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Title: Food Habits of the Thrushes of the United States - USDA Bulletin 280
Author: Beal, F. E. L., 1840-1917
Language: English
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              UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

                          BULLETIN No. 280

             Contribution from the Bureau of Biological Survey

                       HENRY W. HENSHAW, Chief

  -----------------------------------------------------------------
  Washington, D. C.      PROFESSIONAL PAPER      September 27, 1915
  -----------------------------------------------------------------


                       FOOD HABITS OF THE THRUSHES
                         OF THE UNITED STATES

            By F. E. L. Beal, _Assistant Biologist_.



  CONTENTS.



                                                                Page.

  Introduction                                                      1

  Townsend's solitaire                                              3

  Wood thrush                                                       5

  Veery and willow thrush                                           9

  Gray-cheeked and Bicknell's thrushes                             11

  Olive-backed and russet-backed thrushes                          13

  Hermit thrushes                                                  18


                        [Illustration: logo]


                              WASHINGTON
                    GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
                                 1915



                    UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

[Illustration: shield]    BULLETIN No. 280     [Illustration: shield]

         Contribution from the Bureau of Biological Survey

                       HENRY W. HENSHAW, Chief

  ------------------------------------------------------------------
  Washington, D. C.      PROFESSIONAL PAPER      September 27, 1915
  ------------------------------------------------------------------



                  FOOD HABITS OF THE THRUSHES OF THE
                             UNITED STATES.

                By F. E. L. Beal, _Assistant Biologist_.



INTRODUCTION.

North American thrushes (Turdidæ) constitute a small but interesting
group of birds, most of which are of retiring habits but noted as
songsters. They consist of the birds commonly known as thrushes,
robins, bluebirds, Townsend's solitaire, and the wheatears. The
red-winged thrush of Europe (_Turdus musicus_) is accidental in
Greenland, and the wheatears (_Saxicola œnanthe_ subspp.) are rarely
found in the Western Hemisphere except in Arctic America. Within the
limits of the United States are 11 species of thrushes, of which the
following 6 are discussed in this bulletin: Townsend's solitaire
(_Myadestes townsendi_), the wood thrush (_Hylocichla mustelina_), the
veery and willow thrush (_Hylocichla fuscescens_ subspp.), the
gray-cheeked and Bicknell's thrushes (_Hylocichla aliciæ_ subspp.),
the olive-backed and russet-backed thrushes (_Hylocichla ustulata_
subspp.), and the hermit thrushes (_Hylocichla guttata_ subspp.). An
account of the food habits of the 5 species of robins and bluebirds
appeared in Department Bulletin No. 171.

As a group thrushes are plainly colored and seem to be especially
adapted to thickly settled rural districts, as the shyest of them, with
the exception of the solitaire, do not require any greater seclusion
than that afforded by an acre or two of woodland or swamp.

The thrushes are largely insectivorous, and also are fond of spiders,
myriapods, sowbugs, snails, and angleworms. The vegetable portion of
their diet consists mostly of berries and other small fruits. As a
family thrushes can not be called clean feeders, for the food eaten
often contains a considerable proportion of such matter as dead
leaves, stems, and other parts of more or less decayed vegetation. It
might be supposed that this was gathered from the ground with insects
and other food, but investigation shows that much of it has a
different origin. It was noticed that the setæ or spines of earthworms
were a very common accompaniment of this decayed vegetation.
Earthworms themselves are rather rarely found in stomachs, although
some birds, as the robin, eat them freely. It is well known that the
food of earthworms consists largely of partially decayed vegetable
matter found in the soil. Hence it is probable that decayed vegetation
found in the stomachs of thrushes is the food contained in the
earthworms when they were swallowed. The tissues of worms are quickly
digested, leaving the contents of their alimentary canals mixed with
the hard indigestible setæ or spines.

Thrushes of the genus _Hylocichla_ show a very pronounced taste for
ants, and the average consumption of these insects by the five species
is 12.65 per cent. Few birds other than woodpeckers show so strong a
liking for this highly flavored food. Hymenoptera in general,
including ants, bees, and wasps, are the second largest item of insect
food. Lepidoptera (caterpillars) stand next as an article of thrush
diet, while Orthoptera (grasshoppers), which are a favorite food with
most birds, do not seem to appeal much to the thrushes.

The thrushes are pronounced ground feeders, and may often be seen
picking small fruit that has fallen to the ground. The vegetable
portion of their food (40.72 per cent) is largely composed of fruit,
which constitutes over 34 per cent of the total food. Of this 30.88
per cent is made up of wild berries, which outweigh the domestic
varieties with every species. In all, 94 species of wild fruits or
berries were identified in the stomachs of these birds, although it is
not always practicable to identify such material unless seeds or some
other characteristic parts are present. As this is not often the case,
a considerable portion of the stomach contents must be pronounced
"fruit pulp" without further identification; thus probably many more
species are eaten than are recorded. Moreover, in the case of some
fruits, it is not possible to distinguish species by the seeds, so
that many species go unrecognized except as to genus. Domestic fruits
are eaten so sparingly by the thrushes here considered as to be of no
economic importance.

  Note.--This bulletin treats of the economic relations
      and value to agriculture of the thrushes of the United States
      other than robins and bluebirds. These two forms were discussed
      in  Department Bulletin No. 171, issued February 5, 1915.



TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE

(_Myadestes townsendi._)


Townsend's solitaire, a bird of the far West, is a resident of high
mountains and lonely gorges. It is partial to running streams and
often builds its nest just above a rushing mountain torrent. It ranges
from Alaska through the Sierras south to San Bernardino, Cal., and
through the Rockies to Arizona and New Mexico, and occasionally
farther east. The species is not evenly distributed over this region,
but is restricted to such high mountainous portions as afford its
favorite surroundings. As long as it retains these habits the bird
will have little or no effect upon the products of husbandry, and its
food can have only a scientific interest. The song of this species is
said to be at times the finest of any of the thrush family.

As this bird is comparatively rare in settled regions only 41 stomachs
are available for determining the character of its food. The most
southerly and easterly one was taken in Texas, the most westerly in
California, and the most northerly in Wyoming. They are distributed
through all the months of the year, although April and May are
represented by but one each and December by but two. Every other month
has three or more. An investigation based upon such limited material
can be considered only as preliminary, but will serve to show some of
the more important elements of the food. This was made up of 35.90 per
cent of animal matter to 64.10 of vegetable.

_Animal food._--The animal food consists of insects and spiders, with
a few hair worms (_Gordius_) found in one stomach. These last may have
been contained in the insects eaten. Among insects, beetles constitute
the second largest item (10.74 per cent), but 5.89 per cent of these
were the useful predatory ground beetles (Carabidæ). This is not a
good showing, but too few stomachs have been examined to allow
sweeping conclusions. As evidence that this can not be taken as a fair
sample of the bird's food habits it may be stated that all of these
beetles were taken in January and October. The one stomach collected
in January contained 95 per cent of Carabidæ--the only animal food in
it--and 93 per cent of the contents of one October stomach was made up
of the same material. Evidently in these cases the bird had found a
colony of the beetles and filled up with them. Had they constituted
the usual diet of the species they would have appeared in other months
and in more stomachs, but in smaller quantities. Other families of
beetles are eaten so sparingly as to be of little importance.
Scarabæidæ stand the next highest, but they amount to less than 2 per
cent of the food.

Lepidoptera (caterpillars) make the largest item in the food of
_Myadestes_. Eaten much more regularly than beetles, they probably are
a standard article of diet. They were found in the stomachs collected
in every month of the year but four, and a greater number of stomachs
would probably show them in every month. The one stomach taken in May
contained the maximum (72 per cent). The total for the year is 12.95
per cent. Ants are eaten to the extent of 4.71 per cent, while other
Hymenoptera, as bees and wasps, make up less than half of 1 per cent.
Diptera (flies) are represented by a mere trace in the stomachs.
Observers who have seen this bird in its native haunts testify that it
takes a considerable portion of its food on the wing. In view of this
fact it seems curious that the two orders of insects most active on
the wing (Hymenoptera and Diptera) should be so scantily represented
in the food. Hymenoptera are a standard diet with flycatchers and
would seem to be the natural food of any bird that feeds upon the
wing.

Hemiptera (bugs) were found to the extent of 3.51 per cent of the
total food. All were contained in three stomachs taken in March, June,
and July. In the July stomach four cicadas, or dog-day flies,
constituted the whole contents. Grasshoppers amount to less than 1 per
cent and all other insects to but a trifle. Spiders were eaten to the
extent of 2.94 per cent of the food and were found in the stomachs
taken in seven of the twelve months, and judging from their
distribution they are eaten whenever available. A hair snake
(_Gordius_) was found in one stomach. Following is a list of insects
identified and the number of stomachs in which found:


  COLEOPTERA.

  _Amara erratica_            1
  _Aphodius_ sp               1
  _Balaninus_ sp              1

  HEMIPTERA.

  _Platypedia putnami_        1


_Vegetable food._--The vegetable portion of the food of _Myadestes_ is
64.10 per cent of the whole, and 58.70 per cent of this, or more than
half the whole food, is classified as wild fruit or berries. These
were found in stomachs collected in every month. From the even
distribution of this food through the year and from the quantity eaten
it is evidently a favorite article of diet. Nothing was found in any
of the stomachs that could be identified as cultivated fruit, with the
possible exception of a mass of fruit pulp found in one. A few seeds
of poison ivy and sumac, with fragments of flowers and a few weed
seeds, complete the vegetable food. Following is a list of fruits,
seeds, etc., identified, and the number of stomachs in which found:


  Rocky Mountain cedar (_Juniperus scopulorum_)    3
  Western cedar (_Juniperus monospermum_)          1
  Other cedars (_Juniperus_ sp.)                   2
  Hackberries (_Celtis occidentalis_)              1
  Douglas hackberries (_Celtis douglasii_)         1
  Service berries (_Amelanchier_ sp.)              1
  Rose haws (_Rosa_ sp.)                           2
  Wild cherries (_Prunus_ sp.)                     1
  Sumac berries (_Rhus_ sp.)                       1
  Poison ivy (_Rhus toxicodendron_)                1
  Waxwork (_Celastrus_ sp.)                        1
  Madrona berries (_Arbutus menziesii_)            5
  Honeysuckle berries (_Lonicera_ sp.)             1
  Elderberries (_Sambucus_ sp.)                    1
  Fruit not further identified                     3


_Summary._--With so small an amount of material it is not safe to draw
general conclusions, but in the case of _Myadestes_ one point seems
clear--the bird's favorite food is small wild fruit, and as long as
this is abundant the bird will probably not attack cultivated
varieties; but should any portion of the region occupied by the
solitaire be cleared of its wild fruit and cultivated species be
introduced these would likely be preyed upon. Under such conditions
this bird, now perfectly harmless, might inflict considerable damage.



WOOD THRUSH.

(_Hylocichla mustelina._)


The wood thrush is distributed over the eastern part of the United
States wherever suitable conditions are found. It is a lover of open
groves and bushy pastures, and may be found along little-traveled
roads and near low bushy swamps. The bird is noted for its sweet song,
and many country people who are well acquainted with its notes know
little or nothing of the bird itself. Its favorite time for singing is
in the early evening at the close of a sultry afternoon when a shower
has cooled the air. As a rule, it does not nest in gardens or orchards
and is seldom seen about farm buildings. It is strictly migratory, and
the greater number pass out of the United States in winter, though a
few remain in the Southern States. It usually migrates north in April
or early May.

For the investigation of the food habits of the wood thrush 171
stomachs were available. One of these was collected in Florida in
January and another in Alabama in February, and these two will be
treated separately. The remaining 169 were collected from April to
October, and are fairly well distributed over that time. The food
consisted of 59.59 per cent of animal matter to 40.41 per cent of
vegetable. The greatest quantity of animal food was eaten in April,
the month of arrival from the south, and the least in October, the
month of the return migration.

_Animal food._--Beetles, collectively (20.40 per cent), constitute the
largest item of animal food. Of these, 2.23 per cent are the
predacious ground beetles (Carabidæ), generally considered useful. The
remainder belong to several more or less harmful families, of which
the May-beetle family (Scarabæidæ) amount to 10.17 per cent. Snout
beetles, or weevils (Rhynchophora), are eaten to the extent of 2.16
per cent only, and the wood-boring chick-beetles (Elateridæ) to 2.13
per cent.

Among the various species of these insects were noted the remains of
the well-known Colorado potato beetle (_Leptinotarsa decemlineata_),
in two stomachs, and _Coptocycla signifera_, also injurious to the
potato, in one stomach. Remains of _Otiorhynchus ovatus_, a weevil
destructive to strawberry plants, were found in two stomachs, and in
one other a weevil, _Sphenophorus parvulus_, that injures the roots of
grass. The well-known white grubs that attack grass roots and a host
of other plants are the immature forms of many species of
_Lachnosterna_, of several species of _Euphoria_ and of _Allorhina
nitida_. Of these, remains of _Lachnosterna_ were found in 27 stomachs
and of _Allorhina_ and _Euphoria_ in one each.


  [Illustration:
                                      B2084-73

  Fig. 1.--Wood thrush (_Hylocichla mustelina_).]


Lepidoptera (caterpillars) stand next to Coleoptera (beetles) in the
animal diet of the wood thrush. Although eaten with a fair degree of
regularity during every month of the bird's stay in the north, the
most were taken in July (16.32 per cent). The average for the season
is 9.42 per cent. Ants as an item of food are third in importance,
though if other Hymenoptera were included the order would rank next to
beetles. They seem to be a rather favorite food with all birds of the
genus _Hylocichla_. With the wood thrush they begin with 18.12 per
cent in April and gradually decrease through the summer and disappear
in October. The total for the season is 8.89 per cent. Hymenoptera
other than ants were eaten with great regularity (3.86 per cent)
throughout the season, but not in large quantities. Diptera (flies)
are eaten in small quantities and rather irregularly. Most of them
were the long-legged crane flies (Tipulidæ), both in the adult and
larval form. The total for the season is 2.70 per cent. Hemiptera
(bugs) do not appear to be a favorite food, though a few were taken in
all of the seven months except October. The average for the season is
only 1.33 per cent. Orthoptera (grasshoppers) are eaten in small
quantities until July, after which they form a fair percentage till
September. The total consumption amounts to 2.28 per cent of the food.
A few other insects make up a fraction of 1 per cent. Spiders and
myriapods (thousand-legs) appear to be a favorite food with the wood
thrush, constituting in April 20.94 per cent of the food, but
gradually decreasing in quantity until September. The aggregate for
the year is 8.49 per cent. A few sowbugs (isopods), snails, and
earthworms (1.83 per cent) close the account of animal food.

Following is a list of the insects identified in the stomachs of the
wood thrush and the number of stomachs in which each was found:


  HYMENOPTERA.

  _Tiphia inornata_                 1

  COLEOPTERA.

  _Harpalus herbivagus_             1
  _Necrophorus tomentosus_          1
  _Philonthus lomatus_              1
  _Hister abbreviatus_              1
  _Hister depurator_                1
  _Hister americanus_               2
  _Ips quadriguttatus_              1
  _Melanotus americanus_            1
  _Corymbites cylindriformis_       1
  _Agrilus bilineatus_              1
  _Telephorus carolinus_            1
  _Onthophagus striatulus_          1
  _Onthophagus tuberculifrons_      1
  _Onthophagus_ sp                  3
  _Atænius_ sp                      2
  _Aphodius granarius_              1
  _Aphodius_ sp                     1
  _Dichelonycha testacea_           1
  _Dichelonycha_ sp                 1
  _Lachnosterna_ sp                27
  _Ligyrus_ sp                      1
  _Allorhina nitida_                1
  _Euphoria fulgida_                1
  _Euphoria_ sp                     2
  _Chrysomela pulchra_              1
  _Leptinotarsa decemlineata_       2
  _Odontota_ sp                     1
  _Coptocycla signifera_            1
  _Coptocycla_ sp                   1
  _Anametus griseus_                1
  _Phyxelis rigidus_                1
  _Otiorhynchus ovatus_             2
  _Tanymecus confertus_             1
  _Pandeletejus hilaris_            1
  _Barypithes pellucidus_           1
  _Listronotus latiusculus_         1
  _Macrops_ sp                      1
  _Conotrachelus posticatus_        2
  _Acalles carinatus_               1
  _Balaninus_ sp                    2
  _Eupsalis minuta_                 1
  _Sphenophorus parvulus_           1

  HEMIPTERA.

  _Nezara hilaris_                  2

  ORTHOPTERA.

  _Diapheromera femorata_           1

  ISOPTERA.

  _Termes flavipes_                 1


_Vegetable food._--More than nine-tenths of the vegetable food of the
wood thrush can be included in a single item--fruit. Cultivated fruit,
or what was thought to be such, was found in stomachs taken from June
to September, inclusive. It was eaten regularly and moderately, and
the total for the season was 3.74 per cent of the whole food. Wild
fruits or berries of 22 species were found in 72 stomachs, distributed
through every month of the bird's stay at the north. Beginning with
1.18 per cent in April, the quantity gradually increases to 87.17 per
cent in October, when it makes more than five-sixths of the whole
food. The average for the season is 33.51 per cent. In this
investigation _Rubus_ seeds (blackberries or raspberries) are always
reckoned as cultivated fruit, though probably most often wild. Besides
fruit, a few seeds and rose haws were found, which with a little
rubbish complete the vegetable food (40.41 per cent).

Following is a list of fruits, seeds, etc., identified and the number
of stomachs in which found:


  Yew berries (_Taxus minor_)                   1
  False Solomon's seal (_Smilacina racemosa_)   1
  Bayberries (_Myrica carolinensis_)            1
  Mulberries (_Morus_ sp.)                     10
  Spiceberries (_Benzoin æstivale_)             5
  Currants (_Ribes_ sp.)                        1
  Mountain ash (_Pyrus americanus_)             2
  Service berries (_Amelanchier canadensis_)    2
  Blackberries or raspberries (_Rubus_ sp.)    17
  Rose haws (_Rosa_ sp.)                        1
  Wild black cherries (_Prunus serotina_)       1
  Chokecherries (_Prunus virginiana_)           7
  Domestic cherries (_Prunus cerasus_)          4
  Croton (_Croton_ sp.)                         1
  American holly (_Ilex opaca_)                 2
  Woodbine berries (_Psedera quinquefolia_)     1
  Frost grapes (_Vitis cordifolia_)             4
  Wild sarsaparilla (_Aralia nudicaulis_)       1
  Flowering dogwood (_Cornus florida_)          3
  Rough-leaved cornel (_Cornus asperifolia_)    4
  Dogwood (_Cornus_ sp.)                        1
  Black gum (_Nyssa sylvatica_)                 1
  Huckleberries (_Gaylussacia_ sp.)             1
  Blueberries (_Vaccinium_ sp.)                 6
  French mulberry (_Callicarpa americana_)      1
  Black elderberries (_Sambucus canadensis_)    1
  Other elderberries (_Sambucus_ sp.)           3
  Fruit pulp not further identified            12


Of the two stomachs not included in the foregoing discussion, the one
taken in Florida in January contained 93 per cent of wild fruit and 7
per cent of weevils, wasps, and spiders; the one collected in Alabama
in February was entirely filled with animal food, of which 88 per cent
was caterpillars, 5 per cent May beetles, 6 per cent bugs, and 1 per
cent spiders.

_Summary._--The animal food of the wood thrush includes remarkably few
useful insects and contains some very harmful ones, as the Colorado
potato beetle and many of the Scarabæidæ, the larval forms of which
are the well-known white grubs which are a pest to agriculture in
preying upon roots of plants. The vegetable portion of the food
contains a small quantity of cultivated fruit, but observation shows
that the thrush is in the habit of picking up fallen fruit instead of
taking it fresh from the tree. The eating of wild fruit has no
economic interest except that it serves to distribute the seeds of
many shrubs and trees. There is no occasion to discriminate against
this bird in any way. It should be rigidly protected.



VEERY AND WILLOW THRUSH.

(_Hylocichla fuscescens fuscescens_ and _Hylocichla fuscescens
salicicola_.)


The veery is distributed over the eastern portion of the United
States during migration and breeds in the Northern States as far
south as Pennsylvania, and in New England and Canada. In winter
it disappears almost entirely from the country, only a few remaining
in Florida and perhaps in other Southern States. Its
western representative is the willow thrush. Like other thrushes,
birds of this species are shy and retiring in disposition, keeping for
the most part in the shade of woods or bushy swamps, or building
nests in a damp ravine with a brook gurgling past. They have been
known, however, to visit orchards and sometimes gardens which are
not kept too trim. It is thus evident that the food has little direct
economic interest, as this bird does not come in contact with the
farmer's crops.

For investigating the food of the species 176 stomachs were available.
They were collected during the seven months from April to
October, and represent 18 States, the District of Columbia, and
Canada. The food separates into 57.27 per cent of animal matter
and 42.73 per cent of vegetable. The former consists mostly of
remains of insects, and the latter of fruit.

_Animal food._--Predacious ground beetles (Carabidæ) amount to
0.82 per cent. They are evidently not a preferred food. Beetles in
general comprise 14.67 per cent of the food, but no family or other
group appears to be distinguished except the Carabidæ, which are
conspicuous by their absence. Weevils, or snout beetles, amount
to 2.49 per cent, and one stomach contained a specimen of the notorious
plum curculio (_Conotrachelus nenuphar_). A number of other
harmful beetles were noted, but none are so well known as the plum
destroyer. Ants make up 10.35 per cent and are eaten with great
regularity. Hymenoptera other than ants amount to only 3.26 per
cent, but are eaten regularly throughout the season. Hemiptera
(bugs) were eaten to a small extent (1.30 per cent) in the first four
months, but they are not seen after July. Exactly the same may be
said of Diptera, which total only 0.85 per cent.

Lepidoptera (caterpillars) are, next to Hymenoptera, the favorite
insect food. They were eaten in goodly quantities in every month
except October. The average for the season is 11.91 per cent.
Grasshoppers appear to some extent in every month except April, the
greatest consumption taking place in October (24 per cent), but as
only small numbers are eaten in the earlier months the aggregate for
the year is only 4.91 per cent. A few other insects of various orders
amount to 0.98 per cent. Spiders (6.34 per cent) are eaten regularly
and constantly through the season, except that none were taken in
October. A few sowbugs, snails, etc. (2.70 per cent), complete the
quota of animal food. Following is a list of insects identified and
the number of stomachs in which found:


  HYMENOPTERA.

  _Tiphia inornata_                 1

  COLEOPTERA

  _Elaphrus ruscarius_              1
  _Anisodactylus harrisi_           1
  _Anisodactylus_ sp                1
  _Pterostichus lucublandus_        1
  _Hydrobius fuscipes_              1
  _Ips fasciata_                    1
  _Byrrhus murinus_                 1
  _Dolopius lateralis_              2
  _Limonius æger_                   1
  _Corymbites cylindriformis_       1
  _Corymbites spinosus_             1
  _Corymbites tarsalis_             1
  _Corymbites hieroglyphicus_       1
  _Podabrus flavicollis_            1
  _Telephorus bilineatus_           2
  _Telephorus_ sp                   1
  _Onthophagus_ sp                  2
  _Atænius cognatus_                1
  _Aphodius_ sp                     3
  _Dichelonycha_ sp                 2
  _Serica sericea_                  1
  _Lachnosterna hirticula_          1
  _Lachnosterna_ sp                13
  _Chrysomela pulchra_              3
  _Chlamys plicata_                 1
  _Typophorus canellus_             1
  _Graphops simplex_                1
  _Graphops_ sp                     1
  _Calligrapha philadelphica_       1
  _Œdionychis quercata_             1
  _Microrhopala vittata_            1
  _Hormorus undulatus_              1
  _Phyxelis rigidus_                1
  _Otiorhynchus ovatus_             1
  _Neoptochus adspersus_            1
  _Cercopeus chrysorrhœus_          2
  _Barypithes pellucidus_           2
  _Sitones_ sp                      2
  _Phytonomus nigrirostris_         2
  _Conotrachelus nenuphar_          1
  _Conotrachelus posticatus_        1
  _Tyloderma_ sp                    1
  _Monarthrum mali_                 1
  _Xyloteres politus_               1

  DIPTERA.

  _Bibio_ sp                        1


_Vegetable food._--The vegetable portion of the food of the species is
made up of fruit, with a few seeds and a little miscellaneous matter
more or less accidental. Fruit collectively amounts to 35.30 per cent,
of which 12.14 per cent was thought to be of cultivated varieties and
so recorded, while the remainder, 23.16 per cent, was quite certainly
of wild species. This percentage of cultivated fruit is more than
three times the record of the wood thrush, while the wild fruit eaten
is correspondingly less, as the sum total of the fruit consumed is
very nearly the same with both birds. From this percentage of domestic
fruit one might infer that the veery was, or might be, a serious
menace to fruit growing, but no such complaints have been heard, and
it is probable that the species is not numerous enough to damage
cultivated crops. A close inspection, however, of the fruit eating of
the veery removes all doubts. The cultivated fruit, so called, was in
every case either strawberries or _Rubus_ fruits, i. e., blackberries
or raspberries, and as both of these grow wild and in abundance
wherever the veery spends its summer, it is probable that all of the
fruit eaten was taken from wild plants, though 12.14 per cent has been
conventionally recorded as cultivated.

Besides fruit, the veery eats a few seeds of grasses and weeds and a
few of sumac, but none of the poisonous species were found in the
stomachs. These seeds (7.25 per cent of the food) were eaten so
irregularly as to suggest that they are merely a makeshift taken for
want of something better. Rubbish (0.18 per cent), consisting of
decayed wood, bits of leaves, plant stems, etc., completes the
vegetable food.

Following is a list of the items of vegetable food and the number of
stomachs in which found:


  Yew berries (_Taxus minor_)                        1
  Pigeon grass seed (_Chætochloa_ sp.)               1
  Rush grass seed (_Sporobolus minor_)               1
  False Solomon's seal (_Smilacina_ sp.)             1
  Greenbrier berries (_Smilax_ sp.)                  2
  Hackberries (_Celtis occidentalis_)                1
  Poke berries (_Phytolacca decandra_)               3
  Spice berries (_Benzoin æstivale_)                 2
  Service berries (_Amelanchier canadensis_)         3
  June berries (_Amelanchier_ sp.)                   9
  Mountain ash (_Pyrus americana_)                   1
  Crab apples (_Pyrus_ sp.)                          1
  Strawberries (_Fragaria_ sp.)                      3
  Blackberries or raspberries (_Rubus_ sp.)          8
  Wild black cherries (_Prunus serotina_)            1
  Bird cherries (_Prunus pennsylvanica_)             1
  Chokecherries (_Prunus virginiana_)                1
  Staghorn sumac (_Rhus hirta_)                      2
  Dwarf sumac (_Rhus copallina_)                     1
  Three-leaved sumac (_Rhus trilobata_)              1
  Other sumac (_Rhus_ sp.)                           1
  American holly (_Ilex opaca_)                      1
  Woodbine berries (_Psedera quinquefolia_)          1
  White cornel (_Cornus candidissima_)               2
  Alternate-leaved cornel (_Cornus alternifolia_)    3
  Rough-leaved cornel (_Cornus asperifolia_)         1
  Dogwood berries (_Cornus_ sp.)                     2
  Sour gum berries (_Nyssa sylvatica_)               1
  Huckleberries (_Gaylussacia_ sp.)                  1
  Blueberries (_Vaccinium_ sp.)                      4
  Snowberries (_Symphoricarpos racemosus_)           2
  Black elderberries (_Sambucus canadensis_)         2
  Red elderberries (_Sambucus pubens_)               4
  Other elderberries (_Sambucus_ sp.)                3
  Fruit pulp not further identified                  4


_Summary._--It is hardly necessary to make a summary of the
food of this bird in order to bring out its good points, for it seems
to have no others. The animal food includes less than 1 per cent of
useful beetles, and the remainder is either harmful or neutral.
In the matter of vegetable food there seems to be no chance for
criticism, as nature evidently supplies all it needs. The bird has
never been harmed, but has been held in high esteem for sentimental
reasons; let it also be valued and protected for its economic worth.



GRAY-CHEEKED AND BICKNELL'S THRUSHES.

(_Hylocichla aliciæ aliciæ_ and _Hylocichla aliciæ bicknelli_.)


The gray-cheeked thrush (_H. a. aliciæ_) is found in migration over
all the Eastern States, but breeds farther north, beyond our limits.
Bicknell's thrush (_H. a. bicknelli_), a closely related form, while
having somewhat the same general range, breeds farther south and nests
in the mountains of northern New York and New England. Both subspecies
have the same general habits as other forms of the genus so far as
haunts and choice of residence are concerned, but their far-northern
range excludes them from coming into contact with cultivated crops.
The species does not seem to be very abundant anywhere, and
consequently only a few stomachs have been received for examination.
In all they number but 111 and are very irregularly distributed in
time. None were taken in August and only one in July and two in June.
From so scanty and unevenly distributed material it is impossible to
draw final conclusions, but we can get some idea as to the nature of
the bird's food and its economic importance.

The first analysis of the food gives 74.86 per cent of animal matter
to 25.14 per cent of vegetable. This is the most animal food found in
the stomachs of any bird of the genus _Hylocichla_ and the largest but
two of any of the thrushes.

_Animal food._--Beetles collectively amount to about one-third of all
the food (33.32 per cent). Of these, 2.83 per cent are the useful
Carabidæ. The rest belong to harmful families, such as the Scarabæidæ,
Elateridæ, and the weevils, or snout beetles. Ants amount to 16.34 per
cent and are eaten very regularly--the most in the early part of the
season. Hymenoptera other than ants, as wasps and bees, were eaten to
the extent of 5.60 per cent, and with the ants make 21.94 per cent,
placing this food next in rank to beetles. As in the case of ants,
most of the bees and wasps were eaten in the first three months of the
season. No honey bees were found. Lepidoptera (caterpillars) were
third in order of abundance (8.81 per cent). No special pest was
discovered, but all caterpillars may be considered as harmful. A few
grasshoppers were found in the stomachs taken in April and May, and
more in those collected in September and October. They do not appear
to be a favorite food and amount to only 1.72 per cent. Other insects,
as flies, bugs, and a few others, collectively amount to 2.89 per
cent. Among these, it is of interest to note in one stomach the
remains of the famous seventeen-year locust (_Tibicen septemdecem_),
rather large game for so small a bird. Spiders are freely eaten by the
gray-cheeked thrush in spring, and sparingly in fall. For the season
they constitute 5.77 per cent of the food. A few other animals, as
crawfish, sowbugs, and angleworms (0.41 per cent), complete the animal
food.

Following is a list of the insects identified and the number of
stomachs in which found:


  HYMENOPTERA.

  _Lophyrus_ sp                     1
  _Aphænogaster tennesseense_       1

  COLEOPTERA.

  _Cychrus andrewsi_                2
  _Cychrus_ sp                      2
  _Dyschirius hispidus_             1
  _Hister sedecimstriatus_          1
  _Phelister vernus_                1
  _Epuræa rufa_                     3
  _Stelidota 8-maculata_            1
  _Byrrhus murinus_                 1
  _Eucinetus morio_                 1
  _Monocrepidius vespertinus_       1
  _Agriotes limosus_                1
  _Corymbites signaticollis_        1
  _Podabrus flavicollis_            1
  _Telephorus bilineatus_           1
  _Onthophagus_ sp                  1
  _Atænius strigatus_               1
  _Atænius ovatulus_                1
  _Atænius_ sp                      3
  _Aphodius ruricola_               1
  _Aphodius inquinatus_             3
  _Aphodius_ sp                     1
  _Serica_ sp                       1
  _Lachnosterna_ sp                10
  _Anomala_ sp                      1
  _Leptura sphæricollis_            1
  _Leptura mutabilis_               1
  _Chrysomela pulchra_              4
  _Blapstinus metallicus_           1
  _Helops micans_                   1
  _Hormorus undulatus_              1
  _Otiorhynchus ovatus_             1
  _Cercopeus chrysorrhœus_          2
  _Pandeletejus hilaris_            1
  _Sitones_ sp                      1
  _Hylobius pales_                  1
  _Desmoris constrictus_            1
  _Bagous sellatus_                 1
  _Anthonomus sycophanta_           1
  _Conotrachelus posticatus_        2
  _Acalles clavatus_                1
  _Acalles_ sp                      1
  _Cryptorhynchus ferratus_         1
  _Sphenophorus melanocephalus_     1

  HEMIPTERA.

  _Tibicen septendecem_             1
  _Nezara hilaris_                  1


_Vegetable food._--A few _Rubus_ seeds were recorded as cultivated
fruit, but they were found in only two stomachs and probably were
wild, as the gray-cheeked thrush does not live where it is likely to
come in contact with cultivated blackberries or raspberries. In any
case they amount to only 0.15 per cent. Wild fruits of 18 different
species (23.98 per cent) make up nearly one-fourth of the whole
food--in fact, the vegetable food, other than wild fruit, is
insignificant. Wild berries supplement the regular food, which
consists of insects and spiders.

The following list shows the fruits and seeds identified and the
number of stomachs in which found:


  False spikenard (_Smilacina racemosa_)         1
  Greenbrier berries (_Smilax_ sp.)              2
  Bayberries (_Myrica carolinensis_)             1
  Poke berries (_Phytolacca decandra_)           2
  Crab apples (_Pyrus_ sp.)                      1
  Wild black cherries (_Prunus serotina_)        5
  Blackberries or raspberries (_Rubus_ sp.)      2
  Sumac berries (_Rhus_ sp.)                     1
  Black-alder berries (_Ilex verticillata_)      1
  Wild grapes (_Vitis_ sp.)                      5
  Wild sarsaparilla (_Aralia_ sp.)               1
  Flowering dogwood (_Cornus florida_)           5
  Rough-leaved dogwood (_Cornus asperifolia_)    2
  White cornel (_Cornus candidissima_)           1
  Dogwood (_Cornus_ sp.)                         1
  Sour gum (_Nyssa sylvatica_)                   2
  Black nightshade (_Solanum nigrum_)            1
  Dockmackie (_Viburnum acerifolium_)            1
  Arrowwood (_Viburnum_ sp.)                     1
  Elderberries (_Sambucus canadensis_)           3
  Fruit not further identified                   6


_Summary._--In the food of the gray-cheeked thrush the only useful
element is a small percentage (2.83) of useful beetles. The remainder
of the animal food is composed of either harmful or neutral elements.
The vegetable food, drawn entirely from nature's great storehouse,
contains no product of human industry, either of grain or fruit.
Whatever the sentimental reasons for protecting this bird, the
economic ones are equally valid.



OLIVE-BACKED AND RUSSET-BACKED THRUSHES.

(_Hylocichla ustulata swainsoni_ and _Hylocichla ustulata ustulata_.)


The olive-backed thrush and its relative, the russet-backed, occupy
the whole of the United States at some time during the year. The
olive-back breeds north of our northern border, except in the higher
mountains, and the russet-back on the Pacific coast nests as far south
as southern California. The habits of birds of this species resemble
those of others of the genus in living in swamps and woodlands rather
than in gardens and orchards. The russet-back on the Pacific coast,
however, seems to have become quite domestic, and wherever a stream
runs through or past an orchard or garden, or the orchard is near
thick chaparral, this bird is sure to be found taking its toll of the
fruit and rearing its young in the thicket beside the stream. During
the cherry season it takes a liberal share of the fruit, but its
young, then in the nest, are fed almost entirely on insects. The
eastern subspecies, on the contrary, does not come in contact with
domestic fruit or any other product of husbandry. A great number of
the subspecies nest far north of the region of fruit raising.

For this investigation 403 stomachs of the olive-backed thrush were
available, collected in 25 States, the District of Columbia, and
Canada. Florida, Louisiana, and Texas represent the most southern
collections and New Brunswick, Ontario, and Northwest Territory the
most northern. In California 157 stomachs were obtained, which, with
those taken in Oregon and Washington, fairly represent the Pacific
coast region. The whole collection was fairly well distributed over
the nine months from March to November. The food consisted of 63.52
per cent of animal matter to 36.48 per cent of vegetable.

_Animal food._--Beetles of all kinds amount to 16.29 per cent. Of
these 3.14 per cent are the useful Carabidæ. The others belong to
harmful or neutral families. Weevils or snout-beetles (Rhynchophora)
amount to 5.29 per cent, a high percentage for such insects. One
Colorado potato beetle (_Leptinotarsa decemlineata_) was found in a
stomach taken on Long Island. Hymenoptera collectively aggregate 21.50
per cent. Of these, 15.20 per cent are ants--a favorite food of
_Hylocichla_. The remainder (6.30 per cent) were wild bees and wasps.
No honeybees were found. Caterpillars, which rank next in importance
in the food of the olive-back, form a good percentage of the food of
every month represented and aggregate 10.30 per cent for the season.

Grasshoppers are not an important element in the food of thrushes, as
they chiefly inhabit open areas, while _Hylocichla_ prefers thick damp
cover, where grasshoppers are not found. An inspection of the record
shows that most of the orthopterous food taken by the olive-back
consists of crickets, whose habits are widely different from those of
grasshoppers, and which are found under stones, old logs, or dead
herbage. The greatest quantity is taken in August and September. The
average for the season is 2.42 per cent.

Diptera (flies) reach the rather surprisingly large figure of 6.23 per
cent. These insects are usually not eaten to any great extent except
by flycatchers and swallows, which take their food upon the wing. The
flies eaten by the olive-back are mostly crane flies (Tipulidæ) or
March flies (_Bibio_), both in the adult and larval state. Crane flies
are slow of wing and frequent shady places. The larvæ of both groups
are developed in moist ground, and often in colonies of several
hundred. With these habits it is not surprising that they fall an easy
prey to the thrushes.

Hemiptera (bugs), a small but rather constant element of the food,
were found in the stomachs collected every month, and in July reach
11.11 per cent. They were of the families of stinkbugs (Pentatomidæ),
shield bugs (Scutelleridæ), tree hoppers (Membracidæ), leaf hoppers
(Jassidæ), and cicadas. Some scales were found in one stomach. The
total for the season is 3.76 per cent. A few insects not included in
any of the foregoing categories make up 0.48 per cent of the food.
Spiders, with a few millipeds, amount to 2.22 per cent, the lowest
figure for this item of any bird of the genus _Hylocichla_. Snails,
sowbugs, angleworms, etc. (0.32 per cent), complete the animal food.

Following is a list of insects identified and the number of stomachs
in which found:


  HYMENOPTERA.

  _Camponotus pennsylvanicus_     1
  _Tiphia inornata_               1

  COLEOPTERA.

  _Cychrus nitidicollis_          1
  _Cychrus stenostomus_           1
  _Notiophilus æneus_             1
  _Pterostichus sayi_             1
  _Pterotichus lustrans_          1
  _Amara interstitialis_          1
  _Triæna longula_                1
  _Agonoderus pallipes_           1
  _Silpha ramosa_                 1
  _Staphylinus cinnamopterus_     1
  _Tachyporus californicus_       1
  _Chilocorus orbus_              1
  _Scymnus_ sp                    1
  _Hister americanus_             1
  _Ips quadriguttatus_            4
  _Cytilus sericeus_              1
  _Agriotes stabilis_             1
  _Podabrus flavicollis_          2
  _Podabrus modestus_             2
  _Silis lutea_                   1
  _Telephorus carolinus_          1
  _Telephorus bilineatus_         5
  _Telephorus divisus_            2
  _Onthophagus hecate_            1
  _Onthophagus striatulus_        1
  _Onthophagus tuberculifrons_    2
  _Onthophagus_ sp                4
  _Atænius abditus_               1
  _Aphodius hamatus_              1
  _Aphodius fimetarius_           6
  _Aphodius inquinatus_           7
  _Aphodius_ sp                   6
  _Geotrupes_ sp                  1
  _Dichelonycha elongata_         2
  _Lachnosterna hirticula_        1
  _Lachnosterna_ sp              12
  _Anomala undulata_              1
  _Anomala_ sp                    1
  _Euphoria fulgida_              1
  _Donacia emarginata_            1
  _Hæmonia nigricornis_           1
  _Syneta pallida_                1
  _Leptinotarsa decemlineata_     1
  _Gastroidea_ sp                 1
  _Galerucella decora_            1
  _Diabrotica soror_              1
  _Diabrotica_ sp                 1
  _Gonioctena pallida_            1
  _Luperodes bivittatus_          1
  _Opatrinus notus_               1
  _Blapstinus metallicus_         1
  _Blapstinus mæstus_             1
  _Blapstinus_ sp                 1
  _Otiorhynchus ovatus_           1
  _Thinoxenus_ sp                 1
  _Cercopeus chrysorrhæus_        1
  _Barypithes pellucidus_         1
  _Sitones flavescens_            1
  _Sitones_ sp                    1
  _Phytonomus punctatus_          2
  _Pachylobius picivorus_         1
  _Conotrachelus posticatus_      1
  _Micromastus elegans_           1
  _Acalles clavatus_              1
  _Cryptorhynchus bisignatus_     1
  _Rhinoncus pyrrhopus_           1
  _Balaninus_ sp                  3
  _Sphenophorus parvulus_         1
  _Sphenophorus_ sp               1
  _Scolytus muticus_              1

  LEPIDOPTERA.

  _Edema albifrons_               1

  TRICHOPTERA.

  _Phryganea californica_         1

  HEMIPTERA.

  _Myodocha serripes_             1
  _Sinea diadema_                 1


This list of insects contains a considerable number of injurious
species and some that at various times and places have become decided
pests. Such are the Colorado potato beetle (_Leptinotarsa
decemlineata_), the spotted squash beetle (_Diabrotica soror_), the
cloverleaf weevil (_Phytonomus punctatus_), and the various species of
_Lachnosterna_, the parent of the destructive white grubs. Many others
are plant feeders and may increase to such an extent as to inflict
great damage upon agriculture.

_Vegetable food._--The vegetable food of the olive-backed thrush
consists of small fruit. The bird has a weak bill and can not break
through the tough skin of the larger kinds. In the cherry orchards of
California the writer many times observed the western subspecies of
this bird, the russet-back, on the ground pecking at cherries that had
been bitten open and dropped by linnets and grosbeaks. Blackberries
and raspberries have a very delicate skin and are successfully managed
by weak-billed birds, so that all the records of domestic fruit eaten
by the eastern form relate to these berries, and it is probable that
in most cases the fruit was not cultivated. The total of cultivated
fruit for the season is 12.63 per cent of the whole food, but if we
consider the eastern subspecies alone this item would practically
disappear. Wild fruit (19.73 per cent) is eaten regularly and in a
goodly quantity in every month after April. Weed seeds and a few
miscellaneous items of vegetable food (4.04 per cent) close the
account.

Following is a list of vegetable foods so far as identified and the
number of stomachs in which found.


  White cedar seeds (_Thuja occidentalis_)           1
  Red cedar berries (_Juniperus communis_)           2
  False Solomon's seal (_Smilacina trifolia_)        3
  Greenbrier (_Smilax tamnifolia_)                   1
  Cat brier (_Smilax_ sp.)                           1
  Hackberry (_Celtis occidentalis_)                  3
  Mulberry (_Morus_ sp.)                             2
  Fig (_Ficus_ sp.)                                  3
  Pale persicaria (_Polygonum lapathifolium_)        1
  Poke berries (_Phytolacca decandra_)               9
  Mountain ash (_Pyrus americana_)                   1
  Service berries (_Amelanchier_ sp.)                1
  Blackberries or raspberries (_Rubus_ sp.)         67
  Rose haws (_Rosa_ sp.)                             1
  Wild black cherries (_Prunus serotina_)           15
  Bird cherries (_Prunus Pennsylvanica_)             2
  Domestic cherries (_Prunus cerasus_)              29
  Domestic plum (_Prunus domestica_)                 2
  Apricot (_Prunus armeniaca_)                       3
  Filaree (_Erodium_ sp.)                            1
  Poison oak (_Rhus diversiloba_)                    4
  Staghorn sumac (_Rhus hirta_)                      2
  Dwarf sumac (_Rhus copallina_)                     3
  Other sumac (_Rhus_ sp.)                           4
  Pepper tree (_Schinus molle_)                      1
  American holly (_Ilex opaca_)                      1
  Black alder (_Ilex verticillata_)                  1
  Coffee berries (_Rhamnus californicus_)            3
  Woodbine (_Psedera quinquefolia_)                 10
  Frost grape (_Vitis cordifolia_)                   6
  Spikenard (_Aralia racemosa_)                      2
  Flowering dogwood (_Cornus florida_)               7
  Kinnikinnik (_Cornus amomum_)                      2
  Red osier (_Cornus stolonifera_)                   1
  Panicled cornel (_Cornus paniculata_)              3
  Dogwood unidentified (_Cornus_ sp.)                6
  Huckleberries (_Gaylussacia_ sp.)                  1
  Three-flowered nightshade (_Solanum triflorum_)    1
  Nightshade unidentified (_Solanum_ sp.)            8
  Black twinberries (_Lonicera involucrata_)         2
  Honeysuckle berries (_Lonicera_ sp.)               2
  Snowberries (_Symphoricarpos racemosus_)           2
  Dockmackie (_Viburnum acerifolium_)                1
  Arrowwood (_Viburnum_ sp.)                         1
  Black elderberries (_Sambucus canadensis_)         6
  Red elderberries (_Sambucus pubens_)               5
  Blue elderberries (_Sambucus glauca_)             15
  Tarweed (_Madia_ sp.)                              1
  Fruit pulp not further identified                 17


_Food of young of russet-backed thrush._--Before concluding the
discussion of this species it will be of interest to note the results
obtained from an investigation of stomachs of 25 nestlings of the
russet-back taken in June and July when the birds were from two to
eleven days old. These were from eight broods, ranging from three to
five nestlings to the brood. The percentage of animal food of the
young (92.60 per cent) is considerably higher than that of the parent
birds.

The distribution of the animal food is as follows: Caterpillars were
found in every stomach but seven and aggregated nearly 27 per cent;
beetles, including the useful Carabidæ (7.7 per cent), are irregularly
distributed to the extent of 22 per cent; other more or less harmful
species included five families of (Hemiptera) bugs, 13.8 per cent,
viz, stinkbugs, leaf hoppers, tree hoppers, shield bugs, and cicadas;
ants and a few other Hymenoptera amount to 12 per cent, and spiders
the same. These latter were mostly harvestmen or daddy longlegs
(Phalangidæ). The remainder (6 per cent) included a few miscellaneous
insects. Only three stomachs contained remains of grasshoppers.
Carabid beetles were eaten by the young birds to the extent of 7.7 per
cent, which is more than three times the amount eaten by the adults, a
remarkable fact when is considered that these insects are very hard
shelled, thus seemingly unsuited for young birds.

The vegetable food consisted of fruit (6.8 per cent), mainly
blackberries or raspberries, found in 11 stomachs, and twinberries in
1, and two or three other items, including a seed of filaree and some
rubbish. From the irregular variety of food in the different stomachs,
it would seem that the parents make little selection, but fill the
gaping mouths of their young with the nearest obtainable supply.

In addition to the examination of stomach contents of nestlings two
nests were carefully and regularly watched, and from these it was
determined that the parent birds fed each nestling 48 times in 14
hours of daylight. This means 144 feedings as a day's work for the
parents for a brood of three nestlings, and that each stomach was
filled to its full capacity several times daily, an illustration that
the digestion and assimilation of birds, especially the young, are
constant and very rapid. Experiments in raising young birds have
proved that they thrive best when fed small quantities at short
intervals rather than greater quantities at longer periods. Aside from
the insects consumed by the parents, a brood of three young birds will
thus each require the destruction of at least 144 insects in a day and
probably a very much greater number.

_Summary._--In a résumé of the food of the olive-backed and
russet-backed thrushes one is impressed with the fact that they come
in contact with the products of industry but rarely. The olive-back's
food habits infringe upon the dominion of man but little. The bird
lives among men, but not with them. The western form, the russet-back,
comes more into relations with the cultivated products because it
visits orchards and partakes freely of the fruit. Even then the damage
is slight, as much of the fruit eaten is that fallen to the ground.
Moreover, while the adult bird is feeding upon fruit a nestful of
young are being reared upon insects which must be largely taken from
the orchard, thus not only squaring the account but probably
overbalancing it in favor of the farmer.



HERMIT THRUSHES.

(_Hylocichla guttata_ subspp.)


The hermit thrush of the subspecies _H. g. pallasi_ inhabits the
Eastern States in winter as far north as Massachusetts and breeds from
the mountains of Maryland and Pennsylvania and from northern Michigan
and central Minnesota northward to Alaska. Several other subspecies
occupy the Pacific coast region in suitable localities--that is, in
the higher and more wooded sections, as this bird, like all of the
genus _Hylocichla_, does not live in treeless or arid regions. In the
East the bird is a late fall migrant and may often be seen sitting
silent and alone on a branch in the forest in late October or even in
November, when the great army of migrants have passed on to the South.
While a beautiful songster, the species is so quiet and unobtrusive
that by sight it is entirely unknown to many.

Inquiry into the food habits of this bird covered 551 stomachs,
collected in 29 States, the District of Columbia, and Canada, and
representing every month of the year, though all the stomachs taken in
winter were collected in the Southern States, the District of
Columbia, and California. In the primary analysis the food was found
to consist of 64.51 per cent of animal matter to 35.49 per cent of
vegetable. The former is mostly composed of insects with some spiders,
while the latter is largely fruit, chiefly wild species.

_Animal food._--Beetles constitute 15.13 per cent of the food. Of
these 2.98 per cent are of the useful family, Carabidæ. The remainder
are mostly harmful. Scarabæidæ, the larvæ of which are the white grubs
that destroy the roots of so many plants, were eaten to the extent of
3.44 per cent. Snout beetles, among the most harmful of insects, were
taken to the extent of 3.13 per cent. Among these was the notorious
plum curculio (_Conotrachelus nenuphar_) found in two stomachs taken
in the District of Columbia in April of different years. Two other
species of the same genus also were found, as well as the clover
weevil (_Epicærus imbricatus_). The Colorado potato beetle
(_Leptinotarsa decemlineata_) and the striped squash beetle
(_Diabrotica vittata_), with a number of other species of less
notoriety, were found in several stomachs. Thus, in spite of the
bird's retiring habits, it comes in contact with some of the pests of
cultivation.


  [Illustration:
                                       B2085-73

  Fig. 2.--Hermit thrush (_Hylocichla guttata_).]


The ants destroyed--12.46 per cent of the food--keep up the reputation
of thrushes as ant eaters. They were taken constantly every month,
with the greatest number from May to September; a falling off in July
is partly accounted for by the fact that more fruit is taken in that
month. Other Hymenoptera (bees and wasps) were eaten to the extent of
5.41 per cent, a surprising amount for a bird that feeds so largely
upon the ground, as these insects are usually of fleet wing and live
in sunshine and open air.

Caterpillars, eaten in every month and mostly in goodly quantities,
appear to be a favorite food of the hermit thrush. December is the
month of least consumption (2.75 per cent), while the most were eaten
in June (17.08 per cent). The average for the year is 9.54 per cent.
Hemiptera (bugs) seem to be eaten whenever found, as they appear in
the food of every month, but rather irregularly and not in large
quantities. The greatest consumption was in June (9.17 per cent), but
July, September, and December show the least (less than 1 per cent).
The total for the year is 3.63 per cent. Of the six families
represented, the Pentatomidæ, or stink bugs, predominate. These highly
flavored insects are eaten by most insectivorous birds often, but
usually in small quantities.

Diptera (flies) comprise 3.02 per cent of the food of the hermit
thrush. The record shows, however, that nearly all of them are either
crane flies (Tipulidæ) and their eggs and larvæ, or March flies
(_Bibio_) and their larvæ. Over 150 of the latter were found in one
stomach. Both of these families of flies lay their eggs in the ground,
which accounts for their consumption by ground-feeding birds.
Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets) are eaten by the hermit thrush
to the extent of 6.32 per cent of its food. While this figure is not
remarkable, it is the highest for any of the genus. These birds are
fond of dark moist nooks among trees and bushes and do not feed
extensively in those dry sunshiny places so much frequented by
grasshoppers. A close inspection of the food record shows that the
Orthoptera eaten by the thrushes are mostly crickets, which live in
shadier and moister places than those where grasshoppers abound. A few
miscellaneous insects (0.27 per cent) close the insect account.
Spiders and myriapods (7.47 per cent) seem to constitute a very
acceptable article of diet, as they amount to a considerable
percentage in nearly every month, and in May rise to 20.79 per cent. A
few miscellaneous animals, as sowbugs, snails, and angleworms, make up
the balance of the animal food (1.26 per cent).

Following is a list of insects so far as identified and the number of
stomachs in which found:


  HYMENOPTERA.

  _Tiphia inornata_                        2

  COLEOPTERA.

  _Elaphrus_ sp                            1
  _Notiophilus semistriatus_               1
  _Scarites subterraneus_                  1
  _Dyschirius pumilis_                     1
  _Pterostichus patruelis_                 1
  _Pterostichus_ sp                        1
  _Amara_ sp                               1
  _Chlænius pennsylvanicus_                2
  _Stenolophus_ sp                         1
  _Anisodactylus agilis_                   1
  _Tropisternus limbalis_                  2
  _Hydrocharis obtusatus_                  1
  _Sphæridium lecontei_                    1
  _Ptomaphagus consobrinus_                1
  _Anisotoma valida_                       1
  _Megilla maculata_                       1
  _Anatis 15-maculata_                     1
  _Psyllobora tædata_                      1
  _Brachycantha ursina_                    1
  _Endomychus biguttatus_                  1
  _Cryptophagus_ sp                        1
  _Hister marginicollis_                   1
  _Hister americanus_                      1
  _Saprinus fimbriatus_                    1
  _Carpophilus hemipterus_                 1
  _Perthalycra murrayi_                    1
  _Ips quadriguttatus_                     3
  _Cytilus sericeus_                       2
  _Cytilus_ sp                             1
  _Byrrhus kirbyi_                         1
  _Byrrhus cyclophorus_                    1
  _Cryptohypnus bicolor_                   2
  _Drasterius dorsalis_                    1
  _Dolopius lateralis_                     1
  _Melanotus_ sp                           2
  _Podabrus tomentosus_                    1
  _Canthon_ sp                             1
  _Onthophagus tuberculifrons_             1
  _Onthophagus_ sp                         3
  _Ægialia lacustris_                      1
  _Rhyssemus scaber_                       1
  _Atænius abditus_                        1
  _Atænius cognatus_                       1
  _Atænius_ sp                             1
  _Aphodius fimetarius_                   11
  _Aphodius granarius_                     1
  _Aphodius rugifrons_                     1
  _Aphodius inquinatus_                    9
  _Aphodius pardalis_                      1
  _Aphodius prodromus_                     4
  _Aphodius crassiusculus_                 1
  _Aphodius_ sp                           11
  _Geotrupes semipunctata_                 1
  _Dichelonycha_ sp                        1
  _Lachnosterna_ sp                       17
  _Chrysomela pulchra_                     3
  _Lema nigrovittata_                      1
  _Chlamys plicata_                        1
  _Myochrous denticollis_                  2
  _Xanthonia 10-notata_                    1
  _Calligrapha scalaris_                   1
  _Leptinotarsa decemlineata_              1
  _Phædon viridis_                         1
  _Diabrotica vittata_                     1
  _Odontota rubra_                         1
  _Odontota_ sp                            1
  _Haltica torquata_                       1
  _Crepidodera helxines_                   1
  _Syneta ferruginea_                      1
  _Systena elongata_                       1
  _Chætocnema pulicaria_                   1
  _Psylliodes punctulata_                  1
  _Chelymorpha cribraria_                  1
  _Opatrinus notus_                        1
  _Opatrinus aciculatus_                   1
  _Blapstinus metallicus_                  1
  _Blapstinus rufipes_                     1
  _Salpingus virescens_                    1
  _Anthicus pubescens_                     1
  _Notoxus monodon_                        1
  _Notoxus denudatum_                      1
  _Notoxus_ sp                             1
  _Attelabus rhois_                        1
  _Rhigopsis effracta_                     1
  _Cercopeus chrysorrhœus_                 4
  _Pandetetejus hilaris_                   1
  _Barypithes pellucidus_                  1
  _Sitones hispidulus_                     4
  _Sitones flavescens_                     1
  _Trichalophus alternatus_                1
  _Apion_ sp                               1
  _Listronotus latiusculus_                1
  _Listronotus inæqualipennis_             1
  _Listronotus_ sp                         1
  _Macrops_ sp                             2
  _Smicronyx corniculatus_                 1
  _Trachodes ptinoides_                    1
  _Conotrachelus nenuphar_                 2
  _Conotrachelus posticatus_               5
  _Conotrachelus erinaceus_                1
  _Rhinoncus pyrrhopus_                    1
  _Onychobaris insidiosus_                 1
  _Balaninus nasicus_                      1
  _Balaninus_ sp                           1
  _Sphenophorus parvulus_                  1
  _Sphenophorus_ sp                        1
  _Dendroctonus terebrans_                 1

  HEMIPTERA.

  _Podops cinctipes_                       1
  _Nezara hilaris_                         6
  _Arhaphe cicindeloides_                  1
  _Corimelæna denudata_                    1
  _Myodocha serripes_                      2

  ORTHOPTERA.

  _Amblycorypha rotundifolia_              1
  _Œcanthus niveus_                        1


_Vegetable food._--The vegetable diet of the hermit thrush consists
largely of fruit, as with most birds of this group. As might be
expected of a bird of such retiring habits, but little of the fruit
eaten can be classed as cultivated. In September 5.45 per cent was so
considered, but in most months the quantity was small, and in March,
April, and May was completely wanting. The total for the year as found
in 17 stomachs is 1.20 per cent. One stomach contained strawberries,
one grapes, one figs, one currants, two apples, and the rest _Rubus_
fruit, i. e., blackberries or raspberries. These last as well as the
strawberries were probably wild. Of the wild fruit (26.19 per cent) 46
species were identified with a reasonable degree of certainty in 243
stomachs. A few seeds, ground-up vegetable matter not further
identified, and rubbish make up the rest of the vegetable food (8.10
per cent). Among the seeds were some of the various species of
poisonous _Rhus_. These were found in 18 stomachs, mostly from
California. The dissemination of these seeds is unfortunate from the
standpoint of husbandry, but many birds engage in it, as the waxy
coating of the seeds is nutritious, especially in winter, when fruit
and insects are not easily obtainable.

Following is a list of the components of the vegetable food so far as
identified, and the number of stomachs in which found:


  Cedar berries (_Juniperus virginiana_)           2
  False Solomon's seal (_Smilacina racemosa_)      4
  False spikenard (_Smilacina_ sp.)                1
  Greenbrier (_Smilax walteri_)                    2
  Cat brier (_Smilax bona-nox_)                    2
  Laurel-leaved greenbrier (_Smilax laurifolia_)   1
  Other greenbriers (_Smilax_ sp.)                11
  Wax myrtle (_Myrica cerifera_)                   1
  Bayberries (_Myrica carolinensis_)               7
  Chinquapin (_Castanea pumila_)                   1
  Western hackberries (_Celtis occidentalis_)      5
  Other hackberries (_Celtis_ sp.)                 3
  Figs (_Ficus_ sp.)                               1
  Mulberries (_Morus_ sp.)                         1
  Mistletoe berries (_Phoradendron villosum_)      2
  Poke berries (_Phytolacca decandra_)            16
  Miner's lettuce (_Montia perfoliata_)            1
  Sassafras berries (_Sassafras varifolium_)       2
  Spice berries (_Benzoin æstivale_)               1
  Currants (_Ribes_ sp.)                           3
  Sweet gum (_Liquidambar styraciflua_)            2
  Chokeberries (_Pyrus arbutifolia_)               1
  Service berries (_Amelanchier canadensis_)       9
  Hawthorn (_Cratægus_ sp.)                        1
  Strawberries (_Fragaria_ sp.)                    1
  Blackberries or raspberries (_Rubus_ sp.)        5
  Rose haws (_Rosa_ sp.)                           1
  Wild black cherries (_Prunus scrotina_)          3
  Three-seeded mercury (_Acalypha virginica_)      1
  Staghorn sumach (_Rhus typhina_)                 5
  Smooth sumach (_Rhus glabra_)                    5
  Dwarf sumach (_Rhus copallina_)                  7
  Poison ivy (_Rhus radicans_)                     3
  Poison oak (_Rhus diversiloba_)                 15
  Laurel-leaved sumach (_Rhus laurina_)            2
  Other sumachs (_Rhus_ sp.)                      12
  Pepper berries (_Schinus molle_)                15
  American holly (_Ilex opaca_)                    9
  Black alder (_Ilex verticillata_)               12
  Ink berries (_Ilex glabra_)                      9
  Other hollies (_Ilex_ sp.)                       7
  Strawberry bush (_Euonymus americanus_)          1
  Roxbury waxwork (_Celastrus scandens_)           1
  Supple-Jack (_Berchemia volubilis_)              2
  Coffee berries (_Rhamnus californicus_)          1
  Woodbine (_Psedera quinquefolia_)               10
  Frost grapes (_Vitis cordifolia_)                2
  Wild grapes (_Vitis_ sp.)                        1
  Wild sarsaparilla (_Aralia nudicaulis_)          1
  Flowering dogwood (_Cornus florida_)            32
  Rough-leaved dogwood (_Cornus asperifolia_)      2
  Black gum (_Nyssa sylvatica_)                    2
  Checkerberry (_Gaultheria procumbens_)           1
  Huckleberries (_Gaylussacia_ sp.)                1
  Blueberries (_Vaccinium_ sp.)                   12
  Black nightshade (_Solanum nigrum_)              4
  Bittersweet (_Solanum_ sp.)                      4
  Goose grass (_Galium aparine_)                   1
  Honeysuckle (_Lonicera_ sp.)                     2
  Indian currant (_Symphoricarpos orbiculatus_)    1
  Downy arrowwood (_Viburnum pubescens_)           1
  Nanny berries (_Viburnum lentago_)               2
  Black elderberries (_Sambucus canadensis_)       4
  Red elderberries (_Sambucus pubens_)             3
  Fruit not further identified                    60


In looking over this list one is impressed with the fact that the
taste of human beings for fruit differs markedly from that of birds.
For example, _Rhus_ seeds are hard and have little pulp to render them
palatable or nutritious. They are usually passed through the
alimentary canal of birds or regurgitated unharmed, and the slight
outer coating alone is digested. In the case of the poisonous species,
this outer coating is a white wax or tallow which appears to be very
nutritious, for these species are eaten much more extensively than the
nonpoisonous ones. The seed itself is rarely broken in the stomach to
get any nutriment it may contain. But in spite of these facts _Rhus_
seeds were found in 49 stomachs, while fruits of huckleberries and
blueberries, which are delicious to the human taste, were found in
only 13 stomachs; and blackberries and raspberries, highly esteemed by
man, were found in only 5 stomachs. Next to _Rhus_ the fruit most
eaten was the dogwood berry, found in 34 stomachs, yet from a human
estimate these berries are distasteful and contain such large seeds
that they afford but very little actual food.

_Summary._--The hermit thrush, as it name indicates, is of solitary
habits and neither seeks human companionship nor molests cultivated
products. It destroys nothing indirectly helpful to man, as beneficial
insects, but aids in the destruction of the myriad hosts of insect
life which at all times threaten vegetation. While it is not easy to
point out any especially useful function of the hermit thrush, it
fills its place in the economy of nature, from which it should not be
removed.



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               OF THIS PUBLICATION MAY BE PROCURED FROM
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       *       *       *       *       *       *       *


  Transcriber's Notes

  The text presented is essentially that in the original printed
  document with the exception of some minor punctuation changes and
  the three typographical corrections detailed below. The original
  version also had two copies of the Table of Contents. The second
  copy which appeared on Page 1 was removed.  Many of the tables
  which were presented in a two-column format and sometimes split
  between two pages were reformatted into one long table.


  Typographical Corrections

    Page 1  : thrust     => thrush
    Page 10 : COLEOFTERA => COLEOPTERA
      "     : Cormybites => Corymbites


       *       *       *       *       *       *       *





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