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Book Jl __ 







Ornithologist to the Massachusetts State Board of 


Published under Direction of 

The Massachusetts State Board' of Agriculture, 

BY Authority of the Legislature. 


MAY 7 1907 
D. OF D. 

printed by 

Wright & Potter Printing Company, State Printers, 

Boston, Massachusetts. 

CommonmcalKjt of plassac^usttls. 

Resolves of 1905, Chapter 51. 

A Resolve to puovide fou imjepauino and puixtixo a special 
REPORT ox the birds oe the (jommox wealth. 

Resolved, That there be allowed and paid out of the treasury of the 
Commonwealth a sum not exceeding;' tliree thousand dollars for prepar- 
ing and 2)rintinii\ under the direetion of the state l)oard of agrieulture, in 
an edition of five thousand eoi)ies, a special report on tlie l)irds of the 
Commonwealth, eeonomieall}^ considered, to include tlie facts relating- 
to the usefulness of birds and the necessit\' for their i)rotection already 
ascertained by the ornithologist of the state ijoard of agriculture, to be 
distriljuted as follows : — Two copies to each free pul)lic library in the 
Commonwealth; two copies to each liigii school, and two copies to such 
schools in towns which have no high school as the school committee 
may designate ; one copy to the library of congress, and one copy to 
eacli state or territoi'ial library in the United States ; twenty-five copies 
to the state lil)rary ; five copies to the governor ; two copies to the lieu- 
tenant governor and each memljer of the couut-il ; two copies to the 
secretary of the Commonwealth ; two copies to the treasurer and re- 
ceiver general ; two copies to the auditor of accounts ; two copies to the 
attorney- general, and one copy to each meml^er of tlie present general 
court applying for the same ; the remainder to be distributed under the 
direction of the state board of agriculture. [Ai^proved April 14, 1905. 


In preparino; and submittino: this report the fact has been 
kept in mind that the material prosperity of the state and 
nation depends very largely on agricultural pursuits. An 
attempt has been made, therefore, to make the volume ser- 
viceable to both agriculturist and horticulturist. The author 
of this report believes, with Townend Glover, that an ac- 
quaintance with the useful birds of the farm is as important 
to the farmer as is a knowledge of the insect pests which 
attack his crops. Those who open this volume expecting 
to lind within its covers a guide to the l)irds, a manual 
for the collector, or a systematic account of the birds of 
Massachusetts, will be disappointed, for its scope is chiefly 

The plan of the report as outlined before the legislative 
committees has been followed to the letter. 

In undertaking the work, the author has attempted to 
counteract in some measure the eft'ects of some })hases of 
modern civilization and intensive farming which operate to 
destroy or drive out the birds ; and it is hoped that the book 
will be of some service as a source of useful information for 
the bird protectionist. As no report prepared with such a 
purpose can exert nuich influence unless widely read, it has 
been written in a popular style, with little scientific verbiage. 

A part of the material was prepared between the years 
1891 and 1900, during the authors experience as field di- 
rector for the State Board of Agriculture in the work of 
destroying the gipsy moth. Chapters I. and II. are partly 
composed of revised and rewritten portions of papers pub- 
lished during that time. Chapter III. is based largely on 
observations made during that period In' two faithful, capable 
workers, — Messrs. C. E. Bailey and F. H. Mosher. Owing 


to Mr. Bailey's untimely death and Mr. Mother's occupation 
in a new field, it was deemed best to pu))lish some of the 
field notes of these observers with little editing, in order to 
avoid any possible distortion of their evidence. 

In presenting in Chapter I. some of the evidence, given by 
the earlier writers, regarding the utility of birds as protectors 
of crops and trees, it has been necessary to use such material 
as was obtainable. No carefully guarded experiments or 
observations in this direction were made until the latter part 
of the nineteenth century, and it is only recently that scien- 
tific investigators have been employed in this little-known 
field. It is not an alluring task for the scientist, in which 
his work brings him neither material reward, credit, nor 

That portion of the final chapter which treats of the means 
of attracting birds is drawn mainly from six years" experience 
at the author's home at Warehani, Mass. The first three 
chapters were mainly written there. Most authors quoted 
or cited in these chapters are given full credit. 

The remaining chapters, which are largely based on the 
author's own investigations and observations, were written 
and the proof was read while he was away from home, in the 
Avoods, or ti'avelling from place to place, often at a distance 
from any ornithological library. Under such circumstances 
it was impossible to quote verbatim, but in most cases authors 
are named when facts have been gathered from their writings. 

The averages of the components of the food of each species 
are taken mainly from the publications of the Bureau of Bio- 
logical Survey of the United States Department of Agricul- 
ture, except Avhere credit is otherwise given. 

Thanks are due to Dr. L. O. Howard, who has read 
critically that part of the introduction devoted to insects, 
and the author is greatly indebted to him for information ; 
also, more than he can tell, to Mr. William Brewster for 
counsel and suggestions : and especially to Mr. J. A. Farley, 
who read a large part of the manuscript. 

The limited time at the author's disposal has prevented 
such painstaking revision and abridgment of the manuscript 


as would be required to attain the highest literary excellence ; 
but both manuscript and proof were critically read by Mrs. 
A. Drew, whose work has added much to the appearance of 
the volume, and whose suggestions have been very valuable. 

Mr. F. H. Fowler has placed the author under great obli- 
gations by doing a large amount of clerical work, and giv- 
ing much assistance in his official position as lirst clerk and 
librarian of the State Board of Agriculture. 

The scientific ornithological nomenclature is that of the 
American Ornithologists Union. The grouping of birds 
according to their habitats (as birds of woodland, etc.) is 
based more on their food habits than on their choice of 
nesting sites. This classification is of necessity arbitrary, 
and not always consistent, for it is sometimes influenced by 
other considerations, such as are evident in the inclusion of 
the Whip-poor-will among birds of the air. 

The nomenclature of plants is mainly that used by Britton 
and Brown in their Flora of the Northern United States, 
Canada, and the British Possessions, except in some cases 
where Dr. Judd or other authors are quoted. That of insects 
has been derived from various sources at different times, 
and for this reason some of the scientific names are not the 

In the original plan of the report no descriptions of species 
were included ; but the suggestion was made by Mr. J. A. 
Farley that it would be useless to descant to a man on the 
usefulness of the Chickadee if he did not know the bird. 
The brief, untechnical descriptions of bird, nest, eggs, and 
bird notes, and the illustrations of the species, are all in- 
tended as helps to identification. The descriptions of birds 
are calculated merely to call attention to the principal colors 
and marks that serve to identify birds afield. Brief descrip- 
tions of haunts, habits, and manners are also given, as guides 
to identity. 

A species that is found throughout the year within the 
limits of the State is denominated a resident. No attempts 
have been made to give fixed dates of arrival and departure, 
for these vary somewhat in different parts of the State, as 

viii PREFACE. 

well as in different seasons ; but the months in which each 
species is most commonly seen are given. For example, 
the season for the Tree Swallow is given as April to Septem- 
ber ; but no mention is made of the fact that it sometimes 
ap].)ears in small numbers in March ; neither is it stated that 
this bird has been seen in tlocks in southeastern Massachu- 
setts in late October and even in November, for such occur- 
rences are unusual. It may be taken for granted that most 
of the insect-eating birds that arrive in ]\hirch or April c(mie 
in the latter part of those months, while most of those that 
depart for the south in Septeml)er or October leave in the 
earlier weeks of their respective months. 

Our attempts to re})resent the songs of birds in printed 
syllables are not often of much assistance to the beginner, 
for they lack the variation, (juality, and expression of liird 
songs, and birds do not sing in sjdlables. Also, the imagi- 
nation of the writer often greatly affects these sjdlabic rendi- 
tions, as may be seen by comparing the various sentences 
attril)uted by different people to the White-throated Sparrow. 
Nevertheless, some such imitations of bird songs which are 
now accepted and are ([uite generally considered helpful are 
given in this report ; in other cases the author's own inter- 
pretations of well-marked bird notes are given. 

The line cuts of ))irds, nesting boxes, appliances, etc., are 
mainlv reproductions of the author's pen and ink sketches 
and drawings. The attitudes have l)een caught by sketch- 
ins the livino- birds alield ; but as most of the drawings were 
necessarily made in winter, the measurements and the details 
of markings were taken mainlv from bird skins. While this 
method does not give so good results as does the use of the 
dead bird, it obviates the necessity of killing birds for the pur- 
pose. The sketches for Figs. 19, 22, 23, and 25 were sug- 
gested by half-tone plates in American Ornithology. Figs. 
1, 27, 53, 71, 73, 71>, 1()1», 113-117, U2, and 143 were made 
from pen drawings by Lewis E. Forbush. The wood-cuts 
of insects were taken chiefly from Harris's Insects Injurious 
to Vegetation, Flint's Manual of Agriculture, and various 
pai)ers published by Dr. A. S. Packard whil(> serving as ento- 
moloo-ist to the Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture. 


Mr. C. Allan Lvford has oiven valuable assistance in takinof 
photographs illustrating bird feeding, nesting boxes, etc. 
The author is also greatly indebted to Messrs. C. A. and 
C. K. Reed for the use of half-tone plates from American 
Ornithology ; to Mr. Frank M. Chapman, the ^Massachusetts 
Commission on Fisheries and Game, ]\Ir. A. C. Dike, and 
others, to whom credit is given in the text or ca[)tions, for 
the use of photographs, half-tone plates, or cuts ; and to 
Messrs. AYilliam Brewster and Ralph Holman for the use of 
bird skins. Plates VI. and VII. are from I]. A. Samuels. 

The credit for the publication of this volume rightly be- 
longs to the State Board of Agriculture, which, through its 
secretary, introduced and advocated the resolve providing 
for preparing and printing ; to the Massachusetts Audubon 
Society, which supported the resolve before the Legislature ; 
to the various associations, officials, and friends who u})held 
the resolve ; and to those members of the House and Senate 
who were instrumental in securing the appropriation Avhich 
made possible the production of the report. For its many 
shortcomings the author alone is responsible. 



Introductory. — The Utility of Birds in Nature, .... 1 

Chapter I. — The Value of Birds to Man, 23 

Primitive Man's Relations to Nature, 23 

Changed Relations produced by Agriculture, 24 

Man at War with Nature in the New World 23 

Tlie Increase of Insect Pests, ......... 27 

The Number of Insects, .......... 28 

The Reproductive Capacity of Insects, 28 

The Voracity of Insects, .......... 30 

The Great Loss to American Agriculture by Insect Ravages, . . .31 

Losses by Insect Ravages in Massachusetts, ...... 36 

The Capacity of Birds for destroying Pests 40 

The Digestion of Birds, 40 

The Growth of Young Birds 42 

The Amount of Food required by Young Birds, . . . .44 

The Time required for Assimilation of Food, 49 

The Number of Lisects eaten by Young Birds in the Nest, . . 51 

The Amount of Food eaten by Adult Birds, 57 

Birds save Trees and Crops from Destruction, ..... (53 

The Increase of Injurious Insects following the Destruction of Birds, . 72 

The Destruction of Injurious ]SIammals by Birds, ..... 7(5 

The Value of Water-birds and Shore Birds, 80 

The Commercial Value of Birds, ........ 81 

The ^T^^sthetic, Sentimental, and Educational Value of Birds, . . 85 

Chapter II. — The Utility of Birds in Woodlands, .... 90 

The Relations of the Bird to the Tree, 91 

The Forest Planters 92 

The Influence exerted by Birds and Squirrels on the Succession of 

Forest Trees, 96 

The Tree Pruners 99 

The Guardians of the Trees, 100 

Chapter III. — Birds as Destroyers of Hairy Caterpillars and 

Plant Lice Ill 

Chapter IV. — The Economic Service of Birds in the Orchard, . 149 

Chapter V. — Song Birds of Orchard and Woodland, . . . 155 

Woodland Thrushes 155 

Kinglets 160 

Nuthatclies and Tits 163 


Chapter V. — Sung Birds of Orchard and Woodland — Con. page 

Creepers, ............. 177 

Thrashers and Mockingbirds, ......... 178 

"Warblers 185 

Vireos, 203 

Waxwiiigs, 209 

Tanagers, 211 

Finches, Grosbeaks, and Towhees, 215 

Blackbirds, Grackles, Orioles, etc., ........ 224 

Chapter VI. — S(jn(;less Birds of Orchard and Woodland, . . 229 

Flycatchers, 229 

Hummingl)irds, . . . . . . . . . . . 240 

Woodpeckers, ............ 2iS^ 

Cuckoos, Kingtishers, etc., ......... 2(32 

Grouse, Partridges, etc., .......... 266 

Chapter VII. — The Utility of Birds in Field and Garden, . . 275 

Chapter VIII. — Birds of Field and Garden, 282 

Thrushes and their Allies, 282 

Wrens 292 

Sparrows, 294 

Blackbirds, Grackles, etc., 312 . 

Pigeons and Doves, ........... 323 

Grouse, Partridges, etc., .......... 325 

Phea.sants, ............ 332 

Snipe, Sandpipers, Woodcock, etc., ....... 334 

Chapter IX. — Birds of the Air 339 

Swifts 340 

Nighthawks, Wliip-poor-wills, etc., 341 

Swallows, 343 

Chapter X. — Birds of Marsh and Waterside, ..... 349 

Perching Birds, ........... 349 

Rails, 3.50 

Herons, 351 

Water-fowl, 353 

Chapter XI. — Checks upon the Increase of Useful Birds, . . 354 

The Destruction of Birds by Man, 356 

The Natural Enemies of Birds, ........ 3()1 

Introduced Four-footed Enemies, . 3()2 

Cats 362 

Native Four-footed Enemies, ......... .364 

S(iuirrels 364 

Rats and Mice, 3()6 

Feathered Enemies, . 366 

Hawks, 'Mi 

Owls, 3(i7 

Crows and Jays, 3()8 

VON TENTH. xiii 

Chapter XI. — Checks upon the Increase of Useful Birds — Con. page 

Featliered Enemies — Con. 

The House Sparrow, .......... 370 

Sl"'ikes, ■ .... 370 

Other Bird Enemies, _ 37^ 

Rejitilian Enemies, .....,.,.. 371 

Fi^''' 371 

Chapter XII. — The Protection of Birds, 372 

Metliods of attracting Birds, 373 

Feeding and Assembling the Winter Birds, 377 

Attracting tlie Summer Birds, ........ ,S84 

Providing Nesting Places aViout Buildings, 3jj(j 

Bird Houses and Nesting Boxes, ....... 388 

Furnishing Nesting Material, 398 

Feeding the Summer Birds, 39;) 

Attracting Water-fowl, 


The Protection of Birds against their Natural Enemies, .... 403 

The Protection of Farm Products from Birds, 41O 

To in-otect Grain from Crows and Other Birds 411 

To protect Small Fruits 4J2 

To protect Chickens from Hawks and Crows 412 

General Protective Measures 4j3 

Game Protection, •••...... 414 

Measures and Legislation necessary for tlie Protection of Game and 

Birds, ^J5 

Artificial Propagation of Game Birds 417 

The Movement for Bird Protection, 4jg 

Papers on Ornithology, published by the Massachusetts State Board of 

Agriculture, •••...... 4''i 

Index ,.,0 

List of illustrations. 


Figure 1. — The Arcluoopteiyx, 5 

Figure 2. — Ground Beetle, .......... 9 

Figure 3. — Cutworm, . . . . . . . . . . .11 

Figure i. — Noctuid Moth, 11 

Figure 5. — Fly and its Larva 14 

Figure 6. — Chestnut Beetle or Weevil, ....... 14 

Figure 7. — Caterpillars, the Larv.e of Butterflies, 14 

Figure 8. — Pupa- or Chrysalids, l.T 

Figure 9. — Predaceous Beetle, the Lion Beetle or Caterpillar Hunter, . 18 
Figure 10. — Predaceous Beetle, a Tijj,er among Insects, . . . .18 

Figure 11. — Hymenopterous Parasite, ....... 18 

Figure 12. — Host Caterpillar -nith Cocoons of a Parasite upon its Back, . 19 

Figure 13. — Tiger Beetle, 19 

Figure 14. —Chinch Bug, 27 

Figure 15. — Colorado Potato Beetle, 29 

Figure 16. — Hessian Fly, 33 

Figure 17. — Alimentary Canal of Bluebird, ...... 41 

Figure 18. — Young Cedar Bird on its First Day, 42 

Figure 19. — Young Cedar Birds less than Three Weeks old, . . .43 

Figure 20. — Young Grouse, ......... 43 

Figure 21. — Young Woodcock, ......... 44 

Figure 22. — Young Bohins, ......... 44 

Figure 23. — Yoiuig Crows, .......... 49 

Figure 24. — I'assenger Pigeon feedmg by Regurgitation, . . . .52 

Figure 25. — Chijiping Sparrow feeding Young, ...... 55 

Figure 26. — Yellow-throat catching Birch Aphids, . . . . .63 

Figure 27. — Western Cricket, ......... (iS 

Figure 28. — (Julls saving Crops by killing Crickets, ..... 66 

Figure 2t). — Warblers destroying Plant Lice, ...... 71 

Figure 30. —The Winged Seed of White Pine, 92 

Figure 31. — A Forest Planter, 94 

Figure 32. —Buffed Grouse, " budding," 99 

Figure 33. — The Diligent Titmouse, 101 

Figure .34.— Winter Tree Guards, . 104 

Figure 35. — Destructive Bark Beetle, 107 

Figure .36. — Woodpecker hunting Borers, ....... 107 

Figure 37. — Larva of the Cecropia Moth, 110 



Figure 38. — Woolly Bear Caterpillar, 

Fku'Re 39. — Yellow Bear Caterpillar, . 

FKiUKK 40. — Caterpillar of the "White-marked Tussock 

Figure 41. — Web of the Brown-tail Moth Caterpillar, 

Figure 42. — Nashville Warbler, .... 

Figure 4:>. — Caterpillar of the Brown-tail Moth, 

Fkutre 44. — Warblers feeding on Young Caterjiillars 

Figure 4.5. — Egg- Cluster of the Gipsy Moth, 

Figure 4(i. — Wilson's Thrush, .... 

Figure 47. — Wood, .... 

Figure 4.S. — Golden-crowned Kinglet, 

Figure 4i). — Chickadee, ..... 

Figure ."jO. — Eggs of the Tent Caterpillar Moth, 

Figure ,51. — Codling Moth, Parent of the Apple Wor 

FKiURE 52. — Fall Cankerwonn Moth, . 

Figure 53. — Apple Twig with Eggs of the Cankerwor 

Fkjure 54. — White-breasted Nuthatch, 

Figure .55. — Nuthatches, 

Figure 5(5. — Wood-boring Beetle, 

Figure .57. — Red-brea.sted Nuthatch, . 

Figure 58. — Brown Creeper, 

Figure 59. — Brown Thrasher, 

Figure 60. — Catbird, .... 

Figure Ul. ^Northern Yellow-throat, . 

Figure ()2. — Gven-bird and, 

Fkjure 63. — Black and White Warbler, 

Figure ()4. — Chestnut-sided Warbler, . 

Figure ()5. — Yellow Warbler, 

Fi(iURE ()6. — American Redstart, 

FiciURE (i7. — Black-throated Green Warbler, 

Figure ()8. — Pine Warbler, . 

Fkuire 69. — Myrtle Warbler, 

Figure 70. — Woolly Apple Tree Aphis, 

Figure 71. — Red-eyed Vireo, 

Figure 72. — Warbling Vireo, 

Figure 73. — Yellow-throated Vireo, 

Figure 74. — Cedar Bird, 

Fkjure 75. — Passing the Cherry, . 

Figure 76. — fiood Work in the Orchard, 

Figure 77. — Scarlet Tanagers and Gipsy INIoth C 

Figure 78. — Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Male, 

Figure 79. — Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Female, 

Fkjure 80. — Towhee 

Figure 81. — Purple Finch, .... 
Fkjure 82. — American Goldfinch, 

of th 



e Gipsy Moth, 

m ISIoth, 






Figure 80. — Baltimore Oriole, 

Figure 84. — Pea Weevil, 

Figure 85. — Tent Caterpillars, Eggs, and Cocoon 

Figure 8(). — Click Beetle, .... 

Figure 87. — Cucumber Beetle and Curculios, 

Figure 88. — Gii)sy Moth, Male, . 

FnaiRK 8ii. — Cankerworm, .... 

Figure !M;». — Wood Pewee, .... 

Figure 91.— Tortricid Moth, 

Figure 92. — Tussock Moth, 

Figure !i;>. — Ph(fbe, 

Figure 94. — ^loth of Spring Cankerworm, . 

Fkjure 9."). — Wood-boring Click Beetle, 

Figure 9(5. — Broun-tail Moth, 

Figure 97. — Khigbird, .... 

Figure 98. — Cetonia Beetle, 

Figure 99. — May Beetle, .... 

Figure 100. — Hummingbirds about Two Weeks old, 

FiciURE 101. — Hummingliird feeding Young, 

FiciURE 102. — Young Hummingbirds nearly fledged. 

Figure 103. — Skull and Tongue of Woodpecker, 

Figure 104. — Sjiearlike Tongue-tip of Downy Woodpecker 

FiciURE 105. — Pine Borer, 

Figure 10(). — Pales Weevil, 

Figure 107. — Cocoon of Codling Moth jiierced by Woodpecker, 

Figure 108. — Apple Tree Borer, . 

Figure 109. — Section of Young Tree .saved by Downy Wood pec 

Figure 110. — Downy Woodpecker and his Work, 

Figure 111. — Bark pierced by Downy Woodjiecker, 

Figure 112. — The Same, showing the Channels made by Bark Beetles 

Figure 113. — Pine Top killed by Pine Weevil 

Figure 114. — Tree ruhied for Timber by Pine Weevil 

Figure 115. — Section of Red Maple tapped for Sap, 

Figure 116. — A Similar Section, 

Figure 117. — Hairy Woodpecker, 

Figure 118. — Flicker, .... 

Figure 119. —Black-billed Cuckoo, 

Figure 120. — Caterpillar of the lo Moth, 

Figure 121. — Spiny Elm Caterpillar, . 

Figure 122. — Fall Web Worm, . 

Figure 123. — Red-humped Caterjiillar, 

FiciURE 124. — Tree Hoppers, 

Ficjure 125. — American Robin, . 

Figure 126. — White Grub, . 

Figure 127. — Bluebird, 





Figure 128. — The Bluebirds Bread 292 

Figure 129. — Indigo Bunting, Male, 298 

Figure 130. — Indigo Bunting, Female, 298 

Figure 131.— Song Sparrow, 299 

Figure 132. — Slate-colored Junco 301 

Figure 133. — Field Sparrow, 302 

Figure 13-1. — Chipping Sparrow, 303 

Figure 135. — Moth of the Tent Caterpillar 304 

Figure 1.36. — Chipping Sparrow.s hunting Beet "Worms, .... 304 

Figure 137. — Tree Sparrow 306 

Figure 138. — White-throated Sparrow, 307 

Figure 139. — Vesper Sparrow, 311 

Figure 140. —Crow Blackbird, 314 

Figure 141.— Meadowlark, 317 

Figure 142. — Red-winged Blackbird, Male, 319 

Figure 143. — Red-winged Blackbird, Female, 320 

Figure 144. — Bobolmk, Male, and Army Worm, 322 

Figure 145. — Bobolink, Female, 323 

Figure 146. — Bob- white, 325 

Figure 147. — The Morning Call, 327 

Figure 148. — Ruig-necked Pheasant, 332 

Figure 149. — Purple Martin, Male, 347 

Figure 150. — Purple Martin, Female, 348 

Figure 151. — Salt-marsh Caterpillar, ........ 349 

Figure 152. — Army Worm, 349 

Figure 153. — Swamp Sparrow, ......... 350 

Figure 154. — Italian Sportsman and his Decoy Owl, ..... 359 

Figure 1.55. — Blue Jay, 369 

Figure 1.5(i. — Northern Shrike, ......... ;^70 

Figure 157. — Seed Catkins of Gray Birch, ....... 374 

Figure 158. — Fruit of Virginia Juniper or Red Cedar, .... 377 

Figure 159. — Downy Woodpecker feeding on Suet, 380 

Figure 160.— The Birds' Christmas Tree, .381 

Figure 161. — The Birds' Tepee, .S82 

Figure 162. — Design for a Sparrow-proof Shelf, ...... .383 

Figure 163. — ^Ir. Chapnuxn's Bird Bath, ....... 386 

Figure 1<J4. — Phoebe's Nest in Box 388 

Figure 165. — Sparrow-proof Box, 389 

Figure KUi. — Birch-bark Nesting Box for Chickadees, .... 391 

Figure 1()7. — Shingle Box f(u- Bluebirds 392 

Figure 168. — Chickadees feeding Young in Observation Box, . . . 395 

Figure 169. —A Martin Box, 396 

Figure 170. — A Martin Barrel, 397 

Figure 171. — Zinc Bands to prevent Cats or Scpurrcls from climbing Trees 

or Poles, 410 



Wood Duck (Colored Plate) , 

Plate I. — The American Silkworm Moth, . . . . 

Plate II. — The Destructiveiiess of the Gipsy Moth, between 
Plate III. — Expensive Work of destroying the Eggs of the 

Gipsy Moth m Woodland Parks between 

Plate IV. — Red-eyed Vireo feeding Yoimg, 

Plate V. — Cliickadee, with Insects ui its Beak, 

Plate VI. —, 

Plate VII. — White-footed or Deer Mouse, 

Plate VIII. —A Useful Mouse-eating Owl, 

Plate IX. — Regurgitated Owl Pellets, 

Plate X. — The Same Pellets, di.s.sected, . 

Plate XI. — on Laysan Island, H. I.. 

Plate XII. — The Cecropia Moth, 

Plate XIII. — ^Web of Tent Caterpillar, which had been 

attacked by Birds, ....... 

Plate XIV. — Various Stages of tlie Brown-tail Moth, 
Plate XV. — Various Stages of the Gipsy Moth, 
Plate XVI. — General View of Georgetown Woodland, 
Plate XVII. — Pines, Oaks, and Other Trees, stripped by the 

Omnivorous Caterpillars of the <ripsy Moth, 
Plate XVIII.— Luna Moth, .... 
Plate XIX. — Least Flycatcher on Xest, . 
Plate XX. — Downy Woodpecker at Nest Hole, 
Plate XXI. — Ruffed Grouse on Nest, 
Plate XXII. — Ruffed Grouse, One Day old, . 
Plate XXIII. — Ruffed GroiLse, Four Months old, 
Plate XXIV. — Ruffed, strutting, 
Plate XXV. — Robin's in Hollow Tree, . 
Plate XXVI. — Robin on Nest, . 
Plate XXVII. — Wren at Nest Hole, 
Plate XXVIII. — Chipping Sparrows feeding tlieir Youn 
Plate XXIX. — American Woodcock, 
Plate XXX. — Nighthawk, .... 
Plate XXXI. — Whip-i)oor-will, 
Plate XXXII. — A Swallow Roost, . 
Plate XXXIII. — Nest Robbers, 
Plate XXXIV. — Work which drives out the Birds 
Plate XXXV. — Cat with Young Robin, . 

Plate XXXVI. — Barred Owl 

Plate XXXVII. — Blue Jay's Nest m Author's Grove, 

Plate XXXVIII. — Fruits that are valuable as Bird Food 

Plate XXXIX. — A Bountiful, 

Plate XL. — A Scratching Slied, 

Plate XLI. — Chickadee seen through Window, at Author's 

Home, ........... 


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144 ^ 
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229 ^ 
249 ' 
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341 '' 
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359 ■■' 

360 ' 

faces page 380 




Plate XLII. — Chickadees on Pork Rind, .... faces page 380 

Plate XLIII. — Ernest Harold Baynes taming a Chickadee, . faces ijage 381 
Plate XLIV. —Chickadee feeding from the Hand, . . . faces page 381 ' 
Plate XLV. — Chickadees seen on a Frosty ^lorning, through 

Author's Window, faces page 382 - 

Plate XLVI. — A Red-breasted Nuthatcli at the Window, . faces page 382 •'' 
Plate XLVII. — Bird Houses and Nesting Boxes, . . . faces page 391 / 
Plate XLVTII. — Inexpensive Nesting Boxes, . . . . faces page 392 
Plate XLIX. — Chickadee about to enter its Nest, in an Old 

Varnish Can, faces page 392 ^ 

Plate L.— Owl Box, at Author's Home, . . between pages 394 and 395 / 

Plate LI. — Owl on Nest, between pages 394 and 395 / 

Plate LII. — Chickadee's Nest, made of Cotton, in Box on 

Author's Window between pages 400 and 401 J 

Plate LIII. — Chickadee on Nest, . . . between pages 400 and 401 ^ 

Plate LIV. —Mother Chickadee bringing Food to Young, 

between images 400 and 401 
Plate LV. — Mother Chickadee cleaning Nest, between pages 4(30 and 401 

Plate LVI. — Domesticated Canada Goose on Nest, . . faces page 417 

Useful Birds and their protection. 



There is no sul)ject in the tield of natural .science that is 
of greater interest than the important position that the living 
bird occupies in the great phm of organic nature. 

The food relations of birds are so complicated and have 
such a far-reaching effect upon other forms of life that the 
mind of man may never be able fully to trace and grasp them. 
The migrations of birds are so vast and widespread that the 
movements of many species are still more or less shrouded 
in mystery. We do not yet know, for instance, just where 
certain common birds pass some of the winter months. Some 
species sweep in their annual flights from Arctic America 
to the plains of Patagonia, coursing the entire length of the 
habitable portion of a hemisphere. Man}- of the birds that 
summer in northern or tem})erate America Avinter in or near 
the tropics. Some species remain in the colder or temperate 
regions only long enough to mate, nest, and rear their young, 
and then start on their long journey toward the equator. 

The annual earth-wide sweep of the tide of bird life from 
zone to zone renders the study of the relations of birds to 
other living forms throughout their range a task of the 
utmost magnitude. This vast migration at once suggests 
the question. Of what use in nature is this host of winged 
creatures that with the changing seast)ns sweeps over land 
and sea? 

Our first concern in answering this question is to deter- 
mine what particular office or function in the economy of 
nature birds alone are fitted to perform. The relations 


they may bear to the unnatural and semi-artificial conditions 
produced by the agriculturist may then be better under- 
stood. The position occupied b}' birds among the forces of 
nature is unique in one respect at least ; their structure fits 
them to perform the office of a swiftly moving force of 
l)olice, large bodies of which can be assembled at once to 
correct disturbances caused hj abnormal outbreaks of plant 
or animal life. This function is well performed. A swarm 
of locusts appears, and birds of many species congregate to 
feed upon locusts. An irruption of field mice, lemminos, or 
gophers occurs, and birds of prey gather to the feast from 
far and near. 

This habit of birds is also serviceable in clearino- the earth 
of decaying materials, which otherwise might pollute both 
air and water. A great slaughter of animals takes place, 
and Eagles, Vultures, Crows, and other scavengers hasten to 
tear the flesh from the carcasses. A dead sea monster is 
cast u})on the shore, and sea birds promptly assemble to 
devour its wasting tissues. The gathering of birds to feed 
is connnonly observed in the flocking of Crows in meadows 
where grasshoppers or grubs abound, the assembling of 
Crows and Blackbirds in cornfields, and in the massing of 
shore birds on flats or marshes where the receding tide 
exposes their food. 

A study of the structure and habits of birds shows how 
Avell fitted they are to check excessive multiplication of 
injurious creatures or to remove offensive material. Birds 
are distinguished from all other animals hy their complex, 
feathered winos, — the oroans of ])erfect flisfht. 

The tremendous nmscular power exhibited by birds is only 
such as might be expected in creatures provided with such 
perfect respiratory, circulatory, and assimilative organs. The 
strength of birds as compared with that of man is enormously 
out of })roportion to their size ; but it is largely concentrated 
in the muscles that move the wings, for it is by flight that 
the bird is enabled to live. Xo other animals have such 
sustained })ower of flight or such perfect command over 
themselves while in the air. Even the bat, which is a most 
skillful flyer, being reniarkal)ly quick in aerial evolutions, 


cannot at its best equal the bird. I once saw a bat make 
seven attempts to catch a moth fluttering along the still sur- 
face of a moonlit river. A Swallow could have seized it at 
once with no pcrce})tible effort. No creature can equal the 
soarinof of the Eao-le or Vulture, or that of the Man-o'-War 
Bird as it sails on high above the storm ; while the speed 
that the Hummingbird attains is such that the eye can 
scarcely follow its most rapid flight. 

Birds are provided with wings to enable them ( 1 ) to pro- 
cure food, (2) to escape their enemies, (3) to migrate. 

All birds have wings, though a few, like the Apteryx, have 
them onl}^ in a rudimentary form. Others, like the Penguin 
and the Ostrich, have small wings, but cannot raise them- 
selves in the air. 

All birds that cannot fly, however, are reminders of a past 
age, and are not fitted to live on the same earth with man. 
Such birds are either already extinct or in a fair way to 
become so, either at the hands of man or at the teeth or 
claws of the dogs, cats, or other animals that man introduces. 
Flight alone might save the few that remain. The Great 
Auk, using its wings only in pursuing its prey under water, 
disappeared before the onslaught of the white man ; while 
the Loon, flying both under water and above it, still sur- 

Birds are pursued by many enemies. AVater-fowl fly to 
the water and dive to escape the Hawk or Eagle, and fly to 
the land to escape the shark, alligator, or pike. Sparrows 
fly to the thicket to elude the Hawk, and to the trees to 
avoid the cat. Evidently this great power of flight was gi\xni 
to birds to enable them not onh' to concentrate their forces 
rapidly at a given point, but also to pursue other flying 
creatures. Birds can pursue bats, flying squirrels, flying 
fish, and insects through the air. Bats and insects are their 
only competitors in flight. Comparatively few insects can 
escape birds by flight, and this they do mainly by quick 
dodging and turning. The speed at which birds can fly on 
occasion has seldom been accurately measured. The maxi- 
mum flight velocity of certain wild-fowl is said to be ninety 
miles an hour. Passena^er Pio-eons killed in the neio^hbor- 


hood of New York have had in their ero})s rice probably 
taken from the fields of the CaroHnas or Georgia, whicli 
indicates that within six hours they had flown the three or 
four liundred miles interv^ening, at about the rate of a mile 
a minute.^ 

The rate of flight of a species must be sufiiciently ra})id 
to enable it to exist, and so perform its part in the economy 
of nature . 

Birds find distant food bv the senses of sio^ht and hearinsf 
mainly. The sense of smell is not highly developed, but 
the other perceptive powers are remarkable. The perfection 
of sight in birds is almost incomprehensible to those who 
have not studied the organs of vision. The keen eye of the 
Hawk has become proverbial. The bird's eye is much larger 
in proportion to the size of its owner than are the eyes of 
other verteljrates. It is provided with an organ called the 
pecten, by which, so naturalists believe, the focus can be 
changed in an instant, so that the ])ird becomes nearsighted 
or farsiiJ-hted at need. Such provision for chanoing; the focus 
of the eye is indispensable to certain birds in their quick rush 
upon their prey. Thus the Osprey or Fish Hawk, flying 
over an arm of the sea, marks its quarry down in the dark 
water. As the bird plunges swiftly through the air its eye 
is kept constantly focussed upon the fish, and when within 
striking distance it can still see clearly its panic-stricken 
prey. Were a man to descend so suddenly from such a 
height he would lose sight of the fish before he reached the 
water. The Flycatcher, sitting erect upon its })erch, watch- 
ing passing insects that are often invisible to the human eye, 
in like manner utilizes the pecten in the perception, })ursuit, 
and capture of its prey. Most of the smaller birds Avill see 
a Hawk in the sky before it becomes visible to the human 
eye. The Vulture, floating on Avide wings in upper air, 
discerns his chosen food in the valley far below, and as he 
descends toward it he is seen l)y others wheeling in the dis- 
tant sky. As they turn to follow him they also are seen by 
others soaring at greater distances, who, following, are pur- 

' Aniorifan Ornithology, Wilson and Bonallurt(^ Vol. TV, pp. 310, 320. Evi- 
dentl.y a iiuotatiou from Audiihon'.s Ornithological Hio.nraphy. 


sued from afar by others still, until a feathered host con- 
centers from the sky upon the carrion feast. 

Birds are lower in the organic scale than the class of 
mammals which includes man, the four-footed animals, and 
even the seal and the whale. Birds are closely allied in 
structure to reptiles. The earliest bird known, the Archiv- 
opteryx, had teeth, 
two fingers on each 
wing, and a long rep- 
tilian tail adorned 
with feathers. Still, 
notwithstanding the 
comparatively 1 o w 
place which is given 
by the systematists 
to birds, their 
})hysical organiza- 
tion excels in some 
respects that of all 
other animals. They 
s u r p a s s all other 
vertel)rate animals 
in l)reatiiing power 
or lung capacity, as 
well as in muscular 
strength and activ- 
ity, ihe tempera- Fig. l. — The Arclu-eopteryx, a bird with teeth. Re- 
turn of tlie l)lof)fl 1^ stored from the Jurassic epocli. About one-flfth natural 
size; after Cliapnian. 

higher in birds than 

in other animals, and the circulation is more ra})id. To 
maintain this high temperature, rapid circulation, and great 
activity, a large amount of food is absolutely necessary. 
Food is the fuel Avithout which the brightly l)urning fires 
of life must grow dim and die away. Birds are, therefore, 
fitted for their function of aerial police not only by their 
powers of flight and perception, but also by their enormous 
ca[)acity for assimilating food. When food is plentiful, 
birds gorge themselves, accumulating fat in quantities. 
Shore birds frequently become so fat during the fall migra- 


tions that, when shot, their distended skins burst open 
when their bodies strike the ground. This accumulation of 
fatty tissue may aid to tide the birds over a season of 
scarcity, but the moment they need food they must seek 
it far and wide, if need be, as they cannot live long with- 
out it. Birds are not always the ethereal, care-free creatures 
of the poet's dream. In time of plenty, the joys of flight, 
of sunshine, of singing, of riding swinging boughs, or toss- 
ing to and fro on flashing waves, are theirs to the full ; 
but in times of scarcity, or when rearing their helpless 
young, their daily lives are often one continued strenuous 
hunt for food. Food, therefore, is the mainspring of the 
bird's existence. Love and fear alone are at times stronger 
than the food craving, .The amount of food that birds are 
capable of consuming renders them doubly useful in case of 
an emergency. 

The utility of birds in suppressing outbreaks of other an- 
imals by massing at threatened points is of no greater value 
in the plan of nature than is the perennial regulative influ- 
ence exerted by them individually everywhere as a cheek on 
the undue increase of other forms of life. 

He who studies living birds, other animals, or plants, and 
the relations which these living organisms bear to one 
another, will soon learn that the main eflbrt of each plant 
or animal is to preserve its own life and produce seed or 
young, and so multiply its kind. He will see, also, that the 
similar efforts of other organisms by which it is surrounded 
tend to hold its increase in check. 

The oak produces many hundreds of acorns ; and were 
each acorn to develop into a tree, the earth eventually would 
be full of oaks, for all other trees would be crowded out. 
But many animals feed on the acorns or the young seedlings ; 
other trees crowd out the young oaks ; caterpillars feed on 
the foliage ; other insects feed on the wood and bark, de- 
strojnng many trees ; so, on the average, each oak barely 
succeeds in producing another to occupy its place. 

Certain moths deposit hundreds of eggs in a season ; and 
were each (^gg to hatch and each insect to come to maturity 
and go on i)roducing young at the same rate, the entire earth 


in a few years would be caq)eted with crawling caterpillars, 
and the moths in flight would cover the earth like a blanket 
of fog. But under natural conditions the caterpillars that 
hatch from the eggs of the moth are destroyed by birds, 
mammals, insects, or other animals, by disease or the action 
of the elements, so that in the end only one pair of moths 
succeeds another. If every Rol^in should produce five young 
each year, and each Robin should live fifteen years, in time 
every square foot of land on this continent would be packed 
with Robins ; but the surplus Robins are killed and eaten 
h\ various other birds or by mammals, each striving to 
maintain itself; so that, eventually, the number of Robins 
remains about the same. 

Thus Ave see that, while birds, insects, other animals, and 
plants are constantly striving to increase their numbers, the 
creatures that feed u})on them operate continually to check 
this undue nuilti})lication. The HaAvk preys upon the smaller 
liirds and mammals. The smaller birds and mammals feed 
on insects, grass, seeds, leaves, and other animal and vege- 
table food, each virtually endeavoring to gain strength and 
increase the numbers of its race at the expense of other 
living organisms. ^ 

There is a competition among various dissimilar organisms, 
also, in seeking certain kinds of food. (Trazing mannnals, 
such as cattle, sheep, and deer, eat grass. Grass is eaten 
also by birds, mice, and insects. If any one kind of these 
creatures should be left without check, and become too 
numerous, it might consume the food supply of all. 

In the great struggle for existence, each })erpetuating 
form of life that we call a species is really an expansive 
force, that can be restrained and kept in its pro})er i)lace 
only by the similar expansive forces (other species) by 
which it is surrounded. It is as if the Avhole field of ani- 
mal and vegetable life consisted of a series of springs, each 
exerting a pressure in all directions, and each held in place 
only by the similar expansion of the springs surrounding it. 
This action and reaction of natural forces constitute Avhat is 
known as the balance of nature. Any serious disturbance 
of this balance is always fraught with serious consequences. 


All auinials and plants are sustained and nourished by 
air, water, and food. Food supplies the material for growth 
and development. Its abundance increases the energy and 
fertility of a species, — its ability to produce young abun- 
dantly. The study of the food and food hal)its of birds and 
other animals is of the utmost importance, for by this study 
alone we are enabled to trace their life relations to each 
other, to plants, and to man. Some progress has already 
been made in this study. We know in a general Avay the 
character of tlie food of some of the common birds of the 
United States ; but we know so little as yet of the food of 
the smaller mannnals, the reptiles, batrachians, manj- insects 
and other lower animals, that it is impossible to tell what 
may be the ultimate effect of the destruction of any one of 
these animals b}^ birds. 

On the other hand, no one can tell what grave and far- 
reaching results might follow the extermination of a single 
species of bird ; for it is jn-obalile that the food preferences 
of each species are so distinctive that no other could fill its 

Birds are guided l^y their natural tastes in selecting their 
food, unless driven b}" necessity. Of the food which suits 
their tastes, that which is most easily taken is usually first 
selected. In the main, species of similar structure and 
habits often choose similar food, but each species usually 
differs from its allies in the selection of some certain favorite 
insects. Were a species exterminated, however, its i)lace 
might be taken eventually by the combined action of many 
species, for nature always operates to restore her disturbed 

The complexity of the food relations existing between 
birds and other organisms may be indicated hypothetically 
by a brief illustration. The Eagles, larger Hawks, and Owls 
feed to some extent on Crows, and probably the nocturnal, 
trcc-climbing, nest-haunting raccoon also robs them of eggs 
and young ; otherwise, they seem to have very few natural 
enemies to check their increase. Crows feed on so many 
different forms of animal and vegetable life that they are 
nearW always able to find suitable food ; therefore they 
are common and widely distributed. 


The general fitness of the Crow is admitted by all. Un- 
doubtedly it has a useful work to perform in the world ; but 
a careful study of its food habits shows so many apparently 
harmful traits that it may well leave the investigator in some 
doubt as to the Crow's value in the general plan. Crows 
rob the nests of Robins, eating very many eggs and young 
birds ; they therefore constitute a serious cheek on the in- 
crease of this species. Robins feed largely on common black 
beetles, called ground beetles (Carabidi\3), which run about 
on the ground, hiding under stones and other ru])bish. As 
these beetles are not quick to fly by day, 
and are easily caught, they form a consid- 
erable part of the food of many ground- 
frequenting birds. But ground beetles 
feed, to a greater or less extent, on other 
insects. The question then arises, Is not 
the Robin doing harm in killing ground 
beetles, and does it not merit the destruc- 
tion of its eggs and young by the Crow? fj^. s.-G.mmd 
If the Robin's habit of eating these beetles '^eetie. 

is harmful, is not the Crow rendering a service by destroy- 
ing a bird so apparently destructive as the Robin ? Perhaps, 
if there were too many Robins, they might eat too many 
ground beetles, and thus become the indirect cause of the 
destruction of nmch vegetation, by saving the lives of the 
caterpillars and other harmful insects that the ground beetles, 
had they been left to themselves, might have destroyed.^ 

Many groinid beetles that are eaten by the Robin feed 
much on vegetable matter. ^ This makes these beetles doubly 
useful in one respect, for they can maintain their numbers 

^ These questions can be answered only by one having a thorough knowledge 
of the food of our ground beetles, — a knowledge which no living man yet pos- 
sesses ; but enough lias been learned to throw some light on their food habits. 
Insects that feed promiscuovisly on other insects are generally classed as bene- 
ficial in so far as they take bisect food, even though they may destroy some 
so-called useful insects; for, as the so-called injurious insects far outnumber the 
useful ones, it is considered safe to regard the habit of feeding on insects a bene- 
ficial one. 

^ The ground beetles of the genus Calosoma and those of some closely allied 
genera are believed to feed entirely on animal food, as their structure fits them 
for that alone. They feed ravenously upon both beneficial and injurious in.sects, 
and when too numerous they devour one another. These are not tlie beetles that 
are generally eaten by the Robin, however, but rather by the Crow. 


when insect food is not plentiful, and so be ready to check 
any increase of insects which may occur. On the other 
hand, if they become too numerous, they may create sericnis 
disturbances by destroying grass, grain, or fruit. I have 
witnessed attacks made by certain of these beetles on grain 
and strawberries ; and were they not held in check by 
birds, it is probable that they would soon become serious 
pests. Their destruction by Robins and other birds tends 
to keep these beetles within those normal bounds where 
they will do most good and least harm ; while the check 
kept by the Crow on the increase of the Robin may pre- 
vent the latter from destroying too many ground beetles. 
If certain low-feeding caterpillars became so numerous as to 
be injurious, ground beetles and Robins would feed largely 
on them. The caterpillars would then largel}^ take the place 
of the beetles in the Robin's food. The beetles, therefore, 
would increase in numbers, and the force of both bird and 
beetle would be exerted to reduce the caterpillars to their 
normal limit. This acconi})lished, the Robin would again 
attack the ground beetles, and thus tend to reduce them 
to normal numbers. 

Let us now go back to the beginning of our chain of 
destruction. The Eagles, Hawks, Owls, and raccoons may 
indirectly allow an increase in the number of Robins by 
preventing too great an increase of the Crow. But Hawks 
and Owls also i)rey on the Robin, and, l)v dividing their 
attention between Robin and Crow, assist in keeping both 
birds to their normal numbers. AVhenever Crows became 
rare, Robins as a consecjuence would become very numerous, 
were it not that the Hawks also eat Robins. (Hawks and 
Owls eat also some s})ecies of insects that are eaten by both 
Robin and Crow.) 

There are compensations in the apparently destructive 
career of the Crow. An omnivorous bird, it seems inclined 
to turn its attention to any food which is plentiful and readily 
obtained. It is a great feeder on May beetles (miscalled 
"June bugs"), the larvie of which, known as white grubs, 
burrowing in the ground, sometimes devastate grass lands 
and also injure the roots of many plants, including trees. 


The Crow is also a destroyer of cutworms. These arc 
the young or larvie of such uoctuid moths or " millers " 
as are commonly seen fluttering from the grass by any one 
who disturbs them by walking in the 
fields. Ro])ins also feed largely on 
cutworms, as well as on the white Fig. 3. — cutworm. 
grub of the May beetle. When these insects are few in 
number, a part of the usual food supplj^ of both Robin 
and Crow is cut ofl*. This being the case, the hungry 
Crows are likely to destroy more young 
Robins and other young birds than 
usual, in order to make up the su[)ply 
of animal food for themselves and their 
i^avenous nestlings. In a few years this 
Pig. 4.-Noctui.imoth. ^^.Q^j^i decrease perceptibly the number 

of Robins and other small birds, and would be likely in 
turn to allow an increase of ^lay beetles and cutworms. 
As these insects became more plentiful, the Crows would 
naturally turn again to them, paying less attention to the 
3'oung of Rol)ins and other birds for the time, and allowing 
them to increase once more, until their nmltipUcation put 
a check on the insects, when the (A'ows would of necessity 
again raid the Ro])ins, 

The Blue Jaj^ iii'iy be taken as another instance of this 
means of preserving the balance of nature. Hawks and 
Owls kill Blue Jays, Crows destroy their eggs and young ; 
thus the Jays are kept in check. Jays are omnivorous 
feeders. They eat the eggs and young of other l)irds, par- 
ticularly those of Warblers, Titmice, and Vireos, — birds 
which are active caterpillar hunters. But Jays are also 
extremely efficient caterpillar hunters. Thus the Jays 
compensate in some measure for their destruction of cat- 
erpillar-eating birds, ])y themselves destroying the cater- 
pillars Avhich they unconsciously have allowed to increase 
in numbers by destroying these ])irds. Like the C^row, 
they virtuaJJij kill the young of the smaller birds, and eat 
them, that they (the Jays) may eventually have more in- 
sect food for their own young. When this olyect has been 
attained, the Jays may again, perhaps, allow an increase of 


the smaller birds, the survivors of Avliich they have unwit- 
tingly furnished with more insect food, thus making con- 
ditions favorable for the increase of the smaller birds. 
These oscillations or alternate expansions and contractions 
in the numbers of l)irds or insects are usually so slight as 
to escape common observation. It is only in those cases 
where they are cari'ied to extremes that they result disas- 
trously. Under nature the checks on the increase of birds 
are essential, else they would increase in numbers until 
their food supply had become exhausted, when they would 
starve, and other consequences even more grave and much 
more complex would then follow. 

While these examples of the way in which the balance of 
nature is preserved may be regarded as somewhat hvpothet- 
ieal, they probably approximate what actually takes })lace, 
although the feeding habits of birds undoubtedly produce 
far more complicated results than are here outlined. 

It is a law of nature that the destroyer is also the protector. 
Birds of prey sa\'e the species on which they pre}' from 
overproduction and consequent starvation. They also serve 
such s})ecies in at least two other ways: (1) the more 
powerful bird enemies of a certain bird usually prey upon 
some of its weaker enemies; (2) these poAverful birds also 
check the propagation of weakness, disease, or unfitness, by 
killing otf the weaker or most unfit individuals among the, 
species on which they prey, for these are most easily captured 
and killed. 

AVe have seen already that Jays, which are enemies of 
the smaller birds, are preyed upon by the more powerful 
Crows, Hawks, and Owls. These latter also destroy skunks, 
weasels, squirrels, mice, and snakes, all of which are also 
enemies of the smaller birds. No doubt these animals would 
be much more injurious to the smaller ])irds were they Avith- 
out these wholesome feathered checks on their increase. 

In a state of nature, albino birds or those that are rendered 
conspicuous to their enemies by any unusual mark or color 
are soon captured by some bird of prey, and seldom live to 
perpetuate their unfitness. 


All experience with domestic Pigeons, related to me by 
^Ir. William Brew.ster, will serve as proof of this state- 
ment. He had kept a flock of twenty-five or thirty Pigeons 
in confinement at Cambridge for many years. Under such 
protective domestication the individuals of the flock had 
assumed a variety of shades and colors. There were blue 
Doves, white Doves, and many pied individuals varying 
between the two extremes. He removed the flock to his 
farm in Concord, Avhere ihey were at liberty to roam at will 
during the day. Here they were attacked by Hawks, and 
in five years' time the white and pied ])irds were practically 
all weeded out, and the flock consisted of blue rock Doves 

The preservation of birds by the weeding out of sickly 
or wounded individuals did not escape the notice of Prof. 
Spencer F. Baird, who wrote : — 

It lias now l^een eonulusively showu, I think, that Hawks perform an 
imjjortant function in maintaining in good condition tlie stock of game 
birds, l)y capturing the weak and sickly, and thus preventing reproduc- 
tion from unhealth}- parents. One of the most plausible hypotheses 
explanatory of the occasional outbreaks of disease amongst the grouse 
of Scotland has been the extermination of these correctives, the disease 
being most virulent where the game keepers were most active in de- 
stroying what they considered vermin.' 

It appears, then, that under natural conditions the birds of 
prey destroy merely the unfit and surplus individuals of the 
species on Avliich they prej^ and do not, on the whole, reduce 
their numbers below what the land will support. 

The relations of birds to insects merit the most profound 
thought and stud}-. No one can study intelligently the eflect 
produced by birds upon insect life unless he first acquires 
some knowledge of the hal)its and transformations of insects, 
and is able to distinguish the so-called injurious and benefi- 
cial groups. A brief explanation here of the transformations 
of insects will ])ettcr enable the reader to understand the 
terms used later in describing them as food for birds. 

' Letter from Prof. Spencer F. Baird to Mr. J. W. Shorton, published in the 
Journal of the Cincinnati Society of Natural History, 1882, Vol. V, pp. 69, 70. 



Most insects emerge from eggs, which ordinarily are de- 
posited and fixed by the female parent in positions where 
. , the young will find suitable food in readiness 
i '^^^^ ^'*^ them when the eggs hatch. Some insects 
" J^ bring forth their young alive, but this is an 
Fig. 5. -Fly and exception to the general rule. The young 
its larva. insect that emerges from the egg is called the 
larva (plural, larvae). Some larvie are provided with short 
legs or feet, others have none that can be seen ; but all are 
without wings, and move about mainly by crawling. Their 
princi})al occupation is to feed. Some species, such as the 

Fig. 6. — Chestnut beetle or weevil, enlarged, n, larva or gnil), enlarged; 
h, young larva in dieetnut, natural size. 

leaf-eating caterpillars, rest during certain parts of the day ; 
others, like the larvae of flesh-fccding flies, apparently feed 
constantly. As all eat enormously and grow rapidly, they 
are capable, when in great numbers, of doing much harm or 
good, as the case may be. The larvw of flies are commonly 
called maggots or slugs, those of beetles are called grubs, 
and those of l)utterflies and moths are called caterpillars. 
Much of the injury 
done by insect pests 
is attributable to tiie 

larva? • although ^^S- 7. — caterpillars, the larviv of butterllies. 

some, like certain leaf-eating beetles, are injurious in the per- 
fect form. During the rapid growth of a larva the skin is 
shed several times, until full size is reached, when the next 
transformation is effected, and the larva becomes a pupa or 
chrysalis. Among the butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) 
the insect often spins I'roni within itself a thread, which it 
weaves into a case or i-ocoon which encloses it while in the 



pupal form. This .stao-e it passes witliout food and wliile 
fixed to some object. The pupa? or nymphs of some other 
insects, however, move about freely, as is the case with 
locusts, arasshoppers, and like insects ( Orthoptera ) . ^ 

The pupa finally throws 
oft* i t s o u t e r shell, a n d 
emerges a fuUj^ develoj)ed 
or perfect insect or imago 
with Avings ; although some 
insects which, like some 
birds, have lost the use 
of their wings, ne^'er fly.^ 
After the union of the sexes 
the female insect eventually 
deposits the eggs for the Fig. 8.-Pup:ror.hrys.nds. 

next generation. Thus we have four forms which insects 
assume : (1) the ^g^, (2) the larva, (o) the pupa or nymph, 
(4) the imago or })crfect winged insect. 

Practically all living animals of appreciable size, as well 
as most plants that are visible to the unaided eye, furnish 
food for certain insects. Other insects feed on dead animals, 
dead trees, or other decavins; animal or veo;eta])le matter. 
A certain larva has been known even to tunnel into marble. 
Those insects Avhich feed on live vegetation or living; animals 
are capal)le of doing great harm if they increase unduly ; 
while those that feed only on dead animals or dead and 
decaying vegetation can do only good in nature, although 
the}" may be injurious to man by destroying hides, furs, pre- 
served meats, or clothing. 

It is ditiicult to perceive the usefulness of those so-called 
injurious species which feed on the difterent parts of i)lants ; 
still, the larva; that eat the buds, the caterpillars that feed 

' 111 the ( )rthoptera tlic transformations are imperfect ; the larva' of grass- 
hopi)ers, for example, are provided with well-developed legs, and much resemble 
the imago or perfect insect, hut are without wiiigs. In this stage they are usually 
called nymi)hs. As they approach maturity they enter what is virtually an im- 
perfect pupal stage, but retain their sliape, limbs, and activity. They now show 
rudimentary wings, but it is only at maturity that they are capable of flight. 

- The Thysanura, or lowest order of insects, including " bristle tails," " spring 
tails." " fish moths," and the like, never become winged or develop any trace of 


on the leaves, the borers that attack the twigs, and the insects 
that destroy the bh)Ssoni or the fruit, all })robably, when in 
normal nuniliers, exert a useful influence by a healthful and 
necessary pruning, which at least does no injur}^ to the tree. 
It is onh'^ when these insects increase abnormally in numbers 
that they seriously injure or destroy many vigorous plants 
and trees. Diu-ing such outbreaks birds often come to the 
rescue of the trees. Birds feed very largely on such insects, 
and liy keeping down their excessive nuiltiplication perform 
a great service in the economy of nature. 

,llere the keen senses and remarkable flight powers pos- 
sessed by birds aid them in concentrating their forces innne- 
diately when and where they are most needed. The rule 
will bear repetition here that, other things being ecjual, birds 
will take such suitable food as is most })lentiful and most 
easily obtamed. This is especially true of the feeding of 
birds on insects, although there are some insects that are so 
protected b}' prickly spines or acrid secretions that few birds 
will eat them. Such are the caterpillars of the mourning- 
cloak butterfly (^EuvanesKa antloim) and the imagoes of the 
Colorado potato beetle {Doi'i/phom decpmliueata). 

Birds are quick to assemlile wherever in the woods the 
disappearing foliage denotes the presence of great numbers 
of destructive caterpillars, or Avhere patches of dead and 
dying grasses indicate that grubs are destroying the grass 
roots on meadow or prairie. Birds flock to such places to 
feed on the easily procured insects, and so take a prominent 
part in repressing such insect outbreaks. This is so Avell 
known as to be worthy of only passing mention here, were it 
not to in<|uire whether the birds that assemble in such locali- 
ties do not neglect their normal and special work of hold- 
ins: in check certain species elsewhere. If the Robin, for 
example, which feeds normally on such ground-frequenting 
insects as white grulis, cutworms, grasshoppers, March flies, 
and ground beetles, goes to the woods to feed on caterpillars, 
as is sometimes the case, does it negle<-t to devour any one 
of the insects on which it usually feeds, and so give this 
insect a chance to increase? If so, it would l)e merely sup- 
pressing- one outbreak and permitting another. But birds 


do not neglect any one element of their ordinary food in 
such cases. They neglect them all, both animal and vegetal, 
for the time being, and turn to the now abundant insect food 
that is more readily accessil)le. This I have observed in 
studying outbreaks of cankerworms, and Professor Forbes 
records a similar experience with birds feeding on canker- 

This apparently agrees with the experience of the forest 
authorities in Bavaria during the great and destructive out- 
break of the nun moth (Liparis monacha) which occurred 
there from 1889 to 1891. The flight of Starlings collected 
in one locality alone was credibly estimated at ten thousand, 
all busily feeding on the cater})illars, pujiiv, and moths. 
Enormous flights of Titmice and Finches were similarly 
eno-aijed. The attraction of Starlings to such centers lie- 
came so great that market gardeners at a distance felt their 
absence seriously.^ 

Evidently in such cases the l)irds, changing their usual 
fare entirely for the time being, remove their restraining 
influence from both useful and injurious insects, leaving one 
to exert its full force as a check on the other, until the urgent 
business of the serious outbreak of grasshoppers, caterpillars, 
or some other pest has been attended to ; then the birds 
return to their usual haunts and food, and exert the same 
repressive influence as before. 

Although the insects Avhich are })()tentially injurious are 
greatly in the majority, there are many species which per- 
form a very apparent useful function in nature. Such are 
the bees and some of their allies of the order Hymenop- 
tera, — insects which travel from flower to flower in search 
of sweets, and, becoming loaded with pollen, fertilize the 
blossoms, rendering the trees fruitful. Other insects seem 
especially adapted to hold the potentially injurious species 
in check. Some which are called predaceous insects attack 
other insects and devour them, as do the groimd beetles 

' Tlie Regulative Action of Birds iii>on Insect Oscillations, by S. A. Forbes. 
lUilletin No. G, Illinois State Laboratory of Natural History, 1883, p. 21. 

- Protection of Woodlands, by Herman Fiirst. English edition, translated by 
John Nisbet, 18<j:?, p. 12(3. 



(Carabidfe) already mentioned, the tiger beetles (Cicinde- 
lidiv), the ladybirds (Coccinellidse), and many of the true 
bugs. Such insects are often miscalled parasites, but they 
do not merit this misnomer. 

The predaceous beetles are 
the wolves, lions, and tigers of 
the insect world. They hunt 
down their prey, pouncing 
upon it and killing it when 
found. Often these insects 
are so ravenous that they con- 
tent themselves with drawing: 
the life blood and other juices 
from their quarry, leaving the 
rest to be devoured by ants 
or other scavengers. While 
the larger predaceous beetles 
attack many of the larger insects, smaller species, such as 
ladybirds, assail other minute insects, such as the aphids 
or plant lice. 

The bugs are the vampires of the insect world, 
with a strong proboscis, the bug })ursues its 
prey, pierces it and sucks its juices, leaving it 
drained and lifeless ; but the so-called parasitic 
insects feed in a manner entirelj" ditlerent. 

Certain families of the Hymeno[)teva and 
Diptera contain parasitic genera and s})ecies. 
These insects rano-e in size from that of a larije 

Fig. 9. — Predaceous beetle; the lion 
beetle or caterpillar hunter. 


Fig. lO. — I're- 
daceous beetle; 
a tiger among 

wasp down tt) that of a small midge. j\Iost of 
them have the habit of depositing their eggs 
on, or in, the bodies of other living insects. 

Each ichneumon fly is armed with a long 
ovipositor, which operates somewhat like a 
hollow sting, by means of which it is en- 
abled to pierce the skin of the larvte of 
other insects and ])ass its eggs through the 
puncture, depositing them in the body tis- 
sues beneath the skin. These eggs soon 
hatch, and the young larvre, emerging from 

Fig. 11. — Hynienop- 
terous parasite. 
Imago, natural size 
und enlarged. 



Fig. 12. — Host caterpillar, with 
cocoons of the parasite upon its 

them, feed first upon the fatty portions of the caterpillar 
in which they find themselves. The caterpillar thus unwill- 
ingl}^ becomes their host, furnishing them with food and 
lodging from and within its own substance. When they 
have made their growth, and it is nearly time for them to 
pupate, they attack the vitals of their host, killing it, and 
then pupating either within or upon its body. Soon they 
emerge as i)erfect flies, the females 
again seeking other caterpillars as 
hosts for their progeny. Often 
these parasites do not kill their 
host until it has sought some place 
of safety and pupated. Every cat- 
erpillar or pu})a thus destroyed nourishes one or many of 
these parasites, to emerge and attack surviving caterpillars. 
The parasites themselves, however, are often attacked in the 
same manner by a secondary parasite, which destroys them 
precisel)' as the}^ destroyed the caterpillar. The larger pri- 
mary parasites may deposit a single e^g or only a few in 
each caterpillar, while the smaller ones may deposit the 
entire brood in the body of a single caterpillar. 

Birds eat both predaceous and parasitic insects. We have 
seen that they eat ground beetles, many of which are pro- 
vided with acrid secretions that are supposed to render them 
disagreeable and ofi'ensive to the taste, and so 
give them a certain immunity from their ene- 
mies. Evidently, however, it takes a very 
strong flavor to take the edge off" a bird's 
appetite, for birds eat bugs ; and any child 
who has ever eaten berries from the bushes, 
and inadvertentl}^ put one of the berry-eating 
bugs in his mouth, knows how disgusting their 
flavor is. There are some useful insects that 
are seldom eaten by birds. The very smallest 
are beneath the notice of most birds. The 
tiger beetles and some of the useful flies 
are so quick that birds find it difiicult to catch them. 
Wasps and bees, though eaten by some birds, can protect 
themselves very well with their stings. Probably, however. 

Pig. 13.— Tiger 
beetle; a useful 
for m , eaten 
by very few 


birds eat a great many caterpillars containing parasites, 
though birds will reject any caterpillars that show signs of 
weakness or disease. The question then arises, Is the bird 
doing harm by eating caterpillars or other larvae containing 
parasites? The bird certainly ends the destructive career 
of the larva at once. The parasites would have ended it 
eventually ; but had it been left to them, it might have gone 
on for some time in its destructive career, doing as much 
injury as if not })arasitized ; the parasite merely destroys it 
in time to prevent it from propagating its kind. So far the 
evidence is in favor of the bird. The (juestion remains, 
however, whether the bird and its young would eventually 
destroy more caterpillars than would the i)rogeny of the 
parasites had they not been eaten by the bird. This question 
evidently is unanswerable. Birds act as the primary check 
on the increase of destructive insects ; parasitic insects are 
the secondar}^ check i)rovided l^y nature to operate in con- 
junction with the birds, or to sup})lement the regulative 
action of birds where the number of birds is insufficient to 
check the increase of insects. 

Birds sometimes kill many of the imagoes of i)arasitic 
insects in flight, where such insects are numerous. At first 
sio-ht, this would seem to condemn the birds ; on further 
study, it seems probable that this is often a harmless habit. 
Where parasitic insects are found in great numbers, it is 
probable that the birds destroy mainly the surplus flies, 
which otherwise, failing to find hosts for their young, would 
merely live out their tinu^ and die without issue were they 
not killed by the birds. Such harm as ])irds do in killing 
l)rimary parasites may be offset by the killing of secondary 
parasites by birds, for this acts as a protection to the pri- 
mary })arasites. 

Certain i)redaceous bugs feed not only on insects liut also 
on veo^etable food. Thev also attack other i)redaceous or 
useful insects. Birds, ])y preventing their undue increase, 
may prevent excessive injury to both useful plants and 

All reasoning from known premises leads to one conclusion 


regarding the utility of birds in nature. It may be stated 
coiitidently, as a general rule (not without exceptions, how- 
ever), that, in the natural order of things, the species that 
is kept within normal numbers without great fluctuations, 
whether beast, bird, reptile, batrachian, or insect, will serve 
a useful purpose ; while the species that increases unduly 
will devour too much animal or vegetable food, and, by dis- 
turbing the balance of nature, become a i)est. It is the 
abnormal increase of the gipsy and brown-tail moths and 
the " English " Sparrow in this Commonwealth that has 
been responsible for the injury they have done. If birds 
do well their part in holding in check native insects, small 
mammals, reptiles, batrachians, and other forms of life on 
which they feed, they have fulfilled their mission, even if 
in doing this they destroy some individuals of some species 
that are classed as useful. 

This, then, is the chief mission of the birds in organic 
nature : to fill their peculiar place in preserving the balance 
of nature's forces, — a i^lace that cannot be filled by any 
other class of animals. 

In nmch of the foregoing it appears that the birds are 
engaged in checking the increase of insects and other ani- 
mals, exerting that check constantly when and where it is 
most needed. The vegetable food of birds is perhaps of 
less importance, but here also they exercise a restraining 
influence by destroying seed as well as in other ways. They 
also exert a beneficial influence by planting seed. 

Birds also play a great part in the distribution of plants, 
the upbuilding and fertilizing of barren islands, and a minor 
part in the distribution of insects. Wild-fowl and Herons 
may sometimes carry small seeds for many miles embedded 
in particles of nuid which adhere to their feet. Where this 
mud drops from their feet, the seeds may s^jrout and grow. 
The fruit-eating birds are among the most valuable of tree 
planters, distributing the seeds far and wide. Certain insects 
which cling to the feet or feathers of birds are sometimes 
distril)uted in this way. The part taken by birds in forest 
planting and fertilizing barren lands will be taken up tar- 


ther on, in connection with their relations to forestry and 

Taken all in all, the relations of birds to the natural world 
are beneficent. Evidently birds are an essential part of 
nature's great plan. This being the case, they must be 
serviceable to man also, for man, the animal, is a mere inte- 
gral part of nature. 


Chapter L 


Birds are classed as useful or injurious only as tliey affect 
man or his property. In an uninha))ited country birds can- 
not be ranked as beneficial or harmful, good or bad, for there 
is no agriculture. There the earth, untroubled by man, brings 
forth vegetation, and animals after their kind. Nature's laws, 
working in harmony, need none of man's assistance. The 
condition of the earth before man appeared is typified in the 
Biblical account of the orarden of Eden. 


We have seen that under such natural conditions all birds 
are essential to the general welfiire, each filling well its 
appointed place. But trouble and discord come to Eden. 
Man appears, and becomes the dominant power on the earth. 
He sets up artificial standards of his own, and bids nature 
conform to them. He is constantly at war Avith nature. He 
classes wild creatures as injurious, provided they either in- 
jure his person, or cause him loss l)y destroying or harming 
an}^ of his property or any of the wild animals or plants 
which he regards as useful. He considers all wild creatures 
beneficial that contribute direct!}^ or indirectly to his own 
welfare, or to the increase in value of his property. 

He is often in error, even from his own standpoint, in 
thus classifying animals, owing to an insuflicient knowledge 
of their food habits ; but the principle holds good, and stand- 
ards change with the acijuisition of knowledge. 

Man in a savage state lived, like other animals, in harmony 
with nature. At first he practised no agriculture and domes- 
ticated no animals. He made Avar mainh^ upon his fellows 
and the larger beasts of prey, killing them in self-defence 
or for food. (It seems probable that primitive man Avas 
a cannibal.) Otherwise, he fed altogether upon the Avild 


products of forest, ineadow, sea, lake, or river. The only 
creatures that he then could regard as injurious were those 
that attacked his own person or the persons of his faniilj'. 

Any irruption of animals, such as vast herds of deer, bison, 
or antelopes, hordes of monkeys or rats, flights of birds or 
locusts, outbreaks of caterpillars or other creatures, was 
a1)()ut as likely to benetit as to injure him. For instance, 
when locusts became so numerous as to destroy a part or all 
of his vegetable food, he followed the example of other 
creatures, and, b}^ feeding for the time on the superabundant 
locusts, exerted an influence toward restoring the ])alance 
of nature. (There are still savage tribes in various jmrts 
of the earth that eat luonkeys, rats, locusts, grubs, or 
cat('ri)illars. ) 

In times of })lenty ])rimitive man feasted, as did other 
animals ; and in times of want, like them, he starved. But 
usually he was inditterent to any ordinary injury done to the 
animal or vegetable life around him, as he owned no prop- 
erty, and could readily move his camp from a region of 
want to one of plenty. 


With the beginning of agricultural practice, however, all 
this was changed. AVhen man l)egan to domesticate animals, 
he faced immediately a host of enemies. Wild animals and 
birds attacked his cattle, horses, shec}), goats, and hogs, or 
devoured their young. Tormenting insects stampeded his 
herds, or carried disease and death among them. His })oul- 
try were decimated b}^ scores of rapacious animals. When 
he ))egan to plant seed and raise grain, both his growing 
and his garnered cro})s were attacked by a host of ene- 
mies ; for now he had begun to disturl) nature's balance, 
and nature asserted herself in the eflort to resume her inter- 
rupted sway. This was the beginning of a war with nature 
which will never cease so long as man inhabits the earth : 
for the agriculturist does not work altogether with nature, 
but largely against her. Most of the animal and vegetable 
forms that he jn'oduces are at variance with those produced 
by nature, and must be contimially fostered and })rotectcd 


if they are to maintain their artificial characters and excel- 
lences. Left to themselves, the various breeds of domesti- 
cated Pigeons would all disappear, merging into the original 
Dove from whence they sprang. All artificial varieties of 
animals, plants, and fruits would, under nature, become, in 
time, like the wild stock from which they originated. Hence 
man must wage war continually against organic nature, in 
order to maintain his artificial standards against her inex- 
orable laws. 

The beo:innino: of agriculture was the first stei) toward 

c? o o I 

civilization as well, for the necessity of remaining near his 
crops to guard them from their enemies compelled the })rim- 
itive farmer to erect a permanent habitation. This took his 
attention from Avar and the chase, for much of his time was 
now occupied in tilling the soil and caring for his ero|)s and 

The slow growth of primitive agriculture in the older 
civilized countries gave time for a gradual adjustment of the 
forces of nature to the new conditions established and main- 
tained by man. The 'gradual or partial clearing away of the 
forests occupied centuries. The planting of crops merely 
kept pace with the natural increase of })opulation, while 
the destruction of wild animals and their replacement with 
domesticated s})ecies Avcre similarlv^ gradual and progressive. 
So, althouo;h in the older countries apiculture sufiered much 
from the pests to which its o})erations must always give rise, 
it remained for the peopling of newer lands to develop the 
greatest difficulties in the path of the farmer. 

Agriculture produces an increased food supply. The 
population increases correspondingly, and the overflow seeks 
new fields. In these new lands, of which America is the 
most prominent example, the conditions of civilization and 
agriculture have replaced with marked rai)idity those of 
savagery and primeval nature. 


All the greater chano;es that were efiected oraduallv b^^ 
man in Europe, where, in the course of centuries, civiliza- 
tion was slowly evolved from savagery, — all these stupen- 


dous changes, — were wrought here in a few years by the 
tide of immigration from the eastern world. 

In many communities only a score of years elapsed be- 
tween the subjugation of the unbroken wilderness and the 
building of a farming town or growing city. In Massachu- 
setts the settlers cut doAvn the forest ; killed off most of the 
larger mammals and birds ; imported and bred horses, cattle, 
and poultry ; cleared and planted much of the arable land ; 
introduced many new plants ; and rapidly changed the ap- 
pearance of the country from that of a Avilderness to that of 
an agricultural colony. Thirty years after the landing of 
the Pilgrim Fathers at Plymouth, eastern Massachusetts was 
well colonized ; Avith several growing seaport towns ; with 
prosperous farms, fertile fields and green pastures ; with 
flocks and herds grazing on many a hill, where the wild 
Indian and the red deer formerly roamed. 

All these changes, taking place so rapidly, produced great 
disturbances in the economy of nature. As the wolf, lynx, 
puma, and bear were killed or driven away, the smaller 
animals on Avhich they had formerly preyed increased in 
numbers and attacked the crops. Crows, Blackbirds, and 
many insects, finding in the grain crops new sources of food 
supply, swarmed upon them and multiplied exceedingly. 
Birds and insects attacked the cultivated fruit. Thousands 
of acres of cleared meadow land were producing crops of 
grass. Given this increased food supply, locusts and other 
grass-eating insects increased in numbers. The settlers, 
meantime, were destroying the Heath Hen, Quail, Plover, 
Blackbirds, Hawks, and Crows, the natural enemies of the 
locusts. As time went on, many new plants were introduced 
from Euro})e, and in some cases insect })ests unwittingly 
were brought with them. The two succeeding centuries 
brought about a tremendous innnigration from Europe. As 
settlement extended into the western States, great fields of 
wheat and other grains were established, covering the plains 
in some instances as far as the eye could see. Hundreds of 
thousands of acres were planted to orchards and vineyards ; 
great areas near the cities were devoted to garden vegetables ; 
north and south, corn, wheat, and cotton clothed the land. 



Insects introduced from foreign lands found here a para- 
dise, in which to multiply, in the great areas planted year 
after year to the same crops. Having escaped their native 
enemies, they had come to an abundance of food in a land 
where many of the insect-eating birds and other insectivo- 
rous animals had been much reduced in number by the unwise 
policy of the settlers. Hence the rate of increase of im- 
ported insect pests in America has far exceeded that of the 
same insects in their native lands. 

Certain native American insects, finding their food plants 
destroyed by the cutting down of the forests or the break- 
hig up of the prairie, turned their attention to the crops 
of the farmer, and became important pests. 
Such are the cutworms (Noctuidie) ; their 
name is legion. Others, having been reached 
in their desert or mountain homes by the 
advance of civilization, left their natural food 
for the more succulent plants raised by man, 
and so spread over the country from farm pj 14.— ciiincii 
to farm. Such are the chinch hnsr and the '^"s- '""'^'i en. 

... . larged. 

Colorado potato beetle, which, as civilization 
advanced westward, met it and spread toward the east. 

The enormous losses which have occurred in the United 
States from the destruction of growing crops by insects must 
seem incredible to those who do not realize how vast are the 
numbers of insects, how stupendous their power of nmlti- 
plication, how insatiable their voracity. 

When we fully appreciate the consuming poAvers of insects, 
they assume an economic importance greater than can be 
accorded to the ravening beast of prey. Let us consider 
briefly, then, the potency for evil that lies hidden in the tiny 
but innumerable eggs of injurious insects, which require only 
the warmth of the summer sun to release from confinement 
their destructive enerofies. 



The number of insect species is greater hy far than tliat 
of the species of all other living creatures combined. More 
than three hundred thousand have been described. There 
are man}^ thousands of undescribed species in museums. 
Dr. Lintner, the late distinguished State entomologist of 
New York, considered it not improbable that there were a 
million species of insects. The number of individual insects 
is beyond human comprehension or computation. 

Dr. Lintner says that he saw at a glance, in a small extent 
of roadway near Albany, more individuals of a single species 
of snow flea, as computed by him, than there are human 
beings on the entire face of the earth. A small cherry tree 
ten feet in height was found by Dr. Fitch to be infested with 
an aphid or plant louse. He estimated (first counting the 
number of these insects on a leaf, the number of leaves on a 
branch and the numlxu* of branches on the tree) that there 
were twelve million plant lice on the tree ; and this was only 
one tree of a row similarly infested. To give the reader an 
approximate idea of the number of insects on the tree, it 
was stated that, were a man to count them singly and as 
rapidly as he could speak, it would require eleven months' 
labor at ten hours a day to complete the enumeration. ^ 

In the davs of their al)undance the Rocky ^lountain locusts 
in flight filled the air and hid the sun. From the high peaks 
of the Sierra Nevada they were seen filhng the vallej^s below 
and the air above as far as a powerful field glass could bring 
the insects within focus. The chinch bug in countless mil- 
lions infests the grain fields over towns, counties, and States, 
The army worm moves at times in solid masses, destroying 
the crops in its path. 


Insects are enormously productive, and, Avere the progeny 
of one pair allowed to re})roduce without check, they would 
cover, in time, the entire habitable earth. 

* Our Insect Enemies, by J. A. Lintner. Sixteenth Annual Report, New 
Jersey State Board of Agriculture, 1888-89, pp. 2!);5, 21)4. 


The rapidity of propagation .shown l)y some insects is per- 
haps without a parallel in the animal world. 

In order to give some idea of the powers of nmltiplication 
of the Colorado potato beetle, the Canadian y 

Entomologist states that all its transformations 
are effected in fifty days ; so that the result of 
a single pair, if allowed to increase without 
molestation, would in one season amount to ^^^' .^^"V'l!^ 

' orado potato 

over sixty millions. ^ beetle. 

Speaking of the great power of multiplication shown by 
plant lice or aphids. Dr. Lintner says that Professor liiley, 
in his studies of the hop vine aphis [PJiorodon humuli), 
has observed thirteen generations of the si)ecies in the 
3' ear. Now, if we assume the average number of young 
produced by each female to be one hundred, and that every 
individual attains maturity and produces its full complement 
of young (which, however, never occurs in nature), the 
number of the twelfth brood alone (not counting those of 
all of the preceding l)roods of the same year) would be 
10, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 (ten sextillions) of indi- 
viduals. Where, as in this instance, figures fail to convey 
any ade(juate conception of numbers, let us take space and 
the velocity of light as measures. AVere this l)rood mar- 
shalled in line Avith ten individuals to a linear inch touching 
one another, the procession would extend to the sun (a space 
which light traverses in eight minutes), and beyond it to the 
nearest fixed star (traversed by light only in six years), and 
still onward in space beyond the most distant star that the 
strongest telescope may bring to our view, — to a point so 
inconceivably remote that light could only reach us from it 
in twenty-five hundred j^ears. 

The remotest approach to such unchecked multiplication 
on the part of this insect might })aralvze the hop-growing 
industry in one season. While the a})hids may represent 
the extreme of fecundity, there are thousands of insect 
species the unchecked increase of any one of which would 
soon overrun a continent. Mr. A. H. Kirkland has coni- 

* Report of Townend Glover, entomologist, in Annual Report of the United 
States Comniissionev of Agriculture, 1871, ]). 74. 


puted that the unrestricted increase of the gipsy moth would 
be so great that the progeny of one pair would be numerous 
enough in eight years to devour all the foliage in the United 


Many insects are remarkably destructive because of the 
enormous amount of food which thev nmst c(Misume to g-row 
rapidly to maturity. Many caterpillars daily eat twice their 
weight of leaves ; which is as if an ox were to devour, every 
twenty-four hours, three-quarters of a ton of grass. ^ 

This voracity and rapid growth may be shown by the 
statement of a few facts. A certain flesh-feeding larva will 
consume in twenty-four hours two hundred times its original 
weight ; a parallel to which, in the human race, would be an 
infant consuming, in the first day of its existence, fifteen 
hundred pounds of food. There are vegetable feeders, 
caterpillars, Avliich during their progress to maturity, Avithin 
thirty days, increase in size ten thousand times. To equal 
this remarkable growth, a man at his maturity would have 
to weigh forty tons. In view of such statements, need we 
wonder that the insect world is so destructive and so potent 
a power for harm ? ^ 

Mr. Leopold Trouvelot, Avho introduced the gipsy moth 
into this country, was occupied for some time in raising- 
silkworms in ]\Iedford, Mass. He made a special studv of 
the American silkworm {Tdea poJi/pliemus). Kegarding its 
food and growth he says : — 

It is astonishing how rapidly tlie larva grows, and one who has had 
no experience in the matter could hardly believe what an amount of 
food is devoured h\ these little creatures. One experiment which I 
made can give some idea of it. When the young worm hatches out, it 

^ A probable cause for this voracity in the case of herbivorous larvfe is tliat the 
stomachs do not have tlie power of dissolving the vegetable matter received into 
them, but merely of extracting from it a juice. This is proved both by their 
excrement, which consists of coiled-up and hardened particles of leaf, which, 
M'hen i)Ut into water, expand like tea, and by the great proportion which the 
excrement bears tn the (juantity of food consumed (Kirhy and Spence's Ento- 
mology, J). 259) . 

^ Our Insect Enemies, by J. A. Lintner. Sixteenth Amiual Rei^ort, New 
Jersey State Board of Agriculture, 1888-89, p. 295. 


weighs one-twentieth of a grain : when ten days old, it weighs one-half 
a grain, or ten times the original weight; when twenty da3-s old, it 
weighs three grains, or sixty times the original weight ; wlien thirty days 
old, it weighs thirty-one grains, or six hundred and twenty times the 
oi'iginal weight ; when forty days old, it weighs ninety grains, or eight- 
een himdred times the original weight ; and when fifty-six days old, it 
weighs two hundred and seven grains, or forty-one hundred and forty 
times the original weight. 

AVhen a worm is thirty days old, it will have consumed about ninety 
grains of food ; but when fifty-six days old it is fully gTown, and has 
consumed not less than one hundred and twenty oak leaves, weighino" 
three-fourths of a pound; besides this, it has drunk not less than one- 
half an ounce of water. So the food taken by a single silkworm in 
fifty -six days equals in weight eighty-six thousand times the primitive 
weight of the worm. Of this, about one-fourth of a i)Ound becomes 
excrementitious matter, two hundred and seven grains are assimilated, 
and over five ounces have evaporated. What a destruction of leaves 
this single species of insect could make, if onlj' a one-hundredth jjart 
of the eggs laid came to maturitv ! A few years would l)e sufticient for 
the propagation of a number large enough to devour all the leaves of 
our forests. • 

When we consider the dangers arising from the immense 
nmiibers, fecundity and voracity of insects, the fact that 
insects new to cultivated crops are continuallv appearing 
becomes a source of grave api)rehension. 


Economic entomologists, who are constantlv increasingf 
our knowledge regarding insect pests, discover every year 
new species attacking important crops or trees. Dr. Lintner 
made a list of the insects injuring apple trees in the United 
States, which was pulilished in the appendix to his first 
report as entomologist of New York State. It contained 
one hundred and seventy-six species, while large though 
lesser numbers have been found on the plum, pear, peach, 
and cherry. 

The stud}^ of the insect enemies of the forest trees of the 
United States has not yet progressed far enough to deter- 

' The American Silkworm, by L. Trouvelot. American Natui'alist, Vol. I, 
jj. 85. 


mine with approximate accuracy the numbers of insects. that 
infest oiu* forest trees. The forest insects of some sections 
of Europe have been studied longer, and the numbers of in- 
sects found injuring the principal trees are surprising. Kal- 
tenbach enumerates five hundred and thirtj^-seven species 
of insects, from central Europe, injurious to the oak ; to the 
elm he ascribes one hundred and seven. The poplars feed 
two hundred and sixty-four species ; the willows harbor 
three hundred and ninetj-six ; the birches, two hundred and 
seventy ; the alder, one hundred and nineteen ; the beech, 
one hundred and fifty-four ; the hazel, ninety-seven ; and 
the hornbeam, eight v-eight. Among the coniferous trees, 
the pines, larch, spruce, and fir, collectivelj'^, are attacked 
by two hundred and ninety-nine s})ecies of insects.^ 

Dr. Packard enumerated over four hundred species which 
prey upon our oaks, and believed it not improbable that 
ultimately the number of species found on the oaks of the 
United States would be from six hundred to eight hundred 
or even one thousand.^ 

The list of insects which feed on grasses, cereals, field and 
garden crops is very large and constantl}^ growing, for it is 
continually receiving accessions from both native and foreign 
sources. The destructiveness of some of these insects is so 
enormous and widespread that the financial loss resulting 
therefrom amounts to a heavy annual tax on the people of 
the United States. Hence since the first settlement of the 
country the amount of this annual tax has been increasing. 

In 1854 the loss in New York State alone from the ravasres 
of the insignificant wheat midge (Diplosis tritki), as esti- 
mated by the secretary of the New York State Agricultural 
Society, was fifteen million dollars. AYliole fields of wheat 
were left ungarnered. So destructive was this insect in the 
following years as to stop the raising of white wheat, and 
reduce the value of all wheat lands forty per cent.^ 

* Die Pflanzenfeinde aus cler Klasse tier Insekten. 

^ Insects Injurious to Forest and Shade Trees, by A. S. Packard. Fiftli Report 
of the United States Entomological Commission, 188(j-!K), p. 48. 

^ Report on the Rocky Mountain Locust, by A. S. Packard. Ninth Annual 
Report of the United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territo- 
ries, 1875, p. 709. 


III 185(i, in Livin<>-stoii County, New York, two thousand 
acres on flats which would have 3'ieldcd thirt}^ bushels of 
wdicat per acre were not harvested because of the destruc- 
tive work of this insect.^ 

Dr. C. L. Marlatt, of the Bureau of Entomologj^ of the 
United States Department of Agriculture, who has made 
careful calculations of the loss still 
occasioned by the Hessian fly ( Cecido- 
myia destructor) in the wheat-growing 
States, says that in comparatively few 
years does it cause a loss of less than 
ten per cent, of the crop. On the val- 
uation of the crop of 1904 this would 
amount to over fifty million dollars. 
Dr. Marlatt states that in the year 1900 
the loss in the wheat-growing States Fig. le.-iiessian fly. 
from this tinv midge undoubtedly ai> ^''""^ twelve times nat- 

^ _ _ ./I uTi\\ size. 

proached one hundred million dollars.^ 

The chinch bug [BJissus Jeucopterus) attacks many staple 
crops, and has been a seriously destructive pest in the 
Mississippi valley States for many years, wdiere it injures 
chiefly wheat and corn. Dr. Shinier in his notes on this 
insect estimates the loss caused by it in the Mississippi 
valley in 1864 at one hundred million dollars,^ while Dr. 
Riley gives the loss in that year as seventy-three million 
dollars in Illinois alone.* These are only a few of the 
extreme losses. Year after year the injuries from the 
depredations of this bug have amounted to many millions 
of dollars. 

The cotton worm (^Alabama argUlacea) has l)een known 
as a serious pest to the cotton crop for more than a century. 
The average loss in the cotton States from this caterpillar 

* First Annual Report on the Injurious and Other Insects of the State of New 
York, by J. A. Lintner, 1882, p. 6. 

^ The Annual Loss occasioned hy Destructive Insects in the United States, by 
C. L. Marlatt. Yearbook, United States Department of Agriculture, 1904, p. 467. 

^ Report on the Rocky Mountain Locust, by A. S. Packard. Nmth Annual 
Report of the United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories, 
1875, p. 697. 

* First Annual Report on the Injurious and Other Insects of the State of New 
York, by J. A. Lintner, 1882, p. 7. 


for fourteen years following the civil war was estimated at 
fifteen million dollars per vear.^ 

In 1873 the injury to the cotton crop reached twenty-five 
million dollars, and later averaoed from twenty-five million 
to fifty million dollars annually.'-^ Now a new enemy, the 
Mexican cotton boll weevil (xint/tonomus r/randis), threatens 
equal destruction. 

The Rocky Mountain locust [Melanoplas spre(us) began 
to destroy crops as soon as the country it inhabits was set- 
tled, and is still injurious. From time to time its enormous 
flights have traversed a great part of the Mississi})pi valley. 
It reached a maxinuun of destructiveness from 1874 to 1877, 
when the total loss from its ravages in Kansas, Nebraska, 
Iowa, Missouri, and neighl)oring States, including injury by 
depression of lousiness and general ruin, Avas estimated at 
two hundred million dollars.^ 

In those years this devastating insect swept over the Missis- 
sippi valley. AVhorever its vast flights alighted or its young 
developed, they destroyed nearly all vegetation, ruining 
ofreat numbers of farmers, causing a famine in the land, and 
driving many people to emigration. This was an extreme 
calamity, such as is not likely to occur again. 

A still larger Init more widely distributed hjss from insect 
pests, however, is still borne annually by the American 
people. Dr. Lintner states his belief that the annual and 
periodical injurj^ caused b}^ cutworms in the United States 
is oreater than that caused by the Rockv Mountain locust. 

In September, 18(38, Prof. D. B. Walsh, editor of the 
American Entomologist, estimated that the country then 
suftered to the amount of three hundred million dollars 
annually from the depredations of noxious insects. By the 
census of 1875 the agricultural jn-oducts of this country were 
valued at two billion, five hundred million dollars. Of this 

' Fourth Report of the United States Entomological Coniniission, by C. V. 
Riley, 1885, p. 3. 

^ Report on the Rocky Mountain Locust, hy A. S. Packard. Ninth Annual 
Report of the United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Terri- 
tories, 1875, p. 591. 

3 Report on the Rocky Mountain Locust, by Riley, Packard, and Thomas. 
First Report of the United States Entomological Commission, 1877, jip. 115-122. 


amount, Dr. Packard says that in all probability we annually 
lose over two hundred million dollars from the attacks of 
injurious insects. In the report of the Department of Agri- 
culture for 1884 (p. 324) the losses occasioned by insects 
injurious to agriculture in the United States, it is said, are 
variously estimated at from three hundred ndllion to four 
hundred million dollars annually. 

Prof. C. Y. Riley, in response to a letter of inquiry, in 

1890, stated that no very recent estimate of the injury done 
by insects had been made; but that he had estimated, some 
time previously, that the injury done to crops in the United 
States by insects exceeded three hundred million dollars 

Mr. James Fletcher, in his annual address as president of 
the Society of Economic Entomologists, in Washington, in 

1891, stated that the agricultural products of the United 
States were then estimated at about three billion, eight hun- 
dred million dollars. It was believed that a sum ecjual to 
about one-tenth of this amount, or three hundred and eighty 
million dollars, was lost annually through the ravages of 
injurious insects. 

It is evident that, in spite of the improved methods of 
fighting insects, the aggregate loss from this source increases 
in proportion as the land under cultivation increases. 

The most recent estimate of the loss occasioned by insect 
injurj^ in the United States which has come to my notice is 
that of Dr. C. L. ]\larlatt, who by careful estimates approxi- 
mates the percentage of loss to cereal products, hay, cotton, 
tobacco, truck crops, sugars, fruits, forests, miscellaneous 
crops, animal products, and products in stoi'age. 

Dr. ]Marlatt attributes an annual loss of eighty million 
dollars to the corn crop alone, and approximates the loss to 
the wheat crop at one hundred million dollars each year. 
The injury to the hay cro}) is estimated at live hundred and 
thirty thousand dollars, while the codling moth alone is be- 
lieved to injure fruit cro})s to the amount of twenty million 
dollars annually. 

This statement, based on the value of farm lU'oducts as 
given in the reports of the Bureau of Statistics of the United 


States Department of Agriculture for 1904, gives the loss 
from insect depredations for that year as seven hundred and 
ninety-five million, one hundred thousand dollars ; and this 
is believed to be a conservative estimate of the tax now im- 
posed by injurious insects on the people of the United States, 
Avithout reckoning the millions of dollars that are expended 
annually in labor and insecticides in the fight against insects. ^ 


The proportion of this loss that Massachusetts is called 
upon to bear has not received the attention that it deserves. 
Some figures, however, may be given. In 1861 the army 
worm (probably Heliophila imipuncfa) swept eastern Mas- 
sachusetts. The damage done to crops, according to Dr. 
Packard, exceeded five hundred thousand dollars.^ We have 
no estimates of the loss occasioned by more recent invasions 
of this insect. Prof. C. H. Fernald ^ estimates that an amount 
of cranberries equal to one-third the possible crop of the Cape 
Cod region is annually destroyed l)y insects. Thus a sum 
not less than five hundred thousand dollars is yearly lost to 
the people of that region. 

In 1890 Dr. Henry H. (loodell, president of the Massa- 
chusetts Agricultural College, stated that it was costing the 
farmers of the United States two million dollars, and the 
farmers of Massachusetts eighty thousand dollars, each year, 
to hold the Colorado potato beetle in check by the use of 
Paris ori-een.^ 

In 1901 Hon. J. W. Stockwell, then secretary of the 
Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture, asked me to esti- 
mate the annual loss to the Commonwealth through the rav- 
ages of insect pests. My estimate, which seemed to me at 

1 The Annual Loss occasioned by Destructive Insects in tlie United States, by 
C. L. Marlatt. Yearbook, United States Department of Agriculture, 1904, p. 464. 

- First Report on Injurious and Beneficial Insects of Massachusetts, by A. S. 
Packard. Annual Report of the Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture, 1870, 
Part I, p. 353. 

' In Bulletui No. 19 of tlie Hatch Experiment Station of the Massachusetts 
Agricultural College, Professor Fernald gives statistics of the cranberry crop, 
and evidence from which his estimate is made. 

* Agricultural Education, by H. H. Goodell. Sixth Annual Report of the 
Rhode Island State P.oard of Agriculture, 1891, ]). 186. 


the time a safe and conservative one, was three million, 
one hundred thousand dollars. Mr. Stockwell also asked 
Dr. H. T. Fernald and Mr. A. II. Kirkland, both expert 
economic entomologists, to make, independently, a similar 
estimate. Their replies follow, showing how they made up 
their figures. These gentlemen had every facility for obtain- 
ing knowledge of insect injury in the Commonwealth. It 
will be seen that their approximations considerabl}' exceeded 
my own. Dr. H. T. Fernald says : ^ — 

Years ago a number of experts, figuring independently, came to the 
conclusion that for farm, market-garden and orchard crops the loss by 
the attacks of insects in an average year would represent one-tenth of 
the value of the crop, or about two million, six liundred thousand dollars 
for Massachusetts, lieeently, however, j^rominent entomologists have 
expressed the opinion that this per cent, is too low. Three factors have 
caused this change : first, the concentration of crops of tlie same kind 
into large contiguous acreage ; second, the introduction of over one 
hundred pests from foreign countries, which have been here long enough 
to make their presence seriously felt ; and third, the great reduction in 
the number of insectivorous bii'ds. 

I believe it will be entirely safe to take fifteen per cent, of the crop 
valuation of Massachusetts, and that you will be sufticiently conserva- 
tive in using that amount as I'epresenting part of the damage. I have 
never seen a cherry tree killed by j^lant lice, yet I have often seen lice 
so abundant on cherry trees as to much reduce the crop, which is true 
of a large projjortion of our crops ; and it is loss of this kind which is 
covered by the fifteen per cent, estimate, . . . but how are we to place 
a money value on tlie defoliation of an elm tree unless it be repeated 
year after jenv until the tree dies ? I would l)e inclined to add, to the 
fifteen per cent, estimate already given, two hundred and fifty thousand 
dollars for labor, apparatus, poison, etc., used in the fight against 
insects, and another two hundred and fifty thousand dollars to cover 
damage actuallv done, but which cannot be reduced to figures, making 
a total 3'early damage of four million, four hundred thousand dollars for 
Massachusetts . 

Mr. Kirkland says : ^ — 

The best figures available for estimating the loss caused by jjests in 
this State are those of the 1S!)5 census. From the report of this census 
I have taken figures giving the value of certain crops notably attacked 

1 Report of Secretary J. W. Stockwell, Annual Report of the Massachusetts 
State Board of Agriculture, 1901, pp. xiii, xiv. 



l)y iusects, and have estimated in each ease the j^robable averaoe yearly 
reduction in value caused b}' these pests. The data used are given .be- 
low. I have tried to make a conservative estimate in the case of each 
product, since, to have any value, such an estimate should fall below 
rather than above the actual amount. Even then the figures afford 
material for serious reflection on the part of agriculturists. 

of Product. 


by Insects. 

of Damage. 

Greenhouse products, 

Hothouse and liotbed products, 

Nursery ]5roducts, 

Wood products, .... 

Cereal prodvicts. 

Fruits, berries, and nuts, 

Hay and fodder crops. 



Property : — 
Fruit trees, vines, etc., . 


SI, 7411,070 






12,491, ()i)0 









$174,907 00 

4,861 .35 

27,4;!5 90 

55(i,0(;2 80 

55,228 90 

712,646 25 

1,249,109 00 

1,277,90(5 m 

54,496 80 

792,487 80 

,^4,905, 142 40 

Assuming the accurac\' of these data, and exclusive of the damage 
wrought by insects to our woodlands, street trees, parks, etc., we have 
in round figures five million dollars as the average annual damage from 
insects to agricultural products and projierty in this Commonwealth. 

While the cost of insect injury is enormous, the expense 
of fighting injurious insects in the attempt to protect crops 
and trees from their ravages is proportionately great. In 
recent years Massachusetts has had, and is still having, a 
costly experience in attempting to control or suppress an 
imported insect. 

The gipsy moth {PorfJietria dispar), a well-known pest 
of European countries, was introduced into jVIedford, Mass., 
by Mr. Leopold Trouvelot, in 1868 or 1<S(U). Twenty years 
later the moths had increased in numbers to such an extent 
that they were destroying the trees and slirubl)ery in that 
section of Medford where they were first liberated. 

They swarmed over the houses of the inhal)itants, invaded 
their gardens, and became such a })ublic nuisance that in 
1890 the Legislature a})i)ropriated fifty tliousand dollars for 
their extermination. It was learned Avitliin the next two years 
that the moths had spread over thirty towns. The State 


Board of Agriculture was given charge ot" tlie work in 1891, 
and over one million dollars were expended within the next 
ten 3'ear.s in the attempt to exterminate the insect. As at 
the expiration of that time all the larger moth colonies had 
been destroyed, the Legislature, deeming further expendi- 
ture unwise, gave up the work, des})ite the protest of the 
Board of Agriculture, and its prediction that a speedy rise 
of the moth would follow the cessation of concerted ettbrt 
against it. This prediction has been al)undantly fulfilled, 
and the policy of the Board has lieen fully justified. 

Dr. ]\Iarlatt, who in 1904 visited the region infested b}^ the 
moth, reported to the Bureau of Entomology at Washington 
that the people of the infested district were then fighting the 
insect at a greater annual cost than that former!}^ assumed 
by the State. Since the State gave up the work, a single 
citizen. Gen. Sanmel C. Lawrence of Medford, has expended 
over seventy-five thousand dollars to protect the trees and 
plants on his estate. 

Finally, in 1905 the Legislature was obliged to renew the 
fight, and appropriate the sum of three hundred thousand 
dollars for work against hoih this insect and another im- 
ported pest, — the brown-tail moth (Euj^rod is rJir^/sorrJiea) , 
which had lieen introduced into Somerville some time in the 
latter part of the nineteenth century. 

The State has also been obliged to call on nmnicipalities 
and individuals to assist in the Avork of suppressing these 
moths, at an animal expense to those concerned which ex- 
ceeds all previous yearly expenditures for this })urpose. 

These insects have gained a nmch larger territory than 
ever before, and thousands of acres of woodland have l^een 
attacked by them during the present j-ear (190')), and many 
pine and other trees have been killed. 

The gipsy moth has been found in llhode Island, Connect- 
icut, and New Hampshire, and the brown-tail moth is also 
spreading into other States. 

The prospect now seems to be that our protective expenses 
against these two insects, as well as the injury done by them, 
will increase constantly : and that other States also will lie 
})ut to similar exjiense, with no prospect of permanent relief 


save by such checks as may come, in time, through natural 

In view of the dangers threatened by insect increase and 
voracity, how fortunate it is for the human race tliat so many 
counter-checks are provided against the multipUcation of 
these destructive creatures. If we could increase by so much 
as one per cent, the efficiency of the natural enemies of 
insects, a large proportion of the loss occasioned by insect 
injury might be saved. Hence the importance of the study 
of these natural enemies, amono- which birds hold a hisfh 


When we realize the losses that insects are capable of in- 
flicting, we see at once that birds, in their capacity of insect 
destroyers, continually operate to prevent the destruction of 
some of our most important industries. If birds are present 
in sufficient numbers, they will prevent the excessive increase 
of any kind of a pest Avhich they will eat. 

The number of birds required to accomplish this highly 
desirable end need not be very large in comparison with the 
number of insects ; for each bird can devour an incredible 
number of insects, and the young birds in the nests require 
more of this food, in projiortion to their size, than do their 
parents . 

The Digestion of Birds. 

The digestive organs of birds are so constructed and 
equipped that they can both contain and dispose of a very 
large quantity of food. The stomachs of many species 
quickly separate the indigestible portions of the food from 
the digestible parts, and the former are thrown out of the 
mouth, thus relieving the stomach of much worthless mate- 
rial, and enabling the bird innnediately to consume more 
food. The alimentary canal (including the crop, gullet or 
oesophagus, the first division of the stomach or proventricu- 
lus, the gizzard, gigcrium or second division of the stomach, 
the intestine and ihv cloaca) consists of a tube reaching from 
mouth to aims, conveying the food. The nutritious qualities 
of the food are drawn off by the lacteals as it passes ; the 



refuse is voided. This is digestion. The food is often manip- 
ulated, crushed, or divided by the beak. It then receives 
saliva from the mouth, and passes tlirough tlie pharynx into 
either the gullet (a nmscular and membranous tube) or crop 
(a pouch) , as the case may be, organs capable 
of great distention, and connecting with the 
first division of the stomach. Here, then, 
is the first receptacle of the food. Birds 
of prey. Herons and some other large l)irds 
sometimes fill the gullet to the very mouth, 
while awaiting the digestion of the food in 
a stomach already full. The Pelicans ha\e 
also another great receptacle or pouch, ex- 
ternal and beneath the beak, where a store 
of food can be carried. jNIany of the smaller 
birds also are able, after filling the stomach, 
to stow away a still larger supply of food 
in the ouHet. The stomach is larofe, and 
usually capable, by distention, of contain- 
ing a considerable (juantity of food. The 
food passes from the gullet or the crop to 
the proventriculus or glandular portion of 
the stomach. This is where the process 
of digestion l)egins. Mixed with salivary, 
ingluvial, and proventricular secretions, the 
food next passes to the gizzard or nmscular 
division of the stomach, Avhere the food grist is ground fine. 

Among seed-eating birds the heavy, powerful muscles of 
this portion of the stomach are, with the rough, calloused 
stomach lining, assisted in their work by sand and gravel 
Avhich are swallowed. This mineral matter takes the place 
of teeth in grinding the food. 

In vegetable-feeding birds the intestine is very long and 
much coiled, while the digestive tract is generally shorter 
and simpler in the flesh-eating and fish-eating species. All 
the processes of digestion are remarkably rapid. The sali- 
vary glands, the liver and the pancreas all quickly pour their 
copious secretions into the alimentary canal : the food is 
chylified after impregnation with the biliar}- and pancreatic 

Fig. 17. — Alimen- 
tary caual of Blue- 
liird, reiiuced ; after 
Audubon. «, 6, gul- 
let or CESophagus ; c, 
proventriculus; d, 
gizzard; e, f, h, in- 
testine; (, cloaca. 


fluids ; the chyle is drawn off by the lacteals, and the residue 
is excreted. Tlie viii'or, perfection, and rapidity of these 
processes in insect-eatino- birds are such as might be expected 
among animals of such high temperature, perfect respiration, 
and rapid circulation. 

The yarious dilations of the digestive tract serve well their 
])urpose of enabling the bird to consume the large amount 
of food necessary for its maintenance. Digestion is partic- 
ularly rapid in the growing young of most birds, for they 
re(juire not only food sufficient to sustain life, but an extra 
supply as well to enable them to increase daily in size, and 
to grow, in a few days, those wonderful ai)})endages that we 
call feathers. 

The Growth of Young Birds. 
The growth of many birds from the Qgg to the hour of 
flight requires less time than is needed by some insects to 
reach the flight stage. It is most signiflcant that j'oung birds 
can develop as rapidly as can many in- 
sects on which they feed, for it shows how 
readily, under favorable conditions, the 
increase of birds might keep pro})ortion- 
ate pace with that of insects. Weed and 
Dearborn, in their interesting manual, en- 
^l?-l^~TT%'^f titled "Birds in their Relations to Man,"^ 

liu'd on Its tirst day, ' 

naked, blind, and help- .state that they watched four young Song- 
less, with mouth open , , - 1 / j_ /> xi j l^^ 

for food. Reduced; ^parrows tliat wer(! out ot tlie nest on tlie 
after Herrick. eighth day. Mr. Owcii records another 

instance where a brood of young Song Sparrows were 
fledged and left the nest within the same period. ^ Probably 
this is exceptional ; but many of the smaller birds rear their 
vouiiiT from the e<>£: to the first fli<>ht within two or three 
Aveeks. ]Mr. Owen found that on one particular day this 
family of five young Song Sparrows increased in average 
Aveight forty-eight per cent., while the smallest bird gained 
fifty-five per cent, in a single day. 

The young of perching birds (Insessores) come into the 
Avorld tin}"^ creatures, either naked or covered with down, 

» A Family of Nestlings, by D. E. Owen. The Auk, Vol. XVI, No. 3, July, 
IKOO, pj). 221-225. 



blind, and helpless ; yet in a few daj^s, or at most a few 
weeks, they have grown to nearly the size of their parents, 
and produced a perfect 
suit of feathers, including 
the strong quills of wings 
and tail. In a few weeks 
more they are able to 
begin a journey of hun- 
dreds or thousands of 
miles over land and sea, 
in their first migration. 

The young of praecocial 
birds , such as Grouse, 
Snipe and Plover, are 
able to run about soon 
after they are hatched. 

Young Grouse learn to fly pig. 19. _ Young Cetiar Birds, less than three 

when quite small, but they ''''^^^^ ''^'^■ 

develop more slowly than do the young of the smaller 
altricial birds. It is difficult, therefore, to determine the 

amount of food they 
require, as they leave 
the nest at once and 
wander from place to 
place, picking up 
their own food. 

The 3'oung of the 
altricial perching 
birds, however, re- 
main quite helpless in 
the nest until nearly 
fledged, aft'ording an 

Fig. 20. — Young Grouse, just from the egg, but able excellent 0})[)Ortunity 

*°"""'- for the investigator 

to determine the amount and character of their food, and 
to watch the progress of tlieir development. AVe can learn 
how much food such 3^oung birds require by feeding them 
in confinement. 



The Amount of Food required by Young Birds. 

It seems necessary to the health and comfort of the nest- 
ling bird that its stomach be filled with food during most 
of the da3^ Nearly half a century ago Prof. D. Tread well 

called attention to the great 
food re(|uirements of the 
young Robin. Two young 
birds from the nest were 
selected for his experiment. 
One soon died of starvation, 
as the supply of food given 
them at first was much too 
small. The food of the re- 
maining l)ird was gradually 
Fig. 21.- A youno: Woodcock, ready to increased froui day to day, 

leave the nest. ' i i *• 

until on the seventh day it 
was given thirty-one angleworms ; but there was no increase 
in its weight until, on the fourteenth day, it received sixty- 
eight worms, weighing, all told, thirty-four pennyweights.^ 

Later the same bird ate 
nearly one-half its own 
weight of beef in a day. 
A young man eating at 
this rate would consume /( 
about seventy pounds of 
beefsteak daily. The 
R o li i n even when full 
grown required one-third 
of its weight of beef 

,] ji Fig. 22. — Young Rol)ins, in the nest. 

Mr. Charles W. Nash fed a young Robin from fifty to 
seventy cutworms and earthworms a day for fifteen days. 
While experimenting to see how many cutworms the liird 
would eat in a day, he fed it five and one-half ounces of this 
food, or one hundred and sixty-five cutworms. As the 
Robin weighed but three ounces in the morning, it must 

* The Food of Young Robins, by D. Treadwell. Proceedings of the Bo.ston 
Society of Natural History, Vol. VI, pp. ;i!l(;-3i)9. 


have eaten, during the day, a quantity one and five-sixths 
times its own weiglit.^ 

Three young Rollins, about ten da^^s old, fed by their 
parents, were watclied by Weed and Dearborn, Bv an in- 
genious method of weighing and calculating, the observers 
arrived at the conclusion that apparently there was eaten a 
dailv amount ecjfual to more than half the birds' owai weight.^ 

Mr. Daniel E. Owen kept a young Hermit Thrush, which 
ate regularly half its weight of raw steak dailv, and would, 
he says, probably have eaten as much more had it been fed 
often er.^ 

In 1895 two 3'oung Crows were kept and fed by Messrs. 
A. H. Kirkland and H. A. Ballou, then my assistants, from 
August 7 to September 2, when one bird was killed b}' 
accident. The survivor w^as kept until Septeml^er 14, when 
it was killed to determine some points regarding digestion. 
These birds were confined in a laro-e cage or enclosure in an 
insectary, and were also allowed access during the da}" to 
an enclosed yard, which they reached through the window. 
This gave them considerable exercise. 

A careful record was kept of most of their food. Never- 
theless, they occasionally picked up some sprouted grain in 
the 3"ard, and proliably a few insects that could not be re- 
corded or weighed. For this reason the quantity of the daily 
food supply recorded is probably, on the average, too low, 
or, in other words, on the safe side. Some of the smaller 
animals fed to the birds (toads, frogs, and salamanders) were 
not always weighed, but the}- were measured and could be 
compared with others of known weight, so that the weight 
was approximated closely. 

The birds were well grown when they were first received ; 
but the amount of food at first given them probablv was not 
sufficient for their needs, as their weight did not increase, 
although they were fed a variety of both vegetal and animal 

* Birds of Ontario in their Relation to Agriculture, by Charles W. Nash. 
Toronto. Department of Agriculture, 189S, p. 22. 

^ Birds in their Relations to Man, by Clarence M. Weed and Ned Dearborn, 
1903, p. 6.5. 

^ Notes on a Captive Hermit Thrush, by Daniel E. Owen. The Auk, Vol. 
XIV, No. 1, Jainiary, 1897, pp. 1-8. 


food. They were designated by number. On August 20 
Xo. 1 weighed seventeen ounces and No. 2 fourteen ounces. 
That day the two birds had two ounces of tomato, five ounces 
of sweet corn, fifty grasshoppers (about tliree-fourths of an 
ounce ) , — in all, nearlj' eight ounces, — and tliey also had free 
access to some grain in the yard. As their weight remained 
the same, they were fed the next day one-half ounce of 
tomato, one ounce of corn, one ounce of nuiskmelon, five 
ounces of meat, one ounce of beets, and fifty grasshoppers, 
— in all, fully nine ounces. An apple also was eaten to 
some extent, and there was still some grain in the yard. 
Nevertheless, each bird lost about an ounce in weight that 
day . 

They were fed at about the same rate the following day, 
and, as they were losing weight, they were given on the 
2od two ounces of melon, all the grasshoppers that could be 
collected near their place of confinement, four frogs, a sala- 
mander, two ounces of tomato, and five ounces of corn. On 
this diet the Crows regained some of the weight they had 
lost, weiohino; the next mornino- sixteen and one-half and 
thirteen and one-half ounces respectively. On the 24:th they 
were fed more than twelve ounces, and the larger bird lost 
half an ounce and the smaller gained about the same weight. 
On the 2r)th they received over seventeen ounces of food, 
the smaller bird gaining another half ounce and the larger 
l>ird remaining the same. No. 1 now weighed sixteen ounces 
and Xo. 2 fourteen and one-half ounces. The next day, 
with twelve ounces of food, the smaller bird lost one-half 
ounce and the larger bird made no gain. Evidentl}^ where 
any gain ^vas made by one bird on this amount of food the 
bird either got more than its share, or found some food in 
the yard. 

On August 28 nearly twenty-seven ounces of food were 
given. This was all vegetal matter except thirty grass- 
hoppers (one-third of an ounce). It was all eaten, and 
apparently all needed, for neither bird increased in weight. 
No. 1 losing half an ounce. It seemed evident throughout 
the ex})eriment that the ])irds required nmch animal food, 
and when vegetal food alone was given, a larger amount 


than usual was needed. The next day about twenty ounces 
of food, containing a large proportion of animal matter, were 
oiven ; and on August 30 the larger bird had again regained 
its weight of seventeen ounces, while the other held its own. 
So far the experiment seemed to show that when they were 
fed from twenty to twenty-five ounces of a ration containing 
both animal and vegetable food the birds held their own or 
o-ained sliirhtlv ; but if fed less than twenty ounces of this 
ration, one or both of the birds fell otl' in weight. 

After the death of one bird the other and all its food were 
weighed daily. All opportunity to secure scattered grain or 
other food than that weighed was denied. The greatest 
weight reached by this bird was eighteen and one-half ounces 
on September 13, on which date it was fed as much corn, 
cucumber, and tomato as it cared to eat, also a frog, two 
toads, twenty-seven grasshoppers, thirty-one borers, eight 
l)eetles, and eighteen crickets. The record of the twelve 
days during which this bird was alone seems to show that 
less than eight ounces of food daily was hardly sufficient for 
its needs, as on a less amount it tended to lose in weight, 
while when the amount was increased to ten ounces or more 
the tendency toward a daily gain in weight was marked. 

When the quantity of food given these birds was largely 
reduced in any one day, there was a corresponding reduction 
in their weight. On September 13 the larger Crow was given 
only two ounces of tomato, tifty-six grasshoppers, twelve 
crickets, and a little grain, — in all, not nuich over three 
ounces of food. The next morning it had lost one and 
one-half ounces in weir//it. The fact that a bird, while in 
confinement and without a great amount of exercise, could 
lose nearly ten per cent, of its weight in a single day, even 
when fed a ({uantity of food equal to about one-sixth its 
weight, shows how dei)endcnt Ijirds are upon their supply 
of food. 

If this single experiment can be regarded as conclusive, 
we may assume that young Crows, when fiedged, al^solutely 
require a daily amount of food ecjual to about one-half their 
own weight ; and it is evident that the}^ will consume much 
more than this to their own advantage if they can get it. It 


seems quite probable that a j^oung l)ii'd at liberty, depend- 
ing large 1}^ on its own exertions to procure food, and thus 
exercising more than in confinement, would require still 
more food to repair the consequent extra waste of the 

Others have made similar experiments with Crows in con- 
finement. Samuels says that he has kept specimens in cap- 
tivity, and has proved by observation that at least eight 
ounces of such food as frogs, fish, etc., are eaten daily by 
our common Crow. He says that a Crow can live on a very 
limited allowance, but believes eight ounces to be a reasonable 
amount. He leaves us to infer that he is speaking of adult 
Crows, which undoubtedly require less food than their grow- 
ing young. 1 

Weed and Dearl)()rn kept a wounded adult Crow in a small 
box, twelve by thirteen b}" twenty inches. In these cramped 
(juarters, where the bird could hardly stretch its wings, it 
ate fish for three days in succession at the rate of four and 
eighty-three hundredths ounces per day, — more than a 
quarter of its own Aveight, or about half what our young 
Crows ordinarily re(juired.^ 

Probably the amount of food eaten hy this captive bears 
about the same proportion to the quantity eaten b}^ a vigor- 
ous Crow at liberty that the food taken by a prisoner in 
solitary confinement, or that consumed by a sedentary clerk, 
bears to the amount required by a strong man at hard labor, 
or by a prize-fighter in training. 

The amount of food taken by young l:)irds could not be 
disposed of by such limited powers of digestion as are given 
to other animals. What a wonderful contrast is presented 
between the quantity of food required by the hot-blooded, 
quick-pulsing, active bird, and that needed by the cold- 
blooded vertebrates. Many reptiles can live for months 
without food. Even some of the mammals do not eat at 
all during their hibernation. 

' Birds of New England, hy Edward A. Samuels, 1870, p. 359. 
"^ Birds in their Relations to Man, by Clarence M. Weed and Ned Dearborn, 
1!)03. p. 01. 



The Time required for Assimilation of Food. 

If we assume that the stomach and oesophagus of a young 
Crow can contain but an ounce of food, then the bird would 
be required to digest from eight to twelve meals a day, 
according to its appetite and opportunity. The question at 
once arises, IIow can any digestive system complete sucli a 
task? Experiments were made with our young Crows to 
determine the time required for 
digestion. The birds were kept 
without food until the stomach 
and intestines were empty. 
They were then fed insects' eggs, 
in the belief that some parts of 
the shells would escape the grind- 
ing processes of the stomach and 
be voided in the excreta. Sub- 
sequent occurrences justified this 
belief. Ten experiments of this 
kind were made with the two 

From the time when the birds 
began to feed until the time when the first eggshells were 
dropped in the excreta there elapsed, on the average, one 
hour, twenty-nine minutes and forty-five seconds. The 
shortest time was forty-eight minutes, and the longest one 
hour and fifty-four minutes. This, it should be noted, was 
not merely the time tliat the food remained in the stomach, 
but the full interval occupied in digesting and assimilating 
it, for within this period at least a part of the food had 
passed the entire digestive tract. 

In most cases all evidence of the food used in the experi- 
ment had disappeared from the excreta in from two to two 
and one-half hours. If we contrast this with the slower 
digestion of man, we shall see how birds readily dispose of 
more meals each day than a man is capable of digesting. To 
learn how long food remains in a Crow's stomach, it would be 
necessary to kill a large number of Crows, each being killed 
at a lonjrer or shorter interval after it had filled its empty 

Fig. 23. 

- Young Crows, well 


stomach. I am not aware that this has ever been done, but 
have no doubt that the majorit}^ of the fjirmers of Massachu- 
setts would not object to the destruction of a considerable 
number of young Crows for this purpose, or any other. 

The Crow which was accidentally killed had fed freely 
upon grasshoppers for twenty minutes, and died ten minutes 
after the close of the feeding period. An examination (^f 
the alimentary canal showed the stomach to be quite full, 
but less than fifty per cent, of its contents, consisting mainly 
of the hard parts of wings, thoraces, and legs, was in a con- 
dition to be recognized. The strongly chitinized pronota 
and hind femora of the grasshoppers offered the most resist- 
ance to the digestive processes. The other fifty per cent, 
of the stomach contents had been so finely divided, in the 
ver}^ brief time that it had been in that receptacle, that one 
would hardly have cared to express a positive opinion as 
to its identity. This condition of stomach contents is not 
unusual. In examinino- the contents of birds' stomachs we 
often find more than fifty per cent, of the food so finely 
connniimted and mixed as to be practically unrecognizalile. 
The presence of insects in a bird's stomach is sometimes made 
known by a mere mandible or some other recognizable por- 
tion, which has resisted for a time the grinding of this remark- 
able digestive organ. It is significant, however, that, in the 
thirtv minutes intervening between the beginning of a feeding 
l)eriod and death, the stomach had thoroughly pulverized 
half the food eaten. 

This experiment was carried further with the second Crow. 
On September 14 the only food materials given the bird were 
six crickets and eleven grasshoppers. These it ate within 
four minutes, and thirty minutes later it was killed. 

Old}' about twenty-five per cent, of the stomach contents 
was recogrnizable, l)ut this is not all. The alimentary canal 
was thirty-six inches in length, and in the intestine at a 
distance of from twelve to fifteen inches from the stomach, 
and again at twenty-five to twenty-eight inches from that 
organ, were found a few small pieces of the fore wings of the 
grassh()i)p('rs. As the bird had not been fed since 4 o'clock 
in the afternoon of the previous day, these remains probably 

PLATE IV. — Red-eyed Vireo feeding Young. (Photograph by 
C. A. Keed.J 


came from the insects fed to it not more tlian thirty-three 
minutes before it was killed. 

In summing up the results, Mr. Kirklaud says : "I think, 
from what we have seen, that we might expect to find the 
gizzard empty in from one to one and one-half hours." 

Such an experiment should be carried further, but enough 
was learned to show that the stomach of a young Crow prob- 
ably can be filled w^tli food and emptied of the digested 
material from eight to twelve times a day during the long 
days of midsummer, when their appetites are at their best. 

Digestion in some of the smaller birds is doubtless even 
more rapid, for they are enabled to dispose of a still larger 
amount of food in proportion to their size. Mr. Owen in- 
forms us that the time required for a blueberry to traverse 
the digestive tract of his Hermit Thrush was practically an 
hour and a half. iNIr. C. J. ]\Iaynard once told me that in 
a similar experiment a Cedar Bird passed the residue of food 
within thirty minutes after the food Avas taken. Weed and 
Dearborn found that a blackberry Avas digested by a young 
Cedar Bird in half an hour. 

The Number of Insects eaten by Young Birds in the Nest. 

The remarkable appetites of young birds keep their de- 
voted parents very bus}^ supplying food most of the time 
from morning till night. The mother bird spends practically 
all her time either in searching for food, brooding, protect- 
ing, and feeding the young, or cleaning the nest (for all the 
smaller birds that nest openly are obliged to dispose of the 
excreta of their young, that it may neither befoul the nest 
nor betray its location to their enemies). Most of the visits 
made by the old birds to the nest during the day are for the 
dual purpose of feeding the young and keeping the nest 
clean. Records ke})t of the number of these visits show 
the industry of the parent birds and the food capacity of 
the young. 

My assistant, ]\lr. F. H. Mosher, watched a pair of Red- 
eyed Vireos feeding their young on June 13, 1899. There 
were three nestlings, about one day old. At this early age 
the }'oung of most small birds are fed mainly by regur- 



gitation. The parent bird.s swallow the food, and prol)al)ly 
soften or parth^ digest it, ejecting it afterwards through their 
own mouths into the open mouths of the young. No attempt 
was made, therefore, in this case, to determine the character 
or amount of the food, for fear of disturljing the parents and 
interrupting the regularity of the feeding. The birds were 

fed ])etween 7 and 8 a.m. four- 
teen times ; between 8 and 9, 
nine times; between 9 and 10, 
twelve times ; between 10 and 
1 1 , seven times ; between 1 1 
and 12, sixteen times; between 
12 and 1, nine times ; between 1 
and 2, twelve times ; between 

2 and 3, fifteen times ; between 

3 and 4, thirteen times ; and be- 
tween 4 and 5, eighteen times. 

It will be seen that one or 
the other })arent came to the 
nest with food one hundred and 
twenty-tive times in ten hours, 
even when the observer was 
watching near by ; but this leaves four hours unaccounted 
for, to fill out the long June day, from dawn to evening. 
The feeding periods averaged less than six minutes apart dur- 
ing the time the birds were watched ; so it seems probable 
that, had the entire record for the day been kept, at least 
one hundred and fifty visits to the young would have been 
recorded. Young birds are fed oftenest at morning and even- 
ing, or during the hours when these Vireos were not watched. 
Mr. Mosher watched a pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks 
feeding their young on June 12, 1899. The young were 
nearly ready to leave the nest, as one of them stood on a 
branch near its edge. The nest was situated about fifteen 
feet from the ground, in the to}) of a slender wliite birch in 
the woods. The ground was well covered with hazel l)uslies 
about three and one-half feet high, which nearly concealed 
the ol)server. During the first half hour he made no record, 
as the birds were alarmed by his })resence. As they com- 

Pig. 24. — Passenger Pi<reon feeding 
bv regurgitation. Prom Samuels. 

VALUE OF Jl/ni).S TO MAN. 53 

iiieneed bringing food regularl}', he began the record at (3 
A.3I. Between (5 and 7 the}" came to the nest fifty-two times ; 
between 7 and 8, forty-seven times ; between 8 and 9, forty- 
three times ; between 9 and 10, thirty times ; between 10 
and 11, thirty-six times ; ))etween 11 and 12, twenty-seven 
times; between 12 and 1, thirty-two times; between 1 and 
2, thirty-eight times ; between 2 and 3, forty-one times ; 
between 3 and 4, twenty-two times ; between 4 and 5, fifty- 
eiglit times. The majority of the larvae seemed to ])e leaf 
rollers from the oak trees. The female came on the average 
about three times to each two visits of the male ; he was 
occupied much of the time in keeping other birds away from 
the vicinity of the nest. 

AYhen the young of most insect-eatino- birds are well OTown, 
the parents feed them whole insects just as they are ])icked 
up. With a glass, therefore, the insects brought by these 
Grosbeaks could be seen in the l)irds' lieaks. Their lust}"^ 
3'oungsters were fed almost entirely on insect larvte or cater- 
pillars taken from the forest trees. On only four visits did 
either parent bird bring less than tA\'o larvcO each. In eleven 
hours, then, they made four hundred and twenty-six trips, 
and must have fed their nestlings at least eight hundred and 
forty-eight larvt\3 or caterpillars, and possibh' more, as a bird 
has been observed to carry as many as eleven small cater- 
pillars on one visit to its young. 

In comparing the records of the two nests as given above, 
it is noticeable that the Grosbeaks fed the young nmcli oftener 
than did the Vireos. This difference is due mainly to the 
fact that about the time the 3"oung birds are ready to fly, 
as were these Grosbeaks, they require nmcli more food than 
when first hatched, as was the case with the Vireos. This, 
of course, is mainlv owin<>: to their increased size. The dif- 
ference in the number, age, and size of the young probably 
accounts largely for the great variation in the number of 
visits made to them In' thc-})arcnt birds, as recorded by dif- 
ferent observers. 

I have published some notes on the feeding of young 
Chickadees l)y the parent l>irds. Six visits were made to 
these vouno; within thirteen minutes. In each case the bills 


of the parent birds were tilled with a mass of small insects, 
mainly ants and plant lice, to which were added a few spiders. 
These youno; were also fullv fledo-ed.^ 

The number of young in the nests of the smaller perch- 
ing birds is usually from three to five. In the case of the 
Chickadees mentioned above there were seven, and in another 
case that I have recently observed there were nine. Chick- 
adees and Wrens, because of their insectivorous habits and 
the large broods they rear, probably reach the maxinunn in 
the number of insects brought to their j^oung. 

Dr. Judd mves an account of the feeding of some younof 
House Wrens by the mother bird alone. These young Wrens 
were about three-fourths grown, and Avere visited one hun- 
dred and ten times in four hours and thirty-seven minutes. 
They were fed, during this time, one hundred and eleven 
insects and spiders. Among these were identified one Avhite 
grub, one soldier bug, three millers (Xoctuidse), nine spiders, 
nine grasshoppers, fifteen May flies, and thirty-four cater- 
pillars. On the following day, in three hours and five min- 
utes, the young were fed sixty-seven times. ^ 

Professor Aughey states that during a locust year in 
Nebraska he saw a pair of Long-billed jNIarsh Wrens take 
thirty-one small locusts to their nest in an hour. It is inter- 
esting to note that a pair of Rock A^'^rens that he Avatched 
took just thirty-two locusts to their nest in another hour.^ 

Another observer is reported by Dr. Barton to have seen 
a pair of Wrens coming from their box and returning with 
insects from forty to sixty times an hour. In an exceptional 
hour they carried food seventy-one times. He estimates 
that at that time the}^ took from the garden six hundred 
insects per day.^ 

Few people, unfortunately, who are (jualified for the task, 

^ Two Years with the Birds on a Farm. Animal report of the INIassachusetts 
State Board of Agriculture, 1902, p. 129. 

2 The Birds of a Maryland Farm, by Sylvester D. Judd. Bulletin No. 17, 
United States Department of Agriculture, Division of Biological Survey, 
pp. 45, 46. 

* Notes on the Nature of the Food of Nebraska Birds, by S. A. Aughey. First 
Keport of the United States Entimiological Commission, 1877, Appendix, p. IS. 

* Fragments of the Natural History of Pennsylvania, by Dr. B. S. Barton, 
Bart T, 1799, p. 22. 

PLATE V. — Chickadee. Female, with mass of insects in her 
bealx, entering- nesting box at autlior's window. (From Ameri- 
can Uruitliology.) 



have both the thue and patience to watch the feeding of joung 
birds for an entire day. Dr. C. M. Weed and Mr. W. F. 
Fiske, however, have accomplished this feat. They watclied 
the nest of a Chi})[)ing Sparrow from 3.40 a.m. to 7.49 p.m. 
on June 22, 181)8. The valuable record of these observations 

Fig. 25. — Cliipi)ing Siiarrow feeding young. 

shows that these two birds, having only three young in the 
nest, visited it at least one hundred and eighty-two times 
during that da>' ; and Dr. Weed says that they made almost 
two hundred trips, although some of the tri})s evidently were 
made to furnish grit for grinding the food. The birds w^erc 
busy from daylight to dark, with no long intermission. The 
food, so far as identified, consisted largely of caterpillars. 
Crickets and crane flies were seen, and it was believed that 
a great variety of insect food was brought. ^ 

A committee on useful birds, selected from the Pennsyl- 
vania State Board of Agriculture, reported that an observer 
had watched the nest of a pair of ]\Iartins for sixteen hours, 
from 4 A.M. until 8 p.m., to see how many visits the parent 
birds made to the young. One hundred and nineteen visits 
were made by the male and one hundred and ninetj^-three by 
the female.^ 

' The Feeding H,il)its of the Chipping Sparrow, hy C. M. Weed. Bullt'tin 
No. 55, New Hampshire College Agricultural Experiment Station, 1898. 
- C. C. Musselman, in Agriculture of Pennsylvania, 1887, p. 105. 


The number of insects consumed daily by young birds in 
their nests is difficult of estimation, because of the v^ariation 
in size among insects and the great difference in size between 
the mature insect and the newly hatched larva. Five hun- 
dred of the 3^oung larvte of a moth might occupy less space 
in the stomach of a bird than would the moth itself; while a 
thousand aphids might take no more room than a full-grown 
caterpillar. Nevertheless, many estimates have been made, 
based on known data, as to the number of insects fed to 
young birds. 

The introduced House Sparrow {^Passer domesticus), com- 
monly called the English Sparrow, undoubtedly eats fewer 
insects, here, in proportion to the rest of its food than any of 
our smaller native birds. The young are fed very largely on 
grain and other non-insectivorous food. Still, a Sparrow's 
nest in the city of Paris is said to have contained seven hun- 
dred pairs of chafer wing-cases.^ 

Mons. P. Pelicot gives a table of the estimates, made by 
several foreign authors, of the numbers of insects eaten by 
Sparrows in a given time. These approximations vary from 
that of Blatin, who estimates that two Sparrows Avill destroy 
twelve hundred chafers in twelve days, to that of Tschudi, 
who l:)elieves that a single Sparrow will destroy iifteen hun- 
dred larvic within twenty-four hours. '^ 

Bradley mentions Avatching a bird's nest and discovering 
that five hundred caterpillars were consumed in one day.^ 
He says (according to Sanmels) that a pair of Si)arrows 
will destroy thirty-three hundred and sixty cateri)illars for 
a week's ftimily supplies. A single pair of Sparrows is 
reported to have carried to the nest five hundred insects in 
an hour. 

These statements may be exaggerated, but if they approx- 
imate the facts, what innnense numbers of insects must be 

^ Notes on Recent Progress of Agricnltural Science, by David A. Wells. Re- 
port (on Agriculture) of the United States Commissioner of Patents, 18(!1, p. 323. 

^ A Favorable View of the English Sparrow, a Review of " Un Passereau 
a Protcger," Insect Life, Riley and Howard, Vol. IV^, 1891, p. 153, published by 
the United States I)ei)artment of Agriculture. 

' Birds and Rird Tjaws, by J. R. Dodge. Annual Report of the United States 
Commissioner of Agriculture, 18(54, pp. 436, 437. 


consumed by the young of native Ma.ssaclm.setts Inrd.s that 
are fed ahnost entirely upon insect food. 

Weed and Dearborn Avatclied three young Cedar Birds in 
the nest for the fifteen days they remained there, and found 
that tliey each devoured not less than ten ounces of food in 
that time, or more than ten times tlieir weight on the day 
they left tlie nest. 

The Amount of Food eaten by Adult Birds. 

There is no way of determining how mucli food is required 
daily by the adult bird, except it be kept in confinement ; in 
that case, the food taken can be weighed or measured. This 
has been done. Dr. Stanley mentions sixteen Canaries which 
ate one hundred grains of food })er day, or an amount equal 
to about one-sixth of their weight, which is probably much 
less than Avild birds of the same species would eat.^ Seed- 
eating birds, like the Canary, however, require less food 
than the insectivorous species, as their food is more con- 
centrated. Mr. Robert Ridgway, the distinguished ornithol- 
ogist of the Smithsonian Institution, makes the statement in 
the American Naturalist for August, 18(i9, that a Western 
Kingbird {Tijrannus vertkalis), which he ke}^t in a cage, 
devoured one hundred and twenty locusts in a single day. 

Compared with the wild bird, the specimen that is caged 
or confined is a poor, Aveak thing at best, short of breath, 
low in vitality, and lacking the vigorous assimilative powers 
of the free bird. Keepers of cage birds, who know well 
the capacity of tlieir pets, find it difficult to believe that 
wild birds can possibly consume the amount of food that 
actually has been found in their stomachs by economic 

When the reader is told that thirty grasshoppers were found 
in the stomach of a single Catbird, he conjures u}) a mental 
photograi)h of the full-grown grasshopper (the imago) that 
he sees in the field in late summer, and fails to remember, 
perhaps, that grasshoppers come from eggs, and in their 
growth to maturity may be found of all sizes, between that 
of the newly hatched insect and the full-winged hopper. 

^ History of Birds, p. 225. 


While the Catbird's stomach might not be large enough to 
contain thirty full-grown locusts, it would easily contain more 
than thirt}^ small ones. The statement that thirty grasshop- 
pers were found in the Catbird's stomach might also need 
modification in another way. The least fragment of an in- 
sect found in a bird's stomach is usually considered good 
proof that the bird has eaten that insect. There might be 
found in the stomach of a bird a mass of unrecognizable 
material, from which the expert would be able to sort out 
and recognize enough of the harder parts of different grass- 
hoppers to })rove that thirty of these insects, of consider- 
able size, had been eaten within a certain time, even though 
a greater part of those first swallowed had already disap- 
peared from the stomach. 

Prof. F. E. L. Beal writes me as follows regarding the 
methods used at the United States Department of Agri- 
culture in counting the insects found in the stomachs of 
birds : — 

In the case of grasshoppers and caterpillars it is the jaws (mandi- 
bles) that are counted. Birds when not sleeping appear to eat all the 
time when not occupied in other duties, sueli as nest-making or feeding 
their young. The process of digestion is continuous. The more easily 
digested parts pass out of the stomach very quickly-, but the liard ])arts 
remain somewhat longer. In this way when a bird is feeding upon 
grasslioppers the jaws of those first eaten remain after the rest of 
the body has passed on. AVhen the stomach is opened the jaws are 
counted, and for every two we estimate at least one grasshopper killed. 
In cases where only a few insects were involved I have taken the pains 
to pair the jaws, and in tliis way have often found that the number tliat 
had l)een eaten was more tlian half the number of jaws. In this work 
each liead that appears to be whole is carefully examined, to see tliat it 
has not lost one or more of its jaws ; were it not for this precaution, 
the insect might be counted twice. Caterpillars, like grasshoppers, 
a,re easily broken up, and so the heads are counted when whole ; other- 
wise the jaws are counted. 

The variation in size of different species of insects should 
also be considered. AVhile the caterpillars of some species 
of moths reach three or four inches in length, others never 
grow to be half an inch long. 

These and other similar con.siderations, well known to 


the economic ornithologist, lead him to accept as facts the 
extreme statements made by competent investigators. 

It will be seen from the foregoing explanations that, while 
a large number of injurious insects found in a bird's stom- 
ach may indicate its usefulness, it may not always mean that 
it has eaten a great bulk or quantity of such food. 

The question Avhich most interests the farmer, however, 
is, not so much what birds require to sustain life, as how 
much they will eat if they can get their fill. If in times of 
plenty birds will eat more than they really need, then they 
become more useful or injurious, as the case may be, than 
they would be if they ate only enough to live. The amount 
of food that has been foiuid in l)irds' gizzards indicates that 
they will eat until surfeited. 

Professor Beal, who has examined the contents of over 
twenty thousand stomachs, says, regarding this habit : — 

The majority of people have no idea of how much these insects can 
be compressed in the stomach of a bird. It is often the case tliat when 
a stomach has been opened, and the contents f)laced m a pile, the lieap 
is two or three times as large as the original stomach with the food all 
in it. ]\Ioreover, in the eases where remarkable numbers of insects 
have been found, the crops or gullets usually have been full, as well as 
the stomach itself. It is a fact, perhaps not generally known, that with 
birds that have no special enlargement of the gullet in the nature of a 
crop, the wliole gullet is used for the jiurpose ; and when favorite food 
is abundant, the Inrd will fill itself to the throat. I have seen a Snow- 
bird so full of seeds that Ihey were jjlainly in sight when the beak was 
opened, and from the 1)111 to the stomach was a solid mass of seed. 
The stomachs of birds are often packed so hard and tight with food 
that it is a wonder how the process of digestion can go on ; but it does, 

In giving the maximum amounts of food found in birds' 
stomachs, I shall be obliged to refer to the publications of 
the Bureau of Biological Survey of the United States De- 
partment of Agriculture ; and it is but just to say here 
that the world owes much to Dr. Merriam, chief of the 
Bureau, for his indefatigaljle labors in behalf of science and 

In connection with the work of the survey, the contents 
of more than thirtv-tive thousand bird stomachs have been 


examined, and much has been done in observing the feed- 
inof habits of birds in the field. The work in economic orni- 
thok)gy performed by Merriam, Fisher, Barrows, Beal, and 
Judd is of great vahie. Its resuhs rank above those of 
all other similar investigations, and must be considered as 

Professor Beal found in the stomach of a Yellow-billed 
Cuckoo two hundred and seventeen fall webworms, and in 
another two hundred and fifty American tent caterpillars. 
Two Flickers were found to have eaten respectively three 
thousand and five thousand ants. Sixty grasshoppers were 
found in the stomach of a Xighthawk. 

Professor Harvey found five hundred mosquitoes in a 
Nighthawk's stomach. In this case the insects must have 
been fully grown, as the larva? of the mosquito are found 
mainly in water, and the Nighthawk takes its food on the 
Aving. The stomach of this useful bird is nmch larger in pro- 
portion to its size than that of most other birds ; but sev- 
enty-five hundred seeds of the yellow Avood sorrel had 1)een 
eaten by a Mourning Dove, sixty-four hundred hj another, 
and ninety-two hundred seeds, chiefly of weeds, were found 
in another. Here we have twenty-three thousand one hun- 
dred seeds, mostly those of weeds, eaten at a meal by three 
birds. Probably where these large numbers are given, the 
result is approximate, and is arrived at by counting a part 
of the contents for a measure, and from this estimating the 
rest in liulk. 

Dr. Judd says that the stomachs of four Bank Swallows 
contained, all together, just two hundred ants, and that a 
Nighthawk has been known to eat one thousand at a single 
meal. He speaks of seventeen hundred seeds of weeds hav- 
ing been taken at one feeding by a Bob-white ; three thou- 
sand leguminous seeds were found in the stomach of another, 
and no less than five thousand seeds of i)igeon grass were 
taken from a third. Dr. Warren has taken twenty-eight 
cutworms from the stomach of a Red-winged Blackbird. 
Stomachs of Snowflakes have each contained from five 
hundred to fifteen hundred seeds of amaranth. Professor 
Forlies found in the stomachs of seven Cedar Birds a number 


of cankerworins varying from seventy to one hundred and 
one each, the number found in most cases averaging nearly 
one hundred for each liird. 

A Ruffed Grouse, killed in winter, had in its crop twelve 
leaves of sheep laurel and four huncU'ed and thirty-five buds 
and bits of liranches, all taken for its morning meal. The 
crop of another contained over five hundred buds and twigs. 
As these birds eat such food l)oth at mornino- and at nig-ht, it 
would seem that they must require daily, for these two meals 
alone, between eight hundred and one thousand buds and 
twigs. 1 

The following notes, received from Professor Beal since 
the above was written, are of great interest : — 

From the stoniadi of a Franklin's (iull {Lams franklinii) there were 
taken seventy' entire grasshoppers and the jaws of fiftj'-six more ; from 
another, ninety grasshoppers and one hundred and two additional jaws ; 
from another, fortj^-eight grasshoppers and seventy more jaws ; and still 
another contained sixty-seven grasshoppers. Another stomach of this 
species contained sixty-eight crickets. These grasshoppers and crickets 
were each more than one inch in length. We examined the stomach 
of a Franklin's Gull which contained three hundred and twentj'-seven 
entire nj-mphs of dragon flies, each three-fourths of an inch in length. 
In the stomach of a Cliff Swallow were found one himdred entire 
beetles (^Aphodius inquinatus), with remains of others. These insects 
are a little more than three-eighths of an inch in length. We are now 
examining birds' stomachs from Texas, and from the stomach of a Yel- 
low-billed Cuckoo were taken the remains of eightj^-two caterpillars 
that originally were from one to one and a half inches in length. From 
another stomach were taken eighty-six, and from forty to sixty from 
several others. 

All evidence ac(][uired by observation as to the amount of 
food eaten by wild birds at liberty must perforce be frag- 
mentary, for such observation is necessarily limited to brief 
periods. The diffictdties attending such work make its re- 
sults somewhat uncertain and unsatisfactory ; nevertheless, 
some information as to the quantity of food eaten by wild 
l)irds may be obtained in this way. Vultures are said to so 
gorge themselves that they are unable to fly. I have known 

^ Birds in their Relation to Man, by Clarence M. Weed and Ned Dearborn, 
190.3, p. 02. 


a Goshawk in winter to kill a domestic Cock of more than 
its own weight, and devour the greater part at two meals. 
I have learned, by following certain Warblers and Titmice 
through the woods, that their search for and consumption of 
insects are almost continuous during most of the forenoon. 
As the noon hour approaches they become less active, and 
on warm days devote some time to resting and bathing. In 
the afternoon their activity increases, until toward night 
their quest for food is almost as strenuous as in the early 
morning. They are, therefore, actuall}^ engaged for the 
larger part of the day in capturing and eating insects. In 
feeding wild birds in winter I have noticed that Chickadees 
come to the food sujiplied for them about three times an hour 
all day long, and that in the intervals thev are mainly occu- 
pied in finding their natural food. On May 28, 1898, Mr. 
Mosher watched a })air of Northern Yellow-throats eating 
plant lice from the birches in the ^Middlesex Fells Reserva- 
tion, where these insects swarmed. He was e(|uip^)ed with 
a good glass, and concealed close to the spot where the birds 
were feeding, and so was able to count in turn the number 
of times each bird picked up an insect. One of these War- 
blers apparentl}^ swallowed eighty-nine of these tiny insects 
in one minute. The pair continued eating at this rate for 
forty minutes. Mr. Mosher states that they nuist have eaten 
considerably over seven thousand plant lice in that time. It 
Avould seem impossible for the birds to crowd that number 
of insects into their stomachs ; but we must remember that 
the insects were infinitesimal in size, soft-bodied, easily com- 
pressed in the stomach, and quickly digested, so that by the 
time a part were eaten those first taken would be well dis- 
l)osed of, leaving room for more. Mr. Mosher is a very 
careful, painstaking, and trustworthy observer ; undoubtedly 
his statement is accurate ; ]>ut, to eliminate any possibility 
of error, we will assume for purposes of calculation that 
they ate only thirty-five hundred in an hour. 

A })air of Yellow-throats (presumal)ly the same) were seen 
to come dail}' and many times each day to the birch trees 
which were infested with these aphids. Probal)ly they spent 
at least three hours each dav feedin": on these insects. If 


the two birds ate onl}'- thirty-five hundred an hour for three 
hours a daj, the}' would consume ten thousand five hundred 
aphids each day, or seventy-three thousand five hundred in 
a week. It requires no 
draft on the imagination 
to see how such appe- 
tites may become useful 
to the farmer if they are 
satiated on his insect 

Two Scarlet Tanagers 
w^ere seen eatino^ very 

'-^ - Fig. 26. — Yellow-throat catching birch aphuls. 

small caterpillars of the 

gipsy moth for eighteen minutes, at the rate of thirty-five 
a minute. These birds spent much time in that wa}". If 
we assume that they ate caterpillars at this rate for only an 
hour each day, they must have consumed daily twenty-one 
hundred caterpillars, or fourteen thousand seven hundred 
in a week. Such a number of caterpillars would be sufii- 
cient to defoliate two average apple trees, and so prevent 
fruitage. The removal of these caterpillars might enable the 
trees to bear a full crop. It is easily possible, therefore, 
for a single pair of these birds in a week's time to save the 
fruit of two average apple trees, — a crop worth from two 
to five dollars or more, according to the productiveness of 
the trees and the price paid for apples. 


Since birds evidently operate to check insect outbreaks, it 
follows that in their capacity of insect destroj^ers they must 
in many instances have saved trees and crops from destruc- 
tion by insect pests. If, however, we turn to the literature 
of agriculture, entomologj^ and ornitholog}^ we shall not find 
it replete with such instances. Still, there are enough on 
record to show that conspicuous services of birds have been 
noted occasionally ; and I am convinced by my own experi- 
ence that such checks to insect increase occur commonly, but 
escape both observation and record. 

Some brief but striking accounts of this class of occur- 


rences may be gleaned from European records. Sanmels 
writes that in Pomerania in 1JS47 an innnensc forest that was 
in danger of being utterly ruined by caterpillars was very 
unexpectedly saved by Cuckoos, which, though on the point 
of migrating, established themselves there for some weeks, 
and so thoroughly cleared the trees that the next year " neither 
depredators nor depredations were to be seen."^ He also 
speaks of a European outbreak of the gipsy moth (^Bombyx 
disjjar) in 1848, saying that the hand of man was powerless 
to work off the infliction, but that on the approach of winter 
Titmice and Wrens paid daily visits to the infested trees, 
and before spring had arrived the eggs of dispar were en- 
tirely destroyed. This account agrees with the following 
translation from Altum : — 

In the year 1848 endless nnmbers of the larvae of Bombyx dispar had 
eaten every leaf from the trees of Connt Wodzicki, so that they were 
perfectly bare. In the fall all the branches and limbs were covered 
with tlie egg clusters. After he had recognized the impracticability of 
it, he gave up all endeavor to remove them by hand, and prej^ared to 
see his beautiful trees die. Towards winter numerous flocks of Titmice 
and Wrens came daily to the trees. The egg clusters disapjjeared. In 
the spring twenty pairs of Titmice nested in the garden, and the larva 
plague Avas noticeably reduced. In the year 1850 the small feathered 
garden police had cleaned his trees, so that he saw them during the 
entire summer in their most beautiful verdure. - 

According to Reaumur, these larvae were so extremely 
numerous on the limes of the Alle verte at Brussels in 182() 
that many of the great trees of that noble avenue were nearly 
defoliated. The moths swarmed like Ijees in the summer. 
They were also very numerous in the park, and if one-half 
the eggs had hatched in the following spring, probably scarce 
a leaf would liave remained in these favorite places of public 
resort. Two months later, however, he could scarcely dis- 
cover a single Qo;^g cluster. This happy result was attriliuted 
to the Titmice and Creepers, which were seen busily running 
up and down the ti'ee trunks.'^ 

' Agricultural Value of Birds, liy E. A. Samuels. Annual Report of tlie 
Massacliusetts State Board of Agriculture, l<S65-()0, p]). 11(5, 117. 

■ Translated from Forstzoologie, II, 1880, p. .S24. 

^ I'eau. i .'-!.S7. Cited by Kirhy and Spence in their Introduction to Entomology, 
isr>7, i)p. 117, 118. 



The value of birds has ah'eady been recognized at the 
antipodes. Australian farmers have suffered greatly from 
inroads of locusts upon their crops and pastures. 

The Australian correspondence of the Mark Lane Express 
of March 7, 1892, had a i)aragraph relating to the value of 
the Ibis to farmers during the locust incursions of that }'ear 
and the jear previous. In the Glen Thompson district 
several large flocks, one said to number fully five hundred 
birds, were seen eating the young locusts in a wholesale 
manner. Other insectivorous birds were flourishing upon 
the same diet. Near Ballarat, Victoria, a swarm of locusts 
was noted in a i)add()ck ; and just as it was feared that all 
the sheep would have to be sold for want of grass, flocks of 
Starlings, Spoonbills, and Cranes made their appearance, and 
in a few days made so conqilete a destruction of the locusts 
that onl}" about forty acres of grass were lost.^ 

American farmers have had many similar experiences. 
AVhen the ^Mormons first settled in I^tah their crops were 
almost utterly destroyed by myriads of crickets that came 

Fig. 27.— The western cricket tliat destroyed the settlers' crops at Salt Lake. 
Natural size: after Glover. 

down from the mountains. Hon. Geo. Q. Cannon, as tem- 
porary chairman of the third irrigation congress, told how it 
happened. The first year's crop having been destroyed, the 
]\Iormons had sowed seed the second year. The crop prom- 
ised well, but when again the crickets appeared, the people 
were in danger of starvation. In describing the conditions 
in 1848 jNIr. (\innon says : — 

■ Insect Life, TJiley and Howard, lSOl-02, Vol. IV, p. 409. 



Black crickets came down by millions ami destroyed our grain 
crops ; pi'omising fields of wheat in the morning were by evening 
as smooth as a man's hand, — devoured by the crickets. . . . At this 
juncture sea Gulls came by hundreds and thousands, and before the 
crops were entirely destroyed these Gulls devoured the insects, so that 
our fields were entirely freed from them. . . . The settlers at Salt 
Lake regarded the advent of the birds as a heaven-sent miracle. . . . 
I have been along the ditches in the morning and have seen lumps of 
these crickets vomited up by the (iulls, so that they could again begin 

These "lumps of crickets" were probably pellets com- 
posed of indigestible portions of the insects, regurgitated 
by the l)irds. These crickets (^Anabrvs pniyurascens) trav- 

^^ "^s^^^-r^ ~ ^ 

Pig. 28. — Gulls saving croi)S by killing crickets. 

elled in enormous hordes, stopping at no obstacle, even 
crossing rivers. Several times afterward the crops of the 
Mormons were attacked by them, and were saved by the 
Gulls. 1 Dr. A. K. Fisher is authority for the statement 

^ This account of the deliverance of the Mormons by the Gulls is vouched for 
by many witnesses. See Irrigation Age, 1804, p. 188 ; also, Insect Life, Vol. VII, 
p. 275 ; Animal Report of the Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture, 1871, p. 
76; Annual Report of tlie United States Commissioner of Agriculture, 1871, p. 7S); 
and Second Annual Report of the United States Entomological Commis.sion, 
1878-79, p. IGG. 


that the bird referred to is undoubtedly Franklin's Gull 
(^Larus franklinil), which occurs in enormous flocks about 
the small fresh-water lakes of the northwest, and feeds in 
great companies on Orthoptera of all sorts. The Gulls Avere 
practically canonized by the grateful Mormons, and protected 
by both law and public sentiment, as a recognition of their 

Similar services were performed by birds during the great 
locust ravasfes which followed the settlement of the Missis- 
sippi valley. When large swarms of locusts appeared, nearly 
all birds, from the tiny Kinglet to the great Whoo})ing Crane, 
fed on them. Fish-eating birds, like the Great Blue Heron, 
flesh-eating birds, like the Hawks and Owls, shore l)irds. 
Ducks, Geese, Gulls, — all joined with the smaller land birds 
in the oreneral feast. Prof. Samuel Auo-hey learned this 
by dissecting birds and observing their feeding habits in 
Nebraska. In a paper published by him in 1877, but not 
often quoted, he gives some of the practical results of the 
work done by birds in protecting crops from the mighty 
swarms of locusts wdiich were devastating most of that 
region. He says : — 

In the spring of 1865 the locusts hatched out in countless numbers in 
northeastern Nebraska. Very few fields of corn and the cereal grains 
escaped some damage. Some fields were entirely destroyed, while 
others were hurt to the amount of from ten to seventy-five per cent. 
One field of corn northwest of Dakota City was almost literally covered 
with locusts, and there the indications were that not a stalk would 
escape. After, and about the time the corn was up, the Yellow-headed 
Blackbirds in large numbers made this field their feeding ground. 
Visiting the field frequently, I could see a gradual diminution of the 
number of the locusts. Other birds, especially the Plovers, helped the 
Yellow-heads ; and, although some of the corn had to be replanted once, 
yet it was the birds that made the crop that was raised possible at all. 
During the same season I A'isited Pigeon Creek valley, in this count}-, 
and I found among the eaten-up wheat fields one where the damage 
done was not over five per cent. The Irishman who pointed it out to me 
ascriljed it to the work of the l)irds, chief among which were the Black- 
bird and Plover, with a few Quail and Prairie Chii-kens. 

Professor Aughey speaks of a locality where, on several 
old fields, locusts hatched to the nimiber of about three hun- 


drecl to the square foot. Birds soon found them, and the 
ground was fre(|uented by Blackbirds, Plover, Curlews, 
Prairie Chickens and small land birds. Long before the 
middle of Juno most of the locusts had disa})peared. In 
1886 locusts, he says, invaded Cedar and Dixon counties in 
swarms that darkened the sun. Nevertheless, at one point 
under observation the great numl:>er of birds that attacked 
these insects very materially lessened their numbers. In 
1869 more than ninet}^ per cent, of the locusts in one 
neighborhood were destroyed, apparently by birds, in one 
week. Other experiences are given, and several interesting 
letters from farmers are published, one of which follows : — 

Dear Snj : — In answer to j-our (juestion about the birds and the 
locusts, I must say this : every farmer that slioots birds must be a fool. 
1 had wheat this last sirring on new breaking. The grasshoppers came 
out apparently as thick as the wheat itself, and indeed much thicker. I 
gave ujj that field for lost. Just then great numbers of Plover cariie, 
and flocks of Blackbirds and some Quail, and commenced feeding on 
this field. They cleaned out the locusts so well that I had at least 
three-fourths of a crop, and I know that without the birds I would not 
have had any. I know other farmers wliose wheat Avas saved in the 
same way. S. E. Goodmoke. 

Fremont, Neb. 

Another farmer wrote that the locusts hatched in immense 
numbers in his corn fields, but Hocks of Blackbirds came and 
destroyed the insects, so that he raised a good crop. In an- 
other case, related by State Senator Crawford, a wheat Held 
was swept clean by the locusts Avhen the wheat was about 
two inches high ; but flocks of Blackbirds came and de- 
voured the locusts, and the wheat sprang up again and made 
a good crop. The members of the United States Entomo- 
logical Commission were much impressed with the value of 
birds as locust destroyers. They said that the ocular dem- 
onstration of the usefulness of birds as insect destroj'ers was 
"so full and complete that it was impossible to entertain any 
doubt on this point." In one instance a farmer took one 
of the members of the commission out into the field, to 
show him how numerously the young locusts were hatching. 


When tliev arrived, the insects had disappeared from the 
place where they had been so abundant in the morning. 
The statement by the family that a Hock of Blackbirds had 
l)een there during the farmer's absence solved the mystery. 
In another instance a garden was attacked by an innumer- 
able host of little locusts. The owner battled bravely with 
them for awhile, but at last, giving up in despair, sat down 
to watch the destruction of his vegetables and flowers, when 
suddenl}^ a flock of Blackbirds alighted on the young cot- 
ton woods he had planted in his yard. Having chirped a 
song, as if to cheer him, they flew into the garden ; when 
they left, an hour or so later, the dreaded " hoppers " were 
ffone, and his srarden was saved. ^ 

A severe outbreak of the forest tent caterpillar [Alalaco- 
so)na disst)-ia) occurred in New York and some of the New 
England States in 18y7-l)<S. Thousands of acres of wood- 
land were devastated, great damao-e was done to the sui>ar- 
maple orchards of Xew York and Vermont, and the injury 
extended into Massachusetts. Birds and other natural ene- 
mies attacked the caterpillars vigorously in many localities, 
and by the year 1900 the plague had been reduced so that 
the injury was no longer seen. Miss Mary B. Sherman of 
Ogdensburg, X. Y., wrote on May 18 of that year that the 
town was then full of birds which were feeding on the cater- 
pillars. There had been numerous Warblers in the maples, 
and the Orioles, Sparrows, Robins, Cedar Birds, several 
species of Warblers, and probably the House Wren, Avere 
killing caterpillars. Birds were reported in large numl)ers 
in the county. On May 26 she wrote again, stating that 
there were practically no cater})illars left, cold weather hav- 
ing killed many, and the birds apparently having destroyed 
the remainder.^ 

The good accomplished by birds in cjuelling great insect in- 
vasions should be patent to all, but very few people realize 
what the birds are doing. Many Nebraskans failed to notice 

' First Report of the United States Entomological Commission. Riley, Pack- 
ard, and Thomas. 1877, pp. 335, 336, 338-344. 

- Report on the Injurious and Other Insects of the State of New York, by 
E. P. Felt, 1900, p. 1019. 


that birds were feeding on the locusts until Professor Aughey 
called their attention to this fact by articles published in the 

Birds are doing the same kind of work in Massachusetts 
to-day, in repressing smaller out))reaks of common insects. 
Had we more observing people to record such services, their 
amount and variety probably would astound us. Professor 
Beal saw a family of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks clear the })otato 
beetles from a potato patch of about one-fourth of an acre. 
Mr, p]. W. Wood of West Newton, a well-known horticultur- 
ist, informed me that during one season, when the spring can- 
kerworms {Paleacrita vernata) became quite numerous in his 
orchard, a pair of Baltimore Orioles appeared, built a nest 
near Ijy, and fed daily upon the cankerworms. This they 
continued to do assiduouslj^ ; by the time the 3"oung birds 
were hatched, the numbers of the worms were considerably 
reduced. The birds then redoubled their diligence, carry- 
ing ten or eleven worms to the nest at once. Soon the 
cankerworms had disappeared, and there has been no trouble 
from them for many years. 

Instances were recorded during the first State campaign 
against the gipsy moth, from 1890 to 1895, where small 
isolated moth colonies appeared to have been su})pressed 
and even annihilated by birds. A serious outbreak was 
discovered in Georgetown, Mass., in 1899. It had been in 
existence for a long time, but its spread had evidently been 
limited by the great number of birds that were feeding there 
on all forms of the moth. Several months later the State 
abandoned the work against the moth, and little hope was 
entertained that anything more than a severe check had been 
given the insect in Georgetown. Nevertheless, in the six 
years that have since elapsed comparatively few moths have 
been found in that locality. The most feasible explanation 
of this seems to be that up to 1906 the birds have kept the 
numbers of the moths below the point where they can do 
a})preciable injury. 

I have had several oj)portunities, within the last fifteen 
years, to watch the checking of insect uprisings by birds. 
One morning in the fall of 1904 I noticed in some poplar 



trees near the shore of the Musketa(]uid a .small flock of 
Mja'tle and Black-poll Warblers, busih^ feeding on a swarm 
of plant lice. There were not more than fifteen birds. The 
insects were mainly imagoes, and some of them Avere flying. 
The birds were pursuing these through the air, but were also 
seeking those that remained on the trunks and branches. I 
watched these birds 
for some time, noted 
their activity, and 
then passed on, but 
returned and ol)- 
served their move- 
ments quite closely 
at intervals all day. 
Toward night some 


Fig. 29. — Warblers destroying a swarm of plant lice. 

of the insects had 
scattered to neigh- 
boring trees, and a 
few of the birds 
were pursuing them 
there ; but most of 
the latter remained 
at or about the place 
where the aphis 
swarm was first seen, and they w^ere still there at sundown. 
The swarm decreased rapidly all day, until just before sunset 
it was difiicult to find even a few s}>ecimens of the insect. 
The birds remained until it was nearly dark, for they were 
still finding a few insects on the higher branches. The plant 
lice I had secured for identification Avere destroyed or lib- 
erated during the night, probably 1)y a deer mouse which 
frequented the camp ; so the next morning at sunrise I went 
to the trees to look for more specimens. The birds, how- 
ever, wxre there before me, and I was unable to find a single 
aphis on the trees. The last bird to linger Avas more suc- 
cessful than I, for it was still finding a few ; but it soon gave 
up the effort, and left for more fruitful fields. Probably a 
few in.sects escaped by flight : but in examining the locality 
in 1905 I could not find one. The apparently complete 


destruction of these insects may liave been due in part to 
the hard winter that ensued, but the effect produced by the 
Ijirds was most obvious. 

Such instances of the quelling of insect outbreaks by birds 
are noticeable, but the regulative influence steadily and 
perennially exerted b}' them, which tends to keep hundreds 
of species of injurious insects below the point where their 
injury to trees and plants would become apparent, is very 
seldom appreciated. 


Many cases have been noted where the destruction of birds 
has been followed by an immediate increase in the numbers 
of injurious insects. Frederick the Great, king of Prussia, 
being particularly fond of cherries, was annoj^ed to see that 
the Sparrow^s were destroying his favorite fruit. An edict 
was issued ordering Sparrow extermination. All the re- 
sources of the fowler were brought to bear, and the cam- 
paign w^as so successful that not only were the Sparrows 
destroyed, but many other birds were either killed or driven 
away by the extraordinary measures taken against the Spar- 
rows. Within two 3^ears cherries and most other fruits were 
wanting. The trees Avcre defoliated by caterpillars and other 
insects, and the great Frederick, seeing his error, imported 
Sparrows at considerable expense to take the place of the 
birds that had been killed.^ 

In the year 1798 the forests in Saxony and Brandenburg 
were attacked by a general mortality. The greater part of 
the trees, especialh' the firs and pines, died as if struck at 
the roots by some secret malady. The foliage was not de- 
voured by caterpillars ; the trees perished without showing 
any signs of external disease. This calamity became so gen- 
eral that the regency of Saxony sent naturalists and skillful 
foresters to find out the cause. They soon found it in the 
nniltiplication of one of the lepidoi)terous insects, which in 
its larval state fed within the tree upon the wood. Whcn- 

' Agricultural Value of Birds, liy E. A. Saiiuu'ls. Annual Report of the Mas- 
sachusetts State Board of Agriculture, l.S(jr)-()(), jip. 11(1, 117. 


ever any l){)ugh of the lir or the pine was broken this insect 
was found within it, and had often hollowed it out even to the 
bark. The naturalists reported that apparently the extraor- 
dinary increase of the insect was owing to the entire dis- 
appearance of several species of Woodpecker and Titmouse, 
which had not been seen in the forest for some years. ^ 

In 1858 Kearly wrote to the Entomologists' Intelligencer 
that a friend who had been spending a short time in Belgium 
informed him that in the ])revious year Sparrows and other 
birds had appeared in the i)ark at Brussels in unusual num- 
bers. These birds prol)ably were attracted by an unusual 
supply of insect food ; but complaint was made of the 
Sparrows as a nuisance, and their destruction was ordered. 
'"But," says Kearly, "it now turns out that in exterminat- 
ing the birds the park goers have got rid of one evil only 
to entail upon themselves a greater. Throughout the past 
summer the place has swarmed with insect pests." He says 
also that the larva of the gipsy moth stripped nearly all of 
the trees of their foliage, and was one of the chief offenders. 
He adds that, had the authorities known what Kirby and 
Spence say on this sul)ject (regarding the destruction of 
this insect by l)irds in Brussels in 182(>), they would have 
remained guiltless of killing their feathered protectors. 

During the year 1861 the harvests of France gave an un- 
usually poor return, and a commission to investigate the 
cause of the deficiency was appointed at the instance of the 
Minister of Ag-riculture.^ The commission took counsel 
of experienced naturalists, St. Hilaire, Prevost, and others. 
By this commission the deficiency w^as attributed in a great 
decree to the ravao:es of insects which it is the function of 
certain bii'ds to check. 

It seems that the French people had been killing and 
eating not merely the game birds, but the smaller birds 
as well. Insect-eating birds had been shot, snared, and 
trapped throughout the country. Fruit-eating and grain- 
eating species especially had been persecuted. Birds' eggs 

» Utility of Birds, by "Wilson P'la.tTK. Annual Report of the Massachusetts 
State Board of Agriculture, 18(;i, \^\^. (iti, (J7. 

^ Notes on the Progress of Agricultural Science, by David A. Wells. Report 
of the United States Commissioner of Patents, 1861, pp. 322, 323. 


had been taken in immense numbers. A single child had 
been known to come in at night with a hundred eggs, and 
the number of birds' eggs destroyed in the country each j^ear 
was esthnated at eighty to one hundred millions. Before 
such persecution the birds were actually dying out. Some 
species had already disappeared, and others were rapidly 
diminishing. As an apparent result of the destruction of 
birds, the vines, the fruit trees, the forest trees, and the 
ofrain in the fields, had suffered nmch from the attacks of 
destructive insects, that had increased as a result of the dis- 
turbance of nature's balance caused by the decrease of birds. 
In one department of the east of France the value of the wheat 
destroyed by insects in a single season was estimated at five 
million francs. It was concluded that by no agency save that 
of little birds could the ravages of insects be kept down. 
The commission called for prompt and energetic remedies, 
and suggested that the teachers and clergy should endeavor 
to put the matter in its proper light before the people. 

In 1895 I received a letter from Mons. J. O. Clercy, 
secretary of the Society of Natural Sciences, Ekaterinburg, 
Russian Silieria, in which he stated that the ravages of two 
species of cutworms and some ten species of locusts had con- 
tributed (together with the want of rain) to produce a famine 
in that region. One of the evident causes which permitted 
such a numerous propagation of insect pests was, he said, 
the almost complete destruction of birds, most of which had 
been killed and sent abroad bv wagonloads for ladies' hats. 
A law for the protection of birds was then enacted, and, said 
M. Clercy, "The poor little creatures are doing their best 
to reoccupy their old places in the woods and gardens." The 
reoccupation, however, did not go on as rapidly as did the 
destruction . ^ 

Mr. R. E. Turner, in an important paper upon insects, 
read before an agricultural conference at Mackay, Queens- 
land, stated that he considered that the decrease of insectiv- 
orous birds, owing to their indiscriminate shooting by the 
Kanakas on the plantations, had a great deal to do with the 

» The Gipsy Moth, by E. H. Forbush and C. H. Fernald, p. 206. Published 
by the Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture, 1896. 


increase of the sugar-cane insects, particularly white -grubs, 
which were then so abundant. ^ A similar effect was observed 
by the earl}^ settlers of America to folloAV the shooting of 
the birds which attacked their cro})s. Kalm states, in his 
Travels in America, that in 1749, after a great destruction 
among the Crows and Blackbirds for a legal reward of tliree 
pence per dozen, the northern States experienced a complete 
loss of their grass and grain crops. The colonists were 
obliged to import hay from England to feed their cattle. 
The greatest losses from the ravages of the Rocky ^Mountain 
locust were coincident with, or followed soon after, the de- 
struction by the people of countless thousands of Blackbirds, 
Prairie Chickens, Quail, Upland Plover, Curlew, and other 
birds. This coincidence seems significant, at least. 

Professor Aughey tells how this slaughter was accom- 
plished. He says that the Blackbirds and many other birds 
decreased greatly in Nebraska in the twelve years pre\'ious 
to 1877. He first went to the State in 1<S(U. He never saw 
the Blackbirds so abundant as they were during l.Sli.") over 
eastern Nebraska. Vast numbers of them were poisoned 
around the corn fields in spring and fall during the twelve 
years, so that often they were gathered and thrown into 
piles. This was done in the belief that the Blackbirds were 
damaging the cro})s, especially the corn. Great numbers of 
birds of other species were destroyed at the same time. A 
single orain of corn soaked with strychnine would suffice to 
kill a bird. In one autumn, in Dakota County alone, not 
less than thirty thousand lairds must have been destroyed in 
this way. Regarding this slaughter he wrote : — 

Supposing that each of these birds averaged eating one hundred and 
fifty insects each day, we then have the enormous number of one hun- 
dred and thirty-five million insects saved in this one county in one 
month that ought to have been destroyed through the infiuence of birds. 
When we reflect, further, that many of these birds were migratory, and 
that they helped to keep down the increase of insects in distant regions, 
the harm that their destruction did is beyond calculation. The killing 
of .such l)irds is no local loss ; it is a national, a continental loss.* 

' Insect Life, by Riley and Howard. 1894, Vol. VI, Xo. 4, p. 333. 
- First Report of the United States Entomological Commission. Riley, Pack- 
ard, and Thomas. 1877. pp. 343, 344. 


Professor Auo:hey gathered statistics regarding the killing 
of Quail and Prairie Chickens for the market during this 
period, and concluded that in thirty counties the average 
yearly slaughter of these birds must have been at least five 
thousand Quail and ten thousand Prairie Chickens for each 
county, or four hundred and fifty thousand birds in all. "We 
can only conjecture as to how great was the destruction of 
other game birds. 

The poisoning of birds in the west permitted an increase 
of many other insects besides the locusts. A farmer from 
Wisconsin informed me that, the Blackbirds in his vicinity 
having been killed off, the white grubs increased in number 
and destroyed the grass roots, so that he lost four hundred 
dollars in one year from this cause. 


The injury to trees and crops by insects is not the only 
evil that has followed the destruction of birds and other 
animals by man. Rapacious birds hold a chief place among 
the forces which are appointed to hold in check the gnawing 
mammals or rodents, which breed rapidly, and, unless kept 
within bounds, are very destructive to grass fields, crops, and 
trees. The great swarms of lemmings which have appeared 
from time to time upon the Scandinavian peninsula are his- 
torical. Their migrations, during which they destroy the 
grass or grain in their path, until finally they reach the sea 
and perish in a vain attempt to cross it, have been recorded 
often. A similar increase of rodents may take place any- 
where whenever their natural enemies are unduly reduced in 
numbers. Such cases are on record in England and Scot- 
land. In Stowe's Chronicle, in 1581, it is stated : — 

About Ilallontide last past (1580) in the marshes of Danessey Hun- 
dred, in a place called South Minster, in the county of Essex, there 
sodainlie appeared an infinite nuraljer of mice, which overwhelming the 
whole earth in the said marshes, did sheare and gnaw the grass by the 
rootes, spoyling and tainting the same with their venimous teeth in such 
sort, that the cattell which grazed tliereon were smitten witli a murraine 
and died thereof ; which vermine by policie of man could not be de- 
stroyed, till at the last it came to pass that there flocked together such 

■> ' -^^ 

PLATE VI. — Field or Meadow Mouse. A pi'oliflc and destructive 
species, lield in check by Hawks and Owls. ^ 

PLATE VIL — White-footed or Deer Mouse. A destructive wood 
mouse, tlie increase of wliicli is controlled by Hawks and Owls. 


a number of Owles, as all the shire was alile to yiekl, whereb}^ the 
marsh-holders were shortly delivered from the vexation of the said 
mice. The like of this was also in Kent. 

This reads a little like a fable or legend, and we must be 
permitted to doubt the statement as to the cause of the 
"murraine;" but the accuracy of the story, in the main, is 
corroborated by the records of later occurrences of a similar 
nature in the same region. Childrey also records this occur- 
rence in his Britannia Baconica, 1()<)0, p. 14. 

Similar "sore plagues of strange mice" were experienced 
in Essex again in 1(548, near Downham Market, Norfolk, in 
1745, and again in Gloucestershire and Hampshire in 1813- 
14.1 With regard to Norfolk, the following extract is of 
interest : — 

Once in aljout six or seven years, Hilgay, about one thousand acres, 
is infested with an incredible numl^er of tield mice, which, like locusts, 
would devour the corn of everv kind. Invariably there follows a pro- 
digious flight of Norway Owls, and tliey tarry until the mice are entirely 
destroyed by them.* 

Notwithstanding that both the cause and remedy of these 
frequent outbreaks of field mice were apparent, the de- 
struction of their natural enemies by man still goes on. In 
1875-7(> a noted outbreak of mice occurred in the borders of 
Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire, and Dumfriesshire, also in i)arts 
of Yorkshire. The abundance of the mice attracted Hawks, 
Owls, and foxes in unusual nimibers. In 1892 an alarming 
increase of these field mice again occurred in the south of 
Scotland. In Roxburgh and Dumfries alone the plague was 
estimated to have extended over an area of eighty thousand to 
ninety thousand acres. ^ A })reponderance of o])inion among 
farmers was reported, tracing the cause of this out])reak to 
the .scarcity of Owls, Hawks, Aveasels, and other so-called 
vermin. All these animals, and Crows also, are to be 
ranged among the natural enemies of mice. The state- 

' See Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society, 1892, p. 223, and papers there 

- Gentleman's Magazine, 17.54, Vol. 24, p. 215. 

^ Report to the Board of Agriculture on the Plague of Field Mice or Voles in 
the South of Scotland, 1S92 


iiient made by Childrey as to the assemblage of Owls when 
the field mice swarmed in Essex in 1580 received contirma- 
tion during 1892. Local observers reported that, after the 
great increase of voles was noticed, the Short-eared Owl 
(^Otus hrachyotus) became much more numerous on the hill 
farms, and that many pairs, contrary to precedent, remained 
to breed. 

Dr. W. B. Wall expresses the opinion, from his experience 
with the pests, that their chief enemies are the Owl and the 
Kestrel (a Hawk), which do more to reduce their ranks than 
all the traps of the farmers and the "microbes of the scien- 
tists" combined. Both farmers and game keepers in England 
and Scotland are inclined to regard these birds as vermin, to 
be shot at sight. 

In some parts of the United States the destruction of the 
natural enemies of rodents b}' man has been so complete that 
these animals have greatly increased in numbers. Prairie 
hares, or Jack rabbits, as they are called, became so numer- 
ous in some States at times that they could not be kept in 
check by ordinary hunting, and the people of whole town- 
ships congregated to drive them into great pens, wdiere 
thousands were killed with clubs. Gophers or spermophiles 
have so increased in numbers that they have become pests. 
Farmers have been obliged to resort to extraordinary meas- 
ures to destroy them. In Montana such large sums were 
paid out in six months of 1887 in bounties for the destruc- 
tion of ground squirrels or gophers and prairie dogs, that 
a special session of the Legislature was called to repeal the 
law, lest it should bankrupt the State. 

In New England our common hares (miscalled rabbits) 
are kept in check in thickly settled regions by hunters; but 
the field mice, which are not subject to this check, have 
increased so rapidly in many localities that during the hard 
winters of 1908-04 and 1904-05 thousands of young fruit 
trees in the New England States were attacked by them and 
ruined. These mice have become so numerous that in some 
places young trees cannot be grown unless protected from 
them. They also destroy a great quantity of grass and grain, 
some small fruit, and vegetables. Unfortunately, the food 
habits of these little animals have never been fully studied. 

PLATE VIII. — A Useful Mouse-eating Owl. (From AVarreu, 
after Aueluljou.j 


Enouofh is known, however, to show that tlicy have some 
beneficial habits, as well as some injurious ones ; but they 
constitute a very potential force for harm, on account of their 
great fecundit}\ I do not know how many young our com- 
mon species can produce in a year, but two female European 
field mice kei)t in captivity gave birth to thirty-six young 
within five months. The tally was ended by the escape of 
one of the pair, else there probably would have been re- 
corded a still larger number. The interval between the birth 
of one litter of 3'oung and that of the next was only from 
twenty-four to twenty-nine da3^s. This shows the danger 
that might easil}^ arise from the unchecked increase of a 
creature which, feeding upon both crops and trees, is capable 
of unmeasured devastation. It also shows the folly of ex- 
tirpating those Hawks and Owls which are known to feed 
largely on field mice, for they constitute the only natural 
force, that can quickly assemble at a threatened point, for 
the reduction of these pests. 

The number of small rodents eaten by the rapacious birds 
is almost as remarkable in proportion to their size as is the 
numl)er of insects taken b}^ smaller birds. Lord Lilford says 
that he has seen a pair of Barn Owls bring food to their 
voung no less than seventeen times within half an hour, 
and that he has fed nine mice in succession to a young Barn 
Owl two-thirds grown. ^ During the sunnner of 181)0 a |)air 
of Barn Owls occupied a tower of the Smithsonian building 
at Washington. It is the habit of Owls to regurgitate the 
indigestible portions of their food. Dr. A. K. Fisher found 
the floor strewn Avith pellets of bones and fur which these 
birds and their ^^oung had thrown up. An examination of 
two hundred of the pellets gave a total of four hundred and 
fifty-four skulls : two hundred and twenty-five of these were 
meadow mice ; two, i)ine mice ; one hundred and seventy- 
nine, house mice ; twenty, rats ; six, jumping mice ; twenty, 
shrews : one, a star-nosed mole : and one, a Vesper Spar- 
row.^ In my examinations of the stomachs and pellets of 

» An article on the Barn Owl, by W. B. Tesetmeier. Field, Vol. LXXV, 
No. 1956, June 21, l.SiK), p. iKMi. 

2 The Hawks and Owls of the United States, hy Dr. A. K. Fisher. United 
States Department of Agrieulture, 1893. 


small Owls I have almost invariably found that the food 
consisted very largely of field mice and wood mice, with a 
few shrews, and rarely a bird or two. Several species of 
Hawks seem to feed almost entirely on field mice, small 
reptiles, batrachians, and insects. 

The young of Hawks and Owls remain a long time in the 
nest, and recjuire a great quantity of food. They probably 
tax the resources of the parent birds excessively in the effort 
to find enough food for them ; hence some species are forced 
to commit depredations on the })oultry yard, while a few kill 
birds and poultry from choice. But most of these birds are, 
on the whole, useful to the farmer. Dr. Fisher, having ex- 
amined the contents of two thousand six hundred and ninety 
stomachs of Hawks and Owls from various parts of the United 
States, and collected the evidence of many ol)servers, con- 
cludes that Owls are among the most beneficial of all birds ; 
and that Hawks, with possibly one or two exceptions, are in 
some degree beneficial to the farmer. 


Man}^ shore birds are to some extent insectivorous. Many 
Gulls and Terns might be reckoned among the friends of the 
farmer, were they fully protected by law and public senti- 
ment, as thej^ now are in some countries and in some west- 
ern localities in our own countrj^ But here they have been 
so persecuted that the}^ usually keep well away from the 
vicinity of field and farm. Even as it is, however, they ren- 
der some service to man. Certain water-birds are useful to 
navigators, fishermen, and pilots. In thick summer weather 
the appearance of Terns or Gulls in numbers, or the sound 
of their clamorous voices, gives warning to the mariner that 
he is nearing the rocks on which they breed. Shore fisher- 
men enshrouded in fog can tell the direction of the islands 
on which the birds live by Avatching their undeviating flight 
homeward with food for their young. The keen senses of 
sea birds enable them to head direct for their nests, even in 
dense mist. Fishermen often discover schools of fish by 
watching the sea birds, that, like the larger fish, pursue the 
small fry. 

PLATE IX. — Regurgitated Owl Pellets. The^^e pellets, composeil 
of hones ami fur, also feathers of a Robin, were left near aulliurs 
liouse by Screech Owls. 

PLATE X. — The Same Pellets, dissected. The fur is shown in a 
pile on the right, and, on the left, portions of skulls and other 
bones of mice, shrews, and moles, eaten I)v the Uwls. 


Navigators approaching their home port during seasons 
of bird migration welcome the appearance of familiar land 
birds which are seen while land is still far out of sight. Mr. 
Frank M. Chapman has shown, in an interesting paper on 
the ornithology of the first voyage of Columbus, that we 
possibly owe the discovery of America b}^ Columbus to the 
fact that he ha})pened to approach the land at the right time 
and place to cross the line of the fall flight of land birds that 
were ffoins: from the Bermudas to the Bahamas and Antilles. 
The discouraged seamen were on the verge of mutiny, and 
might have compelled Columbus to return to Spain, had not 
small land birds come aboard unwearied and singing. The 
course of the vessel was changed to correspond with the 
direction of their flight, and the voyage was thus shortened 
two hundred miles and pursued to its end.^ 

The well-known services of Vultures, which destroy gar- 
bage and carrion in the tropics, have no real counterpart in 
the north. Crows are of some use, but Gulls and other 
water-birds are most valuable to man in this respect, in that 
they devour the garbage and refuse that are cast into harbors 
and arms of the sea, thus undoubtedly preventing the pollu- 
tion of many bays and beaches by floating filth and refuse 
from great cities. 

Sea birds must be reckoned among the chief agencies which 
have rendered many rocky or sandy islands flt for human 
habitation. The service performed by birds in fertilizing, 
soil-building, and seed-sowing on many l)arren islands has 
entitled our feathered friends to the gratitude of many a 
shipwrecked sailor, who must else have perished miserably 
on barren, storm-beaten shores. 


In all the foregoing we have considered mainly "the good 
offices that birds voluntarily take upon themselves in our 
service." We have yet to take into account the tax which 
we impose upon them for our own revenue of profit or 
pleasure, — a tax which we collect unsparingly, and with the 
.strong hand of force. 

^ Papers presented at the AVorld's C()iiii:ress on Ornithology, ISWi, pp. 181-185. 


This tribute of flesh, bk)od, and feather is levied largely 
upon those orders of birds which in domestication become 
poultrj', and in the wild state are known as game l)irds ; but 
many small land birds have become victims of man's greed, 
and the sea birds have been forced to contribute to his food 

The eggs of certain Gulls, Terns, Herons, Murres, and 
Ducks that breed in large colonies find a ready sale in the 
market, or furnish a part of the food supply of the people 
who live near these breeding places. Wholesale egging was 
carried on along^ the coast of Massachusetts and other New 
England States, until the Gulls and Terns were in most cases 
driven away from their breeding places. The inhabitants 
along the shores of the southern States, as well as those 
on the Pacific coast, gathered the eggs of the sea birds by 
boatloads for many years. For nearly fifty j^ears Murres' 
eggs were collected on the Farallone Islands and shipped 
to the San Francisco market. It is said that in 1854 more 
than five hundred thousand eggs were sold there in less than 
two months. This must have been an important item in the 
food supply of the young and growing city. Mr. II. W. 
Elliot mentions that on the occasion of his first visit to 
Walrus Island in the Behring Sea six men loaded a badarrah, 
carrying four tons, to the Avater's edge with Murres' eggs. 
On Laysan, one of the Hawaiian Islands, there is a gi-eat 
breeding place of an Albatross (Diomedea immutabilis) . 
Such immense quantities of their eggs have been gathered 
that cars have been loaded with them.^ All this egg collect- 
ing, however, should be stopped, for it tends to exterminate 
the birds, and all the eggs needed for human consumption 
can be produced by poultry. 

Sea birds which breed on isolated islands or barren shores 
feed mainly on animal food, Avhich they got from the sea. 
Guano consists of the excreta and ejccta of sea birds, mixed 
with the remains of birds, fish, and other animals. It is found 
on the gathering places of these birds. In the rainless lati- 

> A Review of Economic Omithology in the United States, by Dr. T. S. 
Palmer. Yearbook, United States Department of Ajjriculture, 1890, jip. 271, 272. 
See this paper also for an account of the guano trade. 

,^ o 
o K 

U be 

. o 

5 =fj 

hJ -a 



tudes of the Pacific, near the equator, guano once accumulated 
in tremendous deposits. It dried quickly, and where there 
were no rains to wash it away it was preserved with most of its 
fertilizing constituents intact. The guano found on islands 
outside the dry latitudes is of less value, as its nitrogen is 
quickly washed out or dissipated. The importance of guano 
as a fertilizer was recognized in Peru b}' the Indians more 
than three centuries ago. Under the Incas the birds on the 
Chincha Islands were carefully protected, and the deposits 
of guano jealousl}^ guarded. It is said that the penalty of 
death was inflicted on any one who killed birds near these 
rocks in the breeding season. 

Humboldt, returning from his travels in tropical America 
in 1804, carried some samples of guano to Europe, and first 
called attention to the value of the deposits of this substance 
on the Chincha Islands ; but it was nearly forty years later 
that ofuano became a stinmlus to intensive agriculture, and 
furnished a source of revenue to civilized nations. The vast 
deposits on these three islands covered the rocks in some 
places to a depth of ninety or one hundred feet. The amount 
still undisturbed in 1853 was estimated by the official sur- 
veyors of the Peruvian government as twelve million, three 
hundred and seventy-six thousand, one hundred tons. Its 
use was first attempted in England in 1840 ; at that time the 
beds seemed inexhaustil)le. The guano trade soon became 
so important as to be a source of diplomatic correspondence 
between nations. It is said to have brought Peru and Chile 
to the verge of war. By 1850 the price of Peruvian guano 
had advanced in the United States to fifty dollars a ton, and 
American enterprise began to seek guano elsewhere. 

Americans have since filed with the government claims 
to about seventy-five guano islands in the South Pacific or 
in the Caribbean Sea. The vast deposits on the Chinchas 
are nearly exhausted, and fertilizers are now manufactured to 
supply the demand. Undoubtedly, however, the discovery 
and use of guano marked the beginning of the present enor- 
mous trade in commercial fertilizers. The manurial value 
of the phosphoric acid and nitrogen contained in fish has 
now become quite generally recognized, and fleets of small 


vessels are employed in seining menhaden and other fish for 
use in the manufacture of fertilizers. 

Notwithstanding the value of birds to man as destroyers 
of insects and vermin, they are killed and utilized b}'^ him 
in various ways. 

The destruction of game birds has l)een so great in Mas- 
sachusetts, and the demand so much in excess of the supply, 
that birds are now imported from other States and from 
other countries. It is becoming a serious question, with 
those most interested, how we shall so regulate the shooting 
of game birds that the supply may be kept up. The game 
birds of America have a great intrinsic value as game. The 
flesh of many is considered to rank high among delicacies. 
The pursuit of these birds has formed a large part of the 
occupation of many members of the rural population during 
the shooting seasons, and a vast business has grown out of 
the traffic in birds' flesh. An enormous game business has 
been carried on by provision dealers in this country', and the 
demand for game is continually increasing. Few accurate 
statistics of the amount of game sold are obtainable ; but 
Mr. D. G. Elliot, writing in 1864, states that one dealer in 
New York was known to receive twenty tons of Prairie 
Chickens in one consignment, and that some of the larger 
poultry dealers were estimated to have sold from one hun- 
dred and fifty thousand to two hundred thousand game birds 
in the course of six months.^ 

The killing of birds for sport has a certain economic afiin- 
ity with market hunting, in that it supports a large trade in 
guns, ammunition, l)oats, dogs, and all the tools, appliances, 
and impedimenta of the sportsman . It furnishes employment 
to guides, dog breakers, and boatmen, and helps support 
many country hostelries and seaside hotels. The manufac- 
ture of firearms and amnmnition for sportsmen has become 
a great industry. Altogether, many thousands of men are 
dependent for a part of their livelihood on the killing of 
game for sport or food, while a still larger army finds its 
chief outdoor recreation in the })ursuit of game birds. The 

' Report of the United States Commissioner of Agriculture, 1864, pp. 383, 384. 


value of game birds to the fanner, e[)icure, niarketman, and 
sportsman should insure them the most stringent protection. 
Nevertheless, some of the migratorv species, through lack 
of effectual protection, have already been so reduced in num- 
bers that they are no longer of any commercial importance. 
The domestication of birds probably was coincident with 
that of animals, and grew from the desire of the primitive 
agriculturist to have always at hand a fresh supply of deli- 
cate and nutritious animal food. No other animals can ever 
be so adapted to the environments of civilization as to fur- 
nish us Avith a similarly valuable supply of both meat and 

The poultry business of this country has grown to such 
importance that the total value of the annual poultry prod- 
uct has reached nearly three hundred million dollars. Mas- 
sachusetts imported probably about eighteen million dollars' 
worth of poultr}^ products in 1903. When we consider that 
in all the centuries the work of domestication has included 
but a few species, it is evident that the possibilities in this 
direction have not been exhausted. 

Within the last half-century fashion has been responsible 
for the killing of millions of birds for the millinery trade. 
This trade is now limited by laws making it illegal to kill or 
use most native birds, except game birds, for this purpose. 
Instances of the destruction of birds for millinery purposes 
will be given in another chapter. The American demand 
for feathers for ornamental uses is now largely met by 
articles manufactured from the feathers of domestic fowls 
and game birds. The demand for Ostrich plumes has re- 
sulted in the establishment of a new industry in America, — 
the raising of Ostriches. 

There has been a orowin^ demand for American sono; birds 
for cage purposes ; but this traffic is now prohibited by law. 


Thus far I have written solely from the standpoint of 
"enlightened selfishness,'' entertaining no consideration of 
the esthetic, humane, sentimental, or educational. I have 


attempted to look at birds solely from the utilitarian point 
of view, and to demonstrate the fact that their contributions 
to man's welfare have at least a material value. Now let us 
turn for a moment from the contemplation of such utility 
of birds as money can measure to "some of the higher and 
nobler uses which birds subserve to man." In so doing we 
step at once from the beaten path of economic ornithology 
into a boundless realm, sacred to art, letters, sentiment, 
and poetry on the one hand, M'hile on the other lie the fair 
fields in which we may take up, if we will, the fascinating 
study of birds, which may end merely in delightful experi- 
ences, or lead to the class room, the museum, the laboratory, 
or the closet of the systematist. Wherever it may lead us, 
this phase of our subject is of the highest importance, and 
demands the most serious consideration . Although presented 
last, its l)enefactions should perhaps come first among the 
items which go to make up the sum of our indeljtedness to 

The beauty of birds, the music of their songs, the weird 
wildness of their calls, the majesty of their soaring flight, 
the mystery of their migrations, have ever been subjects of 
absorbing interest to poets, artists, and nature lovers every- 
where. Prominent among the undying memories of men 
are mental pictures of the birds of childhood, their coming 
in the spring, their nesting, and their chosen haunts. Many 
an exiled emigrant longs in vain to hear again the outpour- 
ing melody of the Skylark, as it soars above the fields of 
England. Many a New England boy, shut in by western 
mountains, yearns for the bubbling, joyous song of the Bob- 
olink in the June meadows. The characters and traits of 
birds, their loves and battles, their skill in home building, 
their devotion to their young, their habits and ways, — all 
are of human interest. Birds have become syml)olic of cer- 
tain human characteristics ; and so the common species have 
come to be so interwoven with our art and literature that 
their names are household words. What biblical scholar is 
not familiar with the birds of the Bible ? Shakespeare makes 
over six hundred references to birds or bird life. Much of 
the best literature would lose half its charm were it shorn of 
poetic allusions to birds. 


Birds often have inspired the poets. Bryant's lines " To 
a Water-fowl," and Shelley's " Skylark," each exhibit a phase 
of such inspiration. These are but instances of the stimu- 
lating power exerted on the mind of man l)y the Ijird and 
its associations. Some of the grandest poems ever written 
have been dependent on their authors' observation of birds 
for some touch of nature which has helped to render tliem 
immortal. Thus Gray, in his famed "Elegy written in a 
Country Churchyard " : — 

The breezy call of incense-breathing morn, 
The Swallow twittering from the straw-biiilt shed, 

The Cock's slirill clarion, or the echoing horn. 
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed. 

Who, reared in a country home, can fail, as he reads 
these lines, to recall the twittering of the Swallows under 
the spreading rafters in the cool of early morning? The 
mental contemplation of that peaceful pastoral scene, the 
train of tender recollections of the time of youth and inno- 
cence, all tending toward better impulses and higher as})ira- 
tions, are largely due to the mention of the familiar bird in 
its association with the home of childhood. Is not literature 
the richer for the following lines of Longfellow in his "Birds 
of Passage " ? 

Above, in the liglit 

Of the star-lit night. 

Swift birds of passage wmg their flight 

Through the dewy atmosjihere. 

I hear the beat 

Of their pinions fleet. 

As from the land of snow and sleet 

They seek a southern lea. 

How much of life and color the presence of birds adds to 
the landscape ! The artist appreciates this. What marine 
view is complete without its Gulls in flight? How much a 
flock of wild-fowl adds to a lake or river scene ! 

Birds are a special boon to child life, and a never-ending 
source of entertainment to many children who live upon 
isolated farms, where the observation of birds' habits adds 
greatly to the rational enjoyment of existence. 

It is not a far cry from the poet to the philosopher, and 


he also sees a value in l)irds for the opportunity they afford 
for the culture of the intellect. Every page of the l)ook of 
nature is educational. But, as Dr. Coues says, there is ho 
fairer or more fascinating page than that devoted to the life 
history of a Inrd. The systematic study of birds develops 
both the observational fkculties and the analytical qualities 
of the mind. The study of the living bird afield is rejuve- 
nating to both mind and body. The outdoor use of eye, ear, 
and limb, necessitated by field work, tends to fit both the 
body and mind of the student for the practical work of life, 
for it develops both members and faculties. It brings one 
into contact with nature, — out into the sunlight, where balmy 
airs stir the whispering pines, or fresh breezes ripple the blue 
water. There is no })i.u'er joy in life than that which may 
come to all who, rising in the dusk of early morning, wel- 
come the approach of day with all its bird voices. The nature 
lover who listens to the song of the Wood Thrush at dawn 
— an anthem of calm, serene, spiritual joy, sounding through 
the dim woods — hears it with feelings akin to those of the 
devotee whose being is thrilled by the grand and sacred music 
of the sanctuary. And he who, in the still forest at even- 
ing, barkens to the exquisite notes of the Hermit, — that 
voice of nature, expressing in sweet cadences her pathos and 
her ineffable mysterj^ — experiences amid the falling shades 
of night emotions which must humble, chasten, and purify 
even the most upright and virtuous of men. 

The uplifting influence that birds may thus exert upon the 
lives of men constitutes to manj' their greatest value and 
charm. A growing appreciation of the aesthetic and the edu- 
cational value of birds has sent many cultured folk to the 
woods, fields, and shores. People are turning toward nature 
study, and the observation of birds in the field is one of the 
most popular manifestations of an increased and abiding in- 
terest in nature. To the utilitarian this movement has an 
economic aspect. Students who have become familiar with 
the common birds of their own vicinity long for new fields 
and new birds. Let a well-known writer describe in print any 
locality in Massachusetts where rare or interesting birds are 
to be found, and soon some of his readers will be upon the 


oTOUMcl. This travellinii' about of those in search of birds bids 
fair eventually to assume considerable proportions, and can- 
not fail to be of some pecuniary importance to transportation 
com})anies, as well as to those who minister to the wants of 
man and beast. Many people prefer to spend their vacations 
in localities where both the larger and smaller l)irds are plen- 
tiful. Thus the a'sthetic value of the soaring Hawk or the 
wading Heron becomes of practical importance to the farmer 
and hotel keeper who are looking for summer boarders. 
People of means are fully sensible of the many advantages 
of life in the country, and are making homes for themselves 
on our farms. But a merchant prince who established such 
a home found his enjoyment of the place greatly abridged by 
the scarcity of birds. With the growing interest in l)irds, 
towns or localities where birds are plentiful will have an 
added value as places of residence. 

Possibly, however, the greatest boon that the study of 
birds can confer upon man is seen in the i)ower of the bird 
lover to keep his spirit young. One who in his early ^^ears 
is attracted to the study of birds will find that with them he 
alwa3\s renews his youth. Each spring the awakening year 
encompasses him with a flood of joyous bird life. Old friends 
are they who greet him, and they come as in the days of 
childhood, brino-ing tidings of jjood cheer. Thus it is ever. 
Years roll on, youth passes, the homes and woods of our 
childhood disappear, the head becomes bowed with sorrow 
and frosted by the snows of time, the strong hand trembles, 
the friends of youth pass awa}^ ; but with each returning spring 
the old familiar bird songs of our childhood come back to 
us, still unchanged by the passing years. The birds turn 
back, for us, the flight of time. Their songs are voices 
from our vanished youth. Let us, then, teach our children 
to love and protect the birds, that these familiar friends of 
their childhood may remain to cheer them with song and 
beauty, when, toward the sunset of life, the shadows will 
grow long upon the pathway. 




Massachusetts contains very little land that can be digni- 
fied by the name of forest. She has practicall}' no forests 
such as are cared for by European States, nor has she any 
extensive primeval wilderness of trees such as still exist on 
some western mountain ranges ; nevertheless, a large area 
of the State is forested witli coppice growth or seedling 
trees, which are usually allowed to grow from thirty to fifty 
years, and are then cut for either firewood or lumber. 

While this large area of woodland produces comparatively 
little valuable timber, its aggregate value, as estimated in 
the census of 1895, is twenty-three million, nine hundred 
and thirty-six thousand, three hundred and sixty-two dol- 
lars. It is no exaggeration to say that for the preservation 
of this great woodland estate from the ravages of insects we 
are largely indebted to birds. The service that birds per- 
form in protecting woodland trees is more nearly indispen- 
sable to man than any other benefit they confer on him ; for 
the money value of forest trees, while laro^e in the aofffre- 
gate, is not ordinarily great enough to pay the owners to 
protect them against their many enemies, even if this were 
possible. The little things of life are the most difficult for 
man to control. The wild animals and venomous serpents 
of the woods he may exterminate ; but insects, which are 
even more dangerous to human life or property, will still 
possess the land. Were the natural enemies of forest in- 
sects annihilated, every tree in our woods would be threat- 
ened with destruction, and man would be powerless to 
prevent the calamity. He might make shift to save some 
orchard or shade trees ; he might find means to raise some 
garden crops ; but the i)rotection of all the trees in all the 
woods would be beyond his powers. Yet this herculean task 
ordinarily is accomplished as a matter of course by birds and 


other insectivorous creatures, without trouble or expense to 
man, and without ap})rcciable injury to liis great woodland 

Birds attain their greatest usefulness in the woods, mainly 
because the conditions there closely approach the natural, 
and organic nature has an opportunity to adjust her balances 
without much human interference. j\Ian may be supreme in 
the garden, field, or orchard, but in the woods nature reigns. 
There her laws, unhampered, operate for the good of her 
children . 


A mere o-lance at the economy of the forest shows us a 
series of interrelations and interdependences existing be- 
tween the bird and the tree, Mr. Frank M. Chapman thus 
indicates tersely and clearly the nature of these relations : — 

Between binls and forests there exist what niaj- be termed jjrinieval, 
economic relations. Certain forest trees have their natural insect foes, 
to whicli they f nrnish food and shelter ; and these insects, in turn, have 
their natural enemies among the birds, to which the trees also give a 
home. Here, then, we have an imdisturbed set of economic relations : 
(1) the ti'ee ; (2) the insect, whicli lives in the tree, preys upon it, and 
may assist in the fertilization of its blossoms ; (3) the bird, which also 
finds a home in the tree, and, feeding upon insects, prevents their un- 
due increase. Hence it follows that the existence of each one of these 
forms of life is dependent upon tlie existence of the other. Birds are 
not only essential to the welfare of the tree, but the tree is necessary to 
the life of the bird. Consequently, there has been established what is 
termed "a balance of life," wherein there is the most delicate adjust- 
ment between the tree, the insect, the bird, and the sum total of the 
conditions which go to make \\\} their environment. The moi'e trees, 
the greater the numl)er of insects, and hence an increase not only in 
food svipply for the l)irds, but an increase in the number of nesting 
sites. ^ 

Nearly all the wood birds are dependent upon trees. 
Destroy the trees, and some of the insects might find new 
food in the crops of the farmer, but the birds lose their home 

• The Economic Value of BiriLs to the State, by Frank M. Chapman. Sev- 
enth Annual Report of the Forest, Fish and Game Commission of New York 
State, 1903, p. 6. 


when the tree falls. Lacking the nesting sites, protection, 
and shelter once afforded them among the trees, they must 
find other shelter, or perish. The interests of birds and 
trees are identical, and each must protect the other for the 
good of all. Birds are conspicuously useful in distributing 
the seed, and in planting, pruning, and protecting the trees, 


If we take a white pine cone, containing seeds, break it 
open and examine a seed, we find that it is enveloped in a 
meml)rane with a wing-like appendage. Now take the seed 
and toss it into the air, and it will descend to the ground with 
a rotary motion, like that of a pickerel 
spoon when drawn through the water. 
As the seed descends, its wing in rotat-— The winged seed ing fomis a Spiral plane at an angle with 

of the white pine. ., ,. .. p-,i 

the direction or its descent, serving as 
a parachute to sustain it in the air. If there is the slightest 
l)reeze, the seed floats ofl' upon it and descends diagonally 
to the ground. The phenomenon is much the same as that 
observed in falling seeds of the ash and some other deciduous 
trees. Such seeds are winged, like the pine seed, for dis- 
tribution. Although they will not float on a gentle breeze, 
like thistle or dandelion seeds, still, in a strong Avind they 
are carried fifteen or twenty rods, or more. When pine 
seeds fall to the ground they soon separate from their wings. 
A heavy washing rain or the foot of some animal maj^ bury 
them with earth mould, or falling leaves \i\q.j cover them, 
and the planting is done. Should they fall upon the surface 
of a lake, the gentle breeze A\^ould waft them along over the 
surface, like a fleet of little boats, to islands or distant shores ; 
should they fall upon a stream, they would float away with 
the current. 

Although the seeds of many forest trees do not grow their 
own wings, we find them as widely distributed as the seeds 
of the pine. Notice the distribution of the wild cherry along 
the roadsides. In spring we see here and there, on bushes 
or trees, the wel)s of the tent caterpillar. They are usually 
found upon the apple and wild cherr}' ; and if, late in INIay, 


we search woods and fields, along walls and on bushj^ hill- 
sides, we may be surprised in certain years to find wild 
cherry trees everj'where. When they are rendered conspic- 
uous hy the caterpillar webs they bear, we see how they are 
scattered through the woods, where birds that fed upon the 
fruit dropj)ed the stones as they flew. It is a law of nature 
that the destroyer of the fruit is also the distributer of the 

When first I found the nest of the Wood Thrush, some 
tliirty-fiv^e 3'ears ago, I noticed that after the j^oung had flown, 
a little heap of cherry stones, polished clean and white, was 
left in the nest. I did not know at the time how the birds 
were able to do this. On Oct. 21, 1896, Mr. Thomas 
Proctor wrote me that he had seen similar collections of 
cherry stones in the nests of the Wood Thrush, and that by 
keeping individuals of the species in captivity he had learned 
that they swallowed cherries whole, taking several in suc- 
cession and at almost regular intervals ; and that, prior to 
the next feeding, they expelled the polished stones by the 
mouth. This is a provision of nature for the distril)ution 
of the cherry tree. The pits found in the nest were prob- 
ably left there by the young birds just before leaving the 
nest ; but after the birds have flown it is not probal)le that 
many pits are left together in the same place exce})t when 
the birds are at roost. The cherry stones found by Mr, 
Proctor in the nest were, he said, probably such as are known 
to botanists as "escapes," or varieties which have escaped 
from cultivation. Much of the planting of such trees is due, 
no doubt, to birds ; but wild cherry pits are oftener planted 
by their agency. Mr. Proctor wrote that he had kept 
several hundred birds of difi'erent species, and that he had 
come to the conclusion, from observation of their feeding 
habits, that other Thrushes and Warblers in general reject the 
larger indigestil>le portions of their food in this way. 

Mr. Proctor has since then published in The Auk the 
results of his observations on this subject. The seeds of 
berries are often expelled or excreted with their vitality 
unimpaired. Thus birds are instrumental in extending the 
growth of the woodlands and thickets in which they dwell. 



One day I noticed a young pine growing some ten feet 
from the ground in the fork of a niajile by the roadside. 
There were no other pines near. What planted it there? 
This w^as merely an illustration of the fact that tree seeds 
are furnished Avith transportation by the wnngs or legs of 
animals that feed upon them. 

The Jays alight in the tree top ; each Jay breaks off an 
acorn with his feet, hammers it open with his beak, and eats 
the kernel on the spot, or carries it off to some hiding place, 

Fig. 31. — A forest planter. The Blue Jay lends wings to the acorn. 

sometimes dropping it from the tree or while flying, appar- 
ently by accident or for no })urpose except perhaps to hear it 
strike the earth. A sudden fright will cause a bird to drop 
wdiatever food it may be carrying. Such acorns arc usually 
left where they happen to fall. 

We cannot study the relations of birds to the forest with- 
out noting also the important part that squirrels take in tree 
planting. In the autumn of 1897 the mast crop was light in 
some sections of eastern INIassachusetts, but here and there 
an oak tree was found which bore a good crop. Such trees 
were soon discovered by the Jays and squirrels, several of 
which might be seen gathering the acorns from each tree. 
The ground squirrels work in pairs, as do the squirrels of 


the Pacific coast, one climbing the tree and throwing the 
acorns down to the other. 

Jays, Crows, and squirrels seem to have a mania for distrib- 
uting and hiding things. I recall an old shellbark hickory 
by a farmhouse door, the crevices of its ragged bark orna- 
mented with walnuts, tucked in here and there all over the 
trunk. Any one watching the Jays and squirrels in the tall 
will find them filling crevices with nuts or seeds, dropping 
nuts, acorns, corn, and other things into cavities and hollows 
in the trees, or bur^ang them in the leaf mould on the 

I once watched a Crow killing a large, brightl}^ colored 
beetle, probably Calosoma scrutator, which it buried care- 
fully beneath a tuft of grass. Returning a few moments 
later, the sable bird unearthed the brilliant insect, carried it 
away and buried it in another place. In a pine wood in 
Medford, on April 1(3, 1897, several Crows flew from the 
ground. Here, under the pines, an interrupted feast was 
found. Crows, Ja3^s, and squirrels had been digging out 
stores of acorns which probably had been buried there the 
previous fall. The interrupted diggers had left six acorns 
which they had dug from one hole ; others were partly 

It is said that s(|uirrels bite oif the germ ends of the acorns 
before burying them. This habit has never come under my 
observation. These acorns not only had their germ ends 
intact, but seven of them had sprouted. One had sent the 
tap root down four inches into the mould. They had been 
carefully set with the points downward, as if by a squirrel, 
and at just the right depth for planting. A man could not 
have done it better. They were deeply covered with light 
mould and pine needles. Some of the digging looked like 
the work of squirrels, but marks on some of the acorns were 
apparently made bv the beak of a bird. A gray squirrel 
was seen near by. Had its feast been interrupted by the 
Crows, or had all been at work together? How could the 
Crow know that the acorns lay buried just there? Did he 
remember that he planted them ? Had he seen the disturb- 
ance of the pine needles, caused by the young sprout? Or 


had he watched the squirrel, and descended to rob it of its 
stores? Who is wise enough to interpret the worlvings of a 
Crow's mind ? Who can tell how far its perceptive faculties 
will serve, or mark the boundary between instinct and reason ? 
We may say that some creature had been merely storing up 
food against a season of want, and that may be true, but it is 
onlj' half the truth. ^Nlany of the seeds which are dropped 
or hidden by ])irds and squirrels are never found by them 
again. There is an immense amount of vitality in these 
animals, which must be expended in some way. When the 
red squirrel is not eating, sleeping, providing food for itself, 
or getting into some abominable mischief, it is usually scold- 
ing or chattering in profane S(j[uirrel language at some in- 
truder, or busy burjdng something or digging it up. The 
squirrel makes its journeys back and forth, burjdng acorns, 
pine seeds, chestnuts, beech nuts, and hickory nuts in secret 
places. One day, however, as it is going its accustomed 
way up the walnut tree, a Hawk swoops down, and the 
squirrel is no more. That squirrel has stored up a supply 
of food which it will never gather. As Thoreau sa}'s, it has 
planted "a hickory wood for all creation." That Hawk 
has protected the planted seed. 

The part ordinarily taken by birds in forest planting is not 
so conspicuous as that of the squirrels, but it results in a 
wider distribution of seed. The l)irds and squirrels destroy 
a large part of the seed crop, but the trees produce a great 
surplus, and the wild creatures plant an a1)undance of good 
seed which they leave to germinate. Thus it is that the 
destroyer of the seed disseminates it, and so perpetuates the 
tree which furnishes him sustenance. 

The Influence exerted by Birds and Squirrels on the Succession of 
Forest Trees. 

When we cut down an oak or chestnut Avood that is com- 
posed of old and heavy timber, a pine wood is likely to 
spring u}) in its place, i)articularly if there are pines near 
by ; while if we cut off pines, they are usually succeeded by 
a wood composed mainly of deciduous trees, mostly hard 
woods, or the imt-bearing or acorn-bearing kinds. Such a 


succession of trees has long been considered by farmers to 
be the rule. In other words, in some way there often comes 
rotation of crops when wood lots are cut off. This is be- 
lieved by some people to be due to the springing up of seed 
which has lieen buried in the ground for many years. When 
an oak wood springs up where a pine wood has been cut 
away, there is no doubt that it has sprung from seed in the 
ground; probal)ly, however, it has not come from seed which 
has been buried for many years, l)ut from seed sown by 
birds and squirrels within a few years, and which has been 
given a new lease of life by the sun's rays let in by the 
removal of the dense foliage from above. All through the 
autumn months, when nuts and acorns are plentiful, Jays, 
Crows, and squirrels arc gathering and storing away the seed 
among the pines, where they resort for shelter. 

Thousands of Crows will roost in a pine wood for months 
during the winter, when the leaves are off the deciduous 
trees. The pines then offer the best hiding places for all 
woodland creatures. In some of the large Crow roosts among 
the pines extensive deposits of various seeds and other mate- 
rial ejected by Crows are found. When a pine wood is sur- 
rounded by oak and nut trees, when squirrels and Jays 
are plentiful, and the trees bear well, quantities of acorns 
and nuts will be carried into the pine wood by these crea- 
tures and buried beneath the dead " needles " or hidden away 
in crevices. Man}^ of these nuts and acorns are dug up 
during the winter months, especially by the red squirrel, 
but many others are never found. 

Note an opening in the pines made by cutting away a few 
trees. Here young oaks spring up, and we find oaks and 
walnuts in such openings quite as often as we find pines. 
Examine the ground under the pines in summer, and yo\x 
may find many little oak, Avalnut, and maple trees coming 
up from beneath the pine needles, and you will also find 
young pines here and there. All these young trees soon die 
in the dense shade of the larger pines. ^ But let the pine 

1 If the lot is not favorably situated, if the woods are very dense, if birds and 
squirrels are not plentiful, and, above all, if the crop of mast has been light the 
year before, there may be no young walnuts and oaks springing up. 


wood be cut off, and if the conditions are favorable, the 
young hard-wood trees spring up and flourish. But why do 
not pines spring up where pines are cut off ? For this there 
are several reasons : (1) pines do not sprout from the stump ; 
(2) there is not a crop of pine seed each year, therefore, 
when the pine wood is cut there may be little good seed 
in the ground; (3) young pines need some shade and pro- 
tection, and if the larger trees are all cut down, many of 
the young pines may die when exposed to the sun. Those 
who, with a knowledge of this fact, plant pines on unshaded 
ground, usually sow rye or some other cereal with the pines, 
so that the quick-growing grain may shade the young plants 
for the first year. The shaded trees grow, and in time fur- 
nish shade for others, and so the wood extends. 

Now let us see why pines sometimes appear where hard 
woods have been cut off. This kind of succession is not 
common. The trees growing on most wood lots are cut for 
cord wood as soon as they are of sufficient size. Immedi- 
ately on the opening of the season , sprouts shoot up rapidly 
from the hard- wood stumps, choking many young pines. 
Still some will live and flourish, and so there comes a mixed 
growth of pines and hard-wood trees. This is the character 
of much of the wooded region near Boston. But if an oak 
or walnut wood is allowed to grow until the trees are old, 
and is cut when the roots have lost their vigor, the sprouts, 
if they come up at all, are not so vigorous, and the young 
pines have a better opportunity. Where birds and squirrels 
are numerous, a considerable part of the fruitage of the pine 
is removed by them, and cones or detached seeds are buried 
or scattered about, not only among the })incs, but among the 
hard-wood trees. The Avinds also scatter pine seed fiir and 
wide among deciduous trees ; so, if there are pines near hard- 
wood lots, young pines usually sprout among the hard-wood 
trees. When an old growth of deciduous woods is cut off, 
these young pines, having had a start in the shade, flourish 
and afford some shade for still younger seedlings, which 
quickly germinate from the seed in the ground ; thus occa- 
sionally the pines succeed the broad-leaved trees. 




If the young tree escapes or survives the assaults of its 
many enemies, and grows vigorously, it is prone to an over- 
production of fruit or leaves. Orchardists and some foresters 
practise pruning, and believe that when it is judiciously done 
it is good for the tree. Nature has many ways of pruning. 
Superfluous buds are nipped ofl:* by birds and squirrels, or 
destroyed by insects. When 
the sun lies warm in February 
and March on wooded hillsides, 
the Rufi'ed Grouse or Partridge 
mav be seen ''budding"' on the 
wild apple trees, alders, pop- 
lars, and birches. In Ma}^ the 
Rose-breasted Grosbeak and the 
Purple Finch attack both buds 
and blossoms, scattering snowy 
petals far and wide. We have 
seen that all trees have numer- 
ous insect enemies, which live 
upon them ; but most of these 
insects, when occurring in nor- 
mal numbers, are either harm- 
less or beneficial rather than 
injurious. Their interests, like those of the birds, are iden- 
tical with those of the tree which supplies them with suste- 
nance. A few leaf-eating caterpillars may be a benefit to 
the tree, by removing surplus foliage, and thus checking a 
too vigorous development, which otherwise might be injuri- 
ous. Other insects, if not too numerous, may destroy the 
surplus fruit or seed, and thus direct the energies of the tree 
toward perfecting larger and better fruit. Certain insects 
cut off the twigs ; others destroy branches. The numbers of 
these insects are regulated by birds. In 189(5 oak pruners 
(^Elaphidion viUosam) were numerous in eastern Massachu- 
setts. They attacked several species of oaks, hickories, and 
maples. They also assailed the apple trees. Their occur- 
rence in numbers seems to be periodical, and thus the trees 

Fig. 32. 

Ruffed Grouse, 


are subject to a more or less regular periodical pruning. 
Large quantities of twigs and small branches fell from the 
oaks and other trees in 1896, and it appeared as if the 
oak pruners might do considerable injury to these trees ; 
but birds and other natural enemies attacked the insects, 
and the trees were not injured, — very likely in most cases 
they were even benefited by this removal of the twigs from 
the upper branches. Jays, Crows, and Hawks break off 
strong twigs and small branches to use in their nest build- 
ing. Squirrels gnaw off many twigs while gathering nuts 
and acorns, or while building their nests. When branches 
are injured by insects or overshading to such an extent that 
they die, they are removed later (when weakened by decay) 
by the action of the wind, or are broken off in winter by 
ice and snow. Thus the pruning of the trees is effected. 


Birds guard the Trees the Year round, — We know^ that 
trees are subject to many injuries by reason of the undue 
multiplication of animals that feed upon them. The foliage 
is devoured by insects and other animals ; the fruit and 
seeds by insects, birds, and squirrels; the twigs are killed 
by borers or girdlers ; the ])ark is eaten by mice, hares, squir- 
rels, or porcupines ; the trunks are attacked by wood borers ; 
the roots have insect enemies ; even the very life blood, the 
sap, is sucked out by aphids. When we consider well the 
fecundity, voracity, and the consequent great possibilities 
for mischief possessed by their enemies, we wonder that 
trees survive at all. Still, trees spring up and grow apace. 
In a wooded country a few years' neglect of field and pasture 
suffices to clothe them with a growth of bushes and saplings, 
and in time a wood lot succeeds the cleared land. That 
trees are able thus to spring up and grow to maturity with- 
out man's care is sufficient evidence that they are protected 
by their natural friends from the too injurious inroads of 
their natural enemies. Among these friends birds hold a 
high place. 

It is generally believed that there are few birds in deep 
woods. Travellers often have remarked the scarcity of birds 


ill the forest. It is true that usuall}^ there are fewer Ijirds, 
both in numbers of species and individuals, in most nortliern 
forests tlian in more open or cultivated lands. This is par- 
ticularly true of coniferous forests, for such woods harbor 
fewer insects than deciduous forests, and so furnish a more 
meager food supply for birds. Those birds that live and 
breed in the deep woods, however, are especially fitted to 
destroy the trees' enemies. 

This care of the trees is kept up throughout the year by 
the ebb and flow of the tide of bird life. In the chill days 
of March and early April, when sunshine and shadow fleck 
the lingering snow, in silent, leafless woods and along swol- 
len streams, the lusty Fox Sparrow searches for seeds and for 
dormant insects, which only await the warmer sun of April 
or May to emerge from their hiding places and attack the 
trees. This Sparrow and its companions, the Tree Sparrow 
and the Junco, soon pass on to the north, making way for 
the White-throats and Thrushes, which continue the good 
work, to be followed in their turn l)y other Thrushes and the 
Towhees. Birds are not plentiful in the woods in early 
April, but nevertheless diligent Titmice, 
Woodpeckers, Jays, Nuthatches, and 
Kino-lets are there and at work. In the 
warm days of Maj^ when nature has 
awakened from her long winter's sleep ; 
when the little, light-green oak leaves are 
iust opening; when the bright young Fig. 33. -The diligent 

'' ^ *= 1-1 Titmouse. 

birch leaves decorate, but do not hide, 
the twigs ; when every leaflet vies with the early flowers 
in beauty, and every branch upholds its grateful ofl'ering ; 
when insects which were dormant or sluggish during the 
earlier days of the year become active, and their swarming 
ottspring appear on bud and leaf, — then the south wind 
brings the migratory host of birds which winter near the 
equator. Unnoticed by men, they sweep through the woods, 
they encompass the trees ; flight after flight passes along 
on its way to the north, all resting daily in the woods and 
gleaning insects ere they go. No one who has not Avatched 
these beautiful birds hour after hour and day after day, and 


who has not listened to their multitudinous notes, as, night 
after niiiht, the}^ have passed overhead, can realize the num- 
bers that sweep through the woods in the spring and fall 
migrations. Those who watched the great flights of War- 
blers during the season of 1005 could but marvel at their 
vast and changing procession. 

One must be in the woods most of the time, during both 
spring and autumn, to form any adecjuate conception of 
these movements ; and even then he may be mystified by 
the sudden changes he Avill observe. While at Amesbury, 
Mass., on May 11, 1900, I went out at daybreak with a few 
friends who were interested in bird study. As we walked 
throusfh the streets of the village many male Blackburnian 
Warblers were seen among the street trees. A little later 
we saw them all about us in the orchards, their brilliant 
orange breasts flashing in the sunlight. As we approached 
the woods it was everywhere the same. The night had 
been very cold, and other insect-eating birds were seeking 
benumbed insects on or near the ground. There were four 
bright Redstarts flitting about on the upturned sod of a 
newly plowed garden. These and other species of Warblers 
were to be seen in every orchard, wood, and thicket. The 
Blackburnian Warblers had come in during the night, and 
were busy hunting for their breakfasts until 7 o'clock, Avhen 
we went to ours. At 8 o'clock not a single Blackburnian 
was to be seen. I scoured the country until nearly noon, 
finding all the other Warblers as at daybreak, but not a 
Blackburnian could be found. They had done their share 
in the good work, and had passed on. A later riser would 
have missed them. Had we not been afield that morning, 
the fliofht mio-ht have l)een unrecorded. 

In May most of the smaller birds that pass the summer in 
our northern woods — Thrushes, Warblers, Vireos, Cuckoos, 
Towhees and their kin — arrive, mate, and build their nests. 
In June the growing insect hosts increase, and the activities 
of the parent birds in procuring food for their young are at 
their height. Each occupied nest is a sepulchre for worms, 
spiders, and insects ; each young bird's mouth is an open 
door, yawning for their destruction. The parent birds are 


ever hunting, hunting, hunting, to find the wherewithal to 
stop those insistent, hungr}^ cries ; for Iiunger is not good 
for young birds, and their cries may betray tlieni to their 
enemies. This continual search for food for the calloAV 
young goes far towards checking the uprising host of in- 
sects in June and July, and preventing the absolute destruc- 
tion of the trees. 

AVhen the young birds are out of the nest, their parents 
lead them to some spot where insects are most plentiful, and 
there continue to feed them for a time. When the liedge- 
lings are strong and well able to fly about and find their own 
sustenance, the old birds usually drive them away from the 
vicinity of the home, and they scatter in search of food, 
drifting here and there, wherever food is most plentiful, 
until they find themselves moving southward, with the 
receding tide of bird life, toward that land where frost 
and snow are never known. 

Some of the AVarblers are ready to leave for the south by 
midsummer. Such of the summer residents as still remain 
wander through the woods in late summer and early fall, in 
search of insect outbreaks, wild fruit, and seeds, feeding as 
thcv move alono-. Thev are now slowly mioTatinof. The 
chill of autumn evenings accelerates their southward move- 
ment, and on clear, still nights their call notes and even 
their beating wings may be heard as they fly southward. 

The birds are now without home attachments, and gather 
wherever food is most plentiful. Those that have found 
insects in plenty call to others that are flying by or overhead, 
bidding them also to the feast. So the tide of bird life 
sweeps back through the woods of the temperate zone toward 
the equator. In late October bird songs are heard no more. 
A few Thrushes, Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Kinglets, Creep- 
ers, and Nuthatches flit here and there ; Blue Say^ mourn- 
fully call ; a Crow caws now and then ; but otherwise the 
woods seem deserted. Still, at this season of the year and 
all through the winter and early spring months the few birds 
that remain are accomplishing the greatest good for the 
forest ; for now the development and increase of all insects 
are arrested, while their destruction by birds goes on. In 



winter the smaller wood birds that remain in the north must 
subsist largel}' on the hibernating eggs of insects, for many 
insects pass the colder months in the e^g ; the ])ird that eats 
these eggs can destroy at least a hundred times as many 

insects in this minute, embry- 
onic form as it could in the 
summer, after the caterpillars 
had hatched and grown toward 
maturity. The Jays, Titmice, 
Nuthatches, and Woodpeckers, 
which remain throusfh the win- 
ter in the northern woods, give 
months more of service to our 
trees than do the majorit}^ of 
birds that come here as sum- 
mer residents or migrants only. 
These all-the-year-round birds, 
with the Creepers and Kinglets, 
are the most valuable guardians 
of the wood. Millions upon 
millions of insects and their eggs are destroyed hy them 
during the long winter months. In this work they are 
assisted to some extent b}^ certain of the winter Finches 
and Sparrows. 

Birds r/uard All Pa7is of the Tree. — Even insects which 
feed upon the roots are dug out of the ground by birds, or 
attacked by these feathered enemies whenever they appear 
above the surface. Sparrows, Thrushes, and Towhees search 
among the dead leaves for caterpillars which drop from the 
trees and crawl on the ground, and for those which pupate 
among the litter of the forest floor. Woodpeckers, tapping 
the trunks, And and bring forth injurious ants, bark beetles, 
and wood-l)oring insects. Creepers, Kinglets, Titmice, and 
Nuthatches search the bark and cavities of the trunk and 
liml)s for insects' ^ggs, scale insects, bark lice, borers, bark 
beetles, and other insects which hide there. Jays, Warblers, 
Tanagers, Wrens, Titmice, Yireos, Cuckoos, and other tree- 
loving birds [)ry about among the leaves and l)ranches in 
►search of caterpillars of all sorts. Even the hidden leaf- 

Fig. 34. — Winter tree guards, a 
Creeper and a Nuthatch. 


rollers are sought out. The gall insects are dragged from 
their hidino- jdaces bv Javs and Grosbeaks. Titmice o-et the 
bud worms, and Woodpeckers search out the fruit worms. 
When the spanworms, disturl)ed by the movements of the 
caterpillar-hiuiting Warblers, Vireos, and Sparrows among 
leaves and tAvigs, spin down on their gossamer threads, and 
so escape one class of enemies, they are marked Ijy Fly- 
catchers sitting on the Avatch or hovering in the air ready 
to dart upon them. When the mature insects, gaining wings, 
attempt to escape by flight, they are snapped up by these 
same Flycatchers, that sit waiting on the outer limbs of the 
trees ; or, escaping these, they are pursued by Swallows 
and Swifts in the upper air. Those whose flight is noc- 
turnal must run the gauntlet of the Screech Owl, Night- 
hawk, and Whip-poor-will. Each family of birds seems 
exactly fitted for the i)ursuit and capture of insects that 
feed on a certain part of the tree, while nearly all species 
can so adapt themselves, at need, as to feed readily on 
insects not ordinarily taken by them. 

AVhile living in the woods, much of the time alone, for 
several seasons, I have been greatly impressed by both the 
vast yearly uprising of insect pests and the strong repressive 
influence exerted by birds upon their increase. When the 
buds open in spring, broods of tiny, hungry caterpillars 
emerge, only to be preyed upon by the constantly increasing 
flights of birds that peer, swing, flutter, or hop from twig 
to twig through all the woods. At this time these caterpil- 
lars are not at all noticeable, and are very difficult to find ; 
still, the great majority of them are readily found and eaten 
by birds, and therefore never become apparent to ordinary 
observation. As summer comes and the caterpillars grow 
in size, each brood is reduced in number, until, as thej^ ap- 
proach full size, a band which erstwhile numbered hundreds 
of little crawlers has shrunk to a score or two, a "baker's 
dozen," or even less. When the survivors pupate thej^ are 
still attacked by birds, and the moths or butterflies as they 
emerge and try their wings are pursued by their swifter 
feathered enemies. 

In studying the increase of the gipsy moth it was found 


that during the first few jxars after its introduction into a 
locality its inroads on tlie foliage were not noticeable ; nearly 
all the insects resultino- from each ecg cluster foil victims to 
their natural enemies. This is true to a still greater extent 
of most of our native insects. As the season advances the 
few large caterpillars that are left from each brood injure the 
leaves a little, so that on close inspection in Juh^ the foliage 
appears somewhat ragged and riddled, but at a distance, or to 
the casual observer, the trees seem in fine foliage. 

He who watches the birds feeding from day to day can 
only wonder how they can possil)ly find so many caterpillars ; 
for birds do find them continually, by going over the same 
groiuid day after day. When it is difficult for us to see 
even a single specimen on the leaves, the birds continue to 
find them until sunnner Avanes and the leaves begin to fall. 

The value of the service performed in woodlands by birds 
that eat caterpillars is far greater than it seems at first sight, 
for wherever the foliage of a tree is destroyed by insects the 
fruit of that tree cannot mature, and the tree also suffers a 
serious check in growth. There is nmch woodland in Massa- 
chusetts that pays very little in excess of the taxes. A leaf- 
less tree makes no wood growth ; therefore, whenever trees 
that are grown for wood or lumber are stripped of their 
leaves by caterpillars, the size of the annual wood ring is so 
much below the normal that the owner realizes no profit, and 
may even suffer a loss on his wood lot that 3'ear. 

But this is the least danger that is threatened b}' the attacks 
of caterpillars. Most people know that the tree "breathes 
through its leaves," and when for a long })eriod these organs 
are prevented from developing, it must inevital)ly die. Most 
coniferous trees, like the pine and hemlock, die when stripped 
of their foliage for one season ; and deciduous or broad- 
leaved trees, such as the oak, ash, and maple, often succumb 
if deprived of their leaves for a considera])lc length of time 
each year for even two or three years in succession. Most 
trees would soon be killed in this way were it not for the 
birds, for there is a succession of many species of caterpillars 
that feed upon the trees all summer, and, ^vere they not held 
in check by birds, they would destroy the foliage month 


after month. The consequent weakened condition of the 
trees would invite the bark beetles and other borers which 
attack such trees, and, multiplying exceedingly, cut channels 
beneath the bark until all the vital tissues are 
destroyed. I have seen many trees defoliated r 
by the gipsy moth that afterward succumbed ^ 
to the attacks of these insidious borers, which 
are probably the ultimate cause of the death Fig. 35. -De- 
of many defoliated trees. structive bark 

•^ beetle, eaten 

The destruction of these larvte in their re- '^y '"^'f^s. En. 
treats under the bark is effected mainly by ^"'^ ' 
insect parasites, predaceous insects, the various species of 
Woodpeckers, and possibly by Titmice. The adult beetles, 
when they emerge from their retreats in the spring, are also 
attacked by many birds. The Woodpeckers are most valu- 
able, because they drag from secret hiding places certain 
boring coleopterous and le})idopterous larvas 
that might otherwise destro}^ the trees. A 
single borer may be sufficient to kill a young 
tree, but the Woodpecker takes the perni- 
cious grub from its burrow, and by eating 
several at a meal may save many trees in 
Fig. 36. -Wood- *^6 co^^se of a year. 
pecker hunting When the European leopard moth an- 

borers. i • tv-t ^ 

peared m JSew lork and Brooklyn, caus- 
ing great havoc among the trees in the parks, it was feared 
that as the insect spread it would become a serious enemy 
to the trees of the entire country ; but I was informed by 
Dr. John B. Smith, entomologist to the New Jersey Ai^ri- 
cultural College Experiment Station, that this moth, while 
a pest in cities, was doing little damage in the countrj^ 
where the native birds seemed to keep it in check. At 
first it looked as if the large larvae, because of their habits, 
would escape the birds. They are borers, beginning life 
within the small twigs, and when these get too narrow for 
them they eat their way out and crawl down outside to larger 
twigs. It is then that they are taken by many native ])irds, 
though the "English" Sparrows do not appear to check them. 
Dr. Smith says that the Woodpeckers eat the female moths, 


and probably drag the young larvt\? out of the smaller 

It is extremely difficult and expensive to raise forest trees 
in regions Avhere there are no arboreal birds. The larvre 
of several large nocturnal moths are among the most 
destructive insects known. Mons. Trouvelot's statement 
(pp. 30, 81) regarding the quantity of food eaten l)y the 
larva of poh/pJiemus illustrates the power for harm that 
these creatures possess. The larva? of Platysamia cecropia 
and Actias. luna are so gigantic and their rate of increase is 
so great that they constitute one of the gravest dangers that 
constantly menace our Avoodlands, yet we never hear of any 
serious injury done by them in Massachusetts. Indeed, such 
species, although large and conspicuous, are not often seen 
except by entomologists and collectors of insects, who know 
their haunts and habits. The main reason for their compar- 
ative scarcity is indicated by Trouvelot's experience in roar- 
ing the larvfB of Telea poI//j)^temus , the "American silkworm." 
lie had a tract of about hve acres enclosed, and covered with 
netting for the protection of these caterpillars. The vegeta- 
tion on this land as I saw it years afterward was largely scrub 
oak and whortleberry or huckleberry bushes. Trouvelot says 
that when he began rearing silkworms the bushes were of 
about five years' growth, and it seemed as if there would be very 
little to do after the place was enclosed and the insects put 
in ; but he found that most of his time was occupied in de- 
fendino; his treasures against the birds. The smaller of these 
would push through the meshes or get under the edges, while 
the larger ones would find some hole by which they could 
enter. He sajs that he was oljliged to chase them "all the 
day long," as when he was pursuing them on one side they 
would fly to the other and quietly feed until he reappeared. ^ 
"Birds," he says, "are the greatest foes of silkworms, espe- 
cially the Thrushes, Catbirds, and Orioles." He believes it 
probal)le that in a state of nature ninety-five per cent, of 
the silkworms Ijecome the prey of these feathered insect 

Samuels tells us that Trouvelot was obliged, in self-defence, 

' American Naturalist, Vol. 1, p. 145. - Ihid., p. 80. 


to shoot the birds which thus penetrated into his enclosures 
for the purpose of eating the worms. Although the land on 
all sides sustained a good gro\\i;h of huckleberry bushes, 
he never found the berries in the stomachs of the birds he 
killed, but always found insects. He said that birds came from 
all quarters to destroy his silkworms. To test the destruc- 
tiveness of the birds, he placed two thousand larvae oi polij- 
phemus on a scrub oak near his door. In a few days the 
Robins and Catbirds had eaten them all. His experience of 
several years in rearing the silkworm led him to the belief 
that, were the birds to be killed off, all vegetation would be 
destroyed. Such experiences show the difficulty of rearing 
caterpillars, even under artificial protection, in a land fre- 
quented by arboreal birds, and explain the rarity of serious 
injury by such larvae in our woods. 

The rapidity with which caterpillars propagate where 
there are no such birds, and their destructiveness under such 
circumstances, may be shown by the experience of many 
settlers in their attempts to establish groves on the open 
prairies. It has been the beneficent policy of our govern- 
ment to grant certain tracts of land (tree claims) to settlers, 
provided they would plant trees. This was done with the 
purpose of providing wind-breaks on the prairies, which 
would eventually furnish the people with a supply of wood 
and lumber. At first, however, this work met with little 
success, for there were few tree-loving birds in the prairie 
country except along the timbered river bottoms. The set- 
tlers introduced insect pests on imported trees. The ene- 
mies of tree insects being absent, because the country was 
destitute of well-^rown oroves and orchards, the insects 
multiplied and overran the seedling trees ; the larger moths, 
like cecroj)ia and jmlyjohemus, were the worst pests of all, 
increasing rapidly, eating voraciously, and making it almost 
impossible to raise trees. Dr. Lawrence Bruner, in a paper 
on insects injurious to tree claims, states that the absence 
alone of so great a factor as tree-loving birds in keeping 
down insect pests and ridding the country of them soon 
becomes apparent in the great increase and consequent dam- 
age done by these pests. He asserts, also, that as an enemy 


to tree culture cecvopia has no equal in some portions of the 
})rairie country, and that its large caterpillars often defoliate 
entire groves. Mr. W. C. Colt, who has had experience in 
raising trees in Dakota, told me that the cater})illars of this 

Fig. 37. — The larva of the cerropia moth, a destructive leaf-eating insect, 
held in check by birds. 

and other large species were terribly destructive there. As 
groves and orchards became established, however, and arbo- 
real birds spread over the country, these caterpillars were 
reduced to a state of comparative harmlessness. There is 
good reason, therefore, for the belief that the caterpillars so 
commonly eaten by practically all arboreal birds would, to- 
gether with the borers , destroy all the forests were the birds 
to be banished from their chosen haunts.^ 

^ The latter part of this chapter consists of revised portions of several papers 
by the author, originally published by the Massachusetts State Board of Agri- 




Certain caterpillars are provided with defences which are 
supposed to give them ininumity from the attacks of birds. 
It is now believed quite generally, by both ornithologists 
and entomologists, that such protective devices are eftective 
against nearly all birds. I have learned, hoAvever, by both 
observation and dissection, that in many cases such protection 
does not protect. American writers seem to have accepted 
the evidence of Europeans on this subject without having 
taken the trouble to investigate the matter fully by observa- 
tion at home. Among the earliest of this European "evi- 
dence" now at hand is a paper b}^ a writer in the Annales de 
rinstitut Horticole de Fremont, Vol. 5, p. 311, published 
in Paris in 1833. In discussing the opinion ])romulgated by 
the Natural History Society of Gorlitz, that the diminution 
of fruits is on account of the diminution of birds, he places 
the caterpillar of the gipsy moth at the head of the list of 
injurious caterpillars, saying that "above all it is very essen- 
tial that it be destroj^ed.'' He says further, that, as these 
caterpillars are armed with long hairs, the birds guard well 
against bringing them to their young ; and that in twenty 
years of observation he has never seen a bird take one to its 
young. He also states that these insects when in the chrysa- 
lis are not sought by birds. 

A more recent source of this widespread belief is indicated 
by Dr. Packard, who, writing in 1870, notices some inter- 
esting facts brought out by Mr. J. J. Wier of the London 
Entomological Society, in the following words : — 

He finds, by caging up l)ircl8 whose food is of a mixed character 
(purely insecit-eating birds could not l)e kept alive in confinement), 
that all hairy caterpillars were uniformly uneaten. Such cateri)illars 
are the "yellow bears'" (^ArcUfC and Sjnlnsnma^ and the salt-marsh 


catex'pillars (^Leucarctia acroea), the caterpillar of the vaporer moth 
( Orgijia) and the spiny larvae of butterflies ; witli these perhajis may- 
be classed the European currant sawfly. He was disposed to consider 
the "flavor of all these caterpillars as nauseous, and not that the 
mechanical troublesomeness of the hairs prevents their being eaten. 
Larva? which spin webs, and are gregarious, are eaten by birds, but not 
with avidity ; they appear very much to dislike the web sticking to their 
beaks, and those completely concealed in the web are left unmolested. 
"When branches covered with the web of Ilyponoinenta evonipiiclla (a 
little moth of the Tinea family) were introduced into the aviary, those 
larvte only which ventured be^-oud the protection of the web were eaten/' 
" Smooth-skinned, gaily colored caterpillars (such as the currant Abraxas 
or spanworm), which never conceal themselves, but, on the contrary, 
ajjpcar to court ol:)servatiou," were not touched by the birds. He states, 
on the other hand, that "all caterpillars whose habits are nocturnal, 
and are dull colored, with fleshy bodies and smooth skins, are eaten with 
the greatest avidity. Ever^^ species of green caterpillar is also much 
relished. All Geometnv, whose larviii resemble twigs, as they stand 
out from the j^lant on their anal jjrolegs, are invariably eaten." ^ 

Such statements as these are at least interesting, but they 
must be classed as negative evidence, and cannot justify the 
assertions so often made that birds do not eat hairy cater- 
pillars, when there is convincing, positive evidence that cer- 
tain species do eat them. This statement that birds do not 
eat such caterpillars, which has been so long reiterated, 
parrot-like, by one writer after another, is entirely at variance 
with my experience, and my opportunities for investigating 
this subject probably have been better than those of most 
observers. The great burden of proof is upon those who 
make the allegation, for it is alwa3\s hard to prove such 
sweeping generalizations, and often not at all difficult to dis- 
prove them. A naturalist may with propriety say what he 
has seen a bird do, but he should be cautious in stating what 
it does not do. The reiterated assertion that hair\^ cater- 
pillars are innnune from the attacks of birds has been modi- 
fied of late l)v some writers, and is now oftener mven, in 
effect, that few birds eat them ; but this statement needs still 
further modification. We cannot rely on results secured by 

> First Report on Injurious and Beneficial Insects of Massachusetts, by A. S. 
Packard. Aiumal Report of tlie Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture, 
1870-71, pp. 358, 359. 


feeding a few European birds in captivity, or upon the mere 
casual observations of any one, to establish facts. 

No one, however, is warranted in attempting to dispute 
assertions made l)y eminent naturalists, unless he is prepared 
to show that his own experience has been extended and varied 
enough to warrant him in assuming them to be in error. To 
justify my own position, I shall present here some revised 
portions of some papers previously puljlished, and some field 
notes from a few observers, that the reader may judge of 
the character of the evidence offered to disprove the state- 
ment that birds do not eat hairy caterpillars. It will first 
be necessary, however, to explain how the evidence was 
secured. For more than thirty years I have observed, from 
time to time, the feeding of l)irds upon caterpillars, and 
during nine years of this time I had an op})()rtunity to com- 
pare notes on this subject with many other field workers. 
During the prosecution of the work against the gipsy moth 
by the State Board of Agriculture more than a thousand 
men were employed, among whom were man}^ who knew 
the more common lairds. Some were keen field naturalists. 
In the early history of the work, Avhen it was seen that 
birds were feeding on the hairy caterpillars, all those em- 
plo3"ees who knew birds were recjuested to watch l)oth birds 
and insects, and report results. There were eleven such 0)3- 
servers on the force at that time. Others joined the force 
from time to time, until the number of competent persons 
whose ex})eriences were recorded was increased to thirty- 
eight. Some of these observers were employed onlv one 
season ; others were in the employ of the Board for six, 
seven, or eight years, and made observations during each 
year. The conditions under which these studies were made 
were such that most of the birds could be observed within 
either a few feet or a few yards. Those Avhich could not 
be so readily approached were watched Avith the aid of good 
field glasses or opera glasses, and, where there appeared to 
be doubt, birds were shot, and the contents of their stomachs 
were carefully examined. Much that was learned by ex- 
perience in the earlier studies was turned to good account 
in conductino- those made later. The value of such observa- 


tions may be questioned by those who rely solely upon the 
examination of stomach contents to determine the food of 
birds ; buffor the purpose for which these investigations are 
made they are, if skilfully conducted, quite as serviceable 
as stomach examinations. In fact, one must supplement the 
other. Were one to follow the birds about through the 
fields and woods, no doubt some interesting facts might be 
learned in regard to their food ; but it is not in this way 
that a series of accurate observations can be made. For 
our purpose, the method pursued was to find an outbreak 
of hairy caterpillars situated in a locality where many spe- 
cies of birds would be likely to find it. The watcher first 
made sure as to the kind of insects to he found upon the 
trees or plants to be watched ; he then concealed himself 
near the insects whose destruction he wished to observe, and 
watched the birds which came there to feed. When this 
method is followed methodically by trustworthy, painstaking 
naturalists, and when results obtained by diff"erent observers, 
working independently, agree in the main, there can be no 
reasonable doubt as to the value of such observations. When 
the caterpillars are small, certain marked branches are selected 
to be watched, or certain nests, webs, or tents are studied at 
close range. By this method, as well as by stomach exam- 
inations, fifty-one species or subspecies of birds were found 
to be feeding to a greater or less extent upon hairy cater- 
pillars. A list of these is given below. It will be seen 
that it comprises most of the common summer birds found 
in Massachusetts woodlands, and some not commonly found 

Birds observed feeding on Hairy Caterjnllars. 

Yellow-billed Cuckoo. 

Black-billed Cuckoo. 

Hairy Woodpecker. 

Downy AVoodpecker. 

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. 

Northern Flicker. 


Crested Flycatcher. 


Wood Pewee. 

Least Flycatcher. 

Blue Jay. 


Red-winged Blackbird. 

Baltimore Oriole. 

Purjjle Grackle or Crow Blacklnrd. 

Bronzed Grackle. 

White-tliroated Sparrow. 

Chii)ping Sparrow. 

Field Sparrow. 

Song Sparrow. 




Birds observed feeding ofi 
Rose-breasted Grosbeak. 
Imligo Bunting. 
English Sparrow. 
Scarlet Tanager. 
Cedar Waxwing. 
Red-eyed Vireo. 
Yellow-throated Vireo. 
Warbling Vireo. 
AVhite-eyed Vireo. 
Black and White Warbler. 
Parula Warbler. 
Golden-winged Warljler. 
Nashville Warbler. 
Yellow Warbler. 
Chestnut-sided Warljler. 

Hairy Caterpillars — Concluded. 
Northern Yellow-throat. 
Black-throated Green AVarl)ler. 
American Redstart. 

Brown Thrasher. 
House Wren. 
White-breasted Nutliatch. 
Red-breasted Nuthatch. 
Wood Thrush. 
Wilson's Thrush. 
Amei'icau Robin. 

Birds feeding on 
Yellow -billed Cuckoo. 
Black-billed Cuckoo. 
Hairy Woodpecker. 
Downy Woodpecker. 
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. 
Crested Flycatcher. 
Wood Pewee. 
Least Flycatcher. 
Blue Jay. 

Baltimore Oriole. 
Chipping Sparrow. 

the Pupce. or Imagoes. 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak. 

Indigo Bunting. 

English Sparrow. 

Scarlet Tanager. 

Red-eyed Vireo. 

Yellow-throated Vireo. 

Black and White Warbler. 

Yellow Warbler. 

American Redstart. 


Brown Thrasher. 




It is interestino^ to note that certain birds feed on the eo^ors 
of some of the parent moths, and that many birds take tlie 
moths in fliglit. Without going further into details here, I 
shall endeavor later, in connection with the life history of 
our more common and useful birds, to give some information 
regarding the kind of hairy caterpillars each species eats, 
and its comparative usefulness in this respect. 

Assuming that our observations have proved that birds eat 
hairy caterpillars, it may be interesting to inquire why this 


fact has not been previously noticed. It will be seen at 
once, by one who makes a study of the subject, that the 
error which has been so long persisted in arises, first, from a 
lack of careful observation. It is noteworthy that most of 
the more observing writers give the Cuckoo as an exception 
to their established ( ?) rule that birds do not eat hairj^ cat- 
erpillars. It is not strange that the Cuckoos should have 
been known for years to feed on such caterpillars. The 
Cuckoos are sizable birds ; they are not very shy, and, as 
they feed on the larger caterpillars when those insects are 
full-grown, and as both Cuckoos and caterpillars are common 
in the vicinity of dwellings, their habits in this respect could 
not escape the most casual observer. But it is nuicli more 
difficult to observe the habits of shy birds, such as the Crows 
and Ja}'S, which feed on the larger caterpillars ; and to learn 
the feeding habits of the smaller birds, which feed mainly 
on the minute larva soon after these have hatched from 
the egg, requires the most painstaking care. Most of the 
caterpillars that are eaten by the smaller birds are taken 
when the larvae are so small and have done so little injury 
that they have not become apparent to common observa- 
tion. Thus they are destroyed before most people even 
sus])ect their presence ; while, per contra, those which escape 
the smaller birds and grow to a large size are seldom eaten 
in this stage except by a few species of the larger birds, 
which, like the Cuckoo, Catbird, Jay, and Crow, bolt them 
whole. Thus another source of the prevalent opinion is ex- 
plained. A few smaller birds, such as the Titmice, Vireos, 
and Orioles, tear caterpillars open, and thus avoid swallowing 
the head, skin, and hair. Sometimes, when the adult birds 
put such caterpillars down the throats of their well-grown 
young, the little birds will reject them. A young Oriole put 
its foot upon the protruding end of a larva, and pulled the 
wriggling creature back to daylight. There is no doubt 
that when these caterpillars grow large many small birds 
experience the same difficulty in eating them whole that we 
should encounter were we attempting to swallow the bones of 
a fish. So, when larvre have grown large, and are covered 
with stili' spines or hairs, only the larger birds or the most 


intelligent, industrious, and persevering of the smaller birds 
will attack and devour them. When cateri)illars are enclosed 
in webs they are not quite so much exposed to the attacks 
of birds as when they are feeding upon the foliage ; for many 
birds lack either the intelligence, industry, or perseverance 
exhibited by those that tear open the webs and hale forth the 
inmates. Caterpillars get comi)aratively little protection, 
however, by retreating into their webs, unless they feed at 
night and remain clustered in the web during the entire day. 
Even then they must run the gauntlet of some of the almost 
crepuscular Thrushes and Flycatchers, the Owls and Whip- 
poor-wills. Those who tell us glibly that tent caterpillars 
are never attacked by birds forget that these larvcB are out 
feeding upon the leaves during most of the day, where they 
are just as much exposed to the attacks of birds as is any 
other insect. It is true that at early morning and early 
evening, a time when most birds are actively feeding, these 
caterpillars are hidden away in their tents. Undoubtedlv 
this habit came through natural selection. Those that had 
acquired the habit were more likely to escape the birds at 
morning and evening than those that were out upon the 
leaves at those times, and so, through generations, the habit 
has become fixed. These caterpillars also may have some 
immunity from birds by remaining in their tents during 
some of the colder weather of early spring ; nevertheless, 
the tents are not an infallible protection. Many si)ecies 
of birds besides the Cuckoo tear open caterpillars" " nests." 
Some do this merely to get at the larvae, others mainly to 
procure web with which to bind together the other mate- 
rials of which their own nests are composed. This cater- 
pillar web is much used by birds for this purpose. Tent 
caterpillars really have very little protection from birds 
where the conditions are as they should be. 

For five years the birds have been mainly depended upon 
to clear these larvas from the trees about my home, and 
we have not in anv year removed more than one or two 
tents from the trees. In the spring of 1905 there were two 
which appeared to have escaped the attacks of birds, and one 
day, as we were about leaving home for the summer, I exam- 


ined these tents, and concluded to remove them. At that 
moment we were called to dinner, and left the trees for half 
an hour; when we returned, the largest tent had been torn 
open, and several dead caterpillars were scattered about that 
had been dealt with in the manner characteristic of the Ori- 
ole or the Chickadee. Several large holes in the web showed 
how the}' had been extracted. Being obliged to leave at 
once, I was unable to watch the tree, to see what bird was 
doing the good work ; but Mr. C. Allan Lyford, who was 
with me, remained and photographed the caterpillars' nest. 
The accompanying illustration made from his photograph 
shows plainly an opening made by the birds, as well as sev- 
eral of the dead caterpillars Ij'ing upon the limb or hanging 
from it. We did not take ofl' the tents, but left them and 
their occupants to the tender mercies of the birds ; and our 
confidence in their protective service was fully justified by 
the results observed later. 

But, it may l)e asked, why have not those who have dis- 
sected the stomachs of the l)irds discovered that they were 
eating hairy caterpillars? To this it may be answered that 
up to the present time most of the knowledge that has been 
gained in regard to the destruction of hairy caterpillars by 
birds has come from stomach examinations, and it is mainly 
by stomach examinations that light has been thrown on 
this question. Yet he who examines the stomachs of small 
birds labors under many difficulties in determining the specific 
character and quantity of this kind of food. Minute cater- 
pillars are speedily reduced to a pulpy mass in the bird's 
stomach. While the field observer may readily identifj^ the 
small tent caterpillars, for instance, on which the birds are 
feeding, and even count the number eaten, it might be im- 
possible for the man in the laboratory, working without exact 
knowledge of the conditions under which the bird was shot, 
to do either. Most of the larger caterpillars eaten by some 
of the smaller birds are not swallowed whole, but picked to 
pieces ; therefore the })ortion of the caterpillar swallowed 
would be entirely unrecognizable when found in the bird's 
stomach. Other caterpillars are dissected, as it were, by the 
bird, and only the internal ])arts chosen as food ; these can- 

1) s 

^ 3 


not be identified in the stomach of a bird. Orioles, Vireos, 
and Titmice are among the birds that commonly dissect 
caterpillars in this way. This is not a rare or exceptional 
habit, nor is it difficult to observe. It seems to be a device 
adopted by certain of the smaller birds mainly -when feeding 
on caterpillars too large to be swallowed whole without caus- 
ing some inconvenience ; therefore, they choose the parts 
which can ])e digested readily, and reject the others. 

There are two facts which have gone far to justify the con- 
clusions of those who believe that birds do not cat hairy cat- 
erpillars ; they are : (1) most birds appear to prefer hairless 
caterpillars with which to feed their young ; (2) when small 
hairless caterpillars are abundant, most birds seem to prefer 
them to large hairy caterpillars. The first statement may 
be accepted as a rule ; nevertheless, fifteen species of birds 
were seen by my assistants in the act of carrying away hairy 
larvre apparently to feed their j^oung, and some of these were 
actually seen to put large hairy caterpillars down the throats 
of the young birds. These fifteen species are j the Robin, 
Wood Thrush, Catbird, Chickadee, Chestnut-sided AVar- 
bler. Yellow Warbler, Black and White Warbler, Yellow- 
throated Yirco, Red-eyed Yireo, Scarlet Tanager, Crow, 
Blue Jay, Baltimore Oriole, Black-billed Cuckoo, and Yel- 
low-billed Cuckoo. Statement No. 2 is proved by records 
made by several observers, in years when cankerworms 
Avere abundant. They found that when birds had for some 
time been feeding on the hairy caterpillars of the gipsA' moth 
they neglected these larvge, for a time, at least, to feed on 
the young cankerworms. While the above observations 
show that the hairy caterpillars are not so eagerlv sought 
after by most birds as are many hairless kinds, and that the 
hairy species enjo}' seasons of partial imnumity from the at- 
tacks of birds, they form no adecjuate excuse for the sweep- 
ing, erroneous generalizations regarding this subject that 
have been given a wide circulation. 

If we turn to the literature of economic entomology, we 
shall find many records which are corroborative of \\\\ state- 
ments. The occurrene(^ of the great flight of Starlings and 
other birds that flocked to feed on the caterpillars of the nun 



moth (as cited on p. 17), may be mentioned here in refu- 
tation of the assertions of European writers to the effect 
that hairy caterpillars are not eaten by birds. The fact that 
birds have been seen to feed more commonly on such cater- 
pillars in Massachusetts than elsewhere suggests the proba- 
bility that this habit of feeding is local and exceptional. 
But records of the destruction of the forest tent caterpillar 
by birds in New York and New England, as given by Miss 
Soule, Dr. Felt, and others, show that the species that attack 
hairy larvi?e in Massachusetts are useful in this respect else- 
Avhere. There are man}^ other records in the literature of 
American economic entomology and ornithology which might 
l)e offered to corroborate the specific instances hereinafter 
given. This habit of birds has been observed more in Mas- 
sachusetts than elsewhere merely because the conditions here 
have been exceptional, and the birds have been carefully 

It seems quite prol)able, from my experience, that those 
extremely hsavy and destructive caterpillars, the Arctians, 

commonly represented b}' the yellow 
])ear (Diacrisia virgimca) and the 
woolly bear (^Isia imbeUa), are not 
chosen as food by many birds. Still, 
I have never known either of these 
species to be very abundant, and 
think it not improbable that their comparative scarcity may 
be largely due to their being eaten when very small by birds. 
The earlier Thrushes 

Fig. 38.— The woolly bear 

Fig. 39. — The yellow bear caterpillar. This and 
the woolly bear are destructive hairy species, such 
as are eaten by Thrushes, Robins, and Bluebirds. 

take some of these 
larvae that w i n t e r 
upon the ground . 
Should these cater- 
pillars ever become 
very abundant at any 
time, it seems probable that other birds would attack them. 
The tussock moth caterpillars (^Hemerocamjm. Jeucosfff/ma) 
and others, which Dr. Packard instances as pr()ba))ly immune 
from the attacks of birds, are eaten by a goodly number ; 
and I have no doubt that the exemption of our trees in the 



Fig. 40. — Caterpillar of the wliiteinarked tus.sock 
moth, a destructive shade-tree pest, eateu by many 

country from injury by these insects is largely due to the 
good A\ ork of nati\ e birds, while the greater destructiveness 
of this insect in our cities is no doubt in consequence of the 
scarcity of such birds there. 

Regarding the immunity of brightly colored caterpillars 
from destruction by birds, my evidence is mainly of a nega- 
tive character, and 
therefore of little 
value. I have never 
known l)irds to eat 
certain of the most 
gaudily colored cater- 
})illars, while others 
are commonly eaten 
by them. It would 
seem that such larvje 
as are made conspicuous b}'^ their coloring nuist have some 
means of protection against their enemies. In some instances 
these bright colors may serve to warn liirds that the creature 
displaying them is distasteful or unfit for food. Usually, 
however, such caterpillars are not numerous, and must, there- 
fore, be preyed upon by natural enemies. 

In that most admirable local economic study of bird life 
by Dr. Judd, "The Birds of a Maryland Farm," we find the 
following statements : " The pea plant louse is a new species, 
unfamiliar to birds, which, however, seldom eat plant lice" 
(p. 28) ; "The fact that plant lice are not selected by birds 
has been mentioned in the notes on the pea plant louse" 
(p. 29). I cannot understand how Dr. Judd could have 
been led into making such erroneous statements, for the 
facts are that, while some species of plant lice appear to be 
ignored by birds, other species often form for them a staple 
food supj)ly. For example, I have never seen any bird eat 
the melon plant louse, but several species eat the cabl)age 
plant louse, and the birch aphis is a favorite food for birds. 
It is also a well-known and undisputed fact that some birds 
subsist largely during the Avinter on the eggs of plant lice. 
Before Dr. Judd's paper was given to the public, several in- 
vestigators had pul)lished the fact that certain birds eat cer- 



tain })lant lice ; and two years previously I had published a 
list of thirty-four species which feed upon plant lice. It is 
a widely known fact in ^Massachusetts that practically all of 
the resident and migrant Warblers eat the l)irch plant louse. 
It is only necessary- for one to find a locality where these 
insects are numerous if he wishes to make sure of finding in 
their seasons about all the Warl:)lers that breed in that region 
or migrate through it, and also many other l)irds not ordi- 
narily found among the birches. Trees are seldom killed 
by plant lice ; but they are often seriously weakened, their 
fruitage lessened, and their growth greatly retarded by the 
attacks of these prolific creatures. Undoubtedly the plant 
lice of the birch would greatly reduce the annual crop of 
birch wood and lumber were it not for the manner in which 
their increase is checked by birds. A list of thirty-eight 
species of birds that have been found, either by myself or 
my assistants, feeding on birch plant lice, is appended : — 

Downy Woodpecker. 

Northern Flicker. 

Chimney Swift. 

Euby-throated 1 lunimingbird. 

"Wood Pewee. 

Least Flycatcher. 

Purple Finch. 

Rusty Blackbird. 

Red-winged Blackbird. 

Baltimore Oriole. 

American (loldfinch. 

Slate-colored Junco. 

Chipping Sparrow. 

"\Miite-throated Sparrow. 

Field Sparrow. 



Rose-breasted Grosbeak. 

Indiyo Buntinii". 


Scarlet Tanager. 

Red-eyed Yireo. 

Yellow-throated A'ireo. 

Black and AA'hite Warbler. 

Myrtle Warl)ler. 

Parula ^^^arbler. 

Yellow Warbler. 

Black-throated Blue A\'arl)ler. 

Magnolia Warbler. 

Chestnut-sided Warl)ler. 

Northern Yellow-throat. 

Black-throated Green AA'arbler. 

Black-poll "Warbler. 


American Redstart. 

Catbird . 

White-lH'casted Nuthatch. 

American Robin. 

Some of the evidence from which my conclusions Avere 
drawn reiiardino; the economic relations existino; between 
birds on the one hand and plant lice and hairy caterpillars 
on the other, is here })res('ntcd, that the reader ma}' have au 


opportunity to judge for himself as to the value of these 
birds. If this volume does no more than to correct the 
prevalent erroneous impression regarding the relations be- 
tween birds and hairy caterpillars, and call attention to 
the necessity of protecting the birds that eat such larvie, it 
will have accomplished something worth while. The ques- 
tion whether or not l)irds will eat the caterpillars of Bom- 
bycid moths is of vast importance to the Commonwealth, 
the adjoining States, and the nation ; for, unless we can 
get help from the natural enemies of the gipsy moth and 
the brown-tail moth, the fight against these insects is likely 
to cost the State many millions of dollars in the end, while 
other States that sureW will be invaded must sufix-r also. 
If it can l)e shown that birds are capable of doing effective 
work against these insects, it ought not to be difficult to 
create such a public sentiment in favor of bird protection as 
will result in a considerable increase in the numbers of the 
useful species which obtain a part of their sustenance from 
this abundant food supply. 

In May, 1S98, injurious insects were unusually prominent 
in the Middlesex Fells. The birches swarmed with aphids ; 
cankerworms appeared on the apple and elm trees ; the 
growing webs of tent caterpillars were seen on most of the 
wild apple and wild cherry trees ; forest caterpillars were 
gathering on oaks and maples ; sawflies, mosquitoes, ants, 
leaf-rollers, and many other injurious species were al)un- 
dant. The brown-tail moth Avas just getting a good foothold 
in the woods, while the ever-present gipsy moth larvae were 
beginning to swarm up the trees from the furry egg clus- 
ters hidden among the loose stones and seamed ledges of 
the rocky hills. As usual at such times, birds were present 
in large numbers. Warblers were flitting among the l)irch 
trees, regaling themselves on countless thousands of plant 
lice, plucking young tent caterpillars from the opening buds 
of wild apple trees or from the fast-forming webs. The}' 
alighted on the tree trunks and climbed around them, as they 
eagerly sought tiny hairy larva^ of the gipsy moth, or flut- 
tered in the sunlight as they chased winged gnats in air. 

It seemed that there could be no better opportunity to ob- 


serve the usefulness of birds as destroyers of plant lice and 
hairy caterpillars, and we determined to have both insects 
and birds watched at intervals through the spring and 
summer, that others might learn much that a lack of time 
rendered it impossible for us to determine by personal ob- 
servation. It was evident that certain birds were living very 
largely at this time on plant lice and three or four species 
of hairy caterpillars, and we wished to learn whether they 
and others would follow up this practice through the spring, 
and also whether they were learning to eat the larvae of the 
brown-tail moth. These larvas arc provided not only with 
long hairs l)ut with a coating of short, loosel}" attached hairs 
on the posterior part of the body, which are easily detached, 
barbed like the (juills of a porcupine, and so tenacious that 
they Avill work quickly into the human skin and cause a vio- 
lent irritation and an itching eruption, which lasts for several 
days. It was to be expected that these, more than any other 
hairy caterpillar, would prove distasteful to birds, but the re- 
sult of the investigation that followed showed that birds were 
learning how to manage them. Messrs. Charles E. Bailey 
and F. H. Mosher, both woodsmen and thoroughly compe- 
tent observers, well acquainted with l)oth birds and insects, 
were instructed to make frequent visits to places where the 
conditions were such that they could readily ol)serve the 
feeding of birds on hairy caterpillars and plant lice. They 
were asked to take notes and report the results each da}^ 
In order to give the reader a clear idea as to the character of 
the evidence thus secured, some of their iield notes are tran- 
scribed below. The following notes are from ]\Ir. Mosher's 
reports : — 

May 26, 1898. — I went to the park near Hemlock Pool, Stoneham. 
An Oven-bird stayed near me twentj^ minutes ; took eiglit gipsj- motli 
larva}, several larva; that I could not determine, and many j^lant lice ; 
'then hopped to the ground and walked away, searching in the leaves. 
Three Chickadees came to the trees, and two of them took a gipsy 
larva each. They were picking 2)lant lice and scales from the l)ark, and 
were picking off the loose l)ark, but I could not see wliat tliey got from 
beneath it. Two Ulack and White AA'arblers Hitted from tree to tree, 
picking something from the bark and leaves, and were particularly busy 


with the small twigs of the oaks. On looking at them aftei' the birds 
were gone I found small scales on the twigs. Tlie birds also took plant 
lice from the under sides of the birch leaves, four larvae tliat looked like 
cankerworms, and three gipsy larvje. A Red-eyed Vireo came four dif- 
ferent times, taking each time respectively seven, three, twelve, and 
fifteen gipsy larvaj. Besides these, he took plant lice and other insects 
from the leaves and bark. Yellow-throated Vireos were coming and 
going constantly, and I could not distinguish between them. They 
were eating plant lice and insects from the bark and leaves. I saw 
them eat thirty -two gipsy larvas. I heard a commotion among the 
Robins that have a nest a short distance away. On going to the spot, 
I found a Crow in the act of cariying away one of the young birds. 
Probably he came later and took the remainder of the young, for the nest 
was empty when I returned. I changed my position to the edge of the 
woods. A jjair of Bobolinks that are living in the fields near by came 
to the birches and picked plant lice for over half an hour, then a move- 
ment on my part frightened them away. The Orioles were busy taking 
the plant lice, and several times the male Avent to the tent caterpillars' 
nest and ate them. I saw them eat over forty of the gipsy caterpillars, 
that I was sure of, in the hour they were in sight. There were Che- 
winks, Least Flycatchers, Redstarts, Scarlet Tanagers, Brown Thrushes, 
Wood Thrushes, and one Red- winged Blackbird that were feeding, but 
I could not see j^hiinly what they were feeding on. 

May 28, 1898. — A Black-billed Cuckoo went to an oak tree and ate 
thirtj'-six forest tent caterpillars inside of five minutes. Its nest was 
near by, with two eggs, and both birds were carrying the withering 
blossoms of the oak and poplar to line it. The Black and White Wai*- 
blers were eating forest tent catei'pillars, cankerworms, and other larvae, 
besides plant lice. I could not see them for more than a moment at 
a time, but when seen they were continually eating. They were also 
picking insects from the crevices of the bark. The Rose-breasted Gros- 
beaks were eating i^lant lice and the gall insects from the galls on the 
oak leaves. The Red-eyed Vireos were eating plant lice, forest tent 
caterpillars, cankerworms, and other larvie that I could not determine. 
From one oak tree the Red-ejed Vireos took ninety-two forest tent 
caterpillars in an hour. The Purple Finches were eating plant lice in the 
tops of the birches, but were so wild that their habits could not be 
observed. ... A Red-winged Blackbird jjerched for a moment in the 
birches, and ate the plant lice while there. A pair of Catbirds have a 
nest near the grove, and they would l^oth perch in the branches and pick 
the plant lice for an hour at a time. The Tanagers confined themselves 
almost wholly to the oaks, taking larvas from the leaA'es. One took 
seven forest tent caterpillars from a mass on a branch. The Redstai'ts 
were equally as industrious as the Yellow-throats,' but they did not con- 

•• See Mr. Mosher's rei^ort regarding these Yellow-throats, on \i. 62. 


fine themselves to any one tree, and would dart about in such a manner, 
taking insects on the wing, flies, moths, winged plant lice, etc., that one 
could not keej) count of what they ate. A male Chewink came to a 
tent caterpillars' nest that was on a wild cherr}^, and he was eating the 
caterpillars. When I made a movement to enalde me to see more 
jslainly, he flew away. 

May 31, 1898. — I went to Rural Avenue, Medford. During the first 
hour the birds Avere very plentiful, but by 9 a.m. there were l)ut few 
there. There was a family of Crows in the place all the time, but they 
were in the tops of the pine trees, therefore I could not see what they 
were feeding their young, but could hear their feeding cries very fre- 
quently. A Blue Jay was carrying food to her young. I got near 
enough to see her take two gips}^ larva3 and carry them away. A 
Wood Thrush was singing in the bushes near the water. I got near 
enough to see him picking larvae from the leaves. He took five gipsy 
larvae after I came in sight ; the cracking of a twig caused him to fly 
away. The Catbird was present, as usual, first eating larva? (both 
gipsy and other species), then perching on the top of the highest bush 
and singing with all its might, now and then throwing in a fairly good 
imitation of the "caw" of the Crow. A new bird now made his ap- 
pearance. He was of a bluish color, and was seen picking plant lice 
before I was certain of his identity. He then took a short flight to the 
oak sprouts, revealing his yellow back. This Parula Warbler ate three 
small gipsy caterpillars and four or five green larva3, and then flew 
out of sight. A Rose-breasted Grosbeak ate plant lice, gipsy larvse, 
gall insects, and took some kermes from a branch, cracking them with 
his bill and dropping the shells to the ground. A Yellow-billed 
Cuckoo came, and ate forty-one gipsy larvai in about fifteen minutes ; 
she then flew away. On my way out of the woods I stopped at the 
edge of the open to observe what birds were feeding on plant lice on 
the birch trees. Some Indigo Birds were busy eating them, and while 
I was looking I saw a Robin alight in the birches and pick U]) plant lice. 

June 1, 1898. — I went to the park near the Malden-Stoneham line, 
and took up my position in a grove of small white birches and some 
wild cherry trees with tent caterpillar nests on them. A Brown Thrush 
came to the cherry trees and took five tent caterpillars from the outside 
of the nest, and ate them. Sevei'al Chestnut-sided A\'arblers came to 
the birches and were picking plant lice all the time they were there, 
also larvjB of different kinds. They were coming and going all the 
time I was in the i)lace. A Chipping Sparrow remained in the birches 
for sixteen minutes, and ate plant lice and green larv;\3 during that 
time. A Flicker alighted on an oak tree and took two forest tent cater- 
pillars from the trunk. He also took insects from the crevices of the 
bark. A Wood Pewee alighted on a dead branch, and took moths, flies, 
and jdant lice on the wing. An Oriole came four times, and each time 
took a tent caterpillar from the nest to his young. An Indigo Bix'd came 


twice and ate plant lice and some small larvie. Three Red-eyed Vireos 
came to the oak trees and ate the larvic from the leaves and the plant 
lice from the birch leaves. 

June 3, 1898. — I went to the park near the boulevard. Saw an 
Oriole take four forest tent caterpillars, one at a time, and carry them 
away to its young. A Yellow Warbler was eating plant lice for fifteen 
minutes, although it rained quite hard. A pair of Oven-birds were 
feeding on plant lice for a long time. Several Chestm;t-sided Warblers 
came to the birch trees and ate plant lice, then went to the oaks and 
poplars and took larvaj of different kinds and ate them. A Catbird was 
picking ]arva3 from the under sides of the leaves ; most of them were 
green larviiJ. Two Chewinks (Towhees) were scratching in the leaves, 
but I could not see what they got from the ground. They took some 
forest tent caterpillars from the trunks of the oaks. A Maryland Yel- 
low-throat came out of the thick brush and ate plant lice for about ten 
miiuites. A Rose-breasted Grosbeak was busy in the oak trees. He 
came to the birches for a moment and ate plant lice. A Red-eyed 
Vireo ate two forest tent caterpillars, taking them from the under side 
of a limb. The Indigo Bird could not be easily ol)served; he was evi- 
dently eating plant lice. The Brown Thrush could not lie seen dis- 
tinctly ; he was searching in the fallen leaves. A Black-billed Cuckoo 
had a nest near, and carried forest tent caterpillars to its mate. 

June 6, 1898. — The Red-eyed Vireos seem to be feeding on more 
gipsy larvic than the other birds that come near enough to be observed. 
They will take a larva from the under side of a leaf or a crevice in 
the bark, and, putting one foot on the larva, will proceed to pull it to 
pieces, eating the softer parts and dro^jpingthe hair}" parts. An Oven- 
bird came to the colony and ate four of the small larva?, picking them 
from the under sides of the leaves. I saw a Black and AVhite Warbler 
carrying cankerworms to its young ; it would take two and sometimes 
three at a time. A Baltimore Oriole was taking tent caterpillars to its 
young, taking those that were on the outside of the nest. A male Bobo- 
link came to the birch trees and remained al)out twenty minutes, picking 
plant lice. The Field Sparrows and Indigo Birds were also busy feed- 
ing on plant lice. A Wood Thi'ush took the cankerworms away to its 
young. A Chewink took two tent caterpillars from a bush and ate them. 
A Scarlet Tanager flew fi'om the oaks into the apple tree and ate canker- 
worms. The Chestnut-sided Warblers were the most plentiful of any 
of the birds, and were eating plant lice almost constantly. 

June 8, 1898. — I went to the park, Stoneham, near Spot Pond, to 
observe the feeding habits of birds. A pair of Brown Thrushes were 
feeding their young ; the\' averaged going to the nest one every five 
minutes, and carried several larv;e each time. A Kingbird caught a 
Bu^jrestid beetle and ate it. I liad made an attempt at catching it when 
it was on the trunk of the apple tree ; it flew, and was snap2:)ed up by 
the Kiuffbird. This orchai'd is infested with cankerworms. It is situ- 


ated uear the woods, in fact, there are woods on both sides, and no 
houses near. The following birds were seen in the orchard during the 
forenoon : Crow, Blue Jay, Red-winged Blackbird, Yellow Wai'bler, 
Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black and White Warbler, Maryland Yellow- 
throat, Bobolink, Indigo Bird, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Goldfinch, 
Chipping Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Kingbird, Brown Thrush, Catbird, 
Robin, Baltimore Oriole, Scarlet Tanager, and Black-billed Cuckoo. 
A Black-billed Cuckoo came to the orchard and ate twentj^-seven canker- 
worms in two minutes ; he remained over half an hour, and part of the 
time was eating much faster than when I counted. A Grosbeak came 
and ate both cankerworms and Inrch ajjhids. A pair of Song Sparrows 
were carrying cankerworms to their young. A male Oriole came a long 
distance to the orchard, for when he had got some cankerworms in his 
bill he would start across the woods in a straight line, fl.ying out of sight ; 
he would come back in about half an hour. The Red-winged Black- 
birds came to the orchard from a swamp nearly half a mile away, and 
ate the cankerworms and carried them to their young. A Catbird 
came occasionally and ate cankerworms, then would go and perch in 
the alders beneath which his mate was sitting on her eggs, and sing 
with all his might. I saw a Chimney Swift taking plant lice on the 

On July 9, 1898, Mr. Bailey made some interesting early 
morning notes on birds feeding on the gipsy moth. These 
are quoted below : — 

I left ]\Ialden for Medford at o.oO a.m.. and went to Forest Street, 
Medford. I arrived there at 4 a.m., and tliere were some birds in the 
place then. The first bird that I saw eating the gipsy caterpillars was 
the Red-winged Blackljird. The Blackbirds came in almost at the same 
time that I ari'ived, and they staj'ed until 6 o'clock, then left and did not 
eome back. I could not tell how many cateri^illars were eaten by these 
birds, but they took them very often, both the large and the small ones. 
I saw them take no i)upai. All the caterpillars were taken from the tojjs 
of the trees. I did not see the birds come near the ground. Tliere were 
seven Baltimore Orioles, and they were eating caterpillars all the time 
from 4.^0 until 8 ; then they stopped eating, but did not go outside the 
Avoods. As nearly as I could judge, the Orioles did not pick out small 
cater j)illars, but took as large ones as there were. I did not see them 
take any pui>a^. The Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoos were there 
all the time that I was. They did not take the caterpillars as often as 
did tho^ otlier birds. Those that they did take were picked from the 
trunk of the; tree or from the ground ; they went very little to tlie tops 
of tiie trees, rupa-; were eaten l)y these birds. T could get within ten 
feet of them very oftcsn. Tlu^ Blackliii-ds and Orioles ate more cater- 
pillars than the othcu' l)irds. There was one Catl)ir(l in the woods; it 


came about the same time as tlie Blackbirds, but I saw it for only a 
short time; it took caterpillars and jHipas. There were four Red-eyed 
Vireos, but I saw them take only one caterpillar, and they were in the 
place all the time that I was. There were also six Downy Wood- 
peckers, but I did not see them take any caterpillars or pupje. A brood 
of Chickadees was there all the time, and they took caterpillars and pupaj 
of tlie gipsy moth and some kind of a green caterpillar. They took all 
tlieir food from near the ground, and would pick the pupse and cater- 
pillars open before eating them. There was a nest of the American 
Redstart, and the tree had been stripped of leaves by the caterpillars. 
There were four young birds in the nest. I saw the old birds take but 
one very small gipsy moth caterpillar to the young, but they would pick 
the large ones off the nest and drop them to the ground very often. i 
There were no pupaj near the nest that I could see. Two Robins 
came to the colony very often to get food for their young. I could not 
tell how many they took with them each time, but sliould judge from 
the cluster of caterpillars in the bill that there were as many as six. 
The Robins took all the caterjiillars from near the ground or from the 
ground. I did not look for the Robins' nest, but could see the birds go 
one hundred and twenty-five yards to a large maple tree, and I think 
the nest was in this tree. One Blue Jay came, but stayed only a veiy 
short time. It took two caterpillars, but, as they were in the tops of 
trees, I was not sure that they were gipsy caterpillars. A brood of 
Crows (four young and two old birds) came, and stayed till I moved, 
and then left and did not come back. They came at 8 o'clock and 
stayed until almost 9. They were all in the trees directly over me for 
a long time ; at times they were within ten feet of me. They would 
go to a cluster of pupa3 and caterpillars and eat some, but drop more 
than they ate. I think they took more pup:e than caterpillars, but took 
a large number of caterpillars. The young birds took many more than 
the old ones. The old birds left the place for a short time, but came 
back. I think the six Crows took two hundred pupje while hi sight. 
Some of the time they took them as fast as a hen would pick up corn. 

After this time most of the smaller birds neglected the 
hairy caterpillars to attack the cankerworms, which were 
then becoming very prominent. AVhen the cankerworms 
had disappeared the larger species continued to feed on the 
gipsy moth so long as it coidd be obtained. 

These observations were begun rather late in the season, 
and the records kept bv the observers Avere not vervfull, on 
account of the pressure of other duties, which also limited 

^ Redstarts are among the most useful birds that eat the smaller cateri)illars, 
Imt at this season the larvae were nearly all too large for the bird to manage. 



the time that could be spared for this kind of work. In 
1899, however, Mr. Mosher was detailed for this work early 
in the season, and instructed to spend such time daih^ as 
was necessary to observe the feeding of birds on these in- 
sects. He was requested also to make full notes each day. 
As many of these field notes as the available space will per- 
mit are given below. Many of the observations were made 
in the morning, but not during the earlier morning hours, 
when birds feed most actively. The weather being mild, on 
the 24th of April a few brown-tail moth larvae that had win- 
tered on the trees began to crawl out. 

Apuil 24. — In Cambridge, near Fresh Pond, I 
saw a large flock of Red-winged Blackbirds foraging 
on a newly plowed field, and from a large pile of 
dressing they were taking flies. From a pear tree 
near by three of them took brown-tail moth larv.-e 
from the opening buds. They were in the tree seven- 
teen minutes, and were eating all the time. 

April 26. — In Revere, near the Maiden line, I 
found a pear tree with a brown-tail motli web on it. 
A pair of Crow Blackbirds came, and remained about 
forty-five minutes in that tree and the one adjoining. 
They plumed their feathers for a while, then began 
looking over the tree for food. They alighted sev- 
eral times on the branch that was most infested, and 
picked the larvaj from the buds and from the crevices 
of the bark. 

A little later the tent caterpillars began 
„. ,, „. , . hatchino;, under the influence of the warm 

Fig. 41.— Web of i^ 

the brown-tail spring sun, and the birds could find a few of 

moth caterpil- .. 

hir, reduced. tliem. 

April 27. — In Stoneham, off Forest Street, I observed the birds 
feeding on tent caterpillars. A Black and White Warbler came three 
different times, and took the small caterpillars from the buds. The 
CHiickadees visited the bush, and took a few caterpillars. None seemed 
to take them from the web. The May flies were unusiially jjlentiful, 
and the Least Flycatchers were feeding on them. 

April 28 On Mr. Button's estate, Maiden, I saw Black and 

White Warblers feeding freely on tent caterpillars, and also Chickadees 


feeding on them. A pair of Robins were building near by. When 
the female was arranging the materials of the nest the male was search- 
ing for food. When she started for another load he would ^y after 
her. He flew to a small wild cherry tree and picked a few of the 
young tent larvaj from the branch just above the web. 

May i._Xear the Fells, Maiden. The White-throated Sparrows 
were quite plentiful all day. I observed one come from the thick 
brush along the edge of the swamp, and forage along in the lower 
trees. It went to a tent caterpillars' web, and ate at least eight of 
tliem. Most of those Sparrows were foraging in the low bushes and 
on the ground. 

May 2. _ a Field Sparrow took a numljer of tent caterpillars from 
a Ijranch. The Field Sparrows were very plentiful, but I could not 
often get near enough to see what they were eating. A Chewink took 
some of the tent caterpillars from the branch that I had placed in the 
thicket to see if they would eat them. 

May 3. — In Maiden. I saw a Robin go to a tree with many brown- 
tail larvai on it, and eat several of them. The day was very cold, and 
the larva; were clustered together on the branches. The bird picked 
into the mass five times, and must have taken several each time. 

May 4. — In Stoneham. Six Cedar Wax wings came to an apple 
tree on which was a tent caterpillars' Aveb, and two of them picked the 
larvai from the branches just above the web. Most of the time they 
were picking the small cankerworms. A Brown Thrush came to the 
wild cherry trees, and, after singing for a short time, ate a great many 
tent caterpillars, then flew to the thick bushes and began searching in 
the dead leaves. 

May 5. — An Oriole came to the small Avild cherry tree and ate sev- 
eral tent caterpillars from the outside of the web, then tore it open and 
ate out nearly all that were in it. This was a large web when I first 
saw it ; now tliere are but few of the caterpillars left, — the birds and 
bugs have nearly cleaned them out. A Redstart came to another small 
tree and took out three of the tent caterpillars from the twigs. 

May 6. — A Rose-breasted Grosbeak went to an apple tree with a 
tent caterpillars' web on it, and took at least two of the Iuvxm and prob- 
ably took away more. 

May 9. — I observed a number of Golden-winged Warl^lers working 
near the cherry trees. Finally one went to the larger one, and after 
working in it for a time went to the branch that had the web on it and 
ate fourteen of the tent caterpillars. A male Nashville Warbler came 
to the tree and took a few of the tent caterpillars, but he was so shy I 
could not make out distinctly how many he ate. 

May 10. —I located a male Red-winged Blackbird and two females 
that were building in a small swamp hole. They were feeding, every 
time I went past, in a small place where there were no bushes. There 


Avere small tufts of grass growing out of the water. I took a branch 
from an apple tree, put twenty -four tent caterpillars on it, and stuck it 
up in the mud on their feeding grounds. I went away and was gone 
twenty-five minutes, and when I came back the male was looking the 
branch over. On examining the l)ranch, I found but two caterpillars 
left. They had crawled to the under side of the branch, and were well 
concealed by leaves. At the apple tree with the brown-tail larvae there 
were three species of birds seen to feed : Oriole, Robin, and Black and 
AVhite Warbler. The Oriole came three times during the afternoon, 
and took fourteen the first time in six minutes, twenty-seven the second 
time in eight minutes, and ten the last time in three minutes. The 
l\obin came but once, and took over thirty and stayed l^ut little over 
four minutes. The Black and White Warbler took twelve while in 
sight, but was on the ojiposite side of the trunk and branches at least 
half the time, and stayed nine minutes. The first took most of his 
from the leaves, the second from the ujjper sides of the horizontal 
bi-anches, and the last from the bark crevices of the upright trunk. 

May 11. — A pair of Blue Jays came to the apple tree and took 
forty-seven of the brown-tail larvje. They were in the tree eighteen 
minutes. A Robin came and picked off four brown-tail larva? and ate 
them, then flew away. A Black and AVhite AVarbler ate fifteen brown- 
tail larvae ; stayed abovit ten minutes. A pair of Chestnut-sided War- 
blers came to the apple trees and ate cankerworms for about twenty 
minutes. They must have eaten a great many, as they were pecking 
all the time, l)ut were behind the leaves a jmrt of the time, so I could 
not see the number. A Parula Warbler also came to the tree and ate 
the cankerworms, then went to the wild cherry tree and ate five tent 
caterpillars. I counted seven Yellow Warblers at one time in two 
apple trees, and they were all eating cankerworms. One of them went 
to the cherry tree and ate three tent caterpillars that were on the out- 
side of the web. Several Golden-winged Warblers came to the orchard 
and ate cankerworms, but they were very shy. A Xashville Warbler 
ate eight of the tent caterpillars, and stayed onl}' three minutes. The 
Yellow-throats were in the apple trees nearly all the forenoon, and 
Avere l)usy most of the time eating the small cankerworms. I did not 
see them trouble tlie tent caterpillars. 

Cankerworms and gil)sy moth caterpillars were now hatch- 
ing in some numbers, and the birds could take their choice. 

May 12. — There was a large flight of Warblers this morning. On 
first arriving at the orchard I found the trees literally alive with them. 
There were Golden-winged, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Parula, Black and 
AVhite, Nashville, Yellow-throated, and others that I was not sure of. 
They would stop Init a moment in anyone jdace, but were chasing each 
otlier from tree to tree, and were all singing in ciiorus. 1 saw all of 


Fig. 42. — Nashville 
Warbler, natural size. 

the above-mentioned eating cankerworms, but could not keep any one 
individual in sight more than a few seconds at a time. By 7.45 most 
of tliem had left the orchard. I saw a Least Flycatcher alight on a 
branch of an apple tree near me, and when it saw a cankerworm move, 
it would fly and snap it up from tlie leaf. I saw it take nine in this way 
before it flew away. In tlie swamp 
a Yellow Warbler came to the wil- 
lows, and, after foraging in the top 
for a time, alighted on one of the 
shoots that was infested with tlie 
gipsy moth, took fifteen of the larvie 
in less tlian five minutes, then flew 
out of sight. A Kasliville Warbler also came and 
remained among tlie willows for about half an 
hour, and took forty-two gipsy moth larva) \^\a\e 
in sight, but must have taken away many more, 
for he was not in sight all the time. A llose- 
breasted Grosbeak came to the apple tree and ate 
fifty-seven brown-tail larva). He was in the tree about twenty minutes, 
and was singing and eating all the time. He probably ate more than 
I was sure of. 

May 15. — An Oriole ate fifteen of the tent caterpillars from tlie web 
at one sitting, and nine in about twenty minutes after. The Robin was 
still hanging around the brown-tail moth tree, but I did not see her eat 
any. A Chestnut-sided Warbler came and stayed about twelve minutes, 
and I counted twenty-eight brown-tails that he ate. 

May 10. — I found that one large tent that was full of caterpillars a 
week ago contained only three to-day, and a large part of the web had 
been carried away liy the birds for nesting material. Just after I had 

opened the web an Oriole flew to 
it and took one of the remainino- 
caterpillars. The Orioles are eat- 
ing immense numbers of canker- 
worms. The row of apple trees 
nearest the woods now show but 
little signs of the presence of 
cankerworms. A pair of Scarlet 
Tanagers came to the brown-tail moth tree. The male stayed seven- 
teen minutes and the female ten minutes. The male ate at least fortj-- 
four larva), and probably many more. They took only those that were 
on the leaves, and they examined all leaves that were curled up, and 
took from them all the \ixv\-x they contained. A Wood Thrush came 
to the tree just at night, and perched and sang for nearly half an hour. 
Occasionally he would move along the branch and pick a brown-tail 
larva or two. The I'.lack and White Warl)lers came again, stopped a 
moment, taking two and three each, then flew awav. 

Pig. 43. — Caterpillar of the brown-tail 


May 17. — A male Yellow Warbler came to the brown-tail moth tree 
and began eating the larvte. He had eaten four when a flock of English 
Sparrows flew into the tree and drove him out, one of them chasing him 
across the boulevard. The remaining five Sjjarrows pecked a few times 
at the larva', then the}' flew to the street below. A Song Sparrow came 
to the tree in the early morning and perclied a while and sang, then he 
went to the ground and foraged for about twenty minutes, searching in 
the grass, ihen among the leaves. I saw him take two small green 
grasshoppers. He tlien went to the tree and picked five brown-tail 
larvaj from the branch, tlien flew awa}-. A pair of Wood Thrushes 
came to the orchard and stayed thirteen minutes. They were chasing 
each other through the trees most of the time, Ijut I saw one of them 
take several cankerworms from the leaves. Finally they were chased 
out by a Kingbird that is nesting near by. A Yellow-tlu'oated Vireo 
came to one of the apple trees that has a tent caterpillars' web on it, 
took two of the caterpillars, and, after hammering them well on the 
branch, swallowed them whole. He then went to another tree and 
began eating cankerworms. 

The nLiml)er of gipsy moth caterpillars increased from this 
time on, as the eggs hidden away in cool and shady })laces 
hatched out ; the number of birds seen feeding on them also 

May 18. — Maiden. In the deer park, just back of Mr. Button's, I 
found the gipsy moth larvae quite plentiful. A Black and White Warbler 
came to the infested trees and hopped along on the trunk of a tree near 
me, picking at the bark, and finally hopped to one of the liranches with 
larvse on the leaves, took eight gipsy larvas in a very short time, then 
flew over the ledge out of sight. A pair of Golden-winged Warblers 
were busy for a long time in the thick bushes. They came to the small 
infested trees and picked the larvre from the leaves. Saw them take 
twelve gipsy larvae, and they must have taken more. Yellow Warblers 
Avere constantly passing through the trees. They would alight for a 
moment and pick three or four gipsy larva3, then fly on. I should think 
there were as many as twenty-five that passed through. A single Chest- 
nut-sided Warbler came to the trees and stayed fourteen minutes, and 
took twenty-two of the gipsy larva; that I saw, and many besides, I 
])resume. He also took some kind of green larva? from the leaves. He 
would pick a few, and then sing. A pair of Oven-birds were apjmrently 
l)uil(ling near. They were chasing each other tlirough the trees every 
few minutes, and would alight on the low bushes and pick the lai'vre 
from the leaves. They would stay but a moment at a time. A Brown 
Thrasher, after scratching in the leaves in the bushes out of sight for a 
while, cam(! out into the opening, hopped along imder the small cherry 



trees, and took two of the tent caterpillars from a low branch. She 
would hammer them on the ground for quite a time, then swallow them 
whole. When she had swallowed the second one she saw me, and flew 

May 19. — A pair of Redstarts were in the orchard most of the fore- 
noon, and were apparently eating cankerworms most of the time. Thej- 
would take those that were spinning down liy threads. In the afternoon 
I saw one come to the 
apple tree and remain 
for about five min- 
utes, and take eleven 
brown-tail larvae. A 
pair of Tanagers came 
to the apple tree and 
remained four min- 
utes, and one took nine 
and the other sixteen 
brown-tail larv!«. A 
Black and White War- 
bler came to the apple 
tree and remained 
about ten minutes , 
and took twenty-eight 
brown-tail larv«,that 
I saw, from the leaves 
and trunks. He prob- 
ably took many more. 
A p a i r of Yellow 
Warblers came to the tree, and each took a few, but they were so 
active I could keep them in sight but a moment at a time. 

May 20. — In the swamp off Broadway, Everett, the Warblers were 
very plentiful in the morning, and were present in quite large numbers 
until about 10 o'clock. Most of them were in the tops of the trees, and 
it was a difficult thing to see what they were eating. The Yellow War- 
blers, Yellow-throats, and Redstarts were feeding on the trunks of the 
trees. There are very few limbs on the trees for a distance of fifteen 
or twenty feet from the ground. The Warblers would cling to the 
bark and pick the gipsy moth larva3 from the crevices of tlie bark. 
Their habits were different from those of a Creeper. Instead of cling- 
ing to the bark with the body lengthwise of the trunk, and supported 
by the tail, their bodies were crosswise of the trunk, and they depended 
wholly on their feet to hold and balance them. They were hopping 
round and round the trunks so that it was impossible to count the number 
of larvaj eaten by any one Warbler, or to keep him in sight any length 
of time, on account of his swift movements. There were a great many 
Crow Blackbirds that were nestino- in the evergreens in Woodlawn Cem- 

Fig. 44. 

Warblers feeding ou young caterpillars of the 
gipsy moth. 


etery. 'rht\y were also eating the gips}' larvaj. There was only one 
that I could get near enough to see what and how many he was eating. 
lie, in a little over three minutes, ate forty larv:e that I was sure of. 
Two pairs of Wilson's Thrushes were near me nearly all the forenoon. 
They did not stay in the trees much of the time. I saw one alight on a 
small sprout on a willow and eat five gipsy moth larvae, then fly to the 
ground. They were feeding almost wholly on tlie hunnnocks among 
the bushes and grass. 

May 22. — A pair of Chickadees came to the apple tree antl stayed 
seven minutes. One ate fifteen and the other twenty-one brown-tail 
larvae. They must have eaten more than twice that number, for they 
were not so we could see them nearly all of tlie time, but we could see 
that they were bus}-. Mr. Kirkland observed one, and I the other. A 
Yellow-throated Vireo came to the tree and ate three brown-tail larvte 
as he passed through. 

May 23. — A llobin was in the apple tree when I got there, but flew 
away. Soon she came back and foraged on the ground for a wiiile, 
then went to the apple tree and to a fork near the top where the brown- 
tail larva) were congregated in gi'eat numbers, picked into the mass 
and swallowed them. I saw her take eight mouthfuls. The next 
bird to come was a Red-eyed Yireo. He confined himself to the 
branches where the larva? were comparatively scarce, and went about 
picking them from the leaves. I saw him take forty-three brown-tails 
in ten minutes. He stayed longer than that, but changed to the oppo- 
site side of the tree, so I could not see him. He was finally driven out 
by an English Sparrow. A Yellow Warbler passed through the tree 
and stopped for a moment. I saw him take six brown-tail larva?. The 
next visitor was a Blue Jay. He came in a very noisy manner, and 
perched on one of the upper branches. He looked suspiciously at me 
for a few seconds, then went to feeding on the larva?. He hopped 
from one branch to another, and took them from the forks whei'e they 
were clustered. I could not count how many he ate, but there were at 
least thirty brown-tails. A female Chestnut-sided Warbler came into 
the tree and ate eleven brown-tails, when she was followed l)y the 
male. He would eat one or two, then chase his matc^ through the apple 
tree and the adjoining trees. They were in and out of the tree, back 
and forth, for nearly twent}' minutes. A Chipping Sparrow came to 
one of the upper branches and took a larva, flew to the ledge near me, 
hanmiered it, and ate it, swallowing it whole. She then flew back, took 
another, flew to a lower bi-anch with it, and ate it in the same way. 
Then she flew away. 

May 24. — A lUack-billcd Cuckoo came to the apple tree that has a 
tent caterpillars' n(;st in it, jjulled open tlie web and took two caterpil- 
lars from it, when he was seen by a Kingbird and chased out. The 
Kingbird went to the nest and pulled out a mouthful of web and took it 
away to its nest. A male Oriole came soon afterward, and took three 


caterpillars from the wel) and ate them. There were two Crows in the 
brown-tail moth tree when I came in sight of it. I saw one of them 
peck twice at the branch, and swallow something. In attempting to get 
nearer to them I made a noise, and frightened them away. Could find 
notliing on the branch they were on except brown-tail moths, which 
they were eating. The next visitor was an Oriole, who came to the 
tree and ate thirty-four larvas in six minutes, then fiew away. He 
hammered each larva once or twice before swallowing it. The next 
visitor was a Wilson's Thrush. He first perched on a small oak on the 
top of the ledge, then hoi)pcd to the dry leaves, and seemed to be 
searching among them for food for about five minutes. 'Jlien he flew 
to the tree and took a larva while in sight and swallowed it. He 
probably took more while in the tree. He was in the tree four minutes. 
He then flew down and began searching in the grass. A Red-eyed 
Vireo perched in the oaks and searched for about nine minutes. I saAV 
him take over fifty larvaj of various kinds from the leaves, some of 
which were leaf -rollers. I could see liim picking insects from the under 
sides of the leaves. To accomplish this he would grasp the petiole with 
his feet, and hang, back down, and pick the larvae off. He then went 
to the apple tree and took twenty -nine larvoe (brown-tail) before flyinf 
across the boulevard. He was in the apple tree about six minutes. He 
beat nearly every one on tlie In'anch before eating it. 

From this and later experiences it .seems that many birds 
have learned to cat the larvaj of the brown-tail moth even 
when the caterpillars reach an age when the detachable hairs 
are dangerous. Probably by shaking off these hairs the birds 
render the larvty eatable, and even fit to feed to their young. 

]\Iay 25. — A (iolden-winged A>'arblcr came to the oak trees next 
the boulevard, and sang for nearly five minutes in a lo\v, wiry voice. 
He then began searching for food. Frequently I would see him take 
some small green larvae from the leaves, but could not tell what kind 
it was. He then flew to the apple tree and picked eleven bx'own-tail 
larviB from the leaves and swallowed them, after hammering them on 
the liml)S. He probably took more while feeding in the tree, about 
eight minutes. He then flew over the ledge. A jiair of Orioles were 
back and forth over the ledge, and would occasionally stop and eat the 
brown-tail larviB for a moment or two, but did not make a long stay 
while I was there. They had i)robably got their fill earlier in the day. 
An Indigo Bird lit in the top of one of the oak trees for a moment, then 
flew to the apple tree and ate six of the brown-tail larvie, and was then 
chased out Ijy the f]nglish Sparrows. Three of the Sparrows perched 
in the tree and picked off two or three brow-n-tail larvae apiece, then 
flew to the boulevard. A pair of Scarlet Tanagers perched for about 


twelve minutes in the apple tree, and were busy all the time eating 
brown-tail larvte. I could see but one distinctly, and he ate forty-three 
brown-tails that I saw, and probably a few more, but not many. 

May 26. — I watched a Maryland Yellow-throat on the low willow 
sprouts, and saw him i)ick off tifty-two gipsy moth larv;c before flying 
away. I saw Warblers Hying in and out among the trees, taking one 
here and another there all the time I was there, but could not watch 
any one individual for any length of time. The Yellow Warblers were 
taking them from the trunks as well as the sprouts, and also in the tops 
of the tall trees. A pair came to a bunch of sprouts near me, and I 
counted thirty-five gipsy larvaj that they took in tlie two minutes they 
were there. A jtair of I^nglish Sparrows have a nest in a hollow tree in 
the grove, and they are almost continually chasing the Warljlers and 
other birds that come near them ; but I did not see them feed any in the 
grove, — they go out to the streets and dooryards. The Redstarts were 
also eating large numbers of the larvai. One that I got near enough 
to observe ate tliirty-one gipsj^ larva; before he left the clump of willows. 
At the brown-tail moth tree a Black-billed Cuckoo came, and. going 
to a branch where the larvjc were very numerous, began eating them 
greedilj'. lie had taken four mouthfuls wlien a Robin, that has a nest 
in a pine tree near, cliased him out. A Yellow-throated Vireo came to 
the tree and ate fourteen brown-tails in less than five minutes. He 
probably ate many more, as he could not be distinctly seen nearly all 
of the time. A Red-e^'cd Yireo came to the opposite side of the tree 
and ate several larva;, Imt his doings could not be clearly seen. A 
male Indigo Bird perched on the topmost branch of the apple tree and 
sang for several minutes, then hopped down a branch or two and 
picked the larv;e from the brancli. I saw him eat sixteen of tliem 
(brown-tails) after he had hanmiered them on the branch. 

May 27. — A Yellow-billed Cuckoo came to a willow^ tree near me 
and ate forty-seven forest tent caterpillars in six minutes, then flew 
to a small maple tree and sat on a branch for nearly ten minutes and 
plumed his feathers, then returned to the willow and ate sixteen more, 
and flew awav. He would take the caterpillar and hammer it once 
or twice, then swallow it. A Blue Jay came, and took two of the 
forest tent caterpillars and flew away with them. A male Redstart ate 
three forest tent caterpillars. He would take one, fly to a neighboring 
branch, hammer it well, swallow it, then go l)ack for another. A male 
Oriole came to the tree three times during tlie forenoon, and fed on the 
forest tent caterpillars. The first time lie came he stayed four minutes, 
and took eighteen caterpillars ; the second time he stayed seven minutes, 
and took twenty-six larva' ; and the last time he stayed about ten min- 
utes, and ate fourteen larva-. At the brown-tail moth tree there were 
quite a number of birds feeding in the surrounding trees, but not nearly 
all the species visited the apple tree. A Red-eyed Vireo came to the 
tree and would take tlie l)rown-tail moth larvtc and hammer them a 


few minutes, then ])n\\ the larger ones to pieces, and swallow them; 
the smaller ones she would swallow whole. I saw her eat fifteen in the 
eight minutes she was in the tree. A Catbird came to tlie tree, picked 
four brown-tail larvae from the branch, and ate them, and would prob- 
ably have eaten more, but a Rol)in chased her out of the grove toward 
the boulevard. She would give the larv^e a knock or two, then swal- 
low them. 

May 29 A pair of Blue Jays were very busy carrying food to their 

3-oung. They came twenty-four times to a willow tree, with forest tent 
caterpillars on it, during the three hours I was there, and took at least 
two or thi'ee larvas each time. Once they went to some hazel bushes 
near by, where a Chestnut-sided Warbler was sitting, and would prob- 
ably have taken the eggs, if I had not interfered. A White-breasted 
Nuthatch came to a willow and climbed around the trank for a time, 
when she found two forest tent caterpillars. She ate one after hammer- 
ing it for a moment, but passed over the other. I saw her pass over 
two others in the same way, apparently preferring to jjick the smaller 
insects from the bark. These were so small that I could not see what 
the}' were. A ^Vood Thrush took two of the forest tent caterpillars and 
ate them, and later in the day I saw a Wood Thrush go to the apple 
tree and eat five of the brown-tail larv;c, and then fiy away. I saw a 
Flicker alight on an ant hill and make a hole in the hill with her bill, 
and pick up the ants. She was busy in this way for nearly fifteen min- 
utes, and must have eaten large numbers of them. I found in the thick 
woods a few oak trees that were badly infested with forest tent cater- 
pillars, and there were quite a number of them on the low bushes on 
the ground. A Chewink came to the brush, scratched in the leaves and 
pulled out large grubs, but I could not make sure what they were. She 
then hopped about and took six of the forest tent caterpillars, beat them 
on the ground, and ate them. An unwise move on my part frightened 
her awaj'. A Black-billed Cuckoo came and gorged himself. He ate 
twenty-nine forest tent caterpillars at first, then rested between ten and 
fifteen minutes, then ate fourteen more. He would shake and hammer 
one on the l)ranch, then swallow it, and pick up another. A Nashville 
Warbler came to the apple tree, picked a brown-tail larva from the 
leaves, beat and shook it for about thirt}' seconds, and swallowed it; 
then took another, hammered it in the same way, and swallowed it. 
He then flew to the low shrubs. A Robin was passing to and fro, but 
I did not see her eat any of the brown-tails ; she seemed to eat nothing 
but what she took from the ground. The angleworms were plentiful 
that day, and she had no ai)2)etite for anything else. 

May 31. — An Indigo Bird came to the brown-tail moth tree, took a 
brown-tail larva from the leaves, and flew to a low branch, shook and 
hammered the larva, and ate it. He then went back, took another, and 
flew with it to a neighljoring oak, ate the larva, and flew away. A 
AVarbling Vireo sung and fed in the oak trees for nearly thirty minutes. 


He then went to the apple tree and took a brown-tail moth larva, picked 
it to 2)ieces, and swallowed it. He then took another, and was proceed- 
ing in the same way, when he was driven out by the English Sj^arrow, 
and Hew up over the ledge out of sight. A pair of Red-eyed Vireos were 
in the oaks near the ajjple tree for a long time, foraging. They would 
hold on to the petiole of the leaf, hang with their heads down, and take 
insects from the under sides of the leaves. One of Ihem went to the 
api^le tree, took a brown-tail larva from the leaves, beat it on the branch, 
and swallowed it. His mate then flew across the street, and he followed . 
\ Yellow -throated Vireo went to a small oak tree and took three gipsy 
moth larvae that were resting on a burlap band. She scarcely stopped 
to shake them at all, lint swallowed them at once. A pair of Chestnut- 
sided Warblers Avere busy taking cankerworms to their young. They 
averaged one each, every three minutes for nearly thirty minutes. In 
the mean time they themselves ate quite a number. The j'oung could 
not have been more than a day old. A Yellow Warbler came to an oak 
tree on the edge of the orchard and took two forest tent caterpillars, then 
tlew to the thick apple trees and fed on cankerworms. Four Waxwings 
visited the orchard for a few minutes and ate a few cankerworms, but 
they seemed to be picking into the blossoms of the young fruit more than 
anything else. A Redstart took a forest tent caterpillar from a branch, 
hammered it, and ate it. He then flew out and caught a small moth, 
then flew into the tliick woods. A female Rlack and White Warl)ler 
took a forest tent caterpillar from the trunk of an oak, flew wath it to 
the ground, hammered it until she broke it in pieces, and then swal- 
lowed the pieces. 

June 1. — An English Sparrow came to the apple tree, took a brown- 
tail moth larva, and, after hammering it for a moment, flew away with 
it to her j-oung. A Field Sparrow came to the open space ai'ound the 
apijle tree, foraged among the bushes for a few moments, 
tlien 25erched in a small oak and sang. He then flew to the 
apple tree, took a brown-tail larva, flew to the groimdwith it, 
and ate it. He then flew to the ojjen fields across Higldand 
Avenue. A pair of Orioles came to the tree, and the male 
ate sixteen and tlie female twenty-five brown-tails. They 
Avere in the tree seven minutes. A YelloAv-billed Cuckoo came to the 
tree and stayed about eighteen minutes, including a rest he took. He 
ate thirty-four brown-tails, then rested seven minutes, and 
ate twelve more. He would give them a couple of shakes, 
and swallow them. The Robin coming in spied him, and 
chased him out. A Rose-l)reasted Grosbeak visited a tree 
for a moment and took at least five browai-tail larvae. 
He probably took more, as he was not in sight all the time. A pair 
of Chickadees also visited the tree ; tliey stayed about five minutes. 
One ate nineteen l:)rown-tail larv!\!, and the other ate eight that I saw ; 
he probal)ly ate many more, as I could not watch him all the time, 


being occupit'd with tlie other bird. A Yello\v-thro;ited Yireo came 
tlirough the pla(>e, visited the tree for a moment, and took two larva^, 
then passed on. A male Golden-winged Warbler ate two forest tent 
caterpillars, after hammering them a long time until he got them in 
pieces. A female IJlack and White Warbler took a forest tent cater- 
pillar from the trunk of a tree near me, Hew to the ground and Ijeat it 
until she got it in pieces, when slie took the inside parts and flew away 
to her young, leaving the otlier parts on the ground ; slie did not come 
back for them. A Red-eyed Vireo took a forest tent caterpillar from 
a br-anch and hammered it, then he pulled it to pieces and ate it all. 
The next one he treated in the same way, except tliat he ate only the 
inside, and dropped the skin and head to the ground. A Chestnut- 
sided Warbler came to an oak tree infested witli the gipsy larva^ and 
took six in a few seconds, then flew to the higli trees. An Oven-bird 
came to the same tree and took eight gipsy larvix? from the leaves, 
then flew awa}*. A Yellow Warbler ate thii'ty-three cankerworms in 
a little over six minutes. A Song Sparrow took two of the gips3' larvjc 
and carried them away to lier young. 

Burlap l)aiKls were placed around the trees as a shelter 
or trap for the gipsy eater})illars. Jays and Orioles soon 
learned where to find them when hidden there. An inter- 
esting note on another bird follows : — 

July 5. — I saw a Ked-breasted Xuthatch take gipsy larvtc from 
under the burlaps and eat them. When first seen, it was on the trunk 
of a pine tree just below the burlap. The bird examined the burlap 
all around the tree, then flew to the next and examined it in the same 
way, and found nothing. On the fourth tree examined it found a 
small, smooth-skinned larva, just under the burlap, and ate it; then it 
found a medium-sized gipsy larva, and, beating it a few times on tlie 
trunk, swallowed it. It took another on the same tree. On the next 
tree it took another, and, after beating it more tlian the first, started to 
fly away wdth it, when a Wood Pew ee chased it away. 

As the season advanced, the caterpillars began pupating, 
and birds that were not particularly fond of hairy caterpil- 
lars pursued the imagoes as they emerged from the pupa. 

July 6.- — ]\Iedford. A company of English Sjjarrows were picking 
the brown-tail moths from tlie elm trees and from fruit trees near the 
street. Some of these would get away from the Sparrows and fly out 
into the street, and were snapi^ed up by a Least Flycatcher that was sit- 
ting on a dead limb, and also by two Kingbirds that were sitting on the 
telephone wires. On Iligliland Avenue, near the Hook farm, I saw a 
Great-crested Flycatclier take two of the brown-tail moths. 


All the above notes, taken, as thej were, in different lo- 
calities in several different towns, seem to establish the fact 
that l)irds are not by an}' means indifferent to hairy larvae. 
Eeference may also be made to a summary of the observa- 
tions of a large number of men, published in 1896, which 
show the avidity with which certain birds eat the larva? of 
the gipsy moth.^ 

Mr. Mosher's notes, quoted above, fail to show the attrac- 
tion of birds to caterpillar outbreaks, for at that time there 
were no great irruptions of any such insects in that region. 
The greatest swarms of gipsy moths and brown-tail moths 
had been suppressed by the work of the State Board of 
Agriculture, and neither the American tent caterpillar nor 
the forest tent caterpillar was in very great numbers. Going 
back to 1895, we find Mr. Bailey recording briefly his ex- 
perience in a visit to a destructive swarm of the gipsy moth. 
Mr. Henry Shaw and others give similar experiences. Mr. 
Shaw says : — 

June 28, 1895. — The n6wlj found colony of gipsy motlis in Dor- 
chester seems to be a great attraction for birds of all kinds. In the 
last three days I have seen the Black-billed Cuckoo in great numbers 
eating larva?, also the Rose-breasted Grosbeak. I have seen the Cat- 
bird, Red-eyed Vireo, and Yellow-throated Yireo feeding on the larvje 
of the gipsy moth. The Red-eyed Vireos seem to be living on them. 
They take large ones, and swallow them whole. The Purple Crackles 
are around there apparently after the larva?. 

Mr. Bailey says, regarding the gipsy moth : — 

July 27, 1895. — I left here at 4.15 a.m., and started for AVoburn, 
to see how many birds there were in the infested woods. I think there 
were more than I have seen at any one place this summer. The fol- 
lowing is a list of species seen : Chickadee, Black and White Creejjer, 
Yellow-throated Yireo, Red-eyed Yireo, Catljird, Crow, Blue Jay, 
Phoebe, Wood Pewee, Least Flycatcher, Kingbird, Towhee, Chipping 
Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Scarlet Tanager, Swamp Sparrow, Chestnut- 
sided "Warljler, Yellow Warbler, Rose-l)reasted Groslieak, Downy 
Woodpecker, Redstart, Baltimore Oriole, Black-billed Cuckoo, Yellow- 
billed Cuckoo. Most of the birds left the woods by 11 a.m., or, if they 
did not, they kept very quiet after that hour. I think some of the birds 
have come a long way to feed here, for I saw some of them go about 

> The Gipsy Moth, by E. H. Forbush and C. H. Fernald, 1896, pp. 206-243. 


half a mile. I think the best bird to destroy the moths is the Kingljird. 
The Kingbirds came into the woods at 6.15 a.m. There were seven of 
them, and they did nothing but hunt tlie moth until 9.30. I saw them 
take seventy-nine males and twenty -four females. They dropped six 
of the females. I'hey would cut the wings off both males and females 
with the bill. It is safe to say that the seven Kingbirds from 6.15 a.m. 
to 9.30 A.M. killed two hundred and hft}- males. I could not keep one 
bird from the rest, so I took the number each time I saw a bird catch 
one. 1 did not see the birds take any males except on the wing, and 
most of the females were taken from branches of trees near the ground. 
They almost all stopped feeding at one time, left the Avoods, and did 
not come back while I was there. I saw the Chipping Sparrow take 
five females ; three were taken from the ground, two from a tree. 
They took a number of males on the Aving. They would peck both 
males and females before eating them. There were six Least Fh'- 
catchers, and I saw them take thirty-one males and nine females. Two 
of the female moths were caught by the birds when the moths were 
falling from the tops of trees ; some otlier bird might have dropped 
them. One was taken from the ground and six from the trunks of 
trees near the ground. They took the wings off, just as the Kingl)ird 
did. They took the moths only when they came near them. The 
Wood Pewee took twenty-two males and seven females, that I saw. 
There were three of these birds in the woods. Eight of the male moths 
were taken off the trunks of trees, and twelve were taken on the wing. 
The Cuckoos fed very little. I saw them take eight larv;\i and three 
pui>n'. The larv;e were pecked several times before they Avere eaten. 
I did not see them take any notice of the moths. The Black-billed 
Cuckoo was hunting for a small larva in the tojjs of the trees ; I could 
not get one to detei'mine the species, but it Avas not the gipsA' larva. 
A large number of Chickadees came into the Avoods at 
6.30 A.M., and stayed there until I left, l)ut were not 
feeding all the time. I saw them take several male gipsy 
moths from the bark of the trees, but did not see them 
take any on the Aving. I saAV one bird take a female moth 
and pick it all ujj in A'ery small parts. Another bird took 
a female, took onh' the Avings off, and ate her. They were hunting 
for some small insect that is feeding on the new leaves, but I could not 
tell what it Avas. I saAV eight pu|.);c taken by the Chickadees, and all 
of them were pecked ojjen by the bird l)efore any part was eaten. The 
Baltimore Oriole came, found four small gipsy moth larvae and I am 
sure took one male moth on the Aving. The Iledstarts took several 
male moths on the Aving. A Yellow Warbler took a male motli from 
the trunk of a tree and ate it. A nuniljcr of ToAvhees Avere hunting for 
the moths, and took the female as reailih' as the male. I saw them 
take eighteen in all ; then they left the ground where they had been 
hunting, and Avent into the tops of tlie trees, hunting for the moths. 


In September, 1895, a second brood of the gipsy moth 
hatched in Woburn. The Warblers were then miOTatinsr 
southward, and had stopped there to feed on the young cat- 
erpillars. Mr. Mosher refers to this briefly, as follows : — 

Sept. 21, 1895. — I went lo the Woburn colony in the forenoon, to 
observe the young hirvas. I found that many of them were gone, prob- 
ably having been eaten by birds. Since these warm days the eggs are 
hatching again. The birds were very numerous, esijecially the War- 
blers and Vireos, and the Chickadees, Blue Jays, and Hairy Wood- 
peckers were quite plentiful. 

In July, 1899, a serious oiitbreak of gipsy moths was dis- 
covered in Georgetown at some distance from the region 
then known to be infested bv this insect. On visitinof the 
place I found birds very plentiful there, and most species 
appeared to be feeding on the gipsy moth in some of its 
forms. Mr. Mosher was sent there, and spent several days 
investigating the natural enemies of the moth. Some of 
the notes taken there by him are given below : — 

July 11. — A Chickadee came, and ate one larva and one pupa. He 
held them with his feet, pulled them to pieces, and ate the fragments. I 
saw an Oven-bird carrying a gipsy moth larva to her young. A youno- 
Black-billed Cuckoo came to an oak tree, took a larva from a branch, 
flew to a lower branch, and liegan working tlie larva around in its bill. 
It continued this for several minutes, when it dropjjed the larva to the 
ground, flew and jiicked it \\\), and finally swallowed it. A Blue Jay 
remained in sight about four minutes, and Avas seen to eat ten jjupa? 
and three larvie. A pair of Rose-breasted CJrosbeaks could be seen 
among the pine trees, feeding steadily when they were in sight. They 
were in the colony at least two hours. There were se^en Blue Jays 
in the colony at one time, and all were eating both larv;\; and pupa? 
steadily when seen. A pair of Scarlet Tanagers were in the trees for 
nearly an hour, and were eating caterpillars pretty steadily while they 
were in sight, which Avas aljoiit half the time. Several times a Black and 
"\\'hite Creeper came, and ate a few inipas each time. A Downy "Wood- 
pecker was heard several times on the edge of the defoliated tract ; 
finally he came into it, and was seen to take a few pup;c from the 
clustered masses, \y\\\\ tliem in pieies, and eat them. A j^air of Great- 
crested Flycatchers were passing to and fro. One of them alighted 
on a tree near me, and, after hopping about for a little and taking one 
or. two small moths on the wing, it took a pupa from among the jiine 
needles on a small bough, and ate it. There was a family of Black- 

PLATE XVII. — Pines, Oaks, and Other Trees, stripped by the Omniv- 
orous Caterpillars of the Gipsy Moth. Georsivtown (where Mr. 
Mosher's observations were made). July 11, 18U1). (From the aimiial 
report of the Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture, ISIIU.) 


billed Cuckoos that were coming and going all the time I was there, 
and they were eating large quantities of larva?. The young would take 
a larva and work it over with the Ijill for a long time, and then swallow 
it. The old ones would take a larva, beat it on a limb a few times, and 
swallow it. Most of the birds were gone by 8.30 a.m. They were 
most plentiful between 5.30 and 7 a.m. The Cuckoos and Chickadees 
were coming and going all day.' When we came in sight of tlie place 
after dinner we saw nine Crows fly to the edge of the stripped patch, 
and alight in the trees that were partially stripped, but when we tried 
to get near them, they flew away. When I went into the colony I 
found there were still two Crows there. I saw one of them eat three 
pupre, then they took flight. Several species that were not seen to eat 
the moth were heard in the woods outside the stripped area. Among 
the number were the Red-eyed Yireo, Indigo Bird, Wood Thrush, Che° 
wink, Maryland Yellow-throat, Black-throated Green Warbler, Chest- 
nut-sided and Yellow Warblers. 

July 12. — In the morning, when I came in sight of the ])lace, I 
found the whole flock of Crows there, and could hear them feeding 
their young very frequently. When I tried to get near enough to see 
what they were doing, they all flew away. The Grosbeaks were back 
again to-day. They kept on the farther side of the tract, and were eat- 
ing both pupa^ and larvas when they could be observed. The Black- 
billed Cuckoos were eating great numbers of the larvte, as was the case 
yesterday. There were three of them in sight at one time, and they 
were coming and going all day. The Blue Jays were around the col- 
ony all the time, just outside the stripped area, and when seen were 
eating both i)upa3 and larvte. They are so shy that it is very hard to 
get near them. There were a great many Chickadees 
flying back and forth through the colony. Each one 
would stop now and then, take a larva froiu the trunk, 
take it to a branch, and with its feet on the larva would 
pull it to pieces and eat it. A pair of Phoebes came to 
the colony about 8 o'clock and remained nearly two hours, and caught 
all the male moths that came near them. One of the Great-crested 
Flycatchers was in and out of the colony at intervals all day, takino- 
food to its young in a hollow apple tree near by. I saw the pair take 
all forms of the moth to-day, — caterpillar, pupa, and male and female 
moths. They would hop along on a lu-anch, and at a distance might 
be taken for Robins. I saw them take five pupa;, two larva?, and two 
female moths, besides a great many male moths, and carry them to 
their young. A Kingbird also came, remained nearly half an hour, and 
took many male moths. 

July 13. — The Crows were in the colony when I arrived, and all 

' Most birds leave the defoliated woods during the hotter part of the day, re- 
tiring to the cool shade, and feeding in the stripped woods mostly at morning 
and night. 


flew oat and went to tlie meadow land near by, and were searching for 
grasshoppers most of the day. I could hear them feeding their young 
there very often. Whenever I l(;ft the i)lace for a few minutes to go to 
the spring they would fly back again. I counted nine Blue Jays in the 
colony at one time, and they Avere all busy eating the larvse and pupaa. 
I could see only one distinctly, and he ate five \)\\^ve and two larvae in 
two and one-half minutes. A family of Oven-birds were scratching 
about on the ground among the thick bushes. They were walking 
about like a flock of chickens, and took the larvae that were crawling 
on the ground or that happened to fall from the leaves. A young 
Cuckoo was perched in the oak s2>routs near me. The old bird 
brought him larva at the rate of one every two minutes for about 
thirty-six minutes ; he then went into the swamp. A Red-eyed Vireo 
came into the colony and ate steadily for forty minutes. He ate sev- 
enty-three larvfe that 1 saw. lie would hold the larvte with his feet, 
pull out the inside, eat it, and drop the outside. A Downy Woodpecker 
came into the colon}-, ate two pupa3, and then flew away. 

July 14. — The Crows are still in the colony, back and forth, wlien 
no one is there. Tliey fly out when they see any one. They seem to 
be eating great numbers of the pupie. A Yellow-billed Cuckoo came 
in the early morning and fed forty-eight minutes, and ate eighty-one 
larva. He would beat each one once or twice and swallow it, then rest 
a short time before taking another. Chickadees are still here in large 
numbers, and are eating a great many caterpillars, as they 
eat only the inside. Blue Jays are still eating large quan- 
tities of larva and 2)U2)a^, but their actions cannot be seen 
accurately, as they are so shy. Black-billed Cuckoos are 
here to-day, as before. I saw four at one time, and they 
were here at intervals all day, and alwaj^s eating the cater- 
pillars. There were several Tanagers, or the same one 
several times ; each one would eat two or three of the 
larvae each time he was in sight. He seemed to pick out the small 
ones. He would hammer them well before he swallowed them. 

Jl'LY 15. — \\'hen I arrived this morning there were three Flickers 
in the path where the larva were crossing to get green food. These 
birds were picking the larva up as tlie^' crossed, and eating them. 
They would hammer tliem on the ground. Yesterday there was a 
Hairy Woodpecker around the colony, but I could not see wliat he was 
doing. To-day lie came and picked into the mass of pui)a, i)ulled then) 
in pieces, and ate them. The Downy Woodjjecker was also here again 
to-day. I saw him eat three pupa. He Avas around nearly all day. 
The Crows are getting tamer, and came several times during the day, 
and T saw them take both larva and pupa and feed their young with 
them. Tlie Chickadees are liere in greater numbers than any day be- 
fore ; there were evidently two families of them. All were feeding on 
the larva, in the same manner as mentioned before. A Chewink perched 


in a tree near the edge of the colony, sang for a few minutes, then flew 
to the sin-outs that are infested, then to the ground. He scratched in 
the leaves, and I saw him take seven pupa3 from the leaves, and two 
larva3 that were crawling on the ground. There was a pair of Great- 
crested Flycatchers coming and going all day. They took a great many 
male moths, and I saw them take five female moths from the tree 
trunks. A Robin perched in the tops of the oak trees, picked off four- 
teen of the pupaj from the branches, and ate them. A Yellow-bellied 
Sapsucker came, and I saw it eat two pupa?. It remained at least 
ialf an hour more, but I could not see what it was doing. A Yellow- 
"billed Cuckoo ate ten larvos in a few minutes. 

Thousands of these insects are undoubtedly eaten by birds, 
for every one that they are seen to eat ; but, it may be asked, 
if the birds are effective enemies of these introduced gipsy 
larvfe, why have they not kept down the increase of these 
insects ? To this it must be answered that we have not birds 
enough, nor are tliere likely ever to be enough, to do away 
Avith these pests entirely, unless birds learn to eat the ego-s. 
Other natural enemies must also help in this work, if we are 
to see an end of the moth plague ; but there is little that we 
can do to [)rotect the insect enemies of the moth or to insure 
their multiplication, while we can protect and feed the Inrds, 
and so secure an increase in their numbers. In so far as 
we are able to take measures that will result in increasino- 
the numbers of certain birds, just so far shall we be able to 
prevent the increase of destructive insects. As time o-nes 
on, it IS probable that birds will become more and more effi- 
cient as enemies of the gipsy moth and the l)rown-tail moth, 
as they learn better how to manage them. It seemed a[)par- 
ent that they had not learned to eat the eggs of the gipsy 
moth up to 1896, when my last studies on that subject were 
made; still, now that ten years have passed, the subject 
should be investigated again. It is quite possible that by 
this time some birds may have learned that these eggs are 
good for food. As the gipsy moth spends more than half 
the year in the q^c^, this is its most vulnerable point. If 
Jays, Creepers, Nuthatches, Woodpeckers, and other birds 
could learn to cat these eggs, as European l)irds are said to 
do, they would then have an increased food supply the year 
Tound. Naturally they would increase in numbers, and thus 



an eifective natural check to the gipsy moth in America 

would be established, provided these birds were protected. 

But the egg clusters of these insects are covered with a fine, 

yellow hair, which causes them to 
resemble in a})pearance a fungous 
growth which often api)ears on 
trees. Apparently the l)irds failed 
to recognize anything edible in 
them, and whenever a l)ird broke 
open an egg cluster, the fine hairs 
sticking to the beak seemed to dis- 
o-ust it. 

The brown-tail moth is more ex- 
j)osed to the attacks of birds than 
is the gii^sy moth, since the larvae 
hibernate in their nests in curled- 
up leaves that remain on the tree 
all winter. Already some birds are 
learning to open these winter nests 
and to extract the larvae from them. 

If the birds once learn this lesson thoroughly, the power of 

this pest will be greatly lessened. 

Fig. 45. — Egg cluster of gipsy 




The conditions in the orcliard regarding bird life approx- 
imate tliose in the woods. The trees offer some shelter to 
birds, and also nesting places secure from such of their 
enemies as cannot climb or fly. The cutting over of wood 
lots destroys the breeding places of such birds as nest in 
hollow trees. Apple trees, on the other hand, are allowed 
to stand for a century or more if they still bear profitable 
fruit crops. Many orchard trees are much decayed, as a 
result of neo-lect or bad iirunino-, and the dead and hollow 
trunks furnish homes to such birds as once bred in the decay- 
ing trees of the woods. The trees in the orchard also provide 
an abundance of insect food. They are usually planted in 
or near fields or gardens, where many s})ecies of insects find 
food and shelter. For these reasons, orchards are much 
frequented by birds. The service rendered by birds in pro- 
tecting the orchard is not, however, as eflfectual for man's 
purposes as that given by them to the woodland ; for birds 
are the servants of nature, and in planting and cultivating 
the orchard man sets nature at defiance. His object here is 
not the mere growing of trees, but rather the production of 
an improved variety of fruit. Nature's efforts, on the other 
hand, are put forth mainly to produce such fruit as will 
make for the production and distribution of good seed that 
will insure the propagation of the tree. The fruit grown by 
nature is often considered by man as unfit for food. He 
wants fruit suited to his tastes. The seed is of little value to 
him, for he does not often use it, l)ut propagates the tree of 
his choice by grafting or budding. 

The production of a vastly increased quantity of fruit, of a 
better quality than the natural product, offers an increased 
food supply for the creatures that feed upon that fruit. So 
the planting of large fruit-bearing orchards gives the insects 


which feed upon the fruit, seed, or other parts of the tree 
an increased opportunity to multiply. Insects unfamiliar to 
our native birds are introduced. The undergrowth, shrub- 
bery, and vines which shelter many such useful birds are 
cleared away. This drives these birds away, and so the fight 
against insects in the orchard is begun with an inadequate 
number and variety of birds and an unusual abundance of 

Even under these adverse conditions, the entire protection 
of the foliage from insects may be left to birds, provided that 
the orchard is favorably situated, that the birds are attracted 
to it in winter, and that those which nest there in summer 
are protected, encouraged, and furnished with nesting places. 
This I have demonstrated by a series of experiments, cover- 
ing a period of about ten years. 

The protection of the trees and their foliage by birds in- 
sures the maturing of such fruit as the trees will bear ; and, 
as probably two-thirds of the fruit trees in Massachusetts 
receive little care at the hands of their owners, the people 
of the Commonwealth are largely indebted to the birds for a 
great part of their annual fruit crop. Even as it is, insect 
pests destroy a large })art of the apple crop in some seasons, 
and hardly a hand appears to be raised to stay them. Hence 
I repeat that such fruit crops as we get are largely due to the 
protection our trees receive from the birds. 

My first attempt at availing myself of the services of the 
birds in an orchard was made in 1894-95, and the result was 
given in a bulletin issued by the State Board of Agriculture. 
The winter birds were attracted to the orchard, and fre- 
quented the trees during the entire winter of 1894-95. In 
the fall, winter, and spring they destroyed many thousands 
of the imagoes and eggs of the fall and spring cankerworm 
moths, the eggs of the tent caterpillar, and probably also the 
pupae and imagoes of the codling moth, besides scales, tineids, 
and other enemies of the trees. When spring came, eflbrts 
were made to attract the sununer birds to the orchard. These 
attem})ts met with such signal success that, although most of 
the eggs and young birds were destroyed by cats, boys, 
Crows, and other agencies, the remaining injurious insects 


were so completely disposed of by the birds that the trees 
bore luxuriant foliage during the entire summer, and produced 
a good crop of fruit. This occurred in a season when both 
the tent caterpillar and the cankerworm were remarkably 
prevalent. The only other orchard in the neighborhood 
that i)roduced an}^ fruit whatever was that of the nearest 
neighbor. (See p. 169.) This had been partly protected by 
tarred bands and partly hy the birds from my place. Else- 
Avhere in the town most of the apple trees were defoliated, 
and ver}' few produced any fruit that 3^ear. While the result 
secured in such an exceptional year seemed remarkable, the 
experience of succeeding years has demonstrated that it was 
not so. Year after year we have kept the trees free from 
serious insect injury, without spraying or otherwise protect- 
ing the foliage, merely by a little efibrt and expenditure to 
attract the birds and furnish them safe homes. While the 
protection of the tree itself is essential {i.e., its trunk, limbs, 
twigs, and bark), the protection of its foliage, which shades 
the fruit and so allows it to mature, is also imperative. 

It must be admitted, however, that he who wishes a large 
crop of the finest fruit must himself prevent the inroads of 
those insects which attack the fruit directly. There are two 
insects of this class which the l)irds have thus far failed to 
control completely ; and, while birds might possijjly check 
such insects under the most favoral)le circumstances, I believe 
that ordinarily they cannot be relied upon to do so. The in- 
sects referred to are the codling moth ( Carpocap.'<a pomoneUa) 
and the a})ple-fruit maggot or "railroad Avorm" {RJiagoletis 
pomoneJIa). These insects are for a greater part of their 
lives protected from the attacks of l)irds by being hidden 
either in ground, rough bark, or fruit. Only a few birds are 
known to dig out the larvae of the codling moth from their 
hiding places ; probably fewer still find the railroad worm. 
Weevils or cureulios are eaten b}^ many birds ; still, suffi- 
cient numbers usually escape to spoil nuich fruit ; and the 
pernicious introduced San Jose scale seems to be overlooked 
thus far by birds. 

It cannot be expected of the birds that they will become 
efficient allies of man in protecting his artificially proi)agated 


fruit from the attacks of all the too numerous insects that 
are introduced and fostered by his methods. The bird is 
designed to assist in carrying on nature's work in maintain- 
ing such a balance of her forces as will allow the production 
of a natural fruitage. Birds merely perform a service in 
the orchard similar to their natural work in the woodland, 
by protecting the tree from the enemies Avhich, under normal 
conditions, attack its different members. In the mean time, 
birds feed to a greater or less extent on the fruit which they 
protect. While such service as they may render in direct 
protection of the fruit should be placed to their credit, they 
cannot be expected to deviate much from those habits which 
they have contracted under natural conditions, or to make 
any special effort to assist man in producing an unnatural 
surplus of fruit. Birds are not as essential to the orchard 
of the intelligent, enterprising, modern fruit grower, who 
sprays his trees and cares for them in every possible way, 
as they are to those of ordinary mortals. Nevertheless, so 
long as human nature continues as it is to-day, the birds will 
always be a great help in the orchards of the poor, or of those 
who for various reasons have not the spare time or money 
necessary to enable them to care for their trees in the most 
approved and scientific wa3^ 

A series of poison sprays used for the destruction of the 
codling moth will destroy most other leaf-eating insects, and 
so protect both fruit and foliage. There is, however, a host 
of tiny insects that are not affected by any amount of arseni- 
cal spraying, — insects so small, indeed, that their pi-esence is 
seldom noticed until the injury done by them has progressed 
so far as to destroy the fruit. Such insects are the plant lice 
and their allies, the bark lice, scales, and all the lilliputian 
host that unnoticed sucks out the juices of the tree from 
trunk, limbs, twigs, leaves, or fruit. Warblers, Titmice, 
Creepers, and Nuthatches are often very efficient helps in 
holding the increase of such insects in check. 

As an instance of the unnoticed beneficial guardianship of 
the birds over our orchard trees, I Avill relate a recent expe- 
rience of my own. The reader has already been told how 
in the spring of IDOo I left my trees to the tender mcr- 


cies of the caterpillars, trusting them to the care and pro- 
tection of the birds. I visited the place occasionally during 
the summer, and in the fall saw that measures were taken, 
as usual, to attract the birds. On Xoveml)er 12 1 returned 
for the winter, and noticed no evidence of insect injury 
among the fruit trees. A small flock of Myrtle Warblers 
and some Goldfinches were very busy among the apple 
trees, and were paying particular attention to the pear trees 
near the house. I was told that they had been comino- there 
for about two weeks. Realizing at once that they nmst be 
engaged upon those leafless trees in the suppression of some 
insect, I examined the trees casually, but at first was unable 
to find the object of their quest. One of the birds was 
watched closely. It was taking something from the lower 
sides of the twigs and the crevices between them. With a 
glass it was seen to take some very small insects that were 
hiding in these situations. Evidently the insects were no 
longer plentiful, as the birds had to search somewhat to find 
them, and the only way in which I could find a specimen 
was by driving a bird away just as it was about to attack the 
insect, and then examining the twig. Three tiny insects, 
which appeared like little cicada-shaped flies, were found 
and secured in this way. Two of these were forwarded to 
Dr. L. O. Howard, chief of the Bureau of Entomology, at 
Washington, who identified them as adults or imagoes of 
the pear tree psylla (Psi/lla pt/ri), a pest imported into this 
country from Europe about 1832. According to Circular 
No. 7, second series, issued from Dr. Howard's office, an 
overwhelming invasion of this insect occurred in the year 
1894 in one of the largest pear orchards in Maryland ; there 
were similar occurrences in Virginia and New Jersey. This 
insect has long been known as a pest of the pear tree. It is 
a true bug, of the order Homoptera, intermediate between 
the scale insects and the plant lice on the one hand, and the 
cicadas and larger plant bugs on the other. The Psyllidfe 
are commonly known as the jumping plant lice, on account 
of their vaulting ability. They are extremely prolific, having 
several broods each year. In the infested Maryland orchards 
the leaves and fruit fell, the latter before it was half grown, 


and the trunks of the trees appeared as if smoked. The 
enormous secretion of honeydew that the hosts of these 
insects produced from the sap of the trees fell like rain, 
drenching the horses used in cultivating the orchard, and 
running down the trunks in such quantities that it extended 
in a discolored circle from six to eight inches from the base 
of each tree. This information comes from the above-men- 
tioned circular. 

If the birds had been engaged for more than two weeks in 
clearing these insects from the few pear trees about my home, 
there must have been a great number of insects on those trees, 
for the pests are so small that each bird might eat thousands 
of them in a day. At the time of my return the insects were 
evidently becoming scarce ; but the birds persevered in their 
attentions to those trees, until in a few days I could not dis- 
cover a single specimen of the insect ; but even after that they 
looked the trees over occasionally, and still found a few. By 
the end of another week, however, they had exhausted the 
supply, and, although they were seen occasionally in the 
woods, they seldom visited our trees. A])parently this was 
an incipient outbreak of a })est, brood after l)rood of which 
had probably been attacked by birds during the sunmier. 
As autumn came on, and the summer War])lers left on their 
southern migration, the last brood developed. The late- 
coming Warblers found them, and eagerly completed the task 
left unfinished by the summer birds. The pear trees had con- 
tinued to bear both foliage and fruit as usual, and showed 
no injury. They will probably receive a similar protection 
next year. 

Dr. Howard intimates in his bulletin that the causes 
which control the increase and decrease in numbers of this 
insect are not fully understood. Here is one agency of 
control that we can understand. It would be interesting 
to know to what extent this insect is distributed in ]\fassa- 
chusetts, and how nmcli the l)irds are doing to control it. 
These insects are so tin}^ as to escape observation, and this 
episode would have passed unrecorded, like so many others 
of its kind, had I remained away from home a few days 



The common birds that live and feed in woodland or 
orchard are usually of the greatest service there. Those few 
that nest in orchard or woodland, but seek most of their food 
elsewhere, while occasionally of much service in protecting the 
trees, are ordinarily of more value in the field or garden, and 
will be considered later among the birds of those localities. 
Those common species that may be found in Massachusetts 
throughout the year, and therefore are known as residents, 
are most useful to man ; but those that remain here only in 
summer or winter have considerable economic value. Such 
familiar birds will be briefly described and also figured in 
this chapter and those folloAving. Those species that merely 
pass through the State in migration will receive but brief 
mention, or none, except such as are known to be conspicu- 
ously useful while here. The Shrikes, Hawks, Owls, Crows, 
and Jays will be treated separately among the enemies of bu-ds. 


The Thrush family is considered the highest group among 
birds, and is ranked accordingly, although the Crows, Jays, 
and Titmice exhibit in certain ways a hia^her degree of 

The Thrushes of the genus Hijlocidda are mainly wood- 
land birds, ahhough some members of the family are com- 
monly seen feeding in gardens and fields. 

Professor Forbes's studies of the food of the American 
genera of this family in Illinois (including also the Catbird 
and Brown Thrasher) show that sixty-one per cent, of their 
food consists of insects, one per cent, of myriapods (com- 
monly called thousand legs), and thirty-two per cent, of 
fruit. Thirty parts of the food consist of injurious insects, 
and only seven of beneficial species. His examinations were 


made on adult birds ; and, were the food of the nestlings 
considered, the percentage of injurious insects eaten would 
probably be higher. A large proportion of the fruit eaten 
by these birds in Massachusetts consists of wild berries, 
particularly such as are unfit for human consumption. The 
family, therefore, as a whole is eminently beneficial. 

The Ro])in and Bluebird are not tyi)ical woodland birds, 
although the Robin both breeds and feeds in the woods to a 
considerable extent. Both birds nest in the orchard, but feed 
generally in gardens and fields. For this reason they will 
be considered farther on, among the birds of the field and 
garden. The Hermit which breeds sparingly in the State 
and the Thrushes which breed locally will be omitted. 

Wilson's Thrush. Tawny Thrush. Veery. 
Hylocichla fuscescens. 

Length. — About seven and one-half inches. 

Adult. — Above, tawny brown ; no white eye I'ing ; below, mainly whitish ; throat 

and upper breast washed with huffy or yellowish brown, faintly marked 

with a few dark spots. 
Nest. — Usually on or quite near the ground, containing no mud or leaf mold, 

and composed of grass, dried leaves, grapevine bark, etc. 
Eggs. — Greenish-blue ; smaller than those of the Robin and lighter than the 

Season. — May to September. 

This gentle bird may be recognized by its light tawny 
upper parts and the faintness of the elongated spots on its 
light brown-washed breast. It is a sunnner resident through- 
out most of Massachusetts, but is generally confined to the 
vicinity of swampy woods or streams, and is not found 
ordinarily on the sunnnits of the highest elevations. It runs 
about much in the manner of the Robin, but rather more 
listlessly, and often with drooping wings. Alert, but not 
suspicious, it seems to be aware of its protective coloring, 
which makes difBcult the task of distinguishing it from the 
leafy ground of its favorite groves. Its fiight is rapid, and 
when much alarmed it vanishes swiftly among the vistas of 
the Avoods. Although it often alights on the lower branches 
of trees, it is seldom seen among tree tops, but keeps habit- 
ually near the ground, where it finds most of its food. The 
song of this Thrush, one of the sweetest sounds of the wood- 


land, is among the earliest notes of the morning, and is often 

heard during the daj^ and in the dusk of evening. It consists 

of several ringing phrases or tri})lets, which its name Veery 

describes fairly well. It is not so full-toned as the songs of 

other Thrushes, but has an attenuated sound. Robert Ridg- 

way expresses the quality of the phrases by 

the syllables " taweeVaJi, taweel\ 

ah, tivil-ah.'' The last two phra- 

lower in tone than the first, an( 

with a vibrating chord which su 

gests the vanishing of the note 

into ethereal space. The 

melody often has a muffled 

sound when heard near by, 

but at a distance it seems 

to ring out clear. To be 

fully appreciated, this song pig. 46.-wiison'8 Tiaush, two.thirds 

must be heard when one is natural size. 

alone in the deep woods, among the falling shades of the 

coming night. It breathes the spirit of the d3'ing day. 

Sometimes at evening these Thrush songs reply to one 

another like echoes in the moonlight. 

The bird sings soon after its arrival in May, and usually 
ceases when the molting period begins. It sings little dur- 
ing a long drought, Imt becomes vocal after a rain. The 
ordinary note of the Veery is a sort of wliee-oo, half chirp, 
half whistle, which often has a peculiarly liquid sound. It 
has also a sharp chick, a prolonged, bleating aaah, and other 
occasional cries. 

The Veery feeds very largely on insects. Those which 
frequent the ground and the lower parts of trees are com- 
monly sought. Ants, ground beetles, curculios, and grass- 
hoppers are favorites. It goes to the fields sometimes at 
early morning, probably in search of beetles, cutworms, and 
earthworms. It has been seen, now and then, to eat the 
hairy caterpillars of the gipsy moth. It feeds considerably 
in the trees, and so takes many caterpillars ; but is not usu- 
ally seen much in gardens or orchards, except such as are 
situated near woods. In summer and fall it eats wild fruit, 



but seldom troubles cultivated varieties. Taken all in all, it 
is a harmless and most useful species. 

Wood Thrush. Song Thrush. Wood Robin. 

IhjlocicJiln mustcli)ia . 

LeiHjth. — About eight inches. 

Adult. — Above, mostly cinnamon-brown, reddest on liead ; eye ring wliite ; below, 

mainly white, with large, rounded, dark-brown spots on breast and sides. 
Nest. — On shrub sapling or low l)ranch, six to ten feet up ; much like that of the 

Rohm, but usually comj)osed of more woodsy material ; the mud is often 

replaced by leaf mold. 
Eggs. — Usually four ; greenish-blue ; resembling those of the Robiii, but smaller. 
Season. — May to September. 

The Wood Thrush is, as its name indicates, primarily a 
bird of the woods, preferring the tall timber in some shady 
dell, where pure Hoods from the never-failing springs of 
the hills have gathered into a water course. 
Here, where the rushing stream dallies on 
among moss-grown rocks, where 
kunk cabbage grows, where rank 
lis and lush mosses hide the oozy 
iround, and where great swamp 
maples stand cool and tall, 
the Wood Thrush loves to 
dwell. Its apparent na- 
tive modesty and retir- 
ing disposition, its love 
for shade and solitude, 
seem to be prominent 
characteristics of this 
sylvan recluse. Still, of 
recent years the bird is 
often found about the haunts of men, particularh' in places 
where it is protected, and where large and clustering shade 
trees afibrd it cool retreats. Its carriage as it hops or runs 
upon the ground is somewhat like that of a Robin. Rather 
sedentary in habit, it seems to be confined during the breed- 
ing season to a limited area around its home, where its song 
may be heard more or less at all hours, but mainly during the 
cooler portions of the day, throughout the sunmier months. 


47. — Wood Thrush, two-tliirds natural 


The song of the AVood Thrush is one of the finest specimens 
of bird music tliat America can produce. Among all the 
bird songs that I have ever heard, it is second only in quality 
to that of the Hermit Thrush. It is not projected upon the 
still air with the effort that characterizes the bold and vigor- 
ous lay of the Robin, or the loud and intermittent carol of 
the Thrasher. Its tones are solemn and serene. They seem 
to harmonize with the soiuids of the forest, the whispering 
breeze, the purling water, or the falling of rain drops in the 
summer woods. As with most other birds, there is a great 
difference in the excellence of individual performers, and, 
while some males of the species can produce such notes as 
few birds can rival, this cannot truly be said of all. At 
evening the bird usually mounts to the higher branches of 
the taller trees, often upon the edge of the forest, where 
nothing intervenes to confine or subdue his "heavenly music." 
There, sitting quite erect, he emits his wonderful notes in 
the most leisurely fashion, and apparently with little effort. 
-.rl olee, he sings, and rests ; then, unhurried, pours forth a 
series of intermittent strains which seem to express in music 
the sentiment of nature ; powerful, rich, metallic, with the 
vanishing vibratory tones of the bell, they seem like a vocal 
expression of the mystery of the universe, clothed in a 
melody so pure and ethereal that the soul still bound to its 
earthly tenement can neither imitate nor describe ito The 
song rises and falls, swells and dies away, until dark night 
has fallen. The alarm note of the bird is a shari)^;/^, 7;?'^, 
several times repeated ; this alarum often rises to a long roll. 
A soft cluck, also repeated, is sometimes heard. A mellow, 
rather liquid chirp is another common note. 

The food of the Wood Thrush consists largely of insects. 
A considerable portion of fruit is taken in summer and fall. 
Owing, perhaps, to the usually retiring habits of the bird, 
cultivated fruit is seldom eaten; but, as wild blackberries, 
strawberries, cherries, and gooseberries are taken, the culti- 
vated varieties of those fruits prol^ably are eaten to some 
extent where the birds breed in the vicinitv of dwellinofs. 
The amount taken, however, is not large in any case. In 
examining twenty-two specimens of this Thrush, taken from 

1()U USKFl'L niUDS. 

April to Si'ptt'iubcj', Proi'cssor Forlx's found that ,s('vent3'-one 
})er cent, of their food consisted of insects, twenty ])er cent, 
of fruit, and a small percentage of niollusks and spiders, 
together with a large portion of myriapods. Mollusks, par- 
ticularly clams, imisscls, and snails, arc eatcMi by many birds, 
Avhile tlu^ myriapod, or thousand legs, and the ground spiders 
are eaten by most ground-frcijuenting species. 

The Wood Thrush takes its food from ground, shrubbery, 
and trees in the woods, and even invades the {jrass land at 
times, where it is said, like the llobin, to take earthworms. It 
eats injurious grasshoppers and crickets, also ground bec^tlcs 
and their hirvic, click beetles, wireworms, and other Coleoj)- 
tei'a, l)oth tree-lecding and ground-feeding species. Tt gleans 
<uit\vornis from lawn iind fic^ld, and is jjarticularly fond (jf ants. 
It also does good service in killing some of the most destruc- 
tive c^aterpillar })ests, not neglecting the hairy species, like 
the forest tent caterpillar, and the larva' of the gipsy moth 
and the brown-tail moth, as well as most of the hairless s})e- 
ci(vs, such as both the fall and spring cankcrworms, of Avliich it 
is fond. It also destroys the rose beetle, as Professor Forbes 
found the stomach of one specimen crannned with them. 

This species a})pears to be quite as valuable as the Robin 
in its insectivorous habits ; and, as it eats far less fruit than 
the Robin, it must be of great sc^rvice to man whenever it 
can be induced to nest about his dwellings. Were cats, 
birds'-egging boys, and bird-killing Italians suppressed, this 
bird might become as domestic as the Robin, if not as com- 
mon. The prospect of the transnnitation of the substance 
of noxious cater[)i liars, grubs, and beetles into the glorious 
music of the Song Thrush, should stinmlate us to learn how 
to attract it to our homes and domesticate it there for all 


These pigmy birds are probably among the most useful 
species in woodlands. They are extremely small, ranking 
next in size to Hummingbirds, and therefore feed to a con- 
siderable extent on minute forest insects so small as to escape 
most other birds. They are peculiarly titled to car(> for the 
trees, for they are able not only to creep about the trunks 


and limbs, like the Cree[)crs and Titniieo, ))ut they have all 
the .skill of the Warblers in searchin<^ the foliage, and they 
are also sueh excellent flycatchers that it is diflicult for the 
smallest and swiftest insects to escape them. The Kuby- 
crowncd Kinglet is a mere migrant through the State in fall 
and spring, but the (iolden-crowned Kinglet may be found 
in our woods, orchards, or shade trees not only in fall and 
in spi'ing but during the winter, and it bi'eeds in northern 
AVorcester County and in Berkshire County. 

Golden-crowned Kinglet. 

Itcijiilns .stilrapa. 

Lenr/th. — Al)out four inches. 

AdiUt Male. — Above;, gniy and ()live-f;rc(Mi mainly, with ycUowisli-olivc sliow- 
ing (lecidecUy on wings and tail ; a bright, glossy orange crown spot, edged 
with yellow, fronted and bordered on the sides by a black streak, which also 
is bordered by a whitish streak, above the eye; below, dull grayisli-white. 

Adult Female. — Like male, but lai'king tlie orange center of the crown patch, 
which is replaced by yellow. 

Next. — A ball of moss, feathers, etc., in an evergreen tree. 

Efji/N. — Numerous, white, thickly but faintly speckled with buffy spots. 

Season. — I'robably resident in some localities, but usually .seen between Sep- 
tember and April. 

The fiolden-crowned Kinglet probably do(!s not breed in 
Massachusetts except whei-e the Canadian flora is found on 
some of the higher lands of the central and western sections. 
Its note, as conmionly heard, is a weak 
chirp or a fine /see, fse(% fsf^(\ Its .song 
I cannot attempt to describe. 

Unfortunat(dy, no careful study of 
its food habits has ever been made, 
but it is said to be almost entirely 
insectivorous. It is believed to feed 
largely on bark ])e(!tles, scale insects, 
and the eggs of injurious moths and plant lice. 

Kinglets are [)articulai'Iy serviceable in woodlands, espe- 
cially among the coniferous trees in which they dwell. At 
Wareham, on Dec. 25, 11)05, I watched the Ciold-crest hunt- 
ing its insect food amid the pines. The birds were flutter- 
u\<i: about amonc: the trees. Each one would hover for a 
moment before a tuft of ])ine "needles," and then either 
alight upon it and feed, oi' i)ass on to another. I examined 

Fig. 48. — Golden-crowned 
Kinjjflct, natunil size. 


the " needles " after the Kinglets had left thcni, and could find 
nothing on them ; but when a bird was disturbed before it liad 
finished feeding, the spraj from which it had l)een driven was 
invariablj^ found to be infested with numerous black specks, 
the eggs of plant lice. Evidently the l)irds were cleaning 
each s})ray thoroughly, as far as they went. 

Since the above was written several of these infested sprays 
have been sent to Prof. F. E. L. Beal of the Biological 
Survey, who submitted them to Mr. Pergande of the Bureau 
of Entomology, who says that they are the eggs of a plant 
louse of the genus Z/ach)ni.-<, and in all probability Laclinus 
sdrJji, the white })ine louse. The pines are considerably 
infested, and several pairs of Kinglets have been seen feed- 
ing upon the eggs. 

Again since the above was written I have had occasion to 
observe the work of Kinglets in our home grove of white 
pine. For the past two years certain })lant lice or bark lice 
that infest these trees have l^een increasing so ra})idly in 
the grove as to menace the trees; but on Dec. 29, 1905, 
seven Kinglets were seen feeding there. As it was unusual 
to see so many there, they were carefully watched. They 
were not working upon the foliage, as in the case mentioned 
above, but mainly on the trunks and larger branches. They 
were very unsusi)icious, and it was easy to see that they 
were feeding upon the eggs of the aphids. Some of these 
eggs were sent to Dr. L. O. HoAvard, who gave it as his 
opinion that they belonged to some species of LacJmus. 
These eggs were deposited in masses on the bark of the pines 
from a point near the ground up to a height of thirty -fi\e feet. 
The trees nuist have l)een infested with countless thousands 
of these eggs, for the band of Kinglets remained there until 
March 25, almost three months later, apparently feeding most 
of the time on these eggs. Wlien they had cleared the 
branches the little birds fluttered about the trunks, hanoino- 
poised on busy wing, like Ilunnningbirds before a flower, 
meanwhile rapidly pecking the clinging eggs from the l)ark. 
In those three months they nnist have suppressed hosts of 
little tree pests, for I have never seen birds more industrious 
and assiduous in their attentions to the trees. One mio:ht 


expect such work of Creepers or of Woodpeckers ; Imt the 
Kinglets seemed to have departed from their usual habits of 
gleaning- among limbs and foliage, to take the place of the 
missing Creepers, not one of which was seen in the grove 
last winter. 


This useful family is well represented here in woodland and 
orchard by three common species, one Titmouse and two Nut- 
hatches. The Hudsonian Titmouse is too rare to be of any 
economic importance. The common Titmouse or Chickadee 
is a well-known species that visits every village and farm. 
The Nuthatches may be known by their short tails and their 
habit of climbing about over the trunks and limbs of trees, 
somewhat after the manner of Woodpeckers, except that they 
do not use the tail as a supjjort, as the Woodpeckers and 
Creepers do, and that they often move about head downwards, 
or suspend themselves in this manner, which Woodpeckers 
seldom do. The name Nuthatch probably originated from 
nuthack or nuthacker. It was first applied to the European 
species because of its ha])it of cracking nuts or acorns, — 
presumably for the kernel ; but the American species seem 
to open nuts or acorns mainly for the insects that feed within. 
In winter, however, these birds will eat the kernels of broken 
nuts that are often put out for them by humane people. 
They can scarcely l)e called song birds, but sometimes the 
males twitter softly, as if attem})ting to whisper a song. 

Chickadee. Black-capped Titmouse. 

Far US atricapillus. 

Length. — About five and one-quarter inches. 

Adult. — Top of head, nape, and throat hlafk ; sides of liead and neck white; 

backasiiy; hi'east white ; wing feathers and tail featliers margined with 

whitish ; helly and sides waslied with creamy huff. 
Nest. — Sometimes built in a natural hollow of some tree in the woods c)r 

orchard ; often placed in a cavity hollowed out V)y the birds themselves in 

a decayed birch or pine stump, and composed of moss, feathers, and other 

warm materials. 
Egg.t. — Usually six or seven, but sometimes even ten ; white, and finely spotted 

with reddish-brown or ai)aler shade. 
Season. — Resident . 

The Chickadee remains in Massachusetts throughout the 
3'ear, but is usually more commonly seen in Avinter than in 



summer. It nests in April or Ma}^ and sometimes rears 
two broods in a season. Tlie ordinary cheer}- chattering 
call, from Avhich the bird derives its name, is often varied in 
the milder weather of winter and toward spring b}^ its so- 
called "^ pho'be " note, a 
nmsical, whistling call, 
which by the children 
is sometimes translated 
Spring's come." Xow 
and then some peculiarly 
gifted male essays a junil)le 
slightly musical notes, which 
seem to be an attempt to express 
Fig. 49.- CTiickadee, one-half ^\^^^ unconqucrable cheerfulness of 

uatural size. . /-i • i i 

its nature ; but the Chickadee's at- 
tempts at song never give verj^ brilliant results. Neverthe- 
less, the little bird is so happy, conipanional)le, and confiding 
that in New England it is one of the most beloved of the 
feathered race. AVhile, for a bird, it exhibits remarkable 
intelligence in many ways, it seems to confide in man to an 
unusual degree. It is an easy mark for the small boy with 
his air gun, and num))ers of these birds fall victims to their 
misplaced confidence in human nature. 

Chickadees sometimes go to the camps of woodchoppers, 
in hard winters, and learn to take food from the hand. One 
day while I was sitting on the ground in the woods a Chick- 
adee aliohted on a branch about two feet away and looked 
up in my face ; and they have often hovered within a few 
inches of my head, as if about to alight there. Occasionally 
one may be readily taught to feed from the hand. ]\Iinot 
says that they are so merry, genial, and sociable that their 
company is sought by other birds, such as Creepers, Nut- 
hatches, Kinglets, and Woodpeckers, whose habits are like 
their own. This has been observed by every ornithologist, 
])ut no one seems to have mentioned the fact that many birds 
other than those given al)ove seek the company of the Chick- 
adee for a different reason. Every fall the Warblers, on their 
way south, stop for a time in favora])le localities, and accom- 
pany the small roving bands of Chickadees. At this season 


one has but to follow the note of the Chickadee to find most 
of the smaller wood birds. Warblers are not plentiful in the 
woods at any time when there is a scarcity of their insect 
food ; but the industrious, prying, resident Chickadee knows 
the ground, and where to find food. His cheery notes call 
the other birds to him. The Chickadees extract^caterpillars 
from webs or from rolled-up leayes ; and the Warblers im- 
mediately follow and do likewise, though not with the skill 
of the Chickadee. Xow Chickadee finds some caterpillars 
too large for him to swallou' ; he catches one, places it on a 
branch, puts his foot upon it, and soon extracts from it with 
his beak all that he desires, leaving the remains where they 
fiill. The Warblers, less skillful, come along and exhaust 
themselves in vain attempts to swallow the laroc caterpillars 
whole. They eat what smaller ones they can, however, and 
leave the rest to the Chickadees and Vireos. I never yet 
have seen a Chickadee fail to manage any insect that it at- 
tacked, although occasionally it drops one into the under- 
brush. I once saw a Chickadee attempting to hold a monster 
caterpillar, which proved too strong for it^ The great worm 
writhed out of the confining grasp and fell to the ground, 
but the little bird followed, caught it, whipped it over\ twio-' 
and, swinging underneath, caught each end of the caterpillar 
with a foot, and so held it fast over the twig by superior 
weight, and proceeded, while hanging back downward, to dis- 
sect its prey. This is one of the^nost skillful acrol)atic feats 
that a bird can perform, — although I have seen 
a Chickadee drop over back^vard from a branch, 
in pursuit of an insect, catch it, and, turning 
an almost complete somersault in the air, strike 
right side up again on the leaning trunk of the 
tree. Indeed, the complete somersault is an e very-day ac- 
complishment of this gifted little fowl, and it of^en swino-.s 
completely round a branch, like a human acrobat takino- xle 
"giant swing." Although the Chickadee ordinarily i's no 
flycatcher, it can easily follow and catch in the air any insect 
that drops from its clutch. This bird stands very close to the 
first place among the useful birds of orchard and woodland, 
and therefore its food habits merit an extended notice here.' 


Much of the da^^light life of the Chickadee is spent in a 
busy, active pursuit of or search for insects and tlieir eggs. 
This is particularly the case in winter, when hibernating 
insects or their eggs must be most diligently sought, for 
then starvation always threatens. But the Chickadee is one 
of the few insectivorous birds that is keen-wdtted 
enough to find abundant food and safe shelter dur- 
ing the inclement northern winter. Nevertheless, 
its busy search for food is sometimes interrupted 
for so long a time during severe storms, when the 
trees are encased in ice, that it dies from cold and hunger. 
During a sleet storm Mr. C. E. Bailey saw two Chickadees 
creep under the loose clapboards of an old building for 
shelter. Their tails were so weighted down with ice that 
they could hardly fl}^, and had he not cared for them they 
might have perished. 

The Chickadee, notwithstanding its hardiness, requires 
protection from cold winds and storms at night. It finds 
such shelter either in some hollow tree or in some deserted 
bird nest. Late one cold and snowy afternoon Mr. Bailey 
detected a movement in a cavity under an old Crow's nest, 
and on climbing the tree he found two Chickadees nestling 
there. They remained there until he had climbed to the 
nest and put his hand on one, when they flew out, only to 
return before he had reached the ground. Minot speaks 
of a Chickadee that slept alone in winter in a 
Phce])e's nest under his veranda. It retires to its 
refuge rather early at night, and does not come 
out until the Tree Sparrow, Song Sparrow, and 
Junco are abroad. 

Although the digestive organs of the Chickadee are not 
those of a typical seed eater, it can digest and assimilate 
seeds at need, and often lives to a consideralble extent on 
the seeds of the birch. Oats are sometimes eaten in winter, 
but they are taken from waste grain found along the roads. 
The fruit of the connnon sumacs, ba^berr}', and poison 
sumac are also eaten ; pieces of lichens and bud scales some- 
times form a portion of the stomach contents ; but the food 
of this bird is preferably of an animal nature. In winter 


over half its food consists of insects, and in spring tlie per- 
centage of insect food often runs up to nearly one hundred. 
Among the pests which it eats are the tent caterpillars and 
their eggs ; both species of cankerworni moths, their larv», 
and eggs ; codling moths with their larvae ; the forest tent 
caterpillar ; and the larva, chrys- 
alis, and imago of the gipsy moth 
and brown-tail moth. The birch, 

willow, and apple plant lice or Fig. so. -Eggs of the tent cater. 

their eggs form a large part of '"""'" '"""'' ''''^° ^^' Chickadees. 
the Chickadee's food at times. The eggs are eaten mainly in 
autumn and winter, when fixed upon the twigs of trees. Bark 
beetles, so destructive to many species of fruit, shade, and 
forest trees, are a favorite food of the Chickadees. Destruc- 
tive flea beetles also are eaten by them. They frequently 
may be seen tearing open spiders' " nests," and eatino- the eo-Js 
or young. At first sight this appears to be a harmful habit, 
as spiders are supposed to be useful ; but no doubt much 
destruction of spiders is needed to keep them within normal 
bounds. Let any one go out into the fields some fogjry 
summer morning, and note the thousands of "cobwebs" on 
the grass, and he will see that the fields are "full of spiders." 
One night in Septeml^er, 1904, I slept on the ground upon 
a hill top in the Concord woods. Early in the night it rained 
a little, and toward morning a river fog rose. At daylio-ht 
the whole country appeared to be covered with spiders' webs. 
They hung from the trees, every branch was ornamented 
with them, each tuft of pine needles had its web, lono- 
streamers ran from tree to tree, festoons of spiders' webs 
hung across the wood roads. The shrubbery, the vines, the 
grass, all were enshrouded in dew-spangled webs. The 
work of a million spiders, ordinarily unnoticed, had become 
visible, as if by magic, in a night. It was plain that the 
woods as well as the fields were spider-ridden. At other 
times flights of migrating spiders are wafted on the air by 
their little balloons or parachutes, rising high and crossino- 
ponds and rivers. Such sights as these suggest what miglit 
occur were not spiders held in check by birds. When we 
consider the vast numbers of spiders and the possibilities 

l<>y USEFUL UlJi'DH. 

of their increase, Ave may be content that Chickadees and 
other birds eat them. 

Dr. Weed, who has studied the winter food of the Chick- 
adee, says that the destruction of the myriad eggs of plant 
lice, which infest fruit, shade, and forest trees, is probably 
the most important service which the Chickadee ren- 
ders during its winter residence. More than four 
hundred and fifty eggs are sometimes eaten by one 
bird in a single day. On the supposition that one 
hundred were eaten daily by each of a tlock of ten 
Chickadees, there would be destroyed one thousand a day, 
or one hundred thousand during the days of winter, by ten 
birds only, — a number which he believes to be far below 
the real condition, could we determine it precisely. Dr. 
Weed has found in Chickadees' stomachs a carabid beetle, 
a snout beetle, a leaf hoi)})er, and remains of what appeared 
to be the oyster-shell bark louse. This prying bird eats 
many of the most injurious insects that might escape the 
observation of larger birds. The cocoons of certain micro- 
lepidoptera that hibernate on the twigs of fruit trees are 
eagerly sought by these birds. The little case-bearers are 
greedily eaten by them. 

Thus we see that the Chickadee feeds on borers which live 
under the bark, on i)lant lice which suck the sap, on cater- 
l)i liars which destroy the leaves, and on the cod- 
ling moth which injures the fruit. It even digs 
into decaying twigs, and extracts wood borers. 
It has not the skill of the Woodpecker in going pig. 5i._cort. 
directly to the spot where the borer is located, "np: moth, par. 

. ■ . entoftlieapiile 

but it hnds the bun-ow, and pecks and chips worm, eaten by 
away the decayed wood along it until the larva ^''*^ Chickadee, 
is reached. Undoubtedly Chickadees kill many of the de- 
structive white pine; weevils (PlsscxJps sfrobi). While work- 
ing among j)ine trees I saw several Chickadees go to infested 
shoots, peck them, and apparently extract the larvfe. These 
dying shoots seemed to be the principal attraction which 
brought them to th(^ pines. 

The practical x-.ihw of the Chickadee to the orchardist may 
be inferred from the results of the experiment referred to on 




p. 150, in which an attempt was made to foster and pro- 
tect the birds in an old and neglected orchard, with a view 
to observing the eliect of such a policy upon the trees. 
The Chickadees were at- 
tracted to the orchard in 
winter, and were seen 
dcstro3'ing thousands of 
eggs of the fall canker- 
worm moth, and many 
egg-bearing females as 
well. A few of the birds 
were killed, and their stomachs examined for evidence cor- 
roborative of our observations.- The followino- notes are 
taken from the record of the experiment, as published in 
the annual report of the Massachusetts State Board of Agri- 
culture for 1895 : — 

Eggs of the fall eankerworm foiuul in stomachs of Chickadees : — 

Fig. 52. — Fall eankerworm moth: a, male 
moth; />, wingless female moth; c, «?, structural 

Bird Xo. 1, 
Bird No. 2, 



Bird No. 3, 
Bird No. 4, 




Making in all ten hundred and twenty-eight eggs found in the stomachs 
of four birds. Four birds killed later in the season had eaten the 
female imagoes of the spring eankerworm {Palcacrita vernala), as 
follows : — 

Bird No. 1, 
Bird No. 2, 



Bird No. 3, 


Bird No. 4, 



Making a total of one hundred and five. In Nos. 2, 3, and 4 of the last 
table there were a large numljer of eggs also. It is safe to say that 
there were one hundred and fifty eggs in each stomach, in addition to 
the female moths eaten. 

Fig. 53. —Apple twig, with eggs of the eankerworm moth. These eggs are eaten by 

the Chickadee. 

Mr. C. E. Bailey carefully counted the eggs in the ovai'ies of twenty 
of these female moths, with the following results : — 


Moth No. 


Moth No. 


Moth No. 


Moth No. 


Moth No. 


Moth No. 


Moth No. 


Moth No. 


Moth No. 


Moth No. 




Moth No. 



Moth No. 



Moth No. 



Moth No. 



Moth No. 



Moth No. 



Moth No. 



Motli No. 



Moth No. 



Moth No. 


. Ill 

. 160 

. 193 

. 131 

. 281 

. 242 

. 116 

. 281 

. 192 

. 217 

It will be seen from this table that the average number of 
eofsrs found in the ovaries of each moth was one hundred and 
eighty-live. Mr. Bailey was very positive, from his contin- 
uous field observations, that each Chickadee would devour on 
the average thirty female cankerworm moths per day from 
the 20th of March to the 15th of April, whenever these in- 
sects were plentiful. If the average number of eggs laid 
by each female is one hundred and eighty-five, one Chick- 
adee would thus destroy in one day five thousand, five hun- 
dred and fifty eggs ; and in the twenty-five days in which 
the cankerworm moths " run " or crawl up the trees, one 
hundred and thirty-eight thousand, seven hundred and fifty. 
It is probable that some of the moths were not captured 
until they had laid some of their eggs, but the Chickadees 
found and ate most of these eogs also. When we consider, 
further, that fort3^-one of these insects, distended as they 
were with eggs, were found packed within the stomach of 
one Chickadee, and that the digestion of the bird is so rapid 
that its stomach was probably filled many times daily, the 
estimate made by Mr. Bailey seems a very conservative one. 

As the frost left the ground on the first warm days of 
spring the wingless females of the spring cankerworm moth 
appeared in the orchard and 1)egan ascending the trees in 
great numbers. The Chickadees connncnced catch in o- these 
insects and eating them and their eggs. Mr. Bailey placed 
twenty-two of the females on one tree, and in a few minutes 
twenty of them were captured and eaten by Chickadees. As 
a practical result of the presence of the Chickadee in that 
orchard during the winter, there were so few eggs of the 
cankerworm moths left in the spring that, as heretofore 


stated, the summer birds were able to destroy the worms 
resulting from them. 

In early spring Chickadees feed much upon the ground in 
the woods. At such times I have seen them opening soft- 
ened acorns, that have lain all winter beneath the snow, and 
extractino- oi-ubs from them. 

The Chickadee is not known to have any harmful habits. 
Wilson says that it has been known to attack and injure its 
own kind, but he gives no positive evidence of this, and I 
can find no record of this habit elsewhere. Their fondness 
for animal food leads them sometimes to eat the bodies of 
other birds that have been stuck on thorns by the Butcher 
Bird, or to feed from the carcass of any fox or other animal 
left hanging in the woods by trappers. This habit probably 
accounts for the fact that feathers or hair are sometimes found 
in their stomachs. 

One mild day in the winter of 1903-04 Mr. Mosher saw 
two Chickadees catching a few bees that had come out of a 
hive and were l^ecoming benumbed by the cold. This was 
a particularly hard winter, during which mau}^ birds died of 
starvation and exposure, and the birds were doing no harm, 
as the bees, once away from the hive, would never have been 
able to return to its shelter. The Chickadee is not known 
to injure grain or cultivated fruit. Occasionally it pecks a 
frozen apple left hanging on the tree in winter, but I can 
find no record of its having injured fruit at any other time. 
It would be hard to find a bird more harmless or more useful 
than this species. 

White-breasted Nuthatch. 

Silta carnlinensis. 

Length. — About six inches. 

Adult. — Upper parts a rather light bluish-gray ; crown, nape of neck, and upper 
back black ; wings and tail marked somewhat with black and white : lower 
parts and sides of head mainly white. — In an old post or an excavation in a tree trimk, which is sometimes hol- 
lowed out by the birds. 

Eggs. — Much like those of the Chickadee, but larger. 

Season. — Resident. 

Most writers regard this common and familiar species as 
a bird of the forest ; but in eastern ^Massachusetts it has 



Fig. 54. — Wliite-brensted Nuthatch, two-thirds 
natural size. 

become a frequenter of orchard and shade trees, and is com- 
monly seen along village streets in fall, winter, spring, and 
sometimes even in midsummer, although comparatively few 

breed in the State. In 
the fall it may be seen 
here and there in the 
woods or orchards, often 
in company with Chick- 
adees and other tree 
gleaners. In winter 
this species is almost 
always engaged during 
daylight in a diligent 
search over the trunks and larger limbs of trees, particularly 
on the rough bark of the larger trunks, where it finds a 
great part of its insect food. In one instance, where a 
workman had pared off most of the outer bark from a large 
oak, two of these Nuthatches were seen busily engaged for 
two days in searching and delving among the pile of bark 
chips left on the ground. 

This Nuthatch is the particular guardian of the deciduous 
trees, preferring the oak, chestnut, elm, and other hard- wood 
trees to the pine. It also frequents old orchards, where the 
rough bark aftbrds concealment for man}^ injurious insects, 
and offers a good foothold. It is a cheerful bird, and often 
manifests much curiosit}^ It will sometimes come quite 
near any one who attracts its attention, and, hanging head 
downward on trunk or limb, utter its nasal quank, quanh, 
— a peculiar, weird sound, somewhat like the quack of a 
duck, but higher keyed and with less volume, having rather 
a musical twang. 

No other native birds are so often seen upside down as are 
the Nuthatches. Audubon and Wilson both say that these 
birds sleep in this position. In winter the White-breast 
passes the night in some cleft or hollow in a tree trunk. 
Dr. G. Y. Harvey of California says that one evening he 
saw twenty-nine White-breasted Nuthatches come singly to 
an old, dead, yellow pine, alight upon a knot, and vanish into 
a large crack in the trunk. They came at (][uite regular in- 



tervals, one after another, and evidently used the ca\ity as 
a lodging place, for that night at least. ^ 

Even the Woodpeckers, su})plied as they are with a re- 
versed toe and a stiff, su})porting tail, cannot compete with 
the Nuthatches in descending head first. The Woodpecker 
when going down the trunk finds itself in the same pre- 
dicament as the bear, — its climbing tools work only one 
wa^'. It is dependent on its stiff tail for support, and so 
must needs hop down backwards. The Creeper is still more 
hide-bound in its habits, and its motto seems to be "Excel- 
sior." It begins at the foot of its ladder and climbs ever 
upward. But the climbing ability of the Nuthatch is unlim- 
ited. It circles round the branches, or moves up, down, 
and around the trunks, apparently o])livious to the law of 
gravitation. Its readiness in descending topsy-turvy is due 
in })art to the fact that, as the 

quills of its tail are not stiff 
enough to afford support, it 
is obliged to depend upon its 
legs and feet. As it has on 
each foot three toes in front 
and only one Ijehind, it re- 
verses the position of one 
foot in going head downward, 
throwing it out sidewise and 
backward, so that the three 
long claws on the three front 
toes grip the bark and keep 
the bird from falling forward. 
The other foot is thrown forward, and thus with feet far 
apart the " little gymnast has a wide base beneath him." In 
the third volume of Reed's American Ornithology Rev. Lean- 
der S. Keyser describes and illustrates this manner of pro- 
gression. The Nuthatch not onlv straddles in going down 
the tree, but spreads its legs Avidcl}' in going round the trunk, 
as will be seen by the accompan3'ing cut, sketched from life 
in 1895. Mr. William Brewster has photographed the Red- 
breasted Nuthatch in similar positions, but bird artists gen- 

^ Reed's American Ornithology, Vol. 2, 1902, p. 171. 

Fig. 55. — >fiitliatches. 


erally seem to have overlooked this habit. The slightly 
upturned bill of the Nuthatch, and its hal)it of hanging up- 
side down, give it an advantage when in the act of prying 
off scales of bark under Avliich many noxious insects are 

The food of this l)ird consists very largely of insects, al- 
though it is capal)le of subsisting on seeds, for it has a strong 
muscular gizzard, and consumes much sand or gravel for 
grinding its food. In winter, when it is difficult to lind suffi- 
cient insect food, the Nuthatch feeds in part on such seeds as 
it can pick up. Oats and corn are then eaten wherever they 
can be found. 

Prof. E. Dwight Sanderson, who examined thirtA-four 
stomachs of this species taken in ^Michigan, found many 
seeds, among them ragweed and wild sunflowers. The birds 
had eaten seeds in winter to the amount of sixty-seven and 
four-tenths per cent, of the stomach contents, wdiile the re- 
mainder consisted of gravel and insects ; but in early spring 
only thirteen and five-tenths per cent, of the food was of a 
vegetable nature, while seventy-nine and five-tenths per cent, 
consisted of insects. He found Piesma cineria the most 
common noxious insect in these stomachs. This insect, as he 
remarks, " never does any considerable injur3^" Its frequent 
presence in the stomach of the Nuthatch may possibly explain 
why it is not more injurious. Although seven orders of 
insects were represented in these stomachs. Professor Sander- 
son regards the birds as neutral, for no first-class pests were 
recognized, and many beneficial and neutral insects were 
found ; but we have seen that the destruction of parasitic 
or predaceous insects by birds is not necessarily or alwajs 
an injurious habit ; in Massachusetts several pests are eaten 
by the Nuthatch, and we have not yet recognized in their 
stomachs any large proportion of l^eneficial insects. This 
suggests the possibility that the conditions in Michigan, when 
the examinations were made by Professor Sanderson, were 
unusual. He notes that he was unable to obtain a specimen 
from any orchard infested with insect pests. ^ 

' The Economic Value of the White-bellierl Nuthatch and the Black-capped 
Chickadee, by E. Dwight Sanderson. The Auk. Vol. XV., 1898, pp. 145-150. 


Professor King in Wisconsin found beetles, including 
snap beetles and boring beetles, in the stomachs of fourteen 
birds of the species. In ^lassachusetts it feeds largely on 
beetles, taking many that bore in the bark or wood. It also 
feeds on the eggs of insects, and on hibernating larvae and 
ants , Scale insects are taken 
in Avinter. The oyster-shell 
bark scale louse {^LejJidosa- 
])Jies idmi), injurious to the 
apple, pear, currant, and 
other useful plants and trees, 
is eaten greedil3^ The pro- 
portion of insect food in- 
creases as spring advances, 
and the young are fed largely 
if not entirely on insects. 
On Nov. 20, 1897, Mr. Kirk- 
land examined the stomach 
of one of these birds, which contained one thousand, six 
hundred and twenty-nine eggs of the fall cankerworm moth. 
As there were no moth remains, it was evident that the bird 
had gathered these eggs from the bark. 

One day Mr. Bailey watched a pair of these Nuthatches 
in Brookline. The birds went regularly from tree to tree, 
searching beneath the burlap bands for gipsy caterpillars, 
which for several hours they carried continually and fed to 
their full-fledged young. The young ])irds also found and 
killed a few. The preference shown by these particular birds 
for the hairy gipsy caterpillars at this place seems remark- 
able, as there were comparatively few of these larvas to be 
found there at the time. 

This Nuthatch has been seen to eat cankerworms, forest 
caterpillars, and plant lice, and there is no doubt that ordi- 
naril}' it is a valuable species while here. 

Fig. 56. 


-Wood-boring beetle, much en- 
Xuthatches eat such beetles. 



Red-breasted Nuthatch. Canada Nuthatch. 
Sitta canadensis. 

Length. — Four and one-half to nearly five inches. 

Adult Male. — Above, deep, bright bluish-gray; chin and throat whitish; other 

lower parts rusty or deep buff ; tail feathers marked with black and white ; 

a white stripe above the eye, a broad black stripe through the eye, and a 

black crown. 
Adult Female. — Similar, but duller ; the eye stripe dusky, and the crown lighter 

than that of the male. 
Nest and Fcjgs. — Much like those of the Chickadee. 
Season. — Resident, but local in the breeding season. 

This daint}^ little bird is considered rare in Massachusetts 
in the breeding season. While a few nest in suitable local- 
ities, the great majority retire to the northern wilderness 

in sunnner. From Octo- 
ber to April, however, it is 
quite common in this State 
during some seasons. It per- 
forms for the pines a similar 
service to that rendered by its 
larger relative among the decid- 
uous trees. It is almost constantly 
found in pine woods, and seems par- 
ticularly fond of the pitch pine (Pi'nus 

The common notes of the bird are 
not unlike those of the White-breasted Nuthatch, but higher, 
sharper, and (juicker. It has also a musical varied twitter, 
not mentioned in books, so far as I know, which can be heard 
but a few feet away. 

It runs about much in the manner of the White-breasted 
Nuthatch, l)ut is perhaps oftener seen beneath a limb. It 
sometimes feeds nearer the ends of the branches in Avinter, 
perhaps because it more commonlj^ extracts the seeds from 
pine cones. It picks up corn wherever it can be found in 
winter, and I have watched it hiding the kernels behind 
scales of bark on the pitch pine, — a habit common to both 
Nuthatches and Titmice. A large majority of these birds 
go farther south than ^lassachusetts in winter, but many re- 
main Avherever they can find pine seed, suitable insect food, 

Fig. 57.— Red-breasted 
Nuthatch, one-half natural 


and safe shelter. They are seen more in woods and less 
about orchards than is the preceding species, and, though 
probably very useful in the pine woods, they are not of so 
much yalue in orchards, unless attracted there by artificial 


This family of bark -climbing specialists has but one rep- 
resentatiye in ^Massachusetts. The Creepers climb upward 
and fly downward. 

American Brown Creeper. 

Certhia familiaris americann. 

Length. — About five and one-third inclies. 

Adult. — Sejiia-brown above, varying in intensity, finely marked with wliitish; 

luider parts white. 
Xest. — Usually built behind some loose fiake of bark or in a cleft m a tree triuik. 
Eggs. — Grayisli-white, nearly oval, and sparingly sprinkled witli brown spots, 

chiefiy at larger end. 
Season. — Resident, but local in summer. 

This is a modest, quiet, and unobtrusive species. Its 
curved bill and long, rigid tail distinguish it from all other 
birds. It is quite connnon in Massachusetts in fall and 
spring, less so in winter, and rather rare in sum- 
mer. Most individuals of this species that 
go farther north to breed retire in spri 
dark, cool cedar swamps, where they nest. 

The usual note of this bird is a thin 
screep, suggesting that of the Golden- 
crowned Kinglet, often repeated twice 
or more. It has also a fine c/?//j, and 
in summer a sweet, wild, indescribable 
song. The Creeper is pre-eminently 
a bird of the forest. Everywhere in 
great tracts of woods it may l)e found 
laboring day after day to surmount one 
giant trunk after another, onh' to fly 

down to the foot of still another, that it may climb aoain. 
In the tall, dark forests of fir, pine, and cedar on the Pacific 
slope of the Cascade Mountains the Creeper's chirp is one 
of the few characteristic bird notes that come down to the 

Fig. 58. — Bro-mi Creeper, 
natural size. 


wanderer from the dizzy heights of those towering trunks. 
In the pine woods of New England or Canada the Creeper 
ever goes its ceaseless rounds. It is a guardian of the 
tree trunk. It is not very often seen among the branches, 
although it sometimes feeds on the seed of the pine. 

The Creeper feeds very largely on insects, which it finds 
on the bark or extracts from the cracks and crevices with its 
long, sharp bill. I have often tried to determine by obser- 
vation the food of this bird, but can only say that it seems 
to find boring grubs and the pupa^ and eggs of insects. 
In this quest it examines a large number of trees daily. Mr. 
Bailey spent an hour watching one of these birds on March 30, 
1899. It inspected forty-three trees, beginning about Iavo 
feet from the ground, or at just about the height to which 
the ground-frequenting birds would reach. Thirty-six trees 
were white oak and seven white pine. It went up each tree 
al)Out twent}' feet, going round and round the trunk, then 
flew to another. It ai)peared to prefer the white oak to any 
other tree, probably because the oaks in that locality were 
infested with' numerous insects. It progressed in this man- 
ner about one hundred yards within the hour. At night a 
Creeper, probably the same bird, was still in the near-by 
woods. We have little accurate knowledge of the food of 
this bird. The only precise determination of its food that 
has come to my notice is recorded by Dr. Judd in Maryland. 
The stomach contained such beetles as HeJops acreus and 
Brvclnis hihisci; also sawflies, ants, spiders, and seeds of 
scrub pine. 


This group is represented here b}^ the Thrasher and Cat- 
bird. Both are l)irds of the thicket, and are found habitu- 
ally in sprout growth or young coppice, and in shrubbery 
on the borders of woods. They feed largely on or near the 
ground and in shrubbery, but often make excursions into 
woods, pastures, fields, or gardens. 


Brown Thrasher. Brown Thrush. Red Mavis. Planting Bird. 
Toxostoma rufuin. 

Length. — Nearly eleven and one-half inches. 

Adult. — Reddish-brown above, with white wing bars; below, mainly white; 

breast, belly, and sides of throat streaked or spotted with blackish. 
Nest. — Loosely built of twigs, etc., on the ground or in a brush pile or low bush. 
Eggs. — As large as the Robin's; white or greenish, thickly spotted with light 

Season. — April to October. 

This bird may be distinguished from the true Thrushes by 
its large size, long tail, and long, curved beak. It arrives in 
Massachusetts the latter part of April, and leaves for the south 
in October. Its rich, l)old, and varied song may be heard 
along the l)orders of woodland, in coppice growth, or from 
some tall tree about the farmj^ard or pasture. 

The song was first brought prominently to my attention 
when as a barefoot boy of ten I was dropping corn in the field 
at planting time. The Thrasher sat in a tree near the corn- 
field, its swelling throat pouring forth a flood of music on 
the warm May wind. Just over the wall in the adjoining 
field a dusty plowman stopped his team. " There, boy," he 
said, "that is the Planting Bird. Some folks call it the Red 
Mavis. Hear him sing, ' Drop it, drop it, drop it ; cover it 
up, cover it up, cover it up ; I'll pull it up, I'll pull it up.' " 
Both words and song made so strong an impression on my 
youthful mind that they have never been effaced from my 
memorv. Later we found that the Thrasher had kept his 
promise, and pulled up some of the corn that we had planted. 

This is the only really harmful habit of this bird, and this 
seems to be more local than general ; for, while it pulls a 
little corn on some farms, there is no complaint from it else- 
where. Thoreau reports a similar phrasing of the Thrasher's 
song, but omits every reference to the bird as a corn puller, 
giving the last part of the song as "Pull it up." He also 
mentions the common name Mavis, by which I think the bird is 
now known only among the older people. This name is prob- 
ably of European origin, and came down to us from the early 
settlers ; but the bird is still known among farmers in some 
sections of the State as the Plantino; Bird or Brown Thrush. 


UHEFUL Binns. 

Its alarm note is a loud smack or chick, very incisive, and 
frequently followed bv a mournful whistle. It also makes a 
hissing- or wheezing sound, which is often heard when it is 
defending its young. 

Pig. 59.— Hrown 'riinislior, one-halt' uatural size. 

The Brown Thrasher feeds largely on insects. As it 
usually retires during the breeding season to scrubl)y lands 
or sprout growth near woodland, it takes very little culti- 
vated fruit, and the .small amount of corn it consumes is 
usually more than made up for by the white grubs taken from 


Avoodland, cornfield, and garden. Dr. Judd gives a sum- 
mary of the results of an examination of the stomaclis of one 
liundred and twenty-one of this species ; thirty-six per cent, 
of the food was vegetable, and sixty-four per cent, was ani- 
mal, wliich was practically all insects, mostly taken in spring, 
when no fruit was ripe. Half the insects were beetles, 
mainly harmful species. The remaining animal food was 
chiefly grasshoppers, caterpillars, bugs, and spiders. 

The Brown Thrasher more than repays us for the cultivated 
fruit that it eats by the number of insect pests that it con- 
sumes earlier in the season. While it cats considerable wild 
fruit and some that is useful to man, it prol)abh' })ay8 for 
this by destroying many of the disgusting bugs that cat 
berries. As the Thrasher feeds much on the ground, it 
destroys many grasshoppers, crickets, Avhite grubs, and May 
beetles. Professor Forbes states that in Illinois nearly half 
the food of this bird consists of waste grain picked from 
the droppings on the roads. He also asserts that it eats 
cultivated fruit in less proportion than do other Thrushes. 
There, as here, June beetles form a considerable per cent, of 
its food, and it eats both snap beetles and curculios. The 
Thrasher eats caterpillars, but mainl}^ such species as are 
found on the ground. It picks up cutworms, cankcrworms, 
and some gipsy moth caterpillars, but is not usually fond of 
hairy caterpillars. On the whole, it is a bird that should be 
protected by the farmer. 


Galeoscoples carolinensis. 

Length. — About nine inches. 

Adult. — Botli upper and under parts dark gray; top of ]iead and tail blackish ; 

under tail coverts chestnut. 
Ne.^t. — Composed of sticks and twigs, bark and rootlets, placed in a busli or 

E{J[J'^- — Dark, glossy, greenish-blue. 
Season. — May to October. 

The Catl)ird is veiy common in this State. Its voluble 
manner, cat-like cry, nmsical song, halnts of mimicry, and 
bravery in defence of its young are all too well known 
to need description. As an imitator, it is second only to 
the Mockingbird. I have heard the cry of the Bob-white or 



Quail and some of the notes of the Wood Thrush, together 
with those of many other birds, given by the Catbird. • It 
may not be generally known that this bird, like many other 
species, often sings in a very low tone when it believes that 
danger is near. In October it sometimes repeats its spring- 

Fig. 60. — Catl)ird, one-half natural size. 

song so softly that it seems to come from far away when 
uttered within a few feet of the hearer. The bird's moods 
are many. It is in turn a merry jester, a fine musician, a 
mocking sprite, and a screaming termagant, but always an 
interesting study, and never prosaic or mediocre. 

Xo doubt the Catbird is useful, as it fills, in moist thickets, 
a place similar to that taken by its relative the Thrasher on 
the drier lands. Unfortunately, however, the poor bird has 
acquired a bad reputation. It is accused of sucking the eggs 
of other birds and destroying much fruit. The first charge 
must be dismissed as not proven, but the second is sustained 
by good evidence. Dr. Judd reports on the examination of 
two hundred and thirteen stomachs, from Florida to Kansas 
and ^Massachusetts. lie finds that three })er cent, of the food 
consists of carnivorous wasps and bees ; spiders are also 
eaten ; but the destruction of useful insects is more than 
made \x\^ for ])y the numl>t'r of weevils, plant-feeding bugs, 


May beetles, and other injurious species taken, Tlie de- 
struction of tlie ground beetles eaten by the Catbird is })rob- 
ably at the worst a necessary cAil. It eats many caterpillars, 
including cutworms, also grasshoppers and crickets. Ants 
and crane flies formed a large proportion of the insect food of 
some Catbirds dissected by Professor Forbes, who says, how- 
ever, that in midsummer the Catbird subsists mainly on fruit, 
and only takes such insects as come its vf'A,y. Young Cat- 
birds while in the nest are fed very largely on insect food. 
Dr. Weed examined the stomach contents of three nestling^ 
Catbirds in ]Michigan, and found that ninety -five per cent, 
of the food consisted of insects, two per cent, of spiders, 
and three per cent, of myriai)ods. Sixty-two per cent, of 
this food was composed of cutworms, eleven per cent, of 
ground beetles, four per cent, of grassho})pers, three per 
cent, of May flies and two per cent, of dragon flies. Dr. 
Judd also found that the nestlings were fed almost entirely 
on insects. All these statements go to prove the value of 
the Catbird on the farm. 

On the other hand, the adult Catbird often lives so largely 
on cultivated fruit in midsunnner that were its numbers 
greatly increased it might become an unbearable pest to the 
fruit grower. Its destructiveness to small fruits varies, how- 
ever, in difi'erent localities. Sometimes the Catbird will 
leave its favorite thickets and build its nest in the raspberry 
or blackberry bushes, or among the grapevines in the garden. 
A pair of these birds that occupied a nest in our garden at 
Worcester where they were surrounded hy fruit did no injury 
compared Avith that inflicted hy a pair of Catbirds that nested 
in the shrubl)ery near our garden at Wareham. There I 
found that the Catbirds came to the garden mainly for straw- 
berries. They chose the best fruit, and seemed to live on 
that alone during the strawberry season. The Catbirds ate 
more fruit than the Rol>iiis, although the latter were far more 
numerous, and, as is usually the case, were blamed at flrst 
for the loss of all the fruit. 

While the Catbird is often a })est to the fruit garden, eat- 
ing, as it does, most small fruits, it is so useful in case of 
insect outbreaks that it deserves protection. Five Catbirds 


dissected by Professor Aughey during a locust irruption had 
eaten one hundred and fifty-two locusts. When injurious 
caterpillars are numerous, the Catliird attacks them. Its 
name appears in the list of birds which feed on brown-tail 
and gipsy caterpillars, cankerworms, forest caterpillars, and 
tent caterpillars. It also feeds its young on the hairy cater- 
pillars of the gipsy moth and the brown-tail moth, and on 
manv of the imaijoes as well as those of native noctuids. 
I have frequently obserNed this habit. A Catbird used to 
come to my window early in the morning to get the cut- 
worm moths that had flown against the screen in the niofht. 
Mr. F. H. Mosher watched two pairs of Catbirds and their 
young in 1895, and found that the young were fed very 
largely on gipsy caterpillars. He says : — 

The Catbird when feeding is most busy in the morning until about 
8.4:0. From that time she comes occasionally until from 3 to 4 o'clock, 
when she is more active again. In the morning she would come and 
eat two or three herself, and then carry one to her young. She would 
be absent about five minutes. After she had made two or three trijjs 
she would not stop to eat any herself. In the afternoon, during her 
period of greatest activity, she would make trips about ever}- ten minutes. 
She seemed to prefer lar\;e to pupie, Ijut when hard pressed would take 
pvTpa3. The size of tlie larva^ seemed to make no difference to her, as 
she took the full-grown just as readily as the small. 

Mr. ^losher thought in 189.") that the Catbird was, next to 
the Cuckoos and Orioles, the most important enemy of the 
gipsy moth. These three species alone would be enough, 
if in suflicient numbers, to check this insect in the localities 
which they frequent. The Catbird forages mainly on the 
ground and in shrubbery, but seldom in trees. The (\ickoos 
feed mainly among the lower branches, while the Orioles go 
up even to the topmost twigs. 

From the evidence at hand we must conclude that, though 
the Catbird is sometimes a nuisance to the fruit orrower, it 
must be tolerated and even encouraged for the good it does. 
The problem before us is not how to destroy the birds, Imt 
how to keep both birds and fruit. 



Of the twenty-five species and two sub-species of War- 
blers tliat may be confidently looked for each spring in 
Massacliusetts, either as migrants or residents, only eight 
are generally distributed throughout the State in the breed- 
ing season, and two of these are rather local. Several other 
species breed here, but only locally or rarely. Only the 
more common familiar summer resident species, which are 
of great economic importance, will be mentioned here. The 
migrants are of great though lesser importance. Their 
abundance in migration is probaljly governed largely by 
the number of insects to be found upon the trees. When- 
ever large numbers of Warblers are seen here in migration, 
their presence may be taken as an indication of a plenti- 
ful supply of the arboreal insects on which chiefly they 
feed. The fact that Warblers live mostly on small insects 
does not lessen their usefulness, — it may even make them 
more valuable. AVarblers are undoubtedly responsible for 
the destruction of many of the young caterpillars of the 
great cecropia^ promethea^ and luna moths, which, while 
still too small to do any harm, are killed ofl' by birds. It 
should be noted also that many of the greatest pests are very 
small even at maturity. The onion fl}', the Hessian fly, the 
wheat midge, and many injurious Lepidoptera and Cole- 
optera are among the tiny insects that are eaten by small 
birds. Only the smaller birds can follow insects to the tips 
of the slenderest twigs ; therefore, the smaller the bird the 
greater its special usefulness. 

We have already seen that Warblers have a great capacity 
for destroying small insects. In migration they seem to 
possess most remarkable appetites. Rev. Leander S. Keyser 
watched a Hooded Warbler, and found that it caught on the 
average two insects a minute, or one hundred and twenty an 
hour. He estimates that at this rate the bird would kill at 
least nine hundred and sixty insects a day, assuming that it 
ijought them but eight hours. ^ 

^ Papers presented at the World's Congress on Ornithology, 1896, iip. 41, 42. 


Mr. Robert H. Coleman, in a letter to the Biological Sur- 
vey, stated, according to Dr. Judd, that he counted the 
number of insects eaten h}^ a Palm Warbler, and found that 
it varied from forty to sixty per minute. The bird, he 
said, spent at least four hours on his piazza, and in that time 
must have eaten about nine thousand, five hundred insects. 

I have seen Warl)lers eating from masses of small insects 
at such a rate that it was impossible for me to count the 
numl)er of insects eaten. When larger insects are taken, 
the time given to each increases. The bird will sometimes 
spend at least ten minutes in the attem})t to swallow a 
large caterpillar. It is difficult, therefore, to approximate the 
number of insects eaten by a Warbler in a daj^ except where 
it is feeding mainly on a particular species. 

In this family we find birds that assume the care of the 
trees from the ground to the topmost tAvig. Some walk 
daintily along the ground, searching among the shrubbery 
and fkllen leaves ; others cling close to the bark, and search 
its every crevice for those insignificant insects which collect- 
ively form the greatest pests of forest and orchard ; others 
mount into the tree, skip from branch to branch, and peer 
about among the leaves or search the opening buds of the 
lower ])ranches ; others habitually ascend to the tree tops ; 
while still others are in almost constant pursuit of the winged 
insects that dart about among the branches. We will first 
consider the connnon ground-fre(j[uenting species. 

Northern Yellow-throat. Maryland Yellow-throat. 
Oeothlypis trichas brachidaclijla. 
Length. — About five and one-quarter inches. 
Adult Male. — Upper parts olive-green ; forehead and mask black, bordered above 

by ashy-gray ; under parts mainly bright yellow. 
Adult Female. — Like the male, but without the black or ashy ; tinder parts paler. 
Nest. — On or near the ground, supported by grass stems, leafy plants, or shrubs ; 

deep, and composed mainly of leaves and grasses ; sometimes roofed, and 

not infrequently hair-lined. 
F.fifjs. — White, spotted with brown and lilac at the larger end. 
Season. — May to October. 

This Yellow-throat is a l)ird of the l)rookside and swampy 
thicket ; but it is not by any means confined to these locali- 
ties, for it is found in the fruit o^arden and orchard as well as 


in the woods. While it feeds somewhat in trees, its habit, 
like that of other Warblers of the genus, is to keep near the 
ground and in shrubbery ; hence it is often seen along bush}^ 
roadsides, particularly where the road crosses a swamp or 
stream. It usually keeps close to the underbrush, peering 
out from between leaves and stems, 
and occasionally taking short flights 
near the ground. 

It greets all comers with a shar[) 
chirp, or voices its alarm in a rat- 
tling, AVren-like chatter. In singing- 
it sometimes mounts to a high perch _,. _, ,, ., ,, ,, 

& ^ Fig. 61. — Noi'tlierii lellow- 

in a tree or rises in air, but ordinarily throat, twotiiirds natural 
delivers its song while pursuing its 

usual avocations among the shrubberv. The song is a 
series of phrases, with the accent on the first syllable, thus, 
sicJi'-a-iciggJe, sich'-a-wigciJe, sich'-a-wiggJe, or in some cases 
icitchei'i/, u'ifcheri/, witcker}/. It is much varied in length 
and expression, but usually may be known by the repeti- 
tion of the strongly accented syllable. Like many other 
Warblers, this bird has three or more variations to its strain, 
but with perhaps one exception they are all unmistakable. 

The Yellow-throat usually arrives at its chosen haunts in 
Massachusetts early in May. It often lays two sets of eggs, 
and two broods are sometimes reared. In the fall flights 
the l)irds may be seen from time to time as they stop on 
their journey southward. One day you will find scarcely 
one ; the next, the brooksides and river banks may be alive 
with them. This bird is undoubtedly among the most use- 
ful species which in summer frequent our shrubbery, wood- 
lands, orchards, roadsides, and bushy pastures. In pastures 
the Yellow-throat eats man}^ leaf hoppers, which are abun- 
dant among the grass and low-growing herbage that it fre- 
quents. Prof. Herbert Osborn has shown that on an acre of 
pasture land there frequently exist a million leaf hoppers, 
which consume, perhaps unnoticed, as much grass as a cow, 
if not more. The Yellow-throat, on account of its destruc- 
tion of leaf hoppers and grasshoppers, may be ranked among 
the useful birds of the fields. In orchards it often feeds very 


largely on cankerworms, going long distances from its nest 
to get these caterpillars to feed to its young. Since one of 
these birds was seen to eat fifty-two caterpillars of the gipsy 
moth in a few minutes, it seems probable that it may yet be 
ranked among the efficient enemies of this pest. Case bear- 
ers, leaf rollers, and many other destructive caterpillars are 
orreedily devoured, and it also catches and eats both butter- 
flies and moths in considerable numbers. 

Along the borders of woods it is very destructive to many 
beetles, flies, and especially to plant lice, of some species 
of which it is very fond. It often goes to grain fields, 
where, so Wilson says, it eats insects that infest them. 

Oven-bird. Golden-crowned Thrush. "Teacher Bird." 

Seiurus aurocainllus . 

Length. — Six to six and one-lialf inches. 

^f^y^Y^. — Olive-brown above; crown dull orange or yellowish-buif, bordered by 

black stripes; white below; breast and sides streaked with blackish. 
j^est_ — 0\\ the grovuid in woods, often on knoll or hillside; generally roofed, 

with entrance on lower side; usually made of sticks, rootlets, leaves, etc., 

and lined with hahs ; that from which the accompanying cut was made 

was built entirely of pine leaves or "needles." 
Eggi^. — Creamy white, spotted with brown and faint lilac. 
Season. — May to September. 

How well I still recall that panorama of the dim woods 
that passed before my eyes when as a child of eight years I 
first began to wander off" at daybreak to learn the secrets of 
nature. As I first stole through the shadows down the 
back of "Muddy Pond Hill," where the "cotton-tail rabbit" 
bounded away before me, where the " Partridge " burst into 
thunderous flight amid a whirl of scattered leaves, and 
dashed away through bending twigs and swaying branches, 
every sight and sound impressed itself vividly upon my 
youthful mind, but none made a more lasting impression 
than the song of the Oven-bird. To me the bird then 
seemed to say chirk', keuciiick', KERCHICK', repeating 
its single phrase an indefinite number of times, Avhile the 
silent woods, acting as a sounding board, rang and rever- 
berated ^vith the crescendo strain. Later, when 1 lingered 
in the woods at evening until the stars came out and the 


bats were flying (for my days were spent at school, and 
there was no time l)Lit morning and evening in which to 
really live), I heard a burst of melody far above the tree 
tops, and saw the little singer rising against the glow in the 
western sky, simulating the Skylark, and pouring forth its 

Pig. 62. — Oven-bird .and nest. 

melody, not to the orb of day l)ut to tlie slowly rising moon ; 
then, when the melody came nearer, as the exhausted singer 
fell from out the sky and shot swiftly downward, aligliting 
at my very feet, I saw in the dim light that the author of 
this soaring vesper song was my little connnon, cvery-day 
friend, the Oven-bird. Night after night I listened to its 
fliii'ht sons; above the wooded hills of Worcester, where it 
is one of the usual sounds of evening. Years afterward, 
John Burroughs, the dean of nature writers, described its 
evensong, and people seemed to marvel as if it were a new 


discovery. It seemed to me impossible that any one who 
ever went out into the woods at evening should have missed 
hearing this characteristic song. But so it is. Some one 
describes for the first time some common sight or sound of 
the woods and fields, — something well known to all who fre- 
quent them, something which it seems ought to l)e known 
to all the world, — and it is received with ac(?laim as a 
discovery. Mr. Burroughs has aptly given the Oven-bird 
the name of calling "Teacher, teacher," but here in Massa- 
chusetts it exhorts the teacher to teach somewhat as fol- 
lows : " Teacher, teacher, teacher, teacher, TEACHER, 
TEACHER, TEACH." The bird is already becoming known 
as the "Teacher Bird." Its common alarm notes are a clinch 
or a sharp chick. 

Its golden crown, its spotted breast, and its manner of 
walking upon the ground or along a limb, as well as its 
characteristic song, which is usually uttered when the singer 
is perched upon a horizontal limb in the woods, will all serve 
to identify the bird. The lift of the tail, which is charac- 
teristic of all birds of this genus, and which has given them 
the name of Wagtails, is more noticeable among the Water- 
Thrushes than with this species. The Oven-bird is more 
distinctively a ground Warbler than any other connnon 
species except the Water-Thrushes. It feeds very largely 
from the ground, walking about silently and deliberately, as 
if in no hurr^^ and picking up its food from among the fallen 
leaves ; but when alarmed it usually Hies to the trees, among 
the branches of which the males sing and woo their intended 
mates. When the female, having j^oung, is started from the 
nest, she drags herself along over the ground fluttering as if 
sorely wounded, in an eflfort to lead her disturber away from 
her home. Both parents are exceedingly aftectionate toward 
their young, and endeavor to protect them by every means 
in their power. 

When upon the ground it feeds like Thrushes and To- 
whees, finding grubs among the leaves, and picking up cat- 
erpillars or other insects that have dropped from the trees. 
In this way it finds many caterpillars of the gipsy moth in 
their hiding places among dead leaves or shrubbery. It 


often goes to orchards near the woods, and seeks canker- 
worms and other tree pests. Dr. Warren says that it eats 
earthworms. While mamly insectivorous, this bird can sub- 
sist partly on farinaceous food. It picks up many small 
seeds, and dwellers in the woods find it coming about the 
doors for crumbs. 

Black and White Warbler. Black and White Creeper, 

Mntoiilta vdi'id. 

Length. — About live and one-quarter inches. 

Adult Male. — Streaked generally except on belly with black and white; belly 

^^•hite ; fine streaks on sides of neck and lower back sometimes give a gray 

Adult Female. — Much the same, except duller, with colors more suffused ; under 

jiarts mainly white, with obscure streaks on sides. — On ground ; much like Oven-bird's ; similarly concealed, and often roofed, 

but smaller; it is sometimes built in a hollow tree. 
Eggs. — White, brown-spotted at large end. 
Season. — April to September. 

This common, well-known Warbler, which rarely builds 
its nest in trees, resorts to them for a greater part of its 
food. The bird is usually found in woodlands, ranging from 
low river valleys to the slopes of high 
hills. It usually nests on dry land in 
deciduous woods, where it may be seen 
throughout the season creeping about old 
stumps, shrubbery, and the trunks and 
limbs of trees. It follows out the limbs, -pig. 63.— Black and 
l)eering quickly here and there, over and ^^''^^^' warbier, two. 

, . "^ . thirds natural size. 

back, in its endless search for insects. 

Its usual notes are a thin sa^eej) or chirp, and a sharp 
cinch. The ordinary song is a repetition of such notes, not 
unmusical, and characteristic of the woods. Mr. HoU'man 
describes it as wee-see', wee-see', icee-see' ; but the Inrd has 
another lay, far more musical and varied than this, which is 
often heard earlj' in the season, when the first males come. 
This burst of melody is usually preceded by a few notes of 
its common song. It chatters also when it is excited or 
disturbed by some enemy. This bird largely takes the eco- 
nomic place in summer that is so well filled by the Brown 
Creeper in the winter woods, but it is not so much confined 


to the tree trunks. Like the Creeper, it searclies every 
cranny of tiie bark for insects ; it feeds on wood-boring 
insects, bark beetles, click beetles, curculios, and the eggs 
of insects. But it does much more than this, for when it 
comes to Massachusetts the buds are about to burst, and all 
through the spring and sunnner it searches over the limbs, 
twigs, buds, and leaves, destroying caterpillars, beetles, and 
buofs that are found on bark and foliage. Now and then it 
startles a resting moth from a tree trunk, or observes one 
flying below, and, darting down, catches it in air almost as 
skilfully as a Flycatcher. Its swiftness and dexterity in fly- 
catching seem to be derived largely from the impetus of its 
downward plunge, for, so far as I have observed, it never 
essays to follow insects that fl}^ by above it. 

The bird is very destructive at times to hairy caterpillars, 
eating large quantities of them ; and, as it also destroys the 
puptr and moths of these insects, it exerts considerable in- 
fluence toward checking the gipsy moth. This Warbler is 
(juite as valuable in the orchard as in the woodland, as it 
feeds on many orchard pests; but unfortunately it is not so 
commonly seen in orchards as in its favorite woods. Its 
food on those occasions when it descends to the ground is not 
very well known, but it often picks up cutworm moths that 
hide there, and Gentry sa3's that it eats earthworms. 

Chestnut-sided Warbler. 
Dendroica pensylvaiiica. 

Length. — About five and one-half inches. 

Adult Male. — Top of the head yellow; back yellow and ashy, black-streaked; 
ear patch and wing bars, large spots on tail feathers, and nnder parts, 
white ; a black patch extends from the lower mandible to and through the 
eye above, and below to a broad chestnut streak which runs down the side 
of the body. 

Adult Female. — Somewhat similar, but duller. 

Nest. — Usually m a low bush, lined with fine grasses. 

Eggs. — White, with purplish or reddish brown spots and blotches. 

Sea.wn. — May to Seiitember. 

This species is a summer resident throughout most of the 
State, usually a})pearing here the second week in ]\hxy. In 
spring it niav be seen gleaning insects in both woods and 
orchards and in all kinds of vegetation, from low shrubbery 


to tall trees ; but, unlike the other species of Warblers 
hereinbefore considered, it does not commonly go to the 
oTound for much of its food. Durino- the breeding season 
it is largely a liird of the shrubbery on the borders of wood- 
land, and, like the Yellow-throat, is common along bushy 
roadsides. There in warm 

Fig. 64.- 

-Chestiuit-siikMl Wnrlilor, 
natural size. 

Aveather it is often seen, with 
its tail elevated and its wings 
drooping, flitting occasionally 
from bush to bush, or catch- 
ing insects in air, after the 
manner of the Myrtle Warbler. 
Its conniion note is a sharp 
chirp, nuich like that of other 
Warblers ; but its spring song 
is loud, varied, and distinct, 
resembling most that of the Yellow AVarbler. Its usual 
summer song is a soft, prolonged, rather weak but pleasing 
warble. The nest building of this Warbler is an interesting 
part of its life history. Its nest, though often built in locali- 
ties frequented by the Yellow Warbler, is little like that of 
the latter except in shape. It is situated usually in a much 
lower shrub than is that of the Yellow Warbler, and is built 
more strongly and with more painstaking care. ]Mr. ]Mosher 
notes on May 17, 1899, that a })air of these birds had just 
completed a nest. They had been at work upon it for five 
days. The female first laid the foundation at the forking of 
three branches of an arrow-wood bush, about two and one- 
half feet from the ground. She laid a few straws and fibers 
of plants, then bound them to the three branches by means 
of tent caterpillars' web. Then she lirought a few straws 
at a time and placed them around the sides, shaping them 
by turning round and round. vShe bound them very firmly 
in place with the web, and thus fastened them to the three 
branches. AYhen the sides were all finished she put in the 
lining. This consisted of fine grasses and soft fibers. The 
nest Avhen completed was much less bulk}- than the Yellow 
Warbler's, but much firmer; the walls were not more than 
one-fourth as thick. 


The food of the Chestnut-sided Warbler is sucli that the 
bird must bo exceedinglj'^ useful in woodland and shrubbery, 
and in orchard and shade trees as well, whenever it frequents 
them. It is probable that at times it destroj^s considerable 
numbers of parasitic hymenojitera, as it is rather expert as a 
flycatcher ; but it is very destructive to many injurious beetles 
and caterpillars, being one of the most active consumers of 
leaf-eating insects. Small borers or bark beetles, plant bugs 
and plant lice, leaf hoppers, ants, and aphids are eaten. 

In seasons of great Avant it eats a few seeds. Audubon 
says that he once shot several birds in Pennsylvania during a 
cold spell and snowstorm in early spring, and that the only 
food in their stomachs was grass seeds and a few spiders, but 
the birds were emaciated and evident!}^ half starved. This 
AVarbler is almost entirely insectivorous, and for this reason, 
perhaps, as soon as its young are well al)le to travel both 
young and old begin their southern journey. In September 
a few birds, probably from farther north, may be seen in 
autumnal dress, gleaning insects from the tree tops, and no 
more are seen until the following spring. 

Yellow Warbler. Blue-eyed Yellow Warbler. Yellow Bird. Summer 
Yellow Bird. "Wild Canary." 

Dciidroiea a-stira. 
Length. — About live inches. 
Adult Male. — Yellow; back a rich yellow-olive, occasionally streaked with 

orange-brown ; breast also streaked narrowly with tlie same color. 
Adult Female. — Similar, but duller; breast generally unstreaked. 
Nest. — A deep, soft cup five to ten feet from ground, in a bush, or higher up in 

orchard or shade tree, or in a fork of small sapling or shrub. 
Fgfjs. — Either bluish-white or greenish-white, with obscui'e lilac markings, and 

brown sjjots grouped around the larger end. 
Season. — May to September. 

The Yellow Bird is the most familiar of all our Warblers, 
for it has forsaken the Moodlands for orchards and shade 
trees near dwelling houses. It arrives in May, when the first 
young leaflets ]:)egin to clothe the trees with verdure, and 
plays about like a rich yellow flame among the pink of the 
apple blossoms. It is often confused in the pojjular mind 
Avith the Goldfinch, which is also called the YelloAv Bird, 
but which may be distinguished at once l)y the black of the 


crown, wings, and tail, for the Yellow Warbler has no black 

Although the Yellow AVarbler is not now connnonly found 
in the woods, it is sometimes seen within their borders, and 
is common in thickets along streams and roads, as well as in 
bushy pastures. It is not usually 
seen on the ground or in the tops 
of the tallest trees, but visits all 
parts of trees and shrubbery. 

Its alarm note is a loud chirj). 
Its usual song has much the (juality 
of a whistle, and ma}- l)e expressed 
by the syllables we'-chee, we'-chee, ^'^- ^^■-J'"'^'' ^^''"■'^^^''■' *^^'°- 

* -^ ' ' thirds natiinil size. 

wee' 00. The song is frequently 

much longer, has several variations, and often closely re- 
sembles one song of the Chestnut-sided Warl)ler. 

The nest building of this bird is performed entirely by the 
female ; the nest is daintily but loosely constructed, and is 
very rapidly built. The following brief account of the nest 
building, taken from ]Mr. Mosher's notes. May 16, 1899, 
shows this bird to be an enemy of the cankerworm and the 
tent cater])illar : — 

She first laid a foundation of a few straws and jjlaced upon them 
the cotton or down from fern fronds. These she bound together with 
the silk from a tent caterpillar's web. Then she went alternately 
for the cotton and the silk, stopping occasionall}- at an apple tree and 
ieeding for a moment or two on cankerworms. "When I went past the 
nest at night I found she had it nearly complete ; the lining only was 

It would be hard to find a summer l)ird more useful among 
the shade trees or in the orchard and small-fruit garden than 
this species. Almost entirely insectivorous, it feeds on many 
of the greatest pests that attack our fruit trees, vines, and 
berry Ijushes. Whenever the caterpillars of Avhich it is fond 
are plentiful, they form about two-thirds of its food. It is 
destructive to the small caterpillars of the gipsy moth and 
the brown-tail moth, and is inordinately fond of cankerworms 
and other measuring worms. Tent caterpillars are com- 
monly eaten. Small bark beetles and boring beetles are 


eaten, among them the imago of the currant borer. Weevils 
are greedily taken. A few useful beetles are sacrificed; 
among them ground beetles, soldier Ijeetles, and sniall scav- 
enger beetles. The Yellov^^ Warbler has some expertness as 
a fijcatcher among the branches, and seizes small moths, like 
the codling moth, with ease, but apparently does not take 
many parasitic hymenoptera, though some tlies are taken. 
Plant lice sometimes form a considerable portion of its food. 
No i)art of the tree where it can find insect food is exempt 
from its visits, and it even takes grasshoppers, spiders, and 
myriapods from the ground, grass, or low-growing herbage. 
It usually leaves Massachusetts in August or earl}- September. 

American Redstart. 
Setoijhaga ruticilla. 

Length. — Five to live and one-half inches. 

Adult Male. — Lustrous black; head, neck, and most of breast black; a wide 
orange band across wing quills, and another across basal parts of all but 
the middle tail feathers ; sides of body and Immg of wings tiame color, 
a tinge of which sometimes extends across the lower breast ; other lower 
parts mainly white. 

Adult Female and Male of the First Year. — Similar, but without black ; colors 
paler, the black replaced above by gray and olive and below by white ; 
orange replaced by yellow, and a whitish line in front of and around the 
eye. Tail of young male darker toward tip than that of female. 

Nest. — A neat, compact structure, in upright fork of sapling or tree. 

Eggs. — Somewhat similar to those of the Yellow Warbler, but usually with 
fewer and finer spots. 

Seaso)i. — May to September. 

This species arrives in Massachusetts about the second 
week in May. Unlike the foregoing Warblers, it forages 
habitually from the ground and low underbrush to the very 
tops of the tallest trees. It is also a very active and expert 
flycatcher. Its bill is broadened at the base and its mouth is 
surrounded with bristles, like those of the Flycatchers and 
some other families that take their prey mostl}- u})on the 
wing. The Redstart is almost constantly in nervous motion, 
darting and fluttering from twig to twig in pursuit of its 
elusive prey. In all its movements its wings are held in 
readiness for instant flight, and in its sinuous twistings and 
turnings, risings and fallings, its colors expand, contract, and 
glow amid the sylvan shades like a dancing torch in the 


hands of a madman. Chapman tells us that in Cuba most 
of our wood Warblers are known simply as "mariposas" 
(butterflies), but the Redstart's flaming plumage has won 
for it the name of "candelita," the "little torch," that flashes 
in the gloomy depths of the tropical forest. He gives the 

Fig. 66. — American Redstart. Lower figure, male; upper figure, female. 
One-halt' natural size. 

song as ching, chiiig, chee, ser-wee, swee, swee-e-e, and this 
is a good description of its general character. The song 
varies, however, like that of other Warblers, but is usually 
more cheerful than musical. The alarm note of the Redstart 
is a sharp chirp. 

The insect food of the Redstart is perhaps more varied 
than that of any other common Warbler. Apparently there 
are few forest insects of small size that do not, in some of 
their forms, fall a prey to this bird. Caterpillars that escape 
some of the slower birds by spinning down from the branches 
and hanging by their silken threads are snapped up in mid air 
by the Redstart. It takes its prey from trunk, limbs, twigs, 
leaves, and also from the air, so that there is no escape for 


the tree insects which it pursues unless they reach the upper 
air, where the Redstart seldom goes, except in migration. 
It has been named the flycatcher of the inner tree tops, but 
it is a flycatcher of the Inish tops as Avell. While there are 
few small pests of deciduous trees that it does not eat in 
some form, it is not confined to these trees, but forages more 
or less among coniferous trees. Also it is seen at times in 
orchards, and gleans among shade trees in localities where 
the woods are cut away. It is im})ossible to weigh the 2^^^os 
and cons of this bird's food, for no thorough examination of 
it has ever been made. It is an efiicient caterpillar hunter, 
and one of the most destructive enemies of the smaller hairy 
caterpillars. It catches bugs, moths, gnats, two-winged flies, 
small grasshoppers, and beetles. It probably secures a larger 
proportion of i)arasitic hymenoptera and diptera than most 
other Warblers, occasionally destroying a few wasps ; other- 
wise, its habits seem to be entirely beneficial. 

Black-throated Green Warbler. 

Dcndnyka virens. 
Length. — About five inches. 
Adult Male. — Olive above; sides of head and neck yellow, often Avith darker 

line through eye ; chin, throat, and breast black ; belly white ; sides striped 

witli blackish ; wings and tail dark ; white wing bars ; outer tail feathers 

marked with white. 
Adult Female. — Yellow duller ; black of tliroat largely obscured by gray. 
Nest. — Usually fifteen to fifty feet up in a white pine, in a fork toward the end 

of a branch ; made of bark, twigs, and grasses, and lined with soft materials. 
Efjgs. — Creamy white, with brown and purplish markmgs grouped toward the 

larger end. 
Sea.^o/i . — Aijril to October. 

The Warblers noted in the pages immediate!}^ preceding 
live largely among deciduous trees and shrubbery ; but 
this species dwells by choice among coniferous trees, and 
in Massachusetts it stays })rincipally in groves of white 
pine. While migrating in spring and fall it feeds anywhere 
in mixed deciduous woods, but it is evidently more at home 
among the i)ines, where it gleans its usual food from the 
lowei" Immches to the tree tops. This bird docs not com- 
monly descend to the ground except to procure nesting 
material or to bathe. 


Fig. 67. — Black-throated 
Green Warbler, natural 

One day, as I stopped to drink at a spring in the woods, a 
beautiful male Black-throated Green Warljler shot down from 
a tall tree and alighted on a moss-grown rock that bordered 
the diminutive })Ool. Evidently he had not expected me, but 
was not at all afraid. He looked up at me incjuiringly for a 
moment, and then, stepping into the 
shallow water, dipped his head and 
threw the drops in showers as he 
shook out his brilliant plumage 
in the bath. His ablutions 
finished, quite within reach 
of my hand, he mounted again 
to the tree top, and sent back his drowsy 

This bird has several chirps which it 
utters to express dilierent emotions, but 
its song is most charming, harmonizing, as it does, with the 
whispering of the pines to the summer wind. It has a zeeing 
sound. Hoffman gives it as zee., zee, zu, zi. This is given 
with a little of the quality which characterizes the song of the 
harvest cicada, and often with a difference in the pitch of the 
first and last syllables. John Burroughs graphically repre- 
sents the notes thus : y'"" ^. The upper lines signify 

the higher tones. Bradford Torrey translates the song as 
"Trees, trees, nmrmuring trees ; " but a more practical writer 
assures us that the bird calls for " Cheese, cheese, a little 
more cheese." It has at least one other sono- of the same 
character, but longer and perhaps a trifle more varied. This 
is usually considered to be its entire repertoire; but no one 
can ever be quite sure that he knows all the notes of anv 
l)ird. In the fall of 1905 I heard in a small birch tree in 
Concord a song that resembled closely the lay of a Warbling 
Vireo. In fact, I mistook it for the song of that bird; but 
in trvins: to find the sino-er I soon learned that there was 
no Vireo in the tree, and that the song came from a young- 
male Black-throated Green Warbler, which repeated it sev- 
eral times before my eyes. 

Mr. C. A. Reed says he believes that when its nest is in 
danger of discovery this Warl)ler sometimes brings straws 


and places them on a branch in plain sight of the observer, 
in order to deceive him, and draw his attention away from 
the nest. He states that he has known of more than one 
occurrence of this kind. His observations seem to be cor- 
roborated by the actions of a bird that was nesting in our pine 
grove. When watched, it began carrjdng nesting material 
into an old tin can that was suspended in a large pine tree ; 
l)ut when the attention of the observer was attracted else- 
where, it went no farther with its nest in the can. AVhile 
the birds are building, the male brings some nesting mate- 
rial, but the female does the work of construction. The 
food of this Warbler, like that of others of the family, con- 
sists of caterpillars and other larvro of many kinds, beetles, 
small bugs, and flies. Professor Aughey says that the stom- 
achs of five specimens taken in Nebraska contained two hun- 
dred and twenty insects, — an average of forty-four to each 
bird ; a large number of these insects were young locusts. 

Pine Warbler. Pine-creeping Warbler. 

Den d roica i ■igor'sii. 

Length. — Five and one-half to six inches. 

Adult Male. — Above, olive; wings and tail dusky; two white wing bars ; throat, 

breast, and line over eye bright yellow, somewhat clouded or streaked on 

sides with a darker shade. 
Adult Female. — Duller; often with little oi; no yellow below ; large white spots 

on two outer tail feathers of both sexes. 
JS^est. — In much the same situation as that of the Black-throated Green Warbler, 

but oftener in pitch pines ; it is sometimes saddled on a horizontal limb, 

and is then flat and rather slovenly in build ; usually lined with feathers. 
Eggs. — White with brown markings, chiefly at larger end. 
Season. — April to October. 

The Pine Warbler has a marked preference for pine woods 
and groves ; but, unlike the Black-throated Green War])ler, 
it seems to prefer the pitch pines, and is one of the few birds 
that habitually live and breed in the woods of this charac- 
ter that exist on dry and sandy lands, like those of Cape 
Cod. It has been called the Pine-creeping Warbler, from 
its habit of creeping along the l)ranches, and occasionally 
up and around the trunks of pines. For a Warbler it 
seems a rather slow and indolent bird ; still, at times it is 
remarkably active. Its alarm note is a sharp chirp ; its 
other notes are few and weak. The son": is one of the most 


soothing sounds of the pine woods. It lias in it the same 
dreamy drowsiness that characterizes tlic note of tlie Black- 
throated Gi'een Warbler, but is otherwise entirely different 
in tone and quality, being composed of a series of short, 
soft, whistling notes, run together in a continuous trill. It 
resembles, in a way, the song of the Chip- 
ping Sparrow, except that it is softer and 
more musical. Often the bird will 
sit for ten or fifteen minutes 
in one spot, and, 
as the song seems 
ventriloquial at 
times, the singer is 
then hard to find. 

This bird is one of 
the earliest AVarblers to 
arrive in spring. It is 
undoubtedly the partic- 
ular guardian of the 
pines, about which it 

remains until very late in the season, for it feeds mainly on 
insects that infest pine trees. It has been seen in Wareham 
in December and January. It is able to subsist to some 
extent on the seeds of pines, and when there is a good crop 
of pine seed it can remain longer than most other Warblers. 

Fig. 68.— Pine Warbler, natural size. 

Myrtle Warbler. Myrtle Bird. Yellow-rumped Warbler. 

Dcndroica coronata. 

Length. — About five and one-half inches. 

Adult Male. — Above, slaty; black-streaked; wings and tail brownish, marked 

with white ; chest clouded and streaked with black ; two wing bars, throat, 

tail spots, lower breast, and belly white; ci'own, rump, and a patch on each 

side of breast bright yellow. 
Female. — In sprmg, much like male, but duller; in fall, and male in fall, 

generally browner, with colors less pm-e and conspicuous. 
Young. — Brownish above, white below; rump yellow. 
Nest. — In biish or coniferous tree, usually lined with fine, .soft materials. 
Eggs. — White, marked with browns and purples. 
Season. — April to November; winters in favorable localities. 

This beautiful bird probably does not breed in Massachu- 
setts except in some higher })arts of northern Worcester 



Fig. 69. — Myrtle War- 
bler, nearly natural 

County and among the western hills, but it is one of the 
most common migrating Warblers throughout the State. 

The Myrtle Warliler has a variety of notes, but the one 
usually uttered both spring and fall is a soft chirp or cJnip, 
which, at a little distance, exactly resembles the sound pro- 
(Uiced by a large drop of water as it strikes 
on wet o;round or leaf mould. These 
sounds are so similar that after 
storms in the woods I have often 
found it difficult to distinguish the 
note of this Warbler from the splash of 
the large drops that Avere still falling from 
the trees. The song is a rather weak 
warble, very sweet, and often of long 
duration. Sometimes portions of it are 
given quite loudl}^ in a jingling tone, 
resembling somewhat that of the Indigo Bird. It has quite 
as many variations as the song of any Warbler that I now 

The Myrtle Bird remains through the winter in some por- 
tions of the State where it can find food ; and, as it frequents 
woodlands, orchards, and shade trees, as well as thickets, 
it is probably the most useful of the AVarblers that are not 
common in summer. It remains in fall all along the coast 
where bay berries grow, and until the supply of this fruit 
becomes exhausted ; then the birds must either move to more 
favored regions, or perish of cold and hunger, which latter 
not infrequently happens in hard winters. They do not, 
however, rely entirely on bayberries, l)ut eat a few other 
berries and some seeds, and spend much time in searching 
for hibernating insects and insects' 
eggs. They are not confined to 
the sea coast in winter, for they 
can live on the berries of the red 
cedar ; and I have found them 
wintering in sheltered localities in 
central Worcester County. Dr. Weed made a special study 
of the autumn food of this species. He found that they ate 

Fig. 70. — Woolly apple tree 
aphis, eaten by Myrtle Warbler. 

bayberries, caddis Hies, various insect larvte, beetles, plant 


lice and their eggs, house flies and other diptera, and a very 
few hymenopterous flies. I can only add to this the fact 
that I have seen this species feeding on the woolly apple tree 
aphis (^Schizoneura Janigera) in late October and early No- 
vember, after all the birch plant lice, of which these l)irds 
are very fond, had disappeared. This apple tree a})his is a 
particularly destructive species, which has done great injury 
in the past. Young trees are frequently injured by these 
aphids, which also attack the roots and the new growth 
on older trees. As spring approaches, the Myrtle Warbler 
feeds less on berries and seed, but eagerly hunts the early 
flies, moths, and gnats that appear on warm days in sheltered 
swamps and along water courses. It now l)ecomes of great 
service to orchard and woodland, for large flights of these 
birds move slowly northward through the State, feeding 
verv largely on the tree pests that develop with the open- 
ing' foliao;e. 


The Vireos all normally seek orchard, woodland, or swam})y 
thicket. The three species, however, that breed commonlj^ 
in the greater part of Massachusetts, have all learned to nest 
about the habitations of man. They perform an economic 
service shnilar to that rendered by the Warblers, except that 
during summer they feed to a greater extent upon wild fiuits. 
They live mainly among the foliage, and in action much re- 
semble Warblers, except that, lieing heavier in build, their 
motions are usuall}^ more deliberate. The Solitary Virco 
and the White-eyed Vireo breed here, but only unconnnonly 
or locally. The latter is common in some places near the 
coast, but I have found it in only a few favored localities in 
the interior. The Solitar}^ Vireo is regarded as rare in the 
breeding season, but it probably breeds in all the northern 
counties in most seasons. It may be ])resent in a certain 
piece of woods during one breeding season and al)sent the 
next, and is sometimes fairly common in a few restricted 
areas in Essex and Middlesex counties. 


USEFUL Binns. 

Red-eyed Vireo. 

I'ireo oli care lis. 
Length. — About six inches. 
Adult. — Upper parts grayisli olive-green, changing to gray on the crown ; a dark 

stripe on either side of tlie crown ; a light stripe over the eye, and dark 

streak from hill through eye ; under jjarts grayish-white, deepening to pale 

olive-yellow on the flanks ; iris ruby-red. 
Nest. — A pensile cup; usually hung by its upper edge from a fork, five to 

twenty-five feet from the ground. 
Egg.'i. — White, spotted with dark brown at the larger end. 
Season. — May to September. 

The lled-ej^ed Vireo, although not so abundant as the 
Robin, is one of the most conniion and widely distributed 
summer birds. It breeds throughout the State. It is very 

devoted to its eggs and 
young, and sits ver}^ closely 
on the nest. The mother 
bird will often allow a per- 
son to walk by within arm's 
length while she remains 
quietly sitting. The par- 
ent birds feed and protect 
their yonng for a long time 
after they leave the nest. 
This Vireo sleeps very 
soundly ; soon after sunset and ])efore the shades of night 
have fallen the mother bird on her nest tucks her head under 
her wing, and is sometimes so oblivious to the world that 
she maj^ be approached and taken in the hand. The Red- 
eye is found wherever there are groups of deciduous trees, 
or Avoodlands and thickets. Its movements as it slips about 
among the branches are rather deliberate. It sings continu- 
ally, l)ut the song is intermittent, as though the bird were 
singing incidentally as a pastime, like a boy whistling at his 
work. The song is composed of phrases of a fe^v syllables 
each, and the manner of its delivery, with many rising and 
some falling inflections and frequent pauses, led AVilson Flagg 
to name the bird the "preacher." Many years ago I learned 
that the preacher had other business than his preaching, and 
that he practised as he preached ; for it was through watching 

Fig. 71. — Red-eyed Vireo, natural size. 


this species that I first became aware of the usefuhiess of birds 
to man. One sunny day in early boyhood I watched a Vireo 
singing in a swampy thicket. He sang a few notes, his head 
turning meanwhile from side to side, his eyes scanning closely 
the near-by foliage. Suddenly the song ceased ; he leaned 
forward, sprang to another twig, snatched a green caterpillar 
from the under side of a leaf, swallowed it, and resumed the 
song. Every important pause in his dissertation sio-nalized 
the capture of a larva. As the discourse was punctuated, a 
worm was punctured. It seems as if the preaching were a 
serious business with the bird ; but this seeming is deceptive, 
for the song merely masks the constant vigilance and the 
sleepless eye of this premium caterpillar hunter. In the 
discovery of this kind of game the bird has few superiors. 
He goes about it in the right way. :\Iinot savs : " They have 
never struck me as very active insect hunters, since they 
devote so much of their time to their nmsic." This is true, 
but the Vireo does not hunt active game so nmch as it seeks 
those defenceless larvae that must depend upon their protec- 
tive shape and coloring to conceal them from their enemies. 
These devices may insure them against some of their insect 
foes, but not against the Vireo. It is most astonishinir to 
see hun pick up caterpillar after caterpillar from twigs "and 
foliage, where with the best glasses our untrained evls can 
discern " nothing but leaves." And so the bird sings the 
livelong day, to while away the time as it searches over the 
foliage. This habit of song becomes so strong that the male 
bird sings while sitting on the nest to relieve his faithful 
mate. He sings all summer, and even into the fall. When 
his hunger is temporarily satisfied, he will sit on a twio- and 
sing for minutes at a time. His common notes are an alarmed 
chatter and a querulous crv. 

The Red-eyed Vireo is now becoming well recognized as 
a great insect eater. Mr. Arthur G. Gilbert informed me 
that he fed a young bird of this species a hundred grass- 
hoppers in a day. When the last grasshopper had been'sAval- 
lowed the bird Avas well filled, for the tips of the insects' 
wings projected from the bird's bill . This Vireo is one of the 
most effective enemies of the gipsy moth and brown-tail moth. 



iNIoths and ])utterflie.s of many kinds are eaten ; also assassin 
bugs, tree lioi)pers, and bugs that oat plants and fruit. ]Manv 
beetles, among them boring beetles, bark l)eetles, and weevils, 
grasshoppers, katydids, locusts, — all are eaten. This bird at 
times becomes an expei't flycatcher, taking horseflies, mos- 
(juitoes, and other gnats, and many gall flies. It appears to 
take a larger proportion of fruit than the other Vireos. In 
summer I have found many seeds of berries in the stomachs 
of these birds, and sometimes a stomach will be found nearly 
filled with blueberries. Raspberries, l)lackberries, and mul- 
berries are commonly eaten. Professor King has found dog- 
wood berries, berries of the prickly ash, and sheep berries in 
their stomachs ; Dr. Fisher says they are foifd of the fruits 
of the benzoin bush, the sassafras, and magnolia ; and Dr. 
Warren asserts that they feed on poke berries and wild 

Warbling Vireo. 

Vireo gili-iis. 

Length. — About five and three-fourths mches. 

Adult. — Upper parts generally hrownish-gray, tinged more or less with olive- 
green ; sides of head lighter, with a rather light line above the eye, but no 
dark line through it ; below, dull white, passing into yellowish on the belly 
and pale buff or olive on sides. 

Nest and Eggs. — Much like those of the preceding species, but a trifle smaller; 
usually in a shade tree, from fifteen to fifty feet up. 

Sea.son. — May to September. 

In appearance the Warbling Vireo is much like the Red- 
eye, but it is smaller and less distinctly marked. In the 

breeding season it is usually seen 

at no great distance from the 

large elms and other great shade 
trees that line country roads and 
village streets. It was found com- 
monly in city shade trees until the intro- 
duced House Sparrow drove it out. The 
Warbling Vireo, like its closely related 
congeners, moves about amid tlu^ branches 
of trees, flj'ing only occasionally to the 
ground, or moving from tree to tree in short flights. Its 
ordinary notes are similar to those of the Red-eye, but are 

Fig. 72. — Warblin 
Vireo, natural size. 


le.,-s vigorous. It, .o„g is a rather low, weak, but pleasing 
and continuous warble, resembling somewhat in quality the 
^ong ot the Purple Finch, but not nearlv so loud'and bold! 
it has not the abrupt and inlennittent phrasing of the sonc 
of the precedn,g species, but is sweeter, more tender, and 
less monotonous. 

This bird is of iunneuse service to man in the destruction 
ot vast numbers of injurious insects that infest the trees 
about the house, garden, and orchard, as well as those of 
the woods As it is quite a flycatcher, both crawling larva, 
and winged imagoes snfler from its depredations. II.Trsefiies 
and other dipterous insects, crane flies and mosquitoes, are 
ZaZT' , • T' ™™'' "°"''^'-' l^gelr of caterpillars 

elm tflTT^'^, '"""''' ' """"= ^''^-^'^ "« "- ""ported 
elm-leaf beetle (Galeru^eVa lufeola) and the twelve-spotted 
cuenmber beetle. Grasshoppers .are not neglected. Occa- 
sionally useful flies, ladybirds, or bees are\illed, but the 
great majority of in.sects eaten are injurious. The fruit taken 
seems to be mainly wild and worthless berries. 

Yellow-throated Vireo. 

Zen^r^/i. —Nearly six inches 

s;;::,:-"X%n%:::i-;.'" "- - ■-■""•"■ -- •*»« >'•-■ -- 

The Yellow-throated Vireo was once evidently an inhabitant 
of open forests ot great deciduous trees, although it is some- 
nnes found in pines ; bnt since the destruction of the orio-inal 
timber growth in this Commonwealth it has learned to'seek 
the great shade trees that have gro>vn up along streets and 
about residences or in pastures. The groves of lar<.e oaks 
and other deciduous trees that are found on wclI-cLcd-for 
estates are among its favorite breeding places. It often 

^bitat!" "";'"-''^«'^- /""- " I'- come to live about the 
liabitations of man, and in eastern Massachusetts is more 



Fig. 73. — Yellow-throated 
Viieo, two-thirds natural 


coininonlv seen there in the breeding season than in deep 

The nest of this bird, whieh is about a week in the build- 
ing, is outwardly one of the handsomest specimens of bird 
architecture to be found anywhere. It is difficult to see how 

it is possible for a bird to con- 
struct such a nest, and cover 
it so tastefully with lichens 
and plantdown. Undoubtedly 
the skillful use of caterpillars' web 
serves in attaching these ornamen- 
tal materials. 
The bird is coni})aratively deliber- 
ate in both song and movement, and, 
though naturally shy when it was con- 
fined to the open woods, it has now 
become rather fearless, and may be 
readily watched with a glass as it moves among the tall trees. 
The song is a little louder than that of most Vireos, and may 
be easily distinguished from all others. It usually consists 
of two or three rich and x'wWe, notes, uttered interrogatively 
or tentatively, followed immediately by a few similar tones 
uttered decisively. The bird appears to ask a question, and 
then answer it. Its alarm notes are as harsh as those of an 
Oriole, and somewhat similar in quality. 

This Vireo should be most carefully protected and encour- 
aged to breed about the homes of man, for it feeds upon pests 
of the household, forest, and orchard. Common house flies 
and mosquitoes are eaten. In the orchard it attacks the 
apple })lant lice, the hairy tent, gipsy, and tussock cater- 
pillars, as well as moths of many species. It is quite de- 
structive to the larvae of butterflies also, while weevils and 
other beetles, grasshoppers, and leaf hoppers are eaten to a 
less extent. This species eats a few unimportant wild ber- 
ries, such as the fruit of the red cedar ; but so far as I have 
observed it is not so fond of fruit as the Red-eyed Vireo, 
and its only possible harmful habits seem to be the occa- 
sional destruction of a bee, a syr})hus fly, or some hyme- 
no})t('rous parasite. 




These beautiful but inconspicuous birds are noted for the 
peculiar appendage which in many specimens adorns the tip 
of each secondary quill, and is sometimes found on the tip 
of each tail feather also. These waxy appendages seem to 
be ornamental rather than useful. They resemble sealing 
wax, hence the name WaxAving. The Bohemian Waxwing, 
a northern species, is a rare winter visitor to Massachusetts. 
The Cedar Waxwing is the only other species found in 

Cedar Waxwing. Cedar Bird. Cherry Bird. 
Ampelis cedrorum. 

Length. — About seven and a quarter inches. 

Adult. — Head long-crested; chin, foreliead, space around eye, and line above it 
black ; general color rich grayish or puikish brown, with tints of reddish- 
olive and pur])lisli-cinnanaon, changing on the after parts into ashy above 
and yellow and white below; wuigs and tail gray; tail tipped with yellow. 

Nest. — Bulky; from six to fifteen feet up in an orchard or shade tree; composed 
of weeds, grass, roots, bark, leaves and twigs. 

Eggs. — Light bluish, marked with black and indistinct bluish spots. 

Season. — Resident. 

This common bird, so richly endowed with beauty and 
grace, is no songster. Its charm consists in its elegant shape 
and its softness of plumage, with its 
insensible changes from one lovely 
tint to another. It moves about in 
silence, save as it utters a lisping, 
" lieady " note or a " hushed whistle," 
Mr. Nehrling says that both male 
and female sing. I cannot doubt 
that he has heard this song, hnt 
from my own experience I am 
led to believe that it is rare in 

The Cedar Bird gets its name 
from its habit of feeding on cedar 
berries in fall and winter. It often may be found on some 
parts of Cape Cod during the colder months. It is some- 
times seen in other parts of the State in winter, and is at- 

Fig. 74. —Cedar Bird, one-half 
natural size. 



trac'tecl by the berries of the mountain ash. The northward 
migration is usually under way in March, but comparatively 
few birds are ordinarily seen in central jNIassachusetts until 
late in jNlaj' . In spring and early summer they seem to feed 
almost entirely on insects. They are always plentiful at this 
season in a cankerworm year, and they deserve at such 
times the local name of "cankerworm birds," for they fre- 
quent infested orchards in large flocks, and fill themselves 
Avitli the worms until they can eat no more. There is no 
doubt that the countless thousands of caterpillars that they 
destroy more than compensate for the cherries they eat, 
although in some seasons they are very destructive to cherries. 
Such little gluttons rarel}^ can be found among birds. The 
Cedar Bird seems to have the most ra})id digestion of any 
bird with Avhich experiments have been made. Audubon 
said that Cedar Birds would gorge themselves with fruit 
until they could be taken by hand ; and that he had seen 
wounded birds, confined in a cage, eat of apples until suflb- 
cated. They will stuff themselves to the very throat. So, 
wherever they feed, their appetites produce a visible effect. 
Professor Forbes estimates that thirty Cedar Birds will 
destroy ninety thousand cankerworms in a month. This 
calculation seems to be far within bounds. 

Cedar Birds are devoted to each other and to their young. 
Sometimes a row of six or eiifht mav be seen, sitting- close 

together on a limb, passing 
and repassing from beak to 
beak a fat caterpillar or juicy 
cherry. I have seen this 
touching courtesy but once, 
and believe it Avas done not 
so much from politeness as 

Fig. 75.— I'assiiiff the clierrv. /. ^i ^ ^ j^i ; j f 

irom the tact that most ot 
the birds were so full that they had no room for more, — a 
condition in which they can aflbrd to be generous. Never- 
theless, the manner in which it is done, and the simulation 
of tender regard and consideration for each other exhibited, 
render it a sight well worth seeing. They also have a habit 
of "billing," or saluting one another with the bill. 


The food of these bh'ds has been much discussed, and it 
has been clearly shown that they eat a larger proportion of 
fruit and a smaller proportion of insects than most birds. 
Here in jNIassachusetts they often merit the name of Cherry 
Birds, for they descend on the cheny trees in considerable 
flocks, and destroy a large quantity of fruit. Professor Beal, 
however, in examining one hundred and fifty-two stomachs, 
found that oyly nine birds had eaten cultivated cherries, and 
that more than half the food consisted of wild fruit. 

^Nlrs. ]\Iary Treat writes of a town in which the elms had 
been defoliated for several years by the elm-leaf beetle, but 
the Cedar Birds came, and 
the trees were afterwards 
comparatively free from the 
beetles. During the time 
when the adult birds feed on 
cherries, the young are fed 
very largely upon insects, 
although fruit is given them 
as they grow older. These 
birds feed so much on wild 
fruit as it ripens, that it con- 
stitutes nearly seventy-five 
per cent, of their food ; but 
later, after the young are reared, they turn flycatchers, and 
taking a high perch on some tree near a lake or river or 
on the borders of the woods, they sally out after fl3dng 
insects. Grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, ichneumon flies, 
crane flies, and lacewings are all devoured by them. Bugs 
and bark lice are also on the bill of fare. While these birds 
are sometimes a pest to the fruit grower, they are, on the 
whole, beneficial to agriculture, and deserve protection. 

Fig. 76. —Good work in the orchard. 


This group of brilliant woodland birds is represented here 
by but two species ; one of these, the Summer Tanager, is 
very rarely seen ; the common Scarlet Tanager is one of 
the most valuable birds of orchard and woodland. 



Scarlet Tanager. 

Piraiujd, crythromclas. 
Length. — About seven inches. 
Adult Male. — Entire body bright scarlet; wings and tail black; in autumn much 

like female, but retaining the black on wings and tail. 
Adult Female. — Greenish above; yellowish below; wings and tail darker and 

Nest. — Of fine twigs and straws: usually in lower branches of some large tree, 

but sometimes fully twenty feet up ; occasionally in the orchard. 
Eggs. — Light greenish-blue, with brown and purplish markings. 
Season. — May to October. 

This most gorgeous of New England birds flashes through 
the trees like a brand i)lucked from tropical flame ; but it 
is a distinctly North American species, going south onlj in 

Fig. 77. — Scarlet Tanngers (male and female) and gipsy moth caterpillars. 

its fall migration, and returning to its chosen northern home 
in the spring. The Tanager is a bird of large deciduous 
woods, and is less common among great tracts of pines, 
hemlocks, and other coniferous trees, although it is often 
seen in small groves of these trees, and sometimes nests 
there. The oaks are its first favorites, and wherever there 


are large groves of white oaks Tanagers are sure to come. 
They also frequent the detached oaks that are found in pas- 
tures near woodland. The chestnut is another favorite tree. 
This bird seems to have increased somewhat in numbers 
within the last forty years, and for at least twenty years has 
been common and sometimes abundant in the greater part 
of Massachusetts. It is somewhat local, however, and is 
rarely as common anywhere as the Kobin or Song Sparrow. 
It is distinctl}^ an arboreal bird, and seeks its food mainly 
among the foliage of trees, where from the higher branches 
its song may be most often heard.' The lay resembles 
somewhat that of a Robin, but is shorter and less varied, 
with a little apparent hoarseness or harshness in the tone. 
Gentry's rendering of the song as chl-chl-cJa-char-e'e , cJmr- 
ee-chi, represents it ftiirly well. At times it seems ventri- 
loquial, and the bird is difficult to find, for its brilliant 
plumage is not so conspicuous among the shadows of the 
foliage as one would naturally exiiect to find it. It sino-s at 
intervals all through the day, but more often at early morning 
and at night. A sudden noise, like a shout or the rumbling 
of a carriage along the road, sometimes startles the Tanao-er 
into song, or brings out the alarm note, chq), c/nirr, or the 
sharp chip uttered by this bird. 

After the leaves have attained their full size, the Tanager, 
which feeds mostly in the trees, is hidden much of the time 
by the foliage of the tree tops, and so is seldom seen excei)t 
by those who know its notes and are looking for it. For this 
reason it is commonly considered rare. 

In its food preferences the Tanager is the appointed guard- 
ian of the oaks. It is drawn to these trees as if they were 
magnets, but the chief attraction seems to be the vast num- 
ber of insects that feed upon them. It is safe to say that 
of all the many hundreds of insects that feed upon the oaks 
few escape paying tribute to the Tanager at some period 
of their existence. We are much indebted to this beautiful 
bird for its share in the preservation of these noble and 
valuable trees. It is not particularly active, but, like the 
Vireos, it is remarkably observant, and slowly moves about 
among the branches, continually finding and persistently de- 


stroying those concealed insects which so well escape all but 
the sharpest eyes. Nocturnal moths, such as the Catocalas, 
which remain motionless on the tree trunks l)y day, almost 
invisible because of their protective coloring, are captured 
by the Tanager. Even the largest moths, like cecropia and 
luna, are killed and eaten by this indefatigable insect hunter. 
Mr. C. E. Bailey once told me that he saw a male Tanager 
swallow a luna moth nearly entire, removing only one of the 
insect's wings in the process ; but this haste may have been 
caused by the attempts of several other birds to take his prey 
from him. Mr. Bailey brought me the wing of the moth that 
was dropped, lest its identit}^ should be questioned. I once 
saw a male Tanager swallow what appeared to be a hellgra- 
mite or dobson {Corydalus covnutus) head first and appar- 
ently entire, though not without nmch effort. No one who 
will examine the plate of the luna moth, opposite this page, 
can fail to appreciate the capacity of the Tanager. It is 
difficult to see how the bird can accomplish such feats of deg- 
lutition. As a caterpillar hunter the bird has few superiors. 
It is often very destructive to the gipsy moth, taking all 
stages but the eggs, and undoubtedlj^ will prove equally 
useful against the brown-tail moth. Leaf-rolling caterpillars 
it skillfully takes from the rolled leaves, and it also digs out 
the larvffi of gall insects from their hiding places. Many 
other injurious larva? are taken. Wood-boring beetles, bark- 
boring beetles, and weevils form a considerable portion of 
its food during the months when these insects can be found. 
C'lick beetles, leaf-eating beetles, and crane flies are greedily 
eaten. These beneficial habits are not only of service in 
woodlands, l)ut they are exercised in orchards, Avhich are 
often frequented by Tanagers. Nor is this bird confined to 
trees, for during the cooler weather of early spring it goes 
to the ground, and on plowed lands follows the })low like the 
Blackliird or Robin, picking up earthworms, grubs, ants, and 
ground beetles. (Trassho})pers, locusts, and a few bugs are 
taken, largely from the ground, grass, or shrubbery. 

Some useful ichneumon flies are destroyed, and a few 
spiders and their eggs. Nuttall says that Tanagers eat 
whortleberries and seeds, but so far as my observations and 


dissections oo the bird seems to be aliiiost entirely insectiv- 
orous, and in every way one of the most desirable species 
of woodland, orchard, and field. 


The Finch and Sparrow family is larger in numbers of 
both species and individuals than any other family of North 
American birds ; but comparatively few of the species dwell 
and feed in orchard or woodland. The Pine Grosbeaks, 
Pine Finches, Eedpolls, and Crossbills arc forest birds ; but 
they come here from the north mainly during the colder 
months of the year, Avhen they feed largely on the seeds 
of trees, and are not particularly useful. There are only 
three common species belonging to the Si)arrow family that 
habitually live in or near woods, and even these are often 
found in orchards and small groves. Most of the Sparrows 
find a large part of their food on the ground or near it. They 
all have strong, rigid, conical ))eaks, and nmscular gizzards ; 
all arc seed eaters, and, as the family feeds to a great extent 
on the seeds of weeds and grasses, they live mainly in or 
near open fields. A few, such as the Chi}>ping S})arrow, the 
Purple Finch, and the Goldfinch, build their nests in trees. 
But these get a large part of their food in pastures, fields, or 
gardens. The Goldfinch and Purple Finch, however, live so 
much in trees that they may vs^ell be included among the 
birds of woodland and orchard ; while the Rose-breasted 
Grosbeak and the Towhee are entitled to be known as wood- 
land birds, althouii^h often seen in orchard or grarden. 

The Goldfinch and the Purple Finch are more in the 
orchard and less in woodland than the Grosbeak and the 
Towhee. In spring and sunnner these finches feed on many 
orchard caterpillars. The Towhee is found mostly in young 
copi)ice growth, in thickets on the borders of woodland, and 
in briery tangles, but seldom in deep, dark woods. These 
four species of this family perform essential service for trees. 
The Towhee works on the ground and among the smaller 
sprouts, and the others work more among trees of larger 


Rose-breasted Grosbeak. 

Zdmchidia ludoricidna. 

Length. — Seven and three-fourths to eight and one-half mches. 

Adult Male. — Ahove, niamly black ; the black of head extending around iinder 
throat; wings and tail white-marked; rump white; upper tail coverts 
black and white ; below, mainly white ; middle breast and under wing 
coverts rose-red ; the large bill appears white from below. 

Adult Female. — The black of the male largely replaced by brown, except on 
throat, which is white; line over eye and space in front of eye white or 
whitish ; a streak on crown also whitish, mixed witli brown ; no white on 
rump or tail ; no rose on bi'east, and that under wings replaced by yellow. 

Nest. — Built of twigs, fibei's, and grasses ; loosely made m bush or saplmg, from 
five to twenty feet or more from ground. 

Eggs. — Varying in color from pale greeni,sh-blue to dull green ; thickly marked 
with coarse spots of various shades of brown and purplish. 

Season. — Early May to September. 

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak should be accorded the most 
cordial welcome wherever it appears ; for not many birds 
have such beauty of plumage and song, and at the same 
time such useful habits. 

This is one of the few birds that has increased in immbers 

within the past forty years to 
such an extent that it is now 
found commonly in woods and 
thickets where man}^ years ago 
it was considered rare. It is 
common, too, about the fields and 
gardens. Its sweet warbling may be 
heard from the tall shade trees of the 
Fig. 78. — Rose-breasted village strcct. The introduction and 
Grosbeak, m.iie, about v^prcad of the Colorado potato beetle, 

one-half natural size. , '■ 

which reached Massachusetts about 
thirty years ago, may have had something to do with this 
increase in the number of Grosbeaks, for they are among the 
few birds that wnll eat this beetle. They seek the beetles 
so assiduously everywhere that they are often locally known 
as " potato ])ug birds." This Grosbeak has now become com- 
mon throughout most of Massachusetts, except on Cape Cod. 
The conunon note of this bird is a thin, sharp eek, quite dif- 
ferent from that of any other eastern bird. The song is a 
strong, rolling carol, somewhat like that of the Robin in 


tone, but much purer and of far finer (luality. It seems to 
convey to the listener not so much the bright good cheer of 
the Robin, as a sort of pure joy, expressed in most exqui- 
sitely liquid tones. 

In May, when the Grosbeaks are mating, two or more of 
the males sometimes engage in fierce and even Ijloody battles 
for the favors of some coveted female. At such times the 
males join in a general melee, warbling meanwhile their 
choicest strains, until the weaker come to the ground ex- 
hausted, while the strong and favored bird leads his chosen 
bride away in triumph. 

I well recall the day when, as a boy, I first found the nest 
of this bird, built high in an alder bush l)y a little run, on 
the edo;e of some i>reat chest- 
nut woods. A black-and-white 
bird of striking appearance sat 
on the nest, covering the eggs, 
and manifesting no alarm at my 
presence. I thought it a new 
species, for there was certainly 
no female Grosbeak of that color 
in the books. The mystery 
was solved when the ])ird left 
the nest. It was the first time 
I had discovered a male bird incubating. The Grosbeak is 
a gallant fellow, and relieves his mate of a large part of her 
duties. He is very aftectionate and attentive. He sings 
while sitting on the nest, perhaps to while away the time, or 
to let his mate know that he is at his post. When danger 
is near he subdues his tone, until the song, pure and clear 
as ever, seems to come from far away. It dies down almost 
to a whisper, and then, as the danger passes, rises again to 
its full power. He is a model husband and a good father. 

The Grosbeak gets its food largely among the trees, seek- 
ing it from the ground upward to the tallest tree top. Had 
this bird ac(|uired the habit of feeding on any of the products 
of the farm or orchard, it might easily become a pest, as its 
large size, robust appetite, and strong beak would make it 
a formidable enemy to growing vegetables, grain, or fruit. 

Fig. 79. 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, 


Its bill seems well fitted to wrench out the seeds of coniferous 
trees from their cones, but a large part of its summer food 
consists of insects, among them many of the greatest pests 
of woodland, orchard, and garden. Hairless caterpillars are 
continually sought. Much skill is evinced in extracting leaf- 
rollers. The bird has been seen feeding to some extent on 
the caterpillars of the gipsy moth and the tussock moth. It 
is fond of beetles and their larva', particularly those of leaf- 
eating and wood-boring species. Dr. Warren found a few 
wasps and flies among the food of this bird. In early spring 
the eggs and hibernating pupse of insects are taken from 
crevices in the bark. On the ground the Grosbeak finds 
large caterpillars like the army worm, and some grasshoppers 
and locusts. Here also it eats the seeds of weeds. Professor 
Beal says that he examined the stomachs of a few birds that 
were shot while eating green peas, but that the stomachs 
contained enough potato beetles, old and young, as well as 
other harmful insects, to pay for all the peas the birds w^ould 
be likely to eat in a whole season. 

The Grosbeak eats wild berries, and the seeds of the 
alder and birch. The fact that it takes buds and the ovaries 
of the blossoms of fruit trees leads Minot to regard it as an 
enemy to agriculture ; but Mr. Brewster says truly that such 
pruning is seldom more severe than that i)ractised by a thrifty 
horticulturist. The office })erformed by the Grosbeak, with 
its strong, cutting beak, is, as has been hereinbefore stated, 
merely a i)art of nature's pruning, which, though sometimes 
drastic, still in the long run benefits rather than injures thc^ 

Towhee. Chewink. Ground Robin. 

Pipilo crt/fh)'02)h(h((Iiiins. 

Length. — From about eight to eight and three-fourths inches. 

Adult Male. — Head, all round, neck and chest, wings and tail black; the two 

latter white-marked ; sides and tianks chestnut ; breast and l)elly white. 
Adnlt Female. — Brown replacing the black of the male. — On ground; usually sunken and often roofed over. 
Ff/ffn. — White, ratlmr finely and (svenly spotted with light ashy and brown. 
Sea-wn. — The latter part of April to October, rarely remaining all winter in 

southeastern Massachusetts. 

This common and well-known l>ird always may ])e found 
in its season in sprout lands and thickets, Avhere it scratches 


among the dry leaves on the ground. Like many other 
Sparrows, it scratches with both feet at once, jumping into 
the air and digging away tlie leaves with a <|uiek motion of 
the feet, then brings its feet deftly under its body and lands 
on them. When disturbed it darts into a bush, with a whir 

Pig. 80. — Towliee, male, about one-half natural size. 

of wings, a flash of black, white, and chestnut, a quick flirt 
of its long tail, and, with crest slightly erected, sends back its 
call towhee' ^ or the more nasal cheewinh\ or hriink' . Its song 
as commonly sung may be rendered dick' you, Jiddle-iddle, 
iddle, iddle, iddle. The first two notes are sometimes com- 
bined in a de'ak, but whether dick or the deacon is addressed, 
he is adjured to fiddle. The last notes run into a trill. 

The Chewink rarely goes into the tree toj)s, though it 
often perches on the top of some small sapling while singing. 
Its food is obtained mainly from the ground, the shrubbery, 
and as high up the tree trunks as it can reach or jump. 
While scratching and digging among the leaves in early 
spring it unearths many dormant insects, and disposes of 
them ere they have an ()p])ortunity to propagate their kind. 


Many beetle larv{\? are thus found, among them the white 
grub of the May l)eetle. The bird finds many ground beetles 
and ants ; it picks up the mature forms of Arctians, many 
of the smaller nocturnal moths, and many hairy caterpillars. 
When it lives near gardens or cultivated fields it is said to feed 
on such pests as potato beetles and cabbage worms. Grass- 
hoppers and cockroaches are eaten, also flies and earthworms. 
The vegetable food of this l)ird consists largely of fruit and 
weed seeds. It has been accused of pulling corn in some 
localities ; but this habit probably occurs rarely, though its 
strong; bill enables it to crack and devour hard corn. Wild 
berries are much eaten in summer. The only cultivated fruit 
I ever knew this bird to take was the gooseberry, a few 
of which it picked up from the ground where they had 

Purple Finch. Crimson Finch. Red Linnet. Gray Linnet. 

CarpodacHs ]mr2)i(i'ens. 

Length. — About six inches. 

Adult Male. — Entire body suffused with tints varying from reddish-brown to 

rose-red or wine-purple, "like a brown bird dipped in diluted i)okeberry 

juice," as Burroughs says. 
Adult Female. — Olive-grayish; streaked above and below with dusky. The 

yoiuig male is much like the female. 
JVest. — Usually at no great height, on coniferous trees ; made of grass, twigs, and 

fibers, lined with horsehair. 
Eggs. — Pale greenish, spotted and scratched with purplisli-brown and black. 
Season. — Resident; but irregular in winter. 

The Purple Finch is naturally a bird of the woods, but it 
has learned to love the vicinage of human habitations, and 
lives about orchards or in groves or shade trees on well-kept 
estates, and is more commonly seen in such situations than 
in the woods. 

The species is gregarious, and sometimes during the mi- 
grations or in winter they may be seen, in flocks of twenty 
to fifty individuals, roaming the country in search of the 
berries and seeds of which they are fond. The ordinary 
note is a sharp, hard chip, and they call to each other with 
a note which resembles the syllables pe-iree'. The song of 
the male is a sudden, joyous burst of melody, vigorous, but 


clear and pure, to which no mere words can do justice. 
WJien, filled with ecstasy, he mounts in air and hangs with 
fluttering wings above the tree where sits the one who holds 
his affections, his efforts far transcend his ordinary tones 
and a continuous melody floAvs forth, until, exhausted with 
his vocal effort, he sinks to the level of his spouse in the 
tree top. This is a musical species, 
for some females sing, though not 
so well as the males. 

This Finch ajipears at first sio-ht 
to be destructive, for it devours buds 

and the blossoms of apple, cherry, 

peach, and plum trees, feeding on 

the stamens and pistils. Often I 

have seen a party of these birds 

thus destroying the blossoms of 

apple trees, and scattering the 

snowy petals about in a shower. 

They feed also upon the blossoms 

of the red maple, the seeds of such 

trees as the white ash, and the ber- 
ries of the red cedar, mountain ash, 

and other trees. But, as with the ^. ^ 

Grosbeak, the pruning or cutting of Fig. 8i.-i>u,„,e Fine, ™a.e. 

buds, blossoms, and seeds of trees -''^outone-half natural size. 

is not ordinarily excessive. On the other hand, this bird 
eats many of the seeds of the most destructive weeds, racr- 
weed being a favorite. The Purple Finch also destroys 
many orchard and woodland caterpillars. It is particularly 
destructive to plant lice and cankerworms. Its quest of 
jeed seeds is sometimes rcNvarded l3y some insects which it 
tinds on the ground, among them ground beetles and j.erhaps 
a tew cutworms. 

If a bird of this species is confined in a trap cage in sprino- 
and exposed in a conspicuous place, most of the Purile 
i^ inches m the neighborhood may be trapped. The o-roater 
part of the "Linnets" in many localities have been ta'ken in 
this way, despite the law and its officers, who are on the look- 



out for the lawbreakers. The birds have been sold in the bird 
stores or sent to Europe as red or gray Linnets. This may 
account for a local scarcity of this Finch in some places where 
it was formerly common. 

American Goldfinch. Yellow Bird. Wild Canary. Thistle Bird. 

As(ntlu(/iiins tridis. 
Length. — Aboiit five inches. 
Adult Male. — Bright, rich canary-yellow; crown black; wings and tail black, 

Adult Female. — Above, brownish-olive; below, grayish-white, tinged with 

yellow ; wings and tail much like those of male, but more brownish. 
Young. — Much like female. 

Male in Winter. — Like female, but retaining his black-and white wings and tail. 
j\Tggi_ — j^ cup of grass and moss, down-lmed ; built in a fork or branch-crotch 

from six to forty feet up. 
Eggs. — Bluish-white. 
Season. — Resident, but local and wandering m winter. 

The Goldfinch is ahnost as well known as the Bluebird, 
and is even more brilliant in coloring-. Its common call, 
per-cliic'-o-vee, given repeatedly, as it bounds through the 

air in graceful undula- 
tions, will be recognized 
by all who are at all 
familiar with bird life. 
This bright bird wan- 
ders among orchards and 
groves, and flits about 
the tiekls, pastures, and 
o-ardens long after other 
birds have begun their 
family cares ; for it is not 
until July that the Gold- 
finch usually undertakes 
to build its nest. Its 
brood once reared, all the 
meml)ers of the family 
may be seen wandering 
about once more. In the garden they are sometimes known 
as "salad birds," for they are particularly attentive to nice, 
crisp lettuce, from which at early morning they drink the dew, 
and perhaps eat a few tender morsels, no dou1)t paying for 

Fig. 82. — Americjiu Goldfinch, male, about 
one-half natural .size. 


them by destroying some of the insects that infest the garden. 
The Goldfinches are almost always in company, and commu- 
nicate with each other often with the most delightful cries ; a 
<3ommon sweet call is ichew-ee', ic/tew-ee', and there are many 
Canary-like tones. The song of the male is sweet, and he 
more nearly merits the name of Wild Canary than does the 
Yellow Warbler. At times of unusual transport the singer 
rises in air and flutters in circles, singing a sweeter and more 
varied melody than that usually uttered from a perch. 

The food of the Goldfinch is largely that of a typical 
Sparrow, as it feeds much on the seeds of weeds. Those 
seeds that are furnished with down, like the seed of the 
dandelion and thistle, are much souo'ht after by this bird. 
Mrs. Mabel Osgood Wright says that if yoxi desire the pres- 
ence of Goldfinches in the garden you must plant sunflowers, 
zinnias, and coreopsis. The seeds of wild clematis, wild 
sunflowers, and ragweed are much sought Ijy them. Gold- 
finches feed their 3'oung largelj^ on plant lice, caterpillars, 
small grasshoppers, and beetles. During the spring, when 
unhampered by family cares, and wandering through fields 
and orchards, they feed considerably on cankerworms. They 
sometimes frequent grain fields, where they are said to de- 
vour noxious insects, including the Hessian fly. Goldfinches 
often feed very largely in winter on the eggs of plant lice ; 
this has been observed many times. Mr. Kirkland exam- 
ined the stomach of one of these birds, and found it con- 
tained two thousand, two hundred and ten eggs of the white 
birch aphid. Chermes larcifoUa is a plant louse that is 
common on larches. It deposits great numljers of stalked 
eggs in April and May, ^vhich produce the young lice that 
feed on the trees in summer. Mr. Kirkland saw a flock of 
over forty Goldfinches going systematically over some in- 
fested larch trees, beginning at the top of a tree and work- 
ing graduall}" down to the lower branches, then repeating 
the performance on the next tree. They subsist largely in 
winter on the seeds of birches and those of the button bush, 
as well as on weed seeds. I have never heard of their trou- 
bling cultivated fruit or doing any injury except by pilfer- 
ing sunflower seeds. 



Only t\vo (Orioles) of the eight Massachusetts members 
of this family are distinctly arboreal. Although all the 
Blackbirds feed from trees, and Grackles nest there, they 
ordinarily obtain most of their food from the ground, and 
so must be considered among the birds of garden, field, or 
swamp. While all the Blackbirds congregate in large flocks 
in their migrations, the Orioles are never seen in such flocks. 
The Orchard Oriole is so rare in Massachusetts as to be of 
no economic importance. This leaves but one species to be 
considered amonsf the birds of woodland and orchard. 

Baltimore Oriole. Golden Robin. Fire Hang Bird. Hang Nest. 

Icterus galbnla. 

Length. — Seven and one-half to eight inches. 

Adult Male. — Head and neck all round, upper hack, wings, and tail hlack; 
wings marked with white ; termmal portions of three outer tail feathers 
yellow ; all other parts yellow to intense orange. 

Adult Female. — Much duller, the black largely replaced by brownish and the 
orange mainly by yellowish-olive ; throat sometimes marked with blackish. 

Immature Males. — Resemble the female. 

Nest. — A deep pouch (sometimes covered, with the entrance on the side), com- 
posed of tough fibers and long hairs interwoven ; usually hung from the 
terminal twigs of elms, but often in small fruit trees. 

Eggs. — Bluish-white, with irregular or zigzag lines of brown or black. 

Season. — May to September. 

This abundant and familiar species may be found wherever 
tall elms rear their heads along the village street. Even in 
the smaller cities this bird manages still to dwell, despite 
the obtrusive Sparrow and prowling cat. Its l)rilliant plum- 
age and wild, free notes have always been characteristic 
sounds of the New England farmstead ; for, although it 
prefers the elms, it frequents other shade and t)rchard trees, 
and even goes to the woods for food, though it seldom breeds 
there. Orioles increase in numbers with the advance of 
settlement and civilization. 

The clear, wild calls of this bird are as well known as its 
musical song. The song, however, varies so much in tone 
and rhythm that no pen can ever adequately describe its many 
variations. Nearly every male has a distinctive song of his 


own. When we have once learned to recognize the song 
of a certain individual bird, we are able to note his arrival 
annually. An Oriole with a peculiar song nested near my 
home in Worcester for four consecutive years. Only last 
year I heard a new bird-note in Andover, and found that the 
bird was a Baltimore Oriole, 
sino-iiiff a sons^ unlike that of 
an)' bird of any species that I 
had ever heard before. 

Its pendulous nest is usually 
suspended in such a manner 
that its natural enemies find it 
difficult of access, and the bird, 

a valiant fighter, does not hesi- pig. 83.— Baltimore Ork.le, about 

tate to attack its enemies with *'"'^-'^=''* "'"^'"'''^^ ''""• 

its sharp beak, — a weapon not to l)e despised. It does the 
fiercest battle with the Kingbird, and may be seen some- 
times struggling in mid air with this doughty adversary, 
until both birds fall to the ground breathless and exhausted. 
It sometimes succumbs, however, to the swarming numbers 
and extreme pugnacity of the "English *' Sparrow, and where 
the Sparrows become most numerous they often drive out 
the Orioles. The Oriole itself, however, is not always guilt- 
less in respect to other birds. Occasionally it destroys other 
nests, either to get material for building its own, or out of 
pure mischief. Mr. Mosher observed a male Oriole attempt- 
ing to drive another away from its nest. The stranger would 
make a rush at the nest, and then the owner would gTap[)le 
with him. This running fight was kept up for fully three 
hours. In the mean time the roo^ue Oriole went to a Red- 
start's nest, threw out the eggs, and threw down the nest. 
The next day an Oriole, prol)ably the same bird, was seen 
to throw out an egg from a Rod-eyed Vireo's nest, when he 
was set upon and driven away by the owners. Three other 
instances have been reported to me by trustworth}^ observers 
who have seen Orioles in the act of destroying the nests or 
eggs of other birds ; but, so fiir as I know, few writers have 
recorded such habits, and they are probably exceptional. 
Indeed, the Oriole's bad habits seem to be few. It occa- 



sionally helps itself to green peas ; but Dr. Harris tells us, 
in his work on insects injurious to vegetation, that this 
Oriole splits open the green pods for the sake of the weevil 
gru1)s contained in the peas, there])j greatly 
helping to prevent the spread of these noxious 
insects. Nuttall says that it takes the sac- 
charine nectar from fruit blossoms. It eats 
cherries, but seems to i)refer Juneberries and 

Fig. 84. -Pea ,, ' -r. /• -r. i 

weevil, much mulhemes. Professor Beal says that several 
enlarged. Qriolcs that Avcre shot in cherry trees had 

no cherries in their stomachs, ))ut some seeds of liubus and 

Juneberries. John Burroughs told me years ago that it was 

very destructive to ripe grapes at his place on the Hudson 

River, but I have 

never heard of its in- 
juring grapes in Mas- 
sachusetts ; it usually 

leaves us before most 

grapes are ripe. 
Havinof cataloo^ued 

the sins of this bird, 

let us see what its 

good qualities are. 

Professor Beal finds 

that eighty-three and 

four-tenths per cent. 

of the Oriole's food 

consists of animal 

m a 1 1 e r , caterpi liars 

forming thirty-four 

per cent, of the 

Av h () 1 e . Evidently 

the Oriole is one of 

the first among the 

Fig. 85. — ", h, ti'iit caterpillars; c, eggs; d, cocoon. 
The caterpillars are eaten by Orioles. 

birds known to de- 
stroy hairy caterpillars, and for this alone it may be ranked 
as one of the chief friends of the orchardist and forester. 
The tussock, gipsy, brown-tail, tent, and forest caterpillars, 


Fig. 86. — Click 
beetle, enlarged. 

the fall webworm, and even the spiny caterpillar of the 
mourning cloak butterfl}^ — all are greedily eaten by the 
Baltimore ; and it does not usually swallow many, but 
merely kills them and eats a small portion of the inner 
parts. It thus destroys many more than Avould be needed 
to satisfy its appetite were they swallowed whole, while at 
the same time no recognizable portion of the 
caterpillar can be found in the bird's stomach. 
This is a habit aljout which, like many others, 
we can learn only by observation. Mr. Nash 
received a number of reports from correspond- 
ents in 1900 regarding the clearance of tent 
caterpillars from trees by these birds. Thej' 
w^ere watched day after day, and in the end 
cleared the orchards of the pests. An Oriole was seen to 
finish one nest of small caterpillars and begin on another 
while the observer was eating his breakfast. Young Ori- 
oles are fed very largely on injurious moths and caterpillars. 
The Baltimore Oriole is worth its weight in ookl for its ser- 
vices in destroying both gipsy and brown-tail moths. The 

bird is particularly fond of snap 
beetles or click beetles, the par- 
ents of the destructive wireworms. 
Professor Beal says that more than 
five h u n d r e d species of these 
beetles are found in North Amer- 
ica, and their larvs^i are exceed- 
ingl}^ injurious to a great Aai'iety 
of plants, particularly to corn. 
As they attack the roots or work 
within the stalks, they are very difficult to control. ]Many 
birds eat either the beetles or larvte. The very injurious 
May beetles and other leaf-eating beetles are taken by the 
Oriole, among them the striped squash beetle or cucumber 
beetle, one of the most destructive pests of the garden. 
Bagworms, curcullos, wasps, l)ugs, plant lice, scale insects, 
March flies, and crane flies are among the insects eaten by 
this bird. 

Fig. 87. — Cucumber beetle, nnt- 
ural size; and curculios, much 
enlarged. Both are eaten by 

grass, and garden crops. 


The following, from Mr. Kirkland's notes, made at Mai- 
den in l<S9(i, sliows that this bird is of value in woodlands, for 
the observations were made in the woods : — 

A sawfly (probably Selandria^ is at present one of the insects most 
commonly devoured by the Baltimore Oriole. These birds are very 
abundant around the exi)eriment station, and 1 have rejieatedly seen them 
feeding- upon these sawllies, even as early as 4.30 one Ijright morning. 
By 6 or 7 o'clock these birds are Avell at work, feeding around the build- 
ing. I have seen them eat cankerworms, and, what was more interesting, 
devour a large Tortricid larva, which rolls the leaves of the wliite oak. 
This larva rolls the leaf around itself, thus forming a kind of cylinder, 
within which it feeds. Tlie Orioles i)ut their bills into one end of the 
cylinder without tearing the leaf, and pull out the larva. 

PLATE XIX. — Least Flycatcher on Nest. (Photograpli, from life, 
1)V J. Cliauucey Lj'ford.) 




This family consists of crested songless birds, tliat watch 
from dead limbs, posts, or other exposed perches, and take 
their prey mainly on the wing. They usually sit rather 
upright, with tail drooping, and wings in readiness for 
instant flight. The structure of the Flycatcher's bill and 
mouth is admirably adapted for the capture of winged insects. 
The bill is wide at the base, and the gape is deep and sur- 
rounded by so-called "bristles," which are of service in en- 
trapping flying insects. While some species take nearly all 
their food on the wnng, most of them also pick up insects 
from trees, shrubbery, and even from the groiuid. 

Nine species are found in Massachusetts, Init only four of 
these are generally common summer residents ; the others 
are either migrants, rare, or casual or local residents. 

Least Flycatcher. Chebec. 

E')np idonax minim us . 

Length. — Between five and five and one-half inches. 

Adult. — Above, usually dark olive-gray, often with a tinge of brown; nnder 

parts nearly white, shaded on the sides like the back ; yellowish on belly ; 

a broad eye rmg and two wing bars yellowish-white or grayish-white. — A soft cup ; usually in a crotch of bush or tree, from five to forty feet 

from the ground. 
Egg^. ~ White. 
Season. — May to August. 

This is the common little Flj^catcher of the orchard, vil- 
lage, and roadside. Its usual note, cheJjec', one of the char- 
acteristic sounds of May, comes before the apple blossoms, 
as a promise of summer. Few of these birds are seen early 
in May, while the weather is cool ; but the first warm, south 
wind usually brings a multitude, and nearly every orchard 
harbors a pair or more. The bird sits quite upright, occa- 
sionally throwing up its head as if to sing, as it utters its 



quick, emphatic note. At intervals it flits out after its fly- 
ing victims, and, returning again to its perch on some old 
apple tree, awaits, with quivering wings, another opportunity. 
It prefers open woods and orchards, or shade trees growing 
on dry land, rather than dense forests or swamps. It is 
rather pugnacious, and, though it rarely molests other small 
birds unless they encroach on its domain, it is very brave 
in defence of its nest and young. The following, from Mr. 
Mosher's notes, shows how it will defend its rights : — 

May 15, 1899. — A pair of Least Flycatchers had just begun their 
nest in an apple tree by jjlaciug some bunches of cottony material and 
a few strings and straws. A female Oriole, happening along, appro- 
priated the string for her own use, and carried it away. The Fly- 
catchers came soon after, and were very much disturbed on finding the 
nest materials scattered, and liad quite a talk over it. In a few moments 
the Oriole came back for more string, when both Flycatchers flew at her 
and snapped their bills savagely in her face. The Oriole did not seem 
to mind them much, and kept on going toward the nest. When the 
Flycatchers found they could not searcher in this way, they both attacked 
her fiercely, and pulled out quite a number of feathers, keeping up a 
steady scold. The Oriole attempted to retaliate, but when she attacked 
one of the Flycatchers the other struck her from the other side, and 
several times she was knocked completely off the branch. Finally she 
beat a precipitate retreat, one of the Flycatchers chasing her out of 

The call note of the Chebec is a ivit, and the bird has a 
more subdued note, aj;e», or v:/teu, often several times re- 
peated. In the mating season the male sometimes utters a 

series of twittering notes while 
hovering over the tree in which 
his mate is sitting. 

Like all Flycatchers, this spe- 
cies catches flies, among them 
the common house fly, and also 
some useful parasitic flies. It 
is by no means confined to 
such food, however, but is par- 
ticularly destructive to small beetles in flight, and in this 
respect it is most useful. It ca])tures many moths, partic- 
ularly those species that fl}- by day, as the gipsy moth ; but 

Fig. 88. — Gipsy nidtli, male, natural 
size. Olteii cauglit Ijy the Least 


it also picks up many which are stirring onh^ very early in 
the morning or at evening. The bird v^^atches for cater- 
pillars, and when it sees one stir, flies from its perch and 
snaps up the luckless creature. This bird, in common with 
other Flycatchers, picks up many caterpillars 
that, to escape AVarblers and other enemies, 
s])in down on their webs or droi^ from the „. 

^ ^ Fig. 89. — (an- 

trees. The greatest service our little Fly- kerworm, nat- 
catcher renders to man consists of the destruc- 
tion of such orchard pests as boring beetles, bark l)eetles5 
the fly of the railroad worm, codling moths, gipsy moths, 
cankerworms, and other caterpillars. 

Nuttall says that when the young are out of the nest they 
move about in company with the old birds, eating whortle- 
berries and cornel berries. 

Wood Pewee. 

Contopus virens. 

Length. — Six to about six and one-half inches. 

Adult. — Tail notched ; bill black above, light below ; upper parts dark brownish- 

graj'^; two whitish wing bars; under parts whitish, the sides washed with 

dark gray, showing a light line down the centre of the breast. 
Nest. — Rather flat, and usuallj^ saddled on a nearly horizontal limb, from ten to 

forty feet up, beautifully decorated externally with lichens. 
Eggs. — Creamy white ; handsomely marked, with a ring of dark spots around the 

larger end. 
Season . — May to September. 

The Wood Pewee is, as its name im})lies, a bird of either 
coniferous or deciduous woodland ; but it seems to prefer 
the more open, deciduous woods, })articularly the oaks, on 
which its nest is often placed. It usually perches on dead 
branches at some height from the ground, and flies out to 
some distance, taking one or many insects at each sally. 

The note of this bird is one of the characteristic sounds of 
the forest shades, and is heard throughout the da}^ in those 
cool retreats where the heat of the sunnner sun is softened 
by the interposition of umbrageous foliage. Here, where 
sunshine and shadow fleck the leafy ground, the Pewee's call 
sounds ever pensive, sweet, and clear. The bird is thought 
by some to be of a sad disposition ; but the sadness of its 
call, which harmonizes so well with its forest environment, 



is deceptive, for the Pewee is evidently happy, and delights 
in its plaintive tones. Its common call is pee'-a-icee' , fol- 
lowed frequently hy pe'e'-er' , uttered in a drawling manner, 

and with considerable intervals 
between the phrases. Bendire 
says that the male has a low, 
twitterino- warble in the matin «: 
season. The bird also tiritx and 
twitters from time to time. 
The nest merits more than the usual 
)rief description. It is usualh^ saddled 
on a dead limb, the outside adorned, 
like that of the Hummingbird's nest, 
with crustaceous lichens, so that when 
seen from below it looks like a knot on 
the branch. It is largely made of fine 
grasses and fil)ers, and often lined with 
them. As the nest is not deep, and 
Fig. 90.— Wood Pewee, rests ou the top of the branch, the 

one-half natural size. bottom is USUally SO tlliu that it WOUld 

fall out were it not supported by the bark. 

The food of the Pewee consists very largely of flying 

insects, but it often flutters about the 

foliage, picking ott' caterpillars and plant 

lice. Daily in the early morning and 

in the dusk of evening, even in the un- 
certain gloom of the deep woods, this 

bird pursues its prey unerringly. Fh- 

ingf beetles and ants, butterflies and 

moths, flies, gnats, mosquitoes, — all are 
taken. The Pewee is useful in the de- 
struction of small moths and their larva\ 
The male canker worm moths, tussock 
moths, Tortricid moths, and gipsy moths 
are conunonly eaten, while the young birds 
are fed largely at times on cankerworms. 
This bird takes some parasitic flies, and 
Bendire records an instance where it pil- 
fered young trout from a hatcher^^ 

Fig. 91. — Tortricid or 
leaf-rolling niotli, natu- 
ral size. 

Fig. 92. — Tussock 
or vaporcr moth, 
natural size. 


PhcEbe. Phcebe Bird. Pewee. Bridge Pewee. 

Haijornis -phuebe. 

Length. — About seven inches. 

Adult Male. — Above, dull olive-brown ; head dark, almost blackish ; sides, and 

often the breast, shaded witli same ; tail notched ; bill entirely dark. 
Xest. — IJuilt of mud, mossed over; grass or feather lin^d ; ]daced on some beam 

of building or bridge, under the edge of a high bank or rock, or in a cave. 
Eggs. — Wliite. 
Season. — April to October. 

The common Phoebe is known throughout the State. It 
is as familiar and homelike as the Swallows, and deserves 
all the regard accorded it as a friend to man. This liird feeds 
almost entirely u})on insects ; hence its pref- 
erence for the vicinity of water and its ap- 
parent fondness for streams, for in such 
locations its source of food supply is 
augmented b}^ the many insects that, 
like mos(|uitoes, pass the earlier })art 
of their lives in water, and emeroe 
later to ^y about within rano;e of 
the Ph(pbe's quick and accurate 
eye. Perched on 
a dead twig, a 
mullein stalk, a 
post, or so m e 
similar vantage 
point, Plux^be 
scans the sur- 
rounding space with eager eye, marking each insect that 
comes within her field of vision ; and Avhen her eye rests on 
one she covets, be it beetle, moth, or fly, she quickly leaves 
her perch and immolates the victim. 

This Flycatcher, unlike the Wood Pewee, hawks about 
habitually near the ground, though it often takes a higher 
perch and flight. While sitting it often jets the tail, throw- 
ing it up even higher than it is represented in the cut ; but 
usually the tail is held low. The Phoebe utters a loud chip, 
and it has a variet}^ of softer tones : but the note most com- 
mon I3' heard maybe given ^^//ee'ie, phee'hrizzy, — the first 

Fig. 93. — Phu'lie, one-half natural size. 



Fig. 94. — Moth of tlie spring oankerworm; a, 
male; 6, female; c, d, e, struetui'al details. 

wiry note of each })hrase longest, and heavily accented ; the 
last short, and with a tailing intlection. In the early spring 
this bird occasionally flutters about in a circle or rises high 
in air, repeating its notes very rapidly, with variations, as 
If attempting a flight-song. The Phwbe, like the Wood 

Pewee, is able, because 
of some peculiarity of 
its sight, to pursue and 
catch insects in the dusk 
of morning or evening. 
Its note is among the 
first to be heard on a 
summer's morning, and 
may even mingle with the last notes of the Owl or those of 
the AVhip-poor-will. I have heard it shortly after 3.30 a.m. 
This characteristic makes the Phoebe extremely useful, as it 
is thus able to catch such nocturnal moths and other insects 
as ordinarily remain hidden in daylight, and seldom venture 
to fly except in dusk or darkness. It feeds 
on a variety of pests. Among them are the 
imported elm-leaf beetle, the striped cucum- 
ber beetle, the cankerworm moth, the cut- 
worm moths, the lirown-tail and the gipsy 

Professor Beal, who has examined a large 
number of Phoebes' stomachs, finds the bird 
to be almost exclusively insectivorous. The insects eaten 

belong mainly to noxious species 
of beetles, including May beetles, 
click beetles, and weevils, grass- 
hoppers, wasps, and man}- of the 
flies that trouble cattle. The 
vegetable food is unimportant, 
consisting mainly of a few seeds, 
wild cherries, elderberries, and 
juniper berries. Now and then a raspberry or blackberry 
is taken. In the spring of ISIJS Mr. C. J. IVIaynard found 
that some of these ])ii'ds had their stomachs filled with haw- 
thorn berries. Gentry says that they feed on horseflies. 

Fig. 95. — Wood- 

boring click 
beetle, enlarged. 

Fig. 96. — r>n>\vn tail niotli. 


house flies, mosquitoes, and vast numbers of moths and but- 
terflies in Ijoth larval and adult stages. Bendire asserts that 
Dr. Ralph told him that in Florida the Phoebe alights on the 
backs of cattle and follows them around, catching the flies 
on the animals, and fluttering above them in search of in- 
sects. The only harmful habit of this bird that I have heard 
of is also mentioned by Bendire, who says that it is said to 
eat trout fry. 

As the young of the Phoebe are fed enormous numbers of 
insects, as two broods are raised each year, and as in settled 
districts the bird has largely forsaken its natural nesting 
places for the habitations of man, it is now one of the most 
beneficial species. From year to year, as has been proven 
repeatedly, the bird returns to its favorite haunts ; and the 
young birds, though driven away in the fall by the parents, 
like to find, when possible, a nesting site near their old home. 
This gives us a hint which may be utilized to increase the 
numbers of these birds about our farms. 

Kingbird. Bee Martin. 

Tyr annus tyrannus. 

Length. — About eight inches. 

Adult. — Above, very dark gray, crown and tail nearly black ; tail feathers 

broadly tipped with white ; a concealed orange or vermillion patch on 

crown ; whig feathers and outer tail feathers white-edged ; below, white, 

darkening on sides of breast. 
Nest. — A bulky structure of straw, rootlets, strings, feathers, etc. ; usually from 

ten to twenty feet up in an orchard tree in field or pasture ; sometimes m 

a bush on the marshy shore of a pond or river ; rarely on a post, bridge, or 

Eggs. — Creamy white, heavily marked mainly toward the larger end with brown 

and lilac. 
Season. — May to September. 

The Kingbird is almost as well known as the Robin or 
Bluebird. It is common throughout most of the State, 
except in heavily wooded regions. Bold and fearless, yet 
confident of man's protection, it seems to prefer the neigh- 
borhood of human habitations. It seeks its winged victims 
by taking its stand on some orchard tree, a fence wire, a 
post, or even a telegraph Avire, where it sits turning its head 
from side to side, always on the watch. The perfection of 
this bird's sight is illustrated by a statement made by Miss 



Florence Merriam. She said that a Kingbird was seen to 
start from a telegraph pole one hundred and twenty-five feet 
from the observer, and fly to within twenty-five feet of him, 
for an insect that was invisible to the man at that distance. 
If a Crow or Hawk comes in sight, the Kingbird at once 
launches into the air with cries of fury, and chases the enemy 


Fig. 97. — Kingbird, one-lialf natural size. 

of its young beyond the confines of its chosen domain. Pro- 
fessor Beal relates an instance where a Hawk that had stooped 
to some young Turkeys was driven away by a pair of King- 
birds, and forced to give up its prey. The Kingbird possesses 
such remarkable powers of flight, and is so quick in turning, 
that under favorable conditions it can with impunity strike 
the swiftest Hawk and get away. The Kingbird's endeavor 
is to rise above its enemy and beat it toward the earth. This 
is its only feasible plan. I once saw a Kingbird attack a 
Cooper's Hawk that was flying low over a field. The small 
fighter overtook the Hawk at once and landed on its back, 
but after a time the Hawk managed to rise to some heio-ht and 
then shot off" diai»:onally downward, leavino^ the Kinol:)ird so 
fast that it ai)peared as if stationary in the air. This suggests 


what might possibly happen were the Hawk to rise quickly 
above its adversary. Nevertheless, the Kingbird fears him 
not. If an Eagle appears near the Kingbird's nest he is 
immediately assailed by all the warrior tribe and driven in- 
gloriously from the field. The Kingbird thus acts as pro- 
tector and friend to its weaker neighbors and to the farmer's 
poultry and Pigeons. 

The brave bird sometimes does not hesitate to attack 
even man himself in defence of its nest. It used to be a 
favorite pastime with the l)oys on one farm to throw up a 
hat near a Kingbird's nest and see the birds attack it. I 
have seen a boy repeatedly struck on the head by the parent 
birds when he was climbino; toward their nestful of young. 
Nevertheless, the Kingbird, in harrjdng his neighbors, some- 
times meets his match in the Catbird, Oriole, Martin, or 
little Humminiibird. The followin": interestins: account of 
the nesting of a Kingbird in a rather unusual situation is 
taken from ^Mr. Kirkland's notes : — 

June 29, 189G. — Near the Shady Hill station, Bedford, Mass., a 
Kingbird has built its nest directly on the top of a fence post, and in a 
location where there is no shade whatever on the nest during the middle 
of the day. The fence stands beside a roadway, where in early sum- 
mer teams pass a hundred times a day. The fence is made of old rail- 
road ties or posts, with barbed wire running between them. The nest 
is on the corner post, and from this corner a board fence extends at 
right angles down to the railroad track. The top of the post on which 
the nest is located is about six by eight inches, with a depression in the 
center where the wood has decayed. The nest occujjies this depression, 
and is made of grass, string, and cotton waste. At the time of my visit 
to Bedford there were four partly fledged young in the nest, and these 
the old Ijirds were constantly feeding. From their vantage ground on 
the telegraph wires near ))y they would swoop down, catch an insect 
or two, and then II3' to the nest. I could approach within six feet of 
the birds. I was told by Mr. Beard, owner of Shady Hill nurserv, that 
daring the hottest weather one of the parent birds would stand over the 
young ones, and, with wings outstretched and vibrating, would shade 
them and keep them cool. 

In this large nursery there were man}' small trees, but 
scarcely a tree large enough for the Kingbird's nest. The 
insects on the young trees pr()l)ably proved so attractive as 



a food supply that the l)irds phiced their nest on the post, 
as the most accessible nesting place in the midst of plent}^ 
Other similar instances have been recorded. 

The notes of this bird consist of a series of shrill and 
varied twitters, somewhat resembling those of a Swallow, 
In spring it often mounts into the air, and, rising high, fre- 
quently falls for a distance and then recovers itself, twit- 
tering fiercely all the time, as if engaged with an imaginary 
antagonist. It appears to be pursuing insects, which it some- 
times follows to considerable heights, and having a frolic at 
the same time. In warm weather it will sometimes })lunge 
into the water, and, rising again, shake its plumage like a 
Fish Hawk. 

The Kingbird, although })rimarily a feeder on Hj'ing insects, 
can adapt itself to the pursuit of other food. In flj'ing about 
it often takes insects by skimming and fluttering 
over water, or by picking them from the grass 
or trees. After the severe rainstorm of June, 
1903, when the air was swept clear of all flying 
insects by torrents of rain, Mr. Outram Bangs 
saw Kingl>irds picking up from the ground dead 
or dying insects. 
They sometimes alight on plowed lands, and })ick up grubs 
and myriapods ; they will also eat wild berries and seeds. 
Very large beetles are taken, such as May beetles and 
Cetonias, as Avell as some of the beneficial tiger 
beetles and ground beetles. Weevils of both 
grain and fruit, click beetles, grasshopjiers and 
crickets, wasps, wild bees, ants, and flies are 
prominent among the food materials of this 
bird. Among the flies taken are house flies 
and several species that trouble cattle ; but 

Fig. 98.— Ce- 

tonia, natural 

Fig. 99.— May 

IiL'ftle, natural 

smaller insects, like mosquitoes, gnats, and 
midgets, are not ignored. Leaf hoppers and 
many other bugs are taken ; and a great variety of cater- 
pillars, mostly of the hairless species, are eaten or fed to the 
younof. This bird is destructive to moths of many kinds, 
among them the gipsy moth. In two and one-half hours 
seven of these birds were seen to take seventy-nine male and 


tweiitv-four female gipsy moths, and they killed in that time 
a great many more that could not be positively identified. 

The Kingbird, therefore, is particularly beneficial about 
the garden and orchard, for it eats very little, if anj^, culti- 
vated fruit. The only bad habit attributed to this bird is 
that of killing honey bees, and even while catching bees it 
seems about as likely to do good as harm. Professor Beal 
states that a bee raiser in Iowa, havins; o-ood reason to believe 
that the Kingbirds were feeding upon his bees, shot a number 
near his hives, but an expert entomologist could find no trace 
of bees in their stomachs. The investigations of the Depart- 
ment of Agriculture seem to indicate that the Kingbird does 
not ordinarily reduce the aggregate number of working bees. 
Only fourteen out of two hundred and eightj^-one stomachs 
examined contained any remains of honey bees. There were 
but fifty bees found, forty of which were drones, only four 
were positively identified as workers, and six were so much 
broken as to render the distinguishing of sex impossible. 
Professor Beal finds that the Kingbird feeds on robber flies, 
— insects which prey largely on other insects, especially 
honey bees. He considered nineteen robber flies contained 
in the Kingbirds' stomachs to be more than an equivalent for 
the working bees found ; and the destruction of drones l)y 
Kingbirds is a benefit. On the whole, it seems probable 
that, while the Kingbirds eat some bees, they confine their 
bee-eating mainly to the drones, and also protect the bees 
by killing the moths and flies that prey upon them. 

Dragon flies, which are believed to be useful insects, are 
killed by Kingbirds, but apparently more from necessity 
than choice, as the bird seems to pa}^ little attention to them 
when insects more to its taste are plentiful. In studying 
the insect enemies of the gipsy moth, it was noticed that 
Kingbirds occasionally caught ichneumon flies. It was seen, 
however, that at the time when most of the beneficial ich- 
neumon flies were depositing their eggs in the caterpillars, 
the Kingbirds were absent ; but when these flies had done 
their work, when the moths had begun to emerge, and when 
an injurious or secondary parasite, Tlieronia rnehinocephaJa, 
was depositing its eggs in the living bodies of the beneficial 


primary parasites, then numbers of Kingbirds were attracted 
by the flying motlis. It seems quite probable, tlierefore, that 
the destruction of parasitic insects by Kingbirds is as lil^ely 
to be beneficial in such cases as injurious.^ As about ninety 
per cent, of the Kingbird's food consists of insects mostly 
injurious ; as it has never yet been shown to be positively 
harmful in any respect ; and as it acts as a protector to small 
birds and poultry on the farm, — there need be nothing further 
said to commend the bird to the farmer. 


The Hummingbirds are popularly believed to feed solely 
upon the nectar of flowers ; but they are probably of con- 
siderable economic importance, for the reason that, because 
of their small size and long, slender beaks, they capture 
many tiny insects that conceal themselves among the blos- 
soms and foliage. Only one species of this distinctively 
American family has been found in Massachusetts. 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird. 
Trochilas colubris. 

Length. — Aboiit three and three-fourths inches. 

Adult Male. — Above, bright, glossy green ; throat metallic ruby-red ; lower parts 

Female and Young. — Similar, but without red on throat. 
Nest. — A shallow little cup of soft, downy materials, covered externally with 

lichens, looking like a "moss-covered" knot on a branch; from five to 

sixty feet up. 
Eggs. — "White. 
Season. — May to September. 

This dainty, feathered gem, the smallest of all native birds, 
comes to us from the tropics when the south wind blows in 
May, and when bursting buds and flowers first aftbrd it the 
honey, nectar, and tiny insects on which it lives. Often 
when the cherry trees are in bloom many of these little sprites 

* It would seem from the above that the Kingbird was doubly useful: first, in 
killing the gipsy moth ; second, in protecting the parasites of the gipsy motli from 
secondary parasites. But there may be some doubt regarding the liabits of this 
Theronia. It is named by Professor Fernald (Monograph of the Gipsy Moth, 
Forbush-Fernald, 181X), p. 37()) as one of the most useful primary i)arasites of the 
gipsy moth, altliougli he states that Mr. C. E. Bailey cajitured a sjiecimen in the 
act of stinging a giiisy i>ui)a that was already parasitized by a dipterous insect. 


may be seen buzzing about among the petals, with a sound 
like that of huge bees. In power of flight the Hummer 
surpasses all other birds. The little body, divested of its 
feathers, is no larger than the end of one's finger, but the 
breast muscles which move the wings are enormous in pro- 
portion to the size of the bird. They form a large part of the 
entire trunk, and their power is such that they can vibrate 
the inch-long feathers of those little wings with such rapidity 
that the human eye can scarcely follow the bird when it is 
moved to rapid flight by fear or passion. 

The Rubj^-throat is exceedingly pugnacious in the nesting 
season. The males fight with one another, and, secure in 
their unequalled powers of flight, tliey attack other and larger 
birds. When the Hummingbird says " Go ! " other birds stand 
not upon the order of their going, but go at once ; while the 
little warrior sometimes accelerates their flight, for his sharp 
beak is a weapon not to l)e despised. Even the Kingbird 
goes when the warlike Hummer comes ; the "English" Spar- 
row flees in terror ; only the Woodpeckers stand their ground. 
When a person approaches the nest, the sharp squeaking or 
chirping of the angry Hummer is sometimes followed by the 
bird itself, for it has been known to dart at its human visitors. 
It seems to have an aversion for the diurnal sphinx moths, or 
"Hummingbird moths," as they are called, and frequently 
drives them away from its favorite flowers. Audubon says it 
is sometimes chased bv " bumble " bees, but easily avoids them. 
Miss Florence Merriam, quoting Mrs. Bagg, described a fierce 
battle between Hummers and these large bees, in which the 
combatants on both sides fouo:ht until exhausted, tearing- to 
pieces, in the mean time, the flowers among which they fought. 
The bee, with its poisoned lance, must be a dangerous antag- 
onist for so small a bird. 

The Hummingbird's nest, when newly built, with its two 

Later, Mr. Bailey found that the Tlieroiiias which he M'atched invariably stiing 
pupre that were dead, and contained parasitic pup;e. Mr. F. H. Mosher has since 
made observations which confirm those of Mr. Bailey. This may either indicate 
that some one is in error, or it may be considered i^ood ground for the hypothesis 
that this Theronia may be at one time or place a primary parasite, and at anotlier 
a secondary parasite. If this is possible, it further complicates the relations be- 
tween the Kingbird and the gipsy moth. 



tiny egg.s, about the .size and color of pea beans, lying on 
their soft, downy bed, is the prettiest bird home to be found 
in our orchards or woodlands. The nest is often l)uilt in an 
apple or pear tree in the orchard, sometimes in a rose l)ush 
ill the garden, not quite as often in the woods ; but I once 
found two nests, with eo^o^s, in hisfh trees on the face of a 
precipitous clifl* overlooking a lake. Although the nest in 
such situations is usually covered with lichens taken from 
the surrounding rocks or trees, the birds sometimes use other 
material. JNlrs. JNIabel Osoood Wrioht avers that she found a 
nest in the top of a spruce, some sixty feet from the ground, 
and that the nest was covered with flakes of spruce bark, 
instead of lichens. The nest is begun in June, and is about 
five or six days in the building. The eggs are inculmted 
a])out eight or ten days, and the young remain in the nest 
usually, I think, about three weeks, although Audubon's 
observations do not agree with this. They are very tiny 
when first hatched, and grow at first rather slowly, for birds ; 
but later they grow so rapidly that the nest, which is at first 
a neat cup, is extended by their swelling bodies until its 
interior more nearl}^ resembles a saucer than a cup. 

The nest represented in the accompanying illustrations 
was built in an ai)])le tree in Concord. On Jul}^ o, when 

the young were probably 
al)out two weeks old, the first 
sketch was made. As will 
be seen (Fig. 100), the birds 
were still very small, and cov- 
ered with down and pinfeathers. 
Their bills were quite short, and the 
(luills of the wings were not developed. 
The sketch taken just a week later (Fig. 
102) shows them with their bills fully 
developed, their bodies well-feathered and 
full-winged, nearly ready for flight. As the 
3^oung Hummers are fed mainly on minute in- 
sects and small or young spiders, a large number of the tiny 
creatures must be sacrificed to supply the aliment necessary 
for the astounding growth of a week. Some authors assert 

Fig. 100. — Huni- 
miiigljirds about 
two weeks old, 
one-half natural 


that the male l:»ird assists the female in the care of the young ; 
but in my experience the male is always absent, and the 
female alone provides for the young ftunily. The feeding of 
such a family is a most inter- 
esting proceeding, as the birds 
are fed by regurgitation until 
the very day before they leave 
the nest. The following re- 
marks on the appearance of 
the young birds and their 
feeding are taken from my 
notes of July, 1905 : — 

How perfect are these little 
fledgelipg wanderers, in their tiny, 
moss-covered cup, shaded from the 
southern sun rays by the green 
leaves which overhang and sur- 
round the nest. Their dainty new feathers, of but a few days' growth, 
have been touched by the tender mother's breast alone or the gentle dew 
of heaven. Their inscrutable, brilliant dark eyes flash quick glances 
all around ; no motion escaj^es them. One leans forward from the 
nest and attempts to pick a moving aphis from the limb. Their whole 
bodies throb quickly with ' the fast-surging tide of hot life pulsing 
through their veins. Now, with a boom like a great bee, the mother 
suddenly appears out of the air as she darts almost in my face. I am 
standing within two feet of the nest, and she hangs on l)uzzing wing, 
inspecting me, then perches on a limb just alwve my head, then on 
another a few feet away, her head raised and neck craned to its fullest 
extent. Buzzing about from place to place, she inspects me, until, 
satisfied, she finally alights on the edge of the nest at the usual place, 
where her constant coming has detached a piece of lichen and trodden 
down the fabric of the edge. The little birds raise themselves with flut- 
tering wings, and the i^arent, rising to her full height, turns her bill 
almost directly downward, pushes it into the oi)en beak of the young, 
and l)y Avorking her gullet and throat discharges the food through the 
long, hollow bill as from a squirt gun. 

Fig. 101. — Mother bird feeding young, 
one-half natural size. 

Two days later, on the morning of the 11th, when Mr. 
Brewster went to the nest, one young bird had gone, l)ut the 
other sat on the edge. As he came up, it "flew like a bullet" 
.up to the roof of the barn, a few rods away. 

Undoubtedl}^ the Hummingbirds live to some extent on 



the nectar of flowers. They are fond of sweetened waters 
and the sweet sap of niai)le trees, }'et the greater part of 
their food is prol)ablv insects. They are so active in the 
pursuit of insects and feed on such small species tliat it is 
difficult to observe their fly-catching habits ; but they have 

Fig. 102. — Young Hunimiugbirds nearly fledged, about two-thirds natural size. 

been detected, as Wilson says, darting l)y the hour among 
the swarms of little insects that dance in the air on fine 
summer evenings. I have watched individuals hovering 
about the branches of trees and })icking oft' small insects, 
apparently plant lice, or very small spiders. When kept for 
a time in contiiienient they have shown a likinof for such flies 
and gnats as could be found in their limited quarters ; and 
almost invai-iably when stomachs have been examined they 
have contained small winged insects or spiders, or lioth. 
Wilson, who opened " great numbers " of these birds, found 


them filled with insects al)Out three times out of four. Dr. 
Warren records the examination of sixtv-two Hummint::- 
bird stomaclis. The food contents were main!)- small spiders, 
beetles, or other insects; small worms and flies were also 
noted, but none was specifically identified. 


This family comprises a highly specialized group of birds, 
the more typical of which are peculiarly fitted to secure their 
food by digging into the trunks or limbs of trees, in search 
of ants and other \vood-l)oring insects Avliich cut channels 
under the bark and into the wood. The feet of most Wood- 
peckers are four-toed, two toes being disposed in front and 
two behind. Some species, however, have but three toes. 
The tail is composed of stift', hard feathers, with strong shafts. 
These modifications of the foot and tail assist the bird in 
climbing perpendicularly and in clinging to the bark of trees. 
While climbing or feeding, the two pairs of toes with their 
strong, sharp claws enable the bird to grip the bark and hold 
on, while the strong, sharp-pointed quills of the tail serve 
as a brace or support. The l)ird is thus more fully equi})ped 
for climbing than a telegraph lineman. The claws and tail 
take the place of the man's hands and spurs. But the Wood- 
pecker's tools for drilling into the wood and extracting its 
living food are more wonderful than its climbing apparatus. 

If any one who had never heard of a Woodpecker were to 
be told that the bird drilled holes into the solid wood by 
l)eating its head against a tree, he would be likelj^ to regard 
the story as fiction. Nevertheless, that is very nearly what 
the Woodpecker actually does. The highly specialized ap|)a- 
ratus that will permit of such constant hammering of beak 
and head against the trees without })roducing concussion of 
the brain, or the least inconvenience or injury to the bird, 
is certainly among the most wonderful features of bird 

A moment's reflection will convince any one that, unless 
the AVoodpecker's skull were built on an unusual plan, it 
could not withstand such hard and continuous hammering. 
If we watch a Woodpecker drilling, we shall see that he 



draws back his head and body to the greatest possible dis- 
tance from the tree, and then strilves with all his force, send- 
ing his strong l)eak powerfully into the wood. The skull of 
the typical Woodpecker is very thick and hard. Its connec- 
tion with the beak is strong, but at the same time springy, 
and somewhat jar-deadening. The membrane which sur- 
rounds the brain is very thick and strong. 

Maurice Thompson says that no person can doubt, after 
an examination of Woodpecker habits, that the birds are 
hard of hearing. He apparently believes that the continual 
concussion has deadened this sense. However this may be, 
it has not interfered with the bird's sight, which seems pre- 
ternaturally keen . 

The bill is shaped somewhat like a stout chisel, and is used 
as one. It strikes out small chips, and so drills its way, if 

necessary, even to the 
heart of the tree ; but 
the most highly spe- 
cialized organ of the 
Woodpecker is its 
tongue, which serves 
as an accessory to the 
bill in brino-inor to 
light the deep-lurking 
enemies of the tree. 
The subjoined cut of the Woodpecker's skull (Fig. 103) 
shows the tongue slightly protruding from the open beak. 
Ordinarily the tongue lies in the depression of the lower 
mandible. It is slender, nearly round, and its upper sur- 
face is covered with very minute 
spines, directed backward ; its tip 
is as hard as horn, Avitli many 
strong barbs, which make of it a 
weapon more effective in its way 
than a fish spear. The machinery 
for thrusting it forth is most perfect 

Fig. 103. 

■Skull and tongue of Woodpecker. 
(From Sumuels.) 

Fig. 104. — Spearlikc tongue-tip 
of Downy Woodpecker, much 

The bone of the 
tongue, called the hyoid, has two branches wdiich pass down- 
ward and backward from the lower jaw, up and around the 
back of the head, and over the top of the skull, where they 


either pass into the nostrils and so on in channels down 
toward the end of the upper mandible of the beak, or, turn- 
ing to one side, coil themselves about the bony part of the 
eyeball. These branches of the hyoid are enclosed in 
sheaths which fit into a groove on the top of the skull. By 
means of this apparatus the tongue may be extended so 
that, in the Hairy Woodpecker, it may reach an inch and 
a half beyond the end of the bill. The tongue is propelled 
forward at need by powerful muscles, so that when the bird 
has drilled to the Ihutow of a boring beetle it can open the 
beak slightly, protrude the tongue, spear the insect and 
draw it out and into the mouth. Birds which possess such 
implements for the destruction of boring insects nuist be 
immensely serviceable to man, for borers are difficult for 
man to control. 

The utility of Woodpeckers is now quite generally recog- 
nized by foresters, and by entomologists who study forest in- 
sects. Dr. A. D. Hoi)kins, the most active and experienced 
forest entomologist in the United States, is quoted by Dr. 
E. P. Felt as asserting that Woodpeckers are the most im- 
portant enemies of spruce bark beetles, and appear to be of 
inestimable value to the spruce timber interests of the north- 
east. Dr. Hopkins also states that Woodpeckers are the 
principal enemies of the destructive sap-wood borers. 

It is sometimes argued that Woodpeckers are of little use 
as protectors of trees, since they never dig into living wood. 
This reasoning is based on an error, due to 
lack of careful observation. Nuttall speaks 
of a Flicker that dug a nest hole eighteen 
inches deep in a green sassafras. Dr. Ho})- 
kins figures a section of a living tree in which 
a hole four inches long, two wide, and five 
deep had been made l)y Woodpeckers in their 
search for boring larvfe. According to the Fig. io5.— Apine 
annual wood rings around the entrance of the 
cavity, the tree recovered and lived at least fifteen jears after 
the bird captured the borers. The work of Woodpeckers on 
living trees does not ordinarily attract much notice. They 
seldom need to dig far into live trees for borers, for most 


species that infest live trees are found during a part or all of 
their lives just under the bark or in the sap-wood not very 
far from the surface ; and the Woodpecker can drill a small 
hole into the burrow, insert its open beak, and 
with its toniiue spear and extract the insect. 
The wound soon heals, leaving no noticeable 
trace . A Woodpecker may thus reach insects 
at a depth of from one to four inches, accord- 
ing to the size of the bird. Dead trees, how- 
ever, are riddled with borers in all their parts, 
Pio- 106 -Pales ^"^ ^^^^ birds are obliged to delve deeply to 
weevil, a destruc- flnd them ; therefore, the work of the l)irds 

tive pine insect, . i i • .1 

eaten by Wood- iH dead trccs IS uiost noticcablc. 

P®*'''*^^*- The chief value of the Woodpeckers con- 

sists in the fact that when they find a tree infested with bor- 
ers they are likely to keej) at work upon it until no more 
larvje can be found. Thus thcA' often save the tree, and 
check an incipient outbreak of borers. Woodpeckers so en- 
gaged sometimes destroy })arasites of boring insects. Such 
destruction of useful insects by these birds is of little conse- 
quence ; for when the birds destroy the grubs, the parasites 
are not needed. When the birds are too few in numbers to 
prevent an increase of boring insects, the parasites also have 
a similar innnunity from the attacks of birds, and so are free 
to exert their influence in restraining the borers. If Wood- 
peckers should eat an undue number of i)arasites, they might 
then be doing harm ; but such cases probably seldom occur. 
The Woodpeckers are also useful in providing homes for 
other birds. Most Woodpeckers each year hollow out from 
the wood a home for their young, and rarely, if ever, use it 
more than one season. Some species, of which the Downy 
and the Hairy Woodpeckers are familiar examples, also 
excavate holes to which they retire for shelter during winter 
nights. The larger Woodpeckers often make deep holes in 
dead trees while digging out large borers or colonies of ants. 
When the carpenter birds are through with these cavities 
they are sometimes used as nesting })laces by other birds 
that are unal)le to excavate for themselves. The deserted 
nests of the Downy Woodpecker are used by the Wren, the 

PLATE XX. — Downy Woodpecker at Nest Hole. (Phot()i>rap]i, 
fi'om life, by C. A. lleedj (From AiiiLTicau Uruitholo.yy . ) 


Chickadee, or even the Tree Swallow; those of the Hairy 
Woodpecker may be used by Bluebirds, Martins, or Swal- 
lows ; those of the Flicker by the Screech Owl and the Wood 
Duck. The excavations made l)y Woodpeckers in securing 
insects are often used by the Chickadee or the Wren. 

Notwithstanding their usefulness, however, the Wood- 
peckers have been subject to the most senseless and unjust 
persecution for many years, merely because a single species, 
which rarely breeds in Massachusetts, feeds largely on the 
sap and cambium layer of both fruit trees and forest trees. 
This species (the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker) has not the 
strong, barbed tongue of the typical Woodpeckers. 

Eight species of Woodpecker occur in Massachusetts, but 
only two, the Downy Woodpecker and the Flicker, are. com- 
mon residents throughout the State. The Hairy Wood- 
pecker is also common, though less so than the others, and 
more local. All other species are usually rare migrants, 
except the Sapsucker, which is seen regularly in spring and 
fall, and the Pileated Woodpecker, which is local. 

It is a popular error to speak of all Woodpeckers as either 
Sapsuckers or Red-headed Woodpeckers. The males of all 
our Woodpeckers have red on the back of the head or nape ; 
but the Red-headed Woodpecker has the head, throat, and 
neck red all round. Although once common locally in Mas- 
sachusetts, it is now rare ordinarily, and seldom breeds in 
the State. The birds now generally known in ]Massachu- 
setts as " Red-headed Woodpeckers " are the species herein- 
after described under their proper names. 

Downy Woodpecker. 

Bryobates fnibescens medianus. 

Length. — About six and one-half inches. 

Adult Male. — Upper parts hlack, striped, and barred with white ; a small scarlet 

patch at the back of the head. 
Adult Female. — Similar, but without the scarlet on head. 
Young. — The scarlet patch in the male gives place to reddish-brown. 
Nest. — In a hole made by the birds m a dead stump or limb. 
Eggs. — V^\nie. 
Season. — Resident. 

This sprightly little bird, the smallest of the Woodpeckers, 
is also the most useful. It is found common^ throughout 


most of the State wherever trees grow. Its sharp, clear, in- 
cisive notes are aptly compared l)v Chapman to the ring of 
a marble quarriers chisel. Its onl}^ approach to a musical 
performance is its resonant drumming on a sounding hollow 
limb or bird box. This habit, which it has in common with 
other Woodpeckers, seems to be resorted to out of pure 
exuberance of joy and vigorous life ; it is, with this carpenter 
bird, a fitting substitute for song. 

The nesting cavity is wrought out with happy lalior in some 
dead limb. The entrance is just large enough to admit the 
owner by tight squeezing, and the interior is trimmed into 
graceful curves, rounding at the bottom into a receptacle for 
the snow}' eggs. The birds sometimes carry the chi})S away, 
but are often careless of concealment, and let them fall about 
the foot of the tree. 

Downy is a bird of the old orchard in summer. He prefers 
to inhabit trees that are neglected by their owners, and 
assumes the self-appointed guardianship of such trees in the 
happiest frame of mind imaginal)le. He does this for the 
reason that these neglected orchards harbor a host of insects 
and vermin, in the destruction of which he revels. Under 
those scales of bark there lurk in early spring the larva' of 
the codling moth, which pass the winter in their loosely spun 
cocoons. Downy knows just where to find them. He circles 
the trunk and limbs, climbs up or comes down backward, 
and ever and anon he taps and sounds the l)ark, until the 
tell-tale vibration given back by the scale above the cocoon 
corroborates the evidence of his eyes. Every stroke with 
which he knocks on the door of an insect's retreat sounds 
the crack of doom. He pierces the bark with his lieak, 
then with his barbed tongue drags forth the insect, and 
moves on to tap the last summons on the door of the next 
in line. Now and then an intelligent bird carries the warfare 
against the apple worm still farther, and pecks the fruit upon 
the tree ; but, so far as my experience goes, he attacks only 
worni}^ fruit, and when he has the worm he leaves the apple. 

Dr. Trimble, in his l)ook entitled "Insects Injurious to 
Fruits," asserts that he found immerous instances where the 
bird had penetrated the cocoons of the codling moth. 



Dr. Rufus H. Petit, of the Michigan Experi- 
ment Station, says that in almost every case where cocoons 
of this insect were concealed under flakes of bark the birds 
had found them. " Such pierced cocoons," he says, "are the 
common thing in our orchards, especially where they have 
been above the snow line." Fig. 107, 
which is drawn from a reproduction of 
his photograph, shows the inner surface 
of a flake of bark, the remains of a 
cocoon attached, and the hole made by 
the bill of the bird. 

A large part of the food of this Wood- 
pecker, while in the orchard, consists 
of wood-boring beetles, their larva?, 
and various bark beetles and weevils. 
Hardly another bird, excepting the suc- 
ceeding species, can compete with this in destroying borers, 
such as the round-headed apple borer, that infest fruit trees. 
In securing these insects it never does the trees any percep- 
tible harm. In many cases it perforates the bark of apple 
trees with small, roundish holes, less than an inch apart, 
disposed in parallel horizontal rings. Nuttall says that these 
holes are made for the purpose of drink- 
ing sap from the trees. But this work is 
not done for the sake of the sap, if, as 
Wilson says, it is always performed in 

Fig. 107. — Cocoon of cod- 
ling moth, pierced by 

Fig. 108. — Apple tree 

the fall, at a time when the sap is not flow- 
ing ; possiljly the bird takes out bits of the cambium layer; 
Wilson believed it was delving for insects ; but whatever the 
reason, the trees so perforated seem to be invigorated rather 
than injured by the process, which is not the case with trees 
similarly attacked by the true Sapsucker. The holes made 
by the Sai)sucker are different in shape, being square rather 
than round. 

Towncnd Glover, formerly entomologist to the United 
States Department of Agriculture, stated that he observed 
the Downy making a number of small, rough-edged perfora- 
tions in the bark of an ash tree, and found that wherever the 
bark had been thus injured the young larva of a wood-eating 


beetle had been snugly coiled underneath, and had been de- 
stroyed by the l)ird, thus proving conclusively to his mind 
that these holes are made for the purpose of finding insect 

But Downy does not confine his attacks to the hidden 
enemies of trees ; he takes caterpillars and weevils from 
twigs, buds, and branches. His 3 oung are largely fed on 
caterpillars of various sorts. Ants and plant lice — those 
ill-assorted masters and servants — are slaughtered in im- 
mense numbers. 

The following, from Mr. Kirkland's notes, exhibits this 
bird as a destroyer of the woolly aphis : — 

While in ^Vmherst, Oct. 20, 1895, I was able to api:)roaeh to within 
six to eight feet of a Downy Woodpecker which was feeding on a small 
apple tree. The bird was busy hunting the twigs over for food. I saw 
it eat a number of leaf miners' (Tineid) cocoons, which were attached 
to the small twigs. Some of these were undoubtedly- Bucculatrix pomi- 
folidla. Other cocoons Avere not oblong, but elliptical ; nearly all 
cocoons contained a small green larva. A subsetpxent examination of 
twigs whicli the bird had searched showed that the cocoons it had left 
were parasitized. On the tree were many Ijark lice (^Mytilaspis ^iomo- 
rtim'), but I did not see the bird feed on them. The fact of greatest in- 
terest to nie was that the bird apparently sought out the small cavities 
(made by pruning) on the branches, and fed upon the woolly aphis 
(^Schizoneura lanigcra^, which had clustered in masses in the cavities. 
This aphis sometimes does considerable damage to apple trees. Mr. 
Frost is of the opinion that the aphis also prevents the healing over of 
wounds made by pruning. It is a well-known fact that clusters of this 
aphis coiiimonl}^ occur on the callus which develops around wounds, 
apparently making it their feeding ground. 

The imagoes of noctiuMial moths that rest on trees during 
the day are taken by this bird, and he eats the eggs of many 
insects. lie may well be regarded as one of the l)est of the 
feathered friends of the orchardist. But it is in the woods 
and among the shade trees that the good qualities of the 
Downy come out strongest. 

When the Metro])olitan Park Connnission first began to 
set out young trees along the parkways near Boston, some 
species of trees Avere attacked by numerous borers ; but the 
Downy Woodpeckers found them out and extracted the grubs, 


gathered . 

saving most of the trees. The cut (Fig. 109) shows a por- 
tion of the top of one of these trees, riddled by the borer. 
The knife-cut at the bottom exposes their galleries. The 
small perforations along the stem were made by 
the Woodpecker in extracting the grubs. 

The untiring industry of this bird and the per- 
fection of its perceptive powers may be shown 
b}^ the experience of Mr. Bailey. On March 28, 
1899, a Downy Woodpecker that he watched 
climbed over and inspected one hundred and *;it!%l 
eighty-one woodland trees between 9.40 a.m. 
and 12.15 p.m., and made twenty-six excava- 
tions for food. Most of these holes exposed gal- 
leries in the trunks or in hio-h branches where 
w^ood-boring ants Avere hiding. The openings 
that the bird drilled in piercing one of these 
tunnels in a branch some thirty-five feet from 
the ground are shown in Fig. 110. It had un- 
covered dormant black ants, and in each case had 

pierced their 
l)urrow at 
the exact spot 
where they were 
^ ants 
often gain an entrance 
at some unprotected 
spot on a living tree, and 
so excavate the wood of the 
trunk that the tree is l)lown 
down by the wind. This Wood- 
pecker acts as a continual check Pig- i09. 
on the increase of such ants. 

The delicacy of that sense of touch or 
audition by which the bird was enabled to 
locate those motionless insects in their hid- 
den burrow must ever command our admiration, unendowed 
as we are with such delicate perceptive powers. 

Another Downy Woodpecker was seen on March 31 taking 

Fig. 110.— Downy 
Woodpecker and 
his work. 



the larvjB of boring beetles from l)eneath the bark of oak trees. 
The bird seemed to know the exact spot at which to drill for 
each larva, for it always cut a small hole directly over the 
insect. The cut (Fig. Ill) gives a view of the outer surface 
of a section of bark taken from a small oak. From this small 

piece of bark the 
bird })robably se- 
cured at least six 
of the larvae that 
were found in its 
s t o m a c h . The 
holes at a, b, c, 
d, e, f\ indicate 
those from which 
the larvjie were 
taken. Fio^. 112 
gives a view of 
the inner surface 
of the same piece 

r f --ffl(^ I'^ IF^fl ^ of bark, showing 

how true was the 
stroke of the 
bird, for its beak, 
piercing from the 
outside, went di- 
rectly to the cen- 
ter of the burrow 
where the dormant insects lay, entirely hidden from view. 
The letters a, b, c, d, e, /, indicate the holes where the 
bird's beak came through to the inner surface. Twelve 
ants and seventeen larva> of boring beetles were found in 
its stomach. 

The Downy Woodpecker is one of the most useful of all 
])irds to the lumberman, for it feeds on such destructive 
iysects as the bronze birch borer, the maple borer, and the 
pine weevil, — an insect of such importance that its habits 
merit some description here. This little insect (Pissodes 
sh'obi) dei)osits its eggs on the topmost shoots of the finest 
and most vigorous young white pines, and the young larvae 


Fig. 111. 

Fig. 112. 


eat away the wood, and thus destroy the leading shoot or 
main stem of the tree. As the side shoots grow upward 
they also are attacked, and the tree is ruined for timber. 
Instead of growing a tall, straight trunk, it grows straggling 
branches. Quite often the leading shoot of a tree is attacked 

Fig. 113. — Tine top killed by pine 

Fig. 114. — Tree crooked and ruined for 
timber by pine weevil. 

in this way 3^ear after year. Each attack results in a crook 
in the trunk, and the tree when grown is fit only for kindling 
wood. Perhaps no insect is a greater pest to the lumberman 
than this. While examinino- the work of this insect in a 
fine grove of joung white pines I saw that many of the bur- 
rows had been perforated by Ijirds, and the grubs extracted. 
It a})pears that Dr. Fitch also noticed this, for he says that 
small l)irds are ver^" efficient in ferretino- out and devourino; 


the larvaB and pupae of this weevil. He does not, however, 
name the birds. ^ 

I have seen many shoots from which this insect had been 
removed by birds, and most of them showed the character- 
istic work of this Woodpecker. Some other Woodpeckers 
and the Chickadee are probably useful in this respect. The 
Downy Woodpecker hunts borers to the very twigs. Mr. 
Kirkland saw a mother bird pecking away at twigs infested 
by the oak pruner, taking out the larvos and feeding them 
to her 3^oung. 

There is some reason for calling the Downy a sapsucker. 
Occasionall}' he is accused of tapping the smaller limbs and 
twigs of maples and other trees for their sap. Nuttall says 
he has seen the l)ird drinking sap from the trees, and that it 
bores into the wax myrtle for that purpose. I have never 
been able to observe this, and ornithologists generallj^ deny 
that it is a fact. But Mr. Bailey's observations seem to 
prove that the farmer is not altogether wrong in his appella- 
tion of the bird. The habit, however, seems to be not a 
common one. Mr. Bailey's experience has been spoken of 
in a paper read before the American Ornithologists' Union, 
and in another published in the annual report of the secretary 
of the Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture for 1900 ; 
but I am now able to present cuts from drawings of two 
stems tapped by the Downy, which show the ingenious 
method employed by the bird, also how its perforations 
differ from those made by the Sapsucker. The quotation 
from Mr. Bailey's field notes follows : — 

At 12.30 I found a Downy AVoodpeeker, and watched him till 2.45 : 
he took three larvae from a maple stub, just under the bark. He next 
tapped two small swamp maples, four and six feet from the ground, 
and^pent most of the time taking sap. He tapped the tree by peeking 
it a few times very lightly ; it looked like a slight cut, slanting a little. 
The bird would sit and peck the sap out of the lower part of the cut. 
The cut was so small the sap did not collect very fast. The bird would 
go and sit for a long time in a large tree, then it would come back and 
take more sap. It did this three times while I was watching it. It did 

» Insects Injurious to Forest and Shade Trees, by A. S. Packard. Fifth 
Report of the United States Entomological Commission, quotation from Fitch, 
p. 740. 


not care to take any food but the sap. I could get within six feet of 
the bird without a.nj trouble while it was taking sap. It then left and 
went into a large tree, and I lost it ; but if I had stayed by the tree I 
think it would have come back before night, as it had done when I was 
watching it, for it was g-one half an liour at one time. 

The two young trees that were tapped were red maples 
{Acer rubrum). The incisions in eacli case were similar, 
and from their appearance we maj^ as- 
sume that the bird first struck its bill 
into the bark from the right upward, 
and then from 
the left down- 
ward, leaving a 
small bridge of 
l)ark to cover 
the opening. 
It then took 
the sap by in- 
serting its bill 
at the lower 
orifice, «, the /J 
upper one, 6, 
allowing the 
free entrance of 
air to facilitate 
the flow of the 
sap out of the 
lower at a. 

The vegetable 
food of this 
Wo odpecker 
is varied and 
rather small in 
q u a n t i t y . In 

spring it eats a ^^^' ^^^' 

few buds and petals of flowers ; some berries, such as fFune- 
berries and wild strawberries, in summer ; and in fall and 
winter it eats pokeberries, poison ivy, sumac, mullein, and 
other seeds. Frozen apples are eaten in winter. According 

Fig 116. 


to Professor Beal, Dr. Merriam found the stomachs of four 
birds filled with beechnuts, and has seen this species eat the 
berries of the mountain ash. It eats bay berries also. 

Hairy Woodpecker. 

Dryobatcs villosus. 

Length. — About nine and one-half inches. 

Adult. — Quite similar to the Downy Woodpecker, but much larger ; the bill pro- 

jiortionately longer. 
Nest. — A hole cut in a tree by the bird. 
Egys. — White. 
Season. — Resident. 

The Hairy Woodpecker, like the preceding species, lives 
to such an extent on the grubs of boring beetles and on 
wood-borinff ants that it can find food at all times of the 

year. In very cold winters, 
however, when the trees are 
solidly frozen for months, both 
these species find it difiicult to 
dig out borers from living trees. 
In the winter of 1903-04, which 
was exceedingly cold , the 
Woodpeckers were compelled 
to work on dry limbs and fence 
rails, wood piles, and any dry 
Fig. 117. -Hairy Woodpecker, male, timber they could find. They 

about one-hall natural size. -, j. ^• ^ • .11 j.i 

do not disdain to help them- 
selves to waste meat, fat, or suet in winter. 

The Hairy Woodpecker is less common than the Downy, 
but individually is about as useful. Its sharp, clicking notes 
much resemble those of its smaller congener, but they are 
stronger, and have a wilder sound. The bird may be easily 
recognized by its large size and its vigorous, rapid move- 
ments. Like all Woodpeckers, its flight is rather undulat- 
ing, as though, by reason of its excess of vigor, it could not 
help leai)ing and bounding through the air. It is usually 
shyer than the Downy, and is found more in timlier lands 
than in orchards ; but becomes tamer where it is not molested 
by man, and sometimes breeds in the orchard. 

Maurice Thompson says that this bird strikes its bill into 


the wood and then for an instant holds the point of one 
mandible in the dent thus made, while it listens for the 
movements of the borer. He contends that the vibrations 
produced by the insect in the wood are conveyed through 
the bill of the bird to its brain. 

This bird eats less animal food in proportion to its vege- 
table food than does the Downy Woodpecker ; and accord- 
ing to Professor Beal it eats more l)eetles, more caterpillars, 
and less ants, than does its smaller relative. Beetles and 
their larvaB form full}' one-third of its insect food, and a large 
part of these consists (^f the larger wood-boring insects. Its 
special usefulness inheres in its large size, its long beak and 
tongue, and its power of drilling deep into the trees and 
extracting from trunks and branches the larger pernicious 
borers. In this respect the bird is more nearly indispensa- 
ble to the forester and orchardist than any other bird of the 
State, except perhaps the Pileated Woodpecker, which is so 
local as to be of much less value generally. Mr. J. M. 
Baskett tells of some Siberian crab trees in his yard that were 
attacked by borers. One of the trees died ; but a Hairy 
Woodpecker came, worked diligently, and cleaned out all the 
grubs, thus saving the remaining trees. 

This Woodpecker is often quite destructive to hairy cat- 
erpillars, and feeds its young on noxious larv;e of many 
species. It also attacks the pup^e or chrysalids of many in- 
jurious moths, among them those of the gipsy moth. Moths 
that hibernate in cocoons during the winter are i)articularly 
exposed to the attacks of this Woodpecker. Dr. F. M. 
Webster states that he saw one of these birds peck througii 
the cocoon of the cecropia moth, and devour the contents. 
On examining more than a score of these cocoons, he found 
only two uninjured by the l)ird. Ants, grasshoppers, and 
spiders are eaten. 

Its vegetable food is much like that of the Downy, but is 
consumed in much larger quantity. It sometimes takes a 
little corn ; in summer it feeds much on wild cherries, and 
in the fall on wild grai)es to some extent. Like the Downy, 
it eats a little of the inner bark or cambium from the tree 
trunks, and possibly may take some sa^). 


While this bird often excavates a hole for a winter shelter, 
it sometimes sleeps exposed on a tree trunk. Mr. Bailey 
and I once watched one that slept for many winter nights on 
the north side of a tree trunk in a thick grove. It attached 
its claws to the bark and went to sleep in much the same 
position in which it ordinarily climbed the tree. It inva- 
riably went to the same tree at night, and was found in the 
same place at dayliglit each morning. 

Northern Flicker. Golden-winged Woodpecker. Pigeon Woodpecker. 
Yellow Hammer. Partridge W^oodpecker. W^ake-up. Gaffer Wood- 
pecker. High-hole, High-holder, etc. 

Colaptes auratus hiteus. 

Length. — About twelve inches. 

Adult Male. — Brown above; a scarlet crescent across the nape of the neck; top 
and back of head gray; back and wmgs barred with black; rump white; 
quill feathers of wings and tail black above, golden-yellow below ; shafts 
of both wing and tail feathers yellow; throat pmkish-brown, running to 
buff on the breast, sides, and belly, which are marked with round black 
dots ; a black crescent on breast, and a l)lack patch on each side of head 
just below gape. 

Adult Female. — Similar, but without tlie black "mustache." 

Nest. — A hole in a tree, from four to forty feet from the ground. 

Ff/gs. — Glossy white. 

Season. — Resident; not very common in winter except m southeastern Massa- 

The Flicker, our largest and most common Woodpecker, is 
well known, in some one or more of its various forms, over 
the greater part of temperate America. It has over thirty 
vernacular names, a few of the most common of which are- 
given above. A loud ivtck, 2vick, is the Flicker's announce- 
ment that spring has come. Its amorous unck'-er, ivick'-er, 
wick'-er, sounds from the orchards in early spring, as the male 
birds play about in curious antics, each trying in friendly 
rivalr>" to outdo the other in the display of his golden beauty, 
that he may thus attract and hold the admiration of the 
female. There is no fighting, but in its place an exhibition 
of all the airs and graces that the rival dandies can muster. 
Their extravagant, comical gestures, rai)idly changing atti- 
tudes, and exuberant cries, all seem laughable to the onlooker, 
but evidently give pleasure to the birds. Their notes on 
such occasions have considerable variety, and are all pleasing. 


. This bird often beats a long roll on a resonant branch. 
When flying away it is easily identified by the showy white 
patch on the rump, and when it flies overhead its golden 
wings and tail are plainly shown. 

It is rather a shy bird, and it has reason to be, for, in 
spite of the law protecting it, the Flicker is hunted in most 
parts of its range. It is not a typical Woodpecker. Its 
bill is slightly curved, 
and its tongue has fewer 
terminal barbs than any 
other North American 
species. But the tongue 
is one of the longest, it 
is studded on the upper 
surface wath line points 
directed backward, and 
the salivary glands are 
large ; in fiict, this bird 
is more of an ant-eater 
than a Woodpecker. It 
frequents fields, or- 
chards, and open spaces in the woods, where it strikes its 
long bill into anthills, and then thrusts out its still longer 
tongue, coated with sticky saliva, and licks up the out- 
rushing ants by the dozen. Ants constitute about forty-five 
per cent, of its food. Though useful in some ways, ants are 
often great pests. Many kinds are decidedh^ harmful, as 
they attend, protect, and help to spread many aphids that 
are known as plant, root, or bark lice, which are among 
the greatest enemies of certain garden plants, shrubs, and 
trees. Ants infest houses, destroy timber, and have other 
harmful habits. They are eaten by many birds, of which 
the Flicker heads the list. It also takes l)eetles, grasshop- 
pers, crickets, caterpillars, and other harmful insects. It is 
fond of wild cherries and w ild berries, but takes very little 
cultivated fruit. Grass seed and weed seed are eaten to 
some extent. Occasionally it has been known to eat a little 
corn on the ear. Its most harmful hal)it is exhibited in 
southeastern Massachusetts, where, especially on Cape Cod, 

Fig. 118. — Flicker, male, about one-half natural 


it winters in considerable numbers, and there bores holes 
into the summer cottages and finds winter shelter in the 
rooms, where it sometimes does some damage by pecking 
at the window sashes and curtains and in other ways. If 
the owners of these cottages had put up a few cheap bird- 
boxes on their buildings or trees, with entrances large 
enough for the Flicker, the birds might have used the 
boxes, and never have contracted the criminal habit of 
breaking and entering. 

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. 
Sphyrcq^iciis varius. 

Length. — About eight and one-half inches. 

Adult Male. — Above, brownish or yellowish, marked with black and white; 
below, yellowish ; sides black-streaked ; a broad white stripe from shoulder 
along the black wing ; crown and throat patch crimson ; border of both 
patches and line through eye black ; a black breast patch ; belly yellowish. 

Adult Female. — Similar, excej^t that the throat patch is whitish, uistead of 

Nest and Eggs. — Much like those of other Woodpeckers. 

Season. — Migrates north through the State in April, and south in September and 
October ; breeds rarely in Berkshire Covmty. 

There would be no justification for including this hand- 
somely marked bird among the useful species of Massachu- 
setts, except for the fact that in thirty years no instance 
has come to my knowledge of its doing any appreciable 
harm here. There can be no doubt that it has killed trees 
in northern New England, where it breeds ; but, as it does 
some good while here by destroj-ing insects, citizens of the 
State can have no shadow of an excuse for destroying any 
Woodpecker, for all the other species that visit this State 
are more useful than this. The red crown and throat, and 
the broad white stripe or patch on the black wing, will dis- 
tinguish it from more useful species. 


Kingfishers feed mainly on tish, but occasionally subsist 
very largely on such insects as grasshoppers. These birds 
arc no doubt necessary to help maintain the balance of 
nature whenever animals on which they feed tend to in- 
crease beyond normal numbers. The}' are not of sutiicient 


economic importance, however, to receive more than this 
brief mention here. The Cuckoos, on the other hand, are 
particularly useful. Thej have the reputation of layino- their 
e-s in other birds' nests. This is true of the European 
Uickoo, which seems to be unable to complete her clutch 
of eggs rapidly enough to incubate them in one batch • 
therefore she leaves them to be hatched in the nests of other 
birds. This is rarely true, however, of the American s,^e- 
cies, which ordinarily build their own nests and hatch their 
own eggs. Audubon and Nuttall accused Cuckoos of rob- 
bing the nests of other birds, but there is little recent evi- 
dence of this habit. Like Woodpeckers, Cuckoos have the 
fourth toe reversed; but apparently the reversion of this toe 
does not now assist them in climbin£r, even if it ever did 
for they do not climb like the Woodpeckers. Thev are 
long, slender, rather shy, modestly colored, and sedentarv 
birds, which sit secluded among the leaves, and are heard 
more than they are seen. 

Black-billed Cuckoo. Rain Crow. 

Coccyztts eriithrophthalm us . 
Loigth. — 'Nearly twelve inches. 

""''"''wMte'S', hr'?™"";rV^'''^' ""''''' '"^*'""'^ ^'^-^'"^^ reflections; below. 

Yest Stfcks on r ' r: r^^*' "^^ *° ^'' '"* "^^ *"« ^^^^ral tail feathers 
A est. ~ Sticks loosely put together in a hush, vine, or low tree 

J^-ffffs- — Greenish-blue. 

Seaso)i.— May to SeiJtember. 

The Black-billed Cuckoo is common throuirhout most of 
the State. It seeks the bushy borders of streams, ponds 
low woodlands, and swamps. It inhal^its the glades of de- 
ciduous woods, and sometimes nests in thickets, but often 
visits orchards and fruit gardens. It is a bird of the trees 
and shrubbery, rarely leaving the leafy shades except to feed 
where caterpillars have defoliated the trees. AlthoiK^h some- 
what sedentary, it flies rapidly and gracefully, but'' usually 
at no great height. Upon alighting in a bush or a tree it 
generally chooses a sheltered or hidden position, and, relyino- 
perhaps upon its close resemblance to the color of the foliacre^ 
It often may be closely approached. "^ 

Its notes vary much, but consist commonly of the syllable 



liillfd (Juckoo, one 
li:iir natural size. 

coiv, COW, repeated inonotonouwly many times, and sometimes 
preceded 1)V a short chuckle. The bird often calls at night, 
and toward autumn its notes may sometimes be heard in the 
air as it i)asses overhead, probably in migration. Usually 

when the bird is heard at 

night in the spring and early 

sunnuer it appears to be 

stationary. There is some 

mystery in the wakefulness and 

night flight of Cuckoos, for they are 

certainly as wide-awake at times as the 

Owl or Whip-poor-w^ill at night, and often 

seem slow and sleepy by day. 

The Cuckoos are of the greatest service 
to the farmer, b}' reason of their well-known fondness for 
ciiter[)illa,rs, })articularly the hairy species. No caterpillars 
are safe from the Cuckoo. It does not matter how hairy or 
spiny they are, or how Avell they 
may be protected by webs. Often 
the stomach of the Cuckoo will be 
found lined with a felted mass of 
caterpillar hairs, and sometimes 
its intestines are pierced by the 
spines of the noxious caterpillars that it has swallowed. 
Wherever caterpillar outbreaks occur we hear the calls of 
the Cuckoos. There they sta}' ; there they In-ing their 
newly fledged young; and the number of caterpillars the}' 
eat is incredible. Professor Beal states that two thousand, 

seven hundred and se\'enty-one 
cater})illars were found in the 
stomachs of one hundred and 
twenty-one Cuckoos, — an aver- 

Pig. 121. -spiny Hni .aUrinllar. ^^f jj^^j.^, ^|^j^,, twcntv-Olie Cach. 

Dr. Otto Lugger found sciveral hundred small hairy cater- 
l)illars in the stomach of a single bird. The poisonous, 
spined caterpillars of the To moth, the almost cijually dis- 
agreeable caterpillars of the browu-tail moth, and the spiny 
elm cater])illar, are eaten Avith avidity. 

While the above statements may apply to either of our 

Fig. 120 

CMti'r|iillar of tlie lo 


Cuckoos, the Black-billed Cuckoo is the more common in 
Massachusetts, and is therefore probably the more useful. 
Grasshoppers, locusts, and other insects are often eaten, but 
practically no cultivated fruit and no grain. 

Yellow-billed Cuckoo. 

Coccijzus amvricanus. 

Length. — About twelve inches. 

Adult. — Bill black above, yellow beneath; upper parts olive-brown, with gray 
tints and metallic lusters; under pai'ts white; a briglit cumanion tint on 
wings ; two inner tail feathers olive ; outer tail feathers blackish, two with 
white outer edge ; all but two inner tail feathers broadly tipped with white. 

Nest. — A loose mass of sticks, in a bush or tree. 

Egf/s. — Usually larger and lighter colored than those of the preceduig species. 

Season. — May to September. 

This bird is long and slender, but it is a little larger and 
more robust in appearance than the Black-billed Cuckoo. A 
near view will show the yellow of the under mandible and 


■^ ^' 

Fig. 122. — The fall web worm. The caterpillars {a, b, c) are eaten bj' Cuckoos. 

the characteristic markings of the tail, which serve to distin- 
guish the bird in the field. Moreover, the notes of this 
species are heavier and coarser than those of the Black-billed 
Cuckoo. Schuyler Mathews well describes a characteristic 
cry of this bird as Gr-r-i'-olp, coivlp, coiclp-olp-olp. All this 
is delivered with little if any variation in tone, and in a voice 
seemingly as deep as that of a Heron. 


The Yellow-l)illed Cuckoo is coiniiion in eastern Massa- 
chusetts, although it is rather more local than the preced- 
ing species ; but it is rare in the highlands of the northern 
and western counties. Mrs. Mabel Osgood Wright states 
that this bird "seemed to follow an epidemic of tent worms" 
into Connecticut, and that it was abundant for two years in 
orchards and gardens containing fruit trees. She asserts that 
it did its work so thorough!}' that orchards which were cov- 
ered with caterpillar webs yielded a good crop later. She says 
also that the Cuckoos destroy many more than they can eat, 
by tearing the webs apart and squeezing the worms with 
their beaks. This is corroborated l)y the statements of 
gentlemen from ^Nlcdford, who have told me that they have 
often observed this habit of the Cuckoo as practised on cater- 
pillars of the gipsy moth and the brown-tail moth. It is 
said that these Cuckoos, which were formerlj^ decreasing in 
numbers around Boston, are now increasing. They are no 
doubt attracted by the abundant caterpillars. This species 
is apparently the greatest eneni}' to these pests. 


This family of gallinaceous Ijirds is represented in Mas- 
sachusetts by four species. Of these, the Spruce Grouse 
is merely an accidental visitor ; the Heath Hen is nearing 
extermination ; and the Bob-white, now rare or wanting in 
many parts of the State, is more a bird of the field and 
garden than of the orchard or woodland. It is described on 
p. 325. This leaves only one species, the Ruffed Grouse, 
to be considered here, as the other species, introduced from 
time to time from other parts of the country, soon die out 
or are killed off by our arms-bearing population. This is 
particularly^ unfortunate, for Massachusetts, with her rock}^ 
wooded hills, sand}' plains, and fertile valleys, her stunted 
shrubby growths on Cape Cod and ]\Iartha's Vineyard, and 
her many fertile fields, is naturally a paradise for Grouse in 
summer, and produces an abundant winter food supply for 
these hardy birds. 

PLATE XXI. — Ruffed Grouse on Nest. ( I'hotoiinipli from life 
(^Fri)iii AiiHTiraii ( )rnitli()loiiT.) 


Ruffed Grouse. Partridge. 
Bonasa nmbellus. 

Length. — Sixteen to eighteen inches. 

Adult Male. — Upper i)arts reddish or yellowish brown, varying to gray; many 
markings ; head crested ; large ruffs of glossy black feathers on the 
sides of the neck ; tail long and broad, varying from reddish-brown to 
gray, mottled and barred with lighter and darker shades ; a broad black- 
ish band near the tip ; under parts tinged with buff, strongest on throat, 
barred and otherwise marked with darker shades, particularly on breast 
and sides. 

Adult Female. — Similar, but smaller; ruffs also smaller. 

Nest. — Lined with leaves, on gromid in woods. 

Egg.<i. — Buffy or yellowish white, sometimes speckled with a darker color. 

This common bird, the "kino- of American o-ame birds," 
was abundant in all our woods and was often seen in fields 
and orchards until its numbers were decimated by the gunner 
and the survivors driven to the cover of the pines. The 
characteristic startlino- roar of its wings, with which it starts 
away when flushed from the ground, and its habit of drum- 
ming on a log, have been often described. The speed with 
which the wings are beaten in drumming makes it impossible 
for the human eye to follow them, and make sure whether 
they strike anything or not. Naturalists, after long discus- 
sion, had come to believe that the so-called drumming of the 
Ruffed Grouse was caused b}^ the bird l)eating the air with 
its Avings, as described by Mr. William Brewster ; but now 
comes Dr. C. F. Hodge, and reopens the controversy by 
exhibiting a series of photographs which seem to show that 
the bird in drumming strikes the contour feathers of the 
body. Strange as it may seem, there are many people who 
often take outings in the country, yet have never heard the 
drumming of this bird. This tattoo is most common in late 
winter and early spring, but may be heard occasionally in 
summer and not uncommonly in fall. AVhile sounded oftenest 
during the day, it may fall on the ear at any hour of the 
night. In making it the bird usually stands very erect on a 
hollow log or stump, with head held high and rutfs erected 
and spread, and, raising its wings, strikes downward and 
forward. The sound produced is a muflled boom or thump. 
It begins with a few slow beats, growing gradually quicker, 


and ends in a rolling, accelerated tattoo. It has a ventrilo- 
quial propertj'. Sometimes when one is very close to the 
bird the drumming seems almost soundless ; at other times 
it seems nmch louder at a distance, as if through some prin- 
ciple of acoustics it were most distinctly audible at a certain 
radius from the bird. It is the bird's best expression of its 
abounding vigor and virility, and signifies that the drummer 
is ready for love or war. 

The female alone undertakes the task of incubation and 
the care of the young. Once, however, when I came upon 
a young brood, the agonized cry of the distressed mother 
attracted a fine cock bird. He raised all his feathers, and, 
with rufis and tail spread, strutted up to within a rod of 
my position, seemingly almost as much concerned as the 
female, but not coming (juite so near. The hen sometimes 
struts toward the intruder in a similar manner when sur- 
prised while with her young. She can raise her ruffs and 
strut exactly like the cock. 

The Grouse has so many enemies that it seems remarkable 
how it can escape them, nesting, as it does, on the ground. 
Instances are on record, however, where birds that probably 
have been much persecuted have learned to deposit their 
eggs in old nests of Hawks or Crows, in tall trees. When- 
ever the mother bird leaves the nest the eggs are easily seen, 
and while she sits it would seem impossible for her where- 
abouts to remain a secret to the keen-scented prowlers of the 
woods. But her colors l)lend so perfectly with those of the 
dead leaves on the forest floor, and she sits so closely and 
remains so motionless among the shadows, that she escapes 
the sharp-eyed Hawk. She gives out so little scent that the 
dog, skunk, or fox often passes quite near, unnoticing. 

The Grouse does not naturally fear man ; more than once 
in the wilderness of the northwest a single bird has walked 
up to within a few feet of me. They will sit on limbs 
just above one's head, almost within reach, and regard one 
curiously, but without much alarm. Usually in Massachu- 
setts when a human l:)eing comes near the nest the mother 
bird whirs loudly away. She has well learned the fear of 
man ; but in a place where no shooting was permitted, a large 

PLATE XXII. — Ruffed Grouse, One Day old. (Photosjrapli, 
fi'oin life, b.y C. ¥. Hodge.) (From the annual report of the 
Massachusetts Couimissiouers on Fisheries and Game, IDOa.) 

PLATE XXIII. — Ruffed Grouse, Four Months old. (Photoifrapli, 
from life. l)y ('. F. Hodge.) (From the annual report of tlie 
chusetts Commissioners on Fisheries and Game, 1005.) 


gang of men were cutting underbrush, while a Partridge 
sitting tliere remained quietly on her nest as the men worked 
noisily all about her. Another bird that nested beside a 
woods road, along which I walked daily, at first would fly 
before I had come within a rod of her ; but later she became 
confiding enough to sit on her nest while six persons passed 
close beside her. Evidently the l)ird's facility in concealing 
her nest consists in sitting close and keeping her eggs well 
covered. Her apparent faith in her invisibility is overcome 
only by her fear of man or her dread of the fox. When the 
fox is seen approaching directly toward her she bristles up 
and flies at him, in the attenn)t to frighten him with the 
sudden roar of her wings and the impetuosity of her attack ; 
but Reynard, although at first taken aback, cannot always 
be deceived by such tricks ; and the poor bird, in her anxiety 
to defend her nest, only betrays its whereabouts. Probably, 
however, the fox rarely finds her nest unless he happens to 
blunder directly into it. 

Dr. C. F. Hodge made some interesting experiments with 
two trained bird dogs, a pointer and a setter, neither of 
which could find a Partridge as she sat quietl}^ on her nest. 
The theor}^ often used to explain this is, that the bird, being 
frightened, sits with her feathers drawn close to her body, 
and so "holds her scent." This is a matter, however, that 
should be investigated with scientific accuracy ; for, in spite 
of all theories, the manner in which the bird escapes dis- 
covery still remains a mystery. The protection, whatever 
it is, is not always infallible, for occasionally a fox or dog 
discovers the sitting bird apparentl}^ by scent. Mr. William 
Brewster tells me that one of his dog^s once found a Wood- 
cock on her nest. All the young Grouse in a nest hatch at 
nearly the same instant, their feathers dry very rapidly, and 
they are soon ready to run about. When able to travel, 
they leave the nest, and from that moment they become wan- 
derers on the face of the earth. It is often asserted that the 
Partridge leads her brood about after the manner of a Hen 
with her Chickens. This may be true in some cases ; but 
I think the young birds usually scatter and forage mainly 
for themselves. They run about, stealing noiselessly along 


among the dead leaves, under the foliage of ferns and shrub- 
bery, continually taking insects from leaf, stem, and frond, 
or picking them from the ground. Meanwhile, the mother 
marches slowly in their rear, perhaps to guard them against 
surprise from any keen-scented animal that may follow on 
the trail. She seems to be almost always on the alert, and 
a single warning note from her will cause the young birds to 
flatten themselves on the ground or to hide under leaves, 
where they will often remain motionless until they are 
trodden upon, rather than run the risk of betraj'ing them- 
selves by attempting to escape. For this reason any one 
who disturbs a Partridge with her brood should be very care- 
ful not to approach too closely, lest he tread on the young 
birds. When, as sometimes happens, the intruder has taken 
the mother unawares, and approached close to her tender 
brood, she seems nearly distracted in her anxiety, and, scream- 
ing, flies du'eotly at her enemy. The sound she makes at 
such times has been likened to the whine of a young puppy ; 
but to my mind her flrst cry more nearly resembles the 
squeal a rabbit gives when startled in the moonlit woods. 
When thus surprised the young ma}^ be seen for a brief 
moment as they run or fly, seeking a safe hiding-place, 
while the mother attempts to lead their pursuer away by 
feigning lameness and fluttering along the ground. Should 
this transparent ruse succeed, she then flies off as well as 
ever, and remains away until she believes all danger has 
passed, wdien she (juietly returns and calls her brood. Evi- 
dently even the sharp-nosed fox finds it hard to detect the 
little birds so long as they lie quiet, and they seem to leave 
little or no scent as they run rapidly over the dry leaves. 
Some keen-eyed Hawk occasionally gets one, and they some- 
times succumb to a disease aggravated by exposure to heavy, 
continuous rains. Woodticks and lice together are said to 
be fatal to them, and a species of botfly is said to attack 
them ; but under ordinary conditions about half of each 
brood comes to maturity. 

The wing quills grow very fast, and before many days 
have passed the little chicks can fly short distances. Audu- 
bon says he has seen them fly a few feet when but six or 


seven days old, I saw a single bird about three weeks old 
start from a hilltop with its mother, and, ascending among 
the tree tops, fly into a hollow more than a hundred yards 
away. Prof. C. F, Hodge told me that a three-weeks chick 
which he was rearing became frightened one day, and dis- 
appeared over the trees ; an hour later it flew back. 

During the fall, the Grouse keep together in small flocks. 
Sometimes a dozen birds may be found around some favorite 
grape vine or apple tree, but they are usually so harried and 
scattered by gunners that toward winter the old birds may 
sometimes be found alone. 

As winter approaches, this hardy bird puts on its " snow- 
shoes," which consist of a fringe of horny processes or pecti- 
nations that grow out along each toe, and help to distribute 
the weight of the bird over a lai-ger surface, and so allow it 
to walk over snows into which a bird not so provided would 
sink deeply. Its digestion must resemble that of the famous 
Ostrich, as broken twigs and dry leaves are ground up in its 
mill. It is a hard winter that will starve the Grouse. A 
pair spent many winter nights in a little cave in the rock}' 
wall of an old quarry. Sumacs grew there, and many rank 
weeds. The birds lived well on sumac berries, weed seeds, 
and buds. 

Sometimes, but perhaps rarely, these l)irds are imprisoned 
under the snow by the icy crust which forms in cold weather 
following a rain, Init usually the}' are vigorous enough to 
find a way out somewhere. The Grouse is perfectly at home 
beneath the snow ; it will dive into it to escape a Hawk, and 
can move rapidly about beneath the surface and burst out 
again in ra})id flight at some unexpected place. 

The Kufied Grouse is a bird of the woodland, and, though 
useful in the woods, it sometimes does some injury in the 
orchard b}' removing too many buds from a single tree. In 
winter and early spring, when other food is buried by the 
snow and hard to obtain, the Grouse lives largely on the buds 
and green twigs of trees ; but as spring advances, insects 
form a considerable part of the food. The young feed very 
largely on insects, including many very destructive species. 

While I have often observed the young birds feeding on 


insects, it was usually impossible to make out just what those 
insects were ; but in confinement the young are very fond 
of flies, maggots, beetles, slugs, thrips, plant lice of various 
kinds, and spiders. Professor Forbes found mostly insects 
in the stomachs of three birds abt)ut tliree days old. They 
had eaten cutworms, grasshoppers, Lampyrid beetles, ants, 
parasitic wasps, buffalo tree hoppers, and spiders. Professor 
King found that a Grouse about a week out of the shell had 
eaten a white grub, seven spiders, and thirteen caterpillars. 
1 found in July the remains of a 3'oung bird that had been 
killed by a Hawk ; it must have been at least six weeks old. 
Its stomach contained beetles and the seeds of weeds. The 
young are often found in grassy fields and pastures near 
woods. I have seen them apparently catching grasshoppers, 
crickets, and other grass-eating insects in such localities, and 
they seem as fond of such food as are young Chickens. 
Whenever such insects are plentiful, they form apart of the 
summer food of the birds. Young Grouse evidently are very 
useful as insect eaters, but as they grow older they depend 
more upon vegetable food. Dr. Judd, who has given the 
best account of the food of the Grouse, says that at Chocorua, 
N. H., in September, 189(S, they were feeding very largely 
on the red-legged grasshopper or locust {3Iekmoj)Juf< femur- 
ruhrum) , a very destructive insect. Seven adult birds, killed 
in the l)reeding season, had eaten insects to the amount of 
thu'ty per cent, of their food. 

The Ruffed Grouse at times eats many caterpillars, par- 
ticularly those species which, like the cutworms and army 
worms, live largely upon the ground. 
It seems probable also that it takes 
caterpillars from the trees, as num- 
Fig. i23.-Ke(Miuniped bcrs of rcd-humped apple caterpillars 

caterpillar. / a i • • \ i i 

[oc/iizKra concinna) and oak caterpil- 
lars (^Symmerista albifrons) have been found in its stomach. 
Dr. Judd says that the Grouse prefers beetles to other insects. 
This seems to be true of the young also, although when first 
hatched they ai)pear to relish softer-bodied insects more. 
The old birds are })ersistent scratchers, and unearth many 
ground beetles, which they eat greedily. They sometimes 


feed on the potato beetle and other very injurious leaf-eating 

beetles, includins: flea beetles, grape-vine beetles, and May 

beetles. Also, they take wood-boring beetles, which they 

find mainly al)out stumps and fallen trees. 

Ants are eaten, and bugs, including leaf 

hoppers and tree hoppers. Many birds eat 

gall insects, but the Grouse eats them galls 

and all. Besides the insects taken, it eats Pig. 124. -Tree 

a few spiders and small snails. mppei.. 

Although Grouse eat largely of insects during s})ring and 
summer, this habit has not been much noticed, chiefly be- 
cause most of the birds whose stomachs have been examined 
were shot in the late fall or in the winter months, Avhen the 
food is almost entirely vegetable. " The Rufted Grouse," 
saj's Dr. Judd, "spends most of its feeding thne in browsing 
and berry picking." In the fall, winter, and early spring, 
seeds, berries, buds, leaves, and even twigs, form its prin- 
cipal food. A great deal of this material is eaten through- 
out the year wherever it can be obtained. Dr. Judd gives 
the percentage of "browse" eaten as forty-eight and eleven 
hundredths of its entire food for the season, and the per- 
centage of Ijerries as twentv-eio;ht and thirtv-two hundredths. 
Buds form twenty per cent, of its food for the year. The 
seeds eaten are mainly tree seed, and those of such weeds 
as grow in clearings, along walls and fences, or on the 
borders of woods. Grain is very rarely taken. A partial 
list of the vegetable food of the Grouse is given below. 
It is largely compiled from the Inilletin by Dr. Judd on the 
Grouse and Wild Turkeys of the United States, which is 
the most complete list yet published. 

Ntits or Seeds. 
Hazelnuts, beechuuts, chestnuts, acorns. Seeds of tick trefoil, liorn- 
beam, vetch, hemlock, pitch pine, maple, blackberry lily, beggar's 
ticks, chickweed, sheei^ sorrel, sedges, violet, witch-hazel, beech drops, 
avens, persicaria, frost weed, jewel weed. 

Buds, Blossoms, or Foliage. 
Of 2>oplar, birch, willow, apple, pear, peach, alder, hazel, beech, 
ironwood, hoi'nljeam, blackberry, blueberry, spruce, arbor vitas, May- 
flower, laurel, maple, spicebush, partridge berry, sheep sorrel, aster, 


green ovaiy of bloodroot, clover, jjurslane, wood sorrel, yellow sorrel, 
heueliera, chiekweed, catnij), cinquefoil, buttere-iip, speedwell, saxi- 
frage, live-forever, meadow rue, sniilax, horsetail rush, azalea, false 
goat\s beard, dandelion, cudweed. 

Rose hips, grapes, smooth sumac, dwarf sumac, staghorn sumac, 
scarlet sumac, poison ivy, partridge berry, thorn apple, cockspur 
thorn, scarlet thorn, mountain ash, wintergreen, bayberry, blackberry, 
huckleberry, blueberry, cranberry, sarsaparilla berries, greenbrier, 
hairy Solomon's seal, smooth Solomon's seal, black raspberry, rasp- 
berry, domestic cherry, cultivated plum, wild black cherry, wild red 
cherry, elder, red elder, black haw, nannyberry, withe rod, maple- 
leaved arrow wood, high -bush cranberry, mountain cranberrj', snow- 
berry, feverwort, black huckleberry, black alder, flowering dogwood, 
bunchberry, cornel, silky cornel, pepperidge, mulberry, bittersweet, 
manzanita, barberry, Virginia creei^er. 

By saving or propagating the plants in this list, some- 
thing may be done toward increasing the numbers of this 
persecuted game bird. 




In the grass field or meadow, as in the wood lot, natural 
conditions are simulated. Each year until haying time the 
grass ofi-ers cover and shelter for the nests of such birds 
as breed on the ground in natural meadows, savannas, or 
prairies. The grass and other plants of the field also pro- 
vide food for birds, and for insects on which birds feed. As 
in woodlands, there is established a natural interdependence 
between the bird and its food and shelter, —the insects and 
the grass. 

^ The habits of birds that live in fields have become ad- 
justed to those of the native insects Avhich also live there, 
so that the abundance of these insects is largely controlled 
by these birds, while the abundance of the birds is regulated 
chiefly by the rise and fall of the insects on which they feed. 
Some of the most useful birds of the farm live and breed in 
the fields ; others breed along walls and fences. Early cut- 
ting of the grass on fields and meadows reduces the num- 
ber of birds that breed there, for it destroys their nests or 
takes away the shelter of the grass from their young ; but 
it also checks the grass insects, and exposes them to attacks 
from Robins, Crows, and other birds that nest in woodland 
or orchard, but prefer to feed in the field. 

When, for any reason, the numbers of birds in the field 
are insufficient, insects increase ; but in such cases the field 
birds are assisted in their work by birds of shore, swamp, 
orchard, and woodland. A similar service is often recipro- 
cated to orchard or woodland by the birds of the fields, 
many of which flock to the trees to quell outbreaks of cat- 
erpillars or other tree pests. 

Grasshoppers, army worms, cutworms, and the grubs of 
May beetles are among the most destructive insect enemies 
of the grasses of this State. Nearly all field birds feed upon 


such insects. Without birds it is doubtful if crops of grass 
could be raised ; for the grub of a single species of beetle, 
if unchecked, could readilj^ destroj^ all the grass roots of 
our meadows ; and any one of several species of cutworms 
or army worms might be sufficient to destroy all the crops 
above ground. As it is, however, where the birds of the 
tield are undisturbed they tend to hold the grass insects in 
check, so that the farmers are able to get good crops of 
grass without using any insecticides whatever. Therefore, 
we are largely indebted to birds for our grass crop. 

Wherever the numbers of birds are nmch reduced, there 
is danger of a corresponding reduction in the grass yield. 
Prof. J. Y. P. Jenks once told of an experience related to 
him regarding an occurrence man}^ years ago in Bridgewater, 
Mass. A great hunt was held by the townspeople in the 
spring of the year, and so many birds were killed that their 
bodies were used to fertilize the soil. The following sum- 
mer the trees in that town were stripped of their leaves, and 
great patches of grass withered awa}^ and died. Such results 
must be expected wherever the miml)er of birds in a reo:ion 
is suddenly and greatly reduced, and the pressure exerted by 
them upon the hosts of insects is as suddenly released. 

In preparing the garden or cultivated field, natural condi- 
tions are overturned. If in making a garden we desire to 
use a piece of land covered with trees, we nmst first clear it. 
By cutting trees and uprooting and burning stumps and 
underl)rush we remove the natural shelter and nesting places 
for birds, and to a great extent destroy their food. Some 
woodland insects may persist, and later attack the growing 
crops ; but the l)irds which formerh' lived in the woods are 
driven away. 

If the land intended for our garden be natural meadow or 
prairie, we must disi)ose of the grass, and so the sod is turned 
under. As in the woodland, Ijoth the shelter and nesting 
places of the birds are destroyed, together with most of 
their food. Such insects as pass part of their lives in the 
ground, like the white grubs and cutworms, may survive and 
eventually come to live on the fruits of our labors ; but the 
birds are driven out. 


Usually there is no nesting place in the garden for tree- 
breeding birds, and the operations of tillage and weeding 
make nesting unsafe and impracticable for the ground birds. 
Where tillage is not very frequent or strenuous, a few birds 
may nest in the garden. There was a time when Sparrows 
frequently built their nests in potato hills, and Sandpipers 
reared their young in cornfields ; but more intensive cultiva- 
tion has driven them out. Birds noAv rarely breed in culti- 
vated fields or gardens, except where trees, bushes, or vines 
furnish them nesting places ; but the farmer prefers to have 
no trees in the garden, as they interfere with the cultivation 
of other plants, and so the birds are kept out. We have, 
therefore, practically no garden birds, and the service that 
we get from birds in the garden must be rendered by those 
which come there from woodland, orchard, swamp, field, or 
meadow, or those which, like the Swallows and Swifts, fly 
over the garden and take insects in the air. 

But if a bird comes into the garden, it is often regarded 
with suspicion ; and if it takes a few peas, strawberries, or 
a little corn, it is fortunate to escape with its life. All 
services the bird has rendered or may render are lost sight 
of in view of the fact that it has taken some of the fruits of 
man's toil. We can feed our cattle, our hoo-s, a vagabond 
homeless cat, a stray dog, or a tramp ; but if a bird claims 
any of our bounty, capital punishment is not too severe 
for it. 

The garden has become a paradise for insects. Here they 
find the most succulent food plants, finely developed, and 
grown in patches or masses, — often by the acre. Abundant 
opportunity is thus offered for the increase and spread of 
insects which confine themselves to a few food plants. In- 
sects leave the wild plants on which they formerly fed, and 
gather to the feast in the garden. They increase in numbers ; 
they multiply a thousand fold. The few birds that now ven- 
ture into the garden select such insects as they like best, and 
the rest run riot among the crops. 

Partly for the foregoing reasons, and partly because some 
of the most important garden pests have nauseous or poison- 
•ous secretions and are eaten b}^ few birds, we get much less 


assistance from birds in our gardens than in our woodlands 
or tields. Nevertheless, the few species that follow • the 
plow and glean among the various vegetables are of the ut- 
most value to the farmer, who in the ordinary course nmst 
depend largely on them to protect his crops from certain 
insects that are difficult of control. Cutworms, army worms, 
and cabbage worms are a fcAV of the garden pests which are 
eaten by birds, and which birds might control if sufficiently 
numerous. The S(|uash bug and the Colorado potato beetle 
are two insects which are seldom eaten, or by but few birds. 

Many of the birds of garden and field may be brought to 
assist the farmer in his battle against weeds. A weed is a 
useful plant in nature, and fulfils its purpose by filling bar- 
ren or unoccupied soil with roots, preventing a waste of that 
most valual)le fertilizing constituent, nitrogen, and adding, 
by its decay, to the amount of humus and plant food in the 
soil. In the garden and field, however, these wild plants 
are out of place, for the farmer wishes to cultivate the 
corn, the bean, the potato, or other useful plants and various 
grasses, all of which, if left to themselves, may be dwarfed, 
stifled, or replaced by a vigorous growth of weeds, which 
spring up unbidden from the soil. 

Dr. Judd tells us that a single plant of one species of 
weed may mature as many as a hundred thousand seeds in 
a season ; and if these were unchecked, they might in the 
third year produce ten million plants. In competition with 
this bewildering multiplication, the corn or the bean, the 
wheat or the rye, with their comparatively few seeds, must 
soon succumb. 

Constant use of the cultivator and hoe will do nmch to 
eradicate weeds from cultivated land, but they are always 
present in the grass field ; and, as most of the grass is cut 
after the seeds have ripened, and fed to farm animals, there 
are always weed seeds present in the manure which is used 
in garden and field. Thus the farmer annuallv sows weed 
seed in his cultivated land. 

Even when the garden is kept clear of weeds, there are 
still weeds around the edges of fields and gardens, and along 
roadsides, ditches, and hedgerows, which continually seed 


down the near-by land. Most land is fall of weed seed, 
which retains its vitality for from tive to seven years, so that 
Aveeds always spring u}) at once and spread rapidly in lands 
that are uncared for. The life of the gardener is a perpetual 
warfare against weeds. In this tight many birds of the field 
may be of some assistance against the weeds which annually 
spring up, ilourish, and die, and therefore are dependent on 
seed alone to perpetuate their species. A goodly number of 
the birds of the iield feed largely on the seeds of such weeds, 
and many of them subsist almost entirely on weed seeds 
during the fall, winter, and early spring. The (quantity of 
such seeds annuallj^ eaten by birds in Massachusetts is be- 
yond computation. Where seed-eating birds are numerous, 
they get nearly all the seeds of certain weeds ; and if the 
farmer takes pains to attract and protect them, they may be 
of great assistance to him in the problem of weed destruc- 
tion. Their benefits are greatest among hoed crops, for in 
such fields the largest number of weeds find opportunity for 

Dr. Judd says that the principal weeds which birds prevent 
from seeding are ragweed, pigeon grass, smartweed, bind- 
weed, crab grass, lamb's quarters, and pigweed ; but these 
are onl}^ a few of the seeds eaten by birds, as will be seen 
later. During cold weather many of the birds about the 
farm gorge themselves with the seeds of weeds, fiUino- stom- 
ach and gullet almost to the throat. Some species feed 
in weedy gardens and fields ; others are found more along 
the roadsides and the edges of thickets or woodlands ; while 
still others, like the Snowflake and the Meadow Lark, seek 
open fields by preference. As a single Snowflake can eat 
a thousand seeds of pigweed at a meal, the effect produced 
upon a weedy field by a flock of one hundred or two hundred 
birds is very marked. They alight among the weeds, and as 
fast as each bird exhausts its part of the supply it rises and 
flies over the flock to the untouched weeds beyond ; and so 
the flock rolls along, until perchance the birds have stripped 
the seed from practically all the exposed weeds in the field. 

The various species of birds have diff'erent feeding habits. 
Goldfinches, Pine Finches, and Crossbills, for instance, cling 


to the weeds and take the seeds from the stalks ; while Song- 
Sparrows and Chipping S})arrows subsist largely on such 
seeds as they can find on, or reach from, the ground. Song 
Sparrows, Fox Sparrows, and Tree Sparrows are persistent 
scratchers, and dig out seed that has already fallen, and is 
buried by dead leaves, straw, earth, or other litter. Meadow 
Larks and Quail are useful in dio'oincr out seed from the 
ground, which, already buried, would otherwise spring up 
and grow. When the snow is deep, a large })roportion of 
the seed-eaters must of necessity go south ; but as soon as 
the ground is bare, thev return to scratch and diiJ- for their 
favorite food. Thus, as various species of differing habits 
and different haunts frequent the fields and their borders, and 
as the work of one supplements that of another, they exert 
together a constant repressive influence against the undue 
multiplication of weeds. The ])irds most actively employed 
in consuming weed seed in field and garden are Sparrows 
and Finches, Blackbirds, Cowbirds, Meadowlarks, Doves, 
and Quail, 

Dr. Judd found about five hundred and twenty-five l)irds 
eating weed seed from a single acre of truck land on a ]\Iary- 
land farm, and estimated that they destroyed fort^^-six thou- 
sand seeds for their breakfast. About the last of April he 
attempted to learn what proportion of the weed seed on the 
])lace had been destroyed l)y birds during the ftill and winter. 
In a wheat field where ragweed was plentiful it was difficult 
to find half a dozen seeds in a fifteen-miimte search. In a 
growth of pigeon grass the examination of an area where 
there had been hundreds of seeds the year before would 
sometimes fail to disclose one ; and in some crab grass in the 
same field not one seed out of a thousand Avas left. 

The following list of seeds eaten by birds, taken from Dr. 
Judd's interesting account of the "Birds of a Maryland 
Farm," will serve to indicate the habits of the same liirds in 
Massachusetts. It will be noted that most of the weeds in 
this list are connnon here, and some of them arc very abun- 
dant, widespread, and troublesome. Chickweed seeds ma- 
ture very (juickly, and purslane has to be dug up and carried 
out of the field, else it will persist in spite of the gardener. 


Noxious Seeds 
Bull thistle {Gardims lanceolatus) . 
Beggar's ticks {Bidcns frondosa). 
Sneezeweed (Ildcuium autiim- 
nale) . 

Ragweed {Ambrosia artemisice- 
folia) . 

Giant ragweed (Ambrosia trijida) . 

Sow thistle (Softchus oleraceus). 

Dandelion ( Taraxacum taraxa- 
cum) . 

Wild lettuce (Lacluca sjncata). 

Black bindweed {Polygonum con- 
volvulus) . 

Pennsylvania iDersicaria {Polygo- 
num j^ennsylvanicicm) . 

Knotweed {Polygonum aviculare). 

Climbing false buckwheat {Polyg- 
onum scandens) . 

Bitter dock {Bumex obtusifolius) . 

Curled dock {Bumex crisjms). 

Sheep sorrel {Bumex acelosella). 

Crab grass {Panicum sanguinale) . 

Pigeon grass {Chcelochloa glauca) . 

Green foxtail grass {Choitochloa 
viridis) . 

Broom-sedge {Androjwgon virgin- 
icus) . 

eaten by Birds. 

Sheathed rush-grass {S2)orobulus 

vaginoi-florus) . 
Poverty grass {Aristida sj).). 
Yard grass {Eleusine indica) . 
Bermuda grass {Gapriola dacty- 

lon) . 
Paspalum {Paspalnm S2i.). 
Sedge {Vypcrus). 
Sassafras {Sassafras sassafras). 
Blackberry {Btibus villosus) . 
Pokeberry {Phytolacca decandra). 
Partridge pea {Cassia chama:- 

crisia) . 
Sweet clover {Melilotus alba). 
Tick-trefoil {Meibomia nudijlora). 
Snowdrops {Kneiffia fndticosa) . 
Chickweed {Alsine media). 
Amaranth {Amaranthus rctro- 

fexu.'i) . 
Trumpet creeper {Tecoma radi- 

cans) . 
Yellow sorrel {Oxalis stricla). 
Rib-grass {Plantago lanceolata). 
Spurge {Euphorbia maculala). 
Laml/s quarters {Chenopodixtm 

Purslane {Portulaca oleracea). 
Jewel Aveed (Impatiens) . 




The food of Thrushes is alhided to on p. 155, and the 
woodland Thrushes are described on the pages followino- it. 

American Robin. 

Merula mi<jratoria. 
Length. — Nine to ten inches. 
Adult Male.— Aho\e, dark gray, olive tinged, browner on wings; head and tail 

blackish, with white marks; breast ruddy, varying to bay; chin and lower 

tail coverts white ; throat white, with black spots. 
Adult Female. — Similar, but duller; liead and breast paler. 
To «?J5r. — Breast spotted with blackish. 

Nest. — Of grass and mud, on tree, wall, building, or bank. 
Fggs. — Greenish-blue ; rarely spotted. 
5e«so«. — Resident, but rarest in late December and early January. 

This large Thrush was named the Eobin by the early 
settlers of ]Massachusetts, because it resembled somewhat in 
color the little lied-breasted E()l)in of P^ngland. Ornithol- 
ogists since then have called it 
the Migratory Thrush and the Eed- 
breasted Thrush, but in vain ; thus 
custom perpetuates error. 

The American Robin, as it is 
now called, is the most generally 
common bird in Massachusetts, Its 
Fig. 125. — American Roi)in, habit of foraging On the ground in 

about oiie-lialf natural size. j i /» i i • ^ r. i 

gardens and fields, its fondness for 
fruit, its custom of seeking the vicinity of human dwellings, 
lawns, gardens, and cultivated fields, all have resulted in its 
increasing in numbers. As the forests were cleared away, 
the planting of fruit trees furnished it food and nesting 
l)laces : and so the Kobin became part and parcel of our rural 
civilization. It nests by preference in an apple tree near 
farm l)uildings, but almost any nesting site will do, from a 

PLATE XXV. — Robin's Nest in Hollow Tree. 


pine tree in the \voods to a wall overgrown with ivy, an over- 
hanging sand bank, or a shelf over a cottage door. The nest 
is usually strengthened with mud, but not always. Last sum- 
mer I found in a sand bank a nest that had no mud in its com- 
position. It needed none, for it was sunk in the sand and 
sheltered overhead by the overhanging turf. Ap})arently the 
birds were wise enough to see that in this case the mud was 
unnecessary. The Robin sometimes utilizes a hollow trunk 
for its nesting place, as may be seen by the accompanying 
cut, made from a photograph furnished by Mr. J. A. Farley. 

The Robin prefers to have a roof over its nest; therefore 
it usually places the nest in such a situation that the growing- 
leaves will shade it from the sun and shelter it from the rain ; 
but it often takes refuge under some roof built by human 
hands. Last summer I saw a Robin's nest built under the 
projecting roof of a small, open railway station. There the 
birds reared young, undisturbed by passengers or trains. 

The economic position of the Robin has been discussed 
almost as freely as that of the English Sparrow or the Crow. 
Many fruit growers have long looked upon the Robin as an 
inveterate enemy, and it cannot be denied that this bird is 
sometimes a serious pest to the grower of small fruits. It 
is often asserted that the Robin and Catbird select the very 
choicest fruits. Professor Real, however, believes that this 
is an error, and that the birds rather prefer wild fruit that is 
insipid or disagreeable to man. 

My experience wdth birds in the strawberry bed con- 
vinced me, nevertheless, that Robin and Catbird picked out 
the reddest, ripest, and sweetest varieties in preference to all 
others. To test this preference, I set out here and there a 
plant of one of these varieties among the l)eds of more com- 
mon fruit. In every case the birds found these plants and 
took about all the fruit. But I am led to believe, from what 
is known of their habits, that they selected this fruit by its 
color rather than by its taste or quality. When the early 
cherries are ripening, the birds attack the first point where a 
cherry turns red. The choice early fruit is taken because 
there is no ripe wild fruit, and at this season the birds have 
had no juicy berries for months, and are "fruit hungry." 


The destruction of small fruits by Robins usuall}' bears 
hardest on small growers, or on families who raise onlj' a 
little fruit for their own use. Large strawberry growers have 
told me that the birds do them no noticeable harm, nor have 
I known of any very serious and widespread destruction of 
cultivated fruit by Eobins in this State. Much harm is said 
to have been done by them in other States, however, notal)lv 
in New Jersey and C^alifornia. 

Notwithstanding the fact that the liobin is sometimes in- 
jurious to the interests of the small-fruit grower, it is one 
of the most useful of all birds to the fjirmer and orchardist, 
being probably as indispensable to the farm as any bird that 
could l)e named. The problem that nuist be solved by the 
fruit grower is how to prevent the Robin from destroying 
small fruits, for the farmer and orchardist are interested in 
seeing the numbers of this bird increased rather than dimin- 
ished. The value of the bird to the farmer consists in the 
following facts. It remains in Massachusetts a large part 
of the year, and during the spring and early summer it lives 
almost entu'ely on insects and worms, while insects form a 
considerable portion of its food for the rest of the season. It 
forages on fields, lawns, and cultivated grounds for many of 
the insects that the farmer finds most difiicult to control. It 
also destroys many caterpillars, including hairy species, of 
orchard, woodland, and shade trees. 

Professors Jenks in ^Massachusetts, Kino: in Wisconsin, 
Forbes in Illinois, and Beal at Washington, and Mr. Wilcox 
in Ohio, have each studied the food of this bird. All these 
gentlemen regard the Robin as beneficial except Mr. Wilcox, 
who, while giving it due credit for a certain amount of the 
good that it does, believes that the small-fruit grower should 
be allowed to protect his crops by killing Robins where it 
seems necessary. It should l)e noted, however, that a large 
proportion of the Robins that Mr. Wilcox examined were 
shot about the fruit garden on the experiment station 
grounds when the fruit was ripe ; and their food for the 
time being would not fairly represent the average aliment 
of the Roliin, any more than would the food of the Robins 
shot about ]Mr. Trouvelot's insectary correctly represent the 


ordinary food of the bird in that region. In the one case 
much fruit and few insects were found in the birds' stom- 
achs ; in the other case the birds' stomachs were filled with 
the caterpillars of the American silkworm which Mr. Trou- 
velot was breeding, and contained no fruit, although wild 
berries were plentiful all about. The Robin might be a pest 
in Ohio and a blessing in Massachusetts. It is a great fruit 
eater, but it takes none of man's products except fruit, and 
in Massachusetts small fruits alone suffer materially from its 

Professor Beal, who probably has examined more stomachs 
of Robins from difterent regions than any other investigator, 
states that vegetal)le food formed nearly fifty-eight per cent, 
of the contents of three hundred and thirtj' stomachs ; forty- 
seven per cent, of the vegetable matter consisted of wild 
fruits, and only a little more than four per cent, of varieties 
that were possibly cultivated. This seems to sustain the 
contention that, where wild fruit is plentiful, as it is in many 
parts of the country, it is preferred by the Robin to culti- 
vated fruit. The greatest quantity of cultivated fruit is 
eaten in late June and in early Julj^ when early cherries 
and strawberries ripen, and before there is much ripe wild 
fruit. Thus in Illinois Professor Forbes found that in June 
fifty-five per cent, of the food of the Robin consisted of 
cherries and raspberries, and fourteen birds that he exam- 
ined, killed in July, had revelled in the fruit garden. Rasp- 
berries, blackberries, and currants formed seventy-nine per 
cent, of their food. Cherries made forty-four parts of the 
food eaten in August by fourteen birds, but two-thirds of 
these cherries were wild. 

Where early wild fruits are plentiful the Robins do far 
less injury to cultivated fruits. A list of the wild fruits eaten 
by birds is given in another chapter. The Robin eats nearly 
all of them ; therefore it is unnecessary here to speak fur- 
ther of the vegetable food of this bird, except to mention 
a few of its favorite fruits. Among these are : wild cher- 
ries, wild grapes of several species, the berries of the sour 
gum or tu})elo, smilax, greenbrier, holly, all species of 
sumac, poison ivy, elder, huckleberries, blueberries, black- 


berries, cranberries, and Juneberries. The methods of 
protecting cultivated fruit against the Robin are given 

The Robin is the "early bird that catches the worm.'' 
Who has not seen it hopping over the Held or lawn, with 
head erect, looking and perhaps listening for 
worms and grubs? All know the skill with 
which it finds them and drags them forth 
to daylight. Robins destroy numbers of 
earthworms every spring, and throughout the season they 
get as many as they can readily find. Earthworms have been 
considered useful creatures since Darwin's studies showed us 
how they help to cultivate the soil ; therefore at first sight 
we might regard the Robin's habit of eating them as injurious ; 
but worms are remarkably prolific, and were they to increase 
without check they might cultivate the fields and lawns so 
assiduously as to interfere with the growth of plants. Some 
city lawns where Ijirds are not plentiful have been rendered 
brown and unsightly by the numerous heaps of castings 
thrown up by the too plentiful worms. We may safely set 
down the earthworm habit of the Robin to its credit, so long 
as it merely assists in destroying the surplus crawlers. Earth- 
worms, however, form only a small part of the Robin's food 
for the year. Worms are not found much at the surface in 
early spring, and during the dry weather of summer they are 
too far down for the Robin to find them ; nevertheless, he 
is seen apparently " hunting worms " in the meadows and 
fields at any time from March to July, and in fact all through 
the season. If the ground is Imre in January or February, 
Robins may be found now and then searching the fields for 
insects ; if January and FelH'uary are snowy, they begin the 
search in March or early April. They find dormant cut- 
worms and other caterpillars in some numbers even in Feb- 
ruary. A very large per cent, of their food in February and 
March consists of the larva> of March flies {Bihio alhipennix). 
Every investigator who has studied the food of Robins has 
found quantities of these insects in their stomachs. These 
larvre live in colonies, and feed mainly on decaying vegetable 


matter. They are usually harmless, but sometimes eat living 
roots, and are believed to be capable of doing serious injury 
to grass lands. The fact that Rolnns feed almost constantly 
on March fly larvae, thus keeping them under control, may 
account for the little injury that these insects ordinarily do. 
Professor Forbes took one hundred and seventy-five from the 
stomach of a single bird. Our bird is very destructive to 
caterpillars, especially the species that live on or near the 

The cutworm is the early worm that the Robin gets. These 
cutworms (the larvte of Noctuid moths) are dull-colored, hair- 
less caterpillars, that are most often seen on the ground. 
They usually hide during the day about the roots of plants, 
under matted grass, or under the loose soil along rows of 
plants in the garden. They come out of their hiding places 
at dusk, and feed. Their destructiveness consists in their 
manner of feeding. They often eat away the stems of young 
plants near the ground, thus destroying many plants for the 
sake of a few mouthfuls of food. Young cabbages, tomatoes, 
beans, etc., fall victims to these pests. Where cutworms are 
numerous, nothing can be successfully grown until they are 
killed ofl\ Probably the various species are individually and 
collectively the most destructive of all caterpillars. 

The Robin is abroad at the first break of day and until the 
dusk of evening. He finds the cutworms in the morning 
before they have crawled into their holes, and at night when 
they first venture out ; and he digs them out of ihe earth at 
all hours of the day. Perhaps no other bird is so destructive 
to these caterpillars in gardens. Professor Forbes found that 
cutworms and other caterpillars formed thirty-seven per cent, 
of the food of nine Robins taken in March. Wilson Flao-g 
watched the Robins about his house during a drought in Julv, 
when earthworms were not to be had. He asserted that the 
female bird carried ofi" a cutworm as often as once in five 
minutes, and that he saw her take two and even three at a 
time. Professor Forbes found that nine May Robins had 
eaten cutworms to the extent of twenty per cent, of their 
food. These birds were taken in an orchard where canker- 


worms and other insects were })lentifiil. This shows what 
an extraordinary number of cutworms Robins will eat, even 
when other insect food may easily l)e had. 

They are not at all particular regarding the kind of cater- 
pillars the}'^ secure, but feed eagerly on most common species ; 
even the woolly bear {Inia isahella) falls a victim. Wher- 
ever the gips}^ moth, the brown-tail moth, or 
the forest tent moth swarm, the Robin eats 
their caterpillars. All the spanworms seem 
to l)e favorite morsels. The Ro))in takes can- 
kerworms, tent caterpillars, curculios, leaf- 
eating and wood-boring beetles, and ground 
beetles. Many wire worms are taken, but 
gfub, ea7eii by ^^e Robin renders no greater service on the 
Robins. farm than the destruction of the white grubs 

of May beetles and so-called "June bugs" of the genus 
Lachnosterna. These white grubs, if unchecked, destroy 
the roots of grasses to such an extent that they ruin the 
sod of meadows and fields, killing all the grass. In such 
cases the top of the dead turf may be peeled off, a mere 
worthless mass of dead, straw-like vegetation. The grubs 
cut off strawberry plants just below the ground, killing the 
plants and sometimes ruining whole beds. Corn and other 
grains are destroyed. Potatoes, turnips, carrots, and root 
crops of all kinds are eaten and ruined. Where the grubs 
are plentiful, hardly a plant is safe from their ravages. 
By reason of their subterranean habits, they are so difficult 
of control that were they not checked by their natural ene- 
mies it might be impossible for the farmer to raise hay, grain, 
or vegetables. Careful ol)servation during three years on a 
farm convinced me that the Robin ranks first among the 
natural enemies of the white grub. In 1901 my garden was 
seriously infested with white grubs ; there was some fear that 
it would be difficult to raise either straw])erries or roots ; but 
it was soon seen that something was digging funnel-shaped 
holes alono; the rows, and taking out the grubs. A close 
watch was kept, to discover the author of this good work, 
and it Avas invariably found to be the Robin. The birds 
seemed to locate the grubs either by sight or hearing, and 

PLATE XXVI. — Robin on Nest. (Photograph from life.) (Copy- 
rlglit l)y V- \. lieed.) (From tlie annual report of the Massachu- 
setts State Board of Agriculture, 1902.) 


dug down to them. The hole was often two to three inches 
deep, and they found the grubs unerringly. They might 
not have been able to do this had the surface not been kept 
well fined and mellow. 

The Robin revels in a well-cultivated garden. If he is not 
molested, he will follow behind plow, hoe, or cultivator, and 
pick up the grubs that are turned up, before they are able to 
burj^ themselves in the soil. The Robins about our place 
soon learned to pick up grubs and worms that were thrown 
to them. The number that they find in a season is beyond 
computation. They were so diligent in our gardens and 
fields that the white grubs did no material injury. One 
mother bird that was following me one morning picked up 
three large grubs, one after another. She laid the first two 
down on hard ground, secured the third, and then after two 
or three futile attempts gathered them all in her beak and 
flew away to her nest near by, where she fed them to her 
eager young. The whole proceeding did not occupy over 
five minutes. 

Wherever these grubs appear in such numbers as to de- 
stroy the turf on lawns, the Robin is always the most efii- 
cient agency for their destruction. Robins flock to such 
places, and find more grubs than does any other bird. In 
meadows remote from houses Crows may be ecjually efiicient, 
but usually they are too shy to approach \QYy near occupied 
dwellings. The efficiency of the Robin lies in its skill in 
finding and digging out the grubs (an accomplishment in 
which it appears to excel all other l)irds), and in its num- 
bers ; for, except in villages and cities, where Sparrows are 
more numerous, Robins are the most abundant birds. As 
the season advances, Robins are often very destructive to 
grasshoppers ; all orders of insects sufl^er from their attacks. 
Even in June and Julj^ when the Robin eats cultivated fruit, 
insects comprise over forty per cent, of its food. 

The character of the food of nestling Robins is very im- 
portant, for the Robin normally rears two or three broods 
each year. Weed and Dearborn found that the largest 
single clement consumed by the young consisted of cut- 
worms and related cateri)illars, which formed twenty-seven 


per cent, of their food. In my experience, caterpillars and 
grubs form a very large percentage of their food, particu- 
larly cut^vorms. A goodly numl)er of earthworms are fed 
in spring, when they are to be had in abundance ; but cut- 
worms seem to be a ftworite food at all times. Beetles 
(including curculios, snap beetles, and wireworms), grass- 
hoppers, crickets, Noctuid moths, spiders, snails, katydids, 
grass blades (probably picked up with insects), and a few 
seeds, are all found in the stomachs of the young. 

IVIrs. Irene G. AYheelock watched the nest of a pair of 
Robins, and in three hours sixty-one earthworms, sixteen 
3^ellow grubs, thirty-eight other insects, four grasshoi)pers, 
and a few dragon flies and moths were carried to the nest- 
lings. The last few days that they were in the nest, food 
was brought to them every three minutes. 

The earliest broods reared get practically no fruit, but the 
late broods are fed some fruit while in the nest, and after they 
leave the nest they live more largely on fruit than do the par- 
ent birds, probably because it is easier to find than insects, 
which the young birds are at first not skillful in capturing. 

The Rol)in thrives wherever there are gardens and orchards. 
In the prairie States, where there is little native fruit, it has 
become very destructive to cultivated small fruits, and even 
to apples ; but in Massachusetts, where wild fruit is plenti- 
ful, its principal depredations may be mostl}^ obviated by 
planting early mulberries or shadberries. The Robin de- 
serves the protection it now receives from the law. 


Stall a stalls. 

Length. — Six and one-half to seven inches. 

Adult Male. — Above, bright azure blue ; breast and under parts bright chestnut, 

except the belly, which is white, or bluish-white. 
Adult Female. — Similar, but much duller or paler. 
Young. — Mostly brown, with blue on wings and tail; breast S2)eckk'd with 

brownish and M'hite. 
Nest. — In a hole in a tree, jiost, or in a bird liouse. 
Eggs. — Pale blue, rarely white. 
Season. — March to November; seen rarely in winter months. 

The Bluel)ird is perhaps first of all birds in the aflections 
of the rural poi)ulation of New England. Its gentle note, at 


first a mere wandering voice in the skies, comes down to us 
a sure augury of returning spring. The Robin, Song Spar- 
row, and Blackbird renew the vernal prophecy ; but when 
the Bluebird warbles gently from the leafless trees, and flits 
from fence to house top, we feel that 
the ver}^ spirit of the spring has come. 
The Bluebird is usually common, 
locally at least, in Massachusetts by 
the middle of March, and flights may 
be seen going south in September and 
October. The bird is seldom seen 
later than November ; but it is quite 
possible that occasionally a few winter Fig. 127.— Biueuud, about 

, 1 , T r 1 j^j^ j^i one-half natural size. 

in soutlieastern Massachusetts, as they 

have been reported there in December and Januar}^ and a 
few are said to winter in the same latitude in Connecticut. 
Wherever dense red cedar and sumac thickets are numerous 
and fruitful, there is food enough to carr}^ through the winter 
such Bluebirds as may venture to stay. It is quite probable 
that some of the early birds Avhich come from the south in 
February are starved and frozen during the extreme cold 
weather and snowstorms which sometimes follow their ap- 
pearance ; most of them, however, contrive to exist until 
warm weather appears. 

This bird often rears two or three broods. The male bird 
takes care of the young after they have learned to fly, while 
the female prepares a nest for the next brood. 

The Bluebird needs no defence ; it has long been regarded 
as a harmless species, for it takes practically none of man's 
products, and boards itself. Nevertheless, it is probably not 
as useful as the Robin, — a bird which has been widely reviled 
as a pest. However, the utility of the Bluebird must be ac- 
knowledged, although it perhaps eats more beneficial insects 
in proportion to the harmful ones than does the Robin. The 
Bluebuxl comes close to the Robin as a cutworm destroyer, 
and at times it is an eflicient caterpillar hunter. It is valu- 
able in the orchard in repressing outbreaks of cankerworms. 
As it eats the furry caterpillars of Arctians and other hair}^ 
species, it is of especial value in Massachusetts. It is a 


persistent foe of the Orthoptera. Grasshoppers constitute 
nearly twenty-two per cent, of its food for tlie year, and in 
August and September more than sixty per cent. Alto- 
o-ether, seventy-six per cent, of its food for the season con- 
sists of insects or allied forms, and the other twenh-four 
per cent, is made up of wild fruit 
and other vegetable substances, taken 
mainly in winter. In selecting its 
food, the Bluebird, like the Robin, is 
governed as much by abundance as 
by choice. The vegetable food of the 
Fig. 128. -The iJhiehinVs Blucbird provcs its liarmlessncss to 
'"'''"'■ crops. It consists almost entirely of 

wild berries ; a few blackberries are eaten, and a little grass 
and asparagus. Undoul)tedly the Bluebird well deserves 
the welcome annually accorded it. 


Five species of Wren are found in Massachusetts, but only 
one, the House Wren, was ever of nuich economic impor- 
tance in garden or field. 

The AVinter AYrcn is ordinarily seen in woodlands and 
thickets. It comes here chieily in migration, and is not 
common enoug-h to be of nmch service to man. 

The Carolina Wren is rare, and the two Marsh Wrens are 
seldom if ever seen excei)t in wet lowlands. 

House ^A^ren. 

Troglodytes acdon. 

Length. — About five inches. 

Adidt. — Upper parts lirown ; lower parts grayisli-brown, sometimes grayish- 
white ; wings, tail, and flanks faintly barred with blackish ; tail often held 

Nest. — Composed of sticks and rootlets, in a hollow tree or any accessible cavity. 

I''fni><- — Six to eight; wliite, thickly speckled with reddish-brown. 

A once connnon and familiar species, but now no longer a 
regular summer resident in the greater j)art of ^Massachusetts, 
the Wren is ai)parently doomed to give way liefore the ad- 
vance of the House (or "English") Sparrow. Attention is 
called, however, to the desirable qualities of the Wren, in 

PLATE XXVII. — Wren at Nest Hole. (PhotOiiTaph, from 
life, by C. A. Keecl.) (From American C)rnitliology.) 


the hope that wherever it still remains people may be induced 
to provide tenements for it and })rotect it from the Sparrow, 
and so assist it to increase in numbers. 

This sprightly little bird seeks the homes of man partly 
because of the nesting places afforded by the hollow trees 
of the orchard, and parti}- because of the number of insects 
it finds al)out house, barn, orchard, and garden. Its pert 
appearance, as it dashes about with short, upraised tail ; 
its bubbling, ecstatic song ; its sharp, scolding notes, as it 
creeps about the wood pile or berates the family cat, — 
were once familiar sights and sounds, not only about the 
farmhouse, but even in city yards and gardens, for, until the 
Sparrow came, the Wren was in many localities a common 
village and city bird. A valiant little warrior, it is well 
able to protect its young against the intrusion of other small 
native birds, and has even been known to defend its home 
successfully against the dreaded cat ; but it has given ground 
before the Sparrow mob, and is now rarely seen in the 
cities. The few individuals now left nest mainly in remote 

Its alarm note is a sharp chirp, but its song is an inde- 
scribable burst of melody. It l)ubbles forth as if the bird 
were too full of joyous music to express it properly, for the 
sweet and pent-up notes seem to crowd each other in the 
attempt to escape from longer confinement. In this respect 
the music is much like that of the Bo))olink, but it is entirely 
different in quality. In spring the males sing a large part 
of the time. 

The Wren is one of the most active of birds, and when its 
large and growing family is in the nest it is almost continu- 
ally occupied in searching the shrubbery, orchard, wood pile, 
fence, or wall, as well as the vegetables in the garden, for 
insects. Nest building gives scope to its feverish industry, 
and a single pair will sometimes build two or three nests at 
almost the same time, if they can find convenient receptacles 
for them. 

It is almost entirely beneficial in its food habits. Pro- 
fessor Beal finds that ninety-eight per cent, of its sustenance 
consists of animal matter, composed of insects and their allies, 


and two per cent, of vegetable matter, which is made up of 
bits of plants taken accidentally with the insects. Half of 
the animal food is grasshoppers and beetles ; the remainder 
mostly caterpillars, bugs, and spiders. 

The Wren does not range far from its nest, and when that 
is near the garden it gets a large part of its food there. In 
Medford we succeeded in getting two families of Wrens to 
nest in boxes, one on the house, the other in an appk' tree. 
The entrances to these boxes were round holes a little less 
than an inch in diameter. The Sparrows could not get in, 
and so the AVrens were unmolested. 

The only injurious habit of the Wrens seems to be their 
mischievous conduct in breaking- and even eating the esfo-.s 
in the nests of other birds. This habit seems to be common 
to individuals of this and other species of Wren, but it has 
been recorded so seldom in Massachusetts that no one need 
hesitate to put up boxes for them. Unless something can 
be done to provide for their increase, they are likely to 
disappear from the State. 


Some members of this group, particularly the Finches and 
Grosl)eaks, have been included in previous pages, among the 
birds of orchard and woodland (see p. 215) ; the remaining 
common species are mainly birds of the field that nest on 
or near the ground, and get most of their food in fields, 
gardens, or pastures. 

Although they are all seed-eating birds, thev live largely 
on insects during s})ring and early summer, and their young 
are fed mainly on such food. In fall and winter Sparrows feed 
on the seeds of grains, grasses, and weeds, although they 
are not then averse to insect food Avhen they can find it. 

Dr. Judd, in his important paper, "The Relation of Spar- 
rows to Agriculture," states that the value of these birds to 
the agriculturist is greater "than that of any other group 
whose economic status has thus far been investigated." He 
says, nevertheless, that the native Sparrows contrast markedly 
in this respect with the introduced "English" S})arrow, which 
is a pest. The great bulk of the food of Sparrows consists 


of seed, fruit, and insects. The native Sparrows destroy 
very little grain, great quantities of weed seeds and insects, 
and hardly any cultivated fruit ; they are, therefore, almost 
entirely harmless. They freciuent grass fields, cultivated 
fields, and gardens, and in some cases orchards ; thus their 
good work is done where it is of great benefit to the farmer. 
Dr. Judd tells us that the food of Sparrows consists of 
from twenty-five to thirty-five per cent, animal matter, and 
from sixty-five to seventy-five per cent, vegetable matter; 
this is exclusive of the mineral matter, which is mostly 
swallowed as an aid to digestion. Beneficial insects sel- 
dom amount to more than two per cent, of the food ; this 
is a very low average. The Flycatchers and Swallows take a 
very much larger per cent, of useful insects. Sparrows may 
do some slight harm in distributing the seeds of weeds ; but, 
as their stomachs grind the food most thoroughly, it is proba- 
ble that very few seeds pass through the alimentary canal in 
a condition to germinate. 

On the other side of the account we find that insect pests 
make up from ten to twenty per cent, of the year's food ; 
these are mainly grasshoppers and cutworms, army worms 
and their allies, and beetles, such as click beetles and weevils. 
Bugs are eaten in small quantities. While nearly all the 
native Sparrows eat Geometrid caterpillars, like the canker- 
worms, only a few have been known to eat the hairy species. 
Such weevils as injure clover and strawberries are destroyed 
in large numbers; also some flea beetles and leaf-eating 
beetles are eaten. 

The young of Sparrows are almost entirely insectivorous 
until they leave the nest ; and, as many of these birds usually 
rear at least two broods in a season, they do great good in 
the gardens and fields while rearing their young. 

When the good work of destroying insect pests is practi- 
cally over for the season, the Sparrows turn at once to the 
ripening seeds of weeds. The number of such seeds that a 
smgle bird will eat in a day has never been ascertained ; but 
a Tree Sparrow was found to have in its stomach seven hun- 
dred seeds of pigeon grass, and a Snowflake had taken at 
one meal a thousand seeds of pigweed. The Japanese mil- 


let (Panicum crus-galJi ), a wild barnyard grass or weed 
improved by cultivation, is much sought by birds. The 
seed is larger than that of most weeds, and yet a single 
Sparrow will eat a large number in a day. During the hard 
winter of 1903-04 about thirty Sparrows came to our window 
to feed on this seed, which was there supplied to them. Sev- 
eral hours of each morning and afternoon were thus spent. 
As they were constantly moving and changing positions, it 
was difficult to follow any one bird more than a few minutes 
at a time ; nevertheless, some accurate figures were obtained 
regarding the number of seeds eaten in a given time by cer- 
tain birds. A Fox Sparrow ate one hundred and three seeds 
in two minutes and forty-seven seconds. There were five 
Juncos eating at about the same rate all this time. A Song 
Sparrow ate thirty-four seeds in one minute, ten seconds ; 
a Junco ate twentj-eight in forty-eight seconds ; another, 
sixty-six in one minute, eleven seconds ; another, one hun- 
dred and ten in three minutes, forty-five seconds ; while a 
Song Sparrow ate one hundred and fifty-four in the same 
length of time. This Song S})arrow had been eating for about 
half an hour before the count began, and continued for some 
time after it was finished. A Junco ate ninety-three seeds in 
two minutes, fifteen seconds ; and another ate seventy-nine 
in two minutes, twenty seconds. It is readily seen that 
thirty seeds a minute was below the average for these birds ; 
and if each bird ate at that rate for but a single hour each 
day, he would destroy eighteen hundred seeds each day, or 
twelve thousand, six hundred a week. There were many 
days, when the ground was covered with snow, that certain 
birds spent several hours each day eating seeds at my win- 
dow. This we know, for there were but two Fox Sparrows 
and two Song Sparrows in the neighborhood, and all four 
were often at the window at the same time. Most of the 
day the birds, when not at the window, were picking up such 
seeds as they could get elsewhere from the weeds about the 
place or from the chaff and hayseed provided. They ate 
more than a bushel of seed at the window, besides all the weed 
seeds they found elsewhere. Moreover, they ate hayseed that 
they picked up in the barn and sheds, and fine particles of 


grain and small seeds that they found in the poultry yards 
and scratching-sheds. When Professor Beal states his belief 
that the Tree Sparrows in the State of Iowa eat eight hundred 
and seventy-five tons of weed seeds in a winter, it seems, in 
view of our experience, a low estimate. 

Not far from the house was a patch of Japanese millet about 
ten rods long bv one wide. This was allowed to stand until 
fully ripe, and then reaped and threshed out for the seed. 
As it stood a little too long, much seed fell and was left on 
the ground for the ])irds, — probably two l)ushels or more. 
During the winter they cleaned this up so thoroughly that 
only about a dozen stalks sprang up the next spring at one 
end of the patch. 

When Sparrows flock normally about a weed patch, they 
gather up nearly ninety per cent, of the seed during a winter ; 
but when more are attracted l)y extra food, they often get 
nearly all the seeds, as they did that year about our garden. 
Dr. Judd examined a rectangular space of eighteen inches 
where Sparrows had been feeding in a smartweed thicket. 
He found eleven hundred and thirty nuitilated seeds, and 
onlv two whole ones. No smartweed grew there the follow- 
ing year. Sparrows were still feeding on these and similar 
seeds on May 13, and a diligent search showed only half a 
dozen whole seeds in the Held, Weed seeds form more than 
half the food of mature Sparrows for the year. 

This great group of birds comprises species of such varied 
habits that it is represented everywhere. Sparrows, Finches, 
Grosbeaks, or Buntings are found not only in the woods, 
fields, and city streets, but in swamps and marshes, and 
among the desert sand hills of Cape Cod and Ipswich. They 
range from the mountain to}) to the sea level, and from the 
shores of the sea to the farthest western boundary of the 
State ; even at sea migrating Sparrows are sometimes seen, 
for they not only cross wide bays and estuaries, but they 
visit remote islands, and are sometimes blown out to sea. 

In the following pages some of the more common and 
useful species will be considered. The "English" Sparrow 
will be treated amonof the enemies of l)irds. 



Pig. 129. — Indigo Bunt- 
iiig, mule, about one-half 
natural size. 

Indigo Bunting. Indigo Bird. 

C>ja?iospiza cyaiie<t . 

Length. — About five and one-half inches. 

Adult Male. — Bright, lustrous indigo-hlue, deepest on head, and often with a 

greenish tinge ; wings and tail dark brown, with blue marks and tints. 
Adult Female and Young. — Upper parts light brown, sometimes faintly, but 

never promuu^ntly, streaked ; under parts brownish-gray ; breast and sides 

faintly streaked. 
Xest. — In low bush. 
Eggs. — White. 
Season. — May to September. 

This bright bhie Bunting is one of the most brilliant of 
northern birds. The color of the male is so dark that at 
a distance it seems almost black. The 
male requires three ^ears to attain full 
plumage. It frequents bushy pastures, 
sprout lands, and old fruit gardens 
grown up to weeds. In late August 
and September it is seen in sweet-corn 
patches or cornfields. 

Its song is a rather rich and pleas- 
ing refrain, with a metallic rinij or iino'le. A few notes 
seem to exhaust its vocabularj^ and its breath at the same 
time, but it is soon ready to try again. Perseverance is its 
unfailing virtue, for it sings, intermittently, all through the 
long, hot summer day. Its alarm note is a sharp c/n'p. 

It feeds more on the caterpillars that infest trees and 
bushes than do most Sparrows, and takes man}^ such larvae to 
its young. It is fond of grasshoppers, 
and takes some insects from the garden. 
It eats the birch plant louse with avidity. 
A few flies, mosquitoes, or gnats are 
taken ; cankerworms and other measur- 
ing worms, the larvte of several species of pig. 130. — indigo Bunt- 
butterflies, and the imagoes of nocturnal mg, female, 
ajul Tineid motiis, with small l)eetles of diflerent species, con- 
stitute a portion of its insect food. The larger part of its food 
consists of seeds, many of which are those of Aveeds. During 
its short stay with us it is one of the few useful species seen 
much about the garden, and is of some service in the orchard. 



Song Sparrow. Ground Sparrow. Ground Bird. 
Melosjnza cinerea rnclodia. 

Length. — About six and one-lialf inches. 

Adult Male. — Above, brov.n ; the back streaked with a darker shade; top of 
liead reddish-brown, mottled witli blackish streaks; a streak of light gray 
through center of crown and one over the eye ; a dark line through eye 
and two on the lower jaw; breast and sides whitish, spotted with dark 
brown, the spots usually massed in the center of breast, where they form a 
large spot or cluster ; tail roimded and rather long. 

Xe.^t. — Usually on ground or in bush, rarely in tree. 

Egyx. — Whitish, endlessly varied with browns. 

Season. — Resident, but not common m whiter. 

Few birds are better known than the Song SparroAv, and 
few are better friends to man. Those who do not know the 
bird will recoofnize it as the sweet sino-er of March and 
April, with a large blotch in the middle 
of its spotted breast. It prefers moist 
land near water, and may be found 
along the banks of brooks and the 
shores of ponds or rivers. The nest 
is often sunk in the sloping bank of 
some brook or ditch. Accordins^ to 
Thoreau, its song, as expressed by the 
country people, runs thus: "Maids! 
maids I maids ! hang on your tea- 
kettle-ettle-ettle." It has a charac- 
teristic chenk, evidently an alarm note, and several other 

The Song Sparrow is at home in rich, moist gardens, and 
feeds among cro})s like cabbage and celery, which are often 
raised on lowlands. It is destructive to cabbage plant lice 
and cutworms. It eats some caterpillars of the gipsy moth, 
the brown-tail moth, and several of the hairless pests among 
the Geometrids. Leaf hoppers and spittle insects, grasshop- 
pers, locusts, crickets, and click beetles are among the pests 
that it destrovs. It picks up a few snails and aquatic in- 
sects around the water. Flies and their larvaB are relished. 
Earthworms and spiders are frequently taken. Only two 
})er cent, of the food consists of useful insects ; injurious 
species make up eighteen per cent. The vegetable food 

Fig. 131. — Song Sparrow, 
about two-thirds natural 


consists of small fruit, mostly wild, four per cent, of grain, 
mostly waste, picked up in the fields, while fifty per cent, 
of the entire food of the year is composed of the seeds of 
weeds. Dr. Judd remarks that the chief value of this bird 
as a seed-eater lies in its habit of eating the seeds of polj'g- 
onum ; these seeds are not so much eaten by other birds. 
But the Song Sparrow eats the seed of chickweed, purslane, 
sorrel, dandelion, and dock, all of which are common in 
Massachusetts gardens. More than half the grass seed eaten 
belongs to such troublesome species as crab grass and pigeon 
grass. Witch grass and barnyard grass are among the seeds 
that are often freely eaten by this useful bird. 

The Song Sparrow sometimes learns to come about the 
door for crumbs. A pair built a nest on the ground in our 
garden ; but a cat found it. Then a nest was buiLt in a bush ; 
this suffered a fate like the first. Then the birds went up 
high among the thick sprouts on the trunk of an elm, l)uilt 
another nest, and reared their young in safety. They were 
wiser in their way than men, who, in spite of their superior 
intelligence, continue to build their homes on the shores of 
rivers which periodically overflow their banks, or on the 
slopes of volcanoes that occasionally burn or bury cities. 

The Song Sparrow is a bird to cultivate. Friendly, 
cheery, musical, harmless, gentle, useful, — what more can 
be desired? 

Slate-colored Junco. Black Snowbird. 

J unco hijcmalis- 

Length. — About six and one-fourth inches. 

Adult Male. — In winter, all upper parts, and lower parts from chin to breast, 
dark slaty-gray ; lower breast and belly white ; two outer tail feathers and 
part of third white ; bill pinkish-white, blackish at tip. 

Adult Female. — Similar, but lighter, and usually more rusty. 

Young. — Browner, and slightly streaked; throat and breast paler. 

yest. — On ground. 

Eggx. — White, spotted with brown. 

Season. — Resident, but most common in spring and fall. 

The Snowliird does not often breed in Massachusetts, ex- 
cepting on the higher lands of the north-central and western 
parts of the State. Pairs are said to nest occasionally in 
ice houses, which are certainly cool, if not suitable situa- 
tions. It is a bird of the Canadian fauna, and it winters 
in Massachusetts wherever conditions are ftivorable. In the 



southeastern portion of the State, where the ground is bare 

in sheltered places through much of the winter, or where 

weed seed, chaff, and other food can be secured, this bird is 

common in the colder months. Its notes at this season are 

chieflj^ Sparrow-like chirps. 

It is useful here mainly because of its consumption of 

weed seeds in spring, fall, and winter. Juncos come from 

the north with the 

first hard frost, 

and are among the 

most abundant of 

our fall migrants. 

Thej^ feed very 

largely on the 

seeds of amaranth, 

lamb's quarters, 

sorrel, wild sun- 
flower, and other 
pernicious weeds. 
A flock of these 
dark birds on the 
new-fallen snow is an interesting sight on a cold winter's 
day, as they come familiarly about the house or barnyard. 
Audubon says that in winter they burrow in stacks of corn 
or hay for shelter at night during the continuance of inclem- 
ent weather. As spring comes they begin to sing much 
like the Chipping Sparrow. They no^v converse together 
with a musical twittering, and about the first of May they 
leave for their northern l)reedina' ground. 

Fig. 132. — hlate-culored Junco, one-Half natural size. 

Field Sparrow. Bush Sparrow. 

Spi;:tlla pnsilld. 

Length. — About five and one-half inches. 

Adnh. — Ci-ov.'ii and back reddish-l.rown ; back feathers showuii; pale edgmgs 
and lightly streaked with blackish ; whitish wing bars : cheeks and sides 
of head-, to crown, gray; a reddish-brown streak behind the eve; below, 
gray ; breast washed with pale buff ; bill pale reddish. 

Nest. — On ground or hi low bush. 

Lgg-i- — Small, white, with rather fine brown spots. 

Season. — Ain-n to October. 

The Field Sparrow is a common summer resident of Mas- 
sachusetts. It arrives in southeastern Massachusetts some- 



times as early as the latter part of March, but usually delays 
its coming until April. It frec^uents bushy pastures and 
worn-out fields, or dry, sandy sprout lands. On its first 
appearance it seeks the shelter afforded by a wooded or bush}- 

southerly slope, and for- 
ages from the underlH'ush 
out into the fields. 

The song of the Field 
Sparrow is one of the 
sweetest sounds in na- 
ture. It is a fine, clear 
strain, opening with a 
few modulated notes, and 
ending in a pensive di- 
minuendo trill, as clear as 
the sound of a bell. It 
is a characteristic sound 
of the dry upland, when 
the still, warm June day 
sleeps upon the hills, and 
shinniiering heat waves 
rise from the warm turf. 
The bird has also a scries 
of kSparrow-like chirps 
and twitters, but nothing 
to compare with its song, which, though varied, is usually 
the same in character in all parts of Massachusetts. Dr. 
J. A. Allen says that the song of the males in Florida is 
very different from that of the northern birds. 

The Field Sparrow is generally shyer than the Song Spar- 
row or the Chipping Sparrow, and is usually found more 
away from the farm buildings, and in the open field, pastures, 
or " scrul)." It quite often alights on trees to sing or feed. 
I have found it feeding on cankerworms, tout caterpillars, 
and the caterpillars of the brown-tail moth. It is therefore 
of some value in woodland and orchard. It is seldom seen in 
the garden except when ripe weeds are to be found ; but it is 
more often found in cornfields and potato fields, and Gentry 
says that it eats cabbnge worms. It is useful in the fields. 

Fig. 133.- 

■Field Si)arro\v, one-half natural 



as It destroys May beetles, leaf hoppers, and sawflies. It 
eats more useful insects than some other Sparrows, and takes 
a good many spiders, some ants, and some earthworms. It 
also eats the seeds of many weeds, I)ut feeds largely on the 
seeds of grasses and a little grain, mostly oats. A dozen of 
these Sparrows collected in a wheat field had eaten no wheat, 
but were feeding on weed seed. 

The Field Sparrow, though less valuable to the farmer than 
some other species, is useful, and fills a place of its own. 

Chipping Sparrow. Chippy. Chipper. Chip Bird. Hair Bird. 

Hpizella socialite . 
Length. — Yiva to five and one-half inches. 
Adult.-Gvov,n bright reddish-brown ; back brown, dark-streaked ; a liglit-gray 

Ime over the eye, a blackish line through it ; cheeks and uaider parts light 

gray or pale ash ; tail slightly notched. 
ro?ni5r.— Breast, sides, and top of head streaked. 
i\^e.s^— Lmed with hair; m a bush, vine, or tree. 
Eggs.-Ught bluish, with a ring of dark spots around the larger end 
Season. — April to October. 

This is the little dooryard bird that nests in the apple trees 
about the house, and picks up crumbs on the old stone door- 
step. It is common in village dooryards, 
along the roads, in orchards, pastures, 
and particularly in gardens and plowed 
lands. It holds the distinction of being 
the most familiar and useful of all Spar- 
rows in the yard and garden. Unlike 
some other Sparrows, it is often found 
far from bushy coverts in the verv ron ^?' i=^*--<^*^'PPi»fe' 

-i±j Kjyj\%Di.\i^, 111 iiie veiy cen- sparrow, about one-half 

ter of plowed fields. natural size. 

The song of the Chipping Sparrow is a mere string of dry 
chqjs, sometimes repeated very rapidly and almost running 
into a trill, sometimes more slowly. On a spring morning 
the sound of the distant birds answering one another in dif- 
ferent keys gives an impression like the rising and falling 
of the breath of a sleeper in the fields. Occasionally some 
talented bird modulates its usual song, giving a somewhat 
more musical, varied rendition, which suggests some of the 
songs of Warblers. The ordinary noterare a variety of 



Fig. 135. — Moth of the tent caterpillar, 
natural size. 

chips, a sort of squeak, and a series of querulous twitters, 
uttered when the bird is angry. The males are sometimes 
pugnacious, and have been known to fight to the death. 

The Chippy feeds very largely in spring and early sunmier 
on small caterpillars, and is therefore very useful in the 

orchard, Mr. Kirkland saw 
a single bird eat fifty-four 
cankerworms at one sitting. 
The Chippy is destructive to 
hairy caterpillars. It was 
the Chipping Sparrow that 
fro(j[uently interfered with 
experiments upon gipsy caterpillars, by breaking through 
the net that enclosed them and stealing the hairy worms. 
This bird is a persistent enemy of the caterpillar of the 
brown-tail moth, the tent caterpillar, and that of the tus- 
sock moth. Nocturnal moths, particularly Arctians, and 
Tineid moths are caught in the air. Currant worms do not 
come amiss. It is destructive to the codling moth and the 
moths of the tent caterpillar and the forest tent caterpillar. 
In all, thirty-eight per cent, of the food of the Chipping 
Sparrow consists of animal matter, three-fourths of which is 
made up of noxious insects. 
In June ninety-three per 
cent, of the food consists of 
insects, of which thirty-six 
per cent, is grasshoppers, 
caterpillars form twenty-five 
per cent., and leaf-eating 
beetles six per cent. 

I have been much im- 
pressed with the value of this 
bird in the garden during the 
spring and summer months. 
It destroys at least three pig. ise. — chippii 
species of caterpillar on the 
cabbage. It is the most destructive of all l)irds to the 
injurious pea louse (^JSFt'ctarophora destructor), which caused 
a loss of three million dollars to the pea cro}) of a single 

Sparrows hunting 
beet worms. 

PLATE XXVIII. — Chipping Sparrows feeding their Young. 
(PhotoiiTaph, from life, by C. A. Reed.) (From the annual 
report of the Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture, 1902.) 


State in one year. It is a persistent destroyer of the grubs 
tliat mine the leaves of beets. I watched one bird secure 
eleven of these grubs in a few minutes. It feeds on the esfofs 
of the parsley butterfly i^Papilio pohjxenes) ^ and also takes 
young larvfB of this species and other insects from the leaves 
of celery, lettuce, and other small truck. I have no doubt 
that an investigation of the food of this bird in the garden 
would show it to be of great value to the market gardener. 
It likes to feed on cultivated ground, in the shade of the 
green leaves of vegetables. It oree})s about noiselessly up 
and down the rows, an unseen and unnoticed influence for 
good. Injurious beetles, bugs, leaf hoppers, grasshoppers, 
and ants are taken freely. 

Its vegetable food is of less importance than its animal food. 
It eats wild cherries, and Professor Beal says that he has 
seen it take a few cultivated cherries. Only four per cent, 
of the seeds eaten are grain, principally oats. Chickweed 
seed is commonly eaten, and some seeds of clover, ragweed, 
amaranth, wood sorrel, lamb's quarters, purslane, knotweed, 
and black bindweed ; forty-eight per cent, of the seed eaten 
is grass seed, of which twenty-six per cent, is crab grass 
and pigeon grass, — two common Aveeds. The seeds of crab 
grass form the most important part of the vegetable diet 
whenever they can be obtained, for then the birds fill them- 
selves with those only. Many Sparrows eat seeds whenever 
they are obtainable, even in summer, when insects are plenti- 
ful. The seeds of the dandelion are among the earliest that 
the Chipping Sparrow finds in sunnner. It frecjuently seeks 
the seeds of this plant on lawns. It takes them one by one 
from the opening heads, and spends so much time in this 
manner that it must consume a great deal of this seed. In 
August it sometimes visits oat stubble, Avhere it picks up 
fallen grain. 

Dr. Judd found that, on the one side, only one per cent, 
of the food eaten was composed of useful insects, while more 
than twenty-five per cent, consisted of insect pests; and, on 
the other side, grain composed four per cent, and weed seeds 
forty per cent, of the food. These figures clearly show the 
good service rendered to man by the Chipping Sparrow. 



Tree Sparrow. Winter Chippy. 

Spizella moyiticola. 

Length. — About six inches. 

Jr;«/^ — Crown chestnut; Hue over eye dull white ; line through eye dark (not 
black) ; back bay, black-streaked ; tail dusky, with light edgings ; two 
prominent white wmg bars; below, whitish; side of head, throat, and 
upper breast tmted with ash ; breast with a central dusky spot ; lower breast 
and sides tinged with pale brownish. 

Season. — October to April. 

Fig. 137. — Tree Spjirrow, about 
one-half natural size. 

The Tree Sparrow is a common winter resident of most 
parts of the State. The species is ahiiost as regular in ap- 
pearance as the Junco, l)ut not so plentiful. Though called 

the Tree Sj^arrow, it is largely a 
ground Sparrow while in Massa- 
chusetts. Wherever it can find a 
plentiful supply of food and good 
shelter it remains throughout the 
winter, unless driven south by 
snows so deep as to cover its food 
supply. It frequents thickets on 
the sheltered side of hills, near 
swamps, meadows, or weedy fields. 
In such fields it often feeds far from hushy cover, but flies 
quickly to the thicket upon the approach of danger. 

This species usually goes in flocks, and individuals are not 
commonly seen alone ; although a single l)ird may some- 
times be found with a flock of Juncos. It feeds mainly on 
the ground, and picks up the seeds of Aveeds as they fall. 
A snowfall merely brings tlie birds n(uirer the tops of the 
weeds, and so long as there is plenty of seed they are as 
happy as the Snowbirds. They can climb about aiuong 
the stronger weed stalks, clinging like a Goldfinch. Often 
two birds may be seen feeding from a single weed, while 
another hops about on the snow below, gleaning the seeds 
that fall. This species follows the Juncos into weedv vege- 
table gardens, and flocks about farms and haystacks to })ick 
up seeds. The Tree Sparrows are among the few birds 
that can "look our winters in the face and sins:.'" Thev 
are occasionally heard singing in November and December 


and late in February, when deep snow covers the ground. 
The song is among the sweetest of Sparrow notes, but not 
verj strong. It slightly resembles that of the Fox Sparrow. 
Like other Sparrows, they chirp and twitter from time to 
time, but the full chorus of a flock in Avinter is a sound worth 
going far to hoar. 

Seeds form ninety-eight per cent, of the Tree S[)arrow's 
food while it remains in the United States. It feeds very 
largely on pigeon grass, crab grass, and other grasses, and 
on the seeds of ragweed, amaranth, lamb's quarters, and 
other weeds. Only one per cent, of the food consists of 
grain, while fifty per cent, is weed seed. It therefore ren- 
ders some service, and does no harm. 

White-throated Sparrow. Peabody Bird. 

Zonotrichia albicollis. 

Length. — About six and three-fourths inelies. 

Adult Male. — Above, brown, bhxck-streaked ; crown black, with a central white 
stripe ; a white stripe above the ej'e, changing to yellow from eye to bill ; 
below this another black stripe extends along the sides of head behind the 
eye ; sides of head gray, a paler shade on breast ; large throat patch and 
belly white ; sides brownish ; wings Avith two inconspicuous white bars. 

Adult Female. — Similar, but duller. 

Young. — Crown dark brown ; line over eye huffy ; throat patch dirty white. 

Nest. — On ground or in a low bush. 

Eggs. — Pale, and heavily spotted. 

Season. — Si:)ring and fall; local in summer; very rare in winter. 

This large and handsome Sparrow is a migrant through the 
State in spring and fall ; many breed in the north-central 
and western parts of the State, some in northern Worcester 
County, and many others in the Berkshire 
hills. Occasionally one remains through 
the winter in the southeastern portion of 
the State ; but most of the White-throats 
that are seen here are j)assing south in Sep- 
tember and October, or going north late 
in April or during the first part of May. ^)^- 138. -white- 

^ o 1 J throated Sparrow, 

The great body of the AVhite-throats usually one-haif natural 
passes through the State within tlu'ee weeks 
in spring and fall. They find shelter in brush piles, thickets, 
or shrubbery, where they scratch about among dry leaves on 
the ground. 


The alarm note is a metallic cJtij) ; and the song, Avhicli is 
often heard in May, is a sweet whistled strain, which has 
been rendered "Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody," and 
from this fancied resemblance to these words it is called the 
Peabody Bird. 

In May, when the White-throat passes north, it is of some 
service in the destruction of beetles. In the fall it feeds to 
some extent on berries and berry seeds, but its main useful- 
ness at this season lies in the destruction of weed seeds. 
It is very fond of the seeds of ragweed and polygonum. 
Dr. Judd says that in October (wdien these birds are com- 
mon in Massachusetts) ragweed seed constitutes forty-live 
per cent, of their food. 

Grasshopper Sparrow. Yellow-winged Sparrow. 
Cotunuciilus sdvaiinaruin jxisscriims. 

Length. — About five inches. 

Adult. — Upper parts generally brown, streaked with black on back, much varie- 
gated, quail-like, and mixed with gray on rump; crown very dark, with a 
huffy line through it; a huffy-yellow stripe over eye; under parts buff, 
fading to whitish on the belly ; no noticeable breast streaks ; wings below 
the bend edged with bright yellow, ordinarily concealed from view ; tail 

Young. — Similar, Ijut breast streaked with blackish. 

Nest. — On ground. 

Eggs. — White, brown-spotted. 

Season. — May to September. 

The Grassh()pi)er SparroAV is common locally in eastern 
Massachusetts, but rare or wanting in man}^ localities. In the 
southeastern part of the State it is hardly locally common, 
except in Nantucket. It is found through middle and south- 
ern Worcester County and in the Connecticut valley, and is 
probably much more common than is generally believed, as 
it is never cons})icuous, and is largely confined to the open 
fields, where it readily hides in the grass. Mi not says "they 
frequent almost exclusively dry fields, particularlj- such as do 
not contain a luxuriant vegetation." While this appears to 
be true of eastern Massachusetts, where many neglected fields 
are of that character, it is not altogether true of Worcester 
County. Although this Sparrow is never found in swamps, 
it is seen occasionally in meadows, and often inhabits fertile 


grass lands and cultivated fields. Many ye^rs ago, in West- 
borougli, I found two nests of this species while hoeing in 
potato fields, and the birds were then common in a stretch 
of fertile rolling fields and meadows east of Worcester. 

It is never found habitually in meadows, however, like that 
closely related species, Henslow's Sparrow ; for, while the 
latter, so far as I have observed, always breeds in wet land, 
the Grasshopper Sparrow breeds on the slopes near by. I 
have never seen Henslow's Sparrow on the drier land ex- 
cept near Amherst ; and the Grasshopper Sparrow is rarely 
seen in wet spots, even where the two s})ecies occupy the 
same fields. While these two Sparrows are locally common, 
neither of them is generally so. They resemble each other 
so closely that it is rather difficult to distinguish them in the 
field except by their notes and their habitat. The streaks 
on the breast of the Henslow's Sparrow Avill identify it when 
they can be seen. The notes, however, are quite different. 
The conmion note of the Henslow's Sparrow somewhat re- 
sembles the syllable kee' c/i id-. When its nest is approached, 
the l)ird will allow the observer to get within a fcAV feet, as 
it moves through the grass like a mouse, reiterating this note. 
The ordinary notes of the Grasshopper Sparrow are a chirr, 
like the note of an insect, and a sharp chtcl'. The song, 
which is often uttered from the to}) of a wall, a fence, or a 
stone in the field, much resembles the stridulation of a long- 
horned grasshopper, and gives the bird its name. The lay is 
very weak, and often passes unnoticed, or is mistaken for the 
song of some fnsect. Minot gives it as chic' -chic' -a-tsee, with 
the chief accent on the last and highest sjilable, — a very 
good description. 

The food of this bird while in ^Massachusetts is probably 
about seventy-five per cent, animal matter, largely insects. 
This Sparrow is \ery destructive to cutworms, army worms, 
wireworms, click l)eetles, weevils, and grasshoi)pers ; spiders, 
mja-iapods, snails, and earthworms are eaten in small quanti- 
ties. It eats no cultivated fruit, very little grain, and some 
seeds of grasses and weeds. It takes fully forty times as 
many injurious as beneficial insects, and is one of the most 
useful birds of the fields. 


Savanna Sparrow. 

Passerculus sandwichensis savanna. 

Length. — About five and one-half inches. 

Adult. — Brown above ; feathers generally pale (or gray) edged, and dark-streaked ; 
a narrow whitish stripe through crown, and a yellow line above the eye; 
white or buffy below, thickly streaked with dusky ; a cluster of streaks 
on tlie breast is sometimes gathered into a blotch, as in the Song Sparrow, 
but the tail is short and notched, rather than long and rounded, as in the 
Song Sparrow, and not noticeably marked. 

Young. — Similar ; colors more suffused ; no yellow over eye. 

Nest. — On ground. 

Eggs. — Bluish-white, marked thickly with brown. 

Season. — April to November. 

The Savanna Sparrow is a common summer resident along 
portions of the seacoast, and through the central and western 
parts of the State. It is found along river valleys, in upland 
meadows, fertile fields, and pastures. In eastern and south- 
ern Massachusetts it breeds only locally or near the coast, 
but in Worcester County and through the central and western 
parts of the State it is common in favorable localities. 

Although a bird of the meadow or savanna, it is common 
in many open fields and pastures of the hill country. It has a 
Sparrow-like chirp, but its notes and song otherwise much re- 
semble those of insects, particularly the chirping of crickets, 
although the song is perhaps a trifle more musical than that 
of the Grasshopper Sparrow. Mr. Hoffman describes it well 
as two or three preliminary chirps, followed by two long, 
insect-like trills, the second a little lower in key than the 
first, thus : tslp^ fsij^, fsij), tseeeeeeeee, tse-ee-ee-ee. The song 
is often given from a stone, post, or fence. This bird is 
rarely seen oft' the ground, an occasional perch on a stone 
heap or fence being usuallj^ the onh' deviation from this rule ; 
but it sometimes perches fifteen to twenty-five feet up in a 
tree, or flies from tree to tree along the edge of a field. Al- 
though it often lives and breeds in the hill country, it may 
be seen in fresh- water marshes during migrations, and fre- 
quents such spots as are dear to Rails and Swamp Sparrows. 
In fhc south it is an inhabitant of wet fresh-water meadows 
or savannas. 

Nearly half the food of the Savanna Sparro\v while in 



Massachusetts consists of insects, mainly injurious species, 
such as are eaten by other Sparrows. It is particularly fond 
of beetles. It eats more ants than do most Sparrows, many 
cutworms, a few spiders, and some snails. The vegetable 
food consists largely of the seeds of pigeon grass, panic 
grass, wild rice, and marsh grasses. 

Vesper Sparrow. Grass Finch. Bay-winged Bunting. 
Pooecetes gramineus. 

Length. — About six inches. 

Adult. — Above, grayish-brown, finely streaked witli dusky; crown finely 
streaked, but with no dividmg line ; cheeks huffy, with a dark patch ; 
a narrow white eye ring; below, whitish (huffy where streaked), narrowly 
streaked with brown or black on breast and sides ; a bay patch near the 
bend of the wing ; tail dark, moderately long ; outer tail feathers white. 

Nest. — On ground. 

Eggs. — Dull white or huffy, with many spots, usually overlaid by large dark 
marks and scrawls. 

Season. — April to October. 

The Vesper Sparrow is, next to the Song Sparrow, the 
most abundant ground Sparrow in Massachusetts. It is gen- 

■ .?ii..T^ 

Fig. 139. — Vesper Sparrow, one-half natural size. 

erally distributed wherever there are open fields and upland 
pastures, but it is not a bird of the meadows, and is not as 
common in some parts of southeastern Massachusetts as else- 


where. It is not a dooryard l)ird, like the Chipping Spar- 
row or Song Sparrow, but prefers upland fields, hill pastures, 
and plowed lands, at some distance from the farm buildino-s. 
It is sometimes seen in vegetable gardens. 

It is not so closely confined to the ground as some other 
ground Sparrows, but perches on ridgepoles, wires, and 
trees. It frequently runs along the ground in pastures or 
potato fields, keeping just ahead of the observer as he walks. 
When the female is startled from her nest of young, she uses 
all her arts to entice the intruder away, fluttering along the 
ground with white-bordered tail spread conspicuously, and 
dragging her wings as if sorely wounded, — a tempting bait 
to lead the disturber away. The white outer feathers in the 
tail are not often clearly visible when the bird is standing, 
but usually may be seen when it flies. 

The song of this bird, while perhaps less cheery than that 
of the Song Sparrow, is sweeter, and seems to carry farther 
as it floats down from the hills after sunset. The bird some- 
times sings to greet the rising moon, and even flutters into 
the air, like the Skylark, Avitli an exquisite burst of song. 
Mr. Burroughs has well named it the Vesper Sparrow. The 
ordinary notes are the usual Sparrow-like chlpK and calls. 

In summer most of the food of this bird consists of in- 
sects, of which beetles and grasshoppers form the bulk. 
Since it frequents pastures, it picks up many dung beetles ; 
weevils, click beetles, ground l>eetles, and leaf beetles seem 
otherwise to Ije preferred to other kinds. Grasshoppers 
form the principal food in midsummer ; cutworms are also 
eaten, and the bird does good work as an insect eater in 
field and garden. It is also useful as a destroyer of weed 
seeds, eating less grass seed than some other Sparrows, but 
a great variety of the seeds of weeds which it finds in corn- 
fields and other fields, and in gardens. 


This family has been mentioned on ]). 224, and one of its 
meml)ers, the Baltimore Oriole, has been described amonof 
the birds of orchard and woodland (see pp. 224-228). 

The Rusty Grackle is a mere migrant through the State 


in spring and fall, and is not of much economic value here ; 
therefore, its description is omitted. The other species of 
the family will be considered here, for they all frequent 
meadows, grass fields, or cultivated lands. 

The Bronzed Grackle and the Purple Grackle are both 
found in the State, but, as they are alike in form, notes, and 
haljits, they are both known as Crow Blackbirds, and will 
not be treated separately. 

Purple Grackle. Crow Blackbird. 

Qttiscalus quiscula. 
Length. — Twelve to thirteen and one-half inches. 
Adult itfa/e. — Variously purple, green, blue, violet, and bronzy; wings and tail 

mainly purplish; dark purplish or steel-blue on neck and breast; hack 

greenish or bronzy ; iris straw-yellow. 
Adult Female. — Similar, but browner. 

Nest. — A bulky structure, often built in tall coniferous trees. 
Eggs. — Greenish, spotted and streaked with black and brown. 
Season. — March to November. (This form intermingles with the succeeding 


Bronzed Grackle. Western Crow Blackbird. 

Quiscalus quiscula ceneus. 

Adult Male. — Similar to above, but body brassy or bronzy; head, neck, and 
upper breast mainly .steel-blue ; wings and tail violet and steel-blue. 

Adult Female. — Similar to that of the Purple Grackle. Both the above forms 
look black at a distance, and then are not distinguishable from one an- 
other; both forms have the tail long. 

Nest, Eggs, and Season. — Like those of tlie Purple Grackle ; winters rarely. 

These birds, the largest of the liimily in Massachusetts, find 
their normal habitat about meadows or marshes ; but they 
have taken kindly to civilization, and, where they are not 
much persecuted, are common about lawns, fields, and o-ar- 
dens. They may often be seen walking about on Boston 
Common or in the Public Garden. They build their nests 
in tall shade trees near subur))an and city residences or about 
cemeteries, and they frequent well-kept lawns. They are 
so large and powerful that not even the Sparrow can drive 
them out ; and if the Sparrows attack their eggs or youn^, 
the Blackbirds are not slow to retaliate with eflect. 

These birds are conspicuous, and when close at hand are 
uimiistakable. The tail is often held with its outer feathers 
upturned like the sides of a boat, particularly when they fly, 



which they do usually at some height, in rather a labored 
manner, keeping about the same level. The ordinary note 
is a sort of hoarse, loud chuck, and the song sounds much 
like the rather musical creaking of a rusty hinge. They have 
also a metallic, jangling note, and when a number perch on a 

favorite tree and sing in chorus, 
the clanging and creaking they 
produce are indescribable. 

When not disturbed, they 
breed in companies, often in 
groves of white pine ; but where 
they are much shot at, they 
separate, and each pair finds a 
secluded place for its nest. As 
Fig. 140.- Crow Hi.Hkinni, mak', soou as tlic youug are reared, 

one-half u.ituial size. i • i . 

the birds gather m nocks of 
hundreds or even thousands, and forage toijether. In mi- 
gration they sometimes travel in immense armies, A great 
flight of these birds passed over Concord on Oct. 28, 1904. 
From my post of observation, on a hilltop, an army of birds 
could be seen extending across the sky from one horizon to 
the other. As one of my companions remarked, it was a 
great "rainbow of birds ; " as they passed overhead, the line 
appeared to be about three rods wide and about one hundred 
feet above the hilltop. This column of birds aj)peared as 
perfect in form as a platoon. The individual birds were 
not flying in the direction in which the column extended, but 
diagonally across it ; and when one considers the difficulty of 
keeping a platoon of men in line when marching shoulder 
to shoulder, the precision with which this host of birds 
kept their line across the sky seems marvellous. As the 
line passed overhead, it extended nearly east and west. The 
birds seemed to l)e flying in a course considerably west of 
south, and thus the whole column was gradually drifting 
southwest. As the left of the line i)assed over the Concord 
meadows, its end was seen in the distance, but the other end 
of this mighty army extended beyond the western horizon. 
The flight was watched until it was nearly out of sight, and 
then followed with a glass until it disappeared iu the distance. 


It never faltered, broke, or wavered, but kept straight on into 
the gathering gloom of night. The whole array presented 
no such appearance as the unformed flocks ordinarily seen 
earlier in the season, but was a finer formation than I have 
ever seen elsewhere, among either land birds or water-fowl. 
It seemed to be a migration of all the Crow Blackbirds in 
the region, and there appeared to be a few Kusty Blackbirds 
with them. After that date I saw but one Crow Blackbird. 
It was impossible to estimate the number of birds in this 
flight. jSIy companions believed there were "millions." 

The character of the food of the Crow Blackbirds is very 
well known. The large flocks in which they gather in autumn 
are very destructive to ripening corn, and some individuals 
destroy birds' eggs or young ])irds ; otherwise, in Massachu- 
setts the birds are largely beneficial. They sometimes i)ull 
up a little sprouting corn, })ut are not nearly so destructive 
in this respect as the Crows. Dr. Warren tells of the dis- 
section of thirty-one birds that were shot in a Pennsylvania 
cornfield : nineteen showed only cutworms in their stomachs ; 
seven had taken some corn, but a very large excess of in- 
sects, mainly beetles and cutworms, with earthworms ; the 
remaining five had eaten chiefly beetles. The Crow Black- 
bird industriously follows the plow, and picks uj) many 
beetles, grubs, cutworms, and some earthworms. In spring 
and summer its food in Massachusetts is mainly insects. 

Nearly twenty-five hundred stomachs of the species have 
been examined in Washington. The food for the year was 
composed of over thirty per cent, animal and almost seventy 
per cent, vegetable matter, which shows that the birds are al- 
most as omnivorous as the Crow. Insect food forms twenty- 
seven per cent, of the whole. The greater part is taken in 
sunmier. Beetles, particularly Scarabands like the "June 
buff" or "rose bus:," Carabids or ground beetles, curculios 
or weevils, form a large part of the food. The Crackles 
seem to be fond of white grubs, and the stomach is often 
packed with these insects. Crackles are not so skillful in 
digging them out as is the Robin, but they are sly enough 
to snatch the grub away from the Robin when he has secured 
one. They are very destructive to grasshoppers and locusts. 


which in August make over twenty-three per cent, of their 
food, and are found and eaten by them in nearly every month 
of the year. A good many caterpillars are eaten, mainly 
those species that are found on the ground, such as cutworms 
and array Avorms ; but the birds flock to caterpillar outbreaks, 
eating both hairy and hairless species. Crow Blackbirds de- 
stroy both gipsy moth and brown-tail moth ; bugs, ants, and 
spiders are eaten also. Mice, birds and eggs, frogs, lizards, 
salamanders, snakes, lish, crustaceans, mollusks, and snails 
form a portion of the Grackles' food. The vegetable food, 
beside corn and other grains, consists of rather a small (|uan- 
tity of fruit, mainly wild seeds, nuts, acorns, and weed seed. 
Seventy per cent, of the food of the young birds consists 
of insects similar to those eaten at the same season by their 

To sum up : the Crow Blackbirds, though destructive to 
corn and to a less extent to other grain, are indispensable 
because of the vast amount of insects they destroy. In the 
west they are so numerous that the farmer often must defend 
himself against them ; but in Massachusetts their destruc- 
tion is not often necessary, and they are seldom shot by 
husbandmen except Avhen gathered in flocks among the corn. 

Meadowlark. Old-field Lark. Marsh Quail. 

SttcrneUa magna. 

Length. — Ten to eleven inches. 

Adult. — Upper parts brown, with many dark-streaked, pale-edged feathers; tail 
short; outer tail feathers largely wliite; a light line through middle of 
crown ; a light line over eye, yellow from eye to hill, and dark streak 
behind eye; below, chiefly yellow, with a large black crescent on breast. 

Adult in Winter. — Redder above ; lower parts duller. 

Young. — Under parts paler; crescent replaced by a few black markings. 

Nest. — On the ground in a field ; usually arched over. 

Eggs. — White, with brown spots. 

Season. — Resident. 

This handsome and well-known bird is a common sunmier 
resident of Massachusetts, and often remains all winter in 
seasons when there is little snow, or in favored localities. 
In the southeastern part of the State, especially in Barnsta- 
ble Count V, it may usually be seen in winter in sheltered 
situations on marshes or meadows. During and after snow- 


Storms it becomes quite domesticated, and seeks food alono- 
roads and about dooryards and poultry houses ; but ordinarily 
the Lark is a shy bird, and keeps well out of gunshot in the 
open fields. This species has learned caution in the north 
because of continual persecution by gunners; but I have 
seen Meadowlarks as tame as Sparrows in the pine barrens 
of southern Florida. 

The Lark is a bird of i\\e meadows, as its name implies; 
but it also frequents dry fields, and sometimes may be seen 
perched high in a tree on some 
hilltop, from which it sings its 
clear refrain. Old fields are 
favorite nesting places, probably in 
part because the dead and uncut 
grass offers concealment for the nest, 
and in part because in such fields the 
nest is undisturbed by the mower. 
This bird is an adept at concealing 
its nest, which sometimes has a cov- 
ered approach. It resorts to strata- 
gem to puzzle the searcher. When Fig. i4i.-Meadowiark, 
the female comes from or goes to o-e-haif natural size. 

the nest she often runs through the grass for some distance, 
and seldom flies to it directly. Mrs. Irene G. Wheelock, 
in recording her attempts to find a nest, states that the male 
carried butterflies and dragon flies time after time to a point 
one hundred yards from the nest, in an apparent attempt to 
befool the searcher. 

Its flight is an alternation of fluttering and slow sailing, 
and it usually shows its white tail feathers often, especially 
on rising and alighting. When on the ground it does not 
hop like the Robin, but walks more like the Crow, occasion- 
ally opening and closing its tail, showing the white feathers 

Its common alarm note is a rather sharp chatter, not loud, 
but shrill, which often follows or precedes a long, pierc- 
ing call. The ordinary song is a rather plaintive but pleas- 
ing whistle of a few notes, the last usually held for several 
seconds. This song is uttered either from the ground, from 


a perch, or while the l)ird is on the wing. Rarely a talented 
individual soars aloft, uttering an ecstatic flight song, which 
compares favorably with that of the most celebrated song- 
sters. I have heard this in full volume but once, and then 
found it difficult to believe that it came from the throat of a 
common Meadowlark. It was not at all sugfo^estive of that 
bird's ordinary song, except in some of the last notes, nor 
did it in the least resemble that of the Western Meadow- 
lark ; it more resembled the music of the Bobolink, but was 
louder and not so hurriedly given. 

The Meadowlark is now quite generally protected by law 
at all times, and no bird more fully deserves such protection. 
It is practically harmless, and takes nothing that is of any 
use to man except a few small grains and seeds. On the 
other hand, it is one of the most useful birds of the fields, 
perhaps the most valuable. In summer almost ninety-nine 
per cent, of its food consists of insects and allied forms. It 
eats about all the principal pests of the fields, and is particu- 
larly destructive to cutworms, hairy ground caterpillars, and 
grasshoppers. In sunnner it gets but few seeds, but in fall 
and winter it takes many weed seeds. It visits weedy corn- 
fields and gardens in search of ragweed and other seeds, of 
which it devours enormous quantities, which make up about 
one-third of the food for the year. Even in winter it pre- 
fers insects when it can get them. Mr. C. W. Xash says, 
in his "Birds of Ontario," that several specimens shot in 
winter contained only insects, taken about market gardens. 
Professor Beal says that even in December and January the 
insect components of the food are thirty-nine and twent}^- 
four per cent., respectively ; and in March, when insects are 
still hard to obtain, the (juantity rises to seventy-three per 
cent. Professor Beal makes an ingenious and very moderate 
estimate, from which he concludes that twenty-five dollars' 
worth of hay is saved annually in an ordinary township 
by Meadowlarks, through their destruction of grasshoppers, 
and he values hay at only ten dollars per ton. When we 
consider that grasshoppers, green grasshoppers, locusts, and 
crickets all together form twenty-nine per cent, of the food 
of this bird for the year, and that it is almost entirely in- 


sectivorous by preference, and when we consider also the 
additional injury that must occur were the insects and their 
progeny allowed to increase through a lack of Meadowlarks, 
the value of the bird becomes evident. 

Red-winged Blackbird. Marsh Blackbird. 

Ageldius pho'iiicctis. 
Length. — About nine and one-half inches. 
Adult J/a7e. —Black, with a light-edged scarlet patch at hend of wing; often 

only the light edges of this patch show when tlie wuigs are closed. 
Adult Female. — Smaller; grayish-brown, streaked heavily witli dark browner 

Younf/. — Similar to female. 
Xest. — In grass or bush ; i-arely in a tree. 

Fggs. — Pale bluish, with spots and scrawls of darker colors and black. 
Seaso7i. — March to August. 

Few birds are better known than the Red-winged Black- 
bird. Almost every small bog hole or swamp about the farm 
harbors a pair or more of these birds. They are common 
about ponds and meadows. The 
males arrive in flocks, usually in 
March, and sometimes may be 
heard singino- oaily while the oround 
is still dee])ly covered with snow . 
Their song is as characteristic a sign 
of spring as is that of the early wood 
frog, and their notes have something 
of the same quality. They carry 

,• ,. 1 rni Fig. 142. — Red-winded Black- 

a suggestion ot boggy ooze. The ,,i,.,i, ,„,,ie, one-half natural 

common note is a single r/tuck, and s'^''- 

the ordinaiy song resembles the syllables quong-ka-reee' , the 

first two uttered quickly. Some individuals have a more 

musical song, ending with a jingle akin to that of the 


Although the Red-wings almost invariabh' breed in the 
swamp or marsh, they have a partiality for open fields and 
plowed lands ; and most of the Blackbirds that nest in the 
smaller swamps adjacent to farm lands get a large share of 
their food from the farmer's fields. They forage about the 
fields and meadows when they first come north in spring. 
Later, they follow the plow, picking uj) grubs, worms, and 


caterpillars ; and should there be an outbreak of canker- 
worms in the orchard, the Blackbirds will Hy at least half a 
mile to get cankerworms for their }'oung. Wilson estimated 
that the Red-wings of the United States would in four months 
destroy sixteen thousand, two hundred million larvae. 

They eat the caterpillars of the gipsy 
moth, the forest tent caterpillar, and 
other hairy larvse. They are among the 
most destructive 1)irds to weevils, click 
beetles, and wire worms. Grasshoppers, 
ants, bugs, and flies form a portion of 
Fig. 143. — Red-winged the Rcd-wiiigs' food. They eat com- 
i5ia,ki,ird, female, a.,out p^rativcly little grain in Massachusetts, 

one-half natural size. ^ J ?^ j i/i. , 

although they get some from newly sown 
fields in spring, as well as from the autumn harvest ; but 
they feed very largely on the seeds of weeds and wild rice 
in the fall. In the south they join with the Bobolink in 
devastating the rice fields, and in the west they are often so 
numerous as to destroy the grain in the fields ; but here the 
good they do far outweighs the injury, and for this reason 
they are protected by law. 

Cowbird. Cow Blackbird. Cow Bunting. 

Molothnis ater. 

Length. — Seven and one-half to about eight inches. 

Adult Male. — Lustrous black, with a rich, lustrous brown head and neck. 

Adult Female. — Brownish-gray, slightly darker on wings and tail. 

Nest. — That of some other bird. 

Eggs. — "White, speckled all over witli brown. 

Season. — April to October. 

This much-maligned bird, which builds no home of its 
own, and depends on others to hatch and rear its young, is, 
nevertheless, an essential part of nature's plan. Birds that 
rear their own young are confined by necessity to a certain 
radius about their nests ; but the scattered bands of CoAvbirds 
form a wandering, unattached light squadron of insect de- 
stroyers, which all summer long can go wherever their pres- 
ence is most needed. In the warmer months of the year they 
feed almost entirely on insects, but during the colder months 
they live on seeds. 


Throughout the season the sexes intermingle promiscu- 
ously, from the time the females arrive in the spring. As 
usual with other species, the males come first, and may be 
seen singly, in small tiocks, or with other species of Black- 
birds. They perch in the tops of tall trees, and their only 
song is a long, thin whistle, high keyed and little varied. 
The common note is a chuck. 

The females soon arrive from the south, and then flocks 
may be seen in which they usually predominate. The eggs 
are deposited from April to June, in the nests of other and 
usually smaller birds. An egg is dropped slyly when the 
owner of the nest is absent, and generally after she has laid 
some of her own. Sometimes the little foster mother refuses 
to adopt the offspring of another, and abandons the nest, 
or builds another nest above the first one ; but usually she 
good-naturedly settles down upon her nest to incubate. 

The Cowbird's egg is larger than those of the foster mother, 
and is commonly deposited in the center of the nest. Per- 
haps it gets more heat than the other eggs, for it hatches first. 
The young Cowbird grows faster than the other chicks, and 
gets about all the food. It is soon able to dislodge its smaller 
and weaker foster brothers and sisters, who perish ; then the 
young Cowbird monopolizes the entire time and care of its 
foster parents. It is no uncommon thing to see a small War- 
bler or a Chipping Sparrow feeding a young Cowbird twice 
its own size ; but as soon as the stranger is well able to 
shift for itself, it joins a flock of its own species. 

Grasshoppers seem to be its favorite animal food, but leaf 
hoppers, also very destructive to grass, are freely taken. 
Undoubtedly the Cowbird is of great benefit to pastures, 
where it follows the cattle about, picking up insects that 
start up around them. Weevils and curculios are commonly 
eaten ; also caterpillars, but to a less extent than other Black- 
birds eat them. Cowbirds take wasps, ants, and flies in small 
quantity, and a number of spiders. Vegetable food, however, 
forms the main part of the Cowbird's subsistence in spring 
and fall, and, according to Professor Beal, it constitutes 
nearly seventy per cent, of all the food for the year. A 
large part of this, however, is weed seed, of which the seed 



of ragweed, barn grass, and panic grass form probably the 
greatest portion ; but the Cowbird eats more grain than the 
lied- winged Blackbird. Undoubtedly its food habits are on 
the whole beneficial ; but, as every Cowbird is reared at the 
expense of the lives of at least two other birds, the reputa- 
tion of the species suffers accordingly, and its social habits 
are certainly not exemplary, if judged by human standards. 

Bobolink. Skunk Blackbird. Reed Bird. Rice Bird. 

Dolichonijx oryzivorus. 
Length. — About seveu and one-fourth inches. 
Adult Male. — In spring and early summer, mainly black; nape creamy buff; 

streaks on upper back grayish-wliite ; shoulders and lower back ashy-white ; 

in August and September the plumage resembles that of the female. 
Adult Female and Young. — Upper parts brown, dark-streaked; lower parts 

yellowish-brown, unstreaked. 
Nest. — On ground, in grass. 
Eggs. — Gray, spotted with brown and overlaid with dusky streaks, blotches, 

and scrawls. 
Season. — May to September. 

The Bobolink is the harlequin of the spring meadows. He 
is a happy-go-lucky fellow, with his suit on wrong side up, 
the black below and the white above ; a reckless, rollicking 

sort of a fowl, throwing care 
to the winds, and alwaj^s 
bent on a lark. His spirits 
are of the cflervescent kind, 
and his nuisic bubbles irre- 
})ressibly forth at such a rate 
that half a dozen notes seem 
to be crowding upon the 
heels of ever}" one uttered. 
Indeed, this is about the only 
1)ird that completely Imffles the latter-day "interpreters" of 
)>ird music. His notes tumble out with such headlong rapid- 
ity, in an apparent cfibrt to juni}) over each other, that it is 
next to imi)ossil)le for the scribe to set them down in the 
proper sequence of musical notation. Nevertheless, this 
harum-scarum expression of irrepressible joy is of the most 
pleasing character, and ranks among the finest music of the 

Fig. 144. — BoboUnk, male, and army 
worm, one-half natural size. 


The males chase each other madly, and swiftly pursue the 
females over the grass tops ; or, sailing with down-bent 
wings, pour forth their torrent of music. The alarm note is 
a metallic chenl-. AVhen the young have been reared, the 
males begin to lose their striking dress, the song ceases, 
and early in August the Bobolinks are seen flying about 
in small flocks, uttering mellow 
chinks^ as they prepare for their 
southern journey. 

In May, June, and July insects 
form about eighty-five per cent, 
of the Bobolink's food. The bird 
is very destructive to grasshop- Fig. 145. - Boboiint, female, 
pers and caterj)illars, })articularly to the army worm. It cats 
some parasitic Hymcnoptera, and this may l)e looked upon 
as a bad ha])it ; but otherwise little fault can be found with 
the Bobolink while it remains in the meadows of the north. 

In the south, however, the Bobolinks, together with the 
Blackbirds, cause an annual loss of fully two million dollars 
to the rice growers, and would destroy the whole crop were 
not all the hands on every plantation engaged during the 
"rice bird " season in shooting or frightening the birds. This 
continued shooting undoubtedly has had some effect on the 
number of birds breeding in the north, and Bobolinks are 
not now so generally common in Massachusetts as they were 
forty years ago. The}" have been reduced some by early 
mowing in the nesting fields, but their diminution from year 
to year is hardly perceptible. 


This group of bii'ds is now represented in Massachusetts 
by but one species, the Mourning Dove, as the Passenger 
Pigeon appears to have disappeared, and may now be ex- 
tinct. The Mourning Dove, which is often mistaken for it, 
is now protected by law at all times, and probably will be 
saved from the fate of the Pigeon. Presumably all the sup- 
posed " wild Pigeons " now reported by difl'erent observers 
in Massachusetts are Mourning Doves. 


Mourning Dove. Carolina Dove. Turtle Dove. 

Zcnatchira macroiira. 

Length. — Nearly twelve mches. 

Adult Male. — Upper parts maiiily grayish-blue, shaded with olive-brown ; head 
and neck brown, with a bluish overcast; sides of neck iridescent, with red- 
dish and golden reflections ; a black spot below the ear ; outer tail feathers 
and wing feathers show bluish when spread ; all outer tail feathers have 
a black bar and a white tip; tail rather elongated and pointed; lower 
parts purplish, changing to yellowish on belly, bluish on sides, and whitish 
on chin. 

Adult Female. — Similar, but duller. 

Young. — Grayer than female; many feathers have whitish edgings. 

JVest. — A mere platform of sticks, at a moderate height in a tree, near trunk. 

Eggs. — Two; white. 

Season. — April to October. 

The Mourning Dove was never so abundant in this State 
as the Passenger Pigeon, for Massachusetts is near the north- 
ern border of its range ; still, it was once common where 
it is now rare, particularly in western ^Massachusetts, but it 
is now so uncommon generally as to be of little economic 
importance. In some parts of Middlesex, Plymouth, and 
Barnstable counties it is still common locally in spring 
and summer, and its mournful cooing is heard almost daily. 
A variety of notes has been attributed to this species, 
but I can recall only the " coo," and a twittering sound that 
appears to be made by the wings when it first rises in flight. 

This Dove is of no great value as an insect eater, for it 
feeds largely on seeds. Wheat, oats, rye, corn, and barley 
are all eaten, forming about thirty-two per cent, of the food, 
but perhaps three-fourths of this is waste grain })icked up 
in the fields. Buckwheat is a favorite food. Some grain is 
taken from newly sown fields, but the greater part of the 
food consists of weed seeds. Nash says that the crops of 
these birds are often so full of seeds that, if a bird is shot, 
the crop bursts open when it strikes the ground. He says 
that bindweed is a favorite food. A Dove that was exam- 
ined at the Department of Agriculture was found to contain 
ninety-two hundred seeds, mostly those of noxious weeds, 
and none of useful plants. This was rather an unusual lunn- 
ber, but it shows what the bird is capable of doing as a 
helper on the farm. 



The Grouse are treated among the bu-ds of orchard and 
woodland, on pp. 266-274. 

Bob-white. Quail. 

Colimts virgiiiiamis . 

Length. — About ten inches. 

Adult Male. — Upper parts mainly reddish-hrown, with dark streaks and light 
edgmgs; forehead and broad Ime over eye white; throat patch white, bor- 
dered with black ; tail short, gray ; crown, upper breast, and neck all round 
brownish-red ; bi'east and belly whitish, nan-owly barred and marked with 
crescent-shaped black marks; sides reddish-brown. 

Adult Female. — Similar, but duller; without the black on the head, and the 
wliite mamly replaced by buff. 

Nest. — On groimd, among bushes, grass, or grain. 

Ei/gs. — White, often stained with brown. 

Season. — Resident. 

No bird is more typical of the southern New England farm 
than the Quail. ^ Its clear and mellow call is still a char- 
acteristic sound of spring and early summer. The plowman 
hears it as he drives his team afield, ,>^^. 

and it mingles with the ringing sound j^^^^r, 

of the whetstone on the scythe. /^T^ife^m 

The Quail is an inhabitant of the ^^^^^^^|mt M 
transition zone, and cannot maintain ^S,^ Jg^H^ 

itself much farther north than Massa- liii!Ei^«l^ 

chusetts except along the coast, whore M^^S^^^" 

the winters are less severe than in BffM^^"^ '^'^^ 

the interior. It gets its sustenance W* 

mainly from the ground ; hence, when Fig. i46. - Bob-white, one- 

"^ 1 • 1 ''''If natural size. 

the earth is deeply covered with snow 

its food is hard to obtain, and many Quail are starved or 
frozen under the snow during hard winters, as was the case 
dm-ins the winter of 1903-04. Such winter killings occur 
many times during a century, and the birds have always 
partially recovered their lost ground ; but unless they can 
receive absolute protection for a series of years after such 
seasons their recovery will be rendered increasingly ditficult, 

1 The name Quail is a misnomer, for the bird is not a Quail, but more nearly a 
Partridge, as it is called in the south. It resembles the Quail of Europe, hence 
the New England name, which will undoubtedly " stick." 


oil account of the great accession to the number of gunners. 
The Quail is not easily extirpated, for, unlike the Wood- 
cock, it waits until the weather is mild before begfinnino- its 
nest ; and it is very prolific, and sometimes rears more than 
one brood in a season. From twenty-four to forty-two eggs 
are said to haye been found in a single nest, but these were 
probably the product of more than one bird. 

The pure strain of the old race of ^Massachusetts Quail is 
believed to have been practically eliminated by shooting and 
winter killing, and most of the birds now existing in the 
State are supposed to represent a mongrel race, — an admix- 
ture of the blood of Massachusetts birds and those of the 
south and west. Some naturalists assert, however, that no 
introduced southern birds survive their first winter in Massa- 
chusetts ; but ]\Ir. H. H. Kimball, secretary of the Massachu- 
setts Fish and Game Protective Association, who has been 
instrumental in introducing and "planting" many of these 
birds, has trustworthy evidence that in some cases at least 
they have wintered well and become established. 

The breeding season of the Bo1)-white extends through May, 
June, and July, and the males may be heard calling occasion- 
ally as late as the first of October. According to Dr. Judd, 
Mr. Robert Ridgway found a clutch of freshly deposited 
eggs in a nest in southern Illinois on October 1(>, and H. C. 
Munger found another set in Missouri in January. The 
parent bird was found, later, frozen on the nest. This seems 
to indicate a latent tendency, like that of the domestic fowl, 
to lay eggs at any season of the j^ear, — a trait which might 
give added value to the species in domestication. The nest 
is usually made in grass land, in some old field, or in a 
bushy thicket along its border, and is often well concealed. 

Young Quail are said to run about the moment they are 
hatched. While this may be an exaggeration, probably all 
the eggs in a litter are hatched at about the same time, and 
the young birds are able to leave the nest very soon after- 
ward. The first downy chicks are usually seen in July. 
They are very small, and are streaked somewhat like Bantam 
or Brown Leghorn chicks. Their protective coloring is such 
as to render them invisilJe when motionless on the ground, 



where they squat with closed eyes at the first danger signal. 
The driver of my heavy farm wagon saw a mother Ijird one 
day in the road before him. He stopped the slow tean] at 
once, but too late to save three of the young that, hidden in 
the rut, had been run over by the wheels. He found and 
picked up a live one squatted there. 

All through the breeding season the common call of the 
male, "Bob-white," or " Bob-Bob-AVhite," may be heard, 
particularly just before a rain, and the farmers translate the 
cry as "More-wet," or "Some-more-wet." At a distance 
this call is a clear whistle. Dr. Judd says that when uttered 
within ten feet of the hearer it loses its melody and becomes 
a mere nasal shriek. At the approach of danger the bird 
can reduce the volume of sound at will, so that when it 
stands within twenty or twenty-five feet of the listener its 
whistle seems to come from a point many rods away, — an 
accomplishment which I have heretofore noted as possessed 
by other birds. The call when thus sul)dued is of exactly 
the same tone and pitch as usual, quite as clear, and deliv- 
ered in exactly the same way. So far as my observations 
go, the l)ird when calling sits or stands 
in its usual position, throwing up its 
head slig'htlv in enunciatinof "Bob," 
and then throwing it well back and 
pointing the bill skyward Avhen utter- 
ing the "white," as is shown in the 
accompanying figures, after sketches 
from the wild bird. 

Dr. Judd watched a Quail that called in a somewhat simi- 
lar manner, except that when three notes were given it de- 
pressed its bill almost to its breast in uttering the second. 
He thus descril)es the calls of the mated l)irds : — 

"Bob," "white.' 

Pig. 147. — The moruiuj; 


Then followed a series of queer, responsive "eaterwaulings," more 
unbirdlike than those of the Yellow-breasted Chat, suggesting now the 
call of a cat to her kittens, now the scolding of a caged gray squirrel, 
now the alarm notes of a mother Grouse, blended with the strident cry 
of the Guinea Hen. As a finale, sometimes came a loud, rasping noise, 
not unlike the effort of a broken-voiced Whi2)-poor-will. 


When the broods are scattered by the gunner, they are 
reassembled again by a whistled call of the old bird, which 
has been given, "ka-loi-kee, Jca-loi-kee,'' and is answered by 
the whistled, repeated response, " vhoil kee.'" The syllables 
are almost run together. The first call is uttered with a 
rising and the other with a falling inflection. It is plainly 
the rallying call and answering cry. When the scattered 
covey gets together, nuisical twitterings are often heard. 
At night they repair to some favorite locality, where they 
sleep on the ground in a ring, heads out and shoulder to 
shoulder. In this formation there are always some birds to 
face and discover danger, upon whichever side it approaches. 
One spring into the air gives each bird wing room, and off 
they fly in all directions, an animated "feathered bombshell," 
exploding in the darkness with a roar of })inions sufficient to 
startle and possibly ])aflle an enemy, as the belated traveller 
who has happened to disturb them at night ^vill attest. They 
sometimes gather into the same formation in the daytime. 

In Massachusetts the birds usually roost in thickets, black- 
berry tangles, or woods, and often use the same roosting 
place for several nights in succession. They feed largely in 
fields, gardens, and cultivated land ; but when pursued they 
often take to the swamps or woods, where they })erch in trees, 
usually on the side farthest from the pursuer, sitting upright 
on the branches or crouching close to the trunk. Their 
hal)its during the shooting season are well known. A great 
deal of ink has been used in discussing the question whether 
the Quail is al)le to "hold its scent," as it is a well-known 
fact that dogs are frequently at fault in trailing this bird. 
When the dog is alone, the bird, even in open ground, 
apparently gives itself little uneasiness, but simply settles 
quietly down where it stands until it lies flat on its breast, 
with head drawn down so close to the shoulders that it 
might well pass for a brown clod. It remains thus, allows 
the dog to pass within a few yards or even a few feet, and 
keeps quiet until all danger is past. But let a human l)eing 
a})pear, and much greater precautions are taken, I ha\'e 
seen a bird in open ground run and hide in a slight hol- 
low, or conceal itself by crouching between two sections of 


a stump. If there are trees near by, it runs quickly and 
squats upon the ground behind a tree or close to its trunk. 
Its resemblance to its surroundings is so close that it seems 
to disappear, effacing itself before one's eyes like a witch in 
a fairy tale, as it flattens itself on the ground. Bol)-white 
naturall}^ "lies to a dog," for it seems to have a supreme 
contempt for the blundering animal. This apparent con- 
fidence in its OA\ n invisibility is often fatal, however, where 
trained bird dogs are entered against it. 

There is some reason to believe that the Quail is migratory 
at times. Some people relate that Quail have been seen 
flying south in large flocks at the approach of winter ; others 
aver that many have been drowned while crossing large 
bodies of water ; still others tell us that the birds migrate 
long distances by running ; but every covey that I have been 
able to watch has passed the winter not far from the place 
where it was reared. These observations have often been 
interrupted by the destruction of the entire brood by farmers, 
gunners, or sportsmen. A great many broods "migrate" in 
this manner, never to return. Still, probably Grouse and 
Quail sometimes become restless in the fall, and move about 
the country ; but it is extremely doubtful if there are anj^ 
general movements of either species that can be designated 
as autumnal or vernal migrations in the ordinary sense in 
which these terms are applied. 

The feeding habits of the Bob- white are such that it must 
be ranked by the farmer as one of the most useful birds of 
field and garden. It is very nearly harmless, as it takes 
little grain or fruit. Occasionally in the cornfield it pecks 
at a broken-down ear of corn, and it picks up a good deal of 
waste grain in the stulible of oats and wheat. It sometimes 
eats a few strawberries, but these are evidently not a favorite 
food, for birds in captivity have refused them Avhen hungry. 
On the other hand, Bob-white, during spring and summer, 
feeds on many of the most destructive pests of garden and 
field, and in fall and winter eats great numbers of the seeds 
of many noxious weeds. Dr. Judd makes some interesting 
calculations regarding the quantity of insects and weed seeds 
consumed In' the Bob-white in Virginia and North Carolina. 


Estimating that there are four birds to each square mile in 
these States, and that each bird consumes half an ounce of 
weed seed daily from September 1 to April 1, he concludes 
that one thousand, three hundred and forty-one tons are eaten 
])y Quail annually in the two States ; and, as insects form 
about one-third of the birds' food from June 1 to Auo;ust 1, 
he estimates that Quail consume three hundred and forty tons 
of insects in these States within those two months. 

It is somewhat remarkable that the Quail feeds on most of 
the superlatively destructive crop and garden pests of North 
America, among them the Rocky Mountain locust, chinch 
bug, cotton worm, Mexican cotton boll weevil, army worm, 
Colorado potato beetle, striped cucumber beetle. May beetle, 
bean leaf beetle, and several species of grasshoppers. More 
than one-third of its food for August consists of insects, of 
Avhich very few are useful species. The Quail eats many 
ground beetles, but mainly those species which feed to some 
extent on vegetation, and which become destructive if allowed 
to increase unduly. It is probal)ly the most effective enemy 
of the Colorado potato beetle. A correspondent wrote me 
that he had watched the Quail feeding on ])otato beetles and 
other insects on his farm, and believed that each bird raised 
on his place was worth five dollars to him as an insect killer. 
He declines to allow any more (^uail to be killed on his 
farm. Dr. Judd says that Mr. C. E. Romaine of Crockett, 
Tex., wrote that Quail were nesting about his fences and 
even in his garden, and had kept his potato patch entirely 
free from the "Colorado potato bug." Eroni seventy-five 
to over one hundred potato beetles have been found in 
Quails' stomachs. Clover-leaf l)eetles, corn-hill bugs, wire- 
worms, and many other beetles and larvae are eaten. Pro- 
fessor Aughey found five hundred and thirty-nine locusts in 
the stomachs of twenty-one birds, or an average of twenty- 
five apiece. The Bob-white not onl}" finds many cutworms, 
but picks up the parent moths, as well as ants, flies, and 

The young are at first fed almost entirely on insect food. 
Mr. Nash says they eat their own weight of insects daily. 
As an insect eater the Quail is worth its weight in gold to 


the farmer and gardener. If it could be protected and in- 
creased in numbers, and if it could be allowed to come con- 
tidently about the farmstead, perhaps it would become the 
most useful bird of the garden . 

In late spring and early summer its vegetable food is 
largely confined to such seeds as it can pick up, and to 
green grass, chickweed, sorrel, clover and other succulent 
leaves, and some buds. In the perennial problem of weed 
destruction there is no greater ally of the farmer than this 
bird. It eats the seeds of over sixty species of weeds. 
Seeds form over one-half its food, and among them the rag- 
weed seems to be the ftivorite. As many as two hundred to 
three hundred seeds of smart weed, five hundred of the red 
sorrel, seven hundred of the three-seeded mercury, and one 
thousand of ragweed have been eaten at a meal. According 
to Dr. Judd, five thousand seeds of green foxtail and ten 
thousand of pigweed have been found in a single bird. As 
the fall advances. Quail find acorns and pine seed in the 
woods, and in the thickets they seek wild fruit that nature 
provides for winter bird-fare. Although the Quail feed by 
preference on the ground in winter, when the snow is deep 
they seek shelter in tangles and thickets, where wintering 
berries grow. Wherever the ground is swept bare of snow 
by the wind the Quail wander about, feeding on dried leaves 
of plantain and other plants, with such weed seeds and dried 
grasses as they can find. Mr. William Brewster tells me that 
the native Quail of New England eked out an existence on 
the berries of the red cedar when the snow lay deep on the 
ground, but that the introduced Quail apparently have not 
acquired the habit, and so succuml) more readily to the New 
England winter. From all the studies made regarding the 
food of the bird, it is clear that the farmer should never 
shoot it, or allow it to be shot on his land. If the Massa- 
chusetts market must be supplied with (^uail, they must be 
reared artificially, for the time is coming when no Quail can 
be obtained from other States. The laws of most States 
now prohibit their shipment to other States, and there are 
not birds enough here to supply a tenth of the demand. 


Pheasants are closely related to the Pea Fowl and the 
Domestic Cock. They are natives of Asia, but several 
species have been introduced into England and America. 

Ring-necked Pheasant. 

Phasianus lorquatus . 

Length. — Varying according to length of tail, but reaching three feet. 

Adult Male. — Head and neck dark, bumi.shed blue, witli reflections of other 
shades; a white ring around neck; back orange-brown to reddish, with 
black and other variegations; breast coppery-chestnut, with jnirplish 
edgings and some greenish gloss : tail olive-brown, with red-purplish 
edgings, and crossed with blackish bars ; bare skin of head scarlet. 

Adult Female. — Smaller ; tail shorter, and general plumage brown, marked with 

Young. — Similar to female. 

Nest. — On ground. 

Eggs. — Similar to those of a small domestic fowl. 

Season. — Resident. 

The Ring-neck was first imported into Oregon from China, 
and was introduced into Massachusetts from the Pacific coast 
in 1894 b}^ the Massachusetts Commissioners on Fisheries and 

Game, who have since propa- 
gated the birds and liberated 
them in various parts of the 
State. It Avas brought to 
"^<J^^5^^^^^ this country under the name 
of MonofoHan Pheasant, but 

Fig. 148. — Rhig-necked Pheasant. ^ ... 

is quite distinct from that 
species, to which it has only a general likeness. When its 
acclimatization here was proposed, I wrote the late John 
Fannin, then curator of the Provincial Museum of British 
Columbia, inquiring whether the Pheasants which had been 
introduced there had proved injurious to native birds or 
farm crops. He replied that on Vancouver Island, where 
Pheasants were then numerous, the}^ had driven the Grouse 
to the woods ; but that this did little harm, as Grouse were 
naturally Avood birds, while the Pheasants were birds of the 
open country. They were doing some damage to crops, 
but this had not caused any cry for their abatement, and 
the people generally considered them a valuable acquisition. 


In 1897 Mr. F. H. Mosher confined two adult birds at 
Maiden. They were given some choice of food, and were 
fond of grain, weed seeds, vegetables, fruit, and insects. 
They ate seventy full-grown gipsy moth caterpillars in half 
a day. AYithiii another half day they ate one hundred and 
eight egg-bearing female gipsy moths. No young birds 
could be secured for experiment. 

In 1903 complaints began to come in that Pheasants were 
injuring crops and killing game birds. Circulars sent out 
to three hundred correspondents in different parts of the 
State brought replies regarding these birds from over two 
hundred people. A considerable number of correspondents 
had never heard of the species in their vicinity. Forty-two 
stated that the bird was not then present in their sections. 
Thirty asserted either that it was \gyj rare in their vicinity 
or had disappeared. Pheasants were reported as numer- 
ous only near Winchester, where the State pheasantry was 
located, in a few other places where they were being bred, 
and in portions of Essex County, where they had an oppor- 
tunity to breed on large estates on which no gunning was 
allowed. Forty-five persons stated that Pheasants were 
doing no injury to crops or game birds. Three persons com- 
plained that Pheasants were killing Bob-whites and Ruffed 
Grouse ; and nine asserted that Pheasants were injuring 
crops, principally corn, tomatoes, peas, beans, cabbages, and 
potatoes. Practically all these complaints came from those 
few sections where the birds were becoming numerous. 
Pheasants have taken more of my sprouting corn than have 
either Crows or squirrels. They do not pull it up, as the 
Crows do, but dig it up with the beak. In other localities 
they are said to "pull more corn than the Crows." In the 
fall they eat what corn they can reach from the ground, and 
in Wareham they are said to dig "bushels" of potatoes. 

The evidence regarding the killing of game birds was 
merely circumstantial. Several reputable persons asserted 
that since Pheasants had become common they had found 
"both Partridges and Quail with their heads pecked open." 
Other birds of these species were said to have borne evi- 
dence of having lieen slain in combat with a laro;er bird. 


One man is reported to have seen a Pheasant kill a Par- 
trido-e. I watched the Quail and Pheasant feeding together 
at Wareham, and one day saw a Pheasant strike a Quail 
on the head with its beak, exactly as a hen will sometimes 
strike and kill a strange chicken. In this case, however, the 
Quail escaped, but gave the Pheasant a "w^ide berth" there- 
after. One observer reports that a lady was feeding Quail 
in winter, and that a cock Pheasant habitually drove the 
Quail away and ate the grain. 

Pheasants do much good b}' destroying insects, and there 
need be no fear that these birds will ever become numerous 
enough throughout the State to do great harm. Generally 
they appear to 1)e unable to hold their own. The common 
report is that "Pheasants have been turned loose here, but 
have all disappeared." Xo eatable bird of the size of a 
Pheasant can ever increase much in numbers in Massachusetts 
except on land where it can be protected from all shooters. 


Most of the birds of this order, which includes the Plover, 
are known as shore birds or marsh birds, and are seen mainly 
in migration on the shores of the sea or large bodies of fresh 
water. Three species either are, or once were, common 
summer residents of this State, and all three go to fields 
or cultivated land for a large part of their food. One, 
the Spotted Sandpiper, is still quite conmion ; and another, 
the well-known Woodcock, may again become so if it can 
be i)rotected from excessive shooting. Another still, the 
Bartramian Sandpiper or Upland Plover, wdiich was once a 
common summer resident of upland fields, has long been on 
the road to extermination, and can now be sa\'ed only by 
enacting and enforcing stringent laws for its protection in 
those States where it breeds, as well as in the more southern 
States, where the birds find neither rest nor mercy. Most 
of the other species of this order, which once migrated along 
the coast in countless numbers, are of economic importance 
principally as food ; but, with few exceptions, the larger 
species are so reduced in numbers that they are at present 
of little account in any economic sense. 


Spotted Sandpiper. Tip-up. Teeter. 

Actitis mucularia. 

Length. — About seven and one-half Indies. 

Adult. — Above, olive-brown, ash-tinged; below, white, spotted with rounded 

blackish marks; a row of white sjjots on the wing; outer tail feathers 

Young. — Breast unspotted, with a slight grayish cast on white of breast. 
Nest. — On ground, on the shore of a pond or river, or in a field or pasture. 
Eggs. — Buffy, thickly speckled with dark brown and black ; very large for the 

size of the bird, and quite j)ointed at small end. 
Season. — April to September. 

The Spotted Sandpiper, once a common and familiar bird 
along all our ponds and streams, is still fairly common in 
suitable localities throughout the State. It is not a gre- 
garious species, nor does it travel much along the seashore, 
and so it has largely escaped the decimation that many 
other Sandpipers have suffered at the hands of the gunner. 
It is the only Sandpiper commonly found about inland 
waters in June and earh^ July. As it walks it repeatedly 
raises and lowers the hinder part of its body with a teeter- 
ing motion. This is particularly noticeable when the bird 
is alarmed, and uttering its cry ofpeef-ireef, peef-weef. This 
note is often repeated when the bird is startled, and may be 
heard along the sandy margin of ponds or rivers in the dusk 
of evening. Here it wades in, at times up to its belly. 
On occasion it can swim well, and sometimes when wounded 
and hard pressed it will dive deeply, using its wings and 
flying swiftly under water, like a Loon. It often builds its 
nest and rears its young in or near cultivated lands, at a con- 
siderable distance from any water. The young are able to 
run about soon after they are hatched, and they wander away 
from the nest, brooded and cared for at need by the mother, 
who is very solicitous for their Avelfare. Their safety lies 
in their protective coloring. They are fed largely on insects, 
and the parents in summer seem to l)e very fond of similar 
food, which they pick up about cultivated fields. Like all 
other birds of the field, this Sandpiper catches grasshop- 
pers and locusts. Six of these birds dissected ])y Professor 
Aughey in Nebraska contained ninety-one locusts and one 
hundred and fortv-two other insects. 


Bartramian Sandpiper. Upland Plover. 

Bartramia longicauda. 

Length. — Nearly twelve inches. 

Adult. — Upper parts generally light tawny-hrown, with dark or hlackish mark- 
ings; outer tail feathers harred with black and brown, and tipped with 
white ; inner webs of larger wing feathers barred with black and white ; 
breast and sides huffy or tawny, marked lightly with blackish ; belly 

Nest. — A mere hollow hi the ground. 

Eggs. — Buffy or whitish, speckled with dark broMii. 

Season. — May to September. 

This fine, large Sandpiper, commonly called the Upland 
Plover, is a bird of the grass-field and pasture. It is not 
often seen near the shore, except as it feeds in migration 
on the grassy hills of Ipswich and other coast towns, or on 
Nantucket, where it breeds. It is a l)ird of the uplands, 
often found breeding in the interior, at long distances from 
rivers or ponds, and usually in upland mowing fields. Forty 
years ago it bred commonly in considerable areas of the 
State, but now it is rare or wanting everywhere in the 
breeding season except in a few localities in some counties. 
Its note is a melodious, long, rolling whistle, uttered much in 
flight. Just after the bird alights it raises its wdngs high 
over its back, stretches them, and then folds them in place. 

As the law now protects this bird at all times, it is to be 
hoped that its numbers will increase, as it is one of the most 
valuable birds of the field. It is an indefatigable insect 
hunter, living very largely on such insects as grass-eating 
caterpillars and grasshoppers. 

American Woodcock. 
FhiluhLia minor. 

Length. — Ten to twelve inches ; bill nearly three inches. 

Adult. — Upper parts brown and russet or buff, mixed with gray and marked with 
blackish ; back of head black, barred with yellowish ; dark line from eye to 
bill ; under parts pale, warm brown, varying in intensity ; tail black, tipped 
with white; eye large, well back and high up. 

Nest. — On ground in moist land. 

Eggs. — Large, buff -colored, with chocolate and stone-gray spots and markings. 

Season. — March to November ; rare in winter. 

This favorite game bird was once a common summer resi- 
dent of this State, but is now becomino: rare in the breeding 


season. It feeds in low, swampy woodland, l)oring in the 
mud for worms, and also in low pastures, where it destroys 
many insects. In late summer it often goes to the uplands, 
where it feed.s in cornfields, asparagus fields, fruit gardens, 
and pastures. At such times the bird may be seen among 
the currant bushes or yegetables, where in early morning it 
feeds with the Robins. When suddenly flushed it sometimes 
rises with a tremulous whistling sound, similar to that made 
by the wings of the Mourning Dove. Although in summer 
it frequents fields, gardens, and pastures, it sometimes for- 
sakes them in very dry weather for the wooded shores of 
ponds or rivers. The Woodcock evidently feeds much at 
night or during the dusk of morning and evening, when 
it is almost always active. When startled in the daytime 
it is normally sluggish, and rises just over the tops of the 
bushes or undergrowth, flutters a short distance, and alights ; 
but late in the fall a strong bird that has been hunted and 
shot at will start up like a flash and fly M^ild high and far, 
sometimes fanning the air so rapidly with its wings that they 
appear as a mere nebulous haze, like those of the Hummino-- 
bird in flight. Its curious flight song is uttered in the 
breeding season, when it rises high in the dusk of evening, 
sending back a series of twittering and whistling sounds. 

The Woodcock is hunted throughout its range. As it 
grows rarer in the north, gunners and sportsmen follow it 
south in winter. Great numbers of Woodcock are slaugh- 
tered there when all the birds of the species are massed 
in a limited area. 

Wilson's Snipe. 

OalUnago delicata. 

Length. — Ten and one-half to eleven and one-half inches; hill ahout two and 
one-half inches. 

Adult. — Upper parts hrownish-hlack, varied with bay and tawny; crown black, 
with a light central stripe ; upper tail coverts tawny, with dark bars ; tail 
feathers above briglit chestnut, with a black bar near the tip, which is 
whitish ; beneath, white, but breast and sides tinted with brown, speckled 
and barred with dusky. 

Sea.wn. — Spring and fall. 

The Snipe is a not uncommon migrant, and may be found 
in favorable localities in late March and April, and a^ain in 


September and October. It is not an upland bird, but 
is seen chiefly in fresh-water meadows and lowlands along 
streams. It is sometimes met with in low, moist gardens. 
Mr. William Brewster says, in his " Birds of the Cambridge 
Region," that during exceptionally wet autumns great num- 
bers of Snipe occasionally visit the truck farms of Arlington 
and Belmont, to feed in the water-soaked fields of corn, pota- 
toes, and other crops. As they do not injure the crops, but 
probe the ground Avith their long bills, in search of worms 
and larvfe, it is probable that they do considerable good 
at such times. The Snipe when started from the ground 
usually goes off in a rather low, erratic course, but when well 
up in the air it sometimes makes a long and steady flight. 
It may be identified by its long bill. It seems to be some- 
what nocturnal, particularly on moonlit nights, when its note 
may be heard as it flies about the meadows or runs over 
them. Its alarm note is a harsh scaipe, and it utters also a 
muflled "bleat." It feeds mainly on worms, grasshoppers, 
and other small forms of animal life. This bird's chief 
economic value lies in the delicacy of its flesh, and as an 
object of sport it has few superiors. 



There are no birds that so well deserve the designation 
"fowls of the air" as those that get their subsistence by pur- 
suing flying insects. Eagles and Vultures, Frigate Birds, 
Albatrosses, and some other sea birds, are endowed with 
great powers of flight, but all must descend to earth or 
water for their food ; but Swallows, Swifts, and Nighthawks 
win their sustenance from the air. They may be said to 
live in the air, as, with few exceptions, they seldom alight 
except to rest or to attend to their domestic afi"airs. 

Unfortunately, the precise character of the food that many 
of these insect-eating birds procure high in air is not well 
known. We see the Swifts and Swallows darting about at 
great heights on clear summer days. We know that they 
must be catching fl3'ing insects : but what insects are flying 
at such a height, and why? They must be winged imagoes. 
Have they finished the business of life, and are they then 
sporting for a few l)rief hours in sunlight before death over- 
takes them ? Are they migrating on the wings of the wind 
to fresh fields? Are they useful, or injurious, insects? No 
one knows. . 

When Swallows or Swifts are flying low their food can be 
studied, and we have some definite information regarding its 
character at such times. They are known to take many 
parasitic Hymenoptera, but whether these insects are taken 
before or after they have })ropagated, whether most of them 
are mainly beneficial, or injurious, parasites, we have little 
information. Therefore, the eflfect produced by this habit 
of these birds is not well understood. We know, however, 
that many injurious insects, such as flies, gnats, mosquitoes, 
moths, beetles, and plant lice, when about to reproduce their 
kind, are captured by these feathered skiunners of the air. 
We know that the Swallows pursue insects all da}^, until the 


twilight Bats come out; tliat Nighthawks "sweep the sky" 
through the later hours of daylight : and that Whip-poor- 
wills and Swifts are sometimes a-wing throughout the night. 
So that whenever insects are flying there are birds to pursue 
them. These birds of tireless pinion cover a wide territory, 
and form a most potent check on insect life. 


The spine-tail Swifts are Swallow-like birds that rarely if 
ever alight, except upon their nests or on the perpendicular 
sides of chimneys, rocks, hollow trees, or buildings. 

Chimney Swift. 
Chcflura j^dxigica. 

Length. — About five and one-fourth inches. 

Adult. — Sooty-bi'own, paluig to gray on throat and breast; tail rather short, 
spiny, and somewhat cigar-shaped, fan-sliaped wlien spread ; wings black- 
ish, long, narrow, and slightly curved. 

Nest. — Of sticks, glued to the wall of a chimney, hollow tree, or bam. 

Eggs. — \N\\ii&. 

Season. — Api-il to September. 

The Chimney Swallow, as it is commonly called in the 
country, is one of the common sights of the summer twilight 
as it flies twittering above trees and house tops. When 
building its nest it breaks oft' twigs from the trees as it flies, 
and glues them to the chimney with its own saliva. It is a 
most expert insect catcher, and while hawking about for food 
for its young fills np its mouth and cheeks with insects, 
carrying them much as a chi})munk carries corn. It appears 
to be of a playful disposition. I saw a Swift one day in 
Concord apparently amusing itself by chasing Cedar Birds, 
that were fl>^-catching, over the river. When a Cedar Bird 
flew out over the water the Swift turned and chased it back 
into the trees again, often following so closely as to seem 
about to attempt to swallow the frightened and fleeing bird. 

Swifts catch flies, small beetles of various kinds, flying 
ants, bugs, grasshoppers, and other insects, and spiders. 
A notion exists that these birds introduce bedbugs into 
houses ; but so far as I know it has never been proven that 
there is any parasite common to both human l)eings and 
birds, with perhai)S a single excei)tion, — the woodticks. 

PLATE XXX. — Nighthawk. 

PLATE XXXL — Whip-poor-will. 



Birds of this family are especially fitted for the cap- 
ture of flying insects. Their beaks are small and weak, but 
their mouths are very capacious, their gullets are large, and 
their stomachs enormous. Some species fly high over open 
country ; others live mainly in the woods. Together with 
the Owls and Bats the}^ form a night police for the control 
of nocturnal insects. 

Our two common species, the Nighthawk and the Whip- 
poor-will, are frequently confounded ; but in appearance, 
habits, and color of eggs they are so diflerent that this mistake 
could not be made except l)y the most superficial observer. 

Nighthawk. Bull Bat. 

Chordeiles virgiuumus. 

Length. — Nine to ten inches. 

Adult Male. — Above, black, gray, and tawny, mixed and mottled; wings long 
and narrow, crossed by a broad white bar which shows best in flight; tail 
slightly forked or notched, all except the two middle tail feathers crossed 
near tip with a white band ; throat with a broad band of white ; breast 
blackish, marked with gray; other under parts gray (sometimes tinged 
with huffy), barred with blackish. 

Adult Female. — Similar, but duller; throat band buff; no white on tail. 

Eggs. — Laid on bare ledge, rocky ground, or a gravel roof. 

Season. — May to September. 

The Nighthawk is neither a night bird nor a Hawk, un- 
less it may be called a mosquito Hawk. It flies chiefly at 
evening, but is seldom heard to cry after dark, and often 
may be seen flying about during the greater part of the 
day, sometimes at great heights. It has deposited its eggs 
on gravel roofs in cities for at least forty years, and prob- 
ably longer. It may be seen on summer afternoons hawk- 
ing for insects high over the city streets. The usual note 
is a s-k-i-r-Jv or ft-c-a-i-p-e, a little like the call of Wilson's 
Snipe, — rather a startling squeak when heard close at hand. 

This is the only loud note I have ever heard uttered by 
this bird, except the hooni which accompanies its sudden de- 
scent through the air, and which is supposed to l)e made by 
the wings. The Nighthawk is very devoted to its young, 
which, like its eggs, are so protectively colored that they are 


almost invisible when seen from al:)ove as they squat on their 
natal rock. The mother either tries to drive an intruder awa}^ 
bv approaching him with open mouth, or feigns lameness and 
so attempts to entice him into pursuit. 

It is probable that the Xighthawk is one of the most useful 
of all birds. It ranks next to the Flicker in the destruction 
of ants, and it takes them when they are flying and about to 
propagate. Professor Beal estimated that the stomachs of 
eighty-seven Nighthawks which he examined "contained not 
less than twenty thousand ants, and these were not half of 
the insect contents." One Nighthawk's stomach held remains 
of thirt}— four May beetles. Great numbers of grasshoppers 
are caught by these birds. Potato beetles, cucumber beetles, 
leaf hoppers, bugs, and enormous quantities of gnats and mos- 
quitoes have been found in their stomachs. Nighthawks are 
absolutely harmless, as they never take fruit or grain, grass 
or vegetables. They are protected by law at all times, and 
should never be shot or molested. Unfortunately, they are 
now rare in parts of this Commonwealth where they were 
common years ago. 


AiUrosto^nus vociferus. 

Length. — About ten inches. 

Adult Male. — Above, finely mottled and barred with black, gray, and yellowisli- 
brown ; wings barred with black and brown, in general browner and not so 
dark as the Nighthawk ; throat and upjier breast blackish ; other under 
parts buff, marked with blackisli ; a narrow white band just below throat, 
and terminal portion of three outer tail feathers white. 

Adult Female. — Similar, but band below throat buff, and tail feathers narrowly 
tipped with yellowish-white. 

Eygs. — On ground in woods; a creamy white, beautifully marked with shades 
of purple or lavender. 

Sea.sun. — May to September. 

In moonlit Avoods, through dark and shady dells, over 
wide pastures, and l)y the lone farmhouse door the AVhip- 
l)oor-will flits softly through the silent night. Its flight 
is not as noiseless as that of an Owl ; but the bird is even 
more mysterious than the OavIs themselves. Its night 
flight and weird but melodious call have aroused supersti- 
tious fancies, until the AVhip-poor-will has been accredited 
with all sorts of uncanny attributes ; nevertheless, it is, like 


,.,,, , . ^.^Bss^ 

PLATE XXXII. — A Swallow Roost. 
Tree Swallow. 
Clift" Swallow. Barn Swallow. 

Bank Swallow. 


the Nighthawk, one of the most friendly and useful of birds. 
Its supposedly ill-omened cry is sometimes heard from the 
ridgepole or from the orchard trees. Mr. Jajnes Buckham, 
in an mteresting article in "Zion's Herald," calls attention 
to the fact that the Whip-poor-will is often a doorstep singer. 
It sometimes sits on the broad stone step before the farm- 
house door and calls ichipowUI repeatedly. AMien close at 
hand a soft cluck may be heard after each phrase. The bird 
may be distinguished from the Nighthawk l)y its shorter 
wings and long, rounded tail. 

The Whip-poor-will is an animated insect trap. Its 
enormous mouth is surrounded by long bristles which form 
a Avide fringe about the yawning cavity, and the bird flies 
rather low among the trees and over the undergrowth, 
snapping up nocturnal insects in flight. It is perhaps the 
greatest enemy of night moths, but is quite as destructive 
to May beetles and other leaf-eating beetles. Hairy cater- 
pillars, like the tent and tussock caterpillars, as well as span- 
worms, grasshoppers, and ants, are sometimes eaten in large 


This family of daylight air-coursers has four connnon 
representatives in this Commonwealth. The Purple Martin, 
common until within a few years, is now generally rare 
except in migration. The illustration of the Swallow roost, 
althougii taken from a sketch made on the Musketaquid, was 
nevertheless suggested by Ernest Thompson Seton's beauti- 
ful drawing, now reproduced in Chapman's "Bird-Life." It 
shows the four common Swallows, and exhibits their habit 
of roosting in reeds. Swallows collect in flocks throuahout 
the season of migration. In July, as soon as the young are 
reared, they begin to flock at night near bodies of water, and 
prepare to migrate. Swallows gather in winter in the ^reat 
swamps of southern Florida in enormous flights, which, after 
uniting in one, discharge into the reeds at dusk. The de- 
scent of such a multitude resembles in appearance a great 
waterspout topped by an enormous black cloud. In the 
morning they scatter out over the country to feed. 


Bank Swallow. 

Itiparia riparia. 

Length. — A little over five inches. 

Adult. — Dull mouse-brown above: white below; a broad brownish band ai.cYOs,& 

the breast; tail slightly /orA:e(?. 
Ne.'it. — In a hole made by the bird in a sand bank. 
Egffs. — White. 
Season. — April to August or September. 

This bird nests naturally in oonimimities in sand banks 
along rivers, where the insects Avhicli form its food are plen- 
tiful. It early took advantage of man's habit of digging into 
the sand, and probably increased in numbers as roads and 
railroads were cut through the country and sandpits opened. 
In this State its numbers have now decreased much, owing 
partly to the digging away of many banks in which it formerly 
bred, but more to incessant persecution l)y egg collectors, cats, 
" English " Sparrows, and other predatory animals. There are 
many sand banks in eastern Massachusetts formerly occu- 
pied by these birds which now know them no more. 

The note is a rather harsh twitter. This bird is almost 
entirely insectivorous, feeding on gnats, flies, grasshoppers, 
Tortricid moths, and many insects that are injurious to field 
and meadow grasses. Plant lice and spiders also form a 
portion of its food. 

Tree Swallow. White-bellied Swallow. White-breasted Swallow. 
House Swallow. 

Iridoprooie bicolor. 

Length. — Nearly six mches. 

Adult Male. — Dark irride.scent blue-green above; white below; tail slightly 

Adult Female. — Upper parts usually duller. 

Young. — Upper parts brown ; a faint dusky collar across the upper breast. 
Xest. — In hollow tree or bird house. 
Eggs. — White. 
Season. — April to October. 

When the Tree Swallows left their natural homes in hollow 
trees to nest in bird houses they probably increased some- 
what in numbers; but since the advent of the "English" 
Sparrow the Tree Swallows have been driven away from 
many of the bird houses in villages and cities where they 


foriiierlj dwelt, and some liave gone back to hollo^v trees. 
This bird is still common wherever it can nest unmolested 
by the Sparrows, and sometimes, though rarely, it nests in 
the same bird house Avith these impudent foreigners. 

Its note is a rather sharp but sometimes musical twitter. 
It is probal)ly more useful than the Bank Swallow, for it is 
oftener seen about houses and gardens, where it catches flies, 
mosquitoes, and garden insects. Leaf-eating beetles, canker- 
worms, cabbage butterflies, small moths, click beetles, rove 
beetles and other beetles, winged ants, and many other flying 
hisects form part of its food. It usually leaves for the south 
in August or September, but sometimes stays much later 
where bayberries or sumac berries, upon which it feeds, are 

Barn Swallow. 

Hiriaido erylhrogaster. 
Length. — Six to seven inches, or a little more. 
Adult.— XhoYe, very dark blue; tail deeply forked, showing white markings 

when spread ; forehead, throat, and upper breast chestnut ; lower breast 

and belly buff. 

Nest. — Built of mud, straw, and feathers ; usually plastered to a rafter in a bam 

or shed. 
Egg.s. — V^hite, covered with brown spots. 
Season.— Aiml to September. 

The note of the Barn Swallow brings to mind visions of 
fields of waving grass, wide barns, and well-filled mows, for 
this Swallow follows the cattle. It is a bird of the pastoral 
country, the farm, and the hayfield. Originally it nested 
in caves or on rocky clifis. The rude banis of the early 
settlers ofiered it abundant safe nesting places, while the 
clearing of the land and the increase of cattle augmented the 
numbers of its insect prey. Swallows must have nmltii)lied 
wonderfully with the settlement of the country, but they 
have rather decreased of late years. 

The twitter of this Swallow is musical ; its flight is the 
poetry and grace of motion ; its plumage is attractive to the 
eye ; and its life is largely spent in destroying the insect 
foes of the farmer and his cattle. It is particularly servicea- 
ble about grass fields. The moths of the smaller cutworms, 
those of Arctians and Crambids, are among the injurious in- 
sects that it gleans Avhen fl3'iiig low over the grass. Every 


one who walk.s among the tall grass in the fields may 
notice how Swallows capture the moths that fly up about 
the foot passenger. Prof. C. PI. Fernald states that while 
he and his friends were walking through the grass at his 
home at ]Mt. Desert several Swallows invariably attended 
them and fed on different species of Crambus in abundance. 
These observations were continued during several years. ^ 
Codling moths, cankerworm moths, and Tortricid or leaf- 
rolling moths are gathered from the orchard by the Swallows. 
Horseflies, house flies, mosquitoes, gnats, and crane flies are 
commonly caught. The only apparently harmful habit that 
I have observed is that of picking up parasitic insects in 
flight over fields infested with army worms or cutworms. 

Cliff Swallow. Eaves Swallow. 

I'ctroehelidon hi )/ ifrons . 

Length.^ Ahont six inches. 

jidult. — Dark bluish above; forehead cream white and rump light chestnut; 

throat chestnut ; other under parts whitish : tail ends squarely. 
Nest. — Built mainly of mud, under the eaves of barns or out-buildings. 
Egga. — White, spotted with reddish-brown. 
Season. — April to August. 

When the first explorers reached the Yellowstone and 
other western rivers, Swallows were found breeding on the 
precipitous banks. As settlers gradually worked their way 
westward the Swallows found nesting places under the eaves 
of their rough buildings. In these new breeding places they 
were better protected from the elements and their enemies 
than on their native cliff's, and so the Cliff' Swallow became 
the "Eaves Swallow," and, following the settlements, rapidly 
increased in numl)ers and worked eastward. Audubon saw 
them first on the Ohio in 1815. They were seen near Lake 
Chami)lain in 1817, at the White ^Mountains of Xew Hamp- 
shire in 1818, at Cincinnati in 1819, and in 1830 they had 
reached Winthro}) and Gardiner, Me. They increased and 
spread rapidly over the eastern States, and probably reached 
their maximum in numbers from 1840 to l.S(!0. They were 

' Professor Fernald states that the Crambids feed at the roots of grasses, and 
that they undoubtedly destroy a large amount of grass without being discovered. 
Professor Wekster wrote him that in Ohio hundreds of acres of grass had been 
destroyed by these moths. 


very numerous in Massachusetts up to about 1865, but since 
the introduction of the Sparrow their numbers have l:>een 
slowly decreasing here, and now there are larire areas where 
they do not breed. Apparently they are now more plentiful 
than ever in some parts of Maine, and possibly some of the 
Massachusetts birds may have migrated there. 

Their ordinary note is a rather harsh chir}). Their food 
is very similar to that of the Barn Swallow, as they frequent 
similar situations. Wherever a colony of these birds is 
located they must have a considerable effect on insect life. 
They fly much over bogs and meadows, and with the Barn 
Swallows are useful in destroying the pests of the grass lands 
and cranberrv bosfs. 

Purple Martin. Black Martin. 

Frogne siibis. 

Length. — About eight inclies. 

Adult Male. — Deep, lustrous steel-blue ; wings and tail dark brown ; tail slightly- 

Adult Female. — Brown above, glossed on head and back with blue or purjilish; 
forehead and throat mottled with gray ; breast broM^iish ; belly whitish. 

Nest. — In a hollow tree or bird house. 

Eggs. — White. 

Season. — Ajiril to August. 

Many years ago Dr. Brewer wrote Audubon that an un- 
usually cold season had destroyed all the Purple Martins in 
the neighborhood of Boston. Since then other occurrences 
of this kind have been re- 
ported, but there was no per- 
manent widespread diminution 
in their numbers until the 
" English " Sparrows became 
numerous. Then the Martins 
were gradually driven away, 

until they bred only locally. Fig. 149. — Piui.le Martiu, male, about 

and had disappeared from a one-haif natural size. 

large part of the State. The June storms of 1903-04 
nearly completed their extirpation from the State as breed- 
ers, and except in a few favored localities their boxes are 
now (190G) all taken by the Sparrows. 

The Martin is a southern bird, and cannot long withstand 



cold storms in the breeding season. It is also one of the 
most purely insectivorous of all birds, and feeds almost en- 
tirely on winged insects. Therefore, when the air is cleared 
of flying insects by long, cold rains or hard frosts, it must 
starve. Its note is a full-toned chirruping carol, musical 

and clear, beginning peuo-peuo- 
peuo. It feeds largely on some of 
the greatest pests of the farm. 
Rose beetles and May beetles are 
caught in lara^e numbers. John S. 
Russell writes that a quart of the 
wing cases and other rejecta of that 
common pest, the striped cucumber 
beetle, were taken from a hole in a 
Martin box ; and Dr. Packard makes a similar statement. 
House flies and flies that trouble horses and cattle are taken 
in considerable numbers from the sides of houses and l)arns. 
Mr. Otto Widmann states, in "Forest and Stream," that 
thirty-two parent Martins made three thousand, two hun- 
dred and seventy-seven visits to their young in one day, 
— June 27, 1884. 

Every effort should be made to induce these birds to again 
take up their abode throughout the State. 

Fig. 150. —Purple Martin, 





The birds of Avet, waste lands, fresh-water meadows, 
marshes, swamps, and the shores of ponds and rivers seem 
at tirst sight to be of no importance from an economic point 

of view. Still, most of 
the ]\Iarsh Wrens, S[)ar- 
rows. Herons, 
and water-fowl 
that live in 

Fig. 151. — Salt-marsh caterpillar. This species gi^ip}]^ localities 
is eaten by marsh birds. 

help to prevent uprisings of such field pests as the 
army worms, the green grassho})pers, and the salt- 
marsh caterpillars, that sometimes multi})ly so in 
lowlands as to overrun and devastate the upland 
crops. The Herons are of some further service 
to man, for, l)esides eating insects, they help to 
prevent the undue increase of meadow mice, rep- 
tiles, and frogs. Space will not permit detailed 
descriptions of the marsh birds and water birds, 
but a brief mention may be made of some of the 
most important species. 


Song Sparrows, Savanna Sparrows, Blackbirds, 
Grackles, and Bobolinks, all of which spend more 
or less time in wet meadows and marshes, have 
already been described. Swifts and Swallows 
hawk over meadows, marshes, streams, and ponds, 
but the Swamp Song Sparrow or Swamp Sparrow 
{Melosiiiza georgiana) is rarely seen far away from V 
its favorite marshes or swamps. It is a dark spe- Fig. 152.- 
€ies, with a chestnut cap, a whitish throat, and a worm. 


])reast unstreaked ; and it sings all summer long about the 
bushy margins of grassy swamps and marshes and in the 
reeds or bush clumps of river meadows. Its song slightly 
resembles that of the Chipping Sparrow, but is more varied 
and pretentious. Its sharp rhi)ik and busy chirping as it 

fusses about its lowly nest greet 
the ears of the canoeist as he floats 
down the })liicid stream. 

Another l)ird whose song is 
commonly heard alono" the shores 
of marshy rivers is the I^ong- 
billed ]\Iarsh AVren ( TeIma(odi/tes 

Fig. 153. -Swamp Sparrow, about 7^^ 7 » -S'/ r As') . It Is f O U U d COHl- 

two-thirds natural si.e. ^^^^^^^^, ,^^.^^. ^.trcams along the 

coast, and up the river valleys of eastern Massachusetts, but 
is not so common in the central or western counties except 
along the Connecticut liiver. It sings among the reeds, cat- 
tails, and marsh grasses, a voluble, joyous, typical Wren 
song, which is kept up all day and may often be heard at 
night. It is an unmistakable Wren, with cocked tail and 
rapid, nervous motions. The Short-billed Marsh Wren 
{C-isfofhorus sfeUai'is) is one of the smallest of birds. It is 
not as conmion as the other species, and frequents sedgy 
meadows and wet lands along brooks. Its song more nearly 
resembles that of a Sparrow than that of the typical Wren. 
Marsh Wrens build the little globular nests, each with an 
opening in the side, that are found among the cat-tails or the 
meadow grass. 


Rails are confined to the shores of ponds and rivers or to 
marshes and wet meadows, where they skulk amid the rushes, 
cat-tails, grasses, and water plants, and are more often heard 
than seen. The old saying, "As thin as a rail," might have 
originally been applied to these birds, for their bodies are so 
thin that they readily slip between the stems of the grasses. 
Although no longer as plentiful as in the past, they still 
breed here, and many pass through the State in migration. 

The two common si)ecies are the Virginia Rail (HaUus 
virghiianus) and the Carolina or Sora Rail {^Porzana euro- 


Una). The Sora is a dark, handsome bird, nearly as large 
as a Quail. It has the forehead, chin, and throat black, an 
ashj breast, and a short, j^ellow bill. The Virginia Rail is 
about an inch longer, having a long, curved bill and a light- 
colored throat. Many strange notes that are heard on the 
marsh at morning or evening or during the night ma}' be 
attributed to Rails. Both species nest close to the ground 
in marsh or meadow. Thin as the Rails are ordinarily, they 
become very fat in autumn, when they are shot in great 
numbers for food. 


Every pond or stream with shallow waters has its resident 
or visiting Herons, and as all species of Herons are now 
protected by law, it is hoped that the decrease of the larger 
species may be arrested. 

Near the seashore and the larger bodies of water a l)ird 
is sometimes seen to rise from the marsh, uttering as it flies 
a loud, explosive quock. It is larger than a Crow, has a 
blackish back and crown, a short tail, light under parts, and 
grayish wings. It folds its long neck, tucks its long legs 
up behind, and flies off slowly, its wing tips bending well 
downward at every stroke. This is the Black-crowned 
Night Heron (^I^ycticorax nycticorax ncevius), which flies 
chiefly at evening, but may often be seen abroad in the day- 
time, particularly on cloudy days. Young birds are brown 
above, streaked and dotted with white, but all have the same 
note. They usually nest in communities on trees in swamps. 

There is hardly a shallow pond or large stream in the 
State, remote from cities, from which one may not flush a 
smaller, dark-green bird, with dark, bluish wings, which 
rises either silently or with a sharp 2)eok, takes a reef in its 
neck, stows its legs, and flies away steadily, keeping at 
about the same level. The downward bend to its wing tips 
as it flies seems to be even more i)ronounced than in the 
Night Heron. This is the Green Heron (^Butorides vires- 
cens). It has several peculiar, startling notes, and an ex- 
plosive, weird wowoo(/h, given as if in a stage whisper, that is 
sometimes uttered when it is perched on a tree. This species 
nests in trees, often singly, but sometimes in companies. 


In early spring, or in August or September, a tall, dark, 
lone bird may be seen stalking by some pond, along the sea- 
shore, or on tidal flats. It is far larger than other common 
Herons, and when it flies sometimes gives utterance to harsh, 
loud croaks, and spreads a pair of great wings that seem as 
large as those of the Eagle. This unmistakal)le bird is the 
Great Blue Heron or Blue "Crane" (as it is sometimes 
wrongly called) {Ardea Iterodias), which lives largely on 
fish, frogs, and meadow mice. 

Another species is sometimes started from the grassy 
meadow or the marshy fen. This is a large broAvn bird, 
about the size of the Night Heron. The under part of its 
neck is distinctly streaked with brown and white, and there 
is a black streak on the side of the neck. It is a skulker, 
seeking concealment by preference, and flying only when 
hard pressed. Its flight is slow and awkward, and it usually 
does not flv high or far, but alights ao-ain anions: tlie grass 
or reeds of the marsh. Sometimes on rising it utters sev- 
eral harsh, rattling croaks. This is the American Bittern 
(^Botaurus Jeidiginosus), — a bird that lives in the bog and 
nests there. It seldom, if ever, alights in trees. Its most 
common spring note consists of a series of choking, gurgling 
sounds, that resemble the noise made by an old-fashioned 
wooden pump, and may be represented by the syllables unlx- 
a-c/nink, repeated several times. This has given the bird 
the vernacular name of "plum pud'n." Sometimes at a 
distance only a single note can be heard, which sounds like 
the stroke of a mallet on a stake. Hence the name Stake 
Driver ; but how it came by the name of Indian Hen I am 
unable to say. The Bittern is perhaps the most useful of all 
the Herons, for it fre(j[uently goes to Ioav fields and pastures, 
where it industriously hunts grasshoppers and other Orthop- 
tera. A small species, the Least Bittern (^Ardefta exiJis), 
may sometimes be heard cooing in the marshes, but is 
seldom seen. The top of the head, back, and tail are black : 
elsewhere the bird is mainly brown, lighter Ijelow. It often 
sits erect, facing the observer, its bill pointing upward, and 
so it is unnoticed among the reeds or flags. Its habits are 

little known. 



We have no means of knowing how many species of 
water-fowl once bred al)out the ponds and rivers of the 
State, but there are now but two important species that 
breed liere in any numbers, and one of these, the AVood 
Duck (^Aix sjponsa) (see frontispiece), is now rapidly grow- 
ing rare in most of the State. This bird, of exquisite k)veli- 
ness, was once the most common wild-fowl that nested along 
the shores of our w^ooded streams and ponds. It is now 
protected by statute at all times ; but only the most rigid 
enforcement of the law can save tliis, the most beautiful of 
American wild ducks, from extermination. It is not as sli}" 
as the Black Duck, and it frequents small ponds and wooded 
streams that afford cover to the gunner and can be easily shot 
across. The young are hatched in a nest in some hollow 
tree or stump, and are often carried to the water by the 
mother bird. They are fortunate if they are not all killed 
by some gunner as soon as they are big enough for the table. 
The bird is harmless, and is at times a great insect eater. 
It should be saved from the fate of the Passenger Pigeon, 
Heath Hen, and A¥ild Turkey. 

The Black Duck [Anas obscura) is more common, and has 
of late somewhat increased in numbers, owing, probably, to 
improved and better-enforced laws for its protection. It is 
not, as its name implies, a black bird, but is dusky, with a 
lighter neck and throat. The under sides of its wings are 
also lighter in color. It breeds on the ground, mainly in 
marshes and bogs, or on islands in ponds, and is Avell dis- 
tributed in suital)le localities throughout the State. It is 
normally very destructive to grasshoppers, but in this State 
it seldom ventures far from its fastnesses in the bog, except 
as it goes to the sea or large bodies of water, which give it a 
good outlook and some chance of safety. 

The other pond and river Ducks and the Geese are mere 
mio'rants through Massachusetts. The sea Ducks are not 
known to be of much value to man except through the 
recreation their pursuit affords. The service rendered to 
man l)y sea birds is referred to on p. 80. 




He who has any doubt about the former abundance of the 
larger birds in Massachusetts should read the accounts pub- 
lished by some of the earlier voyagers and settlers regarding 
the great numbers of Avater birds, shore birds, game birds, 
Hawks and Eagles, Great Auks, Cranes, Herons, wild Swans, 
Canada Geese, Snow Geese, Brant Geese, and Turkeys, that 
were found in the early years of the colony. We read of 
a thousand wild Turkeys reported as seen in a day, of forty 
Partridges seen in one tree and sixty Quail in another, of 
forty or fifty Ducks killed at a shot, of twelve score shore 
birds killed at two discharges of a fowling piece, of flocks of 
Passenger Pigeons that obscured the sky to the horizon in 
all directions, and of nesting places where for miles the 
trees were loaded with Pio;eons' nests. 

It is now well known that the Great Auk and the Labrador 
Duck have become extinct ; that wild Turkeys, Swans, Pas- 
senger Pigeons, Cranes, and Snow Geese have practically 
disappeared from the State ; and that the shore birds, game 
birds, and fresh- water Ducks have decreased tremendously 
in numbers. No records regarding the increase or decrease 
of the smaller birds have been made until within recent 
years, and we know only in a general way that certain spe- 
cies, like Swallows, Sparrows, and Eobins, increased with 
and after the clearing and settling of the countr}^, and that 
within the last half century there has been a considerable 
local decrease of these and other native birds, particularly 
about the centers of population.^ Also, it is evident that 
small birds are not nearly as plentiful here as they are in 

' Director William T. Hornaday of the New York Zoological Park estimated, 
from reports received by him, that birds had decreased twenty-seven i)er cent, in 
Massachusetts during the fifteen years previous to 1898. The result of my own 
inquiries regarding the decreas(! of birds in Massachusetts was embodied in a 
report of one hundred and tlu'ee i)ages made to the State Board of Agriculture in 


some States farther west, and that they are not numerous 
enough to fully control the insects on which they feed. 

It is certainly desirable, then, to take measures to increase 
the number of useful birds, and any inexpensive means of 
accomplishing this end is worthy the most careful consider- 
ation of thoughtful people. 

When one is asked what controls the nunil)ers of birds, 
he finds himself at a loss for a ready answer. There are 
many well-understood checks upon their increase ; others 
are more obscure. We can understand, for example, wdiy 
the larger game bu'ds and shore birds have decreased in 
numbers : but it is difficult to see why the Dickcissel or 
Black-throated Bunting has disappeared from the Atlantic 
seaboard and is now seldom found east of the Alleghanies, 
why the Ked-headed Woodpecker has so nearly disapjieared 
from Massachusetts, or why certain resident species as well 
as certain migratory species are common one season and 
uncommon the next. 

To efiectually protect birds we must first understand the 
chief causes of mortality among them. Comparatively few 
wild birds die from disease or old age. Most of them per- 
ish from lack of food, the severity of the elements, or the at- 
tacks of their enemies. The destruction of birds by storms, 
great and widespread as it is, probably never occurs over 
regions extensive enough to utterly exterminate any species. 
Their destruction by starvation and cold is usually coextensive 
only with the area of severest storm. Under normal condi- 
tions the decimated species usually repopulate the country in 
a, few years. Many young birds are killed by storms in the 
nesting season. Many migrating birds are blown into the 
sea and drowned. Fortunately for the birds, they are ordi- 
narily enabled by migration to avoid the severity of winter ; 
but they are unable in this way to escape the destructive 
agencies set at work by man along their lines of migration. 
In annual, perennial, widespread, and complete bird destruc- 
tion, man takes the lead among all other forces of nature. 

1905: and as copies of this report — The Decrease of Certain Birds and its 
Causes; with Suggestions for Bird Protection — can he obtained of the secretary 
of the Board at the State House, its conclusions will not be reiterated here. 



Man is responsible for the extinction of species or for 
tlieir disap})earance from great tracts of countrj. He cuts 
down the forest and drives out tlie larger wood birds. He 
destroys the birds that injure his crops or flocks. He intro- 
duces animals which destroy birds, and he shoots birds for 
food, money, or sport. It is only since civilized man reached 
this country that the Great Auk has become extinct, and that 
the Passenger Pigeon, which roamed in countless millions 
over a continent, has been swept away. It is since then that 
the Prairie Chicken, once found in the east, and so plentiful 
in Kentucky that it was considered fit food for slaves and 
swine only, has been pushed toward the far west. The wild 
Turkey has been nearly driven out of the Atlantic States by 
man. The White Egret and the Carolina Parrot have almost 
disappeared. The Bartramian Sandpiper or Upland Plover, 
the Wood Duck, and the Woodcock must follow if not fully 
protected. Man exterminates birds for money, little recking 
that he is killing the "goose that lays the golden &gg.'' 

The greatest enemies of game birds, and, therefore, the 
greatest factors in their extermination, are the epicures, — 
the people who l)uy birds to eat. The marketmen merely 
supply the existing demand. The call for game birds has 
been so insistent and the price paid for them so remunerative 
that marketmen have often organized to defeat legislation for 
the protection of game. Observing people who have fre- 
quented the markets have read from the butcher's stall the 
story of the decrease of game birds. Within thirty years, 
tons of Passenofer Pig-eons have stood in barrels in the Bos- 
ton market, and men now living can remember when the east- 
ern markets were glutted with Quail and Prairie Chickens. 
The war of extermination waged on game birds is a blot on 
the history of American civilization. It is paralleled only 
by the destruction of birds for millinery purposes, which has 
some shockingly cruel aspects. 

Here again the dealers — the milliners — are not so much 
to blame as the public, for the former cater to the wants 
of women only as fashion dictates. In civilization we still 


cling to our rings, beads, and feathers, — the ornaments of 
the savage. Within thirty-five years the skins of Bluebirds, 
Scarlet Tanagers, and Baltimore Orioles have been in good 
demand in Massachusetts for hat ornaments. The brutal 
savagery which is characteristic of this phase of bird destruc- 
tion has been well illustrated in the extermination of the 
Egrets of the United States. Twenty-five years ago these 
beautiful birds were abundant in some southern States ; 
stragglers occasionally came north as far as Xew P^ngland. 
They are shy birds during most of the year, feeding chiefly 
in deep swamps and along lonely water courses. In the 
breeding season they gather into heronries, commonly called 
"rookeries," where they build their nests. Then much of 
their shyness disappears under the stress of providing for 
and protecting their young. Unfortunately for them, their 
nuptial plumes are perfect in the breeding season. Fashion 
demanded the plumes. Xesting time was the plume hunter's 
opportunity. There was little difiiculty, then, in securing the 
birds by shooting them when they were sitting on the nests or 
hovering over their helpless young. So the old birds were 
shot, the plumes stripped from their backs, and the young 
left to starve in the nests or become the prey of Hawks, 
Crows, or Vultures. When I was in Florida, in 1878, groat 
flights of these bird's were seen alonof the lakes and rivers of 
the southern counties. One heronry was estimated to con- 
tain three million birds. Ten years later they were rare 
everywhere, and now they are practically extirpated. They 
have been pursued along the coasts of Mexico and into 
Central and South America. The search is extending into 
all countries where they may be found. Half-savage Indians 
and negroes are enlisted in the slaughter, sup})lied with guns 
and ammunition, and sent wherever they can find the birds. 
The misery and suffering entailed can be imagined. Thus 
are the "stub" plumes, "aigrettes," and "ospreys" procured. 
They are not manufactured, and, whatever their color when 
sold, they were originally stripped from the back, head, or 
neck of some white Heron or Egret. The absolute extinc- 
tion of these plume-bearing species is assured unless women 
will stop wearing the plumes. A similar slaughter took place 


among the sea birds along the Atlantie coasts. The birds 
were shot down on their breedin": srrounds and their winsrs 
cut off. Man}^ human lives have been lost by reason of 
this nefarious business. In 1905 a warden emploj^ed by the 
National Association of Audubon Societies to protect the 
birds was murdered by plume hunters. The reader may be 
spared further details of this barbarous trade. 

The number of l)irds killed in the United States each year 
before the business was checked by law and public sentiment 
cannot be even estimated, but some figures can be given. 
A single local taxidermist handled thirty thousand bird skins 
in one year. A collector brought l)ack eleven thousand 
skins from a three months' trip. About seventy thousand 
l)ird skins were sent to Xew York from a small district on 
Long Island in about four months. American bird skins 
were shipped to London and Paris. We may judge of the 
demand there for birds from the fact that from one auction 
room in London there were sold in three months over four 
hundred thousand bird skins from America and over three 
hundred and fifty thousand from India. One Xew York 
firm had a contract to supplj- forty thousand skins to a 
Paris firm. 

In Massachusetts this trade bore most heavil}- upon the 
Gulls and Terns, which were driven out from man}' breeding 
places along the coast. From 1870 to 1890 this business 
was at its height in this country; and, as the market in 
Europe is still brisk, no doubt some birds are still killed 
here for millinery purposes, and some are still worn here, 
despite the laws which prohibit any one from killing native 
birds or selling or wearing their feathers. 

The danger to birds nuiltiplies Avith the increase of poi)u- 
lation. Gunners and sportsmen shoot birds mainly to sup- 
ply the mai'kets or for recreation ; but many persons shoot 
birds, large or small, merely for sport or practice. There 
is a class of foreigners Avho shoot small birds for sport, 
and eat them. These people go out in S(|uads, and each 
man shoots at everv bird within ranoe, whether sittinir or 
fiying. The Italians are tremendously destructive to bird 
life. In southern Kui-ope the larger birds are now so scarce 

PLATE XXXIII. - Nest Robbers. A cause of the deemise 
of birds in many hjcalities. (^riiotograpli by A. C. Dike.) 


that the people have taken to killing the smaller species, and 
the killing of small Inrds is regarded as sport. An Italian 
sportsman will secure a small live Owl, fasten it on a pole 
to attract the birds, take his station near by, and shoot every 
small bird that appears ; poachers stretch great nets in places 
where birds come to 
feed or drink ; and thus 
the small birds that are 
reared under protection 
in northern Europe are 
slaughtered on their 
migrations in the south. 
The steady stream of 
immigration from Italy 
to America constitutes 
a great menace to the 
smaller birds, as well as 
to all birds and all ani- 
mals that are eatable. 
Unless this element of 
population is prohibited 
from carrying guns, the 
effect of their inroads 
upon bird life will soon 
be manifest here. Trustworthy correspondents state that 
the Italian contract laborers kill practically all the birds in 
the neighborhood of their camps. Many Italians trap birds 
by means of birdlime or trap cages. Boys with shot guns, 
"air rifles," and various destructive weapons, shoot at any- 
thing that oilers a fair mark. The improvement in firearms 
and the reduction in their price go hand in hand with the con- 
stant increase in the numl)er of people able to bear arms, the 
augmentation of the number of crack shots, and the acces- 
sion to the number of dogs trained to hunt birds. 

Snares are still much used, even where forbidden by 
law. Children, especially boys, destroy the nests and eggs 
of birds, thus constituting a considerable check on bird in- 
crease. The mania for collecting l)irds' eggs is widespread. 
Some boys use the nests of birds for tarijets and their eff^s 

Fig'. 154. —The Italian spoi-tsman and his decoy 
Owl. (From Bird-Lore.) 


for missiles in the same S})irit in which such joung savages 
murder the toads about a pond. Something is wrong with a 
system of education under which such wholesale abuses of 
useful creatures are possible. 

There are many direct ways in which man reduces the 
numbers of birds. Marshes are drained, and the sustenance 
of marsh birds destroyed. Reservoirs are made, and the 
haunts of land birds overflowed. The building of dams for 
manufacturing purposes holds back the waters of rivers, so 
that heavy rainfalls in the breeding season flood the nests of 
many marsh birds, destroying eggs and young. Thus Rails, 
Bitterns, and Marsh Wrens are drowned or driven away. 
Thousands of birds and their nests are burned by fires in 
the woods. Swifts are sometimes suflbcated in numbers by 
coal tires built in nesting time. Liohthouses and electric 
light towers are the ol)stacles on which many birds are 
dashed to death in their nocturnal migrations. Telegraph, 
electric light, trollej^ car, and telephone wires are all 
deadly ; their number is constantly increasing. Thousands 
of Woodcocks and many other birds are killed by flying 
against them. Wire fences are nearly as fatal to Grouse 
and other low-flying birds. 

Last but perhaps not least among the causes ^vhich de- 
crease the number of birds about the centers of population 
there must be enumerated the clearing up of underbrush, 
shrubbery, vines, and thickets. Many birds of the tangle 
are driven out when this cover is destroyed and replaced by 
well-kept lawns and fields. The work against the gipsy 
moth and the brown-tail moth, necessary as it is, has reduced 
the number of birds in many localities because of the clear- 
ing up and burning of undergrowth and the thinning out of 
trees, which had to be done. Where the caterpillars of 
these moths have defoliated large tracts of wooded country 
this also has decreased the birds, for it has left their nests 
exposed to the sun and to their enemies. Several corre- 
spondents have expressed the opinion that birds are killed by 
the use of arsenical insecticides, such as Paris green and arse- 
nate of lead, in spraying. Dead birds have l)een })icked up in 
different localities soon after orchard or shade trees have been 


sprayed. Mr. Robert Eitlgway noticed that birds decreased 
very much in numbers in a section of Illinois where practi- 
cally all the farmers began spraying their orchards ; but in a 
recent letter he expresses some doubt as to whether spraying, 
or a bounty crusade against the Sparrows, caused the dimi- 
nution of birds. The reduction of birds in such cases may 
perhaps be explained by the fact that the insects had been 
destroyed by spraying, leaving the birds without food. Mr. 
William Brewster has ol)served two instances where the 
spraying of shade trees caused a sudden decrease in the 
numbers of birds, and in both cases several dead birds were 
found. The stomachs of some of these birds are to be ex- 
amined for traces of arsenic, and this ought to determine 
whether they have been poisoned. Birds usually reject 
sickly insects, and would not be likely to eat those which 
showed the efl'ects of poison ; l)ut gipsy caterpillars will 
carry more poison in proportion to their size than would 
kill a man, and they will still appear healthy. It has been 
noticed in some cases that birds have avoided trees that 
have been sprayed with arsenate of lead, but in other cases 
they have not. This subject should be further investigated. 


Under nature, the indigenous natural enemies of birds 
cannot l)e regarded as the cause of any material reduction in 
the numbers of the smaller species. Under man's rule, how- 
ever, the conditions may be so changed that certain natural 
enemies of birds may become positively harmful. For this 
reason, if for no other, the bird protectionist should care- 
fully study the effect produced upon birds by their enemies. 
Any natural enemy of l)irds which becomes unduly numer- 
ous may prove seriously restrictive to their increase, and 
may require severe checking. 

Foreign species introduced and liberated in a new country 
may constitute a serious danger to bird life. Still, many 
people have deliberately introduced mammals and birds from 
other countries and liljerated them here. Fortunately, per- 
haps, few of these attempts to saddle foreign species upon 
us have proved successful. There can be but little objection 


to the introduction of domesticated species so long as they 
can be kept in subjection ; neither can there be much danger 
in introducing game birds, except that they may replace our 
native species, which, rather, we should try to foster and 
increase in numbers ; but there is often a possibility that 
any introduced bird or mammal that will bring no money to 
the pocket of the hunter or marketman may become a pest. 
We have had such an experience with the " English " Spar- 
row, and we may yet regret the more recent importation of 
the European Starling. The plague of rabbits in Australia 
and that of the mongoose in the Island of Jamaica illustrate 
the danger of introducing species. 

If the money, time, and thought that have been expended 
in this work by acclimatization societies and by individuals 
could have been utilized in protecting, domesticating, and 
propagating useful native species, it might have given better 

We have already introduced into this country a terrible 
scourge to birds, — the domestic cat. My statement hereto- 
fore published, that the mature cat in good hunting grounds 
kills, on the average, fifty birds a year, is certainly within 
bounds. Kittens and half-grown cats do not catch many 
birds, but the old cat that wanders oft' into the fields and 
woods is terribly destructive. Of course where there are 
many cats each one cannot kill so many birds, for there are 
not enough birds to furnish each cat its full quota. Mr. 
William Brewster tells of an acquaintance in Maine w^ho said 
that his cat killed about fifty birds a year. When asked 
why he did not get another cat, he said that it would be of 
no use, for they were all alike. Mr. A. C. Dike writes that 
his family owned a cat which was well cared for and a par- 
ticular pet. They watched it through one season, and found 
that it killed fifty-eight birds, including the young in five 
nests. Nearl}^ a hundred correspondents scattered through 
all the counties of the State report the cat as one of the 
greatest enemies of birds. The reports that have come in 
of the torturing and killing of birds by cats are absolutely 

PLATE XXXV. — Cat with Young Robin. This pet cat killed tifty-eight birds 
in one year. (Pliotosii-apli, from life, by A. C. Dike.) 


sickening. The number of birds killed by them in this State 
is appalling. 

It is quite true, however, that some cats do not kill many 
birds, and that some intelligent or high-bred cats may be 
taught not to kill any. Some cat lovers believe that each 
cat kills on the average not more than ten birds a 3'ear; 
but I have learned of two instances where more than that 
number were killed in a single da}^ and another where seven 
were killed. If we assume, however, that the average cat 
on the farm kills but ten birds a year, and that there is one 
cat to each farm in Massachusetts, we have, in round num- 
bers, seventy thousand cats killing seven hundred thousand 
birds annuall3^l 

If we add to the cats kept on farms the enormous number 
of village and city cats, many of which have good oppor- 
tunities for catching birds, we shall see the chief reason for 
great mortality to birds and their young about our villages 
and cities. If cats are allowed their liberty at night during 
the nesting season, they, unnoticed, rob many birds' nests. 
The cat is more dangerous to birds than is any native mam- 
mal that roams our woods, for it is nocturnal, a splendid 
climber, a good stalker, a strong leaper, and is very quick 
and active. Unfortunately, the cat is only half domesti- 
cated, and easily goes back to a wild state. If the dog 
loses its master it will soon find another, but the mature 
cat is more likely to run wild. Thousands of these wild 
or half-wild cats roam the country, destroying game birds, 
squirrels, field mice, chickens, and any animal they can 
master. The effect produced by cats is convincingly shown 
where they have been introduced on islands, and have nearly 
exterminated rabbits and greatly decreased the numbers of 
birds. John Burroughs says that cats probably destroy more 
birds than all other animals combined. William Dutcher, 
president of the National Association of Audubon Societies, 
considers the wild house cat one of the grreatest causes of 
bird destruction known. He sa3^s that the boy with the air 
gun is not in the same class with the cat. 

' Probably there are some farms on which no cats are kept, but on one farm 
in Worcester County thirteen are ciuartered and on another sixteen. 


Possibly no individual cat can kill as many birds in a 
season as a single's Hawk, but there are probably a 
hundred cats in the State to each bird Hawk. A friend who 
was raising Pheasants near a village was obliged to kill more 
than two hundred cats in a few j^ears. Another Pheasant 
raiser, far from any village, found it necessary to kill about 
two hundred wandering cats the first year. He was troubled 
by Hawks also, l)ut the number seen and killed was com- 
parativelj" small. Such evidence goes to show that the cat 
is particularly attracted by young birds. Dogs are less 
destructive than cats, but they kill some birds, and eat 
some birds' eggs. 


There is something to be said against the fox, raccoon, 
mink, skunk, and weasel as enemies of birds, but none of 
these animals do much harm unless the}^ are unusualh" abun- 
dant. In that case any one of them may become pernicious. 
This is most true of the fox and the weasel and least true 
of the skunk, which is a great insect killer. Nevertheless, 
the fox and the weasel kill many mice and other small mam- 
mals, and so are of some service to the farmer. The relation 
of squirrels to birds is more important. 


Some individual squirrels are habitual nest robbers. This 
includes all species, but the red sf^uirrel is the worst cul- 
prit. Where squirrels have the nest-robbing habit they 
niay do more harm among birds than any other mammal 
except the cat. They are active, can climb to almost any 
bird's nest, and can defend themselves when attacked by the 
parent birds. Red squirrels and gray squirrels wnll rob 
nests either on the ground or in trees, taking eggs or young 
as they find them. The chipmunk usually molests only those 
nests that are on or near the ground. 

The squirrels about my home in Wareham have this habit 
to some extent. It may have been acquired, but in one 
case, at least, it seems to have been inherited or instinc- 
tive. Some young red squirrels were taken from the nest 


before their eyes were opened, and Avhile they were still 
taking their mother's milk, and could never have tasted 
birds or eggs. They were afterwards given to Mr. C. Allan 
Lyford, and reared in a cage at Worcester. One day, when 
they were well grown, one was given its liberty. The first 
thing it did was to climb an apple tree, go to a Robin's 
nest, and begin eating out the brains of a j^oung bird. How- 
ever, its eagerness for fresh meat may have been caused by 
a lack of animal food in its cage diet. This habit of killins: 
young birds has been reported from several counties in the 
State, and must be Avidespread. Squirrels are quite car- 
nivorous. When meat is put up on trees for birds, squirrels 
frequently come and eat it ; also, they are destructive to 
apples, pears, cherries, strawberries, and sometimes even to 
grapes, and they dig up seed corn in planting time ; but 
they have two good habits, — they plant trees and they eat 
insects. Once in summer, when there were no nuts, acorns, 
or buds for squirrels to eat, I saw a gray squirrel in the 
woods go over a black oak about fifty feet in height, search- 
ing systematically, branch by branch, with its nose close to 
the bark, and apparently catching about all the insects rest- 
ing there. It went to a brown-tail moth web, and spent some 
time there. I distinctly saw one caterpillar in its mouth. 
The tree had been considerably infested l)y leaf hoppers and 
caterpillars. As it had a small top, and could easily be ex- 
amined, I climbed and inspected it after the squirrel had 
gone. My search occupied about half an hour. The smooth, 
clean bark formed a dark, glossy background, on which in- 
sects could plainly be seen, and the foliage was thin, and 
not hard to examine ; but I could find only about a dozen 
insects, and no brown-tail caterpillars. Since then I ha^e 
observed other similar cases. It is not so widely known that 
squirrels eat insects as that they rob birds' nests. Possibly 
their virtues ma}' balance their faults ; but we shall never be 
able to determine their economic position until a thorough 
study of their food habits can be made. 


Rats and Mice. 

Rats and mice kill some birds. Probably the tree-climbing 
white-footed or deer mouse is one of the greatest enemies 
that birds have among these smaller rodents, but under 
natural conditions it is held in check by Owls. 


Eagles are growing rare, and the more common Bald 
Eagle feeds mainly on fish, hence it need not be reckoned 
among the enemies of birds, although it may kill a few crip- 
pled Ducks. 


A very few species of Hawks are probably the most destruc- 
tive native natural enemies of birds. All other Hawks kill 
comparatively few. The Falcons, which are represented 
here by three species, the Sparrow Hawk {Falco spa7'verius), 
the Pigeon Hawk (Falco columbarius) , and the Duck Hawk 
(Falco 2Jeregn'nus anatum), are pernicious. None of these, 
however, are very common in the State, and for this reason, 
mainly, their depredations are not to be compared with those 
of the bird-killing Hawks. The Sparrow Hawk, a great in- 
sect killer, kills fewer birds than either of the others, and is 
regarded as a friend to the farmer. The other two Falcons 
are uncommon or rare, and therefore kill few birds in this 
State ; but there are three species of pernicious Hawks : 
the American Goshawk {Accipifer atricapiUus^ , the Cooper's 
Hawk or "Partridge Hawk" (Accipitei' cooperii), and the 
Sharp-shinned Hawk or "Chicken Hawk" (Accipiter velox). 
The Goshawk is an uncommon or periodical winter visitant, 
but the other two are fairly common, and individually are 
probably the most destructive of all the natural enemies of 
birds. They are slaty or bluish above, with rather short, 
rounded wings, and long tails. When flying at any heiglit 
they progress by alternate periods of fla})ping and soaring. 
They may be known by their sha})e and by their manner 
of flight. 

The Buzzards, or Hen Hawks, so called, get comparatively 
few birds, but some individuals kill poultry. The Red- 

PLATE XXXVI. — Barred Owl. (JMiotoiiraph, from life, by C. A. 
Kl'lhI.) (From American Ornithology.) 


shouldered Hawk (Buteo Umatiis) is the most common and 
also the most useful. This species feeds largely on meadow 
mice. All the Buzzards are very destructive to field mice 
or other small rodents, and on the whole may be regarded as 
useful to the farmer. These are the large Hawks, with long, 
broad wings, that are often seen soaring in circles. 

The Marsh Hawk or Bog Hawk (Circus hicdsonhis), a 
long, slender bird, the male of which is very light in color, 
and the female brown with a white rump, is often seen 
flying low over the meadows. This bird also is a great 
destroyer of meadow mice, and is in general very useful. 


All the Owls kill l)irds, but most species kill but few, 
and live mainly on mammals, particularly rodents like mice, 
rabbits, and hares, on the increase of which they constitute 
an effectual check. The Snowy Owl {JSTyctea nyctea) and 
the Hawk Owl (Surm'a ulula caparoch) are rather rare 
winter visitors ; but the Great Horned Owl {Bubo virr/ini- 
anm), our largest resident species, is a great feeder on 
skunks, "cotton-tail" rabbits, and mice, although it also 
kills some game birds and small birds. This is the Owl 
that hoots in the winter woods. Hod' lioo hoo, Hod' hoo hoo^ 
Wwo'. It is often called the Cat Owl, because of its long 
ear tufts ; or the Hoot Owl, because of its lugubrious cries. 

The Barred Owl (St/rnium varium) is another large Owl 
that hoots lugubriously, but its call usually ends with a hol- 
low hoo'aw, given with a falling inflection. It has a large, 
round head, without ear tufts, and is barred with brown across 
its whitish breast. This bird is also a mouse eater, but, like 
the Great Horned Owl, it kills some poultry and game. 

The Short-eared Owl {Asio accipifrinus) is a medium-sized 
Owl, light yellowish-brown in color, streaked with blackish 
above and colored plain buff below. It lives much about 
meadows and marshes, where it hawks around in the dusk 
as the Marsh Hawk does by day, quietly picking up mice. 
It seems to be a very silent bird, and its long wings carry 
it about in soundless flight, to the undoing of its prey. 
At times it kills a good many small Sparrows on the marsh. 


The American Long-eared Owl {Asia icUsonianus) is a 
bird of similar size and shape, but with a tritie larger head, 
and very long ear tufts rising from near the middle of it. 
It is dark brown above and light lielow. This is a long- 
winged bird of the woods, a night hunter, hiding in thick 
foliage of coniferous trees by day. It is a great killer of 
wood mice and nocturnal insects, and kills a few birds. 

The Screech Owl (3Ie(/ascops asio), the smallest of the 
eared Owls, is hardly as large as a Quail. It has two color 
phases that are not attributable to age or sex, some indi- 
viduals being reddish in color, while others are gray. Its 
wailing cries are frequently heard about orchards in towns 
and villages, as well as in the woods, and it connnonly nests 
in hollow orchard trees. This is one of the most useful of 
all Owls. It is very destructive to moths, caterpillars, and 
beetles, as well as wood mice and field mice. In winter it 
enters barns and sheds, where it kills mice, and sometimes 
when driven by hunger it kills and eats Doves. During 
the breeding season it kills some small birds, particularly 
if mice are not plentiful enough to furnish an abundance of 
food for its young. 

The Saw-whet or Acadian Owl (JVi/ctala acadica) is a 
little brown Owl, with no eartufts. It is the smallest of all 
the native species of Massachusetts. It is rather uncom- 
mon, but very useful, as it feeds mainly on mice and insects 
and rather rarely on birds. 

The Barn Owl, perhaps the most useful of the family, is 
rare here. 

On the whole, while Owls must be ranked among the ene- 
mies of small birds, they usually do so much more good than 
they do harm that only under exceptional conditions can they 
be regarded as injurious, although the Horned Owl is com- 
monly considered pernicious because of its destruction of 
game . 

Crows and Jays, 

The Crows, Jays, and Magpies have acquired a world-wide 
reputation as nest robbers. The common Crow and the Blue 
Jay manage to live up to their reimtation. My report on 
the Crow and some additional notes on the destructive n ess 

PLATE XXXVII. — Blue Jay's Nest in Author's Grove. (Photo- 
jj:raph, from life, by C. A. Reed.) (Fi-om American Ornitliology.) 


of both Crow and Jay have been pubhshed elsewhere. ^ The 
American Crow (^Corvus ainei-icanifs) Is a most deadly enemy 
to birds from the size of the Chipping- Sparrow to that of the 
Night Heron, Ruffed Grouse, and Black Duck, for it contin- 
ually steals the eggs and young of such birds and poultry. 
The evidence on this point is so con- 
vincing and voluminous that it is A^l 
impossible to avoid this conclu- 
sion, although it is (|uite prob- 
able that only certain 
individual Crows are 
the criminals. Crows 
not only destroy eggs and 
young birds, but they have 
been known to band together 
to hunt down and kill adult birds 
as laro-e as the Ruffed Grouse. 
The well-known Blue Jay 
{Cyanoctfta criKtata) is destructive 
to the egors of the smaller l)irds 
whose nests it robs s^^stematically, 
and it has frequently been seen to 
kill the young. The Robin and other 
larger birds will drive the Jay away 
from their nests, but it often succeeds 
in robbing them by stealth. Vireos, Warblers, and Spar- 
rows it regards very little, and plunders their nests Avithout 
noticing their agonized cries. Jays and Crows together 
sometimes make it very difficult for other birds to raise any 
young. It would not 1)e advisable to exterminate the Crow, 
for it has many useful habits ; but it should not be allowed 
to increase at the expense of the smaller liirds. Crows are 
valuable as grasshopper killers, and the}^ are destructive to 
the gipsy moth. Ja3'S eat the eggs of the tent caterpillar 
moth, and the larvae of the gipsy moth and other hairy eater- 

Fig. 155. — Blue Jay, one- 
lialf natural size. 

' See The Crow in Massacluisetts, Annual Report of tlie Massachusetts State 
Board of Agriculture, IWtO, pp. 285-289; Two Years with the Birds on a Fann, 
Ibid., 1%2, pp. 147-14;); and The Decrease of Certain Birds, Ibid.. 15)04, pp. 498- 



pillars. Mr. S. Waldo Bailey informs me that Blue Jays 
tear open the Avinter webs of the brow n-tail moth and eat 
the young" larvae. 

The House Sparrow. 

The House or " English " Sparrow {l\(sser domesticus) is 
the onh' one of the smaller l)irds that has repeatedly been 
seen to destroy the nests of other birds, break their eggs, 
kill their young, mob them, and drive them away from 
their homes. It occupies the houses of Bluebirds, Martins, 
Swallows, and Wrens, and the nests of Barn Swallows, 
Cliff Swallows, and Bank Swallows, and, by persistency and 
force of numbers, drives the owners away. All careful ob- 
servers who have watched the Sparrow ever since its intro- 
duction, and have noted the effect produced upon other 
birds by its presence, agree that it is pernicious. 

Being a small bird, it necessarily eats many insects ; but it 
lives more on grain and less on insects than any of the native 
birds that it sui)plants, and is one of the few species that 
deserves no consideration at the hands of the farmer. 

The Shrikes or Butcher Birds are regarded as beneficial ; 
but our winter visitor, the Northern Shrike (Lcmiiis hore- 
alis), kills many small birds. It pursues Tree Sparrows, 

Juncos, Song Sparrows, and 
Chickadees, overtakes and 
strikes them while they are in 
flight, sometimes eating them, 
but oftener leaving them to hang 
on trees, where they furnish food 
for other birds. When one sees 
the little Butcher killing Chick- 
adees and hanging them u}), his 
faith in its usefulness receives a 
great shock. Shrikes are i)rob- 
ably of less value here than in their northern homes, where 
in sunnner they feed much on insects. Their chief utility 
while here consists in their mouse-hunting proclivities. 

Fig. 156. — Norlliern Shrike, oue-h;iU' 
natural size. 


Other Bird Enemies. 

Some Gulls and the larger Grackles or Crow Blackbirds 
are accused, with some justice, of nest robbing. There 
seems to be little satisfactory evidence against the Cuckoos, 
except the general aversion shown toward them by other 

Probably individuals of many species occasionally eat the 
eggs of other birds or molest their nests, as do the Wrens. 
Since we have acquitted the Catbird of the charge of robbing 
birds' nests, it is only fair to state that John Burroughs writes 
that he saw a Catbird in the act. Still, we cannot conclude 
that this is a common habit with the Catbird ; it is probably 
exceptional, as with the Oriole. While all the smaller birds 
have their quarrels, it is not probaljle that many of them 
seriously molest other s})ecies, 


All the common snakes, except, perhaps, the little green 
snake, eat birds and eggs. Birds exhibit great dread of 
snakes, but the Brown Thrasher or the Catbird will attack 
them bravely in defence of their young. Some birds seem 
to be incapacitated by terror when a snake appears at the 
nest, and are rendered incapable of any effectual defence. 
The common l)lack snake is the greatest enemy the birds 
have among native Ophidians, for it climbs trees with the 
greatest ease, and is so swift that it is able to catch young 
birds when they first leave the nest ; and sometimes it strikes 
down an anxious parent. 


Large trout, bass, pickerel, or pike occasionally catch young 
birds that fall into the water, and young water birds while 
swimming are often in danger from them. Older birds learn 
to avoid the rush of the fish. I have seen a Grebe spring 
into the air to escape a pickerel that darted at its feet. 

With this brief glance at the reasons for the decrease of 
birds, and this enumeration of the natural enemies which 
serve to regulate the increase in the numbers of birds, we 
may now turn to the problem of bird protection. 


Chapter XIL 


The first and most ini})ortant step in bird protection to 
be taken b}^ the individual is to attract the birds about his 
home, and endeavor to increase tlieir numbers. Tlie farmer 
is especially well situated to do this. His garden, orchard, 
and fertile fields lie about his buildings ; and birds under 
protection naturally gather about the farm home. The 
dweller in a villao-e or a citv suburb is also well situated 
for bird protection, provided he can fence out the cat and 
suppress the Sparrow, for there the natural enemies that 
live in the woods are absent, and the gunner is shut out. 
Some of the most successful bird colonies have been estab- 
lished in city gardens. Birds about the home can be readily 
watched and protected at all seasons ; their habits, their 
wants, and their enemies can be observed and studied ; safe 
nesting places can l^e provided, and each colony thus estab- 
lished sends out annually many young birds to populate the 
surrounding region. This accomplished, with little expense 
and trouble, the farmer or gardener is the gainer, for birds 
are not now generally numerous enough to keep down the 
insects in our orchards, gardens, and fields, or to hold in 
check the weeds in our cultivated grounds. If, however, by 
furnishing extra food and nesting facilities, we can attract 
about our homes more 1)irds than the land normally sup- 
ports, and there maintain them, they will form a very effec- 
tive check on both weeds and insects. 

It may 1)e difficult for the individual to secure a perma- 
nent increase of migratory insectivorous birds on his farm- 
stead, for most of the young that are reared become victims 
of casualties during migration ; but he can increase the num- 
ber and size of the broods reared on his place, and thus aug- 
ment the summer bird population, and he can double the usual 
number of winter visitants found there. He mav do nuich 


better than this. Prof. C. F. Hodge has in three rears been 
able to shov/ an increase of three hundred per cent, in the 
native bird population of a city block. Whenever the best 
methods of attracting and protecting l)irds become gener- 
ally known and practised, a general increase of birds, and 
a consequent great benefit to the farmer, must result. 


He who is about to purchase a farm or a country place 
may, by keeping in mind the natural features which attract 
birds, secure a location perfectly adapted to their wants. 
Such a place should be so situated as to provide shelter 
from cold, northerly winds and storms. It must be well 
watered, and shoukl be provided with small patches of 
coniferous trees, and windbreaks of trees, shrubs, and vines. 
Large groves of pines or other conifers are not particularly 
desirable, as they provide nesting })laces for Crows, Jays, 
Hawks, and other enemies of small birds. It should have 
a great diversity of vegetation, including a variety of fruit- 
bearing plants. A portion of the land should be Mooded. 
If there are too many trees, they may be cut in much less 
time than it takes to grow them ; and those trees, shrubs, 
and vines that are especially attractive to birds may be left. 
It is well to leave some dead trees or dead limbs in which 
the Woodpeckers can breed, for, unless these birds can be 
induced to nest al^out the farm, the trees will sutler from 
many insidious insect foes. 

He who already owns a farm -will usually have little diffi- 
culty in making it a paradise for birds, but he may find 
it more troublesome to protect them from their enemies. 
Those who have groves of large white oaks are fortunate in- 
deed, for it takes many years to grow these fine trees. The 
acorns are sought by birds and squu-rels, and the trees sup- 
port thousands of insects which are eaten by such useful 
birds as the Blue Jay, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Gros- 
beak, and Baltimore Oriole. The white or gray birch is 
another important tree, for many birds feed on insects which 
infest it in spring, summer, or autunm, and others feed on 
its seeds in winter. The common gray alder has seeds 



which birds eat in winter. The elms ripen their seeds 
early, thus providing bird food in June, while their branches 
furnish favorite nesting places for Robins, Orioles, and 
Vireos. The spanworms which infest these trees are sought 
by nearly all small land birds. The maples are favorite 

nesting trees, and 
their seeds, which 
sometimes remain 
on the trees, form a 
staple article of food 
for the Pine Gros- 
l)eak. The seeds 
of the ash are eaten 
by Grosl)eaks and 
Purple Finches. 
Among the conifer- 
ous trees none are 
more attractive to 
certain birds than 
the white pine, the pitch pine, and the larch or hackmatack. 
The first two ofier insect food to many Warblers ; their cones 
and shoots are utilized by birds and squirrels in winter. The 
spruces and hemlocks also have their following among the 
birds. These conifers are valuable for the shelter they pro- 
vide in Avinter to all birds, from Owls to Sparrows. 

There are numerous fruit-bearing trees, shrubs, and vines 
that are essential to bird welfare. Tn the present state of 
our knowledge of bird food it would not be difficult to name 
most of these plants, giving with each a i)rovisi()nal list of 
the liirds that feed upon it ; but it will be sufficient for the 
present purpose to give merely a list of the plants, indicat- 
ing by an asterisk which are among the most important as 
furnishing food for a large number of l)irds. 

Fig. 157. — Seed catkins of the gray bii-cli, 

A LisI of Fruil-hcarimj Trecf^, Shrz/b.-t, (mil Vines fimiishi in/ Food/or 

Wild sarsapai-illa, ..... Aralia iiudicaulis. 

* American mountain asli, .... Sorb/is Americana. 

* European mountain ash, .... Sorbus Ancuparia. 

* Staghorn sumac, ...... Rhus hirla. 




Jiim; lU'i-ry. Grouiiil .Tuiii|u'r. 

PLATE XXXVIII. — Fruits that are valuable as Bird Food. 


* Smooth sumac, .... Rhus glabra. 
Poison sumac, poison dogwood, . Rhus Vcrnix. 
Poison ivy, ..... Rhus radicans. 

* RasiJberries, tliimbleberries, and 

blaclvberries, .... Rubus. 

(All sijecies are eaten by birds.) 
Wild or dwarf rose, . . . Rosa humilis. 

(The hi2)s of other species are jji-oljalily eaten.) 
Red-berried elder, red elder, . . Sambucus pubens. 

* American elder, sweet elder, black 

elder, ...... Sambucus Canadensis. 

Sweet gum, ..... Liquidambar Stijraciflua. 

Wild gooseberries and currants, . Ribes. 

(All species.) 

Moonseed, Canada nioonseed, . . Menispermum Canadense. 

* Virginia creeper, — woodbine, . Parthenocissus quinquefolia. 
Wild grapes, ..... Vitis. 

(All species.) 
Probably all the thorn trees (Crata'gus), including the English haw- 
thorn (^Crakegus OxyacanUia). 
Sassafras, ..... Sassafras Sassafras. 

* Red muUjerry, .... Morus rubra. 

* Russian mulberry, .... Morus alba, var. Tatarica. 

* Hackberry, nettle tree or sugar berry, Cellis occidcntalis. 
American holly, .... Ilex ojjaca. 

* Wintei'berry, black alder, . . Ilex verticillata. 

(Probably other species of holly (Ilex) are also eaten.) 
Climbing bittersweet, stafftree, wax- 
work, ...... Celastrus scandens. 

* Bayberry (wax myrtle), . . . Myrka CaroUuensis. 

* Barberry, common (European), . Berber is vulgaris. 

* Shad bush, June berry, . . . Amelanchier Catiadensis. 
Red chokeberry, .... Aronia arbutifolia. 

(Probably the black chokeberry is also eaten.) 
Beach plum, ..... Prunus maritima. 

(And probably other plums.) 
Wild red cherry, bird cherry, . . Prunus Pennsylvanica. 

Sand cherry, ..... Prunus piumila. 

* Black cherr\', rum cherry, . . Primus serotina. 

* Choke chei-ry, ..... Primus Virginiana. 
Withe-rod, ..... Viburnum nudum. 
Sweet viburnum, Nannj' plum, sheep 

berry, . . . . . . Viburnum, Lentago. 

Cranberry' tree, .... Viburmiin Opulus.^ 

* Probably the berries of the arrowwoods of this genus are also eaten by birds. 


* Greenbrier, catbrier, bullbrier, . Srnilax rotundifoUa. 
Spice bush, fever )jush, . . . Benzoin Benzoin-. 

* Blueberries and huckleberries, . Vaceiniuin. and (Taijlussacia. 

(Nearly all species eaten.) 

Cranberry, ..... Oxycoceus macrocarpus. 

Dwarf cranberry, .... Oxycoceus Oxycoceus. 

Crowberry, ..... Corema Conradii. 

Bearberry, ..... Arctostnphylos Uva-Ursi. 

* Tupelo, sour gum, pejjperidge, . Nyssa sylvalica. 

* Flowering dogwood, . . . Gornus florida. 

* Red osier, dogwood, . . . Cornus stolonifcra. 

* Alternate-leaved cornel, green osier, 

dogwood, ..... Cornus alter nif alia. 
(The berries of other sj^ecies of cornel are probably eaten.) 

Partridge berry, .... Mitchella repens. 

* Red cedar, savin, .... Junipernis Virginiana. 
Common juniper, ground juniper, . Juniperus nana. 

This list prol)al)ly does not include all the native trees, 
shrubs, and vines that bear a more or less pulpy fruit and 
contribute largely to the sustenance of birds, but it is be- 
lieved that it comprises those of most importance, with the 
addition of a few valuable introduced species. 

There are many trees, not named in the above list, that 
attract a few birds. The willows, for example, are fre- 
quented by certain Warblers. Among the shrubs, the fruit 
of the burning bush {Euonijmns atropurpureus) is sought 
by some birds. The berries of the nightshade (tSoIanum 
iiigruin), though believed to be })oisonous, are eaten by 
birds. The i)okeweed {PJii/tolacca decandra) furnishes a 
fruit which, though it is believed to have poisonous prop- 
erties, is eaten hy very many birds. 

Those fruit-bearing plants which retain their fruit in win- 
ter are of great importance. Such plants enal)le many birds 
to exist through our winter storms. The bayberry is among 
the most valuable of the low-growing shrubs. Nearly all 
the winter birds, from the Kinglet to the Crow, eat these 
berries. Where the bushes are not covered with snow, the 
supply at Wareham usually becomes exhausted in February, 
after which the ^Myrtle Warblers and many of the winter 
Sparrows disai)pear. The l)ayberry bushes, being low, are 
sometimes covered with the driftinsf snow, and then the 



birds must seek their food from larger and liigher shrubs, 
trees, and vines. The mountain ash, bhick alder, and red 
cedar are favorite fruiting trees in winter ; while among 
shrubs, barberry and sumac are much sought. 

Fortunately, many of the trees or shrubs which furnish 
food and shelter for birds are suitable for use in the ornamen- 
tation of grounds. 
Hedges may be made 
of holly or hawthorn. 
The red cedar and 
other coniferous trees 
are highly ornamen- 
tal. Elm, maple, and 
ash trees are all in 
demand for shade. 
Some of the shrubs 
may be used as bor- 
ders for drives or 
massed to hide defects 
in the landscape. The 
Virginia creeper may be utilized in place of the imported ivy 
vines. Many of the plants in our list may be emplo3'ed in 
forming tangles along stone walls, about rocky eminences, or 
on the borders of swamps or ponds. Such tangles, overgrown 
by smilax or other vines, form safe retreats for small birds 
when pursued by Hawks, and furnish secure nesting places. 
They also provide sheltered retreats for the winter birds. 

Pig. 158. — Fruit of the Virginia juniper or 
red cedar. 

Feeding and Assembling the Winter Birds. 

The results of assembling the Avinter birds about the 
farm and orchard are of the utmost value to the farmer. 
Prof. H. A. Surface, State Zoologist of Pennsylvania, writes 
that a ]VIr. Mann, a well-known pear grower of Rochester, 
X. Y., told him that one year the pear tree psylla had de- 
stro3^ed his entire pear crop, and that he thought there were 
no prospects of a crop the following year ; but Nuthatches 
came and worked " in flocks " in his orchard all winter, and 
in the spring he could find hardly an insect. Thus these 
Nuthatches saved him thousands of dollars in one winter. 


We may properly include under the head of winter feeding 
the provision of food for such land l)irds as migrate through 
New England in late fall, winter, or earl}^ spring, and those 
that are resident in winter. At that season the farmer is 
likel}^ to have more time to attend to birds than in sunmier, 
and in the colder months they most need our help. No doubt 
thousands of birds, that might have been saved with very 
little troulile on the farmer's part, have been starved in hard 

We may expect to be visited in autumn by Rolnns and 
other migrating Thrushes, some of which, in favorable sea- 
sons, may remain through the winter. To keep such birds 
in winter we must have sheltering evergreens, and vines, 
shrubs, and trees which retain their fruit. The berries of 
the Virginia creeper are especially acceptable to Tlirushes. 

It is very desirable to keep with us as long as possible 
the many species of Sparrows which pass through the coun- 
try on their way south in ftill, and to persuade as many as 
we may to remain tlii'ough the winter. Careless husbandry 
tends to bring these birds about in spring and fall, when 
they gather to feed on weed seeds in neglected gardens and 
fields ; but, if we wish to have them continue this good work 
all through the winter and spring, they must be provided 
with food, under shelter, to which they can resort during 
snowstorms and afterward, while the snow lies deep or when 
all vegetation is covered with a coating of ice from the driv- 
ing sleet or freezing rain. The Sparrows seem to prefer, as 
a place of refuge from their enemies, the shelter afforded b}'^ 
thickets and tangles of deciduous bushes and vines, such as 
may sometimes be found on the south side of a hill near the 
edge of a swamp. A few brush })iles will give them addi- 
tional shelter. A little chaff scattered in the dooryard will 
bring them about the house whenever a flurry of snow covers 
the ground. Where there are scratching sheds for poultry, 
with the south side of each shed o})en except for its screen 
of poultry netting, the birds will And shelter and food on 
cold and stormy mornings. Birds readily pass through or- 
dinary two-inch mesh poultry netting, and when once in the 
shed they are safe from the attacks of cats and Hawks. AVhere 

PLATE XXXIX. — A Bountiful Repast. Juucos ami a Tree SpaiTuw picking 
up seed from the sikjw beneath author's window. 


there are no cats, any shed near the house, and opening toward 
the south, will be a good feeding place for birds. They will 
go there to feed when snow lies deep on the ground. At 
other times they will feed mostly in weed thickets, lields, 
and gardens. 

There are so many kinds of seeds that are relished by 
birds that there will be no difficulty in furnishing them a 
liberal supply of food when they need it. The farmer will 
find on his barn floors chaflf mixed with enough seed to feed 
a large flock of birds through the entire winter. This should 
be gathered from the leavings of the latest cut first crop of 
hay, for there will be less matured seed of any kind in the 
early cut hay. Those who wish to provide more attractive 
food have their choice of the various seeds sold at the bird 
stores. Farmers often grow sunflowers for the fowls. These 
will attract Goldfinches ; sunflower heads or detached seeds 
make a good winter food for birds. It is a good plan to give 
one or more of the children a small patch of land near the 
house, on which to raise Japanese millet. If sown broad- 
cast on rich, moist soil, it will grow from five to seven feet 
in height, and the large seed heads will supply an immense 
({uantity of seed. It takes but three or four square rods of 
land to produce all the seed one will need for birds, for a 
bushel or two ought to suffice for an ordinary winter. 

Winter is the time, if ever, to feed the Jays and Crows. 
If they do not molest the smaller birds they can do little 
harai, and they may do much good. Hang up a choice bit 
of carrion in the orchard or in the edge of the woods. It 
should be seven or eight feet from the ground, so as to be 
out of the reach of dogs or foxes. The skinned carcass of a 
fox or a cat will do very well. It should be so placed that 
the Crows can find no convenient roost within easy reach 
of it. It will then last the longer, and keep more of them 
from starvation. When the snow is deep they can resort to 
it one or two at a time, and when patches of ground become 
bare they will hunt meadow mice and dormant insects in the 
fields and thickets. B}' feeding them you may prevent their 
eating all the bayberries and other berries on which some of 
the smaller birds depend for food. Ja3'S are also of great 



benefit to the orchard, by eating the eggs of the tent cater- 
pillar moth. 

Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, and Chickadees are all attracted 
by animal food. J uncos and Tree Sparrows acquire a taste 
for it during deep snows, when their usual food is buried. 
Unsalted ])ones, with meat, fat, or marrow attached, beef or 

Pig. 159. 

Downy Woodpecker feeding on suet at the author's window. (From Bird- 

mutton tallow, fat, or suet may all be used for this purpose. 
Beef bones from the market, hung upon or wired to the or- 
chard trees, will furnish food for these birds. Some bones 
should be split, to expose the contents. Fat or suet will give 
the needed animal heat on which birds must rely during cold, 
stormy weather. Pork rind, even, may be used; but salt 
meat is believed to be bad food for l)irds, although some will 
eat it, and Crossbills appear to be very fond of it. If a bird 
can get food enough, it can withstand very cold weather ; but 
if it starves, it soon freezes. Bones or suet should be put 

PLATE XLI. — Chickadee seen through W^indow, at Author's Home. 

PLATE XLIL — Chickadees on Pork Rind. (TliotoiiTaph by 
A. ('. Dike.) 

PLATE XLIII. — Ernest Harold Baynes taming a 

PLATE XLIV. — Chickadee feeding from 
the Hand. ( Photoiiraph by A. C. Dike. ) 



out in October or early in Xovember. It i.s important to 
begin early, so that the birds may form a habit of coming 
to the food before winter comes on. It should be renewed 
occasionalh" luitil 
late in spring. 
This will keep 
birds about the 
orchard all win- 
ter, where they 
will spend most 
of the time in 
hunting for the 
eggs and other 
forms of insects. 
Food should be 
put u}) on or near 
those trees Avliich 
are known to 
be infested by 

Chickadees and 
Nuthatches are 
remarkably un- 
suspicious, and 
any one who cares 
to spend a little 
time in the effort 
may readily teach 
them to eat from 
the hand. Sev- 
eral other species 
may be enticed to 
our windows, where their habits and manners nia}^ be studied 
in comfort even in the most ])lusterinff winter weather. AVe 
accomplished this as follows : small shrubs or branches of 
trees were fastened upright on each Avindow sill, extending 
over the entire window, and fastened at each side to the 
window frame, as shown in Fig. 159. To these branches 
pieces of meat were attached, about a foot apart. The suet 

Fig. 160.- 

-The Ijirds' Christmas tree at the author's farm- 
house. (From Bird-Lore.) 



should -be wound on ISrmly with string or wrapped in Avire 
netting, so that it cannot be carried oft* bodil3^ At first the 
l)irds would come only one at a time, but when they became 
accustomed to this method of feeding, four or five birds Avould 
feed together at a window. Chickadees usually came first, 
Nuthatches and Downy Woodpeckers next, and Blue Jays 

While these birds were being enticed to the windows, the 
Sparrows were fed with seeds and crumbs throAvn out upon 

the snow. Next, a 
shelf or table four and 
one-half feet long and 
two feet wide was made 
of rough box boards. 
Tills was bound round 
with a narrow cleat and 
covered with Imrlap, 
to prevent seeds and 
crumbs from blowing 
oft'. A little pine tree 
was next set up in the 
centre of the food table, 
the table or shelf was 
fastened luider a win- 
dow sill on the south 
side of the house, vari- 
ous food materials were 
attached to the tree and 
spread upon the table, and the " birds' Christmas tree '" was 

The Chickadees came to it at once, and the first snow- 
storm brought the native Sparrows, At first there was quar- 
reling among them, as all wanted to feed at once, and both 
tree and tal)le were small ; but necessity finally brought about 
more amicable relations, and at last many birds of dift'crent 
species would feed together. At first the Sparrows were 
shy, and flew off at the first movement made by any one 
inside. Later, one could sit by the window and see perhaps 
eight or ten birds of three or four species busily feeding, a 

Fig. 161.— The birds' tepee. (From IJird-Lore.) 

PLATE XLV. — Chickadees seen on a Frosty Morning, through Author's 


PLATE XLVL— A Red-breasted Nuthatch at the 
Window. (Photuiiraph, from life, liy V. Allan 



few feet away. Quick motions on tlie part of the observer 
should be avoided. If the birds are sliy, a lace sash curtain 
may be put up. They cannot see through this, and may be 
watched at leisure. 

We have fed the birds in this way for years. A flock of 
Juncos and Tree Sparrows and two Fox Sparrows remained 
about our house through the hard wnnter of 1903-04. Many 
Jays came to the trees near by, and some to the windows. 
Crows came within twent}'^ yards of the house. Mj^rtle 
Warblers occasionally came to the windows. Downy Wood- 
peckers, two species of Nuthatches, Flickers, Creepers, 
Kinglets, Crossbills, 
Robins, Grouse, Quail, 
and Pheasants were seen 
about the house from time 
to time. A large dry 
goods box in which grain 
and chaflf were scattered 
was set out on the north 
side of the house. This 
box was open only on the 
south side. The Quail 
and Pheasants soon found 
it. Then it was moved 
daily a little nearer the 
house, until the birds had 
learned to feed about the 



Board lo'lonq b/6'hiqh 

Fi^. 162. — Design for a Sparrow-proof shelf. 
(From Bird-Lore.) 

door-yard. 1 The presence of so many birds gave a healthy 
stimulus to observation, and served to break the monotony 
of winter isolation on the farm. AVhile in the bleaker por- 
tions of the State it may not be possible to assemble so 
many, some may be attracted anywhere. 

Even our city friends who try this plan need not despair 
of seeing, now and then, besides the ubiquitous Sparrow, 
some of the wild birds of field and w^oodland. In many lo- 

* It is of the utmost importance to provide food and shelter for Quail in winter. 
An old hox or barrel, a shelter of rails in a fence comer, or a " birds' tepee " of 
bean poles, any one of which is kept .supplied with a little grain, may carry 
through a severe winter Quail enough to stock a whole township by their increase. 


calities the vswarming House Sparrows will come to the feast 
and drive the native birds away. A hinged shelf (Fig. 1(52) 
supported by a light spring, which has been designed hy a 
contril)utor to Bu^d-Lore, is believed to be Sparrow-proof. 

This method of feeding gives an opportunity to see what 
foods are selected by wild birds Avhen given their choice. 
It is interesting to note that the birds at our windows have 
not learned to eat bread except in the shape of fine crumbs. 
When birds learn that bread is good, they will eat it from 
the loaf. jNIany kinds of food may be utilized ; doughnuts, 
frozen milk, pork rind, nuts, and seeds all find favor with 
the birds. Jays prefer chestnuts and corn. Sand and coal 
cinders g-ive birds the wherewithal to o-rind their food when 
snow covers the usual supply of material on the ground. 

Every family living in the country in winter needs the 
pleasure and community of interest to be had in thus cater- 
ing: to the wants of the birds. Each farmhouse should have 
at least one window shelf for them. We should teach the 
children to feed them and watch for them. Thus we may 
benefit both child and bird, and gain pleasure and profit for 

Attracting the Summer Birds. 

The term " summer birds " may be defined as including 
all summer residents, or those birds Avhich remain through 
the summer to breed. In winter we have only to olfer food 
to the birds to attract them ; shelter and protection Avill 
retain them ; but in summer birds must have food, water, 
protection, and a home. Food in quantities they always 
need, especially when engaged in rearing their young. 
Nature provides this in summer, but we may helj) them 
even then by putting out favorite foods. The supply of 
suet should be kept up until hot weather, and it is better 
to continue it all summer, for its presence may decide some 
of the resident l)irds to remain and nest near the house or 
in the orchard. The male Chickadee will take suet to feed 
to his sitting mate, and the parent birds will take it for a 
part of their own food while feeding their young mainl}' on 

If we wish to attract useful birds to the o;arden, it is well 


to begin to feed birds when they are niigratino; in April, 
by scattering a little cracked corn, oats, wheat, barley, or 
millet seed in the yard near the garden or along the garden 
paths. This may attract Sparrows, Thrashers, and Black- 
birds, some of which may decide to remain in the vicinity 
for the summer. These birds and the Robins and Catbirds 
will make themselves useful by feeding on insects at plowing 

Birds will drink and bathe even in winter, when they can 
find water ; but in summer they must have water for both 
purposes. When the streams are frozen, snow takes the 
place of water; but in summer, if water is not at hand, 
birds must get it by drinking dew and by eating fruits or 
succulent green vegetation. Where there is running water 
about the house or garden, they may do very well without 
further provision for their needs ; but it is best in any case 
to arrange a place where they can drink and bathe without 
being exposed to the attacks of cats and Hawks. A shallow 
pan set on the window shelf or on the top of a post on the 
shady side of the house, some four or five feet from the 
ground, will answer e\evy purpose. X shelving stone may 
be put in, to give a varying depth of water in different parts 
of the pan. The water should not be more than two inches 
deep anywhere, and not more than half an inch deep on one 
side of the pan. If this is put out in the spring, and the 
birds become accustomed to visiting it, they will require less 
fruit than usual. The water should be changed every day. 
This pan will be a source of enjoyment to the household 
durinsf the noontime, when all mav watch the birds bathe 
and splash the water about. AVhere there is running water 
a drinking fountain may easily be arranged. This may be 
placed on the lawn, slightly elevated, and supplied from a 
drip ; such a fountain should need little attention. Orna- 
mental fountains and watering troughs are often so deep 
that there is no chance for birds to drink or bathe. There 
should always l)e shallow water somewhere. INIost orna- 
mental ponds have no provision for birds. The water is too 
deep or the coping too high. In such cases a large stone 
with a surface shelving into and just beneath the water, or 



a shallow floating basin, provided with a wide wooden rim 

to keep it afloat, may be used. 

There are usually springs or brooks about the farm, where 

birds can drink or bathe ; but too often the long grass or 

low bushes about these 
drinking places conceal 
the crafty cat, which lies 
in wait to catch birds 
when their feathers are 
wet from bathing. A 
fountain on the closely 
cropped lawn, like the 
one designed by Mr. 
Chapman, is admirable 
if cats can be ke})t from 

W hen the c h e r vy 
trees are in blossom 
the Hummingbirds 
come. There should 
be a succession of 
nectar-bearing flowers 
in the garden, to at- 
tract them. The gla- 

diolus, honeysuckle, and bee balm are favorite flowers, but 

many others lure the Hummingbirds. 

Providing Nesting Places about Buildings. 

When the tide of bird life begins to turn northward in the 
spring, and before farm work becomes pressing, we should 
see that plenty of suitable nesting places are provided about 
our buildings for the birds, and that there is an aluindant 
supply of nesting material with which they can c(jnstruct 
their homes. 

Birds, like men, are lai"gely controlled by circumstances. 
The presence or absence of a nesting j)lace may decide a pair 
of birds for or against the acceptance of a certain localit}' as 
a place of residence. 

In the rouiih buildings of our grandftithers there were 

Fig. 163. — iNFr. Cliapinan's bird bath. 



always openings left for the birds to enter. The rafters 
were round or rough-hewn timbers, on which they could 
find points of attachment for their nests. Most barns now 
built are closely boarded and battened, clapboarded or 
shingled to the ground. Xo entrance hole is left for the 
birds. The timl>ers are sawn so snioothly that the birds, 
if they get in, can find no safe attachment for their nests. 
Even where the eaves project so as to give sufficient shelter 
for Swallows, the mud with which they build their nests 
will not stick to the planed and painted boards. 

Let every farmer having such a barn cut an ornamental 
opening at least a foot wide in each gable, leaving it open 
all summer, so that the Swallows may fly in ; or, better still, 
cut an opening three or four feet long over the barn door, 
through which Swallows can go at will. Let him nail rough 
cleats horizontally on some of the rafters, or put up little 
bracket shelves thereon ; and let each farmer having a barn 
with wide, projecting eaves put up a long shelf, cleat, or 
joist on the side of the barn within a foot of the eaves, for 
the Eaves Swallows ; and we may in time have more Swal- 
lows than ever before, provided care is taken to shoot ma- 
rauding English Sparrows. If we had more Swallows and 
Phcebes we should have fewer flies, mosquitoes, and garden 

The Chimney Swifts have been driven away by the con- 
struction of modern chimneys, and destroyed by unseason- 
able storms. They still nest in the large chimneys of the 
older houses. A box made of boards planed on the out- 
side may be built of the size and shape of an old-fashioned 
chimney, with similar divisions, and firmly fastened upon 
the roof of a building, to attract the Swifts. It is not nec- 
essary that it be high, or even that it be upon the top of a 
building ; but it should be out of reach of cats. Possibly a 
few thin, wooden cleats nailed horizontally inside will assist 
the birds. By means of a door in such a structure, and an 
arrangement of mirrors, the habits of these interesting birds 
may be studied. 

The Phoebe prefers a roof over its head, such as is some- 
times furnished by the upturned roots of a large tree, a 


bridge, barn, shed, or unoccupied house. It will occupy 

almost any shed, l)arn, or barn cellar near a pond or stream, 

but its nest is sometimes broken down for lack of a proper 

support. A box like that in Fig. 1(>4 Avill be acceptable to 

the Phcjebe if nailed up to the })late or rafters of a low shed. 

If the shed is closed, an opening 

\^nV\v^x\— k^ On should always be left for the birds. 

An open window, with a few bars 

across it to keep out cats and human 

intruders, is all that is necessary. 

Phoebes sometimes build on a shelf 

under iiroiecting eaves. They par- 
Fig. 164.— Phoebe's nest luiwx. 1 »' o .,1 

ticularly like a rough stone build- 
ing. Robins will often build in rough boxes or trays, or on 
shelves put up under eaves or piazzas, in arbors or even in 

Having provided nesting places for all the birds that may 
be induced to nest within our buildings, we may next turn 
our attention to making nesting boxes. 

Bird Houses and Nesting Boxes. 

Since the use of the axe and saw in woodland and orchard 
has deprived many birds of their natural nesting places in 
hollow trees or limbs, there is no better way of providing for 
an increase of the numbers of such l:)irds than by furnishing 
them with artificial buikling sites. Bluebirds found drowned 
in cisterns, Owls, Flickers, and Wood Ducks found dead in 
the stove pipes of unoccupied buildings, all show the straits 
to which birds are now driven in the search for a nesting site. 
All apertures that l(>ad to such death-traps should be closed, 
and a plentiful sup})ly of artificial breeding places should be 

What more interesting occupation can there be for the 
children on the farm than that of pi-eparing nesting boxes 
for the l)irds? This is the surest way of increasing the 
summer bird population, for birds do not lack food in sum- 
mer so much as safe nesting })laces in which to rear their 

Unfortunately, however, a great obstacle to success with 



native birds is found in all cities and most villaofes of the 
State. The introduced House or " English " Sparrow comes 
first, and occupies the boxes. The Sparrow will nest in all 
boxes except those that are suspended by a wire or rope. 
Bluebirds and Tree Swallows will sometimes occupy such 
Sparrow-proof boxes ; but the farmer 
need not use them, for he can keep 
his place clear of Sparrows by a 
vigorous use of the shotgun, and 
by putting up nesting boxes he may 
bring back the native birds. There 
are many localities where the Spar- 
row has never been very troublesome, 
and where native birds have contin- 
ued to breed practically unmolested. 
In such places we may put up fixed 
bird houses, with the confident ex- 
pectation that Tree Swallows or 
Bluebirds will nest in them, which is 
more than can be said of the swino-ino- 
boxes. Nevertheless, where Spar- 
rows are very troublesome, the only Fig. i65.— spanowproofbox, 
bird box that is practical is one that ''"°^ ^'■' '"'*'■ 

is hung b}^ wire. Sparrows seem to be afraid of any box or 
perch that is not firmly fastened. 

Wrens are not generally common, and the Purple Martins 
were so decimated by the storms of June, 1903, that people 
who can establish Martin colonies Avill be fortunate indeed ; 
but the Flicker, the Chickadee, and the Screech Owl are 
among the possibilities, while we may by chance attract the 
White-breasted Nuthatch, Crested Flycatcher, or little Saw- 
whet Owl. 

Let no one neglect to put up bird houses because of the 
expense. No money need be expended. Birds are not very 
fastidious about their quarters. Old, weather-beaten lumber 
seems to be more attracti\'e to them than that which is newly 
planed or painted, probably because it resembles in appear- 
ance the weathered stumps or limbs in which they naturally 
find their homes. Very acceptable nesting boxes may be 


made from a hollow limb sawed in sections, with tops and 
bottoms made of an old ))oard, and a hole bored in each 
section for an entrance. 

Artistic imitations of hollow limbs may be made of papier- 
mache, but this involves some expense. The best imitations 
of a hollow log that I have seen were constructed of the 
bark and wood of a sound tree. In Bird-Lore for January- 
February, 1905, and in the Youth's Companion of April 13, 
1905, I described the method of making these boxes, but 
at that time they were untried. They have since had two 
seasons' trial, with very satisfactory results. To Mr. William 
Brewster belongs the credit of their invention, and I have 
made a considerable number after his design. White birch 
and chestnut were used, as it was believed that the bark of 
these trees would be most durable, but Mr. Brewster noAV 
suggests that elm bark is probably best of all. Those por- 
tions of the trunks used were from four to eight inches in 
diameter. The boxes were made in summer, as the bark 
will not usually peel well before about June 20, and then 
only for a short time. When the tree had been cut down, the 
trunk was sawed into sections from ten to eighteen inches 
long, according to the size of the boxes desired. Only straight 
sections, free from knots or branches, were used. A branch 
of the right size, however, may, when cut otf, leave a hole 
in the bark that can be utilized as an entrance for the l)irds. 

These domiciles may be made as follows : an incision is 
made on the side intended for the back of the box, through 
both outer and inner bark, from the top to the bottom of each 
section ; then, on the opposite side, some two or three inches 
from the top, bore through the bark, with an auger or ex- 
tcnsion-l)it, a hole of the size desired for the entrance. If 
such tools are not at hand, the aperture may lie cut with a 
gouge, a chisel, or even a knife. Next insert a wedge-shaj)ed 
stick into the incision at the back and under the inner bark, 
to start it otf, and with this imjilement peel it very carefully. 
In peeling birch, be careful not to se})arate the inner and 
outer layers of the bark. Be particularly cautious when 
working about knots or rough })laces. The bark will make 
the sides of the box, and two sections, each an inch thick, 

Fig. 1. 

Fig. 2. 

Fig. 3. 

Fig. 7. 

Fig. 8. 

Fig. 9. 

PLATE XLVII. — Bird Houses and Nesting Boxes. F\<r. 1. hollow liiiib iK'st- 
iiiji- box; Fisi-. 2. l)ircli l)ark bird house; Y'lg. o, sluli bird box; Fig. 4, cat-proof 
box; Fig.."), a use for au old funnel; Fiii'. (!. ehestuut-bark nesting box; Figs. 7 
and !», boxes witli s]U]v fronts; Fig. 8. house for Tree Swallow. 



sawed from the ends of the stick, will make the top and bot- 
tom. These must be reduced in size by a shave until the 
bark can be lapped fully half an inch at the incision on the 
back. Now tack the bark to the bottom and top. Such a 
box may be put up by nailing or screwing a short stick or 
pole over the lap on the back, which stick can 
in turn be nailed or screwed to the sup})()rt. 
To make the roof watertight, a piece of thin, 
green bark from a young pine maj^ be put on 
and tacked down over the edges. It will fit 
like soft leather, and make a neat appearance ; 
but experience has shown that it will not long 
resist the effect of sun and rain. A more per- 
manent covering may be made by using a piece 
of tin or zinc, as shown in the figure of the 
chestnut Ijark box (Plate XLVII, Fig. (>); or 
a roof may be made of birch bark, as shown in 
Plate XLVII, Fig. 2. To make the expected 
nest accessible to examination, the top of the 
bark sides might be fastened to a hoop, and 
the whole capped by a tin or wooden cover, like that of a 
lard pail or a berr}' box. The best support is a slim pole. 

Serviceable dwellings for birds ma}' be made of the shells 
of gourds. Seedsmen advertise the seed, and any one can 
grow gourds. Scjuashes, even, may be utilized. The hard- 
shelled, old-fashioned winter crook-neck would make a stout 
castle for a Bluel^ird or a Martin. 

Four old shingles and two pieces of old board will make 
a box like that shown in Fig. 167. This may be nailed up 
in a tall tree near the house, or on a building. It must be 
out of reach of cats, or the young are likely to be clawed out 
of the hole by these stealthy marauders. To checkmate the 
cat, a much deeper l)ox may be made, with a small, high- 
placed round hole for the entrance, and a sloping, overhang- 
ing roof, which helps to keep out both water and cats. (See 
Plate XLVII, Fig. 4.) There is another advantage in a 
box of this pattern. The young birds find it rather hard to 
get out of such a box at first. They have to make many 
attempts, and when they finally escape they are quite strong 

Fig. 166. — Birch- 
bark nesting box, 
for Chickadees. 



and less likely to be caught by cats, Crows, or snakes than 
they would be if reared in a box from which they could get 
out before they were fully fledged. 

For practical utility a nesting 1)ox should not only provide 
the birds with an acce})table nesting site, but it should also 
furnish thcni perfect protection from the elements and their 
larger enemies, and should be so made 
that the interior can be quickly examined 
and the contents removed, if necessary. 
The roof or cover should be hinged or 
made to take ofl', so that if any young 
bird fails to get out it may be liber- 
ated ; while if undesirable tenants, such 
as mice, Sparrows, or squirrels, get in, 
they may be ousted. The box is much 
more satisfactory as a protective device 
if made so strong that neither AVood- 
peckers nor squirrels can easily enlarge 
the entrance sufiiciently to allow ene- 
mies of the occupants to get in. All 
these essentials may be secured Avithout 
expense by using worn-out or discarded 
utensils or receptacles. 

An empty tomato can may in a few 
minutes be made into a nesting box by 
slitting the tin of the opened end twice 
and turning down the piece between the slits, thereby mak- 
ing a hole not over an inch wide and high. It can be })ut up 
very (juickly by placing the bottom of the can against a tree 
trunk and nailing it there with two wire nails driven diago- 
nally through the edge, or by fastening it to a piece of board 
or a pole, which can be attached to a tree or building. The 
cover may be kept in place l)v pinching the mouth of the can 
a little. The tomato can liox is shown in Plate XLVIII. 
This is a practical box for Wrens, and it may be used by 
Bluebirds if the entrance is made larger. 

When holes are cut through tin, the sharj) edges round the 
opening should be turned over with a })air of })liers, that the 
birds may not injure themselves in going in or out. Rusty 

Fig. 167- — Shingle box 
lor Bluebirds. 

PLATE XLVIII. — Inexpensive Nesting Boxes. Toiiiato c"Ui. Bluebird Ixjx, 
old teakettle, peach can, Owl box, and kerosene can. 

PLATE XLIX. — Chickadee about to enter its Nest, in an Old Varnish Can. 


or painted tin is best, for birds seem suspicious of bright 
surfaces. There should be a few nail holes in the lower side, 
to allow the escape of any water that may drive in. 

A large funnel may be nailed to a piece of board, and the 
board fastened on the side of the barn ; or the funnel itself 
may be fastened to the building. This may be used by a 
Wren or a Chickadee. (See Plate XL VII, Fig. 5.) An old 
coffee pot may be set upon a post, or fastened to a bracket 
which may be set against the side of a building. Milk cans, 
lard pails, flower pots, teakettles, and many other utensils 
may be utilized, and fastened up in various ways to trees or 
buildings ; and, although they may not be ornate, the lairds 
will find them useful. There should be no projection or limb 
immediately beneath a nesting box, to give cat or Crow a 
foothold from which to reach into the nest ; but it is always 
better to have a small limb or stick, as a perch, within a few 
feet, to serve as a rest for the parent birds. Small wooden 
boxes, such as may be found at the stores, if not over six l)y 
eight by fifteen inches, may be used. Those who have time 
and lumber to spare may make bird houses of any shape to 
suit their tastes ; but a few suggestions as to construction 
and situation will not l)e out of place. 

If one wishes to accommodate only a certain species of 
bird, the entrance to the nesting box should be made so small 
that no larger bird can enter. Boxes made on this principle 
for small birds will protect the eggs and young from Crows 
and Jays. A round hole one and one-fourth inches in di- 
ameter will do for either Wrens or Chickadees ; but a Wren 
can use a smaller opening, just the size of a silver twenty-five- 
cent piece, and such a doorway is small enough to keep out 
''English" Sparrows. The Chickadee can use a one and one- 
eighth inch hole, but some will not be content with one less 
than one and one-fourth inches in diameter. Bluebirds and 
Tree Swallows can pass through a one and one-half inch aper- 
ture. This is usually large enough, and will keep out Jays. 
The two-inch hole usually recommended is too large, for it 
will admit both Martins and squirrels. These entrances may 
be round, square, or oblong. If made oblong, the measure- 
ments given should be used horizontally, the vertical diame- 


ter being made a little larger. The Flicker will sometimes 
enter a knothole, only two and one-half inches in diameter, 
in an old apple tree ; but if so small an opening is made in 
a box put up for this l)ird, it may not use it. For a Flicker 
or a Screech Owl the entrance should be made at least three 
or three and one-half inches in diameter. 

In making boxes of the form illustrated as the cat-i)roof 
box (Plate XLVII, Fig. 4), the following inside dimensions 
are sufficient. Boxes for Wrens or Chickadees may be made 
twelve by four b}' five inches, with the entrance hole close 
to the top. They may be placed from six to twenty- five 
feet from the ground.^ A perch is not necessary. Boxes for 
Flickers are best if made from holloAV limbs or covered with 
bark. These birds do not need perches. If limbs with the 
bark on are used, they should be cut in late summer, autumn, 
or early winter, when the bark will adhere. A box for a 
Flicker may be eight by ten by fifteen inches, and should be 
placed from six to twenty-five feet up. A similar box twelve 
inches square and fifteen high would be am})le for a family 
of Screech Owls.^ A box twelve by five by six inches is 
ample for Swallows or Bluebirds, and should be placed from 
twelve to thirty feet from the ground. Swallows and Blue- 
birds like perches. The long diameter of the box should 
be from front to liack. The sitting bird will then face the 
entrance, — a good position for defence. A single tene- 
ment will accommodate a family of Martins, but a colony 
of these birds should be secured, if possible. 

Some writers have recommended putting up boxes with 
the entrance facing the east or north. This may be right in 

' The distances from the ground as given here are not arbitrary. I have kncmi 
the Chickadee, for instance, to nest at different heiglits, from two to fifty-tive 
feet from the ground. 

^ Tliis size of box is probably none too large for the Screech Owl, as three or 
four young birds .soon render the edges of the nest very filthy, and on this ac- 
count probably require extra room. Nevertheless, a pair of Screech Owls at our 
home in AVareham reared a lirood of four young in the grocery box sho\A'n in the 
upper figure on Plate XLVITI. AlloM'ing the birds to be the best judges of what 
they want, the dimensions of this box, seven by eleven by fifteen inches, and the 
size of the entrance, three by four inches, may be useful to those who wish to at- 
tract this bird. It was noted that during the daytime, at least, the mother Owl in 
tliis box always sat with her head away from the entrance, and in the darkest 
corner, — an incubating position sometimes assumed by the day birds that nest 
in boxes. 

PL-ATE L. — Owl Box, at Author's Home. The front has been removed, 
and the niotlier lifted to show the downy young. (Photograph, from 
life, by C. Allan Lyford.) 

PLATE LI. — Owl on Nest. This view, taken later, shows growth of youna:, 
and also feathers of Blue Jays killed by Owl. (Photograph, from life, by 
C. Allan Lyford.) 



Europe or west of the Rock}- Mountains, hut it is unsafe 
here, where our severest rainstorms come from the north- 
east. The entrance should face the south or west, wherever 
possible. It is also best to have boxes, especially tin ones, 
so situated that they will lie shaded by trees or buildings 

Fig. 168. — Chickadees feedins: their youiia: in an observation box at the author's 
window. (From Reed's American Ornitlioloj,'y.) 

during the hotter part of the day. By these precautions 
we may guard against the danger of having the young birds 
wet and chilled by cold storms or overheated by the sun. 
In very hot weather young birds in unshaded boxes some- 
times die from excessive heat. 

Those who wish to study the domestic affairs of birds may 
construct an observation box with a door on one side, back 
of which a pane of glass is set. Such a bird house may be 
set up on a window sill, so that by opening the door the feed- 
ing and care of the young birds may be watched through the 



glass. I have often thus watched Bluebirds and Chickadees 
feeding their young. 

Tlius far it has been my intention to show how expense may 
be avoided in the construction of nesting boxes. Neverthe- 
less, expensive ornamental bird houses add to the attractive- 
ness of a country home, and may be displayed where old tin 

cans and cheap boxes 
would l)e out of place. 
In building such bird 
houses the best plan is 
to imitate the design 
of some dwelling. A 
pretty cottage or a 
country villa may be 
constructed in minia- 
ture. The large bird 
houses sometimes made 
are highly ornamental ; 
but most of our native 
species are not social in 
their nesting habits, and 
when a large house is }iut up it is likely to be occupied either 
by a single pair of birds or by Purple Martins or House 
Sparrows. Such houses are sometimes occupied by both 
Martins and Sparrows, but in such cases the Sparrows usu- 
ally in the end drive out the Martins. If the Sparrows can be 
driven away, there is no l)ird that can be so readily increased 
in numbers by putting up nesting boxes as can the Purple 
Martin. AVhen once a colony of Martins becomes estab- 
lished, it will in a few years fill several large bird houses 
with its increase. The experience of Mr. J. Warren Jacobs, 
who established a large colony, illustrates this.' A few ]\Iar- 
tins are returning to some of their old homes in this State ; 
they should be encouraged. The houses should be cither 
taken down in fall and not put up until the Martins return 
in spring, or the entrances to the rooms should be closed up 
until spring, that the Sparrows may have no opjiortunity to 
get in before the Martins return. Were the Sparrows de- 

^ The Story of a Martin Colony, by J. Warren Jacobs, Waynesburg, Pa. 

Fig-. 169. — A Martin box. 


stroyed and more Martin boxes put up, we might have, in 
time, more Martins than ever.i A house for a large ]Martin 
colony ordinarily involves the expenditure of a considerable 
sum ; but a very good house, that will accommodate a colony 
of ordinary size, ma}^ be made from a flour barrel. The roof 
is of zinc, or of wood covered with painted canvas. The 
Martin house should be placed on a pole at least fifteen to 
twenty feet high. It should have sev- 
eral large rooms, with entrances two to 
three inches in diameter, that it may 
provide room enough for several })airs 
of birds, and that each tenement may be 
readily inspected and cleaned when nec- 
essary, and the whole house should be 
painted in light colors, that the young 
birds may not suffer too much from the 
rays of the hot sun. It should be so 
constructed that the young birds may 
not be readily crowded out of the nest, 
and so become the prey of cats. Such a Fig. 170.- a Martin 
catastrophe mav be guarded against by barrel, 

having a shelf or piazza extending round the house beneath 
each tier of doorways, and constructing a railing at least 
three inches high round the platform. Each of these plat- 
forms should have a slight downward pitch, to carry off the 
rain and prevent it from driving into the doorways below. 
There should be no brackets beneath the box, for they afford 
the cat a foothold. Manv other desio^ns will suoforost them- 
selves. A barrel might l)e covered and roofed with bark and 
the railings made of twigs. In fitting up the rooms, a square 
box should first be made, to go up the center of the barrel. 

^ An attempt might be made to establish the Martins by bringing here in the 
night from other States bird houses occupied by Martins, young and old, and 
setting them up on poles prepared for them in suitable localities here. There is 
reason to believe that such introductions would succeed if carefully conducted 
when the young had made about half their growth. One successful attempt is 
on record. There is a plentiful supply of food here for Swallows and Martins. 
The increase of mosquitoes and flies in many localities since the summer of 190.3, 
when so many of these birds were destroyed, has attracted wide attention. The 
reinstatement of the Martins is an important matter, which should engage the 
attention of the State Board of Agriculture. 


All the rooms will be backed by this, and the pole will go 
into it. The pole may be made to go into a socket in the 
ground, and then both pole and house may be taken, down 
in the fall and kept under shelter until the Martins return in 
the spring ; or, if the pole is hinged near the bottom, the 
l)ox may be still more readily taken indoors. This will 
prevent the Sparrows from intrenching themselves within. 
If a cedar pole is used, the bottom should be well tarred 
wherever it comes in contact with the ground. It should 
be set deep in the ground to give it the requisite firmness. 
If the nests of Martins are dusted occasionally with fresh 
insect powder, it will relieve them of the vermin which 
always congregate in large, occui)ied bird houses. 

Furnishing Nesting Material. 

An abundance of suitable and easilv accessible nesting 
material may chiefly influence some bu*ds in choosing a site 
for a home. 

It is now believed that the Parula Warbler breeds only 
where the usnea moss grows luxuriantly, for in this moss she 
usually secretes her nest, constructing it largely of the same 
material. Robins, Swallows, and Phoebes must have mud for 
nest building. The Chipping Sparrow lines her nest with 
hair, usually that of the horse, cow, or deer. Vireos and 
Orioles must have hair or strands of some kind to construct 
the pendent fabrics which they skillfully weave. If we hang 
nesting materials on bushes, trees, or fences, or place them 
on the ground in the open, where birds will be in no danger 
from cats while securing them, this may prove to be the final 
" straw " which will decide several pairs of l)irds to nest on 
our premises. Such supplies, when watched, furnish ready 
means of tracing the nest builders to their nests. We can 
then take means to i)rotect the nests from marauders. Root- 
lets, fibers of birch, cedar or grape vine bark, straw, fine 
hay, hair, feathers, thread, twine, rope yarn, jute, sphag- 
num moss, — all will serve a {Purpose. It is important to 
furnish twine, hemp, yarn, or some similar material for the 
Orioles ; otherwise they may get it by tearing to pieces the 
nests of other ])irds which have used such materials. In 


dry weather we may provide mud for Robins, Swallows, and 
Phoebes to use. At such a time a Rol)iu has been seen to 
wet its feathers and then trail them in the dust to make nuid 
for its nest. Put a pan of mud or clay on the window shelf, 
and see if the birds do not find it. All other nesting mate- 
rial should be exposed constantly from April to August. 

Feeding the Summer Birds. 

The food table or window shelf should be supplied with 
food all summer. It may help out some bird when in times 
of storm or temporary scarcity it can hardly find suiEcient 
food for its young. AVe can make feeding experiments with 
grains and seeds, nuts and fruits, cooked foods, cereals, bread, 
and cake. There should be some food at hand for insect- 
eating birds and their young, that we may teach them to 
trust us. Taming an old bird in summer is usually up-hill 
work; but now and then a Catbird or Robin, more contid- 
ing than the rest, may learn to come to be fed or even take 
food from the hand. Practically all birds will eat hairless 
caterpillars, such as the cankerworms ; most of them are 
fond of grasshoppers and meal worms. We may now and 
then find it necessary to feed some young birds, when cold 
storms cut short the natural food supply. 

Occasionally a young bird jumps or falls from the nest be- 
fore it is full-fledged and strong. Such birds are likely to fall 
a prey to cats, snakes, or Crows ; but we may be able to save 
them by a little care or a few days' feeding. It will not do 
to return the young fledgeling to the nest, as usually it will 
not stay there. If the weather is warm and the parents are 
at hand, the youngster may now be })ut in a cage with an oil 
cloth cover over its top, and the cage hung on the branch of 
a tree near the nest, where the parents sometimes will feed 
the fledgeling through the bars. It can be watched a little, 
taken in, and kept very warm for a few nights, when it may 
be allowe<l to go with the rest of the brood. If the parent 
birds are dead or have deserted the helpless young, it will be 
something of a task to supply by hand the wants of the 
young l)irds, as they need feeding often during daylight, 
and should be fed about all they will eat. Grasshoppers and 


hairless caterpillars, with chopped lean meat and a few earth- 
worms cut up, will make a good substitute for the natural 
food. Those who wish to experiment in this way should 
read the chapter on taming and feeding birds in Nature Study 
and Life, by Prof. C. F. Hodge. They may thereby avoid 
mistakes, save much trouble, and prevent a useless sacrifice 
of bird life. 

Our experience in attracting Bluebirds, Wrens, and 
Chickadees about the house by means of food and nesting 
boxes proves conclusively that we may easily domesticate 
these birds. Our experiments with the Chickadee will serve 
to illustrate how a species may be induced to leave its nest- 
ing places in the woods to nest and live about dwellings 
and under man's protection. We first cut down all the de- 
caying trees near the house, leaving the birds neither dead 
wood in which to make holes, nor natural hollows in which 
to find shelter, — but not before we had put up artificial nest- 
ing boxes on the house and on the near-by trees. This was 
done in the fall, that the birds might become accustomed to 
the change before another nesting season, and that they might 
find shelter in the boxes during the cold winter nights. It 
seems remarkable that Chickadees which naturally breed in 
decayed stumps or hollow trees should come to seek the 
shelter of old tin cans in winter ; but eventually they did so, 
going early to these shelters, and nestling together there in 
company for mutual protection from the cold. 

In the mean time, food was put out near the house win- 
dows, where nesting boxes had l)cen put up. In the spring 
a single pair of Chickadees nested and reared seven young 
in a wooden box fastened to a window sill. The next year 
two pairs reared young in boxes within two rods of each 
other ; one was on the house, the other in an apple tree near 
by. The present year (1906) three pairs have reared young, 
and two of them have successfully brought off two broods 
each. In 1905 a pair accepted a wad of cotton placed in a 
box, dug out a hollow in it, and reared young there. This 
nesting box is situated upon a Avindow frame three feet from 
an outside kitchen door. The illustration (Plate LIII) shows 
the bird and her nest. 

PLATE LII. — Chickadee's Nest, made of Cotton, in 
Box on Author's Window. 

PLATE LIII. — Chickadee on Nest. 

PLATE LIV.— Mother Chickadee bringing Food to Young. 

PLATE LV. — Mother Chickadee cleaning Nest. 

Tlll<: I'liOTKdTlON OF imujs. 401 

An incident occurn^d in (•oiiiicctioii with this box which 
sliows how easily birds niay be induced to occupy a nest- 
ing site, and what inlhicncc an aniph" food .su|)|)ly may have 
in decidino- them. Two ( 'hickach'cs came; to the box in the 
s[)ring of lilOd, and went in and out of it for sevciral days, 
but finally seemed to be dissatislied, and went away. A few 
days later a i)iece of .suet was fastc^ned to the window sill. 
Within tweuty-foui- hours the birds found it. They visited 
it fre(|uently, and at onc(! began carrying nesting material 
into the box. A supply of su(^t was kept there, and two 
broods were reai-ed in that box. The old bird.s fed on the 
suet often when hard pressed to till the nine hungry mouthn 
in the nest ; l)ut even then the young were UhI on insects. 

The ('hickadees did not utilize a tin can foi- nesting pui- 
poses until IDOl, when, during a call on a neighbor, I saw 
two ('hickadees looking his house ovei- in search of a nest- 
ing place. I called his attention to them, and Ik^ (!Xpress<'d 
a wish for a bird house. I took an old two-(pia,rt. can from 
the dump, madc^ a wooden stopper for it, cut a small hole in 
tli(^ stojjper, and nailed the; can up in the nearest ti'ce. 'IMie 
Chickadees examined it, and within tw(^nty minutes began 
building. Her<', thc^y safely reared a broo<l. Evidently they 
preferred a wooden doorway to their castle, but s\nr.v then 
they hav(! learned to di8i)ense with tlx^ wood. 

The next sununer my neighbor, Mr. Lewis K. Cai-r, wiicMJ 
up in a pitu; near his house an old varnish can that the boys 
had somewhat distended during theii- annual Fourth of -July 
celebration. The Chickade(^s took up their cpiartcirs in it 
at once, and also nested in it in liMIO. This can and its 
bird occupant are shown in Plate XLIX. Chickadees now 
occupy at l(!ast three cans of various sizes and descriptions. 
Tlusy seem to prefer those that are i)ut up on or near houses. 
There is every reason to believe that, wei(; it not for the in- 
troduction of the House Spai-row, several useful native birds 
might easily be; induced to breed about oui- houses, and even 
in the cities, as familiarly as the Si)arrow now d(jes. 


Attracting Water-fowl. 

The water-fowl have been hunted until they have become so 
wild that attracting them seems at first sight an utterly hope- 
less task. Nevertheless, it can be accom})lished if only a })lace 
can be found where they may rest and feed unmolested. Wild 
Ducks soon learn where they are safe. Along the water front 
at Titusville, Fla., no shooting is allowed, but out on the river 
gunning is not prohibited. Aliout the wharves and along 
the beach at the hotel wild Scaup Ducks swim, dive, and 
dress their plumage as unconcernedly as if there were not a 
man in sight. They sometimes come ashore and walk about 
on the grass near the hotel. They swim at ease among the 
small craft at the wharves, and act much like domesticated 
Ducks ; but when the same birds get out on the river beyond 
the dead line, they can hardly l)e approached within gunshot 
by a fast-sailing boat. Wild-fowl, if undisturbed, will settle 
in tlie most unlikely places. A pair of Wood Ducks came 
regularly to a small pool in the grove not far from our house, 
until disturbed by workmen passing by. Those who have 
large estates containing ponds, where Ducks can be protected, 
may attract them by scattering grain in the water and on the 
shores. This has been successfully tried. A few "gi^ay call 
Ducks" will prove an additional attraction. If the pond or 
stream has wooded shores, an attempt should be made to 
induce the Wood Ducks to breed. This may be done by put- 
ting up nesting boxes. One reason for the present scarcity 
of Wood Ducks in this portion of New England is, that sum- 
mer camps are now established on many of the ponds where 
these birds formerly l)re(l. Another reason is, that there are 
few hollow trees in which they can breed. People having 
suitably located woodlands should put up nesting boxes made 
in imitation of hollow logs, for the Wood Ducks. A box for 
these l)irds should be at least two feet long. It may be 
j)laced either perpendicularly or at an acute angle, and fastened 
not far from the ground on a tree near the water. It should 
have an opening at least four inches in diameter. Everything 
possible should be done to prevent the extermination of this 
beautiful bird, and to secure an increase in its numbers. 




Those who are successful in assembling birds about their 
homes are likely soon to find that they have also inadvert- 
ently attracted creatures to prey upon them. AVhen our 
winter colony of birds was at the height of its numbers, in 
January, 1903, it Avas noticed that the birds were growing 
nervous and easily frightened. Soon one was seen to l)e 
minus a tail. Then their numbers began to decrease. An 
investigation revealed the cause, — two cats and a Sharp- 
shinned Hawk. One da}^ during my absence the Hawk 
struck a Blue Jay within twenty feet of the window. If we 
expect to conserve our small native land birds and increase 
their numbers, something more becomes necessary than 
protection from the gunner, the small boy, or the milliner's 
agent ; for in woods where all shooting is prohibited the 
enemies of birds, particularly Hawks, squirrels. Crows, and 
Jays, are likely to increase in numbers, while the smaller 
birds decrease. This was the case in the Middlesex Fells 
Reservation, soon after the Metropolitan Park Commission 
took it. Four years' experience on my own place in protect- 
ing birds from gunners resulted in a very decided increase 
in the numbers of squirrels, Crows, and Jays, and a corre- 
sponding decrease among the smaller birds. Apparently less 
than ten per cent, of the smaller birds raised any young in 
1902. During a long stay on the estate of Mr. William 
Brewster, at Concord, Mass., in the breeding season of 1903, 
it became evident to me that the numbers of the smaller birds 
breeding in his woods had decreased much in the previous 
six years. No shooting had been allowed for several years 
on this estate of nearl}^ three hundred acres. The owner had 
protected the game and birds from destruction by man ; but 
the results, so far as some of the smaller wood birds were con- 
cerned, were disappointing. The Wood Thrushes nearly all 
disappeared. Where there had been five pairs of Redstarts 
breeding a few years before, only one pair was seen in 1903, 
and they disappeared later. Comparatively few birds were 
able to rear their broods that year, except the Robins and 


other birds that nested near the house, the ground-nesting 
birds, and those that bred in nesting boxes or hollow trees. 
Crows and Jays were common, though not increasing i-apidly, 
and both Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks were present 
(prol^ably only one pair of each) . S(|uirrels of tlii-ee species 
were more numerous than I have ever seen them elsewhere. 
Since that year the number of birds about the house seems 
to have increased. This may be due in part to the fact that 
the Cooper's Hawk no longer breeds on the place ; also, that 
the squirrels about the house do not molest the birds much, 
while many birds have been attracted by food plants and 
nesting boxes. 

When it is found, on prohibiting shooting within certain 
limits, that the smaller birds are decreasing, we ma}^ infer 
that they are preyed upon by creatures that were formerly 
held in check by gunners. If this be true, then neither the 
gunners nor the sportsmen need be looked upon as the un- 
mixed evil that some of us have been inclined to consider 
them ; and the farmer who has no time to protect birds may 
safely allow honorable men to shoot on his land. Evidently 
the bird protectionist may be forced to the conclusion that, 
in order to protect birds, he must sometimes destroy some 
of their natural enemies, even if among these he is obliged 
to kill some birds. Hawks, Crows, Jays, and squirrels have 
become so accustomed to the persecutions of the gunner 
that they are able in a sense to persist in nearly normal 
numbers in spite of him ; and when we eliminate shooting, 
they may increase, to the detriment of the species on Avhich 
they prey. In a biographical notice of the late Henry D. 
Minot the following appears : " On the home grounds from 
seventy-five to a hundred nests were built every s})ring, and 
the broods therein successfully reared, for the birds were 
carefully protected. Cats, Hawks, gray squirrels, CroAvs, 
Jays, and snakes were summarily dealt with ; every note of 
alarm was promi)tly answered ^\\i\\ an eflicient rescue, and 
all the spring and early summer the air was filled with the 
melody of happy birds." ^ 

* The Land and Game Birds of New England, by Henry D. Minot. Second 
edition, edited by William Brewster. 


AVhat a great number of young birds have gone out 
into the world from that place. The policy pursued by Mr. 
Minot may serve as a model for the protection of a colony 
of small birds, and, if followed faithfully elsewhere, it ought 
to have the same gratifying results. Having undertaken a 
portion of the management of creation by introducing and cul- 
tivating strange plants and trees, and destroying the larger 
wild animals and the Eagles, Hawks, and Owls which for- 
merly helped to keep Crows, Ja3^s, snakes, squirrels, and 
other predatory creatures in check, we nmst not now shirk 
the responsibility that rests upon us to protect the timid and 
defenceless birds which we have left exposed to their increas- 
ing enemies. But, if we accept the burden of protecting 
birds, we must exercise our power with wise discretion. It 
should not be inferred, for instance, if a gray squirrel de- 
stroys the young of a pair of Robins, that this is a habit with 
all gray sijuirrels. Those who have large estates, on which 
they can protect birds and game, are particularly fortunate 
if they have in their employ keepers who can intelligently 
discriminate in such matters ; otherwise, serious mistakes 
may be made. Millais, in his magnificent work on British 
surface-feeding Ducks, relates that in 1884 Brown-headed 
Gulls began to increase in the bog at Murthly. The keeper 
said that the Gulls were killing young Teal. Another ex- 
perienced keeper suggested that this was probably the work 
of a single Gull. The Gulls were watched, a pair of birds 
were seen together, one of which began to kill ducklings. 
Both birds were shot, and no more ducklings were killed that 
year. In 1890 another pair of Gulls began killing young 
Teal ; sixteen were found dead. The two culprits were shot, 
and no more young Teal were killed that season. Millais 
considers that individual Gulls are as dangerous to young 
Ducks as any of their numerous enemies ; and yet probably 
only two, or at the most four, of the large luunber at the bog 
were actually doing the killing.^ Had not the gamekeeper 
been an intelligent observer, a hundred innocent Gulls might 
have been shot, and the guilty birds might have escaped to 

^ Nevertheless, observers agree that the habits of bird-kilUng and egg-eating 
are quite general among certain species of Gulls. 


continue their nefarious work elsewhere. Millais confidently 
advances the theory that a few individual l)irds do the mis- 
chief for which perhaps the whole race is ])lanied. He be- 
lieves that the individual criminal among birds does his work 
stealthily, and so is seldom observed ; that his family is fed 
on the results of his rapacity ; and that the young acquire 
similar tastes and habits, which in time may spread from 
famil}' to family and from one community to another. He 
states that years ago the Eooks of southern England Avere 
practically innocent of stealing eggs or young birds, though 
their cousins in the north were nest-robbers even then. He 
says that now there is hardlj^ a community of Rooks in the 
south of England that does not contain individuals with the 
nest-robbing hal)it. The view that certain depraved indi- 
viduals among birds and manunals are responsible for most 
of the unusual depredations on other birds and mammals is 
held by many observers. The Marsh Hawk and the Red- 
shouldered Hawk are among the most useful of all Hawks ; 
but I have known individuals of both these species to be 
destructive to birds or young poultry. If such individuals 
can be shot, it will be a decided benefit to all concerned. 

Where Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks cannot be shot, 
they may be caught by setting steel traps in their nests. 

It is quite probal)le that some Crows do not habitually 
steal the eggs and young of other birds. In fall, winter, 
and early spring we may welcome Crows al)Out our farm 
buildings. They may do much good in the fields in summer, 
but, as a measure of safet}^ they should be kept as far away 
from small breeding birds as possible. Poison will kill some 
and drive the rest away ; but exposing poison in this way is 
illegal, and there is great danger of poisoning useful birds. 
Egg-eating Crows may be trapped by exposing an eg^g on 
the ground in such a way that the Crow nmst step into a 
concealed trap to get the Qgg. After two or three have 
been caught in this way, the others will avoid the place. 
Our laws which deny protection to the Crow are wise, for 
it is one of those species which, though at times most useful, 
may become a pest if not held severely in check. 

Watch the Jays, and shoot every one that is found dis- 


turbing the nests of other birds. The actions of the birds 
and their manner toward tlie Jay are usually sufficient indica- 
tion of its character. It is not very difficult to surprise the 
Jay in its raids on birds' nests. It may possibly be neces- 
sary now and then to kill a Crow Blackbird that has the 
nest-robbing habit. 

No native bird should be exterminated, for they all serve 
some useful purpose ; but if the introduced House (or " Eng- 
lish") Sparrow could be exterminated, one of the chief ob- 
stacles to the increase of native birds about villages and cities 
Avould be removed. This is now a hopeless task ; but much 
has been effected in some localities by feeding the birds on 
poisoned wheat. Such work, however, should never be at- 
tempted except l)y skillful and experienced persons, as other- 
wise there is much danger of poisoning poultry. Pigeons, and 
native birds. A persistent shooting of the birds, together 
with the continual removino^ of their colors from all nestins: 
boxes, will eventuallj^ drive them out of a locality. 

All who desire to harbor and protect birds must eliminate 
the bird-killing cat. The cat is of some service in prevent- 
ing the increase of rats and mice in dwellings, as well as that 
of other small rodents of the fields and Avoods ; but the ver- 
min of the house may be controlled by traps and poison, 
while those of the field may be restrained by Hawks and 
Owls. A ferret will in a short time drive all the rats from 
a building. A smart fox terrier or a good " ratter " Avill 
practically exterminate the rats about a farmhouse. As the 
cat is not an absolute necessity, and as it is a potent carrier 
of contagious diseases, which it spreads, particularly among 
children, it would be far better for the community if most of 
the bird-killing cats now roaming at large could be painlessly 
disposed of. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to 
Animals has added another to its long list of good works by 
chloroforming many thousands of homeless vagrant cats in 
the cities. The Animal Rescue League is not far behind in 
this good work, which ought to be extended farther into the 
country districts. Where the cat is deemed necessary in 
farm or village, no family should keep more than one good 
mouser, which should never be allowed to have its liberty 


during the breeding season of tlie birds, unless it lias been 
tauoht not to kill them. Cats can be confined durinof the 
day in outdoor cages, as readily as rablnts, and given the 
run of the house at night. Massachusetts law does not 
give the cat protection, and all cats found running at large 
may l)e treated as wild animals. All wild or "woods" cats 
should be shot at sight. Marauding cats may be trapped 
by box traps baited with catnip, and held for the owner, or 
killed if no owner appears. 

Farmers know well how to deal with foxes, weasels, minks, 
skunks, and raccoons. They regard S(j[uirrels as pests : but 
it is extremely probable that it is only the individual squir- 
rel that robs birds' nests. Mr. A. C. Dike writes me that 
one season when he was carefully watching the birds about 
his place he saw the eggs and young in eight birds' nests 
destroyed by the red squirrel ; but that in each case the 
same squirrel was the culprit, for he was able to identif}^ it, 
because it had lost a part of its tail in escaping from the 
cat. Squirrels often nest in hollow trees in which birds have 
already established themselves, thus driving out the birds. 
It is quite possible that in some localities many of the squir- 
rels may have acquired the habit of killing birds. When this 
is evident the squirrels should be killed. Unfortunately, the 
law protects gray squirrels at the only time when this habit 
can be observed. Where birds show no alarm when scjuir- 
rels approach their nests, the presumption is that the squir- 
rels are innocent. The beauty and grace exhibited in the 
forms and motions of squirrels have made them favorites 
with many people, who will not wish to kill them. Others 
will wish to avoid killing C-rows, Jays, Hawks, or even cats. 
But all should regard it a duty to protect the nests of l)irds 
from these marauders. Some experiments in this direction 
have been made. It is a simple matter, as has been descri))ed, 
to protect such birds as will build in nesting boxes ; but those 
that nest on the ground are peculiarly liable to the attacks 
of their enemies, and other means of protecting them may 
possibly be devised. 

Years ago I secured a translation of a paper published in 
France by Xavier Raspail, entitled "The Protection of Use- 


ful Birds," in which he gives a metliod of protecting tlieir 
nests from their enemies. Of sixty-seven nests observed 
from April to August, only twenty-six prospered. Of the 
forty-one destroyed, fifteen were known to have been robbed 
by cats, eight by the garden dormouse, three by Jays, and 
two by Magpies. He protected twenty nests either by fur- 
nishing the birds vermin-proof bird boxes to build in, or 
by surrounding the nests with wire netting. Only two of 
these were robbed of eggs or young, and they were pillaged 
by animals that got through or under the netting. These 
simple methods of protection assured the rearing of one hun- 
dred and two young birds from nineteen nests. Comparing 
these figures with those from the unprotected nests, we find 
that, proportionately, only seven pairs of parents out of the 
twenty would have succeeded in rearing their young had 
their homes been unprotected. The paper lacks a complete 
description of the method of putting up the wire nest pro- 
tectors. There is nothing to show whether the enclosure was 
without a cover, or whether an opening was left in the top 
just large enough to admit the parent birds ; but the mesh 
used was, in some cases at least, small enough to keep out 
mice, or about one-fifth to one-sixth of an inch in diameter. 
The language used seems to indicate that the nests on the 
ground were merely enclosed by a circular fence of wire 
netting. Mons. Raspail says that nests so protected are not 
attacked by weasels or mice. There seems to be nothing 
to prevent these animals from climbing over the wire, except 
that they may stupidly strive to get at the nest from below, 
and so walk around the cage without seeking an entrance 
above. The sly fox, perceiving the smell of iron, might sus- 
pect a trap. Probal)ly Crows and Jays, being also sus})icious 
of a trap, would not enter these enclosures. The surround- 
ing of the nests with netting in no case caused the birds to 
desert their home, even when it was done as soon as the nest 
was completed and before the eggs were laid. This method 
might be worth a trial. 

Where nesting trees are isolated, cats and squirrels may 
be kept out of them by the use of either of the devices shown 
in the cut (Fig. 171 ) , for these animals cannot climb up a per- 



fectly smooth surface. Nesting boxes mounted on poles, may 
be guarded in this way. Zinc is the best material. A wide 
piece of wire netting, shaped like a hat brim, and fastened 
around a tree, will })revent cats and squirrels from climb- 
ing it. A smooth, 
tall, slim pole, made 
of a peeled sapling 
pine set in the open, 
is rarely climbed by 
cats or squirrels. 

Thick thorn bushes 
often serve as safe 
nesting places for 
birds. Bundles of 
thorny sticks tied 
around tree trunks 
will keep cats out of 
the trees. An island 
in a small artificial 

Pig. 171. — Zim- bands to prevent cats or squirrels i^ond is llsO a refuse 
from climbing trees or poles. * 

from cats. The best 
cat-proof fence for a city garden is that used by Mr. William 
Brewster at Cambridge. It is made of wire nettino; some 
six feet in height, surmounted by a fish seine of heavy twine, 
which is fastened to the top of the wire. The top of the net is 
then looped to the ends of long, flexible garden stakes. This 
fabric gives beneath any weight, and offers so unstable a foot- 
ing that no cat ever succeeds in scaling it. Mr. Brewster's 
garden has become famous for the numbers of birds that breed 
there, and the migrants that visit it 3^ear by year. 


Serious losses sometimes occur from injury inflicted on 
crops or poultiy by birds. It is well to remember, how- 
ever, that, while the harm done by birds is conspicuous, 
the compensating good that they do is usually unnoticed. 
In most cases it is l)est not to kill them, but to protect both 
birds and crops ; for by killing too many Ijirds we may dis- 
turb the biological equilibrium, and bring about a greater 


injury than the one we attempt to prevent. The destruction 
of too many corn-pulling' Crows, for example, might be fol- 
lowed by such an increase of grubs and grasshoj^pers that no 
grass could be grown ; or the extermination of Hawks and 
Owls might be succeeded by the destruction of all the young 
fruit trees by hordes of mice. ^Moreover, other evils, far less 
simple and easily traceable, might result, for the widening 
ripples that man creates by disturbing the balance of nature 
are likely to be felt in the most unexpected places. 

Most birds earn more of our bounty than they receive, 
and that portion of our products which the}' ordinarily eat 
may be justly looked upon as but partial payment for their 
services. Nevertheless, the farmer must protect his prop- 
erty from excessive injury, such as sometimes occurs when 
the natural food supply of birds is cut short, or when too 
many are gathered upon a small area. 

To protect Grain from Crows and Other Birds. 

The following spring measures are reconmiended : — 
1? Tar the seed corn, as follows : "Put one-fourth to one- 
half bushel of corn in a half-barrel tuli ; pour on a pailful of 
hot water, or as much as is necessary to well cover the corn ; 
dip a stick in gas tar, and stir this briskly in the corn ; re- 
peat until the corn is entirely black ; pour off onto l)urlap 
(bran sacks are excellent) ; spread in the sun and stir two 
or three times during the day. If this work is done in the 
morning, and the day is sunny, the corn will be ready for 
the planter the next day without &\\\ other care. The hot 
water softens the tar so that just enough will adhere to the 
corn, and the corn is completely glazed by the sun. This 
is by far the quicker way of tarring corn, is harmless and 
effectual, and I have for years planted M'ith a machine corn 
treated in this way."^ 

2. Scatter soaked corn often about the borders of the field. 

3. Plant the seed three or four inches deep. This is said 
to prevent corn-pulling by Crows, and must be effectual on 
heavy soil. 

* Ethan Brooks, in Annual Report of the Massachusetts State Board of Agri- 
culture, 1896, p. 2!U. 


4. Surround the field with a line of twine, strung on 
upright poles, and suspend rags, streamers, pieces of bright 
tin, etc., from the twine. 

5. A frequent change in scarecrows is advisable. A 
barrel hung on a leaning pole puzzles the Crow. 

To drive Blackbirds from a cornfield in autumn, a cliaro^e 
of fine shot fired from a long distance, so as to rattle among 
them, will bo effectual without injuring them. 

To protect grain from the House (or " English ") Sparrow 
a liberal use of the shotgun is usually successful. Poisoned 
Avheat has been used in extreme cases. 

To protect Small Fruits. 

It is not usually good biology to shoot birds for eating 
fruit. It is better to })rovide fruit enough for both birds 
and man, especially wild fruit, which birds prefer. The fol- 
lowing protective measures are recommended : — 

1. To protect straw})erries and cherries (May and June), 
plant Russian mulberry and June berry or shadberry, or })lant 
several trees of the soft early cherries, to furnish food> for 
the birds. The Governor Wood is a type of the kind they 
prefer. (G. T. Powell.) 

2. To protect raspberries and blackberries (July and 
August), plant mulberry, buckthorn, elder, and chokeberry. 
( Florence iNIerriam [Bailey] . ) Also, plant some early sweet 
berries, and lot the fruit remain until dead ripe, to attract 
the birds from the others. Strawberries may be thus pro- 
tected. (Prof. II. A. Surface.) The larger fruits, such as 
apples, pears, and peaches, are not nuich injured by birds in 

3. Where it is found impossible to protect small early 
cherry trees in any other way, it will pay to cover them 
with tine fish not while the fruit is ripening. 

4. If Kingbirds nest near cherry trees, they will keep 
other birds away. Bees, particularly drones, attract King- 

To protect Poultry from Hawks and Crows. 
1. Rear the young chicks or ducklings on grassland, in 
portable brooders or coops to which movable runs are 
attached. PouUrv roared in this wav is much finer for the 


table than if allowed to run. The stock intended for laying 
may be given free range when four months of age, or when 
too large to be attacked by Crows or most Hawks. 

i. Kingbirds, Martins, or our largest Hawk, the Osprey 
or Fish Hawk {Pandion /taliaHus carolinensis), if allowed 
to nest near the coops, will })rotect all })oultry from Hawks. 
All these birds are confiding wherever they are unmolested. 
Where the Osprey is protected it will build its nest in a tree 
near the farmyard. It never troubles poultry or small birds, 
and should be protected by law at all times. 

8. Hawks niay l)e frightened away from the poultry yard 
if a general shout is raised whenever one appears. 

4. When a Hawk has flown oft' with a chicken it should 
be followed quickly l)ut cautiously, and may be shot while 
absorbed in eating its prey. 


The first and most important step in protecting birds 
from their human enemies is to create a public sentiment 
in favor of birds, by teaching their value and the necessity 
for conservinjj them. This is a leoitimate work for State 
boards of agriculture and State boards of education. Free 
lectures on this subject, illustrated by stereo})ticon, should 
be gi\en at teachers' institutes and State normal schools, 
at gatherings of school children held for the purpose, at 
farmers' institutes, and before farmers' clubs and grange 
meetings. Some work of this nature has been done by the 
Massachusetts State Board of Education and by the orni- 
thologist of the State Board of Agriculture, but much more 
should be done. 

There are ample reasons for introducing economic nature 
study in the schools. The utility of birds and the means of 
attracting and })rotecting them should be taught in home 
and school as the most important bird study. A feeding 
shelf for birds should be put up at a window of every coun- 
tr}^ school-house, or upon the flag pole. Children should be 
induced to plant trees, vines, and shrubs that furnish food 
for birds. The making of nesting boxes should be taught 
in the schools. This is a good subject for maiuial training 
classes. The boy who learns to feed birds and to furnish 


them with houses will always be their friend. Boys should 
be taught to exchange the gun for the camera, the sketch 
book, or the note book. Children should be cautioned not 
to disturb the nests of birds during the breeding season ; but 
the nest census, taken after the leaves have fallen, is instruct- 
ive and harmless. 

An educational propaganda should be carried on in those 
States in which the birds that breed in Massachusetts or 
pass through it are killed in their migrations. Every State 
should have an official economic ornitholoofist, amonsr whose 
duties should be investigation of the relations of birds to 
insect and other pests, and the production of popular leaflets 
and newspaper articles on birds and their conservation. 
When public sentiment in favor of l)ird protection is thor- 
oughlv aroused, then, and not till then, will effective laws 
be enacted, respected, and enforced. 

Game Protection. 

The conservation of tish and game is a vital preliminary 
step in bird protection. 

It is plain that, having necessarily destroyed the larger 
predatory animals, man must hold in check the creatures 
on which they formerly fed. This is the task of the angler 
and the sportsman, and it is a legitimate one, in so far as 
it disposes of only the surplus fish, mammals, and birds ; 
but the tendency to go farther than this must be sharply 
curbed, for wherever the larger game mammals and game 
birds are exterminated, people begin to shoot the smaller 
species. So long as the supply of game is kept up, just so 
long are the song birds comparatively safe. 

A mere glance at the history of game legislation in 
Massachusetts or any other eastern State is enough to make 
one wonder that any native game now exists. From the 
settlement of Massachusetts until the year 1<S17 there Avas 
practically no limit to the amount of bird shooting that any 
one might legally do at any season of the year. Until 
that year the only legislation enacted regarding birds pro- 
vided bounties for their destruction. Among other species, 
the Ruffed Grouse or Partridge was tlu^ victim of local 


bounty laws. By LSI 7 mo!?t of the larger game mammals 
and game birds were nearing extermination, and people 
were lieginning to slioot Robins, Larks, Snipe, and Wood- 
cock, in place of game birds. A law was then passed pro- 
tecting these birds from March 1 to July 4, and Partridges 
and Quail were protected from March 1 to Septeml)er 1 ; 
but this law was nullified local 1}^ by town option, for any 
town meeting could annually suspend its o})eration. 

The most stringent game legislation of the middle nine- 
teenth century period was a series of acts, not for the 
protection of the birds, but for the benefit of people en- 
gaged in netting Wild Pigeons. The penalties for disturb- 
ing Pigeons about net beds were heavier than those for 
merely killing game out of season. They even included a 
term in jail. 

It would be ludicrous, were it not pathetic, that we with- 
hold adequate statutory protection from game birds until 
the}^ are practically exterminated. Protective statutes come 
too late. It is only within recent years, when the Passenger 
Pigeon and Heath Hen have become nearly extinct, that 
statutes protecting them at all times have been enacted and 
retained on the statute books. We have only just succeeded 
(190G) in getting enactments protecting the Wood Duck 
and the Bartramian Sandpiper or Upland Plover at all sea- 
sons. Unless stringent laws can be passed and enforced in 
other States, as well as in Massachusetts, the extinction of 
these birds is even now imminent. 

The game laws of Massachusetts for lOOG protect all "song 
and insectivorous birds," Doves, Pigeons, Heath Hens, Pin- 
nated Grouse, Pheasants, Bartramian Sandpiper or Upland 
Plover, Herons, Bitterns, Wood Duck, and most Gulls and 
Terns throughout the year. Other game birds and wild- 
fowl are protected, but inadequately. Eventually the shoot- 
ing season nmst be shortened. 

Measures and Legislation necessary for the Protection of Game and 


To provide against the extermination of game, there must 
be established throughout the country a series of State res- 
ervations, maintained as places of refuge for game, where 


it can be absolutely protected at all seasons. Large for- 
est reservations have already been accjuired by the United 
States government and ])y several States. In January, 
litOG, New York had reserved nearly a million and a half 
acres, and Pennsylvania had purchased, or contracted for, 
seven hundred and fifty thousand acres. Connecticut, New 
Jersey, and other States have ado})ted reservation policies; 
and, as Alfred Akerman, late State Forester of Massachu- 
setts, well says, this ("onnnonwealth ought to extend its 
policy of park reservation to include genuine State forests. 
There are about three million acres in jNIassachusetts that 
are of little value except for forestry. Under rational forest 
management we might, in time, grow most of the lumber 
used here, instead of buying it in the north, west, and south. 
This land is the natural stronghold of the liuHed Grouse, 
the red deer, and many other game mannnals and birds. A 
goodly portion of it should be devoted to the preservation 
of the forests and the eame.^ 

Some of the great ponds of the State should be set oft* 
as reservations for water-fowl ; marshes and sandv shores 
should be taken as refuges for sea fowl and shore birds ; 
and islands should be reserved as breeding i)laces for sea 
birds. Undoubtedly the profits from the forest reserves 
would, in time, pa}^ the cost of maintaining the entire S3'Stem. 
Prussia owns six million acres of forest land, from which 
the government derives a net annual revenue of !f>9,0()0,()()0 ; 
and France receives a net yearly income of fl.ill per acre 
from its large government forest. 

While this policy is being inaugurated, other legislation 
is imjoerative. Laws must be enacted, whenever it becomes 
necessary, protecting certain birds at all times for a series 
of years, and those laws nuist l)e enforced with a strong hand. 
Spring shooting destroys the naturally selected breeding stock 
which has survived the dangers of fall and winter; it should 
be absolutelv i^rohibited. More and more stringent reeula- 

* A large part of the forested land of the State will probably always remain 
in the hands of private owners or corporations. Farmers on adjoining farms may 
band together, and, by posthig noti<'es on their lands, tlu^y may jjrotect the gann? of 
considerabh; tracts. Farmers in some towns are now ti-ying tliis plan. Wealthy 
owners of large tracts have a still better opportunity to work for the public good. 






PLATE LVI. — Domesticated Canada Goose on Nest. (Photograph, iiuiii 
life, bj' I. Chester Horton.) 


tions will become necessary regarding the marketing and ship- 
ment of game. The hunting license, which is now finding 
favor in many States, must sooner or later be adopted here. 
It is doubtful, hoAv^ever, if all these measures will result in 
replenishing our woods with game in its former abundance. 
The restocking of covers with l)irds from other States — 
an excellent method, which has long l)een practised b}^ game 
protective associations — is likely to come to an end, for 
already most States do not allow shipments of birds to points 
outside the State boundaries. 

Artificial Propagation of Game Birds. 

The o;reath^ increased demand for sranie birds must be met 
by a new source of supply. The only promising method 
available for restocking is artificial propagation and feeding. 
Pheasants, Quail, Wood Ducks, Mallards, Teal, and other 
wild-fowl may be reared in great numbers if the work is 
scientitically done. It was interesting to observe the large 
numl)er of Pheasants and Mallards successfully reared in 
1905 by Mr. Bayard Thayer at Lancaster. This is the work 
in which connnissioners on fisheries and game, game pro- 
tective associations, and wealthy land owners must engage 
if we are to have game in its former abundance. A begin- 
ning may be made by importing experienced gamekeepers 
from England and Scotland, where, notwithstanding the 
long settlement of the country and the density of the popu- 
lation, people have game for their own use, and export a 
great deal to this country to supply our depleted markets. 
Artificial propagation is the most important work of the 
centurv concernino; o^ame birds. Manv thousands must be 
reared and liberated annually in every Atlantic coast State, 
until the covers are well stocked and the marshes again 
swarm with game birds and wild-fowl. 

Attempts should be made to domesticate game birds. In 
more than three centuries since the discovery of the Ameri- 
can continent only one American bird, the Turkey, has 
become widely distributed through domestication. There 
is no doul^t that Quail, Grouse, and Wood Ducks may be 
readily tamed, and the Canada Goose has been long known 


to be capable of domestication. ^Nlore attention to this sub- 
ject might add largely to the quantity of our food supply, 
and provide a source from which the stock of game could be 
replenished. The restocking of the State with a plentiful 
supply of game would keep within her borders a part at 
least of the more than two million dollars which is annually 
spent in other States by her sportsmen, and it would pro- 
vide recreation at home for those who cannot afford the 
expense of travel. 


In setting forth the measures necessary for the protection 
of birds, one cannot ignore the fact that a great movement for 
bird protection is under way and has already accomplished 
great good. The Audubon societies of the country have so 
influenced public sentiment as to practically stop the wear- 
ing of the feathers of useful American birds. The American 
Ornithologists Union was enabled, through moneys raised by 
the eflforts of Mr. Abbott Thayer, to protect the sea birds on 
many islands along the coast of the United States for several 
years. ^ This work and the general one of protecting native 
birds and other animals have been taken up by the National 
Association of Audubon Societies, under the leadershi}) of 
Mr. William Dutcher of New York. The untiring devotion 
of his time and means to this cause is bringing forth fruits in 
the shape of improved legislation and aroused puljlic senti- 
ment in many States. Through his earnest eflTorts this move- 
ment is receiving deserved endowment, which will undoul)t- 
edly result in its perpetuation, (xanie protection has been 
taken up l)y the Biological Survey of the United States 
Department of Agriculture, and a very efficient officer. Dr. 
T. S. Palmer, has been placed in charge of the enforcement 
of the Lacey act. State governments have been assisted by 
the stronjy hand of the United States in enforcino- advanced 
legislation. The central government has co-operated with 
the Audubon societies and game protective associations of 

^ The Massacliusetts colony of Terns and (kills at Muskeget Island was saved 
from extermination first through the efforts of Mr. William Brewster and others 
and later by the continuous work of Mr. (Jeorge H. INIackay. 


dilferent States. This co-operation has resulted in a great 
general improvement in State laws and their enforcement. 
This movement, now so well under way, gives promise of 
preserving a large part at least of the wealth of our fauna, 
which we may be said to hold as trustees for posterity. 

For the benefit of those persons who are interested in 
caring for and protecting birds, a list of some officials and 
associations who will help to further the work is appended : — 

Bureau of Biological Survey, United States Department 
of Agriculture, Washington, D. C, Dr. C. Hart Merriam, 
chief, Henry W. Henshaw, administrative assistant. The 
Surve}'^ distributes a large number of authoritative publi- 
cations on the food hal)its and utility of l)irds. Dr. T. S, 
Palmer of the Survey, assistant in charge of game preserva- 
tion, has literature on that subject for distribution, and is 
})repared to furnish information that will aid in the enforce- 
ment of the game and bird laws. 

The National Association of Audubon Societies (offices, 
141 Broadway, New York), AVilliam Dutcher, president, 
T. Gilbert Pearson, secretary, is helping the cause of bird 
protection ever3^where by every means in its power. It 
sends out excellent illustrated leaflets to teachers, and 
directly influences legislation. 

The Massachusetts Connnission on Fisheries and Grame 
(Room 158, State House, Boston), Dr. George W. Field, 
chairman, is the legally constituted authority for the enforce- 
ment of the fish, game, and bird laws of ^Massachusetts. The 
commission furnishes, on request, a poster containing an 
abstract of these statutes. A copy of this is posted annually 
in each post-office in the State. The officers of the com- 
mission attend to all complaints of infractions of these laws. 
The commission is also engaged in propagating Pheasants, 
(^uail, and Grouse. 

The State Board of Agriculture (room loii, State House, 
Boston), J. Lewis P^llsworth, secretary, distributes bulle- 
tins, reports, and nature leaflets on birds and l)ii'd protection ; 
also cloth posters, on which are printed extracts from the 
trespass laws. 

The Massachusetts Fish and Game Protective Association 


(21() Washington Street, Boston), William Brew.ster, presi- 
dent, Ilenn' 11. Kimball, secretary-treasurer, is the most 
influential and ettective game protective organization now 
actively at work in the State. It furnishes game birds to 
restock depleted covers, grain for game birds in winter, and 
posters containing abstracts of the game laws. Its officers 
also assist in the enforcement of the statutes. Practically 
all the game protective associations of Massachusetts are 
affiliated with this organization. 

The Massachusetts Audubon Society (234 Berl^eley Street, 
Boston), William Brewster, president. Miss Jessie E. Kim- 
ball, secretary, is one of the most powerful forces for bird 
protection in the State. Its local secretaries are numerous, 
and its influetice is widely felt. This association takes no 
direct action to enforce the law : its chief function is to 
influence pul)lic sentiment, and secure protective legislation. 
The secretary has literature for distribution, and the associa- 
tion })ul)lishes charts and provides lectures on birds. 

The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty 
to Animals (19 Milk Street, Boston), George T. Angell, 
president, Hon. Henry B. Hill, vice-president, furnishes 
cards for })osting in })ubHc places, oflering rewards for the 
conviction of persons killing birds or taking their nests or 
eggs. This societv, whose good work is well known, also 
furnishes free literature advocating kindness to birds and 
other animals. 

There are other associations that take an interest in the 
})rotection of birds. The Animal Kescue League, the League 
of American Sportsmen, the Agassiz Association, and many 
minor societies and sportsmen's organizations, lend their in- 
fluence to strengthen this movement. Sportsmen's periodi- 
cals have done much for the protection of l)irds and game. 
The Forest and Stream Company of New York, under the 
direction of Mr. J. Bird Grinnel, supi)()rtcd the first Audu- 
bon Society for years, both editorially and financially. 
Writers like Herl)ert K. -fob, Ernest Harold Baynes, and 
A. C. Dike are penning helpful articles for newspapers 
or periodicals. Nature books arc teaching altruistic ideas 
reaardino- birds. 


All these agencies must help to hasten the clay when our 
woods shall teem with game and birds ; when our lakes and 
rivers shall be populous with wild-fowl ; and when our 
people, young and old, shall welcome, protect, and cherish 
our feathered friends of orchard, garden, and field. If this 
volume shall help in any degree to bring about this con- 
summation, it will not have been written in vain. 

Papers on ORNiTiioiAXiY, publisukd uv the Massachusetts State 
Board of A(;i;i( i'etuke. 

Essai/s (Old Lectures. 
Utility of liirds. Wilson Flagg. Annual report of tlu^ ^Massachusetts 

State Board of Agriculture, 1861 (I'art II.), \)[). .")()-78. 
Agricultui'al Value of Birds. E. A. Samuels, [hid.. 1S65 (Pait I.), 

pp. 1)4-117. 
The Utilit}- of Birds to Agriculture. Frank II. Palmer. I hid.. ISTI 

(Part II.), pp. 107-120. 
Insect-eating Birds. Frank II. Palmer. Ibid.. 1S72 (Part 11.), 

pp. 194-210. 
Birds of ^Massachusetts. Dr. B. II. Warren. Ihid., 1S90, pp. :U-.37. 
The Regulative Influence exerted l)y Birds on the Increase of Insect 

Pests. E. II. Forbush. Massachusetts Croj) Keiwrt, September, 

Bii'ds as Protectors of Orchards. E. II. Forbush. Ainiual report of 

the ^Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture, 1S95, pp. 347-1)62. 
The Crow in iMassachusetts. E. II. Forl)ush. Il>id.. 189(5, ])p. 275- 

Nature's Foresters. E. II. Forl)ush. Ihid., 1898, pp. 279-294. 
Birds as Destro^-ers of Hairy Caterpillars. E. II. Forlnish. Ibid., 

1899, pp. 316-387. 
Birds Useful to Agriculture. E. II. Forbush. Ildd., 19O0, pp. 36-61. 
Birds as Protectors of Woodlands. E. II. Forl)us]i. Ibid.. 1900, 

pp. 300-321. 
Two Years with the Birds on a Farm. E. II. Forbush. Ibid.. 19()2, 

pp. 111-161. 

Siiccial Hi porL^. 

Ornithology of Massachusetts, List of Species. E. A. Samuels. Annual 
report of tln^ Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture. 1863 
(Part I.), Api)endix, pp. xviii-xxix. 

Keport on the Birds of Massachusetts, b}' the State Board of Agricul- 
ture to the House of Keiiresentatives, under the resolution of Ma}' 
28, 1890. Ibid., 1890. pp. 267-273. 



The Destruction of Birds by the Elements in 190o-U4. E. IL Eorbush. 

lidd., I'JUo, pp. 457-50;J. 
The Decrease of Certain Birds, and its Causes, with Sug'g'estions for 

Bird Protection. E. II. Forl)ush. Ilnd., 1904, pp. 429-543. 

















Nature Leaffeta. 
Winter Birds at the Farm. E. H. Forbush. 1902. 
Owl Friends. E. II. Forbush. 1903. 
Bird Houses. E. 11. Forbush. 1903. 
Our Friend the Chickadee. E. H. Forbush. 1903. 
Hints for Out-door Bird Study. E. II. Forbush. I. 

identify Birds. 1904. 
Ibid. II. How to find Birds. 1904. 
I/nd. HI. How to approach Birds. 1904. 
Il'id. \y. How to attract Birds. 1904. 

How to 



[Heavy-faced type indicates the principal reference to a species. In most instances a 
brief description of tlie bird referred to may l)e found on tlie paj,'e tlius indicated.] 

Accipiter atricapillus, 
cooperii, . 

Actias Ituia, . 

Agelaius phoeniceus, 

Aix sponsa, 

Akennan, Alfred, . 

Alabama arg-illacea, 

Allen, J. A., . 

Altum, Bernhard, . 

Anabru.s piirpurascens. 

Anas ob.scura, . 

Angell, Georo-e T., . 

Antlionomu.s grandis, 

Antrostonius vociferus, 

Aphid, Itirch, eggs of. 

Aphis, hoji vine, 

woolly apple, 

Aphodivis inquinatus, 

Ardea herodius, 

Army worm, . 

Asio accipitriiius, . 
wilsonianus, . 

Audubon, John J., . 

Aughey, Samuel, . 

Auk, Great, 

Bailey, Charles E., . 
S. AYaldo, . 
Baird, Spencer F., . 
Ballou, H. A., 
Bangs, Outran! , 
Bark louse, oyster-shell. 
Barton, B. S., . 
Baskett, J. M., 
Ba,\nies, Ernest Harold, 
Beal, F. E. L., . 58, 59, (il, !(> 

24, 14: 

Beetles, Colorado potato, 

elm-leaf, , 

May, . 

rose, . 

striped cuciunber, 
Bendire, Charles, . 


4, 1 










218, 295, 316. .323, 330, 

•4, 263, .346, 

U, 184, 200, 

;•., 3.54 


2, 166, 169, 170, 175, 178, 214. 240, 241, 


2.53, 2.51) 
. 370 
. 13 

227, 234, 236, 239, 


16, 27, 29, 

10, 11, IS.',. 220, 

. 45 

. 238 
168, 175 
. 54 
. 259 
. 420 
283, 285, 
321, 342 
330, 342 
211, 234 
2:!8, .348 
. 1(;0. 348 
227. 2:!4. 342. 34.S 

2.59, 264, 
305, 318, 
21(), 218 
. 207, 
227, 2.34, 

426 INDEX. 


Bibio albipennis, -8(j 

Bird, Myrtle, 201 

Planting, . 179 

Teacher, 188 

Birds as tree i^lanter.s, 93 

primers, ........... 99 

riight of, 2 

Bittern, American, . 352 

Least, 352 

Blackbird, Cow, 320 

Cruw, . 114, 130, 135, 313, 371 

foud (if 315 

Marsh 319 

Eed-wnigcd fiO, 114, 122, 125, 128, 1.'.0, 131, 319 

food of, 320 

Rusty, 122, 312 

Skimk, 322 

Western Crow 313 

Yellow-headed, .......... 67 

Blackbirds, 2, ()9, 75, 76 

Blissus leuco])terus, ........... 33 

Bluebird, 115, 290, 389 

food of, 291 

Bobolink, 125, 127, 322 

food of, 323 

Bob-white, 60, 325 

food of, 331 

Bonibyx dispar, ............ 64 

Borer, bronze birch, ........... 254 

maple, ............. 254 

Brewer, Thomas M., 347 

Brewster, William, . 13, 218, 243, 267, 269, 331, 338, SfH), 404, 410, 418, 420 

estate of. 403 

Bruchus hibisci, ............ 178 

Bruner, Lawrence, ............ 109 

Bubo virginianus, ............ 367 

Bucculatrix pomifoliella, 252 

Buckham, James, ............ ."43 

Bull bat, 341 

Bunting, Bay-winged, . . . . . . . . . . .311 

Black-throated, .......... 355 

Cow, 320 

Indigo 115, 122, 298 

Burroughs, John 189, 190, 199, 226, 312, 363, 371 

Butterfly, mourning-cloak, .......... 16 

caterpillar of, 227 

parsley, eggs of , . . . . 305 

Cabbage worms, 302 

Canary, Wild, 194, 222 

Cankerworm, fall, ............ 169 

spring, .......... 70, 170 

Cankerworms, . 125, 127-129, 131-135, 140, 141, 175, 181, 188, 191, 195, 210, 

221, 231, 295, 302, .'{Oi 
Carpoca|)sa ponionella, ........... 151 

INDEX. 4:21 


Carpodacus purpurtnis, 220 

Catbird, .... 57, 58, 108, lOU, 115, 122, 125-128, 13!), 181, 283, 371 

food of, 182 

Caterpillars, Aniericau tent, . 117, 118, 12.>, 12(), 127, 130-130, 195, 208, 226, 302, 

304, 343 

brown-tail moth 130-140,184,302,304,370 

forest tent, (ii), 120, 125, 127, 138-140, 175 

gipsy motli, . 03, 125, 12(), 128, 12!», 133-136, 138, 141, 144, 145, 

157, 160, 175, 181, 184, 188, 1!)5, 205, 208, 218, 226, 

333, 360 

oak, . 272 

red-humped, 272 

tussock moth, 120 

Cecidomyia destructor 33 

Cedar Bird 51, 57, 00, 69, 209 

Certhia familiaris auiericana, ......... 177 

Chietura pelagica, 340 

Chapman, Frank M., 81.91,197,250,386 

Chebec, 229 

Chermes larcifolia, ............ 223 

Cherry Bird, 209 

Chewink, 126, 127, 139, 218 

Chickadee, . . .53, 115, 122, 124, 129, 130, 136, 140, 143, 145, 146, 163, 400 

food of, 167-171 

Chinch bug, 27, 28, 33 

Chip Bird, Chipper, Chippy, .......... 303 

Chordeiles virginianus, ........... 341 

Circus liudsonicus, ............ 367 

Cistotliorus stellaris, ........... 350 

Clercy, J. O., 74 

Coccyzus americanus, 265 

erythroptlialmus 263 

Colaptes auratus lutcus, 260 

Coleman, Robert H., . 186 

Colinus virg'inianus, ........... 325 

Colt, ^V. C, 110 

Contopus virens, ............ 231 

Corydalus cornutus, ........... 214 

Cotton worm, ............. 33 

('oturnicvilus .savannarum passerinus, ........ 308 

Cowbird, 320 

Crane, "Whooping, ............ 67 

Creeper, American Brown, .......... 177 

food of 178 

Black and White 144, 191 

Crickets, western, 65, 66 

Crow, . 2, 8-11, 2(), 45-.50, 75, 97, 114, 115, 125, 126, 129, 137, 145, 146, 333, 369 

trapping the, 406 

Cuckoo, Black-billed, . . . 114, 115, 125, 128, 136, 138, 139, 142, 144, 263 

food of 264 

Yellow-billed, . . . (iO. 61, 114, 115. 126, 128, i:?S, 140, 146, 265 

food of, 266 

Curlews, 68, 75 

Cutworms, . 11, 27, 34, 44, 157, IfJO. 181, 183, 287, 291, 295, 315, 316, 318, 330 
Cyanospiza cyanea, ........... 298 



Dearborn, Ned, 
Dendroioa a-stiva, . 
visorsii, . 
virens, . 
Diacrisia vii-giiiica, 
Dike, A. C, . 
Dioinedea immiitabilis, . 
Diplosis tritici, 
Dolison, . . . . 

Doryphora deceinlineata, 
Dove, .... 



Duck, IJlack, . 

Wood, . 
Dutelier, William, . 

Eagle, Bald, . 
Egrets, destruction of, 
Elaphidion villosuni. 
Elliot, D. G., . 
H. W., 
Ells\yortli, J. Lewis, 
Euproctis clirysori'liea, . 
Euvanessa antiopa, 

Falco colunibarius, 

peregrinus anatum, 
Fannin, J., 
Farley, J. A., 
Felt, E. P., . 
Fernald, C. H., 
H. T., 
Field, (r.W., 
Finch, Crimson, 
Chass, . 

food of, . 
Fire Hang Bird, 
Fisher, A. K., 
Fiske, W. F., 
Fitch, Asa, 
Flagg, Wilson. 
Fletcher, James, 

Northern, . 

food of, 
tongue of. 



(iO, 1 

. 45, 48, 61 








. mi 

408, 420 





i;!, 25 



, 324 

. oi;;?. 

418, 419 
















\ 247 

. 142 

24 ( 

), 34(i 







, 220 

(iti, 7i 

), ,S( 

), 20() 


•!, 2,~).5 



t, 287 


_>(>, ]:ii». 


.. 249 


, 260 



•. 211 


5, 235 

IXDEX. 42i> 


Flies, iNlarcli, . 28(i 

^lay, 130 

robber, ............. 239 

Flycatcber, Great-crested, 114, 115, m, 144 

Least, 114, 115, 122, 130, l.W, 141, 143, 229 

food of, ......... . 231 

Forbes, S. A., 17, tiO, 1.55, KiO, ISl, 18;!, 210, 272, 285 

Fiirst, Herman, .17 

Galeoscoptes caroliiiensis, .......... 181 

Galerucella luteola, ........... 207 

Gallinago delicata, ........... 337 

Game birds, destruetion of, . 70, 84, 3,5(i 

Gentry, T. G., 1<I2, 213, 234, 302 

Geolplypis trichas bratdiidactyla 186 

Glover, Townend, ........... 29 251 

Goldfincb, American, 122, 153, 222 

food of, ......... 223 

Goodell, Henry H., ........... 3(5 

Goodmore, S. E., ............ 68 

Gophers, ............. 78 

Gosha^^•k, ............ 02, 36(1 

Grackle, Bronzed, . . . . . . . . . . .114, 313 

Purple, 114, 313 

Kiisty 312 

Grosbeak, Rose-breasted, 52, 115, 122, 125-128, 131, 133, 140, 142, 144, 145, 21G 

food of, 218 

Ground Bird, ............. 299 

Grouse, . 13, 43 

Buffed, • (Jl, 99, 267 

food of, .......... . 271 

food plants, list of, ........ 273 

Grub, white, 10, 7(), 181, 289 

Guano, 82 

Gull, Bro\vn-lieade<l " . . . . 405 

Franklin's, . . 01, fi7 

Gulls, utility of, 80, 81 

Hair Bird, 303 

Hang Nest, 224 

Hares, 78 

Harris, T. W 220 

Harvey, F. L., 60 

Hawk, 96 

Bog, 307 

Chicken, 360 

Coopers, 306 

I>uck, 366 

Fish, 4, 413 

Marsh, 307, 406 

Pigeon, 3(>6 

Red-shouldered 306 

Sharp-shinned, ........... 366 

Sparrow, > .... 366 

Hawks, trapping . 400 

■130 INDEX. 


Heatli Hen, L'(;, 2(j(j 

Heliopliila unipuneta, ........... .W 

Hellgramite, 214 

Helops acreus, ............ 178 

Henshaw, Henry W., . . . . . . . . . . . 41!) 

Henierocampa leucostignia, .......... 120 

Heron, Black-crowned Night, 351 

Great Blue, (iT. 352 

Green, 351 

High-hole, High-holder, 260 

Hill, Henry B., 420 

Hii-undo erythrogaster 345 

Hodge, C. F 2()7, 2(;!), 271, o73 

Hoffman, Ralph, IDl, 111!), :nO 

Hopkins, A. D., 247 

Hornaday, "William T., .154 

Howard, L. O., luo, l,"i4, 102 

Hummingbird, Ruliy-throated, 122, 240 

food of, 242. 244 

Hylocichla fuscescens, ........... 156 

mustelina, ........... 158 

Indian Hen, 3.52 

Indigo Bird, 137, l.S!», 298 

Insects, parasitic, lS-20, 240 

predaceoiis, ........... 17 

transformations of, ........ . 13-15 

lo caterpillar, . 204 

Iridoprocne bicolor, . . ... . . . . . . . 344 

Isia Isabella, 120 

Jay, 12, 94, 404, 40<) 

Blue, ... 11, 114, 115, 120, 120, 132, i:i(), l.SH, 130, 144-140, 300 

Jenks, .J. Y. P 270, 2.S4 

Job, Herbert K., 420 

Judd, Sylvester D., . 121, 17.S, 181-183, 1S(;, 272, 27:^, 278-280, 204, 300, 305, 

320, .327, .■i20-.331 
Junco hyemalis, ............ 300 

Junco, Slate-colored 122, 200, 300 

food of, 301 

Kaltenbach, J. H., .32 

Keyser, Leander S., . 17.">, 185 

Kimball, H. H., 320 

King, F. H. 175, 2(10. 272 

Kingbird, 114, 115, 127, 130, 141, 143, 145, 235 

food of, 238 

Western, ........... 57 

Kingfisher, 202 

Kinglet, Golden-crowned, .......... 161 

Ruby-crowned, 101 

Kinglets, 1(50 

Kii'by and Spence, .......... 30, (i4, 73 

Kirkland, A. H 20, 37, 45, 51, l,3(i. 175, 228, 237, 252, 260, 304 



Laelimis strobi, 
Laniiis borealis, 
Lark, Old-field, 
Larus fraiikliiiii, 
Lawrence, Samuel C, . 
Ledjiard moth, 
Leucarctia acni'a, . 
Lilford, Lord, 
Linnet, Gray, 

Red, . 
Lintner, J. A., 
Liparis monacha, . 
Locust, Kooky mountain, 

ravages of, 
Lyford, C. Allan, . 

Mackay, George H., 
Malacosoma disstria, 
Marlatt, C. L., 
Martin, Bee, . 



food of, 
^Martins, .... 
3Iatliews, Schuyler, 
Claris, Ited, 
^laynard, (_'. J., 
3Ieado\vlark, . 

food of. 

Megascops asio, 
Melanojjhi.s femur-ruhrum , 

Melosjiiza cineria melodin, 

^Merriam, C Hart, . 
Merula migratoria. 
Mice, field, 

^Nlidge, wheat, 
:MiIlais, J. G., 
Millinery trade, 
Minot. H. D., 
Mniotilta varia, 
Mosher, F.H., 
Moth, lirown-tail, . 



fall cankerworm, eggs 

gipsy, . . ;3S, 39, 1 



S, 142 







1.S4, I'.KS, 
•Hi), 124. 

. 162 

. 370 
. 316 

<il, (i7 
. 3!) 
. 107 
. 112 
. 7!l 
. 220 
. 220 
-31, 33, 34 
. 17 
2.S, 34 
(i7-(19, 74 
. lis 

. 418 

. ()ll 
33, 35, 3(i, 39 

. 235 

. 347 

. 347 

. 348 

. 55 
. 265 
. 179 
. 51 
. 316 
. 318 
. 368 
. 34 
. 299 
. 349 
51), 419 

23(), 241 
. 282 

7. 78, 80 
. 367 

. 405 

. 85, 357 

15. 218, 308, 309, 404 

. 191 
'5. 225. 230, 241, 333 
0, 147, 148. 205, 234 

. 109 

35, 151, 2:!1, 250 
. 175 

t2, 205, 214, 231, 232. 234. 238, 
259, 333 


. 214 





Moth, tt'iit faterpillar, eggs of, 

Hunger, H. C, . . . 
Musselmaii, C. C, • 

Nash, C. W., .... 
Nectarojjhora destructor, 
Nighthawk, .... 

food of, 
Nuthatch, (Canada, 


food of 
"White-breasted, . 

food of 
Nuthatches, .... 
Nuttall, Thomas, . 
Nyctala acadica, 
Nyctea nivea, 
Nj'cticorax uj'Cticorax iiievhis. 

Oak pruner, .... 
Oriole, Baltimore, . 70, 114, 11.5, 122, 1 
ft)od of. 
Orioles, ..... 
Osborn, Herbert, 
Osprey, American, 
Otus brachyotus. 
Oven-bird, .... 

food of, . 
Owen, Daniel E., . 
Owl, Acadian, 

American Hawk, . 

American Long-eared, . 

Barn, .... 

Barred, .... 

Great Homed, 

Hoot, .... 



Short-eared, . 

Snowy, .... 

Packard, A. S., . . . 

Paleacrita vernata, 

Palmer, T. S., 

Pandion hilipetus carolinensis, 

Papilio polyxenes, . 

Partridge, .... 

Parusatricapillus, . 

Pea louse, .... 

Peabody Bird, 

Pear tree psylla, 

Pelicot, P., . 

25-128, 131 






127, 1 

44, 45, 2 


20, 2: 

!7, 140, 14: 


1(57, 3(j;) 

. 232 

• . 326 

. 55 

7, 318, 330 

. 304 

(iO, 341 

. 342 

. 176 

115, 176 

. 17(> 

5, 122, 171 


, 163 

M, 251, 263 


, 3.67 

, 351 

>i2-3(). 111, 1 

i)»t, 256 

, 224, 230 

. 226 


69, 108 
. 187 
. 413 
. 78 
U, 141, 144, 146, 188 
. IttO 
42, 45, 51 
. 368 
. 367 
. 368 

79, 368 
. 367 
. 367 
. 367 
. 368 
. 368 

78, 367 
. 367 
. 77 

256, 348 
. 70 

418, 419 
. 413 
. 305 
. 267 
. 163 
. 304 
. 307 

1.53, 377 
. 56 



Pewee, . 



food of, 
Phasianus torquatus. 
Pheasant, Rmg-neoked, 

Philohela minor, 
Phfjebe, . 
Phoibe P>ird. . 

food of, 
Phorodoii huniuli, . 
Piesnia cinerea. 
Pigeon, Passenger, . 
Pigeons, domestic, . 
Piranger erythromelas, 
Pissodes strobi. 
Plant lice, 

eggs of, . 
Platysamia cecropia. 
Plover, . . 

Pooecetes gramineus, 
Porthetria dispar, . 
Porzana Carolina, . 
Poultry, . 

Prairie Chickens, . 
Proctor, Thomas M., 
Psylla pyri. 


Marsh, . 

Rail, Sora, 

Railroad worm, 
Rallus virginianus, 
Raspail, Xavier, 
Redstart, American, 

Reed Bird, 
Reed, C. A., . 
Regulus satrapa. 
Rice Bird, 
Ridgway, Robert, , 
Riley, C. V., •. 
Riley and Howard, 
Riley, Packard, and Tin 
Rijjaria rii)aria, 

American, . 

food of 




)()d of 




1, 12 

2, 124-128 

5, 12 


2, 12! 









131, 1 



. 233 

. 233 



141, 143, 231 
. 232 
. 332 
. 332 
. 333 
. 336 



145, 233, 388 
. 233 
, 234 
. 29 
. 174 


323, 354, 356 
13, 25 
. 212 

. 1()8, 254 



223, 3.39, 344 

. 162, 223 

. 108, 259 

2(). 43, 67, 68 

75, 3:34, 336 

. 311 

. 38 

. 350 

. 85 


68, 75, 76, 84 
. 93 
. 153 


67, 68, 75, 76, 325 

. 316 

. 350 

. 350 

. 231 

. 350 

. 408 



140, 143, 196 

. 197 

. 322 

. 199 

. 161 

. 322 

57, 157, 326 

, 29, 34, 35 

65, 75 

. .•!4, 69, 75 

. 344 

. 9 


is;, 44. 45, 115 



147, 282, 315 
. 285 
. 224 
. 218 
. 158 




llomaine, C. E., 

. 330 

Russell, John S 


. 348 

Sanderson, E. D., . 

. 174 

Sandpiper, Bartramian, . 

. 3.34,336 


. 335 

Sapsucker, Yellow-bellied, 

114, 115, 262 

Sayornis Pb(ebe, 

. 233 

Scale, San Jose, 

. 151 

Scliizonenra lanigera. 

. 203, 252 

Schizura concinna. 

. 272 

Seeds eaten by birds. 

. 281, 2!l(> 

Seton, Ernest Thompson, 

. 343 

Setopbasa ruticilla, 

. 196 

Shaw, Henry, .... 

. 142 

Shrike, Northern, . 

. 370 

Shrubs, frviit-bearing. 

. 374 

Sialia sialis, .... 

. 290 

Silkwoi'ni, American, 

30. los 

Sitta canadensis, 

. 176 

carolinensis, . 

. 171 

Smith, John B., . 

. 107 

Snipe, ..... 

. 43 
. 337 

Snowbird, .... 

. 5(1 

Black, . 

. 300 

Span worm, cm-rant. 

. 112 

Siiarrow, Chipping, 




122, 12(5, 13(i, 

14.1, 303, 398 

food of, 

. 304 

Enjilish, . 'I\, 5(1, 1 

14, 134, 13()-138 

, 140, 

141, 2it2, 2!»4, .•544 

370, 389, 407 


114, 122, 127, 

131, 140, 301 

food of. 

. 302 


. 2f)(j 

Grasshopper, . 

. 308 

food ot 

. 309 

Ground, . 

. 299 


. .309 


5(), 2(Hi 

225, 292, 370 

Savanna, . 

. 310 


. 311 



114, 12,s, i:;4. 

141, 29(1, 299 

Swamp, . 

. 349 
. 306 


food of. 

. 311 

. 312 


. 114 

122, 131, 307 

f( K )( 

I of, . 

. ;iO,s 


. 308 

Sparrows, food of, . 

. 295 

Sphyrapicus varius, 
Spizella nionticola, 

. 262 
. 306 
. 301 
. 303 


. ()5 
94, 3(14, 408 



Stake-driver, . 

Stockwell, J. W., . 
Stiirnella magna, . 
Swallow, Bank, 

food of, 

food (jf, 

food of, 

food of. 
Swift, Chimney, 

food of. 

Tanager, Scarlet, . 

food of. 

Teeter, .... 
Tegetmeier, W. B., 
Telea polyphemus, 
Telematodytes palustris. 
Terns, .... 

eggs of, 
Thayer, Abbott H., 

Theronia melanocephala, 
Thistle Bird, . 
Thompson, ^Maurice, 
Tlioreau, Henry D. , 
Thra.sher, Brown, . 

food of. 
Thrush, Bro^^Ti, 





"Wilson's, . 

food of, 


food of, . 

food of. . 
Tip-\;ii, .... 
Titmice, .... 
Titmouse, Black-rap))ed, 
Torrey, Bradford, . 
Towhee, .... 

food of, 
Toxostoma nif am, . 




!.".. 1 


. 352 

17, 1)5 

3(), 37 

. 316 

(10, 344 

. 344 

. 345 

. 345 

. 340 

01, 346 

. 347 

346, 387 

. 344 

344, 389 

. 345 

. 344 

. 344 


s, 340, 387 

. .340 

144. 14(;. 212 

. 213 

. 211 

. 335 

. 79 

;'.(). 108 

. 350 

. 80 

. 82 

. 418 

. 417 

. 239 

. 222 

. 24)i, 258 

!«!, 299 

ll.-i, i:!4, 179 

. ISO 

. 127, 131, 179 

. 188 

4.-., 1.5G 

. 158 

. 156 

. IMi;. 137. 156 

. 157 

. i;;4. i:!'.l, 158 

. 1.59 

. 108 

. 155 

. 335 

. 17 

. 163 

. 199 

. 122, 143, 218 

. 220 

. 179 



Treadwell, D., 
Treat, Mary, . 
Tree lioppers, buffalo. 
Trees, fruit-bearing, 
Troglodytes aedoii, 
Trouvelot, Leopold, 
Turner, R. E., 
Tyraiinus tyrannus, 


. 4-1 
. 211 
• _ 272 
. 374 
. 292 
oO, ;il, ?.8, 108 
. 74 
. 235 
. 57 

Veerj', 156 

Vines, fruit-bearing. ........... 374 

Vireo, Eed-eyed, . . 51, 115, 122, 125, 127, 12!>, 13()-13S, 140-142, 14<i, 204 

food of, 205 

Solitary 203 

Warbling, 115, 206 

food of 207 

White-eyed, 115, 203 

Yellow-throated, .... 115, 122, 125, 134, 1.38, 140-142, 207 

food of, 208 

Vireo tlavifrons, ............ 207 

gilvus, 206 

olivaceus, ............ 204 

Vulture, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3, 4 



. 260 

Walsh, D. Y, 

. 3.4 

Warbler, Black and White, . 11 

5, 121 

', 124, 125, 127, 1.30, 




141, 191 

food ol 


. 192 



. 102 


71, 122 

Black-throated Blue, 

. 122 



122, 198 


.d of. 

. 200 

Blue-eyed Yellow, . 

. 194 



■), 122, 12(>, 127, 132 




-141, 192 



. 104 






137, 141 

Hooded, . 

. 185 


. 122 

Myrtle, . 



153, 201 

food of. 

. 202 



. 1.31 

-1.33, 1.3!) 


. 18(; 

Parula, . 




132, 308 


. 200 

food of, . 

. 201 


. 200 

Yellow, . 

115, 122, 127, l.!2- 




143, 194 

food of. 

. 105 


. 201 


. 185 

^VarnMl. 15. H., 

. (io. 


2( » i 

2 IS 

245, .-.h^ 



Waxwing, IJulieuiiaii, 
Cedar, • 

food of, 
Webster, F. M., . 
Weed, Clarence M., 
Weed and Dearborn, 
Weevil, Mexican cotton boll, 
pea, . 
wliite pine. 
Wells, D. A.. 
Wlieelock, Irene (i.. 

food of. 
Widmann, Otto, 
Wilson, Alexander, 
Wilson and Bonapurtf. . 
Wood, E. W., 
Woodpecker, Downy. 

food of 


food of. 
Wren, House, . 

food of, . 
Long-billed Marsb, 
Rock, . 

Short-billed Marsh, 
Wright, :Mabel Osgood, . 

Yellow Bird, . 

Summer, . 
Yellow-throat, Maryland, 





•_•!•. 1 

44. 14(1 


LI.-). 1 

food of, 


.-), 1.11. 140. 209 
. -JK) 
2.")'.), o4{) 
), 1(J8, is:!, 202 
1, .-)7, 28'.» 
34, 330 
. 22() 
168, 254 
o(), 73 
. 200 
. 342 
. 343 
. 34S 
244, .320 
. 70 
, 248, 249 

. 2r)0 

. 260 
. 260 

, 24S, 258 
. 2.V.I 
. 260 
. 260 

240, 3.5.-. 

:, ll.-i, 292 

. 203 

.-.4, 350 
. .-)4 
. 350 

oo;; 242 

. 194, 222 

. 194 

. 260 

135, 138, 186 

115, 122, 186 

. 187 

4t;, 247 

Zamelodia ludoviciana, . 
Zonotrichia albicollis.