
West and Minnesota to the Rocky Mountains. 

I have learned from Rev. Mr. Gear, who was an army chap- 
lain, stationed at several fortifications from time to time in the 
earliest history of Minnesota, that there were no Quails here 
until imported and set at liberty by the sportsmen amongst 
the army officials on different occasions, but the want of food 
and covert in severe winters prevented their material increase 
in numbers until the advent of general farming. 

Only one or two flocks have yet been seen as far north as 
Red Lake Falls and at a few points in the latitude of Otter Tail. 



158 NOTES ON THE 

DENDRAGAPUS CANADENSIS (L). (298.) 

CANADA GROUSE. 

The lumbermen of the forests east and north of Brainerd, 
for years before I ever obtained one, repeatedly told of a 
"patridge" in logging sections that was different from those 
we ordinarily see. 

By a good fortune, two Canada Grouse were sent to my 
taxidermist, Mr. Wm. Howling, to be mounted many years ago, 
one of each sex, which I had ample opportunity to examine. 
Since then many more have reached me through the same 
channel, and I have myself procured several. They are per- 
manent residents of the northern half of the State, scattering 
individuals reaching a south line of its habitat about sixty 
miles northeast of Minneapolis. It is said to be a very dull, 
stupid Grouse, easily obtained by almost any ignoble means 
which lumbermen and Indian boys may adopt, and conse 
quently subject to exceptional destruction where desired for 
food. The flesh is not as desirable as the Ruffed or Pinnated 
Grouse, yet the Indians of the section where it has most 
abounded have made them relatively quite scarce of late years. 
But as a whole, it is a common species in the sections named, 
and not at all confined to the spruce swamps as we have been 
informed hitherto. Its nest, consisting of moss and leaves, is 
on the ground, with less effort at concealment than the other 
members of the family manifested in the evergreen swamps of 
the regions they inhabit, and are rather easily found. The 
eggs, said to be about the same in number as those of the 
Ruffed Grouse, are a dirty-cream color, blotched considerably 
with dark-brown. Their note is described as a suppressed 
cluck. Langille says of this species: "It is the aristocrat of 
the family, stepping daintily on its moss-covered and deeply- 
shaded apartments, feeding in the summer on such berries as 
may be found in the forest, and in winter being content with 
even the leaves of the evergreens."* 

In his excellent report to me of the birds of Otter Tail, 
Aitkin and Mille Lacs counties, Mr. Washburn says of this 
grouse: ' 'This bird was reported to me as common north of the 
centre of the State, and in the northeastern part. In Otter 
Tail county, there being no pine or spruce, I did not expect to 
find it, but was much disappointed in not meeting with it at 



*Birds in their Haunts, p. 409. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 159 

Mille Lacs, where there is more or less spruce. In a conversa- 
tion with Mr. E. O. Garrison, of this latter place, he said that 
from 1865 to 1868, the Spruce Partridge was quite common 
about the lake, frequenting the spruce groves. He often met 
with covies of six or more in his walks, and found them nest- 
ing on mossy hummocks among the spruce. Since then, how- 
ever, they seem to have been exterminated in that locality. 
They are such a stupid bird, so very tame that they form an 
easy mark for the arrow of the young Indian boy. They are 
often captured alive by a noose fastened to a short pole. " 

It is represented to be common north of Mille Lacs, and gen- 
erally throughout the evergreen sections of northern Minne- 
sota. Its habits exempt it from all suspicions of enmity to 
agriculture in its widest sense. In confinement it fattens 
quickly upon food that makes its flesh acceptable even to the 
daintiest epicures 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail sixteen feathers; feathers above banded distinctly with 
plumbeous; beneath uniform black, with a pectoral band of 
white and white on the belly; chin and throat above black; tail 
with a broad brownish-orange terminal band. Prevailing 
color in the male, black; each feather of the head, neck, and 
upper parts generally having its surface waved with plumb- 
eous-gray in the form of two or three well defined concentric 
bars parallel to each other, one along the exterior edge of the 
feather, and the others behind it; sides of the body, scapulars, 
and outer surface of wings mottled like back, but more irregu- 
larly, and with a browner shade of gray, the feathers with 
a central white streak expanding towards the tip (on the wing 
these streaks are seen only on some of the greater coverts); no 
white above except as described; under parts mostly uniform 
black, feathers of sides of belly and breast broadly tipped with 
white, which sometimes forms a pectoral band; a white bar 
across the feathers at base of upper mandible, usually inter- 
rupted above; a white spot on the lower eyelid, and a white 
line beginning on the cheeks and running into a series of white 
spots in the feathers of the throat; lower feathers of this are 
banded terminally with whitish; feathers at base of bill, head, 
below the eyes and beneath, pure black; quills dark brown, 
without spots or bands, the outer edges only mottled with 
grayish; tail feathers similar but darker, and tipped with a 
band of orange-chestnut nearly an inch wide, obscured on the 
central feathers; under tail coverts black, broadly barred and 
tipped with white; the feathers of the legs mottled brown and 
whitish; dirty white behind the tarsi; bill black. 

Length, 16.20; wing, 6.70; tail, 5.50. 



160 NOTES ON THE 

BONASA UMBELLUS (L.). (300.) 
RUFFED GROUSE. 

Nowhere was the Ruffed Grouse more abundant than in all 
the deciduous forests of this State, until mercilessly slaught- 
ered by the pot-hunters. Almost any cluster of trees, particu- 
larly if well interspersed with brush, to say nothing of the 
extended forests of hardwoods stretching north and south and 
east and west over the middle and southern portions of Minne- 
sota, formerly contained its covey of "pheasants," as these 
birds are popularly called. But their "glorious day is passing 
away" as fast as about 300 dogs and 700 double-barrelled 
breech-loading shotguns can accomplish their annihilation. 
Improved game laws, which restrict the limits of the time in 
which their destruction may be continued, may prolong their 
represantation among the bird-fauna of the State somewhat, 
but how much, time alone can demonstrate. 

Not long after the first of May, the female seeks a retired 
spot on slightly elevated ground or on a gentle declivity, and 
under a more or less weathered log or in a bunch of thick 
brush, she scrapes out a slight hollow in the ground, into 
which she gathers a plentiful supply of leaves, which by 
treading while turning round and round she shapes into a 
loose nest, in which she drops about fourteen eggs. 

Whenever she leaves her nest she carefully brings a good 
supply of dry leaves and drops them over it in such perfect 
imitation of the work of the wind that there is not the slight- 
est indication of a nest left. For many years these birds 
bred on the rear end of my "Cosy Nook Cottage" lot, on the 
east shore of Lake Minnetonka, where I had an exceptionally 
good opportunity to study their habits in the period of incuba- 
tion. I am satisfied that the male has no part in domestic 
duties during this time but spends his time to a considerable 
extent in the society of the other coxcomb shirks of his sex 
— for at those times I have never seen one of them in the same 
section. While yet laying, if the female hears footsteps ap- 
proaching her, she steps off the nest and turns and places 
leaves over the whole, one at a time, so rapidly that before 
the spot has been reached all is perfectly concealed and she 
has a chance to get from ten to twenty yards away where she 
watches the intruder until he has clearly passed the nest, when 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 161 

she will bound up with a whirl, and putting a tree between 
herself and the invader, flies half a mile away before alight- 
ing on the limb of a tree in safety. 

Every chick will follow her the next day after the last one 
is out of the shell, and they have all become nearly full grown 
before the male resumes his place at the head of the family. 

The covey remain together until pairing time in the next 
spring when all the members are supposed to pair and set up 
for themselves. 

After the most careful observations I am entirely unable to 
decide how the sound of the drumming is produced. Like the 
question how a bird flies, the answer is yet in the shadowy 
distance if it has itself ever takea wing yet. I have heard all 
of the arguments pro and con, and know from personal obser- 
vation that not one of them will "hold water. " Yet it seems 
strange that phenomena so obvious to both the senses of 
hearing and seeing and under the observation of so many 
critical observers cannot be explained unanswerably. 

It is a very universally distributed species, though less 
abundant in those portions of the State that are occupied by 
the Canada Grouse.* Everywhere else, as above intimated, 
where the hunters have not ruthlessly "cleaned it out," (to 
use their own expressive language,) the Ruifed Grouse is 
abundant in its characteristic haunts. 

From the southern line of the state to the Lake of the Woods 
in the extreme north, I have the most reliable reports of the 
species. ** 

Its drumming has been heard in Fillmore county as early as 
the 28th of March, and in Hennepin county on the first of 
April, from which I infer that the nesting may in some cases 
be earlier than above given. Their patent diet of seeds, ber- 
ries, grapes, and insects in summer, and ' 'the leaves of ever- 
greens" in winter needs no repedtion, but I have nowhere seen 
any mention of the buds of the ironwood, (Ostrya virginica), 
which constitutes almost their exclusive food in winter here. 
Their general habits otherwise do not differ from those of the 
species in other sections of its distribution. Farmers would 
think better of them after examining the contents of the 
stomachs of as large a number as I have at various seasons of 
the year. They are as partial to most species of insects as are 
domestic fowls. 



*F. L. Washburn's Red River Valley. Thief River, snd Mille Lacs Rep. 
**Dr. Hvoslef and Kennicott's Lake of the Woods Rep. 



162 NOTES ON THE 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail of eighteen feathers; reddish- brown or gray above, the 
back with cordate spots of lighter; beneath whitish, transverse- 
ly barred with dull-brown; tail tipped with gray, and with a 
subterminal bar of black; broad feathers of the ruff black. 

Length, 18; wing, 7.20; tail, 7. 

Habitat, Eastern United States. 

LAGOPrS LAGOPUS (L.). (301.) 

WILLOW PTARMIGAN. 

Having listed this bird from time to time on the fact of find- 
ing it in several collections, and in the hands of the taxider- 
mists, without having found it after many years of observation, 
I had about concluded to regard it as a straggler, when I was 
more fortunate and secured one at least 20 miles northeast of 
Anoka. Since then I have obtained several, and have in my 
possession as perfect a pair in winter plumage as I have ever 
seen, mounted and presented to me by the Messrs. Howling, 
on Christmas, 1890. 

The entire plumage is white in winter except the tail which 
is black, narrowly tipped with white, and the shafts of the 
quills which are also black. The bill is very robust and arched, 
and black, while the nails of the toes are black at the base, and 
pale horn color at the tips. I have learned nothing of their 
habits from personal observation. They must be accounted 
rare in Minnesota. Their habitat as given by the A. O. U. is 
"Arctic regions; in America south to Sitka, British Provinces, 
and to Northern New York." To this we must add Minnesota. 

TYMPANTJCHUS AMERICANUS (Reichenbach). (305.) 

PRAIRIE HEN. 

The local history of the Pinnated Grouse does not differ ma- 
terially from that of any other prairie country recently brought 
under civilization and cultivation. Prom the most reliable 
sources within my reach, I learn that when the white man first 
came to Minnesota, these birds were by no means common. 
Rev. E. G. Gear, one of the earlier chaplains in the regular 
army, stationed first at Fort Snelling and afterwards at Fort i 
Ripley, (or perhaps in the reverse order), was a very accurate 
observer of all natural history phenomena, and especially so 
in the department of birds. • 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 163 

Enjoying a prolonged acquaintance with him, I availed my- 
self of his observations in those early times, to learn the habits 
of the more common species especially. He stated that the 
prairie hens were seldom seen at the first, but after the country 
began to become settled considerably, they increased in num- 
bers perceptibly from year to year. The Blackfoot Grouse, 
[Fediocates phanianellus (Linn. ), were the dominant grouse-l^ind 
of the territory, and very well represented in the openings, and 
wherever there was much brush lands, but were never found 
on the open, uncultivated prairies. This corresponds with my 
own observations of the habits of the Pinnated Grouse in Illi- 
nois, as far back as in 1836, the first summer of my residence 
there. 

I shall never forget the first boomings of the males at day- 
break. My duties called me out at that early hour, and far on 
to the prairies, six days every week, when I had ample oppor- 
tunities to become familiar with the weird notes of the amorous 
males. At that time I never could make out more than three 
sources, rarely more than two, from which these boomings 
seemed to come, but from year to year the numbers increased 
until I am sure there were not less than as many dozens, and 
whereas at the first, a bag of ten or twelve birds was a good 
showing for an expert "on the wing," for one day, it was a 
common affair afterwards for "a common shot" to bring in 50 
to 60 birds after a very short day, and experts many times 
boasted their one hundred. 

The grain fields afforded both food and protection for them 
until the farmers complained of them bitterly, but not half so 
bitterly as they did afterwards of the bird-destroyers who ran 
over their broad acres of wheat, oats and corn in the order of 
their ripening. The farmers are proverbially hard — for sports- 
men — to please. Just here I may best introduce some portion 
of Mr. Washburn's report of his experiences when in the Red 
river valley, and with special reference to this species. He 
says: 

"Extremely common in the prairie lands throughout the 
valley, particularly near farming lands in the vicinity of wheat 
fields. Replaced in a great measure by the preceding species 
in the northern part of the State. Perhaps for the benefit of 
the uninitiated, it would not be out of place to here give an 
account of the modus operandi of hunting a bird which is an 
object of such universal pursuit among sportsmen, and has be- 
come an 'article of commercial importance; and this may pos- 



164 NOTES ON THE 

sibly be best accomplished by recalling the pleasant experiences 
of a chicken hunt in the southwestern part of the State, par- 
ticipated in by the writer, at the invitation of three others, 
Mr. Rand, Mr. George Morrison, and Mr. Dolliver. It was 
my first experience in western shooting, and the memory of 
the hunt, and the thought of that pleasant company with which 
it had been my good fortune to be united for two days, will 
always be a source of pleasure. Two of that party we shall 
never see again here, but I am not the only one who has been 
made happy by their genial presence; there are many of us 
who will never forget them. 

' 'As a rule business men can spare but a day or two from the 
city for a 'chicken hunt,' and these were no exception. A 
telegram August 13th to New Richland, advised a well-known 
and well-tried landlord there, that a party of four would be 
down on the evening of the 14th; "have good rooms ready; we 
want you, your team and dog on the 15th.' Then, on the after- 
noon before the auspicious 15th, the jolly company, with per- 
haps three dogs tied in the baggage car, and a liberal supply 
of ammunition in their carpet-bags, are transported, after two 
hours' ride, to the little prarie town with its one street, a few gro- 
cery stores, saloons, elevator, and one 'best' hotel. Here they find 
everything in readiness, and after passing criticism on the dogs 
of various other hunting parties, and a whispered, mysterious 
conference with the landlord as to the location of the 'best 
ground,' the party retire to beds whose hardness is rendered 
endurable only by anticipation of the morning pleasure. Then, 
what seemed to be an hour's rest, rudely broken by the land- 
lord who knocks at the door, with the announcement that 'it is 
three o'clock, ' 

"A hasiy donning of shooting jackets, filling of cartridges 
bags or belts, a still more hasty breakfast, prepared by the 
much enduring, patient wife of the landlord, a selecting of the 
right dogs from the crowd of creatures, old and young, good 
and bad, that are kenneled in and about the house, a packing 
of lunch into the wagon, not ommitting a good supply of water 
for man and dogs, and we are off at a brisk pace, while the 
dawn is first lighting up the east. The uncomfortable feeling 
caused by being awakened so early from a sound sleep, and be- 
ing obliged to leave a comfortable (?) bed is soon forgotten in 
the novelty of our situation. As the light grows brighter ob- 
jects which looked indistinct and shadowy in the darkness, are 
seen with more clearness and prove to be wheat sfacks, or 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 165 

clumps of trees, or log shanties, from which the sleepy farmers 
are just emerging to milk the cows standing in the neighbor- 
ing barnyard. As it grows lighter, occasional Teal are flushed 
from little pools beside the road, and flocks of Mallards are ob- 
served flying over the tall grass of prairie sloughs. Then 
comes the sun gradually dispelling the mist which hangs low 
in early morning, and warming the rather chilly air. Before 
us stretch the hunting grounds, large wheat fields, from 
which the grain has been removed, interspersed with meadows 
of tall grass, numerous "sloughs," and farm houses where lo- 
cations are marked by rows of cottonwood trees. The driver 
turns into the stable, there is a loading of guns, and the dogs 
are let out of the wagon, two at a time in order that they may 
not all tire before the day's sport is ended. 

"These creatures, at whom the day before, we grumbled for 
being under foot and who stalked gloomily about with droop 
ing tails and ears, today are transformed into different beings, 
and have our pleasure in their own noses. Away they go, 
coursing the stubble from right to left and vice versa, at a mo- 
tion of the master's hand. Mark! One has stopped. He is 
eagerly sniffing the ground, picking his way carefully along, 
while his tail in rapid motion shows his excitement. The 
other dog soon sees his companion's agitation and hastening to 
him, catches the scent of the covey. Then both their tails go- 
ing round and round they push slowly on, step by step until 
suddenly the foremost dog stops, his head turned a little to one 
side and his nose pointing downward. His tail has suddenly be- 
come rigid. The other, the younger of the two, being some- 
what of a tyro, and this being the first of the season, has in his 
eagerness run too close to a chicken and when the bird flies up 
from under his nose, the startled dog gazes after him and then 
turns his head toward the wagon to see what action his master 
will take. If he could hear his master's remarks at that mo- 
ment he certainly would blush, if a dog could blush, with 
shame. But he has found another and both dogs now stand 
like marble statues, while we. all four, jump from the wagon 
and with ready guns advance toward them amid cries of ' 'steady 
Don, steady there? Hold him Grouse, steady sir!" Two are 
to shoot the birds on the right as they rise, two will take the 
birds on the left. Suddenly one of the covey, an old cock gets 
up— a report— a few feathers floating on the morning air, and 
the bird falls to the ground, where it soon flutters out its life. 
This generally startles the rest of the birds and they rise in a 



166 NOTES ON THE 

body, six, ten, fifteen or even twenty. Eight fall, the rest fly 
half a mile or more, and are marked down by the driver. If a 
few stragglers remain behind, they meet their death a few 
minutes later when they rise. With the aid of the dogs the 
dead and wounded birds are found, thrown into the wagon and 
we drive on in the direction taken by the remainder of the 
flock. In this way several covies are found during the morn- 
ing. Oftentimes the birds will not wait when in the stubble 
for the hunters to approach, but when disturbed by the dogs 
rise in a body and perhaps settle down again in tall meadow 
grass a quarter of a mile off. 

' ' This is an unlucky move for the birds, since when in the tall 
grass they lie close, and can be flushed one at a time. I shall 
never forget our experience with a large covey of twenty birds 
that were flusned by the dogs, and marked down by the driver in 
a grassy slough half a mile away. On driving over there the 
dogs easily found the birds, and the four of us, standing in tall 
grass, kept up a furious fusilade for a few minutes. The birds 
rose one or two at a time from under our feet. A rustle in the 
grass beside or behind one, was followed by the sight of a 
Chicken that flew but a few rods, only to fall dead, and by its 
fall perhaps to startle another one from the covert to share the 
same fate. This particular morning was damp and so much 
smoke was hanging low over the grass that it enveloped us in 
a dense cloud and rendered firing a risky thing, for one could 
not tell just where the others stood. At eleven the heat of the 
sun obliges the sportsman to desist, and the team is driven to 
some farmhouse where the horses are fed and the whole party 
reclining in the shade of the cottonwoods, discuss the morn- 
ing's experiences and plans for the afternoon, and enjoy a 
comfortable siesta. 

"During the middle of the day the Pinnated Grouse leaves 
the short stubble and seeks cool, damp resorts in the hollows 
of the prairie, where it is not so easily hunted, not coming to 
the wheat fields again until four or after. 

' ' At that hour, the gunners start again, and from four till 
seven, repeat with varied luck, the morning's performance. 
At dusk putting on overcoats to keep off the chilly night air, 
and counting the birds, which during noontime they had drawn 
and stuffed with cool grass, they ride merrily back over the 
now dark prairie to the hotel, w^here a bountiful supper awaits 
them, and they compare notes with parties who went out in 
other directions. The second day is a repetition of the first. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 167 

perhaps in another direction, and on the third the hunters 
return home with their spoils, to distribute them among friends 
not so fortunate as to own a gun and a dog, when the double 
barrel is cleaned and put away, and business resumed." 

I have introduced this detailed and circumstantial extract 
from Mr. Washburn's communication as one of the most faith- 
ful descriptions of a Prairie Chicken hunt that I have ever 
read, and as representing in all probability not less than two 
or three hundred other similar and simultaneous parties of 
hen-killers, conveniently entitled "sportsmen," found for 
several weeks within the dominion of our young State. No 
member of the bird family has ever received more universal 
recognition than this denizen of the broad prairies. From 
royalty to rags all classes have honored it with a place in the 
memory if not in the "bag," or the stomach, as proof of which 
we have only to point silently to the motley array of the won- 
drously improved double-barrelled shot-guns, ammunition, 
pointers, setters, elegant trains of sportsmen's railroad coaches 
side-tracked for days at a time in the vicinity of the bird's well 
known haunts far within our borders. Nothing short of a 
national jubilee and half -fares, so moves the masses and the 
classes as the dawning of the morn of the "open season" for 
shooting Prairie Chickens. Within the period of its history, 
the species has borne many "common" names, among which 
Heath Hen, Prairie Grouse, Prairie Chicken, Boomers, Pinnated 
Grouse, etc. . and it is now refreshing and restful to learn that 
the decrees of exact science have finally settled upon "Hen." 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail of eighteen feathers; general color varied, but domi- 
nantly whitish-brown and brownish yellow, almost everywhere 
with wgll defined transverse bars of brown on the feathers. 
Body stout, compact; a tuft of long, pointed feathers on each 
side of the neck, covering a bare space capable of inflation; 
tail short, truncated, much graduated; lateral feathers about 
two-thirds the middle; the feathers stiffened, nearly linear and 
truncate, scarcely longer than the coverts, and about half the 
length of the wing. Tarsi covered with feathers anteriorly 
and laterally to the toes, but bare with hexagonal scutellag 
behind; middle toe and claw longer than tarsus; toes margined 
by pectinated processes. A space above the eye provided 
with a dense, pectinated process in the breeding season, some 
times separated from the eye by a superciliary space covered 
with feathers. Bands on body transverse throughout; lan- 
ceolate feathers of the throat black; upper ones with a central 
yellowish stripe; eyelids, and a stripe from the nostril along 

-12 z 



168 NOTES ON THE 

side the head (interrupted above the eye), brownish yellow; 
sides of head below, a dusky infraocular stripe, with the chin 
and throat above, similar; feathers of the body above and below 
brown, with a terminal and two transverse bands of well de- 
fined white; the brown almost black and the white tinged with 
rufous above; scapular feathers sometimes showing more 
black; wings banded like the back; primaries grayish-brown, 
marked only on the outer webs with light spots, shafts black; 
tail feathers sometimes uniform brown, sometimes with rufous 
transverse bars; under coverts marked like the back, with 
more white sometimes; membrane above the eye and of the 
sounding bladder, orange. 

Length, 16.50; wing, 8.80; tail, 4.70. 

Habitat, prairies of the Mississippi valley. 

PEDIOCiETES PHASIANELLUS CAMPESTRIS 

RiDGWAY. (308b.) 
PRAIRIE SHARP-TAILED GROUSE. 

Thirty years ago the Sharp-tailed Grouse were distributed 
over nearly the entire State, but were not popularly distin- 
guished from the Pinnated Grouse. In common with the 
latter, they were all called "chickens," and if an occasional 
sportsman called attention to differences, the reply was ' ' they 
are blackfoots.'" 

It seems difficult to satisfactorily account for the fact, yet 
it nevertheless is such, that this species withdraws before the 
advance of civilization and agriculture, as the other moves 
along with it up to the occupation of a considerable proportion 
of its agricultural area. Amongst the sportsmen of later years 
have been some very observing amateur naturalists who have 
noted this unmistakable retrocession of the species. With 
characteristic pains. Dr. Coues approximatey traced the 
southern lines of distribution of this species across Minnesota 
in 1873, along the course of which an occasional " blackfoot '' 
may still be found, but the representative numbers have de- 
flected the aggregate line far to the north of west since that 
time. In other words, the other species has overflowed and 
buried it measurably out of sight for a considerable distance 
north and east. This leaves the area over which both species 
are in mutual possession much broader than formerly. 

About the first of April, the booming of the males is heard. 
Coues says in Birds of the N. W. , "at the rallying cry the 
birds assemble in numbers of both sexes, at some favorable 
spot, and a singular scene ensues as the courtship progresses. 






BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 169 

There is a regular "walk-around" as ludicrous to the disin- 
terested observer, as some of the performances on the comic 
stage. The birds run about in a circle, some to the right, 
others to the left, crossing each other's path, passing and 
repassing in stilted attitudes, stopping to bow, and squat, in 
extravagant postures, and resuming their course, till one 
would think their heads as well as their hearts were lost. But 
this is simply their w^ay." This is the inauguration of the 
season, and very soon the nests are located in places almost, 
but of course not quite, as various as the domestic hen, for the 
latter does not always place it or the ground, while the former 
always does. A moderate hollow is selected or made, and a 
little grass is arranged in it after which a dozen or more rather 
slimmer, and longer eggs than those of the Pinnated Grouse 
but differing very little from them in color, are layed in it. 
The young of this species have been seen just out of the nest 
as early as the 5th of May, and as late as the 20th of June. 

In sections of the northwestern and western portions of the 
State they are still abundant, but I have neither seen nor 
heard of any of them for several years in the southwest. Dr. 
Coues has a lengthy and exceedingly interesting description 
of this Grouse and its habits in his Birds of the Northwest, 
pp 407-419, which may be consulted for further information by 
those interested to learn. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail of eighteen feathers; colors white, black and brownish- 
yellow; above with transverse bars; the wings with round, 
white spots; beneath, pure white, with V-shaped blotches on 
the breast and sides. 

Length, 18; wihg, 8.50; tail, 5.25. 

Habitat, more northerly than the last species. 

Family PHASIANID^E. 

MELEAGRIS GALLOP AYO L (310.) 

WILD TURKEY. 

Thirty-three years ago the Wild Turkey was not a rare bird 
in northwestern Iowa and southwestern Minnesota, and it has 
been seen as late as 1871, in Minnesota, since which I have 
received no report from it, and I am of the opinion that it has 
now (1891) totally disappeared from our State. Possibly a 
straggler may yet be recognized in the southwest extreme of 



170 NOTES ON THE 

the timber land of that section, and if so I trust that the 
fact may find publicity through some channel. Grand and in- 
spiring as is the sublime march of civilization, we cannot look 
upon its tracks but with a degree of sadness and regret, 
strown as it is with the annihilated forms of so many species 
of birds, mammals and beautiful varieties of flowers. 

The rear guard of that all-conquering force is pressed upon 
by a herd of vandals speaking the dialect of gentlemen, but 
wearing the habiliments of warfare on beings that can neither 
employ diplomacy nor shoot back at their foes. Brave men 
they are! It may be they have slain a majestic buffalo during 
the course of a ripe old youth and manhood. Perhaps they 
can claim to have "cleaned out the last chicken'' or grouse in 
an entire county, last Sunday. 



Order COLUMB^. 



Family COLUMBID^. 

ECTOPISTES MIGRATORIIS (L). (315). 
PASSENGER PIGEON. 

Wild pigeons have been seen in the vicinity of Lanesboro, 
Fillmore county, and Spirit lake, Jackson county, the southern 
line of the State, as early as the 27th of March, but this is 
earlier than the average arrival in even those lower counties. 
A review of 20 years gives about the 5th of April, as nearer 
that time. And their ^'st appearance has never been in such 
vast flocks as have characterized their spring migrations in 
Illinois and Indiana in the first years of their settlement by 
the whites. Still there have been occasional years when con- 
siderable flocks have located and nested in somewhat restricted 
localities throughout the state. I well remember one when a 
large flock roosted for some time in an extensive popular grove 
but a few miles out of the city of St. Paul. It subsequently 
became distributed over a very wide extent of eastern Minne- 
sota, and the western part of Wisconsin adjacent. The country 
generally throughout this district is to a great extent charac- 
terized by such groves of poplar, red and black oak brush - 
lands. In these, on limbs generally not more than seven feet 
from the ground, they constructed their nests about the first 
of May. 

These were very frail structures and placed on a limb where 
there was a horizontal branch. They consisted of a few long 
sticks scarcely as large as a clay-pipe stem, on which were 
distributed a scanty supply of twigs, or still smaller sticks, 
with a few leaves overlaying the whole. Some nests had no 
leaves at all, when the egg could be easily seen from underneath 
it. In all of my examinations of them I seldom found more 
than one egg in a nest. It was pure white, nearly oval. 

Their food consisted essentially of acorns in the spring, 
but a heavy tax was levied on the wheat and oats in late sum- 
mer and fall. Of late years but few are seen in any of the dis- 



172 NOTES ON THE 

tricts which I have heard from. They have principally left the 
country by the first of November, although straggling indi- 
viduals remain as long as the abundance of mast is uncovered 
by snow. 

Wilson's estimate of the quantity of food they consume, is 
one of the most wonderful revelations in the literature of orni - 
thology. I think it highly improbable that large numbers will 
ever give material cause for anxiety to the agricultural interests 
of Minnesota, yet I cannot be assured, for the migrations of the 
species are exceedingly capricious. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail of twelve feathers; upper parts generally, including 
sides of body, head, neck and chin blue; beneath purple 
brownish red, fading behind with a violet tint; anal region and 
under tail coverts bluish white; scapulars, inner tertials and mid- 
dle of back, with an olive-brown tinge; wing coverts, scapulars 
and inner tertials, with large oval spots of blue-black on the 
outer webs, mostly concealed except on the latter; primaries 
blackish, with a border of pale-bluish, tinged internally with 
red; middle tail feathers brown; the rest pale-blue on the outer 
web, white internally, each with a patch of reddish-brown at 
the base of the inner web, followed by another of black, sides 
and back of neck, richly glossed with metalic golden- violet; 
tibia bluish-violet; bill black; feet yellow. 

Length, 17; wing, 8.50; tail, 8.40. 

Habitat, Eastern North America. 
Note — The above was written many years ago since which it 
has been further verified as correct in the older sections of 
agricultural improvements, but restricted portions of several 
northern countries have been somewhat annoyed by consider 
able flocks both in spring and autumn in occasional years. I 
have neither seen nor learned of any characteristic roosts. 

ZENAIDrRl MACROURA (L ). (316 ) 
MOURNING DOVE. 

For its species, the Mourning Dove may be said to be fairly 
comon throughout the brush-lands, and subcommon over the 
dry prairies. 

Its presence here from the 15th to the 20 of April, is soon 
recognized by its sad cooing notes, heard from the back past- 
ure, or along the wayside, through brushy sections in which 
are small patches of grass They do not usually arrive here 
in large parties, but often much as they remain through the 
summer, in pairs. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 173 

Oak acorns, berries of nearly all kinds, seeds and grains 
constitute their food, of which they find an abundance, and in 
the enjoyment of which they are essentially undisturbed by 
the gunners. 

Once here, if not mated when they come, they are so soon 
seen in pairs that it would be dif&cult to say they were not so 
when they came. A little after the first of May, perhaps not 
far from the 10th, they devote themselves to nest-building. Gen- 
erally on a high bush, or low tree, sometimes on a stump, a log, 
or even directly on the ground, they cionstruct a platform of 
small sticks. or twigs, on which they place some rootlets, or 
stems of hay, on which may occasionally be found a few lichens, 
or leaves. 

Like the nestof the other, or Wild Pigeon, it is a rather frail 
affair, and only hollowed enough to barel}'" retain the two beau- 
tiful white eggs which are to be entrusted to it. The general 
habits of the species are so well known that it would be a work 
of supererogation to attempt a detailed description of them. 

They linger as long in the autumn as they can obtain their 
food, which in some years is into November, but as a rule they 
are mostly gone by the 25th of October. 

I have neither visited any parts of the state, nor corresponded 
with persons residing in different sections, where this species 
has not been found fairly common. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail feathers fourteen; above, bluish, overlaid with light 
brownish- olive, leaving the pure blue only on the top of the head, 
the exterior of the wings, and the upper surface of the tail, which 
is even slightly tinged with this color; entire head except the 
vertex, sides of neck, and the underparts generally, light 
brownish-red. strongly tinged with purple on the breast, be- 
coming lighter behind, and passing into brownish -yellow on the 
anal region, tibia, and under tail coverts; sides of the neck with 
a patch of metallic purplish-red; sides of body and inside of 
wings, clear light blue; wing coverts and scapulars spotted with 
black, mostly concealed, and an oblong patch of the same be- 
low the ear; tail feathers seen from below, blackish, the outer 
web of the outermost white; the others tipped with the same, 
the color becoming more and more bluish to the innermost, 
which is brown; seen from above, there is the same gradation 
from white to light blue in the tips; the rest of the feather, 
however, is blue, with a bar of black anterior to the light tip 
which runs a little forward along the margin and shaft of the 
feather; bill black; feet yellow. 

Length, 13; wing, 5.75; tail, 6.70. 

Habitat, North America. 



Older RAPTORES. 



Family CATHARTID^. 

CATHARTES AURA (L.). (325.) 
TURKEY VULTURE. 

Amongst our earliest migrants, reaching the lower sections 
of the State immediately after the lifting of the ice-embargo, 
the Vultures are never seen in sufficient numbers to record 
them more than fairly common in some partially restricted 
portions of the country. After a few years of observation, I 
learned to look for their appearance about the 25th of March, 
but have frequently been compelled to wait until the first day 
of April. The first seen are more commonly a single pair, 
"attention having been drawn to them by their flying in large 
circles while gradually making progress northwardly along 
the general course of some considerable stream. A few days 
later, a larger number is occasionally noticed, perhaps a flock of 
half a dozen; rarely more, working their way to higher lati- 
tudes. Formerly an average share of them remained along 
the St. Croix, St. Peter, and Mississippi rivers to breed, but 
with the general progress of improvements, and the employ- 
ment of steam whistles on the steam boats and the mills, and 
on the railways, they have, in common with many other form- 
erly rather common species of the larger birds, become locally 
much rarer. The earlier nests are built, if so meagre an 
attempt may be called building, about the middle of April, 
(in 1864, April 10th), but later ones are occasionally found. 
Mr. Lewis reports them as late as the 5th of May on Lake 
Traverse, and the 15th of the last month in Becker county, 
which is considerably further north. As intimated, the nests 
are the merest apologies when attempted at all, but in the 
few instances of my own observation, they were only the 
naked ledge overhanging the water, on which were a few 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 175 

sticks, and some coarse stalks of weeds, or reeds. In each 
instance seen or yet heard from, only two eggs were found. 
Their color was in general a dirty, yellowish white, with dif- 
ferent shades of brown spattered, or splotched somewhat, 
nearly all over, but more so about the larger end. Their food 
does not diifer locally from that reported of them everywhere. 
Mr. Washburn "found it very common for the species, 
throughout the Red river valley." He made some consecu- 
tive observations of their habits at Ada. Dr. Hvoslef thinks 
that they come over our southern boundaries sometimes as 
early as Feb. 1st, but if they do, I persume they go back again 
promptly as a general thing. Next to this date he notes them 
in this journal on Feb. 23d, and 28th, each, 1883, but not again 
until March 27th of that year. No one familiar with their 
form in flight need be mistaken in their identity. In dignity 
of motion on the wing, they have few peers and no superiors. 
And the sustained ease of their prolonged flight is equally 
wonderful. Weariness is never once suggested. The separa- 
tion and upward inflection of the extremeties of the primaries 
when floating around th§ir wide circles on the wing, carries an 
idea of tension which soon dissipates upon prolonged observa- 
tion. They remain in their favorite districts until driven 
away by the frost which cuts off their supply of food. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Entire plumage brownish-black, darkest on the back and 
tail above with a purplish lustre, many feathers having a pale 
border; bill yellowish; head and neck bright red; plumage 
commencing on the neck with a circular ruff of projecting 
feathers; head and upper part of neck naked, or with a few 
scattering hair-like feathers, and with the skin wrinkled; 
nostrils large, oval, communicating with each other; tail rather 
long and rounded. 

Length, 30; wing, 23; tail, 12. 

Habitat, temperate North America. 



176 NOTES ON THE 



Family FALCOKID^. 

ELANOIDES FORFICATUS (L). (327.) 

SWALLOW-TAILED KITE. 

For some time after I began to notice the birds here I re- 
garded the Swallow- tailed Kite as a veritable rari avis, and 
finding where one pair built their nest on the west side of Lake 
Minnetonka, I made a careful note of everything pertaining to 
their habits. Subsequently I found that the species was far 
from being rare, indeed was comparatively common. My 
mistake had been in looking for them on the prairies instead 
of in the dense forests. Not one of all the species had been 
found on any considerable prairie. In looking for the nest, 
authorities directed me to the immediate vicinity of water. 
Margins of lakes and running streams in or bordering large 
bodies of tall timber were searched to the distance of a hun- 
dred and fifty yards back from the water, but no nests were to 
be found. In my extreme desire to gather knowledge of the 
local habits of birds and having an opportunity to secure a 
professional oologist, I employed him and sent him to the 
eastern side of the lake mentioned, where, amongst a large 
number of species I wished to learn more about, I was conn- 
dent this one nested, for during the last days of May and in 
early June I had year after year seen the male. He spent some 
ten days there and brought me many items of deep interest, 
but of my Swallow- tailed Kite, nothing. It so happened that 
he had fallen in with a friend of mine who was as profoundly 
interested in birds as any of us, to whom he showed a clutch 
of six eggs just obtained from a nest of these birds far back 
in the dense forest of maple, oak, elm and basswood, on a tree 
at an elevation of about sixty feet, all of which my friend very 
innocently rehearsed to me a few days later. I had never 
seen the egg at that time and regretted above words that I 
could not have ' 'received that which was my own", but deter- 
mined to find the nest if possible, and did so. Everything 
about its location seemed to preclude the presumption that 
they would select the immediate vicinity of water. With the 
key to the situation now in my hands, I never have since 
thrown away precious time looking for their nests anywhere 
but in the deep forests away from all running water. They 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 177 

reach the State in pairs, often in the last days of March but 
not usually later than the fifth of April, but do not build until 
about the fifth or the tenth of May. 

The nest is like most hawks' nests, rather bulky and consists 
of sticks, twigs, grass and a few leaves, and is placed in a 
fork of the tree about fifty to sixty feet from the ground. 
The full complement is six cream-white eggs, considerably 
splotched with iron -rust and speckled with dark brown. 

After the young are grown they are met with in families in 
their hunting excursion, when they extend them into small 
prairies, openings in immediate proximity to forests, being 
their natural territory, into which they glide instantly in the 
presence of supposed danger. Openings in the timber afford 
them their chosen food, insects of the larger varieties and 
reptiles of the smaller species, from which they affect those 
so ] arge as to be called small prairies, that are however more 
or less embraced by bodies of timber. Late in summer they 
almost subsist upon grasshoppers alone, so abundant are they 
habitually at that season almost everywhere in the State. 
About the first of September they leave us for warmer lati- 
tudes. Rarely some remain a little later, if severe frosts are 
delayed. 

Their flight is simply a marvel of grace, ease and velocity 
that must be seen to be fully appreciated. When a "hopper," 
lizzard, or a diminutive snake is discovered by one of them, it 
drops upon it more like a snowflake than a raptorial bird. Feet 
and bill seem to seize the victim simultaneously, but it is in- 
stantly relinquished by the foot, if an insect, and by the bill if 
a reptile. Mr. Washburn, who found the species common at 
Mille Lacs and otherwheres that he went, gives an account of 
one of these birds, after being annoyed by a blackbird (possi- 
bly by a purple martin), quick as a flash turning upon its back, 
seizing its pestiferous assailant and bearing him remorselessly 
away for an unexpected luncheon. It is not accounted a very 
brave hawk, but it is a mistake that they will not fight if at bay 
with a broken wing. The extremely pointed talons, although 
not as powerful as are those of many others of the hawks, are 
capable of inflicting severe wounds, when sustained by a very 
cruel beak. They are not inclined to fight unless driven to it, 
but their discretion is seldom wanting when danger comes, out 
of which those long, pointed wings bear them with the speed 
of an arrow. 



NOTES ON THE 



SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 



Wings and tail long, the latter deeply forked. Head and 
neck, under wing coverts, secondary quills at their bases, and 
entire under parts white; back, wings and tail black, with a 
metallic lustre; purple on the wing coverts and back; green 
and blue on the other parts; tarsi and toes greenish-blue; bill 
horn color. As with most hawks, the male is the smaller. 

Length, (of female), 23 to 25; wing, 16 to 17.50; tail, 14. 

Habitat, Southern United States and north to Minnesota. 

CIRCUS HUDSONIUS (L. ). (331). 
MARSH HAWK. 

This is undeniably the most abundant of the hawks which 
visit the State, arriving often before the ice has entirely disap- 
peared from the lakes. About the 20th of March the avaunt 
couriers of the species may be seen solitarily reconnoitering the 
marshes, but an unfavorable change in the meteorological con- 
ditions may send them away for a few days, to return next time 
in greater numbers. Late in April incubation is entered upon. 
Their favorite nesting places are in sedgy, marshy meadows, 
that have bunches, or tussocks of shrub-willows, in the center 
of which they build a somewhat bulky nest of grass, in which 
they lay four to live dingy bluish-white eggs. When the young 
are sufliciently advanced, they make short pedestrian excur- 
sions in the immediate vicinity of the nest, before the wings 
are sufficiently developed for them to take to flight, under 
which circumstances the solicitude of the parents is manifestly 
very great. To one acquainted with the habits of the species 
it is not ordinarily difficult to find the nest after the young are 
partially arrown. Their principal food consists of frogs, and 
snakes are equally acceptable under all circumstances. They 
catch occasionlly, a field mouse, moles and ground squirrels. 

Their distribution is universal over the portions of the State 
where the conditions are favorable to supply them with food. 
Such a region is characteristically a country of lakes, a con- 
siderable number of which have subsided, leaving both ex- 
tensive and frequently limited areas in the most favorable con- 
dition to make it the Marsh Hawk's paradise in the breeding 
season. 

And they yield their summer home only when the approach 
of relentless winter compels them to do so, which, with the 
hardier birds is not till in the ides of November. Occasionally 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 179 

an individual refuses to leave the southern borders of the 
State, and remains all winter, incredible as it may seem. I 
have records of its presence there during each month of the 
winter. 

Noticing frequent reports of the Marsh Hawk's seizing small 
birds, I have taken pains to ascertain their local habit in this 
respect, but I have yet to record the first instance. I have 
met with individuals in November, long after every trace of 
either insect or reptilian life had disappeared, when presump- 
tively, if ever, the urgencies of hunger should have revealed 
this reserved proclivity, in the presence of several species of 
sparrows, without preceiving the slightest disposition to inter- 
fere with them. 

Dr. Hvoslef records the presence of the Marsh Hawk near 
Lanesboro on the 13th of January, 1886. 

Mr. Lewis found them everywhere from Bigstone to the 
northern boundaries of the State, and Mr Washburn says in 
his Red river valley notes, -'Extremely common. Found 
everywhere in the vicinity of open country. The most abun- 
dant representative of the family, pairs or single birds being 
constantly seen hovering over the prairie and over the fields of 
grain. The immense numbers of frogs which throng the 
meadows and fields this season must afford them bountiful 
nourishment.'* 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Form long and slender; tarsi long; ruff quite distinct on 
neck in front; entire upper parts, head and breast pale-bluish 
cinereous; back of head mixed with dark fulvous; upper tail 
coverts white; under parts white, with small cordate, or has 
tate spots of light feruginous; quills brownish-black, with 
their outer edges tinged with ashy, and a large portion of the 
inner webs w^hite; tail light cinereous, nearly white on inner 
webs of feathers, and with obscure transverse bands of brown; 
under surface silky- white; under wing coverts-white. Young — 
Entire upper parts dark umber-brown; upper tail coverts 
white; under parts rufous, with longitudinal stripes of 
brown on breast and sides; tail reddish brown, with about 
three wide bands of dark fulvous, paler on the inner webs; 
tarsi and toes yellow. 

Length ^of female), 19 to 21; wing, 15.50; tail, 10. 

Habitat, North America. 

Note — At certain times of the day, notably mid-forenoon and 
towards evening, I have rej)eatedly seen the young hawks while 
yet unable to fly. scattered in different directions from one to 
three yards from the nest searching for bits of food either 



180 NOTES ON THE 

scattered accidently by the parent in tearing it for them from 
large snakes and frogs, or consisting of insects discovered by 
the young birds themselves. The observation has proved a 
valuable aid in searching for late nests. 

ACCI PITER YELOX (Wilson). (332.) 
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK. 

This hawk is a familiar one in its migrations, being quite 
common, and some of them remain during the winter. As soon 
as the season for nidification arrives, to the casual observer 
they seem to have left the country, but they retire to the un- 
frequented sections, notably the borders of forests and thickets, 
which no one less a "crank" than an industrious ornithologist, 
would think of penetrating. I have secured a few nests, that 
were all built in trees about fifteen to twenty feet from the 
ground, and consisting of sticks and grass, lined with moss and 
a few feathers. Some of them contained but two eggs, but as 
one had five, I may reasonably suppose the former clutch was 
incomplete. They build about the last week in April, having 
arrived in the country about the first. The eggs are dingy- 
whitish, irregularly splashed with different degrees of brown. 
They begin to diminish in numbers about the middle of Sep- 
tember, but, strange as the assertion may seem, it has been 
impossible to say when they have all gone, for not a month 
of the severest winters ever known in this high latitude has 
failed to record its presence. For many years during my 
earlier residence here, the practice of my profession took me 
across the bleak prairies verj'- frequently in winter, on which 
occasions I constantly saw flocks of Snow Buntings. At differ- 
ent times their actions indicated the presence of a hawk, but 
the idea of the possibility was not entertained until on one occa- 
sion, when 1 was returning from one of those trips, with the 
mercury at 43 below, as I afterwards learned, and with a wind 
blowing furiously from but a few degrees west of north, I saw 
one of this species coming before it with inconceivable velocity, 
and oblivious of my presence, as I was in a sleigh, it swept 
close to the ground over the brow of a knoll close to me, and 
seized a bunting out of a flock sitting so close that I had not 
seen it, though directly in front of me. My astonishment was 
boundless, but I had now the key to the actions of those flocks 
I had so long observed. I was thoroughly familiar with the 
Sharp shinned Hawk, having many times watched his peerless 
accomplishments in hunting and seizing his prey, oftentimes 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 181 

considerably heavier than himself, and the tragedy transpired 
too near me to leave a doubt as to the identity of the assassin. 
His prowess has no equal amongst Raptorial birds, attacking 
without an instant's hesitation, birds and animals far exceeding 
its own weight.* I have seen them do the things whereof I 
make these statements. Wilson's account of its encounter 
with a squirrel, and the outcome, was by no m_eans a solitary 
instance, for it has been witnessed on occasions since he des- 
cribed it. I shot one within half a mile of the beautiful Falls 
of Minnehaha on the 14th of Septemoer, 1869, that had the 
denuded head of a large squirrel hanging firmly to one side of 
its neck by the incisors, one eye destroyed, and a large hole 
torn out of the hawk's maw, of sufficient size to reveal its con- 
tents of small birds partially digested, protruding. It must 
have been an encounter of some weeks, or months, previous, 
for the squirrel's skull had become perfectly bleached and pol- 
ished, while the opening into the maw bore no signs of recent 
inflammation. Mr. Washburn found it common in the Red River 
valley, and along Thief river in August, while others report it 
everywhere in migration. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Small tail rather long; legs and toes slender; entire upper 
parts brownish-black, tinged with ashy; occiput mixed with 
white; throat and under tail coverts white, the former with 
lines of black on the shafts of the feathers; other under parts 
fine light rufous, deepest on the tibia, with transverse bands 
of white; shafts of feathers with lines of dark brown; tail ashy- 
brown tipped with white, and with about four bands of brown- 
ish-black; quills brownish-black, with bands of a darker shade, 
and of white on their inner webs; secondaries and tertiaries 
with large, partially concealed spots of white. 

Length (of female), 12 to 14; wing, 7.50 to 8; tail, 6.50 to 7. 

Habitat, North America. 

ACCIPITER COO PERI (Bonaparte.) (333.) 

COOPER'S HAWK. 

This is a very common species here, and is fairly distributed 
over the openly timbered sections of the State. I have uni- 
formly observed them early in April, and if any instance has 
occurred of an arrival in March I have not been apprised of it. 

* I once saw one of these hawks dash into a flock of wild pigeons, and strike a very 
lar^e, old bird, fifty per cent heavier than itself. It was done when the assailant was 
moving with its highest velocity, and with such deadly certainty that the stroke in- 
stantly killed the pigeon, for the head and wings all dropped, and I as speedily dropped 
the hawk, pigeon and all, by a well-directed shot. Incredible though it seems to me 
now, the keen, long, curved talons had pierced to its vitals. 



182 NOTES ON THE 

Others claim to have seen several of them associated upon their 
first reaching us, but I have never seen more than a pair to- 
gether, and in no half-day devoted to collections have I ever 
met with more than two pairs. They preferably frequent dis- 
tricts where there is considerable open, scattering timber, con- 
taining brush and thickets. These afford it Ruffed Grouse, 
quails, squirrels and rabbits, of each and all of which they 
are exceptionally fond. Although reputedly a terror to do- 
mestic fowls in other sections of the country, I have never 
known them to disturb them here. We undoubtedly have the 
best of domestic cocks, and Minnesota enjoys a first-class rep- 
utation for "crowing" (Crow Wing?) which may, or may not 
account for the local exemption of the barnyards. Not far 
from the 25th of April, they begin to build their nests in the 
forks of large trees, elevated as much as the firmness of the 
branching limbs will permit.* The nest consists of sticks 
outwardly, lined variously with strips of bark, leaves, moss, 
twigs arfd hay, and is quite bulky horizontally, with slight de- 
depressions for the four dull white eggs. It has long since 
been said that this species does not quit the nest after the first 
egg has been deposited, and I am now satisfied that this is true 
frequently enough to constitute a rule. It becomes possible 
from the fact that both seexs equally share the incubatory 
duties more faithfully than any other known species of the 
hawks. A young bird is occasionally found in the nest ten 
days before the last egg is hatched. Along the principal car- 
riage way between Minneapolis and St. Paul, and not very far 
from it, a pair of these hawks have built since 1874. It is not 
a little remarkable that they should have escaped the shotguns 
of the numerous boy-hunters of the two cities so long, to say 
nothing of the hazards of hunting their quarry after the whole 
family have taken the field. I have never seen them moving in 
circles after the manner of many others of the larger species, 
but directly forward, skimming close to the tops of the taller 
trees until diverted by the discovery of prey, when it dashes 
downward with tremendous velocity. Should it prove to be a 
rabbit, and once under way for its hole, the chase becomes 
amusing to see how the bird will strike when the rabbit passes 
an opening, which indeed must be a narrow one if it escapes, 
as they not infrequently do. If the game is a Ruffed Grouse, 



*While characteristic, this position of the nest is not without frequent exceptions, as 
I have known them to occupy tlie forks of a large horizontal limb fifteen or more feet 
from the trunk, and underneath the larger portions of the top. 



t 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 183 

its life or death depends upon the distances between the trees 
through which it is escaping, for while the Hawk may fly the 
swifter, the Grouse employs the trees for coverts successively 
most ingeniously, until in a moment of seclusion it will drop 
into the brush and dry leaves so suddenly, and remain so mo- 
tionless as to elude the eye of its adversary completely. 

Many of my correspondents in various sections of the State 
have reported the presence of this species. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head above a brownish-black, mixed with white on the occi- 
put, other parts dark ashy-brown, with the shafts of the 
feathers brownish-black; an obscure rufous collar on the neck 
behind; throat and under tail coverts white, the former with 
lines of dark brown, other under parts transversely barred 
with light rufous and white; quills ashy-brown, with darker 
bands and white irregular markings on their inner webs; tail 
dark cinereous, tipped with white, and with four wide bands of 
brownish-black. 

Length (female), 18 to 20; wing, 10 to 11; tail, 8.50. 

Habitat, North America. 

ACCIPITER ATRICAPILLUS (Wilson). (334.) 
AMERICAN GOSHAWK. 

I have no positive evidence that this hawk breeds in Minne- 
sota, yet I believe it does to some extent. It is a winter visit- 
ant in all the middle and southern counties, that arrives here 
about the first of January. In the milder winters it often fails 
to come at all, and it returns northward very early in the 
spring. The first individual that came into my hands here, 
was a mature male that was taken by a farmer in his barn in 
February in the act of capturing a hen which it had followed 
in. The hawk was alive, uninjured and in good winter plum- 
age, but he would not eat in captivity, and Tannerized himself 
into a martyr to science. 

In all, I have obtained half a dozen in various plumages, 
mostly that of the young of the previous year. They leave 
our latitude mostly in March. It is a beautiful species, not 
easily forgotten after having been in the hands once, on 
account of the delicacy of the markings of the feathers. The 
flight, once observed, is so characteristic that the bird may be 
quite reliably identified by it alone. I have never seen them 
moving in circles, but in very direct lines; often high in the air 
on cold days, but when hunting for Ruffed Grouse, Prairie Chick- 
ens, and rabbits, all of which it will seize with the bearing of 
a monarch of the wing, it flies comparatively low, but none the 

13 z 



184 NOTES ON THE 

less direct until right upon its victim. If it misses the first 
dash, the chase is by no means relinquished, but will be con- 
tinued anywhere the pursued goes. I have known an instance 
in which it followed a domestic fowl through an open window 
of a farmhouse and under a bed. The severity of our winters 
keeps the poultry housed too closely for them to do much dam- 
age until the very last part of their stay in March. 

Mr. Lewis observed them in the pineries so late in May as 
to make it almost certain that they breed in the vicinity of 
Mille Lacs, and further north in the State. Dr. Hvoslef 
reported one in Fillmore county on the 19th of March, which 
had doubtless begun its migration. 

Of late years I rarely meet this hawk among the collections 
of the taxidermists, or fresh specimens on the shelves of the 
societies; a fact of common note with bird collectors. The 
species evidently retires northward very early in the spring, 
and before the temperature of the weather has allowed the 
enthusiastic observer to reach fever point in his ambitions. 
When I have found my way into the timbered sections early 
after the winter has broken, I have found them sailing swiftly 
along the brushy edges of the woods, or the borders of the 
woodland streams, scarcely swerving in their course to seize 
their prey, which was speedily borne into the trackless forest 
to be consumed in undisturbed repose. They are a terror to 
the early flocks of Wild Pigeons when they come, making sure 
supplies of them under any circumstances conceivable. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head above, neck behind and stripe from behind the eye 
black, generally more or less tinged with ashy; other under 
parts dark ashy-bluish, or slate color, with the shafts of the 
feathers black and frequently with the feathers narrowly 
edged with black, presenting a squamate or scale-like appear- 
ance; a conspicuous stripe over the eye and an obscure and 
partially concealed occipital and nuchal band, white; entire 
under parts mottled with white and light ashy-brown, every 
feather with a longitudinal line of dark brown on the shaft, 
and with numerous irregular and imperfect transverse lines or 
narrow stripes of light ashy -brown, more distinct and regular 
on the abdomen and tibiae; quills brown with bands of a 
deeper shade of the same color and of ashy -white on their 
inner webs; tail same color as other under parts; under 
surface very pale, nearly white, having about four obscure 
bands of a deeper shade of ashy -brown, narrowly tipped with 
white; under tail coverts white. 

Length (of female), 22 to 24; wing, 14; tail 10.50 to 11. 

Habitat, North America. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 185 

BITTEO BOREALIS (Gmelin). (337.) 

RED TAILED HAWK. 

This is a fairly common species that comes the nearest to 
being permanent of any of the commoner kinds of Hawks. 
Winter has only commenced to relax its frigid grasp upon the 
land, when, flying at its highest altitudes, there may occasion- 
ally be seen one of these bold birds going still further north. 
When the drifts are all there is left of the snow and hope of 
returning spring begins to prune her wings, the number of 
returning Red -tails muliiply, and anon, instead of all of them 
passing over and onward, they i)ause in the forests and occa- 
sionally within easy access of the farmer's barnyard. The last 
days of February some years and not unfrequently the first of 
March, have revealed instances of their return, but before the 
twentieth I have seen considerable numbers of them. I am 
satisfied that many individuals of them do not get far south 
of the lower limits of the State to spend the rigorous portion 
of the winter, for they are almost annually observed in the 
border counties during each winter month and an exceptionally 
early opening never fails to find them here promptly. 

The nests are built early in April and along through the 
entire spring — sometimes in March — in the forks of large 
trees in the forests and are imposing masses of coarse sticks 
overlaid with smaller ones and twigs, over which again are 
spread leaves and mosses to considerable depth. It is so 
massive and shows so little attempt at concealment, that hav- 
ing been discovered, we see that nothing but its elevation has 
kept us from seeing it at once when in the neighborhood of it. 
They lay from three to four eggs of a dirty, yellowish-white, 
with splotches of two shades of brown. 

Prom 1867 until about 1876 I met with seven nests in the big 
woods within two miles of the westerly shore of Lake Minne- 
tonka. Their elevation was so great that but for some daring 
lads living in the section, who climbed some of the trees con 
taining them, for me, I might have been less confident of the 
identity of some of them in the absence of the nest builders. 
However, in several instances the male was seen frequently. 
One clutch of the eggs was all that I had the heart to let the 
plucky little climbers attempt to obtain, besides their woods- 
man fathers knew some of the objections to invading those 
nests after the young birds were out of their shells. While an 
occasional nest may be found in that section still they are be- 
coming less common. 



186 NOTES ON THE 

The flight of the Red-tailed Hawk is truly a marvel of dignity 
and grace equalled by few and excelled by no other species of 
bird. Who would have every sentiment of poetry in his nature 
awakened and "see God in his works," let him watch its flight 
lovingly and reverently one hour. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail bright rufous, narrowly tipped with white, and having 
a sub terminal band of black; entire upper parts a dark umber 
brown, lighter and with fulvous edgings on the head and neck; 
upper tail coverts yellowish-white, with rufous and brown 
spots and bands; throat white, with narrow longitudinal 
stripes of brown; other under parts pale yellowish- white, with 
longitudinal lines and spots of reddish-brown, tinged with 
rufous most numerous on the breast, and forming an irregular 
band across the abdomen; under tail coverts and tibias gen- 
erally clear yellowish- white, unspotted, but the latter fre- 
quently spotted and transversely barred with rufous; under 
surface of tail silvery-white. 

Length (of female), 28; wing, 15 to 16; tail, 8.50. 

Habitat, eastern North America. 

BUTEO BOREALIS KRIDEKII Hoopes. (337a ) 
KRIDER'S HAWK. 

My attention had for some time been called to a white hawk 
by observing sportsmen, when one day Mr. G. W. Tinsley, a 
leading one of them of Minneapolis, brought me one that he had 
taken. Shortly another one was brought to me, which, after 
careful examination I decided was something new. About the 
same time I learned that Mr. Krider, of Philadelphia, while 
spending the summer in this section, had obtained several 
of these Hawks, and submitted them to Mr. Hoopes, of that 
city. Hoopes named the variety as above. During some years 
they are met with quite frequently, while in others I hear of 
none. The plumage varies exceedingly in the individuals that 
I have seen, but the presence of more or less white is its dis- 
tinguishing characteristic for varietal recognition. 

Having seen no nests, or seen no one who has, I can add no 
further facts in the history of this variety of the Red-tailed 
Hawk, except that they are less a prairie species than has 
been represented by some writers. On the contrary, I find 
them predisposed to neither prairies nor dense forests, but 
sparsely timbered openings. 

Note. Since writing the above, I have ascertained that this 
variety of the Red- tails has been observed in the vicinity of 
Lake Superior, at Red lake, Mille Lacs and Lake Traverse. 

I'l 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 187 

It is undeniably difficult for me to regard Krider's Hawk as 
a variety of the common Red- tailed Hawk. 

I was much disappointed that Mr. Washburn did not meet 
with it either in Crow Wing or Otter Tail counties, as his two 
explorations extended over sufficient time for a careful ob- 
servation of its habits had he found them in sufficient numbers. 

All the specimens that I have had in my hands up to the 
present time, have been males, where I have had an opportun- 
ity to be certain as to the sex, and have averaged less in their 
measure than B. borealis 

The diJIerence in the measure of white in the colors consti- 
tutes, the recognized distinguishing character of this variety of 
the Red- tailed Hawks. 

BUTEO BOREALIS CALURUS (Cassin). (337&.) 

WESTERN RED-TAIL. 

A single specimen of this variety of the Red-tail is all I have 
to justify its record within the boundaries of my investigations. 
That it has been killed repeatedly along the Red river by 
sportsmen I have no doubt from descriptions from them, but 
while engaged in the exciting events of "good wing shooting" 
amongst the ducks, all thoughts of the solicitations of im- 
portunate science are forgotten, to be only recalled by meeting 
some one of her humble servants. 

Between the facts and the fancies of the narrator, one of the 
former here and another there, will build up considerable cir- 
cumstantial proof in such a matter. While "one swallow 
doesn't make it summer," it makes one think about it. The re- 
cords of the presence of the Western Red -tail in Illinois are 
fully accepted. 

The single specimen I refer to above was in unmistakable 
plumage and from the vicinity of the Red river. 

I am familiar with the species in its recognized habits where 
its habits do not differ from the Red-tails of the eastern states. 
My experience with one of them that I had winged in Santa 
Clara county, California, in the spring of 1872, gave me a last- 
ing respect for his indomitable courage which has been freshly 
recalled by reading the Rev. J. H. Langille's account of carry- 
ing one of the Eastern Red- tails home on the muzzle of his gun 
which it had seized after being disabled for flight by winging. 
I can conceive of nothing but the bird's recognition of his pro- 
fession that spared him from a like proof of his valor. 

My bird as readily accepted the proffered muzzle of the gun, 
but in less time than it takes to wink he had ascended, "hand 
over hand" and dealt nothing less than a baker's dozen of blows 



188 NOTES ON THE 

from the talons of his spare foot squarely on the first hand he 
reached, every time piercing the flesh to the bone. Indeed one 
barb of his cruel talons had reached through the tendons of 
the hand and the skin of its palmer surface. It has required 
several similar experiences to enable me to learn the value of 
securing a specimen of a "living hawk." (A hint to the wise). 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Only distinguishable from B. horealis by its larger size, 
greater extent of the dark color of the throat, and the preval- 
ence of the rufous on the abdomen and tibias. 

Length (female), 23 to 25; wing, 16.50 to 17; tail, 9 to 10. 

Habitat, western North America. 

BUTEO LINEATUS (Gmelin). (339.) 

RED-SHOULDERED HAWK. 

While always met with in migration, its local habits confine 
it much more exclusively to the timber, and the unfrequented 
forests especially, which leads superficial observers to believe 
it a more northern species than the Red-tail. This is a mis- 
take for they are nearly as numerous as that species, and 
almost indistinguishable except by the last circumstance, if 
not in hand, or very well under observation. I have had but 
one collector to assist me whose observations of the nest were 
of sufiicient value to be quoted, but his have corroborated my 
previous impressions that this species builds a little more 
artistic and notably a deeper nest. This hawk has now been 
seen as frequently as the Red- tail during every winter month. 
They arrive in their migratory movements about as early as 
the others in spring, and remain as late in autumn. As already 
intimated, their habits associate them with the forest mostly, 
where they destroy Ruffed-grouse, rabbits and squirrels for 
their food, only very rarely disturbing domestic poultry. 

Whole sections of the State where pariries, or only quite 
small, scattering trees and brushlands predominate, are almost 
unvisited by this hawk. A trait of the species which has 
been noticed before, has attracted my attention in two in- 
stances of my own opportunities for observation, namely; the 
equal share borne by the male in all the duties of incubation, 
and rearing the young. He shares the collecting, and arrang- 
ing of all materials in the structure of the nest, and instantly 
occupies it in the absence of the female. A succession of ob- 
servations have gone far towards establishing the conclusion 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 189 

that the same bird occupies the nest continuously for twenty- 
four hours, and after the young are developed enough to make 
short flights, one parent at a time takes the special care of the 
brood while the other pursues its chase. 

At these times the smaller birds contribute no little to the 
daily supply. Snipe, sandpipers, plover, blackbirds, larl^s, 
sandwiched with frogs, snakes, etc., to crayfish and beetles. 
They must be driven by extreme hunger if ever they attack 
domestic fowls. The observing farmers soon learn to dis- 
tinguish them from the Red -tails by their consideration for 
their poultry, as well as their stronger predilection for the 
woods. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Wing coverts from the flexure to the body fine bright rufous; 
breast and other lower parts of body paler orange-rufous, 
many feathers with transverse bars and spots of white which 
predominate on the abdomen and under tail coverts; entire 
upper parts brown, on the head mixed with rufous, and with 
white spots on the wing coverts, shorter quills and rump; quills 
brownish-black with white spots on the outer webs, with bars 
of a lighter shade of brown, and white on their inner webs; 
tail brownish-black with about five transverse bands of white, 
and tipped with white. 

Length (female), 21 to 28; wing, 14; tail, b. 

Habitat, eastern North America. 

BUTEO SWAINSONI Bonaparte. (342.) 
SWAINSON'S HAWK. 

Unlike either the Red-tailed or the Red-shouldered, this 
hawk is essentially a prairie bird. It is never met with in 
either of its migrations ; or if so too infrequently to have 
attracted the attention of reliable observers who have noted 
it in the southern counties of the States, notwithstanding they 
extend their excursions occasionally into almost every open 
district I have visited. 

I have never obtained it earlier than the first of May. but I 
have not visited the sections where it is ordinarily easiest 
found, so early as that, which leads me to suppose that it may 
arrive some earlier than that date. I confess that it is at best 
but a conjecture, but I am strongly inclined to believe that the 
larger portion of Swainson's Hawks come in from the west or 
southwest, as they are invariably found in the northwestern 
parts of the State before an occasional individual is seen in the 
latitude of Minneapolis and St. Paul. They choose trees in 



190 NOTES ON THE 

the borders of the forest for constructiDg their nests in, if con- 
tiguous to open, dry prairie, but will employ scattering ones, 
or the ground along the course of streams running through 
sections favoring the supply of their food, which consists 
chiefly of small quadrupeds and grasshoppers. 

The nest, like those of most of its genus, is constructed of 
coarse sticks, on which rather smaller ones are placed, mixed 
with twigs, over which are laid grass and some leaves. The 
eggs bear similar colors to those of the Red-tails. 

They are the most abundant Hawk in northern Dakota, and 
scarcely less so in the sections of Minnesota immediately con- 
tiguous. They retire somewhat earlier than do the Red-shoul- 
dered and Red- tailed in autumn, the latest record I have being 
October 17th. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill wide at base, compressed towards the tip, lobed, cere 
large; wing long, third quill longest; tail moderate, rather 
wide, even at the tip; tarsus feathered in front nearly half its 
length, naked behind, the bare portion in front having about 
twelve transverse scales; toes rather short, the claws strong; 
entire upper parts dark brown, nearly black in the middle of 
many feathers, paler on the edges; quills brownish black, with 
wide transverse bands of cinereous on their inner webs, becom- 
ing paler and nearly pure white towards the base of the quill; 
tail brown tinged with ashy, and having about ten to twelve 
transverse bands of a darker shade of brown, the subterminal of 
which is widest; tip edged with white; throat white, with lon- 
gitudinal lines of dark brown; neck before and breast asJiy-broivn, 
nearly the same color as the tail, some of the feathers edged 
with reddish; other under parts white, nearly pure on the 
under tail coverts, and with transverse irregular bars of rufous 
on the tibiae and the flanks, and darker brownish- rufous on the 
abdomen; under wing coverts white, with a few spots of trans- 
verse stripes of brown; bill dark slate; tarsi, toes, and cere 
yellow. 

Length (of female). 21.50; wing, 16; tail, 8.50. 

Habitat, western North America. 

BTTTEO LATISSIMUS (Wilson). (343.) 
BROAD-WINGED HAWK. 

A little above the Palls of Minnehaha there is a limited 
forest of dense timber, consisting of nearly all of the ordinary 
varieties of deciduous trees. Through it run in several direc- 
tions, obsolete wagon ways over which thrifty undergrowths 
of different kinds have formed arches high enough for a horse 
and carriage to pass under. Along side of one of these through 






BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 191 

which I was solitarily driving, I discovered a hawk sitting on a 
limb of a sapling, about eight feet from the ground, and not 
more than thirty feet distant from me. With a charge of No. 
12 shot, I secured him instantly without having drawn blood 
through the feathers. Dropping my bird into a large, stiff 
paper cornucopia with which I always provide myself, I was in 
the act of laying my capture into my basket, when I descried 
an immense Fish-hawk threading its devious way through the 
tops of the lofty trees of the forest, with a living pickerel 
trailing and writhing from one extended foot. Remaining mo- 
tionless, and the hawk not seeing either me or my horse and 
carriage, it spread its immense wings upwards in the act of 
lighting on a large limb, sixty feet perpendicularly over me, 
when I pulled trigger on a No. 8 charge and brought directly 
to my feet both hawk and fish, the former of which was en- 
tirely lifeless, but the fish was as lively as if just brought in 
with a hook. I have mentioned these circumstances before in 
connection with the Fish Hawk, and now again because the 
first hawk was a Broad-wing, and the first I had ever had in 
my hands. Both birds were duly and truly mounted, and are 
in the museum of the Minnesota Academy of Natural Sciences, 
after the lapse of twenty years, in good order, to the credit of 
that faithful taxidermist, Mr. Wm. Howling of this city, (Min- 
neapolis). The event and the whole beautiful scene in the 

j solitude of that charming forest, on a bright May day of 1867, 
constitute the pinnacle of my delightful experiences in the 
field of ornithology. 

The Broad-wing Hawks arriv^e about the first of April, and 
about the 20th begin to build their nests, some of which, how- 
ever, are not occupied before the tenth of June. No other 
species manifest less uniformity in time of commencement. 
The average time is not far from the 5th of May I find. 
The structure consists of medium- sized sticks externally, 

|| over which are imposed finer ones, grass, leaves and feathers, 
until it becomes as bulky as a Crow's nest, and is placed in the 
main forks of a tree in the borders of the forest, about thirty 
feet from the ground. They lay. from two to five dirty white 
eggs, over which are scattered blotches of reddish-brown. 

It is not an aggressive species ordinarily, but if wounded 
and at bay, or in the defence of its young, it has no superior, 
and few peers for courage and persistence. It is fairly com- 
mon from the borders of Iowa to Lake Superior. Rare in the 
northwestern sections of the State. 



192 NOTES ON THE 

I should have said that I find it breeding frequently near the 
city and about Lake Minnetonka and otherwheres in the Big 
Woods. 

Nests and eggs are not infrequently brought to me which 
have been obtained but a short distance from the city. Mr. 
Washburn found the species rather common in Otter Tail 
county. That is a fairly representative county of a large 
section in* which I have had but little opportunity for personal 
observation. The Broad-wing Hawk leaves us about the 20th 
of October. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Entire upper parts umber-brown, feathers on the occiput and 
back of the neck white at their bases; throat white with longi- 
tudinal lines of brown and with a patch of brown on each side 
running from the base of the lower mandible; breast with a 
wide band composed of large cordate and sagittate spots and 
transverse bands of reddish ferruginous tinged with ashy; 
other under parts white with numerous sagittate spots of red- 
dish on the flanks, abdomen and tibias; quills brownish -black, 
widely bordered with white on their inner webs; tail dark 
brown, narrowly tipped with white and with one wide band of 
white and several narrower bands near the base. 

Length (female), 17 to 18; wing, 11; tail, 6.50 to 7. 

Habitat, eastern North America. 

ARCHIBITEO LAGOPUS SANCTI-JOHANNIS (Gmelin). 

(347a.) 

AMERICAN ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK. 

This is not a very common hawk but is at the same time 
not extremely rare. In its northern migration particularly, it 
is occasionally seen about the edges of marshes and ditches 
where it seizes frogs, snakes and wounded ducks. The first 
one I ever saw was drawn into visible proximity to where I was 
skulking for a shot at ducks on the wing. It must have discov- 
ered one that had been previously wounded but which I did 
not see until afterwards. They are in migration during the 
last days of March and the first of April, none to my knowl- 
edge having been seen later than the first of May. They 
evidently go further to breed. An occasional individual has 
been shot late in the autumn or early winter and been mounted 
by the taxidermist. Mr. William Howling, of Minneapolis, 
has had several in his collection at different times, but gener- 
ally in immature plumage. My knowledge of this species is 
mostly confined to my personal observations in the* vicinity of 
where I reside. None of my assistants have reported more 
than a single identification. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 193 

The dark, cloudy days of early spring and late autumn are 
those in which to keep a good lookout for the Rough-legged 
Hawk. He then flies low and always slowly, especially during 
the day, and more commonly over swampy meadows in search 
of his inglorious prey of frogs, mice, lizzards, snakes and 
large insects, with an eye out for some unfortunate bird but 
half killed by the hunter. They frequently extend their 
search for food late into the twilight, which in our high lati- 
tude is late indeed, manifesting an owl-like nature which is 
further intimated by the full, soft plumage embracing the 
legs, feathered to the toes in front. A favorite place for them 
is located half a mile from my summer cottage at Lake Minne- 
netonka, a spot I have habitually visited at both the seasons 
when this species is still here and which consists of a morass 
that was at no ancient period an arm or bay of the lake, when 
it sustained a somewhat higher surface than now and in which 
are denizened representatives of nearly all kinds of supplies 
for them. They come to the marsh so quietly that except the 
eye is kept on the field, they may have drifted slowly its 
whole length and be vanishing through an opening in the 
woods which leads to another swale or slough, when first 
discovered, but if a little patience is exercised, they will 
return to traverse the marsh again, when possibly a better 
opportunity is enjoyed for observing them. Perchance, in- 
deed probably, he will alight on a muskrat house in the middle 
or on a dry limb overhanging the water, where he will remain 
almost motionless for an hour at a time if unmolested. When 
surprised suddenly they have a habit of screaming in a most 
unmusical fashion as they sail heavily away into the forest for 
safety. I hear from an amateur ornithologist residing at a 
little distance from Red Lake Falls, Mr. L. Bothman, that a 
nest of this species had been found near there, but with 
neither bird nor eggs to settle the identification. I do not feel 
justified in fully accepting the statement, 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head above yellowish-white, with longitudinal stripes of 
brown tinged with reddish, especially on the occiput; back, 
scapulars and shorter quills pale-cinereous, with partially con- 
cealed transverse bands of white and dark- brown, the latter 
frequently predominating and giving the color on the back; 
rump dark umber-brown; longer quills and wing coverts dark 
umber-brown; primaries edged externally with ashy, and with 
a large space on their inner webs at the base, white with a 
silky lustre; under parts white; throat with longitudinal 



194 NOTES ON THE 

stripes of dark-brown; breast with large spots and concealed 
stripes of reddish-brown; abdomen with numerous transverse 
narrow bands of brownish-black, most conspicuous on the 
flanks, and tinged with ashy; tibiae and tarsi barred trans- 
versely with white and dark-brown, and tinged with reddish; 
under tail coverts white; upper tail coverts white at base and 
tipped with brownish black; tail white at base with a wide 
sub-terminal band of black, and about two other bands of 
black alternating with others of light cinereous; cere and toes 
yellow; iris hazel; under wing coverts white with spots of 
brownish-black, and on the longer coverts with a large space 
of ashy-brown. 

Length (female), 21 to 23; wing, 16 to 17; tail, 9. 

Habitat, North America. 



ARCHIBUTEO FERRUGINEUS (Lichtenstein). (348.) , 

FERRUGINOUS ROUGH-LEG. 

I am very familiar with this hawk in his characteristic 
home, California, and was the more surprised to find that indi- 
viduals of the species have several times straggled into Min- 
nesota. 

It is thoroughly a dry-prairie raptor, and lives upon small 
rodents, reptiles and insects. It is rather a common hawk in 
Dakota, especially in the western part where I found it perched 
on prairie-dog's hills, or skimming leisurely along the ground 
during the month of May of the present year (1887), but I 
had no opportunity to look into their nests. On the other 
coast they were very abundant, and voracious eaters, living 
upon ground squirrels chiefly. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. ^ 

Largest of the genus, with the bill wide at base; wings 
long; tarsi feathered in front to the toes; naked and scaled 
behind; tibiae and tarsi bright ferruginous, with transverse nar- 
row stripes of black; entire upper parts dark-brown and light- 
rufous, the latter predominating on the rump and wing coverts; 
quills ashy-brown, with the greater part of their inner webs , 
white; tail above reddish-white, mottled with ashy-brown; 
beneath pale yellowish-white; under parts white, with narrow 
longitudinal lines and lanceolate spots on the breast reddish- 
brown, and narrow irregular transverse lines of the same 
color, and of black on the abdomen; flanks and axillary feath- 
ers fine bright ferruginous. 

Length (female), 23 to 25; wing, 17 to 17.50; tail, 9. 

Habitat, western North America. a, 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 195 

AQUILA CHRYSAETOS (L.). (349.) 

GOLDEN EAGLE. 

That this Eagle has ever reared its brood within our borders 
I cannot say, but it is a well known fact that it visits dilTerent 
parts of the State at intervals. The young of both sexes have 
been obtained from time to time, and mounted for parties here, 
and others to carry to the East. 

I have seen no mature specimens amongst those which have 
come under my observation, yet from the descriptions of spe- 
cific characters which I have consulted, I am compelled to think 
that some have been more advanced than the young of the year. 
It has been repeatedly affirmed by some of the older fur traders 
who were here before the Indians left, that instances of their 
breeding on high cliffs of rocks on the north shore of Lake 
Superior, were known, at the least, forty years ago. If this is 
true, there are no conceivable reasons why they should not do 
so still, for on the sea coast they have done so ever since the 
original settlement of the country. The general inaccessibility 
of their nesting places renders any special encroachment upon 
them impracticable. When speaking of this bird in his de- 
lightful work. Rev. J. Hibbert Langille says: 

"Gra.nd as our common or White-headed Eagle is conceded 
to be. he is but a commonplace and vulgar bird compared with 
the present species. Indeed, the Golden Eagle is the noblest 
bird of our continent. Disdaining carrion, except in extreme 
hunger, and all ordinary pilfering and predatory habits, he 
subsists, it would seem, on the noblest game, such as hares, 
grouse, young fawns, and wild turkeys. Nor does he conde- 
scend to chase his prey and capture it only after a hot pursuit, 
after the manner of hawks and falcons, but detecting it afar 
with his keen eye, swoops down upon it from some obscure 
height, and takes it by surprise. Then, bearing it away to an 
elevated point in a tree, or on a high rock, he plucks it clean, 
and eats at his leisure. The loftiest mountains are his home, 
and on the shelvings of their most rugged precipices he locates 
his eyrie. 

"Occasionally he may make a detour into the settled parts of 
the country, soaring high, and in slow, wide and most majestic 
circles; or if he pass from one mountain height to some other 
in the distance, it is by the highest possible pathway in the 
sky. If he be in certain stages of plumage, with good eyes, 
and the light favorable, one may distinguish him as a great 



196 NOTES ON THE 

rarity, by the dark band on his white tail. But generally if 
one would study him, he must go to the uninhabited and almost 
uninhabitable parts of the earth, far above the ordinary planes 
of animated nature, and there contemplate him in the sublimest 
solitude. As he climbs to the very clouds, and penetrates be- 
hind the veil of the storm, even the mountains are low down 
in respect to him, and he seems to know and care but little 
about the world." 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Large; tarsi densely feathered to toes; head and neck be- 
hind, light brownish- fulvous, varying in shade in different spec- 
imens, frequently light orange- fulvous, generally darker; tail at 
base white, which color frequently occupies the greater part of 
the tail; other terminal portion glossy black; all other parts rich 
purplish- brown, frequently very dark, and nearly clear blacJc 
on the under parts of the body; primaries shining black; 
secondaries purplish- brown; tibiae and tarsi brownish-fulvous, 
generally mixed with dark-ashy; cere and toes yellow. 

Length (female), 33 to 40; wing, 25; tail, 15. 

Habitat. North America. 

halij:etus leucocephalus (l.). (352.) 

BALD EAGLE. 

This least understood, most honored, and most abused of 
the entire class to which it belongs, has honored or dishonored 
the North Star State, by making it emphatically the place of 
his abode. No forest with a right to the name, but claims the 
enviable or unenviable distinction of harboring the wiole 
family of this species. Its harsh screams are familiar to the 
woodman during the nidifying season, and many a cabin in the 
solitudes of the deep, dark forests, has its young eagle chained 
to its gable, or the convenient out-house. Its habit of breed- 
ing year after year on the same filthy old nest, even after 
having been repeatedly robbed of its eggs or young, gives 
unusual opportunities for noting its habits. 

Some of these birds seem to go a little further south, as is 
indicated by their return in spring, but not all for they are 
often observed through the entire winter. About the last 
week in Feb. some of them commence preparations for nest- 
ing by repairing the old structure, or building another en- 
tirely new. Fragments of dry limbs a yard in length, and 
from one to two inches in thickness are laid into the forks of a 
large tree, at least forty feet from the ground, and more fre- 
quently sixty feet. These are criss-crossed in a rude, but 
really very ingenious manner, and secured in their position by 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 197 

the abundant use of smaller ones interlocked, and further 
secured by coarse fresh twigs, over which almost any availa- 
ble material like hay, moss, leaves, and what-not, are deposited, 
and more and more from year to year as its reoccupation is con- 
tinued. They lay two dirty yellowish-white eggs, and when the 
young are hatched, no sprigs in the bird kingdom are more 
royally cared for until fairly able to take care of themselves. 
In selecting their location for their nests in the ordinary 
forest they almost uniformly choose a tree on a kind of obso- 
lete island, so surrounded with morass that approach to it on 
the ground is difficult or impossible, but where large islands 
covered with large trees are found in considerable lakes, they 
will prefer these. I have never found more than one brood 
raised in one nest in a season. Their feeding habits are too 
well known to call for any special mention. 

Almost from the earliest observations of white men, and 
from long before according to Indian tradition, they have 
reared their young on the islands m Lake Minnetonka until 
very recently. Fifteen years of personal observation in the 
forest west of that lake have afforded me opportunity to locate 
several nests, from which I have had the young eaglets 
brought to me to "raise for pets" again and again. A well 
earned and enduring respect for raptorial birds in general has 
enabled me to decline all such proffers, but others have ac- 
cepted them, so that for many years after I became a citizen of 
Minneapolis it was no unusual thing to see individuals of the 
species chained, like a monkey, to a box or outhouse in different 
places in the city. 

Mille Lacs, Otter Tail, Big lake, and many others, have had 
the credit of being alike favorite breeding places of the Bald- 
headed Eagle. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Large; bill large, strong, straight at base, rather abruptly 
hooked; wings long; tarsi short; head, tail and upper coverts 
white; entire other plumage brownish-black, generally with 
the edges of the feathers paler; bill, feet and iris yellow. 

Length (female), 35 to 40; wing, 23 to 25; tail 14 to 15 

Habitat, temperate North America. 



198 NOTES ON THE 

FALCO RUSTICOLIS GYRFALCO (L ). (354a) 

GYRFALCON. 

In the winter of 1874, I secured a straggler from its habitat 
in its best winter plumage, and after satisfying myself of its 
identity, notified the ornithologist of the Smithsonian of my 
find, and at his request loaned him my specimen, which how- 
ever, I had had mounted for the museum of the Minnesota 
Accademy of Natural Sciences, of which I had the honor to be 
president at the time. My diagnosis was endorsed, and its 
variety given as Ldbradora, with the promise of having the 
proof-sheet sent me of its notice in the large work on the 
birds of North America, then nearly ready to publish. I 
received the proof in due time, giving it as above, with the 
additional statement that it was the first instance of its collec- 
tion within the United States, but I was not a little surprised 
on reading the work afterwards, to find the proof-sheet wanting 
in the text, and the species referred to as occasionally being 
found within the United States. A notice of the reasons for 
the change in the advanced sheets would have been the least 
that the common amenities of life would have called for. I 
mention the circumstance that others may not be foolish enough 
to allow their beautifully mounted birds to be dismounted, 
gutted, and have their plumage clawed over for several months, 
after which re-stufed, and sent back looking as if it was the 
remains of an individual that had been through a picking- 
machine and left in a dirty garret for preservation. If the 
pinch lay in not having the first and only specimen of "Falco 
Gyrf alco, variety Labradora, " as given in the advanced sheet, 
presented to the Institution, I can only say that having been 
given to the Academy, I no longer had the right to so dispose 
of it. 

The winter of 1874 will be remembered as one of the severest 
in the history of the great Northwest, and the specimen was 
doubtless driven south for food. During the same winter the 
Goshawks in mature plumage were often met with in the pine 
forests of northeast Minnesota. One of the finest specimens 
of the mature male of this fine hawk was found starved and 
frozen in a woodpile, and another was brought to me alive that 
had followed a hen into a farmer's kitchen in the timberland, 
where it was captured in magnificent plumage, and many more 
of the young of the year were obtained by grouse hunters in the 
deciduous forests. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 199 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Entirely white; upper parts with regular transverse, and very 
distinct bands of brown, becoming somewhat crescent shaped 
on the scapulars and rump, and slightly acuminate on the 
shafts of the feathers; quills white and brownish black at their 
tips; tail white, with about twelve transverse narrow bands of 
brown; under parts with a few longitudinal lines of dark brown. 

Length, 24; wing, 16.50; tail, 10. 

Habitat, northern North America, 

FALCO PEREGRINUS ANATUM (Bonaparte). (356.) 
DUCK HAWK. 

The typical species of all the true falcons, the Duck Hawk 
is the last of its family to escape the recognition of the genuine 
sportsman. Minnesota being the El Dorado of this species, 
dotted all over with its innumerable lakes, ponds and streams, 
whither the duck kingdom repairs in the seasons of migration, 
and to breed in many cases extensively, it may be asked why 
should this hawk go further. He reaches us simultaneously with 
the arrival of the ducks and geese, which varies somewhat with 
the different seasons. It is more frequently in the last days of 
March, or first in April, but I have known them to be here in 
force by the 17th of the former month. The Duck Hawk never 
goes long hungry, for while the birds of the water are in mi- 
gration, his lQ,rder is at hand. Like others of its family which 
build on inaccessible cliffs on the seashore, it takes to the trees 
here, and constructs its nest of sticks, twigs, grass and leaves, 
in which are dropped four reddish-brown eggs, which are 
minutely spotted and blotched with a darker shade of the same. 
The young of this species have been found on the wing by the 
25th of May, although some pairs are only building or incu- 
bating at that date. As compared with some others the Duck 
Hawks are not a numerous species, but are fairly so for their 
own. Their chief breeding section seems to be in the great 
forest and lake region in the northern counties of the State.* 
Their agility on the wing is simply marvelous, and their dart- 
ing not a whit less so. When in proximity to their prey, they 
seem almost insensible to danger, but when once they have 
secured it, their discretion returns to dominate all their move- 
ments, and they seek places of entire safety in which to devour 



*Mr. Lewis found them breeding on tlie shores of several lakes In Becker and Cass 
'ounties. At Leech Lalve were two nests. In every instance they were constructed 
iMi trees at considerable elevation, but no more difficult to reach than those of the 
other species of large hawks. 

-14z 



200 NOTES ON THE 

it. I was for several years a member of a gun club in the city 
where I reside, and I well remember an incident in illustration 
of the characteristics of this hawk which took place while we 
were shooting at pigeons thrown from a trap. The firing was 
rapid at the time, when a pigeon got away and circled around 
over a cornfield directly behind the shooting stand. A little 
out of good range, it nevertheless received the attention of a 
dozen guns, during which time a Duck Hawk appeared in pur 
suit of the escaping pigeon, and undismayed by the roar of the 
guns, drove the bird directly over our heads, where of course 
both birds were sacrificed. It proved to be a female in full 
plumage. The event occurred on the 13th of August, 1875. 

Sportsmen early learn that this hawk is exceptionally ob- 
noxious to their amusement, be the game whatever it may, pro- 
vided it is not larger than the bird in question. It is a remorse- 
less marauder and murderer, killing for amusement after satis- 
fying its hunger completely. It will attack small birds, and 
as fast as it crushes the life of one out with its talons will drop 
it and attack another. No man should be accounted a genuine 
sportsman with the gun who does not instantly slaughter the 
Duck Hawk at sight. These brigands of the wing understand 
what their own standing is with this class of the genus homo, 
and will give him a wide birth except when running down their 
victims, when they are oblivious to all else. 

They have usually left the State by the 25th of October, ex- 
cept an occasional individual found in the southern counties, 
where they remain far into November. 

FALCO COUUBARIUS L. (357.) 

PIGEON HAWK. 

Being exceptionally familiar with this hawk in other sec- 
tions, I am not a little disappointed to find them so extremely 
rare here, although I have long known them to be accounted 
only subcommon in the Mississippi valley. In 1862 I found a 
specimen of this species in the mounted collection of a gentle- 
man who was an expert in the identification of game birds, and 
was making a study of their predatory enemies on wings. He 
obtained it in the fall of the previous year while it was in the 
act of seizing another bird, and was impressed with its unfamiliar 
appearance enough to have it mounted without having known 
its specific identity until I named it for him. In 1867 I found a 
representative of each sex in Mr. Howling's collection, since 

I 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 201 

which I have seen but two individuals of the species, and those 
had been already mounted. I pronounce it a rare species in 
Minnesota. I have never yet seen a specimen of them alive, 
much as I have been on the alert for them. Of course occa- 
sional individuals pass through the country in migration or 
those mentioned could not have been obtained, for they were 
all killed within our borders. And all the conditions requisite 
for their food are here, so that for aught apparent they might 
breed here as highly favored as anywhere else, yet for some 
reason they do not to any great extent at least so far as is yet 
known. Their food is mostly comprised of small birds. 

They reach this latitude early in April, sometimes not until 
the middle, when they remain but a very short time. From the 
statement of persons familiar with birds in general, one indi- 
vidual has been met with in November, but the next latest date 
that I have learned of was the twenty-fifth of October. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Entire upper parts bluish -slate color, each feather with a 
black longitudinal line; forehead and throat white, other under 
parts pale-yellowish, or reddish-white, every feather with a 
longitudinal line of brownish-black; tibiae light ferruginous 
with lines of black; quills black tipped with ashy- white; tail 
light bluish-ashy, tipped with white and with a wide subter- 
minal band of black, and with several other transverse narrow 
bands of black; inner webs nearly white; cere and legs yellow; 
bill blue. 

Length (of female), 12 to 14; wing, 8 to 9; tail, 5 to 5.50. 

Habitat, North America. 

Note. — The Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter velox) has been 
confounded with this species, on account of its having also 
been popularly called the Pigeon Hawk, but it is very unlike it 
in nearly all respects, and finds its systematic place in another 
genus. 

FALCO RICHARDSONII Ridgway. (358.) 

RICHARDSON'S MERLIN. 

This species so long regarded a variety of Columbarius, has 
only, like the other, come under my notice in two skins ob- 
tained in a collecting exploration near the head of Lake Super- 
ior in 1875. They were listed as belonging to the other 
species, but afterwards came under my examination when I 
decided they were Richardson's Hawk. I am not at all certain 
that one or two of those given under Columbarius were not of 
this species, but not all. I subjoin Mr. Ridgways' description 
of his newly named species. 



202 NOTES ON THE 



SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 



Upper plumage, dull earth -brown, each feather grayish- 
umber centrally, and with a conspicuous black shaft-line. Head 
above, approaching ashy-white anteriorly, the black shaft- 
streaks being very conspicuous. Secondaries, primary cov- 
erts, and primaries margined terminally with dull white; the 
primary coverts with two transverse series of pale-ochrous 
spots; primaries with spots of the same, corresponding with 
those of the inner webs. Upper tail coverts tipped and spot- 
ted beneath the surface with white. Tail clear drab, much 
lighter than the primaries, but growing darker terminally, 
having basally a slightly ashy-cast, crossed with six sharply 
defined, perfectly continuous bands (the last terminal) of ashy- 
white. Head f rontally, laterally and beneath — a collar round the 
nape (interrupting the brown above) — and entire lower parts, 
white, somewhat ochraceous, this most perceptible on the 
tibiae; cheeks and ear coverts with sparse, fine, hair- like 
streaks of black; nuchal collar, jugulam, breast, abdomen, 
sides, and flanks, with a median linear stripe of clear ochre- 
brown on each feather; these stripes broadest on the flanks; 
each stripe with a conspicuous black shaft-streak; tibise and 
lower tail- coverts with fine shaft- streaks of brown, like the 
broader stripes of the other portions. Chin and throat only, 
immaculate. Lining of the wings spotted with ochraeous- 
white and brown in about equal amounts, the former in spots 
approaching the shaft. Inner webs of the primaries with 
transverse broad bars of pale-ochraceous — eight on the longest. 

Wing, 7.70; tail, 5; culmen, 0.50; tarsus, 1.30; middle toe, 1.25; 
outer, 0.85; inner, 0.70; posterior, 0.50. 

Habitat, interior and western plains of North America. 

FALCO SPARVERIUS L. (360.) 

AMERICAN SPARROW HAWK. 

Arriving not far from the first day of April the Sparrow 
Hawk is seen for a short time very frequently. 

They feed much on mice, grasshoppers and crickets, but 
relish a sparrow when secured. No intelligent farmer wants 
these hawks destroyed, so valuable are their habits in the 
destruction of field mice especially. The pairing season is 
usually about the middle of May. For the construction of 
their nests holes of all sorts are employed, but more frequent- 
ly that of a woodpecker, notably the Golden- winged, but 
hollow trees with a large knot hole for entrance are the first 
choice. Here there is a call for some substructure of sticks 
and twigs, on which are imposed the grass, leaves, moss or 
feathers, as the surroundings best afforded. As a rule they. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 203 

seek locations considerably removed from dwellings, but do 
not reject the outhouses when they are considerably separated 
from the others. Indeed, one pair occupied a box used for a 
dove roost. But who would find them in their most frequented 
localities during the breeding season must go to groves of 
timber bordering extensive meadows. They lay about four or 
five eggs that are brownish-white, speckled all over with red- 
dish-brown and frequently considerably blotched with a light 
reddish. 

As an indication of their value to the agriculturist, I will 
introduce an excerpt from the pen of M. de Lautrie, who says: 
"In 1863 I took five little Sparrow Hawks and put them in a 
cage. The parent birds immediately brought them food, and I 
was not surprised to see that it consisted of twelve mice, four 
large lizards and six mole crickets. A meal of like size was 
brought every day for a month. At one time there were 
fifteen field mice, two little birds and a young rabbit. Last 
year I made the same experiment with the same result, one 
meal consisting of twelve small birds, one lark, three moles, and 
one hedgehog. In one month the five baby hawks rid the 
world, by actual count, of 420 rats and mice, 200 mole-crickets, 
and 158 lizards." 

Need a word be added to satisfy the most incredulous that 
the Sparrow-Hawk is a friend of man, and should be protected 
by law'' 

Late in July and August, the young being grown, tncy be- 
come widely distributed and remain exceedingly common till 
about the first to the tenth of October. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Frontal band and space including the eyes and throat, white ; 
spot on the neck behind, two others on each side of the necki 
and a line running downwards from before the eye, black. Spot 
on the top of the head, necK behind, back, rump and tail, light 
rufous or cinnamon color. Under parts, generally, a paler 
shade of the same rufous as the back, frequently nearly white, 
but sometimes dark as the upper parts, and always with more 
or less numerous circular or oblong spots of black. Quills 
brownish-black with white bars on their inner webs. Tail 
tipped with w^hite, frequently tinged with rufous, and with a 
broad subterminal band of black, outer feathers frequently 
white, tinged with ashy and barred with black. Bill light blue; 
legs yellow. Back generally with transverse stripes of black, 
but frequently with very few, or entirely without; rufous spot 
on the head, variable in size, and sometimes wanting. 

Length, 11. to 12.; wing, 7. to 7.50; tail, 5. to 5.50. 

Habitat, whole of North America. 



204 NOTES ON THE 

PANDION HALIAETUS CAROLINENSIS (Gmelin). (364 ) 
AMERICAN OSPREY. 

About the middle of April this remarkable hawk-eagle is seen 
perching on the projecting limb of a dry tree on the shore of 
some lake or creek, and more frequently the latter, as the fish 
are making their way to the marshes to spawn. Perhaps his 
doubtful distinguishment from the eagle has scarcely been set- 
tled, when down he drops, splash, into the water, out of which 
he instantly rises with a large fish hanging by its head from 
his talons, as he sails away to the forest at hand. He never 
stays near the place where he gets his prey, but from a long 
cherished memory of the persecutions of the bald eagle, at once 
buries himself in the coverts of the thick, dark woods while 
devouring it. I was once in such a forest in search of some 
small birds, when my attention was arrested by what I sup- 
posed to be an eagle with a large snake dangling by its head 
from the talons of one foot. I instantly exchanged a shell 
loaded with No. 12 shot for one charged with No. 8, and awaited 
his approach. 

As I stood in a little open space, I expected nothing else than 
that he would see me and turn his course, but remaining per- 
fectly still, he continued to come directly towards me, and as- 
sayed to light on the lower limb of a lofty tree directly over my 
head, about sixt^'- feet above me, when, just as his unengaged 
foot grp^ped the limb, with both wings extended, I pulled 
trigger, and speedily got myself out of the line of his gravita- 
tion, when a monstrous Pish Hawk and a bouncing pickerel 
simultaneously struck the ground at my feet. The hawk was 
too dead to wag a toe or shrug a wing, but the fish flopped and 
bounded like any other fish just out of water. One, I helped 
my friends eat for dinner, and the other was a fews days after 
on the shelves of my private collection of birds, since pre- 
sented to the Minnesota Academy of Natural Sciences. 

About the first of May they begin to build their nests, which 
are placed more commonly in a large tree on the bank of either 
a large stream or a lake of considerable size. Occasionally 
they go quite a little distance into the forest, where the trees 
are very numerous and tall. Except in the hugeness of its 
proportions the nest does not differ materially from the other 
large hawks or from the eagles except in being a little less 
bulky. It consists of large sticks, smaller sticks, grass with 
bits of turf clinging to it, coarse weeds and fine weeds mixed 
with somewhat finer grass. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 205 

They usually have three eggs. Their color is exceedingly 
variable, part of those I have in my possession being much 
darker and more extensively blotched than others. But I 
should call the average reddish-brown with a creamy shade 

Almost universally distributed throughout the State this 
hawk is nowhere abundant, Mr. Washburn found them only 
"sub-common" at Mille Lacs, although I am inclined to think 
he would have found more of them a little later in the season, 
as the young would then have been full grown, and on the 
wing or "fishing" along the shores of the lake. 

They linger in autumn as late as the fishing remains good 
which is nearly November, but as the waters in the streams 
and lakes become colder, the fish seek the deeper places, and 
thus are out of the way of this their great enemy. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Wings long; legs, toes and claws very robust and strong. 
Head, and entire under parts white; stripe through the eye, 
top of head and upper parts of body, wings and tail, deep 
umber brown, the tail having about eight bands of blackish- 
brown; breast with numerous cordate, and circular spots of 
pale yellowish-brown; bill and claws bluish-black; tarsi and 
toes greenish yellow. 

Length (female), 25; wing, 21; tail, 10.50. 

Habitat, North America. 

Family STRIGID^. 

STRIX PRATINCOLA Bonaparte. (365.) 
AMERICAN BARN OWL. 

In 1858 I was informed that the Barn Owls were never seen 
in Minnesota, and after many years observation of the birds I 
came to the conclusion that those who had been here before me 
were right, when I obtained one specimen of the female, and 
then another long period passed before I saw another that had 
been shot by a man in the maple woods in the vicinity of Park- 
er's Lake. Again several years passed, and I heard of some 
having been obtained, but had some doubts as to the identity, not 
having seen the birds; but before very long I began to get one sent 
me occasionally, and I had the pleasure of obtaining some my- 
self, and getting statements from one or two persons who were 
competent and reliable, who described them correctly, when I 
received a carefully detailed description of the young which I 



206 NOTES ON THE 

followed up to the birds themselves, which had been obtained 
from the nest in the Big Woods. They were able to fly a little 
only, and were therefore easily caught, and soon became tame. 

I have had no late additions to my specimens secured, but I 
have settled it that although not largely represented, they are a 
regular summer resident, lingering until quite late in N ovember 
in some sections heavily timbered, but I cannot find that any 
remain through the winters. Their plumage is not of sufiicient 
density to protect them in high latitudes. The breeding places 
here are, as far as I have been able to ascertain, more fre- 
quently in the coarse reeds of dry marshes where the musk- 
rats have formerly built their houses, on the remains of which 
the eggs are dropped with little if any attempt at building a 
nest. But in one case the brooding place was in a rather 
superficial hole in the side of a bank of earth a few feet in 
height. The eggs are four in number, purely white and nearly 
of the same measurements in either direction. Incubation 
begins variously from April 20 to May 10, according to the 
locality and the season. 

In September, 1891. through the kindness of Mr. J. Fletcher 
Williams, of St. Paul, I received a letter from Dr. Chas. A. 
Gray, of Waterville, describing three birds of some new species 
that had been found in a hollow tree in the vicinity, which from 
a photograph accompanying proved them to be the Barn Owl. 
but so strikingly like the European that I asked for further 
descriptions in the way of measurements, &c., which settled it 
specifically as the American Barn Owl. A more comical group 
of birds I never saw, and I am under much obligation to Dr. 
Gray for it. 

My observations of this species in California for 17 years, 
have confirmed me in the conviction that it is not particular 
where it has its nest; for they occupy the holes of the ground 
squirrels, a hole in the rocks, where such are easily found, but 
preferably a hollow tree, no matter how deep the cavity, if of suf- 
ficient diameter to readily turn about in. That it is a much more 
common bird in Minnesota than I have felt at liberty to record 
it I strongly suspect, but its nocturnal habits must leave a doubt 
about that till more extensive observations have been made. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Entire upper parts pale fawn color or tawny brownish-yel- 
low, frequently very pale, nearly every featber with a small 
subterminal black spot, succeeded by another of white; under 
parts generally pale fawn color, but frequently a pure white 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 207 

with small lanceolate and circular spots of brownish -black; 
under coverts of wings and tail white; quills fawn color; 
primaries with about five irregular transverse bars of brown- 
ish-black; tail with about four or five bands of dark brown; face 
white; spots of dark chestnut brown around the eyes; irides 
brownish-black; bill, toes and claws, light yellowish. 

Length (of female), 16; wing. 13; tail 5.50. 

Habitat, North America, from New York and Minnesota, 
southward through Mexico. 

Family BUBOXID^ 

ASIO WILSONIANUS (Lesson). (366.) 

AMERICAN LONG-EARED OWL. 

Although falling far short of being as common a species in 
this State as the Great Horned Owl, {Bubo virginianiis), it is 
by no means rare. Its extremely reticent, and entirely noctur- 
nal habits, have led many, conversant with the general habits 
of the birds to suppose it to be a very unusual migrant here, 
instead of a permanent resident. For the reasons already 
suggested, little is yet known of its breeding habits. A few 
nests have come within my observation, some of which were 
found within what has since become a portion of our city limits. 
Between Lakes Calhoun and Harriet, there is a Tamarack 
swamp, very densely wooded, or was until thinned out by the 
Lakewood Cemetery Company. In the forks of some of the 
tallest members of the group, were some nests of the Long 
eared Owl. The nests consist of green larch twigs, leaves and 
grass. In the heart of the Big Woods are many small dried 
swamps untouched by the woodman's axe. Not many of these 
will need to be searched by one practiced in hunting birds' 
nests in their season, before the labor will be rewarded by the 
discovery of not only the nest of this species, but that also of 
the Saw-whet Owl. But of that, more in its own place. The 
eggs are four in number, and pure white. 

The first brood is on the wing before April is gone, and the 
last, by the first of August. Their food consists of mice, and 
small birds. No other species of owl is so exclusively noctur- 
nal in all of its habits. They are quite generally distributed 
where there is heav^y timber. 

Mr. Washburn found them common at Thief River in Otter 
Tail county, from which circumstance we may with abundant 
reason, suppose them equally so in the northern sections of 
the State generally 



208 NOTES ON THE 

Very many of this species find their way into the hands of 
the taxidermists for mounting. Mr. Howling who has done 
nearly all of the mounting of birds for me which I have had 
done, has many times called my attention to the variations of 
plumage of the Long-eared Owls, in connection with sex and 
degrees of maturity. He has always preserved notes of the 
different birds sent to him as far as possible, that I might have 
the benefit of them. 

In this way I have secured many invaluable opportunities 
for information. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Ear tufts long and conspicuous; eyes rather small; wings 
long; tarsi and toes densely feathered. Upper parts mottled 
with brownish-black fulvous, and ashy-white, the former pre 
dominating. Breast pale fulvous with longitudinal stripes of 
brownish-black; abdomen white; every feather with a wide lon- 
gitudinal stripe, and with transverse stripes of brownish-black; 
legs and toes pale fulvous, usually unspotted, but frequently 
with irregular, narrow, transverse stripes of dark brown; eye 
nearly encircled with black; other feathers of the face ashy- 
white, with minute lines of black; ear tufts brownish-black, 
edged with fulvous and ashy- white; quills pale fulvous at their 
bases, with irregular transverse bands of brown; interior coverts 
of the wing pale fulvous, frequently nearly white, the larger 
widely tipped with black; tail brown, with several irregular 
transverse bands of ashy-fulvous, which are mottled as on the 
quills; bill and claws dark horn color; irides yellow. 

Length (female), 15; wing, 11 to 11.50; tail, 6. 

Habitat, temperate North America. 

ASIO ACCIPITRINUS (Pallas). (367.) 
SHORT-EARED OWL. 

In my earlier observations of the birds of Minnesota. I 
accepted the conclusion that the Short-eared Owl was decidedly 
a rare species. Further observations have changed that con- 
clusion. Their proclivity to marshy districts and building 
their nests on and in the ground, misled me somewhat, but 
since I have become more familiar with their feeding and 
breeding habits, I believe them to be, at least, fairly common. 
It has been truly said that what the Marsh Hawk is to the 
marsh by day, this owl is by night. Essentially nocturnal in 
its feeding, it is not absolutely blind in the daytime, but if 
flushed from the ground where its colors largely conceal it, it 
flies away in a confused manner, and then sails along quite 
near to the ground till at a safe distance, and then drops sud- 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 209 

denly down into its grassy covert again. Occasionally a 
favored locality will harbor several of them in the tangled 
grass during the day, to gather a harvest of small water-birds 
during the night, as indicated by the feathers in the morning. 
They tear open the breast and eat only that portion, leaving 
the remainder to tell the tale of their distinctive habits. They 
commence flying soon after sunset, and put in their best work 
in hunting before the twilight has disappeared, but if not 
eminently successful during that time, will work still far into 
the night, as is shown by the shallaboo amongst the terns and 
snipe. 

Sticks, reeds, grass and feathers comprise the materials of 
their nests, which are placed on the ground generally, but are 
sometimes found in forsaken burroughs. Four white eggs are 
laid in May. Whether they rear more than a single brood I 
cannot tell, but the young are seen occasionally late enough to 
make it highly probable that they do. 

It is only occasionally taken, and then usually by hunters 
who have little interest in ornithology. However it gets into 
the hands of the taxidermist often enough to prove it fairly 
common in most parts of the State. Mr. Laurie found it at 
Duluth and Mr. Lewis at Red lake. Mr. Washburn does not 
mention this species in either of his reports from Mille Lacs 
and the Red river valley. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Ear tufts very short; entire plumage buff or pale fulvous; 
every feather on the upper parts with a wide longitudinal 
stripe of dark brown, which color predominates on the back; 
under parts paler, frequently nearly white on the abdomen, 
with longitudinal stripes of brownish-black most numerous 
on the breast, very narrow and less numerous on the abdomen 
and flanks; legs and toes usually of a deeper shade of the 
same color as the abdomen; quills pale reddish fulvous, at 
their bases, brown at their ends with wide, irregular bands and 
large spots of reddish fulvous; tail pale reddish fulvous, 
with about five irregular transverse bands of dark-brown, 
which color predominates on the two central feathers; under 
tail coverts usually nearly white; throat white; eyes enclosed 
by large spots of brownish-biack; eartufts brown, edged with 
fulvous; bill and claws dark; irides yellow. 

Length (female), 15; wing, 12; tail, 6. 

Habitat, North America. 



210 NOTES ON THE 

SYRNIUM NEBULOSUH (Forster.) (368.) 

BARRED OWL. 

Next to the Great Horned Owl, the Barred Owl is the most 
numerous of any species of its family in Minnesota. Yet they 
are less so here than in Illinois, or than formerly so there. They 
are slightly (I think considerably) migratory in the southern 
portions of the State, moving southward somewhat in severe 
winters, but in the pine regions they are not so, for I have 
obtained specimens from time to time :l^om lumber camps 
during the hardest winters we have ever experienced. During 
the summer season many of them get distributed over the 
entire prairie regions, when they are even more easily obtained 
there than in the densest timber regions. I have found them 
in the vicinity of Duluth with little difficulty and hunters 
report them frequently met with in duck hunting, particularly 
in spring shooting. Several nests have been discovered 
within the vicinity of Princeton and two or three near the 
north arm of Lake Minnetonka. They breed as early as any 
other species, if Bubo virginianus is excepted, the eggs having 
been once brought to me fresh on March tenth. They are 
pure white, subspherical in form and from four to five in 
number. The structure of the nest is quite bulky and is gen- 
erally located in a fork of a tree fifty or sixty feet from the 
ground. It consists of sticks and leaves principally. 

The food of the Barred Owls consists chiefly of field mice, 
reptiles and small birds. At the dawn of morning and again 
at evening, "twilights mystic hour," it may often be seen 
floating silently along the border of the woods or over the 
meadows in quest of its humble game, so near the grass or 
grain that the wings seem to rest upon it. It cannot be re- 
garded as especially a woodland bird, for they are quite as 
frequently met with far out on the prairies where not even a 
bush can be seen for many weary miles. 

SPECIFIC characters. 

Head large, without ear tufts; tail rather long; upper parts 
light ashy-brown, frequently tinged with dull yellow with 
transverse narrow bands of white most numerous on the head 
and neck behind, broader on the back; breast with transverse 
bands of brown and white; abdomen ashy-w^hite, with longi- 
tudinal stripes of brown; tarsi and toes ashy- white, tinged 
■with fulvous, generally without spots but frequently mottled 
with dark brown; quills brown with six or seven transverse 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 211 

bars nearly pure white, on the outer webs and ashy fulvous on 
the inner webs; tail light brown with about five bands of wliite 
generally tinged with reddish-yellow; discal feathers tipped 
with white; face ashy- white, with lines of brown and a si:)Ot of 
black in front of the eye; throat dark brown; claws horn 
color; bill pale yellow; irides bluish black. Sexes alike. 

Length, 18 to 20; wing, 13 to 14; tail, 9. 

Habitat, eastern United States to Minnesota and Texas. 

SCOTIAPTEX CINEREA (Gmelin). (370.) 

GREAT GRAY OWL. 

All statements to the contrary, and by whomsoever made, 
this species is not so "far from common" in Minnesota as it 
might be. A slip of the pen in the hastily prepared list of 
birds, published by the Minnesota Academy of Natural 
Sciences in 1874 made me say very common when speaking of 
this species, and in my absence some one else read and cor- 
rected the proof, who of course did not know that the word iwt. 
had been accidentally omitted, which was the case. 

The Great Gray Owl is justly called an Arctic species, and is 
really a more northern bird than the Snowy Owl {Nyctea 
nyctea), yet it has a recognized record as a winter migrant in 
Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey. 
When I first visited Minnesota Territory between thirty and 
forty years ago, I found several specimens of this huge owl in 
a collection belonging to a gunsmith whose name I have lost, 
which I was informed had been obtained in the immediate vi- 
cinity. When in 1858 I removed to Minneapolis, I remembered 
this amongst the earlier species of birds in which I conceived a 
special interest. Before the close of the winter of 1859, I had 
seen five, of which I obtained one myself, Mr. House two and 
Mr. Henry two. 

In 1874, when the Bulletin of the Academy of Natural 
Sciences was published, Mr. Shroeder of St. Paul had two, 
Mr. Howling of this city three and I had seen three in private 
collections Since the date of that publication, I have only 
seen a few specimens in the hands of sportsmen and the taxi- 
dermist for mounting. 

All observers admit that they are not seen as often of late as 
formerly, in the lower portions of the State at least. Their 
food is principally the same as that of the other owls so far as 
I have been able to ascertain, and they retire northward in the 
latter part of April. I have but one record so late as that date. 



212 NOTES ON THE 



SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 



The largest owl of North America. Head very large, eyes 
small, tail rather long; upper parts smoky or ashy- brown, 
mottled and transversely barred with ashy -white; under parts 
ashy-white, with numerous longitudinal stripes of dark ashy- 
brown predominating on the breast and with transverse stripes 
of the same on the abdomen, legs and under tail coverts; 
quills brown with about five wide, irregular bands of ashy- 
white; tail brown with five or six wide, irregular bands of 
ashy white, mottled with dark brown; feathers of the disc on 
the neck tipped with white; eye nearly encircled by a black 
spot; radiating feathers around the eye, with regular trans- 
verse narrow bands of dark brown and ashy white; bill pale 
yellow; claws pale yellowish- white, darker at their tips; iris 
bright yellow. 

Length, 25 to 30; wing, 18; tail, 12 to 15. 

Habitat, Arctic America. 

NYCTALA TENGMALMI RICHARDSONI (Bonap.). (371.) 
RICHARDSON'S OWL. 

I believe this owl to be a more northern species, which vis 
its the State considerably in winter. I find it is more common 
about the head of Lake Superior than in the middle and south- 
ern counties. I have an individual sent me, sometimes 
several, from different sections of my field every winter and I 
have seen a number in Mr. Howlings' collection at different 
times, but by far the larger portion have been from Duluth and 
vicinity. It was taken in the dense woods west of Lake Min- 
netonka as early as 1869, and persons residing in that region 
who claim to be perfectly familiar with the Saw-whet or 
Acadian Owl, (iV. Acadica) assure me that this form is not 
unfrequently seen in the colder weather of winter. 

Its food principally is small birds, mice and insects. It is 
enough larger than the Saw-whet to make its popular observa- 
tion presumably correct. 

I shall not be greatly surprised if the nest is found here ul- 
timately, notwithstanding it has been considered so exclusively 
arctic. It is strictly nocturnal in its habits, living upon small 
birds, insects and mice. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

(From Stearns. ) 

"Above olivaceous chocolate brown, spotted with white; be- 
neath, white, spotted and streaked with a brown similar to the 
back, but a little darker; disk white; a white spot between the 






BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 213 

bill and the eye; wings and tail with white spots on both webs, 
the latter with from eight to ten pairs; bill light yellow; iris 
yellow; tarsus feathered. 

Length, 10; wing, 7.25; tail, 4.50. 

Habitat, Arctic America. 

NYCTALA ACADICA (Gmelin). (372.) 

SAW-WHET OWL. 

This species is quite common in restricted sections, and just 
how restricted it is quite impossible to say until its distribution 
can be further investigated. As far back as 1868, I frequently 
visited a family residing 24 miles from the city and in the heart 
of the Big Woods, who were familiar with this species under 
its popular name. They assured me that it was a permanent 
resident, breeding in woodpeckers' holes sometime in April. 
Succeeding opportunities enabled me to confirm their state- 
ments, and I found the bird quite common during that portion 
of the autumn when luffed grouse shooting was the order of 
the day. The nest is furnished with some grass, and feathers 
occasionally. The eggs are very clear, almost translucent 
white, and four to five in number. It is emphatically a noc- 
turnal species, living upon small quadrupeds, birds and insects. 
It has been reported to me by the lumbermen at several of the 
logging camps in winter. 

The larger portion of the earlier choppers were former resi- 
dents of Maine, where they said that the Saw-whet was a com- 
mon species, and that they knew that this was the same, not 
only by its general appearance but by the saw-filing note it 
kept up in March specially. This last is a striking character- 
istic of the species, and very familiar to observing residents of 
the sections where they breed. They are extremely cautious 
and sly about their breeding, but at other times they seem quite 
confiding. The nests are more commonly placed in the forks 
of a sapling, but occasionally in the nest of another bird or in 
a knot- hole in a larger tree, and consists of sticks, dry leaves 
and feathers. The eggs are layed in early April, and are three 
in number, nearly round in outline, and pure white. The food 
of the Saw-whets is principally insects in summer, but they eat 
almost anything when driven to it by hunger. 

specific characters. 

Small; wings long; tail short; upper parts reddish -brown, 
tinged with olive; head in front with fine lines of white, and 
on the neck behind, rump and scapulars with large, partially 



214 NOTES ON THE 

concealed spots of white; face ashy- white; throat white; under 
parts ashy-white, with longitudinal stripes of pale reddish- 
brown; under coverts of wings and tail white; quills brown 
with small spots of white on their outer edges, and large spots 
of the same on their inner webs; tail brown; every feather 
with about three pairs of spots of white; bill and claws dark; 
irides yellow. 

Length, 7.50 to 8; wing, 5.50. 

Habitat, North America. 

MEGASCOPS ASIO (L.). (373.) 

SCREECH OWL. 

This owl's presence in different portions of the timbered sec- 
tions has been verified beyond a question, by its distinctive 
notes for a great many years, yet it has only occasionally been 
seen. When riding through the dark primeval forest which 
formerly encompassed Lake Minnetonka, it was no unusual 
experience in early spring, to hear one or more of these birds 
screech in the distance, particularly if a few rays of a pretty full 
moon found their way through the leafless branches. That 
they breed here there can be no doubt, for they are here in 
summer. But one nest has been found that I have had the 
privilege of examining. It was in a hollow stump and con- 
sisted of grass, leaves, plenty of moss, and some feathers. 

It contained four, nearly round, polished, white eggs, having 
been discovered about the 10th of May, but was not invaded 
till the 16th. 

The lumbermen claim that they hear their screechings at 
times all winter in the pine forests about Mille Lacs, and other 
logging sections. 

Dr. Hvoslef reports them "occasional" at Lanesboro, but 
does not state at what season of the year. 

Mr. Washburn makes the same report from Devil's Lake in 
August. 

The nest is generally in a hole in a tree at varying elevations 
from the ground, but has occasionally been found in other situ- 
ations, notably about isolated old outhouses and barns. They 
build about the first week in May. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper parts pale ashy-brown, with longitudinal lines of 
brownish-black, mottled irregularly with the same and with 
cinereous; under parts ashy -white, with longitudinal stripes of 
brownish-black, and with transverse lines of the same color; 
face, throat and tarsi ashy white, irregularly lined and mottled 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 215 

with pale brownish; quills brown with transverse bands, nearly- 
white on the outer webs; tail, pale ashy-brown, with about ten 
transverse narrow bands of pale cinereous; under wing coverts 
white, the larger tipped with black; bill and claws light horn 
color; irides yellow. 

Length, 9.50 to 10; wing, 7; tail, 8.50. 

Habitat, eastern North America. 

BUBO TIRGINIANUS (Gemelin). (375.) 

GREAT HORNED OWL. 

A lad about ten years of age recently visited the Twin Cities, 
who had never seen a good many things, among which this 
famous Night King of the forest. He had read of the species, 
but having never seen a forest, or even a forest tree in his 
life, until on his way here it was not strange that he had 
never looked upon, or heard the notes of this wonderful bird. 
Let us imagine his surprise when he was halfway across a 
narrow arm of a larch swamp spanned by turnpike, walking 
deliberately beside a friend, and heard in the darkness the 
dismal, weird, hoo-o, hoo-o, hoo, hoo, Jioo, Jioo, of the Great 
Horned Owl. The half-breathed half -uttered, "Gosh!" be- 
comes eloquent in our imaginations, without the touch of any- 
thing bordering on the profane. When I was a lad of the same 
age, and accustomed to hearing those notes, I was spending 
the night with a family of friends, in a densely wooded portion 
of the country, at a time when the moon was ' full. ' Stepping 
out of the door into the flood of the moonlight just before 
retiring, I heard a characteristic hoot, a long distance away, 
and boylike, hooted back to it. In an instant a response to me 
came from a much nearer point, but in another direction, to 
which I replied as promptly, and again received an answer; 
and this reciprocal hooting for less than a quarter of an hour, 
brought seven different owls of the kind simultaneously 
within visible distance of where I stood, in the shadow of a 
projecting limb of a lofty elm. While quietly contemplating 
my success in deceiving and alluring such an unprecedented 
number of owls, a boom from one of them that had, unheard, 
perched immediately over my head, burst upon me so suddenly 
that my courage forsook me, and I sprang incontinently from 
my hiding place into the clear moonlight, where a glance up- 
ward embraced the monstrous bird with every feather erect, 
and eyes expanded, glaring down upon me, instantly following 
which he spread his broad wings and sailed away into depths 

15z 



216 NOTES ON THE 

of the dark forest out of my sight. He looked to me vaster in 
all his proportions than all of my conceptions of Milton's 
winged Apolyon, as he floated silently into the shadows of the 
night. 

These are the most numerous of the eleven or twelve species 
met with within our borders, and the largest of the assured 
permanent residents. They more commonly build their nests 
in the forks of the loftiest trees of the woodlands, far from 
habitations. It is constructed of sticks first, over which are 
laid twigs. These are sometimes massed in considerable quan- 
tities, and give the general dishing form to the structure. 
Whithin it is lined with leaves, moss, and grasses, with occa- 
sionally a few feathers from the owl's own body; but these may 
be the mere accidental sheddings which have occurred while 
occupying the nest. The eggs are white with a tinge of yel- 
low, nearly spherical in form, and from three to four in number. 

The period in which they enter upon their nesting varies 
greatly with different pairs. I do not find much difference 
from one year to another so far as the average time in which 
they build is concerned, as they take no consideration of cold; 
but I find the first nests begun earlier than in any other locality 
in which I have ever observed them. My earliest personal 
record is February 7th, and the latest April 7th, which I do not 
think is as late as they sometimes build, judging from the young 
owls occasionally offered by country boys in the market for 
pets. Their value to the farmer is slowly gaining acknowledg- 
ment amongst farmers in all sections of our wheat growing 
commonwealth from their great destruction of field mice espec- 
ially. 

The habits of the Great Horned Owls of working dire de- 
struction amongst the domestic fowls that perch in exposed 
places, has produced a most unreasonable prejudice against 
the species by farmers, and hence he finds no mercy amongst 
them, but it exposes a very reprehensible practice of leaving 
their poultry to shift for themselves instead of providing 
secure quarters for them in a house devoted to their welfare. 
Even featherless bipeds have found that hens and chickens are 
good eating, and it is not strange if the facilities of this species 
for seizing and bearing them away so safely and securely 
should have suggested the trial for themselves, and succeeding 
so admirably, had perpetuated the practice. But the debit 
column against this bird should not stand alone, for there is 
another of credit, embracing rabbits, so destructive to young 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 217 

fruit trees, skunks, more destructive to the poultry than the owls 
are. mink, weasels, etc., which will more than balance the 
account. Let the owls all live, and securely protect the poultry 
from not only the owls, but the animals, too. The habits of 
the species are too familiar to repeat them here, as the young 
have been so frequently captured for pets and reared in cap- 
tivity that little of interest can be readily added. But woe to 
the unprotected poultry when one of these civilized marauders 
assumes his liberty in a favorable hour. Neither Mr. Wash- 
burn, nor any other observers have added anything to the 
local history of this species. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Large and strongly organized; ear tufts large, erectile; bill 
strong, fully curved; wing rather long, third quill usually 
longest; tail short; legs and toes robust and densely covered 
with short downy feathers; claws very strong, sharp, curved; 
variable in plumage from nearly white to dark brown, 
usually with the upper parts dark brown, every feather mot- 
tled, and with regular transverse lines of pale ashy and red- 
dish-fulvous, the latter being the color of all the plumage at 
the base of the feathers; ear tufts dark brown, nearly black, 
edged on their inner webs with dark fulvous; a black spot 
above the eye; radiating feathers behind the eye varying in 
color from nearly white to dark reddish-fulvous, usually the 
latter; feathers of the facial disc tipped with black; throat and 
neck before, white; breast with wide longitudinal stripes of 
black; other under parts variegated with white and fulvous, 
and every feather having transverse narrow lines of dark 
brown; middle of the abdomen frequently, but not always, 
white; legs and toes varying from white to dark fulvous, usually 
pale fulvous, in most specimens unspotted, but frequently and 
probably always in mature specimens, with transverse narrow 
bars of dark brown; quills brown, with wide transverse bands 
of cinereous, and usually tinged on the inner webs with pale 
fulvous; tail the same, with the fulvous predominating on the 
outer feathers; iris yellow; bill and claws bluish -black. 

Length (female), 21 to 25; wing, 14.50 to 16; tail, 10. 

Habitat, eastern North America. 

NYCTEA NYCTEA (L.). (376.) 
SNOWY OWL. 

Although never an abundant, or even a common species, the 
Snowy Owl was formally seen in the middle and southern sec- 
tions of the State much more frequently than in late years. 
Two different causes have doubtless contributed to this de- 
crease. In the early settlement of the country they were left 



218 NOTES ON THE 

quite undisturbed, but with the distribution of subsequent set- 
tlements, an occasional bird fell before the farmer's gun. The 
old, mature bird, always wary, grew cautious, and gave the 
vicinity of dwellings a wide berth. After a time Minnesota 
became a famous resort for deer and Ruffed Grouse shooting, 
late enough for sportsmen to catch a shot at a Snowy Owl. 
Taxidermists all over the land offered high prices for them to 
mount, which brought every boy with a shotgun in his posses- 
sion into the field for them in particular. The consequence 
has been to send the wary old, mature individuals of the spe- 
cies around some other way, or make them exceedingly 
arboreal in their habits in winter. For many years now, not 
less than nine in every ten of them seen or collected, have 
been the young of the year. Indeed, it is only occasionally met 
with in the sections alluded to, even in the first plumage now, 
but in the northern, swampier, and more heavily timbered 
sections, it is as well represented as ever, so far as I can learn 
from others and from personal observation. 

Sometimes earlier, but generally the first of these birds 
arrive from the north about the 15th of November. They 
remain until about the first of May, after which they are 
seldom seen. 

It is emphatically a Grouse Owl, as any one who examines 
the ingesta will readily see. It hunts its prey mostly in the 
twilight of evening and morning, but has equally good day 
vision, though manifestly preferring cloudy days when much 
exposed. The nearly complete white plumage is only attained 
in the third or fourth year. 

Mr. Lewis found them "rather common for the species" in 
Becker county, and at Leech lake the 19th to 23d of Octo- 
ber. Mr. Washburn met them "occasionally" in Otter Tail 
between October ninth and November tenth. Specimens of the 
young were obtained during March and April, and in Novem- 
ber of the present year (1887), within a few miles of Min- 
neapolis and St. Paul. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill nearly concealed by projecting plumes; eyes large; 
entire plumage white, frequently with a few spots or imperfect 
bands, only on the upper parts dark brown, and on the under 
parts with a few irregular and imperfect bars of the same; 
quills and tail with a few spots, or traces of bands of the same i 
dark brown; the prevalence of the dark brown color varies 
much in diiferent specimens; frequently both upper and under 



i 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 219 

parts are very distinctly banded transversely, and sometimes 
this color predominates on the back; jilumage of the legs and 
toes pure snowy white; bill and claws horn color; irides 
yellow. 

Length (female), 26; wing, 17 to 19; tail, 10. 

Habitat. Northern portions of Northern Hemisphere. 

SURMA ULFLA CAPAROCH (Muller). (377a.) 
AMERICAN HAWK OWL. 

I have never seen the Hawk Owl in the flesh more than once, 
but I have found it mounted in the collections of local taxider- 
mists many times since my residence in the State. It really 
looks "more a hawk than an owl," but its habits of hunting in 
the day-time — notably cloudy, gloomy days — makes it seem so 
* more than do its looks. Its southern migration from its reputed 
arctic home must be considerably into the winter, for all the 
specimens I have known of having been taken have been well 
on towards spring, and in March I believe, — possibly one in 
early April, which is occasionally as much winter as is March. 

As it breeds in New England, it may do so here. Its food is 
birds and mice principally. None have been reported to me 
as having been seen later than early April, as already inti- 
mated. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Wings rather long; first three quills incised on their inner 
webs; tail long, with its central feathers a.bout two inches 
longer than the outer tarsi, and toes densely feathered; upper 
parts fuliginous-brown, with numerous partially concealed cir- 
cular spots of white on the neck behind, scapulars and wing 
coverts; face grayish white; throat white with longitudinal 
stripes of dark brown; a large brown spot on each side of the 
breast; other under parts with transverse lines or stripes of 
pale ashy-brown; quills and tail brown, with transverse bands 
of white; bill pale-yellowish; irides yellow; color of upper 
parts darker on the head, and the white markings more or less 
numerous in different specimens. 

Length (female), 16 to 17; wing, 9; tail, 7. 

Habitat, Arctic America. 

Note. — The Hawk Owl has come under my eye so often since 
writing the foregoing, that I cannot regard it as really rare 
any longer. I have met with them in November three times in 
eight years, within seven miles of Minneapolis, and found sev- 
eral in the taxidermists" collections during the same period. 

L. P. H. 



Order COCCYGES. 



Family CUCULID^. 

COCCYZUS AMERICANUS (L.). (387.) 
YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO. 

This widely distributed species had escaped my observation 
long after the Black-billed Cackoo had become exceedingly 
familiar to me here, but in the spring of 1867 I met with a 
pair on the 30th of April, in some brushland bordering the 
heavy timber within a mile of the Mississippi river at Min- 
neapolis. Having secured them both, I made exceptional 
efforts to find others, which however proved unavailing, and I 
was thus left to the presumption that they were probably 
stragglers until the next year, when to my great joy, I found 
them again on the 14th of May, in the timber but a short dis- 
tance from one of our small, beautiful lakes, not two miles 
from where I first saw the others a year earlier. This time 
they were breeding. The nest, constructed of dry sticks, 
loosely interwoven and covered with some moss and catkins 
from the blossoming trees, was placed on a horizontal limb of 
an oak about seven feet from the ground. It contained four 
greenish-blue eggs. 

Prom that time until the present, I have see them at irregu- 
lar intervals, but it is not a common species in any section I 
have personally explored. 

A friend of mine, much interested in the habits of familiar 
species, had the fortune to secure a nest at Lake Minnetonka, 
under very simular circumstances, a year later. Mr. Lewis 
says of this species, "Common at Pelican lake, Becker 
county." He was familiar with the Black-billed Cuckoo, and 
could scarcely have been mistaken between the two birds. Mr. 
Howling as well as several others of our taxidermists have had 
specimens in their collections from time to time. They are 



I. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 221 

not a very wild, or over- cautious bird and yet are more arbor- 
eal in their habits than the Black- billed Cuckoos. They leave 
the country soon after the first sharp frosts of autumn. 

Their food consists largely of catterpillers, larvse, and 
smaller forms of insects. 

Whenever I have seen this bird it has invariably been in the 
timber, where thickets prevail, and I have almost uniformly 
found it on the ground apparently feeding upon insects and 
larvae. It would slip into the thicket instantly, through open- 
ings so small as to seem impossible to a bird of so great exten- 
sion of its wings. As soon as well concealed, perhaps not 
twenty yards away, it would remain perfectly motionless until, 
with my field glass I could find and note it at my leisure, so 
long as I made no advance. 

I have been disappointeJ in not getting more reports of this 
species from other sections of the State, and must think the 
reason is its extreme shyness, and not its total absence. I 
know of no other bird of its marked proportions which is so 
difficult to observe, for the reasons mentioned. 

It will be driven a mile without appearing in sight above the 
brushy thickets it frequents, slipping alike through the peril- 
ous meshes of a thorn-bush and a prickly ash. I have pursued 
them in this manner until an opening compelled them to 
expose themselves for a moment, when they would fly as near 
the ground as possible to the next thicket, in which passage 
lay my only opportunity in securing them. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper mandible and tip of lower, black; rest of lower man- 
dible and cutting edges of upper, yellow; upper parts metallic 
greenish- olive, slightly tinged with ashy toward the bill; be- 
neath white; tail feathers (except the median, which are like 
the back), black, tipped with white about an inch on the outer 
feathers, the external one with the outer edge almost entirely 
white; quills orange-cinamon; the terminal portion and a gloss 
on the outer webs, olive; iris brown. 

Length, 12; wing, 5.95; tail, 6.35. 

Habitat, temperate North America. 

COYCCZUS ERYTHROPHTHALMUS (Wilson). (388.) 

BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO. 

This species is, and has ever been a more regular summer 
resident than the Yellow billed Cuckoo, reaching us about the 
25th of April, often a little earlier or a little later. In common 
with the other species of cuckoo, the male precedes the female 



222 NOTES ON THE 

about a week or ten days, and they mate very soon after her 
arrival. Its habits differ from the other mostly in its prefer- 
ence for open places, and cultivated fields, while that is more 
reclusive, occupying the forests mainly. 

The nest of this species is quite uniformly located in a bush 
or small tree, and is constructed of roots, twigs, leaves, cat- 
kins and moss.* They lay four eggs, also greenish-blue, but 
of considerable darker shade than those of the Yellow-billed 
Cuckoo. 

The notes sent me by correspondents nearly all testify to 
the presence of this bird during the season of incubation. 

Mr. Washburn found it still in the Red river valley about 
the first of September. It generally remains until from the 
15th to the 20th of that month, and disappears as silently as it 
came. 

Dr. Hvoslef reports it at Lanesboro on the 25th of May, when 
of course it was presumptively breeding. Professor Herrick 
made a note of this species in his collections for the museum 
of the State University in 1875. Indeed it is a common species 

of its genus. 

It prefers the vicinity of damp, shaded places, in the borders 
of w^ooded tracts, more commonly, but is often found in the 
fields and gardens, or on grass patches, surrounded by 
thickets. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill entirely black; upper parts generally of a metallic green- 
ish-olive, ashy towards the base of the bill; beneath pure white, 
with a brownish yellow tinge on the throat; inner webs of the 
quills tinged with cinnamon; under surface of all the tail 
feathers hoary ash-gray; all beneath the central on either side, 
suffused with darker, to the short, bluish- white, and not well 
defined tip; a naked red skin around the eye; iris hazel. 

Length, 12; wing, 5; tail, 6.50. 

Habitat, eastern North America. 



*Several instances have now been reported to me, and I have observed one person- 
ally, where the nest was placed on the trunk of a decaying log, and the one I found 
consisted only of dry sticks and catkins of the maple, while those reported embraced 
roots, twigs and grass in their structure. In another instance I saw a Black-billed 
Cuckoo sitting in the middle of an obsolete cow path in the woods, and as it did not 
fly at sight of me, I approached it cautiously, thinking perhaps it was wounded, and I 
could not have been more than ten feet from it when it threw out one wing and the 
corresponding leg, and fluttered along just out of my reach until thirty feet away 
before it disappeared in the thicket, but I had not been deceived, for two character- 
istic eggs had been left completely exposed on the spot she left. All indications of a 
nest were absent, and the eggs were fresh, as their blowing afterwards proved. 

I looked carefully for the remains of a nest possibly destroyed by an enemy, but I 
could find none, nor was I successful in finding a mate near. 

This was on the 14th of May, 1877. It was remarkable, and quite inexplicable to me. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 223 

Family ALCEDINID^. 

CERYLE ALCYON (L.). (390.) 

BELTED KINGFISHER. 

This quaint fisherman is an early migrant, reaching Minne 
sota about the first of April. In some springs it has come on 
the 5th of March, (1883), then the 26th. once on the 29th, then 
on the 15th of April, &c. Its autumnal disappearance is quite 
as irregular; in one season going as late as Nov. 3d, in another, 
Dec. 5th, and so on, but usually going about the last of October, 

They mate soon after their arrival, and are soon engaged in 
excavating a hole in the bank of a stream or lake, to the depth 
of about six feet, where they often make a square angle, and 
carry it a foot or two farther. There they enlarge it somewhat, 
and build in the extremity a nest composed of grasses, leaves 
and feathers. 

This hole and nest is also used as a resting place at night, 
after the young are matured. It is a little remarkable that a 
family reared so associated together, can become completely 
disorganized as soon as the young are fully developed, yet it is 
a patent fact that by the first of September, all relations are 
dissolved, and each individual henceforth fishes alone. 

Nowhere that my investigations have been extended, has 
this curious crank of the bird kingdom, been found absent from 
his chosen haunts at the season of his summer visitations. 

In the proper place I should have said that they lay six pure 
white, nearly spherical eggs, which require sixteen days for 
incubation. 

. Their clamatorial rattle, is too familiar to everybody to re- 
quire notice. Like many another good fisherman, "poor 
Alcie" is often compelled to retire on a light supply of fish 
diet, but it does not take him as long to dry out and get warm 
as it does the others. If the small fry are running lively, his 
stone-like drop from an overhanging limb, is a pretty certain 
antecedent to a rise with a minnow, crosswise in his bill; but 
when he is compelled to wait fifteen, twenty and thirty minutes 
for a single one to put in an appearance, he is not very certain 
of his game. I have seen them strike half a dozen times before 
securing one. His history would need a volume to half tell it. 



224 NOTES ON THE 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head with a long crest; above blue, without metallic lustre; 
beneath with a concealed band across the occiput, and a spot 
anterior to the eye, pure white; a band across the breast, and 
the sides of the body under the wings, like the back; primaries 
white on the basal half, the terminal unspotted; tail with trans- 
verse bands and spots of white. 

Young with the sides of the body, and a transverse band across 
the belly below the pectoral one, light chestnut; the pectoral 
band more or less tinged with the same. 

Length, 12.75; wing, 6; tail short. 

Habitat. North America. 



Oi der PICI. 



Family PICID^E. 

DRY0B4TES TILLOSIS (L ). (393.) 
HAIRY WOODPECKER. 

The Hairy Woodpecker must be accepted as a permanent 
resident with the qualification that he numerously visits more 
northern sections in summer. Enough remain to retain per- 
manent proprietorship for the family, however. Nesting- 
holes are excavated in old, partially decayed trees, at different 
elevations as availability may determine, and some half a yard 
in depth, in the bottom of which are deposited four or five 
clear white, smooth, thin-shelled eggs, with somewhat of a 
roseate tint. No soft materials underly them except fine chips 
of rotten wood perhaps. 

The nidification of this species is said to be more observable 
in the northern counties, but certainly it is by no means com- 
mon through the southern, or middle counties. Its winter dis- 
tribution is restricted to the dense forests, notably the pine 
districts. 

In the latter days of February usually, individuals of this 
species, often accompanied by a pair of the Downy Woodpeck- 
ers make their appearance about our outhouses and shrubbery, 
but they pay only brief visits until somewhat later, when they 
are seen more frequently, and remain longer when they come. 
When the genial suns of May have made the world once more 
all beautiful, they disappear for nidification. Then they must 
be sought for in the forest principally, although occasionally a 
pair by some means, ignores specific conventionalities, and 
builds in the end of a fence rail not a hundred yards from a 
dwelling, or in a hole in a fruit tree not half that distance 
away. They have been known to breed on the campus of the 
State University as early as the 3d of May, but that is nearly 
two weeks earlier than some enter upon nest building. 



226 NOTES ON THE 

Reports of their presence, come from every portion of the 
wooded sections of the State heard from, which I have not per- 
sonally visited. Dr. Hvoslef at Lanesboro, Prof. Herrick at 
Lake Shetak, Rev. Mr. Laurie at Duliith, Mr. Washbarn at 
Mille Lacs, and in Otter Tail County, where he says; "Exceed- 
ingly common, and permanent residents." He further states 
that he "found it at Georgetown, Ada, and at St. Vincent." 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Wilsons' specific description of this common species is the 
only one I have ever seen, and I but follow an almost uniform 
example in giving it as follows: — "The Hairy Woodpecker is 
nine inches long, and fifteen in extent; crown black; line over 
and under the eye white; the eye is placed in a black line that 
widens as it descends to the back; hind head scarlet, some- 
times intermixed with black; nostrils hid under remarkably 
thick, bushy, recumbent hairs, or bristles; under the bill are 
certain long hairs thrown forward and upward; bill bluish 
horn color, grooved, wedged at the end, straight and about 
an inch and a quarter long; touches of black proceeding from 
the lower mandible, end in a broad black stripe that joins the 
black on the shoulder; back black, divided by a broad, lateral 
stripe of white, the feathers composing which, are loose and 
unwebbed, resembling hairs, whence its name; rump and 
shoulders black; wings black tipped and spotted with white, 
three rows of spots being visible on the secondaries, and five 
on the primaries; greater wing coverts also spotted with white; 
tail as in the others, cuneiform, consisting of ten strong shaf- 
ted and pointed feathers, the four middle ones black, the next 
partially white, the two exterior ones white, tinged at the tip 
with a brownish, burnt color; tail coverts black; whole lower 
side pure white; legs, feet and claws, light blue, the latter 
remarkably large and strong; inside of mouth, flesh colored; 
tongue pointed, beset with barbs and capable of being pro- 
truded more than an inch and a half; the oshyodes in this 
species, passes on each side of the neck, ascends the skull, 
passes down toward the nostril, and is wound round the bone 
of the right eye. which projects considerably more than the 
left, for its accomodation. The great mass of hairs that cover 
the nostril, appears to be designed as a projection to the front 
of the head, when the bird is engaged in digging holes into 
the wood." 

This species, in common with two or three ofchers of the fam- 
ily, is popularly credited with sucking the sap of fruit and 
ornamental trees, which, however, has been abundantly dis- 
proved, but not until the name sajjsucker became a common 
aj)pellation. If there had been any just ground for the ungra- 
cious charge, it should not fall upon this species, on account of 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 227 

its unsocial habits, which mostly isolate it from the habitations 
of man, but upon its near relative, the Downy Woodpeclcer, 
which clings to the vicinity of our dwellings when they are 
surrounded with shrubbery and trees. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head, back of neck, sides of back, wings, and central tail 
feathers black; stripe above and below the eye, the lower ex- 
tending up the side of the neck; stripe down the middle of back, 
side-feathers of tail, under parts and round spots in rows across 
the wings, white; the male having two bright red spots in the 
white stripes on the back of the head. 

Length, 9; wings, 5; tail, 3.50; bill, 1.12; foot, 1.65. 

Habitat. Middle portion of eastern portion of United States, 
from the Atlantic to the Great Plains. 

DRYOBATES PUBESCENS (L.). (394.) 
DOWNY WOODPECKER. 

This seems to be but a small edition of the other Dryobates 
until we study his habits and characteristics somewhat atten- 
tively, when we find he is a better carpenter, cutting his hole 
into harder wood, leaving the entrance much more artistically 
finished, and in giving the first few inches of its descent into 
the tree, an inclination before it takes a perpendicular course 
for the remaining foot. The excavation is made abundantly 
capacious for the nest, and left as smoothly surfaced as if a 
carpenter of a higher genus had performed the work. And 
instead of dumping the chips at the entrance, he distributes 
them at sufficient distance from the tree to prevent any signs 
of house building for enemies to avail themselves of. In addi- 
tion to these distinguishing traits, these birds are content to 
remain about the districts of their habitual dwelling places for 
nidification, and rearing their young. It is almost unparalleled 
amongst its own family for its strength, energy, diligence, per- 
severance, and absence of fear. The earliest I have succeeded 
in securing eggs has been about the 25th of May, but I believe 
it occasionally deposits them earlier. Late in fall, in winter, 
and in early spring, this species is much associated with the 
Titmice and Nuthatches in their rambles for food, both of 
which it usually leads in the hunt. In severe winter weather 
the whole group keep to the evergreen swamps very closely 
until it relaxes, when they make up time in the deciduous for- 
ests. On the whole, it is not quite as numerous as its near rela- 
tive, but far more social. 



228 NOTES ON THE 

Mr. Washburn found that species -'exceedingly common, 
both in Otter Tail and Mille Lacs," while this "was not very 
common.'' Lumbermen in the uninhabited pineries become 
greatly attached to this woodpecker on account of its habit of 
following them in their work. Considerable numbers of them, 
associated with Nuthatches and Titmice, visit their camps al- 
most daily. They are occasionally seen in the most central 
part of the city in March on sunny days. They were reported 
fairly common at Lanesboro in the severest part of the winter. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Above black, with a white band down the back; two white 
stripes on the side of the head; the lower of opposite sides 
always separated, the upper sometimes confluent on the nape; 
two stripes of black on the side of the head, the lower one not 
running into the forehead; beneath white; wing much spotted 
with white; the larger coverts with two series each; tertiaries 
or inner secondaries, all banded with white; two outer tail 
feathers white, with two bands of black at the end, third, 
white at the tip and externally. Male with red terminating 
the white-feathers on the nape; legs and feet bluish- green; 
claws light-blue, tipped with black; iris dark hazel. 

Length, 6.25; wings, 3.75. 

Habitat, northern and eastern North America. 

PICOIDES ARCTIOUS (Swainson). (400.) 

ARCTIC THREE- TOED WOODPECKER. 

This is not a common Woodpecker in any part of the State, 
but more nearly so in the Lake Superior, and northern pinery 
regions than the middle and southern districts. An occasional 
individual migrating somewhat southerly in winter, gets into 
the hands of collectors as far south as Minneapolis, as they 
are to be seen in the collections of the taxidermists in both St. 
Paul and Minneapolis, and have been ever since 1 have resided 
here. The only specimens which I have obtained have been 
one sent from Duluth*, and another from the pineries, some- 
what east of Mille Lacs. They were both adult males. It has 
been said that this species exhibits a preference for swamps. 



* Prof. W. W. Cook wrote me that he shot a female of this species May 23, 1881, near 
Detroit, in Becker county, which contained large, well developed ova. It was in a 
clump of dead pines that were full of holes. 

Mr. Washhurn secured a specimen at Mille Lacs. I hear that the eggs of this bird 
have been obtained recently in Mille Lacs, but have not seen them. Parties living in 
the vicinity of Princeton seem to think it not a very rare bird in the sandy, pine 
region, near that place, and that its habits in no way distinguish it from any other 
Woodpeckers. The markings however do, so that there is little reason to doubt its 
identy upon their description, I think. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 229 

but upon what authority I am unable to say. It is a well 
known characteristic of all the Woodpeckers remaining over 
winter, to resort to the thickets in the denser forests during the 
rigorous periods of winter, where they secure the most complete 
protection. But this does not constitute a specific character- 
istic habit. Many species in several different orders of birds 
do so. showing that it is not even a generic trait. So far as I 
have been able to learn, this bird affects dry and preferably 
elevated portions of coniferous forests. When collecting birds 
at Lake Tahoe, in the Sierra Nevada mountains, in April and 
May, 1870, at an elevation of nearly 8,000 feet, this woodpecker 
was rather a common species. Again, in the Cascade moun- 
tains, east of Portland, I met with it no less frequently last 
May. I have never heard its note, and know nothing of its 
special breeding habits. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Above entirely uniform glossy bluish-black; a square patch 
on the middle of the crown, saffron yellow and a few spots on 
the outer edges of both webs of the primary and secondary 
quills; beneath white on the sides of the breast, longitudinally 
striped, ^and on the sides of the belly and on the flanks and 
tibial region, banded transversely with black; a narrow con- 
cealed white line from the eye a short distance backward, and 
a white stripe from the extreme forehead (meeting anteriorly) 
under the eye, and down the sides of the neck; bristly feathers 
of the base of the bill brown ; exposed portion of the two outer 
tail feathers (first and second) white; bill bluish black, and 
the lower mandible grayish-blue; iris bluish-black. 

Length, 9.50; wing, 5; tail 3.85. 

Habitat, northern North America from the Arctic regions 
south to the northern border of the United States; much fur- 
ther south in the western parts, embracing Nevada and 
California, along the mountain ranges. 

PICOIDES AMERICANUS Brehm. (401.) 
AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER. 

I enter this species upon rumor, having never had the bird 
in my own hands for indentification. I am credibly informed 
that several specimens have been obtained on what is called 
"the north shore," that is of Lake Superior, a portion of the 
western extremity of which extends into Minnesota. 

I presume that they have been reported, and have received 
a place in the proceedings of some eastern scientific journal 
which I have not seen, as they were obtained, I understand, 
for the museum of some institution of learning there. But the 



230 NOTES ON THE 

fact that they have been obtained at a lower latitude in Wis- 
consin, adjoining us, and in Massachusetts, and that Richard- 
son found them on that "north shore," I feel justified in this 
instance to record the species upon rumor. I have not the 
slightest doubt but what it belongs to our fauna, and that 
future observers will find it not very rare. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Black above; the back with transverse bands of white to the 
rump; a white line from behind the eye, widening on the nape, 
and a broader one under the eye from the loral region, but 
not extending on the forehead; occiput and sides of the head 
uniform black; quills spotted on both webs with white; under 
parts white; the sides banded transversely with black; top of 
the head spotted with white; the crown of the male with a 
yellow patch; bill bluish black; iris dark hazel. 

Length, 8 to 9; wing, 4.45 to 4.50; tail, 3.35 to 3.50. 

Habitat, northern North America, from the arctic regions 
southward, in winter to the northern United States. 

SPHYRAPICUS VARIUS (L.). (402.)2 CJ 

YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER. 

This woodpecker is fairly common throughout the wooded 
districts, arriving from the first to the fifteenth of April. 
Those familiar with the species recognize its presence at once 
by its hammering or drumming of its strong bills on the larger 
limbs and trunks of partially dead trees. It is said to be a 
diversion of which they are peculiarly fond, and not as for- 
merly supposed, the zealous effort of a hungry woodpecker to 
get a morsel to eat. Their note is exceptionally loud, spirited 
and distinct, but less voluble than some of the other species. 
Their food consists of larvae buried underneath the outer bark 
of trees and insects of the smaller species, to which some add 
the sap of trees of various kinds. This latter habit may pos- 
sibly be the case when they are more thirsty than hungry. A 
number of other species have been charged with destroying 
valuable trees by tapping them too extensively for food. The 
question has not yet been definitely settled and possibly may 
not be for a good while. My own observations have inclined 
me away from the sap -food theory. 

They mate about the first of May and by the twentieth the 
nest has been excavated in the trunk of a large tree, perfectly 
sound or partially decayed, and from forty to sixty feet from 
the ground in many cases, but occasionally much lower. As a 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 281 

general thing- it is located on the southerly side and directly 
underneath a large limb, but not invariably so. Still I have 
never yet met with an instance of its being on the north side 
of the tree. 

They seem to manifest no choice between the borders, or the 
interior of the forests, only that the tree chosen more com- 
monly is one of considerable size. Both sexes participate in 
the excavation of the nest, which in a green or a very dry tree, 
is sometimes a tedious and prolonged undertaking. The work- 
manship in such cases is highly artistic, looking more as if a 
carpenter of a higher order and genus, with modern tools, had 
performed it. They lay four pure- white eggs. When the young 
come out, and have become considerably grown, they creep 
out onto the outside of the tree and larger branches daily until 
strong enough to fly, after which the whole family hunt to- 
gether until about the 10th of October, when they move off 
southward to winter. That they sometimes rear a second 
brood in the same season seems almost certain, as I have found 
young birds as late as the fifth of October, and Mr. M. W. Van- 
denburg, of Fort Edward, N. Y. , who was visiting this city in 
1870, reported a young bird of this species on the 17th of that 
month. But this is certainly very exceptional. 

Mr. Lewis found them one of the most common woodpeckers 
of Becker and Cass counties, breeding in June. Mr. Washburn 
reported them as common at Georgetown, about the first of 
August. Dr. Hvoslef mentions them as at Lanesboro, but does 
not speak of their relative frequency. Prof. Herrick found 
them at Lake Shetak, and Mr. Treganowan at Big Stone. But 
I was a little surprised that Mr. U. S. Grant, assistant of Prof. 
Winchell on the geological survey, did not find them in either 
St. Louis, Lake or Cook counties, in the northeastern portion 
of the state. His observations embraced the month of August, 
when if the species is represented there at all, they certainly 
must have fallen under his notice, as they were then moving 
about supposably in family groups of five or six, embracing 
parents and young. 

Becker and Cass counties are nearly as far north as those 
where Mr. Grant made his valuable observations, so that the 
question of mere latitude gives no explanation for their absence. 
Besides, it is well known that "Sir John Richardson found it 
common in the fur countries," (N. A. Birds, p. 540,) very much 
further to the north, Kennicott makes no mention of them at 
the Lake of the Woods, although it was as late, when he was 
there, as the bird has been reported in the Saskatchewan. 

161-. 



232 NOTES ON THE 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Fourth quill longest; third a little shorter; first considera- 
bly shorter; general color above black, much variegated with 
white; feathers of the back and rump brownish- white, spotted 
with black; crown scarlet, bordered by black on the sides of the 
head and nape ; a streak from above the eye. and another from 
the bristles of the bill, passing below the eye and into the yel- 
lowish of the belly, ancl a stripe along the edges of the wing 
coverts, white; a triangular broad spot of scarlet on the chin, 
bordered on each side by black stripes from the lower mandi- 
ble, which meet behind and extend into a large quadrate spot 
on the breast; rest of under parts yellowish-white, streaked on 
the sides with black; inner web of inner tail-feather, white 
spotted with black; outer feathers black, edged and spotted 
with white. Female with the red of the throat replaced by 
white. Iris dark hazel. 

Length, 8.25; wing, 4.75; tail, 3.30. 

Habitat, North America, north and east of the Great Plains. 

CEOPHLCEUS PILEATUS (L.). (405.) 
PILEATED WOODPECKER. 

This is a magnificent bird as seen in his own haunts in the 
forest. I shall not soon forget the occasion, nor the scene 
which embraced the species as the central figure. It was a 
stirring, crisp, October morning in the heavy forest belt lying 
west of Minneapolis about twenty miles, where I was putting 
in a day amongst the Ruffed Grouse which then literally 
abounded there. My attention was at first arrested by a ham- 
mering that resembled that of the Woodpeckers except in its 
being so much louder. It was, however, so continuous that I 
determined to ascertain its source. I had a dog with me that 
was coursing unrestrained through the woods. He evidently 
had preceded me in an endeavor to investigate the source of the 
hammering, and at the moment of my decision, had flushed the 
bird, which came directly to a tree not more than twenty yards 
distant from where I was standing as still as a statue. It did 
not discover me, but in an attitude of suspense, and listening 
to the footfalls of the dog, which had now no idea of where it 
was, it gave me an exhibition of itself which .Audubon would 
have gone to Halifax to see, in which it remained motionless, 
long enough to have been "taken with a slow plate," and in 
which I can never more forget him. notwithstanding having 
seen him many times since then in almost every other attitude 
possible to even a woodpecker. Presently the dog drew nearer, 
and then he began to prance around the trunk of the majestic 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 238 

maple on which he had perched, in such a manner as to keep 
the tree between himself and the dog, which brought him suc- 
cessively into, and out of view, as the dog circled about us on 
the scent of grouse with his eyes and nose downward, in total 
forgetfulness of the woodpecker, which the latter did not fail 
to perceive. A finer study in natural history I never enjoyed, 
nor hope to, and it cost me a momentary severe struggle to 
draw trigger upon such a central figure in such a scene. 

In those days of sporting and collecting combined, I enjoyed 
repeated opportunities for hearing their hammerings, and their 
sonorous notes, that were distinct a mile away, when there was 
no undue disturbance by the wind. 

I never climbed to the hole in which the eggs are deposited, 
but I have utilized the climbing son of a farmer residing in the 
forest west of Minnetonka, who explored several for me from 
time to time. The hole is excavated out of the trunk of a dead, 
and partially decayed tree, and is usually about half a yard in 
depth, much larger at the bottom than at the entrance, and 
contains no materials except the chips of the excavation to a 
limited amount. Onto these are deposited the five to six, clear, 
large white eggs, which are brought out by the alternate incu- 
bation of the two birds. This nest is first entered about the 
first to the tenth of April. 

The food of the Pileated Woodpeckers does not materially 
differ from that of other woodpeeckers. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Fourth and fifth quills equal and longest, third intermediate 
between the sixth and seventh; bill blue black; general color of 
body, wings and tail, dull greenish-black; a narrow white 
streak from just above the eye to the occiput, a wider one from 
the nostril feathers (inclusive) under the eye and along the side 
of the head and neck; side of the breast, (concealed by the 
wing), axillaries under wing coverts, and concealed bases of all 
the quills, with chin, and beneath the head, white, tinged with 
sulphur yellow; entire crown, from the base of the bill to a well 
developed occipital crest, as also a patch on the ramus of the 
lower jaw, scarlet-red; a few white crescents on the sides of 
the body, and on the abdomen; iris very dark hazel. Female 
without the red on the cheek, and the anterior half of that on 
the top of the head, replaced by black. 

Length, 18; wing, 9.50; tail, 7. 

Habitat, formerly the whole wooded region of North America; 
now rare in all and extirpated in many. 



234 NOTES ON THE 

MELANERPES ERYTHROCEPftALUS (L.) (406.) 
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER. 

In the spring of 1869, I found these birds on the campus of 
the State University as early as March 14th, and from that 
time, an occasional one also in a cluster of burr oaks, 
(Q. illicifolia), on an elevated suburb of the city, until about 
the first of May, after which they came in greater numbers, 
and from the tenth to the fifteenth, constructed their nests. 
They cannot be called a numerous species here, although fairly 
represented in a good many sections. The date of their first 
arrival varies exceedingly in different years. Prom 1858 to the 
year before mentioned, no local records show them to have come 
earlier than the twentieth of April, and there was one year 
when none were seen until the twelfth of May, when they were 
simultaneously observed at every point with which I had cor- 
respondence. This unusual delay was not produced by the 
infelicity of the season, for it was not an exceptionally cold, or 
a specially late one. The cause remains a mystery to me. 

About the twelfth of May they commence to excavate a hole 
in a tree, either in the neighborhood of dwellings or in the 
woods, as the case may require, in which labor the sexes en- 
gage with great industry and perseverancie until the work is 
done. The hole is about half a yard in depth, and is larger at 
its extremity, from which to the entrance it is gradually tapered 
to the smallest capacity practicable for the entrance of the birds. 
It is without lining of any kind, except a few chips left by the 
carpenter, and in due time receives five or six very beautiful, 
clear white eggs. The surface of the eggs is remarkably 
polished — a characteristic common to the family, I think. 
The observation of young birds as late as the first of July gives 
a reasonable presumption that they rear two broods, but this 
may be from having been robbed of the first nest, or the ex- 
treme delay of the vernal migration. 

Their habits are so well known that it seems useless to 
record them here. Like nearly all other members of the 
family they are under the charge of destroying trees by suck- 
ing their sap — the most imbecile slander which ever lived half 
so long. Their mouth parts have not a single adaptation to 
such a use as that of sucking, yet they may possibly eat the 
inner bark, or alburnum, in botanical parlance. Still, I do not 
believe they do even that, for the testimony of abundant ob- 
servers worthy of our highest confidence is that the boring is 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. "IHS 

only incidental, and unavoidable to their destruction of insects 
which are the real destroyers of the trees, and whose work is 
usually charged to the woodpeckers. They cannot equally be 
defended against the charge of destroying fruit sometimes, but 
we can afford them a reasonable apology when we credit them 
with the destruction of so many of its worst enemies. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head and neck all around crimson red, margined by a narrow 
crescent of black on the upper part of the breast; back, pri- 
mary quills and tail bluish-black: under parts generally, a 
broad band across the middle of the wing, and the rump, 
white; iris hazel; bill and feet bluish-black. 

Sexes alike. 

Length, 9.75; wing, 5.50; (tail not given). 

Habitat, United States, west to the Rocky mountains, strag- 
glers reaching Salt Lake valley; rare, or local east of the 
Hudson river. 

COLAPTES AURATUS (L ). (412 ) 
FLICKER. 

At once the most abundant, and extensively distributed of 
all of the woodpeckers which visit Minnesota. It reaches us 
early in April, and remains until late in October, individuals 
lingering not altogether infrequently into November. The 
dates through a series of annual records give March 28th 
April 1st, 5th, 8th, 10th, &c. 

I have heard rumors of individuals of this species having 
been seen at different times in the winter, but not sufficiently 
authenticated for unqualified acceptance. As I have known to 
be the case with several other even less hardy species, it is 
possible that a wound might have disabled the bird temporarily 
for its migratorial flight, and when able to endure it, find the 
winter upon it so fully as to intimidate it for the effort. It 
certainly is no place for such after the holidays. The places 
chosen for the nest may be on the whole a little more elevated, 
but otherwise their habits in no way differ from the others of 
its family. 

The nests are constructed, and the full five to six pure white 
translucent eggs deposited by the 1st to the 10th of May. 

None other bird of its entire order is so welcome, coming 
back among the earliest after the severe, prolonged, irksome 
winter has finally gone, with its cheery hurrah, the nearest 
expression to which I can formulate being in hurric-ah, hur- 



236 NOTES ON THE 

ric-ah, hurric ah, repeated all the way from two or three, to 
seven or eight times in rather deliberate succession. But their 
common habits are too well known to require, or justify an 
attempt to describe them in a report which aims principally to 
establish identity, and characteristic local habits, more especi 
ally of less familiar species. 

Sometimes they levy a modest toll upon the shocks and 
stacks of the farmer, and thus come under the shadow of his 
anathemas, but their destruction of insects and worms is too 
invaluable to bring them absolutely under his proscription. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Shafts, under surfaces of wings, and tail feathers, gamboge- 
yellow; a black patch on each cheek; a red crescent on the 
nape; throat, and stripe beneath the eye, pale lilac brown; 
back glossed with olivaceous green; a crescentic patch on the 
breast, and rounded spots on the belly, black; back and wing 
coverts with interrupted transverse bands of black; neck above 
and sides ashy; bill slender, depressed at base, compressed; 
culmen much curved; pointed, but not truncate; nostrils basal, 
medium, oval, exposed; feet large; tail long, exceeding the 
secondaries, feathers acuminate. 

Length, 12.50; wing, 6. 

Habitat, northern and eastern North America, west to the 
eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains and Alaska. Occasional 
on the Pacific slope from California northward. 



Older MACPvOCHIRES. 



Family CAPRIMULGID^. 

ANTROSTOMrS VOCIFERUS (Wilson). (417.) 

WHIP-POOR-WILL. 

This weird night-bird, so familiar and so dear to all who 
have listened to its song in childhood, reaches southern Minne- 
sota generally about the first of May. and the latitude of Min- 
neapolis about five days later. It seems to be rather local in 
its distribution, choosing high, dry land forests, bordering 
lakes, streams, low lands and swamps, where its peculiar 
forms of insect food presumably most abounds, which consists 
largely of nocturnal moths and mosquitoes. Characteristic as 
is its song, giving the bird its vernacular name as it does, 
when an attempt is made to formulate it in words ears hear it 
differently, so that instead of the time honored lohip-poor-wiU, 
ivhip-poor-will, Langville hears cMck-koo-rhee. If quite near 
the bird at the time of its vociferations we often hear a 
preceding "chuck" that is not included in either form of word- 
ing. About the tenth of May the two characteristic eggs are 
layed on the ground without any signs of a nest except a 
slight hollowing of the earth, usually near an old decaying log. 
The ground color varies greatly in the depth of its shade, but is 
rather of a creamy -white in most cases and marbled or mottled 
with scratches and blotches of light brown and lavender. The 
eggs are nearly elliptical, giving either end nearly the same 
form. The Whip-poor-will leaves us as a general thing about 
the 10th of September, sometimes (1873) as late as the 20th, or 
even later. It was still present in the vicinity of Lanesboro, 
Fillmore county, on the 8th of October. 1884, as reported by 
Dr. Hvoslef . When a small boy I lived two years near a piece 
of heavily timbered woodland through which ran a stream of 
water. This bird, with many of other species, occupied those 



238 NOTES ON THE 

woods during the entire summer. Almost uniformly, as soon 
as it became dark, the Whip-poor-will came onto a log not 
more than twenty yards from the rear of the house and poured 
forth his song for an hour or two when he would disappear, or 
rather his notes would be discontinued until after midnight, 
then they would again ring out clear and sonorously antil the 
day dawned. I frequently caught sight of him in the bright 
moonlight nights and a few times in the twilight before he 
began his half-sad, half-cheery melody. They are rarely seen 
in the day time and then only by accident. At such times I 
have uniformly found them sitting either upon the ground or 
on an old log but slightly elevated above it. They are then 
apparently very stupid and will allow one to approach quite 
near them before flying, and when they do it is but a short 
distance to where they will alight again. They are universally 
distributed in timber and brush land over the State. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill remarkably small with tubular nostrils and the gape 
with long, stiff bristles; wings long, somewhat rounded, 
second quill longest, the primaries emarginated; tail rounded; 
plumage loose and soft. Bristles without lateral filaments; 
top of head ashy-brown, longitudinally streaked with black; 
terminal half of the tail feathers (except the four central) 
dirty-white on both outer and inner webs; iris dark hazel. No 
white on the tail of the female. 

Length, 10; wing, 6.50. 

Habitat, eastern United States to the plains. 

CHORDEILES VIRGINIANUS (Gmelin) (420) 

NIGHTHAWK. 

A very remarkable circumstance connected with this species 
was its appearance in Fillmore county on April 5th, 1884, (Dr. 
Hvoslef) and its disappearance again until May 12th. The 
time of its arrival has varied considerably through all the years 
of my personal observation of its habits here, but in no instance 
have I retained a record of it before the 30th of April. As a 
general thing, I have found them here first about the 10th of 
May, and not unfrequently as late as the 20th. In the early 
history of the city where I reside, great numbers of the night- 
hawks could be seen at evening, or rather, beginning a little 
before sunset, and extending quite into the twilight, evidently 
feeding upon the abounding mosquitoes, which have become 
almost extinct in the city of late years. On warm, cloudy days, 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 239 

a few of these peculiar birds may now be seen over the metrop- 
olis, between the first of June and the 20th of August, when 
they gather their young, now full plumaged, into flocks, and 
move off so openly that the final flight is not difficult to recog- 
nize. 

Like its wonderful cousin, the Whip-poor-will, it builds no 
nest, and seems to care little where the spot may be chosen to 
deposit its two eggs, from an opening in the dense woods to 
the corner of the cornfield or the back- pasture. The eggs are 
dirty-white in color, and dotted all over with obsolete slate- 
color and spots of lavender. The male divides the sacrifices of 
incubation with the female. 

In their search for food, which like the Swifts, is always on the 
wing, they may be seen rising to immense altitudes, where they 
course through the air in every direction, or descend to just 
above the tops of the loftiest forest trees, where they skim 
about, the very emblems of the grace of motion. During the 
mating and incubating season, the male has a habit of zigzaging 
his way upward to a considerable elevation, uttering a note 
which sounds like the syllable scape, slightly drawn out, and 
repeated about every three seconds, till he has attained his 
elevation, when he suddenly closes his wings, opens his capa- 
cious mouth, encircled with strong bristles, and head pointed 
directly downward, he descends with the velocity of a falling 
stone, to near the earth, producing a bellowing sound which 
culminates with a short, bold turn upward, from which, and 
his bat-like crepuscular habits, he obtains the inelegant cogno- 
men, "Bull bat," in the middle and southern states. Of gen- 
eral distribution throughout the state, they are quite restricted 
to localities, presumably determined by the kinds and quantities 
of their food. 

Reports from local observers establish their fairly common 
numbers in the Red river valley and the Mille Lacs regions, 
according to P. L. Washburn's Report. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Above, greenish black, with but little mottling on the head 
and back; wing coverts varied with grayish; scapulars with 
yellowish-rufous: a nuchal band of fine gray mottling, behind 
which is another coarser one of rufous spots; a white V-shaped 
mark on the throat; behind this a collar of pale rufous blotches, 
and another on the breast of grayish mottling; under parts 
banded transversely with dull yellowish, or reddish-white and 
brown; wing quills quite uniformly brown; the five outer pri- 



240 NOTES ON THE 

maries with a white blotch midway between the tip and carpal 
joint, not extending on the outer web of the outer quill; a ter- 
minal white patch. Female without the caudal white patch, 
and the throat mixed with reddish. 

Length, 9.50; wing, 8.20. 

Habitat, northern and eastern North America. 



Family MICROPODID^E. 

CHJITFRA PELAUICA (L.). (423). 
CHIMNEY SWIFT. 

The Chimney Swallow has long been as well represented by 
numbers as any other species relatively. They arrive from 
the 15th to the 20th of April, at first in rather limited numbers, 
as they are only the males, and at once select their gregarious 
quarters for perching and building their nests. The rapidity 
of their flight is such that there seems to be but a few hours 
difference in their appearance in all the localities systematic- 
ally reported. They pair at once after the arrival of the 
females, and immediately commence building their very remark- 
able nests. 

For several years in succession, a moderately large chimney 
in my own house was chosen by them for one district of the 
city, where they congregated in such numbers as only the 
appropriation of the whole length of a 55 foot chimney could 
have served. Becoming too numerous for their quarters the 
following year they selected a much larger one, devoted to 
ventilation, in a house heated by hot air, and never used for 
smoke, that was onlj'^ a block distant. The second season it 
was occupied, the attention of great numbers of persons was 
called to their place of nightly rendezvous, and I undertook to 
register the number of arrivals at the mouth of the chimney 
from sunset until darkness made it no longer possible. To 
approximate the actual number which spent the night there, 
I had to keep a tally of all individuals which left the chimney, 
and deduct the number from those that entered. According to 
that computation, not less than 450 swallows, and unquestionably 
over 500. spent their nights there. It being late in August, 
it is supposable that the entire brood of the season might have 
been matured enough to have been included. But they are 
not sufficient for all of their hordes to be dependant upon 
chimnies. as near my summer residence on Lake Minnetonka, 
I found a like number quartered in a large hollow tree, in the 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 241 

deep, dark forest which borders that beautiful lake. I appre- 
hend that esthetics have much less to do with the question 
where the chimney swallows stay, than does the quality and 
quantity of their insect supply for consumption. The nest is 
a prodigy of strength and construction against the elements. 
It consists of bits of roots and dry twigs, effectually cemented 
together with an animal secretion of the salivary glands of the 
bird, and is glued with the same onto the side of the bricks. 
The eggs, four to five in number, are the purest of white. The 
departure of the species varies from September 1st to the 25th; 
the last record in 1886 was October 5th, which was unpre- 
cedented in their local history. They are reported from eveiy 
part of the State as abundantly represented. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail short, slightly rounded, the shafts stiffened and extended 
some distance beyond the feathers in a rigid spine; first pri- 
mary longest; legs covered by a naked skin, without any 
scutellae or feathers; tarsus longer than middle toe; lateral 
toes equal, nearly as long as middle; hind toe scarcely versa- 
tile, or quite posterior, with the claw, less than the middle 
anterior without it; toes slender, claws moderate; feathers of 
the bill not extending beyond the beginning of the nostrils. 
Of a sooty brown all over except on the throat, which becomes 
considerably lighter from the breast to the bill; above with a 
greenish tinge; the rump a little paler. 

Length. 5.25; wing, 5.10; tail, 2.15. 

Habitat. Eastern North America. 

Family TROCHILID^. 

TROCHILIS COLITBRIS (L.). (428). 

RUBY-^THROATED HUMMINGBIRD. 

This is; the only representative of the hummingbirds which 
even straggles into the State so far as I am aware. It arrives 
about the 20th of May, — somewhat earlier in an occasional 
season, and semi-occasionally even five days later, and begins 
at once to build its pigmy but beautiful nest, which, however, 
is not made completely ready for occupation until the first 
week in June. It is a marvel of bird architecture, consisting of 
vegetable down of different shades of color, mixed with fine 
scales ol buds to make it firm, and elegantly overlaid with 
lichens, thus making it assimilate irregular growths of wood. 
It is usually saddled into a projecting limb of a bush, or shrub, 



242 NOTES ON THE 

the last one I met being on a rosebush at the border of the 
main walk from the street into a neighbor's house. For the 
exposed situation, it was a little exceptional, but it contained 
two very tiny, translucent, pure-white eggs, the patent number 
for the species. Its habits are too well known, and character- 
istic, to require consideration, except to say that the species 
has evidently greatly increased in numbers since I first came 
to the country. 

I have found it almost universally distributed, but much more 
numerous about the fields, gardens and dwellings, than in the 
wilder sections of the State. Individuals of the species linger 
occasionally far into October, as in one or two instances, they 
have made their appearance in April, and then disappeared 
again until the usual time for their arrival. The latest depar- 
ture recorded by any correspondent was Sept. 22, 1884, by Dr. 
Hvoslef at Lanesboro. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail deeply forked, the feathers all narrow lanceolate acute; 
uniform metallic green above; a ruby -red gorget with no con- 
spicuous ruff; a white collar on the throat; sides of body green- 
ish. 

Length, 3.25; wing, 1.60; tail, 1.25; bill, 0.65. 

Habitat, eastern North America to the plains. 



Order PASSERE8. 



Family TYRANNID^. 

TYRANNUS TYRANNUS (L.). (444.) 
KINGBIRD. 

Everywhere one may g'o in this State he is sure of seeing the 
kingbird, as he is abundantly represented in all sections from 
about the first of May until the tenth of September. A few 
occasionally linger a little later. The males arrive in spring 
some ten days before the females, in parties of five or six. The 
females come more numerously but more slyly. No time is to 
be lost after they arrive in this latitude, so that unions for the 
summer are hastily made, and the selection of a place where 
to build the nest at once commenced upon. This decided, 
which takes considerable time occasionally, the nest is soon 
made, both working at it constantly until completed. It is var- 
iously placed upon the wild plum trees, the corner of the log 
stable, in an alder, on a stump. It consists of twigs, roots, 
coarse grasses, mosses and weeds, and is lined with fine roots, 
grasses and horse hair. About the 28th of May the eggs are 
laid, and when the young birds open their five little mouths 
the parents have lively work to keep them supplied until able 
to secure food for themselves. The ground color of the eggs 
is a delicate creamy white, with irregular spots of various 
shades of brown and lavender. 

The kingbird is a typical fly-catcher, seizing his food when 
on the wing, which of course consists mostly of insects in 
flight. 

It has been remarked of this species, as of all the true fly- 
catchers, that it seems to have been their special mission to 
sieze only those insects which are in passage from one tree or 
shrub to another, while the task of taking those which are con- 
cealed in hidden places like the bark and foliage, is assigned 



244 NOTES ON THE 

to the woodpeckers, warblers, &c. In capturing an insect, the 
kingbird dashes from his perch directly toward his game, till 
near it, when he hovers a moment before he takes it as if to 
decide whether it is the one he is looking for, but he generally 
decides very promptly that it is, and returns directly to his 
former perch, unless, as is often the case, his winged morsel 
has led him in a brief chase some distance from the former, 
when he will occupy another perch. His courage in attacking 
other birds, from a robin or a jay, to a crow, hawk or eagle, is. 
without a peer among the birds of the country. The enemy 
seen, he "stays not on his going," but bends every muscle to 
the flight. When near his foe, he rises above him, and pounces 
down upon his devoted head, as if expecting to annihilate him. 
How much suffering he may be able to inflict, is a question, but 
certain it is his enemy acts as if he shared his brave aggressor's 
expectations, and turns and dives and dodges in all directions, 
until perhaps a mile away, the pugnacious little fellow leaves 
him with this practical hint that he need not come that way 
again, at least while the breeding season lasts that year. 

He is the best of friends to the farmer and gardener, destroy- 
ing countless numbers of insects especially prejudicial to those 
industries. His habit of taking the honey bees that come in 
his way, which has made him enemies among the bee-culturists, 
will need no special apology in Minnesota until honey has be- 
come a larger interest, and then the thinking will have con- 
ceded his value too well to make it necessary. 

The kingbirds, already in their restricted families, gather 
into loose communities in the latter part of the summer, and 
mostly leave immediately after the frost appears, which 
diminishes their food supply to such an extent as to justify 
their departure to warmer climes in Mexico and Central 
America. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Two, sometimes three outer primaries abruptly attenuated 
at the end; second quill longest; third little shorter; first 
rather longer than fourth, or nearly equal. Tail slightly 
rounded; above dark bluish-ash; the top and sides of the head 
to beneath the eyes bluish black; a concealed crest on the 
crown, Vermillion in the centre, white behind and before, par- 
tially mixed with orange; lower parts pure white, tinged with 
pale bluish-ash on the sides of the throat and across the 
breast; sides of the breast and under the wings similar to but 
rather lighter than the back; axillaries pale grayish brown 
tipped with lighter; the wings dark brown, darkest towards 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 245 

the ends of the quills; the greater coverts and quills edged 
with white, most so on the tertials; the lesser coverts edged 
with paler; upper tail coverts and upper surface of the tail 
glossy black, the latter very dark brown beneath; all the 
feathers tipped and the exterior margined externally with 
white, forming a conspicuous terminable band about twenty- 
five hundredths of an inch broad. 

Length. 8.50; wing, 4.65; tail, 3.70; tarsus, 0.75. 

Habitat, eastern North America from the British provinces 
south to Central and South America; rare west of the Rocky 
mountains. 



MYIIRCHUS CRINITUS (L ). (452). 

CRESTED FLYCATCHER. 

The Great Crested Flycatcher is a regular summer resident, 
arriving about the 10th of May. Although less abundant than 
the Kingbird it is very widely distributed where there is tim- 
ber. I hear of their presence in nearly every section of the 
timbered regions which I have not been able to personally 
visit, and I have visited none where I could spend a day or 
two that I did not find him. and always under much the same 
circumstances. 

The perching places, which have uniformly been in the near 
proximity to the nest, have been along the borders of rather 
tall timber adjoining a clearing more or less removed from 
thoroughfares and in the vicinity of lakes or streams. 

The nests are almost uniformly in a hollow trunk or limb of 
a tall tree, about sixty feet from the ground. For some reason 
they seem to prefer the elm. but occasionally another species 
is selected. During the period of incubation, indeed I may say 
during the remainder of their local history, their habits have 
little to make them differ from the Kingbird. Their food is 
essentially the same and they retire in small parties about the 
first to the tenth of September. They show the same charac- 
teristic fighting qualities of the smaller cousin, but they do 
not seem to work quite as hard to get a set-to as he does. 

Mr. Lewis found them as far north as Red lake and Mr. 
Washburn secured specimens at Thief river near Otter Tail 
lake. But they are perhaps a little more fully represented in 
the timbered sections bordering the streams and lakes of the 
southern counties of the State. 



246 NOTES ON THE 



SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 



Head with a depressed crest; third quill longest, second and 
fourth little shorter; first a little longer than seventh, much 
shorter than sixth; tail decidedly rounded, or even graduated, 
the lateral feather about one-fourth of an inch shorter; upper 
parts dull greenish-olive, with the feathers of the crown, and 
to some extent of the back, showing their brown centres; upper 
tail coverts turning to pale, rusty- brown; small feathers at the 
base of the bill, ceres, sides of the head as high as the upper 
eyelid, sides of the neck, throat, and forepart of the breast, 
bluish ashy; the rest of the lower parts, including axillaries 
and lower wing coverts, bright sulphur-yellow; a pale ring 
around the eye; sides of the breast and body tinged with oliva- 
ceous; the wings brown, the first and second rows of coverts, 
with the secondary and tertial quills margined externally with 
dull-white, or on the latter slightly tinged with olivaceous yel- 
low; primaries margined externally for more than half their 
length from the base with ferruginous, great portion of the 
inner webs of all the quills very pale ferruginous; the two mid- 
dle tail feathers light brown, shafts paler; the rest have the 
outer web and a narrow line on the inner sides of the shaft 
brown, pale-olivaceous on the outer edge, the remainder ferru- 
ginous to the very tip; outer web of exterior feather dull 
brownish-yellow; feet black; bill dark brown above and at the 
tip below, paler towards the base. The female appears to have 
no brown on the inner webs of the quills along the shaft, or 
else it is confined chiefly to the outer feathers. 

Length, 8.75; wing, 4.25; tail, 4.10; tarsus, 0.85 of an inch. 

Habitat, eastern United States and Canada, west to the 
Plains, south through eastern Mexico to Costa Rica. 

Note. — Since writing the foregoing I have had opportunity 
to observe this species more extensively, and I find them more 
uniformly distributed than I then anticipated. I have obtained 
the uniquely marked eggs within a mile of my residence. Their 
ground color is buff, of a rather exceptionally rich tone, over 
which is finely spattered light-brown very uniformly, embracing 
both extremities. Over this again are scattered more sparsely 
coarser dottings of a darker shade of brown, quite thickly 
near the larger end. and at the smaller; after which over all, 
are longitudinal scratches, the finer of which are irregularly 
parallel, and heaviest from the bulge of the egg backward, but 
not quite to the end. The scratching varies in intensity and in 
the degree of regularity in different specimens. The nest is 
composed of coarse grass, weeds, twigs, roots, and is lined with 
finer grasses and a few horse hairs. The eggs are laid the 
first week in June, generally, and occasionally a little earlier. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. ' 247 

8AV0RNIS PH(EBE (Latham). (456.) 

PHCEBE. 

This plain but very much esteemed bird reaches us about the 
first to the tenth of April. Dr. Hvoslef reports its arrival at 
Lanesboro on the 24th of March, and at different points in 
southern Minnesota it is recognized about the same date. It is 
as widely a distributed species as we have, and remains as long 
as its food supply holds out, which is generally about the 15th 
of October. Pew birds are more thoroughly welcomed not- 
withstanding its lack of attractive feathers. Its disposition to 
cling to the approximate vicinities of our habitations, together 
with its plaintive notes, ' 'phebe-phebee,^'' in a subdued tone, some- 
what drawn out at times, and again shortened into "peiveet, 
peiveet,'' rapidly repeated in a more joyous manner. 

The females are some ten days or more behind the males in 
arriving, and the courtship is quite delayed, and undemonstra- 
tive. But they arrange family matters in some way so as to 
have the nest built about the first of May or a little before, 
when the season favors. Bridges are not as numerous in Min- 
nesota as in Massachusetts, neither does our population in the 
rural districts disturb the bird by the numbers as much as 
there, yet true to its record in that country, it finds the bridge 
if there is one, but in its absence it accepts a great variety of 
places in which to build, notably the window caps under the 
porches of our summer cottages at the lakes, or in the open 
stables, or in a nook in the boat-house. Five eggs is usually 
the complement in a nest constructed of grasses, roots, moss 
and hairs, cemented together and onto the substance it is built 
upon, with bits of mud. It is lined with fine grasses, wool and 
feathers. The eggs are white with a creamy tint, Some eggs 
are thinly spotted over the larger end with reddish-brown. 

Cottagers at Lake Minnetonka, or any other of our suburban 
lakes, become greatly attached to this humble representative 
of the birds that spend the summer in the groves and forest 
bordering them. The first of its kind to seek those lovely 
retirements, anticipating their arrival by several weeks, they 
seem to welcome their coming, and at once begin their prepara- 
tion of their own comfortable tenements under the shelter of 
the projecting roof of the porches. Apparently the same 
pairs return, and repair the old nest from year to year. Many 
a time have I sat within a few yards of a nest built on the 
plate, under the roof of my Cosy Nook Cottage, overlook- 

17z 



248 NOTES ON THE 

ing the most beautiful lake in the whole world, and listened 
to the unostentatious pe-ivee, pe-tvee of the Phoebe Bird for an 
hour at a time endeavoring to comprehend the lessons of its 
sweet contentment with its lot however so humble it be 
wherein consists all true human happiness. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Sides of breast and upper parts dull olive-brown, fading 
slightly towards the tail; top and sides of head dark brown; 
a few dull white feathers on the eyelids; lower parts dull yel- 
lowish-white, mixed with brown on the chin, and in some indi- 
viduals across the breast; quills brown, the outer primary, 
secondaries, and tertials edged with dull white; in some 
individuals the greater faintly edged with dull white; tail brown, 
outer edge of lateral feather dull white, outer edges of rest like 
the back; tibias brown; bill and feet black; bill slender, edges 
nearly straight; tail rather broad and slightly forked, third 
quill longest, second and fourth nearly equal, the first shorter 
than the sixth. 

Length, 7; wing, 3.42; tail, 3.30. 

Habitat, eastern North America, from the British Provinces, 
south to eastern Mexico and Cuba, wintering from the South 
Atlantic and Gulf states southward. 

CONTOPUS BOREALIS (Swainson). (459.) 
OLIVE- SIDED FLYCATCHER. 

In the spring of 1874, my son. Dr. R. W. Hatch, obtained the 
first specimen of this species in a grove of forest trees within 
two or three miles of the city. I have since found them quite 
numerous during the time of migration, but by no means so 
afterwards. They reach here about the first of May generally. 
I have once found them as early as April 26th, but in several 
years it has been from one week to ten days later when I 
caught my first glimpse of them, although in any case they 
might have been here some time before I saw them, for their 
habits make it nececsary that they should be carefully sought 
in restricted localities. In the year following my son's discovery 
of the species, I obtained the nest and egg in a dry larch swamp 
near to where the bird had first been found, a spot since embraced 
in the beautiful Lakewood cemetery, on the shores and over- 
looking one of our peerless suburban lakes. The nest, very 
characteristic of the flycatchers, was constructed of much the 
same materials as is employed in the structure of the king- 
birds', and was placed on a horizontal limb of a medium sized 
larch, at least a yard from the trunk and about fifteen feet 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 249 

above the ground. It contained five creamy-white eggs, spotted 
with two shades of reddish-brown, more pronounced about the 
larger end, and averaging in measurements, .85 by .65 of an 
inch. I omitted to say that the nest had but a very superficial ex- 
cavation, leaving the form of the occupant very much as if 
squatted on, and not in it. Owing to the breeding habits tak- 
ing them to such deep shade, these denizens of the forest are 
rarely seen by any but systematic observers who know some- 
thing about them. I see no reason to doubt their uniform dis- 
tribution over the timbered sections of the entire State, but it 
is not a little remarkable that they have never been reported 
to me from but one locality, and then by a little boy in the Big 
Woods, who sent me the bird and insisted that he could get the 
eggs for me, but he never did. 

Their food in most respects, is like that of the other Ply- 
catchers, consisting largely of larvae during the rearing of 
the young birds. 

They leave the country in the autumn from the first to xhe 
tenth of September. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Wings long, much pointed; the second quill longest; the 
first longer than the third; tail deeply forked; tarsi short; 
the upper parts ashy-brown, showing darker brown centres of 
the feathers; this is eminently the case on the top of the head; 
the sides of the head and neck, of the breast and body, res- 
embling the back, but with the edges of the feathers tinged 
with gray, leaving a darker central streak; the chin, throat, 
narrow line down the middle of the breast and body, abdomen, 
and lower tail coverts, white, or sometimes with a faint tinge 
of yellow; the lower tail coverts somewhat streaked with 
brown in the center; on each side of the rump, generally con- 
cealed by the wings is an elongated bunch of white silky 
feathers; the wings and tail a very dark brown, the former 
with the edges of the secondaries and tertials edged with dull 
white; the lower wing coverts and axillaries grayish-brown; 
the tips of the primaries and tail feathers rather paler; feet 
and upper mandibles black, lower mandible brown; the young 
of the year similar, but the color duller; the feet light-brown. 

Length, 7.50; wing, 4.33; tail, 3.30; tarsus, 0.6. 

Habitat, North America, breeding from the northern and the 
higher mountainous parts of the United States northward. In 
winter, south to Central America and Columbia. 



250 NOTES ON THE 

CONTOPUS TIRENS (L.). (461.) 

WOOD PEWEE. 

The Wood Pewee is a very common summer resident of all 
the wooded districts of the State, reaching the southern por- 
tions about the 10th of May, and a latitude of Minneapolis not 
far from the twentieth. Mating and nest building have gener- 
ally taken place by the fifth of June in this immediate locality, 

In a series of nests which I have taken, extending through 
many years, over nine-tenths have been found saddled upon an 
old, moss grown and decayed limb as originally described by 
Nuttall, the exception being in the forked twigs as mentioned 
by Gentry in his correspondence with Coues and found in his 
Birds of the Northwest, page 246. Of some 10 or 12 in my 
possession there is not a single one that is not well described 
by the former in the following words which I quote : " In a 
nest which I have before me, which can be taken as a type, 
the bulk of it is made up entirely of small stripes of liber 
plucked from the trees and fence rails, tow and wool, arranged 
In a circular manner, and pressed compactly together by the 
body of the bird. One of the most prominent features of the 
nest is its external coating of bluish-gray crustaceous lichens, 
of the kind that are found upon the trunks of the trees, which 
give it a very close resemblance to that of the humming bird, 
which it nearly rivals in symmetry and beauty. " 

It is almost uniformly placed on poplars in this locality, and 
elevated about twenty feet from the ground. 

It is lined with finer samples of the same material as enters 
into the main structure. They usually have four eggs, of a 
beautiful cream color, with blotches and spots of lilac and 
brown around the larger end. I have never seen more than 
one brood in a season. Its resemblance in all respects to the 
Phoebe is a little remarkable. Notably it prefers the deep, 
dark woods, but I have often found it quite near dwellings, in 
clusters of poplars, as in a dooryard of a farmhouse near Min- 
nehaha Falls, where I have observed it for upwards of twenty 
years. The note differs from that of the Phoebe considerably, 
being much more sad or plaintive. 

Mr. Washburn, in his notes sent me from the Red river 
valley, says: "Extremely common in the woodland every- 
where. One cannot walk a dozen rods in the timber without 
seeing several pairs. An interesting chapter might be written 
on the habits of this bird. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 251 

"Its note is the most characteristic sound in the woodland, 
and is best represented by the words pee ivee, the two syllables 
about equally accented, the first perhaps a little higher, the 
last sometimes rising, sometimes falling, but always prolonged, 
always plaintive, as though the bird wished you to know that 
its particular lot was harder than that of any of its feathered 
friends, but it meant to make the best of it, and would try to 
be cheerful. I found young, almost full-grown, August 15th. 
The old birds at this season, perched on the dead limb of some 
lofty elm or oalc, utter from time to time their plaintive note, 
making between times a hasty dash into the air to secure some 
flying insect, then fly back to the perch. On beautiful Autumn 
mornings, in woods of stately oaks, elms and poplars, where 
dim shades are penetrated by occasional patches of checkered 
sunlight, and whose silence was broken by the note of this 
species, I found young birds waiting on perches for their par- 
ent's return with some food, and filling the interim while she 
is foraging, with a plaintive squeak uttered at intervals, and 
sounding like the squeak of a mouse which has just felt the 
wire of the trap squeezing his throat, though louder; occasionally 
lowering their heads threateningly, and snapping their beaks 
when some butterfly or dragonfly flew near them. Or, impa- 
tient, they chase the mother bird, and one on either side strive 
to force the morsel she has obtained from her mouth. 

"At Georgetown they were abundant; very common indeed at 
Ada, and I noticed them at Crookston, St. Vincent and along 
the Thief river." 

Many writers attempt to express the notes of this bird, but I 
confess to a great inability to get what seems to me to be any 
material resemblance. Still, if they but partially succeed it 
may help to identify the bird, and I would not therefore dis- 
courage their attempts. Suffice it, who has heard Phoebe will 
recognize a member of the family. After the period of incu- 
bation and rearing the young is over, the old birds apparantly 
are very seldom found together, a circumstance accounted for 
on the inference of conjugal indifference, which is entirely 
gratuitous, for the well known characteristic habit of feeding 
of the whole family explains the circumstances more satisfac- 
torily and leaves the "good name" unstained. Whoever will 
take sufflcient pains will always find the partner of the sum- 
mer's sacrifices not very far away. 



252 NOTES ON THE 



SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 



The second quill longest, the third a little shorter, the first 
shorter than the fourth, the latter nearly forty hundredths 
longer than the fifth; the primaries more than an inch longer 
than the secondaries; the upper parts, sides of the head, neck 
and breast, dark olivaceous- brown, the latter rather paler, the 
head darker; a narrow white ring around the eye; the lower 
parts pale yellowish, deepest on the abdomen; across the breast 
tinged with ash; this pale ash sometimes occupies the whole of 
the breast, and even occasionally extends up to the chin ; it is 
also sometimes glossed with olivaceous; the wings and tail dark 
brown, generally deeper than in S. fuscus; two narrow bands 
across the wing, the outer edge of first primary, and the sec- 
ondaries, and tertials dull white; the edges of the tail feathers 
like the back, the outer one scarcely lighter; upper mandible 
black, the lower yellow, but brow^n at the tip. 

Length, 6.15; wing, 3.50; tail, 3.05. 

Habitat, eastern North America to the plains, and from 
southern Canada southward. 



EMPIDONAXFLATIVENTRIS Baird. (463.) 
YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER. 

This pretty flycatcher, about which ornithological literature 
seems to be by no means prolific, has long been a regularly ob- 
served summer resident of the State, especially in this locality. 
It reaches the borders of the State in its spring migration as 
late as the 20th of May, and this locality on the 25th. The 
foliage of the forest has become so dense, and the other birds 
bearing a general resemblance to it so numerous, that only an 
expert may hope to identify it, and he only by considerable 
labor. Its efforts at song are very humble, not essaying more 
than a weak and quite infrequently repeated pee-a, and tilUc. 
Others have found the nest occasionally, but I have been less for- 
tunate even after much careful search. In his recent work on the 
birds in their favorite haunts. Rev. J. Hibbert Langille quotes 
from the observations of Messrs. Dean and Pardie as to the 
nest, in which those gentlemen say: "It was placed in the up- 
turned roots of a tree; and a large dwelling it was for so small 
and trim a bird. Built in and on the black mud clinging to the 
roots, but two feet from the ground, the bulk of the nest was 
composed of dry moss, while the outside was faced with beau- 
tiful, fresh green mosses, thickest around the rim, or parapet. 
The eggs are usually four in number and are white." 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 253 

My personal observations of the feeding habits of this bird 
differ a little from those generally given, in that I have found 
them in the very tops of the trees at such times, giving little 
heed to my presence so far below them. When on, or near the 
ground, they are extremely reticent and equally shy. The nest 
as repeatedly described to me by those who have discovered it, 
is from five to seven feet above the ground, on a branch at the 
first division from the trunk of a sapling, or in the forks of a 
considerable bush. At the time of their first arrival, I have 
found them almost common since knowing their habits, but 
thej" become very shy indeed when once the incubation has 
begun. They leave us simultaneously with the arrival of the 
frosts in autumn. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Second, third and fourth quill nearly equal; first inter- 
mediate between fifth and sixth; tail nearly even, slightly 
rounded; tarsi long, above bright olive-green; crown rather 
darker; a broad yellow ring around the eye; the sides of the head, 
neck, breast and body, and a band across the breast like the back, 
but lighter; the rest of the lower parts bright sulphur-yellow — 
no white or ashy anywhere on the body — quills dark brown; two 
bands on the wing formed by the tips of the primary and 
secondary coverts, the outer edge of the first primary and of 
the secondaries and tertials pale yellow or greenish-yellow; 
the tail feathers brown, with the exterior edges like the 
back. Bill dark brown above, yellow beneath; feet black. In 
the autumn the colors are purer, the yellow is deeper, and 
the markings on the wings of an ochry tint. 

Length, 5.15; wing, 2.83; tail, 2.45. 

Habitat, eastern North America to the plains, and from 
Southern Labrador south through Eastern Mexico to Panama, 
breeding from the Northern State's northward. 

EMPIDONAX ACADICUS (Gmelin). (465.) 
ACADIAN FLYCATCHER. 

I have been agreeably surprised to find that this species is 
fairly common in Minnesota. The average time of arrival has 
been May 20th, and they have habitifally left in their southern 
migration about the 10th of September. The confounding of 
this species with E. traiUU by so many experts early put me on 
my guard, and I believe I have always been spared a final 
doubt as to its identity. Prof. Baird's discrimination between 
these two species has been completely verified by my local 
observations. The nesting has been begun about the second 
week in June, although I have had the nest, mother, and 



254 NOTES ON THE 

eggs as early as the fifth of that month on one occasion. As 
to the location of the nest, I have found it somewhat varied, as 
I have also the materials out of which it was constructed. The 
first I ever obtained was near a creek in a thicket just in the 
woods adjoining a plowed field, and but a short distance from 
a dwelling. It was on ground elevated at least 20 feet above 
the creek, and not more than 20 yards from a frequented high- 
way. Another was obtained in a very open place in the deep, 
dark woods, two miles distant from the first. The first named 
nest met the description of what one writer describes as ' 'loose 
and rustic, even raggedly woven, etc.," while the second 
was more compact and more firmly secured to the forked 
limb on which it was built. The materials have all been 
essentially the same, namely: Fine strips of bark, with grasses 
woven together, without much display of ambition in bird 
architecture. Careful measurements made the elevation of it 
average seven feet. The eggs have invariably been three, 
with a deep cream color, and mostly, but not always, spotted 
near the greater end with brown. I find no proclivity to any one 
kind of tree or bush, but they indiscriminately choose a sumach 
an oak or a basswood. It has a very humble combination of 
notes, hardly worthy to be called a song. 

Dr. Hvoslef found it in the valley of the Root river on the 
28th of May, and Mr. Washburn reports it common in the Red 
river valley at nearly all points he visited late in August. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Second and third quills longest, and about equal; the fourth 
a little shorter; the first about equal to the fifth, and about 
0.35 of an inch less than the longest. Tail even. The upper 
parts with the sides of the head and neck, olive-green, the 
crown, very little if any darker. A yellowish white ring around 
the eye. The sides of the body under the wings like the back, 
but fainter olive; a tinge of the same across the breast; the 
chin, throat and middle of the belly, white; the abdomen, lower 
tail and wing coverts, and sides of body not covered by the 
wings, pale greenish-yellow. Edges of the first primary, sec- 
ondaries, and tertials, rjiargined with dull yellowish-white, 
most broadly on the latter. Two transverse bands of pale yel- 
lowish across the wings formed by the tips of the secondary 
and primary coverts, succeeded by a brown one. Tail light 
brown, margined externally like the back. Upper mandible 
light brown above; pale yellow beneath. In autumn the lower 
parts are more yellow. 

Length, 5.65 to 6; wing, 3.00; tail, 2.75; (tarsus, f ; bill, f)- 
Habitat, Eastern United States, chiefly southward, west to 
the plains, south to Cuba and Costa Rica. 



•i 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 255 

EMPIDONAX PUSILLl S TRAILLII (Audubon). (466a). 
TRAILL'S FLYCATCHER. 

Traill's Flycatcher usually arrives in the latitude of Minne- 
apolis not far from the :20th of May. and is abundantly repre- 
sented for its species for ten or fifteen days, when the princi- 
pal part move on further north to breed. Individuals are 
occasionally met with so much later that if no nests had been 
obtained I should feel assured of their breeding in this section 
to some extent, but a few nests have been obtained by col 
lectors, which upon examination I have pronounced those of 
this interesting bird. Mr. Lewis who is familiar with the 
habits of this species reports them common along the St. 
Louis and Rainy Lake rivers in the northern sections of the 
State during the months of June and July, from which 
although he collected no nests he naturally inferred they bred 
there. The nests I have seen were obtained under conditions 
corresponding to those described as characteristic of this bird, 
viz: — About swamps and lowlands and along streams, and were 
Avithout exception found in the forks of bushes and saplings, 
and about seven to ten feet from the ground. They were com 
posed externally of various fibrous materials mixed with 
grasses, giving them a bleached gray appearance, the inside of 
fine grass neatly adjusted, while there is a downy substance 
distributed throughout the entire structure. The eggs were 
creamy-white with the larger end somewhat spotted with 
reddish-brown. The autumnal migration takes place from the 
first to the tenth of September. 

I am not a little surprised that Mr. Washburn did not meet 
this species in his earlier explorations of a portion of the Red 
river valley, as he made a careful observation of others of the 
same genus. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Third quill longest, second scarcely shorter than fourth, first 
shorter than fifth, about thirty-five hundredths of an inch 
shorter than the longest; primaries about seventy-five hun- 
dredths of an inch longer than secondaries; tail even; upper 
parts dark olive green, lighter under the wings, and duller and 
more tinged with ash on nape and sides of neck; center of the 
crown feathers brown; a pale yellowish- white ring (in some 
specimens altogether white) around the eye; loral feathers mixed 
with white; chin and throat white; the breast and sides of 
throat light ash tinged with olive, its intensity varying with 
individuals, the former sometimes faintly tinged with olive; 
sides of the breast much like the back; middle of the belly 



256 NOTES ON THE 

nearly white; sides of the belly, abdomen and the lower tail cov- 
erts sulphur yellow; the quills and tail feathers dark brown — as 
dark, if not more so, as these parts in Gontopus virens; two 
olivaceous yellow white bands on the wing, formed by the 
tips of the first and second coverts, succeeded by a brown one; 
the edge of the first primary, and of secondaries and tertials a 
little lighter shade of the same; the outer edge of the tail 
feathers like the back, that of the lateral rather lighter; 
bill above dark brown, dull brownish beneath. 

Length, 6 inches; wing, 2.90; tail, 2.60. 

Habitat, eastern North America, breeding from the middle 
states northward; in winter south to Central America. 

EMPIDONAX MINIMUS Baird. (467.) 
LEAST FLYCATCHER. 

The Least Flycatcher is the bravest of his genus, arriving in 
spring, in one year, as early as the fifth of May, but as a gen- 
eral thing it has been later by about five to ten days. It soon 
becomes common along the Mississippi, and the borders of 
swamps and low lands generally. During June, July and 
part of August it may be seen at almost any time of the day 
perching on the lower limb of a tall tree, peeping its charac- 
teristic note, variously expressed by different observers as 
"c/ie&ec," "se^67ic^•," "s/ie&icfc,'' etc., etc. It must be heard to be 
understood. It is uttered rather sharper and more quickly 
than any notes of the other Flycatchers. From its perch it 
makes frequent dashes into the air, where it seizes an insect 
and returns to the same place, repeating at brief intervals its 
short, sharp, unmelodious ''chebeck/' There is a general distri- 
bution of this species over the entire State, from Duluth, where 
I found it exceedingly common, to the Red river, and south to 
the borders where it is no less common. Dr. Hvoslef records 
it in Root river valley, and Mr. Lewis found it common along 
the Rainy Lake river to the Lake of the Woods, where it was 
"abundant on the islands." 

Mr. Washburn found it still represented on the Red river as 
late as about the first of September, but rare. Dr. Coues 
gives it as more numerous along that stream during the breed- 
ing season than he had found it any where else. (Birds of the 
northwest pp. 254-5). I have known them to begin to build 
their nests as early as the 18th of May, but that is about a 
week sooner than the average. It is almost uniformly placed 
in the forks of a sapling, — rarely in a bush, except when 
found along the shores of streams running through marshy dis- 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 257 

tricts, where only brush and shrubs are found, — and from ten 
to fifteen feet from the ground where there are trees, and 
rarely below seven where there are only bushes. It is very 
compact, neat, and externally constructed of wood and weed 
bark fibers, mixed with vegetable down in an artistic manner, 
and lined with delicate fibers of the same in which the down is 
prominent, and rarely a few hairs from the tails of horses and 
cattle. In a few instances it has been placed on the upper 
side of a leaning sapling, and in such cases it has never been 
saddled over, or across it, but has been embraced in forks of 
twigs or limbs rising from it and deeply imbedded in the sides 
of it. The eggs are from three to four, in number, and are 
pure white. 

It lingers later into the autumn than the other members of 
its genus, individuals not infrequently being met late in Octo- 
ber, but the great southern hegira occurs from the 20th to the 
30th of September. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Second quill longest, third and fourth but little shorter, 
fifth a little less, first intermediate between fifth and sixth; 
tail even; above olive-brown, darker on the head, becoming 
paler on the rump, and upper tail coverts; the middle of the 
back most strongly olivaceous; the nape (in some individuals) 
and sides of head tinged with ash; a ring around the eye, 
and some of the loral feathers, white; the sides of the throat, 
and across the breast, dull ash; the color on the latter some- 
times nearly obsolete; sides of the breast similiar to the back, 
but of a lighter tint; middle of the belly very pale yellowish- 
white, turning to pale sulphur on the sides of the belly, 
abdomen, and lower tail coverts; wings brown; two narrow 
white bands on the wing formed by the tips of the first 
and second coverts, succeeded by one of brown; the edge 
of the first primary, and of the secondaries and tertials white; 
tail rather lighter brown, edged externally like the back; 
feathers narrow, not acuminate, with the ends rather blunt. 
In autumn the white parts are strongly tinged with yellow. 

Length, 5 to 5.50 inches; wing, 2.65 or less; tail, 2.25 to 2.50. 

Habitat, eastern North America, south in winter to Central 
America, breeds from the northern states northward. 



258 NOTES ON THE 

Family ALAUDID.^. 

OTOCORIS ALPESTRIS PRATICOLA Henshaw (4746) 
PRAIRIE HORNED LARK. 

This bird is variously called the Prairie Lark, Shore Lark, 
Sky Lark, and Horned Lark. Its characteristic locality would 
scarcely justify the name of Shore Lark, as it is decidedly a 
dry land bird. Either of the others would not be inappro- 
priate. But the two pencils of erectile feathers so located on 
the head as to completely simulate horns, are so distinguishing 
as to justly entitle it to the name Horned Lark. This species 
is extensively distributed over the entire open sections of the 
Northwest, from Hudson's Bay to and below the southern line 
of Missouri, and from New York to California. 

Variations in size and the intensity of coloration have led 
some ornithologists to the institution of several varieties. I 
have met with individual representations of the whole series 
within my province so many times that I have no use for these 
varieties, even cum salis. 

It nests ver7 early, in the latitude of Minneapolis and St. 
Paul. In favorable seasons I have met with nests as early as 
the 9th of March, as I once flushed it from its nest at that date, 
although it contained no eggs; but a week later I have met with 
several with, on an average, two eggs. They sit so close at 
such times that I have had my carriage wheel pass within ten 
inches of the nest and not flush the bird. On one occasion, on 
the open, rolling prairie, while walking cautiously in search 
of possible nests, I had placed my foot directly over one, in 
the act of putting it down, when the lark flitted out from under 
it just in time to save itself, and the nest too, as the surprise 
lengthened the falling step far enough to save the latter. In 
all instances I have found that the ground had been hollowed 
out for the nest to a depth sufficient to allow of a liberal lining 
of grass and still leave the back of the brooding bird level with 
the surrounding surface. Its colors, with this circumstance, 
combine to protect the bird with its precious trust from the 
rapacious hawks as well as the more rapacious oSligist. That 
this species breeds occasionally three times I am confident. 
The period of incubation reaches far into July occasionally. 

Some individuals are to be seen at almost any time in the 
winter, during an open "spell of weather."' which is not a com- 
mon meteorological event, by the way, and the great winter 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 259 

retreat for the rest cannot be exceedingly remote, for, if the 
furrows in the plowed fields become exposed by the direct- 
ness of the winter's sun, it will not be long before the cheery 
notes of the males are heard here. The eggs, four to five in 
number, are grayish and sprinkled with pale blue or brownish 
spots. I think the young abandon the nest before quite able 
to fly. and are left to shift for themselves when about three 
weeks out of their nests. Little time is lost by the parents 
in getting another brood under way, that the last may be suffi- 
ciently matured for the winter's exigencies. 

I never heard the Eurox3ean skylark sing with my own ears, 
but have listened to descriptions of the song in prose and in 
poetry, until I almost believed I had heard it, but I must hear 
the veritable singer himself to be convinced that in anything 
except perhaps volume he can a whit excel our own American 
skylark. 

My first enchantment occurred within the corporate limits of 
this city — Minneapolis — when those limits were quite restricted 
compared with them now, in June, 1868. I was riding along 
with my field glass in my hand, as has been my uniform custom 
in the bird season for thirty years or more, when a male flitted 
up from the ground about ten to fifteen feet into the air and 
about thirty yards directly in front of me, simultaneously burst- 
ing forth into song. While pouring forth such a volume that 
it seemed as if he would have instantly burst if he should close 
his extended mouth, he turned abruptly to the right and half 
sailing away about fifty yards, again wheeled with a rapid fiut- 
ter of his wings that lifted him some thirty feet more, he gyrated 
back at least a hundred yards, and thus flitting, sailing, singing, 
he zigzagged right and left, mounting constantly higher and 
higher, never pausing a moment for breath until he entirely 
disappeared from unaided vision in as clear a sky as ever can- 
opied the green fields in June. Still, the music, fainter and 
fainter, but if possible sweeter and sweeter, was distinctly 
audible, and my breath had been unconsciously suspended 
while all consciousness was in the tips of my ears and points 
of my eyes, now peering through the glass, when, after several 
minutes of unmeasured time, his song suddenly ceased and he 
closed his wings as a diver lays down his arms to his sides, and 
head straight downward, descended with the velocity of a spent 
bullet, until within a single yard of the ground, and no more 
than that distance from the identical spot he had left, he 
opened those wings and touched the grass as lightly as a 
snowflake iinnanoyed by the winds. 



260 NOTES ON THE 

The son^ cannot be expressed by any similation of words or 
syllables, but is totally unlike any other amongst the song - 
birds. With such a possibility within the reach of any song- 
loving mortal, who would spend the last dime to hear a Nilsson, 
and would not go a mile in the open, silent prairie, to hear 
this peerless skylark? I pronounce an inexplainable paradox. 

Heaven's richest boon to aesthetic man are oftenest over- 
looked or underheard. Awake, dear sleepers! 

Note. The foregoing was written in 1874, at which time I 
was not aware that anyone else had ever recorded observations 
of its skylark like performances. I have been greatly de- 
lighted to find that Langille has given a graphic description of 
them in his "Birds in Their Haunts," page 18. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Q Above, pinkish brown, feathers of back streaked with dusky; 
a broad band across the crown extending backwards along the 
lateral tufts; a crescentic patch from bill below the eye, and 
along the side of the head; a jugular crescent, and the tail 
feathers black, the innermost of the latter like the back; a 
frontal band extending backwards over the eye, under parts, 
with outer edge of wings, and tail, white; chin and throat, 
yellow. 

Length, 7.75; wing, 4.50; tail, 3.25; bill, above, 0.52. 

Habitat, northeastern North America. 



Family COBYTD^. 

PICA PICA HUDSONICA (Sabine). (475.) 
AMERICAN MAGPIE. 

The Magpie has not yet become as common as the Blue Jay 
in Minnesota, but they are here and no check list can leave 
them out. Since the first that came under my notice in 1869, 
which was obtained in the timber of the Minnesota river 
bottom, there have been but few seasons when they were not 
seen by those competent to identify them, and several have 
been obtained. 

Mr. Washburn reported one at Mille Lacs lake last fall, and 
several were described to me by parties who had never seen 
them before. 

That this rather rare species should have escaped the notice 
of early observers is by no means surj)rising, for when isolated 
from the flock individual birds of ihis species are as alert and 
cunning as any other with which I ever had anything to do. 



BIKDS OF MINNESOTA. 261 

When hunted, their sub rosa vigilance in eluding the eye of 
the persecutor is simply marvelous, in many respects like, 
but outdoing the Cuckoo. In flocks, except after having been 
repeatedly disturbed by being shot at they are quite the 
opposite, and even become quite familiar after a time. 

I once spent some eighteen months where the Magpies were 
very numerous and bred abundantly on low branching oak 
trees that were scattered amongst the hills. The nests, for 
the size of the bird were extremely bulky, consisting of 
sticks, twigs and mud, in the order named. "On this again is a 
lining of fine twigs, hair, feathers and any proper material 
which they can find. Over the whole, rising from the walls of 
the nest, is a dome of twigs and sticks very ingeniously and 
securely woven together and framing a shelter for the bird 
while setting. There are two openings, opposite each other, 
evidently to make room for the long tail of the bird, which 
could never be brought within the nest. The eggs are five, of 
a pale greenish, very thickly obscured with spots and dashes 
of pale purplish brown, varying somewhat in intensity and 
being somewhat thicker at the larger end." I have quoted the 
description from Birds of the Northwest, pp. 213-14, for the 
reason that it is so completely in accordance with my own 
observations in the foot hills along the Cossumnes river in 
Sacramento county, California, where my sister so long resided. 

Note. — When the foregoing was written, I followed Coues* 
opinion that the Yellow-billed Magpies of that coast were but a 
variety of the present species, but not without mental protest 
(often expressed amongst local friends) which the American 
Ornithologist's Union have confirmed in the Check List. I 
have never seen the nest of the Black-billed Magpie, and had 
supposed that the identity of the structures had been an im- 
portant factor in determining the specific unity of the two 
varieties. P. Ij. H. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail very long more than half the total length, the feathers 
much graduated, the lateral scarcely more than half the mid 
die. First primary falcate, curved, and attenuated; bill about 
as high as bro?od at the base; the culmen and gonys much 
curved, and about equal; the bristly feathers reaching nearly to 
the middle of the bill; nostrils nearly circular; tarsi very long, 
middle toe scarcely more than two thirds its length. A patch 
of naked skin beneath and behind the eye and the bill black. 
General color black; the belly, scapulars, and inner webs of 
the primaries, white; hind part of back grayish; exposed por- 
tion of the tail feathers glossy-green, tinged with purple and 



262 NOTES ON THE 

violet near the end; wings glossed with green; secondaries and 
tertials with blue; throat feathers spotted with white. 

Length, 19; wing, 8.50; tail, 11 to 13. 

Habitat, northern and western North America. 

CYANOCITTA CRISTATA (L.). (m.) 
BLUE JAY. 

Nature has shown her caprice in dressing up even a crow in 
regal plumage in the case of the Blue Jay. In few others of 
the birds has there been such a wondrously beautiful display 
of the colors where blue is predominant. The arrangement is 
without a precedent. Still he is without friends. Go where 
we may a deep seated prejudice exists against him, and he 
seems to rather enjoy this distinction. The numbers in every 
low timbered, or brushy section in Minnesota, are greater 
than in any other portion of the United States with which I 
am familiarly acquainted, and they are yearly increasing. 
They brave the winter with entire indifference to the measure 
of cold, and never are known to come out poor in the spring 
either. They live on anything and everything known to be 
eaten by any and all the other species of birds, mammals, 
reptiles or fishes, when pressed by any stress, but are epicures 
when plenty abounds, taking such dainty tit-bits as Canary 
brains, and Mockingbird's eyes for an occasional dessert. Still 
in justice to him I must say that he takes such as he can get 
with no complaining as to quantity, or quality. In winter he 
breakfasts on acorns perhaps, dines on cedar berries and bar- 
berry. If the wind is troublesome, he will look up a few 
cocoons of moths, and butterflies for tea. In the spring he 
explores the back yards of dwellings, and if unsuccessful, 
will content himself with a light cropful of the buds of the 
lilacs and other shrubber3^ Later, his supplies are well 
understood to embrace the eggs and young of the other birds, 
not even excepting those of his own species. 

Their notes are often very discordant, and doubtless con- 
tribute to the XDopular prejudice against them. More commonly 
the notes are a shrill cry, expressed best by the sylables, chay- 
chay-chay, repeated in frequency according with the measure of 
excitement the bird is under. Under ordinary circumstances 
his notes may vary considerably, when they might be rendered 
somewhat like Jiilly, hilly, hilly, or ifivilhilhj, p'lvilhilly, followed 
in a minute afterwards by hiveeo-hiveeo-hiueeo, or chillac-chillac- 
chillac, after which comes a soft, sweet, metallic note, filled 
with a sad pathos. 



I 



» BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 263 

Not unfrequently he will give a stirring note of alarm if he 
discovers an enemy approaching, which resembles the harsh 
rattle of the kingfisher. He is credited with imitating other 
birds. With how much truth I cannot say, but if he does not, 
it will be about the only mischievous thing he does not essay 
to do. 

About the last week in April he builds his nest in a second 
growth red or black oak in a thicket, or a large bush about seven 
feet from the ground. It is loosely built of small sticks, twigs, 
and coarse roots, lined with a finer kind of the same, and leaves. 
Four to five light-green eggs are laid, covered with light brown 
spots. Instances occur in which two broods are brought out in 
a season, but only one is the rule. 

In no portion of the State where timber or brush are found, 
is he not to be found from the Lake of the Woods to the Iowa 
line. I cannot call them beneficial to agriculture, but should 
be sorry to pass a long Minnesota winter without both seeing 
and hearing them, as they have been so long identified with 
the bird life of the country. 

Note. The vicious habit of this species of eating the eggs 
of its own, and of the other birds, has become more and more 
evident as I have had further opportunities to observe. In 
this, however, he has the precedent of so many other species, 
that he can with plausibility plead as good reason for justifica- 
tion as the rumseller, who sells his "liquid death" because, if 
he did not, "the other fellow would." My indignation has been 
at white heat on catching him at the destruction of the eggs of 
some of the little fellows that were no match for him. So 
widely is his character known amongst the feathered tribes of 
his habitudes, that there has come to exist an unwritten edict 
of outlawry against him, so that when he is caught in the act 
of trespass, a recognized signal-call will enlist the entire deni- 
zens of his section in a simultaneous pursuit of him. But he 
soon disregards, or wilfully forgets all such protests, and re- 
news his inglorious depredations upon the earliest opportunity. 
I have never witnessed his destruction of the young birds, as I 
have the butcher birds but am prepared to believe almost any- 
thing I may hear against him. As with instances among an- 
other species of bipeds, neither talents nor external adornment 
shields them from common contempt. Still, as with some bad 
boys, we cannot but like them notwithstanding all their faults, 
when we hear the cheery notes amid all the desolations of a 
northern winter. The question of the jay's powers of mimicry 
of the notes of numerous other birds, has long been at rest with 
me, for I am an eye and an ear witness. His most wonderful, 
and most successful demonstrations have been in imitating very 
small birds like the Chickadee, Pewee, Winter Wren, several of 
i8z: 



264 NOTES ON THE « 

the sparrows, and indeed almost every known species of the 
kind, whose combinations are not very long. It must be under- 
stood that these performances are invariably en sutta voce, and 
audible to only those who are embraced in his auditorium by 
chances of fortuitous accident, which keeps the performer in 
blissful ignorance of his presence. My first opportunity tran- 
spired by my being placed in the covert of a fallen tree-top, to 
which the leaves were still clinging, before daylight in the 
morning to await a band of deer that were to be driven near 
there by a party of drivers acquainted with their "runs." I 
had been there nearly two hours in almost breathless silence, 
scarcely moving a muscle lest I might be discovered and while 
thus waiting numerous birds had been twittering and flying 
about the spot of my concealment ever since the daylight had 
come, amongst which were many Blue Jays. Now, any experi- 
enced hunter knows that if one of these irrepressible jays 
catches sight of him, his chances of a shot at a deer that is any- 
where near him are gone for that time, and having just before 
received a preconcerted signal that some were approaching, 
my attention was centered upon a number of these birds but a 
little distance from me, ready to rob me of the fruits and con- 
siderations of my mutual sacrifices, when I saw and heard such 
a mimicry of many of the little birds before mentioned as no 
language can describe. Only one individual was engaged, and 
the notes which fell in showers like dewdrops, almost inaudible, 
were among the clearest, most delicate, sweet and melodious 
that ever found their way into a human ear, I was in an 
ecstacy of wonder and surprise, and only sighed in silence that 
every lover of bird- song could not share my delight, I forgave 
him everything I had ever seen, heard, or surmised against 
him, and have never since harbored any but the kindest feel 
ings toward him. If a diet upon canary brains and mocking 
bird's eyes afford such inspiration, these songsters contribute 
as much in their deaths as in their lives, and the regally plumed 
Blue Jay should live forever. Since then I have his secret, and 
I have many times been his auditor undiscovered, and I have 
found that when undiscovered, he will prolong these solo per- 
formances considerable, constantly varying and modulating 
them in the most pleasing manner, 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS, 

Crest about one-third longer than the bill; tail graduated j 
general color above light purplish-blue; wings and tail feath- 
ers ultramarine-blue; the secondaries and tertials, the greater 
wing coverts and the exposed surface of the tail sharply 
banded with black and broadly tipped with white, except on 
the central tail feathers; beneath white; tinged with purplish- 
blue on the throat and with bluish-brown on the sides; a black 
crescent on the forepart of the breast, the horns passing for- 
wards and connecting with a half collar on the back of the 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 265 

neck; a narrow frontal line and loral region black; feathers on 
the base of the bill blue like the crown; female rather duller 
in color and a little smaller. 

Length, 12.25; wing, 5.65; tail, 5.75. 

Habitat, eastern North America to the plains and from the 
fur countries south to Florida and eastern Texas. 

PERISOREUS CANADENSIS (L ) (484). 
CANADA JAY. 

When I first lived in the State the lumbermen used to tell 
me a great deal about "the camp bird" as they called it, and 
my curiosity was no little awakened to learn the identity of the 
bird but I could persuade none of them to bring me one, as 
their attachment to it forbid their shooting it, for it was so 
unsuspicious and tame that it would often come to the door of 
the cabin and eat the waste and crumbs thrown down to it. At 
last a good fortune sent one to me and I at once discovered the 
genuine Canada Jay. It is not a numerous species like the 
Blue Jay but is a permanent resident along the Lake Superior 
region and southward about a hundred miles, as I learn from 
the aforementioned source. It has fallen into my hands in 
the Big Woods on two occasions, and one or two individuals 
have been obtained in Sherburne county some time since. Of 
its habits I know nothing from personal observation, and must, 
therefore, avail myself of the observations of others. I quote 
Professor Samuels in his Birds of New England, page 367. 
He says: — '• I have had numerous opportunities for observing 
its habits and I can positively affirm that it is equally rapacious 
and destructive with the Blue Jay, which it resembles in 
motions and cry. I once knew of a single pair of these birds 
destroying the young in four nests of the common Snowbird 
{Junco hyemalis) in a single day. I found these nests in an old 
abandoned lumber road on the morning of June 20th; in the 
afternoon, when I returned through the same path, every nest 
was depopulated, and a pair of these jays were lurking in the 
trees shouting defiance to us while surrounded by the afflicted 
Snowbirds that were uttering their cries of complaint and 
sorrow. I emptied both barrels of my gun in the direction of 
the jay, and I am inclined to think that they have killed no 
birds since. The f amiliarty with which this species fraternizes 
with man in the woods is interesting and amusing. I was once 
'snowed in,' as the expression is, in a large tract of forest, 
and, with my companions, was obliged to wait until the storm 



266 NOTES ON THE 

ceased before we could resume our march. We remained in 
camp two days. A pair of these birds, probably with young 
in the neighborhood, visited our camp and even penetrated 
into our tent for crumbs and pieces of bread. They always 
flew off with their mouths full and soon returned for more. 
Their visits soon got to be anything but a joke, particularly 
when they flew off with the last piece of our soap." Audubon 
says: — "It begins as early as February or March to form its 
nest which is placed in the thickest part of a fir tree, near the 
trunk, and at a height of from five to ten feet. The exterior 
is composed of dry twigs with moss and grass and the inter- 
ior, which is flat, is formed of fibrous roots. The eggs, which 
are four to six, are of a light gray color faintly marked with 
brown. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail graduated; lateral feathers about one inch shortest. 
Wings a little shorter than the tail. Head, neck and forepart 
of breast, white. A plumbeous nuchal patch, becoming darker 
behind, from the middle of the crown to the back, from which 
it is separated by an interrupted, whitish collar. Rest of 
upper parts ashy- plumbeous; the outer primaries margined; 
the secondaries, tertials, and tail feathers obscurely tipped, 
with white beneath smoky-gray; crissam, whitish; bill and 
feet, black. 

Length, 10.70; wing, 5.75; tail, 6.00; tarsus, 1.40. 

Habitat, northern New England, Michigan, Minnesota, and 
Canada, northward to Arctic America. 

CORTUS CORAX SINUATUS (Wagler). (486.) 

AMERICAN RAVEN. 

This bird is a permanent resident about Lake Superior, and 
is common along the Red river and some of the more infre- 
quented lakes in the northern portions of the state in summer 
time, arriving quite early in March, and remaining very late in 
the autumn. It is more frequently seen singly, yet occasionally 
a pair will attract the attention floating on extended wings for 
hours over some desolate section in search of food which is 
preferably carrion, but there is nothing, either dead or alive, 
they will not eat when pressed by hunger. Their flight is 
rapid and long sustained. On the ground they have a very 
dignified walk, with a characteristic of frequently opening the 
wings as if it wearied them to retain them closed. It breeds 
in the localities mentioned, quite early in the season. The 
earliest I have any authentic record of is March 25th. The 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 267 

nests are exceedingly rude, and either on the inaccessible 
cliffs, or in the loftiest trees of some very desolate section. 
The eggs are usually four to six in number, two inches long, 
light greenish blue, with light purple and yellowish-brown 
blotches numerous about the larger end. Incubation lasts 
about twenty-one days, and the young remain in the nest 
several weeks before they are able to fly, fed at first on the 
half digested food disgorged by the parents. Only a single 
brood is reared in one season. 

The raven is a much more common bird in northern and 
western Minnesota than I formerlj'' supposed, but is nowhere 
so abundant as along the Pacific in the valleys of California 
and Oregon. By the twenty fifth of March in most years, 
they are often heard, but less frequently seen. Indeed they 
are rarely seen in the vicinity of Minneapolis and St. Paul, 
but, from Bigstone lake to the British Possessions they seem 
to beconie increasingly common. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill long, very strong and arched; nasal feathers lengthened, 
reach middle of bill; nostrils large, circular, and overhung by 
membrane; gape without bristles; wings long and pointed, 
when closed reach nearly to tip of tail, and far beyond under 
coverts; fourth quill longest; third and fifth about equal; 
second between fifth and sixth; first nearly equal to eighth; 
tail short and nearly even; tarsi longer than middle toe, 
and scaled in front. 

Length. 25 inches; wing, 17; tail, 10. 

Habitat, North America from arctic regions to Guatemala, 
but local and not common east of the Mississsippi river. 

CORYUS AMERICANUS Audubon. (488.) 
AMERICAN CROW. 

I find the Crow a much more common species than my earlier 
observations had led me to expect. It is generally distributed, 
yet not at all equally so. It is fairly common in Fillmore 
county, and along the whole southern tier of counties, but the 
numbers grow relatively less until reaching about the middle, 
and especially until the great timber belt is reached. From 
thence northward there is an increase, so that in Otter Tail 
county thence eastward and northward their numbers are 
greatly augmented, even to the Lake of the Woods, where I 
learn they breed abundantly. Dr. J. C. Hvoslef of Lanesboro 
in Fillmore county through which the Root river runs, writes 



268 NOTES ON THE 

me that "the crow is a resident in the deep valley of the Root 
river even in the severest winters." In his immediate locality 
they are "common, feeding about the slaughter houses." 

Mr. Washburn, who spent from July 28th to September 12th 
in the valley of the Red river in the interests of the survey 
says : "I am rather puzzled to account for the actions of the 
crow in this part of the country. I did not meet with them 
until I reached Ada, and then I saw but a few, flying high in 
the air. I was told at Georgetown, however, fifteen miles 
north of Moorhead, that they are common in the spring. And I 
was told too that they are seen at Ada in June when other 
birds are nesting, but my informant had never seen a nest. As 
autumn approached however, and my journey took me farther 
northward, I met them more frequently. 

' 'The Crow is certainly more common in the northern part of 
the valley than further south. I have learned that this bird 
breeds plentifully about the lakes of Otter Tail county, and in 
immense numbers in the country about Mille Lacs lake, where 
there is more or less pine. I assume that they find in the pine 
sections, conditions more favorable for nesting than near the 
Red river, and that accounts for their scarcity during July and 
part of August; whereas, later in the season, when the young 
crows can fly long distances, and when a change of food is 
desirable, they flock upon the low land of the valley. In Sep- 
tember, I observed large flocks of them near the track, north 
and south of Crookston, and in riding across the country I met 
them in large numbers on the meadow lands, catching and eat- 
ing young frogs, which are exceedingly abundant here this 
season." 

The farmers are close observers of this bird, and have a prac- 
tical knowledge of some of his more interesting habits. I can't 
say quite so much for him in his defense, but I think a charita- 
ble apology by recognizing how he was brought up, and 
acknowledging his services in the destruction of noxious 
ground larvae, are due before exterminating him altogether. 
Like his regal cousin, the raven, he is a shrewd fellow, and 
appreciates a joke as well as almost any other member of his 
numerous family. A farmer in the Sacramento valley, Califor- 
nia, found that the crow could count up to three with infallible 
certainty, but four was too much for him, and he settled it in 
this wise. Immense flocks of them were interested in the 
botany of his cornfield, and did not replant his corn shoots 
after examining the fibrous roots, and he was thoroughly mad 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 269 

about it. He undertook to shoot them indiscriminately, 
"guilty or not guilty." But they were too shrewd for him, as 
some one or more on guard would give a warning note, just as 
he had got nearly ready to give them a broadside of double B 
shot. An unused shanty stood in the center of the field, and 
as he could always approach them much more nearly when 
with no gun, he arose very early in the morning, before day- 
light, and put his double-barrelled gun in there and returned 
home. After his breakfast was over, he walked very deliber- 
ately across the field and into his shanty with very little atten- 
tion from the crows. 

Lighting his pipe, he sat down to let them forget his going 
in there, and after waiting some time he peeped out of a hole to 
see if they had not resumed their botanical investigations, as he 
facetiously called their depredations. To his surprise, not a 
crow was to be seen on his corn, but they were all perched at 
respectful distances watching the shanty. He staid until noon 
in vain, and went to his dinner thinking how he was to deceive 
them. A thought struck him. So after dinner he took one of 
his hired men with him into the shanty, and after staying 
awhile sent him out to his work in another part of the farm, 
and waited for the crows, believing the departure of the man 
would throw them off their guard, but all in vain. The next 
day he took two men in, and after a short time one went away, 
and a while after the second followed, and he thought "now I 
surely will beat them," but not a crow came, till discouraged 
he went home. Thinking the matter over in the night he 
decided that as he had begun on that line he would see how 
many the crows could count, and in the morning called in one 
more man. One after another took their departure, the last 
one wearing away an outside garment he had worn in himself. 
To his great delight, very soon after the third man left the 
crows began to light down in great numbers and in good range. 
After all were down, and feeding, he suddenly flung open the 
door, and as they rose, he gave them first one barrel and then 
the other, and made the biggest crow shot on California 
records, winging, killing and otherwise disabling something 
over a score of birds. To his joy he found that by going into 
that shanty every day with some of his men, without remain- 
ing at all, not a Crow would light on his corn, but the first 
day he failed to go there they poured down upon it as if no 
such catastrophe had ever decimated their ranks. That farmer 
says he knows that a Crow can count three. 



270 NOTES ON THE 

By the twentieth of April the nests are generally finished 
and incubation fairly entered upon. The nest is placed in the 
fork of a tall tree, pine where that kind of timber grows, and 
consists of a thick course of sticks and twigs, overlaid by 
moss, barks of different kinds, or dried grass, and well lined 
with bark and leaves. Four eggs is usually the complement, 
colored some shade of green and covered with splotches of 
different shades of brown, and dusky. One brood only is 
reared. 

I am afraid I cannot add anything to the welfare of this 
bird economically considered. The weight of testimony is all 
against him. He must understand that the waste places of the 
earth only are voted him henceforth and forever. In common 
with all of the other members of the family he has got a bad 
name. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill much compressed; curved from the base, rather more 
so towards the tip; incumbent feathers of nostrils reach half 
the distance from the base of the bill to the end of the lower 
mandible, and not quite half way to that of the upper; fourth 
quill longest, second shorter than sixth, first shorter than 
ninth; glossy black with violet reflections, even on the belly; 
tarsus longer than the middle toe and claw and has eight 
scales anteriorly; the lateral toes are very nearly equal; the 
inner claw the larger and reaching to the base of the middle 
claw; the webs of the throat feather are a little loose, but lie 
quite smoothly without the pointed, lanceolate character seen 
in the ravens. 

Length, 19 to 20; wing, 13 to 13.5; tail, 8. 

Habitat, North America from fur countries to Mexico. 

COEVUS OSSIFRAGUS Wilson. (490.) 

FISH CJROW. 

The appearance of this species in Minnesota of course was 
accidental. On September 21st, 1869, I was driving in the 
vicinity of this city near a small lake, when a flock of what I 
calculated were not less than a hundred and fifty crows passed 
over me from the north and lighted on a plowed field close to 
the road along which I was driving. Several of our common 
crows were feeding on the same field, which possibly was the 
immediate cause of their alighting, but the contrast in size 
arrested my attention before they stopped their flight. The 
most ordinary observer could not have failed to see the differ- 
ence in their sizes. Having my field glass with me I stopped 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 271 

my carriage and enjoyed as good an opportunity for observing 
them as I would ask, except to have them in my hands, which, 
having no gun with me, I could not do. The resemblance in 
general form, color and movement was such that had there 
been none of the other species, and they had not lighted on the 
same field, I might not have identified them, at least I could 
not with the same certainty. I have never seen them since 
with sufficient certainty to list them, yet I believe I have 
observed them in migration on one or two similar occasions. 
I have little doubt that they visit Hudson bay occasionally at 
least. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Fourth quill longest; second rather longer than seventh, first 
shorter than ninth. Glossy-black, with green and violet re- 
flections; the gloss of the belly greenish. 

Length, 15^; wing, 10^; tail, less than 7 inches; tarsus 
shorter than the middle toe and claw. 

Habitat, said to be Atlantic coast from Long Island to Florida. 

Family ICTEEID^E. 

DOLICHONYX ORYZIVORUS (L ). (494.) 
BOBOLINK. 

The Bobolink has shown greater variations in the dates of 
its arrival in the vicinity of Minneapolis than almost any other 
species of migrating birds. In the spring of 1870 it came on 
the 5th of April. In 1865, none were seen until the 18th of 
May. As a general average the males appear between the 
27th of April, and the 7th of May, followed in a few days by the 
females. Their distribution is universal over the State in 
sections affording their favorite meadows. Their habits are 
always of exceptional interest to those who are observers of 
birds. The morning one is seen first after arrival, others will 
..be seen, and generally upon a green grass-plat grazed very 
closely by cattle, drawn there by the presence of different 
species of larvae upon which they feed in the absence of all kinds 
of seeds. While the females are still absent they sing but 
little comparatively, but instantly upon their arrival the music 
begins in earnest. Courtship is inaugurated at once by the 
songster with a frenzied display of his powers of melody. 
With the feathers of his black head slightly lifted, and those 
of the yellowish white neck thrown into a crest, the wings 



272 NOTES ON THE 

partially spread, and drooping, displaying to the best possible 
advantage the harlequin dress of boldly contrasted colors, he 
pours out his devotions in song while waltzing around her on 
the ground or mounting into the air above and in front of her, 
he hovers over her, fairly bursting with the notes of his 
ardent professions, until she flies from his demonstrations, 
when he accepts the hint and follows her through fences and 
bushes furiously until she yields to his persistence and from 
thence through all the period of nestbuilding, incubation, and 
rearing the brood they remain most truly united. 

Early in June the nest is built in a tussock or depression in 
the ground, which is further excavated by the birds, and con- 
sists of dried grasses, rather slightly disposed. It is usually 
in a meadow near a rivulet of clear running water, and con- 
tains about five eggs of a brownish-clay color, with spots and 
blotches of different shades of umber. 

As soon as incubation is completed, the hitherto jubilant 
male drops his singing and his gaudy dress, and assuming a 
plain sparrow- like mantle, only lingers long enough to see that 
the brood can care for themselves, when, with his faithful 
companion, he spends the remaining summer in the quietest 
ramblings conceivable. About the first of September, often as 
early as the 25th of August, old and young gather into flocks 
and begin to slowly work their way southward, feeding by day 
and making their flights in the early dawn. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

General color in spring black; nape brownish- cream; a patch 
on the side of the breast, scapulars and rump white, shading 
into light ash on the upper tail coverts and the back below the 
interscapular region; the outer primaries sharply margined 
with yellowish- white, the tertials less abruptly; the tail 
feathers margined at the tips with pale brownish ash. 

Length, 7.70; wing, 3.83; tail, 8.15. 

Habitat, eastern North America to the Great Plains. 

MOLOTHRUS ATER (Boddaert). (495.) 

COWBIRD. 

The Cowbirds are as fully represented throughout the State 
as in almost any other with which I am equally well acquinted. 
They reach us not far from the first of April, and retire again 
about the 25th of October. In occasional springs I have seen 
them as early as the 25th of March, and in others not before 
the middle of April. And I have seen some of them remaining 



BIRDS OP MINNESOTA. 273 

in autumn until into December, but far more frequently until 
the month of November, yet in either case in very limited 
numbers. 

It is more commonly found fil'st after its appearancie in spring, 
along the streams, in small flocks, perched for half an hour at 
a time or more, in the tops of scattering, leafless trees. These 
little parties are doubtless the advance pioneers of the species, 
on their way to still higher latitudes that move on shortly, 
leaving the locality for others alike migrating, until the rear 
comes to occupy the territory left them by some unwritten law 
yet to be learned by curious mortals. These parties are not 
unfrequently mixed somewhat with Red wing Blackbirds. 
When those which are to remain during the summer have 
come, they at once begin to associate with the herds of cattle 
grazing the fields and commons. Very soon afterwards their 
numbers increase preceptibly as the herds increase. I have 
often noticed them scattered in small parties through an immense 
herd, tripping sprily about their feet, and under their bellies, 
feeding industriously upon some forms of food evidently asso- 
ciated with the presence of the cattle. It seemed as if the life 
and limbs of each individual were momentarily jeoparized by 
the countless feet of the herd, yet in no instance did I ever 
know of either life or limb suffering by the proximity. After- 
wards during the warmest days of summer, these remarkable 
birds may be seen often, perched along the backs of the cattle 
while feeding, and when lying down chewing their cuds, em- 
blems of contentment and repose. At such times I have re- 
peatedly witnessed the approach of the bird, when it would 
hop from the ground onto the head of the animal, walk un- 
hesitatingly down along the face and pick in the angles of the 
eyes for some time, evidently to the entire satisfaction of the 
animal thus relieved of the annoying flies and midgets abound- 
ing there. 

About the time that the birds generally begin to lay their 
first eggs, the females of this species are noticed to become 
moody, and to separate themselves from the flocks. Flying 
about solitarily from thicket to thicket, and tree to tree, they 
are found to be in the urgent necessities of finding a place in 
which to deposit their matured eggs. Building no nests of 
their own, of the instinct for doing which for some reason they 
are deprived, they drop the imminent egg in the nest of some 
one of the other species of birds, more commonly perhaps, 
that of warblers and sparrows, or the vireos, but scarcely less 



274 NOTES ON THE 

frequently the sparrow or thrushes. I believe that the Cow- 
bird is without the slightest preference as to what, or whose 
nest receives her mysterious deposit, but her instincts have 
taught her not to take such liberties with the nests of rapaci- 
ous, nor pugnacious species, and as a matter of course the 
unwelcome responsibility falls more commonly upon the weak 
and timid. The thrushes therefore ordinarily escape, and 
most of the vireos do so next in frequency, while the tiny 
warblers, and the less vigilant sparrows, bear the imposition 
more uniformly. Notably, the period of incubation for this 
species is a little less, than for any one of those which are 
thus imposed upon, thus increasing the probabilities of the 
maintenance of the species. One of the most comical spec- 
tacles ever falling under my observation in bird-life, has been 
the appearance of a young Cowbird nearly large enough to 
take to its wings, still sitting 07i (in was impossible) the nest 
of the Maryland Yellow-throat, and the female of that diminu- 
tive species in the act of feeding it. The tiny excavation 
could scarcely afford room for its feet, to say nothing of its body, 
and with its feathers fluffed so much as to double its apparent 
size, the mouth extended to its utmost, while the midget foster 
mother, at the hazard of being swallowed herself bodily, 
plunging her morsels far down the abyssal throat of the 
ungracious usurper, who has unavoidably destroyed the 
mothers own birdling in the process of its development. 

Let that species of birds which has no foundlings to rear, 
question this strange and exceptional provision of a beneficent 
Creator for the perpetuation of another species. Great rules 
are often revealed by their exceptions. The birds have no 
decalogue. What poor little bird-mother, so long imprisoned 
by her duties in obedience to the demands of her maternal 
instincts, may not justly envy this one, which has all of the 
pleasures, and none of the sacrifices of bird- life, except the 
agonizing anxieties of the brief moment spent in extruding her 
egg into another birds nest? 

From all that I have learned from personal observations, I 
conclude that the Cowbird lays about the same number of 
eggs as the average of its family. It is not uncommon to 
find two in the same nest, and only a little less so to find three. 
I have recorded two instances of four, and one of five. It is 
by no means certain in any case where more than one is found 
that the same female deposited all of them. Indeed it is more 
presumptive that if her instincts should send her to the same 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 275 

nest to lay five eggs, she would try her bill and feet at building 
a nest for herself exclusively. 

These birds distribute themselves over the entire State, so 
that they may be seen almost daily in their favorite localities 
until late in the autumn as already mentioned, but at no time 
in such vast numbers as Coues has described them in some of 
the other western states. Their remarkable disappearance in 
August which he speaks of (in his "Birds of the Northwest,") has 
never occurred here to my knowledge, although I have noticed 
that they were less active during the period of their moulting. 
Mr. Washburn found them common in his explorations of the 
ornithology of the Red river valley in the middle of August, 
and in Otter Tail county on the 17th of October. 

My memorandum says for one year, "Very common Novem- 
ber 15th in the middle and western part of Hennepin county." 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Second quill longest; first scarcely shorter; tail nearly even, 
or very slightly rounded; male with the head, neck and ante- 
rior half of the breast, light chocolate-brown, rather lighter 
above; rest of body lustrous black, with a violet- purple gloss 
next to the brown, of steel-blue on the back, and of green 
elsewhere; bill short and stout, and about two-thirds the length 
of the head; claws rather small. 

Length, 8; wing, 4.50; tail, 3.40. 

(Female light olivaceous all over, lighter on the head and 
beneath; bill and feet black.) 

Habitat, U. S. from Atlantic to Pacific oceans. 

XANTHOCEPHALUS XANTHOCEPHALUS 

(Bonaparte). (497.) 

YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD. 

Whatever their numbers in other western localities, the Yel- 
low-headed Blackbirds are far from abundant in any portion 
of Minnesota yet explored. 

Neither are they even approximately uniformly distributed, 
although all of the conditions favorable for them are found in 
nearly every considerable portion of the State. 

The males are so large and their markings so conspicuous 
that they cannot escape attention even when their numbers are 
very few, and they confine themselves so closely to their breed- 
ing places that whoever finds them once is pretty sure of find- 
ing them at the same places the next time he seeks them. 



276 NOTES ON THE 

Their spring arrival is later than any other species of the 
family, being more frequently after, than before May first, and 
generally the females and males arrive nearly, if not quite 
simultaneously. 

They seek marshy places where coarse, strong reeds abound, 
and in water too deep or miry for approach except with a boat. 
Here they build their nests in small communities, suspending 
them by firm and very ingenious attachments to about four or 
five of the firmest reed-stalks, but little above the surface of the 
surrounding water. Coarse grasses and the leaves of the reeds 
are used in its structure, in such a manner as to evince a high 
degree of ingenuity in bird-architecture. It varys somewhat in 
depth but is relatively a deep nest, with the border elevated 
and thickened into a strong brim. These nests are finished, and 
occupied by from four to six grayish-green eggs spotted all 
over with reddish or umber brown, by the first or second week 
in June. I have never known them to bring out more than one 
brood, in caring for which the males have seemed to share all 
incidental burdens. Their efforts at song are amusing, being 
much more of a cachination which reminds one of those of a 
precocious male chicken, making its first rather weak attempts 
to crow. 

After maturing their broods they become a little more dis- 
tributed, but by no means generally, as do the other members of 
its family, until preparing for migration, which takes place a 
little earlier than the Red-wings. Like the latter they feed 
principally upon wild rice which abounds along the course of 
streams and in shallow ponds and lakes, but they are often seen 
in the yards where cattle and dairy cows are herded, strolling 
about as fearlessly as the Cowbirds, with whom they are greatly 
prone to associate, apparently drawn by the scattering seeds, 
grains and intestinal worms occasionally dropped in the offal. 
For almost thirty years they have bred and fed in one locality, 
long since within the earliest corporate limits of this city (Min- 
neapolis) until their old reedy haunt" became too valuable for 
poor folks and was buried under the deep grading for city lots. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

First quill nearly as long as second and third, (longest) 
decidedly longer than the third; tail rounded or slightly grad- 
uated; general color black, including the inner surface of 
wings and axillaries, base of lower mandible all round, feathers 
adjacent to nostrils, lores, upper eyelids and remaining space 
around the eye; the head and neck all around, the fore part of 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 277 

the breast, extending some distance down on the median line 
and a somewhat hidden space round the anus, yellowish; a con- 
spicuous white patch at the base of the wing formed by the 
spurious feathers, interrupted by the black alula; female 
smaller, browner; the yellow confined to the under parts and 
sides of the head, and a superciliary line; a dusky maxillary 
line; no white on the wing. 

Length (of male), 10; wing, 5.60; tail, 4.50. 

Habitat, western America from Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin 
and north Red river to California, south to Mexico. 

AGEL4ITJS PHCENICEUS (L.). (498). 
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD. 

The Red- winged Blackbirds are an exceptionally abundant 
species here. They reach the southern counties about the 20th 
of March and the principal parts of the State about the 1st of 
April. They come in small flocks generally and some springs 
a single bird will appear several days in advance of the parties 
to follow. They take to the reeds, and especially the cat-tails 
of which they seem to be very fond, obtaining, doubtless, a 
portion of their food from them. The males sing their brief, 
melodious songs from the tops of the trees and bushes, which 
being devoid of leaves, makes them conspicuous objects in 
their black mantles with scarlet epaulets. Their notes are 
limpid, sweet and resonant, and are amongst the cheeriest of 
the early spring. When not singing he keeps a constantly 
repeated check, check, check, from v^hich he frequently abruptly 
presses into the liquid utterance of o-kle-ree-e-e-e-ee; o-kle-ree- 
e-e-e-ee, during which his wings and tail are suddenly spread 
and he bows and sidles as if receiving a regal introduction to 
somebody allied to the queen. The males precede the females 
about ten days. Mating immediately follows the arrival of the 
latter and by the 10th of May they engage in building their 
nests in communities in the meadows and swamps. Tussocks 
of grass or lo'w bushes standing in water are preferably 
chosen, but proximity to the water will answer. Coarse 
grasses are interlaced and woven into a strong, deep nest 
which involves the stalks of grass and twigs, upon which they 
are built. It is lined with fine grasses and fibrous roots and 
generally receives from four to five eggs of a light blue color. 
They bring out two broods, and soon after the last is able to 
fly strongly, gather into flocks. As the season advances these 
flocks aggregate into larger ones until their numbers often 
exceed all computation, feeding upon grain fields and wild 



278 NOTES ON THE 

rice. About October 25th they move southward, but their 
numbers are immediately re-supplied by others from still 
further north, so that to the casual observer there is little 
diminution until considerably later. Indeed a few do linger 
until near, or even into December in occasional autumns. 

Mr. Lewis found them in myriads in Grant county in Sep- 
tember, and still fairly represented on October 20th. 

Mr. Washburn found them the most abundant of their fam- 
ily in the Red river valley in August, and still numerous asso- 
ciates with brewers and the rusty blackbirds in Otter Tail 
on October 25th. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

General uniform lustrous velvet-black, with a greenish 
reflection; shoulders and lesser wing coverts bright crimson. 
or Vermillion red; middle coverts brownish- yellow, and usually 
paler towards the tips; tail much rounded, the lateral feathers 
half an inch shorter; fourth quill longest; first about as long as 
fifth; bill large and stout, half, or more than half as high as 
long. 

Length, 9.50; wing, 5; tail, 4.15. 

Habitat, North America in general. 

STURNELLA MAGNA (L.). (501.) 

MEADOWLARK. 

The accidents of early associations and the idiosyncracies of 
individual sensibility to the melody of bird-songs may account 
for the diversity of the measure of welcome which different 
birds meet upon their arrival in spring, yet to me it remains 
unexplained that comparatively so few seem to appreciate the 
arrival and presence of the Meadowlark. Braving the cold, 
rough winds incident to these northern latitudes in the early days 
of April, he drops down suddenly onto some slightly elevated 
object, like a stone, an old ant hill, a low shrub or bush, or in 
the absence of all these, onto about the third rail of a worm 
fence along the roadway, and bursts into song. A single note 
of it reaching the ear of those who know him, between the 
gusts of high wind, arrests all attention, until its most wel- 
come source is ascertained. The females are never long behind, 
and as the season advances, the song, at first broken into con- 
siderable intervals, grows more and more frequent until the 
nesting time draws near, when mounting higher objects, like a 
stake in the fence, a high bush, or even the topmost branch 
of a medium sized shade tree, he sings his clear, limpid song, 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA 279 

broken into short intervals, during which he keeps nervously- 
twitching, jerking and expanding his somewhat abbreviated 
tail, or dashing into the air, uttering a chuckling twitter, and 
sailing off, prairie-hen like to another perch to repeat his 
beautiful and delicious song. Nesting is usually begun about 
the middle of May, occasionally earlier, and of tener later. Two 
broods are reared in a season. They lay four to five white 
eggs, speckled and blotched with reddish-brown or lilac. 

The nest consists of coarse, dried grasses outwardly, and fine 
grasses within, and is placed in an excavation in a tuft or tus- 
sock of the ranker grass of the previous year, the tops of the 
inner stalks of which are adroitly fastened together and con 
cealed by other loose material mingled with and dropped upon 
it, leaving an obscure opening on one side only. A more se- 
cure or completely concealed home could scarcely be conceived 
amidst so great exposure in the dry, elevated, open fields, con- 
stituting their chosen local habitats. Their food consists of 
insects and worms, for the obtaining of which their bills are 
remarkably adapted, being very long, acutely tapered from the 
base which is firm, deep and very strong, thus preparing them 
to bore through the dry, compact soil of the uplands where 
they remain. 

Individuals of this species remain very late in the autumn, 
especially in the southern counties — indeed, Dr. Hvoslef, of 
Lanesboro, in Fillmore county, which borders Iowa in the south- 
east, met this bird on the third of January, sitting on the fence 
in the act of singing — a jolly fellow that. If he had been a 
permanent resident we should have known that he was daft. 
They are mostly given by the last of October. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Feathers above dark brown, margined with brownish-white, 
with a terminal blotch of pale reddish-brown; exposed portions 
of wing and tail with transverse bars of dark brown bars 
which are confluent along the shaft on the middle tail feathers; 
beneath yellow with a black pectoral crescent, the yellow not 
extending on the side of the maxilla; sides, crissum, and tubiae, 
pale reddish brown, streaked with blackish; a light median 
and superciliary stripe, the latter yellow anterior to the eye; 
and a black line behind. 

Length, 10.60; wing, 5; tail, 3.70; bill above, 1.35. 

Habitat, eastern United States. 



19z 



280 NOTES ON THE 

STIIRNELLA MAGNA NEGLECTA (Audubon). (501&.) 
WESTERN MEADOW LARK. 

This species has been occasionally obtained in the Red river 
valley for the last fifteen years, but is still rare. It has been 
collected as far down as the Indian Reserve in Pipestone 
county. I am very familiar with this bird, and its various 
modifications of song as exhibited in the mountains, foot hills 
and valleys of California where I spent about two years in the 
enjoyment of special facilities for observing them, as I was 
making a collection of the birds from Trucker to Sonoma and 
south to San Diego in 1871-2. 

SPECIFIC CHARA.CTERS. 

Feathers above dark brown, margined with brownish-white, 
with a terminal blotch of pale reddish-brown; exposed portion 
of wings and tail with transverse bands, which in the latter 
are completely isolated from each other, narrow and linear; 
beneath yellow, with a black pectoral crescent; yellow of the 
throat extending on the sides of the maxilla; sides, crissum, 
and tibia, very pale reddish-brown, or nearly white, streaked 
with blackish; head with a light median, and superciliary 
stripe, the latter yellow in front of the eye, a blackish line 
behind it; the transverse bars on the feathers above (less so 
on the tail) with a tendency to become confluent near the 
exterior margin. 

Length, 10; wing, 5.25; tail, 3.25; bill, 1.25. 

Habitat, western United States from Wisconsin, Minnesota, 
Iowa to Pacific coast. 

ICTERUS SPURIUS (L.). (506.) 
ORCHARD ORIOLE. 

This is a fairly common summer resident, arriving about the 
middle of May and retiring southward about the first of Sep- 
tember. Its song is clear, strong and thrush-like in melody. 

The nests are usually constructed and incubation commenced 
by the second week in June, and occasionally a little earlier. 
The structure consists of green or nearly fresh wiry grasses 
compactly woven and lined with finer grasses, inner bark of 
coarse weeds and coarse hairs of cattle and horses. It is 
usually suspended from a fork in a limb from seven to ten or 
twelve feet from the ground. In the absence of the orchards, 
from which it has received its common name in the east and 
south, it seems to prefer a low tree of almost any species of 
timber if somewhere about the size of a matured apple tree 
and located on a somewhat elevated, dry sidehill with no rela- 
tion to approximate water. 



BIRDS OP MINNESOTA. 281 

I have never known them to bring out more than one brood in 
the season. After the young are sufficiently grown to fly they 
disappear from their ordinary localities and are afterwards 
less frequently seen, except by those familiar with their post 
nidifying habits. Their distribution throughout the State is 
universal. Mr. Washburn and many others report it common 
in districts explored by them. 

Note. — Authors differ as to the pensile character of the 
Orchard Oriole's nest. In his Birds of New England, Samuels 
on page 347 says: "It is not pensile, but is built on the 
branch." Langille says an page 245 of his "Our Birds in 
their Haunts:" — The nest is hung by the upper edge to a limb." 

I have never seen a nest o?i a limb, as the former states, and 
from the entire mechanism of it I can not see how it could be 
thus placed, but while always hung by the upper edge, I have 
met instances when it received substantial support from a 
fortuitous limb under it which was firmly secured to it. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill slender, attenuated, considerably decurved; tail moder- 
ately graduated; head and neck all around, wings, interscap- 
ular region of the back and tail feathers, black; rest of under 
parts, lower part of back to tail, lesser upper wing coverts 
and the lower one, brownish-chestnut; a narrow line across 
the wing and the extreme outer edges of quills, white. 

Length, 7.75; wing, 3.25; tail, 2.60. 

Habitat, United States west to the Plains. 

ICTERUS GJALBULA (L.). (507). 
BALTIMORE ORIOLE, 
Pew of the birds spending their summers in Minnesota 
arrive with more pronounced regularity than the Baltimore 
Oriole. Years in succession he had not varied three days 
from the tenth of May. The very characteristic note of the 
male upon his first appearance will arrest the attention of 
anyone enough to secure a careful search for him, when his 
unmistakable plumage settles his identity for everyone. The 
females usually arrive about three days later, rarely more, but 
not infrequently have they come within twenty-four hours. In 
the interval between the arrival of the sexes, the males have 
a very peculiar, clear, strong, whistling association of about 
three or four notes, which are at once exchanged for a beauti- 
ful, pathetic variety, when she has come. They sing quite 
volubly, and voluptuously while pairing, and only less so dur- 
ing incubation, but become comparatively silent afterwards, 
until they retire southward not far from the 30th day of August. 



282 NOTES ON THE 

Thirty years ago, when the population of the entire State 
was only about the same as that of one of her chief cities now, 
this species was correspondingly represented by fewer num- 
bers, but unlike some other species, civilization has favored its 
multiplication probably tenfold. I have no doubt that a hun- 
dred nests might be found in the corporation of Minneapolis 
(after extra-limiting half that number of promising additions) 
and possibly double that figure, while along the highway be- 
tween it and St. Paul, in a distance of five miles, one- fourth as 
many more would be possible to be found. I have found no 
arboreal portion of the State except the coniferous or the 
swampy, where the species is unrepresented. 

They commence building their nests about the 20th of May, 
for the most beautiful description of which I shall offer no 
apology for quoting Nuttall: "There is nothing moreremarka 
ble in the whole instinct of our Golden Robin than the ingenu- 
ity displayed in the fabrication of its nest, which is in fact, a 
pendulous, cylindrical pouch of five to seven inches in depth 
usually suspended from near the extremities of the high, droop- 
ing branches of trees such as the elm, the pear, or appletree, 
wild cherry, weeiDing willow, tulip- tree, or button wood. It is be- 
gun by firmly fastening natural strings of the flax of the silk- weed 
or swamp hollyhock, or stout, artificial threads around two or 
more forked twigs corresponding to the intended width and depth 
of the nest. With the same materials, willow- down, or any acci- 
dental ravellings, strings, thread, sewing-silk, tow or wool, that 
may be lying near the neighboring houses or around grafts of 
trees, they interweave and fabricate a sort of coarse cloth into the 
form intended, towards the bottom of which they place the real 
nest, made chiefly of lint, wiry grass, horse and cow hair, 
sometimes in defect of hair, lining the interior with a mixture 
of slender strips of smooth vine-bark, and rarely with a few 
feathers; the whole being of a considerable thickness, and 
more or less attached to the external pouch. Over the top, the 
leaves, as they grow out, form a verdant and agreeable canopy, 
defending the young from the sun and rain. There is some- 
times a considerable difference in the manufacture of these 
nests, as well as in the materials which enter into the compo- 
sition. Both sexes seem to be equally adepts at this sort of 
labor, and I have seen the female alone perform the whole 
without any assistance, and the male also complete this labor- 
ious task nearly without the aid of his consort, who, however, 
in general is the principal worker." 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 283 

Their eggs, usually four, sometimes six, are flesh- colored, 
and not unfrequently with a bluish shade, with lines of 
lavender, over all of which are strongly marked scratches of 
brown and black. 

The species is one of those which the agriculturist and 
horticulturist ought to call "blessed," and to which he should 
make an offering of all of his garden peas without a murmur, 
in view of its extensive destruction of canker-worms, cater- 
pillars, and other ruinous larvae. Its marvelous beauty, song, 
and immeasurable service in the destruction of such indisput- 
able numbers of his enemies, should forever secure it immunity 
form his curses (for stealing his peas) as the cunning of the 
location secures it from his cats. 

The devotion of the parents to their nests and offspring has 
no more exalted illustration in bird-^biography, exposing them- 
selves to all dangers and to death itself in their protection. 
Instances of the capture of the young are on record where the 
parents have followed them long distances and afterwards con- 
tinued to feed them through the bars of their cage till full 
grown. One kindred incident has found a place in North 
American Birds, "where the female entered her nest while he 
was in the act of severing the limb from which it was sus- 
pended, and persisted in remaining there until the nest had 
been cut off and taken into the house." (Ridgway.) 

Mr. Washburn in his Red river valley report to me says: 
"Fairly common everywhere, in the timber along streams. 
The richness and depth of color, reported as peculiar to 
western birds of this species, is particularly noticable in birds 
taken in the valley. The orange-yellow of some individuals 
noticed was of such a deep hue as to be almost scarlet. " These 
instances of intense coloration, come frequently under my obser- 
vation in many different species, but so far as individuals are 
involved, the difference is relatively no greater than those I 
observed on the Pacific coast. Amongst all the highly colored 
species, there is an annual advancement up to the fourth year, 
and in some, including the present species, to the fifth year, as 
extended, consecutive observations have established. 

For an instance, a young oriole of the species, when clam- 
bering out into the parapet of its nest before being quite able to 
fly, was blown off by a sudden gust of wind, onto the ground quite 
near the residence of a friend who was very much interested 
in birds. His cat seized it instantly but being on the spot he 
rescued the victim, yet not until the cat had torn a piece of 



284 NOTES ON THE 

skin from one side of its neck. The unfortunate birdling was 
immediately restored to its place by the employment of a long 
ladder. Of course it was an easy matter to distinguish this 
one from the others by the disfigured neck while the family 
remained about there, which it did until its departure with the 
others southward. 

Nothing more was thought of the circumstance till the fol- 
lowing spring, when a pair of orioles commenced building in 
another tree near by, gathering their strings and threads from 
the debris of the chip-pile under the window, with which to 
construct the frame work of the nest. The disfigurement men- 
tioned, arrested the attention of those who first saw them, 
as it was on the male. For five successive years this individ- 
ual returned and built on different trees within a hundred yards 
of the house, and after a little painstaking was identified, 
thus affording a perfectly consecutive history of the modifica 
tion of the colors of the plumage under the ordinary circum- 
stances of observation. Many other similar instances of other 
species might be introduced. The one narrated affords a sug- 
gestion for means of determining many interesting questions 
in this department of natural history. The orioles all disap- 
pear with the advent of the frosts of autumn. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail nearly even; head all around and to the middle of the 
back, scapulars, wings, and upper surface of tail, black; rest 
of under parts, rump, upper tail coverts, lesser wing coverts, 
and terminal portions of tail feathers except the two inner- 
most, orange-red; edge of wing quills, and a band across the 
tips of the greater coverts, white. 

Length, 7.50; wing, 3.75; tail, 2. 

Habitat, eastern United States to the Rocky mountains. 

SCOLECOPHAGUS CAROLINUS (Muller). (509.) 
RUSTY BLACKBIRD. 

This blackbird is most noticable in the fall migration when it 
is abundant in association with the other species of its genus. 
It arrives in the spring about the first of April and disappears 
again about the first to the tenth of May moving further north 
to breed. Although I have discovered no nests, nor have any 
been reported to me, yet I am satisfied from many observa- 
tions of their return here at the beginning of October, and 
other circumstances I might mention, they probably breed in 
and around the vicinity of Lake Superior in considerable num- 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 285 

oers. They do so in the northern parts of Maine and New 
Hampshire. Samuels in his Birds of New England says: 
"While in the valley of the Magalloway river in Maine in June, 
1864, I found several (nests) ; and two of them contained three 
eggs each. 

"These nests were all built in low alders overhanging the 
water. They were constructed of, first, a layer of twigs and 
brier stalks; on this was built the nest ]3roper, which was com- 
posed of stalks and leaves of grass, which were mixed with 
mud, and moulded into a firm, circular structure and lined 
with fine leaves of grass and a few hair-like roots. The whole 
formed a large structure, easily seen at the distance of a few 
rods through the foliage. The eggs are of a bluish-white 
color, of oval form, and covered with fine scratches and spots 
of light brown. These markings are almost exactly similar 
to those on the egg of the Great crested Flycatcher. They 
appear as if done with a pen, which as soon as it is pressed 
forcibly on the object, is suddenly withdrawn, making a mark 
wide at one end, and sharply pointed at the other." Their 
dimensions were 1.0-1 by .76 inch, 1.05 by .75 inch and 1 by .70 
inch. 

They reappear in their southern migration about the first 
of October, associated with Brewer's Blackbirds and Redwings, 
and in greatly augmented numbers. At this time their food 
consists almost exclusively of the wasted grain of the harvest. 
They seem to have the faculty of obtaining their food in less 
time than the Redwings, and consequently have more for 
exclusively social enjoyment. Much oC their time is spent on 
the fences, and in the trees, with only an unmelodious note 
like check, or check che iveecha, uttered alike by both sexes. 
They mostly take their autumnal leave of us and move south- 
ward at the beginning of November. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill slender, shorter than head, about equal to hind toe; its 
height not quite two-fifths its total length; wing nearly an inch 
longer than the tail; second quill longest; first a little shorter 
than the fourth; tail slightly graduated; lateral feathers about 
a quarter of an inch shortest; general color black, with purple 
reflections; wings, under tail covens, and hinder part of the 
belly, glossed with green; female, dull brown; iris pale straw 
color. 

Length, 9.51; tail, 4. 

Habitat, eastern North America, west to Alaska and the 
Plains. Breeds from northern New England northward. 



286 NOTES ON THE 

SCOLECOPHAGUS CYANOCEPHALUS (Wagler). (510.) 
BREWER'S BLACKBIRD. 

The migrating movements of this beautiful blackbird do not 
differ from those of the Rusty Blackbird, arriving and depart- 
ing at or about the same times, via: about April first, and 
about November first. They breed abundantly along the Red 
river from Big Stone lake to the Canada line, and eastwardly 
along the shores of the woodland lakes and streams to Mille 
Lacs in Crow Wing county, and less commonly considerably 
further south. 

Mr. Washburn found them at Oeorgetown, Ada and St. Vin- 
cent, August first, old and young in such numbers as to justify 
the supposition that they breed there. Mr. Lewis reports 
them in large numbers embracing the young still further east 
in the same month. 

Wherever their breeding habits have been observed in either 
Minnesota or Dakota it has been noted that they do not do so 
in large communities. A few pairs will be somewhat associ- 
ated, but often only one in a locality. And they almost as 
often select dry, as swampy sections. The nest is a large 
structure compactly built of twigs and finer materials, like 
dried grasses, rootlets, weed-bark and lined with hair. Some 
nests have considerable mud wrought in, but others have none 
at all. The eggs, five to six in number, are a dull greenish- 
gra}^ with several shades of brown in small spots, some of 
which are light and others dark, very irregular in their out- 
lines. 

Doctor Coues in his Birds of The Northwest, page 201, has 
given so true a description of some of the characteristic habits 
of this species that I cannot do better than to quote it. He 
says: "Troops of twenty, fifty, a hundred are commonly seen; 
they have no special fondness for watery places, but scour the 
open, dry ground, and scatter among straggling pines and oaks; 
they come fearlessly into the clearings about houses, the 
traveller's camp, and the stock-yards, gleaning plentiful sub- 
sistence from man's bounty or wastfulness. Much of their 
time is spent on the ground, rambling in hurried, eager search 
for grain and insects; they generally run with nimble steps, 
hopping being the exception, when they have satisfied their 
hunger, and are moving leisurely with no particular object in 
view. The movements are all easy and graceful, the bird's 
trim form and glossy color setting it off to great advantage. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 287 

At full speed the head is lowered and fixed; in slower progress 
it is held upright bobbing in time with each step. When a 
flock is feeding they pass over a good deal of ground, without 
seeming to examine it very closely; every one tries to keep 
ahead of the next, and thus they scurry on, taking short flights 
over each other's head. 

"At the least alarm the timid birds betake themselves to the 
nearest tree, perching in various attitudes. A favorite posture 
so easy as to appear negligent, is with the body held nearly 
upright, the tail hanging loosely straight down, while the head 
turns in various ways, with the whim of the moment. When 
excited, the bird often sits low down, firmly on its legs, with 
elevated and widespread tail, constantly flirted, while its 
watchful eye peers down through the foliage. However com- 
pactly a flock may fly up into a tree, they generally scatter as 
they alight all over its branches, so that it is rarely that more 
than two, or three can be brought down at a shot. On the 
ground the case is quite different; there they huddle together 
so closely that the whole flock may be decimated. Their be- 
haviour in the presence of man is a curious mixture of timidity 
and heedlessness; they come to the very door-step, and yet a 
sudden movement, or a shout, sends them affrighted into the 
nearest trees. The next moment they begin to straggle back 
again, at first singly or in little squads, till the more timid 
ones are reassured and come streaming down together, when 
the busy search for food is resumed. Their hunger satisfied 
for the time, the birds betake themselves to the trees, often 
passing the whole period of digestion snugly ensconsed in the 
thick foliage. Then the concert opens; and if the music is 
neither sweet nor soft, it is sprightly and not disagreeable, for 
it suggests the careless joviality, and lazy good humor of black- 
birds, with their stomachs full, and satisfactory promise of 
future supply. The notes are energetic, rapid and varied with 
a peculiar delivery which, like the yelping of the prairie 
wolves, gives the hearer a very exaggerated idea of the num- 
ber of the performers. '" 

Nearly all the different species of blackbirds are seen in- 
discriminately mingled in the autumnal migrations, but one 
familiar with their individual or rather their specific habits 
will readily discover the species in the manner of flight and 
their walk as well as their feeding. This species does not 
linger as late in individual instances as the Crow Blackbird. 
The farmer's prejudices against the whole ef them is irremov- 
able, nevertheless they are all his true friends. 



288 NOTES ON THE 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill stout, quiscaline, the commissure scarcely sinuated; 
shorter than the head and hind toe; the height nearly half the 
length above; wing nearly an inch longer than the tail; the 
second quill longest; first about equal to the third; tail rounded 
and moderately graduated; the lateral feathers about thirty- 
five one-hundredths of an inch shorter; general color of male 
black, with lustrous green reflections everywhere except on 
the head and neck, which are glossed with purplish violet; 
females much duller, of a light brownish anteriorly; a very 
faint superciliary stripe. 

Length, 10; wing, 5.35; tail, 4.40. 

Habitat, United States, from eastern Kansas and Minnesota 
to the Pacific; south into Mexico; breeds througout its United 
States range. 

(JUISCALUS QUISCULA (L.). (511.) 
PURPLE GRACKLE. 

This very common bird it seems to me has claims upon our 
admiration which have scarcely been acknowledged. Coming 
back to us after the long silence of the winter one of the first. 
and remaining until about the very latest in autumn, essaying 
sometimes to remain all winter, he should awaken our best 
appreciation of him if for nothing more than these reasons, 
but he is a beautiful bird, and has the regal grace in his 
demeanor that shames the strut of the peacock. The flight is 
more than ordinarily graceful, in the shorter ones of which he 
displays a characteristic peculiarity exhibited by no other 
bird I know of, namely folding the tail so as to present a per- 
pendicular rudder-like appearance, still preserving its sym- 
metry perfectly. To do this there must be some specialized 
muscles that depress the central line of the tail while others 
elevate the borders, thus bringing the two halves of the upper 
surface in close contact, and the under surface converted into 
two, looking in opposite directions. 

The coverts preserve their perfect symmetry while they give 
great firmness to the unique aerial rudder of as graceful a 
craft as sails the summer air. They arrive in Minnesota about 
the 25th of March in small flocks or parties and are at once 
domiciled and "at home" for the season. Their distribution is 
universal and their breeding places only less so. After finding 
their nests in a great variety of places I am satisfied they choose 
the vicinity of dwellings not already pre-empted by comrades 
or foes, as I find them common in the very heart of the city 
where there is room enough for the colony. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 289 

The city hall, in the noisiest part of a city of 150,000 people, 
has niches in the cornice which they occupied for many years, 
until the pugnacious little English Sparrows arrived and drove 
them gradually out and occupied them themselves. My near- 
est neighbor, Hon. R. B. Langdon, has encouraged their 
building in the corners of his elegant residence for several 
years, and our elms, maples and evergreens bear good testi- 
mony to where the nesting of this species has been in the 
recent years gone by.* 

The nest is composed of weeds, dried grasses, fine roots and 
other similar materials compacted in mud, and is lined with 
fine grass, weeds and horse hairs. Its location varies in eleva- 
tion from a crotch in a lilac bush, two feet from the ground, to 
the tops of trees sixty or seventy feet. They are very devoted 
to their young and apparently very civil to their neighbors of 
different species, if unannoyed by them, but woe to the in- 
truder. 

The charge of eating the eggs and young of other birds in 
this locality would be a vile slander, and I ask for general and 
specific testimony to the local facts before I will consent to 
have so noble a bird thus maligned. As to the indictments of 
the corn growing agriculturists against him for digging it up, 
I venture to say that they never grew up to manhood without 
a few melon patches having suffered at their several hands, and 
if luscious, ripe melons are an irresistible temptation to one 
who has been brought up with the Westminster catechism in 



*In the case of a great many species of migrating birds, there can be no doubt of 
their annual return to tlie same general, and not infrequently the same special locali- 
ties, from year to year during the life-time of the individual, affording thus an occa- 
sional opportunity to observe the variations of the plumage associated with age. To 
do this reliably, a given individual must have some accidental, unusual mark that is 
persistent, so as to leave no possible doubt, as in the case of the Baltimore Oriole, des- 
cribed with the species elsewhere in the Notes. Another has been recently related 
to me of the present species, by the Hon John DeLaittre, who resides on Nicollet Is- 
land, in the heart of the city, surrounded with the most beautiful forest trees. To- 
gether with many other species, the Crow Blacl<birds breed on that arboreal island, 
one nest of which was several years ago built in a hole in a tree very near his house, 
and so placed that it was within ten feet of a chamber window, from which frequent 
observations were quite unavoidable. Amongst the full grown brood, one male lost a 
leg by some means, most probably a sling-shot of some marauding boy. It seemed 
otherwise well, bat was too well marlvcd to escape constant recognition. 

It disappeared late in the autumn with the rest of a large flock, and upon the return 
of the spring, reappeared with its species, and in due time built a nest in consort with 
its newly chosen companion near the dwelling, reared another brood, and is confi- 
dently expected to return again next year provided no unseen foe has destroyed the 
remaining leg, wings or body. 

Here is a hint of the possibility of following up the life history of individuals, and 
settling some open questions as to the variations of intensity of coloration within a 
uniform term of years. I am persuaded that this species does not reach its highest 
plumage until the fifth year; or until about the end of the first one-fourth of the nat- 
ural life of the individual. 



290 NOTES ON THE 

his hand, germinating corn with its little green flag to locate it 
with certainty, and new corn "in the milk" in the delicious 
covert of broad leaves and silken tassels must be more to these 
uncircumcized aboriginees, who held the soil before they ever 
dreamed of waving corn fields or quarter sections. Besides, a 
grub is found at the root of every fifth hill of what is to be 
corn at all. And he has earned extenuation for breaking the 
sixth commandent by the destruction of hosts of the grubs 
just over in the pasture and meadow before the corn was 
planted. 

They lay four to five eggs, varying in color from light blue 
to light brown, which are marked with obscure spots of light 
brown over which are laid blotches and lines of black and 
umber-brown. They vary in size from 1.30 by .88 to 1.18 by 
.88 of an inch. They usually bring out two broods, unless 
greatly disturbed. The larger portion return southward about 
the first of November, but as already intimated, occasional 
parties remain much later, and in a few localities, all winter. 

Mr. Edward Everett, of Waseca, writes me: — "One or two 
small flocks remain here during the winter in the groves, feed- 
ing on the seeds and grains from the barn yards." Mr. Wash- 
burn found them still represented as far north as Otter Tail 
county on the 25th of October, and Mr. Lewis reports them as 
not gone in many localities further south at a considerably 
later date. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill above, about as long as the head, more than twice as 
long as high; the commissure moderately sinuated and consid- 
erably decurved at the tip; tail a little shorter than the wing, 
much graduated, the lateral feathers one and ten one-hun- 
dredth inches shorter; third quill longest, first between fourth 
and fifth; head and neck all well defined steel-blue; the rest of 
the body with varied reflections of bronze, golden, green, cop- 
per, and purple, the latter most conspicuous on the tail, tail- 
coverts and wings; the edges of the primaries and of the tail 
greenish. Female similar, but smaller and duller, with per- 
haps more green on the head. Iris yellow. 

Length, 13; wing, 5.50 to 6; tail, 5.80; bill, 1.25. 

Habitat, New England and Alleghanies north and west to 
Hudson's Bay and the Rocky mountains. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 291 



Family FRIXGILLID^. 

COCCOTHRAUSTES YESPERTINA (Cooper). (514.) 
EVENING GROSBEAK. 

In characteristics, habits and its history, the Evening Gros- 
beak is a wonderful, if not a mysterious bird. The pecuhar 
combination of its colors in plumage, the huge size of its 
powerful bill, as well as many other things, almost undefinable, 
in its feeding, peeping and flying combine to constitute it a 
very remarkable bird. It is cheerfully assigned the place of 
honor, at the head of our list of the Finch family. After all, 
however, it is least known. It is but recently that it has been 
very closely observed, and very little has been learned of its 
summer habits. It appears in the vicinity of our homes so 
suddenly, so mysteriously, that it seems like a phantom, drop- 
ped out of the autumn clouds. Its entire absence in summer 
contributes materially to this. It comes when most of those 
birds we know, and love, have gone — when the spectral forms 
of the leafless trees are apparently dead, to reclothe them 
with life, and by their peeping, recall the spring. Their trust- 
fulness scarcely recognizes the presence of man. Except their 
frog-like peeping they give nothing by which to judge their 
powers of song. 

But silent and songless, no story he tells, 
Not even to whisper the place where he dwells; 
And when the bright sun to the northward returns, 
Like a ghost, flies away from the land that he spurns. 

I had resided here many years before I saw one of them in the 
flesh or the skin, notwithstanding my extensive observations, 
and my familiarity with every local collection besides my own, 
then known. The individual met with, so far as I have known, 
was found by Mr. T. A. Whitmore, of this city, on Nov. 9, 
1870, in the timber bordering the banks of Basset's creek, 
within or near the corporate limits. Its strongly marked 
colors and huge bill, assured him that it was a new bird, and 
after a prolonged and exhausting pursuit he finally was 
rewarded by securing it. After it was mounted and placed in 
his collection I had the pleasure of examining it many times. 
On Dec. 26th following, a specimen of each sex, in mature 
plumage, was obtained near the city out of a small flock feed- 
ing upon the cottonwoods. 



292 NOTES ON THE 

They were exceedingly unsuspicious and tame. Others 
were subsequently secured, by nearly every birdist in this 
locality, and letters of inquiry came from all sections respect- 
ing them. Following this a period ensued during which for 
several years they were rarely seen, and then only by those 
who were watching closely for them. Later observations lead 
me to think their lines of migration vary considerably even 
when the seasonal characteristics do not. The earliest of my 
own records of this autumnal arrival is November 9th. Prof. 
C. L. Herrick reported some November 20th. Thir stay 
amongst us is usually quite constant, and in flocks of from 20 
to 60 about equally divided between males and females, with a 
larger preponderence of the young of the year. 

This species has been reported to me from many localities of 
the State at different times. Dr. J. C. Hvoslef, found a large 
flock in Lanesboro, near the southern line which appeared there 
on the 15th of February, although he did not fully identify 
them until the 13th of March, by which time "they were very 
numerous in all the woods along the Root river in this neigh- 
borhood, and remained till May the 13th when they all left." 

W. D. Hurlburt, of Rochester, in the southeastern part of 
the State, saw them there some time in March. He says: — 
' ' These birds are constantly about our lawns and trees, pick- 
ing buds and feeding on the ground under the fir trees. I 
notice only one note, a peep as from frogs or young chicks." 
Mr. Edward A. Everett reports them at Waseca February 26th 
to May 12th. 

It seems from all I have seen and what I get from corre- 
spondents throughout the State that there is a longer or 
shorter j)eriod of a still more southern migration. 

That occasional individuals linger quite late in the spring is 
evident from my having seen them as late as May 17th, (1876) 
but they usually disappear, some considerably earlier. 

The Evening Grosbeak's only song in Minnesota yet heard 
is its frog-like peeping which is kept up constantly while feed- 
ing. When perching as they often do on the ridge of build 
ings, and when flying, they are silent. They are exceedingly 
fond of the buds of the box elder (Negurdo), which is a very 
common shade tree with us. 

Their breeding places are in high latitudes to the northwest 
of us principally, except the proper conditions are found by 
altitude in lower latitudes. Its winter distribution is very 
wide, indeed, embracing all the northern states and territories, 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 293 

but is less common in all save Minnesota, Wisconsin and the 
northern portions of Illinois and Iowa, and some sections of 
the extensive interior table lands of the lower territories. For 
many years Dr. Cooper failed to meet with it on the Pacific 
coast until Mr. F. Gruber, an indomitable collector of San 
Francisco, found a specimen at Michigan bluff, Placer county, 
California. The doctor saw the feathers of one recently 
killed at the summit of the Sierra Nevada, latitude 39°, in 
September, 1863. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill yellowish-green, dusky at the base. Anterior half of 
body dark yellowish-olive, shaded in yellow to the rump above, 
and the under tail coverts below. Outer scapulars, a broad 
frontal band continued on each side over the eye, axillaries, 
and middle of under wing coverts, yellow. Feathers along the 
extreme base of the bill, crown, tibiae, wings, upper tail coverts, 
and tail, black; inner greater wing coverts and tertiaries, white. 

Length, 7.30; wing, 4.80; tail, 2 75. 

Habitat, western North America, east to Lake Superior. 

PENICOLA ENUCLEATOR (L.). (515). 

PINE GROSBEAK. 

Another winter visitant from the colder regions of the north. 
It arrives about the middle of November and remains frequently 
until the 20th and 25th of April. Less of a seed, and more if 
possible of a bud-eater than the Evening Grosbeak, it still con- 
sumes both in enormous quantities. Like the last noted spe 
cies the Pine Grosbeak is an unsuspicious, trustful bird, being 
often caught with a noose slipped over his head, or even in the 
hands, while intently feeding. They are gracefully formed 
and beautifully colored when in mature plumage, and very so- 
cial in an unceasing twitter while feeding. Those who have 
heard them in their breeding places say they have a very sweet, 
soft warble somewhat like the canary. Their call notes are 
quite marked and employed by both sexes. They are usually 
found in small parties during their stay with us, averaging 
perhaps a dozen to fifteen, but occasionally many more, and 
sometimes less. Occasionally individuals of this species have 
been obtained in the vicinity of Fort Snelling for thirty years 
past. Its distribution like the Evening Grosbeak's is very un- 
equal, and subject to great variation in different years. As the 
country is larger and larger settled and more improved, their 
relative numbers increase. Their presence in winter has been 



294 NOTES ON THE 

reported through many years from nearly all the openly tim- 
bered sections especially, and less frequently from prairie dis- 
tricts where trees have come to be considerably grown for 
shade and ornamentation. During the winter of 1875, I found 
them exceptionally represented in the vicinity of Minneapolis 
until the 18th of April. Occasionally individuals have been 
seen still later in other years. M. F. L. Washburn reports the 
species common in Otter Tail county, particularly at Lake 
Mille Lacs, which is in timbered lands. At Minnetonka Mills it 
was seen first on November 15th, and remained in that locality 
in considerable numbers until about the 20th of April. It re- 
mains all winter in the vicinity of Thompson and Duluth. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill and legs black; general color carmine-red, not continu- 
ous above except on the head; the feathers showing brownish 
centers on the back, where the red is darker. Loral region, 
base of lower jaw' all round, sides and posterior part of body, 
and under tail coverts, ashy, whitest behind. Wing with two 
white bands across the tips of the greater and middle coverts; 
outer edges of quills also white, broadest on the tertiaries. 

Length, 8.50; wing, 4.50; tail, 4. 

Habitat, northern portions of northern hemisphere. 

CARPODACFS PURPUREUS fGMELiN). (517.) 

PURPLE PINCH. 

In all my ramblings with gun, rod, and note-book, up to the 
26th of November, 1869, I failed to discover the Purple Pinch, 
and had about arrived at the conclusion that I should never 
bring him to my list, when, on that day I discovered a flock of 
about 20. I was in the depth of the great deciduous forest 
unromantically called the Big Woods, about thirty miles west 
of Minneapolis, in special pursuit of ruffed grouse which were 
then very plenty in that section, when I was surprised and de- 
lighted at hearing the characteristic "chink" high above me 
from many throats, and soon discovered its source. They were 
in the extreme top of the tallest hard maples that abound there, 
and could only be identified with my ever-ready field glass. It 
did not take long to seal my discovery by having several in 
both mature and immature plumage to deposit in my collecting 
basket. Since that time it has come to be almost a common 
spring and fall visitor, indeed, resident in the north part of 
the State, where it breeds abundantly. Its nest has been re- 
ported to me as found in the section where I first saw it, but I 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 295 

cannot be quite assured of my authority. Those I have from 
its noted breeding places are made of fine roots, grasses and 
occasional hairs. Not infrequently other materials are incor- 
porated, like fine strips of the inner bark-like fibers of rank 
weeds, and sometimes mosses. 

The eggs are bluish-green with spots and lines of dark brown 
or black, and are much the smallest at one end. I understand 
from reliable observers that they rear two broods each season, 
of four to five, the nests being found at distances varying from 
twenty to forty feet from the ground, and commonly in conif- 
erous trees, but not uniformly. 

It is said to be extremely destructive to the buds of fruit 
trees in New England, which makes it very unwelcome despite 
its beautiful warblings and plumage, but no complaints have 
yet been heard from pomologists in Minnesota. They are said 
to bear confinement well, and become delightfully pugnacious 
little pets, like their more domestic cousins, the House Finch 
or Burions of California. 

Dr. J. C. Hvoslef reports it at Lanesboro, near the southern 
Umit of the State, April 26, 1884. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Second quill longest; first shorter than third, considerable 
longer than fourth; body crimson, palest on the rump and 
breast, darkest across the middle of the back and wing 
coverts, where the feathers have dusky centers; the red 
extends below continuously to the lower part of the breast and 
in spots to the tibi^; belly and under tail coverts white, 
streaked faintly with brown, except in the very middle; edges 
of wings and tail feathers brownish red; lesser coverts like 
the back; two reddish bands across the wings, over the middle 
and greater coverts; lores dull grayish. 

Length, 6,25; wing, 3.35; tail, 2.50; bill above, 0.45. 

Habitat, eastern North America west to the Plains. 

LOXIA CURVIROSTRA MINOR (Brehm). ( 521 ) 
AMERICAN CROSSBILL. 

Somewhat irregularly common in small flocks which usually 
come about the 10th of November in this locality, this remark- 
able species is found in the winter months in nearly all of the 
timbered sections of the State. Their habit of roving around 
from one locality to another is quite characteristic, and they 
suddenly whirl from a given direction of flight and perch upon 
some dry tree-top, leaving themselves by their conspicious col- 

20 z 



296 NOTES ON THE 

ors the most noticable objects above the russet of autumn, or 
the snowy whiteness of winter. Often some prominent tree 
in the very heart of the city becomes the temporary place of 
their appearence and when many eyes are turned upon them, 
they may drop down as suddenly as if some hawk was hover- 
ing over them into a thicket of raspberry or currant bushes, 
just over the fence nearest the observers. They are not shy, 
being often approached very closely by the inquisitive looker-on 
if he have no dog at his heels. 

There seems to be a most reasonable presumption that they 
breed to some extent within our borders, yet not as early as is 
claimed for other sections of the United States in much the 
same latitude. Rev. J. H. Langille of Buffalo New York in 
his charming book. Our Birds in Their Haunts, says: "It is 
well demonstrated that in this country these birds breed in 
winter, or early spring." 

He quotes Audubon's opiaion to the same effect based on 
the assurance of "many persons in the State of Maine" who 
followed lumbering in the pine regions of that State. It is a 
familiar bird to Minnesota lumbermen too, who are largely 
from Maine, who although noticing it so frequently have never 
mentioned either eggs or young. The flocks met with during 
winter are made up principally of the young of the year, with 
just a presumptive representation of paternal adults. Mr. 
Wm. Howling, a local taxidermist of great experience, tells 
me that the full plumaged adult males are only met with com- 
paratively rarely in his business. Now, the flocks have ap- 
peared here as early as the tenth of September, with appar- 
ently no old males at all. They remain until late in April 
with no indications of breeding, although in the light of all 
observations, I am inclined to believe the great body of those 
which have spent the winter months in this locality leave 
about the first of that month, and may at once enter upon in- 
cubation in their proximate nesting places which I presume 
to be the pineries somewhat to the north and east. Mr. Wash- 
burn, who has been employed to collect birds and notes in the 
interest of this report in the Red river valley (and a most 
scrupulous observer) says "on July 27th, at Herman, Minn., 
I observed a flock of these birds feeding on the "galled" 
beans of some young poplars in the village. The galls were 
quite large, and the birds were eagerly biting them open witb 
their peculiar bills to obtain the minute insects within. It has 
a strong, loud note, resembling somewhat those of the Ameri- 
can Goldfinch," 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. . 297 

I suppose these were young birds, probably attended by the 
relative proportion of adult parents. It would seem from 
reliable testimony that the period of incubation in different 
localities extends from January into June, which is certainly 
very remarkable for a species reputed to rear but one brood in 
the year. 

As I have never seen the nest of the Red Crossbill, I shall 
permit myself to reproduce from Mr. Langille's work a quota- 
tion from the description of one by Mr. E. P. Bicknell, found at 
Rimdel, N. Y. 

''The nest was placed in a tapering cedar of rather scanty 
foliage, about 18 feet from the ground, and was without any 
single main support, being built in a mass of small, tangled 
twigs from which it was with difficulty detached. The situa- 
tion could scarcely have been more conspicuous, being close to 
the intersection of several roads, in plain sight of as many 
residences, and constantly exposed to the view of passers-by. 
The materials of its composition were of rather a miscellaneous 
character, becoming finer and more select from without inwards. 
An exterior of bristling spruce twigs, loosely arranged, sur- 
rounded a mass of matted shreds of cedar bark which formed 
the principal body of the structure; a few strips of the same 
appearing around the upper border; the whole succeeded on the 
inside by a sort of felting of finer material, which received the 
scanty lining of horse hair, fine rootlets, grass, straws, pieces of 
string and two or three feathers. The shallow felting of the inner 
nest can apparently be removed intact from the body of the 
structure, which, besides the above mentioned materials, con- 
tains small pieces of moss, leaves, grass, strings, cotton 
substances and the green foliage of cedar. The nest measured 
internally two and a half inches in diameter by one and a 
quarter in depth, being in diameter externally about four 
inches and rather shallow in appearance." 

The eggs are four to five in number varying in size, pale 
greenish variously marked in dots and blotches, with different 
shades of lilac and purplish-brown. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Male dull red, darkest across the back; wings and tail dark, 
blackish -brown; female dull greenish- olive above, each feather 
with a dusky centre; rump and crown bright greenish-yellow; 
beneath grayish; tinged, especially on the sides of the body 
with greenish-yellow; young, entirely brown; paler beneath. 

Length (male), about 6 inches; wing, 3.30; tail, 2.25. 

Habitat, North America generally. 



298 . NOTES ON THE 

LOXIA LEUCOPTERA Gmelin. (522.) 

WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL. 

I found a few specimens of this species in Mr. Shroeder's 
collection in St. Paul as long ago as 1865, and later in Mr. 
Howling's of this city, but I have never met with it in the 
flesh myself. All those I saw in either collection were said to 
have been collected in this State. They were nearly all 
mature birds and readily identified. 

Dr. Brown describes the nest as saucer-shaped, formed of 
lichens, encased in spruce twigs, lined with hair and bark 
shreds, four inches in diameter with a cavity an inch and a 
half deep. The egg is pale blue, spattered at large end with 
fine dots of black and ashy -lilac; taken at New Brunswick. 

Mr. M. Chamberlain, of St. Johns. New Brunswick, while 
moose hunting in the third week in January, found himself 
"face to face with a White-winged Crossbill on her nest, the 
high bank of snow under me bringing ray head about level 
with the nest. * * * The nest was placed in a fork of one of 
the main limbs of the tree and was composed externally of the 
long, gray moss which grew in large patches on most of the 
trees in this vicinity, and so much resembled these patches of 
moss as to be difficult of detection. In the inside was a lining 
of softer moss, and between the lining and the exterior were 
small twigs interlaced. In the nest were three eggs of a 
bluish-white ground color, having dashes of red upon the 
larger end." 

The bill so wondrously formed, as to appear deformed, does 
not naturally differ in appearance from that of the Red 
Crossbill. It is, as with the last mentioned species, used for 
climbing like that of the parrot, as well as penetrating cones 
of the pine and other coniferous trees for the nuts and seeds. 

It is rex)orted as found in several different timbered sections 
within our borders at long intervals, but with what reliability 
I cannot be assured. 

specific characters. 

Bill greatly compressed, acute towards the point; male 
carmine-red, tinged with dusky across the back; sides of body 
under the wings streaked with brown; from middle of belly to' 
tail coverts whitish, the latter streaked with brown; scapulars, 
wings and tail, black; broad bands on wings across the ends 
of the greater and median coverts and spots on the ends of 
the inner tertiaries, white. 

Length, 6.25; wing, 3.50; tail, 2.50. 

Habitat, northern North America. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 299 

ACANTHIS LINAKIA (L.). (528.) 

REDPOLL. 

The Redpolls arrive in the pirincipal portions of the State 
about the middle of October, varying somewhat in different 
seasons, and they come to stay, as their persistence through the 
severest of our winters will attest through twenty- eight years 
of my own observations. I have neither yet seen nor heard 
from any considerable section where they were not most 
usually represented, except at Lanesboro, where Dr. Hvoslef 
says: "One winter I did not see a single one of these birds." 

Formerly they used to literally swarm about our numerous 
flouring mills in Minneapolis during the severe winter weather, 
but the more pugnacious English Sparrow has driven him back 
to his older, wild haunts on the prairies, and in the open tim- 
ber where the seeds of grasses and weeds are supplied in 
abundance -^for his food. They are really a very pretty and 
interesting species that contribute more than any other except 
the snow buntings to cheer the long Minnesota winters with 
their restless movements on the wing, and their soft twitter- 
ings in their flights. Mr. Langille, in his beautiful descrip- 
tions of them, says: "The graceful curves of their undulating 
flight intersect each other at all angles, while here and there 
one seemed to be describing unusually long, sweeping curves 
amidst the dense, moving mass, as if throwing out a challenge 
to its more modest companions. Cru-cru-crucru, shru-shru- 
shru-shru, coming in soft, lisping voices from hundreds of 
throats." 

About the first of April the flocks begin to consolidate and 
fly in wilder swoops, and leave us about the 20th of that 
month, the latest record I have being by Mr. T. S. Roberts' 
on the 1 8th, 1875. The somewhat conspicuous dark-crimson 
on the top of the head, and black patch on the chin leave no 
doubt of i ts identity to even a casual observer, and should there 
be, the manner of flight alluded to already, and their soft, 
chu-chu-chu note constantly repeated in flght will render it 
certain, for only the notes of the Goldfinch resemble theirs, 
and their plumage is too characteristic to confuse in that re- 
spect. They breed in the northeastern portions of the State, 
in the smaller spruces and other evergreens and the willows 
along the streams, in nests constructed of dry grass, strips of 
fibrous barks, roots, moss, fragments of wasps nests, hair, 
twigs thistledown, feathers, etc., woven artistically into a 



300 NOTES ON THE 

firm structure. They are mostly lined with hairs. Four to 
five is the usual number of the eggs. They are pale bluish- 
green, spotted with orange-brown near the larger end. From 
several circumstances, as well as what has been reported to 
me from those familiar with the localities of their breeding I 
think they probably do so in Minnesota about the middle or 
latter part of May, but according to Mr. C. O. Tracy, in an ar- 
ticle published in the OmitJtologist and Oologist in June, 1883, 
and which Mr. Langille has quoted, they breed in Vermont 
much earlier. He found the nest and eggs "the last of March, 
1878." It is a little remarkable how reports of different species 
in this respect differ, when the general conditions seem much 
the same. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Above, light-yellowish, each feather streaked with dark 
brown; crown dark crimson; upper part of breast and sides of 
body tinged with a lighter tint of the same; the rump and un- 
der tail coverts similar but less vivid and with dusky streaks. 
Rest of under parts white, streaked on the sides with brown; 
loral region and chin dusky; cheeks and a narrow front, 
whitish, brightest over the eye. Wing feathers edged exter- 
nally, and tail feathers all around with white; two yellowish- 
white bands across the wing coverts; secondaries and tertiaries 
edged broadly with the same. Bill yellowish, tinged with 
brown on the culm en and gonys; The basal bristles brown, 
reaching over half the bill. 

Length, 5.50; wing, 3.10; tail, 2.70. 

Habitat, northern portions of Northern Hemisphere. 

SPINUS TRISTIS (L.). (529.) 

AMERICAN GOLDFINCH. 

No species of our birds is more irregularly distributed than 
this. Nor is there another more reliably persistent in its fa- 
vorite localities. In all my observations for at least twenty- 
five years, I have never looked in vain for it where it has pre- 
viously reared its young, except when, by great changes in the 
conditions favorable to its breeding, it has been practically 
driven out, as where extensive removal of the timber and brush 
for agricultural purposes has occurred. 

These localities are proximately near running water, where 
the timber is somewhat scattered, and interspersed with smaller 
growths like poplars and alders, and where brushy thickets 
are common. They are also rolling, if not positively hilly, and 
of course dry. They arrive in spring in force late in March 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 301 

and early in April, but the mature males, to a considerable 
extent, still in their winter plumage, and are often unrec- 
ognized on that account. A few usually remain all winter, as 
here and there from all the timbered sections of the state I am 
informed of their presence. 

Dr. Hvoslef, of Lanesboro, near the southern state line, re- 
ports them present in different years, January 16th, February 
4th, March 8th, and December 19th, but in small numbers. On 
the Red river near Pembina, one or two individuals are Irnown 
to remain in the vicinity of where they breed. I can recall no 
winters in fifteen years during which a few have not been seen 
between Minneapolis and Lake Minnetonka, fourteen miles 
west. Mr. Washburn found them "quite common throughout 
the Red river valley and at Mille Lacs lake." They are re- 
ported from Duluth and St. Vincent by several observers. I 
found them in Grant county in November, as well as many other 
widely separated localities. 

Although here in considerable numbers so early they do not 
begin to nest until the very last of May and into June. Dr. 
Hvoslef, a careful and very conscientious observer, says, ' 'Sept. 
12th I found a nest with five eggs in incubation." This sug- 
gests the possibility of a second brood in exceptional cases, as 
it is well known that ordinarily they breed but once. The 
males require two years, or rather two winters to mature their 
plumage. And ever afterwards they undergo a change from 
their summer to their winter dress about the middle of Sep- 
tember, when the yellow is gradually exchanged for olive -brown, 
which obliviates the sexes. In April begins a resumption of 
the summer decorations, which is completed in May. Gregari- 
ous, a number of families usually living in a single locality, the 
males are found together, during the nidifying season, in 
such numbers as to lead the uninitiated to suppose them 
alone to represent the species. Their nests are uniform 
in pattern, but consist of a considerable range of materi- 
als employed in their structure. In some sections, after 
the strips of bark, which form the framework, are securely 
fastened to the twigs of a wild plum or other similar tree, or 
occasionally even a strong, rank weed, it is covered with lichens 
cemented together with saliva for the outside finish and lined 
with various soft materials. In other localities I find the strips 
of bark woven into a neat, firm structure with no lichens or 
saliva at all. Eggs, four, bluish- white, oval in form. 



302 NOTES ON THE 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bright gamboge-yellow; crown, wings and tail black; lesser 
wing coverts, band across the end of the greater ones; end of 
secondaries and tertiaries, inner margins of tail feathers, upper 
and under tail coverts and tibia, white. 

Length, 5.25; wing, 3. 

Habitat, North America generally. 

SPINUS PINUS (Wilson). (533.) 
PINE SISKIN. 

This bird resembles the Goldfinch so remarkably in many of 
its habits as to have left no good reason for its specific differ- 
ence, but in others it is so characteristic that the reasons are 
evident and satisfactory. It arrives here from some lower lati- 
tude about the first of April and remains, feeding mostly like 
the goldfinch, until about the first of June, when it is seldom 
seen except in coniferous timber where it breeds. I have never 
seen its nest, but find considerable discrepancy in the descrip- 
tions of different writers. Dr. Brown says it is "neat, is made 
of pine twigs, and lined with hair." Dr. Merriam says the 
nests are "a very bulky structure for so small a bird, and its 
rough exterior loosely built of hemlock twigs, with a few sprigs 
of pigeon moss interspersed, is irregular in outline, and meas- 
ures about six inches in diameter. The interior, on the con- 
trary is compactly woven into a sort of felt, the chief ingredi- 
ents of which are thistle-down, and the fur and hair of various 
mammals." 

The same authority says of the winter of 1878: "During the 
past winter and spring they literally swarmed in Lewis county, 
New York, and thousands of them bred throughout the heavy 
evergreen forests east of Black river, while many scattered 
pairs nested in suitable hemlock and balsam swamps in the 
middle districts." It is cfertain that Dr. Merriam's observa- 
tions radically differ from any of my own, and where he further 
records the taking of eggs as early as March 18th, and the 
presence of the young in April, I am astonished, for while 
there may have been other similar observations in like lati- 
tudes I have never had them. 

As before stated, these birds reach Minnesota early in April, 
after which they are often seen, both in small parties of their 
own, and associated with the Goldfinches. At the time of 
their arrival, and for some time afterwards, the casual obser- 
ver would scarcely distinguish the two species, or the sexes of 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 303 

either, so little difference is there in their appearance when on 
the wing- or perching a little dista.nce away. But the males of 
the Goldfinches in due time begin to don their courting dress of 
strongly contrasted colors, and become more exclusive in their 
association with their own species until the breeding season is 
over. The song of the Pine Pinch is so much like that of 
the other species, that I have only learned to distinguish it by 
its softer tones and lesser volume when both are in act of 
singing. They build their nests about the beginning of the 
second week in June, chiefly of twigs of spruce, or larch, in 
the section where I live, but uniformly of pine where those 
are found, (with which I have found a few coarse hairs from 
the tails of cattle in one or two instances) and line it with 
hairs of different kinds in as pretty a manner as almost any 
nest I have seen. One nest sent from Princeton, had the larg- 
est amount of those coarser hairs in its main composition of 
any I have seen. When these birds are devoted to incubation, 
they are very rarely seen except specially sought for by one 
somewhat familiar with them. Indeed their incognito contin- 
ues until about the second week in August, when families of 
half a dozen may occasionally be seen flying loosely about the 
backside of a stubble field, lighting here and there on the 
fences, or on the branches of some isolated tree left standing 
in the field for its shade. Later, they may be often detected 
in scattering flocks of the Goldfinches. These two species 
become more and more associated as the season advances, 
until both gradually disappear amongst the latest migrants of 
the fringiUine family in November even, I have received but 
little information through my correspondence to aid me in 
forming any approximate idea of the distribution of this spe- 
cies within the territory of my investigations. Of course, the 
principal numbers go still further north to breed, so that it is 
nowhere at any time an abundant species, if the principal por- 
tion of the season of migration is excepted. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail deeply forked. Above brownish-olive; beneath white- 
ish, every feather streaked distinctly with dusky. Concealed 
bases of tail feathers and quills, together with their inner 
edges, sulphur-yellow; outer edges of quills and tail feathers 
yellowish- green. Two brownish-white bands on the wing. 

Length, 4.75; wing, 3; tail, 2.20. 

Habitat, North America generally. 



304 NOTES ON THE 

PLECTROPHENAX NITALIS (L ) (534.) 
SNOWPLAKE. 

No Minnesotian, compelled by duties, or depletions of his 
purse, to see his more favored friends hie them away from 
our zeros, and blizzards without him, can fail to welcome and 
cherish his best appreciations of the Snow Buntings, which 
appear variously from the 25th of October to the 10th of 
November in bands, or small parties of a dozen to twenty or 
thirty. They are usually met with earliest in the more wild 
and unimproved broad prairies, where the seeds of grasses 
and coarser seeds are most abundant. 

Indeed, in some of our severest winters which generally 
afford less deep snows, I have known them, to remain in the 
most unprotected, fieldless sections, to such an extent that bird 
observers have insisted upon their exceptional scarcity until 
made aware of their mistake by accidentally vis-iting those 
localities during a severe storm perhaps. Undisturbed by the 
obtrusive presence of observers, they will perhaps seek their 
food under the slightest elevations, but they almost unexcep- 
tionally avoid anything approximating a covert. I was pro- 
foundly impressed with the wisdom of this habit many years 
ago. The day, in February, was one of those ' 'only read of in 
books" by persons in the timbered, prairieless latitudes below 
us. The mercury was 37° beJow zero, (45° during the night 
following), and a wind from the northwest was blowing at a 
fearful rate when I was summoned professionally twelve miles 
away across continuous rolling prairie, with barely snow 
enough on the ground to justify runners instead of wheels. I 
began at once to observe frequent flocks of perhaps forty or 
fifty to one hundred Snow Buntings, almost unceasingly rolick- 
ing and cavorting on the wing as if to them it was "the great 
day of the feast." How they could survive, not to say possibly 
endure, such fierce blasts of frozen winds was inscrutible, but 
to see them apparently so jolly was more than a mystery. 
Presently in the very middle of the treeless waste, I 'saw a 
fiock drop into a cluster of weeds slightly protected by a little 
elevation of the general surface of the ground, and instantly 
engage in feeding. 

Scarcely a moment had passed when from another like eleva- 
tion my eye caught a glimpse of an almost invisible tiny 
object, half a mile away to the northwest, coming like a bullet 
before the spinning wind, directly for the spot where the 
Buntings were feeding close to the drifted snow. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 805 

With all the powers of vision I had, aided by the direction 
of the cold winter's sunlight, I could not tell that it was even a 
living object until within a hundred yards of where I was, 
skimming within a hand-breadth of the ground, it swooped 
through the paralyzed flock bearing off a victim in less time 
than it takes me "to dot an i or cross a t. " But in the same 
instant it passed me within thirty yards apparently unconscious 
of my presence, when I clearly identified the Sharp-shinned 
Hawk. Although so long a close observer of the habits of the 
winter birds here, I had not known of the presence -of this 
hawk after about the first of November. Here was the secret 
revealed to my mind why these birds avoid the protection of 
better coverts. 

According to all I have been able to ascertain, they arrive 
quite simultaneously in the upper Red river valley within our 
borders, and in the more southern localities in the State, in 
the family bands found in the remoter north, at or before 
migration. They remain in these smaller flocks until spring 
drawls near, when they begin slowly to consolidate, so that by 
the time for their general movement northward, about the 
25th of March to the 1st of April, they have gathered into 
immense flocks. 

They spend their nights on the slightly protected inclina- 
tions of naked spots on the prairies, where I have many times 
found myself in the very midst of them before I know they 
were in the section. Stragglers occasionally linger long be- 
hind the general migrations. I met them as late as April 15th 
in 1875, and Mr. T. S. Roberts, of Minneapolis, secured a 
pair in very much altered plumage, on May 14th of the same 
year, if my memory serves me rightly. No nests have ever 
been reported, although from the circumstances last men- 
tioned, I see no reason why stragglers may not breed here as 
"on the ground among low bushes," on a slope of the White 
Mountains, in New Hampshire, as reported by Mr. Langille, 
who states that the nest , resembles that of the Song Sparrow, 
and contained young birds. He further says "Another is 
reported even from Springfield, Mass." In its w^onted haunts 
for nesting it is said to ' ' become a bird of accomplished song, 
building a substantial nest on the ground, and in the clifts of 
rocks, lined with feathers and the hair of the Arctic Pox. The 
eggs are whitish-mottled with brown, especially around the 
large end where the blotches sometimes become a dark 
wreath." 



306 NOTES ON THE 

Mr. Washburn reported a flock of six of these birds, October 
22d, at Dead lake, Otter Tail county, and again on November 
1st, at Lake Mille Lacs, where he found them abundant. He 
says: "When flying they utter a loud chirp, and with it a 
musical 'purr' which is very pleasing. The large flocks 
seemed restless and shy, flitting about like wind-blown snow 
flakes, the uneasiness of one bird seeming to communicate itself 
to the rest, and a whole flock would thus be kept in almost 
constant motion over the same bushes of the lake shore." 

This allusion to its note and peculiar purring sound inter- 
larded, expresses all of its habits in this respect that could be 
said in a chapter. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

In full plumage the colors are entirely black and white. 
Middle of back between scapulars, terminal half of primaries 
and tertials, and two innermost tail feathers black, elsewhere 
pure white. Legs black at all seasons. In winter dress, white 
beneath; head and rump yellowish brown, as are also some 
blotches on the side of the breast; middle of the back brown 
streaked with black; the white on the wings and tail much 
more restricted. 

Length, 6.75; wing, 4.35; tail, 3.05, first quill longest. 

Habitat, northern parts of Northern Hemisphere. 

CALCARIUS LAPPONICrS (L.). (536.) 
LAPLAND LONGSPUR. 

Another variably represented species of semi- arctic birds, 
occasionally appearing in countless thousands on our plowed 
fields, from the 15th to the 30th of September, remaining until 
December, when it disappears until in March, remaining about 
a month, when it moves northward again. Dr. Hvoslef reports 
it abundant at Lanesboro on our extreme southern line in 
migration. He saw it there on February 22, 1885, in a flock of 
five individuals on a high, bleak prairie. Prof. C. L. Herrick 
reported it abundant at Lake Shatek, in the same latitude. Mr. 
P. Clague pronounces it very abundant in migration at Her- 
man, Grant county, a favored locality for most open-field birds. 

Like the Snow Buntings, some of them linger in their vernal 
sojourn. In 1877, some were seen as late as May 3d. Although 
Dr. Coues, in his Birds of the Northwest, expresses the opin- 
ion that they may breed in Minnesota, I have gotten as yet no 
reliable evidence that they do. As of Snow Buntings, loiterers 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 307' 

may become so pressed with -'imminent incubation" as to make 
a necessity of "sweating it out", rearing a family with the 
temperature, as occasionally, 103° in the shade. 

It is known to breed on the meadows along the shores of the 
Arctic sea, in Alaska, where it arrives the second week of 
May. It is also at home about Great Slave lake and McKenzie 
river. At all these places its song is said to be eminently 
beautiful. . 

Dr. Coues tells us the eggs are rather pointed at the smaller 
end; are dark colored with a thick mottling of chocolate- 
brown through which the greenish-gray ground is scarcely 
apparent. The nests are constructed of such materials as are 
readily obtained in the surrounding localities, namely — "mosses 
and fine dried grasses, and lined with a few large feathers from 
water- fowls, and are placed on the ground, under tussocks, in 
grassy hammocks." As the name of this species naturally 
suggests, the nail of the heel-toe is long and straight like a 
spur, by which, if necessary, they could be readily identified 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

First quill longest; legs, head all around, and a semicircular 
patch extending to the upper part of the breast, black; sides 
of lower neck and under parts white, with black streaks on 
the sides and spots on the side of the breast; a short, brown 
ish- white streak back of the eye; a broad chestnut collar on 
the back of the neck; rest of upper parts brownish -yellow 
streaked with dark brown; outer tail feathers white, except on 
the basal portion of the inner web. 

Length, 6.25; wing, 3.90; tail, 2.80. 

Habitat, northern portions of Northern Hemisphere. 

CALCARIUS PICTUS (Swainson). (537.) 

SMITH'S LONGSPUR. 

This Longspur has become more commonly observed of late, 
but escaped my notice for several years after I resided here. 
A few are obtained in autumn from year to year, ever since it 
came under my observation. So far as I know, Mr. R. 
Kennicott (who obtained it in Pembina in September, 1857) 
was the first to discover it in what was then the Territory of 
Minnesota. It is usually associated with the Lapland Long- 
spurs, and the identity is only discovered when in hand. I 
know no more of its habits. 



308 NOTES ON THE 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head black; a line passing over the eye, a small spot on the 
nape, another on the ears and a large patch on the wings, 
white; nuchal collar and the whole under plumage, brownish- 
buff -yellow; legs flesh color. 

Length, 6.50; wing, 3.50; tail, 2.75; bill, .45. 

Habitat, interior North America from Arctic coast to Texas. 



CALCARirS ORNATUS (Townsend). (538.) 

CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR. 

Another bunting that has been found to breed in the north- 
western portion of the State along the Red river as far south 
as Breckenridge and Traverse, about the habits of which I 
know very little beyond that fact. I spent several days in 
October, 1884, in Grant county, where I found quite a number 
of this species associated with the Longspurs, but of course I 
was too late for other observations. Whether they breed just 
there, or not I cannot tell, but in the next county west which 
lies for a long distance along the Red river, is where they 
have been repeatedly located. 

Mr. Allen says: — "They breed of course on the ground, 
constructing a rather slight but neat nest of dry grass and 
the stems of small plants. The eggs appear to be commonly 
five in number, blotched and streaked with rusty or a white 
ground, full sets of which are obtained the first week in 
June." 

It is known to breed extensively on the northern plains of 
Dakota. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill dark plumbeous; crown, a narrow crescent on the side of 
the head, a line running into it from behind the eye, entire 
breast and upper part of belly all round, black; throat and 
sides of head, lower part of belly, under tail coverts, and bases 
of the tail feathers, white; the white on the tail feathers runs 
forward as an acute point; a chestnut band on the back of the 
neck extending around on the sides; rest of upper parts gray- 
ish-brown, streaked with darker; lesser wing coverts like the 
back. 

Length, 5.25; wing, 3.20; tail, 2.30; tarsus, 0.75. 

Habitat, interior of North America, from the Saskatchewan 
plains to Texas. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 309 

POOriETES ORAMINEUS (Gmelin). (540.) 

VESPER SPARROW. 

So common is this species that from the time of its arrival 
until its departure it will be seen almost anywhere one may go 
along the highways where there are fences or frills of low 
bushes. In driving from my residence in the city to my cot- 
tage on Lake Minnetonka, a distance of fifteen miles, I have 
seen over one hundred and fifty males in the time of incubation 
when the females were confined to their nests. 

I think other similar highways would show relatively as 
great a number. 

This species has greatly increased with the settling up of 
the country, as is the case with many others, the productions 
of agriculture affording so much more abundant food. Its 
habit of running considerable distances in front of the horse 
one is driving, and when forced to wing flits a short distance 
and again lights in the dusty road, is one that will compel its 
recognition as no other of its family does. 

It uniformly arrives at this place about April 20th; in Pill- 
more county and westward into Pipestone, about ten days 
earlier It may be well to note here that the thermal lines 
deflect much more northward after entering the southern por- 
tion of the State, a fact rather indefinitely evident in the 
migration of some species of birds, as well as the records of the 
signal service; and a bold line about one degree south of Min- 
neapolis, is evident to any observing person in travelling by 
rail in that direction. It takes about five to ten days for the 
van of bird-migration to ride over this thermal barrier. In a 
close correspondence with several gentlemen residing in the 
southern tier of counties, who are interested in the study of 
the habits of birds, I have found this fact to be assured. 
Strange as it may seem, with less positive proof, there seems 
to be another similar line at a little greater distance north of 
this city where all is reversed again, so that I am now sur- 
prised to find migrants of the spring in Grant, or even Otter 
Tail counties as early as here. The nest of this species does 
not very materially differ from that of Savanna except in being 
concealed less than that more cautious species, and not quite 
so select materials used. The eggs, four or five in number, 
are a dull white thickly spattered with reddish -brown and 
lilac, but they vary considerably m the intensity of coloration. 



310 NOTES ON THE 

Its plaintive song seems simple and easily described, yet in 
reajity it is a very difficult task. In "Our Birds and their 
Haunts," by the Rev. J. H. Langille of Buffalo, N. Y., it is said 
"the melody of the bay-wing, if not so sprightly and varied, 
still bears quite a resemblance to that of the song sparrow, 
and is expressive of a tender pathos, which may even give it 
the preference. It is one of the few bird-songs which might be 
written upon a musical staff. Beginning with a few soft syl- 
lables on the fifth note of the musical scale, it strikes several 
loud, and prolonged notes on the eighth above, and ends in a 
soft warble which seems to die out for want of breath, and may 
run a little down the scale. Though the song is not brilliant, 
and rather suggestive of humble scenes and thoughts, "the 
grass, the stones, the stubble, the furrows, the quiet herds, and 
the warm twilight among the hills," it is nevertheless a fine 
pastoral, full of the sweet content which dwells in the bosom 
of nature. It is heard to the best advantage when the rosy 
hues of sundown are tinting the road, the rocks, and all the 
higher lights of the evening landscape. Then an innumerable 
company of these "poets of the plain, unadorned pastures," 
some perched on the fences, some on weeds and thistles, but 
many more hid in the grass and stubble, swell into their finest 
chorus, while most other birds are gradually subsiding into 
silence.. It has been well said that the farmer following his team 
from the field at dusk, catches the Bay-wing's sweetest strain, 
and that a very proper name for it would be the Vesper Spar 
row." 

I find the Bay-winged Buntings quite uniformly represented 
in all parts of the State reasonably adapted to them. One 
correspondent who has been much interested in the local 
sparrows thinks the variation in the numbers of them in differ- 
ent years exceeds that of any other species except the Black- 
throated Bunting, {A. Mlineata), sometimes there seeming to 
be almost an entire absence of them. My own observation 
measurably corroborates his, yet they have usually been well 
represented in the region where I reside. I can say, however, 
that few species have a greater range of measurements. Those 
are as follows in 33 cases: Length, 4.60 to 7.20; wing, 2.80 to 
3.10. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail feathers rather acute; above light yellowish brown, the 
feathers everywhere streaked abruptly with dark brown, even 
on the sides of the neck which are paler; beneath yellowish 
white; on the breast and sides of neck and body, streaked with 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 311 

brown; a faint light superciliary and maxillary stripe; the 
latter margined above and below with dark brown; the upper 
gtripe continued round the ear coverts, which are darker than 
the brown color elsewhere. Wings with the shoulder light 
chestnut-brown, with two dull whitish bands along the ends of 
the coverts; the outer edge of the secondaries also white; outer 
tail feathers and edge and tip of the second, white. 

Length, 6.25; wing, 3.10. 

Habitat, eastern North America to Plains. 

AMMODRIMUS SANDWICHEXSIS SAVANNA (Wilson) 

(542a. ) 

SAVANNA SPARROW. 

Although seldom extremely numerous, the Savanna Sparrow 
is a common summer resident of Minnesota. 

I have no knowledge of any dry prairie districts within the 
boundaries of my special observations where it has not, earlier 
or later, been found to spend the nidifying season. It reaches 
the principal points of notice from April 20th to May 5th, and 
proceeds to build its nest very soon afterwards, which is con 
structed of fine grasses and roots, and quite artistically inter- 
laced, the finest of the material being disposed neatly on the 
inside. It lays usually four grayish -white eggs, covered 
rather irregularly with spots of umber-brown and lilac. Com- 
monly two broods are brought out in a season. 

The song is really one of the hardest to describe, and I shall 
not attempt it, but Dr. Samuels, in his "Birds of New Eng- 
land," has so admirably succeeded in approximating it that I 
shall avail myself of his rendering. He says: "It resembles 
nearly the syllables 'chewt^e 'chewitt 'chewitt 'chewitt 'cheweet 
'chewee, uttered slowly and plaintively." I have seldom vis- 
ited a section favorable to its breeding habits, but what, dur- 
ing a morning's rambles, I have not heard its characteristic 
song. 

Mr. Washburn reports this species "extremely common in 
grass land throughout the Red river valley. I secured spec- 
imens ranging from the polar eastern varieties to the darker, 
sharply-marked western forms. From this fact, and from ob- 
servations of other species, I am led to infer that the Red river 
valley, situated as it is with the western plains on one side and 
the Mississippi river on the other, forms as it were, a neutral 
ground where eastern and western varieties meet and interbreed 
to some extent, forming intermediate varieties, with interme-. 
diate shades of plumage." 

21 z 



312 NOTES ON THE 

A characteristic of many species of females under similar 
occasion, is very marked in this, in assuming to be badly 
wounded when incautiously driven from her nest. She drags 
one leg and its corresponding wing, as if she had been stepped 
upon by the ruthless intruder, and she successfully "fools the 
greenhorn," be he an oologist or an other, by trotting him to a 
safe distance from her nest, when she suddenly forgets there is 
anything the matter, and flits away to a safe distance, from 
which to enjoy the disappointment of the intruder. 

Their food, as with most of the sparrows, consists of small 
beetles and the finer seeds of grass and weeds. 

So entirely terrestial is this species in all of its habits, that 
after a lifetime's observation of them in nearly every state and 
territory of the United States and Canada, I have yet to see 
the first one of them perched on a tree, and only very rarely on 
a bush or a fence. No doubt that in extremely rare instances 
others may have witnessed such an event, but I make the state 
ment to emphasize this characteristic of the species. 

The localities in which I have found them, unlike many other 
species, have always been rather, indeed, quite restricted. To 
instance, when out on a collecting excursion, in which I drive 
over considerable territory which would average in all condi- 
tions favorably to their habits, I have not found them in more 
than three or four localities in a whole afternoon, yet if I return 
to those places many times afterward during the summer, I 
may depend upon finding them there. And between these sec- 
tions of occupation, none, or if any, only an individual or two 
will be seen. Some of them linger far into October, and even 
November in exceptional instances, before their migration 
southward. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Feathers of the up^Der parts generally with a central streak 
of blackish -brown; the streaks of the back with a slight rufous 
suffusion laterally; the feathers edged with gray, which is 
lightest on the scapulars; crown with a broad median stripe of 
yellowish-gray; a superciliary streak from the bill to the back 
of the head, eyelids, and edge of the elbow, yellow; a yellow- 
ish-white maxillary stripe curving behind the ear coverts, 
margined above and below by brown; the lower margin con- 
sists of a series of thickly crowded spots on the side of the 
throat, which are also found on the side of the neck, across 
the upper part of the breast, and on the sides of the body; a 
few spots on the chin and throat; rest of under parts white; 
outer primary and tail feathers edged with white. 

Length, 5.50; wing, 2.70; tail, 2.10. 

Habitat, eastern North America. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 313 

AMMODRAMUS BAIRDII (Audubon). (545.) 
BAIRD'S SPARROW 

Of this sparrow's appearance in Minnesota I said in a hasty- 
list of birds of the State published by the survey in 1881, I 
think, "common along the Red river where it breeds." This 
probably was based upon a mistaken identity of the species by 
those reporting to me from that section. While it has been 
found there by several different collectors it is in no ways 
'■'common.'' I think all the specimens sent to me except one, 
have evidently been young birds, but the exceptional one was 
an adult male, the special characters of which were typical. 

It is said to breed abundantly in Dakota. The nests are 
built on the ground, being constructed of the bark from weed- 
stalks and grass that are rather losely disposed. They usually 
contain five eggs, the ground color of which is dull white, 
speckled all over with pale reddish- brown, with some darker 
splotches of the same. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Somewhat similar in general appearance to Passerinus 
savanna; back grayish, streaked with dusky; crown nearly 
covered by black streaks, bu t divided by a broad median band 
of brownish-yellow; eyelids, and a faint supercilary stripe, 
yellowish- white; beneath white, with a maxilliary blackish 
stripe and some narrow streaks on the upper part of the 
breast and the sides of the throat and body; outer edges and 
tips of tail feathers white, the two outer feathers obsoletely 
white; bend of wing white. 

Length, 4.75; wing, 2.80; tail, 2.20. 

Habitat, interior of North America from Saskatchewan 
plains southward to Texas. 

AMMODRAMUS SAVANNARUM PASSERINUS (Wilson) 

(546.) 

GRASSHOPPER SPARROW. 

This unobtrusive little sparrow, notwithstanding my vigi- 
lance, escaped my recognition for many years, simply because 
I had not heard his song under circumstances to associate it 
with him. But in 1875 Mr. T. S. Roberts identified it not far 
from the city, since which time it has become extremely com- 
mon in restricted localities. It seems to choose, dry, barren, 
weedy pastures, and builds a nest on the ground consisting of 
dried grass lined with hairs. Its usual number of eggs is 



314 NOTES ON THE 

five, but Mr. Samuels records one instance in which there were 
nine. They are pure white, speckled with reddish-brown, 
principally around the larger end. They arrive in this section 
about the 10th of May and bring out the first of their two 
broods about the middle of June. They leave the State, so 
far as I have been able to determine, about the first of October, 
although an occasional individual may linger still later. I 
found it in Grant county in considerable numbers as late as the 
time mentioned. It was on high and dry prairies. Mr. Wash- 
burn reports it in company with the Sharp-tailed Finch in the 
Red river valley about the first of September. Its character- 
istic song to my ears bears no other comparison than to a sound 
produced by running the finger nail rather deliberately over 
the tense teeth of a large fine-toothed comb, five or six times 
in succession. It also has a rather weak chirp when unem- 
ployed in this humble song. Some persons mention an almost 
invariable warble as preluding the song-strains, but I have 
never detected it with sufficient certainty to record it. 

Note. — Mr. Washburn remarks in his note upon this 
species: — "Frequently heard; and one specimen secured in 
Norman county, August 4th, measuring 4.75; 2.00; 2.00. The 
peculiar chirping, grasshopper -like note of this species, fitly 
compared by Dr. Hatch to the sound made by drawing the 
point of a knife across the teqth of a fine -toothed comb, is 
very deceptive. In August the note is short and rarely given; 
and when it is given, is so low that unless one is a very quick 
observer he cannot determine the locality of the bird's perch." 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Feathers of upper parts brownish-rufous, margined nar- 
rowly and abruptly with ash color, reddish on the lower part 
of back and rump; feathers all abruptly black in the central 
portion; this color visible on the interscapular region where 
the rufous is more restricted; crown blackish, with a central 
and superciliary stripe of yellowish, tinged with brown, 
brightest in front of the eye; bend of wing bright yellow; 
lesser coverts tinged with greenish yellow; quills and tail 
feathers edged with whitish; tertiaries much variegated; 
lower parts brownish-yellow, nearly white on the middle of 
the belly ; feathers of the upper breast and sides of body with 
obsolete darker centres. 

Length, 5; wing, 2.40; tail, 2. 

Habitat, eastern United States and southern Canada to the 
Plains. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA, 315 

AMMODRAMUS LECONTEII (Audubon). (548.) 
LECONTE'S SPARROW. 

It affords me great pleasure to credit the discovery of this 
species within our boundaries to C. L. Herrick, now quite 
well known amongst western educators and to naturalists 
generally. I will transcribe that portion of a report* made to 
me, as State Ornithologist, in March, 1878, which pertains to 
this species: 

"Six specimens have been taken in all. It was first obtained 
by Mr. C. L. Herrick on June 20th, 1877, when an adult male 
was secured and others noticed. On the following day a young 
bird was taken by the same collector in the same place. On 
the 22d, T. S. Roberts having been informed by Mr. Herrick 
of the capture of the sparrows, and the locality, visited the 
meadow and was rewarded with a fine male, a sight of one or 
two others, and an acquaintance with the song. July 17th Mr. 
R. S. Williams secured an adult female, and on August 1st a 
young bird. The last specimen was a bird of the year taken 
on August 8th by T. S. Roberts. These birds were all taken 
in the same locality — a ditched, but at the same time moder 
ately wet meadow, supporting a heavy growth of grass, per- 
haps a foot and a half to two feet high, with here and there 
low swamp willows. The most swampy portion of this 
marsh is the home of marsh wrens, (both species, ) a few Vir- 
ginia Rails, Maryland Yellow- throats. Swamp Sparrows, etc. 

' 'The bird in question, however, seemed to prefer the dryer 
parts around the edge. Here the collector, walking quietly 
along, may hear in the grass a smothered, rapid kind of chirp- 
ing. Investigation shows it to proceed from Leconte's Bunt- 
ing. The startled bird, if the collector is not a sure shot on the 
wing, flies in a wren-like manner for a moderate distance, and 
drops suddenly into the grass. It will now require patience to 
flush it again, and each successive attempt grows more difficult. 
The song is firm, wiry, and uttered with the head thrown up in 
the manner of the Yellow- winged Sparrow {Goturniculus passer- 
inus). In fact the general character of the song is much like 
the ordinary efforts of this species. They sing at times on the 
ground among the tall grass, but mounted upon a small bush 
or other low elevation, is apparently the preference. 

"It is probable that there are but one or two broods in this 
meadow, which was of limited extent, and as yet they have 

*T. S. Roberts. C. L. Herrick, R. S. Williams, of Minneapolis. 



316 NOTES ON THE 

been detected in only this one locality. The survivors appar- 
ently left in the latter part of August. 

"An inspection of the dates given above, will show that the 
young buntings are taken at times considerably separated, and 
as they are probably all of the same brood, they afford excel- 
lent subjects for a few remarks upon the plumage of the first 
year. In the "Birds of the Northwest," page 135, Dr. Coues 
gives the characters of the immature birds taken by him. 
These were evidently older than those before us, as a compari- 
son of the following with the description given by Dr. Coues 
will show. In adult specimens the plumage does not diifer 
materially. The buftiness of the breast and throat, and the 
intensity of the coloration generally, varies of course to a 
certain extent. All the tail feathers are acuminate, but the 
two central ones are very slender. 

"The young we will designate Nos. 1, 2 and 3, respectively, in 
the order in which they were taken. All three show more or 
less strongly that fluffy, unsettled looking plumage character- 
istic of young birds for a short time after they become full 
fledged. 

"No. 1, taken June 20th, is presumably, judging from date 
and appearance, the youngest. In this specimen, the entire 
under parts are light, diffuse yellow. Over the whole upper 
parts, including wing coverts and tertials, the feathers are 
either almost wholl7 saffron-yellow or broadly edged with this 
color. The wings, and to a slight extent, the tertials, show the 
chestnut edgings of the adult. The collar on the back of the 
neck but very faintly indicates that it will become chestnut and 
grayish. The feathers of the dark bands on the top of the 
head show the chestnut edgings of the adult. Across the 
back is a very slight tinge of buff", and the same area is thickly 
marked with small subdued streaks entirely across for a 
distance of half an inch, and as a feature of special note there 
is on each isde of the throat a very distinct maxillary streak. 

"In No. 2, taken August 1st, the lower parts are much less 
yellow, and the upper parts darker, while the chestnut and 
white of the interscapulars, and other feathers, are beginning 
to appear. The markings on the breast are firm and confined 
more to the sides, and while the maxillary streaks are still 
evident, they are becoming indistinct. 

"In No. 3, taken August 8th, we have a much nearer approach 
to the adult. The under parts are beginning to appear white 
posteriorly and buffy anteriorly; the streaks of the median 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 317 

line of the breast are obsolete; the maxillary streaks have 
disappeared, and the back part of the median line of the 
crown begins to show white. 

"Here our evidence of tlie further changes ceases for want of 
specimens. There is still much difference between number 3, 
and the adult. In the former the characteristic chestnut and 
grayish collar has not appeared; the handsome white and 
chestnut markings of the back are wanting; the color and 
markings of the under parts are unsettled; the bill is light, 
instead of dark bluish-brown, and the whole general coloration 
is uncertain, and blended, very different from the bold, strik- 
ing pattern of the adult. Prom these specimens we are there- 
fore to draw the conclusion that in the young bird, distinct 
maxillary streaks are present, the breast is streaked thickly 
entirely across; the tail feathers though pointed, are not nar- 
row and acuminate as in the adult; that yellow is the ground 
color of the entire plumage, tail and wings excepted, and lastly, 
that these characters gradually pass with age, into those 
of the adult." 

The interest of ornithologists in this bird justifies the space 
we have given for the foregoing notes. They were penned 
only a comparatively short time after the rediscovery of the 
species, which was originally observed and named by Audubon, 
but for a long time lost. That this bunting breeds considerably 
in favorable localities, in a large part of the State, I have no 
doubt, as it has of late years come to be observed in the breed- 
ing season in Freeborn, Big Stone and Grant counties. I have 
never seen the nest or eggs, but my very reliable friend Lewis, 
who has explored northern Dakota, gives the former as essen- 
tially like that of the Yellow-winged Sparrow, but possibly con- 
structed of a little coarser grasses, and a little bulkier in its 
general appearance. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

"Bill much more .slender than in Erriberiza henslowi. First 
quill the longest, the rest diminishing rapidly. Tail emarginate 
and rounded, with the feathers acute. Upper parts light yel- 
lowish-red, streaked with brownish-black; the margins of the 
feathers and scapulars pale yellowish-white; tail feathers 
dusky, margined with light-yellowish; lower parts with the 
cheeks, and a broad band over the eyes, fine buff; median line 
yellowish- white; the buff extending to the femorals and along 
the sides, streaked with brownish-black. Throat, neck, and 
upper parts of the breast without streaks, and plain buff." 

Length, 4.40; wing, 2.13; tail, 1.90. 

Habitat, Plains eastward to Illinois, South Carolina, and 
Florida, and from Manitoba to Texas. 



318 NOTES ON THE 

AMMODRAMUS CAUDACUTUS (Gmelin). (549.) 
SHARP-TAILED SPARROW. 

I have not had the opportunity to examine the specimens of 
this species secured by Mr. F. L. Washburn, but do not hesi- 
tate to introduce them into this report, believing him fully 
competent to their identification. In his notes of observations 
and collections in the Red river valley during July and August, 
1885, he says of the Sharp-tailed Finch. "Three individuals 
secured, and others observed. Two were shot near Ada, and 
had dimensions 5:2:2 each. The third killed on the northern 
boundary at St. Vincent, measured 4.50:2:2. I found them in 
grass-land near water, associating with long, and short-billed 
Marsh Wrens." 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper parts brownish-olivaceous; head brownish, streaked 
with black on the sides, and a broad central stripe of ashy; 
back blotched with darker; a broad superciliary and maxillary 
stripe, and a band across the upper breast, buff yellow; sides 
of throat with a brown stripe; upper part of breast, and sides 
of body streaked with black; rest of under parts white, the 
edge of the wing yellowish-white. 

Length, 5; wing, 2.30; 

Habitat, Salt marshes of Atlantic coast westward to Minne- 
sota, 

CHONDESTES GRAMMACUS (Say). (552.) 

LARK SPARROW. 

The Lark Finch may be justly considered one of the most 
abundant birds, according to relative numbers that we have for 
summer residents in the State, yet there have been years when 
their favored localities have been almost deserted. 

It is found more or less common on the prairies, but so far 
as my own observation has noted them, they prefer the vicinity 
of open brush-land with a few deciduous trees not far away, 
and may there be found in greatest numbers. Its manners and 
habits commend it to the lovers of birds wherever it lives in 
summer. 

Its song is really beautiful during the mating and brooding 
season, and may be heard in almost any direction in the early 
day and at evening about an hour before sunset, one singer 
answered by another until the sparrow song wave seems to 
circle out of hearing in the distance. It is not entirely terres- 
trial, but often is seen perched on trees or fences even when 



BIRDvS OF MINNESOTA. 319 

in the act of singing, although more commonly they seek but a 
slight elevation for pouring out their melodious song. They 
nest on the ground with remarkable attempts at concealment, 
and the structures are not quite as artistic as many others of 
the fringilline birds, consisting mostly of rather coarse grasses 
and weeds, with a lining of fine fibrous roots. They arrive 
in the vicinity of Minneapolis and St. Paul about the 25th of 
April, and nests are generally found about the 20th of May, 
occasionally one a little earlier, and they bring out usually two 
broods before the 20th of July of about five, but often six or 
seven of each. Their size and strongly marked colorings, 
and their want of greater ^caution in concealing their nests, 
makes birds and eggs both an easy prey to the smaller hawks 
or their relative numbers would be greatly increased. They 
seem to appear simultaneously all over the State according to 
reports from eight or ten counties scattered from the extreme 
southern to the northern boundary lines of the State. 

Dr. Hvoslef reports nests and eggs at Lanesboro, Fillmore 
county, on the 15th of May. P. Lewis, at Herman, Grant 
county, on the 20th of the same month. Mr. Potts, in Big 
Stone, the 17th, etc. 

The eggs are rather strikingly marked, being ' 'white, curi- 
ously streaked in zigzag;" the markings sharply defined, and a 
rich, dark reddish brown or chocolate. They taper very little 
towards the smaller end giving them a decidedly globular form. 
These sparrows are all gone usually by the first of October, 
but a few have been seen considerably later in favorable 
autumns. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Hood chestnut, tinged with black towards the forehead, with 
a median and superciliary stripe of dirty whitish; rest of up- 
per parts pale grayish-brown, the interscapular region streaked 
with dark brown; beneath white, a round spot on the upper 
part of the breast, a maxillary stripe and a short line from the 
bill to the eye, continued faintly behind it, black. A white 
crescent under the eye, bordered below by black, and behind 
by chestnut. Tail feathers dark brown, tipped broadly with 
white. 

Length, 6; wing, 3.30. 

Habitat, Mississippi valley region. 



320 NOTES ON THE 

ZONOTRICH[A QUERULA (Nuttall). (553.) 
HARRIS'S SPARROW. 

My first observation of this noble sparrow was in October, 
1870, and again in April. In May, 1876, it fell into my hands, 
and became frequently reported to me in the autumn. " T. S. 
Roberts, near this city, and P. Lewis, in Pipestone, secured 
several. Indeed, for several years it has been often seen in 
migration. My correspondent. Dr. Hvoslef, at Lanesboro, 
shot several, the last one on the 11th of May, 1885, and others 
mention their assured presence still later in different localities, 
some of which, like the last mentioned, are in the southern 
tier of counties, and one on the St. Croix, east of St. Paul. 

Observed in so many places late in the spring, I have 
expected to hear that the nest and eggs were found, in which 
expectation, however, I have thus far been disappointed. 
Nearly all the localities where it has been obtained have been 
along the course of streams and in the brush that fringes 
them. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Hood and nape, sides of head anterior to and including the 
eyes, chin, throat, a few spots in the middle of the upper part 
of the breast, and on its sides, black; sides of the head and 
neck ash-gray, with the trace of a narrow crescent back of the 
ear coverts; interscpular region of back, with the feathers red- 
dish-brown streaked with dark brown; breast and belly clear 
white; sides of body light brownish, streaked; two narrow 
white bands across the greater and middle coverts. 

Length, 7; wing, 3.40; tail, 3.65. 

Habitat, middle United States from Minnesota west to Da- 
kota and middle Kansas. 

ZONOTRICHIA LEUCOPHRYS (Forster). (554; 
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW. 

This species is frequently seen in migration both in spring 
and autumn mingled with others of the same great family in 
thickets and brushy land generally. I have found them during 
these periods more commonly along the borders of clearings 
in the numerous brush-piles, where they enjoy the safest 
covert from rapacious enemies while seeking their food of seeds 
and insects of different kinds. If encroached upon they will 
conceal themselves so closely as to lead one to suppose it an 
illusion that he had seen them at all until driven from their 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 321 

hiding place by something thrown into their covert, when a 
dozen will dash out and into a low tree near by, or in a short, 
confused, desultory flight whip into another similar pile of 
brush, or a closer thicket. A beautiful bird, indeed, but they 
conceal their capacities for song until they reach their breed- 
ing localities, further to the north, where their pee, <Ze«f, de, de, 
de, de, de, the first two syllables of which are somewhat pro- 
longed in 'crescendo,' and slightly rising inflection, with the 
remainder more rapid in 'diminuendo, ' may be heard frequently 
repeated through the day in sunshine and shade, even far into 
the night. 

They are usually seen in the more southern line of partially 
timbered counties about the 10th of March, and from the 15th 
to the 25th, over the rest of the State. My own earliest 
record of their arrival is March 15th, 1870, but in 1875, it was 
almost a month later. They remain until about the 1st of 
May — straggling laggards until still later. Kennicott found 
them at Lake of the Woods, May 31st. Dr. Hvoslef, reports 
them as "common some years" at Laeesboro. 

They build their nests on the ground, generally at the foot 
of shrubs, or bushes amongst coniferous trees in the north- 
eastern portions of this iState. Its principal materials consist 
of dried grass, very fine inside and neatly finished within. 
During the months of March, April and May of 1891, I was 
much of the time at Florin, nine miles south of Sacramento, 
California, and from March 11th to May 8th it was the most 
abundant species at "Walnut Corners," (where my sister, Mrs. 
T. Renbick resides). The trees surrounding the dwelling 
were mostly English walnuts, and but little farther away the 
usual varieties of fruit trees. The street fence on two sides 
was a hedge and immediately about the house were a large 
variety of bushes, shrubs, etc., affording perfect covert for 
birds of several species. The House Finches were numerous 
and kept up a wealth of melody from the earliest dawn till the 
last rays of the setting sun faded away, but the still more 
numerous White-crowns were heard only in weak chip-notes until 
the 6th of May, when the inspiration of song broke their silence 
with melodies scarcely inferior to the Burions. It was beauti- 
ful, but to the casual ear, was so mingled with the notes of 
the other species that it was difficult to distinguish it fully, 
yet occasionally a strain would be completed alone, and then 
it was charming, excelled by but few of the sparrow kind. 



822 NOTES ON THE 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head above, upper half of loral region from the bill, a nar- 
row line through and behind the eye to the occiput, black; a 
longitudinal patch in the middle of the crown, and a short 
line from above the anterior corner of the eye, the two con- 
fluent on the occiput, white. Sides of head, fore part of breast, 
and lower neck all round, pale ash, lightest beneath, and shad- 
ing insensibly into the whitish of the belly and chin; sides of 
belly and under tail coverts, tinged with yellowish-brown. In- 
terscapular region streaked broadly with dark chestnut-brown- 
ish. Edges of the tertiaries brownish- chestnut; two white 
bands on the wing. 

Length, 7.10; wing, 3.25. 

Habitat, North America at large. 

ZONOTRICHIA ALBICOLLIS (Gmelin). (558.) 

WHITE-THROATED SPARROW. 

No close observer of birds fails to recognize the claims that 
this regal sparrow has upon his admiration. His manners be- 
long to more pretentious orders, and his supreme dignity sug- 
gests a miniatureship of some larger species. His very shy- 
ness is rather an expression of disregard of your presence in a 
slow and undisturbed removal from you. The song is touch- 
ingly sweet and very fascinating when once it has the undi- 
vided attention. 

Mr. Langille says: "The notation of its song could be easily 
written on the musical staff. Beginning generally on the fifth 
note of the scale, after the first syllable it ascends to the eighth, 
or last note, and ends in four syllables more. After the first 
syllable (^f the song the bird will sometimes utter the second on 
the second or third note of the scale above, and then dropping 
back will render the remaining three syllables on the usual 
pitch for the ending. I have heard it begin on the last note of 
the scale, and after sounding two syllables, drop to the sixth 
interval for the remaining three syllables, thus giving a beau- 
tiful minor effect. If several are singing, they may each per- 
form on a different key, one responding to the other from dif- 
ferent dead trees or tall stubs in the neighborhood. 

"The charm of the song is principally in the pathos of the 
tones, which resemble those of the Chickadee, being an inimita- 
bly tender and vibrating, or tremulous, whistle. There are few 
bird songs which are so affecting to an aesthetic nature as is this 
simple pastoral. The tenderest and most sympathetic ideas, 
with a tinge of melancholy, find their expression in these 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 323 

strongly- characterized notes, which, as Thoreau says, "are as 
distinct to the ear as the passage of a spark of fire shot into 
the darkness of the forest would be to the eye." "Like most 
sparrows they build on the ground, amongst bushes. The 
nest is formed neatly of dried grass, weeds and mosses, and 
lined with finer grasses and fibrous roots. The eggs are gray 
ish- white, spotted and splashed with brown and pale markings, 
and five in number. 

It arrives in spring migration from the 25th of April to the 
1st of May, and engages in nest-building from the 15th to the 
20th of that month. About the 20th of September they begin 
to leave for the South in a very quiet, sparrow-like way, appar- 
ently in families or little colonies. Its food from the moment 
of its arrival until its departure makes it a friend to the farmer 
and gardener. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Two black stripes on the crown separated by a median one 
of white; a broad superciliary stripe from the base of the man- 
dible to the occiput, yellow as far as the middle of the eye, and 
white behind this. A broad black streak on the side of the 
head from behind the eye; chin white, abruptly defined against 
the dark ash of the sides of the head and upper part of the 
breast, fading into white on the belly, and margined by a nar- 
row black maxillary line; edge of wing and axillaries yellow; 
back and edges of secondaries rufous-brown, the former streaked 
with dark brown; two narrow white bands across the wing 
coverts. 

Length, 7; wing, 3.10; tail, 3.20. 

Habitat, eastern North America, west to the plains. 

Note. It has never been my fortune to hear the song of the 
White-throated Sparrow in the night, after the manner of the 
nightingale, but Samuels in his "Birds of New England," page 
61, says after graphically describing a bird-chorus made up of 
the notes of the Virginian owls, loons, etc., etc.: "After this 
had died away and all was still, there came from a bush near 
our tent, the almost heavenly song of the White-throated Spar- 
row, the 'Nightingale of the North." One cannot imagine the 
effect produced by the contrast; he must be on the spot in the 
dark night, and through the sighings of the winds amid the 
grand old trees, hear the loons, and then the silence broken by 
the beautiful song of the nightingale." 

SPIZELLA MONTICOLA (Gmelin). (559.) 

TREE SPARROW. 

A very abundant species which seldom, if ever, leaves the 

state during the coldest winters, and breeds extensively about 

the lakes and streams bordered with alders, willows and low 



324 NOTES ON THE 

trees, more especially in the north and eastern portions. The 
nests are found in trees, bushes and on the ground, formed 
exteriorly of dried grass and mud, and lined with down from 
woods and fine, soft hairs. Eggs, light greenish-blue, marked 
with blotches and spots of different shades of red and brown, 
resembling much those of the Song Sparrow. 

When I record as a permanent resident a species so well 
known as the Tree Sparrow, I take for granted that no one 
will infer it to be anywise abundant during our rigorous 
winters. During those seasons only small flocks are ordinarily 
seen, sometimes only two or three individuals until approaching 
spring, when these smaller bands are merged into larger ones, 
until by the latter part of March — the time the migration north- 
ward is begun — when they may be only surpassed in numbers 
by the Snowbirds. 

The earliest I have ever met them near this city was March 
3, and the latest individuals have rarely lingered until the last 
of April. Their times however of principal arrival and de- 
parture have averaged March 25th and April 25th. They 
return from their more northern breeding places about the 
25th of September to the first of October, varying greatly 
with the thermal character of the seasons. The greater part 
of them leave us here about the 15th of November. I saw 
some December 25th, 1874, and Mr. John Roberts again saw 
small parties of them in January, 1876. Dr. Hvoslef's notes 
at Lanesboro record them December 28th, February 23d, 
March 18th. I have a letter from him under date February 
3d, 1886, which says: — "There are hundreds of them here." 

I cannot, in speaking briefly of some of their habits, refrain 
from transcribing a few lines from the pen of Dr. Coues in 
"Birds of the Northwest," page 147. He says:— "On several 
occasions, when the thermometer was far below zero, the river 
frozen solid for two feet in depth, and snow on the ground, I 
have unexpectedly come upon little groups of these birds 
hiding away close to the ground, amongst and under a net- 
work of vines and rank herbage, close enough to collect and 
retain a mantle of snow. When startled at such times they 
have a low, pleasant chirp as they flutter into sight among the 
brushes, scattering a little, but only to collect again and seek 
their snug retreat as soon as left to themselves. Whether 
rendered careless by the cold, or through a natural heedless- 
ness, they are very tame at such times. They sit unconcern- 
edly on the twigs, it may be but a few feet distant chirping 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 225 

cheerfully, with the plumage all loosened and puffy, making 
very pretty 'roly-poly' looking objects. There is a partic- 
ular kind of plant here, the seeds of which endure all winter, 
furnishing a favorite repast. In a clump of these tall weeds 
dozens of the birds may be seen together busily feeding. 
Some, more energetic, spring up and cling to the swaying 
penicles, picking away, while others gather about the stem, 
getting a good dinner without trouble off the seeds that their 
neighbors above rattle down. At such times the whole com- 
pany keep up an animated conversation, expressing their 
satisfaction, no doubt, in their own language; it is more than 
chirping and not quite singing — a low, soft, continuous chant- 
ing, as pleasing as it is indescribable. The Tree Sparrow is, 
indeed, one of the sweet-voiced of our sparrows and one very 
fond of singing, not only in the spring, but at other seasons; 
times are hard with it indeed when it cannot, on occasion, 
tune its gentle pipe." 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Middle of the back with the feathers dark brown centrally, 
then rufous and edged with pale fulvous (sometimes with 
whitish); hood and upper part of nape continuous chestnut; a 
line of same from behind the eye; sides of head and neck 
ashy; a broad, light superciliary band, beneath whitish with a 
small circular blotch of brownish in the middle of the upper 
part of the breast; edges of tail feathers, primary quills and 
two bands across the tips of the secondaries, white; tertiaries 
nearly black; edged externally with rufous, turning to white 
near the tips; lower jaw yellow; upper black. 

Length, 6.25; wing, 3. 

Habitat, eastern North America west to the Plains. 

SPIZELLl SOCIALIS (Wilson). (560.) 

CHIPPING SPARROW. 

"Chippie," as this most common sparrow is popularly called, 
is also named the Hair Bird, on account of its nearly uniform 
habit of lining its nest with coarse, long hairs. It builds in 
low trees, door-yard shrubs and currant bushes, preferably 
near the habitations of men. The nest consists of roots, 
twigs and grasses, lined as above. 

Its proclivity to rear its young so near our homes, display- 
ing the utmost confidence in man, picking up for most of its 
food his waste, is what has given it the scientific specific name 
"Socialis." Its common note and songs chip-ip-ip-ip-ip-ip-ip, 
have given it the common name with which the notice of this 
bird begins. 



326 NOTES ON THE 

It arrives in the southern counties about the 1st to the 10th 
of April and in the vicinity of Minneapolis not very far from 
the 20th of that month, often a trifle later. 

It may be that the absence of variety and greater modula- 
tion in the songs of the Chipping Sparrow will account for its 
absence from the songs of the poets, but its claims to the re 
membrances of man are second only to that of the bluebirds 
and robins. It even exceeds either of those species in the 
measure of confidence it manifests in coming to our very 
thresholds for the crumbs that fall from our boards, and trip- 
ping almost ander our feet as we go about the garden or 
through the orchards. Its song, so monotonous as it is, ought 
to awaken our notice, for its associations are legions, reach- 
ing back through the many summers to the adieus to our 
very cradles. "We boys" recall the many times we used to 
find their nests, wondering where they got all the hair there 
was in their structure, and how they painted their eggs such a 
beautiful, bright, bluish-green, and speckled them at the large 
end with reddish-brown and black. And when the little eggs 
had all gone to smash, and some tiny, featherless little carica- 
tures of blind birdies had taken their places with their hide- 
ous, yellow lined mouths constantly wide open, we were still 
more confounded with the dawning mysteries of life. All this 
with only a sort of a conventional protest from the confiding 
parents, ought now to give this humble, cheerful, plainly 
dressed sparrow a warm place in our memories. Its specific 
scientific name affords one instance of appropriateness amongst 
a large number, the selection of which is an impeachment to 
claims of advacement made for the race. Adam never burd 
ened so many of the birds with the abominations employed in 
our scientific nomenclature of them, or he would have wanted 
to escape from the garden of Eden earlier than he was driven 
out. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Rump, back of neck, sides of neck and head, ashy; inter- 
scapular with black streaks, margined with pale rufous; crown 
continuous and uniform chestnut; forehead black, separated 
in the middle by white; a white streak over the eye, and a 
black one from the base of the bill through and behind the 
eye. Under parts unspotted whitish, tinged with ashy, especi- 
ally across the upper breast. Tail feathers and primaries 
edged with paler, not white. Two narrow white bands across 
the wing coverts. Bill black. 

Length, 5.75; wing, 3. 

Habitat, eastern North America, west to Rocky Mountains. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 327 

SPIZELLA PALLIDA (Swainson), (561.) 
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW. 

The Clay- colored Sparrow was first brought to my notice in 
the spring of 1875, by T. S. Roberts. Very soon after he 
obtained his, a considerable number were collected by others as 
well as myself. Since that time it has become a decidedly 
familiar species, breeding along the Red river and eastwards 
to the vicinity of prevalent timber. It arrives in spring from 
the 25th of April to the 5th of May, but does not remain in 
this locality. The nest is found on the brush along the water 
courses, particularly those tributry to the Red river, and the 
low willowy bushes bordering some of the lakes with which 
our State abounds. Prom all I have been able to learn from a 
variety of sources I think that incubation is inaugurated by 
the first week in June, and two broods of four each is the 
rule. The structure is, in the words of Dr. Coues' Birds of 
the Northwest, page 150, — " Inartistically built of fine dried 
grass-stems, and the slender weed-stalks, with perhaps a few 
rootlets. It is sometimes lined quite thickly with horse hairs, 
sometimes not, having instead some very fine grass-tops." 

The color of the egg is light green, and they are thinly 
speckled with several shades of brown. The speckling is 
principally confined to the larger end. 

The habits of this species do not materially differ from those 
of the Chipping Sparrow. The song of the male is said to be 
less pretentious, but equally persistent with those of the last 
mentioned species, consisting of a monotonous trio of notes 
ending in a weak trill. 

Their fall movement southwards is somewhat later than 
that of the Chipping Sparrow as I must not only infer from 
local observations, but from Mr. Washburn's notes of observa- 
tions in the Red river valley. The latter, after having been 
ordinarily represented throughout that region, were gone 
while he still found Pallida "common indeed." 

He says: "I met old and young birds on the banks of the 
Red river, about Georgetown, on the first of August. . The 
young then, were of all ages, but most of them full grown. 
With their parents they congregate in pastures, and on weed- 
grown fields in good sized flocks." I think they have all left 
the State by the first or second week in October. 



22 z 



328 NOTES ON THE 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Back and sides of hind neck ashy; prevailing color above, 
pale brownish yellow, with a tinge of grayish; feathers of back 
and crown streaked conspicuously with blackish, the latter 
with a median ashy, and a lateral or superciliary ashy white 
stripe; beneath, whitish tinged with brown on the breast and 
sides, and an indistinct narrow brown streak on the edge of 
the chin. Ear coverts, brownish-yellow, margined above and 
below by dark brown. 

Length, 4.75; wing, 2.55. 

Habitat, interior of North America. 



SPIZELLA PUSILLA (Wilson). (563.) 
FIELD SPARROW. 

About the 25th of April, or a little earlier, the Field Spar- 
rows have got here as unobserved as a ' 'frown upon the brow of 
twilight," and are then found in dry, bushy pastures, and low, 
open woods, away from the dwellings of men. By the second 
week in May they are engaged in constructing their nests of 
dried grasses and fine twigs loosely arranged and placed on 
the ground under a bush, or in it, as is the case occasionally. 
Four eggs constitute the complement, colored grayish-white 
with thinly scattered spots and blotches of reddish-brown and 
lavender. During incubation the male is heard singing from a 
perch on a low tree, or a rail of the fence. His song is a 
plaintive, humble ditty, poured out in the early morn and eve. 
In dark, cloudy weather he sings all the day long, as if fully 
appreciating the need of cheering the little bird-wife in the 
patient waitings of her maternity. 

The song has no claims to melodious variety, while it fills no 
mean place in the grand choral of usual song. The best idea of 
it may be expressed in a recently employed combination of the 
following syllables adopted by Mr. Langille: ''Free-o, free-o, 
free-o, free-o, free, free, free, free, free, free: the first four louder, 
well prolonged and on a higher key, while the remaining notes 
run rapidly to a lower pitch, growing softer and weaker to the 
end, the last being barely preceptible at a short distance. The 
song is quite constantly repeated at short intervals, and has a 
rather melancholy, but soothing, and pleasing effect, which 
sensitive natures readily recognize, and do not easily forget. 

' 'It is the homely, pensive poetry of the thicket, that line of 
land where the cultivated beauty and fertility of the fields end, 
and the solitude and gloom of the forest begin." 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 329 

No bird-notes of my own, or of my correspondents, fail to 
embrace this species in localities according with its well-known 
habits everywhere in the State. It is, however, not a numerous 
species. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill red; crown continuous rufous red. Back somewhat simi- 
lar, streaked with blackish. Sides of head and neck, including 
a superciliary stripe, ashy; ear coverts rufous; beneath white, 
anteriorly tinged with yellowish; tail feathers and quills faintly 
edged with white. Two white bands across the wing coverts. 

Length, 5,75; wing, 2.35. 

Habitat, Eastern United States and southern Canada, west 
to the plains. 

JUNCO HIEMALIS (L.). (567.) 

SLATE-COLORED JUNCO. 

The snow-birds are so extensively distributed, and every- 
where so well known, that any one at all acquainted with 
them will expect to find them included in our Minnesota 
birds. They may be listed as permanent residents, at least 
along our southern borders, where belts of timber between 
sheltering bluffs and along water-courses afford more favorable 
quarters during the severest weather. At the locality from 
which I write they are rarely seen in winter, but come in force 
variously from the 20th of March to the first of April, when one 
who "sees birds at all" must be prepared to have them spring 
up from almost any slightly protected ambush, and almost 
from under his feet, and simultaneously dash into the nearest 
thicket or brush-heap, to cautiously slip out of the hastily- 
chosen covert, one at a time, and flit to a safer distance, if not 
better hiding place. They usually, as a kind of feathered 
courtesy, or sort of a courtship, have mingled with them more 
or less abundantly, some of the other sparrows, amongst which 
are the White- crowned, Pox- colored. Clay -colored, Song and 
Tree Sparrows, etc. They have only a chipping note, while 
thus abundant, that very much resembles the true chippies (spi- 
zella socialis). By the first week in May the principal part 
of them have disappeared. They breed extensively in the north 
part of the State, and exceptionally in many others affording 
favorable conditions. Their principal food consists of larvae 
and insects, especially small beetles, but they are quite omniv- 
orous, devouring many kinds of seeds as well. 



830 NOTES ON THE 

Their nests are remarkably well constructed and variously- 
situated, generally on the ground under some bush or clump 
of weeds; it is occasionally built in a low bush, and rarely on 
an old log or stump. The number of eggs rarely exceeds four, 
that vary in color from nearly pure white with reddish spots, 
to grayish- white with reddish- brown spots, and bluish- white 
with a roseate tint and spots of umber, reddish-brown and 
lilac. 

As to varieties of this species as observed within my province 
I can only say if such are well founded they are all here. A 
single excursion of a few hours has put them all into our 
basket too many times to leave any question of doubt. But for 
the special benefit of those who are seeking for evidence that 
this omnipresent species is, in fact, not a species, but a long 
drawn out series of varieties in rapid process of evolution into 
many species, I will transcribe a report of T. S. Roberts, R. S. 
Williams and C. L. Herrick concerning these birds. T. S. 
Roberts, a very careful and conscientious observer, has the 
credit of writing it. Amongst a list of others he says, "We 
mention the Snowbird only to call attention, briefly, to the 
forms or species noticed in this locality. Sufficient material is 
not at hand to do the matter justice, but from the nine skins 
before us we select the three most decidedly marked birds. 
First is hyemalis proper, showing nothing but the characters 
of this form. Second is a specimen of oregonus (Towns ) Scl. 
The colors are bright, sharply defined, and just as decided as 
oregonus. It was taken in the spring of 1876, by R. S. Will- 
iams, and is apparently a typical specimen of this western 
form. The third is a very stronghly marked specimen of 
what is called annectus, Bd. This bird was taken October 5, 
1877, by T. S. Roberts, from a straggling flock of Snowbirds, 
among which it immediately attracted attention by its peculiar 
colors. R. S. Williams has a partly albino Junco taken in the 
fall, which is also plainly this form." 

I am gratified at the growing indications of a general halt 
along the line of evolutional varieties in the avi-ological march. 
More will be known of the Juncos a thousand years hence. 
Perhaps then some typical embodiment of accumulated knowl- 
edge, from underneath this No. 11 Sombrero, shielding 
him from the rays of a tropical March sun, will be sitting upon 
a jutting rock overhanging what was once the renowned Falls 
of St. Anthony, his two eyes merged into one now composed of 
a series of compound lenzes with which he alternately looks 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 331 

upon the moving protozoans in the rapid waters beneath him, 
and the moving shadows in the mountains of the belated moon, 
while ruminating upon the unfolded life-history of what was 
once considered a simple species, pregnant although with the 
potence of genuine possibilities— Presto Junco! 

Note. The above was written before a number of my 
ornithological friends of the State verbally reported to me 
some extensive comparisons of the Juncos obtained in migra- 
tion which showed a graduation from hyemaUs into oregonus, 
which since that time I have measurably verified. Reconsol- 
idation is the natural order of the day. Let the good work go 
bravely on. P. L. H. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Everywhere of a grayish, or dark ashy-black, deepest anter- 
iorly; middle of breast behind and belly, under tail coverts, 
first and second external tail feathers, white; third tail feather 
white, margined with black. 

Length, 6.25 wing, 3. 

Habitat, North America at large. 

MELOSPIZA FASCIITA (Gmelin). (581.) 
SONG SPARROW. 

Usually about the 15th of April, in 1869 as early as March 
19th, upon visiting the borders of heavy timber lands bordered 
with thickets and brush, I have been captivated by the song 
of this beautiful singer, made most welcome by his long win- 
ter's absence. It is easy, amid the grand chorus of bird-song 
in May, to overlook this sweet songster, but never when we 
first meet him under such circumstances. He seems to have 
chosen his rostrum upon the very border of winter's receding 
trail, from which he twitters, trills and rolls his wondrous 
melodies into the very soul of advancing spring. The frosts 
of early morning, those trembling jewels which flash back the 
departing glories of the winter, seem to charge his every bone, 
muscle and feather with the fulness of the inspiration of song, 
which he pours at the feet of the new-born season. 

At this time small numbers associate in bands, but their 
rival melodies soon awake the conjugal instinct and in a short 
time mates are chosen and the summer's welcome task begun. 

The earliest nests I have found in process of construction 
were begun in the first week in May, but I cannot divest 
myself of the conviction that they will be found occasionally 
much earlier than that in favorable seasons if diligent search 
is made. 



332 NOTES ON THE 

It is well known to bring out two broods, and sometimes 
three in the same season. 

The nest is composed mostly of dried grasses and fre- 
quently lined with horse hair. It is found usually in spring 
directly on the ground under some kind of shelter, perhaps a 
clod of earth, a bunch of grass, a bush or a root, yet may be 
in some exceptional place like a stump, in a hedge or even in 
a castaway old teakettle. One is said to have been found in 
the crown of an old "plug" hat hanging in a hazle brush. 
The general coloration of the eggs, I should say, is bluish- 
white, but they are almost unparalleled in their variability, and 
different eyes seem to see the same eggs "in a different light." 
The markings are brown touched with lilac. Minnesota is 
probably about the western border of their fullest representa- 
tion. They are relatively abundant here and yet twenty-eight 
years ago I did not see more than one-tenth of the present 
numbers. Their food-habits make them a necessity to agri- 
culture, so they have come with or close upon the heels of the 
farmer and gardener. 

Owing to their disregard of a little snow and considerable 
frost, we find them almost simultaneously appearing in all the 
principal and more cultivated sections of the State. I have 
special reports of its appearance from the line adjoining Iowa 
to Detroit lake, on the Northern Pacific. It lingers quite late 
in autumn, and even into early winter in the southwest portions 
of the State, in the dense thickets of the heavily timbered 
localities. 

Mr. Washburn found Song Sparrows at Dead lake at the 
head of Dead river, northwest of Otter Tail lake, in Otter 
Tail county, as late as October 13th, and expresses a very 
decided opinion, based upon local inquiries and observations, 
that this species remains much later. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

General tint of upper parts rufous-brown, streaked with 
dark brown and ashy-gray; crown rufous, with a superciliary 
and median stripe of dull gray, the former lighter; anteriorly 
nearly white, with a faint shade of yellow; each feather of the 
crown with a narrow streak of dark brown; interscapulars 
dark brown in the center, then rufous, then grayish on the 
margin; rump grayer than upper tail coverts, and both with 
obsolete dark streaks; a whitish maxillary stripe, bordered 
above and below by one of dark rufous-brown, with a similiar 
one from behind the eye; under parts white; breast, sides of 
body and throat streaked with dark rufous, with a still darker 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 333 

central line, these marks rather aggregated on the middle 
of the breast so as to form a spot; no distinct white on tail or 
wings. 

Length, 6.50; wing, 2.60; tail, 3. 

Habitat, eastern United States to Plains. 



MELOSPIZA LINCOLNI (Audubon). (583.) 
LINCOLN'S SPARROW. 

Of the habits of this species, quite common in both migra- 
tions, I know very little, except that I cannot separate it 
from the Swamp Sparrows until 1 have it in my hand. 

Mr. R. S. Williams of Minneapolis, was the first to bring 
this locally new species "to bag" in the State so far as I am 
aware. This he did on the 9th of May 1876. Mr. Robert 
McMullen obtained another on the 12th of the same month. 
Since then few collectors have failed to appropriate one or 
more of their skins, in the interest of science, or the fun of 
shooting. From reports sent me annually from "beyond the 
Big Woods," the great deciduous belt of timber traversing a 
good portion of the State from north-east to south-west, I am 
assured of its abundance in the period of both migrations in 
which it shares the general characteristics of the Swamp Spar • 
rows. 

I have been less favored with observations of this species in 
the southern sections, but have no doubt that it is equally 
represented. Dr. Coues says its range embraces the whole 
continent. Somewhat unequally distributed: it is rare in the 
east; but abundant in Colorado; common in Iowa; numerous in 
Illnois; but only in migration except in the mountains near 
Idaho spring where "it breeds about 9,500 or 10,000 feet up to 
timber line." In Birds of the North-west he again quotes from 
Mr. Allen who states it is ' 'an abundant summer resident of the 
mountains of Colorado, from about 8,000 feet to above the 
limits of trees. It is found chiefly in the vicinity of wooded 
streams, and in moist or swampy thickets, being essentially 
a woodland bird. Its song is rather feeble, but pleasant and 
varied, and generally uttered for a considerable period from 
some elevated point of the thicket. It is one of the few 
species that are as abundant at the timber line as at the lower 
points. I also met with it sparingly in May in eastern Kansas, 
and found it abundant in the vicinity of Ogden, Utah, in Sep- 
tember." 



334 NOTES ON THE 



SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 



Crown chestnut, with a median and two lateral, or supercil- 
liary ash colored stripes; each feather above streaked centrally 
with black; back with narrow streakes of black; beneath 
white, with a maxillary stripe curving round behind the ear 
coverts; a well defined band across the breast extending down 
the sides; under tail coverts brownish yellow; maxillary stripe 
margined above and below with lines of black spots; throat, 
upper part of breast, and sides of body, with streaks of black, 
smallest in the middle of the former; a chestnut stripe back of 
the ear streaked with black; the pectoral bands are sometimes 
paler. 

Length, 5.60; wing, 2.60. 

Habitat, North America at large. 

MELOSPIZA GEORGIANA (Latham). (584.) 
SWAMP SPARROW. 

The local habits of the Swamp Sparrow are such that none 
but a close observer could form any correct idea of its relative 
numbers. It will have become installed in its summer haunts, 
and engaged in the building of its nests, or even in somewhat 
advanced incubation, before we are aware of its presence, 
unless considerable vigilance has been maintained through the 
early spring. For many successive years I failed to detect its 
earliest arrival, and have settled into the opinion that it was 
rather a late sparrow in its migrations, notwithstanding my 
knowledge of its late departure in autumn. But a friend who 
had no special interest in ornithology was fond of duck shoot- 
ing that brought him much in the way of the incoming birds 
of the spring, and I suggested to him that he keep one end of 
his bag for '* small fry " and he kindly collected specimens of 
many species of exceeding interest to me, and to local orni- 
thological science in general, amongst which was this bird, 
obtained on the 13th of March. He was an exceedingly modest 
man, and peremptorily forbid my putting his name in print, 
which injunction for about one-fifth of a century I have faith- 
fully observed, but now that his name has already leaked out, 
I feel relieved of my obligation, and I am impelled to state here 
that his name was John Smith. I will have the burden no longer. 
The world shall know who he is. From that day forward I 
have been able to date the average time of the arrival of the 
Swamp Sparrow the 1st of April — 1864, March 29; 1867, April 
5th; 1870, April 2d; 1875, March 30th; 1878, March 13th. These 
dates are abundantly corroborated by corresponding observa- 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 335 

tions throughout the State. On its first arrival it will be found 
in rather low brush, or thickets in the woods in the vicinity of 
streams or swampy marshes and in parties of perhaps half a 
dozen mates who vie with each other in delightful song. A few 
days later and the females have come, but when and how, is more 
than has been reliably recorded. It is not very long before the nest 
is jointly built of patent sparrow material, weeds, stalks, 
leaves and grasses lined with fine grades of the latter. It may 
be on the ground, or in a low bush, or even a low tree. From 
four to five eggs constitute their "clutch," variously marked, 
the ground color grayish, or bluish-white and thinly scattered 
spots of reddish-brown, increased to confluent splotches of 
umber-brown, mostly at the greater end. I think that as a 
general thing they raise three broods of young, Mr. J. W. 
Bostwick found a well identified nest of four eggs on the 25th 
of April, near Pig's Eye, an unromantic name oi a romantic 
and eminently historic suburb of St. Paul. Mr. E. P. Her- 
man, found young birds in the nest unable to fly on the 24th of 
August. 

I deem it one of the most numerous of the fringilline birds 
breeding in Minnesota. It is everywhere equally abundant in 
the brushy woodland districts which I have visited, from Moor- 
head to Albert Lea, and from the St. Croix to Big Stone lake. 
Mr. P. Lewis found it "everywhere in Grant and Douglas 
counties,." Mr. Washburn reported it abundant everywhere 
in the Red river valley in August, and still represented at 
Dead lake October 10th. It has been my own experience to 
find a remnant of them still in the vicinity of Minneapolis as 
late as the 10th of November, but the larger portion are gone 
by the 25th of October, as a general rule. 

Their food consists of insects, wild rice and grass-seeds. 
When flushed they seldom seek the shelter of trees, but skulk 
from one thicket to another and flirt their tails vigorously while 
flying. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Middle of the crown uniform chestnut; forehead black; super- 
ciliary streak, sides of head and back and sides of neck, ash; a 
brown stripe behind the eye; back broadly streaked with black. 
Beneath whitish, tinged with ashy anteriorly, especially across 
the breast, and washed with yellowish-brown on the sides. 
Wings and tail strongly tinged with rufous; tertials black, the 
rufous edgings changing abruptly to white towards the end. 

Length, 5.75; wing 2.40. 

Habitat, eastern North America to the Plains. 



336 NOTES ON THE 

PASSERELLA ILIACA (Merrem). (585.) 

FOX SPARROW. 

The earliest knowledge of this pretty sparrow I obtained, 
was from a specimen presented me by a Mr. Van Druberg, who 
collected it near the city on the 22d of September, 1870. It 
was obtained still later that year, but I have lost the precise 
date. Since then I have met with it frequently in both spring 
and fall migrations, and not infrequently associated with the 
true Snowbirds. It comes early and stays several weeks. 

My own notes through a long series of years, average the 
arrival in spring from the 1st to the 10th of April, but Mr. 
John Roberts obtained some on the 13th of March, 1878. I 
have no doubt that the average will be found about the 1st of 
April. Dr. Hvoslef found it on the 28th of March in Fillmore 
county and again on the 2nd of May, 1885, which is the latest 
record I have in spring. The earliest date of its autumnal 
arrival is September 17th, so far as I know. 

It cannot be said to be abundant, but is sub-common in the 
lines of its favored migration. Its habits are such that it 
must be sought to be found, seldom approaching very near to 
habitations, yet often not very far away if it has the coverts of 
thickets bordering heavier timber. Mr. William Howling, for 
a great many years the principal taxidermist of Minneapolis, 
obtained a single individual in his shrubbrry on the 8th of 
April, 1875. But I have never known of another such in the 
city. 

Wilson, the immOrtal historian of the birds, says of this 
species: — "They are rather of a solitary nature, seldom feed- 
ing in the open fields, but generally under thickets or among 
tall, rank weeds on the edges of fields. They sometimes 
associate with the snowbirds, but more generally keep by 
themselves. Their manners very much resemble those of the 
Red-eyed Bunting; they are silent, tame and unsuspicious. 
They have generally no other note while here than a shep,shep.'' 

Dr. Coues' facile pen grows fervid while describing the Fox- 
colored Sparrows on page 161 of his "Birds of the North- 
■9vrest:" — "The Fox Sparrow enters the middle states from the 
north in October, and by the first of the following month has 
become abundant. Some linger here through the winter in 
sheltered situations, but the greater number repair further 
south early in December to reappear the latter part of Feb- 
ruary, thus escaping the coldest weather." 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 337 

"During the winter they are dispersed over the southern 
states, beyond which, however, they do not appear to pass, as 
I have found no record. In March they again become plenti- 
ful in the middle states, and, having already taken up their 
line of migration toward their homes in the north, their com- 
ing is with songs of gladness and all the busy stir of the 
opening season. 

' "They are not all off until April, and during the sunny days 
that precede their departure the males are fond of mounting 
the little bushes or even the trees, to warble a few exquisitely 
sweet notes, the overture of the joyous music which, later in 
the year, enlivens the northern solitudes, whither the birds 
resort to nest. So musical is the Fox Sparrow indeed, that 
even in autumn, when the transient glow and fervor of the 
nuptial period has subsided and commonplace occupations 
alone engage him, he forgets the dull season at times and 
lisps fugitive strains of sweet memories awakened by the 
warmth and glamour of the Indian summer. But this is a 
mere fragment — the shadows of a song stealing across the 
mind, not the song itself, which is only heard in perfection 
when the bird's life is quickened in the sunny, showery April, 
and he leaves us with cheery "good-bye," promising to come 
again. What one of our fringilline birds is so entirely pleas- 
ing as this, my favorite? Strong, shapely, vivacious, yet 
gentle, silver-tongued; clad most tastefully in the richest of 
warm browns, and that nothing may be wanting to single 
him out from among his humble relations. A highbred, 
exclusive, retiring bird. We do not find him mix- 
ing indiscriminately with the throng of sparrows that 
accompany him in his journeys and spend the winter with 
him. With a few select associates of his own kind, perhaps 
only two or three families that were reared together, he 
chooses his own retreat and holds it against intrusion. In some 
little glade, hedged about with almost impenetrable briers, 
you will come upon him and his friends nestling among the 
withered leaves on the ground, gently calling to each other in 
the assurance of safety. On your unwelcome appearance they 
will hurriedly take flight together, throwing themselves into 
the thickest shrubbery. You will find such company again in 
the ravines overgrown with smilax and brambles that lead 
down to the brook; and as you pass along neglected fences, 
fringed with tall, rank weeds, you may surprise the birds out 



338 NOTES ON THE 

for a morning ramble and make them hurry back in alarm to 
the shelter of heavier undergrowth." 
They do not breed in the United States as is yet known 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Middle of back dull ash, each feather with a large blotch of 
brownish-red; top of head and neck and rump, similar, but 
with samller and more obsolete blotches. Upper tail coverts 
and exposed surface of wings and tail bright rufous. Beneath 
white, with the upper part of the breast and sides of throat 
and body with triangular spots of rufous and a few smaller ones 
of blackish on the middle of the breast. Inner edges of quills 
and tail feathers tinged with rufous-pink. No light lines on the 
head, but a patch of rufous on the cheeks. First quill rather 
less than the fifth. 

Length, 7.50; wing, 8.50. 

Habitat, eastern North America, west to the Plains. 

PIPILO ERYTHROPHTHALMUS (L.). (587.) 

TOWHEE. 

This is a very common summer resident throughout the 
entire State, arriving the last week in April, at the latitude 
from which I write. It reaches the borders adjoining Iowa 
from the 10th to the 15th of April, and Grant county in the 
first week of May. Pew but those who are looking for these 
birds will be likely to recognize their earliest appearance 
owing to their shy, skulking habits. A ready pen in the hand 
of a keen observer says: "Thickets, brushy pastures and 
barren tracts on the higher grounds are the favorite resorts of 
this species. The bottom poles of an old rail fence among the 
briers by the woods, is very likely to be its thoroughfare; and 
at all times it keeps, for the most part, on or near the ground. 
Sit down quietly in the thicket and you will hear its sharp 
rustle as it scratches among the dry leaves; this hen-like 
scratching, probably in search of food, being one of its marked 
characteristics of habit. As it flits from bush to bush, never 
flying far nor high, you can hear the lohir-z-z-r of its rounded, 
concave wings, and as it opens its long, fan-like tail, with a 
jerking motion, the white markings contrast strongly with the 
jet black figure. It hops, and sidles, and dodges about, in and 
out through the brush -pile, the brambles aud the thicket, with 
a nervous, sparrow-like movement, its tail being often thrown 
up, after the manner of the Chat, or Wren."* 



*Our Birds and Their Haunts, page 577. (J. Hibbert Langille, M. A.) 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 339 

They build a very concealed nest the last week in May — 
sometimes a little earlier — in an excavation in the ground deep 
enough so that it is, when finished, about even with the sur- 
rounding surface and under cover of brushwood or in a thick 
tuft of grass. It is bulky, consisting of shreds of bark and dry 
leaves, and is lined with fine grass . It lays about five eggs of 
a dingy white color, finely speckled all over with reddish-brown 
and lilac. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper parts generally, head and neck all around, and upper 
part of the breast glossy black, abruptly defined against the 
pure white that extends to the anus, but is bounded on the 
sides and under the wings by light chestnut. Under coverts 
similar to sides, but paler. Edges of outer six primaries with 
white at the base, and on the middle of the outer web; inner 
two tertiaries also edged externally with white. Tail feathers 
black; outer web of the first, with the ends of the first to the 
third, white, decreasing from the exterior one. Iris red. 

Length, 8.75; wing, 3.75; tail 4.10. 

Habitat, eastern United States to the Missouri river. 

CARDINALIS CARDINALIS (L.). (593.) 

CARDINAL. 

I have on several occasions referred to this southern species 
as an accidental straggler into Minnesota. Since the last of 
my lists was published, I have had further evidence that it has 
been seen under circumstances and at such times in the year as 
to justify the recognition of being an occasional summer resi- 
dent in the southeastern portion of the State and northeast- 
wardly into the more central portions. Those places where it 
has been observed have been, so far as my sources of informa- 
tion extend, in the vicinity of clearings and improved farms in 
the larger bodies of deciduous timber. 

It has proved to be much less a strictly southern bird than 
the early writers supposed. A permanent resident there, it 
becomes decidedly migrant after reaching Virginia and Penn- 
sylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Southern Illinois. It has been ob- 
served as far north on the Atlantic coast as Nova Scotia, and 
now, as above recorded, in Minnesota in the interior. Con- 
siderable numbers of them are permanent in Ohio, remaining 
in pairs in patches of woods near cornfields. When speak- 
ing of northern Ohio, Rev. J. H. Langille says of this species 
" more common in winter than in summer." 



340 NOTES ON THE 

They are said to locate their nests in bushes, and trees, much 
after the mannei' of Catbirds. The nests consist of small 
twigs, dry weeds, strips of grapevine bark, leaves, coarse 
grasses, etc. , lined neatly with fine grass. The eggs four to five, 
are somewhat variable in coloration from a gray to a clear 
white, and two broods are raised each season as a rule. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

A flattened crest of feathers on the crown. Bill red, body 
generally bright vermilion red, darker on the back, rump, and 
tail. Narrow band around the base of the bill with chin and 
upper part of the throat black. 

Female of a duller red, and this only on the wings, tail and 
elongated feathers of the crown. Above with light-olive, 
tinged with yellowish on the head; beneath brownish-yellow, 
darkest on the sides, and across the breast. Black about the 
head only faintly indicated. 

Length, 8.50; wing, 3.75; tail, 4.50. 

Habitat, more southern portion of United States to Missouri. 

HABI4 LIJDOVICIANA (L ). (595) 
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK. 

This beautiful bird, and sweetest of singers, comes to us in 
the last days of April, or the first week in May. They appear 
almost simultaneously in every brushy and wooded section of 
the State, from Iowa to the British possessions. It is so con 
spicuous that I have had no difficulty in getting observations of 
its earliest arrivals from all points where I have correspond- 
ents. Rev. E, Lyman Hood, an oologist and general orni- 
thologist, reported this bird as early as April 17th. Prof. 
Herrick on the 25th of the same month. P. Lewis, in Grant, 
and Dr. Hvoslef of Fillmore, the 29th of April. 

All speak of the appearance of the males some days before 
the arrival of the females During this interval they are quite 
reticent, and are employed for the most part in peering about 
the brushy and timbered margins of ponds, marshes and 
streams most favorable for their supply of food. When the 
females arrive "the music opens;" for of all the exhibitions of 
chivalric fighting for sweet love's sake in the bird kingdom, 
theirs is at the head. A single instance out of a great many 
will be enough. While observing the spring birds with one 
eye and watching game ducks with the other, on the 26th of 
April, a rather raw, windy day, I heard the familiar voice of 
this grosbeak, which was instantly duplicated by several others, 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 341 

and before I could turn around six of this species were almost 
within my reach directly before me, one of which was a female, 
that perched upon the top-most branch of a bush a little further 
removed, and the males all singing, poised on their wings and 
at the same time pecking, biting, tearing each other until the 
blood was dripping from one of them — never sweeter nor half 
so varied melody from the throats of these birds, each ap- 
parently at his very best endeavor, while maintaining the 
bloodiest bird battle I ever witnessed. The mystery was, 
where the notes found a vent through bills occupied with the 
gore and feathers of such conflict, or where such savagery 
could reach its foe through beaks so exquisitely freighted 
with melody! Although, unavoidably cognizant of my proxi- 
mity they entirely ignored my presence, and continued the 
battle in a heterogeneous melee, surging, backward, forward, 
upward, downward, once directly through a leafless oak bush 
of considerable size down onto the ground, and up again, 
never for a single moiety of a moment relaxing or diminish- 
ing their mellifluous torrent of melody, until two dropped to 
the ground absolutely exhausted, with their wings extended, 
their mouths open, and panting as if life was ebbing away at 
the very moment. The other three sought the nearest perch 
upon some brush and a wood-pile, one of which alone con- 
tinued his perfectly maintained song. Daring this Balaklavian 
charge of the feathered cavaliers, I glanced at the familiar 
female, who, without seeming to entertain the least concern 
about the ambitious singing, or the grand result, was pruning 
her feathers, in the calm, composed deliberation of an ex- 
emplary grandmother getting ready for church or prayer- 
meeting. 

In a few minutes, perhaps I should say moments (for one 
does not measure time very accurately under such circumstan- 
ces), the exhausted pair gathered themselves up and slipped 
away out of sight amongst the bushes, while the two perchers 
in silence flew nervously away in another direction. 

All this time the victor held his solitary strain at its wildest 
pitch, but instantly when the others had gone he ceased, and 
bounded into the air, and away, over the tops of the bushes, 
and the hitherto unconcerned coquette immediataly followed 
him as if she had always been his devoted wife. 

Lovelier blood, or bloodier love, I never witnessed, from 
which I turned with some reflections which domestic prudence 
suggests "are better left unsung." 



342 NOTES ON THE 

Throughout the breeding season constantly and until the fall 
migration, occasionally the notes of the Rosebreasted Grosbeak 
may be heard by the accustomed ear from the edges of the woods 
or in the cool, shadowy thickets bordering the swamps. More 
than once during the warm month of July, when quietly picking 
my way through the dense forests and moist, cool shades, I have 
been halted by the solitary song of this bird — soft, sweet, dis- 
tant, pathetic — and at the last moment before resuming my 
way, discover him not twenty feet away in the very act. He 
saw me, and seemed to know he charmed me and therefore had 
a sweet faith that I would not harm him — and I did not. 

They do not build their careless and rather slovenly nests 
until after the 25th of May and often considerably into June. 
It is composed of considerably different materials in different 
localities, but is losely formed of bits of vines, small sticks, 
roots, straws, leaves, etc., outwardly, and inwardly of finer, 
though similar materials, more closely and compactly disposed. 
It is placed in a tree about five feet from the ground. The 
number of eggs varies from three to five, but will scarcely 
average four, so far as I have yet observed. They are pale 
green and speckled with dull reddish-brown. 

Although it is said that the male shares the duties of sitting 
upon the eggs, I have never yet found one so occupied. 

These birds devour immense numbers of insects, notwith- 
standing they are seed eaters. They retire from the State 
about the middle of September. 

Mr. Washburn found them exceedingly common in the Red 
river valley in the woodlands and at Dead Lake. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head and neck all round, and upper parts generally, glossy 
black; a broad crescent across the upper part of the breast 
extending narrowly down to the belly, axillaries and under 
wing coverts, carmine; rest of under parts, rump and upper 
tail coverts, middle wing coverts, spots on the tertiaries and 
inner great wing coverts, basal half of primaries and secon- 
daries and large patch on the ends of the inner webs of the 
outer three tail feathers, pure white. 

Length, 8.50; wing, 4.15. 

Habitat, eastern United States and southern Canada west to 
eastern border of Plains. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA 343 

PASSERINA CYANEA (L.). (598.) 

INDIGO BUNTING. 

This beautifully plumaged bird has been observed in nearly 
every locality I have visited within the State, and is reported 
from many others as a regular summer resident, breeding in its 
wonted places. It arrives with great uniformity the first 
week in May in this latitude, and commences the building of its 
nest usually in the third week. This is found more commonly 
in thickets bordering or interspersing woods where briers and 
brambles are abundant, and is built in the branches or 
tangle from very near to three or four feet above the ground, 
completely sheltered by the foliated canopy. It is formed 
usually of leaves and coarse grasses exteriorly, and a good 
supply of fine roots and fibrous barks constitute the bulk of it 
interiorly, finished with some horse hairs. The eggs, five in 
number are white, and annually two broods are raised. Mr 
Lewis found its young as early as June 8th, in Pipestone, and 
Dr. Hvoslef at Lanesboro as late as July 21st. 

Its habits are usually more familiar to persons residing in 
the rural districts than to professional experts whose ambition 
for extended notes is liable to question whether it does not 
incline to more extended travel. After all of my own desul- 
tory observations through quite a long life, it has been no 
uncommon experience to have a rural friend give me hints and 
points on the habits of many species of our birds which sub- 
sequent observations, thus directed, have proved of great 
value. Yet, in common with all conscientious students of 
bird-life, I have long since learned to accept nothing from 
such sources until it was verified by personal observation, 
except I qualify the record. Under such qualifications I will 
say that one of the most critical observers of the characteris- 
tics of birds, who resided for many years in one of the most 
favored localities, told me that at considerable intervals he 
had seen instances of the Indigo Bird's mounting, hovering 
and warbling its humble notes for a few moments in the man- 
ner of the Sky-lark. As I never witnessed such a demonstra- 
tion or met with any record of it elsewhere, I leave it with 
this bare mention. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Male, blue, tinged with ultramarine on the head, throat, and 
middle of breast; elsewhere with verdigris-green. Lores, and 

23 z 



344 NOTES ON THE 

anterior angle of chin, velvet-black. Wing feathers brown, 
edged externally with dull bluish-brown. 

Length, about 5.75; wing, nearly 3 inches. 

Habitat, eastern United States to the Missouri. 



SPIZA AMERICANA (Gmelin). (604.) 
DICKCISSEL. 

This bunting, so common in the country where I spent my 
boyhood, eluded my observations for a good many years until 
one morning in April a male presumably from a recent battle 
with a rival, dashed into the fence very near me in a fearfully 
excited condition in which he failed to recognize my presence, 
thus giving me a coveted opportunity to see him in all his glory 
before devoting him as a sacrifice to science. Encouraged by this, 
I kept a sharp lookout for these birds, and enlisted the atten- 
tion of several amateur collectors, who soon found they were 
almost daily to be seen in a single restricted locality. The 
following year, that spot was under constant scrutiny until 
assured that not an individual had been seen in its vicinity up 
to the 1st of June. But several miles from it a number of 
them had been secured in another similarly situated locality. 
It was found in both instances in the immediate vicinity of 
plowed, and cultivated fields, but in dry, rich meadows bearing 
a dense growth of wild grass, and a few shrubs, or bushes, 
with an occasional, small- sized tree. A few only were flushed, 
and only two or three shot, not wishing to drive them from a 
locality presumably chosen to rear their young in. A few days 
established the presumption when on the 23d of May their 
mouths were observed to be occupied with straws. Although 
repeated efforts were made to find the nests, only one was found 
by a boy, who believed it was a Bluebird's, and only brought 
away the eggs, four in number, that were barely addled. A sub- 
sequent investigation established its identity, as that of the 
Black- throat. 

The next two years following, I neither saw any of this 
species, nor gathered any reports of it in the State, when on 
the third year it reappeared in perhaps a little increased num- 
bers but not in either of its former localities. 

In the autumnal migrations Prof. C. L. Herrick reported 
them "quite abundant" in the vicinity of Minneapolis. Mr, 
John Roberts and several others mentioned seeing them in the 
spring. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA 345 

Dr. Hvoslef found them on "North Prairie, June 19th, 1883 
setting on a newly plowed field." The same gentleman met 
them again on the 11th of May, 1884, at Lanesboro. 

This species seems to be more capricious in its choice of lo- 
calities from year to year, than any other of the fringilline 
birds. 

They arrive in spring about the middle of May, but vary the 
time somewhat in different years. They are recognized by 
their song. 

Describing the songs of some species so as to convey a very 
good idea to an attentive, enlisted person is quite possible, if 
they are bold, and strongly characteristic, but with the Black- 
throated Sparrow, as with many others equally unpretentious, 
it is really a very difficult task. However, Dr. Coues has ap- 
proximated it more nearly than any other in the words: 
"Look! look! see me here! see!" repeated frequently in a 
rather weak voice but quite spirited manner. His at- 
titude almost perpendicular, wings and tail deflected, opened 
bill pointing skyward, he throws his whole soul into an effort 
worthy of higher results as he reveals his form against the 
background of sky or cloud from the top of some bush, on the 
tip of the tallest limb of a small sized tree. He is really a very 
pretty if not quite beautiful bird. 

The nest is variously located on the ground, in a tussock of 
grass, on a bush, and sometimes in a tree five or six feet from 
the ground, and consists of coarse grass externally, lined with 
finer inside, and generally finished with horse-hair. The eggs, 
four or five in number, like Lark Bunting's, so resemble those of 
the Bluebirds that I cannot satisfactorily differentiate them. 

They begin their southward movement very quietly about the 
20th of September, although all are not gone before the second 
or third week in October. At this time they are much aggre- 
gated in number and are found commonly on the high prairies 

I confess my inability to get as much melody out of this species 
as does the Rev. Mr. Langille, or even as much ''chic-chic-chelac" 
as does he, — I suspect that either his observations, or his de- 
scription of the bird in northern Ohio, which he first saw and 
heard "one evening at sunset," had been preceded by an excep- 
tionally good cup of tea, for I have lent that warbler my best, 
sharpest and longest ears, with no such return for their use. 
Indeed, while blessed with a fairly available imagination when 
listening to melody, I confess that even Dr. Cones' formulation 
of "Look! look! see me here! see!" is a little straining to it. 



346 NOTES ON THE 

but neveitheless it is better than I could do myself, and so I 
thankfully accept and appreciate it. I will do the former the 
justice to sa3', however, that I regard him as entitled to the 
palm in the description of the songs of many other species. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Sides of head, sides and back of the neck, ash; crown tinged 
with yellowish green, and faintly streaked with dusky. A su- 
perciliary, and short maxillary line, middle of breast, axilla- 
ries, and edge of the wing, yellow. Chin, loral region, spots 
on the sides of the throat, belly and under tail coverts, white. 
A patch on the throat diminishing to the breast, and a spot on 
the upper part of the belly, black. Wing coverts chestnut; 
inter- scapular region streaked with black; rest of back immac- 
ulate. 

Length, 6.70; wing, 3.50. 

Habitat, eastern United States to the Rocky Mountains. 

CALAMOSPIZA MELANOCORYS Stejneger. (605.) 

LARK BUNTING. 

This quite remarkable species, which in widely different re- 
spects seems to resemble so many others, has long been known 
to frequent portions of the State along the Red river, but has 
only of late years been often met with in limited numbers in 
the middle and southern counties. Like the Bobolink changing 
its striking dress of spring and early summer, when the breed- 
ing season is over, for the somber, plain plumage of the female, 
it may easily escape identification afterwards in its autumnal 
migrations. A male fell into my hands in May, 1877, taken in 
the immediate vicinity, since which it has come under my no- 
tice frequently in its strongly marked nuptial dress, but from 
more southern localities generally. 

Without positive proof I still believe that it is of much more 
frequent occurrence in the interior and eastern sections of the 
State than I am justified in now recording it, I have enough 
reliable reports from &uch sections to show that it is not very 
infrequently seen in those localities during the breeding season, 
but no nests have yet been obtained. Dr. Hvoslef reports it 
from Fillmore county as late as the 19th of June; also the 12th 
of May; and Mr. P. Lewis, in several places between the last 
named and Redwood, in all of which it is reasonable to suppose 
it might be breeding, as the times of its observation included 
the earlier part of July. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 847 

I have spent considerable time in its favorite districts, many 
years ago, since which time I have anticipated its presence, 
particularly in the southeastern prairies of Minnesota. The 
nests were comparatively easy to find after the peculiar habit of 
the male of singing while poised on his wings was carefully 
noted, for as a general thing this demonstration takes place 
not very far from over where his listening little wife is attend- 
ing to family duties. The nests were always found not far 
away, if detected at all, and generally flush with the ground, 
but in localities characterized by rank or bushy, sedgy growth, 
it was sometimes found a little more elevated. It consists of 
weeds and grasses, rather indifferently constructed, with a 
sparing supply of the same for the lining, but a little finer. 
They have from four to five eggs that resemble those of the 
Bluebird, as has been often observed, to such an extent that 
they are almost indistinguishable. 

The plumage of the male, as described in the Special Char- 
acters of the species, is completely changed in the month 
succeeding the breeding period, after which the hovering de- 
monstrations and song are dispensed with, and from small 
colonies of a few pairs, in one circumscribed locality, it soon 
gathers into considerable flocks in those sections where it hab- 
itually is most abundant. The song of the male is really much 
that of the Yellow-breasted Chat, a musician with whose mel- 
odies I became exceedingly familiar at Sacramento, California, 
during a somewhat protracted visit there in the spring of 1869. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Entirely black; a broad band on the wing with the outer 
edges of the quills and tail feathers, white. Bill rather large, 
swollen at the base; commissure much angulated near the 
base. Legs large and stout; claws strong, compressed, and 
much curved. Wings long and pointed. Tail a little shorter 
than the wings and slightly graduated, the feathers rather 
narrow and obliquely oval- rounded at the end. 

Length, 6.50; wing, 3.50; tail, 3.20; tarsus, 1.00; bill, 0.60. 

Habitat — from Minnesota, plains of Dakota, west to the 
Rocky Mountains. 



348 NOTES ON THE 



Family TANAGRID^E. 

PIRANGA ERYTHROMELAS Vieillot. (608.) 
SCARLET TANAGER. 

This is truly a wonderful bird. Its striking colors are with- 
out a precedent in this latitude, and it is a marked exception 
to the rule that the higher the colors the lower the measure of 
the melody of the song, for it sings absolutely beautifully. 

I have had the rare pleasure of listening to its strains under 
circumstances most favorable to avoid accrediting the wrong 
warbler. I am not a little surprised that so few writers men- 
tion any other note but the "chip, chur-r-r-r" originally given 
by Wilson I think. One or two have discovered a series of 
modulations resembling the song of the Robin "only softer, 
and less copious and fluent. " I also read of the performance 
of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak "strongly resembling the finest 
of the Robin's" but in the memory of the beautiful melodies 
of the Scarlet Tanager, I have no comparison which 
would not grossly mislead. The best approximation would 
be the liquid sweetness and copiousness of the best efforts 
of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, with scarcely any inflec- 
tions or modulations belonging to the same class of song 
as the Robin's. I never attempted more than a snatch of 
the closing notes of the exquisite peroration of its melodious 
undulations, which I can but faintly describe at the 
best. Closing an effort which had been prolonged about as 
long as the longest of the Grosbeak's, it seems most nearly to 
resemble, to loit-to ivhei^e-iuheedle, luheedle- wee-woo wit. The first 
two notes with an upward, but gentle inflection, the next two 
downward, the next two and two following with a slight roll 
and the upward and downward marked in "wee-woo" by cor- 
responding inflection and deflection ending with an abrupt 
upward "wit." 

Not an approximation towards an unmelodious note in the 
whole strain, delivered with deliberation, and a restful com- 
pleteness of volume. It has an undoubted right in the calendar 
of the genuine song birds. 

It arrives about May 10th usually, although much earlier in 
extremely premature seasons. I have one good record for April 
4th. I mention this because so very exceptional. Rev. Father 
Gear, who was the earliest army chaplain ever stationed at Ft. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA 349 

Snelling, (situated at the junction of the Minnesota and Mis- 
sissippi rivers,) was a very careful observer of the habits of 
the birds, from whom I received much reliable information of 
the habits of many of the more common birds in early times, 
and I availed myself of his notes upon this species particularly. 
He assured me that the Scarlet Tanager was never seen here 
until some time after the then territory had been appropriated 
by the white people. When first seen it was in the tall timber 
which skirts the Mississippi, about the 15th of May, and back 
in the "forties." It was not met again for several years, and 
then more frequently until about 1850 it began to return regu- 
larly, and with increasing numbers. 

It has greatly increased in the time that I have been a resi- 
dent, until at the present time it may be said to be abundant 
for its species. They are to be looked for in brush land in 
which are also considerable numbers of tall, forest trees, and 
near water courses. In the absence of the water courses, it 
will seek the vicinity of lakes or of swamps. The male pre- 
cedes the female by about ten days, during which time it seems 
to go outside of its summer range, in a sort of restless waiting, 
and is then seen often about our shrubbery and ornamental 
groves. 

On the arrival of the mate, the favorite localities are at once 
selected, and about the first week in June they construct a 
nest of weeds, strips of bark, twigs, wool, etc. , which is lined 
with fine roots and occasionally bits of tamarack twigs. It is 
exceedingly loosely built, scarcely having firmness apparently 
to answer its purpose. They lay three eggs generally, and 
occasionally four, light green, spotted thickly with reddish- 
brown. It is placed almost uniformly on a horizontal limb of 
a sapling, or rather smaller tree, and about eight feet from the 
ground, with now and then one much higher. I have never 
known them to bring out more than one brood in a season. 
They generally begin to move southward early in September, 
and are usually all gone by the 15th of that month. They are 
by no means uniformly distributed through the State, but 
have increased their distribution with increase of population. 
They will forage sometimes amongst the smaller fruits, and 
hence are somewhat under the ban of the fruit-growers. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill somewhat straight, subconical, cylindrical, notched at 
tip, shorter than head; culmen moderately curved, commissure 
with a median acute lobe; wings elongated, the first four 



350 NOTES ON THE 

primaries about equal, second quill longest, first and third a 
little shorter; tail moderate, slightly forked; general color, 
bright carmine; wings and tail velvet black, the quills intern- 
ally edged with white towards the base. 

Length, 7.40; wing, 4; tail, 3. 

Habitat, eastern United States, west to the Plains. 



Family HIRUNDINID.^ 

PROGNE SITBIS (L.). (611.) 
PURPLE MARTIN 

When the long winters of Minnesota have gone so that the 
snows have disappeared from the thickets and corners of the 
fences, and tiny coleopterous insects begin to appear in the 
air, even though still chilly, the Purple Martin may appear any 
forenoon, approaching 12 o'clock. It usually does so in com- 
pany with greater numbers of the White-bellied Swallows. In 
1870 they'both came on the 17th of April, and after skirmishing 
vigorously about for an hour, and finding no food along the 
river, departed as abruptly as they came. On the 22d they re- 
turned in augmented numbers, and went no more away for the 
season. They soon build their nests in various places, but 
manifest a strong preference to have them near dwellings. 
Their readiness to occupy boxes, artificial houses placed on 
poles, on the eaves of out houses, is a matter of the commonest 
observation, doubtless for no sentiment toward our species, but 
because our habits and our habitations attract the larger quan- 
tities of insects upon which they feed. Yet, like the Chimney 
Swallows, they frequent the forests, and employ holes in old 
dead trees in many places familiar to me. They habitually 
enter the state at the southern border early in April, as Dr. 
Hvo&lef of Lanesboro has the 3d of that month in his record 
for several years in succession. He also observed the circum- 
stances of their disappearing again for a few days — once eleven 
— and then invariably remaining upon their return. The nests 
consist of fine straw, hay, dried leaves, and feathers which are 
employed to line it. They lay four pure white eggs, that are 
almost indistinguishable from those of the White-bellied Swal- 
low. The first brood is brought out by the 10th of June and 
another one late in July. 

As a fighter, the courage of this bird has but one approxima- 
tion, and that is in the Kingbird. Crows, ravens, hawks and 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 351 

eagles are instantly put to flight by them, and in the words of 
Wilson, "So well known is this to the lesser birds, that as soon 
as they hear the Martin's voice engaged in fight, all is alarm 
and consternation. To observe with what spirit and audacity 
this bird dives and sweeps upon, and around the hawk, or the 
eagle, is astonishing. He also bestows an occasional bastinad- 
ing on the Kingbird, when he finds him too near his premises, 
though he will at any time instantly co-operate with him in 
attacking the common enemy," The value of the Purple Mar- 
tin to the general, or the special agriculturist is so well under- 
stood, and so universally accepted on account of their destructon 
of noxious insects, that for an exception, no argument is needed 
with that class of producers to defend it. It is nearly univer- 
sally distributed over the State. It leaves the whole country 
almost simultaneously between the 20th and 25th of August, in 
company with the White-bellied Swallows. Years of record 
show that they have left the vicinity of Minneapolis on either 
the 23d or 24th of that month. 

Note. Mr. Washburn when referring to this species in his 
notes gathered on his second trip to the Red river valley says : — 
"This species too, occurs about Mille Lacs, where the farmers 
provide boxes for them. The great majority of them there, 
however, nest with the Gulls on an island called Spirit island 
by the Indians, lying about two miles from the southeastern 
shore of Lake Mille Lacs. Here large numbers lay their eggs 
in the sand, — in the crevices and fissures of the rocks, and 
serve as allies in driving away the ravens and other birds dis- 
posed to prey upon the eggs and young of the gulls. " 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill strong, short, gape very wide, sides gradually com- 
pressed, culmen and lateral margins arched lo tip, and the 
latter inflected, nostrils basal, lateral, open, and rounded; tail 
considerably forked; tarsi shorter than middle toe and claw, 
and about equal to the toe alone; toes long, strong, lateral ones 
equal; closed wings rather longer than the deeply forked tail; 
tarsi and toes naked; color everywhere glossy steel-blue with 
purple and violet reflections. 

Length, 7.30; wing, 5.85; tail, 3.40. 

Habitat, temperate North America. 

PETROCHELIDON LUNIFRONS (Say). (612.) 

CLIFF SWALLOW. 

Nowhere that my personal observation has extended, has 
this species of sparrow been more abundant from about the 
first of May to the 20th of August, than in this northern land. 



352 NOTES ON THE 

It does not come quite as early, nor remain quite as long as 
the Black-bellied Swallow, but is far more numerous, and 
domestic. 

Its habits are essentially the same as those of the Barn Swal- 
low in flight as well as in feeding, but it builds a different nest, 
both as to form and some of its elements. Its construction 
consists of pellets of mud plastered onto the perpendicular 
surface of rocks at considerable elevation from the ground, and 
underneath jutting ledges, or beneath the eaves and cornices 
of buildings, beginning upon a broad base which is uniformly 
built out from the building, or cliff, far enough for a comfort- 
able-sized cavity which is closed over except that a neck, curv- 
ing a little downward, is extended somewhat, through which is 
formed the entrance. 

Into this inclosed cavity are carried a lining of fine grass, 
and feathers. Five slightly pinkish -white eggs, spotted more 
or less thickly with fine specks of reddish, brown and purplish, 
are layed about the 20th of May — perhaps occasionally a little 
earlier, but quite as likely a little later. Two and three broods 
are reared in the season. 

They are quite uniformly distributed throughout the state in 
localities favoring them with breeding places. It has been said 
that they sometimes burrow into banks to nest after the man- 
ner of the Bank Swallows — (Clivicola riparia (Linn.).) — but 
I do not credit the observation. The rapidity of their flight 
precludes the urgency of incubation as a reason for their enter- 
ing the burrows of the other species, so that unless strong 
proof is adduced I must reject it. 

They leave the country about the 20th of August. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Crown and back steel-blue, the upper part of the latter with 
concealed pale edges to the feathers; chin, throat, and sides 
of the head, dark chestnut; breast fuscus; belly white; a steel- 
blue spot on the throat; rump, light chestnut; forehead brown- 
ish-white; a pale nuchal band; tail slightly emarginate. 

Length, 5; wing, 4.40; tail, 2.20. 

Habitat, North America at large. 

CHELIDON ERYTHROGASTER (Bodd^rt.) (613 ) 
BARN SWALLOW. 

This is undoubtedly the most abundant species of the whole 
family of the swallows throughout the State, arriving in small 
parties about the 25th of April, and building its nests about 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA 353 

the 15th of May. Its presence is easily noted, as the tail is ex- 
tremely forked, and it seeks the inside of barns and other out- 
houses to build its nest on the rafters and beams. Failing to 
find its favorite place to build, it will accept a place under the 
eaves like the Cliff Swallow, or not obtaining this, will go to 
the woods, and there select a hollow stub or tree so widely 
open that little else but the shell of the dry sappy part remains 
and will occupy it with ten to twenty or more nests. This out 
wardly, consists of mud brought in pellets and plastered to- 
gether with the saliva of the bird, into which is mixed a desir- 
able quantity of fine hay. When it has assumed the right pro 
portions it is lined with fine grass, covered over which are loosely 
disposed feathers. It lays from four to five white eggs bear- 
ing a tint of fleshy roseate color, with fine dottings of two 
shades of brown, and reddish purple. Three broods are reared 
in a season oftentimes, but more frequently only two. In the 
early autumn they gather into flocks of considerable size, 
though not as large as in some other sections reported, and 
after staying a few days about the unfrequented streams and 
large marshes, disappear so suddenly that it is little wonder 
that our not very remote ancestors were led to believe that 
they hibernated in the marshes and swamps. In a country con 
sisting of so much treeless territory, it would not be expected 
to find the Barn Swallow universally distributed, but nowhere 
has it failed to be found where conditions favoring its incubat- 
ing habits have existed, or been subsequently developed . On 
the broad plains of the Red river valley, where barns are still 
the exceptions, I have found them in great numbers about a 
single out-house oftentimes. 

In common with all of the social swallows, they are every- 
where welcomed by the agriculturists, as their feeding habits 
do not levy upon the productions of man. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail deeply forked; outer feathers several inches longer than 
the inner; very narrow towards the end, above glossy blue, 
with concealed white in the middle of the back; throat chest- 
nut; rest of lower part reddish-white, not conspicuously differ 
ent; a steel blue collar on the upper part of the breast, inter- 
rupted in the middle; tail feathers with a white spot near the 
middle on the inner web. 

Length, 6.90; wing, 5; tail, 4.50. 

Habitat, North America. 



354 NOTES ON THE 

TACHYCINETA BICOLOR (Vieillot). (614.) 
TREE SWALLOW. 

This bird loses no time in making its northern migrations as 
early as there is to be found an appropriate supply of food. It 
is looked for with so much interest by the poet as well as the 
naturalist, that its arrival could not long escape notice. Quite 
early in April, when the sun has driven away the cheerless 
clouds enough to let his rays begin to warm the recently frozen 
earth a little, and clusters of tiny forms of insect life begin to 
occupy the air, the White-bellied Swallows, often accompanied 
by the Purple Martins appear suddenly upon the scene, in lim- 
ited numbers, as avaunt couriers of the hosts to come when the 
question of food supply has been assured. Sometimes, after a 
few hours spent here, as described in connection with the 
Purple Martins they leave as suddenly and as completely as 
they came„ and are not seen for five, ten, or even fifteen days, 
if the season remains exceptionally backward, yet there have 
been years when all of the conditions referred to being contin- 
uously unfavorable, they have come early and remained. The 
time of average arrival may be set down at about the 12th of 
April in the southern part of the State, not much time there- 
after passing before reaching all parts. 

In 1884 they were not in the more southern tier of counties 
till the 27th of April, while in 1875, according to my notes, they 
arrived in the latitude of Minneapolis by the 8th, and in 1886 
on the 7th. 

They build their nests about the 15th of May, in holes in 
trees, or occasionally in the deserted nests of the Barn Swal- 
lows, or in a hole of a log or stump. The materials involved in 
its structure are usually dried fine grasses and feathers, very 
loosely disposed in the cavity occupied. They lay five eggs, and 
bring out two broods of young. The eggs are clear, roseate 
white. 

They retire from the State exceptionally early, not even 
waiting for the first frost. They are usually gone by the 25th 
of August. In 1870 Mr. W. L. Tiffany, a very competent ob- 
server, reported them clean gone, with the Purple Martins on 
the 23d of that month. 

Their departure on that occasion, was noticed by many ob 
servers of the habits of the birds, as there was an unusual 
demonstration of preparation by both species for many hours 
before the final movement took place. The variation of the 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 355 

nesting habits of this beautiful swallow which has been noticed 
so much of late years, I believe to have been associated with 
its entire history, and is abundantly verified here. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Glossy metallic green above; entirely white beneath; nos- 
trils basal, small, oblong, and covered by a membrane; tail 
emarginate; tarsus naked and shorter than the middle toe, and 
scutellate. 

Length, 6.25; wing, 5; tail, 2.65. 

Habitat, North America at large. 

CLIVICOLA RIPARIA (L.). (616.) 
BANK SWALLOW. 

This smallest of the swallows, which avoids all intercourse 
with man, seeking its breeding places in the neighborhood of 
streams and lakes, often quite inaccessible, would be a hard 
species to watch as to the times of their arrival and departure 
but for the circumstance of their spending their nights in their 
holes in the banks where they breed. When new holes have to 
be excavated, it is done very rapidly, so as to provide a place 
for the first night's lodging. An early visit to the vicinity of 
the banks will determine their arrival. A single locality may 
be occupied by only a few birds, but many places within a short 
distance of each other are occupied by hundreds, if not thou- 
sands. The supply of food must in some measure determine 
that, although the possibilities of their wings may meet most 
emergencies of that kind. 

They reach the greater part of the State by the 5th of May as 
a general thing, and at once enter upon their nidification. The 
nest is usually at the end of a hole about half a yard in length, 
and consists of a cavity of sufiicient dimensions to receive an 
ample quantity of dried grasses, hay, feathers and down of 
different kinds. Sometimes the nest is much further in the 
bank. 

They deposit four or five pure white eggs, and bring out two 
broods in due time for the last to be ready for the southern 
migration by the 25th of August. 

Its nidification habits doubtless restrict its numbers in certain 
districts, but it is an abundant species. I have not failed to 
find it in every important section seen or heard from, 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Smallest American swallow. Tail slightly emarginate, outer 
web of first primary soft, without hooks; lower part of tarsus 



356 NOTES ON THE 

with a few scattered feathers; above grayish brown, somewhat 
fuliginous, with a tendency to paler margins to the feathers; 
beneath pure white, with a band across the breast and sides of 
the body like the back. 

Length, 4.75; wing, 4; tail, 2, 

Habitat, Northern Hemisphere. 

STELGIDOPTERYX SERRIPENNIS (Audubon). (617.) 
ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW. 

This swallow arrives about the same time of the arrival of 
the Bank Swallow, and is no less common in some sections 
breeding in different localities, but more generally in banks 

I am less familiar with its habits or history than with most 
of the other species of its family. Dr. Hvoslef reports it "one 
of our very common swallows" arriving at Lanesboro, 
April 19, (1884). I have never seen the nest in situ, but the 
eggs are by no means rare amongst our oologists. They are 
said to be 4 or 5 in number, and white. They leave the State 
quite as early as any of the swallows, I think. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Tail slightly emarginate; first primary with the pennulas of 
the outer web much stiffened, with their free extremities recur 
ved into a hook very appreciable to the touch. Above rather 
light sooty-brown, beneath whitish-gray or light brown-ash, 
becoming nearly pure white in the middle of the belly, and on 
the under tail coverts. 

Length, 4.50; wing, 4.30; tail, 2.25. 

Habitat, United States at large. 

Family AMPELID^. 

AMPELIS GARRFLUS (L ). (618.) 
BOHEMIAN WAXWING. 

The Bohemian Waxwing is one of our winter visitants, arriv 
ing variously from the first of December to the 20th of that 
month. 

The closest observation locally, and a wide correspondence 
extending over the State has failed to note their presence for 
several winters in succession occasionally, yet they may be put 
down as rather an abundant species during a portion of the 
winter and long into spring. They are in flocks of from 20 to 
50 or even more, and are often most numerous in spring when 
they have entirely escaped observation in the autumn or early 
winter. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 357 

The general texture of the feathers of this species, (and its 
near relative, the Cedar Bird) so remarkably different from that 
of nearly all other species, gives it a beautiful, rich, and soft 
plumage which must be seen to be fully appreciated. 

No close observer of the individual characteristicts of the 
birds, ever fails to be peculiarly impressed by it, and so strik- 
ing is it that nearly everybody wants a specimen for mounting, 
which has led to the decimation of the species, and would most 
naturally lead to its extermination, or to driving it to other 
lines of migration, but for the irregularities of its migrations 
already alluded to. It has grown shy, but less so than we 
would naturally expect. While closely resembling the Cedar 
Bird in its quaker-drab general coloration, and a prominent 
crest which it elevates at will, it is appreciably larger, a little 
darker, and has some white on the wings, besides dark-red, or 
iron-rust under tail coverts which constitute a striking distinc- 
tion from the white of the other species. The two species 
some time become mixed together in the same flock in early 
spring. 

Their food consists chiefly of berries and wild grapes in win- 
ter, but as the spring awakens the insect world, they become 
decidedly insectivorous, catching winged forms after the most 
approved methods of the true fly-catchers. 

They remain until the latter part of April in this latitude, 
and have all left the State for more northern regions by the 
1st of May. I know nothing of their breeding habits, but trust 
they are more songful then, for they have no approach to 
melody while with us. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

High crested; general color brownish- ash with a faint shade 
of reddish, especially anteriorly; the forehead, sides of head 
and under tail coverts brownish- orange; hinder parts purer 
ash; region about vent white; primaries and tail feathers plum- 
beous black, especially towards the tips; tail with a terminal 
band of yellow; a narrow frontal line passing backward, involv- 
ing the eye, and extending above and behind it; chin and upper 
part of throat black; tips of the secondary coverts and a spot 
on the end of the outer webs of all the quills white; those on 
the inner primaries glossed with yellow; secondaries with red, 
horny tips, like sealing wax; side of the lower jaw whitish. 

Length, 7.40; wing, 4.50; tail, 3. 

Habitat, northern parts of Northern Hemisphere. 



358 NOTES ON THE 

AMPEHS CEDROHUM (Vieillot). (619.) 
CEDAR WAXWING. 

Without a note of song, uttering only an oftrepeated twle, 
twee, and with a palate for cherries in particular that reaches 
into the pocket of the fruit- culturist, this beautiful bird has 
friends but few. I had long been under the influence of the 
popular prejudice towards this bird, when one day a country 
woman brought a young, but nearly f ullgrown specimen to me, 
and I bought it. The soft delicate drab mantle and reddish- 
olive head with its expressive crest were irresistible, and I took 
it with a mental resolve to give it full liberty when the time 
came for the autumnal migration. On releasing it in the dining- 
room it flew to a bracket in the sitting-room directly over a 
mantel on which a clock stood. From that time that ever re 
mained his perch. His confidence in the entire membership of 
the family was manifest from the first, and he spent his time in 
clearing the house of flies and spiders, except what was devoted 
to bathing and pruning his plumage, or taking a bit of accept 
ble food off from my own plate, or preferably from my lips 
while perching upon my left shoulder. A small quantity satis 
fled him, when he would return to his bracket and dress his bill 
until the last particle of adhering food was removed, when he 
would invariably relight on my shoulder, from which he would 
hop onto the rim of my glass of water, and after taking what 
he desired, returned to his perch, where he remained quietly 
until our meal was finished. Afterwards his search for spiders 
and flies was resumed, in the pursuit for which he availed him- 
self of any open door leading to cellar or garret, or out and 
under the piazza. All the care required was to lay a piece of 
paper on the mantel under his perch, and leave some water in 
a dish to supply him with drink when the family were absent. 
Several distinguished ornithologists dined with me at different 
times, and were greatly pleased as well as surprised at his per- 
formances. He never showed the slightest desire to migrate 
in autumn. Unfortunately, one Sabbath the supply of water 
was forgotten, and a tall pitcher half filled was left standing 
upon the table, to which doubtless, he resorted, and slipped in 
without the power to get out, and was there drowned most in - 
gloriously. Notwithstanding his penchant for berries and 
cherries, he abundantly proved to me that his species is worth 
more to the pomologist than almost any other in the destruc- 
tion of worms, larvae and insects of nearly all kinds. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA 359 

Mr. F. L. Washburn, whose observations in the Red river 
valley have been of great value to me, says: "About the mid- 
dle of August there is present, flying over the sloughs and 
ponds, (in the region of the Thief river, &c), a small gauze-like, 
transparent, white fly, a species of coleoptera, of which the 
Cedar Bird is apparently very fond. For almost half an hour 
I watched six of these birds, constantly on the wing, hovering 
over a slough and catching quantities of these insects. They 
seemed never to grow tired, but flew slowly against the wind, 
deviating now a little to this side, now to that, until they reached 
the end of the slough, when back they came to repeat the same 
maneuvre and go over the same ground again and again. Oc- 
casionally they uttered the characteristic note of the species, 
but for the most part flew silently. During the time I stood 
watching them they did not once rest. These birds are also 
partial to the black currants which are found in the woods at 
this season." 

They arrive in considerable flocks about the 1st of April, 
some years a month earlier in the lower counties, and not very 
infrequently two weeks later than the average date first men- 
tioned. Occasions are not wanting where a few individuals 
have lingered all winter. Soon after the 1st of May the larger 
flocks are subdivided, until only pairs remain together, and 
they build their nests on a horizontal limb of different species 
of trees in the pasture, about the house or in the timber. It 
consists of stalks of weeds, strips of bark, leaves, grass, fine 
roots, etc. Deeply hollowed, it is lined with fine grass, roots 
and horse hairs. They usually lay five light bluish eggs with 
a shade of purple or brown, and marked somewhat with black 
spots and obscure spots of brown. They raise two broods. 

I have found them in considerable numbers as late as the 
16th of December, but they usually leave this latitude by the 
1st of November in considerable parties, skirting the timber 
belts in the direction they take. No bird without a song 
should be more welcome to the general or special agriculturist 
than the beautiful Cedar Bird. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head crested; general color reddish-olive, passing on the 
neck, head and breast, into purplish-cinnamon, posteriorly on 
the upper parts, into ash, and on the lower into yellow; under 
tail coverts white; chin dark sooty-black, fading ins ensibly 
into the ground color on the throat; forehead, loral region, 
space below the eye and a line above it, intense black; quills 

24 z 



360 NOTES ON THE 

and tail dark plumbeous, passing behind into dusky; tail 
tipped with yellow; primaries; except the first, margined with 
hoary; a short maxillary stripe, a narrow crescent on the 
infero -posterior quarter of the eye, white; secondaries with 
horny tips like red sealing wax. 

Length, 7.25; wing, 4.05; tail, 2.60. 

Habitat, North America generally. 



Family J^ANllD^. 

LANIUS BOREALIS Vieillot. (621.) 
NORTHERN SHRIKE. 

This is by no means a very common visitor in migration, 
reaching Minnesota about the middle of October, and remain- 
ing variously in the latitude of Minneapolis from four to six 
weeks, but not very infrequently far into December. It occa- 
sionally remains during the entire winter in the lower or 
southern tier of counties, as has been reliably reported to me 
by Dr. Hvoslef. He has sent me the following data of its 
observation in his locality: — March 26th and December 31st, 
1883; December 7th, 1884; January 31st, 1885; February 3d, 
1886. 

Prof. C. L. Herrick found them "very common at Lake 
Shatek in October, 1877." December 18th, 1870, and April 
5th, 1876, are the two extremes in my own records of 29 years. 
Mr. Washburn did not see this species in the northern part of 
the State. At the latest above date of my own observations, 
I saw one feeding upon a mouse which he fixed in the crotch 
of a tree upon which he perched. 

In hunting for mice it hovers in the same manner as the 
Sparrow Hawk does, but I have never seen it in the act of im- 
paling its victim on a thorn bush or a sliver projecting from a 
stub or fence rail, as I have seen the White-Rumped Shrike do 
many times. 

They have all gone further north before the 1st of May, so 
far as I have been able to learn. They have become less and 
less observed in the settled sections of the State from year to 
year of late, as with several other species which were formerly 
common. 

specific characters. 

Above, light bluish-ash, obscurely soiled with reddish -brown; 
sides of the crown, scapulars, and upper tail coverts, hoary 
white; beneath white; the breast with traverse lines; wings 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 361 

and tail black, former with a white patch at base of primaries 
and tips of small quills, the lateral feathers of which are 
tipped with white; bill blackish-brown, considerably lighter at 
the base; black stripe from the bill through and behind the 
eye, beneath the latter interrupted by a whitish-crescent. 

Length, 9.85; wing, 4.50; tail, 4.80; its graduation, 0.90. 

Habitat, northern North America. 

LANIl S LUDOVICIANUS EXCUBITOKIDES (Swainson). 

(622a.) 

WHITE-RUMPED SHRIKE. 

The White-Rumped Shrike is a very common summer resi- 
dent of the State, reaching this latitude about the 1st of April. 
It is occasionally seen still earlier when the season opens early 
enough to afford it the proper food. Mr. Washburn found it 
at Otter Tail lake "common late in October," and said by the 
people living in the vicinity, to remain all winter. While this 
may be to an exceptional extent true, for it is certainly so in 
respect to a number of species, I am confident it cannot be so 
as a rule with the White Rumped Shrike. Prof. Herrick 
found it abundant for its species, as late as October 18th, at 
Lake Shatek. I am inclined to think that considerable num- 
bers spend the winter in southern Iowa and northern Missouri. 
Wherever trees have been planted along the highways of the 
prairies that have formed top enough to conceal the nest, the 
observer may count safely upon finding it. 

In sections where there is timber enough to give this bird 
its choice, the nest will usually be found in a rather small tree 
standing a little way into a pasture field, if not in the one that 
is the sole representative of the field. I have never met either 
bird or nest in the forest proper. It is constructed of sticks 
interlaced with shreds of bark, coarse weeds, fibers of wood, 
roots, grass, strings, wool and a fair supply of feathers. It is 
a rude, bulky structure, but, well lined with feathers, serves 
its purpose perfectly in bringing out the early brood, for 
which five or six eggs are laid about the 25th of April. They 
are of a dull, white color, spotted with varying shades of 
brown. Two broods are reared. Their principal food consists 
of beetles, but includes also various insects, and not infre 
quently mice and small birds. Not specially attractive in re- 
pose, it will instantly arrest the observer's attention when it 
flies, for then are revealed the remarkable contrasts of its 
blueish ash, black and white colors, in a manner entirely its 



362 NOTES ON THE 

own. Once identified, it is never again forgotten. As has 
already been intimated, they only leave us in late October and 
early November, individuals occasionally much later, when the 
severest frosts are materially delayed. The flight of this bird 
is quite characteristic. Sitting quietly upon a conspicuous 
post or stake of a fence, or in the top of a small tree, he drops 
down to within half a yard of the ground, and with a strong, 
even flight, follows the fence, where there is one, some little 
distance, as if destined to light on the grass, when he suddenly 
rises and perches upon another similar place, where he will 
remain almost motionless until another impulse sends him 
back to the first position in which we found him. 

The only note I have ever heard him utter was "peemp, 
peemp," in a rather subdued manner. The food of this species 
is mostly grasshoppers and beetles, considerable of which is 
often impaled on thorns, or slivers in the fence. It will often 
seize mice, if small or quite young, and will take the young or 
the eggs of other species of birds, if not vigorously defended. 
They seem to remain in families in their autumnal movements, 
but return in spring in pairs, so far as I have observed them. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Above, rather light, pure blueish ash. Forehead, sides of 
crown, scapulars and upper tail coverts, hoary whitish; be- 
neath, plain whitish; wings and tail black; the former with a 
white patch at base of primaries and tips of small quills, the 
latter with the lateral feathers tipped with white, extending 
broadly at the base. Bill throughout, pitch black; a contin- 
uous black stripe from the bill through and behind the eye. 

Length, 8.75; wing, 3.95; tail, 4.35. 

Habitat, United States, except the South. 

Family YIREOKID^. 

TIREO OLIVACEUS (L.). (624.) 
RED-EYED VIREO. 

No one interested in bird life, and fond of the quiet groves 
of lofty forest trees in spring and summer, can fail to appre- 
ciate this abundant summer resident of the woods of Minnesota. 
His song is almost unceasing from the dawn of day until the 
groves are drowsy with the last gloamings of twilight. 

For many years I have had a cottage on the shores of Lake 
Minne tonka, (now famous as a resort, fourteen miles distant 
from this city) beautifully enveloped in primeval woods of oak. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 363 

ash, maple, ironwood and basswood, where the birds abound 
as almost nowhere else in the country. During the latter part of 
May, the Red Eyed Vireos invariably have vied with the Robins 
in opening the daily bird-concert from half-past four o'clock, 
gradually earlier and earlier, until in the latter part of June it 
was no more than half-past three o'clock when these two song- 
sters poured forth their fullest measures. By eight, in the 
warmer days, the Robin would have retired from the concert, 
but with only the briefest intervals, the Vireo would keep up 
an even, clear, strong and sweetly monotonous song, which 
seemed a mere incident of his existence, costing the songster 
little effort, and a delight, though it were everlasting. There 
is comparatively little variety in the notes, but they are the 
very expression of cheerfulness and entire satisfaction. They 
are described best by the words — vireo-vireo-virieevir-'a-viree, 
uttered energetically, but without any appearance of hurry. 

They reach their summer destination about the first of May, 
some times a little later, and at once enter upon their singing. 
Concealed by the leaves of the lofty trees, he flits amongst the 
more elevated branches where the casual observer will scarcely 
see him, but he will hear him beyond a question. They build 
their nests from about the 25th of May to the 10th of June. I 
have frequently found them no more than three feet from the 
ground, suspended from the horizontal forks of a limb of the 
size of my finger, and I have still oftener met with it from ten 
to twenty feet above my head, but never very much more ele- 
vated. Always typically pensile, it is outwardly composed of 
fine strips of inner bark of the slippery elm, and basswood of 
the previous year, and therefore bleached nearly white, with 
which are mingled fragments of hornets' or wasps' nests, vege- 
table down, etc.; and inside with fine thread-like roots and 
shreds of fine bark. The eggs are a glossy white, slightly 
speckled on the larger end with dark brown. Occasionally 
there are a few blotches scattered over the same part, of a 
brickdust red. They are generally four in number, yet not in- 
frequently there are only three. They are abundant in every 
wooded section of the State which I have visited, and are fre- 
quently found about the elms and other shade trees of the city 
and farm houses. They mostly leave us in September, although 
a few individuals remain still later. 

Mr. Washburn found it in AiJgust, and early in September, 
in the Red river valley — "the most abundant of its family." 

Every correspondent of mine has reported its presence in 
timbered sections. 



364 NOTES ON THE 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Second and third quills about equal and longest; first a little 
shorter than fourth, but considerably longer than fifth; back, 
rump, edges of wing and tail feathers, bright olivaceous green: 
side of head and neck paler; crown dark ash sharply defined; a 
well defined whitish line from the bill, over the eye nearly to the 
occiput; a dark line separating it above, from the ashy crown; 
a dusky line through the eye; beneath white; under tail coverts 
pale sulphur-yellow; iris red. 

Length, 6.50; wing, 3.50; tail, 2. 

Habitat, eastern North America. 

VIREO PHILADELPHICUS (Cassin). (626) 

PHILADELPHIA VIREO. 

I had observed the vireos in this section for many years be- 
fore I had the opportunity to see this one, when on the 18th of 
May, 1876, Mr. T. S. Roberts obtained one in the immediate 
vicinity of the city, to which he called my attention. It was 
an excellent sjDecimen of the male in good plumage. Since 
then many have been collected not only in this immediate vi- 
cinity, but most parts of the State; observed in the season of 
migration from Fillmore county, where Dr. Hvoslef obtained it, 
to Clay county, on the Red river, where Mr. Lewis found it 
common, but obtained no nests. That it breeds throughout 
the State I have little doubt, especially along the Red river 
where it has been most commonly met, It retires from the 
State early in September. 

Its general habits are so much like V. gilvus that it is next 
to impossible to distinguish them by their appearance until in 
the hand, but when their note is heard the identity is no longer 
doubtful. Its song has been represented to greatly resemble 
that of V. olivaceus and I may have heard it when I attributed 
it to that bird, but if the latter is singing at the same time, 
there is no difficulty in distinguishing this one. 

specific CHARACTERS. 

Without any spurious primary; second and third quills 
longest; fourth a little shorter; first about .20 of an inch 
shorter than second, and about equal to fifth. Above dark 
olive-green, slightly inclining to ashy on the crown; beneath 
pale sulphur-yellow, brightest on the throat and breast. A 
white line from the bill over the eye, and an obscure white spot 
below it. A dusky line through and behind the eye from the 
commissure. 

Length, 5 inches; wing, 2.75; tail, 2.10; tarsus, .65. 

Habitat, eastern North America to Hudson's Bay; south in 
winter to Costa Rica. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 365 

TIREO GILYUS (Vieillot). (627.) 
WARBLING VIREO. 

Excepting the Red-eyed, this is the most abundantly repre- 
sented species of the genus. It arrives about the 10th of May. 
remaining until late in September, and occasionally October. 

Its habits in common with the others of its genus, are such 
that its presence might escape the attention of the casual ob- 
server but for its beautiful warblings which there is no mistak- 
ing for any other. It is emphatically the domestic representa- 
tive of the vireos, notably preferring the poplars in which to 
build its nest, and rear its young. Rather than occupy the 
other common trees in the vicinity of dwellings, it will go to 
the small groves and borders of the forest, but is almost never 
found in the denser timber. It is not a whit behind the Red- 
eyed Vireo as an insecticide, leaving nothing of the kind living 
on the trees it specially inhabits and few anywhere very 
near. 

Its song is liquid, fluent, exhilarating, undulating, smooth 
and melodious as a flute, and remarkably prolonged for a bird 
of its size and genus. The nearest approximation to any de- 
scription which I can conceive of is a fairly strong, sweet trill, 
modulated into symmetrical undulations, with just interruptions 
enough to keep the vocal cords always up to their best. It 
sings while skipping from twig to twig amongst the topmost 
branches of the tree in which its form remains essentially in- 
visible while searching for its special food. The nest is sus- 
pended in a very delicate manner from small horizontal twigs 
where they unite with a larger perpendicular one, around which 
fibres of bark are wound with much skill to amply secure it. 
It consists of fine strips of bark and fibres of wood, dried grass, 
vegetable down, shreds of larval cocoons and fragments of 
wasp's nests, and is lined with fine bark. It is usually about 
two inches in depth, but occasionally much more shallow. The 
characteristics of the vireos are in nothing more marked than 
in the slim, white eggs sparingly spotted with reddish-black 
at the larger end. They are generally limited to five in num- 
ber, and are laid about the first week in June. The nest is 
placed usually well toward the top of the tree, however tall it 
may be. 

specific characters. 

Third, fourth and fifth quills nearly equal; second and sixth 
usually about equal, and about .25 of an inch shorter than the 
third; exposed portion of the spurious quill about one-fourth 



366 NOTES ON THE 

that of the third; above greenish-olive, the head and hind neck 
ashy, the back slightly tinged with the same; lores dusky, a 
white streak from the base of the upper mandible above, and a 
little behind the eye; beneath the eye whitish; sides of head 
pale yellowish-brown; beneath white, tinged with very pale 
yellow on the breast and sides; no light margins whatever on 
the outer webs of the wings or the tail; the spurious primary 
one-fourth the length of the second. 

Length, 5.50; wing, 3; tail, 1.80. 

Habitat, North America in general. 

TIREO FLAVIFRONS (Vieillot). (628.) 

YELLOW-THROATED VIREO. 

Somewhat rare, the Yellow-throated Vireo is still regularly 
a summer resident, breeding in its characteristic localities in 
the forests of the middle and southern sections, and without 
doubt as commonly in the northern. It arrives about May 
10th, and builds its nest about the 20th in forks of small 
branches some distance from the main trunk, and about twenty 
feet from the ground. This does not differ from that of the 
Red-eyed Vireo, being perhaps a little more artistic in its 
external finish, and employing a little more material. Of the 
general distribution of this species over the State I have been 
able to learn comparatively little. Dr. Hvoslef has identified 
him in Fillmore county; once as early as May 10th, and Mr. 
Lewis, in Hennepin, a little later, and a few have been 
obtained in the fall migration, early in September. 

No writer has ever given the male any flattering credit for 
his powers of song, indeed rather the opposite, but I must be 
permitted a different view of his vesper song at least. 

It was very near sunset, after a charming day, and I was 
about to leave the field and return home with my basket well 
filled with forms embracing several then new to me, when I 
caught the notes of a new songster, and paused in the growing 
shadows of the forest long enough to become enchanted by 
them. Was it the evening song of some familiar species I had 
failed to hear before, or had I been surprised by the revela- 
tions of a new candidate for my vote of admiration? He 
seemed entirely unconscious of my presence, indeed he was so 
far above me that I would scarcely expect him to be otherwise, 
and I therefore had all the opportunity I could desire to assure 
myself that he was unquestionably the source of the melody 
so new to me. My field glass enabled me to get an excellent 
view of him, and after giving him every moment I dared, lest 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 367 

he might escape me, I asked him in "collector's dialect" to 
come down, and he responded so quickly that his throat must 
have been full of notes on his coming. 

Any attempt to describe his song by letter, syllables or by 
words would be idle, but it was a most exquisite, clear, liquid 
utterance of a rather brief strain, often repeated, the very soul 
of bird-song. Little pellets of sound transformed into a 
mystery of song. In every instance in which I have heard it, 
I have more deeply regretted the impossibility of fixing it in 
expressible characters. It is eminently a bird of the forest, 
and so far as I have been able to ascertain, seldom if ever 
sings except quite early in the morning, or very near sunset 
at evening. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

No spurious quill; the first and fourth equal. From bill to 
middle of back, sides of head, neck and fore part of breast 
olive green; beneath from bill to middle of belly, with a ring 
around the eye, sulphur yellow, lores dusky; rest of under 
parts white; of upper ashy blue, tinged with green. Two 
white bands on the wing; tertiaries edged with white, other 
quills with greenish; outer tail feathers edged with yellowish 
white; the outer web of first feather entirely of this color, ex- 
cept near the end. 

Length, 6.00; wing, 3.20. 

Habitat, eastern United States, south in winter to Costa 
Rica. 

VIREO SOLITARIITS (Wilson). (629.) 

BLUE-HEADED VIREO. 

Some years the Solitary Vireo is quite common in migration, 
but there have been others when none were observed after the 
most careful scrutiny of its favorite migratory haunts. 

The first individual that ever fell under my notice was ob- 
tained by Mr. George McMullen of Minneapolis, on the 11th 
of May, 1876. Within five days following I met with many 
and secured several skins. They remained but a short time 
when they seemed to move further northward, yet I cannot 
help thinking a few remained in the forests near by, or did not 
go much farther northward to breed. I am led to this impres- 
sion by their conjugal manners while under my observation. 
They were far from shy or solitary in their habits, indeed were 
exceptionally tame and unsuspicious. I have found them 
usually in the tamarack groves near the streams or lakes, 
and actively engaged in feeding. I know nothing of their 



368 NOTES ON THE 

distinctive habits in their summer abiding places. They are 
said to be exceedingly solitary and retiring, building an 
elegant, pensile nest hung about seven feet from the ground. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Spurious primary very small, not one-fourth the second, 
which is longer than the sixth. Top and sides of the head and 
upper part of the neck dark bluish ash; rest of upper parts 
clear olive green. A white ring around the eye, interrupted 
in the interior canthus by a dusky lore, but the white color 
extending above this spot to the base of the bill. Under parts 
white, the sides under the wings greenish yellow. Two bands 
on the wing coverts, with the edges of the secondaries, green 
ish white. Outer tail feather with its edge all round, including 
the whole outer web, whitish. 

Length, 5.50; wing, 2.40. 

Habitat, eastern United States to the Plains. In winter, 
south to Mexico and Guatemala. 

VIREO NOVEBORACENSIS (Gmelin). (631.) 
WHITE-EYED VIREO. 

Not an abundant species, arrives about the 25th of April 
and remains until about the first of October. It is not often 
seen, and only in low brush, along the borders of swamps, 
where it builds its nest in June, of much the same material as 
the other Vireos employ, hung by the edge to the forks of the 
limb of a bush not far above the ground. The eggs are indis- 
tinguishable from those of the Red-eyed Vireo, and are four or 
five in number. The note has been fairly spelled into "-chip 
che'weeo, chip, chip, che'weeo''' so far as my own observation has 
extended, but others have given startling descriptions of its 
powers of song in other provinces which I have utterly failed 
to obtain in this. Mr. Burroughs endows him with habits of 
imitation only second to the Mocking Bird, and a "rari avis" 
indeed on general considerations. It certainly has not been 
my fortune to witness such exhibitions of his "unique tones." 
While rejecting the more enthusiastic claims for the melody of 
its song, Langille is quite as emphatic over the variety and 
says in his "Birds in their Haunts," pp. 254-56: "feutin July or 
August if you are on good terms with the sylvan deities, you may 
listen to a far more rare and artistic performance. Your first im- 
pression will be that that cluster of azaleas, or that clump of 
swamp huckleberry, conceals three or four different songsters, 
each vying with the others to lead the chorus. Such a medley of 
notes, snatched from half the songsters of the field and forest, 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 369 

and uttered with the utmost clearness and rapidity, I am sure 
you cannot hear short of the haunts of the genuine Mocking 
Bird. If not fully and accurately represented, there are at 
least suggested the notes of the Robin, Wren, Catbird, High- 
hole, Goldfinch and Song-sparrow." 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Spurious primary about half the second, which is about 
equal to the eighth quill. Entire upper parts bright olivaceous- 
green; space around the eyes and extending to the bill, green- 
ish-yellow, interrupted by a dusky spot from the anterior 
can thus to the base of the gape; beneath white; sides of breast 
and body well defined almost gamboge yellow; edges of greater 
and middle wing coverts (forming two bands) and of inner 
tertiaries, greenish-yellow-white; iris white 

Length, 5; wing, 2.50. 

Habitat, eastern United States, west of the Rocky mountains. 

VIREO BELLII (Audubon). (633.) 
BELL'S VIREO, 

I cannot quite understand how a bird which has been fairly 
common for many years now, could have escaped my collecting 
basket so effectually for nearly ten years after I became a resi- 
dent here, yet so it did; but I have in late years found them 
relatively common during the seasons when the other members 
of the genus were. They arrive about the 10th of May, and 
build their nests from the 25th to the 30th of that month in low 
bushes in the woodlands. The vicinities of our beautiful, syl- 
van lakes are favorite breeding localities. The nest is much 
like that of the other vireos, pensile and extremely well built, 
of strips of bark by which it is secured in the forks of a hori- 
zontal limb, and further composed of caterpillars' silk, wasps' 
nests, spiders' nests, with bits of bark from milkweeds, &c. , &c. 
The structure is basket-form, very firmly woven, embracing in 
its materials, bits of almost any pliable substances, and is lined 
with grass, fine strips of grape vine, and bits of leaves. White 
birch, which abounds about our lakes, is very often prominent. 
The eggs are pure white, slightly spotted with specks of brown- 
ish-black, mostly at the larger end, and four in number. No 
bird of song is habitually more hidden in its habits of conceal- 
ment amongst low brush. 

The song is not obtrusive like the Red-eyed, but is sweet and 
very plaintive while far from languid in the earnestness of its 
delivery. They are not an overly shy bird by any means, for 



370 NOTES ON THE 

I have known them to rear their brood within twenty yards of 
a lake cottage and within a yard of a c ommon pathway. The 
early frosts hasten them away from our latitudes so unostenta- 
tiously, that no one can tell just when they go. Mr. Chas. R. 
Keyes and H. B. Williams, M. D., of Davenport. Iowa, report 
this species common in that state. (Annotated Catalogue of 
the Birds of Iowa, p. 39. ) 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Olive-green above, tinged with ashy on the top and sides of 
the head; a short line from the bill over the eye, and the region 
around the lower eyelid, white; lores dusky; beneath yellowish- 
white; sides of the body posteriorly, sulphur-yellow; two faint 
bars of whitish across the wing coverts; inner tertiaries edged 
broadly with whitish; third quill longest, the rest successively 
shorter except the second, which is a little shorter than the 
seventh; spurious primary about two-tifths the second, and 
more than one-third of the third. 

Length, 4.25; wing, 2.25. 

Habitat, middle United States. 

Family MKIOTILTID^. 

MNIOTILTA VARIA (L.). (636.) 
BLACK AND WHITE WARBLER. 

The Black and White Warbler, or Creeper, as it has been so 
long called, is an abundant species in migration, and is fairly 
common in nidification in restricted localities. It reaches the 
extreme southern limits of the State, in the last days of April* 
and this locality by the 3d to the 5th of May. A large island 
in the Mississippi, in the centre of our city, has long been a 
favorite resort of birds in migration, and specially so of this 
beautiful species, which may be seen at such times as common 
as Woodpeckers. After ten to twelve days, they move on 
northward, but not without leaving at least a representation 
behind, for they have not only been seen occasionally during 
the summer, but the nest has been found. I have little doubt 
that it will be found to be fairly common in its favorite haunts 
during the breeding season when requisite observations have 
been employed long enough to ascertain with certainty. Its 
proclivities for the dark forests and shady ravines, and to 
spend its time principally near the ground, renders its detec- 
tion somewhat difficult to the hasty investigator, who will 
scarcely be able to decide just where to look for its nest, as 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 371 

descriptions vary extremely from on the ground near the root 
of a decaying tree to a hole in a tree, or a niche in projecting 
rocks, the drain of a house, and elevated all the way from the 
first mentioned position, to several feet from the ground. Its 
composition certainly does not vary so remarkably, for all 
reports corroborate my own observation that it is formed of 
coarse fibres of different barks and leaves, with grasses. My 
specimen embraces little or no grass, but a few bits of thread 
or strings. The note of this Warbler is very pleasing 
although humble, and may be described as somewhat resembl- 
ing the formulation — 'pits-ee, pUs-ee, pite-ee, pits ee, rather mo- 
notonously repeated, with brief interruptions while flitting from 
the trunk or lower limbs of one tree to the roots of another. 

They commence to build about the 15th of May, as indicated 
by the nest obtained on the island alluded to, as observations 
were maintained from the first, and bring out their brood in 13 
days after the female takes finally to her nest. The eggs were 
four in number, and of a creamy white, speckled irregularly 
with fine dots of reddish-brown, thickest near the larger end. 

They breed extensively in the forests bordering the northern 
lakes, as Mr. Lewis and others have found. In common with 
its family, it migrates southward very soon after the earlier 
frosts. Breeds at Vermilion lake, St. Louis county. (Mr. U. 
S. Grant's Report.) 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill with the upper mandible considerably decurved; the 
lower one straight, general color of the male black, the feathers 
broadly edged with white; the head all round black, with a 
median stripe in the crown and neck above, a superciliary and 
maxillary stripe of white. Middle of belly, two conspicuous 
bands on the wings, outer edges of tertials, and inner of all the 
wing and tail feathers, and a spot on the inner webs of the 
outer two tail feathers, white. Rump and upper tail coverts 
black, edged externally with white. 

Length, 5; wing, 2.85; tail, 2.25. 

Habitat, eastern United States to the Plains, 

HELMINTHOPHILA PINUS (L.). (641.) 
BLUE-WINGED WARBLER. 
What this little warbler has denied it in the force, and 
melody of its song, is made up to it in the beauty of its colors. 
It is a thing of beauty and therefore "a joy forever." The 
eye that having seen it in its freshness of vernal plumage, 
does not feel a thrill of joy at its return after the long months 



372 NOTES ON THE 

of a northern winter have passed away, and permitted the 
great bird-wave to roll over the resurrected land once more, 
has no right to see, nor the soul to feel the joy of a thing of 
beauty. 

Notwithstanding this bird has been considered too southern 
for the latitude, it is annually a Minnesota visitor, coming in 
sufficient numbers to assure us that it has by no means reached 
the most northern limits of its migration. About the 10th or 
12th of May, it comes with the great bird-throng of the spring, 
and remains in sufficient numbers for about ten days to make 
the collection of several for the cabinet in the course of half a 
day's hunt, a pretty sure thing to the experienced collector. 

Although no nests have come under my own eye, nor have 
any been reported to me as yet, I confidently believe it breeds 
throughout the State as well as in the British possessions. 
One individual was obtained about the 3d of September, in its 
southern migration, and in mature plumage. Since writing 
the above Mr. Treganowan writes: "I have the nest and eggs 
of the Blue- winged Warbler, obtained May 22nd, (1877) in Big 
Stone. It was on the ground in a cluster of hazel brush, in the 
borders of a grove of forest trees. The locality was near a 
dwelling, and the nest consisted of strips of bark from dead 
poplars, and was lined with fine grasses quite artistically ad- 
justed and interwoven. There were five white eggs spattered 
with dirty brown, darker colored and more numerous at the 
larger end." 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper parts and cheeks olive- green, brightest on the rump; 
wings, tail and upper coverts in part, bluish-gray; an intensly 
black patch from the blue-black bill to the eye, continued a 
short distance behind it; crown, except behind, and the under 
parts generally rich orange-yellow. Wing with two white bands; 
two outer tail feathers, with most of the inner web, and third 
one with a spot at the end, white. 

.Length, 4.50; wing, 2.40; tail, 2,10. 

Habitate, eastern United States. 

HELMINTHOPHILA CHRYSOPTERA (L.). (642.) 

GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER. 

So far as I have been able to ascertain, this Warbler is not 
by any means common. Indeed I had lived here seventeen 
years before I saw one, and that was collected by Mr. T. S. 
Roberts of this city. Since then few springs have come and gone 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 873 

without my meeting a few. If any breed here, I have failed to 
learn the fact. Rumor amongst amateur ornithologists claims 
that it has been seen in its autumnal migrations; but with warb- 
lers on the wing in fall plumage, seeing is not always sufflcient 
reason for believing. This very pretty species, is seen asso- 
ciated with other warblers about the 10th of May. It has 
been obtained late in August on its southern migration. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper parts uniform bluish-gray; head above and a large 
patcli on the wings, yellow; a broad streak from the bill 
through and behind the eye, with the chin, throat, and fore 
part of breast, black; the external edge of the yellow crown 
continuous with a broad patch on the side of the occiput above 
the auriculars, a broad maxillary stripe widening on the side 
of the neck, the under parts generally, with most of the inner 
webs of the outer three tail feathers, white; sides of body pale 
ash color. 

Length, 5; wing, 2.65; tail. 2.25. 

Habitat, eastern United States. 

HELMINTHOPHILA KI FK^APILLA (Wilson). (645.) 
NASHVILLE WARBLER. 

The Nashville Warbler is abundant in the spring migrations 
from about the 8th to the 15th of May, after which very few 
are seen until perhaps the 10th to the 15th of September, when 
although less numerous, they may be said to be fairly common 
for the season. A remarkable fact concerning this species, which 
is also true of several others of its family, is that their num- 
bers have steadily increased from year to year for at least two 
decades. In the case of those birds whose habits associate 
them with agriculture, a reason for their increase is at once 
suggested in the development of the country, but that would 
scarcely be applicable for the wood-warblers. This species 
undoubtedly breeds here, as it is known to do so in the im- 
mediate vicinity south of us, and in the section of the Kandi- 
yohi lakes, it is met with so frequently during the summer as 
to leave no question of its breeding there at least. A single 
nest containing four white eggs was found by a little boy on 
the ground, constructed mostly of dried grass, fine roots, and 
lined with the finest bits of the same, to which were added a 
few pine needles and a few horse hairs The outside was over 
laid with green moss, and the whole well concealed in a bunch 
of brush. The eggs were spattered over with reddish- brown, 
which formed a sort of ring around the larger end by their 
multiplication there. 



374 NOTES ON THE 

I have never heard its notes under circumstances possible to 
approximate it in a formula of syllables, but a gentleman per- 
fectly competent to do so informs me that he cannot distinguish 
the opening notes from these of a Black and White Warbler, but 
it soon changes into one that suggests the syllables chip-ee, 
ehip-ee, chip-ee, and kit-see, kit-see, kit-see, with the accent on the 
last syllable, which is somewhat prolonged. I trust we shall 
know more of the local history of this bird in the near future, 
as the number of observers are increasing very rapidly. 

Dr. Hvoslef met with them as early as April 29th in 1881, 
and May 2d 1884. Mr. Washburn reports them common in the 
Red river valley, in August 1885. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head and neck above, and on the sides, ashy-gray; the crown 
with a patch of concealed dark brownish-orange, hidden by 
ashy tips to the feathers; upper parts olive-green, brightest on 
the rump; under parts generally, and the edges of the wing, 
deep yellow; the anal region paler; sides tinged with olive; a 
broad yellowish- white ring round the eye; lores yellowish; no 
superciliary stripe; inner edges of the tail feathers margined 
with dull white. 

Length, 4.65; wing, 2.40; tail, 2.05. 

Habitat, eastern North America to the Plains. 

HELMINTHOPHILA CELATA (Say). (646.) 
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER. 

This beautiful member of the Warbler family, arrives in the 
regions where it comes under my personal observation annually 
about the 5th of May. Its song is exceedingly delightful, 
being for its race copious, varied, pianoforte, and considerably 
prolonged. I can never forget the first time I heard it sing 
from the topmost branch of one of the loftiest elms of the 
dense, dark, deciduous forest on the quiet banks of Lake Har- 
riet, now included within the ambitious limits of the corpora 
tion of Minneapolis. The sun of a cloudless day in early May 
was within an hour of its setting, when the song suddenly 
burst forth in a strain of melody that floated down through 
the leafy canopy upon the ear, like distillations of fragrance 
upon the sense of smell. Intoxication only expresses the effect 
upon the ear, "till pleasure, turning to pain" under the over- 
whelming conviction that terrible as the sacrifice to sentiment 
and song must inevitably be, the author of such celestial 
melody must die in the interests of science. And in a great 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 375 

deal less time than it takes to write one of these lines, the 
beautiful, delightful warble lay at my feet. I hear that it has 
been seen late in August by those who sought to know the bird 
thoroughly. Mr. Grant did not meet with it at Vermilion lake, 
but Mr. Lewis did, under circumstances which justify the pre- 
sumption that it breeds there in company with so many of the 
warblers. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Above olive green, rather brighter on the rump; beneath 
entirely greenish yellow, except a little whitish about the vent; 
the sides tinged with olivaceous; a concealed patch of brown- 
ish-orange on the crown, hidden by the olivaceous tips to the 
feathers; eyelids and an obscure superciliary line, yellowish^ 
and a dusky, obscure streak, through the eye. 

Length, 4.70; wing, 2.25; tail, 2. 

Habitat, eastern North America. 

HELHINTHOPHILA PEREGIRINA (Wilson). (647.) 
TENNESSEE WARBLER. 

Abundant in the season of its migration, the Tennessee 
Warbler is a fairly represented summer resident, arriving 
from the 5th to the 10th of May, and remaining until about the 
second week in September. They build their nests in, or in 
the vicinity of forests, on the ground, well concealed by brush 
and dead leaves. It is composed entirely of fibrous strips of 
bark outwardly, and of fine grasses interiorly. Five eggs, 
more or less speckled with brown, especially about the larger 
end, were found in a nest at Lake Minnetonka, June 5th, 1881. 
They are a very nervous, active and energetic species, exceed- 
ingly difficult to follow with the best eyes or a field-glass, flit- 
ting constantly to and fro through the boughs in searching for 
their food, keeping up a short chirp. 

This has been accounted a somewhat northerly species, and 
not without reason on account of the disproportionate number 
seen during their migration, but I am satisfied it should not be 
specialized as such. In the fall, and after the earlier frosts, it 
is not a very uncommon thing to meet scattering parties of 
them mingled with other species, making their way towards 
the south. It is not abundant for its species, except during 
migration when few other of the warblers are more so. At 
St. Vincent, Mr. Washburn recorded it in the latter part of 
July, 1885, as very frequently seen "in scrub willows and trees 
bordering the Red river.'" I get similar records from different 

25 z 



376 NOTES ON THE 

representative sections of the province of my survey. I have 
personally met the bird but once during the summer months, 
but that they breed within our borders extensively there can 
be no doubt. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Top and sides of head and neck ash gray; rest of upper parts 
olive green, brightest on the rump; beneath dull white, faintly 
tinged in places, especially on the sides with yellowish olive; 
eyelids and a stripe over the eye, whitish; a dusky line from 
the eye to the bill; outer tail feathers with a white spot along 
the inner edge near the tip. 

Length, 4.60; wing, 2.75; tail, 1.85. 

Habitat, eastern North America. 

COMPSOTHLYPIS AMERICANA (L. ). (648.) 
PARULA WARBLER. 
This is a somewhat common summer resident, but so small 
and unobtrusive that it eluded my notice for many years after 
I became a resident of the state except in the season of migra- 
tion, when a victim found its way into my collecting basket 
very frequently. It arrives about the 10th of May in this lati- 
tude, and builds its nest in the last days of that month. This 
consists of a common form of lichen ingeniously woven into a 
sort of ball, with the entrance generally on one side, but some- 
times in the top. It is usually on the limbs of maples or iron- 
woods about twenty to thirty feet from the ground, and contains 
four white eggs, speckled with reddish-brown, especially around 
the larger end. Notably this bird mostly avoids dampi dark, 
swampy localities, and is found on high, dry, and even hilly 
places in the forest. The song is humble, but finds a most 
welcome place in the choristry of the woodlands. In the heat 
of the day, at a time when a majority of the songsters have 
ceased to sing, this humblest and smallest of all, begins with 
its low, feeble note, which resembles, cheiveech, cheiveech, cheweech, 
cheweech, repeating it several times with increasing force and 
volume till it suddenly ceases, to be repeated presently again 
in the same manner. As above suggested, the breeding habits 
of this bird are easily overlooked, and, as a consequence, few 
of those who have been collecting observations which are of 
value to the survey, have been able to give any valuable addi- 
tions to my knowledge of the local habits of this warbler. By 
the 10th, and often the 5th, of September they have turned 
their beautiful little blue and yellow backs upon oar latitudes 
for the sunnier South. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 377 

I am credibly informed that the bird has been found nesting 
in St. Louis county, a sta.tement I am ready to believe from my 
own knowledge of the habits of the species. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTliRS. 

Above blue, the middle of the back with a patch of yellowish 
green; beneath yellow anteriorly, white behind; a reddish 
brown tinge across the breast; lores and space around the eye 
dusky; a small white spot on either eyelid; sides of head and 
neck like the crown; two conspicuous white bands on the wings; 
outer two tail feathers with a conspicuous spot of white. 

Length, 4.75; wing, 2.35; tail, 1.90. 

Habitat, eastern United States, west to the Plains. 

DENDROICA TIGRINI (Gmelin). (650.) 

CAPE MAY WARBLER. 

This is another species of warbler that is occasionally seen 
in its antumnal migration, and is quite common for a short 
time, beginning about the 10th of May and sometimes nearly a 
week earlier. With so many observations of its migrating 
habits in this longitude, it is a matter of regret that my notes 
include no discoveries of its nest up to the present time. 

It was somewhat singular that it should have escaped my 
notice so long as it did, and subsequently have been met with 
so many times, but such has been the case with many other 
species. It was first obtained in this locality — Minneapolis — 
on the 15th of May, 1875, by T. S. Roberts, and in the follow- 
ing year, May 11th, by several collectors. Correspondents 
from widely severed portions of the State have reported the 
Cape May Warbler in spring migrations. I have never obtained 
the nest, but have found this warbler considerably further 
south than Minneapolis during the month of June, and it has 
been reported nearly as late in the spring at Lanesboro, thus 
rendering it assured that they breed with us, notwithstanding 
the fact that no nests have been discovered. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill very acute, conical and decidedly curved; bill and feet 
black, upper part of head dull black, some of the feathers 
faintly margined with light yellowish brown; collar scarcely 
meeting behind; rump and under parts generally rich yellow; 
throat, fore part of breast and sides streaked with black; 
abdomen and lower tail coverts pale yellow, brighter about the 
vent; ear coverts light reddish chestnut; back part of a yellow 
line from nostrils over the eye, of this same color; chin and 
throat also tinged with it; a black line from commissure through 



378 NOTES ON THE 

the eye and running into the chestnui of the ear coverts; back, 
shoulder, edges of the wing and tail yellowish olive, the 
former spotted with dusky; one row of small coverts and outer 
bases of the secondary coverts form a large patch of white 
tinged with pale yellow; tertials rather broadly edged with 
brownish white; quills and tail dark brown, the three outer 
feathers of the latter largely marked with white on the inner 
web; edge of the outer web of the outer feathers white, more 
perceptible towards the base. 

Length, 5.25; wing, 2.85; tail, 2.15. 

Habitat, eastern North America, north to Hudson Bay, west 
to the Plains. 

DENBROICA JISTIVA (Gmelin). (652.) 

YELLOW WARBLER. 

Not for its beautiful colors, for they are certainly unonsten- 
tatious; not for its melodies, for they are not conspicuous in 
the grand choristry of bird song; nor for its rariety, for its 
numbers exceed any other species of the warblers, but after 
the combination of all expressible reasons comes the inexpres- 
sible one of its remarkable, inseparable association with the 
return of full grown, voluptuous spring and summer embraced 
in one living, throbbing resurrection. Until the unsympathetic, 
desouled systematologists robbed it of its rightful heritage, it 
bore the appropriate and expressive name Summer Warbler. 
With this name were inseparably associated the fra- 
grance of flowers, the earlier butterflies, the new born ver- 
dure of forest and field, "the smiles and frowns of April show- 
ers," with all their golden memories of childhood, youth, and 
riper, rounder years. Yellow Warbler? How little it means. 
Where is the ring of spring in it? It has nothing sweet nor 
green in all of its ripened October sought significance. 

Late in April this warbler comes amongst us as unheralded 
as the gentle shower that patters on the roof at daybreak. By 
the 12th to the 15th of May, they construct one of the most 
artistic, and substantial nests known as belonging to the war- 
blers. It is either placed in the forks of a bush, or so as to 
embrace several small branches, about four or five feet above 
the ground, and consists of bark from weeds, strips of the liber 
of grapevines, with which the woods abound, into which are 
ingeniously woven various materials, the special character of 
which is determined by the immediate surroundings of the lo- 
cality, embracing bits of wool, down from dead wood and 
weedstalks, dry grass, and the long hairs from horses and cat- 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 379 

tie from the pastures. The walls are exceedingly thick, being 
bound firmly together with fine roots, dry grass, into which are 
woven the catkins of different willow kinds of timber, and is 
delicately lined with down of various kinds of vegetation. The 
location may be in the garden, field, swamp, lawn, forest, or 
orchard. 

The eggs are greenish white, heavily spotted with brown 
and lilac that occasionally spreads into splotches. The young 
are often out of the nest by the twenty-fifth of June. I have 
not yet decided that they do not rear the second brood occas- 
ionally. They are common victims of the Cowbird's audacious 
occupation of their nests with its own larger eggs, over which 
the Yellow Warbler will sometimes build another, and second 
story nest. 

The distribution of this species in the State, is almost univer- 
sal, except on the marshes and open prairies. Mr. Grant does 
not list them for the three counties in which his observations 
were made, but directly west of them in Cass, Becker and Clay 
counties they are registered as common. A few only remain 
later than early September, but isolated instances have occur- 
red when they have lingered into October. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill, lead color; head, all around and under parts generally, 
bright yellow; rest of upper parts yellow olivaceous, brightest 
on the rump; back, with obsolete streaks of dusky reddish 
brown; fore breast and sides of body streaked with brownish 
red; tail feathers bright yellow; outer webs and tips, with the 
whole upper surfaces of the innermost one, brown; extreme 
outer edges of wing and tail feathers olivaceous like the back; 
the middle and greater coverts and tertials, edged witn yellow, 
forming two bands on the wings. 

Length, 5.25; wing, 2.65; tail, 2.25, 

Habitat, North America at large. 

DENDROICA C^RFLESCENS (Gmelin. ) (654.) 

BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER. 

On the 10th, 11th, or 12th of May, there comes a sort of 
Wood-warbler wave, like an unseen tide setting in from the 
sun, and not the invisible moon. It seems as if every branch 
of lofty tree or brush, or shrub, was tremulous with Sittings of 
song-bird life half suppressed, half revealed, moving leisurely 
toward the waiting northland. One catches a glimpse of some 
ravishing form of varied colors to be instantly changed for an- 



380 NOTES ON THE 

other, till the individual is lost in the maze of ceaseless change. 
He must clothe his heart in armor of remorseless steel, and 
listening to no siren song of sentiment, see only forms, and 
hear only the rapidly repeated roar of his own artillery until 
his receptacle is filled with bloody sacrifices to the altar of sci- 
ence, or the golden opportunities are gone for a whole year at 
least. Amid the trophies of his unwelcome victories, that em- 
brace seven- tenths of all the warblers, appears the beautiful 
form and colors of the Black-throated Blue Warbler. If in his 
zeal he has ceased his warfare for a moment's rest, while in the 
field, he may have heard some preoccupied insect rubbing his 
chitinous wings against his harder legs in insect melody, with- 
out suspecting the author was a warbler of such proportions, 
yet it was this same, and no other. Although but few have 
been seen after the month of May has passed, enough have 
been brought to basket to make it presumably certain that the 
Black- throated Blue Warbler breeds in Minnesota, notwith- 
standing no nests have been secured. Its habits lead it to the 
uplands of the forests, where it may be seen energetically flit- 
ting from the very tip of one lofty tree to that of another close 
at hand, occasionally dashing out after an insect on the wing, 
after the manner of the fly-catchers, or descending quietly to 
the lower portions of the trunk, industriously scanning every 
crack and crevice in the bark in search of larvae and wingless 
forms. Careful observations along the borders of forests in 
early September will usually be rewarded by the sight of this 
beautiful bird, in somewhat more sombre plumage. It is on its 
way to the land where the frosts do not deprive it of its indis- 
pensable supplies of insect food during our prolonged and 
rigorous winter. Mr. Lewis found it fairly common at the 
Vermilion lakes in June, but discovered no nests, as his stay 
afforded little opportunity to search for them. From several 
descriptions of the nests and eggs as found in other localities, 
it seems that for the most part the location chosen is quite 
variable, some being ' 'on the horizontal branch of a fir tree^ 
seven or eight feet from the ground," and others "about five 
inches." Eggs four, white and spotted with brown. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Above uniform continuous grayish-blue, including the outer 
edges of the quill and tail feathers; a narrow frontal line, en- 
tire sides of head and neck, chin and throat, lustrous black, 
which color extends in a broad lateral stripe to the tail; rest of 
under parts including the axillary region white; wings and 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 381 

tail black above, the former with a conspicuous white patch 
formed by the bases of all the primaries except the first; inner 
webs of the secondaries and tertials with similar patches to 
wards the base, and along the inner margin; all the tail feath- 
ers except the innermost, with a white patch on the inner web 
near the end 

Length, 5.50; wing, 2.60; tail, 2.25. 

Habitat, eastern North America to the Plains. 

DENDROICA CORONATA (L.). (655.) 

MYRTLE WARBLER. 

During their migrations, either in spring or autumn, this is 
by far the most numerous species of its family, arriving in the 
southern sections of the State as early as the 5th of April, and 
reaching Minneapolis and vicinity by the 15th. At first seen 
often only in comparatively small parties, they soon increase 
until they seem to be in loose hordes, in search of insects of 
all kinds found on the trees, or in the air, for no genuine fly- 
catcher can exceed them in taking insects on the wing. 

Their movements are more dignified than those of the other 
warblers, exhibiting little of the nervous manners character- 
istic of the family, while tireless in their industry. They pass 
us entirely by the middle of May, breeding still further to the 
north. 

Mr. Washburn found the young birds at Thief river, one of 
the tributaries of Red Lake river in Polk county, in August, 
and Mr. Lewis reports the youns: common in Itasca and St. 
Louis counties earlier in the season, from which there can be 
no further doubt of its local nidification. The autumnal migra- 
tion has fairly begun fron' the 15th to the 20th of September, 
but it is not terminated until the first of November. Their 
lines of movement, both before and after their breeding, are 
somewhat restricted, and follow the course of the larger 
streams and lakes bordered with timber. In the springs of my 
earliest residence here, I was somewhat of a duck hunter, and 
visited the principal localities in the vicinity of my residence 
very frequently, where such game abounded. I think I met 
with the present species several years the very day they first 
came, and one of these was on the 31st of March, and another 
the 2d day of April. On these occasions I was very much in- 
terested to observe their feeding. They were not at all shy, 
but would prosecute their explorations of every limb, branch, 
twig, and dead leaf of the very tree under and behind which I 



382 NOTES ON THE 

was watching the movements of the ducks, thus affording me 
the amplest opportunities for seeing them, some of them coming 
within a yard of me at such times. Some of these flocks would 
amount to more than two hundred, and the least one I ever un 
dertook to estimate, was somewhat more than twenty. The 
quantities of minute insects and larvae destroyed by this 
species alone, must be something simply marvelous. Any 
winged forms at this early season could scarcely escape them, 
for while not so nervously active as some of the later warblers, 
they were unerring in their fly-catcher-like seizure of them in 
the air. Their movements whether climbing about for larvae 
and insects, or flitting out after a winged form, are easy, grace- 
ful, and always restful to witness, which is more than can be 
said of most other warblers and fly-catchers. 

Note. Since the most of the foregoing was written I have 
found some nests of the Myrtle Warblers in the northern and 
northwestern sections of the State, and more of the young, in 
early August, leaving the question of their breeding within the 
limits of the area of my inquiries at rest in my own mind. The 
nest is in a small tree or large bush, about six or seven feet 
from the ground, and the structure consists of fine roots, 
grasses, stalks of weeds, and the fibrous bark of different kinds 
of woods and coarse weeds, and is lined very neatly with fine 
roots, hair and feathers. It is not quite as bulky as the nests 
of some other warblers, but is very firm and well built. The 
eggs are four in number, ashy white, dotted all over with two 
shades of brown, darkest about the larger end. I cannot think 
they bring out a second brood. The young of this species were 
found by Mr. Washburn at the Thief river in August. 

SPECIFIC characters. 

Above, blueish ash, streaked with black; under parts white; 
forepart of breast and sides black, the feathers mostly edged 
with white; crown, rump and sides of breast yellow; cheeks 
and lores black; eyelids and a superciliary stripe, two bands 
on the wing, and spots on the outer three tail feathers, white. 

Length, 5.65; wing, 3; tail, 2.50. 

Habitat, eastern North America. 

DENDROICA MACULOSA (Gmelin). (657.) 

MAGNOLIA WARBLER. 

It has always been difficult to explain the circumstance of my 
obtaining this species in 1869, on the 27th day of April, the 
habit of the species being almost unexceptionally rather on the 
other extreme of arrivals. It varies also extremely in the 
numerical character of its migrations, some years being very 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 383 

common, while in others it is very rare. I have no positive 
assurance that it breeds within the State, yet from what I 
know of the history of this bird, I cannot divest myself of the 
expectation that before very long we shall find the nests. It 
is occasionally seen in the last days of August or the first days 
of September, associated with other species, apparently on its 
way southward, from which I conclude the breeding localities 
are not for removed. It has long been observed that the notes 
of this species very strongly resemble those of the Chestnut- 
sided Warbler {D. pensylvanica (Linn.).) and my own observa- 
tion accords with it, for I am not entirely sure that I have ever 
been able to quite distinguish them, if I have really heard 
those of this finely plumaged species. While with us for 
about ten days (arriving commonly about the 10th or 12th of 
May) they are not very difficult to distinguish by their plum- 
age, and have received attention from many observers. Their 
habits of feeding are very much like those of creepers follow 
ing the trunks and lower branches of large trees to their 
extremeties in search of insects and larvae. They invariably 
visit Nicollet island, in the center of Minneapolis, in their 
migrations, and as they are not at all timid, I have had re- 
peated opportunities to observe them there for many years at 
such times. Remarkably gentle, and quietly pre-occupied, 
they take little notice of the presence of "interviewers," or 
the impertinence of the police of science or sentiment. Their 
busy satisfied manners, and soft utterances of their e-e-a-e-e-a, as 
they trace their sinuous way up the trunk and out along the 
sturdy limb, impress themselves indelibly upon the memory of 
anyone interested in the life-history of birds. Their nest and 
eggs have been best described by the great field ornithologist, 
Mj'. C. J. Maynard, as follows: "It was placed on the forked 
branch of a low spruce, about three feet from the ground on a 
rising piece of land, leading from a wood path. The nest, 
which contained four eggs, was constructed of dry grass, 
spruce twigs, roots, etc., and was lined with fine black roots, 
the whole being a coarse structure for so dainty looking a 
warbler. The eggs were more spherical than any other 
warbler's I have ever seen. The ground color is a cream 
white, blotched sparingly over with large spots of lilac and 
umber." 

Note. In one spring I recall the pleasure I had in frequent 
interviews enjoyed with Mrs. Sara A. Hubbard of Chicago, 
who was visiting her brother. Col. David Blaicely, then editor 



384 NOTES ON THE 

and proprietor of The Minneapolis Tribune, and residing on 
the Island, so that her opportunities were supreme for the 
observation of many species of the warblers at the full tide of 
their emigration, not a possible moment of which was neg- 
lected. This one in particular she watched for hours at a 
time, glass in 'hand, sitting in the shade of the magnificent 
maples, elms, and lofty oaks abounding there, and capturing 
alike every note and gesture for her record, which she kindly 
made as my own in our almost daily interviews about the 
teeming birds. Her ear for the characteristic notes of species, 
could never be excelled, and her powers of reproducing them 
by imitation were not a whit behind the other. I had long 
practiced writing them upon the musical staff, that I might to 
a small extent at least, recall them after the singer had gone, 
but when I listened to her, and realized my own deficiencies, I 
abandoned all such attempts at once. Since those days she 
has earned fame as a teacher of ornithology, having before 
been known in its literature as a writer on The Hummingbirds 
of the Americas. Why are there so few ladies of such culture 
interested in the systematic study of this fascinating science. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill dark bluish black, rather lighter beneath; tail dusky, 
top of head light grayish-blue; front, lore, cheek, and a stripe 
under the eye, black, running into a large triangular patch on 
the back, between the wings, which is also black; eyelids and 
a stripe from the eye along the head, white; upper tail coverts 
black, some of the feather's tipped with grayish; abdomen and 
lower tail coverts, white; rump and under parts, except as 
described, yellow; lower throat, breast, and sides streaked 
with black, the streaks closer on the lower throat and fore- 
breast; lesser wing coverts and edges of the wing and tail, 
bluish-gray, the former spotted with black; quills and tail 
almost black, the latter with a square patch of white on the 
inner of all the bands across the wings, ( sometimes coalesced 
into one) formed by the small coverts and secondaries; part of 
the edge of the inner webs of the quills white; feathers mar- 
gining the black patch on the back behind, and on the sides 
tinged with greenish; second and third quill longest, first 
shorter than fourth; tail rounded, emarginate. 

Length, 5; wing, 2.50; tail, 2.25. 

Habitat, eastern North America to the base of the Rocky 
mountains. 

DENDROICA CiERULEA (Wilson). (658.) 

CERULEAN WARBLER. 

On the 19th of May, 1869, I obtained this warbler amongst 

several others, since which time few seasons of their vernal 

migration have passed without seeing them in rather limited 

numbers. They come with the warbler wave from the 10th to 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 385 

the 12th of May, and remain, or rather the species remains 
represented, some twelve to fifteen days. In some respects it 
is the counterpart of the last species described, one of which 
is manifest in its habit of feeding almost exclusively in the 
tops of the trees. I might enumerate others, but Langille has 
described them so well that a quotation from his ' ' Birds in 
their Haunts," pages 25 and 26, serves me quite as well. He 
says: — "I have had every opportunity of observing its habits; 
and, as no writer has given it a full record, I bear it a special 
accountability. It is a bird of the woods, everywhere asso- 
ciated with the beautiful, tall forests of the northern counties 
of western New York, sometimes found in the open woods of 
pasture lands and quite partial to hardwood trees. In its 
flittering motion in search of insect prey, and in the jerking 
curves of its more prolonged flight, as also in structure, it is a 
genuine wood warbler, and keeps for the most part to what 
Thoreau calls 'the upper story' of its sylvan domain. Its 
song, which is frequent and can be heard some distance, may 
be imitated by the syllables rheet, rheet, rheet, rheet, ridi, idi-e-e- 
e-ee, beginning with several soft, warbling notes and ending in 
a rather prolonged but quite musical squeak. The latter 
and more rapid part of the strain, which is given in the 
upward slide, approaches an insect quality of tone, which is 
more or less common to all blue warblers. This song is so 
common here as to be a universal characteristic of our tall 
forests. The bird is shy when startled from its nest, and has 
the sharp, chirping alarm note of the family. The nest is 
saddled on a horizontal limb of considerable size, some dis- 
tance from the tree, and some forty or fifty feet from the 
ground. Small and very neatly and compactly built, some- 
what after the style of the redstart, it consists outwardly of 
fine, dried grasses, bits of. wasps' nest, gray lichen, and more 
especially of old and weathered wood fibers, making it look 
quite gray and waspy. 

"The lining is of fine, dried grasses, or of fine shreds of the 
wild grapevine, thus giving the inside a rich brown appear- 
ance in contrast with the gray exterior. The eggs, four or 
five, some .60 by .47, are grayish or greenish- white, pretty 
well spotted or specked, or even blotched, especially aoout the 
large end, with brown and deep lilac. They do not possess 
that delicate appearance common to the eggs of most of the 
warblers. " 



386 NOTES ON THE 



SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 



Above bright blue, darkest on the crown, tinged with ashy 
on the rump; middle of back, scapulars, upper tail coverts and 
sides of the crown streaked with black; beneath white, a 
collar across the breast and streaks on the sides, dusky -blue; 
lores and a line through and behind the eye, (where it is bor- 
dered above by whitish) dusky -blue; paler on the cheeks; two 
white bands on the wings; all the tail feathers except the 
innermost, with a white patch on the inner web near the end. 

Length, 4.25; wing, 2.65; tail, 1.90. 

Habitat, eastern United States and southern Canada west to 
the Plains. 

DENDROICA PENSYLYANICA (L.). (659.) 

CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER. 

In writing of the warblers there is a great deal of monotony 
of description, as there are so many species whose habits 
closely resemble each other, and in none more than the Chest- 
nut-sided, in its time of migration, notes, and even its nesting, 
but to the loving, attentive student of the birds each species 
comes to have a decided individuality, as dear to sentiment as 
valuable to science. 

With all that is common to the family this bird is sui generis 
"itself" and no other. The very type of sprightliness, joy and 
contentment, it floats along on the great bird-billow which 
reaches Minnesota in the second week of May, to be recognized 
instantly upon its arrival. Its favorite localities are thickets 
bordering rather scattering large trees, and not very far above 
the ground, where about the 25th of May it builds a nest con- 
sisting of strips of bark and rather fine grasses, which are 
woven into compact form with much architectural instinct, and 
overlaid externally with a sort of stucco with caterpillars' nest- 
silk and cobwebs, which give the structure considerable firm- 
ness. Deeply hollowed it is lined with fine strips of bark and 
horsehairs, and receives usually four creamy-white eggs, with 
confluent spots of brown about the larger end. But a single 
brood has been observed in a season. It is very generally dis- 
tributed over the State in localities favorable to its distinctive 
habits, and abundantly represented. I do not notice any 
special increase in their numbers after 30 years. 

Prof. C. L. Herrick, formerly much devoted to the local his- 
tory of the birds in different parts of the State, found it com- 
mon in the summer wherever he was. Kennicot found it at the 
Lake of the Woods, May 31st, and there can be no question of 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 387 

its breeding quite far to the north of the national line. Asso- 
ciated in families of two generations it is met with frequently 
in early autumn, but not often later than the 1st of October, 
indeed that is exceptionally late for them. 

Mr. Grant, who accompanied Professor Winchell to Ver- 
milion lake in St. Louis county, on his Geological Survey of 
that region in 1887, found this species breeding there, appar- 
ently fairly represented. Nearly all of my correspondents re- 
port it as common in their localities. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper parts streaked with black and pale bluish gray, which 
becomes nearly white on fore part of back; middle of back 
glossed with greenish-yellow; crown continuous yellow, bor- 
dered by a frontal and superciliary band, and behind by a 
square spot of white. Loral region black, sending off a line 
over the eye, and another below it; ear coverts, lower eyelid 
and entire under parts pure white, a purplish- chestnut stripe 
starting on each side in a line with the black mustache, and 
extending back to the thighs. Wing and tail feathers dark- 
brown edged with bluish-gray, except the secondaries and ter- 
tials, which are bordered with light yellowish-green, the 
shoulders with two greenish- white bands; three outer tail 
feathers with white patches near the end of the inner webs. 

Length. 5; wing, 2.50; tail, 2.20. 

Habitat, eastern United States and southern Canada west to 
the Plains. 

DENDROICA CASTANEA (Wilson). (660.) 
BAY BREASTED WARBLER. 

This warbler is by no means a common species. Arriving 
about the beginning of the second week in May it is frequently 
seen until about the 20th, when those individuals destined to 
remain and breed in the State seem to disappear with the 
others, but to build their nests, presumably, for they are seen 
at intervals in the forests all summer, and with the young with 
them in the latter part of July and August, but disappear en- 
tirely by the 25th of September. It has never been my fortune 
to secure the nest, but I have several carefully prepared 
descriptions of it which essentially agree in its construction of 
fine twigs, stems of grass, or moss, lined with fibrous roots, 
moss and bits of fur of animals. Three to four blue-green 
eggs, all over spattered with brown, which becomes confluent 
at the larger end. Its presence at Red Lake, Mi lie Lacs and 
in St. Louis county in several localities, rests on the testimony 



388 NOTES ON THE 

of Mr. Lewis. Mr. Washburn mentions seeing but one of them 
among his identifications in the Red river valley. They may 
have begun to change localities at that time, and thus have 
eluded him. Their return to winter habitations is somewhat 
less precipitous than many others of its genus, as I have found 
them in the forests along the Mississippi and surrounding some 
of our lakes as late as the 20th of September, and even into the 
earliest days of October on one occasion. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Crown dark reddish -chestnut; forehead and cheeks, including 
a space above the eye, black; a patch of buff-yellow behind the 
cheeks; rest of upper parts bluish-gray streaked with black; 
edges of interscapulars tinged with yellowish, scapulars with 
olivaceous. Primaries and tail feathers edged externally with 
bluish-gray, extreme outer one with white; secondaries edged 
with olivaceous. Two bands on the wing and edges of the ter- 
tials, white; under parts whitish, tinged with buff; chin, throat, 
fore part of breast and sides, chestnut-brown, lighter than the 
crown; outer tail feathers with a patch of white on the inner 
web near the end, the others edged internally with the same. 

Length, 5; wing, 3.05; tail, 2.40. 

Habitat, eastern North America. 

DENDROICA STRIATA (Forster). (661.) 

BLACK-POLL WARBLER. 

Although a regularly returning species in considerable num- 
bers during the two migrations, the Black- poll Warbler pro- 
bably goes beyond our lines to breed. Possibly, when all the 
corner lots have been sold, and this portion of the new north- 
west has been effectively plowed and fenced in, some of our 
aesthetic millionaires may give such a measure of his time to 
the critical study of the habits of the birds, as here and there 
a lord or duke has done in Great Britain of the ants, when, 
amongst the other unfinished labors of love, the breeding hab- 
its of this bird shall be definitely settled. Till then we must 
wait. 

The Black polls ride the very crest of the wave of migration 
both in spring and in autumn. But they do not remain very 
long, passing on to the north by the 20th of May, and return- 
ing in marked numbers by the 10th to the 15th of September— 
sometimes a little earlier, and sometimes a little later, according 
to the special character of the season. Some years they spend 
a good share of October here, but only exceptionally. They 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 389 

follow the course of the principal streams, lakes or swamps, 
along which they may be seen only in the tops of the tallest 
trees, with no special proclivity towards the conifers, as is the 
case with some of the warblers. The kind of insects they 
prefer for food doubtless determines their haunts, as they are 
disposed to get as much of their repast upon the wing (like 
the true fly-catchers), as they can. The nest is most likely 
to be found in the summit branches of the lofty trees they are 
known to haunt. This it has not been my fortune to have ever 
yet seen, yet from a recent communication from a gentleman 
residing at Duluth, (Mr. J. H. De Voe), I feel inclined to think 
it probable that he has the nest and eggs of this species, 
obtained near that city on the 30th of May of the present year, 
(1889). It was found snug up to the trunk, on the lowest 
limb of a fir balsam, within easy reach of the ground, and con- 
tained four eggs, of an ashy-white color, lightly sprayed all 
over with brown of several shades, more abundantly in a loose 
band around the bulge of the egg. The nest was built of 
moss, weeds, dry grass, bits of the fir branches, etc. , and was 
rather loose and bulky. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Crown, nape and upper half of the head, black; lower half 
including ear coverts, white, the separating line passing 
through the middle of the eye; rest of upper parts grayish- 
ash, tinged with brown and conspicuously streaked with black; 
wing and tail feathers brown, edged externally (except the 
inner tail feathers), with dull olive-green; two conspicuous 
bars of white on the wing coverts, the tertials edged with the 
same; under parts white, with a narrow line on each side of 
the throat from the chin to the side of the neck, where it runs 
into a close patch of black streaks, continued along the breast 
and side to the root of the tail; outer two tail feathers with an 
oblique patch on the inner web near the end; the others edged 
internally with white. 

Length, 5.75; wing, 3; tail, 2.25. 

Habitat, eastern North America to the Rocky Mountains. 

liENDROICA BLACKBIRNIJ: (Gmelin). (662.) 

BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER. 

Who would see the most beautiful of the whole family of the 
wood warblers, need not look for him in the common brush 
and thickets when working his way northward in spring, but 
must keep to the tall trees of the forest, in shady woods, and 
preferably along the uplands and ridges. He comes with the 



390 NOTES ON THE 

tide, on the 10th, 11th, or 12th of May, in considerable num- 
bers, and should be looked for, neither in the lowest, nor the 
topmost branches of the trees through which he industriously 
feeds and flits, but between them. His bright, boldly con- 
trasted colors make him comparatively easy to identify even 
when on the wing, but he manifests no disposition to extend 
any special confidence to the good homo who may be earnestly 
looking for him, even for the brief period of mutual recogni- 
tion. For many years after I came to know of the annual 
presence of this bird in migration, I believed they all passed 
much further to the north to breed, for the reason that their 
stay seemed so very short, but it has been seen too many 
times since, in the deep, dense woods, in different localities 
during summer, for doubt of its breeding in many places in the 
forest portions of the State. It is almost universally distribu- 
ted in its migrations, and presumably during the summer, but 
returns southward early in September, when less frequently, 
it is seen amongst other species of its family. 

They maintain a very pleasant warble while feeding, often 
changing places in their search for "the food prepared for 
them," flitting spiritedly through the thicket, or amongst the 
branches of the forest trees, when glimpses of Lheir unique 
plumage, like the twilight flashing of the fire-flies in the 
shadows of the woodlands arrest the eye. They did not 
pass us without interesting many eyes and ears, the most 
enthusiastic, and devoted of which were those of my co orni- 
thologist, so favorably located as she was while visiting her 
friends on that marvellously beauiful, metropolitan island of 
our city. Not a note of the resolute song escaped her keen 
ear, nor a flexion of its beautiful body her eye, but each was 
seized and treasured to be coined into ' ' apples of gold and 
pictures of silver" for the instruction and delight of her friends 
who were thus transformed into grateful pupils who could 
never forget her or her instructions. Long and familiarly as 
I had known the bird, I knew more from listning to her 
thrilling and enthusiastic descriptions. It was born in her, and 
never acquired. 

Note. I have found the nest and eggs of this warbler on 
that very island since the foregoing was written. It was in the 
fork of a sapling growing in the side of the elevated bank, very 
near the waters of the Mississippi, near which hundreds of 
people passed daily. I have been told of the nests of this 
species having been found in several localities in the Big 
Woods, but have had no opportunity to very reliably assure 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 391 

myself of the certainty of the identification. Audubon's de- 
scription of the Blackburnian Warbler's nest and eggs meet my 
own observations so perfectly that I quote it. It is as follows: 
"It was composed externally of diiferent textures, and lined 
with silky fibers, and then delicate strips of fine bark, over 
which lay a thick bed of feathers and horsehair. The eggs 
were small, very conical towards the smaller end; pure white, 
with a few spots of light red towards the larger end. It was 
found in a small fork of a tree, five or six feet from the ground, 
near a brook." 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper parts nearly uniform black, with a whitish scapular 
stripe and a large white patch in the middle of the wing cov- 
erts; an oblong patch in the middle of the crown, and the en- 
tire side of the head and neck, including a superciliary stripe 
from the nostrils, the chin, throat, and forepart of the breast, 
bright orange red; a black stripe from the commissure passing 
over the lower half of the eye, and including the ear coverts, with, 
however, an orange crescent in it just below the eye, the extreme 
lid being black; rest of under parts white, strongly tinged with 
yellowish-orange on the breast and belly, and streaked with 
black on the sides; outer three tail feathers and quills almost 
black. 

Length, 5.50; wing, 2.33; tail, 2.25. 

Habitat, eastern North America to the Plains. 

DENDROICA VIRENS (Gmelin). ^667.) 
BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER. 

There was general rejoicing when this beautiful bird was 
first Obtained. I found him in a thicket of poplars some four 
miles out in the country, and near a strip of heavy forest 
timber. He arrives not very unfrequently as early as the 30th 
of April, once on the 25th of that month, but commonly before 
the 5th of May. On one or two occasions it has been collected 
as late as the 5th of October, but as a rule they are gone by 
the 25th of September. This warbler comes to stay, and breeds 
in almost every section of the State, but is never represented 
by large numbers. The earliest nests I have seen have been 
built after the 5th of June, and they bring out but one brood so 
far as I have observed. It is generally placed in a small tree, 
about ten or twelve feet from the ground, and consists of fine 
strings of bark of some flexible kind, disposed very artistically 
in circles, and woven in with the flaxen fiber of some kinds of 
weeds for the main structure, which is lined with feathers, and a 

26 z 



392 NOTES ON THE 

little quantity of horsehairs. Some nests have fine grass in 
their lining. They lay four flesh-tinted white eggs, spotted at 
the large end with brown, and dotted with pale-brown and lav- 
ender. 

Mr. Washburn obtained a beautiful specimen at St. Vincent, 
in the Red river valley late in August. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper parts exclusive of wing and tail, clear yellow, olive 
green, the feathers of the back with hidden streaks of black; 
forehead, sides of head and neck, including a superciliary 
stripe, bright yellow; a dusky olive line from the bill through 
the eye, and another below it; chin, throat and fore part of 
breast, extending some distance along the sides, continuous 
black; rest of under parts white, tinged with yellow on the 
breast and flanks; wings and tail feathers dark brown, edged 
with bluish gray; two white bands on the wing; the greater 
part of the three outer tail feathers white. 

Length, 5; wing, 2.60; tail, 2.30. 

Habitat, eastern North America to the Plains. 

DENDROICA VIGORSII (Audubon). (671.) 
PINE WARBLER. 

This seems to be a rather uncommon species, first obtained 
by Mr. Geo. McMullen of Minneapolis, on May 10th, 1876, 
since which time it has been collected by several different per- 
sons who have submitted them to me for examination. 

I have found that they arrive much earlier than the date 
mentioned, having brought them to the basket as early as the 
10th of April, although the average should be placed about 
the 20th. 

They breed in the quiet pine forests, their nests being 
usually on small sized pines, and about twenty feet from the 
ground. It is not strange that they seem quite rare even 
though there may be a good many in the country, when their 
solitary habits in breeding exclude them so effectually from 
observation, The nests might escape the most vigorous 
scrutiny, so well is it and both of the birds concealed in the 
dense evergreen foliage. They consist of strips of bark prob- 
ably from off the cedar trees, and pine leaves, or needles in- 
geniously woven, or twisted into each other so as to effect a 
firm, compact, and tasteful structure. It is delicately lined 
with mosses and different kinds of hair. Amongst a pretty 
large collection of nests, those of this species are character- 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA 393 

istic for their architecture and neatness. The e^gs, four to 
five- in number, are white with a bhiish tinge, dotted with two 
shades of brown and reddish-pink, with splashes of purple. 

A visit to their legitimate haunts in summer, will find them 
actively searching the limbs and branches of different species 
of trees for their special food, after the manner of the creep- 
ers, ever and anon dashing out after an insect on the wing, like 
the flycatchers. They leave all parts of the State about the 
25th of October. Each successive year brings me additional 
testimony respecting its numbers and distribution. They breed 
at Brainerd, where I can find them in June of almost any year. 
In every instance when I have collected birds of this species in 
migration, they have been associated with the Palm Warbler. 
[ D. palmarum ( Gmelin) ]. -"^ 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. ""J 

Upper parts nearly uniform clear olive- green, the feathers of 
the crown with rather darker shafts; under parts generally, 
except the middle of the belly behind, and under tail coverts 
(which are white), bright gamboge-yellow, with obsolete 
streaks of dusky on the sides of the breast and body; sides of 
head and neck olive green like the back, with a broad super- 
ciliary stripe; the eyelids and a spot beneath the eye very 
obscurely yellow; wings and tail brown; the feathers edged 
with dirty white, and two bands of the same across the coverts; 
inner web of the first tail feather with nearly the terminal half 
of the second with nearly the terminal third, dull inconspicious 
white. 

Length, 5.50; wing, 3; tail, 2.40. 

Habitat, eastern North America to the Plains. 

DENDROICA PALMARUM (Gmeltn). (672.) 

PALM WARBLER. 
When, and where to look for the Palm Warblers, are not dif- 
ficult questions to answer to one who has watched the move- 
ments of birds in migration for many years. We shall need 
our rubber boots to prepare us for circumnavigating thickets 
in swampy sections, and we shall need to be warmly clothed, 
for the winter has gone too recently for dry turf, or for the air 
to have become specially balmy. Although we may commence 
our search a few days too soon, we cannot afford to have him 
occupy our territory unobserved, and so on the 10th of April, 
we go forth. He may have been there already five days 
according to notes embracing that date, but somehow a natural 
born ornithologist will seem to know by his actions how long 



394 NOTES ON THE 

he has been on the ground. Birds of all species, seem to 
' 'give themselves away" by a kind of nervousness in their manner 
when they have just now arrived. But it is soon at work, 
busily searching for insects, on the ground, on the bushes, 
and in the air where it seizes them readily in short excursions 
on the wing. It clings closely to the vicinity of moist 
places bordering thickets of low trees, or tall brush. It 
breeds limitedly in the northern sections of the State. 

The nest is quite uniform in structure and in the materials of 
which it is composed. Always on the ground, and fairly con- 
cealed by a bush, or a tussock of grass, with dry leaves to com- 
plete the protection, the rest is constructed of weeds and 
grasses at the bottom, on which are imposed layers of fine 
roots and finer grass, over which are down, caterpillar's silk, 
hairs, fine grasses and moss. It is then lined with fine roots, 
thus constituting a deep nest in which are deposited three eggs 
of roseate white color, spotted and blotched at the larger end 
with brown and reddish. 

The young are out of the nest by the 25th of June. Indivi- 
duals of this species are seen in the autumn late in October 
occasionally, but it is so secluded in its habits that it is difii 
cult to determine its time of departure very accurately. For 
the same reason, I have obtained less notes from correspond- 
ents in different parts of the country embraced in the survey. 
They are principally found during summer in the northern 
counties, at least I have had a larger number of reports from 
that section. I met them in their characteristic haunts late in 
May in the vicinity of Minneapolis, and Mr. Lewis reports 
them in Becker county a month later. Others have given 
them, associated with the young in August in various localities. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Head above chestnut red; rest of upper parts brownish 
olive-gray, the feathers with darker centers, the color brighten- 
ing on the rump, upper tail coverts and outer margins of 
wing and tail feathers, to greenish-yellow; a streak from nos- 
trils over the eye, and under parts generally, including the 
tail coverts, bright yellow, paler on the body; maxillary 
line, breast and sides finely but rather obsoletely streaked 
with reddish brown; checks brownish, (in highest spring 
plumage, chestnut like the head) ; eyelids and a spot under the 
eye, olive-brown; lores dusky; a white spot on the inner web 
of the outer two tail feathers at the end. 

Length, 5; wing, 2.40; tail, 2.25. 

Habitat, eastern United States to the Mississippi river. 



BIRDS OP MINNESOTA. 395 

SEIURUS AUROCAPILLUS (L.) (674.) 
OVEN-BIRD. 

For the relative numbers of its species generally, the Oven- 
bird is very common throughout the State from the 1st of May 
to the 20th of September, with occasional instances of in- 
dividuals remaining until far into October. It is only found as 
a general thing, in the most unfrequented places, near swamps, 
although I have met them in autumn in dry, densely wooded 
localites where it appeared very little disturbed by my pres- 
ence, keeping about its search for insects among the fallen 
leaves. However, its breeding habits confine it to the moist 
vicinity of swamps in or near the forests. Why this bird is 
dubbed with the unsentimental name "Oven-bird," is more 
than I can understand, for if from the form of its nest, we 
ought to have Oven-birds in several different genera of widely 
different families. I am sure that the Golden-crowned Thrush 
is far more appropriate, the colors, habits and form of the 
bird being so beautifully recognized by the name. 

The first nests of the season are begun by both birds about 
the 1 5th of May, others following into the first days of June. 
It is made of grasses and dry leaves into a very compact mass, 
with its entrance on the side, and so small as to render it a sur- 
prise that the bird can enter it. It is lined with fine, soft 
grasses and hairs of different kinds. They lay six creamy- 
white eggs, irregularly spotted or blotched with several shades 
of reddish -brown. As with so many other species, the larger 
end of the egg has the markings thickest, running into con- 
fluent patches in some instances. The song of the bird is easily 
recognized by any one who has heard it, especially by its C7'es- 
cendo, beginning at a low pitch and increasing to remarkable 
fullness at its close. It is more nearly expressed by the formula 
written, queecha, queecha, queecha, queecha, queecha, increasing 
in force and volume to the end. * Samuels says : ' 'I have heard 
this song in the mating and incubating seasons, at all hours of 
the night. The bird seems, at that time, to ascend into the air 
to a considerable height, and utters Its notes while hovering 
and slowly descending. I have noticed the same habit in the 
Maryland Yellow- throat, and some other birds." I have never 
had the pleasure of hearing either of these species under such 
circumstances. 



*Birds of New Eagland. p. 219. 



396 NOTES ON THE 

The Golden -crowned Thrush lingers as late as the frost leaves 
it sufficient food, which in 1885 was late in October, but does 
not generally extend beyond the 25th of September. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Above, uniform olive-green with a tinge of yellow. Crown 
with two narrow streaks of black from the bill, enclosing a 
median and much broader one of brownish- orange. Beneath, 
white; breast, sides of body, and a maxillary line streaked with 
black. Wings moderate, about three-quarters of an inch longer 
than the tail; first quill scarcely shorter than the second. Tail 
slightly rounded, feathers acuminate. Tarsi about as long as 
the skull, considerably exceeding the middle toe. Under tail 
coverts reaching within about half an inch of the end of the 
tail. 

Length, 6; wing, 3; tail, 2.i0. 

Habitat, eastern North America to the Rocky Mountains. 

SEIURUS NOVEBOBACENSIS (Gmelin). (675.) 
WATER THRUSH. 

The Water Thrush is a rather common resident of most 
wooded portions of the State, arriving usually between the 25th 
and 30th of April. 

Their song is not very often heard, and when it is, it is diffi- 
cult to describe it. But having been heard by an interested 
ear, it will never be forgotten beyond recognition. The notes 
are clear, strong and impressively sweet, the strain beginning 
in a high, spirited pitch, and gradually gliding downward in 
key and volume to the softest before lost to the ear. They 
are paired when they come, and the song is warbled thereafter 
at intervals all the day, as long as the female is setting on the 
nest, but immediately afterwards we hear no more from them 
during the summer ordinarily. They hide their nests so 
effectually that I have never been able to find one, but by the 
aid of an exceedingly persistent lad who is an adept at bird's 
nest hunting, I am prepared to "speak by the book" in de- 
scribing it. It was placed by the side of, and well under a 
very old, decayed log, lying in a dense thicket in a swamp. 
It consisted entirely of grass, leaves and moss, in such a quan- 
tity as to give it quite a bulky appearance after getting down 
to it. 

The entrance was porched over much like the Oven-bird's 
nest, and the eggs were four in number, flesh colored, spotted 
over with pale reddish brown, emphasized somewhat about the 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 397 

larger end. Their habits preclude much familiarity with them, 
and little more is known of them than when first identified and 
described. They remain here until about the first week in 
October. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill from rictus, about the length of the skull. Above olive 
brown, with a shade of green; beneath pale, sulphur yellow, 
brightest on the abdomen. Region about the base of the lower 
mandible, and a superciliary line from the base of the bill to 
the nape, brownish yellow. A dusky line from the bill through 
the eye; chin and throat, finely spotted. All the remaining 
under parts and sides of body except the abdomen, and includ- 
ing the under tail coverts, conspicuously and thickly streaked 
with olivaceous brown, almost black on the breast. 

Length, 6.15; wing, 3.12; tail, 2.40. 

Habitat, eastern to arctic America. 

Note. Neither Mr. Washburn nor Mr. Lewis in the north, 
nor Dr. Hvoslef in the south part of the State have referred 
to this species in their correspondence. I have, however, 
found it to be resident in many localities by the specimens 
sent me fcr identification. 

GEOTHLYPIS 4GILIS (Wilson). (678.) 

CONNECTICUT WARBLER. 

In June, 1869, in a thicket by the wayside in the suburbs of 
the city, I collected two birds from the same bush, one of 
which proved to be of this species and the other was the 
Mourning Warbler {G. Philadelphia). Both were then new to 
Minnesota ornithology, and of course it was a great find. 
Since that time I have seen them in both migrations nearly 
every year, but have only occasionally met with them during 
the summer, as on that first discovery of them, and then along 
the Red river near Fargo and Moorhead. Agilis seems to be 
the rarer of the two species, the nest of which I have never 
yet seen, nor have I been apprised of its discovery by anyone 
else. Mr. U. S. Grant found several of these warblers in St. 
Louis county in July, which not only corroborates its breeding 
habits affirmed, but shows that they are by no means confined 
to the vicinage of the Red river. Soon after the frosts begin 
to intefere with their food supply, the migration southward 
commences, which is not closed for fifteen to twenty days or- 
dinarily. At such times they frequent thickets along con- 
tinued banks, and sides of the hills, much after the manner of 
sparrows, but are driven into trees more readily. 



398 NOTES ON THE 

They have a simple note which is almost constantly repeated 
in a subdued tone, which sounds somewhat like keet. I am 
informed that quite a number of local collectors have obtained 
the species form time to time. Dr. Hvoslef reports them pre- 
sent at Lanesboro, June 1st, 1882. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper parts and sides of the body uniform olive-green, very 
slightly tinged with ash on the crown, sides of the head ash, 
tinged with dusky beneath the eye. Chin and throat gray- 
ish ash, becoming darker gradually to the upper part of the 
breast, where it becomes tinged with dark-ash. Sides of the 
neck, breast, and body, olive like the back; rest of under parts 
light-yellow. A broad continuous white ring round the eye; 
wings and tail feathers olive, without any trace of bars or 
spots. Bill brown above; feet yellow. 

Length, 6; wing, 3; tail, 2.25. 

Habitat, eastern North America to the Mississippi river and 
Red river. 

GEOTHLYPIS PRILIDELPHIA (Wilson). (679.) 
MOURNING WARBLER. 

This is another species of the tardy genus Geothlypis, that 
has been identified, but whose habits have remained quite 
obscure. I obtained a single individual in typical plumage, on 
the first day of June, 1869, very nearly within the city limits. 
Since then I have met occasionally migrants in autumn, and 
have a few reports from competent correspondents. Dr. Hvos- 
lef obtained one in high plumage on the 25th of May, 1884. 
Several local collectors claim to have obtained specimens sev- 
eral years earlier. Mr. Washburn searched but did not find it 
where Coues found it previously, "breeding abundantly along 
the Red river." Their early southern movement may explain its 
absence at the time the former was in that locality. Mr. Trippe 
had, somewhat earlier, found it breeding prolifically inMinnesota, 
but failed to find the nest. He "repeatedly saw the old birds 
feeding the young in the latter part of June and early in July, " 
which makes its local breeding assured. He further says: — 
"They are similar in their habits to the Maryland Yellow- 
throat, but are not so exclusively devoted to thickets and un- 
derbrush, frequently ascending to the tops of the tamaracks, 
for which they show a great predilection." It is to be hoped 
that more facts regarding its local history may ere long be 
obtained. Coues says: — "The nest is rather slight, but a neat 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA 399 

structure, placed on the ground, composed of various soft, 
fibrous materials and fine grasses, mostly circularly arranged, 
lined with fine rootlets." 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Wing but little longer than the tail, reaching but little be- 
yond its base. Head and neck and all around, with throat and 
forepart of breast ash-gray, paler beneath; feathers of chin, 
throat, and forebreast in reality black but with narrow ashy 
margins, more or less concealing the black except on the 
breast. Lores, and region round the eye, dusky, without any 
trace of a pale ring; upper parts and sides of the body clear 
olive- green; under parts bright-yellow; tail feathers uniform 
olive; first primary, with the outer half of the outer web, 
nearly white. 

Length, 5.50; wing, 2.45; tail, 2.25. 

Habitat, eastern North America to the Plains. 

GEOTHLYPIS TRICHAS (L.). (681.) 
MARYLAND YELLOW-THROAT. 

It took a long time to learn all the ''ins and outs'^ of this 
little warbler. If there are any remaining unlearned, they 
must be hard to find out indeed, for there does not seem to be 
many places circumstantially adapted to the habits of the 
species not already occupied by a pair of representatives in 
their season. 

It reaches the vicinity of Minneapolis about the 27th of 
April, and is reported from nearly every part of the State by 
the 5th of May. The nests are built and occupied by about 
the last days of that month. They are constructed of leaves 
mixed with grasses, and lined with finer grass and hairs. They 
are placed on the ground close to a bush and are quite bulky. 
They often have their entrance provided for in one side, after 
the manner of the Golden-crowned Thrush. They rear two 
broods, and are gone by the 20th of September usually. Its 
song is quite strikingly rendered into words by Rev. J. H. 
Langille in the formula, iveech-a-tee, iveech-a-tee, iveecha-tee, 
tveech-a-tee, in distinct, whistling notes, never to be confounded 
with those of any other songster. It is delivered rather delib- 
erately, with the accent strongly on the first syllable. Under 
some circumstancess, the note is abbreviated by one syllable, 
leaving it weech-ee, iveech-ee, weech-ee, weech-ee, with only a faint 
touch upon the last, when it somewhat resembles the song of 
another warbler. When they first arrive they must be sought 



400 NOTES ON THE 

in the thickets, when they are mostly silent and somewhat 
suspicious. It is not long, however, before their familiar 
notes are heard about our houses, in the currant bushes, and 
in the orchard. In the time of nesting they retire from such 
familiar places to the borders of woods, near damp, swampy 
localities, in dense thickets. Contrary to their reputed pro- 
clivity to the vicinity of farm houses, in the eastern states, 
they avoid them during incubation nearly if not quite uni- 
formly. The earliest nests I have discovered were occupied 
by the 17th of May, although as a general rule, it is a little 
later. They frequently linger till late in September, and an 
instance has occurred when a few of them were seen in Octo- 
ber. Dr. Hvoslef reports them abundant in his section on the 
5th of May. Mr. Washburn found them common in the Red 
river valley. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper parts olive-green, tinged with brown towards the 
middle of the crown; chin, throat and breast as far as the mid- 
dle of the body, and under tail coverts, bright yellow; belly 
dull whitish buff; sides of body strongly tinged with light 
olive-brown; under coverts glossed with the same; a band of 
black on the forehead, (about 0.20 of an inch wide in the mid- 
dle) passing backward so as to cover the cheek and ear coverts, 
and extending a little above the eye; this band bordered behind 
by a suffusion of hoary ash, forming a distinct line above the 
eye, and widening behind the ear coverts into a large patch 
with a yellow tinge. 

Length, 5.50; wing, 2.40; tail, 2.20. 

Habitat, eastern United States to the Mississippi river. 

ICTERIA VIRENS. (L.). (683.) 

YELLOW BREASTED CHAT. 

This species is a regular summer resident of the southwest- 
ern portion of the State, reaching those sections early in May. 
They are not common, and rarely extend their incursions be- 
yond the lower tier of counties, one or two individuals having 
been obtained in the valley of the St. Peter's river, and a like 
number observed in Traverse county. I am familiar with them 
in their western haunts, and have long hoped to have an op- 
portunity to note their* habits here, but I have never met with 
them personally in my locality. They are reported by Mr. 
Chas. R. Keyes and Dr. H. S. Williams, of Davenport, la., as 
rather common summer residents of that state. In their cata- 
logue of the Birds of Iowa, they say: "Summer resident, 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 401 

rather common; arriving the first week in May. Haunts the 
low, open woodlands and thickets along the streams. Nidifi- 
cation commences about the first week in June. The nest is 
usually placed four or five feet from the ground, in a thickly 
foliaged bush. It is composed of dry grasses and leaves, and 
lined with fine grasses and fibers of bark. The eggs number 
three to five." 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Third and fourth quills the longest; second and fifth little 
shorter; first nearly equal to sixth. Tail graduated. Upper 
parts uniform olive green; under parts, including the inside of 
wing, gamboge yellow as far as nearly half way from the point 
of the bill to the tip of the tail; rest of under parts white, 
tinged with brown on the sides; outer side of tibia plumbeous; 
a slight tinge of orange across the breast. Forehead, and sides 
of head ash, the lores and region below the eyes, blackish. A 
white stripe from the nostrils over the eye and involving the 
upper eyelid; a patch on the lower lid, and a short stripe from 
the side of the lower mandible, running to a point opposite the 
hinder border of the eye, white. Bill, black; feet, brown. 

Length, 7.40; wing, 3.25; tail, 3.30. 

Habitat, eastern United States to the Plains. 

Note. The above has been written some years, and I take 
pleasure in stating that Dr. T. S. Roberts verbally reported a 
specimen he had received from some one within our borders 
obtained in 1890. P. L. H. 

SYLYANIA MITRATA. (Gmelin.) (684.) 

HOODED WARBLER. 

It has only been made evident that this species is fairly well 
represented in restricted localities after many years of careful 
inquiry. The first individual that came into my hands I se- 
cured May 12th, 1869, since which time at different times per- 
haps a half dozen or more have been received. It has been a 
surprise to me that my correspondents have not reported it; 
still its habits of concealment are such that one must be able 
to give it much time to obtain specimens even where previously 
known to be moderately well represented. Even the song, 
though simple and often quite continuously maintained, differs 
so very much under a change of the time of the day, and the 
weather that it is only after repeated and the most careful no- 
tings that its presence becomes assured by it alone. In western 
New York where I once lived, it was a common summer resi- 
dent, but almost as unknown to casual observation as it is in 
Minnesota. Its habits of eating are like those of the flycatch- 



402 NOTES ON THE 

ers. Remaining almost constantly concealed from view in the 
leaves and fine branches of the undergrowth of border land to 
denser forests, it flips suddenly up into the air of the open 
places above the undergrowth, and seizing its insect, disap- 
pears as quickly in the thicket again. They come with the 
great influx of warblers from the 10th to the 12th of May, and 
are found building their nests from about the 20th to the end 
of the first week in June, and sometimes bring out two broods. 
The structure consists of dry leaves and fibrous barks, and is 
lined with grass and hairs in addition to the fibres mentioned. 
It is almost proverbially bulky, and placed in the forks of a 
bush near the ground and usually contains from three to four 
white eggs, variously speckled with reddish brown. They all 
disappear during the last week in August. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill black; feet pale yellow. Head and neck all around, a,^^ 
fore part of the breast black; a broad patch on the for 
head extending around on the entire cheeks and ear covert'^- 
and the under parts bright yellow; upper parts and sides of 
the body olive- green; greater portion of inner web of the three 
outer tail feathers, white. 

Length, 5; wing, 2.75; tail, 2.55. 

Habitat, eastern United States, and west to the Plains. 

SYLTANIl CANIDENSIS (L.). (686.) 

CANADIAN WARBLER. 

When this warbler first came under my notice, in 1875, I was 
confident it was a straggler, but without any resource for 
information as to the ultimate limits of its migratorial distri- 
bution, I did not have to wait very long before his local history 
began to unfold in fine style, for in a few weeks I bagged his 
nest, companion, self, eggs and all. 

It reaches the lower limits of my province about May 15th, 
and the larger portion of them pass still further north, never- 
theless may remain and breed with us. The nest has been 
found by Mr. Treganowan and Mr. Lewis, and reputedly by 
some one else, and always on the ground. (The location has been 
occasionally given from Audubon to date, as in low trees and 
bushes). It consists of leaves, roots, and grasses, its lining 
generally of the same with some hairs and considerable lichens 
included. Although quite bulky, it is rather shallow, and 
generally contains four gray- white eggs, tinted with a slight 
blush of rose and spotted or blotched with lilac and brown 
especially about the larger end. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 403 

I am not a little surprised, at the differences in the descrip- 
tions of the different writers as to its song. It is quite certain 
that not only do eyes see differently, but ears hear very much 
so. To my ear, or rather, to my imagination, Langille has 
given the best form of words to help recall the song of this 
bird in the following syllables: chi-reach-a-dee, reach-a-dee, 
reach-a-dee-chi, nervously and spiritedly delivered. 

He speaks of a characteristic ventriloquism in the utterance 
of its song by which one is often misled as to its nearness, 
which has often attracted my attention, and used to lead me 
away on a fool's chase to locate the singer. They raise one 
brood, and retire from the country by the 15th of September. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Upper parts bluish -ash; a ring round the eye, with a line 
running to the nostrils, and the whole under parts (except the 
tail coverts which are white) bright yellow; centres of the 
feathers in the anterior half of the crown, the checks, con- 
tinuous with a line on the side of the neck to the breast, and a 
series of spots across the fore part of the breast, black; tail 
feathers unspotted. 

Length, 5.35; wing, 2.65; tail, 2.50. 

Habitat, eastern United States westward to the Plains. 

SETOPHAGA RUTICILLA (L.). (687.) 

AMERICAN REDSTART. 

A bird of the trees and bushes to such an emphatic degree, 
that persons of considerable observation have failed to see 
them altogether for several years in succession. Their habits 
are eminently calculated to keep them from the eye of the 
casual observer, for when pursuing their insect food on the 
wing, he is confident he has caught a glimpse of a flycatcher, 
and when searching the bark of the trunks and branches of 
the trees for eggs and larvee, he calls it a warbler. Much of 
its time is spent upon the ground, amongst decayed logs and 
brush, in search of forms of insect life abounding in those 
localities, where it is a difficult matter to see them. 

However, the strongly contrasted colors of the male, and 
its dashing enthusiasm during the mating time, singing vigor- 
ously, and changing its perch from tree to tree in the woods, 
leads to its identity by those familiar with its habits and song. 

Rev. J. H. Langille describes its humble song as resembling 
the notes of a tin whistle, and says: — "There is not a little 
variety in its whistling tones, and the theme is always well 



404 NOTES ON THE 

modulated. Like all bird songs, it contains immeasurably 
more than anything to which it can be likened." It is a com- 
mon summer resident in its favorite localities everywhere with- 
in the State. 

The collector of skins for his cabinet, finds he has more of 
that species than he wants to skin, and if a man of true senti 
ment, enters upon his next slumbers with the shadows of a 
degree of remorse flittering through his latest memories like 
bats through the open casement upon a hot night in August. 

They arrive in spring with great regularity about the 10th 
of May, remainmg until about the 20th of September. The 
nest is found usually on a limb all the way from five to twenty 
feet from the ground, and on a sapling in the larger timber. 
It consists of strips of different kinds of bark, fine grass and 
delicate weeds. 

These are very artistically arranged into a snug structure, 
which is made very firm by a secretion from the bird's mouth 
that glues it solidly together. Down, from vegetable sources, 
silk from caterpillars' nests, and dry, soft lichens, are glued to 
the exterior exceedingly neatly, while the nest is lined 
throughout its deeply hollowed cavity with fine strips of 
different barks, fine fibrous roots, vegetable down and hairs. 
They lay four eggs of a cream-white, spattered with spots of 
reddish-brown and lilac. 

They are very common about Otter Tail, Mille Lacs and Big 
Stone lake, according to reports from different correspondents, 
and Dr. Hvoslef embraces them in his notes kindly furnished 
me from Fillmore county. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Prevailing color black; a central line on the breast, abdomen 
and under tail coverts, white; some feathers in the latter 
strongly tinged with dark brown. Bases of all the quills, ex- 
cept the inner and outer, and basal half of all the tail feathers, 
except the middle one, a patch on each side of the breast, and 
the axillary region, orange-red, of a vermilion shade, on the 
breast. 

Length, 5.25; wing, 2.50; tail, 2.45. 

Habitat, North America. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA 405 



Family MOTACILLID^. 

ANTHUS PENSYLVANICUS (Latham). (697.) 

AMERICAN PIPIT. 

>To any interested observer of the birds the characteristics of 
the Titlark would become especially so. Only seen in migra- 
tions it can scarcely fail of instantaneous recognition. They are 
very irregular in their distribution in migration, sometimes ap- 
pearing for two or three successive springs in nearly the same 
localities, and then absenting themselves several years to re- 
turn in the same or greater numbers. And I have often ob- 
served that a full representation in the spring migration was 
more likely to be followed by a light one in the autumn. They 
return by some other route. 

I should say, that as a rule, they are more numerous in fall 
than in spring, yet this rule will have some marked exceptions. 

They arrive in the southern part of the State about the 20th 
of May. and after remaining only a short time, pass on to the 
further north to breed. About the second week of September 
they return, and may be seen daily on the plowed fields in large 
flocks until after the middle of October. It is not unusual to find 
them associated with the Lapland Longspurs. Their flight is 
graceful in the extreme, and so characteristic as to point out 
their identity at considerable distance. Rumor asserts that 
they breed in the islands of the Lake of the Woods, but it is 
not yet sufficiently authenticated. They are reported as 
abundant in their fall migrations in the St. Peter's and Red 
river valleys, and on the level prairies of Grant and Douglas 
counties. Pr. Hvoslef gives them full recognition in Fillmore 
county in their migrations. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Above olive-brown, each feather slightly darker towards the 
central portion; beneath pale dull buff, or yellowish-brown, 
with a maxillary series of dark brown spots and streaks across 
the breast and along the sides. Ring round the eye and super- 
ciliary stripe, yellowish; central tail feathers like the back, 
the others dark blackish-brown; the external one white, ex- 
cept at the base within; a white spot at the end of the second; 
primaries edged with whitish; other quills with pale brownish. 

Length, 6.50; wing, 3.45; tail, 2.95. 

Habitat, North America. 



406 NOTES ON THE 

ANTHUS SPRAUIJEII (Audubon). (700.) 
SPRAGUE'S PIPIT.* 

It has been a matter of question whether we could give this 
bird a just place amongst the bird fauna of this State, 
notwithstanding its occasional capture near the Red river, but 
it has been so often seen and carefully identified that all doubts 
are forever removed. 

While by no means to be accounted common summer residents, 
they are sufficiently numerous to be considered more than rare, 
in the northern portions of the State to the British Possesions. 

I have found them more frequently in Pembina county than 
otherwheres, but only so, I think it is probable, because my 
opportunities have been greater to observe them there. In 
traversing those sections I have employed a buckboard which 
has made it possible to get a few" specimens, and to observe a 
couple of nests which were occupied by the second brood, 
presumptively, as it was in June, and Mr. Lewis has since 
found them as early as April 23d in Clay county. 

Occasionally individuals have been secured in the lower belt 
of counties, yet no nests have been reported from that section. 
But I have had the pleasure of identifying Sprague's Lark 
several times in the county in which I live, once within the 
territory since included in the limits of the city corporation, 
and breeding here as early as the 25th of March (1870). In 
June I had the repeated exceptional pleasure of hearing its 
song while mounting to an altitude of not less than seven, and 
I think considerably more than eight hundred feet. The first 
time that this transpired I was riding in company with a friend, 
and on my way to collect birds, so that I was on the alert. I 
had an excellent field glass with me, and at the moment in my 
hand, as I saw the bird spring from the grass within a few 
feet of my horse, and a little to the left of me. It flew a 
hundred feet away with a succession of flits of the wings, 
which lifted it about twenty feet into the air, when it turned 
and with the same movements of the wings, came indirectly 
tow^ards me, rising another twenty feet, or thereabouts, when 
it again turned and began to sing with great enthusiasm, and 
thus back and forth, each time a little increasing the length of 
its zigzag undulations, it climbed upward, upward, upward, 



* When T wrote the ahove account of this species. I did not know that Captain 
Blailiiston had observed it as early as May 4th, 1850, a fact which reached me at page 
176 of North American Birds. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 407 

until it disappeared from my unaided vision, when I brought 
the glass to my eye and followed him still, all the while sing- 
ing, singing, singing as he swung right and left, vaulting into 
the very blue of the heavens, when suddenly he closed his 
wings and his song, and head downward came down like an 
arrow, opening his closed wings only when within a yard of 
the ground, and within the same distance of the very spot 
from which he ascended. My desire to make sure of his 
identity had brought my eye to the barrel of my ready gun, 
when the thought of hearing the song again, and of securing 
the nest deterred me. As much time as I could possibly spare 
on that still, beautiful morning having gone, I drove away 
with a delightful memory and a good resolution to see the bird 
again. 

That nest, as afterward proved, was near enough to my 
carriage to have tossed a marble into it, or more probably 
upon the back of the faithful, devoted female occupying it. 
The ground had been excavated to the depth of two inches and 
the cavity lined with a little fine grass, and contained four 
dull-white, finely speckled eggs which were quite pointed at 
one end. I cruelly purposed to appropriate both of the 
parents, of the two remaining eggs (after I had taken two) 
when the young should be old enough to fly, but I only 
obtained the male. 

I have seen no more of this species in this section where I 
live, but met with them once or twice in Grant county. 

A description of its song would be difficult, but it consisted 
of a succession of notes, beginning at a high pitch and warbled 
with a deflected "diminuendo," very pleasingly melodious 
indeed. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Above wood-brown, all the feathers edged with paler espec 
ially on the neck, where there is a brownish-yellow tinge; 
under parts dull white, with a collar of sharply defined narrow 
brown streaks across the forepart and along the sides of the 
breast; lores, and a superciliary line, whitish; tail feathers, 
except the middle ones, dark brown; outer one white, second 
white with the inner margin brown; outer primary edged with 
white, and two dull whitish bands across the wings; bill and 
feefc yellow, the former brown above. 

Length, 6; wing, 3.85; tail. 2.50. 

Habitat, interior plains of North America. 

27 



408 NOTES ON THE 

Family TBOGLODYTID^. 

OALEOSCOPTES CAROLINENSIS (L.). (704.) 
CATBIRD. 

In a ride of fifteen miles to Lake Minnetonka, I have counted 
very nearly one hundred birds of this species in a mornings' 
hour and a half, many a time in the years gone by. And those 
singly, not exceeding two, or at most three, being in any one 
locality. The males arrive in parties of five or six, (never 
many more), about the 25th of April, and are followed in from 
three to five days by the females similarly associated, after 
which they are constantly seen, but not much heard for nearly 
two weeks, when the sexes begin to be moved towards each 
other by the instincts of reproduction, which arouses the 
highest energies and activities of their natures to a new meas- 
ure of bird life. At that season their harsh calls are heard 
from every thicket along the way, or down by the creek at the 
border of the woods, through all the hours of the lengthening 
days. When the building of the nests begins, the conjugal 
relationships having become settled, a brief period of reticence 
intervenes, during which they are seldom heard but constantly 
seen carrying materials for the construction of the nest. How- 
ever even at this time, the really early riser will hear the 
almost matchless song of the males as they pour it forth from 
the topmost twig of some large bush or sapling. Wilson must 
have been unfortunate in the hours chosen in which to listen 
to its exquisite notes, for he says: "His notes are more 
remarkable for singularity than for melody. They consist of 
short imitations of other birds, and other sounds; but, his pipe 
being rather deficient in clearness and strength of tone, his 
imitations fail where these are requisite. Yet he is not easily 
discouraged, but seems to study certain passages with greater 
perseverance; uttering them at first low, and as he succeeds, 
higher and more free, nowise embarrassed by the presence of 
a spectator, even within a few yards of him. On attentively 
listening to him for some time, one can perceive considerable 
variety in his performance, in which he seems to introduce all 
the old sounds and quaint passages he has been able to collect. 
Upon the whole, though, we cannot arrange him with the 
grand leaders of our vernal choristers, he well merits a place 
among the most agreeable of general performers." 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA 409 

Now, I am conscious of, and credited with having, a very 
critical ear for sound and melody of all sorts of descriptions; 
and I do not hesitate to say that for clearness, sweetness, 
richness of tone, and inexpressible variety of modulation, from 
piano to forte in volume, he is peerless among American birds. 
But I thought myself perfectly acquainted with the Catbird 
for at least twenty-JBlve years before I was permitted to know 
his full powers of song, and then by the accident of an early 
ride through his most favored haunts while the female was 
sitting on her eggs. The famous Brown Thrush can be heard 
further, and I have once detected as many as twenty-two differ- 
ent modifications in a single outpouring of his melodies, yet 
the other excels him in everything except his volume of sound. 
Wilson is "away off" in his descriptions and interpretations of 
this unique songster. There is indisputably a bitter prejudice 
against the Catbird, originating in his disfavor among farm • 
ers, or perhaps I should say gardeners, and unfortunately 
aggravated by the harshness of his ordinary call and caution 
note, to which I must add the infelicity of his vernacular 
name. "There is a great deal in the name." They continue 
their songs in the early morning, sometimes until after sun- 
rise, and at sunset in the evening, during the entire summer 
except in a brief period of moulting following the period of 
nidification. 

They build their nests about the 20th of May, unless the sea- 
son is exceptionally late, although I have found pairs doing so 
as late as the first week in June occasionally. They are lo- 
cated in bushes, and generally about five feet from the ground, 
The platform consisting of sticks and twigs. Upon this sub- 
structure, firmly secured, rests the somewhat bulky nest proper 
consisting of bark, twigs, leaves and straws or dried grass, and 
lined with hairs and fibrous roots, sometimes with fine grass. 
It is deeply hollowed. There are usually four, occasionally 
five eggs of a deep emerald-green of a very symmetrical ovate 
form. The Catbird may thankfully rest on the generous 
verdict of his true friend Dr. Coues as to his merits and demer- 
its, as given in his Birds of the Colorado Valley, pages 56-60. I 
cannot refrain from repeating a few of the closing paragraphs 
in his amusing defence of this bird. ' 'Explain him as we may, 
the Catbird is inseperable from home and homely things. He 
reflects as he is reflected in domestic life. The associations, it 
is true, are of an humble sort, but they are just as strong as 
those which link us with the trusty Robin, the social Swallow, 



410 NOTES ON THE 

the delicious Blue Bird or the elegant Oriole. Let it be the 
humble country home of toil or the luxurious mansion where 
wealth is lavished on the garden, in either case the Catbird 
claims the rights of squatter sovereignty. He flirts saucily 
across the well-worn path that leads to the well and sips the 
water that collects in the shallow depression upon the flag- 
stone. Down in the tangle of the moist dell, where stands the 
spring-house with its cool, crisp atmosphere, redolent of but- 
tery savor, where the trickling water is perpetual, he loiters 
at ease and from the hearts of the greenbrier makes bold ad- 
vances to the milk-maid who brings the brimming bowls. 

' 'In the pasture beyond he waits for the boy who comes whist- 
ling after the cows, and follows him home by the blackberry 
road that lies along the zigzag fence, challenging the carelessly 
thrown stone he has learned to dodge with ease. He joins the 
berrying party fresh from school, soliciting a game of hide and- 
seek, and laughs at the mishap that never fails when children 
try the brier patch. Along the hedgerow he glides with short 
easy flights to gain the evergreen coppice that shades a corner 
of the lawn, where he pauses to watch the old gardener trim- 
ming the boxwood, or rolling the gravel walk, or making the 
flower bed, wondering why some people will take so much 
trouble when everything is nice enough already. 

"Ever restless and inquisitive he makes for the well known 
arbor to see what may be going on tbere. What he discovers 
is certainly none of his business. The rustic seat is occupied; 
the old, old play is in rehearsal, and at the sight of the blush- 
ing cheeks that respond to passionate words the very roses on 
the trellis hang their envious heads. The spectacle tickles his 
fancy. Always ripe for mischief he startles the loving pair 
with his quick, shrill cry, like a burlesque of the kiss just 
heard, and chuckles at their little consternation. 'It is only a 
Catbird' they reassuringly say, yet there are times when the 
slightest jar is a shock, and pledges that hang in a trembling 
balance may never be redeemed. 'Only a Catbird' meanwhile 
remembers business of his own and is off. The practical ques- 
tion of dining recurs. He means to dine sumptuously, and so 
like the French philosopher place himself beyond the reach of 
fate, but nature in the month of May is full of combustible 
material, and the very atmosphere is quick to carry the torch 
that was kindled in the arbor. His fate meets him in the only 
shape that could so far restrain masculine instincts as to post- 
pone a dinner. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 411 

"The rest is soon told, or rather it would be could the secrets 
of the impenetrable dark-green mass of smilax, whither the 
pair betake themselves, be unclad. The next we see of the 
bird he is perched upon the topmost spray of yonder pear tree, 
with quivering wings, brim full of song. He is inspired. For 
a time, at least, he is lifted above the commonpldce. His 
kinship with the prince of song — with the Mocking Bird him- 
self, is vindicated. He has discovered the poetry of every-day 
life." 

The Catbird is among the earliest of our morning songsters. 
Often his notes may be distinctly heard before the dawn is 
appreciable to human eyes, and if watched afterward he may 
be seen flitting noiselessly from bush to bush, with a nervous 
energy that expresses more than almost anything else the de- 
liciousness of the summer morning hours. His melody is 
scarcely inferior to that of any other member of his melodious 
family, notwithstanding so great an authority as the careful, 
attentive Wilson says : ' 'His notes are more remarkable for sin- 
gularity than for melody. " Perhaps the distinguished ornithol- 
ogist's penchant for playing practical jokes upon this very 
excitable and demonstrative bird deprived him of his best op- 
portunities for taking in the fullest capacities of his song. He 
says that he sometimes amused himself, in passing through the 
woods, with imitating the violent chirping or squeaking of 
young birds, in order to observe what different species were 
around him, and says, "for such sounds at such a season in the 
woods are no less alarming to the feathered tenants of the 
bushes than the cry of tire or murder in the streets is to the 
inhabitants of a large and prosperous city. 

"On such occasions of alarm and consternation, the Catbird 
is the first to make his appearance, not singly but sometimes half 
a dozen at a time flying from different quarters to the spot. 
At this time those who are disposed to play with his feelings 
may almost throw him into fits, his emotion and agitation are 
so great at the distressful cry of what he supposes to be his 
suffering young. Other birds are variously affected, but none 
show symptoms of such extreme suffering. He hurries back- 
wards and forwards with hanging wings and open mouth, call- 
ing out louder and faster, and actually screaming with distress, 
till he appears hoarse with his exertions. He attempts no 
offensive means, but bewails, implores, in the most pathetic 
terms with which nature has supplied him, and with an agony 
of feeling which is truly affecting. Every feathered neighbor 



412 NOTES ON THE 

within hearing hastens to the place, to learn the cause of the 
alarm, pressing about with looks of consternation and sympa- 
thy. At any other season the most perfect imitations have no 
effect upon him." 

His mocking powers are considerable, but I think them over- 
rated, or rather, their intentional employment is less than gen- 
erally claimed by writers. This variety involves fragments of 
what a lively imagination may so interpret, but closer observa- 
tion will find them to be legitimately his own by inheritance, 
and strung with approximate regularity upon the rosary of his 
exquisitely varied and beautiful song. If I am unduly preju- 
diced in his favor I shall be pardoned when I say that after a 
long life of enthusiastic observations of the birds, I have met 
no species thought to be so well-known that appears to me to 
be so little known. His life is a perpetual testimony, tested by 
a practical experience of his own, that "a little (ornithological?) 
knowledge is a dangerous thing." He is the victim of a ruth- 
less, unreasonable prejudice that appears to have sprung from 
his overweening attachment to man which makes him most com- 
mon, especially in his rural habitations. To this add the fact 
that generations have slept away the ante- auroral hours of his 
choicest melodies, and gone to their final rest declaring him 
devoid of song because, forsooth, they have only heard his 
harsh calls of warning and caution to his young and recently 
enlarged family in the proximity of possible danger, or his 
unassuming, fatherly mew, which has doomed him to his name 
of Catbird. 

His notes from the top of some bush, ten to twenty feet in 
hight, rolled out into the air of the fresh dewy gray dawn, are 
not as loud, nor his strains quite as systematically varied as 
those of the Thrasher, but they are in individual cases at least, 
much sweeter and astonishingly refined in every quality. I 
have never yet engaged the companionship of a connoisseur in 
listening to this despised bird who has not shared to the utmost 
my rapturous delight while acknowledging his patent prejudice. 

I do not quite agree with Wilson in his explanation of the 
causes which have generated so much dislike to this species, 
yet accept them as sharing in them. 

The Catbirds mostly disappear about the first week in Octo- 
ber, although I have occasionally seen stragglers as late as 
November. There is no considerable portion of the timbered 
or the brushland regions of the State but what harbor them in 
considerable numbers. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 413 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Third quill longest; first shorter than the sixth; the pre- 
vailing color dark plumbeous; tail greenish-black; the lateral 
feathers obscurely tipped with plumbeous; the under tail cov- 
erts dark brownish-chestnut. 

Length, 8.85; wing, 3.65; tail, 4; tarsus, 1.05. 

Habitat, eastern United States and British Provinces, includ- 
ing Rocky Mountains. 

HARPORHYNCHUS RUFUS (L.). (705.) 

BROWN THRASHER. 

The Brown Thrush like the Robin, must have arrived during 
exceedingly rough weather if he escapes the instantaneous 
recognition of the waiting, vigilant observer of the migration 
of the birds. Under all ordinary circumstances, he will 
announce his presence unmistakably by mounting the top-most 
limb of some isolated tree, and pouring forth his clear, strong, 
liquid song in a prolonged strain, embracing twenty or more 
elementary modulations, rearranging their order at each voluble 
repetition. The air seems literally burdened with his melody. 

All creation is summoned to witness his joy that he has once 
more reached the very spot in all the earth wherein he would 
spend the golden summer in rearing a new family of his own. 
There is however considerable difference in the strength and 
sweetness of different birds of the species, a fact as patent to 
other species of wild bird warblers as to domestic songsters. 
This delightful bird is one of the most welcome of all the hosts 
which return to us in spring, but he is seldom heard after 
incubation has been completed, except by those whose ears are 
earliest open to the songs of birds in the mornings. About the 
third week in May they build their nests of twigs, leaves, 
strips of bark, and fibrous roots, and line them with fine roots 
and hair. The nests are deeply hollowed, and variously 
placed on the ground, or in a bush, a low evergreen, a brier 
patch, &c, but usually not more than four feet above the ground. 

They lay five eggs, of a pale-bluish color, thickly spattered 
with fine dots of reddish-brown. Two broods are successively 
brought out in a season as a rule, the latter of which is the 
first to leave us in the autumn. 

The parent birds are the last to depart, about the first week 
in October, yet a resolute few linger in occasional years a week 
or two later. 



414 NOTES ON THE 

Their food consists chiefly of worms, caterpillars, beetles, 
spiders, and various species of fruit and berries. Their more 
characteristic haunts are thick, low brush along the fences, 
which embrace an occasional isolated tree or sapling, brier 
patches, thickets of alders, sumach, &c, in flying from one to 
another of which, we catch glimpses of their long, ferruginous 
tails, spread broadly as they dash nervously out of sight, like 
culprits just escaped from some merited punishment. The 
note of caution, and of alarm in the presence of supposed 
danger, is a short, staccato chycl; repeated more or less fre- 
quently according to the measure of apprehensions awakened 

They are popularly known in different sections of the coun- 
try by various names amongst which are; Thrasher, Brown 
Thrasher, Brown thrush, and the French Mocking Bird, which 
readily suggest the use of scientific names for all natural 
objects, selected from dead, and therefore unchangable 
languages, common to all nations for scientific nomenclature. 

Wilson says of this favorite bird: "The Thrasher is a wel- 
come visitant in spring to every lover of rural scenery and 
rural song. In the months of April and May, when our woods, 
hedges, orchards, and cherry trees are one profusion of blos- 
som; when every object around conveys the sweet sensations of 
joy, and Heavens' abundance is, as it were, showering about us, 
the grateful heart beats in unison with the varying, elevated 
strains of this bird. We listen to its notes with a kind of 
devotional ecstasy, as a morning hymn to the great, and most 
adorable Creator of all. The human being who, amidst such 
scenes, and in such seasons of rural serenity and delight, can 
pass them with cold indifference, and even contempt, I 
sincerely pity, for abject must be that heart, and callous those 
feelings, and depraved that taste, which neither the charms of 
nature, nor the melody of innocence, nor the voice of gratitude 
or devotion can reach. " 

The Brown Thrush has a very wide distribution within our 
boundaries, where the conditions are suitable to their habits, 
but they have their limitations, so that I have visited consider- 
able sections in which they were unrepresented. Mr, Wash- 
burn found them common at Mille Lacs in July and August, 
but rare in the Red river valley a little later. All of my cor- 
respondence reports thei^^ essentially common and breeding 
abundantly. 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 415 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Fifth quill longest; third, fourth, and sixth, little shorter; 
second equal to ninth; exposed portion of the bill shorter than 
tlcie head; outline of lower mandible straight; above, light cin- 
namon-red; beneath, pale rufous, white with longitudinal 
streaks of dark-brown, excepting on the chin, throat, middle 
of belly, and under tail coverts; these spots anteriorly are 
reddish-brown in their terminal portion; the inner surface of 
the wing, and the inner edges of the primaries, cinnamon; con- 
cealed portions of quills otherwise, dark- brown; median and 
greater wing coverts, blackish -brown towards the end, followed 
by white, thus producing two conspicuous bands; tail feathers 
all rufous, the external ones obscurely tipped with whitish 
the shafts of the same color as the vanes. 

Length, 11.50; wing, 4.15; tail, 5.20; tarsus, 1.30. 

Habitat, eastern United States and west to the Rocky Moun- 
tains. 



THRYOTHORUS LUDOVICIANUS (Latham). (718.) 
CAROLINA WREN. 

I had no expectation of ever seeing this bird in Minnesota, 
but it is well identified now, although exceedingly rare. My 
first was obtained in the immediate vicinity as far back as 1868, 
since when it has been taken in several remote localities, but 
I have no knowledge of its breeding here. That it does scar- 
cely admits of a doubt, for its observation embraces all the 
months from May to August, arriving about the 12th of the 
former month and retiring about the 25th of the latter. Mr. 
Holsinger reports it as obtained at Dodge Centre, and is in his 
list of birds of Winona county. Mr. Lewis reports it from 
Big Stone lake, and several others have been sent to the local 
taxidermists from different sections for mounting. Yet it 
must be still held as very rare, although not quite a straggler. 

SPECIFIC CHAKACTERS] 

f§ Exposed portion of the bill shorter than the head. Above 
reddish -brown, most vivid on the rump; a whitish streak over 
the eye, bordered above with dark-brown; throat whitish, rest 
of under parts pale- yellow rusty, darkest toward the under 
tail coverts, which are conspicuously barred with black. Ex- 
posed surface of the wings and tail (including the upper cov- 
erts) barred throughout with brown outer edges of the tail 
feathers and quills showing series of alternating whitish and 
dusky spots. Legs flesh colored. 

Length, 6; wing, 2.60; tail, 2.45. 

Habitat, eastern United States, west to the Plains. 



416 NOTES ON THE 

THRYOTHORUS BEWICKII (Audubon). (719.) 
BEWICK'S WREN. 

Arrives in Minnesota generally about the 20th of April, but 
varies materially with the seasons. It is a very sweet singer, 
although not equal to the House or the Carolina Wren. 

About the 20th of May, but not infrequently somewhat 
earlier, they build their nests in stumps, knot holes in the 
trees, hollow logs, etc., of the same materials as the other 
wrens employ, and lay from five to seven white eggs, speckled 
with light shades of brown, which are most numerous about 
the larger end. While this species occasionally visits our 
shrubbery and berry bushes of our gardeners, it is essentially 
a denizen of the forest, especially the brushland borders, in 
the vicinity of streams of water and lakes. Of the identity of 
this species there is not the shadow of a question, but of its 
relative representation there is considerable. As far back as 
1874, it was not unusual in my experience to bag two or three 
of them in a few hours general collection, and subsequently in 
company with Mr. W. L. Tiifany (to whom I have elsewhere 
referred) spend several hours in extensive comparisons. Few 
of my correspondents report this wren, and I cannot regard it 
as quite as common as I believed it would be found. It is, 
however, a well represented and fairly distributed species in 
many of the timbered sections. They retire southward by the 
10th of September in ordinary seasons. 

SPECIFIC CHARACTERS. 

Bill shorter than head; tail longer than wings, much grad- 
uated; upper parts rufous brown, beneath plumbeous white; a 
white streak over the eye, the feathers edged above with 
brown; exposed surface of wings and innermost tail feathers 
closely barred with dusky; remaining tail feathers mostly 
black, barred or blotched with white at tips, and on the whole 
outer web of the exterior feather and under tail coverts. 

Length, 5.50; wing, 2.25; tail, 2.50. 

Habitat, eastern United States to Plains. 

TROGLODYTES AEDON Vieillot. (721.) 
HOUSE W^REN. 

Notwithstanding the tendency of the systematists in the 
literature of American Ornithology to keep the typical House 
Wren restricted to more eastern limits, I am able to assure them 
that it is a regular summer resident of Minnesota. I have so 



BIRDS OF MINNESOTA. 417 

reported it long since, and am unable to understand the reasons 
why they persist in thus restricting it. I cheerfully concede 
that the variety parkmanii (if well made, which I seriously 
question) is the more abundant, but judged by all the shades 
and measurements upon which it is maintained, the two grade 
completely into each other oftentimes, in a half dozen indiv- 
iduals comprised in the collections of a morning's basket. 
Birds, eggs and nests, obtained within a few feet of each 
other, and within the present city limits, have thrown all pre- 
conceived distinctions out, not once only, but repeatedly. 
Still I have thought best to follow the decrees, and record my 
observations accordingly. 

The House Wren is first seen in spring about the 25th of 
April, but he is generally heard first. Having long kept a 
record of his first appearance, which puts me on the alert for 
his sudden denouement, he could scarcely escape my notice, for 
some of them at least never fail to resort to the roof of a dwel- 
ling which if not my own, is not beyond the reach of my ear, 
when the matchless little torrent of melody once breaks its 
resorvoir, and inundates the entire vicinity. I have been 
favored by its ultimate selection of my own premises, within 
the boundaries of which to construct its nest, and rear its 
young. This is begun as early as the 10th of May in favorable 
seasons. Almost uniformly it is located about the eaves, or 
gables of the house, or barn, as almost any other situation 
would expose it to the maraudings of t