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Title: Birds of the Rockies
Author: Keyser, Leander S. (Leander Sylvester), 1856-1937
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Author of "In Bird Land," Etc.

With Eight Full-page Plates (four in color)
by LOUIS AGASSIZ FUERTES; Many Illustrations
in the Text by BRUCE HORSFALL, and
Eight Views of Localities from Photographs

With a Complete Check-List
of Colorado Birds

[Illustration: PLATE I

WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER _Sphyrapicus thyroideus_
(Figure on left, male; on right, female)]


Chicago · A. C. McClurg and Co.
Nineteen Hundred and Two

A. C. McClurg & Co.

Published September 27, 1902




 UP AND DOWN THE HEIGHTS                                              19

 INTRODUCTION TO SOME SPECIES                                         31

 BALD PEAKS AND GREEN VALES                                           47

 BIRDS OF THE ARID PLAIN                                              83

 A PRETTY HUMMER                                                     103

 OVER THE DIVIDE AND BACK                                            117

 A ROCKY MOUNTAIN LAKE                                               139

 A BIRD MISCELLANY                                                   149

 PLAINS AND FOOTHILLS                                                177

 RAMBLES ABOUT GEORGETOWN                                            197

 HO! FOR GRAY'S PEAK!                                                223

 PLEASANT OUTINGS                                                    259

 A NOTABLE QUARTETTE                                                 285

 CHECK-LIST OF COLORADO BIRDS                                        307

 INDEX                                                               349



 PLATE                                                       FACING PAGE

       thyroideus_                                        _Frontispiece_

   II. GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE--_Pipilo chlorurus_;
         SPURRED TOWHEE--_Pipilo megalonyx_                           47

  III. LAZULI BUNTING--_Cyanospiza amoena_                            83

   IV. LARK BUNTING--_Calamospiza melanocorys_                       139

    V. LOUISIANA TANAGER--_Pyranga ludoviciana_                      177

   VI. TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE--_Myiadestes townsendii_                 223

  VII. RUDDY DUCK--_Erismatura rubida_                               259

 VIII. BROWN-CAPPED LEUCOSTICTE--_Leucosticte australis_             303


 WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS ("Their grass-lined nests
 by the babbling mountain brook")                                     21

 TURTLE DOVES ("Darting across the turbulent stream")                 44

 PIPITS ("Te-cheer! te-cheer!")                                       50

 PIPITS ("Up over the Bottomless Pit")                                51

 WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW ("Dear Whittier")                              55

 RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET ("The singer elevated his crest
 feathers")                                                           65

 DESERT HORNED LARKS ("They were plentiful in this parched
 region")                                                             84

 HORNED LARK ("It was a dear little thing")                           88

 COYOTE ("Looking back to see whether he were being pursued")        100

 ONE OF THE SEVEN LAKES                                              105

 SUMMIT OF PIKE'S PEAK                                               111

 "PIKE'S PEAK IN CLOUDLAND"                                          114

 CLIFF-SWALLOWS ("On the rugged face of a cliff")                    118

 ROYAL GORGE                                                         123

 PINE SISKINS                                                        128

 WILLOW THRUSH                                                       136

 BREWER'S BLACKBIRDS ("An interesting place for bird study")         139

 YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS ("There the youngsters
 perched")                                                           142

 "FROM THEIR PLACE AMONG THE REEDS"                                  146

 THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN JAY ("Seeking a covert in the
 dense pineries when a storm sweeps down from the mountains")        152

 RAINBOW FALLS                                                       165

 WATER-OUSEL ("Up, up, only a few inches from the dashing
 current")                                                           167

 WATER-OUSEL ("Three hungry mouths which were opened wide to
 receive the food")                                                  171

 "NO SNOWSTORM CAN DISCOURAGE HIM"                                   174

 "THE DARK DOORWAY"                                                  179

 SONG SPARROW ("His songs are bubbling over still with melody
 and glee")                                                          194

 CLEAR CREEK VALLEY                                                  201

 WESTERN ROBIN ("Out-pouring joy")                                   207

 RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS ("Chiselling grubs out of the bark")           211

 PIGEON HAWK ("Watching for quarry")                                 214

 "SOLO SINGING IN THE THRUSH REALM"                                  218

 GRAY'S AND TORREY'S PEAKS                                           245

 PANORAMA FROM GRAY'S PEAK--NORTHWEST                                249

 THISTLE BUTTERFLY                                                   252

 WESTERN WHITE                                                       252

 JUNCO ("Under a roof of green grass")                               255

 SOUTH PARK FROM KENOSHA HILL                                        265

 MAGPIE AND WESTERN ROBINS ("They were hot on his trail")            271

 VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW ("Squatted on the dusty road and took a
 sun-bath")                                                          279

    "'What bird is that? Its song is good,'
        And eager eyes
    Go peering through the dusky wood
        In glad surprise;
    Then late at night when by his fire
        The traveller sits,
    Watching the flame grow brighter, higher,
        The sweet song flits
    By snatches through his weary brain
        To help him rest."

    HELEN HUNT JACKSON: _The Way to Sing_.


With sincere pleasure the author would acknowledge the uniform courtesy
of editors and publishers in permitting him to reprint many of the
articles comprised in this volume, from the various periodicals in which
they first appeared.

He also desires to express his special indebtedness to Mr. Charles E.
Aiken, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, whose contributions to the
ornithology of the West have been of great scientific value, and to
whose large and varied collection of bird-skins the author had frequent
access for the purpose of settling difficult points in bird
identification. This obliging gentleman also spent many hours in
conversation with the writer, answering his numerous questions with the
intelligence of the scientifically trained observer. Lastly, he kindly
corrected some errors into which the author had inadvertently fallen.

While the area covered by the writer's personal observations may be
somewhat restricted, yet the scientific bird-list at the close of the
volume widens the field so as to include the entire avi-fauna of
Colorado so far as known to systematic students. Besides, constant
comparison has been made between the birds of the West and the allied
species and genera of our Central and Eastern States. For this reason
the range of the volume really extends from the Atlantic seaboard to the
parks, valleys, and plateaus beyond the Continental Divide.

L. S. K.

    All are needed by each one;
    Nothing is fair or good alone.
    I thought the sparrow's note from heaven,
    Singing at dawn on the alder bough;
    I brought him home, in his nest, at even;
    He sings the song, but it cheers not now,
    For I did not bring home the river and sky;--
    He sang to my ear,--they sang to my eye.


    Not from his fellows only man may learn
    Rights to compare and duties to discern;
    All creatures and all objects, in degree,
    Are friends and patrons of humanity.
    There are to whom the garden, grove, and field
    Perpetual lessons of forbearance yield;
    Who would not lightly violate the grace
    The lowliest flower possesses in its place;
    Nor shorten the sweet life, too fugitive,
    Which nothing less than infinite Power could give.


    Sounds drop in visiting from everywhere--
    The bluebird's and the robin's trill are there,
    Their sweet liquidity diluted some
    By dewy orchard spaces they have come.


    Even in the city, I
    Am ever conscious of the sky;
    A portion of its frame no less
    Than in the open wilderness.
    The stars are in my heart by night,
    I sing beneath the opening light,
    As envious of the bird; I live
    Upon the payment, yet I give
    My soul to every growing tree
    That in the narrow ways I see.
    My heart is in the blade of grass
    Within the courtyard where I pass;
    And the small, half-discovered cloud
    Compels me till I cry aloud.
    I am the wind that beats the walls
    And wander trembling till it falls;
    The snow, the summer rain am I,
    In close communion with the sky.




To study the birds from the level plains to the crests of the peaks
swimming in cloudland; to note the species that are peculiar to the
various altitudes, as well as those that range from the lower areas to
the alpine heights; to observe the behavior of all the birds encountered
in the West, and compare their habits, songs, and general deportment
with those of correlated species and genera in the East; to learn as
much as possible about the migratory movements up and down the mountains
as the seasons wax and wane,--surely that would be an inspiring prospect
to any student of the feathered fraternity. For many years one of the
writer's most cherished desires has been to investigate the bird life of
the Rocky Mountains. In the spring of 1899, and again in 1901, fortune
smiled upon him in the most genial way, and--in a mental state akin to
rapture, it must be confessed--he found himself rambling over the plains
and mesas and through the deep cañons, and clambering up the dizzy
heights, in search of winged rarities.

In this chapter attention will be called to a few general facts relative
to bird life in the Rockies, leaving the details for subsequent recital.
As might be expected, the towering elevations influence the movements of
the feathered tenants of the district. There is here what might be
called a vertical migration, aside from the usual pilgrimages north and
south which are known to the more level portions of North America. The
migratory journeys up and down the mountains occur with a regularity
that amounts to a system; yet so far as regards these movements each
species must be studied for itself, each having manners that are all its

In regions of a comparatively low altitude many birds, as is well known,
hie to the far North to find the proper climatic conditions in which to
rear their broods and spend their summer vacation, some of them going to
the subarctic provinces and others beyond. How different among the
sublime heights of the Rockies! Here they are required to make a journey
of only a few miles, say from five to one hundred or slightly more,
according to the locality selected, up the defiles and cañons or over
the ridges, to find the conditions as to temperature, food, nesting
sites, etc., that are precisely to their taste. The wind blowing down to
their haunts from the snowy summits carries on its wings the same
keenness and invigoration that they would find if they went to British
America, where the breezes would descend from the regions of snow and
ice beyond the Arctic Circle.

[Illustration: _White-Crowned Sparrows_]

It will add a little spice of detail if we take a concrete case. There
is the handsome and lyrical white-crowned sparrow; in my native State,
Ohio, this bird is only a migrant, passing for the summer far up into
Canada to court his mate and rear his family. Now remember that Colorado
is in the same latitude as Ohio; but the Buckeye State, famous as it is
for furnishing presidents, has no lofty elevations, and therefore no
white-crowns as summer residents. However, Colorado may claim this
distinction, as well as that of producing gold and silver, and
furnishing some of the sublimest scenery on the earth; for on the side
of Pike's Peak, in a green, well-watered valley just below timber-line,
I was almost thrown into transports at finding the white-crowns,
listening to their rhythmic choruses, and discovering their grass-lined
nests by the side of the babbling mountain brook. Altitude accomplishes
for these birds what latitude does for their brothers and sisters of
eastern North America.

There is almost endless variety in the avi-faunal life of the Rockies.
Some species breed far above timber-line in the thickets that invade the
open valleys, or clamber far up the steep mountain sides. Others ascend
still higher, building their nests on the bald summits of the loftiest
peaks at an altitude of fourteen thousand feet and more, living all
summer long in an atmosphere that is as rare as it is refreshing and
pure. Among these alpine dwellers may be mentioned the brown-capped
leucostictes, which shall be accorded the attention they deserve in
another chapter. Then, there are species which have representatives both
on the plains and far up in the mountain parks and valleys, such as the
western robin, the western meadow-lark, and the mountain bluebird.

In this wonderful country there is to be observed every style of
migratory habit. A twofold migrating current must be noticed. While
there is a movement up and down the mountain heights, there is at the
same time a movement north and south, making the migratory system a
perfect network of lines of travel. Some species summer in the
mountains and winter on the plains; others summer in the mountains pass
down to the plains in the autumn, then wing their way farther south into
New Mexico, Mexico, Central America, and even South America, where they
spend the winter, reversing this order on their return to the north in
the spring; others simply pass through this region in their vernal and
autumnal pilgrimages, stopping for a short time, but spending neither
the summer nor the winter in this latitude; still others come down from
the remote north on the approach of autumn, and winter in this State,
either on the plains or in the sheltering ravines and forests of the
mountains, and then return to the north in the spring; and, lastly,
there are species that remain here all the year round, some of them in
the mountains, others on the plains, and others again in both
localities. A number of hardy birds--genuine feathered Norsemen--brave
the arctic winters of the upper mountain regions, fairly revelling in
the swirling snow-storms, and it must be a terrific gale indeed that
will drive them down from their favorite habitats toward the plains.

Does the avi-fauna of the Rocky Mountain district differ widely from
that of the Eastern States? The reply must be made in the affirmative.
Therefore the first work of the bird-student from the East will be that
of a tyro--the identification of species. For this purpose he must have
frequent recourse to the useful manuals of Coues and Ridgway, and to the
invaluable brochure of Professor Wells W. Cooke on the "Birds of
Colorado." In passing, it may be said that the last-named gentleman
might almost be called the Colorado Audubon or Wilson.

In studying the birds of the West, one should note that there are
western subspecies and varieties, which differ in some respects, though
not materially, from their eastern cousins; for instance, the western
robin, the western chipping sparrow, the western lark sparrow, and the
western nighthawk. Besides, intermediate forms are to be met with and
classified, the eastern types shading off in a very interesting process
into the western. It would be impossible for any one but a systematist
with the birds in hand to determine where the intermediate forms become
either typical easterners or typical westerners.

Most interesting of all to the rambler on avian lore intent is the fact
that there are many species and genera that are peculiar to the West,
and therefore new to him, keeping him constantly on the _qui vive_. In
Colorado you will look in vain for the common blue jay, so abundant in
all parts of the East; but you will be more than compensated by the
presence of seven other species of the jay household. The woodpeckers of
the West (with one exception) are different from those of the East, and
so are the flycatchers, the grosbeaks, the orioles, the tanagers, the
humming-birds, and many of the sparrows. Instead of the purple and
bronzed grackles (the latter are sometimes seen on the plains of
Colorado, but are not common), the Rockies boast of Brewer's blackbird,
whose habits are not as prosaic as his name would indicate. "Jim Crow"
shuns the mountains for reasons satisfactory to himself; not so the
magpie, the raven, and that mischief-maker, Clark's nutcracker. All of
which keeps the bird-lover from the East in an ecstasy of surprises
until he has become accustomed to his changed environment.

One cannot help falling into the speculative mood in view of the sharp
contrasts between the birds of the East and those of the West. Why does
the hardy and almost ubiquitous blue jay studiously avoid the western
plains and mountains? Why do not the magpie and the long-crested jay
come east? What is there that prevents the indigo-bird from taking up
residence in Colorado, where his pretty western cousin, the lazuli
finch, finds himself so much at home? Why is the yellow-shafted flicker
of the East replaced in the West by the red-shafted flicker? These
questions are more easily asked than answered. From the writer's present
home in eastern Kansas it is only six hundred miles to the foot of the
Rockies; yet the avi-fauna of eastern Kansas is much more like that of
the Eastern and New England States than that of the Colorado region.

Perhaps the reason is largely, if not chiefly, physiological. Evidently
there are birds that flourish best in a rare, dry atmosphere, while
others naturally thrive in an atmosphere that is denser and more humid.
The same is true of people. Many persons find the climate of Colorado
especially adapted to their needs; indeed, to certain classes of
invalids it is a veritable sanitarium. Others soon learn that it is
detrimental to their health. Mayhap the same laws obtain in the bird

The altitude of my home is eight hundred and eighty feet above
sea-level; that of Denver, Colorado, six thousand one hundred and sixty,
making a difference of over five thousand feet, which may account for
the absence of many eastern avian forms in the more elevated districts.
Some day the dissector of birds may find a real difference in the
physiological structure of the eastern and western meadow-larks. If so,
it is to be hoped he will at once publish his discoveries for the
satisfaction of all lovers of birds.

If one had time and opportunity, some intensely interesting experiments
might be tried. Suppose an eastern blue jay should be carried to the top
of Pike's Peak, or Gray's, and then set free, how would he fare? Would
the muscles and tendons of his wings have sufficient strength to bear
him up in the rarefied atmosphere? One may easily imagine that he would
go wabbling helplessly over the granite boulders, unable to lift himself
more than a few feet in the air, while the pipit and the leucosticte,
inured to the heights, would mount up to the sky and shout "Ha! ha!" in
good-natured raillery at the blue tenderfoot. And would the feathered
visitor feel a constriction in his chest and be compelled to gasp for
breath, as the human tourists invariably do? It is even doubtful whether
any eastern bird would be able to survive the changed meteorological
conditions, Nature having designed him for a different environment.


It was night when I found lodgings in the picturesque village of
Manitou, nestling at the foot of the lower mountains that form the
portico to Pike's Peak. Early the next morning I was out for a stroll
along the bush-fringed mountain brook which had babbled me a serenade
all night. To my delight, the place was rife with birds, the first to
greet me being robins, catbirds, summer warblers, and warbling vireos,
all of which, being well known in the East, need no description, but are
mentioned here only to show the reader that some avian species are
common to both the East and the West.

But let me pause to pay a little tribute to the brave robin redbreast.
Of course, here he is called the "western robin." His distribution is an
interesting scientific fact. I found him everywhere--on the arid plains
and mesas, in the solemn pines of the deep gulches and passes, and among
the scraggy trees bordering on timber-line, over ten thousand feet above
sea-level. In Colorado the robins are designated as "western," forms by
the system-makers, but, even though called by a modified title, they
deport themselves, build their nests, and sing their "cheerily,
cheerily, cheer up," just as do their brothers and sisters of the land
toward the rising sun. If there is any difference, their songs are not
so loud and ringing, and their breasts not quite so ruddy as are those
of the eastern types. Perhaps the incessant sunshine of Colorado
bleaches out the tints somewhat.

But in my ante-breakfast stroll at Manitou I soon stumbled upon
feathered strangers. What was this little square-shouldered bird that
kept uttering a shrill scream, which he seemed to mistake for a song? It
was the western wood-pewee. Instead of piping the sweet, pensive
"Pe-e-e-o-we-e-e-e" of the woodland bird of the Eastern States, this
western swain persists in ringing the changes hour by hour upon that
piercing scream, which sounds more like a cry of anguish than a song. At
Buena Vista, where these birds are superabundant, their morning concerts
were positively painful. One thing must be said, however, in defence of
the western wood-pewee--he means well.

Another acquaintance of my morning saunter was the debonair Arkansas
goldfinch, which has received its bunglesome name, not from the State of
Arkansas, but from the Arkansas River, dashing down from the mountains
and flowing eastwardly through the southern part of Colorado. Most
nattily this little bird wears his black cap, his olive-green frock,
and his bright yellow vest. You will see at once that he dresses
differently from the American goldfinch, so well known in the East, and,
for that matter, just as well known on the plains of Colorado, where
both species dwell in harmony. There are some white markings on the
wings of _Spinus psaltria_ that give them a gauze-like appearance when
they are rapidly fluttered.

His song and some of his calls bear a close resemblance to those of the
common goldfinch, but he is by no means a mere duplicate of that bird;
he has an individuality of his own. While his flight is undulatory, the
waviness is not so deeply and distinctly marked; nor does he sing a
cheery cradle-song while swinging through the ether, although he often
utters a series of unmusical chirps. One of the most pleasingly pensive
sounds heard in my western rambles was the little coaxing call of this
bird, whistled mostly by the female, I think. No doubt it is the tender
love talk of a young wife or mother, which may account for its
surpassing sweetness.

Every lover of feathered kind is interested in what may be called
comparative ornithology, and therefore I wish to speak of another
western form and its eastern prototype--Bullock's oriole, which in
Colorado takes the place of the Baltimore oriole known east of the
plains all the way to the Atlantic coast. However, Bullock's is not
merely a variety or subspecies, but a well-defined species of the oriole
family, his scientific title being _Icterus bullocki_.

Like our familiar Lord Baltimore, he bravely bears black and orange; but
in _bullocki_ the latter color invades the sides of the neck, head, and
forehead, leaving only a small black bow for the throat and a narrow
black stripe running back over the crown and down the back of the neck;
whereas in _Icterus galbula_ the entire head and neck are black.
Brilliant as Bullock's oriole is, he does not seem to be anxious to
display his fineries, for he usually makes it a point to keep himself
ensconced behind a clump of foliage, so that, while you may hear a
desultory piping in the trees, apparently inviting your confidence, it
will be a long time before you can get more than a provoking glimpse of
the jolly piper himself. "My gorgeous apparel was not made for parade,"
seems to be his modest disclaimer.

He is quite a vocalist. Here is a quotation from my lead-pencil, dashes
and all: "Bullock's oriole--fine singer--voice stronger than orchard
oriole's--song not quite so well articulated or so elaborate, but louder
and more resonant--better singer than the Baltimore." It might be added
that Bullock's, like the orchard, but unlike the Baltimore, pipes a real
tune, with something of a theme running through its intermittent
outbursts. The plumage of the young bird undergoes some curious
changes, and what I took to be the year-old males seemed to be the most
spirited musicians.

Maurice Thompson's tribute to the Baltimore oriole will apply to that
bird's western kinsman. He calls him:--

    "Athlete of the air--
    Of fire and song a glowing core;"

and then adds, with tropical fervor:

    "A hot flambeau on either wing
      Rimples as you pass me by;
    'T is seeing flame to hear you sing,
      'T is hearing song to see you fly.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "When flowery hints foresay the berry,
      On spray of haw and tuft of brier,
    Then, wandering incendiary,
      You set the maple swamps afire!"

Many nests of Bullock's oriole rewarded my slight search. They are
larger and less compactly woven than the Baltimore's, and have a woolly
appearance exteriorly, as if the down of the Cottonwood trees had been
wrought into the fabric. Out on the plains I counted four dangling
nests, old and new, on one small limb; but that, of course, was unusual,
there being only one small clump of trees within a radius of many

In the vicinity of Manitou many trips were taken by the zealous
pedestrian. Some of the dry, steep sides of the first range of mountains
were hard climbing, but it was necessary to make the effort in order to
discover their avian resources. One of the first birds met with on these
unpromising acclivities was the spurred towhee of the Rockies. In his
attire he closely resembles the towhee, or "chewink," of the East, but
has as an extra ornament a beautiful sprinkling of white on his back and
wings, which makes him look as if he had thrown a gauzy mantle of silver
over his shoulders.

But his song is different from our eastern towhee's. My notes say that
it is "a cross between the song of the chewink and that of dickcissel,"
and I shall stand by that assertion until I find good reason to disown
it--should that time ever come. The opening syllabication is like
dickcissel's; then follows a trill of no specially definable character.
There are times when he sings with more than his wonted force, and it is
then that his tune bears the strongest likeness to the eastern towhee's.
But his alarm-call! It is no "chewink" at all, but almost as close a
reproduction of a cat's mew as is the catbird's well-known call. Such
crosses and anomalies does this country produce!

On the arid mountain sides among the stunted bushes, cactus plants,
sand, and rocks, this quaint bird makes his home, coming down into the
valleys to drink at the tinkling brooks and trill his roundelays. Many,
many times, as I was following a deep fissure in the mountains, his
ditty came dripping down to me from some spot far up the steep mountain
side--a little cascade of song mingling with the cascades of the brooks.
The nests are usually placed under a bush on the sides of the mesas and

And would you believe it? Colorado furnishes another towhee, though why
he should have been put into the Pipilo group by the ornithologists is
more than I can tell at this moment. He has no analogue in the East.
True, he is a bird of the bushes, running sometimes like a little deer
from one clump to another; but if you should see him mount a boulder or
a bush, and hear him sing his rich, theme-like, finely modulated song,
you would aver that he is closer kin to the thrushes or thrashers than
to the towhees. There is not the remotest suggestion of the towhee
minstrelsy in his prolonged and well-articulated melody. It would be
difficult to find a finer lyrist among the mountains.

But, hold! I have neglected to introduce this pretty Mozart of the West.
He is known by an offensive and inapt title--the green-tailed towhee.
Much more appropriately might he be called the chestnut-crowned towhee,
for his cope is rich chestnut, and the crest is often held erect, making
him look quite cavalier-like. It is the most conspicuous part of his
toilet. His upper parts are grayish-green, becoming slightly deeper
green on the tail, from which fact he derives his common name. His white
throat and chin are a further diagnostic mark. The bright yellow of the
edge of the wings, under coverts and axillaries is seldom seen, on
account of the extreme wariness of the bird.

In most of the dry and bushy places I found him at my elbow--or, rather,
some distance away, but in evidence by his mellifluous song. Let me
enumerate the localities in which I found my little favorite: Forty
miles out on the plain among some bushes of a shallow dip; among the
foothills about Colorado Springs and Manitou; on many of the open bushy
slopes along the cog-road leading to Pike's Peak, but never in the dark
ravines or thick timber; among the bushes just below timber-line on the
southern acclivity of the peak; everywhere around the village of Buena
Vista; about four miles below Leadville; and, lastly, beyond the range
at Red Cliff and Glenwood.[1]

    [1] This list was greatly enlarged in my second trip to Colorado in

The song, besides its melodious quality, is full of expression. In this
respect it excels the liquid chansons of the mountain hermit thrush,
which is justly celebrated as a minstrel, but which does not rehearse a
well-defined theme. The towhee's song is sprightly and cheerful, wild
and free, has the swing of all outdoors, and is not pitched to a minor
key. It gives you the impression that a bird which sings so blithesome a
strain must surely be happy in his domestic relations.

Among the Rockies the black-headed grosbeak is much in evidence, and so
is his cheerful, good-tempered song, which is an exact counterpart of
the song of the rose-breasted grosbeak, his eastern kinsman. Neither the
rose-breast nor the cardinal is to be found in Colorado, but they are
replaced by the black-headed and blue grosbeaks, the former dwelling
among the lower mountains, the latter occurring along the streams of the
plains. Master black-head and his mate are partial to the scrub oaks for
nesting sites. I found one nest with four callow bantlings in it, but,
much to my grief and anger, at my next call it had been robbed of its
precious treasures. A few days later, not far from the same place, a
female was building a nest, and I am disposed to believe that she was
the mother whose children had been kidnapped.

Instead of the scarlet and summer tanagers, the Rocky Mountain region is
honored with that beautiful feathered gentleman, the Louisiana tanager,
most of whose plumage is rich, glossy yellow, relieved by black on the
wings, back, and tail; while his most conspicuous decoration is the
scarlet or crimson tinting of his head and throat, shading off into the
yellow of the breast. These colors form a picturesque combination,
especially if set against a background of green. The crimson staining
gives him the appearance of having washed his face in some bright-red
pigment, and like an awkward child, blotched his bosom with it in the
absence of a napkin.

So far as I could analyze it, there is no appreciable difference between
his lyrical performances and those of the scarlet tanager, both being a
kind of lazy, drawling song, that is slightly better than no bird music
at all. One nest was found without difficulty. It was placed on one of
the lower branches of a pine tree by the roadside at the entrance to
Engleman's Cañon. As a rule, the males are not excessively shy, as so
many of the Rocky Mountain birds are. The tanagers were seen far up in
the mountains, as well as among the foothills, and also at Red Cliff and
Glenwood on the western side of the Divide.

A unique character in feathers, one that is peculiar to the West, is the
magpie, who would attract notice wherever he should deign to live, being
a sort of grand sachem of the outdoor aviary. In some respects the
magpies are striking birds. In flight they present a peculiar
appearance; in fact, they closely resemble boys' kites with their long,
slender tails trailing in the breeze. I could not avoid the impression
that their tails were superfluous appendages, but no doubt they serve
the birds a useful purpose as rudders and balancing-poles. The magpie
presents a handsome picture as he swings through the air, the iridescent
black gleaming in the sun, beautifully set off with snowy-white
trimmings on both the upper and lower surfaces of the wings. On the
perch or on the wing he is an ornament to any landscape. As to his
voice--well, he is a genuine squawker. There is not, so far as I have
observed, a musical cord in his larynx,[2] and I am sure he does not
profess to be a musical genius, so that my criticism will do him no
injury. All the use he has for his voice seems to be to call his fellows
to a new-found banquet, or give warning of the approach of an interloper
upon his chosen preserves. His cry, if you climb up to his nest, is
quite pitiful, proving that he has real love for his offspring. Perhaps
the magpies have won their chief distinction as architects. Their nests
are really remarkable structures, sometimes as large as fair-sized
tubs, the framework composed of good-sized sticks, skilfully plaited
together, and the cup lined with grass and other soft material, making a
cosey nursery for the infantile magpies. Then the nest proper is roofed
over, and has an entrance to the apartment on either side. When you
examine the structure closely, you find that it fairly bristles with dry
twigs and sticks, and it is surprising how large some of the branches
are that are braided into the domicile. All but one of the many nests I
found were deserted, for my visit was made in June, and the birds, as a
rule, breed earlier than that month. Some were placed in bushes, some in
willow and cottonwood trees, and others in pines; and the birds
themselves were almost ubiquitous, being found on the plains, among the
foothills, and up in the mountains as far as the timber-line, not only
close to human neighborhoods, but also in the most inaccessible

    [2] In this volume the author has made use of the terminology
    usually employed in describing bird music. Hence such words as
    "song," "chant," "vocal cords," etc., are of frequent occurrence. In
    reality the writer's personal view is that the birds are whistlers,
    pipers, fluters, and not vocalists, none of the sounds they produce
    being real voice tones. The reader who may desire to go into this
    matter somewhat technically is referred to Maurice Thompson's
    chapter entitled "The Anatomy of Bird-Song" in his "Sylvan Secrets,"
    and the author's article, "Are Birds Singers or Whistlers?" in "Our
    Animal Friends" for June, 1901.

In one of my excursions along a stream below Colorado Springs, one nest
was found that was still occupied by the brooding bird. It was a bulky
affair, perhaps half as large as a bushel basket, placed in the crotch
of a tree about thirty feet from the ground. Within this commodious
structure was a globular apartment which constituted the nest proper.
Thus it was roofed over, and had an entrance at each side, so that the
bird could go into his house at one doorway and out at the other, the
room being too small to permit of his turning around in it. Thinking the
nest might be occupied, in a tentative way I tossed a small club up
among the branches, when to my surprise a magpie sprang out of the nest,
and, making no outcry, swung around among the trees, appearing quite
nervous and shy. When she saw me climbing the tree, she set up such a
heart-broken series of cries that I permitted sentiment to get the
better of me, and clambered down as fast as I could, rather than prolong
her distress. Since then I have greatly regretted my failure to climb up
to the nest and examine its contents, which might have been done without
the least injury to the owner's valuable treasures. A nestful of
magpie's eggs or bairns would have been a gratifying sight to my
bird-hungry eyes.

One bird which is familiar in the East as well as the West deserves
attention on account of its choice of haunts. I refer to the turtle
dove, which is much hardier than its mild and innocent looks would seem
to indicate. It may be remarked, in passing, that very few birds are
found in the deep cañons and gorges leading up to the higher localities;
but the doves seem to constitute the one exception to the rule; for I
saw them in some of the gloomiest defiles through which the train
scurried in crossing the mountains. For instance, in the cañon of the
Arkansas River many of them were seen from the car window, a pair just
beyond the Royal Gorge darting across the turbulent stream to the other
side. A number were also noticed in the darkest portions of the cañon of
the Grand River, where one would think not a living creature could coax
subsistence from the bare rocks and beetling cliffs. Turtle doves are so
plentiful in the West that their distribution over every available
feeding ground seems to be a matter of social and economic necessity.

[Illustration: "_Darting across the turbulent stream_"

_Turtle Doves_]


[Illustration: PLATE II

GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE--_Pipilo chlorurus_

SPURRED TOWHEE--_Pipilo megalonyx_

One of my chief objects in visiting the Rockies was to ascend Pike's
Peak from Manitou, and make observations on the birds from the base to
the summit. A walk one afternoon up to the Halfway House and back--the
Halfway House is only about one-third of the way to the top--convinced
me that to climb the entire distance on foot would be a useless
expenditure of time and effort. An idea struck me: Why not ride up on
the cog-wheel train, and then walk down, going around by some of the
valleys and taking all the time needed for observations on the
avi-faunal tenantry? That was the plan pursued, and an excellent one it

When the puffing cog-wheel train landed me on the summit, I was fresh
and vigorous, and therefore in excellent condition physically and
mentally to enjoy the scenery and also to ride my hobby at will over the
realm of cloudland. The summit is a bald area of several acres, strewn
with immense fragments of granite, with not a spear of grass visible.
One of the signal-station men asked a friend who had just come up from
the plain, "Is there anything green down below? I'd give almost
anything to see a green patch of some kind." There was a yearning strain
in his tones that really struck me as pathetic. Here were visitors
revelling in the magnificence of the panorama, their pulses tingling and
their feelings in many cases too exalted for expression; but those whose
business or duty it was to remain on the summit day after day soon found
life growing monotonous, and longed to set their eyes on some patch of
verdure. To the visitors, however, who were in hale physical condition,
the panorama of snow-clad ranges and isolated peaks was almost
overwhelming. In the gorges and sheltered depressions of the old
mountain's sides large fields of snow still gleamed in the sun and
imparted to the air a frosty crispness.

When the crowd of tourists, after posing for their photographs, had
departed on the descending car, I walked out over the summit to see what
birds, if any, had selected an altitude of fourteen thousand one hundred
and forty-seven feet above sea-level for their summer home. Below me, to
the east, stretched the gray plains running off to the skyline, while
the foothills and lower mountains, which had previously appeared so high
and rugged and difficult of access, now seemed like ant-hills crouching
at the foot of the giant on whose crown I stood. Off to the southwest,
the west, and the northwest, the snowy ranges towered, iridescent in
the sunlight. In contemplating this vast, overawing scene, I almost
forgot my natural history, and wanted to feast my eyes for hours on its
ever-changing beauty; but presently I was brought back to a
consciousness of my special vocation by a sharp chirp. Was it a bird, or
only one of those playful little chipmunks that abound in the Rockies?
Directly there sounded out on the serene air another ringing chirp, this
time overhead, and, to my delight and surprise, a little bird swung over
the summit, then out over the edge of the cliff, and plunged down into
the fearsome abyss of the "Bottomless Pit." Other birds of the same
species soon followed his example, making it evident that this was not a
birdless region. Unable to identify the winged aeronauts, I clambered
about over the rocks of the summit for a while, then slowly made my way
down the southern declivity of the mountain for a short distance. Again
my ear was greeted with that loud, ringing chirp, and now the bird
uttering it obligingly alighted on a stone not too far away to be seen
distinctly through my binocular. Who was the little waif that had chosen
this sky-invading summit for its summer habitat? At first I mistook it
for a horned lark, and felt so sure my decision was correct that I did
not look at the bird as searchingly as I should have done, thereby
learning a valuable lesson in thoroughness. The error was corrected by
my friend, Mr. Charles E. Aiken, of Colorado Springs, who has been of
not a little service in determining and classifying the avian fauna of
Colorado. My new-found friend (the feathered one, I mean) was the
American pipit, which some years ago was known as the tit-lark.

[Illustration: _Pipits_

"_Te-cheer! Te-cheer!_"]

"Te-cheer! te-cheer! te-cheer!" (accent strong on the second syllable)
the birds exclaimed in half-petulant remonstrance at my intrusion as I
hobbled about over the rocks. Presently one of them darted up into the
air; up, up, up, he swung in a series of oblique leaps and circles, this
way and that, until he became a mere speck in the sky, and then
disappeared from sight in the cerulean depths beyond. All the while I
could hear his emphatic and rapidly repeated call, "Te-cheer! te-cheer!"
sifting down out of the blue canopy. How long he remained aloft in "his
watch-tower in the skies" I do not know, for one cannot well count
minutes in such exciting circumstances, but it seemed a long time. By
and by the call appeared to be coming nearer, and the little aeronaut
swept down with a swiftness that made my blood tingle, and alighted on a
rock as lightly as a snowflake. Afterwards a number of other pipits
performed the same aerial exploit. It was wonderful to see them rise
several hundred feet into the rarefied atmosphere over an abyss so deep
that it has been named the "Bottomless Pit."

[Illustration: _Pipits_

"_Up over the Bottomless Pit_"]

The pipits frequently flitted from rock to rock, teetering their slender
bodies like sandpipers, and chirping their disapproval of my presence.
They furnished some evidence of having begun the work of nest
construction, although no nests were found, as it was doubtless still
too early in the season. In some respects the pipits are extremely
interesting, for, while many of them breed in remote northern latitudes,
others select the loftiest summits of the Rockies for summer homes,
where they rear their broods and scour the alpine heights in search of
food. The following interesting facts relative to them in this alpine
country are gleaned from Professor Cooke's pamphlet on "The Birds of

    In migration they are common throughout the State, but breed only on
    the loftiest mountains. They arrive on the plains from the South
    about the last of April, tarry for nearly a month, then hie to the
    upper mountain parks, stopping there to spend the month of May. By
    the first of June they have ascended above timber-line to their
    summer home amid the treeless slopes and acclivities. Laying begins
    early in July, as soon as the first grass is started. Most of the
    nests are to be found at an elevation of twelve thousand to thirteen
    thousand feet, the lowest known being one on Mount Audubon,
    discovered on the third of July with fresh eggs. During the breeding
    season these birds never descend below timber-line. The young birds
    having left the nest, in August both old and young gather in flocks
    and range over the bald mountain peaks in quest of such dainties as
    are to the pipit taste. Some of them remain above timber-line until
    October although most of them have by that time gone down into the
    upper parks of the mountains. During this month they descend to the
    plains, and in November return to their winter residence in the

While watching the pipits, I had another surprise. On a small, grassy
area amid the rocks, about a hundred feet below the summit, a
white-crowned sparrow was hopping about on the ground, now leaping upon
a large stone, now creeping into an open space under the rocks, all the
while picking up some kind of seed or nut or insect. It was very
confiding, coming close to me, but vouchsafing neither song nor chirp.
Farther on I shall have more to say about these tuneful birds, but at
this point it is interesting to observe that they breed abundantly
among the mountains at a height of from eight thousand to eleven
thousand feet, while the highest nest known to explorers was twelve
thousand five hundred feet above the sea. One of Colorado's bird men has
noted the curious fact that they change their location between the first
and second broods--that is, in a certain park at an elevation of eight
thousand feet they breed abundantly in June, and then most of them leave
that region and become numerous among the stunted bushes above
timber-line, where they raise a second brood. It only remains to be
proved that the birds in both localities are the same individuals, which
is probable.

On a shoulder of the mountain below me, a flock of ravens alighted on
the ground, walked about awhile, uttered their hoarse croaks, and then
took their departure, apparently in sullen mood. I could not tell
whether they croaked "Nevermore!" or not.

Down the mountain side I clambered, occasionally picking a beautiful
blossom from the many brilliant-hued clusters and inhaling its
fragrance. Indeed, sometimes the breeze was laden with the aroma of
these flowers, and in places the slope looked like a cultivated garden.
The only birds seen that afternoon above timber-line were those already
mentioned. What do the birds find to eat in these treeless and shrubless
altitudes? There are many flies, some grasshoppers, bumble-bees,
beetles, and other insects, even in these arctic regions, dwelling among
the rocks and in the short grass below them watered by the melting

At about half-past four in the afternoon I reached the timber-line,
indicated by a few small, scattering pines and many thick clumps of
bushes. Suddenly a loud, melodious song brought me to a standstill. It
came from the bushes at the side of the trail. Although I turned aside
and sought diligently, I could not find the shy lyrist. Another song of
the same kind soon reached me from a distance. Farther down the path a
white-crowned sparrow appeared, courting his mate. With crown-feathers
and head and tail erect, he would glide to the top of a stone, then down
into the grass where his lady-love sat; up and down, up and down he
scuttled again and again. My approach put an end to the picturesque
little comedy. The lady scurried away into hiding, while the little
prince with the snow-white diadem mounted to the top of a bush and
whistled the very strain that had surprised me so a little while before,
farther up the slope. Yes, I had stumbled into the summer home of the
white-crowned sparrow, which on the Atlantic coast and the central
portions of the American continent breeds far in the North.

It was not long before I was regaled with a white-crown vesper concert.
From every part of the lonely valley the voices sounded. And what did
they say? "Oh, de-e-e-ar, de-e-ar, Whittier, Whittier," sometimes
adding, in low, caressing tones, "Dear Whittier"--one of the most
melodious tributes to the Quaker poet I have ever heard. Here I also saw
my first mountain bluebird, whose back and breast are wholly blue, there
being no rufous at all in his plumage. He was feeding a youngster
somewhere among the snags. A red-shafted flicker flew across the vale
and called, "Zwick-ah! zwick-ah!" and then pealed out his loud call just
like the eastern yellow-shafted high-holder. Why the Rocky Mountain
region changes the lining of the flicker's wings from gold to
crimson--who can tell? A robin--the western variety--sang his
"Cheerily," a short distance up the hollow, right at the boundary of the

[Illustration: "_Dear Whittier_"

_White-Crowned Sparrow_]

About half-past five I found myself a few hundred feet below timber-line
in the lone valley, which was already beginning to look shadowy and a
little uncanny, the tall ridges that leaped up at the right obscuring
the light of the declining sun. My purpose had been to find
accommodations at a mountaineer's cabin far down the valley, in the
neighborhood of the Seven Lakes; but I had tarried too long on the
mountain, absorbed in watching the birds, and the danger now was that,
if I ventured farther down the hollow, I should lose my way and be
compelled to spend the night alone in this deserted place. I am neither
very brave nor very cowardly; but, in any case, such a prospect was not
pleasing to contemplate. Besides, I was by no means sure of being able
to secure lodgings at the mountaineer's shanty, even if I should be able
to find it in the dark. There seemed to be only one thing to do--to
climb back to the signal station on the summit.

I turned about and began the ascent. How much steeper the acclivities
were than they had seemed to be when I came down! My limbs ached before
I had gone many rods, and my breath came short. Upward I toiled, and by
the time my trail reached the cog-road I was ready to drop from
exhaustion. Yet I had not gone more than a third of the way to the top.
I had had no supper, but was too weary even to crave food, my only
desire being to find some place wherein to rest. Night had now come, but
fortunately the moon shone brightly from a sky that was almost clear,
and I had no difficulty in following the road.

Wearily I began to climb up the steep cog-wheel track. Having trudged
around one curve, I came to a portion of the road that stretched
straight up before me for what seemed an almost interminable distance,
and, oh! the way looked so steep, almost as if it would tumble back upon
my head. Could I ever drag myself up to the next bend in the track? By
a prodigious effort I did this at last--it seemed "at last" to me, at
all events--and, lo! there gleamed before me another long stretch of
four steel rails.

My breath came shorter and shorter, until I was compelled to open my
mouth widely and gasp the cold, rarefied air, which, it seemed, would
not fill my chest with the needed oxygen. Sharp pains shot through my
lungs, especially in the extremities far down in the chest; my head and
eye-balls ached, and it seemed sometimes as if they would burst; my
limbs trembled with weakness, and I tottered and reeled like a drunken
man from side to side of the road, having to watch carefully lest I
might topple over the edge and meet with a serious accident. Still that
relentless track, with its quartette of steel rails, stretched steep
before me in the distance.

For the last half mile or more I was compelled to fling myself down upon
the track every few rods to rest and recover breath. Up, up, the road
climbed, until at length I reached the point where it ceases to swing
around the shoulders of the mountain, and ascends directly to the
summit. Here was the steepest climb of all. By throwing my weary frame
on the track at frequent intervals and resting for five minutes, taking
deep draughts of air between my parched lips, I at last came in sight of
the government building. It is neither a mansion nor a palace, not even
a cottage, but never before was I so glad to get a glimpse of a building
erected by human hands. It was past nine o'clock when I staggered up to
the door and rang the night bell, having spent more than three hours and
a half in climbing about two miles and a half. Too weary to sleep, I
tossed for hours on my bed. At last, however, "nature's sweet restorer"
came to my relief, and I slept the deep sleep of unconsciousness until
seven o'clock the next morning, allowing the sun to rise upon the Peak
without getting up to greet him. That omission may have been an
unpardonable sin, for one of the chief fads of visitors is to see the
sun rise from the Peak; but I must say in my defence that, in the first
place, I failed to wake up in time to witness the Day King's advent,
and, in a second place, being on bird lore intent rather than scenic
wonders, my principal need was to recruit my strength for the tramping
to be done during the day. The sequel proved that, for my special
purpose, I had chosen the wiser course.

By eight o'clock I had written a letter home, eaten a refreshing
breakfast, paying a dollar for it, and another for lodging, and was
starting down the mountain, surprised at the exhilaration I felt, in
view of my extreme exhaustion of the evening before. I naturally
expected to feel stiff and sore in every joint, languid and woe-be-gone;
but such was not the case. It is wonderful how soon one recovers
strength among these heights. How bracing is the cool mountain air, if
you breathe it deeply! As I began the descent, I whistled and
sang,--that is, I tried to. To be frank, it was all noise and no music,
but I must have some way of giving expression to the uplifted emotions
that filled my breast. Again and again I said to myself, "I'm so glad!
I'm so glad! I'm so glad!" It was gladness pure and simple,--the
dictionary has no other word to express it. No pen can do justice to the
panorama of mountain and valley and plain as viewed from such a height
on a clear, crisp morning of June. One felt like exclaiming with George

    "Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
      The bridal of the earth and sky!"

So far as the æsthetic value of it went, I was monarch of all I
surveyed, even though mile on mile of grandeur and glory was spread out
before me. The quatrain of Lowell recurred to my mind:

    "'Tis heaven alone that is given away,
    'Tis only God may be had for the asking;
    No price is set on the lavish summer;
    June may be had by poorest comer."

Before leaving the Peak, I watched a flock of birds eating from the
waste-heap at the Summit House. They were the brown-capped rosy finches,
called scientifically _Leucosticte australis_. Their plumage was a rich
chocolate, suffused over neck, breast, and back with intense crimson,
while the pileum was quite black. With one exception--the white-tailed
ptarmigan--they range the highest in summer of all Colorado birds. They
are never seen below timber-line in that season, and are not known to
breed below twelve thousand feet; thence to the tops of the highest
peaks they hatch and rear their young. In August old and young swarm
over the summits picking edible insects from the snow, while in winter
they descend to timber-line, where most of them remain to brave the
arctic weather and its frequent storms.

Bidding a regretful good-by to the summit, for it held me as by a
magician's spell, I hastened down the steep incline of the cog-wheel
road, past Windy Point, and turning to the right, descended across the
green slope below the boulder region to the open, sunlit valley which I
had visited on the previous afternoon. It was an idyllic place, a
veritable paradise for birds. Such a chorus as greeted me from the
throats of I know not how many white-crowned sparrows,--several dozen,
perhaps,--it would have done the heart of any lover of avian minstrelsy
good to listen to. The whole valley seemed to be transfigured by their
roundelays, which have about them such an air of poetry and old-world
romance. During the morning I was so fortunate as to find a nest, the
first of this species that I had ever discovered. Providence had never
before cast my lot with these birds in their breeding haunts. The nest
was a pretty structure placed on the ground, beneath a bush amid the
green grass, its holdings consisting of four dainty, pale-blue eggs,
speckled with brown. The female leaped from her seat as I passed near,
and in that act divulged her little family secret. Although she chirped
uneasily as I bent over her treasures, she had all her solicitude for
nothing; the last thing I would think of doing would be to mar her
maternal prospects. As has been said, in this valley these handsome
sparrows were quite plentiful; but when, toward evening, I clambered
over a ridge, and descended into the valley of Moraine Lake, several
hundred feet lower than the Seven Lakes valley, what was my surprise to
find not a white-crown there! The next day I trudged up to the Seven
Lakes, and found the white-crowns quite abundant in the copses, as they
had been farther up the hollow on the previous day; and, besides, in a
boggy place about two miles below Moraine Lake there were several pairs,
and I was fortunate enough to find a nest. Strange--was it not?--that
these birds should avoid the copsy swamps near Moraine Lake, and yet
select for breeding homes the valleys both above and below it. Perhaps
the valley of Moraine Lake is a little too secluded and shut in by the
towering mountains on three sides, the other places being more open and

The upper valley was the summer home of that musician _par excellence_
of the Rockies, the green-tailed towhee, and he sang most divinely,
pouring out his

                                 "full heart
    In profuse strains of unpremeditated art."

Having elsewhere described his minstrelsy and habits with more or less
fulness, I need give him only this passing reference here. A little bird
with which I here first made acquaintance was an elegant species known
as Audubon's warbler, which may be regarded as the western
representative of the myrtle warbler of the East. The two birds are
almost counterparts. Indeed, at first I mistook the Audubon for the
myrtle. The former has a yellow throat, while the latter's throat is

In all the upper mountain valleys, and on the steep slopes of the
western as well as the eastern side of the Divide, I had the Audubon
warblers often at my elbow. In summer they make their homes at an
altitude of seven to eleven thousand feet, and are partial to pine
timber; indeed, I think I never found them elsewhere, save occasionally
among the quaking asps. I learned to distinguish Audubon's chanson from
those of his fellow-minstrels. It is not much of a song--a rather weak
little trill, with a kind of drawl in the vocalization that forms its
diagnostic feature. The persistency with which it is repeated on the
solitary pine-clad mountain sides constitutes its principal charm.

The winter haunts of Audubon's warblers are farther south than Colorado,
mostly in Mexico and Guatemala, although a few of them remain in the
sheltered mountain valleys of the western part of the United States.
Early in May they appear on the plains of eastern Colorado, where they
are known only as migrants. Here a double movement presently takes
place--what might be called a longitudinal and a vertical migration--one
division of the warbler army sweeping north to their breeding grounds in
Canada, and the other wheeling westward and ascending to the alpine
heights among the mountains, where they find the subartic conditions
that are congenial to their natures without travelling so great a
distance. Here they build their nests in the pine or spruce trees, rear
their families, and as autumn approaches, descend to the plains, tarry
there a week or two, then hie to their winter homes in the South.

One of the most gorgeous tenants of this valley was Wilson's warbler.[3]
It wears a dainty little cap that is jet black, bordered in front and
below with golden yellow, while the upper parts are rich olive and the
lower parts bright yellow. These warblers were quite abundant, and were
evidently partial to the thickets covering the boggy portions of the
vale. While Audubon's warblers kept themselves for the most part among
the pines on the slopes and acclivities, the little black-caps preferred
the lower ground. Their songs were not brilliant performances, though
rather pleasing, being short, jerky trills, somewhat lower in the scale
than those of the well-known summer warbler.

    [3] Mr. Aiken says, "The Rocky Mountain representative of Wilson's
    warbler is an intermediate form, nearest the Pacific coast bird
    which is distinguished as the pileolated warbler."

While I was stalking about in the low, boggy part of the hollow, my
attention was attracted by an odd little song that came rolling down
from the pines on the mountain side. At length, time was found to go to
the place whence the song came. What could the gay little minstrel be?
Somewhere I had heard such minstrelsy--but where? There were runs in it
that bore some resemblance to certain strains of the Carolina wren's
vigorous lays, but this songster's voice was of a finer quality and had
less volume than that of the Carolina. The little bird was found
flitting among the pines, and continued to sing his gay little ballad
with as much vigor as before. Indeed, my presence seemed to inspire him
to redouble his efforts and to sing with more snap and challenge. He
acted somewhat like a wren, but was smaller than any species of that
family with which I was acquainted, and no part of his plumage was
barred with brown and white.

Now the midget in feathers leaped up the alternating branches of a pine,
and now he flew down and fluttered amid the chaos of dead logs and
boughs on the ground, all the while rolling his ditty from his limber
tongue. Beginning with an exceedingly fine whistle, which could not
be heard far away, he descanted in sounds that it is impossible to
convey in syllables. The best literation of his song that I was
able to make was the following: "Tse-e-ek, tse-e-ek, tse-e-e-ek,
cholly-cholly-cholly, che-che-che, pur-tie, pur-tie, pur-tie!" the
_pur-tie_ accented strongly on the second syllable and the whole
performance closing with an interrogative inflection.

For a long time I watched the little acrobat, but could not settle his
identity. Some hours later, while stalking along the other side of the
valley, I heard the song duplicated; this time the singer elevated his
crest feathers, and at once I recognized him; he was the ruby-crowned
kinglet, of course, of course! It was a shame not to identify him at
first sight. In Ohio I had often heard his song during the migrating
season, and now remembered it well; but never dreaming that the
ruby-crown would be found in these alpine districts, I was completely
thrown off my reckoning on hearing his quaint melodies.

[Illustration: _Ruby-Crowned Kinglet_

"_The singer elevated his crest feathers_"]

The ruby-crowned kinglet migrates to these heights in the spring and
rears his brood at an elevation of from nine thousand feet to the
timber-line, building a nest far up in a pine tree; whereas his eastern
kindred hie to the northern part of the United States and beyond, to
find summer homes and suitable breeding grounds. Within their chosen
boundaries the rubies are very plentiful in the Rockies, their quaint
rondeaus tumbling down from every pine-clad acclivity. In October they
descend to the plains, and in the latter part of the month hurry off to
a more southerly clime.

The birds were most abundant in the upper part of the valley, keeping
close to the precipitous heights of the Peak. It was a long walk down to
the mountaineer's cabin, and I had reason to be glad for not having
undertaken to find it the evening before, as I should certainly have
lost my way in the darkness. No one was at home now, but through the
screen door I could see a canary in a cage. Not a very inviting place to
spend the night, I reflected, and I crossed the valley, climbed a steep
ridge, following a slightly used wagon road, and trudged down the other
side into what I afterwards found was the valley of Moraine Lake, one of
the crystal sheets of water that are seen from the summit of Pike's Peak
sparkling in the sunshine. While climbing the ridge, I saw my first
mountain chickadee, capering about in the trees. He called like the
familiar black-cap, and his behavior was much like that bird's. As will
be seen in another chapter, I afterwards heard the mountain chickadee's
song on the western side of the range, and found it to be quite unlike
the minor strain of our pleasant black-cap of the East.

On the mountain side forming the descent to Moraine Lake a flock of
Clark's nutcrackers were flying about in the pine woods, giving
expression to their feelings in a great variety of calls, some of them
quite strident. A little junco came in sight by the side of the trail,
and hopped about on the ground, and I was surprised to note a reddish
patch ornamenting the centre of his back. Afterwards I learned that it
was the gray-headed junco, which is distinctly a western species,
breeding among the mountains of Colorado. Thrashing about among some
dead boles, and making a great to-do, were a pair of small woodpeckers,
which closely resembled the well-known downies of our eastern
longitudes. I suppose them to have been their western representatives,
which are known, according to Mr. Aiken and Professor Cooke, as
Batchelder's woodpecker. Near the same place I saw a second pair of
mountain bluebirds, flitting about somewhat nervously, and uttering a
gentle sigh at intervals; but as evening was now rapidly approaching, I
felt the need of finding lodging for the night, and could not stop to
hunt for their nest.

Faring down the mountain side to the lake, I circled around its lower
end until I came to the cottage of the family who have the care of the
reservoirs that supply the three towns at the foot of the mountains
with water fresh from the snow-fields. Here, to my intense relief, I was
able to secure lodging and board as long as I desired to remain.

I enjoyed the generous hospitality offered me for two nights and
considerably more than one day. It was a genuine retreat, right at the
foot of a tall mountain, embowered in a grove of quaking asps. Several
persons from Colorado Springs, one of them a professor of the college,
were spending their outing at the cottage, and a delightful fellowship
we had, discussing birds, literature, and mountain climbing.

After resting awhile, I strolled up the valley to listen to the vesper
concert of the birds, and a rich one it was. The western robins were
piping their blithesome "Cheerilies," Audubon's warblers were trilling
in the pines, and, most of all--but here I had one of the most
gratifying finds in all my mountain quest. It will perhaps be remembered
that the white-crowned sparrows, so plentiful in the upper valley, were
not to be seen in the valley of Moraine Lake. Still there were
compensations in this cloistered dip among the towering mountains; the
mountain hermit thrushes--sometimes called Audubon's thrushes--found the
sequestered valley precisely to their liking, and on the evening in
question I saw them and heard their pensive cadences for the first time.
Such exquisite tones, which seemed to take vocal possession of the vale
and the steep, pine-clad mountain side, it has seldom been my good
fortune to hear. Scores of the birds were singing simultaneously, some
of their voices pitched high in the scale and others quite low, as
though they were furnishing both the air and the contralto of the
chorus. It was my first opportunity to listen to the songs of any of the
several varieties of hermit thrushes, and I freely confess that I came,
a willing captive, under the spell of their minstrelsy, so sweet and sad
and far away, and yet so rich in vocal expression. In the latter part of
the run, which is all too brief, there is a strain which bears close
resemblance to the liquid melody of the eastern wood-thrush, but the
opening notes have a pathetic quality all their own. Perhaps Charles G.
D. Roberts can give some idea of one's feelings at a time like this:

    "O hermit of evening! thine hour
      Is the sacrament of desire,
    When love hath a heavenlier flower,
      And passion a holier fire."

A happy moment it was when a nest of this mountain hermit was
discovered, saddled on one of the lower limbs of a pine and containing
four eggs of a rich green color. These birds are partial to dense pine
forests on the steep, rocky mountain sides. They are extremely shy and
elusive, evidently believing that hermit thrushes ought to be heard and
not seen. A score or more may be singing at a stone's throw up an
acclivity, but if you clamber toward them they will simply remove
further up the mountain, making your effort to see and hear them at
close range unavailing. That evening, however, as the gloaming settled
upon the valley, one selected a perch on a dead branch some distance up
the hillside, and obligingly permitted me to obtain a fair view of him
with my glass. The hermits breed far up in the mountains, the greatest
altitude at which I found them being on the sides of Bald Mountain,
above Seven Lakes and a little below the timber-line. To this day their
sad refrains are ringing in my ears, bringing back the thought of many
half-mournful facts and incidents that haunt the memory.

A good night's rest in the cottage, close beneath the unceiled roof,
prepared the bird-lover for an all-day ramble. The matutinal concert was
early in full swing, the hermit thrushes, western robins, and Audubon's
warblers being the chief choralists. One gaudy Audubon's warbler visited
the quaking asp grove surrounding the cottage, and trilled the choicest
selections of his repertory. Farther up the valley several Wilson's
warblers were seen and heard. A shy little bird flitting about in the
tangle of grass and bushes in the swampy ground above the lake was a
conundrum to me for a long time, but I now know that it was Lincoln's
sparrow, which was later found in other ravines among the mountains. It
is an exceedingly wary bird, keeping itself hidden amid the bushy
clusters for the greater part of the time, now and then venturing to
peep out at the intruder, and then bolting quickly into a safe covert.
Occasionally it will hop out upon the top of a bush in plain sight, and
remain for a few moments, just long enough for you to fix its identity
and note the character of its pleasing trill. Some of these points were
settled afterwards and not on the morning of my first meeting with the
chary little songster.

My plan for the day was to retrace my steps of the previous afternoon,
by climbing over the ridge into the upper valley and visiting the famous
Seven Lakes, which I had missed the day before through a miscalculation
in my direction. Clark's crows and the mountain jays were abundant on
the acclivities. One of the latter dashed out of a pine bush with a
clatter that almost raised the echoes, but, look as I would, I could
find no nest or young or anything else that would account for the

The Seven Lakes are beautiful little sheets of transparent water,
embosomed among the mountains in a somewhat open valley where there is
plenty of sunshine. They are visible from the summit of Pike's Peak,
from which distant viewpoint they sparkle like sapphire gems in a
setting of green. As seen from the Peak they appear to be quite close
together, and the land about them seems perfectly level, but when you
visit the place itself, you learn that some of them are separated from
the others by ridges of considerable height. Beautiful and sequestered
as the spot is, I did not find as many birds as I expected. Not a duck
or water bird of any kind was seen. Perhaps there is too much hunting
about the lakes, and, besides, winged visitors here would have
absolutely no protection, for the banks are free of bushes of any
description, and no rushes or flags grow in the shallower parts. On the
ridges and mountain sides the kinglets and hermit thrushes were
abundant, a robin was carolling, a Batchelder woodpecker chirped and
pounded in his tumultuous way, Clark's crows and several magpies lilted
about, while below the lakes in the copses the white-crowned sparrows
and green-tailed towhees held lyrical carnival, their sway disputed only
by the natty Wilson's warblers.

It was a pleasure to be alive and well in such a place, where one
breathed invigoration at every draught of the fresh, untainted mountain
air; nor was it less a delight to sit on the bank of one of the
transparent lakes and eat my luncheon and quaff from a pellucid spring
that gushed as cold as ice and as sweet as nectar from the sand, while
the white-crowned sparrows trilled a serenade in the copses.

Toward evening I clambered down to the cottage by Moraine Lake. The next
morning, in addition to the birds already observed in the valley, I
listened to the theme-like recitative of a warbling vireo, and also
watched a sandpiper teetering about the edge of the water, while a
red-shafted flicker dashed across the lake to a pine tree on the
opposite side. As I left this attractive valley, the hermit thrushes
seemed to waft me a sad farewell.

A little over half a day was spent in walking down from Moraine Lake to
the Halfway House. It was a saunter that shall never be forgotten, for I
gathered a half day's tribute of lore from the birds. A narrow green
hollow, wedging itself into one of the gorges of the towering Peak, and
watered by a snow-fed mountain brook, proved a very paradise for birds.
Here was that queer little midget of the Rockies, the broad-tailed
humming-bird, which performs such wonderful feats of balancing in the
air; the red-shafted flicker; the western robin, singing precisely like
his eastern half-brother; a pair of house-wrens guarding their
treasures; Lincoln's sparrows, not quite so shy as those at Moraine
Lake; mountain chickadees; olive-sided flycatchers; on the pine-clad
mountain sides the lyrical hermit thrushes; and finally those
ballad-singers of the mountain vales, the white-crowned sparrows, one of
whose nests I was so fortunate as to come upon. It was placed in a small
pine bush, and was just in process of construction. One of the birds
flew fiercely at a mischievous chipmunk, and drove him away, as if he
knew him for an arrant nest-robber.

Leaving this enchanting spot, I trudged down the mountain valleys and
ravines, holding silent converse everywhere with the birds, and at
length reached a small park, green and bushy, a short distance above the
Halfway House. While jogging along, my eye caught sight of a gray-headed
junco, which flitted from a clump of bushes bordering the stream to a
spot on the ground close to some shrubs. The act appeared so suggestive
that I decided to reconnoitre. I walked cautiously to the spot where the
bird had dropped down, and in a moment she flew up with a scolding
chipper. There was the nest, set on the ground in the grass and cosily
hidden beneath the over-arching branches of a low bush. Had the mother
bird been wise and courageous enough to retain her place, her secret
would not have been betrayed, the nest was so well concealed.

The pretty couch contained four juvenile juncos covered only with down,
and yet, in spite of their extreme youth, their foreheads and lores
showed black, and their backs a distinctly reddish tint, so early in
life were they adopting the pattern worn by their parents. The
persistency of species in the floral and faunal realms presents some
hard nuts for the evolutionist to crack. But that is an excursus, and
would lead us too far afield. This was the first junco's nest I had ever
found, and no one can blame me for feeling gratified with the
discovery. The gray-headed juncos were very abundant in the Rockies, and
are the only species at present known to breed in the State of Colorado.
They are differentiated from the common slate-colored snowbird by their
ash-gray suits, modestly decorated with a rust-colored patch on the

It was now far past noon, and beginning to feel weak with hunger, I
reluctantly said adieu to the junco and her brood, and hurried on to the
Halfway House, where a luncheon of sandwiches, pie and coffee
strengthened me for the remainder of my tramp down the mountain to
Manitou. That was a walk which lingers like a Greek legend in my memory
on account of--well, that is the story that remains to be told.

On a former visit to the Halfway House I was mentally knocked off my
feet by several glimpses of a woodpecker which was entirely new to me,
and of whose existence I was not even aware until this gorgeous
gentleman hove in sight. He was the handsomest member of the _Picidæ_
family I have ever seen--his upper parts glossy black, some portions
showing a bluish iridescence; his belly rich sulphur yellow, a bright
red median stripe on the throat, set in the midst of the black, looking
like a small necktie; two white stripes running along the side of the
head, and a large white patch covering the middle and greater
wing-coverts. Altogether, an odd livery for a woodpecker. Silently he
swung from bole to bole for a few minutes, and then disappeared.

Not until I reached my room in Manitou could I fix the bird's place in
the avicular system. By consulting Coues's _Key_ and Professor Cooke's
brochure on the _Birds of Colorado_, I found this quaintly costumed
woodpecker to be Williamson's sapsucker (_Sphyrapicus thyroideus_),
known only in the western part of the United States from the Rocky
Mountains to the Pacific coast. I now lingered in the beautiful pine
grove surrounding the Halfway House, hoping to see him again, but he did
not appear, and I reluctantly started down the cog-wheel track.

As I was turning a bend in the road, I caught sight of a mountain
chickadee flitting to a dead snag on the slope at the right, the next
moment slipping into a small hole leading inside. I climbed up to the
shelf, a small level nook among the tall pines on the mountain side, to
inspect her retreat, for it was the first nest of this interesting
species that I found. The chickadee flashed in and out of the orifice,
carrying food to her little ones, surreptitiously executing her
housewifely duties. The mountain tit seems to be a shy and quiet little
body when compared with the common black-cap known in the East.

While watching this bird from my place of concealment, I became
conscious of the half-suppressed chirping of a woodpecker, and, to my
intense joy, a moment later a Williamson's sapsucker swung to a pine
bole a little below me and began pecking leisurely and with assumed
nonchalance for grubs in the fissures of the bark. From my hiding-place
behind some bushes I kept my eye on the handsome creature. An artist
might well covet the privilege of painting this elegant bird as he
scales the wall of a pine tree. Presently he glided to a snag not more
than a rod from the chickadee's domicile, and then I noticed that the
dead bole was perforated by a number of woodpecker holes, into one of
which the sapsucker presently slipped with the tidbit he held in his
bill. The doorway was almost too small for him, obliging him to turn
slightly sidewise and make some effort to effect an entrance. Fortune
had treated me as one of her favorites: I had discovered the nest of
Williamson's sapsucker.

But still another surprise was in store. A low, dubious chirping was
heard, and then the female ambled leisurely to the snag and hitched up
to the orifice. She made several efforts to enter, but could not while
her spouse was within. Presently he wormed himself out, whereupon she
went in, and remained for some time. At length I crept to the snag and
beat against it with my cane. She was loath to leave the nest, but after
a little while decided that discretion was the better part of valor.
When she came out, my presence so near her nursery caused her not a
little agitation, which she displayed by flinging about from bole to
bole and uttering a nervous chirp.

As to costume, the male and the female had little in common. Her back
was picturesquely mottled and barred with black and white, her head
light brown, her breast decorated with a large black patch, and her
other under parts yellow. Had the couple not been seen together flitting
about the nest, they would not have been regarded as mates, so
differently were they habited.

Standing before the doorway of the nursery--it was not quite so high as
my head--I could plainly hear the chirping of the youngsters within.
Much as I coveted the sight of a brood of this rare species, I could not
bring myself to break down the walls of their cottage and thus expose
them to the claws and beaks of their foes. Even scientific curiosity
must be restrained by considerations of mercy.

The liege lord of the family had now disappeared. Desirous of seeing him
once more, I hid myself in a bush-clump near at hand and awaited his
return. Presently he came ambling along and scrambled into the orifice,
turning his body sidewise, as he had done before. I made my way quietly
to the snag and tapped upon it with my cane, but he did not come out, as
I expected him to do. Then I struck the snag more vigorously. No result.
Then I whacked the bole directly in the rear of the nest, while I stood
close at one side watching the doorway. The bird came to the orifice,
peeped out, then, seeing me, quickly drew back, determined not to desert
his brood in what he must have regarded as an emergency. In spite of all
my pounding and coaxing and feigned scolding--and I kept up the racket
for several minutes--I did not succeed in driving the _pater familias_
from his post of duty. Once he apparently made a slight effort to
escape, but evidently stuck fast in the entrance, and so dropped back
and would not leave, only springing up to the door and peeping out at me
when my appeals became especially vigorous. It appeared like a genuine
case of "I'm determined to defend my children, or die in the attempt!"

Meanwhile the mother bird was flitting about in an agitated way,
uttering piteous cries of remonstrance and entreaty. Did that bandit
intend to rob her of both her husband and her children? It was useless,
if not wanton, to hector the poor creatures any longer, even to study
their behavior under trying circumstances; and I left them in peace, and
hurried down to my lodgings in Manitou, satisfied with the results of my
day's ramble.


[Illustration: PLATE III

LAZULI BUNTING--_Cyanospiza amoena_
(Upper figure, male; lower, female)]

Having explored the summit of Pike's Peak and part of its southern slope
down to the timber-line, and spent several delightful days in the upper
valleys of the mountains, as well as in exploring several cañons, the
rambler was desirous of knowing what species of birds reside on the
plain stretching eastward from the bases of the towering ranges. One
afternoon in the latter part of June, I found myself in a straggling
village about forty miles east of Colorado Springs.

On looking around, I was discouraged, and almost wished I had not come;
for all about me extended the parched and treeless plain, with only here
and there a spot that had a cast of verdure, and even that was of a dull
and sickly hue. Far off to the northeast rose a range of low hills
sparsely covered with scraggy pines, but they were at least ten miles
away, perhaps twenty, and had almost as arid an aspect as that of the
plains themselves. Only one small cluster of deciduous trees was
visible, about a mile up a shallow valley or "draw." Surely this was a
most unpromising field for bird study. If I had only been content to
remain among the mountains, where, even though the climbing was
difficult, there were brawling brooks, shady woodlands, and green, copsy
vales in which many feathered friends had lurked!

[Illustration: _Desert Horned Larks_

"_They were plentiful in this parched region_"]

But wherever the bird-lover chances to be, his mania leads him to look
for his favorites, and he is seldom disappointed; rather, he is often
delightfully surprised. People were able to make a livelihood here, as
was proved by the presence of the village and a few scattering dwellings
on the plain; then why not the birds, which are as thrifty and wise in
many ways as their human relatives? In a short time my baggage was
stowed in a safe place, and, field-glass in hand, I sallied forth for my
first jaunt on a Colorado plain. But, hold! what were these active
little birds, hopping about on the street and sipping from the pool by
the village well? They were the desert horned larks, so called because
they select the dry plains of the West as their dwelling place. They are
interesting birds. The fewer trees and the less humidity, provided
there is a spot not too far away at which they may quench their thirst
and rinse their feathers, the better they seem to be pleased. They were
plentiful in this parched region, running or flying cheerfully before me
wherever my steps were bent. I could not help wondering how many
thousands of them--and millions, perhaps--had taken up free homesteads
on the seemingly limitless plains of eastern Colorado.

Most of the young had already left the nest, and were flying about in
the company of their elders, learning the fine art of making a living
for themselves and evading the many dangers to which bird flesh is heir.
The youngsters could readily be distinguished from their seniors by the
absence of distinct black markings on throat, chest, and forehead, and
the lighter cast of their entire plumage.

Sometimes these birds are called shore larks; but that is evidently a
misnomer, or at least a very inapt name, for they are not in the least
partial to the sea-shore or even the shores of lakes, but are more
disposed to take up their residence in inland and comparatively dry
regions. There are several varieties, all bearing a very close
resemblance, so close, indeed, that only an expert ornithologist can
distinguish them, even with the birds in hand. The common horned lark is
well known in the eastern part of the United States as a winter
resident, while in the middle West, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, etc.,
are to be found the prairie horned larks, which, as their name
indicates, choose the open prairie for their home. The desert horned
larks are tenants exclusively of the arid plains, mesas, and mountain
parks of the West. There is still another variety, called the pallid
horned lark, which spends the winter in Colorado, then hies himself
farther north in summer to rear his brood.

As I pursued my walk, one of these birds suddenly assumed an alert
attitude, then darted into the air, mounting up, up, up, in a series of
swift leaps, like "an embodied joy whose race has just begun." Up he
soared until he could no longer be seen with the naked eye, and even
through my field-glass he was a mere speck against the blue canopy, and
yet, high as he had gone, his ditty filtered down to me through the
still, rarefied atmosphere, like a sifting of fine sand. His descent was
a grand plunge, made with the swiftness of an Indian's arrow, his head
bent downward, his wings partly folded, and his tail perked upward at
precisely the proper angle to make a rudder, all the various organs so
finely adjusted as to convert him into a perfectly dirigible parachute.
Swift as his descent was, he alighted on the ground as lightly as a tuft
of down. It was the poetry of motion. One or two writers have insisted
that the horned lark's empyrean song compares favorably with that of
the European skylark; but, loyal and patriotic an American as we are,
honesty compels us to concede that our bird's voice is much feebler and
less musical than that of his celebrated relative across the sea. It
sounds like the unmelodious clicking of pebbles, while the song of the
skylark is loud, clear, and ringing.

Our birds of the plain find insects to their taste in the short grass
which carpets the land with greenish or olive gray. The following
morning a mother lark was seen gathering insects and holding them in her
bill--a sure sign of fledglings in the near neighborhood. I decided to
watch her, and, if possible, find her bantlings. It required not a
little patience, for she was wary and the sun poured down a flood of
almost blistering heat. This way and that she scurried over the ground,
now picking up an insect and adding it to the store already in her bill,
and now standing almost erect to eye me narrowly and with some
suspicion. At length she seemed to settle down for a moment upon a
particular spot, and when I looked again with my glass, her beak was
empty. I examined every inch of ground, as I thought, in the
neighborhood of the place where she had stopped, but could find neither
nest nor nestlings.

Again I turned my attention to the mother bird, which meanwhile had
gathered another bunch of insects and was hopping about with them
through the croppy grass, now and then adding to her accumulation until
her mouth was full. For a long time she zigzagged about, going by
provoking fits and starts. At length fortune favored me, for through my
levelled glass I suddenly caught sight of a small, grayish-looking ball
hopping and tumbling from a cactus clump toward the mother bird, who
jabbed the contents of her bill into a small, open mouth. I followed a
bee-line to the spot, and actually had to scan the ground sharply for a
few moments before I could distinguish the youngster from its
surroundings, for it had squatted flat, its gray and white plumage
harmonizing perfectly with the grayish desert grass.

[Illustration: _Lark_

"_It was a dear little thing_"]

It was a dear little thing, and did not try to escape, although I took
it up in my hand and stroked its downy back again and again. Sometimes
it closed its eyes as if it were sleepy. When I placed it on the ground,
it hopped away a few inches, and by accident punctured the fleshy corner
of its mouth with a sharp cactus thorn, and had to jerk itself loose,
bringing the blood from the lacerated part. Meanwhile the mother lark
went calmly about her household duties, merely keeping a watchful eye
on the human meddler, and making no outcry when she saw her infant in my
possession. I may have been _persona non grata_, but, if so, she did not
express her feeling. This was the youngest horned lark seen by me in my
rambles on the plains.

Perhaps the reader will care to know something about the winter habits
of these birds. They do not spend the season of cold and storm in the
mountains, not even those that breed there, for the snow is very deep
and the tempests especially fierce. Many of them, however, remain in the
foothills and on the mesas and plains, where they find plenty of seeds
and berries for their sustenance, unless the weather chances to be
unusually severe. One winter, not long ago, the snow continued to lie
much longer than usual, cutting off the natural food supply of the
larks. What regimen did they adopt in that exigency? They simply went to
town. Many of the kindly disposed citizens of Colorado Springs scattered
crumbs and millet seeds on the streets and lawns, and of this supply the
little visitors ate greedily, becoming quite tame. As soon, however, as
the snow disappeared they took their departure, not even stopping to say
thanks or adieu; although we may take it for granted that they felt
grateful for favors bestowed.

Besides the horned larks, many other birds were found on the plain. Next
in abundance were the western meadow-larks. Persons who live in the
East and are familiar with the songs of the common meadow-lark, should
hear the vocal performances of the westerners. The first time I heard
one of them, the minstrelsy was so strange to my ear, so different from
anything I had ever heard, I was thrown into an ecstasy of delight, and
could not imagine from what kind of bird larynx so quaint a medley could
emanate. The song opened with a loud, fine, piercing whistle, and ended
with an abrupt staccato gurgle much lower in the musical staff, sounding
precisely as if the soloist's performance had been suddenly choked off
by the rising of water in the windpipe. It was something after the order
of the purple martin's melodious sputter, only the tones were richer and
fuller and the music better defined, as became a genuine oscine. His
sudden and emphatic cessation seemed to indicate that he was in a
petulant mood, perhaps impatient with the intruder, or angry with a
rival songster.

Afterwards I heard him--or, rather, one of his brothers--sing arias so
surpassingly sweet that I voted him the master minstrel of the western
plains, prairies, and meadows. One evening as I was returning to
Colorado Springs from a long tramp through one of the cañons of the
mountains, a western meadow-lark sat on a small tree and sang six
different tunes within the space of a few minutes. Two of them were so
exquisite and unique that I involuntarily sprang to my feet with a cry
of delight. There he sat in the lengthening shadows of Cheyenne
Mountain, the champion phrase-fluter of the irrigated meadow in which he
and a number of his comrades had found a summer home.

On the plain, at the time of my visit, the meadow-larks were not quite
so tuneful, for here the seasons are somewhat earlier than in the
proximity of the mountains, and the time of courtship and incubation was
over. Still, they sang enough to prove themselves members of a gifted
musical family. Observers in the East will remember the sputtering call
of the eastern larks when they are alarmed or their suspicions are
aroused. The western larks do not utter alarums of that kind, but a
harsh "chack" instead, very similar to the call of the grackles. The
nesting habits of the eastern and western species are the same, their
domiciles being placed on the ground amid the grass, often prettily
arched over in the rear and made snug and neat.

It must not be thought, because my monograph on the western larks is
included in this chapter, that they dwell exclusively on the arid plain.
No; they revel likewise in the areas of verdure bordering the streams,
in the irrigated fields and meadows, and in the watered portions of the
upper mountain parks.

An interesting question is the following: Are the eastern and western
meadow-larks distinct species, or only varieties somewhat specialized by
differences of locality and environment? It is a problem over which the
scientific professors have had not a little disputation. My own opinion
is that they are distinct species and do not cohabit, and the conviction
is based on some special investigations, though not of the kind that are
made with the birds in hand. It has been my privilege to study both
forms in the field. In the first place, their vocal exhibitions are very
different, so much so as to indicate a marked diversity in the organic
structure of their larynxes. Much as I have listened to their
minstrelsy, I have never known one kind to borrow from the musical
repertory of the other. True, there are strains in the arias of the
westerners that closely resemble the clear, liquid whistle of the
eastern larks, but they occur right in the midst of the song and are
part and parcel of it, and therefore afford no evidence of mimicry or
amalgamation. Even the trills of the grassfinch and the song-sparrow
have points of similarity; does that prove that they borrow from each
other, or that espousals sometimes occur between the two species?

The habiliments of the two forms of larks are more divergent than would
appear at first blush. Above, the coloration of _neglecta_ (the western)
is paler and grayer than that of _magna_, the black markings being less
conspicuous, and those on the tertials and middle tail-feathers being
arranged in narrow, isolated bars, and not connected along the shaft.
While the flanks and under tail-coverts of _magna_ are distinctly washed
with buff, those of _neglecta_ are white, very faintly tinged with buff,
if at all. The yellow of the throat of the eastern form does not spread
out laterally over the malar region, as does that of the western lark.
All of which tends to prove that the two forms are distinct.

Early in the spring of 1901 the writer took a trip to Oklahoma in the
interest of bird-study, and found both kinds of meadow-larks extremely
abundant and lavish of their melodies on the fertile prairies. He
decided to carry on a little original investigation in the field of
inquiry now under discussion. One day, in a draw of the prairie, he
noticed a western meadow-lark which was unusually lyrical, having the
skill of a past-master in the art of trilling and gurgling and fluting.
Again and again I went to the place, on the same day and on different
days, and invariably found the westerner there, perching on the fence or
a weed-stem, and greeting me with his exultant lays. But, mark: no
eastern lark ever intruded on his preserve. In other and more distant
parts of the broad field the easterners were blowing their piccolos, but
they did not encroach on the domain of the lyrical westerner, who, with
his mate--now on her nest in the grass--had evidently jumped his claim
and held it with a high hand. In many other places in Oklahoma and
Kansas where both species dwell, I have noticed the same interesting
fact--that in the breeding season each form selects a special precinct,
into which the other form does not intrude. They perhaps put up some
kind of trespass sign. These observations have all but convinced me that
_S. magna_ and _S. neglecta_ are distinct species, and avoid getting
mixed up in their family affairs.

Nor is that all. While both forms dwell on the vast prairies of
Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska, yet, as you travel eastward, the western
larks gradually diminish in number until at length they entirely
disappear; whereas, if you journey westward, the precise opposite
occurs. I have never heard _neglecta_ east of the Missouri River,[4] nor
_magna_ on the plains of Colorado. Therefore the conclusion is almost
forced upon the observer that there are structural and organic
differences between the two forms.

    [4] He sometimes ventures, though sparingly, as far east as Illinois
    and Wisconsin; still my statement is true--I have never heard the
    western lark even in the bottoms and meadows of the broad valley
    east of the Missouri River, while, one spring morning, I did hear
    one of these birds fluting in the top of a cottonwood tree in my
    yard on the high western bluff of that stream.

After the foregoing deductions had been reached, the writer bethought
him of consulting Ridgway's Manual on the subject, and was gratified to
find his views corroborated by a footnote answering to an asterisk
affixed to the name of the western lark:

    "Without much doubt a distinct species. The occurrence of both _S.
    neglecta_ and _S. magna_ together in many portions of the
    Mississippi Valley, each in its typical style (the ranges of the two
    overlapping, in fact, for a distance of several hundred miles),
    taken together with the excessive rarity of intermediate specimens
    and the universally attested radical difference in their notes, are
    facts wholly incompatible with the theory of their being merely
    geographical races of the same species."

This has been a long _excursus_, and we must get back to our jaunt on
the plain. While I was engaged in watching the birds already named, my
ear was greeted by a loud, clear, bell-like call; and, on looking in the
direction from which it came, I observed a bird hovering over a ploughed
field not far away, and then descending with graceful, poising flight to
the ground. It proved to be the Arkansas flycatcher, a large, elegant
bird that is restricted to the West. I had never seen this species.
Nothing like him is known in the East, the crested flycatcher being most
nearly a copy of him, although the manners of the two birds are quite
unlike. The body of the western bird is as large as that of the robin,
and he must be considerably longer from tip of beak to tip of tail. He
is a fine-looking fellow, presenting a handsome picture as he stands on
a weed-stalk or a fence-post, his yellow jacket gleaming in the sun. He
is the possessor of a clear, musical voice, and if he had the vocal
organs of some of the oscines, he certainly would be one of the best
feathered lyrists of America. Unfortunately he is able to do nothing but
chirp and chatter, although he puts not a little music into his simple
vocal exercises.

It was surprising to note on how slender a weed-stalk so large a bird
was able to perch. There being few trees and fences in this region, he
has doubtless gained expertness through practice in the art of securing
a foot-hold on the tops of the weed-stems. Some of the weeds on which he
stood with perfect ease and grace were extremely lithe and flexible and
almost devoid of branches.

But what was the cause of this particular bird's intense solicitude? It
was obvious there was a nest in the neighborhood. As I sought in the
grass and weed-clumps, he uttered his piercing calls of protest and
circled and hovered overhead like a red-winged blackbird. Suddenly the
thought occurred to me that the flycatchers of my acquaintance do not
nest on the ground, but on trees. I looked around, and, sure enough, in
the shallow hollow below me stood a solitary willow tree not more than
fifteen or twenty feet high, the only tree to be seen within a mile. And
that lone tree on the plain was occupied by the flycatcher and his mate
for a nesting place. In a crotch the gray cottage was set, containing
three callow babies and one beautifully mottled egg.

In another fork of the same small tree a pair of kingbirds--the same
species as our well-known eastern bee-martins--had built their nest, in
the downy cup of which lay four eggs similarly decorated with brown
spots. The birds now all circled overhead and joined in an earnest plea
with me not to destroy their homes and little ones, and I hurriedly
climbed down from the tree to relieve their agitation, stopping only a
moment to examine the twine plaited into the felted nests of the
kingbirds. The willow sapling contained also the nest of a turtle dove.

"If there are three nests in this small tree, there may be a large
number in the cluster of trees beyond the swell about a mile away," I
mused, and forthwith made haste to go to the place indicated. I was not
disappointed. Had the effort been made, I am sure two score of nests
might have been found in these trees, for they were liberally decorated
with bird cots and hammocks. Most of these were kingbirds' and Arkansas
flycatchers' nests, but there were others as well. On one small limb
there were four of the dangling nests of Bullock's orioles, one of them
fresh, the rest more or less weather beaten, proving that this bird had
been rearing broods here for a number of seasons.

Whose song was this ringing from one of the larger trees a little
farther down the glade? I could scarcely believe the testimony of my
ears and eyes, yet there could be no mistake--it was the vivacious
mimicry of the mocking-bird, which had travelled far across the plain to
this solitary clump of trees to find singing perches and a site for his
nests. He piped his musical miscellany with as much good-cheer as if he
were dwelling in the neighborhood of some embowered cottage in
Dixie-land. In suitable localities on the plains of Colorado the mockers
were found to be quite plentiful, but none were seen among the

A network of twigs and vines in one of the small willows afforded a
support and partial covert for the nest of a pair of white-rumped
shrikes. It contained six thickly speckled eggs, and was the first nest
of this species I had ever found. The same hollow,--if so shallow a dip
in the plain can be called a hollow,--was selected as the home of
several pairs of red-winged and Brewer's blackbirds, which built their
grassy cots in the low bushes of a slightly boggy spot, where a feeble
spring oozed from the ground. It was a special pleasure to find a
green-tailed towhee in the copse of the draw, for I had supposed that he
always hugged close to the steep mountain sides.

A walk before breakfast the next morning added several more avian
species to my roll. To my surprise, a pair of mountain bluebirds had
chosen the village for their summer residence, and were building a nest
in the coupler of a freight car standing on a side track. The domicile
was almost completed, and I could not help feeling sorry for the pretty,
innocent couple, at the thought that the car would soon be rolling
hundreds of miles away, and all their loving toil would go for naught.
Bluebirds had previously been seen at the timber-line among the
mountains, and here was a pair forty miles out on the plain--quite a
range for this species, both longitudinally and vertically.

During the forenoon the following birds were observed: A family of
juvenile Arkansas flycatchers, which were being fed by their parents; a
half-dozen or more western grassfinches, trilling the same pensive tunes
as their eastern half-brothers; a small, long-tailed sparrow, which I
could not identify at the time, but which I now feel certain was
Lincoln's sparrow; these, with a large marsh-harrier and a colony of
cliff-swallows, completed my bird catalogue at this place. It may not be
amiss to add that several jack-rabbits went skipping over the swells;
that many families of prairie dogs were visited, and that a coyotte
galloped lightly across the plain, stopping and looking back
occasionally to see whether he were being pursued.

It was no difficult task to study the birds on the plain. Having few
hiding-places in a locality almost destitute of trees and bushes, where
even the grass was too short to afford a covert, they naturally felt
little fear of man, and hence were easily approached. Their cousins
residing in the mountains were, as a rule, provokingly wary. The number
of birds that had pre-empted homesteads on the treeless wastes was
indeed a gratifying surprise, and I went back to the mountains refreshed
by the pleasant change my brief excursion upon the plains had afforded

[Illustration: _Coyotte_

"_Looking back to see whether he were being pursued_"]



Where do you suppose I got my first glimpse of the mite in feathers
called the broad-tailed humming-bird? It was in a green bower in the
Rocky Mountains in plain sight of the towering summit of Pike's Peak,
which seemed almost to be standing guard over the place. Two brawling
mountain brooks met here, and, joining their forces, went with increased
speed and gurgle down the glades and gorges. As they sped through this
ravine, they slightly overflowed their banks, making a boggy area of
about an acre as green as green could be; and here amid the grass and
bushes a number of birds found a pleasant summer home, among them the
dainty hummer.

From the snow-drifts, still to be seen in the sheltered gorges of Pike's
Peak, the breezes would frequently blow down into the nook with a
freshness that stimulated like wine with no danger of intoxicating; and
it was no wonder that the white-crowned sparrows, Lincoln's sparrows,
the robins and wrens, and several other species, found in this spot a
pleasant place to live. One of the narrow valleys led directly up to the
base of the massive cone of the Peak, its stream fed by the snow-fields
shining in the sun. Going around by the valley of Seven Lakes, I had
walked down from the summit, but nowhere had I seen the tiny hummer
until I reached the green nook just described. Still, he sometimes
ascends to an elevation of eleven thousand feet above the level of the


_PIKE'S PEAK shows dimly in the background, more plainly in the
reflection. Viewed from the peak, the lakes sparkle like opaline gems in
the sun. The waters are so clear that an inverted world is seen in their
transparent depths. The valley is an elysium for many kinds of birds,
most of them described in the text. The white-crowned sparrows love the
shores of these beautiful lakes, which mirror the blithe forms of the
birds. The pine forests of the mountain sides are vocal with the
refrains of the hermit thrushes._


Our feathered dot is gorgeous with his metallic green upper parts,
bordered on the tail with purplish black, his white or grayish under
parts, and his gorget of purple which gleams in bright, varying tints in
the sun. He closely resembles our common ruby-throated humming-bird,
whose gorget is intense crimson instead of purple, and who does not
venture into the Rocky Mountain region, but dwells exclusively in the
eastern part of North America. It is a little strange that the eastern
part of our country attracts only one species of the large hummer
family, while the western portion, including the Rocky Mountain region,
can boast of at least seventeen different kinds as summer residents or

My attention was first directed to the broad-tailed hummer by seeing him
darting about in the air with the swiftness of an arrow, sipping honey
from the flower cups, and then flying to the twigs of a dead tree that
stood in the marsh. There he sat, turning his head this way and that,
and watching me with his keen little eyes. It was plain he did not trust
me, and therefore resented my presence. Though an unwelcome guest, I
prolonged my call for several hours, during which I made many heroic but
vain attempts to find his nest.

But what was the meaning of a sharp, insect-like buzzing that fell at
intervals on my ear? Presently I succeeded in tracing the sound to the
hummer, which utters it whenever he darts from his perch and back again,
especially if there is a spectator or a rival near at hand, for whom he
seems in this way to express his contempt. It is a vocal sound, or, at
least, it comes from his throat, and is much louder and sharper than the
_susurrus_ produced by the rapid movement of his wings. This I ascertain
by hearing both the sounds at the same time.

But the oddest prank which this hummer performs is to dart up in the
air, and then down, almost striking a bush or a clump of grass at each
descent, repeating this feat a number of times with a swiftness that the
eye can scarcely follow. Having done this, he will swing up into the air
so far that you can scarcely see him with the naked eye; the next moment
he will drop into view, poise in mid-air seventy-five or a hundred feet
above your head, supporting himself by a swift motion of the wings, and
simply hitching to right and left in short arcs, as if he were fixed on
a pivot, sometimes meanwhile whirling clear around. There he hangs on
his invisible axis until you grow tired watching him, and then he darts
to his favorite perch on the dead tree.

No doubt John Vance Cheney had in mind another species when he composed
the following metrical description, but it aptly characterized the
volatile broad-tail as well:

    "Voyager on golden air,
    Type of all that's fleet and fair,
    Incarnate gem,
    Live diadem,
    Bird-beam of the summer day,--
    Whither on your sunny way?

       *       *       *       *       *

    Stay, forget lost Paradise,
    Star-bird fallen from happy skies."

After that first meeting the broad-tailed hummers were frequently seen
in my rambles among the Rockies. In some places there were small
colonies of them. They did not always dwell together in harmony, but
often pursued one another like tiny furies, with a loud z-z-z-zip that
meant defiance and war. The swiftness of their movements often excited
my wonder, and it was difficult to see how they kept from impaling
themselves on thorns or snags, so reckless were their lightning-like
passages through the bushes and trees. When four or five of them were
found in one place, they would fairly thread the air with green and
purple as they described their circles and loops and festoons with a
rapidity that fairly made my head whirl. At one place several of them
grew very bold, dashing at me or wheeling around my head, coming so
close that I could hear the _susurrus_ of their wings as well as the
sharp, challenging buzz from their throats.

Perhaps it would interest you to know where the rambler found these tiny
hummers. They were never in the dark cañons and gorges, nor in the
ravines that were heavily wooded with pine, but in the open, sunshiny
glades and valleys, where there were green grass and bright flowers. In
the upper part of both North and South Cheyenne Cañons they were
plentiful, although they avoided the most scenic parts of these
wonderful mountain gorges. Another place where they found a pleasant
summer home was in a green pocket of the mountain above Red Cliff, a
village on the western side of the great range. On descending the
mountains to the town of Glenwood, I did not find them, and therefore am
disposed to think that in the breeding season they do not choose to
dwell in too low or too high an altitude, but seek suitable places at an
elevation of from seven thousand to nine thousand feet.


_Only a small portion of the peak is shown in the view. The
comparatively level area referred to in the text lies back of the signal
station on the crest. At a garbage heap near the building a flock of
leucostictes were seen, and the writer was told that they came there
regularly to feed. From this sublime height the American pipits rise on
resilient wings hundreds of feet into the air until they disappear in
the cerulean depths of the sky, singing all the while at "heaven's


One day, while staying at Buena Vista, Colorado, I hired a saddle-horse
and rode to Cottonwood Lake, twelve miles away, among the rugged
mountains. The valley is wide enough here to admit of a good deal of
sunshine, and therefore flowers studded the ground in places. It was
here I saw the only female broad-tailed hummer that was met with in my
rambles in the Rockies. She was flitting among the flowers, and did not
make the buzzing sound that the males produce wherever found. She was
not clad so elegantly as were her masculine relatives, for the
throat-patch was white instead of purple, and the green on her back did
not gleam so brightly. But, oddly enough, her sides and under
tail-coverts were stained with a rufous tint--a color that does not
appear at all in the costume of the male.

A curious habit of these hummers is worth describing. The males remain
in the breeding haunts until the young are out of the nest and are
beginning to be able to shift for themselves. Then the papas begin to
disappear, and in about ten days all have gone, leaving the mothers and
the youngsters to tarry about the summer home until the latter are
strong enough to make the journey to some resort lower in the mountains
or farther south. The reason the males do this is perhaps evident
enough, for at a certain date the flowers upon whose sweets the birds
largely subsist begin to grow scant, and so if they remained there
would not be enough for all.

In the San Francisco Mountains of Arizona, Doctor Merriam found the
broad-tails very abundant in the balsam timber and the upper part of the
pine belt, where they breed in the latter part of July; after which they
remain in that region until the middle of September, even though the
weather often becomes quite frosty at night. At break of day, in spite
of the cold, they will gather in large flocks at some spring to drink
and bathe. Doctor Merriam says about them at such times:

    "They were like swarms of bees, buzzing about one's head and darting
    to and fro in every direction. The air was full of them. They would
    drop down to the water, dip their feet and bellies, and rise and
    shoot away as if propelled by an unseen power. They would often dart
    at the face of an intruder as if bent on piercing the eye with their
    needle-like bills, and then poise for a moment almost within reach
    before turning, when they were again lost in the busy throng.
    Whether this act was prompted by curiosity or resentment I was not
    able to ascertain."

As has already been said, there is not always unruffled peace in the
hummer family. Among the Rocky Mountains, and especially on the western
side of the range, there dwells another little hummer called the rufous
humming-bird, because the prevailing color of his plumage is reddish,
and between this family and the broad-tails there exists a bitter feud.
When, in the migrating season, a large number of both species gather
together in a locality where there is a cluster of wild-flowers, the
picture they make as they dart to and fro and bicker and fight for some
choice blossom, their metallic colors flashing in the sun, is so
brilliant as never to be forgotten by the spectator who is fortunate
enough to witness it.

[Illustration: "_Pike's Peak in cloudland_"]


One June day a Denver & Rio Grande train bore the bird-lover from
Colorado Springs to Pueblo, thence westward to the mountains, up the
Grand Cañon of the Arkansas River, through the Royal Gorge, past the
smiling, sunshiny upper mountain valleys, over the Divide at Tennessee
Pass, and then down the western slopes to the next stopping-place, which
was Red Cliff, a village nestling in a deep mountain ravine at the
junction of Eagle River and Turkey Creek. The following day, a little
after "peep o' dawn," I was out on the street, and was impressed by a
song coming from the trees on the acclivity above the village. "Surely
that is a new song," I said to myself; "and yet it seems to have a
familiar air." A few minutes of hard climbing brought me near enough to
get my glass on the little lyrist, and then I found it was only the
house-wren! "How could you be led astray by so familiar a song?" you
inquire. Well, that is the humiliating part of the incident, for I have
been listening to the house-wren's gurgling sonata for some twenty
years--rather more than less--and should have recognized it at once;
only it must be remembered that I was in a strange place, and had my
ears and eyes set for avian rarities, and therefore blundered.[5]

    [5] On this incident I quote a personal note from my friend, Mr.
    Aiken: "The wren of the Rockies is the western house-wren, but is
    the same form as that found in the Mississippi Valley. It is quite
    possible that a difference in song may occur, but I have not noticed

[Illustration: _Cliff-Swallows_

"_On the rugged face of a cliff_"]

To my surprise, I found many birds on those steep mountain sides, which
were quite well timbered. Above the village a colony of cliff-swallows
had a nesting place on the rugged face of a cliff, and were soaring
about catching insects and attending to the wants of their greedy young.

Besides the species named, I here found warbling vireos, broad-tailed
humming-birds, western nighthawks, ruby-crowned kinglets, magpies,
summer warblers, mountain chickadees, western wood-pewees, Louisiana
tanagers, long-crested jays, kingfishers, gray-headed juncos,
red-shafted flickers, pygmy nuthatches, house-finches, mountain jays,
and Clarke's nutcrackers. The only species noted here that had not
previously been seen east of the Divide was the pygmy nuthatch, a little
bird which scales the trunks and branches of trees like all his family,
but which is restricted to the Rocky Mountains. Like the white-breasted
nuthatch, he utters an alto call, "Yang! yang! yang!" only it is soft
and low--a miniature edition of the call of its eastern relative.

A mountain chickadee's nest was also found, and here I heard for the
first time one of these birds sing. Its performance was quite an
affecting little minor whistle, usually composed of four distinct notes,
though sometimes the vocalist contented himself with a song of two or
three syllables. The ordinary run might be represented phonetically in
this way, "Phee, ph-e-e-e, phe-phe," with the chief emphasis on the
second syllable, which is considerably prolonged. The song is quite
different from that of the black-capped chickadee both in the intoning
and the technical arrangement, while it does not run so high in the
scale, nor does it impress me as being quite so much of a minor strain,
if such a distinction can be made in music. Both birds' tunes, however,
have the character of being whistled.

Glenwood is a charming summer resort in Colorado on the western side of
the Rocky Mountain range, and can be reached by both the Denver & Rio
Grande and the Colorado Midland Railways. Beautifully situated in an
open mountain valley, it possesses many attractions in the way of
natural scenery, while the cool breezes blow down from the snow-mantled
ranges gleaming in the distance, and the medicinal springs draw many
tourists in search of health and recuperation.

My purpose, however, in visiting this idyllic spot--I went there from
Red Cliff--was not primarily to view the scenery, nor to make use of the
healing waters, but to gratify my thirst for bird-lore. Having spent
some weeks in observing the avi-fauna east of the range, I had a
curiosity to know something of bird life west of the great chain of
alpine heights, and therefore I selected Glenwood as a fertile field in
which to carry on some investigations. While my stay at this resort was
all too short, it was of sufficient length to put me in possession of a
number of facts that may prove to be of general interest.

For one thing I learned, somewhat to my surprise, that the avian fauna
on both sides of the Divide is much the same. Indeed, with one
exception--to be noted more at length hereafter--I found no birds on
the western side that I had not previously seen on the eastern side,
although a longer and minuter examination would undoubtedly have
resulted in the discovery of a few species that are peculiar to the
regions beyond the range. In the extreme western and southwestern
portions of Colorado there are quite a number of species that are seldom
or never seen in the eastern part of the State. However, keeping to the
mountainous districts, and given the same altitude and other conditions,
you will be likely to find the same kinds of feathered folk on both
sides of the range. A few concrete cases will make this statement clear.
The elevation of Glenwood is five thousand seven hundred and fifty-eight
feet; that of Colorado Springs, five thousand nine hundred and
ninety-two feet; and the climatic conditions otherwise are practically
the same. Hence at both places the following species were found: Lazuli
buntings, Arkansas goldfinches, American goldfinches, western
wood-pewees, Arkansas kingbirds, Bullock's orioles, grassfinches, and
catbirds. At the same time there were a number of species in both
localities that have a more extensive vertical range, as, for example,
the western robins, which were seen in many places from the bases of the
mountains up to the timber-line, over eleven thousand five hundred feet
above sea-level.


_In the Grand Cañon of the Arkansas River. In cañons like this, their
walls rising almost vertically from one thousand to fifteen hundred
feet, few birds are to be seen. Occasionally a dove will fly from one
side of the gorge to the other before the scurrying train. From below a
magpie or a Clark's crow may sometimes be seen flying overhead across
the fearful chasm from one wall to the other, turning its head at
intervals as if to inspect and question the spectator over a thousand
feet below._


The presence of practically the same avian fauna on both sides of the
great range suggests some speculations as to their movements in the
migrating season. Do those on the western side of the mountains travel
over the towering summits from the eastern plains? Or do they come up
from their southern winter homes by way of the valleys and plains west
of the range? Undoubtedly the latter is the correct surmise, for there
were birds at Glenwood that are never known to ascend far into the
mountains, and should they attempt to cross the Divide in the early
spring, they would surely perish in the intense cold of those elevated
regions, where snow often falls even in June, July, and August. One can
easily imagine some of the eastern and western residents meeting in the
autumn on the plains at the southern extremity of the mountain range,
dwelling together in some southern locality throughout the winter, and
then, when spring approaches, taking their separate routes, part going
east and part west of the range, for their breeding haunts in the North.
More than likely they do not meet again until the following autumn.
There are individuals, doubtless, that never catch a glimpse of the
western side of the great American watershed, while others are deprived
of the privilege of looking upon the majestic panoramas of the eastern

What has just been said applies, of course, only to those species that
prefer to dwell in the lower altitudes. There are other species that
find habitats to their taste in the most elevated localities, ranging
at will in the summer time over the bald summits in the regions of
perpetual snow. Among these may be mentioned the brown-capped
leucostictes, the American pipits, the ravens, and Brewer's blackbirds.
These species will often have the privilege of looking upon the scenery
on both sides of the range, and you and I can scarcely repress a feeling
of envy when we think of their happy freedom, and their frequent
opportunities to go sightseeing.

While taking an early morning stroll along one of the streets of
Glenwood, I caught sight of a new member of the phoebe family, its
reddish breast and sides differentiating it from the familiar phoebe
of the East. Afterwards I identified it as Say's phoebe, a distinctly
western species. Its habits are like those of its eastern relative. A
pair of Say's phoebes had placed their nest on a beam of a veranda,
near the roof, where they could be seen carrying food to their young. My
notes say nothing of their singing a tune or even uttering a chirp. This
was my first observation of Say's phoebe, although, as will be seen, I
subsequently saw one under somewhat peculiar circumstances.

Having spent all the time I could spare at Glenwood, one morning I
boarded the eastward-bound train, and was soon whirling up through the
sublime cañons of Grand and Eagle Rivers, keeping on the alert for such
birds as I could see from the car-window. Few birds, as has been said,
can be seen in the dark gorges of the mountains, the species that are
most frequently descried being the turtle doves, with now and then a
small flock of blackbirds. The open, sunlit valleys of the upper
mountains, watered by the brawling streams, are much more to the liking
of many birds, especially the mountain song-sparrows, the white-crowned
sparrows, the green-tailed towhees, and Audubon's and Wilson's warblers.
Up, up, for many miles the double-headed train crept, tooting and
puffing hard, until at length it reached the highest point on the route,
which is Tennessee Pass, through the tunnel of which it swept with a
sullen roar, issuing into daylight on the eastern side, where the waters
of the streams flow eastward instead of westward. The elevation of this
tunnel is ten thousand four hundred and eighteen feet, which is still
about a thousand feet below the timber-line. A minute after emerging
from the tunnel's mouth I caught sight of a red-shafted flicker which
went bolting across the narrow valley. The train swept down the valley
for some miles, stopped long enough to have another engine coupled to
the one that had brought us down from the tunnel, then wheeled to the
left and began the ascent to the city of Leadville. This city is
situated on a sloping plain on the mountain side, in full view of many
bald mountain peaks whose gorges are filled with deep snow-drifts
throughout the summer. For some purposes Leadville may be an exceedingly
desirable city, but it has few attractions for the ornithologist. I took
a long walk through a part of the city, and, whether you will believe it
or not, I did not see a single bird outside of a cage, not even a
house-finch or an English sparrow, nor did I see one tree in my entire
stroll along the busy streets. The caged birds seen were a canary and a
cardinal, and, oddly enough, both of them were singing, mayhap for very

Why should a bird student tarry here? What was there to keep him in a
birdless place like this? I decided to leave at once, and so, checking
my baggage through to Buena Vista, I started afoot down the mountain
side, determined to walk to Malta, a station five miles below, observing
the birds along the way. Not a feathered lilter was seen until I had
gone about a mile from Leadville, when a disconsolate robin appeared
among some scraggy pine bushes, not uttering so much as a chirp by way
of greeting.

A few minutes later I heard a vigorous and musical chirping in the pine
bushes, and, turning aside, found a flock of small, finch-like birds.
They flitted about so rapidly that it was impossible to get a good view
of them with my glasses; but such glimpses as I obtained revealed a
prevailing grayish, streaked with some darker color, while a glint of
yellow in their wings and tails was displayed as the birds flew from
bush to bush. When the wings were spread, a narrow bar of yellow or
whitish-yellow seemed to stretch across them lengthwise, giving them a
gauzy appearance. The birds remained together in a more or less compact
flock. They uttered a loud, clear chirp that was almost musical, and
also piped a quaint trill that was almost as low and harsh as that of
the little clay-colored sparrow, although occasionally one would lift
his voice to a much higher pitch. What were these tenants of the dry and
piney mountain side? They were pine siskins, which I had ample
opportunity to study in my rambles among the mountains in 1901.

[Illustration: _Pine Siskins_]

A mile farther down, a lone mountain bluebird appeared in sight, perched
on a gray stump on the gray hillside, and keeping as silent as if it
were a crime in bluebird-land to utter a sound. This bird's breeding
range extends from the plains to the timber-line; and he dwells on both
sides of the mountains, for I met with him at Glenwood. About a half
mile above Malta a western nighthawk was seen, hurtling in his
eccentric, zigzag flight overhead, uttering his strident call, and
"hawking for flies," as White of Selborne would phrase it. A western
grassfinch flew over to some bushes with a morsel in its bill, but I
could not discover its nest or young, search as I would. Afterwards it
perched on a telegraph wire and poured out its evening voluntary, which
was the precise duplicate of the trills of the grassfinches of eastern
North America. There seems to be only a slight difference between the
eastern and western forms of these birds, so slight, indeed, that they
can be distinguished only by having the birds in hand.

Turtle doves were also plentiful in the valley above Malta, as they were
in most suitable localities. Here were also several western robins, one
of which saluted me with a cheerful carol, whose tone and syllabling
were exactly like those of the merry redbreast of our Eastern States. I
was delighted to find the sweet-voiced white-crowned sparrows tenants of
this valley, although they were not so abundant here as they had been a
little over a week before in the hollows below the summit of Pike's
Peak. But what was the bird which was singing so blithely a short
distance up the slope? He remained hidden until I drew near, when he
ran off on the ground like a frightened doe, and was soon ensconced in a
sage bush. Note his chestnut crest and greenish back. This is the
green-tailed towhee. He is one of the finest vocalists of the Rocky
Mountains, his tones being strong and well modulated, his execution
almost perfect as to technique, and his entire song characterized by a
quality that might be defined as human expressiveness.

A pair of western chipping sparrows were feeding their young in one of
the sage bushes. I hoped to find a nest, but my quest simply proved that
the bantlings had already left their nurseries. It was some
satisfaction, however, to establish the fact at first hand that the
western chipping sparrows breed at an elevation of nine thousand five
hundred and eighty feet above sea-level.

While strolling about a short distance above the town, I discovered an
underground passage leading to some of the factories, or perhaps the
smelting works, a few miles farther up the valley. The over-arching
ground and timbers forming the roof were broken through at various
places, making convenient openings for the unwary pedestrian to tumble
through should he venture to stroll about here by night. Suddenly a
little broad-shouldered bird appeared from some mysterious quarter, and
flitted silently about from bush to bush or from one tussock of grass to
another. To my surprise, he presently dropped into one of the openings
of the subterranean passage, disappeared for a few moments, and then
emerged from another opening a little farther away. The bird--let me say
at once--was Say's phoebe, with which, as previously told, I made
acquaintance at Glenwood. He may be recognized by the reddish or
cinnamon-brown cast of his abdomen and sides. Again and again he darted
into the passage, perhaps to make sure that his bairns had not been
kidnapped, and then came up to keep a vigilant eye on his visitor, whom
he was not wholly disposed to trust. I am not sure that there was a nest
in the subterranean passage, as my time was too short to look for it.
Others may not regard it as an important ornithological discovery, and I
do not pretend that it was epoch-making, but to me it was at least
interesting to find this species, which was new to me, dwelling at an
elevation of five thousand seven hundred and fifty-eight feet on the
western side of the range, and on the eastern side at an elevation of
nine thousand five hundred and eighty feet. Nowhere else in my
peregrinations among the Rockies did I so much as catch a glimpse of
Say's phoebe.[6]

    [6] In 1901 this bird was seen by me in South Park, and its quaint
    whistle was heard,--it says _Phe-by_, but its tone and expression
    are different from those of its eastern relative. See the chapter
    entitled "Pleasant Outings."

With the exception of some swallows circling about in the air, I saw no
other birds during my brief stay at Malta. I was sorely disappointed in
not being able to find accommodation at this place, for it had been my
intention to remain here for the night, and walk the next day to a
station called Granite, some seventeen miles farther down the valley,
making observations on bird life in the region by the way. To this day I
regret that my calculations went "agley"; but I was told that
accommodation was not to be secured at Malta "for love or money," and so
I shook the dust from my feet, and boarded an evening train for my next
stopping-place, which was Buena Vista.

The elevation of this beautiful mountain town is seven thousand nine
hundred and sixty-seven feet. It nestles amid cottonwood trees and green
meadows in a wide valley or park, and is flanked on the east by the
rolling and roaring Arkansas River, while to the west the plain slopes
up gradually to the foothills of the three towering college
peaks,--Harvard, Yale, and Princeton,--crowned all the year with snow.
And here were birds in plenty. Before daybreak the avian concert began
with the shrieking of the western wood-pewees--a vocal performance that
they, in their innocence, seriously mistake for melody--and continued
until night had again settled on the vale. In this place I spent three
or four days, giving myself up to my favorite study and pastime, and a
list of all the birds that I saw in the neighborhood would surprise the
reader. However, a mere catalogue would be of slight interest, I
apprehend, and therefore mention will be made only of those species
which I had not seen elsewhere, passing by such familiar feathered folk
as the Arkansas goldfinches, catbirds, western meadow-larks, Brewer's
blackbirds, house-finches, green-tailed towhees, magpies, long-crested
jays, summer warblers, and many others, begging their pardon, of course,
for paying them such scant courtesy.

Early on a bright morning I was following one of the streets of the
village, when, on reaching the suburbs, I was greeted by a blithe,
dulcet trill which could come from no other vocalist than the
song-sparrow. His tones and vocalization were precisely like those of
_Melospiza fasciata_, to which I have so often listened in my native
State of Ohio. It was a dulcet strain, and stirred memories half sad,
half glad, of many a charming ramble about my eastern home when the
song-sparrows were the chief choralists in the outdoor opera festival.
Peering into the bushes that fringed the gurgling mountain brook, I soon
caught sight of the little triller, and found that, so far as I could
distinguish them with my field-glass, his markings were just like those
of his eastern relative--the same mottled breast, with the large dusky
blotch in the centre.

Delighted as I was with the bird's aria, I could not decide whether this
was the common song-sparrow or the mountain song-sparrow. Something
over a week earlier I had seen what I took to be the mountain
song-sparrow in a green nook below the summit of Pike's Peak, and had
noted his trill as a rather shabby performance in comparison with the
tinkling chansons of the song-sparrow of the East. Had I mistaken some
other bird for the mountain song-sparrow? Or was the Buena Vista bird
the common song-sparrow which had gone entirely beyond its Colorado
range? Consulting Professor W. W. Cooke's list of Colorado birds, I
found that _Melospiza fasciata_ is marked "migratory, rare," and has
been known thus far only in the extreme eastern part of the State;
whereas _Melospiza fasciata montana_ is a summer resident, "common
throughout the State in migration, and not uncommon as a breeder from
the plains to eight thousand feet."

But Professor Cooke fails to give a clue to the song of either variety,
and therefore my little problem remains unsolved, as I could not think
of taking the life of a dulcet-voiced bird merely to discover whether it
should have "_montana_" affixed to its scientific name or not. All I can
say is, if this soloist was a mountain song-sparrow, he reproduced
exactly the trills of his half-brothers of the East.[7] On the morning
of my departure from Buena Vista another song-sparrow sang his matins,
in loud, clear tones among the bushes of a stream that flowed through
the town, ringing quite a number of changes in his tune, all of them
familiar to my ear from long acquaintance with the eastern forms of the
_Melospiza_ subfamily.

    [7] The problem has since been solved, through the aid of Mr. Aiken.
    The Buena Vista bird was _montana_, while the bird in the Pike's
    Peak hollow was Lincoln's sparrow.

How well I recall a rainy afternoon during my stay at Buena Vista! The
rain was not so much of a downpour as to drive me indoors, although it
made rambling in the bushes somewhat unpleasant. What was this haunting
song that rose from a thick copse fringing one of the babbling mountain
brooks? It mingled sweetly with the patter of the rain upon the leaves.
Surely it was the song of the veery thrush! The same rich, melodious
strain, sounding as if it were blown through a wind-harp, setting all
the strings a-tune at the same time. Too long and closely had I studied
the veery's minstrelsy in his summer haunts in northern Minnesota to be
deceived now--unless, indeed, this fertile avian region produced another
thrush which whistled precisely the same tune. The bird's alarm-call was
also like that of the veery. The few glimpses he permitted of his
flitting, shadowy form convinced me that he must be a veery, and so I
entered him in my note-book.

But on looking up the matter--for the bird student must aim at
accuracy--what was my surprise to find that the Colorado ornithologists
have decided that the veery thrush is not a resident of the State, nor
even an occasional visitor! Of course I could not set up my judgment
against that of those scientific gentlemen. But what could this minstrel
be? I wrote to my friend, Mr. Charles E. Aiken, of Colorado Springs, who
replied that the bird was undoubtedly the willow thrush, which is the
western representative of the veery. I am willing to abide by this
decision, especially as Ridgway indicates in his Manual that there is
very little difference in the coloration of the two varieties. One more
mile-post had been passed in my never-ending ornithological journey--I
had learned for myself and others that the willow thrush of the Rockies
and the veery of our Eastern and Middle States have practically the same
musical repertory, and nowhere in the East or the West is sweeter and
more haunting avian minstrelsy to be heard, if only it did not give one
that sad feeling which Heine calls _Heimweh_!

[Illustration: _Willow Thrush_]


[Illustration: PLATE IV

LARK BUNTING--_Calamospiza melanocorys_
(Upper figure, male; lower, female)]

"You will find a small lake just about a mile from town. Follow the road
leading out this way"--indicating the direction--"until you come to a
red gate. The lake is private property, but you can go right in, as you
don't shoot. No one will drive you out. I think you will find it an
interesting place for bird study."

[Illustration: _Brewer's Blackbirds_

"_An interesting place for bird study_"]

The foregoing is what my landlord told me one morning at Buena Vista.
Nor did I waste time in finding the way to the lake, a small sheet of
water, as clear as crystal, embowered in the lovely park lying between
towering, snow-clad mountains. One might almost call the spot a bird's
Arcadia. In no place, in all my tramping among the Rockies, did I find
so many birds in an equal area.

In the green, irrigated meadow bordering one side of the sheet of water,
I was pleased to find a number of Brewer's blackbirds busily gathering
food in the wet grass for their young. And who or what are Brewer's
blackbirds? In the East, the purple and bronzed grackles, or crow
blackbirds, are found in great abundance; but in Colorado these birds
are replaced by Brewer's blackbirds, which closely resemble their
eastern kinsfolk, although not quite so large. The iridescence of the
plumage is somewhat different in the two species, but in both the golden
eye-balls show white at a distance. When I first saw a couple of
Brewer's blackbirds stalking featly about on a lawn at Manitou, digging
worms and grubs out of the sod, I simply put them down in my note-book
as bronzed or purple grackles--an error that had to be corrected
afterwards, on more careful examination. The mistake shows how close is
the resemblance between the two species.

The Brewer division of the family breed on the plains and in the
mountains, to an altitude of ten thousand feet, always selecting marshy
places for their early summer home; then in August and September, the
breeding season over, large flocks of old and young ascend to the
regions above the timber-line, about thirteen thousand feet above
sea-level, where they swarm over the grassy but treeless mountain sides
in search of food. In October they retire to the plains, in advance of
the austere weather of the great altitudes, and soon the majority of
them hie to a blander climate than Colorado affords in winter.

Still more interesting to me was the large colony of yellow-headed
blackbirds that had taken up their residence in the rushes and flags of
the upper end of the lake. These birds are not such exclusive westerners
as their ebon-hued cousins just described; for I found them breeding at
Lake Minnetonka, near Minneapolis, Minnesota, a few years ago, and they
sometimes straggle, I believe, as far east as Ohio. A most beautiful
bird is this member of the _Icteridæ_ family, a kind of Beau Brummel
among his fellows, with his glossy black coat and rich yellow--and even
orange, in highest feather--mantle covering the whole head, neck, and
breast, and a large white, decorative spot on the wings, showing plainly
in flight. He is the handsomest blackbird with which I am acquainted.

At the time of my visit to the lake, the latter part of June, the
yellow-heads were busy feeding their young, many of which had already
left the nest. From the shore, I could see dozens of them clinging to
the reeds, several of which they would grasp with the claws of each
foot, their little legs straddled far apart, the flexile rushes
spreading out beneath their weight. There the youngsters perched,
without seeming to feel any discomfort from their strained position. And
what a racket they made when the parent birds returned from an excursion
to distant meadows and lawns, with bill-some tidbits! They were
certainly a hungry lot of bairns. When I waded out into the shallow
water toward their rushy home, the old birds became quite uneasy,
circling about above me like the red-wings, and uttering a harsh
blackbird "chack," varied at intervals by a loud, and not unmusical,

[Illustration: _Yellow-Headed Blackbirds_

"_There the youngsters perched_"]

You should see the nest of the yellow-head. It is really a fine
structure, showing no small amount of artistic skill--a plaited cup,
looking almost as if it had been woven by human hands, the rushes of the
rim and sides folding the supporting reeds in their loops. Thus the nest
and its reedy pillars are firmly bound together. I waded out to a clump
of rushes and found one nest with three eggs in its softly felted
cup--the promise, no doubt, of a belated, or possibly a second, brood.

This mountain lake was also the abode of a number of species of ducks,
not all of which could be identified, on account of the distance they
constantly put between themselves and the observer. Flocks of them
floated like light, feathered craft upon the silvery bosom of the lake,
now pursuing one another, now drifting lazily, now diving, and anon
playing many attractive gambols.

One of the most curious ducks I have ever seen was the ruddy duck,
called in the scientific manuals _Erismatura rubida_. As I sat on a rock
on the shore, watching the aquatic fowl, one of the male ruddy ducks,
accompanied by three or four females, swam out from the reeds into an
open space where I could see him plainly with my field-glass. A
beautiful picture he presented, as he glided proudly about on the water,
surrounded by his devoted harem. Imagine, if you can, how regal he must
have appeared--his broad, flat bill, light blue, widening out at the
commissure, and seeming to shade off into the large white cheeks, which
looked like snowy puffballs on the sides of his head; his crown, black
and tapering; his neck, back, and sides, a rich, glossy brownish-red;
his lower parts, "silky, silvery white, 'watered' with dusky, yielding,
gray undulations"; and his wing-coverts and jauntily perked-up tail,
black. If that was not a picture worthy of an artist's brush I have
never seen one in the outdoor world.

No less quaint was his conduct. That he was proud and self-conscious, no
one seeing him could doubt; and it was just as plain from his
consequential mien, that he was posing before his train of plainly clad
wives, who, no doubt, looked upon him as the greatest "catch" of the
lake. Unlike most ducks, in swimming this haughty major carries his head
erect, and even bent backward at a sharp angle; and his short tail is
cocked up and bent forward, so that his glossy back forms a graceful
half-circle or more, and does not slope downward, as do the backs of
most ducks on the water.

Of all the odd gestures, this fellow's carried off the palm. He would
draw his head up and back, then thrust it forward a few inches, extend
his blue bill in a horizontal line, and at the same time emit a low,
coarse squawk that I could barely hear. Oddly enough, all the females,
staid as they were, imitated their liege lord's deportment. It was their
way of protesting against my ill-bred intrusion into their demesne.

Presently a second male came out into the open space, accompanied by a
retinue of wives, and then a third emerged, similarly attended. With
this there was a challenging among the rivals that was interesting to
witness; they fairly strutted about on the water, now advancing, now
retreating, and occasionally almost, but never quite, closing in combat.
Sometimes one would pursue another for a rod or more, in a swift rush
that would make the spray fly and cut a swath on the smooth bosom of
the lake.

Several coots now appeared on the scene. Between them and the ruddy
ducks there seemed to be a feud of more or less intensity, each being on
the offensive or the defensive as the exigencies of naval warfare
demanded. Once I was moved to laughter as a coot made a fierce dash
toward one of the ducks, and was almost upon her, and I thought she was
destined to receive a severe trouncing, when she suddenly dodged her
pursuer by diving. He just as suddenly gave up the chase, looking as if
it were a case of "sour grapes," anyway.

After watching the antics of these birds for a long time, I turned my
attention to another pretty scene,--a pair of coots leading their family
of eight or ten little ones out into the clear area from their
hiding-place among the reeds, presenting a picture of unruffled domestic
bliss. How sweet and innocent the little coots were! Instead of the
black heads and necks of their parents, and the white bills and frontal
bones, these parts were tinted with red, which appeared quite bright and
gauze-like in the sunshine.

The process of feeding the juvenile birds was interesting. The parents
would swim about, then suddenly dip their heads into the water, or else
dive clear under, coming up with slugs in their bills. Turning to the
youngsters, which were always close upon their heels--or perhaps I
would better say their tails--they would hold out their bills, when the
little ones would swim up and pick off the toothsome morsel. It must not
be supposed that the bantlings opened their mouths, as most young birds
do, to receive the tidbits. No, indeed! That is not coot vogue. The
little ones picked the insects from the sides of the papa's or mamma's
beak, turning their own little heads cunningly to one side as they
helped themselves to their luncheon.

The other waterfowl of the lake acted in an ordinary way, and therefore
need no description. It was strange, however, that this was the only
lake seen in all my Rocky Mountain touring where I found waterfowl. At
Seven Lakes, Moraine Lake, and others in the vicinity of Pike's Peak,
not a duck, crane, or coot was to be seen; and the same was true of
Cottonwood Lake, twelve miles from Buena Vista, right in the heart of
the rugged mountains.

[Illustration: "_From their place among the reeds_"]

Two facts may account for the abundance of birds at the little lake near
Buena Vista; first, here they were protected from gunners and pot
hunters by the owner, whose residence commanded a full view of the whole
area; and, second, large spaces of the upper end of the lake was thickly
grown with flags and rushes, which were cut off from the shore by a
watery space of considerable breadth. In this place these birds found
coverts from enemies and suitable sites for their nests.


It shall be my purpose in this chapter to describe with more or less
fulness a number of Rocky Mountain birds which have either not been
mentioned in previous chapters or have received only casual attention.

On reaching Colorado one is surprised to find none of our common blue
jays which are so abundant in the Eastern and Middle States. In my
numerous Rocky Mountain jaunts not one was seen. Yet this region does
not need to go begging for jays, only they belong to different groups of
the _Garrulinæ_ subfamily. The most abundant and conspicuous of these
western forms are the long-crested jays, so called on account of the
long tuft of black feathers adorning the occiput. This distinguishing
mark is not like the firm pyramidal crest of the eastern jay, but is
longer and narrower, and so flexible that it sways back and forth as the
bird flits from branch to branch or takes a hop-skip-and-jump over the
ground. Its owner can raise and lower it at will.

The forehead of this jay is prettily sprinkled with white; his head and
neck are black, in decided contrast with the umber-brown of the back;
his rump and belly are pale blue, and his wings and tail are rich
indigo-blue, somewhat iridescent and widely barred with black. Thus it
will be seen that he has quite a different costume from that of our
eastern jay, with his gaudy trimmings of white and black and purplish
blue. The westerner cannot boast of _cristata's_ dressy black collar,
but otherwise he is more richly attired, although he may not be quite so

The long-crested jays have a wide range among the mountains, breeding
from the base of the foothills to the timber-line, although their nests
are not commonly found below an altitude of seven thousand feet. In many
places from nine to eleven thousand feet up the acclivities of the
mountains they were seen flitting among the pines or the quaking asps.
Like their eastern relatives, some individuals seem to prefer the
society of man, dwelling in the villages or in the vicinity of country
homes, while others choose the most secluded and solitary localities for
their habitat. The fact is, I rarely made an excursion anywhere without
sooner or later discovering that these jays had pre-empted the place for
feeding or breeding purposes, sometimes with loud objurgations bidding
me be gone, and at other times making no to-do whatever over my
intrusion. Perhaps the proximity or remoteness of their nests was the
chief cause of this variableness in their behavior.

A pretty picture is one of these jays mounting from branch to branch
around the stem of a pine tree, from the lower limbs to the top, as if
he were ascending a spiral staircase. This seems to be one of their
regulation habits when they find themselves under inspection. If you
intrude on their domestic precincts, their cry is quite harsh, and bears
no resemblance to the quaint calls of the eastern jays; nor does the
plaintive note of the eastern representative, so frequently heard in the
autumnal woods, ever issue from any of the numerous jay throats of the

Far be it from me to blacken the reputation of any bird, but there is at
least circumstantial evidence that the long-crested jay, like his
eastern cousin, is a nest robber; for such birds as robins, tanagers,
flycatchers, and vireos make war upon him whenever he comes within their
breeding districts, and this would indicate that they are only too well
aware of his predatory habits. More than that, he has the sly and
stealthy manners of the sneak-thief and the brigand. Of course, he is by
no means an unmixed evil, for you will often see him leaping about on
the lawns, capturing beetles and worms which would surely be injurious
to vegetation if allowed to live and multiply.

There are other jays in the Rockies that deserve attention. The Rocky
Mountain jay--_Perisoneus canadensis capitalis_--is a bird of the higher
altitudes, remaining near the timber-line all the year round, braving
the most rigorous weather and the fiercest mountain storms during the
winter. Although not an attractive species, his hardiness invests him
with not a little interest. One can imagine him seeking a covert in the
dense pineries when a storm sweeps down from the bald, snow-mantled
summits, squawking his disapproval of the ferocity of old Boreas, and
yet able to resist his most violent onsets.

[Illustration: _The Rocky Mountain Jay_

"_Seeking a covert in the dense pineries when a storm sweeps down from
the mountains_"]

Early in April, at an altitude of from eight thousand to eleven thousand
five hundred feet, these jays begin to breed. At that height this is
long before the snow ceases to fall; indeed, on the twentieth of June,
while making the descent from Pike's Peak, I was caught in a snowfall
that gave the ground quite a frosty aspect for a few minutes. One can
readily fancy, therefore, that the nests of these birds are often
surrounded with snow, and that the bantlings may get their first view
of the world in the swirl of a snow-squall. The nests are built in pine
bushes and trees at various distances from the ground. Of all the
hurly-burlies ever heard, that which these birds are able to make when
you go near their nests, or discover them, bears off the palm, their
voices being as raucous as a buzz-saw, fairly setting your teeth on

Those of us who live in the East are so accustomed to the adjective
"blue" in connection with the jay that we are surprised to find that _P.
c. capitalis_ wears no blue whatever, but dons a sombre suit of leaden
gray, somewhat relieved by the blackish shade of the wings and tail,
with their silvery or frosted lustre. He is certainly not an attractive
bird, either in dress or in form, for he appears very "thick-headed" and
lumpish, as if he scarcely knew enough to seek shelter in a time of
storm; but, of course, a bird that contrives to coax a livelihood out of
such unpromising surroundings must possess a fine degree of
intelligence, and, therefore, cannot be so much of a dullard as his
appearance would indicate.

He has some interesting ways, too, as will be seen from the following
quotation from a Colorado writer: "White-headed, grave, and sedate, he
seems a very paragon of propriety, and if you appear to be a suitable
personage, he will be apt to give you a bit of advice. Becoming
confidential, he sputters out a lot of nonsense which causes you to
think him a veritable 'whiskey Jack.' Yet, whenever he is disposed, a
more bland, mind-your-own-business appearing bird will be hard to find;
as will also many small articles around camp after one of his visits,
for his whimsical brain has a great fancy for anything which may be
valuable to you, but perfectly useless to himself." This habit of
purloining has won him the title of "camp robber" among the people of
the Rocky Mountains.

Woodhouse's jay, also peculiar to the Rocky Mountain region, is mostly
to be found along the base of the foothills and the lower wooded
mountains. While he may be called a "blue" jay, having more of that
color in his plumage than even the long-crested, he belongs to the
_Aphelcoma_ group--that is, he is without a crest.

Every observer of eastern feathered folk is familiar with our "little
boy blue," the indigo-bird, whose song is such a rollicking and saucy
air, making you feel as if the little lyrist were chaffing you. In
Colorado, however, you do not meet this animated chunk of blue, but
another little bird that belongs to the same group, called the "painted
finches," although their plumes are not painted any more than those of
other species. This bird is the lazuli bunting. He wears a great deal of
blue, but it is azure, and not indigo, covering the head, neck, most of
the upper parts, and the lining of the wings; and, as if to give
variety to the bird's attire, the nape and back are prettily shaded with
brown, and the wings and tail with black. But his plumage is still more
variegated, for he bears a conspicuous white spot on the greater
wing-coverts, and his breast is daintily tinted with chestnut-brown,
abruptly cut off from the blue of the throat, while the remaining under
parts are snowy white. From this description it will be seen that he is
quite unlike the indigo-bird, which has no brown or white in his
cerulean attire. Handsome as Master Indigo is, the lazuli finch, with
his sextet of hues, is a more showily dressed bird; in fact, a lyric in

The habits of the two birds are quite similar. However, the lazuli
seemed to be much shyer than his relative, for the latter is a familiar
figure at the border of our eastern woodlands, about our country homes,
and even in the neighborhood of our town dwellings, when there are
bushes and trees close at hand. My saunterings among the mountains took
me into the haunts of the lazulis, but I regret to have to confess that
all my alertness was of so little avail that I saw only three males and
one female. One day, while rambling among the cottonwoods that broidered
the creek flowing south of Colorado Springs, I was brought to a
standstill by a sharp chirp, and the next moment a pair of lazulis
appeared on the lower branches and twigs of a tree. There they sat quiet
enough, watching me keenly, but allowing me to peer at them at will
with my field-glass. I could not understand why birds that otherwise
were so shy should now permit a prolonged inspection and manifest so
little anxiety; but perhaps they reasoned that they had been discovered
anyway, and there was no need of pretending that no lazulis dwelt in the
neighborhood. How elegant the little husband looked in his variegated
attire! The wife was soberly clad in warm brown, slightly streaked with
dusk, but she was trig and pretty and worthy of her more richly
apparelled spouse. In the bushes below I found a well-made nest, which I
felt morally certain belonged to the little couple that was keeping such
faithful surveillance over it. As yet it contained no eggs.

In order to make certainty doubly sure, I visited the place a week or so
later, and found that my previous conclusion had been correct. I flushed
the little madame from the nest, and saw her flit with a chirp to the
twigs above, where she sat quietly watching her visitor, exhibiting no
uneasiness whatever about her cot in the bushes with its three precious
eggs. It was pleasing to note the calmness and dignity with which she
regarded me. But where was that important personage, the little husband?
He was nowhere to be seen, although I lingered about the charmed spot
for over two hours, hoping to get at least a glimpse of him. A friend,
who understands the sly ways of the lazulis, suggested that very likely
the male was watching me narrowly all the while from a safe hiding-place
in the dense foliage of some tree not far away.

My friend told me that I would not be able to distinguish the song of
the lazuli from those of the summer and mountain warblers. We shall see
whether he was right. One evening I was searching for a couple of blue
grosbeaks at the border of Colorado Springs, where I had previously seen
them, when a loud, somewhat percussive song, much like the summer
warbler's, burst on my ear, coming from a clump of willow bushes hard by
the stream. At once I said to myself, "That is not the summer warbler's
trill. It resembles the challenging song of the indigo-bird, only it is
not quite so loud and defiant. A lazuli finch's song, or I am sadly
astray! Let me settle the question now."

I did settle it to my great satisfaction, for, after no little effort, I
succeeded in obtaining a plain view of the elusive little lyrist, and,
sure enough, it proved to be the lazuli finch. Metaphorically I patted
myself with a great deal of self-complacency, as I muttered: "The idea
of Mr. Aiken's thinking I had so little discrimination! I know that
hereafter I shall be able to detect the lazuli's peculiar intonations
every time." So I walked home in a very self-confident frame of mind. A
few days later I heard another song lilting down from the upper branches
of a small tree. "Surely that is the lazuli again," I muttered. "I know
that voice." For a while I eyed the tree, and presently caught sight of
the little triller, and behold, it was--a summer warbler! All my
self-complacency vanished in a moment; I wasn't cock-sure of anything;
and I am obliged to confess that I was led astray in a similar manner
more than once afterward. It may indicate an odd psychological condition
to make the claim; but, absurd or not, I am disposed to believe that,
whenever I really heard the lazuli, I was able to recognize his song
with a fair degree of certainty, but when I heard the summer warbler I
was thrown into more or less confusion, not being quite sure whether it
was that bird or the other.

The most satisfactory lazuli song I heard was on the western side of the
range, at the resort called Glenwood. This time, as was usually the
case, I heard the little triller before seeing him, and was sure it was
_Passerina amoena_, as the bunting strains were plainly discernible.
He was sitting on a telephone wire, and did not flit away as I stood
below and peered at him through my glass, and admired his trig and
handsome form. I studied his song, and tried to fix the peculiar
intonations in my mind, and felt positive that I could never be caught
again--but I was.[8]

    [8] In the foregoing remarks the lazuli finches have been
    represented as excessively shy. So they were in 1899 in the
    neighborhoods then visited. Strangely enough, in the vicinity of
    Denver in 1901, these birds were abundant and as easily approached
    and studied as are the indigoes of the East. See the chapter
    entitled, "Plains and Foothills."

The lazuli finch does not venture very high into the mountains, seldom
reaching an altitude of more than seven thousand feet. He is a lover of
the plains, the foothills, and the lower ranges of the mountains. In
this respect he differs from some other little birds, which seek a
summer home in the higher regions. On the southern slope of Pike's Peak,
a little below the timber-line, I found a dainty little bird which was a
stranger to me. It was Audubon's warbler. At first sight I decided that
he must be the myrtle warbler, but was compelled to change my conclusion
when I got a glimpse of his throat, which was golden yellow, whereas the
throat of _Dendroica coronata_ is pure white. Then, too, the myrtle
warbler is only a migrant in Colorado, passing farther north to breed.
Audubon's, it must be said, has extremely rich habiliments, his upper
parts being bluish-ash, streaked with black, his belly and under
tail-coverts white, and his breast in high feather, black, prettily
skirted with gray or invaded with white from below; but his yellow
spots, set like gleaming gold in various parts of his plumage,
constitute his most marked embellishment, being found on the crown,
rump, throat, and each side of the chest.

On my first excursion to some meadows and wooded low-grounds south of
Colorado Springs, while listening to a concert given by western
meadow-larks, my attention was attracted to a large, black bird circling
about the fields and then alighting on a fence-post. My first thought
was: "It is only a crow blackbird." But on second thought I decided that
the crow blackbird did not soar and circle about in this manner. At all
events, there seemed to be something slightly peculiar about this bird's
behavior, so I went nearer to inspect him, when he left his perch on the
post, flapped around over the meadow, and finally flew to a large,
partially decayed cottonwood tree in a pasture field. If I could believe
my eyes, he clung to the upright stems of the branches after the style
of a woodpecker! That was queer indeed--a woodpecker that looked
precisely like a blackbird! Such a featherland oddity was certainly
foreign to any of my calculations; for, it must be remembered, this was
prior to my making acquaintance with Williamson's sapsucker.

Closer inspection proved that this bird was actually hitching up and
down the branches of the tree in the regular woodpecker fashion.
Presently he slipped into a hole in a large limb, and the loud, eager
chirping of young birds was heard. It was not long before his mate
appeared, entered the cavity, and fed the clamorous brood. The birds
proved to be Lewis's woodpeckers, another distinctly western type. My
field-glass soon clearly brought out their peculiar markings.

A beautiful bird-skin, bought of Mr. Charles E. Aiken, now lies on my
desk and enables me to describe the fine habiliments of this kind from
an actual specimen. His upper parts are glossy black, the sheen on the
back being greenish, and that on the wings and tail bluish or purplish,
according to the angle of the sun's light; a white collar prettily
encircles the neck, becoming quite narrow on the nape, but widening out
on the side so as to cover the entire breast and throat. This pectoral
shield is mottled with black and lightly stained with buff in spots; the
forehead, chin, superciliary line, and a broad space on the cheek are
dyed a deep crimson; and, not least by any means, the abdomen is washed
with pink, which is delicately stencilled with white, gray, and buff. A
most gorgeous bird, fairly rivalling, but not distancing, Williamson's

By accident I made a little discovery relative to the claws of this
woodpecker which, I suppose, would be true of all the _Picidæ_ family.
The claws of the two fore toes are sharply curved and extremely acute,
making genuine hooks, so that when I attempt to pass my finger over them
the points catch at the skin. Could a better hook be contrived for
enabling the bird to clamber up the trunks and branches of trees? But
note: the claws of the two hind toes are not so sharply decurved, nor
so acute at the points, the finger slipping readily over them. Who can
deny the evidence of design in nature? The fore claws are highly
specialized for clinging, the very purpose for which they are needed,
while the hind claws, being used for a different purpose--only that of
support--are moulded over a different pattern.

Like our common red-head, this bird has the habit of soaring out into
the air and nabbing insects on the wing. The only other pair of these
woodpeckers I was so fortunate as to meet with were found in the ravine
leading up from Buena Vista to Cottonwood Lake.[9] Their nest was in a
dead tree by the roadside. While the first couple had been entirely
silent, one of the second pair chirped somewhat uneasily when I lingered
beneath his tree, suspecting, no doubt, that I had sinister designs upon
his nest. Unlike some of their kinsmen, these pickers of wood seem to be
quiet and dignified, not given to much demonstration, and are quite
leisurely in their movements both on the branch and on the wing.

    [9] Two years later a pair were seen on a mountain near Golden,
    Colorado, and probably twenty individuals were watched a long time
    from a cañon above Boulder as they circled gracefully over the
    mountains, catching insects on the wing.

One day, when walking up Ute Pass, celebrated both for its magnificent
scenery and its Indian history, I first saw the water-ousel. I had been
inspecting Rainbow Falls, and was duly impressed with its
attractiveness. Thinking I had lingered long enough, I turned away and
clambered up the rocky wall below the falls towards the road above. As I
did so, a loud, bell-like song rang above the roar of the water. On
looking down into the ravine, I saw a mouse-colored bird, a little
smaller than the robin, his tail perked up almost vertically, scuttling
about on the rocks below and dipping his body in an expressive way like
the "tip-up" sandpiper. Having read about this bird, I at once
recognized it as the water-ousel. My interest in everything else
vanished. This was one of the birds I had made my pilgrimage to the
Rockies to study. It required only a few minutes to scramble down into
the ravine again.

Breathlessly I watched the little bird. Its queer teetering is like that
of some of the wrens, accentors, and water-thrushes. Now it ran to the
top of a rock and stood dipping and eying me narrowly, flirting its
bobby tail; now it flew to one of the steep, almost vertical walls of
rock and scrambled up to a protuberance; then down again to the water;
then, to my intense delight, it plunged into the limpid stream, and came
up the next moment with a slug or water-beetle in its bill. Presently it
flew over to the opposite wall, its feet slipping on the wet rocks, and
darted into a small crevice just below the foot of the falls, gave a
quick poke with its beak and flitted away--minus the tidbit it had held
in its bill.


_When the sun strikes the spray and mist at the proper angle, a
beautiful rainbow is painted on the face of the falls. At the time of
the author's visit to this idyllic spot a pair of water-ousels had
chosen it for a summer residence. They flew from the rocks below to the
top of the falls, hugging close to the rushing torrent. In returning,
they darted in one swift plunge from the top to the bottom, alighting on
the rocks below. With the utmost abandon they dived into the seething
waters at the foot of the falls, usually emerging with a slug or beetle
in their bills for the nestlings. Shod with tall rubber boots, the
writer waded close up to the foot of the falls in search of the dipper's
nest, which was set in a cleft of the rocks a few inches above the
water, in the little shadowed cavern at the left of the stream. The
pointed rock wrapped in mist, almost in the line of the plunging tide,
was a favorite perch for the dippers._


Ah! my propitious stars shone on me that day with special favor. I had
found not only the water-ousel itself, but also its nest. Suddenly
water-ousel number two, the mate of number one, appeared on the scene,
dipped, scanned me closely, flew to the slippery wall, darted to the
cranny, and deposited its morsel, as its spouse had done. This time I
heard the chirping of the youngsters. Before examining the nest I
decided to watch the performances of the parent birds, which soon cast
off all the restraint caused for a moment by my presence, taking me, no
doubt, for the ordinary sightseer who overlooks them altogether.

Again and again the birds plunged into the churning flood at the foot of
the falls, sometimes remaining under water what seemed a long while, and
always coming to the surface with a delicacy for the nestlings. They
were able to dip into the swift, white currents and wrestle with them
without being washed away. Of course, the water would sometimes carry
them down stream, but never more than a few inches, and never to a point
where they could be injured. They were perfect masters of the situation.
They simply slipped in and out like living chunks of cork. Their coats
were waterproof, all they needed to do being to shake off the crystal
drops now and then.

Their flight up the almost perpendicular face of the falls was one of
graceful celerity. Up, up, they would mount only a few inches from the
dashing current, and disappear upstream in search of food. In returning,
they would sweep down over the precipitous falls with the swiftness of
arrows, stopping themselves lightly with their outspread wings before
reaching the rocks below. From a human point of view it was a frightful
plunge; from the ousel point of view it was an every-day affair.

[Illustration: _Water-Ousel_

"_Up, up, only a few inches from the dashing current_"]

After watching the tussle between ousel and water for a long time, I
decided to take a peep at their nursery. In order to do this I was
compelled to wade into the stream a little below the falls, through mist
and spray; yet such humid quarters were the natural habitat and
playground of these interesting cinclids. And there the nest was, set in
a cleft about a foot and a half above the water, its outer walls kept
moist by the spray which constantly dashed against them from the falls.
The water was also dripping from the rock that over-hung the nest and
formed its roof. A damp, uncanny place for a bird's domicile, you would
naturally suppose, but the little lovers of cascades knew what they were
about. Only the exterior of the thick, moss-covered walls were moist.
Within, the nest was dry and cosey. It was an oval structure, set in its
rocky cleft like a small oven, with an opening at the front. And there
in the doorway cuddled the two fledglings, looking out at the dripping
walls and the watery tumult, but kept warm and comfortable. I could not
resist touching them and caressing their little heads, considering it
quite an ornithological triumph for one day to find a pair of
water-ousels, discover a nest, and place my finger upon the crowns of
the nestlings.

Scores of tourists visited the famous falls every day, some of them
lingering long in the beautiful place, and yet the little ousels had
gone on with their nest-building and brood-rearing, undisturbed by human
spectators. I wondered whether many of the visitors noticed the birds,
and whether any one but myself had discovered their nest. Indeed, their
little ones were safe enough from human meddling, for one could not see
the nest without wading up the stream into the sphere of the flying

The natural home of _Cinclus mexicanus_ is the Rocky Mountains, to which
he is restricted, not being known anywhere else on this continent. He is
the only member of the dipper family in North America. There is one
species in South America, and another in Europe. He loves the mountain
stream, with its dashing rapids and cascades. Indeed, he will erect his
oven-like cottage nowhere else, and it must be a fall and not a mere
ripple or rapid. Then from this point as a centre--or, rather, the
middle point of a wavering line--he forages up and down the babbling,
meandering brook, feeding chiefly, if not wholly, on water insects.
Strange to say, he never leaves the streams, never makes excursions to
the country roundabout, never flies over a mountain ridge or divide to
reach another valley, but simply pursues the winding streams with a
fidelity that deserves praise for its very singleness of purpose. No
"landlubber" he. It is said by one writer that the dipper has never been
known to alight on a tree, preferring a rock or a piece of driftwood
beside the babbling stream; yet he has the digits and claws of the
passeres, among which he is placed systematically. He is indeed an
anomaly, though a very engaging one. Should he wish to go to another
cañon, he will simply follow the devious stream he is on to its junction
with the stream of the other valley; then up the second defile. His
flight is exceedingly swift. His song is a loud, clear, cheerful strain,
the very quintessence of gladness as it mingles with the roar of the

Farther up Ute Pass I found another nest, which was placed right back
of a cascade, so that the birds had to dash through a curtain of spray
to reach their cot. They also were feeding their young, and I could see
them standing on a rock beneath the shelf, tilting their bodies and
scanning me narrowly before diving into the cleft where the nest was
hidden. This nest, being placed back of the falls, could not be reached.

In Bear Creek cañon I discovered another inaccessible nest, which was
placed in a fissure at the very foot of the falls and only an inch or
two above the agitated waters. There must have been a cavity running
back into the rock, else the nest would have been kept in a soggy
condition all the time.

Perhaps the most interesting dipper's nest I found was one at the
celebrated Seven Falls in the south Cheyenne Cañon. On the face of the
cliff by the side of the lowest fall there was a cleft, in which the
nest was placed, looking like a large bunch of moss and grass. My glass
brought the structure so near that I could plainly see three little
heads protruding from the doorway. There were a dozen or more people
about the falls at the time, who made no attempt at being quiet, and yet
the parent birds flew fearlessly up to the nest with tidbits in their
bills, and were greeted with loud, impatient cries from three hungry
mouths, which were opened wide to receive the food. The total plunge of
the stream over the Seven Falls is hundreds of feet, and yet the adult
birds would toss themselves over the abyss with reckless abandon, stop
themselves without apparent effort in front of their cleft, and thrust
the gathered morsels into the little yellow-lined mouths. It was an
aerial feat that made our heads dizzy. This pair of birds did not fly up
the face of the falls in ascending to the top, as did those at Rainbow
Falls, but clambered up the wall of the cliff close to the side of the
roaring cataract, aiding themselves with both claws and wings. When
gathering food below the falls, they would usually, in going or
returning, fly in a graceful curve over the heads of their human

[Illustration: _Water-Ousel_

"_Three hungry mouths, which were opened wide to receive the food_"]

Although the dipper is not a web-footed bird, and is not classed by the
naturalists among the aquatic fowl, but is, indeed, a genuine passerine,
yet he can swim quite dexterously on the surface of the water. However,
his greatest strength and skill are shown in swimming under water, where
he propels himself with his wings, often to a considerable distance,
either with or against the current. Sometimes he will allow the current
to carry him a short distance down the stream, but he is always able to
stop himself at a chosen point. "Ever and anon," says Mr. John Muir, in
his attractive book on "The Mountains of California," "while searching
for food in the rushing stream, he sidles out to where the too powerful
current carries him off his feet; then he dexterously rises on the wing
and goes gleaning again in shallower places." So it seems that our
little acrobat is equal to every emergency that may arise in his
adventurous life.

In winter, when the rushing mountain streams are flowing with the sludge
of the half-melted snow, so that he cannot see the bottom, where most of
his delicacies lie, he betakes himself to the quieter stretches of the
rivers, or to the mill ponds or mountain lakes, where he finds clearer
and smoother water, although a little deeper than he usually selects.
Such weather does not find him at the end of his resources; no, indeed!
Having betaken himself to a lake, he does not at once plunge into its
depths after the manner of a duck, but finding a perch on a snag or a
fallen pine, he sits there a moment, and then, flying out thirty or
forty yards, "he alights with a dainty glint on the surface, swims
about, looks down, finally makes up his mind, and disappears with a
sharp stroke of his wings." So says Mr. John Muir, who continues: "After
feeding for two or three minutes he suddenly reappears, showers the
water from his wings with one vigorous shake, and rises abruptly into
the air as if pushed up from beneath, comes back to his perch, sings a
few minutes, and goes out to dive again; thus coming and going, singing
and diving, at the same place for hours."

The depths to which the cinclid dives for the food on the bottom is
often from fifteen to twenty feet. When he selects a river instead of a
lake for his winter bathing, its waters, like those of the shallower
streams, may also contain a large quantity of sludge, thus rendering
them opaque even to the sharp little eyes of the dipper. Then what does
he do? He has a very natural and cunning way of solving this problem; he
simply seeks a deep portion of the river and dives through the turbid
water to the clear water beneath, where he can plainly see the "goodies"
on the bottom.

It must not be thought that this little bird is mute amid all the watery
tumult of his mountain home, for he is a rare vocalist, his song
mingling with the ripple and gurgle and roar of the streams that he
haunts. Nor does he sing only in the springtime, but all the year round,
on stormy days as well as fair. During Indian summer, when the streams
are small, and silence broods over many a mountain solitude, the song of
the ousel falls to its lowest ebb; but when winter comes and the streams
are converted into rolling torrents, he resumes his vocal efforts, which
reach their height in early summer. Thus it would seem that the bird's
mood is the gayest when his favorite stream is dashing at its noisiest
and most rapid pace down the steep mountain defiles. The clamor of the
stream often drowns the song of the bird, the movement of his mandibles
being seen when not a sound from his music-box can be heard. There must
be a feeling of fellowship between the bird and the stream he loves so

[Illustration: "_No snowstorm can discourage him_"]

You will not be surprised to learn that the dipper is an extremely hardy
bird. No snowstorm, however violent, can discourage him, but in the
midst of it all he sings his most cheerful lays, as if defying all the
gods of the winds. While other birds, even the hardy nuthatches, often
succumb to discouragement in cold weather, and move about with
fluffed-up feathers, the very picture of dejection--not so the little
dipper, who always preserves his cheerful temper, and is ready to say,
in acts, if not in words: "Isn't this the jolliest weather you ever
saw?" Away up in Alaska, where the glaciers hold perpetual sway, this
bird has been seen in the month of November as glad and blithesome as
were his comrades in the summery gorges of New Mexico.


[Illustration: PLATE V

LOUISIANA TANAGER--_Pyranga ludoviciana_
(Upper figure, male; lower, female)]

The foregoing chapters contain a recital of observations made in the
neighborhood of Colorado Springs and in trips on the plains and among
the mountains in that latitude. Two years later--that is, in 1901--the
rambler's good angel again smiled upon him and made possible another
tour among the Colorado mountains. This time he made Denver, instead of
Colorado Springs, the centre of operations; nor did he go alone, his
companion being an active boy of fourteen who has a penchant for
Butterflies, while that of the writer, as need scarcely be said, is for
the Birds--in our estimation, the two cardinal B's of the English
language. Imagine two inveterate ramblers, then, with two such
enchanting hobbies, set loose on the Colorado plains and in the
mountains, with the prospect of a month of uninterrupted indulgence in
their manias!

In the account of my first visit, most of the species met with were
described in detail both as to their habits and personal appearance. In
the present record no such minutiæ will be necessary so far as the same
species were observed, and therefore the chief objects of the following
chapters will be, first, to note the diversities in the avian fauna of
the two regions; second, to give special attention to such birds as
either were not seen in my first visit or were for some cause partly
overlooked; and, third, to trace the peculiar transitions in bird life
in passing from the plains about Denver to the crest of Gray's Peak,
including jaunts to several other localities.

In my rambles in the neighborhood of Denver only a few species not
previously described were observed, and yet there were some noteworthy
points of difference in the avi-fauna of the two latitudes, which are
only about seventy-five miles apart. It will perhaps be remembered that,
in the vicinity of Colorado Springs and Manitou, the pretty lazuli
buntings were quite rare and exceedingly shy, only two or three
individuals having been seen. The reverse was the case in the suburbs of
Denver and on the irrigated plains between that city and the mountains,
and also in the neighborhood of Boulder, where in all suitable haunts
the lazulis were constantly at my elbow, lavish enough of their pert
little melodies to satisfy the most exacting, and almost as familiar and
approachable as the indigo-birds of the East. It is possible that, for
the most part, the blue-coated beauties prefer a more northern latitude
than Colorado Springs for the breeding season.

At the latter place I failed to find the burrowing owl, although there
can be little doubt of his presence there, especially out on the
plains. Not far from Denver one of these uncanny, sepulchral birds was
seen, having been frightened from her tunnel as I came stalking near it.
She flew over the brow of the hill in her smooth, silent way, and
uttered no syllable of protest as I examined her domicile--or, rather,
the outside of it. Scattered about the dark doorway were a number of
bones, feathers, and the skin of a frog, telling the story of the _table
d'hôte_ set by this underground dweller before her nestlings. She might
have put up the crossbones and skull as a sign at the entrance to her
burrow, or even placed there the well-known Dantean legend, "All hope
abandon, ye who enter here," neither of which would have been more
suggestive than the telltale litter piled up before her door. When I
chased her from her hiding-place, she flew down the hill and alighted on
a fence-post in the neighborhood of her nest, uttering several screechy
notes as I came near her again, as if she meant to say that I was
carrying the joke a little too far in pursuing her about. Presently she
circled away on oily wings, and I saw her no more.

[Illustration: "_The dark doorway_"]

So little enthusiasm does such a bird stir within me that I felt too
lazy to follow her about on the arid plain. It may be interesting as a
matter of scientific information to know that the burrowing owl breeds
in a hole in the ground, and keeps company with the prairie dog and the
rattlesnake, but a bird that lives in a gloomy, malodorous cave, whose
manners are far from attractive, and whose voice sounds as strident as a
buzz-saw--surely such a bird can cast no spell upon the observer who is
interested in the æsthetic side of bird nature. A recent writer, in
describing "A Buzzards' Banquet," asks a couple of pregnant questions:
"Is there anything ugly out of doors? Can the ardent, sympathetic lover
of nature ever find her unlovely?" To the present writer these questions
present no Chinese puzzle. He simply brushes all speculation and
theorizing aside by responding "Yes," to both interrogatories, on the
principle that it is sometimes just as well to cut the Gordian knot as
to waste precious time trying to untie it. The burrowing owl makes me
think of a denizen of the other side of the river Styx, and why should
one try to love that which nature has made unattractive, especially when
one cannot help one's feeling?

In the preceding chronicles no mention, I believe, has been made of one
little bird that deserves more than a mere _obiter dictum_. My first
meeting with the blithesome house-finch of the West occurred in the city
of Denver, in 1899. It could not properly be called a formal
presentment, but was none the less welcome on that account. I had
scarcely stepped out upon the busy street before my ear was accosted by
a kind of half twitter and half song that was new to me. "Surely that is
not the racket of the English sparrow; it is too musical," I remarked to
a friend walking by my side.

Peering among the trees and houses, I presently focussed my field-glass
upon a small, finch-like bird whose coat was striped with gray and
brown, and whose face, crown, breast, and rump were beautifully tinged
or washed with crimson, giving him quite a dressy appearance. What could
this chipper little city chap be, with his trig form and well-bred
manners, in such marked contrast with those of the swaggering English
sparrow? Afterwards he was identified as the house-finch, which rejoices
in the high-sounding Latin name of _Carpodacus mexicanus frontalis_. His
distribution is restricted to the Rocky Mountain district chiefly south
of the fortieth parallel of north latitude.

He is certainly an attractive species, and I wish we could offer
sufficient inducements to bring him east. A bird like him is a boon and
an ornament to the streets and parks of any city that he graces with
his presence and enlivens with his songs. No selfish recluse is he; no,
indeed! In no dark gulch or wilderness, far from human neighborhood,
does he sulkily take up his abode, but prefers the companionship of man
to the solitudes of nature, declaring in all his conduct that he likes
to be where there are "folks." In this respect he bears likeness to the
English sparrow; but let it be remembered that there the analogy stops.
Even his chirruping is musical as he flies overhead, or makes his
_caveat_ from a tree or a telegraph wire against your ill-bred
espionage. He and his plainly clad little spouse build a neat cottage
for their bairns about the houses, but do not clog the spouting and make
themselves a nuisance otherwise, as is the habit of their English

This finch is a minstrel, not of the first class, still one that merits
a high place among the minor songsters; and, withal, he is generous with
his music. You might call him a kind of urban Arion, for there is real
melody in his little score. As he is an early riser, his matin
voluntaries often mingled with my half-waking dreams in the morning at
dawn's peeping, and I loved to hear it too well to be angry for being
aroused at an unseasonable hour. The song is quite a complicated
performance at its best, considerably prolonged and varied, running up
and down the chromatic scale with a swing and gallop, and delivered
with great rapidity, as if the lyrist were in a hurry to have done, so
that he could get at something else.

In my rambles he was found not only in the cities of the plains (Denver,
Colorado Springs, and Pueblo), but also in many of the mountain towns
and villages visited, Leadville, over ten thousand feet skyward, being,
I believe, one of the exceptions, while Silver Plume and Graymont were
others. He does not fancy altitudes, I take it, much over eight thousand
feet. In the villages of Red Cliff and Glenwood, both beyond the
continental divide, he was the same sprightly citizen, making himself
very much at home.

Much as this finch cherishes the society of man, he is quite wary and
suspicious, and does not fancy being watched. As long as you go on your
way without seeming to notice him, he also goes his way, coming into
plain sight and chirping and singing; but just stop to watch him with
your binocular, and see how quickly he will take alarm, dart away, and
ensconce himself behind a clump of foliage, uttering a protest which
seems to say, "Why doesn't that old fellow go about his own business?"
If in some way the American house-finch could be persuaded to come east,
and the English sparrow could be given papers of extradition, the
exchange would be a relief and a benefit to the whole country.

Some idyllic days were spent in sauntering about Golden, which keeps
guard at the entrance of Clear Creek Cañon, and has tucked itself in a
beautiful valley among the foothills, which in turn stand sentinel over
it. In the village itself and along the bush-fringed border of the creek
below, as well as in the little park at its border, there were many
birds, nearly all of which have been described in the previous chapters.
However, several exceptions are worthy of note. A matted copse a mile
and a half below the town afforded a hiding-place for three young or
female redstarts, which were "playing butterfly," as usual, and chanting
their vivacious little tunes. These and several near Boulder were the
only redstarts seen in my Colorado wanderings, although Professor Cooke
says they breed sparingly on the plains, and a little more commonly in
the mountains to an altitude of eight thousand feet, while one observer
saw a female in July at the timber-line, which is three thousand feet
above the normal range of the species. Why did not this birdlet remain
within the bounds set by the scientific guild? Suit for contempt of
court should be brought against it. Redstarts must have been very scarce
in the regions over which I rambled, else I certainly should have
noticed birds that are so fearless and so lavish of song.

One day my companion and I clambered up the steep side of a mesa some
distance below Golden--that is, the base of the mesa was below the
village, while its top towered far above it. A mesa was a structural
portion of Colorado topography that neither of the two ramblers had yet
explored, and we were anxious to know something about its resources from
a natural history point of view. It was hard climbing on account of the
steepness of the acclivity, its rocky character, and the thick network
of bushes and brambles in many places; but "excelsior" was our motto in
all our mountaineering, and we allowed no surmountable difficulties to
daunt us. What birds select such steep places for a habitat? Here lived
in happy domesticity the lyrical green-tailed towhee, the bird of the
liquid voice, the poet laureate of the steep, bushy mountain sides, just
as the water-ousel is the poet of the cascades far down in the cañons
and gulches; here also thrived the spurred towhees, one of which had
tucked a nest beneath a bush cradling three speckled eggs. This was the
second nest of this species I had found, albeit not the last. Here also
dwelt the rock wren, a little bird that was new to me and that I had not
found in the latitude of Colorado Springs either east or west of the
continental divide. A description of this anchorite of the rocks will be
given in a later chapter. I simply pause here to remark that he has a
sort of "monarch-of-all-I-survey" air as he sits on a tall sandstone
rock and blows the music from his Huon's horn on the messenger breezes.
His wild melodies, often sounding like a blast from a bugle, are in
perfect concord with the wild and rugged acclivities which he haunts,
from which he can command many a prospect that pleases, whether he
glances down into the valleys or up to the silver-capped mountain peaks.
One cannot help feeling--at least, after one has left his rock-strewn
dwelling-place--that a kind of glamour hangs about it and him.

The loud hurly-burly of the long-tailed chat reached us from a bushy
hollow not far away. So far as I could determine, this fellow is as
garrulous a churl and bully as his yellow-breasted cousin so well known
in the East. (Afterwards I found the chats quite numerous at Boulder.)
At length we scaled the cliffs, and presently stood on the edge of the
mesa, which we found to be a somewhat rolling plateau, looking much like
the plains themselves in general features, with here and there a hint of
verdure, on which a herd of cattle were grazing. The pasture was the
buffalo grass. Does the bird-lover ask what species dwell on a treeless
mesa like this? It was the home of western grassfinches, western
meadow-larks, turtle doves, desert horned larks, and a little bird that
was new to me, evidently Brewer's sparrow. Its favorite resort was in
the low bushes growing on the border of the mesa and along the edge of
the cliff. Its song was unique, the opening syllable running low on the
alto clef, while the closing notes constituted a very respectable
soprano. A few extremely shy sparrows flitted about in the thickets of a
hollow as we began our descent, and I have no doubt they were Lincoln's

The valley and the irrigated plain were the birds' elysium. Here we
first saw and heard that captivating bird, the lark bunting, as will be
fully set forth in the closing chapter. This was one of the birds that
had escaped me in my first visit to Colorado, save as I had caught
tantalizing glimpses of him from the car-window on the plain beyond
Denver, and when I went south to Colorado Springs, I utterly failed to
find him. It has been a sort of riddle to me that not one could be
discovered in that vicinity, while two years later these birds were
abundant on the plains both east and west of Denver. If Colorado Springs
is a little too far south for them in the summer, Denver is obviously
just to their liking. No less abundant were the western meadow-larks,
which flew and sang with a kind of lyrical intoxication over the green
alfalfa fields.

One morning we decided to walk some distance up Clear Creek Cañon. At
the opening of the cañon, Brewer's blackbirds were scuttling about in
the bushes that broidered the steep banks of the tumultuous stream, and
a short distance up in the gorge a lazuli bunting sat on a telegraph
wire and piped his merry lay. Soon the cañon narrowed, grew dark and
forbidding, and the steep walls rose high on both sides, compelling the
railway to creep like a half-imprisoned serpent along the foot of the
cliffs; then the birds disappeared, not caring to dwell in such dark,
more than half-immured places. Occasionally a magpie could be seen
sailing overhead at an immense height, crossing over from one hillside
to the other, turning his head as he made the transit, to get a view of
the two peripatetics in the gulch below, anxious to discover whether
they were bent on brigandage of any kind.

At length we reached a point where the mountain side did not look so
steep as elsewhere, and we decided to scale it. From the railway it
looked like a short climb, even if a little difficult, and we began it
with only a slight idea of the magnitude of our undertaking. The fact
is, mountain climbing is a good deal more than pastime; it amounts to
work, downright hard work. In the present instance, no sooner had we
gained one height than another loomed steep and challenging above us, so
that we climbed the mountain by a series of immense steps or terraces.
At places the acclivity was so steep that we were compelled to scramble
over the rocks on all fours, and were glad to stop frequently and draw
breath and rest our tired limbs. My boy comrade, having fewer things
than I to lure him by the way, and being, perhaps, a little more agile
as well, went far on ahead of me, often standing on a dizzy pinnacle of
rock, and waving his butterfly-net or his cap in the air, and shouting
at the top of his voice to encourage his lagging parent and announce his
triumph as a mountaineer.

However, the birdman can never forget his hobby. There were a few birds
on that precipitous mountain side, and that lent it its chief
attraction. At one place a spurred towhee flitted about in a bushy clump
and called much like a catbird--an almost certain proof of a nest on the
steep, rocky wall far up from the roaring torrent in the gorge below. On
a stony ridge still farther up, a rock wren was ringing his peculiar
score, which sounds so much like a challenge, while still farther up, in
a cluster of stunted pines, a long-crested jay lilted about and called
petulantly, until I came near, when he swung across the cañon, and I saw
him no more.

After a couple of hours of hard climbing, we reached the summit, from
which we were afforded a magnificent view of the foothills, the mesas,
and the stretching plains below us, while above us to the west hills
rose on hills until they culminated in mighty snow-capped peaks and
ridges. It must not be supposed, because the snow-mantled summits in the
west loomed far above our present station, that this mountain which we
had ascended was a comparatively insignificant affair. The fact is, it
was of huge bulk and great height measured from its base in the cañon;
almost as much of a mountain, in itself considered, as Gray's Peak. It
must be borne in mind that the snowy peaks were from thirty to forty
miles away, and that there is a gradual ascent the entire distance to
the upper valleys and gorges which creep about the bases of the loftiest
peaks and ridges. A mountain rising from the foothills may be almost as
bulky and high and precipitous as one of the alpine peaks covered with
eternal snow. Its actual altitude above sea-level may be less by many
thousand feet, while its height from the surrounding cañons and valleys
may be almost, if not quite, as great. The alpine peaks have the
advantage of majesty of situation, because the general level of the
country from which they rise is very high. There we stood at a sort of
outdoor halfway house between the plains and the towering ridges, and I
can only say that the view was superb.

There were certain kinds of birds which had brought their household gods
to the mountain's crest. Lewis's woodpeckers ambled about over the
summit and rocky ridges, catching insects on the wing, as is their wont.
Some distance below the summit a pair of them had a nest in a dead pine
snag, from the orifice of which one was seen to issue. A mother hawk was
feeding a couple of youngsters on the snarly branch of a dead pine.
Almost on the summit a western nighthawk sprang up from my feet. On the
bare ground, without the faintest sign of a nest, lay her two speckled
eggs, which she had been brooding. She swept around above the summit in
immense zigzag spirals while I examined her roofless dwelling-place. It
was interesting to one bird-lover, at least, to know that the nighthawk
breeds in such places. Like their eastern congeners, the western
nighthawks are fond of "booming." At intervals a magpie would swing
across the cañon, looking from side to side, the impersonation of
cautious shyness. A few rods below the crest a couple of rock wrens were
flitting about some large rocks, creeping in and out among the crevices
like gray mice, and at length one of them slyly fed a well-fledged
youngster. This proves that these birds, like many of their congeners,
are partial to a commanding lookout for a nesting site. These were the
only occupants of the mountain's brow at the time of our visit, although
in one of the hollows below us the spurred and green-tailed towhees were
rendering a selection from Haydn's "Creation," probably "The heavens are

No water was to be found from the bottom of the cañon to the summit of
the mountain; all was as dry as the plain itself. The feathered tenants
of the dizzy height were doubtless compelled to fly down into the gorge
for drinking and bathing purposes, and then wing up again to the
summit--certainly no light task for such birds as the wrens and

Before daybreak one morning I made my way to a small park on the
outskirts of the village to listen to the birds' matutinal concert. The
earliest singers were the western robins, which began their carols at
the first hint of the coming dawn; the next to break the silence were
the western wood-pewees; then the summer warblers chimed in, followed by
the western grassfinches, Bullock's orioles, meadow-larks, and lark
sparrows, in the order named. Before daylight had fully come a family of
mountain bluebirds were taking their breakfast at the border of the
park, while their human relatives were still snoring in bed. The
bluebirds are governed by old-fashioned rules even in this very "modern"
age, among their maxims being,--

    "Early to bed and early to rise,
    Makes bluebirds healthy and wealthy and wise."

Just now I came across a pretty conceit of John B. Tabb, which more
aptly sets off the mountain blue than it does his eastern relative, and
which I cannot forbear quoting:

    "When God made a host of them,
    One little flower lacked a stem
      To hold its blossom blue;
    So into it He breathed a song,
    And suddenly, with petals strong
      As wings, away it flew."

And there is Eben E. Rexford, who almost loses himself in a tangle of
metaphors in his efforts to express his admiration of this bird with
the cerulean plumes. Hark to his rhapsody:

    "Winged lute that we call a bluebird, you blend in a silver strain
    The sound of the laughing waters, the patter of spring's sweet rain,
    The voice of the winds, the sunshine, and fragrance of blossoming
    Ah! you are an April poem that God has dowered with wings."

On our return to the plains from a two weeks' trip to Georgetown and
Gray's Peak, we spent several days at Arvada, a village about halfway
between Denver and Golden. The place was rife with birds, all of which
are described in other chapters of this volume.[10] Mention need be made
here only of the song-sparrows, which were seen in a bushy place through
which a purling stream wound its way. Of course, they were _Melospiza
fasciata montana_, but their clear, bell-like trills were precise copies
of those of the merry lowland minstrels of the East. Special attention
is called to the fact that, in my first visit to Colorado, the only
place in which mountain song-sparrows were met with was Buena Vista,
quite a distance up among the mountains, while in the visit now being
described they were not found anywhere in the mountains, save in the
vale below Cassels. They were breeding at Arvada, for a female was seen
carrying a worm in her bill, and I am sure a nest might easily have been
found had I not been so busily occupied in the study of other and rarer
species. However, the recollection of the merry lyrists with the
speckled breasts and silvery voices, brings to mind Mr. Ernest Thompson
Seton's "Myth of the Song-Sparrow," from which it will be seen that this
attractive bird has had something of an adventurous career:

    "His mother was the Brook, his sisters were the Reeds,
    And they every one applauded when he sang about his deeds.
    His vest was white, his mantle brown, as clear as they could be,
    And his songs were fairly bubbling o'er with melody and glee.
    But an envious Neighbor splashed with mud our Brownie's coat and vest,
    And then a final handful threw that stuck upon his breast.
    The Brook-bird's mother did her best to wash the stains away,
    But there they stuck, and, as it seems, are very like to stay.
    And so he wears the splashes and the mud blotch, as you see;
    But his songs are bubbling over still with melody and glee."

[Illustration: "_His songs are bubbling over still with melody and

_Song Sparrow_]

    [10] I find I have overlooked the western Maryland yellow-throat,
    which was seen here; also near Colorado Springs, and in several
    other bushy spots, only on the plains. It seldom ascends into the
    mountains, never far. Its song and habits are similar to those of
    its eastern congener.


At nine o'clock on the morning of June 22, the two ramblers boarded a
Colorado and Southern train, and bowled up Clear Creek Cañon to
Georgetown. Having been studying winged creatures on the plains and
among the foothills, mesas, and lower mountains, we now proposed to go
up among the mountains that were mountains in good earnest, and see what
we could find.

The village of Georgetown nestles in a deep pocket of the mountains. The
valley is quite narrow, and on three sides, save where the two branches
of Clear Creek have hewn out their cañons, the ridges rise at a sharp
angle to a towering height, while here and there a white-cap peeps out
through the depressions. Those parts of the narrow vale that are
irrigated by the creek and its numerous tiny tributaries are beautiful
in their garb of green, while the areas that are not thus refreshed are
as gray as the arid portions of the plains themselves. And that is the
case everywhere among the Rockies--where no water flows over the
surface the porous, sandy soil is dry and parched. The altitude of
Georgetown is eight thousand four hundred and seventy-six feet. We were
therefore three thousand feet higher than we had been in the morning,
and had a right to expect a somewhat different avi-fauna, an expectation
in which we were not disappointed.

Our initial ramble took us down the valley. The first bird noted was a
familiar one--the warbling vireo, which is very abundant in Colorado in
its favorite localities, where all day you may be lulled by its "silvery
converse, just begun and never ended." No description of a bird so well
known in both the East and the West is required, but the one seen that
day gave a new performance, which seems to be worthy of more than a
passing notice. Have other bird students observed it? The bird was first
seen flitting about in the trees bordering the street; then it flew to
its little pendent nest in the twigs. I turned my glass upon it, and,
behold, there it sat in its tiny hammock singing its mercurial tune at
the top of its voice. It continued its solo during the few minutes I
stopped to watch it, glancing over the rim of its nest at its auditor
with a pert gleam in its twinkling eyes. That was the first and only
time I have ever seen a bird indulging its lyrical whim while it sat on
its nest. Whether the bird was a male or a female I could not determine,
but, whatever its sex, its little bosom was bubbling over with

    [11] After the foregoing was written, I chanced upon the following
    note in "Bird Lore" for September and October, 1901, written by a
    lady at Moline, Illinois, who had made an early morning visit to the
    haunt of a warbling vireo: "Seated on the ground, in a convenient
    place for watching the vireo, which was on the nest, we were soon
    attracted by a vireo's song. Search for the singer failed to find
    it, until we noted that the bird on the nest seemed to be singing.
    Then, as we watched, over and over again the bird was seen to lift
    up its head and pour out the long, rich warble--a most delicious
    sight and sound. Are such ways usual among birds, or did we chance
    to see and hear an unusual thing?"

It was soon evident that the western robins were abundant about
Georgetown, as they were on the plains and among the foothills. They
were principally engaged just now in feeding their young, which had
already left their nests. Presently I shall have more to say about these
birds. Just now I was aware of some little strangers darting about in
the air, uttering a fine, querulous note, and at length descending to
the ground to feast daintily on the seeds of a low plant. Here I could
see them plainly with my glass, for they gave me gracious permission to
go quite near them. Their backs were striped, the predominant color
being brown or dark gray, while the whitish under parts were streaked
with dusk, and there were yellow decorations on the wings and tails,
whether the birds were at rest or in flight. When the wings were spread
and in motion, the golden ornamentation gave them a filmy appearance.
On the wing, the birds, as I afterwards observed, often chirped a little
lay that bore a close resemblance in certain parts to the
"pe-chick-o-pe" of the American goldfinch. Indeed, a number of their
notes suggested that bird, as did also their manner of flight, which was
quite undulatory. The birds were the pine siskins. They are very common
in the Rockies, ranging from an elevation of eight thousand feet to the
timber-line. This pert and dainty little bird is the same wherever found
in North America, having no need of the cognomen "western" prefixed to
his name when he takes it into his wise little head to make his abode in
the Rocky Mountains.


_A scene near Georgetown. The copses in the valley are the home of
white-crowned sparrows, willow thrushes, Lincoln's sparrows and Wilson's
warblers; the steep, bushy acclivities are selected by the spurred and
green-tailed towhees, Audubon's and Macgillivray's warblers; while the
western robins, pine siskins, and broad-tailed humming-birds range all
over the region. The robins and siskins make some of their most
thrilling plunges over such cliffs as are shown in the picture._


The reader will perhaps recall that a flock of pine siskins were seen,
two years prior, in a patch of pine scrub a short distance below
Leadville, at which time I was uncertain as to their identity. Oddly
enough, that was the only time I saw these birds in my first trip to
Colorado, but here in the Georgetown region, only seventy-five or a
hundred miles farther north, no species were more plentiful than they.

The siskins try to sing--I say "try" advisedly. It is one of the oddest
bits of bird vocalization you ever heard, a wheezy little tune in the
ascending scale--a kind of crescendo--which sounds as if it were
produced by inhalation rather than exhalation. It is as labored as the
alto strain of the clay-colored sparrow of the Kansas and Nebraska
prairies, although it runs somewhat higher on the staff. The siskins
seen at Georgetown moved about in good-sized flocks, feeding awhile on
weed-seeds on the sunny slopes, and then wheeling with a merry chirp up
to the pine-clad sides of the mountains. As they were still in the
gregarious frame at Georgetown, I concluded that they had not yet begun
to mate and build their nests in that locality. Afterwards I paid not a
little attention to them farther up in the mountains, and saw several
feeding their young, but, as their nests are built high in the pines,
they are very difficult to find, or, if found, to examine. Our birdlets
have superb powers of flight, and actually seem to revel in hurling
themselves down a precipice or across a chasm with a recklessness that
makes the observer's blood run cold. Sometimes they will dart out in the
air from a steep mountain side, sing a ditty much like the goldfinch's,
then circle back to their native pines on the dizzy cliff.

I must be getting back to my first ramble below Georgetown. Lured by the
lyrics of the green-tailed towhee, I climbed the western acclivity a few
hundred feet, but found that few birds choose such dry and eerie places
for a habitat. Indeed, this was generally my experience in rambling
among the mountains; the farther up the arid steeps, the fewer the
birds. If you will follow a mountain brook up a sunny slope or open
valley, you will be likely to find many birds; but wander away from the
water courses, and you will look for them, oftentimes, in vain. The
green-tailed towhees, spurred towhees, Audubon's warblers, and mountain
hermit thrushes are all partial to acclivities, even very steep ones,
but they do not select those that are too remote from the babbling brook
to which they may conveniently resort for drinking and bathing.

A green and bushy spot a half mile below the village was the home of a
number of white-crowned sparrows. None of them were seen on the plains
or in the foothills; they had already migrated from the lower altitudes,
and had sought their summer residences in the upper mountain valleys,
where they may be found in great abundance from an elevation of eight
thousand feet to copsy haunts here and there far above the timber-line
hard by the fields of snow.

The white-crowns in the Georgetown valley seemed to be excessively shy,
and their singing was a little too reserved to be thoroughly enjoyable,
for which reason I am disposed to think that mating and nesting had not
yet begun, or I should have found evidences of it, as their grassy cots
on the ground and in the bushes are readily discovered. Other birds that
were seen in this afternoon's ramble were Wilson's and Audubon's
warblers, the spotted sandpiper, and that past-master in the art of
whining, the killdeer. Another warbler's trill was heard in the thicket,
but I was unable to identify the singer that evening, for he kept
himself conscientiously hidden in the tanglewood. A few days later it
turned out to be one of the most beautiful feathered midgets of the
Rockies, Macgillivray's warbler, which was seen in a number of places,
usually on bushy slopes. He and his mate often set up a great to-do by
chirping and flitting about, and I spent hours in trying to find their
nests, but with no other result than to wear out my patience and rubber
boots. I can recall no other Colorado bird, either large or small,
except the mountain jay, that made so much ado about nothing, so far as
I could discover. But I love them still, on account of the beauty of
their plumage and the gentle rhythm of their trills.

The next morning, chilly as the weather was--and it was cold enough to
make one shiver even in bed--the western robins opened the day's concert
with a splendid voluntary, waking me out of my slumbers and forcing me
out of doors for an early walk. No one but a systematic ornithologist
would be able to mark the difference between the eastern and western
types of robins, for their manners, habits, and minstrelsy are alike,
and their markings, too, so far as ordinary observation goes. The
carolling of the two varieties is similar, so far as I could
discern--the same cherry ringing melody, their voices having a like
propensity to break into falsetto, becoming a veritable squeak,
especially early in the season before their throat-harps are well tuned.
With his powerful muscles and wide stretch of wing the robin is
admirably adapted to the life of a mountaineer. You find him from the
plains to the timber-line, sometimes even in the deepest cañons and on
the most precipitous mountain sides, always the same busy, noisy, cheery
body. One day I saw a robin dart like a meteor from the top of a high
ridge over the cliffs to the valley below, where he alighted on a
cultivated field almost as lightly as a flake of snow. He--probably she
(what a trouble these pronouns are, anyway!)--gathered a mouthful of
worms for his nestlings, then dashed up to the top of the ridge again,
which he did, not by flying out into the air, but by keeping close up to
the steep, cliffy wall, striking a rock here and twig there with his
agile feet to help him in rising. The swiftness of the robin's movements
about the gorges, abysses, and precipices of the mountains often
inspires awe in the beholder's breast, and, on reflection, stirs him
with envy. Many nests were found in the Georgetown valley, in woodsy and
bushy places on the route to Gray's Peak as far as the timber-line, in
the neighborhood of Boulder, in the Platte River Cañon, in South Park,
and in the Blue River region beyond the Divide. Some of the nests
contained eggs, others young in various stages of plumage, and still
others were already deserted. For general ubiquity as a species, commend
me to the American robin, whether of the eastern or western type.
Wherever found he is a singer, and it is only to be regretted that--

    "All will not hear thy sweet, out-pouring joy
    That with morn's stillness blends the voice of song,
    For over-anxious cares their souls employ,
    That else, upon thy music borne along
    And the light wings of heart-ascending prayer,
    Had learned that Heaven is pleased thy simple joys to share."

[Illustration: _Western Robin_

"_Out-pouring joy_"]

In Georgetown, Silver Plume, and other mountain towns the lovely
violet-green swallow is frequently seen--a distinctly western species
and one of the most richly apparelled birds of the Rockies. It nests in
all sorts of niches and crannies about the houses, often sits calmly on
a telegraph wire and preens its iridescent plumes, and sometimes utters
a weak and squeaky little trill, which, no doubt, passes for first-rate
music in swallowdom, whatever we human critics might think of it. Before
man came and settled in those valleys, the violet-greens found the
crevices of rocks well enough adapted to their needs for nesting sites,
but now they prefer cosey niches and crannies in human dwellings, and
appear to appreciate the society of human beings.

For over a week we made Georgetown our headquarters, going off every day
to the regions round about. Among my most treasured finds here was the
nest of Audubon's warbler--my first. It was saddled in the crotch of a
small pine a short distance up an acclivity, and was prettily roofed
over with a thick network of branches and twigs. Four white, daintily
speckled eggs lay in the bottom of the cup. While I was sitting in the
shadow of the pine, some motion of mine caused the little owner to
spring from her nest, and this led to its discovery. As she flitted
about in the bushes, she uttered a sharp _chip_, sometimes consisting of
a double note. The nest was about four feet from the ground, its walls
built of grasses and weed-stems, and its concave little floor carpeted
with cotton and feathers. A cosey cottage it was, fit for the little
poets that erected it. Subsequently I made many long and tiresome
efforts to find nests of the Audubons, but all these efforts were

One enchanting day--the twenty-fourth of June--was spent in making a
trip, with butterfly-net and field-glass, to Green Lake, an emerald gem
set in the mountains at an altitude of ten thousand feet, a few miles
from Georgetown. Before leaving the town, our first gray-headed junco
for this expedition was seen. He had come to town for his breakfast, and
was flitting about on the lawns and in the trees bordering the street,
helping himself to such dainties as pleased his palate. It may be said
here that the gray-headed juncos were observed at various places all
along the way from Georgetown to Green Lake and far above that body of
water. Not so with the broad-tailed hummers, which were not seen above
about eight thousand five hundred feet, while the last warbling vireo of
the day was seen and heard at an altitude of nine thousand feet,
possibly a little more, when he decided that the air was as rare as was
good for his health.

A short distance up the cañon of the west branch of Clear Creek, a new
kind of flycatcher was first heard, and presently seen with my glass. He
sat on a cliff or flitted from rock to bush. He uttered a sharp call,
"Cheep, cheep, cheep"; his under parts were bright yellow, his upper
parts yellow-olive, growing darker on the crown, and afterwards a nearer
view revealed dark or dusky wings, yellowish or gray wing-bars, and
yellow eye-rings. He was the western flycatcher, and bears close
likeness to our eastern yellow-breasted species. Subsequently he was
quite frequently met with, but never far above the altitude of

In the same cañon a beautiful Macgillivray's warbler was observed, and
two water-ousels went dashing up the meandering stream, keeping close
to the seething and roaring waters, but never stopping to sing or bid us
the time of day. Very few ousels were observed in our rambles in this
region, and no nests rewarded my search, whereas in the vicinity of
Colorado Springs, as the reader will recall, these interesting birds
were quite frequently near at hand. A mother robin holding a worm in her
bill sped down the gulch with the swiftness of an arrow. We soon reached
a belt of quaking asps where there were few birds. This was succeeded by
a zone of pines. The green-tailed towhees did not accompany us farther
in our climb than to an elevation of about nine thousand three hundred
feet, but the siskins were chirping and cavorting about and above us all
the way, many of them evidently having nests in the tops of the tall
pines on the dizzy cliffs. Likewise the hermit thrushes were seen in
suitable localities by the way, and also at the highest point we reached
that day, an elevation of perhaps ten thousand five hundred feet.

While some species were, so to speak, our "companions in travel" the
entire distance from the town to the lake, and others went with us only
a part of the way, still other species found habitats only in the higher
regions clambering far up toward the timber-line. Among these were the
mountain jays, none of which were found as far down the range as
Georgetown. They began to proclaim their presence by raucous calls as
soon as we arrived in the vicinity of Green Lake. A family of them were
hurtling about in the pine woods, allowing themselves to be inspected at
short range, and filling the hollows with their uncanny calls. What a
voice the mountain jay has! Nature did a queer thing when she put a
"horse-fiddle" into the larynx of this bird--but it is not ours to ask
the reason why, simply to study her as she is. In marked contrast with
the harsh calls of these mountain hobos were the roulades of the sweet
and musical ruby-crowned kinglets, which had absented themselves from
the lower altitudes, but were abundant in the timber belts about ten
thousand feet up the range and still higher.

[Illustration: _Red-naped Sapsuckers_

"_Chiselling grubs out of the bark_"]

On the border of the lake, among some gnarly pines, I stumbled upon a
woodpecker that was entirely new to my eastern eyes--one that I had not
seen in my previous touring among the heights of the Rockies. He was
sedulously pursuing his vocation--a divine call, no doubt--of chiselling
grubs out of the bark of the pine trees, making the chips fly, and
producing at intervals that musical snare-drumming which always sets
the poet to dreaming of sylvan solitudes. What was the bird? The
red-naped sapsucker, a beautifully habited Chesterfield in plumes. He
presently ambled up the steep mountain side, and buried himself in the
pine forest, and I saw him no more, and none of his kith.

When I climbed up over a tangle of rocks to a woodsy ravine far above
the lake, it seemed at first as if there were no birds in the place,
that it was given up entirely to solitude; but the winged creatures were
only shy and cautious for the nonce, waiting to learn something about
the errand and disposition of their uninvited, or, rather, self-invited,
guest, before they ventured to give him a greeting. Presently they
discovered that he was not a collector, hunter, nest-robber, or ogre of
any other kind, and there was the swish of wings around me, and a medley
of chirps and songs filled the sequestered spot. Away up here the
gray-headed juncos were trilling like warblers, and hopping about on
their pine-needle carpet, creeping in and out among the rocks, hunting
for tidbits. Here also was the mountain chickadee, found at this season
in the heights hard by the alpine zone, singing his dulcet minor strain,
"Te-te-re-e-e, te-eet," sometimes adding another "te-eet" by way of
special emphasis and adornment. Oh, the sweet little piper piping only
for Pan! The loneliness of the place was accentuated by the sad cadenzas
of the mountain hermit thrushes. Swallows of some kind--cliff-swallows,
no doubt--were silently weaving invisible filigree across the sky above
the tops of the stately pines.

In the afternoon we made our way, with not a little laborious effort, to
the farther end of the lake, across which a red-shafted flicker would
occasionally wing its galloping flight; thence through a wilderness of
large rocks and fallen pines to a beckoning ridge, where, to our
surprise, another beautiful aqueous sheet greeted our vision in the
valley beyond. Descending to its shores, we had still another
surprise--its waters were brown instead of green. Here were two mountain
lakes not more than a quarter of a mile apart, one of which was green
and the other brown, each with a beauty all its own. In the brown lake
near the shore there were glints of gold as the sun shone through its
ripples on the rocks at the bottom. Afterwards we learned that the name
of this liquid gem was Clear Lake, and that the western branch of Clear
Creek flows through it, tarrying a while to sport and dally with the
sunbeams. While Green Lake was embowered in a forest of pine, its
companion lay in the open sunlight, unflecked by the shadow of a tree.

At the upper end of Clear Lake we found a green, bosky and bushy corner,
which formed the summer tryst of white-crowned sparrows, Wilson's
warblers, and broad-tailed humming-birds, none of which could find a
suitable habitat on the rocky, forest-locked shores of Green Lake. A
pigeon hawk, I regretted to note, had settled among the bushes, and was
watching for quarry, making the only fly in the amber of the enchanted
spot. A least flycatcher flitted about in the copse some distance up a
shallow runway. I trudged up the valley about a mile above Clear Lake,
and found a green, open meadow, with clumps of bushes here and there, in
which a few white-crowned sparrows and Wilson's warblers had taken up at
least a temporary dwelling; but the wind was blowing shiveringly from
the snow-capped mountains not many miles away, and there was still a
wintry aspect about the vale. The cold evidently affected the birds as
it did myself, for they lisped only a few bars of song in a half-hearted
way. Evening was approaching, and the two travellers--the human ones, I
mean--started on the trail down the valleys and cañons toward
Georgetown, which they reached at dusk, tired, but thankful for the
privilege of spending an idyllic day among their winged companions.

[Illustration: _Pigeon Hawk_

"_Watching for quarry_"]

Following a wagon road, the next day, across a pass some distance below
Georgetown brought us into another valley, whose green meadows and
cultivated fields lay a little lower, perhaps a couple hundred feet,
than the valley from which we had come. Here we found many Brewer's
blackbirds, of which there were very few in the vicinity of Georgetown.
They were feeding their young, some of which had already left the nest.
No red-winged blackbirds had been seen in the Georgetown valley, while
here there was a large colony of them, many carrying food to the
bantlings in grass and bush. Otherwise there was little difference
between the avi-fauna of the two valleys.

One morning I climbed the steep mountain just above Georgetown, the one
that forms the divide between the two branches of Clear Creek. A western
chipping sparrow sat trilling on the top of a small pine, as unafraid as
the chippie that rings his silvery peals about your dooryard in the
East; nor could I distinguish any difference between the minstrelsy of
this westerner and his well-known cousin of Ohio. He dexterously caught
an insect on the wing, having learned that trick, perhaps, from his
neighbor, the little western flycatcher, which also lived on the slope.
Hermit thrushes, Audubon's warblers, and warbling vireos dwelt on the
lower part of the acclivity. When I climbed far up the steep wall,
scarcely able to cling to its gravelly surface, I found very few birds;
only a flycatcher and an Audubon's warbler, while below me the hermit
thrushes were chanting a sacred oratorio in the pine woods.

On another day the train bore us around the famous "Loop" to Silver
Plume. In the beautiful pine grove at the terminus of the railway there
were many birds--siskins, chipping sparrows, western robins and
ruby-crowned kinglets; and they were making the place vocal with melody,
until I began to inspect them with my glass, when they suddenly lapsed
into a silence that was as trying as it was profound. By and by,
discretion having had her perfect work, they metaphorically came out of
their shells and permitted an inspection. Above the railway I saw one of
the few birds of my entire Rocky Mountain outing that I was unable to
identify. That little feathered Sphinx--what could he have been? To
quote from my note-book, "His song, as he sits quietly on a twig in a
pine tree, is a rich gurgling trill, slightly like that of a house-wren,
but fuller and more melodious, with an air about it that makes me feel
almost like writing a poem. The bird is in plain view before me, and I
may watch him either with or without my glass; he has a short, conical
bill; his upper parts are gray or olive-gray; cervical patch of a
greenish tinge; under parts whitish, spotted with dusk or brown. The
bill is white or horn-color, and is quite heavy, I should say heavier
than that of any sparrow I know. The bird continued to sing for a long
time and at frequent intervals, not even stopping when the engine near
at hand blew off steam, although he turned his head and looked a little
startled." I saw this species nowhere else in my Colorado rambles, and
can find no description in the systematic manuals that helps to clear up
the mystery, and so an _avis incognita_ he must remain for the present.

Has mention been made of a few house-finches that were seen in
Georgetown? Only a few, however, for they prefer the towns and cities of
the plain. Several house-wrens were also seen in the vicinity of the
Georgetown Loop as well as elsewhere in the valley. The "Loop," although
a monumental work of human genius and daring, has its peculiar
attractions for the student of natural history, for in the cañon itself,
which is somewhat open and not without bushy haunts, and on the
precipitous mountain sides, a few birds set up their Lares and Penates,
and mingle their songs of domestic felicity with the roar of the torrent
and the passing trains. Darting like zigzag lightning about the cliffs,
the broad-tailed humming-bird cuts the air with his sharp, defiant buzz,
until you exclaim with the poet:

    "Is it a monster bee,
      Or is it a midget bird,
    Or yet an air-born mystery
      That now yon marigold has stirred?"

[Illustration: "_Solo singing in the thrush realm_"]

Among the birds that dwell on the steep mountain sides above the "Loop"
hollow are the melodious green-tailed towhees, lisping their chansons of
good-will to breeze and torrent, while in the copse of asps in the
hollow itself the warbling vireo and the western flycatcher hold sway,
the former rehearsing his recitative all the day long, and the latter
chirping his protest at every human intrusion. On a pine-clad shelf
between the second fold of the "Loop" and what is known as the "Great
Fill" I settled (at least, to my own satisfaction) a long-disputed
point in regard to the vocalization of the mountain hermit thrush.
Again and again I had noticed a peculiarity about the hermit's
minstrelsy--whenever the music reached my ear, it came in two runs, the
first quite high in the scale, the second perhaps an octave lower. For a
long time I supposed that two thrushes were singing responsively, but
here at the "Loop," after listening for a couple of hours, it occurred
to me as improbable that there would invariably be a respondent when a
thrush lifted up his voice in song. Surely there would sometimes, at
least, be solo singing in the thrush realm. And so the conclusion was
forced upon me that both strains emanated from the same throat, that
each vocalist was its own respondent. It was worth while to clamber
laboriously about the "Loop" to settle a point like that--at all events,
it was worth while for one admirer of the birds.


[Illustration: PLATE VI

TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE--_Myiadestes townsendii_]


By the uninitiated it may be regarded simply as fun and pastime to climb
a mountain whose summit soars into cloudland; in reality it is serious
business, not necessarily accompanied with great danger, but always
accomplished by laborious effort. However, it is better for the
clamberer to look upon his undertaking as play rather than work. Should
he come to feel that it is actual toil, he might soon weary of a task
engaged in so largely for its own sake, and decide to expend his time
and energy in something that would "pay better." Moreover, if he is
impelled by a hobby--ornithology, for instance--in addition to the mere
love of mountaineering, he will find that something very near akin to
wings has been annexed to the climbing gear of which he is naturally

The morning of June 27 saw my youthful companion and myself mounted each
upon a shaggy burro, scrambling up the steep hill above Georgetown, en
route for Gray's Peak, the ascent of which was the chief goal of our
ambition in coming to the Rockies on the present expedition. The
distance from Georgetown to the summit of this peak is fourteen miles,
and the crest itself is fourteen thousand four hundred and forty-one
feet above sea-level, almost three hundred feet higher than Pike's Peak,
and cannot be scaled by means of a cog-wheel railway or any other
contrivance that uses steam or electricity as a motor. Indeed, the only
motor available at the time of our ascent--that is, for the final
climb--was "shank's horses," very useful and mostly safe, even if a
little plebeian. We had been wise enough not to plunge at once among the
heights, having spent almost a week rambling over the plains, mesas,
foothills, and lower ranges, then had been occupied for five or six days
more in exploring the valleys and mountain sides in the vicinity of
Georgetown, and thus, by gradually approaching them, we had become
inured to "roughing it" in the higher altitudes when we reached them,
and suffered no ill effects from the rarefied atmosphere.

We passed the famous "Georgetown Loop," crept at a snail's pace--for
that is the natural gait of the burro--through the town of Silver Plume,
and pursued our leisurely journey toward the beckoning, snow-clad
heights beyond. No, we did not hurry, for two reasons: First, our
little four-footers would not or could not quicken their pace, urge them
as we would; second, we desired to name all the birds along the route,
and that "without a gun," as Emerson mercifully enjoins.

Have you ever ridden a burro? Have you ever been astride of an old one,
a hirsute, unkempt, snail-paced, obstinate one, which thinks he knows
better what gait he ought to assume than you do? If you have not, I
venture to suggest modestly that your education and moral discipline are
not quite complete. The pair which we had hired were slow and headstrong
enough to develop the patience of Job in a most satisfactory way, and to
test it, too. They were as homely as the proverbial "mud fence" is
supposed to be. Never having seen a fence of that kind, I speak with
some degree of caution, not wanting to cast any disparagement upon
something of which I have so little knowledge. If our long-eared
companions had ever seen a curry-comb, it must have been in the days of
Noah. You see, we were "tenderfoots," as far as having had any
experience with burros was concerned, or we might have selected a more
sprightly pair for our fellow-pilgrims. A fine picture, fit for the
camera or the artist's brush, we presented as we crept with the speed of
a tortoise along the steep mountain roads and trails. Our "jacks," as
Messrs. Longears are called colloquially, were not lazy--oh, no! they
were simply averse to leaving home! Their domestic ties were so strong
they bound them with cords of steel and hooks of iron to stall and
stable-yard! The thought of forsaking friends and kindred even for only
a few days wrung their loving hearts with anguish! No wonder we had a
delicate and pathetic task on hand when we attempted to start our
caravan up the mountain road. From side to side the gentle animals
wabbled, their load of grief weighing them down tenfold more than the
loads on their backs, and times without count they were prompted to veer
about and "turn again home."

Much labor and time and patience were expended in persuading our steeds
to crawl up the hill, but I am delighted to say that no profane history
was quoted, as we were a strictly moral crowd. At length we arrived in
state at the village of Silver Plume. Canter into the town like a gang
of border ruffians we did not; we entered deliberately, as became a
dignified company of travellers. But here a new difficulty confronted
us, stared us blankly in the face. Our little charges could not be
convinced that there was any occasion for going farther than the town.
They seemed to have conscientious scruples about the matter; so they
stopped without any invitation from their riders, sidled off, turned in
toward the residences, stores, groceries, shoe-shops, drugstores, barns,
and even the saloons, the while the idlers on the streets and the small
boys were gawking at us, smiling in a half-suppressed way, and making
quaint remarks in which we could see no wisdom nor humor. We had not
come into the town, like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, merely to furnish
the villagers amusement. Applying our canes and straps forcibly to the
haunches and rumps of our burros only seemed to embarrass the poor
creatures, for you can readily see how they would reason the matter out
from their own premises: If they were to go no farther, as had been
decided by themselves, why should their riders belabor them in that
merciless way? For downright dialectics commend me to the Rocky Mountain

Finally a providence in the shape of two small boys came to our rescue,
and in a most interesting and effective way. Seeing the predicament we
were in, and appreciating the gravity of the situation, those
nimble-witted lads picked up a couple of clubs from the street, and,
getting in the rear of our champing steeds, began to pound them over the
haunches. For small boys they delivered sturdy blows. Now, if there is
anything that will make a burro move dexterously out of his tracks, it
is to get behind him with a club and beat a steady tattoo on his hams
and legs. No sooner did the boys begin to apply their clubs in good
earnest than our burros began to print tracks in quick succession on the
dusty road, and we went gayly through the town, the lads making a merry
din with their shouts and whacks, mingled with the patter of hoofs on
the street. It was so dramatic that even the women came to their doors
to witness the pageant. We tried not to laugh, and so did the delicately
mannered spectators, but I suspect that a good deal of laughing was done
on the sly, in spite of the canons of etiquette.

At length the obliging lads became a little too accommodating. They used
their persuasives upon the donkeys so vigorously that they--the
donkeys--started off on a lope, a sort of awkward, lop-sided gallop.
Now, if there is anything that is beyond the ability of Master Jack,
especially if he is old, it is to canter and at the same time preserve
his equilibrium. It is evident that he is not built to make a
rocking-chair of his back bone. So a little comedy was enacted, all
involuntary on the part of the _dramatis personæ_. Suddenly
Turpentine--that was the name of the little gray burro ridden by my boy
companion--took a header, sending his youthful rider sprawling to the
ground, where he did not remain a moment longer than good manners
demanded. Fortunately he succeeded in disengaging his feet from the
stirrups and directing his movements in such a way that the animal did
not fall upon him. But poor Turpentine, what of him? He tumbled clean
over his head upon his back, and I want to confess in all candor that
one of the most instructive and interesting "animal pictures" I have
ever seen, including those done by Landseer, Rosa Bonheur, and Ernest
Thompson Seton, was that little iron-gray, long-eared donkey lying on
his back on the street and clawing the air with his hoofs. And he clawed
fast, too--fairly sawed the air. For once in his life Turpentine, the
snail paced, was in a hurry; for once he moved with more celerity than
grace. It threw us into spasms of laughter to see him exert himself so
vigorously to reverse his position--to get his feet down and his back
up. A cat could not have done it with more celerity. You never would
have believed him capable of putting so much vim and vigor into his
easy-going personality. After chopping the air with his hoofs for a
second or two, he succeeded in righting himself, and was on his feet in
less time than it takes to tell it. There he stood, as meek as Mary's
lamb, trying to look as if he had never turned an undignified somersault
in all his tranquil life.

We started on our journey again, and presently, to our intense relief,
reached the border of the town, thanked the lads who had expedited our
march along the street, and proceeded on our way up the valley. We soon
settled down to taking our burros philosophically, and erelong they were
going calmly on the even tenor of their way, and afterwards we had
little trouble with them, and actually became quite attached to the
gentle creatures before our joint pilgrimage drew to an end.

It is time to pass from quadrupeds to bipeds. While our feathered
friends were not so abundant in the wilder regions as we might have
wished, still we had almost constant avian companionship along the way.
The warbling vireos were especially plentiful, and in full tune, making
a silvery trail of song beside the dusty road. We had them at our elbow
as far as Graymont, where we made a sharp detour from the open valley,
and clambered along a steep mountain side, with a deep, wooded gorge
below us. Here the vireos suddenly decided that they could escort us no
farther, as they had no taste for crepuscular cañons and alpine heights.
Not a vireo was seen above Graymont, which has an altitude of nearly ten
thousand feet. We left them singing in the valley as we turned from it,
and did not hear them again until we came back to Graymont.

Almost the same may be said of the broad-tailed humming-birds, whose
insect-like buzzing we heard at frequent intervals along the route to a
shoulder of the mountain a little above Graymont, when it suddenly
ceased and was heard no more until we returned to the same spot a few
days later. House-wrens, willow thrushes, Brewer's blackbirds, and
long-crested jays were also last seen at Graymont, which seemed to be a
kind of territorial limit for a number of species.

However, several species--as species, of course, not as
individuals--convoyed us all the way from Georgetown to the timber-line
and, in some instances, beyond. Let me call the roll of these faithful
"steadies": Mountain hermit thrushes, gray-headed juncos, red-shafted
flickers, pine siskins, western robins, Audubon's and Wilson's warblers,
mountain bluebirds and white-crowned sparrows. Of course, it must be
borne in mind that these birds were not seen everywhere along the upward
journey, simply in their favorite habitats. The deep, pine-shadowed
gorges were avoided by the warblers and white-crowned sparrows, whilst
every open, sunlit, and bushy spot or bosky glen was enlivened by a
contingent of these merry minnesingers. One little bird added to our
list in the gorge above Graymont was the mountain chickadee, which was
found thereafter up to the timber-line.

It was sometime in the afternoon when we reached Graymont, which we
found to be no "mount" at all, as we had expected, but a hamlet, now
mostly deserted, in a narrow valley in sight of several gray mountains
looming in the distance. Straight up the valley were some snow-mantled
peaks, but none of them was Gray's; they did not beckon to us from the
right direction. From the upper part of the hamlet, looking to our left,
we saw a frowning, snow-clad ridge towering like an angry giant in the
air, and we cried simultaneously, "Gray's Peak!" The terrific aspect of
that mountain sent a momentary shiver through our veins as we thought of
scaling it without a guide. We were in error, as we afterwards found,
for the mountain was Torrey's Peak, not Gray's, which is not visible
from Graymont, being hidden by two intervening elevations, Mount Kelso
and Torrey's Peak. There are several points about a mile above Graymont
from which Gray's serene peak is visible, but of this we were not aware
until on our return trip, when we had learned to recognize him by his
calm and magisterial aspect.

As evening drew on, and the westering sun fell below the ridges, and the
shadows deepened in the gorges, making them doubly weird, we began to
feel very lonely, and, to add to our misgivings, we were uncertain of
our way. The prospect of having to spend a cold night out of doors in a
solitary place like this was not very refreshing, I am free to confess,
much as one might desire to proclaim himself a brave man. Presently our
eyes were gladdened by the sight of a miner's shack just across the
hollow, perhaps the one for which we were anxiously looking. A man at
Graymont had told us about a miner up this way, saying he was a "nice
man" and would no doubt give us accommodation for the night. I crossed
the narrow foot-bridge that spanned the booming torrent, and found the
miner at home. Would he give two way-worn travellers a place to sleep
beneath his roof? We had brought plenty of food and some blankets with
us, and all we required was four walls around us and a roof over our
heads. Yes, he replied, we were welcome to such accommodation as he had,
and he could even give us a bed, though it "wasn't very stylish." Those
were among the sweetest and most musical words that ever fell on my ear.

Having tethered our burros in a grassy cove on the mountain side, and
cooked our supper in the gloaming among some rocks by the bank of the
brawling stream, we turned into the cabin for the night, more than
grateful for a shelter from the chill winds scurrying down from the
snow-capped mountains. The shack nestled at the foot of Mount Kelso,
which we had also mistaken for Gray's Peak. As we sat by the light of a
tallow candle, beguiling the evening with conversation, the miner told
us that the mountain jays, colloquially called "camp robbers," were
common around his cabin, especially in winter; but familiar as they
were, he had never been able to find a nest. The one thing about which
they insist on the utmost privacy is their nesting places. My friend
also told me that a couple of gray squirrels made the woods around his
camp their home. The jays would frequently carry morsels of food up to
the branches of the pines, and stow them in some crevice for future use,
whereupon the squirrels, always on the lookout for their own interests,
would scuttle up the tree and steal the hidden provender, eating it with
many a chuckle of self-congratulation.

Had not the weather turned so cold during the night, we might have slept
quite comfortably in the miner's shack, but I must confess that, though
it was the twenty-eighth of June and I had a small mountain of cover
over me, I shivered a good deal toward morning. An hour or so after
daylight four or five mountain jays came to the cabin for their
breakfast, flitting to the ground and greedily devouring such tidbits as
they could find. They were not in the least shy. But where were their
nests? That was the question that most deeply interested me. During the
next few days I made many a long and toilsome search for them in the
woods and ravines and on the steep mountain sides, but none of the birds
invited me to their houses. These birds know how to keep a secret.
Anything but feathered Apollos, they have a kind of ghoulish aspect,
making you think of the apparitional as they move in their noiseless way
among the shadowing pines. There is a look in their dark, deep-set eyes
and about their thick, clumpy heads which gives you a feeling that they
might be equal to any imaginable act of cruelty. Yet I cannot say I
dislike these mountain roustabouts, for some of their talk among
themselves is very tender and affectionate, proving that, "whatever
brawls disturb the street," there are love and concord in jay household
circles. That surely is a virtue to be commended, and cannot be claimed
for every family, either avian or human.

At 4.30 that morning I crept out of bed and climbed far up one of the
mountain sides--this was before the jays came to the cabin. The wind
blew so icy from the snow-clad heights that I was only too glad to wear
woollen gloves and pin a bandanna handkerchief around my neck, besides
buttoning up my coat collar. Even then I shivered. But would you believe
it? The mosquitoes were as lively and active as if a balmy breeze were
blowing from Arcady, puncturing me wherever they could find a vulnerable
spot, and even thrusting their sabres through my thick woollen gloves
into the flesh. They must be extremely hardy insects, for I am sure such
arctic weather would send the mosquitoes of our lower altitudes into
their winter hiding-places. People who think there are no mosquitoes in
the Rockies are reckoning without their hosts. In many places they
assaulted us by the myriad until life among them became intolerable, and
some were found even in the neighborhood of perpetual snow.

Raw as the morning was, the hermit thrushes, mountain chickadees,
Audubon's warblers, gray-headed juncos, and ruby-crowned kinglets were
giving a lively rehearsal. How shy they were! They preferred being
heard, not seen. Unexpectedly I found a hermit thrush's nest set in
plain sight in a pine bush. One would have thought so shy a bird would
make some attempt at concealment. It was a well-constructed domicile,
composed of grass, twigs, and moss, but without mortar. The shy owner
was nowhere to be seen, nor did she make any outcry, even though I stood
for some minutes close to her nest. What stolidity the mountain birds
display! You could actually rob the nests of some of them without
wringing a chirp from them. On two later visits to the place I found
Madame Thrush on her nest, where she sat until I came quite close, when
she silently flitted away and ensconced herself among the pines, never
chirping a syllable of protest or fear. In the bottom of the pretty crib
lay four deep-blue eggs. Afterwards I found one more hermit's nest,
which was just in process of construction. In this case, as in the
first, no effort was made at concealment, the nest being placed in the
crotch of a quaking asp a rod or so above the trail, from which it could
be plainly seen. The little madame was carrying a load of timbers to her
cottage as we went down the trail, and sat in the nest moulding and
putting her material in place as I climbed up the steep bank to inspect
her work. Then she flew away, making no demonstration while I examined
the nest.

Having eaten our breakfast at the miner's cabin, my youthful companion
and I mounted our "gayly caparisoned steeds," and resumed our journey
toward Gray's Peak. The birds just mentioned greeted us with their
salvos as we crept along. It was not until we had almost reached the
timber-line that Gray's Peak loomed in sight, solemn and majestic,
photographed against the cobalt sky, with its companion-piece, Torrey's
Peak, standing sullen beside it. The twin peaks were pointed out to us
by another miner whom we met at his shack just a little below the
timber-line, and who obligingly gave us permission to "bunk" in one of
the cabins of what is known as "Stephen's mine," which is now
abandoned--or was at the time of our visit. Near the timber-line, where
the valley opens to the sunlight, we found a mountain bluebird flitting
about some old, deserted buildings, but, strangely enough, this was the
last time we saw him, although we looked for him again and again. Nor
did we see another mountain blue in this alpine eyrie.

Our burros were tethered for the day in a grassy hollow, our effects
stowed away in the cabin aforesaid, which we had leased for a few days;
then, with luncheon strapped over our shoulders and butterfly net and
field-glass in hand, we started happily up the valley afoot toward the
summit of our aspirations, Gray's Peak, rising fourteen thousand four
hundred and forty-one feet above the level of the sea. In some scrubby
pine bushes above timber-line several Audubon's warblers were flitting
and singing, living hard by the white fields of snow. Still farther up
the hollow Wilson's warblers were trilling blithely, proclaiming
themselves yet more venturesome than their gorgeous cousins, the
Audubons. There is reason for this difference, for Wilson's warblers
nest in willows and other bushes which thrive on higher ground and
nearer the snowy zone than do the pines to which Audubon's warblers are
especially attached. At all events, _Sylvania pusilla_ was one of the
two species which accompanied us all the way from Georgetown to the foot
of Gray's Peak, giving us a kind of "personally conducted" journey.

Our other brave escorts were the white-crowned sparrows, which pursued
the narrowing valleys until they were merged into the snowy gorges that
rive the sides of the towering twin peaks. In the arctic gulches the
scrubby copses came to an end, and therefore the white-crowns ascended
no higher, for they are, in a pre-eminent sense, "birds of the bush."
Subsequently I found them as far up the sides of Mount Kelso as the
thickets extended, which was hundreds of feet higher than the snow-bound
gorges just mentioned, for Kelso receives more sunshine than his taller
companions, particularly on his eastern side. Brave birds are these
handsome and musical sparrows. It was interesting to see them hopping
about on the snow-fields, picking up dainties from the white crystals.
How lyrical they were in this upper mountain valley! As has been said,
for some unaccountable reason the white-crowns in the vicinity of
Georgetown were quite chary of their music. Not so those that dwelt in
the valley below Gray's and Torrey's peaks, for there they trilled their
melodious measures with a richness and abandon that were enchanting.

On reaching the snow-belt, though still a little below the limit of
copsy growths, we saw our first pipits, which, it will be remembered, I
had encountered on the summit of Pike's Peak two years before. In our
climb up Gray's Peak we found the pipit realm and that of the
white-crowned sparrows slightly overlapping. As soon, however, as we
began the steep climb above the matted copses, the white-crowns
disappeared and the pipits grew more abundant. At frequent intervals
these birds would suddenly start up from the ground, utter their
protesting "Te-cheer! te-cheer!" and hurl themselves recklessly across a
snowy gulch, or dart high into the air and let their semi-musical calls
drop and dribble from the turquoise depths of the sky. Did the pipits
accompany you to the summit of the peak? I half regret to admit that
they did not, but ceased to appear a good while before the summit was
attained. This is all the more remarkable when it is remembered that
these birds were extremely abundant on the crest of Pike's Peak, where
they behaved in a "very-much-at-home" way.

However, there was ample compensation in the ascent of Gray's Peak. As
we clambered up the steep and rugged side of the mountain, sometimes
wading snow up to our knees, then making a short cut straight up the
acclivity to avoid the snow-banks, unable to follow the trail a large
part of the way, we were suddenly made aware of the presence of another
fearless feathered comrade. With a chirp that was the very quintessence
of good cheer and lightness of heart, he hopped about on the snow,
picking dainties from his immaculate tablecloth, and permitting us to
approach him quite close before he thought it worth while to take to
wing. We were happy indeed to meet so companionable a little friend, one
that, amid these lonely and awe-inspiring heights, seemed to feel so
much at ease and exhibited so confiding a disposition. Was it fancy or
was it really true? He appeared to be giving us a hospitable welcome to
his alpine home, telling us we might venture upward into cloudland or
skyland without peril; then, to make good his assurance, he mounted
upward on resilient wings to prove how little danger there was. We were
doubly glad for our little seer, for just then we needed someone to
"prophesy smooth things" to us. The bird was the brown-capped
leucosticte or rosy finch. Thus far I have used the singular number, but
the plural would have been more accurate, for there were many of these
finches on the acclivity and summit, all of them in a most cheerful
mood, their good will and cordial welcome giving us a pleasant feeling
of comradery as we journeyed together up the mountain side.

Our climb up Gray's Peak was a somewhat memorable event in our
experience, and I am disposed to dwell upon it. The valley which we had
followed terminates in a deep gorge, filled with drift snow the year
round, no doubt, and wedging itself between Gray's and Torrey's
shoulders and peaks. Here the melting snows form the head waters of
Clear Creek, whose sinuous course we had followed by rail, foot, and
burro from the city of Denver.

The trail, leaving the ravine, meandered up a shoulder of the mountain,
wheeled to the left and crept along a ridge, with some fine,
blood-curdling abysses on the eastern side; then went zigzagging back
and forth on the precipitous wall of Gray's titanic mount, until at
last, with a long pull and a strong pull, it scaled the backbone of the
ridge. All this, however, is much more easily told than done. Later in
the season, when the trail is clear of snow-drifts, sure-footed horses
and burros are ridden to the summit; but we were too early to follow the
trail even on foot. Indeed, many persons familiar with the mountains had
declared that we could not reach the top so early in the season, on
account of the large snow-banks that still covered the trail. Even the
old miner, who in the valley below pointed out the peak to us,
expressed grave doubts about the success and wisdom of our undertaking.
"See!" he said, "the trail's covered with snow in many places on the
mountain side. I'm afraid you can't reach the top, sir." I did not see
as clearly as he did, but said nothing aloud. In my mind I shouted,
"Excelsior!" and then added, mentally, of course, "Faint heart never won
fair lady or fairer mountain's crest--hurrah for the peak!" I simply
felt that if there were birds and butterflies on that sky-aspiring
tower, I _must_ see them. The die was cast; we had come to Colorado
expressly to climb Gray's Peak, and climb it we would, or have some good
reason to give for not doing so.

And now we were making the attempt. We had scarcely reached the
mountain's shoulder before we were obliged to wade snow. For quite a
distance we were able to creep along the edge of the trail, or skirt the
snow-beds by making short detours, and then returning to the trail; but
by and by we came to a wide, gleaming snow-field that stretched right
athwart our path and brought us to a standstill with the exclamation,
"What shall we do now?" Having already sunk a number of times into the
snow over our boot-tops, we felt that it would not be safe to venture
across so large an area of soft and treacherous crystals melting in the
afternoon sun and only slightly covering we knew not what deep gorges.
In some places we had been able to walk on the top of the snow, but
elsewhere it was quite soft, and we could hear the gurgling of water
underneath, and sometimes it sounded a little more sepulchral than we
liked. Looking far up the acclivity, we saw still larger snow-fields
obliterating the trail. "We can never cross those snow-fields," one of
us declared, a good deal of doubt in his tones. A moment's reflection
followed, and then the other exclaimed stoutly, "Let us climb straight
up, then!" To which his companion replied, "All right, little Corporal!
Beyond the Alps lies Italy!"

Over rocks and stones and stretches of gravel, sometimes loose,
sometimes solid, we clambered, half the time on all fours, skirting the
snow-fields that lay in our unblazed pathway; on and up, each cheering
the other at frequent intervals by crying lustily, "We can make it! We
can make it!" ever and anon throwing ourselves on the rocks to recover
our breath and rest our aching limbs; on and up we scrambled and crept,
like ants on a wall, until at length, reaching the ridge at the left a
little below the top, we again struck the trail, when we stopped a few
minutes to catch breath, made one more mighty effort, and, behold! we
stood on Gray's summit, looking down triumphantly at the world crouching
at our feet. Never before had we felt so much like Jupiter on Olympus.


_Gray's to the left, Torrey's to the right. As the lookout of the
photographer was nearer Torrey's than Gray's, the former appears the
higher in the picture, while the reverse is really the case. The trail
winds through a ravine at the right of the ridge in front; then creeps
along the farther side of the ridge above the gorge at Torrey's base;
comes to the crest of the ridge pretty well toward the left; then crawls
and zigzags back and forth along the titanic wall of Gray's to the
summit. In the vale, where some of the head waters of Clear Creek will
be seen, the white-crowned sparrows and Wilson's warblers find homes. A
little before the ascent of the ridge begins, the first pipits are seen;
thence the clamberer has pipit company to the point where the ridge
joins the main bulk of the mountain. Here the pipits stop, and the first
leucostictes are noted, which, chirping cheerily all the way, escort the
traveller to the summit._


In making the ascent, some persons, even among those who ride, become
sick; others suffer with bleeding at the nose, and others are so
overcome with exhaustion and weakness that they cannot enjoy the superb
panorama spread out before them. However you may account for it, my
youthful comrade and I, in spite of our arduous climb, were in excellent
physical condition when we reached our goal, suffering no pain whatever
in eyes, head, or lungs. The bracing air, rare as it was, soon
exhilarated us, our temporary weariness disappeared, and we were in the
best of trim for scouring the summit, pursuing our natural history
hobbies, and revelling in the inspiring cyclorama that Nature had reared
for our delectation.

My pen falters when I think of describing the scene that broke upon our
vision. I sigh and wish the task were done. The summit itself is a
narrow ridge on which you may stand and look down the declivities on
both sides, scarcely having to step out of your tracks to do so. It is
quite different from the top of Pike's Peak, which is a comparatively
level plateau several acres in extent, carpeted, if one may so speak,
with immense granite rocks piled upon one another or laid side by side
in semi-systematic order; whereas Gray's, as has been said, is a narrow
ridge, composed chiefly of comparatively small stones, with a sprinkling
of good-sized boulders. The finer rocks give the impression of having
been ground down by crushing and attrition to their present dimensions
in the far-away, prehistoric ages.

A short distance to the northwest frowned Torrey's Peak, Gray's
companion-piece, the twain being connected by a ridge which dips in an
arc perhaps a hundred feet below the summits. The ridge was covered with
a deep drift of snow, looking as frigid and unyielding as a scene in the
arctic regions. Torrey's is only a few feet lower than Gray's--one of my
books says five. Mention has been made of its forbidding aspect. It is
indeed one of the most ferocious-looking mountains in the Rockies, its
crown pointed and grim, helmeted with snow, its sides, especially east
and north, seamed and ridged and jagged, the gorges filled with snow,
the beetling cliffs jutting dark and threatening, bearing huge drifts
upon their shoulders. Torrey's Peak actually seemed to be calling over
to us like some boastful Hercules, "Ah, ha! you have climbed my
mild-tempered brother, but I dare you to climb me!" For reasons of our
own we declined the challenge.

The panorama from Gray's Peak is one to inspire awe and dwell forever in
the memory, an alpine wonderland indeed and in truth. To the north,
northwest, and west there stretches, as far as the eye can reach, a vast
wilderness of snowy peaks and ranges, many of them with a rosy glow in
the sunshine, tier upon tier, terrace above terrace, here in serried
ranks, there in isolated grandeur, some just beyond the dividing
cañons, others fifty, sixty, a hundred miles away, cyclopean, majestic,
infinite. Far to the north, Long's Peak lifts his seamed and hoary
pyramid, almost as high as the crest on which we are standing; in the
west rise that famous triad of peaks, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton,
their fanelike towers, sketched against the sky, disputing the palm with
old Gray himself; while a hundred miles to the south Pike's Peak stands
solitary and smiling in the sun, seeming to say, "I am sufficient unto
myself!" Between our viewpoint and the last-named mountain lies South
Park, like a paradise of green immured by guardian walls of rock and
snow, and far to the east, beyond the billowing ranges, white, gray, and
green, stretch the limitless plains, vanishing in the hazy distance. In
such surroundings one's breast throbs and swells with the thought of
Nature's omnipotence.


_The picture includes the northern spur of Gray's Peak, with the
dismantled signal station on its crest. The main ridge of the peak
extends out to the left of the signal station. The summit is so situated
as to be exposed to the sun the greater part of the day; hence, although
it is the highest point in the region, there is less snow upon it in
summer than upon many of the surrounding elevations. Looking northwest
from the signal station, the eye falls upon a wilderness of snow-clad
peaks and ranges, some standing in serried ranks, others in picturesque
disorder. It is truly an arctic scene, summer or winter. Yet it is the
summer home of the brown-capped leucosticte and the white-tailed
ptarmigan, which range in happy freedom over the upper story of our


The summit of Gray's Peak is a favorable viewpoint from which to study
the complexion, the idiosyncrasies, if you please, of individual
mountains, each of which seems to have a personality of its own. Here is
Gray's Peak itself, calm, smiling, good-natured as a summer morning;
yonder is Torrey's, next-door neighbor, cruel, relentless, defiant,
always threatening with cyclone or tornado, or forging the thunder-bolts
of Vulcan. Some mountains appear grand and dignified, others look like
spitfires. On one side some bear smooth and green slopes almost to the
top, while the other is scarred, craggy, and precipitous.

The day was serene and beautiful, the sky a deep indigo, unflecked with
clouds, save a few filmy wracks here and there, and the breeze as balmy
as that of a May morning in my native State. So quiet was the alpine
solitude that on all sides we could hear the solemn roar of the streams
in the ravines hundreds of feet below, some of them in one key and some
in another, making almost a symphony. For several hours we tarried, held
by a spell. "But you have forgotten your ornithology!" some one reminds
me. No one could blame me if I had. Such, however, is not the case, for
ornithology, like the poor, is never far from some of us. The genial
little optimists that had been hopping about on the snow on the
declivities had acted as our cicerones clear to the summit, and some of
them remained there while we tarried. Indeed the leucostictes were quite
plentiful on the mountain's brow. Several perched on the dismantled
walls of the abandoned government building on the summit, called
cheerily, then wheeled about over the crest, darted out and went
careering over the gulches with perfect aplomb, while we watched them
with envious eyes, wishing we too had wings like a leucosticte, not that
we "might fly away," as the Psalmist longed to do, but that we might
scale the mountains at our own sweet will. The favorite occupation of
our little comrades, besides flying, was hopping about on the snow and
picking up dainties that were evidently palatable. Afterwards we
examined the snow, and found several kinds of small beetles and other
insects creeping up through it or about on its surface. Without doubt
these were leucosticte's choice morsels. Thus Nature spreads her table
everywhere with loving care for her feathered children. The general
habits of the rosy finches are elsewhere depicted in this volume. It
only remains to be said that they were much more abundant and familiar
on Gray's Peak than on Pike's Peak,--that is, at the time of my
respective visits to those summits.

[Illustration: _Thistle Butterfly_]

[Illustration: _Western White_]

To omit all mention of the butterflies seen on this trip would be proof
of avian monomania with a vengeance. The lad who was with me found a
number of individuals of two species zigzagging over the summit, and
occasionally settling upon the rocks right by the fields of snow. What
kind of nectar they sipped I know not, for there were no flowers or
verdure on the heights. They were the Painted Lady or Thistle Butterfly
(_Pyrameis cardui_) and the Western White (_Pieris occidentalis_). He
captured an individual of the latter species with his net, and to-day it
graces his collection, a memento of a hard but glorious climb. The
descent of the mountain was laborious and protracted, including some
floundering in the snow, but was accomplished without accident. A warm
supper in the miner's shack which we had leased prepared us for the
restful slumbers of the night.

Although the weather was so cold that a thin coating of ice was formed
on still water out of doors, the next morning the white-crowned sparrows
were singing their sonatas long before dawn, and when at peep of day I
stepped outside, they were flitting about the cabins as if in search of
their breakfast. The evening before, I left the stable-door open while I
went to bring the burros up from their grazing plat. When I returned
with the animals, a white-crown flew out of the building just as I
stepped into the entrance, almost fluttering against my feet, and
chirping sharply at what he seemed to think a narrow escape. He had
doubtless gone into the stable on a foraging expedition.

The day was spent in exploring the valley and steep mountain sides. A
robin's nest was found a little below the timber-line on the slope of
Mount Kelso. In the woods a short distance farther down, a gray-headed
junco's nest was discovered after a good deal of patient waiting. A
female was preening her feathers on a small pine-tree, a sure sign that
she had recently come from brooding her eggs. Presently she began to
flit about from the tree to the ground and back again, making many
feints and starts, which proved that she was embarrassed by my
espionage; but at last she disappeared and did not return. With
quickened pulse I approached the place where I had last seen her. It was
not long before she flew up with a nervous chirp, revealing a pretty
domicile under a roof of green grass, with four daintily speckled eggs
on the concave floor. I noticed especially that the doorway of the tiny
cottage was open toward the morning sun.

At the timber-line there were ruby-crowned kinglets, mountain
chickadees, and gray-headed juncos, while far above this wavering
boundary a pair of red-shafted flickers were observed ambling about
among the bushes and watching me as intently as I was watching them. I
climbed far up the side of Mount Kelso, then around its rocky shoulder,
following an old trail that led to several abandoned silver mines, but
no new birds rewarded my toilsome quest, although I was pleased to learn
that the pipits and leucostictes did not give the "go-by" to this grand
old mountain, but performed their thrilling calisthenics in the air
about its slopes and ravines with as much grace as they did on the
loftier mountain peaks the day before. A beautiful fox and three cubs
were seen among the large stones, and many mountain rats and a sly mink
went scuttling about over the rocks.

[Illustration: _Junco_

"_Under a roof of green grass_"]

On the morning of June 30 the white-crowns, as usual, were chanting
their litanies long before day broke. We left the enchanting valley that
morning, the trills of the white-crowns ringing in the alpenglow like a
sad farewell, as if they felt that we should never meet again. On our
way down the winding road we frequently turned to gaze with longing
eyes upon the snowy summits of the twin peaks, Gray's all asmile in the
sunshine, and Torrey's--or did we only imagine it?--relenting a little
now that he was looking upon us for the last time. Did the mountains and
the white-crowns call after us, "Auf wiedersehen!" or was that only
imagination too?


[Illustration: PLATE VII

RUDDY DUCK--_Erismatura rubida_
(Lower figure, male; upper, female)]

One of our pleasantest trips was taken up South Platte Cañon, across
South Park, and over the range to Breckenridge. The town lies in the
valley of the Blue River, the famous Ten Mile Range, with its numerous
peaks and bold and rugged contour, standing sentinel on the west. Here
we found many birds, but as few of them were new, I need not stop to
enter into special detail.

At the border of the town I found my first green-tailed towhee's nest,
which will be described in the last chapter. A pair of mountain
bluebirds had snuggled their nest in a cranny of one of the cottages,
and an entire family of blues were found on the pine-clad slope beyond
the stream; white-crowned sparrows were plentiful in the copses and far
up the bushy ravines and mountain sides; western chippies rang their
silvery peals; violet-green swallows wove their invisible fabrics
overhead; juncos and Audubon's warblers proclaimed their presence in
many a remote ingle by their little trills; and Brewer's blackbirds
"chacked" their remonstrance at every intrusion into their demesnes;
while in many a woodsy or bushy spot the long-crested jays rent the air
with their raucous outcries; nor were the broad-tailed hummers wanting
on this side of the range, and of course their saucy buzzing was heard
wherever they darted through the air.

An entire day was spent in ascending and descending Peak Number Eight,
one of the boldest of the jutting crags of the Ten Mile Range; otherwise
it is called Tillie Ann, in honor of the first white woman known to
scale its steep and rugged wall to the summit. She must have been a
brave and hardy woman, and certainly deserves a monument of some kind in
memory of her achievement, although it falls to the lot of few persons
to have their deeds celebrated by a towering mountain for a memorial.
While not as high by at least a thousand feet as Gray's Peak, it was
fully as difficult of access. A high ridge of snow, which we surmounted
with not a little pride and exhilaration, lay on its eastern acclivity
within a few feet of the crest, a white crystalline bank gleaming in the
sun. The winds hurtling over the summit were as cold and fierce as old
Boreas himself, so that I was glad to wear woollen gloves and button my
coat-collar close around my neck; yet it was the Fourth of July, when
the people of the East were sweltering in the intense heat of their low
altitudes. It was a surprise to us to find the wind so much colder here
than it had been on the twenty-eighth of June on the summit of Gray's
Peak, which is considerably farther north. However, there may be times
when the meteorological conditions of the two peaks are reversed,
blowing a gale on Gray's and whispering a zephyr on Tillie Ann.

The usual succession of birds was seen as we toiled up the slopes and
steep inclines, some stopping at the timber-line and others extending
their range far up toward the alpine zone. In the pine belt below the
timber-line a pair of solitaires were observed flitting about on the
ground and the lower branches of the trees, but vouchsafing no song. In
the same woodland the mountain jays held carnival--a bacchanalian revel,
judging from the noise they made; the ruby-crowned kinglets piped their
galloping roundels; a number of wood-pewees--western species--were
screeching, thinking themselves musical; siskins were flitting about,
though not as numerous as they had been in the piny regions below Gray's
Peak; and here for the first time I saw olive-sided flycatchers among
the mountains. I find by consulting Professor Cooke that their breeding
range is from seven thousand to twelve thousand feet. A few juncos and
ruby-crowned kinglets were seen above the timber-line, while many
white-crowned sparrows, some of them singing blithely, climbed as far up
the mountain side as the stunted copses extended.

Oddly enough, no leucostictes were seen on this peak. Why they should
make their homes on Pike's and Gray's Peaks and neglect Tillie Ann is
another of those puzzles in featherdom that cannot be solved. Must a
peak be over fourteen thousand feet above sea-level to meet their
physiological wants in the summery season? Who can tell? There were
pipits on this range, but, for some reason that was doubtless
satisfactory to themselves, they were much shyer than their brothers and
sisters had been on Gray's Peak and Mount Kelso; more than that, they
were seen only on the slopes of the range, none of them being observed
on the crest itself, perhaps on account of the cold, strong gale that
was blowing across the snowy heights. A nighthawk was sailing in its
erratic course over the peaks--a bit of information worth noting, none
of these birds having been seen on any of the summits fourteen thousand
feet high. These matters are perhaps not of supreme interest, yet they
have their value as studies in comparative ornithology and are helpful
in determining the _locale_ of the several species named. In the same
interest I desire to add that mountain chickadees, hermit thrushes,
warbling vireos, and red-shafted flickers belong to my Breckenridge
list. Besides, what I think must have been a Mexican crossbill was seen
one morning among the pines, and also a large hawk and two kinds of
woodpeckers, none of which tarried long enough to permit me to make
sure of their identity. The crossbill--if the individual seen was a bird
of that species--wore a reddish jacket, explored the pine cones, and
sang a very respectable song somewhat on the grosbeak order, quite
blithe, loud, and cheerful.

On our return trip to Denver we stopped for a couple of days at the
quiet village of Jefferson in South Park, and we shall never cease to be
thankful that our good fairies led us to do so. What birds, think you,
find residence in a green, well-watered park over nine thousand feet
above sea-level, hemmed in by towering, snow-clad mountains? Spread out
around you like a cyclorama lies the plateau as you descend the mountain
side from Kenosha Pass; or wheel around a lofty spur of Mount Boreas,
and you almost feel as if you must be entering Paradise. It was the
fifth of July, and the park had donned its holiday attire, the meadows
wearing robes of emerald, dappled here and there with garden spots of
variegated flowers that brought more than one exclamation of delight
from our lips.


_A paradise of green engirdled by snow-mantled mountains, making a
summer home for western meadow-larks, Brewer's blackbirds, desert horned
larks, and western Savanna sparrows._


Before leaving the village, our attention was called to a colony of
cliff-swallows, the first we had seen in our touring among the
mountains. Against the bare wall beneath the eaves of a barn they had
plastered their adobe, bottle-shaped domiciles, hundreds of them, some
in orderly rows, others in promiscuous clusters. At dusk, when we
returned to the village, the birds were going to bed, and it was
interesting to watch their method of retiring. The young were already
grown, and the entire colony were converting their nests into sleeping
berths, every one of them occupied, some of the partly demolished ones
by two and three birds. But there were not enough couches to go round,
and several of the birds were crowded out, and were clinging to the side
of the wall on some of the protuberances left from their broken-down
clay huts. It was a query in my mind whether they could sleep
comfortably in that strained position, but I left them to settle that
matter for themselves and in their own way.

Leaving the town, we soon found that the irrigated meadows and
bush-fringed banks of the stream made habitats precisely to the taste of
Brewer's blackbirds, which were quite plentiful in the park. My
companion was "in clover," for numerous butterflies went undulating over
the meadows, leading him many a headlong chase, but frequently getting
themselves captured in his net. Thus occupied, he left me to attend to
the birds. At the border of the village a little bird that was new to me
flitted into view and permitted me to identify it with my glass. The
little stranger was the western savanna sparrow. South Park was the only
place in my Colorado rambles where I found this species, and even his
eastern representative is known to me very imperfectly and only as a
migrant. The park was fairly alive with savannas, especially in the
irrigated portions. I wonder how many millions of them dwelt in this
vast Eden of green almost twice as large as the State of Connecticut!
The little cocks were incessant singers, their favorite perches being
the wire fences, or weeds and grass tufts in the pastures. Their voices
are weak, but very sweet, and almost as fine as the sibilant buzz of
certain kinds of insects. The pretty song opens with two or three
somewhat prolonged syllables, running quite high, followed by a trill
much lower in the scale, and closes with a very fine, double-toned
strain, delivered with the rising inflection and a kind of twist or
jerk--"as if," say my notes, "the little lyrist were trying to tie a
knot in his aria before letting it go." More will be said about these
charming birds before the end of this chapter.

The western meadow-larks were abundant in the park, delivering with
great gusto their queer, percussive chants, which, according to my
notes, "so often sound as if the birds were trying to crack the whip."
The park was the only place above the plains and mesas where I found
these gifted fluters, with the exception of the park about Buena Vista.
It would appear that the narrow mountain valleys, green and grassy
though they are, do not appeal to the larks for summer homes; no, they
seem to crave "ampler realms and spaces" in which to spread their wings
and chant their dithyrambs.

Where the natural streams and irrigating ditches do not reach the soil
of the park it is as dry and parched as the plains and mesas. In fact,
the park is only a smaller and higher edition of the plains, the
character of the soil and the topography of the land in both regions
being identical. Never in the wet, fresh meadows, whether of plain or
park, only on the arid slopes and hillocks, will you find the desert
horned larks, which are certainly true to their literary cognomen, if
ever birds were. How they revel in the desert! How scrupulously they
draw the line on the moist and emerald areas! Surely there are "many
birds of many kinds," and one might appropriately add, "of many minds,"
as well; for, while the blackbirds and savanna sparrows eschew the
desert, the horned larks show the same dislike for the meadow. In
shallow pits dug by themselves amid the sparse buffalo grass, the larks
set their nests. The young had already left their nurseries at the time
of my visit to the park, but were still receiving their rations from the
beaks of their elders. On a level spot an adult male with an uncommonly
strong voice for this species was hopping about on the ground and
reciting his canticles. Seeing I was a stranger and evidently interested
in all sorts of avian exploits, he decided to give an exhibition of what
might be called sky-soloing, as well as dirigible ballooning. Starting
up obliquely from the ground, he continued to ascend in a series of
upward leaps, making a kind of aerial stairway, up, up, on and up, until
he was about the size of a humming-bird framed against the blue dome of
the sky. So far did he plunge into the cerulean depths that I could just
discern the movement of his wings. While scaling the air he did not
sing, but having reached the proper altitude, he opened his mandibles
and let his ditty filtrate through the ether like a shower of spray. It
could be heard quite plainly, although at best the lark's song is a
weak, indefinite twitter, its peculiar characteristic being its carrying
quality, which is indeed remarkable.

The soloist circled around and around in the upper air so long that I
grew dizzy watching him, and my eyes became blinded by the sun and the
glittering sky. How long he kept up his aerial evolutions, singing all
the while, I am unprepared to announce, for I was too much engrossed in
watching him to consult my timepiece; but the performance lasted so long
that I was finally obliged to throw myself on my back on the ground to
relieve the strain upon me, so that I might continue to follow his
movements. I venture the conjecture that the show lasted from fifteen to
twenty minutes; at least, it seemed that long to me in my tense state of
body and mind. Finally he shot down like an arrow, making my head fairly
whirl, and landed lightly on the ground, where he skipped about and
resumed his roundelay as if he had not performed an extraordinary feat.
This was certainly skylarking in a most literal sense. With the
exception of a similar exhibition by Townsend's solitaire--to be
described in the closing chapter--up in the neighborhood of Gray's Peak,
it was the most wonderful avian aeronautic exploit, accompanied with
song, of which I have ever been witness. It is odd, too, that a bird
which is so much of a groundling--I use the term in a good sense, of
course--should also be so expert a sky-scraper. I had listened to the
sky song of the desert horned lark out on the plain, but there he did
not hover long in the air.

The killdeer plovers are as noisy in the park as they are in an eastern
pasture-field, and almost as plentiful. In the evening near the village
a pair of western robins and a thieving magpie had a hard tussle along
the fence of the road. The freebooter was carrying something in his beak
which looked sadly like a callow nestling. He tried to hide in the
fence-corners, to give himself a chance to eat his morsel, but they were
hot on his trail, and at length he flew off toward the distant ridge.
Where did the robins build their nests? I saw no trees in the
neighborhood, but no doubt they built their adobe huts on a fence-rail
or in a nook about an old building. Not a Say's phoebe had we thus far
seen on this jaunt to the mountains, but here was a family near the
village, and, sure enough, they were whistling their likely tunes, the
first time I had ever heard them. While I had met with these birds at
Glenwood and in the valley below Leadville, they had not vouchsafed a
song. What is the tune they whistle? Why, to be sure, it is, "Phe-be-e!
phe-be-e! phe-e-e-bie!" Their voices are stronger and more mellifluent
than the eastern phoebe's, but the manner of delivery is not so
sprightly and gladsome. Indeed, if I mistake not, there is a pensive
strain in the lay of the western bird.

A few cowbirds, red-winged blackbirds, and spotted sandpipers were seen
in the park, but they are too familiar to merit more than casual
mention. However, let us return to Brewer's blackbirds. Closely as they
resemble the bronzed grackles of the East, there are some marked
differences between the eastern and western birds; the westerners are
not so large, and their manners and nesting habits are more like those
of the red-wings than the grackles. Brewer's blackbirds hover overhead
as you come into the neighborhood of their nests or young, and the males
utter their caveats in short squeals or screeches and the females in
harsh "chacks."

[Illustration: _Magpie and Western Robins_

"_They were hot on his trail_"]

The nests are set in low bushes and even on the ground, while those of
the grackles are built in trees and sometimes in cavities. To be exact
and scientific, Brewer's blackbirds belong to the genus _Icolecophagus_,
and the grackles to the genus _Quiscalus_. In the breeding season the
western birds remain in the park. That critical period over, in August
and September large flocks of them, including young and old, ascend to
favorite feeding haunts far above the timber-line, ranging over the
slopes of the snowy mountains engirdling their summer home. Then they
are in the heyday of blackbird life. Silverspot himself, made famous by
Ernest Thompson Seton, did not lead a more romantic and adventurous
life, and I hope some day Brewer's blackbird will be honored by a no
less effective biography.

What a to-do they make when you approach their outdoor hatchery! Yet
they are sly and diplomatic. One day I tried my best to find a nest with
eggs or bantlings in it, but failed, although, as a slight compensation,
I succeeded in discovering three nests from which the young had flown.
The old birds of both sexes circled overhead, called and pleaded and
scolded, and sometimes swooped down quite close to my scalp, always
veering off in time to avoid actual collision. A pair of them held
choice morsels--choice for Brewer's blackbirds--in their bills, and I
sat down on a tuft of sod and watched them for a couple of hours, hoping
they would feed their young in plain sight and divulge their secret to
me; but the sable strategists flitted here and there, hovered in the
air, dropped to the ground, visiting every bush and grass-tuft but the
right one, and finally the worms held in their bills disappeared,
whether into their own gullets or those of their fledgelings, I could
not tell. If the latter, the rascals were unconscionably wary, for my
eyes were bent on them every moment--at least, I thought so. Again and
again they flew off some distance, never more than a stone's throw,
strutted about for a few minutes among the tufts of grass and sod, then
came back with loud objurgations to the place where I sat. They seemed
to be aware of my inspection the moment my field-glass was turned upon
them, for they would at once cease their pretended search for insects in
the grass and fly toward me with a clamorous berating giving me a big
piece of their mind. At length my patience was worn out; I began to hunt
for nests, and found the three empty abodes to which allusion has been

For the most part the female cried, "Chack! chack!" but occasionally she
tried to screech like her ebon consort, her voice breaking ludicrously
in the unfeminine effort. The evening before, I had flushed a youngster
about which a great hubbub was being made, but on the day of my long
vigil in the meadow, I could not, by the most careful search, find a
single bantling, either in or out of a nest. It is odd how effectually
the young are able to conceal themselves in the short grass and
straggling bushes.

Not a little attention was given to the western savanna sparrows, whose
songs have already been described. Abundant proof was furnished that the
breeding season for these little birds was at its height, and I
determined to find a nest, if within the range of possibility. An entire
forenoon was spent in discovering three nests. As you approach their
domiciles, the cocks, which are always on the alert, evidently give the
alarm to their sitting mates, which thereupon slip surreptitiously from
the nest; and in that case how are you going to ferret out their
domestic secrets?

A female--I could distinguish her from her consort by her conduct--was
sitting on the post of a wire fence, preening her feathers, which was
sufficient evidence that she had just come from brooding her eggs. To
watch her until she went back to her nest, then make a bee-line for
it--that was the plan I resolved to pursue. It is an expedient that
succeeds with many birds, if the observer is very quiet and tactful. For
a long time I stood in the blazing sun with my eyes bent on the little
impostor. Back and forth, hither and yon, she flew, now descending to
the ground and creeping slyly about in the grass, manifestly to induce
me to examine the spot; then back to the fence again, chirping
excitedly; then down at another place, employing every artifice to make
me think the nest was where it was not; but I steadfastly refused to
budge from my tracks as long as she came up in a few moments after
descending, for in that case I knew that she was simply resorting to a
ruse to lead me astray. Finally she went down at a point which she had
previously avoided, and, as it was evident she was becoming exceedingly
anxious to go back upon her eggs, I watched her like a tiger intent on
his prey. Slyly she crept about in the grass, presently her chirping
ceased, and she disappeared.

Several minutes passed, and she did not come up, so I felt sure she had
gone down for good this time, and was sitting on her nest. Her husband
exerted himself to his utmost to beguile my attention with his choicest
arias, but no amount of finesse would now turn me from my purpose. I
made a bee-line for the spot where I had last seen the madame, stopping
not, nor veering aside for water, mud, bushes, or any other obstacle. A
search of a couple of minutes brought no find, for she had employed all
the strategy of which she was mistress in going to the nest, having
moused along in the grass for some distance after I had last seen her. I
made my search in an ever-widening circle, and at length espied some dry
grass spears in a tuft right at my feet; then the little prospective
mother flitted from her nest and went trailing on the ground, feigning
to be fatally wounded.

Acquainted with such tactics, I did not follow her, not even with my
eye, but looked down at my feet. Ah! the water sprites had been kind,
for there was the dainty crib, set on a high tuft of sod raised by the
winter's frosts, a little island castle in the wet marsh, cosey and dry.
It was my first savanna sparrow's nest, whether eastern or western. The
miniature cottage was placed under a fragment of dried cattle excrement,
which made a slant roof over it, protecting it from the hot rays of the
sun. Sunken slightly into the ground, the nest's rim was flush with the
short grass, while the longer stems rose about it in a green, filmy wall
or stockade. The holdings of the pretty cup were four pearls of eggs,
the ground color white, the smaller end and middle peppered finely with
brown, the larger almost solidly washed with pigment of the same tint.

Two more savannas' nests were found not long afterwards, one of them by
watching the female until she settled, the other by accidentally
flushing her as I walked across the marshy pasture; but neither of them
was placed under a roof as the first one had been, the blue dome being
their only shelter. These birdlets seem to be especially fond of soggy
places in pastures, setting their nests on the little sod towers that
rise above the surrounding water.

All the birds seen in the park have now been mentioned. It was an
idyllic spot, and I have often regretted that I did not spend a week in
rambling over it and making excursions to the engirdling ridges and
peaks. A few suggestive questions arise relative to the migratory habits
of the feathered tenants of a mountain park like this, for most of those
that have been named are only summer residents. How do they reach this
immured Eden at the time of the spring migration? One may conjecture and
speculate, but one cannot be absolutely sure of the precise course of
their annual pilgrimage to their summer Mecca. Of course, they come up
from the plains, where the spring arrives much earlier than it does in
the higher altitudes. Our nomads may ascend by easy stages along the few
cañons and valleys leading up from the plains to this mountain-girt
plateau; or else, rising high in air at eventide--for most birds perform
their migrations at night--they may fly over the passes and mountain
tops, and at dawn descend to the park.

Neither of these hypotheses is free from objection, for, on the one
hand, it is not likely that birds, which cannot see in the dark, would
take the risk of dashing their brains out against the cliffs and crags
of the cañons by following them at night; yet they may depart from their
usual habit of nocturnal migration, and make the journey up the gorges
and vales by day. On the other hand, the nights are so cold in the
elevated regions that the little travellers' lives might be jeopardized
by nocturnal flight over the passes and peaks. There is one thing
certain about the whole question, perplexing as it may be--the feathered
pilgrims reach their summer quarters in some way, and seem to be very
happy while they remain.

We stopped at a number of places in our run down South Platte Cañon,
adding no new birds to our list, but making some interesting
observations. At Cassel's a house-wren had built a nest on the veranda
of the hotel where people were sitting or passing most of the time, and
was feeding her tiny brood. In the copse of the hollow below the resort,
the mountain song-sparrows were trilling sweetly--the only ones we had
encountered in our wanderings since leaving Arvada on the plains. These
musicians seem to be rather finical in their choice of summer resorts.
Chaseville is about a mile below Cassel's, and was made memorable to us
by the discovery of our second green-tailed towhee's nest, a description
of which I have decided to reserve for the last chapter of this volume.
Lincoln's sparrows descanted in rich tones at various places in the
bushy vales, but were always as wild as deer, scuttling into the
thickets before a fair view of them could be obtained.

The veranda of a boarding-house at Shawnee was the site of another
house-wren's nest. While I stood quite close watching the little mother,
she fed her bantlings twice without a quaver of fear, the youngsters
chirping loudly for more of "that good dinner." At this place barn
swallows were describing graceful circles and loops in the air, and a
sheeny violet-green swallow squatted on the dusty road and took a
sun-bath, which she did by fluffing up all her plumes and spreading out
her wings and tail, so that the rays could reach every feather with
their grateful warmth and light. It was a pretty performance.

[Illustration: _Violet-green Swallow_

"_Squatted on the dusty road and took a sun-bath_"]

A stop-over at Bailey's proved satisfactory for several reasons, among
which was the finding of the Louisiana tanagers, which were the first we
had seen on this trip, although many of them had been observed in the
latitude of Colorado Springs. Afterwards we found them abundant in the
neighborhood of Boulder. The only pigmy nuthatches of this visit were
seen in a ravine above Bailey's. In the same wooded hollow I took
occasion to make some special notes on the quaint calls of the
long-crested jays, a task that I had thus far deferred from time to
time. There was an entire family of jays in the ravine, the elders
feeding their strapping youngsters in the customary manner. These birds
frequently give voice to a strident call that is hard to distinguish
from the cries of their kinsmen, the mountain jays. When I pursued the
couple that were attending to the gastronomical wants of their children,
one of the adults played a yodel on his trombone sounding like this:
"Ka-ka-ka, k-wilt, k-wilt, k-wilt", the first three short syllables
enunciated rapidly, and the "k-wilts" in a more measured way, with a
peculiar guttural intonation, giving the full sound to the _k_ and _w_.
The birds became very shy when they thought themselves shadowed, not
understanding what my pursuit might imply, and they gave utterance to
harsh cries of warning that were different from any that had preceded.
It was presently followed by a soft and friendly chatter, as if the
birds were having an interview that was exclusively _inter se_. Then one
of them startled me by breaking out in a loud, high key, crying, "Quick!
quick! quick!" as fast as he could fling the syllables from his tongue.
This, being translated into our human vernacular, obviously meant,
"Hurry off! danger! danger!" A few minutes of silence followed the
outburst, while the birds ambled farther away, and then the echoes were
roused by a most raucous call, "Go-ware! go-ware! go-ware!" in a voice
that would have been enough to strike terror to the heart of one who was
not used to uncanny sounds in solitary places. After that outburst the
family flew off, and I could hear them talking the matter over among
themselves far up the mountain side, no doubt congratulating one another
on their hair-breadth escape. The youngsters looked quite stylish with
their quaint little blue caps and neatly fitting knickerbockers.

At Bailey's I found my first and only white-crowned sparrow's nest for
this trip, although two years before I was fortunate enough to discover
several nests in the valleys creeping from the foot of Pike's Peak. At
dusk one evening I was walking along the railway below the village,
listening to the sweetly pensive trills of the white-crowns in the
bushes bordering the creek, when there was a sharp chirp in the willows,
and a female white-crown darted over to my side of the stream and
slipped quietly into a thick bush on the bank. I stepped down to the
spot, and the pretty madame leaped away, uncovering a well-woven nest
containing four white eggs speckled with dark brown. All the while her
spouse was trilling with might and main on the other side of the creek,
to make believe that there was nothing serious happening, no nest that
any one cared anything about. His mate could not disguise her agitation
by assuming nonchalance, but flitted about in the willows and chirped
pitifully. I hurried away to relieve her distress. The cottages on the
slopes were gay with tourists enjoying their summer outing, and
beautiful Kiowa Lodge, perched on a shoulder of the mountain among
embowering pines, glowed with incandescent lights, while its
blithe-hearted guests pursued their chosen kinds of pastime; but none of
them, I venture to assert, were happier than the little white-crown in
her grassy lodge on the bank of the murmuring stream.

On the way down the cañon, as we were going to Denver, I was able to add
three belted kingfishers to my bird-roll of Colorado species, the only
ones I saw in the Rockies.

Our jaunt of 1901 included a trip to Boulder and a thrilling swing
around the far-famed "Switzerland Trail" to Ward, perched on the
mountain sides among the clouds hard by the timber-line. Almost
everywhere we met with feathered comrades; in some places, especially
about Boulder, many of them; but no new species were seen, and no habits
observed that have not been sufficiently delineated in other parts of
this book. If one could only observe all the birds all the time in all
places, what a happy life the bird-lover would live! It is with feelings
of mingled joy and sadness that one cons Longfellow's melodious lines:--

    "Think every morning when the sun peeps through
      The dim, leaf-latticed windows of the grove,
    How jubilant the happy birds renew
      Their old, melodious madrigals of love!
    And when you think of this, remember too
      'Tis always morning somewhere, and above
    The awakened continents, from shore to shore,
    Somewhere the birds are singing evermore."


On the plains of Colorado there dwells a feathered choralist that
deserves a place in American bird literature, and the day will perhaps
come when his merits will have due recognition, and then he shall have
not only a monograph, but also an ode all to himself.

    [12] The author is under special obligation to Mr. John P. Haines,
    editor of "Our Animal Friends," and president of the American
    Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, for publishing the
    contents of this chapter in his magazine in time to be included in
    this volume. Also for copyright privileges in connection with this
    and other chapters.

The bird to which I refer is called the lark bunting in plain English,
or, in scientific terms, _Calamospiza melanocorys_. The male is a trig
and handsome fellow, giving you the impression of a well-dressed
gentleman in his Sunday suit of black, "with more or less of a slaty
cast," as Ridgway puts it, the middle and greater wing-coverts bearing a
conspicuous white patch which is both a diagnostic marking and a real
ornament. In flight this patch imparts to the wing a filmy, almost
semi-transparent, aspect. The bunting is about the size of the eastern
bobolink, and bears some resemblance to that bird; but bobolink he is
not, although sometimes mistaken for one, and even called by that name
in Colorado. The fact is, those wise men, the systematists, have decided
that the bobolink belongs to the family _Icteridæ_, which includes,
among others, the blackbirds and orioles, while the lark bunting
occupies a genus all by himself in the family _Fringillidæ_--that is,
the family of finches, sparrows, grosbeaks, and towhees. Therefore, the
two birds can scarcely be called second cousins. The bunting has no
white or buff on his upper parts.

Sitting on a sunny slope one June evening, I surrendered myself to the
spell of the bunting, and endeavored to make an analysis of his
minstrelsy. First, it must be said that he is as fond as the bobolink of
rehearsing his arias on the wing, and that is, perhaps, the chief reason
for his having been mistaken for that bird by careless observers.
Probably the major part of his solos are recited in flight, although he
can sit quietly on a weed-stalk or a fence-post and sing as sweetly, if
not as ecstatically, as if he were curveting in the air. During this
aerial performance he hovers gracefully, bending his wings downward,
after the bobolink's manner, as if he were caressing the earth beneath
him. However, a striking difference between his intermittent
song-flights and those of the bobolink is to be noted. The latter
usually rises in the air, soars around in a curve, and returns to the
perch from which he started, or to one near by, describing something of
an ellipse. The lark bunting generally rises obliquely to a certain
point, then descends at about the same angle to another perch opposite
the starting-point, describing what might be called the upper sides of
an isosceles triangle, the base being a line near the ground, connecting
the perch from which he rose and the one on which he alighted. I do not
mean to say that our bunting never circles, but simply that such is not
his ordinary habit, while sweeping in a circle or ellipse is the
favorite pastime of the eastern bobolink. The ascent of neither bird is
very high. They are far from deserving the name of skylarks.

We must give a detailed account of the bunting's song. Whatever others
may think of him, I have come under the spell of his lyrical genius.
True, his voice has not the loud, metallic ring, nor his chanson the
medley-like, happy-go-lucky execution, that marks the musical
performances of the bobolink; but his song is more mellow, rhythmic,
theme-like; for he has a distinct tune to sing, and sing it he will. In
fine, his song is of a different order from that of the bobolink, and,
therefore, the comparison need be carried no further.

As one of these minstrels sat on a flowering weed and gave himself up
to a lyrical transport, I made careful notes, and now give the substance
of my elaborate entries. The song, which is intermittent, opens with
three prolonged notes running high in the scale, and is succeeded by a
quaint, rattling trill of an indescribable character, not without
musical effect, which is followed by three double-toned long notes quite
different from the opening phrases; then the whole performance is closed
by an exceedingly high and fine run like an insect's hum--so fine,
indeed, that the auditor must be near at hand to notice it at all.
Sometimes the latter half of the score, including the second triad of
long notes, is repeated before the soloist stops to take breath. It will
be seen that the regular song consists of four distinct phrases, two
triads and two trills. About one-third of the songs are opened in a
little lower key than the rest, the remainder being correspondingly
mellowed. The opening syllables, and, indeed, some other parts of the
melody as well, are very like certain strains of the song-sparrow, both
in execution and in quality of tone; and thus even the experienced
ornithologist may sometimes be led astray. When the bunting sails into
the air, he rehearses the song just described, only he is very likely to
prolong it by repeating the various parts, though I think he seldom, if
ever, throws them together in a hodge-podge. He seems to follow a system
in his recitals, varied as many of them are. As to his voice, it is of
superb timbre.

Another characteristic noted was that the buntings do not throw back
their heads while singing, after the manner of the sparrows, but stretch
their necks forward, and at no time do they open their mouths widely. As
a rule, or at least very often, when flying, they do not begin their
songs until they have almost reached the apex of their triangle; then
the song begins, and it continues over the angle and down the incline
until another perch is settled upon. What Lowell says of "bobolinkum" is
just as true of bunting--"He runs down, a brook o' laughter, thru the
air." As the sun went down behind the snow-clad mountains, a half dozen
or more of the buntings rolled up the full tide of song, and I left them
to their vespers and trudged back to the village, satisfied with the
acquirements of this red-letter day in my ornithological journey.

However, one afternoon's study of such charming birds was not enough to
satisfy my curiosity, for no females had been seen and no nests
discovered. About ten days later, more attention was given them. In a
meadow not far from the hamlet of Arvada, between Denver and the
mountains, I found a colony of buntings one morning, swinging in the air
and furnishing their full quota of the matutinal concert, in which many
other birds had a leading part, among them being western meadow-larks,
western robins, Bullock's orioles, American and Arkansas goldfinches,
mountain song-sparrows, lazuli finches, spurred towhees, black-headed
grosbeaks, summer warblers, western Maryland yellow-throats, and
Townsend's solitaires. It has seldom been my fortune to listen to a
finer _pot-pourri_ of avian music.

At first only male buntings were seen. Surely, I thought, there must be
females in the neighborhood, for when male birds are singing so lustily
about a place, their spouses are usually sitting quietly on nests
somewhere in bush or tree or grass. I hunted long for a nest, trudging
about over the meadow, examining many a grass-tuft and weed-clump,
hoping to flush a female and discover her secret; but my quest was vain.
It is strange how difficult it is to find nests in Colorado, either on
the plains or in the mountains. The birds seem to be adepts in the fine
arts of concealment and secret-keeping. Presently several females were
seen flying off over the fields and returning, obviously to feed their
young. There was now some colorable prospect of finding a nest. A mother
bird appeared with a worm in her bill, and you may rely upon it I did
not permit her to slip from my sight until I saw her drop to the ground,
hop about stealthily for a few moments, then disappear, and presently
fly up minus the worm. Scarcely daring to breathe, I followed a direct
course to the weed-clump from which she had risen. And there was a nest,
sure enough--my first lark bunting's--set in a shallow pit of the
ground, prettily concealed and partly roofed over by the flat and
spreading weed-stalk. Four half-fledged youngsters lay panting in the
little cradle, the day being very warm. I lifted one of them from the
nest, and held it in my hand for a minute or two, and even touched it
with my lips, my first view of lark-bunting babies being something of an
event--I had almost said an epoch--in my experience. Replacing the
youngster in its crib, I stepped back a short distance and watched the
mother bird returning with another mouthful of "goodies," and feeding
her bantlings four. She was not very shy, and simply uttered a fine
chirp when I went too close to her nestlings, while her gallant consort
did not even chirp, but tried to divert my attention by repeatedly
curveting in the air and singing his choicest measures. This was the
only bunting's nest I found, although I made long and diligent search
for others, as you may well believe when I state that a half day was
spent in gathering the facts recorded in the last two paragraphs.

In the afternoon I watched a female in another field for a long time,
but she was too wary to betray her secret. In this case the male,
instead of beguiling me with song, flitted about and mingled his fine
chirps with those of his anxious mate. On my way across the plains,
some two weeks later, I discovered that the lark buntings do not dwell
only in well-watered meadows, but also in the most arid localities.
Still, I am inclined to think they do not build their nests far from
refreshing streams. When the breeding season is over, they range far and
wide over the plains in search of insects that are to their taste. From
the car window many of them were observed all along the way to a
distance of over sixty miles east of Denver. At that time the males,
females, and young were moving from place to place, mostly in scattering
flocks, the breeding season being past. A problem that puzzled me a
little was where they obtain water for drinking and bathing purposes,
but no doubt such blithe and active birds are able to "look out for
number one."

The second member of our lyrical quartette is the elegant green-tailed
towhee, known scientifically as _Pipilo chlorurus_. The pretty
green-tails are quite wary about divulging their domestic secrets, and
for a time I was almost in despair of finding even one of their nests.
In vain I explored with exhausting toil many a steep mountain side,
examining every bush and beating every copse within a radius of many

My purpose was to flush the female from her nest, a plan that succeeds
with many birds; but in this instance I was disappointed. It is possible
that, when an intruder appears in their nesting haunts, the males,
which are ever on the lookout, call their spouses from the nests, and
then "snap their fingers," so to speak, at the puzzled searcher.

However, by watching the mother birds carrying worms in their bills I
succeeded in finding two nests. The first was at Breckenridge, and,
curiously enough, in a vacant lot at the border of the town, not on a
steep slope, but on a level spot near the bank of Blue River. The mother
bird had slyly crept to her nest while I watched, and remained firmly
seated until I bent directly over her, when she fluttered away, trailing
a few feet to draw my attention to herself. It was a cosey nest site--in
a low, thick bush, beneath a rusty but well-preserved piece of
sheet-iron which made a slant roof over the cradle. It contained three
callow bantlings, which innocently opened their carmine-lined mouths
when I stirred the leaves above them. It seemed to be an odd location
for the nest of a bird that had always appeared so wild and shy. The
altitude of the place is nine thousand five hundred and twenty feet.

My second green-tail's nest was in South Platte Cañon, near a station
called Chaseville, its elevation being about eight thousand five hundred
feet. I was walking along the dusty wagon road winding about the base of
the mountain, when a little bird with a worm in her bill flitted up the
steep bank a short distance and disappeared among the bushes. The tidbit
in her bill gave me a clew to the situation; so I scrambled up the steep
place, and presently espied a nest in a bush, about a foot and a half
from the ground. As had been anticipated, it turned out to be a
green-tailed towhee's domicile, as was proved by the presence and uneasy
chirping of a pair of those birds. While the nest at Breckenridge was
set on the ground, this one was placed on the twigs of thick bushes,
showing that these birds, like their eastern relatives, are fond of
diversity in selecting nesting places.

This nest contained four bantlings, already well fledged. My notes say
that their mouths were yellow-lined, and that the fleshy growths at the
corners of their bills were yellow. Does the lining of the juvenile
green-tail's mouth change from red to yellow as he advances in age? My
notes certainly declare that the nestlings at Breckenridge had
carmine-lined mouths. For the present I cannot settle the question
either affirmatively or negatively.

Here I perpetrated a trick which I have ever since regretted. The
temptation to hold a baby green-tail in my hand and examine it closely
was so strong that, as carefully as I could, I drew one from its grassy
crib and held it in my palm, noting the green tinting already beginning
to show on its wings and back. Its tail was still too stubby to display
the ornamentation that gives the species its popular name. So much was
learned, but at the expense of the little family's peace of mind. As I
held the bantling in my hand, the frightened mamma uttered a series of
pitiful calls that were new to my ears, consisting of two notes in a
low, complaining tone; it was more of an entreaty than a protest.
Afterwards I heard the green-tails also give voice to a fine chirp
almost like that of a chipping sparrow.

The mother's call seemed to strike terror to the hearts of her infant
brood, for, as I attempted to put the baby back into its crib, all four
youngsters set up a loud to-do, and sprang, panic stricken, over the
rim, tumbling, fluttering, and falling through the network of twigs to
the ground, a couple of them rolling a few feet down the dusty bank.
Again and again I caught them and put them back into the nest, but they
would not remain there, so I was compelled to leave them scrambling
about among the bushes and rocks. I felt like a buccaneer, a veritable
Captain Kidd. My sincere hope is that none of the birdkins came to grief
on account of their premature flight from the nest. The next morning old
and young were chirping about the place as I passed, and I hurried away,
feeling sad that science and sentiment must sometimes come into

One day in the latter part of June, as I was climbing the steep side of
a mesa in the neighborhood of Golden, my ear was greeted by a new style
of bird music, which came lilting sweetly down to me from the height. It
had a kind of wild, challenging ring about it, as if the singer were
daring me to venture upon his demesne at my peril. A hard climb brought
me at length within range of the little performer, who was blowing his
Huon's horn from the pointed top of a large stone on the mesa's side. My
field-glass was soon fixed upon him, revealing a little bird with a long
beak, decurved at the end, a grayish-brown coat quite thickly barred and
mottled on the wings and tail, and a vest of warm white finely sprinkled
with a dusky gray. A queer, shy, timid little thing he was. Afterwards I
met him often, but never succeeded in gaining his confidence or winning
a single concession from him. He was the rock wren (_Salpinctes
obsoletus_)--a species that is unknown east of the Great Plains, one
well deserving a place in literature.

I was especially impressed with his peculiar style of minstrelsy, so
different from anything I had ever heard in the bird realm. While the
song was characterized by much variety, it usually opened with two or
three loud, clear syllables, somewhat prolonged, sounding, as has been
said, like a challenge, followed by a peculiar bubbling trill that
seemed fairly to roll from the piper's tongue. Early one morning a few
days later I heard a brilliant vocalist descanting from the top of a
pump in a wide field among the foothills. How wildly his tones rang out
on the crisp morning air! I seemed to be suddenly transported to another
part of the world, his style of music was so new, so foreign to my ear.
My pencilled notes say of this particular minstrel: "Very musical--great
variety of notes--clear, loud, ringing--several runs slightly like
Carolina's--others suggest Bewick's--but most of them _sui generis_."

Let us return to the first rock wren I saw. He was exceedingly shy,
scurrying off to a more distant perch--another stone--as I approached.
Sometimes he would run down among the bushes and rocks like a mouse,
then glide to the top of another stone, and fling his pert little aria
at the intruder. It was interesting to note that he most frequently
selected for a singing perch the top of a high, pointed rock where he
could command a view of his surroundings and pipe a note of warning to
his mate at the approach of a supposed enemy. Almost every conspicuous
rock on the acclivity bore evidence of having been used as a lookout by
the little sentinel.

This wren is well named, for his home is among the rocks, in the
crannies and niches of which his mate hides her nest so effectually that
you must look long for it, and even after the most painstaking search
you may not be able to find it. The little husband helps to lead you
astray. He will leap upon a rock and send forth his bell-like peal, as
if he were saying, "Right here, right here, here is our nest!" but when
you go to the spot, he flits off to another rock and sounds the same
challenge. And so you can form no idea of the nest site. My nearest
approach to finding a nest was among the rocks and cliffs on the summit
of a mountain a few miles from Golden, where an adult bird was seen to
feed a youngster that had already flown from the nursery. It was
interesting to know that the rock wrens breed at so high an altitude.
However, they are not an alpine species, none having been seen by the
writer over eight thousand feet above sea-level, although they have been
known to ascend to an altitude of twelve thousand feet.

The fourth member of our feathered quartette was the oddest of all. On
the thirtieth of June my companion and I were riding slowly down the
mountain side a few miles below Gray's Peak, which we had scaled two
days before. My ear was struck by a flicker's call above us, so I
dismounted from my burro, and began to clamber up the hillside.
Presently I heard a song that seemed one moment to be near at hand, the
next far away, now to the right, now to the left, and anon directly
above me. To my ear it was a new kind of bird minstrelsy. I climbed
higher and higher, and yet the song seemed to be no nearer. It had a
grosbeak-like quality, I fancied, and I hoped to find either the pine
or the evening grosbeak, for both of which I had been making anxious
search. The shifting of the song from point to point struck me as odd,
and it was very mystifying.

Higher and higher I climbed, the mountain side being so steep that my
breath came in gasps, and I was often compelled to throw myself on the
ground to recover strength. At length a bird darted out from the pines
several hundred feet above me, rose high into the air, circled and swung
this way and that for a long time, breaking at intervals into a song
which sifted down to me faintly through the blue distance. How long it
remained on the wing I do not know, but it was too long for my eyes to
endure the strain of watching it. Through my glass a large part of the
wings showed white or yellowish-white, and seemed to be almost
translucent in the blaze of the sunlight. What could this wonderful
haunter of the sky be? It was scarcely possible that so roly-poly a bird
as a grosbeak could perform so marvellous an exploit on the wing.

I never worked harder to earn my salary than I did to climb that steep
and rugged mountain side; but at last I reached and penetrated the zone
of pines, and finally, in an area covered with dead timber, standing and
fallen, two feathered strangers sprang in sight, now flitting among the
lower branches and now sweeping to the ground. They were not grosbeaks,
that was sure; their bills were quite slender, their bodies lithe and
graceful, and their tails of well-proportioned length. Save in color,
they presented a decidedly thrush-like appearance, and their manners
were also thrush-like.

Indeed, the colors and markings puzzled me not a little. The upper parts
were brownish-gray of various shades, the wings and tail for the most
part dusky, the wing-coverts, tertials, and some of the quills bordered
and tipped with white, also the tail. The white of both wings and tail
became quite conspicuous when they were spread. This was the feathered
conundrum that flitted about before me. The birds were about the size of
the hermit thrushes, but lither and suppler. They ambled about
gracefully, and did not seem to be very shy, and presently one of them
broke into a song--the song that I had previously heard, only it was
loud and ringing and well articulated, now that I was near the singer.
Again and again they lifted their rich voices in song. When they
wandered a little distance from each other, they called in affectionate
tones, giving their "All's well."

Then one of them, no doubt the male, darted from a pine branch obliquely
into the air, and mounted up and up and up, in a series of graceful
leaps, until he was a mere speck against the blue dome, gyrating to and
fro in zigzag lines, or wheeling in graceful circles, his song dribbling
faintly down to me at frequent intervals. A thing of buoyancy and grace,
more angel than bird, that wonderful winged creature floated about in
the cerulean sky; how long I do not know, whether five minutes, or ten,
or twenty, but so long that at last I flung myself upon my back and
watched him until my eyes ached. He kept his wings in constant motion,
the white portions making them appear filmy as the sun shone upon them.
Suddenly he bent his head, partly folded his wings, and swept down
almost vertically like an arrow, alighting safe somewhere among the
pines. I have seen other birds performing aerial evolutions accompanied
with song, but have never known one to continue so long on the wing.

What was this wonderful bird? It was Townsend's solitaire (_Myadestes
townsendii_)--a bird which is peculiar to the West, especially to the
Rocky Mountains, and which belongs to the same family as the thrushes
and bluebirds. No literature in my possession contains any reference to
this bird's astonishing aerial flight and song, and I cannot help
wondering whether other bird-students have witnessed the interesting

Subsequently I found a pair of solitaires on the plains near Arvada. The
male was a powerful singer. Many of his outbursts were worthy of the
mocking-bird, to some of whose runs they bore a close resemblance. He
sang almost incessantly during the half day I spent in the neighborhood,
my presence seeming to inspire him to the most prodigious lyrical
efforts of which he was master. Sometimes he would sit on the top of a
bush or a fence-post, but his favorite perches were several ridges of
sand and gravel. His flight was the picture of grace, and he had a habit
of lifting his wings, now one, now the other, and often both, after the
manner of the mocking-bird on a chimney-top. He and his mate did not
utter a chirp, but made a great to-do by singing, and finally I
discovered that all the fuss was not about a nest, but about a hulking
youngster that had outgrown his kilts and looked very like a brown
thrasher. Neither of this second pair of solitaires performed any
evolutions in the upper air; nor did another pair that I found far up a
snow-clad mountain near Breckenridge, on the other side of the
Continental Divide.

The scientific status of this unique bird is interesting. He is a
species of the genus _Myadestes_, which belongs to the family _Turdidæ_,
including the thrushes, stone-chats, and bluebirds, as well as the
solitaires. He is therefore not a thrush, but is closely related to the
genus _Turdus_, occupying the same relative position in the avi-faunal
system. According to Doctor Coues the genus includes about twenty
species, only one of which--the one just described--is native to the
United States, the rest being found in the West Indies and Central and
South America. Formerly the solitaires comprised a subfamily among the
chatterers, but a later and more scientific classification places
them in a genus under the head of _Turdidæ_.

[Illustration: PLATE VIII

BROWN-CAPPED LEUCOSTICTE--_Leucosticte australis_
(Lower figure, male; upper, female)]

The range of Townsend's solitaire is from the plains of Colorado to the
Pacific coast and north to British Columbia. According to Robert
Ridgway, he has even been met with "casually" in Illinois. In Colorado
many of the solitaires are permanent residents in the mountains,
remaining there throughout the winter. Some of them, however, visit the
plains during the fall, winter, and spring. In the winter they may be
found from the lower valleys to an elevation of ten thousand feet, while
they are known to breed as high as twelve thousand feet. The nests are
placed on the ground among rocks, fallen branches and logs, and are
loosely constructed of sticks and grass. From three to six eggs compose
a set, the ground color being white, speckled with reddish brown. Doctor
Coues says the birds feed on insects and berries, and are "capable of
musical expression in an exalted degree." With this verdict the writer
is in full accord.


The following list includes all the species and varieties, so far as
known to naturalists, occurring in the State of Colorado. Of course,
these birds as families are not restricted to that State, and therefore
the catalogue comprehends many of the species to be found in adjacent
and even more remote parts of the country. Aside from the author's own
observations, he is indebted for a large part of the matter comprised in
this list to Professor Wells W. Cooke's pamphlet, entitled, "The Birds
of Colorado," with the several appendixes, and to the invaluable manuals
of Mr. Ridgway and Dr. Coues.

According to the latest information accessible to the writer, 389
species and varieties occur in Colorado, of which 243 are known to
breed. This is a superb record, and is excelled by only two other States
in the Union, namely, Texas and California. Colorado's splendid list is
to be explained on the ground of its wonderful variety of climate,
altitude, soil, and topographical features, such as its plains,
foothills, lower mountains, and towering peaks and ranges, bringing
within its boundaries many eastern, boreal, middle western, and far
western forms.

The author's preference would have been to begin the roll with the most
interesting birds, those to which he gave the largest share of his
attention, namely, the oscines, but he has decided to follow the order
and nomenclature of the Check-List of North American birds as arranged
by the American Ornithologists' Union. In deference to the general
reader, however, he has placed the English name of each bird first, then
the scientific designation. The numbers correspond to the American
Check-List. By noting those omitted, the reader will readily discover
what species have not been found in Colorado.

1. =Western grebe.= ÆCHMOPHORUS OCCIDENTALIS. Rare migrant; western
species, chiefly interior regions of North America.

2. =Holboell's grebe.= COLYMBUS HOLBOELLII. Rare migrant; breeds far
north; range, all of North America.

3. =Horned grebe.= COLYMBUS AURITUS. Rare migrant; range, almost the
same as the last.

4. =American eared grebe.= COLYMBUS NIGRICOLLIS CALIFORNICUS. Summer
resident; rare in eastern, common in western Colorado; breeds from
plains to 8,000 feet; partial to alkali lakes; western species.

6. =Pied-billed grebe.= PODILYMBUS PODICEPS. Summer resident, rare;
common in migration; breeds in northern part of State; sometimes winters
in southern part.

7. =Loon.= GAVIA IMBER. Migrant; occasionally winter resident; not known
to breed in State.

8. =Yellow-billed loon.= GAVIA ADAMSII. Migrant; rare or accidental.

9. =Black-throated loon.= GAVIA ARCTICA. Rare fall and winter visitant.

37. =Parasitic jaeger.= STERCORARIUS PARASITICUS. Fall and winter
resident; rare.

40. =Kittiwake.= RISSA TRIDACTYLA. Rare or accidental in winter.

49. =Western gull.= LARUS OCCIDENTALIS. Pacific Coast bird; accidental
in Colorado; only one record.

51a. =American herring gull.= LARUS ARGENTATUS SMITHSONIANUS. Rare
migrant; range, the whole of North America.

53. =California gull.= LARUS CALIFORNICUS. Western species; breeds
abundantly in Utah; only three records for Colorado.

54. =Ring-billed gull.= LARUS DELAWARENSIS. Not uncommon summer
resident; common in migration; breeds as high as 7,500 feet; range,
whole of North America.

58. =Laughing gull.= LARUS ATRICILLA. Bird of South Atlantic and Gulf
States; once accidental in Colorado.

59. =Franklin's gull.= LARUS FRANKLINII. Rare migrant; range, interior
of North America.

60. =Bonaparte's gull.= LARUS PHILADELPHIA. Rare migrant; not uncommon
in a few localities; range, whole of North America.

62. =Sabine's gull.= XEMA SABINII. Rare winter visitant; breeds in the
arctic regions.

69. =Forster's tern.= STERNA FORSTERI. Rare summer resident; common
migrant; habitat, temperate North America.

71. =Arctic tern.= STERNA PARADISÆA. Very rare migrant; but two records;
breeding habitat, circumpolar regions.

77. =Black tern.= HYDROCHELIDON NIGRA SURINAMENSIS. Common summer
resident; both sides of range; habitat, temperate North America; in
winter south as far as Brazil and Chili.

120. =Double-crested cormorant.= PHALACROCORAX DILOPHUS. Perhaps breeds
in Colorado, as it breeds abundantly in Utah; all present records from
eastern foothills.

125. =American white pelican.= PELECANUS ERYTHRORHYNCHOS. Once a common
migrant; a few remained to breed; now rare; still noted on both sides of
the range.

129. =American merganser.= MERGANSER AMERICANUS. Resident; common
migrant and winter sojourner; a few breed in mountains and parks;
generally distributed in North America.

130. =Red-breasted merganser.= MERGANSER SERRATOR. Rare winter
sojourner; common migrant; breeds far north.

131. =Hooded merganser.= LOPHODYTES CUCULLATUS. Rare resident both
summer and winter; breeds in eastern part and in the mountains; general
range, North America.

132. =Mallard.= ANAS BOSCHAS. Very common in migration; common in
winter; breeds below 9,000 feet, on plains as well as in mountains;
general range, whole northern hemisphere.

134a. =Mottled duck.= ANAS FULVIGULA MACULOSA. Rare migrant; an eastern
species, sometimes wandering west to plains.

135. =Gadwall.= CHAULELASMUS STREPERUS. Summer resident; common in
migration; breeds on plains; also in sloughs and small lakes at an
elevation of 11,000 feet in southern part of State; breeds abundantly at
San Luis Lakes.

137. =Baldpate.= MARECA AMERICANA. Summer resident; breeds from plains
to 8,000 feet.

139. =Green-winged teal.= NETTION CAROLINENSIS. Common summer resident;
abundant in migration; a few breed on the plains; more in mountains and
upper parks.

140. =Blue-winged teal.= QUERQUEDULA DISCORS. Same records as preceding.

141. =Cinnamon teal.= QUERQUEDULA CYANOPTERA. Common summer resident;
breeds both east and west of the range; a western species; in winter
south to Chili, Argentina, and Falkland Islands; sometimes strays east
as far as Illinois and Louisiana.

142. =Shoveller.= SPATULA CLYPEATA. Summer resident; abundant in
migration; breeds in suitable localities, but prefers mountain parks
8,000 feet in altitude; breeds throughout its range, which is the whole
of North America.

143. =Pintail=. DAFILA ACUTA. Rare summer and winter resident; common
migrant; mostly breeds in the North.

144. =Wood duck.= AIX SPONSA. Rare summer resident.

146. =Redhead.= AYTHYA AMERICANA. Common migrant; breeds far north;
migrates early in spring.

147. =Canvas-back.= AYTHYA VALLISNERIA. Migrant; not common; breeds far

148. =Scaup duck.= AYTHYA MARILA. Rare migrant; both sides of the range;
breeds far north.

149. =Lesser scaup duck.= AYTHYA AFFINIS. Migrant; not common; a little
more common than preceding.

150. =Ring-necked duck.= AYTHYA COLLARIS. Rare migrant, though common in
Kansas; breeds in far North.

151. =American golden-eye.= CLANGULA CLANGULA AMERICANA. Rare migrant;
breeds far north.

152. =Barrow's golden-eye.= CLANGULA ISLANDICA. Summer and winter
resident; a northern species, but breeds in mountains of Colorado,
sometimes as high as 10,000 feet; rare on plains.

153. =Buffle-head.= CHARITONETTA ALBEOLA. Common migrant throughout
State; breeds in the North.

154. =Old squaw.= HARELDA HYEMALIS. Rare winter visitor; a northern

155. =Harlequin duck.= HISTRIONICUS HISTRIONICUS. Resident; not common;
a northern species, but a few breed in mountains at an altitude of 7,000
to 10,000 feet.

160. =American eider.= SOMATERIA DRESSERI. Very rare; only two
records--one somewhat uncertain.

163. =American scoter.= OIDEMIA AMERICANA. Rare winter visitor; northern
bird, in winter principally along the sea-coast, but a few visit the
larger inland lakes.

165. =White-winged scoter.= OIDEMIA DEGLANDI. Same habits as preceding;
perhaps rarer.

166. =Surf scoter.= OIDEMIA PERSPICILLATA. Same as preceding.

167. =Ruddy duck.= ERISMATURA JAMAICENSIS. Common summer resident; both
sides of the range; breeds from plains to 10,000 feet; a beautiful bird;
author's observations given in Chapter VII.

169. =Lesser snow goose.= CHEN HYPERBOREA. Migrant and winter resident;
not common; breeds far north.

169a. =Greater snow goose.= CHEN HYPERBOREA NIVALIS. Rare migrant; only
two records; the eastern form, which does not come regularly as far west
as Colorado.

171a. =American white-fronted goose.= ANSER ALBIFRONS GAMBELI. Rare
migrant; breeds far northward.

172. =Canada goose.= BRANTA CANADENSIS. Summer and winter resident;
rare, except locally; common in migration; breeds about secluded lakes
at 10,000 feet.

172a. =Hutchins's goose.= BRANTA CANADENSIS HUTCHINSII. Common migrant;
breeds in the North; a few may winter in the State.

172c. =Cackling goose.= BRANTA CANADENSIS MINIMA. One record; Pacific
coast bird; breeds in Alaska.

173. =Brant.= BRANTA BERNICLA. Rare or accidental migrant; an eastern
species seldom coming west; breeds only within the Arctic Circle.

180. =Whistling swan.= OLOR COLUMBIANUS. Migrant; not common; formerly
fairly plentiful; breeds far northward.

181. =Trumpeter swan.= OLOR BUCCINATOR. Rare migrant; not so common as
preceding; breeds from Iowa and Dakota northward.

183. =Roseate spoonbill.= AJAJA AJAJA. Accidental; two instances;
habitat, tropical and subtropical America.

184. =White ibis.= GUARA ALBA. Rare migrant; one taken on plains;
habitat, tropical and subtropical America, coming north as far as Great
Salt Lake and South Dakota.

[185.] =Scarlet ibis.= GUARA RUBRA. Accidental; one specimen taken; a
wonderful record for this tropical species.

186. =Glossy ibis.= PLEGADIS AUTUMNALIS. Accidental; two fine specimens
taken in the State; this is far out of its ordinary tropical range.

187. =White-faced glossy ibis.= PLEGADIS GUARAUNA. Summer visitor; rare;
fairly common in New Mexico and Arizona; sometimes wanders into
Colorado; Aiken found it breeding at San Luis Lakes.

188. =Wood ibis.= TANTALUS LOCULATOR. Rare summer visitor; southern

190. =American bittern.= BOTAURUS LENTIGINOSUS. Common summer resident;
breeds throughout the State, from plains to about 7,000 feet.

191. =Least bittern.= ARDETTA EXILIS. Rare summer visitor; a few records
east of mountains; one specimen seen west of the divide.

194. =Great blue heron.= ARDEA HERODIAS. Summer resident; common in
migration; seldom goes far up in the mountains, though Mr. Aiken found
one at an altitude of 9,000 feet.

196. =American egret.= ARDEA EGRETTA. Rare or accidental; one seen;
general range, the whole of the United States; in winter south to Chili
and Patagonia.

197. =Snowy heron.= ARDEA CANDIDISSIMA. Summer visitor; not known to
breed; the highest altitude is the one taken near Leadville, 10,000

198. =Reddish egret.= ARDEA RUFESCENS. Rare or accidental; only two
specimens secured; southern range.

202. =Black-crowned night heron.= NYCTICORAX NYCTICORAX NÆVIUS. Summer
resident; not common; local; more plentiful in migration.

203. =Yellow-crowned night heron.= NYCTICORAX VIOLACEUS. Rare summer
visitor; southern species; not known to breed in State.

204. =Whooping crane.= GRUS AMERICANA. Rare migrant; more common east of

205. =Little brown crane.= GRUS CANADENSIS. Migrant; few taken; northern

206. =Sandhill crane.= GRUS MEXICANA. Summer resident; not uncommon
locally; in migration common; breeds as high as 8,000 feet; has been
seen in autumn passing over the highest peaks.

212. =Virginia rail.= RALLUS VIRGINIANUS. Summer resident; not uncommon;
breeds on plains and in mountains to at least 7,500 feet.

214. =Sora.= PORZANA CAROLINA. Common summer resident; breeds from
plains to 9,000 feet.

216. =Black rail.= PORZANA JAMAICENSIS. Rare migrant; one specimen

219. =Florida gallinule.= GALLINULA GALEATA. Summer visitor, not known
to breed.

221. =American coot.= FULICA AMERICANA. Common summer resident; breeds
on plains and in mountain parks.

222. =Red phalarope.= CRYMOPHILUS FULICARIUS. Migrant; rare; once taken
at Loveland by Edw. A. Preble, July 25, 1895. Breeds far north.

223. =Northern phalarope.= PHALAROPUS LOBATUS. Migrant; not uncommon;
breeds far northward.

224. =Wilson's phalarope.= STEGANOPUS TRICOLOR. Common summer resident;
more common in migration; breeds below 6,000 feet.

225. =American avocet.= RECURVIROSTRA AMERICANA. Common summer resident;
occurs frequently on the plains; less frequent in mountains.

226. =Black-necked stilt.= HIMANTOPUS MEXICANUS. Summer resident; most
common in the mountains, going as high as 8,000 feet; more common west
of range than east.

228. =American woodcock.= PHILOHELA MINOR. Rare summer resident;
Colorado the extreme western limit of its range, going only to

230. =Wilson's snipe.= GALLINAGO DELICATA. Rare summer resident; common
migrant; winter resident, rare; found as high as 10,000 feet.

232. =Long-billed dowitcher.= MACRORHAMPHUS SCOLOPACEUS. Somewhat common
migrant; all records restricted to plains; breeds far northward.

233. =Stilt sandpiper.= MICROPALAMA HIMANTOPUS. Rare migrant; breeds
north of United States.

239. =Pectoral sandpiper.= TRINGA MACULTA. Common migrant; occurs from
the plains to the great height of 13,000 feet.

240. =White-rumped sandpiper.= TRINGA FUSCICOLLIS. Not uncommon migrant;
a bird of the plains, its western limit being the base of the Rockies;
breeds in the far North.

241. =Baird's sandpiper.= TRINGA BAIRDII. Abundant migrant; breeds far
north; returns in August and ranges over mountains sometimes at height
of 13,000 to 14,000 feet, feeding on grasshoppers.

242. =Least sandpiper.= TRINGA MINUTILLA. Common migrant; found from
plains to 7,000 feet.

243a. =Red-backed sandpiper.= TRINGA ALPINA PACIFICA. Rare migrant; only
three records; range, throughout North America.

246. =Semipalmated sandpiper.= EREUNETES PUSILLUS. Common migrant; from
the plains to 8,000 feet.

247. =Western sandpiper.= EREUNETES OCCIDENTALIS. Rare migrant; breeds
in the remote North; western species, but in migration occurs regularly
along the Atlantic coast.

248. =Sanderling.= CALIDRIS ARENARIA. Rare migrant, on plains; range
nearly cosmopolitan; breeds only in northern part of northern

249. =Marbled godwit.= LIMOSA FEDOA. Migrant; not common; a bird of the
plains, but seldom seen; occasionally found in the mountains.

254. =Greater yellow-legs.= TOTANUS MELANOLEUCUS. Common migrant; in
favorable localities below 8,000 feet.

255. =Yellow-legs.= TOTANUS FLAVIPES. Common migrant; distribution same
as preceding.

256. =Solitary sandpiper.= HELODROMAS SOLITARIUS. Summer resident; not
common; in migration, common; breeds from plains to 10,000 feet.

258a. =Western willet.= SYMPHEMIA SEMIPALMATA INORNATA. Summer resident;
not common; common migrant, especially in the fall; breeds from plains
to 7,000 feet.

261. =Bartramian sandpiper.= BARTRAMIA LONGICAUDA. Common summer
resident; abundant in migration; a bird of the plains; rare west of

263. =Spotted sandpiper.= ACTITIS MACULARIA. Abundant summer resident;
breeds on the plains and at all intermediate altitudes to 12,000 feet,
even on top of mountains of that height, if a lake or pond can be found;
in fall, ranges above timber-line to 14,000 feet; some may remain
throughout winter.

264. =Long-billed curlew.= NUMENIUS LONGIROSTRIS. Common summer
resident; breeds on the plains; also in Middle and South Parks; found
on both sides of the range.

265. =Hudsonian curlew.= NUMENIUS HUDSONICUS. Rare migrant; all records
thus far from the plains; general range, North America.

270. =Black-bellied plover.= SQUATAROLA SQUATAROLA. Migrant, not common;
bird of plains below 5,000 feet; breeds far north.

272. =American golden plover.= CHARADRIUS DOMINICUS. Migrant, not
common; same record as preceding.

273. =Killdeer.= ÆGIALITIS VOCIFERA. Abundant summer resident; arrives
early in spring; breeds most abundantly on plains and at base of
foothills, but is far from rare at an altitude of 10,000 feet.

274. =Semipalmated plover.= ÆGIALITIS SEMIPALMATA. Migrant, not common;
breeds near the Arctic Circle.

281. =Mountain plover.= ÆGIALITIS MONTANA. Common summer resident; in
spite of its name, a bird of the plains rather than the mountains; yet
sometimes found in parks at an altitude of 8,000 and even 9,000 feet.
Its numbers may be estimated from the fact that in one day of August a
sportsman shot one hundred and twenty-six birds, though why he should
indulge in such wholesale slaughter the author does not understand.

283. =Turnstone.= ARENARIA INTERPRES. Rare migrant; breeding grounds in
the north; cosmopolitan in range, but chiefly along sea-coasts.

289. =Bob-white.= COLINUS VIRGINIANUS. Resident; somewhat common
locally; good reason to believe that all the quails of the foothills are
descendants of introduced birds, while those of the eastern border of
the plains are native. A few were introduced some years ago into Estes
Park, and are still occasionally noticed.

293. =Scaled partridge.= CALLIPEPLA SQUAMATA. Resident; common locally;
southern species, but more common than the bob-white at Rocky Ford, Col.

294. =California partridge.= LOPHORTYX CALIFORNICUS. Resident, local;
introduced at Grand Junction, Col., and have flourished so abundantly as
to become troublesome to gardeners.

295. =Gambel's partridge.= LOPHORTYX GAMBELII. Resident, rare; known
only in southwestern part of the State; a western species.

297. =Dusky grouse.= DENDRAGAPUS OBSCURUS. Resident; mountain dwellers;
breed from 7,000 feet to timber-line; in September wander above
timber-line to 12,500 feet, feeding on grasshoppers; remain in thick
woods in winter.

300b. =Gray ruffed grouse.= BONASA UMBELLUS UMBELLOIDES. Rare resident;
a more northern species, but a few breed in Colorado just below
timber-line; winters in higher foothills.

304. =White-tailed ptarmigan.= LAGOPUS LEUCURUS. Common resident; one of
the most strictly alpine species; breeds entirely above timber-line from
11,500 to 13,500 feet; thence ranging to the summits of the highest
peaks. Only in severest winter weather do they come down to timber-line;
rarely to 8,000 feet. In winter they are white; in summer fulvous or
dull grayish-buff, barred and spotted with black. This bird is
colloquially called the "mountain quail." The brown-capped leucosticte
is the only other Colorado species that has so high a range.

305. =Prairie hen.= TYMPANUCHUS AMERICANUS. Resident; uncommon and

308b. =Prairie sharp-tailed grouse.= PEDIOECETES PHASIANELLUS
CAMPESTRIS. Resident, not common; once common, but killed and driven out
by pothunters; some breed in Middle Park; noted in winter at 9,500 feet.

309. =Sage grouse.= CENTROCERCUS UROPHASIANUS. Common resident. "As its
name implies, it is an inhabitant of the artemisia or sage-brush plains,
and is scarcely found elsewhere." Ranges from plains to 9,500 feet.

310. =Mexican turkey.= MELEAGRIS GALLOPAVO. Rare local resident;
southern part of the State.

310a. =Wild turkey.= MELEAGRIS GALLOPAVO FERA. Resident; rare; once
abundant, but will probably soon be exterminated; not certain whether
Colorado birds are eastern or western forms.

312. =Band-tailed pigeon.= COLUMBA FASCIATA. Summer resident; local;
breeds from 5,000 to 7,000 feet and occasionally higher.

316. =Mourning dove.= ZENAIDURA MACROURA. Summer resident; very
abundant; breeds everywhere below the pine region up to 10,000 feet,
though usually a little lower; in fall ranges up to 12,000 feet.

319. =White-winged dove.= MELOPELIA LEUCOPTERA. Four records of this
straggler in Colorado; its usual range is subtropical, though not
uncommon as far north as the southern border of the United States.

325. =Turkey vulture.= CATHARTES AURA. Common summer resident; breeds
from plains to 10,000 and even 12,000 feet.

327. =Swallow-tailed kite.= ELANOIDES FORFICATUS. Summer visitor; rare
or accidental; bird of the plains, not regularly west of central Kansas.

329. =Mississippi kite.= ICTINIA MISSISSIPPIENSIS. Accidental; two
records; a bird of eastern and southern United States, and southward.

331. =Marsh hawk.= CIRCUS HUDSONIUS. Common resident; most common in
migration; a few remain throughout winter; breeds on plains, and in
mountains to 10,000 feet; in fall may be seen at 14,000 feet.

332. =Sharp-shinned hawk.= ACCIPITER VELOX. Common resident; much more
common in mountains than on plains; breeds up to 10,000 feet.

333. COOPER'S HAWK. ACCIPITER COOPERI. Common resident; breeds from
plains to 9,000 feet.

334. =American goshawk.= ACCIPITER ATRICAPILLUS. Resident; not uncommon;
breeds from 9,000 to 10,000 feet; more common in winter than summer.

334a. =Western goshawk.= ACCIPITER ATRICAPILLUS STRIATULUS. Winter
visitor; rare, if not accidental; Pacific Coast form; comes regularly as
far east as Idaho.

337a. =Krider's hawk.= BUTEO BOREALIS KRIDERII. Resident; not uncommon;
nests on the plains; no certain record for the mountains.

337b. =Western red-tail.= BUTEO BOREALIS CALURUS. Abundant resident;
this is the Rocky Mountain form, of which Krider's hawk is the eastern
analogue; the ranges of the two forms overlap on the Colorado plains;
_calurus_ breeds from plains to 12,000 feet; not a few winter in the

337d. =Harlan's hawk.= BUTEO BOREALIS HARLANI. Rare winter visitor; one
specimen; natural habitat, Gulf States and lower Mississippi Valley.

339b. =Red-bellied hawk.= BUTEO LINEATUS ELEGANS. Rare migrant; Pacific
coast species.

342. =Swainson's hawk.= BUTEO SWAINSONI. Common resident; breeds
everywhere below 11,000 feet.

347a. =American rough-legged hawk.= ARCHIBUTEO LAGOPUS SANCTI-JOHANNIS.
Somewhat common winter resident; arrives from the north in November and
remains till March.

348. =Ferruginous rough-leg.= ARCHIBUTEO FERRUGINEUS. Rather common
resident; breeds on plains and in mountains; winters mostly on plains
and along lower streams.

349. =Golden eagle.= AQUILA CHRYSAETOS. Resident; common in favorable
localities; breeds from foothills to 12,500 feet; in winter on plains
and also in mountains, often at 11,000 feet.

352. =Bald eagle.= HALLÆETUS LEUCOCEPHALUS. Fairly common resident;
mostly in mountains in summer; on plains in winter.

355. =Prairie falcon.= FALCO MEXICANUS. Not uncommon resident; breeds
from plains to 10,000 feet; quite numerous in more open portions of
western Colorado.

356. =Duck hawk.= FALCO PEREGRINUS ANATUM. Resident; not uncommon
locally; breeds up to 10,000 feet.

357. =Pigeon hawk.= FALCO COLUMBARIUS. Summer resident; not common;
usual breeding grounds 8,000 to 9,000 feet; some breed on the plains.

358. =Richardson's merlin.= FALCO RICHARDSONII. Rare summer resident;
not uncommon in migration; naturalists not quite sure that it breeds in
the State; has been taken in summer at an altitude of 11,000 feet.

360. =American sparrow hawk.= FALCO SPARVERIUS. Abundant resident; the
most common hawk from the plains to 11,000 feet; some winter in State;
breeds throughout its range.

360a. =Desert sparrow hawk.= FALCO SPARVERIUS DESERTICOLUS. Resident,
though rare; taken in Middle and South Parks.

364. =American osprey.= PANDION HALIAËTUS CAROLINENSIS. Summer resident;
not uncommon locally; breeds as high as 9,000 feet; has been taken in
fall at an altitude of 10,500 feet.

365. =American barn owl.= STRIX PRATINCOLA. Resident; quite rare; a
southern species rarely coming so far north as Colorado.

366. =American long-eared owl.= ASIO WILSONIANUS. Common resident;
winters from plains to 10,000 feet; breeds from plains to 11,000 feet;
eggs laid early in April.

367. =Short-eared owl.= ASIO ACCIPITRINUS. Resident, but not common;
highest record 9,500 feet.

368. =Barred owl.= SYRNIUM NEBULOSUM. Resident; few records; one
breeding pair found in the northeastern part of the State.

369. =Spotted owl.= SYRNIUM OCCIDENTALE. Resident; not common; a little
doubt as to its identity; but Mr. Aiken vouches for its presence in the

371. =Richardson's owl.= NYCTALA TENGMALMI RICHARDSONI. Rare winter
visitor; a northern species.

372. =Saw-whet owl.= NYCTALA ACADICA. Resident; not uncommon; occurs
throughout the State below 8,000 feet.

373. =Screech owl.= MAGASCOPS ASIO. Rare resident; the eastern analogue
of the next.

373e. =Rocky Mountain screech owl.= MAGASCOPS ASIO MAXWELLIÆ. Common
resident; found from plains and foothills to about 6,000 feet; rare
visitant at nearly 9,000 feet.

373g. =Aiken's screech owl.= MEGASCOPS ASIO AIKENI. Resident; limited to
from 5,000 to 9,000 feet.

374. =Flammulated screech owl.= MEGASCOPS FLAMMEOLA. Rare resident;
rarest owl in Colorado, if not in the United States; ten instances of
breeding, all in Colorado; twenty-three records in all for the State.

375a. =Western horned owl.= BUBO VIRGINIANUS PALLESCENS. Common
resident; breeds on the plains and in the mountains.

375b. =Arctic horned owl.= BUBO VIRGINIANUS ARCTICUS. Winter visitor;
not uncommon; breeds in arctic America.

376. =Snowy owl.= NYCTEA NYCTEA. Rare winter visitor; occurs on the
plains and in the lower foothills; range in summer, extreme northern
portions of northern hemisphere.

378. =Burrowing owl.= SPEOTYTO CUNICULARIA HYPOGÆA. Resident; abundant
locally; breeds on plains and up to 9,000 feet.

379. =Pygmy owl.= GLAUCIDIUM GNOMA. Resident; rare; favorite home in the
mountains; breeds as high as 10,000 feet.

382. =Carolina paroquet.= CONURUS CAROLINENSIS. Formerly resident; few
records; general range, east and south; now almost exterminated.

385. =Road-runner.= GEOCOCCYX CALIFORNIANUS. Resident; not common;
restricted to southern portion of the State; breeds throughout its
range; rare above 5,000 feet, though one was found in the Wet Mountains
at an altitude of 8,000 feet.

387. =Yellow-billed cuckoo.= COCCYZUS AMERICANUS. Rare summer visitor,
on the authority of Major Bendire.

387a. =California cuckoo.= COCCYZUS AMERICANUS OCCIDENTALIS. Summer
resident; not uncommon locally; mostly found on the edge of the plains,
but occasionally up to 8,000 feet in mountains.

388. =Black-billed cuckoo.= COCCYZUS ERYTHROPHTHALMUS. Rare migrant;
only two records.

390. =Belted kingfisher.= CERYLE ALCYON. Common resident; breeds from
plains to 10,000 feet; a few remain in winter.

393e. =Rocky Mountain hairy woodpecker.= DRYOBATES VILLOSUS MONTICOLA.
Common resident; breeds from plains to 11,000 feet; winter range almost
the same.

394c. =Downy woodpecker.= DRYOBATES PUBESCENS MEDIANUS. Visitor; rare,
if not accidental.

394b. =Batchelder's woodpecker.= DRYOBATES PUBESCENS HOMORUS. Common
resident; breeding range from plains to 11,500 feet; winter range from
plains to 10,000 feet.

396. =Texan woodpecker.= DRYOBATES SCALARIS BAIRDI. Resident; rare and
local; southern range generally.

401b. =Alpine three-toed woodpecker.= PICOIDES AMERICANUS DORSALIS.
Resident; not common; a mountain bird; range, 8,000 to 12,000 feet; even
in winter remains in the pine belt at about 10,000 feet.

402. =Yellow-bellied sapsucker.= SPHYRAPICUS VARIUS. Rare migrant;
eastern form, scarcely reaching the base of the Rockies.

402a. =Red-naped sapsucker.= SPHYRAPICUS VARIUS NUCHALIS. Common summer
resident; breeds from plains to 12,000 feet, but partial to the
mountains. Author saw one at Green Lake.

404. =Williamson's sapsucker.= SPHYRAPICUS THYROIDEUS. Common summer
resident; breeds from 5,000 feet to upper limits of the pines; range
higher in the southern part of the State than in the northern.

405a. =Northern pileated woodpecker.= CEOPHLOEUS PILEATUS ABIETICOLA.
Resident; very rare; only probably identified.

406. =Red-headed woodpecker.= MELANERPES ERYTHROCEPHALUS. Common summer
resident; breeds from plains to 10,000 feet; late spring arrival; same
form in the East and West.

408. =Lewis's woodpecker.= MELANERPES TORQUATUS. Common resident;
characteristic bird of the foothills; sometimes seen as high as 10,000
feet in southern Colorado; probably does not breed above 9,000 feet.

409. =Red-bellied woodpecker.= MELANERPES CAROLINUS. Summer visitor;
rare, if not accidental; eastern and southern species, not occurring
regularly west of central Kansas.

412a. =Northern flicker.= COLAPTES AURATUS LUTEUS. Rare migrant; range
extends only to foothills; no record of its breeding.

413. =Red-shafted flicker.= COLAPTES CAFER. Abundant summer resident;
breeds from plains to 12,000 feet; almost as plentiful at its highest
range as on the plains; early spring arrival; a few winter in the State.

418. =Poor-will.= PHALÆNOPTILUS NUTTALLII. Common summer resident;
breeds from plains to 8,000 feet; has been noted up to 10,000 feet.

418a. =Frosted poor-will.= PHALÆNOPTILUS NUTTALLII NITIDUS. Rare summer
resident; few typical _nitidus_ taken; a more southern variety.

420a. =Western nighthawk.= CHORDEILES VIRGINIANUS HENRYI. Abundant
summer resident; breeds on the plains and up to about 11,000 feet; in
fall ranges up to 12,000 feet; most common on plains and in foothills.

422. =Black swift.= CYPSELOIDES NIGER BOREALIS. Summer resident;
abundant locally; southwestern part of the State; breeds from 10,000 to
12,000 feet, and ranges up to 13,000 feet.

425. =White-throated swift.= AERONAUTES MELANOLEUCUS. Summer resident;
not uncommon locally; breeds in inaccessible rocks from 6,000 to 12,000
feet, if not higher; most common in southern part of the State.

429. =Black-chinned humming-bird.= TROCHILUS ALEXANDRI. Summer resident;
local; only in southwestern part of the State, and below 6,000 feet.

432. =Broad-tailed humming-bird.= SELASPHORUS PLATYCERCUS. Common summer
resident; Colorado's most common hummer; breeds from foothills to 11,000
feet; ranges 2,000 feet above timber-line in summer.

433. =Rufous humming-bird.= SELASPHORUS RUFUS. Summer resident; local; a
western species, coming into southwestern Colorado, where it breeds from
7,000 to 10,000 feet, and ranges in summer several thousand feet higher;
a few records east of the range.

436. =Calliope humming-bird.= STELLULA CALLIOPE. Summer visitor; rare or
accidental; but two records, one near Breckenridge at an altitude of
9,500 feet; western species.

443. =Scissor-tailed flycatcher.= MILVULUS FORFICATUS. Summer visitor;
rare or accidental; but one record; southern range, and more eastern.

444. =Kingbird.= TYRANNUS TYRANNUS. Common summer resident; occurs only
on plains and in foothills up to 6,000 feet; same form as the eastern

447. =Arkansas kingbird.= TYRANNUS VERTICALIS. Common summer resident;
more common in eastern than western part of the State; fond of the
plains and foothills, yet breeds as high as 8,000 feet.

448. =Cassin's kingbird.= TYRANNUS VOCIFERANS. Common summer resident;
breeds on plains and up to 9,000 feet in mountains; occurs throughout
the State.

454. =Ash-throated flycatcher.= MYIARCHUS CINERASCENS. Rare summer
resident; western species, coming east to western edge of plains.

455a. =Olivaceous flycatcher.= MYIARCHUS LAWRENCEI OLIVASCENS. Summer
visitor, rare, if not accidental; a southern species; taken once in

456. =Phoebe.= SAYORNIS PHOEBE. Rare summer visitor; comes west to
eastern border of the State.

457. =Say's phoebe.= SAYORNIS SAYA. Common summer resident; most
common on the plains; occurs on both sides of the range; the author
found it a little above Malta, at Glenwood, and in South Park.

459. =Olive-sided flycatcher.= CONTOPUS BOREALIS. Common summer
resident; breeds only in the mountains, from 7,000 to 12,000 feet.

462. =Western wood pewee.= CONTOPUS RICHARDSONII. Common summer
resident; most common in breeding season from 7,000 to 11,000 feet.

464. =Western flycatcher.= EMPIDONAX DIFFICILIS. Common summer resident;
breeds from plains to 10,000 feet, but most common in upper part of its

466. =Traill's flycatcher.= EMPIDONAX TRAILLII. Fairly common summer
resident; most common on the plains, but occurs in mountains up to 8,000
feet; breeds throughout its Colorado range.

467. =Least flycatcher.= EMPIDONAX MINIMUS. Rare migrant; west to
eastern foothills; probably breeds, but no nests have been found.

468. =Hammond's flycatcher.= EMPIDONAX HAMMONDI. Common summer resident;
comes east only to the western edge of the plains; breeds as high as
9,000 feet.

469. =Wright's flycatcher.= EMPIDONAX WRIGHTII. Abundant summer
resident; breeds from 7,500 feet to 10,000.

474a. =Pallid horned lark.= OTOCORIS ALPESTRIS LEUCOLÆMA. Abundant
winter resident; literature on this bird somewhat confused on account,
no doubt, of its close resemblance to the next; winters on the plains
abundantly, and sparsely in the mountains.

474c. =Desert horned lark.= OTOCORIS ALPESTRIS ARENICOLA. Abundant
resident; winters on plains and in mountains up to 9,000 feet; breeds
from plains to 13,000 feet; raises two broods.

475. =American magpie.= PICA PICA HUDSONICA. Common resident; breeds
commonly on the plains and in the foothills and lower mountains; a few
breed as high as 11,000 feet.

478b. =Long-crested jay.= CYANOCITTA STELLERI DIADEMATA. Common
resident; seldom strays far east of the foothills; breeds from base of
foothills to timber-line; winter range from edge of plains almost to
10,000 feet.

480. =Woodhouse's jay.= APHELOCOMA WOODHOUSEI. Common resident; most
common along the base of foothills and lower wooded mountains; sometimes
breeds as high as 8,000 feet; in fall roams up to 9,500 in special

484a. =Rocky Mountain jay.= PERISOREUS CANADENSIS CAPITALIS. Common
resident; remains near timber-line throughout the year.

486. =American raven.= CORVUS CORAX SINUATUS. Resident; common locally;
breeds; rather of western Colorado, but visitant among eastern

487. =White-necked raven.= CORVUS CRYPTOLEUCUS. Rare resident now;
formerly abundant along eastern base of the front range and a hundred
miles out on the plains; now driven out by advent of white man.

488. =American crow.= CORVUS AMERICANUS. Resident; common in
northeastern Colorado; rare in the rest of the State.

491. =Clark's nutcracker.= NUCIFRAGA COLUMBIANA. Abundant resident; a
mountain bird; breeds from 7,000 to 12,000 feet; sometimes in fall
gathers in "enormous flocks"; at that season wanders up to at least
13,000 feet; most remain in the mountains through the winter, though a
few descend to the plains.

492. =Pinon jay.= CYANOCEPHALUS CYANOCEPHALUS. Resident; abundant
locally; breeds almost exclusively among the pinon pines; keeps in small
parties during breeding season; then gathers in large flocks; wandering
up to 10,000 feet.

494. =Bobolink.= DOLICHONYX ORYZIVORUS. Rare summer visitor.

495. =Cowbird.= MOLOTHRUS ATER. Common summer resident; breeds from
plains to about 8,000 feet; author saw several in South Park.

497. =Yellow-headed blackbird.= XANTHOCEPHALUS XANTHOCEPHALUS. Common
summer resident; breeds in suitable places on the plains and in mountain

498. =Red-winged blackbird.= AGELAIUS PHOENICEUS. Common summer
resident; breeds mostly below 7,500 feet, though occasionally ascends to

501b. =Western meadow-lark.= STURNELLA MAGNA NEGLECTA. Abundant summer

506. =Orchard oriole.= ICTERUS SPURIUS. Summer visitor; rare, if not

507. =Baltimore oriole.= ICTERUS GALBULA. Marked as a rare summer
resident, though no record of nesting.

508. =Bullock's oriole.= ICTERUS BULLOCKI. Abundant summer resident;
breeds on plains and in mountain regions below 10,000 feet.

509. =Rusty blackbird.= SCOLECOPHAGUS CAROLINUS. Migrant; rare, if not
accidental; two records.

510. =Brewer's blackbird.= SCOLECOPHAGUS CYANOCEPHALUS. Abundant summer

511b. =Bronzed grackle.= QUISCALUS QUISCULA ÆNEUS. Summer resident; not
uncommon locally; comes only to eastern base of mountains.

514a. =Western evening grosbeak.= COCCOTHRAUSTES VESPERTINUS MONTANUS.
Resident; found every month of the year; no nests found, but evidently

515a. =Rocky Mountain pine grosbeak.= PINICOLA ENUCLEATOR MONTANA.
Resident; not uncommon; most common in late summer and fall when most of
them are just below timber-line; stragglers descend to foothills and

517. =Purple finch.= CARPODACUS PURPUREUS. Migrant; rare, if not
accidental; only one specimen, and that a female.

518. =Cassin's purple finch.= CARPODACUS CASSINI. Common resident;
winters from plains to 7,000 feet; breeds from that altitude to 10,000

519. =House finch.= CARPODACUS MEXICANUS FRONTALIS. Abundant resident.

521a. =Mexican crossbill.= LOXIA CURVIROSTRA STRICKLANDI. Resident; not
uncommon; has been seen in summer at 11,000 feet; breeds in mountains,
perhaps in winter like its eastern antitype.

522. =White-winged crossbill.= LOXIA LEUCOPTERA. Rare winter visitor;
one record.

524. =Gray-crowned leucosticte.= LEUCOSTICTE TEPHROCOTIS. Rare winter
visitor; western species.

524a. =Hepburn's leucosticte.= LEUCOSTICTE TEPHROCOTIS LITTORALIS. Rare
winter visitor; summers in the North.

525. =Black leucosticte.= LEUCOSTICTE ATRATA. Rare winter visitor;
summer range unknown; winters in the Rockies.

526. =Brown-capped leucosticte.= LEUCOSTICTE AUSTRALIS. This little bird
and the white-tailed ptarmigan have the highest summer range of any
Colorado birds.

528. =Redpoll.= ACANTHIS LINARIA. Common winter resident; lives from
plains to 10,000 feet.

528b. =Greater redpoll.= ACANTHIS LINARIA ROSTRATA. Rare or accidental
winter visitor; one record.

529. =American goldfinch.= ASTRAGALINUS TRISTIS. Resident; quite common
in summer; sometimes reaches 10,000 feet.

529a. =Western goldfinch.= ASTRAGALINUS TRISTIS PALLIDUS. Migrant;
probably common; added by Mr. Aiken.

530. =Arkansas goldfinch.= ASTRAGALINUS PSALTRIA. Common summer
resident; breeds from plains to over 9,000 feet.

530a. =Arizona goldfinch.= ASTRAGALINUS PSALTRIA ARIZONÆ. Summer
resident; not common.

530b. =Mexican goldfinch.= ASTRAGALINUS PSALTRIA MEXICANUS. Rare, but
believed to be a summer resident at Trinidad.

533. =Pine siskin.= SPINUS PINUS. Common resident; breeding range from
plains to timber-line.

000. =English sparrow.= PASSER DOMESTICUS. Rapidly increasing in
numbers; has settled at points west of the range.

534. =Snowflake.= PASSERINA NIVALIS. Rare winter visitor; one record
west of the range; several east.

536a. =Alaskan longspur.= CALCARIUS LAPPONICUS ALASCENSIS. Common winter
resident; breeds far north.

538. =Chestnut-collared longspur.= CALCARIUS ORNATUS. Rare summer
resident; winter resident, not common; common in migration.

539. =McCown's longspur.= RHYNCOPHANES MCCOWNII. Common winter resident,
dwelling on the plains.

540a. =Western vesper sparrow.= POOCÆTES GRAMINEUS CONFINIS. Abundant
summer resident; breeds from plains to 12,000 feet.

542b. =Western savanna sparrow.= AMMODRAMUS SANDWICHENSIS ALAUDINUS.
Common summer resident; breeds from base of foothills to almost 12,000

545. =Baird's sparrow.= AMMODRAMUS BAIRDII. Migrant; not common; a
number taken east of the range, and one west.

546a. =Western grasshopper sparrow.= AMMODRAMUS SAVANNARUM PERPALLIDUS.
Not uncommon summer resident; breeds on plains and in lower foothills.

552a. =Western lark sparrow.= CHONDESTES GRAMMACUS STRIGATUS. Common
summer resident; breeds on plains and in mountain parks to 10,000 feet.

553. =Harris's sparrow.= ZONOTRICHIA QUERULA. Rare migrant; abundant
migrant in Kansas.

554. =White-crowned sparrow.= ZONOTRICHIA LEUCOPHRYS. Abundant summer

554a. =Intermediate sparrow.= ZONOTRICHIA LEUCOPHRYS GAMBELII. Common
migrant, both east and west of the range; breeds north of the United

557. =Golden-crowned sparrow.= ZONOTRICHIA CORONATA. Accidental winter
visitor; Pacific Coast species; breeds in Alaska.

558. =White-throated sparrow.= ZONOTRICHIA ALBICOLLIS. Rare migrant; but
three records.

559a. =Western tree sparrow.= SPIZELLA MONTICOLA OCHRACEA. Common winter
resident; mostly on plains and in lower mountains.

560. =Chipping sparrow.= SPIZELLA SOCIALIS. Rare summer resident;
common in migration; goes as far west as base of the mountains.

560a. =Western chipping sparrow.= SPIZELLA SOCIALIS ARIZONÆ. Abundant
summer resident; breeds from base of foothills to 10,000 feet.

561. =Clay-colored sparrow.= SPIZELLA PALLIDA. Summer resident; not
uncommon; scattered over State east of mountains.

562. =Brewer's sparrow.= SPIZELLA BREWERI. Summer resident; not
uncommon; breeds from plains to 8,000 feet.

566. =White-winged junco.= JUNCO AIKENI. Common winter resident; on
plains and 8,000 feet up in the mountains.

567. =Slate-colored junco.= JUNCO HYEMALIS. Winter resident; not common;
not found above 8,000 feet.

567b. =Shufeldt's junco.= JUNCO HYEMALIS CONNECTENS. Abundant winter
resident; most common in southern part of the State; not uncommon

567.1. =Montana junco.= JUNCO MONTANUS. Winter visitor; not uncommon.

568. =Pink-sided junco.= JUNCO MEARNSI. Common winter resident;
plentiful at base of foothills in winter; in spring ascend to 10,000
feet; then leaves the State for the North.

568.1. =Ridgway's junco.= JUNCO ANNECTENS. Rare winter visitor; one

569. =Gray-headed junco.= JUNCO CANICEPS. Abundant resident; breeds from
7,500 to 12,000 feet; sometimes rears three broods.

570a. =Red-backed junco.= JUNCO PHÆONOTUS DORSALIS. Rare migrant;
abundant just south of State.

573a. =Desert sparrow.= AMPHISPIZA BILINEATA DESERTICOLA. Summer
resident; not uncommon locally; found only in southwestern part of the

574a. =Sage sparrow.= AMPHISPIZA BELLI NEVADENSIS. Abundant summer
resident; common on sage-brush plains of western and southwestern
Colorado; ranges as far east as San Luis Park and north to Cheyenne,

581. =Song-sparrow.= MELOSPIZA FASCIATA. Rare migrant; found only at
eastern border of State.

581b. =Mountain song-sparrow.= MELOSPIZA FASCIATA MONTANA. Common summer
resident; a few remain on plains in mild winters; breeds from plains to
8,000 feet.

583. =Lincoln's sparrow.= MELOSPIZA LINCOLNI. Common summer resident;
abundant in migration; breeds from base of foothills to timber-line.

584. =Swamp sparrow.= MELOSPIZA GEORGIANA. Accidental summer visitor;
one record.

585c. =Slate-colored sparrow.= PASSERELLA ILIACA SCHISTACEA. Rare summer
resident; only three records.

588. =Arctic towhee.= PIPILO MACULATUS ARCTICUS. Winter resident; not
uncommon; comes to base of Rocky Mountains in winter; breeds in the
North, as far as the Saskatchewan River.

588a. =Spurred towhee.= PIPILO MACULATUS MEGALONYX. Common summer
resident; upper limit, 9,000 feet.

591. =Cañon towhee.= PIPILO FUSCUS MESOLEUCUS. Resident; common locally;
all records from Arkansas Valley; rare at an altitude of 10,000 feet.

592. =Abert's towhee.= PIPILO ABERTI. Rare summer resident; species
abundant in New Mexico and Arizona.

592.1. =Green-tailed towhee.= OREOSPIZA CHLORURA. Common summer
resident; melodious songster.

593. =Cardinal.= CARDINALIS CARDINALIS. Winter visitor; rare, if not
accidental; two records.

595. =Rose-breasted grosbeak.= ZAMELODIA LUDOVICIANA. Accidental summer
resident; one record.

596. =Black-headed grosbeak.= ZAMELODIA MELANOCEPHALA. Common summer
resident; breeds from plains to 8,500 feet; has been seen at 10,000

597a. =Western blue grosbeak.= GUIRACA CÆRULEA LAZULA. Summer resident;
not uncommon locally; southern part of State; author saw one pair at
Colorado Springs.

598. =Indigo bunting.= CYANOSPIZA CYANEA. Rare summer visitor; range,
farther east.

599. =Lazuli bunting.= CYANOSPIZA AMOENA. Abundant summer resident;
does not breed far up in the mountains, but has been taken at 9,100

604. =Dickcissel.= SPIZA AMERICANA. Rare summer resident; only on plains
and in foothills.

605. =Lark bunting.= CALAMOSPIZA MELANOCORYS. Abundant summer resident;
very plentiful on the plains; sometimes breeds as far up in mountains as
9,000 feet.

607. =Louisiana tanager.= PIRANGA LUDOVICIANA. Common summer resident;
in migration common on the plains, but breeds from 6,000 to 10,000 feet.

608. =Scarlet tanager.= PIRANGA ERYTHROMELAS. Rare migrant.

610a. =Cooper's tanager.= PIRANGA RUBRA COOPERI. Rare or accidental
summer visitor; abundant in New Mexico and Arizona; only one record for

611. =Purple martin.= PROGNE SUBIS. Summer resident; local; rare in
eastern, quite common in western part of the State.

612. =Cliff-swallow.= PETROCHELIDON LUNIFRONS. Abundant summer resident;
breeds everywhere from plains to 10,000 feet; nests on cliffs and
beneath eaves.

613. =Barn swallow.= HIRUNDO ERYTHROGASTER. Common summer resident;
breeds from plains to 10,000 feet.

614. =Tree swallow.= TACHYCINETA BICOLOR. Summer resident; not uncommon;
breeds occasionally on the plains; more frequently in mountains up to
10,000 feet.

615. =Violet-green swallow.= TACHYCINETA THALASSINA. Summer resident;
abundant locally; a few breed on plains; more commonly from 6,000 to
10,500 feet.

616. =Bank swallow.= CLIVICOLA RIPARIA. Rare summer resident; rarest
Colorado swallow; from plains to foothills.

617. =Rough-winged swallow.= STELGIDOPTERYX SERRIPENNIS. Summer
resident; not uncommon; breeds below 7,500 feet.

618. =Bohemian waxwing.= AMPELIS GARRULUS. Winter resident; not
uncommon; breeds north of the United States.

619. =Cedar waxwing.= AMPELIS CEDRORUM. Resident; not common; breeds
from plains to about 9,000 feet.

621. =Northern shrike.= LANIUS BOREALIS. Common winter resident; on its
return from the North in October it first appears above timber-line,
then descends to the plains.

622a. =White-rumped shrike.= LANIUS LUDOVICIANUS EXCUBITORIDES. Common
summer resident; breeds mostly on the plains; sometimes in mountains up
to 9,500 feet.

624. =Red-eyed vireo.= VIREO OLIVACEUS. Rare summer resident; an eastern
species, coming only to base of foothills; still, one was taken at
11,000 feet.

627. =Warbling vireo.= VIREO GILVUS. Common summer resident; breeds
sparingly on the plains; commonly in mountains up to 10,000.

629a. =Cassin's vireo.= VIREO SOLITARIUS CASSINII. Rare or accidental
summer visitor; not known to breed; a southwestern species.

629b. =Plumbeous vireo.= VIREO SOLITARIUS PLUMBEUS. Summer resident;
common; breeds in foothills and mountains up to over 9,000 feet.

636. =Black and white warbler.= MNIOTILTA VARIA. Rare summer visitor;
two records.

644. =Virginia's warbler.= HELMINTHOPHILA VIRGINIÆ. Common summer
resident; western bird, but breeds along eastern base of foothills.

646. =Orange-crowned warbler.= HELMINTHOPHILA CELATA. Summer resident;
not uncommon; common migrant; breeds from 6,000 to 9,000 feet.

646a. =Lutescent warbler.= HELMINTHOPHILA CELATA LUTESCENS. Summer
resident; not uncommon: western form of the orange-crowned warbler;
ranges to eastern base of mountains.

647. =Tennessee warbler.= HELMINTHOPHILA PEREGRINA. Rare migrant;
eastern Colorado to base of mountains.

648. =Parula warbler.= COMPSOTHLYPIS AMERICANA. Rare summer resident;
comes to base of foothills.

652. =Yellow warbler.= DENDROICA ÆSTIVA. Abundant summer resident;
breeds up to 8,000 feet.

652a. =Sonora yellow warbler.= DENDROICA ÆSTIVA SONORANA. Summer
resident; probably common; to the southwest _æstiva_ shades into

654. =Black-throated blue warbler.= DENDROICA CÆRULESCENS. Rare migrant;
one record.

655. =Myrtle warbler.= DENDROICA CORONATA. Common migrant; scarcely
known west of the range.

656. =Audubon's warbler.= DENDROICA AUDUBONI. Abundant summer resident;
breeds from 7,000 to 11,000 feet.

657. =Magnolia warbler.= DENDROICA MACULOSA. Rare migrant; breeds

658. =Cerulean warbler.= DENDROICA RARA. Rare migrant; one record.

661. =Black-poll warbler.= DENDROICA STRIATA. Rare summer resident;
sometimes common in migration; one breeding record for the State--at
Seven Lakes; altitude, 11,000 feet.

664. =Grace's warbler.= DENDROICA GRACIÆ. Summer resident; common in
extreme southwestern part of the State.

665. =Black-throated gray warbler.= DENDROICA NIGRESCENS. Summer
resident; not infrequent; breeds in pinon hills near Cañon City.

668. =Townsend's warbler.= DENDROICA TOWNSENDI. Summer resident; not
uncommon; western species, coming east to base of foothills and a few
miles out on plains; breeds from 5,500 to 8,000 feet in western
Colorado; in fall it is found as high as 10,000 feet.

672. =Palm warbler.= DENDROICA PALMARUM. Rare or accidental migrant; one
specimen seen.

674. =Oven-bird.= SEIURUS AUROCAPILLUS. Rare breeder, on Mr. Aiken's

675a. =Grinnell's water thrush.= SEIURUS NOVEBORACENSIS NOTABILIS. Rare
migrant; appearing from plains to 8,000 feet.

678. =Connecticut warbler.= GEOTHLYPIS AGILIS. Rare or accidental
migrant; one record by Mr. Aiken.

680. =Macgillivray's warbler.= GEOTHLYPIS TOLMIEI. Common summer
resident; breeds from base of foothills to 9,000 feet.

681. =Maryland yellow-throat.= GEOTHLYPIS TRICHAS. One taken at Colorado
Springs by Mr. Aiken.

681a. =Western yellow-throat.= GEOTHLYPIS TRICHAS OCCIDENTALIS. Common
summer resident, almost restricted to the plains; both sides of the

683. =Yellow-breasted chat.= ICTERIA VIRENS. Accidental summer visitor.

683a. =Long-tailed chat.= ICTERIA VIRENS LONGICAUDA. Common summer
resident; scarcely found in the mountains, but frequent in the lower
foothills and on the plains; never seen above 8,000 feet.

685. =Wilson's warbler.= WILSONIA PUSILLA. Abundant summer resident;
centre of abundance in breeding season, 11,000 feet; known to breed at
12,000 feet; also as low as 6,000.

685a. =Pileolated warbler.= WILSONIA PUSILLA PILEOLATA. Summer resident;
not uncommon; Mr. Aiken thinks it as plentiful as preceding.

686. =Canadian warbler.= WILSONIA CANADENSIS. Rare or accidental
migrant; one record by Mr. Aiken.

687. =American redstart.= SETOPHAGA RUTICILLA. Summer resident; not
uncommon in eastern, rare in western, Colorado; breeds below 8,000

697. =American pipit.= ANTHUS PENSILVANICUS. Common summer resident;
breeds only on summits of the mountains.

701. =American dipper.= CINCLUS MEXICANUS. Resident; common in favorite
localities; one seen above timber-line in October.

702. =Sage thrasher.= OROSCOPTES MONTANUS. Summer resident; breeds from
plains to nearly 10,000 feet; western species, coming east to mountain

703. =Mocking-bird.= MIMUS POLYGLOTTOS. Summer resident; common locally;
mostly on plains, but sometimes reaches 8,000 feet.

704. =Catbird.= GALEOSCOPTES CAROLINENSIS. Common summer resident; from
plains to 8,000 feet.

705. =Brown thrasher.= HARPORHYNCHUS RUFUS. Not uncommon as summer
resident; almost restricted to the plains.

708. =Bendire's thrasher.= HARPORHYNCHUS BENDIREI. Summer resident; rare
and local; south central part of State.

715. =Rock wren.= SALPINCTES OBSOLETUS. Common summer resident; breeds
from plains to 12,000 feet.

717a. =Cañon wren.= CATHERPES MEXICANUS CONSPERSUS. Rare resident; one
nest recorded.

719b. =Baird's wren.= THRYOMANES BEWICKII LEUCOGASTER. Rare summer

721b. =Western house wren.= TROGLODYTES AËDON AZTECUS. Common summer
resident; from plains to 10,000 feet; raises two broods, sometimes

722. =Winter wren.= ANORTHURA HIEMALIS. Rare resident; no nest found.

725a. =Tulé wren.= CISTOTHORUS PALUDICOLA. Summer resident; not
uncommon; breeds from plains to 8,000 feet; some remain all winter in
hot-water swamps.

725c. =Western marsh wren.= CISTOTHORUS PALUSTRIS PLESIUS. Summer
resident; not uncommon locally.

726b. =Rocky Mountain creeper.= CERTHIA FAMILIARIS MONTANA. Common
resident; in breeding season confined to the immediate vicinity of
timber-line, where some remain the year round.

727. =White-breasted nuthatch.= SITTA CAROLINENSIS. Resident; not

727a. =Slender-billed nuthatch.= SITTA CAROLINENSIS ACULEATA. Common
resident; western form; commonly breeds from 7,500 feet to timber-line.

728. =Red-breasted nuthatch.= SITTA CANADENSIS. Not uncommon resident;
migrant on the plains; resident in the mountains to about 8,000 feet,
sometimes 10,000.

730. =Pigmy nuthatch.= SITTA PYGMÆA. Abundant resident; mountain bird;
makes scarcely any migration; most common from 7,000 to 10,000 feet.

733a. =Gray titmouse.= PARUS INORNATUS GRISEUS. Resident; not common;
southern species, coming to eastern foothills.

735a. =Long-tailed chickadee.= PARUS ATRICAPILLUS SEPTENTRIONALIS. Not
uncommon resident; winters on plains and in foothills; breeds from 7,000
to 10,000 feet; sometimes on plains.

738. =Mountain chickadee.= PARUS GAMBELI. Abundant resident; nests from
8,000 feet to timber-line; ranges in the fall to the tops of the
loftiest peaks.

744. =Lead-colored bush-tit.= PSALTRIPARUS PLUMBEUS. Resident; not
common; western species, coming to eastern foothills.

748. =Golden-crowned kinglet.= REGULUS SATRAPA. Rare summer resident;
rather common in migration; breeds only near timber-line at about

749. =Ruby-crowned kinglet.= REGULUS CALENDULA. Abundant summer
resident; breeds from 9,000 feet to timber-line.

751. =Blue-gray gnatcatcher.= POLIOPTILA CÆRULEA. Rare summer resident;
breeds on the plains and in the foothills.

754. =Townsend's solitaire.= MYADESTES TOWNSENDII. Common resident;
breeds from 8,000 to 12,000 feet; winters in mountains, though
stragglers are sometimes seen on the plains. The author saw a pair on
plains near Arvada, in company with a young, well-fledged bird.

resident; rather common; breeds in foothills and parks up to about 8,000

758a. =Olive-backed thrush.= HYLOCICHLA USTULATA SWAINSONII. Rare

758c. =Alma's thrush.= HYLOCICHLA USTULATA ALAMÆ. Rare summer resident;
in migration common.

759. =Dwarf hermit thrush.= HYLOCICHLA AONALASCHKÆ. Rare migrant.

759a. =Audubon's hermit thrush.= HYLOCICHLA AONALASCHKÆ AUDUBONI. Common
summer resident; breeds from 8,000 feet to timber-line.

759b. =Hermit thrush.= HYLOCICHLA AONALASCHKÆ PALLASII. Rare migrant;
comes to the eastern edge of Colorado, just touching range of

761. =American robin.= MERULA MIGRATORIA. Summer resident, but not
common; some interesting questions arise in connection with intermediate

761a. =Western robin.= MERULA MIGRATORIA PROPINQUA. Abundant summer
resident; breeds from plains to timber-line.

765a. =Greenland wheatear.= SAXICOLA OENANTHE LEUCORHOA. European
species; a straggler taken at Boulder by Minot.

766. =Bluebird.= SIALIA SIALIS. Rare summer resident; west to base of

767a. =Chestnut-backed bluebird.= SIALIA MEXICANA BAIRDI. Summer
resident; not common; western form, coming east as far as Pueblo.

768. =Mountain bluebird.= SIALIA ARCTICA. Abundant summer resident;
breeds from plains to timber-line; in autumn roams up to at least 13,000


 Aerial song, 50, 51, 86, 87, 239, 268-270, 286, 287, 299-301.

 Aiken, Charles E., xiii, 50, 63, 67, 118, 134, 136, 157, 161.

 Arvada, 193, 194, 278, 289, 301.

 Blackbird, Brewer's, 25, 98, 125, 126, 133, 139, 140, 141, 187, 215,
     230, 259, 264, 266, 268, 271-274.
   red-winged, 98, 142, 215, 271.
   yellow-headed, 141, 142.

 Bluebird, mountain, 22, 55, 67, 99, 128, 192, 231, 237, 259.

 Bobolink, 286, 287, 289.

 Boulder, 162, 178, 184, 186, 206, 279, 282.

 Breckenridge, 259, 293, 294, 302.

 Buena Vista, 32, 38, 112, 127, 132-136, 139, 146, 162, 193, 267.

 Bunting, lark, 187, 285-292.
   lazuli (also called finch), 25, 121, 154-159, 178, 187, 290.

 Burro ride, 223-256.

 Butterflies, 177, 252, 253, 266.

 Canary, 127.

 Cañon, Arkansas River, 43, 117.
   Cheyenne, 109, 170.
   Clear Creek, 184, 187, 197.
   Eagle River, 117, 125.
   Engleman's, 40.
   Grand River, 44, 125.
   South Platte, 206, 259, 278-282, 293.

 Catbird, 31, 36, 121, 133, 189.

 Chat, yellow-breasted, 186.
   long-tailed, 186.

 Chatterers, 302.

 Cheyenne Mountain, 91.

 Chewink, 36.

 Chickadee, black-capped, 66, 67, 76, 119.
   mountain, 66, 67, 73, 76, 77, 119, 212, 231, 235, 254, 262.

 Colorado Springs, 38, 42, 50, 68, 83, 89, 90, 117, 121, 155, 157, 160,
     177, 178, 183, 187, 193, 210, 279.

 Cooke, Wells W., 24, 51, 67, 76, 134, 184, 261.

 Coot, American, 145, 146.

 Cottonwood Lake, 112, 146, 162.

 Coues, Dr. Elliott, 24, 76, 302, 303.

 Cowbird, 271.

 Coyote, 99, 100.

 Crane, 146.

 Crossbill, Mexican, 262, 263.

 Crow, 25.

 Denver, 26, 159, 177, 178, 179, 181, 183, 187, 193, 241, 263, 282, 289,

 Dickcissel, 36.

 Dipper (_see_ water-ousel), 163-174, 209, 210.

 Dove, turtle, 43, 44, 97, 122, 126, 129, 186.

 Ducks, 72, 143, 146.
   ruddy, 143-145.

 East and West, birds of, compared, 19, 21, 23-27, 31-40, 43, 44, 54,
     55, 62, 67, 69, 76, 90-95, 106, 119, 121, 125, 129-131, 133-136,
     149-159, 186, 191-193, 198, 205, 215, 266, 270, 272, 286, 287.

 Flicker, red-shafted, 25, 55, 73, 119, 126, 213, 231, 254, 262, 298.
   yellow-shafted, 25, 55.

 Flycatchers, 25, 151.
   Arkansas, 95-97, 99.
   crested, 95.
   least, 214.
   olive-sided, 73, 261.
   western, 209, 215, 218.

 Georgetown, 193, 197-219, 224, 238.

 Glenwood, 38, 40, 109, 120-125, 129, 158, 183, 271.

 Golden, 162, 184, 193, 296, 298.

 Goldfinch, American, 33, 121, 202, 203, 290.
   Arkansas, 32, 33, 121, 133, 290.

 Grackle, bronzed, 25, 140, 271, 272.
   purple, 25, 140.

 Grassfinch, eastern, 99, 129.
   western, 92, 99, 121, 129, 186, 192.

 Graymont, 183, 230, 232.

 Gray's Peak, 26, 178, 190, 193, 206, 224-256, 260, 261, 262, 270, 298.
   ascent of, 241-243.
   summit, 243-251.

 Green Lake, 208-214.

 Grosbeak, 25, 298, 299.
   black-headed, 39, 290.
   cardinal, 39, 127.
   rose-breasted, 39.
   western blue, 39, 157.

 Halfway House, 47, 74, 75, 76.

 Harrier, marsh, 99.

 Herbert, George, 59.

 Hawk, pigeon, 214.

 House-finch, 119, 127, 133, 181-183, 217.

 Humming-bird, 25.
   broad-tailed, 73, 103-109, 112-114, 200, 209, 213, 217, 230, 260.
   ruby-throated, 106.
   rufous, 113.

 Indigo-bird, 25, 154, 155, 178.

 Jack-rabbit, 99.

 Jay, blue, 24, 25, 26, 27, 149, 151, 153.
   long-crested, 25, 119, 133, 149-151, 154, 189, 230, 260, 279-281.
   mountain, 71, 119, 151-154, 205, 210, 233, 234, 261.
   Woodhouse's, 154.

 Junco, slate-colored, 75.
   gray-headed, 67, 74, 75, 119, 209, 212, 231, 235, 254, 255, 259, 261.

 Kelso, Mount, 232, 233, 238, 253, 254, 262.

 Killdeer, 205, 270.

 Kingbird, 97.

 Kingfisher, 119, 282.

 Kinglet, ruby-crowned, 64-66, 72, 119, 211, 216, 235, 254, 261.

 Lark, desert horned, 49, 84-89, 186, 264, 268-270.
   horned, 85.
   pallid horned, 86.
   prairie horned, 86.

 Leadville, 38, 126, 127, 183, 202, 271.

 Leucosticte, brown-capped, 22, 27, 59, 60, 125, 240, 241, 244, 248,
     251, 252, 254, 262.

 Lowell, James Russell, 59, 289.

 Magpie, 25, 40-43, 72, 119, 122, 133, 188, 270.

 Manitou, 31, 32, 36, 38, 47, 75, 76, 79, 140, 178.

 Martin, purple, 90.

 Meadow-lark, eastern, 26, 90-95.
   western, 22, 26, 90-95, 133, 160, 186, 187, 192, 264, 267, 290.

 Merriam, Dr. C. Hart, 113.

 Migration, 19-23, 51, 52, 63, 65, 66, 124, 277, 278.

 Mocking-bird, 98, 301, 302.

 Moraine Lake, 61, 66-73, 146.

 Muir, John, 172, 173.

 Nighthawk, eastern, 191.
   western, 24, 119, 129, 190, 191, 262.

 Nutcracker (also crow) Clark's, 25, 67, 71, 72, 119, 122.

 Nuthatch, pygmy, 119, 174, 279.
   white-breasted, 119.

 Ohio, 21, 65, 141, 215.

 Oriole, 25.
   Baltimore, 33-35.
   Bullock's 33-35, 97, 121, 192, 290.
   orchard, 34.

 Owl, burrowing, 178-180.

 Phoebe, 125.
   Say's, 125, 131, 270, 271.

 Pike's Peak, 21, 26, 31, 38, 66, 71, 73, 83, 103, 104, 110, 129, 134,
     146, 152, 159, 224, 239, 250, 252, 262, 281.
   ascent of, 47, 56-58.
   descent of, 49-56, 58-79.
   summit, 47-49, 58, 59, 60.

 Pipit, American, 27, 49-52, 125, 239, 244, 254, 262.

 Ptarmigan, white-tailed, 60, 248.

 Pueblo, 117, 183.

 Raven, 25, 53, 125.

 Red Cliff, 38, 40, 109, 117, 120, 183.

 Redstart, 184.

 Rexford, Eben E., 192.

 Ridgway, Robert, 24, 94, 136, 285, 303.

 Roberts, Charles G. D., 69.

 Robin, eastern, 32, 73, 95, 127, 205, 206.
   western, 22, 24, 31, 32, 55, 68, 70, 72, 73, 106, 121, 127, 129, 151,
     192, 199, 200, 205-207, 210, 216, 231, 253, 270, 290.

 Royal Gorge, 43, 117, 122.

 Sandpiper, spotted, 51, 73, 163, 204, 271.

 Sapsucker, red-naped, 211, 212.
   Williamson's, 75-79, 160, 161.

 Seton, Ernest Thompson, 194, 229, 272.

 Seven Lakes, 55, 61, 70, 71, 72, 104, 146.

 Shrike, white-rumped, 98.

 Silver Plume, 183, 207, 216, 224, 226.

 Siskin, pine, 128, 200, 202, 203, 210, 216, 231, 261.

 Skylark, European, 87.

 Solitaire, Townsend's, 261, 270, 290, 298-303.

 South Park, 131, 206, 250, 259, 263-278.

 Sparrow, 25.
   Brewer's, 186.
   chipping, western, 24, 130, 215, 216, 259.
   clay-colored, 128, 203.
   English, 127, 181-183.
   lark, western, 24, 192.
   Lincoln's, 70, 71, 73, 99, 106, 134, 187, 200, 278.
   mountain song, 126, 133-135, 193, 278, 290.
   savanna, western, 264, 266, 267, 274-276.
   song, 92, 126, 133-135, 193, 288.
   white-crowned, 21, 22, 52-55, 60, 61, 68, 72-74, 103, 126, 129, 200,
     204, 213, 214, 231, 238, 239, 244, 253, 255, 256, 259, 261, 281,

 Swallows, 131.
   barn, 279.
   cliff, 99, 118, 213, 263, 266.
   violet-green, 207, 208, 259, 279.

 Tabb, John B., 192.

 Tanager, 25, 151.
   Louisiana, 39, 40, 119, 279.
   scarlet, 39, 40.
   summer, 39.

 Thompson, Maurice, 35.

 Thrasher, brown, 37, 302.

 Thrush, 37, 302.
   hermit, 69.
   mountain hermit, 38, 68-70, 72, 73, 204, 210, 212, 215, 218, 219,
     231, 235, 236, 262.
   veery, 135, 136.
   willow, 135, 136, 200, 230.
   wood, 69.

 Tillie Ann, Mount, 260-262.

 Torrey's Peak, 232, 237, 239, 241, 244, 245, 250, 256.

 Towhee, 36, 37.
   green-tailed, 37-39, 62, 72, 98, 126, 130, 133, 185, 191, 200, 203,
     204, 210, 218, 259, 278, 292-295.
   spurred, 36, 37, 185, 189, 191, 200, 204, 290.

 Vireo, 151.
   warbling, 31, 73, 118, 198, 199, 209, 215, 218, 230, 262.

 Warbler, Audubon's, 62-64, 68, 70, 126, 159, 200, 204, 208, 215, 216,
     231, 235, 237, 238, 259.
   Macgillivray's, 200, 205, 209.
   mountain, 157.
   myrtle, 62, 159.
   pileolated, 63.
   summer, 31, 119, 133, 157, 158, 192, 290.
   Wilson's, 63, 64, 70, 72, 126, 200, 204, 213, 214, 231, 238, 244.

 Water-ousel (_see_ dipper), 163-174, 185, 209, 210.

 Woodpeckers, 24, 75, 160, 211, 262.
   Batchelder's, 67, 72.
   downy, 67.
   Lewis's, 160-162, 190.
   red-headed, 162.

 Wood-pewee, eastern, 32.
   western, 32, 119, 121, 132, 192, 261.

 Wren, Bewick's, 297.
   Carolina, 64, 297.
   rock, 185, 186, 189, 191, 296-298.
   western house, 73, 106, 117, 118, 217, 230, 278, 279.

 Yellow-throat, western, 193, 290.


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

   Page 140
   The illustration entitled "Brewer's Blackbirds" appears to be
   one of Yellow-headed Blackbirds.

   Page 333
   000. =English sparrow.= PASSER DOMESTICUS.
   This item falls between item 533 and 534. Unchanged from original.

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